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REPUBLICAN DAY MESSAGES of Dr. Rajendra Prasad – the 1st president of India

“We must re-dedicate ourselves on this day to the peaceful but sure realization of the dream that had inspired the Father of our Nation and the other captains and soldiers of our freedom struggle, the dream of establishing a classless, co-operative, free and happy society in “his country,”
“We must remember that this is more a day of dedications than of rejoicing – dedication to the glorious task of making the peasants and workers the toilers and the thinkers fully free, happy and cultured,” he added.

Dr. Rajendra Prasad - the 1st president of India

Indian Republic Day, January 26th Indian Republic Day, January 26th

Even before the Independence of India from the British rule on August 15, 1947, January 26th was celebrating in a different context. “It was the Lahore Session of the Indian National Congress at midnight of December 31, 1929 – January 1, 1930, that the Tri-Colour Flag was unfurled by the nationalists and a pledge taken that every year on January 26, the “Independence Day” would be celebrated and that the people would unceasingly strive for the establishment of a Sovereign Democratic Republic of India”.

Tri-Colour Flag

India became a Republic and the constitution came into force on January 26, 1950. The Constituent Assembly was convened and appointed a committee with Dr. B. R. Ambedkar as Chairman to draft the Constitution. India declared herself to be a Sovereign Democratic Republic. The Indian Constitution, the longest in the world, consist 397 articles and 12 schedules, which provides for a single citizenship for the whole of India.


January 27, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wanna steal that — Money Money Everywhere

1. World’s Largest Gold Bar

The Mitsubishi Materials Corporation of Japan poured the World’s largest Gold bar. The bar is 17.9 inches by 8.9 inches and 6.7 inches high. All though it takes up the same amount of space as a large shoe box, you would not be able to lift it as It weighs 551.15 pounds. At the time it was poured it was worth $3.7 million.


2. $10,000 Dollar Bill

Yes it is real. The Federal Reserve used it to transfer money to and from banks and was never issued to the public. They also produced a $500, $1,000, $5,000 and even a $100,000 dollar note, see below. They were last printed in 1945 and have since been discontinued.


3. $100,000 Dollar Note
This is the 1934 $100,000 dollar note. It featured Woodrow Wilson.FunOnTheNet
4. What 50 Million Pennies Look Like
50 Million pennies were added to this “Memorial to the Missing”. It is suppose to represent the number of abortions since legalization in 1973. This enclosure weighs 156 tons and is worth a half million dollars. Pylons were driven into the foundation to support the bullet proof glass structure above.FunOnTheNet
5. Security Glass Advertisement
Most people have seen this picture floating around on the internet. Very simple and catchy advertisement. The money was real, but there was a security guard posted to make sure no one tried anything funny, like running over the sign with a SUV.
6. Dress Made With $100,000 Dollars

The dress was made to help promote a new gigantic lottery fund in the UK. The dress is made from Sterling Pound notes.


7. Portraits Made of Pennies

The artist behind these portraits and other artwork like this is Adrian Firth. The two pieces are called, Lizzie – pennies on mdf board 2008 and Made of Money – pennies on mdf board 2007.


8. Vault Of Gold

Fort Knox is where the mother lode of Gold is. This is a picture of one of many vaults filled with Gold.


9. What $1 Million Pennies Look Like
2.3 Tons of pennies sit in this glass box. It is part of a Holocaust memorial.FunOnTheNet
10. Pyramid Of Pennies
Another favorite that has been circulating the web. This pyramid contains 289,318 pennies to beat an old World Record. The owner has been adding to the pyramid and the website says it now has 403,135 pennies.FunOnTheNet
11. Largest Bank Vault Door In the World

The vault is located at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. The door has a height of 226 inches and weighs 42 metric tons. It also carries the distinction of having the largest hinge ever built. The vault is not longer in use, but the door remains for historical value.


12. 100 Million Pennies

It’s called the “Penny Harvest Field”. $1 million dollars worth of pennies were gathered for charity. The exhibit is 30 ft by 165 ft.


13. Drug Money
Another internet favorite. $207 million is said to have been taken during a raid on a drug dealer’s house in Mexico.FunOnTheNet
14. A Wall Of Gold

This Gold is part of the New York Federal Reserve Bank. The vault sits on the bedrock of New York 80 feet below the street surface and 50 feet below the sea level. You won’t be digging to get to this one. At the time of the photo, the vault had $86 billion in gold, 269 Troy tons.


15. Origami Money

Artist Marc Sky of New Jersey has hundreds of Origami Sculptures made of money. You can order his works online or book him for parties.


16. Largest Gold Nugget Ever Found

This is the world’s largest Gold Nugget ever found. Discovered in 1872 and is called the Holtermann Nugget. It was 630lbs in weight.


17. World’s Largest Gold Coin

The gold coin contains $2 million worth of gold and weighs in at 220 pounds. It is 20 inches across and 1 inch thick. There are 3 coins like it and they went up on auction last year.


18. Don’t Flush the Money Down the Toilet
Yes, this money seat can be yours for only $60. There are many novelty money seats for sale.FunOnTheNet
19. First Cash Register

James Ritty an owner of a Saloon in Ohio, invented the first cash register in 1879 to stop his employees from stealing money. Later he sold his cash register company and the new owner added a roll of paper to it and started the first line of registers with receipts.


20. Walls of Money
Over $500,000 has been added to the walls and ceilings of this Irish pub. Would hate to see a fire take out this pub. It started with the first waitress who stapled her first tip to the wall. It has grown since then.FunOnTheNet
21. Stack of Silver Certificates
Not too much info here. A woman posed with stack of packages of $1 silver certificates at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Washington, D.C. [between ca. 1950 and ca. 1969]FunOnTheNet
22. Another Vault of Gold
This gold vault hold gold entrust for the owners of the streetTRACKS Gold Shares EFT (AMEX:GLD), the world’s most popular gold fund.FunOnTheNet
23. Money Tree

This is a random picture of a money tree. They can be found throughout the world. If you are lucky enough to come across one, grab a seed.


January 27, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Obamanomics and India

Column : Obamanomics and India

news by

Wed, Jan 21 02:46 AM

Obama’s inauguration as US president will be a remarkable event in world history. The euphoria will be spread all over the world, including India. But we need to consider what impact his policies are likely to have on the recent turnaround in bilateral trade between the two great democracies. The picture appears far from bright. What should be India’s response?

The US economy is in deep economic chaos with recession likely to last at least till end 2009. Unemployment is rising, wages are falling, and income inequality is increasing. Most Americans are already disillusioned with free trade. In a reputed global survey, only 53 per cent felt that trade is good for the US, down from 78 per cent in 2002. Economists like Paul Krugman, Larry Summers and Alan Blinder feel that trade is hurting the middle class with stagnant wages and widening inequality. They are upholding the view that mobility of labour, capital and trade with poorer countries are making US workers suffer. Protectionism is emerging as a panacea.

Obama’s views and that of bulk of the Democrats are in line with the current mood of sacrificing free trade for fair trade. In their discussions with India, they will probably put up a strong case for labour and environmental standards and strict adherence to intellectual property rights. They may urge India to reduce trade transaction costs and allow greater market access by reducing tariffs. There may be a natural inclination to reduce work visas and offshoring to India, and providing direct and portfolio investment to India. Any discussion on a free trade agreement may include thorny labour and environmental standards, making trade agreements next to impossible. The Doha round is unlikely to be revived.

What are India’s options? India must make every effort to continue to forge a strong economic partnership with USA. It has little alternative market access. East Asian economies are already adversely affected by the recent global financial turmoil with their trade share massively dipping. Europe is under a severe recession and in no mood to encourage imports or foreign investment. To maintain its high growth momentum, India has to intensify its dialogue with the US at all levels and ensure that a strong bilateral trade relationship is sustained, and even strengthened. Bilateral official talks, private sector interactions have to be intensified, and US think tanks have to be made aware of the importance of trade with India. Both sides must be prepared to make the key policy changes that are asked for in these discussions.

Perhaps there is a silver lining to this apparently gloomy scenario. Indian government should seize the opportunity by undertaking much needed reforms in trade facilitation, tariffs and further opening up of critical sectors to FDI. These actions will not only buttress our relationship with the US, but will stand in good stead to promote trade with other strategic partners.

Transaction costs are extremely high in India. Trade procedures still involve countless signatures from a large number of agencies, and cargo dwell times are in weeks as against hours in successful trading countries. Recommendations of a 2004 trade faciliation report I wrote for the ministry of finance is yet to be fully implemented. It is high time we take the required actions to drastically lower the transaction costs.

Indian tariffs are one of the highest in the world. The rupee has depreciated by about 25 per cent since January, making imports prohibitive. In line with our goal of bringing tariffs to ASEAN levels, the government should reduce non-agriculture tariffs to encourage imports and promote exports. The revenue loss will be compensated by higher volume of imports and through implementing the GST ahead of schedule.

This is also an excellent time to raise FDI limits in several sectors and open up the education and retail sectors. India should approach the US with these reforms in hand and ask it to reciprocate by allowing temporary relocation of labour, encouraging offshoring, promoting greater access in goods, services and investment by removing existing non-tariff barriers, and help secure preferntial sourcing arrangements with US companies for large infrastructure projects. This will cement India as a strategic partner of the US, a thing for which both sides worked hard in the past decade.

—The author is principal adviser, CII. These are his personal views

January 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wild Oats XI


Last December the maxi yacht “Wild Oats XI” won the 2008 Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, sailing 630 nautical miles (1,170 km) in one day, 20 hours and 34 minutes. The Volvo Ocean Race, a 10-leg round-the-world race started in October and will continue until June. The Tall Ships Atlantic Challenge 2009 will start in April, and training sessions are now underway. Sailing as a modern and historic undertaking is alive and well around the world, here are a few photos of sailing events from the past year.

A figure from Antony Gormley’s “Another Place” welcomes one of the Tall Ships to Merseyside as it sails past the Burbo Bank windfarm on the approach to the Port of Liverpool on July 18, 2008, Liverpool, England.

A crew member of the Puma racing team pulls in a sail during the Volvo Ocean in-port race in Alicante, Spain, Saturday Oct. 4, 2008. The 2008-09 Volvo Ocean Race, Covering 10 legs and 36,995 nautical miles, started Oct. 11 in Alicante and is scheduled to end in St. Petersburg, Russia, on June 27, 2009.

The 100-strong fleet sail past the historic three-masted clipper “James Craig” after the start of the annual 628 nautical mile Sydney Hobart Yacht Race on December 26, 2008.

Richard Branson’s boat “Virgin Money” sails in the ocean after departing New York, in an attempt to break the transatlantic mono-hull sailing record, October 22, 2008. About 30 hours into the voyage, the crew started having problems and ripped the boat’s main sail. Not long after that, the voyage was aborted.

The tall ships Lady Washington, right, and Hawaiian Chieftain, left, sail on San Francisco Bay, Monday, Oct. 20, 2008. The tall ships arrived from Grays Harbor, Wash., and were on an educational visit to the Bay area.

The Ericsson Racing Team – Ericsson 4 sails during the start of the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race from Alicante to Cape Town on October 11, 2008 in Alicante, Spain. The fleet of eight teams participating in the Volvo Ocean Race will race arround the world over ten legs to finish in St Petersburg in late June, 2009.

Australian supermaxi “Wild Oats XI”, skippered by Mark Richards, is seen sailing past Tasman Island at sunrise as it approached the finish line of the 64th annual 628-nautical mile Sydney Hobart Yacht Race on December 28, 2008. “Wild Oats XI” won Australia’s premier blue water classic for a record fourth consecutive year in an elapsed time of one day, 20 hours, 34 minutes and 14 seconds.

A red-sailed ship is seen sailing toward Salisbury Beach, Massachusetts on July 9th, 2008

Ben Ainslie with the JP Morgan Extreme 40 sailing team sail the Extreme 40 catamaran on the River Thames to celebrate Ben Ainslie’s triple Olympic gold medal success on September 5, 2008 in London, England.

Tall ships take part in the so-called Windjammerparade tall ship parade at the Kieler Woche sailing event on June 28, 2008 at the port of Kiel, northern Germany. Organisers of the Kieler Woche (Kiel Week), one of the biggest sailing events in the world, expected more than three million visitors from 70 countries.

Classic yachts sail in the bay of Cannes, southeastern France, during the 30th Régates Royales of Cannes, Thursday, Sept. 25, 2008. The Régates Royales was the focal point of the season with more than 150 crews sailing on 10 to 50 meter long classic yachts.

The Maltese Falcon, a clipper sailing luxury yacht owned by U.S. venture capitalist Tom Perkins, sails into San Francisco Bay September 27, 2008. At 289.1 feet (88 metres), the vessel is one of the largest privately owned sailing yachts in the world.

Yachts bustle for a good line at the start of the Big Boat Challenge in Sydney, Australia, Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2008. The Big Boat Challenge was a warm up race and a chance for the Maxi Yachts to test their boats ahead of the Sydney To Hobart Yacht Race.

A Tall Ship comes into Merseyside, sailing past the Burbo Bank windfarm on the approach to the Port of Liverpool on July 18, 2008, Liverpool, England.

A ship sailes under the Flaubert bridge on the Seine river upon its arrival at Rouen’s harbour, western France, during the Sail 2008 armada event, on July 3rd, 2008.

A replica of “Argo”, the mythical ship that bore Jason and the Argonauts on their heroic quest for the Golden Fleece, sails in the Corinth canal in Korinthos, some 80 kms west of Athens on July 2, 2008.

United States Coast Guard cadets stand at parade rest atop the mast of the U.S. Coast Guard training vessel “Barque Eagle”, on July 1, 2008 as the boat rounds West Point off Magnolia and nears Seattle. The boat was taken as a war prize from Germany after World War II and is the only sailing vessel in the U.S. maritime services.

People walk along the embankment of the Neva River with the Russian tall ship Mir illuminated in the background, in St. Petersburg, Russia, early Saturday, June 21, 2008.

Supermaxi “Skandia” all but disappears in a trough as she heads for open water after the start of the annual 628 nautical mile Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in Australia on December 26, 2008.

The Romanian tall-ship Mircea sails into Brest harbour in Brittany, western France, July 10, 2008 to take part in the Brest 2008 international maritime festival.

Billy Gernertt, gunner’s mate for the tall ship Lynx, yells, “Live Free or Die!” before firing a dummy charge from its cannon toward the Hawaiian Chieftain during a mock battle on Commencement Bay in Washington State on Friday July 4, 2008.

Tall ships take part in the so-called Windjammerparade tall ship parade at the Kieler Woche sailing event on June 28, 2008 at the port of Kiel, northern Germany.

The fleet sails out of Sydney Harbor after the start of the 2008 Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht race in Sydney, Australia, Friday, Dec. 26, 2008.

Volvo Ocean Race yacht Puma arrives off Cape Town, South Africa in second place during the first stage of the 2008-2009 Volvo Ocean Race November 2, 2008.

The viking longship Sea Stallion of Glendalough sails through the Limfjorden in Northern Jutland on August 3, 2008 after its journey across the North Sea. The ship, a reconstruction of a 30 metre long warship built in Dublin in the viking age, was on its way back to the Viking Museum in the town of Roskilde where it built as a reconstruction of the Skuldelev 2, which was excavated in Roskilde Fjord fifty years ago. Research has established that the ship was originally built in Dublin by vikings in 1042.

The Puma Team sails alongside the Ericsson Racing Team – Ericsson 4 during the start of the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race from Alicante to Cape Town on October 11, 2008 in Alicante, Spain.

Spectators up the mast on the Tasmanian tall ship James Craig watch the fleet sail out of Sydney Harbour after the start of the 2008 Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht race in Sydney, Australia, Friday, Dec. 26, 2008.

Limit sails past Tasman Island towards the finish line in Hobart during the Sydney to Hobart yacht race in Australia Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008.

The ARM Cuauhtemoc, a training vessel of the Mexican Navy, named after the last Aztec emperor, sails on the River Mersey as part of the Tall Ships race in Liverpool, England, Monday July 21, 2008.

Volvo Ocean Race yacht Puma arrives off Cape Town in second place during the first stage of the 2008-2009 Volvo Ocean Race November 2, 2008.


January 19, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New York Plane Crash (A Miracle)

New York plane crash

A US airliner on a domestic flight with 155 people aboard has ditched into the Hudson River in New York City but with no loss of life.

All 150 passengers, three flight attendants and two pilots were rescued in freezing weather, with a number later treated for unspecified injuries.

The US Airways Airbus A320 crashed just after taking off from LaGuardia Airport heading for Charlotte, North Carolina.

Officials believe the plane may have collided with a flock of geese.

Rescue boats plucked passengers, who could be seen wearing life jackets, from the wings of the plane.

The BBC’s Greg Wood, in New York, says the aircraft was drifting rapidly down the Hudson as the rescue was carried out.

Our correspondent says there is a mood of overwhelming relief in New York that there was no loss of life.

US Airways gave an emergency number for people who believe they may have had relatives on the flight: 1-800-679-8215.

Gotta give it to the pilot, man, he made a hell of a landing

Jeff Kolodjay
a passenger

Passengers stand on the wing of the ditched airliner

Incredibly, all 155 passengers and crew emerged safely after a passenger jet ditched into the Hudson River off New York.

In this photo taken by a passenger on a ferry, airline passengers exit the ditched aircraft

In this picture taken by a passenger, people huddle on the wing of the aircraft awaiting rescue in icy temperatures

Rescue take a passenger to an ambulance

Shaken passengers reported hearing a loud bang and the smell of smoke and fire just after take-off.

The A320 plane in the Hudson River

The plane’s engines may have been disabled by bird strikes, officials said. The Department of Homeland Security told the BBC there was no indication the incident was security-related.

Plane in Hudson River

Investigators are trying to determine the cause of the crash.

Plane in Hudson River

Its pilot has been praised for his skill in making the crash-landing, which some described as near-miraculous.


Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger III  (The heroic pilot)

January 17, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Top 10 high tech crazy beds

Top 10 high tech luxury beds
Multimedia beds have succeeded in turning more than a few heads in the past. No doubt, these high-tech luxury beds will ask you for some huge bucks in exchange for a blissful sleep, but can you really put a price tag on a good night’s sleep? Multimedia beds have evolved into one of the most important pieces of furniture in any home and are here to stay as people are getting increasingly personal and fussy about their choices. Here, I have compiled a list of Top 10 high-tech luxury beds for geeks, like me, who think that living through the day with all the assistance from the gadgets is not just enough. Check out the fabulous beds after the jump.
1. Magnetic floating bed
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The magnetically levitating bed by Dutch architect Janjaap Ruijssenaars is an upshot of six long years research work. The bed faces gravitation with magnets and it can support up to 900 kilos and is supported by four steel cables. The scale model of the bed was presented at the Millionaire Fair in June 2006 and the floating bed is estimated to be priced around 115,000 Euros for the scale model and for complete model expect to lay down around 1.2 million Euros.
2. Starry Night Sleep Technology Bed
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The Starry Night Sleep Technology Bed from Leggett Platt is a spellbinding combination of technology and bedding that makes use of diagnostic tools to moderate temperature, monitor body movements and alleviate snoring. At $50,000, it’s not just another run-of-the-mill luxury bed. It touts anti-snore technology to reduce snoring in mild to moderate cases by elevating your upper body a few degrees. Its dual programmable temperature control from 68 to 117 degrees Fahrenheit adjusts the temperature to your liking. The Sleep Diagnostic Center monitors body movement and breathing pattern throughout the night. If you are the one who can’t live without music, the bed comes with an iPod docking station and 2500-watt surround sound system with four 8-inch subwoofers. Other salient specs include Internet connectivity, wireless RF remote that connects to a 1.5TB media server with four gigs of RAM, and a 1080p projector.
3. Hollandia Platinum-Luxe Elite sleep system
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I bet you would never want to get out of the Hollandia Platinum-Luxe Elite sleep system. It boasts loads of other luxury options besides a retractable 32-inch Sony Bravia HDTV integrated into the bed’s footboard. The TV sits 80 inches from the headboard, slightly exceeding the normal 1:3 ratio of screen size to viewer distance, and the brightness dynamically adjusts to the ambient light, to reduce eye strain. The Elite is also equipped with a Sony Bravia theater system that includes a five DVD/CD changer, a five speaker surround sound system, a subwoofer beneath the bed for a complete hi-end experience, and an iPod docking station. Last but not the least; the bed gently adjusts to a comfortable reclining position. And, the the most useful feature is the integrated massage system that features four powerful motors with a micro-computer that provides 12 individual massage programs, and a 30-minute automatic shutdown. It also has a 13-inch retractable back-sliding system and Hollandia’s telescopic head support. All the features are beautifully engineered into the bed, there are no unsightly wires visible in the room. The bed looks gorgeous design-wise too. The base is covered in Italian-designed fabric, which is a new, 100 percent synthetic fiber that protects the frame from pets. The Elite is available in white or gray to complement any bedroom decor.
4. Multimedia Bed with RUF Cinema
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This magnificent multimedia bed looks like it is specially designed for a Hollywood movie. The bed has a home cinema rack fitted between the two-upholstered headboard bolsters with enough space for DVD player and game consoles. The RUF Cinema’s foot section has an aluminum cover that conceals the screen which can be easily assembled using the radio remote control. So, all it needs to make the screen stand-up and hide-out is a button on the remote control. Moreover, the padding on the headboards can be easily adjusted to suit your comfort.
5. Gravity Zero Groove bed
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Hollandia International is quite known for producing extraordinary line of luxury sleep systems, mattresses, daybeds and bedding. The Gravity Zero Groove sleep system from the company comes with a 150-watt sound system to get your groove on. The two powerful sleep system motors and two massage systems with 12 massage programs make sure you never feel exhausted in the bed. The rhythmic lines and hip styling of this unique bed and mattress touts four-joint adjustability, back-sliding system, and a flexible shoulder comfort zone. The mattress is actually made from ventilated Talalay latex, which offers full comfort and support. No doubt, the Gravity Zero Groove sleep system will ask you for some huge bucks in exchange for a musical, blissful sleep.
6. Ultimate TV bed
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Another cool entry onto the list is the Ultimate TV bed, the super-luxury bed with a single press of the wireless remote. The end of the bed opens silently to glide out a 22-inch flatscreen TV. The bed is delivered with in-built, electronic leveling. The price-tag is a complete knock-out for $32,375.
7. Histoire Do Be swivel bed
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The Histoire Do Be is a rotating swivel bed run by remote control from Mobelform. The bed comes with built-in cabinetry with TV stand and orthopedic mattress. The bed is available in different color, sizes and wooden assortments. So folks! Give your bed-room a nice make-over with this gorgeous looking round-shaped remote-control bed.
8. Gustarle TV Bed
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The Gustarle TV-Bed comes complete with Samsung flatscreen LCD TV with built in DVD player. This impressive waterbed comes with the latest top of the range Samsung 26-inch LCD TV and the Sony high definition DVD player. Several wood finishes are available for the bed, headboard and footboard, together with a superb choice of real leather fabrics for the inset panels on the headboard and each side of the footboard. This gorgeous TV Bed is also available with Visco Elastic memory foam mattress upon request. Available in various sizes, the 200cm model will set you back £6,950 (US $13,577).

9. Indestructible Bed

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The Quantum Sleeper Unit is a high-level security system designed for maximum protection in various hostile environments. The high-tech bed folds up into a fire-resistant coffin-like box to keep you safe from any uneventful event. The bed is fitted with a high-level security system that protects you from destructive forces of nature, bio-chemical terrorist attack and kidnappers. Besides, the bed is not just about protection, it is also the ultimate in entertainment and communications as it also comes with a built-in CD player, DVD Screen with PC hookup, microwave and refrigerator along with cellular phones and radios to keep you connected to the outside world! The bed is designed to enable the person(s) inside the unit to see out and prevent those outside from seeing in. The bed, though not in production, costs an estimated $135,000.
10. Sonic Bed by Kaffe Matthews
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Behold the big bed! The Sonic bed is a gigantic bed with 12-channel surround sound. It may resemble a wooden tank from the outside, but it touts enough speakers inside to make a perfect home theater set up. Designed by Kaffe Matthews as a museum exhibit, the bed runs on 220 volts of electricity and covers every inch of your body in sound. All you need to do is hook up a TV and you will never feel like leaving your bed.

      January 10, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

      7 Animal Finds of 2008

      7 Animal Finds of 2008

      animal finds

      It’s the beginning of another year, when who knows what’s going to happen, what adventures we’ll have and what ground-breaking news will hit the headlines. It’s the perfect time to reminisce over events of the previous year and ponder new discoveries. At Environmental Graffiti because we’re besotted with the natural world it was good to see National Geographic’s list of their most read stories of the year include seven best animal finds of 2008. We thought we’d share them with you in case you missed them.

      Elbowed Alien-like Squid Caught on FilmThere was great excitement in November 2008 when a remote control submersible was investigating a deep oil-drilling site and captured the image of a long-armed and ‘elbowed’ Magnapinna squid. One had never been caught on camera before in their natural habitat.
      Vampire Moth has Fruity Pastvampire moth

      Researchers reported in October that a previously unknown population of vampire moths in Siberia could have evolved from solely fruit eating species. Vampire moths have hook-and-barb- lined tongues, which they tunnel into their prey to feed on blood. Researchers say there is only slight variations in wing pattern compared to a common species of moth found in central and southern Europe called Calyptra thalictri that eats only fruit.

      Italian Wall Lizards Evolving at Lightening Speeditalian wall lizard
      Not exactly an animal find but a new discovery nonetheless. In April 2008, researchers studying Italian wall lizards that had been introduced to a small island off the coast of Croatia have evolved in ways that would normally take millions of years in just a few decades. Records dating from 1971 show that the tiny lizards have developed a completely new gut structure, larger heads, and a harder bite.
      Worms Go Supersize in the UKsuperworms
      A new breed of ‘superworms’ that feed on lead, zinc, arsenic, and copper were found at disused mining sites in England and Wales. It’s thought that the newly evolved worms and their toxic eating habits could help cleanse polluted industrial lands as their excretions produce different versions of the metals, which allows plants to grow. Scientists believe their ability to tolerate extremely high metal concentrations has affected their evolution.
      Dog-size Deer Rediscovered in SumatraSumatran muntjac
      In October last year a tiny dog-sized deer was catapulted into the limelight when anti-poaching conservationists released a photograph of the animal caught in a trap in Sumatra. The Sumatran muntjac had not been photographed since 1930 so had almost completely been forgotten about by science. The mountain-dwelling deer is now on the global Red List of Threatened Species, so doubtful it will be neglected again.
      Half-ton Colossal Squid Reveals Secrets of the Deep

      colossal squid
      In 2007, a 30 ft-long (10 m) squid was caught on a fishing line in Antarctic waters. The colossal squid was taken to New Zealand where an autopsy was performed on the half-ton female last August. The dissection revealed the squid was “a ‘giant gelatinous blob’, would have been sluggish and highly vulnerable to predators”, and was carrying partially developed eggs. Scientists believe she may have been feeding from the fishermen’s nets rather than hunting naturally because of her condition.

      The same squid was found to have eyes the size of soccer balls – the biggest recorded – which were rimmed with light-emitting organs thought to play a role in cloaking the animal from prey.

      Gizmo the Gremlin Hiding Out in Sulawesi

      pygmy tarsier
      Many people may be familiar with this animal as it’s been likened to a cute’n’cuddly Gremlin (before the water). A group of three pygmy tarsiers were discovered on an expedition in Indonesia last summer. The tiny 57 gram (2 oz) carnivorous primates were last seen alive in the 1920s, so were thought to be extinct. Logging in the forested mountain slopes of Lore Lindu National Park, Sulawesi has destroyed much of their natural habitat and population. Lead researcher Sharon Gursky-Doyen, who found the primates, is hoping the find will inspire the Indonesian government to do more about protecting their native species.

      January 7, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

      Israel and Gaza

      Back in June, 2008, Egypt helped broker a 6-month cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas, the ruling body in the Gaza Strip. Though the cease-fire was broken several times by both sides, it largely held. Toward the end of the cease-fire in December, Israel, while closing Gaza’s borders since November, indicated that it might extend the agreement, if Hamas ceased all Qassam rocket attacks. Qassam rockets are the crude but deadly homemade missiles often launched towards Israeli territory (over 3,000 times in 2008 alone). Hamas leaders, angered by the blockade and seemingly little political headway made over the past 6 months, recently stepped up rocket attacks on Israel once again. Israel has now responded with five days (so far) of air attacks and Naval bombardment on Gaza, resulting in over 350 dead, nearly 1,500 wounded and countless buildings and smugglers’ tunnnels destroyed. Hamas has threatened to increase the rocket attacks send suicide bombers into Israel in retaliation, and Israel is massing troops and tanks around Gaza for a possible ground assault.


      A trail of smoke is seen after the launch of a rocket from the northern Gaza Strip aimed towards Israel on December 27, 2008. (REUTERS/Baz Ratner)


      Masked Palestinian militants from Islamic Jihad run with homemade rockets to put in place before later firing them into Israel on the outskirts of Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 20, 2008. (AP Photo/Ashraf Amra)


      Masked Palestinian militants from Islamic Jihad place homemade rockets before later firing them into Israel on the outskirts of Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 20, 2008. (AP Photo/Ashraf Amra)


      A Palestinian man inspects the damage where a rocket fired by Palestinian militants – intended for a target in Israel – accidentally hit a building in Gaza City, Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2008. Palestinian Iyad Dremly, who works for the Palestinian Center for Conflict Resolution, was injured in the explosion, Palestinian sources said. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)


      An Israeli Apache helicopter launches a missile during an attack inside the northern Gaza Strip on December 29, 2008 as seen from the Israeli-Gaza border. (JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)


      Smoke rises above Gaza after another Israeli air strike on a Hamas target, December 29, 2008 along Israel’s side of the Gaza border. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)


      Wounded Palestinians are treated on the floor of crowded Kamal Edwan hospital in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip on December 29, 2008, following an Israeli air strike on the nearby Jabalia refugee camp. Israeli tanks massed at the Gaza border today as warplanes continued pounding Hamas targets in the densely populated enclave. (MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)


      Samera Baalusha (34) (right) sits with her daughter Eman (15) and surviving son Mohamad (15 months) while waiting to see the body of her 4-year-old daughter Jawaher Baalusha during the funeral held for Jawher and her four other sisters who were all killed in an Israeli missile strike, on December 29, 2008 in the Jebaliya refugee camp, in the northern Gaza Strip. Jawher Baalusha and her sisters were killed during an Israeli air raid while they were sleeping together in their bedroom. Medics stated that the raid had targeted a mosque near their home in Jabalia. (Abid Katib/Getty Images)


      An Israeli F15 fighter flies over the northern Israeli-Gaza Strip border on December 28, 2008. (JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)


      Smoke billows from a targeted location in the northern Gaza Strip following an Israeli air raid, as seen from the Israeli-Gaza border on December 30, 2008. (JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)


      Many bodies lie outside the Hamas police headquarters following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on December 27, 2008. (MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)


      Palestinian firefighters try to extinguish flames at a medical warehouse after an Israeli airstrike targeted at a fuel tank nearby in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. Israel widened its deadliest-ever air offensive against Gaza’s Hamas rulers Sunday, pounding Hamas targets, smugglers’ tunnels and a central prison. (AP Photo/Xinhua)


      Israelis take cover during a rocket warning siren in the southern Israeli town of Ashkelon, Monday Dec. 29, 2008. (AP Photo / Tsafrir Abayov)


      Smoke rises after an Israel air strike in Gaza Strip December 28, 2008. Israel launched air strikes on Gaza for a second successive day on Sunday, piling pressure on Hamas. (REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)


      A wounded Palestinian girl is carried into the Al-Shifa hospital on December 28, 2008 in Gaza City, Gaza. (Abid Katib/Getty Images)


      A Palestinian man gestures, as smokes is seen from a burning building after an Israeli missile strike in the Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. (AP Photo/Hatem Omar)


      Palestinian rescue workers carry a wounded prisoner past a fire, as another lays under the rubble in the central security headquarters and prison, known as the Saraya, after it was hit in an Israeli missile strike in in Gaza City, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. (AP Photo/Majed Hamdan)


      A dead cat lies in the rubble of destroyed houses and a mosque after they were hit by an Israeli missile strike that killed Jawaher Baalusha, 4, and her four sisters on December 29, 2008 in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip. (Abid Katib/Getty Images)


      Smoke from three days of Israeli air strikes against Hamas militants blends with brewing storm clouds to create a dramatic sunset over the Palestinian territory on December 29, 2008 viewed from Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip. (David Silverman/Getty Images)


      A Palestinian man looks out towards destroyed Hamas government buildings following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City, Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2008. Early Tuesday, Israeli aircraft dropped at least 16 bombs on five Hamas government buildings in a Gaza City complex, destroying them, setting fires and sending rubble flying for hundreds of yards, witnesses said. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)


      Mangled cars lie buried under rubble at the site of the Hamas ministry buildings compound, which was destroyed during an Israeli airstrike on December 30, 2008 in Gaza City, Gaza Strip. (Abid Katib/Getty Images)


      An Israeli police officer and reporters take cover during a rocket attack in the southern town of Sderot, Israel on December 30, 2008. (NIKOLA SOLIC/Reuters)


      A medic crouches over the body of an Israeli man after he was killed in a rocket attack launched from the Gaza Strip and hit the southern Israeli town of Netivot on December 27, 2008 following Israeli bombardment on the Palestinian costal strip. The rocket attack killed one man and wounded four others, according to the Magen David Adom, Israel’s equivalent of the Red Cross. (HAIM HORENSTEIN/AFP/ Getty Images)


      Palestinians inspect a crater caused by an Israeli air strike at a police station in Gaza City on December 29, 2008. (MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images)


      The body of a Palestinian security force officer lays in the rubble after an Israeli missile strike on a building in Gaza City, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. (AP Photo/Fadi Adwan)


      A wounded child awaits medical attention at the Shifa hospital on December 27, 2008 in Gaza City, Gaza. (Abid Katib/Getty Images)


      An Israeli tank drives near the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, Thursday, Dec. 18, 2008. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)


      Scores of Israeli army tanks and armored personnel carriers are massed on December 29, 2008 near Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip. (David Silverman/Getty Images)


      An Israeli soldier wearing a prayer shawl prays near a tank as troops take position on the Israeli-Gaza Strip border on December 30, 2008. (MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)


      An Israeli police officer kneels over a dog that was badly injured after a rocket landed in the southern town of Sderot, Israel on December 30, 2008. (GIL COHEN MAGEN/Reuters)


      A Palestinian boy looks up from inside a damaged house after an Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip December 30, 2008. (IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/Reuters)


      Mahmoud Tark, an nine-year-old injured Palestinian boy, is transported by Red Crescent officials on an ambulance at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip to a hospital in Al-Arish December 30, 2008. Palestinians wounded in the Israeli attack on Gaza trickled into Egypt on Monday after a day and a half of confusion and disagreement between the Hamas and the Egyptian government. (REUTERS/Amr Dalsh (EGYPT)


      An Israeli tank moves near the border with the northern Gaza Strip December 29, 2008. (REUTERS/Baz Ratner (ISRAEL)


      Israelis sit in a bomb shelter in the southern city of Ashkelon December 31, 2008. Hamas rockets had hit the major Israeli city of Beersheba earlier, on Wednesday. (REUTERS/Amir Cohen (ISRAEL)


      Palestinian men bury the body of 4-year-old Lama Hamdan at Beit Hanoun cemetery in the northern Gaza Strip December 30, 2008. Lama and her sister were reportedly riding a donkey cart Tuesday near a rocket-launching site that was targeted by Israel. (MOHAMMED SALEM/Reuters)


      Eli Azran father of Irit Shitrit (39), a mother of four, leans over her dead body as he mourns during her funeral on December 30, 2008 in Ashdod, Israel. Shitrit was killed yesterday by a Hamas rocket in Ashdod, Israel, after hearing a warning siren and taking shelter in a roadside bus stop. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)


      A detained Palestinian stands blindfolded and handcuffed in his underwear next to an Israeli army vehicle, after a pipe bomb was found in his belongings, at Beit Iba checkpoint, near the West Bank city of Nablus, Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2008. (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh)


      January 6, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

      Family Planning for Goats in Kenya

      By Ruth Nesoba
      BBC News, Nairobi

      Goat wearing an olor

      The olor is held in place by a rope or an elastic strap

      Maasai herdsmen in Kenya have turned to an age-old contraceptive device, the “olor”, to protect their precious goat herds from an ongoing drought.

      The olor is made from cowhide or a square piece of plastic, and is tied around the belly of the male goat.

      It prevents the bucks from mating with the female goats.

      The herdsmen are using the device to limit the goat population and ensure there are not too many animals grazing on sparse vegetation.

      “We don’t want them to breed in this drought,” says Mr Ole Ngoshoi Kipameto, a goat owner in Kajiado district.

      Vital assets

      The area, which is 80km (50 miles) from the capital, Nairobi, has received insufficient rainfall, making the landscape barren and forcing residents to move from place to place in search of pasture and water.

      In the Maasai community, livestock are often people’s only assets and sole means of survival.

      “We tie this hide under the belly of the buck for three months. After that we remove it and then they can breed by November when the short rains come,” Mr Kipameto says.

      Herdsmen putting an olor on a goat

      The olor saves employing separate herdsmen for male and female goats

      The rectangular piece of cowhide is passed over the buck’s head and front legs and secured under the belly in front of the hind legs with a rope or elastic strap.

      “It looks like an apron,” Mr Kipameto says.

      Peter Ndirangu, the area livestock officer, says the olor is very effective.

      “In the modern method, we advocate keeping the bucks separate from the breeding goats. But that is an added cost as you require two herdsmen – one for the bucks and one for the goats,” he says.

      “This [device] will play the part of a herdsman.”

      He says the device is very useful in keeping the herd numbers down and controlling when the goats give birth.

      “If they give birth during harsh conditions like now, the mothers – the does – are going to be very weak, they’re not going to feed their young ones properly,” he says.

      The device helps the herdsmen to restrict kidding to the period during and after the rains.

      If the rains fall in October and November, the dry landscape will turn green again and the herdsmen will be able to settle with their livestock.

      Until then, the herdsmen will have to employ the olor to protect their livestock and livelihood safe.

      Those who do not use it could face a hefty fine if their bucks are found guilty of impregnating another herder’s doe.

      January 5, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

      Walter Elias Disney

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      Walter Elias Disney (December 5, 1901 – December 15, 1966) was a multiple Academy Award-winning American film producer, director, screenwriter, voice actor, animator, entrepreneur and philanthropist. Disney is famous for his influence in the field of entertainment during the twentieth century. As the co-founder (with his brother Roy O. Disney) of Walt Disney Productions, Disney became one of the best-known motion picture producers in the world. The corporation he co-founded, now known as The Walt Disney Company, today has annual revenues of approximately U.S. $35 billion.

      Disney is particularly noted for being a film producer and a popular showman, as well as an innovator in animation and theme park design. He and his staff created a number of the world’s most famous fictional characters, including the one many consider Disney’s alter ego, Mickey Mouse.[citation needed] He received fifty-nine Academy Award nominations and won twenty-six Oscars, including a record four in one year[2], and thus holds the record for the individual with the most awards and the most nominations. He also won seven Emmy Awards. He is the namesake for Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort theme parks in the United States, Japan, France, and China.

      Disney died of lung cancer on December 15, 1966, a few years prior to the opening of his Walt Disney World Resort dream project in Florida.
      Disney as an ambulance driver during World War I.
      Laugh O’Gram Studio

      Presented as “Newman Laugh-O Grams,”[24] Disney’s cartoons became widely popular in the Kansas City area.[25] Through the success of Laugh-O Grams, Disney was able to acquire his own studio[26] and hire a vast number of additional animators, including Fred Harman’s brother Hugh Harman, Rudolph Isling, and his close friend Ubbe Iwerks.[27]Unfortunately, with all his high employee salaries unable to make up for studio profits, Walt was unable to successfully manage money[28] and as a result, the studio would become loaded with debt.[28] The studio would eventually wind up bankrupt;[29] Disney then set his sights on establishing a studio in the movie industry’s capital city, Hollywood, California[30]


      Disney and his brother pooled their money to set up a cartoon studio in Hollywood.[31] Needing to find a distributor for his new Alice Comedies-which he started making while in Kansas City,[29] but never got to distribute- Disney sent an unfinished print to New York distributor Margaret Winkler, who promptly wrote back to him. She was keen on a distribution deal with Disney for more live-action/ animated shorts based upon Alice’s Wonderland.[32]

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      Mickey Mouse in Steamboat Willie (1928).
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      Donald Duck makes his debut in The Wise Little Hen (1934), released as part of the Silly Symphonies series.
      A theatrical poster for the Alice Comedies short Alice in the Jungle (1925).
      Walt Disney introduces each of the Seven Dwarfs in a scene from the original 1937 Snow White theatrical trailer.
      The Disney entertainment empire Today, Walt Disney’s animation/motion picture studios and theme parks have developed into a multi-billion dollar television, motion picture, vacation destination and media corporation that carry his name. The Walt Disney Company today owns, among other assets, five vacation resorts, eleven theme parks, two water parks, thirty-nine hotels, eight motion picture studios, six record labels, eleven cable television networks, and one terrestrial television network. As of 2007, the company has an annual revenue of over U.S. $35 billion.
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      1968 US postage stamp
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      Born Walter Elias Disney
      December 5, 1901(1901-12-05)[1]
      Chicago, Illinois Died December 15, 1966 (aged 65)
      Burbank, California Occupation Film producer, Co-founder of The Walt Disney Company, formerly known as Walt Disney Productions Spouse(s)Lillian Bounds (1925-1966)
      The statue “Partners” located on Main Street, U.S.A. in Magic Kingdom, Disney World, Florida.

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      January 5, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment