Sunday, December 09, 2007

Obama in Iowa

Oprah in Iowa

Some quotes from Oprah's speech for Obama.
"I understand the difference between a book club and free refrigerators. I understand the difference between that and this critical moment in our nation's history."
"We need a president who cares about our relationships with our friends and our enemies."
"It's a dangerous imbalance when we fail to realize that all human hearts are the same."
"these are dangerous times... we are facing a lot of explosive issues..."
there are those who say Barack Obama should wait his turn.... but none of us is god. we don't know what the future holds. so we must respond to the pressures and the fortunes of history when that moment strikes and Iowa i believe that moment is now."

"For the very first time in my life I feel compelled to stand up and speak out for the man who has a new vision for America."

Photos at the Des Moines Register

Friday, November 30, 2007

Surfer Garrett Lisi The Simple Theory of Everything

the next einstein? some people think so. he's trying to tie together all the forces of the universe into a simple theory.
"This is an all-or-nothing kind of theory - it's either going to be exactly right, or spectacularly wrong," says Lisi in New Scientist mag.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Airlines Need New Leaders

except for southwest, which manages to do a decent job of getting to and fro without losing too much luggage and the rest of it, airlines are so horrible that the only way they get away with it is because we don't have any choice. if we're traveling a great distance, we have to fly.
here is one CEO's unintended response to a customer who missed a concert because of a flight:
Mr. Baldanza’s response, which seemed to be intended only for a Spirit Airlines employee but subsequently appeared on multiple travel blogs, said: “Please respond, Pasquale, but we owe him nothing as far as I’m concerned. Let him tell the world how bad we are. He’s never flown us before anyway and will be back when we save him a penny.”
read the whole story in the NYT>
what a creep.
but just think if the airlines brought in people who actually cared and who had some management skills. is that an oxymoron? i don't think so. i think companies can be service minded and have the ability to make a profit and cut costs.
it's been five months and i still wait to hear from united airlines, which i wrote to asking for a mere $50 for parking that i had to pay-- the result of nightmare flight that gives me the willies when i think of it.
if they had been kind and didn't botch EVERYTHING i wouldn't have bothered. one thing i'll never do is fly united airlines ever, unless i absolutely have to.
still, it's not as if we have a great choice. all the rest (we might exclude jetblue even though they did a big boo boo) of the airlines are duds too.
i wonder where they get these people who lead the airlines. what is their background? meatpacking?
the industry needs to rethink service and how might create more business for themselves if they didn't treat everyone like hauled garbage.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Buy Nothing for Christmas

this is a quote from a very poor woman who lives in maine-- freezing maine-- and is struggling to survive:

“Trying to buy Christmas presents, that’s the hardest thing,” said Ms. Harmon, who has a mangled finger from her years of snipping sardine heads in a canning factory.

if you don't have the money or are short on cash, DON'T BUY PRESENTS! whatever you do, don't put anything on your credit cards. it's all a ruse to take money from your pockets and boost the economy, an economy that sooner or later is going to have to figure out another way to flourish.
if you want to feel warm and fuzzy, make something, food or a card. give something with meaning.
be WITH your family, if not in person, then in spirit. tell stories. stop buying warm and fuzzy.
your family and friends do NOT want to see you stretch your dollars to buy gifts.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Crafty Handmade Gifts

here are some sites that have reasonably priced crafty, handmade jewelry and stuff. i'll add more as i find them:
Buy Handmade
Lula Ballou
Gnarled Branch
Spectacled Sparrows
Crafty Ass Chick
Working Thread

Guanni Chocolates
Destination Unknown

Bucktooth Mama
Amy Carpenter

Daisy Janie
Lucky Accessories
Stitch Pixie
ZN Creative Arts
Peggy Li
Invisible Children
Snail Mail Creations
Indie Finds
Cupcake Shop
Indy Collective
One Good Bumblebee
Three Paper Pigs
Sugar Lily
Craft Revolution
The Storque

A Gesture With Meaning

marine matt morgan says forget about sending text messages to the troops. the texts don't get to any soldier but rather to a website that soldiers have to peruse, a website that not many soldiers know about.
instead, take action, he says. write a letter, draw a picture.
this is an excerpt from npr:
As a Marine Corps officer stationed in Baghdad, I've always appreciated
getting letters while deployed abroad.
I recently received a letter from a second-grader named Kaitlyn. She had clearly worked very hard on the letter — there were eraser marks where a lowercase E had nearly gotten the better of her, and the I's were dotted by heavy black circles — but what touched me were Kaitlyn's simple questions.
What do you like to do when you're not fighting?
Do you miss your family? Will you ever come home?
I answered her questions as well as I could, but what Kaitlyn will never know is that the thing I appreciated most about her letter was what was missing from it. She did not have a corporate sponsor or Web site to go to for "more information" — just a little hand-drawn picture of the American flag.
Unfortunately, efforts such as Kaitlyn's are becoming the exception.
You see, if you happen to be watching professional football this Thanksgiving, you will probably notice advertisements promoting the newest way to send your thanks to the troops. Just pull out your cell phone and text a message. Patriotism has never been so easy.
The catch the rest at npr. see kaitlyn's drawing.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

New Musicians Naive to Music History

that's the argument that this nyt columnist makes. that's what steven van zandt, of the bruce springsteen's e street band, said.
i don't think any musician worth his or her salt is oblivious to music history. the argument is bogus. music is more segmented and that's good.
but i do like the van zandt's idea of teaching music history in school. who wouldn't enjoy that class? here's an excerpt:

He (van zandt) argues that if the Rolling Stones came along now, they wouldn’t be able to get mass airtime because there is no broadcast vehicle for all-purpose rock.
And he says that most young musicians don’t know the roots and traditions of
their music. They don’t have broad musical vocabularies to draw on when they are
writing songs.

As a result, much of their music (and here I’m bowdlerizing
his language) stinks.

He describes a musical culture that has lost touch with its common roots. And as he speaks, I hear the echoes of thousands of other interviews concerning dozens of other spheres.

It seems that whatever story I cover, people are anxious about fragmentation and longing for cohesion. This is the driving fear behind the inequality and immigration debates, behind worries of polarization and behind the entire Obama candidacy.
If you go to marketing conferences, you realize we really are in the era of the long tail. In any given industry, companies are dividing the marketplace into narrower and more segmented lifestyle niches.

Van Zandt has a way to counter all this, at least where music is concerned. He’s drawn up a high school music curriculum that tells American history through music. It would introduce students to Muddy Waters, the Mississippi Sheiks, Bob Dylan and the Allman Brothers. He’s trying to use music to motivate and engage students, but most of all, he is trying to establish a canon, a common tradition that reminds students that they are inheritors of a long conversation.

And Van Zandt is doing something that isgoing to be increasingly necessary for foundations and civic groups. We live in an age in which the technological and commercial momentum drives fragmentation. It’s going to be necessary to set up countervailing forces — institutions that span social, class and ethnic lines.
Music used to do this. Not so much anymore.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Affluent Go Democratic

from the wall street journal: wealthy, and typically republican businessmen, are going democrat -- they need to buy the party of the moment.
republicans need to "rebrand?"
i don't think it matters who the president is. it's the non-affluent who have the power to make change, if we're talking majority, but that's not going to happen because everyone aspires to be rich!
from the WSJ:

Scott Reed, who managed Republican Bob Dole's 1996 presidential campaign, sees three overlapping problems for Republicans among business leaders and high-income voters. One is desire to go with the winning side at a time when Democrats have captured Congress; a second is loss of confidence in the Bush administration's competence; and a third is "a sense that the leadership of the Republican Party is too beholden to a small group of self-appointed social conservative leaders."

In 2008, Mr. Reed adds, "Republicans have to go back to the basics and use the new presidential nominee to rebrand the entire party."

Death Penalty: Incentive or Revenge?

economists say the death penalty serves as an incentive to not kill. i don't think anyone who is about to kill another human being, or considering whacking somebody, sits down and says, well, if i do this i could get the death penalty. what does economics have to do with sociology or psychology?
the death penalty doesn't deter, it's revenge, an eye for an eye. plain and simple. it also means that at least one innocent person will wrongly be on death row because as we know, innocent people have already been put to death.
this from the NYT:
To economists, it is obvious that if the cost of an activity rises, the amount of the activity will drop.

“To say anything else is to brand yourself an imbecile,” said Professor Wolfers, an author of the Stanford Law Review article criticizing the death penalty studies. To many economists, then, it follows inexorably that there will be fewer murders as the likelihood of execution rises.

“I am definitely against the death penalty on lots of different grounds,” said Joanna Shepherd, a law professor at Emory with a doctorate in economics who wrote or contributed to several studies. “But I do believe that people respond to incentives.”
But not everyone agrees that potential murderers know enough or can think clearly
enough to make rational calculations. And the chances of being caught, convicted, sentenced to death and executed are in any event quite remote. Only about one in 300 homicides results in an execution.

“I honestly think it’s a distraction,” Professor Wolfers said. “The debate here is over whether we kill 60 guys or not. The food stamps program is much more important.”

Friday, November 16, 2007

UNLV Redeemed

so it wasn't a UNLV student asking a stupid question about clinton's preference for diamonds or pearls, it was CNN being stupid. turns out the student is really smart and wanted to ask a yucca mountain question.
this by way of

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Women's Murder Club

my new bestest show.
can't wait for medium
so tired of grey's anatomy. yech.
heroes still good.

Monday, November 05, 2007

U.S. Headed for Financial Ruins

you only need to look as far as your latest charge on that credit card. here's a great explainer.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Master War Planners

they're at work bringing us war for the next 100 years. this from the Asia Times:
Masters of war plan for next 100 years
By Nick Turse
Duane Schattle doesn't mince words. "The cities are the problem," he says. A retired marine infantry lieutenant colonel who worked on urban warfare issues at the Pentagon in the late 1990s, he now serves as director of the Joint Urban Operations Office at US Joint Forces Command. He sees the war in the streets of Iraq's cities as the prototype for tomorrow's battlespace. "This is the next fight," he warns. "The future of warfare is what we see now." He isn't alone. "We think urban is the future," says James Lasswell, a retired colonel who now heads the Office of Science and Technology at the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory. "Everything worth fighting for is in the urban environment." And Wayne Michael Hall, a retired army brigadier general and the senior intelligence advisor in Schattle's operation, has a similar assessment, "We will be fighting in urban terrain for the next hundred years." Last month, in a hotel nestled behind a medical complex in Washington, DC, Schattle, Lasswell, and Hall, along with Pentagon power-brokers, active-duty and retired US military personnel, foreign coalition partners, representatives of big and small defense contractors, and academics who support their work gathered for a "Joint Urban Operations, 2007" conference. Some had served in Iraq or Afghanistan; others were involved in designing strategy, tactics, and concepts, or in creating new weaponry and equipment, for the urban wars in those countries. And here, in this hotel conference center, they're talking about military technologies of a sort you've only seen in James Cameron's 2000-2002 television series, Dark Angel. I'm the oddity in this room of largely besuited defense contractors, military retirees, and camouflage-fatigue-clad military men at a conference focused on strategies for battling it out in the labyrinthine warrens of what urbanologist Mike Davis calls "the planet of slums". The hulking guy who plops down next to me as the meeting begins is a caricature of just the attendee you might imagine would be at such a meeting. "I sell guns," he says right off. Over the course of the conference, this representative of one of the world's best known weapons manufacturers will suggest that members of the media be shot to avoid bad press and he'll call a local tour guide he met in Vietnam a "bastard" for explaining just how his people thwarted US efforts to kill them. But he's an exception. Almost everyone else seems to be a master of serene anodyne-speak. Even the camo-clad guys seem somehow more academic than warlike. In his tour de force book Planet of Slums, Davis observes, "The Pentagon's best minds have dared to venture where most United Nations, World Bank or Department of State types fear to go ˇ­ [T]hey now assert that the ˇ®feral, failed cities' of the Third World - especially their slum outskirts - will be the distinctive battlespace of the 21st century." Pentagon war-fighting doctrine, he notes, "is being reshaped accordingly to support a low-intensity world war of unlimited duration against criminalized segments of the urban poor". But the mostly male conference-goers planning for a multi-generational struggle against the global South's slums aren't a gang of urban warfare cowboys talking non-stop death and destruction; and they don't look particularly bellicose either, as they munch on chocolate-chip cookies during our afternoon snack breaks in a room where cold cuts and brochures for the Rapid Wall Breaching Kit - which allows users to blast a man-sized hole in the side of any building - are carefully laid out on the tables. Instead, these mild-mannered men speak about combat restraint, "less-than-lethal weaponry", precision targeting, and (harking back to the Vietnam War) "winning hearts and minds". The men of urban warfareTake Russell W Glenn, a thin, bespectacled Rand Senior Policy Researcher with a PhD who looks for all the world like some bookish college professor Hollywood dreamed up. You'd never guess he went to the army's airborne, ranger, and pathfinder schools and is a veteran of Operation Desert Storm. You'd also never suspect that he might be the most prolific planner for the Pentagon's century-long slum fight of tomorrow. In Planet of Slums, Davis notes that the Rand Corporation, a non-profit think-tank established by the US Air Force in 1948, has been a key player in pioneering the conceptual framework that has led to the current generation of what's called, in the jargon of this meeting, "urban operations", or UO. Glenn, it so happens, is their main man in the field. He travels the planet studying counterinsurgency warfare. Of late, he's been to the Solomon Islands, where an island rebellion occurred in the late 1990s, the Philippines, where an insurgency has been raging for decades (if not since the US occupation at the dawn of the 20th century), and, of course, Iraq. He's co-authored well over 20 UO studies for Rand including, most recently, "People Make the City: Joint Urban Operations Observations and Insights from Afghanistan and Iraq" (publicly available in 86-page executive summary form) and the still-classified "A Tale of Three Cities: Analyzing Joint Urban Operations with a Focus on Fallujah, Al Amara, and Mosul". On the technological front, the Pentagon's blue-skies research outfit, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), sent its grandfatherly-looking deputy director, Robert F Leheny, to talk about such UO-oriented technology as the latest in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and sense-through-walls technologies that allow troops to see people and objects inside buildings. While Leheny noted that 63% of DARPA's US$3 billion yearly budget ($600 million of it dedicated to UO technologies in the coming years) is funneled to industry partners, DARPA is only a part of the story when it comes to promoting corporate assistance in this 100-year-war growth area. The largest contractors in the military-corporate complex are already hard at work helping the Pentagon prepare for future urban occupations. Raytheon, L-3 Communications, and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) - the 5th, 7th, and 10th largest Pentagon contractors last year, taking in a combined $18.4-plus billion from the Department of Defense - have all signed Cooperative Research and Development Agreements with the US Joint Forces Command, according to Berry "Dan" Fox, the Deputy Director of Science and Technology at its Joint Urban Operations Office. As you might imagine, smaller contractors are eager to climb aboard the urban warfare gravy train. At the conference, Lite Machines Corporation was a good example of this. It was vigorously marketing a hand-launched, low-flying UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) so light that it resembled nothing more than a large, plastic toy water rocket with miniature helicopter rotors. The company envisions a profitably privacy-free future in which urban zones are besieged by "swarms" of such small UAVs that not only peek into city windows, but even invade homes. According to a company spokesman, "You could really blanket a ground area with as many UAVs as you want ... penetrate structures, see through a window or even break a window," in order to fly inside a house or apartment and look around. DARPA'S Leheny also extolled hovering UAVs, specifically the positively green-sounding Organic Micro Air Vehicle which brings to mind the "spinners" in Blade Runner or, even earlier in blow-your-mind futuristic movie history, V.I.N.CENT from Disney's The Black Hole. This drone, Leheny noted, has "perch and stare" capabilities that allow it to lie in wait for hours before fixing on a target and guiding in extended-line-of-sight or beyond-line-of-sight weapons. He also described in detail another DARPA-pioneered unmanned aerial vehicle, the WASP - a tiny, silent drone that spies on the sly and can be carried in a soldier's pack. Leheny noted that there are now "a couple hundred of these flying in Iraq". In addition to endless chatter about the devastated "urban canyons" of Iraq and Afghanistan, the specters of past battleground cities - some of them, anyway - were clearly on many minds. There were constant references to urban battle zones of history like Stalingrad and Grozny or such American examples as Manila in 1945 and Panama City in 1989. Curiously neglected, however, were the flattened cities of Germany and Japan in World War II, not to speak of the bombed-out cities of Korea and Vietnam. Perhaps the Korean and Vietnam Wars weren't on the agenda because "restraint" and "precision" were such watchwords of the meeting. No one seemed particularly eager to discuss the destruction visited on the Iraqi city of read the rest

Sunday, October 07, 2007

"War on Terror" fuels evil doers

well, yeah. it's nice that the following story puts "war on terror" in quotes. what a silly little phrase it is.

LONDON (Reuters) - Six years after the September 11 attacks in the United States, the "war on terror" is failing and instead fuelling an increase in support for extremist Islamist movements, a British think-tank said on Monday. A report by the Oxford Research Group (ORG) said a "fundamental re-think is required" if the global terrorist network is to be rendered ineffective.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Eat, Pray, Love

love this book. author Liz Gilbert will be on Oprah tomorrow.
it's a true account of Elizabeth's journey through India, Italy, Indonesia and herself. Italy is the eating. India is for the praying and Indonesia is for love.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Reading Harry Potter All Over

who's reading Harry Potter from book one again?
i am.
it is a brilliant book series.
A&E biography J.K. Rowling:

Congrats to the Humans

Dolphin species a goner, thanks to you know who:

Charles Q. ChoiSpecial to LiveScienceLiveScience.comWed
Aug 8, 5:00 PM ET
The Yangtze River dolphin is now almost certainly extinct,
making it the first dolphin that humans drove to extinction, scientists have now
concluded after an intense search for the endangered species.
The loss also
represents the first global extinction of megafauna—any creature larger than
about 200 pounds (100 kilograms)—for more than 50 years, since the disappearance
of the Caribbean monk seal (Monachus tropicalis).
The Yangtze River dolphin
or baiji (Lipotes vexillifer) of China has long been recognized as one of the
world's most rare and threatened mammal species.
"It's a relic species, more
than 20 million years old, that persisted through the most amazing kinds of
changes in the planet," said marine biologist Barbara Taylor at the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service. "It's been here
longer than the Andes Mountains have been on Earth."
In 1999, the surviving
baiji population was estimated to be as low as just 13 dolphins, compared to 400
known baiji in 1981. The last confirmed glimpse of a baiji was documented by a
photo taken in 2002, although unverified sightings were reported as recently as
2006. read the rest here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Super Rich Endangered Species

out of the mouth of warren buffett:
The tax code favors the superrich. In response to a question about excess liquidity, Buffett said the U.S. government has imposed comparatively low tax rates on investors making money through capital gains and dividends. "We have become the favored class," he said. "Apparently Washington has decided we are an endangered species."

Friday, July 13, 2007

Ataxia II

man, have i been out of the loop.
i haven't even got the latest JF CD. but i aim to get it real soon. if you want Ataxia II, here tis.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Harold Dahl's UFOs

They're baaaack.
remnants from the plane chasing apparent ufos in 1947 have been discovered.
from the seattle post In
artifacts and more mystery
bring the X-Files back! (it's in the works)
frank spotnitz says so

Thursday, April 05, 2007

John Frusciante Rant

i lifted this from Stereogum
April 2, 2007
John tells off some booers. i hate when people boo the opening acts. just sit there and be quiet if you don't like it. i think john needs to bring mickey along on his solo tours. i don't think fans of john's solo career would boo. they're much too intelligent for that.

From: John
To: Gayle Fine
Sent: Mar 13, 2007 5:43 PM

To the Oklahoma audience,
I feel love for everyone who supports my band and our music. I play music to spread light around the world and those who are open to the light we spread are as much a part of our music as we are.

To the few of you who booed my friend Mickey Avalon, I must say that I agree with Flea that you were also booing my band and yourselves.

Because in booing another man, in the first place, you show no regard for humanity. And you show that you have no concept of the amount of courage it takes to open up in front of anybody, much less 10,000 people.

Because anyone who knows what it feels like to open up to even one person would never attempt to abuse a person who was doing so in front of a crowd. I happen to feel that Mickey is a great rapper, a great performer, and a natural born star.

Though all my friends agree with me on this, it is obviously a matter of opinion, as with any artist, and I certainly don't expect every member of my bands audience to agree with me, especially with such limited exposure to him. But imagine if you were 10 years old and you spent a year putting a play together, and charged 50 cents and you and your friends really decked the place out and worked hard to make it fun to come to, and you knew a five year old dancer who was great and asked her to dance before the play. If some people came and booed her, would you want to perform for them? Would that kind of abuse be what you had in mind when you were working so hard to create an environment where people could have fun, party and be entertained? Anybody who has the guts to get on stage and bear themselves deserves to be respected for having courage. Anyone watching is free to leave or go to the lobby. But by staying, though you don't like it, and preferring to boo rather than leave, you are showing that you derive pleasure from attempting to hurt others, and that is always the result of dissatisfaction with yourself. Anyone who tries to make others feel bad, in an attempt to feel good themselves, will never feel true happiness as long as they do so. Not to mention, in the case of a great man such as Mickey Avalon, you only make him stronger, because he has actual self-belief, something which cannot be faked. And you who booed gave him the chance to demonstrate that he has that admirable quality. By the way, the Chili Peppers got booed opening for people in the early days, as have many of the all-time greats. Standing up to that shit is part of getting stronger when someone knows they are good, and it is just taking the world longer to catch on. In this sense I thank you for booing because you have served as a steppingstone for a strong performer to get even stronger.

And I also realize that those of you who booed have probably been spoken down to consistently by your parents, your teachers, your bosses, your older siblings, older kids, etc.I know that shit is frustrating and it probably feels good to take it out on someone who has confidence you wish you had. But the truth is we are all here together. One of us is here because all of us are here. If you don't respect other peoples feelings you can't expect to ever have others respect your feelings. As long as you attempt to humiliate someone who is opening up to you, you will never have the courage to truly open up to others.

I knew there was a chance that Mickey would get booed by those of you who resent what isn't familiar, and I also knew that he is of strong enough character to stand up to it, and perform as great as he does in a club in L.A. where people absolutely love and adore him. There is very little I admire more than that ability, which last night he clearly showed he has. A strong sense of self is what we all want, and so we should respect those who have it. Whether we like what they are doing is beside the point. If I see a performer who I think is terrible, my heart bleeds for them. The thought of trying to humiliate them is unthinkable.

I am very grateful to be able to share the music that comes through me and my band with each and every person who attends our shows. It means a great deal to me. But when I see that some members of my audience enjoy hurting others, I must speak up and say what I feel is right. If you are using the arena we all rented together to attempt to hurt a mans feelings, I must use the microphone to get across that that is not why
we are gathered there.

Thank you to all of you, including you who booed, and I honestly hope you got something out of the experience. I hope you who booed someday have the beginnings of true confidence, whereby you derive no pleasure from humiliating others, and can then have the courage to open up to the world and be yourself unashamedly.

What we share with music is a celebration of the infinite possibilites the universe has to offer. I love all who share in this celebration with us. I recommend that you use the experience to inspire you to be yourself, and to let it all hang out. What the fuck do you think is so cool about Flea and Anthony in the first place? Or Jimi Hendrix or David Bowie? Or Little Richard? They waved their freak flag high! We should all follow their lead! Have respect for those who do this(whether they're famous or not)and you will develop the courage to do this yourself. Everyone of you is a star. Its just hiding inside of some of you. That part of you will come out if you treat others as you would like to be treated, and when you can't find it in yourself to do so, if you just leave others alone.

All of you who we play to have given me so much and I write this in hopes that I can give help to some of you(who were clearly the minority) where you clearly showed yourself to be in need of help. If people try to push you down, don't conform to their bullshit. Stand up to it, with courage. Make 'em threaten you with death before you even consider backing down. Be how you want to be. Fuck'em. Then you will develop inner character whereby you would always support those who have the guts to be themselves openly, for you would know that you and they are on the same team. We are actually all on the same team but some of us seem to know that and others do not. Thanks especially to the majority of you, who opened up to MA.I know he's different. It always takes a second for us to comprehend things that are unfamiliar.

Lots of love to all of you. That's what this is all about.

John Frusciante

Chili Peppers Play Hullabaloo

for flea's Silverlake Conservatory.pricey, though, tix start at $250. consider it a donation.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Pity the Rich

for they are imbecils. i didn't say that. it was spouted by a NYT writer today:
The bottom line: Without power, people tend to play it safe. Given power, even you and I would soon end up living large and acting like idiots. So pity the rich — and protect yourself."

i liked the story and the theory -- that the rich are more powerful, therefore more daring, greedy and obnoxious, more apt to say something stupid. it's something to think about. or not.
after all if you don't really need money what the heck.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Community College Beats Harvard at Chess

If you go to Harvard or another prestige school, it doesn't mean you're smarter, just richer. Here's a great story about Community College students beating the best of the prestige school students at the game of chess.

By SARAH LARIMER, Associated Press Writer
Thu Mar 22, 7:33 AM ET

MIAMI - Don't underestimate the grocery store deli worker, the security alarm salesman or the 34-year-old computer science student who anchor the Miami Dade College chess team. The community college undergrads have already faced Yale, Harvard, Dartmouth, Northwestern and beaten them all.

By finishing fourth in that Pan American Intercollegiate Chess Tournament, Miami Dade qualified for this weekend's finals of collegiate chess, facing powerhouses University of Texas-Dallas, Duke University and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

"They're formidable players," said Jim Stallings, University of Texas-Dallas' director for chess and education. "You can't just take anybody for granted in this tournament, because they are the top four U.S. teams."

Miami Dade, with 160,000 students, may have few admission requirements, but it has made the Final Four five consecutive years. It is seeking its first title, after finishing third in each previous try. read the rest

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Bank of the Universe is Now Open!

that's the message i received from those misguided folks at "the secret."
i signed up to get emails to see what they would send and sure enough, it's how to get rich quick. haven't we had enough of that?

here's the rest of the text:
It has unlimited abundance, available to you right now!

Actually it has never NOT been open,
but only a few throughout the history of mankind knew of the unlimited abundance that was theirs for the asking.

Click the image link at the bottom of this Scrolls to receive your blank check from the Bank of The Universe for you.

You must believe that you can receive it,
so take small steps with the amounts,
if that feels more believable to you.

Place the check in a prominent position
where you will see it every day!

Every time you look at the check,
that you have the money

The Universe inspires people, circumstances and events, to deliver the amount to you, but don't ever be mistaken into believing it came from them.

It is always the Universe, who moves through people, circumstances and events, to deliver it to you.

If YOU don't cancel your check, The Bank of the Universe must deliver the money to you!

Any thoughts, words, or actions of "lack", or "not enough"... are the only things that cancel your check.

Here's the great thing though... if you are thinking, acting or speaking words that could cancel your check, the Universe immediately sends you an alert! The alert is instantaneously transmitted direct to you, as bad feelings!!! The moment you receive the alert, change your thinking immediately!

By the way, it is not your job to work out HOW the Universe will bring it to you, so hands off telling the Universe what to do. Just ask, believe you have received it, and you WILL receive.

This wonderful process was inspired by a 'million dollar' true story account in the film, The Secret.

The story was told by one of the great master teachers
of The Secret, Jack Canfield.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Secret Debunked

bent on helping people refrain from drinking the kool-aid, i offer more critical thinking on "the secret," which says that through the "law of attraction" you can get a spot on Oprah, win the lottery and have or be anything that you truly believe.

that's a mighty powerful secret. i heard on the radio this morning about a man, imprisoned for 16 years, who was freed recently after DNA evidence proved he was innocent. i wondered, how does the "law of attraction" apply there?

did he attract a 16 year prison sentence to his life? or did something horrendous happen to an innocent man?

here's what they're saying in creator's rhonda byrne's australia, where she's known as a commercial producer.
here's what newsweek has to say:
But that's not what "The Secret" is saying. Its explicit claim is that you can manipulate objective physical reality—the numbers in a lottery drawing, the actions of other people who may not even know you exist—through your thoughts and feelings. In the words of "author and personal empowerment advocate" Lisa Nichols: "When you think of the things you want, and you focus on them with all of your intention, then the law of attraction will give you exactly what you want, every time." Every time! Byrne emphasizes that this is a law inherent in "the universe," an inexhaustible storehouse of goodies from which you can command whatever you desire from the comfort of your own living room by following three simple steps: Ask, Believe, Receive.

here are a few other things to think about.
bad things always happens to good people. think about the bad things in your life. did you attract that? in some cases perhaps, but sometimes the world just works that way. there are other "universal laws" at work, not just the "law of attraction."

what about the child who is abused by his parent? is he or she "attracting" that punishment? or doesn't the "law of attraction" work on children?

if you believe in karma, what about it? what if you owe a karmic debt?

what about slavery? did African slaves attract their fate? or didn't the "law of attraction" work that long ago? does the "law of attraction" just work on middle class people with middle class desires?

what about the bad person who always is lucky or "successful?"

does the universe really want everyone to win the lottery because if people really believe this, that's what they'd wish for.

what about the child born with any number of physical ailments? did he or she attract that somehow? can they wish it away?

if i wish and believe harm on another person, will the "law of attraction" work? after all, i'm focusing my thoughts.

the effect of "the secret" could be a bunch of selfish people on a mission to get what they want -- houses, cars, money.

is there an altruistic component to "the secret?" wouldn't the "universe" want that? no, there is not and apparently no. anyone, good intentions or bad, can get what they want if they believe. that's mostly what makes "the secret" hooey.

sure, think good thoughts. but it's more important to do good things for other people. that's not a secret.

salon's take

200 Thread Count Sheets

now i understand the sheets.

Monday, February 26, 2007

H.M. and Memories

"Once they find out about me, it helps them to help other people." Henry M. on NPR

that from H.M., a man who has lost his short-term memory due to a lifesaving operation that stopped him from having seizures. this has helped neuroscientists figure out that memory takes up more space in the brain than previously thought.
Henry's current status:

As for Henry's current status, he lives in a nursing home in Hartford and still travels occasionally to MIT for memory testing. He enjoys doing crossword puzzles and watching detective shows on television. His life is peaceful, if not completely happy. He worries often that he has done something wrong, and it is not possible for him to make any real friends since he cannot remember a person from ten minutes to the next. At times, he seems to have a sense of humor about his condition, as in the following anecdote taken from his biography, Memory's Ghost: The Strange Tale of Mr. M. and the Nature of Memory, by Philip Hilts:

When walking down the corridor at M.I.T. with Henry, Dr. Suzanne Corkin made the usual kind of small talk. "Do you know where you are, Henry?"

Henry grinned. "Why, of course. I'm at M.I.T.!"

Dr. Corkin was a bit surprised. "How do you know that?"

Henry laughed. He pointed to a student nearby with a large M.I.T. emblazoned on his sweatshirt. "Got ya that time!" Henry said.

Mainly, though, he leads a life of quiet confusion, never knowing exactly how old he is (he guesses maybe thirty and is always surprised by his reflection in the mirror) and reliving his grief over the death of his mother every time he hears about it. Though he does not recall his operation, he knows that there is something wrong with his memory and has adopted a philosophical stance on his problems: "It does get me upset, but I always say to myself, what is to be is to be. That's the way I always figure it now."

memory studies at
montreal neurological institute
american academy of neurology

Mysteries of the Mind

the top 10 mysteries of the mind at
oh heck, there are all sorts of mysteries at livescience.
will california ever fall in the ocean? answer

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Secret About the Secret

backstabbing, lying, but hey, at least Rhonda Byrne, maker of the Secret DVD followed her intentions -- to get rich. that's the story in today's NYT. the Secret teaches thoughts are things and that you can think your way into parking spots and restaurant tables and millions of dollars. it was, after all, "the science of getting rich" that prompted rhonda to think of "the law of attraction." or was it someone elses idea she stole? (read the story)

it is interesting to note that during the interview with the NYT, rhonda wore a
"glittering silver circle affixed with false-eyelash glue to the center of her forehead."
she's rich now, loaded. she can do foolish things like that. but good things happen to bad people.

of course, the video doesn't say anything about thinking your way into the soup kitchen, or starting a community foundation or helping out people who don't have as much as you. it's all about how to get things for you, how to get richer, more successful, more things, a parking spot. that's just icky. so many drank the kool-aid. when did people stop thinking critically and how can we get more people to do so?

it's a money making venture. a bunch of hoo ha. and oprah lifted the secret by hosting the "secret teachers" on her show. One of them even included in her visionary collage words about herself being on oprah. well, what person who has something to sell doesn't want to be on oprah. we'll probably get barak obama for a president, thanks to her backing. and thankfully, that will be a good thing. go barak!

but if oprah does her homework (she may read the NYT story because she says she reads it), she may lash out the way she did with james frey. her show has sort of become like QVC. i still love oprah. i think her producers need to be more discerning. there are so many people who are clamoring to be on her show. they need to tighten up their criteria, do more background work.

from the NYT. how sick is this?:

Last Sunday evening the Hickses relaxed in their $1.4 million luxury bus
parked outside the Rancho Cordova Marriott near Sacramento, where they had just
finished a six-hour workshop on the law of attraction in the hotel ballroom.
Three hundred people had paid $195 each to hear Ms. Hicks, a former secretary,
summon otherworldly spirits she says speak through her. The spirits, who
collectively use the name Abraham, answered participants’ questions.
“I don’t
have a lover yet,” one woman said.
Abraham, whose speaking voice is rounder,
quicker and more computerlike than Ms. Hicks’s natural voice, replied by
repeating the woman’s phrase roughly 20 times and then explained it contained
its own negativity, which was leaving the woman paddling upstream on the river
of life.
The audience applauded.

here's some of the hush, hush bickering going on behind the scenes:
The Hickses spend most of the year traveling the country, leading workshops based on the teachings they say Abraham has given them. They record the workshops and have 10,000 subscribers, who pay up to $50 a month for CDs and DVDs of Abraham’s wisdom.

When Ms. Byrne asked Ms. Hicks to appear in “The Secret,” as the most prominent interpreter of the law of attraction, she agreed to give the Hickses approval over much of the movie, according to a contract. But when the couple saw the first cut, they were livid. Ms. Hicks’s voice, chaneling Abraham, was used as narration throughout the film, but her face was never shown.

After negotiation, Ms. Hicks’s image was edited into the film and it was released, ultimately netting the Hickses $500,000 from sales, Ms. Hicks said. But the couple were unhappy with the distribution. They said they understood it would be shown first on Australian television, but instead it was being sold as an Internet download and later as a DVD.

Cynthia Black, the president of Beyond Words Publishing, a New Age imprint, who is both a longtime friend of the Hickses and the publisher of Ms. Byrne’s book version of “The Secret,” tried to broker a peace. She enlisted the help of Jack Canfield, the author of “Chicken Soup for the Soul,” one of the “transformational experts” who appears in “The Secret” (and whose nephew Zach Canfield says he used the law of attraction to score a date with the hip-hop singer Lady Sovereign). But Mr. Canfield was also unable to bring the parties together.

The Hickses consulted their lawyer, and Ms. Byrne in turn demanded changes to the contract, both sides said. No agreement could be reached. Ms. Byrne moved forward with a second version of “The Secret” without the Hickses. Advised by their lawyer to sue, the Hickses said they declined because litigation would take energy from their own pursuit of the law of attraction. “We don’t sue,” said Mr. Hicks, a former circus acrobat and Amway distributor.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Mummified Man Watches TV

a sign of a sad and lonely world.

Dalai Lama's Presidential Pick

Who is the Dalia Lama supporting in the 2008 race? ohio congressman Dennis Kucinich. The Dalai Lama's listed as a "friend" on Kucinich's myspace. the Tibetan peace monk has a myspace, too. he has 2,665 friends.

barak obama has a lot of friends at his myspace -- 42,706, more that hillary clinton -- 23,378 friends.

Monday, February 12, 2007

John Frusciante Rolling Stone

john is teased on the front cover of the rolling stone issue -- "the new guitar gods" -- as "the visionary."

yeah, we know.

but inside is a Q&A with John but it doesn't get into his work outside the chili peppers. i don't get it. how can you talk about john without talking about his solo work or his collaborations with other musicians?

for those of you missing the hair, here it is! here's a short accompanying video.

invisible-movement has the grammy acceptance speech

Chili Peppers at the Grammys

Woo Hoo! could've been a better choice of song, something more upbeat. and could've done without the snow. and was that chad on the drums for the dixie chicks?
chad's got to be one of the top five drummers in the world. flea his usual fleaness.
loved john frusciante's speaking part. he seemed truly excited and nervous. it's nice to see them loving their jobs so much. of course, they picked up best rock album for stadium arcadium. they picked up three other awards.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Secret

update: if you didn't think The Secret was a bit scammy, take a look at my spammy in the comments.

did you catch The Secret on oprah?

i liked the concept, thoughts are things and what you think is what you get. of course, the host of people who were guests on the show and "teachers" were pitching The Secret DVD and book. it was sort of like an infomercial -- when you learn "the secret" everything is better, your sex life, your financial status and your career!

i thought about buying the $30 DVD but did my research. here's how you know something is bogus -- when it's tied to money. what are they selling? i checked out the web sites of the people behind the show and each site tells you how to get rich! how to be successful! every single one of them is a self help person selling their wares.

also, the woman who started "the secret" is a reality show maven. in australia, where she's from, she's produced such reality show goodness as Australians Behaving Badly, Marry Me. her company also produced Worlds Greatest Commercials.

how about a DVD on how to serve others, you know, how to work in a soup kitchen or volunteer? that would be a silly DVD to make cause no one would buy it. but people are definitely interested in buying a DVD that tells them how to be wealthy and powerful and successful.

the universe makes everything abundant, they say. there isn't a shortage of anything, especially not money, they contend. money and wealth are the focus. if you aren't "successful" then you don't have money and you don't know "the secret" and too bad for you.

i believe that thoughts are energy. no doubt. but there are other laws in the universe, too. the laws of karma. and there are plenty more thoughts running around than just your own thoughts. in that case, there is an abundance of negative energy everywhere (given the state of the world), so how do your own thoughts scientifically penetrate all that negative energy? what other people do affects us, sorry to say.

save your money. these people aren't any better than you and they certainly don't know more than you.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Do Not Feed The Homeless Take 2

first it was vegas and it's rally against the homeless, now it's orlando. what is wrong with people? i think all social ills boil down to one thing: some group always thinks they're better than another. i suppose it's primitive means of survival. there's little empathy and not much enlightenment going on these days. from the AP:
Orlando, population 200,000, works hard to conjure the image of a true-life Pleasantville: a safe, welcoming place where visitors can soak up year-round sunshine and devour choreographed experiences at palm-ringed theme parks. But its spotless sidewalks, sparkling lakes and twinkling skyline belie a real city with real maladies — most notably, a surging homeless population that authorities are struggling to control.

After a law that banned panhandling was struck down by the courts, the city tried to discourage aggressive beggars by obliging them to carry ID cards, and later by confining them to 3-by-15-foot "panhandling zones" painted in blue on sidewalks downtown.

Despite these laws, the number of people living on the streets of the Orlando metro area swelled, from roughly 5,000 in 1999 to an estimated 8,500 today, dwarfing the city's shelter capacity for 2,000 people.

So in July, the city commission tried a "supply-side" approach: It passed an ordinance regulating the feeding of large groups of people in Orlando's downtown parks.

Those who wished to feed more than 25 hungry individuals at parks within a 2-mile radius of City Hall could do so, but only if they obtained a "Large Group Feeding Permit" from the parks department — and no one would be granted more than two feeding permits a year.

No exceptions.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Inequality is Real

"The fact is that income inequality is real. It has been rising for more than 25 years." that quote comes out of the mouth of our president. wow. he noticed. i'm surprised. but how long did it take him to speak up.
that quote is from a reuters story today. the president talks about the lavish salaries and perks of CEOs and how that might affect the stockmarket. he says government can't dampen overperked business people. it's up to the companies.
can you imagine, conscious guided execs could still have a comfortable life, be compensated well and at the same time, let the folks toward the bottom of the earnings chain make more money. what a concept. what are the chances?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Long Bets

a story in the NYT today asks: can humanity survive? the optimistic writer of the story says yes and he's made a bet on that humans will live past 2100. i would bet not. a story about longbets was written a bit ago in Science & Technology mag.

longbets is a web site funded by amazon's jeff bezos, who's on his own mission (to space) and it's kept by Martin Rees, a cosmologist at Cambridge.
anyone can go there to make a "long bet." it's interesting to see who's betting and what they're betting. Like Vint Cerf, the Internet guru who bets:
"By 2010 more than 50 percent of books sold worldwide will be printed on demand at the point of sale in the form of library-quality paperbacks."
and here's one of his other bets:
"By 2010 more than 50 percent of books worldwide will be read on digital devices rather than in print form."

in addition to predicting the end of human kind, Rees bets this:
"By 2020, bioterror or bioerror will lead to one million casualties in a single event."

here's another interesting prediction:
"The People's Republic of China will successfuly place a living human on the surface of Mars before any other nation."
most of the predictions are pessimistic. some are funny:
"As of March 7th, 2005, Osama bin Laden is dead."
here's a fun one:
"Evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence within the solar system will be confirmed before evidence from several light-years away."

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Ataxia II March 6

record label says March 20. john's web site says March 6. thanks to a visitor for pointing that out. march is good.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Barack Obama on Health Care

people say they don't know what Mr. Obama stands for. i say read his books, visit his web site.
here's a portion of his BRILLIANT speech made today:
Well we can't afford another disappointing charade in 2008. It's not only
tiresome, it's wrong. Wrong when businesses have to layoff one employee because
they can't afford the health care of another. Wrong when a parent cannot take a
sick child to the doctor because they cannot afford the bill that comes with it.
Wrong when 46 million Americans have no health care at all. In a country that
spends more on health care than any other nation on Earth, it's just wrong. And
yet, in recent years, what's caught the attention of those who haven't always
been in favor of reform is the realization that this crisis isn't just morally
offensive, it's economically untenable. For years, the can't-do crowd has scared
the American people into believing that universal health care would mean
socialized medicine and burdensome taxes - that we should just stay out of the
way and tinker at the margins. You know the statistics. Family premiums are up
by nearly 87% over the last five years, growing five times faster than workers'
wages. Deductibles are up 50%. Co-payments for care and prescriptions are
through the roof. Nearly 11 million Americans who are already insured spent more
than a quarter of their salary on health care last year. And over half of all
family bankruptcies today are caused by medical bills.But they say it's too
costly to act. Almost half of all small businesses no longer offer health care
to their workers, and so many others have responded to rising costs by laying
off workers or shutting their doors for good. Some of the biggest corporations
in America, giants of industry like GM and Ford, are watching foreign
competitors based in countries with universal health care run circles around
them, with a GM car containing twice as much health care cost as a Japanese car.
But they say it's too risky to act. They tell us it's too expensive to cover the
uninsured, but they don't mention that every time an American without health
insurance walks into an emergency room, we pay even more. Our family's premiums
are $922 higher because of the cost of care for the uninsured. We pay $15
billion more in taxes because of the cost of care for the uninsured. And it's
trapped us in a vicious cycle. As the uninsured cause premiums to rise, more
employers drop coverage. As more employers drop coverage, more people become
uninsured, and premiums rise even further. But the skeptics tell us that reform
is too costly, too risky, too impossible for America. Well the skeptics must be
living somewhere else. Because when you see what the health care crisis is doing
to our families, to our economy, to our country, you realize that caution is
what's costly. Inaction is what's risky. Doing nothing is what's impossible when
it comes to health care in America.It's time to act. This isn't a problem of
money, this is a problem of will. A failure of leadership. We already spend $2.2
trillion a year on health care in this country. My colleague, Senator Ron Wyden,
who's recently developed a bold new health care plan of his own, tells it this
way: For the money Americans spent on health care last year, we could have hired
a group of skilled physicians, paid each one of them $200,000 to care for just
seven families, and guaranteed every single American quality, affordable health
care. So where's all that money going? We know that a quarter of it - one out of
every four health care dollars - is spent on non-medical costs; mostly bills and
paperwork. And we also know that this is completely unnecessary. Almost every
other industry in the world has saved billions on these administrative costs by
doing it all online. Every transaction you make at a bank now costs them less
than a penny. Even at the Veterans Administration, where it used to cost nine
dollars to pull up your medical record, new technology means you can call up the
same record on the internet for next to nothing.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Chili Peppers Headline 07 Coachella

photo, Janes page

Little Miss Sunshine

abigail breslin, the 10-year old who played Olive in Little Miss Sunshine, can't wait to go to disneyland. NPR interviewed her today on her supporting actress oscar nomination and asked her what is she most looking forward to? Disneyland, where her parents are taking her following the oscars, or the oscars?

"both, i think," was her response, but she seemed to really want to say disneyland! disneyland! disneyland! now there's a reality check for these movie folks who think they've been appointed to god's court. it's an award. a career achievment for a movie.

with that, Little Miss Sunshine is a must see if you haven't. what struck me, besides the surprise ending and the offbeat middle, is the interaction among the characters. it was superbly acted.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Altoids Gum

i used to love altoids gum. it was pepperminty and soft, lasting hours upon hours. then a few months ago, i noticed i couldn't find the red and silver tins of white gum pellets anywhere. i asked various store clerks but no one knew what happened to my gum. i even wrote an email to the company asking what happened to my happy little gum. here's the dull reply, which didn't even answer my question:
Thank you for visiting and for your interest in purchasing our products. We are always happy to hear from our consumers and truly value your comments.

We encourage you to visit our online "shoppe" at Please be sure to visit frequently for updates and new product offerings.

Again, thanks for contacting us, and we hope you'll continue to enjoy our products.


Laura Richards
Consumer Affairs Representative

after a few weeks absence, stores started carrying them again. i was happy, that is, until i tasted it. had my familiarity with the gum changed? it was hard and nasty. then i compared the ingredients listed on an old tin compared to a new tin and sure enough, the ingredients are different and reordered! how could they! the first ingredient on the good altoids is gum base. the first ingredient of the bad altoids is sorbitol.

the moral of this story: altoids gum stinks and so does altoids consumer affairs.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Bank it Like Beckham

i'm already sick of david beckham and his spicy wife, posh. non-stop press since news yesterday that he signed with the la galaxy. he'll make $1 million a week. i had no idea he was that popular.
a few yawns to beckham's arrival

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Get Rid of Your Foes

are "terrorists" bothering you? well, if you want to get rid of your "terrorists" call the USA! we're ready and willing to bomb your country, big or small. just give us a target. we will get rid of those "evildoers" until evil falls off its axis.

now somalia? how absurd is it to think the US can just keep bombing the "terrorists" (and anyone else in the way) until they're all dead? how do we know somalia didn't just have a few people it wanted to get rid of?

democrats? religious leaders? anybody?

i don't want to get all "pat robertson" on you, but this is set to be a really bad year, folks, especially for those of us who know better. brace yourselves.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Ataxia II March 20

that makes this a John Frusciante day!
it's coming... the second Ataxia record is expected to be released in the u.s. March 20, according to this record is the followup collaboration of the lovely John Frusciante, Joe Lally and Josh Klinghoffer. the first CD was called Automatic Writing, a brilliant album.

Dolby Lowers Volume

dolby has a new technology that lowers the volume of commercials. yay!
there you are, watching tv at a reasonable volume. then the commercial comes on and you have to lower the volume, and then your show comes on and you have to raise it again.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Pursuit of Unhappiness

this is the last few sentences of a NYT story about positive psychology:
“My personal satisfaction is the personal measure for me, and my personal satisfaction is great,” he explained. “I hate to say this, but really in the scheme of things we’re not going to change the war in Iraq.” Then he paused and thought how that sounded. “We can only fix the world one person at a time.”
can i just say "ick."

Positive psychology teaches people to be “happy.” But not just Happy Happy, as in pursuing pleasure, rather Authentically Happy, as in being of service others.

Well, promoting a more generous society seems to be a plus for positive psychology, but, gosh, why do we have to be happy? Isn’t it just as selfish to say that we should give to others because it will make us happy? How about being kind to others and giving for its own sake? Why do we have to get something in return? What if giving to others or being kind was painful? Does that mean we shouldn’t do it?

what is happy anyway? According to the dictionary: favored by luck or fortune; enjoying or characterized by well-being and contentment.

Seems to me our society’s constant pursuit of happiness, whether it be the Happy Happy kind or the Authentically Happy kind, is driving the madness. We feel so entitled to happiness. If we don’t feel happy, we take drugs – prescribed or otherwise – we eat, we shop, we work, we find religion, we try to push our religion on everyone else. We are in a word: selfish.

Given the state of world affairs, if we're any kind of thinking, feeling human being, how can any of us have an overall state of mind that is “happy?”

Here’s a better question: should we be happy?

Happiness is overrated. I think we need pursue another state of mind, one that is unhappy and irritated and called to action because we care and because we DO think we can change things like the war in Iraq, rather than seek out “personal satisfaction” like the student in the story and settle for happiness.

Friday, January 05, 2007

UFO Group Perturbed

for not being named as the original source for the chicago tribune's story a few days ago and for the reporter's comments that the UFO group tried to get the reporter to write that earth was visited by an alien spaceship.
here is a second report of the sighting.
the group has a transcript of the NPR interview with the reporter here.
this from the national UFO reporting center
regarding the ufo sighting in chicago:
Moreover, it is unclear why Mr. Hilkevitch responds to the question by saying, "...they ((i.e. Peter Davenport, Director of the National UFO Reporting Center)) kept wanting me to say this was a visit from some other world and further proof that, uh, we, on this planet are visited regularly by other beings..." To set the record straight on this point, no such representation was made to Mr. Hilkevitch. His claim we consider to be a misrepresentation of the facts regarding our role in the case. We did nothing more than contact the Chicago Tribune in mid-December to apprise that newspaper of the sighting, and to provide Mr. Hilkevitch with details of the case, to include our subjective view of the veracity of the reports, and the apparent credibility of the witnesses. In the final analysis, once we were satisfied that the Chicago Tribune was interested in following up on the case, we contacted eyewitnesses, to request that they contact Mr. Hilkevitch directly, if they were willing to do so.

Contrary to Mr. Hilkevitch's claim during his interview on NPR, we did not attempt to influence him as to what he wrote in his article.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Amazon to Sell Space Travel?

too much money leads travel. maybe jeff bezos will sell trips on amazon. if you're an aerospace engineer, jeff is looking for you!
cool photos
from BBC
The Goddard launch took place in Texas in November 2006
Spaceship launch
The billionaire founder of has released the first images of the launch of a private spacecraft that could bring space travel to the masses.
A video of the cone-shaped Goddard vehicle shows it climbing to about 85m (285ft) before returning back to Earth.

The test launch took place in November 2006 in a remote part of Texas, but details have only now been released.

The images mark the first time Jeff Bezos has broken his silence on the work of his space company, Blue Origin.

Writing on the company's website, Mr Bezos said: "We're working, patiently and step-by-step, to lower the cost of spaceflight so that many people can afford to go; and so that we humans can better continue exploring the Solar System."

"Accomplishing this mission will take a long time, and we're working on it methodically."

Short trip

Mr Bezos founded Blue Origin in 2000 with the intention of developing a vertical take-off and landing vehicle, called New Shepard, able to take passengers to the edge of space.

No timescale for commercial trips has been announced but documents released by the US Federal Aviation Administration suggest they could start as early as 2010.

The latest videos show there is still a lot of development work to do before the company reaches that stage.

My only job at the launch was to open the champagne
Jeff Bezos

The footage shot on 13 November 2006 from a site about 200km (120 miles) east of El Paso in Texas shows the first craft to launch under the New Shepard programme.

Called Goddard, the retro-looking development vehicle is shown standing on four legs before blasting off in a cloud of smoke from thrusters on its base. The vehicle continues to ascend for approximately 10 seconds, reaching a height of nearly 300ft (90m).

It then starts to descend before making a controlled landing back on its feet approximately 25 seconds after take-off.

The launch, described by Mr Bezos as "both useful and fun", was watched by friends, family and a team of engineers.

"My only job at the launch was to open the champagne," said Mr Bezos.

The website message does not say whether the vehicle contained any passengers or why there was a delay between the launch and release of the footage.

Commercial space

Mr Bezos now hopes to recruit a team of engineers to the New Shepard programme to develop the design and increase the altitude and duration of flights.

In particular, he is looking for "experienced propulsion engineers" and people with "experience on large, modern vehicles such as Delta IV or Atlas V".

Blue Origin is one of several private companies vying to open up space to the public.

US-based Space Adventures has already taken four space tourists to the International Space Station, while in September 2006, Sir Richard Branson unveiled a mock-up of a rocket powered vehicle that will carry six passengers and two pilots to an altitude of about 140km (85 miles).

His Virgin Galactic design is based on SpaceShipOne, the craft designed by Scaled Composites that won the Ansari X-Prize in 2005. The first passengers could take off in 2009.

Other entrepreneurs jostling for their place in space include hotel tycoon Robert Bigelow who launched Genesis 1, an experimental inflatable spacecraft, in July 2006.

Mr Bigelow hopes the water-melon shaped craft could form the basis of a future space hotel.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Amazon's Fluctuating Prices

ever wonder why items in your shopping cart go up after a while:
The Mystery of Amazon's Fluctuating Prices
All David Streitfield wanted to do was buy a book. Looking around for a copy of THE IRON SKILLET COOKBOOK to "boost [his] dubious culinary skills," the LA Times writer found a copy at, put it in his shopping cart, and forgot about it. The next day, he decided to buy it, only to get a pop-up message that the price had increased from $11.02 to $11.53. He checked with friends, who noted the price increase as well. How could this happen?

read the rest at media bistro's galleycat

Stranger to the Rescue

when all the world seems to have gone mad...
from the NYT
January 3, 2007
A Man Down, a Train Arriving, and a Stranger Makes a Choice
It was every subway rider’s nightmare, times two.

Who has ridden along New York’s 656 miles of subway lines and not wondered: “What if I fell to the tracks as a train came in? What would I do?”

And who has not thought: “What if someone else fell? Would I jump to the rescue?”

Wesley Autrey, a 50-year-old construction worker and Navy veteran, faced both those questions in a flashing instant yesterday, and got his answers almost as quickly.

Mr. Autrey was waiting for the downtown local at 137th Street and Broadway in Manhattan around 12:45 p.m. He was taking his two daughters, Syshe, 4, and Shuqui, 6, home before work.

Nearby, a man collapsed, his body convulsing. Mr. Autrey and two women rushed to help, he said. The man, Cameron Hollopeter, 20, managed to get up, but then stumbled to the platform edge and fell to the tracks, between the two rails.

The headlights of the No. 1 train appeared. “I had to make a split decision,” Mr. Autrey said.

So he made one, and leapt.

Mr. Autrey lay on Mr. Hollopeter, his heart pounding, pressing him down in a space roughly a foot deep. The train’s brakes screeched, but it could not stop in time.

Five cars rolled overhead before the train stopped, the cars passing inches from his head, smudging his blue knit cap with grease. Mr. Autrey heard onlookers’ screams. “We’re O.K. down here,” he yelled, “but I’ve got two daughters up there. Let them know their father’s O.K.” He heard cries of wonder, and applause.

Power was cut, and workers got them out. Mr. Hollopeter, a student at the New York Film Academy, was taken to St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center. He had only bumps and bruises, said his grandfather, Jeff Friedman. The police said it appeared that Mr. Hollopeter had suffered a seizure.

Mr. Autrey refused medical help, because, he said, nothing was wrong. He did visit Mr. Hollopeter in the hospital before heading to his night shift. “I don’t feel like I did something spectacular; I just saw someone who needed help,” Mr. Autrey said. “I did what I felt was right.”

Monday, January 01, 2007

UFO in Chicago

who doesn't love a good ufo story. apparently, chicago airport workers spotted one, according to today's Chicago Tribune. there's also a video at the site, but not one of the ufo, just the reporter saying that the witnesses were serious but the FAA denied it at first.
original case report
Jon Hilkevitch

In the sky! A bird? A plane? A ... UFO?
Video: UFO over O'Hare Airport?

Published January 1, 2007
It sounds like a tired joke--but a group of airline employees insist they are in earnest, and they are upset that neither their bosses nor the government will take them seriously.

A flying saucerlike object hovered low over O'Hare International Airport for several minutes before bolting through thick clouds with such intense energy that it left an eerie hole in overcast skies, said some United Airlines employees who observed the phenomenon.

Was it an alien spaceship? A weather balloon lost in the airspace over the world's second-busiest airport? A top-secret military craft? Or simply a reflection from lights that played a trick on the eyes?

Officials at United professed no knowledge of the Nov. 7 event--which was reported to the airline by as many as a dozen of its own workers--when the Tribune started asking questions recently. But the Federal Aviation Administration said its air traffic control tower at O'Hare did receive a call from a United supervisor asking if controllers had spotted a mysterious elliptical-shaped craft sitting motionless over Concourse C of the United terminal.

No controllers saw the object, and a preliminary check of radar found nothing out of the ordinary, FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said. to read the rest you have to register, unfortunately.

here's what some of the eyewitnesses said:
Witnesses shaken by sighting

"I tend to be scientific by nature, and I don't understand why aliens would hover over a busy airport," said a United mechanic who was in the cockpit of a Boeing 777 that he was taxiing to a maintenance hangar when he observed the metallic-looking object above Gate C17.

"But I know that what I saw and what a lot of other people saw stood out very clearly, and it definitely was not an [Earth] aircraft," the mechanic said.

One United employee appeared emotionally shaken by the sighting and "experienced some religious issues" over it, one co-worker said.

A United manager said he ran outside his office in Concourse B after hearing the report about the sighting on an internal airline radio frequency.

"I stood outside in the gate area not knowing what to think, just trying to figure out what it was," he said. "I knew no one would make a false call like that. But if somebody was bouncing a weather balloon or something else over O'Hare, we had to stop it because it was in very close proximity to our flight operations."

if you see one, here's the report form