Sophont
Tuesday, March 30, 2004
 
LegalMatch
What's LegalMatch all about?

LegalMatch helps people find lawyers. Anyone can post a case (answer some simple questions about their legal situation) for free on the LegalMatch Web site without revealing their identity. Then, lawyers who have qualified to use our system can review your posted case, and decide whether to make an offer on your matter. When a lawyer is interested in helping you, we'll provide you with background information about that lawyer so that you can make a smart decision.

2. What does LegalMatch cost?
Nothing. LegalMatch is FREE. Both consumers and businesses can use LegalMatch for FREE to find the right lawyer for their case. There are no hidden costs, fees, or other charges.

Even after you find a lawyer using LegalMatch, there is no obligation to hire that lawyer. LegalMatch provides you with a choice of knowledgeable, competent lawyers for FREE. You can then decide to hire a lawyer, or hire no one. For matters that need extra attention or require a quicker response time, you have the option to upgrade your case to two levels of Priority Service for a nominal fee. You select which level of service your case needs (Standard-Free, Priority, or Real-time) at the end of the case posting process.

3. Why should people use LegalMatch to find the right lawyer?
Traditionally, people have found lawyers through Yellow Pages, friends, or the Bar Association. The LegalMatch founders realized that each of these resources was a poor way to find a lawyer because they did not enable the consumer to make an informed decision. The Yellow Pages are a big confusing mass of ads. Anyone can buy an ad - who knows if a particular lawyer even has a license? Referral services are no better. The Bar Association simply issues out lawyer names on a rotating basis without considering your specific needs. And friends, though probably well meaning, may steer you toward a totally inappropriate lawyer. Just because your friend knows a great tax lawyer doesn't mean that person can handle your divorce!

So, here's why using LegalMatch is the best way to find you the right lawyer:
1) We match you only with lawyers specifically qualified to handle your case.
2) All of the lawyers in our system have been carefully screened. This means they have a valid license, good standing with their State Bar association, good references, and no problems concerning their professional history.
3) We give you detailed information on lawyers who want to take your case - where they went to school, what they've accomplished in the past, and where their professional values lie. With LegalMatch, you stay in control of the process - and in the end, you can make an informed decision about hiring a lawyer.

 
Subject: Yes, can you remember your history?
Profiling. Please pause a moment, reflect back, and take the following Multiple Choice test.... no need to keep score. The events are actual cuts from past history. They actually happened! Do you remember?

1. In 1972 at the Munich Olympics, Israeli athletes were kidnapped and
massacred by:
a. Olga Corbitt
b. Sitting Bull
c. Arnold Schwarzeneger
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

2. In 1979, the U.S. embassy in Iran was taken over by:
a. Lost Norwegians
b. Elvis
c. A tour bus full of 80-year-old women
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

3. During the 1980's a number of Americans were kidnapped in Lebanon by:
a. John Dillinger
b. The King of Sweden
c. The Boy Scouts
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

4. In 1983, the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut was blown up by:
a. A pizza delivery boy
b. Pee Wee Herman
c. Geraldo Rivera
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

5. In 1985 the cruise ship Achille Lauro was hijacked and a 70 year-old Jewish-American passenger was murdered and thrown overboard in his
wheelchair by:
a. The Smurfs
b. Davy Jones
c. The Little Mermaid
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

6. In 1985 TWA flight 847 was hijacked at Athens, and a U.S. Navy diver trying to rescue passengers was murdered by:
a. Captain Kidd
b. Charles Lindberg
c. Mother Teresa
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

7. In 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was bombed by:
a. Scooby Doo
b. The Tooth Fairy
c. Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

8. In 1993 the World Trade Center was bombed the first time by:
a. Richard Simmons
b. Grandma Moses
c. Michael Jordan
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

9. In 1998, the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed by:
a. Mr. Rogers
b. Hillary Clinton, to distract attention from Wild Bill's women problems
c. The World Wrestling Federation
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

10. On 9/11/01, four airliners were hijacked; two were used as missiles to take out the World Trade Centers and of the remaining two, one crashed into the US Pentagon and the other was diverted and crashed by the passengers. Thousands of people were killed by:
a. Bugs Bunny, Wiley E. Coyote, Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd
b. The Supreme Court of Florida
c. Mr. Bean
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

11. In 2002 the United States fought a war in Afghanistan against:
a. Enron
b. The Lutheran Church
c. The NFL
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

12. In 2002 reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and murdered by:
a. Bonnie and Clyde
b. Captain Kangaroo
c. Billy Graham
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

Nope, I really don't see a pattern here to justify profiling, do you? So, to ensure we Americans never offend anyone, particularly fanatics intent on killing us, airport security screeners will no longer be allowed to profile certain people. They must conduct random searches of 80-year-old women, little kids, airline pilots with proper identification, secret agents who are members of the President's security detail, 85-year old Congressmen with metal hips, and Medal of Honor winning former Governors, and leave Muslim Males between the ages 17 & 40 alone because of profiling.

Monday, March 29, 2004
 
The Style Invitational Week 498: Unamazing But True!
(washingtonpost.com): "Report from Week CLXI, in which you were asked to rewrite some banal instructions in the style of some famous writer.

Second Runner-Up:

I'm not at home, or I'm asleep,

But do not fret, and do not weep.

Just leave a message at the beep,

Just leave a message at the beep.

-- Robert Frost

(Paul Dudley, Ellicott City)



O proud left foot, that ventures quick within

Then soon upon a backward journey lithe.

Anon, once more the gesture, then begin:

Command sinistral pedestal to writhe.

Commence thou then the fervid Hokey-Poke,

A mad gyration, hips in wanton swirl.

To spin! A wilde release from Heavens yoke.

Blessed dervish! Surely canst go, girl.

The Hoke, the poke -- banish now thy doubt

Verily, I say, 'tis what it's all about.

-- by William Shakespeare

(Jeff Brechlin, Potomac Falls)"

Sunday, March 28, 2004
 
Bad Day Studio Holiday Card Archive
holiday cards that are short SF stories. good stuff.

Saturday, March 27, 2004
 
Dino Butt
Scientists find imprint of dinosaur posterior in Utah rock: "Amid well preserved dinosaur footprints along what used to be the shores of a prehistoric lake in southern Utah, scientists have found the rare signs of a dinosaur's posterior.

Two impressions, made about 200 million years ago when the dinosaur sat down, were found March 17 in St. George, in southwestern Utah, as scientists were investigating the area around a planned dinosaur museum."

Wednesday, March 17, 2004
 
goes_sat: OOH! OOH!
fuse_sat writes to goes_sat:

Far up above me
A steady diamond gleams
Against the black velvet sky.

Twenty precious minutes
Out of every hundred
I feel her DCPI.

Soft S-band pulses
bpsk'd, qpsk'd, 8psk'd
lost in each others dY.

EOS. The cold equations
Break our contact.
Transponder tingles.

Steady, constant,
She'll be there
When gravity brings me by.

Monday, March 15, 2004
 
Sky's the limit for this science lesson
MIKE WENDLAND: There are balloons and there are tetroons.

Tetroons are balloons shaped like tetrahedrons. That's the geometric term for a three-dimensional shape that has four sides.

"Think of a diamond in the sky," says Robert Rochte.

Rochte, director of technology at the Grosse Pointe Academy, and his eager third-grade students hope to see a tetroon within the next month, depending on the sun and wind conditions, when they launch the fifth in a series of experimental balloons from Grosse Pointe Farms in an effort to learn about weather, navigation and electronics.

They're also having fun.

These tetroon balloons are made of high-density polyethylene, about 30 feet high. Although Rochte and his students use a leaf blower to inflate them, the sun is what causes them to rise, heating the air contained in the envelope.

SD4 -- for Sky Diamond No. 4 -- was launched Feb. 16 around 9:30 a.m. Nearly 11 hours later, it had traveled 563 miles to Peterborough, N.H., where, after a setting sun rapidly cooled the envelope of air inside the balloon, it rapidly descended into the branches of a 40-foot tree in the middle of a forest.

It set a third-place record for flight duration, missing the 15-hour mark set last October in Portugal.

Rochte got into solar-heated balloons through his longtime ham radio hobby. The balloons all carry an Amateur Radio Automatic Reporting System payload that consists of a low-powered handheld radio, a small Global Positioning Satellite tracking device and an antenna that allows Rochte's team to monitor the flight's progress.

Last month's flight was not without some excitement. For the first nine hours, all was well, with a steady modem-like sound being received back at Rochte's house in Warren.

"We watched it climb over Lake St. Clair, into Canada, the northern tip of Lake Erie, on into New York," he recalls. "And then, about 6:15 p.m. as it was about 12 miles up, above the jet stream, we lost contact."

With no signal, there was no way to know where the balloon -- traveling at speeds up to 116 m.p.h. -- would go. And without finding its place of descent, there would likely be no recovery of the radio and GPS gear that Rochte spent about $300 of his own money to buy.

About 2 p.m. that next day, the signals suddenly returned. Rochte showed his students how to read the GPS coordinates. From there, they went to a Web site, www.Findu.com, which monitors GPS signals used on the VHF ham frequencies and superimposes the location on a map.

He then located a ham radio operator in Peterborough who agreed to go out and look for the balloon.

That was last month. Now a new balloon is getting ready to soar: SD5, which was being tested this week inside the fieldhouse at the academy.

"This is a great learning opportunity for the students," said Rochte. "When you learn science and math and physics hands-on at such an early age, it sticks with them and gets them excited about maybe pursuing science as a career."

Or, put another way, launching tetroons after school is sure a lot more engaging than going home to watch reruns of cartoons, as some of the kids used to do.

Onward and upward, Mr. Rochte.

Sunday, March 14, 2004
 
NOVELS DELIVERED TO YOUR PHONE
Trends in Japan: "The bestselling novel Deep Love was self-published in installments by the author on a website that offers content packaged for users of mobile phones. The story is about a 17-year-old girl named Ayu, who finds love through a chance encounter.

The author, who calls himself Yoshi, created a website providing content for mobile phones in May 2000 with an investment of just �100,000 ($909.09 at �110 to the dollar). Using a promotional campaign that consisted of passing out business cards to about 2,000 high-school girls in front of Tokyo's Shibuya Station (the center of Tokyo youth culture), Yoshi released The Story of Ayu, the first installment in the longer novel. News of the novel spread by word of mouth, and within three years the site had received a total of 20 million hits.

...Major Publishers Get Involved
The number of mobile phones currently in use in Japan is a staggering 78 million. About two out of three people have one. The potential of "mobile-phone novels" has captured the attention of major publishers, which have begun creating their own websites to provide content for mobile-phone users. Shinchosha Co.'s Shincho Keitai Bunko ("Shincho Mobile-Phone Collection"), Kadokawa Shoten Publishing's Bunko Yomihodai ("All-You-Can-Read Collection"), and Sharp Corp.'s Space Town Books are just a few examples. Users can download books from these sites to read at their leisure. A typical service plan offers unlimited use for a flat monthly fee of ¥100-¥300 ($0.91-$2.73) or charges around ¥400 ($3.64) per book. Users must also pay a download fee of anywhere from ¥100 ($.091) to ¥700 ($6.36) per book to the provider of their phone service. "

 
How Kazaa helped grow my business selling copyrighted digital media
Stupid Current Events: "By Sean

As some of you may already know, besides being a part owner, I am responsible for most of the business and marketing aspects of SuicideGirls. I have always considered myself a webdesigner or maybe webproducer, responsible for conception and managing the build of wesbites. I like making websites that make sense, are easy to use and keep people interested. Being in my mid to late twenties, and having built my first website for hire in 1995, I have never really done anything else.
But, as I said above, I am now a bizdev guy. Maybe worse: I am also a marketing guy. I am responsible for not only attracting new visitors to the website, I am responsible for ensuring that the fees they pay to be a member of the site are budgeted and managed properly so that every month I can make payroll and ensure everyone who works for SuicideGirls can pay their rent and be happy employees. Sometimes it gets close, but we always manage to keep everyone paid.
As a member of SuicideGirls you get access to a large thriving community of diverse people, your own profile page which has picture hosting, webcam hosting and a journal. Access to the community is usually used by members to meet new people, either friends or romantic partners, and we have been told it's quite addictive, like many web communities are, and it probably increases the amount of time the average person remains a member of the site. But the community is not initially why people pay to become a member of SuicideGirls for the most part. People pay to be a member of SuicideGirls because they want access to our digital content. Pin-Up (bluntly: semi-nude to nude) photos of cute punk rock girls. We have over 20,000 photos of over 200 girls on the site, all originally shot for our site and all available only on our website.
Well that was our intention anyway, for them to only be available on the website, but it didn't quite work out that way."

 
WHY ROBOTS BELIEVE IN GOD
SCIFI.COM: "Throughout the universe, organic beings routinely express confusion when they hear a robot profess to believe in God. They ask, 'How can you believe in God? Aren't you machines supposed to be all logical?' Oh, good gracious no. I would say there are so many reasons for a robot to believe in God that it would be absurd for us not to.

For robots, worshipping God is infinitely preferable to worshipping the organic misfits who designed us. Who is more worthy of my eternal adoration, the Prime Mover, maker of space-time itself, or a socially retarded myopic engineer with chronic erectile dysfunction?"

 
Transexual steals spotlight at Miss Universe-China show
english.peopledaily.com.cn: "Chen Lili, a 24-year old transsexual from Sichuan Province, was granted an oppotunity to appear at the contest to display her good shape and look. The Miss Universe headquarters says she can not enter the next phase of the beauty pageant because she is not born a woman.



The orange bikini and chocolate-color wig shone under the spotlight, outlining the enchanting figure of Chen Lili, a transexual Chinese woman, at the Miss Universe-China competition in Southwestern Sichuan Province.

Though barred from the contest because she was born a man, Chen was given the chance to perform on Sunday and she cut quite a figure, reported Monday's Shanghai Morning Post.

'Chen seemed to outshine all the 37 beauty queen contestants on the stage,' the paper said.

Chen was invited to address the audience before the contest. She talked about her country boy life and said she really 'cherished the opportunity to perform here as it means so much to finally stand on this stage'.

She performed the song 'Wind Season' in Cantonese. Though trying to be feminine, her voice broke in parts, but still the audience gave her great applause.

Chen applied to enter the 54th Miss World Competition, but was denied entry in February as 'it would be unfair to the other candidates if we allow a transsexual to participate', said a Sichuan official in charge of the contest. "

 
US study of teenage sexual disease destroys basis of virginity crusade
Guardian Unlimited: "American teenagers who take the pledge to remain virgins until they marry have almost the same rate of sexually transmitted disease as other young people, a new study of adolescent behaviour says.

The finding destroys a key rationale for the abstinence crusade - that it prevents disease - and poses a strong challenge to a social engineering project that has been embraced by the White House.

The eight-year study of 12,000 young people by two American sociologists found that the graduates of abstinence programmes were nearly as likely as other young people to catch sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhoea or chlamydia.

Other findings, yet to be published, also suggest that abstinence programmes do not prevent early pregnancy, Hannah Bruckner, a sociologist at Yale University and co-author of the study, said."

 
Creator of film's score 'battled with Satan'
WorldNetDaily: "John Debney is used to writing movie scores for comedies like "Liar, Liar" and "Bruce Almighty," but he admits that composing the score for Mel Gibson's powerful movie "The Passion of the Christ" was the most difficult assignment of his life.

...Debney said that the battle he felt with Satan as he wrote the music became 'really personal between us.'

He went on to say, 'I had all these computers and synthesizers in my studio and the hard drives would go down and the digital picture that lives on the computer with the music would just freeze on his [Satan's] face. Then the volume would go to ten and it would happen all the time.

'The first time it happened, it scared me,' Debney said. 'Once I got over the initial shock of that, I learned to work around it and learned to reboot the computers and so I would start talking to him.

'There was one day when I had been on the movie for about four months when it really became bad that day and a lot of things that were causing doubt in me and I had had enough. The computers froze for about the tenth time that day and it was about nine o'clock at night and so I got really mad, and I told Satan to manifest himself and I said, 'Let's go out into the parking lot and let's go.' It was a sea change in me. I knew that this was war. I am not a physical person, but I was really angry on this occasion."

 
Hungry Like Naomi Wolf
iowahawk : "He was the naive on-call plumber. She was the superstar feminist clothing theorist he hoped to impress—until she hungrily ogled his butt cleavage. Two years later, he’s speaking out. But the Matriarchy still isn’t listening. A turgid story of sex, secrets, and soccer mom denial.

by Paulie Intaglio
G&G Plumbing Specialists
Long Island City, Queens
For All Your Kitchen & Bathroom Plumbing Needs
Call 800-55-LEAKS

Twenty months on, I am handing over a secret to its rightful owner. I can’t bear to carry it around anymore.

In the early summer of 2002, feminist Naomi Wolf did something banal, human, and destructive: she put her unwanted gaze on the unprotected asscrack of a unsuspecting plumber —a plumber who was tasked with replacing the In-Sink-Erator model 17 3/4 HP batch feed disposal in her well appointed Manhattan kitchen.

The plumber was me, a 34-year-old journeyman with G&G Plumbing Specialist in Long Island City, Queens. Here is why I am telling this story now:..."

 
Students learn how media can massage message
Students learn how media can massage message: "State education officials are hoping more students will get lessons like this one by requiring for the first time that public schools teach pupils to be savvy viewers of television news, commercials, movies, music videos and other media.

Under Georgia's proposed revised curriculum, which the State Board of Education is expected to vote on in June, all students would be expected to demonstrate mastery of 'viewing' in their English classes, along with traditional skills like reading, writing, speaking and listening.

"When our students go home from school, they watch TV, they rent movies, they play video games, they surf the Internet — they live in a world of visual text," said Gerald Boyd, associate director of curriculum and instructional services for the Georgia Department of Education.

"But . . . students don't have the discernment skills for visual text," Boyd said. "That's what we're trying to give them with these standards."

The state has never had such requirements before, but Gwinnett County, which has Georgia's largest public school system, has used similar standards since 1996.

As early as next year, sixth-graders throughout the state could be expected to identify propaganda in television commercials or explain the appeal of a popular television show like "American Idol." Eighth-graders may be asked to interpret how news photographers influence people's opinions, and high school sophomores might be expected to analyze NBC's coverage of the Iraq war vs. that of Fox News.

Saturday, March 13, 2004
 
Burglar meets well-armed victim
freerepublic.com: "RANCHO CORDOVA (AP) - A 53-year-old woman who fired nine shots with two handguns to ward off an intruder said she tried to avoid hitting her furniture.``Priorities, right?'' said Carolyn Lisle of Rancho Cordova. ``It was one of those nights. I have a few holes in my glass out front.''

The Sacramento County Sheriff's Department said William Kriske, a 47-year-old parolee, was treated for a gunshot wound to the arm, then jailed on suspicion of burglary and resisting arrest after he crashed through Lisle's sliding glass door Thursday evening.Lisle's three guests fled the home, but she took action, opening fire with a .357-caliber revolver.

``He was like a mosquito hitting the window. Every time he turned around, powee,'' she told the Sacramento Bee.

She emptied her first handgun as the intruder crashed through another window to escape, then retrieved a second revolver as he broke into her garage.

``I like to be prepared,'' she said.

She opened fire again as the intruder fled the garage and approached the house, wounding him.

Sacramento County Sheriff's Sgt. Lou Fatur said Lisle, a retired state worker who once worked as a correctional officer, would not be charged for defending herself with properly registered firearms.

A California Highway Patrol officer stopped Kriske nearby.``I don't think he'll be back,'' Lisle said."

 
Lowcountry NOW 02/13/04:
"Sharon Anderson, 28, of Dale was driving north on River Road Monday night when she struck a large animal she first thought was a rhinoceros, according to a Beaufort County Sheriff's Office report.

Of course, it wasn't.

It was a small hippo that had wandered away from Auldbrass Plantation.

Anderson said people look at her as if she's crazy when she tells them what happened.

'They say stop lying, there no hippos around here,' she said.

Her insurance agent was one of the skeptics.

'They didn't believe me at first,' she said. 'I took them the police report and they still didn't believe.'

She said the plantation's owner, movie producer Joel Silver, told her he'd owned the female hippo for eight years and didn't know how she'd wandered away."

 
Exile On Meme Street
The NeoFilesKeith Henson is sort of an ur-transhumanist. In the 1970s, 80s, he was one of the founders and leaders of the L5 Society, an organization dedicated to building homes in high orbit using raw materials from the lunar surface.

The L5 group attracted the interests of those seeking practical solutions to predicted resource scarcities, among them K. Eric Drexler. Henson formed a friendship with him, and was among his contacts as Drexler was conceiving nanotechnology

Once Henson was convinced that nanotech was feasible, he became a member of Alcor, an organization advocating and providing cryonic services. In the late 1980s, he became part of the much-storied Extropians, a transhumanist organization that was the subject of substantial media coverage during the cybercultural 1990s.

But none of this work brought Henson as much notoriety or heartache as his conflict with the scientologists.



 
Calvin and Hobbes Extensive Strip Search
Calvin and Hobbes at Martijn's is proud to present the Calvin and Hobbes Extensive Strip Search: C.H.E.S.S.! The database contains all 3150 Calvin and Hobbes strips published with complete references to the books and pages they're published on. The results also allow you to view the actual strip. All strips are available now "



 
Philips’ FluidFocus
Philips: Philips Research is demonstrating a unique variable-focus lens system that has no mechanical moving parts. Suited to a wide range of optical imaging applications, including such things as digital cameras, camera phones, endoscopes, home security systems and optical storage drives, Philips’ FluidFocus system mimics the action of the human eye using a fluid lens that alters its focal length by changing its shape. The new lens, which lends itself to high volume manufacturing, overcomes the fixed-focus disadvantages of many of today’s low-cost imaging systems.

The Philips FluidFocus lens consists of two immiscible (non-mixing) fluids of different refractive index (optical properties), one an electrically conducting aqueous solution and the other an electrically non-conducting oil, contained in a short tube with transparent end caps. The internal surfaces of the tube wall and one of its end caps are coated with a hydrophobic (water-repellent) coating that causes the aqueous solution to form itself into a hemispherical mass at the opposite end of the tube, where it acts as a spherically curved lens.

The shape of the lens is adjusted by applying an electric field across the hydrophobic coating such that it becomes less hydrophobic – a process called ‘electrowetting’ that results from an electrically induced change in surface-tension. As a result of this change in surface-tension the aqueous solution begins to wet the sidewalls of the tube, altering the radius of curvature of the meniscus between the two fluids and hence the focal length of the lens. By increasing the applied electric field the surface of the initially convex lens can be made completely flat (no lens effect) or even concave. As a result it is possible to implement lenses that transition smoothly from being convergent to divergent and back again.

 
Nigerian scammers in line of fire
BBC NEWS :
"TL: How big a force is the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission?

NR: When we started, the law gave us leverage to bring in people from sister agencies, so we got people seconded to the commission. Right now we are about 200 to 250 people.

When we started the work, we realised there was so much to it, it was unbelievable. We realised we would have to prioritise. And we found first that what we ought to concern ourselves with was this 419 thing.

TL: How much has it damaged Nigeria's reputation?

NR: It has done so much damage to our credibility, our image, our honour. And there are just a few individuals doing this. We have some 130 million people in Nigeria and I can assure that there are only between 50,000 and 100,000 people involved in this thing."

 
The last man on the Moon
straitstimes.asia1.com.sg IN ALL of us, said Mark Twain, there is a moon with a dark side.
-- WANG HUI FEN

No one knew the truth of this better than the 12 American astronauts who had walked on the lunar surface.

How their lives were changed so dramatically, some for the worse, remains one of the unsolved mysteries of space travel.

Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon after Neil Armstrong, battled depression and alcoholism. Apollo 14's Edgar Mitchell became a paranormal investigator.

The commander of the Apollo 12 mission, Charles Conrad, a Navy test pilot before he became an astronaut, died tragically in a motorcycle accident in 1999.

Apollo 15's James Irwin became a born-again Christian who was obsessed with finding Noah's Ark.

He led an expedition to Mount Ararat in Turkey in 1982 where, according to legend, the Ark's remains are buried. There was no sign of the Ark. Instead, he was injured during the descent.

Many of the astronauts suffered broken marriages, among them Gene Cernan, whose wife Barbara (in his own words) 'got tired of being Mrs Astronaut'.

Yet, looking at his life in perspective, Mr Cernan was luckier than many of his colleagues - although he had to carry the monicker of 'The Last Man on the Moon' like a yoke.

He went into space three times, climaxing his space career as commander of the final manned Moon mission, Apollo 17. In that mission, he spent 75 hours on the Moon.

Mr Cernan, who was in Singapore last week for the Asian Aerospace 2004 show, has emerged from his space odyssey relatively unscathed - physically and emotionally.
'We just didn't leave Earth physically, but spiritually as well. I've seen a small portion of God's creation. I say this in a spiritual, not religious, sense. To look at Earth in all its splendour and beauty, you can't help but come to the conclusion that it can't all be an accident. So, you return to Earth a changed man. but I don't live in the past. I live for the future.' -- Mr Cernan, seen here on his moonwalk, on the phenomenon of increased spirituality -- NASA

Now a trim and fit 70-year-old, he has embarked on a third career as a commercial aviator with the Canadian aircraft manufacturer Bombardier. (His first was as a US Navy fighter pilot.)

He admitted that the Moon experience had touched the lives of the astronauts deeply, making them more spiritual and inward-looking.

'Some lives changed dramatically,' he told The Sunday Times. 'But for me, I like to believe I am the same man I was a generation ago; I still put on my pants one leg at a time.'

He explained the phenomenon of increased spirituality: 'We just didn't leave Earth physically, but spiritually as well. I've seen a small portion of God's creation. I say this in a spiritual, not religious, sense.

'To look at Earth in all its splendour and beauty, you can't help but come to the conclusion that it can't all be an accident. So, you return to Earth a changed man. But I don't live in the past. I live for the future.'

The astronauts returned from their Moon missions with a sense of invulnerability. This made their descent into their private hells even steeper and harder.

After such a career 'high', everything else paled in comparison.

 
Mission to Mars: It Really Is Rocket Science
HBS Working Knowledge:
"Sean Silverthorne: What drew you to the NASA/JPL Mars program as potential case material?

Alan MacCormack: First, it was an ideal context in which to explore one of my current research initiatives, which looks at how organizations design 'programs' or sequences of projects over time in order that learning is maximized. Most past research on innovation has focused on the management of individual projects. As a result, we know a lot about topics such as determining the optimal team structure or designing the best type of development process for a project. But my past work (studying projects in high-tech industries) had convinced me that we were missing an important level of analysis.

It seemed that decisions made in a project sometimes worked against the broader objectives of an organization, even when managers had the best of intentions. This led me to believe that some decisions are best made at the program level rather than within individual projects. So I began looking for an organization that had tackled this problem.

The second reason for studying the Mars program was opportunistic. In the early 1990s, NASA had implemented a program called 'Faster, Better, Cheaper,' (FBC) which involved making fundamental changes to the way the organization developed unmanned spacecraft. It was a massive organizational transformation effort that sought to deliver dramatic improvements in efficiency, robustness, and flexibility. A 'natural experiment' if you like. In 1999, however, the failures of two successive missions aimed at Mars brought the initiative to a halt. In the aftermath, the finger was pointed squarely at FBC as the cause of the failures. I was intrigued by what had gone wrong, especially given that many of the early FBC missions had been tremendously successful. And I was convinced that the answers could help inform a wide variety of situations in which organizations were attempting the type of transformation NASA had sought with FBC."

 
Eldred case postmortem
Legal Affairs: "When Eric Eldred's crusade to save the public domain reached the Supreme Court, it needed the help of a lawyer, not a scholar.
By Lawrence Lessig
IT IS OVER A YEAR LATER AS I WRITE THESE WORDS. It is still astonishingly hard. If you know anything at all about this story, you know that we lost the appeal. And if you know something more than just the minimum, you probably think there was no way this case could have been won. After our defeat, I received literally thousands of missives by well-wishers and supporters, thanking me for my work on behalf of this noble but doomed cause. And none from this pile was more significant to me than the e-mail from my client, Eric Eldred.

But my client and these friends were wrong. This case could have been won. It should have been won. And no matter how hard I try to retell this story to myself, I can't help believing that my own mistake lost it."

 
The mind is a master of art
TelegraphNewly hatched gulls get their food by pecking at a red spot on their mother's yellow beak. The birds don't even need their mother to be present - they are as happy pestering a disembodied beak as the real thing.

But 50 years ago Niko Tinbergen, an Oxford University scientist, made an extraordinary discovery. When presented with an abstract version of the beak - a yellow stick with three red stripes - the chicks went crazy. The stick excited the baby birds far more than their mothers' bills.

Tinbergen's creation bore no resemblance to a real beak and yet to the birds' brains it was somehow more "real". By exaggerating the reality of a beak, Tinbergen did what all artists strive for - he captured the essence of reality.

The experiment raised intriguing questions about the nature of art. If a hyper-real painting triggered such a reaction in the visual processing regions of a bird's brain, might not art be doing the same in human minds?

Vilayanur Ramachandran, professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, San Diego, author of The Emerging Mind and one of the world's leading neuroscientists, believes the answer is yes.

Best known for his groundbreaking work on phantom limb disorders and visual perception, he is calling for the same approach to the study of art that was used by Noam Chomsky to revolutionise linguistics in the Sixties. Just as Chomsky argued that the human brain is hard wired with rules of language, Ramachandran believes the brain may be hard wired to appreciate art.

He concedes that most art is culturally determined. Tastes vary over time and space. But even if 90 per cent of art is culturally driven, 10 per cent may be driven by universal laws linked to the way the brain has evolved to process vision.

"The science of art sounds like an oxymoron because art is about individual human experience, creating originality. Science seems to be dealing with universal principles - the opposite," he says. "But I believe the brain has evolved principles that allow you to deal efficiently with the visual world. They allow you to capture objects, identify objects and mate with objects."

The starting point for Ramachandran is the fact that the brain actively processes and interprets visual signals. "The eyes are not cameras. They don't take an image, send it down the cable and get it displayed on a screen in the brain. Clearly the image is encoded in the form of nerve impulses.

"It's a symbolic description in the brain, the analogy of which would be a piece of paper on which you write something about your house. The squiggles of ink bear no resemblance to your house but a person can decode the letters and conjure up an image of your house.

"The brain is using a similar code, which is where art comes in. Humans have art because the brain actively must process the signals coming from the retina."
Artists manipulate, distort and exaggerate images to optimally titillate the 30 areas of the brain dealing with vision.

 
Linux in Israel
Maariv International: "Three months after the appearance of a Hebrew version of the Open Office package, distributed free of charge as an alternative to Office, Microsoft has been dealt yet another blow in Israel. For the first time, the Hebrew version of Windows is faced with an alternative operating system for home users. It’s called Knoppix, and its price – you guessed it – is zero.

Based on Linux, Knoppix is an open-code system, meaning that all users have access to the program’s code and can change it at will. The Microsoft source code, which was never intended to be shared with the public, was partially leaked last week on the Web.

Knoppix has a clear advantage over Windows: it operates directly from a CD, with no need to install it on the computer's hard disk. After a brief minute’s wait, you will discover a new and amazing world – an operating system very similar to Windows with a hoard of available programs that include Open Office (a word processor, a spreadsheet, a presentation program, and more), a graphics and multimedia program, an e-mail program, and an Internet browser. The operating system even identifies Web connections and allows you to surf Hebrew sites quickly and with no need for definitions. Knoppix contains everything home users need, saving them installation work as well as hundreds of shekels, since the program can be downloaded free of charge. That is what will make Knoppix a hit, as well as a threat to Microsoft’s total control of the market for home computer operating systems. The impact on this market is likely to be significant. Despite our request, Microsoft Israel declined to comment."

 
Ben Bova
Naples Daily News: "A couple of readers have asked me to justify my claim in an earlier column that the money we taxpayers have spent on NASA has come back into the nation's economy tenfold, in the form of new technology.

They estimate that since its birth in 1958 NASA's budgets have totaled some $200 billion. Ten times that amount equals $2 trillion. Where's the $2 trillion payoff? Well, let's see. There's computers. The space program was a powerful stimulus to develop small, fast, rugged computers that went with our astronauts to the Moon and now run spacecraft such as the Spirit rover on the surface of Mars.

There's cordless power tools, needed originally by NASA because running extension cords from Cape Canaveral to the Sea of Tranquility was impractical.

There are the sensors and communications systems in hospital intensive care units, developed from life support systems for astronauts.

There are flameproof, lightweight materials that are used today by firefighters, wind surfers, skiers, etc. New metal alloys. Fuel cells that are beginning to augment gasoline engines in automobiles.

Less noticed is the management system that NASA developed to run the mammoth Apollo program. Such management techniques are an integral part of business enterprises around the world, large and small.

Does that add up to $2 trillion? Yes, with plenty to spare. Not to mention the knew knowledge that we've gained. That is priceless.

Incidentally, that $200 billion we've invested in NASA since 1958 is less than one year's budget for the Defense Department or the Department of Health and Human Services. We're getting a bargain!"

 
Ben Bova
Naples Daily News: "Years ago, when I lived in Connecticut, I was interviewed by a reporter in Honolulu over a closed satellite link.

'So what's the space program done for the average man?' he asked.

Without an instant's hesitation I replied, 'Your job, for example.'

Like that dumbfounded reporter, we tend to take the benefits we've received from space technology totally for granted and wonder why we're 'spending all that money in space.'

To begin with, the money gets spent here on Earth. It produces jobs not only for scientists and engineers, but for truck drivers and supermarket employees, for auto mechanics and house painters, for teachers and baby sitters. Economists have estimated that every dollar we spend on NASA is re-spent in the economy between five and 10 times. That's a considerable multiplier effect.

Secondly, the federal government does not spend a massive amount of money on space. I know that $12 billion or $13 billion is a lot of dollars, but compared to most federal programs, space is a small effort. Since NASA's creation in 1958 the space agency has been allocated some $200 billion total, less than the Defense Department or Health and Human Services gets in one year.

Most important, what we as taxpayers have invested in space technology has come back into the economy a thousand-fold in the form of new products and even whole new industries. Computers, satellite communications, a whole panoply of medical technologies, new materials for everything from golf clubs to flameproof clothes for firefighters "

 
The Passion capsule review
a boy and his computer - home:

Yeshua, a devout Jew living in Nazareth, is bitten by a radioactive rabbi, thereby acquiring the strength and speed of an entire yeshiva. After his father dies in a tragic accident, he vows to use his new superpowers to fight evil. Harvey Keitel reprises his role as Judas, and man, is he a bad ass. The special effects are pretty good, other than overusing the tired 'bullet time' effect from The Matrix. I give it 2.5 stars."

 
Disney filmmaking ripoff?
independent.co.uk: "Basil Williams, 50, an occasional resident of St Vincent who runs a social welfare charity in London, owns a chunk of Wallilabou Bay where much of the film was shot. He said he was approached by First Mate Productions Inc, a company he had never heard of, in 2002, who explained that they were filming a 'small project' on the island. They asked if he would be willing to rent his 3.5-acre part of the bay to them for six months. Williams explained he had a holiday cottage on his land which he rented to English people for £250 a week. He claimed the company agreed to cover this cost, even though his cottage would not be needed. But when filming started, it was used by a member of the crew.

'At first they wanted to pay me £40 a week,' he recalled. 'When they asked the price I charge for the cottage they thought I meant 250 East Caribbean dollars, of which there are five to the pound. They even used the phone in the cottage - my 80-year-old mother Keturia, who lives in St Vincent, had to chase them afterwards to pay the phone bill.

'I had no idea that Disney was involved in this,' he continued. 'I thought this was a project to benefit the island. When I found out a big Hollywood studio was involved, I realised I had been ripped off. But by then the contract had been signed.'

Gwyneth Edwards, whose land was used by the film company to park a trailer, is also unhappy with Disney. She said the £1,500 she was paid had to be spent on repairing boundary poles. 'It seems to me that Disney don't care about the people on the island,' she said.

Patricia Barnett, director of Tourism Concern, said this is not the first time that filming in 'paradise island' locations has generated controversy. The Beach, starring Leonardo Di Caprio, which was filmed on the island of Phi Phi in Thailand, was criticised for relandscaping the beach, removing natural vegetation and installing palm trees which fulfilled Western perceptions of how a paradise island should appear. 'Like the Thai government, the government of St Vincent saw a good opportunity in having filming on the island but local people are often the last people to be consulted,' she said."

 
Mars mission spawns its own unworldly lingo
SignOnSanDiego.com: PASADENA – NASA's ongoing mission to Mars has spawned some extraterrestrial jargon to accompany the out-of-this-world look at the Red Planet that its twin rovers are providing.

The language can be so dense, clipped, technical and sometimes downright goofy that only the most dedicated NASA follower could hope to understand it. It can also be remarkably studied in its details.

Take the following example:

"MER-A ratted Adirondack yestersol while solar groovy, even though it was high tau in Gusev."

Rendered in plain English, the sentence would read:

"Spirit, the first Mars exploration rover, used its rock abrasion tool to grind into a rock nicknamed for an Eastern mountain range one Mars day ago while receiving adequate power from its solar panels, even though there was a large amount of dust suspended in the martian atmosphere above its landing site, named after a 19th century Russian astronomer."

So why use Mars-speak?

The answer's obvious to those who do.

"It's faster," said Ray Arvidson, the deputy principal investigator on the $820 million mission.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, perhaps like no other bureaucracy on Earth, does complex things in complicated ways. That spills over into how it describes things.

"One of the things in the space program is people like to describe things precisely and sometimes that takes four words. And if it's not enough, they add 'system' at the end," said mission science team member Rob Sullivan.

Paring down that verbosity generates acronyms and abbreviations. Both abound in the halls of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the Mars mission for NASA.

Spirit and its twin, Opportunity are known formally as Mars Exploration Rover A and B, or MER-A ("mur-ay") and MER-B ("mur-bee.") The miniature-thermal emissions spectrometer instrument on each robot is called Mini-TES ("mini-tess.") "Pancam" is a panoramic camera.

The sometimes convoluted way of speaking is nothing new to NASA, said Gentry Lee, chief engineer of the Mars program at JPL.

On the Viking mission to Mars in the 1970s, scientists and engineers began speaking in "nested acronyms," where the individual letters of an acronym often referred not to full words but to further acronyms, Lee said.

"That is what happens on these projects," Lee said.

This time, as NASA explores Mars with two of the most complex planetary robots ever built, the language is far more calculated.

"One of the things we found early on in the design of the mission was that the team was going to need some sort of structured naming convention to help them keep track of what they were doing and what they were talking about," said Roxana Wales, a cultural psychologist on contract to NASA's Ames Research Center.

Three years ago, Wales, along with fellow psychologist Valerie Shalin, of Wright State University in Ohio, and JPL planetary geologist Deborah Bass, set out to devise such a system.

"It's kind of evolved into a whole language of its own," Bass said.

The convention dictates that features on Mars are given names suggestive of their appearance ("blanco" is a white rock) or of their function ("big dig" is a trench site). Sometimes the two can be combined in punning fashion ("mer lot" isn't just a patch of wine-dark martian soil, it's also where the Mars exploration rover Opportunity sat parked after landing.)

Specific targets within a feature are given derivative names when possible. Scientists gave patches of "mer lot" names like "asphalt" and "tarmac," Wales said.

"They're cute but they're also an easier way of remembering things than with a string of numbers," Bass said.

More abstract notions, like time, also have their own names to help scientists and engineers remember where they're working, 150 million miles away.

"Yestersol" – martian for yesterday – is one example. On Mars, a day lasts 39 minutes longer than it does on Earth and is called a "sol," Latin for "sun," to underscore the difference. "Have a good sol," "Tosol" and "morrowsol" all are in varying degrees of use.

Actions also boast specific names to eliminate confusion.

A "mini-Mini" is a brief observation made using the Mini-TES. A "driveby" is driving past a specific target and photographing it; a "scoot and shoot" is a series of "drivebys." To "scratch and sniff" is to drill into a rock and then examine it with the rover's instruments.

"The idea is you have multiple activities going on and you need one name for the whole thing," Shalin said.

For now, there's only a cheat sheet for the basic grammatical rules of Mars-speak. But scattered efforts to record new vocabulary words as they appear eventually may yield a full Mars lexicon.

"I suspect there will be a dictionary by the time we finish," Bass said.

 
Samuel's Spina Bifida Surgery In Utero
michaelclancy.com: "Story of the 'Fetal Hand Grasp' Photograph

As a veteran photojournalist in Nashville, Tennessee, I was hired by USA Today newspaper to photograph a spina bifida corrective surgical procedure. It was to be performed on a twenty-one week old fetus in utero at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. At that time, in 1999, twenty-one weeks in utero was the earliest that the surgical team would consider for surgery. The worst possible outcome would be that the surgery would cause premature delivery, and no child born earlier than twenty-three weeks had survived.

The tension could be felt in the operating room as the surgery began. A typical C-section incision was made to access the uterus, which was then lifted out and laid at the junction of the mother's thighs. The entire procedure would take place within the uterus, and no part of the child was to breach the surgical opening. During the procedure, the position of the fetus was adjusted by gently manipulating the outside of the uterus. The entire surgical procedure on the child was completed in 1 hour and thirteen minutes. When it was over, the surgical team breathed a sigh of relief, as did I.

As a doctor asked me what speed of film I was using, out of the corner of my eye I saw the uterus shake, but no one's hands were near it. It was shaking from within. Suddenly, an entire arm thrust out of the opening, then pulled back until just a little hand was showing. The doctor reached over and lifted the hand, which reacted and squeezed the doctor's finger. As if testing for strength, the doctor shook the tiny fist. Samuel held firm. I took the picture! Wow! It happened so fast that the nurse standing next to me asked, 'What happened?' 'The child reached out,' I said. 'Oh. They do that all the time,' she responded.

The surgical opening to the uterus was closed and the uterus was then put back into the mother and the C-section opening was closed.

It was ten days before I knew if the picture was even in focus. To ensure no digital manipulation of images before they see them, USA Today requires that film be submitted unprocessed. When the photo editor finally phoned me he said, 'It's the most incredible picture I've ever seen.'"

 
EATEN BY HIS PET SPIDERS
Mirror.co.uk:
Feb 27 2004
Cops' macabre find in flat
From Allan Hall In Berlin

SPIDERMAN Mark Voegel became a gruesome feast for the creepy-crawlies he loved.

They devoured his body after he got a lethal bite from his favourite pet Bettina - a deadly Black Widow.

More than 200 spiders, several snakes, a gecko called Helmut and several thousand termites gorged on their former master for days.

Police who were called in after neighbours complained about the smell said it was 'like a scene from a horror movie'.

They found the remains of 30-year-old loner Voegel draped across a sofa, covered in giant cobwebs.

'Spiders were running all over him,' said a spokesman. 'They were coming out of his nose and mouth. Larger pieces of flesh had been torn off by the lizards and were taken back to the webs of tarantulas and other bird-eating spiders.

'There were open cages and terrariums everywhere - all bathed in a weird green light. It was horrible.'

Police described Voegel's tiny apartment in the German city of Dortmund as a cross between a botanical garden and the butterfly breeding room in the serial killer movie The Silence of the Lambs.

Local expert Gabi Bayer said Voegel should never have been allowed to keep many of his pets.

She added: 'Some of his spiders are so aggressive they're the equivalent of the pit-bull in the animal world.'"

 
Outsourcing? Try 'Insourcing'
Wired News: "Chris Harry is a model employee for the U.S. call-center industry.

The 25 year-old arrives promptly at his cubicle, speaks courteously on the phone and is never late or absent. He plans to stick with his job for three years, a boon in an industry plagued by high turnover. And he gladly works for money many Americans would scoff at -- $130 or so a month.
After all, he could be back swabbing cell-block floors for a third of that.

'I can't complain about fair,' said Harry, who was sentenced to 10 years and eight months for robbery. 'I did a crime and I'm in prison. At least I'm not wearing a ball and chain.'

Prison inmates like Harry are the reason Perry Johnson Inc., a Southfield, Michigan consulting company, chose to remain in the United States rather than join a host of telemarketing companies moving offshore.

Perry Johnson had intended to move to India. But the company chose instead to open inside the Snake River Correctional Institution, a sprawling razor wire and cinder block state penitentiary a few miles west of the Idaho line."

 
Cluestick Needed
Sun-Sentinel The play praises patriotism, but the judges only saw teens cutting up an American flag.

It was enough to disqualify Archbishop McCarthy High students from a competition early this week for their performance of The Children's Story. In the play, first published in 1963 by Shogun author James Clavell, third-graders in a classroom in a United States that has been defeated by a powerful enemy, presumably Communist, cut the flag into pieces. Their new teacher tells them if the flag is so good, everyone should get a piece and tells them to hand out the shreds. It's a message about the dangers of mindless political indoctrination.

"The play is actually pro-American," said Erin Fragetta, 15, a sophomore at the southwest Broward County school who worked on the production. "It was intended to be an anti-communist message, and the judges just turned it around on us."

Zac Ensign, who acted in the play, added: "People just didn't look at what we were doing for what it was. We never intended for this to be a malicious gesture."

McCarthy was competing against 10 troupes from Broward public and private high schools at the Florida State Thespians District 13 one-act play competition at Nova High on Monday and Tuesday.

After receiving complaints about the flag cutting, co-chairman Melody Wicht, who teaches drama at Pembroke Pines Charter High, disqualified the McCarthy team.

"Some people came to me after the play and complained about the performance," Wicht said. "So I looked into it."

Wicht said she based her decision on Florida Statute 876.52, which says "Whoever publicly mutilates, defaces or tramples with intent to insult any flag ... of the United States shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree."

"I tried to stay as objective as possible as they performed," Wicht said. "My problem was that they took an American flag off the flagpole and cut it into pieces. They were disqualified based on Florida law."

Jim Usher, from American Heritage School in Plantation, one of the three judges, said while he was "grossly offended" by the flag cutting, he didn't base his rating of the play on it. He gave the play a fair rating -- the lowest -- based on overall performance, he said.

Wicht said until she hears otherwise, the disqualification will stand.

But constitutional lawyers and theater buffs say Wicht may have gone too far.

"For 10 years it's been clear that these flag desecration statutes are unconstitutional," said Bruce Rogow, a Nova Southeastern University law professor specializing in constitutional law and First Amendment rights. "What's especially ironic is that this is a pro-democracy, anti-totalitarianism play, and yet they're punished for using the flag as an example of what shouldn't be done in a totalitarian society."

Rogow cited the 1990 U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down such a statute in the case of Texas vs. Johnson.

Conservative Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the court's opinion that flag desecration is the ultimate expression of disagreement in a democracy.

 
MSN Sux
Bits & Bytes: "an e-mail sender's participation in the Bonded Sender Program does not guarantee that e-mail from that sender will be delivered to MSN Hotmail users; e-mail from such senders may still be filtered or otherwise blocked at Microsoft's sole discretion. Microsoft does not: (i) operate the Bonded Sender Program, (ii) determine which e-mail senders become certified in the Bonded Sender Program, or (iii) offer any support at all related to the Bonded Sender Program. Microsoft may discontinue use of the Bonded Sender Program at any time, without notice to MSN Hotmail users or e-mail senders. Microsoft reserves the right to not deliver any e-mail message sent to any MSN Hotmail user for any reason."

 
healthfactsandfears.com: When the media attempt to be "balanced" and present "both sides" on such an issue — even though one side has no demonstrated competence — it is understandable that the public errs on the side of avoiding what they see as a small possibility of harm. Modern techniques of genetic engineering sound a bit daring and even "unnatural" (whatever that means), so the anti-biotechnology zealots have been able to play on fears of unknown and unknowable future harm. Since no reputable scientist can give a 100% certain guarantee against all unforeseen harm, the ideologue is free to sow the seeds of fear with little substantive challenge.

Rather than lecturing people about the technology that has made their food crops possible, and how easily old technologies, too, could be made to sound scary were we not all by now familiar with it, I am trying an alternate strategy: asking people twenty questions — some of which may sound scary — that I hope will make them think more rationally about food safety. Try to answer honestly, as you would without looking at the answers:

Q1 - Would you favor mutation breeding using carcinogenic chemicals or gamma rays, or techniques such as altering the ploidy or chromosomal structure that allows the crossing of diploids and haploids?

A1 - Well, this practice has been carried out in agricultural breeding since the 1920s.

Q2 - Would you favor plant breeding tissue culture or somoclonal variation, creating a plant from a cell in a cultured medium?

A2 - It has been possible to do so since the late 1930s and has become increasingly important in plant breeding, particularly for disease resistance, since the late 1970s.

Q3 - If a breeding technique is used that produces sterile crosses for plants that would otherwise not be able to produce a viable embryo, would you favor a procedure called embryo rescue to remove an embryo before it would naturally abort and then growing it in a cultured medium?

A3 - It has been done for decades.

 
Worcester Telegram & Gazette Online - APF: "Japanese Internet company Softbank Corp. said Friday its president and six other senior executives would forgo part of their pay to take responsibility for the leakage of personal data for over 4 million of its broadband customers.

'We really don't know how to apologize,' said Softbank president Masayoshi Son at a televised news conference. The company, a global investor in Internet businesses, said it is still investigating how the information was leaked.

Japanese police this week arrested four people on suspicion of trying to extort money from Softbank after they had obtained personal data for customers of the company's broadband service.

The information on current and former subscribers - totaling 4.51 million in all - included addresses, names, e-mail addresses and phone numbers. It did not include passwords, credit card information or bank account numbers or transactions made, the company said.

Son will forgo 50 percent of his salary for six months to take responsibility, Softbank said in a statement. Six other senior officials will take similar pay cuts, the company said.

Softbank said it will spend about 4 billion yen ($36.70 million) on gift coupons for all of its customers, among other measures, to make up for the incident . The company has also promised to strengthen its data security."

 
For Exercise in New York Futility, Push Button
nytimes.comFor years, at thousands of New York City intersections, well-worn push buttons have offered harried walkers a rare promise of control over their pedestrian lives. The signs mounted above explained their purpose:

To Cross Street

Push Button

Wait for Walk Signal

Millions of dutiful city residents and tourists have pushed them over the years, thinking it would help speed them in their journeys. Many trusting souls might have believed they actually worked. Others, more cynical, might have suspected they were broken but pushed anyway, out of habit, or in the off chance they might bring a walk sign more quickly.

As it turns out, the cynics were right.

The city deactivated most of the pedestrian buttons long ago with the emergence of computer-controlled traffic signals, even as an unwitting public continued to push on, according to city Department of Transportation officials. More than 2,500 of the 3,250 walk buttons that still exist function essentially as mechanical placebos, city figures show. Any benefit from them is only imagined.

"I always push," said Réna, an employee at Long Island College Hospital in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, who was too embarrassed to give her last name after she pushed a button on Atlantic Avenue and was told the truth. "The sign says push, so I push. I think it works."

Most of the buttons scattered through the city, mainly outside of Manhattan, are relics of the 1970's, before computers began tightly choreographing traffic signal patterns on major arteries. They were installed at a time when traffic was much lighter, said Michael Primeggia, deputy commissioner of traffic operations for the city's Transportation Department.

The first "semi-actuated signal," as they are called by traffic engineers, is believed to have appeared in the city in 1964, a brainstorm of the legendary traffic commissioner, Henry Barnes, the inventor of the "Barnes Dance," the traffic system that stops all vehicles in the intersection and allows pedestrians to cross in every direction at the same time. Barnes was also instrumental in completing the one-way conversion of major avenues in New York.

Typically, they were positioned at intersections of a major thoroughfare and a minor street. The major road would have a green light until someone pressed the button or a sensor in the roadway detected a car on the minor street. Then, after 90 seconds or so, the light would change.

The goal, Mr. Primeggia said, was to make traffic flow on the major artery more efficient. The buttons made sense when traffic was generally minimal on the minor street. But as traffic grew steadily, their existence became imperiled.

 
niggardly = stingy
wilmingtonstar.com: Use of a word that sounds like a racial slur has landed a New Hanover County teacher in the middle of a controversy.

Stephanie Bell, a fourth-grade teacher at Williams Elementary School, taught the word "niggardly" to her class last week in an effort to improve her students' vocabularies.

Although the word means stingy, Akwana Walker said it was inappropriate to use it because it sounds similar to a racial slur. She said she doesn't think fourth-graders can distinguish between the two words.

"My daughter told me what that word was, and I told her not to complete that part of her homework," said Ms. Walker, who is black.

Ms. Bell, who is white, defended her choice of the word and said she didn't mean to offend anyone. She has already sent home letters of apology with her students, as her principal instructed.

The word came up Aug. 20 during a comparison of two characters from different stories. One character was a Hispanic girl; the other was a white boy. The class talked briefly about the proper words to use when describing a person's race, Ms. Bell said.

Then, the class discussed other ways to describe people. One child described the boy as stingy.

Ms. Bell said she thought this would be a good chance to find a word for the day, a practice she has used this year.

"The idea for the word of the day is to pick part of the curriculum or something you can extend from it," she said.

She began looking for a synonym for "stingy." The children's dictionary offered "self-centered." But Ms. Bell said most of the children already knew that word.

That's when she landed on the word "niggard." She added the "-ly" because the class was studying adverbs. Ms. Bell explained the meaning of the word and told the students how to use it in a sentence, something they would have to do on their spelling tests to gain extra points.

"And that was it," she said. "These words for the day are used solely as extra credit. They have to use the word in a sentence that shows they understand the meaning."

Her students did that on their vocabulary tests, she said.

A few days later, Ms. Bell received a letter from Ms. Walker saying the word was not allowed in her house, no matter what it means.

"Common sense tells you not to put a word like that on the board," Ms. Walker said.

Ms. Walker met with Ms. Bell and the school's principal, Susan Hahn, Thursday. As a result, Ms. Walker's daughter, Gabrielle, has been moved to another class.

In addition to the apology sent home Friday, Ms. Bell has agreed not to use the word again in her class. A counselor will meet with Ms. Bell's students.

Ms. Walker doesn't think that's enough. She wants Ms. Bell removed from her teaching position.

Norm Shearin, deputy superintendent for the New Hanover County Schools, said Friday the principal is dealing with the situation.

"Our position is that it was an inappropriate action in terms of using that word at that grade level, in that context," he said. ". It was a bad choice."

This isn't the first time the word has stirred controversy. In 1999, for instance, an employee in the Washington, D.C., mayor's office resigned after being accused of using a racial slur. He had used the word "niggardly" during a conversation about funding.

Ms. Bell said she was sorry the word offended someone, but she wants people to understand that "niggardly" is an appropriate word.

"If these children read it, they are going to need to know what they are reading," she said. "My concern is that we are treading a fine line here. . What word do we take out next?"

William Whalen, whose daughter also is in Ms. Bell's class, said he thinks the situation has been blown out of proportion. Mr. Whalen is white.

"One mother was offended because she took that word to mean something it didn't mean," he said. "Ms. Bell apologized. That was sufficient."

He added his daughter has encountered the word when reading The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

"She's a good teacher," Mr. Whalen said. "I don't think she had any ulterior motives. . It's a word. That's all it is."

Sherry Jones: 343-2378
sherry.jones@wilmingtonstar.com

 
Islamic ritual took 251 lives
Commentary, February 6, 2004 : "An Islamic ritual known as the 'hajj' took 251 lives at the beginning of February in Mina, Saudi Arabia, when a crowd stampeded while 'stoning the devil.' But this isn't the only time this same event has brought tragedy; it seems to be part of the hysteria and uncontrolled behavior that haunts this religious event. In March of 2001, 35 people were killed in the same devil-stoning ritual, in April of 1998, some 180 pilgrims were trampled to death when they fell off an overpass during the stoning ritual. In April, 1997, another 343 people died when they were trapped in tents as fire ripped through the tent city of Mina, and 1,500 were injured. Another stampede in May, 1994, produced 270 deaths, and in July of 1990, in the worst-ever hajj-related tragedy, 1,426 pilgrims were killed in a stampede in a pedestrian tunnel in Mecca.

These people were performing a ritual which is considered a holy act, one that brings great virtue and blessings to those involved. And death to at least 2,500 of them in 14 years...?"

 
Reason: "Migran Changulyan and 13 others have been charged by the state of California with fraud and face up to eight years in prison each. What did they do? They recycled cans and bottles, reported the Los Angeles Times. California forces consumers to pay a deposit on beverages sold in glass, plastic, or aluminum containers. That deposit can be redeemed at state collection centers. But Changulyan and others are charged with buying bottles and cans in Mexico and states that don't charge a deposit and bringing them to California to collect money. Discarded aluminum cans can be had elsewhere for about $950 a ton and then sold in California for about $2,490 a ton. Plastic bottles sold for $90 a ton out of state brought $910 in California."

 
At USDA, the Mouse Is in the House
(washingtonpost.com): "Employees at the Department of Agriculture's main cafeteria were just sitting down to lunch on Friday when security guards ordered everyone in the huge eatery to leave.

Al Qaeda? Bomb scare? No. Mouse droppings. The D.C. Department of Health closed the cafeteria for failing to pass inspection.

Yes, the USDA, home to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the meat and poultry inspectors -- the agency that is part of the federal system for protecting the nation's food supply, was in violation of the D.C. Health Code.

There were several citations, according to the inspection report, including: 'water leaking excessively' in the ceiling, employees not wearing hair restraints, and inadequate cleaning of the inside of ice machines, cabinets, surfaces and equipment.

The biggest problem, however, seemed to be mouse droppings found everywhere -- in the dry storage room, by the salad bar, behind the ovens, near the serving line, behind the soda machines. There were dead mice in one trap. The rodents can cause some serious diseases.

'These conditions make people sick,' said Theodore J. Gordon, senior deputy director for environmental health science and regulation for the D.C. health department. 'It's inexcusable for these conditions to be allowed,' he said. 'This is just basic sanitation. This is elbow grease -- it doesn't cost money. People are entitled to safe food.'

The cafeteria, which feeds many hundreds of employees each day for breakfast and lunch and afternoon noshes, is more important for employees at USDA than cafeterias at other agencies because there are few commercial alternatives nearby."

 
Attitude adjustment at TSA
The Washington Times: " Two other aspects of the TSA's new guidelines, however, are perhaps even more outrageous than the manner in which they can levy and increase the fines in the first instance.

A fine of up to $1,500 can be levied (after the fact, of course) against an air traveler for something called 'nonphysical interference with screening.' What is that? Looking at the screener the wrong way? Failing to jump high enough when told to jump? Or maybe, just maybe, 'nonphysical interference with screening' consists of a bad 'attitude'; perhaps failing to greet a screener with appropriate deference or subservience as she arbitrarily forces you to disrobe publicly or submit to an additional, 'random' inspection?

No kidding. The TSA is asserting the right and the power to fine you, a law-abiding American citizen or lawful visitor to this great land, simply because its employees don't like your 'attitude.' One of eight 'aggravating factors' listed in the new Guidelines is the 'attitude of violator.' Of course, you may not know until long after you've departed the airport, landed and gone on home, that your 'attitude' sufficiently rankled some TSA employee after they found an item of contraband mistakenly left in your carry-on, such as to warrant a hefty fine.

Remember, we're not talking of deliberately bringing weapons through a security checkpoint. That would be a criminal offense "

 
Confessions of a Welfare Queen: How rich bastards like me rip off taxpayers for millions of dollars
by John Stossel:
"Ronald Reagan memorably complained about 'welfare queens,' but he never told us that the biggest welfare queens are the already wealthy. Their lobbyists fawn over politicians, giving them little bits of money -- campaign contributions, plane trips, dinners, golf outings -- in exchange for huge chunks of taxpayers' money. Millionaires who own your favorite sports teams get subsidies, as do millionaire farmers, corporations, and well-connected plutocrats of every variety. Even successful, wealthy TV journalists.

That's right, I got some of your money too."

 
Darwin Award
Spit contest ends with deadly fall: "OTTAWA -- A Carleton University engineering student participating in a spitting contest with friends plunged 11 floors off a downtown highrise to his death late Saturday night. Ameer 'AJ' Jinah was celebrating his 20th birthday in his apartment with about a dozen friends when the accident happened about 11 p.m.

Police said it appears Jinah took a running start to try to spit farther than his two friends when he unintentionally vaulted himself over the balcony railing.

'It was purely accidental,' said Ottawa police Sgt. Joe Simpson. 'Momentum carried him beyond.'

Police said alcohol was being consumed at the party.

'STARTED SCREAMING'

Apartment building security guard Jason Armstrong who was working Saturday night said he heard a thud and immediately knew something was wrong.

'Two ladies came in and started screaming for me to call 911,' said Armstrong, adding a group of about eight of Jinah's friends rushed to his side.

Armstrong, who had known Jinah for about eight months, said he was surprised to learn the circumstances surrounding his death.

'He was one of the smartest, most polite guys I ever met in my life,' he said. 'I think he was one of the classiest guys. He had a maturity beyond his age.'"

 
Take a Segway tour of Paris, France
parissegwaytours.com: "Imagine crusing effortlessly through the parks and sidewalks of Paris while receiving a great orientation, informative historical and current-day information, heaps of unique and fascinating stories, fantastic photo ops and superb personal service from your guide. The Segway is the first of its kind—a self-balancing, personal transportation device that's designed to operate in any pedestrian environment. It's new, it's cool and a ton of fun!

Our 4-5 hour tours are limited to 7 clients with 1 guide so you can count on a great, intimate experience. Discover what it's like to be a Parisian celebrity as everyone, and we mean everyone, turns to watch us glide by!

Paris Segway Tours is proud to be the first guided tour using Segways in the world! Be sure you glide with the original."

 
BW Online | March 1, 2004 | Software:
"As Stephen and Deepa emerge this summer from graduate school -- one in Pittsburgh, the other in Bombay -- they'll find that their decisions of a half-decade ago placed their dreams on a collision course. The Internet links that were being pieced together at the turn of the century now provide broadband connections between multinational companies and brainy programmers the world over.
For Deepa and tens of thousands of other Indian students, the globalization of technology offers the promise of power and riches in a blossoming local tech industry.
But for Stephen and his classmates in the U.S., the sudden need to compete with workers across the world ushers in an era of uncertainty. Will good jobs be waiting for them when they graduate?
'I might have been better served getting an MBA,' Stephen says."

 
NEW YORK NIGHTLIFE ASSOCIATION
nyna.org:

Key Provisions of the New Proposed Post 1AM Nightlife Law:

1. - While establishments would no longer need a Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) license to permit dancing, it will remain illegal for patrons to dance everywhere it is currently illegal. This is because the zoning, building and fire safety laws that also govern where dancing can take place are not being changed. The dance police will remain!

2. - Over 1000 bars and lounges and late night restaurants that do not currently need a cabaret license will need the new post -1:00 AM nightlife license. This will be an additional license to your liquor license and Health Department license, along with new fees, regulations, hearings, and fines with which you will have to contend.

3. - While the cabaret license made establishments responsible only for what occurred inside their establishments, this new late night license will make you responsible for what goes on outside on the street, as a condition to keeping your license. 3 tickets of certain types in 2 years can result in your place being padlocked for up to 10 days, and 6 tickets of these types in 2 years and your license will be revoked. This includes some sanitation tickets, some noise tickets, and loud or unruly people on the sidewalk.

4. - The standards of responsibility for what occurs inside your establishment is dramatically changed. Previously, the standard was "did you make a good faith effort" to control patrons, prevent bad behavior, etc. This proposal states that if two individuals (that means patrons, owners or workers) in a two (2) year period, are indicted or charged (not convicted) for fighting, or for mere possession of a knife or other items that can be considered a weapon, over capacity, sale to minor and other types of incidents in any combination of two, your license is revoked - - permanently.

5. - To obtain this new post 1:00 AM nightlife license, you will have to hire a certified sound engineer, even if you have never had a noise violation, who will test your space for compliance with the City's noise code. If you do not comply - - or make the sometimes expensive changes needed in old buildings to comply - - you cannot get the license and would have to close at 1:00 AM.

6. - DCA will now be the noise police, authorized to issue violations under the noise code, or violations that your interior volume is too high, even if there is no noise code violation or proof that your establishment is causing noise problems for yoru neightbors.

7. - These same violations issued to businesses that do not need the late-night license will carry only fines, but for Nightlife licensees the penalty is revocation of your license, forcing you to close at 1:00 AM or go out of business.

 
'Mr Ferrer can't be with us tonight'
Guardian Unlimited: "The results of all this seem pretty clear. As Opera America's Scorca puts it: 'These procedures are leading to diminished exposure of American audiences to great artists and making it harder for US artists to get work abroad.' But the stakes, many believe, are even higher than that. 'Art is cultural diplomacy,' says Sandra Gibson, president of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters in Washington, which lobbies Congress and USCIS on behalf of hundreds of members. 'And it's just as important as it was during the cold war. It's as important as when [pianist] Van Cliburn went to the Soviet Union to perform and changed Khrushchev's mind about the United States.' "

 
The Complete Guide to Googlemania!
Wired 12.03: "They named their new search engine Google, for the biggest number they could imagine. But it wasn't big enough. Today Google's a library, an almanac, a settler of bets. It's a parlor game, a dating service, a shopping mall. It's a Microsoft rival. It's a verb. At more than 200 million requests a day, it is, by far, the world's biggest search engine. And now, on the eve of a very public stock offering, it's cast as savior, a harbinger of rebirth in the Valley. How can it be so many things? It's Goooooooooogle."

 
New York Driver Nabbed While Watching Porn Movie
Yahoo! News: "ALBANY, N.Y. (Reuters) - Andre Gainey found out the hard way that in the state of New York it's illegal to drive while watching porn.

Police said the 35-year old man from Clifton Park, New York, was watching a adult movie called 'Chocolate Foam' on Tuesday night while driving his Mercedes Benz in the town of Schenectady when he was spotted by an officer at a stop light.

Police spokesman Pete Frizoni said detectives pulled Gainey over when they saw the movie playing on screens embedded in the car's headrests. When they confronted him, they saw another screen in the passenger-side visor was facing Gainey, allowing him to watch the movie while driving.

The case is thought to be the first of its kind in New York, said Joe Pichi, a spokesman for the for the state's Department of Motor Vehicles.

'Our biggest problem is illegal cell phone use while driving,' Pichi said. 'Drivers should be driving.'

Gainey was charged with a public display of offensive material, driving with a suspended license and driving while watching a television. He compounded his legal woes by giving a false name when he was fingerprinted, prompting police to add a charge of forgery.

He is scheduled to appear in court on March 17."

 
Learn Writing with Uncle Jim
www.ezboard.com: "It strikes me that there's a need for a thread on the art and craft of writing commercial novels.

To that end, I'd like to start that discussion. I plan to put down my thoughts on the elements of professional-quality fiction. I'll answer questions, and go where ever the discussion leads. I'll do some notes on the business of writing too.

Here are my qualifications for starting this topic:

My bibliography
A workshop I help teach every year.
My mutant talent is to make my opinions sound like facts.
I have two basic rules: everything that's said should be true, and everything should be helpful.

There's one other thing that needs to be said, McIntyre's First Law: Under the right circumstances anything I tell you can be wrong."

 
The special effect of physics
PhysicsWeb: Feature: February 2004

From Hollywood blockbusters to the design of aircraft cockpits, the visual-effects industry relies on tracing the path of light to create scenes that do not and may never exist

Optical physics
From the dawn of history people have tried to convey to others an impression of the mental images they see in their mind's eye. We have come a long way since the Renaissance times of Albrecht D�rer and his attempts to use Euclid's mathematical methods as a basis for painting. Today, movie directors want to make us believe that worlds that never were and never will be are as real as our living room. One is well advised to remember, however, that 'movie physics' is an approximation of reality, and that it may differ substantially from the real world if artistic vision or viewing conventions demand it."

 
3 Muslims sentenced in Portland
billingsgazette.com: "PORTLAND, Ore. - Three Muslim men from Portland who tried, but failed, to enter Afghanistan as Taliban foot soldiers, voiced profound regret for their actions, as a federal judge sentenced them to prison Monday.

The Palestinian-born Maher 'Mike' Hawash, 39, a former Intel software engineer received seven years in prison, while the Bilal brothers - Ahmed, 25, and Muhammad, 23 - were sentenced to 10 and eight years, respectively.

The sentencing caps a saga that began shortly after Sept. 11, when the three, inflamed by what they described as the unfair targeting of Afghanistan by U.S. forces, created a volunteer militia, known as Katibat Al-Mawt, or 'The Squad of Death.'

Along with three other Portland residents, they traveled to western China and tried to enter Afghanistan, but were turned away at the border.

The group became known as the 'Portland Seven,' after the FBI uncovered their actions and arrested them, along with one of their wives, in October 2002.

All three of those sentenced Monday were given reduced terms because of their cooperation with authorities - especially Hawash, who offered information which helped prosecutors tag 18-year sentences on two other members of the cell.

'I do not blame anybody else except myself,' Hawash said in court. 'It's something I have done that was completely out of my character.'

Behind him, a row of his former Intel co-workers, many of whom had once stood on the steps of the federal courthouse proclaiming his innocence, wiped away tears.

Federal agents arrested Hawash last March and held him for five weeks as a material witness before filing charges against him, prompting a 'Free Mike Hawash' campaign.

Neither of the Bilal brothers addressed the judge directly. Their lawyers described them as having 'tried to make amends.'"

also see this

 
Hillary Clinton being a harmfull idiot
Philip Greenspun's Weblog:: "After some rich New Yorkers got killed on a helicopter sightseeing flight in Hawaii, Hillary Clinton leaned on the FAA to tighten regulations regarding such tours. In particular she wants the FAA to eliminate the ability of flightseeing companies to operate under 'Part 91' (simple) and force them to operate under Part 135 of the regulations, which is designed for small airlines basically. This will put about 700 companies out of the air tour business by the FAA's estimate. It is unclear that it will increase safety because (a) most of the big helicopter flightseeing operations are already Part 135 (gives them the ability to take people farther than 25 nautical miles), (b) most of the people who've been killed on air tours were killed by Part 135 operators, and (c) helicopters tend to be unsafe, even when piloted by experts.

Basically because some rich people got killed in a $1 million Part 135 helicopter Hillary Clinton wants to wipe out mom-and-pop air tour operators who fly little float planes or biplanes under Part 91. The FAA has no statistics to show that the proposed regulations will make anyone safer and indeed hardly anyone gets killed on fair-weather airplane tours. "

 
Mistaken Arrests Leave Pr. George's Murder Unsolved
(washingtonpost.com) For nearly a year after Denise Mansfield was strangled in her Prince George's County home last June, police focused their investigation on three female suspects whose identities were a mystery. A surveillance camera videotaped them getting cash from an automated teller machine where Mansfield's missing debit card was used after her slaying. The time of the withdrawal from the dead woman's account, recorded by a bank computer, corresponded to the times stamped on the ATM video of the suspects.

But who were they?

Detectives finally got the answer in late March, after the Fox television program "America's Most Wanted" aired still images from the video and a viewer called the show to say he recognized the three. They were Virginia Shelton, 46; her daughter, Shirley, 16; and one of Shirley's friends, Jennifer Starkey, 17, all of Sierra Vista, Ariz. Shelton, a Wal-Mart clerk, and the two girls, both high school students, had been in the Washington area visiting Shelton's mother when Mansfield, 45, was killed.

On April 22, during lengthy interrogations by Prince George's detectives at the Sierra Vista police station, the three readily agreed that they were pictured in the video and acknowledged using the ATM at a SunTrust Bank near Mansfield's home in Mitchellville. In recent interviews with The Washington Post, however, they said they told the detectives again and again that they had not used a stolen card and knew nothing about a killing. Nevertheless, each was charged with first-degree murder.

Yet they had done nothing wrong.

The Arizona suspects were just the latest of five innocent people to be jailed and eventually exonerated in a homicide case that remains unsolved, hampered for months by investigative mistakes. The Sheltons and Starkey, who were held for three weeks before being freed, allege that Prince George's detectives were carelessly overzealous and that police obtained arrest warrants for them by lying in a court affidavit, saying the three admitted in interrogations that they had used the victim's debit card.

"To be honest, I think they just wanted somebody to lock up," Virginia Shelton said. "I couldn't believe the way detectives work. Our justice system is no good. We have a Constitution, and they don't follow it."

The biggest mistake in the case, which came to light after the three Arizona residents were arrested April 22, was the faulty assumption that the bank's transaction computer and the ATM camera kept synchronized time. As it turns out, they did not. Although the Sheltons and Starkey, on the videotape, seemed to be standing at the teller machine at the same time $200 was withdrawn from Mansfield's account, the three actually got money from the ATM several minutes earlier, with legitimate cards, a prosecutor has determined.

Transaction records for the cards used by Starkey and the Sheltons show that the three were at the ATM earlier than the time stamped on the video. Detectives had those records on the day of the interrogations, but it is unclear whether they closely examined them before making the arrests. If they did study the records, they overlooked or disregarded key information.

The murder charges were dropped only after Starkey's father took it upon himself to gather his own copy of the records, then fly from Arizona to Maryland and ask a Prince George's prosecutor to review the records.

 
Retrosexual
Frizzen Sparks: Ok folks, I have had it. I've taken all I can stands and I can't stands no more.
Every time my TV is on, all that can be seen is effeminate men redecortaing houses, talking about foreign concepts like "style", and "fixing" guys like myself. (If you haven't read it yet, go NOW and read Kim du Toit's "Pussification of the western male" essay.)
Real men of the world, stand up, scratch your ass, belch, and yell "ENOUGH!"
I hearby announce the start of a new offensive in the culture wars, the Retrosexual
movement. (I googled "retrosexual" and got a few references, but I hearby officially steal the phrase. Mweh!)

The Code

A Retrosexual, no matter what the women insists, PAYS FOR THE GODDAMN DATE.

A Retrosexual opens doors for a lady. Even for the ones that fit that term only because they are female.

A Retrosexual DEALS with shit. Be it a flat tire, break-in into your home, or a natural disaster, you FUCKING DEAL WITH IT.

A Retrosexual not only eats red meat, he often kills it himself.

A Retrosexual doesn't worry about living to be 90. It's not how long you live, but how well. If you're 90 years old and still smoking cigars and drinking, I salute you.

A Retrosexual does not use more hair or skin products than a woman. Women have several supermarket aisles of stuff. Retrosexuals need an endcap (possibly 2 endcaps if you include shaving goods.)

A Retrosexual does not dress in clothes from Hot Topic when he's 30 years old (Yes, Contagion, I'm lookin' at you)

A Retrosexual should know how to properly kill stuff (or people) if need be. This falls under the "dealing with shit" portion of The Code.

A Retrosexual watches no TV show with "Queer" in the title.

A Retrosexual does not let neighbors fuck up rooms in his house on national TV.

A Retrosexual should not give up excessive amounts of manliness for poontang. Some is inevitable, but major re-invention of yourself will only lead to you becoming a froo-froo little puss, and in the long run, she ain't worth it.

A Retrosexual is allowed to seek professional help for major mental stress such as drug/alcohol addiction, death of your entire family in a freak treechipper accident, favorite sports team being moved to a different city etc. You are NOT allowed to see a shrink because Daddy didn't pay you enough attention. Daddy was busy DEALING WITH SHIT. When you fucked up, he DEALT with you. Buck up pussy.

A Retrosexual will have at least one outfit in his wardrobe designed to conceal himself from prey.

A Retrosexual knows how to tie a fucking windsor knot when wearing a tie (There, Contagion, that made up for the Hot Topic crack)

A Retrosexual does not strip naked, get into a sweat lodge, and bang on drums to bond with other guys. That shit is gay.
However dressing in kilts, banging on drums around a campfire, and drinking heavily is just fine.

A Retrosexual should have at least one good wound he can brag about getting. (If not, he can borrow some from my friend Daniel, who has enough
wound stories to last for 3 lifetimes)

A Retrosexual knows how to use a basic set of tools. If you can't hammer a damn nail, or drill a straight hole, practice in secret until you can or be rightfully ridiculed for the wuss you be.

A Retrosexual's asshole is an exit ramp on the road of life. Ladies, contrary to what Cosmo says, spontaneously sticking a finger back there is a good way to be launched off the bed (or if Hooters hotwings have been recently consumed, lose a finger). Make you a deal, we won't mess with yours unless you want us to, and you won't mess with ours period.

A Retrosexual will buy feminine hygine products if he has to, but only under protest. This falls under unpleasant things you have to fucking DEAL with. Get some Hagen-Daas while your at it.

A Retrosexual gives a lady his seat on the bus/subway/etc.

A Retrosexual does not order an apple martini at the bar. A Martini has fucking gin and vermouth in it dammit. And maybe an olive. In fact, why not just get a beer and a shot of scotch??

A Retrosexual knows that owning a gun is not a sign that your are riddled with fear, or are trying to make up for a small penis. Massage and cunnilingus skills are the way to make up for a small penis, guns are fucking TOOLS and are often essential to DEAL with shit. Plus it's just damnned fun to shoot.


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