Saturday, May 24, 2008

World's Sexiest Penthouses

It's the makings of a scene from Pretty Woman—the ultimate penthouse suite. City views to swoon over, outrageous bedrooms, sunken tubs begging for bubbles, and of course a glamorous couple ordering up a bottle of 1982 Dom Perignon Rosé. But even when it comes to big-dollar penthouses, there's an upper tier. We've scoured the world to find the sexiest summit suites, from high-design, high-tech pads in Vegas to lush high-rise living in New York City. All you need now is that right someone to join you in this alternative Mile-High Club.
—Mark Ellwood

Stamp out common virus to beat brain cancer

New strategy could help beat tenacious brain tumours.

brain cancer MRIBrain cancers could be treated by targeting the viruses that often lurk within.Getty

Cancer experts have suggested a new way to tackle particularly tenacious brain tumours known as glioblastomas. Attacking a common virus often found in these cancers may halt their growth, say researchers.

This technique might provide an alternative to current surgical treatments for glioblastoma, which, because of the tumours' position deep in the brain, carry a significant risk of brain damage.

This strategy may help doctors pursue their preferred tactic of allowing the body's own immune system to attack cancer cells, systematically eradicating them from the brain tissue without harming nearby healthy cells.

Until now it has been impossible for the immune system to distinguish brain tumour cells from healthy cells as they often have the same identifying marker proteins - called antigens - and because brain tumours often suppress immune function.

Delaying tactics

In the new study, oncologist Duane Mitchell at Duke University Medical Center and colleagues build on previous research showing the consistent presence of cytomegalovirus, a type of herpesvirus, in glioblastoma cells but not in surrounding healthy tissue.

Roughly 50-80% of healthy people in the United States are infected with cytomegalovirus, although in healthy people it remains latent. Virus particles multiply to high numbers only in those with compromised immune systems. So Mitchell and his team wondered if they could halt the cancer by guiding the immune system to attack the unique antigens of the virus in glioblastoma cells.

The team took white blood cells from 21 patients, exposed them to parts of the virus, and injected the cells back into the patients. Their preliminary results suggest that this technique is safe and effective.

“Because the immune system kills both the virus and the cell it resides in, we are hoping that we will be able use this vaccine to kill the tumour cells that standard therapy can't reach,” explains Mitchell.

Mitchell and his colleagues will unveil their findings1 on 1 June at a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago. Although the results are preliminary, tumour progression for those in the trial was delayed by more than a year on average - and several patients had no sign of tumour growth after two years.

The delay in tumour growth using standard therapy is typically six to eight months compared with non-treatment, with average survival of less than 15 months.

Attack is the best form of defence

Nobody is certain whether the virus triggers the cancer or the cancer attracts the virus. But, “the fact that the brain tumour cells create an immunosuppressive environment where the virus can make its home makes a lot of sense,” explains Charles Cobbs at California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute in San Francisco, who first discovered the association between cytomegalovirus and the tumours.

If the virus is causing the cancer, then destroying it is all the more important. But even if it merely exists side by side with the cancer, “its unique antigens look like the perfect way for the immune system to go about attacking the tumour,” explains Cobbs.

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Docs list who would be allowed to die in a catastrophe

CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- Doctors know some patients needing lifesaving care won't get it in a flu pandemic or other disaster. The gut-wrenching dilemma will be deciding whom to let die.

In the event of a mass-casualty situation, medical resources woul be have to be rationed.

Now, an influential group of physicians has drafted a grimly specific list of recommendations for which patients wouldn't be treated. They include the very elderly, seriously hurt trauma victims, severely burned patients and those with severe dementia.

The suggested list was compiled by a task force whose members come from prestigious universities, medical groups, the military and government agencies. They include the Department of Homeland Security, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services.

The proposed guidelines are designed to be a blueprint for hospitals "so that everybody will be thinking in the same way" when pandemic flu or another widespread health care disaster hits, said Dr. Asha Devereaux. She is a critical care specialist in San Diego, California, and lead writer of the task force report.

The idea is to try to make sure that scarce resources -- including ventilators, medicine and doctors and nurses -- are used in a uniform, objective way, task force members said.

Their recommendations appear in a report appearing Monday in the May edition of Chest, the medical journal of the American College of Chest Physicians.

"If a mass casualty critical care event were to occur tomorrow, many people with clinical conditions that are survivable under usual health care system conditions may have to forgo life-sustaining interventions owing to deficiencies in supply or staffing," the report states.

To prepare, hospitals should designate a triage team with the Godlike task of deciding who will and who won't get lifesaving care, the task force wrote. Those out of luck are the people at high risk of death and a slim chance of long-term survival. But the recommendations get much more specific, and include:

• People older than 85.

• Those with severe trauma, which could include critical injuries from car crashes and shootings.

• Severely burned patients older than 60.

• Those with severe mental impairment, which could include advanced Alzheimer's disease.

• Those with a severe chronic disease, such as advanced heart failure, lung disease or poorly controlled diabetes.

Dr. Kevin Yeskey, director of the preparedness and emergency operations office at the Department of Health and Human Services, was on the task force. He said the report would be among many the agency reviews as part of preparedness efforts.

Public health law expert Lawrence Gostin of Georgetown University called the report an important initiative but also "a political minefield and a legal minefield."

The recommendations would probably violate federal laws against age discrimination and disability discrimination, said Gostin, who was not on the task force.

If followed to a tee, such rules could exclude care for the poorest, most disadvantaged citizens who suffer disproportionately from chronic disease and disability, he said. While health care rationing will be necessary in a mass disaster, "there are some real ethical concerns here."

James Bentley, a senior vice president at American Hospital Association, said the report will give guidance to hospitals in shaping their own preparedness plans even if they don't follow all the suggestions.

He said the proposals resemble a battlefield approach in which limited health care resources are reserved for those most likely to survive.

Bentley said it's not the first time this type of approach has been recommended for a catastrophic pandemic, but that "this is the most detailed one I have seen from a professional group."

While the notion of rationing health care is unpleasant, the report could help the public understand that it will be necessary, Bentley said.

Devereaux said compiling the list "was emotionally difficult for everyone."

That's partly because members believe it's just a matter of time before such a health care disaster hits, she said.

"You never know," Devereaux said. "SARS took a lot of folks by surprise. We didn't even know it existed."

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Why Some Men Can't Have Orgasms

Your doctor can usually diagnose a climax problem through tests.
A common sexual complaint among men is the inability to orgasm, according to Irwin Goldstein, MD, director of San Diego Sexual Medicine and the editor in chief of the Journal of Sexual Medicine. There's a wide range of possible explanations, however, and doctors are generally able to pinpoint your problem through biological and psychological tests.

Hypothyroidism: The thyroid gland does not produce enough hormone.

Hypogonadism: Testicles do not produce enough testosterone.

Psychological causes: These may include depression, anxiety, or a panic disorder of some kind. (Difficulty achieving orgasm can also be a side effect of some antidepressant drugs, such as selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs.)

Neurological problems: Strokes, multiple sclerosis, and diabetic neuropathy can limit your ability to orgasm.

Physical injuries: Spinal cord injuries and other major wounds can have an effect.

Prostate problems: These include infections or surgery affecting the prostate or other pelvic organs.
These are some of the conditions that tests may turn up. See your doctor or a sexual medicine specialist to find out the cause.

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Hospitals with most MRSA deaths are revealed in study


The new strain of MRSA affects healthy people

The hospitals with record numbers of deaths linked to the superbugs MRSA and Clostridium difficile were named and shamed yesterday.

The Office for National Statistics figures showed where the people who contracted the infectious and deadly bugs died between 2002 and 2006.

At the Royal United hospital in Bath, 268 people who died had C. diff recorded on their death certificates – more than 3 per cent of all deaths at the hospital over the four years.

Some 235 people with C. diff died at the George Eliot hospital in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, representing more than 3 per cent of deaths at the unit.

The figures do not take into account the number of patients treated, and do not represent deaths from C. diff or MRSA, but show only that it was mentioned on the death certificate. Nor do they show where the infection was picked up.

Some 218 institutions are included in the figures – 217 hospitals and one hospice – which record the location of deaths at "communal establishments". The figures record places where more than 2,500 people died from any cause.

Walsgrave hospital in Coventry, Leicester Royal Infirmary and Kettering general hospital recorded 233, 203 and 200 deaths from the bug respectively. Meanwhile, Derriford hospital in Plymouth had the highest number of MRSA deaths – 94 – followed by the Queen Alexandra hospital in Portsmouth with 81, Maelor hospital in Wrexham with 79, Musgrove Park hospital in Taunton with 77 and the Royal Sussex County hospital in Brighton with 75.

A spokesman for Help the Aged expressed concern at the figures saying: "Any rise in hospital-acquired infections will affect older people more heavily."

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Man’s Vomit Poisons 54 People

It was like a scene out of Resident Evil, when a man began to vomit in a hospital emergency room causing over 50 people surrounding him to be posioned and scrambling for medical attention themselves.

This was no movie though and no one was amused.

In Kumamoto, Japan, a man was rushed to the emergency room after drinking large amounts of pesticide and poisoning himself. Doctors were attempting to pump the patients stomach when he started violently vomiting before dying.

The spray of chloropicrin, a very dangerous pesticide, was so toxic it cause 54 doctors, nurses, and patients to have breathing problems and sores in their eyes, leaving them desperate for medical help.

All of the injured hospital workers were transfered to a different hospital and 10 of them ended up being hospitalized themselves.

A 72 year-old pneumonia patient got the worst of it as her condition worsened after being exposed to the fumes.

90 additional hospital personnel were called in to assist in the emergency and the nearby fire department was called in to decontaminate the emergency room.

Detergent suicides have been a recent trend in Japan, which has caused a panic amongst officials. With 50 people having killed themselves with detergent overdose recipes found on the internet, officials have tried to get internet providers to take down pages containing the recipe.

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New Starbucks Opens In Rest Room Of Existing Starbucks

CAMBRIDGE, MA—Starbucks, the nation's largest coffee-shop chain, continued its rapid expansion Tuesday, opening its newest location in the men's room of an existing Starbucks.

Enlarge Image New Starbucks Opens

Starbuck's logo

"Coffee lovers just can't stand being far from their favorite Starbucks gourmet blends," said Chris Tuttle, Starbucks vice-president of franchising. "Now, people can enjoy a delicious Frappuccino or espresso just about any time they please, even while defecating."

The new men's-room-based Starbucks, the coffee giant's 1,531st U.S. location, will be open to both men and women when not "in use." In addition to offering specialty coffees from around the world, it will serve freshly baked pastries, Italian pannini sandwiches and soups, as well as the rest room's usual selection of toilet paper and soap.

"This is a great addition," said Jonathan Connolly, a Boston-area banker who tried out the new Starbucks Tuesday. "I was enjoying my usual triple mocha latté in the main Starbucks, and I had to go to the bathroom, where three people were in line to use the stalls. The wait might have been a problem, but, to my great pleasure, there was another Starbucks right there, ready to serve me more delicious coffee. And the baristas were helpful and courteous."

Connolly added that after he finished drinking his coffee and using the bathroom, he stayed for a poetry reading near the urinals.

"I was a little bit worried about the new restaurant cutting into our business," said Dave Grobelkowski, manager of the original Starbucks. "But the only people going there are ones who have already purchased items from us anyway. And if we run out of stirrers or cream, we can just go to the bathroom and borrow some."

According to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, the new location represents the beginning of a long-term expansion plan.

"Eventually, Starbucks rest rooms everywhere will sell coffee," Schultz said. "But that ambitious scheme is at least five years down the road. In the meantime, we plan to open an additional location in this Starbucks' ladies' room within months, and are already drafting plans for a fourth restaurant along the corridor leading from the main seating area to the rest rooms. At some point a 'Star-bucks Express' window will eventually open in the walk-in closet of the men's room Starbucks."

"Drink our coffee," Schultz said. "Drink it."

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A Debunking on Teenagers and 'Technical Virginity'

Contrary to widespread belief, teenagers do not appear to commonly engage in oral sex as a way to preserve their virginity, according to the first study to examine the question nationally.

The analysis of a federal survey of more than 2,200 males and females aged 15 to 19, released yesterday, found that more than half reported having had oral sex. But those who described themselves as virgins were far less likely to say they had tried it than those who had had intercourse.

"There's a popular perception that teens are engaging in serial oral sex as a strategy to avoid vaginal intercourse," said Rachel Jones of the Guttmacher Institute, a private, nonprofit research organization based in New York, who helped do the study. "Our research suggests that's a misperception."

Instead, the study found that teens tend to become sexually active in many ways at about the same time. For example, although only one in four teenage virgins had engaged in oral sex, within six months after their first intercourse more than four out of five adolescents reported having oral sex.

"That suggests that oral and vaginal sex are closely linked," said Jones, whose findings will be published in the July issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health. "Most teens don't have oral sex until they have had vaginal sex."

Proponents of sex-education programs that focus on abstinence said the findings debunked the criticism that the approach was inadvertently prompting more teens to have oral sex, which still carries the risk of sexually transmitted disease, in order to preserve their virginity.

"This study . . . invalidates the suggestion that 'technical virgins' account for the rise in oral and anal sex," said Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association. "Sexually experienced teens were almost four times more likely to engage in oral sex and 20 times more likely to engage in anal sex than their peers who were virgins."

If anything, the findings support the need to encourage more teens to delay sexual activity of all kinds, she said.

"This report reveals that teen sex -- even with a condom -- presents significant risk for future sexual experimentation and so underscores the need for redoubled emphasis on abstinence education for teens," she said. "Only abstinence education adequately addresses this problem."

But critics of abstinence programs said the findings reinforced the need for comprehensive sex education, because teens engage in a wide variety of sexual activities, all of which can spread sexually transmitted diseases.

"More than half of our teens are having sex -- vaginal and oral," said James Wagoner, president of the group Advocates for Youth. "We can't afford the luxury of denial. Abstinence-only programs are the embodiment of denial. They have been proven not to work, and it's time to invest in real sex education, including condoms."

Others praised the research for providing much-needed data in the often highly polarized debate over teenage sexuality.

"We have these images of oral sex parties, but it's not based on evidence. It's not based on research," said Claire Brindis, a professor of pediatrics and health policy at the University of California at San Francisco. "A study like this allows us to begin to dissect what actually is going on. It really helps to break both the positive and negative stereotypes."

Previous research had suggested that oral sex was increasing among teenagers as an alternative to intercourse, but those studies were based on small samples or anecdotal reports. The new study analyzed data collected from a nationally representative sample of 1,150 females and 1,121 males aged 15 to 19 who were questioned in detail in 2002 for the federal government's National Survey of Family Growth.

A majority of the teens -- 55 percent -- said they had engaged in oral sex, which was slightly more than the 50 percent who said they had had vaginal sex. But oral sex was much more common among those who already had had intercourse: Eighty-seven percent of those who reported on a computerized questionaire that they had had vaginal sex said they had engaged in oral sex as well, compared with 23 percent of those who described themselves as virgins.

When the researchers examined the timing of sexual behaviors, they found that among those who said during face-to-face interviews that had had vaginal sex in the past six months, 82 percent said they also had had oral sex, compared with 26 percent of the virgins.

Among those who had initiated vaginal sex more than three years earlier, 92 percent had engaged in oral sex.

Jones noted that the analysis could not determine which sexual activity tended to occur first.

When the researchers examined the number of partners the teens reported, they found that among those who reported engaging in oral sex, 67 percent had only one partner, "another piece of evidence that there's not a lot of teens engaging in serial oral sex," Jones said.

In addition to the implications for sex-ed classes, the findings indicate that parents should talk with their children more about a variety of sexual activities, experts said.

"When parents talk with children and teenagers about sex, they may need to broaden the number of topics they discuss," said Sarah Brown of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, a private nonprofit advocacy group. "They have to embrace the 'ick' factor. They have to face the facts."

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25 Ways to Help a Fellow Human Being Today

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” - Dalai Lama

Too often the trend in our society is for people to be separated from either other, to be cut off from the great mass of humanity, and in doing so to be dehumanized a little bit more with each step.

Cars have taken us off the streets, where we used to greet each other and stop to chat. Cubicles have taken away a bit of the humanity in working, as have factories and even computers to some extent. Television has planted us firmly in our living rooms, instead of out with other people. Even movie theaters, where many people get together, cut us off from true conversation because we’re staring at a big screen.

And while I’m not railing against any of these inventions (except perhaps the cubicle), what we must guard against is the tendency of that individuality to have us focused on ourselves to the exclusion of our fellow human beings. The tendency towards selfishness rather than giving, on helping ourselves rather than helping our brothers and sisters in humanity.

I’m not saying we’re all like that, but it can happen, if we’re not careful.

So strike back against the selfishness and greed of our modern world, and help out a fellow human being today. Not next month, but today.

Helping a fellow human being, while it can be inconvenient, has a few humble advantages:

  1. It makes you feel better about yourself;
  2. It connects you with another person, at least for a moment, if not for life;
  3. It improves the life of another, at least a little;
  4. It makes the world a better place, one little step at a time;
  5. And if that kindness is passed on, it can multiply, and multipy.

So take just a few minutes today, and do a kindness for another person. It can be something small, or the start of something big. Ask them to pay it forward. Put a smile on someone’s face.

Don’t know where to start? Here’s an extremely incomplete list, just to get you thinking — I’m sure you can come up with thousands more if you think about it.

  1. Smile and be friendly. Sometimes a simple little thing like this can put a smile and warm feeling in someone else’s heart, and make their day a little better. They might then do the same for others.
  2. Call a charity to volunteer. You don’t have to go to a soup kitchen today. Just look up the number, make the call, and make an appointment to volunteer sometime in the next month. It can be whatever charity you like. Volunteering is one of the most amazing things you can do.
  3. Donate something you don’t use. Or a whole box of somethings. Drop them off at a charity — others can put your clutter to good use.
  4. Make a donation. There are lots of ways to donate to charities online, or in your local community. Instead of buying yourself a new gadget or outfit, spend that money in a more positive way.
  5. Redirect gifts. Instead of having people give you birthday or Christmas gifts, ask them to donate gifts or money to a certain charity.
  6. Stop to help. The next time you see someone pulled over with a flat tire, or somehow in need of help, stop and ask how you can help. Sometimes all they need is a push, or the use of your cell phone.
  7. Teach. Take the time to teach someone a skill you know. This could be teaching your grandma to use email, teaching your child to ride a bike, teaching your co-worker a valuable computer skill, teaching your spouse how to clean the darn toilet. OK, that last one doesn’t count.
  8. Comfort someone in grief. Often a hug, a helpful hand, a kind word, a listening ear, will go a long way when someone has lost a loved one or suffered some similar loss or tragedy.
  9. Help them take action. If someone in grief seems to be lost and doesn’t know what to do, help them do something. It could be making funeral arrangements, it could be making a doctor’s appointment, it could be making phone calls. Don’t do it all yourself — let them take action too, because it helps in the healing process.
  10. Buy food for a homeless person. Cash is often a bad idea if it’s going to be used for drugs, but buying a sandwich and chips or something like that is a good gesture. Be respectful and friendly.
  11. Lend your ear. Often someone who is sad, depressed, angry, or frustrated just needs someone who will listen. Venting and talking through an issue is a huge help.
  12. Help someone on the edge. If someone is suicidal, urge them to get help. If they don’t, call a suicide hotline or doctor yourself to get advice.
  13. Help someone get active. A person in your life who wants to get healthy might need a helping hand — offer to go walking or running together, to join a gym together. Once they get started, it can have profound effects.
  14. Do a chore. Something small or big, like cleaning up or washing a car or doing the dishes or cutting a lawn.
  15. Give a massage. Only when appropriate of course. But a massage can go a long way to making someone feel better.
  16. Send a nice email. Just a quick note telling someone how much you appreciate them, or how proud you are of them, or just saying thank you for something they did.
  17. Show appreciation, publicly. Praising someone on a blog, in front of coworkers, in front of family, or in some other public way, is a great way to make them feel better about themselves.
  18. Donate food. Clean out your cupboard of canned goods, or buy a couple bags of groceries, and donate them to a homeless shelter.
  19. Just be there. When someone you know is in need, sometimes it’s just good to be there. Sit with them. Talk. Help out if you can.
  20. Be patient. Sometimes people can have difficulty understanding things, or learning to do something right. Learn to be patient with them.
  21. Tutor a child. This might be difficult to do today, but often parents can’t afford to hire a tutor for their child in need of help. Call a school and volunteer your tutoring services.
  22. Create a care package. Soup, reading material, tea, chocolate … anything you think the person might need or enjoy. Good for someone who is sick or otherwise in need of a pick-me-up.
  23. Lend your voice. Often the powerless, the homeless, the neglected in our world need someone to speak up for them. You don’t have to take on that cause by yourself, but join others in signing a petition, speaking up a a council meeting, writing letters, and otherwise making a need heard.
  24. Offer to babysit. Sometimes parents need a break. If a friend or other loved one in your life doesn’t get that chance very often, call them and offer to babysit sometime. Set up an appointment. It can make a big difference.
  25. Love. Simply finding ways to express your love to others, whether it be your partner, child, other family member, friend, co-worker, or a complete stranger … just express your love. A hug, a kind word, spending time, showing little kindnesses, being friendly … it all matters more than you know.

How far that little candle throws his beams!
So shines a good deed in a weary world.
- William Shakespeare

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Ten Top Tips for Saving Gas

1. Turn off your engine if you are going to be idling for more than 30 seconds. Millions of gallons of fuel are wasted each day from idling. Your starter and battery system can handle the increased activity.

2. Change your air filter every 10,000 miles. Just like a marathon runner, your car needs to suck in air without restriction.

3. Install a real-time fuel consumption meter if your car does not have one already. This way, you can see what you are doing while you are driving and make the needed adjustments to save fuel.

4. Pump up those tires. Higher tire pressures result in lower rolling resistance, so your mileage will improve. Not too high, mind you, but a tad over the “recommended” from your car and tire manufacturer. Remember, they don’t want you to get good mileage.

5. Turn off your air conditioning, but only at lights or in slow traffic. When you really get going, the open windows produce drag that will offset any savings you might imagine from having the AC off.

6. Reduce the weight of your car. Remove all non-essential items from the trunk and the interior of your car. Weight takes energy to move, so the lighter your car the less energy you will lose. Keep the spare tire and the jack, but almost everything else can go. If you don’t have a family, take out the back seat. Invest in custom wheels if they are significantly lighter than the stock wheels. Carbon fiber parts (like the hood or trunk) are great, too, although they may be a bit expensive.

7. Don’t keep your gas tank full all the time. Remember, fuel equals weight and you must do everything you can to make your vehicle lighter. Keeping about a half tank or less all the time should allow for emergencies but also keep your weight down.

8. Wax your car and keep it clean and waxed. Drag (friction with the air) greatly reduces fuel economy. A clean and waxed vehicle will have reduced aerodynamic drag, thus providing better mileage. If you have a luggage rack, take it off. If you have a moon roof, keep it closed. Smooth is what you want.

9. Don’t drive a lot with a cold engine. Cold engines do not run efficiently. Use a block heater to pre-heat your engine if you are taking many short trips. If you can combine your short trips it will help, as driving further will allow your engine more operating time at higher temperatures.

10. Use cruise control whenever possible. The car’s ability to maintain a constant speed is better than your ability to do so. Small, more precise, and constant adjustments made by the car’s cruise control system will save you fuel.

Ultimately, there are other, more drastic steps you can take to save on fuel. For instance, you could ride light rail instead of driving, car pool, ride your bike, buy a high mileage car like a MINI or a Toyota Corolla, or even move closer to where you work. One other thing to consider – invest in an oil company like Exxon-Mobil or BP. As the high cost of oil swells the profits of Big Oil, you will get a share of that ill-gotten wealth as an owner of the company.

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7 Completely Unnecesary Jet Engine Powered Vehicles

Image by Ben Goode

I’m sure most of you remember the comedian Tim Allen and his show Home Improvement–he was dedicated to the glory of all things manly, more power, more horsepower, more sawdust, and football, and big, loud, fast cars, UGHH GRUNT MANLY NOISE. Obviously, if absolutely everyone used needly overpowered contraptions, our global climate crisis would accelerate at the same pace. Sometimes however, it’s better to just poke fun and laugh rather than preach. So, in honor of that manly penchant for overkill, be it using a gas powered turbine for raking leaves off of your lawn, or watching television on a screen that costs more than your first car, Environmental Graffiti presents seven vehicles which have been modified to run off of a jet engine–and for which there is no explanation but testosterone.

7. The Jet Bicycle

It’s been in awesome sites all over the internet in recent days, from gizmodo to neatorama and back, Robert Maddox has attached a pulsejet to a common bicycle, and therefore made it possible for your paperboy to actually sound like the London Blitz. The bad news is that there may actually be a positive use for it in modern-day America; it’s fuel-efficient, and has a top speed suitable for freeways, something that we rarely find in combination in any vehicle.

Image from Gizmodo

You can watch a video below:

6. Jet-Powered VW Beetle
Ron Patrick, a mechanical engineering PhD, has some how, some way, made his VW Beetle street legal while still hanging a jet engine and afterburner out of the tail end of it. Using the gas-powered four cylinder for daily driving and the 1300 bhp jet for…whatever you would use a 1300 bhp jet for, he can outrun the fastest production car in the world, a Bugatti Veyron.

Image via Snassek

Check the youtube, and imagine how scary he could be at a red light:

5. Jet Powered Wheelchair

Giuseppe Cannella, a mechanically inclined Brit, decided for reasons known but to him to strap a jet engine and steering apparatus on his mother-in-law’s wheelchair.

Was it spite?

His wife, he says, told him to bolt it onto something unusual instead of a go-kart as he originally intended. A few days later the wheelchair of her dear mother was being cannibalized for the jet-powered glee of Giuseppe. The mother-in-law was actually out of town at the time, and when she returned, believed the freeway-speed medical device was for her, an aging Parkinson’s disease patient.

Images from BBC

4. Jet-Powered Port-A-John

Paul Sender, a mechanic by trade, has spent 10,000 dollars to build a toilet that shoots 30 foot-long fireballs out of the rear end of it (Go ahead, make your jokes, we’ll be here). The fastest toilet in the world has a top speed of 70 miles per hour, and presumably some sort of steering mechanism and brakes, although we could find no discussion of them anywhere on the internet, so it’s possible that one day you could be run down by an uncontrollable 70 mile per hour toilet with no brakes.

Image from Man-Sized. Yes, it’s for real.

Here’s an incredibly surreal video of it in action:

3. The Turbitrac Lawn Mower

The Turbitrac is a jet engine built by slightly nutty Englishman named Nick Haddock, who has taken it upon himself to not only design and build his own jet engine from scratch, but to post his instructions and reasons for doing so on the internet. Running off of propane, turbos, and components of a 7.5 ton truck engine, it can reach temperatures of over 600 degrees and provide quite a show at night.

Images from GP3

watch a video of it below fire up:

2. Jet-Powered Beer Cooler

A fairly crazy nameless New Zealander with a website embarked on a mission to prove his kiwidom not too long ago, because, as he saw it, you needed two things to be a resident of that island nation: a love of rugby, and a shed. Somehow, this left him compelled to cool his beer with a propane-fueled jet engine, a simple device that’s not really known for being applied to coolers. The principle is simple enough– the jet pulls the propane out of the tank, which sits in a tank in the beer cooler, and the propane exiting the tank creates an entropic system, removing heat from the beer. Wild, eh?

Image from Asciimation2
1. Shockwave Jet-Powered Semi

Shockwave is a regular on the air show cicuit, where driver Kent Shockley regularly fries up the THREE jet engines attached to his heavily modified Peterbilt frame, and exceeds 350 miles an hour. In a standing start quarter mile, he can reach speeds over 290 miles an hour in under 5 seconds, an experience so violent that most of us can’t even fathom it. It’s exceptional considering that 0-60 in that amount of time is great for a sportscar - Kent is almost at 300 mph by that stage.

Images below via Snassek

Below is an awesome video of it in action:

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How my mother's fanatical views tore us apart

She's revered as a trail-blazing feminist and author Alice Walker touched the lives of a generation of women. A champion of women's rights, she has always argued that motherhood is a form of servitude. But one woman didn't buy in to Alice's beliefs - her daughter, Rebecca, 38.

Here the writer describes what it was like to grow up as the daughter of a cultural icon, and why she feels so blessed to be the sort of woman 64-year-old Alice despises - a mother.

The other day I was vacuuming when my son came bounding into the room. 'Mummy, Mummy, let me help,' he cried. His little hands were grabbing me around the knees and his huge brown eyes were looking up at me. I was overwhelmed by a huge surge of happiness.

Maternal rift: Rebecca Walker, whose mother was the feminist author of The Color Purple - who thought motherhood a form of servitude, is now proud to be a mother herself

I love the way his head nestles in the crook of my neck. I love the way his face falls into a mask of eager concentration when I help him learn the alphabet. But most of all, I simply love hearing his little voice calling: 'Mummy, Mummy.'

It reminds me of just how blessed I am. The truth is that I very nearly missed out on becoming a mother - thanks to being brought up by a rabid feminist who thought motherhood was about the worst thing that could happen to a woman.

You see, my mum taught me that children enslave women. I grew up believing that children are millstones around your neck, and the idea that motherhood can make you blissfully happy is a complete fairytale.


Family love? A young Rebecca with her parents

In fact, having a child has been the most rewarding experience of my life. Far from 'enslaving' me, three-and-a-half-year-old Tenzin has opened my world. My only regret is that I discovered the joys of motherhood so late - I have been trying for a second child for two years, but so far with no luck.

I was raised to believe that women need men like a fish needs a bicycle. But I strongly feel children need two parents and the thought of raising Tenzin without my partner, Glen, 52, would be terrifying.

As the child of divorced parents, I know only too well the painful consequences of being brought up in those circumstances. Feminism has much to answer for denigrating men and encouraging women to seek independence whatever the cost to their families.

My mother's feminist principles coloured every aspect of my life. As a little girl, I wasn't even allowed to play with dolls or stuffed toys in case they brought out a maternal instinct. It was drummed into me that being a mother, raising children and running a home were a form of slavery. Having a career, travelling the world and being independent were what really mattered according to her.

I love my mother very much, but I haven't seen her or spoken to her since I became pregnant. She has never seen my son - her only grandchild. My crime? Daring to question her ideology.

Well, so be it. My mother may be revered by women around the world - goodness knows, many even have shrines to her. But I honestly believe it's time to puncture the myth and to reveal what life was really like to grow up as a child of the feminist revolution.

My parents met and fell in love in Mississippi during the civil rights movement. Dad [Mel Leventhal], was the brilliant lawyer son of a Jewish family who had fled the Holocaust. Mum was the impoverished eighth child of sharecroppers from Georgia. When they married in 1967, inter-racial weddings were still illegal in some states.

My early childhood was very happy although my parents were terribly busy, encouraging me to grow up fast. I was only one when I was sent off to nursery school. I'm told they even made me walk down the street to the school.

Alice Walker

Alice Walker believed so strongly that children enslaved their mothers she disowned her own daughter

When I was eight, my parents divorced. From then on I was shuttled between two worlds - my father's very conservative, traditional, wealthy, white suburban community in New York, and my mother's avant garde multi-racial community in California. I spent two years with each parent - a bizarre way of doing things.

Ironically, my mother regards herself as a hugely maternal woman. Believing that women are suppressed, she has campaigned for their rights around the world and set up organisations to aid women abandoned in Africa - offering herself up as a mother figure.

But, while she has taken care of daughters all over the world and is hugely revered for her public work and service, my childhood tells a very different story. I came very low down in her priorities - after work, political integrity, self-fulfilment, friendships, spiritual life, fame and travel.

My mother would always do what she wanted - for example taking off to Greece for two months in the summer, leaving me with relatives when I was a teenager. Is that independent, or just plain selfish?

I was 16 when I found a now-famous poem she wrote comparing me to various calamities that struck and impeded the lives of other women writers. Virginia Woolf was mentally ill and the Brontes died prematurely. My mother had me - a 'delightful distraction', but a calamity nevertheless. I found that a huge shock and very upsetting.

According to the strident feminist ideology of the Seventies, women were sisters first, and my mother chose to see me as a sister rather than a daughter. From the age of 13, I spent days at a time alone while my mother retreated to her writing studio - some 100 miles away. I was left with money to buy my own meals and lived on a diet of fast food.

Sisters together

A neighbour, not much older than me, was deputised to look after me. I never complained. I saw it as my job to protect my mother and never distract her from her writing. It never crossed my mind to say that I needed some time and attention from her.

When I was beaten up at school - accused of being a snob because I had lighter skin than my black classmates - I always told my mother that everything was fine, that I had won the fight. I didn't want to worry her.

But the truth was I was very lonely and, with my mother's knowledge, started having sex at 13. I guess it was a relief for my mother as it meant I was less demanding. And she felt that being sexually active was empowering for me because it meant I was in control of my body.

Now I simply cannot understand how she could have been so permissive. I barely want my son to leave the house on a play-date, let alone start sleeping around while barely out of junior school.

A good mother is attentive, sets boundaries and makes the world safe for her child. But my mother did none of those things.

Although I was on the Pill - something I had arranged at 13, visiting the doctor with my best friend - I fell pregnant at 14. I organised an abortion myself. Now I shudder at the memory. I was only a little girl. I don't remember my mother being shocked or upset. She tried to be supportive, accompanying me with her boyfriend.

Although I believe that an abortion was the right decision for me then, the aftermath haunted me for decades. It ate away at my self-confidence and, until I had Tenzin, I was terrified that I'd never be able to have a baby because of what I had done to the child I had destroyed. For feminists to say that abortion carries no consequences is simply wrong.

As a child, I was terribly confused, because while I was being fed a strong feminist message, I actually yearned for a traditional mother. My father's second wife, Judy, was a loving, maternal homemaker with five children she doted on.

There was always food in the fridge and she did all the things my mother didn't, such as attending their school events, taking endless photos and telling her children at every opportunity how wonderful they were.

Alice Walker's iconic book was made in to a film in 1985, and starred Whoopi Goldberg and Margaret Avery (pictured)

My mother was the polar opposite. She never came to a single school event, she didn't buy me any clothes, she didn't even help me buy my first bra - a friend was paid to go shopping with me. If I needed help with homework I asked my boyfriend's mother.

Moving between the two homes was terrible. At my father's home I felt much more taken care of. But, if I told my mother that I'd had a good time with Judy, she'd look bereft - making me feel I was choosing this white, privileged woman above her. I was made to feel that I had to choose one set of ideals above the other.

When I hit my 20s and first felt a longing to be a mother, I was totally confused. I could feel my biological clock ticking, but I felt if I listened to it, I would be betraying my mother and all she had taught me.

I tried to push it to the back of my mind, but over the next ten years the longing became more intense, and when I met Glen, a teacher, at a seminar five years ago, I knew I had found the man I wanted to have a baby with. Gentle, kind and hugely supportive, he is, as I knew he would be, the most wonderful father.

Although I knew what my mother felt about babies, I still hoped that when I told her I was pregnant, she would be excited for me.

'Mum, I'm pregnant'

Instead, when I called her one morning in the spring of 2004, while I was at one of her homes housesitting, and told her my news and that I'd never been happier, she went very quiet. All she could say was that she was shocked. Then she asked if I could check on her garden. I put the phone down and sobbed - she had deliberately withheld her approval with the intention of hurting me. What loving mother would do that?

Worse was to follow. My mother took umbrage at an interview in which I'd mentioned that my parents didn't protect or look out for me. She sent me an e-mail, threatening to undermine my reputation as a writer. I couldn't believe she could be so hurtful - particularly when I was pregnant.

Devastated, I asked her to apologise and acknowledge how much she'd hurt me over the years with neglect, withholding affection and resenting me for things I had no control over - the fact that I am mixed-race, that I have a wealthy, white, professional father and that I was born at all.

But she wouldn't back down. Instead, she wrote me a letter saying that our relationship had been inconsequential for years and that she was no longer interested in being my mother. She even signed the letter with her first name, rather than 'Mom'.

That was a month before Tenzin's birth in December 2004, and I have had no contact with my mother since. She didn't even get in touch when he was rushed into the special care baby unit after he was born suffering breathing difficulties.

And I have since heard that my mother has cut me out of her will in favour of one of my cousins. I feel terribly sad - my mother is missing such a great opportunity to be close to her family. But I'm also relieved. Unlike most mothers, mine has never taken any pride in my achievements. She has always had a strange competitiveness that led her to undermine me at almost every turn.

When I got into Yale - a huge achievement - she asked why on earth I wanted to be educated at such a male bastion. Whenever I published anything, she wanted to write her version - trying to eclipse mine. When I wrote my memoir, Black, White And Jewish, my mother insisted on publishing her version. She finds it impossible to step out of the limelight, which is extremely ironic in light of her view that all women are sisters and should support one another.

It's been almost four years since I have had any contact with my mother, but it's for the best - not only for my self-protection but for my son's well-being. I've done all I can to be a loyal, loving daughter, but I can no longer have this poisonous relationship destroy my life.

I know many women are shocked by my views. They expect the daughter of Alice Walker to deliver a very different message. Yes, feminism has undoubtedly given women opportunities. It's helped open the doors for us at schools, universities and in the workplace. But what about the problems it's caused for my contemporaries?

What about the children?

The ease with which people can get divorced these days doesn't take into account the toll on children. That's all part of the unfinished business of feminism.

Then there is the issue of not having children. Even now, I meet women in their 30s who are ambivalent about having a family. They say things like: 'I'd like a child. If it happens, it happens.' I tell them: 'Go home and get on with it because your window of opportunity is very small.' As I know only too well.

Then I meet women in their 40s who are devastated because they spent two decades working on a PhD or becoming a partner in a law firm, and they missed out on having a family. Thanks to the feminist movement, they discounted their biological clocks. They've missed the opportunity and they're bereft.

Feminism has betrayed an entire generation of women into childlessness. It is devastating.

But far from taking responsibility for any of this, the leaders of the women's movement close ranks against anyone who dares to question them - as I have learned to my cost. I don't want to hurt my mother, but I cannot stay silent. I believe feminism is an experiment, and all experiments need to be assessed on their results. Then, when you see huge mistakes have been paid, you need to make alterations.

I hope that my mother and I will be reconciled one day. Tenzin deserves to have a grandmother. But I am just so relieved that my viewpoint is no longer so utterly coloured by my mother's.

I am my own woman and I have discovered what really matters - a happy family.

  • Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After A Lifetime Of Ambivalence by Rebecca Walker was published by Souvenir Press on May 8, £15.
  • Interview by Tessa Cunningham
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