Saturday, March 31, 2007

You've Been Warned

From Ugly Dress:

Welcome to, the archive of the world's worst Bridesmaids dresses. Contained within are photographic proof of some of the dresses that our friends, the brides, have made us wear so that they could look good.

At first, this site started from my own personal experiences but now ugly dresses for bridesmaids, weddings, and proms have come from all over. This site has truly become the ugly dress archive.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Friday Night Videos - Grab Bag

TV On The Radio


'What A Wonderful World'
Louis Armstrong


'Wake Up'
David Bowie and The Arcade Fire


'Mozart's Rondo' (from Seranade No. 7 K250)'
Jascha Heifetz


'Teardrops On My Guitar'
Taylor Swift


'Imitation Of Life'


Why You're Not Rich

From Yahoo News:

10 Reasons You Aren't Rich

Thursday March 22, 11:30 am ET
By Jeffrey Strain, Special to

The reason why you aren't a millionaire (or on your way to becoming one) is really quite simple. You probably assume it's because you aren't earning enough money, but the truth is that for most people, whether or not you become a millionaire has very little to do with the amount of money you make. It's the way that you treat money in your daily life.

Here are 10 possible reasons you aren't a millionaire:

1. You Care What Your Neighbors Think: If you're competing against them and their material possessions, you're wasting your hard-earned money on toys to impress them instead of building your wealth.

2. You Aren't Patient: Until the era of credit cards, it was difficult to spend more than you had. That is not the case today. If you have credit card debt because you couldn't wait until you had enough money to purchase something in cash, you are making others wealthy while keeping yourself in debt.

Read the rest here.

The Strange Tale of Cory Kennedy

From Wikipedia:

Cory Kennedy (born February 21, 1990, full name Cory Kennedy-Levin) is an American Internet celebrity who became an international style phenomenon in 2006. Labeled an "Internet It girl" by[1] and a "club urchin" by LA Weekly[2], her MySpace page has garnered over 5,000 "friends". She was able to parlay her minor celebrity into a career as a fashion model, all before her parents were even aware of what was going on.

Kennedy met photographer Mark Hunter (who goes by the alias "The Cobrasnake") at a Blood Brothers concert at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles, California in the summer of 2005. He took some photographs of her for his web site and they exchanged phone numbers. In January 2006 Kennedy began an internship at his office, a requirement from her high school for graduation.[3] Hunter's web site featured photos of celebrities at various parties and he began bringing Kennedy and her friend Maggy Rogow, who was also interning at Hunter's office. Hunter and Kennedy also began dating, with the approval of her parents, Barry Levin and Jinx Kennedy.

Read the rest here.

Daily Lit

From Daily Lit:

Why read books by email?

Because if you are like us, you spend hours each day reading email but don't find the time to read books. DailyLit brings books right into your inbox in convenient small messages that take less than 5 minutes to read. This works incredibly well not just on your computer but also on a Treo, Blackberry, Sidekick or whatever the PDA of your choice. In the words of Dr. Seuss: Try it, you might like it! (Oops -- it would appear that the actual quote from Green Eggs and Ham is "You do not like them. So you say. Try them! Try them! And you may.")

How long does it take to read a book?

That depends on three factors. First, on how many parts are in the book (shown when you browse for books). Second, on how frequently you choose to receive emails. Third, on how often you read more than one part (by using the "send me the next part immediately" feature). So here is a typical example. I am currently reading Dracula, which has 187 parts and I am receiving parts on weekdays, i.e. 5 days/week. So at most it will take me 187/5 = 37 weeks. But when I am on the train or waiting, I often read more than one part, so I usually wind up reading about 10 parts/week. This means I will finish Dracula in about 19 weeks or 5 months. If that seems long to you, try something shorter!

Sounds great, how do I get started?

All you need to do is pick a book (browse the collection or use the search box), select how often and when you want to receive messages, and provide your email address. Click on the big Subscribe button. DailyLit does the rest.

Read the rest here.

We're Number Two

From Morgan Quitno:

(I'll give you a hint: Minnesota was the second Healthiest, The second Most Livable, an the 32nd Most Dangerous, of all the fifty states.)

Edgar Allen Poo (Or 'Get A Mac')

From Annoyances:

Once upon a midnight dreary, fingers cramped and vision bleary,
System manuals piled high and wasted paper on the floor,
Longing for the warmth of bed sheets, still I sat there doing spreadsheets.
Having reached the bottom line I took a floppy from the drawer,
I then invoked the SAVE command and waited for the disk to store,
Only this and nothing more.

Deep into the monitor peering, long I sat there wond'ring, fearing,
Doubting, while the disk kept churning, turning yet to churn some more.
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token.
"Save!" I said, "You cursed mother! Save my data from before!"
One thing did the phosphors answer, only this and nothing more,
Just, "Abort, Retry, Ignore?"

Was this some occult illusion, some maniacal intrusion?
These were choices undesired, ones I'd never faced before.
Carefully I weighed the choices as the disk made impish noises.
The cursor flashed, insistent, waiting, baiting me to type some more.
Clearly I must press a key, choosing one and nothing more,
From "Abort, Retry, Ignore?"

Read the rest here.

The Idol You Love To Hate

'Bathwater' (On American Idol - March 27, 2007)
Sanjaya Malakar

From Wikipedia:

"On March 19, 2007, Howard Stern announced that he was launching a campaign with his listeners to vote for Malakar to win the competition. Some Stern regulars, such as Jeff The Drunk, have claimed to have voted for Malakar at least 300 times. The weblog Vote for the Worst has Malakar as its current "pick" for the sixth season top 12 after previous candidates Antonella Barba and Sundance Head were eliminated."

How To Attend A Meeting

From Enjoy The Music:

(by Dave Barry)

To really succeed in a business or organization, it is sometimes helpful to know what your job is, and whether it involves any duties. Ask among your coworkers. "Hi," you should say. "I'm a new employee. What is the name of my job?" If they answer "long-range planner" or "lieutenant governor," you are pretty much free to lounge around and do crossword puzzles until retirement. Most jobs, however, will require some work. There are two major kinds of work in modern organizations: 1. Taking phone messages for people who are in meetings, and, 2. Going to meetings. Your ultimate career strategy will be to get a job involving primarily No.2, going to meetings, as soon as possible, because that's where the real prestige is. It is all very well and good to be able to take phone messages, but you are never going to get a position of power, a position where you can cost thousands of people their jobs with a single bonehead decision, unless you learn how to attend meetings.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Music Monday - Happy Birthday Sir Reg

'Tiny Dancer'
Elton John


'Honky Cat'
Elton John


'Rocket Man'
Elton John


Sunday, March 25, 2007


Not much going on this weekend. I haven't been feeling well - no big news there - and am still struggling with the grippe that gripped me last over the week past.

Anyway, after a Mac's breakfast, the whole family went to the Como Zoo on Saturday AM. We don't often get to do stuff like that, so it's nice when we can. There is a new Rain Forest exhibit at Como that is quite nice, and the Conservatory is always fun to walk thru. We are usually only there a short while, but yesterday we managed to spend a couple of hours enjoying the sights, and sounds and smells.

In the PM I took AE and LK On Adventures. All Winter long AE has been bugging me about wanting to go on a River Walk Adventure, so we headed down to the Mississippi to walk along Saint Anthony Main, and then across the Stone Arch Bridge.

I managed to find a parking spot not but a block from the bridge itself, which was nice, because nearly every other spot was being used. We fed the meter, and set out down the street, but we'd gone no more than a block when I saw a couple walking towards us, the woman waving in a friendly manner. I waved back, wondering why these strangers were being so cordial when I recognized them as my MIL's cousin JS and her husband.

They live in central Wisconsin, but it turns out that they had driven up to the Twin Cities on a whim, and were staying at a downtown hotel. They had tickets to see 'The Glass Managerie' at the Guthrie that night, and were just on a stroll of a lovely Minnesota Spring afternoon when they saw us walking in their direction. So they joined me and the girls for about a half hour as we walked down the wooden stairs to the river's edge, and later across the Stone Arch Bridge, where we said our goodbyes and parted company.

It was nice. I only see them about once each year at the Family Reunion in Central Wisconsin, and even though I am friendly with them, we are not that close. As I mentioned, they are family, but only related thru my MIL. Running into them unexpectedly - and hundreds of miles from where I would have normally seen them - was a very cool surprise.

As I was driving home I recalled my first meeting with JS, some fifteen years ago. She's politically very much a left-winger, I'm a libertarian/conservative. Both of us are smart, and not shy about expressing our opinions. I don't remember all the details, but just a minute or two after we were introduced she said something I found outrageous, which I guess I felt I simply *had* to counter with something she no doubt found equally bombastic. It was not a very pleasant conversation, and I recall coming away from that experience feeling disappointed in myself, that I couldn't have just kept my mouth shut.

Thing is, there is nothing to be gained from such verbal dustups. I can honestly say that I've never been convinced to change my mind on any strongly-held opinions by someone arguing with me, nor can I recall ever convincing anyone else. I'm not saying that there's no reason to ever express one's opinions, only that one should do so cautiously, without rancor or malice. Or in some cases, not at all.

In the end, if I'm correct about something, I should be able to rest in the calm assurance of the rightness of my viewpoint, rather than trying to beat someone else over the head with it. They are probably *not* going to be won over, and much more likely going to feel hurt and angry, leaving me with broken relationships and nothing to show for the bombast. And if there's the chance that they might be right, I should be willing to listen to their position. Of course, it's easier said than done, and it's a lesson that I'm still learning, day by day.

Fortunately I got to know JS much better over the years. She's a kind-hearted and good person, and I've have come to appreciate many things about her, as I want to think she has about me. I suspect we still disagree on most things political, but what of it? There are many other things we can talk about, and I very much enjoy chatting with her.

Anyway, it was delightfully serendipitous to run into JS and her husband yesterday, and I'm very glad we got to spend a pleasant half-hour together on our River Walk Adventure.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Friday Night Videos - Remembering Mark Heard

'Is It Any Wonder?'
Mark Heard


'Treasure Of A Broken Land'
Mark Heard


'Lonely Moon'
Mark Heard


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Found On The Web

Free Software

From Wikipedia:

Audacity is a free, open source, cross platform digital audio editor. The source code for Audacity is released under the GNU General Public License. The graphical user interface for the editor has been produced using the wxWidgets library.

Audacity was created by Dominic Mazzoni of Google, while he was a graduate student at Carnegie-Mellon University. Dominic Mazzoni is still the main developer and maintainer of Audacity, with help from many others around the world.

Audacity is extremely popular in the podcasting world due to its wide availability, multiplatform support, and the fact that it is free.

Some of Audacity's features include:

* Importing and exporting WAV, MP3 (via the LAME MP3 Encoder, downloaded separately), Ogg Vorbis, and other file formats
* Recording and playing sounds
* Editing via Cut, Copy, Paste (with unlimited Undo)
* Multi-track mixing
* Digital effects and effect plug-ins. Additional effects can be written with Nyquist
* Amplitude envelope editing
* Noise removal
* Support for multichannel modes with sampling rates up to 100 kHz with 24 bits per sample
* The ability to make precise adjustments to the audio's speed, while maintaining pitch, in order to synchronise it with video, run for the right length of time, etc. Unlike many other programs, Audacity has very few audible artifacts (doubling, or chorus type effects) when lengthening or shortening a file.
* Large array of plug-ins available

Download it here.

Testosterone 1 - Estrogen 0

From the New York Post:

March 2, 2007 -- AN on-air dig from co-host Rosie O'Donnell during an episode of "The View" this week left co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck in tears after the taping, sources told Page Six. "Elisabeth just can't take it any more," the insider said of her tensions with O'Donnell, who constantly slams her conservative stance. Things got especially ugly on Wednesday. Hasselbeck said she supported the government's access to citizens' phone conversations. Liberal O'Donnell responded, "Elisabeth, you are very young and you are very wrong."

Read the rest here.

From The 'WTH?' Files

From Forbes:

Man Gets Probation for Dead Deer Sex

Associated Press
03.21.07, 6:15 PM ET

A 20-year-old man received probation after he was convicted of having sexual contact with a dead deer. The sentence also requires Bryan James Hathaway to be evaluated as a sex offender and treated at the Institute for Psychological and Sexual Health in Duluth, Minn.

"The state believes that particular place is the best to provide treatment for the individual," Assistant District Attorney Jim Boughner said.

Read the rest here.

Foot Don't Fail Me Now

From Newsday:

Mills proves disability's no obstacle

March 20, 2007

Heather Mills stepped up and showed she can dance on a prosthetic leg. Gracefully.

Mills' appearance on "Dancing With the Stars" last night had been eagerly awaited, amid public speculation that she might experience trouble, The Associated Press reports.

The ABC dancing contest, returning for its fourth season, was a big hit in the past. But adding a new level of interest and curiosity this go-around is the presence of the 39-year-old activist and estranged wife of former Beatle Paul McCartney as one of the 11 celebrity contestants.

If there was anyone watching who didn't know about Mills' prosthesis, host Tom Bergeron wasted no time at the top of the show reminding them that contenders include "our first performer with an artificial limb."

Read the rest here.

Random Blather

It was first day of Spring today, a rather wet and chilly one, though for a short while early this afternoon it was nice enough for me to get in a brisk walk. I wanted to go out again later, but by late afternoon the cold drizzle had returned. Thing is, I am on Daddy Duty today and can't really go out stomping o'er the moors of a March evening, anyway. But it's all good. I managed to get in about 45-60 minutes of walking today, and that's not bad for an Old Geezer like me.


Speaking of which, I saw a tee-shirt today that read '50 Is The New 30.' I suppose the implication is that given the life expectancy of most of us, 50 year-olds today are where most of the ancients would have been at 30. Or maybe it means that like some latter-day Peter Pan, Old Geezers just aren't willing to grow up. In any event, the tee-shirt seemed cool when I first saw it, but after thinking about it, I realized that I'm not anywhere near pretentious enough to wear such a thing. Or am I?


I was listening tonight to some classic Randy Newman (Sail Away) and it occurred to me that if Randy had tried out for American Idol, he never would have made past the audition round. For that matter, I have to think Bob Dylan and Neil Young wouldn't have made it, either. Apparently some of the Idol incarnations in other countries allow artists to sing their own songs, or to play their own instruments, but not American Idol. Anyway, Sail Away sounds as good today as it did 35 years ago Unfortunately I'll never hear anything as good on AI.


As long as I'm on the subject of Idol, I'm annoyed: I happened to turn on the news tonight and found out who was sent home this week from American Idol. I'd taped tonight's AI and intended to watch it with Mrs. Muzzy tomorrow night, but now I know what happened. Grrr. Well, I must say, the results were pretty much as I'd expected, and I'll tell you no more here.


Strange days, indeed: I was driving home from taking LK to her Speech Therapy session this AM, and was several car lengths behind a pickup truck with some things piled in back. While we were traveling along at about 55 mph, I watched in horror as a large component stereo system that was being transported in the bed of the pickup suddenly went airborne over the tailgate, smashing onto the highway below. Of course the debris continued to move along the ground at about the same speed as it had been when it left the pickup, and spread out across the road, like ripples on a pond. Fortunately - given my paranoid nature - I'd been following several car lengths back, and was able to avoid the mess, but if I'd been following that vehicle as closely as so many of the lunatic drivers in this town do, I'd have been in a bad way.


That's enough for this post.


Free Vs. Open Source


The terms "Free Software" and "Open Source Software" are often used interchangeably, and even abbreviated together as F/OSS (for "Free/Open Source Software"). Are there any differences between the two? If so, what are those differences? If not, why do the two different names exist? David Chisnall examines this paradox

Read the rest here.

Mugabe's Campaign


Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

More On The Story From C&F

Monday, March 19, 2007


I've been in yet another blogging slump the past week or so, after a barrage of posting the weekend before. It isn't that I've forgotten the teeming dozens that brave the dangers of the Internetty Thingy to get here, only to leave forlorn at the sight of no new posts. Nope. It's not that at all. This past week was really busy, and after spending Saturday at my cousin's lakeside home in Wisconsin over the weekend, I spent that night and all day Sunday horizontalized with a Very Bad Cold. I'm on the mend, and I'll try to write something or other this next week, if/when I can think of something utterly brilliant to say. On other hand, don't hold yer breath, there, pardner. Peace out.

Music Monday - Low

From SubPop:

Drums and Guns is the latest collection of songs by Low.

Recorded with Dave Fridmann and joined by Matt Livingston on bass; Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker have created a soundtrack for post-traumatic shock.

One imagines a world seen through night goggles; abandonment at the ravaged frontiers of a puppet state; the brainwashed hysteria of teenage guerrillas planting IEDs.

The menace breathes and seethes in silence, in a malefic dreamtime.

The voices—bracing and seductive—are upfront and clear.

The beats skitter as textures evaporate.

The arrangements have been robbed of all their valuables.

The message is clear.

This is the most important album of the year.

—Jonathan Poneman, Dec. 2006

Low, a band from Duluth, Minnesota, formed in 1993. The band features Alan Sparhawk on vocals and guitar, Mimi Parker on vocals and drums, and Matt Livingston on bass and vocals. Sparhawk and Parker are married with two children; they first met in fourth grade in rural Minnesota. Livingston, the latest addition to the band, replaced longtime bassist Zak Sally, who previously replaced original bassist John Nichols.

Low’s first album, I Could Live in Hope, was produced by Kramer and released on Vernon Yard Records in 1994. The band was immediately pegged as “slowcore” due to their minimalist soundscapes and the beautiful harmonies of Sparhawk and Parker, which stood in stark contrast to the era’s fascination with “grunge.” Low continued to work with different producers (Steve Fisk, Steve Albini, Tchad Blake, Dave Fridmann) and released a steady stream of critically acclaimed albums (Long Division, The Curtain Hits the Cast, Things We Lost in the Fire, The Great Destroyer), one-offs, collaborations, and other miscellany, including a classic Christmas album, aptly titled Low Christmas. Throughout, Low toured the world and eventually found themselves in the company of such artists as The Dirty Three, Radiohead and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

Drums and Guns is the band’s eighth full-length album and second for Sub Pop. It’s also, after 2005’s The Great Destroyer, the second album they’ve recorded with producer Dave Fridmann. Drums and Guns features a number of songs that ardent Low fans will recognize from the band’s recent live shows. These songs appear here in substantially altered forms, as though they’ve been taken apart and reassembled in striking new ways. There’s no contrivance here, however. While these songs feature new elements (looped vocals, drum machines, etc.) and are thoroughly, radiantly contemporary, they remain undeniably Low’s. Drums and Guns possesses the unique, subtle beauty and power we’ve come to expect from Low, and the record is also a breathtaking step forward.

Download these free Low MP3's courtesy SubPop:

Friday, March 16, 2007

Friday Night Videos - Thirsty Merc Collection

'Emancipate Myself'
(concept video)
Thirsty Merc


'Emancipate Myself'
(live at The Chapel)
Thirsty Merc


'In The Summertime'
Thirsty Merc


'My Completeness'
Thirsty Merc


'When The Weather Is Fine'
Thirsty Merc


'Someday, Someday
Thirsty Merc


'Wasting Time'
Thirsty Merc


'Katie Q'
Thirsty Merc


Monday, March 12, 2007

Music Monday - Mixed Bag



'Smile Like You Mean It'
The Killers


'Hang Me Out To Dry'
Cold War Kids


'Gone Daddy Gone'
Gnarls Barkley


'Puro Amor Em Alto Mar'
Rock Rocket


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Nice Day Today

From AccuWeather:

Minneapolis, MN

Past 24 Hours

Saturday, March 10, 2007 [ English | Metric ]

(Reports from minneapolis-st paul int ar, mn)

Past 24 Hour Totals
High Temperature: 48°F (at 3pm)
Low Temperature: 28°F (at 5am )
Avg Temperature: 37°F
Total Precipitation: 0.00in

MS Understood

From Yahoo Tech:

An Open Letter to Microsoft: Re-Release Windows XP

Wed Feb 28, 2007 1:13PM EST

Dear Mr. Gates, Mr. Ballmer, and the many good folks at Microsoft Corp.,

It's time to sober up on Windows Vista. This just isn't working out, and your users are getting frustrated to the point where they're souring on Windows altogether. In case you haven't seen some of the more noteworthy blog posts on this topic, I refer you to Chris Pirillo, Scot's Newsletter, or Spend Matters. Or check out the recent bug reports regarding product activation and security flaws. This is all stuff I managed to dredge up that was written yesterday.

People are unhappy with Vista. Really unhappy. And though I know Microsoft has its own form of Steve Jobs' reality distortion field, it certainly can't keep you from seeing at least some of the sobering sales figures and the crush of disappointing reviews of Vista. I don't want to dredge up all the reasons people are unhappy with Vista in this letter. I want to talk about what you ought to do stop a mass migration to Linux and the Mac.

Read the rest here.

Six Free Online Storage Sites - Plus One

From Extreme Tech:

Six Free Online Storage Services

By Michael W. Muchmore Rate it Yourself

February 28, 2007

Don't want to spend money and installation hassles on new storage hardware for your precious media? Whether it's for sharing memories in the form of digital photos and videos over the web—or just practical documents you want to protect against that all-too-common hard disk crash, these six services offer secure, and often free, ways to back up your files and get access to them anywhere. The services also provide a way to share your data with others without sending huge email attachments or FTPing or hosting them yourself. Most of them offer drag-and-drop for easy uploading. Though there are scores of online storage services, we focused on ones with free plans and interesting features:

* DropBoks
* eSnips
* MediaMax
* OmniDrive
* openomy

Read the rest here.

And don't forget number seven: AOL's XDrive.

Stating The Obvious

From UPI

Czech Pres: Environmentalism is a religion

March 9, 2007 at 5:58 PM

WASHINGTON, March 9 (UPI) -- Environmentalism is a religion that is based more on political ambitions than science, the president of the Czech Republic warned Friday.

Speaking at the Cato Institute, a public policy think-tank, President Vaclav Klaus said that environmentalists who clamor for policy change to combat global warming "only pretend" to be promoting environmental protection, and are actually being driven by a political agenda.

Read the rest here.

Two Thumbs Way Up

From Smart Money:

Rah-Rah Ratings Online

By Anne Kadet

February 23, 2007

THE FUN STARTED over a year ago, when began selling gallon jugs of milk. An anonymous consumer submitted a review, dubbing it "The Best Milk Ever!" and the tongue-in-cheek comment struck a chord. Since then nearly 900 consumers have written reviews of the $3.99 jug. Comments range from "Worth its weight in gold times infinity" to "My cat is awesome now." One person recalled sending the milk to business contacts over the holidays: "Our clients were super-impressed, and I may be on my way to VP," she raved.

Amazon's now infamous milk-review page parodies a familiar phenomenon: the overwhelming positivity of customer reviews. If a Martian had access to the Internet, he'd conclude that Earth is a consumer paradise where every gadget merits five out of five stars and everyone on eBay is a "superfast A+++ highly recommended seller." In fact, a recent study analyzing more than 585,000 customer-written reviews on Amazon found that the average book title gets 4.2 out of five stars. The same goes for customer write-ups on web sites of companies like Sears, Home Depot and Macy's. Whether they're reviewing cameras or cashmere, more than 80% of consumers award at least four stars. No wonder online retailers are rushing to add customer-comment sections to their sites. For years they spent billions persuading us that all their merchandise was above average; now they can relax and let us convince each other.

Read the rest here.

Check The Internet Cafe At The Mall

From Breitbart:

Nepal's 'Buddha Boy' does second vanishing act

Mar 10 4:54 PM US/Eastern

A Nepalese teenager hailed as a reincarnation of the Buddha has vanished for a second time in southern Nepal, a member of his support committee said Saturday.

Ram Bahadur Bomjam, 17, who shot to fame in 2005 when his supporters said he had begun a meditation session that would go on uninterrupted for years, went missing on Thursday night, the committee member said.

"He suddenly disappeared from his meditating site in the jungle of Bara," said Raju Shah, a member of the committee set up after the boy became a local media sensation.

"He told his priest Indra Lama that he would meditate somewhere in other undisclosed locations."

Read the rest here.

Hey, Don 't Blame Me: I'm A Mac Guy

From Macworld:

Gates keeps top billionaire spot

March 09, 2007 2:39 pm ET

By Gregg Keizer, Computerworld

Bill Gates, Microsoft’s chairman, was the world’s richest person for the 14th consecutive year, Forbes announced yesterday as it debuted its mogul rankings for 2006.

Gates, whose estimated net worth climbed US$6 billion in 2006 to $56 billion, was joined in the top 25 by technology heavyweights Larry Ellison, chairman of Oracle, 11th place, $21.5 billion; Paul Allen, formerly of Microsoft, 19th, $18 billion; and Azim Premji, chairman of India’s technology services company Wipro Technologies, 21st, $17.1 billion.

Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer, however, watched his ranking drop from 24 in 2005 to 31 even as his net worth climbed to $15 billion from $13.6 billion.

Read the rest here.

Chronic Pain

From Yahoo News:

Woman reports stolen cannabis to police

Sat Mar 10, 6:28 AM ET

A middle-aged New Zealand woman rang police to report a theft of cannabis plants she had been growing at her North Island home, local media reported.

The crying woman told a constable at the police station in the city of Napier the plant theft was the fourth from her property in as many years. The 45-year-old woman, who was not named, lamented someone had again sneaked on to her property at night to steal her three carefully nurtured marijuana plants.

Read the rest here.

Not Kosher (Or, The Other White Meat)

From Citizens Against Government Waste:

2007 Pig Book Summary

The 2007 Congressional Pig Book Summary gives a snapshot of each appropriations bill and details 24 of the juiciest projects culled from the complete Pig Book. (.pdf)

Jump to appropriations bill:

Defense | Homeland Security


According to the Chinese calendar, 2007 is the Year of the Pig. Fortunately for American taxpayers, it will be a smaller pig than usual. The 2007 Congressional Pig Book has not been this little since 1999, as only two of the 11 appropriations bills were enacted by Congress and the remaining nine were subject to a moratorium on earmarks. There are no indoor rainforests, National Peanut Festivals, mariachi music grants, or teapot museums to be found.

This year’s Pig Book breaks a run of seven consecutive years of record dollar amounts of pork, culminating in $29 billion in the 2006 Congressional Pig Book. This lesser barrel of pork can be attributed to the efforts of Senators Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who prevented the enactment of nine appropriations bills in December, 2006, and the subsequent moratorium on earmarks announced and enforced by the House and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairmen David Obey (D-Wis.) and Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) in H. J. Res. 20, the bill that funds the government for the remainder of fiscal 2007.

There is still enough pork to cause concern for taxpayers, as 2,658 projects were stuffed into the Defense and Homeland Security Appropriations Acts, at a cost of $13.2 billion. Pork identified in the Pig Book since 1991 totals $252 billion. Defense had 2,618 projects, or 204 less than in 2006, at a cost of $10.8 billion, or 28 percent less than the $14.9 billion in 2006. For homeland security, the totals were $2.4 billion, or 10 percent less than the $2.7 billion in 2006, and 40 projects, or five more than in 2006.

While only two bills were enacted, the states of Alaska and Hawaii, which have been the top two states in pork per capita every year but one since 2000, were served more then their fair share of bacon by Senators Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii). In the defense appropriations bill alone, Alaska received $209,900,000, a 127 percent increase over the total of $92,425,000 in 2006.

Based on historical figures, the enactment of H. J. Res. 20 eliminated more than 7,000 earmarks and saved between $12-$15 billion in pork-barrel spending. Unfortunately, in this Year of the Pig, taxpayers are not getting a pork dividend. Instead, Congress took the savings and spent it on other programs.

Despite the moratorium on earmarks, the siren’s song of pork is too tempting for some members of Congress, who have called federal agencies to pressure them to divert money to pet projects that were included in committee reports. The Bush Administration told agencies to ignore such oral communications.

While taxpayers should celebrate a reduction in the number and cost of pork-barrel projects, there is still much work that needs to be done to ensure that members of Congress do not return to their piggish ways in the future.

The 24 projects, totaling $2.4 billion, in this year’s Congressional Pig Book Summary symbolize the most egregious and blatant examples of pork. As in previous years, all of the items in the

Congressional Pig Book Summary meet at least one of CAGW’s seven criteria, but most satisfy at least two:

  • Requested by only one chamber of Congress;
  • Not specifically authorized;
  • Not competitively awarded;
  • Not requested by the President;
  • Greatly exceeds the President’s budget request or the previous year’s funding;
  • Not the subject of congressional hearings; or
  • Serves only a local or special interest.


Efficient and effective operation of the Department of Defense (DOD) is critical to ensuring the security of our nation and the safety of our troops. While American military forces fight for peace and democracy in the Middle East, Pentagon officials struggle to create a lean, mean, war-fighting machine; the good news is that appropriators are winning fewer battles over defense priorities. From fiscal 2006 to fiscal 2007, the number of porkbarrel projects decreased by 7 percent from 2,822 to 2,618, while the total cost went down 28 percent, from $14.9 billion to $10.8 billion.

$1,190,000,000 for full funding of 20 F-22A fighter jets; this barrel of pork is so big that Congress will not even spend it all in one year. The bill funds 20 F-22s per year until 2009. The F-22 was originally designed as an air superiority fighter for use against the Soviet Air Force. Before Congress put the ink on the check, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) sent a 13-page letter on June 20, 2006 to then-House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman C.W. (Bill) Young urging Congress to stop funding this program due to its high cost and the fact that the aircraft is out of date. The GAO said, “DOD has not demonstrated the need or value for making further investments in the F-22A program.” The GAO also noted that the F-22s “are not sufficient to be effective in the current and future national security environment.” There are 22 test F-35 aircrafts that are more modern, effective, and cheaper. In 2003, Popular Science reported the F-22 had a price tag of $120 million each while the F-35 cost $35 million. In June 2006, the GAO report raised the F-22’s numbers, concluding that the multi-year contract would drive per-plane costs up to $183 million from $166 million. The F-35 made its maiden flight in December 2006. Apparently, the F-22 will be stopped only when pigs can fly.

$319,655,000 for projects in the state of then-Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), including: $20,000,000 for the Army Compatible Use Buffer Program (ACUB); $11,500,000 to fund Pan-STARRS to develop a large aperture telescope with the University of Hawaii to prevent space objects from colliding with Earth; $5,600,000 for the Center of Excellence for Research in Ocean Sciences, $4,500,000 for chitosan bandage component which utilizes natural compounds found in shrimp heads; and $1,000,000 for a wave power electric generating system. The ACUB works on “conservation planning at the ecosystem level to ensure that greater benefits are realized towards species and habitat recovery.” The Army’s objectives with this program include: “Reduce training restrictions, meet Endangered Species Act recovery responsibilities, prevent development along installation boundaries, and prevent future threatened and endangered species listings.” Thanks to programs like ACUB, the ecosystem for oinkers is thriving in Hawaii.

$209,900,000 added for projects in the state of then-Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), an increase of 127 percent over the $92,425,000 for Alaska in the fiscal 2006 defense bill, including: $59,100,000 for upgrades to the Pacific Alaskan Range Complex in Red Flag; $4,000,000 for the Northern Line Extension, and $3,200,000 for HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program), which has received $109.1 million in pork since 1995. The Northern Line Extension will provide a direct route from North Pole (pop. 1,778 in 2005) to Delta Junction (pop. 840 in 2000), which is a whopping 82.1 mile drive on one highway between the two villages according to MapQuest. The Alaska Railroad Corporation said, “The proposed rail line would provide freight and potentially passenger rail services serving commercial interests and communities in or near the project corridor.”

Read the rest here.

There's Something About IMVU

From Wikipedia:

IMVU is a graphical instant messaging client (3D chat) currently in beta stage with more than 3 million users. (Windows only.) It is developed by IMVU, Inc., by Will Harvey, a video game developer and founder of There, a similar 3D virtual world.

The primary focus of IMVU is the ability to use personalized 3D avatars and environments that let the user interact with the person they’re chatting with. Full 3D scenes make users feel as if they are sitting with a friend in a coffee shop, on a Ferris wheel, etc. The secondary focus of IMVU is allowing the members to develop content that can be purchased by other members for use in personalizing their avatars and environments.

IMVU members receive a personal homepage at no cost. Coding for IMVU homepages is similar to Myspace.

IMVU contains its own economy with a currency system based on IMVU credits. The credits are used by members to purchase virtual items like fashion pieces (hair, clothes, skins, and accessories), pets, and 3D scenes. Each of these virtual items average $0.50 and are largely created by other members. Credits can be purchased via a variety of payment methods, including credit card, PayPal, SMS, and money order. IMVU gives free promotional credits to encourage member participation, referrals, and new users. Credits can be earned by member developers through the creation and sale of content in IMVU.

Read the rest here.

Free Radical

From the WSJ Opinion Journal:

Ayaan Hirsi Ali infuriates Muslims and discomfits liberals.


Saturday, March 10, 2007 12:01 a.m.

NEW YORK--Ayaan Hirsi Ali is untrammeled and unrepentant: "I am supposed to apologize for saying the prophet is a pervert and a tyrant," she declares. "But that is apologizing for the truth."

Statements such as these have brought Ms. Hirsi Ali to world-wide attention. Though she recently left her adopted country, Holland--where her friend and intellectual collaborator Theo van Gogh was murdered by a Muslim extremist in 2004--she is still accompanied by armed guards wherever she travels.

Ms. Hirsi Ali was born in 1969 in Mogadishu--into, as she puts it, "the Islamic civilization, as far as you can call it a civilization." In 1992, at age 22, her family gave her hand to a distant relative; had the marriage ensued, she says, it would have been "an arranged rape." But as she was shipped to the appointment via Europe, she fled, obtaining asylum in Holland. There, "through observation, through experience, through reading," she acquainted herself with a different world. "The culture that I came to and I live in now is not perfect," Ms. Hirsi Ali says. "But this culture, the West, the product of the Enlightenment, is the best humanity has ever achieved."

Read the rest here.

White And (Lightly) Nerdy

I am nerdier than 46% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

In The Stye Of The Beholder

From the Sonoma-Marin Fair:

The 2007 World’s Ugliest Dog Contest is coming June 22nd!

Online voting will start soon for this year’s contest. Keep checking back. In the meantime, enjoy the highlights and news from our great 2006 competition:

Archie, 2006 World's Ugliest Dog Contest Winner Sonoma-Marin Fair, Petaluma
The World's Ugliest Dog Contest photo gallery. Couldn't be there? We've created the contest for you! Click here!

Enjoy the photos of all the contestants.

Click here for press release -Sonoma-Marin Fair Names 2006 Winner

Click here to see the winner announced for the 2006 World's Ugliest Dog Contest

Click here to see a video of the World's Ugliest Dog Contest.

Click here to view the Channel 5 (KPIX) story on the World's Ugliest Dog Contest voting.

Click here to view the NBC-11 story on Rascal and the World's Ugliest Dog Contest.

Read the rest here.

Life Is Like A Box Of Chocolates

From CNN:

'Idiot' comment prods Powerball winner

7:25 p.m. EST, February 27, 2007

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Ed O'Neill's bank account just got a lot bigger, thanks to a co-worker who told him some "idiot" hasn't claimed an $800,000 Powerball lottery prize.

O'Neill, 58, who works for the Clinton Chamber of Commerce, bought the ticket for a January 6 Powerball drawing. He told Iowa Lottery staffers he didn't think to check the results until a couple days afterward, when a chamber receptionist pointed out an article in the local newspaper.

"She said, 'Read this article about the idiot that hasn't claimed his ticket.' So I read it and noticed where the ticket was bought," O'Neill said. "I thought, 'Gee, I better look at my ticket.' That's when I said, 'I think I won."'

Read the rest here.

Kebob The Builder

From Yahoo News:

School for skewers? Shish!

By Madeline Chambers Thu Mar 8, 7:55 AM ET

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany, home to some 2.5 million people of Turkish descent, has started offering courses in doner kebab production as part of an initiative to train unskilled workers.

If they pass their exams, the first class of 16 students -- all of Turkish descent -- will qualify with a certificate in "Meat Processing with Doner Kebab Production Specialization" at Hamburg's Vocational School for Gastronomy and Nutrition.

"Getting a qualification in kebab production should help me stay in the branch in the long term and that is what I want to do," student Dursun Atekin, 25, told Reuters.

Read the rest here.

Emily The Strange

From Wikipedia:

Emily the Strange (sometimes written as Emily Strange) is a fictional counterculture character, "created" by Rob Reger and his company Cosmic Debris Etc. Inc. Prior to receiving press coverage and becoming the object of product placement, Emily appeared on a sticker, a freebie distributed at concerts, record stores and skate shops to promote Cosmic Debris, the clothing line founded by skateboarder Rob Reger and racecar driver Matt Reed. Reger's friend Nathan Carrico designed Emily in 1991 for a skateboard company in Santa Cruz, where Cosmic Debris was born. In his Santa Cruz garage (and later an artist warehouse in San Francisco) Reger created the designs and with Matt Reed brought them into the fashion world by creating tee shirt designs that captured the essence this mysterious young girl with 4 black cats. Since then, Cosmic Debris has grown into a multi-million dollar firm with dozens of employees. Cosmic Debris has most recently moved its operations to Berkeley, California, and plan to open an Emily retail store there soon. With the momentum of mainstream success, several comics about Emily have also been made. Key creative people over the years (designers, graphic artists, illustrators), who have worked with Reger's Cosmic Debrisdesign house based are: Buzz Parker, Brian Brooks, Grace Fontaine, Liz Baca, Noel Tolentino, Fawn Gehweiler, Jessica Gruner and Adele Pedersen. Rob Reger remains the key creative force behind the brand, and Buzz Parker the key illustrator for the comic books, and website. Buzz Parker runs the website form his offices in Arcata, California

Emily is a slight 13-year-old, of exceptionally pale complexion. She has jet black hair, and wears a black dress and black tights, set off by large white Mary Jane shoes. Emily has a dark (some say gothic) worldview. The character's appearance and demeanour could be likened to those of Wednesday Addams.

Read the rest here.

From The 'WTH?' Files

From WCCO:

Off-Duty NWA Worker Charged With Assault On Flight

Mar 5, 2007 6:24 pm US/Central

(WCCO) Minneapolis An off-duty Northwest Airlines employee was arrested after a woman on a flight from Seattle complained that the man had ejaculated on her.

The FBI identified the man as Samuel Oscar Gonzalez, 20, of Lakewood, Wash. He was charged in federal court with simple assault, a misdemeanor.

It happened on the redeye Monday morning from Seattle to Minneapolis. The woman was headed back to college.

Read the rest here.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Friday Night Videos - Decibelica Brazilian Indie Music Gathering

Circuito Decibélica Etapa Goiânia
11/10/2006 1° PARTE


Circuito Decibélica Etapa Goiânia
11/10/2006 2° PARTE


Circuito Decibélica Etapa Goiânia
11/10/2006 3° PARTE


Circuito Decibélica Etapa Goiânia
11/10/2006 4° PARTE


Circuito Decibélica Etapa Goiânia
11/10/2006 5° PARTE


Circuito Decibélica Etapa Goiânia
11/10/2006 6° PARTE


This Is Very Cool

The John Hughes Files - Jukebox

Autism News

From Science Daily:

Classroom Design Improves Education For Children With Autism

March 8, 2007

Science Daily — The standard of education for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) can be improved by better classroom design, but often not enough attention is given to their needs. Now, researchers Coventry University's Design Ergonomics Applied Research Group have developed a new environment that is engaging autistic children in schools through digital technology.

Experts from Coventry University have designed the first low cost education and activity area for children with autism that can be used in mainstream schools. The environment is enabling teachers to educate and integrate children with special needs within conventional schools.

Over 100 primary and secondary school children in Birmingham and Coventry have successfully tested and used the high-tech (fixed and portable) teaching and learning spaces.

Autistic spectrum disorders touch the lives of over 500,000 UK families, and around 75% of people with autism have learning disabilities. In turn, sufferers need specialist education to maximise their skills.

People with autism suffer from problems with social interaction, social communication, and imagination. The best time to break through the impairments and help them connect with the world is when children are young, and this motivated the researchers to discover novel ways to use technology and space to improve their engagement.

Read the rest here.

How To Move iTunes Library

From Lifehacker:

How to move an iTunes library from a PC to Mac (and back)

by Gina Trapani

You've put a lot of time into your iTunes library, meticulously creating just the right playlists, and rating every song you've got. Now you've decided to make the switch - from Windows to Mac (or back). Sadly, transferring your iTunes library along with your playlists and ratings isn't just a matter of moving the music files. Sure, the song-specific metadata like artist and album will be copied over in the files, but the data YOU assigned, the playlists and ratings? Those live inside iTunes' internal database files which can't be simply copied from PC to Mac.

Moving your song ratings and playlists from a PC to Mac isn't impossible, but it takes a little elbow grease. Here's how to get the job done.

Note: The best, Apple-endorsed way to move an iTunes library is to use iTunes 7's built-in backup and restore. This copies the contents of your library to CD's or DVD's, and nowhere else (WTF, Apple?).

However, if you're like me and you've got a 60 gigabyte library and you don't have time to stand around wasting burning dozens of discs, this way's for you. The method described here lets you copy the files directly from one computer to another and take your playlists and song ratings with you.

Warning: This method is NOT prescribed by Apple in any of their documentation, so before you start, BACK UP YOUR MUSIC LIBRARY. Just in case.

Ready to move iTunes? Let's do it.

Read the rest here.


From Star Tribune via COTAE:

Coulter's voice provokes the shame it's due

Other conservatives are showing a bit of open-mindedness, but not Ann."

Star Tribune | March 9, 2007
Mitch Pearlstein

At the risk of a surge of double and triple negatives, it's not for no reason that Ann Coulter has never spoken at a Center of the American Experiment event. And it's no accident that the head of a major conservative organization in Washington reportedly said a while back that he doesn't even want her setting heel in his building.

Folks on the right often criticize folks on the left for not criticizing one of their own when they say something thoroughly offensive and stupid. To avoid countercharges, let it be known that I wasn't a fan of Coulter and her style before last weekend and I'm even less so now, as her reference to presidential candidate John Edwards by the full two-syllable, homosexual-slur "F" word was galaxies beyond the pale. It was ugly and she ought to be ashamed, and frankly, I'm not too thrilled that her audience of conservative activists in Washington didn't make their displeasure immediately clear.

Why was her jab at a joke so unacceptable? Because decent people just don't talk like that, or at least they shouldn't. And no, this is not because of overly sensitive, politically correct touchiness.

Read the rest here.

What's Your Poison?

Death By Caffeine

Conspicuous Consumption


Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

More On The Story From C&F

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Found On The Web

Darwin's God

From NY Times:

Darwin’s God

March 4, 2007

God has always been a puzzle for Scott Atran. When he was 10 years old, he scrawled a plaintive message on the wall of his bedroom in Baltimore. “God exists,” he wrote in black and orange paint, “or if he doesn’t, we’re in trouble.” Atran has been struggling with questions about religion ever since — why he himself no longer believes in God and why so many other people, everywhere in the world, apparently do.

Call it God; call it superstition; call it, as Atran does, “belief in hope beyond reason” — whatever you call it, there seems an inherent human drive to believe in something transcendent, unfathomable and otherworldly, something beyond the reach or understanding of science. “Why do we cross our fingers during turbulence, even the most atheistic among us?” asked Atran when we spoke at his Upper West Side pied-à-terre in January. Atran, who is 55, is an anthropologist at the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris, with joint appointments at the University of Michigan and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. His research interests include cognitive science and evolutionary biology, and sometimes he presents students with a wooden box that he pretends is an African relic. “If you have negative sentiments toward religion,” he tells them, “the box will destroy whatever you put inside it.” Many of his students say they doubt the existence of God, but in this demonstration they act as if they believe in something. Put your pencil into the magic box, he tells them, and the nonbelievers do so blithely. Put in your driver’s license, he says, and most do, but only after significant hesitation. And when he tells them to put in their hands, few will.

If they don’t believe in God, what exactly are they afraid of?

Read the rest here.


From Worldnet Daily:


Gore's 'carbon offsets' paid to firm he owns

Critics say justification for energy-rich lifestyle serves as way for former VP to profit

Posted: March 2, 2007
4:13 p.m. Eastern

Al Gore defends his extraordinary personal energy usage by telling critics he maintains a "carbon neutral" lifestyle by buying "carbon offsets," but the company that receives his payments turns out to be partly owned and chaired by the former vice president himself.

Gore has built a "green money-making machine capable of eventually generating billions of dollars for investors, including himself, but he set it up so that the average Joe can't afford to play on Gore's terms," writes blogger Dan Riehl.

Gore has described the lifestyle he and his wife Tipper live as "carbon neutral," meaning he tries to offset any energy usage, including plane flights and car trips, by "purchasing verifiable reductions in CO2 elsewhere."

But it turns out he pays for his extra-large carbon footprint through Generation Investment Management, a London-based company with offices in Washington, D.C., for which he serves as chairman. The company was established to take financial advantage of new technologies and solutions related to combating "global warming," reports blogger Bill Hobbs.

Read the rest here.

Autism News

From Science Daily:

Ped Med: Aiming to detect autism early


SAN FRANCISCO, March 1 (UPI) -- In a good-news, bad-news mix for autism, researchers report early diagnosis of the neurodevelopmental disorder has been shown to be effective -- yet elusive.

Despite a growing body of scientific evidence pointing to the benefits of early detection, government scientists estimate only about half of children with autism are diagnosed before kindergarten, with most of these identified between the ages of 2 and 4.

Although that marks an improvement over previous years, it's still too late for the undiagnosed half to get the best shot at reaping maximum benefits from treatment, most experts agree.

"We know that it's never too late to intervene with children with autism, but we also know that there's this critical window of opportunity that you keep hearing about," said Laurie Stephens, director of the Autism Spectrum Disorders Program at The Help Group in Los Angeles, a non-profit organization that serves 500 children with special needs.

Read the rest here.

Yiddish With Dick And Jane

No Surprises Here

From Live Science:

What We Want: Online Dating by the Numbers

By Jeanna Bryner

LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 12 February 2007
12:01 am ET

In the world of online dating, women seek a partner of their age or older who has a high-paying job or has money. And he must be well-educated.

That's according to a recent study published in the January issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

No surprise, men seek a partner of their age or younger who is physically attractive.

“Income of men is a very good predictor of how many emails they get from women, whereas female attractiveness is a very good predictor of how many emails they get from men,” said study team member Michael Norton of Harvard Business School. “Education does nothing for women for getting emails, whereas it helps men,” Norton said.

Read the rest here.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Newgrange, which is located at 53°41′39.4″N, 6°28′36.6″W, is one of the passage tombs of the Brú na Bóinne complex in County Meath, and the most famous of all Irish prehistoric sites.

Originally built between c.3300-2900BC according to Carbon 14 dates (Grogan 1991), it is more than 500 years older than the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, and predates Stonehenge trilithons by about 1,000 years (although the earliest stages of Stonehenge are roughly contemporary with Newgrange). It lay lost for over 4,000 years due to mound slippage, until the late 17th century, when men looking for building stone uncovered it, and described it as a cave.

Newgrange was excavated and much restored between 1962 and 1975, under the supervision of Prof Michael J O'Kelly, Dept. of Archaeology, University College, Cork (O'Kelly 1986). It consists of a vast man-made stone and turf mound retained within a circle of 97 large kerbstones topped by a high inward-leaning wall of white quartz and granite. Most of the stones were sourced locally (within a radius of 20km or so) but the quartz and granite stones of the facade must have been sourced further afield, most probably in Wicklow and Dundalk bay respectively.

Read the rest here.

Word Sentences

Daughter Number One AE took a battery of standardized tests in school recently and scored in the 99th percentile of Second Graders. This is not news, really, as she's always been intellectually precocious, having taught herself to read before she was 3 years of age. She won't be able to join any kind of Gifted Student Program until next year, so we've encouraged her teachers to send her home with advanced vocabulary words to learn each week. She's responsible to learn the spelling and usage, and to write out sentences using one or more of her words in each. For your edification, here's the ones she will turn in this coming week, though I'll leave it to you, gentle reader to guess which were the words from her list:

1 - The present is delicate.

2 - There was a multitude of people.

3 - The corpulent man had trouble getting in the door.

4 - She did her homework expeditiously so she could luxuriate in the crsip salubrious air, which tantalized her from the window.

5 - The friends played with counterfeit money.

6 - He characterized my story about being friends as unprejudiced.

Salubrious? Is that a good thing? But hey, the child never fails to impress me.

Melinda Doolittle - My Funny Valentine

Strong AI

From AOL TV:

With 'Idol,' the Family Text-Votes Together


The New York Times
Updated:2007-03-01 14:06:00

NEW YORK (Feb. 28) - Fox’s “American Idol” is a joy to behold. Like a cotton gin, a Model T or an iPod, the contraption just goes. Season after season, and despite monkey wrenches and glitches that might ground a lesser show, the baseline engineering of “Idol” holds up.

And when the motor really revs high — as when the show deflects an amateurish Internet scandal involving fake dirty pictures of a contestant, or an “Idol” alumna, Jennifer Hudson, wins an Oscar on Sunday night for her nightingale performance in “Dreamgirls” — it even affords fans a flash of reflected glory. The competition’s finalists may end up in a dubious order (with Ms. Hudson, whom Simon Cowell championed early on, voted off), but each round of “Idol” brings to light stunningly worthy singers. At the same time, it entertains whole families, including the Motown dads and bubble-gum tweens who no turn-of-the-century programmer dared hope would ever share a couch again, much less a protocol for using cellphones to text in votes.

It’s a show, in other words, that does exactly what it promises to do. It makes platinum music stars, where “The Apprentice” on NBC mints no great businesspeople, and “The Bachelor” on ABC can’t consecrate a single marriage. And it regularly attracts more than 33 million viewers — young and old, black and white, rich and poor, red state and blue; that’s more than the number who watched the series finale of “Everybody Loves Raymond” on CBS.

Read the rest here.

Find Work You Love

From Yahoo Finance:

Branch Out to Find Work You Love

by Penelope Trunk

Wednesday, February 21, 2007, 3:00AM

When you look for a job or change careers, what you're really looking for is a way to improve things in your life. But it's hard to figure out what will really make things better and what will only make things worse.

There are some things we all know: People who are in love are happier, and people who are chronically unemployed are less happy. But most of us aren't dealing with such clear-cut extremes.

Most of us ask ourselves on a regular basis, "What's the best kind of work situation for me?" Yes, we're all unique, but in truth we aren't as unique as we think we are. So there are some rules we can all live by when looking for work we'll love.

Liking What You Have

Forget the deep analysis. Our brains are simply not optimized to figure out what we'll like. Instead, they're optimized to figure out how to like what we have.

This helps us on an evolutionary basis: We eat what's available, we take care of whatever kids we get, and so on. It doesn't help us in a job hunt, where we have to guess what we would like if we had it.

Daniel Gilbert, a professor of psychology at Harvard, spent his whole career studying this sort of problem and published his findings in "Stumbling on Happiness." Gilbert concludes that we're basically unable to know if we'll like a job until we try it, so self-analysis and market analysis aren't going to get you very far. Start trying stuff.

You don't have to quit your job to try things. Try new stuff on the weekend, volunteer for a project part-time, or ask for a temporary appointment to another department, for example. Be creative in how you learn about yourself. A job change doesn't have to be now or never -- it can be a process.

That said, here are some guidelines you can use for deciding what you're going to try:

• Don't go to grad school for humanities.

You would have had a better chance surviving on the Titanic than getting a tenure-track professorship in the humanities. The competition for these jobs is fierce, and very few corporate jobs give preference to someone who has a master's in, say, early American history.

• Don't be a lawyer.

Suicide is among the leading causes of premature death among lawyers. You can tell yourself you'll be different, but statistically speaking, you probably won't be. And while most lawyers don't kill themselves, this doesn't bode well for law being your dream career.

Read the rest here.

Weekend Rambling (Mostly Music-Related)

Hmm, it's been a week since I've posted here, and the world didn't end. Maybe there's a message for me in there, somewhere.

Anyway, I've been in a Wee Bit O'Blogging Slump, but I'll be back in the saddle soon enough. Part of it has been simple matter of lack of time.

During the past week we've had some 20-25 inches of snow fall, and the hassles of snow removal, as well as the significant increase in travel times to and from work has left me with much less time for blogging. What's more, all the shoveling and snow-blowing has left my hip and wrist in a bad way, and I've spent a good deal of time lying on the futon in a whimper. On sunny days like today the snow is lovely, but it's not at all easy to cope with.

(Regarding the hip/wrist problem: I went to see my doctor this past week about it and he wants me to see a specialist. I suppose I shall have to. I really don't wish to spend the rest of my days 'till I cross the River Styx in such a state.)


The other thing that's kept me ocupado this past week has been 'American idol.' I have yet to write anything about it here, but as always the show is as addictive as crack. During each of the past two weeks Fox ran 5 hours of Idol, which I dutifully taped and watched with Mrs. Muzzy when we could squeeze in the time. At least watching it on tape we were able to skip the commercials.

I gotta say, there's some great talent on the show this year, but there are also some serious duds, and I'm growing tired of hearing the same tired versions of Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, and Aretha Franklin songs trotted out for re-interpretation. That said, I was very pleased Melinda Doolittle chose to sing 'My Funny Valentine' this past week. Not only did she do a version that was quite different from Barbra's original, she did it with flair and penache that helped her stand out from the crowd. She doesn't look at all the part of an 'American Idol,' but then again, neighther did Ruben, or Taylor, or Clay.

As much as I love watching Idol, I'm not completely pleased. I think the thing that annoys me the most about the show is the quality of the music that is played. I know, I know, the backing band is most excellent, and the performers are often quite good, but there's so very little originality. At least on the 'Rockstar' series the performers are allowed to play instruments and to pick edgy songs, sometimes even of their own composition. 'American Idol' is content to allow its contestants to pander to the lowest common denominator. I recognize that the show would not be anywhere near as successful if the show allowed for songs that the hoi polloi would not take to, but I think they'd be better if they weren't so middle-of-the-road. Just look how much hotter Kelly Clarkson sounded singing 'Since You've Been Gone' than she did with the horribly bland 'A Moment Like This.'

Yeah, I know, I complain, yet still I watch.


I'm bummed: CompUSA is closing down their stores in Minnesota. Look, I know, their staff wasn't always stellar, but their prices were decent and they had a generous return/exchange policy. I have always been a bit promiscuous in my shopping habits, and will buy at any store that offers me a good value for my money. Thing is, CompUSA was often that very store, and I spent alot of money there over the years. Even if their staff didn't always know what they were talking about, the store stocked Macs before the Apple store was even a twinkle in Steve Jobs' eye, and I was very grateful that someone would stand by the Apple brands.

I'm going to miss them.

Anyway, I went over to the store and picked up a few items on reduced prices. One item in particular: an M-Audio iControl USB device for Garageband that I've had my eye on for months.

From M-Audio's website:

"iControl delivers total tactile control over GarageBand. Dedicated transport buttons and jog wheel put record and playback functions at your fingertips. Its eight rotary knobs are easily assigned to track functions like volume and pan, or to parameters for effects such as GarageBand’s EQ or any other Audio Unit plug-in. iControl also provides dedicated mute, solo and record-enable buttons for each track, plus a master volume fader. iControl is USB bus-powered, class-compliant, and automatically recognized by GarageBand, making setup a breeze. iControl puts you in complete creative flow with your GarageBand experience. "

The iControl has a suggested retail price of $179, but usually retails for around $129, and I got mine for around $65, which seemed like a good deal to me. Now I'm going to have to do some work with GB. Maybe when I get my new Macbook with Garageband 3 - with its built-in podcasting capabilities - I'll actually venture into the world of Internet Blather.


Okay, as long as I'm on the subject of tunes, here a couple of Music Memes I found on the net:

First Meme:

"Go to musicoutfitters, enter year of high school graduation for song list, bold songs you like, underline favorite, strike out the ones you hate, & leave untouched the ones you don't remember or don't care about."

I'll play. Here goes:

Top 100 Hits of 1975 / Top 100 Songs of 1975

01. Love Will Keep Us Together, The Captain and Tennille
02. Rhinestone Cowboy, Glen Campbell
03. Philadelphia Freedom, Elton John
04. Before The Next Teardrop Falls, Freddy Fender
05. My Eyes Adored You, Frankie Valli
06. Shining Star, Earth, Wind and Fire
07. Fame, David Bowie
08. Laughter In The Rain, Neil Sedaka
09. One Of These Nights, Eagles
10. Thank God I'm A Country Boy, John Denver
11. Jive Talkin', Bee Gees
12. Best Of My Love, Eagles
13. Lovin' You, Minnie Riperton
14. Kung Fu Fighting, Carl Douglas
15. Black Water, Doobie Brothers
16. Ballroom Blitz, Sweet
17. (Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song, B.J. Thomas
18. He Don't Love You (Like I Love You), Tony Orlando and Dawn
19. At Seventeen, Janis Ian
20. Pick Up The Pieces, Average White Band
21. The Hustle, Van McCoy and The Soul City Symphony
22. Lady Marmalade, Labelle
23. Why Can't We Be Friends?, War
24. Love Wont Let Me Wait, Major Harris
25. Boogie On Reggae Woman, Stevie Wonder
26. Wasted Days And Wasted Nights, Freddy Fender
27. Fight The Power, Pt. 1, Isley Brothers
28. Angie Baby, Helen Reddy
29. Jackie Blue, Ozark Mountain Daredevils
30. Fire, Ohio Players
31. Magic, Pilot
32. Please Mr. Postman, Carpenters
33. Sister Golden Hair, America
34. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, Elton John
35. Mandy, Barry Manilow
36. Have You Never Been Mellow, Olivia Newton-John
37. Could It Be Magic, Barry Manilow
38. Cat's In The Cradle, Harry Chapin
39. Wildfire, Michael Murphy
40. I'm Not Lisa, Jessi Colter
41. Listen To What The Man Said, Paul Mccartney and Wings
42. I'm Not In Love, 10cc
43. I Can Help, Billy Swan
44. Fallin' In Love, Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds
45. Feelings, Morris Albert
46. Chevy Van, Sammy Johns
47. When Will I Be Loved, Linda Ronstadt
48. You're The First, The Last, My Everthing, Barry White
49. Please Mr Please, Olivia Newton-John
50. You're No Good, Linda Ronstadt
51. Dynomite, Bazuka
52. Walking In Rhythm, Blackbyrds
53. The Way We Were / Try To Remember, Gladys Knight and The Pips
54. Midnight Blue, Melissa Manchester
55. Don't Call Us, We'll Call You, Sugarloaf
56. Poetry Man, Phoebe Snow
57. How Long, Ace
58. Express, B.T. Express
59. That's The Way Of The World, Earth, Wind and Fire
60. Lady, Styx
61. Bad Time, Grand Funk
62. Only Women Bleed, Alice Cooper
63. Doctor's Orders, Carol Douglas
64. Get Down Tonight, K.C. and The Sunshine Band
65. You Are So Beautiful / It's A Sin When You Love Somebody, Joe Cocker
66. One Man Woman-One Woman Man, Paul Anka and Odia Coates
67. Feel Like Makin' Love, Bad Company
68. How Sweet It Is, James Taylor
69. Dance With Me, Orleans
70. Cut The Cake, Average White Band
71. Never Can Say Goodbye, Gloria Gaynor
72. I Don't Like To Sleep Alone, Paul Anka
73. Morning Side Of The Mountain, Donny and Marie Osmond
74. Some Kind Of Wonderful, Grand Funk
75. When Will I See You Again, Three Degrees
76. Get Down, Get Down (Get On The Floor), Joe Simon
77. I'm Sorry / Calypso, John Denver
78. Killer Queen, Queen
79. Shoeshine Boy, Eddie Kendricks
80. Do It (Til You're Satisfied), B.T. Express
81. Can't Get It Out Of My Head, Electric Light Orchestra
82. Sha-La-La (Makes Me Happy), Al Green
83. Lonely People, America
84. You Got The Love, Rufus
85. The Rockford Files, Mike Pos
86. It Only Takes A Minute, Tavares
87. No No Song / Snookeroo, Ringo Starr
88. Junior's Farm / Sally G, Paul McCartney and Wings
89. Bungle In The Jungle, Jethro Tull
90. Long Tall Glasses (I Can Dance), Leo Sayer
91. Someone Saved My Life Tonight, Elton John
92. Misty, Ray Stevens
93. Bad Blood, Neil Sedaka
94. Only Yesterday, Carpenters
95. I'm On Fire, Dwight Twilley Band
96. Only You, Ringo Starr
97. Third Rate Romance, Amazing Rhythm Aces
98. You Aint Seen Nothin' Yet / Free Wheelin', Bachman-Turner Overdrive
99. Swearin' To God, Frankie Valli
100. Get Dancin', Disco Tex and The Sex-O-lettes

Man, there was alot crapola that year. Then again, I think I was more into Elvis Costello, Pink Floyd and The Ramones at the time.

Second Meme:

First Record Bought:

I don't remember the title, but it was some Ray Conniff record, 'Everybody's Talking,' mabye?

First Concert:

I attended a String Quartet concert in 9th grade, but the first rock concert was by a Brazilian covers band doing Zeppelin, Floyd and Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

Favourite Music Movie:

Talking Heads 'Stop Making Sense'

Favourite Music Book:

'Mozart: A Life,' by Maynard Solomon.

Favourite Songwriter:

This is hard, but if I have to pick one, I'd say Nick Drake

Favourite Producer:

The Beatles' producer: George Martin

Favourite Record Label:

Even if most of their artists are unheard of by the masses, Magnatune gets my nod for their innovative practices. I wish more companies did business like they do.

Favourite Magazine:

I am sick as unto death of their lefty biases, but Uncut is an amazing read. With great articles and reviews, and a CD each issue with new music, it's my dream Music Mag.

Favourite Bassist:

Paul McCartney.

Favourite Album Cover:

Hmm. As a teen I always looked forward to the latest Carly Simon album, for reasons that would be obvious, if you were familiar with her work.

Favourite Teen Idol:

I was never into Teen Idols as a teen. I guess most recently I'd have said Britney Spears.

Artist Who Broke Your Heart:

Whuh? You're kidding, right? Okay, I guess when Elliott Smith and Kurt Cobain committed suicide it really hit me hard.

Artist You Will Always Believe In:

Null set. I don't 'believe' in artists. I am inspired by their art, but most artists I've met are seriously lacking in 'believability.' Sorry.

Singer Who Makes Your Skin Crawl:

Barbra Streisand. Always has, always will.

Singer Who Makes You Swoon:

I'm only the slightest bit facetious, but Daniel T. of the legendary band The Swoon gave me chills every time he sang 'Whose Hands Are These?'

Otherwise, current slightly better-known singers that send me: Jose Gonzalez, and Karen Peris.

Favourite Sound:

When my daughters giggle. And when they sing.

Album You Will Always Defend:

I don't feel the need to defend artists, but I think that Britney Spears has been maligned unfairly for most of her career. She's not a great singer, but she's a great entertainer, and 'Oops, I Did It Again' was a pretty good album. It sold bajillions of copies, and yet no one will cop to liking it. I did.

Album You Own That No One Else Does:

Obviously it can't be something that literally 'No One Else Owns,' but I have a copy or two of The Swoon's cassette-only final project 'Spectacular Illusion,' as well as a copy of the band's guitarist Austin D's brilliant home-made cassette doodles (mastered in my living-room). Only a few dozen copies were ever made of either of those projects, and I maintain they are brilliant.

Classic Album You Own but Don't Like:

I don't quite know what constitutes 'classic' but I've never really been much a fan of anything by the Beach Boys. I picked up Brian Wilson's 'Smile' recently on the heels of the great press it got when the official version finally saw the light of day and was completely underwhelmed.

Artist You're Supposed to Like but Don't:

Bruce Springsteen. His Working-Man schtick has served him well for over 30 years, bringing him both fame and fortune, yet ever since both Time and Newsweek proclaimed him the Next Big Thing in the mid-70's I've been baffled at the appeal of the man. He huffs, he puffs, he yells, but that does not a great singer make, and other than the first half of 'Nebraska,' I have never been able to bring myself to listen more than once to anything he's released.

Song You Can't Stand by an Artist You Like:

Bob Dylan's 'Like A Rolling Stone.' I know it's a classic, and all, but it has never done anything for me. Dylan's written some of the best songs of the modern era, but that one: meh.

Band That Should Break Up:

Their Satanic Majesties: The Rolling Stones. Sure, they're legends, and all, but come on, retire with some dignity, fellows. Okay, The Stones can stay if Van Halen goes. David Lee Roth needs to go back to being a paramedic. Wait, lemme change my answer: The Dixie Chicks are back in vogue this year, but they aren't really any better than they've ever been. As best I can tell, they won their Album Of The Year Grammy for nothing more than still being snotty and PO'd at Dubyuh. I could accept all their self-righteous left-wing posing if they wrote decent and compelling music. They don't. Give *them* the hook.

Band That Should Re-form:

The House Of Love: maybe not as great as Oasis, but better then Stone Roses, one of England's finest bands of the 80's and 90's. Go watch 'Shine On' and 'I Don't Know Why I Love You' on YouTube, and see what I mean. Well, okay, they *did* reform in 2005, and even released the amazing 'Days Run Away' to critical acclaim, and lukewarm sales. The album never even saw release in the States, and the band has faded - again - back into obscurity.

Guilty Pleasure:

Pussycat Doll's. And Eminem. Yeah, I know. I hang my head.

Favourite Music DVD:

Hmm, not much into music DVD's. I guess I have watched some of my U2 concert DVD's a few times, but usually I only watch a concert DVD once, and I don't watch it again for years.

Concert You Wish You'd Seen:

Any one of the various incarnation of Pink Floyd's 'The Wall.' I saw the movie a bunch of times and found it a mess. I wish I'd seen the show.

Dream Collaboration:

I think Elvis Costello and Paul McCartney did an incredible job with 'Veronica,' so I'll say those two.

Okay, that's enough for this post.