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Astronomy Picture of the Day


Saturday, March 1, 2008

These Kids Will Certainly Make You Smile

I just love kids. I adore it when they do things without a clue. It is innocent and it is pure. I hope these images will help you in some way to get rid of your stress, even if it’s for the time being. Enjoy….

( Sorry mom! That guy just gave me 5 bucks to do this. Sorry! )
( This sack really makes the slide scaryyyyyyyyyyyy )
( Dont’ worry Dad, it’s hot here. You are just sweating )
( No water park? No problem! )
( Whoever passes out first will get their face painted. Shouldn’t have drank so much Sucker! )
( That’s what you get for jumping into the water. It’s time to dry )
( Now I know why cats can’t be trained as good as dogs )
( Well, Well. It was just one time. I won’t skip class again. Would you stop it now ? )
( Hey you are cute. What’s your number? )
( Dog - A baby’s best friend )
( I hope nobody catches me )
( Mom, we are watering the plants just like you asked us to )
( Me first, me first )
( Ok! what just happened? )
( Bigger than your’s )
( Can you do this? )
( I got you )
( If frogs ever become endangered, we know why )
( This is why I have more balls than you )
( I love watermelon. I ain’t sharing, you pig )
( I will fix it mom. I know how to do it )
( How come he gets all the beef and chicken and I have to settle for milk )

If you enjoyed these images please subscribe. There will be something each weekend that will make you laugh or at least smile.

Original here

Will the Prince Turn Pauper?

Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei once was one of the wealthiest men in the world. Now he's worried he may soon be homeless and forced into bankruptcy.

"They want me to give it all back," he says, flanked by giant Dutch landscape paintings and billowing gold drapery in the cavernous living room of his London villa, where he resides with one of his three wives and two of his 18 children. "We don't know where we are going to live."

Prince Jefri Bolkiah, the younger brother of the Sultan of Brunei and once one of the wealthiest men in the world, is worried he may soon be homeless and be forced into bankruptcy. WSJ's Mark Maremont reports.

The 53-year-old younger brother of the Sultan of Brunei, Prince Jefri is on the losing end of one of the world's most colorful family feuds. It started a decade ago, when the prince was stripped of his government roles and later accused by Brunei authorities of misappropriating $14.8 billion of the royal treasury's money.

He denies that, but there's no doubt much had been expended on Prince Jefri's famously sybaritic lifestyle. The jet-setting prince bought mansions around the world, amassed a fleet of 1,700 luxury cars and acquired a 180-foot yacht that he named using a slang word for female breasts.

The Sultan since then has waged a legal siege on three continents to reclaim Prince Jefri's considerable riches. The Sultan scored a decisive victory late last year, when Britain's Privy Council -- which hears final legal appeals from Brunei, a former British protectorate -- ruled that the prince needed to abide by a 2000 agreement to return nearly all his remaining holdings.

On Tuesday, Prince Jefri effectively lost control of his most valuable remaining asset, the New York Palace Hotel, an opulent 55-story property formerly known as the Helmsley Palace. The Brunei government took ownership of the hotel following a New York court order. But the judge has restricted it from selling the property pending the outcome of further proceedings and the prince is disputing the change in control.

"Brothers should get along with each other," the New York judge, Justice Helen Freedman, admonished the lawyers for the warring royals at a recent hearing. Justice Freedman jokingly threatened to refer the case to a domestic-violence court.

Wealthy families often have squabbled over money. The Koch brothers of Kansas spent years in court in the 1980s and '90s, battling over their family's giant oil pipeline concern. In 2001, Chicago's Pritzker family decided to divvy up its $20 billion fortune after a bitter dispute among siblings and cousins. But Prince Jefri's experience represents one of the largest fortunes ever lost.

In the New York hearing, one of Prince Jefri's lawyers, Philip Le B. Douglas, likened the idea of Prince Jefri working for a living to Russian aristocrats who "froze to death" after being forced to sweep the streets without winter clothes following the 1917 revolution. The prince, Mr. Douglas said, "has had unimaginable wealth all of his life. Now he's going to go and bus tables?"

The Sultan's advisers have started legal proceedings to evict Prince Jefri from his London mansion, and the sides continue to wrangle over the fate of the Hotel Bel-Air, an upscale property in the Los Angeles hills still controlled by the prince.

"I spend too much time with lawyers," sighs Prince Jefri, a trim, soft-spoken man with a dapper moustache. He says he's "more or less agreed" to turn over the various assets, but is still hoping his brother the Sultan will let him keep enough money to maintain a more modest version of his prior lifestyle.

The government of Brunei doesn't seem inclined to go along. "Prince Jefri signed an agreement and he should stick to it," says Lindsay Marr, a London-based attorney for the Brunei Investment Agency, a government-owned fund. "Why should he be allowed to keep a large amount of money that wasn't his in the first place?"

Prince Jefri already has turned over billions of dollars worth of property, including the Plaza Athénée hotel in Paris, the giant yacht, the car collection, and more than 100 paintings by Picasso, Renoir, Modigliani and others. Late last year, he surrendered five rare diamonds, secured in a London vault, valued at roughly $200 million.

Situated in southeast Asia, Brunei is a small, oil-rich nation of 374,000 people on the northern coast of the island of Borneo, surrounded by part of Malaysia. The Sultan, Hassanal Bolkiah, is an absolute monarch who has ruled the Islamic enclave since 1967. Forbes ranks him as the world's wealthiest ruler, with an estimated fortune of $22 billion.

Prince Jefri -- whose full name is Duli Yang Teramat Mulia Paduka Seri Pengiran Digadong Sahibul Mal Pengiran Muda Haji Jefri Bolkiah -- is the youngest of the Sultan's three brothers. For many years, he was finance minister and chairman of the Brunei Investment Agency, which is charged with investing much of the country's wealth. Under Prince Jefri, some of the BIA's money went to improving infrastructure, he says.

But much of the BIA's money went to Prince Jefri. According to court documents, the prince spent $475 million on Rolls Royce cars, $78 million at Italian sports-car company Pininfarina SpA, and $900 million at British jeweler Asprey. He liked Asprey so much that in 1995 he bought the company, for $385 million. A firm owned by Prince Jefri paid $202 million for the Helmsley Palace hotel in 1993, using BIA funds.

The Bruneian royal aircraft fleet -- split between the Sultan and Prince Jefri -- contained 10 jets, including a Boeing 747 and an Airbus A-340, according to 1996 insurance documents. A 45-page list of individual recipients shows that scores of people benefited from Prince Jefri's generosity, from ministers to royal relatives to servants. One of Prince Jefri's fathers-in-law received $23 million in BIA funds; his badminton coach and acupuncturist each were paid $1.8 million.

Prince Jefri also amassed a world-class art collection. Under his tenure, the BIA paid $24 million for a Manet and $20.5 million for a Renoir, according to records filed in British court. The prince's favorite, though, was Edgar Degas: "I like the brilliant color and heavy stroke," he says. He bought at least 21 paintings by the French Impressionist artist, according to court documents.

Prince Jefri seems bewildered by the accusation that he misspent $14.8 billion. "It's not that easy to hide," he says. "I keep asking the lawyers, 'Where did it go?'"

Some of the Rolls Royce cars, he says, were used as a kind of "transport pool" for the 20-odd royal guest houses in Brunei. "We'd provide our guests with a car and a backup car, so they didn't have to rent from anybody."

The prince says his brother the Sultan was aware of much of the spending. For example, Prince Jefri says he spent several years building himself a sprawling beachfront palace in Brunei, with a sports complex. "He knew it was built," the prince says. "My civil list [government allowance] is only $20,000 U.S. per month. You can't build a house for that."

Prince Jefri says the Sultan would sometimes come over to his palace after one of their frequent badminton matches, and admire a newly-bought Picasso or Degas on the wall. "He'd say, 'Nice painting. Could you transfer this today?" to the Sultan's own palace -- a 1,788 room edifice that covers 49 acres.

Messages sent to officials in Brunei and its embassy in Washington seeking comment weren't returned.

In 1997, depressed oil prices triggered a financial crisis in Brunei. The Sultan's people brought in Arthur Andersen accountants to comb through the investment agency's books, leading to Prince Jefri's ouster.

Prince Jefri doesn't deny spending some of the BIA's money, but claims in court documents that the Sultan also received billions of dollars in "Special Transfers" from the government agency to his personal bank accounts. Britain's Privy Council, in its ruling last year, put the total at $8 billion.

At one point, Prince Jefri said in an affidavit, the Sultan asked him to set up a bank account under a pseudonym, "so that the monies would not be traced to His Majesty or [appear] to have originated from the BIA." The prince said that $700 million was transferred to the Sultan this way in a single transaction.

Responding to Prince Jefri's allegations about the Sultan's finances, a lawyer acting for the Brunei government said in a 2005 affidavit that they were "irrelevant" and didn't constitute a defense against claims that the prince had purchased assets for his own benefit with state funds.

In May 2000, Prince Jefri agreed to settle the misappropriation charges that Brunei brought against him, avoiding any possibility of criminal prosecution. In return for the prince's agreement to hand over nearly all of his wealth, the government pledged to let Prince Jefri keep an official and a private residence in Brunei, and agreed to set up a $200 million trust fund to cover certain of his liabilities, but not his living expenses.

Both sides accuse the other of breaching the pact. The Brunei government says Prince Jefri has refused to return the most valuable overseas possessions, including the London villa, a sumptuous residence in Paris's Place Vendôme, a Cayman Islands trust fund with more than $100 million in cash, and the two U.S. hotels. In total, the assets likely are worth more than $1.5 billion.

Prince Jefri says he shouldn't have to surrender those assets until he's sure the Brunei government will live up to its end of the bargain. The government currently controls his homes in Brunei, and there is a dispute over which ones it is obliged to return to the prince. He maintains that his official residence is the beachfront palace he built, known as Assana. The Brunei government disagrees, saying a smaller residence is the prince's official one.

In any case, Prince Jefri says regaining the Brunei palaces won't do him much good. In exile since 2004, he says he can't return to his native land and "it's hard to sell that kind of house in Brunei." He'd rather have their value in cash.

Prince Jefri also worries about whether the Brunei government will live up to its promise to pay a big capital-gains tax due from the transfer of the New York Palace Hotel. "I will probably have to go bankrupt" if it doesn't, he says.

Mr. Marr, the London lawyer, says the Brunei government is obliged under the settlement to cover those taxes "and intends to do so." He also says he knows of no reason why Prince Jefri can't return to Brunei.

Prince Jefri's living expenses are considerable. He's married to three women and divorced from two others. His fifth wife, the former Claire Kelly, is a New Zealand native. They have two young boys, who live with their mother in St. John's Lodge, the London villa.

Prince Jefri says he worries about paying for the studies of his many children, some of whom are studying abroad. "Some of the mothers will be able to afford the children, some not." Court records say that his first four wives received a total of $158 million of BIA funds over the years, although the Brunei government may have reclaimed some of that.

Asked how many mothers there are, the prince starts ticking them off: "There's one in Singapore, one in the Philippines, one in England, one in Las Vegas...." He counts seven in all. "I just want some income to move on and look after the children," he says.

On a recent day, Prince Jefri gives a tour of St. John's Lodge, an imposing white villa dating to the early 19th century, situated inside Regent's Park. The prince's polo boots and mallets are laid out on the table in the formal dining room, which could easily seat 40 people. A child's train set has taken over a sitting room, and strollers are pushed to a corner in the magnificent front hall, where a bodyguard hovers. Portraits of the Sultan and the Sultan's wife sit on a side table.

"It's just a matter of time" before the family has to leave, the prince says.

While in Brunei, Prince Jefri says his favorite car to drive was a Ferrari 550, a sleek sports coupe that he would take for a spin late at night when the roads were quiet. Now, he says, "I like the Mini." He drives a black one around London.

Original here

CCTV footage of firebomb attack on nightclub - Atherton

Roommate Alien Prank Goes Bad

Chad is terrified of Aliens, so of course his roommates decide to torment him relentlessly at all hours of the night. But eventually the prank goes from funny to freaky.

Kids Songs Sung By Rock Stars

If you get sick of listening to crappy songs for kids then you'll love Kidz Rock, nursery rhymes sung by a wide variety of popular artists and rock stars.

Pirates vs. Ninjas!!! (ninjas are cooler)

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The World’s Biggest Spiderweb

This might be one of the biggest, if not the biggest spiderweb ever found. This huge web was found covering 180 meters of trees and bushes by the employees of park Lake Tawakoni in Texas. It’s not yet clear if this “work of art” has been made by a single or a colony of spiders. The web was initially white, but turned dark when all the mosquitoes got caught in it. Also, nothing was said about the species of spider found at the location. Until further information is provided, here is the huge white web.

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Paternal dog Billy takes on an unusual kid

A paternal dog has adopted an abandoned baby goat as his surrogate child.

Billy the boxer has become the constant companion of the 12-day old kid called Lilly. He sleeps with the goat, licks her clean, and protects her from any dangers at Pennywell Farm wildlife centre at Buckfastleigh, near Totnes, Devon.

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Billy and Lilly have formed a close bond

The kid was abandoned by her mother when she was only a few hours old and adopted by paternal Billy when his owner Elizabeth Tozer began hand rearing the goat.

The unusual bond has developed over the last month and the pair are now inseparable.

Elizabeth said: "Lilly follows Billy around which is really quite amusing to watch and Billy sleeps with the goat and cleans her mouth after she feeds."

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Billy the boxer protects his little kid

Lilly was the smallest of a litter of three kids and her mother abandoned her because she could only care for the two stronger ones. The pair have attracted quite a crowd at the animal centre and the staff are keen to see how their relationship will develop.

Orihinal here

Judge sentences Australian who sparked police siege when no one called on his birthday

A man who held police at bay during a 12-hour siege because no one phoned on his birthday was sentenced Thursday by an Australian court to six months in prison.

Ashley Martin Hurst, 32, pleaded guilty in the District Court of Queensland state in the east coast city of Brisbane to charges including going armed in public to cause fear.

Hurst brandished knives and taunted police to shoot him at a house in Ipswich, west of Brisbane, on June 22, 2006 _ his birthday.

Judge Helen O'Sullivan said Hurst deserved a prison sentence because he had distressed police.

"I'm told the reason you did this is no one rang you on your birthday," Judge O'Sullivan said.

"Those who threaten police officers must expect custody," she added.

She acknowledged Hurst had a history of mental illness and drug and alcohol abuse problems.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Hoaxer free as 999 therapy fails

Thelma Dennis
Therapy meant Thelma Dennis had electrodes taped to her fingers
A woman who has made hoax 999 calls for 24 years escaped another jail term because shock treatment to break the addiction failed and she reoffended.

Thelma Dennis, 50, from Mountain Ash, Cynon Valley, has been prosecuted 60 times, Cardiff Crown Court heard.

She agreed to electrode therapy which left her screaming in pain every time she dialled the third "9" of 999.

But the court heard that it failed and she rang police claiming a bomb had been planted in her local supermarket.

Prosecutor Richard Ace said Dennis had called police control alleging there was a bomb at the Iceland store in Mountain Ash.

Mr Ace said: "Pc Robert Pike went to her address an hour after the call.

She's sorry and has genuine remorse
Jane Rowley, defending

"She had got a long history of similar incidents and had been prosecuted 60 times for these type of offences of making bomb hoax calls and threats to kill."

Cardiff Crown Court heard Dennis has already been to jail twice for making the false calls.

Jane Rowley, defending, said: ¿She has been making these calls for 24 years. She's sorry and has genuine remorse."

An earlier hearing was told Dennis had agreed to be wired to an electrode machine to control her hoax call obsession.

Electrodes were taped to her fingers while doctors told her to dial 999 on a specially rigged-up phone.

Clearly this is a person who has an urge to make these hoax calls particularly when she drinks
Judge Recorder Ian Murphy

Dennis was left screaming in pain as an electric current shot through her body every time she dialled the final digit.

But the shock treatment failed to cure her addiction, and she appeared back in court after making another hoax call.

She was given a 12-month supervision order after admitting communicating false information about a bomb threat.

The judge, Recorder Ian Murphy, said: "Clearly this is a person who has an urge to make these hoax calls, particularly when she drinks."

The judge told Dennis he was not sending her to prison again because she had gone four years without reoffending.

But he warned her that if she returned to court again, there would be no choice but to jail her.

He added: "She alleged there was a bomb at the store which wasted valuable resources which was alarming for the store, its staff and its customers."

Original here

Greatest Police Car Escape Ever?

moonlighters300.jpgPolice arrested Taleon for possessing about a half-ounce of crack cocaine and a loaded .25-caliber automatic handgun. While handcuffed in the back of the moving car, Taleon smashed out the rear window by head-butting it, police said. He then dove through the window and its steel frame, causing $1,800 in damage, Kunkel said.

After landing on his face, Taleon rose to his feet and, while still handcuffed, fled on foot and into a nearby pond, police said.

“He swam across like Flipper, taunting the officers saying, ‘You’ll never catch me,’ ” Kunkel said.

Indeed, they didn’t. Two officers were injured while chasing Taleon. A week later, he turned himself in. But he didn’t return the department’s handcuffs, Kunkel said.

Jesus Christ! Head butting through the window of a moving car and then flipper kicking away!? That is ri-goddamn-diculous. They say it was a pond but that must have been one big ass pond if the officers couldn’t run around to the other side and catch him when he got out.

The story does get better. This dynamic identical twin duo are not only online gay-porn stars but they have also been arrested by a Roof Top Burgarly Task force investigating 40 rooftop burgarlies that have occured in the Phileadelphia area over the last 18 months. The two gay-porn/criminal masterminds where caught breaking into a beauty saloon through the roof using an axe and a hacksaw.

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Teens grounded by manners, not by looks

Passed by for a beverage? Waiting for the lavatory? You can still be polite

Long ago, when I was deep into the ugly duckling phase of my teen years, my mom would remind me that “beauty is only skin deep” and suggest I focus on being smart and nice instead.

Sort of a mixed message, sure, but definitely not the “just stand there, look pretty and stamp your feet if you want something” instructions Nisreen Swedberg and Sarah Williams seem to have received.

Police were called in to escort these two 18-year-olds off a Tampa-to-Los Angeles flight operated by Southwest Airlines this past Valentine's Day. The duo had caused an in-flight disruption. And these days, when that happens, airlines and law enforcement officials don't mess around.

What caused the ruckus? Well, it seems that first Swedberg felt sorely dissed by not being served water before take-off and then getting skipped over during the in-flight beverage service. Then Williams needed to use the lavatory, but found it occupied. Either she really had to go, or she's not accustomed to having to wait — regardless, witnesses say she banged on the door and then got into a heated exchange with the passenger who finally emerged from the bathroom.

Southwest Airlines spokesperson Beth Harbin says the police were called in to meet the flight in Los Angeles because “the girls were verbally abusive to another customer ... using profanities ... and getting in his face.”

Airplanes, especially full 737s, are very contained spaces, Harbin emphasized, and situations like this capture everyone's attention. “You cannot let an incident elevate in that environment. Flight attendants are asked to contain and calm situations as quickly as they can. But at 30,000 feet we don't have the opportunity to just ask someone to leave.”

Although it sounds like that would have been an appealing option.

The young women have a different take on the story — one they were all too happy to share with a local TV station in Tampa Bay. As the camera panned up her legs, past her brightly manicured nails and off-the-shoulder blouse, Nisreen Swedberg calmly explained how unfairly she'd been treated, how she didn't feel as if she'd done anything wrong and that she was surely singled out “based on my looks.” On the phone, Swedberg's friend, Sarah Williams, told the TV reporter, “I think they were just discriminating against [us] because we were young, decent-looking girls. I mean, nobody else on the plane looked like us — except us.”

Get a clue
Ladies, it wasn't that you were “too pretty to fly.” You were too rude. And, sadly, stereotypically clueless. However, you're not alone. There are plenty of other travelers — novice and experienced, pretty and not so pretty — who sometimes forget their manners. So here are a few very simple tips to keep in mind.

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What happens when the woman proposes

Just when a chap gets comfy in a long-term relationship, along comes the day he dreads - when she can propose

Close-up of a two tier wedding cake with bride and groom figures placed on top

Today tradition permits women to pop the question to men. This custom has dubious origins. In 5th-century Ireland, St Bridget, then the Mother Superior of a nunnery, demonstrated her ignorance by complaining to St Patrick that men took too long to propose, and that women should have an opportunity. Refusal hit the chap in his pocket to the tune of a 100-punt fine, which sounds like a small fortune

But this is small fry compared with how much a modern guy can lose if he says “yes”. A long-term relationship with a woman who doesn't display signs of borderline personality disorder can be fantastic. It offers companionship of the “you and me against the world - we attack at dawn” kind, foible-driven sex, a pleasant-smelling home, admission to your social set's “couples only” dining club, and the cool confidence needed when dealing with work experience girls in backless dresses.

In the 21st century it's not uncommon for couples to go as far as procreating and/or mortgaging without tying the knot. We men love to jam ourselves into a cosy little rut - witness the indentation of our butts upon the sofa - so the functional long-term relationship is pretty much an ideal situation. But wedlock comes with financial obligation. The bottom line is: if you're married, she can have half your money. Maybe more.

“I expect that more women than ever will be proposing in 2008,” says Dr Sheri Jacobson, a relationship counsellor at Harley Therapy in London. “I think that attitudes are shifting and there's more room for women to assert themselves.” How much more room can there be? “Women might seize on this chance to propose if they were already entertaining the idea and either want to get things moving quicker, use it to express their deep affection, or feel they want to take charge.”

But don't forget the real reason. “They may also have in mind that it might make for a good story when recounting a proposal to friends.”

When it comes to matters of the heart I'm a complete coward. As are most men. The most successful cowards operate by avoiding terrifying situations - such as being proposed to - before they even arise. So here are some sure-fire ways to avoid today's doomsday scenario.

Preparation is key: before you read this article you should already have employed some short and long-term tactics, such as bonding with her creepy stepfather over a shared admiration of the radio host Jon Gaunt, or insisting that easier trips to Ikea is no good reason to buy a car.

Avoid Wales: the alarm bells should have started ringing the second that she suggested going on a romantic sojourn, but girlfriends bang on so much about overpriced hotel breaks that you could be forgiven for missing a trick here. However, if she has booked you into the Lake Vyrnwy Hotel, you're screwed: the hotel is offering a special package today whereby if you say “yes”, it will give the pair of you a complimentary bottle of grand cru (they don't say which grand cru, but it is Wales). “However...” continues the blurb, ominously, “if he says no, burly hotel staff will escort him from the premises and present you with a cuddly Welsh dragon, a box of tissues and some chocolates to comfort you.” She still gets the bottle of grand cru - although maybe the hotel will switch it to a sparkling rosé, the husband-famished modern girl's favourite tipple, instead.

Head to Greece: the Greeks believe it's bad luck to marry during a leap year, which may be enough to put the notion out of her superstitious little head.

Oversee all activities: considering that you can't even cower at work, where colleagues will be more than happy to conspire in your emasculation, you'll have to go all-out to find some place where she can't pop the question. You are not even safe taking your nephews to the local branch of Games Workshop for a few rounds of Warhammer - she will get the shop assistant nerds to let her write “Will you marry me?” underneath all their area of effect-damage templates (ask nephews). Only a modern “high-class” orgy will dampen her plans - the last thing she wants is for your (inevitable, gutless) acceptance to be celebrated by a round of applause from a bunch of naked “heedonists”, as Larry David calls them. Don't admit that it's an orgy either. When she brings up the fact that everyone's getting it on, say: “Sex party? What are you talking about? These are my friends from university.” Then offer her a bowl of fusty peanuts.

Definitely avoid soap operas: last time round, in 2004, Stephanie Smith won a competition organised by The Sun and Nescafé Gold Blend. The prize was a prerecorded proposal, introduced by Cat Deeley, that went out during the commercials in Coronation Street. A bewildered Adam Roll said “yes” - after blithering “What have you done?” - and a Sun man bearing champagne was knocking on the door straight away.

Avoid even football: if you watch Corrie with your girlfriend, your fate is probably sealed. But you aren't safe even at a Scottish football match. Carrie Gattens used the scoreboard at Celtic Park in Glasgow to propose to her boyfriend, Celtic fan Gary Blease. “Gary ... will you marry me?” came up on the giant plasma screens. “I can't say I answered straightaway,” murmured a sheepish Blease afterwards. He eventually said “Yes”, of course.

Scorched-earth policy: a friend romances by the maxim: “When it comes to women, always do the exact opposite of what you think you should do.” So if you want to get out of her proposal, say “yes”. Seize her in a manly embrace. Present her with your grandmother's engagement ring and tell her that it's only a stop-gap until you get to Paris (to buy a “proper one”), but that she can keep it anyway. Get Vivienne Westwood to make you up four swords with her orb on the hilt for your ushers. Book Skibo castle. Your fiancée will undoubtedly call it all off, citing that the relationship was so “intense” that it must also be “destructive”.

Don't count on a silver lining: you won't even have the advantage of not having to shell out for a ring. She will take advantage of the numb state that will envelop you when you realise that you've been had and could do nothing about it. And besides, you may be surprised to know that a tradition dreamt up by other chicks doesn't insist that the woman buy the ring. Suzanne Kelly proposed to her husband Eamon during what would otherwise have been a magical trip to Florence in 1992. “After he recovered, we found a jeweller and he bought me a classic diamond solitaire,” chirruped Suzanne, smugly.

If this doesn't work: there's only one thing more unstoppable than a modern British woman, and that's a modern Russian woman. Immediately arrange a business trip to Moscow. Shortly before the pricey and unnecessary engagement party, begin sending letters to yourself with the address in Russian (just put all the “Rs” the wrong way around). Simple text on the letters inside should read “I cannot stop thinking of the way you are not evil or a semifunctioning alcoholic. If you do not marry me, my brothers who have tattoos of partisans riding boars will kill you.” Russian women, highly educated by the former communist system, have a wonderful sense of humour forged in hardship and cooled in frozen vodka, and dress like transsexual prostitutes.Even the type of woman who proposes today - who, according to Dr Jacobson, “is likely to be confident, assertive and risktaking ... and, psychologically, likely to be resilient, since it takes a lot of courage to go against widespread practice”, will realise that she doesn't stand a chance and plump for some beta male (“he's so calm”) who works in a Majestic wine store.

But all this sniggering is really just to cover up the fact that, in truth, all proposals are made by women. “I haven't come across any instances where a woman has formally proposed,” says Dr Jacobson, “though I have heard of women inducing a proposal. In these cases it has been an explicit nudge for the man to get on with proposing.”

Anyone who has ever been in a relationship of more than a couple of years knows this. After a couple of dates, she works out whether you're boyfriend material (you usually are) and can be forced to watch the Hollyoaks omnibus. After 12 months, she decides that it's time for you to cohabit. And after two to three years, it's a ring or you're out.

A man proposing is merely an illusion of control, and getting down on one knee a cruel irony. Women have always made the decision to get married. It's just that on February 29, we have to acknowledge it completely.

Original here

Bud Light - Superbowl 2008 'Who Cut The Cheese'

6 Music Industry Tricks That Must Die

If the music industry really wants to save itself, it could start by doing away with all the bullshit. What bullshit, you ask? Here are six underhanded tricks that we could live without, and that our kids probably will.


Worst Offenders:

Kid Rock, Cher, Uncle Kracker, T-Pain

How it Caught On:

Frequently mistaken for a vocoder and more commonly known as "That Fucking Weird Computer Voice Thing," Auto-Tune is actually a brilliant piece of software. All you have to do is tell it which notes you're trying to hit while you're singing. When you fuck up, Auto-Tune makes the necessary adjustments so that you can pretend to be a good singer and a weird sounding robot at the same time. Obviously this has made it invaluable in the world of music.

Singers used to spend days trying to get their songs recorded perfectly, and studios charge by the hour. Some would record late at night when their vocal chords were more relaxed. Some (Rod Stewart) even gargled crew-members' love gravy to get that smooth, even tone (allegedly, but the kid who told us about it in high school also had the best weed, so it has to be true, right?). Auto-Tune has made it possible for performers to lower their recording budgets, get some rest, and sidestep such unfortunate homeopathic remedies.

Why it Must be Stopped:

Unfortunately, Auto-Tune has become the HGH of the recording industry. While we doubt that Kid Rock will be facing a grand jury for his blatant abuse of the software in the steaming turd of a song "Only God Knows Why," we can only hope that any future Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees who've received such a heaping dose of simulated talent will get an asterisk next to their names. Also, we hope that in the future, an asterisk will resemble a middle finger.

"That Fucking Weird Computer Voice Thing" has made it possible for every paparazzi sweetheart, pop culture freak of the week to record an album and assail our eardrums.

For too long, consumers had been duped into thinking that fame had some sort of direct correlation to talent. Auto-Tune provided yet another step down the road towards the inevitable day when Soldja Boi wins the Grammy in rap, R&B, adult contemporary and operatic solo.

Auto-Tune will be around as long as talented musicians and teenage girls who make men want to masturbate continue refusing to be the same person (allow us a moment to shake our fist at evolution). But rest assured that the current trend of making one's voice sound obviously computerized will not last much longer. Our guess is that, in time, That Fucking Weird Computer Thing will sound as dated as Jeopardy's Daily Double laser sound effect.


Worst Offenders:

Scott Weiland, Britney Spears, Amy Winehouse

How it Caught On:

In 2007, Paula Abdul appeared on a morning TV talk show, stoned out of her mind on what we imagine was a combination of oxycontin, absinthe, and Drano. This, of course, got people talking, videos YouTubed, and ratings boosted. In the music industry, there's no such thing as a drug scandal because we expect our musicians to be on drugs. We'd be a little disappointed if we found out they weren't. The downside is that publicists have figured out that checking your client into rehab is actually the cheapest way to drum up publicity, assuming the price of street drugs remains lower than whatever Nickelback's manager pays to get them into Rollingstone.

We are a nation of voyeurs, and there's nothing we like to watch more than celebrity sex tapes. But embarrassing celebrity drug freakouts come in a close second. And since sex tapes require that people actually want to watch you have sex (clearly not the case for two of our three worst offenders) chemical dependency is a much easier go-to. It should be noted that it's not as good an idea to combine drugs and sex tapes, as when a cracked out Tom Sizemore played power bottom to a hooker with an elephant trunk-sized slab of rubber strapped to her pelvis.

Why it Must be Stopped:

Repeat offenders have made going to rehab a joke. While regular-ass people rehabilitate in facilities that are just a step up from county jail, Britney Spears spends an extended weekend in Malibu, then Antigua, then Malibu again. These celebrities are giving real addicts a bad name. We'll start taking their problems seriously as soon as we see Scott Weiland barefoot, hauling ass down Sunset Boulevard, clutching a stolen DVD player.

On the other hand, being a regular person in rehab with a celebrity might not be so bad. If that celebrity is Lindsay Lohan, she'll probably have sex with you if you're a dude with a passably functioning penis. This is preferable to having sex with Lindsay Lohan in the bathroom at a club, because in rehab there will be medical help readily available when you come down with a mean case of Hepatitis F.

Songs About How California is Phony

Worst Offenders:

Red Hot Chili Peppers, Madonna, System of a Down

How it Caught On:

Those who faithfully follow rock stars do so because they feel a genuine, personal connection through the music. "Here is someone who's just like me," they think, "only better looking, rich and more prone to wearing black leather pants."

When you're a struggling musician, your life isn't that far off from other people: you're unsure of yourself, you're hung over, you get dumped for guys with better jobs (when you're a struggling musician, this includes the guy at the mall who paints himself silver and pretends to be a statue for two hours). Thus the rock star is able to write lyrics that almost anyone can relate to. Your girlfriend dumped you? There's a song for that. You're broke? There's a song for that too. You're married and you just realized that you're gay? R. Kelly wrote twenty-two songs for that.

However, it can become difficult for a performer to relate to his fans when he reaches a certain level of success. Those songs of struggle and heartbreak don't come as easily when the swedish bikini team is wiping your ass with hundred dollar bills in the back of a stretch Hummer limo.

That screaming horde of fans still loves their rock star, though. So much so that they'd trade anything to live his life. With that last remaining connection, the rock star pretends to be down to earth one last time with a song (or in the case of the Chili Peppers, three straight albums) about how California ain't all it's cracked up to be.

Why it Must be Stopped:

Ever since the overrated, pretentious, and ponderous "Hotel California," rock bands have tried to duplicate the Eagles' success. They'll sing ironic lyrics about the glamorous life and it's ugly underbelly, completely missing the irony that they've become exactly the sort of asshole their girlfriend used to leave them for. This is inevitable. It is simply very difficult to examine your own existence while spackling a hotel room with evidence for your future paternity suit.

Many of these songs are passed off as some sort of public service. If too many people are exposed to these contrived and cliched cautionary tales though, they may never have their dreams crushed by Hollywood, leading to the greatest restaurant-staffing crisis California has ever seen.

Vince Neil complained that Hollywood "fat cats" were going to "take our money and flush it down the drain" in Motley Crue's "Fake." Five years later he was singing a cover of "If I Die Tomorrow," through a face full of collagen implants. Fake, indeed.

Multiple Producers on One Album

Worst Offenders:

Velvet Revolver, Every rapper ever

How it Caught On:

Hip hop is rarely a one-man show. Generally, someone makes the beats, and someone else delivers the vocals. In old school hip hop, the bringer of beats was designated as the DJ, such as: DJ Jazzy Jeff, DJ for the Fresh Prince; Terminator X, DJ for Public Enemy; or SW1, DJ for In Living Color. These days, we call this person the Producer, because beat creation is no longer limited to turntables and samplers.

Not all producers are created equal though, and as a result of supply and demand, the best producers come with the highest price tags. Not to mention that Dr. Dre and Timbaland just don't have the time to make beats for every up-and-coming MC. In an attempt to spread the wealth, and launch as many careers as possible, record labels spread the talent around.

Why it Must be Stopped:

Ever bought a CD and wondered why the only good songs are the ones you already hear on the radio all the time? Check the credits. Chances are, the two that you like were produced by the same person, and the 13 you hate were produced by the performer's cousin. You can't help but feel betrayed, wondering if you've been the victim of some sort of prank a la

Too many fans have been swindled by this bait-and-switch tactic, and we've definitely caught on to the grift. Album sales continue to plummet while digital track sales are climbing. Consumers are sending the message that if you can only crank out one or two good songs, we're only going to buy one or two songs from you. When rappers start looking for someone to blame when they're popping Korbel instead of Cristal, they'll have to look no further than the reflection in the chrome wheels on their Chevy Cavaliers.

Featuring ...

Worst Offenders:

T-Pain, Akon, Li'l Jon

How it Caught On:

So how is a new act supposed to get noticed in a music scene that's more crowded than Tokyo? Why, by piggy-backing on an established artist by being "featured" on one of his tracks.

Or, what if you're stuck being a producer, forever in the shadows? You can get yourself "featured" in a track by popping in with an occasional "uh huh" or "yayuh!" If not for this, the world may never have learned the names of producers like Li'l Jon, Timbaland, or Sean John (we're told that's what we're supposed to call him this week).

Why it Must be Stopped:

It has come to a point where songs feature so many artists that the consumer can't figure out whose album to buy. Faced with a stack of CDs that could possibly contain the song in question, often the consumer will opt instead to just steal the song on the internet. This could result in heavy fines, jail time, and the feds looking through all that embarrassing shit on your hard drive, all thanks to the Recording Industry Association of America. So whether you steal 'em or buy 'em, you end up broke. See? Evil.

Established, respected artists have found that lending their name to someone else's song can indeed damage their reputations. Redman's appearance in Christina Aguilera's "Dirty" stripped him of the credibility that even those deodorant commercials couldn't tarnish.

Farewell Tours

Worst Offenders:

KISS, The Rolling Stones, Cher, The Who

How it Caught On:

These days, concert ticket sales are only slightly less abysmal than album sales. It's hardly surprising when you consider that many artists need computers to sound good, other artists to give them credibility, and a team of producers to write their music. If an act is good enough to garner interest from their fans after all of that, there's still the risk that your tickets will become worthless when the lead singer checks into rehab. What's the point of going through all that hassle when you only know two or three of their songs?

There are still some surviving acts that have a universal appeal, but those artists have reached such a level of success that their concert tickets cost an arm, a leg, and whichever reproductive organs you posses (for nosebleed seats). The only way for an artist to guarantee themselves a packed house this time around is to assure their fans that this will be the last time around.

Why it Must be Stopped:

As soon as a band sees the paycheck from their first farewell tour, they apparently rethink that whole retiring business. The Who did a farewell tour in 1983. KISS did theirs in 2000, and it lasted two years. The Rolling Stones' farewell tour started in 2005, lasted two years, and raked in $437,000,000. All three bands are planning tour dates for 2008, and many fans have already refinanced their homes to pay for the tickets (plus service charges).

Nothing rocks less than a farewell tour. When bands break up for real, it's because their pilot was still drunk from the night before and flew their plane into the side of a mountain. Or maybe the band members hate each other so much that they go their separate ways after an attempted murder/suicide and record unlistenable solo albums. Or how about just a near-fatal drug overdose where a band member finds Jesus and starts an Armageddon cult?

Literally anything rocks more than a farewell tour, where they might as well open things up with a little honesty:

"Are you ready to rock? Actually, we got burnt playing the markets in the last recession, so instead of rocking, why don't you give us all of your money for our 401k plans and kindly go home. And please leave quietly, all your shouting is scaring the bassist."

Miles Hlivko attempts to fool you with Auto-Tune in his song "Bedtime Pants (featuring Dick Knuckle)". You can hear it here.

Learn about some singers who have managed to trick themselves into thinking they're sexually desirable in our article on The 6 Singers Who Are Mistaken About Their Raw Sexuality then, find out about how Maxim manages to review albums before they've ever heard them (hint: it's either guessing or magic).

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