Thursday, November 17, 2005

Who Are The Real Pirates?

Thursday, November 17, 2005
Who Are The Real Pirates?
By Shelly Palmer

We hear the content industry and rights holders complaining about piracy everyday: file sharing, physical piracy, theft-of-services, derivative works, etc. But has anyone stopped to think about how many times consumers are asked to pay for the same content?

Computer files may be the final form factor, but that is not stopping media companies from extracting every last bit of value from each file. Because most media is delivered through walled gardens or physical copies, even files can be resold. For example: first you pay 99¢ to purchase a song on iTunes. Then you pay $2.49 to download a portion of that song as a ringtone. You can then pay $1.99 to use a portion of that song as a ringback tone--and $1.99 on iTunes to purchase a download of the video for that song. Next comes a charge of $1.49--for a still image of the artist to use as wallpaper on your mobile device. You would rather download it for free from the Internet, but you can't get it into your phone. (Some people actually take a picture of the computer screen with their cell phone cameras to avoid this charge, but not many.)

You may pay $14.99 for the DVD of the movie that features that song and, if you are truly out of your mind, you will pay $19.99 for the CD of the album that includes that song. Then you will pay $3.95 to watch the pay-per-view or video-on-demand version of the movie--and another $6.95 for the HD VOD concert that features the same song.

If the media company has its way, you will pay $12.95 per month for the subscription to HBO that will broadcast the movie and the concert on the cable company's linear and VOD channels. Ultimately, part of your basic cable or satellite package will go to pay a per-subscriber fee to Music Choice, where you will hear the song. You may also pay $12.95 per month to a satellite radio company where you can hear the song and, if Apple continues its world dominance over the personal music player world, you will ultimately purchase a co-branded iPod with the complete collected works of this artist (including this same song) for about $200.

How many times can you sell the same master file? There doesn't seem to be any limit. You just have to keep the walls in the walled gardens up and keep the formats incompatible.

How many times will you buy the same master file? That question is being answered every day on P2P networks, via email and podcasts. Obviously, some consumers are willing to pay for the convenience of not having to bother converting their own files to be used in all of their devices. But there are far more consumers who would rather not pay for the same thing over and over again. Is there a middle ground? I doubt it, but I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Shelly Palmer is Managing Partner, Advanced Media Ventures Group LLC.

Media Post: Online Spin for Thursday, November 17, 2005:

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

David Hasselhoff

You are getting very sleepy.....

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Sunday, September 25, 2005

If We Had No Moon

If We Had No Moon
After watching the Science and Technology Channel this evening, learned an interesting fact: The moon is moving away from the earth at about 1.5 inches per year. As the moon moves further from the earth, our weather becomes more and more chaotic...along with many other of them keeping our earth spinning on its axis. So the fact is...we will one day have no moon...probably something we won't see in our lives, fortunately.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Static Electricity and Spontaneous Combustion

Power-Dressing Man Leaves Trail of Destruction

An Australian man built up a 40,000-volt charge of static electricity in his clothes as he walked, leaving a trail of scorched carpet and molten plastic and forcing firefighters to evacuate a building.

Frank Clewer, who was wearing a woolen shirt and a synthetic nylon jacket, was oblivious to the growing electrical current that was building up as his clothes rubbed together.

When he walked into a building in the country town of Warrnambool in the southern state of Victoria Thursday, the electrical charge ignited the carpet.

"It sounded almost like a firecracker," Clewer told Australian radio Friday.

"Within about five minutes, the carpet started to erupt."

Employees, unsure of the cause of the mysterious burning smell, telephoned firefighters who evacuated the building.

"There were several scorch marks in the carpet, and we could hear a cracking noise -- a bit like a whip -- both inside and outside the building," said fire official Henry Barton.

Firefighters cut electricity to the building thinking the burns might have been caused by a power surge.

Clewer, who after leaving the building discovered he had scorched a piece of plastic on the floor of his car, returned to seek help from the firefighters.

"We tested his clothes with a static electricity field meter and measured a current of 40,000 volts, which is one step shy of spontaneous combustion, where his clothes would have self-ignited," Barton said.

"I've been firefighting for over 35 years and I've never come across anything like this," he said.

Firefighters took possession of Clewer's jacket and stored it in the courtyard of the fire station, where it continued to give off a strong electrical current.

David Gosden, a senior lecturer in electrical engineering at Sydney University, told Reuters that for a static electricity charge to ignite a carpet, conditions had to be perfect.

"Static electricity is a similar mechanism to lightning, where you have clouds rubbing together and then a spark generated by very dry air above them," said Gosden.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Olivia Newton-John

This site is sweet. All the lyrics to Oliva Newton John's songs - well several of them anyways. Who knew that the White Stripe's song, Jolene, was originally by Dolly Parton, then sung by Olivia.

UPDATE - Looks like someone made them take their site down! Bummer.

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Monday, July 18, 2005

Quit My Job - Good Day

Kimberlee's Daily Aquarius Forecast

Quickie: Today you feel really bright and really light and maybe like you could float, even.

Overview: An array of exciting, exotic offers will be along now, courtesy of some equally interesting and exotic people. You'll want to accept each and every one of them. If you can't, be choosy.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Celebrity Height Facts

Find Out How Tall a Famous Person Is

Google will be glad to tell you the height of your favorite celebrity.

If you put height or tall in a search with a celebrity, google will attempt to tell you how tall that person is.

google: paris hilton tall

google: tom cruise height

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Talent Agent MegaBook - Find an agent today!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

State Motto

In case you don't know your state motto, here is a quick reference.


Alabama - Hell Yes, We Have Electricity.

Alaska - 11,623 Eskimos Can't Be Wrong!

Arizona - But It's A Dry Heat.

Arkansas - Literacy Ain't Everything.

California - By 30, Our Women Have More Plastic Than Your Honda.

Colorado - If You Don't Ski, Don't Bother.

Connecticut - Like Massachusetts, Only The Kennedy's Don't Own It Yet.

Delaware - We Really Do Like The Chemicals In Our Water.

Florida - Ask Us About Our Grandchildren.

Georgia - We Put The Fun In Fundamentalist Extremism.

Hawaii - Haka Tiki Mou Sha'ami Leeki Toru (Death To Mainland Scum, Leave Your Money)

Idaho - More Than Just Potatoes... Well, Okay, We're Not, But The Potatoes Sure Are Real Good

Illinois - Please, Don't Pronounce the "S"

Indiana - 2 Billion Years Tidal Wave Free

Iowa - We Do Amazing Things With Corn

Kansas -First Of The Rectangle States

Kentucky - Five Million People; Fifteen Last Names

Louisiana - We're Not ALL Drunk Cajun Wackos, But That's Our Tourism Campaign.

Maine - We're Really Cold, But We Have Cheap Lobster

Maryland - If You Can Dream It, We Can Tax It

Massachusetts - Our Taxes Are Lower Than Sweden's

Michigan - First Line Of Defense From The Canadians

Minnesota - 10,000 Lakes...And 10,000,000,000,000 Mosquitoes

Mississippi - Come And Feel Better About Your Own State

Missouri - Your Federal Flood Relief Tax Dollars At Work

Montana - Land Of The Big Sky, The Unabomber, Right-wing Crazies, and Very Little Else.

Nebraska - Ask About Our State Motto Contest

Nevada - Hookers and Poker!

New Hampshire - Go Away And Leave Us Alone

New Jersey - You Want A F##$%##! Motto? I Got Yer F##$%##! Motto Right here!

New Mexico - Lizards Make Excellent Pets

New York - You Have The Right To Remain Silent, You Have The Right To An Attorney...

North Carolina - Tobacco Is A Vegetable

North Dakota - We Really Are One Of The 50 States!

Ohio - At Least We're Not Michigan

Oklahoma - Like The Play, But No Singing

Oregon - Spotted Owl...It's What's For Dinner

Pennsylvania - Cook With Coal

Rhode Island - We're Not REALLY An Island

South Carolina - Remember The Civil War? Well, We Didn't Actually Surrender Yet

South Dakota - Closer Than North Dakota

Tennessee - The Edyoocashun State

Texas - Se Hablo Ingles

Utah - Our Jesus Is Better Than Your Jesus

Vermont - Ay, Yep

Virginia - Who Says Government Stiffs And Slackjaw Yokels Don't Mix?

Washington - We have more rain than you do

West Virginia - One Big Happy Family...Really!

Wisconsin - Come Cut The Cheese!

Wyoming - Where Men Are Men... And The Sheep Are Scared

Monday, June 13, 2005

"If" Rudyard Kipling


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

Golden Gate Bridge - San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge - San Francisco

Originally uploaded by Kymbrla.
Postcard shot taken by the infamous Christopher Lee the week of June 6th, 2005.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Texas Chainsaw Massacre - KILLER FOUND!

Canada! Who knew!

Massachusetts lawmakers on Thursday called for a closer look at border security after customs officials allowed a man carrying a sword, a hatchet, brass knuckles and a chain saw stained with what appeared to be blood to cross the U.S.-Canadian border.


Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Court Says Gay Man Can Drive

Kymrbrla's Note: It is unbelievable that this story is from 2005. Seems like it would be from year 1705.

Rome, Italy

A Sicilian court condemned road authorities Monday for suspending the driving license of a man after finding out he was gay.

The court on the Mediterranean island said being gay was merely "a personality disturbance" which had no bearing on a person's ability to drive, Ansa news agency reported.

The 23-year-old man, who was identified as Danilo G., got into trouble with the road license authorities in the city of Catania after they discovered he had been exempted from military service because he was gay.

The authorities suspended his driving license ahead of further checks on his "suitability" to take the wheel.

The man's lawyer, Giuseppe Lipera, denounced the move as "utterly scandalous and offensive" and has demanded 500,000 euros ($613,500) in damages.

"Danilo ... is deeply perturbed by what has happened. He has lost his hair and is suffering shock," Lipera was quoted as saying by Ansa.

In a written ruling released Monday, the Sicilian court said: "It is clear that sexual preferences do not in any way influence a person's ability to drive motor cars safely."

The judges added that homosexuality "cannot be considered a true and proper psychiatric illness, being a mere personality disturbance."

Homosexuality is legal in Italy, but openly anti-gay comments from politicians and officials rarely cause a stir.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Hey! Isn't that Dad up on that billboard?

People who solicit prostitutes in Oakland, California, could find their faces plastered on billboards under a new shaming program that one civil rights group calls bad public policy.

The city of 400,000 across the bay from San Francisco started putting up billboards on Wednesday showing men arrested for soliciting sex. Other signs invite prostitutes to quit by calling a help line.

"This idea came out of just thinking about new ideas, doing something to deal with this increasing problem, especially with the exploitation of underage women," said Oakland City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente, who champions the approach.

The photos on the billboards were partially blurred so the men are not easily identifiable. But in the future photos might be displayed unaltered, an aide to De La Fuente said.

Critics say the technique -- which De La Fuente said has been used in Texas -- recalls medieval public humiliations.

"It doesn't seem to us to be appropriate for Oakland to be using shaming as an additional and extrajudicial punishment to single out this group of offenders," said Alan Schlosser, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union for Northern California. "We don't think this is good public policy."

Some newspapers have long printed the names of those soliciting sex for money, and courts have backed punishments that include shaming. Last year a U.S. federal appeals court allowed a punishment in which a mail thief had to wear a signboard telling of his crime.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Multiple Myeloma and SCIO-469

By Denise Gellene Times Staff Writer
Wed Jun 1, 7:55 AM ET

Michael Crockett rushed through the door at the Sunnyvale, Calif., laboratory of Scios Inc. toting an Igloo cooler. Packed inside, beneath a layer of ice, was a vial of human bone marrow.

The marrow was needed to test a tantalizing hypothesis: that Scios' experimental rheumatoid arthritis pill, SCIO-469, might also treat cancer. As Crockett, manager of the company's drug projects, delivered the bone marrow to Scios researchers in February 2003, he knew there was more at stake than product development.

His boss, Scios Chief Executive Richard B. Brewer, donated the marrow. Brewer had multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer that might be helped by the company's pill.

The theory at the firm was that the drug might prevent malignant cells from multiplying, maybe one day turning myeloma into a manageable illness, like diabetes.

But scientists had to work fast. The firm's board of directors was preparing to sell the unprofitable biotech to drug giant Johnson & Johnson. And there were no guarantees that the SCIO-469 cancer project would continue under new ownership. J&J saw enormous potential in SCIO-469 — perhaps a billion dollars a year — but as a pill for rheumatoid arthritis.

Brewer hoped to persuade his new bosses to also test the pill in cancer patients. Most of the drugs he had used to treat his cancer were old and harsh; one chemo drug had wiped out all feeling in his feet. He became ill and his hair fell out.

"I'm hoping [other patients] won't have to go through what I went through," Brewer said.

Those at Scios who had watched Brewer battle his illness believed they were on a mission.

"When someone you know and respect gets a disease, you get angry," said Scios' top scientist, George F. Schreiner. "We hated myeloma…. We wanted to tear it down, plow it under the ground and put enough salt in so it never comes back."

Brewer, now 54, became CEO of Scios in 1998. He began his career in biotech at Genentech Inc. where he had led the product team that launched human growth hormone, Genentech's first drug. He rapidly rose to head of sales and marketing, helping to transform Genentech into an industry giant, while becoming known as a hands-on executive willing to take risks.

A top priority at Scios — from the Greek word scionoso meaning "to know" — was developing a drug to neutralize p38, an enzyme believed to spur inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis patients. There were few effective drugs for the joint disease, which affected 1 million Americans, making it a lucrative market.

Using sophisticated computer programs, Scios researchers designed molecules that looked like they might block the activity of p38, and neutralize it. Guided by the computer models, chemists then mixed one compound after another in search of a usable drug.

As Scios scientists closed in on their goal, they began to hear the footsteps of big pharmaceutical firms working on similar pills. Every day there were rumors that a bigger competitor had leaped ahead. Then, just as suddenly, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck & Co. and others had setbacks, leaving Scios in the lead.

By the end of 2000, Scios was ready to test its pill in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Meanwhile, Brewer faced his own struggle. The first sign of trouble came in May 2000, when Brewer felt a twinge in his back. At first, he thought he had strained a muscle when he loaded his dog, a 70-pound boxer, into the back of his SUV. But the pain worsened, so Brewer went to a doctor, who told him he had a compressed disk.

His condition didn't improve with rest. By spring 2001, Brewer could not stand upright and had to sleep in a chair to avoid intense pain.

Brewer kept up a grueling schedule, which was also taking its toll. The company was on the verge of receiving long-awaited federal approval of its first product — an intravenous medicine for congestive heart failure patients — and important meetings were scheduled with the Food and Drug Administration.

Brewer steadily lost weight and the pain got worse, despite visits to a chiropractor. Aspirin didn't help. Damage to his spine had shaved an inch off his 6-foot 4-inch height.

The scientists on Scios' executive team were alarmed by their boss' worsening condition. Chief Medical Officer Darlene Horton, a physician, feared she was watching Brewer die. She warned him that he might have cancer.

"This is not normal back pain," Horton recalled telling him. "You don't need massages, you don't need a chiropractor. You need an MRI — now." But Brewer told her his bone scans, another sort of imaging test, showed no sign of disease.

Finally, at the recommendation of his doctor, Brewer had a surgeon inject plastic into his spine to cushion the damaged disk. During the procedure, the surgeon took a bone marrow biopsy.

Driving to work days later, Brewer took a call from his doctor on his cellphone. The executive learned he had myeloma, a cancer he had never heard of. The disease destroys plasma cells, which produce antibodies and are found in bone marrow, the soft tissue inside bones. Nearly two-thirds of Brewer's marrow was malignant. Without treatment, he would be dead in a year.

In late summer 2001, Brewer started high doses of chemotherapy at City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte. Every two weeks, doctors loaded drugs into his body through a catheter implanted in his chest. He lost weight and went bald.

Six months later, he underwent a risky bone marrow transplant to restore damaged tissue. Brewer recalled long days in his hospital bed, wired to pumps and monitors, too sick and exhausted to watch TV. He marked time by observing shadows march across his room as the sunlight in his window faded.

"It was the worst experience I could have imagined," he said. "Every cell in your body has been turned upside down and backwards. It changes you."

Brewer was back at work in April 2002. His cancer was in remission, but because myeloma is incurable, Brewer did not know how long he would remain cancer-free. His doctor at City of Hope, Stephen Forman, said remissions could last more than five years, or as little as one.

Though tired and thin, Brewer plunged into looking for a deep-pocketed drug company to help Scios develop its arthritis pill. Large clinical trials needed to test arthritis drugs were expensive, and the small company did not have the resources to complete the work on its own.

Through the spring and fall, big drug companies came calling. Brewer had hoped to license rights to the pill, but negotiations took a sharp turn. By mid-December, two firms, including Johnson & Johnson, said they wanted to buy Scios. With Scios' permission, the suitors started reviewing confidential documents in preparation for a bid.

Then, in January 2003, Brewer spotted an article in a newsletter about a study that linked the p38 enzyme — the target of SCIO-469 — to myeloma. The researcher was Kenneth Anderson of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, an authority on the disease.

Brewer contacted Anderson, who was surprised by the call. He was used to hearing from industry scientists but seldom talked shop with CEOs. He explained to Brewer that p38 releases chemicals that spur the growth of cancerous myeloma cells. In theory, if a drug blocks p38, the tumor can't survive. Brewer turned the article over to one of his top researchers, Linda Higgins, and asked her to dig deeper. The assignment made her nervous at first.

"I was worried I would have to deliver disappointing or equivocal news," she said. "There was nothing in the literature connecting these dots except Ken Anderson's work."

But after a week of intense research, Higgins told her boss: "I think we have a shot."

Elated, Brewer told his wife, Debbie. The couple, now divorced, had struggled to find a meaning in Brewer's illness. Brewer had immersed himself in books about spirituality and healing, and at one point consulted what he called a "life coach." All the while, a potential treatment for Brewer's illness was in his company's lab.

"My God, Dick," Debbie told him, becoming tearful as she recalled the moment. "Maybe this was why. You were meant to develop this drug."

Brewer shared her sense of destiny. If successful, SCIO-469 might help patients like himself while sparing them chemotherapy treatments.

"It was providential," Brewer said. "Unless you believe that things just happen randomly — but I don't."

Higgins needed healthy cells from human bone marrow for her experiments, so Brewer volunteered. The first anniversary of Brewer's bone marrow transplant was approaching, and he was scheduled for a full day of medical tests at City of Hope. The CEO arranged to have marrow taken for Scios at the hospital.

In early February 2003, as acquisition talks heated up, Brewer went to City of Hope, accompanied by Crockett, who toted the red-and-white cooler. Brewer's wife and son also made the trip.

As the CEO waited between tests, he worked his cellphone, trading calls with lawyers and Scios directors about J&J, which had become the front-runner. Then, during a physical exam, a physician used a long needle to extract marrow from Brewer's pelvic bone. He squeezed some of the pinkish tissue into a vial and packed it in the ice-filled cooler.

A short time later, just past 6 p.m., Brewer emerged from the examination room and handed the cooler containing his marrow to Crockett.

Before leaving the hospital, Brewer received welcome news: His cancer had not returned. Brewer, his family and Crockett had a celebratory steak dinner at a nearby restaurant, and, because it was late, spent the night at a hotel. The cooler was always in Crockett's reach. It was under his feet as he dined and near his bed as he slept.

Early the next morning, they flew aboard a private jet from Burbank to San Francisco. A driver whisked Crockett from the airport to Scios, where Higgins was waiting for him. It was about 9 a.m.

Because cells begin to die as soon as they leave the body, Higgins had to work quickly. "We were stretching the envelope," she said.

Higgins isolated very specific cells, called stromal cells, from Brewer's tissue. In healthy people, stromal cells form the scaffolding that supports the blood-forming cells in the marrow. In patients with myeloma, stromal cells become "brainwashed" by cancerous plasma cells to produce nourishing chemicals, called cytokines.

While stromal cells do the bidding of cancer cells, they remain healthy and don't become malignant.

Under a microscope, Brewer's cells were translucent specks against a background of pale yellow and pink. They looked healthy — good news, because Higgins needed to incubate them so she would have many cells available to test SCIO-469.

Higgins took a photograph of the cells and e-mailed a copy to Brewer because she knew he would want to see them.

"It was eerie," he recalled. "I had never seen my cells before. And to think they had been attacked … "

Brewer and Higgins code-named the cells 103TK, a twist on the tail number of the CEO's private aircraft. Higgins didn't want her team to have the added pressure of knowing they were experimenting on the boss' tissue.

Four days after his trip to City of Hope, Brewer voted with the rest of Scios' directors to accept a $2.4-billion offer for the company from J&J.

Brewer had not wanted to sell the company. Scios, after a decade of disappointment, had finally tasted success. Its heart drug had been approved, and the company appeared close to potential breakthroughs in arthritis and cancer. But as a director accountable to shareholders, Brewer said he could not turn down J&J's offer.

During negotiations with J&J, Brewer made a case for continuing the myeloma project after the merger. To J&J pharmaceutical group president Joseph Scodari, the research sounded plausible, but sketchy.

"It was obvious to us that Dick not only saw this as a business opportunity but had a great personal interest in this," he recalled.

Brewer knew the transition to new ownership would take several months, time Scios could use to build a case for the drug. "We decided to go full blast," Brewer said.

One of his first steps was to recruit expert advisors, including Anderson of the Dana-Farber institute. Anderson flew to California in late February and came away impressed with the small company's science and inspired by its CEO.

"The circumstances that brought us together were very rare," Anderson said. "One has to believe there must be a reason."

Still, many at Scios worried about scientists at the company losing objectivity on a project so dear to them — and their CEO. So the myeloma team held open forums, allowing other scientists to grill them. Brewer resolved to stay out of his scientists' way. "I didn't want anyone feeling guilty that if they didn't do something, the CEO was going to be unhappy," he said.

Higgins wrote a detailed plan to test SCIO-469. She coaxed the healthy stromal cells from Brewer's marrow to secrete the chemicals that fed tumors. Then she added SCIO-469 to the mix. With a team of junior scientists, Higgins repeated each step three times with the same encouraging result: The flow of nourishing chemicals slowed.

Much work remained before the pill would be ready to test in cancer patients.

Scios senior managers, meanwhile, started integration meetings with J&J representatives to set new corporate priorities. All projects were reexamined. A drug factory planned by Scios was axed because it was no longer needed. Some responsibility for SCIO-469 in arthritis was shifted to a J&J unit in Pennsylvania, which already sold a rheumatoid arthritis drug.

The cancer project "was constantly under review," Brewer recalled.

Higgins' team worked late, often past 9 p.m. It wasn't unusual for Higgins to arrive in her lab at 3:30 a.m. on Sundays; she put in a few hours before going home for breakfast with her two preteen children.

"At the end of every day, seven days a week, I'd ask myself the same question: Why can't I go faster?" she said.

Brewer touted the project at every opportunity. "Dick really kept J&J focused on myeloma as something worth pursuing," said Crockett, who attended integration meetings. "They all knew Dick's situation, but we weren't doing it just because Dick had the disease. We had experts telling us to continue."

At a gathering of top J&J executives in Orlando, Fla., in May 2003, Brewer outlined all of Scios' drug development projects. Included were data generated by Higgins' team. The studies impressed J&J, which allocated funds to continue the experiments.

"The science made sense and the business opportunity was significant," Scodari said later.

By mid-June 2003, Higgins completed her work. Thirty people — Scios scientists, their academic advisors and representatives of J&J — gathered at a hotel in Half Moon Bay, Calif., to review all the data. Higgins told the group that myeloma cells in a lab dish became weaker when SCIO-469 was added. The healthy stromal cells were unharmed.

At one point, Crockett drew the room shades and shut out the ocean view to keep the group focused. Higgins' work suggested that long-term use of SCIO-469 would lead to the death of myeloma cells. At the very least, the experts believed, the pill would spare patients the severe bone pain and damage that Brewer had experienced.

By the end of the meeting, the experts had devised a plan for testing SCIO-469 in cancer patients. "That is when our p38 inhibitor became a full development oncology project," Crockett said.

Several dozen cancer patients have taken SCIO-469 as part of a clinical trial, scheduled to end by early summer. They took the pill alone for a while, then in combination with a cancer drug called Velcade, which J&J shares the rights to market. If the results are promising, Scios plans a bigger test with more patients.

Today, three years after his bone marrow transplant, Brewer remains in remission. He is fortunate. Statistics show that more than half of myeloma patients are dead within five years of diagnosis.

Brewer is not in the clear, however, and his treatments haven't ended: He receives regular infusions of a drug to rebuild his bones.

Brewer resigned from Scios in February, in a mock graduation ceremony at the company's headquarters, now located in Fremont, Calif. A large screen in the auditorium flashed photos of his dog, his family and Brewer, first as a businessman, then as a patient tethered to an intravenous line.

The transition was complete. "We had a great staff here…. It was quite an experience," he said after the ceremony, wearing his blue cap and gown and clutching his farewell gift: a white lab coat with his name embroidered on it.

Brewer now advises start-up drug companies and sits on some biotech company boards. As an outsider — and a myeloma patient — he is eagerly awaiting clinical trial results for SCIO-469.

"What I am hoping is that patients will be able to take two pills a day and live with their cancer," he said. "That would be Valhalla for us."

Monday, May 16, 2005

Piano Man

A smartly dressed man found wandering in a soaking wet suit near an English beach has baffled police and care workers after he refused to say a word and then gave a virtuoso piano performance.

The man, wearing a formal black suit and tie, was spotted by police in Kent on April 8 and taken to a psychiatric unit where it proved impossible to identify him because he stayed silent.

It was only after he was given a pen and paper that care-givers were given an intriguing clue to his possible background when he drew an intricate picture of a grand piano.

He was taken to the hospital's chapel where he played classical music on the piano for hours.

However, despite his picture being posted on the National Missing Persons Helpline's (NMPH) Web site, no one has come forward to identify him.

"Very little is known about him as he has not been speaking with staff at the hospital where he is being cared for, but he has a talent for playing classical piano," an NMPH spokesman said in a statement. Newspapers said members of the public had contacted authorities to say they may have seen the man giving concert performances around Europe.

The Daily Telegraph said the man, in his 20s or 30s, is believed to be English and may have suffered a mental breakdown.

His story echoes the 1996 Oscar-winning film "Shine," in which actor Geoffrey Rush played Australian pianist David Helfgott, who overcame a nervous breakdown to return to performing.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

45 of the Smartest Diet Tips Ever


by Top Dietitians of the American Dietetic Association

Got a diet dilemma? Ask a true diet pro: an RD, or registered dietitian. Her job is turning complex nutrition research into doable plans for real people.

Courtesy of the American Dietetic Association (ADA), we took our readers' toughest diet problems and ran them by some of the top dietitians in the US: RDs who, in addition to their private careers, serve as media spokespersons or heads of specialty practice groups for the ADA.

Here's what they told us, in their own words. These tips are solid gold, learned from successful experience with thousands of clients. Some tips are new. Some you've heard before, but they're repeated because they work. This treasure trove of RD wisdom could change your life-starting today.

I Can Only Handle One Diet Change Right Now. What Should I Do?

1. Add just one fruit or veggie serving daily. Get comfortable with that, then add an extra serving until you reach 8 to 10 a day.

2. Eat at least two servings of a fruit or veggie at every meal.

3. Resolve never to supersize your food portions--unless you want to supersize your clothes.

4. Make eating purposeful, not mindless. Whenever you put food in your mouth, peel it, unwrap it, plate it, and sit. Engage all of the senses in the pleasure of nourishing your body.

5. Start eating a big breakfast. It helps you eat fewer total calories throughout the day.

6. Make sure your plate is half veggies and/or fruit at both lunch and dinner.

Are there Any Easy Tricks to Help Me Cut Calories?

7. Eating out? Halve it, and bag the rest. A typical restaurant entree has 1,000 to 2,000 calories, not even counting the bread, appetizer, beverage, and dessert.

8. When dining out, make it automatic: Order one dessert to share.

9. Use a salad plate instead of a dinner plate.

10. See what you eat. Plate your food instead of eating out of the jar or bag.

11. Eat the low-cal items on your plate first, then graduate. Start with salads, veggies, and broth soups, and eat meats and starches last. By the time you get to them, you'll be full enough to be content with smaller portions of the high-calorie choices.

12. Instead of whole milk, switch to 1 percent. If you drink one 8-oz glass a day, you'll lose 5 lb in a year.

13. Juice has as many calories, ounce for ounce, as soda. Set a limit of one 8-oz glass of fruit juice a day.

14. Get calories from foods you chew, not beverages. Have fresh fruit instead of fruit juice.

15. Keep a food journal. It really works wonders.

16. Follow the Chinese saying: "Eat until you are eight-tenths full."

17. Use mustard instead of mayo.

18. Eat more soup. The noncreamy ones are filling but low-cal.

19. Cut back on or cut out caloric drinks such as soda, sweet tea, lemonade, etc. People have lost weight by making just this one change. If you have a 20-oz bottle of Coca-Cola every day, switch to Diet Coke. You should lose 25 lb in a year.

20. Take your lunch to work.

21. Sit when you eat.

22. Dilute juice with water.

23. Have mostly veggies for lunch.

24. Eat at home.

25. Limit alcohol to weekends.

How Can I Eat More Veggies?

26. Have a V8 or tomato juice instead of a Diet Coke at 3 pm.

27. Doctor your veggies to make them delicious: Dribble maple syrup over carrots, and sprinkle chopped nuts on green beans.

28. Mix three different cans of beans and some diet Italian dressing. Eat this three-bean salad all week.

29. Don't forget that vegetable soup counts as a vegetable.

30. Rediscover the sweet potato.

31. Use prebagged baby spinach everywhere: as "lettuce" in sandwiches, heated in soups, wilted in hot pasta, and added to salads.

32. Spend the extra few dollars to buy vegetables that are already washed and cut up.

33. Really hate veggies? Relax. If you love fruits, eat plenty of them; they are just as healthy (especially colorful ones such as oranges, mangoes, and melons).

34. Keep seven bags of your favorite frozen vegetables on hand. Mix any combination, microwave, and top with your favorite low-fat dressing. Enjoy 3 to 4 cups a day. Makes a great quick dinner.

Can You Give Me a Mantra that will Help Me Stick to My Diet?

35. "The best portion of high-calorie foods is the smallest one. The best portion of vegetables is the largest one. Period."

36. "I'll ride the wave. My cravings will disappear after 10 minutes if I turn my attention elsewhere."

37. "I want to be around to see my grandchildren, so I can forgo a cookie now."

38. "I am a work in progress."

39. "It's more stressful to continue being fat than to stop overeating."

I Eat Healthy, but I'm Overweight. What Mistakes Could I Be Making without Realizing It?

40. Skipping meals. Many healthy eaters "diet by day and binge by night."

41. Don't "graze" yourself fat. You can easily munch 600 calories of pretzels or cereal without realizing it.

42. Eating pasta like crazy. A serving of pasta is 1 cup, but some people routinely eat 4 cups.

43. Eating supersize bagels of 400 to 500 calories for snacks.

44. Ignoring "Serving Size" on the Nutrition Facts panel.

45. Snacking on bowls of nuts. Nuts are healthy but dense with calories. Put those bowls away, and use nuts as a garnish instead of a snack.

The American Dietetic Association RDs serve as media spokespersons or heads of specialty practice groups for the ADA.


Wednesday, May 11, 2005

California Health Insurance

Options for first-time purchase of california health insurance

Eric Berkowitz

ONCE small businesses grow past the mom-and-pop stage, employees often look to the company for greater health coverage. This puts employers in the difficult position of either spending a lot of money or potentially losing their best people. Gregory Good, a senior vice president in Marsh's employee benefits practice, has advice for entrepreneurs faced with having to choose a small group health plan.

"The main considerations are cost and customer service. On the service side, work with your broker to see which insurance companies are the most user-friendly. On the cost side, there are a lot of variables, including the level of coverage and the age, sex, and resident ZIP codes of your employees.

"HMO plans are typically the least expensive health plans in Southern California. Often there are also preferred provider organization plans available, which are more expensive and are typically carried by the owners and key employees.

"Insurance companies will not deal with you directly. Your business insurance agent or workers compensation insurance broker should be able help you arrange a small group medical plan, but you can also use regional brokers.

"The rates for employers for fewer than 50 employees are filed with the state of California. Your agent or broker can access this information so you can make comparisons to get the best possible price.

"People worry about whether pre-existing medical conditions will be covered under their new plans. For the most part, state and federal laws make certain that pre-existing conditions are covered. For PPO plans, it can affect the price, but not generally more than 10 percent. There is no preexisting condition limitation for HMO plans.

"Your employees should count on paying 20 percent to 25 percent of the premiums. It depends on how generous you want to be as an employer.

"Once you get your plan in place, the rates are guaranteed for a year. At the end of that period you'll be told your renewal price, which is generally about 8 percent to 13 percent higher. It's a good idea to shop your plan again if you are unhappy with the rate increase.

"Don't worry too much if one of your employees has a large claim. The small group plans are pooled by the insurance companies, meaning that they are thrown in with hundreds, if not thousands of other group plans. One big claim shouldn't have a significant effect on your rates."

COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

New Nokia cellphone to challenge MP3 players

April 2005
Paul Marks

A cellphone that can store as much music as Apple's popular iPod Mini MP3 player will be launched by Nokia later in 2005.

The move follows Sony-Ericsson's unveiling in March of a music-storing "Walkman" phone and marks another nail in the coffin for pure MP3 players. Cellphone makers are betting that people will prefer to carry one gadget rather than two.

Like the basic iPod Mini, Nokia's new phone incorporates a diminutive 4-gigabyte hard disc drive capable of storing at least 3000 music tracks. By comparison the first Walkman phone - the W800, also to be released later in 2005 - will store about 150 tracks on a 0.5 gigabyte flash-memory card.

"But users can buy their own 2 gigabyte memory cards and store almost 1000 songs," says a Sony-Ericsson spokesman. "And remember this is only the first Walkman phone, we will be launching more with greater storage."

Apple has already struck a deal with US phone and chip maker Motorola to jointly create an "iPod phone" capable of interfacing easily with Apple's iTunes music purchasing and track management service, but the relationship has yet to bear fruit.

Hard-disc jockeying
Nokia's N91 phone was launched in Amsterdam in the Netherlands on Wednesday, where vice-president of multimedia, Anssi Vanjoki described it as a "connected mobile jukebox".

A version with a 3G connection will be available to allow the wireless downloading of music - an approach proving popular in Japan - while the standard GSM phone will use a computer and USB connection. Like the Sony-Ericsson W800, the N91 has a 2-megapixel camera built in.

Hard disc drives are being incorporated into small-scale consumer products very rapidly, thanks to research - carried out by firms like Hitachi and Samsung which is shrinking disc size.

But there are disadvantages. The spinning discs make for increasingly power-hungry gadgets, notes Carl Franklin, technology analyst with the stockbroker Bridgewell Securities in London, UK. "Once your phone is running a hard drive your battery lifetime could suffer. That's going to be a major challenge for Nokia's engineers."

“Active working time”
In early tests, Vanjoki says the N91 gave five hours of "active working time", with the phone, music and camera functions frequently used. "Old terms like ‘standby’ power and ’talk time’ are just not applicable concepts anymore because the phones are doing too many other things," he adds.

Sony's W800, based on flash memory - which has no moving parts - offers between 15 and 30 hours of battery life, depending on how often the phone and music player are used simultaneously.

The N91 was one of three multimedia-heavy phones launched by Nokia, all of which stick with the Symbian Series 60 smartphone operating system. One of the other handsets - the N90 - uses a Carl Zeiss lens to improve the quality of camera images users.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

UC Berkeley - Number Two Globally

Letting Colleges Down

By Paul Trible
Tuesday, April 19, 2005; Page A19

It's likely that college presidents around the world had a dollop of surprise along with their morning coffee recently when the Times of London released a global ranking of the 200 best universities.

Predictably, this survey of 1,300 academics in 88 countries found that Harvard -- with its endowment of nearly $23 billion -- held first place. The surprise was the university that came in second. Oxford or Cambridge? No, they were ranked fifth and sixth, respectively. Stanford or Yale? No, they were seventh and eighth. The second-best university in the world was a public, state-sponsored institution -- the University of California at Berkeley. Public universities in Alabama, Arizona, Texas, Maryland, Michigan, Virginia and other states ranked among the global elite 200.

There is an irony here. For decades, many unfairly considered state schools to be, as they say at Oxford, "redbrick" -- second-rate diploma mills. Now, just as U.S. public universities are finally winning the global recognition they deserve for quality, their very future is suddenly in doubt.

What is happening? State by state, the social compact that supported higher education is being dismantled. A Brookings Institution report revealed in 2003 that state appropriations for higher education have declined sharply, from an average of roughly $8.50 per $1,000 in personal income in 1977 to about $7 per $1,000 by 2002. It is unrealistic to think that state funding will ever return to robust levels, with state budgets being squeezed by the growth of Medicaid caseloads, roads and bridges crumbling under record numbers of drivers, homeland security demanding urgent attention, and the politics of tax-cutting continuing apace. In 2008 the financial pressure on public colleges and universities will only grow with the graduation of the largest high school class in U.S. history. Some look hopefully to Congress as it prepares a new higher education bill. As a former U.S. senator, I can assure you that a federal government facing monumental deficits is unlikely to take up the slack for the states.

If public colleges and universities are to survive, they must be willing to rethink everything they do. A decade ago, Gerhard Casper, then president of Stanford University, ignited an academic firestorm by suggesting that the four-year baccalaureate might not be such a sacred standard. Could a respectable BA be earned in three years? A prominent Virginia attorney recently proposed that state education dollars be diverted from institutions of higher learning to the students themselves. Many educators are willing to enter into explicit corporate alliances and co-branding of schools with sponsors. These may or may not be good ideas, but they represent the kind of iconoclastic thinking the funding crisis requires.

Foremost among any answers must be a drive to recast the relationship of public colleges and universities with the states. Public institutions of higher learning are often classified as state agencies. This identity forces schools to appeal to state bureaucracies to make modest changes in personnel policies or to construct new facilities, adding unnecessary delay in decision making and millions of dollars in unnecessary costs.

A proposal that was recently approved by Virginia Gov. Mark Warner and the General Assembly suggests one national direction. Presidents of Virginia's two- and four-year institutions have secured a new compact that will provide greater freedoms for public schools. It will eliminate the bureaucratic burdens, political pressures and other factors that frustrate success, while enabling universities to be more entrepreneurial. This new paradigm will include predictable levels of funding, allowing administrators to make realistic long-term plans. In exchange, every institution will pledge to meet measurable and ambitious goals, including improving graduation rates, nurturing relationships with K-12 schools and opening doors to underserved populations.

In short, if states grant public colleges and universities greater authority to make their own decisions, they can expect them to be accountable for greater financial efficiency and academic performance.

Rethinking the definition of a public university may be a state issue, but it is one of national importance. In the 21st century, the rankings of these incubators of ideas will determine America's technological, economic and military place in the world.

In a brutally competitive global economy, leaders can quickly fall to the rear. The Times of London's rankings of the top 50 schools included six Australian universities and eight Asian universities, while only two from France and one from Germany made the cut. In an age of academic globalization, in which leadership can slip from the heart of Europe to Australia, we cannot afford to allow neglect and inattention to threaten the future of U.S. public colleges and universities.

We need to think hard -- and act soon -- if we want to continue to make the global grade.

The writer, a former Republican U.S. senator from Virginia, is president of Christopher Newport University in Newport News.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Amazing We Can Dress Ourselves

by Liz Ryan (

I feel okay today, inexplicably. I got up, got dressed, charged my cell phone, made it to my morning event and spoke reasonably coherently there. I guess I'm functional - right? But then I stopped at the bookstore and had to think again.

There on the shelf is a lineup of books devoted to helping women fix what's wrong with them. We can succeed in business, if only we perform radical plastic surgery on our personalities. Look at these titles - clearly we need help! We don't know how to negotiate. We don't speak up. We act like girls. We don't know how to play the game. We're flawed, we're bad, we need intervention! We need to buy a lot of books and fix ourselves up so we can succeed in business, and fast!

Boy, isn't it weird that men are so naturally equipped to be businesspeople? I don't think I've heard of one book that seeks to help men correct their natural deficiencies when it comes to the professional world. Men are so lucky. They're in power; privileged with a history of business leadership; and naturally endowed with just the characteristics the workplace demands, to boot.

Women need to shape up! Otherwise, we won't make it in the business world. If we're not thriving professionally, it's our own fault - we're not built right! Much of what we do, think, and feel is unsuitable and must be repressed, corrected or hidden. Is this song starting to sound familiar?

Wait a second here. Could it be that because it's a man-built business world, it happens to work best for men? Is that possible? Could it be that the logical/analytical/forceful/direct tendencies most often associated with business have that association because men built the business world in their image? Must the business environment be static? A fixed system, put in place before women ever arrived, and destined to stand unchanged forever? Is business culture perfect, so that women must shoehorn themselves into it without changing an atom?

I don't think so.

Look - women are amazing. They are strong and resilient. They communicate, collaborate, and persevere. They've done what they needed to do to survive and raise generations for, well, generations. Can it be that in the business arena they are suddenly completely unequipped, deficient, flawed?

What women bring to the table is what the business world desperately needs: passion, intuition, non-linear logic, insight, pluck.

Today a man wrote to me (in response to my snarky article about women in leadership posted at saying that women are risk averse. Risk averse? Dude, we go on dates. Risk averse? Women for millennia have been pioneers - we are still pioneers. We are not risk averse. We have a different way of viewing the world and some different ways of dealing with it. Labeling those different skills as negative is a lie that women can see right through - that they can feel in their bones.
I don't buy into the fiction that women need to change everything about themselves to succeed in the male-architected business world. In fact, the business world and the world in general will be healthier when women as they already operate are respected and valued at work. It's not enough that we do the work on our desks - we also have to have another task ladled on top, called Changing Our Natures? That's absurd.

Scanning the shelf of what's-wrong-with-women book titles, you'd be amazed that we can dress ourselves. Talk to a real woman, and you'll hear about multi-tasking on an amazing scale, about determination, creativity, humor, patience and fortitude. Given what women see and experience every day, why would we support an industry of books that seek to teach us how to not be ourselves?

"In order to succeed here at XYZ Company, Ladies, you need to stifle your instincts and behave according to the following standards, many of which will feel unnatural to you because, as a woman, you are sorely lacking in several or many of these fundamental business skills."

Fundamental to whom? Give me a break.

If, in the nineteen-forties or fifties, there had been a book (or a whole shelf of them) advising African American people how to act and speak in order to get along in a society designed by and for white people, would that have been the right answer for them, or for the world? Do you find the idea offensive? Good. Isn't the idea that women should change their communication styles and personalities to make it in a man's business world equally offensive?

Amy Herzberg, a professor and theatrical director/coach at the University of Arkansas, gave a wonderful workshop at the recent ArkWIT/U of A Women in Technology conference. Amy spoke about making presentations, and her talk was unusual in that she never mentioned creating a Powerpoint deck or the usual how-to-present advice. Rather, she talked about being in yourself. Presenting from yourself, connecting with the audience. She said, Don't lead off with a joke if it will take you out of yourself. Don't get outside of yourself, observing and judging.

But look! This slew of "fix yourself" books seeks to do just that - to take you out of yourself in order to judge and correct your workplace behavior. Screw that, ladies - and forgive the indelicate expression. Be in yourself, and speak from your gut. Do what feels right to do, say what feels right to say, at work. There is nothing wrong with the person you already are. Setting out to be more forceful, more logical, more like a guy, is exactly the wrong answer. Wrong for you. Wrong for your company. Wrong for society.

Women already rock. It's the business world that needs to change, and it's actually changing as we have influence on it, thank goodness. Changing our natures and overlaying a fake 'business-y' persona on our powerful instincts will only slow down the amazing positive power that women bring to business. So put down the book. Listen to your gut. Get centered - you're fine right now, sister - and go knock 'em dead.

Liz has over 20 years experience in managing high-growth organizations, she lectures nationally and writes about working and managing in the digital economy. If you're looking for advice or have questions related to your job, just ask Liz! You can email Liz at

Sunday, January 23, 2005

The Worst Cars

The Worst Cars
By Dan Lienert

Click Here For SlideShow of the Cars on the List

Making a list of the worst cars of all time, which we compiled last year, is easier than making a list of the worst cars currently on the market because, frankly, all cars are built pretty well these days.

However, even now in the early days of the 2005 model year, several vehicles stand out for subpar performance in several important categories--in some cases, matters of life and death such as safety.

What follows is a roundup of the ten worst cars on the market, based on three criteria: the worst crash test scores, the lowest projected reliability and the lowest projected residual values. We thought about castigating cars for multiple recalls, but the 2005 model year is too young to do so (most recalled '05 models have been recalled only once so far). Furthermore, consumers often ignore such issues as recalls--unless they are for universally dangerous reasons, such as spontaneously exploding gas tanks--in favor of style, sex appeal or raw power.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the cars in the slide show are not particularly sexy. Several of them are among the cheapest cars on the market.

In the interest of fairness, we excluded from consideration all cars that are in the process of being killed, such as General Motors' (NYSE:GM - News) Chevrolet Cavalier and Pontiac Sunfire, both of which have horrendous crash test scores. Excluding lame ducks, there are no cars currently sold in the U.S. that suffer the indignity of a one-star crash test rating. Out of a possible five stars, several achieved two-star ratings, and we included all of those models.

The source for all crash test scores is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the branch of the U.S. Department of Transportation that administers vehicular safety laws.

Whatever your current political leanings, we advise you to trust the government when it says you and your kids could have a 21% to 25% chance of serious injury in a particular car--at least trust it enough not to buy that car.

For reliability, we looked to Consumer Reports. For projected residual value, we went to the bible of the automotive resale world: the Kelley Blue Book Residual Value Guide.

Read on to see which vehicles earned warnings from the government, and to see the rest of the worst 2005-model cars.

Friday, January 07, 2005

The Fattest City

And the Fattest City Is...

Fri Jan 7, 9:56 AM ET Oddly Enough - Reuters

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Houston tops a U.S. magazine's annual fattest cities list for the fourth time in five years, with four other Texas cities waddling into the top 25.

Fast food restaurants -- Houston has twice the national per capita average -- are partly to blame for the dishonor, Men's Fitness editor-in-chief Neal Boulton said.

"Americans ... work long hours, don't take vacations, and when you're faced with the worst nutritional choices, you indulge in those," he said.

High humidity, poor air quality and some of the nation's longest commute times also helped Texas' most populous city unseat Detroit, the 2004 heavyweight champion, the magazine said.

Houston Mayor Bill White, who has worked with a major grocer to promote healthy food and the city's public schools superintendent to improve lunch menus, called the survey "mostly voodoo and fraud."

"On the other hand, it calls attention to real issues the mayor is trying to address," his spokesman, Frank Michel, said.

The magazine said it looked at factors such as the number and types of restaurants, park space, air quality, weather and the number of health clubs.

Philadelphia, Detroit, Memphis, Tennessee, and Chicago followed Houston on the seventh edition of the fat list. Texas cities Dallas, San Antonio, Fort Worth and El Paso were in the top 14, which Boulton said was no surprise.

"It's pure big indulgence, just living big, and that's part of the culture," said Boulton.

Seattle ranked as the fittest city, followed by Honolulu, Hawaii, Colorado Springs, Colorado, San Francisco and Denver.

Austin was the only Texas city on the fit list. The state capital ranked 19th out of 25.