Winnie The Pooh on Swine Flu

Potential Health Benefits of Blueberries

I thought that this article on WebMD was interesting.

In the study, presented at Experimental Biology 2009, researchers fed rats bred to become obese either a high-fat or low-fat diet enriched with whole blueberry powder or carbohydrates as 2% of their total diet.

After 90 days, the rats fed blueberries had less abdominal fat, lower cholesterol, and improved glucose control and insulin sensitivity. The latter two factors are markers of how well the body processes sugar for energy and are related to diabetes risk.

These health benefits of blueberries were evident in rats fed both high- and low-fat diets enriched with the blueberry powder. But the benefits were greatest among those who ate a low-fat diet.

In addition to the other heart health benefits of blueberries, those fed the low-fat blueberry diet also lost body weight and fat mass compared to those on the high-fat diet.

Although more research is needed to confirm these results in humans, a related study presented at the same conference showed that men with risk factors for heart disease who drank wild blueberry juice for three weeks seemed to experience slight improvements in glucose and insulin control.


Here is a new segment to be inserted into Fragments of Fiction.

A month or so ago my editor sent me an email asking for me to send over a rough draft my new novel. He said that he didn't expect fireworks to shoot from it, but that he'd be pleased if it honked a time or two.

I must have read that line two or three times before I realized that he had really said that. What the hell does he mean about it honking a time or two. Instead of asking I sent him a note saying that I understood why I was the writer and he the editor. I then explained to him that honking made me think of tooting and that tooting was a euphemism for a stinky bodily function and that his line stunk.

If I hadn't already published a half dozen books I probably would have been shown the door or at least read the riot act. Thanks to the almighty dollar I was spared that indignity.

Anyway, I had to give him something so I quickly banged out the words below. I hoped that it would buy me some time, maybe another week or two.

I have images floating in my head that I thought that I'd share with you. One is of a man and a woman walking down two parallel paths. As they go down these roads they encounter all sorts of different creatures, a girl and her small dog, a scarecrow, a tin woodsman and even a witch or two.

But since the roads are parallel they have to overcome these challenges without help, or at least it appears that way. To those who don't know them it looks like they are fighting the flying monkeys all by themselves. But the reality is far different. Because even though they are physically separated there is more to them than meets the eye.
There is a connection that exists on a very deep level, deep enough that sometimes the two of them forget that it is there. But every so often it sends out a little ping and that reminds them of its existence and they remember that though they are not together now, they aren't really apart either.

So they continue to walk on down the yellowbrick road and through the fields and forests. Under blue skies and grey they march to beat of their respective drummers. And if you look at them closely you can see that every now and then they check the horizon, peering out to see if they can catch a glimpse of the other.

Neither knows for certain if these roads will ever cross. It is too hard to see that far ahead and at the moment the all powerful wizard's cellphone is broken. The trackball failed and in his frustration he flung it out a window, where it was taken by a large duck.

On and on they march towards the Emerald City because there is no turning back.

In some ways it is a screwy tale and if I was to give you the details I am sure that you would shake your head in disbelief. It is no secret that most writers write stories about what they know.

Or at least that is what they try to convince you in school. During my days as a creative writing teacher I used to say, "Writers write about what they know because they want to write what is right."

I liked it because it was meaningless drivel that I knew would be picked up by someone and paraded around as if it was passed down from Mount Sinai to the Children of Israel.

Optimus Prime is Jewish- Who Knew

How to maximize frequent flier miles

CNN has some useful advice for how to maximize frequent flier miles.

The key to redeeming miles lies in how the airlines value them. Since miles rewards programs were introduced, the industry rule of thumb has always been that a mile was worth about two cents. The underlying formula: 25,000 miles were required for one round-trip domestic coach ticket, which was estimated to have an average price of $500. (In other words, $500÷25,000=$0.02.)

But discount airlines and Internet fares have forced ticket prices down: the average domestic round-trip fare was $362 in the third quarter of 2008, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. One mile has depreciated to around 1.5 cents today.

To decide how much an award ticket is worth, make some calculations. If you find a particularly good airfare deal, snap it up in cash and reserve your miles for times when fewer deals are available. Taking award seats makes the most sense when the cash value of a ticket is roughly in line with its cost in miles (say, when you find a last-minute flight to a popular European city that costs $600, and you can put down 60,000 miles -- or 1 cent per mile -- to buy it).

Is Florida Gov. Charlie Crist Really That Ignorant

It appears that Governor of Florida Charlie Crist is in need of some help. Someone came up with the cockamamie idea to offer religious themed license plates in Florida. The governor says that he doesn't see any issues with the separation of church and state. His argument is quite weak. I am not in favor of blurring the lines in this matter. The First Amendment is very clear.

It is to all of our benefit and advantage not to engage in this sort of political tomfoolery.

Hat Tip: DB

Should You Be Scared about The Swine Flu

Take a look at this CNN story:

(CNN) -- There had been no confirmed deaths in the United States related to swine flu as of Tuesday afternoon. But another virus had killed thousands of people since January and is expected to keep killing hundreds of people every week for the rest of the year.

That one? The regular flu.

An outbreak of swine flu that is suspected in more than 150 deaths in Mexico and has sickened dozens of people in the United States and elsewhere has grabbed the attention of a nervous public and of medical officials worried the strain will continue to mutate and spread.
Experts are nervous that, as a new strain, the swine flu will be harder to stop because there aren't any vaccines to fight it.

But even if there are swine-flu deaths outside Mexico -- and medical experts say there very well may be -- the virus would have a long way to go to match the roughly 36,000 deaths that seasonal influenza causes in the United States each year.

"That happens on an annual basis," Dr. Brian Currie said Tuesday. Currie is vice president and medical director at Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, New York."

Do Men Have Feelings

Age is a funny thing. Until recently most of my experience with it had been waiting to get older. There were a million things that I wanted to do, but I wasn't old enough. Slowly but surely I hit those marks and gained the ability to do whatever it was that I wanted to at that point in time.

But until recently I never really felt old or felt the pressure that age can bring with it. Maybe it is all in my head, but with the end of my thirties rapidly approaching I no longer feel like I have eternity to fall back upon. Now I feel the weight of time and it makes me wonder.

You can blame some of this upon certain life experiences. Almost all of my friends are married, most for quite some time. Virtually all of us have children. And now we have reached that time when a number of the marriages are ending. As these relationships end or evolve I have noticed that some conversations that I had thought had been left in the past have resurfaced.

Four years I wrote a short post called Do Men Have Emotions? It wasn't anything special, but it is one that comes up in keyword searches on a regular basis. It is suddenly relevant to me again because lately the discussions about whether men have feelings have become more prevalent, and not just among the women, but the men.

I suppose that you can attribute the increased discussion to age and maturity. The boys don't really have that need to be tough, at least not among each other. Now there is far more support for sharing our tales with each other. It is far easier to talk about the girl that broke your heart in the past or the present as the case may be.

The other thing that I have found to be sort of funny is that I have heard a number of women complain about this show of emotion from the men. The cynic in me would accuse them of double standards. You want men to talk about their feelings, but when they do you complain that they are less manly. It is a catch-22 that not even Major Major could get out of.

I am not a social worker. I am not a therapist or some sort of shrink whose job it is to make sense of all this. That is not what I do. Men are men, women are women and we can only do what we can to try and figure it all out.

But I can guarantee that there will be a few women who end up on this post and ask for answers. All I can tell you is that we do have feelings. We fall in love and our happy. Relationships end and our hearts break. We are happy, we are sad and everything in between. We're humans just like you.

The biggest difference is that we're logical and you aren't. ;) And now if you'll excuse me I am going to employ the duck and cover technique while I sneak out of here.

Recent Posts

If you haven't been around here is a list of posts you might have missed:

How To Get More Readers For Your Blog
More Links That Caught My Eye
The Science Behind Beer Goggling
365 Days of Face Painting
Facebook and Bad Photos
Comment Policy: Free Advertising
Israeli Security Repels Pirates
Haveil Havalim #214 - The Radiant Ziv edition
Jack and Dr. Seuss
Harry Chapin and Jack
Indian Women Say No Toilet, No Wedding
Hard Rock Bug Repellent
Why NFL Draft Picks Fail
Bridge over Troubled Water- Good Version
The Somalian Pirates Successful Business Model

How To Get More Readers For Your Blog

The two most common questions bloggers ask about blogging are how to get more readers and how encourage them to leave more comments. It is not surprising. It is always nice to see that people appreciate your work.

I have a simple formula that I try to follow that has proven to be successful.

Blog with passion and blog with joy. Blog with energy.

Many experts recommend that you pick a topic and focus upon that. That is solid advice. Writing about what you know is important, but so is writing about something you enjoy. It will pay dividends. You'll find it easier to pay attention to details and to craft something that is more interesting.

Write in your natural voice. Blogging is interactive, so be conversational when you can. But don't shy away from being descriptive. Your posts should tell a story, build a tapestry of images and ideas.

Pay attention to the titles of your posts. New readers aren't always aware that you are the next Hemingway so you need to do something to draw them in.

Read other blogs and comment on them. If your blog is focused on a particular topic go out and find like minded bloggers. Spend some time on their blogs and comment there.

A word of advice about this. Try to leave comments that make it clear that you read the post. If you are new to a blog and you leave comments like "good post" it may be flagged as comment spam.

Develop posts that are interactive in nature. Ask your readers questions that will encourage them to engage with you. For example write a post in which you ask your readers to name their three favorite blogs. Then go there and leave a comment saying that blogger XYZ sent you.

Relationships are important. Cultivate them. They are just as important in the blogosphere as they are outside of it. There may come a time when you have to take a break from blogging. If you don't want to lose momentum you can ask other bloggers to serve as a guest blogger on your blog.

Most of the time they'll let their readers know that they are pinch hitting elsewhere and you just might find yourself with some new readers.

And don't forget that it works the other way too. If you have the opportunity to be a guest blogger take it. It is an excellent way to expose yourself and your blog to a brand new audience.

But most of all, just have fun. I may be biased, but the best and most enjoyable blogs are those that Blog with passion and blog with joy. Blog with energy.

What do you think?

More Links That Caught My Eye

Why Google Wants You to Google Yourself- The assault on Facebook begins.
The Ten Greatest Pontiacs-1978 Smokey & The Bandit takes the cake.
50 Most Heartbreaking Songs of All Time
Vatican planned to move to Portugal if Nazis captured wartime Pope
Abbas won't recognize Israel as a Jewish state- No problem, Hamas doesn't recognize him as having any authority.

The Science Behind Beer Goggling

Time Magazine has an interesting story called Does Beer (Goggling) Affect Whom We Find Attractive?

The new study, set to be published in June in the 100th issue of the British Journal of Psychology, examined how alcohol plays into all these murky attractions to youth. The vast majority of men don't act on their potentially inappropriate, or criminal, impulses, but can those who do blame the booze?

The study's authors, Egan and Cordan, asked their 120 drinking and 120 sober participants to rate the attractiveness of 15-year-old girls versus 19-year-old girls shown in photographs. The study participants were evenly divided between men and women. For ethical and legal reasons, the photos were actually altered images of 17-year-old students from McMaster University in Ontario; they had given permission for their likenesses to be used. Researchers digitally manipulated the pictures to make the students' craniofacial features look like those of typical 15-year-olds or those of 19-year-olds. The doctored pictures were then shown in random order to participants recruited in bars, airport lounges, cafes and other natural settings.

On average, the participants found the "15-year-olds" slightly more attractive than the "19-year-olds," which reconfirms our inclination toward neoteny. Both men and women found the more youthful images of girls to be a bit more attractive than the older ones.

Surprisingly, drinking had little impact on the results.

365 Days of Face Painting

Wacky artist paints his face for a full year.

Do You Like Audio Posts?

A quick poll for those who care to answer. Do you like the audio posts?

Facebook and Bad Photos

Facebook has created some unforeseen issues for me that I refer to as Facebook and Bad Photos. These photos fall into two categories.

The first are pictures of myself that I do not like because I think that I look bad in them. By that I mean that I don't like the way I look because I am making a face or they make me look like I need to lose 763 pounds.

The second category are those pictures in which I am doing something that I do not think ought to be broadcast to the world. Hypothetically speaking someone could post a picture of me from 1992 in which it is clear that I and my companions are inebriated.

Now I am not saying that such a photo exists and if it did I would point out that when I am tired my eyes are red and I walk around with a goofy grin on my face. But if it did, I'd probably ask that it not be included.

As for the first category, well that is a different issue altogether. I am relatively photogenic. Most of the time I am happy with my pictures but lately there have been a few posted in which I cringe.

Perhaps you can blame it upon illusions of grandeur, in my head I always envision myself in my early twenties and I no longer look like that. I don't think that I look terrible, but I admit to being less than pleased with the current state of affairs.

What do you think? Have friends/relatives/acquaintances posted pictures of you online that you are unhappy with? Fill us in, inquiring minds want to know.

Comment Policy: Free Advertising

Consider this a clarification of the commenting policy here in two specific areas.

Most people understand that hate speech is simply inappropriate and they do not expect to be allowed to post wherever they go. This blog is no different. Post that here and it will be deleted, except when it meets specific needs.

For example, it may be used to help illustrate to the world just what sort of bigoted ass you are.

The second area to address is what we refer to as "free advertising." In general the proprietors of the Shack do not provide free advertising. If you have a particular product or service that you wish to promote you are welcome to contact me and I will be happy to discuss it with you.

It should be noted that if you operate a business blog and choose to comment here our preference is that you use a name and not your business name in the comments section. When I see comments from or others that make me think that a spam blog has found me I tend to delete first and ask questions later.

Your cooperation is appreciated.

Israeli Security Repels Pirates

Ynet reports that an Italian cruise ship was attacked by pirates. However the assault was successfully repelled by their Israeli security team.

An Italian cruise ship with 1,500 people on board fended off a pirate attack far off the coast of Somalia when its Israeli private security forces exchanged fire with the bandits and drove them away, the commander said Sunday.

Cmdr. Ciro Pinto told Italian state radio that six men in a small white boat approached the Msc Melody and opened fire Saturday night, but retreated after the Israeli security officers aboard the cruise ship returned fire.

"It felt like we were in war," Pinto said. None of the roughly 1,000 passengers and 500 crew members were hurt, Melody owner Msc Cruises said in a statement issued by its German branch.

Domenico Pellegrino, head of the Italian cruise line, said Msc hired the Israelis because they were the best trained security agents, the ANSA news agency reported.

Haveil Havalim #214 - The Radiant Ziv edition

Every week the Jewish/Israeli blogosphere produces a weekly blog carnival of posts that cover politics, culture, religion, humor and more.

It is my great pleasure to let you know that the latest edition is now live. Go over to The Rebbetzin's Husband and read Haveil Havalim #214 - The Radiant Ziv edition.

Jack and Dr. Seuss

Sometimes when life is feeling particularly challenging I take a few minutes to read the work of one of my favorite philosophers, Dr. Seuss.

Oh, the Places You'll Go!
Today is your day.You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go.

You'll look up and down streets.
Look 'em over with care.
About some you will say, "I don't choose to go there.
"With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you're too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any
you'll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you'll head straight out of town.

It's opener there
in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.
And when things start to happen,
don't worry. Don't stew.
Just go right along.
You'll start happening too.

You'll be on your way up!
You'll be seeing great sights!
You'll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don' t
Because, sometimes, you won't.

I'm sorry to say so
but, sadly, it's true
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.
You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You'll be left in a Lurch.

You'll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are,
then,that you'll be in a Slump.

And when you're in a Slump,
you're not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked
.Some windows are lighted. But mostly they're darked.
A place you could sprain both you elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And IF you go in, should you turn left or right
...or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it's not, I'm afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused
that you'll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place...

...for people just waiting.Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

That's not for you!

Somehow you'll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You'll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.
With banner flip-flapping,
once more you'll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you're that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you'll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored.there are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You'll be famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don't.
Because, sometimes, they won't.
I'm afraid that some times
you'll play lonely games too.
Games you can't win'
cause you'll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you'll be quite a lot.
And when you're alone, there's a very good chance
you'll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won't want to go on.

But on you will go
though the weather be foul
On you will go
though your enemies prowl
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.
On and on you will hike
and I know you'll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.
You'll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You'll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that
Life's a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3 /4 percent guaranteed.)

be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or
Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
you're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way!

Harry Chapin and Jack

In a different time and place I would have been one of those singer/songwriters, a bard, a traveling minstrel. I would have been some sort of court jester who traveled around the world. A collector of tales and epic adventures I'd pay my way by the use of my incredible talent to sing and tell stories.

But as I said, that dream takes place in a different time and space. I am not that Jack, but sometimes I wish that I were. I can't sing worth a damn, at least not with the sort of sound that people would pay to listen to. Perhas I could be paid not to sing, but that defeats part of the dream now doesn't it.

I like to think that I am a decent storyteller, not great, but decent. The good news is that it is a skill that can be practiced and improved upon. With some time and effort I am confident that I can improve. In a different post I might address the areas that I want to focus on, but not now.

Instead I want to share two more thoughts with you.

Earlier this week I found myself listening to one of my Harry Chapin CDs, The Gold Medal Collection. Two songs in particular really grabbed me, Cats In The Cradle and W*O*L*D*.

They caught me because there are so many elements in them that make me stop and say that could be my life. Now there is nothing profound in that, there is a reason why they were so popular. I am just one of many who feel this way about them, but they are part of the reason why I have this dream of being able to write songs like these.

For those of you are unfamiliar with the lyrics of these two songs let me share two excerpts that I appreciate:
"Sometimes I get this crazy dream
That I just drive off in my car
But you can travel on ten thousand miles and still say where you are
I've been thinking that I should quit disk jockeying
And start that record store
Maybe I could settle down
if you'ld take me back once more"

"Well I've long since retired my son's moved away.
I called him up just the other day.
I said, I'd like to see you if you don't mind.
He said, I'd love to, dad, if I could find the time.
You see my new job's a hassle, and the kid's got the flu,
But it's sure nice talking to you, dad.
It's been sure nice talking to you.
And as I hung up the phone, it occurred to me,
He'd grown up just like me.
My boy was just like me."
Cats In The Cradle

Indian Women Say No Toilet, No Wedding

This story is a good reminder to be thankful for what we have. More televisions, than toilets, that is bizarre.

In the northern Indian state of Haryana, courtship is generally intricate business, but the mothers of the brides-to-be have simplified matters by clearing stating to potential grooms: “If you don’t have a toilet, you cannot marry my daughter.”

In the northern Indian state of Haryana, courtship is generally intricate business, but the mothers of the brides-to-be have simplified matters by clearing stating to potential grooms: “If you don’t have a toilet, you cannot marry my daughter.”

The slogan, which is a bit longer in Hindi and specifically reads: “If you don’t have a proper lavatory in your house, don’t even think about marrying my daughter,” has been plastered all across villages as part of a campaign to increase the number of available facilities.

The chronic shortage of proper plumbing is ironic in a region of the country where more households have TV sets than toilets.

Believe it or not, it is estimated that in India more than 660 million people still defecate in the open, causing a myriad of medical conditions ranging from diarrhea to polio.

With 8% more men than women, the fairer sex in India have become more vocal about expressing their resentment at having to relieve themselves outside, giving brides more leverage in pre-marital bargaining.

“Women suffer the most from this situation. They must go outside and they have to do so before sunrise or after nightfall so they can’t be seen,” said Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of Sulabh, a company that has built toilets for ten million Indians, and the recipient of this year’s Stockholm Water Prize for developing eco-friendly lavatories to improve public health.

Hard Rock Bug Repellent

Who knew that listening to Stairway to Heaven or Paint it Black can help you rid yourself of vermin.
TUSCARORA, Nev. -- The residents of this tiny town, anticipating an imminent attack, will be ready with a perimeter defense. They'll position their best weapons at regular intervals, faced out toward the desert to repel the assault.

Then they'll turn up the volume.

Rock music blaring from boomboxes has proved one of the best defenses against an annual invasion of Mormon crickets. The huge flightless insects are a fearsome sight as they advance across the desert in armies of millions that march over, under or into anything in their way.

But the crickets don't much fancy Led Zeppelin or the Rolling Stones, the townspeople figured out three years ago. So next month, Tuscarorans are preparing once again to get out their extension cords, array their stereos in a quarter-circle and tune them to rock station KHIX, full blast, from dawn to dusk. "It is part of our arsenal," says Laura Moore, an unemployed college professor and one of the town's 13 residents.

Why NFL Draft Picks Fail

I really enjoy Live Science because they come up with a slew of interesting articles. This particular article discusses NFL draft picks and their success or lack thereof.

If you read through the article it discusses how the combine is not always a great indicator of success. Can't say that I was surprised by that. Ezzie will probably be particularly interested in the section on cleveland which delineates the three factors that cause those teams to lose.

Not to mention how it also translates to a huge disappointment for LeBron and company, but I digress.

I recommend reading the article. But I'll also add that I think that is more proof that few tests do a good job of really measuring how good people will be at anything. There are far too many variables that can influence performance.

And now an excerpt for your review:

"But in a new study, Frank Kuzmits and Arthur Adams, professors at the University of Louisville, evaluated more than 300 quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers drafted over six seasons from 1999-2004.

They compared the players' combine performance on seven physical tests and the WPT with measures of success in the NFL. These three skill positions were chosen as they have distinct performance statistics that can be tracked (as opposed to linemen or defensive players.) Each position used the success metrics of draft order, salaries for years 1-3 and games played for years 1-3. In addition, QB rating, yards per carry and yards per reception were measured for quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers, respectively.

No significant link was found between combine performance and NFL success, except between 40-yard dash times and running backs. Interestingly, even the Wonderlic aptitude test did not predict NFL achievement, even though a skill position like quarterback requires a decent amount of cognitive talent. That's not to say other psychological tests would be worthless. Kuzmits and Adams cite other studies that show a player's level of self-confidence and anxiety management to be strong clues to their future accomplishments.

Of course, not all draft picks are surrounded by great teammates and some don't even get out on the field during those first few seasons. But this research showed that good or bad performance in the combine is not related to good or bad performance on the field. So, the researchers question the value of these combine tests as a draft decision support tool.They do see a similarity between NFL teams choosing players and companies choosing employees."

Bridge over Troubled Water- Good Version

The Somalian Pirates Successful Business Model

In our continuing series of posts about the Somalian pirates we are pleased to present an interview with a former FBI agent (Jack Cloonan) who specializes in negotiating with pirates.

In it he discusses the hierarchy, intelligence of the pirates and how they communicate.

Here are a few excerpts for your review.
SPIEGEL: How does the money get delivered to the pirates? For example, are speedboats used?

Jack Cloonan: Delivering money is an extremely difficult part of the negotiation process because once you strike a deal, you do have to deliver the ransom. We used to rent tugboats in Mombasa. But the tugboat captains -- some of whom have delivered ransoms repeatedly -- have actually charged more for the delivery of the ransom than the actual ransom amount. What we do is, we cruise to a certain agreed-upon location with coordinates, you get within sight, the delivery is made from a bagman to the bad guys and then you hope that the pirates do the right thing. They generally do.

SPIEGEL: From your experience with the Somali pirates, are they intelligent people? Or are they simply thugs?

Cloonan: They're not stupid. They know that they've got a life -- they can leverage that. They know that it's a successful business model. They know that they can operate in this wide swath of area almost with impunity and they can pick and choose. And they're developing better strategies. They're going further out from the coast because they know the ships have been advised by the International Maritime Bureau to stay a minimum of 200 nautical miles offshore. If ships come in within say 50 or 100 miles, they're easily stopped.

And they are effective -- for example, when they call family members to induce stress. I think shooting off a gun during a telephone call and saying you just killed someone is pretty effective. I think moving ships and threatening to beach them is effective. The fact that they anchor the ships within sight of each other is very intelligent. Some are better than others.

SPIEGEL: In terms of the sociology of the pirates, do you have a sense of their hierarchy or of their structures?

Cloonan: Oftentimes when we've been engaged you'll see that there's a commander who's in charge once they get on board. And that situation can be very fluid. You might be dealing with Ahmed one day, maybe for two days, and then he gets frustrated and you get somebody else that comes on. As these things go on -- and they can typically last a month or more -- you'll have several representatives from the pirates but then at some point where you're really getting close and you're getting frustrated and they're getting frustrated, invariably the decision-maker comes forward. I equate it to buying a car in the United States. You're dealing with somebody and negotiating and then finally he just throws his hands up and says: "All right, I've got to go talk to my manager." And then they come back in and make a deal.

Our experience with the pirates suggests to us that there is an organizational structure. So if we're not making progress with somebody on board during the negotiations, then we ask for the right person, the decision-maker. He could be on land, he could be on board.

If you read the whole interview you'll see that Cloonan addresses the question of the best way to try and prevent these incidents. His suggestions include taking a different route and escorts for the ships.

I'll avoid snarky comments about that and suggest that non lethal measures may not be the most effective tool for dealing with these criminals. But then again, I am just a guy writing this from the comfort of my keyboard, so what do I know.

The Naked Wizard & The Police

The police have a very tough job. I am serious about that. Any time you deal with people you are bound to encounter situations that are going to be quite challenging. And we ask the police to deal with a million different kinds.

They not only have the so called normal citizens but all of the criminals and mentally ill to contend with as well. And now they get to do all of this in a time in which their interactions can be filmed and uploaded for millions of people to critique.

It is a tough job under any circumstances and that just makes it worse. Add to it the suspicion that many people have about cops and you have a recipe for all sorts of trouble.

Anyway, law enforcement is not for me. I have little to no interest in it and I certainly wouldn't want to have to deal with people like The Naked Wizard in the video below. I'll lay odds that these officers end up getting sued for tasering this man.

Now maybe he deserved it and maybe he didn't, hard to say without having see the whole event. What we know for certain is that in addition to this footage there has got to be all sorts of other short clips that were filmed by others. This should make for a fun investigation.

Naked Wizard Tased By Reality from Tracy Anderson on Vimeo.

I Was Interviewed- Shameless Self Promotion

Want to learn a little bit more about me? Go read my interview at DovBear.

Automobile Repairs- Your Mechanic & You

Many years ago I remember telling the Shmata Queen about the similarities between cars and women. It was one of those obnoxious comparisons in which you suggest that both are expensive hobbies, but at least the car doesn't talk back.

Some of you are probably waiting for the punch line where I tell you about how she literally punched me. Sorry to disappoint you, but The Shmata Queen was and is so madly in love with me that it was all she could do not to kiss me. Did I tell you that one of the many attributes she finds so very attractive is my enormous and incomparable humility..

Hee hee. I can't stop laughing. When she reads this I am going to need to be certain to be extra wary, that woman carries an enormous black purse and let me assure you, it hurts to be belted with it.

Anyhoo, the joyous man that you all know as moi, Jack has a wry grin upon his face. You see my car decided to start smoking yesterday and sadly it wasn't a good cigar. So off we went to see the wonderful wizard of auto repairs where we received a laundry list of items that needed to be attended to.

My dear beloved Honda is 9 years old and has 98,760 miles give or take a few on it. Up to now I haven't had to do much other than change a few tires and a little brake work. But something told me that our relationship was going to change a bit this time around.

The damn radiator gave up on me. It is cracked. And because it can't just be one thing to deal with there were a number of others that demand attention. So I reviewed the list and gave approval to hook up a direct line between my bank account and the mechanic.

And now I am sitting here watching the IV, kind of bittersweet to see all those dollars flowing through that clear plastic. I had such hopes and dreams for it all.

On a more serious note, I am very familiar with my mechanic. I have been taking my cars to him for years now and they have always treated me fairly which is why I still see them. That level of trust is very important. I know enough about cars to understand what is important and what isn't.

That is not to say that you can't B.S. me, but it is not going to be easy. And what I appreciate about these guys is that they haven't ever tried to do so. They always give me a list of what is necessary and what is recommended.

Still, it hurts to have to drain my bank account like this. I don't think that I have ever been able to buy a car on my terms. It always has come at a point in time when I couldn't stomach pouring more cash into whatever vehicle I was dealing with at that time.

One of these days I'd like to change that. I'll add that to my list. In the meantime I have to go find my helmet because I have this sneaking suspicion that I am in danger of getting bonked in the head. Hee hee, I can just hear her now. ;)

Yes, She is an Idiot

This is one of those stories that makes me shake my head. I am sorry that this woman was hurt, but she created the problem for herself.

A Cheatham County woman who said she was beaten after giving a homeless man a cheeseburger outside a Nashville McDonald's last year is suing the restaurant, a nearby liquor store and her alleged attacker.

Fran MacLaren and her husband, Thomas, filed suit in Davidson County Circuit Court on Monday. They are asking for $2 million in damages.

In the criminal assault case against David Craig last April, MacLaren testified that she went to a Nolensville Road McDonald's for lunch on April 21, 2008. The homeless man, Craig, was outside of the fast-food chain after being told to leave a nearby liquor store, named in the suit as Uncle Koto Liquor Store.

MacLaren gave Craig the cheeseburger as he was lying down in a parking spot outside the restaurant. Craig shouted he didn't want the burger, just money and threw the burger at MacLaren, she testified.

"I told him he was an ungrateful bastard,'' she testified.

Craig went after her, she said. He struck her repeatedly, broke her nose, fractured her wrist, cheekbone and cracked a rib, she said. She also injured her knee.

Tweeting About Twitter- One Blogger Speaks

I signed up for Twitter in December of 2008 and have been exploring/examining its utility for myself since then. Midway through my fourth month of using it I don't have a good feel for whether it is really helped me.

There are aspects of it that I really like. It is a useful tool as a source of information as well as for disseminating it. But I suspect that it is doing more to hinder blogging than to help it.

Based upon personal experience I find that things I would have blogged about are getting swept aside and turned into a simple tweet. It appears to me that some other bloggers are experiencing the same thing.

However since I haven't conducted any sort of poll this might not be entirely accurate. I don't know.

I have also been careful not to let myself get too wrapped up in it. There is only so much time in the day and far too many things that serve as distractions or unintentional time sucking devices.

In fairness I should add that I feel a bit like I am in the middle of the dog days of blogging. I still do it and I still enjoy it, but it has lost a bit of the shine for me. We'll have to see if that is temporary state or something else.

What do you think of Twitter?

Music From The Morning

A quick look at some of the music I listened to this morning.

Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand- Primitive Radio Gods
You're Gonna Go Far, Kid-The Offspring
Gone Away- The Offspring
Jerusalem- Matisyahu
Just Another Day- Oingo Boingo
Insanity-Oingo Boingo
GoldenEye- Tina Turner
Tikva-Subliminal & The Shadow
Mr. Brightside- The Killers
Tuesday Afternoon- The Moody Blues
The Voice- The Moody Blues

Dad, What Is a Gas Chamber?

"Dad, What Is a Gas Chamber" is one of the most horrific questions that I have heard in my life. He is not quite 8.5 and he wants to know what a gas chamber is and why people would murder other people.

He says that he can't understand why people would be mean to someone else just because they look different or have different thoughts. I am more than troubled by this because I know that I have to answer his questions. I know that I have to despoil more of his innoncence and tell him that some people are just bad.

I have to tell him that in this house we teach everyone to judge a person based upon their actions and that even though it is the right way, not everyone follows it. I tell him that some people are bad and there is no good explanation for it.

Inquisitive eyes look up at me and he says that he doesn't understand and that he thinks he might be a little afraid. I tell him not to be afraid, that most people don't act like that. I tell him that part of why people have to have these conversations is so that we can help others prevent these things.

He smiles and tells me that he feels better because he knows that if anyone tried to hurt anyone in his family I would kill them. He knows that if anyone did anything I would get them first. He looks up at me and says that he is ok with me killing someone if they try to hurt one of us.

Now I turn away because there is a tear in my eye. I want to scream at the injustice of it all. I want to yell because it is unfair that yet one more piece of his innocence is being taken from him all too soon.

It hurts to see him learn these lessons, but he has to know. So we are very careful with these conversations to try and make them age appropriate. But kids are kids and they find out things. They listen to what is going on around them. They talk to their friends and they learn. So some things come out earlier than you'd think and you do the best you can.

I am grateful that he feels comfortable speaking to me and that I make him feel safe. I don't tell him that a parent's worst fear is that the monsters get to the kids first, that for whatever reason we aren't there to protect them.

Later on I watch him sleep. He is out, the picture of bliss and harmony. I used to sleep like that. I used to just close my eyes and that was it. But not anymore. Now there is always one ear open, listening, just in case.

I am exhausted now, but I won't be able to sleep for a while. That question haunts me, "Dad, What Is a Gas Chamber?"

Recent Posts

Things move fast and furiously around here. It is pretty easy to miss a post or two. For those of you who haven't been around here is a quick summary of some of the recent material.

Yom HaShoah- Holocaust Memorial Day
Still Coping with Sick Parents
Three Computers & A BlackBerry
More on Columbine
A Warranty for The Warranty
The Speech Nixon Never Had to Give
Do You Follow Your Own Advice
Getting Paid for Your Relationship
Thunder & Lightning
Sarkozy Calls Obama Weak
Does Whole Foods Support Terrorism
Snake Tries to Eat Man, Man Bites Back

Yom HaShoah- Holocaust Memorial Day

Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Memorial Day has begun and I find myself searching for the proper way to express my thoughts about the day.

It is of critical importance, this day. It is a time to reflect upon the horrors of the past so that we do not forget that they can happen again. One of the saddest truths about humanity is that we have ample examples from past and present times of the barbarism that man can exhibit towards other men.

There are a number of issues that surround this day that concern me. As more time passes and more survivors die it becomes easier for the world to forget and for the deniers to try to make their case.

I have often wondered how the deniers can claim that six million did not die and that it was a smaller number of only a few hundred thousand. Either number is incredibly hard to digest, to fathom, to understand. Is there any less horror in saying that only 100,000 lives were intentionally snuffed out.

The answer is no. But it would be wrong to allow the horror of those days to be diminished and wrong to those who perished and those who survived. So it is critical that we confront those who make these claims and show that they are false.

While I was trying to determine what I wanted to include in this post I reviewed what I had done in the past and noticed that I had mentioned Ahmadinejad several times. I don't mean that in the context of having mentioned him several times in a post, but that I did so in more than one year.

Ahmadinejad was/is a constant in these posts, a Holocaust denier and antisemite who has called for the destruction of Israel. History has taught us that when someone in a position of power makes these sorts of outlandish threats you need to pay attention.

You don't make label it as being flowery political rhetoric or make any sort of excuses for it. It would be dangerous and foolhardy to ignore these remarks or take them as anything less than a declaration of his intentions.

There are too many examples of what happens when people remain silent. Africa burns and the world ignores its screams. Darfur now, Rwanda earlier.

If we are to take the lesson of never again seriously we need to apply it today and tomorrow. The world has a very short memory of just how brutal we can be to each other. Watch and be dismayed. May we never see such things again.

Crossposted on Yourish.

Still Coping with Sick Parents

Fifteen years ago my uncle died. He was my father's younger and only brother. He was 49. At the time I knew that was young, but it didn't strike me as to how very young it was. It is really now that I am about to crest the hill and turn 40 that I see it as being half a life, but is related to this somewhat tangentially.

His death marked a turning point in my relationship and understanding of my father. I see it a bit as a benchmark for when I began to truly recognize that my father was just a man and subject to the same laws and science as all men are.

It was the first time that I really saw him in a light where he wasn't our shining knight, protector of the family. I stood back and watched as he and my grandfather hugged each other. I watched as a father and son coped with their loss and tried to make sense of it. That was really when I understood that though he was my father, there was much more to him.

And now I find myself in a different sort of position than I did back then. Now I am more than a son and a brother, but a father as well. Now I understand the responsibility of caring for a family and trying to be the rock, even when it feels like the world around you is collapsing.

A short while ago I received a telephone call from my mother and let her fill me in on my father's latest medical procedure. It was a good call. His health is ok, pooey, pooey, but it is not what you would call stellar. The man has a lot of medical challenges. There are some serious issues there and I find myself worrying about him.

Is it fair to call him a sick parent. I don't know that I can say that because his health is certainly better than others I know. But, it is a precarious thing as there are any number of things that could send it in the wrong direction.

Most of the time it is not a conscious worry. To the best of our knowledge there is no reason to think that we are going to suddenly lose him, but then again it is not impossible either. Given the things that have happened, that history makes it hard not to be concerned.

I haven't got any brothers, plenty of brother-in-laws, but no brothers. So if heaven forbid something happens to him I am the last male connection to certain things.

Don't misunderstand me, I am not trying to buy sorrow early. But it is a bit surreal. I didn't expect to really worry about my parents until they were somewhere in their eighties or nineties. Maybe that is ridiculous, maybe it is naive, but it was what I expected.

Instead I find myself sandwiched in this place where I worry about them and my family. So here I sit sharing these thoughts with whomever reads them. Here I sit thinking about how many of my friends have already lost a parent, many of them at a very young age. Here I sit with gratitude for everything, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit to feeling nervous from time to time.

It is a screwy world, but it is the only we have got so I suppose we'll just have to make do. In the meantime I'll share one more thought with you and that is this.

I wonder when my own children will go through this process. I wonder when I'll cease being superman and become Clark Kent, just another ordinary Joe. I don't really mind that all, I just hope that it doesn't happen until they become adults. It would be nice to keep this going for a bit longer.

Three Computers & A BlackBerry

More on Columbine

Today is the ten year anniversary of the Columbine tragedy. Since many of my readers were on vacation last week I thought that I'd follow up on that post with another.

As I said in my initial post I have always been bothered by the attempt to explain the actions of the perpetrators of this atrocity as somehow having been tied into bullying.

It is understandable that in the face of tragedy people try to understand why things happen. But I cannot accept an explanation that absolves these two monsters of responsibility for their actions.

More importantly if you read some of the stories that have come out about that day you will see that Klebold and Harris were not the victims of bullying. Still, even if they had been there is no excuse for their actions. The majority of the world does not resort to violence in the face of mistreatment.

"(CNN) -- What do you remember about April 20, 1999?

If you recall that two unpopular teenage boys from the Trench Coat Mafia sought revenge against the jocks by shooting up Columbine High School, you're wrong.

But you're not alone.

Ten years after the massacre in Littleton, Colorado, there's still a collective memory of two Goth-obsessed loners, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who went on a shooting rampage and killed 12 of their classmates and a teacher, injured 23 others and then turned their guns on themselves.

Journalist and author Dave Cullen was one of the first to take on what he calls the myths of Columbine. He kept at it for a decade, challenging what the media and law enforcement officials reported.

"Kids had never been attacked in this kind of way until Columbine," he recently told CNN. "I just had to find out what happened to those kids."

Cullen's book,"Columbine," was released this month -- just in time for today's 10th anniversary of the shooting at the Colorado high school. While tackling popular misconceptions, Cullen also gives a riveting account of what happened that day and how the survivors view the event that marked their lives forever.

Cullen concluded that the killers weren't part of the Trench Coat Mafia, that they weren't bullied by other students and that they didn't target popular jocks, African-Americans or any other group. A school shooting wasn't their initial intent, he said. They wanted to bomb their school in an attack they hoped would make them more infamous than Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh."

If you think about it, that last sentence makes it all the more frightening.

A Warranty for The Warranty

In general I am not a huge fan of warranties for the things that I own. I suppose that you can attribute this to a my feeling that the warranties are a marketing trick that is used to try and suck a few more dollars out of me and the fact that most are just inadequate.

Now I am not going to try and make a case for whether either of these thoughts are factually accurate. I'll leave that job to Consumer Reports and other organizations that are dedicated to protecting consumer rights.

At the moment I am particularly irritated because during the past several months I have spent more time than I care to think about dealing with the customer service departments of various manufacturers.

All of these conversations start out the same way. I provide the details about why something I own is no longer working and my desire to see it fixed/repaired/replaced whatever. They in turn tell me what options exist for solving my problem and in many cases it has been a relatively painless process.

But not every time. On more than one occasion I have found myself wishing that I could figure out a way to crawl through the phone so that I might throttle the customer service representative on the other side.

Those moments find me staring at the phone trying to figure out what the source of the communication breakdown is. Maybe it is me. Maybe aliens have zapped me with some sort of invisible laser beam and I no longer speak English. Maybe what they are hearing is me speaking ancient Mayan and that is why they keep asking me to repeat myself.

On one occasion I kept waiting for Ashton Kutcher to jump out and say that I was being Punk'd. He is lucky that he didn't because I know that Demi prefers that he not be forced to use a straw to eat.

Let's talk about cars for a moment. A while back I purchased a car that I had been leasing. During negotiations the dealer tried to confound me with BS about this and that and threw in a warranty as a gesture of good faith. I didn't really care. We had already agreed upon the price that I wanted so it was nice, but nothing special.

Anyway, I had a small issue with the car recently. This all inclusive warranty was supposed to protect me from virtually anything, except the issue that I had was the one freaking thing not covered by the warranty.

Pretty nifty eh.

And the beat goes on. Last night I discovered that the glass on one of my exterior doors has cracked. It is less than three years old. Needless to say I wasn't pleased. So I dug into my file and found the paperwork for its purchase and called Home Depot.

Mr. Doorman told me that I shouldn't worry because it should have a five year warranty on it. Of course, they don't cover that, the manufacturer does. So he gave their telephone number and told me that I should call them tomorrow morning and he was sure that they'd take care of it.

I asked him what happens if they don't and he said, "don't worry about it, I am sure that they will." Easy for him to say and I hope that he is right. But even if he is, none of them are going to compensate me for the time that I have lost taking care of these things.

I suppose that I really shouldn't complain, but it is times like this that I miss being twenty something and not having to worry about warranties. Back then when it died, it was dead and that was that. There was somethig kind of nice about knowing a quick garage sale would take care of disposing of all my crap.

On the other hand, there is something nice about having real stuff now too. I just wish that it would last a bit longer, or that I had a concierge who could take care of it all for me.

The Speech Nixon Never Had to Give

This July marks the 40th anniversary of the moon landing. Had tragedy struck President Nixon would have had to address the nation. This article discusses the speech that he would have given. It was entitled In the event of Moon disaster.

If Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin had been stranded on the Moon, unable to return to Michael Collins’s orbiting Apollo 11 command ship, Nixon would have called their widows then addressed a horror-struck nation.

“Fate has ordained that the men who went to the Moon to explore in peace will stay on the Moon to rest in peace,” he would have told the watching millions.

These brave men know there is no hope for their recovery but they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.

“These two men are laying down their lives in mankind’s most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.

“They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by their nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown.

“In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man.”

The President would have added: “In ancient days, men looked at stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood. Others will follow and surely find their way home. Man’s search will not be denied but these men were the first and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.”

And in an allusion to Rupert Brooke’s First World War poem The Soldier, his concluding lines were to be: “For every human being who looks up at the Moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.”

Haveil Havalim #213

The 213th edition of Haveil Havalim, the Jewish/Israeli blogosphere's blog carnival is up at The Real Shaliach.

Do You Follow Your Own Advice

Sometimes I am plagued by doubt. Sometimes I look in the mirror and stare at the face and wonder how that guy is going to get through the day because I am not convinced that he is up for the job. I stare and wonder if everyone else can see that he is just really good at faking it.

And then sometimes I feel the exact opposite of that. There are moments that I can only describe as being triumphant. Moments in which I am completely confident that everything I desire will come to me because I can make it happen.

The real trick is to not live in either extreme but to try and stay centered. Most of the time I feel like I do a pretty good job of it. Most of the time I feel like I have a realistic view of what is going on and a solid idea about how to keep things afloat.

But the moments of doubt do come. There are those times when I feel like have the most tenuous grasp on it all, when I feel like everyone else gets what they want, but I don't.

When that happens I take a deep breath and take a general accounting of what I have. I look around and remind myself of all that I have achieved and accept that it is possible that I could lose it all. Everything could go away. All that I love and hold dear could be taken from me.

I know this. Been to enough funerals to see the truth and the possibility of it all.

But I also know that it is highly unlikely that it will happen. Life is always going to be a bit of a roller coaster. There are going to be the good moments and the bad. So all I need to do is try to steer that middle course and remind myself that nothing lasts forever. The good times may come and go, but so do the bad times.

The hardest part for me is taking my own advice. I'll be damned if sometimes the hard times don't seem to have taken up permanent residence. I suppose that part of why I like blogging is that it makes it easier for me to see the evidence of all sides.

Anyway, I am working hard on taking one piece of advice more seriously, and that is getting more rest. So if you'll excuse me I am off to catch some shut eye.

Getting Paid for Your Relationship

The New York Time has an article about a website that offers a different sort of matchmaking. provides a service that is available for use by men and women.

More to the point it helps arrange meetings between those who wish to play sugar daddy or sugar mama as the case may be and those who wish to be kept.

These sorts of relationships have long predated the Internet, but I can't help but be curious as to how many more have been created because of it. Not making a judgment call here, just commenting on yet another example of how the net has changed lives.

"... They’re not searching for longtime soul mates; they want no-strings-attached “arrangements” that trade in society’s most valued currencies: wealth, youth and beauty. In the cheesy lexicon of the site, they are “sugar daddies” and “sugar babies.”

There’s the 18-year-old from France asking for $5,000 to $10,000 a month from “a mentor who can provide me with the finer things in life and keep me happy!” And the 49-year-old investor from upstate New York willing to pay $5,000 a month for a “daytime playmate” for “intense connection without commitment.” Critics say the site is at best a convenience store for adulterers and at worst a virtual brothel, but Brandon Wade, Seeking Arrangement’s 38-year-old founder and chief executive, is unperturbed by the criticism. “We stress relationships that are mutually beneficial,” he says. “We ask people to really think about what they want in a relationship and what they have to offer. That kind of upfront honesty is a good basis for any relationship.”

The site now claims more than 300,000 registered members, far fewer than mainstream dating sites like, which has 1.5 million paying subscribers, but still a remarkable number. Sugar babies outnumber daddies 10 to 1, Wade says, providing what one sugar daddy called “the best fishing hole I ever fished in.”

This abundance of possibility is part of what the site is selling, along with fantasy. Some of these men — especially those shopping for women half their age — are digging deep into their pockets to pay for an illusion: that despite their receding hairlines and wattled skin, they’re still enchanting enough to charm pretty young women. One image on the site features a dazed, graying man doted on by two barely clad attendants — a caricature of an already caricatured relationship. But this marketing spin doesn’t capture the nuances of the relationships that often develop between the “daddies” and the “babies” who meet on the site — relationships that can turn out to be more complicated than even the members themselves expect."

Hannah Montana Movie

The dark haired beauty wants to see the Hannah Montana movie as soon as possible. As a little sister she knows that she is obligated to do her best to aggravate her older brother as frequently as possible. She accomplishes this by telling him that their father, me, has agreed to take them both to go see it.

What she does not tell him is that although I have agreed that she can see the movie, I haven't said one word about when we'll see it. Seconds after her announcement he comes flying into my room to express his disapproval, displeasure and disappointment with this.

"Dad, you know that I hate Hannah Montana. Why would you make me see it."

I look at him and ask him if he really thinks that I am going to take him to see the movie. Would I really waste money on a ticket for a movie I know that he won't like.

He nods his head at me and I can see that he is lost in thought. A moment later he looks at me and says, "Dad, I think that you aren't telling me something."

I look at him and ask him what he means.

"Dad, girls are really annoying. They must really be good at something for you to you have put up with them as long as you have."

I think that one day I am going to have to revisit this conversation with him, but for now we'll let it sit.

Cleveland Tourism Video

Some Links

The President Ties His Own Hands on Terror

She Didn't know she was Pregnant- How does that happen.

Scuba-diving 'Satanists' hack off arms of submerged Jesus statue

Be Careful- Your Balls Might Explode
Sex Spray To Stave Off Orgasm Might Not Be So Revolutionary After All
Tourists have to try to combat the 'ugly American'
Thief to victim: 'You can have your car back'- The Shmata Queen would do something like this.
Moms spill truth about motherhood- Someone tell them to quit complaining and get cooking.
Saudi official moves to regulate child marriages- Sure they are. And cleveland is a nice place to live, the sky is purple and Britanny Spears has real talent.

Thunder & Lightning

The distant boom of thunder and a flash of lightning made it clear that Springtime had arrived. Her desk was on the 22nd floor providing her with a clear view of the cloud filled sky. Though it was only midmorning the black clouds and falling rain made it appear to be far later than it was.

For a moment she stared out the window and lost herself in thought. Later that day she'd join a thousand other commuters on the road and engage in the joy of rush hour. She was hopeful that it would be an uneventful drive, but this time of year you never did know when a hailstorm might start.

A good hailstorm could wreak havoc upon your car. Out here the hail had a proclivity for being larger, golf ball and even softball size hail were not uncommon. It was fun to watch from within the comfort of your home, provided it wasn't wrecking your car or battering a hole in your roof.

Two more blasts of thunder made her windows shake. That didn't bode well for bedtime. The kids hated the noise and would seek comfort sleeping with mom. That was good for them, they'd get a full nights rest, but not so good for her. They had a tendency to roll around and kick their legs. More than likely she'd wake up bruised and exhausted.

As she sat there lost in thought she wondered if he ever thought about her or whether he had just moved on. She didn't really think that he had, but they had never gone this long without speaking. She wasn't used to the silence and hadn't really believed that he would maintain it for as long as he had.

It was confusing. The silence made her feel unimportant and irrelevant. She would have been thrilled to have received a call or an email, some sort of sign that he missed her. The door to her office suddenly burst open and she lost her train of thought.

There was only one person who did that, her boss. Apparently she thought that common courtesy applied to everyone but her. She was short and chunky with a hairstyle that forever looked like she had just woken up. Not only did she lack courtesy she also lacked fashion sense or maybe she just had bad eyes. It was hard to say.

Regardless of the reason she had a bad habit of wearing jeans that were three sizes too small and a tight top. It was a good look for a stuffed sausage, but not so good for her. In addition to her lack of fashion sense and courtesy she suffered from a lack of boundaries.

About once a week she'd waddle in the office and start telling stories about miserable she was and how many drugs she took to ease her mind and help her sleep. And of course these bonding moments only took place after the work day had ended.

Inevitably she'd find herself having to stay late so that she could pretend to be interested in listening to her tales of woe. It was beginning to wear upon her and she was afraid that sooner or later she'd get caught rolling her eyes or give some other sign that made it clear she thought that the boss was an idiot.

Still, she was thankful to have a job so she did her best to put up with it. Looking up from her computer she offered a big smile and waited for her instructions. Still she couldn't help but wonder if somewhere out there that boy she wasn't supposed to be thinking about was thinking about her too.

Sarkozy Calls Obama Weak

This isn't really the sort of response we want Obama to receive from other world leaders. OTOH, France hasn't really been a significant world power for far longer than they care to admit. Take the criticism for what it is worth.

The US President is weak, the Spanish leader is dim, the German Chancellor is clinging on to France’s coat-tails and the head of the European Commission is irrelevant.

That, at any rate, is the world according to President Sarkozy, who has spent the week airing his unvarnished opinions of Barack Obama and an array of international politicians — abruptly ending France’s honeymoon with the US and needling Washington on several strategic issues.

In the latest in a stream of accounts from the Élysée Palace, Mr Sarkozy was quoted yesterday as telling an all-party group of MPs that Mr Obama was inexperienced and indecisive. “Obama has a subtle mind, very clever and very charismatic,” the French President said. “But he was elected two months ago and had never run a ministry. There are a certain number of things on which he has no position. And he is not always up to standard on decision-making and efficiency.”

The US President had underperformed on climate change when they met, Mr Sarkozy said, according to an account of the MP’s session in the newspaper Libération. “I told him, ‘I don’t think that you have quite understood what we are doing on carbon dioxide’.”Mr Sarkozy was apparently irked by media reports that Mr Obama had saved the day in London by persuading President Hu of China to reach a compromise with France over tax havens. Mr Sarkozy’s version is that he shamed Mr Obama into action, telling him: “You were elected to build a new world. Tax havens are the embodiment of the old world.”

Does Whole Foods Support Terrorism

I know a few people are going to be interested in reading a bit more about this story about Whole Foods and terrorism. What do you think?

Snake Tries to Eat Man, Man Bites Back

Want to know what snake tastes like? Ask this fellow. Better yet ask the keystone cops how they let the snake escape.

A Kenyan man bit a python which wrapped him in its coils and dragged him up a tree during a fierce three-hour struggle, police have told the BBC.

The serpent seized farm worker Ben Nyaumbe in the Malindi area of Kenya's Indian Ocean coast at the weekend.

Mr Nyaumbe bit the snake on the tip of the tail during the exhausting battle in the village of Sabaki.
Police rescued Mr Nyaumbe and captured the 13ft (4m) reptile, before taking it to a sanctuary, but it later escaped.

The victim told police he managed to reach his mobile phone from his pocket to raise the alarm when the python momentarily eased its grip after hauling him up a tree on Saturday evening. Mr Nyaumbe used his shirt to smother the snake's head and prevent it from swallowing him.

His employer arrived with police and villagers, who tied the python with a rope and pulled them both down from the tree with a thud.

Peter Katam, superintendent of police in Malindi district, told the BBC News website: "Two officers on patrol were called and they found this man was struggling with a snake on a tree.

"The snake had coiled his hands and was trying to swallow him but he struggled very hard. The officers and villagers managed to rescue him and he was freed.

"He himself was injured on the lower lip of the mouth - it was bleeding a little bit - as the tip of the snake's tail was sharp when he said he bit it." Mr Nyaumbe told the Daily Nation newspaper how he resorted to desperate measures after the python, which had apparently been hunting livestock, encircled his upper body in its coils.

"I stepped on a spongy thing on the ground and suddenly my leg was entangled with the body of a huge python," he said.

"I had to bite it."

Probably Not a Smart Thing to Say

Hulk Hogan, what the hell were you thinking when you said all this crap.

(CNN) -- Pro wrestling legend Hulk Hogan, embroiled in a bitter divorce with his wife, Linda, told Rolling Stone magazine he can "totally understand" O.J. Simpson, the former football great found liable for the deaths of his wife and another man.

"I could have turned everything into a crime scene like O.J., cutting everybody's throat," Hogan said in the interview for a feature that will run in Friday's edition of the magazine.

"You live half a mile from the 20,000-square-foot home you can't go to anymore, you're driving through downtown Clearwater [Florida] and see a 19-year-old boy driving your Escalade, and you know that a 19-year-old boy is sleeping in your bed, with your wife... .

"I totally understand O.J. I get it," Hogan said

A spokeswoman for Rolling Stone magazine confirmed the quote to CNN.

It has been widely reported that Linda Hogan, 49, is dating a younger man. She filed for divorce in 2007 after nearly 25 years of marriage.

Rules For Life

I remember a day from a time not so far past. I was walking down 42nd Street towards Times Square. It was the middle of July and the day was relatively warm. For a kid from L.A. the heat wouldn't have been noticeable but I was dressed in a suit and carrying a laptop. There was business to conduct.

The sky was blue and relatively free of clouds. The usual noises of the city surrounded me. Cars, taxis, buses and people all moving in every direction, semi organized chaos. I was lost in thought about someone who had offered to pepper my pike. I'll let you wonder what that means, it doesn't really matter.

As I walked someone stopped me on the street to ask directions. I laughed and told them that I was just another tourist wandering the streets. She looked at me and said that I looked so intent she assumed that I knew exactly where I was going and that I had to be a native. I smiled and told her that home was across the country and that I could answer any questions she might have about L.A.

Can't tell you what happened after that, I just don't remember. What I do remember was feeling like life was about to change, and I was right because my life did change.

Six years later I am standing outside of my house. Beneath blue skies peppered with clouds a boy with my hands is attempting to push me. For almost ten minutes he has tried every trick he can think of to cause me to give ground. I haven't told him, but these moments are getting harder for me.

He has grown bigger and stronger. More importantly he has grown more confident in himself and he knows that if he keeps trying he will eventually succeed. He knows this because I have drilled it into his head. Persevere, persist, keep trying, keep searching for the thing that works and you'll find a way. Practice, practice, practice and it gets easier.

I want him to win. I want him to beat me at this game and I hate the idea that one day he might. I don't let him beat me at everything. I don't let him win all the time. I want him to lose so that he learns how to deal with it. I want to force him to think about different ways of approaching the situation so that he might come up with a solution.

My feet are burning. The driveway is hot and I am beginning to notice the flames dancing from between my toes. Another moment and I am going to have to decide whether to let him win or if I should scoop him up like a sack of potatoes and go running.

Ego wins and he ends up thrown over my shoulder, but it takes a moment to get him up there. He has anticipated this move and attempted to counter it. For the moment size and strength are things that he can't compensate for and I win.

Laughing I launch us up the road at a sprint. A short time later I am hunched over, his old man is huffing and puffing a bit. Sprawled on the lawn we share a cold drink and talk. He wants to know what sort of rules for life there are. That is not exactly the question he asks, but it is close enough.

I tell him that the rules are simple. Try to be a good person and do what you can to be happy. He tells me that he wants more details and I smile and say that the rest is commentary. He doesn't catch the reference but he understands the part about happiness.

We talk more and share a few secrets. A moment later we are lying on our back staring at the sky and my mind wanders off. Within the last ten years or so I have stared at that same blue sky in Jerusalem, Toronto, London, New York, Chicago, Dallas and LA. And in each of those cities I have made a point of looking up at the night filled sky too.

Changes are coming. I feel it. Those moonlit nights and clear blue skies spoke to me. I think that I have known about these changes for a long time. Can't say exactly what is going to happen or how, I just know that change is coming and this time I think that I just might be ready for it.

Those rules for life I gave work when you let them, so that is what I am trying to do. Don't know if that makes much sense to anyone, but that's ok with me.

Time to try and get some shut eye, an old man like me needs more than three hours. See you in the AM. ;)

Pallywood Posts

 I think a bunch of the posts about Pallywood that have been written and or linked here have to be updated. Probably a bunch of bad links, k...