Thursday, March 31, 2011

Are Reality Shows Setting Unrealistic Standards For Skanks? (VIDEO)

Our panelists debate whether TV programs like A Double Shot At Love and The Bad Girls Club depict unattainable levels of skankiness.

Angels 4, Royals 2: Three up, three down

The Angels opened the season with a 4-2 win Thursday
over the Kansas City Royals.

Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Jered Weaver throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, March 31, 2011, in Kansas City, Mo.

The Good:

The beleaguered catcher. Remember last April, when Jeff Mathis started off hot before he broke his wrist? Well, maybe he’ll do it again, but stay healthy this time. He had two extra-base hits, including a home run, on his birthday. He threw out Chris Getz trying to steal to end the third inning and had a big collision with Matt Treanor at the plate. It was a busy day for the veteran catcher, who had a virtually identical day last year (homer, caughtJered Weaver) on Opening Day.


The ace. Weaver looked to be in midseason form, striking out six, giving up two hits and largely cruising through 6 1/3 innings. Weaver bears down well under pressure and he got out of his only jam in the fourth inning by throwing a nasty breaking ball to strike out Kila Ka’aihue. It doesn’t look as if the Angels will have a big offense, especially while Kendrys Morales is out, so Weaver’s strong first start set a good tone.

The kid. There’s really no reason Peter Bourjos should ever slump as badly as he did at the end of last season (.204). He’s too fast. Bunt singles and infield hits should buoy his average in the future. Bourjos created a run in the sixth inning by bunting for a hit and getting all the way to third after a pair of Royals throwing errors.

The Bad:

The other kid. Mark Trumbo has a big, upper-cut swing that figures to make him streaky. He was so hot all spring, so some Angels fans might not realize it. The Angels will have to be patient through the rookie first baseman’s ups and downs, but will manager Mike Scioscia let him take his lumps? Trumbo looked a little out-of-rhythm while going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

The lefty. The Angels don’t envision Hisanori Takahashi as strictly a left-handed specialist, but he looked like one. He came in to face lefty Ka’aihue and got him out quickly, but the next three batters – all righties – had hits. One of them was Jeff Francoeur’s home run.

The righty. Before the game, Scioscia named Kevin Jepsen the primary eighth-inning setup guy. He won’t be for long if he pitches the way he did Thursday (two walks, a HR, seven strikes in 18 pitches). Rookie Michael Kohn had to bail him out of eighth-inning jam, just as rookie Jordan Walden did for Takahashi an inning earlier

By Mark Saxon - ESPN

Would You Drive A Car Made From Bananas?

Photo: Arif Ali, AFP / Getty Images

Proving nature is, in fact, often better than anything coming off a conveyor belt, we may soon have cars made from pineapples, bananas and coconuts. All of these fruits have fibrous cellulose (nanocellulose) which rivals widely-used Kevlar in strength, reports Wired. Plus, the nanocellulose plastic is lighter than many widely used materials and also biodegradable.

The material would be renewable and decomposable (as long as it's not combined with petroleum-based plastics) -- and a lighter car means a lower gas bill. (Ford is already hoping to slim their vehicles by 250 to 750 pounds, notes Wired.) In a statement, Alcides Leão, a researcher at São Paulo State University, says the material is "30 percent lighter and three to four times stronger." That's because a plant's main cell wall, where cellulose is found, can be processed to yield fibers so tight that 50,000 fit within the diameter of a human hair.

Leão and his team are still working in small quantities in the lab so there's no telling yet how much nanocellulose plastic will cost, but it won't be cheap. Though if it takes off in the automotive world, high production would knock down the price. And it's cost-effective: A pound of nanocellulose yields 100 pounds of plastic.

Once this technology catches on, watch out -- Leão says he's working on steel and aluminum alternatives next.

by Jessie Cacciola  -

Las Vegas .America's #1 Foreclosure Ghost Town

On the cover of their most recent issue, Fortune declares the "return of Real Estate" to be upon us. With the national housing market wrecked by low sales and marred by high foreclosure rates, the optimistic sentiment seems odd. Have they not seen the scores of empty homes?
Across America, these abandoned homes have formed into something more disturbing: ghost towns. In Las Vegas, a city that The Economist calls the "foreclosure capital of America," over eighty percent of mortgages are underwater. Detroit, another declining city, has watched the city's population drop 25 percent over the last decade. Modesto, California -- just 90 miles east of San Francisco -- has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country. Even one small town in New York have watched property values come crashing down.
In February, new home sales have plunged to record lows, down 28 percent from the year prior, according to new government data.
Economists and analysts, however, think things may actually get worse. According to Lender Processing Services, around 6.9 million homeowners were either delinquent or in foreclosure proceedings through February, and 1 in every 577 housing units received a foreclosure filing last month, finds data providerRealtyTrac.
Nationwide, empty houses are leading to empty neighborhoods, especially in Arizona, California, Nevada and Michigan. The slide show below shows a few examples of the results: once vital communities reduced to empty living rooms and overgrown weeds.

Cancer-treatment role downgraded #420 Feds' praise for pot goes up in smoke

For a brief time earlier this month, the National Cancer Institute, a branch of the federal government’s National Institutes of Health, had posted a webpage touting the possible benefits of marijuana in fighting cancer tumors. But less than two weeks after it went up, the webpage was altered and the approving words stricken.

The webpage, added to’s “alternative medicine” section this month, is still there, and still says marijuana has “potential benefits” for treating symptoms of cancer - a groundbreaking assertion for a government-affiliated organization.

But the updated page deletes this praise for marijuana’s ability to combat cancer.

“In the practice of integrative oncology, the health care provider may recommend medicinal cannabis not only for symptom management, but also for its possible direct anti-tumor effect,” the excised passage read.

The advice is now less supportive, and refers only to symptoms, not to cures: “Though no relevant surveys of practice patterns exist, it appears that physicians caring for cancer patients who prescribe medicinal cannabis predominantly do so for symptom management.”

NCI officials initially referred questions to Dr. Donald Abrams, a member of the editorial team. But in an email exchange Tuesday and Wednesday, Dr. Abrams said he was busy and referred questions back to NCI, which then pointed to a webpage written Wednesday by the complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) editorial team that said the changes tried to “add clarification.”

“The CAM Board lead reviewers realized that the previous wording could have been misinterpreted as being a recommendation for prescribing cannabis, which was not the intent of the board,” the posting said. “In addition, the current evidence for the anti-tumor properties of cannabis is discussed only in the context of laboratory studies and not in research involving human subjects.”

The posting said the work is independent of NCI and NIH.

Medical marijuana advocates said they suspected political pressure forced the change, but considered even the current website language a victory, since NCI still touts the “potential benefits” of cannabis for treatment of symptoms of people living with cancer, such as pain and sleep problems.

“We’re very pleased that NCI, and really NIH, have finally recognized marijuana as a complementary alternative medicine,” said Kris Hermes, a spokesman for Americans for Safe Access, which promotes medical marijuana use and research. “That is a significant step forward. But just as importantly, it points to a contradiction in the federal policy on medical marijuana, and it’s a contradiction that needs to be resolved.”

Medical marijuana has become a hot topic in recent years, and 15 states plus the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis use for medicinal purposes. Rules vary across the states, though they generally require a doctor’s permission to obtain or grow marijuana for personal use.

Advocates say it can relieve pain, nausea, weight loss and eye-pressure symptoms of glaucoma.

But the federal government has classified cannabis as a so-called Schedule 1 drug, meaning there is no recognized medical use.

In February 2009, The Washington Times reported that the Drug Enforcement Administration was continuing to raid medical marijuana shops - despite President Obama’s campaign pledge to halt those raids.

A month later, the Justice Department announced guidelines designed to end raids on legitimate medical marijuana distributors in states where they are legal.

In addition to the contradictions between federal and state law, Mr. Hermes said, the NCI’s Web posting there is now a contradiction within the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees both NCI and other federal agencies that do not recognize a medical use.

“The federal government is walking a very fine line with respect to what is really a double standard, that is, [it] can say that marijuana has therapeutic value, and yet at the same time say that there’s no evidence that supports really the statements being made,” he said.

A spokesman for HHS did not respond to a request for comment in time for this article.

An NCI spokeswoman directed questions about political pressure to Dr. Jeffrey White, director of the Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine. But the spokeswoman said Dr. White wasn’t available for an interview until Thursday.

In a sign of how far the medical marijuana industry has moved into the mainstream, marijuana industry advocates hosted a Washington press briefing Wednesday to talk up the industry’s economic impact and plead with the government to recognize them as legitimate.

“The truth here is that the industry is creating jobs, generating tax revenue and providing a product to patients that is far less harmful than many pharmaceutical products out there, and it is just time the government treats it like a true American business,” Steve Fox, spokesman for the National Cannabis Industry Association, said at a briefing at the National Press Club.

Industry officials project that the legal medical cannabis market will reach $1.7 billion in 2011.

The Washington Times

Virgin Galactic: Inside SpaceShipTwo (VIDEO)

(AP Photo/Clay Observatory for Virgina Galactic, Mark Greenberg)

Sir Richard Branson's long-awaited spacecraft is finally getting the finishing touches needed before it can head into orbit

The spacecraft, which was debuted in front of crowds last summer, hopes to be taking six tourists at time into space by 2013.
In October 2010, former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson helped Sir Richard Branson dedicateSpaceport America, a 2-mile long runway in Upham, New Mexico to be the center of space tourism in America.
BBC went inside the spacecraft (the first time a journalist has been inside the plane) to explain its functionality and design. Geek out with all the interesting details below (and check out photos of the first flight and the unveiling below).

AOL Live Session . . Raphael Saadiq, 'Staying In Love' (Video)

In 2008, Raphael Saadiq found critical and commercial success with his third solo record, 'The Way I See It.' Since then, he's toured the world, started a video game company, shot a television pilot and released the third single from the album, the ultra-suave grooves of 'Staying in Love.' 

As a founding member of the '80s R&B trio Tony! Toni! Tone!, Saadiq has also spent the recent years of his career taking on the role of producer and collaborator, working with legendary musicians including D'Angelo, Joss Stone, Q-Tip, Whitney Houston and his boyhood inspirations, Earth, Wind and Fire. In a recent Sessions taping at our New York studio, Saadiq told us about growing up in Oakland, his many projects, his producing habits and working with the great Stevie Wonder.

Newsroom: Sources Warn #MileyCyrus Will Be Depleted by 2013

Unless Americans turn to alternative sources of entertainment, the 'Hannah Montana' star will soon be completely tapped out.

8 Foods Not to Cook Naked

Cooking naked could be said to be a freeing act: one where you let go of your inhibitions to connect with your body and the food you eat. 

You become enraptured in the art of cooking and begin to appreciate your food with a new profound sense of self-awareness — smells, sounds, and tastes are more pronounced. Or, it could be a masochistic, silly experiment where you only inflict pain on yourself.
In case some of you soul-searchers, freethinkers, or adventurous eaters are looking to try this out, we drew up a quick list of foods that you should definitely not make when cooking naked.

Tastes so good, but is the spitting oil worth it? Maybe these little piggy parts wait until you have some clothes on. (Photo courtesy of Istock/MentalArt)

Hot seeds. Unprotected areas. Burning. Ouch. Not the best move. Even if you envision mashing ripe avocadoes between your fingertips to be the ultimate sensual experience, you might want to leave the jalapeños out of the guacamole if you’re doing this in the nude. Just a thought.

A hot, oiled cast-iron pan making contact with raw meat is a beautiful thing — when you’re not standing next to it naked. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/naotakem)

Potato Pancakes( Latkes)
We are talking about some serious hot oil here people, especially if you want to get that crisp exterior; this is a dish best left to those who are clothed. 

The allure of standing in the outdoors, getting in touch with nature, and working with your hands to deep-fry a turkey to create crispy, flavorful skin might sound appealing (if you live in a warm climate), but if that big bird falls in that oil just a little too quickly or flies off the handle, you are in some deep-fried trouble of your own my friend.

Trying to capitalize on your make-your-own sushi class, you figure working with brown rice and raw fish could be a healthy, revitalizing experience. But what happens when that finger grazes some wasabi and then happens to scratch an unnamed orifice… ? Think about it.

Yes, crushing tomatoes with your hands and smelling that intoxicating scent of sauce at a heightened sense of awareness must be nice, but sputtering flecks of tomato flying out at you as you bring it to a simmer might not be so nice.

Making Caramel
Sweet seduction and a silky, buttery mouthfeel all come to mind at the mention of caramel, but cooking with sugar is not a smart move. There is going to be some serious splattering going on and that’s not something you want to expose yourself to.