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Archive for the ‘Texas’ Category

Cheap Chic Weddings announced the winner of their fourth annual Toilet Paper Wedding Dress contest at a ceremony at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium, Times Square. Three finalists were flown in from Illinois, Texas and Hawaii to showcase their hand-made, intricately detailed dresses – which look like regular wedding gowns – in front of a panel of judges.

Laura Gawne and partners Susan Bain and Roxie Radford, who operate the website on saving money on weddings, based the contest on the popular bridal shower game. Cheap-Chic-Weddings.com asked their readers to create wedding gowns and headpieces strictly using Charmin bath tissue, glue and/or tape – no sequins, beads or other “normal” wedding dress adornments.

Toilet Paper Wedding Dress“The level of talent that presents itself each year always amazes us,” said Laura Gawne. Roxie Radford added, “The entries included details like faux embroidery, ruffles, pleats and lace effects!” This year’s first place winner, Katrina Chalifoux of Rockford, IL received a $1,000 American Express gift card. The dresses from all three finalists will be displayed in Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museums! Around the world.

Charmin bath tissue and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! sponsored this year’s top prizes. Wipe it off 🙂

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Obama\'s faith outreach; how high food prices are affecting the organic food market; and a discussion on whether \COVER:The Post-American World” (p. 24). Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria, in an excerpt from his forthcoming book, “The Post-American World,” writes that in America “we are still debating the nature and extent of anti-Americanism. One side says that the problem is real and worrying and that we must woo the world back. The other says this is the inevitable price of power and that many of these countries are envious – and vaguely French – so we can safely ignore their griping. But while we argue over why they hate us, ‘they’ have moved on, and are now far more interested in other, more dynamic parts of the globe. The world has shifted from anti-Americanism to post- Americanism.” In the excerpt, Zakaria explores not the decline of America but “the rise of the rest – the rest of the world.”

POLITICS:Obama’s New Gospel” (p. 32). Washington Correspondent Eve Conant and Senior White House Correspondent Richard Wolffe report on the efforts of Barack Obama’s campaign to get the word out to religious voters that the candidate is serious about their concerns and that his relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. is over. Voters in Indiana want to know if Obama believes Wright’s more controversial statements and what is the status of their relationship.

POLITICS:A Turbulent Pastor” (p. 34). White House Correspondent Holly Bailey reports on Pastor John Hagee, the San Antonio televangelist who has offended Roman Catholics and other groups, and his endorsement of John McCain. McCain and his aides draw a sharp distinction between his relationship to Hagee and Obama’s ties to the Rev. Wright. McCain’s aides attribute the Hagee controversy to poor vetting. But even some Republicans (not affiliated with the campaign) privately wonder how the pastor’s extreme views slipped through without notice.

TRAGEDY:She Thought She Could Do Better” (p. 40). Washington Correspondent Eve Conant reports on the apparent suicide of “the D.C. Madam” Deborah Jeane Palfrey. During the course of numerous conversations with Newsweek over the last year, Palfrey portrayed herself as a self-made woman looking for the American Dream and as a feminist who wanted to “empower” woman. She made available to Newsweek a half-finished 95-page memoir she described as “my little literary undertaking.” Her story – about her “little cottage industry” – provides a revealing insight into the motives and lifestyles of high-end prostitutes.

JUSTICE:Look Past Polygamy” (p. 42). Los Angeles Bureau Chief Andrew Murr reports that for decades, the lessons of the disastrous 1953 raid on the polygamous community of Short Creek, Arizona, home to the roughly 500 men, women and children of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, had exerted great influence on law enforcement’s attitudes toward FLDS. And now all are watching to see what will happen in Eldorado, Texas, following last month’s raid on the Yearning for Zion Ranch.

TECHNOLOGY:The Art of Mayhem and Murder” (p. 43). General Editor N’Gai Croal reviews Grand Theft Auto IV, after playing it 10 hours or so. He writes that it’s a “much slower burn” than its predecessors, which introduced you much sooner to the mayhem “that has twisted its critics’ knickers.” Croal writes that for the first several hours it’s all about the relationships your alter ego Niko Bellic has, before you even see a gun.

PROJECT GREEN:A Chain That Pigs Would Die For” (p. 45). General Editor Anna Kuchment reports on Chipotle Mexican Grill CEO Steve Ells’s success with his mission to serve humanely raised, sustainably grown food at his restaurants, including meat and dairy products that are free of antibiotics and hormones. Since launching what it calls Food With Integrity, Chipotle has been serving sour cream and cheese free of the hormone rBGH, organic beans, and naturally raised pork, chicken and meat. Last month it announced it would buy locally grown produce whenever possible.

Natural Response” (p. 48). Midwest Bureau Chief Keith Naughton reports that with food prices rising, sales of organic food are starting to wane. The healthy-food craze mushroomed this decade, growing 150 percent since 2001 to reach $19 billion in sales last year. But now with gas near $4 a gallon, the $7 gallon of organic milk doesn’t look as good. After years of 20 percent annual sales growth, consumers are curtailing their consumption of organics, according to market researcher the Hartman Group.

Empty-Net Syndrome” (p. 49). Special Correspondent Paul Tolme reports that for the first time, federal and state fisheries officials have closed the salmon harvest season in California and in most of Oregon. The reason: Only 90,000 fish returned last fall to the Sacramento River chinook run, down 90 percent from just a few years ago. Experts blame water diversions for agriculture and communities, pollution, dams that have cut off salmon from their upstream spawning grounds and unfavorable ocean conditions that diminished food sources in the Pacific.

TELEVISION:Legend or Loser: Does ‘Seinfeld’ Still Hold Up After 10 Years?” (p. 58). Nope. Arts and Entertainment Editor Marc Peyser writes that when “Seinfeld” went off the air 10 years ago, it was widely considered to be a classic, and many fans call it the best sitcom ever. “Was it either? Or neither,” he writes. “As someone who doesn’t dip into its bottomless rerun pool very much, I was surprised when I sat down with the show again by how poorly ‘Seinfeld’ holds up. What once seemed smart … feels like shtik. The pacing-no show had ever packed in so many scenes, some of them lasting a few seconds-now seems formulaic and forced.”

Yep.” (p. 59). Senior Editor David Noonan counters Peyser, and writes that the show is still funny, mostly because of the supporting cast of characters that play off the four leads, such as Newman, George’s parents and Jerry’s parents. “Although it’s about four friends in New York in the ’90s, ‘Seinfeld’s’ best jokes have almost nothing to do with all that, another reason it endures. The contamination of Jerry’s car by a parking valet’s lethal BO, Kramer’s finding the old Merv Griffin set and turning his apartment into a talk show, the invention of the Mansiere.”

TIP SHEET:Cutting Back Your Hours” (p. 60). Chicago Correspondent Karen Springen reports that today more than 25 million Americans work part time and employers are making it easier to work fewer hours: 36 percent now give employees the chance to work part time, according to a survey. Springen offers some guidance on how to work part time successfully: know how to land the job, set ground rules up front and be flexible.

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Microsoft Research has recognized five innovative, young faculty members from across the nation to join the ranks of Microsoft Research New Faculty Fellows. This program now encompasses 20 academic researchers whose exceptional talent for research and thought leadership make them standouts in their fields. The selected professors are exploring breakthrough, high-impact research that has the potential to help solve some of today’s most challenging societal problems.

“We want to make it easier for early-career faculty to take risks in their research,” said Sailesh Chutani, senior director of Microsoft External Research. “We believe our New Faculty Fellows program provides young professors with the means to pursue research with the potential to make a profound impact.”

About 100 young faculty members from the United States and Canada were nominated for the 2008 awards. The five 2008 New Faculty Fellows are as follows:

Grauman’s work is in the area of inferring object properties such as shape or pose from electronic images, which has major implications for data mining and search.Kristen Grauman, University of Texas at Austin. Grauman’s research focuses on designing the algorithms and learning processes that will allow computers to understand and organize visual information. In particular, she is interested in tackling the major scalability issues that surround visual recognition and search. The goal is to make it possible to efficiently index large volumes of visual data (images or videos) based on their content – a functionality that has the potential to greatly benefit a variety of users, from consumers to scientists and engineers.

Hohenberger has done some groundbreaking work in the area of cryptography, including electronic transactions, and verifying the authenticity of incoming messages and encrypting outgoing ones in energy, data and time constrained applications.Susan Hohenberger, Johns Hopkins University. Hohenberger focuses on cryptography, the art of securely communicating. She is interested in designing secure solutions for pervasive settings, where devices everywhere are constantly talking to their environments, which may require the ability to quickly process a large number of incoming messages. Her research includes an emphasis on developing privacy-friendly technologies, such as anonymous communication and electronic cash.

Kleinberg is developing algorithms and theory to address complex interactions in a networked environment. His work has implications for the fields of online learning, routing and information transmission in networks.Robert Kleinberg, Cornell University. Kleinberg studies the theory of algorithm design under informational limitations. This means that he looks at practical questions in computer science – such as how to design more robust adaptive systems for Web search, network routing, online auctions and product recommendations – and address these questions using mathematically rigorous techniques that build on ideas from learning theory, game theory and information theory.

Phil Levis is working on advanced operating systems for sensor networks, which has tremendous implications for environmental science and other fields.Philip Levis, Stanford University. Levis researches software and networking for tiny, low-power, wireless sensors. He focuses on making these networks of sensors easier to deploy and maintain by researching ultrasimple algorithms that use robust local rules to achieve desirable global behaviors. Software he develops is used by hundreds of research groups worldwide and runs on millions of nodes.

Russ Tedrake has taken a whole new view on the control of robots, incorporating the physics of natural motion into the design of his controls.Russell Tedrake, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Tedrake focuses on computational and machine-learning approaches to control system design for robots that walk, run, swim and fly more like real animals. He believes that to succeed, both the mechanical design of the robots and the algorithms for controller design must exploit the natural, nonlinear dynamics of locomotion. In the next few years, he aims to build bipedal robots that can walk and jump across piles of rocks, and develop robotic birds with flapping wings that can gracefully land on a perch.

“I’m delighted and honored to be selected for the Microsoft fellowship, and to be included among the group of past and present winners whom I deeply admire,” said Robert Kleinberg, assistant professor in the department of computer science at Cornell University. “The most important resource that my research requires is interaction with gifted colleagues, and the fellowship funds give me a wide range of options, such as supporting graduate students and postdocs, and organizing symposia. I’m grateful to Microsoft Research for this extremely generous gift and for the hugely positive influence they’ve had on my growth as a researcher over the years.”

The Microsoft Research New Faculty Fellowship program was created in 2005 to honor first-, second- and third-year university professors who demonstrate exceptional talent for unique research and thought leadership in computer science and related fields. These awards provide funds to encourage creative freedom and collaboration opportunities among tomorrow’s most promising new professors.

The Microsoft Research New Faculty Fellowship program provides $1 million in funding each year. Each chosen fellow receives $200,000 to be used at his or her discretion. Additional resources include software, invitations to academic and professional conferences, and the opportunity to engage firsthand with leading researchers from Microsoft Research. As an unrestricted gift, the fellows have the freedom to plan their research agenda, hire grad students, build labs and purchase equipment.

According to the eligibility criteria, only one nominee per university may be entered into the program’s rigorous, multitier selection process, which culminated this year with 11 finalists being interviewed face to face by a distinguished panel of Microsoft Research executives and researchers, as well as faculty members from some of the nation’s leading universities. From the 11 finalists, five were chosen as the 2008 Microsoft Research New Faculty Fellows.

“Microsoft is committed to the New Faculty Fellows program with its potential to create exciting opportunities for the computer science researchers, educators and leaders of tomorrow,” Chutani said. “For the pipeline of computer science and engineering students to increase, there also needs to be a pipeline of dynamic faculty like these to inspire and lead them.”

These awards are part of Microsoft Research’s broader efforts aimed at funding innovative academic research that will significantly extend the state of the art in computing and ensure a rich future for computing through recognition and support of the next generation of computer science leaders.

About Microsoft Research

Founded in 1991, Microsoft Research is dedicated to conducting both basic and applied research in computer science and software engineering. Its goals are to enhance the user experience on computing devices, reduce the cost of writing and maintaining software, and invent novel computing technologies. Researchers focus on more than 55 areas of computing and collaborate with leading academic, government and industry researchers to advance the state of the art in such areas as graphics, speech recognition, user-interface research, natural language processing, programming tools and methodologies, operating systems and networking, and the mathematical sciences. Microsoft Research currently employs more than 800 people in six labs located in Redmond, Wash.; Cambridge, Mass.; Silicon Valley, Calif.; Cambridge, England; Beijing, China; and Bangalore, India. Microsoft Research collaborates openly with colleges and universities worldwide to enhance the teaching and learning experience, inspire technological innovation, and broadly advance the field of computer science. More information can be found at http://www.research.microsoft.com.

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Bloggers and social media enthusiasts on the Internet have weighed in on the heated race for the democratic presidential nomination, and while the press and pundits are declaring Clinton’s victory in Pennsylvania a possible turning point in her road to the White House, Obama is still the big winner in the blogosphere.

According to RelevantNoise, Zeta Interactive’s technology that mines the Internet’s social media landscape – including blogs, as well as Consumer Generated Media (CGM) – the amount of buzz, or volume of posts, on the Internet regarding Barack Obama continues to be higher than Hillary Clinton. In fact, while both candidates received a substantial boost in buzz from the Pennsylvania primary, Obama’s spike far exceeded Clinton’s despite her win – with the volume of posts on Obama registering more than twice that of Clinton’s.

Volume of posts on Barack Obama versus Hillary Clinton from March (3/24/08) - April (4/24/08).

However, although Obama clearly wins in terms of buzz among the social media landscape, not all of the buzz is positive. While Obama registered a 70 percent share of voice among positive posts on the social internet, he also recorded nearly the same percentage of share within the negative posts. This means that of all the bloggers who posted negative opinions on one of the two candidates, Obama stole the vast majority of the share.

Tone comparison for Barack Obama versus Hillary Clinton from March (3/24/08) - April (4/24/08).

RelevantNoise is a Web-based, user-driven social media mining tool that instantly taps into the over 75 million blogs, as well as message boards and online communities within the Internet’s social media landscape, providing real-time feedback and insight on the consumer trends and opinions that help drive their behaviors. A growing number of organizations rely on the technology to collect vital business and competitive intelligence to help drive decisions regarding their brands and products.

In addition to measuring the volume and tone of conversations across the blogosphere, RelevantNoise also measures the influence level of bloggers, and provides links to all related posts. In the case of Barack Obama, RelevantNoise detected a significant increase in both positive and negative posts from a mixture of thousands of online authors, ranging from very influential bloggers to lesser-known authors. The technology is also able to measure competitors’ Internet buzz as well, including share-of-voice. So that a company or political campaign can compare the volume and tone of buzz surrounding its organization vs. the competition to help gauge the effectiveness of messaging and/or quickly change strategy when necessary.

“We used our RelevantNoise technology to gain insight on the democratic presidential race, and determine what was being said about each candidate heading into the critical upcoming primaries,” said Al DiGuido, CEO of Zeta Interactive. “Searching on public reaction to important news topics such as the Obama/Clinton race continues to illustrate the immediate value of blog mining intelligence and analysis to businesses throughout the world.”

Zeta Interactive continues to innovate the next generation of digital marketing for Fortune 1000 customers, and its clients with full-service digital marketing offerings, including its award-winning RelevantNoise technology.

About Zeta Interactive

Zeta Interactive is a full-service digital marketing agency offering a wide range of services – from email and search marketing, to web site development, creative, business intelligence services and more. The company aims to be the leading provider of integrated, interactive services that help marketers realize the full potential of the Internet to build brands, increase sales, improve processes, and reduce costs. Zeta Interactive’s specialty is in crafting strategies and programs for customers that help them acquire, retain, up-sell, cross-sell and win back their customers-cost effectively and efficiently. The company does so by providing superior proprietary technology and a marketing approach that is focused on accountability, measurability and ROI metrics.

Headquartered in New York City, Zeta Interactive has more than 300 employees worldwide located in California, Florida, Idaho, Nevada, New Jersey, Texas, Rhode Island and India. The company serves more than 200 clients currently, including such world-class companies as Time Inc., Sony Electronics Inc., and LiveNation. For more information please visit: http://www.zetainteractive.com. For more information on Zeta Interactive’s RelevantNoise go to http://www.relevantnoise.com.

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For the first-time ever, NBC’s hit summer series “America’s Got Talent,” from “American Idol” producers FremantleMedia North America and Simon Cowell’s SYCO Television, will team up with MySpace, the world’s most popular social network, on a virtual audition city episode as part of a nationwide search for the hottest performers in the country to compete in the blockbuster reality show’s third season.

A Virtual “America’s Got Talent” Audition City for MySpace users will go live Tuesday, April 29. Individuals can go to MySpace (http://www.myspace.com/americasgottalent) and upload video of their talents from Tuesday, April 29 – Monday, May 5. The shows producers will review submissions and the selected participants will be flown to Las Vegas to participate in an audition show. The Virtual Audition City episode will feature the selected MySpace acts. This show will be treated as any other audition city show and the acts will be eligible for the million dollar grand prize.

With the talent search open to competition acts of all ages, “America’s Got Talent,” hosted by Jerry Springer and presided over by celebrity judges David Hasselhoff, Piers Morgan and Sharon Osbourne, has brought the variety format back to the forefront of American culture by showcasing performers from across the country. Each week, the show features a colorful array of hopeful stars, including singers, dancers, comedians, contortionists, impressionists, jugglers, magicians and ventriloquists, all vying for their chance to strut and perform on stage in the hopes they’ll win the viewing audiences votes.

“I think this is an incredible idea and it gives everyone an unprecedented opportunity through MySpace to showcase their amazing talents and have a shot at winning a million dollars and hopefully becoming a big star,” said Simon Cowell, Creator/Executive Producer of “America’s Got Talent.”

“This partnership allows us to not only promote ‘America’s Got Talent’ to the MySpace audience, but also tap into the site’s huge online talent base, who we might not have reached through the traditional audition process,” said John Miller, Chief Marketing Officer, NBC Universal Television. “‘America’s Got Talent’ is the summer’s number one show because it showcases America’s best and this partnership will allow us to continue to find the most talented people in America.”

“MySpace has always served as an online platform for our community to showcase their talent,” said Josh Brooks, VP of Marketing and Content for MySpace. “Our partnership with ‘America’s Got Talent’ is a natural extension of that platform into the television arena. We’re thrilled to be able to offer this opportunity to our users and can’t wait to see their personal videos – talented or not!”

NBC.com will host additional interactive content for the show including: extended audition footage, online voting, weekly performance video highlights and video blogs where users can submit questions to the Hoff as well as read and watch his text and video blogs.

The third season, which premieres Tuesday, June 17 (9-11 p.m. ET), kicks off with audition episodes shot on-location in theaters across the nation, with the judges selecting the best acts who will advance to the “Vegas Callbacks.” The acts that make it through the “Vegas Callbacks” will then move on to the live semi-final performance episodes where the judging will be turned over to the American viewing audience who will vote each week for their favorites. The series culminates with a live finale where one act will be crowned the most talented new act in America, and walk away with a million dollar prize.

Terry Fator, a ventriloquist from Dallas, Texas, had his life changed forever last August when he was crowned the second season champion. Not only did he win the million-dollar grand prize, but his lifelong dream to headline on the Las Vegas strip came true when he signed a contract with The Las Vegas Hilton in a deal worth more than $1.5 million dollars.

“America’s Got Talent” is produced by FremantleMedia North America and Simon Cowell’s SYCO Television. Cowell, Cecile Frot-Coutaz (“American Idol”), Jason Raff (“Three Wishes”), James Sunderland (“Dancing on Ice”) and Georgie Hurford-Jones (“Britain’s Got Talent”) are executive producers.

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