Thursday, July 31, 2008

TECHNOLOGY: NASA has identified water in soil sample of Mars

The Phoenix lander has identified water in a soil sample it collected in planet Mars earlier. NASA has extended its mission for another 90 days, which means it could find more soil samples with water. Though no organic material has been found in the analysis of the ice, it'll take another three-to-four weeks before there's any more data to reveal.

This is a story to watch. Who knows, Mars could tell us a lot about our own origins in the cosmos.


TECHNOLOGY: Some iPhone 3G reviews

By Philip Elmer-DeWitt

First the Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg jumped the gun, publishing his online review of Apple’s new iPhone 3G, days before his usual column.

Then, about an hour later, the New York Times responded in kind, posting their own review, by David Pogue, on the front page. Like Mossberg’s, Pogue’s review is datelined Wednesday, July 9.

About the same time (we’ve lost track of the sequence), America’s third national paper, USA Today, followed suit, posting a review by Edward C. Baig.

And so Apple (AAPL) fans eager to hear if the new iPhone is worth buying get their answer — or rather three answers — well before they have to decide whether or not to stand in line.

Once again, Steve Jobs has tightly controlled the initial wave of critical commentary by handing out advanced copies to his favorite reviewers — two of whom make a nice living publishing books about Apple products (Pogue writes “Missing Manuals” and Baig writes “For Dummies” books).

But if he sought to curry special favor — or control the timing — Jobs was only partly successful. Although Baig’s review is quite enthusiastic (”two thumbs up”), Mossberg’s and Pogue’s are what is known in the theater as mixed positive.

The money quotes:

Mossberg: “If you’ve been waiting to buy an iPhone until it dropped in price, or ran on faster cell networks, you might want to take the plunge, if you can live with the higher service costs and the weaker battery life. The same goes for those with existing iPhones who love the device but crave faster cellular data speeds. But if you already own an iPhone, and can usually use Wi-Fi for data, you probably should hold off and get the free software upgrade before deciding whether it’s worth getting the new hardware.” (link)

Pogue: “So the iPhone 3G is a nice upgrade. It more than keeps pace with advancing technology, and new buyers will generally be delighted….But it’s not so much better that it turns all those original iPhones into has-beens. Indeed, the really big deal is the iPhone 2.0 software and the App Store, neither of which requires buying a new iPhone. That twist may come as a refreshing surprise to planned-obsolescence conspiracy theorists — and everyone who stood in line last year.” (link)

Baig: “Extra, extra: iPhone 3G: The Sequel, is worth the wait….It’s cheaper, faster and a lot friendlier for business. Apple’s blockbuster smartphone already had nifty features such as visual voicemail, a splendid built-in video iPod and the best mobile Web browser I’ve ever used. With GPS newly added to the mix, this handheld marvel has no equal among consumer-oriented smartphones.”

NEWS: Saudi Arabia bans sale of cats and dogs

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (July 31) - Every single man knows: Walking a dog in the park is a sure babe magnet. Saudi Arabia's Islamic religious police, in their zeal to keep the sexes apart, want to make sure the technique doesn't catch on here.

The solution: Ban selling dogs and cats as pets, as well as walking them in public.

The prohibition went into effect Wednesday in the capital, Riyadh, and authorities in the city say they will strictly enforce it — unlike previous bans in the cities of Mecca and Jiddah, which have been ignored and failed to stop pet sales.

Violators found outside with their pets will have their beloved poodles and other furry companions confiscated by agents of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, the official name of the religious police, tasked with enforcing Saudi Arabia's strict Islamic code.

TIPS: Basic survivals skills if you're ever arrested

By Nick Clarke

If Paris Hilton can learn how to survive jail (even if she did try to escape on day four), then you sure as hell can. Whether you’re going in for a driving offense akin to Hilton’s, shaming yourself by pulling a Hugh Grant with a prostitute in the back of your SUV or pulling a Winona Ryder in Saks after you saw something you just couldn’t live without, then you need to pay the price and learn how to survive jail like a man. So pull on that florescent orange jumpsuit, pose for your mugshot, make fast friends with your burly, tattooed cellmate, and -- whatever you do -- keep your back firmly against the wall.

How to behave around inmates

Be respectful to other prisoners: Striding into the yard like you own the place will earn you enemies, and -- in a place where you have to keep your enemies closer than your friends -- this could prove fatal. Stripped to your bare soul, the only three valuable assets you’ll have left are respect, dignity and pride.

Don’t stare at a fellow prisoner: The wrong look inside a prison will either mean you’re their new worst enemy or new best friend. And you’d better believe that being their new worst enemy is better than being the type of new best friend he’d force you to become.

Don’t become a target: If a confrontation does arise -- and, let’s face it, it probably will -- strike first. You must guard your reputation with your life, and giving in to the first confrontational situation will only make you a target for future attacks.

Don’t be a snitch: If you see anything illegal going on -- such as the trading of drugs or another inmate getting hoe checked (beaten by a group) -- walk away. The moment you snitch is the moment you become public enemy number one. While you may have earned brownie points with the wardens, you’ll pay for it in beatings later.

Assess who you can trust: Don’t give in to the temptation to jump at the first offer of protection. Instead, wait a few days, get a sense of the lay of the land, and establish who you can (kind of) trust.

Take nothing on credit: This includes drugs, food, toiletry items or dirty magazines. Being a debtor to someone in prison immediately makes you theirs -- in fact, you might as well put a dog collar around your neck and inscribe it with the word “bitch.” Prison is a game of power -- don’t give yours away.

Avoid becoming a fellow inmate’s “girlfriend”: While being someone’s “girlfriend” will afford you protection from fellow inmates, this protection is fickle; inmates’ “girlfriends” are often traded, sometimes for something as superficial as a pack of cigarettes.

Your first day

Entering prison is not like your first day at school -- it’s worse. You’ll be taken off the prison bus and led inside. The noise will be tremendous and prisoners will be sizing you up, jeering at you and doing everything they can to intimidate you. Don’t let them see weakness; keep your eyes firmly ahead of you and walk confidently inside, but don’t swagger. You’ll have your photograph taken, you'll be asked a couple of questions, and you’ll almost certainly be strip-searched. Although being strip-searched can feel very invasive, you must remember that the prison wardens do this every day and it is a highly impersonal routine for them. Accept your staple supplies -- including your uniform and pillow -- and follow the warden to your cell.

More tips on how to survive jail...


CELEBRITIES: Elizabeth Taylor doing well

LOS ANGELES (July 31) - Elizabeth Taylor is hospitalized but doing well, a spokesman for the Oscar-winning screen legend said on Thursday, contradicting tabloid newspapers reports that she was in poor health.

"Ms. Taylor is fine. The rumors which began in England about her health are dramatic, overstated and untrue. Her hospital visit was precautionary. She will be returning home shortly," her Los Angeles-based spokesman Dick Guttman said in a statement.

At present, she is surrounded by family, friends and fabulous jewels," the statement concluded.

A report on the Web site for the National Enquirer said Taylor, 76, was put on a life-support machine after suffering congestive heart failure. The report cited "a friend" and was picked up by Britain's Daily Mail, among others.

TECHNOLOGY: Discovering How Greeks Computed in 100 B.C.

After a closer examination of a surviving marvel of ancient Greek technology known as the Antikythera Mechanism, scientists have found that the device not only predicted solar eclipses but also organized the calendar in the four-year cycles of the Olympiad, forerunner of the modern Olympic Games.

The new findings, reported Wednesday in the journal Nature, also suggested that the mechanism’s concept originated in the colonies of Corinth, possibly Syracuse, on Sicily. The scientists said this implied a likely connection with Archimedes.

Archimedes, who lived in Syracuse and died in 212 B.C., invented a planetarium calculating motions of the Moon and the known planets and wrote a lost manuscript on astronomical mechanisms. Some evidence had previously linked the complex device of gears and dials to the island of Rhodes and the astronomer Hipparchos, who had made a study of irregularities in the Moon’s orbital course.

The Antikythera Mechanism, sometimes called the first analog computer, was recovered more than a century ago in the wreckage of a ship that sank off the tiny island of Antikythera, north of Crete. Earlier research showed that the device was probably built between 140 and 100 B.C.

NEWS: Princess Chunk

A 44-pound cat found waddling outside in New Jersey Saturday has been taken to a shelter, where workers hope to put her on a diet and find her a loving home. They're calling the corpulent kitty "Princess Chunk."

MONEY: How to Create Business From a Blog

First, let’s agree that there are many ways to create business from a blog. I’ll cover a handful to start. You’re very welcome to share more advice and ideas in the comments section.

Straightforward Sales

Blogs are a wonderful piece of software to use as a home base for several kinds of website projects. For example, I believe Chris Pearson used a Wordpress blog to build his site. There, he’s selling a beautiful theme called Thesis for $87. That’s one way to create business from a blog: a simple sales platform.


NEWS: A Break in the Salmonella Probe

Federal health officials said Wednesday they have had an important break in the hunt for the source of a nationwide salmonella outbreak. The same strain has been found in serrano peppers and in irrigation water at a farm in Nuevo Leon, Mexico. "We have a smoking gun, it appears," said one official.

Earlier, the Food and Drug Administration had found the same strain of salmonella in a jalapeno pepper from a farm in another part of Mexico, Tamaulipas. However, both the farm where the tainted serrano peppers were found and the Tamaulipas farm shipped produce through a packing facility in Nuevo Leon, suggesting the contamination may have occurred there.

Tomatoes were initially suspected of being the culprit in the salmonella outbreak. Industry representatives complained that they have lost more than $300 million and had to dump tons of perfectly good tomatoes they could not sell because of government warnings.

More than 1,300 people have been sickened since April. Lawmakers are considering reforms to prevent future outbreaks and speed up investigations into them when they do occur. Here, a farmer works in a field of jalapeno plants in Delicias, Mexico.

TECHNOLOGY: YouTube and Omnisio Join forces

As you probably guessed, we’re big fans of anything that lets people interact with online video and gives the YouTube community the chance to express themselves in creative ways. New features such as Video Annotations, which allow you to insert comments and information into the video itself, are just one example of how we're beginning to expand what you can do with your videos on the site.

It’s in this spirit that we’re thrilled to announce Google’s purchase of Omnisio, a small California-based startup that’s focused on making online video more useful and collaborative. The Omnisio team has tremendous technical expertise when it comes to advanced video tools and having this kind of talent at YouTube should help us further explore ways to enhance your YouTube experience.

We believe we’ve only scratched the surface in terms of what’s possible with online video, so stay tuned for other tools and features that will let you do even more with your videos.

The YouTube Team

POLITICS: Obama's Symbolic Importance

By Jonathan Weisman

In his closed door meeting with House Democrats Tuesday night, presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama delivered a real zinger, according to a witness, suggesting that he was beginning to believe his own hype.

Obama was waxing lyrical about last week's trip to Europe, when he concluded, according to the meeting attendee, "this is the moment, as Nancy [Pelosi] noted, that the world is waiting for."

The 200,000 souls who thronged to his speech in Berlin came not just for him, he told the enthralled audience of congressional representatives. "I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions," he said, according to the source.

On Wednesday morning, House leadership aides pushed back against interpretations of this comment as self-aggrandizing, saying that when the presumptive Democratic nominee said, "I have become a symbol of the possibility of America," he was actually trying to deflect attention from himself.

No tape of the event exists and no one is denying the quote.

But one leadership aide said the full quote put it into a different context. According to that aide, Obama said, "It has become increasingly clear in my travel, the campaign -- that the crowds, the enthusiasm, 200,000 people in Berlin, is not about me at all. It's about America. I have just become a symbol."

TECHNOLOGY: How to Keep Your Gadgets From Getting Stolen

"Every day, the gadgets we use become smaller, more portable, and more valuable. Unfortunately, this increase in convenience also raises the appeal of these devices to potential thieves. Here, Switched presents tips to avoid becoming a theft victim for the five common gadgets, as well potential ways to recover your property if it's stolen. And no, we're not recommending using a taser for any of them..."


CELEBRITIES: Obama Compared to Spears, Hilton

AURORA, Colo. (July 31) -- John McCain's presidential campaign on Wednesday released a withering television ad comparing Barack Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, suggesting the Democratic contender is little more than a vapid but widely recognized media concoction.

Obama's campaign quickly responded with a commercial of its own, dismissing McCain's complaints as "baloney" and "baseless."

McCain's ad, titled "Celeb" and set to air in 11 battleground states, intercuts images of Obama on his trip to Europe last week with video of twenty-something pop stars Spears and Hilton _ both better known for their childish off-screen antics.

"He's the biggest celebrity in the world, but is he ready to lead?" the voiceover asks, noting the Illinois senator's opposition to offshore oil drilling and suggesting he would raise taxes if elected.
It was the latest effort by the GOP hopeful to cast Obama as a lightweight with little experience in leadership or governing. It also was risky for McCain's campaign to both acknowledge Obama's worldwide fame and depict it as a weakness rather than a strength.

Campaigning in Missouri, Obama said the ad was the latest example of McCain's negativity _ a theme his campaign has tried to stress lately.

"He doesn't seem to have anything positive to say about me, does he?" Obama said. "You need to ask John McCain what he's for, not just what he's against."

Obama also said the link to Hilton shows Republicans are leaving no stone unturned in their attempts to tarnish him.

"I've never even met the woman," he said.

Hilton's spokesman Jason Moore also commented, saying "Miss Hilton was neither asked, nor did she give permission, for the use of her likeness in the ad, and has no further comment."

The Obama campaign ad, released hours after McCain's, shows images of the Arizona senator with President Bush and accuses McCain of practicing "the politics of the past." The campaign said it could air as soon as Thursday.

It was the second Obama ad in as many days responding to negative spots by McCain. But it was unclear how broadly the campaign intended to run it. The campaign typically identifies states where its ads air, but on Wednesday only said this ad would appear "in some markets."

Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a communications professor at the University of Pennsylvania, said McCain's comparison of Obama to Spears and Hilton likely would not persuade many voters.

"The typical viewer will fail to see the analogy," she said. "Voters believe Sen. Obama is a celebrity, but not in the same sense as Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. So when you are asking, 'What are they doing in the ad?,' it distracts attention from the message of the ad."

McCain did not mention the ad at a town-hall meeting in Colorado, but reiterated many of his complaints about Obama.

"The beauty of his words have attracted many people, especially among the young to his campaign," McCain told workers at Wagner Equipment, which rents and sells heavy farm machinery. "My concern with Sen. Obama is with issues big and small. What he says and what he does are often two different things."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

NEWS: Body of Ballooning Priest Found at Sea

SAO PAULO, Brazil (July 29) -

DNA tests confirmed that a body found off the coast of Brazil is that of a priest who disappeared while flying over the Atlantic buoyed by hundreds of brightly colored party balloons, authorities said Tuesday.

The Rev. Adelir Antonio de Carli set off from the Brazilian port city of Paranagua on April 20 strapped to 1,000 helium-filled balloons in an attempt to raise money to build a rest stop and worship center for truckers.

But the 41-year-old Roman Catholic priest soon lost contact with his ground team, and the cluster of yellow, orange, pink and white balloons was found in the water a day later.

Tugboat workers discovered a body off Rio de Janeiro in early July that authorities believed belonged to the cleric. Medical examiner worker Rosane Alves said Tuesday that tests comparing DNA samples from de Carli's brother to the body confirmed their suspicions.

The brother, Moacir de Carli, said the news came as a relief.


MONEY: 10 Part time jobs you can do from home

1. Tutor: $10.90 to $18.85
Job Description: Provide one-on-one or group instruction. Tutor individuals from your home.

2. Childcare Worker/Babysitter: $7.82 - $10.18
Job Description: Care for children, organize and participate in recreational activities, discipline children, etc. At-home childcare workers can also provide before-school and afterschool care.

3. Wedding/Party Planner: $31,049 to $43,668
Job Description: Party planners conceive, organize, and execute special affairs such as weddings, birthday parties, anniversaries, and bar and bat mitzvahs. They custom design an event to suit their customers' needs and budgets.

4. Answering Service: $9.46 to $12.69
Job Description: Answer incoming calls from offices (i.e. doctors offices, apartment complexes, etc.) after normal business hours and relay information per specific account protocol.

5. Scheduler: $11.92 to $17.51
Job Description: Handles client calendar and updates appointments as needed.

6. Medical Biller: $11.88 to $15.72
Job Description: Medical Billing and its related occupations continue to be the fastest growing opportunities in health care. Insurance companies and the government are spending more time and money researching and controlling claims’ fraud, abusive practices, and medical necessity issues. Because of this, insurance companies, doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, and other providers are hiring more.

7. Freelance Writer: $28.78 to $45.62
Job Description: Freelance writing work generally requires at least one field of expertise. Create technical writing documents or blog about sports, politics, entertainment, etc. Writing assignments can also include grant proposals or academic projects.

8. Caterer: $9.47 to $11.97
Job Description: Cook food for events, i.e, parties, weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, prepare specialty items, hors d'oeuvres, etc.

9. Desktop Publisher: $15.98 to $21.30
Job Description: Complete assignments involving word processing, including page layouts, charts and computer graphics utilizing desktop publishing equipment and integrated software packages. May require an associate's degree in a related area and experience in the field or in a related area.

10. Fundraiser: $35,349 to $51,291
Job Description: Responsible for achieving an agreed money-raising target by approaching trusts, corporations, statutory bodies, major donors, individuals and other sources, and by running events. Fundraisers work with individuals, communities, businesses and charitable trusts to raise awareness of the charity's work, aims and goals.

Salary data courtesy

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

CELEBRITIES: Oprah School Matron Pleads Not Guilty

SEBOKENG, South Africa (July 29)- A former dormitory matron at Oprah Winfrey's school for poor South African girls pleaded innocent Tuesday to charges that she indecently assaulted and otherwise abused six teenagers and a fellow matron at the academy.

Tiny Virginia Makopo, 28, looked nervous and sullen at the start of her trial, and she and her lawyer gave no indication what her defense would be.


Cocaine high-energy drink?!

Did you know this?

There exists a Cocaine high-energy drink, containing three and a half times the amount of caffeine as Red Bull, another popular high-energy drink.

Cocaine was pulled from U.S. shelves in 2007, after the FDA declared that its producers, Redux Beverages, were "illegally marketing their drink as an alternative to street drugs."

The drink is still available, however, online, in Europe and even in select stores in the U.S. Despite the controversy, Redux Beverages does not plan to cease production any time soon. You know what they say -- there's no such thing as bad publicity.

What is a Brain Teaser?

Your mind works a lot like a muscle. The more exercise it gets, the better it works. How to exercise your brain and have fun at the same time? Brainteasers, of course!

Brainteasers can be loosely defined as anything that plays a trick on your senses or on common thought processes to cause many people to come up with an obvious (and incorrect) answer.

Brain Games can take the form of:

1) Pictures that confuse your vision
2) Short word puzzles that confuse your mind
3) Physical objects that don't feel, taste, or sound the way you instinctively think they should.

There are lots of brain teasers currently on sale. Each works differently, but they all do one thing: attempt to make you smarter.


POLITICS: McCain Has Spot of Skin Removed

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (July 28) - Republican Sen. John McCain said Monday he had had a small patch of skin removed from his face and biopsied as part of a regular checkup with his dermatologist.

"She said that I was doing fine," McCain, a three-time melanoma survivor, told reporters on a presidential campaign visit to an oil rig where he spoke briefly about his proposed energy plan.

"She took a small little nick from my cheek, as she does regularly, and that will be biopsied just to make sure everything is fine."


By Liza Porteus Viana
Barbra Streisand has granted a pretty rare Q&A e-mail session, in which she talks about shifting her support from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama for president, race in American in this year's elections, and why Hollywood celebs take so much heat for weighing in on politics.

Whether it's because she thinks she can sway some voters Obama's way or just because she wanted to put in her 2 cents, who knows, but here are a couple of the questions and answers, not all in their entirety. Check out for the entire Q&A (Also posted on Babs' own Web site).


CELEBRITIES: Bono, the Godfather?

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have reportedly picked U2 frontman Bono to be their new twins' godfather.

Jolie gave birth to Knox Leon and Vivienne Marcheline two weeks ago and the entire family is now spending some quality time at Bono's home in France.

A pal of A-list couple reveals that Brad and Angelina think that Bono would be the perfect godparent.

'Brad and Angie think the world of Bono. They have been friends for years,' The Mirror quoted the friend, as saying.

Brad is a massive U2 fan and told Bono how much he admired him when they were introduced at a party a few years back.

'Since then, they've become very close, which Brad is thrilled about. Angelina is inspired by Bono's humanitarian work and gets on with his wife Ali Hewson. Ali's given Angelina some clothes from her ethical clothing range Edun.'

Monday, July 28, 2008

MONEY: Administration OKs new way to help mortgage market

WASHINGTON- The Bush administration and federal banking regulators joined with the nation's four largest banks Monday to endorse a new way to pump money into the battered U.S. mortgage market.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson unveiled a set of best practices designed to encourage banks to issue a debt instrument known as a covered bond. The administration hopes these bonds will replace some of the mortgage financing that has disappeared as investors have incurred billions of dollars of losses on mortgage-backed securities.

"As we are all aware, the availability of affordable mortgage financing is essential to turning the corner on the current housing correction," Paulson said in launching the new effort.

"We are at the early stages of what should be a promising path, where the nascent U.S. covered bond market can grow and provide a new source of mortgage financing," he said.


TECHNOLOGY: Cuil launches a massive search engine

Menlo Park based Cuil will launch later this evening with an index of 120 billion web pages, making them arguably the most comprehensive search engine on the web (Google doesn't disclose the size of their index, although they claim to know about a trillion unique web pages). They've also dropped one of the "l's" from their name - previously the company was "Cuill." Either way, it's pronounced "cool." The super-stealth search project was founded by highly respected search experts. Husband and wife team Tom Costello (CEO) and Anna Patterson (VP Engineering) were joined by Russell Power.

FULL ARTICLE: 2008/ 07/ 27/ cuill-launches-a-massive-search-engine/

SPORTS: Pictures speak louder than words

by Elisa Harrison
Fort Lauderdale-- For all of you boxing aficionados, the following link has a very interesting sequence of pictures from last Saturday's war between welterweight challenger Antonio Margarito and WBA champion Miguel Cotto. The fight resulted in an 11th round TKO victory for Antonio 'The Tijuana Tornado" Margarito who punished Cotto into submission, handing him the first defeat of his professional career. The Mexican vs Puerto Rico rivalry is alive and well, folks...

MONEY: Most and least expensive cars to insure

10 Most-Expensive Cars to Insure
The 10 vehicles that account for the highest dollar amount of losses for insurance companies (starting with the most expensive) are:
Cadillac Escalade EXT 4WD
Subaru Impreza WRX 4WD
Hyundai Tiburon
Mitsubishi Lancer
Scion tC
Acura RSX
Nissan Sentra SE-R
Suzuki Forenza
Nissan Sentra/Mitsubishi Eclipse
Chevrolet Cobalt two-door

10 Least-Expensive Cars to Insure
The 10 vehicles that account for the lowest dollar amount of losses for insurance companies (starting with the least expensive) are:
Ford Five Hundred 4WD (now the Ford Taurus)
Buick Rendezvous 4WD
Buick Lucerne/Buick Rainier 4WD/Honda Odyssey
Ford Freestyle 4WD/Subaru Outback 4WD
Buick Rendezvous/Honda Pilot
Chrysler Town & Country LWB
Honda Pilot 4WD
Buick LaCrosse/Chevrolet Uplander/Ford Escape/Volvo V70
Dodge Grand Caravan/Ford Freestyle 4WD
Ford Explorer 4WD/GMC Sierra 1500 4WD/Toyota Highlander/Toyota Sienna

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, based on 2004-2006 models

JOBS: Career Fakers

Forbes magazine has just come out with one of the most interesting articles I've read this week titled "Career Fakers," by Klaus Kneale.

The article talks about, yep, you guessed it, people who have been extremely successful, yet they either faked their credentials or never had one to begin with.

If you're curious to know who they are, this is the top 7 people on the list:

1) Dr. Phil
2) Milli Vanilli
3) Rodney Rothman
4) Marilee Jones
5) Jayson Blair
6) James Frey

This is how the article begins:

"A renewed fascination with fakers might be just around the corner..."


Sunday, July 27, 2008

RELIGION: God Wants Me to Be Rich

by Karl Taro Greenfeld,Portfolio
Posted: 2008-07-25 10:42:28

Joel Osteen preaches the virtues of prosperity -- for himself as well as his congregation. A look at the man who may well be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the slumping economy.

Who will save us? Who will lift us up from crushing credit-card debt and resetting mortgage payments and impending foreclosure, from increasing gas prices and decreasing health-insurance coverage? We are a nation stumbling through our worst financial crisis in a generation and our worst housing market in a lifetime. And so we come, seeking gentle salvation, inspiring prayers, steadying words, soothing notions, and calming thoughts that will allow us to become, in Joel Osteen's words, "victors, not victims."


Saturday, July 26, 2008

MOVIES: Dark Knight makes $300M in 10 days

Warner Bros' The Dark Knight continues to power drive the North American box office and grossed a whopping $23.1 million Friday from 4,366 theaters. That's down only 66% from its record-smashing debut a week ago.

With an expected $78 million weekend, down only 50% from the best-ever Fri-Sat-Sun, the Christian Bale-Heath Ledger actioner directed by Chris Nolan is also well on its way to making $300M in just 10 days, the fastest ever (beating Pirates Of The Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest which did it is 16 days).

All anybody can do at the studios is keep repeating the word, "Amazing". And it is. There are even whispers starting whether Dark Knight can beat the incredible worldwide numbers posted by the all-time $1.8 billion benchmark of Titanic. "It can be the first movie that has a real shot," one rival studio bigwig told me cautiously. Because not only do people like the movie, but it's getting incredible repeat business. Even occasional moviegoers are curious to see what all the fuss is about.



NEWS: Obama Understands America Better than the Republicans

Posted Jul 26th 2008 12:52AM by Cenk Uygur

"In Obama's speech in Germany he explained why he loves America in a way that shows a deep understanding of what this country is all about. Unfortunately, I don't think the conservatives get what he's saying. I explain it below (including a clip of the speech)..."


Do you think Obama understands America better than the Republicans?

View Results

In Memoriam: Randy Pausch (1960-2008)

By RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI, Associated Press Writer
Fri Jul 25, 12:03 PM ET
PITTSBURGH - Randy Pausch, the Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist whose "last lecture" about facing terminal cancer became an Internet sensation and a best-selling book, died Friday. He was 47.

Pausch died at his home in Chesapeake, Va., said Jeffrey Zaslow, a Wall Street Journal writer who co-wrote Pausch's book. Pausch and his family had moved there last fall to be closer to his wife's relatives.

Full article:

There are more inspirational videos from Randy Pausch below at the bottom of the page.

Friday, July 25, 2008

SPORTS: Meet your 2008 U.S. Olympic Boxing Team

by Elisa Harrison
Fort Lauderdale-- The United States will be sending nine boxers to Beijing, China, this August to compete in the 2008 Olympic games. And, for the first time in thirty years, the United States will be sending a boxer who will be competing in his second consecutive Olympic games.

The U.S. failed to qualify fighters in the Light heavyweight and Super heavyweight divisions. The best hopes at medaling for the U.S. appear to be in the smaller weight divisions and possibly at welterweight.

For full details about this significant event, please check the following article by Tom Dickey from Bragging Rights Corner "Meet your 2008 US Olympic Boxing Team".

NEWS: Cuba's new men and women

I don't know why this particular news story from Express Gay News caught my attention: Cuba (a politically repressive communist regime) will start paying for sex-change operations for transsexuals. The irony is that the person spearheading this human-rights issue is none other than Raul Castro's daughter, Mariela Castro.

"Cuba's current President Raúl Castro has shocked the international community — and presumably the residents of his own country — by authorizing free sex-change operations for transgendered people, thanks to strong support from his daughter, Mariela Castro-Espin.

Castro-Espin, who heads the National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX), is not shy about the role she played in the passage into law on June 4 of this year of Resolution 126, as it is known, considering it a major piece social legislation not only for Cuba but countries worldwide..."

To read the full article, please log on to

MOVIES: The Joker's Magic Trick

As if you hadn't heard enough of Batman's Dark Knight, here's the latest trick from YouTube.

NEWS ARTICLE: Where Is Human Evolution Heading?

The race's DNA is changing faster than ever; what it means for our descendants
By Nancy Shute
Posted July 24, 2008- usnews

If you judge the progress of humanity by Homer Simpson, Paris Hilton, and Girls Gone Wild videos, you might conclude that our evolution has stalled—or even shifted into reverse. Not so, scientists say. Humans are evolving faster than ever before, picking up new genetic traits and talents that may help us survive a turbulent future...

To read the full article, please check:

ECONOMY: Jobs that are growing fast, and pay

If you're like the vast majority of us, you're always looking to make more money or find a job that pays more. Despite the current economic depression, there are still some jobs that are growing fast or faster than the national average. Based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2008-2009 Occupational Outlook Handbook, I put together a listing of the top 20 jobs which is below.

So, don't despair. Keep looking. There's still time to finally make that career change--a forensic science technician, perhaps?

1. Network systems and data communications analysts
Job Description: Ensure the quality of network systems at various stages, from their creation through their maintenance.
Average Salary:$64,600

2. Computer software engineers, applications
Job Description: Maintain and develop computer programs and software applications based on customer needs for businesses.
Average Salary: $79,780

3. Personal financial advisers
Job Description: Work with clients to help them understand the state of their finances and the best course of action for them to take through investments and budgets.
Average Salary: $66,120

4. Makeup artists, theatrical and performance
Job Description: Help performers look the part of their roles with the right application of makeup.
Average Salary:$31,820

5. Veterinarians
Job Description: Provide health care for animals in all settings, whether they are a family pet or belong to the zoo.
Average Salary: $71,990

6. Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors
Job Description: Work with individuals to examine their history of abuse or addiction and educations them in preventative practices.
Average Salary: $34,040

7. Financial analysts
Job Description: Help their clients, both business and individuals, decide which investment opportunities are more appropriate for their needs.
Average Salary: $66,590

8. Child, family, and school social workers
Job Description: Ensure the health and well-being of children in home and school life by checking on the quality of life their families provide.
Average Salary: $37,480

9. Gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators

Job Description: Serve as security to prevent cheating in casinos and to maintain the safety of both the patrons and the employees.
Average Salary: $27,130

10. Physical therapist assistants
Job Description: Help physical therapists administer various therapeutic exercises and activities and document the results.
Average Salary: $41,360

11. Forensic science technicians

Job Description: Use evidence they've collected from crime scenes and other locales in order to solve investigations.
Average Salary: $45,330

12. Dental hygienists
Perform some minor procedures and prepare patients for their consultation with a dentist. Average Salary: $62,800

13. Mental health counselors
Job Description: Work with patients both one on one and in groups to help manage addiction, mood disorders and a variety of other health issues.
Average Salary: $34,380

14. Mental health and substance abuse social workers
Job Description: Help people with a history of substance abuse overcome and handle their addictions through various means, including therapy.
Average Salary: $35,410

15. Marriage and family therapists

Job Description: Help couples and families identify and overcome mental and emotional conflicts.
Average Salary: $43,210

16. Dental assistants
Job Description: Under the supervision of a dentist, carry out some clerical, lab and patient tasks.
Average Salary: $30,220

17. Computer systems analysts

Job Description: Learn about new technologies and decide which ones best suit an organization and how to integrate them.
Average Salary:$69,760

18. Database administrators
Job Description: Maintain computer databases with the use of software and also update databases as needed.
Average Salary: $64,670

19. Computer software engineers, systems software
Job Description: Manage a company's computer systems and can be involved from the planning stage through its daily maintenance.
Average Salary: $85,370

20. Gaming managers
Job Description: Oversee the daily activities of a casino.
Average Salary: $62,820

The Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2008-2009 Occupational Outlook Handbook

Buy the book "I don't know what I want, but I know it's not this: a step-by-step guide to finding gratifying work" by Julie Jansen from one of our sponsors

TECHNOLOGY: Brightkite Wants to Win the Mobile Social Network Battle (+ Invites for Readers!)

by Sarah Perez
April 28, 2008
Up-and-coming mobile social network Brightkite faces some serious competition from a myriad of mobile social networks, all of whom are fighting to win the emerging mobile market. However, Brightkite has a few tricks up their sleeve that they hope will make them stand out from the rest, the most important of which is their ability to create a social network that merges with your real life.

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LIFESTYLE AND TECHNOLOGY: LabPixie's Calorie Calculator

by LabPixies
Created 12/29/07

So we all want to be and feel healthy, eat and live a healthy lifestyle, but find it impossible to figure out how to monitor all that daily food intake? Well, the folks at LabPixies have found a way to get around all these excuses with Calorie calculator. I found this information by accident while I was being redirected to another web-site and the simplicity of this little widget caught my attention.

What is it and how does it work?

Calorie calculator, a simple way to monitor you daily calorie intake, easily manage your diet and meals. Use the calorie calculator to see each meal's calorie details and sum up your daily total. Use the settings to see your recommended average daily intake.

Good News About Bad Shirts

Thursday, July 24, 2008

NEWS OF THE WEIRD: In hiding for exposing Tanzania witchdoctors

By Vicky Ntetema
BBC News

"I am living in hiding after I received threats because of my undercover work exposing the threat from witchdoctors to albinos living in Tanzania.

I do not regret it, even if I am very scared.

"Mine is just one life, compared to the several thousand people living with albinism in the country.


POLITICS: NBC News/Wall Street Journal finds a third party candidacy could hurt McCain

by JR

Los Angeles-- Polls show Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama running close in the 2008 presidential election. But could third-party candidates take votes away from McCain, much as Ralph Nader did during his bid for the presidency in 2000.

This week's NBC News / Wall Street Journal poll tends to think so.

According to the poll's findings, Obama has a 6-point lead over McCain, even though most respondents thought he was a riskier pick for president. But when voters were asked to factor in two other candidates -- former GOP congressman Bob Barr, who's running for president as a Libertarian, and Nader, who's running as an independent -- Obama's lead opened up.

Here's how MSNBC summarized it: "... Obama’s lead over McCain expands to 13 points when third-party candidates Ralph Nader and Bob Barr are added into the mix — with Obama at 48 percent, McCain at 35 percent, Nader at 5 percent and Barr at 2 percent. However, it’s important to note that the pro-Obama vote (48 percent) and anti-Obama vote (adding up to 42 percent) is consistent with the result from the two-way match up."

In mid-June, stories about Republicans' concerns about Barr were all over the media. The New York Times, for example, reported that Barr "gleefully recounted" how some in the GOP had tried to talk him out of running.

"They all said, 'Look, we understand why you’re [running]. We agree with why you’re doing it. But please don’t do it,'" Barr told The Times.

What this all mean come November? It's hard to say.'s Mystery Pollster column takes a look at the polling on third-party candidates and suggests that the support for them may not be what it seems.

TELEVISION: They've got that global warming thing down cold

Penn & Teller's Bull----!
10-10:30 p.m. Thursday, Showtime

I've seen lots of things on Penn & Teller's Bull----!, television's only investigative-journalism program run by comic magicians: Hidden-camera pranks where yuppie fools blather on about designer water that actually came from a garden hose. New Age health nuts allowing mollusks to crawl around on their faces to soak up the health benefits of slug slime. Naked people floating around in a zero-gravity chamber for a show on NASA. I don't actually know what that one was supposed to prove, but Penn & Teller share my first rule of journalism, that naked is always good.

But one thing I haven't seen is grim; the show is just too much fun for that. So when Thursday's episode on environmentalism opened with a morose-looking Penn Jillette waving a magazine as he recited one ecotastrophe after another -- drought in Africa, flooding in Pakistan and Japan, snowless winters in New England and Northern Europe -- I snapped to attention. ''It says right here in Time magazine -- the weather's gone nuts and we humans are to blame!'' Teller wailed. ``We have bleeped up the environment and now we're going to pay for it!''

Yeah, that global warming is pretty bad. You know, Al Gore says -- oops, never mind. Turns out Penn's not reading from the infamous Time cover story of 2006 on global warming, the one headlined BE WORRIED. BE VERY WORRIED. No, this Time is from 1974, and the headline is, ANOTHER ICE AGE? And all those violent paroxysms of nature are the pernicious work of global cooling.

Yes, back in the days of disco, the news media echoed with predictions of the world's imminent demise from ice rather than fire. Newsweek warned that temperatures had already dropped ''a sixth of the way toward the Ice Age average.'' By 1985, Life declared, ``air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching the earth by one half.''

A MAJOR COOLING WIDELY ACCEPTED TO BE INEVITABLE, agreed The New York Times, adding in an editorial: ''Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.'' To be fair, this was nothing new at The Times. It had been predicting the world was on the verge of turning into a Popsicle since at least 1895 -- GEOLOGISTS THINK THE WORLD MAY BE FROZEN UP AGAIN, a headline said back then. Perhaps the editors figured that if they printed the story often enough, they were bound to get it right, if only because of the law of averages.

I sometimes find myself longing for the good old days of the Ice Age scare, because at least back then, dissent was possible. When Newsweek in 1975 proposed fighting off those inexorable glaciers by ''melting the arctic cap by covering it with black soot or diverting arctic rivers,'' it had the grace to concede that some scientists worried just a teensy bit that these solutions ``might create problems far greater than they resolve.''

These days, deviating from the orthodoxy on global warming -- not just questioning whether it exists, but how much of it is due to human activity, or if the results might be a little less ruinous than the Climate Cassandras predict -- is almost enough to get you thrown in jail. And I mean that literally. James Hansen, the former Gore science advisor who's been one of the foremost doomsayers on global warming, recently said that oil company executives who argue against him ``should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature.''

Consider it a certainty that the Climate Police will lock up Penn & Teller after Thursday's show. Not only does it feature interviews with some scientists who aren't totally sold on the idea that the Earth is toast, it whispers an even more inconvenient truth: A lot of the scariest global-warming tales are told by people who stand to make a buck by scaring you.

At one end of the scale is a Santa Fe therapist who treats patients for what she calls ''eco-anxiety'' by giving them what she calls ''river rocks'' -- actually, it's gravel picked up from her driveway -- to remind them that ''you do come from Earth and you are connected.'' (The most scandalous thing about this ''treatment'' is that it works: ''Whenever I'm by a rock, holding it, I feel grounded,'' explains one grateful patient.)

At the other is Al Gore, who's made a post-political career out of warning that we're on the brink of ''epic destruction involving extreme weather, floods, droughts, epidemics and killer heat waves.'' A couple of years ago, Gore suffered some minor embarrassment when a Tennessee think-tank revealed that his 20-room Nashville mansion uses 17 times the electricity of the average American home. Unabashed, Gore explained that he was ''offsetting'' his electric gluttony by buying carbon credits -- that it, putting money into green projects, would save as much energy as his home wasted.

Looking a little more closely into it, Bull----! points out that Gore was actually purchasing those carbon credits from . . . himself. He did it by investing money in his own company Generation Investment Management, which buys stocks in companies that make green technology -- technology that Gore is constantly lobbying governments to adopt or mandate. ''So Al makes money when people buy carbon credits through his company,'' says a Gore critic. It's not only good to be green, but profitable, too.

I'm not surprised if you're surprised that Gore might have a financial interest in screaming about the end of the world. Reporters who fall asleep chanting the mantra follow the money have been heinously lax in practicing it on the global warming story.

Last November, when NBC insisted that every single program on the network that week would have a green theme, nobody seemed to notice that the network was in effect running a massive product-placement ad for its corporate parent General Electric. GE has invested massive amounts of money in solar panels, wind power and other so-called clean-energy technologies for which there will be virtually no consumer demand unless Congress passes laws requiring them.

But practically no reporters were interested in that story -- certainly not those at NBC News, which also participated in Green Week by inserting stories into its shows. When I asked network anchor Brian Williams if this wasn't corporate manipulation of his newscast, he shook his head vigorously. ''Not at all,'' he insisted. ''I've got no problems with it. It's not any different than The New York Times editorial board sitting down and saying the newspaper is going to do a series of stories on some particular subject.'' Maybe, if The New York Times were owned by, say, Halliburton, and the board of directors ordered up a series on, say, the need to invade Iraq. But I don't have time to argue about it right now. I'm pretty sure I hear the Climate Police at my door.

CULTURE: What is generation ñ?

New York- For those who will read this yet still won't know what it's about, I guess that a little translation and background information is due.

Generation ñ is comprised of second or third generation Cuban-Americans who are very much linked to their past roots in Cuba, but who are also fully Americans, and who can careless about Cuba. The following description is right out of the ñ web. And you thought that Generation X had a monopoly on the alphabet soup!

From the Generation ñ web...

"It's loving Star Wars and yet growing up with your abuela's novelas. Intimate knowledge of the musical catalog of both U2 and Celia Cruz. It's a space where your Latin heritage influences your choices but doesn't define you.

We're bound by an appreciation of things that are good. If they happen to be Latin, great. If not, great.

We are the folks for whom being Latino has never been a chore. Not trapped between two identities, we embrace our roots while enjoying our American identity with fervor. Buying into the American dream in every broadband, Blu Ray, HD kinda way. Rather than feel divided, we're feelin' kinda doubled.

So as a channel, it's unique entertainment that appeals to Latinos as a niche market that varies from city to city.

The Mexican American experience in LA has different interests and turn-ons than that of NYC's Newyorican, Dominicano swing and Miami's melting pot of Cuban, Argentinian, Nicaraguan, Colombiano, etc.. has it's own vibe. It ain't a big 'ol Hispanic monolith, it's a buncha little markets that require a bit'o care to reach.

So later on, it'll reach San Antonio where generation ñ has lived for 100 years. And then everywhere else from Peru to Chicago where Latin interest stuff needs a filter and a way to get hip.

There will be written content, from the archives of the magazine and new stuff too. There'll be merchandise, and indie films which we're going to distribute by helping content reach it's target market. There'll be all manner of sexy web ephemera.

After all, This is Latino 2.0

Welcome to the Latin thing, but with more cowbell."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

TECHNOLOGY: The Case for Precaution in the Use of Cell Phones

By Giselle Figueras
Miami- Is there room to pause and think whether or not use of cell-phones may cause cancer? While the date is still recent and too scant to conclusive answer that question in the affirmative, the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute Center for Environmental Oncology think there is.

Not to frighten anyone-- and not that it will stop anyone from using their cell-phones-- but the Center's findings is a good source of information for anyone interested in this topic; a topic that has not received the attention it deserves in the news media. If anything, being aware of any breakthroughs in this field of research might make some of us moderate, even if slight, our total reliance and dependence on cell-phones.

There is, of course, no room to panic.

But as the Center's own conclusion make clear: "We, the users, must all take precautionary measures in view of recent scientific data on the biological effects of cell phone use, especially those who already have cancer."

TECHNOLOGY: On "How Technology Could Be Killing Your Work Productivity (And What to Do About It)"

by Giselle Figueras
Miami-- If you're like me who thinks that technology is making us less productive, I found the following article of great interest.

Simply titled, "How Technology Could Be Killing Your Work Productivity (And What to Do About It)" from, where you will find the answers to what you've always felt was true but couldn't articulate. In fact, you probably will find yourself agreeing with much of the article.

Personally, I always felt that technology, specifically the computer and the internet, is genetically changing or hard-wiring our brain molecular system in ways we haven't even begun to understand.

Let me give you an example. There used to be a time, years ago it seems, when I buried myself in books, reading dense, thick books for hours on end non-stop. These days, I'm lucky if I read any book without feeling exhausted quickly, desperate to do something else, such as simply logging online. Feeling like I was being at most productive when I was reading, I now feel I'm wasting my time.

Has that happened or something similar happened to you, too? For the next few weeks I will do some more research on this topic and get back to you with my findings.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

OBITUARY: Estelle Getty of "Golden Girls", dies at age 84

by Keith Singleton
Los Angeles-- Estelle Getty, the diminutive actress who spent 40 years struggling for success before landing a role of a lifetime in 1985 as the sarcastic octogenarian Sophia on TV's "The Golden Girls," has died. She was 84.

Getty, who suffered from advanced dementia, died at about 5:30 a.m. Tuesday at her Hollywood Boulevard home, said her son, Carl Gettleman of Santa Monica.

"She was loved throughout the world in six continents, and if they loved sitcoms in Antarctica she would have been loved on seven continents," her son said. "She was one of the most talented comedic actresses who ever lived."

"The Golden Girls," featuring four female retirees sharing a house in Miami, grew out of NBC programming chief Brandon Tartikoff's belief that television was ignoring its older viewers.

Three of its stars had already appeared in previous series: Bea Arthur in "Maude," Betty White in "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," and Rue McClanahan in "Mama's Family." The last character to be cast was Sophia Petrillo, the feisty 80-something mother of Arthur's character.

1) Sophia Checks Out.
2) CNN Today.

MONEY: 10 Quirky Things to Insure

Alien Abduction Policies
The UFO Abduction Insurance Co. offers $10 million worth of coverage to anyone who can prove that they were kidnapped by extraterrestrials.

'John Wayne Bobbitt' Policies

London-based insurance broker Goodfellow Rebecca Ingrams Pearson, which quit selling alien abduction policies after the Heaven's Gate mass suicide, offers coverage to men worried that they will get mutilated in the same way that gained John Wayne Bobbitt notoriety, according to Investment News. No word on whether the policy includes psychological counseling.

O.J. Insurance
What happens to a company whose celebrity endorser is charged with murder or even dog fighting? It turns out there is insurance for just these circumstances, called moral turpitude. The policies wouldn't come into effect for just any offense.

Wedding Insurance
What if a groom got chest pains or a flood prevented members of the wedding party from attending the reception?

Big Event Cancellation Insurance
When Pope Benedict XVI recently visited the U.S., organizers had to take out insurance in case his itinerary was canceled for security reasons.

Executive Kidnappings

For years, large corporations have taken out insurance on executives doing business in politically unstable countries. According to eGlobal Health Insurers Agency LLC, ransoms are paid most of the time and rescues are rare.

Coupon Whoops!

Companies hope that consumers take advantage of offers such as coupons for merchandise or services, at least to a point. What's a company to do when a promotion goes too well? The discounts redeemed could add up to more than their budget.

Immaculate Conception
A British insurance company sold a policy to three women offering a payout of one million pounds if they could prove that they were impregnated by means not covered in high school biology classes.

Traumatized Sports Fans offered a policy that would pay fans of Scotland's soccer team who would be left traumatized if the U.K. team won the World Cup, the Record reported. A company official said the policy is no longer available which is a pity because fans of the New York Yankees might have been interested.

'Britney' Coverage
We all get a laugh when we see celebrities attacks cars with umbrellas or shave their heads on a whim. Well, insurance companies do not find any of this bad behavior funny. They insure celebrities who are participating in films and television shows, and bad behavior makes some of them too hot to touch.

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