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Monday, July 13, 2009

High Stakes: A Call to Legalize Marijuana

California Desperately Needs Tax Revenue, Prompting Some to See Green in Making Grass Legal

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(CBS) A high-stakes political battle is underway in the cash-strapped state of California. At issue is the narrowly-defined liberty people have there to grow and sell a certain plant . . . and the desire of some folks to have the state government TAX it. John Blackstone reports our Cover Story:

In Oakland, Calif., Richard Lee runs a string of businesses, from coffee shops to glass blowing that are helping revitalize the once-decaying downtown.

But Lee's business empire is built on an unusual foundation: Selling marijuana

In the back of his Blue Sky Coffee Shop there's a steady stream of cash buyers, and not just for coffee.

"In the front you get the coffee and pastries, and in the back you get the cannabis," Lee said.

A salesman told customers, "You're welcome to pull the bags out and smell the herb as you like."

What's going on here is illegal under federal law, but permitted under California law that since 1996 has allowed marijuana for medical use.

A dozen other states have similar laws. One customer named Charles said pot is exactly what his doctor ordered.

"So that's what relieves my anxiety and allows me to cope and feel good," he said.

Lee has dubbed his Oakland neighborhood "Oaksterdam" . . . with a nod to Amsterdam and its liberal drug laws. His goal is to make this a tourist destination, with marijuana its main attraction.

"Does that worry people around here?" asked Blackstone.

"No, people around here love it 'cause they see how much we've improved the neighborhood," Lee said.

Next door to where Lee sells marijuana, Gertha Hays sells clothes. She says the dispensary brings people from all walks of life. "There's no particular pothead," she said, "so everyone comes over there."

"So these aren't just druggies in there?" Blackstone asked.

"No, not at all. If you look and see who comes up and down thethe block you'll see it's so diverse," Hays said.

Part of the Oaksterdam neighborhood is a nursery growing a cash crop: Medical marijuana is now estimated to be a $2 to 3 billion business in California.

"Yeah, there's a lot of people making a lot of money," lee said.

(CBS)
There are now several hundred medical marijuana dispensaries in California . . . and much more marijuana being sold on the street.

"We estimate, overall, [the] California cannabis industry is in the neighborhood of around $15 billion," lee said.

While there is disagreement over the real size of the marijuana market it's big enough to have captured the attention of lawmakers trying to fill a huge hole in the state budget.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano is pushing legislation to legalize pot so the state can inhale new taxes.

"I thought it was high time, no pun intended, for this to be on the table," Ammiano said. "I'm trying to beat everybody to the punch with the jokes, because I get a lot of 'em," he laughed.

There are many who ridicule the idea, but the state tax board estimates Ammiano's proposed tax of $50 an ounce could bring in $1.5 to 2 billion a year.

"We find that highly unlikely," said Rosalie Pacula, of the Rand Drug Policy Research Center. She says California is likely to be disappointed by the revenue raised on marijuana that now sells for about $150 an ounce.

"If you try to impose a tax that is that high, you have absolutely no incentive for the black market to disappear," she said. "There is complete profit motive for them to actually stay."

The tax proposal, though, has started an unusual political discussion. According to one poll, 56 percent of California voters say marijuana should be legalized and taxed. Even California's Republican governor has not snuffed out talk of legalization.

"No, I think it's not time for that, but I think it's time for debate," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said. "All of those ideas for creating extra revenues, I'm always for an open debate on it."


Check out reports on the debate over legalization in CBSNews.com's special section "Marijuana Nation."


Of course, Governor Schwarzenegger, from his earlier life, does have some experience . . .

. . . as does the president himself.

"I inhaled, frequently," Mr. Obama admitted on the campaign trail, in a nod to President Bill Clinton's earlier quasi-admission. "That was the point."

And while the president says he is opposed to legalizing pot ("No, I don't think that is a good strategy to grow our economy"), his administration has ordered the DEA to stop raiding state-approved medical marijuana dispensaries.

It's a big change from decades of viewing the plant as the indisputable evil portrayed in the 1936 film "Reefer Madness."

But that old image has been going up in smoke for decades.

It was along for the trip in 1969 in the movie "Easy Rider," and on the cover of Life Magazine. On TV today it's just a part of suburban life in the series "Weeds."

And then there's the growing recognition of marijuana as medicine.

"Marijuana has been a medicine for 5,000 years," said Dr. Donald Abrams of San Francisco General Hospital. "It's only for the last 70 years that it hasn't been a medicine in this country."

Dr. Abrams has been studying marijuana for twelve years and is convinced it is both effective and safe.

"I think marijuana is a very good medicine," he said. "I'm a cancer doctor. I take care every day of patients who have loss of appetite, nausea, pain, difficulty sleeping and depression. I have one medicine that can treat all of those symptoms, instead of five different medicines to which they may become addicted.

"And that one is marijuana, and they're not gonna become addicted to it?" Blackstone said.

"That's correct," said Dr. Abrams.

But those who have been fighting the war on drugs say that, just because marijuana may be medicine, that doesn't mean it should be legal.

"There's just no doubt about it that the drug cartels and the drug organizations are very much involved in the production and sale of marijuana, said Roy Wasden, police chief in Modesto, Calif., where a lot of marijuana is grown.

"You can be out walking through the national forest, and if you hike into one of these marijuana grows, you'll be at great risk," he said.

And drug fighters warn aging boomers that marijuana isn't the gentle weed they remember. Today's pot is a whole different kettle of fish

"The marijuana of the 1960s and Woodstock is not what's being sold on the streets in the United States today, said Chief Bernard Melekian, head of the California Police Chiefs Association. "The narcotic portion, the THC of marijuana in the '60s, hovered around one or two percent. THC today is around 27 to 30 percent.

"You have a very significantly different plant."

Teaching people to grow that plant is another one of Richard Lee's businesses.

Lee runs Oaksterdam University, where students also learn how to stay within the state's medical marijuana laws.

"So you can't plant those seeds until you know what the law is?" Blackstone asked.

"Right," said Lee. "Vote today and get high tonight."

Students like Darnell Blackman and Barbara Kramer see an opportunity to do good . . . and to do well . . . by growing marijuana.

"Just like aspirin or ibuprofen or any of those other medications, cannabis is just another way of helping people," said Blackman.

"I thought maybe there was some way that I could get in the ground floor, get ahead of the curve on where this industry might be going," said Kramer.

There are still plenty of obstacles before it's a legal industry. Chief Wasden says this is no time for a surrender in the war on drugs.

"Fewer kids are using drugs today," he said. "We're not losing the war on drugs. Kids are starting to understand the negative, negative consequences of drug abuse. Do we need to introduce another dependency-driven substance into our community when in fact we're making progress?"

But in the community now known as Oaksterdam, the drug warriors are nowhere to be seen . . . as a whole neighborhood goes to pot.


For more info:
  • Oaksterdam
  • California Police Chiefs Association
  • RAND Corporation
  • USCF Medical Center

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    Redneck Houseboat

    Pamplona runner is gored in the chest by a 1,268lb bull - and survives

    By Mail Foreign Service

    This is the terrifying moment a Pamplona reveller is tossed into the air and then gored by a rampaging bull.

    The man was caught in the chest and legs when the large bull became separated from the pack on the slippery cobblestone streets of Spain's Pamplona.

    The bull - a 1,268lb Miura - jerked the runner upward and then rolled him along the ground like a rag doll. Miuras are the largest and most famous of Spain's fighting bulls.

    A Miura fighting bull that became separated from the pack gores a runner during the sixth bull run of the San Fermin festival in Pamplona

    Terrifying: A Miura fighting bull that became separated from the pack gores a runner during the sixth bull run of the San Fermin festival in Pamplona

    The reveller was covered in blood and had his trousers torn off during the bull's wild attack.

    Screaming out in agony, the man was dragged away by two fellow runners before being rushed to hospital.

    The bull initially got a horn caught on a wooden barrier at a bend in the route, slipped and became embroiled in a three-animal pile-up before resuming its gallop.

    Bulls are at their most dangerous when the pack splits up, leaving individual animals disoriented and irritated by the large crowds traditionally clad in white, with red bandanna neckerchiefs and cummerbunds.

    The reveler is tossed to the ground as the bull's horns rips apart his trousers

    Mayhem: The reveler is tossed to the ground as the bull's horns rips apart his trousers

    The man's face says it all as the bull rams its horns into him, in Pamplona, Spain

    Horror: The man's face says it all as the bull rams its horns into him

    In other graphic images, one man was gored in the neck during the five-minute run on the sixth day of the running of the bulls at the San Fermin festival.

    Three other runners were also gored, while six received medical treatment for bruising.

    One man was hit hard on the chin and knocked unconscious by a calf inside the bullring after the running of the bulls had finished.

    It comes after a 27-year-old man was gored to death on Friday - the first fatality since 1995.

    The man is dragged away by a fellow runner as soon as the bull appears to back off

    Lucky escape: The man is dragged away by a fellow runner as soon as the bull appears to back off

    Spaniard Daniel Jimeno Romero was gored in the upper chest and neck and was declared dead shortly after reaching the hospital.

    Hundreds of revelers paid homage to Mr Romero by leaving traditional red neckerchiefs tied to wooden barriers at the spot where a bull gored him fatally in the upper chest and neck.

    For more than 100 years thrill-seekers have accompanied the bulls from a pen outside the city walls on a dangerous, daredevil run to the bullring. In the afternoon, the bulls face matadors and almost certain death.

    The pack races along the often damp cobblestone course accompanied by six steers, each with a large clanking bell around its neck, whose function is to try to keep the group trotting together.

    A runner (right) is gored in the neck by a Miura bull

    Dangerous: A runner (right) is gored in the neck by a Miura bull

    He requires urgent medical attention as blood pours from his nose and neck

    Treatment: He requires urgent medical attention as blood pours from his nose and neck

    The bulls running yesterday belonged to breeder Dolores Aguirre, famed for producing hefty, strong animals. The largest of the six animals weighed in at 1,378 pounds.

    Despite the large number of runners and the separation of one bull from the pack, all of Aguirre's animals entered the ring in 2 minutes, 52 seconds, a reasonably fast time.

    'I noticed the streets were swollen by a lot of runners,' said Jaime de Vargas, who had dedicated his run to fellow bull aficionado and friend Mr Romero.

    Researchers looking for 3-foot, spitting worm under Northwest fields

    By Nicholas K. Gereanios


    MOSCOW, Idaho — The giant Palouse earthworm has taken on mythic qualities in this vast agricultural region that stretches from eastern Washington into the Idaho panhandle — its very name evoking the fictional sandworms from "Dune" or those vicious creatures from the movie "Tremors."

    The worm is said to secrete a lily-like smell when handled, spit at predators, and live in burrows 15 feet deep. There have only been four sightings.

    But scientists hope to change that this summer with researchers scouring the Palouse regoin in hopes of finally finding the giant earthworm. Conservationists also want the Obama administration to protect it as an endangered species, even though there is scant scientific information about its existence.

    "It absolutely exists," insisted Jodi Johnson-Maynard, a University of Idaho professor who is leading the search for the worm.

    To prove it, she pulled out a glass tube containing the preserved remains of a fat, milky-white worm. One of Johnson-Maynard's graduate students found this specimen in 2005, and it is the only confirmed example of the species.

    The worm in the tube is about six inches long, well short of the 3 feet that early observers of the worms in the late 1890s described. Documented collections of the species, known locally as GPE, have occurred only in 1978, 1988, 1990 and 2005.

    The farmers who work the rich soil of the Palouse — two million acres of rolling wheat fields near the Idaho-Washington border south of Spokane — also haven't had much experience with the worm.

    Gary Budd, who manages a grain elevator in Uniontown, said no farmer he knows has talked about seeing the worm. He compared the creature to Elvis.

    "He gets spotted once in awhile too," Budd joked.

    Johnson-Maynard and her team of worm hunters are working this summer at a university research farm and using three different methods to try and find a living worm.

    One involves just digging a hole and sifting the soil through a strainer, looking for any worms that can be studied.

    The second involves old-fashioned chemical warfare, pouring a liquid solution of vinegar and mustard onto the ground, irritating worms until they come to the surface.

    The third method is new to this search, using electricity to shock worms to the surface.

    "The electro shocker is pretty cool," said Joanna Blaszczak, a student at Cornell who is spending her summer working to find the worm alongside Shan Xu, a graduate student from Chengdu, China, and support scientist Karl Umiker.

    The shocker can deliver up to 480 volts. That makes it dangerous to touch, and it could potentially fry a specimen.

    On a recent day, Umiker drove eight 3-foot long metal rods into the ground in a small circle and connected them to batteries. Then he flipped the switches. The only sound for several minutes was the hum of a cooling fan.

    "I'm kind of bummed we haven't seen anything yet," Umiker said.

    Eventually, a small rust-colored worm dug its way to the surface. It was not a GPE, but it was collected for study anyway.

    The GPE was described as common in the Palouse in the 1890s, according to an 1897 article in The American Naturalist by Frank Smith. Smith's work was based on four samples sent to him by R.W. Doane of Washington State University in nearby Pullman.

    Massive agricultural development soon consumed nearly all of the unique Palouse Prairie — a seemingly endless ocean of steep, silty dunes — and appeared to deal a fatal blow to the worm.

    They were considered extinct when Idaho graduate student Yaniria Sanchez-de Leon in 2005 stuck a shovel into the ground to collect a soil sample and found the worm that now is in the tube in Johnson-Maynard's office.

    Conservation groups quickly petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the worm as an endangered species, citing as proof the lack of sightings. But the agency said there simply was not enough scientific information to merit a listing.

    Conservationists recently filed a second request, saying they had more information. They are also hoping the Obama administration will be more friendly than the Bush administration. The GPE would be the only worm protected as an endangered species.

    Doug Zimmer of the Fish and Wildlife Service in Seattle said the agency isn't ready to comment on the petition.

    "It's always good to see new information and good science on any species," Zimmer said.

    Farmers are keeping a wary eye on the process.

    "The concern is whether a listing is going to end up curtailing farming activities," said Dan Wood of the Washington State Farm Bureau. "I dont know if people plan to stop all farming for the possibility of a worm being somewhere."

    Most earthworms found in the Northwest originated in Europe, arriving on plants or in soil shipped to the New World. The giant Palouse earthworm is one of the few native species, and has become quite popular with the public.

    While it's tough to come by a live one, visitors seem happy to take a picture with a dead one. Johnson-Maynard said she has received calls from tourists who want to come to her office and be photographed with the specimen.

    "A lot of people are curious about it," she said.

    ———

    On the Web:

    www.palouseprairie.org/invertebrates/palouseworm.html

    Mum and four daughters spend £40,000 on nine boob ops

    Chantal Marshall and four of her daughters have had NINE boob jobs between them, making them the British family to have had the most breast surgery – bra none!

    Marshall family (Pic:SM)

    They call their home Silicone City – and for good reason. Chantal Marshall and four of her daughters have had NINE boob jobs between them.

    That makes them the British family to have had the most breast surgery – bra, er, bar none.

    While most mums and their daughters enjoy shopping trips together, Chantal, 50, and her daughters have spent nearly £40,000 on visits to cosmetic surgeons to have their breasts enlarged.

    Ripley, 18, Tara, 22, Terri, 25, Emma, 28, and mum-of-nine Chantal, of Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Notts, now boast chest sizes ranging from 34DD to 32GG.

    On one occasion, Emma and Ripley even ended up having breast enhancement surgery on the same day and at the same clinic as their mum.

    Tara had booked her consultation aged 17 so she could have the op as soon as she reached the age of 18.

    The sisters – all with matching blonde hair just like their mum – say that like most siblings they have always copied each other.

    But they insist that when it comes their chest sizes, they aren’t at all competitive.

    They reckon their desire for bigger boobs was inspired by Chantal – who is often mistaken by strangers for their sister.

    Here they share their stories...

    Mum Chantal

    Age: 50; No of ops: 3; Spent: £13,500

    CARER and mum-of-nine Chantal is a petite Size 10 and was 34B before her first op. She is now a 34DD.

    She says: “Having nine children left my boobs looking like milk bottles. In 1996, after I had my seventh child, I had my first set of implants but I ended up even more unhappy.

    “They looked like balls in socks rather than the pert, round breasts I had imagined. I was quite traumatised. So when Emma said she was going to have a boob job I was terrified. But when I saw how great they looked it made me brave enough to consider having mine done again and in February 2004 I had them enlarged to 34DD.

    “Two years down the line I wanted to perk them up. So when Emma and my second youngest daughter Ripley said they were going to get theirs done I suggested we all went together.

    “My daughters say I inspired them to have boob jobs but I’ve got them to thank for encouraging me to get mine done again. There’s no mistaking the family resemblance – but now we’ve got the boobs to match too!”

    EMMA

    Age: 28; No of ops: 2; Spent: £9,500

    Emma is a beauty therapist and is a Size 12. Before her first enlargement she was a 34B. She is now a 34F.

    She says: “We all laugh it’s Silicone City round our house. It’s amazing we’re the family with the most boob jobs in Britain – and we’re all really happy with the results.

    “I first got my boobs done 10 years ago when I was just 18. I had a good figure but longed for more curves.

    “I’d look at Baywatch on TV and think ‘they look stunning’. Then I’d look in the mirror and imagine myself with a bigger pair.

    “I knew it would give me more confidence. So I got a loan and got my 34B cup enlarged to a D cup. I felt so much happier as they suited my curvy frame.

    “I didn’t have any problems but they say you should have implants replaced after 10 years, which is why I went under the knife again.

    I went for my second op with my mum and sister Ripley. “One of the first things we said when we came round from the anaesthetic was, ‘Let’s have a look at yours!’”

    RIPLEY

    Age: 18; No of ops: 1; Spent: £4,500

    Ripley, 18, fashion and design student and trained nail technician. She is a Size 8. Before surgery in March she was a 34C. She went up to a 34DD.

    She says: “I’m the youngest in our family to have a boob job. Some sisters are competitive – but I’m as delighted by my sisters’ and mum’s boob jobs as I am my own.

    “It’s brought us closer together – I couldn’t wait to get mine done.

    “Although I’m a Size 8 I don’t like the ironing board figure like Keira Knightley’s. I prefer the womanly curves of J-Lo. I’d buy bigger bras and then pad them out with chicken fillets and padding.

    “After seeing my sisters and the way they felt about having theirs done, I wanted to do the same.

    “I managed to save up half the money I needed and then got a loan.

    “Emma and I investigated on the internet and found surgeon Dr Hicham Mouallem at The Wimpole Clinic in London. He was brilliant.”

    TERRI

    Age: 25; No of ops: 1; Spent: £4,500

    Terri, 25, is a dancer and lives in Papplewick, Notts. She is a Size 10. Before her boob job she was a 32DD. She is now a 32GG.

    She says: “I once had a jokey argument with my sister Emma about who had the biggest boobs. But it was all friendly – there’s never been sibling rivalry as we’re very close.

    “I had my boob job after my sister Emma. When I saw hers I knew I had to go and get mine done. They looked amazing and I was so jealous.

    “I’ve always had quite big boobs but I wanted to go bigger. So I booked myself in with the same surgeon just one month later.

    “Some people might think I’m crazy but it’s what I wanted. I saved up and luckily my boyfriend Paul helped towards the cost.

    “I had no trepidations about going – I’d rather get my boobs done than go to the dentist. I’d hate to be flat-chested. Put it this way, if I was, I’d be putting 10 chicken fillets in my boobs and be wearing a jelly-bra.”

    TARA

    Age: 22; No of ops: 2; Spent: £8,000

    Tara, a receptionist, is a Size 10. Before her first boob job she was a 34A. She is now a 34E.

    She says: “Looks-wise my sisters and I share nearly everything. We’ve all got similar hair and facial features but when it came to boobs I was no way near as blessed.

    “I never got any bigger than an A-cup and my boobs looked like two little eggs. Everyone said I looked fine but I felt I looked pear-shaped.

    “I knew bigger boobs would make me happy but rather than getting upset about it, I decided that as soon as I was old enough I’d save up and have breast implants.

    “I managed to save up the money I needed and as soon as I was 17 I booked a consultation.

    “I had the op when I turned 18 and I was so excited that I almost fell off the hospital bed beforehand.

    “After I had my daughter in 2005 I decided to have them done again. I love the fake look so I decided to go for a 34E. I feel amazing.”

    Vocal Kitteh

    Tim WakeField: A Knuckleballer’s Winding Path

    BOSTON — The first baseman loved throwing knuckleballs. That was a problem for Stan Cliburn in his first managing job with the Watertown Pirates in upstate New York in 1988. Almost every day, Cliburn began fielding practice by reminding his first baseman to throw the ball straight.

    “I’d catch him throwing that knuckleball around the infield all the time,” Cliburn said. “I had to tell him we weren’t fooling around.”

    Eric Shelton/Associated Press

    Tim Wakefield, who pitches deep into games and succeeds with a pitch rarely thrown faster than 68 m.p.h., is a first-time All-Star at age 42.

    Tim Wakefield, the frolicking first baseman, tried to entertain teammates before Cliburn marched on the field. but he was perpetually caught fiddling with the pitch. Before long, Cliburn and others learned, Wakefield was not fooling around anymore.

    What started as an aimless way to toss a pitch that danced eventually became Wakefield’s vocation. He realized that a .189 batting average in his first season at Class A was going to make him an afterthought. By his second season, Wakefield had begun the transformation from a floundering hitter to an apprentice knuckleball pitcher.

    The transformation was steady, then superlative, then stagnant, then steady, remarkably steady, in the last 15 seasons with Boston. Wakefield has been a reliable back-of-the-rotation starter for the Red Sox, a solid pitcher who devours innings and succeeds with a pitch no faster than 68 miles per hour.

    And at the age of 42, after uncorking thousands of knuckleballs since his major league debut with Pittsburgh in 1992, Wakefield will make his first appearance at the All-Star Game on Tuesday in St. Louis. The knuckleball was a desperate way for him to prop up a teetering career. But he has used the pitch to tiptoe to 189 wins, to secure two World Series rings and to keep going and going.

    “It’s a pretty cool story,” Wakefield said. “It makes me understand how blessed I am to have had a second chance.”

    He said his selection for the All-Star team was his first since he was chosen for a travel squad in Florida as an 18-year-old. He is 11-3 to lead the American League in wins, but he also has a 4.31 earned run average, which is not in the league’s top 20. Still, Wakefield, who is the oldest first-time All-Star since Satchel Paige at 46 in 1952, said he valued innings pitched more than any other statistic.

    Wakefield was a phenomenal rookie who almost helped Barry Bonds and the Pirates reach the World Series in 1992. Three years later, his knuckleball had taken too many unexplained detours, so the Pirates released him. Wakefield was unemployed for six days before Boston signed him to a minor league contract.

    Since then, he has performed like a pitcher who punches a clock. Wakefield has started more games than any other pitcher in Red Sox history and has also been their closer.

    He gave up a devastating home run to the YankeesAaron Boone in the 2003 postseason. A year later, he saved the bullpen in a blowout Game 3 loss during the A.L. Championship Series, an unselfish move that helped the Red Sox as they rallied to stun the Yankees in seven games, then won their first World Series in 86 years.

    “Sometimes, pitchers drift into never-never land on the days they don’t start,” said Toronto’s Kevin Millar, Wakefield’s former teammate. “As a position player, you appreciate guys that are in the dugout when they’re not starting. Wakey was always there.”

    Wakefield’s achievements almost never happened. He homered in his first pro at-bat, which might have been the highlight of his hitting career. He was not immediately assigned to a minor league team by the Pirates in 1989, his second pro season, so he stayed at extended spring training. That can be a baseball wasteland.

    Fortunately for Wakefield, Woody Huyke, who managed the Gulf Coast League Pirates, spotted him flipping a knuckleball in the outfield on a steamy day in Sarasota, Fla. Huyke asked him to throw a few more. Then Huyke asked him to take the mound and float more pitches. Huyke studied the ball’s gyrations and locked that image into his memory.

    Elise Amendola/Associated Press

    “I had to do it or finish school and get a job,” Tim Wakefield said of developing his knuckleball.

    Peter R. Barber/Watertown Daily Times

    Tim Wakefield, as a first baseman with Class A Watertown, entertained teammates by tossing knuckleballs in fielding practice.

    John Swart/Associated Press

    As a rookie with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1992, Wakefield, with catcher Don Slaught, went 8-1.

    During an organizational meeting later that season, Huyke said, the Pirates discussed releasing Wakefield because he had shown no promise. An eighth-round draft pick who signed for $15,000, Wakefield did not come close to being the hitter who set home run records at the Florida Institute of Technology. At that point, Huyke interjected.

    “I told them, ‘If you’re going to release him, make sure you look at his knuckleball,’ ” Huyke said. “The ball had a lot of movement. You never knew where it was going to go.”

    Wakefield had told Cliburn, his first manager, he would never make it to the majors as a hitter, so he happily agreed to undergo a drastic makeover to try to master a trick pitch.

    “I had to do it or finish school and get a job,” Wakefield said. “I had to take it seriously.”

    He was emotionally drained in his first minor league season because his grandfather Lester died less than a month after he arrived in Watertown. Wakefield struck out 92 times in 256 at-bats over two seasons, so throwing the knuckleball gave him some freedom.

    Joe Ausanio, a former Yankees pitcher who played with him at Watertown, said Wakefield had tremendous power and was a stellar athlete. But Ausanio said that Wakefield’s long swing “had some holes” and that he could not adjust to hitting sliders.

    “When he hit it, he really hit it,” Ausanio said. “But when he didn’t, he looked foolish.”

    So Wakefield the hitter looked the way Wakefield the pitcher often makes hitters look.

    “He messes you up,” said Boston’s Dustin Pedroia, who has faced Wakefield in spring training. “He controls it. He can move it left or right. He’s perfected a pitch that pretty much no one else throws.”

    Millar jokingly described Wakefield as a pitcher who is “66 years old and throws 65 miles an hour.” But he also offered a serious scouting report.

    “The problem is he can make you look as stupid as you can,” Millar said.

    As Wakefield sat in the first-base dugout at Fenway Park on Thursday, he recalled some important knuckleball mileposts. The day he first threw the pitch to his father in the backyard, the conversation he taped with the knuckleballer Charlie Hough so he could repeatedly absorb the advice, and his gradual ability to handle any failure that stemmed from throwing a pitch as soft as a marshmallow.

    Twenty years ago, Wakefield became a knuckleball pitcher, not a pitcher who throws a knuckleball. To the proud Wakefield, there is a major distinction between those descriptions. Wakefield is a knuckleball pitcher and has been ever since he stopped fooling around.

    “It was my only option,” he said. “I had to take that road.”

    Kiwi opens brothel to fund TaeKwonDo campaign


    NZ taekwondo representative Logan Campbell is hoping his 'gentleman's club' will get him to the London Olympics. Photo / Bay of Plenty Times

    NZ taekwondo representative Logan Campbell is hoping his 'gentleman's club' will get him to the London Olympics. Photo / Bay of Plenty Times


    A New Zealand taekwondo athlete has opened a brothel to help fund his bid to compete at the 2012 London Olympics, local media reported Sunday.

    Logan Campbell, 23, told the Sunday Star-Times newspaper he hoped his Auckland "gentleman's club," which provided escort services, would help him raise about $300,000 toward his London Games campaign.

    Campbell, who finished in the top 16 in the featherweight division at last year's Beijing Olympics, said he spent around $150,000 competing in international events leading up to the games.

    Most of the money had been provided by his parents, he said. His father, Max, an auctioneer, had worked two jobs to support his son's Olympic quest.

    Campbell told the newspaper his desire to avoid being a burden on his parents led him to open the brothel with business partner Hugo Phillips, 20. He said he had introduced several of his female employees to his mother who "realized they were just normal people supporting kids and stuff."

    Taekwondo New Zealand funding manager John Schofield said the governing body of the sport in the country would have to consider whether Campbell was suitable for international selection.

    "Selection takes into account not just performance but also the athlete's ability to serve as an example to the youth of the country," Schofield said.

    - AP

    Vodka Shot Skills

    Russian national fun. These guys can literally throw back a few shots.

    The Amazing South American Glass Frog

    Solar-Powered Night Garden in Jerusalem

    Solar-Powered Night Garden in Jerusalem

    by Moe Beitiks

    solar garden lights, solar powered show, solar powered garden, eco art, environmental art, light garden, light show, light festival

    My favorite part of Disneyland was always the Main Street Electrical Parade. It seems gluttonous now: a procession of mechanized floats, covered in rainbow light bulbs, all buzzing and twinkling to the tune of music. Fortunately, O*GE Architects and Interactive Gallery have sated my light-show fix with a solar-powered, LED-licious Night Garden. The installation was part of the recent Light in Jerusalem Festival and dazzled visitors to the Gan Habonim (Jerusalem Citadel) with giant neon-colored, luminescent flowers whose petals opened and closed throughout the night.

    solar garden lights, solar powered show, solar powered garden, eco art, environmental art, light garden, light show, light festival

    The Night Garden, created with the Israel Electric Corporation, consisted of lotus blossoms, tulips and “dewdrop flowers” made of steel, metal mesh and Hebron glass. The LED lights and mechanized petal-flapping were powered by four solar panels that stored energy in batteries for the nighttime show. And for the public’s viewing pleasure, the whole thing had its own soundtrack, composed by Ravid Hang, of Great Britain, andAndy Isler, of Switzerland.

    Says O*GE, ” Our aim for this installation was to demonstrate that by using alternative energy and technology, not only are we safeguarding our environment, but, we are also creating a poetic, magical experience.” And although their aim is to create “Less Vegas, more tranquility,” the garden is a crowd-drawing spectacle that inspires a kind of child-like, amusement-park awe.

    + O*GE Gallery

    + O*GE Architects

    + Photos on Flickr

    German Scientist Cooks Up Idea for 'Waste-Free' Breweries



    A scientist pondering the growing problem of brewery waste in Europe has devised a way to tap into the power of beer:

    He and his partners designed a system to recycle spent grains and wastewater to produce energy that can fuel the beermaking process.

    Spent grains apparently have been piling up in the brewing capitals of Europe. Farmers, who for centuries have used the waste as cattle feed or fertilizer, have been producing less beef and contending with increasing restrictions on the amount of waste on they can have on their land.

    Hops and Irish moss.
    Image CC licensed by theotherway

    With the market dropping for the brewing waste, “we reached a situation in 2000 where breweries even had to pay to dispose of their spent grain," scientist Wolfgang Bengel told Eureka, Europe’s intergovernmental incubator for innovation and advanced technology. "Beer making is energy intensive -- you boil stuff, use hot water and steam and then use electric energy for cooling -- so if you recover more than 50 percent of your own energy costs from the spent grain that's a big saving."

    Bengel, the technical director at German biomass company BMP Biomasse Projekt, drew on his experience in producing energy from rice and cane waste in China and Thailand.
    Brewery tanks.
    Image CC licensed by Maks D

    He also partnered up German firms INNOVAS, which specializes in biogas plants, and BISANZ, which brought engineering know-how, and the Slovakian company Adato, whose expertise is in boilers for waste heat and cogeneration plants.

    Together they set up a test plant and devised a system that enables breweries to "treat their complete waste stream," turn it into energy and do so in a way that meets European environmental standards, said Eureka.
    Dark beer in the light.
     dlillo1

    The enterprise is now looking for business from breweries that want to put the process to work at their sites and from other firms, such as waste management companies, that would front the costs of buying and installing the equipment and sell the energy back to a brewery.

    Recycling brewery waste for power isn’t new: Anheuser-Busch has used its Bio-Energy Recovery Systems, which it calls BERS, for years to trap nutrients from wastewater and turn it into energy. The systems are used in nine of the company’s 12 U.S breweries and at its brewery in Wuhan, China, supplying up to 15 percent of sites’ fuel needs.


    Several Tall Ones — Image by OwnMoment.
    Hops and Irish Moss — Image CC licensed by theotherway.
    Brewery Tanks — Image CC licensed by Maks D.
    Dark Beer — Image by dlillo1.

    Back to the Future - crazy timeline


    Back to the Future is a story of time travel, moral lessons and a dangerous lunatic who nearly destroys the universe on three separate occasions and nearly kills the underage boy he hangs around with on at least five others.

    Just The Facts

    1. In the first movie, Doc Brown makes a huge deal out of the sanctity of time and the terrible risks of future information. He then spends the next thirty years building a time machine.
    2. Doc suffers the same genetic disorder as real-life Michael J Fox, making him look exactly the same no matter how old he gets.
    3. In the third movie he builds a magical steam powered Happy-Ending-Mo-Bile.

    Doc Brown: Evil Lunatic

    Doc Brown first tested his time machine on his own dog and was visibly surprised when it actually survived. Other highlights include nearly running himself over by remote control, using a date-rape machine on Marty's girlfriend and accidentally creating an entire dimension of hell.

    This is why he was controversially cast as Commander Kruge in Star Trek 3. While most were baffled at the choice of a comedic actor, director Leonard Nimoy recognized an actor who could portray destroying an entire world without giving a rat's ass.

    Vibram FiveFingers KSO and Classic Running Shoes

    Plastic Gorilla Feet Give You Twinkle Toes
    Jon Snyder/Wired.com
    7 out of 10

    Plastic Gorilla Feet Give You Twinkle Toes

    Minutes after wiggling my feet into these five-toed monstrosities I was creeping across a coworker's desk like Spider-man. Sadly, Vibram FiveFingers don't actually let you stick to walls and ceilings, but they are wickedly fun to wear.

    Vibram FiveFingers are little more than flexible plastic soles with just enough cloth to hold them snugly on your feet. They have little individual pockets for each toe, making the FiveFingers into a sort of foot glove. The resulting footwear feel less like shoes and more like tougher, more invulnerable versions of your feet.

    Traction is incredibly good, due to the grippy material, the separation of the toes, and the addition of siping, or tiny zigzag cuts etched into the soles that expand into little treads as the sole flexes.

    The VFFs are also surprisingly comfortable. Each toe is snuggled inside its own little pocket, which is not only cozy, it also gives your feet a surprising amount of feedback about the ground you're standing on. Your toes, freed from their typical leather prisons, act like a tiny topography sensor array.

    Running in FiveFingers is much like running barefoot, except without the mincing "Ow-ow-ow!" moments as you hit a patch of gravel or sun-baked asphalt. You have to use the same stride (and the same, probably atrophied, calf and arch muscles) as you do when running with naked feet. The end result is good: By forcing me into a more efficient stride, the VFFs helped subtract nearly a minute from my admittedly slow per-mile pace. Also, a growing body of research suggests that minimal or no footwear will result in fewer running injuries. But it takes some getting used to if you've never run barefoot before. Start with very short runs, and work up gradually.

    Vibram offers four different models of its FiveFingers line; I tested two. The Classic offers as clean a line as you're going to get from such freaky footwear, but the KSO (short for "Keep Stuff Out") is more practical for running, with webbing on the top to keep debris from sneaking in and a single strap for snugging the shoes more firmly onto your feet.

    Vibram FiveFingers will make you look like you have plastic gorilla feet. They'll draw curious, often appalled stares from strangers and mockery from your family. But by making you run as if barefoot, Vibram FiveFingers might just make you a stronger, faster and less-injured runner.

    WIRED Just like going barefoot, except without the cuts, abrasions and icky stuff between your toes. Excellent traction on a variety of surfaces. Surprisingly comfortable.

    TIRED Ugly as a bucket of vomit. Just looking at the shoes is a one way ticket to the uncanny valley. Slightly time-consuming to put on. Sizing is extremely fickle.

    • Sports: Hiking/Running
    • Manufacturer: Vibram FiveFingers
    • Price: $75 - $85
    • Release Date: July 10, 2009

    Ancient Etruscan Ointment Discovered in Italy

    Etruscan Urn
    Etruscan Urn | Discovery News Video

    July 10, 2009 -- Italian archaeologists have discovered lotion that is over 2000 years old, left almost intact in the cosmetic case of an aristocratic Etruscan woman.

    The discovery, which occurred four years ago in a necropolis near the Tuscan town of Chiusi, has just been made public, following chemical analysis which identified the original compounds of the ancient ointment. The team reports their findings in the July issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science.

    Dating to the second half of the second century B.C., the intact tomb was found sealed by a large terracotta tile. The site featured a red-purple painted inscription with the name of the deceased: Thana Presnti Plecunia Umranalisa.

    "From the formula of the name, we learn that Thana Plecunia was the daughter of a lady named Umranei, a member of one of the most important aristocratic families of Chiusi," the researchers wrote.

    Indeed, the wide rectangular niche tomb certainly represents the noble origins of the deceased.

    The ashes of Thana rested in a small travertine urn, decorated with luxuriant foliate elements and the head of a female goddess, most likely the Etruscan Earth goddess Cel Ati.

    The Most Badass Female Space Pilots Of All Time

    Some of the hottest hot-shot pilots in space opera are women. It's a longstanding tradition in science fiction to show women taking the controls of starships, space fighters and star-cruisers, and here are our favorite badass female cockpit jockeys.

    Even as more women are becoming astronauts and getting to pilot the space shuttle, science fiction has shown tons of women taking the helm. Here are some of the most awesome, in no particular order:

    Lady Sharrow in Against A Dark Background by Iain M. Banks

    We don't get to see combat specialist Sharrow doing that much piloting in this book — but when she does take the controls, she makes it count. The one sequence where she does some fancy flying is one of the best moments in the book.

    Carolyn Fry from Pitch Black.

    I don't know how I managed to forget her — I actually had her on my list, and had grabbed this cool pic of her in advance. She manages to bring a dead ship down in spite of incredible odds — and sure, she tries to jettison her passengers. But she's just being sensible, after all.

    Sue Parsons from Virtuality

    As with Sharrow, Sue Parsons spends most of her screen time doing other things — mostly, like all the other characters on this show, bickering and freaking out about virtual reality nightmares. But when she does actually get to handle the Starship Phaeton's controls — watch out. She does an incredibly complex series of maneuvers while giant bombs are going off in her wake. Makes all the drama totally worth it.

    Jenna, from Blake's 7.

    This smuggler is the best pilot around — there's no competition, except maybe that arrogant twerp Del Tarrant. Jenna manages to take the controls of the Liberator, the most super-advanced ship in space, and master them almost immediately. And she's able to take it on manual and do some fancy flying, on occasion.

    Saint-Emxin from Battle Beyond The Stars.

    She's a mean Valkyrie fighter pilot, who more than holds her own in the movie's crucial Star Wars-inspired firefights. Han Solo not only couldn't pull off her headgear, he also couldn't outfly her. (I almost included Padme Amidala in this list, since she pilots a ship in Attack Of The Clones — but could Amidala really hold her own against Saint-Exmin? I think not.)

    Tak from Invader Zim.

    The "hideous new girl" shows up hoping to do a better job of invading Earth than Zim, and she has the ability to hypnotize humans into doing her bidding — but she also pilots her own ship.

    Faye from Cowboy Bebop

    Faye is an awesome fighter pilot, and even held her own in a dogfight with Spike. Runner-up status also goes to space trucker V.T., aka Victoria Terpsichore.

    Carol "Foe Hammer" Rawley in Halo.

    She does some pretty nifty flying as the pilot of Pelican transport Echo 419 on the UNSC Pillar of Autumn. She specializes in doing lots of missions involving hostile insertions and rescues, making her stand out from the rest.

    Ana Khouri in Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds.

    This assassin joins the crew of the Nostalgia For Infinity, intent on killing one of the crewmembers, but then two different digital entities fight over control of her, and thus of the ship. Also a killer pilot is the ship's de facto captain, Illia Volyova.

    Mary Raven from Ignition City.

    This grounded space pilot journeys to Earth's last spaceport, Ignition City, to find out what happened to her dad, in this new comic by Warren Ellis and Gianluca Pagliarani. Space-jockey Mary Raven is determined to find out what happened to her dad, and she won't leave Ignition City until she gets some answers.

    Lt. Shane Vansen from Space: Above And Beyond.

    According to this site, she's "one of Earth's most celebrated pilots," piloting the SA-43 Hammerhead space fighter into battle.

    Corp. Ferro in Aliens.

    Okay, sure, she gets killed after speaking only a couple lines of dialogue. But she has cool sunglasses, and she manages to put the ship down through a lot of turbulence.

    Carmen Ibanez in Starship Troopers.

    Many of the badass pilots in this movie are women, and Carmen (Denise Richards) is the most memorable of them. She's a pilot in the SICON fleet, who pilots the drop ship, and even helps on the ground when things get rough.

    Col. Wilma Deering in Buck Rogers In The 25th Century.

    She doesn't just look good in a slinky jumpsuit, or boogieing next to Buck — Wilma's an ace fighter pilot in her own right, and a lot of episodes see her flying off solo to deal with the bikini-clad menace of the week.

    Aeryn Sun in Farscape.

    She's a formidable fighter generally, but she's also a former Peacekeeper pilot, and some of her best moments involve her taking the helm of a ship — like the season two finale, when Crichton is flying away with Scorpius' mind controlling him, and Aeryn chases after him in her own ship.

    Yoninne Leg-Wot from The Witling by Vernor Vinge.

    We don't actually get to see much of her piloting skills, since she and her companion Ajao Bjault get stranded on the planet full of telekinetic aliens early on. But she does turn out to be resourceful, and despite being unattractive by Earth standards, she helps win over the "witling" of the story's title, Prince Pelio.

    River in Serenity.

    Okay, so Serenity's real pilot is, and always will be, Wash. But you can tell, at the end of the movie, that River is gearing up to be a pretty great pilot in her own right. And in the series of movie sequels that unspool in my daydreams from time to time, she's piloting the ship all the time.

    Manda in Burning The Ice by Laura J. Mixon.

    Manda CarliPablo's stigmatized because she's the only colonist on a barren gas giant who's not a twin or triplet — her other clones died before they were "born" — but her isolation turns out to be a good thing, as she becomes the best pilot in the colony and explores the unexplored regions of this new world — discovering an alien race along the way.

    Turanga Leela from Futurama.

    Despite being captain, she's also always ready to take the helm of the Planet Express ship, and her lack of three-dimensional vision doesn't seem to interfere with her amazing piloting skills.

    Jaina Solo from the Star Wars expanded universe.

    The daughter of Han Solo and Princess Leia didn't just inherit her mom's Force powers — she also became a kick-ass pilot, like her dad. She flew the Millenium Falcon on a few occasions. When she got caught flying the Merry Miner, an unarmed mining ship, during the Yuuzhan Vong war, she managed to dodge the aliens' attacks until help arrived. And then she became one of the New Republic's most valued starfighter pilots.

    Captain Beka Valentine from Andromeda.

    Thanks to everyone who suggested adding her — Beka Valentine is, among other things, the Andromeda's first officer and pilot, taking advantage of her better-than-human reaction times and strength.

    Tanni from Mutineer's Moon by David Weber

    Here's the key sequence:

    "And," MacMahan added gently, "Tanni will be your pilot."

    "What?!"

    "Tanni will be your pilot," MacMahan repeated mildly. "I'm speaking now as the commander of a military operation, and I don't have time to be diplomatic, so both of you just shut up and listen... we can't afford anything but our very best pilot behind those controls. You're good, Colin, and your reaction time is phenomenal even by Imperial standards, but good as you are, you have very little experience in an Imperial fighter.

    Tanni, on the other hand, is a natural pilot and the youngest of our Imperials, with reaction time almost as good as yours but far, far more experience. The overall mission will be under your command, but she's your pilot and you're her electronics officer, or neither of you goes."

    Kathryn Fairly in Space Camp.

    A group of teenagers get to go aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis during a test-firing of its engines. But the mean android named Jinx decides to — what else — jinx them by making the space shuttle blast off for real. They're stuck in orbit, without enough oxygen to get home. And Kathryn (Lea Thompson), who was struggling with the "multi-axis trainer" that's required for shuttle pilots, manages to ace the real-life situation that simulator creates: a flat spin after the shuttle's reorbit burn. She brings that bird down safe and proves she's an awesome pilot.

    Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica.

    As I said before, these are in no particular order — but if they were, Starbuck would be #1 in any list. She's clearly the best pilot among Battlestar's flyboys and -girls. Adama always refers to her as his best pilot, and she pushes herself harder than anyone else. Kat may have tried to challenge Starbuck's impressive kill rate, but she never really had a hope.

    Additional reporting by Alexis Brown. Special thanks to Pete Gofton, Brian Williams, Erin Souza, Ira Wile, Jordan Hoffman, Austin Grossman, Ekaterina Sedia, and @soapboxx on Twitter.

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