Monday, April 30, 2007

Music Monday - Grab Bag




'Black The Sun'
Alex Lloyd

+++++




'Creep'
Sad Kermit
(f-bomb version)

+++++




'I Don't Know Why I Love You'
The House Of Love

+++++




'First Of May' (live)
Jonathan Coulton
(send the kiddies out of the room - no, really)

+++++




'Mister Bojangles' (live)
Sammy Davis Jr.

+++++


Sunday, April 29, 2007

Another Made-Up Meme


A Made-Up Minnesota-Based Meme


Five Twin Cities Museums:


01 - A museum you adore visiting on your lunch hour:

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts

02 - A world-class modern art museum that just doesn't appeal to you:

The Weisman Art Museum

03 - A museum you love to take the kids to visit:

The Science Museum of Minnesota

04 - A museum you've never visited but would like to:

The Minnesota Air National Guard Museum

05 - A museum you've been to several times, but haven't yet taken the kids:

Historic Fort Snelling


Five Great Twin Cities Stores:


01 - Best store, overall:

Nordstrom - Mall of America

02 - Best store for jeans (tall guys, too):

Schatzlein - Minneapolis

03 - Best Recorded Music Store:

The Electric Fetus - Minneapolis

04 - Best Computer Store:

Microcenter - St. Louis Park

05 - Best Food Store

Kowalksi's - Variouis Metro Locations


Five Minnesota Towns:


01 - A town where you lived while you went to college:

Arden Hills

02 - A town where you've worked for over twenty years:

Minneapolis

03 - A town where you and your spouse honeymooned:

Two Harbors

04 & 05 - Two towns you love to visit for a day trip:

Red Wing
Stillwater

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Random Saturday Night Blather


It's strange, during most days of the week, all day long, I think of things that I want to write about here, but by the time the end of the day rolls around, I'm often too tired to write anything at all. What's more, even when I have the time and energy to post, I tend to forget all those Very Important Things that I'd wanted to write about. I have a 60-second voice memo feature on my cell phone, maybe I need to use it to make 'notes' when the inspiration strikes me. Then again, I can well imagine ending up with dozens of voice memos that I never get around to using.


+++++


I got eight year-old Daughter Number One AE a digital camera for her birthday, and she's been utterly tickled with it. I must say, it's not a great camera, and there are a number of features about it that I find limiting and/or annoying, but it's actually not a bad camera for a kid her age. I'm really glad Mrs. Muzzy went along with the idea when I broached the subject, especially since I had nothing else up my sleeve. Anyway, she really likes it. I used to teach photography, and I'm going to have to take AE out to the park and give her some pointers on lighting and composition.

+++++


I've posted very little about American Idol this year, not because I haven't been watching, but just because I haven't managed to get myself worked up about it. So, Sanjaya is gone. I should be overjoyed, right? Well, you know, he wasn't a good singer, and there is no way he could have won the competition, but he was entertaining, and maybe that alone was worth keeping him around all these weeks. I'm not really sorry he's gone, but the show will be alot less interesting without him.

Of the final six, there are only three I could see being the American Idol, and I'll go on record as saying that they are: Melinda, Jordin and Chris. The other three are good but dispensable. The next to go? Probably Phil. He's got a good voice, and he's a nice guy, but he's not the next American Idol. And neither is Lekisha. Melinda is far and away the best singer, but at this point I'm naming Jordin as the winner.

+++++


I noted in an earlier post that I've been really sick this week, so sick, in fact, that I ended up in the Emergency Room at Saint Paul Regions Hospital on Thursday night, in the same hospital where daughter number two LK was born. While it turns out that I wasn't really in any danger, I didn't know that at the time I checked in.

I'd gone in to the ER alone, mostly because my condition didn't seem to warrant calling an ambulance. Mrs. Muzzy needed to get the kids to bed, and I didn't really know anyone outside my MIL or FIL who could easily get to our house in reasonable time to take me. It occurred to me later that I really don't have alot of friends, or at least none I could call on short notice for something like this.

Anyway, as I lay on the gurney for those couple or three hours, hooked up to oxygen and monitors, I did alot of thinking: what if it *was* my time to go? I *was* scared, to be sure, but oddly enough, I wasn't really as scared as I was worried, though I'm hard-pressed to say why. I guess I was more scared about ending up an invalid than actually dying, but either way, I was mostly worried about my little girls, and how they'd be if something happened to me.

I was told that I shouldn't use my cellphone in the room, but the nurse brought me over a wired phone which I used to call Mrs. Muzzy. I gave her an update, chatted for a couple of minutes, and then we said goodbye, as if everything were fine. Of course, I had no way of knowing that, and neither did she.

But then I got to wondering: what if I were told right then and there that I had but, say, one hour or two left to live, who else might I call, who else might I tell? Or would I tell anyone? Would anyone else call *me* if they were in a similar situation? I dunno. I almost think not. I cringed as I considered all the people in my life I should have called this past week, should have written to, should have thanked. I'm afraid have always been a bit too selfish with my time, and have not always been a very good friend.

In the end it was pronounced that I had nothing more life-threatening going on than an Upper Respiratory Infection, and I was discharged with instructions to follow-up with my primary care physician in the coming week. Thing is, even a pedestrian diagnosis like URI could still have be deadly, and the evening could have ended much differently than it did. And, of course, it's quite likely that things *will* end very differently one fine day, in the near or distant future.

I'm left to think that maybe the lesson for me is that - however unlikely it might be on any given day - the end *can* come for any of us, at any time. Maybe it's a wise idea to consider living life in such a way so as to be ready for that possibility - to live every single day with no regrets. I think I need to try to do a better job of that.

But first I have to get well.

+++++


Autism News


From News-Medical:



Developmental problems for siblings of autistic children

Tuesday, 24-Apr-2007

Younger siblings of children with autism are at risk to suffer from delayed verbal, cognitive and motor development in their early childhood years.

This finding is the result of a research project carried out by a staff headed by Prof. Nurit Yirmiya and doctoral candidate Yifat Gamliel of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Dr. Marian Sigman of the University of California, Los Angeles.

In their research, they found that some siblings of children with autism , ranging from fourteen months to four and half years -- were diagnosed with delayed verbal, cognitive and motor development. After the age of four and a half, most of those children were able to close the gap between their development and that of other children of the same age who had siblings with normal development, except for some small delays in verbal abilities.

The results of this research have been published in a special issue of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders that was devoted entirely to the subject of diagnosis of autism in very young children. The issue was edited by Prof. Nurit Yirmiya and by Prof. Sally Ozonoff of the M.I.N.D. Institute at the University of California, Davis. They reported finding that 30 percent of those children with older siblings with autism were found to have delayed development in the three areas studied, as opposed to only 5 percent in a comparison group (children whose siblings did not suffer from autism).

The reasons for this phenomenon, says Prof. Yirmiya, can be traced to the genetic tendency of children in the former group to carry an endophenotype of autism (an hereditary characteristic that is normally associated with some condition but is not a direct symptom of that condition). "Siblings of children with autism are likely to inherit genes that will cause a weakened expression of autistic symptoms," she explained. These can take the form of delayed linguistic abilities, difficulties in expressing feelings and in making eye contact, and in social interaction.



Read the rest here.

One Last Chocolate Post


Roll your own.

Even More Good News For Chocoholics


From BBC News:



Chocolate 'better than kissing'

When it comes to tongues, melting chocolate is better than a passionate kiss, scientists have found.

Couples in their 20s had their heart rates and brains monitored whilst they first melted chocolate in their mouths and then kissed.

Chocolate caused a more intense and longer lasting "buzz" than kissing, and doubled volunteers' heart rates.

The research was carried out by Dr David Lewis, formerly of the University of Sussex, and now of the Mind Lab.

Experts, concerned at growing levels of obesity throughout the developed world, warn that chocolate should only be consumed in moderation.

Dr Lewis said: "There is no doubt that chocolate beats kissing hands down when it comes to providing a long-lasting body and brain buzz.

"A buzz that, in many cases, lasted four times as long as the most passionate kiss."



Read the rest here.

Good News For Chocoholics


From Science Daily:



Cocoa, But Not Tea, May Lower Blood Pressure

Science Daily — Foods rich in cocoa appear to reduce blood pressure but drinking tea may not, according to an analysis of previously published research in the April 9 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Current guidelines advise individuals with hypertension (high blood pressure) to eat more fruits and vegetables, according to background information in the article. Compounds known as polyphenols or flavonoids in fruits and vegetables are thought to contribute to their beneficial effects on blood pressure and cardiovascular risk. "Tea and cocoa products account for the major proportion of total polyphenol intake in Western countries," the authors write. "However, cocoa and tea are currently not implemented in cardioprotective or anti-hypertensive dietary advice, although both have been associated with lower incidences of cardiovascular events."

Dirk Taubert, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues at the University Hospital of Cologne, Germany, conducted a meta-analysis of 10 previously published trials, five of cocoa's effects on blood pressure and five involving tea. All results were published between 1966 and 2006, involved at least 10 adults and lasted a minimum of seven days. The studies were either randomized trials, in which some participants were randomly assigned to cocoa or tea groups and some to control groups, or used a crossover design, in which participants' blood pressure was assessed before and after consuming cocoa products or tea.

The five cocoa studies involved 173 participants, including 87 assigned to consume cocoa and 86 controls, 34 percent of whom had hypertension (high blood pressure). They were followed for a median (middle) duration of two weeks. Four of the five trials reported a reduction in both systolic (the top number, when the heart contracts) and diastolic (the bottom number, when the heart relaxes) blood pressure. Compared with those who were not consuming cocoa, systolic blood pressure was an average of 4.7 millimeters of mercury lower and diastolic blood pressure was an average of 2.8 millimeters of mercury lower.



Read the rest here.

Messin' With Sasquatch - Salt Shaker Prank




Busking DC


From the Washington Post:



Pearls Before Breakfast

Can one of the nation's great musicians cut through the fog of a D.C. rush hour?

Let's find out.

By Gene Weingarten
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 8, 2007; Page W10

HE EMERGED FROM THE METRO AT THE L'ENFANT PLAZA STATION AND POSITIONED HIMSELF AGAINST A WALL BESIDE A TRASH BASKET. By most measures, he was nondescript: a youngish white man in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. From a small case, he removed a violin. Placing the open case at his feet, he shrewdly threw in a few dollars and pocket change as seed money, swiveled it to face pedestrian traffic, and began to play.

It was 7:51 a.m. on Friday, January 12, the middle of the morning rush hour. In the next 43 minutes, as the violinist performed six classical pieces, 1,097 people passed by. Almost all of them were on the way to work, which meant, for almost all of them, a government job. L'Enfant Plaza is at the nucleus of federal Washington, and these were mostly mid-level bureaucrats with those indeterminate, oddly fungible titles: policy analyst, project manager, budget officer, specialist, facilitator, consultant.

Each passerby had a quick choice to make, one familiar to commuters in any urban area where the occasional street performer is part of the cityscape: Do you stop and listen? Do you hurry past with a blend of guilt and irritation, aware of your cupidity but annoyed by the unbidden demand on your time and your wallet? Do you throw in a buck, just to be polite? Does your decision change if he's really bad? What if he's really good? Do you have time for beauty? Shouldn't you? What's the moral mathematics of the moment?

On that Friday in January, those private questions would be answered in an unusually public way. No one knew it, but the fiddler standing against a bare wall outside the Metro in an indoor arcade at the top of the escalators was one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made. His performance was arranged by The Washington Post as an experiment in context, perception and priorities -- as well as an unblinking assessment of public taste: In a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?

The musician did not play popular tunes whose familiarity alone might have drawn interest. That was not the test. These were masterpieces that have endured for centuries on their brilliance alone, soaring music befitting the grandeur of cathedrals and concert halls.

The acoustics proved surprisingly kind. Though the arcade is of utilitarian design, a buffer between the Metro escalator and the outdoors, it somehow caught the sound and bounced it back round and resonant. The violin is an instrument that is said to be much like the human voice, and in this musician's masterly hands, it sobbed and laughed and sang -- ecstatic, sorrowful, importuning, adoring, flirtatious, castigating, playful, romancing, merry, triumphal, sumptuous.

So, what do you think happened?



Read the rest here.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Friday Night Videos - Aussie Potpourri




'Where The Wild Roses Grow'
Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue

+++++




'Across The Night'
Silverchair

+++++




'Steer'
Missy Higgins

+++++




'One Crowded Hour'
Augie March

+++++




'Hello'
The Cat Empire

+++++


Special thanks to
Guest VJ DRJ


Thursday Night Fun



I've been sick with a cold for the past few days: sore throat, achy, runny nose, that sort of thing. But a couple of days ago I started coughing alot, and developed a dull pain in my chest, just above the sternum. I had been feeling lousy all day, and was debating yesterday afternoon whether to go in to see the doctor.

Thing is, my dad died at 51 years of age of a heart attack, and when I first started having chest pains about fifteen years ago - when I was in my mid-thirties - I freaked out. My doctor had me evaluated extensively, and determined that I was suffering from osteochondritis and/or a hiatal hernia, with esophogeal reflux.

Anyway, around that time I began walking for exercise, lost about 25 pounds, and lowered my blood pressure. I found that most of the time when I *do* get chest pain, it's something that actually goes away after a brisk walk.

In the past few years I have gotten a bit soft, put on a wee bit of the weight I'd lost, and my BP has begun the creep back up some. So as of the first of this year I resolved to start walking more, and to try to get in 20-40 minutes per day of aerobic-type walking every day - or more.

I have actualay been doing fairly well. For example, this last Monday I walked for over an hour during my lunch hour. I wear a pedometer every day, and try to get in at least 10,000 steps a day. I have a good number of physical problems, but I seem to be in fairly decent cardiovascular shape.

So I was a little taken aback yesterday evening when I called my HMO's nurse line about my cold symptoms and mentioned chest pain, that I was told to get myself to the Emergency Room as soon as possible. And that was how I found myself sitting in a wheelchair at the Saint Paul Regions Hospital ER at 8:30 pm, having my vitals taken by the triage nurse.

I had driven myself there, against the strongly-worded suggestion of the HMO nurse that I find someone else to take me, but I really didn't feel like I was having a cardiac event. Okay, I know, that was probably foolish of me, but I really felt like I had a bad cold, with an upper respiratory infection, and I was just going in to be seen because the nurse on the HMO line had been so insistent.

After a few minutes wait, I was wheeled into Exam Room 1, told to remove my shirt and put on a gown, and lie down on a too-short bed-like gurney. In short order an oxygen line was attached to my nostrils, electrodes were attached to my chest, a BP cuff was attached to my left arm, a line was started in my right arm for several vials of blood to be taken, and a pulse-ox was attached to my right index finger. (I was kind of freaked out to see that my BP was 175/105, when it's usually in the normal range.)

Over the next couple of hours I dealt with several nurses and two doctors, all of whom seemed to have a need to ask me the same questions I'd answered for the triage nurse, over and over and over: 'how long have you had this pan?' and 'on a scale of one to ten, how bad is it?' and 'do you smoke?' I didn't really mind, but it was bizarre, as if none of the people were talking to each other. Or maybe it was all designed to see if I was giving consistent information. Who knows? Anyway, they also did an EKG and a chest x-ray, after which I was left to wait for another hour or so before they finally decided what was going on, and what to do about it.

In the meantime I told one of the nurses that I needed to pee. BTW, Men don't really 'pee,' you know, they 'take a piss' but that sounds too vulgar, right? Anyway, the nurse produced one of those little pitcher-like things that they call urinals, pulled the curtain, and I did my business. It was only after I was done that I looked up at the wall and noticed the security camera pointing right at me. Meh. I hope someone got a thrill.

Anyway, after having been seen by both Dr. S and Dr. J - two young female docs, both nearly young enough to have been my daughters - I was told that it did not appear that I was having a cardiac event, that I did, in fact, have an upper respiratory infection. They gave me some discharge papers, and sent me on my way rejoicing.

I got home around midnight. but of course, I was feeling rotten and wasn't able to get to sleep right away, and when I did, I didn't sleep well, called in sick to work this AM, and have laid around all day. I still feel lousy, am coughing alot, still have a bit of chest pain, and my sinuses feel like they are filled with cement. Now I have to follow the discharge nurse's orders and make a follow-up appointment with my primary care physician. And so it goes. Sigh.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Made Up Meme: Five Books, Ten Films, Twenty Songs


Five Books:


01- A book from which you've learned alot:

The 48 Laws of Power - Robert Greene

02 - A book about a doomed love affair that resonated deeply with you:

Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

03 - A book you read with a sense of awe and wonder:

The Book of the Dun Cow - Walter Wangerin

04 - A book you've read again and again:

A Mencken Chrestomathy - HL Mencken

05 - A book you've never read but want to:

100 Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez


+++++


Ten Films:


01 - A great film you've watched in the last three months:

Central Station

02 & 03 - A pair of films you've checked out of the library several times but keep having to return, unwatched:

Before Sunrise and Before Sunset

04 - A film that left you slack-jawed the first time you saw it:

2001 - A Space Odyssey

05 - A film that's the most violent thing you've ever seen:

Straw Dogs

06 - A film you that touched your soul, and perfectly mirrored your unexpressed thoughts and feelings at the time you watched it:

Lost In Translation

07 - A film that made you laugh out loud:

Monty Python's Meaning of Life

08 - A film that you found horrific and inspiring at the same time:

The Passion of the Christ

09 - A film classic that you just didn't get:

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

10 - A film classic that you found just about perfect in every way:

Casablanca

+++++


Twenty Songs:


01 - A song that makes you smile:

Simon Smith And The Amazing Dancing Bear - Randy Newman

02 - A song that somehow sounded exactly how you felt when you first heard it:

Read My Mind - The Killers

03 - A song that makes you want to get up and dance:

Play That Funky Music White Boy - Wild Cherry

04 - A song that leaves you in a wistful and melancholic state:

Twilight - Elliott Smith

05 - A song that makes you feel hopeful:

Morning Has Broken - Gaelic Hymn by Eleanor Farjeon

06 - A song that astonishes you with the complexity of its lyrics and the texture of its music:

Cosmia - Joanna Newsom

07 - A song that still sounds as hauntingly beautiful today as the first time you heard it over 35 years ago:

Because - The Beatles

08 - A song you wish you'd written

Wonderwall - Oasis

09 - A song that you just don't get:

Born In The USA - Bruce Springsteen

10 - A song that you very much DO get:

Shine On You Crazy Diamond - Pink Floyd

11 - A song that will always remind you of your first teenage crush:

My Sweet Lord - George Harrison

12 - A song that is absolutely perfect:

Pink Moon - Nick Drake

13 - A song that celebrates the joys of springtime outdoor coitus, about which you feel pretty sheepish for liking anywhere near as much as you do:

First Of May - Jonathan Coulton

14 - A song that sends an aching shiver down your spine:

Mad World - Gary Jules

15 - A song that encapsulates how you felt during all your dating years, and sometimes even to this day:

Creep - Radiohead

16 - A song that is stuck in your head at this very moment:

You Know I'm No Good - Amy Winehouse

17 - A song that you never grow tired of hearing:

I Don't Know Why I Love You - The House Of Love

18 - A song that is a guilty pleasure of yours:

Beep - Pussycat Dolls

19 - A song that makes you tear up:

Veronica - Elvis Costello

20 - A song that you want played at your funeral:

Be Thou My Vision - Irish Hymn

+++++


Saturday, April 21, 2007

I'm Not Feeling So Well, Myself


Who Is Sick?



How to use Who Is Sick?

1) Post sickness information onto the Map (completely anonymous).
2) Search and filter for Sicknesses by location, time, symptoms, sex, age and keywords
3) Discuss issues, ask questions and give feedback
4) Summary analytics show sickness trends and current outbreaks



From The 'WTH?' Files


From Reuters:



Indian teachers "purify" students with cow urine

Sat Apr 21, 2007
7:47AM BST

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Indian teachers sprinkled cow urine on low-caste students to purify them and drive away evil, reports said on Saturday, in a country where millions of people remain oppressed at the bottom of the ancient Hindu caste system.

Upper-caste headteacher Sharad Kaithade ordered the ritual after taking over from a lower-caste predecessor at a school in a remote village in the western state of Maharashtra earlier this month, the Times of India reported.

He told an upper-caste colleague to spray cow urine in a cleansing ceremony as the students were taking an examination, wetting their faces and their answer sheets, the newspaper said.

"She said you'll study well after getting purified," student Rajat Washnik was quoted as saying by the CNN-IBN news channel. Students said they felt humiliated.



Read the rest here.

Get Off The Couch


From the University of Minnesota School Of Public Health:



Physical Activity Reduces Hypertension Risk in Young Adults

(April 12, 2007) -- Young adults who spend more time participating in physical activity have a reduced risk of developing high blood pressure within the next 15 years, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota.

Research published in the April 2007 issue of the American Journal of Public Health found that young adults who exercised an average of five times a week and expended 300 calories per exercise session experienced a 17 percent reduction in the risk of developing hypertension.

In addition, study participants who maintained or increased their total time participating in physical activity from the start of the study to the finish decreased their risk of high blood pressure by 11 percent for every 1,500 calories they burned weekly.

"This study is the first of its kind to examine the link between physical activity and hypertension in young adults," said David Jacobs, Ph.D., study co-author and professor of epidemiology and community health at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. "The study further confirms evidence that physical activity is related to hypertension."

Jacobs and colleague Emily Parker, lead author of the study and doctoral student at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, analyzed data from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study, which tracked physical activity and measured blood pressure levels in nearly 4,000 men and women over a 15-year period.

Overall, 634 adults developed cases of hypertension over the 15 years of follow-up. After adjusting for race, age, sex, education, and family history, data showed that those participants who were more physically active experienced a reduced risk for hypertension compared with those who were less physically active. "This study shows that physical activity should be considered in the prevention of hypertension in young adults," said Jacobs. "This link gives people another reason to increase their levels of exercise and remain physically active."

This study was supported by the National Health, Lung, and Blood Institute



Super Models




DAZ Galleries - Hall of Fame
DAZ Productions
3D Models, 3D Content, and 3D Software


Poetry In Motion


I just bought Carla Bruni's latest CD, and, well, read on...

From the NY Sun:



February 2, 2007

The Supermodel School of Poetry

BY BRENDAN BERNHARD

February 2, 2007

There is something to be said for the silence of the page. On it, a poem — three neat quatrains, say — can speak, indestructibly, to the eye, ear, and mind.

But there is also something to be said for singing along. Recently I found myself doing just that to a poem by, of all people, Emily Dickinson, as performed by, of all people, Carla Bruni, the Italian ex-supermodel and ex-girlfriend of Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton, and Donald Trump. Dickinson's poem, "I Went to Heaven," is featured on Ms. Bruni's new album, "No Promises." On it, she sets to music poems by W.B. Yeats, Dorothy Parker, Walter de la Mare, W.H. Auden, and Christina Rossetti, among others.

To the strumming of an acoustic guitar, the Dickinson poem — or can it now also be classified as a song lyric? — begins:

I went to Heaven
‘Twas a small Town
Lit, with a Ruby
Lathed, with Down
Stiller, than the fields
At the full Dew
Beautiful, as Pictures
No Man drew.

As you might expect, it's very beautiful. Paul Muldoon, who won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for poetry and has co-written rock songs himself (he collaborated with the late Warren Zevon), has not heard Ms. Bruni's album, but said, "anything that expands our sense of what poetry might be, that poetry is not a scary object written by a bunch of dead guys to be held at arms' length, is really good news."

Mr. Muldoon pointed out that much of Dickinson's poetry is written "in what is essentially a hymn structure," and can therefore readily be set to music. "It's almost impossible not to be able to set it to music," he said.

Even poetry-lovers have poets they don't quite "get." For me, Dickinson has been one of them. The revelation in hearing her verse sung was that I no longer really needed to. Because I was enjoying the music, Dickinson's words (which become progressively stranger as the poem proceeds) were able to seduce me slowly, hypnotically, because a successful pop song is, by definition, something listened to repeatedly. That's why it's a stroke of genius to place poems that might strike some as off-puttingly archaic on the page in a pop setting: The music does the work for you, while the words can seep slowly into your mind.

Ms. Bruni, 39, has a small, husky voice whose charm lies in its tousled, just-got-out-of-bed timbre. She recently told the Times of London that she began reading English and American poetry in order to find inspiration for her own songwriting. And then the idea came simply to record the poems she was reading. People have done this before — Joni Mitchell and Van Morrison have each recorded a poem by Yeats, and Leonard Cohen has sung poems by Lorca and Byron. In 2002, the Scottish singer James Grant released an excellent album of poetry, "I Shot the Albatross"; last summer, the American Kris Delmhorst released "Strange Conversation," a CD based on poems by Walt Whitman, George Eliot, Robert Browning, and others; and Deb Talan of The Weepies set an Edna St. Vincent Millay poem to music in 2001.

But Ms. Bruni may be the first bona fide pop star (her last album, 2003's "Quelqu'un M'a Dit," sold 2 million copies) to make an entire record out of great poems while barely changing a word other than to repeat lines as substitute-refrains.

"No Promises" will be released as an import on the Naïve label on February 4 (much of it can be heard for free at carlabruni.com and myspace.com/carlabruni), and in France and Germany it is expected to be a hit. Some of the interpretations are questionable, and Ms. Bruni's pronunciation, despite the coaching of British songstress Marianne Faithfull, is uneven, if charmingly so. A video in which Ms. Bruni, looking très supermodel, is driven around Paris as she sings another Dickinson poem, "If You Were Coming in the Fall," may be one of the more spectacular mismatches between word and image in the history of, well, music videos. On the other hand, the opening lines — "If you were coming in the fall / I'd brush the summer by / With half a smile and half a spurn / As housewives do a fly" — do sound unexpectedly rock 'n' roll.



Read the rest here.

Messin' With Sasquatch




Nuclear Iran? - VDH


From Imprimis



“Nuclear Iran?”

Victor Davis Hanson
Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution

April 2007

Victor Davis Hanson
is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, a professor emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a distinguished visiting fellow at Hillsdale College. He has a B.A. from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a Ph.D. in classics from Stanford University. He is a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services and has written for several newspapers and journals, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Times, Commentary, the New Republic, the Claremont Review of Books, the Weekly Standard and National Review Online. He serves on the editorial boards of Arion, the Military History Quarterly and City Journal. His books include The Soul of Battle, Carnage and Culture, Mexifornia: A State of Becoming, Ripples of Battle and, most recently, A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War.

The following is adapted from a speech delivered on February 13, 2007, in Fort Myers, Florida, at a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar on the topic, “National Security: Short- and Long-Term Assessments.”

“The skirmishes in the occupied land are part of a war of destiny. The outcome of hundreds of years of war will be defined in Palestinian land. As the Imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map.” So rants Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

It is understandable why Ahmadinejad might want an arsenal of nuclear missiles. It would allow him to shake down a constant stream of rich European emissaries, pressure the Arab Gulf states to lower oil production, pose as the Persian and Shiite messianic leader of Islamic terrorists, neutralize the influence of the United States in the region—and, of course, destroy Israel. Let no one doubt that a nuclear Iran would end the entire notion of peaceful global adjudication of nuclear proliferation and pose an unending threat to civilization itself.

In all his crazed pronouncements, Ahmadinejad reflects an end-of-days view: History is coming to its grand finale under his aegis. In his mind, he entrances even foreign audiences into stupor with his rhetoric. Of his recent United Nations speech he boasted, “I felt that all of a sudden the atmosphere changed there. And for 27-28 minutes all the leaders did not blink.” The name of Ahmadinejad, he supposes, will live for the ages if he takes out the “crusader” interloper in Jerusalem. As the Great Mahdi come back to life, he can do something for the devout not seen since the days of Saladin.

For now, however, Ahmadinejad faces two hurdles: He must get the bomb, and he must create the psychological landscape whereby the world will shrug at Israel’s demise.

Oddly, the first obstacle may not be the hardest. An impoverished Pakistan and North Korea pulled it off. China and Russia will likely sell Tehran anything it cannot get from rogue regimes. The European Union is Iran’s largest trading partner and ships it everything from sophisticated machine tools to sniper rifles, while impotent European diplomats continue “ruling out force” to stop the Iranian nuclear industry. Meanwhile, Moscow and Beijing, for all their expressed concern, will probably veto any serious punitive action by the United Nations.

As for the United States, it has 180,000 troops attempting to establish some sort of democratic stability in Afghanistan and Iraq, not to mention a growing anti-war movement at home. An unpredictable President Bush has less than two years left in the White House, with a majority opposition in Congress that is calling for direct talks with Ahmadinejad and urging congressional restraints on the possible use of force against Iran. It is no surprise that so many in Iran see no barrier to obtaining the bomb.

But the second obstacle—preparing the world for the end of the Jewish state—is trickier.

Ahmadinejad and the Holocaust

True, the Middle East’s secular gospel is anti-Semitism. State-run media in Syria, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan broadcast endless ugly sermons about Jews as “pigs and apes.” Nor do Russia and China much care what happens to Israel, as long as its demise does not affect business. But the West is a different matter. There the history of anti-Semitism looms large, framed by the Holocaust that nearly destroyed European Jewry. Thus the Holocaust is now Ahmadinejad’s target just as much as downtown Tel Aviv.

Holocaust denial is a tired game, but Ahmadinejad’s approach is slightly new and different. He has studied the Western postmodern mind and has devised a strategy based on its unholy trinity of multiculturalism, moral equivalence and cultural relativism. As a third world populist, he expects that his own fascism will escape proper scrutiny if he can recite often enough the past sins of the West. He also understands the appeal of victimology in the West these days. So he knows that to destroy the Israelis, he, not they, must become the victim, and Westerners the aggressors who forced his hand. “So we ask you,” he said recently, “if you indeed committed this great crime, why should the oppressed people of Palestine be punished for it? If you committed a crime, you yourselves should pay for it.”

Ahmadinejad also grasps that there are millions of highly educated but cynical Westerners who see nothing exceptional about their own culture. So if democratic America has nuclear weapons, he asks, why not theocratic Iran? “Your arsenals are full to the brim, yet when it’s the turn of a nation such as mine to develop peaceful nuclear technology, you object and resort to threats.”

Moreover, he knows how Western relativism works. Who is to say what are facts or what is true, given the tendency of the powerful to “construct” their own narratives and call the result “history”? So he says that the Holocaust was exaggerated, or perhaps even fabricated, as mere jails became “death camps” through a trick of language in order to persecute the poor Palestinians. We laugh at all this as absurd. We should not.

Money, oil and threats have gotten the Iranian theocrats to the very threshold of a nuclear arsenal. Their uncanny diagnosis of Western malaise has now convinced them that they can carefully fabricate a Holocaust-free reality in which Muslims are the victims and Jews the aggressors, setting the stage for Ahmadinejad’s “righteously” aggrieved Iran, after “hundreds of years of war,” to set things right.

In the midst of all this passive-aggressive noisemaking, the Iranian government pushes insidiously forward with nuclear development—perhaps pausing when it has gone too far in order to allow some negotiations, but then getting right back at it. Nuclear acquisition for Ahmadinejad is a win/win proposition. If he obtains nuclear weapons and restores lost Persian grandeur, it will remind a restless Iranian populace how the theocrats are nationalists after all, not just pan-Islamic provocateurs. And a nuclear Iran could create all sorts of mini-crises in the region in order to spike oil prices, given world demand for oil.

The Islamic world and the front line enemies of Israel lost their Middle Eastern nuclear deterrent with the collapse of the Soviet Union; no surprise, then, that we have not seen a multilateral conventional attack on Israel ever since. But with a nuclear Iran, the mullahs can puff themselves up with a guarantee that a new coalition against Israel would not be humiliated or annihilated when it lost—since the Iranians could always, Soviet-like, threaten to go nuclear. And there are always enough crazies in Arab capitals to imagine that at last the combined armies of the Middle East could defeat Israel, with the knowledge that in case of failure, they could recede safely back under an Islamic nuclear umbrella.

Reasons for Action

How many times have we heard the following arguments?

* “Israel has nuclear weapons, so why single out Iran?”
* “Pakistan got nukes and we lived with it.”
* “Who is to say the United States or Russia should have the bomb and not other countries?”
* “Iran has promised to use its reactors for peaceful purposes, so why demonize the regime?”

In fact, the United States has at least six reasons for singling out Iran to halt its nuclear development program—and it is past time that we spell them out to the world at large.



Read the whole article here.



There and Back Again


From The New Yorker:



The soul of the commuter.

by Nick Paumgarten
April 16, 2007

People may endure miserable commutes out of an inability to weigh their general well-being against quantifiable material gains.

Last year, Midas, the muffler company, in honor of its fiftieth anniversary, gave an award for America’s longest commute to an engineer at Cisco Systems, in California, who travels three hundred and seventy-two miles—seven hours—a day, from the Sierra foothills to San Jose and back. “It’s actually exhilarating,” the man said of his morning drive. “When I get in, I’m pumped up, ready to go.” People like to compare commutes, to complain or boast about their own and, depending on whether their pride derives from misery or efficiency, to exaggerate the length or the brevity of their trip. People who feel they have smooth, manageable commutes tend to evangelize. Those who hate the commute think of it as a core affliction, like a chronic illness. Once you raise the subject, the testimonies pour out, and, if your ears are tuned to it, you begin overhearing commute talk everywhere: mode of transport, time spent on train/interstate/treadmill/homework help, crossword-puzzle aptitude—limitless variations on a stock tale. People who are normally circumspect may, when describing their commutes, be unexpectedly candid in divulging the intimate details of their lives. They have it all worked out, down to the number of minutes it takes them to shave or get stuck at a particular light. But commuting is like sex or sleep: everyone lies. It is said that doctors, when they ask you how much you drink, will take the answer and double it. When a commuter says, “It’s an hour, door-to-door,” tack on twenty minutes.



Read the rest here.

Making Friends With Chelsea Peretti - #3




Making Friends With Chelsea Peretti - #2




Making Friends With Chelsea Peretti - #1




Rated NW for Naughty Words.
So, you've been warned.
But it is pretty funny.


Amy Winehouse


Last night's Friday Night Videos was made up of all Amy Winehouse videos, and I'm here to declare that - barring some entirely possible booze-fueled melt-down on her part - the woman is destined for greatness, and will quite likely win a Grammy. At merely 23 years of age, possessed the swagger of a Courtney Love, the grit of a Tina Turner, and the vocal phrasing of a Billie Holiday, she belongs in the company the all-time great female singers of the past century. So if you haven't already, go watch each of last night's Friday Night Videos. If you aren't as smitten as I am when you're done, go back and watch again, until you are. You're gonna thank me.

Like Chocolate For People


This past week's massacre by lone gunman Seung-Hui Cho at Virginia Tech was the most murderous in United States history, but there have been many other similar such events. In nearly every instance, the media - whether print, radio or TV - seem to go out of their way to find and interview friends, relatives and neighbors of the instigator who proclaim that they never imagined he or she might have been capable of such a thing. In the majority of such cases those being interviewed proclaim the essential goodness and decency of the person in question: he was always ready to help a neighbor, she was good with kids, he always seemed like a nice guy. How could they have been so wrong?

I don't mean to imply that I think any of the actors in these dramas are necessarily insincere, or even incorrect. In fact it's entirely likely that, indeed, each of the persons interviewed is giving a true and honest account of the person to whom they were referring, as they understand them. It's important to acknowledge that we all have many sides to our personalities, and most people only see but one or two facets. But whenever I see or hear such stories I'm reminded of just how clueless we so often are as to the full state of another's mind.

It isn't so much that there is nothing we can understand of other people by their behavior, or the things they say, because we very much can. There are clues writ small and large across the lives of others that we ignore at our peril. It isn't that we can't know anything, but more that we can't know everything. We make assessments of other individuals based on our experience and knowledge of human psychology, but we are nearly always operating on incomplete intelligence.

Thing is, all too often we do and say things - or fail to do or say them - that are incongruent with how we really feel, acting out of shame, guilt, or greed, or sometimes simply out of confusion. We are complex creatures, churning cauldrons of conflicting desires and impulses, endless swamps of contradictions. Love, lust, compassion, rage, tenderness: they all swirl around in us, popping up by turn like in some emotional game of Whack-A-Mole.

Even when we ask another person outright as to their thoughts and feelings, we rarely get a full account, not necessarily because we are being lied to - although that happens often enough - but because the object of our interest may not even be entirely sure, themselves. And in any case, few of us will easily give up the totality of what we think and feel. We were taught as children that honesty is the best policy, but we learn very early on the potentially disastrous consequences of complete candor the first time we tell Auntie how ugly her hat is.

Additionally, speaking for myself, I've made the mistake of far too often projecting my own fears and insecurities onto my relationships with others. I will often find myself parsing someone's words and behavior - or, much more often, their lack of the same - for esoteric meaning, and usually assuming the worst, although sometimes, even when I assume the best, I'm often wrong.

For example. if someone walks past me at work and fails to greet me - or fails to say good-bye, at the end of the day - I often find myself thinking that they must be upset with me, when in fact they may just have been deep in thought. Likewise, if someone doesn't call or write when I expect them to, I assume they are mad at me, or no longer wish to be my friend. And when I was single, I would all too often completely misread things with women, sometimes assuming disinterest on the part of some women who actually very much liked me - unfortunately all too few, and I only found out about them much later - but, far more often, I assumed there was attraction from women who absolutely had no interest in me, whatsoever.

(I recall spending a particularly gut-wrenching evening some 25 years ago with a very patient friend, trying to decipher the words and behavior of a young woman with whom I was smitten. My friend finally offered me the following advice: "stop trying to do her thinking for her." Wise words, indeed. How much pain and heartache I could have spared myself - again and again - over the years if I'd been less quick to jump to conclusions about things I could not possibly fully known or understood. How much more peace, joy and contentment I might have had in life if I could have just let go of the things I could not control.)

In the end, I don't mean to imply that nothing can be known about other people from what they say or do, but it's important to remember that we quite often barely understand ourselves, let alone others. We must make decisions on how to act and react in a given situation based on the best information we have about other people's thoughts, feelings and motives, but we can't assume we have them figured out. Whether things go gloriously right, or horrifically wrong, to paraphrase that great thinker Forrest Gump, "people are like a box of chocolates - you never quite know what you're going to get.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Friday Night Videos - Amy Winehouse




'Rehab'
Amy Winehouse

+++++




'You Know I'm No Good'
Amy Winehouse

+++++




'Back To Black'
Amy Winehouse

+++++




'Eff Me Pumps'
Amy Winehouse

+++++




'You Know I'm No Good'
(Acoustic, Live on The DL)
Amy Winehouse

+++++




'ITV.com Interview'
Amy Winehouse

+++++

Monday, April 16, 2007

Music Monday - Ladies Night




'Celebrity Skin'
Hole

+++++




'All Around'
Bebel Gilberto

+++++




'Tonight's The Night' (live)
Little Birdy

+++++




'All Apologies'
Sinead O'Connor

+++++




'Sway'
Pussycat Dolls

+++++


A Dress A Day



A Dress A Day

A dress.
Mostly every day.

Autism News


From Science Daily:



Infants With Autistic Siblings May Display Early Social, Communication Problems

April 5, 2007

Science Daily — Younger siblings of children with autism spectrum disorders do not perform as well on tests of social and communication development compared with siblings of children without developmental problems at ages as young as 12 months, according to a report in the April issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, a theme issue on autism spectrum disorders.

Studies of twins and families indicate that autism and related disorders have a genetic basis, according to background information in the article. This includes milder conditions known as the "broader autism phenotype," consisting of traits that are similar to those associated with autism but are not severe enough to cause disability. Approximately 6 to 9 percent of younger siblings of children with autism spectrum disorders (including autism and related conditions) develop autism spectrum disorders, and others may demonstrate features of the broader autism phenotype.



Read the rest here.

Bureau of Disinformation


07.04.12.BureauDisinfo-X

Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

More On The Story From C&F


Tragedy At Virginia Tech


From Yahoo News:



Gunman kills 32 in Virginia Tech rampage

By SUE LINDSEY, Associated Press Writer 19 minutes ago

A gunman massacred 32 people at Virginia Tech in the deadliest shooting rampage in modern U.S. history Monday, cutting down his victims in two attacks two hours apart before the university could grasp what was happening and warn students. The bloodbath ended with the gunman committing suicide, bringing the death toll to 33 and stamping the campus in the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains with unspeakable tragedy, perhaps forever.

Investigators gave no motive for the attack. The gunman's name was not immediately released, and it was not known if he was a student.

"Today the university was struck with a tragedy that we consider of monumental proportions," Virginia Tech President Charles Steger said. "The university is shocked and indeed horrified."

But he was also faced with difficult questions about the university's handling of the emergency and whether it did enough to warn students and protect them after the first burst of gunfire. Some students bitterly complained they got no warning from the university until an e-mail that arrived more than two hours after the first shots rang out.

Wielding two handguns and carrying multiple clips of ammunition, the killer opened fire about 7:15 a.m. on the fourth floor of West Ambler Johnston, a high-rise coed dormitory, then stormed Norris Hall, a classroom building a half-mile away on the other side of the 2,600-acre campus. Some of the doors at Norris Hall were found chained from the inside, apparently by the gunman.



Read the rest here.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Weekend Recap


Thursday Night

Well, in some respects the weekend began on Thursday night, because I didn't even get home until after midnight, and I suppose that's as good a place to start this story as any.

I left work around the usual time, grabbed a bite to eat, and went over to AE's karate session, where I took over from Mrs. Muzzy. She'd been hanging out with LK, and needed to leave to go play Bridge at her parents' house. I waited out the rest off the Karate class, then brought the girls home and put them to bed.

It was somewhere in the middle of all the commotion that I realized I couldn't find my Palm Pilot TX anywhere, not in my coat pockets, not in my over-the-shoulder bag, not in my car. I had no idea where I'd left it, whether at the restaurant I'd stopped at on the way home, or the gym, or maybe even back at work. And as the evening wore on, I became more and more frantic about it, to the point of actually feeling kind of ill.

So when Mrs. Muzzy came home, I set off to do some last-minute shopping for the weekend parties (more later), and decided to run back downtown to look for my Palm at work. As fate would have things, there it was, on my desk, right where I'd left it. I felt sheepish and stupid, but I'm still glad I went down and looked for it, because I'd have been worrying about it all night, if I had not. Of course when I got back from the store it was well after midnight, and didn't get to bed until nearly 1 AM. What's more, I didn't manage to get to sleep until quite a bit after that.

And so began my weekend.

Friday

I was in a bit of a haze from lack of sleep, though I did manage somehow to perk up a bit as the day wore on, and actually got a good deal of substantive work done. Still, there were times when I had to go walk around the block to clear my head, as I was dog-tired all day. Thank goodness for caffeine.

Thing is, I am not a morning person, and usually don't come into my most productive state until well into in the day, but I had to leave early that day, and never really got any traction going. Daughter number-one AE's eighth birthday party was set for that afternoon, and all of our relatives and offspring who live in town were coming over for a casual supper of pizza, chips and cola, with cake and ice cream for dessert.

Of course, there were lots of presents: from the aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents AE received some clothing, several books, a pair of walkie-talkies, a pair of binoculars, and books about birds. From her sister she received a couple of umbrellas, and from Mom and Dad she received a book, a timer, and a digital camera and 2-gig SD memory chip, with a carrying case with min-tripod, rechargeable batteries and charger. AE went to bed late that night a very happy little girl.

As I mentioned earlier, I had started out the day with a significant sleep deficit, and as much as I tried, I could barely keep my eyes open in front of the television that night. I had nearly put together a Friday Night Videos blog post of some Carla Bruni songs performed in concert, but couldn't even seem to get it online without falling asleep several times on the futon. What's more, I had several ideas for things I wanted to write, but only managed to finally post the Videos before giving up, and going to bed.

Saturday

AE and I needed to go shopping in the AM for a number of things for her second birthday party on Saturday PM, this one for her school and church chums. I had intended to be up and out of the house by 9:00 AM, but we didn't manage to get going until 10 AM.

Anyway, we went to a nearby Party America store, and bought paper party plates, cups and napkins, as well as little party bags with favors to put in them, to send home with the kids. We wanted to do a craft time with the kids, so AE and I also got some little cloth bags for a dollar each, with some glitter glue and stick-on foam shapes to the kids to decorate them.

Before anyone gets on me for being a bit over-the-top, we only spent $5 per kid for the gift bags, and managed to get a number of things: a canister of bubbles w/wand, a pencil, a multi-color pen, a plastic slinky, a paper pad, a hand-clapper, a mini-kaleidoscope and of course, the bag to put it all in. The craft project probably cost another couple of bucks per kid - there were only about a half-dozen in attendance - so we really didn't spend all that much for the party.

That said, I must say, the whole birthday party thing has become quite the a racket, with parents spending ever-increasing amounts on such things. I read recently of a Chicago family who spent over $250,000 for their seven year-old's party. I go on record and say it in just one word: insane. We spent well under one one-thousandth of that for both AE's.

The party was not much sooner done when we piled into the car and headed for church for a progressive dinner kind of thing. The adults met first for appetizers, then went to each of three tables - by turn - for salad, entree and dessert, with each table programmed with a mostly different mix of people. (The kids had their own thing going on upstairs.)

Of course, being a wee bit neurotic and a great bit shy, I spent most of the appetizer hour huddled in a corner, trying to remind myself that it's not the worst thing in the world to be sitting at a table with people I don't know, and that I really mustn't go hide out in the car until it was all over. I'm serious. When I go to such functions I usually feel alternately bored with other's small talk, and completely moronic about my own, fearful I'm going to commit some massive social faux pas, as I so often seem to do.

Anyway, as best I could gather, the theory was that this would be a way for members to get to know a number of people from the congregation on a slightly deeper level than they otherwise would over coffee each Sunday. must say, on that count it was pretty well successful. The food was good, and I actually found the company at all three tables interesting, and it was a good way to spend an evening, regardless my misanthropic ways.

After we came home and got the girls to bed, Mrs. Muzzy and I finally watched the American Idol elimination show (on tape) from this past Wednesday night, but of course, I'd already heard that it was Haley who'd been sent packing, and that Sanjaya was once again not even in the bottom three. Never mind that Haley's skimpy outfits were alot more alluring than her singing. She was still better singer than Sanjaya, and I'm going to miss seeing her cheesy smile.

Sunday

We made it church a bit late for the education hour, but were there in plenty of time to usher for the second service, and AE and I were a good team taking up collection. Afterwards we picked up lunch from Arby's on the way home, and Mrs. Muzzy headed off to her parent's to do taxes on her Dad's computerized tax program, while I had the pleasure of spending the PM helping keep AE focused on writing thank-you notes for her many birthday gifts, and doing her homework.

AE is a brilliant child, with an IQ that's off the charts. She can read and understand material that's a half-dozen grades ahead of her, but she is unable to focus well, and has a very hard time getting homework done. I guess I suffer from the same tendencies, to this very day, so I understand that about her. But it's still hard to deal with for a parent, or at least for this parent.

Anyway, all in all it was a pleasant weekend: the weather was nice, the company was good. I am happy that AE was pleased with her birthday gifts. I spent a good deal of time last week trying to find the right camera for a kid her age, and she has told me several times about how thrilled she is. Don't get me wrong, I'm not the kind of parent who will spends lavishly on gifts for his kids, but I don't see any reason to be particularly stingy, either. I'm looking forward to being able to take her out 'On Adventures' with cameras in hand to photograph what we see. (I used to teach photography in an earlier incarnation, and look forward to showing her not only how to use the camera itself, but how to capture color and shape.)

Peace, out.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Friday Night Videos - Carla Bruni Retrospective




'Quelqu'un m'a dit' (live)
Carla Bruni

+++++




'L'excessive' (live)
Carla Bruni

+++++




'Chanson' Triste' (live)
Carla Bruni

+++++




'Fernande' (live)
Carla Bruni

+++++




'Le Toi Du Moi' (live)
Carla Bruni

+++++




'Tout Le Monde' (live)
Carla Bruni

+++++




'L'amour' (live)
Carla Bruni

+++++


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

He Wasn't *That* bad.




'Besame Much'
Sanjaya Malakar


Imus Take


From The Manhattan Institute:



The Wall Street Journal Europe

Imus's Enablers

April 11, 2007

By John Leo

Let's have more talk about Don Imus's enablers—all those prominent journalists and politicians who go on his show knowing that they will be featured along with degrading and allegedly humorous one-liners about blacks, gays, Jews and women.

The celebs like to talk about the high-minded Imus, who brings a sophisticated knowledge of public affairs to early morning radio. They wish to separate themselves from the low-minded Imus, the one who delivers racist wisecracks and featured "The First Lady is a Tramp," a song about Hillary Clinton, complete with references to her urinary habits and menstrual cycles. Like the piano player in the brothel, Imus's notables seem shocked that anyone would associate them with what goes on upstairs.

Back in 1996, Bob Dole and Joe Lieberman were attacking, respectively, Hollywood cultural pollution and trash TV. Both regularly went on Imus, where they were surrounded by material quite similar to the stuff they were complaining about. Besides, almost any pol might earn an Imus endorsement (He came out for Mr. Dole in 1996 and John Kerry in 2004.)

Jeff Greenfield once said that appearing on Imus is like being an important novelist excerpted in Playboy. You wish to be judged by your brilliant writing, not your proximity to the centerfold mammaries. But this raises the question of what the pols and journalists are doing when they go on Imus's show: Are they elevating our political culture or debasing it by legitimating an unusually low level of public discourse?



Read the rest here.

My two cents?

First of all, I'm trying to work myself into being able to givadam. Hold on, lemme try... Nope. Didn't work.

Look: yes, what Imus said is offensive, and even if there *is* a double-standard, and even if Dave Chapelle could have said the same thing as what Imus said without a whimper from anyone, all that is irrelevant: this little stunt was not acceptable, and that's that.

But as John Leo points out, Imus has been doing his shtick for decades, and as long as he has been able to provide an audience, politicians have lined up for the chance to appear on his show. Thing is, I've never found Imus clever or witty, and I'm flummoxed as to why anyone listens to him.

But second, can anyone please tell me why he chose to approach the likes of Al Sharpton - of all people - for a place to conduct his Auto De Fe'? Anyone? Bueller?

Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.

Big Problem


07.04.04.BigProblem-X

Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

More On The Story From C&F


Monday, April 09, 2007

Music Monday - The Big 80's (Again)





'Burning Down The House'
Talking Heads

+++++




'Nothing Compares 2 U'
Sinead O'Connor

+++++




'The Unforgetable Fire'
U2

+++++




'Promised You A Miracle'
Simple Minds

+++++




'Every Breath You Take'
The Police

+++++


Commenting Comments


I received a comment from a reader regarding a blog post I'd made of the video 'Fix You,' by Coldplay, to the effect that:



"I think "Fix You" is a beautiful song, albeit totally unrealistic. When women figure out that they can't change men, maybe men will figure out they can't fix women."



I agree that the song is beautiful, and unrealistic, possibly even silly, but I can't agree with the proposition that men - or at least most men - want to fix women. Most women (yes, I grant there are always exceptions) *do*, in fact, enter into love relationships foolishly hoping that they will be able to mold and change the men in their lives, unlike their Mothers were able to do vis 'a vis their Fathers. But I maintain the same cannot be said of men. If anything, it's quite the opposite, in my view. Once stung by Cupid's arrow, both men and women suffer from massively unrealistic but completely opposite expectations of each other. With the exception of a rare Professor Higgins, most men decidedly do not want to change the women they fall in love with. In fact, most men seem to want their Dearly-Beloveds to *never* change, whether in appearance, personality, or otherwise. They appear to fatuously believe that - against all evidence to the contrary - somehow their devotion to the sweet young coquette of their youth will cause her to remain just so, in perpetuity, never to grow a backbone, or a backside. Of course, many such men and women end up broken-hearted: she, for having been unable to change him from a diamond-in-the-rough into her vision of perfection, and he, for having been unable to *keep* her as perfect as he once imagined her to be. And so it goes.

Well, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.

Minneosota Panoramas


From New Eden Panoramas:



Welcome! I'm Ed Fink, and these are my 360 degree panoramas. My work has been featured by www.panoramas.dk (the most popular panorama site in the world), Pioneer Press, Star Tribune, WCCO TV, KQRS, Rochester Post Bulletin, and many others. The Star Tribune's Joe Kimball recently called my Winter Carnival panoramas "amazing" and wrote "Photographer Ed Fink has a masterful knack for stitching together surround views that make you feel like you're in the middle of the Vulcan Krewe during a parade or seeing the unveiling of an ice sculpture."



Check out Minnesota State Fair images here.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Weekend Recap


Friday

I took off a long lunch hour from work to attend a downtown Good Friday service. It's something conducted as a joint endeavor between several downtown Protestant churches, including a BGC Baptist church, an independent black Baptist church, a non-denominational Baby Buster church, a Covenant Church, and an ELCA Lutheran church.

These various denominations represent a wide variety of theological interpretation, and worship styles, and on some level I have to think they view each other with a degree of suspicion. But twice a year, on Thanksgiving and Easter, they agree to hold a joint service in each other's churches, in rotation, with the various clergy conducting the service together. The actual sermon is delivered by a different pastor each time, always someone other than the pastor of the hosting church, and an offering is taken that goes to support a neighborhood ministry that the group maintains in common. I try to attend as often as I can, although it's been several years since I've been able to do so.

Of course, I have to believe that at least one or two of the churches involved likely view ecumenical efforts as something very nearly sacramental, the highest goal of their faith, while I strongly suspect that others of the participating churches view such gatherings with a somewhat jaundiced eye. After all, the represented churches hold very different views of both the means and meaning of grace, baptism, and the Eucharist. And some hold the view that the primary ministry of the church is to feed the hungry, while others consider service to fellow man important, but secondary to the preaching of the need for sinners to turn from sin and believe in God. Perhaps to outsiders such things seem somewhat petty stuff, but they are not inconsequential for those on either side of the issue.

In any event, it was a respite from my job, and I'm glad I went.

After work that evening I headed out to do some shopping for daughter number-one AE's birthday this coming week. Her mother and I have been flummoxed trying to come up with a suitable present for the very-soon-to-be-eight-year-old, but that problem is now behind us. Yes, I bought her something, but it wouldn't do if I posted it here on my blog before the girl gets to see it, so if you wanna know what I got her, you'll have to check back in the coming days, alright?

I was out and about the whole evening and, um, well, I completely forgot to have supper, so I ended up eating some string cheese, chocolate milk and yogurt that I bought at Walmart. I really can't eat each much after about nine in the evening due to problems with acid reflux. In other words, no more late night pizzas for me. Sigh

Of course, when I settled in to watch last Wednesday's episode of 'Jericho' at around 11 PM, I discovered the VCR wasn't working. The image was full of static, and it seemed likely that the VCR needed cleaning. I'm pretty sure we have a VCR tape head cleaner lying around, but I couldn't find it, so I headed out in search of one such item. I stopped at a half-dozen drug and grocery stores without success, when I decided to try a nearby video store, just five minutes shy of midnight. They sold me what I needed, and it did the trick, so I got to watch my show.

Saturday

I didn't get to sleep until about 2 AM, and as I was already running on quite a sleep deficit from the week before, I slept in until nearly 10 AM. Mrs. Muzzy went out with one of her sisters to buy little items for the Easter Egg hunt on Sunday PM, and is often my cutsom, I took AE and LK out On Adventures.

We first went to a nearby nature preserve for a walk in the woods. Even though the day was gorgeous and full of sunshine, it was still quite cold, but with all of us properly bundled against the frigid weather, we managed to trek from one side of the smallish woods to the other and back, none the worse for wear. It was quite lovely. The trees were mostly still without leaves, but there were little buds here and there, a sure sign that the growing season is just about upon us. This past weekend's cold snap won't last, and by next weekend the temps should be warm again.

Anyway, we then headed to McDonald's for lunch, then to a local library to hang out, and later to a nearby pet store to look at the animals. Then, after we got home, LK and I headed out again to do some more shopping for her big sister's birthday.

While LK and I were at Target, I inquired of an attractive young clerk where I might find thus-and-such, and we ended up chatting for two or three minutes while LK was admiring some Dora The Explorer rain gear. Somehow the clerk let it slip that she was entering the Marine Corps and was headed for Quantico to complete her Training in another month. And as I bid her a good day, I did what has become a habit for me over the last couple of years: I thanked her for her service to our country.

It's a habit I picked up Hugh Hewitt, who would always says such to any Military caller to his show. I know it's a small thing, and I don't mean to embarrass people, but whenever I see or meet a man or woman in uniform - or about to don one - I make a point of thanking them for their service. Actually, none of them has ever looked annoyed that I might have said that, and to the contrary, every one of a couple of dozen or so I've thanked has told me how much they appreciated hearing those words, some even with tears in their eyes. I realize it may sound corny to some, but it's utterly sincere on my part, and I'm so very thankful that there are those who commit to such a task. So, once again, to the young lady I met at Target on Saturday, and to all the other men and women in uniform: 'thank you for your service.'

After we got home we ended up having a hodge-podge supper: the girls had hot dogs and melon, Mrs. Muzzy ate Mac and Cheese with sugar snap peas, and I had egg rolls, pot stickers and cream puffs, and fruit. Okay, I know it's not the most healthy fare, but it was very tasty. Later, after the girls were asleep, Mrs. Muzzy and I watched an episode of 'Britta's Empire,' as well as one 'Monty Python' I'd never seen before, but I was so tired that the lights were out shortly after 11 PM, and I was soon fast asleep.

Sunday

The Easter Bunny came early to our house, with a little assistance from daughter number-one AE. She apparently had gotten up at the very crack of dawn and assembled little colored-paper eggs with candies in them, and placed them in the doorways of each of the bedrooms. I must say, she was about as pleased with herself as I was impressed with her. Not only did she show a good deal of creativity, but she was also industrious enough to get up early to do such a thing. Very cool.

We managed to make it to the Kirk on time for the Easter Breakfast of egg bake, sausage, fruit and muffins, all washed down with milk and orange juice. The service itself was packed, but somehow felt like it went on far too long, although it was no longer than any other service. I dunno, maybe it just felt that way due to the fact that I had a squirming four year-old on my lap most of the time. I did manage to get some photos taken of the two lovely daughters, in their lovely matching Easter dresses and hats. Yeah, they looked cute.

In the afternoon AE was having a difficult time getting her homework done. Her mother and I both had a go at helping her with it, but she can be quite the belligerent young thing. She asks for help, but than gets mad when it's offered. I need to spend some time developing strategies to help find a way to motivate her to get her homework done without breaking her spirits altogether. It's not an easy task, especially with very bright kids.

In the late afternoon we had another Easter Egg hunt at Grandma and Grandpa's house for the girls, and their little cousin. The food was good, as was the conversation, but soon enough it was time to come home. AE had still more homework to complete, and then it was time for them to sleep. Mrs. Muzzy and I watched Sunday night's episode after the girls were asleep, but I just didn't have the energy to watch anything else, so I wrote this post, and headed to the Land of Nod.

Anyway, that was the weekend that was.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Friday Night Videos - A Little Anti-Crunk




'Texas Girl At The Funeral Of Her Father'
Linda Ronstadt and Randy Newman

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'Mad World'
Gary Jules

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'Karma Police'
Radiohead

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'The Other Side'
David Gray

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'Fix You'
Coldplay

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'Chasing Cars'
Snow Patrol

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"Straight Lines"
Silverchair

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