Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ammiano wants to make marijuana legal in state

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

(02-24) 04:00 PST Sacramento --

California would become the first state in the nation to legalize marijuana for recreational use under a bill introduced Monday by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano of San Francisco.

The proposal would regulate marijuana like alcohol, with people over 21 years old allowed to grow, buy, sell and possess cannabis - all of which is barred by federal law.

Ammiano, a Democrat in his third month as a state lawmaker, said taxes and other fees associated with regulation could put more than a billion dollars a year into state coffers at a time when revenues continue to decline.

He said he thinks the federal government could soften its stance on marijuana under the Obama administration.

"We could in fact have the political will to do something, and certainly in the meantime this is a public policy call and I think it's worth the discussion," Ammiano said. "I think the outcome would be very healthy for California and California's economy."

A spokeswoman for the Drug Enforcement Agency in Washington, D.C., declined to comment on the proposal. A White House spokesman referred to a statement on a question-and-answer section of an Obama transition team blog that says the president "is not in favor of the legalization of marijuana."

While Californians have shown some tolerance for marijuana, such as use for medical conditions with voters' passage of Proposition 215 in 1996, the proposal will face tough opposition in Sacramento.

A lobbyist for key police associations in the state called it "a bad idea whose time has not come."

"The last thing our society needs is yet more legal intoxicants," said John Lovell, who represents the California Peace Officers' Association, California Police Chiefs Association and California Narcotic Officers' Association. "We've got enough social problems now when people aren't in charge of all five of their senses."

But Ammiano's proposal has the support of San Francisco Sheriff Michael Hennessey, who said the idea "should be the subject of legislative and public debate."

It also has the backing of Betty Yee, who chairs the state Board of Equalization, which collects taxes in California. An analysis by the agency concluded the state would collect $1.3 billion a year from tax revenues and a $50-an-ounce levy on retail sales if marijuana were legal.

The analysis also concluded that legalizing marijuana would drop its street value by 50 percent and increase consumption of the substance by 40 percent.

A spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, which advocates for reform in marijuana laws and is backing Ammiano's proposal, said any expected increase in consumption is a "false notion."

"They are making an intuitive assumption that a lot of people make that really does not have that much evidence behind it," said Bruce Mirken, the group's spokesman, who predicted it could take up to two years before the idea wins legislative approval.

"Don't tell me that doing something like (this) proposal is going to introduce another drug into society. That's a load of bull."

E-mail Wyatt Buchanan at wbuchanan@sfchronicle.com.


This article appeared on page B - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Woman's 6,005 piercings

The world's most pierced woman has added yet more metal to her body bringing the grand total to more than 6,000.

Elaine Davidson /Rex

When first recognised by Guinness World Records in 2000, Elaine Davidson had 462 piercings, with 192 in her face alone.

Now, nine years later, she has 6,005 including more than 1,500 that are "internal", reports the Daily Telegraph.

However, Miss Davidson, born in Brazil, claims she doesn't like being pierced, and suffers for her art.

She said: "I don't enjoy getting pierced, but to break the record you have to get to a high level. I wanted to break the record.

"My family don't even like tattoos or piercings. But I am happy. I decided to change myself and be me."

Miss Davidson, a nurse who now lives in Edinburgh, was speaking in Darlington, Durham, as she opened a new piercing studio.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Geronimo’s Heirs Sue Secret Yale Society for Return of Skull

Posted Feb 20, 2009, 08:35 am CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss

The descendants of Geronimo have sued the secret Yale society known as Skull and Bones for the return of a skull believed to have been stolen from the grave of the Apache warrior.

Rumors have long held that Prescott S. Bush, the grandfather of President George W. Bush, raided the grave with some classmates and took the skull, which is now kept in a glass case in the society's clubhouse, the New York Times reports.

Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who represents the family members, told the Times he doesn’t have hard proof that the rumor is true, but he would like a court to get to the bottom of the matter. A Washington Post story on the suit describes the 81-year-old Clark as “long a lawyer for the sort of esoteric causes that generate news conferences, however sparsely attended.”

Geronimo's great-grandson, Harlyn Geronimo, said at the news conference that the warrior’s spirit would continue to wander until the remains are properly buried. The Post story says he “projected a sort of authenticity by wearing a Vietnam Veterans ball cap, Apache medicine beads, Ray-Ban tinted glasses, a bullfighter's belt buckle and black boots.”

How Appealing also noted stories on the suit in the Yale Daily News and the Hartford Courant, and linked to the complaint (PDF).

The Yale Daily News tried to locate representatives of the secret society for comment, but was unsuccessful. “Repeated knocks on the front door of the society’s tomb were not answered Tuesday evening,” the newspaper reports.

Late punk rock star graduated from high school in Stow in 1964

by Mike Lesko

Associate Editor

Stow -- When Erick Lee "Rick" Purkhiser attended Stow High School, he was a low-key fellow. After graduating in 1964, all that changed.

Purkhiser switched his name to Lux Interior and became the lead singer for a well-known punk rock group called the Cramps.

He died Feb. 4, 2009, at a Glendale, Calif., hospital due to a pre-existing heart condition, according to Aleix Martinez, the band's publicist. He was 62.

Laurie (Graham) Tiffany, a 1965 Stow High School graduate, knew him.

"I do remember Rick," Tiffany, treasurer of the school's alumni association, wrote in an e-mail. "In fact, I dated him a few times. From what I can remember -- after all, he graduated 45 years ago! -- Rick was kind of quiet."

He was born in Stow on Oct. 21, 1946.

Tiffany said according to the 1964 high school yearbook, he did not participate in any school activities.

However, Purkhiser enjoyed watching the Bulldogs football team with his pal, Chuck Psajdl.

"Erick was probably my best friend in Stow High School," Psajdl wrote in an e-mail. "He loved our football team and [we would] go every Friday."

Psajdl said he and Purkhiser were roommates in Akron while Purkhiser attended Kent State University to study art and Psajdl went to the University of Akron.

Psajdl said their college days ended when Psajdl was drafted into the military in 1967 and Purkhiser dropped out of school.

"We were in correspondence while he moved to Sacramento," he said.

"The last time I saw him was when I got married," Psajdl said. "He and his girlfriend showed up to the wedding in 'Goth.'"

After that, the two men fell out of touch.

"I'm sorry about his death," Psajdl added.

Purkhiser met his future wife, Kristy Wallace, who would later take the stage name Poison Ivy, in Sacramento in 1972, reportedly while she was hitchhiking.

The pair, who shared a love of obscure and odd early rock 'n' roll, moved back to Akron for a few years before going to New York in 1975, according to published reports.

In 1976, he became co-founder and lead singer of the pioneering horror-punk band, the Cramps. The band was part of the now legendary downtown New York punk scene. Their lineup shifted over the years but always included Interior and his wife, who played guitar.

The group became one of the more flamboyant parts of the late '70s early punk scene centered at Manhattan clubs alongside acts like the Ramones and Patti Smith. The band's rockabilly-infused punk has been credited as an influence by bands like the White Stripes, Pearl Jam and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.

The Cramps released 14 albums over the course of their career. Their latest, 2004's "How To Make a Monster," sold 11,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Their best-selling album, 1984's "Bad Music for Bad People," has sold 95,000 copies.

Interior is survived by Wallace, his wife of 37 years, and his brother, Michael Purkhiser, of Akron.

A statement from the Cramps' media representatives reads: "Lux has been an inspiration and influence to millions of artists and fans around the world. He and wife Poison Ivy's contributions with the Cramps have had an immeasurable impact on modern music. He is a rare icon who will be missed dearly."

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Bricks ain't what they used to be as Lego 'develops mobile phone'

By Sean Poulter
Last updated at 12:51 AM on 14th February 2009

Leaked images of what appears to be the world's first Lego mobile phone have appeared on the internet.

The brightly coloured Alcatel phone has been styled to look like as if built of red, blue and yellow Lego bricks.

Lego is known to be keen to enter the digital age and is planning to release a range of themed gadgets including a camera, MP3 player and walkie-talkies.

Lego mobile phone

All change: The internet image appears to show a mobile phone with Lego-like snap-on parts

To date, the company has steered clear of any announcements on plans to offer a mobile phone, raising suspicions that the images of the Alcatel device may be an elaborate hoax.

Any decision to use Lego to promote mobile phones to children would be highly controversial, given concerns about the impact of the technology on developing brains. The French government has recently announced a ban on the marketing of mobile phones to children.

The camera Lego is launching with Digital Blue

Snap on: The camera Lego is launching with Digital Blue

Lego's MP3 player

Plastic player: Lego's MP3 device

But Lego is hoping to tap into the trend for hi-tech toys among children.

The company has formed a partnership with Las Vegas firm Digital Blue to manufacture a range of Lego-based electrical goods which are a world away from its traditional toy bricks.

The fully functioning range of gadgets also includes alarm clocks and a so-called 'boom box' - an all-in-one CD and radio player.

The new products are aimed for children aged between seven and 11. The full range is set to hit British stores this summer and items will cost between £14 and £40. Exact specifications have yet to be released.

Digital Blue boss Tim Hall said: 'The line features fully functional digital cameras, MP3 players, walkie-talkies and USB drives that appear to be built from classic Lego bricks.

'We're extremely proud to team up with Lego, a highly regarded brand among generations of parents and kids throughout the world.'

It is part of a wider drive to update the image and appeal of Lego, which was founded in Denmark in 1932 and has been seen in some quarters as old-fashioned.

There was something of a row two years ago when Lego chiefs decided to allow its characters, such as Star Wars Stormtroopers and Batman villains, to carry replica guns for the first time.

The change was at odds with the original ethos of the product, but came about as part of a commercial decision to tie the Lego name to the latest blockbuster films.

Lego's Star Wars toys

Lego provoked controversy when it launched Star Wars toys complete with weapons

Lego advert from 1960

The old way: A Lego advert from 1960 shows children making plastic people and houses

Jill Wilfert, vice-president of licensing for Lego Group, claimed the new initiative to embrace gadgets would inspire young children.

'Our entrance into the youth electronics space will enable our fans to express themselves through photos, videos and music, while displaying their enthusiasm for one of the world's all-time favourite toys,' she said.

'It will help bring the Lego brand to life in an all-new way for its fans.'

The idea of putting digital still and video cameras into the hands of children was a big success last Christmas. The VTech Kidizoom Multimedia Digital Camera was among the bestsellers, despite a £50 price tag.

Lego, a family-owned firm based in Billund, Denmark, is world-renowned for its miniature brick-built designs which include cars, boats, planes and spaceships.

Derived from the Danish words 'leg' (play) and 'godt' (well), the company's play-well concept has turned it into one of the world's most famous brands.

Today, the firm estimates that children around the globe spend close to five billion hours a year playing with their products.

'Boys Over Flowers' Continues to Bloom in Korea

The Korean cast of the hit drama ``Boys Over Flowers.'' From left, Kim Jun, Kim Bum, Lee Min-ho, Ku Hye-sun and Kim Hyun-joong.
/ Courtesy of Group Eight

By Han Sang-hee
Staff Reporter

``Boys Over Flowers,'' a perfect fairy tale of a television drama, is taking local viewers by storm. Based on the comic series of the same name by Yoko Kamio, it has been made into a live TV series in Japan, Taiwan, and now, Korea. What is it about the local version that has the nation swooning? Four pretty boys dubbed F4, a plain girl, fabulous clothes, houses, cars and a love story may fit for an answer.

``Boys Over Flowers'' saw its big screen debut in 1995 and a 51-episode animation series the following year in Japan. In 1997, Japan came out with a full-length animated version for the big screen.

The plot then saw its first television debut in Taiwan in 2001 under the title ``Meteor Garden.'' The Taiwanese F4 members became a big hit locally and abroad, even creating a band of the same name.

``Boys Over Flowers'' finally returned to its original fan base in Japan and was made into a drama starring top stars Jun Matsumoto and Shun Oguri in 2005 and a movie with the same cast last year.

The Korean version, which airs Monday and Tuesday at 10 p.m., is believed to have brought the cast from the comic book right to the small screen, from hairstyles to school uniforms.

It stars Lee Min-ho as Goo Jun-pyo ― originally Tsukasa Domyoji ― and fellow actors Kim Hyun-joong, Kim Bum, Kim Jun and heroine Ku Hye-sun.

As every version is based on the same plot, the storyline is similar: a girl-next-door gets herself tangled up in a relationship with a rich and stubborn boy, and her life takes a turn as she gets involved with him and his friends, or F4.

There are nuanced difference, however, in appearances, small details in the story and budget.

The Korean F4s have the comic-book, pretty-boy good looks and were chosen by drama producers through auditions.

``I had to change a few details in the storyline because of the cultural differences between Japan and Korea, but I tried to bring as much originality as possible. One important feature was the characters. We tried to cast actors that looked almost exactly like the characters in the comic book,'' Jun Ki-sang, the producer of the drama, said during a press conference last December.

Lee, who had to show off curly hair as the main character, went through four perms to get the right look, while Kim Hyun-joong was chosen not only because of his overall image, but also his height, which matched original character Rui's.

Their similarity impressed even cartoonist Kamio, according to drama production company Group Eight. Kamio visited the Korean drama's cast before the first airing and showed his support, signing autographs and even drawing a sketch of the characters for the cast.

In terms of budget, the Japanese and Korean versions top the Taiwanese one, with airplanes, helicopters, a trip to New Caledonia and the luxurious wardrobes.

For fans who have enjoyed the cartoon, watching the new drama is more fun, as they aree able to compare it with the other versions.

``To be honest, the storyline is cheesy, perhaps mainly because it's based on a comic book, but it's still fun to watch. Other shows have heavier storylines with complicated relationships and business and marriage problems, and I think this is why women are attracted to the simple and pretty drama,'' Kim So-yeon, 20, told The Korea Times.

Some critical fans, however, appreciate the drama but still hope it takes things to the next level.

``The Japanese (drama) was more like the comic book and I can see that the Korean version has tried to be also. I enjoy watching it, but I still think that Ku is not fit for the role. The (heroine) is not supposed to be pretty, but Ku is very pretty! And the computer graphics need to be toned down for a more realistic approach. As for the Taiwanese drama, I think it was a bit difficult to relate to because of the cultural differences,'' Lee Hee-young, 24 and another fan, said.

With news that the Korean ``Flowers'' will start airing in Japan this coming July and a new Chinese version is starting production, expectations are high that the F4 boom will continue here and abroad.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Preventing penile fractures and Peyronie's disease

Penile fractures, in which penis tissue ruptures, occur more often than you might think. Other injuries from wear and tear are even more common and can lead to Peyronie's disease, which leaves the pen
By Regina Nuzzo

February 9, 2009

From a purely biomechanical point of view, the design of the human penis has its pros and cons. Thanks to clever hydraulics and some very stretchy material, the organ is capable of eyebrow-raising changes in size and shape.

But indestructible it is not.

"It's too bad men aren't issued an owner's manual for their penis. They don't realize it's possible to injure it during sex," says Dr. Drogo Montague, director of the center for genitourinary reconstruction at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

Fans of ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" got a peek at this possibility when the character of Dr. Mark Sloan "fractured" his penis during sex in a recent episode. Within hours, "penile fracture" and "broken penis" topped Google's most popular search terms.

Fractures -- in which penis tissue ruptures like a burst tire -- occur more often than one might think. "We usually see a fractured penis every month at our hospitals," says Dr. Tom Lue, professor of urology at UC San Francisco. Even more common, though, are mild, painless injuries to the penis during sex. Such wear and tear can lead to an increasingly prevalent condition known as Peyronie's disease, which leaves the penis with a dramatic bend.

Both conditions are as old as sex itself and documented as far back as the 10th century. But during the last decade a new factor has emerged that may be linked to more complaints of penile trauma: erectile dysfunction medications such as Viagra, Cialis and Levitra.

Experts say these drugs help protect some men from injuries during sex -- but put others at greater risk.


When a man becomes aroused, rapidly pumping blood gets trapped in his penis. Two spongy tubes that run through the shaft swell and strain against the surrounding stretchy sheath -- known as the tunica albuginea, or "white tunic."

As the penis thickens and lengthens, its elastic tunic expands and thins. But if the tunic stretches beyond a certain point -- as the shaft suddenly flexes too far, for instance -- the layers can rip, releasing a small surge of blood. "There will be a sudden blowout," Montague says. "It's usually at the base of the penis, and it's very dramatic."

Doctors call this a fracture (despite the lack of bones in the penis). It is usually accompanied by a popping sound, then swelling and discoloration of the penis to a deep purple hue. Usually, the erection fades and pain sets in (though some couples reportedly try to continue with sex). Men may later find it impossible to urinate.

Young men are most at risk, in part because of the firmness of their erections and athleticism of their activities. Certain sexual positions are more perilous than others. "When a woman is on top, that's a dangerous situation," Lue says. If she bends too far forward or backward, she can create excessive torque on the penis.

Also risky is rear-entry vaginal intercourse because, again, the penis is more likely to bend too far at its base. According to a report published in December in the British Journal of Urology International, this sexual position accounted for half of the penile fractures treated at Brookdale University Hospital in New York between 2003 and 2007.

Careless insertion of the penis can spark a mishap in any position. Men, or their partners, should manually guide the shaft during entry to avoid colliding with a partner's nearby pubic bone, Montague says.

Occasionally, Viagra or related medications are associated with penile fractures. A 2002 case study from India, for instance, described a three-week period in which six men arrived at an emergency room with fractured penises -- all resulting from recreational use of sildenafil, the drug sold as Viagra, to achieve, the authors wrote, "prolonged sexual enjoyment, out of curiosity."

Medical reports have also discussed cases resulting from men attempting to fold an erect penis into tight underwear, or rolling onto their stomachs while asleep with nocturnal erections. And then there are odd habits.

In some Middle East regions, men engage in a practice known as taqaandan ("to click" in Kurdish), explains Dr. Javaad Zargooshi, urology professor at Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences in Iran. It's a painless process, similar to knuckle-cracking, in which the top half of an erect penis is bent forcefully while the rest of the shaft is held stationary.

Usually this produces only a loss of erection and a satisfying popping noise, says Zargooshi, who published a report on the phenomenon in December in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. Other times, it will fracture the penis. Taqaandan is a public health concern in western Iran, where penile fractures are unusually common. "The practice of taqaandan is increasing, and we don't know why," Zargooshi says.

Doctors can easily repair fractures with emergency surgery, with fewer complications than the previously standard treatment of ice packs and sex-free bed rest. A 2004 study found that more than 90% of men with surgically repaired fractures resumed their sex lives without problems.

Peyronie's disease

Usually, penile trauma arrives quietly -- via small tears in just a few layers of the stretchy tunica albuginea. These don't qualify as fractures and often don't even hurt. But experts believe the unnoticed damage can build up and lead to unmistakable problems: the curved penis of Peyronie's, which affects about 1 in 10 middle-aged men. (Exact numbers are tough to know; estimates range from 1% to 24%.)

The body relies on blood flow to repair damaged tissue without leaving a scar, yet very little blood circulates in a penis -- except when it's erect, of course. As a consequence, extensive scars can build up in the organ's elastic layers over time.

Imagine inflating a hot-dog-shaped balloon while pinching one side. As the balloon expands, it bends toward the pinched side. Likewise, a penis with Peyronie's disease looks normal when flaccid but curved when erect. And the greater the scarring, the greater the curve.

Most men who encounter the disease do so in their early 50s. One possible reason is that penile tissue can weaken with passing years. Elastic layers in a middle-aged penis are more likely to give out during vigorous intercourse than in a youthful one.

Also, erections soften with age, which makes even unathletic sex more accident-prone. Just as it's easier to bend and twist a half-blown balloon than a fully inflated one, less-than-rigid penises buckle more easily during intercourse.

The topside, mid-shaft of the penis usually bears the brunt of this buckling pressure, so scars often form there -- giving most affected penises a skyward curve. In severe cases, the penis resembles a hook, curling back to touch the abdomen.

A bend causes dual problems: erection difficulties and logistical issues with intercourse. "Some people will have a rigid penis, but it's so curved that there's nothing they can do," Lue says.

Erectile dysfunction medications such as Viagra might protect some men -- and harm others. In men with mild erection problems, the drugs can bring a medium-soft erection up to full strength, "so there's less chance of injury during normal sexual activity," Montague says.

But for men with severe erectile dysfunction, the drugs might make matters worse, by providing an erection that's just about firm enough for penetration but still soft enough to buckle easily during intercourse.

Cardiovascular problems -- particularly diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol -- boost the risk of Peyronie's as much as six times, according to a 2006 study. Smoking and drinking alcohol each increase chances five-fold. These tend to soften erections and change the structure of the stretchy penile tissue.

Healing from prostate surgery can cause problems, and genetics is probably involved too.

Treatment for Peyronie's disease is still tricky. Dr. Francois de la Peyronie -- who wrote about the condition in 1743 -- suggested that men apply mineral water and mercury to their organs. Electricity, arsenic, cow's milk and a deep heating of the rectal muscles have also been recommended in past times.

Medicines used today directly target the scars on the elastic sheath of the penis. But most have not been tested in large, convincing clinical trials. Two drugs -- interferon and verapamil, both of which help stop new scar tissue from forming -- have shown promise in smaller trials.

Currently underway by Auxilium Pharmaceuticals is a large clinical trial for collagenase, an enzyme that might break down scar tissue in the penis. Also planned is a smaller study by Allergan to investigate the use of botulinum toxin -- Botox -- which might relax penis muscles and reduce scarring.

About 10% of the time, untreated penises with Peyronie's disease will straighten on their own. If not, doctors may recommend surgery after a year or so. Options for reducing the curve include implanting a prosthesis (which adds firmness but requires set-up before sex); permanently pinching a bit of elastic tissue opposite the scar (which also shortens the penis); or replacing scar tissue with a tissue graft (which can sometimes cause other problems, such as numbness or complete loss of erections).

The best approach to Peyronie's disease involves preventing penile trauma in the first place, urologists say.

A bit of biomechanical common sense helps: Stay well-lubricated during sex to reduce friction. Be aware of pubic bones and other hazards, especially during entry and reentry. Keep thrusting motions along the length of the shaft. And avoid maneuvers that bend, twist or buckle the penis.

In short, be careful. It's not a toy.


Read more The Mating Game columns at latimes.com/matinggame.

Teens could be charged for taking things a little too far

Published Date: 10 February 2009
KENNY MacAskill has indicated that more forms of sexual activity between children may be banned, following pressure from religious groups.
The justice secretary has told MSPs that he will reconsider plans to criminalise only sexual intercourse between children aged 13 to 15. The move means oral sex between youngsters might now become a crime.

But last night Mr MacAskill was warned that bowing to pressure from the Christian Institute, which lobbied the justice committee on the issue, and banning oral sex would take him deeper into a moral "minefield".

Tina Woolnough, chairwoman of the group Parents in Partnership, said: "Unless (the government's] interests are protecting children from abuse, they have no business going into this area. Where do you draw the line between what is legal and what is illegal?"

Only boys who have sex are currently held to be committing an offence, while there is no specific law against consensual oral sex, although it could be regarded as an "indecent behaviour" offence.

Under the SNP's plans, oral sex will not be included in a new offence relating to children aged between 13 and 15. In its report on the Sexual Offence Bill, the justice committee said it was "concerned that this could send an inappropriate message to young people that society considers such activities to be acceptable and risk-free".

In its submission to the committee, the Christian Institute warns that the bill means "a 15-year-old boy could engage in oral sex with a 13-year-old boy or girl with impunity", and also raises concerns about the spread of sexually transmitted disease.

The Sexual Offences Bill will tomorrow be the subject of a Stage One debate by MSPs.

In his letter to Bill Aitken, convener of the justice committee, Mr MacAskill said the government was limiting the offence to sexual intercourse "as this carries the greatest risk of adverse consequences, including sexually transmitted infection and unintended pregnancy".

He added: "However, we note the committee's recommendation (to include oral sex within the new offence], and the concerns of a number of those who gave evidence on the bill. We will therefore consider this issue before bringing forward amendments at Stage 2."

Mike Judge, of the Christian Institute, said he was pleased with the move. "Kids are kids – and sex is for adults," he said. "Also, (oral sex] can act as a gateway to penetrative sex." He also highlighted health issues such as transmission of infections.

Norman Wells, a spokesman for the Family Education Trust,said: "To give the impression that any form of intimate sexual activity below the age of consent is acceptable is a recipe for disaster."

Adam Stevens, of the Family Planning Association, said criminalising consenting sexual activity between young people was "not appropriate". But he added that excluding oral sex from the ban "could serve to send a message to young people that as consensual oral sex is not illegal, it is risk-free, which is not necessarily the case".

'Pre-historic Viagra' found in Siberian mammoth DNA could boost your sex life and let you live longer

By Will Stewart In Moscow
Last updated at 1:27 AM on 12th February 2009

Russian scientists working at a 'graveyard' of extinct mammoths and woolly rhinos in Siberia claim to have found a bacterium which could prolong human virility and life span.

Already nicknamed 'pre-historic Viagra', experiments on mice show it increases mental alertness, physical prowess and sexual activity, with females reportedly having babies into old age.

The findings are an unexpected byproduct of detailed research into the extinct creatures whose well-preserved remains have been found in the permafrost Yakutia region of eastern Russia.

Ancient: The very old bacterium which can prolong human life span was found at a 'graveyard' of extinct mammoths in Siberia

Ancient: The very old bacterium which can prolong human life span was found at a 'graveyard' of extinct mammoths in Siberia

Scientists in Russia, America and Japan are working on DNA studies which could lead to attempts to clone both the mammoth and the woolly rhinoceros, bringing them back from the dead.

But after an expedition to 'Mammoth Mountain' - a remote graveyard of pre-historic creatures in the frozen Yakutia region of Siberia - Professor Anatoli Broushkov of Tyumen University said: 'We have found what seems to be a very old bacterium which is still living in the sandy soil of the permafrost.

'We decoded a part of the DNA, and the preliminary results confirmed there is no record of such a bacterium in the world.

'It is a truly unique event, absolutely extraordinary, as scientists never before managed to prove such phenomenally long life for a bacterium.'

The bacterium was located in the same permafrost where scientists have discovered the remains of the extinct mammoths, but they do not believe it is linked to these creatures.

Preserved: The expedition which discovered the bacterium went to the frozen Yakutia region of Siberia (file picture)

Preserved: The expedition which discovered the bacterium went to the frozen Yakutia region of Siberia (file picture)

The mammoths lived from about 4.8 million years ago to around 4,500 years ago.

Russian scientists say that the age of the bacterium is three to five million years old, but the first results of laboratory experiments are seen as sensational.

'We made a set of tests and the results prove that simple organisms like fruit flies and mice live longer after being vaccinated with the ancient bacterium extract,' said Professor Broushkov.

'We multiplied the bacterium and tested it on typical laboratory living biological systems', said scientist Vera Samsonova.

'Some elderly mice demonstrated a growth of physical, mental and sexual activity, while some females even had babies aged at the human equivalent of 70.'

Professor Broushkov said: 'We can't promise an immortality lotion, but realistically if we find out why this bacterium lives so long, it will have implications for anti-ageing cures.

'Even if we managed to prolong life for ten years, it would be fantastic.'

He said interest has been show already by Russian oligarchs keen to invest in developing possible anti-ageing drugs.

Ang Lee to speak at Asian film festival

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Korean-language films might take center stage at the 27th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, making up both the opening and closing nights, but there's also the world premiere of a local filmmaker's latest musical, an Oscar-winning director discussing his technique and a career retrospective of an internationally recognized master of horror and suspense.

The festival, the signature event of the Center for Asian American Media, opens March 12 at the Castro with Lee Yoon-ki's "My Dear Enemy," about old lovers sharing a wild night in Seoul and starring Cannes best actress award winner (for 2007's "Secret Sunshine") Jeon Do-yeon. The closing-night film, March 19 at the Sundance Kabuki, is the second film from rising indie Korean Canadian director So Yong Kim, "Treeless Mountain," about two sisters abandoned by their mother.

"Closing night" isn't exactly as advertised; the festival continues through March 22 in Berkeley and San Jose.

The centerpiece presentation March 15 at the Castro is the world premiere of H.P. Mendoza's "Fruit Fly," a musical filmed in San Francisco from the composer and co-star of "Colma: The Musical."

Three world-class directors will appear in person, including Academy Award winner Ang Lee, who will discuss his 2007 movie "Lust, Caution" on March 17 at the Wheeler Auditorium in Berkeley.

Also presenting their latest works are Deepa Mehta ("Heaven on Earth") and Kiyoshi Kurosawa (no relation to Akira), whose current "Tokyo Sonata" is just one of seven of his generally creepy movies that will show as part of a retrospective of his work.

Looking for something out of left field? That would be "Diamond Head" (March 15, Castro), a 1962 Charlton Heston epic about Hawaiian statehood and the racial tensions that went with it.

In all, the festival will screen 108 films, including seven programs of shorts.

27th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival: March 12-22, Sundance Kabuki, Castro and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco; Pacific Film Archive and Wheeler Auditorium in Berkeley; Camera 12 Cinemas, San Jose. (415) 865-1588. www.asianamericanmedia.org.

Asian American Film festival

E-mail G. Allen Johnson at ajohnson@sfchronicle.com.

This article appeared on page E - 2 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Happy 200!

Charles Darwin

Abraham Lincoln

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Digital Archivists, Now in Demand

Published: February 7, 2009

WHEN the world entered the digital age, a great majority of human historical records did not immediately make the trip.

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J. Emilio Flores for The New York Times

As preservation officer at U.C.L.A., Jacob Nadal safeguards materials (digital and analog) in its collection.

Literature, film, scientific journals, newspapers, court records, corporate documents and other material, accumulated over centuries, needed to be adapted for computer databases. Once there, it had to be arranged — along with newer, born-digital material — in a way that would let people find what they needed and keep finding it well into the future.

The people entrusted to find a place for this wealth of information are known as digital asset managers, or sometimes as digital archivists and digital preservation officers. Whatever they are called, demand for them is expanding.

One of them is Jacob Nadal, the preservation officer at the University of California, Los Angeles. He does not use the “digital” modifier because his duties include safeguarding analog materials in U.C.L.A.’s collection, not just preparing them to cross the digital divide.

“I don’t think there’s any day where I would say I’m the digital guy,” he said. But he concedes that he’s not really an analog, ink-on-paper guy, either, and that is increasingly the case in his field. These days, he noted, “if you want to work in a library, you have to deal in electronic resources.”

Mr. Nadal and 10 or so colleagues at U.C.L.A. devote much of their effort to organizing and protecting material in digital form. Their duties include licensing and buying digital content from vendors, assigning identification markers called meta-tags so that material can be found easily, researching copyright matters and ensuring that files remain intact whenever new iterations of relevant software or hardware come along.

Befitting a nascent discipline like digital asset management, Mr. Nadal, 32, said he went into it almost by accident. Unsure of his career ambitions, he began work on various book-scanning and preservation projects as a student at Indiana University, then took them over when the head of preservation left. After that, he said, it “took a year or two for me to realize my career in preservation had started a year or two past.”

He reckons that many of his peers have had similar experiences. “Among librarians, I think that happenstance may be a typical career path,” he said.

Some backgrounds are considered better than others for budding digital asset managers. Familiarity with information technology is necessary, but it is possible to have too much tech know-how, said Victoria McCargar, a preservation consultant in Los Angeles and a lecturer at U.C.L.A. and San José State University.

“People with I.T. backgrounds tend to be wrong for the job,” she said. “They tend to focus on storage solutions: ‘We’ll just throw another 10 terabytes on that server.’” A result, she said, can be “waxy buildup” — a lot of useless files that make it hard to find the good stuff.

Ms. McCargar estimates that 20,000 people work in the field today — plus others in related areas — and she expects that to triple over the next decade, assuming that economic conditions stabilize before long.

Many work for public institutions, and businesses use them, too, said Deborah Schwarz, chief executive of Library Associates Companies, a consulting and headhunting firm. Especially big employers in this area are law firms, which need experts on digital copyright and other issues tied to the migration of legal documents from filing cabinets to databases.

One comparative advantage of private-sector jobs is the pay. Digital asset managers at public facilities would do well to make $70,000 a year. Salaries for their corporate counterparts are generally higher.

“Compensation varies wildly because it’s an emerging area,” said Keith Gurtzweiler, vice president for recruiting at Library Associates. “Consultants who can make recommendations on systems can make $150 an hour.” Those who “manage them once they’re up and running and maintain the machinery,” he said, make from the $70,000’s up to $100,000.

Michael Doane is an information management consultant at Ascentium, a consultancy in suburban Seattle that employs 100 to 150 digital asset managers in a staff of 500. He said that fresh graduates with master’s degrees in information systems management or a similar discipline could “easily expect $80,000 to $90,000 in consulting and a little less in the commercial world.”

As much as it might help his bank balance, Mr. Nadal cannot envision leaving U.C.L.A. for a corporate job. He finds the challenge of taming a vast collection of information for a major academic institution too appealing.

“We belong to the people of California and hold our collections in trust for them and for future generations of students, scholars and members of the public,” he said. “Public-sector institutions just strike me as far, far cooler. They have better collections, obviously, and they are innovative, connected and challenging in ways that seem more substantial to me.”

Friday, February 06, 2009

An Appreciation: Henry Rollins remembers Lux Interior

01:03 PM PT, Feb 6 2009

Lux Interior, the frontman for horror punk outfit the Cramps, gained a loyal following over the band's decades-long career as much for his gender-bending visual aesthetic and raucous live performances as the group's groundbreaking music. Henry Rollins, vocalist for Black Flag and Rollins Band, spoken-word artist and radio host, spoke Thursday to The Times' August Brown about his memories of the punk rock icon, who died this week of a heart condition.

"I grew up in Washington, D.C., in the '70s, and when punk rock came along, I realized that my ship had come in. The Cramps would come down to D.C. and I would see them play in a space about the size of your living room. It was kind of scary being in the front row. Lux would find something to swing from -- if there were ceiling tiles, they'd all be on the floor by the end of the thing. Lux would somehow find his way out of his pants and be down to a pair of bikini briefs twitching all over the floor. He's a very large man, very tall and very pale and very sweaty. They all looked so amazing. Each one could have been a movie star.

I remember buying their first or second single from a roadie who was selling them for three bucks at the door. It's probably worth its weight in gold now. The first two Cramps 7-inches are some of the first independent singles I ever owned. Once I drove up to New York to see them in my little VW; it was me and most of the Bad Brains all crammed into my little car. It was at Irving Plaza, and H.R. from Bad Brains, he went backstage because he's a big rock star, and he came out with a slick of the album cover and the whole band had signed the back. I still have it to this day."

Photo by Lori Shepler/Los Angeles Times

Read full story here


Thursday, February 05, 2009

Punk singer Interior dies at 62

Lux Interior
The Cramps performed regularly at venues like former punk club CBGB

Lux Interior, singer with New York punk band The Cramps, has died aged 62, his publicist has confirmed.

The frontman was being treated at a hospital in California for a pre-existing heart condition.

Interior, who was born Erick Lee Purkhiser, formed the influential band in 1973 with his wife Poison Ivy.

Part of the legendary downtown New York punk scene, The Cramps went on to release 14 albums, the latest being the compilation, How To Make a Monster.

They were the first known band to blend punk with rockabilly, and are widely recognised as innovators of psychobilly music.

The Cramps went on to influence British bands like The Meteors and more recently The Horrors.

The Cramps' Lux Interior was a twisted Elvis from hell

Sunday, February 01, 2009


51 seconds of Gastunk Live

GASTUNK - Smash The Wall (Live)

The Monkees - I'm a Believer [official music video]

The Jack Saints (Live @ Kimo's in Drag! 1999)

Jayne County+Toilet Boys perform "Blitzkreig Bop" in 2001

Fake? - Taste Maximum Live Summer Sonic

oblivion dust - FALLING [PV]

THE PLUGZ play live in santa monica at glen freedmans book signing

the specials ghost town

The Donnas - "40 Boys in 40 Nights" Lookout! Records

no me dejes porfavor real de catorce


rankin roger pato bantin bubbling hot

Deftones - Change (live on letterman)

Family History - Telegraph, Research your family history and build your family tree

Build your family tree
with the Telegraph

Welcome to the new Telegraph family history site – we've updated the site to include a free family tree builder for new and existing users to help you with your family history research.

Researching your family history can feel like a daunting process but with Telegraph family history it's easy.

Build your family tree for free and search extensive census records simply and quickly to uncover your fascinating heritage.

Click HERE!

6 Korean Films to Screen at Berlin Festival

The film "Antique" by Min Kyu-dong has been invited to this year's 59th Berlin International Film Festival.

Based on a bestselling manga of the same title, the film will be shown out of competition in a themed section named Culinary Cinema.

"My Dear Enemy" by Lee Yoon-ki, "Land of Scarecrows" by Roh Gyeong-tae, "Members of the Funeral" by Baek Seung-bin, "The Day After" by Lee Suk-gyung and "Treeless Mountain" by Kim So-yong have been invited to the festival’s Forum section.

"Antique," stars Ju Ji-hun, Kim Jae-wook, Andy Gillet, Yu Ain, and Choi Ji-ho.

(englishnews@chosun.com )

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