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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Gay Marriage Is Legal in U.S. Capital

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Jonathan Howard, above left, and Gregory Jones applied for a marriage license on Wednesday in Washington.

WASHINGTON — It was cold and drizzling outside the City Courthouse just after 6 a.m. on Wednesday, but no one seemed to mind among the same-sex couples waiting for the chance to apply for a marriage license.
Michael Reynolds/European Pressphoto Agency

For Candy Holmes, at right below with her partner, Darlene Garner, the experience brought forth tears of joy.

“This is a dream come true,” said Sinjoyla Townsend, 41, as she smiled ear to ear and held up her ticket indicating she was first in line with her partner of 12 years, Angelisa Young, 47. “We wanted it so bad.”

Gay rights advocates hailed the day as a milestone for equal rights and a symbolic victory as same-sex marriage became legal in the nation’s capital.

Washington is now the sixth place in the nation where same-sex marriages can take place. Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont also issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Despite failing in court, opponents of the law vowed to fight another day.

The law survived Congressional attempts to block it, and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. on Tuesday rejected a request from opponents of same-sex marriage to have the United States Supreme Court delay it.

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty signed the measure into law in December, but because the District of Columbia is not a state, the law had to undergo Congressional review, which ended Tuesday.

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington on Tuesday limited employee health care benefits to avoid coverage of same-sex couples. It was the second time Catholic Charities changed its rules to protest same-sex marriage, having earlier ended its foster care program.

The new law was already having regional implications.

Maryland’s attorney general, Douglas F. Gansler, issued a legal opinion last week concluding that Maryland should immediately recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.

Mr. Gansler’s move is expected to draw legal and legislative challenges, but for Terrance Heath of Montgomery County, Md., it was the turning point that persuaded him to get married.

“We realized that we can finally get many of the benefits and protections that other couples take for granted,” said Mr. Heath, 41, a blogger who lives with his partner, Rick Imirowicz, 43, and their two adopted sons.

“Before that attorney general decision we could have the legal documents, like wills and medical power of attorney,” Mr. Heath said. “But there was no guarantee that those documents would be recognized.”

He said that he and Mr. Imirowicz had worried about what might happen to any inheritance meant for their sons, Parker, 7, and Dylan, 2. “Marriage gives us peace of mind,” Mr. Heath said. “It gives my family security that we deserve.”

At the city’s Marriage Bureau inside the Moultrie Courthouse, just blocks from the Capitol, the mood was giddy as couples hugged and talked about a day they never thought would arrive.

“I became a naturalized U.S. citizen in the mid-’90s,” said Cuc Vu, a native of Vietnam who was third in line with her partner of 20 years, Gwen Migita. “But this is really the first time that I feel like I have the full rights and benefits of citizenship.”

Court officials explained that the Marriage Bureau had changed its license applications: They ask for the name of each spouse rather than the bride and groom. Officials who perform the weddings read, “I now pronounce you legally married.”

On a typical day the office processes 10 licenses, court officials said. By late Wednesday afternoon, more than 140 couples had filed to be married, the mayor’s office said.

Because of a mandatory waiting period, couples will not be able to marry in the city until Tuesday.

City officials say the measure will also provide a financial boost to the local economy. A study by the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, predicted that more than 14,000 same-sex marriages would occur in the city over the next three years, which would bring in $5 million in new tax revenue and create 700 jobs.

Lost in Penn Station [pics] Penn Station is the busiest train station in North America, crowded with around 200 million passengers a year. Plus there’s Madison Square Garden, squatting on top of it. So much of this activity occurs underground, in low-ceilinged tunnels devoid of sunlight and fresh air. Why are the signs at the nation's busiest train hub so confusing?

Click here to read this interesting study: Lost in Penn Station [pics]

Ancient Queen's burial chamber discovered at Saqqara

By Ann Wuyts


The Pyramid of Behenu at Saqqara


The Pyramid of Behenu at Saqqara

    8-Limbed Boy Needs Surgery to Remove Parasitic Twin


    In 2005, Lakshmi Tatma made headlines around the world after being born with a parasitic twin attached to her hip leaving her with eight limbs. Now, five years later, another child from Bihar, India is dealing with a very similar health condition, the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph is reporting.

    SLIDESHOW: Lakshmi Grows Up

    Seven-year-old Deepak Paswaan was born with the arms, legs and buttocks of a parasitic twin protruding from his chest. To date, no X–rays or scans have been taken, so the internal effects of his condition are not known at this time.

    “This is similar to the way that conjoined twins form,” Dr. Manny Alvarez, managing editor of health at and Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey said. “With conjoined twins, you have two living fetuses that are attached either by the head, abdomen or legs. In this particular case, it’s the same principle, except there is a malformation of one of those twins. As a result, the twin never fully develops and is then partially encased in the living fetus.”

    Deepak’s parents are searching for a doctor, even though they cannot afford the expensive medical care needed to remove the twin.

    "Every day I wish for a good doctor who could cure Deepak so he can live a normal life," his father said.

    Alvarez said even if the boy is fortunate enough to find a doctor to remove the twin, the surgery is going to be extremely challenging.

    “The problem is, even though this parasitic twin is partially developed, it has blood perfusion. In other words, this little boy’s body is feeding blood into these extra partial limbs of the other twin,” he said. “This is a surgery that would involve a lot of vascular structures, which may make it either impossible or extremely challenging to do. Not all parasitic twins can be successfully removed.”

    To determine if the surgery is possible at all, Alvarez said Deepak would have to undergo a series of X-rays and CT Scans to see exactly what the vascular connections are to the tissue of the parasitic twin, and exactly what organs this little boy shares with it.

    Still, there is hope for Deepak, especially in the wake of the successful surgery of Lakshmi.

    In 2007, her parasitic twin was removed in a pioneering operation. Even though the 4-year-old will need more surgeries as she grows, the youngster is doing incredibly well, even playing sports in school.

    Click here read more from the Telegraph.

    Click here to see a photo of Deepak from

    Australian town hit by raining fish

    By Simon Crisp

    For residents of a small Australian town, their usually mundane conversations about the weather have just become a whole lot more interesting.

    That's because in the outback town of Lajamanu it's started raining fish. Yes, fish. Hundreds of them, falling from the sky.

    Over the past two days the town's 660 residents have been bombarded with small white fish which have been falling like rain.

    Locals say the fish, mostly spangled perch, have even been alive as they hit the floor. Lucky it wasn't crocodiles then.

    Meteorologists believe the fish where sucked up by a tornado - which passed over a river some 300 miles away - before being carried through the sky at 40,000 to 50,000 feet.

    They then fell like rain on Lajamanu, 400 miles south of Darwin in Australia's Northern Territory, prompting residents to run around throwing them into buckets.

    Amazingly it is not the first time the tiny town has seen the freakish 'weather' - this is said to be the third time in recent memory, the previous batterings (sorry) of fish came in 1974 and 2004. Keep reading to see a video of this phenomenon...

    Beardyman - Live in the Underbelly: The Full show

    Channel Icon

    Edinburgh Comedy Festival 2009...

    I the great and powerless Beardyman did performing a solo shows. The best solo shows in the worlds evergreen. Suggestions were given by the crowd. . i had no script. . . or did I? NO!!!! NO I DIDN'T !!!!!!

    ...and welcome back. The Bellylaugh isn't not the name of the room in the underbelly in which i wasn't not playing. The Underbelly used to be the bank vaults for the bank of Scotland. . that's why it looks like i'm playing in an air-raid shelter. . . or is it because this is a video from the post-apocolyptic future and actually i'm entertaining the troops. . .you decide. . .

    over and in. .

    Beardyman. .

    or did they?

    Stop Motion Lego Star Wars - CollegeHumor video A greatly assembled Lego Star Wars stop-motion action sequence! check it out!

    Stop Motion Lego Star Wars - CollegeHumor video

    HBO greenlights 'Game of Thrones' to series!


    Winter is, indeed, coming.

    HBO has greenlighted highly anticipated fantasy series "Game of Thrones."

    The premium network has picked up the project for a first season debut next spring (below is the first released photo from the series). Nine episodes plus the pilot have been ordered. Production will begin in Belfast this June.

    From the moment the project was first announced in development, the series based on the George R.R. Martin novels has generated enormous, perhaps unprecedented, online interest for a series at such an early stage.

    The sprawling tale set in the mythical land of Westeros tells the story of the noble Stark family who become caught up in high court intrigue when patriarch Eddard (played by Sean Bean) becomes the king's new right-hand man. The four-and-counting books in the series would each be used as one season of the series.

    Unlike many fantasy novels, the "Thrones" series largely avoids relying on magical elements and instead goes for brutal realism -- think "Sopranos" with swords. Martin, a former TV writer ("Beauty and the Beast"), writes each chapter as a cliffhanger, which should lend itself well to series translation.

    Previous: "Game of Thrones" full cast list + photos


    Cat's amazing mid-air bird catch! — Bird? Bat? Flying rat? Whatever, the efficiency of this feline's graceful leap is a wonder to behold.

    Wales to get an 82ft dragon

    Waking the Dragon

    Waking the Dragon

    Here at Infrastructure EU, we are generally concerned about construction, transportation, water infrastructure and other things of note; but when plans are unveiled that state Wales may get a 82ft bronze dragon sculpture sitting atop a 131ft tower... well, we have to take a look!

    It is hoped that the sculpture, called Waking the Dragon, will dwarf the Angel of the North - the UK's current biggest sculpture - as well as driving tourism to region. It is hoped that the project will be undertaken in north Wales near Wrexham, a region which in this writer's opinion needs substantial redevelopment.

    Enter the Dragon

    The project is the brainchild of local business Simon Wingett who hails from Wrexham. It is his hope that the GBP£6 million scheme will "strengthen and develop" tourism in the area.

    Speaking to WalesOnline, Wingett said, "The idea was spawned because of all the time spent driving up and down motorways and seeing cars and lorries displaying Welsh flags, the drivers obviously very proud of their heritage.

    "I just thought that we must be the proudest nation in the world. The thought came about, ‘why not have a colossal Welsh dragon?’ Something of the Statue of Liberty proportions."

    The dragon will definitely be colossal. Current plans have the dragon's wingspan at 170ft – bigger than a Boeing 737.

    Of course, the project isn't simply about Welsh Pride, Wrexham borough council leader Aled Roberts hopes that the project will "strengthen and further develop the tourism and heritage available to visitors in this part of North-East Wales."

    "The dragon project will not only celebrate our unique heritage and culture, it will also boost the local economy with the creation of local jobs," he said.

    The plan would also see the construction of an art centre and gallery next to the tower. Reinforcing the core message of Welsh art and tradition, the project would be build in a landscaped area of trees and paths depicting the four branches of the Mabinogion, the collection of mythological tales of early Wales. Dafodills will also be present.

    However, it still costs GBP£6 million, so where will the money be coming from?

    Way of the Dragon

    Mr Wingett has stated that he hopes to fund the project without using taxpayers' money, instead attracting capital through commercial sponsorship as well as charitable donations, the sale of steps within the the tower and investor finance.

    The art dealer also hopes that any money raised by the tower, once built, will go to the Frank Wingett Cancer Appeal, named after his father, who died from throat cancer in 1988. The 30-year-old organisation specialises in improving cancer sufferers’ quality of life.

    It is hoped that the tower will house an interactive display relaying local stories and myths. Meanwhile, the top of the glass and concrete tower will boast an observation deck giving panoramic views across the border into England and back into Wales across Wrexham.

    While planning permission has yet to be improved, it has already garner a lot of media press and attention. Many locals are already dubbing it the 'Eighth Wonder of Wales', though they haven't specified what the other seven are.The beginning of a trend building massive sculptured national symbols? Can we expect an enormous thistle in the centre of Edinburgh in the future? A giant glass cloverleaf in Dublin? A gigantic pint glass in London...?

    TiVo Premiere: One set-top box to rule them all

    TiVo Premiere: One set-top box to rule them all
    With its new TiVo Premiere DVR, TiVo asks the rhetorical question: Would you like to replace your HD cable box/DVR, broadband Web box (a la Roku) and stereo-connected music player with a single box that lists content search results regardless of their location — broadcast, broadband, video-on-demand — all at one time?

    Obviously the answer is yes, but there's a catch.

    First, the TiVo Premiere, unveiled last night, is the Handy Housewife Helper of set-top boxes. There are two versions, the Premiere with a 320GB hard drive (45 hours of HD recording, $300) and the Premiere XL with 1TB (150 hours of HD recording, $500), each running TiVo's new widescreen interface and each offering an Ethernet internet connection to bring in Web content including Netflix and Amazon Video On Demand. When you search for shows, the results include content aggregated from all sources. In other words, if you search for, say Up!, it'll find and list where it is on broadcast channels, video-on-demand, Netflix, Amazon Video On Demand, etc.

    Premiere has a CableCard slot so you can replace your cable box (assuming you don't have to debase yourself too much to get your cable company to give you one), and TiVo will be offering a wireless 802.11N Wi-Fi adapter for $90 in June since you likely lack an Ethernet jack in your living room. Later this year, you'll be able to buy a remote with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard for faster typing.

    TiVo improved on the company's legendary interface and artificial intelligence or whatever prestidigitation they use to help you find stuff you'd like even if you didn't know you liked it and didn't ask TiVo to find it for you. Premiere's interface is now completely widescreen, which means more info on a single screen and less drilling down for more detail. And having a terabyte of DVR space alleviates a lot of DVR guilt (having to decide what old unwatched shows to erase to make room for new shows you won't watch).

    The caveat is cost. TiVo's monthly service fee (at least $13, depending on the plan you pick) is probably around the same as a cable company's box lease and DVR service fees. But you have to buy TiVo's box, and TiVo is unlikely to come to your house and swap it out on a whim.

    One other minor caveat: Premiere uses HDMI 1.3, which means it likely won't play back upcoming 3D broadcasts in full HD. And too bad they didn't build in a Blu-ray player so I can get rid of another box.
    If you decide TiVo's telepathic software, enhanced interface and Mr. Creosote recording capacity is well worth the price, you can order Premiere from TiVo's Web site as of this morning for delivery sometime in April.

    Via TiVo

    To Hell And Back: Jenn Love hewitt hits the gym HARD!!





    What a lesson for all the kids out there!      If you want people to stop calling you fat then hit the gym, develop an eating disorder and get hot again.   That will shut the haters up.  Bravo Jennifer Love!    Bravo!    It’s great to have you back!   That fat JLove was no fun.

    Scientists Have Discovered Booze That Won't Give You A Hangover

    Booze, for all its magical wonder, still has big drawbacks: You can't sober up quickly, and you often get a hangover. Now Korean researchers have found a way of tweaking booze to limit the fallout — without cutting its strength.

    Doctors Kwang-il Kwon and Hye Gwang Jeong of Chungnam National University studied the properties of oxygenated alcohol - booze with oxygen bubbles added - which is a popular concoction in their country. In these drinks, oxygen is added the way carbonation is usually added to soda, and the scientists wanted to know if these oxygenated beverages affected people differently than non-oxygenated ones. The answer was a resounding yes.

    They ran three experiments using 19.5% alcohol drinks, and measured the speed at which people's blood alcohol dropped to 0.000%. In other words: How fast did they sober up?

    The drinks with the added oxygen content sobered people up 20-30 minutes faster, under the influence of the rather potent alcohol they used for the trials. 20% alcohol is around the strength of fortified wine, soju, or a very strong mixed drink, so while shaving a half hour off your drunken tomfoolery might not seem a great deal, when you're trying to fall asleep at night and combating the spins, you'll appreciate it.

    The researchers also asked what would change if someone were to drink multiple oxygen-enriched drinks over the course of the night. Would there be a cumulative effect? Again, the answer was yes: People who drank oxygenated booze had less severe and fewer hangovers than people who drank the non-fizzy stuff.
    The alcohol these scientists used for testing was created by the Korean firm Sunyang Co, and on the English language version of their site, they market their oxygenated soju — O2 Lin — as a a drink that "helps clarify your brain, energizes your body cells, and maintains healthy and resilient skin." There's some more wonderful eco-marketing associated with the drink here.

    So why does adding O2 to booze lessen the nasty after effects? When you drink ethanol, you body needs to oxidize it to water and carbon dioxide in order to process it. This occurs via hepatic oxidation, where the liver does its thing to counteract the liquor you've just poured down your gullet. The enzymes that process alcohol require oxygen to function, and it's thought that by storing the oxygen in the alcohol itself, the system functions more quickly and efficiently.
    Kwon said:
    The oxygen-enriched alcohol beverage reduces plasma alcohol concentrations faster than a normal dissolved-oxygen alcohol beverage does. This could provide both clinical and real-life significance. The oxygen-enriched alcohol beverage would allow individuals to become sober faster, and reduce the side effects of acetaldehyde without a significant difference in alcohol's effects. Furthermore, the reduced time to a lower BAC may reduce alcohol-related accidents. It seems that these drinks can maintain a high dissolved-oxygen concentration for about 10 to 20 days before the stopper is removed, and for 70 minutes after removing the stopper, respectively, at room temperature.
    There are plenty of questions this raises. How does oxygen affect the taste of the alcohol? What drink types does it work with? I can't image you'd want to add oxygen to beer. While more research is needed, this study is one more step towards not spending a morning feeling as though someone's kicked your skull in with jackboots, and stuffed the cavity with cotton wool.
    Maybe this is the first step towards synthahol, the intoxicating drink on Star Trek that people can sober up from instantly.

    Results published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
    Creative Commons image "soju bottle" by Flickr user riNux

    Send an email to Tim Barribeau, the author of this post, at

    8 Must-See Instrumental Acoustic Guitar Music Videos

    tommy emmanuel
    Tommy Emmanuel. Photo by Janet Dancer (Flickr).
    Found a real great article displaying 8 incredibale talented acoustic guitar players...

    Tommy Emmanuel – Beatles Medley
    Tommy Emmanuel is legendary in his native Australia for his finger-picking skills, but he’s not nearly as well known in the U.S. as he should be. Check out this masterful instrumental medley of Beatles classics for proof of his incredible talent, or pick up his live album, Center Stage.

    Click here for the rest of the acoustic guitar videos:

    Kathryn Hawkins