Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Journey To The Center Of The Earth

Crystal forest: People clambering through the Cave of Crystals in Mexico wearing suits and backpacks of ice-cool air to cope with the 112F temperature

The giant obelisks are formed from groundwater saturated in calcium sulphate which filtered through the cave system millions of years ago

The Cave of Crystals discovered 1,000ft below a Mexican desert

By Victoria Moore

Until you notice the orange-suited men clambering around, it's hard to grasp the extraordinary scale of this underground crystal forest.

Nearly 1,000ft below the Chihuahua Desert in Mexico, this cave was discovered by two brothers drilling in the Naica lead and silver mine. It is an eerie sight.

Up to 170 giant, luminous obelisks - the biggest is 37.4ft long and the equivalent height of six men - jut across the grotto like tangled pillars of light; and the damp rock of their walls is covered with yet more flawless clusters of blade-sharp crystal.

They are formed from groundwater saturated in calcium sulphate which, warmed by an intrusion of magma about a mile below, began filtering through the cave system millions of years ago.

When, about 600,000 years ago, the magma began to cool, the minerals started to precipitate out of the water, and over the centuries the tiny crystals they formed grew and grew until 1985, when miners unwittingly drained the cave as they lowered the water table with mine pumps.

Because the crystals resemble giant icicles, the picture suggests it must be very cold inside the Cave of Crystals - but appearances can be deceptive.

In fact, the temperature is a sweltering 112F, with a humidity of 90-100 per cent.

This is why cavers wear protective suits and carry backpacks of ice-cooled air.

Such conditions, and the fact that it takes 20 minutes to drive to its entrance through a twisting mine-shaft, haven't deterred would-be looters - one of the crystals bears a deep scar where someone has tried, and failed, to cut through it.

But the cave has now been fitted with a heavy steel door, the better to preserve this beautiful wonder for generations to come.


*Macam dalam movie set pulak.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Balasungkawa : Samad Lefthanded : Al-Fatihah

Rock band Lefthanded’s guitarist Abdul Samad Mian dies

KUALA LUMPUR: A guitarist with rock band Lefthanded, Abdul Samad Mian, died after collapsing at his brother's office in Ampang here, on Thursday. He was 45.

Samad’s wife, Norliza Sumairi said he collapsed at 12.45pm and was pronounced dead on arrival at the Ampang Hospital.

Samad will be buried at the Hulu Langat Muslim Cemetery later on Thursday.

He is survived by his wife and four children aged between six and 18 years.

Born in Johor Baru, he was a part-time lecturer at the National Arts, Culture and Heritage Academy and was instrumental in Lefthanded winning the best rock album award at the Malaysian Music Industry Awards in 1995. Bernama


*Al-Fatihah. Semoga roh beliau ditempatkan dikalangan orang-orang beriman.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Easy Caffeine Fix

Hey! Who Put the Caffeine in My Soap?
By JOHN CLOUD John Cloud – Mon Oct 20, 6:35 pm ET

Most adults know how many cups of coffee they can have before they get twitchy. We're a race of well-practiced, high-functioning junkies. After all, regular human consumption of caffeine began at least 2,000 years ago, and until recently there was no reason to think our little global addiction posed any threat.

But recently companies began unleashing a barrage of unfamiliar products packed with extreme amounts of caffeine. The trend started with super-caffeinated energy drinks in the '90s, but more recently scientists and marketers have created caffeinated foods and even personal-hygiene products. In the past five years, according to the market research giant Mintel, firms have launched at least 126 caffeinated food products for sale in the U.S. Twenty-nine such products have been introduced this year alone. The offerings include things like Morning Spark oatmeal, NRG potato chips and - my favorite, if only for the brazen attempt to draw kids into caffeine culture - Jelly Belly's Extreme Sport Beans, which the company calls "Energizing Jelly Beans." You can also now buy caffeinated toiletries like Bath Buzz Caffeinated Lotion.

Public-health officials are worried about the new products for two reasons: first, people might simply add the new products to their typical ration of coffee or tea. That could increase their risk for caffeine intoxication, a condition that causes symptoms like nervousness, insomnia, tachycardia and psychomotor agitation. Caffeine intoxication is not uncommon: according to a 1998 study in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 7% of caffeine users have experienced it. The symptoms usually abate quickly when people quit caffeine, but in rare cases the symptoms can lead to death.

The larger problem with the new caffeinated inventions is that their labels don't typically disclose how much caffeine they contain. And yet some of them are crammed with the drug: Sumseeds, a brand of caffeinated sunflower seeds, contain 120 mg of caffeine per packet, 16% more than in a typical 6-oz. serving of coffee. Shower Shock soap is designed to deliver a crackling 200 mg of caffeine when lathered into the skin, twice the amount in that same cup of coffee.

Earlier this month, a Johns Hopkins neuroscience professor named Roland Griffiths, one of the world's leading caffeine experts, sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urging it to require specific caffeine labeling in light of all the strange new caffeinated products. Nearly 100 fellow scientists and public-health advocates signed the letter. Griffiths reminded the FDA that it has yet to decide on a 1997 petition filed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) requesting caffeine labeling.

The FDA has not yet responded to Griffiths. FDA spokesman Michael Herndon told me in an e-mail that the CSPI petition is still "active and pending." When I asked why it has taken 11 years - so far - to review it, he replied, "Some petitions may take longer depending on agency workload and complexity of the issue."

But caffeine labeling is not a complex issue. Consumers should be able to make informed choices; people should know that a Starbucks venti drip coffee can have as much as 400 mg of caffeine.

Griffiths says there's no good epidemiological data yet to show whether the new caffeinated food and hygiene products are affecting public health. But he does worry about one group that can readily access these products: kids.

Doctors recommend that prepubescent kids not have any caffeine, and yet caffeinated candies and gums and chips have strong appeal for kids. Earlier this year, four middle-school boys in Broward County, Fla., had to go to the hospital after drinking energy drinks. The boys were sweating so much that school officials thought they might be having heart attacks.

That's an extreme but not isolated case. Those boys probably wouldn't have paid much attention even if the drinks' labels did include caffeine content, but the rest of us should be able to calibrate our addictions with more information.


*Sleepy? Just grab that potato chip laced with caffeine. In the end all of us would be caffeine addict.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Shark Alert

Shark "Virgin Birth" Confirmed
Sara Goudarzi
for National Geographic News
October 10, 2008

A female blacktip shark in Virginia fertilized her own egg without mating with a male shark, new DNA evidence shows.

This is the second time scientists have used DNA testing to verify shark parthenogenesis—the process that allows females of some species to produce offspring without sperm. (Read about the first time.)

The female shark, dubbed Tidbit, died during a routine physical exam before the pregnancy was identified.

A necropsy—an animal autopsy—after her death revealed she was carrying a near-term pup fetus that was about 12 inches (30 centimeters) in length.

Tidbit was caught in the wild when she was very young and reached sexual maturity in a tank at the Virginia Aquarium in Virginia Beach, where she lived for eight years.

"The interesting thing about that was there were no male blacktip sharks in the tank for the entire time of her captivity," said Demian Chapman, a researcher with the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at Stony Brook University in New York.

"So the question is, where does this baby come from?" he asked.

Chapman is the lead author of a study on the female blacktip in the latest issue of the Journal of Fish Biology.

DNA fingerprinting

Chapman and his colleagues generated a DNA fingerprint for the mother shark and her pup fetus with a procedure identical to a human paternity test.

Ordinarily, a shark's DNA contains some genetic material from its mother and some from its father. Tidbit's pup, however, was not ordinary.

"Every part of the fingerprint of the embryo comes from the mother," Chapman said. "In other words, there is no genetic material from a father."

"Virgin Births"

All non-mammal vertebrate species are theoretically capable of parthenogenesis, scientists say. Examples have been documented in komodo dragons (read story), pythons, rattlesnakes, chickens, and turkeys.

Parthenogenesis is not possible in humans because if all the genetic material comes from the mother, certain genes will be switched off, and the embryo won't develop.

"For sharks in captivity, [parthenogenesis] has probably occurred more times than has been documented," says Robert Hueter, director of the Center for Shark Research at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida.

The question then becomes, is parthenogenesis a type of developmental anomaly or a response to the female shark not having a mate in captivity?

"The fact that only one shark embryo was formed may suggest that this is more a case of an egg developmental aberration rather than a physiological response to the lack of a mate," said Hueter, who was not involved with the study.

No Variation

Normally, an embryo is formed when an egg containing half its chromosomes is fertilized by a sperm containing the other half.

When an egg cell is formed, a plant or female animal also produces three other cells called polar bodies. In the type of parthenogenesis observed in sharks, one of those cells behaves like a sperm and fertilizes the egg.

"But that cell is genetically identical to the egg," Chapman said. "So that's where you lose a lot of genetic variation."

Offspring produced by parthenogenesis are not exact clones of their mothers, however, because the genetic material is mixed differently.

Still, researchers believe the risk of congenital defects increases in animals whose DNA lack genetic variation.

"There's an increased risk of having a weakened immune system and there's a risk of reproductive abnormalities," Chapman said. "But in some cases, they'll be able to survive."

The scientists have not ruled out the possibility that increased stress from the abnormal pregnancy contributed to Tidbit's death.


*Kuasa tuhan. Reminded me of a line in original Jurassic Park movie when a character said, 'Nature will find a way' or something along that line.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Imagine There's No Country

Bruce Springsteen performs during a rally Sunday, Oct. 5, 2008, on the campus of Ohio State University, in Columbus, Ohio. Springsteen was in town to encourage Barack Obama supporters to register and take advantage of Ohio (AP Photo/Terry Gilliam)

Where Have all the Protest Singers Gone?

by Tony Hicks

One would think the time is ripe for an explosion of protest music.

We're witnessing what pundits are calling a historic presidential race at a time when even the party holding the Oval Office admits that a big dose of change is needed. We've been at war on two fronts for years with no end in sight, while there's less than a month to go in the election. The economy appears to be in free fall. The race is close, and the rhetoric is heating up fast as each side lobs verbal grenades at each other almost daily.

So where are all the protest songs, calling for one brand of change over the other?

Protest music is rare from conservative artists, but even the liberals songwriters seem to be sitting this one out.

"People are overwhelmed by the corruption of our government," says Paul Kantner, a founding member of Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship, who just released a new Starship record, "Jefferson's Tree of Liberty. "They don't think their vote counts "... people don't have enough faith."

In other words, even if we have two new candidates promising change from an outgoing and unpopular administration, it might just be that musicians aren't feeling they can make a difference, especially after the outpouring of activism in 2004.

That was the year John Kerry had the support of Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam and Dave Matthews, among other big-name artists, performing on the "Vote for Change" tour. Linda Ronstandt was grabbing headlines for speaking out in the face of open hostility at many of her shows. It was the year that gave us songs like Ani DiFranco's "Animal," the Beastie Boys' "It Takes Time to Build," and the Roots' "Why (What's Goin' On?)," among others.

Even two years later, just in time for midterm Congressional elections, there was still an echo of the outrage, most notably in Neil Young's "Living With War" record and his passionate summer tour with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

Some of the stalwarts are still around, such as Bruce Springsteen, doing benefits for Barack Obama. And bands that are almost always political, like Bad Religion, are still addressing the issues. Punk singer-songwriter Ted Leo just wrote and recorded a four-song EP after witnessing the treatment of protesters at the Republican convention, the timing of which made it only available on his Web site. And people like John Legend and Billy Joel have also appeared at events.

But all in all, the desperation that was apparent among artists willing to sing protest songs four years ago is largely absent at this year's political crunch time.

"There's baggage to becoming a protest singer," says Chris Walla, guitarist for Death Cab For Cutie and an admitted political junkie, whose band has played Obama rallies. "Because of the media portrayal of the protests, nobody wants to be associated with it. I don't think it would work with our audience all that well."

Plus, Walla says, there's a strong perception that, unlike Kerry in 2004, Obama doesn't need the help. And there's no George W. Bush in the race to focus on.

"When your candidate is a rock star on his own, why does he need Death Cab for Cutie?" Walla says. "What Obama needs is 'Rednecks for Obama.'"

Nathan Berg, a professor of economics and sociology at the University of Texas at Dallas, is the singer for the Halliburtons, one of the few bands out there continuously making political music.

"It's noticeably more quiet regarding the musical discourse this year," he says. "I think there are those of us who thought 2004 was important and thought things would change. It's hard to see strong rebuttal for pessimism."

Berg speculates that Kerry's loss deflated musicians. They're getting change one way or another this year, which de-focuses years of targeting President George W. Bush.

"My band played at Dealey Plaza on the anniversary of the Iraq war, but I'm feeling my time is better spent speaking as an economist and social scientist," says Berg, whose band has toured Ireland and Germany. "There's actually much more of an anti-Bush and anti-war scene in Europe." There's also some low-level recorded activism, coming at a lower profile from groups like metal band Testament and bluegrass group the Del McCoury Band, an indication of big names laying low this year. McCoury's new record is called "Moneyland."

Kanter says that with each passing year, technological distractions and a corporate media unwilling to take chances make it more difficult for musicians to make a difference.

"People are overwhelmed by modern times," he says. "There's an overflow of information and they become confused. In the '60s we thought we could change the world - and we did change some of it," he says. "People today don't have that hope."


*American artiste always play a part in their democratic process. I wonder when will our so called artiste will do the same. I guess never, since our government don't really encourage art. And our so called Karyawan was busy protesting Shah Rukh Khan's Datukship (awarded by State of Malacca), protesting the so called Indonesian bands invasion than concentrating on their arts., which led to the 90:10 quota (what about western artistes? they got more airplay right).The solution is simple, make better music, produce better film and then our own citizens will appreciate you.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Animal Instinct

Leopard savaging a crocodile caught on camera
The Telegraph

The astonishing spectacle of a leopard savaging a crocodile has been captured for the first time on camera.

A series of incredible pictures taken at a South African game reserve document the first known time that a leopard has taken on and defeated one of the fearsome reptiles.

The photographs were taken by Hal Brindley, an American wildlife photographer, who was supposed to be taking pictures of hippos from his car in the Kruger National Park.

The giant cat raced out of cover provided by scrub and bushes to surprise the crocodile, which was swimming nearby.

A terrible and bloody struggle ensued. Eventually, onlookers were amazed to see the leopard drag the crocodile from the water as the reptile fought back.

With the crocodile snapping its powerful jaws furiously, the two animals somersaulted and grappled. Despite the crocodile's huge weight and strength, the leopard had the upper hand catching its prey by the throat.

Eventually the big cat was able to sit on top of the reptile and suffocate it.
In the past, there have been reports of crocodiles killing leopards, but this is believed to the first time that the reverse scenario has been observed.

Mr Brindley said: 'I asked many rangers in South Africa if they had ever heard of anything like this and they all said no.

'It just doesn't make sense. The meat you get out of a crocodile is just not worth the risk it takes a predator to acquire. The whole scene happened in the course of about 5 minutes. Then the leopard was gone.

'I drove away, elated in disbelief. It may have been the most amazing thing I've ever seen.'

Ellie Rose, a reptile keeper at London Zoo, said: 'Normally, crocodiles are well able to defend themselves against attack. I can't think of any examples of this happening before.'


*I had nightmare about croc the other day. Maybe because i read this article.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Stuff For Sale

Fender Stratocaster MIM (Tortoise Shell Pickguard, Dimarzio Dual Sound Humbucker) - RM2200
BOSS OD-3 Overdrive - RM250
BOSS TM-7 Guitar Monitor - RM200
MXR Dyna Comp - RM280
Gator Deluxe Hardcase - RM200

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Bitter Football Fans

Aku tak faham betul these so called fanatics football fans (MU, Arsenal and Chelsea fans in particular) When my team draw or lose a game (LFC, C'mon You Reds!!), they love to sms me with msg putting down my team, and i'll reply every single sms that i got. But when their team lost or drew a game and I sms them, hmmmm takde pun nak reply balik (yes mirul thats you hahahaha) Apasal tak sporting langsung ni? Time LFC kalah ke seri ke bukan main lagi eh. C'mon la it's just a game apa.

Satu lagi pada pundits kat ESPNStar. Kalau team lain playing badly and won they will say that, the team showed Champions mentality etc etc but when LFC doing the same they will put us down some more (not good enough to be champion etc, etc) Apa yg dengki sangat dengan LFC ni? Aku tau la LFC is the most succesful team in English Football (18 League titles, 5 European Cups, 3 UEFA cups) at least give us some credit la.

Seperti aku cakap kat semua org Jatuh Bangun Bersama Liverpool FC hahahaha

C'mon You Reds!!! You'll Never Walk Alone...

Now It's Glory 'Round The Fields Of Anfield Roads...