Thursday, December 27, 2007

My Favorite Cheap Vacation

You really need to put this on your list. Cheap accommodations, fantastic food and clean, clean water. The views and architecture are unreal. People are very friendly.
Location: Croatia

What to See: Visit the region of Istria first, as this is the most accommodating for tourists. Here, you can visit historic Roman towns such as Porec and Pula, as well as medieval castles and national parks. Hostels in most Croatian locations start around $10; if you can afford a little more than that, travel to the island of Brac where you can stay at the charming Villa Adriatica Hotel for around $65 a night. It's worth every cent for those who like their creature comforts.

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Ohio Begs Lawyers: Help With Foreclosure Crisis

Does the Chief Justice’s call to action resonate with you? Is the mortgage crisis, as Ohio’s state treasurer says, the defining issue of our time?
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How bad is the housing crisis in Ohio? So bad that the state’s chief justice is begging lawyers for help, and the state treasurer urges, “To anyone who wants to make a difference in the world, this is a defining issue of our time.”
Foreclosures have spiked in the Buckeye State, clogging the court system. And yesterday, Chief Justice Thomas Moyer urged lawyers to offer pro bono services to distressed homeowners, according to this NLJ story. “This is more than a legal issue; this is a social issue,” Moyer said, according to a news release. “People’s lives are being seriously affected and the legal community must respond with action.”
Ohio has among the highest foreclosure rates in the country. In 2007, foreclosure filings are up nearly 68% from last year, according to RealtyTrac.
But does the Chief Justice’s call to action resonate with you? Is the mortgage crisis, as Ohio’s state treasurer says, the defining issue of our time?
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Friday, December 21, 2007

Mars in the Path of Asteroid D Day January 30

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Mars could be in for an asteroid hit.
A newly discovered hunk of space rock has a 1 in 75 chance of
slamming into the Red Planet on Jan. 30, scientists said Thursday.
"These odds are extremely unusual. We frequently work with
really long odds when we track ... threatening asteroids," said
Steve Chesley, an astronomer with the Near Earth Object Program at
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
In 1994, fragments of the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 smacked into
Jupiter, creating a series of overlapping fireballs in space.
Astronomers have yet to witness an asteroid impact with another
The asteroid, known as 2007 WD5, was discovered in late November
and is similar in size to an object that hit remote central Siberia
in 1908, unleashing energy equivalent to a 15-megaton nuclear bomb
and wiping out 60 million trees.
If the asteroid does smash into Mars, it will probably hit near
the equator close to where the rover Opportunity has been exploring
the Martian plains since 2004.
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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Epix Soars 50% On Alzheimer's Data

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EPIX Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: EPIX - News), today announced compelling top-line
results from a Phase 2a two-week clinical trial of its novel 5-HT4
agonist, PRX-03140, in patients with Alzheimers
disease. The results show that patients receiving 150 mg of PRX-03140
orally once daily as monotherapy achieved a mean 5.7 point improvement
on the Alzheimers Disease Assessment Scale
cognitive subscale (ADAS-cog) versus a 0.2 point worsening in patients
on placebo (p= 0.005). Patients on a 50 mg dose of PRX-03140 showed a
1.1 point improvement on the ADAS-cog.
After reviewing these data, Serge Gauthier, M.D., Director of the
Alzheimer's Disease Research Unit at McGill University, stated, There
is such an urgent and undeniable need for additional safe and effective
treatments for Alzheimers patients. Findings
like these data are not only encouraging and compelling
they appear to represent a step forward in our ability to understand and
combat the effects of Alzheimers.
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Dumbest Business of 2007

See this one, Jessica Simpson and others by following the link.
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Made (Badly) in China

Grand Prize Winner

During 2007, Mattel recalls almost 20 million items made in China because of lead paint and tiny magnets. Pet food makers recall more than 360 million cans of tainted food from China. Chinese-made lunch boxes given away to promote healthy eating among children are found to contain lead. And so on ... and so on ... and so on.
Dumbest Moments 2007 - lead recalls
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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Start-Up Sells Solar Panels at Lower-Than-Usual Cost

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Nanosolar, a heavily financed Silicon Valley start-up whose backers include Google’s co-founders, plans to announce Tuesday that it has begun selling its innovative solar panels, which are made using a technique that is being held out as the future of solar power manufacturing.
The company, which has raised $150 million and built a 200,000-square-foot factory here, is developing a new manufacturing process that “prints” photovoltaic material on aluminum backing, a process the company says will reduce the manufacturing cost of the basic photovoltaic module by more than 80 percent.
Nanosolar, which recently hired a top manufacturing executive from I.B.M., said that it had orders for its first 18 months of manufacturing capacity. The photovoltaic panels will be made in Silicon Valley and in a second plant in Germany.
Nanosolar has focused on lowering the manufacturing cost
claims to be the first solar panel manufacturer to be able to
sell solar panels for less than $1 a watt
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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Would You Marry for Money? (And If So, How Much?)

Tell the truth, would you marry for money?
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Robert Frank’s wealth column
ooks at the growing number of men and women who want to tie the knot for assets, rather than love.
According to a survey by Prince & Associates, a Connecticut-based wealth-research firm, the average “price” that men and women demand to marry for money these days is $1.5 million. The survey asked people nationwide: “How willing are you to marry an average-looking person that you liked, if they had money?”
The column sites an infamous personal ad posted on Craigslist this summer, in which a twentysomething New Yorker who described herself as “spectacularly beautiful” wrote that she was looking for a man who made at least $500,000 a year. She’d tried dating men earning $250,000, but that wasn’t “getting me to Central Park West,” she said. (One investment banker replied that since his money would grow over time but her beauty would fade, the offer didn’t make good business sense.)
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Hot Christmas Toys #1 Hannah Montana In Concer

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Hannah Montana
Analysts expect the Hannah Montana In Concert Collection Doll from Play Along, a division of JAKKS Pacific, Inc., to be at the top of the sales list this holiday season.
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Pictures of Pent Up Housing Demand

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Pictures of Pent Up Housing Demand
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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Lame Ducks in Bali

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Frustration with U.S. negotiating tactics at the climate conference burst wide open Thursday, with countries from Germany to Tuvalu blaming the U.S. for torpedoing a new climate-change deal. Europeans have threatened to skip the U.S.-sponsored global warming fest in Hawaii in January in retaliation for the slow-go tactics of U.S. negotiators.
But another crew of Americans, skippered by Al Gore, Michael Bloomberg, and John Kerry, are getting a hero’s welcome.
“People are turning away from the official delegation and they’re starting to face toward the future,” he says. They can’t afford to wait around for the next president.”
America’s official negotiators are seen as an increasingly irrelevant nuisance
International frustration peaked after the U.S. team blocked language that would establish concrete targets for greenhouse-gas reductions.
Sen. Kerry promised the U.S. would take the lead fighting climate change — eventually.
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The Housing Bubble

The chart on House-Price-to-Rental Ratio is one of the best illustrations I have seen of the current housing bubble. In many places it is now substantially cheaper to rent then own. In fact, in many places the cost of ownership is more then 150 percent of the cost of renting after calculating in the tax benefits.

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U.S. home ownership rates from 1900 through the current year


Reflecting the booming real-estate market since 2000, the ratio of home prices to rent expenditures has risen sharply.

Ratio of OFHEO house price index to personal consumption expenditures on rent

Source: Congressional Budget Office; Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight; Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis


Earlier this year, many mortgage-backed assets held by SIVs went bad suddenly. Assets could be downgraded from top to bottom overnight. Asset prices stop falling when markets conclude that all the bad news has been factored in.

Overnight commercial paper interest rates, daily through Nov. 20, 2007


Source: Markit ABX.HE index published by Markit

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A New Way for Doctors to Get Sued?

I would be interested in hearing comments to this one.
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A man taking several prescription drugs passes out at the wheel, drives off the road and hits and kills a 10-year-old boy. Can the boy’s mother sue the doctor who prescribed the drugs?
The answer is yes
at least according to a ruling made yesterday by Massachusetts’s Supreme Judicial Court, reported in the Boston Globe.
The mother’s lawyers allege that the doc failed to warn his patient about the side effects of the medications and the potential danger of driving while taking them.
The patient was reportedly 75 years old and had emphysema, high blood pressure and metastatic lung cancer.
He had prescriptions from his doctor for a handful of drugs whose side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, and fainting
He reported no side effects in the months before his accident
In a dissent, Justice Robert J. Cordy wrote that the ruling “introduces a new audience to which the physician must attend — everyone who might come in contact with the patient.”
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Straight Dope on Baseball’s Drug Problem

The complete Q and A is available at the source site. The Health Blog.
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If you’re ever going to talk to the guy who wrote a book called Performance-Enhancing Substances in Sports and Exercise, today’s the day. As the clock ticked on the release of the big Mitchell report on doping in baseball, the Health Blog managed to get Charles Yesalis on the phone.

Yesalis, a professor emeritus of health and human development at Penn State, has been studying doping in sports for years. Here are the highlights of our conversation.

How did performance-enhancing drugs get into baseball?

It goes back to World War II. Immediately afterward, professional baseball players who served in the Army brought back amphetamines. It was absolutely rampant. It was mainly to deal with the long season — the mental wear and tear. It was also to help them recuperate from hard nights on the town. I think stimulants are clearly still involved as a significant aspect of the game.

What about steroids?
How much benefit does an athlete need from a drug to improve performance?
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Financial Ties to Parents and Children Affect Boomer Retirement

This was extracted from a good and interesting blog-- Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna. This blog is worth visiting and adding to the reader.
Boomers, though arguably the most prosperous generation in American history, face mounting demands on their financial resources from both their adult children and their aging parents. In fact, one in six Boomers surveyed is "sandwiched," providing assistance to both their parents and adult children, according to Ameriprise Financial’s Money Across Generations study.
Boomers are torn between helping their adult children pay off debts and get started, and helping their aging parents with necessities. This help often comes at the expense of funding their own retirement.
My husband and I have very different perspectives on this. His parents provided everything for him through college, and were generous until their deaths. My parents provided nothing. I paid for college, grad school, and all expenses from junior high forward. Yes, it was very hard and I missed out on a lot. But I learned to be independent and make my own way.

Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna
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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Scientists: 'Arctic Is Screaming,' Global Warming May Have Passed Tipping Point

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An already relentless melting of the Arctic greatly accelerated this summer, a warning sign that some scientists worry could mean global warming has passed an ominous tipping point. One even speculated that summer sea ice would be gone in five years.
Greenland's ice sheet melted nearly 19 billion tons more than the previous high mark, and the volume of Arctic sea ice at summer's end was half what it was just four years earlier, according to new NASA satellite data

2007 shattered records for Arctic melt in the following ways:

552 billion tons of ice melted this summer from the Greenland ice sheet
A record amount of surface ice was lost over Greenland this year
Alaska's frozen permafrost is warming
White sea ice reflects about 80 percent of the sun's heat off Earth
Earth has hit one of his so-called tipping points
"At this rate, the Arctic Ocean could be nearly ice-free at the end of summer by 2012, much faster than previous predictions."
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Since the U.S. invasion in 2003, women have faced more restrictions as the formerly secular Iraq becomes religious. Few women leave their hair uncovered in Baghdad. Women’s activists fear women will suffer if the new constitution eventually allows individuals to decide domestic issues according to Islamic religious traditions.
Policewomen in Iraq have been told to hand in their guns, in the latest sign of cultural and religious conservatism taking hold in the country, reports the Los Angeles Times’s Tina Susman.
Most of the few policewomen who worked in street patrols have been reassigned to desk jobs.
Gen. Phillips says when he questioned Iraqi Interior Ministry officials about the diminishing role of women in the force, he was told, “Females are taken care of by men in this country.”
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