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November 4, 2009

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Most Expensive Video Game

October 2, 2009

Back in 1993, when the revolutionary first person shooter, Doom, was released, a game could be made by eleven people with a budget that was probably around $200,000. Today, the production of a video game can cost upwards of tens of millions of dollars and sometimes takes over 5 years to develop. Releasing an A-list title is a massive business undertaking, employing hundreds or thousands of people. An incredible amount of risk is involved in releasing a title. Big name publishers lean towards releasing sequels and safer titles that appeal to a broader audience.
Sometimes an ambitious game developer will completely overrun its budget and development time. Sometimes this results in an epic title that breaks all the rules set before it. More often than not, it results in poor reviews, poor sales and a disappointing game.
Arguably one of the latter, the most expensive video game, until recently, was a Sega Dreamcast game called Shenmue. Released in 1999, the project cost over $70 million and took over 7 years to complete. It was produced and directed by Yu Suzuki for the Sega-AM2 (Sega Amusement Machine Research and Development Department 2). Shenmue boasted unparalleled freedom and interactivity and even a real time weather system. But this wasn’t enough to impress many reviewers; the most expensive video game received mixed reviews and experienced mediocre sales. Nonetheless, the expensive game inspired a massive fan base that remains active to this day.
 
Rockstar North, known for their mature titles, has recently ousted Shenmue from its most expensive position and replaced it with their own offering, Grand Theft Auto IV. Taking place in the fictional Liberty City, a close likeness of New York City, GTA IV also allows players an unequaled level of freedom and interactivity. The in-game radio has over 150 songs which, through a deal with Amazon, players can download in real life. The game even includes two hours of television that a player can watch while ignoring pressing responsibilities such as assassinating suspiciously familiar anti-video game lawyers.
While the exact figure isn’t yet public knowledge, Rockstar North’s president has estimated that the world’s most expensive video game cost about $100 million to make. Luckily for us, the game only costs consumers around $60.

The Most Of The Most Expensive Weddings!!

September 19, 2009

Hollywood celebs aren’t the only ones who have extravagant weddings. Professional altheletes, musicians, business men and women and Crown Princes also like to show off their dough with lavish nuptials. Here are 27 of some of the world’s most expensive weddings in history. Check out the price tags and you’re guaranteed to feel better about your own wedding expenses!

1.

Seemanto & Chandni AND Sushanto & Richa
(Father of the Grooms is Industrialist Subrata Roy of Sahara.)

Cost: $128 Million, for both weddings.
Wedding Date: February 14, 2004
Location: Lucknow, Sahara India
Number of Guests: 10,000
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum & Sheikha Hind Bint Maktoum
(Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum is the Ruler of Dubai.)

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Cost: $44.5 Million, today this wedding would cost $100 Million.

Wedding Date: 1981
Location: Dubai, UAE
Number of Guests: 20,000
Amit Bhatia & Vanisha Mittal
(Bhatia is the grandson of London socialites, Pasha and Kamal Saigal. Mittal is the daughter of London steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, the fourth wealthiest man in the world.)

3

Cost: $60 Million
Wedding Date: November 18, 2006
Location: Vaux le Vicomte, a 17th-century French chateau
Number of Guests: 1,000
Andrei Melnichenko & Aleksandra Kokotovic
(Melnichenko is best-known for his energy and banking businesses. He is the 17th wealthiest person in the world. Kokotovic is former Miss Yugoslavia.)

4.

Cost: Undisclosed, over $7 Million
Wedding Date: September 3, 2005
Location: Cote d’Azur, France

The most expensive meteor on ebay.com has a buy it now price of $3,500,000

September 19, 2009

There is a lot of confusion about how much meteorites cost or are worth. This article from astronomy.com gives a pretty good explaination of the costs. Like most things the cost is based on supply and demand.

The most common meteorites generally cost between $3-$6 per gram while exotic meteorites filled filled with space gems or carbon based diamonds that contain life’s building blocks may cost $30,000 per gram (these are super rare.) Meteorites that originated from Mars or the Moon are also very expensive. The most expensive meteor on ebay.com has a buy it now price of $3,500,000. Its over 2000 grams and comes in at $1500 per gram. It is billed as the ‘rarest’ meteor in the world. More than half of the 1900 metorites for sale on ebay right now are selling for less than $20. Most of them are under $5 and the more expensive ones are ones that have been made into jewlrey already. I found this pretty comprehensive chart of prices for meteorites that details prices for the different types of metiors.

September 17, 2009

The apparent contract killing of American journalist Paul Klebnikov shattered the illusions of many who shared his belief that Russia had moved beyond the days when scores were settled with a spray of bullets.

Yet police estimates indicate that in some ways, little has changed since the Wild West years of Russian capitalism in the early and mid-1990s.

Contrary to popular perceptions, even more contract killings are committed in Russia today than were committed 10 years ago, said Leonid Kondratyuk, a top crime expert at the Interior Ministry’s Scientific Research Institute.

“We’re seeing somewhere between 500 and 700 such killings annually,” Kondratyuk said. “But those are just the murders we know for sure were contract killings. In reality, it’s probably two to three times higher.”

Kondratyuk’s estimate is conservative compared to that of Valentin Stepankov, who until June was deputy secretary of the Security Council.

At a January conference in Moscow held by the World Community Against the Globalization of Crime and Terrorism, Stepankov said organized criminal groups were responsible for 26,000 crimes in 2003, up from 3,300 in 1999. He said around 5,000 of those crimes were contract killings.

Stepankov was Russia’s first prosecutor general, serving until he was fired by former President Boris Yeltsin after parliament’s revolt in October 1993. He is now a deputy natural resources minister.

The Interior Ministry’s main criminal investigations department said fewer than 100 contract killings were registered in Russia last year. “But those are cases where we can say for sure it was a contract murder and where a criminal case has been initiated against a known suspect,” spokesman Denis Strukov said. “Those are the only objective numbers we have.”

The discrepancy in the figures reflects a lack of police data and the difficulty of classifying some murders.

“Who’s to say that someone who gets knocked over the head and his briefcase stolen wasn’t the target of a contract murder?” Strukov said.

Contract killings continue to swell because of a weak judicial system and a low probability that those ordering the hits will ever be punished. There also appears to be no shortage of those willing to kill for money, from drug addicts to former military men profiting from their professional training.

The price of a hit varies from a couple hundred dollars to a couple hundred thousand dollars, the experts say, with one singling out the 1998 killing of State Duma Deputy Galina Starovoitova as the most expensive he had come across.

Kondratyuk said the weak judicial system often makes it easier to order a hit than to settle a dispute in court.

“Often a court case will be more expensive than just killing someone,” Kondratyuk said. “Especially since rampant corruption in the justice system means no one can be sure they would win in court.”

“Usually there’s nothing personal about it,” Yakov Kostyukovsky, an organized crime expert from the Russian Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg, said about contract killings in the business world. “Unfortunately it’s still a typical instrument in dealing with the competition. Al Capone-style.”

Hits Solved ‘Unofficially’

Like Chicago police before Capone went down, Russian police have gained a reputation of being chronically ineffective in tackling organized crime and solving contract killings.

But Andrei Konstantinov, who heads the Agency of Journalistic Investigations in St. Petersburg and has a reputation as the most knowledgeable chronicler of Russia’s criminal underworld, said police are not as hapless as they are often portrayed.

“In many cases police investigators find out, or already know, who organized the hit,” Konstantinov said. “But they can’t gather quite enough information for a conviction.”

Kostyukovsky put a different twist on what he called a “misconception,” delineating between contract murders that are solved on “official” and “unofficial” levels.

The number of contract killings “officially” solved, that is, when enough evidence is passed on to prosecutors to try a suspect, may be low. Far more are solved unofficially, he said.

“If one group of criminals orders a hit on a member of another criminal group, the police might pass on information to the victim’s cohorts about who was behind the killing,” Kostyukovsky said. “If rival bandits are killing each other off, it might be advantageous for the police.”

It might not raise the number of officially solved contract killings, he said, but it is less work for the police.

A retired chief detective, who worked in the St. Petersburg police force for most of the 1990s, said such police tactics are common.

“It happens very often,” said the former detective, who asked to remain anonymous. “It’s called ‘realization of operational information.’

“In most cases everyone understands that if the case is turned over to the courts, it will take them three years to get to it, and in the end decide no one is guilty of anything. But if you give the information to a rival group, the issue will be solved very quickly and radically. It’s rarely done out of ‘noble intentions.’ Almost always it’s out of hatred.”

The former detective added that the main reason police have a reputation for being unable to solve contract killings is that small-time hits, which are more likely to be solved, get little media attention.

“If an owner of a small store has another owner of a small store knocked off, no journalists are going to write about it,” he said. “But if someone like Starovoitova is murdered, the media coverage is enormous, and if the killers aren’t found, the impression is that no contract killings are ever solved.

“It’s definitely harder to solve a contract killing than a drunken domestic killing, but things aren’t as bad as the press makes it out to be.”

Most high-profile contract killings in Russia, however, are never solved.

Klebnikov, the editor of Forbes Russia, was shot several times from a passing car after leaving work the night of July 9. Prosecutors have said only that an investigation is underway; there has been no information about possible suspects or any other progress in solving the case.

The Price of a Hit

Contract killings can run anywhere from a couple hundred to a couple hundred thousand dollars, said Konstantinov, bestselling author of the seminal Russian gangster book “Banditsky Peterburg.”

“Take, for example, someone living in a communal apartment with an old lady who just won’t seem to die,” he said. “So he goes and finds a drug addict and pays him $300 to kill her.”

In one low-budget incident in October, police in the Moscow region town of Zhukovsky arrested two Ukrainian nationals on suspicion of knifing to death a 23-year-old Zhukovsky man a month earlier. The two men claimed the victim’s mother had paid them $300 for the job.

Lieutenant Mikhail Voronin of the Interior Ministry’s Scientific Research Institute was even more blunt in describing some killers’ bottom dollar.

“For a bottle of vodka, some homeless guys find they can get the job done with a kitchen knife,” Voronin said.

Having a high-profile businessman or politician killed, however, is a much pricier affair.

Konstantinov said the 1998 hit on Starovoitova is most expensive contract killing he has come across, likely costing around $150,000 because of the number of organizers involved. She was shot in the stairwell of her St. Petersburg apartment building.

It is often difficult to gauge how much was paid for a contract killing, Konstantinov said, due to a long chain of middlemen between the hit man and the person who ordered the hit. The two rarely, if ever, know each other.

“It’s the hit man who usually ends up getting caught, and only he knows how much money he got,” Konstantinov said. “A killing might have been ordered for $20,000, and the hit man only got $5,000. All of the middlemen in between took their cut.”

The alleged chain in the Starovoitova murder involves 11 people, most of whom come from the Bryansk region. Seven are currently on trial in St. Petersburg, and one has testified that the murder was ordered by former Duma Deputy Mikhail Glushchenko.

The whereabouts of Glushchenko, who served in parliament as a member of the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party and was reputedly a leader of the Tambov group, the most notorious St. Petersburg crime syndicate, are unknown. He is thought to be living abroad.

According to Konstantinov, it is common for killers to be hired from poorer regions — like Bryansk — and brought in to do a job in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

“You can hire someone from Kazan to come in, kill someone and leave quickly, and you’re paying them based on Kazan prices,” he said.

Prosecutors have identified Vitaly Akishin and Oleg Fedosov as Starovoitova’s killers. Akishin is one of the defendants currently on trial. The other six are alleged to have carried out various tasks, including taping Starovoitova’s phone calls, dumping the killers’ clothing in a river and driving the hit men from the crime scene.

Fedosov and three other suspects are still at large. Prosecutors are seeking the extradition of two of the suspects from Europe.

“There may have been more expensive hits [than the one on Starovoitova], but I haven’t heard of any,” Konstantinov said.

Sasha Makedonsky

A majority of Russia’s professional hit men are former secret service officers, military veterans and ex-convicts, according to Kondratyuk. “Of course people who know how to handle a gun are in demand,” he said.

One of the most notorious — and notoriously expensive — hired killers of the 1990s was Alexander Solonik, a former soldier and policeman nicknamed Sasha Makedonsky for his deftness at simultaneously firing pistols in both hands, or “Macedonian-style.” Solonik was said to have demanded tens of thousands of dollars for his services, Konstantinov said.

“I don’t really believe it, though,” he said. “It’s more likely just part of the mythology of the criminal world.”

Solonik, the only man ever to escape from Moscow’s Matrosskaya Tishina prison and remain at large, managed to flee to Greece after the jailbreak in 1995. But his body was found on Feb. 2, 1997, about 20 kilometers north of Athens. He had been strangled and wrapped in plastic bags.

Three months later, a suitcase, bag and towel containing the dismembered body of Russian model Svetlana Kotova were found near Solonik’s villa in Athens. Kotova and Solonik were romantically linked, according to Russian media reports.

In 2003, five suspected members of the infamous Orekhovskaya crime group were charged with the two slayings. One of them, Alexander Pustovalov, another notorious hit man, was accused of strangling Solonik. Pustovalov was known as Sasha Soldat because of his military background.

Hiring a Hit Man

But how are killers hired?

“That was a big problem for some businessmen in the 1990s,” Kondratyuk said. “They wanted to have someone killed but couldn’t find a killer. It’s not like you can go ask someone, ‘How much will it cost to have you kill someone?’ and then, after they answer, tell them, ‘Sorry, that’s too expensive. I think I’ll take my business elsewhere.'”

Kostyukovsky concurred that hiring a professional hit man requires some extra considerations. “Business in Moscow and St. Petersburg is a small world,” he said. “Everybody knows everybody else.”

But he said almost every successful businessman knows someone in the security services that can find someone to do the job.

Several factors other than the credentials of the hit man can determine the price of a contract murder, he said. These are the number of bodyguards a target has, the financial windfall from the death of a competitor and the style of the killing, to name a few.

“A contract murder arranged to look like an accident or a coincidence is going to be a lot more expensive than a standard shooting,” Kostyukovsky said.

Kostyukovsky said he believes the mysterious death of anti-corruption journalist and Yabloko Duma Deputy Yury Shchekochikhin to be a contract killing that could only have been arranged by a very expensive “high-class specialist.”

Shchekochikhin died in a Moscow hospital at the age of 52 in July 2003 after suffering a severe allergic reaction. People who saw his body said that his hair had fallen out, a symptom consistent with thallium poisoning.

“He was obviously a very dangerous journalist for someone,” Kostyukovsky said.

Above all, someone ordering a hit has to be able to trust the people he hires to organize and carry out the killing, Kostyukovsky said. “Either that or you have to pay enough money to where you’re sure the job will get done right,” he said.

The case of Moscow resident Milovan Ristic is a prime example of a hit man turning against his employer.

In March, police arrested Ristic in a sting operation and charged him with offering an acquaintance $50,000 in exchange for a photograph of the severed heads of his wife and mother-in-law in an alleged scheme to obtain ownership of his wife’s pharmacy and the apartment where the couple lived. The hired killer backed out of the deal and notified police.

After Ristic’s arrest, police said another man came to them saying Ristic had offered him $25,000 to kill the original hit man, but since the two hired killers turned out to be friends, the man decided to go to the police.

WORLD’S MOST EXPENSIVE DOG COLLAR

September 17, 2009


The world’s most expensive dog collar was designed by Bark Avenue Jewelers and was on display recently at a tradeshow to launch Randolph Duke’s pet line a partnership between the designer and Bonesoir Couture.

If you really love your dog and have an extra $1,000,000 or $2,000,000 lying around you may wish to lay it on the line for this $1,800,000.00 diamond dog collar.

Seems a $250,000.00 dog collar is not good enough for fido nowadays. In 2007 the people at I Love Dogs Diamonds have surpassed the mark with their Amour Amour dog collar which boasts a doggone hundred carats+ of sparkling diamonds and exquisite jewels, including a seven carat brilliant cut center diamond.

Price tag to give your pooch the world’s most expensive dog collar: $1,800,000.00 USD.

The Top 10 Most Expensive Domain Names!

September 16, 2009

How much is the word “toys” worth on the Internet? Hundreds? Thousands?

Try millions of dollars.

In a close bidding war, Toys ‘R’ Us bought the domain name Toys.com at auction for $5.1 million, placing it among the top 10 most expensive domain names on record.

And industry watchers say that it was probably a bargain.

“Had it not been such a recession, I think it probably would have gone for a little bit more than that,” Ron Jackson, editor and publisher of the Domain Name Journal, told ABCNews.com. In better economic times, he said it might have sold in the $7 to $8 million range.

The reason a generic word like “toys” has such value, he said, is because it’s a massive key word. Hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of people type that word into search engines every day, generating an incredible flow of traffic to Toys.com.

“It’s like having a store in the middle of Times Square,” Jackson said. “The name is really almost priceless.”

Jackson’s industry magazine has tracked domain name sales since 2003.

Others in the industry have speculated that Sex.com sold for $12.5 million, Business.com sold for $7.5 million, and Wine.com sold for $3 million. But as they were not pure cash sales, Jackson doesn’t include them in his records.

Toys.com has not yet been added to his journal’s records, but Jackson expects to add it once the name has been officially transferred to Toys ‘R’ Us.

According to the Domain Name Journal’s records, below is a list of the top 10 most expensive domain names.

1. Fund.com, $9.99 million

2. Porn.com, $9.5 million

3. Diamonds.com, $7.5 million

4. Toys.com, $5.1 million

5. Vodka.com, $3 million

6. CreditCards.com, $2.75 million

7. Computers.com, $2.1 million

8. Seniors.com, $1.8 million

9. DataRecovery.com, $1.66 million

10. Cameras.com, $1.5 million

10. Tandberg.com, $1.5 million

Oldest and most expensiv Bible (Codex Sinaiticus)

September 13, 2009

Although in physical form it is in 4 separate locations around the world, the oldest known copy of the Bible is now completely online. The document dates back to Constantine I and is considered one of the world’s greatest written treasures. Now, thanks to the internet, everyone has equal access to this historical heritage.

To find out more about why this document is so important, you can read more about it here. Interestingly enough, there are many discrepancies between the contents of the Codex and what we consider as the Bible today. For example, it has no mention of a resurrected Jesus – a pivotal component of modern Christian doctrine.

I took the image you see above while playing around with the controls at the Even you are not a librarian or a photographer or an archivist, it isn’t difficult to imagine the daunting task of digitizing a 1,600-year old manuscript that is literally falling apart.This monumental achievement reminded me of the massive volumes of Baha’i texts which are hidden away in vaults and not accessible by scholars (or anyone else). To give you an idea of what a similar project for Baha’i texts would look like, here is a low resolution image of an excerpt from the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf by Baha’u’llah (written in the handwriting of Mirza Aqa Jan, Baha’u’llah’s amanuensis):

It is difficult to estimate the sheer magnitude of material that is locked away right now. But I would estimate that less than one percent of the total is currently published. Most are kept in special archival vaults under Mount Carmel but there is also an impressive collection in theAfnan Library in England.

Sadly, the website of the Afnan Library is merely a bookmark on the internet rather than the storehouse of information it could be if it were used as a portal to the contents of the documents held there.

The Baha’i Faith is the only world religion which has verified and authentic religious texts. As well we have an untold wealth of secondary documents. So it is frustrating that they are not shared freely with the world. After all, the documents are intended for all of humanity. So it would follow that they should be made available as widely as possible. Before, this meant either publishing the content as books in their original language – which had limited market and was an expensive undertaking – or translating them to English or other languages to open up a larger market – but this meant expensive and protracted translation projects.

With the advent of the internet, we have the solution. When texts are published online in digital format, as with the Codex Sinaiticus, they are available to as many people as possible for the least per unit cost. This opens up an incredible panorama of possibilities and advantages. Not only for scholars and others who are interested in the text but also for the dissemination and scholarly advancement of the content itself.

The Baha’i Reference Library is a good step towards this end but it is infinitesimally small compared to what could be done. For the price of one translation project, all Baha’i texts could be digitized and made available online in their original format.

Because the Baha’i texts are so young, they are in very good condition and could be digitized much easier than the Codex. As it stands now, a person would have to request permission (something that is not always given – especially if the person’s views vary at all with that of the UHJ/ITC) and then physically go to Haifa and London. This cumbersome and anachronistic process need not continue.

The Baha’i Faith is the youngest of the world religions and as such it is only natural that we should be at the vanguard of realizing the full potential of the internet. I hope to see this fulfilled in my lifetime.

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The most expensive flower in the world

August 8, 2009

In Guangdong, China the Shenzhen Nongke Group, involved in agricultural science research, grew an orchid in 2005.It was quite an ugly orchid, but an anonymous buyer at an auction would probably disagree with us as he or she bid 1.68 million yuan for the ugly orchid.

most expensive flower in the world.jpg

SO just how much is 1.68 million yuan? It’s roughly $202,000 USD and that’s just how much the world’s most expensive flower sold for.

Sonicare Crest i8500 IntelliClean Toothbrush

July 20, 2009


The Sonicare Crest IntelliClean ($140) may be the most expensive toothbrush out there, but it’s easily worth twice as much. It combines bristles that run at more than 30,000 strokes per minute and gentle sonic waves to clean away plaque from your teeth — and cleans in between them and along the gum line better than any toothbrush in the world. It has a built-in liquid toothpaste dispensing system, dual speed control, and an automatic timer that beeps every 30 seconds to remind you to move to another part of your mouth and turns off after the recommended brushing time of two minutes. Oh, and for wimps like us, the Sonicare lets you get acquainted with it gently thanks to a feature that gradually increases brushing power over the first 14 uses.