Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Goths Need Love Too

Let them tell it:

Welcome to The Gothic Personals! This is it... the one and only Gothic Personals that started it all! We are designed and run by goths for goths and provide real FREE access to all our features unlike most sites which are out only for the money.

Don't be fooled by those big services who change their background black so they can feed off the scene!

We are dedicated to fostering a sense of community within the scene to allow others of like mind to find each other safely and privately.

This site is our sanctuary. A place we can go to be ourselves and find others like us for anything from friendship to romance... or anything in between.

Look no further... you are home!

Find Goth Love here.

Poor Kitty

From The Mirror UK:


30 January 2007
By Aidan Mcgurran

A CAT has been prescribed a Prozac-style drug because she is depressed at being bullied by other moggies.

Twiglet, a 12-year-old short-haired tabby, also needs anger-management treatment, say experts, because she keeps biting her owner in frustration.

Twiglet's weight ballooned to over a stone as she moped around the house, afraid to go outside.

When owner Jackie Martin, 28, took Twiglet to the vet, he told her the cat was dangerously obese and had depression.

Read the rest here.

Pearly Gates Or Gates Of Hades?

A Runaway Hit?

From WIStv:

Story of the runaway bride to become rock opera

(Duluth, Ga.-AP) January 26, 2007 - The story of runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks is on its way to a theater in the form of a rock opera.

The show is scheduled to open in October at the Red Clay Theatre and Arts Center in Duluth, Georgia.

Mark Pitt, the theater's owner, says the show will not be a comedic spoof of Wilbanks' infamous disappearance before her scheduled 2005 wedding. Instead, he says the rock opera will show how the community came together and bonded over the experience, which included a massive search for Wilbanks before she turned up a few days later.

Pitt says Wilbanks and her then-fiance, John Mason, will only be minor characters.

Reat the rest here.

Couple Brought Together Through Mutual Desperation

From The Onion:

Couple Brought Together Through Mutual Desperation

January 26, 2007 | Issue 43•04

PARKER, CO—After years of unrelenting disappointment and failure on the dating scene, eligible singles Karen Ridenour and Paul Klein forged an instant, clinging bond last month through a mutual desperation born mainly out of an intense fear of being unloved for the rest of their lives.
Enlarge Image Couple Meets

Klein and Ridenour celebrate their one-month anniversary at a local eatery.

"I can't believe how blessed I am to finally have another human in my life," said Ridenour, 40, on Tuesday. "Just when I was on the verge of giving up hope, along came a guy who wasn't married, gay, or repulsed by the sight of me, and my whole life changed."

Added Ridenour: "God, I'm just so glad I found him. Or anybody."

Ridenour and Klein called their first encounter "fate," saying they "never would've met" if they hadn't both attended the same Learning Annex course, "They're Out There: Finding Your Soulmate After 35." The pair hit it off immediately, discovering an identical interest in finding a reason to wake up in the morning, and a shared desire to exchange phone calls with someone other than their aged parents.

Read the rest here.

BBC Downloads?

From BBC News:

On-demand threatens TV shake-up

The BBC wants to let viewers catch-up with television programmes via the net but the plans are proving controversial.

The world of on-demand threatens to shake traditional TV scheduling to its foundations as people increasingly pick where and when they watch video and audio content.

Media watchdog Ofcom estimates that so-called linear TV could be reduced by up to 30% over the next five years as a result of the wave of on-demand programming competing for viewers' time.

The BBC's on-demand plans, described by Mark Thompson as one of the most important projects undertaken by the corporation, will allow viewers to watch popular TV programmes from the previous week's schedule on their computers or via cable TV.

To watch programmes on their PCs, viewers will have to download a piece of software known as the iPlayer.

Read the rest here.

War Power


Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

More On The Story From C&F

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Insufferably Cute Scottish Fold Kitten


From CNN:

Overzealous censor edits 'God' out of 'Queen'

POSTED: 2:07 p.m. EST, January 25, 2007

ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) -- So much for God and country, at least during some in-flight showings of the Oscar-nominated movie "The Queen." That's because all mentions of God were bleeped out in a version of the film given to some commercial airlines.

Even in these politically correct times, censoring references to God in the film was not a statement of some kind. Rather, it was the mistake of an overzealous and inexperienced employee for a California company that edits movies selected for onboard entertainment.

The censor was told to edit out all profanities -- including any blasphemy -- for the version of the movie distributed to Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, Air New Zealand, and other carriers.

So the new censor mistakenly bleeped out each time a character said "God," instead of just when it was used as part of a profanity, said Jeff Klein, president of Jaguar Distribution, the company that distributed the movie to airlines this month.

"A reference to God is not taboo in any culture that I know of," Klein said. "We excise foul language, excessive violence and nudity."

In-flight viewers of the film at one point heard "(Bleep) bless you, ma'am," as one character spoke to the queen. In all, the word "God" is bleeped seven times in the version.

Read the rest here.

Give The Doctor A Hand

From USA Today:

Civil War re-enactors specialize in surgery

Updated 1/26/2007 5:56 PM

By David Dishneau, Associated Press

FREDERICK, Md. — Some Civil War hobbyists search for bullets. Mark Quattrock looks for legs.

The insurance agent from Kenhorst, Pa., is a medical re-enactor specializing in accurate presentations of Civil War battlefield surgery. His audiences expect amputations, so Quattrock has a supply of artificial limbs, purchased at Halloween costume shops.

"Most of the legs you find out there are right legs. There are very few left legs," he said during a recent re-enactor workshop at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick.

That's a minor problem, though, for living historians intent on explaining 19th-century medical techniques to people who mistakenly believe Civil War surgeons prepped their patients by handing them a bullet to bite on. In fact, the near-universal use of ether at field hospitals proved to physicians of the 1860s that general anesthesia was safe.

Amputations draw crowds — and they were indeed performed at field hospitals — but an accurate portrayal of battlefield medicine also should include treatment for horse kicks, gunpowder burns and embedded metal shards from musket percussion caps, said George Wunderlich, the museum's executive director.

"One problem we have as re-enactors is, we're not treating enough minor wounds at the field hospitals," Wunderlich told about 15 people at the Jan. 20 workshop. "Those wounds are never represented at re-enactments, yet they're probably more common in the course of a doctor's treatment than the sexy wounds that everyone wants to see."

Read the rest here.

Tea Hee

From UCL News:

Black tea soothes away stress

4 October 2006

Daily cups of tea can help you recover more quickly from the stresses of everyday life, according to a new study by UCL (University College London) researchers. New scientific evidence shows that black tea has an effect on stress hormone levels in the body.

The study, published in the journal Psychopharmacology, found that people who drank tea were able to de-stress more quickly than those who drank a fake tea substitute. Furthermore, the study participants – who drank a black tea concoction four times a day for six weeks – were found to have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their blood after a stressful event, compared with a control group who drank the fake or placebo tea for the same period of time.

In the study, 75 young male regular tea drinkers were split into two groups and monitored for six weeks. They all gave up their normal tea, coffee and caffeinated beverages, then one group was given a fruit-flavoured caffeinated tea mixture made up of the constituents of an average cup of black tea. The other group – the control group – was given a caffeinated placebo identical in taste, but devoid of the active tea ingredients. All drinks were tea-coloured, but were designed to mask some of the normal sensory cues associated with tea drinking (such as smell, taste and familiarity of the brew), to eliminate confounding factors such as the ‘comforting’ effect of drinking a cup of tea.

Read the rest here.

Windows Vs Mac

Help, I Need Somebody, Help, Not Just Anybody

From Science Daily:

Activation Of Brain Region Predicts Altruism

Date: January 22, 2007

Science Daily — Duke University Medical Center researchers have discovered that activation of a particular brain region predicts whether people tend to be selfish or altruistic.

"Although understanding the function of this brain region may not necessarily identify what drives people like Mother Theresa, it may give clues to the origins of important social behaviors like altruism," said study investigator Scott A. Huettel, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at the Brain Imaging and Analysis Center.

Results of the study appear Sunday, Jan. 21, in the advance online edition of Nature Neuroscience and will be published in the February 2007 print issue of the journal. The work was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Altruism describes the tendency of people to act in ways that put the welfare of others ahead of their own. Why some people choose to act altruistically is unclear, says lead study investigator Dharol Tankersley, a graduate student in Huettel's laboratory.

Read the rest here.

Get A Job!

From NY Times:

From Tech Workers to Nurses, an Employee’s Market

Monica Almeida/The New York Times


Published: January 28, 2007

UNEMPLOYMENT is low and the job market is strong, according to surveys. But just where are the jobs in 2007?

As the population ages, jobs continue to go wanting in health care. And as more products and services go digital, competition for information technology workers is intense. Demand is also increasing for workers in the sales, clerical, education, financial services, accounting and customer service categories.

“Unemployment is at a historically low level,” said Brent Rasmussen, chief operating officer at, an online job site that surveyed employers about where they expected to add jobs this year. “I think in 2007 we’ll see steady growth, much more of an employee market.”

And nearly half the employers surveyed said they expected to increase initial salary offers to new employees — about one-sixth of those by 5 percent or more.

With baby boomers starting to retire and shortages of skilled workers in some areas, demand is expected to result in not only higher salaries, but also in more career advancement and opportunities for flexible work environments.

Mr. Rasmussen noted that 40 percent of the more than 2,600 employers surveyed for his company by Harris Interactive currently had job openings for which they could not find qualified candidates.

Competition is particularly fierce for nurses, with thousands of openings that paid $51,000, on average, in 2006. Tenet Healthcare, for example, currently has about 4,000 nursing positions open.

“The reality is there are more nursing positions in this country than there are qualified nurses,” said Carol Maxwell, senior director of executive recruiting for Tenet, which is based in Dallas and owns 64 hospitals in 12 states.

Read the rest here.

Iran Prepares People For 'Messiah Miracles'

From WorldNetDaily:

Government broadcasts series on imminent appearance of apocalyptic Islamic 'Mahdi'

Posted: January 27, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern

© 2007

Official Iranian radio has completed broadcasting a lengthy series on the imminent appearance of a messianic figure who will defeat Islam's enemies and impose Islamic Shiite rule over the entire world – even speculating on specific dates the so-called "Mahdi" will be revealed.

English-language transcripts of "The World Toward Illumination" programs can be found on the website of IRIB, a public broadcast arm of Tehran.

"Be joyous my heart, miracles of the Messiah will soon be here," reads a poem used to conclude the first broadcast. "The scent of breaths of the One we know comes from near. Grieve not of sorrow and melancholy, as assured I was … last night that a Savior will come, it's clear."

After the coming of the 12th imam, or Mahdi, "liberal democratic civilization" will be found only in "history museums," explained the program.

Read the rest here.

How To Ruin YouTube

From CNet News:

YouTube to share revenue--original videos need only apply

January 27, 2007 11:00 AM PST

YouTube is about to show us the real meaning of "sharing." Not only will amateur videographers get to dull the world with clips of kittens playing with a string, they'll get paid for it, too.

YouTube has confirmed to the BBC that it will share the revenue it makes for uncopyrighted videos. Company co-founder Chad Hurley said at the Davos Economic Forum that the revenue-sharing decision is an attempt to reward creativity.

To make this work, of course, the video-sharing giant must now prescreen the 100 million videos it presents daily. That?s an interesting move given that part of YouTube's success is attributed to its original stance not to prescreen videos, thus allowing people to post clips from TV shows, music videos and movies. That was the same stance, of course, that got YouTube in hot water with copyright holders.

Read the rest here.

Found On The Web

It's Not So Bad, Really

The short version:

I lost my cellphone today.

The long version:

I am a pessimist by nature. I expect things to go wrong, or, at the very least, I expect things to go wrong for me. Of course, most things do not go wrong, though I'm loathe to notice. Like most people, I fixate on the few things that don't go as I might have hoped, and ignore the countless things that go pretty much right. What's more, despite the fact that most things do, in fact, not go wrong, I am still likely to be indignant when things go awry.

Well, enough with the preface, and on with the story.

I am on Daddy-Duty this weekend, which means that Mrs. Muzzy is working, and I am getting to spend copious amounts of time with my lovely daughters AE and LK, and I guess that's one of the things that is good in my life.

Both the girls were off school on Friday, so we slept in a bit, got up late, went to McDonald's for Breakfast, stopped by my workplace to show off my girls to my co-workers, took a trip to the well-stocked but not very well-staffed Microcenter, stopped by the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden for a first-time visit (that's right, neither they nor I had ever been there), and came on home for a mellow rest of the afternoon, and evening. We lit a fire in the hearth, AE did some homework, and we had hot dogs for supper. It was a nice day.

This AM we had a smallish breakfast and then headed on downtown for lunch with Mrs. Muzzy. After lunch we headed out 'On Adventures' to the Mall Of America. I had been out there this past Wednesday to Mall Walk in the late AM, and had found the place nearly deserted. It wasn't deserted today.

The MOA is an amazing place. It is not the largest, but it's far and away the most visited tourist/shopping complex in the world, and after ten years of existence, the place is being readied for an expansion. It's vilified by many, both in town and across the land, as a monument to corporate retail greed, but its very success serves as an answer to its critics. Apparently millions of people each year feel compelled to come from across town and across the world to visit its several hundred stores and restaurants, and the indoor amusement park.

We spent the majority of our time at the Park At MOA (formerly Camp Snoopy). AE would probably be interested in some of the bigger rides, but her little sister is scared of them, and so they both did only the kiddie rides today. But the park isn't just for rides. A man-made stream runs through it, from one end to the other, and there are some 10,000 live plants and trees in the park. I assure you, on a frigid Minnesota winter afternoon it's great to be able to walk around without a coat in such a place. We were there a total of about three hours, and then decided to head home.

And then it happened. Well, it probably happened some time before: I realized I had lost my cell phone. Ironically, I'd left it in the car when we first arrived, and had gone back to get it; why didn't I just leave it in the car? Anyway, I looked everywhere - the stroller, my coat, the shopping bags - several times, and came up empty-handed. I even checked Lost and Found at the Information Desk, but was told that nothing had been turned in. What's more, they didn't seem to think there was any use calling back to check again until Monday AM.

Look, it's not so bad, really. I mean, neither of the kids was hurt, my car still runs, I didn't lose my iPod, or my Palm Pilot, both of which I had with me today, also. And I was able to suspend my phone service online when I got home, and noticed that there had not been any activity on my account. (I use a prepaid service, and I have about U$100 in my online account that could have been tapped.)

But what's really got me was that it's a camera phone, and I have a bunch of photos on it that I'd not transferred. If the phone is gone, the pictures are gone, kaput. What's more, all my contact numbers are gone, as well. It's not like anyone could access them, because I have both the camera and the contacts password-protected. But the 40 or 50 numbers in the phone had to be entered by hand, individually, and there's no way to sync this particular phone to a computer. So, as I said, if the phone is lost, all that information is lost, too. Yes, I can enter it again into a new phone, but it would take a good deal of time and patience to do so.

Of course, if I can't find the phone, I'll have to buy a new one, which will cost me around U$80 to replace the same one I lost. I *could* get a different model, or even consider moving to a different provider, but I just prepaid about U$100 onto my account this very month. I guess I'd stick with the same one.

So, I logged into the online website, suspended the phone service, and prepared to gird up my loins and venture out into the elements tonight after Mrs. Muzzy gets home from work, in search of a replacement phone. It was then, and only then - after I'd suspended the service, of course - that I happened to peek into the shopping bag AE picked up at the NASA booth in the Rotunda and saw my cell phone tucked under the NASA poster. I could swear - and swear under my breath, I did - that I'd looked earlier in that bag for the phone, and saw nothing. And why was it in the bag and not on my belt or in my coat pocket? I can't blame AE, because I didn't give the phone to her. I must have put it there. Gah!

So, that's good, right? I lost the phone, I found the phone. All's right with the world? Well, I guess. But I'm annoyed that I'd spent time standing in line at the MOA Customer Service to see if the phone had been turned in, and I'm annoyed that I spent energy and expended effort looking for something that was there all along, and I"m really annoyed that I'm going to have to call my cellular provider later on tonight - and sit on hold forever - to get the phone re-activated. But, you know, what's really got me worried is what I'm going to be like when Alzheimer's really sets in. Sigh.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Dense Like Me

From CNN:

Scientists create world's densest memory circuit

POSTED: 2:53 p.m. EST, January 25, 2007

SAN JOSE, California (AP) -- Researchers in California said they have created the world's densest memory circuit, one that's about 100 times denser than today's standard memory circuits, while remaining as small as a human white blood cell.

Scientists from the California Institute of Technology and the University of California, Los Angeles, reported the development in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.

The circuit has 160,000 bits of capacity, compared with previous generations of molecular circuits that were demonstrated at 64 bits.

But researchers point to the circuit's density as the real breakthrough: 100 billion bits per square centimeter, which the researchers said is about 100 times more tightly packed than current memory circuits.

"As the semiconductor industry moves forward, they're always making things smaller and smaller, and according to their own projections, just a few years from now they're manufacturing approach will run out of steam," said Caltech chemistry professor James Heath, who authored the research with J. Fraser Stoddart at UCLA. "What we did is leapfrogged that and developed another approach."

Read the rest here.

Want One

Friday Night Videos - Grab Bag

'River Man'
Nick Drake


'Jive Talkin'
Bee Gees


'L'Amore Sei Tu'
Katherine Jenkins


'Seven Nation Army'
White Stripes


'Don't Give Up'
Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush


'Hey Jude'
The Beatles


Losing My Religion'


The Snacks Don't Eat Themselves

From Yahoo News:

Diet, exercise take off equal pounds, study finds

By Maggie Fox
Health and Science Editor
Fri Jan 26, 10:13 AM ET

Eating less and exercising more are equally good at helping take off the pounds, U.S. researchers said on Friday in a study that challenges many of the popular tenets of the multibillion dollar diet and fitness industry.

Tests on overweight people show that a calorie is just a calorie, whether lost by dieting or by running, they said.

They found there is no way to selectively lose belly fat, for instance, or trim thighs. And their carefully controlled study added to evidence that adding muscle mass does not somehow boost metabolism and help dieters take off even more weight.

"It's all about the calories," said Dr. Eric Ravussin of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, part of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

"So long as the energy deficit is the same, body weight, fat weight, and abdominal fat will all decrease in the same way."

Ravussin said the study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, is one of the few done under controlled conditions that can actually demonstrate what happens to a human body while dieting and exercising.

Read the rest here.

Adam Eason: Maintaining New Year's Resolutions

From Adam Eason's Blog:

Maintaining New Years Resolutions with NLP

by Adam Eason
Tue 04 Jan 2005

With the month of January always comes a vast wave of people who want help with their new years resolutions, so many people use this time of year as a fresh leaf with a fresh period of time, by February, the momentum is often lost. I personally enjoy and like making changes and I like helping others make changes, so for those of you who have made resolutions, here’s a quick & easy guide to making them more quickly & easily than ever before.

1) Accept the reality of the current situation.

Accept yourself exactly as you are.

One of the presuppositions of NLP is that every behaviour has a positive intention. By accepting the reality of the current situation, you get an accurate starting point for making a change. If you want to change yourself in some way, acceptance is a big accelerator. When you accept yourself exactly as you are, you meet yourself at your own map of the world & get rapport with your own unconscious mind. You are then in a far better position for creating some amazing change on your own terms.

2) Get a vivid, sensory rich idea on how you want it to be.

Figure out what you want, & state it in the positive. For example “I want to achieve and maintain the size shape and weight that pleases” not “I want to lose some weight”). Your unconscious mind treats negative and positive the same when it learns, they aren’t processed by your nervous system in the same way that they are when you speak them, for example; The command "Don’t think of a pink elephant" is difficult to obey, in order not to do it, you have to do it! When someone says “I want to stop smoking” you have to imagine smoking to understand the sentence. Stating that you are “becoming a non-smoker” is more progressive. Also, vividly imagine what you will see, hear & feel when you’re getting what you want. When you do that, turn the brightness and colours up in your imagination, make the sounds louder and turn up the wonderful feelings that go with it. Then BELIEVE in that which you want. View that which you want like you just know it is going to happen, view it with the idea that you deserve it and be playful and humorous with it, in other words not serious about it.

3) Get fired up!

If you’re going to invest your valuable time & energy on doing something, you’d better have a good reason, so what are the reasons you want to achieve this goal? What will it get for you? How will it help you? What will it make possible for you? Allow yourself to really explore all the benefits you’re going to get from making this change, & how good that will make you feel. The more you drive yourself to get fired up, enthusiastic and motivated about it, the more it is a successful inevitability.

4) Let go of your goal. Detach from the outcome.

When you really really really really want something, your system tenses up, & it becomes more difficult to get it. Instead, find a way to become OK with the idea of not getting it. This maintains a sense of relaxation & acceptance while you’re moving towards your goal. Imagine your goal as actual “thing” and imagine letting go of it, cut the ties that bind it to you and let it happen unconsciously without you having to continuously engage in conscious thought processes about it. Get in touch with me if you need more information on “letting go.”

5) Generate the behaviours that will help you get what you want.

Think about new behaviours that you will need in order to succeed. Then think about the outcome, that’s right, think about having achieved the outcome. Then if that outcome is as you want, imagine stepping into that version of you in your mind; see through those eyes, hear through those ears, feel those feelings and really acquaint your conscious and unconscious minds about what it will be like when you have achieved that. Then just allow your unconscious mind to deliver it without making too many conscious moves towards the outcome. Let it happen.

6) Celebrate your successes!

For those that know me, I like to celebrate (with fun and laughter mostly). People need to celebrate more, so celebrate your successes. Not just the big goal, but every milestone along the way. If you want to slim down, celebrate every few pounds lost (with something that supports you, like new clothing, not chocolates.) If you want to be a healthy non-smoker, celebrate your first day smoke-free, then your first week, first month etc. If you want to learn yoga, celebrate going to your first class, sticking with it for a month etc. Find things to celebrate & then do it – celebration sends a strong “You’re doing the right thing” message to your brain, & makes it easier & more enjoyable to do more of it.

Read the rest of the article here.

Foul Weather


Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

More On The Story From C&F

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Little Mosque On The Prairie - Video

Little Mosque On The Praire 1 of 4

Little Mosque On The Praire 2 of 4

Little Mosque On The Praire 3 of 4

Little Mosque On The Praire 4 of 4

Little Mosque On The Prairie

From Wikipedia:

Little Mosque on the Prairie

Little Mosque on the Prairie is a Canadian sitcom on CBC Television. The series focuses on the Muslim population of the fictional rural prairie town of Mercy, Saskatchewan. The creator of the show is Zarqa Nawaz.

The title is a pun on the classic American book and drama series, Little House on the Prairie, but is not otherwise based on the earlier series. This series does, however, use a modified version of the logo used for Little House on the Prairie.

The show premiered on Tuesday, January 9, 2007, at 8:30 p.m. Thereafter, it will air Wednesdays at 8:00 and repeat the following Monday at 9:00 (all times half an hour later in Newfoundland). New episodes were previously expected to have their first airings on Mondays; however, the January 15 broadcast was a repeat of the pilot.

Read the rest here.



Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

More On The Story From C&F

Monday, January 22, 2007

Music Monday

I don't have much time tonight, but I just wanted to link to a great Arctic Monkeys Fansite called 'Mardy Bum,' after a song of the same name. Check out their list of free Arctic Monkeys MP3 demos here.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Gound Control To Major Tom

From World Net Daily:

UFO frenzy ignited by Air Force officer
Others report strange phenomenon, digital expert views possible 'pilot'

Posted: January 19, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern

By Joe Kovacs

© 2007

Zoomed image of mysterious orange light seen Jan. 9 near Van Buren, Ark. (photo: Col. Brian Fields, USAF, ret.)

A retired Air Force colonel who photographed mysterious, colorful lights hovering over western Arkansas last week has ignited a frenzy of interest in unexplained airborne phenomena, as WND has received numerous reports of similar sightings across the U.S., while a digital expert has filtered the pictures to reveal startling images of what he says could be the "pilot" of the unidentified craft.

"I believe these lights were not of this world, and I feel a duty and responsibility to come forward," said Col. Brian Fields, who spent nearly 32 years in the military piloting F-16 fighter jets. "I have no idea what they were."

As WND exclusively reported, Fields, 61, was at his Van Buren, Ark., home Jan. 9 when just before 7 p.m., he observed two intensely bright lights as he looked to the southeast close to the horizon.

Zoomed image of mysterious yellow light seen Jan. 9 near Van Buren, Ark. (photo: Col. Brian Fields)

"At first I thought they were landing lights from an aircraft," he said. "As I continued to observe them they began to slowly disappear, then suddenly one reappeared, followed by two, then three. On at least one occasion four or five appeared. Each time they would slowly fade and eventually disappear. This occurred several times and when they would reappear they might do so in differing numbers and in different positions, sometimes in a triangular shape, sometimes stacked on top of each other, sometimes line abreast, etc. When the objects appeared they might stay illuminated 10 or more minutes."

Fields' wife thought the lights may have been ground-based, but Fields says he's certain they were airborne.

"I'm certain it wasn't an aircraft [from Earth]," said Fields, who also ruled out the possibility of flares, saying they didn't descend like flares typically do. "It's not anything I ever had any experience with . ... They were some kind of energy or something."

Read the rest here.

Heads Or Tails? will do the hard work of flipping that coin for you.

Free Learning Company Lecture MP3 Download

From The Learning Company:

"We must learn to live together as brothers or perish as fools."—Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our Gift to You! A Complimentary Lecture about Martin Luther King, Jr., from The Teaching Company

To thank for your continued support of The Teaching Company, and to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr., Day on January 15 and Black History Month in February, we are proud to present Professor Dennis Dalton's lecture "Stride of Freedom" from his course, Freedom: Philosophy of Liberation. This lecture is a free gift to you. You may access this free lecture online until Wednesday, February 28, 2007.

Download here.

Sunday Evening Ramble

I woke up on Thursday with a horrible knotted something in the base of my spine that hurt so bad I could hardly walk. I spent the whole day in bed and on the futon, in turns, lying on a heating pad, but didn't seem to get much relief. I did get up on Friday to go to work, but was in wretched pain all day. I went out for a walk at one point to get some lunch, about a mile down and a mile back, which seemed to give me a respite of sorts, though I'm not sure I understand the reasons why. Of course it wouldn't have helped at all, if I'd slipped and fallen on the ice like I almost did at one point. I suppose the stretching of the muscles involved in walking is what makes the difference. Anyway, I stayed at work all day on Friday, and actually got quite a bit done. I am highly distractable, and often have a hard time focusing on the job, but when I'm in serious physical pain, it seems that work actually serves to as a kind of analgesic, and that I am able to get more done. Cruel irony, I guess, but such is life.

(I can't remember what I did on Friday night, except for posting Friday Night Videos. It's always a bit'o'fun to peruse YouTube for those posts. If you haven't spent the time to watch, please do. I like to think you'll find something enjoyable to watch.)


On Saturday AM my back was still hurting really bad, but I decided to get up and go out and about - pain or no pain - to do something I've been meaning to do for some time: I took AE with me to visit a Shabbat worship service at a Messianic congregation across the river in Wisconsin. It's a gathering of believers belonging a relatively small movement that has attracted Jewish believers in Yeshua, and Christians who wish to incorporate the Jewish roots of Christianity into their lives. One of the leaders, DT, is an old friend, and it was good to see him and his wife, as well as to worship with them. Their service was a long one, lasting nearly three hours, with a break in the middle, consisting of traditional Jewish prayers and Torah readings, as well as singing led by a cantor in both English and Hebrew, followed by a more traditional sermon expounding on both Old and New Testament teachings. In the afternoon there was a potluck meal in the basement hall, which AE and I were invited to join. The whole thing was an interesting experience, and the group of over a hundred was welcoming and friendly. AE was thrilled that my friend's wife introduced her to their 8 year-old daughter; the two bonded quickly and spent the entire time together.

The Messianic movement has been at times controversial amongst both Christians and Jews.

The Gentile Messianics see themselves as fostering a return to the roots of Christianity, and encourage worship that includes many or all the elements present in the early Jewish church. Certainly they are historically correct in their emphasis on the Jewishness of both Yeshua and his followers. But there was disagreement even in the early church as to how the Gentiles should be folded into the body of believers, and that's not been resolved to this day. It's not clear from the New Testament writings that there is a need for modern followers of Jesus to practice the Jewish rituals, feasts and to use Hebraic liturgy, but the modern worship of Catholics, Protestants and Eastern Orthodox believers has been so thoroughly purged of the flavor of the essential Jewishness of the early church that it's hard for me to say with any conviction that the Messianic movement's return to its roots is entirely wrong, either. While they may not get much support from traditional Christian churches, the most negative thing most Gentile Messianics are likely to experience is being viewed as odd by other believers.

The Jewish Messianics have an additional set of difficulties. They are uniformly rejected by Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Jewish branches for their belief in Yeshua as the promised Messiah. Never mind that many of them were born into traditional Jewish homes, and still practice all the ritual life of Judaism. Even atheistic Jews are still considered Jews, by nature of their birth, but on the basis of their belief in Yeshua, the believers are shunned, and not considered to be Jews. In fact, to become a Jewish believer in Yeshua is suffer rejection from one's family and peers. What's more, the traditional Christian church has not usually welcomed such converts, either, and usually strongly encourages them to give up Yom Kippur, Rosh Hoshanna, Passover Seders and Bar/Bat Mitzvahs. It's a difficult road for them.

Anyway, the Messianic movement gives both Gentile and Jewish believers a place to live out their faith. And other than the fact that I was a Hurting Unit all day, visiting this congregation was a nice experience. It was good to see old friends I hadn't seen in well over a dozen years, and also very cool: I sat at a table during lunch with someone I learned had been in a band with a college friend of mine, some 25 years ago. It's a small world, after all.


As I've mentioned elsewhere, the public library system here has a host of great services available to patrons, including free WIFI, Books on Tape and CD, and a massive collection of VHS and DVD movies. I recently checked out a few DVD's, and haven't had the time to watch most of them, but I *have* managed to watch nearly all of 'The Passion Of The Christ.' I say 'managed' not because I can't bring myself to watch the rest, but because I only have had time for that much of it, so far. It's much too difficult to watch with my girls around, as they simply aren't old enough to be able to process that level of violence. And violent it is. But unlike so many reviewers who berated the movie for what was referred to as 'gratuitous gore,' I have found what I've seen of the movie to be moving and compelling. If anything, it made me appreciate for the first time the truly incredible suffering that the Via Dolorosa held for the Carpenter From Galilee.

Additionally, much was made in reviews of the movie's supposed subtext of anti-Semitism, but I did not really see that. Maybe it's that there's hyper-sensitivity on the part of some to the oft-repeated slander that all Members Of The Tribe are somehow collectively responsible for Christ's death, but that argument is fairly easily refuted, and in any case, leaving aside the fact that both the Bible and the movie makes clear that the Yeshua laid down his *own* life as a sacrifice for the many, it's hard for me to see how a movie that holds both the leaders of the Sanhedrin *and* the Roman Procurator responsible for the death of Yeshua as being somehow anti-semitic. Yes, there was dramatic license taken with the story, but it's essentially a faithful re-telling of the Gospel narratives. In any case, I can't speak for anyone else, but viewing the film has not stirred up any latent anti-Semitism in my bosom. All I could think of as I watched was the incredible suffering that the God-Man Yeshua went thru, and the movie has helped me see his final hours in a new light.


Anyway, it's been a slow weekend, and I've gotten very little accomplished. It's hard enough living thru with Minnesota winters, with their short hours of sunlight, but to have to be cooped up indoors is even worse. I've been feeling a bit down - SAD, praps? - and really wanted to get out walking this weekend, to work up a sweat and burn some calories, but on account of my back I just couldn't do it. And this next weekend I'll be on Daddy Duty, which means I really won't get any serious exercise done then, either. Thing is, I really *need* the exercise, and not just for cardio and aerobic benefits. I have long suffered from depressions that seem to come on unexpectedly, triggered by life events or by some unforeseen chain of events. Whether Seasonal Affective Disorder is real or not, I *do* find myself getting more melancholy in the winter, and being able exercise really does help. It's more than just getting out of the house, though that helps too. I really do think there's something to the theory of the Runner's High, where the endorphins kick in and literally alter a person's mood. My knees won't allow me run, but walking is the next best thing.

Interestingly, there have been recent studies done that have compared the efficacy of exercise to medication in adults suffering depressive episodes, and both have been found to have roughly equal outcomes, with the added benefit of fewer relapses in the groups that did only exercise. I've had several episodes of serious depressions - and not all in the distant past - where walking for hours each week quite simply kept me from going utterly mad. I don't respond well to anti-depressant medications, and have found exercise - especially when augmented by a Teaching Company lecture or two - is about the best therapy possible for me.

Of course, with nearly all good, there is bad, too: when I walk alot, it aggravates an old injury I suffered to my left hip, and I then end up in terrible pain because of it, which, in turn, threatens to bring on depression. It's a vicious cycle, and one that I have to imagine I will battle more as I grow older, and become more feeble. It's my hope and prayer that I will remain vital and able to move around well into old age, but there's no such guarantee in life. If my hip continues to deteriorate I may have to resort to using a stationary bike or something similar, but I really dislike using those things. (And yes, I have consulted with docs about my hip. They've even done MRI's and found nothing treatable. Meh.)


Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Rain In Spain...

Fascinating: the BBC's 'Learning English.'

And In Other 'Get A Mac' News...

From CSO Online:

E-mail Flooded by Storm Trojan

Jan 19, 2007

Malicious Trojan horse software claiming to provide information on topics like the deadly storms that have battered Europe this week has infected thousands of computers over the past 24 hours, security vendor Sophos warned Friday.

The e-mail tries to entice victims into clicking on the malicious attachments by offering reports on topics like "230 Dead as storm batters Europe," or "U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has kicked German Chancellor," said Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant with Sophos.

The attachments have names such as "Full Story.exe" or "Full Video.exe." Once they are launched, these files install software that then waits to receive further instructions over the Internet, Cluley said. Unlike a worm, this Trojan software does not immediately seek out other targets to infect once it has been installed.

Read the rest here.

Max Headroom, Meet Your Party At The Holodeck

From Wikipedia:

Second Life (abbreviated SL) is an online virtual world provided by Linden Lab which came to international attention in late 2006 and early 2007. Through a client program, users interact with each other through avatars, providing an advanced social network service.

While SL is sometimes referred to as a game, it, in general, does not have points, scores, winners or losers, levels, an end-strategy, or most of the other characteristics of games. Users, who are often called "Residents" amongst themselves, can visit this virtual world almost as if it were a real place. They explore, meet new people, participate in individual and group activities, and buy items (virtual property) and services from one another. If they decide to visit often, they learn new skills and mature socially (in the sense of learning the culture of the virtual world).

Read the rest here.

The Information Factories

From Wired Magazine:

The Information Factories

The desktop is dead. Welcome to the Internet cloud, where massive facilities across the globe will store all the data you'll ever use. George Gilder on the dawning of the petabyte age.

THE DRIVE UP INTERSTATE 84, through the verdant amphitheatrical sweep of the Columbia River Gorge to the quaint Oregon town of The Dalles, seems a trek into an alluring American past. You pass ancient basalt bluffs riven by luminous waterfalls, glimpsed through a filigree of Douglas firs. You see signs leading to museums of native Americana full of feathery and leathery tribal relics. There are farms and fisheries, vineyards arrayed on hillsides, eagles and ospreys riding the winds. On the horizon, just a half hour's drive away, stands the radiant, snowcapped peak of Mount Hood, site of 11 glaciers, source of half a dozen rivers, and home of four-season skiing. "I could live here," I say to myself with a backward glance down the highway toward urban Portland, a sylvan dream of the billboarded corridor that connects Silicon Valley and San Francisco.

Then, as the road comes to an end, the gray ruin of an abandoned aluminum plant rises from a barren hillside. Its gothic gantries and cavernous smelters stand empty and forlorn, a poignant warning of the evanescence of industrial power.

But industry has returned to The Dalles, albeit industry with a decidedly postindustrial flavor. For it's here that Google has chosen to build its new 30‑acre campus, the base for a server farm of unprecedented proportion.

Although the evergreen mazes, mountain majesties, and always-on skiing surely play a role, two amenities in particular make this the perfect site for a next-gen data center. One is a fiber-optic hub linked to Harbour Pointe, Washington, the coastal landing base of PC-1, a fiber-optic artery built to handle 640 Gbps that connects Asia to the US. A glassy extension cord snakes through all the town's major buildings, tapping into the greater Internet though NoaNet, a node of the experimental Internet2. The other attraction is The Dalles Dam and its 1.8‑gigawatt power station. The half-mile-long dam is a crucial source of cheap electrical power – once essential to aluminum smelting, now a strategic resource in the next phase in the digital revolution. Indeed, Google and other Silicon Valley titans are looking to the Columbia River to supply ceaseless cycles of electricity at about a fifth of what they would cost in the San Francisco Bay Area. Why? To feed the ravenous appetite of a new breed of computer.

Moore's law has a corollary that bears the name of Gordon Bell, the legendary engineer behind Digital Equipment's VAX line of advanced computers and now a principal researcher at Microsoft. According to Bell's law, every decade a new class of computer emerges from a hundredfold drop in the price of processing power. As we approach a billionth of a cent per byte of storage, and pennies per gigabit per second of bandwidth, what kind of machine labors to be born?

How will we feed it?

How will it be tamed?

And how soon will it, in its inevitable turn, become a dinosaur?

Read the rest here.

Found On The Web


(Remembering the meaning of Easter.)

Free Daily MP3 Download

Magnatune will send you one free MP3 download from their massive catalog each and every day of the week. They are a reputable outfit, and there don't appear to be any hidden catches: I haven't been spammed since signing up for their mailings. Oh yeah, did I mention it's free?

Help Me, Obi Won!

From Wikipedia:

Wookieepedia, the Star Wars Wiki is a wiki for information on the Star Wars saga, including information on all six films, as well as the Expanded Universe. The name Wookieepedia is a pronunciational portmanteau of Wookiee and Wikipedia, because of the pronunciation similarity of Wookiee and wiki.

Wookieepedia can be found at

Read the rest here.

Interesting Cancer News

From Science Daily:

January 19, 2007

Science Daily — Building on newly discovered genetic threads in the rich tapestry of biochemical signals that cause cancer, a Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center team has dramatically killed brain cancer cells by blocking those signals with a statin and an experimental antitumor drug.

The unlikely pairing of cholesterol-lowering lovastatin and cyclopamine killed 63 percent of medulloblastoma cells grown in the laboratory. By contrast, using either agent alone wiped out fewer than 20 percent of cells. The Hopkins researchers published their findings in the January issue of the American Journal of Pathology.

The researchers caution that the cyclopamine-lovastatin combination has yet to be tested in animals, much less people, but they conclude that the tumor cell-killing by the combo is tantalizing. Cyclopamine works by blocking the so-called "hedgehog" pathway, long known to promote and guide cell and organ growth. Excessive growth is the chief characteristic of cancer. The investigators believe that blocking hedgehog with cyclopamine makes cancer cells more susceptible to lovastatin.

Read the rest here.

Losing Strategy


Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

More On The Story From C&F

Friday, January 19, 2007

Friday Night Videos - Grab Bag

Sinead O'Connor


'Somebody Told Me'
The Killers


The Corrs


'Famous Last Words'
My Chemical Romance


'Don't Know Why (live)'
Norah Jones


'Gimme Me Some More'
Busta Rhymes


Alanis Morissette


'Leave Before The Lights Come On'
Arctic Monkeys


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Found On The Web

Nothing New Under The Sun

From Science Daily:

New Details Of First Major Urban Battle Emerge Along With Clues About Civilization's Origins

Date: January 17, 2007

Science Daily — New details in the tragic end of one of the world's earliest cities as well as clues about how urban life may have begun there were revealed in a recent excavation in northeastern Syria that was conducted by the University of Chicago and the Syrian Department of Antiquities.

"The attack must have been swift and intense. Buildings collapsed, burning out of control, burying everything in them under vast pile of rubble," said Clemens Reichel, the American co-director of the Syrian-American Archaeological Expedition to Hamoukar. Reichel, a Research Associate at the University's Oriental Institute, added that the assault probably left the residents destitute as they buried their dead in the ruins of the city.

Reichel made that assessment of the battle that destroyed Hamoukar about 3500 B.C. after an excavation was conducted in September and October at the site near the Iraqi border. The team uncovered further evidence of the accomplishments of the inhabitants among the remains of the walled city dating to the fourth millennium B.C.

In addition to the wall, the team has uncovered quasi-industrial installations and two large administrative buildings that had been destroyed by an intense fire. It was at the site that, mixed in with the debris from the collapsed wall, that over 1,000 egg-shaped sling bullets were found in 2005, leading the excavators to conclude that an early act of warfare had caused the end of the settlement.

Read the rest here.

From The Boomer Files

From Newsweek:

The First Day of the Rest of My Life

In this book excerpt, author Sara Davidson describes 'the narrows,' the phase in life where everything gets harder—before it gets easier.

Jan. 22, 2007 issue - What are you doing now?" people would ask me.

"Different things ... " If I'd told the truth, I would have said, "I'm doing nothing." For the first time since college, I have no work. I've always been overscheduled—writing TV scripts in the bleachers at Little League games—but at 57, I'm at home with no kids and no work. After 24 years and several award nominations, I can't get hired to write for television. In Hollywood jargon, I can't get arrested. At the same time, my partner of seven years takes off with no discussion, and my children, who've occupied my first thoughts on waking and my last before falling asleep, are off at college. As long as they lived with me, I got up at 7 and made pancakes, drove them to school, soccer, music lessons, helped them write papers and carve pumpkins for Halloween. No more. My kids, my lover and my livelihood are being yanked from me at once and there's nothing I can do. When I tell this to a friend, the photographer Peter Simon, he says, "Oh, honey, you've got money problems and no sex. That's not good."

Not good at all. I can't sleep either. I fall asleep but wake at 2 a.m., shaking with fear. What am I supposed to do for the next 30 years? I've raised my kids, written best sellers, had deep love ... Why am I still here?

This was the beginning of a period I later came to call "the narrows," the rough passage to the next part of life. In the narrows, you're in the dark, stripped of what you thought was your identity, and must grapple with questions like: What do you really want to do with the time left? What will make you feel most alive? That your being here has mattered?

I found, after several years of research, that everyone—no matter how much money or achievement you've attained or not attained—must go through the narrows. You may do it in your late 40s, you may not do it till your 70s, but if you don't do it voluntarily, the world or your body will force you to. Maybe your hips or knees wear down, or you can't drink as much and stay out as late without paying. You're compelled to shift gears, and you won't come out unchanged.

Read the rest here.


Arthur "Art" Buchwald

(October 20, 1925 - January 17, 2007)

Old Fogy On Wagner

James Huneker was one of the finest American arts critics of the late 19th and early 20th century, well-known in his day, but mostly forgotten in ours. Do yourself the favor of reading the passage quoted below on Wagner for a taste of Huneker's rapier wit, taken from Project Gutenberg's public domain copy of 'Old Fogy, originally published in 1906.


With genuine joy I sit once more in my old arm-chair and watch the brawling Wissahickon Creek, its banks draped with snow, while overhead the sky seems so friendly and blue. I am at Dussek Villa, I am at home; and I reproach myself for having been such a fool as ever to wander from it. Being a fussy but conscientious old bachelor, I scold myself when I am in the wrong, thus making up for the clattering tongue of an active wife. As I once related to you, I recently went to New York, and there encountered sundry adventures, not all of them of a diverting nature. One you know, and it reeks in my memory with stale cigars, witless talk, and all the other monotonous symbols of Bohemia. Ah, that blessed Bohemia, whose coast no man ever explored except gentle Will Shakespeare! It is no-man's-land; never was and never will be. Its misty, alluring signals have shipwrecked many an artistic mariner, and--but pshaw! I'm too old to moralize this way. Only young people moralize. It is their prerogative. When they live, when they fathom good and evil and their mysteries, charity will check their tongues, so I shall say no more of Bohemia. What I saw of it further convinced me of its undesirability, of its inutility.

And now to my tale, now to finish forever the story of my experiences in Gotham! I declaimed violently against Tchaikovsky to my acquaintances of the hour, because my dislike to him is deep rooted; but I had still to encounter another modern musician, who sent me home with a headache, with nerves all jangling, a stomach soured, and my whole esthetic system topsy-turveyed and sorely wrenched. I heard for the first time Richard Wagner's _Die Walküre_, and I've been sick ever since.

I felt, with Louis Ehlert, that another such a performance would release my feeble spirit from its fleshly vestment and send it soaring to the angels, for surely all my sins would be wiped out, expiated, by the severe penance endured.

Not feeling quite myself the day after my experiences with the music journalists, I strolled up Broadway, and, passing the opera-house, inspected the _menu_ for the evening. I read, "_Die Walküre_, with a grand cast," and I fell to wondering what the word _Walküre_ meant. I have an old-fashioned acquaintance with German, but never read a line or heard a word of Wagner's. Oh, yes; I forget the overture to _Rienzi_, which always struck me as noisy and quite in Meyerbeer's most vicious manner. But the Richard Wagner, the later Wagner, I read so much about in the newspapers, I knew nothing of. I do now. I wish I didn't.

Read the rest of the passage here, and the whole of 'Old Fogy; here.

Hmm, Food

Easy One-Pot Dinners.


From AOL:

For Many, Car Ownership Is Very Personal


Updated:2007-01-15 17:23:49

WASHINGTON (Jan. 15) - Cheryl Hoffer leaves the world behind when she climbs into Breezy - her Volkswagen GTI - and drives the 31 miles of winding roads through California's Santa Cruz mountains to visit her daughter.

Like many in an AP-AOL Autos poll, her car is more than a machine and her relationship with it is intensely personal.

"I love my car, I like everything about it," said the 61-year-old nurse. The VW has all the sporty features and she came up with the nickname because it has a sunroof.

"My daughter lives about 31 miles away on one of the most dangerous roads to drive," said Hoffer, who loves navigating the hairpin turns. "It's wonderful."

Almost four in 10 of those polled said their car has a personality of its own. Two in 10 have a nickname for their car. Most often it is a female nickname; popular choices include variations on Betsy, Nelly, Blue and Baby.

Read the rest here.

Dead Ball


Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

More On The Story From C&F

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Viral Marketing

From Science Daily:

January 17, 2007

Lethal Secret Of 1918 Influenza Virus Uncovered

Science Daily — In a study of non-human primates infected with the influenza virus that killed 50 million people in 1918, an international team of scientists has found a critical clue to how the virus killed so quickly and efficiently.

Writing this week (Jan. 18, 2007) in the journal Nature, a team led by University of Wisconsin-Madison virologist Yoshihiro Kawaoka reveals how the 1918 virus - modern history's most savage influenza strain - unleashes an immune response that destroys the lungs in a matter of days, leading to death.

The finding is important because it provides insight into how the virus that swept the world in the closing days of World War I was so efficiently deadly, claiming many of its victims people in the prime of life. The work suggests that it may be possible in future outbreaks of highly pathogenic flu to stem the tide of death through early intervention.

Read the rest here.

Extreme Ironing Depth Record (137 meters)

Happy Birthday LK

It was the fourth birthday of lovely daughter number two LK today, and it hardly seems possible that it was that many years ago that I took AE down to the hospital to see her baby sister for the first time. LK's often been a challenge, but she's a delightful child, and I can only think how lucky I am to be her Daddy.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

It Was Worth It

From LA Times:

'24' hitting the shelves in half that

The day-after release of the DVD underscores the speed at which studios must operate.

By Meg James, Times Staff Writer

January 16, 2007

In one of the quickest turnarounds ever for a television show to appear on DVD, Twentieth Century Fox Television today is expected to release the season premiere episodes of "24" less than 12 hours after the popular drama finishes airing.

The sixth season of the show starring Kiefer Sutherland as federal agent and terrorist fighter Jack Bauer was launched Sunday and Monday on Fox Broadcasting Network.

By this morning, DVDs of the shows will be on retail shelves. Usually, studios release a television DVD months, if not years, after the network run and package them as a boxed set with an entire season's worth of discs.

Read the rest here.

(Hey, don't judge me too harsely. I set the VCR wrong last night, and didn't tape the full show. When I heard it would be out today on DVD, together with a $10 off coupon for the full boxed set (when it becomes available), I decided to spring for it. It was compelling episode and I'm glad I got the chance to watch.)

Be Sure To Floss

From Science Daily:

Gum disease linked to pancreatic cancer

January 16, 2007


WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- A large, prospective study has again identified a link between periodontal disease and a higher risk of pancreatic cancer, the fourth-leading cause of cancer death in the United States, experts reported Tuesday.

Researchers found men with periodontal, or gum, disease had a 63 percent higher risk of getting pancreatic cancer as compared to those without the condition.

"It's been a real struggle to understand the risk factors for a disease which is highly fatal and poorly understood," said senior author Dr. Charles Fuchs, a gastrointestinal oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

Fuchs and colleagues at the Harvard School of Public Health gathered data from a group of 51,529 male health professionals -- mostly white dentists -- who were aged 40 to 75 years. The participants completed a questionnaire about their health every two years from 1986 to 2002. Of the group, 216 patients developed pancreatic cancer and 67 got periodontal disease. The researchers used statistical analyses to evaluate the risk of pancreatic cancer.

This study, which will be published Wednesday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, goes beyond the scope of previous studies by offering more detailed data, as well as drawing from a huge sample size, Fuchs said.

Read the rest here.


From Yahoo News:

Australia's burkini set to put Muslim women in the swim

by Madeleine Coorey Mon Jan 15, 10:03 PM ET

SYDNEY (AFP) - What do you get when you cross Australian beach culture with a desire to remain clothed in a way acceptable to Muslim women? If you're designer Aheda Zanetti, you get what she says is the world's first two-piece Islamic swimsuit, the burkini.

While other Islamic swimsuits exist, Zanetti says her light-weight, head-to-ankle costumes are the first to be streamlined down to a two-piece suit incorporating a head covering.

With Australian beaches full of girls in skimpy bikinis and revealing one-pieces, there was a "hole in the market that needed to be filled" for more modest beachwear, she said.

"A lot of girls were missing out, a lot of women were missing out, on a lot of sporting activities, including swimming," Zanetti told AFP from the clutter of her southwestern Sydney shopfront.

Read the rest here.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Music Monday - A Sudden Sway

In 1982 and 1983 U2 was getting huge press in American college radio circles. The lads in the band were collaborating with a large number of other artists, on a variety of projects, so it didn't seem odd that Bono and The Edge might have been credited by the staff at a local record shop as being 'guests' on a four-track EP called 'To You With Regard' by a then-unknown-round-these-parts group named A Sudden Sway. I snapped up a couple of copies, thinking they might be worth something someday, and when I got them home and listened, I was intrigued. The lyrics are a bit bizarre, but the music is brilliant: four very sophisticated guitar-based tunes with some underlying similarity with the Irish band's early music. After repeated listens, though, it seemed clear to me that the vocalist was not Bono - although he could be singing backup - but The Edge may well have been doing some of the guitar work. I've never heard this connection mentioned anywhere else, online or offline, but I put the matter to a journalist friend who interviewed Bono for a magazine article in the mid-80's. When asked about the supposed uncredited collaboration, Bono proportedly told my friend with a sly smile that he'd heard of such a rumor, and then promptly changed the subject. At this juncture I'm inclined to think that there was nothing of substance to the story, and that Bono was just having some fun, but who knows? In any case, I've been meaning to rip the tracks to MP3, but it seems somone has beat me to it, so go have a listen at Witchseason. Enjoy.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Random Ruminations

Well, it's Saturday night, and I've done nothing much today, really.

I had intended to get up early and go into work for a few hours to make up some time I'd missed this past week, but I didn't wake up in time. Actually, it's very rare that I get to sleep in, but Mrs. Muzzy and the girls are off at a family gathering in Wisconsin. I am not into travelling much these days, and I kind of wanted some down time after the holiday hustle and bustle of Christmas and New Year's, so they went, and I stayed here.

So, anyway, I'm home alone this weekend, just me and the kitty, and it's too quiet, and even a bit lonely. It's strange, you know, how I find myself craving such alone time, and when it happens, all I can think of is how much I miss having the family around, and will be relieved when they get home. I guess Joni Mitchell was right: 'You don't know what you've got till it's gone.'

Bizarre: This evening I called up to to wish AE and LK a good night. Mrs. Muzzy took the call on her cell phone, and let each of the girls chat with me for a couple of minutes. When AE got on the line, we spoke for a minute, and I told her I was looking forward to seeing her tomorrow, when they return, to which she responded by bursting into tears. I was touched that she might miss me that much, but she set me straight by pointing out that the reason she was crying was that she was having a great time there, and didn't want to come home so soon. I reminded her that Dear Old Dad was missing her terribly, and she told me she missed me too, but that she would like just one more day there. Hrrmmph.


Speaking of my girls, lovely Daughter Number Two LK will be turning 4 years of age this coming Wednesday. It's hard to believe she's that old already. I know, that's just the sort of thing that parents say, but it's true: kids really *do* grow up fast. Soon enough she'll be off to college, and I'm already starting to anticipate how I'll be missing her, but fortunately that's another future post. This year we're going to have a little family-only party for her, but with six cousins ranging from 3 to 14 years of age, it will be a full house.

Like her older sister AE, LK was diagnosed as being on the Austistic Spectrum, which probably means she has Asperger Syndrome, but that level of distinction isn't made on kids as young as she is. The conventional wisdom is to give such kids intensive speech and play therapy as early as possible to try to mitigate the effects of the condition. The ones so treated are never cured, but they can have their lives transformed in ways big and small by getting help early, something that is much more difficult without such intervention.

What's fascinating to me is that LK scored almost exactly the same as AE did on the scale that measures Autism in kids - it's determined by observation of a specialist - but the kinds of issues she has are different than her sister's. LK has always been more outgoing and social on a one-on-one basis, but she seems less likely to engage other kids in play than her sister did at that age. She's also more strong-willed, and engages in long drawn-out periods of crying, as a way of coping with stresses. Of course, all kids cry. But AE could be more easily coaxed out of those moods. LK will sob for up to a half hour, until she finally announces that she's done, and then she's fine. LK is much less likely to accept instruction that her sister was at this age, as well, unless she requeste it.

Of course, along with impairments come talent. LK taught herself to read early - though not as early as did AE - but she also taught herself sign language, and writing at the same time, as well. At not-quite-four, Lk loves to sit down and write little stories, with illustations and a penmanship unmatched by most first-graders. She has also taught herself how to pick out simple kid's songs on the piano, which she plays with one finger, but with the correct phrasing intact.

Anyway, like her sister, she's an lovely and amazing child, and I feel honored that I get to be her daddy.


I got together today for lunch with a couple of buddies (and one of the friend's twenty year-old son) at Famous Dave's Barbecue. It's a chain of southern-style barbecue joints that serve up authentic greasy ribs, potato salad, beans, corn bread, and the like. It's not the kind of place that Jenny Craig would approve, but I probably don't eat there more than a couple or three times per year, so I suppose I can be forgiven the lapse in culinary judgement. Actually, it's quite good fare, and the company was pleasant. I'm glad we went.

After lunch all four of us drove across town to The Museum Of Russian Art. I'd heard good things about the place, but hadn't gotten around to checking it out since it opened several years ago. The collection isn't huge, but it's tastefully displayed in a very attractive space. Since their exhibits change regularly, I hope to go back again soon.

(The three of us guys hadn't seen each other since before Christmas, so small gifts were exchanged. I received two separate gift cards to Half-Price Books, which will be spent in short order. Thanks, dudes.)


Hazzah! The new season of 24 starts tomorrow evening with a 2-hour blowout episode, and another 2 hours on Monday night. And the new season of American Idol tryouts air on Tuesday. Is either show worth watching this year? I dunno yet, but I'll let you know.


I stopped by my brother's house on the way home from the museum to wish my SIL a happy birthday, but they were out for the evening The door was answered by her sister SV, who was babysitting the kids tongight. I'd not seen her in a number of months, since she left to go work in Shanghai last summer, so we chatted for a while, and she told me what she was up to these days. I also made sure to greet my niece and nephew propertly, and I left to go home.

My SIL's birthday is always a sad one for her and for the family. Several years back her first pregnancy ended with induced labor on her birthday, as the baby she was carrying died in utero, at around 6 or 7 months. They named the baby and gave her a burial at a nearby cemetary, which I thought touching, and very healthy. Certainly it was hard, and they will feel that loss for the rest of their lives, but they did get the chance to say goodbye.

Unfortunately, not the medical establishment has always been so clear-headed.

My mother was carrying twins the year after I was born, but the umbilical cords became tangled, and the girls died just hours before they were to be born. The doctors whisked them away, and never even let my mother see them, let alone cradle them. My mother's lifelong grief over that loss was compounded by a lack of closure that could have come had she been allowed to hold them, and name them and bury them. It's almost unimaginable today that the conventional wisdom could have once been such.


Speaking of sad, I just found out yesterday that one of my co-workers - someone I've known for years - has terminal cancer. Apparently it came on suddenly, and is so pervasive that the doctor's have told her they could treat it but that it would do nothing but slow down the inevitable, with the added downside that it would make her extremely nauseated all the time, and worse. She's decided to opt for no treatment, and has apparently even told the doctor's she does not wish to know how long she has. She wants to go about her days as if things were normal, to be able to enjoy her last few days or weeks or months with her friends, family and co-workers. I've known this lady for many, many years, and have the utmost respect for her on a professional basis, and have always found her genuinely likeable and personable. Ever since I heard the news I can't stop thinking about her, and how sad this is. I feel like I miss her already.


This Monday is a holiday for me, the celebration of slain Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday. Actually, it's not his birthday, really, and the day celebrates his life, not his birth. Oddly, it was a controversial thing when the holiday was first decreed. Each state has to ratify the creation of a new holiday, and most did so, but initially the state of Arizona did not, claiming it would create a burden on the taxpayer to give the day off with pay to so many city and municipal and state employees. This did not sit well with the African Americans of that state, and indeed, the rest of the country. The state was ostracized for its position, and eventually folded its objections and declared the third Monday of each January to be Martin Luther King Day.

Of course, what was initially set up as a day of remembrence to honor the Civil Rights Activism of Dr. King has become just another holiday for most people. Even many African Americans I know can't be bothered to attend any of the several rallies in town to commemorate his accomplishments. Most of them probably won't even take the time to re-listen to his famous "I Have A Dream" speech. But then again, I probably won't either.

When the holiday was first declared, I remarked to friends that I wondered how long it would be before the day became nothing much more than an excuse to have a sale at the local mall. It didn't take long. That very first year I was at a thrift shop called Savers, and heard the following announced over the Public Address system: "Dr. Martin Luther King had a dream of peace, equality and justice for all people. At Savers, we have a dream of low prices." Well, it's the American Way, no?

I have spoken with a number of African Americans in recent years who insist to me that racial matters in this country have deteriorated over the years since Dr. King's death. I have to wonder if it's not a disappointment rising from expectations that were too optimistic during those heady days of the mid-60's. Racism has not disappeared, and many Blacks do suffer indignities in this country that Whites do not, but it's not gotten worse, by any fair measure.

As an aside, I was stunned to see language in the Deed Abstract of my own house that was written in the 1950's prohibiting the sale or rental of this property to any persons of, and I quote: "Semitic, Negro or Asiatic" descent. This kind of descrimination in housing was not the law in Minnesota, but it could be written into contracts between parties, that were then enforceable in court. The salient point is that the laws of the land did not *prohibit* such agreements, and they were altogether more common than many people realize. Of course, the Civil Rights legislation that came as a response to Dr. King's Civil Rights protests has prohibited such descrimination since the mid 1960's, but under the original terms of the development of the property where I reside, Dr. King could have not have lived in this house. Whatever else anyone says, *that* much has quite obviously changed.

But I think those who argue that things are worse today are simply not being realistic. When Dr. King was leading marches throughout the South, Blacks were supposed to have access to separate but equal education, public rest rooms, and housing, but that, of course, was kept from them. Today such indignities are ancient history. Certainly it's true that some Blacks are still denied equal justice, but the law of the land now prohibits such descrimination, and there is legal redress available when such offenses occur. Things really *have* changed in my own liftime, and the country thanks Dr. King for his efforts towards that end.


I have been walking alot in the past couple of weeks for exercize, trying to get in better shape, and to lose about 10 pounds. I've managed so far to lose a couple pounds, but I really didn't do any exercize of any consequence yesterday or today. What's more, I ate alot of stuff that simply isn't conducive to losing weight, both yesterday and today. Thing is, my hip seems to be acting up again, and it hurts something fierce. I had managed to complete 11,000 steps on Thursday, but it was so cold on Friday that I couldn't bring myself to even leave the building where I work to go to lunch. I just ate my desk. Anyway, I just heard on the news tonight that it's going to be colder still tomorrow, so I may have to make my way to the nearby mall and walk there. It's free, and alot safer than risking slipping on icy streets.


I got home to a phone message from a buddy who lives in North Carolina, asking me to call him back when I got in, which I did, but I didn't reach him. It turns out he had left for the evening when I called, so I ended up chatting with his smart and lovely almost-17 year-old daughter 'Lyss. The family had been up in Minnesota to visit this past December, and had stayed with us overnight. Obviously it hadn't been that long since we'd talked, but it was still nice to chat with her, and to find out what she's been up to since they went back home. She misses Minnesota, and told me how wrong it is that she was able to walk outdoors today in a tee shirt, and how much she'd like to be here, where it's been only about 10 degrees above zero all day. Of course I told her she was daft. I'm half-tempted to send her a baggie and tell her it was filled with frigid Minnesota air when it was sent.

Speaking of 'Lyss, she and her older brother are the ones I used to make the compilation CD's for, back in the day. It's been a while, but I made her up a CD while they were here, which she told me tonight she has enjoyed.

What was on it, you ask? Well, for your enjoyment and edification, here's the track list:

Anna Nalick - Breathe (2AM)
Coldplay - Fix You
Future Leaders of the World - Let Me Out
Jem - Finally Woken
Kasabian - Club Foot
The Killers - Mr. Brightside
John Fogerty/Blue Ridge Rangers- Working On A Building
Larry Norman - Jesus Freak
Lifehouse - You and Me
Rachael Yamagata - Letter Read
Relient K - Be My Escape
tobymac - Gone
The Flaming Lips - The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song
Sufjan Stevens - That Was the Worst Christmas Ever
Ringside - Struggle
Britney Spears - My Prerogative
Yellowcard - Rough Draft
Muzzy - Film Credits Roll Here

Yeah, I'm still an eclectic Musicologist, you know.


Lastly, I mentioned last week that I'd taken the girls to visit Cabela's in Rogers. Well, I shot some video on my still camera while we were there, which I spliced together tonight into a 6 minute travelogue. I didn't bother editing too much, and didn't add a voice-over, for lack of energy and time. In any case, if you've ever wanted to visit the largest outdoor outfitter's store I've ever seen, check out the YouTube video below. Enjoy.