Friday, June 20, 2008

The New Wonders of the World

France: The Le Corbusier-designed Church of St-Pierre in Firminy-Vert, France.
The Le Corbusier-designed Church of St-Pierre in Firminy-Vert, France.

The Parthenon. The Taj Mahal. Hagia Sophia. The Hotel Marqués De Riscal? At no other point in history have there been so many great buildings worth the trip. This year's marvels include the Le Corbusier–designed Church of St-Pierre in Firminy-Vert, France (finally realized forty-one years after the architect's death); the thrillingly off-kilter extension to the Denver Art Museum, by the controversial Daniel Libeskind; and of course Frank Gehry's latest project, the Hotel Marqués De Riscal in Elciego, Spain, its frame writhing with the architect's signature titanium ribbons. These are buildings ahead of their time…and, who knows, perhaps timeless as well

Church of St-Pierre, Firminy-Vert
Like most architects, the great French-Swiss designer and urban planner Le Corbusier left behind his share of unrealized projects upon his death, in 1965. But last year, one of the most famous of these—the Church of St-Pierre in the mining town of Firminy-Vert, also home to two of his other designs—was finally completed, thirty-five years after construction began. Interpreting Le Corbusier's vision was one of his protégés, French architect José Oubrerie, who updated his mentor's original sketches—which indicated a hulking, 108-foot-high concrete structure—with his own flourishes, such as pivoting red doors and a large concrete channel that hugs the base of the 275-square-foot church and collects rainwater (

Denver Art Museum, Denver
Daniel Libeskind is known for his structures' canted, wayward geometries, and in Denver, he found his aesthetic inclinations echoed in the landscape: The hard-edged titanium-clad extension he designed for the city's art museum was inspired by the Colorado Rockies' jagged topography. Libeskind's first realized U.S. project, officially known as the Frederic C. Hamilton Building, is connected to the existing Gio Ponti–designed main gallery by a glass-covered footbridge and adds 146,000 square feet of space, including a 120-foot-high atrium, affording the museum more room to display its 70,000-piece collection of oceanic, African, modern, and contemporary art (

Hotel Marqués De Riscal, Elciego
Frank Gehry's now iconic Guggenheim Museum not only put the heretofore-dreary Spanish industrial town of Bilbao on the jet-setters' map but proved that a spectacular structure is itself worth the trip. Now, the master returns to Spain with another project: the Hotel Marqués De Riscal, in the renowned La Rioja winemaking region. Weaving pale-gold- and rosé–colored undulating titanium ribbons with steel and glass, Gehry frames the Basque region's extraordinary vistas. Here, forty-three asymmetrical suites span two buildings that have modern amenities, parquet floors, and uninterrupted vineyard views. Such extravagant whimsy, however, may prove to be more style than substance: After opening with much fanfare in late November, the hotel closed for a period early this year to resolve outstanding structural problems (

Iceberg, Tokyo
It takes a lot to stop a Tokyoite in his tracks: The city, which had to be almost wholly rebuilt after World War II, is home to such an outsized share of arresting structures—including design duo SANAA's 2003 Dior store and Herzog and de Meuron's honeycombed 2003 Prada flagship—that any newcomer ready to claim his piece of the architectural spotlight (much less the skyline) has to pull out all the stops. For Audi's new showroom/offices, British architect Benjamin Warner (a principal at Tokyo-based Creative Designers International) conceived this planar, 172-foot-tall prism whose 120 icy-blue panels fit over the structure's angular skeleton—itself virtually invisible from the outside. Two transparent elevators provide expansive city views (

Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok
An airport is not traditionally a place you look forward to spending time in, but Bangkok's new Suvarnabhumi makes a long layover almost pleasurable. Eighteen miles east of the capital, the $3.8 billion airport (also known as the New Bangkok International Airport) replaces the perpetually overtaxed Don Muang. The main passenger terminal, by Chicago-based Murphy/Jahn Architects, is a nearly five-thousand-foot-long snaking line of steel and glass that shelters fifty gates and more than six and a half million square feet of facilities—too much, it seems, for some passengers to handle: Many have been complaining about the vast distances between gates. Still, Suvarnabhumi does offer respite for the frayed traveler: The south side looks out on plantings of native reeds and flowers, and metal seagulls in flight promise a safe journey home (

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Top 10 Easy, Eco-effective Travel Tips

By: Ideal Bite (Little_personView Profile)

Wondering how small changes can make a big difference? Individually, they may not. But when enough of us make the changes we will make the world a more livable, sustainable place—and enjoy ourselves while we’re at it.

1. Go before you go.
If you want to avert a little CO2, use the airport lavatory, not the one on the plane, since, believe it or not, the fuel used for every mile-high flush could run a car for six miles. Plus, who doesn’t want to avoid the cramped, nasty-smelling airplane bathroom?

2. Do not disturb (the Earth, that is).

Four-star green hotels show that eco-friendly doesn’t mean cockroach-friendly. You’ll get efficient lighting and water fixtures, alternative fuel vehicles, and recycling. If 10,000 people stay at hotels with efficient toilets, faucets and showerheads, each night we’ll save enough water to fill 11,263 whirlpool bathtubs.

3. Lighten your eco-baggage.
Most luggage contains eco-unfriendly materials (like the plastic PVC, which lets off cancer-causing chemicals during production) that make us want to avoid the baggage carousel at all costs. We’ve got just as durable, just as attractive options in the bag, made from materials like veggie-tanned leather and hemp.

4. Your hybrid, sir.
Wanna get chauffeured around in eco-style? Even airport car services are going green, with hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles available in many cities across the country. If 10,000 people opt for a Prius car service for a twenty-mile trip, we’ll keep the weight of 76 Priuses in CO2 from entering the atmosphere.

5. An appointment with the eco-shrink.
If skyscrapers and concrete are driving you crazy, maybe it’s time to take a trip outside. One study found that post-op patients who had a view of trees needed fewer painkillers and had shorter hospital stays, so a little dose of the great outdoors could be nature’s Rx. Plus, trips like hiking and camping tend to be less expensive and more relaxing … ahhh.

6. White powder, green resorts.
When it’s ski season, greener winter wonderlands exist in the form of eco-ski resorts. Realizing that global warming could cause shorter seasons, resorts are teaming up to go green, providing alternative fuel shuttles, introducing recycling programs, and installing solar panels.

7. Skip the plastic bottled water.
Americans use 4 million plastic bottles every hour—but only 1 in 4 is recycled. When on the go or in-flight, make sure to fill up a reusable bottle at the airport or in your hotel room, because believe it or not, bottled water isn’t always cleaner, and the production, shipment, and disposal of plastic water bottles are taking an enormous toll on the environment. The Bite’s team members use non-leaching, stainless steel SIGG bottles.

8. When nature calls.
Want to go wild on your next getaway? Choose from a huge variety of eco-adventures that get you off the beaten path, are sustainable, and support local economies. Not just for campers, you have the option of staying at boutique green hotels.

9. Globetrotting gift ideas.
Need a birthday or holiday gift for a jetsetting friend? We’ve got the perfect rundown of green gifts for people who just can’t seem to stay in one place … travel kits, travel guides, and goods to make travel just a little more comfy.

10. Chill out; get eco-pampered.

Rejuvenating, organic-oil aromatherapy and purifying enzyme baths sound like your thing? Check out an eco-spa. Eco-spas use non-toxic and biodegradable products on your bod, and some spas are even built using sustainable materials. The best eco-spas pay their workers fair wages and use non-toxic chemicals to clean their facilities.

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Teen Pot Use Falling In States With Medical Marijuana Laws

Washington, DC: States that have enacted legislation authorizing the use of medical cannabis by qualified patients have not experienced an increase in the drug's use by the general population, according to a report issued this week by the Marijuana Policy Project and co-authored by NORML Advisory Board Member Mitch Earleywine.

Among the twelve states that have legalized the use and cultivation of medical cannabis, all but one (New Mexico) have experienced an overall decline in teen marijuana use since the enactment of their medi-pot laws. (Data was unavailable for New Mexico, which passed its law last year.) In seven of the twelve states, marijuana use among young people declined at rates that exceeded the national average.

"Opponents of medical use of marijuana regularly argue that such laws 'send the wrong message to children,' but there is just no sign of that effect in the data," said Earleywine. "In every state for which there's data, teen marijuana use has gone down since the medical marijuana law was passed, often a much larger decline than nationally."

A previous 2005 review of medical cannabis laws and their impact on use reported similar findings, noting that teen use in California had fallen nearly 50 percent since the passage of that state's medi-pot law in 1996. A 2002 report by the General Accounting Office (GAO) concluded that state medical marijuana laws were operating primarily as voters and legislators had intended and had not led to widespread abuses among the general population.

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Clone cell cancer 'cure' hailed

Melanoma can be fatal

Scientists claim they have cured advanced skin cancer for the first time using the patient's own cells cloned outside the body.

The 52-year-old man involved was free of melanoma two years after treatment.

US researchers, reports the New England Journal of Medicine, took cancer-fighting immune cells, made five billion copies, then put them all back.

Scientists in the UK warned that further trials would need to be done to prove how well the treatment worked.

This is another interesting demonstration of the huge power of the immune system to fight some types of cancer
Cancer Research UK

The body's immune system plays a significant role in the battle against cancer, and doctors have been looking for ways to boost this tumour-killing response.

The 52-year-old man had advanced melanoma which had spread to the lungs and lymph nodes.

Scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle concentrated on a type of immune system cell called a CD4+ T cell.


From a sample of the man's white blood cells, they were able to select CD4+ T cells which had been specifically primed to attack a chemical found on the surface of melanoma cells.

These were then multiplied in the laboratory, and put back in their billions to see if they could mount an effective attack on the tumours.

Two months later, scans showed the tumours had disappeared, and after two years, the man remained disease-free.

The new cells persisted in the body for months after the treatment.

'Immune power'

While claiming this as a world first, the study authors pointed out that their technique applied only to a patient with a particular type of immune system and tumour type, and could work for only a small percentage of people with advanced skin cancer.

Patients will live with their cancer, and die with their cancer, but not of their cancer - it will be like diabetes today
Professor Karol Sikora
Imperial College London

Dr Cassian Yee, who led the project, said: "For this patient we were successful, but we would need to confirm the effectiveness of therapy in a larger study."

Professor Karol Sikora, a cancer expert at Imperial College in London, described the research as "pretty exciting" with potentially wide application.

He said the researchers had focused on melanoma because the disease was well understood compared with other cancers, but other cancers could potentially be targeted.

He said: "I think we will be able to harness the power of the immune system. Eventually we will learn how to control cancer, in other words we will suppress it.

"Patients will live with their cancer, and die with their cancer, but not of their cancer - it will be like diabetes today."

A spokesman for Cancer Research UK also said more research would be needed, adding: "This is another interesting demonstration of the huge power of the immune system to fight some types of cancer.

"Although the technique is complex and difficult to use for all but a few patients, the principle that someone's own immune cells can be expanded and made to work in this way is very encouraging for the work that ourselves and others are carrying out in this field."

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Kellogg's, LEGO team up to train kids to choke

There's really not a much gentler way to phrase it: The biggest name in breakfast foods and among the most iconic names in toys have put their ingenuity and marketing genius together to create a fruit-flavored treat -- LEGO Fun Snacks -- that is so mind-numbingly irresponsible that at first I presumed it was a joke.

We're talking about a children's snack shaped like the tiny plastic building blocks that every kid fortunate enough to have toys has put in his or her mouth at one time or another -- or a hundred. (The only thing my kids like better than LEGOS is watching videos of "Star Wars" characters made out of LEGOS.)

The Web site Penny Arcade threw the penalty flag yesterday:

I would love to know what sick (person) at Kellogg's came up with this genius idea. I just spent the first three years of my son's life trying to get him not to eat blocks, and now you're telling him they taste like strawberries. Thanks a lot. Seriously, how in the hell did this ever get past their legal department? You can't tell me that this isn't a lawsuit just waiting to happen. I can only assume that their next product is fruit flavored thumbtacks.

My initial thought was that it had to be some kind of hoax or Onion story, but a jump over to the Kellogg's Web site showed that's not the case.

The mere idea of a LEGO-shaped snack reminded me of this hilariously effective 2004 Super Bowl commercial that pilloried the tobacco industry.

When I sent the Penny Arcade link around the office this morning, other parents were quick to offer their own ideas for killer snacks: Paint Chip Flakes and Chewable Barbie Shoes being my favorites.

There's a wide-ranging discussion of the matter over at Reddit.

And, if training children to eat plastic blocks isn't enough to rile you, there's another major flaw with this LEGO/Kellogg's product: The gelatinous blocks do not stack, a design flaw highlighted in this video by a couple of foul-mouthed grownups.

While a little Googling shows that the two companies have been taking relatively mild flack about this product since at least last year, here's a prediction: LEGO Fun Snacks won't be on grocery shelves for much longer.

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Cancer patient recovers after injection of immune cells

By Roger Highfield, Science Editor

A cancer patient has made a full recovery after being injected with billions of his own immune cells in the first case of its kind, doctors have disclosed.

The 52-year-old, who was suffering from advanced skin cancer, was free from tumours within eight weeks of undergoing the procedure.

Roger Highfield on the new cancer treatment
Telegraph view: Cancer breakthrough

After two years he is still free from the disease which had spread to his lymph nodes and one of his lungs.

Doctors took cells from the man's own defence system that were found to attack the cancer cells best, cloned them and injected back into his body, in a process known as "immunotherapy".

Experts said that the case could mark a landmark in the treatment of cancer.

It raises hopes of a possible new way of fighting the disease, which claims 150,000 lives in Britain every year.

Ed Yong, health information manager at Cancer Research UK, said: "It's very exciting to see a cancer patient being successfully treated using immune cells cloned from his own body. While it's always good news when anyone with cancer gets the all clear, this treatment will need to be tested in large clinical trials to work out how widely it could be used."

However, the treatment could prove extremely expensive and scientists say that more research is needed to prove its effectiveness.

Genetically altered white blood cells have been used before to treat cancer patients but this is the first study to show that simply growing vast numbers of the few immune cells in the body to attack a cancer can be safe and effective.

Normally there are too few of the cells in a patient's body to effectively fight cancer.

Dr Cassian Yee, who led the team at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle, said: "For this patient we were successful, but we would need to confirm the effectiveness of therapy in a larger study."

The work raises hopes that this approach could not only offer a more effective treatment for skin cancer, or melanoma, which kills around 2,000 people in Britain alone, but be applied to other cancers too.

The patient was one of nine with metastatic melanoma, that is skin cancer that has spread, who were being treated in a recently completed clinical trial to test bigger and bigger doses of their own white blood cells.

Larger, more elaborate, trials are now under way.

Almost 9,000 new cases of melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, are diagnosed every year in Britain, and nearly 2,000 patients die from the disease.

Prof Peter Johnson, Cancer Research UK's chief clinician, said: "This is another interesting demonstration of the huge power of the immune system to fight some types of cancer.

"Although the technique is complex and difficult to use for all but a few patients, the principle that someone's own immune cells can be expanded and made to work in this way is very encouraging for the work that Cancer Research UK and others are carrying out."

Immunotherapy, in which a patients own immune cells are used to treat cancer, is a growing area of research that aims to develop less-toxic treatments than standard chemotherapy and radiation.

Because cancer occurs when the body's own cells grow out of control, the immune system only responds weakly.

The ability of the body's own defences to tackle cancer in this case is all the more remarkable because most deadly feature of the disease is its ability to colonise other parts of the body, when it becomes much more difficult to treat.

A dramatic example of immunotherapy was reported two years ago by one pioneer of the field, Dr Steven Rosenberg of the US National Cancer Institute, who eradicated cancer from two dying men using genetically modified versions of their own cells.

Both Mark Origer and "Thomas M" were suffering from advanced melanoma but the hope is that such methods could be customised to attack other common cancers, notably breast, colon and lung.

Dr Rosenberg told The Daily Telegraph the new work is an "interesting study that helps to confirm the effectiveness of cell transfer immunotherapy for treating cancer patients. We have now treated 93 patients with metastatic melanoma using their own anti-tumour cells with response rates up to 72 per cent. Mark Origer remains disease free now over three years after treatment."

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I've had the G-shot...and YES,YES,YES, my sex life has never been better

Caroline Cushworth

Satisfied: Caroline Cushworth says her sex life is now unbelievable

Three months ago, Caroline Cushworth sat her partner Christopher down and asked him a simple question.

If, she said, I could be guaranteed an orgasm every time we had sex, what would be your reaction?

Not that surprisingly, her partner Christopher, 27, a plasterer, replied that he'd be delighted.

'So I told him I wanted to have a brand-new treatment which would enable me to do just that - and also make my orgasms much more intense than normal,' says Caroline.

'His jaw literally hit the floor and he said, "Sounds good to me."

'And so a fortnight ago, Caroline became the first British woman to have the 'G-shot', also known as the 'orgasm jab' - an £800 non-surgical treatment that enhances a woman's sexual experience by boosting the G-spot, the ultra-sensitive area of tissue that can hold the key to happy love-making.

Rather like lip-plumping jabs, the treatment involves injecting collagen straight into the G-spot.

This not only enhances its sensitivity, but increases the width of the area to the size of a 10 pence piece.

It also raises the G-spot a quarter of an inch in height, making it much easier to find. And, as Caroline can testify, the results are tremendous. 'I have quite literally never experienced anything quite like it,' she says. 'I had constant multiple orgasms which went on for hours.

'That first time, the whole thing was so intense I was actually a bit scared. I was so overcome, but thankfully the intensity is something I've got used to. I still have multiple orgasms every time I have sex, but they no longer leave me flat on my back.'

Although Caroline, a 41-year-old business developer from Leeds who has no children, says she's always enjoyed a healthy sex life, it wasn't until a few years ago that she first discovered her G-spot.

The area is named after Dr Ernest Grafenberg, who first described it in a 1950 article in the International Journal of Sexology, and while many women say it's a highly sensitive, erotic area that provides hours of pleasure, others seem unable to locate it at all.

Caroline, until recently, fell into the latter of the two camps, and even questioned its existence.

She says: 'I personally thought anyone who said they climaxed through intercourse alone was lying. And I didn't really believe in the G-spot.

'But a few years ago, my partner at the time said he wanted to find it. We actually set aside an entire afternoon and spent hours searching for my G-spot.'

'Finding the damned thing in the first place was no easy feat and wasn't exactly the most erotic of experiences, but we got there in the end. I still think that women who claim they can find their G-spot during a one-night stand are lying. Once we'd found my G-spot, my sex life did improve, but I still didn't orgasm every time we had sex.

Meg Ryan

Hitting the spot: Meg Ryan in the famous When Harry Met Sally orgasm scene

'To be honest, even when you know where it is, the G-spot can still be incredibly elusive. I found it very frustrating.'

Caroline heard about the arrival of the G-shot in the UK from America a year ago, where the procedure has been available for some years.

She discovered that Professor P. K.W. Dartey, of the UK Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation Centre in London's Harley Street, was the UK's only cosmetic gynaecologist approved to administer the shot.

'I was reading these flyers which detailed the G-shot,' says Caroline.

'I immediately thought I had to get it done. 'I attended a consultation, where Professor Dartey explained that injecting collagen into my normal, pea-sized G-spot would enlarge it for up to four months. The results would mean longer, more intense orgasms.

'He showed me a diagram of exactly where the G-spot is - between 5.8 to 6.2cm from the pubic bone. It all sounded pretty straightforward.

'The procedure itself was a bit nerve-racking, though. I was petrified beforehand.

'At one point, Professor Dartey was trying to locate my G-spot with one hand while holding an 8cm needle filled with collagen in the other.

'I lay on my back thinking: "Oh God, what am I doing here?" It didn't hurt and Professor Dartey was very professional about it, but I can't say I wasn't embarrassed.

'Five minutes later though, I was up and dressed, and to my surprise feeling vaguely aroused, but I think that was more because of the anticipation of the sex that I'd have later.'

Caroline was told she had to wait four hours before having sex, and so spent the afternoon shopping.

'When we did have sex I'm happy to report it was just unbelievable - and it's been the same every time since.'

Caroline is so happy with the results that she's already booked in to have a top-up treatment in four months' time and says she'll carry on having the jab indefinitely.

'I'll treat it in the same way as I do getting my hair cut or my highlights done,' she says. 'Christopher and I always had a healthy sex life, but now it's better than ever.'

The G-shot costs £800. For more information visit or call 020 8232 5452.

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When should you stop going to therapy?

There's no lab test or imaging study like a CT scan or an MRI to measure how much progress you've made in therapy. But there is a strong movement away from endless navel-gazing -- the Woody Allen stereotype of therapy going on for years, even decades, without resolution.

Set goals with your therapist and have regular check-ins, one expert says.

Set goals with your therapist and have regular check-ins, one expert says.

"It's unrealistic to expect a cure for depression symptoms after four to six weeks of therapy," says William C. Sanderson, PhD, a professor of psychology at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. "But if there's no improvement during that time, we need to evaluate whether you're in the right treatment for you."

Check in regularly

Jayne Bloch, a psychoanalyst in New York City, says it's crucial to set goals with your therapist and have regular check-ins. But, she adds, don't be surprised if the "end date" approaches and old symptoms start coming back.

"I had a patient in long-term analysis, she just wanted to go, but she felt like she had to be angry in order to leave," Bloch says. "She felt the only way to leave is to just set the date and leave being angry. It's not that different than the process of leaving home-often kids leave their parents feeling they have to rebel." How therapy can change your brain

Good and bad reasons to end

Charles, 59, a Midwesterner, describes how he finally decided to end therapy. "I got paired up with a psychiatrist who really cared and was competent to make things better. But after a while, the clockwork way he approached each visit made me wonder what I was gaining or learning," he says. "It's easy to get through sessions by telling your therapists what they want to hear." How you may feel during therapy

If you begin to feel that way, says Hofstra's Sanderson, it may be time to terminate. Gary Seeman, PhD, a psychologist in San Francisco, adds: "Ethically, a patient can't be in therapy with two people at once."

Logistical issues, such as money and access, or an inexperienced or irresponsible therapist can terminate therapy prematurely. Keris Myrick, 46, of Pasadena, California, found a therapist through her HMO. After just one session, Myrick says, "she told me everything was fine so she didn't need to see me anymore. But I was adamant that no, things weren't going well. I was having feelings of sadness and was anxious, withdrawing, keeping all the blinds closed, but I guess she thought I was all right."

Many patients with chronic depression hope to keep their relationship with their therapist for as long as possible. Lisa, 42, from Huntington, New York., likens talk therapy to "going to the gym." Help for when therapy gets expensive

"Your mental health is with you for the rest of your life and it will be as good to you as you are to it," Lisa says. "The reason people are so desperate for end dates is because they see therapy as detention or punishment. But if you're in the right kind of therapy, it's the greatest reward you can do for yourself."

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Mangosteen, the Queen of Fruits!

Behold the Mangosteen, a small fruit with BIG health benefits
My first experience with a mangosteen occurred while visiting Japan and it was nothing to write home about; in fact it was a disappointment. Already on guard due to the odd name - why call them "mangosteens" when they're nothing like mangos? - the thing looked like a bleached tangerine stuffed into a split purple baseball. The fruit tasted delicious; somewhat reminiscent of peaches and lychees, but there was far too little of it.

Unlike other tropical fruits, ultra-perishable mangosteens have been difficult to export successfully while proving resistant to cultivation closer to the western world. In their native Thailand, however, the noble mangosteen has long been prized for its medicinal properties as well as its delicious taste.

"Mangosteen, the Queen of Fruits"... no, that's not a taunt directed at the effeminate kid who used to loiter outside the deli. Nor is it a new superhero who hails from, er, the Bay Area. According to Koichi Okabe, president of a Japanese dessert company president who deals with a variety of different Thai foods, "Mangosteens are sometimes called the Queen of Fruits." I'm sure they don't mind, unlike poor Shecky, the neighborhood faigela. Okabe goes on to say that "Mangosteen juice, made by crushing the fruit, skin and seeds, not only tastes great, it has wonderful health benefits."
The various mangosteen drinks now sweeping Japan are a rich purple in color, owing to the blending of mangosteen rind extracts with the pale fruit. It's the inedible inside rind, or exocarp, that carries "the good stuff" - a heady blend of over 100 phytonutrients, phenolic compounds and anti-oxidants called xanthones that have shown promise in warding off cancer in mice.

In Japan, mangosteen fruits and juices have struck a chord with a public who not only love new trends, but have been bombarded by a scary government campaign against the dreaded metabolic syndrome: illnesses caused by obesity and lack of physical fitness.

While non-Japanese companies like XanGo have been marketing mangosteen puree blends for several years now, cost factors have effectively made it a luxury product for most people. That may not be a problem in Japan, which benefits from being close to the Southeast Asian source. (via Mainichi News)

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Top 10 Drinking Achievements Before You Die


Even booze hounds need to have goals in life so, I decided to come up with a list of the 10 things that every true drinker should accomplish before they die. Not every item on the list requires drinking massive quantities of alcohol. Once you have covered every item on this list you will be a well rounded drinker who should have a shit-ton of good stories to tell. Personally I can put a check mark next to six of these so it looks like I still have some work to do. Figure out where you stand and then plan your weekends accordingly.

Case In A Day - 24 hours in a day, 24 beers in a case. Coincidence? I prefer to think not. You need to sit down with a couple of friends and a couple of cases and power through the day and the case. People that have never done this think it’s easy and the people that have, know it’s not. Added Difficulty: Keep a hand written journal of what you are doing each time you crack a beer. Bonus Points: If anything is legible after beer 17.

Run The Taps At A Bar… Conditions: must have 12 or more taps. This is pretty self explanatory. Belly up to the bar and order a single pint of every beer they have on tap one after the other. You are going to get to try a lot of new beers and chances are you will be piss drunk before the sun goes down.

Century Club - Pretty simple, 100 shots of beer in 100 minutes without puking. Much like the case in a day challenge people always think this is easy until they actually try it. 60 seconds starts feeling like 5 seconds once you pass the 70 minute mark.

Brew Your Own Beer - Yeah it might not taste that great and you will be “that guy” that makes all your friends try their shitty brew but every true booze hound has to give it a shot at least once.

Pub Crawl Conditions: 12 or more pubs covering at least 1 mile. There is nothing better than getting a big group of friends together on a sunny day and catching a buzz while going on a walk. A beer at each stop with a short walk in between and you will be primed for a night of debauchery.

Go To An AA Meeting at least once you should see how the other half lives. Learn a lesson from Charlie Kelly, throw out your beer before you actually get into the meeting. If you don’t somebody will rat you out.

Learn Something About Wine And I don’t mean memorizing the flavors of Franzia, Carlo Rossi or Charles Shaw. Go on a wine tour and actually pay attention (without pounding Busch Lights between wineries) or go to a multi-course meal where they pair a wine with each course and explain why they go together. The knowledge will pay off each and every time you take a lady out for a nice dinner.

Black Out Before Noon - Just once get out of bed at 9 a.m. and crack a beer instead of having your morning Tropicana. There are a finite number of years in life where you can get drunk before noon and not feel like a total douche about it the next day. If you are a college football fan then this is easy to accomplish. If beer isn’t your bag first thing in the A.M. then I would recommend a Boones Farm Strawberry Hill. It’s slightly fruity, high in booze and fan-fucking-tastic.

Oktoberfest in Germany - As someone who’s been there twice, trust me in terms of a unique alcohol experience, it’s pretty unparalleled. Any place where you can puke on the floor under your table, and one waitress jokes with you while she cleans it up and another brings you another beer is unique in my book. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a girl throw up while making out with some dude so that it squirts out the side of their mouths. Gross but hilarious. –Mr. Wonka

Scotch - learn to drink scotch either on the rocks or neat. Much like golf, it is a pain in the ass to learn, but it will pay off in the business world. While you are at it, learn the difference between bourbon and whiskey so that you don’t look like a total fucking hayseed. If you really want to get a gold star on your chart learn the difference between a blend and single malt as well.

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Stop horse slaughter, group says

Says Sask. video shows `inhumane' practices

Staff Reporter

An animal rights group, backed by Toronto lawyer Clayton Ruby, is calling for an all-out ban on the slaughter of horses for human consumption in Canada – a practice that has increased here since it was stopped in the United States.

Ruby called the slaughter of horses in Canada "shockingly inhumane" and said the Canadian Food Inspection Agency does not properly police such slaughter for human consumption and it should be banned.

At a news conference yesterday at Ruby's offices, representatives of the Canadian Horse Defense Coalition showed a graphic video which it says shows horses being slaughtered at Natural Valley Farms in Neudorf, Sask.

The organization says the video demonstrates violations of Canada's food inspection act including: the transportation of animals on double-decker trailers; horses transported with their horseshoes on and not separated for their own protection; the transportation of horses across the U.S./Canadian border and unloaded at night without supervision.

The group also said the video showed evidence of the transportation of injured, blind and emaciated horses (including a horse with a tumour on its face and another with eye cancer) as well as the transportation of a very pregnant mare and the discovery of a full-term foal in a rendering pit that had been eviscerated by animals.

The group also alleges that the horses are not being provided food or water as they wait overnight in pens, are too densely packed and are being improperly stunned before they are killed.

This year alone, at seven federally licensed facilities, an estimated 102,000 horses will be slaughtered in Canada for human consumption in Europe and Asia, the organization says.

It wants a total ban on the slaughter of horses for human consumption and, in the meantime, for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to shut down the Neudorf plant to end a "senseless, inhumane slaughter" of horses.

A CFIA official, who didn't want to be identified, said the agency plans a thorough investigation of the plant and will be asking for an "independent external animal welfare expert" to accompany agency officials during their investigation.

A spokesperson for Natural Valley Farms said the company was not commenting yesterday.

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GardenMandy’s Best Methods For Battling Garden Borne Bacteria

The best way to battle disease and bacteria in your garden is always through prevention. Part of prevention is making sure you practice sanitary gardening methods.

These include: always cleaning your tools when you are finished using them, treating or disposing of plants at the first sign of disease and properly clearing and preparing your soil for the next seasons’ crop.

However, even the most sanitary garden can sometimes become infected. Symptoms of bacteria include wilted leaves, brown spots on leaves and fruit, rotten stems and stinky fruit from the plant.

If your plant has a bacterial infection there are a few things you can do to treat it. First try to spray some compost tea on the leaves. That’s right! Compost tea does so much more than just fertilize.

If the compost tea fails to rid your plant of the bacteria, you are going to need to prune the areas that have been infected. Pay really close attention to the plant in question because if the bacteria has spread, which they do very quickly, you may need to dispose of the plant to prevent the bacteria spreading to other residents in your garden.

Unfortunately, bacteria is a problem that many gardeners face. Try to be vigilant and address the problem immediately to prevent the bacteria from spreading.

Good luck and happy gardening

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5 Things You Didn't Know: Google

By Jacob Franek
Entertainment Correspondent - Every Thursday

Read on for 5 things you didn't know about Google
There is no other company more synonymous with the internet than Google. As the mother of all search engines (a legitimate title considering Google surpassed Yahoo! as the most visited website in the U.S. in 2008), Google has come a long way since its early beginnings. It is also ranked as the No. 1 company to work for, according to Fortune magazine. Its popularity has become so widespread that most think Google was born along with the internet. To others, however, Google is the pinnacle of all internet companies -- a multifaceted search engine extraordinaire.

Why such intrigue? Well, here are a just a few things you didn’t know about Google.

1- Google spends $72 million a year on employee meals

Seventy-two million dollars a year -- that works out to about $7,530 per Googler (a term Google uses to identify employees). While the exact details vary depending on location (the Google empire spans the globe), employees at Google's California headquarters, aptly entitled the Googleplex, are welcome to at least two free meals a day from 11 different gourmet cafeterias. As if that weren’t enough, another thing you didn’t know about Google is that in addition to the cafeterias, Google offers numerous snack bars that are chock-full of healthy morsels to munch on.

And that's certainly not all. Is your car in a bit of a rut? Not to worry; Google offers on-site car washes and oil changes. The list of perks for working at Google is never-ending, making it no surprise that it's considered the No. 1 place to work, offering: on-site haircuts, full athletic facilities, massage therapists, language classes, drop-off dry cleaning, day cares, and on-site doctors, just to name a few. Oh, and if your dog is stuck at home and feeling a little lonely, just bring him to work -- Google doesn't mind.

2- Google was originally called BackRub

Like many other booming internet companies, Google has an interesting upbringing, one that is marked by a lowly beginning. Google began as a research project in January 1996 by cofounder Larry Page, a 24-year-old Ph.D. student at Standford University. Page was soon joined by 23-year-old Sergey Brin, another Ph.D. student, forming a duo that seemed destined for failure. According to Google's own corporate information, Brin and Page argued about every single topic they discussed. This incessant arguing, however, may have been what spurred the duo to rethink web-searching and develop a novel strategy that ranked websites according to the number of backlinks (i.e., according to the number of web pages that linked back to a web page being searched), and not based on the number of times a specific search term appeared on a given web page, as was the norm.

Because of this unique strategy, another thing you didn't know about Google is that Page and Brin nicknamed the search engine BackRub. Thankfully, in 1998, Brin and Page dropped the sexually suggestive nickname, and came up with “Google,” a term originating from a common misspelling of the word "googol," which refers to 10100.

The word “google” has become so common, it was entered into numerous dictionaries in 2006, referring to the act of using the Google search engine to retrieve information via the internet.

3- Google loses $110 million a year through "I'm Feeling Lucky"

There's not much to see on Google's main search page, and perhaps simplicity is one of the keys to Google's success. When searching Google, you are given two options: “Google Search” or “I'm Feeling Lucky.” By clicking the former, you are given that familiar list of search results; by clicking the latter, however, you are automatically redirected to the first search result, bypassing the search engine’s results page.

Besides the fun factor, the idea behind the “I'm Feeling Lucky” feature is to provide the user with instant connection to the precise page they are searching for, thus saving them time that would normally be spent perusing endless search results. Sounds harmless enough, right? Not so fast. Because “I'm Feeling Lucky” bypasses all advertising, it is estimated that Google loses about $110 million per year in advertising-generated revenue. So why in the world would any Fortune 500 company not patch such a gaping leak? "It's possible to become too dry, too corporate, too much about making money. I think what's delightful about 'I'm Feeling Lucky' is that it reminds you there are real people here," Google Executive Marissa Mayer told Valleywag, an online tech-blog.

4- Google has a sense of humor

Google also offers full language support for Pig Latin, Klingon and even Elmer Fudd. Anyone else still feeling lucky? Try typing, “French military victories” and clicking “I'm Feeling Lucky.” Behold the result.

Some might remember the “miserable failure” fiasco when one typed those words and clicked “I'm Feeling Lucky,” and they were instantly connected to a biography of President George W. Bush on the White House website. Now, before you jump to conclusions, this trick -- which no longer works -- was carried out by members of the online community through the art of “Google bombing.” Google bombing works because of Google's backlink search strategy.

5- Google scans your e-mails

Nothing in life is perfect -- or without controversy -- and Google is no exception. Google scans your e-mails (at Gmail) through a process called “content extraction.” All incoming and outgoing e-mail is scanned for specific keywords to target advertising to the user. The process has brewed quite a storm of controversy, but Google has yet to back down on its stance.

Google has remained similarly headstrong about other criticisms; in an attempt to remain partisan to local governments, Google removes or does not include information from its services in compliance with local laws. Perhaps the most striking example of this is Google's adherence to the internet censorship policies of China (at so as not to bring up search results supporting the independence movement of Tibet and Taiwan, or any other information perceived to be harmful to the People's Republic of China.

Google Street has further been cited for breaching personal privacy. The service provides high-resolution street-view photos from around the world and has, on numerous occasions, caught people committing questionable acts. Moving from street to satellite, Google Earth has also come under fire from several Indian state governments about the security risks posed by the details from Google Earth's satellite imaging. When all is said and done, there are a lot of criticisms about Google and these few examples merely scratch the surface.

Um, Google does the searching -- anytime, and every time, you search for something on the internet.

It's hard to think of another search engine ever supplanting our beloved Google, but it's anyone's guess as to how the internet will work in the future. Maybe you'll just have to think of something and it will appear. Who knows? Try Googling it.

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Ten Improvements In Auto Interiors

pic In Pictures:
10 Improvements In Auto Interiors

t's as true for people as it is for cars: It's what's on the inside that counts.

Today's car owners, from the sports car driver to the soccer mom, want features and functions that make life easier--and they want them designed with a stylish flare. A J.D. Power & Associates 2007 consumer study--the most recent available--revealed that interior comfort is the second most important factor in choosing a vehicle, ranking ahead of exterior styling and just behind reliability and durability.

In past years, the interior has been a mere afterthought for some automakers who invested more effort in creating distinctively styled exteriors. But consumers are spending an average of 46 minutes commuting to work each day, according to the Gallup Poll's annual Work and Education survey. With motorists spending more time in their vehicles working, playing and traveling, the pressure is on for automakers to design specific interiors that fit certain consumer lifestyles rather than one-size-fits-all models.

There are several trends impacting interior design, fuel efficiency chief among them. Automakers competing in this environment of sharply rising gas prices can't significantly increase interior space if it means reducing fuel economy. At the same time, consumers are bringing entertainment and communication devices into their cars, and those new technologies need a plugged-in home inside the vehicle.

"Automakers are trying to do a lot more with less space," says Drew Winter, editor-in-chief of Ward's AutoWorld, an industry trade publication that recently hosted an auto interiors conference and trade show in Detroit. "The real estate in vehicle instrument panels is downsizing.”

Always Improving
Ward's AutoWorld evaluated 36 vehicles in eight categories on material selection, ergonomics, driver information, safety, overall value, comfort, fit and finish, aesthetics and design harmony, and named 10 award winners in various segments. Each of the 10 here was a winner or finalist in its category, highlighting a current trend in auto interiors designed to satisfy certain types of consumers.

Theresa Spafford, lead designer of color and trim at Mazda Design Americas, says interior designers continue to look at new materials, colors and design ideas to create the ideal interiors. "The exterior is how you recognize the vehicle, but your interior is how you live with your car," she says. "Anything you have to live with, you have to have a level of comfort, attraction, functionality and durability."

That ethos taken to an extreme is represented in the redesigned Audi TT interior. The former Audi TT interior had an industrial, stark look with sharp edges and harsh lines to set apart audio and climate controls, dashboard features and air vents. The redesigned Audi TT interior, however, is a cockpit with low-sitting seats that enhance the feel of driving a fast car. The sport steering wheel flattens at the bottom like that of a race car. The appearance is a modern, softer, smoother and more integrated interior with high-grade black leather seats and metallic brushed accents throughout the interior--on the glove box, shift stick and foot rest--that projects a dynamic, futuristic look.

Of course, that's a bit extreme for most. But the same sort of philosophy is at work in the interior redesigns of more mainstream vehicles, like the roomy Hyundai Sonata, by keeping a particular type of driver's needs in mind. The Sonata, designed for families and commuters, has a center console with durable cup holders and standard auxiliary input jacks that play iPods through the six-speaker system, managed with steering-wheel-mounted audio controls.

In fact, advances in entertainment and communication technology are influencing the way automakers view interiors as a whole. "People are bringing all of their entertainment--smart phones, iPods and navigation devices--into the vehicle," says Steve Younan, director of Suzuki's (other-otc: SZKMF.PK - news - people ) product planning. "They need a platform and flexibility to do that."

How important is a car's interior to you? Weigh in. Add your thoughts in the Reader Comments section below.

That's why, later this year, Suzuki is rolling out a road-trip version of the SX4 sedan equipped with a mobile navigation unit that docks in a customized cradle on the dash, but can be taken with you when you exit the vehicle. Paired with the Microsoft Network, the Suzuki Trip Navigation gives real-time traffic information--and the ability to play video games (if you didn't take that traffic information seriously and wind up at a standstill for a while). Users can also search for the lowest gas prices and nearest restaurants. You can even program the device to note where your car is parked, take the unit with you, and it will guide you back to the car.

Safety First
Consumers also want interiors that make driving easier and safer, says Kyle Bazemore, an Infiniti spokesman. The all-new Infiniti EX35, for example, has a round view monitor that uses cameras strategically located around the vehicle to project rear, front and side views on the navigation screen to aid parking in tight spaces.

When it comes to storage, car owners want it, but they don't necessarily want to see it. They want a clean, clutter-free look to a car that can, well, hold plenty of clutter. The Scion xD, for example, has a passenger cup holder that pops out of the dash when needed. The Dodge Journey and Mazda 5 take things a bit further, with storage bins that are accessed only when rear seats are folded up.

It's all about giving customers what they want, says Winter.

"The exterior draws people in, but when the get inside the car and sit behind the wheel, it's the interior that closes the deal," says Winter. "Automakers are bending over backward to make consumers happy with interiors."

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Water Powered Cars Will Never Work

EcoGeek went live more than two years ago with no fanfare and no traffic. We had a readership of about five people. Three days later, I received the first notice of a breakthrough water-powered car that would solve our energy problems. Those emails have not stopped since.

We wrote a while back about why getting power from water is entirely impossible. But we didn't apply it directly to here we go again.

The advertisements you almost certainly are seeing from google on the sidebar are scams, we've tried to block them, but they just come back with different URLs. This story at Reuters, which claims that hydrogen is "extracted" from water to power a car is a big steaming pile. I don't know how these things slip through the cracks. I guess we'd all love for there to be a simple solution. Solutions exist, but this isn't one of them.

Generally these things are picked up on local news stations who have poor fact checking and (obviously) no knowledge of the laws of physics. But the fact that Reuters did a whole story on one of these bogus machines, and then it traveled undeterred around the blogosphere, is simply inexcusable.

"Water Powered Cars" generally work like this: Energy stored in a battery or generated by an on-board gasoline powered generator, splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. The two are then recombined, either in an internal combustion engine or in a fuel cell. Energy from the fuel cell or the engine then drives the car.

So, simplifying this, they're breaking water into hydrogen and oxygen and then burning hydrogen and oxygen to create water. This is, of course, possible, but you can't get more energy out of the system than you put in. Otherwise, it's simply a perpetual motion machine.

If it worked, it could sit on the driveway and make energy all day every day and power the entire world without you ever needing to put anything in it. In short, if it worked, it would break the laws of physics, and we would never need to burn another piece of coal again. This would be an extraordinarily easy thing to prove. Too bad none of these people who make these wonderful devices are too busy talking to the local news to actually build one.

There are a lot of variations on the water powered car, but they're all bogus. People who say that adding gasoline-generated hydrogen to gasoline increases your gas mileage by 30% are full of it. It doesn't matter if they call it HHO or H20 or Brown's gas. It doesn't matter if they're creating it with a battery or a flywheel. It doesn't matter if they've postulated a sixth dimension from which flows seemingly endless amounts of energy.

Until someone puts a box on their driveway and it generates more power than goes into it...everyone who says you can power a car with water is either a fool or trying to take someone else's money.

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What Will Be Manly In Ten Years?

Written by Ryan Zeinert

Predicting the future is a rough gig. In fact, it’s pretty much impossible. Psychics, Tarot Card readers, Sylvia Browne and your local weatherman have been more or less swindling people into believing that tomorrow can be forecasted beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Even Nostradamus, widely considered to be the greatest prophet in recorded history, was only right two times out of about a billion random guesses; you’d have a better success rate with a Magic 8 Ball. In recent times, John Titor claimed to have been a mystical visitor from the future, but that turned out to be nothing more than a basement-dwelling virgin who wanted to take pictures of his make-believe Time Machine. Hey, I can relate.

Trends, social behavior and marketing, on the other hand, can be predicted with a far greater success rate as world events, catastrophes and when the Cubs plan to inevitably whiz the season down their leg this year (a good guess would be ‘soon’). From the ebb and flow of what’s currently and previously popular, we can somehow chart the picky, superficial and sometimes baffling patterns between what is quintessentially cool and what is not.

Last week, I went on a veritable historical crusade of masculinity, in order to chart the path of what will be considered manly in 2018. I looked into the past 100 years of unabashed, American manhood; every Clint Eastwood movie, every Super Bowl, every beer brewed in Milwaukee, the Industrial Revolution and every illegal fireworks store in the Tri-State area, in a quest to find out where this freight train of non-stop awesome is heading come the next decade.

My findings were stunningly banal. As it turns out, what is considered ‘manly’ hasn’t changed very much at all in the last century. Certain trends, styles and appearances may come and go, but when it comes to men, things seem to stay in vogue for a significantly longer time, presumably because we hate having to buy new crap to impress people.

The main thing that I learned was that to properly look into our future, we must first look into the past. What will be manly in 2018? The same stuff that was manly in 1918. Take a look:

1. People that have stainless steel hooks where there used to be appendages (hand, leg, tooth, ween, etc.); presumably lost while doing something either unspeakably heroic, or whilst monumentally plastered.

2. Moonshine. Preferably the kind that cannot even be looked at without feeling the urge to call your ex-girlfriend. I recently received some moonshine that expelled a puff of thin smoke every time it was opened. If drinking poison isn’t manly, I don’t know what is.

3. Curly, old-timey moustaches. Those things freaking rule, specifically if they’re accompanied by a top hat.

4. Professional boxers or mixed-martial artists nicknamed ‘Gentleman.’

5. Industrial tools and equipment that lack safety features (See #1).

Apart from looking into our past, there are a few modern things that just feel as if they’ve always been manly and cool, and will never go out of style. They are as follows:

6. Explosions. Even if your own home was vaporized, it would be worth it just to view it from a respectable distance. I sometimes sit at work and think to myself, “Man, I hope I accidentally left the gas stove on today.”

7. Leather, but be warned. There is a very fine line between looking like an absolute badass in leather, and looking like a Glory Hole operator. Be sparing.

8. Johnny Cash. The only country artist that everyone can agree on. I don’t necessarily believe in Heaven and Hell, but if they do exist, the Man in Black is in currently charge of one of them. I have yet to determine which one.

9. Hammers. I’ve lived independently for ten years now, and there has never been a time where I couldn’t fix something in my house with the right size hammer. Hole not big enough? Sink won’t stop leaking? Cat won’t stop pooping in the sink?

10. Punching someone in the face for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

And if you want me to make a few wild predictions for what 2018 will hold, here are few futuristic nuggets of manliness I’ve been kicking around:

11. Filtering your own whiz for drinking water. Trust me, you’re going to need this one, and people will look up to you for that ability.

12. An automobile that’s fueled solely by your hatred of the Duke Blue Devils. The day this is invented, I’ll know that I’ve spent my last penny on gasoline, which is kind of an ironic shame, because Christian Laettner pumps my gas for me.

13. Deep-fried, batter-dipped, deep-fried batter with batter-dipped dipping sauce.

14. Three words: Zombie President Lincoln.

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Out of this world soap bubble photos

Behind the scenes of Jason Tozer’s soap bubble photos via NOTCOT. Mark writes -

Our recent post on photographer Jason Tozer’s images of bubbles prompted a fair few calls of “how did he do that?” Well, we were in his studio on the day of the shoot and can reveal all here…

The shoot came about after Sony approached Creative Review looking for a way in which to demon­strate the capabilities of its new Alpha 350 D-SLR camera. Having seen his wonderful images in last month’s Monograph, we suggested commiss­ioning photographer Jason Tozer to create a suite of images around the theme of bubbles, thus tying in with the overall campaign idea for the camera.

As Tozer mentioned in a reply to the comments on the initial post, despite the prevalence for filters and post effects in photography these days, his bubbles series was created completely in-camera.

While some of the final shots resembled vast gas planets, others – like the more amorphous blob shown above – seemed even further removed from the humble equipment Tozer used to bring his subjects into being: namely, washing up liquid and a coat hanger bent into a hoop.

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