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Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Coward’s Guide to Picking Up Girls


Does the thought of asking a girl out on a date make you sweat in a non-sexual related way? If so, you are likely a coward. Don’t take it personally; the sad fact is that most of us guys are incredibly awkward when it comes to approaching girls (unless your name is Rico).

Luckily, with a little practice, know-how and confidence, even a gargoyle like Larry King can pick up a girl way out of our league (tip #1: money helps). Here are some more tips:


birdStep 1: Get Over the Fear of Rejection

Many of us talk ourselves out of approaching a girl because we keep thinking, “what if she says no?” Sure, the fear of rejection can be unbearable, but so is the idea of you and your hand spending another night alone. Instead, a better question to ask yourself is, “what’s the worst that could happen?” The answer, of course, is that she says no, but is that really such a bad thing? It may sting the ego a bit, but unless this is a close friend you’re trying to bone, you’re likely never going to see this girl again. So, who cares? Besides, she probably has herpes anyway.


confidenceStep 2: Build Your Confidence

Let me say this clearly – confidence is the MOST IMPORTANT thing when it comes to picking up girls. You don’t need a chiseled jaw. You don’t need an Ed Hardy t-shirt. You don’t even need Axe Body Spray. Girls find confidence (note: not arrogance) extremely sexy. Unfortunately, if you’re a coward, then confidence is something you likely lack. If so, then perhaps I can suggest a tactic that worked for me: hit on ugly girls.

That’s right, if you hit on a girl that you are 100 percent not attracted to, then it takes all the anxiety and stress out of the situation. Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to have sex with an ugly girl. Your goal should be getting her phone number for the sheer purpose of boosting your confidence and practicing your technique. Once acquired, immediately throw the number away and go hit on her more attractive friend.


barStep 3: Don’t Go to Bars

Bars have a few things going for them. For one, the girls are drunk. For two, the low lighting hinders the girl’s ability to see your face, which may work in your favor. However, this is where the professionals go to pick up girls. You don’t want to compete with them. Instead, choose a place where you feel comfortable hanging out. This goes along with the confidence business. A coffee shop or bookstore may be a good option. An elementary school, however, is not suggested as a good option for picking up girls.


conversationStep 4: Initiate a Conversation

Starting a conversation with a girl is often the hardest part. A good way to do this is to find a genuine, non-creepy way to compliment the girl. This generally means steering clear of physical appearance. Sure, you may love her boobs, but it’s generally a better idea to compliment the shirt that’s covering them. As such, clothing is a great thing to compliment.

Alternatively, you can start a conversation by asking a question. If you’re at a bookstore you can ask the girl about a particular book she’s reading. Other situation-relevant examples include, “Have you ever had the muffins here,” “Where did you find that [item in her hand]” and “Is that powdered sugar on your chin” (see Step 2).


girl-talkStep 5: Keep Her Talking

Once you’ve got the conversation started, it’s easy to keep it going. The key is to keep asking question about the girl’s interests. This works because girls LOVE talking about themselves. If the girl isn’t completely repulsed by you, she’ll likely go on and on about shopping, hair and romantic comedies for hours. If she asks questions about yourself, go ahead and answer them. However, keep the details to a minimum. You don’t want her knowing the real you until after you’ve seen her naked.


yesStep 6: Seal the Deal

If the girl has been talking to you for a few minutes and she has seemed relatively interested (she’s smiling a lot, leaning in to listen, etc.), then it’s time to reel in the fish. You can straight up ask her for her number or ask if she’d like to have sex go out some time. Or, a better way may be to tie the proposition into your previous conversation. Examples: “You like Judd Apatow movies too? Want to go see one with me sometime?” “Thai food is awesome. There’s a great place right around the corner. If you’d like, I could take you there sometime.” “No way! I like vaginas too. Can I see yours sometime?”

If you’re lucky, she’ll say yes and you’ve succeeded in picking up a girl. If she says no, go home and cry in your room for a while. Then go back out and try again. Don’t get discouraged, the more you try, the better you’ll get and the better your odds will improve. Keep at it, and eventually those nights spent at home alone with your hand will be a thing of the past.

Original here

Problem gambling may rise as economy falls

By JoNel Aleccia

More than 2 million people in the U.S. are pathological gamblers, according to Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling in Washington, D.C. Between nearly 5 million and 7 million more adult have serious gambling problems, and perhaps 15 million more are at risk.

The last time he bet on the Super Bowl, back in 1996, the U.S. economy was booming, unemployment was 5.6 percent and Pittsburgh was playing Dallas.

Even then, with all the odds in his favor, the longtime compulsive gambler discovered that the stakes were too high.

“I won the bet but I lost my integrity, I lost my self-respect,” said Robert G., who follows the Gamblers Anonymous support group practice of withholding his full name. “My life was a mess.”

So the 58-year-old Los Angeles marketing executive can imagine the dire times that await gamblers in the current financial climate, when there are early fears that a tumbling economy may propel more people into addiction.

“People are going to take shots who would not have taken shots,” the gambler said.

On the eve of what some regard as the peak of the gambling season — the Super Bowl and the March Madness college basketball tournament — industry experts echo that view, speculating that even as gambling revenues plummet in this economic downturn, the proportion of problem and pathological gamblers could rise.

“A whole lot more people are under stress,” said Bill Eadington, a professor of economics at the University of Nevada, Reno, and director of the Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming. “On that basis, I would expect we probably are seeing more problem gambling than we would under different circumstances.”

Desperate times
People desperate because of record layoffs, home foreclosures and failing investments may turn to gambling as a last resort, said Jeffrey Marotta, a researcher who runs a consulting business, Problem Gambling Solutions Inc. in Portland, Ore. And a fraction of those people may be more prone to problem behaviors or addiction.

“There may be a decrease in general revenues, but more problem gamblers,” he said.

That notion is hotly disputed by the American Gaming Association, a Washington, D.C. industry trade group, which notes that the proportion of problem gamblers in society has remained steady for decades, through good times and bad.

“To be honest with you, I don’t know where they’re getting that,” said Holly Thomsen, a spokeswoman for the AGA. “I don’t know that there’s any evidence. They’re making a speculation that has no basis in fact.”

2.3 million in U.S. are compulsive gamblers
In any given year, about 1 percent of American adults — or some 2.3 million people — are pathological gamblers addicted to the risk and excitement of the wager, according to Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling in Washington, D.C.

Are you a problem gambler?

Here are 20 common questions used to assess problem gambling behaviors. Most compulsive gamblers will answer yes to at least seven of these questions.

1. Did you ever lose time from work or school due to gambling?
2. Has gambling ever made your home life unhappy?
3. Did gambling affect your reputation?
4. Have you ever felt remorse after gambling?
5. Did you ever gamble to get money with which to pay debts or otherwise solve financial difficulties?
6. Did gambling cause a decrease in your ambition or efficiency?
7. After losing did you feel you must return as soon as possible and win back your losses?
8. After a win did you have a strong urge to return and win more?
9. Did you often gamble until your last dollar was gone?
10. Did you ever borrow to finance your gambling?
11. Have you ever sold anything to finance gambling?
12. Were you reluctant to use "gambling money" for normal expenditures?
13. Did gambling make you careless of the welfare of yourself or your family?
14. Did you ever gamble longer than you had planned?
15. Have you ever gambled to escape worry, trouble, boredom or loneliness?
16. Have you ever committed, or considered committing, an illegal act to finance gambling?
17. Did gambling cause you to have difficulty in sleeping?
18. Do arguments, disappointments or frustrations create within you an urge to gamble?
19. Did you ever have an urge to celebrate any good fortune by a few hours of gambling?
20. Have you ever considered self destruction or suicide as a result of your gambling?
Source: Gamblers Anonymous
Another 2 percent or 3 percent — between nearly 5 million and 7 million adults — have serious gambling problems, and perhaps 15 million more are at risk, exhibiting at least two recognized symptoms of problem gambling.

That rate has remained about the same since researchers first began studying problem gambling prevalence three decades ago, but there’s concern that it may be creeping up, Whyte said.

“The rate is so low, even a 50 percent rise is only a tiny fraction,” he added.

There’s no data yet to support that theory, the experts acknowledge, partly because the economic decline has been so sudden and swift. Between 2007 and 2008, revenues in the nearly $100-billion-a-year national gaming industry slumped by 5 percent to 10 percent overall, including a sharp drop last fall, when popular meccas like Las Vegas saw a 26 percent drop in October alone, said Eadington, who tracks the industry.

The decline coincided, of course, with the near-collapse of the nation’s economy, including rising unemployment, increasing home foreclosures and plummeting stock values.

But the psychology that undergirds the addiction argues in favor of an increase in the proportion of problem gamblers. For one thing, compulsive gamblers, those least able to control their urges, don’t stop gambling in a downturn.

“The pathological gambler is going to gamble always,” noted Bruce Roberts, executive director of the California Council on Problem Gambling in Anaheim, Calif.

For them, the lure is not about money, but about the rush of excitement that accompanies the action, said Whyte. “It’s not just the outcome, it’s the gamble,” he said.

'It beats everything'
That is certainly true for John F., a 57-year-old recovering gambler who regularly attends a Gamblers Anonymous meeting in Fallon, Nev. He figures he lost at least $250,000 during his 35-year addiction, and many jobs, relationships and opportunities, all for a thrill that’s hard to explain.

“For me, gambling is the most pleasurable thing there is,” said the telephone company worker who also runs his own ranch. “It beats everything.”

Those whose problems fall short of compulsion might find they can’t stop gambling because of another common trait: They think they’re smart enough and skilled enough to recoup their losses — eventually.

“There are actually people who think they can be a good slot player, a good lottery player,” Roberts said.

Gambling on the Super Bowl
And there are many, many gamblers who profess skill during the biggest gambling events of the year, the Super Bowl and the basketball tournament known as March Madness.

Last year, Super Bowl wagers in Nevada topped $92.1 million, while the month-long March Madness bets totaled about $238 million, according to the state’s gaming control board.

“We know that for a lot of sports gamblers, the Super Bowl is the chance, however much they’re down, it’s their last chance to make it up,” Whyte said.

Researchers plant to track enrollment in gambling treatment programs, calls to gambling hotlines and other sources to monitor whether problem gambling actually does rise as the downturn continues.

One measure might be a surge in attendance at Gamblers Anonymous, which logs 20,000 members in the U.S. and some 35,000 worldwide, according to a spokeswoman.

For Robert G., the group has been the key to coping with an addiction that can only be controlled, not cured. He encourages other gamblers to look up a nearby meeting and go.

“I found amazing people and my life got pretty damn good,” he said, citing a happy marriage, two kids and a successful career.

The memory of that relapse in 1996 still haunts him, but that doesn’t mean he’ll avoid Sunday’s matchup between the Steelers and the Cardinals.

“I’m rooting for Pittsburgh,” he said, “with no money.”

© 2009 Reprints

Original here

Father 'threw daughter, 4, off bridge during rush hour in Melbourne'

Video: medics try to resuscitate girl

A father allegedly threw his four-year-old daughter off a bridge in front of the girl's two young brothers and scores of motorists during rush hour in Melbourne today.

Witnesses said Arthur Phillip Freeman, 35, suddenly stopped his family car – which also had his two young sons inside – and, with young Darcey Iris in his arms, walked to the side of the West Gate Bridge, just after 9am.

He then allegedly dropped his young daughter over the railing and into the water, 190ft (58m) below.

Shocked drivers who witnessed the incident – which police say occurred in a matter of seconds – immediately called emergency hotlines as Mr Freeman reportedly got back in the large white family Land Cruiser, and drove away.

Darcey miraculously survived the fall and was pulled from the water by police within 10 minutes and ambulance officers spent the next 50 minutes resuscitating her on the bank on the side of the Yarra River.

She was then airlifted by helicopter to the nearby Royal Children’s Hospital in a critical condition and treated for the next four hours.

The tragedy gripped Australia as it unfolded on television, with footage of paramedics frantically trying to resuscitate Darcey on the riverbank streamed during regular news bulletins with updates on the little girl’s condition.

Mr Freeman was arrested by police an hour after the tragic incident when he was spotted, accompanied by his two sons, Benjamin, 7, and Jack, 23 months, in a “visibly distressed” state outside the Commonwealth Law Courts across town in central Melbourne. The family had been in the midst of a custody battle.

Security staff at the court said that Mr Freeman was shaking like a leaf, and staring with wild eyes when they spotted him and alerted police. Police, initially unaware he was involved in the bridge incident, said they took him into custody peacefully.

As he was being led away, Mr Freeman reportedly begged court staff to "take care of my kids''.

“He was pretty down and he had the two other children with him and he tried to enter the court. He couldn't talk to anyone, he wouldn't talk to anyone, he was just a mess,'' witness Vince Mascia told the Nine Network.

About 1.30pm, as Mr Freeman was being questioned by detectives, Darcey died in hospital from massive internal injuries.

Her father was then charged with murder and set to appear before a criminal court. However he was deemed “suicidal” by psychiatrists and remanded in custody. He will next appear in court on May 21 for a committal hearing.

According to The Australian newspaper, alarm about the children’s whereabouts of the children had been raised when Mr Freeman failed to drop them at childcare and schools this morning.

Victoria Police Detective Inspector Steve Clark said the tragic incident happened in a matter of seconds, and the two other children, were now in the care of their mother, Peta Jane Freeman, 39.

“It all happened fairly quickly,” Detective Inspector Clark said. “He’s got straight out of the car, taken the young girl and walked to the edge of the bridge.”

Detective Inspector Clark said the incident was "particularly distressing" for both family members and witnesses.

"This is a dreadful set of circumstances and often you think you've seen it all, but you haven't," he said

The Victorian Premier John Brumby described the incident as "a terrible tragedy''.

"It's such an awful...horrible thing to happen to the child," he told reporters.

"You just shudder, you just think how could that happen and it's just such a terrible thing.”

Original here

Asian Teen Has Sweaty Middle-Aged-Man Fetish

AOMORI, JAPAN—At first glance, 17-year-old Misaki Nakajima seems like any other shy and submissive Japanese schoolgirl. She loves shopping, text messaging, and the color pink. But beneath her wholesome exterior lies a wicked secret: Misaki Nakajima is consumed by sexual fantasies involving sweaty, middle-aged American men.

Enlarge Image Asian Teen

The shy Japanese nymph enjoys fantasizing about fat fortysomethings with excessive neck and back hair.

"I can't explain it," said Nakajima, dressed in a pleated miniskirt and pure white knee socks. "There's just something about American men who are at least twice my age and nearly three times my body weight that totally drives me wild."

Added Nakajima, "They're so hot."

Though she finds all pasty, middle-aged men intoxicating, Nakajima said balding Midwesterners who carry most of their weight in their stomach particularly turn her on. According to the sexually inquisitive teen, she often daydreams about sleeping with a 43-year-old divorcé with poor hygiene habits.

"I like it when they dress up like middle managers," said Nakajima, twirling her girlish pigtails with one alabaster finger. "You know, with the sweat-stained dress shirts, and the office clipboards, and the khaki pants that are 2 inches too short."

Enlarge Image Teen at computer

Nakajima peruses the Internet for photos to daydream about later.

"God," Nakajima continued. "Those get me every time."

The Japanese nymph then reportedly sighed, rolled over on her Hello Kitty bedsheets, and continued leafing through an old Rochester Big & Tall catalog.

While she has always been curious about men who attended state college before she was born, Nakajima said she first discovered her fetish after stumbling upon a late-night airing of Uncle Buck on television—a moment the teen now describes as her "sexual awakening."

"I was completely captivated by him," said Nakajima, referring to the obese, unemployed character played by John Candy. "He was so exotic-looking. It was like this whole new world of pleasure had just opened up for me."

Over the next several months Nakajima—a virgin—explored her new obsession by cutting out pictures of American men from riding mower advertisements and heart-attack-prevention brochures. The barely legal teen also discovered satellite broadcasts of ESPN2 around this time, and often stayed up all night ogling professional bowlers and competitive dart players.

Nakajima confessed to frequently searching the Internet to satisfy her insatiable appetite for round, greasy American men years past their sexual prime. A survey of her recent browsing history revealed such Google searches as "pale man lying on couch eating" and "retiree + jowls + hardcore." The teen has also bookmarked several sites with lurid pictures of aging American males, including and the History Channel chat room.

According to psychologist Asuka Yasuhara of Tokyo University, Nakajima is not alone.

"It's not uncommon for Asian girls to be fascinated with these types of men," said Dr. Yasuhara, who found in a recent survey that three out of 10 Japanese teenage girls list Paul Giamatti as the most attractive American celebrity. "And it's easy to see why. Sweaty, forty-something Caucasians represent the epitome of mystery and wonder to Asian teens."

Added Yasuhara, "Plus, how can anyone resist those enormous, chafed thighs?"

Drawn by her curiosity, Nakajima has scheduled a vacation to St. Louis for early March. The trip—which falls on her 18th birthday—reportedly coincides with the American Society of Actuaries' annual convention, a four-day event during which Nakajima hopes to be seduced by "the heavyset man of [her] dreams."

Although she has long fantasized about traveling overseas and having a world of carnal delights revealed to her by an aging claims adjuster, the taut Japanese teen admitted that she is uncertain how she'll be received by American men.

"I just hope they don't mind the fact that I'm completely shaven," Nakajima said. "Oh, who am I kidding? They'd probably never go for a naïve young sexual kitten like me."

Original here

James Dyson on Creating a Vacuum that Actually, Well, Sucks

By Margaret Heffernan

Exasperated with his vacuum, James Dyson took some cardboard, kitchen scissors, and duct tape and patched together his first bagless machine. With some trepidation, he switched it on. "There were no explosions, no blasts of dusty air," Dyson recalls of that day in 1978.

"I was the only man in the world with a bagless vacuum cleaner!"

The British inventor could not have known then that it would take thousands more prototypes—and years of debt, lawsuits, fury, and frustration—before he manufactured what is now the top-selling upright vacuum cleaner in the United States. Along the way, he would discover the simple secret to success: "People buy products if they're better."

Dyson, 61, didn't start out as an engineer. He had trained at the Royal College of Art in London. There he'd discovered a love of industrial design and collaborated on his first product, the Sea Truck, an indestructible boat for hauling just about anything between islands.

James Dyson
Courtesy of Dyson
Dyson's newest vacuum pivots on a ball.
He started his first company to manufacture and sell another invention, the Ballbarrow, a radical redesign of the wheelbarrow that used a ball to stabilize an otherwise wobbly vehicle. Garden center owners giggled nervously, but customers got it. "People will make leaps of faith and get excited by your product," says Dyson, "if you just get it in front of them." But disagreements with the board led Dyson to leave his company and his invention. In his "naked naïveté," as he puts it, he had assigned the patent to the company rather than to himself. It was a mistake he wouldn't make again.

Not one to suffer setbacks, Dyson set to work on perfecting the vacuum. Key to his innovative design was a cyclone, a cone spinning so fast that its centrifugal force sucked up dust and flung it at the canister's walls. He hoped to license the design to European companies already in the business, but he encountered a chronic defensiveness: If there were a better way to make vacuums, surely the market leaders would have found it.

In 1986, eight years after his original breakthrough, Dyson licensed his designs to a Japanese company. The deal didn't give him a significant cut of the annual $20 million in sales, but it was enough to keep him going while he looked for a U.S. manufacturer.

Dyson traveled a lonely path, confronting armies of executives. "I cannot overstate the soul-destroying drudgery of sitting in a boardroom with all these specialists, each with his own little area in which to attack you."

After a deal with Amway collapsed, Dyson decided he'd manufacture the machine himself. He tested it to destruction, throwing it down iron staircases onto marble floors. By January 1993, his machines were ready for the consumer. Now all he had to do was sell them.

Predictably, big stores were nervous about the vacuum's high-tech design. But consumers liked the bright-yellow plastic and the machine's power. A bonus for allergy sufferers: It filtered the household air as it sucked up dirt. By 2005, Dyson dominated both the European and American markets.

Dyson insists he's not a businessman. His obsession has, however, made him rich. The company's revenue was nearly $1 billion last year. He and his artist wife, Deirdre, married happily for 40 years, live in a $35 million 18th-century mansion.

Even so, Dyson is just as driven today as when he made his cardboard prototype. "It is the fear of failure that makes me keep working at success," he says. "Having an idea for doing something better and making it happen-even though it appears impossible—those are still my dreams."

Getting Ahead with James Dyson

Q: You say fear of failure is your main driver. How can you be creative?

A: The fear of going bankrupt is a good motivator. It keeps the adrenaline running. I like living on the edge. Hope is really important too.

Q: What kept you going all those years—faith or madness?

A: Probably both. I had always assumed people succeeded only if they had the best of everything: the best idea, the best connections. But then I met Jeremy Fry, a British entrepreneur. If he thought it was a good idea, he pursued it. He didn't worry about what people thought. If that is what blind faith is, that is good.

Q: You've said that in business, entrepreneurs will be wrong 50 percent of the time. Is there any way to improve that percentage?

A: No. And it would be boring if you could. The whole thing is unpredictable, different from day to day. It is so important not to be put off by the fact that there are others who know more and who are more experienced. Experience doesn't really count for anything, because every day is day one. Which is why it's fun.

Q: Can anyone do what you did?

A: Everyone has ideas. They may be too busy or lack the confidence or technical ability to carry them out. But I want to carry them out. It is a matter of getting up and doing it.

Q: Do you ever get away from work?

A: I'm still a keen long-distance runner, having started in college. I spend as much time as I can with my three young grandchildren, and I still think one day I'll master the bassoon.

Original here

Businessman shot dead his mother and four dogs after Northern Rock bailiffs arrived to repossess home

By Luke Salkeld

A failed businessman killed his own mother when bailiffs arrived to repossess the home they shared

Kevin Burbidge, 50, shot Marion Merritt, 71, four times in the head while officials representing Northern Rock arrived with an eviction notice.

He then shot four pet dogs and set fire to the ?250,000 bungalow before calling a friend who was told: 'Mum's gone, the dogs are gone and in 15 minutes I'll be gone - I'm going to blow my brains out.'

kevin burbidge
marion merritt

Tragic case: Kevin Burbidge (left) shot his mother Marion Merritt (right) four times in the head after bailiffs arrived to repossess their home

Burbidge then tried to shoot himself with a shotgun but couldn't reach the trigger due to length of the barrel and instead gave himself up to armed police.

He later claimed his mother had told him to shoot her rather than face the prospect of losing their home.

A court court heard Burbidge cracked after building up ?109,000 of debt against his mother's home during a failed venture to develop a pub business.

After he fell into arrears with the bank, a bailiff and locksmith were sent to the house Burbridge shared with his mother in Poole, Dorset, to evict them.

Burbidge reacted aggressively to the bailiff's who retreated from the house to call the police before hearing a gun being fired at the rear of the property.

Nicholas Haggan QC, prosecuting, said: 'Shortly afterwards smoke was seen coming out from the eaves, chimney and skylight. It was plain that the property was on fire.'

The court heard Burbidge initially shot his mother twice in the side of the head, and then twice more in the back of the head after hearing her murmur.

He then shot their pet dogs with a pistol.

A family friend who was outside the house telephoned Burbidge and asked what was going on.

Mr Haggan said: 'The defendant said that it was all too late. The house was on fire and he was going to let it burn so they couldn't have it and then he was going to do himself [in].'

He continued: 'About 11.09am the defendant telephoned his close friend, Andrew White, and told him: "Mum's gone, the dogs are gone and in 15 minutes I'll be gone - I'm going to blow my brains out."

When police arrived they found Burbidge in the side passage of the house holding the shotgun.

He told them: 'Don't come any closer, I don't wish you any harm,' before giving himself up.

Mr Haggan said: 'Firemen entered the property and they found the defendant's mother kneeling by the bed.

'She had been shot four times in the side and back of the head by a handgun at fairly close range.'

merritt and burbidge

Police and fire crews outside Burbidge's bungalow after the shooting: Mrs Merritt was found slumped on a bed

Bournemouth Crown Court hear that when interviewed by police, Burbidge was calm and polite and told officers his mother had asked him to kill her after he shot the dogs.

He said he shot her twice but then thought he could hear her moving so shot her again two more times, explaining: 'She would just not go, the silly cow.'

Burbidge also told officers: 'We used to row like cat and dog. I said I could not wait for her to die and she said she wished she would.'

He added: 'At the end of the day I still love the silly cow and she loves me'.

The court heard that Burbidge and a friend had taken over a pub in Poole, using over ?100,000 obtained by re-mortgaging his mother's home with Northern Rock.

But the venture floundered and Burbidge, who used to run his own security firm, and owned two Rottweilers, an Alsatian and a spaniel, fell into arrears with the payments.

The court heard Northern Rock sought an eviction order which was due to be executed at 11am on March 3, 2008.

Jailing Burbidge for life, with a minimum of ten years, the Honourable Justice John Royce said Northern Rock, which was nationalised ten days before the murder on March 3 last year, had acted properly throughout the episode.

Burbidge, who refused to have any mitigation spoken on his behalf, pleaded guilty to murder.

He also admitted two counts of possessing illegal firearms and one of the illegal possession of ammunition.

After the case family and friends described former shop assistant Mrs Merritt, who took her late second husband's surname, as a doting mother who 'believed the sun rose and set with her son'.

Paul Burbidge, a cousin, said: 'Marion was a lovely lady and had lots of friends.

'Kevin's not a bad person, he has helped many people by financially supporting them. If only he had sought financial help this may not have happened.'

Original here

Spied on since she was 10


JOHN SELKIRK/The Dominion Post

I SPY: Activist Marie Leadbeater, 63, discovered that she has had her own SIS file since was 10-years-old.

You are never too young to be regarded as a potential subversive, a Security Intelligence Service file shows.

Maire Leadbeater, now 63 and a long-time activist on peace issues, was an early target because of her Christchurch parents, Elsie and Jack Locke, who were prominent members of the New Zealand Communist Party and community activists.

Elsie Locke left the Communist Party in 1956 when the Soviet Union invaded Hungary, but her husband stayed.

One of Leadbeater's siblings is Green MP Keith Locke, a former Trotskyist and member of the Socialist Action League who has also received his SIS file.

Leadbeater's file, which she received late last year, begins when she was 10, with a note that she delivered the Communist Party newspaper, the People's Voice, to the mother of twins in Bangor St, in central Christchurch.

The next item refers to her membership of a junior drama group that the file says was connected with the William Morris (a Fabian socialist) Group, regarded by the SIS as a front for the Communist Party. Elsie Locke performed in the group.

The file continues to track Leadbeater's life, although the SIS lost track of her when she married and took her husband's name. "They lost me for about 13 years," she said.

Her file, like most of the others released, contains material from private meetings.

"I find that the hardest to accept," Leadbeater said. "That small groups of people gathering together in private homes and offices should have someone planted in the meetings.

"It's pretty shocking really. It's potentially very bad for democracy because it makes people anxious about involving themselves in free discussion of ideas and has a big impact on trust if you have to think to yourself `one of us could be a source'."

She was surprised to find her file contains a list of every member of the Palestine Human Rights Committee.

Her file contained references to the state of her parents' marriage, which the SIS thought would be strained by Elsie's departure from the party.

``It's all wrong anyway,'' Leadbeater said. ``It's unpleasant, inaccurate speculation about highly personal family issues.''

The most recent item on her file is a reference to a member of the South Auckland Muslim Association who said she would be taking part in a march on September 28, 2002.

Leadbeater's activities on behalf of the Fiji Coalition for Democracy, the anti-bases campaigns and the Ahmed Zaoui campaign are not mentioned in the file.

"Does this mean that snooping is less or done in a different way?'' she said.

Keith Locke confirmed he had received his own file, which was thick, and his mother's biographer was in possession of his mother's file. He had yet to view his file and was not prepared to comment.

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt, who was once prominent in a number of radical movements, said he would be travelling to Wellington to uplift his file as part of a TV3 news programme.

He was not sure the SIS kept a file on him, but said he would feel a bit insulted if it did not.

"It will make interesting reading. I suspect they would have got a lot more detail if they had just read my book Bullshit and Jellybeans,'' he said.

Shadbolt said he had led at least five radical organisations, including the Radical Students Association and Auckland University Students for the Prevention of Cruelty to Politically Apathetic Humans.

"If they figured out what [the latter organisation] was about, then good luck to them because we never could,'' he said.

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January 31 the year's biggest night for first dates.

By Chris Irvine

January 31 is the most likely day of the year for a first date.
January 31 is the most likely day of the year for a first date. Photo: GETTY

Although January may have the reputation as the peak month for relationships break up, new statistics show Saturday night is due to be the year's biggest night for first dates.

On top of that, an estimated 70,000 wil turn into a new romance by February.

A survey of 5,000 singles by, Europe's largest scientifically-based online dating service, showed Britain's singles will go on 2.5 million first dates this January, almost three times more than in December and twice as many as any other single month of the year.

Another recent PARSHIP poll found four out of five people said they would actively to meet someone in January.

Almost half said they would look for a committed relationship, more than one in ten for a casual relationship and one in five for any type of relationship.

Nearly half of singles, 45 per cent of men and 50 per cent of women also admitted to feeling particularly lonely in January.

Dr Victoria Lukats, psychiatrist and's dating expert, said: "These findings are consistent with previous surveys. We know that more people join internet dating services in January than any other time of year.

"We also know that internet dating has now become the single most common way of finding a partner.

"The explanation could be down to the post-Christmas malaise, pressure from well-meaning friends and relatives or New Year's resolutions."

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Why I Won't Be Watching The Super Bowl

By John Devore

Every Saturday we ask some of our favorite writers to fill in for us. Today, a man by the name of John Devore gives you a brief history of the sport that will be dominating your weekend. Mr. Devore has been an editor at Maxim and has written for other magazines (which are like the internet, but on paper and with skinnier pornography). You can find him online at

Tomorrow is our nation's high holiday: The World Series of Football. The armchair atheists have it all wrong. America is not a theocracy full of McJesus zombies praying for LOTTO windfalls. We're a secular nation, Mammon-damnit. Greed is a delicious, evil root that tastes great with butter and sour cream, and tomorrow our land will explode with nacho cheese, body paint and testosterone-jacked Orcs racing to make as much money as they can before their bodies fall apart. The contest is between the attitudinal woodpeckers and the industrial revolutionaries, and I predict that I don't care who wins.

The skinny guy in the back's the punter.

"Isn't it anti-American to not watch the Super Bowl?" you might ask. Buster, I crap fleets of thimble-sized bald eagles, each screaming "U-S-A!" I snuck into the tribal areas of Pakistan inside a living camel and beat Osama Bin Laden to death with a waffle iron, and I kept it a secret because I want the terrorists to feel safe. I just called you "buster." That's how I am with America.

But I hate football because, as a nation, we can do better. There are so many sports superior to football, and yet we embrace a game that's only enduring value is that its ebb and flow allows television networks to spackle every inch, crevice and animated infographic with commercials. I love commercials as much as anyone. Advertising is the only mass art form that conveys our collective fears and hopes, and it will adorn the hologram walls of space museums hundreds of years from now.

"My God, they really were retarded."

But football gets in the way of commercials. You know why soccer isn't more popular in America (besides the socks, lack of scoring and the fact that Europeans look like elves)? It's because it is nearly impossible to wrap commercials around that game. You can go 10 whole minutes during a soccer match without finding out how to get "cash 4 gold." Advertisers hate that, and so they make sure you hate it too.

Did I just claim that football sucks worse than soccer? I'll do you one better: Football sucks worse than golf, and golf is a just a happy walk through a pretty park with a club of men who are directly responsible for drunk joy-riding our economy off a cliff. Do you know any regular dudes who love to golf? You do? I'm sorry, then, you're a dick purse.

Just some regular dudes.

But football is worse than golf. Football ruins the half-time show, which is the totally amazing love child of two subtle American art forms, Monster Truck Rallies and Broadway. Speaking of, the sport itself is in denial. I like my mass homoerotica to be out, loud, and proud. Plus, why settle for a gigantic metaphor for war when we've got two raging, and another couple warming up on the sidelines.

See I know football. I grew up a Texan, and we Texans are the closest this country will ever get to Vikings. Growing up, my father worshipped three people: Jesus, Patsy Cline and Tom Landry. I worship Zeus, Dark Phoenix and the main Keebler Elf (the Warlord Elf Pimp who's in charge of getting those cookies from the tree, to the box, to my shouthole) but I don't blame Texas loving football. It's a religion there, and even the poorest, bleakest West Texas town has a sparkling ziggurat upon which local high school pigskin warriors are celebrated and sniffed at by scouts, before their future use to society is sacrificed to appease the gods of sporting combat.

A pep-rally at a small West Texas high school.

But you can't blame Texans. They spent the better part of the nineteenth century hanging Comanches, Mexican bandits and horse thieves. Old habits die hard. There's a lot of residual bloodlust to work out there.

But come on, we can do better. Why isn't bull-riding (Beef NASCAR as I call it) the American sport to end all sports? It's an epic battle of the wills between a man and an angry cheeseburger; and if that doesn't typify our awesome civilization, I don't know what does.

How about UFC? It's like boxing, except there's more blood, missionary position and brain damage. If they renamed it "Knuckle Rape Thunderdome," it might bring about the end of all other sports. Hell, I'll take Badminton over football. They play with something called a "shuttlecock," and that's pretty funny, especially if you're a 34-year-old hack comedy writer. Shuttlecock. The jokes just write themselves.

You might be asking where baseball, America's alleged pastime (emphasis on "past"), fits into all of this. Baseball is radio, and radio is a lot of words, and words suck. Let the batter keep his bat and supply the basemen with barb-wire wrapped hubcap shields and then we can talk.

You don't have to say yes. Just say you'll think about it.

Go ahead and watch the football show. Pump your fist and celebrate pointless berserker rage, grotesque consumerism and spandex sodden with man juices. Just don't invite me to your parties. I'll be rolling with my bitches, those football widows who will spend tomorrow taking in a matinee of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button before indulging at the Cold Stone Creamery and talking about Gossip Girl. Enjoy the game. Just know that the whole time, I will be eyeball-molesting your girlfriends and wives.

I also hate football because when I was a teenager, I was a fat asthmatic who couldn't make the team.

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6 Inspiring Rags to Riches Stories (That Are Bullshit)

By Bobby Paul, CRACKED Staff

Everyone likes a good "rags to riches" story. After all, if some dude can go from living in a cardboard box to being the CEO of a major corporation, we can do it too!

Unfortunately, it doesn't take a lot of digging into most of these stories to find out they've been, well, inflated a bit. And sometimes, they're complete bullshit.

Bill Gates

The Rags to Riches Story:

Bill was a college dropout who finessed his way into the upper echelons of IBM to sell his operating system. Now he sleeps on a bed made of solid gold. According to the media, Bill Gates is the Rocky Balboa of the business world. They've compared him to other college dropouts; from Kanye West to some guy who runs the IT Department at Bradley College. Gates proved that if you're smart and willing to work hard, you can build an empire! And you don't even have to go to college! Yay!

Why it's a Load of Crap:

First of all, the college Gates left was Harvard, not the community college that most of the people who cite his story are thinking of leaving. He entered Harvard by scoring 1590 out of 1600 on his SAT--the man was, and still is, a genetically mutated genius. But one with the type of parents who could afford Harvard.

Luxury office, giant window. Just your average college dropout.

In fact, Gates's parents have a lot to do with his success, and even why he was able to drop out of school. At a very young age, Bill was staying up all night experimenting with computer programming. Keep in mind, this was the late 60s and early 70s, so having access to a computer was like having access to a helicopter. He gained incredible amounts of experience because his upper class parents were able to enroll him in an exclusive prep school that had a computer available. This was only possible because Bill's father was a prominent attorney, and his mother's side of the family wasn't exactly poor either.

Later, Gates left college because it didn't provide the training in computer programming that he needed for the software business he was running on the side. It wasn't that Gates couldn't keep up at Harvard; Harvard couldn't keep up with Gates. Again, this is the kind of risk you can take when you have well-to-do parents who can get you right back into school if things don't work out. If the dude scraping by on student loans and corn dogs tries the same thing, he's probably going to wind up bussing tables at Chili's the rest of his life.

Of course here is where Gates used his genius and creativity to invent the modern operating system...

Oh, wait, no. It turns out he bought the program that would later become MS-DOS from another programmer, for a one-time fee of $50,000. He then took it to IBM and other PC manufacturers and made a pile of money big enough to ski down it.

Now, we're not saying Bill Gates isn't a smart guy or that he didn't work hard. By all accounts he puts in more hours working than most people put into being awake. But, an "Upper Middle Class Guy With an Extraordinarily Fortunate Background to Riches" story is a completely different deal than a "Rags to Riches." The dude wasn't exactly an orphan begging for scraps. And it's not like he was turning tricks as a male whore to put his start-up capital together, the way Steve Jobs did [citation needed].

Debbi Fields (Founder of Mrs. Fields Cookies)

The Rags to Riches Story:

According to the "About Us" section of

"Debbi Fields, a young mother with no business experience, opened her first cookie store in Palo Alto, California in 1977. They told her she was crazy. No business could survive just selling cookies. Humble beginnings launched Mrs. Fields into a worldwide celebrity."

If you're willing to ignore people who call you crazy, you too could be the nemesis of diabetics everywhere.

Why It's a Load Of Crap:

It's true Debbi Fields had no business experience. But you know what helps when you're a 20-year-old bravely entering the world of business with nothing but savvy and a cookie recipe? Being married to Randy Fields, a man who was both a decade older than her and owned a successful investment firm.

Mr. Fields, CEO.

The capital they raised to get started came via Randy's contacts. Yes, the cookies were good enough to attract customers; we would never try to disparage the power of a really good cookie. But the real success came when Randy and the company's IT Manager developed software that efficiently handled supply chain management. This kept costs low while still charging outrageous prices for the cookies.

Debbi had the financial backing of a business maverick, and sold a product everyone loved. So why did everyone call her crazy when she opened her first store? The picture gets a lot clearer when you read the bio on her personal web page. Debbie gives credit to herself, her innovations and her determination.

Did you know she invented cookies?

She also places herself in the same company as three of the world's greatest history-changing innovators: Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell. Apparently, keeping America's cookie jars full ranks up there with changing they the world talks, travels and learns. We're stunned she hasn't had her image carved on Mount Rushmore.


The Rags to Riches Story:

Jewel lived in a van!

Jewel lived in a van!!

Jewel lived in a van!!!!!!

This line is shouted in every single story ever written about Jewel. And just in case that doesn't melt your frozen heart, the van story is almost always followed up with the fact that her family was so poor growing up that they didn't have running water.

Why it's a Load of Crap:

First, the stuff about her childhood. Her family didn't go without running water because they were poor. Jewel's father elected to drop out of society to live of the land, and settled in Alaska to do so. They were hippies, not hobos. Jewel's upbringing was unconventional, sure, but at least she didn't grow up in homeless shelters like true badasses such as KRS One, Tupac Shakur and ... Shania Twain.

"How will I take long, luxurious showers without water?"

Later, Jewel followed in her father's footsteps, choosing to quit work and live in a van to keep costs down and focus on her music. Ballsy? Sure, but all musicians live in their car for a while. Legally, you're not allowed to call yourself a musician unless you've got some sort of transient-living under your belt.

Again, we're not just talking about hard asses like Kurt Cobain, whose biography includes a spell camping out under a bridge. Creed lead "singer" Scott Stapp and Matchbox 20 front"man" Rob Thomas lived in their cars while pursuing the dream.

Don't take our word for it, take it from those celebrated rock and roll historians, Boston:

Well, we were just another band out of Boston
On the road to try to make ends meet
Playing all the bars, sleeping in our cars
And we practiced right on out in the street

Sleeping in a car is rock and roll! And she had a van; hell, that's a freaking mansion in the struggling musician world.

The inside of Jewel's van.

So common is the van in rock and roll, that there is a website dedicated to giving the van dwellers of rock an occasional couch to sleep on (at

So why don't we hear about Scott Stapp, Rob Thomas and Shania Twain's hard ass upbringings as much as Jewel's? Well, it would seem that Jewel's tale of unprecedented hardship might be part of a calculated PR strategy. For instance, if you're tired of the van story, her online bios will have you know that she also "washed her hair in public restrooms, subsisted on carrots and peanut butter, fell in with street gangs, dated older men and even shoplifted." Come on guys. This isn't high school, it's rock and roll. If you're going to be the bad girl, you're going to have to give us something a little worse than "dating older men," and a little less hilariously far-fetched than "gang involvement." Stevie Nix's PR team should have some suggestions.

Abraham Lincoln

The Rags to Riches Story:

We know what you're thinking. "Lincoln? You found a way to put Lincoln on a list with fucking Jewel?"

Relax; Lincoln is not complicit in this. American History did it for him.

Everybody who went to school in the USA (or reads inspirational email forwards) has heard about Lincoln's dirt-poor childhood and climb to the top:

1. He grew up in a small cabin, doing his homework by scratching the equations into his dirt floor;

2. His family was forced out of their home and he had to work to support them;

3. His business failed repeatedly;

4. He ran for Vice President, but got only 110 votes;

5. He overcame his long, long string of hardships and failures and finally was elected President of the United States.

Why it's a load of Crap:

Yes, he did grow up in a small cabin. Just like most everybody else whose father decided to make their mark on the great American frontier. Your choices were farming on the frontier or slaving in the factories of an increasing industrialized society. Lincoln's father decided he'd rather rough it than, say, get his arm melted off in an iron smelting furnace.

So while Lincoln didn't have a flushing toilet or a plasma screen TV, he grew up in a reasonably normal home for the time. His father was a successful farmer and the only reason they left Kentucky was over a legal issue with the land title.

As Snopes points out, once Lincoln was on his own, he did have one business go under (a general store in Illinois) but the very next year after opening it he won a seat in the Illinois legislature. So his long hard string of business failures actually consisted of a few months in 1833-34, after which his political career bloomed.

"It took courage, but I eventually overcame my temporary and painless unemployment."

Then there's the retarded thing about him running for Vice President and getting "only 110 votes." One, this wasn't a popular election, these are delegate votes (and there were only 363 of them). And Lincoln didn't run for the office, he was nominated without his knowledge. The votes he got came despite the fact that he didn't campaign and was barely known outside of Illinois. That's actually pretty impressive. He was a rising star; the very next election put him in the White House.

Again, we're not saying Lincoln wasn't a great man. He was. But tell the story in context, guys. Besides, why are we focusing on that "log cabin" bullshit when we should be talking about how he could have become a professional wrestler if he had wanted.

JK Rowling

The Rags to Riches Story:

Every single article and every single Harry Potter book jacket seems to work in JK Rowling's humble beginnings as a single mother on government assistance. She then pulled herself up by her bootstraps and wrote one of the most successful series of books in the history of words.

Why it's a Load of Crap:

It's one thing to be born into poverty and claw your way out of it. However, it's a whole different game when your two-year stint on welfare is part of your business plan. Welcome to the Rowling School of Writing.

Rowling's welfare assistance wasn't out of total desperation, it was out of choice. She was an educated teacher who left her job when she had a child. After that, she chose not to work and, instead, collected welfare to get the time to write her book.

While we are not denying for one moment that trying to care for a child, write a book and work full time would be very difficult, we will say that it's not impossible. People do it. Instead, she basically got her book advance courtesy of UK citizens. She also got a generous arts grant (unprecedented for an unknown author) to complete her work when the welfare check wasn't cutting it.

So this was a person who did spend a very brief time in rags, but she went to the store and hand-picked the rags she chose to wear.

And now she has a throne.

Kurt Warner

The Rags to Riches Story:

We've all gotten the email about a young man named Kurtis and a pretty girl named Brenda, who worked at a local super market together. They met, got married and the (twist) ending is that Kurtis became Kurt Warner: The man who went from stocking groceries to winning a Superbowl MVP!

So all you dudes out there, grinding away long hours in the stockroom stacking dog food and altering the expiration dates on the sour cream; you used to play some ball in school, right? This could be you! Hanging onto those dreams doesn't make you like that sad uncle in Napoleon Dynamite! You're just the next "Kurtis" Warner!

Why it's a Load of Crap:

You know how long Kurt Warner actually stocked groceries for? According to Warner himself, "A few weeks." So how did he have time to meet his wife, and reenact the entire plot of a romantic comedy? He didn't. The tale is just as fictional as the above rags to riches stories. And even worse, the real story is actually more interesting.

More interesting than he looks, somehow.

Just like Gates, Warner was incredibly gifted from a young age. He was his college conference's offensive player of the year as a senior. He and Brenda met when he was a promising college quarterback, and when he couldn't land a job in the NFL, he went to the Arena league and was a star there. He went to play in Europe, starred there, then got picked up on an NFL roster.

So he was never "Kurtis the Stockboy." He was always Kurt Warner, that guy waiting for a roster spot to open up in the NFL. Finally, he got his chance with the Rams thanks to the inspirational drive and determination of safety Rodney Harrison, who destroyed the knee of the guy starting ahead of Warner (Trent Green) in an exhibition game. The rest is history.

Inspiration strikes!

But as Deadspin recently pointed out, the real tragedy of this particular heaping spoonful of sugar-coated bullshit is that it downplays what the couple--particularly Kurt's wife--really went through.

In reality, Brenda caught more bad breaks than most blues musicians sing about in an entire career. She's a former Marine, and was married to another Marine before she met Kurt. Her first husband developed a brain tumor that would cause immense seizures. So much so, that one attack caused him to drop their newborn baby, resulting in permanent brain damage. Their marriage fell apart.

A few years later, her parents were killed by a goddamn tornado.

Brenda, in a rare moment of not getting shit on by life.

The fact that she didn't collapse into a drunken heap--or go on a shooting spree--means she should have a fucking email forward of her own, instead of being the female prop for Kurt's tale. She's the one who made it to hell and back; he's just one of countless dudes who "persevered" as a pro athlete because he wasn't qualified to do anything else (see: grocery bagging job).

Also, they appear to be aging in reverse like Benjamin Button.

But now he's set to play in the Super Bowl--again--and they're both filthy rich. Good for them (and by them, we mean Brenda). It's not like they don't deserve it. But like with Mr. Gates, the real moral of the story is that talent and hard work are great ... but success may never have come without a whole bunch of help along the way. We just hope that every Christmas the Warner family sends a very large gift basket to one Mr. Rodney Harrison.

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Top 50 dumb blonde quotes: Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson

Top 50 dumb blonde quotes
Top 50 dumb blonde quotes .... some of which come from heiress Paris Hilton.

HERE are the top 50 dumb blonde jokes cracked by Hollywood's hottest actors and socialites, complied by The Sun newspaper in London.

1) Paris Hilton talking to press about the US chain store: "Wal-Mart... do they like make walls there?"

Gallery - Paris invades Australia

2) Jessica Simpson on NewleyWeds: “Is this chicken, what I have, or is this fish? I know it's tuna, but it says 'Chicken by the Sea.'

Gallery - Sexy Jessica Simpson

3) Alicia Silverstone on her role in Clueless: "I think that the film was very deep. I think it was deep in the way that it was very light. I think lightness has to come from a very deep place if it's true lightness."

4) Chantelle Houghton when Big Brother said she had changed since becoming a celebrity: “I've changed? What do you mean... I've changed my clothes?"

5) Jodie Marsh in a recent interview: "Eskimos are uncivilised because they don't have any shops."

6) Paris Hilton on her technique on the red carpet: "I don't really think, I just walk."

7) Jessica Simpson on her first day at high school: "A teacher asked us if anybody knew the names of the continents. I was sooo excited. I was like, Damn it! It's my first day of 7th grade, I'm in junior high and I know this answer. So I raised my hand, I was the first one, and I said A-E-I-O-U!"

8) Goldie Horn on her favourite types of films: "Comedy is funny".

9) Sam Fox on fitness clothes: "I’ve got 10 pairs of training shoes - one for every day of the week."

10) Britney Spears on her taste in clothes: "So many people have asked me how I could possibly be a role model and dress like a tramp and get implants... all I have to say is that self-esteem is how you look at yourself and I feel good enough about myself so wear that kind of clothing... the breast implant issue has nothing to do with that..."

Gallery - Britney Spears gets ripped abs back

11) BB's Helen Adam’s on education: "The worst thing is when the press call me a dizzy blonde - I got a B in Drama, a D in English, I did a hairdressing course and a beauty certificate."

12) Lady Victoria Hervey on the homeless: "It's so bad being homeless in winter. They should go somewhere warm like the Caribbean where they can eat fresh fish all day."

13) Britney on Japan "I've never really wanted to go to Japan. Simply because I don't like eating fish. And I know that's very popular out there in Africa."

14) Jessica Simpson when offered buffalo wings: "Sorry I don't eat buffalo."

15) Paris Hilton on her fame: "There's nobody in the world like me. I think every decade has an iconic blonde, like Marilyn Monroe or Princess Diana and, right now, I’m that icon."

16) Chantelle Houghton on George Galloway: "He looks at us like we're stupid, scatty, uneducated girls. He's a right chauvinistic pig, whatever that means!"

17) Cameron Diaz on science: "I've been noticing gravity since I was very young."

Gallery - Dazzling Diaz

18) Britney Spears on where she might start her theatre career: "I would rather start out somewhere small, like London or England.”

19) BB's Helen Adams on magic man Paul Daniels: "Yeah, you know Jack Daniels... he does all the magic stuff!"

20) Christina Aguilera on film festivals: "So where’s the Cannes film festival being held this year?"

Gallery - Xtina in action

21) Paris Hilton on her career choices: "First wanted to be a veterinarian. And then I realised you had to give them shots to put them to sleep, so I decided I'd just buy a bunch of animals and have them in my house instead."

22) Alicia Douvall on motherhood: "I think a 16-year-old with a nice, sexy figure will do really well as a model as long as she's managed well. That's why I'm happy for Georgia to have a boob job because it will give her a career."

23) Chantelle Houghton on hearing George Galloway was an MP: "Does that mean you work in that big room with the green seats?"

24) Britney on capital punishment: "I am for the death penalty. Who commits terrible acts must get a fitting punishment. That way he learns the lesson for the next time."

25) BB2's Helen Adams on pulses: "How much chicken is there in chick peas?"

26) Chanelle Hayes on her Posh spice obsession: “I like what she (Victoria Beckham) wears. That's what magazines are all about - there's always a picture of a celebrity and where to buy a replica of what they're wearing. It's not as if I'm doing anything weird.”

27) Paris Hilton on her title: "I don't want to be known as the Hilton heiress, because I didn't do anything for that."

28) Tara Reid on her fellow blonde celeb: "I make Jessica Simpson look like a rock scientist."

Gallery - Tarty Tara Reid

29) Ivana Trump on literature: "Fiction writing is great. You can make up almost anything."

30) Christina Aguilera on herself: "I'm an ocean, because I'm really deep. If you search deep enough you can find rare exotic treasures."

31) Britney Spears on her first tour: "Where the hell is Australia anyway?"

32) Alicia Douvall on surgery: "I know it (plastic surgeries) will kill me. But I'd rather die trying to sort things out."

33) Jodie Marsh on cooking: "Is an egg a vegetable?"

34) Kimberly Stewart on Jennifer Aniston: "I like her cos she's like, homely. She must have something else going on cos it's not like she's gorgeous or anything.”

35) Jessica Simpson on her mood at the VH1 '05 video awards: "Isn’t it weird I’m getting all emotionable."

36) Helen Adams on BB2 : "I probably sound Welsh on the telly."

37) Mariah Carey on the death of the King of Jordan: "I loved Jordan. He was one of the greatest athletes of our time."

Gallery - Sexy Diva Mariah

38) Chantelle Houghton on different types of doctors: "What’s a gynaecologist?"

39) Pamela Anderson on her secret to success: "I don't think about anything too much . . . If I think too much, it kind of freaks me out!"

Gallery - Pammy Down Under

40) Ivana Trump on getting one over on her ex's new girlfriend: “Gorgeous hair is the best revenge.”

41) Brooke Shields on her campaign against smoking: "Smoking kills. If you're killed, you've lost a very important part of your life."

42) Heather Locklear on being proud of her heritage: "From an early age I was aware of what America meant, and how the Marines at Camp Pendleton were ready to defend us at a moment's notice. I also remember what fabulous bodies those troops had."

43) Jessica Simpson on her scantily clad videos: "I'm definitely shy, so it was definitely acting for me to drop a trench coat and be in a bikini and try to get my cousins out of trouble by using my body. That was definitely acting!"

44) Chantelle Houghton working out the shopping budget: "Eleventy-twelve pence? I don't get it. How much is that then?"

45) Britney on why she did a cover of I Love Rock and Roll: "I always loved Pat Benatar."

46) Emma Bunton on moobs: "I wish men had boobs because I like the feel of them. It's so funny - when I record I sing with a hand over each of them, maybe it's a comfort thing."

47) Cyndi Crawford on modelling: "In the studio, I do try to have a thought in my head, so that it's not like a blank stare."

48) The late Anna Nicole Smith on suicide bombers: "Doesn't that hurt?"

49) Jessica Simpson to the President when visiting the White House: "I love what you’ve done with the place!"

Gallery - Mischa, Mischa, Mischa!

50) Mischa Barton on being blessed with looks: "Pretty people aren't as accepted as other people. It comes with all these stigmas."

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