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Astronomy Picture of the Day


Monday, June 16, 2008

Bionic spine gives Chris Evans's dog a pain-free future

When vets told Chris Evans his beloved dog should be 'written off' after losing the feeling in its hind legs, the radio DJ refused to give up hope.

Enzo the German Shepherd had two herniated discs in his spine, leaving him paralysed and in pain.

His 42-year-old owner made sure he received the latest treatment - and now Enzo has a bionic spine.

Chris Evans

New life: Chris Evans's dog Enzo has regained the use of its back legs again

In a pioneering operation costing ?5,000, the nine-year-old dog had two bolts inserted in the middle of his spine to fuse two vertebrae.

The SpondyloFitz bolts - named after inventor Noel Fitzpatrick, the vet who performed the surgery on Enzo last month - have cured his pain and will stay in permanently.

The dog is having extensive physiotherapy and hydrotherapy in the hope that he can one day learn to walk again.

Evans told Dogs Today magazine: 'It was make or break. The procedure was potentially a highly dangerous one and one that to Noel's knowledge had never been carried out before.

'We're giving this our very best shot. Enzo's worth it. So long as he keeps making progress we'll keep trying.

'Without this latest operation we had no hope, now we have a glimmer. But we have to be realistic. It's his last chance.'

dog leg

Enzo is now resident at the Fitzpatrick-Referrals animal hospital in Referrals animal hospital in Surrey.

Before his operation he was completely paralysed but now he can use his back legs in the pool - although he is yet to support himself on land.

He is having four physiotherapy and hydrotherapy sessions a day to build up the muscles in his hind legs. Mr Fitzpatrick said: 'Chris's dog is a very difficult case and we may not be successful. He has a particularly bad form of spinal disease.

'At the moment we don't know if Enzo will ever walk again.

'He has a condition whereby several discs in his back dried out and over a period of time squashed his spinal cord.

'The nerves are inside the spinal cord and the bolts relieve the pressure on it. They fuse the vertebrae together. It is pain-free and the spinal cord can start to conduct again.

'The bolt pushes the vertebrae apart and relieves the sciatic nerve. The thing that will decide whether Enzo will walk again is whether the damage to the cord is permanent.'
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20 of the world's most expensive body parts

BeckhamWhose boobs are worth £350,000? Why did a South African soap manufacturer insure Princess Diana against "death, disability and disgrace" to the tune of £50,000? And whose partying lifestyle has left them virtually uninsurable?

Stars have been insuring bits of themselves since the 1920s. There are now so many people with commoditised appendages that Lloyds of London, the world-famous insurance market, has its own celebrity body part underwriter - Jonathan Thomas.

Water-tight confidentiality agreements mean it is impossible to know with absolute certainty whose assets are worth what, so the below list is based on those most widely reported. And the value is at the time the policy was taken out rather than in today's prices. Here are the top 20.

1. Mariah Carey's legs: £555 million

In 2006, the singer signed up to Gillette's "Legs of a Goddess" campaign. The Goddess's own legs suddenly became worth $1 billion (£555 million).

2. David Beckham's entire body: £100 million

Said in 2006 to be the biggest personal insurance policy ever taken out by a footballer, the £100 million cover was designed partly to cover loss to Real Madrid, but also to cover his numerous sponsors. At the time these included Motorola, Pepsi and along with Mariah, Gilette, a company clearly not inclined to take risks with its advertising spend.

3. Michael Flatley's legs: £25 million

The seemingly independent movement of the lower half of his legs was deemed such an impressive phenomenon that the Irish dancer's pins were reportedly covered for £25 million.

4. Angela Mount's tastebuds: £10 million

It is not just celebrities who can lay claim to expensive body parts. Four years ago, Angela Mount was insured by her then employer, Somerfield, the supermarket, for her acutely-honed sense of taste and smell. Mount, whose penchant for fine wine was credited with turning around the chain's fortunes, now runs her own consultancy, working with Gordon Ramsay and Anthony Worrall Thompson.

5. America Ferrera's mouth: £5 million

The Ugly Betty star's brace-face shot her to superstardom, so the US actor quite literally chose to put her money where her mouth is earlier this year when she insured her gnashers.

6. Ken Dodd’s teeth: £4 million

There can be no finer example of how to turn a weakness into a strength. Mr Dodd's teeth, which might have been a barrier to other careers, eventually became his fortune, making the nation laugh even before he had told any jokes.

7. Ilja Gort's nose: £3.9 million

Another whose superior senses are worth a packet. Mr Gort, a Dutch wine-maker, was prompted to approach Lloyds after wines from his vineyard, Ch√Ęteau de la Garde in Bordeaux, France, won several awards. “It was far above the mediocre nose”, said Mr Gort, modestly.

8. Bruce Springsteen's voice: £3.5 million

If some recent harsh reviews are anything to go by, it is possible that the quintessential American rocker has already had to claim on this policy, which he took out lest the worst happened and history was denied such musical greats as "Streets of Philadelphia".

9. The nose of a professional perfume smeller: up to £2 million

Usually self-employed, these prized sniffers earn their living through contracts with perfume-makers, deciding which fragrances are more Jade Goody than Kate Moss.

10. Heidi Klum's legs: £1.15 million

The impeccable supermodel became the legs of Braun's epilator advertising campaign back in 2004, at which point she discovered for certain what men everywhere always knew: she was worth millions of dollars. Rather harshly, one leg was reportedly valued for slightly less than the other, as it was slightly less perfect. As if anyone could tell.

11. Keith Richards' fingers: £1 million

The Rolling Stone's guitarist used them for swearing almost as much as for playing, but there was no way he was going to risk losing them. One of the few policies that Lloyds of London is able to confirm.

12. Betty Grable's legs: £500,000

"The girl with the million dollar legs", quite literally. Twentieth Century Fox, her studio, deemed her long limbs so crucial to the success of their films that they took out a policy in case they were damaged.

13. Jamie Lee Curtis's legs: £1 million

More legs. This time, for advertising stockings. Perhaps spying an opportunity for publicity, other stars who are understood to have insured their legs include singer Rhianna, chanteuse Marlene Dietrich and Mary Hart, the American TV presenter.

14. Dolly Parton's boobs: £350,000

"No-one makes money from boobs alone", says Mr Jonathan Thomas. Indeed, it is not her breasts that came up with world famous lyrics, nor did they sing them, and yet Ms Parton deemed her balloon-like pair to be sufficiently valuable to her career to insure them. Dolly dearest, boobs or no boobs, you'd still be worth a fortune.

15. Egon Ronay's tastebuds: £250,000

They could make or break a restaurant, so fully functioning tastebuds are something of a necessity for the Hungarian food critic Egon Ronay. They could also make or break his bank balance: no tastebuds, no own-branded restaurant guides worth millions.

16. Merv Hughes' moustache: £200,000

Becoming a household name for playing cricket is still quite a tough feat. While Aussie Merv Hughes sledging skills and fast lefthand earned him a place in the annals of sporting history in the late 80s and early 90s, it was that walrus moustache that catapulted him to stardom. Hence, the insurance policy, which we assume is null and void if he decides to shave it off.

17. The hands of a hand model: up to £100,000

For those blessed with perfect hands, hand-modelling is a lucrative but short-lived career that ends as soon as liver-spots and other signs of ageing appear.

18. Jimmy Durante's nose: £25,000

The American TV star credited his "schnozzle" for his personality, inspiring such titles as "Schnozzola" and "The Great Schnozzle" (available on Amazon.)

19. Ben Turpin's eyes: £12,000

The silent movie star is credited with being the first celebrity to have the common sense to insure his assets, in this case, crossed eyes in the 1920s.

20. Bette Davies' waistline: £14,000

The obesity epidemic plus an entire industry that feeds on every minute fluctuation in celebrity poundage mean that no sane insurer would touch such a policy today. Of course, back when food rationing was still a reality, the threat of an expanding waistline was that much more unrealistic. How times have changed.

Original here


LOS ANGELES - Henry Nicholas III had the makings of a real-life "Iron Man."

He was a 6-foot-6 genius billionaire with a chiseled frame, physical endurance and a taste for fast cars and gadgets.

He even had a secret cave.

And like the best-drawn comic-book heroes, the founder of chip-making firm Broadcom was haunted by demons: His sister was brutally murdered in 1984, and his father abandoned the family when Nicholas was 4.

But the Southern California tech whiz's larger-than-life pedigree didn't lead to a crime-fighting alter ego. Rather, it allegedly spurred marathon drug-fueled orgies inside his very own Xanadu, a suite in a warehouse in Laguna Niguel, Calif.

In an Oriental-themed, tricked-out parlor, Nicholas, his friends and a bevy of prostitutes would party and have sex for days - abusing cocaine, laughing gas and other drugs, as music from such chart-toppers as Led Zeppelin and Phil Collins played, according to court papers and a former employee.

The worker said the parlor had six couches. The main room was fashioned in a Far East motif and adorned in rugs and statues, including a four-foot stone figure of Medusa. There was a Jacuzzi for six. A bedroom in the back was used for sex and sleeping, the worker said.

"The Ponderosa," or "The Pond," was also fitted with an $18,000 wooden bar. The parties always had a bartender, including one who was a former construction worker at Nicholas' estate. The billionaire paid for him to attend bartending school to learn how to make cocktails, including Nicholas' favorite, the grasshopper, a sweetly potent mix of creme de menthe and cocoa.

A black box filled with cocaine and a grinder for crushing nearly pure coke rocks into powder would be on top of the bar, the former worker said. There would also be "whippets" - small metal canisters of nitrous oxide that, when inhaled through the mouth, produce an intense but short-lived high. But the party guests complained of how cold the cylinders were, so they were replaced by a tank of laughing gas, the worker said.

"The parties would last for 24 hours straight, sometimes longer," the worker told The Post last week.

But the high times came crashing down for Nicholas, 48, during the past year as court documents filed by former employees seeking back pay painted the billionaire as prone to making death threats against workers.

In another suit seeking unpaid wages, Kenji Kato, a former personal assistant, said he was forced to act as a drug courier, conceal Nicholas' illegal activities from family members and entertain clients with prostitutes.

But the feds fired off the most serious accusations, charging him with securities and wire fraud, filing false statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission and conspiracy to distribute illegal drugs, according to indictments unsealed on June 4. The government alleges that Nicholas handed out cocaine, ecstasy and nitrous oxide.

It also said he spiked the drinks of high-tech execs and representatives of Broadcom customers with ecstasy.

While he is out on $3.3 million bail, Nicholas is being electronically monitored and has been holed up since April at a $66,000-a-month rehab facility in Malibu.

His lawyers have denied the charges and declined to be interviewed for this story.

As recently as last summer, however, Nicholas was making light of the allegations that he provided prostitutes to clients.

"We started out as, but there was a typo," he joked to The Orange County Register.

The wanton wunderkind's meteoric rise to wealth and fame began during the frenzied days of the dot-com boom in the 1990s, when he founded Broadcom with friend and business associate Henry Samueli.

Armed with a Ph.D. in engineering, an encyclopedic mind and a legendary work ethic, Nicholas, as CEO, helped his company develop computer chips that made communication between machines faster.

Wired like the Energizer Bunny, the boy wonder of Orange County regularly worked 20-hour days, often subsisting on MET-Rx nutrition bars. Shortly after dawn, he would already be overseeing research, making business deals and adhering to an exercise regimen that would make a Navy SEAL buckle.

Family was an afterthought to work. His wife, Stacey, would reportedly have to come to Broadcom's offices in Irvine to see her husband during the day. In 1998, pregnant with their third child, Stacey reportedly scheduled childbirth around her husband's business schedule. She filed for divorce in 2002.

Known as a bellicose boss, Nicholas exacted the same dedication from his employees, who often bore the brunt of expletive-riddled tirades when projects fell behind schedule or problems arose, according to newspaper accounts.

Meanwhile, hundreds of employees became millionaires when the company went public in April 1998. Nicholas and Samueli's wealth ballooned as the stock price doubled to $53 per share.

By 2000, Forbes estimated the partners' net worth at $10 billion each. That number has dropped significantly as the company's stock has depreciated. Nicholas is now estimated to have $2 billion.

With his spoils, Nicholas went on lavish spending sprees and donated millions to philanthropies and causes close to his heart.

He donated $2.5 million to build a crime-victims memorial in Sacramento last year. And in 2004, he spent $3.5 million to defeat an initiative that would weaken the "three strikes" law in California.

The reasons were personal. Nicholas' younger sister, Marsalee, was killed by a drug-dealing ex-boyfriend when she was 22. "I'd say I have a moral vendetta against drug dealers because one killed my sister," Nicholas told The Register.

Most of his newfound fortune went to a vast array of homes, vehicles and gadgets. He owns a fleet of sports cars, including Lamborghinis and Ferraris. He also purchased a charter-airline company, whose fleet included three private jets and a helicopter.

Then there's his Laguna Hills estate, offering a panoramic view of sun-drenched Orange County. The 15,000-square-foot castle is wired with more than $1 million worth of computers. Its most peculiar claim to fame is secret passages that lead to an expansive tunnel system and an underground sports bar, gym and recording studio.

The underground bunker also showed his penchant for wild sex parties and his manic side. In August 2000, he hired contractors to build a second secret underground lair to which he could bring prostitutes and illegal drugs, according to a draft complaint in another lawsuit filed by the former contractors.

Nicholas demanded work be completed in a week while he whisked his wife to Hawaii for a vacation. He even threatened to kill a contractor after he complained to the billionaire of past-due wages, the complaint says. Reports say the lair was accessible by a door hidden on a paneled wall in the mansion's library and could be opened only by remote control.

According to court documents, the secrecy of the parties was shattered in May 2002, when his wife found him at the sex den after she flew home from vacation and found him high on drugs and having sex with a prostitute.

"When Stacey found out, she was very sad," the former worker said. "She didn't want to see him anymore."

She filed for divorce in the fall of that year, and Nicholas stepped down as Broadcom's chief executive in January 2003 to make his family his first priority.

Nicholas is due to be arraigned on the federal charges tomorrow.

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The Best T-Shirts at Bonnaroo

There's nothing like a four-day music festival to bring out the best today's T-shirts have to offer. A round-up of the notable shirts we saw over the weekend at Bonnaroo.

Couldn't They Think of a Better Name??


Fathers day 4

Pensioner destroys flats to kill ants

A Polish pensioner destroyed an entire block of flats when he poured insecticide down a ventilation shaft after being driven potty by ants.

Marcin Bartosz, 74, used gallons of insecticide but when it seemed to have no effect on the insects he threw a burning towel after it.

The explosion left the block of flats in Lublin in eastern Poland in ruins and Bartosz in hospital with third degree burns.

Miraculously, none of his neighbours was injured in the accident.

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