Zazzle Shop

Screen printing

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Automatic Pancake Machine: 200 Pancakes Per Hour--Is it Enough?

Every now and then, technology does not screw us over. This machine pops out pancakes at a rate of 200 pancakes per hour. Two. Hundred. Pancakes. Per hour. You want one, and you want to lie beneath it and let the pancakes fall off their little conveyor belt directly into your mouth.
This costs $3,500 and is the size of a countertop microwave. The company, Seattle-based ChefStack, says the possibilities are "infinite." They suggest traditional three-cake stacks, savory sausage-filled pancakes, and the imaginative "folded sleeve" pancake. Plus, if ever a hole ruptures in the time space continuum and the only way to fill it is with hot, steamy pancakes, we are set.
Infinite Breakfast

Papa John's founder pays $250K for beloved Camaro

In this August 24, 2009 handout photo released by Papa John's Pizza, John Schnatter, the founder of Papa John's pizza, is seen Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2009 outside his home in Louisville, Ky., with his beloved 1971 Z28 Camaro, which he sold in 1983 to keep his father's tavern afloat and ultimately launch Papa John's Pizza. Schnatter launched a nationwide contest this summer to find the car, and Jeff Robinson of Flatwoods, Ky. came forward with the car and was given a $250,000 reward. (AP Photo/Papa Johns Pizza)
In this August 24, 2009 handout photo released by Papa John's Pizza, John Schnatter, the founder of Papa John's pizza, is seen Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2009 outside his home in Louisville, Ky., with his beloved 1971 Z28 Camaro, which he sold in 1983 to keep his father's tavern afloat and ultimately launch Papa John's Pizza. Schnatter launched a nationwide contest this summer to find the car, and Jeff Robinson of Flatwoods, Ky. came forward with the car and was given a $250,000 reward. (AP Photo/Papa Johns Pizza) (AP)
The Associated Press

Papa John's founder pays $250K for beloved Camaro

The Associated Press
Tuesday, August 25, 2009 8:21 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- With the help of a $250,000 reward, the founder of the Papa John's pizza chain has finally reunited with the muscle car he sold years ago to help keep his family's business afloat.

John Schnatter sold the gold-and-black 1971 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 for $2,800 in 1983. The money helped save his father's tavern in Jeffersonville, Ind., and he used the rest to start what would become a worldwide pizza business.

But he still missed his beloved Camaro and spent years searching for it. He created a Web site on the search, held promotional appearances and eventually offered $250,000 to whoever found it.

It turns out he didn't have to leave Kentucky, where the pizza chain is based in Louisville. The car only changed hands twice from the original buyers, ending up with Jeffery Robinson in Flatwoods, about 165 miles to the east.

"When I first saw it I still wanted to look it over to make sure it was the car even though I knew it," Schnatter told The Associated Press. "That kind of hit me emotionally. I was kind of numb."

The original buyers of Schnatter's car heard about the search when he appeared in a TV interview before an NFL game this month. An online search led them to the car blog Jalopnik, which has followed the search and tipped off Papa John's.

Robinson, who bought the car about five years ago for $4,000, recently delivered the Camaro to Schnatter, earning the $250,000 reward. The original buyers will get $25,000 for their help tracking it down.

Schnatter says it looks very much the same as it did when he sold it in 1983, but with a larger motor and fatter tires for drag racing.

The car will be displayed at the company headquarters in Louisville, replacing a replica Schnatter commissioned while he searched for his original car.

In honor of the reunion, Papa John's planned to offer all Camaro owners a free pizza at stores on Wednesday.


Papa's Road Trip:

Bob Dylan to become the voice of your GPS satnav?

For anyone lost on their way to Maggie’s Farm, this might be just the thing.

Bob Dylan could soon voice sat nav systems
Bob Dylan could soon be directing drivers down Highway 61as car giants frantically bid to sign him up as the new voice of their sat nav systems

Bob Dylan, the singer-songwriter who has taken his fans down Highway 61 by way of Lonely Avenue and Desolation Row, is in negotiations to voice a satellite navigation system.

The music star claimed that he has been approached by more than one manufacturer keen to harness his unmistakeable, rasping tones - a voice which one critic memorably likened to sandpaper. He shared the news with listeners to his late-night radio show, Theme Time Radio Hour, which is broadcast on BBC Six Music.

“You know I don’t usually like to tell people what I’m doing, but I’m talking to a couple of car companies about the possibility of being the voice of their GPS system,” he disclosed.

Motorists who follow Dylan’s directions, however, may take some time to reach their destination. “I think it would be good if you are looking for directions and you heard my voice saying something like, ‘Left at the next street.... No, right... You know what? Just go straight." He added: "I probably shouldn’t do it because whichever way I go, I always end up at one place - Lonely Avenue.”

Dylan, 66, would not be the first celebrity to lend his voice to a GPS system. TomTom, the sat-nav manufacturer, currently offers the voices of Homer Simpson and John Cleese, while Kim Cattrall, the Sex and the City actress, and The A Team actor Mr T are also popular among British motorists.

Several websites offer impersonations of celebrity voices for download, with Sean Connery, Ozzy Osbourne and David Hasselhoff among the favourites for drivers who consider the computerised sat-nav tones to be on the boring side.

Eddie Izzard, the comedian, offers his own set of directions, which include phrases such as: “For God’s sake, turn left!” and “Bear left, monkey right.”

This would not be Dylan’s first foray into the commercial world. Earlier this year, he surprised many of his fans by allowing his music to be used in a television advert. Blowin’ In The Wind, his 1963 anthem, was featured in a commercial for the Co-operative Group.

The singer, who has sold more than 70 million albums during his career, recently topped the UK chart with his latest album, Together Thru Life.

The Glory Years of the Airline Stewardess (50 PICS) We decided to take a look back to the glory days of flight - where the stewardesses resembled beauty pageant contestants, where pilots seemed likes heroes, and when flying still seemed to be an adventure - to remind us of just how good things really were.

Click here for this fantastic journey back in time.... The Glory Years of the Airline Stewardess (50 PICS)

Rolling Stones named world's most expensive wedding act

Rolling Stone's most expensive wedding singers

Most popular and most expensive choice of wedding singers ...Mick Jagger, Ronnie Wood, Charlie Watts and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. Source: AFP

THE Rolling Stones have been named the "'world's most expensive wedding act"' at an estimated cost of $10 million (£5m).

A poll to find out the most costly wedding crooners saw Mick Jagger and co ahead of Elton John, Paul McCartney, Kylie Minogue and Leona Lewis.

If the million pound-plus fees for international superstars do not come within the bridal budget, up-and-coming stars Lady Gaga and Katy Perry were said to be available for around $120,000.

Tell us below who would you like to croon at your wedding?

A fraction behind were karaoke favourites The Proclaimers, who could belt out I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) for £100,000.

Rick Astley, who stormed the charts in the 1980s and whose Never Gonna Give You Up video inspired the internet phenomenon of Rickrolling, was also priced by the survey at $50,000.

The poll was conducted for TV channel Living by a financial analyst.

Calculations were based on information from agents and examining accounts, ascertaining how much it would cost to hire each act for a private performance.

The 12 most costly wedding singers, according to the Living poll:

1. The Rolling Stones (up to $10 million)

2. Sir Elton John (up to $4 million)

3. Kylie Minogue (up to $4 million)

4. Christina Aguilera (up to $3 million)

5. George Michael ($2.6 million)

6. Amy Winehouse ($2 million)

7. Sir Paul McCartney ($2 million)

8. Leona Lewis ($2 million)

9. Jennifer Lopez ($2 million)

10. Barry Manilow ($1.5 million)

11. Rod Stewart ($1.2 million)

12. Duran Duran ($1 million)

2010 Maserati GranCabrio

The convertible version of Maserati's GranTurismo features a 433-bhp V-8 and four real seats.
By Mike Monticello

August 2009

Slideshow: 2010 Maserati GranCabrio >>

We've been waiting several years for Maserati to bring a convertible back to the market, and the company has announced it will finally unveil the new car at the Frankfurt Motor Show on September 15. But unlike the most recent Maserati Spyder, last built for the 2006 model year and fitted with just two seats, the new GranCabrio model has four real seats—the first convertible to be outfitted as such in Maserati's history.

Maserati says the GranCabrio is "designed and built for men and women who love to live life in an understated—though sophisticated—manner." The car's ride comfort will surely be aided by Maserati's claim that the GranCabrio is "the convertible with the longest wheelbase on the market." The GranCabrio won't be too understated, though, as its motivational force comes from the sportier GranTurismo S coupe's 4.7-liter 433-bhp V-8. Maserati didn't release specifics on transmissions, but figure on the GranCabrio coming only with a 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters; Maserati will release more in-depth technical specifications at the Frankfurt show in a few weeks.

One of the big surprises is that the Pininfarina-designed GranCabrio will employ a traditional canvas soft-top; many (including us here at R&T) had suspected Maserati would follow the lead set by Ferrari with its retractable-hardtop California model.

The Maserati GranCabrio will likely go on sale in the U.S. by the spring of 2010.

Scientists design plant filtration system that lets you drink your own SHOWER water

Eco-thinkers have come up with an amazing new way to create drinking water - by putting plants in the bottom of a shower.

Designers Jun Yasumoto, Vincent Vandenbrouk, Olivier Pigasse, and Alban Le Henry came up with the concept when looking for new ways to recycle precious H2O.

After you have washed in the special eco-shower the water passes down into a series of physical filters and is treated by plants such as reeds and rushes growing around your feet.

Enlarge eco-shower

A new eco-shower concept would recycle water by filtering it using different plants

Yasumoto, 34, said: 'These plants have been proven to be able to remove the chemicals from your shampoo.

'Using a natural filtering principle called phyto-purification, the bathroom becomes a mini-eco-system by recycling and regenerating the wastewater.

''With this project, we tried to combine the pleasure of taking a shower with the satisfaction of recycling water. We wanted the recycling process to actually interact with the use of shower.'

The waste water passes into a chamber below the shower floor where it goes through a maze of filters.

Included in the network is sand, reeds, rushes, a mesh filter, water hyacinths and lemnas, and finally a carbon filter.

Enlarge eco-shower

Click enlarge to see how the design works

And the inventors - all graduates from French national design school Ecole Nationale Supirieure de Creation Industrielle - hope that the impact of their concept doesn't just alter the way we bathe.

'We thought that by conceiving this very intricate relation between the recycling of water and the user experience, we could get the users to also re-think the way they use water,' said Yasumoto.

After posting their seven-year-old design on the internet, the eggheads have been inundated with queries about where their shower can be bought.

'No prototype has been made as the project is just a concept for the moment, but it is interesting to see the positive feedback we are getting since we put these images online,' Yasumoto said.

'It has made us think we should keep on developing this idea and start thinking of ways to integrate it and bring it closer to reality.'

Read more:

YouTube Extends Revenue Sharing Program To Anyone With A Viral Video

by Jason Kincaid

Over a year and a half ago, YouTube launched a new Partner Program that allowed some of its most prolific and popular content owners to make some money from the content they contributed, inviting them to get a revenue share of ads placed against their videos. This was all well and good for YouTube’s cream of the crop, but let’s be honest — most of us don’t contribute all that regularly, and the vast majority of our videos don’t become popular, which means we couldn’t get into the program. What’s worse, even when one of your videos suddenly did go viral, if you weren’t already in the program there wasn’t anything you could do to reap the benefits. Today, that changes: YouTube is launching a new addition to its Partnership Program that will give anyone the chance to make some money when lightning strikes, even if it’s the first video they’ve ever uploaded.

Here’s how it works: YouTube will be monitoring its site for videos that quickly go viral, and will then reach out to the content uploader with an Email invitation to “Enable Revenue Sharing” on that video. If you choose to enable the feature, then YouTube will place ads against the video and will give you a cut, which gets paid into your Google AdSense account. YouTube’s criteria for joining the program are vague — the site plans to look at the number of views a video gets, its virality, and compliance with the site’s Terms of Service, but it has offered no concrete numbers.

YouTube says that participants in the new program won’t get all the benefits of the normal Partner Program (you won’t be able to choose other videos you’d like to monetize, for example), so it encourages users to apply for the program here.

Tom Pickett, Director of Online Sales and Operations at YouTube, said on a conference call today that the move is meant to help expand the reach of the site’s partner program. The company will address not just new viral videos, but also videos on the site that have never been monetized but are extremely popular (Pickett says that many viral videos have quite lengthly lifespans — once you’re popular, you can stay popular for years). Pickett says that the company expects to “increase the number of partners dramatically” up into the tens of thousands of partners (up from “thousands). The revenue share will be the same as what applies to the general Partnership Program, with the majority of the revenue going to the content contributor.

YouTube spokesman Aaron Zamost says that advertisers have actually been requesting a feature like this for a while, as there have been a number of user-uploaded videos that were not being monetized at all, and in turn couldn’t have ads placed against them. Now, provided the content unloader decides to join the program, these advertisers will be able to take advantage of these viral videos.

The first (televised) kiss between robots

Theatrical bots "Thomas" and "Janet" -- who look complex enough to do non-theatrical work too -- have been smacking lips since a December 2008 production of Phantom of the Opera in Taiwan, but only now has video evidence of their deviant activities surfaced on the interwebs. Causing equal measures of dread, horror and subconscious freaky thoughts, it's a tour de force of science going down a very dark (and probably moist) path. Technically, it's a fine exhibition of complex multidimensional coordination and intrinsic self-balancing mechanisms, an excuse you're at liberty to use if someone catches you watching the videos after the break.

'Basterds' One of Many Tricky Titles

By Christy Lemire

LOS ANGELES – Quentin Tarantino isn't saying why he spelled the title of his World War II adventure, "Inglourious Basterds," the way he did.

The writer-director is enjoying having a little fun with his audience, similar to the way he credited himself and Uma Thurman, with whom he co-wrote the "Kill Bill" movies, by their initials Q and U.

"I'm never going to explain that," Tarantino said during a news conference in May at the Cannes Film Festival, where "Inglourious Basterds" premiered. "When you do an artistic flourish like that, to describe it, to explain it, would just ... invalidate the whole stroke in the first place.

"(Artist Jean-Michel) Basquiat takes the letter L from a hotel room door and sticks it in his painting," he added. "If he describes why he did it, he might as well not have done it at all."

Tarantino's film about Jewish-American soldiers who hunt down and scalp Nazis, which opened this past weekend atop the box office with an estimated $37.6 million, is one of several in recent memory with a name that's tripped people up, either because of its spelling or because it contains a potentially offensive word.

The Weinstein Co., which is distributing it in the United States, says it hasn't heard of any censorship of the title — which has nothing to do with a 1978 Italian action picture called (and correctly spelled) "The Inglorious Bastards."

But when "Zack and Miri Make a Porno" came out last fall, it prompted protests about the title across the country. Commercials during Los Angeles Dodgers games were eventually dropped at the team's request, and the city of Philadelphia rejected posters for its bus stops. In some instances, the Kevin Smith comedy about best friends who make an X-rated movie to pay the bills was just called "Zack and Miri."

Then there was the content of the posters, which initially were considered too risque because they suggested a specific sexual act. The Weinstein Co., which also released this movie, later changed them to feature stick figures representing its stars, some of which read: "Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks made a movie so outrageous that we can't even tell you the title."

The need to tinker with a tricky title has also arisen lately on television. DirecTV refers to the Oxygen weight-loss series "Dance Your Ass Off" as "Dance Your A.. Off." Similarly, the Showtime documentary series featuring comics Penn Jillette and Teller is listed on the satellite guide as "Penn & Teller: Bulls...!" and it appears in other places as "Penn & Teller: BS!"

For all the trouble, having a curse word in the title doesn't necessarily create more buzz for a movie, said publicist Alex Klenert. As an executive at ThinkFilm in 2005, Klenert worked on a documentary about the origin and many creative uses of the F-word (which was also the title of the film), and "Awesome: I F----- Shot That," in which the Beastie Boys gave cameras to fans who shot footage of a 2004 concert at New York's Madison Square Garden.

In both cases, "for what we had to do with the movie, it created another layer of extra work we had to do to position the film in certain markets, especially regionally," Klenert said. "With the Beastie Boys documentary, they just were not going to use (the F-word) in it. If you put it in theaters across the country, you can't have a theater with a child walking in with a poster that says (the F-word) on it."

Instead, some posters and many reviews referred to the film as "Awesome: I ... Shot That!" or they partially blurred out the expletive. The posters for the documentary about the offending word, meanwhile, featured a cartoon man with his bulging eyes forming some of the letters.

"Ultimately, it creates more trouble than it's worth because you have to edit it on a certain level," Klenert said.

He added that he saw a lot more attention and excitement for 2005's "The Aristocrats," a documentary about a famously profane joke with an ironically genteel punch line.

"We had sold-out theaters," he said. "That was a better example of a film that created buzz. It didn't necessarily have it in the title but it was all about the subject matter and how dirty the swear words were."

As for Tarantino's unusual spelling, "that's just the way he is," says Klenert. "He has such a unique vision, people are more accepting of it because it's him."

The tricky phrasing hasn't seemed to trouble many people on Twitter, where "Inglourious Basterds" was a top trending topic on opening day Friday. Although, as one user joked: "Tarantino created 'Inglourious Basterds' simply to watch Twitter go into fits about its spelling."

AP Movie Writer David Germain contributed to this story.

Chili Peppers' Chad Smith often mistaken for Will Ferrell

Will Ferrell (L) and Chad Smith - or is it the other way around?
Will Ferrell (L) and Chad Smith - or is it the other way around?

Red Hot Chili Peppers rocker Chad Smith looks so much like actor Will Ferrell he's constantly stopped in the street and mistaken for the film funnyman.

The drummer insists he's often asked to sign autographs as Ferrell, and he's so determined to claim back his own identity he has started wearing T-shirts that read 'I'm not Will Ferrell'.

Smith tells, "People come up to me in airports and they're asking for my autograph, not because I'm the drummer for the Chili Peppers - they really think I'm Will Ferrell.

"And I'm nice to these people. (I say) 'No, I'm not.' But they're like, 'I loved you in Old School. You're so funny.'"

He reveals the pair met once at a Los Angeles party, and the likeness freaked them both out: "There's a buffet line and I walk up and I'm getting my second shrimp skewer. There's a guy next to me doing the same thing and then Will Ferrell is next to him and so I kind of glance over. Right at the time I'm turning to leave the table and start walking back, the guy between us splits and both Will and I turn kind of at the same time. It was classic.

"He eyeballs me up and down, and he goes, 'You're very handsome' and walks away. I was like, 'Hey, funny f**king guy. I like that.'"

Smith vows he'll never use the similarity to get away with bad behaviour - although he admits it's tempting, adding, "I could walk into a club, say 'I'm Will Ferrell,' and start spanking strippers. Next thing you know it's all over the place...That's not a bad idea."

Michael Jackson's death ruled a homicide

Coroner finds fatal combination of drugs in his system

Associated Press

Michael Jackson's death has been ruled a homicide caused by a mix of drugs meant to treat insomnia, a law enforcement official told the Associated Press, while his personal doctor told investigators he was trying to wean the King of Pop off the powerful anesthetic that did him in.

Forensic tests found the anesthetic propofol combined with at least two sedatives to kill Jackson, according to the official, who spoke Monday on condition of anonymity because the findings have not been publicly released. Based on those tests, the Los Angeles County Coroner has ruled the death a homicide, the official said.

The coroner's homicide ruling does not necessarily mean a crime was committed. But it makes it more likely criminal charges will be filed against Conrad Murray, the Las Vegas cardiologist who was caring for the pop star when he died June 25 in a rented Los Angeles mansion.

Through his lawyer, Murray has said he administered nothing that "should have" killed Jackson.

Murray told investigators that Jackson stopped breathing about 10 minutes after he relented and finally gave in to his patient's demands for propofol around 10:40 a.m., following a nightlong regimen of sedatives that did not work, according to court documents unsealed Monday.

A search warrant affidavit unsealed in Houston, where Los Angeles police took materials from one of Murray's clinics last month as part of their manslaughter investigation, includes a detailed account of what detectives say Murray told them. Manslaughter is homicide without malice or premeditation.

Conrad Murray (Getty)
The doctor said he'd been treating Jackson for insomnia for about six weeks with 50 milligrams of propofol every night via an intravenous drip, the affidavit said. Murray said he feared Jackson was becoming addicted to the anesthetic, which is supposed to be used only in hospitals and other advanced medical settings, so he had lowered the dose to 25 milligrams and added the sedatives lorazepam and midazolam.

That combination had succeeded in helping Jackson sleep two days prior to his death. So the next day, Murray told detectives, he cut off the propofol -- and Jackson fell asleep with just the two sedatives.

Then around 1:30 a.m. on June 25, starting with a 10-milligram tab of Valium, Murray said he tried a series of drugs instead of propofol to make Jackson sleep. The injections included two milligrams of lorazepam around 2 a.m., two milligrams of midazolam around 3 a.m., and repeats of each at 5 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. respectively.

They didn't work.

Murray told detectives that around 10:40 a.m. he gave in to Jackson's "repeated demands/requests" for propofol, which the singer called his "milk," according to the affidavit. He administered 25 milligrams of the white-colored liquid -- a relatively small dose -- and finally, Jackson fell asleep.

Murray remained with the sedated Jackson for about 10 minutes, then left for the bathroom, the affidavit said. Less than two minutes later, Murray returned -- and found Jackson had stopped breathing.

Cell phone records show three separate calls from Murray's phone for between 11:18 a.m. and 12:05 p.m., the affidavit said. It's not clear who received the calls. Murray had told authorities he was administering CPR during that time.

In a statement posted late Monday on his firm's Web site, Murray's attorney Edward Chernoff questioned the timeline as depicted in the affidavit, calling it "police theory."

"Dr. Murray simply never told investigators that he found Michael Jackson at 11:00 am not breathing," Chernoff said. He declined comment on the homicide ruling, saying "We will be happy to address the coroner's report when it is officially released."

It is no surprise that such a combination of medications could kill someone, said David Zvara, anesthesia chairman at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"All those drugs act in synergy with each other," Zvara said. Adding propofol on top of the other sedatives could have "tipped the balance" by depressing Jackson's breathing and ultimately stopping his heart.

The 25 milligrams of propofol "is not a whopping amount," said Lee Cantrell, director of the San Diego division of the California Poison Control System. It was the cocktail of the other sedatives, known as benzodiazepines, that "may have been the trigger that pushed him over the edge," Cantrell said.

Cantrell said it's perplexing that someone would give various benzodiazepines if one was found not to be effective.

"This is horrible polypharmacy," he said, referring to the interaction between the various drugs. "No one will treat an insomniac like this."

The affidavit, signed by a judge July 20, said that the coroner's office chief medical examiner told police his review of preliminary toxicology results showed "lethal levels of propofol."

Besides the propofol and two sedatives, the coroner's toxicology report found other substances in Jackson's system but they were not believed to have been a factor in the singer's death, the official told the AP.

Murray didn't tell paramedics or doctors at UCLA hospital where Jackson was rushed about any drugs he administered other than lorazepam and flumazenil, according to the affidavit.

It was only during a subsequent interview with Los Angeles Police detectives that Murray gave a more full accounting of the events leading up to the 911 call, the document said.

The coroner's office has not publicly released its autopsy findings, citing a request from police to withhold results until their investigation is complete.

A call to the coroner's office was not returned Monday. A spokeswoman for the Los Angeles District Attorney's said no case had been presented so the office had nothing to comment on.

The line between safe and dangerous doses of propofol is thin, and according to the drug's guidelines a trained professional must always stay bedside.

Word that Jackson was given the drug to help him sleep startled the medical community, not the least because the setting was his rented mansion. Home use of propofol is virtually unheard of -- safe administration requires both a specially trained anesthesiologist and an array of lifesaving equipment. Murray was trained as a heart doctor, not a pain and sedation specialist.

At Jackson's bedside were pill bottles for other drugs prescribed by Murray and two other doctors, the document says. The medicines include a variety of anti-insomnia drugs, a muscle relaxant and a drug for urinary problems from an enlarged prostate.

Investigators found about eight bottles of propofol in Jackson's home along with numerous other medications, according to the affidavit. Murray told investigators he didn't order or buy any propofol, but investigators served a search warrant Aug. 11 at a Las Vegas pharmacy and uncovered evidence showing Murray legally purchased from the store the propofol he gave Jackson the day he died.

When he died, Jackson was skinny but not overly emaciated, and his body had bed sores, the official said. The singer is believed to have developed bed sores in the months following his 2005 acquittal of child molestation charges, when he went into seclusion and spent long stretches in bed.

Jackson's family released a statement Monday, saying it has "full confidence" in the legal process and the efforts of investigators. It concludes: "The family looks forward to the day that justice can be served."

Spare Change: I make $400 a day begging

STnews Ken Johnson

Street life ... Homeless man Ken Johnson in the city. Pic. Angelo Soulas Source: The Sunday Telegraph

THE hours are long and the work monotonous, but begging pays well for at least one of Sydney's homeless men who earns up to $50,000 a year from good samaritans.

Ken Johnson, 52, makes his living at George and Market St, outside the Myer store in Sydney's CBD, where he sits for up to 16 hours daily, seven days a week.

On a good day, he said, he takes in $400 from generous passers-by.

On slower days, he still picks up amounts between $75 and $150.

"I'd be really disappointed if I did a long Friday and I only had $250,'' said Mr Johnson, who has been living on the streets ``since the late '90s''.

"I knock off when I feel like it, or if I've done brilliantly. But on those good days, you might be on such a high that you go for a few more hours and get a bit more money.''

Mr Johnson wouldn't say how much he earned last year. But he did reveal that donated coins and notes are stashed in a safe place, before being taken to a bank branch and deposited in his account several times a week. Some of the money is given to a friend.

Asked what he used the money for, he told The Sunday Telegraph he did not smoke, drink nor take drugs, but was raising money to help the friend who needs a liver transplant.

Mr Johnson displays a sign that reads: ``Needing support for major family exp(enses) including just heaps for medicine. Paying up is a big grind. Please leave me alone, if you are the abusive nasty sort.''

When The Sunday Telegraph caught up with him last Wednesday, business had been good. In 20 minutes, he collected $30 in coins and notes. One woman handed him $10.

"I've had three hours off today,'' he said, after treating himself to a breakfast from Hungry Jack's.

"I got a $20 note earlier, so I'm sitting on about $60 for the day and the afternoon rush is still to come.

"There's a general rule in donating and that is that people are more likely to help out when they are towards the end of their day, when they're happy and heading home.''

His tax-free income might sound fine but, unlike most jobs, there's no sick leave nor superannuation plan.
He does not draw welfare because ``it makes you feel like a cripple''.

Mr Johnson said he could not afford to rent and lived on the streets because the money had been spent to pay for bills for his friend.

"Most hostels don't have space to store things and to rent a small unit just costs too much when you're at stress point,'' he said.

Originally from Newcastle, he said he came to Sydney ``in the 1990s'' to fight a court battle against the RTA, seeking to have part of the Pacific Highway at Swansea deemed illegal.

"Inner-city accommodation was, and still is, just off the face of the earth _ it's just too expensive,'' he said. ``I was unemployed at the time, so decided to sleep on some concrete steps while I was in Sydney and I just got used to it.''

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures from the 2006 Census show 27,374 homeless people in NSW.
An Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) spokeswoman said ``rough sleepers'' represented about 16 per cent of the homeless.

She said many turned to begging because government welfare did not cover costs, and ``for those who do receive income support, payments may be inadequate to meet the costs of temporary accommodation and food.

The Newstart unemployment payment is about $32 a day.

"Of those who do sleep on the street, only a tiny minority choose to do so, as a lifestyle choice. For most people who are homeless, there is no choice.''

Royal Mail first class postage stamps launched for London 2012 Olympic Games

A diver by Julian Opie

First-class stamps which champion the different Olympic and Paralympic sports at the London 2012 Games have been unveiled. Each stamp is designed by a leading artist. The first set of ten stamps go on sale on October 22. Artists are designing images of another 20 sports for stamps that will go on sale in 2010 and 2012. Aquatics is illustrated with an image of a diver by Julian Opie

An action-packed illustration of canoe slalom by John Royle

An action-packed illustration of canoe slalom by John Royle

A shuttlecock by David Holmes was used as the image for badminton

A shuttlecock by David Holmes was used as the image for badminton

Weightlifting is illustrated by Guy Billout

Weightlifting is illustrated by Guy Billout

A track athletics collage by Nathalie Guinamard

A track athletics collage by Nathalie Guinamard

Picture: PA

Basketball by Huntley Muir

Basketball by Huntley Muir

Picture: PA

The judo image was drawn by Paul Slater

The judo image was drawn by Paul Slater

Picture: PA

Paralympic archery illustrated by George Hardie

Paralympic archery illustrated by George Hardie

Picture: PA

Boccia is illustrated by David Doyle

Boccia is illustrated by David Doyle

Paralympic Dressage by Andrew Davidson

Paralympic Equestrian by Andrew Davidson

Robots swim with the fishes

New robots mimic fish's swimming, could be used in underwater exploration

Anne Trafton, News Office
August 24, 2009

Borrowing from Mother Nature, a team of MIT researchers has built a school of swimming robo-fish that slip through the water just as gracefully as the real thing, if not quite as fast.

Mechanical engineers Kamal Youcef-Toumi and Pablo Valdivia Y Alvarado have designed the sleek robotic fish to more easily maneuver into areas where traditional underwater autonomous vehicles can't go. Fleets of the new robots could be used to inspect submerged structures such as boats and oil and gas pipes; patrol ports, lakes and rivers; and help detect environmental pollutants.

"Given the (robotic) fish's robustness, it would be ideal as a long-term sensing and exploration unit. Several of these could be deployed, and even if only a small percentage make it back there wouldn't be a terrible capital loss due to their low cost," says Valdivia Y Alvarado, a recent MIT PhD recipient in mechanical engineering.

Robotic fish are not new: In 1994, MIT ocean engineers demonstrated Robotuna, a four-foot-long robotic fish. But while Robotuna had 2,843 parts controlled by six motors, the new robotic fish, each less than a foot long, are powered by a single motor and are made of fewer than 10 individual components, including a flexible, compliant body that houses all components and protects them from the environment. The motor, placed in the fish's midsection, initiates a wave that travels along the fish's flexible body, propelling it forward.

Video: Kamal Youcef-Toumi and Pablo Valdivia Y Alvarado/MIT News Office

The robofish bodies are continuous (i.e., not divided into different segments), flexible and made from soft polymers. This makes them more maneuverable and better able to mimic the swimming motion of real fish, which propel themselves by contracting muscles on either side of their bodies, generating a wave that travels from head to tail.

"Most swimming techniques can be copied by exploiting natural vibrations of soft structures," says Valdivia Y Alvarado.

As part of his doctoral thesis, Valdivia Y Alvarado created a model to calculate the optimal material properties distributions along the robot's body to create a fish with the desired speed and swimming motion. The model, which the researchers initially proposed in the journal Dynamic Systems Measurements and Control (ASME), also takes into account the robot's mass and volume. A more detailed model is described in Valdivia Y Alvarado's thesis and will soon be published along with new applications by the group.

Other researchers, including a team at the University of Essex, have developed new generations of robotic fish using traditional assembly of rigid components to replicate the motions of fish, but the MIT team is the only one using controlled vibrations of flexible bodies to mimic biological locomotion.

"With these polymers, you can specify stiffness in different sections, rather than building a robot with discrete sections," says Youcef-Toumi. "This philosophy can be used for more than just fish" - for example, in robotic prosthetic limbs.

Mimicking fish

With motors in their bellies and power cords trailing as they swim, the robo-fish might not be mistaken for the real thing, but they do a pretty good fish impersonation.

The team's first prototypes, about five inches long, mimic the carangiform swimming technique used by bass and trout. Most of the movement takes place in the tail end of the body. Fish that use this type of motion are generally fast swimmers, with moderate maneuverability.

Later versions of the robo-fish, about eight inches long, swim like tuna, which are adapted for even higher swimming speeds and long distances. In tuna, motion is concentrated in the tail and the peduncle region (where the tail attaches to the body), and the amplitude of body motions in this region is greater than in carangiform fish.

Real fish are exquisitely adapted to moving through their watery environment, and can swim as fast as 10 times their body length per second. So far, the MIT researchers have gotten their prototypes close to one body length per second - much slower than their natural counterparts but faster than earlier generations of robotic fish.

The new robo-fish are also more durable than older models - with their seamless bodies, there is no chance of water leaking into the robots and damaging them. Several four-year-old prototypes are still functioning after countless runs through the testing tank, which is filled with tap water.

Current prototypes require 2.5 to 5 watts of power, depending on the robot's size. That electricity now comes from an external source, but in the future the researchers hope to power the robots with a small internal battery.

Later this fall, the researchers plan to expand their research to more complex locomotion and test some new prototype robotic salamanders and manta rays.

"The fish were a proof of concept application, but we are hoping to apply this idea to other forms of locomotion, so the methodology will be useful for mobile robotics research - land, air and underwater - as well," said Valdivia Y Alvarado.

The work was funded by the Singapore-MIT Alliance and Schlumberger Ltd.

Elle Magazine Offers Internship To Homeless Girl

By Matt

Not just a random homeless girl either but one of our very own, Bri, today heard that she was to be given the opportunity to work with Elle Magazine’s advice columnist E. Jean. So, just how does a homeless girl get to become an intern at one of the world’s most prestigious fashion magazines?

The story goes back to April when she came across an ad last looking for writers/fashionistas to do an advice columnist competition.

“I believe they were specifically looking for ‘the Next Carrie Bradshaw’. OK, I have to admit, I’ve never seen a single episode of ‘Sex and the City’. Yes, I’m a traitor to my gender.”

It was more a shot in the dark than anything and she was quite certain she would never hear anything back from them but figured she would send in a quick letter with her story and see what happened.

“I mean, I’m less of a writer than a blogger, but I do love writing, and I love fashion, especially vintage and retro clothing. I bet I could out-cute SJP and her super-overpaid stylist any day, haha.”

Only she did hear back from them:

“…a certain chika was called in for a screen test this week. Guess who? (hint: me!!!!!)”

Of course now she found out what she was actually getting herself into. She discovered that the little competition she thought she had entered was in fact a reality tv show, produced by Freemantle Media of American Idol/America’s Got Talent fame.

“And the prize? An internship at Elle magazine, being mentored by a very funny, slightly crazy, super-awesome columnist whom I’ve read for years.”

Everyone remembers Chris Gardner, subject of the movie Pursuit Of Happyness, right? For those that don’t know the story, Chris Gardner earned a high-profile internship while living homeless - an internship which enabled him to go on to become a giant in the financial sector and multi-millionnaire.

However, it was too early to start thinking about movie deals just yet as this was certainly not to be the end of the story. On the day of the screen test, nerves got the better of her and in her own words, “I bombed it.”

Now regular readers here who know Bri also know how spirited and determined she can be and that she is not one to give up on something easily. She then took it upon herself to write in to E. Jean herself via her column at Elle.

Dear E. Jean: I’m currently homeless and living in a Wal-Mart parking lot. I’m educated, I have never done drugs, and I am not mentally ill. I have a strong employment history and am a career executive assistant. The instability sucks, but I’m rocking it as best as I can. Recently I stumbled across a job notice (a reality show casting call for executive assistants) and was intrigued enough to apply. It was a shot in the dark, and I assumed I’d never hear back. Surprise! I was called in this week! And I promptly bombed it. When I found out who was involved in the show I got kind of starstruck and completely froze up. My usual personality did not radiate. My question: How does one get another shot when one screws up a job interview? —Homeless, but Not Hopeless

Once more, Bri never expected to receive any response so you can imagine her surprise when she discovered not only that her letter had been published in Elle Magazine but also to the response that E. Jean had written to her.

“Of course, the cleverest way to land a good job (and get an apartment) is to already have a good job/internship/volunteer position. This strategy permits you to impress the interviewers with the superhuman passion you have for your current projects.”

“This is what you did with your letter: You knocked me out with your courage and spirit. I am therefore, Miss Not Hopeless, offering you a four-month internship……. If you accept this internship, you’ll telecommute to my East Coast mountain office one hour a day, six days a week. At the end of the four months, if you don’t have a job and an awesome place to live, I will become your intern.”

There was one more small potential problem, the article was a month old already and Bri only found out today. Some frantic emailing and a little cyber-stalking later though and Bri was able to make contact and verify that the position was still available to her. She starts September 1st.

Nokia Booklet 3G Netbook: First Video and Specs

This morning we wrote about the upcoming Nokia Booklet 3G, well here’s some more info about the device including a video. The netbook will have:

- aGPS

- Ovi Maps

- HDMI output

- 12 hour battery

- Bluetooth

- WiFi

- Integrated 3G wireless SIM car

- 10-inch glass HD ready display

- Sync to smartphone through Avi Suited.

It’s supposed to be 2cm thick (around the size of the Macbook air) and weigh 2.7 pounds. It’ll be powered by Windows 7.

From the video, it looks like a sweet netbook, but then again a lot of netbooks look great until you start to use them. Check out the video after the break.

(Via Pulse2)

Christopher Nolan’s Inception Teaser Trailer Gets Funky

Posted by Neil Miller (


Your mind is the scene of a crime. Lucky for us, there is no crime being committed against the art of cinema here, as The Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan is finally in the game with a trailer for his new film, Inception. Until today — or this weekend, for those who saw it in theaters — all we knew about Inception was that it was “set inside the architecture of the mind.” Now we know that it includes some sort of a dreidel reference, Leonardo DiCaprio having some wild visions, and two guys fighting in a hallway, Matrix-style.

Where does that leave us? With a continued trust that Christopher Nolan, who before he brought us The Dark Knight gave us films such as Memento and The Prestige, will not lead us astray. He’s a great storyteller who is following the second highest grossing film of all-time with an aggressive science fiction pic. And at this point, it’s impossible to judge this movie based on less than a minute of actual footage. But I will say this: that fight scene in the hallway looks pretty cool.

Inception stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine and Cillian Murphy. It is scheduled to hit theaters July 16, 2010. Check out the teaser below, courtesy of Yahoo Movies.

Sh*t My Dad Says may be the best thing to come from Twitter I'm 28. I live with my 73-year-old dad. He is awesome. I just write down ***** that he says.

"You need to flush the toilet more than once...No, YOU, YOU specifically need to. You know what, use a different toilet. This is my toilet."

"Don't touch the bacon, it's not done yet. You let me handle the bacon, and i'll let you handle..what ever it is you do. I guess nothing."

click here to subscribe to this twitter feed

Ted Kennedy Dies of Brain Cancer at Age 77

'Liberal Lion' of the Senate Led Storied Political Family After Deaths of President John F. Kennedy, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy

Aug. 26, 2009—

Sen. Ted Kennedy died shortly before midnight Tuesday at his home in Hyannis Port, Mass., at age 77.

The man known as the "liberal lion of the Senate" had fought a more than year-long battle with brain cancer, and according to his son had lived longer with the disease than his doctors expected him to.

"We've lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever," the Kennedy family said in a statement. "He loved this country and devoted his life to serving it."

Visit ABC News' special section on Sen. Ted Kennedy.
See photos of Sen. Ted Kennedy's life.
See photos of the Kennedy family's history of privilege and loss.

Sen. Edward Moore Kennedy, the youngest Kennedy brother who was left to head the family's political dynasty after his brothers President John F. Kennedy and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated.

Kennedy championed health care reform, working wages and equal rights in his storied career. In August, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- the nation's highest civilian honor -- by President Obama. His daughter, Kara Kennedy, accepted the award on his behalf.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, known as Ted or Teddy, was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in May 2008 and underwent a successful brain surgery soon after that. But his health continued to deteriorate, and Kennedy suffered a seizure while attending the luncheon following President Barack Obama's inauguration.

For Kennedy, the ascension of Obama was an important step toward realizing his goal of health care reform.

At the Democratic National Convention in August 2008, the Massachusetts Democrat promised, "I pledge to you that I will be there next January on the floor of the United States Senate when we begin the great test."

Sen. Kennedy made good on that pledge, but ultimately lost his battle with cancer.

Kennedy was first elected to the Senate in 1962, at the age of 30, and his tenure there would span four decades.

A hardworking, well-liked politician who became the standard-bearer of his brothers' liberal causes, his career was clouded by allegations of personal immorality and accusations that his family's clout helped him avoid the consequences of an accident that left a young woman dead.

But for the younger members of the Kennedy clan, from his own three children to those of his brothers JFK and RFK, Ted Kennedy -- once seen as the youngest and least talented in a family of glamorous overachievers -- was both a surrogate father and the center of the family.

And certainly it was Ted Kennedy who bore many of the tragedies of the family -- the violent deaths of four of his siblings, his son's battle with cancer, and the death of his nephew John F. Kennedy Jr. in a plane crash.

Kennedy, Youngest Kennedy Brother, Led Political Dynasty in Wake of Tragedy

Edward Moore Kennedy was born in Brookline, Mass., on Feb. 22, 1932, the ninth and youngest child of Joseph P. Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy.

His father, a third-generation Irish-American who became a multimillionaire businessman and served for a time as a U.S. ambassador to Britain, had risen high and was determined that his sons would rise higher still.

Overshadowed by his elder siblings, Teddy, as he was known to family and friends, grew up mostly in the New York City suburb of Bronxville, N.Y., and attended private boarding schools. He was expelled from Harvard during his freshman year after he asked a friend to take an exam for him.

After a two-year stint in the Army, Kennedy returned to earn degrees at Harvard and then the University of Virginia law school. He married Virginia Joan Bennett, known by her middle name, in 1958. The couple would have three children, Kara, Teddy Jr. and Patrick.

By the time he reached adulthood, tragedy had already claimed some of his siblings: eldest brother Joe Jr. was killed in World War II, sister Kathleen died in a plane crash, and another sister, Rosemary, who was mildly retarded, had to be institutionalized following a botched lobotomy.

But then the family hit its pinnacle in 1960, when John F. Kennedy became president.

His brother's ascension created a political opportunity, and Joe Kennedy decided he should take over JFK's Senate seat. Ted Kennedy was only 28 at the time -- two years short of the required age -- so a family friend was found to hold the temporary appointment.

In 1962, Ted Kennedy -- backed by his family money and the enthusiasm his name generated among Massachusetts' Catholics, was elected to the Senate.

The Only One Left

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. His brother Robert became the focus of the family's -- and much of the country's -- dreams.

Following the tragedy in Dallas, Robert and Ted Kennedy became closer than they had ever been as children.

"When I was working for Robert Kennedy, there was hardly a day in which the two of them didn't physically get together, I would say at least three or four times," said Frank Mankiewicz, who served as an aide to Robert Kennedy. "I mean, if, if Sen. Robert Kennedy wasn't in his office, and nobody knew where he was, chances are he was seeing Ted about something."

Five years later, while pursuing the Democratic presidential nomination in 1968 against Lyndon Johnson, Sen. Bobby Kennedy was shot and killed. That left Ted as the only surviving Kennedy son.

"He seriously contemplated getting out of politics after Robert's death," said Kennedy biographer Adam Clymer. "He thought, you know, it might just be too much. He might be too obviously the next target and all of that. But he decided to stick it out and as he said on more than one occasion, pick up a fallen standard."

Kennedy was seen by many as his brothers' heir, and perhaps he could have won the White House had he stepped into the presidential race then. But he didn't. And the very next year there occurred a tragedy that would forever block Ted Kennedy's presidential ambitions.

In July 1969, following a party on Martha's Vineyard, Kennedy drove off a bridge on the tiny Massachusetts island of Chappaquiddick. The car plunged into the water. Kennedy escaped, but his passenger did not.

Kennedy later said he dived into the water repeatedly in a vain attempt to save Mary Jo Kopechne, one of the "boiler room girls" who had worked on Bobby Kennedy's campaign. But Kopechne, 28, drowned, still trapped in the car.

Questions arose about how Kennedy had known Kopechne -- he denied any "private relationship," and Kopechne's parents also insisted there was no relationship -- and why he failed to report the accident for about nine hours.

Kennedy pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of leaving the scene of an accident. He received a two-month suspended sentence and lost his driver's license for a year, but the political price was higher.

Kennedy was re-elected to the Senate in 1970, but the accident at Chappaquiddick effectively squashed his presidential hopes.

He ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination in 1979 against incumbent President Jimmy Carter.

Once when his daughter Kara, then 19, was passing out campaign leaflets, a man took one and said to her, "You know your father killed a young woman about your age, don't you?"

Kennedy Curse: Political Power, Personal Tragedy

Sen. Ted Kennedy was not done confronting personal tragedy.

In 1973, 12-year-old Teddy Jr. was diagnosed with bone cancer, and he had to have a leg amputated. Kennedy's marriage to Joan deteriorated. Some blamed her drinking, others cited his alleged womanizing. The couple divorced in 1981.

In contrast, Kennedy's career in the Senate continued to flourish.

He supported teachers' unions, women's and abortion rights, and health care reform. He sponsored the Family and Medical Leave Act. And he was seen as a stalwart of the Democratic Party, delivering several rousing speeches at conventions.

Former Boston Glober reporter Tom Oliphant, who covered Kennedy's career in Washington, observed, "It's not all back slapping and, and personal relationships. I think one of the things that sets Kennedy's politics apart is his, what I call his dirty little secret. He works like a dog."

Political analyst Mark Shields said Kennedy's "concerns were national concerns, but his forum for achieving his ends and changing policy, became the Senate. And he mastered it like nobody else I've ever seen."

But another family incident exposed Kennedy's vulnerabilities and held him up to public censure.

A nephew, William Kennedy Smith, was accused of raping a woman at the family's estate in Palm Beach, Fla. The case generated lurid headlines around the world. Kennedy was at the estate at the time of the alleged attack and had been at the bar where Smith met his accuser.

Eyebrows were raised even further when a young woman who had been with Kennedy's son Patrick that night revealed that she had seen the senator roaming around the house at night, wearing an oxford shirt but no trousers.

Smith was acquitted following a highly sensational trial, but the incident definitely left a dent in Kennedy's armor. His alleged heavy drinking and womanizing were widely lampooned, and in October 1991 he thought it prudent to be low-key in his opposition to Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, who had been accused of sexually harassing a former subordinate.

Kennedy's life, both professional and personal, took a turn for the better in 1992.

He married Victoria Reggie, a divorced attorney with two children from a previous marriage, Curran and Caroline. That year Kennedy also supported Bill Clinton, an open admirer of the Kennedy clan.

"Well, sometime during our courtship, I realized that I didn't want to live the rest of my life without Vicky," Kennedy said about his wife of nearly 30 years. "And since we have been together, it's made my life a lot more fulfilling. I think more serene, kind of emotional stability."

Elected in 1992, President Bill Clinton appointed Kennedy's sister, Jean Kennedy Smith, ambassador to Ireland. And in 1994, Kennedy had the satisfaction of seeing his son Patrick elected to the House of Representatives from Rhode Island.

But tragedy returned that year.

In May 1994, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis died of cancer. Kennedy had remained close to his sister-in-law, who once quit her job at a publisher's after it came out with an unflattering biography of Ted.

Kennedy's Battle With Cancer Lost

Kennedy had served as a surrogate father for many of his nephews and nieces, but he may have been closest to Jackie's children, Caroline and John F. Kennedy Jr.

He was horrified when in July 1999, five years after Jackie's death, John Jr. and his bride of two years, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, along with her sister Lauren Bessette, were killed when the small plane John was piloting crashed off the Massachusetts island of Martha's Vineyard.

Sen. Kennedy led the family during the harrowing wait for information as Coast Guard crews searched for the missing plane.

When the bodies were retrieved from the ocean, Kennedy and his two sons went to identify the remains. The senator's eulogy for his nephew who "had every gift but length of years" and "the wife who became his perfect soul mate" touched grief-stricken Americans.

It was an all-too-familiar sight for those who remember Ted Kennedy mourning the deaths of his brothers John and Robert, and helping the family bear up after the deaths of Robert's sons David and Michael.

For decades, it was Ted Kennedy who carried the burden and led the way as the patriarch of a family seen as America's answer to royalty.