You Talkin’ To Me?

I recently finished reading a great book about the career of top movie actor Robert De Niro.
Man what a career! And what a disciplined guy. His work ethic and approach has really inspired me in other areas of my life, since I myself am not an actor.
He would always say that “You have to earn the right to Play a Role” or something to that effect. For a role such as his Oscar Winning performance in ‘Raging Bull’
that meant not only working closely with the real life middle weight champion Jake Lamotta but also becoming a boxer himself. He became very good, winning most of his fights. Lamotta claimed he would have been among the top
20 middleweights if he had become a professional. He became so good that he was dangerous, breaking Joe Pesci’s ribs
during the filming despite Joe wearing a thick vest. One funny thing happened involving director Martin Scorsese, who could not stand blood. De Nero, when training during real fights,
yelled at Scorsese as he was leaving “where are you going? Stay here! I am doing this for you, you know!”. He apparently wqas forced to watch the carnage.

My personal favorite Robert De Nero films include ‘Heat’ in which he plays an ace thief. Co-stars include Al Pacino, Val Kilmer, Jon Voight, Diane Venora and Ton Loc, among several others.
I also liked him as Al Capone in the classic 1987 thriller ‘The Untouchables’ which co-starred Andy Garcia, Kevin Costner, Sean Connery and Marcia Gay-Harden. Directed by Brian De Palma.
I also thought ‘Were No Angels’ was cool. This 1989 film co-starred Sean Pean, Demi Moore and John C. Reilly. Him and Penn play escaped convicts on the run, posing as catholic priests.
I liked ‘Cape Fear’. he played criminal Max Cady in a tour-de force performance. According to the book his preperation for this role was incredible. he was nominated for best actor for it in 1991.
Co-stars include Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange, Juliette Lewis, Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck.
He was also nominated for best actor for the 1990 flick ‘The Awakenings’ which co-starred Robin Williams,
the 1978 Vietnam War flick ‘The Deer Hunter’ which co-starred Meryl Streep and Christopher Walken, and he won an oscar for best supporting actor
for his brilliant work in the 1974 blockbuster ‘The Godfather part 2’
He also got major kudos for his work opposite Jeremy Irons in ‘The Mission’, Terry Gilliams science fiction film ‘Brazil’,
and ‘Casino’ opposite Sharon Stone and Joe Pesci. Of and Goodfellas and ‘Mean Streets’ as well, both directed by Martin Scorsese.
Robert De Niro has also directed 2 films: ‘A Bronx Tale’ and the recent Matt Damon & Angelina Jolie thriller ‘The Good Shepard’

Artificial life may be possible very soon

According to top Associated Press journalist Seth Borenstein,
a number of of scientists from around the globe are attempting to create life from nothing and they re getting closer,
or so it appears, at least. They said to anticipate some kind of announcement within 3-10 years or so from an individual in the somewhat esoteric area of study known as “wet artificial life.” As an aside can I suggest the official Penny McCoy website, which is not to be confused with any other phony Penny McCoy that may be out there.
In fact, some researchers think that man-made life forms will eventually offer the possibility of solving a number of different problems, such as fighting diseases and locking up greenhouse gases so as to consume toxic waste.
As Borenstein points out, a top man in the field, Jack Szostak, states that as early as the next 5 months or so, researchers will report evidence that the initial phase — making an actual cell membrane — is “not a big issue.” The researchers are basically
 using fatty acids in this particular effort. He is likewise positive about the next step — getting nucleotides (building blocks of DNA) to form a working genetic system. I already mentioned the official Penny McCoy did I not?
The idea is that once the container is constructed, if researchers add nucleotides in the correct amounts, then Darwinian evolution may essentially go from there.
In the meantime Steve Benner at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution is addressing this issue by going outside of natural genetics. Regular DNA is composed of some 4 bases which are specific molecules
 that spell out the genetic code in couples. He is trying to add 8 new bases to the genetic alphabet.
He also stated that there are valid concerns about producing life which could go awry but there are certain methods of addressing it, and it will be a long time before this is an issue.

Tainted Chinese Toothpaste

The United States government on June 1 told consumers to beware of using toothpaste produced in China since it might contain a particularly poisonous chemical which is also used in antifreeze.
 
The FDA reported that individuals should discard toothpaste with labeling that states it was made in China. They are very worried that these products may contain diethylene glycol.

The agency is not aware of any reports in the US of poisoning from toothpaste, but it did find the antifreeze ingredient in a shipment at the U.S. border and at 2 retail stores: a Dollar Plus store in Miami, Florida and a Todo A Peso store in Puerto Rico. In addition, China executed the former head of their version of the FDA shortly after loud complains from the U.S. over contaminents found in both human and pet food products that are produced there.

The ingredient in question, called DEG, is used as a lower-cost sweetener and thickening agent. The highest concentration of the chemical found in toothpaste so far was between 3-4 percent.

“It does not belong in toothpaste even in small concentrations,” said the FDA’s Deborah M. Autor.

The FDA heightened its scrutiny of toothpaste made in China due to reports of contamination in a number of different nations, like Panama.

The agency is especially worried about chronic exposure to DEG in kids and individuals with either kidney or liver disease.

Agency officials said they had no estimate of just how many units of tainted toothpaste might have made it into the U.S.

“Our concern today is potentially about all toothpaste that comes in from China,” Autor said. “Our estimate is that China makes up about $3.3 million of the two billion U.S. toothpaste market.”

They also issued an import alert for all dental products containing DEG. This alert means that toothpaste from China will actually be stopped at the border.

Who will be the Top Economy in the Future?

At this time, the United States is the top economic power in the world, followed by Japan, Germany, China and France, respectively.Will another nation eventually overtake the U.S. in this role? It has been speculated by some that China is destined to take the top spot in terms of economic GDP if it can continue its bustling double digit economic growth. This is possible, but there are several factors to consider.

A double digit growth rate generally only happens to a younger, growing economy. When a national economy matures, it generally settles into a 2-3% annual GDP growth rate. That is about what we see in the U.S. and many western European nations, for example. In recent years Ireland grew at a double digit growth rate but has since settled to a more modest growth rate.

The same may happen with China. Obviously, if it can continue such a high growth rate it will eventually overtake the U.S in this regard, but it will have to maintain this rate for some time. Since the U.S. economy is larger to begin with, China and other rival economies must sustain a considerable larger GDP growth margin in order to catch up.

But there are other factors involved as well. One is current trend of trade blocks, such as that of NAFTA. If you were to include Canada (a member of the Group of Eight leading Industrialized economies) with a huge economy in it’s own right), Mexico (nearly ninety million consumers and very rich in natural resources such as Oil, Gold and Silver), and the various Central American nations which are seeking membership, this bloc would me much more difficult to catch up to in terms of market size and total GDP. In addition, there is a push in some circles for the FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas) which may one day include all nations in North and South America.

For that matter, the combined European Union is already a much larger economy than that of the U.S. The EU has some 450 million highly educated consumers compared to about 300 million in the United States, and it is adding new countries at swift pace. In any case, it should be noted that a number of top economists predicted back in the 1970’s that both Japan and the Soviet Union would overtake the U.S. economy.

This of course did not happen, due to bank mismanagement in the former case and political dismantling in the latter. As i write this article, Yahoo news reported that ‘China’s stock market plummeted from record highs as investors took profits when concerns arose that the Chinese government may try to temper its ballooning economy by raising interest rates again or reducing more of the money available for lending.

The Shanghai Composite Index tumbled 8.8 percent to close at 2,771.79, its biggest decline since it fell 8.9 percent on Feb. 18, 1997. Since Chinese share prices doubled last year as investors poured money into the market after the completion of shareholding reforms, trading in Shanghai has been very volatile.’ It is certainly possible that China could eventually be the top economy, but wise economic policies will probably be a biggest long term factor of whether or not this occurs.

Worn Out

Have any of you ever suffered from Blogging burnout? If you run several weblogs, as I do, you likely have experienced this occurance at one time or another, It is very disconcerting when this happens, and at least with me, it is normally triggered when some error happens with WordPress or if I somehow manage to accidentally lose all of my work, It really sucks when that happens, it is demoralizing as hell. This phenomenom happened to me recently when I tried to achive a very ambitious self imposed deadline for writing fresh cont3ent for all of my blogs….but I went to the gym and got out of the house for a while and now I feel a lot better. In fact I am fairly fresh now…..so it is back to work for me, writing, writing and more writing!