Saturday, April 26, 2008


From The Star-Ledger:

A nerd programs his way into her heart

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Star-Ledger Staff

Attention, computer geeks: Bernie Peng has raised the bar for the ultimate nerd wedding proposal.

The Jersey City man spent a month reprogramming his girlfriend's favorite video game, "Bejeweled," so when she reached a certain score a ring and a marriage proposal popped up.

After his sufficiently impressed girlfriend said yes, Peng posted the details of his feat on his blog. Then the fun really began.

Read the rest here.


From First Things:

The Judgment of Memory

by Joseph Bottum

Copyright (c) 2008 First Things
(March 2008)

My wife dreams of Brazilian cities: Salvador da Bahia, Rio de Janeiro, enormous South American cityscapes of sunlit beaches and anonymity. She hasn’t lived in Brazil since she was a child, and she still imagines those cities as entirely happy and unselfconscious—even childish. Places that seem to stand outside the curse of politics and history’s big ideas. Cities content in their sunshine to let the future be something that happens altogether elsewhere.

I dream instead of the prairie, when I long for escape from the life we’ve lived in Washington, Boston, and now New York—America’s busy east-coast cities, our home in the years since we were married in the small chapel at Georgetown after we finished college. A few years ago, when I was out west visiting my childhood home in Pierre, South Dakota, I drove up, in the late afternoon, to one of the river hills on the edge of town. Why is the sun so much bigger out on those plains than it is back east? Sitting on the hood of the car to watch the huge orange sunset beyond the Missouri, I thought: Here is where I ought to be, here is where I should stay—returning all those things that leaving here had turned.

Up north, down south, back east, out west: Our geographical prepositions have come adrift, even as we seem to have lost our national story. Some memory of their grandparents’ arrival in the Dakotas, some last lingering sense of the westward course of history since Columbus, made my parents insist we say “back east” and “out west.” Back was civilization, the old country, the origin. Out was the frontier, the undiscovered country, the goal.

Read the rest here.

From The WTH? Files

From Yahoo News:

Lynchings in Congo as penis theft panic hits capital

By Joe Bavier
Tue Apr 22, 1:24 PM ET

Police in Congo have arrested 13 suspected sorcerers accused of using black magic to steal or shrink men's penises after a wave of panic and attempted lynchings triggered by the alleged witchcraft.

Reports of so-called penis snatching are not uncommon in West Africa, where belief in traditional religions and witchcraft remains widespread, and where ritual killings to obtain blood or body parts still occur.

Rumours of penis theft began circulating last week in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo's sprawling capital of some 8 million inhabitants. They quickly dominated radio call-in shows, with listeners advised to beware of fellow passengers in communal taxis wearing gold rings.

Purported victims, 14 of whom were also detained by police, claimed that sorcerers simply touched them to make their genitals shrink or disappear, in what some residents said was an attempt to extort cash with the promise of a cure.

"You just have to be accused of that, and people come after you. We've had a number of attempted lynchings. ... You see them covered in marks after being beaten," Kinshasa's police chief, Jean-Dieudonne Oleko, told Reuters on Tuesday.

Read the rest here.

Finding Nemo

From Science Daily:

Cardiovascular Benefits Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids Reviewed

(Mar. 12, 2008)

Thousands of research studies have documented how the oils known as omega-3 fatty acids can benefit the cardiovascular system, particularly among people diagnosed with coronary artery disease. The incredible volume of research on this topic creates difficulty for many physicians and patients to stay current with findings and recommendations related to these oils. In the March issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, contributors briefly summarize current scientific data on omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular health, focusing on who benefits most from their protective effects, recommended guidelines for administration and dosing, and possible adverse effects associated with their use.

Two omega-3 fatty acids that have been associated with cardiovascular benefit, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), are found in fish oils. The best source for DHA and EPA are fatty coldwater fish such as herring, mackerel, salmon and tuna. Fish oil supplements or algae supplements also can provide omega-3 fatty acids.

Read the rest here.

Autism News

From Science Daily:

Autism Risk Linked To Distance From Power Plants, Other Mercury-releasing Sources

(Apr. 25, 2008)

How do mercury emissions affect pregnant mothers, the unborn and toddlers? Do the level of emissions impact autism rates? Does it matter whether a mercury-emitting source is 10 miles away from families versus 20 miles? Is the risk of autism greater for children who live closer to the pollution source?

A newly published study of Texas school district data and industrial mercury-release data, conducted by researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, indeed shows a statistically significant link between pounds of industrial release of mercury and increased autism rates. It also shows—for the first time in scientific literature—a statistically significant association between autism risk and distance from the mercury source.

“This is not a definitive study, but just one more that furthers the association between environmental mercury and autism,” said lead author Raymond F. Palmer, Ph.D., associate professor of family and community medicine at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio. The article is in the journal Health & Place.

Read the rest here.

Play Yahtzee Here

Sorry, you will need the <a href="" target="_blank">Flash Player</a> to play this game.
Add Games to your own site

Poor Barbie!

Barbie Massacre.

A Day In The Life Of Muzzy

From Blogizdat LJ:

What follows is just some random stuff I wrote offline this past Wednesday, but had heretofore neglected to post. Go get yer tea.

April 23, 2008

11:00 AM

I had a nightmare recently of being caught in a swirling rush of something - water, perhaps? - as on the periphery of some massive maelstrom, in which I was tossed about, topsy-turvy, spinning, head-over-heels, desperately trying to avoid being sucked down into the center, from which I could only imagine there would be no escape.

Read the rest here.

Worst Lyric Ever

Spinner's got the list here.

(Hmm, somehow they forgot this one.)

Worth A Look

Five Free Online File Storage Sites

(Note that xdrive works directly with BlueString for an integrated photo-sharing option.)

Photoshop Express - Online And Free

From CNet News:

Adobe opens shop on Web-based Photoshop Express

March 26, 2008 9:01 PM PDT
Posted by Martin LaMonica

Adobe Systems opened up Photoshop Express on Thursday, its long-anticipated Web-based image editor aimed at the millions of consumers that want a simple way to touch up, share, and store photos.

Photoshop Express, available for free with 2 gigabytes of storage at, is a significant departure from Adobe's desktop software business and a big bet that it can make money offering Web services directly to consumers.

The application, which needs Flash Player 9 to run, pushes the limits of browser-based applications and will likely ratchet up the competition on the dozens of free and online photo-editing products available now (see our full review of Photoshop Express and gallery of screen shots of the application).

Try it out here.

(I have an account, and even if it has nowhere near the power of the real thing, it's still an impressive app.)

Very Cool


(I actually have hundreds of photos like this that I did back in my 35mm days, but I haven't done any digitally. Hmm, maybe I outta digitize my old ones. Anyway, this guys stuff is very cool.)

Open Source Stuff

A simple list of the best of open source stuff:

(Translation: FREE, in a variety of useful categories.)

Welcome To Planet Mac

From ARS Technica:

From Win32 to Cocoa: a Windows user's conversion to Mac OS X

By Peter Bright
Published: April 21, 2008 - 01:05AM CT

Making the switch

A couple of Gartner analysts have recently claimed that Windows is "collapsing"; that it's too big, too sprawling, and too old to allow rapid development and significant new features. Although organizations like Gartner depend on trolling to drum up business, I think this time they could be onto something. "Collapsing" is over-dramatic—gradual decline is a more likely outcome—but the essence of what they're saying—and why they're saying it—rings true.

Windows is dying, Windows applications suck, and Microsoft is too blinkered to fix any of it—that's the argument. The truth is that Windows is hampered by 25-year old design decisions. These decisions mean that it's clunky to use and absolutely horrible to write applications for. The applications that people do write are almost universally terrible. They're ugly, they're inconsistent, they're disorganized; there's no finesse, no care lavished on them. Microsoft—surely the company with the greatest interest in making Windows and Windows applications exude quality—is, in fact, one of the worst perpetrators.

The unfortunate thing about this is that there is a company that's not only faced similar problems but also tackled them. Apple in the mid-1990s was faced with an operating system that was going nowhere, and needed to take radical action to avoid going out of business. And so that's what Apple did. Apple's role in the industry has always been more prominent than mere sales figures would suggest, but these days even the sales numbers are on the up. There are lessons to be learned from the company in Cupertino; I only hope they will be.

Read the rest here.

How To Lose Your Job

From Yahoo HotJobs:

5 Ways Your Computer Use Can Get You Fired

Liz Wolgemuth, U.S. News & World Report, Yahoo! HotJobs

It's essential for some jobs, handy for most, but don't be fooled -- the personal computer can be a job ender. Even as you read this story, you should probably be asking yourself: Am I actually allowed to browse online and read news stories at the office?

The parameters for computer use at work (and even at home) are often confusing. We communicate, network, watch our TV shows, do our grocery shopping, and get our news on our computers. But it's no free-for-all. Employees should know exactly what their employer's policies are for email and Internet usage, because workers are losing their jobs after computer-based missteps. Here are five ways to log on and lose your job:

1. Blog it up.

Blogger Chez Pazienza worked as a producer at CNN's "American Morning" until mid-February, when Pazienza says his boss informed him that the company discovered his name attached to blog posts written without CNN's approval. Pazienza was fired soon after. Pazienza runs Deus Ex Malcontent, where he writes about Oprah and President Bush with equal abandon. He hadn't identified himself as a CNN employee on the blog, but CNN spokeswoman Barbara Levin says company policy is that employees must first get permission to write for a non-CNN outlet. Levin didn't elaborate, noting that the company does not comment on personnel matters.

There's even a term for being fired because of a blog -- it's called being "dooced." While some blogging advocates say a well-executed blog can boost your career by presenting your best side to the HR executives Googling you, there are limitations. founder Heather Armstrong writes on her site that she lost her job a year after beginning the blog for writing entries that involved colleagues. She now tells site visitors, "Be ye not so stupid" and offers parameters for safe blogging: "Never write about work on the Internet unless your boss knows and sanctions the fact that you are writing about work on the Internet."

Read the rest here.


Red Square

Paging Doctor Who

From Fox News:

Lawsuit: Huge Atom Smasher Could Destroy World

Monday, March 31, 2008

By Paul Wagenseil

Black holes can be such a drag.

Stop the scientists before they destroy us all!

That's what a Hawaii man with a background in nuclear physics is asking a court to do.

Walter F. Wagner and his colleague Luis Sancho have filed a federal lawsuit seeking to stop work on the Large Hadron Collider, a gigantic atom smasher on the Franco-Swiss border that's set to start operations in May.

Physicists hope its incredible energies will form briefly-lived new particles that could shed light on the origins of the universe, among other marvels.

The plaintiffs' concerns? That the LHC could accidentally create strange new particles that would instantly transform any matter they touched, engulfing the Earth, or, even worse, make a rapidly expanding black hole that could consume the entire planet.

"[T]he compression of the two atoms colliding together at nearly light speed will cause an irreversible implosion, forming a miniature version of a giant black hole," reads the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Honolulu.

Read the rest here.

Books, Books, Books

From The Telegraph:

50 best cult books

Last Updated: 12:01am BST


Our critics present a selection of history's most notable cult writing. Some is classic. Some is catastrophic. All of it had the power to inspire

What is a cult book? We tried and failed to arrive at a definition: books often found in the pockets of murderers; books that you take very seriously when you are 17; books whose readers can be identified to all with the formula " whacko"; books our children just won’t get…

50 books that changed our lives

Some things crop up often: drugs, travel, philosophy, an implied two fingers to conventional wisdom, titanic self-absorption, a tendency to date fast and a paperback jacket everyone recognises with a faint wince. But these don’t begin to cover it.

Cult books include some of the most cringemaking collections of bilge ever collected between hard covers. But they also include many of the key texts of modern feminism; some of the best journalism and memoirs; some of the most entrancing and original novels in the canon.

Cult books are somehow, intangibly, different from simple bestsellers – though many of them are that. The Carpetbaggers was a bestseller; Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was a cult.

They are different from books that have big new ideas – though many of them are that. On The Origin of Species changed history; but Thus Spoke Zarathustra was a cult.

They are different from How-To books – though many of them are that. The Highway Code is a How-To book; Baby and Child Care was a cult. These are books that became personally important to their readers: that changed the way they lived, or the way they thought about how they lived.

The Bible, the Koran and the Communist Manifesto, of course, changed lives – but, in the first instance, they changed the life of the tribe, not of the individual.

In compiling our list, we were looking for the sort of book that people wear like a leather jacket or carry around like a totem. The book that rewires your head: that turns you on to psychedelics; makes you want to move to Greece; makes you a pacifist; gives you a way of thinking about yourself as a woman, or a voice in your head that makes it feel okay to be a teenager; conjures into being a character who becomes a permanent inhabitant of your mental flophouse.

We were able to agree, finally, on one thing: you know a cult book when you see one. And people have passionate feelings on both sides: our appeal for suggestions yielded enough for a list at least three times as long as this one.

So if you’ve loved or hated or grown out of or grown into one of these books – or another book we’ve omitted – please visit our website and tell us about it.

Read the list here.

Wankers Got It Wrong

From US News:

Reporting on Masturbation-Cancer Link Is Wrong

April 23, 2008 03:57 PM ET | Ben Harder | Permanent Link

Recent reporting you may have read on the health effects of masturbation is wrong. I don't mean morally; I mean journalistically. PlanetOut reported on Monday that "BBC News reported on Wednesday" that masturbating frequently may reduce a man's risk of prostate cancer. Masturbating may or may not affect one's cancer risk, but the only BBC report I can find on the subject is dated July 16, 2003—and it contains statistics that are identical to those cited by PlanetOut. (For what it's worth, that day was indeed a Wednesday, according to this online tool.)

Moreover, the Australian organization named by both news outlets, the Cancer Council Victoria, does not appear to have any recent press release on masturbation or ejaculation, though it does have one dating to July 2003. (A phone call to the Cancer Council, placed at 4:27 a.m. local time, went unanswered.) A search of, a database of published medical studies, turned up only one study about ejaculation (and one letter to an editor) coauthored by Graham Giles, the researcher quoted by PlanetOut.

Read the rest here.

Xenu In The News

From Radar Online:

Cult Friction

After an embarrassing string of high-profile defection and leaked videos, Scientology is under attack from a faceless cabal of online activists. Has America's most controversial religion finally met its match?

By John Cook

Clearwater is prepared for its enemies. It's a warm, if overcast, Saturday in February, but all the storefronts lining the sidewalks of this sleepy town on the Gulf Coast of Florida are shuttered. The streets are mostly barren, and at the sight of strangers, the few passersby quicken their pace and avert their eyes. Outwardly, Clearwater has all the hallmarks of an unexceptional beach community—there's a Starbucks on the corner, and new construction projects dot the shoreline. But today the cranes are still and the scaffolding is empty. No one is lining up for lattes. Everyone, it seems, has disappeared.

"There's one!" says Patricia Greenway, my guide, as we drive past a dark-haired woman in black slacks and a short-sleeve white shirt. When she notices us eyeballing her through the car window, she raises her hand like a scandalized starlet confronting the paparazzi. "See—she's hiding her face," Greenway says quietly, sounding like the host of an Animal Planet safari special. "They feel that if they're exposed to entheta, they'll lose their bridge."

Their "bridge" is the "Bridge to Total Freedom," the path to enlightenment, levitation, time travel, and all-around invincibility peddled by L. Ron Hubbard under the name Scientology. "Entheta" is us. The enemy.

A clean-cut young man points a video camera our way, slowly pivoting to keep us in the frame. The Scientologists are monitoring their enemies. And they are expecting more to comeEver since Hubbard, the portly flame-haired naval enthusiast, accomplished liar, pulp fiction writer, and unlikely cult leader, came ashore here in 1975 after leading his flock on an eight-year sea voyage throughout Europe and the Mediterranean, Clearwater has been known as the "spiritual mecca" of Scientology. Members call it Flag Land Base. Beginning with its purchase of the Fort Harrison Hotel that year, the Church has methodically acquired most of downtown Clearwater, save for the library and the courthouse, amassing nearly 1.7 million square feet of office and residential space and turning the city center into a virtual Scientology campus. More than 1,200 Church staff members, and somewhere between 5,000 and 12,000 Scientologists—including Kirstie Alley (who purchased her home from Lisa Marie Presley)—live and work here. Which is exceedingly creepy, especially when they're nowhere to be found. Even so, I am skeptical when Greenway and her associate, Peter Alexander, both outspoken critics of Scientology, hesitate to get out of the car and walk around. What could really happen to us? The sidewalk is still ostensibly public property.

Read the rest here.

Idol From Around The World

Idol Around the World: The Wild, Weird – and Good!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday Night Videos - Andrew Lloyd Weber Week On American Idol

'The Music Of The Night'
David Cook


'You Must Love Me'
Brooke White


Jason Castro


'Jesus Christ Superstar'
Carly Smithson


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Reposting From June 2003 - Slightly Updated

From Blogizdat LJ:

I'm feeling particularly uninspired, and haven't written here in a bit.

Well, that's not entirely true, the part about not feeling inspired, because more than once in the past week or so I've actually awakened in an early-morning daze with blogging on the brain, and in one case with a fully-formed post in my head, but my blogging-midwifery skills are a bit rusty, and I just haven't been able to birth anything that even I want to read, let alone that I'd want to offer the teeming dozen who read this. Okay, I admit that having nothing to say - or lacking the words with which to say it - has never stopped me from writing in the past. Indeed, I even sat down and wrote a long epistle to post here, but it just came out wrong, and I scrapped it altogether.

Anyway, I'll probably write sometime this next week. Or sooner. Or later.

Maybe I'll wax eloquent about my new computer, or perhaps I'll chronicle some achievement of one of my amazing daughters, or maybe I'll discuss the state of American domestic policy, or indeed, tell you whom I am cheering for to win American Idol, or I may pontificate on what I think of Obama, or maybe tell you why I think MiNa made the best album you didn't hear last year, or perhaps I'll go on and on and on about my latest flirtation or (Holiday Romance) with Dark Place™, or maybe I'll record a song in Garageband to share with the teeming dozens, or I might even break down and record my very first podcast for your listening pleasure. Hell, I might even do all of the above, but today I'm feeling worn out, and even though I'm feeling no more down than usual, I'm still just not feeling it.

So instead, I'm reproducing an entry from my first Livejournal, which was friends-only at the time but has long since been converted to My-Eyes-Only. This post was something I wrote in response to five questions posed me by MB, a Twin Cities blogger whom I've never met, but who was nonetheless a good friend/penpal at one point, and was the person responsible for my first Interweb pied a terre.

But that's a story for another time.

Read the rest here.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday Night Video - The Best From This Week's Idol

'Somewhere Over The Rainbow'
Jason Castro


This Explains Alot

From Yahoo:

Why Beautiful Women Marry Less Attractive Men

Jeanna Bryner
LiveScience Staff Writer

Thu Apr 10, 11:25 AM ET

Women seeking a lifelong mate might do well to choose the guy a notch below them in the looks category. New research reveals couples in which the wife is better looking than her husband are more positive and supportive than other match-ups.

The reason, researchers suspect, is that men place great value on beauty, whereas women are more interested in having a supportive husband.

Researchers admit that looks are subjective, but studies show there are some universal standards, including large eyes, "baby face" features, symmetric faces, so-called average faces, and specific waist-hip ratios in men versus women.

Past research has shown that individuals with comparable stunning looks are attracted to each other and once they hook up they report greater relationship satisfaction. These studies, however, are mainly based on new couples, showing that absolute beauty is important in the earliest stages of couple-hood, said lead researcher James McNulty of the University of Tennessee. But the role of physical attractiveness in well-established partnerships, such as marriage, is somewhat of a mystery.

The new study, published in the February issue of the Journal of Family Psychology, reveals looks continue to matter beyond that initial attraction, though in a different way.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Wednesday Blather

From Blogizdat LJ:

I'm starting this early in the day, will add to it throughout, so it may get long. You know the drill. Go get your tea. (And don't make me stop this car, young lady, or you'll know the reason why.)


8:15 AM

I just got LK up and dressed, and put her on the bus to school, where she eats breakfast with the other kids in her class. She's not yet in kindergartten, and only goes half-days, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but will go the full week come fall. She seems to like school - usually - and it seems to have helped her meet her IEP (Individual Education Plan) goals.

AE, for her part, asked politely if she might play on the girls' computer, and is quietly doing so, as I am typing this. I'm rather proud of her today: she got up, made her bed, got dressed, combed her hair, and ate her breakfast, all without any prompting from me. I know, that's nothing impressive, really, but she turns 9 this week, and I've been really taken with the fact that she's growing up so fast.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

I Know, I Know: Warm Milk

Post Secret

From Post Secret:

Read more about the project here.

Reposting An Old Meme - Revised And Expanded

From Blogizdat LJ:

- 01: Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 18, find line 4. Write down what it says:

"looks. Also, in a way, she handled herself well with people."

- 02: Stretch your left arm out as far as you can. What do you touch first?

My laptop screen

- 03: What is the last thing you watched on TV?

The latest episode of 'Nikita,' over the weekend.

- 04: WITHOUT LOOKING, guess what the time is:

11:30 AM

- 05: Now look at the clock; what is the actual time?

11:34 AM

Read the rest here.

Reposting An Old Meme - Revised And Expanded

From Blogizdat LJ

Quiz Thingy

10 Favorites
Favorite Season:

Favorite Sport:
To play: volleyball, to watch: soccer

Favorite Time:

Favorite Color:
Dark blue

Favorite Actor:
Christopher Walken

Favorite Actress:
Jennifer Jason Leigh

Favorite Ice Cream:
Light Vanilla Hagen Daz

Favorite Food:
Vanilla Chocolate Chip Hagen Daz

Favorite Drink:
Cherry Coke

Favorite Place:
Snuggled with my daughters in front of the fireplace

Read the rest here.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Updated And Reposted Two Things Meme

From Blogizdat LJ:

Two parts of your cultural heritage:

1. Scottish
2. English

Two things that scare you:

1. Being abandoned/left/rejected, etc. - It's irrational, yes, and something over which I have no control, but that's probably why I fear it so

2. Colonoscopies - I turned 50 last year, and I have to have one at my next physical. Gaahh!

Read the rest help.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Remembering Mother

I posted this in April 2005, on the occasion of the anniversary of my mother's passing - I miss her still.