Monday, March 31, 2008

Sunday, March 30, 2008

LJ Post - Four Books, Nine TV Shows, Nineteen Songs

From Blogizdat LJ:

Four Books:

1) Stardust - Neil Gaiman

Okay, I didn't really read this, I listened to the Audio-book, but it was the unabridged version of the text read by the author himself, so it was read, just not by me. Still, I found it to be an absolutely delightful fairy tale for adults - or adolescents. It wasn't perfect, there were some small holes in the plot, but all in all it was one of the loveliest stories in the genre since The Princess Bride.

2) The 33 Strategies Of War - Robert Greene

I'm actually more fond of the first and second books in the series, but as with the others, I keep coming back to this, again and again. Maybe that's because I'm kind of doltish, and don't know that I've really learned all that much, or maybe it's because the book has so many layers to it that there are nuances to be discovered at each visit. No matter, I find it a fascinating study, and worth reading, and reading, and reading.

3) The Civilization of Ancient Egypt - Paul Johnson

I haven't actually read this all the way thru yet, but then again, I am reading it in chunks, and find it a wonderful exposition. I love Paul Johnson's writing as an historian, and his writing on art is particularly enlightening. This is an amalgam of the two, covering all aspects of Ancient Egypt, from the sacred to the profane. It's a very good book.

4) A Mencken Chrestomathy - HL Mencken

I can't remember for certain if I've included this book on other such lists in the past, but if I have, it's only because it's that good. Indeed, after Mark Twain, Mencken remains the best non-fiction prose author this country has ever produced. His style could be guilty of rodomontade at times, but he wrote with such verve and wit that I never fail to be awed. This volume is an anthology compiled by the author himself, chock-full of some of his more famous pieces and some of the not-so-famous one, and every piece brilliant.


Read the rest here.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

My Dream Job: 'Welcome To Burger World'

From Poughkeepsie Journal:

Being far from a shore without a life raft. That's how Brian Kurth described the fear that occurs when one leaves a job that pays the mortgage for the career one has always wanted to pursue.

To help make that transition a little easier, in 2004 he founded VocationVacations - an Oregon-based company that arranges short-term internships so people can try out their dream jobs.

Business experts advise testing out different jobs is a good way to determine what is a good personal fit.

Mentors, internship and job shadowing are all tools available to job seekers young and old.

There are several fee-based and free resources available, from college career centers to privately owned firms to one-on-one small business advisement.

Sam Kandel is a Certified Business Adviser at the Mid-Hudson Small Business Development Center in Kingston. He warned that many careers appear more glamorous than they actually are.

"Very often, the reality of running a restaurant and working in one is vastly different," Kandel said. "Cooking scrambled eggs, closing the doors and doing 14 hours of paperwork to figure out why you aren't making money is very different from what you see on TV."

What business counselors can give is advice on business plan preparation, sources of funding and marketing plans. What they can't give is hands-on experience in a specific career.

VocationVacations was the company Joe Slowik of Middletown contacted when he wanted to learn about the coffee business.

For nearly 19 years, Slowik has been in the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry. It's not a bad job, he said, but it's not his passion. His goal is to open a small Orange County coffee shop.

For $949 (excluding transportation and lodging), Slowik took a skills assessment test and spent two days in September at Koffee on Audubon in New Haven, Conn.

"When you quit your job and start your own business, you want to make sure it's your business, not just another job," he said.

From his experience, Slowik learned about roadblocks and ways around them, how to deal with vendors and what goes on after store hours.

"All thumbs up. You can't go wrong," the 43-year-old

Read a the rest here.

More From The WTH? Files

From Wikipedia:

Mary (elephant)

Mary was a five ton Asian elephant who performed in the Sparks World Famous Shows circus. Her death is sometimes interpreted as a cautionary tale of circus animal abuse during the early twentieth century.

On September 11, 1916 a hotel worker named Red Eldridge was hired as an assistant elephant trainer by the circus. On the evening of September 12 he was killed by Mary in Kingsport, Tennessee while taking her to a nearby pond to splash and drink. There are several accounts of his death but the most widely accepted version is that he prodded her behind the ear with a hook after she reached down to nibble on a watermelon rind. She went into a rage, snatched Eldridge with her trunk, threw him against a drink stand and deliberately stepped on his head, crushing it.

The details of the aftermath are confused in a maze of sensationalist newspaper stories and folklore. Most accounts indicate that she calmed down afterward and didn't charge the onlookers, who began chanting, "Kill the elephant!" Apparently within minutes, a local blacksmith tried to kill Mary, firing more than two dozen rounds with little effect. Newspapers published claims that Murderous Mary had killed several workers in the past and noted that she was larger than the world famous Jumbo the elephant. Meanwhile, the leaders of several nearby towns threatened not to allow the circus to visit if Mary was included. The circus owner, Charlie Sparks, reluctantly decided that the only way to quickly resolve the potentially ruinous situation was to kill the elephant in public. On the following day, a foggy and rainy September 13, 1916, she was transported by rail to Erwin, Tennessee where a crowd of over 2,500 people (including most of the town's children) assembled in the Clinchfield railroad yard.

The elephant was hanged by the neck from a railcar-mounted industrial crane. The first attempt resulted in a snapped chain, causing Mary to fall and break her hip as dozens of children fled in terror. The severely wounded elephant died during a second attempt and was buried beside the tracks. Although the authenticity of a widely distributed (and heavily retouched) photo of her death was disputed years later by Argosy magazine, other photographs taken during the incident confirm its provenance.

Everything Else Is Just A Bore

From The Boston Globe:

The joy of boredom

By Carolyn Y. Johnson
March 9, 2008

Don't check that e-mail. Don't answer that phone. Just sit there. You might be surprised by what happens.

A DECADE AGO, those monotonous minutes were just a fact of life: time ticking away, as you gazed idly into space, stood in line, or sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Boredom's doldrums were unavoidable, yet also a primordial soup for some of life's most quintessentially human moments. Jostled by a stranger's cart in the express checkout line, thoughts of a loved one might come to mind. A long drive home after a frustrating day could force ruminations. A pang of homesickness at the start of a plane ride might put a journey in perspective.

Increasingly, these empty moments are being saturated with productivity, communication, and the digital distractions offered by an ever-expanding array of slick mobile devices. A few years ago, cellphone maker Motorola even began using the word "microboredom" to describe the ever-smaller slices of free time from which new mobile technology offers an escape. "Mobisodes," two-minute long television episodes of everything from "Lost" to "Prison Break" made for the cellphone screen, are perfectly tailored for the microbored. Cellphone games are often designed to last just minutes -- simple, snack-sized diversions like Snake, solitaire, and Tetris. Social networks like Twitter and Facebook turn every mundane moment between activities into a chance to broadcast feelings and thoughts; even if it is just to triple-tap a keypad with the words "I am bored."

But are we too busy twirling through the songs on our iPods -- while checking e-mail, while changing lanes on the highway -- to consider whether we are giving up a good thing? We are most human when we feel dull. Lolling around in a state of restlessness is one of life's greatest luxuries -- one not available to creatures that spend all their time pursuing mere survival. To be bored is to stop reacting to the external world, and to explore the internal one. It is in these times of reflection that people often discover something new, whether it is an epiphany about a relationship or a new theory about the way the universe works. Granted, many people emerge from boredom feeling that they have accomplished nothing. But is accomplishment really the point of life? There is a strong argument that boredom -- so often parodied as a glassy-eyed drooling state of nothingness -- is an essential human emotion that underlies art, literature, philosophy, science, and even love.

"If you think of boredom as the prelude to creativity, and loneliness as the prelude to engagement of the imagination, then they are good things," said Dr. Edward Hallowell, a Sudbury psychiatrist and author of the book "CrazyBusy." "They are doorways to something better, as opposed to something to be abhorred and eradicated immediately.

Read the rest here.

Gotta Go Clean The Bathroom Now

From the Daily Mail UK:

Men who do housework get more sex from their wives

8th March 2008

Just think of the reward: Men who do the vacuuming and other household chores earn 'sexual interest and affection' from their wives or girlfriends

Men who want a more active sex life need to get down and dirty, according to new research - by doing more housework.

A survey found that "house-husbands" who do laundry, washing up and ironing also spend more time in bed with their female partners as a reward for their work.

The study carried out in America and published yesterday also found that once a "housework-for-sex" trend has been established in the home, relationships also last longer.

The report's author, Scott Coltrane, of California Riverside Univerity, said: "By and large, the more men do around the house, the happier women are.

"When men do more of the housework, women's perceptions of fairness and marital satisfaction rise and the couple experience less marital conflict.

"Therapists say there's a direct correlation between men doing more housework and the frequency of sex, and wives reported greater feelings of sexual interest and affection for husbands who participated in housework."

Gents, pick your Swiffers here.

LJ Post - Paging Agent Mulder

From Blogizdat LJ:

Look, I am a card-carrying Wingnut, and I unreservedly reject with all the strength that remains in my creaky bones Comrade Obama and the loony-left jingoistic nonsense he spouts on the stump. But come on, Barack Obama = The Anti-Christ? Huh? That's just ignorant. Doesn't anyone remember their history? Jimmy Carter was the Anti-Christ, some thirty years ago. Okay, I'm kidding, and besides, I cast my first presidential vote for the lovable peanut farmer from Georgia, albeit a vote of which I am now woefully ashamed, and have repented many times.

Read the rest here.

From The WTH? Files

From The Guardian UK:

'Being a pregnant man? It's incredible'

Is it a miracle? A hoax? Or just tragedy in the making? Patrick Barkham on the frenzy surrounding the US transgender man reported to be expecting a baby girl

Friday March 28, 2008
The Guardian

Thomas Beatie lives in a former logging city in Oregon with his wife, Nancy Roberts. He has a beard and he has a bulge in his stomach that isn't a beer belly. Beatie, it is claimed, is five months' pregnant and the story has caused a worldwide frenzy.

Beatie, 34, is a transgender man, or "trans man". Born in Hawaii as Tracy Lagondino, he was a prominent gay-rights activist who found he identified with being a man. He underwent a sex change, which involved regular injections of testosterone, and having his breasts surgically removed (but keeping his female reproductive organs) and legally became a man.

After marrying, Beatie and his wife moved to the US mainland. They wanted to start a family but health problems meant Roberts could not conceive. So, according to the account Beatie gave the Advocate, a US gay and lesbian magazine, he stopped his twice-weekly hormone injections, allowed his periods to return, and tried for a baby.

A first attempt ended in a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy. Now, following anonymous sperm donation and home insemination, Beatie says he is pregnant again and is due to give birth to a baby girl in July. "How does it feel to be a pregnant man? Incredible. Despite the fact that my belly is growing with a new life inside me, I am stable and confident being the man that I am," he writes. "To Nancy, I am her husband carrying our child - I am so lucky to have such a loving, supportive wife. I will be my daughter's father, and Nancy will be her mother."

The dramatic picture of a bearded, apparently pregnant, Beatie has sparked horror in tabloid and conservative circles - and some are claiming it is a hoax. Fox News television channel has reported that Beatie won't be speaking to the media until his confidentiality clause ends on April 1 - April fool's day

Read the rest here.

Friday Night Videos - Best Of Last Week's Idol

'Billie Jean'
David Cook


'We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions'
Michael Johns


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wednesday Ramble

From Blogizdat LJ:

11 AM

I stayed home sick from work yesterday, don't quite know what I had/have, but I felt nauseous and had a bad migraine-like headache. It didn't help that I didn't sleep well the night before, but that seems to have been the rule more than the exception, in recent weeks. Anyway, I stayed holed-up in bed until about noon and then lay whimpering on the futon in the New Room for most of the rest of the day.

(Well, I wasn't the only one home sick. AE and LK were stayed home from school yesterday, as both have had nasty coughs and sore throats, and in AE's case, she'd been running a temp of as much as 104F on and off for two days.)

Anyway, today is my regularly-scheduled day off, and even though I don't feel that much better - I managed even less sleep last night than the night before - I am on Weekday Daddy Duty, and I had to be up early to get LK on her bus.

Read the rest here.

Windows Errors

To Be Happy Is To Suffer

From Science Daily:

The Conflict Of Reward In Depression

ScienceDaily (Mar. 25, 2008) — In Love and Death, Woody Allen wrote: “To love is to suffer…To be happy is to love. To be happy, then, is to suffer.” The paradoxical merging of happiness and suffering can be a feature of depression. A new study of regional brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging may help further our understanding of how happiness and suffering are related in depression.

Stanford University researchers recruited both depressed and non-depressed volunteers to undergo brain scans, via functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), while they participated in an activity where they won and lost money. Dr. Brian Knutson, first author on this article, explains their findings: “When they anticipated winning money, both depressed and nondepressed individuals showed neural activation in the nucleus accumbens, a region implicated in the anticipation of reward. Only the depressed participants, however, additionally showed increased activation in the anterior cingulate, a region of the brain that has been implicated in conflict.”

Read the rest here.

More Weird

From Daily Herald:

New research hints at the surprising power of the placebo effect

Published: 3/24/2008 12:03 PM

When you write about science, there's no shortage of topics that incite the wrath of readers. Climate change. Evolution. Racial differences in IQ. But say that dummy pills with no pharmacologically active ingredients -- placebos -- are about as effective as antidepressants in treating depression, and watch out.

People are incensed at the very thought that the (often expensive) meds they rely on might be 21st-century versions of the magic feather that Dumbo, the flying elephant, was told would make him airborne. It was only when Dumbo dropped the feather he was clutching in his trunk while in free fall, and started flapping his ears, that he grasped that his powers actually came from within, allowing him to fly.

No one is saying "positive thinking" can cure cancer, or that patients should throw out their pills, let alone that illnesses that respond to the placebo effect are "all in your head."

But there is no denying the drumbeat of studies on the therapeutic power of placebos. Over the years they have been shown to relieve asthma, lower blood pressure, reduce angina and stop gastric reflux. An inert solution injected into the brains of patients with Parkinson's disease reduced muscle rigidity about as well as standard drugs. In a bizarre finding, sham surgery of the knee, in which patients got sedation and an incision but no actual procedure, relieved the pain of osteoarthritis better than actual arthroscopy -- and produced an equal improvement in joint function, scientists reported in 2002.

Read the rest here.


From The Duke Chronicle:

Pricier placebo pills pack more punch

Fuqua's Ariely finds that medications' stated price can influence efficacy

By: Kristen Davis
Posted: 3/24/08

When it comes to expensive medications, do patients really get what they pay for?

A recent study conducted by a professor at the Fuqua School of Business has found that high expectations for more expensive medications can actually make the pricier drugs more beneficial to patients.

Eighty-five percent of people who thought they had taken an expensive painkiller said they experienced reduced pain, as opposed to 61 percent of a group that was told the same drug was discounted. But the two groups didn't only take the same pill-they both took the same placebo.

"Placebo is real," said Dan Ariely, lead researcher of the study and a visiting professor of marketing at Fuqua specializing in behavioral economics. "When you expect something to give you pain relief, your body actually secretes opiates that make you feel less pain. You can't do it consciously, but expectations can really change physiology."

For the experiment, Ariely-who received his Ph.D. at Duke in 1998-converted his office at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to a "lab-testing facility"-complete with fake company logos on pens and brochures.

The researchers gave half the participants a brochure describing a new painkiller offered at $2.50 a dose, and they told the other half that the drug was marked down to 10 cents. All of the participants were then given electric shocks to measure their perception of pain. More people who had taken the "undiscounted" version said they experienced reduced pain from the drug.

In a similar experiment, Ariely and his researchers pretended to sell University of Iowa students energy drinks of two different prices. The students who thought they had bought a more expensive drink worked out longer in the gym, said they felt less tired and solved more word puzzles than the students who thought they had bought a cheap drink. In both cases, the drink was actually a SoBe, a vitamin-enhanced water drink.

On a philosophical level, Ariely said, the results of these experiments allow us to reevaluate the mind-body relationship.

"The reality we experience is partially determined by what we expect," he said.

Read the rest here.


From Blogizdat LJ:

I mentioned last Friday night that I was going down to St. Kate's to see Ratdog in concert, but never posted anything further. Here's my report and some photos.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Crazy 8's

Honestly, I'm not even really sure I was tagged for this meme, but if not, I'll just borrow it for a little while, and put it back when I'm done. Promise.

From Blogizdat LJ:

8 things I’m passionate about:

1. Family (especially adventures with my daughters)
2. Friends (real world and online)
3. Communication (email, phone and in person)
4. Good music (listening and creating)
5. Good books (printed and audio)
6. Good movies (mostly on DVD)
7. Writing (especially journaling and blogging)
8. Beauty (sunsets, geometry, female, etc)

Read the rest here.

Another Hard-Hitting & Unbiased City Pages Expose'

From City Pages:

When teens encounter Christ, all hell breaks loose

By Matt Snyders

When my mother, a public high school teacher in rural Iowa, entered her classroom to find the occasional Bible verse or Jesus-themed riddle scrawled on the whiteboard, she thought little of it. After all, the doodlers were without exception exceedingly polite and well behaved. And in conservative northwest Iowa, bold proclamations of faith were hardly novel.

But when a subset of students quit their sports teams in order to spend more time with Jesus, and swore off prom based on their conviction that the ritual was a ruse concocted by the Devil himself, it became apparent that something beyond Sunday school was at work.

The more zealous students had all recently attended Teens Encountering Christ, TEC for short (pronounced "tech"). The three-day Christian gala was becoming the Jesus retreat for kids of all denominations.

I knew a few kids who signed up, and the personality changes were dramatic. In the span of 72 hours, they transformed from hilarious, debauched rapscallions into timid, scripture-spouting ninnies.

We heathens—those of us who could barely endure one hour of church per week, let alone three continuous days of droning scripture verbiage—couldn't help but wonder: What the hell went on during these things? What had they done to Rich? And just where were we going to buy our pot now?

Adding to the mystique was the TEC alums' uncompromising secrecy. They told us they weren't allowed to divulge the weekend's goings-on because it would "ruin the secret." And since they had sworn off drinking, efforts to loosen their lips with Bacardi 151 proved futile.

The TEC leadership is equally cagey. Here's what we do know: The first TEC weekend was held in 1964 in Lansing, Michigan. The brainchild of Father Matthew Fedewa (now a Twin Cities resident), TEC sought to "bring the essentials of the Catholic faith into clear focus for high school seniors and young adults." In late 1984, the National TEC Conference assembled a study group to create an "official TEC manual." It took more than 12 years to hone and refine the final draft. On June 8, 1997, the group introduced the Official TEC Manual at the National TEC Conference in Roseville, Minnesota. Interestingly—and by that, I mean "suspiciously"—the only people allowed to read the manual are insiders.

"The manual has a license agreement that goes with TEC community," explains Ron Reiter, the executive director of the TEC Conference. "My predecessors didn't allow for it to be disseminated, and I don't either. It's licensed to us and us only."

There was only one choice: go undercover. Which is why I infiltrated a weekend retreat held by the Twin Cities TEC, a chapter based in West St. Paul. But unlike the true believers, I had no intention of keeping secrets.

Read the rest here.

Dance Of Death

From New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia:

Dance of Death

(French, Dance Macabre, German Todtentanz)

The "Dance of Death" was originally a species of spectacular play akin to the English moralities. It has been traced back to the middle of the fourteenth century. The epidemics so frequent and so destructive at that time, such as the Black Death, brought before popular imagination the subject of death and its universal sway. The dramatic movement then developing led to its treatment in the dramatic form. In these plays Death appeared not as the destroyer, but as the messenger of God summoning men to the world beyond the grave, a conception familiar both to the Holy Bible and to the ancient poets. The dancing movement of the characters was a somewhat later development, as at first Death and his victims moved at a slow and dignified gait. But Death, acting the part of a messenger, naturally took the attitude and movement of the day, namely the fiddlers and other musicians, and the dance of death was the result.

The purpose of these plays was to teach the truth that all men must die and should therefore prepare themselves to appear before their Judge. The scene of the play was usually the cemetery or churchyard, though sometimes it may have been the church itself. The spectacle was opened by a sermon on the certainty of death delivered by a monk. At the close of the sermon there came forth from the charnel-house, usually found in the churchyard, a series of figures decked out in the traditional mask of death, a close-fitting, yellowish linen suit painted so as to resemble a skeleton. One of them addresses the intended victim, who is invited to accompany him beyond the grave. The first victim was usually the pope or the emperor. The invitation is not regarded with favour and various reasons are given for declining it, but these are found insufficient and finally death leads away his victim. A second messenger then seizes the hand of a new victim, a prince or a cardinal, who is followed by others representing the various classes of society, the usual number being twenty-four. The play was followed by a second sermon reinforcing the lesson of the representation.

Read the rest here.

And This Is News How?

From Reuters:

Cliquey, gossipy students seen as popular: study

Tue Mar 11, 2008 1:34pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Cliques of girls or boys who gossip and spread rumors at school might make life miserable for some other students but it helps their popularity, according to a study of high school students.

U.S. researchers surveyed about 600 boys and girls from age nine to 18 at a public school system in a working class community in the U.S. northeast from 1995 to 2004 to see how aggression, popularity and academic achievement impacted membership in cliques.

They found that bullying and physical aggression helped popularity in the earlier grades but membership in physically aggressive cliques declined as children got older.

But membership in cliques where students gossiped, spread rumors and excluded others -- otherwise known as relational aggression -- remained constant and even increased the perceived popularity and social visibility of the students in cliques.

Read the rest here.

The King Of Bollywood

From CNN:

The King Of Bollywood

February 12, 2008 -- Updated 1403 GMT (2203 HKT)

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Some movie actors are lauded for their performances on the silver screen, earning themselves respect and stardom. But few, if any, Western stars are worshipped in quite the way that Shah Rukh Khan is. In a film career spanning 16 years he has risen to become the most recognizable face of Indian cinema and the most watched movie star in the world.

Shah Rukh Khan's life story is one which Bollywood scriptwriters would have been proud to have penned themselves.

His journey into Indian cinema took in tragedy, romance, determination and luck. It was also highly unconventional for an outsider like Khan to break into the inherently dynastic world of Bollywood.

Khan was born in Delhi in 1965. As a boy growing up, Khan never really dreamed of being an actor, his head and heart were consumed by sport -- notably cricket and hockey -- but injuries put an end to any dreams of becoming a professional sportsman.

Read the rest here.

From The WTH Files

The Spam Haiku Archive

Sunday, March 23, 2008

New Prostate Cancer Test

From Science Daily:

New Urine Test Detects Prostate Cancer Better Than Other Methods, Study Suggests

ScienceDaily (Feb. 5, 2008) — An experimental biomarker test developed by researchers at the University of Michigan more accurately detects prostate cancer than any other screening method currently in use, according to a study published in the February 1 issue of Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

The researchers say a simple urine test that screens for the presence of four different RNA molecules accurately identified 80 percent of patients in a study who were later found to have prostate cancer, and was 61 percent effective in ruling out disease in other study participants.

This is far more accurate than the PSA blood test currently in use worldwide, which can accurately detect prostate cancer in men with the disease but which also identifies many men with enlarged prostate glands who do not develop cancer, researchers say. Even the newer PCA3 test, which screens for a molecule specific to prostate cancer and which is now in use both in the U.S. and Europe is less precise, they say.

Read the rest here.

To Your Health

Great website:

Revolution Health

The Day The Future Died

From Geeks Are Sexy:

Arthur C. Clarke: The day the future died

March 19, 2008

by lbateman |

Arthur C. Clarke - Dec 16, 1917 - Mar 19, 2008By Lyle Bateman
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

“The golden age of science fiction” is a term used to describe a particularly fertile period in science fiction, when old conventions of “the space western” were challenged with new ideas, new themes, and new energy.

There are many names associated with that period—Heinlein Bradbury and Asimov, among others—but no name is more synonymous with that heady time in science fiction than Arthur C. Clarke. The death of Clarke, yesterday at his Sri Lanka home at the age of 90, almost closes that chapter of science-fiction history. With only Ray Bradbury left from the shiniest nuggets of the Golden Age, more than just writers are passing into history… the very ethic that created the world we live in today is slowing growing pale.

Clarke was an exceptional, prolific writer, of that there is no doubt. The impact of his work is felt across society today. Beyond the obvious influence of his seminal work, “2001: A Space Odyssey,” Clarke’s writing and thought has altered today’s world in general.

The most scientific of the golden age writers (Asimov and Heinlein were more concerned with plot and character interaction, while someone like Bradbury was more interested in sociological themes), Clarke was a true product of the age of the science and reason that blossomed after WWII. Well trained and highly intelligent, Clarke envisioned much of the world we see around us today through prose and his ideas.

One of the problems with writing science fiction is that prediction is a doosy. There are so many possibilities with the future that finding the one that WILL occur is a devil of a task. But science fiction is as much about what is possible as it is about what will be, and in that area, Clarke was phenomenal. He adhered to scientific principles very rigorously in his writing, even in those books that tended to explore more esoteric areas of the human psyche, such as “Childhood’s End,” and “The City and the Stars.” While many of the predictions Clarke wrote of never came to pass—or occurred differently than he envisioned—more than any other writer of the period, what Clarke wrote was ALWAYS eminently possible.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Lost In Translation

'Lost In Translation'


Watch the whole thing in ten parts on YouTube.

Someone very special recommended this several
years ago (thank you), and I found it to be a
magical experience. I still do.

Watch Cidade De Deus


'Cidade De Deus'

Streaming Video

I can't vouch for the legality or safety of these sites, but they don't appear to install any malware, so check them out:


and take a look at this directory of online streaming video:

OV Guide

TV Acres

From TV Acres:

TV ACRES is an online consumer information company specializing in TV program history. Our mission: To provide an easy-to-use, on-line subject guide that quickly finds information about the characters, places and things that appeared on television programs broadcast from the 1940s to the present (during prime time and Saturday mornings).

If you can think of a subject, then we'll probably have something for you in our database. Our site search engine also provides easy keyword access for searching specific inquiries.

Note: TV Acres primarily documents American TV, but we do love much of what comes out of Great Britain, so don't be surprised if there are entries from UK-produced shows in the database. Enjoy your visit

Not alot of info about shows not American, but still it's a good resource.

Check it out here.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday 2008

From First Things:

Good Friday 2008

By Fr. Richard John Neuhaus
Friday, March 21, 2008, 5:11 AM

“Through Mary he received his humanity, and in receiving his humanity received humanity itself. Which is to say, through Mary he received us. In response to the angel’s strange announcement, Mary said yes. But only God knew that it would end up here at Golgotha, that it had to end up here. For here, in darkness and in death, were to be found the prodigal children who had said no, the prodigal children whom Jesus came to take home to the Father.

The liturgy of Good Friday is coming to an end now. A final prayer replaces the usual benediction:

send down your abundant blessing
upon your people who have devoutly recalled
the death of your Son
in the sure hope of the resurrection.
Grant them pardon, bring them comfort.
May their faith grow stronger
and their eternal salvation be assured.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Let all the people say Amen. The church is dark now. The altar is stripped and bare. Some are getting up and leaving in silence. Others remain kneeling, looking into the darkness. Holy Saturday is ahead, the most quiet day of the year. The silence of that silent night, holy night, the night when God was born was broken by the sounds of a baby, a mother’s words of comfort and angels in concert. Holy Saturday, by contrast, is the sound of prefect silence. Yesterday’s mockery, the good thief’s prayer, the cry of dereliction—all that is past now. Mary has dried her tears, and the whole creation is still, waiting for what will happen next.

Read the rest here.

Good Friday & Daddy Duty

From Blogizdat LJ:

It's Good Friday, and I'm on Daddy Duty today of a snowy first day of Spring. Soon enough there will be buds on the trees, the geese will be back from Down South, and All God's Critters will doing their part to Be Fruitful and Multiply. And yet today was gray and blustery and snowy - yes, very snowy - confounding the birds and squirrels who congregated at the backyard feeders for their daily sustenance.

Read the rest here.

Attention KMart Shoppers

From New Scientist:

Blue LEDs to reset tired truckers' body clocks

18 March 2008

Eerie blue LEDs in truck cabs and truck stops could be the key to reducing accidents caused by drowsy drivers, say US researchers. They say bathing night drivers in the right light can increase their alertness by resetting their body clocks.

The scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, New York, are testing blue LEDs that shine light at particular wavelengths that convince the brain it is morning, they say, resetting the body's natural clock.

That could help reduce the number of accidents that occur when people drive through the night. Nearly 30% of all fatal accidents involving large trucks in the US happen during the hours of darkness, according to a recent report by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, while fatigue causes half of all truck accidents in the early hours on UK motorways.

Wakey wakey

"The concept of using light to boost alertness is well established [in other areas]," says Mariana Figueiro, co-author of a new white paper published by the institute's lighting research centre.

"Translating that understanding into a practical application is the next challenge." Drivers could take 30-minute "light showers" in truck stops fitted with similar lights, or the lights could be fitted into truck cabs.

Read the rest here.

This Is So Sad

From the AP:

Girl, 6, Dies From Swimming Pool Injury

March 21, 2008

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A 6-year-old girl whose intestines were partially sucked out by a swimming pool drain, leading to tougher safety legislation, has died, her family's attorney said Friday.

Abigail Taylor's parents were with her when she died Thursday at Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, where she had surgery in December to receive a new small bowel, liver and pancreas several months after she was injured.

She suffered setbacks, including a cancerous condition sometimes triggered by organ transplants, family attorney Bob Bennett said.

A hospital spokeswoman, Kara Haworth, confirmed Abigail's death but said that she could not comment further and that Abigail's doctors were not available Friday.

Abigail, of Edina in the suburban Twin Cities, was injured June 29 when she sat on a wading pool drain at the Minneapolis Golf Club in the suburb of St. Louis Park; its powerful suction ripped out part of her intestinal tract.

I've followed this story since the day of the initial event, and it just breaks my heart. Yeah, it made me cry, just now.

Read the rest here.


From Engadget:

The alphabet soup of different flash memory technologies is already a little bewildering, but it looks like the latest entrant could end up being the most promising of all, with single chip storage capacities of 1TB promised within ten years. Called array-based memory, the tech has been under development at a company called Nanochip, Inc. for nearly 12 years, and it looks like the the first working samples will go out next year. Although those first prototypes will have storage roughly equivalent to NAND flash at tens of gigs per circuit, the plan is to rapidly scale up to 100s of gigs and finally to 1TB on a single chip.

Read the rest here.

I Think I Wrote This Back In College

Mikhail, Row Your Boat Ashore?

From The Telegraph:

Mikhail Gorbachev admits he is a Christian

By Malcolm Moore in Rome
Last Updated: 3:04am GMT 19/03/2008

Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Communist leader of the Soviet Union, has acknowledged his Christian faith for the first time, paying a surprise visit to pray at the tomb of St Francis of Assisi.

Accompanied by his daughter Irina, Mr Gorbachev spent half an hour on his knees in silent prayer at the tomb.

His arrival in Assisi was described as "spiritual perestroika" by La Stampa, the Italian newspaper.

"St Francis is, for me, the alter Christus, the other Christ," said Mr Gorbachev. "His story fascinates me and has played a fundamental role in my life," he added.

Mr Gorbachev's surprise visit confirmed decades of rumours that, although he was forced to publicly pronounce himself an atheist, he was in fact a Christian, and casts a meeting with Pope John Paul II in 1989 in a new light.

Mr Gorbachev, 77, was baptised into the Russian Orthodox Church and his parents were Christians.

Read the rest here.

Breaking The Rules

From the New York Times:

How Do You Move a Career Into High Gear? By Breaking the Rules

August 28, 2007

If you want to be a concert pianist when you grow up, there are certain rules. You do start playing as a young child. You don’t drop out of Juilliard. You do win competitions and get the attention of managers at a young age. You don’t end up at 30 with no management and no bookings, raising the money yourself for your first recording. And you definitely don’t make your New York recital debut with Bach’s demanding “Goldberg” Variations, which are supposed to reflect the wisdom of long experience, and Baroque style.

Simone Dinnerstein, 34, has made her career by breaking every rule in the book.

Ms. Dinnerstein’s recording of the “Goldberg” Variations is being released today by Telarc. It is a distinctive approach to the work: colorful and idiosyncratic, a contemporary pianist’s rather than a harpsichordist’s account. It starts with a long, thoughtful, hesitant Aria that seems to be struggling to lift itself uncertainly out of silence.

“Everyone is somewhat taken aback by what she does with the opening Aria,” said Robert Woods, the president of Telarc.

But precisely because she puts such an individual stamp on it, Ms. Dinnerstein’s interpretation has won a lot of critical attention.

Read the rest here.


From Wikipedia:

Cyberduck is a graphical open source FTP and SFTP client for Mac OS X licensed under the GPL. It supports FTP/TLS (FTP secured over SSL/TLS), using AUTH TLS as well as uploading and downloading by drag and drop and is able to synchronise files and directories. In addition, it is also able to open some files in external text editors. Cyberduck includes a bookmark manager and supports the Mac OS X Keychain and Bonjour networking.. It supports multiple languages including English, Czech, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Slovak, Spanish, Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), Russian, Swedish, Hungarian, Danish, Polish, Indonesian, catalan, Welsh, Thai, Turkish and Hebrew.

I've been using it and it's very cool. You can get your free copy here.

Happy Birthday, Johnny Brook

From All Music Blog:

Bach’s Matthew Passion on Good Friday

March 21st, 2008
7:05 am est

Stephen Eddins

March 21 is J.S. Bach’s birthday (his 323rd) and this year it falls on Good Friday. The Scottish-based Dunedin Consort, whose 2006 recording of Messiah is easily one of the strongest and most striking versions on disc, has just released Bach’s Matthew Passion, so this seems a very appropriate moment to draw attention to it. Their Matthew Passion is notable on several accounts. First, it’s the first recording the use the version of the score that Bach prepared for his final performance of the work in Leipzig around 1742. The oratorio is scored for double chorus, double orchestra, and soloists. This version departs from the standard edition in its use of a harpsichord, rather than an organ in the second orchestra, providing an expanded timbral palette, and the addition of a part for viola da gamba in the second orchestra. Conductor John Butt doesn’t claim that this is the authoritative, “correct” version of the score, but it’s one that Bach did create, and therefore deserves to be heard.

Read the rest here.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Music Monday - St. Paddy's Day

'With Or Without You'




'Beautiful Day'


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Autism News

From Science Daily:

Children With Autism May Learn From 'Virtual Peers'

ScienceDaily (Mar. 5, 2008) — Using "virtual peers" -- animated life-sized children that simulate the behaviors and conversation of typically developing children -- Northwestern University researchers are developing interventions designed to prepare children with autism for interactions with real-life children.

Justine Cassell, professor of communication studies and electrical engineering and computer science, recently presented a preliminary study on the work at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

"Children with high-functioning autism may be able to give you a lecture on a topic of great interest to them but they can't carry on a 'contingent' -- or two-way -- conversation," said Cassell, director of Northwestern's Center for Technology and Social Behavior.

Cassell and researcher Andrea Tartaro collected data from six children with high-functioning autism aged 7 to 11 as they engaged in play during an hour-long session with a real-life child, and with a virtual peer named Sam.

In an analysis of those interactions, they found that children with autism produced more and more "contingent" sentences when they spoke with the virtual peer, while their sentences did not become increasingly contingent when they were paired with the real-life children.

"Certainly we're not saying that virtual peers make the best playmates for children with autism," said Tartaro. "The overall goal is for the children with autism to generalize the skills they learn in practice sessions with virtual peers to meaningful interactions with real-world children."

Read the rest here.

Is This A Great Country Or What?

Get your Client #9 tee shirts here.

World Drama

From the BBC:

World Drama

Label Listen (58mins)
Last Updated: Saturday, 15 March 2008, 20:01 GMT

Date of first transmission: 2008-03-15T08:01:00-00:00 (audio available for approximately 1 week)

The Arab-Israeli Cookbook
by Robin Soans

For our BBC World Drama this week, writer and actor Robin Soans traveled to the West Bank and Israel, to record interviews with residents of different cultures, races, ages and faiths: asking them to talk about their lives around the ongoing conflict. But he started by asking them to cook him a meal. He subsequently formed these verbatim accounts into a play.

The result is the compelling The Arab-Israeli Cookbook.

Cast: Clare Higgins, Sheila Reid, Abigail Thaw, Debra Weston
Jerome Willis, Paul Ritter, Paul Moriarty, Steven Webb and Christopher Logan.

Directed by Marion Nancarrow.

Read the rest here.

Also, here's a comprehensive catalogue of free BBC radio documentaries, listen online, or just download and place on your iPod or computer.

Mo' Music, Mo' Music, Mo' Music

From Wikipedia:

Amazon MP3

Amazon MP3 is a digital music store owned and operated by Launched in public beta on September 25, 2007,[1] in January 2008 it became the first music store to sell music without digital rights management (DRM) from the four major music labels (EMI, Universal, Warner Music, and Sony BMG), as well as many independents.[1][2][3][4] All tracks are sold in 256 kilobits-per-second variable bitrate MP3 format without per-customer watermarking or DRM. Music can only be sold to customers in the United States.

Catalog availability

At launch, Amazon offered "over 2 million songs from more than 180,000 artists and over 20,000 labels, including EMI Music and Universal Music Group," to customers located in the United States only.[1] In December 2007 Warner Music announced that it would offer its catalog on Amazon MP3[2] and in January 2008, Sony BMG followed suit.[3][4]

The top 100 songs sell for US$0.89 each and most other tracks sell for between $0.89 and $0.99. The top 100 albums sell for $8.99 or less, while most albums sell for between $5.99 and $9.99.[1]

In January 2008, Amazon announced plans to roll Amazon MP3 out "internationally."[5] Until February 2008, international users had been able to purchase music by entering a U.S. billing address for their credit cards. Amazon now limits international access by checking users' IP addresses.

Read the rest here.

BTW, I've used the service and found it clunkier than the iTunes store, but it's not bad, and both services have lots of music that the other doesn't carry. For example, I found Alex Lloyd's brilliant 'Black The Sun' album as a digital down on Amazon for a mere $9.49, which I'd been unable to find digitally elsewhere, including iTunes.

Anyway, Amazon's not the perfect service, and as I said, its interface is nothing as slick as Apple's, but it's a solid performer, and when one of my other downloads jammed, I emailed customer service and they'd fixed the problem within twenty minutes. I maintain Amazon is a contender.


From eText Library At The University of Adelaide:

The memoirs of Jacques Casanova de Seingalt

The rare unabridged London edition of 1894 translated by Arthur Machen to which has been added the chapters discovered by Arthur Symons.

Table of Contents


An Unpublished Chapter of History, By Arthur Symons


1. My Family Pedigree—My Childhood

2. My Grandmother Comes to Padua, and Takes Me to Dr. Gozzi’s School —My First Love Affair

3. Bettina Is Supposed to Go Mad—Father Mancia—The Small-pox— I Leave Padua

4. I receive the minor orders from the patriarch of Venice—I get acquainted with Senator Malipiero, with Therese Imer, with the niece of the Curate, with Madame Orio, with Nanette and Marton, and with the Cavamacchia—I become a preacher—my adventure with Lucie at Pasean A rendezvous on the third story.

5. An Unlucky Night I Fall in Love with the Two Sisters, and Forget Angela—A Ball at My House—Juliette’s Humiliation—My Return to Pasian—Lucie’s Misfortune—A Propitious Storm

6. My Grandmother’s Death and Its Consequences I Lose M. de Malipiero’s Friendship—I Have No Longer a Home—La Tintoretta—I Am Sent to a Clerical Seminary—I Am Expelled From It, and Confined in a Fortress

7. My Short Stay in Fort St. Andre—My First Repentance in Love Affairs I Enjoy the Sweets of Revenge, and Prove a Clever Alibi—Arrest of Count Bonafede—My Release—Arrival of the Bishop—Farewell to Venice

Read it here.

Full Of Dread

From Dreadlocks:

'Welcome to Whether you are starting your own dreads and are looking for information on how to do it right or just curious about where dreadlocks came from and why people wear them, we hope to answer all your questions and give you new apreciation for a very unique and often misunderstood hair style. If you have dreadlocks please do not hesitate to send us pictures! We will add you to our up comming dreadlocks gallery. You will find our address in the Contact section. Please enjoy our site and tell others about us so we can educate the masses about dreads and maybe, just maybe we can prevent another child from trying to start his dreads with peanut butter and toothpaste!'

Check the rest out here.

Sunday Night Ramble

From Blogizdat LJ:

This'll be long, get yourself some tea. Go on, I'll wait.


Okay, first up, on Friday evening I drove to the airport at 23:00 - that's military time, go figure it out - to pick up Mrs. Muzzy and the kiddies on their way back from Sunny Grenada, from whence they'd been in transit since early that morning, but they all seemed none the worse for wear. Mrs. Muzzy had managed to get a modest sunburn, but my fair-skinned daughters were able to stay that way, with only a sack of collected seashells to show for their time on the beaches of The Spice Isle. AE and LK told me all about their various adventures, and Mrs. Muzzy filled in the gaps. I'm glad they had a good and safe trip, and I'm glad they are home.


Read the rest here.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday Night Videos - The Big 80's

'Years Later'
Cactus World News


'The Sensual World'
Kate Bush


'Our House'


'The Sun Always Shines On TV'


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wednesday Afternoon Blather

From Blogizdat Livejournal:

It's Wednesday afternoon and I'm lying on the futon in an otherwise nearly-empty house, with only my 20-pound black and white house cat for company. Mrs. Muzzy and the girls went off to Grenada for a week in the sun, and I stayed behind to hold down the fort.

Read the rest here.

Found On The Web

Saturday, March 08, 2008

No, She Wasn't

A Snippet Of Conversation Overheard Last Week In Front Of A Downtown Building As I Came Out The Doors And Walked Past

Two smokers, both laughing, in the middle of a spirited conversation, one a white female who appeared to be in her mid-to-late-thirties, the other a white male who appeared to be in his late-twenties, possibly co-workers from the same office:

She: 'I'm not the same young MILF I used to be.'

He: 'Oh, yes you are.'

She: 'Ha ha ha!'

Friday, March 07, 2008

Friday Night Videos - My Faves From This Past Week's American Idol

Jason Castro


David Cook


'Love Is A Battlefield'
Brooke White


'I Hate Myself For Loving You'
Amanda Overyer


Monday, March 03, 2008