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Is Space Tourism the Next Big Thing?; Science Produces Rodent Whose Muscles Do Not Age; Unemployed Dot-Commer Turns His Life Into Cartoon

Aired February 9, 2002 - 13:03   ET


ANNOUNCER: Today on NEXT@CNN, space has always belonged to the elite, highly trained astronauts, technicians and scientists. But the next big thing in space could be tourism.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The idea of being part of the exploration of space I think is very important.


ANNOUNCER: We talked to the next space tourist. He's part of a growing chorus that says the final frontier should be open to the masses.

Meet a real mighty mouse. Genetic engineering produces a rodent whose muscles don't age. Could it help former Olympians go back for more gold?

And you'll meet an unemployed dot-commer who turned his life into a cartoon.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you're not, like, working, you start to realize how money is, like, really important and stuff.


ANNOUNCER: He calls himself Odd Todd, but how odd is raking in $7,000 when you don't have a job? All that and more on NEXT.

JAMES HATTORI, HOST: Hi everybody, I'm James Hattori and welcome to NEXT@CNN, this week from NASA's Ames Research Center, south of San Francisco.

Spacecraft like this Mercury capsule made history in the early 1960s, carrying humans into the galactic frontiers. Today, space travel has become more routine, so routine in fact, that a few lucky, meaning rich people are now doing it for fun.

Our Miles O'Brien talks with a South African billionaire who will become the second space tourist, when he heads for the international space station in April.


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN SPACE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His name is Shuttleworth, Mark Shuttleworth, and at the tender age of 28, this South African has a net worth that puts him in the stratosphere. Well actually, he plans to go a little farther than that.

(on camera): Is this a lifelong dream of yours?

MARK SHUTTLEWORTH, SPACE TOURIST: Oh, yes as long as I can remember I've been building little rockets and dreaming of flying in space.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): He wiled away his youth playing computer games, only to grow up to be an Internet encryption whiz, with good timing. He sold out right before the big bust, and now can afford his sky-high dream with the loose change on his dresser.

He bought a ticket to ride a Russian Soyuz rocket, headed to the International Space Station in April.

(on camera): Will you be scared when you strap into that Soyuz?

SHUTTLEWORTH: Yes, I'm sure I will. I mean, there have been a number of days during the training when I've had, you know, experienced real fear.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): And it will cost him some real money. The price tag for the 10-day visit, just shy of $20 million.

(on camera): That's a big figure.


O'BRIEN: Well worth it to you?

SHUTTLEWORTH: Absolutely. You know, before I started this I had to think through very carefully whether or not it was going to be a worthwhile investment.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): This is the man that started Shuttleworth's gears turning. Last April, California equity fund manager Dennis Tito became the first person to demonstrate the unbearable lightness of being rich. Today the world's first space tourist is touring the country, finding fans wherever he goes.

DENNIS TITO, SPACE TOURIST: Right now, I know that a lot of people are interested in space and it's not so much the celebrity status. It's being able to get more and more people interested in flying into space.

O'BRIEN: When we caught up with Mark Shuttleworth, he was training in Houston, at NASA's fabled and fussy Johnson Space Center, where the right stuff is doled out sparingly, and by invitation only. SHUTTLEWORTH: My experience over the last couple of months has been, I think, quite different to the experience of Dennis Tito. In the relationship that we've been after to craft with NASA, I've been quite amazed at how open and constructive that engagement has been.

O'BRIEN (on camera): In fact, when Dennis Tito arrived here a year ago for his training stint at the Johnson Space Center, he got the cold shoulder. NASA brass wouldn't allow him to train here with his Russian crewmates, because the space agency didn't like the idea of a tourist visiting the station one bit.

There was a lot of anger and recriminations. But in the end, with tens of millions of dollars hanging in the balance, the Russians held their high ground. Whether NASA liked it or not, a new era in space was born.

Are you surprised that it's happening now?

CHARLIE PRECOURT, NASA CHIEF ASTRONAUT: I'm a little bit surprised. The thought that I used to say, build it and they will come, you know, and we're still building it and they've already started to come.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): For the past year, NASA's Chief Astronaut Charlie Precourt has been scrambling to find a way to keep the space station from becoming an orbiting Pottersville.

PRECOURT: There is a bit of irony.

O'BRIEN (on camera): A former communist monolith is now teaching...

PRECOURT: We more and more look at each other in the mirror and see the other side.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): And so Precourt, NASA, and the rest of the 16 nation space station partnership that bought into some rules for space station visitors. No shady characters, criminals, heavy drinkers, or drug users need apply. But beyond that, no more resistance to the tide of tourism.

TITO: It may take dozens of years, but you have to get started somewhere and I think to the extent that, you know, the Russians start flying, people like myself possibly twice a year, that will be a beginning.

O'BRIEN: Eric Anderson is among a small group of entrepreneurs hoping it is a beginning of something big. His three-year-old company, Space Adventures Limited, helped broker the Tito and Shuttleworth flights, and for the less well-heeled, he peddles rides on planes that simulate weightlessness and MiG fighters.

ERIC ANDERSON, SPACE ADVENTURES LIMITED: People believe now that it is possible. They see that other people have done it, though they are very rich, and it will be available at some point to them in the future. O'BRIEN: For now, they must live vicariously, through the exploits of people like Mark Shuttleworth, who is documenting his odyssey in great detail on the Web.

SHUTTLEWORTH: I've had the time of my life in the last couple of months, the whole process. That's just an extraordinary experience. I would say priceless.


HATTORI: Japan's space program got a boost this week and a setback. Last Monday's launch of an H-2A Rocket went smoothly, but one of the two satellites onboard didn't deploy into orbit properly. Officials said it appeared the satellite didn't separate from the rocket. The satellite that did deploy will test how commercial components, like microchips and batteries, perform in space. Japan plans 11 more H-2A launches over the next three years.

NASA has a new satellite in orbit on a mission to study the sun. The HESI Satellite was carried into space Tuesday on a Pegasus Rocket, launched from an airplane over the Atlantic Ocean. HESI stands for High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager. It will take the first high quality movies of solar flares, the most powerful explosions in the solar system.

Solar flares can knock out power grids on earth and disrupt satellite communications. Scientists say HESI is starting its mission during a peak period of solar activity, and will probably observe 1,000 major flares over the next two years.

ANNOUNCER: Coming up on NEXT@CNN, you may have trouble finding Chilean sea bass and beluga sturgeon caviar on your favorite menu. And later, ways to save a buck on the World Wide Web. Stay with us.


HATTORI: Was it questionable science that left hundreds of farmers in southern Oregon and Northern California high and dry last summer? That's the latest controversy in the ongoing debate over a federal irrigation project in the Klamath River Basin, a debate affecting not just farmers, but fishermen, endangered wildlife, and local Indian tribes.


HATTORI (voice over): Farmers in Klamath Falls found reason to applaud, despite their recent tough times. An interim report by the National Academies of Science says the Federal Government decision to hold back irrigation water in the Klamath Lake and the Klamath River system was not supported by scientific research.

The decision was intended to help dwindling stocks of threatened cohold (ph) salmon and endangered suckerfish, but it caused major farmland damage during drought conditions in southern Oregon and Northern California last summer. REP. GREG WALDEN (R), HOOD RIVER, OREGON: These people have been through a terrible, terrible tragedy, brought about by a government decision based on inadequate science.

HATTORI: The National Research Council after studying ten years' worth of existing data, found the research has, "not shown a clear connection between water level in upper Klamath Lake, and conditions that are adverse to the welfare of the suckers. And regarding the cohold (ph) salmon, "the increase in habitat space that could occur through adjustments in water management in dry years is small and possibly insignificant." But environmental groups say that's just part of what the report says.

REED BENSON, WATER WATCH OF OREGON: The concern is that the report is spun as, "oh, fish don't need water. We can just give it back to farmers and everyone will be on their merry way." In fact, the report says nothing of the kind, and it recognizes that there are more fish kills apparently than in years past, that the water quality is getting worse.

HATTORI: And it's more complicated than just a battle over water. Pollution from farming and other activities flow into the lake and river systems. Native Americans have seen fisheries, which sustained their tribes for hundreds of years dwindle.

Commercial fisherman on the coast are suffering through drastically cut back seasons, and two national wildlife refugees rely on water from the Klamath system. Was the entire ecosystem mismanaged, lives thrown into turmoil because of bad science?

JEFF MOUNT, UC DAVIS GEOLOGIST: The issue of junk science is a gross over exaggeration.

HATTORI: One author of the report says the farmers' celebrations may be premature.

MOUNT: We're going to spend the next year looking at this question, looking at all aspects of this question, not just the biological opinions, and unfortunately that's lost on people. They have this impression that suddenly all the conclusions have been made. It's just not the case. We got a long way to go before we actually understand what's going on in that system.

HATTORI (on camera): But for farm families who believe an irrigation district is honor bound to deliver water...

BARBARA LONG, PASTURE FARMER: I just want to know that it's not going to happen again, and that we will get water that was guaranteed us.


HATTORI: Around Klamath Lake, the concern is for suckerfish and salmon. In the Caspian Sea, it's dwindling sturgeon populations that are causing alarm. There too part of the problem is environmental, but as Gary Strieker reports, beluga sturgeon are at risk of literally being eaten into extinction.


GARY STRIEKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From new research in the Caspian Sea, alarming evidence that sturgeon populations are crashing much faster than experts had expected. The most endangered is the giant Beluga sturgeon, estimated to have declined by more than 90 percent in the past 20 years.

The Caspian Sea is the source of most of the world's caviar, the sturgeon's unfertilized eggs, and the Beluga produces the most prized caviar, selling retail for more than $100 an ounce.

(on camera): A scientific survey carried out last year in the Caspian Sea shows mature Beluga sturgeon have virtually disappeared in most areas, a crippling stage in the slide to extinction.

(voice-over): All species of Caspian sturgeon are threatened by over fishing and reckless environmental destruction. In Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan, there's uncontrolled plundering of sturgeon by poachers and criminal gangs.

Industrial and pesticide pollution have destroyed spawning grounds for sturgeon and contaminated vast areas of the sea, and new offshore oil and new offshore oil and gas discoveries will bring more drilling and more risk of pollution. Experts say the Beluga sturgeon situation is now critical, but not hopeless.

LISA SPEER, CAVIAR EXPERT: The good news is we can turn this situation around and rescue this fish from oblivion. But we need to act and act quickly.

STRIEKER: Conservation organizations are calling for a halt to international trade in beluga caviar, and they've petitioned the U.S. government to ban its importation into the United States, by listing the beluga sturgeon under the Endangered Species Act.


HATTORI: Worries over yet another popular fish whose numbers are dwindling, the Chilean sea bass, has prompted an unusual protest -- not in the streets but at the dining table. Dozens of chefs in the San Francisco Bay Area have joined a national campaign to stop serving Chilean sea bass until regulations are in place to protect the fish from going extinct.


MARK FRANZ, CHEF OWNER, FARALLON: We try and use economically viable fish so that they are sustainable and they'll be with us in the future. We don't make a huge impact, but the impact that we can make educating others can slowly increase that impact.


HATTORI: Environmental activists warn the tasty Chilean sea bass, also known as the tooth fish, has become so popular it will become commercially exhausted in the next five years.

ANNOUNCER: Later on NEXT, will this mighty mouse lead to superman? Also ahead, check out the latest in big sports on campus.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's great, I'm called the Megalor (ph).


ANNOUNCER: Contests not of might, but of mind, that and more as NEXT AT CNN continues.


HATTORI: The next big thing in computing could be a little thing. IBM this week unveiled the Medipad, a prototype computing module that lets users run any application they want, from movies to games to handwriting recognition.

It has the power and storage capacity of a desktop but it fits in your pocket. That's because there's no monitor or power supply. The idea is to plug it into a docking station, attach it to a handheld screen, or even use it with a wearable head mount. BM is talking with computer makers to see how they'd like to put this device to work.

Speaking of small and powerful, well that may be a strange way to introduce a mouse, the white furry kind, but this mouse is the poster rodent for a new development in gene therapy, which could one day give humans athletic bodies without the workout. Here's Ann Kellan.


ANN KELLAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Meet mighty mouse, stronger than its siblings, and its muscles never age. If the scientists who make it happen can make it happen in humans, it could turn the world of sports upside down.

Imagine quarterbacks, like Joe Montana, throwing passes into their 50s. He'd still be playing. Hank Aaron, not an exec but still hitting them out of the park. How about 50 or 60 year olds competing in Olympic sports, now reserved for Generation X.

SCOTT HAMILTON, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: I have the greatest job in the world with Stars and I'll do it for 15 years.

KELLAN: Gold medalist Scott Hamilton, now in his 40s has dazzled us for years. He's decided to take a year off from his pro tour.

HAMILTON: For me to do that level of skating for that many weeks on the road and the biggest problem was I couldn't recover as fast as I'd like to.

KELLAN: But what if he could recover fast, if an injection, not of drugs but of genes, could turn back the clock and his muscles could repair like they did when he was young? Would it keep greats like Olympic gold medalist speed skater Dan Jansen on the ice longer?

DAN JANSEN, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: It's something that you could use for health reasons. I think it's a great breakthrough, but to improve your performance athletically, I think we need to stay away from it.

KELLAN: Researcher Lee Sweeney was never out to build a better athlete.

LEE SWEENEY, RESEARCHER: I was very much focused on something that we could do that would help the elderly.

KELLAN: He and his team at the University of Pennsylvania injected a gene into mouse muscles. The gene tells muscles to keep producing a protein, called IGF-1. Young muscles in both mice and humans produce a lot of IGF-1. It helps muscles grow and repair themselves.

Once we hit 30, we make less IGF-1, so muscles start to sag and repair slows down. It's harder to bounce back from that softball game. Not in these mighty mice.

SWEENEY: This guy, it is all of his legs have the IGF-1, and this guy doesn't, and...

KELLAN: Yes, look at that definition, right.


KELLAN: Sweeney says their muscles stay toned and repair themselves throughout their two-year life span and with no side effects. He can't say yet whether it will work the same in humans. If it does, you won't need to work out to keep muscles toned. It would dramatically increase mobility for the elderly, and for those suffering from diseases like muscular dystrophy. As for athletes...

SWEENEY: From someone who just likes pure athleticism, I think well this is a terrible thing because it will make a mockery of all the competition of the past because these would be different people.

KELLAN: But would it be cheating? Gene therapy is a permanent change to your body, and unlike steroids and other performance enhancing drugs, it would be difficult to detect through medical tests.

SWEENEY: At the same time, I don't see how you stop it, because you can't cut off the potential benefits.

HAMILTON: For every blessing there's an equal curse it seems. So I don't know, I see a lot of people that are older that are in a lot of pain because their muscles are failing them, or they don't have the right level of strength to get through a normal day. So I think that's a wonderful thing.

KELLAN: Besides, it takes more than strong muscles to be champion. SWEENEY: You have to have the desire, first of all, because no matter how good your muscles are, there's a time of mental burnout. It's hard to stay at that level, no matter how good or how strong you are.

HAMILTON: You got to think that you're doing something completely unnatural and it's going to come back and haunt you some way. I'd be really tempted, but I don't know if I'd go for it or not. Obviously, I didn't use Rogaine.

KELLAN: Next, Sweeney will try the gene therapy on dogs. If it's as successful as in these mice, humans may be next.


HATTORI: Well, the prospect of better athletic performance wouldn't excite the sports team of one East Coast college. As Kathy Slobogin reports, these competitors work their minds more than their muscles.


KATHY SLOBOGIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They are the most feared team in the Western Hemisphere. The campus loves them. The student newspaper covers every game. We're talking about the Chess Team. That's right, the Chess Team.

DR. FREEMAN HRABOWSKI, PRESIDENT, UMBC: Chess players, by the way have their jackets and their caps, and they are revered. You see a chess player, you bow.

SLOBOGIN: Dr. Freeman Hrabowski is President of the University of Maryland Baltimore County or UMBC. The school doesn't have a football team, doesn't want one. It's Chess Team has placed first in the Pam Am Championship, the World Series of College Chess, five out of the last six years, beating teams from Harvard and MIT.

For a lot of people, a university where chess is big might get a sort of nerdy impression. Is that OK with you?

HRABOWSKI: Right. It's great. I'm called the Meganerd.

SLOBOGIN: Hrabowski is delighted to have UMBC known as the college of chess heads.

HRABOWSKI: What we hope the Chess Team will do is to say to people, we ought to be most concerned about the life of the mind.

SLOBOGIN: It wasn't always this way. UMBC's chess success is the vision of Alan Sherman, an Associate Computer Science Professor, who brought the team from its near the bottom ranking ten years ago to its present pinnacle.

Sherman has perfected the little known art of chess recruitment. He relentlessly pursues top high school chess players by offering full scholarships. ALAN SHERMAN, CHESS RECRUITER: Eight hundred verbal, I would say that's outstanding.

SLOBOGIN: Here, he's after Irena Crush (ph), the number one female chess player in America. She's applied to Harvard, Yale, and Brown.

SHERMAN: Those are certainly outstanding schools and I wish you good luck there. Of course, it's unlikely that they'd be offering the same sort of scholarship that UMBC could offer.

We recruit worldwide, and our players have come from all parts of the world, including Mongolia, Tatarstan, and various parts of the U.S.

SLOBOGIN: To play on UMBC's A Team, you have to be in the top one percent of chess players worldwide. One of Sherman's recruits is Battsetseg Tsagaan.

SHERMAN: We call her the Mongolian terror. She's the former woman's chess champion from Mongolia. She's an intense fighter.

SLOBOGIN: How does it feel to be vanquished by the Mongolia terror?

TOM HARTWIG, UMBC CHESS TEAM: It feels pretty normal. She's a very strong chess player.

SLOBOGIN: Do you enjoy crushing your male opponents?

BATTSETSEG TSAGAAN, AKA MONGOLIAN TERROR: Oh, I mean I like playing chess, yes.

SLOBOGIN: Dave Brogan, team president, says UMBC is a rare haven for chess nerds.

DAVE BROGAN, UMBC CHESS TEAM: Like you can come here and you can be part of the in-group being a chess player. Like we're well respected.

SLOBOGIN: With good reason, the cache of the chess team has helped attract better students, average SAT scores have gone up 165 points in the last ten years. Much of the credit, says President Freeman, goes to the fame of the chess club.


HATTORI: If you want to catch the next big battle for the UMBC Chess Team, it's a face-off against Stanford, MIT, and their archrival, the University of Texas this April in Miami. We'll be right back after a news update. Stay with us.

ANNOUNCER: Coming up in the next half hour, a small town struggles with a legacy from its biggest employer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's those that think it's an angel and ones that think it's Satan.


ANNOUNCER: Getting the lead out, when NEXT returns.


HATTORI: Welcome back. Get the lead out is what you usually tell a slacker, but in eastern Missouri, it's become the rallying cry for a town whose residents' health is at risk after decades of environmental neglect. Natalie Pawelski has this story of a community that grew up around a smelter and now can't get far enough away from it.


NATALIE PAWELSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Four kids stuck inside on a rare warm day in January, because playing outside might be hazardous to their health. These are not children who are short on energy?

CAROL MILLER, RESIDENT: Oh, no and this is my life. Really, it is hard on them. They can't go to grandma's, you know. They can't go to any of the houses here in Herky because of the lead.

PAWELSKI: Herky is what the locals call Herculaneum, Missouri, where all the playgrounds are closed and signs warn kids not to play on the streets because of lead contamination.

MAYOR JOHN CHAMIS, HERCULANEUM, MISSOURI: We don't want the little children to play in the playground because they'll get this lead on their hands an on their body. Naturally little kids are going to put their hands in their mouth.

PAWELSKI: John Chamis is the first Mayor who didn't work at Herculaneum's biggest business, the Doe Run Lead Smelter. It has towered over the town for more than a century.

BILL STOTLER, RESIDENT: Well at one time, the company provided virtually everything. They built the homes around the plant. They put in the streets. They put in the sidewalks, and they virtually took care of everything that needed to be taken care of for the citizens and the community until they could take it over themselves. As I say, there's those that think it's an angel and the one's that think it's Satan.

PAWELSKI: The EPA says the Doe Run Lead Smelter has polluted earth, air, and water with lead, and the plant has agreed to clean up its act. In the meantime, the EPA is asking more than 90 families to move out of their homes, while their yard soil is replaced and their houses cleaned up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You guys aren't going to clean any better than I clean. Why don't you take some of this money and do something about this problem?

PAWELSKI: But at a town meeting, it's clear there's not a lot of faith in that plan. Most townspeople we talked to figure the lead smelter should be forced to buy out people living closest to the plant, since those houses are now all but impossible to sell. Others question the limits of the cleanup plan.

BRUCE MORRISON, EPA: We only have so much resources that we can do this. We can't dig the whole town up instantaneously. So we've got to piece meal it and we've got to go for the highest risk areas first.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you say when they're cleaned up, don't go visit your neighbor next door, because we didn't do anything for them and that's still contaminated. If the contamination is everywhere, the cleanup has to be everywhere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seems like to me that you are working for the lead smelter.

PAWELSKI (on camera): Plans to move families back into their homes after the lead has been removed don't sit well with some of the neighbors. "What good will it do" they ask "if the smelter continues to pollute? Won't their houses and yards just end up being contaminated all over again?"

Doe Run says that won't happen, that while its smelter still violates Federal air pollution standards for lead, the problem will soon be fixed.

In the meantime, the company cleans its truck routes each day to keep streets clear of any residue, and it's been paying to have contaminated top soil replaced and houses cleaned.

BARBARA SHEPPARD, DOE RUN COMPANY: There have been emissions in the past and what we are now doing is coming into compliance with the national ambient air standard, and so we are not wanting to get the soils and the houses cleaned up. We did not do anything wrong.

PAWELSKI (voice-over): Doe Run's Herculaneum Smelter is the biggest in the United States. How many trucks come in here every day from the mines?

DAN HENKE, DOE RUN COMPANY: It depends on what we're running. We typically bring in 30 to say 50 trucks, depending on how many days a week we ship.

PAWELSKI: One hundred seventy thousands tons of lead a year, mostly sold to companies making batteries.

SHEPPARD: When you look at any kind of industrial process, you are creating dust. You are creating emissions, and the question you have to ask is, what is safe? What are the safe levels? And that's what we're focused on is getting this plant in operation and at safe levels. PAWELSKI: In the meantime, Carol Miller worries about elevated lead levels in her home and in her children's blood, and about learning disabilities and health problems she blames on lead.

MILLER: Everything that they say that lead can cause, we have it in our family.

PAWELSKI: The Miller's follow EPA advice, taking off their shoes so as not to track in contaminated dirt, keeping the windows closed, and taking care not to stir up any lead dust that's already in their home. And you don't have the ceiling fan on today either?

MILLER: No, because it would circulate the dust, the lead, and they told me not to clean it, don't touch it because if I just jar it, you know, it will fall.

PAWELSKI: The EPA has asked the millers to temporarily evacuate, so they are moving into a motel while their topsoil is replaced and their house scrubbed. But they'll come back to a street where some neighbors don't yet qualify for cleanup.

MILLER: I guess when we come back, we'll live in a little bubble and my kids won't, you know, step on that property, won't walk down this sidewalk.

PAWELSKI: The EPA says wholesale evacuations are not necessary, and the lead company agrees.

SHEPPARD: The risks are not that great to be not living here. We are remediating the soil source. We're changing the soils and we are cleaning the houses, and we're also doing the schools and the playgrounds. We're a responsible corporate operation, wanting to work with this community to make things right in Herculaneum.

PAWELSKI: But among the people of this small town, there's a lot of doubt about whether things will ever be right again.


ANNOUNCER: Next on NEXT, the online search for a virtual valentine.


HATTORI: Well, with Valentine's Day just around the corner, love is in the air and, of course, on the web. As Rusty Dornin found out, no matter what or who you're looking for, you can find a match in cyberspace.


RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A bit nervous, Faith Sedline (ph) waited for her date to show up, a man she'd only met online.

FAITH SEDLINE: Hi, nice to meet you.

MATT: Nice to meet you too.

DORNIN: Internet dating services are booming. reports that in the two months following the September 11th attacks, membership went up 70 percent. Love experts say that's not surprising in times of uncertainty.

PEPPER SCHWARTZ, SOCIOLOGIST: And even if it doesn't happen to you, it reminds you that you don't even want to watch that news without your special someone on the side of you. So I believe that the services have been used more.

DORNIN: Services that cater to just about every heart's desire. Want someone over 50? Their senior friend finder. How about a churchgoing friend? For Jewish singles, there's, and for the rest, matchmaker and and the list goes on.

Doug Wyllie, began scrolling for "the one" in September. It was soon obvious to him that more men than women were hitting their keyboards for a date, nothing like a little competition.

DOUG WYLLIE, ONLINE BACHELOR: I don't make a lot of money, and I don't have any power per se. So, that makes it very tricky. But it's fun. You know, it's fun to meet new people.

DORNIN (on camera): Men still outnumber women, because for many women, looking for Mr. Right on the Internet is just a little scary. But Sedline says after her experiences, the greatest danger in online dating is getting carpal tunnel syndrome.

FAITH SEDLINE, ONLINE BACHELORETTE: You don't know whose going to walk up and you're going "oh, what did I just do? Why am I doing this?" But that fades pretty quickly.

DORNIN: And how about the stigma of using "the classifieds?"

SEDLINE: When people hear that I cop up to online dating, they go, their first thought is "oh, you can't get a date." And you know, I just thought it would be fun and you get to meet a lot of people.

DORNIN: So Faith met Matt and had lunch. Well, that was that. But she ended up meeting someone else online. For Doug Wyllie the hunt continues in hopes that the woman on the screen will match the woman of his dreams.


ANNOUNCER: Coming up, how to be miserly on the Web. We'll get some tools from a guy who majored in cheap stuff. That and more ahead on NEXT.


HATTORI: In an uncertain economy, everyone's looking for a bargain. Well, maybe Bill Gates isn't worried about getting a low- interest credit card, but most of us would welcome a good deal. For some tools to find bargains on the web, Bruce Burkhardt talked with Consumer Advocate Clark Howard, host of a syndicated radio program and a self-proclaimed all around cheap guy.


BRUCE BURKHARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Is the Web a good place to get good deals? I mean are we being duped a little bit here?

CLARK HOWARD, CONSUMER ADVOCATE: No. The Web is the ultimate in information, which means there's really good stuff and really crummy stuff available. It's not the ultimate in truth. You really have to be a smart person, as you go through and you figure out what's hype and what's real.

BURKHARDT: What's the best deal you can find me right now on the Web, just for kicks? I want to throw that to you.

HOWARD: Well, let's take an example. The American people are completely overwhelmed with credit card debt right now.


HOWARD: And the average family is carrying a balance that is outrageous. So I love this site,, where I can go find out what are the best rates available in the country on credit cards, and so I can go look for low-rate cards.

Some of the listings they're going to do are for people who are paying a fee to be listed first. That's not necessarily going to be the best card for you, so you just move down. And another really good banking site is The reason I'm mentioning the bank stuff is, I can tell there's been a real shift in the calls I'm getting to the show. People are really freaked out about their money right now.

BURKHARDT: So if somebody's running a balance and their credit score will be good enough for them to qualify for one of these rates, they're in great shape.

HOWARD: They're really able to make a tremendous difference in what their monthly carry is on their credit card debt, but the ultimate goal should be to pay off their debt.

BURKHARDT: Right. OK, what about mortgages?

HOWARD: Monster Moving is a great site to shop for mortgages. It's going to put up a list of lenders, putting them head to head to head on 30-year fixed loans.



BURKHARDT: But can you get so confident, like can you go to a site like this and know, okay I've seen it all? HOWARD: No. That's why you go to multiple ones. That's why you don't hear me say for mortgages, just go to. You check several. What I'd like for people to do when they're doing a mortgage loan is take at least two of the comparison sites. It's the cross referencing that's the trick. No one site's going to have the truth. You really get to the truth by shopping multiple places.

The same thing with cars, because houses and cars are the two biggest areas where the consumer used to be in a weak position with the two greatest purchases they ever make, and now they're willing to take the time and things turned around and now the dealers are afraid of the consumer instead of the consumer being afraid of the dealer.

BURKHARDT: Information is power.

HOWARD: Exactly.


HATTORI: If you missed any of those Web sites, check out our Web site,

ANNOUNCER: Still ahead, a laid off dot-commer makes a cartoon to entertain himself. Next thing you know, he's entertaining people all over the country. But, will it get him a job?


HATTORI: Finally, last year's dot-com collapse changed a lot of people's lives. Some landed on their feet, but many are still reeling, and then there's Todd Rosenberg (ph). He's been laid off for seven, eight months, and he's kind of hit a comfy groove, turning professional misfortune into a new life, both real and online, but with an odd twist. We visited with him recently at his apartment in New York City.


TODD ROSENBERG: Hi, I'm Todd Rosenberg. You might know me as Odd Todd. I've achieved this life of leisure by losing my job back in June.

"ODD TODD": So I woke up on my (UNINTELLIGIBLE) side, because I can't seem to sleep at night anymore for a variety of reasons.

ROSENBERG: When I originally put the site up, I expected it just to be kind of some friends to check it out and to see what I've been up to. Since then, there's been a million people or more that have seen the cartoon from various countries and from all over the world.

"ODD TODD": Around noon, I decided to try and figure out what the hell I'm going to do about this whole "no work-no money" situation.

ROSENBERG: I was a dot-com guy for three years, and there's just not that many jobs for people with that kind of experience now. "ODD TODD": You know, I used to see these people, they'd like hanging out like on a Tuesday afternoon, looking like they had nothing to do and nowhere to go, and be like, what's their deal? Now, I'm one of those people people wonder about.

ROSENBERG: I've always been a cartoonist, kind of behind the scenes. I've had sales jobs and biz-type jobs and I decided that, you know, I had this free time and not a lot to do.

"ODD TODD": When you're not, like, working, you start to realize how money is, like, really important and stuff.

ROSENBERG: I guess people like it, a) because they can relate to it in one way or another, whether it's TV watching or snacking at weird hours or not having money. So I think people see little snippets of themselves in the cartoon.

"ODD TODD": Finally, around like 2:00, I got the motivation to like go outside and stuff, but outside it's kind of hard when you have no money. It's like you can't buy any ice cream because you have no money, and you can't go shopping because you have no money.

ROSENBERG: They say when you live in Manhattan, every time you leave your apartment, it costs you $50, whether that's going to the drug store, picking up your laundry, buying some food or whatever. So I try and stay in a lot, because going outside becomes expensive.

Wow, outside. We're going to go down the street to the post office, check the PO Box. There's a PO box on the site. When I first put the site up, I put up a tip jar. Basically, you can go to the site and you can contribute $1. Now that's it brought in $7,000, it's funny but great.

Oscar, the Miniature Daschund Wolf from Plymouth, Massachusetts, $1.00. Thank you, all you guys for the dollars. I really appreciate it.

"ODD TODD": Then I watched home and watched some tube and, like, worried about stuff. Like how nine out of 10 people I know who lost their jobs haven't been able to find a new one.

ROSENBERG: Statistically, it's getting close to be a reality there. I'll sit around with a few people, and I'll find out that two people at the table applied for the same exact job.

"ODD TODD": After dinner, I headed out to like a bar to try and like pick up a chick or something, but I found out that having a beer gut and balding and being unemployed really says something about a guy.

ROSENBERG: Being laid off, sometimes is a bit lonely, where you can have a lot of friends at work and you're the one that's sitting at home. So I guess it's kind of nice to know that somebody else is sitting at home doing next to nothing, like they are.

So thank you for coming and spending some time with me. I'm Todd. You can go to and see "Laid Off, a Day in the Life." This has been a laid off day in my real life. And good luck to all unemployed people everywhere in finding something that's right for them. See you later.

"ODD TODD": But above it all, for now, for what it's worth, it beats freaking working.


HATTORI: You heard right. Todd's collected $7,000 in tips so far. You know, one of the more constructive things he's done during his time off is learn that neat flash animation on his Web site, and he hopes his creative talents will help him find a new gig, just not too soon.

Well, our work is done this week. Here's what's coming up on NEXT. We'll search out the best Web search engines, including some you may have never heard of, and meet some people who have turned searching the Internet into a wacky word game. Also, new technology down on the farm.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What this is, is it's a waterbed for cows.


HATTORI: And how it leads to more contented cows, all that and a lot more coming up on NEXT. Until then, let us know how we're doing. You can e-mail us a Thanks so much for joining us this week. For all of us on the sci-tech beat, I'm James Hattori. See you next time.




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