Saturday Night Songfest

A quick rundown of some of what I have been listening to this evening:

Fire- Ohio Players
Satisfy My Soul- Bob Marley
Tracks Of My Tears-Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
Ramble On- Led Zeppelin
Heroes- David Bowie
The Wanderer- Dion
Mighty Quinn (Quinn the Eskimo)-Manfred Mann
Why does my heart feel so bad-Moby
Latika's Theme- Slumdog Millionaire
The Winner Takes It All- Abba
The Memory of Trees- Enya
I Can Love You Like That-John Michael Montgomery

LA and California- Teetering on the Edge

I am a rare breed, a native Angeleno. Born and bred in the City of Angels I am none too pleased to read stories like Death of the California Dream and The Decline of Los Angeles.

It is not because I am fiercely protective of home, I am. But because it is bad for my friends and family and I'd argue bad for America.

I suppose that after making such a statement I should spend some time elucidating why this is so. And in truth I had every intention of doing so but I find myself struggling to do so. It is not that I cannot provide the support, I just don't have the inclination. I find myself fighting through a bit of a funk and the analysis portion of the evening is suffering.

So let's compromise and I'll do my best to give it a shot. We'll work backwards and spend a few minutes talking about Los Angeles. In spite of the stereotypes about here, there is much more than Hollywood and a million plastic surgeons.

People may claim that LA lacks culture but the reality is different. There are museums, there are theaters, there is a symphony and a gallimaufry of restaurants to choose from. And of course there is the proximity to the beach, the mountains and the desert.

The end result is that the city has some amazing things to offer and I feel privileged to have partaken of so many different things.

Kotkin is correct that a dysfunctional city government has made it very tough for businesses to survive here to our detriment. It is not an impossible situation. It is not something that we cannot recover from, but some it is going to take some doing.

And part of that doing has to do with what happens in Sacramento. The governor be it Arnold or whomever has to find a way along with the legislature to stop the bleeding. The exodus of business from the Golden State is a symptom of the disease.

In addition to devising a viable solution to the business issue the state needs to reaffirm its commitment to education. As a public school graduate I was part of a school system that was considered to be among the best in the nation. That is not the case now.

These are not insurmountable challenges, but they are formidable ones. My recipe for success is simple. What I want to see is:
  • Stop existing businesses from leaving the state.
  • Encourage entrepreneurs to start the next Google here in California.
  • Provide affordable housing near outstanding public schools.

The bigger question is how to make all these things happen. We have the raw tools and resources to fix things, I wonder if we'll do it.

Goodbye Paul Harvey

I have a lot of memories of riding in the car with my folks and listening to Paul Harvey. And now you can read "the rest of the story."
"(CNN) -- Paul Harvey, the legendary radio host whose career sharing "the rest of the story" with listeners spanned more than 70 years, has died, according to ABC Radio Networks.

He was 90.

Known for his deliberate delivery and pregnant pauses, Harvey's broadcasts were heard on over 1,200 radio stations and 400 Armed Forces networks and his commentaries appeared in 300 newspapers, according to his Web

He had been hosting his radio shows part-time for much of the past year, after recovering from physical ailments including pneumonia and the death of his wife, Lynne "Angel" Harvey in May 2008."

Exercise the Jedi Way

Earlier this week I succumbed to the Dark Side of the force. I was tooling down the 101 when I was cut off by a Mercedes whose driver was more engrossed in her cellphone conversation than upon driving.

So I extended my arm and used the Force to take the entire car apart piece by piece. Ok, I didn't really do that, but I thought about it. I thought about it the same way I wished that I could use the Jedi Mind Trick to get out of a jam.

Somewhere in the archives is a post in which I describe my love for Star Wars and how my son has come to love it as well. Throughout the week we have mock light saber fights. It is kind of fun, we chase each other through the house pretending to be powerful Jedis.

But the big difference is that he is a little bit older than eight and I am just a hair short of 40. His little sister thinks it is hysterical to see her old man do somersaults and all sorts of other crazy gymnastic moves. When I started doing handstand pushups against the wall she really thought I was nuts.

Anyhoo, who knew that someone had taken the time to turn the Jedi way into exercise classes:

Thanks to a "Star Wars" enthusiast who goes by the moniker "Master Flynn," the Jedi workout is the new way to fight the battle of the bulge. And now gym-shy geeks everywhere can finally fulfill their dreams of getting droid-like rock-hard abs.

Flynn was on the set Wednesday sharing his moves — including the Rebound, Follow-through and the Lock — with the TODAY family, who were all cloaked and armed with lightsabers.

Flynn, 38, started New York Jedi in 2005 after staging a fight with lightsabers at a Halloween parade in New York's Greenwich Village.

"I had the idea to do a fight scene with my friends on the parade route. People were so impressed when they saw what we were doing, and they wanted to know where they could learn to move the way we did," said New York's resident Yoda.

After putting up a forum on his Web site,, Flynn says people from all over the world were asking questions and sharing information to better their own lightsaber skills.

The Force for fitnessIn early 2006, Flynn decided to teach a class on the art of lightsaber
battling, incorporating storytelling and choreography. The class started out with just a handful of students, but now has 30 to 40 people attending twice a week for two-hour sessions in New York. Word of mouth made the class so popular that Flynn also started, and has partners teaching classes in Los Angeles.

"This was never meant to be a fitness thing," said Flynn. "The class was about appreciating swordsmanship and performance."

Israel On College Campuses

Many Jewish college students have been struggling with the way Israel is treated on campus. It is becoming more common for adversaries of the state to hold anti-Israel demonstrations and activities on campus.

Quite a few of these activities are not friendly gatherings of students handing out flowers and suggesting that we just give peace a chance. Many are populated by rampant antisemitic commentary and false accusations about the misdeeds of Israel. Counter demonstrators routinely tell stories of being threatened, intimidation is routine.

The demonstrations rarely are balanced. You don't attend them to hear speakers present both sides. They are hate rallies in which the speakers do their best to whip the crowd into a frenzy. They are part of a movement that is doing its best to delegitimize Israel and make it untenable to voice dissent for fear of repurcussions.

UCLA professor Judea Pearl wrote an essay that is worth reading.

...when an e-mail from a colleague at Indiana University asked: “Being at UCLA, you must know about this symposium ... pretty bad.” Attached to it was Roberta Seid’s report on the now famous “Human Rights and Gaza” symposium held a day earlier at UCLA (see “UCLA Symposium on Gaza Ignites Strong Criticism,” Jewish Journal, Feb. 11, 2009).

To refresh readers’ memory, this symposium, organized by UCLA’s Center for Near East Studies (CNES), was billed as a discussion of human rights in Gaza. Instead, the director of the center, Susan Slyomovics, invited four longtime demonizers of Israel for a panel that Seid describes as a reenactment of a “1920 Munich beer hall.” Not only did the panelists portray Hamas as a guiltless, peace-seeking, unjustly provoked organization, they also bashed Israel, her motives, her character, her birth and conception and led the excited audience into chanting “Zionism is Nazism,” “F—-, f—- Israel,” in the best tradition of rhino liturgy.

Point of information: In the late 90's I worked on campus at UCLA and have a few stories of my own about what was happening then. I was confronted several times by male students who suggested that it wasn't safe for me to disagree with them. Perhaps I'll share more about this later.

Pearl continues on and suggests that Jewish faculty members should have anticipated this and done more to try and help to steer the conversation so that it wasn't so one sided. He writes about the many dilemmas presented by a society that tries to protect rocket launching terrorists and decries self defense.

And he discusses how it has become harder to be an outspoken Zionist for fear of the repurcussions.

These are dilemmas that had not surfaced before the days of rockets and missiles, and we, the Jewish faculty, ought to have pioneered their study. Instead, we allowed Hamas’ sympathizers to frame the academic agenda. How can we face our students from the safety of our offices when they deal with anti-Israel abuse on a daily basis — in the cafeteria, the library and the classroom — and as alarming reports of mob violence are arriving from other campuses (San Jose State University, Spartan Daily, Feb. 9, and York University, Globe and Mail, Feb. 13)?

Burdened with guilt, I called some colleagues, but quickly realized that a few have already made the shift to a strange-sounding language, not unlike “Honk, Honk.” Some have entered the debate phase, arguing over the rhino way of life vs. the human way of life, and the majority, while still speaking in a familiar English vocabulary, are frightened beyond anything I have seen at UCLA in the 40 years that I have served on its faculty.

Colleagues told me about lecturers whose appointments were terminated, professors whose promotion committees received “incriminating” letters, and about the impossibility of revealing one’s pro-Israel convictions without losing grants, editorial board membership, or invitation to panels and conferences. And all, literally all, swore me into strict secrecy — we have entered the era of “the new Maranos.”

I am sad to say that I wasn't surprised by any of this. It is not so long since I was producing daily updates about the War in Gaza. In return I was repeatedly attacked on the blog and via email with some of the most hateful speech I can think of. I was called a racist and a nazi. I was told that the world would be a better place if I died.

People did their best to try and intimidate me. Intimidation is a central part of their tactics. It is what they do best. If you don't toe the party line, if you dare deviate then you are attacked from every angle. Physical threats combined with attempts to ostracize you socially and professionally.

I'll continue to advocate fair and balanced of criticism of all countries. Israel can and should be criticized. But when the Anti-Israel crowd continues to include epithets suggesting that Jews should go to the gas chambers and similar hate speech it is impossible to accept their claims that their criticism is not antisemitic. These types of attacks are attacks on all of us and must be opposed.

Unless we take action we are going to read more stories about intimidation at the universities. It is past time to draw a line in the sand and hold the universities accountable for activities that take place under their purview.

Crossposted on Yourish.

P.S. for those who are interested here is a link to some resources you can use to help educate people.

Attacked By A Dragon- He Lives to Fight Another Day

Ok, this guy's day officially qualifies as being worse than mine. But I will say that the beast is lucky he didn't find me or I'd have sixteen new pairs of boots and a belt.

"A park ranger in Indonesia needed more than 30 stitches after he was attacked by a komodo dragon.

The giant reptile managed to climb into a hut where 46-year-old Main was sitting at his desk.

The attack happened on Rinca, one of three islands where the world's largest lizard can be found in the wild.

Main, who like many Indonesians uses only one name, wrestled with the komodo dragon until it let go.

He fled out a window as colleagues rushed to his aid, using wooden sticks to drive the lizard out of the hut."

Jack Rants

No one really wants to listen to me rant and rave, but I feel better.

My Internet Connection

I think that I am going to send a note to AT&T to remind them I pay for Broadband and not dial up Internet service.

That means that I am supposed to have a constant connection to the net that allows pages to load at a speed that exceeds 24.4 Baud or even 56k.

My Fountain of Youth

In one of our ten thousand discussions the Shmata Queen and I spoke about the beauty of aging. We compared notes about the benefits of aging, the sudden appearance of aches and pains and a dozen other new developments.

That wacky woman made the usual crack about how men don't appreciate what pregnancy and childbirth do to woman's body and how in some ways we have it easier. Of course she also expressed how she would do it over again a million times, but that is a different story.

Anyway as has become apparent to anyone who reads this blog I am wrestling with aging gracefully. It is a bigger struggle than I like to admit, but that is because I am feeling less than satisfied with a number of things. Some of them are things that I have control over and some I can't do a damn thing about.

So as to avoid being a complete hypocrite I am working on changing the things that I have control over. In particular I am less than pleased with my fitness. If you look at this picture of me at 20 you will see a man with a full head of hair and a rock solid body. That physique was the result of hours of swimming, weight lifting and general exercise.

In other words it took a lot of hard work to reach that point. (Side note, I didn't put the picture up and I am not going to.) In truth it took years to get there. I wasn't ever heavy as a kid. I played a ton of sports and more often than not spent hours outside.

I mention that because when I get frustrated that I can't fit into the jeans I wore in college I need to remember a few things. Twenty years later I don't exercise like I used to. In part that is because I simply cannot. I don't have the time. Life and the responsibilities of father/husband won't allow me to spend the same amount of time on myself.

Add the joy of a metabolism that doesn't work as well as it used to and you have your recipe for looking less like Charles Atlas and more like the Michelin Man.

But because I am determined to change this I have committed to finding more time to exercise and to becoming smarter about how I do it. I have to be better than I was, at least in the sense of making the most of my time.

I also have to contend with some of the changes that the years have brought down upon me. One of the things that I have done is I have begun foam roller exercises. I haven't been doing them for very long but am exceptionally pleased with the results. Slowly but surely I am working out kinks that just didn't disappear. If things continue to progress like this I expect that I am going to find that my progress into improved health accelerates.

And that my friends is a goal worth working for. Exercise is going to serve as my fountain of youth. It is going to be the mechanism for insuring that I remain young both in body and mind.

Stay tuned to this bat channel and I will be sure to keep you posted on how things develop. In the future I'll share more about the weight lifting and whether I resume swimming. I am also playing around with getting into the Russian Kettlebells. I have heard good things about it.

I'll keep you posted.

Why Women Are Angry

Now here is is an article that is guaranteed to start numerous fights. If the author were close enough I'd ask her to iron my shirt, bring me a drink and change into something sexier and then I'd duck.

"I never have a moment that's just mine. Someone always wants a piece of me. Yesterday, in the middle of a bikini wax, I had an urgent call from the office and had to orchestrate a crucial meeting on the other side of the world, biting my fists to stop yelping at the wrong moments.

Frequently, as I reach for a file from my bag in the midst of a presentation, a pair of baby pants or a lollipop falls out. It hardly helps my image as a cool, collected professional. I watch the smug glances of the men around the table and want to slap them.

Recently, the Children's Society published a report lambasting modern women for being too selfish to be good mothers.

Are they kidding? I'd like to see the authors spend a week in my shoes. Most of my days are a near-precipice experience. I'm so close to the edge that I'm in a semi-permanent state of panic. I have a constant list of things I have to do running through my head like a stock market ticker-tape.

What must it be like to live without the tyranny of the list? To sink into a bath and not be mentally composing tomorrow's agenda? What is it like to be a man and have nothing to think about but the task in hand?

No wonder the vast majority of our great scientists, thinkers and artists are men. Think how much room they must have in their heads without all the domestic clutter their wives are taking care of.

Am I angry? You haven't heard anything yet."

3-D Sidewalk Art- Very Cool

Weekend Notes- Audio Blog

He Escaped Twice

What kind of crazy prison are these guys running. Even Andy from the Shawshank Redemption wants to know.

Two men hijack a helicopter and then force the pilot to fly over the roof of a maximum security prison in Greece. They unfurl rope ladders and bam, they are on their way:

Prison guards shot at the helicopter during the escape, witnesses told local media.
No injuries were reported.

The pilot was found gagged near the helicopter north of Athens, a state-run media report said.
The inmates and the unidentified accomplices had not been located, Greek authorities said.

"I will not tolerate this embarrassment and all necessary measures will be taken, no matter how stringent they may be," Justice Minister Nikos Dendias told CNN.

The prison break by helicopter is the second for Paleokostas, who was convicted for abducting a businessman and escaped the prison the first time in June 2006. He was recaptured several months later.

Internet Privacy Issues

I am very concerned about taking measures to protect society and children in general, but this is problematic. Once we start giving up civil liberties they become very hard to get back and that is part of how I see this.

Information can be used in a variety of ways and once this is collected I wonder what is going to happen with it.
Two bills have been introduced so far--S.436 in the Senate and H.R.1076 in the House. Each of the companion bills is titled "Internet Stopping Adults Facilitating the Exploitation of Today's Youth Act," or Internet Safety Act.

Each contains the same language: "A provider of an electronic communication service or remote computing service shall retain for a period of at least two years all records or other information pertaining to the identity of a user of a temporarily assigned network address the service assigns to that user."

Translated, the Internet Safety Act applies not just to AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, and so on--but also to the tens of millions of homes with Wi-Fi access points or wired routers that use the standard method of dynamically assigning temporary addresses. (That method is called Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, or DHCP.)

"Everyone has to keep such information," says Albert Gidari, a partner at the Perkins Coie law firm in Seattle who specializes in this area of electronic privacy law.

The legal definition of electronic communication service is "any service which provides to users thereof the ability to send or receive wire or electronic communications." The U.S. Justice Department's position is that any service "that provides others with means of communicating electronically" qualifies.

That sweeps in not just public Wi-Fi access points, but password-protected ones too, and applies to individuals, small businesses, large corporations, libraries, schools, universities, and even government agencies. Voice over IP services may be covered too.

Under the Internet Safety Act, all of those would have to keep logs for at least two years. It "covers every employer that uses DHCP for its network," Gidari said. "It covers Aircell on airplanes-- hose little pico cells will have to store a lot of data for those in-the-air Internet users."

Social Networks and Love

Here is an interesting article on CNN about social networks and relationships. It ties into how many people have used Facebook or similar media to connect with old friends and lost loves.

Not to mention how social media has also facilitated new relationships.

More than one-third (35 percent) of U.S. adult Internet users have a profile on a social networking site, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project's daily tracking survey of 2,251 adults.

As more people join social networks like MySpace and Facebook, getting back in touch with old friends and lovers is becoming increasingly easy.

A search on both networks turns up a handful of groups dedicated to lost loves and first loves. Although neither site formally tracks the number of groups dedicated to the topic, MySpace spokeswoman Jamie Schumacher says it's common for users to meet on the site and fall in love and end up together.

Everyone Wants Their Own Lightning Gun

Shooting lightning bolts isn't just for wizards anymore. Ok, I am kind of down on the idea of being able to shoot people with lightning.

It is just not sporting, not unless your opponent has some sort of invisibility cloak or the ability to shoot magic missiles back at you.

The Bungee Cord Breaks

Maybe I'll pass on the Bungee Jumping.

AMBOY, Wash. — A day of bungee jumping with friends from work came to a sudden stop when the cord broke and a man dropped into Canyon Creek northeast of Yacolt, Wash. Thursday.
Mark Afforde said the cord broke shortly after he'd hit the lowest point of the jump from an estimated 400-foot high bridge — about 25 feet from the surface. Paramedics from North Country Medical said that probably saved his life as he was relatively close to the creek when the cord snapped.

Afforde, 49, said he heard the bungee cord snap and he felt the impact as he went underwater. Then, he realized he was still alive and okay and made his way to the side of the creek.
"I am incredibly fortunate. Not only to be with the people I'm with, but to be here. Had it been a different situation, I probably wouldn't be here," Afforde told KGW in the exclusive interview.
Despite the scare, Afforde said he would bungee jump again.

The Butt Doctor

The big guy I call "Little Jack" continues to serve as a primary source of blog fodder. At eight he is finally beginning to notice that some of his friends live in bigger houses or have more toys than he does.

Earlier today he asked me if I knew that some of the other fathers are doctors. I told him that I was and asked why he wanted to know. He told me that one of his friends said that it was better to be a doctor because they got more gold.

I laughed and told him that if he wanted to find gold all he needed to do was take a trip to Ireland to talk to a few leprechauns. He recognized the wink in my eye and told me that he was serious. I told him that I was serious and explained made a point to make sure that he understood what leprechauns were.

Then I took a moment to talk to him about what doctors do. We spent a few moments discussing it and I explained that were specialties. So he asked me to name a few of them. I told him about cardiologists, pulmonologists and surgeons.

Since he is eight he went straight for his favorite topic, anatomy and asked me if there were butt and penis doctors. I looked him straight in the eye and said that there were. He paused and then told me that he was glad that I wasn't a butt doctor.

I told him that I agreed with him. With a serious look on his face he explained that he thought that it would literally stink and wanted to know if the butt doctors wore nose plugs.

A few minutes later he looked at me and half muttered, half whispered something about a girl's doctor. I told him he should speak up and ask me his question. So he said that he wanted to know if girls had special doctors for their private parts. I told him that they did.

He looked at me and asked if they had to be other girls. I told him that they didn't and he kind of screwed up his face and asked me what boy would want to stare at naked girls all day. I said Ron Jeremy and then explained that one day he might volunteer for the job.

Hang on, hang on. Before you get huffy, I didn't say anything of the sort. I didn't mention Ron Jeremy. And again I restrained myself from making a crack about spelunking, I rather enjoy that word. It and defenestrate just make me smile. Don't know why, but I like them.

For those who are curious I made a point to use the proper titles for the various doctors, but something tells me that his description, the "Butt Doctor" hasn't made its last visit to the house.

Haveil Havalim 205 - From Down Under

G'day Mate. I don't say that as well as Sarah does, but that is because she is authentic and I am an American with a bad Aussie accent.

Anyhoo, I'd like to invite you to take a moment to review Haveil Havalim 205 - From Down Under, the weekly Jewish/Israeli blog carnival.

Crossposted at Yourish.

How Pickpockets Steal Your Wallet

Slaves Worked as Spies for The Union

I thought that this was interesting.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- William Jackson was a slave in the home of Confederate president Jefferson Davis during the Civil War. It turns out he was also a spy for the Union Army, providing key secrets to the North about the Confederacy.

Jackson was Davis' house servant and personal coachman. He learned high-level details about Confederate battle plans and movements because Davis saw him as a "piece of furniture" -- not a human, according to Ken Dagler, author of "Black Dispatches," which explores espionage by America's slaves.

"Because of his role as a menial servant, he simply was ignored," Dagler said. "So Jefferson Davis would hold conversations with military and Confederate civilian officials in his presence."
Dagler has written extensively on the issue for the CIA's Center for the Study of Intelligence

late 1861, Jackson fled across enemy lines and was immediately debriefed by Union soldiers. Dagler said Jackson provided information about supply routes and military strategy.

"In Jackson's case, what he did was ... present some of the current issues that were affecting the Confederacy that you could not read about in the local press that was being passed back and forth across local lines. He actually had some feel for the issues of supply problems," Dagler said.

Jackson and other slaves' heroic efforts have been a forgotten legacy of the war -- lost amid the nation's racially charged past and the heaps of information about the war's historic battles. But historians over the last few decades have been taking an interest in the sacrifice of African-Americans during those war years.

Jackson's espionage is mentioned in a letter from a general to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. Maj. Gen. Irvin McDowell refers to "Jeff Davis' coachman" as the source of information about Confederate deployments.

Dagler said slaves who served as spies were able to collect incredibly detailed information, in large part because of their tradition of oral history. Because Southern laws prevented blacks from learning how to read and write, he said, the slave spies listened intently to minute details and memorized them.

"What the Union officers found very quickly with those who crossed the line ... was that if you talked to them, they remembered a great more in the way of details and specifics than the average person ... because again they relied totally on their memory as opposed to any written records," he said.

Jackson wasn't the only spy. There were hundreds of them. In some cases, the slaves made it to the North, only to return to the South to risk being hanged. One Union general wrote that he counted on black spies in Tennessee because "no white man had the pluck to do it."

Where Have All The Honeybees Gone?

Stumbled onto an interesting movie that deals with "Colony Collapse Disorder.” That is the name that beekeepers have given to the sudden and dramatic loss of large portions of their hives.

Take a moment and watch the trailer, it is interesting and worth thinking about.

Mammoth Found in Los Angeles

I thought that this was pretty cool. Think that I might have to take a walk on down to the George C. Page museum. Been a while since I got to see the tar pits.
Now, at least 10,000 years later, visitors in Los Angeles, California, can see the remains of "Zed," a Columbian mammoth whose nearly intact skeleton is part of what is being described as a key find by archaeologists at Los Angeles' George C. Page Museum.

Zed was discovered at a construction site in the heart of Los Angeles. An earth mover helping to build an underground parking garage near the L.A. County Museum of Art uncovered the mammoth's skull, according to project director Christopher Shaw.

"The skull was hit and shaved off ... by a scraper," Shaw told CNN Thursday. "We don't know just how smashed up it is, but it's fairly intact because it's a huge jacket we put it around."

The mammoth's fossil was among 16 deposits at the site that archaeologists wrapped, along with the surrounding dirt, in plaster jackets, creating 23 boxes weighing between 5 and 53 tons that were then lifted out intact.

The construction was being monitored by an archaeological consulting firm because the site is so close to the La Brea tar pits -- an archeological site that has yielded 100 million bones belonging to 300 species of mammals and birds.

Construction on the parking garage began in 2006, but it took two more years for all the recovered materials to be handed over to researchers at the Page Museum, who began analyzing the various fossils in June, Shaw said.

"It's very exciting for us because each one of these ... could be different ages in the past 10,000 to 45,000 years," Shaw said.

John Harris, the head curator of the Page Museum, publicly announced the finding of "a whole new treasure trove of fossils" on Wednesday. He described it as "the most important discovery" for the museum "of the last 90 years."

Shaw said the announcement was made to "create interest" in the museum's discovery.
Among the most interesting items is likely to be Zed, who is believed to have died in his late 40s. Mammoths are thought to have had an average lifespan of about 60 years.

Not all of Zed's remains have been cleaned off and analyzed.

"Right now we have opened the plaster jacket of four sections that were excavated, including vertebrae and ribs and pelvis, one tusk and the lower jaw," Shaw said. "It will take another six to 12 months to open everything."

Shaw said both of Zed's tusks were found intact, which is very rare.

"Previously, we've found mammoths but the tusk material was very poorly preserved," Shaw said. "It's very exciting to us to have these two complete, beautifully preserved tusks."

Jack Speaks- Does Anyone Listen

Few comments about this audio post:

1) My headset must not be working well because the audio quality is poor.

2) There are moments when I sound like Yosemite Sam. Not sure that I like that.

3) I need to write. I need to write. I need to write.

Hitler Had Bad Gas

I first came across the story about Hitler's flatulence problem in this post here. YNET expands upon it here:
A document discovered in Britain more than 60 years after it had been produced claims that Adolf Hitler, the late fuehrer of Nazi Germany, had horrible table manners and chronic intestinal gas.

The UK's Daily Telegraph reported Tuesday that the document, currently up for auction in Britain, says the Nazi dictator would bite his nails and twist his moustache incessantly during mealtimes, but that he truly believed that he was the "greatest military genius of all time," as Josef Goebbels had written of him.

The document consists of an interview with a Nazi official held by a British agent, and is dated three days after the fuehrer's death. Its heading orders the document to be destroyed within 48 hours, but the British agent kept them in his home for over sixty years, where they were discovered before the house was sold.

The final days of Hitler's life are recorded in vast detail in the interview and his reported homosexual inclinations are mentioned, as well as his overt fondness for Rudolph Hess. He is also said to have fraternized with women in a manner characterized by "passive masochism".

The Nazi official interviewed said he believes Hitler was crazy, basing his opinion on at least 30 dinners the two shared. In his journal the official is said to have written, "Hitler eats rapidly, mechanically, for him food is merely an indispensable means of subsistence."

It is too bad that these issues didn't completely cripple him. The world would have been a better place.

Stop Breaking My Sprinklers

I am relatively certain that my gardener is not reading my blog, but on the off chance that he is I'd like to ask him to stop breaking my sprinklers. Not only does it cost me money to buy replacement speakers it costs time.

And that my friends irritates the hell out of me. My time is far too valuable to have to spend on repairing and replacing sprinkler heads each week. If he keeps this up I may break down and buy a lawnmower and he'll be out of a job.

Strange Links

I used to rely upon to display my reading list. It was a work in progress that was updated on a regular basis. At least until was hacked and removed the ability to edit the blogroll.

For a while I stood pat and waited to see if they'd restore the editing function. But in time I grew impatient and decided to switch to Blogger's "Blog list." It made sense to do so I want the ability to add/subtract blogs/news sites without any delay.

Anyhoo, I have noticed that some of my posts are now showing up as links to posts of other bloggers on the list. However, I haven't linked to them within the body of the bost. So there must be something in the code that is causing this to happen.

Kind of odd, but I suppose that there are worse things.

Explaining My Judaism

The Blues Brothers Are On a Mission From God.

I keep writing and rewriting the opening paragraph of this post. I don't like the title. I hate it. It sounds ridiculous and idiotic and it sets a poor tone, but for now it will do.

Sometimes I'd like my religious beliefs to be based solely upon critical reasoning and logical thought. It'd be really nice and exceptionally convenient if they fit together like a cool set of legos. I'd start by providing you with an outline and then follow up with sections that built upon each other.

It would be like a pyramid with a wide base that served as a foundation and then blocks upon blocks until it reached the narrow top. And the best part would be that it would be easy to simple to understand. You'd look at the bottom and by the time you reached the top you'd have a clear understanding of why I believe what I believe.

Or maybe what I am really saying is that I'd like that. I'd like to be able to just whip out an explanation that didn't leave me asking questions or shaking my head because some things just didn't make sense.

But the thing is that when we are dealing with matters of faith then we are forced to take positions that require accepting that faith is sometimes all we have. It is hard to do and it makes for all sorts of interesting situations and compromises.

Faith is what let's me accept some things and question others. To some people I am sure that this sounds ridiculous. One could easily argue that most of us are brainwashed as children to accept a particular religion as being the truth. From that perspective we could also argue that those who convert as adults deserve special consideration because they made a choice to believe, it wasn't just spoonfed to them.

But that is a different story for a different time.

When I think about faith I think about a number of things. I think about love. When someone says that she loves me do I simply accept her word or do I require her to prove it. And if I require her to prove it, what do I need for proof.

Must she bear my children or would it be enough to have sex with me. Does she need to live with me and take care of me to prove it, or could it be proven by words.

Now all that might sound ridiculous, but to me it is tied into faith. When she says that she loves me I can take her word and accept it to be the truth or I can doubt it.

Ultimately I make my decision based upon a couple of factors, but faith is the primary mover. It is a bit disconcerting to make decisions that way, but sometimes it is all you have.

Ok, is it just me or is this post a prime example of gibberish and blather.

Political Posts Generate More Traffic

Political posts typically generate more traffic than the personal ones. I find that to be kind of odd. Sure, the Shmata Queen has always told me that I am the smartest and best looking man she has ever known.

It is a tactic that she has used upon occasion to try and prevent me from making fun of the midwest, especially the land of the burning river where she once lived. I must admit that it does get old trashing the people who went to heights just as it gets old to trash those who attended New Trier or Niles West.

But really, I find it curious and strangely satisfying to know that some people choose to enter this humble domicile to hear what I have to say about political matters. I like to think that people come here because I provide superior content and and insight that you can't find anywhere else. Upon occasion that may happen, but really is what I write that different from the five million other bloggers out there.

I'll grant that it happens sometimes, but not as frequent as I might like.

I am clearly biased, but I think that the best posts here are those that are of a more personal nature. But the stat counters clearly differ, at least from a traffic perspective.

Maybe I need to consider changing the focus of this place. We could change the name to Paul's Pleasure Palace Where Politics are Plesantly Porked. That was totally ridiculous, but I kind of like the way that it sounded.

Anyhoo, I like the current format of being able to cover whatever, whenever, however.


When Your World Is Collapsing- A Letter To My Children

I drank a huge cup of coffee and am not going to find a way to sleep anytime soon so I thought that I'd write a letter to my children. I don't intend for them to read this for many years. In fact I'll probably revise it a number of times, but for now this is the edited for the blog version.

Dear children,

It is the middle of February 2009 and am almost 40 years old. Until this year I hadn't really found any of my birthdays to be difficult, at least not from the perspective of feeling old. I can list a number that I found to be exciting because my age meant that I had gained new privileges or responsibilities that I wanted.

This is different. It is different because I am realizing that my expectation for what my life would be like at 40 is different from what it is now. I can't tell you exactly what it was that I expected it to be.

When I was 13 I was certain that I was going to be a professional baseball player. I was good, among the best in little league. But for a variety of reasons it didn't pan out. That is ok. I have no regrets there.

I am trying to remember if I had any specific dreams of what my life was going to be like. For a long time I expected that I was going to make aliyah and live in Israel, or at least spend significant time there. That hasn't happened yet and I can't say if it will or won't.

My career has had its ups and downs. It is not like your grandfather's career. I grew up with a father who had one job for 38 years. But that was what happened in his generation. Things changed and it became the exception rather than the rule for someone to have just one job. Now it is not unusual for people to have several.

Your great grandparents were born during World War I. Your grandparents were born during World War II and your parents during Vietnam. The Cold War took up the majority of our time in school. The first Gulf War hit during college.

For a while things seemed relatively calm. The Soviet Union collapsed and the stories I heard as a child about whether the US and Russia would nuke each other became more of a fairy tale.

And then 9-11 hit and life changed again.

As I sit here writing we're a few weeks into President Obama's first term, who knows if he'll have a second. We're still fighting two wars, one in Iraq and the other in Afghanistan. Our economy is in terrible shape and from a certain grim perspective life looks pretty damn bad.

But perspective is what is called for. One day when you are old enough I'll fill you in on all of the details that I am leaving out of this post. I'll tell you some things that will help you understand the who, what and whys.

Anyway, the reason that I gave the history lesson is to show that history does repeat itself, the good and the bad. And sometimes the best thing that you can do is take life one day at a time. Break up the crap into smaller bite size pieces and just do the best that you can, because that is all you can do.

And now the circle is complete. I have officially channeled my father and grandfather. That line that drove me so crazy is being passed down, but I have come to believe in it. It doesn't mean that you cannot or should not shoot for the stars, but that you have to accept your limitations.

But the thing to remember is that accepting your own limitations doesn't mean that you can't use your melon to find a way to overcome the challenges that face you.

Before I wrap this up I want to leave you with some of my favorite quotes:

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."- Thomas Edison

"Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it's useless." - Thomas Edison

"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."- Thomas Edison

"Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorius triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat."- Teddy Roosevelt

Tales of Brave Ulysses

Tales of Brave Ulysses- Cream

Have you ever read the Odyssey? As a kid it was one of my favorite stories. I loved mythology and reading about Odysseus just fascinated me. A general who was one of those who went to war because of Helen of Troy. A hero who fought for ten years to find his way home and then when he got there still had to undergo more challenges before he could regain his kingdom.

When I find myself feeling overwhelmed with the challenges presented by life I sometimes think about these kinds of stories. I look at the challenges faced by Hercules and the little boy that still lives within imagines what it would be like to be that guy.

Part of what I have always enjoyed about these stories is that the heroes have a tragic flaw. They may be capable of incredible feats, but they are also subject to doing incredibly stupid things. It makes them far more human.

I suppose that is part of why I appreciate Harry Potter or The Lord of The Rings stories. The hero is an ordinary person placed in extraordinary circumstances. To be clear I appreciate that though they may win in the end, they do not avoid tragedy. It is far more real.

Lately I find myself engaged in trying times. It is not all that different from many others. The challenges that I face aren't unique. Many people face them, but the difference is that they are mine. I am the one that is forced to make the decisions about what sort of action to take or not to take. I am the person who gets to make the hard call about whether to answer the bell with a flurry of kicks and punches or to spend a round getting punched in the mouth.

In the quiet moment of the evening I write down these words and wonder whether the house of cards I live in will sway with the wind or collapse. Intellectually I haven't any doubt that one day I will look back upon this time as just a memory. It will be like every other experience in my life. Some of it will make me smile and some of it will make me sad.

Emotionally it is challenging. Because the decisions I make will affect all of my family, but as to what the final effect of these decisions will be it is unclear. It is moments like this that I look at my parents and gain a far greater appreciation for what they did.

It reminds me of conversations I used to have with my grandfather. It has been 2.5 years since he died and not a day goes by that I don't think about him. For that matter it has been a little more than ten since we lost "D." I think of him often too.

I go back and forth about what my belief about olam habah is or is not. I go back and forth about whether I believe in a heaven. Most of the time I think that there is. But I live my life in the present. I try to do good things now because I think that it is the right thing to do, not because I want some heavenly reward.

Sometimes I think of my grandfather and "D" as being part of the vanguard that gets to check out wherever we go after we die.

Going back to my grandfather I can remember him advising me about life. He'd tell me that all we can do is the best that we can do, advice echoed by my father. Not surprising considering they were father and son.

There were moments that I found it to be infuriating because sometimes I felt that my best wasn't good enough. But as time has gone by I have found it easier to accept. I may start a new post that covers this.

Monday Evening Music

Music and assorted lyrics from the evening.

Walk On-U2
"I know it aches
How your heart it breaks
And you can only take so much
Walk on, walk on
Leave it behind
You've got to leave it behind"

Let It Rock- Kevin Rudolf
99 Problems-(Grey Album) Jay Z
Latika's Theme-Slumdog Millionaire Soundtrack
Can't Get It Out Of My Head- ELO
"And I can't get it out of my head
No I can't get it out of my head
Now my old world is gone for dead
Cos I can't get it out of my head"

Goodbye Stranger- Supertramp
November Rain- GunsNRoses
Somebody To Love- Queen
Princes of The Universe- Queen
Strawberry Fields- The Beatles
While My Guitar Gently Weeps- The Beatles
Lust for Life- Iggy Pop
Space Oddity- David Bowie
Social Distortion- Ball And Chain

Do You Handwrite Letters?

Earlier today I had to fill out some forms by hand and noticed that I no longer seem to have any stamina for writing. After a relatively short time my hand began to ache and I wondered why these forms weren't online. As I silently cursed the unknown person(s) who was responsible for this I thought about how bad my penmanship is.

Somewhere in the archives is a post that I wrote about this topic, my penmanship that is. I'll save us both the time of searching for it by summing it up. My penmanship was never great, but it was relatively legible. If I had to choose between cursive and printing I always chose and still prefer to print. It is easier for me and I have fewer concerns about whether people will be able to read my writing.

So dear reader I am curious to learn if you still handwrite letters or does most of your communication take place electronically.

Inquiring minds want to know.

Field of Dreams

I loved this scene.

Facebook Owns Your Content Forever

I was none too pleased to see this story on The Consumerist:

Facebook's terms of service (TOS) used to say that when you closed an account on their network, any rights they claimed to the original content you uploaded would expire. Not anymore.

Now, anything you upload to Facebook can be used by Facebook in any way they deem fit, forever, no matter what you do later. Want to close your account? Good for
you, but Facebook still has the right to do whatever it wants with your old content. They can even sublicense it if they want.

Wii Fit

This past holiday season we succumbed to the call of the wild and were assimilated into the collective. That is geek for we got a Wii. I love it. Been having a field day playing Guitar Hero and Lego Star Wars with the big guy.

My BIL recently gave us Wii Fit as a gift. If you're not familiar with it go take a gander at this link. Ok, for those of you who refused to click the simple explanation is that Wii Fit is an accessory that turns your Wii into a useful tool for exercise. It combines Yoga, Aerobics, strength training and balance games that you can use to get yourself to improve your personal fitness.

I used it for the very first time early Sunday morning. It was a bit disconcerting when I stepped on the Wii board and it told me that only one person at a time is allowed on the board. Fortunately the kids weren't close enough to hear me tell the machine to go bleep itself. In return the machine flashed a picture of Homer Simpson on the television and made some sort of laughing noise.

For a moment I considered jumping up and down on the board. I figured that if the damn thing was going to make fun of my weight I might as well punish it by giving it a pounding. Of course that was ridiculous, machines don't think or feel pain. Ok, maybe they have some basic A.I. functionality but this sucker isn't going to feel any pain.

So I continued on and discovered that the Wii Fit considers me to be several years older than I am. Great, the damn thing continues to mock me. But that wasn't enough to deter me, I have thick skin, like an elephant but not as wrinkled.

Onwards and upwards. Forward I went through the exercises and discovered that Yoga is a cruel activity developed by an angry Indian Rajah whose sole purpose in life was to try and torture me. Damn, I haven't any flexibility. When did I turn into the Tin man from the Wizard of Oz. Someone get me some oil.

I battled the machine for a good 35 minutes or so. Got a semi decent sweat worked up and figured out that the machine is partially right. I am out of shape, but not the way the thing thinks I am. I play basketball three days a week and lift weights. I have some extra meat on me but I can hang on a lot longer than the dumb machine gave me credit for.

It was a good reminder that I am not twenty any more. Notice how I keep mentioning that age thing. Yes, it irks me a little, I am not real crazy about this next birthday. But I prefer turning 40 to dying so you can expect me to be around a bit.

In the interim I figure that Wii Fit and I are going to spend a little more time together. Can't hurt to do a little bit more. Besides, I demand satisfaction from the machine and the only way I am going to get it is to spend some more time beating it up.

Blogrolling Notes

We're in the process of making some adjustments to the blogroll as well as some tweaks to the template. Please bear with the dust and noise. We'll do our best to make this as painless as possible.

President Obama Loves Air Force One

This article is a bit of fluff. Does anyone really expect to hear comments that are critical in nature about Air Force One.

Anyway, I never get tired of reading about the history, specs and capabilities of the plane.

"The aircraft is maintained and operated by the Presidential Airlift Group, which falls under the White House Military Office.

It was founded at the request of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944 and originally called the Presidential Pilot Office, according to the White House Web site.

During the next two decades, different propeller planes served as the main transportation for the president. That was until President Kennedy became the first to travel in his own jet aircraft, which was a modified Boeing 707, according to the site.

The current plane was first used in 1990 during the administration of President George H.W. Bush.

The aircraft, which is longer than the length of a hockey rink, has 4,000 square feet of floor space stretched across three levels. The plane includes a large suite for the president that includes an office, bathroom and conference room. It also provides sleeping quarters for the president.

The plane has two food preparation galleys that can feed 100 people at a time and a medical suite that can be used as an operating room, according to the site.

While the plane does have its luxuries, plenty of the extras are devoted to security.
Air Force One can refuel in midair, has unlimited range and has electronics "hardened to protect against an electromagnetic pulse," according to the White House site.

In the event of an attack on the country, the plane, equipped with advanced and secure electronic communications equipment, can become the president's mobile command center.

"[The president] has the ability to run the country from Air Force One," said Col. Mark Tillman, who flew the plane for former President Bush during the last eight years, including after September 11, 2001, and into Baghdad, Iraq. "So he has everything that's available to him at the White House available to him at 45,000 feet."

On occasion, press briefings take place aboard the aircraft."

Haveil Havalim Lots to Read Edition

Friends I'd like to invite you to read the latest edition of the Jewish/Israeli blog carnival, Haveil Havalim at Leora's place. This edition is called, Haveil Havalim Lots to Read Edition.

Next week is going to be hosted by ~ Sarah's View ~.

Here is a partial list of past editions:

Feb 08, 2009 Esser Agaroth
Feb 01, 2009 Ima on (and off) the Bimah
Jan 25, 2009 SuperRaizy
Jan 17, 2009 The Rebbetzin's Husband
Jan 11, 2009 Random thoughts
Jan 03, 2009 Ima on (and off) the Bimah
Dec 28, 2008 Material Maidel
Dec 23, 2008 Jewlicious
Dec 14, 2008 Random thoughts

A complete list can be found here.

San Francisco & The Healthy Penis

And people claim that LA is weird. The Bay Area takes the cake. Please, they have inferior sports teams and an undeserved superiority complex and a bizarre mascot.

San Francisco, home of the trolley cars, Rice O'Roni and The Big Dick.

"Yup, the Healthy Penis campaign is back in San Francisco and organizers claim it is better than ever. Not since the Sexual Harassment Panda or Larry the Lobster has a mascot been so confusing.

Only in San Francisco (believe us they tried to move the campaign to Los Angeles and our neighbors to the south were not too excited) is a campaign that may be headed by the worst, at least the strangest, mascot in history. An effort to educate people about syphilis is spearheaded (sorry) by an eight foot healthy penis and his friends.

The campaign began in 2002 after the San Francisco Department of Health conducted several focus groups to see how best to raise (sorry) awareness about syphilis in the city and how best to persuade gay men to get screened.

The city says the campaign was a huge (sorry) success because it led to a significant decrease in syphilis cases. The Healthy Penis was later introduced in in Los Angeles, Portland, Philadelphia, Seattle, Santa Clara County and in Winnipeg, Canada but in a less provocative way we're told.

The campaign has expanded (sorry) to include an African-American penis named Byron the Penis and a Hispanic penis named Pedro the Penis as well. The original penis Clark is heading up the campaign and is still the most recognizable penis in the city. Phil the Sore is also back in the campaign trying to cause all the havoc that syphilis causes. Maybe the scariest part of it all is that the three penises have Facebook and My Space pages, while Phil has his own regularly updated Twitter

A World Without Chocolate?

Oops, sounds like someone is trying to kill The Shmata Queen. ABC reports:

It's hard to imagine Valentine's Day without chocolate, but some scientists say that it's possible that chocolate could one day be in short supply.

What would the world be like without this decadent, delectable and divine dessert?

If you read the rest of the article it suggests that there is a potential sustainability issue for cacao. I am not an expert on any of this, but what I read sounds plausible. Perhaps now would be a good time to change professions and dedicate myself to becoming a "Green" Willie Wonka.

Vocabulary Words #10- Obscure but Interesting

Welcome to the tenth edition of Vocabulary words. I love to write and enjoy learning new words. Below you will find a list of words that I have stumbled upon and decided to share with you. It is not in alphabetical order. Instead sets of words appear from their respective editions.

Here is part one, part two, part three, part four, part five, part 6, part seven, part eight and part nine.

Here are the new words for this edition:

Raconteur-One who tells stories and anecdotes with skill and wit.
Callipygian-adj.Having beautifully proportioned buttocks.
  1. Weeping or inclined to weep; tearful.
  2. Causing or tending to cause tears.
Perspicacious-adj. Having or showing penetrating mental discernment; clear-sighted.
Flibbertigibbet-n. A silly, scatterbrained, or garrulous person.
Jejune-adj. Not interesting; dull: “and there pour forth jejune words and useless empty phrases” (Anthony Trollope).
Lacking maturity; childish: surprised by their jejune responses to our problems.
Lacking in nutrition: a jejune diet

A list of previously used words can be found just below:

Ollendorffian- in the stilted language of foreign phrase-books.
gerascophobia -a morbid, irrational fear of, or aversion to, growing old.
bathysiderodrophobia -the fear of subways, undergrounds or metros.
hormephobia-Fear of shock.
cacoethes loquendi-the irresistible urge to speak.
cacoethes scribendi-the irresistible urge to write
saudade-[Port.] yearning or longing, but more than that...
Scaturient-L. scaturiens, p. pr. of scaturire gush out, from scatere to bubble, gush.]
Gushing forth; full to overflowing; effusive. [R.]
Walpurgisnacht1) the eve of May Day on which witches are held to ride to an appointed rendezvous
2) something (as an event or situation) having a nightmarish quality
barlafumble[fr. parley, call for truce + ?] Scot. obs.
a call for a truce by one who has fallen in fighting or play; a request for a time out
defalcate-intr.v., -cat·ed, -cat·ing, -cates. To misuse funds; embezzle.
Dactylonomy-n.[Gr. da`ktylos finger + no`mos law, distribution.]
The art of numbering or counting by the fingers.
recrudesce-intr.v., -desced, -desc·ing, -desc·es.To break out anew or come into renewed activity, as after a period of quiescence.
videlicet-vĭ-dĕl'ĭ-sĕt', vī-, wĭ-dā'lĭ-kĕt') pronunciation
adv. (Abbr. viz.)
That is; namely. Used to introduce examples, lists, or items.
temerarious-adj. Presumptuously or recklessly daring
Tentiginous-[L. tentigo, -inis, a tension, lecherousness, fr. tendere, tentum, to stretch.]

1. Stiff; stretched; strained. [Obs.] Johnson.

2. Lustful, or pertaining to lust. [Obs.] B. Jonson
Urinator-n.[L., from urinari to plunge under water, to dive.]
One who dives under water in search of something, as for pearls; a diver.
usufruct-n.The right to use and enjoy the profits and advantages of something belonging to another as long as the property is not damaged or altered in any way.
Jackpudding-n.A merry-andrew; a buffoon.
Jobbernowl-n.[OE. jobbernoule, fr. jobarde a stupid fellow; cf. E. noll.]
A blockhead.
nikhedonia-fr. Nike, the Greek goddess of victory + hedoné, pleasure] the pleasure derived from anticipating success
quidnunckery-[fr. L. quid nunc, what now] nonce-word curiosity, love of news or gossip (also quid-nunc-ism)
mancinism-the condition of being left-handed
macroverbumsciolist- 1) a person who is ignorant of large words
2) a person who pretends to know a word, then secretly refers to a dictionary.
mastigophorer-obs. a fellow worthy to be whipped.
matutolypea-getting up on the wrong side of the bed.
xenodochiophobia -the fear of foreign hospitality (worry about foreign hotels).
Xenodochium-n.(a) (Class. Antiq.) A house for the reception of strangers. (b) In the Middle Ages, a room in a monastery for the reception and entertainment of strangers and pilgrims, and for the relief of paupers. [Called also Xenodocheion.]

1. One who refuses to join, or withdraws from, a trade union. [Cant, Eng.]

2. A stick, cane, or club terminating in a knob; esp., such a stick or club used as a weapon or missile; a knobkerrie.

effulgence-\i-FUL-juhn(t)s\, noun:
The state of being bright and radiant; splendor; brilliance.
[Webster 1913 Suppl.]
divaricate-To diverge at a wide angle; spread apart.
Otiant- idle; resting.
machicolation- n. apertures in parapet or floor of gallery for firing upon persons below. machicolate, v.t. furnish with these
Secern- To discern as separate; discriminate.
prothalamion -A song in celebration of a wedding; an epithalamium.
a capite ad calcem-From head to heel.
ad internecionem- To extermination.
Abusus non tollit usum-Wrong use does not preclude proper use.
ad captandum vulgus-To attract or to please the rabble.
Abligurition- n.[L. abligurito, fr. abligurire to spend in luxurious indulgence; ab + ligurire to be lickerish, dainty, fr. lingere to lick.]
Prodigal expense for food. [Obs.] Bailey.
Anililagnia- an attraction to older women.
Armsaye: the armhole in clothing.
Euneirophrenia: peace of mind after a pleasant dream.
Suppedaneum: foot support for crucifix victims.
Adfenestration: V. The act of entering through a window, usually surreptitiously.
Vatic-adj.Of or characteristic of a prophet; oracular.

Slumdog Millionaire

Managed to find a way to catch another flick. Slumdog Millionaire was excellent, I really enjoyed it. It was one of those films that I really didn't know much about and truth is that I was hesitant to go see it, but I am really glad that I did.

It truly was outstanding. I might take some time to write more about it later, but not now. Anyway, I decided to list all of the movies I have seen in the past two months. The order below reflects how much I enjoyed them.

Slumdog Millionaire
Gran Torino
The Wrestler
Rachel Getting Married
The Reader
Benjamin Button

Philematology-The science of Kissing

The science of kissing. Sounds like a study that I might have concocted in my college days, except back then it would have been funded solely by me. ;)

At the risk of ruining my reputation I'll concede that a good kiss has always influenced my decisions. In fact one kiss changed my life, but that is not a story to be told now.

"the practice of kissing is nearly universal. It is practiced in at least 90 percent of cultures among sexual or romantic partners, experts say. Now, scientists are investigating the biological factors underlying that ubiquitous expression of love.

The science of kissing even has a name: philematology. Research on the subject was presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science in Chicago on Friday.

"Kissing is not just kissing. It is a major escalation or de-escalation point in a powerful process of mate choice," said Helen Fisher, professor at Rutgers University and author of the book "Why Him, Why Her: Finding Real Love by Understanding Your Personality Type.

A study by Gordon Gallup Jr., professor of psychology at the University of Albany, showed that 59 percent of men and 66 percent of women reported that after feeling attracted to another person initially, the attraction ended after the first kiss, Fisher said.

Looking at a sample of more than 1,000 college students, Gallup and colleagues found that women also tend to emphasize kissing more than men, and are much more likely to insist on kissing before a sexual encounter.

A person receives information about the person he or she is smooching by locking lips, Fisher said. A kiss transmits smells, tastes, sound and tactile signals that all affect how the individuals perceive each other and, ultimately, whether they will want to kiss again.

Women tend to be attracted to male partners with a different immune system makeup from their own, Fisher said. They subconsciously detect information about a partner's immune system through smell during kissing, she said.

Research led by Wendy Hill, professor of neuroscience at Lafayette College, looked at how kissing affects the hormones oxytocin, sometimes called the "love hormone," which is associated with social bonding, and cortisol, a measure of stress."

Credit Card Problems- The System is Broken

In the years since I graduated from college I have grown to be quite wary of late night and early morning telephone calls because invariably they only come when there is a problem. The sole exception that comes to mind are the early morning telephone calls that I received about the birth of nieces and nephews, those were pretty cool and worth losing sleep over.

But aside from those moments the primary association I have with the odd hour telephone call is not positive. They have been notices of death or illness, not good news. So when the phone rang at a little past ten I was instantly on guard. The caller ID was restricted so for a moment I was hesitant to answer it, but then concern got the best of me so I picked it up.

It turned out that a dear friend was on the line and in need of a friendly ear. He made some small talk and then launched into a story about bad his finances are and how he can't pay his bills. I felt for him. He has a good work ethic and has always worked hard, but during the past few years he has been laid off a few times.

Each time it happened he picked himself up and did his best to go and find a new job. In between he did what he could to support his family. What little savings he had was quickly eaten up and he found himself using the credit cards to try and get by. They didn't go for fancy meals, vacations or luxury cars.

They were used to purchase groceries, pay tuition for his children, buy clothing for them and other things of this nature. In short, they helped to cover necessities. Gradually he developed balances on them and though he did his best to try to pay them off the odd jobs he worked didn't pay enough to prevent them from becoming maxed out.

When he called me he was in a panic. He didn't have enough money to pay all of his bills. He was a week late in paying one of the cards and had received two calls from them asking when they could expect payment.

During the second call he explained his situation to the bank and asked if they could work with him. They gave him two options in which his account would be frozen and he'd be asked to pay a set amount each month to pay off the bill.

He told them he couldn't afford the amount he was quoted and asked if they could extend the term so that he could pay a lesser amount. The representative told him no and that because he was late in paying his interest rate had been raised to more than 28%.

He reiterated that he wanted to pay them, that he wasn't trying to shirk his responsibility. He said that if it was a $100 less a month he could afford to make the payments. They turned him down and he asked what he should do.

In turn he was told that if he continued to withold payment the card would go into default and he'd probably gain more options. He told them that he didn't want that to happen, that he was willing to pay and couldn't they work with him. And again they apologized, but said that policy was policy.

I could hear the anger and the frustration in his voice. When he told me that they system was broken I had to agree.

When the banks got into trouble they went to the government to receive aid. When he went to the bank asking for them to grant him some assistance he got a poke in the eye and a kick in the pants.

Even better, his tax dollars are part of what is helping to fund the banks bailout.

I have heard and read a lot of comments about how people need to be responsible and that we should let the chips fall where they may. It may sound like a good idea to let things lie, but sometimes you need to be there to give people a hand up.

There are more and more stories about middle class families like my friend who are in serious financial distress. I don't have the answer, but I think that if we don't find ways to help we are all going to end up paying the price.

A Valentine's Day Card

Men, if you're like me and you wish to protest against the holiday one way to do so is to hand out this as a card. Please note that I take no responsibility for any positive or negative response generated as a result of the card.

Valentine's Day- A Day That Should Live In Infamy

If for some reason you are unable to listen to the audiopost above let me give you a basic rundown on what it contains. It is a repeat of my call to arms for men to free ourselves from the bonds of servitude of forced romance. It is time to rise up and remove the shackles, to no longer be burdened with trying to serve a cruel master.

Valentine's Day is a fake holiday whose sole design is to use pain and suffering to guilt people into spending money on foolish cards and foolish gifts.

I say enough is enough. It is long past time for us to push this sad day into the dustbin of history. Ban the day from our lexicon, rise up and be free. Romance should be spontaneous and not forced.

Frak this holiday. So say we all.

Octuplets- An Abdication of Medical & Parental Responsibility

In concept I am a big believer in giving people freedom to live their lives and do what they are going to do with the caveat that the limits are drawn when their actions hurt others. Nadya Suleman and the doctor who helped her have crossed the line.

They have abdicated moral and parental responsibility with little to no regard for the impact of their actions. Their actions are selfish and misguided and it infuriates me that the public is going to be forced to help support the moronic decisions made by all of the parties here.

The LA Times has a number of articles that document the sad state of affairs of a mother who has 14 children, no source of income and owes $50,000 in student loans. Oh and did I mention that she is already receiving money from food stamps and that three of her children are disabled.

This makes me want to tear my hair out. This article outlines a number of serious issues and her complete lack of touch with reality. I believe in social responsibility. I believe that we have an obligation to try and give people a hand up, not a hand out. But apparently she feels otherwise. We'll get to that in a moment.

"Even before she gave birth to the octuplets Jan. 26, Suleman was receiving $490 in monthly food stamps, and three of her children were receiving federal supplemental security income because they are disabled.

Let's review because it really does blow me away. She is an unemployed single mother of six children who is receiving almost $500 a month in food stamps and additional money from the federal government for the disabled children goes t o a doctor and undergoes IVF and then delivers eight more children.

Eight more children. Eight more children who will be in the hospital somewhere between seven to twelve weeks. According to the Times that bill will run on the low end at about $500k and could approach more than $800k, provided that there aren't any complications.

And that doesn't take into account the team of more than 46 medical professionals who were assembled for the delivery. But none of this matters to Suleman. She engages in some sort of mental masturbation that allows her to try and say that she is not really receiving any sort of assistance.

"I'm not living off any taxpayer money," she said. "If I am, if it's food stamps, it's a temporary resource. And I was so reluctant. I very much so look forward to the day when I am not getting any kind of help with food stamps, which I believe will end when I graduate in about a year or year and a half."

Oh ok, you're going to collect somewhere around nine grand in food stamps, not to mention however much you receive for the disabled children. And during that time what sort of activities will you be engaged in. Are we to believe that you are going to work so that you can support your children and so that you might pay into the system. Doesn't sound like it.

Some people might say that I am being too harsh, but this was elective. She didn't have to have more children. She had six and don't forget that some are disabled. Six healthy children are a lot of work, but when some of them are disabled there is more to be done. And now she has increased the load ten fold.

But we shouldn't worry because in lollipop land everything works out.

Suleman also bristled at suggestions made by some commentators that she was being irresponsible for having so many children with no income or partner to help raise them."No. I am not being selfish. . . . If I were just sitting down watching TV and not being as determined as I am to succeed and provide a better future for my children, I believe that would be considered to a certain degree selfish," she said.

Great. She is determined to succeed and by gum that makes all the difference. I believe in having a "can do" attitude and that it makes a difference, but again there are limits. She doesn't have the financial resources to take care of these children there are legitimate questions about whether she'll have the time. Fourteen young children, eight of whom are infants. It is just wrong.

But never fear, she has a website that she is using to ask for donations.

And lest we think that I have forgotten about the doctor and clinic let's shed some light on these mental midgets.

According to records reviewed by the Times

The Beverly Hills doctor whose fertility treatment led to the birth of Nadya Suleman’s octuplets – and her six previous children – has one of the worst success rates of any fertility clinic in the country, according to federal records reviewed by The Times.

In fact, Suleman’s children represent a sizable portion of the pregnancy rate at his clinic over the last several years

The Times used data from 2006. Out of 61 procedures only five resulted in pregnancies and only two of those resulted in births. So we have a mother whose completely out of touch with reality and a doctor who is seemingly inept with everyone but her.

Even better the good doctor has been involved in a number of lawsuits with past employees.

It is a perfect storm of chaos and we're the lucky people who get to pick up the pieces. Just peachy.

Recommendations on LinkedIn

At some point I must have written about being overwhelmed by the hordes of social media applications that I am tied into. I have several blogs, a Facebook account, Twitter account, Plaxo and one on LinkedIn.

I rarely do anything with Plaxo and have been relatively uninvolved with LinkedIn, although I think that it is time that I begin to pay more attention to it. If you are not familiar with LinkedIn here is a simple explanation about it:

LinkedIn is an interconnected network of experienced professionals from around the world, representing 170 industries and 200 countries. You can find, be introduced to, and collaborate with qualified professionals that you need to work with to accomplish your goals.

When you join, you create a profile that summarizes your professional expertise and accomplishments. You can then form enduring connections by inviting trusted contacts to join LinkedIn and connect to you. Your network consists of your connections, your connections’ connections, and the people they know, linking you to a vast number of qualified professionals and experts.
I should send them a bill for the free publicity.

Anyway, LinkedIn is really a business application and that is how I use it. I don't play games, no smart remarks, I just put up a profile and let it be. That profile is very important and I am not pleased with how mine appears right now so revising and revamping it is on a long list of things to do.

One of the things that LinkedIn provides is a place in which you can receive or write recommendations. It is a smart idea and many people have taken advantage of this. However, I take some of those recommendations with a grain of salt and here is why.

Some of them are written by friends of the person about whom it is being written. Now this doesn't mean that they are factually incorrect or that there is anything wrong with them, but it does raise a number of questions.

Lately it has been of particular interest to me because I have received requests for a recommendation from people I have never worked with. I have to question why they would want me to write one for them. What advantage is there, unless they try to dress it up and pretend that we did work together. Or alternatively there is the old trick of writing about some past project in which the two of worked together in some of client/vendor relationship.

Thus far I have declined to write a recommendation for anyone that I haven't worked for, but I am tempted to make an exception for the next person who asks in which case I am going to have some fun preparing a very interesting recommendation for them.

Almost 20 years

Next week marks the 20th anniversary of the launch of this spot. Hard to believe, not many have kept going since then. I have barely kept up...