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There are people who have rocketed to fame. Bruce Simpson wants to be one of them. Literally. If you haven't heard, he's the website developer in New Zealand who is building a cruise missile in his garage to prove how easy that would be for terrorists. Simpson says his, when finished, will consist of "off the shelf" parts costing $2,850. It should be able to fly a warhead 60 miles from his home to Auckland, New Zea-land's largest city, in less than 15 minutes. And, he claims, there's nothing the military can do to stop it. Do the local police know about this? Yes, now that Simpson has become a news media magnet. But, "It's not something we recommend people try at home," a spokeswoman for the force said.

All-time greatest movie hero: No, he's not Bond or Rocky

Gregory Peck's Oscar-winning role as a white lawyer and single father dedicated to getting a fair trial for a black client in a racist Southern town tops a list of the 50 greatest movie heroes, as ranked by the American Film Institute. Los Angeles-based AFI polled 1,500 actors, directors, and critics, asking them to take into account a character's cultural impact and legacy. The top 10 heroes, who played them (in parentheses), and the films in which they appeared:

1. Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck), "To Kill a Mockingbird"
2. Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford), "Raiders of the Lost Ark"
3. James Bond (Sean Connery), "Dr. No"
4. Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), "Casablanca"
5. Marshal Will Kane (Gary Cooper), "High Noon"
6. Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster), "Silence of the Lambs"
7. Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), "Rocky"
8. Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), "Aliens"
9. George Bailey (James Stewart), "It's a Wonderful Life"
10. T.E. Lawrence (Peter O'Toole), "Lawrence of Arabia" - Reuters

Big gifts mean big bucks on Father's Day

Blame the power tools.

Those celebrating Father's Day next Sunday are expected to spend slightly more on dear old Dad than they did on Mom, according to the findings of a new National Retail Federation survey.

Americans plan to spend an average of $99.65 on their fathers and husbands, compared with $97.37 spent last month on moms and wives, the survey found. It's the first time Father's Day spending is expected to exceed Mother's Day amounts in the three years the survey has been conducted.

Women are expected to spend more than men on the holiday - $101.38 compared with $70.89. Young consumers, ages 25 to 44, appear to be the most generous, with predicted expenditures topping $130.

And that money won't go toward the flowers and jewelry so many moms wake up to in May. Instead, clothing tops the list of Father's Day gifts, with tools, gift certificates, books, and CDs close behind.

"Dads are completely different," says Phil Rist, vice president of strategy for BIGresearch, the firm that conducted the survey. "Though Dad is less likely to get a greeting card or dinner out, consumers make up the difference by getting Dad one great big gift."

New homeowners' big beefs with builders

Having a home built? Chances are you'll love the new dishwasher being installed, but the pipes that connect it might not be quite as satisfactory.

So suggests a study conducted during 2002 by Eliant (formerly known as National Survey Systems), a consumer-research service specializing in the nation's homebuilding industry.

Nearly 100,000 homebuyers were asked how satisfied they were with various housing features. Homeowners expressed the most satisfaction with appliances, ranking it in the 83rd percentile.

The same could not be said for flooring, drywall, and plumbing, which all scored below 75 percent. Concrete pouring for driveways and walkways ranked lowest on the survey, with a 64 percent satisfaction rate.

Adequate wall alignment and framing were ranked most important in achieving overall satisfaction with a new home, but received only a 76 percent satisfaction rating.

As for customer care after a year, homebuyers were least satisfied with the response time of builders, ranking that category at about the 75th percentile. A close second was quality of repairs.

Customers expressed the most satisfaction with the courteousness of their builder, followed by the builder's knowledge of their home.

A car without cup holders? Never!

When asked about must-have automobile features, most Americans are demanding a place for their beverage.

More than half of people in a Yahoo! Autos survey last month said they wouldn't buy a car without cup holders.

Even more said they could not own a car without a spare tire (84 percent) or power locks and windows (69 percent). Another third said mirrored visors were mandatory for them. Women were more inclined to demand mirrors than men.

As for snazzier options, a global positioning satellite (GPS) navigation system was the top choice. A fifth of the 2,137 people in the poll said they would spend a $50 to $100 more per month for a GPS.

Eighteen percent said they'd pay more for leather seats, 12 percent listed a DVD with audio surround sound, and 11 percent wanted voice- activated controls. More than half, however, said none of these items was worth the extra cost.

The online survey was conducted in mid-May by Harris Interactive.

Small towns for second-home buyers

That home away from home might show up in an unexpected place.

From Maine to New Mexico, a recent compilation by neighborhoodscout.com highlights the 30 best small towns across the United States where second-home buyers can find a mix of charm, low crime and affordability.

The towns were chosen using data from the Census Bureau, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other government agencies. Following are the towns in each of three regions.

On the Atlantic and Gulf coasts: Bristol, Maine; Saunderstown, R.I.; Clinton, Conn.; Absecon, N.J.; Leonardtown, Md.; Havelock, N.C.; Palm Coast and Big Pine Key, Fla.; Daphne, Ala.; and Refugio, Texas.

On the Pacific Coast: Petersburg, Alaska.; Clinton, Wash.; Gold Beach, Ore.; Mendocino, Gualala, Castroville, Cambria, Los Osos, and Aliso Viejo, Calif.; and Captain Cook, Hawaii.

In the Rocky Mountains: Big Fork, McLeod, and Gardner, Mont.; Wallace and Hailey, Idaho; Ten Sleep and Saratoga, Wyo.; Heber City, Utah; Nederland, Colo.; and Pena Blanca, N.M.

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