Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Quiz Thingy


I've got a friend who sent me the following, and although I'm going to respond to his request to answer it, I just don't have the 'whatever' to send it on to 'all my friends,' but if you'd like to cop this and have a go at it, please help yourself. I'm just posting it because I already filled it for my buddy, and I'm too lazy to write anything else for this blog, right now. Enjoy:



1. Were you named after anyone?

Yes, my great-grandfather.

2. When was the last time you cried?

Hmm, last week, when I read the lyrics to Suzy Boggus' 'Letting Go.'

3. Do you like your handwriting.

No. Well, even I can't read it, and there's nothing to like in that.

4. What is your favorite lunch meat?

Smoked Ham.

5. Do you have kids?

Affirmative, two lovely daughters.

6. If you were another person would you be friends with you?

Prolly depends on the person, methinks. Then again, maybe not.

7. Do you use sarcasm a lot?

What do *you* think?

8. Do you still have your tonsils?

Nope.

9. Would you bungee jump?

Two words: hail, no!

10. What is your favorite cereal?

Honey Nut Cherios. No, wait, it's Frosted Flakes. Neh, I'll stick with the Cheerios.

11. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. What kind of nutty question is that?

12. Do you think you are strong?...

I suppose it depends on who's measuring, but I'll say 'yes.'

13. What is your favorite ice cream?

Light Vanilla Bean Hagen Daz.

14. What is the first thing you notice about people?

It depends. If I can hear them speak, I first notice the tone of their voice. Otherwise...hey, waita minnit! This could get me in trouble. Nope, no mas. Not gonna go there.

15. Red or pink?

To quote Dr. Phil: are you nuts?

16. What is your least favorite food?

Sauerkraut, or Lutefisk.

17. Who do you miss the most?

My sister, who died when I was nine.

18. Do you want everyone to send this back to you?

I'm not sending it to anyone, but you're welcome to cop it offa my blog.

19. What color pants and shoes are you wearing?

Blue jeans, and white&blue tennis/walking shoes.

20. What was the last thing you ate?

Grilled Ham and Cheese sandwich, and watermelon, for lunch.

21. What are you listening to right now?

Well, while I'm typing this I have no music playing, but in my head: Regina Spektor's 'Samson,' from her latest, 'Begin To Hope.' I just picked up the CD, ripped it to my iPod, and have been listening today. Holy Russian Beauties, Batman! It's far and away one of the best things I've heard in a long time.

22. If you were a crayon, what color would you be?

Huh? How about Black and Blue?

23. Favorite smells?

Fresh baked bread; lilac-scented air; new cars. That's all you're getting outta me.

24. Who was the last person you talked to on the phone?

My brother.

25. Do you like the person who sent this to you?

Sure.

26. Favorite sports to watch?

Soccer.

27. Hair color?

Used to be Auburn, is kinda brown, what's left of it.

28. Eye color?

Blueish-Greenish something or other. I think.

29. Do you wear contacts?

Nup.

30. Favorite food?

Not possible to limit it to one favorite, but I love cherry yogurt, vanilla ice cream, my FIL's homemade pizza, Greek Salads, corn on the cob with butter and salt and pepper, Guarana', dark 65% chocolate, Bulkogi, hard boiled eggs, Cherry Coke. Okay, there's lots more, but I have more to write, here.

31. Scary movies or happy endings?

Scary movies freak me out, so I'll say happy endings, but I'm really most into documentaries.

32. Last movie you watched?

'Central Station,' or some Bollywood movie, I think. I have a ton that I want to watch, including several on VHS tape I bought this past weekend:

The Usual Suspects

The Black Stallion

Blue Velvet

The Lost World (Jurrasic Park II)

Shakespeare In Love

American Beauty

Chocolat

33. What is your middle name?

Not gonna tell. You can't make me.

34. Summer or winter?

Neither. Summer's too hot, winter's too cold. I like Spring and Fall.

35. Hugs or kisses?

Aw, come on! WTH? How can they be pried apart? Gotta have both. Okay, hugs. Then Kisses. Then more hugs.

36. Favorite dessert?

Low Fat Snackwell Vanilla Creme-filled cookies. Okay, that's actually my favorite bedtime snack. I like hot apple pie and vanilla ice cream. There.

37. Most likely to respond?

Already said, I'm not sending it on to anyone.

38. Least likely to respond?

Ditto.

39. What book are you reading now?

Hmm, I'm always in the middle of reading about a dozen, but most recently - today - I've been reading Pygmalion, by GB Shaw.

40. What is on your mouse pad?

Dust and scratches.

41. What did you watch on TV last night?

The news. I can't take any more of that CSI dreck.

42. Favorite sound?

My daughters' laughing, giggling, or chortling. They are the cutest.

43. Rolling stones or Beatles?

The Fab Four, man! A pox on Their Satanic Majesties, I say.

44. What is the farthest you have been from home?

Well, I grew up in South America, but that *was* home, so I'll say it was when I came to the US from Brazil, when I was a kid.

45. Do you have a special talent?

Special? Neh. Well, I can levitate and bend spoons. Is that special? Okay, I can't really do that. But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express once.

46. Where were you born?

Princeton, New Jersey.

47. Whose answers are you looking forward to getting?

How many times do I have to say this: I ain't passing it on!


Monday, May 28, 2007

Music Monday - Breathless Edition




'Breathless' (promo vid)
The Corrs

+++++




'Breathless' (live)
The Corrs

+++++




'Breathless' (live at Trafalgar Square)
The Corrs

+++++




'Breathless' (Live 8)
The Corrs

+++++




'Breathless' (live Late Late Show)
The Corrs

+++++




'Breathless' (live T4)
The Corrs

+++++




'Breathless' (live TOTP)
The Corrs

+++++




'Breathless' (live Sydney)
The Corrs

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'Breathless' (live Cape Town)
The Corrs

+++++


Visiting Hours



On the occcasion of this Memorial Day, please re-read Ben Stein's moving piece Visiting Hours, reproduced on this blog in 2005 by kind permission of the American Spectator. It still makes me tear up.



Repost From Memorial Day 2006




(should be called 'Trolley Cars')


Idol, Housewives, and Weekend Recap


I haven't written much on this blog in a while, and since I have to imagine the teeming dozen or so who read faithfully are eagerly awaiting news from the front, I decided it was time to post.

First of all, before getting to the weekend, I have to extend my hearty congratulations to Jordin Sparks on her big American Idol win last weeks. (Yes, I operate under the delusion that all the Idol contestants read this blog, or at least that they should.)

The best singer of the season didn't prevail, but it doesn't matter, because Melinda was going securing a recording contract, with or without winning the show. And of the final two, Blake will do fine without the win, as well. Actually, any of the final three could have prevailed, and it would have been a righteous win. But I'd picked Jordin to win several weeks ago, and she didn't disappoint.

It's hard to quantify exactly what Jordin had over Blake, really. They are both young, attractive, sing well, are personable, but Jordin had that extra something, that 'I-can't-put-my-finger-on-it-but-I-know-it-when-I-see-it' factor. Sure, she can sing like a bird, but there were any number of top-ten finalists who could sing very well, and in the case of Melinda, sing better. Jordin just had the 'it' factor, the 'wow' factor. She is already a star.

Yes, she stumbled hard on Bon Jovi night. Her rendition of 'Livin On A Prayer' was earnest, yet bordered at times on the cringe-worthy. But that was the only time she was less than stellar. During every other one of the last ten weeks she consistently delivered inspired performances, and it was her version of the final Idol Song, the otherwise bleh 'You Are My Now' that won the title for her. While Blake's version was okay, Jordin was amazing, infusing emotion into what could have been an otherwise forgettable song.

Anyway, since I know she reads, congratulations to Jordin, and best wishes as she embarks on her new career.


+++++


Speaking of TV, Mrs. Muzzy and I finally watched last week's big Desperate Housewives finale last night, if only on tape. For those who watch this stuff on Tivo or overseas, I shan't run a spoiler here, but it's enough to say that there were surprises galore, including a couple I simply didn't see coming. In fact, the ending blew my mind, as I had not an inkling that things might have taken that turn. The show is campy, but fun, with a dark streak, and I'll back watching next season, for sure.

As for 24, I've watched that show since the beginning of the first season, and the one thing I know I can count on is that there will be twists and turns galore. This year did not disappoint, on that count. With that said, however, it wasn't a really great season, not compared to the first year, but even when the show stumbled - and it did, a couple of times - it was still better than just about anything else on the air. 24 raised the bar of what an action show could do on TV, but now there are alot of others competing for that dollar, but it's still a great ride, and I'm glad I got the chance to hop on.

+++++


So, weekend recap: I went out Friday evening after work to do some shopping, and ended up going to Micro Center, Half-Price Books (for their 20% off sale), The Hardware Store, CVS, Cheapo and Applause. I bought a some of this and that, mostly books and DVD's.

I'm a sucker for a good deal, sometimes too much of one, and rarely leave a used bookstore - or garage sale - without a book under my arm. This time I bought, among others, a copy of 'Attention Deficit Disorder In Adults.' I've read all the diagnostic criteria, and I'm pretty well convinced I have had it all my life. It's funny, but if I were growing up in today's world I would have been put on Ritalin by age 10, without a doubt, but I'm not willing to do the medication route right now. I just want to learn some strategies for functioning better on the job, and at home.

On Saturday I took the girls out for breakfast at McDonalds, and we went on a Nature Walk in a nearby County hiking area. It was quite wooded and full of as many birds as I've seen in the wild in recent times. In the afternoon AE and I went to another Half-Price Bookstore, and then to a Barnes and Noble: AE had some money left on a gift card that she wished to spend, and I was happy to take her to do so. I'm sure that in due time she will want very little to do with Dear Old Dad, and I'm going to enjoy these years until that time comes. What would have been an otherwise pretty great day was marred by some kind of intestinal bug that came on me like a tsunami that night after supper, and laid me out flat for the evening. I went to be bed at a reasonably early hour, but did not sleep well, at all.

Sunday AM I felt little better, and stayed home from church. I did manage to rally somewhat in the PM, and was able to mow the lawn in the evening, and even got out for the house for a walk, later.

Monday (today) was Memorial Day, but since Mrs. Muzzy had to work, I was on Daddy Duty. The girls and I went to Mac's again for breakfast - no, we don't usually go that often - and then we headed over to Lakewood Cemetery to visit my mother's grave site.

It was a nice day, with pleasant weather, not too hot or cool, and the air was heavy with the sweet scent of lilacs. We spent a good deal of time at the cemetery wandering among the graves stones, just enjoying the outdoors. Mother is buried next to her sister, and across from her dad and mom, and her dad's first wife, who died leaving my grandpa a widower with three kids. He later remarried, and had one child of that marriage, my mother. It's nice that they are all grouped together like that.

After a bit we rode the restored old Minneapolis city trolley car down to the Lake Harriet Bandshell for some hot dogs. AE had brought along her new digital camera, and was taking pictures - and video - left and right, beaming like that cat that ate the canary. LK was massively intrigued by various critters she saw: catepillars, birds, ants. I was just enjoying being with my girls. Well, that and I worried myself silly that one or the other of my darling daughters was going to wander off and out of my sight, never to be seen again. (Okay, you're right, I worry too much.)

All in all, as I said, it was a nice day.

But then in the evening, when I got to reviewing some of the pictures I'd taken today, I felt a wave of sadness come over me, and got to missing my Mom and remembering that my kids would never see their paternal Grandmother except in pictures and as a name in a cemetery. Yes, I'm grateful that they have their maternal Grandparents in their lives, but I just wish Mom (and Dad) could be around to watch my girls - and their cousins - grow up.

Anyway, it's good to visit cemeteries, and healthy for the soul to remember the departed. And it's important to be able to have a physical place that can act as a touchstone for us, where we face our past and our history, and our future. We all have an appointment with the grave or mausoleum, and it's sobering to place one's life in some semblance of perspective. I'm glad we went there today.

And tomorrow, back to work.

+++++


Friday, May 25, 2007

Friday Night Videos - American Season 6 Idol Finale




'This Is My Now' (Tuesday Performance)
Blake Lewis

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'This Is My Now' (Tuesday Performance)
Jordin Sparks

+++++




'I Saw Her Standing There' (Wednesday Finale)
Blake and Jordin Duet

+++++




American Idol Winner Announced (Wednesday Finale)
Jordin Sparks

+++++




'This Is My Now' (Wednesday Finale)
Jordin Sparks

+++++


Dry Spell


Okay, it's fairly obvious that I haven't posted here in a while, but I'll try to get in the swing of things in short order. Check back later in the weekend, and I hope to have some new stuff for the teeming dozens to read.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Music Monday - Kiddie Time




'The Elephant Song'
Eric Herman

+++++




'The Wheels On The Bus'
Mad Donna

+++++




'How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?'
Patti Page

+++++


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Music Monday - Tuesday Night Edition


From NYT:



Sex, Drugs and Updating Your Blog

By CLIVE THOMPSON
May 13, 2007

Jonathan Coulton sat in Gorilla Coffee in Brooklyn, his Apple PowerBook open before him, and began slogging through the day’s e-mail. Coulton is 36 and shaggily handsome. In September 2005, he quit his job as a computer programmer and, with his wife’s guarded blessing, became a full-time singer and songwriter. He set a quixotic goal for himself: for the next year, he would write and record a song each week, posting each one to his blog. “It was a sort of forced-march approach to creativity,” he admitted to me over the sound of the cafe’s cappuccino frothers. He’d always wanted to be a full-time musician, and he figured the only way to prove to himself he could do it was with a drastic challenge. “I learned that it is possible to squeeze a song out of just about anything,” he said. “But it’s not always an easy or pleasant process.” Given the self-imposed time constraints, the “Thing a Week” songs are remarkably good. Coulton tends toward geeky, witty pop tunes: one song, “Tom Cruise Crazy,” is a sympathetic ode to the fame-addled star, while “Code Monkey” is a rocking anthem about dead-end programming jobs. By the middle of last year, his project had attracted a sizable audience. More than 3,000 people, on average, were visiting his site every day, and his most popular songs were being downloaded as many as 500,000 times; he was making what he described as “a reasonable middle-class living” — between $3,000 and $5,000 a month — by selling CDs and digital downloads of his work on iTunes and on his own site.



Read the rest here.

And download these free MP3's from JC's website:



Enjoy.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Word List


I've mentioned before on this hollowed blog that my eight year-old daughter AE has been given a weekly task of learning ten new words for class. She needs to know not only how to spell them, but must know their meaning, and must submit a series of sentences employing those words. The following was this past week's list:



  • Relevant
  • Receptacle
  • Hypocrisy
  • Chauvinism
  • Receipt
  • Ukulele
  • Tableau
  • Subpoena
  • Massive
  • Plankton



Yeah, she got them all correct on her end-of-the-week test. And no, I didn't.

Free The Film


From Scripps Howard News Service:



Free the film that PBS won't let you see

By DEROY MURDOCK

Scripps Howard News Service
2007-05-03

NEW YORK -- Where on Earth are the moderate Muslims? Thanks to PBS, they're not on public television.

PBS has blocked "Islam vs. Islamists: Voices from the Muslim Center." This new documentary _ funded with a $675,000 Corporation for Public Broadcasting grant _ contrasts the ubiquitous bearded, burqa-covered Muslim radicals with others seldom seen: men and women who wear Western attire, shave daily, show their female faces and prosper without slaughtering "infidels."

While moderate Muslims may appear elsewhere on PBS, Uncle Sam's TV channel declines to air this compelling, evenhanded and surprisingly tame film that explores the struggle between modern Muslims and their backward brethren. Produced by Canadian filmmaker Martyn Burke and the Center for Security Policy's Alex Alexiev and Frank Gaffney, "Islam vs. Islamists" is no fire-breathing, Islamophobic screed. While it sympathizes with mellow Muslims targeted by their hotheaded co-religionists, it simply lets individual Muslims speak for themselves, with limited commentary _ none of it inflammatory.

Capital HQ _ a New York-based public-affairs organization _ quickly arranged a sold-out screening of "Islam" Tuesday night. Even after benches and folding chairs were dragged in from the Union Square 14-plex's lobby, guests still clogged the aisles.

The film showcases brave, moderate Muslims like Naser Khader, a Syrian-born Danish legislator who preaches the separation of mosque and state. The mere fact that he votes in Copenhagen's parliament enrages Muslim zealots.



Read the rest here.

And review the 'Free The Film' website here.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Friday Night Videos - Sixties




'Help'
The Bealtles

+++++




'Get Off My Cloud'
The Rolling Stones

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'Lola'
The Kinks

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'For What It's Worth/Mr Soul'
Buffalo Springfied

+++++




'Can't You Hear My Heartbeat'
Herman's Hermits

+++++

Found On The Web




From The 'WTH?' Files


From Yahoo News:



Paris Hilton sculpture shows heiress in deadly pose

Thu May 10, 1:13 PM ET

Sculptor Daniel Edwards thinks Paris Hilton makes a fine subject -- as prom queen of the dead in what he says is a warning against drunken driving.

The artist has created a sculpture of the 26-year-old hotel heiress and socialite naked and dead, with cell phone in hand, legs spread and crowned with a tiara.

"The Paris Hilton Autopsy" is a statement about the dangers of drunk driving just as high school prom season rolls around, said Edwards, who also sculpted a giant head of Cuban President Fidel Castro and created a life-size nude of Britney Spears giving birth on a bearskin rug.



Read the rest here.

Nature Walk


On Wednesday AM I took Daughter Number Two LK to her speech therapy appointment. Since it only lasts about a half-hour, I don't really have enough time to run errands, but I do try to leave the premises for a brisk walk. But this time, instead of just walking down the street and back, I wanted to explore a bit. I'd seen a path behind the therapist's office building, and decided to see where it led. As it turns out, it didn't go far, just a dozen yards or so, but suddenly I was on the private campus of an insurance company - the name of which escapes me now - with a walking path that appeared to be open to the public. I walked the mile or so around the periphery of the property, and headed back to get LK from her session. But as we were leaving I asked her if she'd like to go on a Nature Walk, to which she responded with a resounding 'yes!' Below, for your enjoyment and edification, is an abbreviated photo album of our half-hour walk. Click the photos to view larger versions, and note the Canada Geese with their goslings, and the single White Heron, in the two bottom photos:







Didn't Expect This


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



The Spanish Inquisition was an institution that had precedents in other Inquisitions. The reconquest of Spain from the Moors resulted in a relatively peaceful multi-religious society, but violent anti-Judaism ensued and Jews converted en masse to the Catholic faith. Some of these conversos were suspected of not being sincere converts and the Alhambra Decree in 1492 ordered all Jews to leave their kingdoms, making about 40,000 Jews leave. Various motives have been proposed for the monarch to start the Inquisition, such as increased political authority, weakening opposition, doing away with conversos and sheer profit.

Ferdinand II of Aragon pressured pope Sixtus IV to agree to letting him set up an Inquisition controlled by the monarchy by threatening to withdraw military support at a time when the Turks were a threat to Rome. Sixtus IV later accused the Spanish inquisition of being overzealous, accused the monarchs for being greedy and issued a bull to stop it, but he was pressured into withdrawing the bull.

During the 16th century the main target became Protestants and about 100 were executed. An index of prohibited books was drawn up that were alleged to contain heresy. In time converts from Islam and Moriscos were also persecuted by the Spanish Inquisition. Other crimes were also taken up in these tribunals such as Superstitions, heretical propositions, Sodomy, Bigamy and solicitation. Among superstitions, six witches can be positively verified to have been executed.



Read the rest here.

From The 'WTH?' Files


From Yahoo News:



Cremated Remains of 200 Lost in Mountains After Trip to Space

Leonard David

Thu May 10, 11:15 AM ET

The search for the UP Aerospace payload of experiments and the cremated remains of some 200 people - including "Scotty" of Star Trek fame, as well as pioneeering
NASA Mercury astronaut, Gordon Cooper - continues within rugged New Mexico mountain landscape.

After a successful blastoff from New Mexico's Spaceport America on April 28th, the UP Aerospace SpaceLoft XL rocket and its payload nosed into space on a suborbital trajectory. As part of launch operations, the rocket was tracked by specialists at the neighboring White Sands Missile Range.

While all went well with the flight, the rocket components parachuted into rough and tumble terrain. Repeated searches within the landing zone have come up empty.



Read the rest here.

Autism News


From Science Daily:



Study Finds Regions Of DNA That Appear Linked To Autistic Spectrum Disorders

May 10, 2007

Science Daily — Using an innovative statistical approach, a research team from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the University of California, Los Angeles, has identified two regions of DNA linked to autism. They found the suspicious DNA with a much smaller sample of people than has been used traditionally in searches for autism genes.

Autism -- a disorder that involves social deficits, language problems and repetitive, stereotyped behaviors -- affects around one in 1,000 children. And the combined incidence of autism spectrum disorders, which include Asperger syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder, brings the total number of affected children to one in every 150 births. Boys are affected three to four times more often than girls.

There's clearly a genetic component to autism, according to John N. Constantino, M.D., associate professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine and a co-principal investigator on this latest study. If one child in a family is autistic, there's a 10 percent chance a sibling also will have autism. Past research has isolated a few regions of DNA linked to autism, but very few of those studies have been replicated, so no specific autism genes have yet been identified.

"Those older studies used what's called an 'affected sib pair' design that looks for genetic markers in siblings with autism," says Constantino. "That approach has worked well for single-gene disorders, but autism is a complex disease that may involve many genes that each make very small contributions. When that's the case, it's harder to find genetic markers."

So Constantino's group, in collaboration with the other co-principal investigator, Daniel H. Geschwind, M.D., Ph.D., and neuropsychiatric and genetics researchers at UCLA, is using a different approach. They report their findings in the April issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.



Read the rest here.

Borrowed Meme


"Simple directions: use the shuffle function on your music player and
see what you come up with in answer to the following questions."*

How does the world see you?

"I'm In Chains" - Mark Heard

Will I have a happy life?

"El Amor De Mi Vida" – Warren Zevon

What do my friends really think of me?

"Threw It Away" – Glen Kaiser

Do people secretly lust after me?

"Deja Vu" – Beyonce

How can I make myself happy?

"Child Psychology" - Black Box Recorder

What should I do with my life?

"Batten Down The Hatch" – Snow Patrol

Will I ever have children?

"Blue Is For Girls" – The Gemz

What is some good advice for me?

"The Power Of Orange Knickers" – Tori Amos

How will I be remembered?

"I Was A Landscape In Your Dream" - Of Montreal

What is my signature dancing song?

"Bring Back The Love" - Bebel Gilberrto

What do I think my current theme song is?

"Ballad Of The Big Nothing" - Elliott Smith

What does everyone else think my current theme song is?

"Fix You" – Coldplay

What song will play at my funeral?

"We Don't Need Legs To Stand" – Sufjan Stevens

What type of men/women do you like?

"Wolf Like Me" – TV On The Radio

What is my day going to be like?

"Bad Chardonnay" – Graham Parker

*Sold by weight, not by volume; contents may have shifted during shipping.

Tales Of Medicine Men


From BBC News:



Busting modern medical myths

By Martin Hutchinson

In the early days of medicine, physicians might diagnose patients using bumps on their head, or dispense a couple of leeches to draw off "ill humours".

Yet a medieval doctor might give a more confident response than his modern equivalent if a patient asked for the evidence to support their treatment.

These days, it seems many of our "tried and tested" approaches to disease are nothing of the kind.

Researchers writing recently in the British Journal of Surgery concluded the practice of daubing patients with a disinfectant skin gel prior to operations made little or no difference to the rate of infections they suffered afterwards. Simple soap and water was just as effective.



Read the rest here.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Music Monday - Grab Bag




'Night Of My Life'
Damien Leith

+++++




'Elevator Love'
Guy Sebastian

+++++




'Come As You Are'
Nirvana

+++++




'This Old Love' (live)
Lior

+++++




'Wuthering Heights'
Kate Bush

+++++


Autism News


From Science Daily:



A Frown Or A Smile? Children With Autism Can't Discern

May 7, 2007

Science Daily — When we have a conversation with someone, we not only hear what they say, we see what they say. Eyes can smolder or twinkle. Gazes can be direct or shifty. "Reading" these facial expressions gives context and meaning to the words we hear.

In a report presented May 5 at the International Meeting for Autism Research in Seattle, researchers from UCLA explained that children with autism can't do this. They hear and they see, of course, but the areas of the brain that normally respond to such visual cues simply do not respond.

Led by Mari Davies, a UCLA graduate student in psychology, and Susan Bookheimer, a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, the research compared brain activity between 16 typically developing children and 16 high-functioning children with autism. While undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), both groups were shown a series of faces depicting angry, fearful, happy and neutral expressions. In half the faces, the eyes were averted; with the other half, the faces stared back at the children.



Read the rest here.

We'll Always Have Paris


From Reuters:



Paris Hilton heads for real "simple life" in jail

Mon May 7, 2007 6:21PM EDT

By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hotel heiress Paris Hilton, star of the reality TV show "The Simple Life," will really be going back to basics when she checks into a Los Angeles County jail next month to do time for violating her probation.

The 26-year-old socialite, a symbol of privilege and the excesses of America's celebrity culture, was ordered last week to report on June 5 to the Century Regional Detention Facility south of downtown Los Angeles, to serve a 45-day sentence for driving while her license was suspended.

Hilton was visibly shocked and tearful when a judge imposed the sentence, later calling it "cruel and unwarranted."



Read the rest here.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

05-06-07


Geeky observation: you know, in much of the world they might not even understand the significance of the title of this post, since in many societies people place the digits of the month and date opposite of how we do it in the States. And in referring to it as 'today's date' I will have lost a significant portion of the world's population, as in all but 22 time zones it's already tomorrow. But for another hour and a few minutes, today's date is a number sequence that will not happen again for another thousand years. Well, at least not until this coming June 5th.


+++++


I went this past weekend to a garage sale with daughter number one AE. Well, I should correct that: we went to a Festival of Garage Sales. Really. That's what it's called. There are many such neighborhood events around the city, but the one in Bryn Mawr just west of downtown Minneapolis is one of the best. Held the first Saturday and Sunday of each May, around 100+ families put the detritus of their middle-class lives on sale for strangers to take away, for a small amount of cash. The kinds of things people own *and* are willing to rid themselves of say something about them. I was able to glean bits and pieces of their lives by seeing the kinds of books they read, the clothes they wear, the movies they watch, the music they listen to - or don't, as the case may be.

Anyway, I've been going every year for nearly a decade and while some years are better than others, I've never been really disappointed, and almost always come home with something interesting. This year I picked up some CD's (Hole, Sinatra, Bill Withers, Talking Heads, Mark Knoffler), a DVD, some blank VHS cassettes, some clothes for AE, and books for the girls. I don't think we spent much over $20, but I felt we got some good bargains.

+++++


I mowed the lawn today for the first time this year. It was starting to look raggedy and in need of a trim. It always takes some doing to the lawnmower started at the beginning of each season, but after some false starts, it kicked over, and I was able to get going. Even with a power mower, it still takes over an hour to do the whole yard, but it wasn't that bad, and it felt good to get the yard looking nice. It's amazing the amount of work that a nice lawn can take up, but I've always thought an expanse of suburban green is a very pretty sight.

+++++


Migawd! In less than 30 days I'll 50 years of age. I remember when that seemed ancient, and in some respects it still does. It's a cliche' but a very true one: time flies.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Friday Night Videos - Bon Jovi Week On American Idol




'Blaze Of Glory'
Phil Stacey

+++++




'Wanted Dead Or Alive'
Chris Richardson

+++++




'Livin On A Prayer'
Jordin Sparks

+++++




'You Give Love A Bad Name'
Blake Lewis

+++++




'Ain't A Love Song'
LaKisha Jones

+++++




'Have A Nice Day'
Melinda Doolittle

+++++




'Make A Memory'
Bon Jovi

+++++


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

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


Five Books


01) - A book that you read for the first time in second grade:

Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain

02) - A book that touched your heart:

Sister Carrie - Theodore Dreiser

03) - A book that changed your thinking on race matters:

The Content Of Our Character - Shelby Steele

04) - A book you only recently (re)discovered:

The Canterbury Tales - Geoffrey Chaucer

05) - A book that you read because your girlfriend at the time goaded you into it, and that you had to read the Cliff Notes along with it, but that you didn't resent, and were actually grateful to her, for it:

Pride And Prejudice - Jane Austen


+++++


Ten Films


01) - A film that you thought was very silly but you still liked lots, just because Aishwarya Rai was in it:

Bride And Prejudice

02) - A film that you've never seen, even though you own it, and don't really feel compelled to see, because it's how much of the world
stereotypes Minnesotans.


Fargo

03) - A film that you loved as a teenager:

Fantasia

04) - A film that got rave reviews that you attended with your first serious girlfriend but that, uh, well, you didn't actually see much
of:


Amadeus

05 & 06 & 07) - Three films based on the same storyline, but only one of which was that good and had any real impact on you (#07):

05) Dangerous Laiasons
06) Cruel Intentions
07) Valmont

08) - A film you love to watch with your kids:

Muzzy (en espanol)

09) - A film that for twenty years you didn't watch all the way thru until your Bachelor Party:

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

10) - A great film that you'd like to own:

The Usual Suspects

+++++


Twenty Songs


01) - A song that you loved the instant you heard it:

Gotta Be That Way - The House Of Love

02) - A song that you think is primal and wonderful:

I Love Rock And Roll - Joan Jett

03) - A song that offered you calm in the midst of a storm:

Heartbeats - Jose Gonzalez

04) - A song that you enjoy a whole lot more than you ever imagined you would:

Toxic - Britney Spears

05) - A song that you recently learned to play on the guitar, after twenty-seven years of trying:

Look Out For My Love - Neil Young

06) - A song that made your head spin and turned your brain to mush the first, second - and every other time, still - you heard it:

Black The Sun - Alex LLoyd

07) - A song that makes you laugh:

White And Nerdy - Weird Al

08 ) - A song that you've heard hundreds of times, but have never grown tired of:

The Lakes Of Canada - The Innocence Mission

09) - A song that for the longest time you couldn't listen to without breaking into tears:

Libera Me - Leslie Phillips

10) - A song that annoys the snot out of you:

Night Moves - Bob Seger

11) - A song that you find absolutely heartbreaking:

In Germany Before The War - Randy Newman

12) - A song that makes you tap your feet and nod your head:

Can't Get You Out Of My Head - Kylie Minogue

13) - A song that paints one of the most astonishing pictures of desolation and abandonment ever committed to music:

The Seabirds - The Triffids

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

Rehab - Amy Winehouse

15) - A song that reminds you just how pissed-off a woman scorned can be:

Since You've Been Gone - Kelly Clarkson

16) - A song that leaves you feeling oh-so-sad and melancholic to the point of tearing up:

Let's Get Lost - Elliott Smith

17) - A song that makes you smile:

AM Radio - Everclear

18) - A song that you maintain is one of the best new rock tunes you've heard in the past year:

I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor - Arctic Monkeys

19) - A song that scares you:

All The Pretty Horses - Snakefarm

20) A song that you find uplifting:

Beautiful Day - U2

+++++