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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

All the Single Babies

If you're not married by the time you're two you've missed your chance. You're an old maid.

'Family Guy' premiere: Griffins go multiverse (video)

The seventh season premiere of Fox's "Family Guy" takes a cue from "Fringe," with Stewie and Brian traveling to various parallel universes. Here's an early look with four clips, "Family Guy" returns this Sunday ...

Bad Boys III in the Works

bad-boys.jpg 485×324 pixels.jpg
We're pretty sure Michael Bay has a devious plan to blow up every square inch of Miami-Dade County... if only through the film magic of CGI. So it's not much of a surprise that the third film in his Bad Boys franchise is in the works.

Starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence as your favorite Miami detective duo this side of Crockett and Tubbs, the previous two films, released in '95 and '03, have grossed more than $400 million at the box office.

Neither Bay, Smith, nor Lawrence has officially signed on, but novelist turned action movie scripter Peter Craig is working on a script in the hopes it will entice all three back.

Of course, there's no promise the action will stay in Miami. But as long as it's not Bad Boys Down Under or Bad Boys in Space, we can deal.

Navigate Oktoberfest

From Wired How-To Wiki

Sunday in Hacker-Pschorr tent, Oktoberfest 2008. Photo: Nicholas Macgowan/Flickr.
Sunday in Hacker-Pschorr tent, Oktoberfest 2008. Photo: Nicholas Macgowan/Flickr.

It has become an annual tradition in Munich: Every year, after the 16 days of voracious beer drinking known as the Oktoberfest come to an end, every editor in town assigns a cub reporter to do an article on the festival's lost and found booty.

2008's haul included 280 mobile phones, 410 wallets, four wedding rings, a toupee and a Superman costume.

But it is the other statistics surrounding Munich's impossibly large folk festival that make jaws drop and mouths water around the world. Fully 100,000 festival goers can sit and gulp beer at the same time. Some 6 million visitors a year put back over 6.5 million liters of beer in just over two weeks. Hundreds of thousands of chickens, thousands of suckling pigs and over 100 oxen are served up to hungry partiers each year.

Still, despite the mind-blowing dimensions of the event, a visit to the world's most outsized party can end in sober frustration if not done right. Here's how to ensure your visit leaves you wanting to go back.

This article is a page on a wiki anyone can edit. Got extra advice? Log in and contribute.



When to go

Those who believe the stereotype about the German penchant for accuracy are in danger of missing the event entirely. Most of Oktoberfest actually takes place in September, with the final day being the first Sunday in October. (The 2009 festival goes from Sept. 19 to Oct. 4.)

The anomaly stems from the origins of the event: To celebrate the 1810 wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig von Bayern to Princess Therese, the city staged a day of frivolity and horse racing on Oct. 17.

The party proved so popular that it quickly became an annual event, and it was ultimately expanded and moved forward a few weeks to take advantage of better weather in late September. Barring war, an 1854 cholera epidemic and 1920s hyper-inflation, the event has taken place on Munich's Theresienwiese (Therese's Meadow) every year since.

Time it right

But just hitting the right month isn't enough -- Oktoberfest is not the place to go if you're looking for an all-night bender. Last call comes at 10:30pm, and an army of surly bouncers is remarkably adept at clearing out the tents by 11:30pm, (The two wine tents, Käfer's Wiesnschänke and the Weinzelt, are open until 1:00am).

Furthermore, only seated guests are served and, with a few hundred thousand parched patrons hoping to slake their thirst, there is no guarantee of finding a free table, even on the patios outside. Tents can often fill up by early afternoon, leading to closed doors and long, slow-moving lines.

The good news is that the tents open their doors at 10:00am on weekdays and 9:00am on weekends, so get there early (by noon on Saturdays and Sundays) if you're serious about your beer drinking.

It is possible to reserve tables for groups, though they need to be made months in advance. Go to the official Oktoberfest website and navigate to the tent of your choice. Each tent has its own website and bank of phone numbers.

How to get there

Theresienwiese, referred to simply as the Wiesn by Munich natives, is just a stone's throw from the city's main train station. This means Oktoberfest is just a short walk away for those staying in the myriad hotels crammed into the side streets behind the tracks.

Otherwise, public transportation is the way to go. Take the subway line U4 or U5 to Theresienwiese or the U3 or U6 to Goetheplatz.

What to bring

Every year, Munich pundits begin complaining about the price of beer well in advance of the first Oktoberfest keg being tapped. And the festival is nothing if not expensive.

A liter of beer goes for 8.60 euros. A meal in the tents can run to 15 euros. Once the beer munchies kick in, cash starts disappearing in a hurry.

Even if getting drunk isn't your first priority, the bottom line can come as a bit of a shock. The myriad rides available tend toward the pricey and grazing at the hundreds of food counters or trying your luck at the game booths will also eat into your wallet.

In short, bring plenty of cash. The ATMs on site tend to be mobbed, and credit cards won't get you very far. Beyond that, leave your valuables in the hotel.

The beer tents

There are many brave souls in Munich who take two weeks off work during Oktoberfest just so they can head to the Wiesn everyday for 16 solid days of partying. And once you've set foot inside one of the tents (actually vast, pre-fabricated wooden structures) and latched onto your first Mass (as a liter of beer is called in Bavaria), it isn't difficult to understand why. The music is bad, the air is stuffy and the cigarette smoke is thick, but there is nothing quite like getting blasted with 10,000 complete strangers.

Still, all beer tents were not created equal. Only the six breweries that brew their beer inside the city limits of Munich are allowed to supply suds at the Oktoberfest, and if you have a hankering for a specific label, you need to figure out which tent serves it. Indeed, it is for this reason that the Munich beer cognoscenti flock to the Augustiner tent, it being almost a consensus among locals that Augustiner brews the city's finest.

Beer, however, is not the only determinate of what the tents have to offer.

The Hofbräu tent tends to be the most raucous of the bunch due to its popularity among young foreigners, particularly the Americans and Australians. Indeed, many locals avoid it due to the degree of over-indulgence on display within.

Young Munich natives instead like to congregate in the Schottenhamel tent. The Hippodrome is where to head for (German) celebrity spotting and if you want a liter of Hefeweizen instead of the standard Helles (a pale lager). Go to the Ochsenbraterei if you want to sample some ox roasted on a gigantic spit instead of the standard tent meal of a half a chicken. The smaller Fischer Vroni tent has a good variety of fish dishes. The Hacker Festzelt has rock music instead of the more traditional brass bands on offer everywhere else.

No matter where you end up though, remember that, if you leave a tent, it might be difficult to get back in. And don't lose track of your toupee.

This article was originally submitted by contributor Charles Hawley.

This page was last modified 23:33, 18 September 2009 by howto_admin.

Chronic City: Darkness In San Diego -- Attack On Medical Marijuana Moving Northward

Courtesy Donna Lambert
San Diego medical marijuana patient Donna Lambert was arrested in Operation Green Rx as part of the "crackdown."
First, we heard from ambitious, headline-seeking San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis that there are "no such things" as legal medical marijuana dispensaries, despite state law. Now, even as a brutal crackdown on providers and patients is underway in San Diego County, officials from Los Angeles and other counties are being influenced by San Diego's anti-weed brigade to implement their hardline policies further north.

At a Long Beach City Council meeting yesterday, City Prosecutor Tom Reeves was still flushed with anti-ganja fervor as he told the council of attending a summit last week held by L.A. County DA Steve Cooley, where the message was that all dispensaries are illegal and will be prosecuted. What this means, he told the council, is that Long Beach can't or shouldn't try to regulate dispensaries.
Hardliner Long Beach prosecutor Tom Reeves: "You can't regulate illegal businesses."
​ "Over-the-counter sales are illegal," Reeves flatly stated. "So you're not helping us any," Councilwoman Tonia Reyes Uranga repied. "I'm helping you a great deal," Reeves snapped. "I just told you that you can't regulate illegal businesses."

So even as city governments in places like Long Beach honestly try to grapple with the real issues surrounding regulation and recognition of medical marijuana dispensaries -- including possibilities like taxation, on-site inspections and regulations similar to liquor stores or adult businesses -- their "legal experts" and law enforcement officials are giving them monumentally bad advice which seems to be in conflict with state law.

Not surprisingly, since those present couldn't agree on whether such a thing as a legal dispensary even exists, the Long Beach council didn't find a solution after two hours of discussion, and will continue wrestling with the issue at a future meeting.

San Diego: Bitter Intransigence and Stubborn Refusal

DA Bonnie M. Dumanis (sized).jpg
Office of Bonnie Dumanis
San Diego DA Bonnie Dumanis: arrest 'em all and let the courts sort it out
San Diego County officials have simply refused to abide by the will of the voters and accept the state's medical marijuana law. For 13 years now, since the passage of Proposition 215 by voters in 1996, and even since the law was clarified and expanded by the Legislature with SB 420 in 2004, they've been fighting the practical implementation of legal medical marijuana.

The notoriously conservative San Diego County Board of Commissioners is well known for its irrational opposition to medical pot, even pursuing a quixotic and hopeless challenge to the law all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, losing the case in every court that heard it, every step of the way.

Last week, the Board unanimously extended for 10 more months what had been a 45-day moratorium on new dispensaries in unincorporated areas of San Diego County. After its court challenge to the law was defeated, the Board began grudgingly issuing ID cards for medical marijuana users. But in the meantime, DA Dumanis has sent her raiders to shut down dispensaries and arrest their owners, creating a climate of fear and confusion among patients countywide.

The latest raids forced at least 14 dispensaries to close, and resulted in at least 33 arrests. Dumanis assembled strike forces of San Diego Police, San Diego County Sheriff's officers, DEA agents, and IRS agents to descend on the dispensaries, make arrests, seize cash and pot, and disrupt the local medical marijuana distribution system. Many patients who had come to depend on safe, legal access to the medicine recommended by their doctors were left in the lurch.

"I don't think Bonnie Dumanis has ever seen a 'legal dispensary' in 13 years," said Dion Markgraff, San Diego coordinator for Americans for Safe Access (ASA). "She can't follow the plain language of the law, but instead she holds some impossible standard that no one else knows about. The DA is sending in cops who lied to doctors to get valid recommendations, and then busting dispensaries that are operating according to the law."

"The question in court is, 'Can one medical marijuana patient help another and be exempt from sales charges?' " patient Donna Lambert, arrested back in February in the "Operation Green Rx" phase of Dumanis' crackdown, told the SF Weekly. "The answer is a clear yes, but San Diego has not yet accepted that. For a total of two quarter ounces of marijuana, they did a SWAT-style raid on my home, pointed assault rifles at me and tore my house apart," she said. Lambert is still fighting her case in court.

San Diego attorney Patrick Dudley has represented people accused of illegal use of medical marijuana. "Most people would say that the last battleground for medical marijuana is San Diego," Dudley told NPR.

Under state law, medical marijuana patients and primary caregivers may "associate within the State of California in order collectively or cooperatively to cultivate marijuana for medical purposes" (§ 11362.775). But according to Dudley, San Diego law enforcement has shown no inclination to help dispensaries understand how to follow the law. Their approach, he says, is to arrest first and ask questions later.

Tags: chronic city

Conchords Claim Three Songs OTW to Rock Band

When Jemaine Clement deadpans that Flight of the Conchords, the outrageous music/comedy duo who just missed an Emmy last night, has three tunes coming to Rock Band, I have two reactions: "Oh, B.S.," and "God, I hope so."

The Emmys' red carpet is a weird place to drop a bomb like that, and the interviewer's reaction leads one to believe a publicist didn't plant the question ahead of time. Of course, the interviewer's also completely thrown off by the fact they "broke through security," to do the spot.

I have emailed Harmonix to ask what gives, if this is on the record, and if so, which tunes will be included. If this is true, and take it with a heaping helping of Morton's, "Business Time" and "Leggy Blonde" are lead-pipe locks.

Of course, Tenacious D is in the game, too, so it's not impossible. But one thing they teach in improv comedy is to always agree with what's been said - "Yes, and ..." - so that might be what's going on here.

[Thanks Ryan R. for the tip]

7 Intriguing Genetically Modified Fruits & VeggiesS

By Ecoist


Genetically modified food is one of great controversies of our time. Supporters point to wonderful possibilities of nutrient-packed food and solving world hunger, while critics fear unknown effects on human health. But whatever one’s opinion the matter, one thing is clear: some genetically modified fruits and vegetables are awfully intriguing! Here are 7 of the most interesting examples:



(Image via Elanso)

The graisin (or giant raisin) is a raisin which has been genetically re-programmed to grow far beyond its normal size. It was produced by Japan’s National Institute of Genetics, which is unsurprising given that nation’s love for large fruits of all kinds. And while they taste exactly the same as small raisins, graisins are sure to make dinner guests stare in awe!



(Image via Wikipedia)

Originally funded by UNICEF and created for Third World aid efforts, a grapple is simply a genetic cross between a grape and an apple. The fruit keeps the size and shape of the apple, the texture of the grape, and the flavor of both while providing a potent, high-strength dose of vitamin C.



(Image via

Plums and apricots are delicious fruits in their own right, but combined, they form the genetically modified treat known as the pluot. Described by WiseGeek as “an intensely flavored fruit”, pluots are heavily fortified with vitamin C and have no sodium or cholesterol.



(Image via TeamSugar)

“Should I have a tangerine or a grapefruit?” No longer need this question be asked! Lovers of each fruit can now get the best of both worlds with this sweet hybrid, which boasts a ton of fiber, vitamin C, and a slightly tart taste!

Colorful carrots


(Image via MSNBC)

Could colorful, genetically-modified carrots like those pictured here be the secret to absorbing more calcium? Two Texas researchers say yes – and they’ve created a carrot they claim allows people to absorb 40% more calcium than normal carrots to back up their claims!

Diabetes-fighting lettuce


(Image via FloridaTrend)

Diabetes is one of the most frustrating and life-threatening illnesses out there. Living with it (at minimum) means daily, sometimes painful insulin injections – until now. University of Central Florida professor Henry Daniell has created a genetically modified strain of lettuce (pictured above) that carries the insulin gene. The lettuce cells protect the insulin on its journey through the digestive tract, and when the insulin reaches the intestines, the body’s natural insulin-producing response is triggered.



(Image via FreeWebs)

Okay, so a lemon and a tomato aren’t the most natural of pairs, but that didn’t stop Israeli researchers from bringing us the Lemato! Unlike other genetically altered fruits and veggies (which were created primarily for health reasons), it appears that the lemato was solely an experiment to determine if it was possible to make tomatos give off the scent of lemons. Mission accomplished!

12 Things You Didn't Know About Judaism

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Now that Rosh Hashanah, one of the best known Jewish holidays, has arrived we have a chance to start again, to discover new things about ourselves, each other and even about ancient traditions like Judaism. While there's a lot to learn (just think of Jews who've studied the Torah over the centuries), every journey starts somewhere. With that in mind, here are 12 things most people don't know about Judaism. From sacred time to sacred sex, you may be surprised by what you learn.

Adam, Eve, and the Snake

1. Judaism isn't about being Jewish; it's a spiritual-ethical technology for being a good person. From the very beginning, the Bible tells the story of the first humans, Adam and Eve, who were not Jewish - they were simply two people trying to make a good life in the world as they found it. That's what Judaism is all about.

Cloud Stairway to Heaven

2. You don't need to be Jewish to get into Heaven. For those people concerned about the after-life, even the most ancient and traditional understandings of Judaism embrace the notion that all those who live ethical lives, no matter what tradition they follow, will be "close to God" in the world to come.

Jewish woman holding Kiddush candles

3. Being part of the Chosen People is not about being better than anyone else. While the Bible and most of subsequent Jewish tradition view the Jews as chosen, they make no claims about Jews being inherently better than other people. Judaism teaches that Jews have a mission, which is to draw close to God and be a blessing to the entire human race - to be a light to the nations.

A family celebrating shabbat

4. Once a Jew, always a Jew. Who's a Jew? Well, if you have a Jewish parent, that may be your answer. From the time of Abraham until the time of Jesus (about 1,500 years), having a Jewish father made someone a Jew. For the next 1,900 years after that, having a Jewish mother made someone Jewish. That rule changed, for many Jews, about 20 years ago. Now depending on denomination, it's the mother if one is Orthodox or Conservative, or either parent if one is Reform or Reconstructionist. The other way to become a Jew is through conversion. Either way, once a Jew, always a Jew. You never stop being Jewish and nobody can take your Jewishness from you, no matter how you do Jewish.

Star of David

5. Conversion to Judaism is more a leap of belonging than a leap of faith. Joining the Jewish people is just that, committing one's self to sharing the destiny of a community. Not all converts, let alone all born-Jews, agree about they believe or how they should practice, but they all share that feeling of connection to a shared destiny as Jews.

A crowd of orthodox jewish men

6. There is no "Jewish Pope", no single spiritual authority for Jews. All Jews are spiritually equal. While communities may elect chief rabbis, that is what they are -- the elected officials over the community which empowers them. Judaism has accepted and even celebrated degrees of diversity unknown in other monotheistic traditions, and still does.

A hamsa symbol

7. Kabala is not a different religion. Kabala, Hebrew for that which is received, is the mystical thread of Judaism, dating back thousands of years. Like all mystical traditions, it privileges personal experience and is therefore attractive to a wide range of people. While far more complex than special water, or red thread bracelets, it does embrace the power of ritual to directly transform one's life.

Kosher Matzah ball soup

8. Kosher does not mean "blessed by a rabbi". Like people of many faiths, Jews traditionally recite a blessing before eating, acknowledging the sacred source of all things, and the sacredness of acts such as eating. But that's not what makes food kosher. Kosher means fit for use, according to Jewish tradition. In the case of food, it means eating according to a biblically-rooted code which asks that people eat with reverence for all life, and nurture the awareness that there is a connection between what we put in our mouths and how we act in the world.

Handle of a closed wood door

9. The hole in the sheet for sex is a myth. While there is a range of attitudes towards human sexuality in Judaism, no community advocates that people make love through a hole in a bed sheet. In fact, Judaism overwhelmingly embraces sex not only for procreation, but for pleasure. It even teaches that the optimum time for making love is on the Sabbath, and imagines that the holiness of the day and of great sex are a good match for each other.

Moses on stained glass

10. The idea that Jews have horns is based on a simple misreading of a Biblical verse. While this misconception has often been used by anti-Semites to link Jews to devils, its origins and use by artists like Michelangelo in his famous sculpture of Moses are far less hostile. It grows out of a poor translation of Exodus 34:30, which describes Moses as having an aura of light. The Hebrew word for the aura can be misunderstood as having horns.

Kippa, torah chumash books, tallis, and Hannukia menorah11. Chanukah both is, and is not, the Jewish Christmas. Chanukah is far more than a holiday seeking gift-giving parity with the day celebrating Jesus' birth. It recalls an ancient fight for religious freedom and celebrates the deep spiritual light that can be found even when we least expect it. Like Christmas, Chanukah comes at the coldest and darkest time of the year, seeking to remind us that the light can be found in the most unexpected places - for Jews, in a small flask of oil which burned longer than anyone expected and for Christians, in the form of a little baby in a Bethlehem manger.

Genesis, earth and the sun

12. Rosh Hashanah is not the beginning of the Jewish year, not exactly anyway. While the Jewish ritual calendar does begin anew on Rosh Hashanah, what the day really celebrates is the birthday of the world. It's not about things starting again for the Jews, but about the fact that we all get to start again, be Adam and Eve again. Rosh Hashanah celebrates that renewal is possible and that second chances are real.

Judaism is a living tradition. It began more than 3,000 years ago and remains a work in progress. What one fact about Judaism, or whatever faith interests you, would you share with others? That sharing helps keeps a tradition alive. Give it a shot!

Russian Billionaire Installs Anti-Photo Shield on Giant Yacht


Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has a rather curious new addition built in to his latest oversized yacht. The 557-foot boat Eclipse, the price tag of which has almost doubled since original plans were drawn to almost $1.2 billion, set sail this week with a slew of show-off features, from two helipads, two swimming pools and six-foot movie screens in all guest cabins, to a mini-submarine and missile-proof windows to combat piracy.

It might not seem like somebody with such ostentatious tastes would crave privacy, but along with these expensive toys, Ambramovich has installed an anti-paparazzi “shield”. Lasers sweep the surroundings and when they detect a CCD, they fire a bolt of light right at the camera to obliterate any photograph. According to the Times, these don’t run all the time, so friends and guests should still be able to grab snaps. Instead, they will be activated when guards spot the scourge of professional photography, paparazzi, loitering nearby.

We dig it, although the British courts might not be so pleased. UK photo magazine Amateur Photographer asked a London lawyer about the legalities of destroying photos from afar. Here’s what he said: “intermeddling with goods belonging to someone else, or altering their condition, is a trespass to goods and will entitle the photographer to claim compensation without having to prove loss.”

Any sentence containing the word “intermeddling” is of course wonderful. The lawyer spoils it somewhat by (inevitably) mentioning James Bond and mixing up lasers with laser guns: “I would also be worried that lasers cause collateral damage, both to the camera and/or the claimant’s health.”

Roman Abramovich zaps snappers with laser shield [Times]

Celebrity Photographer ‘Laser Shield’ - Is It Legal? [Amateur Photographer]

Top photo: An older ship owned by Abramovich’s, Pelorus, which is only 377 feet long and lacks anti-CCD lasers. Photo credit: Alexander Andreev/Flickr

Medical marijuana law creates confusion in Wash.

Marijuana plants are shown Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2009, in Seattle. The marijuana is distributed to members of a cooperative of medical patients who have received doctor's authorization to use the drug to treat their illnesses, such as AIDS and multiple sclerosis. Unlike several other states which permit marijuana sales to patients, Washington requires patients to grow marijuana themselves or designate a caregiver to grow it for them.
Ted S. Warren
Marijuana plants are shown Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2009, in Seattle. The marijuana is distributed to members of a cooperative of medical patients who have received doctor's authorization to use the drug to treat their illnesses, such as AIDS and multiple sclerosis. Unlike several other states which permit marijuana sales to patients, Washington requires patients to grow marijuana themselves or designate a caregiver to grow it for them.
Marijuana plants are shown Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2009, in Seattle. The marijuana is distributed to members of a cooperative of medical patients who have received doctor's authorization to use the drug to treat their illnesses, such as AIDS and multiple sclerosis. Unlike several other states which permit marijuana sales to patients, Washington requires patients to grow marijuana themselves or designate a caregiver to grow it for them.

Associated Press Writer

In one corner of Washington state, a 62-year-old rheumatoid arthritis patient could face more than eight years in prison for growing marijuana for himself and three others. In Seattle, meanwhile, a collection of grow operations serves 2,000 people with little interference from police.

The discrepancy is typical of the confusion that has reigned since voters passed Washington's medical marijuana law more than a decade ago. Nor have things improved much since the state clarified how much pot patients can have last year.

Unlike some states, Washington requires patients to grow marijuana themselves or designate a caregiver to grow it for them. For many, that's unrealistic: They're too sick to grow cannabis themselves and don't have the thousands of dollars it can cost for a caregiver to set up a proper growing operation.

So they've devised their own schemes, claiming to meet the letter of the law in establishing collective grows or storefront dispensaries - methods that are making police and prosecutors increasingly uncomfortable.

"The spirit of the law would recognize the necessity of having small cooperative ventures," said Dan Satterberg, the prosecutor in King County, where Seattle is. "But if they get past a certain size, become a magnet for neighborhood violence, or you get other people showing up to buy marijuana who are not permitted to under the law, then there's tension."

Three years ago, Satterberg's office declined to prosecute a man who was growing 130 plants for 40 people. But a case this year may be testing his tolerance: He hasn't decided whether to charge a hepatitis patient caught with 200 plants, which he claimed supplied more than 100 other patients.

Some activists and the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington recently began discussions with Seattle police over whether to limit the size of cooperative grows.

In Spokane this month, police shut down a medical marijuana dispensary - the first such bust in the state - and arrested the two owners. They warned a half-dozen other dispensaries to close as well, and the raid quickly drew protests from patients. The raid has set up a high-profile court fight.

Approved by voters in 1998, it allows doctors to recommend cannabis as a treatment for a series of debilitating or terminal conditions - a smaller range of illnesses than California's law. A year ago, the state issued guidelines to give police and patients alike an idea of how much pot was OK: Up to 15 plants and 24 ounces of dried marijuana per patient. People can have more if they demonstrate need.

Police in some jurisdictions have applied the guidelines strictly, arresting people simply for having more than 15 plants, even if they possessed no usable marijuana. In Seattle, Satterberg issued a memo to law enforcement saying he wasn't interested in dragging sick people to court. Some other counties have also adopted a lenient view.

Washington's law says that a caregiver can only provide marijuana to one patient at any one time. In Spokane this year, medical marijuana activists focused on that language in setting up a for-profit dispensary called Change.

Lawyer Frank Cikutovich said the business met legal requirements: A lone patient would enter the store, sign a document designating the shop as his or her caregiver, and buy marijuana. The agreement expired when the patient left and the next customer came in.

The business, raided on Sept. 10, rendered the "one patient, one caregiver" rule meaningless, Spokane police spokeswoman Jennifer DeRuwe said. She said there was peripheral crime associated with the dispensary, including robberies at grow sites and street sales from people who had purchased pot there.

"They're dispensing to hundreds and thousands of people," DeRuwe said. "The police department's stand is, we want to get some guidance on this. We know it's going to be up to the court system to provide us with that."

In Western Washington, patients have instead opted for cooperatives, Seattle medical marijuana attorney Douglas Hiatt said. Those are closed membership groups. Patients pay dues or otherwise contribute on a sliding financial scale for their medicine, and some people work full time and even draw salaries under the table.

"For some people, it would be difficult to see marijuana being sold out of storefronts in their neighborhoods," Hiatt said. "But most Washington patients really haven't gone that way. They've wanted to be on the down-low, and the majority of folks are not for the California-style delivery system."

Members of one Seattle collective say it serves 2,000 patients and is primarily supplied by about a dozen grow sites, which range from a handful of mature plants to about 70 - a few hundred plants in all, compared to the 30,000 that the patients would be allowed under the 15-plant guideline.

One of the grows is in the basement of a Seattle home surrounded by blackberries and condominiums. Dozens of starter plants fill one cramped room, while in the next a bumper crop of 15 plants is just days from yielding around 16 pounds of pot.

Setting up the grow operation with custom-built transformers, ventilation and lighting systems cost more than $50,000 - even though union electricians donated their time. The marijuana is brought to a clinic in an industrial South Seattle neighborhood for trimming and distribution, said the HIV patient who tends the plants.

© 2009 Kansas City Star and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

New tree man: coral man has 'shells' cut from his body

A man dubbed the human coral reef has been successfully treated for a rare condition that covered his whole body in shell-like growths.

The severity of Lin Tianzhuan's condition shocked doctors
The severity of Lin Tianzhuan's condition shocked doctors Photo: CENTRAL EUROPEAN NEWS

Lin Tianzhuan, 38, of Shuimen, southern China, first noticed the growths on his hands and feet when he was just 13.

"It started with a few hard bumps so I tried to apply antibiotics and creams but it didn't get better," he explained.

"Instead it just got worse. They grew and grew and soon they were all over my arms and legs, my back and even my head. Ii was as if I was turning to stone and it was terrifying," he added.

Horrified Lin became a hermit, hiding at the family home and shunned by friends and neighbours who dubbed him Coral Boy.

His experience closely resembles that of Dede Koswara, the "tree man" of Indonesia whose skin condition was first highlighted by

"Gradually my shell became thicker and thicker and I could no longer bend my arms or my legs. It was very frightening," Lin said.

"If I had to go out I wrapped myself up in blankets because people would scream when they saw me," he added.

But now Lin is recovering from his bizarre condition thanks to medics from a special skin clinic who have begun a study on his case.

Fuzhou Dermatosis Prevention Hospital vice president Dr Liu Yinghong said: "His hands, forearms, feet and calf were covered with these dark brown hard shells, looking like dry branches. The seriousness and long-lasting nature of the disease shocked us."

Now after a year of treatment and surgery, Lin is making a full recovery with just a few discoloured skin patches to show for his horrific condition.

"He may need radiotherapy for quite some time still but he has made very good progress," said Dr Yinghong.

Lin Tianzhuan - coral man
But he has now recovered after a year of treatment and surgery Photo: CENTRAL EUROPEAN NEWS

Paralyzed Rats Walk Again

Three-pronged treatment let their legs move, bear weight without brain signals

By Jennifer Thomas, HealthDay Reporter

Three-pronged treatment let their legs move, bear weight without brain signals.

SUNDAY, Sept. 20 (HealthDay News) -- A three-pronged approach to treating spinal cord injuries allowed paralyzed rats to walk without receiving signals from the brain, scientists report.

Spinal cord injuries result in paralysis when the nerve fibers that carry information to and from the brain are damaged or severed. Much of the focus of research into spinal cord injuries has been exploring ways of regenerating those nerve fibers and connections, which has so far met with limited success in people.

In the new study, rats were treated with a combination of drugs, electrical stimulation of the spinal cord and locomotor training, a rehabilitation technique. The combined treatment enabled the rats to walk with a near-normal gait on a treadmill, without the muscles receiving signals from the brain.

"The study demonstrates that the lower spinal cord has circuitry that is sufficient to support virtually normal, weight-bearing locomotion," said senior study author V. Reggie Edgerton, a professor of physiological sciences and neurobiology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The study appears in the Sept. 20 online edition of Nature Neuroscience.

Previous research has been able to coax a stepping motion using one or two of those techniques, said Susan Howley, executive vice president of research for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, which provided some funding for the current research. But this is the first study to achieve actual weight-bearing walking, as opposed to the motions of walking.

"The thing that's very exciting about this is that for the first time they actually showed they can get these rats, with no input from the brain, to step near normally," Howley said. "On the treadmill, they were able to bear weight and step virtually as well as they had been prior to the injury. That's a remarkable achievement."

In the study, researchers put rats whose lower legs were paralyzed in a harness on a slow-moving treadmill and gave them a drug called quipazine, a serotonin agonist that enhances the function of the spinal nerve circuitry. The researchers then used an epidural to apply electrical currents to the dura of the spinal cord, the protective membrane that surrounds it, below the point of injury.

The combination of drugs and electrical stimulation caused the rats to begin walking. Several weeks of daily locomotor training on the treadmill enabled near-normal weight-bearing walking -- including backward, sideways and running.

Because the brain was still unable to direct the walking, the rats could only walk when hooked up to electrical stimulation on the treadmill.

Previous studies have shown that the nerve circuitry of the spinal cord is able to generate rhythmic activity that can direct leg muscles to step, the researchers said. With the right input, the nerves can learn to interpret sensory information from the stepping motion even without help from the brain.

"Previous research has shown the spinal cord can learn whatever task it's being trained to do," Edgerton said. "The spinal cord can interpret the sensory information associated with the stepping, respond to that sensory information and sustain the stepping based on the sensory information."

Locomotive training is a rehabilitation technique that uses that concept to retrain the spinal cord circuitry after injury. Widely used in some European countries, locomotor training involves placing people with spinal cord injuries in harnesses while physical therapists move their legs in a walking motion.

People who undergo locomotor training often see improvements in respiration, bladder function, blood sugar levels and circulation below the level of the lesion, which can help prevent the skin breakdown that can occur as a result of paralysis, Howley said. Others even recover trunk stability, which can enable them to move from a bed to a wheelchair, or a wheelchair to a car, without assistance.

Though a treatment using the three-pronged approach is at least several years away, the study suggests the potential of using neuroprosthetic devices to activate spinal cord rhythmic circuitry, said study author Gregoire Courtine, a professor in the department of neurology at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. His team is currently developing a device that they hope to begin testing in small clinical trials in three to four years.

About 5.6 million Americans, or one in 50, has some level of paralysis, according to a survey released in April of 33,000 U.S. households by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. About one-quarter of the nearly 2 percent of the U.S. population living with paralysis is due to a spinal cord injury.

More information

The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation has more on the latest spinal cord injury research.

SOURCES: Susan Howley, executive vice president, research, Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, Short Hills, N.J.; V. Reggie Edgerton, Ph.D., professor, physiological sciences and neurobiology, University of California, Los Angeles; Gregoire Courtine, professor, University of Zurich, Switzerland; Sept. 20, 2009, Nature Neuroscience, online

Copyright © 2009 ScoutNews, LLC. All rights reserved.

A Bicycle Built For Two ... You and Your Personal Cycling Robot

Why use up all your energy on a bicycle, pedaling frenetically up steep hills, when you can get 'somebody' else to do the work for a willing robot. No more complaining, whimpering slackards on the back of your tandem bicycle pretending to work but mostly whining and gazing at the scenery while you work up the sweat.

Meet Joules, robot biker and primo driver-passenger of one of the coolest bicycles you'll see this week. Joules is an inspiration to any weekend least one (like us) who's basically lazy and, on any given Sunday, would just assume have a robot as a cycling companion than a potentially nagging, underworking or overly-chatting human.

Allison Stokke the Hottest Athlete? Google it

We often hear people discussing who the hottest athlete is, and moreso who the hottest female athlete is. Based on what we're hearing, the current athletic phenomenon is Allison Stokke. So is Allison Stokke the hottest female athlete? According to google she's worth TWO pictures.

Google Hottest Athlete

Stokke's Stats

  • Height: 5ft. 3in
  • Position: Pole Vault
  • Experience: 1V
  • Class: Sophomore
  • Hometown: Newport Beach, Cali
  • High School: Newport Harbor HS
Allison from Behind

Allison Stokke 2

Allison Stokke 5

One day Allison Stokke was a just a pretty high school athlete and the next she was an international Internet destination, although not by her own choice. Miss Stokke's photograph was taken during a high school track meet, where she was preparing to compete in the pole vault, and someone posted it to a web site. It didn't take long for other less reputable sites to pick up the image and set off a round of Stokke-mania on the worldwide web.

Miss Stokke isn't just a pretty girl; she's a pretty girl who happens to be a tremendous athlete. She was the California pole vaulting champion and is on scholarship at the University of California. She wanted to be known for her athletic accomplishments rather than purely for her looks. In terms of athletics, she wanted to be seen as Maria Sharapova, an attractive tennis player who wins, instead of Anna Kournikova, an attractive tennis player who just shows up and looks pretty. Miss Stokke could eventually become another Natalie Gulbis, a gorgeous LPGA golfer who has been quite successful.

Interview with Allison Stokke

The problem began to surface in 2004 when she began to receive messages from her friends that her photo had been seen on the Internet. She had 1,000 new messages on her social network site and a YouTube video of her being interviewed had been viewed 15,000 times. She began to receive interview requests from around the country, including one from Brazil. She went to her coach for help and to her parents (her father is an attorney) for guidance. They soon realized there was little they could do to stem the flow of messages and photos, other than to focus on trying to stop the ones that were particularly tasteless. They were successful in getting a fake profile of Allison removed from Facebook and another taken off MySpace, which included a slideshow with a dozen photos and a chat forum. She told the Washington Post, "Even if none of it is illegal, it just all feels really demeaning."

The image that started it all

Allison Stokke Photo

There's no question that Miss Stokke is an amazing athlete. Born in Newport Beach, California, she made the U.S. team that competed in the 2005 World Youth Championships, but couldn't compete because of a broken leg. As a senior at Newport Harbor High School she jumped 13 feet, 7 inches, which ranked second in the nation. She held seven national records.

As a freshman at Cal, Miss Stokke set a school freshman record by vaulting 13-5¾ at the Pac-10 Championships. She also qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships and was ranked No. 20 in the country. In the outdoor season she jumped 13-9¾, the second-best performance in school history.

But because of her notoriety, Miss Stokke hasn't been able to enjoy her success. She rarely leaves her home and has grown weary of the attention she's garnered. In fact, the online media information on the Cal website does not include her mug shot, while all other student-athletes have their images on their biography pages.

bettertrades sports

Holiday Inn opens NYC hotel made entirely of key cards

As part of an effort to build buzz around the relaunch of 1200 Holiday Inn hotels this month, the lodging chain has opened a very special hotel in New York. It's not your average hotel though. It's made entirely of hotel key cards.

The "Key Card Hotel" was built by Guinness World Record holder Byran Berg, who first broke the record for "World's Tallest House of Freestanding Playing Cards" in 1992 at the tender age of 17. Since then, he's broken the record 10 times. Now he's created a life-size (though small at 400 square feet) hotel made of key cards. Visitors can't actually stay in the "hotel" (and would you really want to sleep on a bed of plastic?), but they can come marvel at Berg's creation, which is made of 200,000 cards and weighs two tons, tour the lobby, guest room, and bathroom, and learn about the Holiday Inn's "Keys to Change" promotion and the many improvements that will be taking place at the brand's properties. By the end of 2010, over 3000 hotels in the chain will be updated, at a cost of $1 billion, making it the "largest relaunch in the history of the hospitality industry".

As part of the promotion, guests can enter to win free nights at one of the relaunched Holiday Inn or Holiday Inn Express locations around the world. One grand prize winner will also receive a 3-day, 2-night trip to any Holiday Inn hotel in the world, including round-trip air transportation. To enter, just sign up on the promotion's website.

The Key Card Hotel will be open at New York's South Street Seaport from now until September 21. During the promotion, Berg will also create a 9-foot tall replica of the Statue of Liberty using playing cards in the lobby. The online contest runs until October 22nd.

IGN: Top 15 3-D Movies in Development

IGN: Top 15 3-D Movies in Development

Super Stylish Or Totally Trashy? Extreme Cleavage Is the Latest Trend Du Jour


Is a neckline still a neckline if it practically hits your belly button? It's hard to draw the line in a culture where pants have gone out of style completely (like, where ARE they going?). And now, V-necks are plunging to alarming depths on the runway this season, too, cascading toward waistlines and making bras seem positively archaic. And, speaking of bras, is it just us or are more and more celebrities and e-shops choosing commando unbuttoned-down-to-there looks? But while the lithe sprites on the runway paint a more romantic picture of this provocative plunge trend, we ask you: On the street or the red carpet, is this look super stylish or just totally trashy?

Above, from left: Vena Cava spring '10; Badgley Mischka spring '10; Costello Tagliapietra spring '10; Altuzarra spring '10; all images from


Above, from left: Julien Macdonald spring '10; Charlotte Ronson spring '10; Cushnie et Ochs spring '10; Cynthia Steffe spring '10; all images from

Above, from left: Giovanna Battaglia with her bosom buddies; Feeling zippy! American Apparel takes the plunge, image from American Apparel.


Above, from left: Oak's low-cut tee has the breast of intentions, image from Oak NYC; Rihanna's cleavage runs this town, image from Just Jared.


Keri Hilson's get-up can knock you down, image from The Urban Daily; Fall in deep (deep) love with Oak's silk dress, image from Oak NYC.