Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Remembering Keith

From Blogizdat LJ:

On December 17, 1981 my best friend was killed by a drunk driver. What follows is something I wrote in his honor and posted several years back, and indeed, have posted more than once, but it's important to me, so I'm re-posting, with minor revisions and corrections.

Read the rest here.

Oh, yeah, one more thing: please, please, please don't drink and drive.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tuesday AM

From Blogizdat LJ:

I don't get it.

Nearly every day I think to myself that I really need to start writing here again, and nearly every day I find some reason to not do so.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

How Obama Got Elected

From How Obama Got Elected:

"Promote then as an object of primary importance, Institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened."

George Washington, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796

On November 4th, 2008 millions of Americans were shocked that a man of Barack Obama's limited experience, extreme liberal positions and radical political alliances could be elected President of the United States. For many of these Americans, the explanation was rather simple... the news media, completely enamored with Obama, simply refused to do their job.

On Election day twelve Obama voters were interviewed extensively right after they voted to learn how the news media impacted their knowledge of what occurred during the campaign. These voters were chosen for their apparent intelligence/verbal abilities and willingness to express their opinions to a large audience. The rather shocking video below seeks to provide some insight into which information broke through the news media clutter and which did not.

Read the rest here.

John Ziegler On The B-Cast

View here.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Audacity Wins

From Wikinews:

Barack Obama elected 44th President of the United States

The 2008 presidential Democratic nominee, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois is projected to win at least 338 electoral votes, enough to clinch the Presidency of the United States. Obama is the first African American to be elected President in U.S. history.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Correction And Re-Post

Hmmm, very strange: I was reviewing something I'd just posted to my Blogizdat Livejournal today, and noticed that one of my recent posts there from mid-October was set to 'friends-only' and I hadn't meant to do that, and I have to suppose that no one saw it, but then again, no one mentioned not being able to link to it from here, so I have to think that just confirms what I've thought, that no one reads any of this. Hah.

Well, anyway, I'm re-posting here what you could have read, if you read, when you read, or didn't read, before.


From Blogizdat LJ:

On Blogging

I know I haven't written much here, recently, and I keep meaning to write more, but it's so easy to fall into Facebook/Twitter mode (yes, I have an account with both) and just post little blips of nothing to those sites, and it all seems so pedestrian, but then again, that's pretty much real life, too, innit, just a collection of meaningless events, connected by more of the same. Maybe that's why I still like blogging, cause it's only in backing away from the canvas and pondering it all that I can see how the pretty and ugly little pixels actually make up a larger picture.

Or something.

So, anyway, I'll try to write more. I promise. Yeah, know you've heard that before, but you'll see, it'll be different this time, baby. I've turned over a new leaf. I'm a new man. I've changed.

Or something.


Read the rest here.

Go. Read. Enjoy.

This And That And The Other

From Blogizdat LJ:

This And That And The Other

Okay, I'm starting this on Saturday night, and I've felt a bit weird all day, just kind of out of my element, partly because I've been coming down with a cold this past week, and partly the same-old feeling of anxiety that plagues me periodically, the kind that feels like it comes from the pit of the stomach and moves up and out of the sternum.

Yeah, that one. Never felt it? Good for you. It's not fun.

Thing is, it's strange that it's not entirely out-of-the-blue, cause there are triggers, and I know what they might be, but it's not consistent, and sometimes they set me off, and sometimes they don't - it's hit or miss, just unpredictable, really. But as I've written here so many times, when it comes crashing in there's little I can do to alleviate it other than to go for a long walk and/or just wait for it to pass, and today my foot has been hurting so much that I couldn't do the walking thing, so I'm just going to have to ride it out.


As an aside, it's funny, I've experienced periodic trips to The Dark Place since I was quite young, and yet it wasn't until about two or three years ago that I began to be able to unravel the difference between depression and anxiety. I guess for years I'd thought it was all just the same, and when clinicians would ask me if I was experiencing one or the other, I'd always feel stupid for not knowing how to differentiate them, but now I feel stupid because I can, cause it's like talking about the weather, even having armed myself with knowledge, there's still nothing I can do about it all.

Or something.

Read the rest here:

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Audacity Of Hype

From Ebay


Signed 10/2/08 In MICH!! RARE!! True FIRST PRINTING!!

Current bid: US $511.00

No payments until 2009 - new eBay MasterCard
End time: 21 hours 30 mins (Nov-02-08 14:10:03 PST)
US $12.00
Service to United States
Ships to: Worldwide
Item location: God Bless The USA, United States
History: 10 bids
High bidder: t***a( 19Feedback score is 10 to 49)

See the auction here.

Seeing Red

From Science Daily:

Red Enhances Men's Attraction To Women, Psychological Study Reveals

ScienceDaily (Oct. 28, 2008) — A groundbreaking study by two University of Rochester psychologists to be published online Oct. 28 by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology adds color—literally and figuratively—to the age-old question of what attracts men to women.

Through five psychological experiments, Andrew Elliot, professor of psychology, and Daniela Niesta, post-doctoral researcher, demonstrate that the color red makes men feel more amorous toward women. And men are unaware of the role the color plays in their attraction.

The research provides the first empirical support for society's enduring love affair with red. From the red ochre used in ancient rituals to today's red-light districts and red hearts on Valentine's Day, the rosy hue has been tied to carnal passions and romantic love across cultures and millennia. But this study, said Elliot, is the only work to scientifically document the effects of color on behavior in the context of relationships

Read the rest here.

Latest Geocaching Craze?

From AFP:

Brazil markets GPS lingerie, 'Find Me If You Can'

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) — Lingerie maker Lucia Iorio says her new design targets the modern, techno-savvy woman, but the GPS-equipped "Find Me If You Can" line has raised the hackles of feminists who call it a 21st-century chastity belt.

The lingerie combo consists of lace bodice, bikini bottom and faux pearl collar, with the GPS device visibly nestled in the see-through part of the bodice next to the waist.

"This collection... is a wink to women and a challenge to men because, even if she gives him the password to her GPS, she can always turn it off," Iorio told AFP.

"She can be found only if she wants to."

Read the rest here.

MTV Music

From Gizmodo:

I hope you've got some time to kill, because the new MTV Music website is pretty much the coolest thing ever for music fans. At long last, the MTV name is being associated with music videos again, because the "music" channel has gone and put its entire archive of music videos online, all embeddable and in high quality. It's like Hulu for music videos, only with less ads (for now). And it's awesome.

The site's still very young, but just poking around shows the amazing amount of content on there. There aren't just music videos on here, but also songs played on shows like VH1 Storytellers and MTV Unplugged. Just check out above, where I've embedded Nirvana playing The Man Who Sold the World from their unplugged set. As of this writing, it's been played 8 times.

Before this just degenerates into me embedding my favorite music videos, I'll just leave you with this video for Wanderlust by Bjork and then let you go explore for yourself. Just from my surface exploration, it includes pretty much everything, from old acts to new, major label acts to indies. Go, go now! [MTV Music]

Read the whole post here.

From The WTH Files

From Newsweek:

The World Hopes for Its First President

By Stryker McGuire | NEWSWEEK

Published Nov 1, 2008

From the magazine issue dated Nov 10, 2008

The world has never watched any vote, in any nation, so closely. In country after country, polls show record-high fascination with the outcome of the U.S. elections this Tuesday. In Japan, according to one poll, there's more interest in the election than there is in the United States. The Voice of America, which broadcasts in 45 languages to a worldwide audience of 134 million, is seeing "unprecedented interest." In Pakistan there was so much interest in the first presidential debate, the VOA changed its initial plans and broadcast the next two as well. Indonesians and Kenyans, are of course fascinated and somewhat astonished by the fact that Barack Obama, a man with ties to both places, should be the front runner, and in Vietnam, there is much discussion over John McCain, a man who returned home from Hanoi in 1973 a wounded man and spent the rest of his life in dedicated service to the United States.

Europe is thrilled by the prospect that whatever happens this week it will mean the end of George W. Bush, and enraptured by the sheer spectacle of it all. James Dickmeyer, the director of the Foreign Press Centers, which helps international press cover U.S. political campaigns, says foreign journalists swarmed not only the Iowa caucuses but even the Iowa State Fair's Straw Poll, which they had never covered before. Bob Worcester, the American-born founder of the London-based polling and research firm Mori, has worked in more than 40 countries, and says he has "never ever seen any election in which so many people in so many places have been so interested."

It's very clear who they are interested in: Barack Obama. John McCain and Sarah Palin are by all accounts still in the race, but McCain has become a political cipher in a world that has of late tuned into Obama 24/7. (Obama's running mate, Joe Biden, is an afterthought to the international audience). Obama went into Election Day with a steady lead in U.S. polls, averaging about 50 percent to 44 percent for McCain, but he was headed for a landslide around the world, topping polls in virtually every nation often by strong margins: 70 percent in Germany, 75 percent in China and so on. Somewhere along the road to the White House, Obama became the world's candidate—a reminder that for all the talk of America's decline, for all the visceral hatred of Bush, the rest of the world still looks upon the United States as a land of hope and opportunity. "The Obama adventure is what makes America magical," French State Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Human Rights Rama Yade, a Senegalese immigrant who is the only black member of Nicolas Sarkozy's government, recently told Le Parisien.

Read the rest here.

Busking Muzzy

WTH? How Did I Miss This?

From Little Green Footballs:

Obama's 'Civilian National Security Force'

Politics | Wed, Oct 29, 2008 at 5:48:57 pm PST

Among the many promises and pledges in Barack Obama’s multi-million dollar infomercial, one statement really stood out: he announced that he will “rebuild the military.”

But somehow, at the same time, he’s planning a “civilian national security force” that is as powerful and well-funded as the US military: Obama outlines plan for national service.

“We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set,” he said Wednesday. “We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well funded.”

The Department of Defense’s current base budget is close to $500 billion. So if he meant that promise, he plans on a total defense budget of about a trillion dollars.

What exactly is Obama planning to do with a “civilian force” with such an astronomical level of funding?

Read the original here.

Serendipity Do

Very strange. I was just in the middle of reading some online sites on Narcissism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder on Saturday AM when I was startled to receive the following fascinating article, forwarded to me by a friend.

From The American Chronicle:

Barack Obama - Narcissist or Merely Narcissistic?

by Sam Vaknin Ph.D.

August 11, 2008

Barack Obama appears to be a narcissist. Scroll down for a detailed treatment.

Granted, only a qualified mental health diagnostician can determine whether someone suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and this, following lengthy tests and personal interviews. But, in the absence of access to Barack Obama, one has to rely on his overt performance and on testimonies by his closest, nearest and dearest.

Narcissistic leaders are nefarious and their effects pernicious. They are subtle, refined, socially-adept, manipulative, possessed of thespian skills, and convincing. Both types equally lack empathy and are ruthless and relentless or driven.

Perhaps it is time to require each candidate to high office in the USA to submit to a rigorous physical and mental checkup with the results made public.

Read the rest here.


From Blogizdat LJ:

So, we're about to hold yet another election for president in these United States, and the peoples of the world are holding their breaths, hoping and praying we do the right thing by electing their choice of Barack M. Hussein Obama to the highest office of our land.


Look, I know this will smack of extreme arrogance and hubris but I don't really give a hoot in hades what some wine-sipping effete French pseudo-intellectual, or neo-Marxist Oxford Uni Econ professor, or power-mad Iranian Parliament President thinks or wants us to do.

No, really. I do not care what they think.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

This And That

From Blogizdat LJ:

On Blogging

I know I haven't written much here, recently, and I keep meaning to write more, but it's so easy to fall into Facebook/Twitter mode (yes, I have an account with both) and just post little blips of nothing to those sites, and it all seems so pedestrian, but then again, that's pretty much real life, too, innit, just a collection of meaningless events, connected by more of the same. Maybe that's why I still like blogging, cause it's only in backing away from the canvas and pondering it all that I can see how the pretty and ugly little pixels actually make up a larger picture.

Or something.

So, anyway, I'll try to write more. I promise. Yeah, know you've heard that before, but you'll see, it'll be different this time, baby. I've turned over a new leaf. I'm a new man. I've changed.

Or something.


Read the rest here.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Cylinder Preservation And Digitization Project

From Cylinder Preservation And Digitization Project:

Cylinder recordings, the first commercially produced sound recordings, are a snapshot of musical and popular culture in the decades around the turn of the 20th century. They have long held the fascination of collectors and have presented challenges for playback and preservation by archives and collectors alike.

With funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the UCSB Libraries have created a digital collection of nearly 8,000 cylinder recordings held by the Department of Special Collections. In an effort to bring these recordings to a wider audience, they can be freely downloaded or streamed online.

On this site you will have the opportunity to find out more about the cylinder format, listen to thousands of musical and spoken selections from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and discover a little-known era of recorded sound. If you know what you are looking for click the search button to begin, or you can browse by genre or sample some of our favorite selections in the featured cylinder section or by listening to online streaming radio.

Very cool.

LOL Cats

From the February 1932 The American Mercury, by HL Mencken, on the moribund League Of Nations, the predecessor to the nearly-equally moribund United Nations:'

“The advocates of the League commonly represent it to be a sort of international parliament, aloof and superior, but it is really no more that than its creature, the World Court, is a tribunal of justice. As I have said, it is simply a congress of ambassadors. During its first years it was perfumed by visionaries who honestly believed in its professed purposes, but of late it has been controlled absolutely by professional diplomats, and they carry on its proceedings according to the immemorial patterns of their order. That is to say, they pay no heed whatever to the rights and wrongs of the controversies before them, save perhaps when the litigants are too weak to be formidable, but confine themselves rapturously to grabbing all they can for the countries they work for, and for the friends and allies of those countries. What interests them is by no means the common welfare of the human race; what interests them is simply the knavish, witless business of their trade - juggling laboriously for advantage (main petty), forestalling and hornswoggling the other fellow, and setting up and knocking down balances of power. In all creation there are no stupider men than diplomats, nor any more anti-social, nor any less honest. Their dishonesty, indeed, is so deep-seated that most of them are quite unconscious of it, as a Georgia cracker is unconscious of his hookworms and fleas.”


While I'm At It

As I said, I'm not much for platitudes, but sometimes I find stuff online that connects with me, like this one, and again, I don't know who should get attribution, but it wasn't I that wrote it. Oh well, it's still worth reading.

Read on.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it.

The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience.

I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth, oh never mind, you will never understand the power and the beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in twenty years, you will look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now, how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked.

You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don't worry about the future or worry that know that worrying is as affective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind. The kind that blindsides you at 4 PM on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.


Don't be reckless with other peoples' hearts; don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Don't waste your time on jealousy, sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind.

The race is long and in the end, it's only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive, forget the insults.

If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters; throw away your old bank statements.


Don't feel guilty if you don't know what to do with your life.

The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to knees, you'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't.

Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't.

Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the 'Funky Chicken' on your 75th wedding anniversary.

Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either.

Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else's.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can, don't be afraid of it or what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your own living room.

Read the directions even if you don't follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good.

Be nice to your siblings. They are your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but a precious few are those whom you should hold onto.

Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, for as the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard.

Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.


Accept certain inalienable truths: prices will rise, politicians will philander, you too will get old and when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don't expect anyone else to support you.

Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse but you'll never know when either one will run out.

Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're forty, it will look eighty-five.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling for more than it's worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

Yeah, if you get nothing else out of that, remember the sunscreen.


I don't go much for platitudes, but I found this on someone's blog some time ago, and it spoke to me. I don't know who should get attribution, but there's pearls of wisdom within, and I pass it on to you, dear reader. (Of course, I'm lying by posting the title, really, cause a whole lot of these I haven't learned at all, but I still know any number of them to be true.

Read on:


I've learned that you cannot make someone love you. All you can do is be someone who can be loved. The rest is up to them.

I've learned that no matter how much I care, some people just don't care back.

I've learned that just because someone doesn't love you the way you want them to, doesn't mean they don't love you with all they have.

I've learned that it takes years to build up trust, and only seconds to destroy it.

I've learned that it's not what you have in your life but who you have in your life that counts.

I've learned that you can get by on charm for about fifteen minutes. After that, you'd better know something.

I've learned that you shouldn't compare yourself to the best others can do but to the best you can do.

I've learned that it's not what happens to people that's important. It's what they do about it.

I've learned that you can do something in an instant that will give you heartache for life.

I've learned that it's taking me a long time to become the person I want to be.

I've learned that you should always leave loved ones with loving words. It may be the last time you see them.

I've learned that we are responsible for what we do, no matter how we feel.

I've learned that either you control your attitude or it controls you.

I've learned that regardless of how hot and steamy a relationship is at first, the passion fades and there had better be something else to take its place.

I've learned that heroes are the people who do what has to be done when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences.

I've learned that learning to forgive takes practice.

I've learned that there are people who love you dearly, but just don't know how to show it.

I've learned that money is a lousy way of keeping score.

I've learned that my best friend and I can do anything or nothing and have the best time.

I've learned that sometimes the people you expect to kick you when you're down will be the ones to help you get back up.

I've learned that sometimes when I'm angry I have the right to be angry, but that doesn't give me the right to be cruel.

I've learned that true friendship continues to grow, even over the longest distance. Same goes for true love.

I've learned that maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you've had and what you've learned from them and less to do with how many birthdays you've celebrated.

I've learned that you should never tell a child their dreams are unlikely or outlandish. Few things are more humiliating, and what a tragedy it would be if they believed it.

Like I said, I haven't really learned all of these, not yet.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Welcome Back To Me, From Me

From Blogizdat LJ:

It's strange, I haven't written here in four or five weeks, and the longer I don't write, the more it just feels like there's no reason to ever write again, but it isn't like I haven't wanted to. I mean, I *have* wanted to, but it feels like inertia takes over, and it becomes ever more difficult to start back in again.

What's feels most sad is that I utterly neglected to note the birthday of my deceased sister on the 7th of September, the opening of the new 35W bridge over the Mississippi River on the 18th of September, as well the 4-year anniversary of the start of this blog on the 20th of September, and I really kind of regret all that.

So, what's been going on?

Read the rest here.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Thursday Night Quotes: The Exciting Life

"I'm as dull as dirt, about as exciting as doing the dishes, a man who's future is securely behind him, and I'm not even sure that's entirely a bad thing, but there are days when I wish I could live an exciting and interesting life. Thing is, I really do have responsibilities and obligations, and let's face it, not everyone gets to be an astronaut, right?"

Muzzy - From Blogizdat LJ

Treadmill Kitties

Thursday Night Quotes: Skepticism

"Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong. All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant, in this field as in all others. His culture is based on "I am not too sure.""

Minority Report : H.L. Mencken's Notebooks (1956)

Thursday Night Quotes: Letters

"More than kisses, letters mingle souls."

John Donne

Thursday Night Quotes: The Glass

"Tim does not see the glass as half empty; he sees it as 90% empty with mold growing in it and a rancid smell emanating from it."

Tim, Facebook Friend

Thursday Night Quotes: Love

"Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn't it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses. You build up a whole armor, for years, so nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life... You give them a piece of you. They didn't ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn't your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like 'maybe we should be just friends' or 'how very perceptive' turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It's a soul-hurt, a body-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. Nothing should be able to do that. Especially not love. I hate love."

The character "Rose Walker" in The Sandman #65
Neil Gaiman

Thursday Night Quotes: Suffering

"To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering one must not love. But then one suffers from not loving. Therefore to love is to suffer, not to love is to suffer. To suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love. To be happy then is to suffer. But suffering makes one unhappy. Therefore, to be unhappy one must love, or love to suffer, or suffer from too much happiness."

Woody Allen

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Perl Before Swine

A Lesson In Slides


From Blogizdat LJ:

I spent some time this past weekend installing VMWare Fusion on my Mac, a program that allows me to use alternative Operating Systems. It's not an emulator, per se, or at least not a full-fledged one like Virtual PC, in that for the most part the hardware isn't being emulated.

Read the rest here.

Now This Explains Alot

From Science Daily:

People With ADHD Do One Month's Less Work Per Year, Study Finds

ScienceDaily (May 28, 2008) — Workers with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) do 22 days less work per year than people who do not have the disorder, finds new research. So much work is being lost that the researchers recommend employers consider screening staff for ADHD and providing treatment for those affected, because it would be more cost-effective for their businesses.

People who have ADHD find it difficult to concentrate because they may be hyperactive, easily distracted, forgetful or impulsive. Children with the disorder are being increasingly diagnosed because they are likely to be tested for ADHD if they have problems with their schoolwork. However, many adults with ADHD do not know they have the condition.

Read the rest here.


From Yahoo News:

No, I don't want to be your social-networking friend

By John LengerFri Jul 18, 4:00 AM ET

Dear Friend (if I may still call you that),

Recently I received an email inviting me to be your friend on LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Friendster, or some other professional- or social-networking website.

I receive many such emails, which I pretend I don't get. But LinkedFaceTickleFreakSpaceFriend, or whatever you call the website, keeps sending messages claiming to be you, so I feel compelled to respond.

I'm sure you mean well, and I'm flattered. But I'm not sure you've thought this through. At the risk of sounding unfriendly, this is why I can't be your friend:

1) Your friends may not be my friends. Your friends may be hyper-aggressive salespeople, spammers, stalkers, random jerks, or just plain nuts. Not that I think your contacts are, but how do you weed out the weirdos online? As you know, I work at a well-respected university with an impressive name. It doesn't hurt my feelings that my work affiliation is probably why you want to link to me, as opposed to my killer rendition of "Hunka Hunka Burning Love." My email and voice mail already overflow with demands from would-be friends that I buy their whirligig, hire their nephew, or find a spot for their child in the next freshman class – mostly from people I've never met. If I joined you on BooBooFunnyFaceCookBook, or whatever you call it, I would never have another moment's peace.

Read the rest here.

All You Really Need To Know About Celebrity Deaths

Celebrity Deaths
Dead Or Alive?
Celebrity Death Beeper

Monday, August 11, 2008


From Blogizdat Livejournal:

Most of us have things in our lives - past and present - that we're ashamed of, or at least that we don't like to admit to ourselves, let alone to others, those embarrassing things that cause us to cringe when we look at ourselves in the mirror, knowing full-well how easy it was to fall into the pit that now ensnares us, and how in the past we have looked down our noses at others who've been so enmeshed. Please allow me to share my story as a cautionary tale.

Read the rest here.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Friday Night Videos - Rckgurl Hayley

'The Importance Of Being Idle'
Rckgurl (Hayley)


'On My Own'
Rckgurl (Hayley)


'What You See In Me'
Rckgurl (Hayley)


'When The Sun Goes Down'
Rckgurl (Hayley)



From Dallas News:

8-8-08 proves to be a popular date for weddings

11:49 AM CDT on Thursday, August 7, 2008

By RACHEL SLADE / The Dallas Morning News

It’s a day that comes once in a lifetime — or at least once in a century.

Last summer, brides fought over caterers, venues and gowns in preparation for their July 7 weddings. This year the desired date is 8-8-08.

Tiffani Mauldin, 31, and Ryan Frederick, 23, of Dallas tattooed triple eights on their wrists before their engagement as a symbol of their infinite love. They will marry the evening of 8-8-08
View larger Photography Photo store

“It’s huge,” said Rebecca Dolgin, executive editor of The Knot magazine. “Couples want to make their wedding unique, and what better way to do it than to pick a special date?”

Happy couples aren’t the only ones hoping the date will bring them good fortune. The number has special meaning for many Asians, especially in China where the 29th Olympiad is set to kick off at 8:08:08 p.m. Friday.

Read the rest here.

Friday, August 01, 2008

August 1st

I'm not going to write much tonight, as I've only got about fifteen minutes till today is done, but I wanted to make note of the day, August 1st, 2008, the first anniversary of the 35w bridge collapse. For those not in the know, here's what happened:


And this is what I posted the next afternoon:

From Blogizdat:

I'm Okay, But Not Okay

I wanted to put up a quick note here to let the world know that I'm okay, but that's not at all true, I'm very much Not Okay.

I'm not as Not Okay as the many unfortunates who were on the 35W Mississippi River Bridge when it collapsed yesterday, and their families and friends and co-workers, but still, I'm Not Okay.

I have been in the grip of the grippe for most of this week, feeling achy, tired, nose running, sneezing, coughing - you get the picture - but I came into work downtown yesterday anyway. I was in a daze most of the day, and didn't get an enormous amount of work done, but I did make progress on some projects that were on my desk. Several times I had tried to summon the energy to leave early, but just didn't feel up to the drive, but I was actually feeling just a wee bit better when I left to go home at around 7 PM.

Read the rest here.


So, it's a year later, we have a new bridge (almost), and life is back to normal, right?

Well, in a sense, yes. The new bridge should be open in the fall, life goes on, and I'm more okay than I was on August 2nd last year, but I'm still not entirely okay. Even though I didn't know anyone on the bridge that day, it really shook me up, and rearranged my thinking about a lot of things.

I'm not trying to be melodramatic, but what happened that day was the essence of two of my great fears: drownings, because of what happened to little sister Elizabeth, and car wrecks, because of what happened to my best friend Keith, and since then I haven't been able to cross bridges without at least a momentary worry flit thru my head, and I have found myself more concerned with the fragility of everything from cars and computers, to relationships with friends and family, and left me feeling less secure, in general, fretting about things I've never fretting about before. Then again, in some ways it's caused me to reconsider my priorities, and perhaps even become a better person, so maybe there's a silver lining in every cloud, after all.

Friday Night Videos - Some Faves

'Emancipate Myself'
Thirsty Merc


'One Crowded Hour' (live)
Augie March


'Don't U Eva' (live)
Sarah Blasko


'Special Ones' (not in any way official)


'Black The Sun'
Alex Lloyd


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Betty June, RIP

From Blogizdat LJ:

The mother of my best friends from college (and since) passed away late this past week.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Sad Day

The Graying of Kindergarten

From WSJ:

The Graying of Kindergarten

July 18, 2008, 12:55 pm

A new study draws attention to the social consequences of a decades-old trend in parenting: having kids start school a year later. For years, research showing the benefits of being an older first-grader, as well as the experience of countries like Finland where schooling doesn’t start until age seven, has encouraged parents and teachers to “redshirt” kids. In 1968, 96% of six-year-olds were enrolled in first grade or above. By 2005, that number had fallen to 84%. The percentage of six-year-olds enrolled in school, meanwhile, stayed about the same. What does that mean for late-starting schoolchildren years down the road — and for the rest of us?

Read the rest here.

Saturday Quote Of The Day

From Brainy Quote:

"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people."

Gilbert K. Chesterton

Found On The Web

Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday Quote Of The Day

From Brainy Quote:

"Men now monopolize the upper levels... depriving women of their rightful share of opportunities for incompetence."

Laurence J. Peter

Friday Night Videos - Reprising, Just Because

Smashing Pumpkins


Regina Spektor


'White Flag' (live)


'Read My Mind'
The Killers


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Moment Of Truth

From Blogizdat LJ:

Some Random Things About Me:


I Speak Nineteen Different Languages

Okay, that's not quite true, it's more like Eighteen, at least in the sense that Three and Eighteen are both numbers, but I really *do* speak Three Different Languages, except that I'm sorta fibbing, cause Spanish and Portuguese are not *that* different, and anyway, forget all those furrin' languages, cause I at least managed to learn English, and it's all the more impressive that I actually picked up the Ebonics and Southern White dialects from watching 'The Jeffersons' and 'The Dukes Of Hazzard,' respectively.

Read the rest here.

Because You're *So* Special

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Tony Snow, RIP

From Yahoo AP News:

Former Bush press secretary Tony Snow dies

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - Tony Snow, a conservative writer and commentator who cheerfully sparred with reporters in the White House briefing room during a stint as President Bush's press secretary, died Saturday of colon cancer. He was 53.

"America has lost a devoted public servant and a man of character," President Bush said in a statement from Camp David, where he was spending the weekend. "It was a joy to watch Tony at the podium each day. He brought wit, grace, and a great love of country to his work."

Snow died at 2 a.m. at Georgetown University Hospital, according to former employer Fox News.

Snow, who served as the first host of the television news program "Fox News Sunday" from 1996 to 2003, would later say that in the Bush administration he was enjoying "the most exciting, intellectually aerobic job I'm ever going to have.

Snow was working for Fox News Channel and Fox News Radio when he replaced Scott McClellan as press secretary in May 2006 during a White House shake-up. Unlike McClellan, who came to define caution and bland delivery from the White House podium, Snow was never shy about playing to the cameras.

With a quick-from-the-lip repartee, broadcaster's good looks and a relentlessly bright outlook — if not always a command of the facts — he became a popular figure around the country to the delight of his White House bosses.

He served just 17 months as press secretary, a tenure interrupted by his second bout with cancer. In 2005 doctors had removed his colon and he began six months of chemotherapy. In March 2007 a cancerous growth was removed from his abdominal area and he spent five weeks recuperating before returning to the White House.

"All of us here at the White House will miss Tony, as will the millions of Americans he inspired with his brave struggle against cancer," Bush said.

Read the rest here.




I never met Tony Snow, but I watched and listened to him often, and admired and respected him very much. He was a great broadcaster and a good man, and his grace and dignity during his fight with the cancer that took his life was an inspiration to many. I am not ashamed to say that the news of his death brought tears to my eyes just now. He will be missed.

A Simpler Way To Fitness

From Yahoo Health:

Burn Calories Without Trying

Posted Mon, Jun 30, 2008, 12:27 pm PDT

Exercise has always been a part of my life. Growing up, I played sports, and now I train to compete in short- and medium-distance triathlons. (No Ironman for me!) I also incorporate fitness into time I spend with my family: We bike, hike, kayak, play catch or tennis, or kick around a soccer ball. Basically, being active is a habit, and when fitness is intertwined with your day-to-day, you not only get trim and healthy, you stay that way for life.

So do something (anything!) active most days to burn extra calories and lose weight. Dropping calories is incredibly simple and can have residual benefits. Vacuuming, for example, burns as many as a slow walk on a treadmill, plus yields a spotless carpet. Think about that the next time you put off doing chores. Check out these other sneaky ways to stay fit:

Burn, baby, burn on the weekends

• Walk at a sightseeing pace (2 mph): 161 calories an hour. Keep abs tight during the walk to help tone them.
• Mow the lawn (30 minutes): 177 calories
• Push a cart around the grocery store (45 minutes): 121 calories
• Plant in your garden: 290 calories per hour (Plus it strengthens your arms and back.)
• Rearrange your living room furniture (30 minutes): 193 calories
• Pack the car for a trip (15 minutes): 56 calories

Read the rest here.

It's Official: The Boy Can't Help It


Science proves that bikinis turn men into boobs

Sexy images rob male brain of ability to make wise decisions

By Brian Alexander
MSNBC contributor

updated 4:23 p.m. CT, Fri., June. 20, 2008

You may have known this all along, but now it has been demonstrated scientifically: bikinis make men stupid.

This month’s issue of the Journal of Consumer Research features a paper titled “Bikinis Instigate Generalized Impatience in Intertemporal Choice,” which is a neuroeconomist’s (definition in a moment) way of saying that men don’t make good decisions while checking out pretty girls in bikinis.

Hence automakers’ penchant for placing leggy models in front of absurdly priced cars at auto shows, and the casting of three scantily clad women on that “Republica Deportiva” show on Univision which I find myself watching though I don’t care whether Chivas defeated Rayados del Monterey.

Virgil wrote of the phenomenon 2,000 years ago when he created the epic poem “The Aeneid.” When Venus convinces Vulcan to make some special armor, she

"…threw her snow-white arms around him
As he held back, caressing him here and there,
And suddenly he caught fire — the same old story,
The flame he knew by heart went running through him,
Melting him to the marrow of his bones…
She knew her beauty’s power."

Read the rest here.

The Tank's Open Letter To Senator Obama

From The Tank:

Senator Obama: Mission Illogical?

[Joel Arends]

Friday, July 11, 2008

What’s the deal, Senator Obama? For 915 days now, you have avoided Iraq like the plague and have refused to meet one-on-one with General Petraeus. You’ve continued to ignore the truth about Iraq — violence is down, the Iraqi military is taking control, political progress is accelerating — in favor of spreading false gloom and doom. With all the good news coming from Iraq, where’s this so-called “change we can believe in?” It’s becoming clear that facts on the ground, the strategy adopted by our top-level commanders, and the desire of our troops to complete their mission all undermine the whole purpose of your candidacy.

When the president announced his plans for the surge in his 2007 State of the Union address, you scoffed: “I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse.” A year ago this week, only one month into the surge, you made this bold and completely erroneous statement: "Here's what we know. The surge has not worked." Last November on “Meet the Press,” you said, “not only have we not seen improvements, but we're actually worsening, potentially, a situation there,” and stated: “I would end this war, and I would have the troops out within 16 months.” On March 19, 2008, in Fayetteville, North Carolina, you stated that upon becoming President you would “immediately begin to remove our troops.” Today, everyone knows the surge has worked — even John Murtha and Hillary Clinton have admitted it. You consistently claim to have the judgment to lead our great nation, Senator Obama; now it’s time to use that judgment and acknowledge reality.

Read the rest here.

Friday, July 11, 2008

One More From The WTH? Files

From The Daily Mail:

Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood, 61, 'runs away with 18-year-old Russian cocktail waitress'

By Alison Boshoff and Richard Simpson
Last updated at 10:00 PM on 11th July 2008

Ronnie Wood has walked out on his wife and four children to live with a teenage cocktail waitress he met in an escort bar.

The 61-year-old Rolling Stones guitarist has fled to his mansion in Ireland with the 18-year- old Russian blonde.

His wife of 23 years, Jo, is said to have begged Ekaterina Ivanova not to take her husband away from her. The teenager is understood to have told friends that she replied: 'I am not taking him - he is leaving.'

A representative of Wood, who has battled a drink problem for years, said the girl began seeing him three months ago when he was at a low ebb, frazzled by alcohol. They have been together ever since.

Wood - who is drinking two bottles of vodka a day - met Miss Ivanova after the London premiere of the Stones documentary, Shine A Light, on April 2 in a seedy escort bar in Soho.

Within weeks the girl from Moscow had grown so close to Wood that she accompanied him back to the home he shares with Jo and their four children in Kingston upon Thames, South-West London.

At the beginning of May, Wood invited Miss Ivanova to join him at his mansion in Clane, County Kildare.

She has been writing about the relationship on the social networking website Facebook, calling Wood her 'boyfriend' and saying she is quickly 'falling in love'.

She also claims to have become Wood's painting muse, posing for him at the Irish house.

Wood's publicist made the extraordinary move of speaking publicly about his curious relationship with the teenager yesterday.

The publicist said: 'She is a drinking partner. When you're an alcoholic and your family are all telling you to stop drinking you simply find someone else to drink with. You can see how it happens, you end up pushing away the ones you love because you don't think straight.

Read the rest here.

Beware Identity Theft - Part II





Gizmodo Needs You

From Gizmodo:

So I told you this morning about how Iran made its missile test photos look more impressive by adding another missile using the magic of Photoshop. Whatever, we can do better than that. You want to impress us, Iran? Let's see some serious tech power. We'll help. Your challege, Gizmodians, is to use Photoshop to create some sweet Iranian propaganda, showing their technological advancements that are heretofore unseen.

Create images of Iran showing off its new tech, then send your brilliant results to with "Iran Tech" in the subject line. I'll take the best submissions, choose some winners and show off the results in our Gallery of Champions next Tuesday. Get propagandizing!

Saturday Night Live Transcripts

Featuring 3,364 transcripts from "Saturday Night Live"

From the WTH? Files

From NRO:

Black-Hole Speech
The will-to-power masquerades as tolerance.

By Jonah Goldberg

At a recent meeting of city officials in Dallas County, Texas, a small racial brouhaha broke out. County commissioners were hashing out difficulties with the way the central collections office handles traffic tickets. Commissioner Kenneth Mayfield found himself guilty of talking while white. He observed that the bureaucracy “has become a black hole” for lost paperwork.

Fellow Commissioner John Wiley Price took great offense, shouting, “Excuse me!” That office, the black commissioner explained, has become a “white hole.”

Seizing on the outrage, Judge Thomas Jones demanded that Mayfield apologize for the “racially insensitive analogy,” in the words of the Dallas Morning News’s City Hall Blog.

Houston Chronicle science blogger Eric Berger notes that everyone should be “very glad that the central collections office has not become a white hole, a theoretical object that ejects matter from beyond its event horizon, rather than sucking it in. It wouldn’t be fun for Dallas to find itself so near a quasar.”

Read the rest here.

As The Spirit Moves

From Fox 9 News:

Man Sues Church, Claiming Spirit Forced His Fall

Thursday, 10 Jul 2008, 2:26 PM CDT

MyFox Faith By The Associated Press

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- A man says he was so consumed by the spirit of God that he fell and hit his head while at a Knoxville church.

Now he wants Lakewind Church to pay $2.5 million for medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering he says he's endured from his injuries.

Read the rest here.

Carla Drops A Record

From AFP Google:

Carla Bruni 'hurt' by critics of new album

18 hours ago

PARIS (AFP) — France's first lady Carla Bruni admitted Friday she was "hurt" by frosty reactions to her new album from critics of her husband President Nicolas Sarkozy, as the much-hyped record hit stores across Europe.

Half a million people logged on to the web to listen to the third album by the supermodel-turned-chanteuse, "Comme Si De Rien N'Etait" (Simply), ahead of its official release, according to figures from her record label Naive.

But the 60s-flavoured album has sparked some mocking reviews and an outpouring of vitriol on the Internet by French voters hostile to the right-wing leader.

"Of course it hurts me, but I also find it quite natural," Bruni said in an interview on RTL radio Friday.

"It's understandable that people can't help mixing up my work as an artist and my function. Maybe they feel offended by the fact the head of state's wife should make a record," she said.

But the 40-year-old Bruni, who married Sarkozy in February after a whirlwind three-month romance, said she was in a "privileged enough position to be able to handle violent reactions."

Sales of the record at one giant FNAC record store in central Paris got off to a slow start Friday, with 60 copies sold by lunchtime.

"Considering all the fuss that's been made about it, it's pretty disappointing," said Pascal, 35, a salesman at the store.

His colleague Pierre, 31, predicted sales would pick up in the coming days, with Bruni due to appear on France's main evening news Friday, but he predicted a "boycott" by many left-wing voters.

"A whole chunk of her former public just won't buy it even if they like the sound," he argued.

Read the rest here.

Listen to four tracks from the new album on Carla's Myspace Page.

Worth Considering

From Science Daily:

Scientists Learn How Food Affects The Brain: Omega 3 Especially Important

ScienceDaily (July 11, 2008) — In addition to helping protect us from heart disease and cancer, a balanced diet and regular exercise can also protect the brain and ward off mental disorders.

"Food is like a pharmaceutical compound that affects the brain," said Fernando Gómez-Pinilla, a UCLA professor of neurosurgery and physiological science who has spent years studying the effects of food, exercise and sleep on the brain. "Diet, exercise and sleep have the potential to alter our brain health and mental function. This raises the exciting possibility that changes in diet are a viable strategy for enhancing cognitive abilities, protecting the brain from damage and counteracting the effects of aging."

Gómez-Pinilla analyzed more than 160 studies about food's affect on the brain; the results of his analysis appear in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience.

Omega-3 fatty acids -- found in salmon, walnuts and kiwi fruit -- provide many benefits, including improving learning and memory and helping to fight against such mental disorders as depression and mood disorders, schizophrenia, and dementia, said Gómez-Pinilla, a member of UCLA's Brain Research Institute and Brain Injury Research Center.

Synapses in the brain connect neurons and provide critical functions; much learning and memory occurs at the synapses, Gómez-Pinilla said.

"Omega-3 fatty acids support synaptic plasticity and seem to positively affect the expression of several molecules related to learning and memory that are found on synapses," Gómez-Pinilla said. "Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for normal brain function.

"Dietary deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids in humans has been associated with increased risk of several mental disorders, including attention-deficit disorder, dyslexia, dementia, depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia," he said. "A deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids in rodents results in impaired learning and memory."

Children who had increased amounts of omega-3 fatty acids performed better in school, in reading and in spelling and had fewer behavioral problems, he said.

Preliminary results from a study in England show that school performance improved among a group of students receiving omega-3 fatty acids. In an Australian study, 396 children between the ages 6 and 12 who were given a drink with omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients (iron, zinc, folic acid and vitamins A, B6, B12 and C) showed higher scores on tests measuring verbal intelligence and learning and memory after six months and one year than a control group of students who did not receive the nutritional drink. This study was also conducted with 394 children in Indonesia. The results showed higher test scores for boys and girls in Australia, but only for girls in Indonesia.

Read the rest here.

Friday Night Videos - Grab Bag

'Save The Lies'
Gabriella Cilmi


'All Of You'
Cathy Davey


'What's A Girl To Do'
Bat For Lashes


'The Age Of The Understatement'
The Last Shadow Puppets


'To Be Loved'
Joan As Police Woman'


Sunday, July 06, 2008

Long Meme: Revisted, Revised and Expanded

From Blogizdat LJ:

Long Meme: Revisted, Revised and Expanded

I first posted this last year, and as I'm feeling bored this afternoon, I decided to revisit, revise and expand it, and so I did. So here it is, then, for your enjoyment and edification:


(1) The singular boring question: What is your name?



Muzzy Blogizdat.

(2) If you had been born a member of the opposite sex, what would your name have been?'

Muzzydine Blogizette?

(3) Would you name a child of yours after you?

Neh. I have two girls, and I'm already named after my Great-Grandfather, so no.

Read the rest in all its revised and expanded glory here.

Thoughts On July Fourth

I posted this to my very first Livejournal back in 2003, and I'm reposting today, revised and amended.

From Blogizdat LJ:

So, am I proud to be an American? No, not really. But I'm not ashamed, either.

Mostly I'm humble and grateful that I have, by birthright, what millions come to America for each year, both legally and illegally: a chance to live in the nation that affords the greatest combination of political and personal freedom (and economic opportunity) on the face of the planet.

Yes, there are nations with greater per capita income (not many) and nations with greater traditions of freedom (very few). There are nations where the people are friendlier, or even healthier. But there are none with the combination of all the above, nor the vast array of opportunity that the United States of America has to offer. Some come close, but none exceed it.

With that said, I don't wish to be misunderstood.

I don't believe the US is the only good place to live, nor do I think that Americans are the best people on Earth.

Read the post here.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

The Onion Radio News

Non-Controversial Church Opens For Potential Presidential Candidates

Zionism For Christians

From First Things:

Zionism for Christians

by David Shushon

Copyright (c) 2008 First Things (June/July 2008).

Israel always matters. Biblical scholars have devoted endless pages to ancient Israel as a religious idea, and pundits have penned endless newspaper columns about modern Israel as a geopolitical entity. The deeper implications, however, have received less attention than they deserve in recent years, overshadowed by the exigencies of Middle Eastern politics. Indeed, real questions remain: What does the sheer ­existence of the modern state of Israel mean for theology—particularly for Christian theology? And what does that theology mean for the continuing existence of Israel?

“Hardly anybody will dispute that the foundation of this state had something to do with the biblical prophecy,” Christoph Cardinal Schönborn said in 1996, “even if that something is hard to define.” At ­present, the major Christian denominations are kindly disposed toward Judaism, and many Christians—­especially American evangelicals—strongly support the State of Israel. And yet not all Christians agree with the mainstream Jewish view that modern Jewish life requires the existence of a Jewish state. Indeed, it seems counterintuitive to expect Christians to support an explicitly Jewish state in an age in which Christians have mostly abandoned the idea of explicitly Christian states.

There may be good theological reasons for this ­general Christian retreat from the notion of religious governments and national churches. The Christian concept of the People of God is supranational by nature, for Christians are called out of their respective nations to become a new people. The Jews, however, understand themselves to be a unique nation formed by God for his service, and they can be the People of God only as a nation.

Jewish leaders tend to view Christian relations with the State of Israel through the prism of Jewish security after the Holocaust. That is understandable, but it does not address the issue of what Israel represents for Christian life. A sad measure of Jewish insularity is the fact that evangelical Christians seeking to help the State of Israel have encountered suspicion and hostility from many Jewish organizations. Nor is the Holocaust exclusively a Jewish concern. The Second World War taught parallel, if opposite, lessons to Jews and Catholics. Many Jews—observant Jews, most of all—opposed Zionism before the rise of the Nazis, but later they learned that the continuation of Jewish life requires full national existence. Catholics, who had ­tolerated a degree of ethnocentrism within the Church, learned from Hitler that national idolatry was Christendom’s deadliest foe.

Perhaps, these two lessons in fact are the same: Ethnocentric perversion of the concept of divine election destroyed both the Jewish communities of Europe and the influence of the Church. Think of it this way: Ultimately, Jews and Christians must remain a mystery to each other. Christians cannot help but ­recognize that Providence has sustained the Jews through their long exile, yet they cannot explain why Jews do not recognize Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of their prophecy. Jews cannot help but recognize that Christians are inspired by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, yet they cannot explain Christian belief in the divinity of Jesus, except to dismiss it as a “world-historical fiction” (in Franz Rosenzweig’s words).

Read the rest here.

Taken With A Point-And-Shoot

Taken with my new Nikon P-5100 on macro setting at Como Zoo this past Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008. (Click for full-size image.)

On The Pursuit Of Happiness

From Chicago Tribune:

Freedom: First step in the pursuit of happiness

Steve Chapman

July 4, 2008

One of the pleasures of living in America is getting to argue about rights—what they are, who has them and how to define them. In the last week, we've all had a rousing time debating the right to keep and bear arms. Americans can hardly talk about political issues without invoking these fundamental prerogatives.

Other countries may have a similar inclination to quarrel over whether people have a legitimate claim to religious freedom, a fair trial, health care or housing. The right to life and the right to liberty, on the other hand, are common assumptions around the world. But only America was founded on a right that, even today, sounds eccentric: the right to the pursuit of happiness.

The delegates in Philadelphia who approved the Declaration of Independence had a long list of complaints about King George III. They excoriated him for maintaining a standing army, dissolving elected assemblies, imposing taxes without the consent of the taxpayers and sending out "swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance."

Those are all specific, tangible abuses understandable to anyone. But the idea that the king was somehow interfering with Americans' propensity to chase after bliss was a novel one at the time. No more. One of the notable changes in the world in recent decades is the spread of freedom, including the freedom of each person to pursue happiness as he or she conceives it.

Letting people do that, it turns out, actually makes them content. This may sound like the most incontestable of truisms, but it's not.

Some science suggests that happiness is essentially a fixed commodity. It may rise or fall sharply because of events—getting a raise, breaking a leg—but over the long run, people adapt to those experiences and revert to their natural level of satisfaction (or melancholy).

Scratch that theory. According to a recent global survey, happiness is not only variable but on the rise in most of the world.

Two things, it appears, are needed to increase the supply of happiness: freedom and money. As it happens, a substantial amount of freedom is crucial to the creation of wealth. There is no such thing as a rich totalitarian country, as even the onetime totalitarians in Beijing finally realized. So in a very real sense, freedom is the key to happiness.

Read the rest here.

Well, There Goes Friday Night Videos

Fropm Wired:

Judge Orders YouTube to Give All User Histories to Viacom

By Ryan Singel
July 02, 2008 | 7:16:54 PM

Google will have to turn over every record of every video watched by YouTube users, including users' names and IP addresses, to Viacom, which is suing Google for allowing clips of its copyright videos to appear on YouTube, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Viacom wants the data to prove that infringing material is more popular than user-created videos, which could be used to increase Google's liability if it is found guilty of contributory infringement.

Viacom filed suit against Google in March 2007, seeking more than $1 billion in damages for allowing users to upload clips of Viacom's copyright material. Google argues that the law provides a safe harbor for online services so long as they comply with copyright takedown requests.

Although Google argued that turning over the data would invade its users' privacy, the judge's ruling described that argument as "speculative" and ordered Google to turn over the logs on a set of four tera-byte hard drives.

Read the rest - with lotsa user comments - here.

An Ideal Husband

From NY Times

An Ideal Husband

Published: July 6, 2008

This weekend, we celebrate our great American pastime: messy celebrity divorces.

There’s the Christie Brinkley/Peter Cook fireworks on Long Island and the Madonna/Guy Ritchie/A-Rod Roman candle in New York.

So how do you avoid a relationship where you end up saying, “The man who I was living with, I just didn’t know who he was” — as Brinkley did in court when talking about her husband’s $3,000-a-month Internet porn and swinger site habit? (Not to mention the 18-year-old mistress/assistant.)

Father Pat Connor, a 79-year-old Catholic priest born in Australia and based in Bordentown, N.J., has spent his celibate life — including nine years as a missionary in India — mulling connubial bliss. His decades of marriage counseling led him to distill some “mostly common sense” advice about how to dodge mates who would maul your happiness.

“Hollywood says you can be deeply in love with someone and then your marriage will work,” the twinkly eyed, white-haired priest says. “But you can be deeply in love with someone to whom you cannot be successfully married.”

For 40 years, he has been giving a lecture — “Whom Not to Marry” — to high school seniors, mostly girls because they’re more interested.

“It’s important to do it before they fall seriously in love, because then it will be too late,” he explains. “Infatuation trumps judgment.”

I asked him to summarize his talk:

“Never marry a man who has no friends,” he starts. “This usually means that he will be incapable of the intimacy that marriage demands. I am always amazed at the number of men I have counseled who have no friends. Since, as the Hebrew Scriptures say, ‘Iron shapes iron and friend shapes friend,’ what are his friends like? What do your friends and family members think of him? Sometimes, your friends can’t render an impartial judgment because they are envious that you are beating them in the race to the altar. Envy beclouds judgment.

“Does he use money responsibly? Is he stingy? Most marriages that founder do so because of money — she’s thrifty, he’s on his 10th credit card.

“Steer clear of someone whose life you can run, who never makes demands counter to yours. It’s good to have a doormat in the home, but not if it’s your husband.

“Is he overly attached to his mother and her mythical apron strings? When he wants to make a decision, say, about where you should go on your honeymoon, he doesn’t consult you, he consults his mother. (I’ve known cases where the mother accompanies the couple on their honeymoon!)

Read the rest here.

SIDS/Serotonin Connection?

From The Hindu:

New research sheds light on the molecular basis of crib death

Scientists develop a mouse model of sudden infant death syndrome

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is a condition that unexpectedly and unexplainably takes the lives of seemingly healthy babies aged between a month and a year. Now researchers of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Monterotondo, Italy, have developed a mouse model of the so-called crib or cot death, which remains the leading cause of death during the first year of life in developed countries. The model, published in this week's issue of Science, reveals that an imbalance of the neuronal signal serotonin in the brainstem is sufficient to cause sudden death in mice, according to Eurekalert, the news service of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The brainstem, the lower part of the brain that forms the link to the spinal cord, coordinates many fundamental functions including control over cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Victims of SIDS show alterations in those brainstem neurons that communicate using the signalling molecule serotonin. Cornelius Gross and his group at the EMBL Mouse Biology Unit modified the serotonin system of mice to understand the role of this signalling molecule in the brainstem. They overexpressed an important receptor that regulates serotonin signalling, called serotonin 1A autoreceptor.

"At first sight the mice were normal. But then they suffered sporadic and unpredictable drops in heart rate and body temperature. More than half of the mice eventually died of these crises during a restricted period of early life. It was at that point that we thought it might have something to do with SIDS," says Gross.

Until now it was unclear how changes in serotonin signalling in the brainstem of SIDS infants are involved in sudden death. The findings in the mouse show that deficits in serotonin signalling in the brainstem can be sufficient to cause sudden death and strongly support the idea that a congenital serotonin defect could play a critical role in SIDS.

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