Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday Night Videos - MiNa & Lunik




'Living In Between'
MiNa

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'Through Your Eyes'
Lunik

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'Little Bit'
Lunik

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'Most Beautiful Song'
Lunik

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Larry Norman - RIP



From Harp Magazine:



He Was Only Visiting This Planet: Larry Norman 4/8/47 – 2/24/08

Fred Mills
February 25, 2008

Larry Norman, the legendary musician and Christian rocker, died early Sunday morning at his home in Corpus Christi, Texas, from heart failure. He was 60.

Though Norman was typically referred to as “the Father of Christian Rock” — he was often associated with the countercultural Jesus People movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s—in some secular quarters he was also affectionately called “the Frank Zappa of Christian Rock” due to his outspokenness about the record industry, his uncompromising approach to making music and his sometimes eccentric ways. His career began in 1966 as frontperson for pop/psychedelic group People!, who had a huge hit single in 1968 with the Chris White-penned “I Love You.” The album of the same name also contained the terrific “What We Need Is a Lot More Jesus and a Lot Less Rock ‘n’ Roll” as well as the aptly-titled 13-minute “The Epic” (which took up all of side two).

Later, as a solo artist, Norman would record for both major labels (Verve, which issued the brilliant Only Visiting This Planet—one song on the album spawned the catch phrase, “Why should the devil have all the good music?”) and indie (Nashville’s Impact; Hollywood’s One Way), although by the mid ‘70s he’d established his own grassroots label, Solid Rock, in order to release his music without outside interference. In the ‘80s he also started the Phydeaux label as a means to counteract the spread of bootleg LPs bearing his name, for by that point he was beginning to be rediscovered by younger fans and musicians who’d heard of his complex, engaging, emotional music but had a hard time tracking down what were often limited edition pressings.



Read the rest here.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Size Matters


From The Star:



A big screen beats sex any day

February 13, 2008
Vinay Menon

When it comes to television, size does matter.

At least, it does to men. Consider a British survey released this month that found 47 per cent of male respondents would give up sex for six months in exchange for a 50-inch plasma TV.

Sounds about right.

I mean, if researchers had tossed in a hypothetical digital surround sound system, Blu-ray player and lifetime of free cable, 97 per cent of the polled blokes would have surely agreed to castration.

Anyway, here's how you validate these findings: conduct covert field research inside any electronics store. In front of towering screens that flicker, strobe, pulsate and beckon, you will stumble upon men, oh so many men, wobbling mutely in wide-eyed awe.

Some will ask questions without caring about the answers: "What's the resolution?" Some will assume various vantage points to gauge picture degradation along a horizontal plane.

Some will even feign rhetorical interest in competing technologies: "I hear rear projection is going the way of the dodo and LCD is here to stay?"

All will browse with the same unspoken conviction: "Bigger is better."



Read the rest here.

Holy Teraflops!


From Computerworld:



New 504 TFLOPS supercomputer tackling mysteries of the universe - Sun's AMD-based 'Ranger' called the world's second most powerful supercomputer

By Sharon Gaudin

February 22, 2008 (Computerworld) What is being called the second most powerful supercomputer in the world was unveiled today at the University of Texas at Austin.

Ranger, a high-performance computing cluster built by Sun Microsystems Inc., is being formally dedicated by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Texas Advanced Computing Center. The supercomputer is running 15,744 quad-core AMD Opteron processors or a total of 62,976 cores. It also has 123 terabytes of memory and 1.7 petabytes of storage.

David Rich, a spokesman for Advanced Micro Devices Inc., said if the biannual Top 500 supercomputer list were released today, Ranger would be ranked as the second most powerful supercomputer in the world.

The supercomputer has a peak performance of 504 teraflops, which is equal to 500 trillion floating-point operations per second. According to the latest Top 500 supercomputer list, which was released last November, IBM's BlueGene/L, housed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is rated the top supercomputer in the world with a peak speed of 596 teraflops.



Read the rest here.

Found On The Web




Life Lessons


From Evolving Times:



Top 10 Life Lessons I’ve Learned From My Daughter (So Far)

Father and Daughter on beachChildren bring a great amount of wisdom with them when they join us here in this world. I have known this for many years and have always loved being around children. But it was not until I became a father, a bit more than four years ago, that I discovered just how wise these little beings really are.

From the moment of my daughter’s birth (and even before that) fatherhood has been a truly transformative experience. It’s rare that a day goes by without learning something about life from my Ella. And in many ways I really do see her as one of my most effective teachers.

So I thought it would be fun to share some of the personal growth lessons I have learned from Ella over the past four years. If you have children you will most likely recognize many of these. If you do not have children, you may find some of these corny or silly. Trust me, they are not. Every one of these lessons has had a significant impact on my life.

So here, then, are the top 10 Life Lessons I’ve Learned From My Daughter… so far!

1. Tomorrow’s Gonna Be a New Day.
When Ella was younger she would ask me, “Is tomorrow gonna be a new day?” I assured her that, yes, indeed, tomorrow would be a new day. Now that she’s reached the ripe old age of four, she gets it. And now she reminds me: “Don’t worry Dadda. Tomorrow’s gonna be a new day!” It’s good to remember that!

I the only one hearing a refrain from Little Orphan Annie in the background? “The sun’ll come out tomorrow…” Sure it’s cheesy, but there is a lot of power in recognizing that, no matter how difficult today is, tommorrow’s gonna be a new day.

2. Sometimes it’s Better to Make Up Your Own Rules
I already wrote about this one in the post Life Lessons from Candyland. But it’s an important one so I included it in this list.

Bottom line: Sometimes it’s best to throw away the rule book and make up your own!




Read the rest here.

I Signed Up For These


Check them out:



(You're welcome.)

4000th Post - Anyone Care For Some Bubbly?


Random Blather:


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From Blogizdat LJ:



Fighting Kitty:


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It's a Saturday afternoon in late February here in Minnesocold, with the temps in the high twenties, but it's been sunny out, with little or no breeze, so I decided to go out for a long walk to clear my head.

It's been far too long since since we've had as nice a day as today, and as I've mentioned before, when I find myself being drawn inexorably into The Dark Place® - as I have been this past week or two - there's not much quite as effective as a brisk romp thru the neighborhood to restore me to my normal Dysthymic self. Okay, I'm being coy, because there are days when nothing can part the seas of melancholy, but at least while I'm walking my mind is occupied with such things as dodging cars and pedestrians, and avoiding patches of ice and remnants of road-kill.

Unfortunately, it's not always easy for me to maintain a regular outdoor walking regimen during these Northern Winters. The sunlit hours are few, the icy streets and the bitter cold can be downright dangerous, and what's more, my left foot has been hurting more and more recently, possibly due in part to some manifestation of the Peripheral Neuropathy that plagues many on my dad's side of the family. Additionally, my non-work time is all-too-often consumed with tending to the needs of my ever-lovely daughters, and their various therapy sessions, school functions, homework, church choirs, all punctuated by the day-to-day mundanity of life.



Read the rest here.

The Answer: Yes, It Could


From New York Times:



February 3, 2008

How Democracy Produced a Monster

By IAN KERSHAW

Sheffield, England

COULD something like it happen again? That is invariably the first question that comes to mind when recalling that Hitler was given power in Germany 75 years ago last week. With the world now facing such great tensions and instability, the question seems more obvious than ever.

Hitler came to power in a democracy with a highly liberal Constitution, and in part by using democratic freedoms to undermine and then destroy democracy itself. That democracy, established in 1919, was a product of defeat in world war and revolution and was never accepted by most of the German elites, notably the military, large landholders and big industry.

Troubled by irreconcilable political, social and cultural divisions from the beginning, the new democracy survived serious threats to its existence in the early postwar years and found a semblance of stability from 1924 to 1928, only to be submerged by the collapse of the economy after the Wall Street crash of 1929.

The Nazis’ spectacular surge in popular support (2.6 percent of the vote in the 1928 legislative elections, 18.3 percent in 1930, 37.4 percent in July 1932) reflected the anger, frustration and resentment — but also hope — that Hitler was able to tap among millions of Germans. Democracy had failed them, they felt. Their country was divided, impoverished and humiliated. Scapegoats were needed.



Read the rest here.

A Poem By Dorothy Parker


The Danger Of Writing Defiant Verse

And now I have another lad!
No longer need you tell
How all my nights are slow and sad
For loving you too well.

His ways are not your wicked ways,
He's not the like of you.
He treads his path of reckoned days,
A sober man, and true.

They'll never see him in the town,
Another on his knee.
He'd cut his laden orchards down,
If that would pleasure me.

He'd give his blood to paint my lips
If I should wish them red.
He prays to touch my finger-tips
Or stroke my prideful head.

He never weaves a glinting lie,
Or brags the hearts he'll keep.
I have forgotten how to sigh-
Remembered how to sleep.

He's none to kiss away my mind-
A slower way is his.
Oh, Lord! On reading this, I find
A silly lot he is.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Brings Back Memories




'Those Dancing Days Are Gone"
Carla Bruni

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Paging Andres Serrano


From First Things:



The Art of Transgression

by Matthew J. Milliner

Copyright (c) 2007 First Things (December 2007).

Contemporary art refuses any set form, content, or medium—but it does, nonetheless, insist on one sure commandment: Religion has to go. The Art Institute of Chicago’s James Elkins lays down this law in his book On the Strange Place of Religion in Contemporary Art. The art world, he says, “can accept a wide range of ‘religious’ art by people who hate religion, by people who are deeply uncertain about it, by the disgruntled and the disaffected and the skeptical, but there is no place for artists who express straightforward, ordinarily religious faith.”

Indeed, Elkins writes: “To fit in the art world, work with a religious theme has to fulfill several criteria. It has to demonstrate the artist has second thoughts about religion. . . . Ambiguity and self-critique have to be integral to the work. And it follows that irony must pervade the art, must be the air it breathes.” It is a given, of course, that such irony cannot extend to the rejection-of-religion rule: “Committed, engaged, ambitious, informed art does not mix with dedicated, serious, thoughtful, heartfelt religion.”

Along the way, Elkins tells a story about one of his students who had been privately creating artwork with sincere religious themes. When she dared show her teacher, Elkins insisted she keep this work to herself, referring her back to Roland Barthes, Clement Greenberg, and Michel Foucault, all of whom she had dutifully read. The message, unfortunately, didn’t get through. “Kim’s work might be considered perfectly good as printmaking, but it belongs to a moribund strain of visual art that is cut off from what is interesting about current practice. It is a simpler and less challenging activity than what is now called painting or printmaking.” He ends by invoking Hegel: “It is no help to adopt again . . . past world-views.”

But what one might call the art world’s last rule has a loophole. According to Elkins, the auspices under which religious content in contemporary art becomes permissible are “NRMs”—new religious movements. Attachment to an NRM can get even incorrigibly religious paintings past the faith detectors of Manhattan galleries, where Chelsea’s Chapel of Sacred Mirrors boasts moon ceremonies, a bookstore lined with psychedelic drug manuals, and a year-round display of the New Age icons of Alex Grey.



Read the rest here.

A Little Friday Night Mencken


From Bigeye:



Last Words

by: H. L. Mencken (1926)

I have alluded somewhat vaguely to the merits of democracy. One of them is quite obvious: it is, perhaps, the most charming form of government ever devised by man. The reason is not far to seek. It is based upon propositions that are palpably not true and what is not true, as everyone knows, is always immensely more fascinating and satisfying to the vast majority of men than what is true. Truth has a harshness that alarms them, and an air of finality that collides with their incurable romanticism. They turn, in all the great emergencies of life, to the ancient promises, transparently false but immensely comforting, and of all those ancient promises there is none more comforting than the one to the effect that the lowly shall inherit the earth. It is at the bottom of the dominant religious system of the modern world, and it is at the bottom of the dominant political system. The latter, which is democracy, gives it an even higher credit and authority than the former, which is Christianity. More, democracy gives it a certain appearance of objective and demonstrable truth. The mob man, functioning as citizen, gets a feeling that he is really important to the world - that he is genuinely running things. Out of his maudlin herding after rogues and mountebanks there comes to him a sense of vast and mysterious power—which is what makes archbishops, police sergeants, the grand goblins of the Ku Klux and other such magnificoes happy. And out of it there comes, too, a conviction that he is somehow wise, that his views are taken seriously by his betters - which is what makes United States Senators, fortune tellers and Young Intellectuals happy. Finally, there comes out of it a glowing consciousness of a high duty triumphantly done which is what makes hangmen and husbands happy.



Read the rest here.

NS, Sherlock!


News Flash: Kids Use Acronyms!

Cool List Of Free Mac Programs


From Open Source Mac.

Lotsa Free Mac Software


From MacLibre:



MacLibre, a rigorous selection of free, legal software for Mac OS X
MacLibre is an Open Source Software Distribution for Mac OS X developed during the Google Summer of Code program mentored by the WinLibre project.

This project is developed under the GPL public license.
Authors : Pawel Solyga, Pierre-Jean Coudert, François Perche.

Featured applications

Create

Internet

Multimedia

Office

Utilities





Love free stuff.

Oh Fiona




Delightful


I never watched 'The OC' so I only know her from photo mags, but right now, as I type this, Rachel Bilson is chatting with Craig Ferguson on his show, I have to say she's just utterly charming and delightful. Okay, she's gorgeous, too, but there's gorgeous women a'plenty in Hollyweird, and not all of them are charming and delightful. Oh, did I mention Rachel is charming and delightful? I'm just sayin'.

Fuel For Thought


From Time:



Crazy Love

Thursday, Jan. 17, 2008

By Steven Pinker

Why do fools fall in love? And when we do fall, why do our faculties of reason--and decency and self-respect and even right and wrong--sometimes not come along? For that matter, why would anyone reciprocate the love of a partner who has come so romantically unhinged?

The thought of a loved one can turn our wits upside down, ratchet up our heart rate, impel us to slay dragons and write corny songs. We may become morose, obsessive, even violent. Lovesickness has been blamed on the moon, on the devil, but whatever is behind it, it doesn't look like the behavior of a rational animal trying to survive and reproduce. But might there be a method to this amorous madness?

During the decades that the concept of human nature was taboo in academia, many scholars claimed that romantic love was a recent social construction. It was an invention of the Hallmark-card poets or Hollywood scriptwriters or, in one theory, medieval troubadours extolling the adulterous love of a knight for a lady.

For anyone who has been under love's spell, these theories seem preposterous, and so they are. Nothing so primal could have been created out of thin air as a mere custom or product. To the contrary, romantic love is a human universal. In 1896 a Kwakiutl Indian in southern Alaska wrote the lament "Fire runs through my body--the pain of loving you," which could be the title of a bad power ballad today. Similar outpourings of passion can be found all over the world from those with broken hearts.



Read the rest here.

From The WTH Files


From Yahoo News:



Australian penis artist bids for top art prize

Wed Feb 20, 1:13 AM ET

SYDNEY (Reuters) - A cheeky artist who uses his penis as a brush has entered a racy self-portrait for Australia's top art prize.

Australian Tim Patch, who calls himself Pricasso, usually exposes his talents at sex product fairs around the world, but has decided to go upmarket by entering a painting for Australia's Archibald Prize -- the nation's top award for portraiture.

In a unique painting style, Patch does not use paint brushes, but his penis to apply paint to the canvas.



Read the rest here.

(Photo here - painting and wanker, I mean, artist.)

Friday Night Videos




'Twilight'
Anna

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'Twilight'
Jeff

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'Twilight'
Hayley

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'Twilight'
Aubree

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I Dunno, Might Give It A Try


From Blogger Buzz:



GrandCentral: receive calls and post voicemail with your blog

February 22, 2008permalink
With GrandCentral, a free service from Google, you can receive phone calls and post voicemails right on your blog. Though GrandCentral is currently in a private beta test, bloggers can skip the wait and get a free account immediately. Sign up now

WebCall Button
When you add GrandCentral’s WebCall button to your blog, your readers can easily call your phone or leave voicemails without ever seeing your telephone number.

You can screen calls, either accepting them or sending them to voicemail, and you can even block unwanted callers altogether. Learn how to add a WebCall button to your blog, and try it out for yourself below:


Voicemail Inbox


Your voicemail is all kept in a visual online inbox that is easy to manage. Store as many as you like for as long as you like, or post them to your blog so anyone can hear them. Here’s what it looks like to put a voicemail on your blog:


Sign Up Now
Ready to get started? Follow these links:
  1. Sign up for GrandCentral for free
  2. Add a WebCall button to your sidebar
  3. Post your voicemails to your blog
— Siobhan




Thursday, February 21, 2008

Gone Too Long


Yeah, I know I've been AWOL here, but I've been kind of out-of-sorts the past couple of weeks and I've just not had it in me to raise the standard on this hallowed ground, but I'll try to pull myself together and get back to doing some some writing and posting in the next few days. It's funny, when I get to feeling particularly down I end up writing and writing and writing in my private journals, sometimes tens of thousands of words, but at those times the very notion idea of posting in a public forum just leaves me feeling mute. I don't quite know why that is. Well, I kind of do, cause there are times when I need to write as a form of therapy, to unload what Mark Heard called the 'kaleidescope of brain freight' which at times conspires to take me under, and that's the kind of thing that's best done in private. Anyway, I'll try to write more in the coming days. Cheers.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Weekend Roundup


I am lying on the futon tapping away on my laptop, watching the end of the Grammy Awards show, coming off yet another weekend of Daddy Duty. Once again, I ended up not getting out as much as I'd intended: the weather started out mild but ended up today being just cold-as-a-bee-with-an-itch, never breaking zero Fahrenheit. It's this kind of cold that really deals me a whammy when I'm already feeling stressed and/or down, with its slap-to-the-face-with-an-iron-glove effect when heading out into it. Add to that the fact that I've been in alot of pain (gut, and hip, and foot) and haven't been able to get out walking much this past week, and I feel a bit of a wreck. At least we are getting more daylight, as the days are getting longer.


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Anyway, I missed most of the Big Show, didn't see any of 'The Time's' reunion gig, but did catch a bit of Tina Turner doing 'What's Love Got To Do With It?' and got to see Amy Winehouse perform 'I'm No Good' and 'Rehab,' shortly before she acknowledged winning the Record of the Year award in her nearly-incomprehensible snarl. Right now I'm watching a rather well-preserved John Fogerty - can that really be his hair? - kicking off a joint set with a rather portly Jerry Lee Lewis, who does not seem at all like The Killer he once was, and a scary-looking Little Richard. It's hard to remember just how revolutionary Lewis and Richard were in their day. Yeah, Fogerty was part of the warp and woof of the late 60's, but the guys from Creedence weren't ever really trail-blazers, just really great little band. But Jerry Lee? I mean, come on! The first time I saw him him kick the piano bench out from under him, and then pound the keys with his feet, I was stunned. And Little Richard, gawd, Marilyn Manson could learn a makeup tip or two from the Reverend.

But WTH? Now Will I.am is rapping some kind of weird-*ss intro to the Album of the Year award, with Usher and Quincy Jones about to hand out the final statue, which goes to...drumroll, please...Herbie Hancock, for his album of Joni Mitchell songs, 'River: The Joni Letters.' Unexpected, and very cool. Good for him. And I guess the show is done, finis, kaput. (Deep thougt: I wonder how many members of the Academy downloaded music off Limewire this past week? Just wondering.)

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So, what did I do this weekend?

Well, on Friday AM I got the girls onto their respective school buses, and then high-tailed it across town for an irregularly-scheduled visit with JH, the therapist I've been working with on and off for the last couple of years. I'm still very much a swamp of obsessions, neuroses, anxieties and depressions, but I'd like to think that I've gotten some measure of benefit for seeing him.

I made it back home just in time to get 5 year-old LK off her bus at noon, although my FIL had graciously agreed to be there in case I didn't get back. In the afternoon I took LK to the doctor to have her checked out for a bladder infection, but she was unable to pee in the cup while we were there, so I was sent home with a couple of receptacles to try again later.

After 8 year-old AE got off the us, we headed back to her school for a carnival, where we spent the evening with her best friend and family from next-door. We played games, ate hot dogs, and entered - but didn't win - a raffle, and did not get home until well after 9 pm.

It was only after we got back that I realized the girls were due at a birthday party for a 5 year-old chum in the AM, and no presents had been purchased. So after Mrs. Muzzy got home from work, I headed out at around 10 pm to hunt down some presents for the Birthday Boy. I tried to watch a movie when I got back, but was so sleepy I simply couldn't do it, fell asleep on the futon, and finally staggered off to bedforsure.

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On Saturday AM I went to wrap the presents I'd bought - activity books, crayons, stickers, drawing pad and tin with playing cards - and noticed the playing cards were missing: they were strewn all over AE's bedroom floor. Apparently LK had taken them and told her sister she'd won them at the carnival, so they opened the pack and had some fun.

Gaahh! I was annoyed, as I didn't have anything else to throw in for the gift pack, so I ended up grabbing $5 from the Cash Stash. Hopefully the 5 year-old will know what to do with the money.

While the girls were at the party I went down the street to the library and picked up some CD's and DVD's. (Note to self, return them before they are due, mister.)

We went did a drive-thru to pick up lunch on the way home from the party, then I started a fire in the livingroom fireplace, and we just hung out for the afternoon until I remembered that I needed to get LK's UA in to the lab. I'd been told the north suburban Health Partner's Urgent Care would be open until 9 pm, but when I got to that location the sign clearly stated that they closed at 5, so I had to drive across town to another clinic, and finally delivered the goods an hour after we'd left home. Sigh.

The temp had been falling throughout the day, and by the time we got home, it was hovering around zero. We had pizza and grapes for supper, and afterwards the girls got bathed and off to bed. Once again, I wanted to stay up to watch a movie, but just couldn't, and ended up going to bed.

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This AM, Sunday, got up a bit later than yesterday, but was still up and around by a bit after 8, and headed out into the minus 15 degree sunshine to church for my niece's baptism.

There was no education hour today, so I spent some time talking tunes with the lovely JN and her hubby for a bit, and gave her a CD I'd burned of some of the stuff I've been into lately. She and He are into the same kind of music as I am, and even though I am pretty well-versed in the latest up-and-coming bands, I always learn something new from JN.

This past week she emailed me with a list of some bands/artists I should look out for. I promptly tracked down the first name on her list, Kate Havnevik, and I don't regret it. I'm always keen to discover an artist or album I've not heard before - it's one of life's most delicious treasures - and I am feeling that way about Kate right now. Crikey, she's good! (Also, I have re-discovered the joys of a couple of bands I've not listened to alot: 'The Beautiful Girls' and 'Aqualung.' Migawd, they are amazing!)

Speaking of which, I decided to put together a compilation CD each month this year, and I'm late in getting this month's collection done, so I might just have to use some of the couple dozen versions I have of 'Besame Mucho,' with Valentine's Day coming up, and all.

After church we headed over to my SIL's house for a combo baptism party/birthday party, as it was my SIL's 42nd birthday, and after visiting a while before and after the meal, I brought the girls home for LK to get some time in Webkins World, and for AE to do her homework. We had our usual Sunday night supper of popcorn and ice cream, and after what seemed an eternity, finally got the girls to sleep.

Oh, yeah, after telling AE her story tonight, I had a chat with her about differing views of Christian Baptism, how Lutherans and Catholics share the practice of infant baptism with Presbyterians, for example, but how there is a very real difference in the meaning for the Calvinists. And I explained further how the Eastern Orthodox have yet another slightly different slant, and how the Baptists reject the whole notion that babies should be baptized altogether (my view). I didn't try to sway her one way other, but encouraged her to consider that reasonable and intelligent people have differed on this issue for centuries, and that it's important know that reasons why other's hold the views they do, as well as understanding those views.

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I had a strange week past, for a number of reasons, but one of the more odd things I did was to salvage some 35 gigs of digital photos from an external hard drive that had been attached to Mrs. Muzzy's iMac. It had taken to making strange noises, and refused to spin up, therefore rendering it useless as a storage unit, but I'd read somewhere that an errant drive can often be salvaged long enough to extract data by first placing it in a freezer, so I did some research and found it seemed true. I placed the drive in the deep freeze overnight, and lo and behold, with repeated freezes, I was able to extract all of her pictures onto another drive. I must say, I didn't expect it to work, but it did.

(I also spent a good deal of time trying to revive a dead partition on an internal drive for the girls' computer, and after offering prayers to Saint Jude, patron saint of Lost Causes, I was able to bring the computer to life again. Yay for me.)

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Anyway, I have lots more I could write, but it's time for sleep.



Saturday, February 09, 2008

Demoblicans And Republicrats Buying Votes


From Yahoo News:



Rebates could stave off long recession

By MARTIN CRUTSINGER

AP Economics Writer
February 9, 2008

Despite remarkably quick passage, the economic aid plan and its cash rebates may come too late to prevent a recession this year. For many experts, however, the $168 billion boost to the lagging economy may mean the difference between a short downturn and something much more serious.

The measure that President Bush plans to sign this coming week will send government payments to more than 130 million people. Checks that will start showing up in mailboxes in May range from $300 to $1,200; households with children get an additional $300 per child. Businesses benefit, too, through tax breaks to increase investment spending on plants and equipment.

The tax relief is intended to jump-start the economy. Politicians, worried about a recession in an election year, put aside their normal bickering to speed the proposal through Congress.

Nonetheless, there is debate over how effective it will be. Critics say debt-burdened consumers will use the money to pay bills rather than spending the checks and spurring growth.

An Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that only 19 percent of those surveyed said they planned to spend their rebate checks. Forty-five percent said they would pay off bills, while 32 percent said they planned to invest the money.

Supporters of the proposal said they have faith that people will spend the money when they get it.

"When you ask people what they will do with the money, they often say they will pay off their credit card bills," said David Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poor's in New York. "People may mean it when they say it, but when you look at what they actually do, most of the money gets spent."



Read the rest here.

Bishop Believes Bible


From Time



Christians Wrong About Heaven, Says Bishop

Thursday, Feb. 07, 2008
By David Van Biema

N.T. "Tom" Wright is one of the most formidable figures in the world of Christian thought. As Bishop of Durham, he is the fourth most senior cleric in the Church of England and a major player in the strife-riven global Anglican Communion; as a much-read theologian and Biblical scholar he has taught at Cambridge and is a hero to conservative Christians worldwide for his 2003 book The Resurrection of the Son of God, which argued forcefully for a literal interpretation of that event.

It therefore comes as a something of a shock that Wright doesn't believe in heaven — at least, not in the way that millions of Christians understand the term. In his new book, Surprised by Hope (HarperOne), Wright quotes a children's book by California first lady Maria Shriver called What's Heaven, which describes it as "a beautiful place where you can sit on soft clouds and talk... If you're good throughout your life, then you get to go [there]... When your life is finished here on earth, God sends angels down to take you heaven to be with him." That, says Wright is a good example of "what not to say." The Biblical truth, he continues, "is very, very different."

Wright, 58, talked by phone with TIME's David Van Biema.

TIME: At one point you call the common view of heaven a "distortion and serious diminution of Christian hope."

Wright: It really is. I've often heard people say, "I'm going to heaven soon, and I won't need this stupid body there, thank goodness.' That's a very damaging distortion, all the more so for being unintentional.

TIME: How so? It seems like a typical sentiment.

Wright: There are several important respects in which it's unsupported by the New Testament. First, the timing. In the Bible we are told that you die, and enter an intermediate state. St. Paul is very clear that Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead already, but that nobody else has yet. Secondly, our physical state. The New Testament says that when Christ does return, the dead will experience a whole new life: not just our soul, but our bodies. And finally, the location. At no point do the resurrection narratives in the four Gospels say, "Jesus has been raised, therefore we are all going to heaven." It says that Christ is coming here, to join together the heavens and the Earth in an act of new creation.

TIME: Is there anything more in the Bible about the period between death and the resurrection of the dead?

Wright: We know that we will be with God and with Christ, resting and being refreshed. Paul writes that it will be conscious, but compared with being bodily alive, it will be like being asleep. The Wisdom of Solomon, a Jewish text from about the same time as Jesus, says "the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God," and that seems like a poetic way to put the Christian understanding, as well.



Read the rest here.

Food For Thought, Ladies And Gents


From The Atlantic:



The case for settling for Mr. Good Enough

by Lori Gottlieb
Marry Him!

About six months after my son was born, he and I were sitting on a blanket at the park with a close friend and her daughter. It was a sunny summer weekend, and other parents and their kids picnicked nearby—mothers munching berries and lounging on the grass, fathers tossing balls with their giddy toddlers. My friend and I, who, in fits of self-empowerment, had conceived our babies with donor sperm because we hadn’t met Mr. Right yet, surveyed the idyllic scene.

“Ah, this is the dream,” I said, and we nodded in silence for a minute, then burst out laughing. In some ways, I meant it: we’d both dreamed of motherhood, and here we were, picnicking in the park with our children. But it was also decidedly not the dream. The dream, like that of our mothers and their mothers from time immemorial, was to fall in love, get married, and live happily ever after. Of course, we’d be loath to admit it in this day and age, but ask any soul-baring 40-year-old single heterosexual woman what she most longs for in life, and she probably won’t tell you it’s a better career or a smaller waistline or a bigger apartment. Most likely, she’ll say that what she really wants is a husband (and, by extension, a child).

To the outside world, of course, we still call ourselves feminists and insist—vehemently, even—that we’re independent and self-sufficient and don’t believe in any of that damsel-in-distress stuff, but in reality, we aren’t fish who can do without a bicycle, we’re women who want a traditional family. And despite growing up in an era when the centuries-old mantra to get married young was finally (and, it seemed, refreshingly) replaced by encouragement to postpone that milestone in pursuit of high ideals (education! career! but also true love!), every woman I know—no matter how successful and ambitious, how financially and emotionally secure—feels panic, occasionally coupled with desperation, if she hits 30 and finds herself unmarried.

Oh, I know—I’m guessing there are single 30-year-old women reading this right now who will be writing letters to the editor to say that the women I know aren’t widely representative, that I’ve been co-opted by the cult of the feminist backlash, and basically, that I have no idea what I’m talking about. And all I can say is, if you say you’re not worried, either you’re in denial or you’re lying. In fact, take a good look in the mirror and try to convince yourself that you’re not worried, because you’ll see how silly your face looks when you’re being disingenuous.

Whether you acknowledge it or not, there’s good reason to worry. By the time 35th-birthday-brunch celebrations roll around for still-single women, serious, irreversible life issues masquerading as “jokes” creep into public conversation: Well, I don’t feel old, but my eggs sure do! or Maybe this year I’ll marry Todd. I’m not getting any younger! The birthday girl smiles a bit too widely as she delivers these lines, and everyone laughs a little too hard for a little too long, not because we find these sentiments funny, but because we’re awkwardly acknowledging how unfunny they are. At their core, they pose one of the most complicated, painful, and pervasive dilemmas many single women are forced to grapple with nowadays: Is it better to be alone, or to settle?

My advice is this: Settle! That’s right. Don’t worry about passion or intense connection. Don’t nix a guy based on his annoying habit of yelling “Bravo!” in movie theaters. Overlook his halitosis or abysmal sense of aesthetics. Because if you want to have the infrastructure in place to have a family, settling is the way to go. Based on my observations, in fact, settling will probably make you happier in the long run, since many of those who marry with great expectations become more disillusioned with each passing year. (It’s hard to maintain that level of zing when the conversation morphs into discussions about who’s changing the diapers or balancing the checkbook.)



Read the rest here.

Friday, February 08, 2008

From The 'Get A Mac' Files


From The BBC



Malicious programs hit new high

The number of malicious programs found online has reached an unprecedented high, say security firms.

Reports vary but some estimates suggest there were five times as many variants of malicious programs in circulation in 2007 compared to 2006.

Security company Panda Software said it was getting more than 3,000 novel samples of so called malware every day.

Criminals pump out variants to fool anti-virus programs that work, in part, by spotting common characteristics.

Threat landscape

Security software testing organisation AV Test reported that it saw 5.49 million unique samples of malicious software in 2007 - five times more than the 972,606 it saw in 2006.

AV Test reached its total by analysing malicious programs and generating a digital fingerprint for each unique sample.

The organisation said the different ways malware can be packaged will mean some duplication in its figures, but the broad trend showed a steep rise.

The organisation uses the samples to test security programs to see how many they can spot and stop.

Panda Software said the number of malicious samples it received in 2007 was up ten fold on 2006. In a statement it said the rise represented a "malware epidemic".

Finnish security firm F-Secure said it had seen a doubling in the number of pieces of malware it detected in 2007 compared to 2006.

Most of the malicious programs detected by these security organisations are aimed at the various versions of Microsoft's Windows operating system.



Read the rest here.

Friday Night Video - Cherry Chocolate Rain





How To Use Facebook Without Losing Your Job Over It


From InternetDuctTape:

I’ve followed my friends as they jump around from social network to social network, creating profiles on Friendster, Hi-5, Orkut, MySpace and now Facebook, even though I never use the sites.

Facebook is great networking tool that lets you keep in contact with former friends from high school, university and various jobs. It easily connects people together with tools like registering that you are the owner of a specific cell phone number, keeping track of every email address you’ve ever had, and logging into your email account to find out who you know.

As you can guess from my previous series on online pseudo-anonymity, something that collects as much personal information as Facebook scares the bejebus out of me. From the address book import I can clearly see that everyone I’ve ever even remotely known is already on Facebook, and the default settings mean they’re all sharing all kinds of personal information they may not be aware of.

The potential downside a lot of my friends and acquaintances don’t realize is that Facebook is more like LinkedIn than MySpace and it is “on the radar” of your employers. People have already lost their jobs because of their Facebook activity. Most people don’t think about online privacy concerns like these unless they’ve had a bad experience because of being too free with information.

But Facebook can be used safely and with little impact on the rest of your life by following these tips.





Read the rest here.

The Beta Male


From NY Times:



The Beta Male’s Charms

By STEPHANIE ROSENBLOOM
February 7, 2008

“EVERYWHERE there’s someone better than you,” said Steven Tsapelas, 26, over a cheeseburger deluxe at Mike’s Diner in Astoria. “Everywhere you go, if you’re talking to a girl there’s five other guys right in their immediate vicinity blowing you away.”

So goes the refrain of the New York City beta male — that gentle, endearingly awkward, self-conscious soul for whom love is a battlefield. For the last year or so the bungled seductions and everyday fears of such men have been laid bare in “We Need Girlfriends,” a no-budget Web series based on the ups and downs of Mr. Tsapelas and his former college roommates, Brian Amyot, 26, and Angel Acevedo, 25.

A cult hit among the under-30 set, the series chronicles the lives of three postcollegiate guys (Henry, Tom and Rod) who live on the cheap in Queens and routinely demonstrate that while they are suitors with hearts of gold, the only game they have is Taboo.

In one episode Tom is crushed to learn that his former college girlfriend has created a blog called “I Probably Never Loved Tom” and changed her MySpace status to “in a relationship” (her new beau’s MySpace moniker is Looze It 2 Me). In another episode, Henry receives a letter in the mail from his eighth-grade self and realizes that though he has lost his virginity and no longer wears sweat pants in public, he is still a Mr. T fan likely to die alone, like his former classmate, Morbidly Obese Carl.



Read the rest here.

Anatomy Of A Phishing Attack



From InformIT:



Inside a PayPal Phishing Site

Last updated Feb 1, 2008.

The phishing attack came in the form of an email that appeared to be from PayPal. Since the title of the email stated “Please update your billing records or your account will be suspended. Thanks!", it was clearly designed to alert the victim in a way that is bound to get their attention. Contained in the body of the email was a warning that my account would expire in 12 hours unless I updated my records. Included with the message was a helpful link to http://www.paypal.com. Unfortunately, for those not paying attention, this link actually went to http://xxxxxxxxxxx.com/awstats/cgi-bin/.

We decided to follow the link because we like to keep in the loop of what the phishers are up to incase we are called by a client who is curious as to how their identity was stolen. In addition, as we tend to discover, people who use these phishing scams sometimes make mistakes and leave a trail of information that can be helpful in stopping them.

When we clicked on the link, we were taken to a page that looked very much like the valid PayPal site. The only thing that makes this spoof site seem invalid is the URL that contains the hijacked website.



Read the rest here.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

News Flash - Just In Time For Valentine's Day


From Yahoo News:



Marriage: It's Only Going to Get Worse

Jeanna Bryner
Tue Feb 5, 3:11 PM ET

If your spouse already bugs you now, the future is bleak. New research suggests couples view one another as even more irritating and demanding the longer they are together.

The same trend was not found for relationships with children or friends.

The study results could be a consequence of accumulated contact with a spouse, such that the nitpicking or frequent demands that once triggered just a mild chafe develops into a major pain. But accumulated irritation has its silver lining.

"As we age and become closer and more comfortable with one another, it could be that we're more able to express ourselves to each other," said lead study author Kira Birditt, a research fellow at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research. "In other words, it's possible that negativity is a normal aspect of close relationships that include a great deal of daily contact."

Rather than breeding unhappy couples and ill health, the increase in negativity could be a normal part of relationships.

"Because we found that pattern was overall among the participants, it appears to be normative. It's not something unusual that happens," Birditt said.



Read the rest here.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Music Monday - Fiona Apple




'O Sailor'
Fiona Apple

+++++




'Never Is A Promise'
Fiona Apple

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'Across The Universe'
Fiona Apple

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'Sleep To Dream'
Fiona Apple

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Saturday, February 02, 2008

They Don't Like Kitty


Goodbye Kitty.

And Where's The Fun In That?


From The Daily Mail:



Death of the father: British scientists discover how to turn women's bone marrow into sperm

By FIONA MACRAE

Last updated at 09:28am on 31st January 2008

Bye bye baby: The new science means the biological role of the father is under threat

British scientists are ready to turn female bone marrow into sperm, cutting men out of the process of creating life.

The breakthrough paves the way for lesbian couples to have children that are biologically their own.

Gay men could follow suit by using the technique to make eggs from male bone marrow.

Researchers at Newcastle upon Tyne University say their technique will help lead to new treatments for infertility.

But critics warn that it sidelines men and raises the prospect of babies being born through entirely artificial means.

The research centres around stem cells - the body's 'mother' cells which can turn into any other type of cell.

According to New Scientist magazine, the scientists want to take stem cells from a woman donor's bone marrow and transform them into sperm through the use of special chemicals and vitamins.

Newcastle professor Karim Nayernia has applied for permission to carry out the work and is ready to start the experiments within two months.



Read the rest here.

Saturday Night Mencken


Quote on BizBag:



TYPES OF MEN

From PREJUDICES: THIRD SERIES, 1922, P. 266.
First printed in the New York Evening Mail, March 25, 1918

The Romantic

THERE is a variety of man whose eye inevitably exaggerates, whose ear inevitably hears more than the band plays, whose imagination inevitably doubles and triples the news brought in by his five senses. He is the enthusiast, the believer, the romantic. He is the sort of fellow who, if he were a bacteriologist, would report the streptococcus pyogenes to be as large as a St. Bernard dog, as intelligent as Socrates, as beautiful as Beauvais Cathedral and as respectable as a Yale professor.

The Believer

FAITH may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable. There is thus a flavor of the pathological in it; it goes beyond the normal intellectual process and passes into the murky domain of transcendental metaphysics. A man full of faith is simply one who has lost (or never had) the capacity for clear and realistic thought. He is not a mere ass: be is actually ill. Worse, he is incurable, for disappointment, being essentially an objective phenomenon, cannot permanent affect his subjective infirmity. His faith takes on the virulence of a chronic infection. What he says, in substance, is this: "Let us trust in God, Who has always fooled us in the past."

The Toiler

ALL democratic theories, whether Socialistic or bourgeois, necessarily take in some concept of the dignity of labor. If the have-not were deprived of this delusion that his sufferings on the assembly-line are somehow laudable and agreeable to God, there would be little left in his ego save a belly-ache. Nevertheless, a delusion is a delusion, and this is one of the worst. It arises out of confusing the pride of workmanship of the artist with the dogged, painful docility of the machine. The difference is important and enormous. If he got no reward whatever, the artist would go on working just the same; his actual reward, in fact, is often so little that he almost starves. But suppose a garment worker got nothing for his labor: would he go on working just the same? Can one imagine his submitting voluntarily to hardship and sore want that he might express his soul in 200 more pairs of ladies' pants?

The Scientist

THE VALUE the world sets upon motives is often grossly unjust and inaccurate. Consider, for example, two of them: mere insatiable curiosity and the desire to do good. The latter is put high above the former, and yet it is the former that moves one of the most useful men the human race has yet produced: the scientific investigator. What actually urges him on is not some brummagem idea of Service, but a boundless, almost pathological thirst to penetrate the unknown, to uncover the secret, to find out what has not been found out before. His prototype is not the liberator releasing slaves, the good Samaritan lifting up the fallen, but a dog sniffing tremendously at an infinite series of rat-holes.

The Business Man

IT is, after all, a sound instinct which puts business below the professions, and burdens the business man with a social inferiority that he can never quite shake off, even in America. The business man, in fact, acquiesces in this assumption of his inferiority, even when he protests against it. He is the only man above the hangman and the scavenger who is forever apologizing for his occupation. He is the only one who always seeks to make it appear, when he attains the object of his labors, i.e., the making of a great deal of money, that it was not the object of his labors.

The King

PERHAPS the most valuable asset that any man can have in this world is a naturally superior air, a talent for sniffishness and reserve. The generality of men are always greatly impressed by it, and accept it freely as a proof of genuine merit. One need but disdain them to gain their respect. Their congenital stupidity and timorousness make them turn to any leader who offers, and the sign of leadership that they recognize most readily is that which shows itself in external manner. This is the true explanation of the survival of monarchism, which always lives through its perennial deaths.

The Metaphysician

A METAPHYSICIAN is one who, when you remark that twice two makes four, demands to know what you mean by twice, what by two, what by makes, and what by four. For asking such questions metaphysicians are supported in oriental luxury in the universities, and respected as educated and intelligent men.

The Altruist

A LARGE part of altruism, even when it is perfectly honest, is grounded upon the fact that it is uncomfortable to have unhappy people about one. This is especially true in family life. A man makes sacrifices to his wife's desires, not because be greatly enjoys giving up what he wants himself, but because he would enjoy it even less to see her cutting a sour face across the dinner table.

The Family Man

AGAIN, there is the bad author who defends his manufacture of magazine serials and movie scenarios on the ground that be has a wife, and is in honor bound to support her. I have seen a few such wives. I dispute the obligation. . . . As for the biological by-products of this fidelity, I rate them even lower. Show me 100 head of ordinary children who are worth one "Heart of Darkness"' and I'll subside. As for "Lord Jim," I would not swap it for all the brats born in Trenton, N. J., since the Spanish War.



Lots more here.

This Is Cool


From The Atlantic:



January 22, 2008

Editors' Note

Beginning today, TheAtlantic.com is dropping its subscriber registration requirement and making the site free to all visitors.

Now, in addition to such offerings as blogs, author dispatches, slideshows, interviews, and videos, readers can also browse issues going back to 1995, along with hundreds of articles dating as far back as 1857, the year The Atlantic was founded.

We're pleased to bring The Atlantic before a broader online audience. We hope that the quality of its writing, the trenchancy of its insights, and the depth and thoughtfulness of its reporting will inspire many of our online readers to join the Atlantic family by becoming print subscribers.





Good for them. And good for the rest of us.

Super Obama Girl




Anti-Valentines


From MSNBC:



This Valentine’s Day, say it with bitterness
Sales of cards and parties not celebrating the holiday are on the rise


By Allison Linn
Senior writer MSNBC
updated 2:19 p.m. CT, Sun., Feb. 18, 2007

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching — not sure what to get that ex-special someone?

CafePress.com might have some options for you.

“Valentine,” one card for sale on the Web site reads, “we’re both looking for the same thing.”

Open the card up, and it continues: “Someone else.”

Another card from the site starts out cheerily: “Happy Valentine's Day!”

Inside, it adds, “Even though we both know it’s over.”

For most people, Valentine’s Day is still about chocolates, hearts, teddy bears and romantic sentiments. But a growing number of the recently or steadfastly single are getting in on the holiday as well, spawning anti-Valentine’s Day cards, T-shirts and parties.

Anti-Valentine’s Day cards have been popular among smaller distributors and Web-based e-card producers for several years. Now the trend is starting to attract more mainstream attention.

Industry powerhouse American Greetings Corp. this year added 10 anti-Valentine’s Day cards to the roster of 2,500 cards it produces for the holiday. While it may be just a tiny portion of the company’s holiday effort, “that’s huge for a new product in our industry,” said American Greetings spokeswoman Megan Ferington.



Read the rest here.

Challenges




What, Me Worry?


From Science Daily:



Here's Something New To Worry About: Anxiety Hikes Heart Attack Risk

ScienceDaily (Jan. 11, 2008) — We all know that people with a Type A personality and an off-the-charts hostility level may be courting a heart attack. But this might come as a surprise: New research shows that their nervous, socially withdrawn neighbors also have reason to worry.

The research shows that longstanding anxiety markedly increases the risk of heart attack, even when other common risk factors are taken into account.

"What we're seeing is over and beyond what can be explained by blood pressure, obesity, cholesterol, age, cigarette smoking, blood sugar levels and other cardiovascular risk factors," said Biing-Jiun Shen, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

The role of anxiety in hiking heart attack risk also goes beyond the effects of depression, anger, hostility, Type A behavior and other negative emotions. "These psychological factors are important in predicting the risk of heart disease, but anxiety is unique," Dr. Shen said. "Older men with sustained and pervasive anxiety appear to be at increased risk for a heart attack even after their levels of depression, anger, hostility and Type A behavior are considered."



Read rest here.

Exercise Your Rights


From Science Daily:



Moderate Exercise Yields Big Benefits

ScienceDaily (Jan. 4, 2008) — What’s the key to looking and feeling better and enhancing your health? Exercise.

Moderately strenuous exercise, about 30 minutes a day, can lead to enormous benefits in terms of your mood, health, weight and the ability to live an independent and fulfilling life. The exercise doesn’t need to be athletic or difficult. Studies have shown that simply walking at a brisk pace for 30 minutes or more on most days can lead to significant health improvements. Add simple strengthening exercises two or three times a week and the benefits are even greater.

The January issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter lists some of the benefits of 30 minutes of exercise a day:

* Lower blood pressure: A reduction of 5 to 10 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) is possible. In some cases, that’s enough to prevent or reduce the need for blood pressure medications.

* Improve cholesterol: Exercise often increases the concentration of high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good” cholesterol in the blood), especially when accompanied by weight loss. Exercise also helps reduce triglyceride levels.



Read the rest here.

From The WTH? Files


From Yahoo News:



For the mature woman who has everything: a boy toy

By Robert Campbell
Wed Jan 30,
10:49 AM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wanted: rich older women interested in hot younger guys. Applicants must be over 35, earn at least $500,000 a year or have a minimum of $4 million in liquid assets, entrusted assets or divorce settlement.

That's the basis of a speed-dating event organized by a New York entrepreneur bringing together 20 "sugar mamas" and 20 "boy toys" vetted by an elite New York matchmaker.

"Symbiosis has allowed ugly rich men to attract young, gorgeous, money-hungry women for centuries; it's now the women's turn," proclaims pocketchangenyc.com, the Web site that Jeremy Abelson is using to promote the event.



Read the rest here.

Effing Matt Damon


From People:



Behind Matt Damon's Raunchy Payback to Jimmy Kimmel

By Julie Jordan

Originally posted
Saturday February 02, 2008
10:45 AM EST

Just call it payback time for Matt Damon.

PEOPLE's Sexiest Man Alive became an instant YouTube sensation on Friday following his duet with comedian Sarah Silverman, as she revealed to her boyfriend, late-night host Jimmy Kimmel: "I'm f---ing Matt Damon."

The line was an instant classic. But for many Kimmel fans, the video was just the latest salvo in the long-running "feud" between Damon and Kimmel.It all started during the third season of ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live, when the host made a tradition of closing out episodes with, "Apologies to Matt Damon, but we ran out of time," even though the actor was never scheduled to come on the show.



Read the rest here.

+++++


And watch the video clip here:


+++++


This One's For You


From Lahontan Valley News:


A real ‘sweet’ room — made of chocolate — is unveiled for Valentine’s Day stunt

By VERENA DOBNIK
Associated Press Writer
January 29, 2008, 3:01 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — Don’t lick the walls.

An all-chocolate room was unveiled in Manhattan on Tuesday — a pre-Valentine’s Day creation complete with furniture and artwork made of the sweet stuff.

“It’s the perfect bit of sin,” said Ali Larter, star of TV’s “Heroes,” of the Godiva chocolate “pearls” that are her private daily indulgence.

Here, they were dripping off the chandeliers above the dining table, which was a sea of stars, truffles and crescents — all chocolate, of course, under glass.

Larter is the celebrity face hired by the Belgian chocolatier for its annual Valentine’s Day promotion contest. This year, anyone who buys the winning box of chocolates — for $23 and up — may win the chocolate room. It is to be re-created in a suite of Manhattan’s Bryant Park Hotel for a pampered getaway weekend for two in May.

The winning box — sold only in North America — will contain a note informing the buyer of his or her good luck.



Read the rest here.

+++++


And from Godiva.com:



(1) Grand Prize: Trip to New York City consists of round-trip coach air transportation for winner and (1) guest from major airport nearest to winner’s primary residence in the U.S. or Canada, 2-nights accommodations in a Godiva chocolate themed suite (one (1) standard room, double occupancy) at a high-end luxury property in New York City (to be selected by Sponsor) on dates designated by Sponsor, ground transfers to/from the airport while in New York, a private chocolate tasting with a Godiva chef, a total of (4) spa services (2 for winner and 2 for guest), a check in the amount of $750 (for winner only) and a private dinner for two (2) prepared by a chef of Sponsor’s choice. (Approximate Retail Value "ARV" of total Grand Prize package: $6,600 US/Odds: 1:600,000).



More here.

Your Moment Of Zen




2007 Darwin Award Winners


From DarwinAwards:



Announcing the enterprising demises of the 2007 Darwin Award Winners

"Named in honor of Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, the Darwin Awards commemorate those who improve our gene pool by accidentally removing themselves from it."

+++++


RUNNER UP # TWO:
MOLE HUNT (Confirmed True by Darwin)


January 2007, East Germany | One man's extraordinary effort to eradicate a mole from his property resulted in a victory for the mole. The metal rods he pounded into the ground and connected to a high-voltage power line, electrified the very ground the man stood upon. He was found dead at his holiday property on the Baltic Sea. Police had to trip the main circuit breaker before venturing onto the property.

+++++


RUNNER UP # ONE:
WHAT GOES UP MUST COME DOWN (Confirmed Double Darwin Award)


June 2007, South Carolina | A passing cabbie found a 21 year-old deceased couple laying naked in the road an hour before sunrise. Authorities were baffled. There were no witnesses, no trace of clothing, and no wrecked vehicles present. But investigators eventually found a clue high on the roof of a nearby building: two sets of neatly folded clothes. Safe sex takes on a whole new meaning when you are perched on the edge of a pyramid-shaped metal roof. "It appears as if [they] accidentally fell off the roof," Sgt. McCants said.

+++++


AND THE 2007 DARWIN AWARD WINNER IS...
THE ENEMA WITHIN (Confirmed True by Darwin)


May 2004, Texas | Michael was an alcoholic. And not an ordinary alcoholic, but an alcoholic who liked to take his liquor... well, rectally. His wife said he was "addicted to enemas" and often used alcohol in this manner. The result was the same: inebriation. And tonight, Michael was in for one hell of a party.

Two 1.5 litre bottles of sherry, more than 100 fluid ounces, right up the old address!

When the rest of us have had enough, we either stop drinking or pass out. When Michael had had enough (and subsequently passed out) the alcohol remaining in his rectal cavity continued to be absorbed. The next morning, Michael was dead.

The 58-year-old did a pretty good job of embalming himself. Toxicology reports measured his blood alcohol level as 0.47%.

In order to qualify for a Darwin Award, a person must remove himself from the gene pool via an "astounding misapplication of judgment." Three litres of sherry up the butt can only be described as astounding. Unsurprisingly, his neighbors said they were surprised to learn of the incident.

+++++


Read the rest here.

ADHD News


From Livenews:



Role of stimulants in ADHD 'limited'

February 3, 2008

Stimulant drugs can no longer be considered the mainstay of treatment for hyperactivity disorders, warns an Australian psychiatrist who is urging doctors to review their patients' need for the controversial medications.

Sydney University professor Joseph Rey, a specialist in child and adolescent psychiatry, said the Australian medical community should take notice of new findings from a major US study which suggest Ritalin and dexamphetamine, the drugs most commonly used to treat ADHD, are of limited use.

The study of almost 600 children revealed that while those on stimulants did better than kids on behavioural therapy or no treatment at 14 months, there was no difference between the groups after three years. It also confirmed the drugs could stunt growth.

Prof Rey said the results of the US National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) study should change attitudes to ADHD treatment.

"While results of one study rarely justify drastic changes of practice, the findings underscore the complexity of ADHD, show that stimulant drugs are far from being a silver bullet and that there is much we do not yet know," Prof Rey wrote in the latest Medical Journal of Australia.



Read the rest here.

Close But No Cigar




Just Super


From The Onion:



Giants: 'We Almost Beat The Patriots Once, We Can Almost Beat Them Again'

January 24, 2008

NEW YORK—As they come closer to their Super Bowl clash with the formidable Patriots—the team they nearly defeated in late December—the Giants are confident that they can come close to beating the undefeated AFC champions on football's biggest stage.

"This team has already tasted victory against the Patriots," head coach Tom Coughlin said Monday. "By which I mean we were so close to victory that we could taste it. True, we did not actually experience that victory, but we came as close to beating them as anyone else has this season. That's the kind of team we believe we are, and I think the Super Bowl will prove that."

Couglin and his assistant coaches have been painstakingly breaking down game films from their Week 17 meeting with New England, analyzing every vital, near-victorious second for anything that might help them come that tantalizingly close to winning for the second time in as many months. They acknowledge that the Patriots are very good indeed, but the Giants believe they can draw on the experience of that near-victory, the confidence they discovered in barely losing to undefeated New England, and the lessons learned in forcing Bill Belichick's juggernaut to come from 12 points behind and beat them in the final minutes.



Read the rest here.

Crazy Little Thing


From Time:



Why We Love

By Jeffrey Kluger
Thursday, Jan. 17, 2008

The last time you had sex, there was arguably not a thought in your head. O.K., if it was very familiar sex with a very familiar partner, the kind that--truth be told--you probably have most of the time, your mind may have wandered off to such decidedly nonerotic matters as balancing your checkbook or planning your week. If it was the kind of sex you shouldn't have been having in the first place--the kind you were regretting even as it was taking place--you might have already been flashing ahead to the likely consequences. But if it was that kind of sex that's the whole reason you took up having sex in the first place--the out-of-breath, out-of-body, can-you-believe-this-is-actually-happening kind of sex--the rational you had probably taken a powder.

Losing our faculties over a matter like sex ought not to make much sense for a species like ours that relies on its wits. A savanna full of predators, after all, was not a place to get distracted. But the lure of losing our faculties is one of the things that makes sex thrilling--and one of the very things that keeps the species going. As far as your genes are concerned, your principal job while you're alive is to conceive offspring, bring them to adulthood and then obligingly die so you don't consume resources better spent on the young. Anything that encourages you to breed now and breed plenty gets that job done.

But mating and the rituals surrounding it make us come unhinged in other ways too, ones that are harder to explain by the mere babymaking imperative. There's the transcendent sense of tenderness you feel toward a person who sparks your interest. There's the sublime feeling of relief and reward when that interest is returned. There are the flowers you buy and the poetry you write and the impulsive trip you make to the other side of the world just so you can spend 48 hours in the presence of a lover who's far away. That's an awful lot of busywork just to get a sperm to meet an egg--if merely getting a sperm to meet an egg is really all that it's about.

Human beings make a terrible fuss about a lot of things but none more than romance. Eating and drinking are just as important for keeping the species going--more so actually, since a celibate person can at least continue living but a starving person can't. Yet while we may build whole institutions around the simple ritual of eating, it never turns us flat-out nuts. Romance does.

"People compose poetry, novels, sitcoms for love," says Helen Fisher, an anthropologist at Rutgers University and something of the Queen Mum of romance research. "They live for love, die for love, kill for love. It can be stronger than the drive to stay alive."

On its good days (and love has a lot of them), all this seems to make perfect sense. Nearly 30 years ago, psychologist Elaine Hatfield of the University of Hawaii and sociologist Susan Sprecher now of Illinois State University developed a 15-item questionnaire that ranks people along what the researchers call the passionate-love scale (see box, page 60). Hatfield has administered the test in places as varied as the U.S., Pacific islands, Russia, Mexico, Pakistan and, most recently, India and has found that no matter where she looks, it's impossible to squash love. "It seemed only people in the West were goofy enough to marry for passionate love," she says. "But in all of the cultures I've studied, people love wildly."



Read the rest here.

Quel Qu Un Ma Dit?


Speaking as a huge fan of the bride, I can only say that I can well understand how the cub reporter who filed this report might have been distracted by Ms. Bruni's great beauty and immense talent when writing his copy. (Italics in the story below mine.)

From Yahoo News:



French president marries former model
February 2, 2008

PARIS - French President Nicolas Sarkozy married former model Carla Bruni on Saturday at the Elysee Palace, the couple announced, tying the knot less than three months after they reportedly first met.

In a terse statement, the couple said only that they "were married this morning in the presence of their families in the strictest privacy." The official statement followed an announcement of the wedding several hours earlier from the official who had performed the ceremony at the presidential Elysee Palace.

"The bride wore white; she was ravishing, as usual," Francois Lebel, mayor of Paris' eighth arrondissement, or neighborhood, told Europe-1 radio. "The groom wasn't bad either."

Sarkozy, 53, and Bruni, 40, were married in the presence of about 20 close family and friends, Lebel said. He called the ceremony "a moment of family intimacy for the young newlyweds, of great simplicity and apparently a lot of affection between the spouses.

"I wished them a lot of happiness," he said.



Read the rest here.

Autism News


From Scribbs News:



Expert goes public to counter fallacy on autism

By MARK ROTH

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Thursday, January 31, 2008

Nancy J. Minshew is finally ready to take off the gloves.

After years of sitting back and hoping the science would speak for itself, the director of the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Excellence in Autism Research has decided it's time for her to take a personal stand.

Autism is not caused by vaccinations, she says, and those who continue to push that theory are endangering the lives of children and misdirecting the nation's scarce resources for autism research.

"The weight of the evidence is so great that I don't think there is any room for dispute. I think the issue is done," said Dr. Minshew, who runs one of nine top autism research centers funded by the National Institutes of Health.

"I'm doing this for all the families out there who don't have a child with autism, who have to deal with the issue of 'Do I get a vaccination, or do I not do it and risk my child's life' because they don't understand what the science is saying."



Read the rest here.

A Death In Winter



It's a been an overcast Saturday, fully 40 degrees warmer than it was mid-week, and yet it still feels cold. Then again, I'm sick as a mutt, caught in the grip of the grippe, so what do I know? I can barely breathe, with congested lungs and stuffed sinuses, am feeling achy all over, but I'm actually better than I was yesterday and even the day before. I went into work both days and actually managed to do a lick of work, but I'd be hard-pressed to say what I got done.

It wasn't just the cold, I was feeling a bit numb, too: I came into work on Thursday to news that PC, a woman I've known for a couple decades, and worked closely with for four years on my previous team, had passed away the night before.

She'd been very ill for quite some time, had been battling cancer and chron's, as well as kidney and liver problems. Even though she was reduced to using a walker to get around, she still came in to work as often as she was able, hoping to stave off having to quit until this coming May, when she could finally draw a full pension.

It was not to be.

Her daughter discovered her at home last Saturday in a mostly incoherent state, and she was admitted to the hospital later that day with pneumonia. The doctors were unable to arrest her rapid decline, and she died in the ICU on Wednesday night. She was only 57.

It's strange, I lost family and friends at a young age, and I think I grew up feeling rather prosaic about the inevitability of death. It warped my thinking about alot of things, to be sure, but I've never blocked it out, like so many.

That said, as I've aged, the Grim Reaper looms much larger on the horizon, year by year, and as I entered my fifties this past year, more and more of my peers - those in my age bracket - are presenting with heart disease, cancer, Parkinson's, even early onset Alzheimer's. Just within the past year I've lost at least a half-dozen current or former co-workers, some actually younger than I.

I must say, I'm really don't fear death, but I am afraid of dying, or rather, I fear the suffering that comes with the conditions that can lead to death, and I fear the stressful treatments that often accompany those conditions. I'm a wuss when it comes to pain, and I hope to be spared that.

But what I fear far more is that my kids might suffer. I know perfectly well that they are not exempt from any possible human experience, but I guess it's my parental instincts kicking in, wanting to keep them from harm.

Anyway, I'm sad that PC is gone. She and I disagreed, from time to time, like all colleagues do, but I respected her for her work ethic and her dedication. She suffered alot over the past few years, never got to retire, and now she is gone, far too young. I will miss her.