Saturday, September 30, 2006

TV Or Not TV


I haven't watched alot of TV over the past several years, mostly due to lack of time, but I decided to try out some of the new Fall Season shows, and what follows is a quick overview of the shows - new and old - I've gotten the chance to watch, and what I've liked or disliked about them.



Men In Trees
is a new ABC show starring Anne Heche as Marin Frist, a relationship coach/self-help book author whose own failed relationship with her fiancee sends her on a mission to find herself in the small town of Elmo, Alaska. In spite of the obvious comparisons with Northern Exposure, MIT is not really like its predecessor, nor as good. Anne Heche is okay in her role, but the show is too cutesie for my tastes, and I'm inclined to think that it Jumped The Shark this past week, when the town of Elmo was dropped by its sister city, and the townsfolks set out on a quest to find a new sis-town, facilitated by, of course, by Ms. Frist. What has left me most cold has been the Doogie Howser-like closing at the end of each show, in which Marin pecks away at her word processor, commenting on something or other that she's learned about herself and the world during the events covered in this week's episode. It's a cheesy device that feels clumsy, and doesn't help at all. If the show finds an audience, it could make it to another season, but I'm betting it doesn't make it.

+++++


Speaking of sharks, Shark is another new series, this one with CBS. It's a legal drama that's well-written and well-acted, and even when it stumbles, it is still better than most of the other new fall shows. What makes Shark sparkle is the superb performance from James Woods, whose portrayal of former defense attorney turned prosecutor Sebastian Stark is nothing short of brilliant. Brash, devious, and ruthless - yet somehow still all-too-human - Woods-as-Stark lights up the screen in every scene he graces, and he's in most of them. I'll go out on a limb, but this show is good enough that it should get Woods nominated for an Emmy this year.

+++++


Kidnapped is a new NBC show that features Timothy Hutton and Dana Delaney as the rich parents of a young boy who is snatched in front of their New York family apartment, and portrays the efforts made to get the boy back. Although I wouldn't say this is the best thing on TV, the writing, acting and chemistry of the cast make this drama worth a look. (Not to be confused with Vanished, which IMHO isn't anywhere near as good.)

+++++


Smith is a new CBS offering that has career criminals as the central characters. Smith is consistently well-written, well-acted, and well-produced, with an all-star cast headed by Ray Liotta as the thief-for-hire who also coaches his son's little league baseball games. I've read both some very good and some very bad reviews of this show, and I'm not certain the negative critics are watching the same program I've seen. It's been said that the main characters are despicable, and therefore don't deserve to have the audience's sympathy, or even to have audience like them. Well, that's the point as I see it: evil is mundane, and it's often hard to know who to root for. In any case, I think it's compelling TV, and I'll be watching thru the season. I hope it lasts.

+++++


Jericho is yet another new CBS show, in which the residents of a small town in Colorado are left to survive on their own, cut off from the outside world after Denver - and much of the rest of the cities of the US - is nuked. It's poorly-done, with cheesy special effects, ham-fisted writing and excessively melodramatic acting. In fact, it feels to me alot like the shabby mini-series made from Stephan King's novel The Stand that was on TV a few years back. I've watched a couple of episodes, and keep hoping things get better but I have been disappointed, and will probably give it up for good.

+++++


Honorable mention: Desperate Housewives is back in its third season, still making good TV, and getting good ratings. It's chockful of surprises, although it's not easy to keep them from the public. Not as great as the first season, but it's interesting and entertaining, nonetheless.

+++++



Dishonarable mention: CSI Miami. I watched the first episode of the new season, filmed partly in Rio de Janeiro, and came away shaking my head at how oh-so-bad the show was. I'd always liked David Caruso on NYPD Blue, but his monotone delivery made thru clenched teeth and turned head just leaves me cold these days. I found CSI's writing shabby, the acting over-wraught, and the cinematography visually arresting, but utterly cliched. The whole look and feel of the show was that of some bad spin-off of Miami Vice. I will not watch again.



Anyway, to sum up, I am hooked on Smith and Shark. If you watch nothing else this season, I strongly recommend those two shows.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

And Speaking Of Psychos


From Yahoo News:



Iraq terrorist calls scientists to jihad

By DAVID RISING
Associated Press Writer

Al-Qaida in Iraq's leader, in a chilling audiotape released Thursday, called for nuclear scientists to join his group's holy war and urged insurgents to kidnap Westerners so they could be traded for a blind Egyptian sheik who is serving a life sentence in a U.S. prison.

The fugitive terror chief said experts in the fields of "chemistry, physics, electronics, media and all other sciences — especially nuclear scientists and explosives experts" should join his group's jihad, or holy war, against the West.

"We are in dire need of you," said the speaker, who identified himself as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir — also known as Abu Ayyub al-Masri. "The field of jihad can satisfy your scientific ambitions, and the large American bases (in Iraq) are good places to test your unconventional weapons, whether biological or dirty, as they call them."

The 20-minute audio was posted to a Web site that frequently airs al-Qaida messages. The voice could not be independently identified, but it was thought to be al-Masri's. He is believed to have succeeded Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who died in a U.S. airstrike north of Baghdad in June, as head of the al-Qaida-linked organization.



Read the rest here.

Found On Flickr




They're Coming


From MPR:



GOP convention: What's the payoff?

by Martin Moylan

September 28, 2006

What's the Republican National Convention going to be worth to the Twin Cities economy? Some folks involved in the campaign to land the convention have been throwing around estimates of an economic kick worth $150 million. But that forecast seems to be based more on rumor than research.

St. Paul, Minn. — Laura McCarthy is the communications director for Meet Minneapolis, the convention and visitors association for the city and surrounding communities. She's heard lots of estimates for how much of a boost the convention will give the Twin Cities economy. But she says her organization isn't making any projection about the economic kick the convention will provide.

"I don't know exactly where all the numbers are coming from," she says. "We don't have an exact estimate at this point. It will depend on the amount spent to stage the convention and the number of people coming."



Hmm. At least the city won't need to add as many vice cops, eh?

Read the rest here.

Paging Dr. Lecter


From Wired:



Psychos Need a Little Sympathy

By Suzanne Leigh

It's difficult to empathize with, let alone have sympathy for, a psychopath. But one scientist believes psychopaths, despite their sometimes terrifying behavior, deserve compassion.

At its core, he argues, psychopathy is a learning disability that makes it difficult for psychopaths to stop themselves from pursuing harmful behavior.

Many psychopaths end up in jail, where they comprise up to 25 percent of the incarcerated population. Outside of prison, just 1 percent is diagnosed with the disorder.

The incidence of psychopathy is about the same as schizophrenia, but a clear differential exists when it comes to studying the former, says Joseph Newman, chairman of the psychology department at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.



Read the rest here.

The Clinton Legacy


06.09.26.ClintonLegacy-X


Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

More On The Story From C&F


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

All Roads Lead To Noam


From OpinionJournal:



To his supporters Noam Chomsky is a brave and outspoken champion of the oppressed against a corrupt and criminal political class. But to his opponents he is a self-important ranter whose one-sided vision of politics is chosen for its ability to shine a spotlight on himself. And it is surely undeniable that his habit of excusing or passing over the faults of America's enemies, in order to pin all crime on his native country, suggests that he has invested more in his posture of accusation than he has invested in the truth.

To describe this posture as "adolescent" is perhaps unfair: After all, there are plenty of quite grown-up people who believe that American foreign policy since World War II has been founded on a mistaken conception of America's role in the world. And it is true that we all make mistakes--so that Prof. Chomsky's erstwhile support for regimes that no one could endorse in retrospect, like that of Pol Pot, is no proof of wickedness. But then the mistakes of American foreign policy are no proof of wickedness either.

This is important. For it is his ability to excite not just contempt for American foreign policy but a lively sense that it is guided by some kind of criminal conspiracy that provides the motive for Prof. Chomsky's unceasing diatribes and the explanation of his influence. The world is full of people who wish to think ill of America. And most of them would like to be Americans. The Middle East seethes with such people, and Prof. Chomsky appeals directly to their envious emotions, as well as to the resentments of leaders like President Chavez who cannot abide the sight of a freedom that they haven't the faintest idea how to produce or the least real desire to emulate.



Read the whole article here.

Med News


From Yahoo News:



Many patients quit medicine too early

By CARLA K. JOHNSON
Associated Press Writer

Many patients stop taking their medicine far sooner than they should, researchers say, and that decision can be deadly when the drugs treat heart disease or diabetes.

It took only one month after leaving the hospital for 1 out of 8 heart attack patients to quit taking the lifesaving drugs prescribed to them, a study of 1,521 patients found.

"One month is very surprising," said study co-author Dr. Michael Ho of the Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

The heart patients who stopped taking three proven drugs — aspirin, beta blockers and statins — were three times more likely to die during the next year than patients who stayed on the pills.



Read the rest here.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Keyed Off


I'm annoyed. No, let me take that back. I'm Pissed Off. I can't say exactly where or when, but I got keyed today. Or rather, my car got keyed. And maybe it wasn't today. Maybe it was yesterday. But I noticed it today. Lemme explain.

I was out and about On Adventures with the girls today after taking them to have lunch with Mommy at her workplace when we stopped to take a walk along a stretch of the Mighty Mississippi. It was then I noticed the someone - or should I say *something*? - had taken a key and used it to etch a line from stern to bow in the side of my trusty Land Ship. And then, as if to make certain that I, the owner/driver, had understood fully that this was no accident, three circular etchings were carved into the hood of my vehicle, as well. Territorial Pissing, I guess. Or make that Territorial Pissed Off.

To answer the obvious questions: 1) no, I did not get into an argument with anyone over a parking space, 2) no, I do not have political bumper stickers on my car (or any other kind), 3) no, I don't drive an SUV, 4) and no to any number of other queries, not that any of the previously named offenses merits keying my car.

This was simply, in short, a malicious act of vandalism. Malicious? Really? Well, no, probably not. There were probably two or three perpetrators involved, and they likely had a good laugh while doing keying my car. After all, it's pretty funny, right?

Look, I know it's not the end of the world, the car still runs fine, neither my kids nor I were attacked or injured. In a world full of horrible things that can happen, this ranks pretty low on the scale of injustices, and I know full well I'm not the only one to suffer such indignities. Stuff like this happens every day.

Thing is, I'd understand it better if they had smashed out a window to steal something I might have left in plain view, like a wallet or iPod. If some junkie smashes out the window of my car to steal something to get money to fill his crack pipe, I'd be angry - and I'd want to see him go to rehab, and then to jail - yet I'd still understand why he did it. But there's no reason to have keyed my car. None.

So, now I have to decide whether to get the car repainted or not. If I do, it'll cost hundreds of dollars, but if I don't, the car will rust quickly at those spots where it was keyed with the winter salt this year, and will lower the value of my car by a likely equal amount. Grrr.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Friday Night Videos




'Feel'
The House Of Love

+++++




'Blue Hat For A Blue Day'
Nick Heyward

+++++




'Throw It Away'
(Third Rockstar performance version)
Toby Rand, with Magni

+++++




'Fools Gold'
The Stone Roses

+++++




'Step On'
Happy Mondays

+++++




'Gas Panic'
Oasis

+++++


Seoul Food


Slide show: cooking class for dog food.

Nope, Not I


From The Register:



Could you be addicted to the internet?

By Dr Stephen Juan

Published Friday 22nd September 2006
13:58 GMT

Can you be addicted to the internet?

Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) is one of the new psychopathologies of the internet era.

The first mention of "internet addiction" was in a 1996 paper by Drs O.Egger and M Rauterberg of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne.

The first case of IAD in the clinical literature was presented by Dr KS Young of the Department of Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh campus in Bradford, Pennsylvania and appears in the February 1997 Psychological Reports. Bradford is now the home of the Centre for Internet Addiction.

The case concerns a 43-year-old housewife who was addicted to the internet yet who otherwise had no prior history of any other psychiatric problem.



Read the criteria here.

More at Wikipedia.

Greetings From Mr. Gibson




Hacking Your 'Pod


From PC Mag:



Install a second operating system to unveil hidden power.

By Mike Kobrin

Are you dissatisfied with your iPod's standard capabilities? Why not install one of the two major alternative operating systems: iPodLinux or Rockbox. Both are open source and free, though they have some quirks and aren't for the faint of heart. But don't worry, it's unlikely that you'll damage your iPod by mucking with the firmware. Rockbox, in particular, can help you get access to lots of sound-enhancement and customization features.

iPodLinux is based on a variant of Linux called uClinux; Podzilla is the most popular GUI (graphical user interface) for it. The project's goal is to let you run Linux (and compatible apps) on a portable storage device—simply because you can. There are music player programs for iPodLinux, but these format-specific apps tend to be glitchy. Rockbox, on the other hand, was created from scratch and lets you customize your MP3 player as much as possible. Rockbox is also a bit rough around the edges, but the developers' main focus is the music player, and a growing list of plug-ins gives you access to games and other fun apps.



Read the rest here.

This Is Cool


32 Weirdly Specific Museums

Exciting New Archeological Find


From The Onion:



Recently Unearthed E-Mail Reveals What Life Was Like In 1995

May 30, 2006 | Issue 42•22

KNOXVILLE, TN—A 1995 e-mail extracted from the hard drive of a recently unearthed Compaq desktop PC offers a tantalizing glimpse into the day-to-day life of a primitive Internet society, said the archaeologists responsible for its discovery.

"We're very excited by this find, because only by understanding our e-mail past can we hope to understand our e-mail present and future," said Northwestern University archaeology professor Lane Caspari, who has been leading the dig through the equipment storage area of a Knoxville-area credit union since late April, on Tuesday. "The discovery also sheds new light on the 1990s—an era we know very little about."

Written by a "scully666@compuserve.com" and addressed to a "makincopeez@prodigy.net," the writer expresses the ancient equivalent of boredom, asks the receiver about his or her status in their primeval office environment, then refers to the act of sending the e-mail itself.

"Nothing going on," begins the e-mail. "What's up with you? Are you going to Mike's b-day thing on Friday? I'm thinking about it. I might go, but I'm not sure yet."

The e-mail continues, "Let me know if you get this e-mail twice. I'm still trying to learn the system. I think the managers know when we're on the Net, so I'll stay away from the web surfing and check my e-mail only once a day."

The e-mail is signed only "K." It contains no subject line.

"It shows that these forgotten people of the '90s had many of the same concerns as modern man, such as b-days, and slow periods at work," Caspari said. "The presence of the archaic slang verbalization 'what's up' appears to indicate that they cared about the immediate welfare of others in their closely knit community, much as we do today."



Read the rest here.

Sake On The Roof




Reality Bites


From Yahoo News:



Man bites panda after panda bites man

Thu Sep 21, 8:08 AM ET

An intoxicated Chinese man who tried to give a panda a hug at Beijing Zoo found himself biting it in self defense after his clumsy attempt at affection was savagely rejected, local media reported Thursday.

Zhang Xinyan, a building worker on holiday from China's central Henan province, climbed into an enclosure that held Gu Gu, a seven-year-old panda, at Beijing Zoo after the man had drunk four pints of beer during lunch at a nearby restaurant, the Yanzhao Metropolis Daily said.

Zhang, who couldn't remember the incident clearly, had wanted to hug the panda and shake its hand after having watched similar scenes on television.

"When I was in there, the panda was eating bamboo. Then, it seemed some people shouted, which startled the panda. He rushed over to bite my leg," Zhang said.

Zhang, who tried in vain to push the panda away, was bitten twice and forced to the ground, the paper said.

"I took the opportunity to bite the panda's back, but its fur was too thick," Zhang said.



Read the rest here.

Found On The Web




Favored By The Gods


Three books reviewed, from Scientific American:



Favored by the Gods

Happiness, according to current scientific thinking, depends less on our circumstances than on our genetic endowment

By George Johnson

STUMBLING ON HAPPINESS
by Daniel Gilbert
Alfred A. Knopf, 2006

THE HAPPINESS HYPOTHESIS
by Jonathan Haidt
Basic Books, 2006

HAPPINESS: A HISTORY

by Darrin M. McMahon

Atlantic Monthly Press, 2006

The sky was smeared with the lights from the midway, spinning, blinking, beckoning to risk takers, but I decided to go for a different kind of thrill: Ronnie and Donnie Galyon, the Siamese Twins, were at the Minnesota State Fair. Feeling some guilt, I bought my ticket and cautiously approached the window of the trailer they called home. Thirty years old, joined at the stomach, they were sitting on a sofa, craning their necks to watch television.

Twenty-five years later I am still struck by this dizzying conjunction of the grotesque and the mundane. Trying to project myself into their situation--a man with two heads, two men with one body--I felt only sickness, horror and a certainty that I would rather be dead. Yet there they were, traveling from town to town, leading some kind of life.

When we try to envision another's happiness, we suffer from arrogance and a poverty of imagination. In 1997, when science writer Natalie Angier interviewed Lori and Reba Schappell, connected at the back of the head and sporting different hairdos, each insisted that she was basically content.

"There are good days and bad days--so what?" Reba said. "This is what we know. We don't hate it. We live it every day." Lori was as emphatic: "People come up to me and say, 'You're such an inspiration. Now I realize how minor my own problems are compared to yours.' But they have no idea what problems I have or don't have, or what my life is like.''

Three recent books--two by scientists and one by a historian--take on the quest for the good life, in which common sense and the received wisdom of the ages is increasingly confronted by findings from psychology, neuroscience and genetics.



Read the rest here.

Remains Of The Friday


It's the first day of Autumn in Minnesota, and I have been home with with daughter number two LK all day. Mrs. Muzzy is off at work, and daughter number one AE is off at school. LK goes to a special preschool four days a week, but Friday is her day off, too, so we've just been hanging out together.

I've been tempted several times to pack LK into the car and head out On Adventures, but I haven't really been feeling very well, and LK seems happy enough to play indoors. Plus it's been chilly all day, not cold enough for winter jackets, but not warm enough for tee-shirts. There's been a light drizzle falling since dawn that reminds me of those misting sytems at the nearby greenhouse, one that shows no sign of letting up. If we really are going to be staying indoors all day, I may well have to start a fire in fireplace. (BTW, 56 degrees farhenheit is about 13 degrees celcius, for all the non-Americanos reading.)

Anyway, I was going thru some photos on my computer just now and found the one on the left, taken exactly one week ago. The temparature was not much warmer than it is today, but the sky was a brilliant cloud-tinged blue, and it was the perfect day for a walk. I took off from my workplace over the lunch hour and walked south about 12 blocks to the MIA, ducked inside for a few minutes and wandered thru the Ancient Art collection, walked over to the freeway (where I took this picture of downtown Minneapolis from the pedestrian overpass), picked up some lunch at a deli, and headed back to work. And even though it was still officially summer, last Friday was the perfect Autumn day, unlike today. I hope we get a few more Fridays like that before Winter sets in.

Southdale


Only in Minnesota: before there was the Mall of America, there was Southdale, the first enclosed shopping center in the US.

(More on Southdale's history here.)

Wikitravel


This is very cool:

Wikitravel

How To Annoy Parents Everywhere




Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Precious Morning


From AmSpec:



A Precious Morning

By Ben Stein
Published 7/20/2006

WEDNESDAY

This morning I awakened from a pleasant dream in which I was talking about old times with my former assistants, the beautiful Julie and Vicki, of the glorious days of "roof testing" at USC fame, and went in to see my wife hard at work on her e-mail, then went to my e-mail, and then saw a cutting letter from a close relative to whom I am nothing but kind, and then a confused letter from a TV executive with whom I work, then a later apology from him noting that he was, as he put it, "...heavily medicated," then a barrage of letters from an editor with whom I work, seeming to me to take the heart out of a piece I wrote for a Major Newspaper.

I was feeling pretty low until I then opened up an e-mail from a soldier in Iraq for whom I pray (not as much as I should). He said that one of his best friends had just lost an eye to an IED explosion. He wondered why he was not hit...he was usually where the man who lost the eye was standing and he's taller and if he were there, he would have been killed in a flash by having his neck cut open. Maybe, he said, he survived because Ben Stein prayed for him. I know this man because I met his Mom at a speech I gave in Vegas and told her in an elevator that I would pray for her son as I hugged her.

I was thrown to my knees to pray to God to thank Him for sending these magnificent men and women who put their lives on the line and my own trivial nothings into perspective.



Read the rest here.

Found On The Web




Feejee Mermaid


The Feejee Mermaid and other Strange Curiosities.

El Diablo


06.09.21.ElDiablo-X


Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

More On The Story From C&F


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Found On YouTube




What The Hawk?


From Breitbart:



Hawks Attack More Than 100 People in Rio

By ELIZABETH DWOSKIN
Associated Press Writer

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil

Residents of crime-plagued Rio de Janeiro have a new kind of predator to worry about _ hawks. A pair of hawks have attacked more than 100 residents of the upscale Ipanema beach district over the past year, scratching peoples heads and faces, doormen working at buildings in the area said Monday.

"People leave the building carrying umbrellas to protect themselves from the attacks," said Luis Honorato, a doorman in a building near where the hawks have built a nest. "At first, they think that someone is throwing something, like a can, onto their heads from the floors above."



Read the rest here.

Found On The Web




All About Leet


From Wikipedia:



Leet (1337) is a sociolect variety used primarily on the Internet, particularly in online games. The term itself is derived from the word Elite, meaning “better than the rest,” and generally has the same meaning when referring to the skills of another person.

Leet can be defined as the perturbance or modification of written text. For example, the term leet itself is often written l33t, or 1337 and many other variations. Such perturbations are frequently referred to as “Leetspeak.” In addition to modification of standard language, new colloquialisms have been added to the parlance. It is also important to note that Leet itself is not solely based upon one language or character set. Greek, Russian, Chinese, and other languages have been subjected to the Leet variety. As such, while it may be referred to as a “cipher,” a “dialect,” or a “language,” Leet does not fit squarely into any of these categories. This article primarily concerns the English Language variant of Leet.



Read the rest here.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A Little Bird Told Me


Every one of us says and does things daily that cause hurt in others, whether we mean to or not. It's part of life and can't be avoided. Sometimes we feel guilty for the pain we cause, sometimes we don't. But at least when other people are hurt we have the option of clarifying matters, and even deciding whether an apology is in order. If we feel we've been in the wrong, we can try to make things right.

It's different when the other sentient beings we cause pain are animals. And when we cause them pain inadvertently, it's all the harder, because there's no recourse, no words that can make it right, no way to make amends. Animals can respond to kindness, to be sure, but we cannot express our regrets, and we certainly cannot apologize. And sometimes - just as with humans - we can't even make things better.

I was out on a brisk walk during my morning work break today, and barely heard the sound of the 'thud' as I passed a Plexiglas enclosed bus shelter. I looked down and realized what had happened: a small yellow bird had been alarmed by my approach, and had tried to make its escape, flying straight into the shelter wall, banging its head, and possibly injuring its wing.

I crouched down to look at the poor thing, clearly stunned, wobbling on its feet, shivering in the cold, with eyes closed. I tried to prod it gently with a small twig, to move it off the sidewalk and out of the way of other pedestrians, but to no avail. It wouldn't budge. I didn't want to further stress the bird, so I didn't try to pick it up. In any case, what would I do with it? I couldn't take it back to work with me, as I didn't have anything to carry it in, anyway. So I walked away, feeling sad, muttering a whispered prayer that the Creator would somehow look after the little bird, knowing full well that if the creature had broken its wing in the process, the odds were unlikely it could survive.

Yes, I know it wasn't my fault, and at no time did I have any intention of unleashing events that would bring the bird any harm. But that's part of what makes me feel so bad about it. If I *had* intended to shoot or capture it - as would a hunter - perhaps I could take some satisfaction in knowing I'd done what I'd set out to do. But as it was entirely accidental, I could only feel sadness and remorse that I had done something that had caused this animal such injury and pain.

It's strange: as a child I would torch ants with a magnifying glass, throw rocks at squirrels, kill birds and lizards and snakes for no good reason at all, and I must confess I gave nary a thought to the animal suffering that I caused. I say that not by way of bragging. Quite the contrary, it's to my eternal chagrin that I did such things. It was twisted, and wrong.

Thankfully, as I grew and matured, I changed one hundred eighty degrees. While today I don't object to the humane killing of animals to eat, I cannot bring myself to even hunt for food, let alone kill for sport. And I have to wonder if the great sadness and regret I feel when things happen like they did with the bird today is somehow an expiation for those sins of my youth, with the guilt of my childhood behavior visiting me in my middle age.

But if it makes any sense at all, I feel good that I felt bad today. Or rather, I am grateful that I have developed a conscience for such things. I would rather be the kind of adult who feels remorse at the injury of a little bird, than to be the kind of person I was when I was a child. And that's a good thing, methinks.

Caring For Someone With Autism


From Autism News:



Top Ten Ways To Cope When Caring For Someone With Autism

By: Ben Sidman

No matter who you are or what you do, caring for someone with autism is difficult and can often stretch you to your limits. Every now and again you can end up feeling like things are getting on top of you. The trouble is that more often than can become every day.

There is no magic wand to take all the difficulties away but there are many ways to improve the quality of your life so that it is much easier to cope with the day to day caring for people with autism.

This is a list of ten simple things that you can do to help you get back on track and help you cope better:

1 – Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

We all go over the top when it comes to worrying about the minor things that can happen. Really you only need to worry about something that can harm your safety or can seriously affect you in the future. Anything else doesn’t really matter. So don’t worry about juice all over the floor if it can be wiped up easily – even if it has happened 5 times already that day. You won’t solve these problems but stressing about them.



Read the whole thing here.

Online File Storage


This is cool:

70+ Online File Storage Solutions

Ahoy, Mateys!


Talk_Like_a_Pirate_Day


How To Chat Like A Pirate


Just in time for International Talk Like A Pirate Day, Karateparty has developed a handy list of IM abbreviations so you can Chat Like Pirate, too.

Security Breach


06.09.19.SecurityBreach-X

Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

More On The Story From C&F


Monday, September 18, 2006

How To Talk Like A Pirate




Not Ready


From the Bangkok Post



Pandemic still off agenda

US firm urges Asians to prepare for worst

WORANUJ MANEERUNGSEE

Risk of a possible avian flu pandemic in Asian countries, including Thailand, is relatively high but most companies in the region remain ill-prepared for it, according to executives of US-based Marsh Inc.

Marsh, the world's leading risk-management and insurance broking service provider, said the possible mutation of the avian flu virus that could be transmitted among humans and trigger a pandemic would have a profound impact on companies and economies around the world.

Quoting several economic institutions, mostly based in the United States, the company said the pandemic could possibly result in damages exceeding US$800 billion worldwide and annual gross domestic product being cut by 2% to 6%. Major disruptions will also be experienced by most businesses, particularly hospitality, health care, travel and infrastructure.

"The business impact (from the avian flu) would be extreme because a pandemic is an extreme case," said Andes Lam, a senior vice-president of Marsh (Hong Kong) Ltd.



Read the rest here.

Music Monday - Actors Who Sing Edition




"Rocket Man"
William Shatner

+++++




'Ballad of Bilbo Baggins'
Leonard Nimoy

+++++




'California Dreaming'
Raquel Welch

+++++




'Hooked On A Feeling'
David Hasselhoff

+++++




'Don't Give Up On Us'
David Soul

+++++




'Willie Of The Valley'
Mae West

+++++


Sunday, September 17, 2006

You're Got A Friend


From The Good News:



The religious thinktank Ekklesia has become the very first 'friend' of Jesus, on the Internet website Myspace.

Jesus appeared in cyberspace yesterday as part of an advertising campaign that features an image of his face on the side of a beer glass.

The adverts direct readers to www.myspace.com/isthisjesus – a page on the social networking site, which has become a global Internet club with 108 million members.



Read the rest here.

Princeton Laptop Orchestra


From Wikipedia:



The Princeton Laptop Orchestra (PLOrk) is a Princeton University ensemble of computer based meta-instruments.

Musical instruments have long been on the cutting edge of technology, often spurring new research and development. In recent years, the computer music research community at Princeton University and elsewhere have been exploring ways in which the computer can be integrated into conventional music-making contexts (chamber ensembles, jam sessions, etc...) while also radically transforming those contexts. This has involved developing new speaker systems that have a more instrument-like presence, human-computer interfacing (HCI) designs that involve performers physically the way musical instruments do, and software to link the performers' bodies to sound. In the past, these ideas have been explored with small groups of people (2-3) whereas the Princeton Laptop Orchestra is the first to extend these ideas to larger groups (12-15) and using the “orchestra” (in a very general sense) as a model.





More from PLOrk.

Talk Like A Pirate Day


From TLAPD:



Tuesday September 19th 2006 is Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Talk Like a Pirate Day only comes once a year (on September 19th), this year it falls on a Tuesday. If you’re not ready yet, you can learn more about this international holiday on the About TLAPD page or practice some phrases from the PiratePhrases page. After all, you don’t want to be handed the BlackSpot when the holiday is over!



More from Wikipedia.

Found On The Web




Minnesota's 5th District Race To Replace Sabo


From Yahoo News:



Keith Ellison may be first Muslim in U.S. Congress

By Todd MelbySun
Sep 17, 8:50 AM ET

Keith Ellison, who could become the first Muslim to win a seat in the U.S. Congress, is a former Catholic who says both religions and family roots in the civil rights movement shaped a fiery liberal philosophy.

The chance to make history thrust the 43-year-old lawyer into the spotlight last week when he won the Democratic nomination to run for the U.S. House of Representatives.

Ellison's faith hardly came up in the campaign in a heavily Democratic district but his former ties to controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan were discussed.

Ellison said he had renounced Farrakhan and his group long ago because of their "bigoted and anti-Semitic ideas." But the issue may not die down.



Read the rest here.

It's A Gas


I just went to the filling station this afternoon and filled up my car's tank at $2.159 for a gallon of unleaded gas. Considering that not much more than a month ago I was paying nearly $3 a gallon, this is a welcome reprieve for my wallet.

But what's more, the falling gas prices are a revelation of sorts: they have exposed President Bush as a superhuman being, capable of the most amazing and dastardly doings. In fact, soon enough we'll discover he has laser-beams that shoot out the eyes, and claw-hands that can crush small rocks.

One of my leftie co-workers explained all this past Friday: the falling gas prices were nothing more than a manipulation of the market by Dubyuh and his Oil Business cronies to try to change the outcome of the elections in November. It seems that if consumers don't feel despair at the pump, they won't vote Democrat. Or something.

Of course, when prices were going up I was told by the same co-worker that it was Dubyuh's doing, too. He and his League of Villains were making obscene profits this past summer on the backs of the hard-working middle-class, which of course was the reason the US had gone to war in the Gulf in the first place.

Never mind that there are rational explanations for both the rise and fall of the price of oil, but the lefties are so blinded by their hatred for the POTUS that they seem to have lost the ability to even discern facts, let alone think clearly about them. What's more, they seem to have conveniently overlooked the fact that Dubyuh will not be running for office again, and that lambasting him without offering any reason to vote for their side is unlikely to pay dividends for them at the polls.

In the meantimes, I am just grateful that gas prices are down. And I guess I might just have to vote Republican in November, after all.

Captain Ed Speaks Out


Captain Ed speaks out on the killing of Sister Leonella Sgorbati.

Rockstar ???


It was announced shortly after the finale of Rockstar Supernova that the courts decided the 'Supernova' name belongs to a California band, and that the newly formed Tommy Lee incarnation would have to come up with a new moniker. Wikipedia explains:



Supernova is a pop punk trio founded in 1989. They hail from Costa Mesa, California. The founding band were members Dave Collins, Art Mitchell and Hayden Thais (replaced in 1994 by Jodey Lawrence).

They recorded the song "Chewbacca" for Kevin Smith's indie classic "Clerks."

They released Ages 3 & Up on Atlantic Records in 1995.

They've played the original Vans Warped Tour in summer of 1995, again in 1999, and have toured with The Buzzcocks, The Aquabats, The Presidents of the United States of America and several other top acts.

Recordwise, since 1995's Ages 3 & Up, the band has gone on to release Rocks in 1998 on Amphetamine Reptile Records and Pop as a Weapon in 2002 through the Sympathy for the Record Industry label.

On June 27, 2006, the group sued CBS and Mark Burnett, claiming their summer reality series Rock Star infringes on their Supernova trademark with the show's all-star Supernova (Rock Star band) [1] and won the rights of the name against CBS.



And, while all that legal kung fu is going on, My Old Kentucky Blog has a rundown on the final Rockstar show, with MP3 downloads available of the show performances of each of the Final Four's original songs. Enjoy. (Of course, in the interest of full disclosure: the Toby Rand tune is the best of the lot. Just thought you should know.)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

No Worries, Mate


Toby Rand introduced the term 'EVS' to America, but it took The Funky Olive to put it on a Tee Shirt. Get yours here.

If you need the MP3 of Toby's show performance of 'Threw It Away,' you can get it at MSN, where it's the number one download this week.

Oh, and for a special treat, zShare (for now) has a free copy of the MP3 of Toby and his Melbourne band Juke Kartel performing an early - but hot - version of 'Threw It Away.' Download it here.

The Truth Comes Out


From the LA Times:



Lonelygirl15 Is Brainchild of 3 Filmmakers

By Richard Rushfield and Claire Hoffman
Times Staff Writers
September 13, 2006

It turns out the people behind the wildly popular video blog lonelygirl15 are not studio executives, Internet moguls or, as some suspected, Satanists. Instead, they are aspiring filmmakers who met at a mutual friend's birthday party in April: Miles Beckett, 28, a Web-obsessed medical school dropout; Mesh Flinders, 26, a screenwriter; and Greg Goodfried, a 27-year-old lawyer.

The lonelygirl15 story unfolded in a series of confessional video blogs, supposedly made by a home-schooled girl named Bree, Since June, viewers have questioned whether Bree and her friend Daniel, who also appeared in the videos, were real people or part of some larger project or promotional scheme. An ominous hint of a satanic plotline to come suggested a horror film in the making.



Read the rest of the story here.

The New Desecraters


06.09.14.NewDesecrater-X


Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

More On The Story From C&F


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Rockstar Supernova


Well, it's official: Lukas Rossi is the new lead singer for Supernova. Honestly, the band could have chosen any of the final four and had a great front man or woman, but after seeing Lukas perform Supernova's first single 'Be Yourself,' I gotta admit, he did it even better than the version Toby did with the band, a couple of weeks ago - and Toby was amazing on it.

So, was Lukas a righteous pick? I must say, I think so. He has the right combination of swagger and talent and good looks that will serve him - and the band - well. I read a blog tonight that described him as a combination of Freddie Mercury and Jeff Buckley. Well, I wouldn't go that far, but Lukas does have a keen sense of theatrics, a soaring falsetto, and he's an arresting performer. Although I'm not a huge fan, I think he'll do a great job.

And the other three?

Magni is good, very good, and after the exposure from the show, I suspect he'll have record deal before the week is out.

Gilby Clarke offered to produce Dilana's first album, and Dave Navarro offered to play on it.

And Toby told a Melbourne news outlet over the weekend that the show's producers have already told him that in the event he didn't win, they want to release his original song 'Throw It Away' as a single, in short order.

In other words, they will all do just fine.

BTW: I've been getting tons of hits off seach engines from people looking for Toby Rand MP3's and/or video. I don't have any MP3's for download, only links to some of his best Rockstar Supernova videos, but I think they are worth a peek. Anyway, if you're looking for the Toby vids, there are under last week's Friday Night Videos.

And lastly, since I'm such a big fan of Toby's, please sit back and enjoy his stunning version of Radiohead's 'Karma Police,' from last night's show:



'Karma Police'
Toby Rand

+++++

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Thingaweek


Jonathan Coulton is one of the best indie artists in the nation, and for nearly the past year he has released am MP3 recording each week thru his Thingaweek project. Since he publishes all his music under the Creative Commons, I am pleased to be free to offer Jonathan Coulton's music on this blog. Check the Streampad Flash player in the right sidebar, and enjoy Mr. Coulton's twisted and amazing talent.

KwaZulu Natal's Shocking HIV Rates


From IOL:



KZN's shocking HIV rates

By Tony Carnie

Medical researchers are finding "unbelievable" rates of HIV and Aids infection among women in several parts of KwaZulu-Natal, with provincial prevalence levels varying between 38 and 50 percent.

Professor Gita Ramjee, of the Medical Research Council in Durban, said that in one area of the South Coast the HIV prevalence level in women was as high at 70 percent, while in the Embo area near Botha's Hill researchers found a prevalence level of more than 66 percent.

Briefing members of the eThekwini municipality's health, safety and social services committee yesterday, Ramjee said as many as five out every 100 women were being infected with HIV every year.

"The figures we are finding are unbelievable, and when I present them at international meetings, people are shocked. These figures are not even found in the high-risk areas of East Africa," she told the committee.



Read the rest here.

Tunnel Vision


06.09.12.Tunnelvis-X


Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

More On The Story From C&F


Friday, September 08, 2006

Friday Night Videos - Rockstar Supernova Edition




"Throw It Away"
Toby Rand

+++++




"Throw It Away (Encore Version)"
Toby Rand

+++++




"Mr. Brightside"
Toby Rand

+++++




"Rebel Yell"
Toby Rand

+++++




"Be Yourself"
Supernova featuring Toby Rand

+++++




"A Current Affair"
Toby Rand

+++++




"Today Show"
Toby Rand

+++++


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Birthday Thoughts


On September 7, 1959 a baby girl named Elizabeth Jeanne was born in Salisbury, Maryland to proud parents, and took her place in the family tree next to her big brother: me. I've written before of the day she died, on July 28, 1966, but tonight I wanted to put down some living memories of her.

Thing is, she died when I was nine and the memories I have of her are twisted out of shape, in a sense, filtered through the prism of her death. I remember her, to be sure, but it feels as if it were 'seen thru a glass darkly,' and I'm not entirely certain that my memories are correct. What's more, being the first-born in the family, and with both my parents deceased, there's no way to fact-check some of what I think I remember. Still, I offer here a small impressionistic word collage of memories, in hopes that I get some of it right.

Elizabeth was tall for her age, not clasically beautiful but she was a pretty girl, nonetheless. She was born with the pronounced almond-shaped Asian-looking eyes that are common on my Dad's side of the family, the same that my youngest daughter also has. She had dark brown hair, an impish smile, and was full of mischief and fun. What's more, she was always reading and learning. She was just about the start second grade with the Calvert Home School program, and she delighted in reading to her baby sister, and teaching her the things she'd just learned in her studies. She was a generous soul: I still have the little canine figurine she picked out for me as a birthday gift during the summer of 1966. The night before she died she and I hand-washed clothes for mother, though I wouldn't say either of us did a very good job. She was addicted to music, singing all the time, and picking out songs on the piano. And even though I have no doubt that my father cared about all his kids, Elizabeth was far and away his favorite.

If Elizabeth had lived she'd be forty seven years of age today. I've often wondered who and what she would have become as an adult, and especially how she she would have looked, but in my mind, she is frozen in time, at seven years of age. I am certain that the pictures I have of her from that period have helped keep her image alive in my head, but I find it irksome that I have no sound recording of her voice, or no moving images of her. There may some 8mm footage in the attic of some family member, or even some reel-to-reel tape recording of her somewhere, but it's not something I have in my possession, and so I'm left with merely the photographs. What's more, there aren't that many of them, and they certainly aren't enough.

Anyway, it's the anniversary of my sister's birth today, and I hope none will find it too maudlin if I wish her a Happy Birthday.

House Of Sand


From the Chicago Tribune:



Movie review: 'House of Sand'
By Michael Phillips
Tribune movie critic

There's pretty and there's beautiful, and a fascinating tug-of-war between the two informs every frame shot by Brazilian Andrucha Waddington. His new film "House of Sand" ("Casa de Areia") tells a spare yet tricky fable-like story spanning much of the 20th Century, as lived by a small clutch of characters in the northern Brazil state of Maranhao.

Waddington lets his best onscreen faces dominate the landscape and the story, written with his leading actresses in mind. One is Fernanda Torres, who is married to Waddington; she plays two roles. The other is Torres' real-life mother, Fernanda Montenegro, who takes on three successive generations of characters. The way Waddington frames these two actresses in an early shot--windswept and sand-blown, as they plod by donkey to a place they must call home--you know you'll be fine when it comes to vividly inhabited Noble Faces of Survival.

Waddington was influenced by the 1964 "Woman in the Dunes," and not just because of the dunes: He and screenwriter Elena Soarez like what happens to characters trapped in the paradox of limitless confinement. "House of Sand" begins in 1910, as the belligerent Vasco de Sa (Ruy Guerra) leads a group of men, women and burros to his newly acquired patch of land amid the mountains of sand. Vasco's pregnant wife Aurea (Torres) and Aurea's mother, Dona Maria (Montenegro) cannot believe their life is to be lived in this lonely environment. Vasco will have none of his wife's entreaties. "We're settling here," he says.



Read the rest here, watch the trailer here, and read lots of reviews here.

(Now showing in Minneapolis at the Lagoon.)

Charm Offensive


06.09.07.CharmOffensive-X

Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

More On The Story From C&F


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Want One


Pez MP3 Player.

Cream And Sugar, Please


From Yahoo News:



Malaysian astronaut to throw tea party in space

Tue Sep 5, 10:22 AM ET

Malaysia plans to push the boundaries of space travel, by making a cup of tea.

Malaysia will send its first astronaut into the heavens aboard a Russian rocket next year and attempt for the first time to make the nation's favorite hot drink, teh tarik, in space.

"The physics experiment is to see what happens to teh tarik in space," Haniff Omar, head of Malaysia's astronaut selection program, told reporters in all seriousness Monday after two Malaysian men were short-listed to make the trip.

Making teh tarik (pulled tea) can be tricky and dangerous, even with the help of gravity. Malaysians pour boiling-hot milky tea swiftly and repeatedly from one vessel held high in one hand into another held low, producing a distinctive layer of froth.

Making teh tarik in space would bring Malaysian customs to the attention of a worldwide audience, said Faiz Khaleed, one of the two astronaut candidates.

"Teh tarik is one of the symbols of Malaysia," he said. "I think this is a good idea also to bring something from our country so the world can learn something about our country."



Read the rest here.

Can Google's Gmail Play MP3 Music Files?


Dave Taylor's got the answer:

Yup!

Open The Pod Door, HAL


From Reuters News:



Scientists identify brain's concept control core

Wed Sep 6, 2006 7:42 AM ET

By Jeremy Lovell

NORWICH (Reuters) - Scientists believe they may have finally identified the part of the brain that deals with the critical issue of matching words to everyday objects.

Using brain scans of people suffering from Semantic Dementia -- the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer's disease in people under 65 -- they have found that the front end of the temporal lobe seems to be crucial to conceptual application.

"People have been talking about how the brain encodes concepts for 150 years. We believe we have found it," Matthew Lambon-Ralph of Manchester University told the annual meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science on Wednesday.



Read the rest here.

What's In A Name?


This.

Very Bad News


From BBC News:



'Virtually untreatable' TB found

A "virtually untreatable" form of TB has emerged, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Extreme drug resistant TB (XDR TB) has been seen worldwide, including in the US, Eastern Europe and Africa, although Western Europe has had no cases.

Dr Paul Nunn, from the WHO, said a failure to correctly implement treatment strategies was to blame.

TB experts have convened in Johannesburg, South Africa, to discuss how to address the problem.

TB presently causes about 1.7 million deaths a year worldwide, but researchers are worried about the emergence of strains that are resistant to drugs.

Drug resistance is caused by poor TB control, through taking the wrong types of drugs for the incorrect duration.

Multi-drug resistant TB (MDR TB), which describes strains of TB that are resistant to at least two of the main first-line TB drugs, is already a growing concern.

Globally, the WHO estimates there are about 425,000 cases of MDR TB a year, mostly occurring in the former Soviet Union, China and India.

Treatment requires the use of second-line drugs, which are more toxic, take longer to work and costly.

But now, according to researchers, an even more deadly form of the bacteria has emerged.



Read the whole story here.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A Little Tuesday Night Mencken


The following is an excerpt from a piece on Brahms, originally published in The Baltimore Evening Sun, August 2, 1926, as republished in The Impossible Mr. Mencken:



III

In music, as in all the other arts, the dignity of the work is simply a reflection of the dignity of the man. The notion that shallow and trivial men can write great masterpieces is one of the follies that flow out the common human taste for scandalous anecdote. Wagner wore a velvet cap and stole another man's wife: ergo, nothing is needed to write great music save a bold spirit and a pretty knack. In other words, Wagner and a movie actor are on all fours. Nothing could be more preposterous. More than any other art, perhaps, music demands brains. It is full of technical complexities. It calls for a capacity to do a dozen things at once. But most of all it is revelatory of what is called character. When a trashy man writes it, it is trashy music.

Here is where the immense superiority of such a man as Brahms becomes manifest. There is less trashiness in his music than there is in the music of any other man ever heard of, with the sole exception, perhaps, of Johann Sebastian Bach. It was simply impossible for him, at least after he had learned his trade, to be obvious or banal. He could not write even the baldest tune without getting into something of his own high dignity and profound seriousness; he coud not play with that tune, however light his mood, without putting austere and noble stateliness into it. Hearing Brahms, one never gets any sense of being entertaineed by a clever mountebank. One is facing a superior man, and the fact is evident from the first note.

I give you his Deutsches Requiem as an example. There is no limit of what is commonly regarded as religious feeling in it. Brahms, so far as I know, was not a religious man. Nor is there the slightest sign of the cheap fustian of conventional patriotism. Nevertheless, a fine emotion is there--nay, an overwhelming emotion. The thing is irresistibly moving. It is moving because a man of the highest intellectual dignity, a man of exalted feelings, a man of brains, put into it his love for and pride in his country. That country is lucky which produces such men.

+++++


IV

But in music emotion is only half the story. Mendelssohn had it, and yet he belongs to the second table. Nor is it a matter of mere beauty--that is, a matter of mere sensuous loveliness. If it were, then Dvorak would be a greater man than Beethoven, whose tunes are seldom inspired, and who not infrequently does without them altogether. What makes great music is the thing I have mentioned: brains. The great musician is a man whose thoughts and feelings are above the common level, and whose language matches them. What he has to say comes out of wisdom that is not ordinary. Platitude is impossible to him. He is the precise antithesis of Mr. Babbitt.

Above all, he is a master of his craft, as opposed to his art. He gets his effects in new and ingenious ways--and they convince one instantly that they are inevitable. One can imagine improvements in the human eye, and in the Alps, and in Beauvais Cathedral, but one cannot imagine improvements in the first movement of the Eroica. The thing is completely perfect, even at the places where the composer halts to draw breath. Any change in it would damage it. But what is inevitable is never obvious. John Doe would not and could not write thus. The immovable truths that are there--and there are truths in the arts as well as in theology--became truths when Beethoven formulated them. They did not exist before. They cannot perish hereafter.

So with Brahms. There are plenty of composers of more romantic appeal. I need mention only Schubert. Schubert, had he lived, might have been the greatest of them all, but he died before any patina had formed on him: he was still going to school in his last days. But Brahms seems to have come into the world full bloom. A few experiments, brilliant even when they failed, and he was a master beside Beethoven and Bach. In all his music, done after his beard had sprouted, there is not the slightest sign of bewilderment and confusion of trial and error, of uncertainty and irresolution. He knew precisely what he wanted to say, and he said it magnificently.



Indeed.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Music Monday - Don't Dream It's Over Edition




'Don't Dream It's Over'
Crowded House

+++++




'Don't Dream It's Over'
Sixpence None The Richer

+++++




'Don't Dream it's Over'
Paul Young

+++++




'Don't Dream It's Over (live)'
Sarah Blasko

+++++


Sad News


From Yahoo News:



Stingray kills famed 'Crocodile Hunter'

By BRIAN CASSEY
Associated Press Writer

Steve Irwin, the hugely popular Australian television personality and conservationist known as the "Crocodile Hunter," was killed Monday by a stingray while filming off the Great Barrier Reef. He was 44.

Irwin was at Batt Reef, off the remote coast of northeastern Queensland state, shooting a segment for a series called "Ocean's Deadliest" when he swam too close to one of the animals, which have a poisonous barb on their tails, his friend and colleague John Stainton said.

"He came on top of the stingray and the stingray's barb went up and into his chest and put a hole into his heart," said Stainton, who was on board Irwin's boat at the time.

Crew members aboard the boat, Croc One, called emergency services in the nearest city, Cairns, and administered CPR as they rushed the boat to nearby Low Isle to meet a rescue helicopter. Medical staff pronounced Irwin dead when they arrived a short time later, Stainton said.



Read the rest here.

Psychiatrist Office Answering Service




Sunday, September 03, 2006

Very Cool


From Spaceflight Now:



Supernova caught exploding

NASA NEWS RELEASE
Posted: August 31, 2006

Scientists using NASA's Swift satellite and a combination of orbiting and ground-based observatories have for the first time caught a supernova in the act of exploding.


Scientists are studying a strange explosion that appeared on February 18, about 440 million light years away in the constellation Aries. The "before" image on the left is from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. The "after" image on the right is from NASA Swift's Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope. The pinpoint of light from this star explosion outshines the entire host galaxy. Credit: SDSS (left), NASA/Swift/UVOT (right)

The event became visible on February 18. It was announced by NASA at the time as an unusual gamma-ray burst, about 25 times closer and 100 times longer than the typical gamma-ray burst. Careful, multi-wavelength analysis has now revealed exactly what took place.



Read the whole thing here.

Very Promising Cancer News


From The Hindu:



Scientists turn immune cells into tumor fighters to treat melanoma

Washington, Aug. 31 (AP): The US Government scientists saved two men dying of melanoma by genetically altering the men's own white blood cells to attack their tumors -- deemed the first major success in battling cancer with gene therapy.

While the men appear disease-free almost two years after the experimental therapy, it wasn't a panacea. Fifteen other melanoma victims weren't helped. So the National Cancer Institute is trying to strengthen the shots.

Still, specialists proclaimed the work, published on Thursday by the journal Science, as an important advance - gene therapy with the potential to fight cancer's worst stage, when it has spread through the body. And the cancer institute hopes to begin testing it soon against cancers more common than melanoma, such as advanced breast or colon cancer.

Doctors can't predict how the two men will fare long-term. Melanoma, the most aggressive skin cancer and killer of almost 8,000 Americans annually, is notorious for returning years after patients think they've subdued it.

``I'm cured for now,'' is how a grateful Mark Origer, 53, of Wisconsin put it after a checkup from NCI doctors this week.



Read the rest here.

Found On The Web




Heavy Meddle


From Yahoo News:



Health experts: Obesity pandemic looms

By ROHAN SULLIVAN, Associated Press Writer

An obesity pandemic threatens to overwhelm health systems around the globe with illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease, experts at an international conference warned Sunday.

"This insidious, creeping pandemic of obesity is now engulfing the entire world," Paul Zimmet, chairman of the meeting of more than 2,500 experts and health officials, said in a speech opening the weeklong International Congress on Obesity. "It's as big a threat as global warming and bird flu."

The World Health Organization says more than 1 billion adults are overweight and 300 million of them are obese, putting them at much higher risk of diabetes, heart problems, high blood pressure, stroke and some forms of cancer.

Zimmet, a diabetes expert at Australia's Monash University, said there are now more overweight people in the world than the undernourished, who number about 600 million.



Read the rest here.