Sunday, February 25, 2007

Found On The Web




Want One


From Adtron



PHOENIX, AZ - February 20, 2007 - Solid state flash disk manufacturer Adtron Corporation, announces today the immediate availability of its most advanced generation of the Adtron Flashpak® Family of products including the IDE and Serial ATA (SATA) flash disk models, the I25FB and A25FB, respectively. The products in this announcement include the industry's highest capacity 2.5" SLC NAND flash disk drives at 160 GBytes, only available from Adtron.



Read the rest here.

Autism News


From Science Daily:



Largest-ever Search For Autism Genes Reveals New Clues

February 19, 2007

Science Daily — The largest search for autism genes to date, funded in part by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has implicated components of the brain's glutamate chemical messenger system and a previously overlooked site on chromosome 11. Based on 1,168 families with at least two affected members, the genome scan adds to evidence that tiny, rare variations in genes may heighten risk for autism spectrum disorders (ASD)*.

The study is the first to emerge from the Autism Genome Project (AGP) Consortium, a public-private collaboration involving more than 120 scientists and 50 institutions in l9 countries. Their report is published online in the February 18, 2007 issue of Nature Genetics.

With NIH support, the AGP is pursuing studies to identify specific genes and gene variants that contribute to vulnerability to autism. These include explorations of interactions of genes with other genes and with environmental factors, and laboratory research aimed at understanding how candidate susceptibility genes might work in the brain to produce the disorders.

"This is the most ambitious effort yet to find the locations of genes that may confer vulnerability to autism," said NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D. "The AGP is revealing clues that will likely influence the direction of autism research for years to come."



Read the rest here.

How Iraq Terrorists Target Prince Harry


From WorlnetDaily:



LONDON – Osama bin Laden personally has targeted Iraq-bound Prince Harry, saying he is wanted "dead or alive," says an exclusive breaking report today in Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin.

Code-breakers for MI6, Britain's external intelligence agency, have cracked al-Qaida's secret communications system and discovered Prince Harry is named as a prime target for the terror network when he goes on active service to Iraq.

The MI6 code-breakers also have discovered the first real evidence in over a year that bin Laden is alive and personally has authorized the capture of the young prince – third in line to the throne – "dead or alive."



Read the rest here.

MySnow And MySpace


Well. It snowed throughout the night, but not as much as I imagined it might. I ran the snow blower to clear the driveway and walks last night at around 9 pm - perhaps 50 square yards total - so the accumulation wasn't as much as it would have been, but it was still enough. I was out for over an hour this AM, clearing the drive and walks one more time. And now it's snowing again.

One good thing about suburban living: the 'burbs send the snow plows through to clear the streets straightaway, when it snows. Since no one is allowed to park on city streets once more than 2 inches of snow have fallen, all the streets are passable within hours after the snow has falllen.

This is not as difficult on residents as it sounds, since most live in private homes with driveways and garages, and apartment-dwellers have surface or underground parking lots available where they can stow their cars. In fact, those living in apartments and condos have it even easier than those in private homes, since management hires plowing companies to keep the lots and entries clean.

By way of contrast, when it snows in either Minneapolis or Saint Paul, the city declares a Snow Emergency, upon which the already-designated main thoroughfares are cleared first, although the side streets can take up to another full day or two to be completely cleared.

Both Minneapolis and Saint Paul require that residents move their cars off the streets when the plows are to be sent through. Cars can be parked on odd-numbered side of the street for 12 hours, and then moved to the even-numbered side for the next 12 hours, allowing the plows to make multiple runs, and to clear the streets curb-to-curb. This creates great confusion for city residents, and results in hundreds of cars being towed to the local impound lots.

Most city homes do have garages, although unlike those in the suburbs, most can only accommodate but one car. Of course, there are thousands of apartment dwellers in both cities who simply have nowhere to park but on the streets. When I was living in Minneapolis, it was a major ordeal to not only dig my car out from a major snow storm, but to stay one step ahead of the plows. (It was even worse when for a short time I owned two cars.)

But there's a downside to suburban living, though: when it snows, the 'burb plows come through and push all the white stuff to the sides of the streets. As can be imagined, they are unable to avoid depositing a huge accumulation of snow into the entrance of each driveway they pass, which can amount to twice the height of the actual snowfall, and can extend up to 10 feet into the driveway. What's more, it is usually much more heavily compacted than what is otherwise left to be cleared.

It's not that big a deal if one has a large and powerful snow blower, but unfortunately ours is relatively puny, and is utterly incapable of tackling that amount of snow. I'm usually left to shovel by hand the stuff that the plows deposit, but fortunately my neighbor was out with his huge two-stage monster machine, took pity, and offered to make short work of it for me. Sure enough, in 5 minutes he had cleared what would have taken me at least 20 back-breaking minutes to shovel. (My wrist and hip have been bothering me alot, and my neighbor's generosity spared me further injury to either.)

It's strange. Right now the falling snow outside gives the appearance one of those shake-up snow globes, all fluffy white and peaceful-looking. But it's only lovely if one doesn't have to shovel it, and in the right (or wrong) circumstances, it can be downright dangerous. In a sense, snow is bit like a tropical rain forest: it's lovely to look at, but for those in the middle of it, there's a constant struggle to survive, and a wrong step can be deadly. One can enjoy the beauty of it all, but it's also imperative to respect nature.

Anyway, it's a bit cheeky of me to complain too much, because it's only the second snowfall this season that has made it worth running the snow blower, and besides, the snow is good for skiing and tourism. The melt-off is a great source of moisture in the Spring, and farmers depend on it to help leave the ground ready for planting. In the end, it's not that bad, and soon enough it will be Spring.


+++++


On a completely different topic, a co-worker's daughter just submitted her Master's Thesis to the London School of Economics on the topic of social networking systems on the internet and their impact on the music industry, focusing primarily on Myspace. I made an offhand comment to my co-worker to the effect that the subject is one that interests me, so I was sent a copy of said thesis and - after a cursory glance - I'm girding up my loins to wade through the whole of in the next few days.

I must say, Myspace a bit of a foreign land to me. Together with Second Life, Orkut, IRC and the various File Sharing networks, it's something I've just never been inspired to pursue. I'm familiar with Myspace, I've visited many pages, but I can't seem to bring myself to stake a claim there. Obviously I'm a blogger and I have been online for years, but I'm a loner in real life and have tended to stay away from interactive niches on the Web.

That said, all the systems mentioned above have been hugely successful at bringing people in contact with each other. Of course they all share the possibility of abuse, but in and of itself the technology in question is fairly benign. I think the portrayal in the media of Myspace as a haven for predators has some truth to it, but considering there are 60+ million registered users, it hardly seems unlikely that there might be some bad apples there. I can't imagine it's any worse than AOL was in its heyday.

Much has been made of Myspace's influence in connecting musicians and fans, but I read an interview recently with the pouty young Lily Allen who made great effort to debunk the popular notion that her Myspace presence was instrumental in making her famous. I read another with one of the Arctic Monkeys that said essentially the same. Of course, they are both too coy, by half. Any method of brining hard-core fans of an artist into contact with each other is going to have a big impact on how that artist develops. It can't help but be so.

Thing is, this is nothing really new. Radio and TV allowed fans a sense of connectedness, and the fanzine movement of the 80's allowed cash-strapped amateurs to propagate their views and opinions on bands and music styles to like-minded readers.

Full disclosure: I was one of them. I published a small 'zine from 1985 to 1990, putting out a mere dozen isssues, with readers as far away as the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Australia. I might only distribute one or two hundred copies of each issue, but they were read by rabid fans. Independent artists were keenly aware of this, and - being eager to exploit any media to their advantage - would happily make promos and interviews available to us. Even some of the bigger artists of the day like U2, The Alarm and even Neil Young were willing to extend press pass privileges at their events to small 'zine publishers like me, hoping to both curry and ride a wave of enthusiasm for their music.

The big difference between the 'zines of the 80's and today's blogs is that the blogosphere is, by design, interactive. A band can put up a Myspace page and have hundreds of 'friends,' each of whom posts comments and, presumably, tells their friends of their newest favorite band. Band members may or may not be able to answer each comment personally, but they can create sense of community that in the past took a great deal more effort to achieve. (Think: Phish, The Greatful Dead and the Dave Mathhews Band, as examples.) With clips of tunes and videos available online, it becomes easy for small incremental increases in exposure to quickly escalate to huge numbers. It's good for artists, and great fun for fans.

Even though I am agnostic about the whole Myspace thing - and don't have a presence there - my only real objection to it is the appearance of the pages of most users. It's possible to trick out a Myspace page with a great layout, and content, but all too many pages have the design appeal of some of the early Geocities monstrosities. (Remember the dancing teddy bears, and blinking icons?) Myspace makes it easy to set up a web page and/or blog, but the downside that it's also altogether too easy to set up something garish and tacky.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to reading my friend's daughter's thesis, but I just hope it's more readable than so many of the Myspace sites I've had the displeasure of visiting.

+++++


BTW, as I mentioned earlier, my wrist is bothering me, possibly aggravated by my snow removal escapades of the last 24 hours, so I'm going to wrap this post, but if I'm up for it, I'll try to start making some American Idol posts sometime early this coming week. Shalom.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Ramblin'


The long-awaited Biggest-Snowfall-Of-The-Season has finally arrived. In these Apocalyptic Days, Minnesota Winters have often been anemic things, nothing like the bitter cold and heavy snow old-timers remember, and brag of having survived. It is true that things have changed: in my 30-plus years as a resident of the Gopher State, I've seen the start of the season pushed back by over a month, well into December, with snowfalls that measure in inches, rather than feet.

In any case, it's the end of February, and we're finally getting some snow. We are forecast to get up to a foot of the cold white stuff between today and tomorrow, or at least so my kids are hoping. I already ran the snow-blower once this evening, and will probably have to run it again a couple of times before all this is over.

(Strange: it's a near-blizzard outside right now, with snow coming down fast and furious, but I just saw a flash of lightning, and heard a clap of thunder.)

You know, I am amazed that the Native Americans and early Europeans could even survive in such climes. I have the benefit of indoor heating, and relatively efficient snow removal equipment at my disposal. I have seen the surviving cabins and teepees they lived in, and I glad it was them, and not me.

I'm on Daddy Duty again this weekend, except this is a slightly-out-of-ordinary one, given that Mrs. Muzzy isn't working, but is, in fact, just down the road at an area hotel, attending a convention-gathering of fellow scrap-bookers, all sponsored by a local scrap-booking retail outlet. She will be working on the various photo albums she's been assembling over the past few years.

It's been Mrs. Muzzy's goal to put together a series of album-scrapbooks for each of the girls, chronicling their lives from birth to presumably whenever they leave the nest, and possibly beyond. Like so many other post-modern fellow scrap-bookers, she is not content to merely slap photos onto pages, but adds color and legends to it all.

I must say, she does a good job, but life being what it is, she isn't able set aside unbroken hours for such projects, and merely pokes at them as time permits. is usually working on photos from several years back, She is always striving to catch up to the present. The purpose for the retreat, then, is to get as much done on the project as possible in a couple short days, all in the company of like-minded folk. My part in the process is the supervision of the wee ones, and I have no reason to complain. I love spending time with my girls, and find them delightful, even when they leave me a wee bit batty.

After the girls had gone to sleep, I spent some time watching a film I checked out of the local library, a lovely Brazilian movie called 'Central Station.' I won't spoil the plot for the teeming dozens who read this blog - in case they haven't seen it - but I found it absolutely wonderful. The story and script are well-written, the acting astonishingly good, and the cinematography is gorgeous. I most highly recommend it.

A couple of notes: the movie is in Portuguese - which I speak with complete fluency - but oddly enough, the version I watched had no way to turn off the English subtitles. That annoyed me. Also, I didn't know until after I'd watched the whole film that the little boy of the film had no acting experience when he took the role of Josue', that he'd been a shoe-shine boy. He's an amazing actor.

Well, I'm falling asleep, and so it's off to sleepy bye.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Friday Night Videos - Grab Bag




'Vertigo (Temple Bar Mix)'
U2

+++++




'Old Man River'
Frank Sinatra

+++++






'Sorrow'
Switchfoot


+++++




'Johnny B. Goode'
Chuck Berry

+++++




'My Monkey'
Jonathan Coulton

+++++




'Revelations'
Audioslave

+++++


Think Outside The Bum




Saturday, February 17, 2007

And Speaking Of Autism News...


From EurekAlert:



New research suggests oxytocin's potential for treatment of two core autism symptom domains

Study presented at ACNP Annual Meeting outlines effects on key symptoms


Nashville, TN, December 4, 2006 – Preliminary new research discussed today at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology's Annual Meeting finds that oxytocin, when administered using intravenous fluid and nasal technology may have significant positive effects on adult autism patients. The study, funded by the Seaver Foundation, examined the effects of oxytocin on repetitive behaviors and aspects of social cognition in adults with autism.

Investigators Eric Hollander, MD and Jennifer Bartz, PhD presented results of both intravenous and intranasal administration of oxytocin in high-functioning adult autism patients and discussed the implications of this research for the treatment of autism. Dr. Hollander is Chairman of Psychiatry and at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York, NY and Director of the Seaver and New York Autism Center of Excellence, one of eight NIH-funded (STAART) centers devoted to the study of autism. Dr. Bartz is a Post Doctoral Fellow at the Seaver Center at the Mt., Sinai School of Medicine.

"Studies with animals have found that oxytocin plays a role in a variety of behaviors, including parent-child and adult-to-adult pair bonding, social memory, social cognition, anxiety reduction and repetitive behaviors," explained Dr. Bartz. "However," adds Dr. Hollander, "we have only recently considered that administration of oxytocin can have behavioral effects. Autism is a particularly ripe neuropsychiatric disorder for studying this approach because it presents with the types of symptoms that have been found to be associated with the oxytocin system."



Read the rest here.

Autism News Makes News


From Google Press Center:



Google News - Top Searches in 2006

1. paris hilton
2. orlando bloom
3. cancer
4. podcasting
5. hurricane katrina
6. bankruptcy
7. martina hingis
8. autism
9. 2006 nfl draft
10. celebrity big brother 2006



But where's K-Fed?

Friday, February 16, 2007

Old School Games Online


From Classic Gaming:







Friday Night Videos - Great Target Ad




'Hello Goodbye'
Sophia Shorai

+++++


Autism News


From Science Daily:



Autism May Be More Prevelant Than Previous Estimates

February 8, 2007

Science Daily — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported findings today from the first and largest summary of prevalence data from multiple U.S. communities participating in an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) surveillance project. The results showed an average of 6.7 children out of 1,000 had an ASD in the six communities assessed in 2000, and an average of 6.6 children out of 1,000 having an ASD in the 14 communities included in the 2002 study. All children in the studies were eight years old because previous research has shown that most children with an ASD have been identified by this age for services.

For decades, the best estimate for the prevalence of autism was four to five per 10,000 children. More recent studies from multiple countries using current diagnostic criteria conducted with different methods have indicated that there is a range of ASD prevalence between 1 in 500 children and 1 in 166 children. The CDC studies provide information on the occurrence of ASDs in fourteen communities in the United States.



Read the rest here.

Friday Night Videos - Grab Bag




'Read My Mind' (official)
The Killers

+++++




'Read My Mind' (performance)
The Killers

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'Wolf Like Me'
TV On The Radio

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'Grace Kelly'
Mika

+++++




'How To Save A Life'
The Fray

+++++




'It's Not Over'
Daughtry

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'Window In The Skies'
U2

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Love Will Tear Us Apart (Again)




'Love Will Tear Us Apart'
Joy Division

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'Love Will Tear Us Apart'
New Order

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'Love Will Tear Us Apart'
Jose Gonzalez

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'Love Will Tear Us Apart'
Swans

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'Love Will Tear Us Apart'
Susanna and The Magical Orchestra

+++++




'Love Will Tear Us Apart'
Nouvelle Vague

+++++


Queen Of Denial


From Yahoo News:



Ancient coin dulls Cleopatra's beauty

By ROBERT BARR, Associated Press Writer

So maybe Mark Antony loved Cleopatra for her mind. That is the conclusion being drawn by academics at Britain's University of Newcastle from a Roman denarius coin which depicts the celebrated queen of Egypt as a sharp-nosed, thin-lipped woman with a protruding chin.

In short, a fair match for the hook-nosed, thick-necked Mark Antony on the other side of the coin, which went on public display Wednesday at the university's Shefton Museum.

"The image on the coin is far from being that of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton," said Lindsay Allason-Jones, director of archaeological museums at the university, recalling the 1963 film "Cleopatra", which ignited the tempestuous romance between the two stars.



Read the rest here.

Soon To Be A Major Motion Picture


From Live Science:



Ancient Lovers' Embrace Preserved

By The Associated Press

posted: 13 February 2007
10:11 am ET

ROME (AP) — Italy's recently discovered prehistoric couple will continue their 5,000-year-old embrace undisturbed through Valentine's Day and beyond.

The two skeletons unearthed last week locked in a deep hug will be scooped out of the earth in one piece to undergo tests before going on display in the northern Italian city of Mantua, archaeologists said Tuesday.

The pair, buried between 5,000 and 6,000 years ago in the late Neolithic period, are believed to be a man and a woman and are thought to have died young, because their teeth were found intact.

Archaeologists have hailed the find, saying that double burials from that period are rare and none have been found in such a touching pose.



Read the rest here.

Don't Sweat It


From AOL News:



Chemical in Men's Sweat Arouses Women

By Will Dunham
Reuters

WASHINGTON (Feb. 8) - For women, apparently there's nothing like the smell of a man's sweat.

Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley said women who sniffed a chemical found in male sweat experienced elevated levels of an important hormone, along with higher sexual arousal, faster heart rate and other effects.

They said the study, published this week in the Journal of Neuroscience, represents the first direct evidence that people secrete a scent that influences the hormones of the opposite sex.

The study focused on androstadienone, considered a male chemical signal. Previous research had established that a whiff of it affected women's mood, sexual and physiological arousal and brain activation. Its impact on hormones was less clear.



Read the rest here.

Worst Valentine's Day Gifts Ever




The Anti-Valentine


Get em here.

No Invite Needed


From New York Times:



Google E-Mail Service Ready for All

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

February 14, 2007
Filed at 1:26 a.m. ET

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Google Inc.'s free e-mail service will shed the final remnants of its invitation-only restrictions Wednesday, extending the reach of an increasingly popular product that has emerged as a vital cog in the online search leader's expansion efforts.

Invitations will no longer be required to join the nearly 3-year-old ''Gmail'' service in the United States, Canada, Mexico and a swath of Asian and South American countries where the Mountain View-based company previously limited the number of users.

With those restrictions now lifted, Gmail will be open to all comers worldwide for the first time since Google unveiled the service on April Fool's Day in 2004.

''It's a pretty momentous time for Gmail,'' said Keith Coleman, Google's product manager for the service.

Although it will no longer require invitations to sign up, Gmail is retaining its ''beta,'' or test, status, signaling that Google still considers the service to be a work in progress.

Making Gmail more widely available is important to Google because other key products like instant messaging and calendar management are tied into the e-mail service, company co-founder Sergey Brin said an interview. ''It has become a real cornerstone for us.''

Because Gmail users often remain logged into Google's Web site while they conduct online searches, the service also helps the company's engineers learn more about individual preferences -- knowledge that can help deliver more relevant search results and foster more loyalty.

The decision to lift all invitation requirements on Gmail signals Google finally believes it has adequate computing capacity to accommodate the generous amount of free storage provided by the e-mail service after investing heavily in additional data centers. Gmail offers each account at least 2.8 gigabytes of storage -- enough to fill about 1.4 million pages.



Read the rest here.

Funny Valentine



07.02.11.FunnyValent-X


Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

More On The Story From C&F


Monday, February 12, 2007

Found On The Web


Just In Time For Valentine's Day



The Truth Behind Personals Ads:

WOMEN

Athletic - flat chested
Commitment-minded - start choosing curtains
Communicative - just try to get a word in
Emotionally secure - on medication
Employed - has job stuffing envelopes at home
Exotic beauty - would frighten a Martian
Fortyish - 48
Fun - annoying
Light drinker - lush
Loves travel - you're paying!
Non-traditional - ex-husband lives in the basement
Open minded - desperate
Poet - depressive schizoid
Rubenesque - grossly fat
Stunning - not so much
Romantic - looks better in candle light
Spiritual - involved in a cult
Wants soulmate - one step away from stalker
Young at heart - toothless crone

MEN

Athletic - watches football
Average looking - Unusual hair growth
Distinguished looking - fat and grey
Educated - will treat you like the idiot you are
Fortyish - 52, wants 25 year old
Likes to cuddle - impotent
Good looking - arrogant jerk
Honest - pathological liar
Huggable - overweight with more body hair than Chewbacca
Light drinker - pisshead
Looks younger - in a bad light
Open minded - wants to shag your sister but she is refusing
Outgoing - loud
Poet - wrote a limerick in the crapper
Professional - owns a suit
Sensitive - in the closet
Spiritual - had to go to church to get christened
Stable - stalker (occasionally)



Sounds about right.

Yummy!


From White Castle:



Make your Valentine’s day STEAMY! Take your Valentine to White Castle on Wednesday, February 14 between 5 and 8 p.m. and enjoy hostess seating, candlelit dining and your own server. Reservations are required, so check the list below for participating Castles near you!

Special this year, you can also treat your honey to a romantic White Castle dinner in your home! Cupid’s Crave Kits include eight cheeseburgers, one sack of fries, two regular soft drinks, coupons and keepsake items to heat up your homespun romance. Now, ain’t that sweet?

For more information or to make a Cupid’s Crave Kit reservation, call the phone number listed for the your city of choice below.*

* Cupid’s Crave Kits are not available at all locations. Reservations are required.



Get yer sliders here.

Music Monday


From Internet Cello Society:



The Internet Cello Society, an international cyber-community of cellists, seeks to advance the knowledge and joy of cello playing around the world. We welcome cello enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels. We currently have over 15100 members representing 84 different countries of the world.



Download their work free here.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Weekend Wrap Up


On Thursday evening after work I walked the couple of miles from my place of employment over to Hennepin Avenue and across the suspension bridge in the bitter cold. I met up with a friend CA at Keegan's Irish Pub to play trivia, and to hoist a pint of something. I must confess, for someone who doesn't go out often, it was the second week in a row that I'd made it to Keegan's.

Food? Well, since you asked: I had the Shepherd's Pie for dinner last week, but this week I decided to live dangerously and try something new, so I had, from their menu: 'St. James Gate РSlow-roasted and thinly sliced roast beef on a grilled ciabatta bun, with saut̩ed onions and mushrooms. Topped with melted Havarti cheese. Served with chips.'

It was good food, and an enjoyable evening.

Friday was a work day for me, but I managed to get to AE's school carnival by early evening. It's quite a production, and raises money of the PTA, which can then provide assistance to the classrooms that lack various basics like pencils, paper, that sort of thing. The carnival was well-attended, and the kids had a great time.

Saturday AM I managed to sleep in just a bit. The whole family went out to late breakfast at the Old Country Buffet. The prices are a bit more expensive than eating Fast Food, but the variety of options is amazing, and by the time we were finished, I was too full to even consider eating lunch. (Had fried eggs, sausage, ham, english muffins, waldorf salad, fruit salad, various beverages. It was a full meal.)

After Brunch, I took LK with me and went to Walmart to pick up some things for Valentines Day. And in the PM I took AE to the downtown Target for a little Valentine's Day shopping of her own, and then walked around the Skyway with her for a bit. Saturday evening was spent at my sister in law's for a birthday dinner.

Today (Sunday) was a rather nice day, with nearly 30 sunny degrees outdoors. Did Church in the AM, and after lunch took advantage of the weather and went for a long walk, which unfortunately aggravated a an old hip injury. I've spent the evening hibernating on a heating pad, trying to ease the pain, but it hasn't really worked.

Well, at least that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Remember What?


From Forbes:



Loneliness Could Boost Alzheimer's Risk

02.06.07, 12:00 AM ET

TUESDAY, Feb. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Being lonely may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease later in life, new research suggests.

Researchers at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago assessed loneliness and dementia in 823 people, averaging almost 81 years of age, for up to four years. At the start of the study, the participants' overall average loneliness score was 2.3 on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 5.

Seventy-six people developed Alzheimer's disease during the course of the study, which is published in the February issue of the journal Archives of General Psychiatry.

According to the researchers, each point of increase on the loneliness score was associated with about a 51 percent increased risk of developing Alzheimer's.

This would mean that a person with a high loneliness score (3.2) would be about 2.1 times more likely to develop Alzheimer's than someone with a low score (1.4), they said.



Read the rest here.

Flying High


From World Net Daily:



Lovesick NASA astronaut 'tries to kidnap colleague'

Woman who pined for pilot allegedly stalks fellow aviator, faces attempted-murder charge

Posted: February 6, 2007
5:50 p.m. Eastern

© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com

ORLANDO, Fla. – It seems almost out of this world, but a lovesick NASA astronaut allegedly attacked a fellow female space traveler over the attention of another male astronaut.

Now, Lisa Marie Nowak, a mission specialist on a Discovery launch last summer, will be charged with attempted murder in addition to attempted kidnapping, battery, attempted vehicle burglary with battery and destruction of evidence.

Orlando police are in the process of adding the more serious charge that Nowak, 43, tried to kill the woman, according to Orange County jail spokesman Allen Moore.

Nowak was reportedly released after posting $25,000 bail late this afternoon.

Early yesterday, Nowak reportedly was wearing a trench coat and wig as she carried a knife, brand new steel mallet, BB pistol, rubber tubing, plastic bags, black gloves and $600 in cash at Orlando International Airport.

She drove from Texas to meet the 1 a.m. flight of a younger woman who had also been seeing Bill Oefelein, the astronaut Nowak had feelings for.

Police reports indicate that once Air Force Capt. Colleen Shipman arrived, Nowak followed her to long-term parking, tried to get into Shipman's car and doused her with pepper spray.



Read the rest here.

Unresponsive



07.02.04.Unresponsive-X


Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

More On The Story From C&F


Sunday, February 04, 2007

Who's Your Daddy?


Go Daddy Superbowl commercial(s)? You either love 'em or hate 'em. Whatever your take, find them all here.

(Watch all the Superbowl commercials here.)

Gold Diggers


From AOL News:



Gold Rush Tears Up a Patch of the Amazon

By MICHAEL ASTOR

AP
Updated:2007-02-03 22:20:46

ELDORADO DO JUMA, Brazil (Feb. 3) - It's a gold rush in the Amazon jungle, driven by the Internet.

Speeding past unbroken walls of foliage, a motorboat packed with gritty prospectors veers toward the shore of the Juma river and spills its passengers into a city of black plastic lean-tos veiled by greasy smoke.

All around them are newly dug pits, felled trees, misery and tales of striking it rich.

This is Eldorado do Juma, scene of Brazil's biggest gold rush in more than 20 years.

Drawn by a Brazilian math teacher's Web site descriptions of miners scooping up thousands of dollars in gold, between 3,000 and 10,000 people have poured in since December, cutting down huge trees, diverting streams and digging ever-deeper wildcat mines, in an area that only months ago was pristine rain forest.

Hundreds of mud-covered men with picks and shovels hack at the earth, marking their tiny plots with tree branches and string. Others feed dirt into wooden troughs and the residue into pans. A lucky few will end up with tiny nuggets and flakes of gold to sell for $530 an ounce in the town of Apui, about 50 miles north.

Even the cooks, cleaners and porters serving the industry are making about six times the minimum wage.

It's reminiscent of Serra Pelada, a mountain that became a gargantuan hole in the jungle floor after a gold rush in the early 1980s, immortalized in Sebastiao Salgado's photos of what looked like a hellish human anthill.

"This is even better than Serra Pelada. I've been mining all around the Amazon since 1978 and this is the best I've ever seen," said Joao Leandro de Azedo, 70, overlooking his stake from a hammock.

Azedo said he has panned some 70 ounces of gold worth a total of $19,000 since arriving 17 days ago, including 17 ounces in a single day.



Read the rest here.

Weekend Ramble


It's been a distressingly cold weekend, and hasn't gotten above zero (that's Fahrenheit, since you asked) for the past two days, and in fact, last night it was down to minus double-digits. I'm telling you, our fine state isn't called Mini-so-cold for nothing. There are those individuals and business that thrive in such climes, but I just find the cold oppressive, and downright dangerous. Indeed, a couple of minutes of exposure to this kind kind of weather can lead to frostbite, and worse. In any case, the bitter cold makes me depressed and agitated - exacerbated by aches and pains in my right wrist and left hip - and I am eagerly looking forward to the first signs of Spring in the coming weeks.

I took the girls out for breakfast yesterday and intended to go out On Adventures, but just headed back home: at 11 AM it was minus 11 degrees, and the wind was whipping around something fierce, and I felt nearly-frozen just walking from the restaurant to the car. Thing is, even if one doesn't intend to be out in the elements, if the car should break down, a hike of even a block or two can be disastrous, when there are little ones involved.

Anyway, since Mrs. Muzzy was working yesterday, AE, LK and I just hung out all day, reading, watching videos, sitting by the fire. We did make it to church today, although we didn't go out to dinner, we went thru the Arby's drive thru for takeout for lunch. This afternoon I've just been chilling - quite literally.

I guess it's not the worst thing, is it?


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Oh yeah, I saw something last week that I don't think I've ever seen in Minnesota: an icebow. I was driving into work from my physical therapy appointment on Friday when I sad the most amazing sight in the sky: a rainbow circling the sun, or as Wikipedia explains:



An icebow, also known as a halo, is phenomenon similar to a rainbow except that it is formed by the refraction of sunlight through cloud suspended ice crystals as opposed to raindrops or other liquid water suspended in the air. Generally the appearance is as arc sections as opposed to a full circle. Brighter sections usually occur above, below, and lateral to the center (where the sun is visible). These bright areas are referred to as "sun dogs," "parhelia" (plural), or mock suns because of their bright appearance and possible confusion with the actual location of the sun. Those icebows that are caused by very small ice crystals are one color, because diffraction blurs the colors together. A 22 degree icebow has red on the inside and blue on the outside.



Here's a view of what I saw, stitched together out of two separate photos I took:







Pretty cool, eh?

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Every so often we hear a rash of stories on the news about the possibility of a Bird Flu epidemic, with projections of the numbers of dead. But with the possibility of such an outbreak still somewhat remote, it was shock to read this tragic hometown story this past week, as reported in the La Crosse Tribune:



Spike in flu shot interest after 8-year-old’s death

By The Associated Press
Published - Saturday, February 03, 2007
.
ST. PAUL — The death of an 8-year-old boy from flu complications has caused a surge of interest in flu shots.

Health officials organized a special one-day vaccination clinic for Saturday in St. Paul to accommodate demand, which spiked this week after the death of Lucio Satar of St. Paul.

The state Health Department took about 100 calls, and Children’s Hospitals in Minneapolis and St. Paul each reported about 50 inquiries, said Patsy Stinchfield, a pediatric nurse practitioner who leads the Minnesota Immunization Practices Advisory Committee.

Saturday’s clinic was scheduled for Children’s in St. Paul.

Lucio was healthy before he began feeling sick Jan. 24. He died Wednesday of pneumonia, a complication from the flu.

Nationally, about 100 children die every year from flu complications, Stinchfield said.



Of course having 2 young ones in my home gives me pause when I hear such news, but it occurred to me just how relatively rare such stories are in modern times. Wandering the cemeteries of the Twin Cities offers glimpses of a world in which child mortality was quite high, nearly 25% in 1910. Thing is, those terrible days could return, but I don't know how we'd cope. I think we moderns are psychologically unprepared to deal with such a catastrophe.

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In related news, there were confirmed outbreaks this past week of H5N1 (the Bird Flu virus) in the poultry populations of both the United Kingdom and Japan.

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Superbowl 52 is being played between the Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts as I type this. I must say, I'm hard-pressed to give a hoot in Hades, but even so, I've got the game tuned to the Big Game, anyways. Well, I'm not really watching it, and I'll probably turn it off until halftime, when the-artist-known-again-as-Prince is scheduled to appear. It's a tradition for American advertisers to unveil their best commercials of the year during the halftime of the Superbowl, which is one more reason to tune back in then. Of course, the ads will probably all be on YouTube before the evening is out, so I'll try to link to them later in the week.

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I am a Mac loyalist. I use PeeCee's at work, but when I get home, I use a Mac. And honestly, while XP is a decent OS, I don't understand why anyone would want to use it, if they didn't have to. There was a time when Macs were more expensive, but that's no longer the case. Even the old saw that one *has* to have Windoze for some work-related purpose doesn't really cut it anymore, since the new Intel-based Macs can run Windows at native speeds using Parallels. Aside from the fact that at its core the Mac OS is rock-solid Unix-based computing, it's just cooler, and better-looking. Can you honestly say that Vista is anything more than a poor imitation of the Mac OS? Anyone? Bueller?

OK, I admit, I'm biased. I purchased my first Mac nearly 20 years ago, and have owned 8 of them since, starting with a Mac Plus that set me back $1800 for a bare-bones model, with 1 meg of RAM and no hard drive. I spent another couple 1000 dollars more to outfit that computer with a drive, printer, modem, and more RAM. I am now using an iBook G4 laptop, running OS 10.3.9 and connecting to the net on a home WIFI net, listening to streaming audio from one of the 100's of free iTunes radio stations. Pretty cool.

Of course, in inflation-adjusted dollars, the machine I'm using cost alot less than my first Mac Plus, and does so much more, but I still remember the sense of wonder I had the first time I sat down in front of one of the original 128K Macs and actually managed to interact with it. Yes, my current machine is much more useful, but who doesn't think fondly of his First True Love, at least once in a while?

So, just in case I get nostalgic for the Good Old Days, I can launch my Mac Plus Mini vMac emulator - which has a version that will even run on the new Core Duo Macs - and marvel at splendor that was the Mac Plus. I can even play classic B&W games like Shuffepuck Cafe. Yes, a Windows XP or Vista user could run an emulator that allows them to use Window 3.1 in a window, but who would want to?

So, go on, get your Old Computer jones at Old-Computers.com. See you there.

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Speaking of streaming audio, as I mentioned earlier, I'm right now listening to one of the 100's of radio stations available thru iTunes. There appear to be many more stations available than on AOL's radio service, and it all seems more stable. I haven't one experienced a dropped the connection this PM. Unfortunately, it's not as well-organized as AOL's system, and increased quantity doesn't necessarily mean increased quality.

Still, the fact that both services are utterly free offers me the option of listening to music that I would not otherwise have easy access to, especially foreign language music stations. My only complaints have to do with how haphazard the content is, and the fact that it's so hard to find decent stations.

More from Wikipedia:

AOL Radio and iTunes Radio.

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Anyway, it's Sunday night, and that means we eat popcorn for supper. It was a tradition started (I think) by my maternal Grandmother, and my girls insist on it. So I'm off to pop some corn. Cheers.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Found On The Web




Doin' The Locomotion


From News.com.au:



Kylie tells French love rat 'it's over'

By Jonathan Moran, Peta Hellard and Peter Holmes

February 04, 2007 12:00am
Article from: The Sunday Telegraph

AFTER persistent and humiliating rumours of infidelity, Kylie Minogue has finally dumped her French Lothario, Olivier Martinez.

The 38-year-old singer, who recently declared Martinez was "the most honourable man I have ever met", issued a joint statement with him confirming they had split after four years together.

"Olivier Martinez and Kylie Minogue have officially confirmed they are no longer a couple," their management said.

"They have made it clear the decision to go their separate ways was mutual and amicable.

"The media's false accusations of disloyalty have saddened them both. The two remain very close friends. No further comments will be made."



Read the rest here.

Great Against Vampires, Too


From Science Daily:



Garlic Hope In Infection Fight

February 1, 2007

Science Daily — Garlic has been hailed a wonder drug for centuries and has been used to prevent gangrene, treat high blood pressure, ward off common colds and is even believed by some to have cancer-fighting properties.

Now, scientists at The University of Nottingham are leading a new pilot study to see if the pungent bulb could also hold the key to preventing cystic fibrosis patients from falling foul of a potentially-fatal infection.

The research will look at whether taking garlic capsules can disrupt the communication system of the pathogen Pseudomonas to prevent illness from taking hold.

The project will unite University experts in child health, respiratory medicine and molecular microbiology with clinicians at the Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited condition that affects around 7,000 people in the UK, half of whom are children. The disease causes difficulties in digesting food and children may be slow to put on weight and grow properly. Both children and adults with the condition are vulnerable to repeated and chronic chest infections which damage the lungs and which may, ultimately, be fatal



Read the rest here.

Encouraging Cancer News


From Globe and Mail:



B.C. researchers find cancer-killing 'decoy'

VANCOUVER -- When Dr. Marianne Sadar made a career decision 12 years ago to "go after cancer," her greatest hope was that one day she'd make a breakthrough in the fight against the dreaded disease.

Yesterday, in her laboratory at the British Columbia Cancer Agency, Dr. Sadar explained how a research team she led has done just that -- coming up with a way to kill prostate cancer cells by using a "decoy molecule" that interrupts a key step in cancer growth.

The research could soon lead to the creation of a drug to treat patients at advanced stages of prostate cancer where no effective therapy is now available.

Prostate cancer, which afflicts one in seven men in Canada, or about 21,000 nationally this year, is easily treated if caught early. But if the cancer has moved to an advanced stage, the disease progression can only be slowed, not stopped, even when the prostate gland is surgically removed and aggressive radiation treatment is used.

The growth of prostate tumours is initially fuelled by testosterone, an androgen. In advanced cases, however, the tumour, for unknown reasons, continues to grow even without the presence of androgen. This is known as the androgen-independent stage, and once patients are at that level they usually have only a few years to live.

Dr. Sadar's research was aimed at finding out how the cancer grows without androgen. In the process, the researchers identified a key role played by androgen receptors, which are activated by an agent that scientists haven't yet identified.

Even without knowing what that mysterious agent is, Dr. Sadar's team was able to create "decoy molecules" that can be used to overwhelm the process that triggers the androgen reception.

"We've been the first ones to do this. We've created the decoys. We've showed that it works, that you can really keep the tumours in check," Dr. Sadar said.



Read the rest here.

Napster 2.0?


From Telegraph UK:



YouTube videos removed in piracy row

By Dominic White
Communication Industries Editor

Last Updated: 12:34am GMT 04/02/2007

YouTube viewers will no longer be able to watch free clips from MTV, Nickelodeon or Paramount Pictures' productions after Viacom, the US media giant, demanded that all of its content be stripped from the website.

Viacom said that 100,000 clips of shows and movies owned by its companies had been copied at home by YouTube users and put on to the site without its approval.

The videos have already been viewed on the website 1.2 billion times, it said. They range from music videos on MTV and clips from the Shrek movie series, to footage of Miss Oklahoma being crowned Miss America 2007 on Viacom's country music channel.

Viacom made the demand after the collapse of talks that would have led to the company approving use of the clips in return for a share in YouTube's advertising revenues.



Read the rest here.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Friday Night Videos - Little Birdy Edition




'Tonight's The Night'
Little Birdy

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'Beautiful To Me'
Little Birdy

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'Bodies'
Little Birdy

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'Come On, Come On'
Little Birdy

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'This Is A Love Song'
Little Birdy

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'Excited'
Little Birdy

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Rinse Repeat




The Cowbell Project


Let them tell it:



Guitar, Bass, Drums, Keys. The foundation of rock music. Occasionally strings are used to give a lush, orchestral feel. But we all know when a song needs that extra oomph, that extra push over the top, there's only one thing that will satisfy: The Cowbell.



Read the rest here

Land Of Ten Thousand Rashes


From Yahoo News:



Herpes outbreak triggers wrestling ban in Minnesota

By Andrew SternThu Feb 1, 9:46 AM ET

An outbreak of a contagious rash called herpes gladiatorum among Minnesota high school wrestlers led the state to suspend matches and halt contact practices, authorities said on Wednesday.

The eight-day suspension affecting 7,500 wrestlers on 262 teams was the first time a U.S. state's entire high school program in a sport has been shut down, authorities said.

The Minnesota State High School League acted after 24 wrestlers from 10 schools contracted the rash, which was first noticed and spread at a tournament in December.

"I think it's a bold step by our high school league to protect our athletes -- and it's better now than at post-season tournament time," said Scot Davis, the wrestling coach at Owatonna Senior High School, whose wrestling program has one of the best records in the country.



Read the rest here.

Viacom Demands Video Removal From YouTube


From PC World



Google told to remove over 100,000 Viacom clips from YouTube.

Juan Carlos Perez, IDG News Service
Friday, February 02, 2007 02:00 PM PST

Media conglomerate Viacom International today upbraided YouTube for continuing to host throngs of Viacom videos without permission and demanded that over 100,000 of its clips be removed from the popular video-sharing site owned by Google.

Viacom, whose properties include Comedy Central, MTV, Nick at Nite, Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures, and VH1, ran out of patience after months of discussions with Google and YouTube, the company said in a statement.

This could mean the end of second-day looks at comedy clips from The Colbert Report and The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.

"It has become clear that YouTube is unwilling to come to a fair market agreement that would make Viacom content available to YouTube users," the statement reads.



Read the rest here.

Total Rewind


Home Video Online Museum: Total Rewind

Top US Jobs, With Average Salaries


From Money Magazine:



01 Software engineer - $80,427
02 College professor - $81,491
03 Financial advisor - $122,462
04 Human resources manager - $73,731
05 Physician assistant - $75,117
06 Market research analyst - $82,317
07 Computer/IT analyst - $83,427
08 Real estate appraiser - $66,216
09 Pharmacist - $91,998
10 Psychologist - $66,359



Read the rest here.

Un Memoriam



07.02.01.UnMemoriam-X


Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

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