Thursday, June 30, 2005

Unusual Molecule Names

Okay, so I find a lot of these funny because I have a sense of humor equivalent to that of a second grader, but still... (at least I'm not as bad as Truman's cafeteria....)

Cummingtonite - ((Mg,Fe)7Si8(OH)22) - magnesium-iron silicate hydroxide, from Cummington, Mass, where it was first identified.

Fukalite (Ca4Si206(CO3)(OH,F))2 - a rare form of calcium silicocarbonate mined in the Fuka region of Japan.

Fucitol (L-fuc-ol/1-deoxy-D-galactitol) - an alcohol derived from Fucus vesiculosis, a North Atlantic seaweed.

Arsole (C4H5As) - a form of azole, in which an arsenic atom replaces the nitrogen atom. Such a replacement in a benzene ring, where the arsenic atom replaces a carbon atom, is known as benzarsole.

More Silly Molecule Names

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Newspapers!

KOS - This site by the Newseum is pretty amazing.

It has a Flash map of the United States and other regions of the world with links to various cities. Mouse over the cities, and you get a copy of the local newspapers front pages. Click on it, and you get a large scan of the front page. It's an incredible way to quickly see what stories are playing heavily both nationally and throughout the world.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Apology

Le sigh... I have sucked at blogging for the last few days. But I'm too sleepy to do anything about it right now.... G'nite, world!

p.s. Okay, you twisted my arm... here you go.

The most shoplifted items according to the Food Market Institute

Advil tablet 50 ct
Advil tablet 100 ct
Aleve caplet 100 ct
EPT Pregnancy Test single
Gillette Sensor 10 ct
Kodak 200 24 exp
Similac w/iron powder - case
Similac w/iron powder - single can
Preparation H 12 ct
Primatene tablet 24 ct
Sudafed caplet 24 ct
Tylenol caplet 100 ct
Advil caplet 100 ct
Aleve caplet 50 ct
Correctol tablet 60 ct

Monday, June 27, 2005

Zombie Dogs

NEWS AUSTRALIA - Scientists have created eerie zombie dogs, reanimating the canines after several hours of clinical death in attempts to develop suspended animation for humans...Pittsburgh's Safar Centre for Resuscitation Research has developed a technique in which a subject's veins are drained of blood and filled with an ice-cold salt solution. The animals are considered scientifically dead, as they stop breathing and have no heartbeat or brain activity. But three hours later, their blood is replaced and the zombie dogs are brought back to life with an electric shock. Plans to test the technique on humans should be realised within a year, according to the Safar Centre...

Duing the procedure blood is replaced with saline solution at a few degrees above zero. The dogs' body temperature drops to only 7C, compared with the usual 37C, inducing a state of hypothermia before death. Although the animals are clinically dead, their tissues and organs are perfectly preserved. Damaged blood vessels and tissues can then be repaired via surgery. The dogs are brought back to life by returning the blood to their bodies,giving them 100 per cent oxygen and applying electric shocks to restart their hearts. Tests show they are perfectly normal, with no brain damage.

First story I've read all day that I've enjoyed.... Thanks, Dorkus. ;^D

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Best SlashDot Comment Ever

UTTERLY BORING - I don't read SlashDot as much as I used to, but I have to admit that this comment (in reference to this story about nerds being better lovers) made me fall off my chair.

Docs and God

As we seem to be lacking patients at the moment, I'm blogging from Clinic this morning:

MONIFA THOMAS, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES - A study from the University of Chicago, being billed as the first to examine physicians' religious beliefs, has found that 55 percent of doctors say their religion influences how they practice medicine. In addition, 76 percent of doctors said they believe in God and 59 percent believe in some sort of afterlife, putting them more in line with their patients than the rest of the scientific community.

"We did not think physicians were nearly this religious," said the study's author, Dr. Farr Curlin, citing previous studies that indicate religious belief tends to decrease as education and income levels increase... According to the study, 90 percent of doctors in the United States attend religious services at least once a month, compared with 81 percent of the general population...

In addition, physicians in some specialties were more religious than others, the study said. While 58 percent of family doctors said they look to God for support and guidance, the same was true of only 36 percent of psychiatrists and 27 percent of radiologists.

Curlin said that might be because: "Psychiatry is the medical specialty that comes closest to being a complete explanatory framework for life. It can make sense of the powerful range of human experience in non-religious terms."

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

All Kinds of Crazy

A couple from Miss Mae:

Poor Kitty

BeautyKit (for later girls)

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

My Holy Book's More Trustworthy than Yours

ASSOCIATED PRESS - The state's judges will be asked this week to decide whether witnesses in North Carolina courtrooms can be sworn in on a Quran rather than a Bible. The move comes after Guilford County judges rejected an offer last week by the Greensboro Islamic center to donate copies of the Quran, the Muslim holy book. . .

In a preliminary opinion issued last week, a lawyer for the Administrative Office of the Courts said that state law allows people to be sworn in using a Quran rather than a Bible, Ellis said. But Guilford County judges told officials with the Islamic center Friday that they would not allow that in their courtrooms.

"An oath on the Quran is not a lawful oath under our law," W. Douglas Albright, Guilford's Senior Resident Superior Court judge, said earlier in the week.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Save NPR and PBS

The U.S. House is threatening to slash half of the public funding for NPR and PBS, starting with "Sesame Street," "Reading Rainbow" and other commercial-free children's shows. Please sign this petition to Congress opposing these massive cuts to public broadcasting today.

Political Correctness Run Amok

BBC- The British Potato Council Farmers want "couch potato" removed from the dictionary because they believe the expression is damaging the vegetable's image. A campaign promoting use instead of "couch slouch" is being led by the British Potato Council, representing 4,000 growers and processors. The council argues that potatoes are "inherently healthy". Protests are due on Monday outside dictionary publisher Oxford University Press and in Parliament Square, London. . .

The campaign is backed by dieticians who say the vegetable is low in fat and high in vitamin C, the council says.

The dictionary defines a couch potato as: "A person who spends leisure time passively or idly sitting around, especially watching television or video tapes." . . .

The first recorded use of "couch potato" was in the Los Angeles Times in 1979 and it entered the Oxford English Dictionary in 1993, he said.

Things That Might Bother Keith While He's Watching TV

AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE - Grunting noises made by female tennis players as they strike the ball are getting out of hand, and rules should be changed to crack down on the practice, Wimbledon referee Alan Mills has said, according to a report.

Mills, Wimbledon's chief official for 22 years who retires after this week's tournament, which begins on Monday, told The Sunday Times he believed coaches were teaching young women players to grunt. . . One of the loudest of the modern grunters is defending women's champion Maria Sharapova, who, according to the paper, makes a 100-decibel grunt, roughly the same volume as small aircraft landing nearby.

StarBUCKS

BALINE HARDIN, WASHINGTON POST - Part of the $115,000 debt Kirsten Daniels of Seattle incurred to finance law school went toward her regular caffeine fix. The habit costs her nearly $3 a day, and it's one that her law school says she and legions like her cannot afford.

It borders on apostasy in this caffeine-driven town (home to more coffee shops per capita than any major U.S. city, as well as Starbucks corporate headquarters), but the law school is aggressively challenging the drinking habits of students such as Daniels.

"A latte a day on borrowed money? It's crazy," said Erika Lim, director of career services at the law school.

To quantify the craziness, Lim distributes coffee-consumption charts. One shows that a five-day-a-week $3 latte habit on borrowed money can cost $4,154, when repaid over 10 years. She also directs students to a Web site she helped create. The "Stop Buying Expensive Coffee and Save Calculator" shows that if you made your own coffee and for 30 years refrained from buying a $3 latte, you could save $55,341 (with interest).

WHAT HIGH PRICE COFFEE IS COSTING YOU

I'm no huge fan of Starbucks, and I DO think people should spend money responsibly, but c'mon... it seems a bit condescending to me to nitpick at professional students for getting coffee every now and then instead of eating Ramen Noodles 24/7. Shouldn't the real story be about the high cost of an education these days?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Stolen From The Only Mr. J. ....

"The thing I hated about Super Mario 3 were the living bullets, because what sort of life can someone have if their only purpose is to be shot out of a cannon and fly in a straight line hoping the enemy doesn't jump over you. And if he does, what then? You glide endlessly through the air, trapped in an earthly hell where you began your life knowing you failed in your only purpose."

Personality Test

ENFP - The Champion
You scored 54% I to E, 10% N to S, 33% F to T, and 52% J to P!


Your type is known as the Champion type, which is part of the larger group called idealists. Nothing occurs that does not have some deep and ethical significance in your eyes. You see life as an exciting drama. You are very charismatic, yet tend to be too harsh on yourself for not being as genuine as you think you should be. 3% of the population shares your type.

As a romantic partner, you need to talk about what is going on in your life. You are a strong supporter for your partner's efforts to grow and change and be happy. You need to feel that same support from your partner. Expressive, optimistic, and curious, you are eager to enjoy new experiences with your partner, whom you wish to be your confidant and soul mate, as well as play mate. You are uncomfortable sharing negative emotion, though, and tend to withdraw from confrontation and process your feelings privately. You feel most loved when your partner appreciates your creativity, accepts your uniqueness, and sees you as the compassionate person you are. You need to hear your partner tell you how much you mean to them and would love if they did thoughtful spontaneous things to demonstrate it.

Your group summary: idealists (NF)
Your type summary: ENFP


The test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

You scored higher than 66% on I to E
You scored higher than 4% on N to S
You scored higher than 29% on F to T
You scored higher than 52% on J to P


Link: The LONG Scientific Personality Test

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Things That Made Me Laugh Today

INTERESTING PEOPLE - So yesterday I was walking around downtown Pittsburgh with my camera. When I found myself next to the PPG building, I pointed my camera upward like a tourist and took a shot...

I had time to shoot one frame before I heard, "Excuse me, sir, but they don't like it when people take pictures of this building."

I looked over and saw the private security guard there. I said, "Um, oh. Okay. That's kind of too bad, isn't it?"

"Excuse me?" he said.

"It's a public area," I said.

"Well, technically it's private property."

"It's open to the public," I said, looking around at the hundreds of people milling around and/or playing in the fountain. "Are you telling me to leave?"

"Well, no."

"All these other people are taking pictures, too."

"Well, they don't mind eye-level stuff, but when you point the camera up, they start to get nervous. Since 9/11, you know, terrorism." ...

"Oh!" I said, a shocked look on my face. "Is it a secret building? Because if it is, I'll stop."

"What?"

"The building. Is it a secret? Because I really thought the cat was out of the bag already, since you can see it from ten miles in every direction, but if it's a secret I'll stop. I wouldn't want to be the one to get the word out to the terrorists about it."

At this point he realized it was a rhetorical question. "I don't know, sir, that's just what they tell me." ...

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AP - Two eighth-graders who spent months working on a science project to prove how dangerous BB guns can be were disqualified from the state middle school science fair. The reason for the dismissal: BB guns are too dangerous.

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"I think too much of a country theme might scare some people off..."

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"Two years." "Seven months."

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"Hey, Baldy!"

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

What's Important

JAMES MCBRIDE, PRATT UNIVERSITY COMMENCEMENT SPEECH - If I were 21 I would walk the earth. I would go barefoot longer; I'd learn how to throw a Frisbee, I'd go braless if I were a woman and I would wear no underwear if I were a man. I'd play cards and wear the same pair of jeans until they were so stiff they could get up and strut around the room by themselves. ... So don't take the short road. Fool around. Have fun. ... You're not going to get this time back. Don't panic and go to graduate school and law school. This nation has enough frightened, dissatisfied yuppies living in gated communities, driving S.U.V.'s and wondering where their youth went.

We need you to walk the earth, so that other nations can see the beauty of American youth, rather than seeing our young in combat fatigues behind the barrel of an M-16.

Good advice, eh?

Monday, June 13, 2005

What's Ironic Is Most People Will Probably Just Skim Through This Post

"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them." ~ Mark Twain

WASHINGTON POST - Jeremy Spreitzer probably wouldn't read this story if it weren't about him. He is an aliterate -- someone who can read, but chooses not to. A graduate student in public affairs at Park University in Kansas City, Mo., Spreitzer, 25, gleans most of his news from TV. He skims required texts, draws themes from dust jackets and, when he absolutely, positively has to read something, reaches for the audiobook. "I am fairly lazy when it comes to certain tasks," says Spreitzer. "Reading is one of them."

As he grows older, Spreitzer finds he has less time to read. And less inclination. In fact, he says, if he weren't in school, he probably wouldn't read at all. He's not alone...

[I dare you to read the whole article...]

Christian Coalition: Gays Should Wear Warning Labels

365 GAY - The leader of a conservative Christian lobby group says that gays should be required to wear warning labels.

"We put warning labels on cigarette packs because we know that smoking takes one to two years off the average life span, yet we 'celebrate' a lifestyle that we know spreads every kind of sexually transmitted disease and takes at least 20 years off the average life span according to the 2005 issue of the revered scientific journal Psychological Reports," said Rev. Bill Banuchi, executive director of the New York Christian Coalition.

The journal regularly publishes articles described by many mainstream psychologists as misleading and faulty. The homosexuality morbidity study was conducted by the conservative anti-gay Family Research Institute.

Hmmmm... I think this was tried already....



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Fun Facts: Poverty and Gays in the Bible

DONNA BRITT, WASHINGTON POST - The Bible mentions poverty more than 2,000 times. The good book refers to homosexuality fewer than a dozen times, often obliquely. Jesus never mentioned homosexuality; same-gender sex didn't even make God's TOP TEN list of no-nos. Adultery and premarital sex, also biblically frowned-upon, abound.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Philosophy Quiz

I'm reading a book called Sophie's World right now about philosophy (thanks to Jackie), so when I stumbled across the following quiz, I thought it'd be fun to take. See where you stand. My results:

You scored as Existentialism. Your life is guided by the concept of Existentialism: You choose the meaning and purpose of your life.

“Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.” “It is up to you to give [life] a meaning.” --Jean-Paul Sartre

“It is man's natural sickness to believe that he possesses the Truth.” --Blaise Pascal

Existentialism

80%

Utilitarianism

75%

Justice (Fairness)

55%

Kantianism

55%

Hedonism

50%

Nihilism

30%

Strong Egoism

20%

Apathy

20%

Divine Command

5%

What philosophy do you follow? (v1.03)

Friday, June 10, 2005

The Decline of Chinese Fortune Cookies

THE NEW YORKER - [When Wonton Food, Inc. expanded into the fortune cookie business in the 1980s], it soon became apparent that its antiquated catalogue of fortunes would have to be updated. (“Find someone as gay as you are,” one leftover from the nineteen-forties read.) “We knew we needed to add new sayings,” Lau said. “I was chosen because my English was the best of the group, not because I’m a poet.”

At first, the writing came easily. Finding inspiration in sources ranging from the I Ching to the Post, Lau cranked out three or four maxims a day, between scrutinizing spreadsheets and monitoring the company’s inventory of chow mein. “I’d be on the subway and look up at the signs and think, Hey, that would make a great fortune,” he said. (One such adage: “Beware of odors from unfamiliar sources.”) “I’d keep a small notebook and jot down whatever came to me. I don’t think I ever sat in front of the computer and said, ‘I am going to write ten fortunes right now.’ It has to come naturally.”

Love, riches, power: there is a limited range of experience that can be expressed in one sentence, and, about eleven years into his tenure, Lau began to run out of ideas. He leaned increasingly on traditional Chinese sayings, which offer insight (along the lines of “True gold fears no fire”) but not foresight (“Your income will increase”), and in 1995 he gave up altogether. “I’ve written thousands of fortunes, but the inspiration is gone,” Lau said. “Have you heard of writer’s block? That is what happened to me.”

How Doctors Are Spun

SLATE - The [pharmaceutical] industry's semi-secret weapon is prescriber reports, weekly lists of every prescription written by each of the 600,000 doctors in the United States. Relatively few physicians know about prescriber reports, also known as prescriber profiles. But their existence makes it far more difficult to imagine that pharmaceutical marketing has no effect on the doctors it targets...

The weekly prescriber reports can show the names of the doctors in a rep's territory and what each doctor prescribed and how much of it. Reports provide reps with up-to-date feedback on just how effective they've been in persuading their doctors to prescribe the two or three drugs each rep pitches. The reps are schooled for weeks in a variety of sales techniques. They memorize tightly crafted speeches and volumes of data on their products, and some are even trained in personality profiling, to help them guess whether a physician is more likely to respond to reams of scientific research or to schmoozing. Prescriber reports play a key role in helping reps boost sales - they're like weekly focus groups that help reps shape their pitches to individual doctors. If Doctor A increased her prescriptions after being treated to a facial and full-body massage, more expense-paid spa excursions are in order for her. If Doctor B didn't respond to a courtesy five-course meal, then maybe it's time to try football tickets, or up the free drug samples, or plug clinical research that touts the proffered drug's benefits...

One study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2001 revealed that patients who used the painkiller Vioxx were five times more likely to suffer a heart attack than users of the generic drug, naproxyn. Yet that year, Merck & Co., Vioxx's manufacturer, managed to make the drug's sales rise faster than the top 10 drugs in the industry, with revenues topping $2.6 billion. How did that happen? Merck documents submitted to Congress after Vioxx was withdrawn from the market last fall show that the company taught sales reps how to deflect doctors' questions about the painkiller's safety.

Go Ahead and Waste Some Time....

I don't think I've posted this before, and I figured tonight seemed as good a time as any. Go ahead and check it out; good luck though - it's harder than it looks.

Hapland2

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The Zoot Suit Riots

I was walking around Barnes and Noble this evening when I ran into someone I hadn't seen in a while, who happened to mention swing dancing to me. I've boogie-woogied with Glen Miller's Orchestra, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and so forth on a few occasions, but I never knew the origin of the song title "Zoot Suit Riot" until I read the following article...

SUAVECITO APPAREL - Set in the environment of ethnic and racial paranoia that defined the early 1940s in Los Angeles, California, the "Zoot Suit Riots" were a defining moment for Zoot Suiters and the Mexican American community. The ethnic populations of California as a whole, and Los Angeles in particular, were under siege. In March and April of 1942, the entire Japanese and Japanese American population on the West Coast of the United States were deported to "relocation centers" (mild euphemisms for concentration camps) located in the interior of the U.S.. Without the Japanese Americans around to focus the locals' racial paranoia, Los Angeleans began to look toward the Zoot Suiters.

A "Mexican Crime Wave" was announced by local newspapers, and a special grand jury was appointed by the city of Los Angeles to investigate. Around the same time, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department also decided to investigate and appointed E. Duran Ayres to head their Foreign Relations Bureau. And though Mr. Ayres accurately identified much of the active discrimination that was occurring against the "Mexican element", he drew some startling conclusions which were presented to the grand jury:

"He stated that Mexican Americans are essentially Indians and therefore Orientals or Asians. Throughout history, he declared, the Orientals have shown less regard for human life than have the Europeans. Further, Mexican Americans had inherited their 'naturally violent' tendencies from the 'bloodthirsty Aztecs' of Mexico who were said to have practiced human sacrifice centuries ago. At one point in his report Ayres even compared the Anglo to a domesticated house cat and the Mexican to a 'wild cat,' suggesting that the Mexican would forever retain his wild and violent tendencies no matter how much education or training he might receive.

On the night of August 1, 1942, zoot suiter Henry Leyvas, 20, and some of his friends were involved in a fight with another group of pachucos at the Williams Ranch by a lagoon. Later the next morning, a man named José Díaz was found bleeding and unconscious on a road near the lagoon. He later died. The autopsy revealed that Mr. Díaz was drunk at the time of death and that his death was the result of blunt head trauma. Though one medical examiner stated that his injuries were consistent with that of being hit by a car, Henry Leyvas and 24 members of the "38th Street gang" (as the group had been dubbed by the local tabloids) were arrested and charged with the murder of José Díaz. Led by the local tabloids, a public outcry for "justice" and vengeance against the zoot suiters caused the Los Angeles Police Department to conduct a roundup of over 600 people on the nights of August 10th and 11th. All were charged with such things as suspicion of assault, armed robbery, etc., and 175 people were held on these charges. Of the 600 plus people arrested during this roundup, every single one was a Spanish surnamed individual. . .

On the night of June 3, 1943, eleven sailors on shore leave stated that they were attacked by a group of Mexican pachucos. In response to this, a group of over 200 uniformed sailors chartered 20 cabs and charged into the heart of the Mexican American community in East Los Angeles. Any zoot suiter was fair game. On this and the following nights, many a zoot suiter was beaten by this mob and stripped of their clothes, their zoot suits, on the spot. Nine sailors were arrested during these disturbances, not one was charged with any crime. On the following nights of June 4th and 5th, the uniformed servicemen (by this time the sailors had been joined by soldiers) again invaded East Los Angeles, marching abreast down the streets, breaking into bars and theaters, and assaulting anyone in their way. Not one was arrested by the police or the sheriff. In fact, the servicemen were portrayed in the local press as heroes stemming the tide of the "Mexican Crime Wave." During the nights of June 6th and 7th, these scenes were again repeated. Time Magazine later reported that, "The police practice was to accompany the caravans of soldiers and sailors in police cars, watch the beatings and jail the victims." . . .

Finally, at midnight on June 7th, because the navy believed it had on actual mutiny on hand, the military authorities did what the city of Los Angeles would not, they moved to stop the rioting of their personnel. Los Angeles was declared off limits for all military personnel. . . On June 16th, 1943, Eleanor Roosevelt commented in her column that, "The question goes deeper than just suits. It is a racial protest. I have been worried for a long time about the Mexican racial situation. It is a problem with roots going a long way back, and we do not always face these problems as we should." Los Angeles' response was typified by the June 18th headlines of the Los Angeles Times, "Mrs. Roosevelt Blindly Stirs Race Discord," and she was accused of communist leanings in the accompanying editorial. Governor Earl Warren (later Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court during their landmark desegregation cases) convened a committee to investigate the riots and recommended punishment for all involved in the riots, servicemen and civilians. Other than the charges filed against the Mexican American victims, no punishment was ever meted out.

This concludes today's segment of "The more you know... ding-ding-ding-DING."

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Technology Autobiography

I suppose I've long had somewhat of a love-hate relationship with "technology." On the one hand, I'm a huge geek when it comes to appreciating the latest gadgetry and extolling whatever its virtues might happen to be to others. At the same time, I often wish for a return to simpler times; I wonder what life might be like without all of the bells and whistles. In order to examine this internal struggle of mine, I have chosen to paint a picture (both figuratively and literally) of my experiences with technology. (Disclaimer: My last art class was in fifth grade, so if I fail to effectively "illustrate" my points, please forgive me.)

Growing Up

As a child, I had my share of both good and bad times relating to the innovative products of the day. One of my earliest - and fondest - of memories surrounds the family's popcorn machine. Long before microwaveable popcorn became all the rage, we used to "pop" kernels of the stuff in a handy-dandy yellow blender-looking creation. The kitchen appliance was louder than a Harrier jet taking off, but the scrumptilicious results made the loss of hearing entirely worth it.

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Sometimes, simpler truly is better. When you're three years old, a cardboard box can provide hours of entertainment, but on my third birthday, I would not be lucky enough to receive such a gift. Instead, my dear old dad, in his infinite parenting wisdom, decided he had found the perfect thing to complement my suave and sophisticated playground manner. He bought me a Corvette. Well, not a real Corvette, but the kind made for kids to pedal around the driveway. I eagerly hopped into the convertible and tried to start it up. Much to my chagrin, my little leg muscles were a poor replacement for a V6 turbo-charged engine. No matter how hard I tried, I just wasn't strong enough to put the car into gear. Feelings of inadequacy and rejection stemming from this episode would result in large therapy bills much later down the road.

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Even at a young age, technology was helping shape who I would become. My brother and I used to spend hours upon hours sitting in front of an old record player my grandmother had given us, listening to the most beautiful songs you can imagine. To this day, I can't help but get "jiggy with it" and feel compelled to "bust a move" every time "The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round" comes on the radio. Classic.

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It wasn't always so peachy, I'm afraid. Another traumatizing incident which came out of this time period also involved technology. You see, my favorite television program as a wee tyke was the cartoon "The Pound Puppies." I had all of their stuffed animals, and I made sure to catch their show every Saturday morning. Having just acquired a fancy new camcorder (that was about the size of a shoulder-mounted bazooka) and knowing how much I enjoyed my favorite gang of canines, my dear old dad once again decided to do something nice for me. As I sat in front of the boob tube one morning, he started filming me and asked if I would like to be on TV with my favorite character, Whopper. In the archives of all film and television, I do not know if there is a reaction that has been recorded which was any more joyous and instantaneous as mine was right then as I leapt to my feet. Through a bit of miscommunication and misunderstanding on my part, however, my excitement quickly turned into puzzlement and then proceeded to become outright despair and finally anger. For the life of me, I couldn't understand why dear old dad kept telling me to look at the camera as I stood by the TV. I continued looking over my shoulder, expecting to appear alongside the pound puppies any second... and still nothing! Why wasn't I on TV? Though my parents attempted to calm my frustration with the situation, I think a little piece of me died that day.

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The Awkward Years (an ongoing saga)

As I got older, my attention shifted away from animated kids' shows and began to be redirected towards members of the fairer sex. But even here, technology has proven to be a double-edged sword in my life.

On the one hand, through the innovations of orthodontic medicine, I went from looking like an old and particularly harshly treated hyena to looking much more like a grinning baboon. And trust me, that's a step up the evolutionary ladder.

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On the other hand, when all you ever talk about with your friends is the parameters and capabilities of the latest video game systems and how to build an efficient and streamlined computer processor, it's easy to forget how to carry on a normal conversation.

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I've also found technology can be useful for keeping in touch with others. I've long decried the endless jibber-jabber of people on their cell phones, but then I realized that the reason no one ever called me had a lot to do with the fact that I didn't have a phone. I finally buckled down and purchased one just a couple of weeks ago, and since then, I haven't been able to get people to leave me alone.

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Another handy means of staying connected to others is through the wonders of the internet, particularly if one uses such things as Instant Messaging. I must admit I'm addicted to this mode of conversing and can easily spend seven hours chatting with someone on a given night, which amounts to a conversation which, if conducted face-to-face, would last approximately 20 minutes.

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Then there's online dating. You answer a bunch of questions about yourself and what you're looking for in a potential mate, and a computer algorithm calculates your "match percentage" with a host of other singles. It can certainly be useful for the more socially inept of us, but it has its drawbacks as well. Finding out your perfect match lives 2000 miles away can be disheartening, but not as much as finding out that out of all of the eligible ladies in the world, you're most compatible with a 400-pound, 46 year-old Slavic woman (who happens to have more facial hair than you do) named Helga.

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The Tree Hugger in Me Comes Out

Surprisingly, technology offers the world even more impressive benefits than helping lonely guys meet chicks. Individuals and society profit from advances made each day in everything from aerospace engineering and the pharmaceutical industry to the business of producing the world's best grout-cleaning chemicals. But despite these daily advances, it is important to remember that technology does not necessarily equal progress. Global warming, for example, is a serious problem, caused by man's increasing reliance on fossil fuels and the production of greenhouse gases by transportation and industry. Nearly all of the earth's natural ecosystems are in danger of being irreversibly damaged as a result of the technology which spurred on the Industrial Revolution. We may be able to get to the Kwik-E-Mart faster today than our grandparents could 100 years ago (well, assuming there were Kwik-E-Marts around back then), but we have to ask ourselves, "At what cost?"

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It saddens me every time I look into the night sky and am only able to pick out a handful of stars where my ancestors would have been able to look upon the majesty of the entire Milky Way. But despite these ill effects of modern day technology, I am hopeful for the future. Because if there's one thing watching infomercials all night has taught me, it's that, "With an inventive spirit and the wonders of technology, anything is possible.... for only three low payments of $29.95."

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Nerd Quiz

I am nerdier than 72% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Sunday, June 05, 2005

For Your Aural Pleasure...

Old Records (1900 - 1930)

4w3s0m3!

Historical Atlas of the Twentieth Century

Saturday, June 04, 2005

The Wal-Mart Story

MENTALLY INCONTINENT - Believe it or not, the interview process for Wal-Mart was pretty goddamned thorough, especially considering the job paid 6 dollars an hour and entailed wearing a blue schmock, cleaning up after dullards and answering, for the 100th time in an hour, the exact same questions that should be common sense. I cannot count the number of times this exact exchange would take place on a given day:

Customer:
“Excuse me, do you have a Toy Department?”

What I was thinking:
"What??? Do we have a TOY DEPARTMENT??? What the hell kind of question is that! This is WAL-MART, flapjack. The toy department is only the biggest department in this store! Does that extra chromosome impair your vision, too? Can you not see the gigantic blue and yellow sign hanging up when you walk in the door that says 'TOYS'?!?"

What I actually said:
"Yeah, it's down there."

No, I wasn't at ALL bitter....

Friday, June 03, 2005

Amazing How Good It Feels to Win, Even if Only for a Short Time

AP - Matt Stairs homered and Runelvys Hernandez pitched six solid innings, leading resurgent Kansas City past Texas 2-1 Friday night for the Royals' first four-game winning streak in 21 months.

Coming off a totally unexpected three-game sweep of the New York Yankees that had the town buzzing all day, the Royals also hiked Buddy Bell's record as manager to 4-0. Bell joined Whitey Herzog as the only Royals' skippers to win their first four games. Herzog did it in 1975, the year the team began a prosperous 10-year run that included five division titles and its only World Series championship.

Apples Keep the Doctor Away

[Best way to avoid me - eat an apple a day. Simple as that.]

NEW SCIENTIST - A Red Delicious apple a day keeps the doctor furthest away. This variety contains higher levels of disease-fighting chemicals than some other varieties, a Canadian study has found. Apples - and especially their skins - are a good source of dietary antioxidants. These help neutralise reactive molecules called free radicals, which have been linked to cancer, Alzheimer's and heart disease. A team led by Rong Tsao of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Guelph, Ontario, measured the antioxidant activity of the skins of eight popular apple varieties. Red Delicious apples had the strongest antioxidant activity, more than six times that of the wimpiest variety, Empire.

Bumblers

BBC - Bumblebees could be facing extinction as inbreeding in colonies turns hard-working female bees into useless males, scientists have found... Male bees are "basically lazy", said study leader Dr David Goulson of the University of Southampton.

A bumblebee queen usually produces a large number of worker daughters to help in the nest and with gathering nectar and pollen. But if the queen mates with a relative, many of the genetically female offspring develop into sterile males.

"Since male bumblebees do no work, and have only one purpose - mating - a sterile male is worse than useless," said Dr Goulson.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The Trust Hormone

AP - Swiss and American scientists say they have successfully manipulated subjects in an experiment to take risks they might not otherwise take by giving them a squirt of the hormone oxytocin to stimulate trusting behavior. Their finding could have beneficial applications in treating mental disorders, but they acknowledge the possibility of abuse...

Oxytocin is secreted in brain tissue and synthesized by the hypothalamus. This small, but crucial feature deep in the brain controls biological reactions like hunger, thirst and body temperature, as well as visceral fight-or-flight reactions associated with powerful, basic emotions like fear and anger.

For years oxytocin was considered to be a straightforward reproductive hormone found in both sexes. In both humans and animals, this chemical messenger stimulates uterine contractions in labor and induces milk production. In both women and men, oxytocin is released during sex, too...

Trust is the glue of society and human interactions. Erase it, and you compromise everything from love to trade and political order.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words (or something like that)

BOING BOING - Last February, a cop in Hudson, Ohio got stuck in the mud after making a U-turn. A passer-by took a picture of the car getting towed away. The cop chased the photographer, shouted at him, took his camera, and erased the memory. Now the photog is suing the cop "and the city for more than $25,000 in punitive damages, claiming his civil rights were violated because he was stopped without probable cause, wrongfully detained, verbally abused and deprived of his property."

On the Golf Course

Towards the end of the golf course, Dave hit his ball into the woods and found it in a patch of pretty yellow buttercups. Trying to get his ball back in play, he ended up thrashing just about every buttercup in the patch.

All of a sudden.....POOF! In a flash and puff of smoke, a little old woman appeared. She said, "I'm Mother Nature! Do you know how long it took me to make those buttercups? Just for doing what you have done, you won't have any butter for your popcorn for the rest of your life; better still, you won't have any butter for your toast for the rest of your life... As a matter of fact, you'll never have any butter for anything the rest of your life!!!!!" Then POOF! ... she was gone!

After Dave recovered from the shock, he hollered for his friend, "Fred, where are you?"

Fred yells back, "I'm over here in the pussywillows."

Dave shouts back, "DON'T SWING, Fred! For the love of God, DON'T SWING!"