The Daily Bongo
Friday, September 25, 2009 -- Evening
Filming EndingThe filming for the Love and Other Drugs movie is wrapping up. I didn't see much action this morning as I went past the filming area.
Thursday, September 24, 2009 -- Evening
G20 in the 'Burgh
The G20 started today here in Pittsburgh. Although there was a problem with a protest march that did not have a permit, everything seems pretty calm. The businesses here in Pittsburgh did a good job of taking preventative measures by closing in the downtown area and boarding up windows. I believe that people should protest. However, I don't think vandalism and threatening people's lives or property is not cool. I only have a few pictures of the action in the Oakland area. I went to a keynote speech given by the Honourable Kevin Rudd, the prime minister of Australia. The speech was extremely funny at the beginning where Rudd talked about Pittsburgh, America, and Australia. I thought the funniest was when Rudd said that once Britain lost control over America, they had to find a new location for their penal colony. He said because of their past history, we should all just blame the British for everything. That made everyone in the audience laugh.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009 -- Evening
Love and Other DrugsPittsburgh has become a haven for the film industry, and recently, a few movies have been filmed here. i was very surprised to see that a movie crew was setting up two streets from where I live in Squirrel Hill to film an interior at my favorite house on Bartlett Street. The movie is Love and Other Drugs and stars Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal. So far there really hasn't been anything to see, except for the crew who is taking up the entire street and part of Wightman with trucks of equipment. They also have a parking lot filled with trailers that is designated as the base camp. Movie making is an interesting business in a way. They have extremely long hours, and spend tons of time standing around trying to make things right. That hasn't stopped the crowds from standing on the street to watch the action. One of the crew guys yells out, "rolling" and we all hush. We can't see a thing of the filming because it's inside the house and the backyard. Still the atmosphere is charged with excitment and the glitter that is Hollywood.
Sunday, June 28, 2009 -- Afternoon
"Windows" commericalsSince the Microsoft commercials came out a few months ago, I thought they were incredible dumb. They showcased people who were obviously computer illiterates talking about things like "power," claiming that Windows has it and the Mac doesn't. But wait a minute! The Microsoft commercials aren't about the operating system, the only thing that Microsoft is responsible for. Instead, the commercials are about the amount of memory, screen size, webcams, and other hardware options. What the frick does that have to do with Windows? Ummm, nothing! Apple is responsible for both the hardware and the operating system. And yes, a Mac laptop is powerful, complete with webcam, light, and more expensive. The difference is that the operating system works well with the hardware. The reason I switched to a Mac was because I wasn't able to do the work that I wanted with images and video. I will continue to pay more, but in the end, I get what I pay for: quality of hardware AND operating system. Believe me, Windows Vista is inferior to Mac OS X.
Friday, June 27, 2009 -- Late Evening
Michael Jackson deathIt seems that the corner couldn't come up with a conclusive outcome on Michael Jackson's autopsy. Rumors and stories were being spread all day that Jackson had a huge prescription drug problem, and a personal doctor, who wasn't licensed to practice in California, had just injected Jackson with Demerol. One of the signs of an overdose of Demerol is respiratory depression. It seems that shortly after the injection, Jackson started to experience shallow breathing. Because the injection did not occur in a hospital, there wasn't any thing available to counter the problems. There are lots of questions about the doctor, but it seems that just like the other early celebrity deaths, Jackson had problems with indescriminate use of prescription drugs. The final results and conclusion of the autopsy are being held off until the toxicology reports are in. That implies to me that there was nothing physically wrong, so it comes down to overdose or drug interaction. I'm not a huge Jackson fan. Yes, he had some good songs in the early 80s, but for the past 20 years, he has just been a freak show.
Thursday, June 26, 2009 -- Evening
Michael Jackson DiesToday was a day for celebrity deaths. First this morning, we found out that Farrah Fawcett had finally succumbed in her battle against colan cancer. She was 62 years old. Then in the late afternoon, we heard that Michael Jackson had had a heart attack in LA and was being rushed to the hospital. This quickly turned to rumors that Jackson had died. Finally around 6:15 ET, the news was official that Jackson was dead at 50 years of age. As they say, things, especially celebrity deaths, go in threes. Ed McMahon had died early in the week, so that's the three celebrities in a short span.
People are in shock about Jackson's death, and broadband access was inundated as people tried to find out if Jackson was alive or dead, and telling others the news. I know that I was having trouble sending and receiving text messages as the systemw was saturated. I admit that I did like his music, but Jackson as a person was one sick individual. There were the attempts to make himself look white, the plastic surgery, the weirdness of beliefs (such as sleeping in a barometric chamber), the child abuse allegations, and keeping his children masked in public. The guy was really weird, but he was talented musically. MTV and the music video craze took off as it did because of Jackson. Perhaps that's the best way to remember him: as musician and music video innovator.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008 -- MorningYou can now buy Tim Tams, the Australian cookie known for the Tim Tam Explosion, for a limited time from your local Target here in the US. Pepperidge Farm will be distributing the Tim Tam from November until March 2009, and they can only be purchased at Target. If you haven't had a Tim Tam, rush out to a Target and get some. Bring it home. Make some hot drink: tea or coffee. Pour out a cup. Then take your Tim Tam. Take a bite out of one corner. Then take a bite from the diagonal corner. Put one of the bitten ends into the hot drink, and quickly suck from the other end. As soon as you feel the liquid in your mouth, put the Tim Tam into your mouth for the Tim Tam Explosion. It's a taste sensation you don't want to miss. So hurry and stock up on Tim Tams while they last.
Thursday, April 26, 2007 -- Late MorningInteresting news: the city of Pittsburgh was selected as the Most Livable city for the second time. The first time was in 1985. The rating was based on nine catagories: housing (or cost of living), transportation, jobs, education, climate, crime, health care, recreation, and ambience (museums, arts, restaurants, history). I have to raise my eyebrows at this one because the city sucks at transportation. PAT bus is a corrupt black hole for public funds that gives buses that are overly packed and late. I love how the PAT bus geniuses will schedule all three buses on a particular route to be at the same intersection at roughly the same time. I know, you are thinking it's not scheduled, just a fluke. Nope. Look at the schedules printed by PAT for the 61A, 61B and 61C. They are supposed to be in the same place at the same time. As for housing, I'm not so sure that it is reasonable. House prices have been grossly inflated in the past few years in Allegheny County because of the stupid real estate assessment program that overpriced houses. The climate is crappy--not enough sunny days, and the ambience is what you can make of it. Yeah, we have the museums, but the big art/history tours usually pass us by and go to Cleveland. I guess that in general, I would say that in order to have Pittsburgh selected as "most livable" someone must have had their pockets lined with money--or else the selection process is screwed up!
Monday, April 23,2007 -- MorningI don't who died and put Sheryl Crow in charge of life, but she obviously thinks that she should be telling us all how to live life. She and some other looney liberal accosted Karl Rove at a dinner this weekend to tell him that the government had better do something about global warming. When he wasn't giving the itchy bs the appropriate amount of adulation and agreement that they felt was their due, they got nasty. Rove didn't want to listen to them, and when Crow grabbed Rove's arm, he told her not to touch him. As Crow said later in her blog, she couldn't understand his rudeness. Okay, he doesn't want to listen to a want-to-be celebrity, Laurie David, and a singer, Crow, lecture him about global warming. How rude of him to not want to listen to their babble, and then not want them to grab hold of his arm. Hmm. Seems to me that the rude shoe fits on Crow's and David's feet. But they are liberals who's agenda is more holier than thou and worthy than anyone else--so whatever they would do is sanctioned by a higher God. Crow tried to tell Rove that he had to listen to her because Rove works for her. Rove replied that he didn't--he worked for the American people. So now Crow wants to get into my bathroom and dicate to me how many squares of toilet paper I should be using!! According to Crow, I should use no more than one square per bathroom visit. Unless it is one of those "pesky occasions where two to three could be required". Excuse me? Now that I know that Crow supposedly only uses one square, I wouldn't want her touching my arm either! Gosh knows what contaminates are on her hands! I think that Crow should stick to singing, and leave the bathroom to my discretion.
Tuesday, March 6, 2007 -- Early AfternoonMicrosoft is coming down on the side of copyright and has chastized Google over making copyrighted material available over the Internet. As Microsoft says, their Live Search Books only gives people access to materials that are in the public domain. Google's plan is to scan in books from libraries and make it accessible. Microsoft also mentioned the Google's acquisition of YouTube shows a cavalier disregard for copyright laws. I think that what it shows is that Google understands that folks want something like YouTube that gives that the average person access to video materials when they want it, on demand, if you will. The move should be to get more materials online, not less--and we definitely don't want Microsoft controlling everything! Unfortunately, Google may become the oppressive Microsoft of the future, but I'll take my chances on them.
Thursday, November 16, 2006 -- AfternoonSometimes I really don't understand people. The case in point this time is the OJ Simpson story. We all know the story of OJ and the murder of his wife. He was found not guilty by a criminal court because his lawyers played up the race card and the prosecution wasn't as adept at playing up the murderous wife beater angle. A civil court found OJ responsible, and he had to compensate Nicole's and Ron Goldman's families. Well, now OJ needs some money, and guess what? He wrote a book entitle If I Did it, and describes how he would have murdered his wife...if he did it. One of those "news" shows is supposed to interview him about the topic next week. What I can believe is that the jerk is allowed to smirk and make money after murdering his wife? I mean, really, is there any doubt now that he did it? So he is allowed to make money off the situation while rubbing his children's faces the mud. I feel so sorry for them. They must want to believe that the jerk is innocent, and to have them do this again to their mother, this time in print, just shows what an incredible low-life OJ is.
Monday, October 9, 2006 -- EveningGoogle has bought YouTube for $1.65 billion dollars. That's an amazing prize. It seems that Google has realized the power of YouTube and hasn't been doing so well with Google Video. According to Google, the two will remain separate for now. Who knows what the future will bring? I think that streaming video and sharing of video content is definitely what people want. You want to be able to just see the show or watch the event in your own time. I don't know what this would mean for television. Maybe they will learn that they just need to offer shows through an On Demand service.
Monday, September 11, 2006 -- AfternoonToday is the fifth anniversary of the events of September 11, 2001. I almost said the World Trade Center attack, but that would diminish the happenings at the Pentagon and Somerset, PA. I remember the day vividly because I was actually working on someone's computer when I started to get text pages about a plane going into one of the Towers. At first, the user and I both thought it was a small aircraft. Then I called my boyfriend and found out that it was a large airliner. My first thought was that it was a horrible accident until my boyfriend said that there were stories that it was an active of terror. By the time I was able to finish my work with the user and get down from upper Pitt campus to lower, the first Tower has collapsed. I watched the television in the commons room of William Pitt Union unable to comprehend what was happening, as was the case with most around me. When the second Tower collapsed most people just wanted to go home to be with family. I remember that some of my co-workers didn't want to go back to work because they worked in the Cathedral of Learning which is a tall landmark in Pittsburgh's Oakland area, and there were stories about the plane in the Somerset area. It was a very traumatizing day. What I find hard to believe is that I have some "friends"--wacky, conspiracy theorists who believe that there are no terrorists, and that 9/11 was just a government plot to control people with the use of fear. Supposedly, there was a survey that was done of around 1000 people, and it was found that 36% of them believed that the government either allowed the terrorists to act or were behind the terrorists. My only comment is that I wonder how random a pool was it. They could have just happened upon a large pocket of conspiracy types. The NIST actually have a fact sheet that refutes the point that the conspiracy theorists make, but I know that my friend would not listen to anything like that. His mind is already made up and nothing will change it. I have found that it is better not to associate with him because he says such wacky things all the time, and you really can't talk to him about it because he just calls any comments that others make stupid. I suppose he says the same about me because I am just as sure that the acts of 9/11 were those of terrorists--and not terrorists sponsored by the American government.
Thursday, September 7, 2006 -- EveningToday has been a very busy day for me. I went to work today, but took an early and lengthy lunch break to go to Bob O'Connor's funeral mass. I arrived at St. Paul's Cathedral around 10:30 am and waited for the funeral procession. While we were waiting, I saw Lynn Swann and Dan Rooney and his wife arrive. The horse-drawn carriage arrived at 10:45 with the procession of family and friends. The funeral mass took around two hours and 15 minutes. Father Terry, Bob O'Connor's elder son, gave a homily. Archbishop Donald Wuerl officiated. Bob's daugher, Heidi, and younger son, Corey, both spoke. Heidi was crying so much that it was difficult to understand her. Then Corey spoke, and he commented on how when his father's coffin left the funeral home, he realized it would be the last time he would see him. He said that the family put a Terrible Towel in the coffin with his dad, who was a huge Steelers fan and had season tickets since 1874 in the end zone. Judy, Bob's wife, unexpectedly, also decided to say a few words, and said that Bob loved Pittsburgh and thanked everyone for everything. It was very touching. After the mass, Bob's coffin was placed in a motorized hearse and the procession took a tour of the city on the way to the cemetary. The most touching moment was when Bob's hearse went past the local Coffee Tree coffee shop and everyone there raised their coffee cups to him in a 21 cup salute. Take a look at the pictures that I took of the event.
Tuesday, September 5, 2006 -- AfternoonSome news is out about Bob O'Connor's illness. It seems that he had a very aggressive form of central nervous system lymphoma. It seems that the treatments that were given did nothing, and the cancer had spread to the spinal cord in the final two days. It seems that poor Bob's days were numbered from the beginning. Also, it appears that he had been having headaches for several months before seeking professional help. The thing that doctors say now is that even if he had gotten treatment earlier because of the aggressiveness of the cancer, it might not have made any difference. That brings up the question of whether his quality of life in the past two months would have been better without treatment. It's a hard call to make because I know that I would want the treatment because I would want to live. However, if you were told that it would only add a few days or weeks to your life with the life being poorer quality, then it would be tricky. I think that most people want to have quality time--alert and somewhat pain free. It just makes the story sadder to know there was no hope.
Monday, September 4, 2006 -- AfternoonI didn't believe this story when I heard it today. Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, was killed in a freak accident off of Queensland's Batt Reef (part of the Great Barrier Reef). The crew was there to film a show on deadly ocean creatures when Irwin wound up approaching a sting ray from on top and getting stabbed with the tail under the rib cage and into the heart. They tried CPR, but it was actually too late, and Irwin was declared dead by the paramedics. They were actually filming at the time and they reviewed the tape of the incident. It seems that the sting ray must have felt threatened because of the location of the cameraman and Irwin and just lashed out with his tail. Irwin was only 44 years old. It's just shocking that someone who did so many dangerous things would wind up dying because of an accident like this. It was just a freakish coincidence that Irwin was just in the wrong position. Sting rays are poisonous, but it wasn't the poison that did the damage, but the tail acting like a knife and stabbing Irwin's heart. Irwin's wife was on a nature walk elsewhere in Australia, but returned home with their two kids, daughter Bindi, 8, and son Bob, 3.
Sunday, September 3, 2006 -- Late AfternoonBob O'Connor is now lying in state in the City/County building today. The local television stations have been making periodic breaks throughout the day to show footage of area when Bob's casket is. The weather has been adding to the somber mood with overcast skies and chilly weather. What I am not happy about is that Luke Ravenstahl received a letter from the City Law department saying that Ravenstahl can complete Bob's full term. That is over three years. The problem that I have with it is that even though Ravenstahl is an elected official and was elected to his post on the City Council, I didn't vote for him to be mayor. I think that the fair move would be to allow Ravenstahl to be mayor until the next general election in 2007. That would give the Democrats and the Republicians time to gather resources and candidates for the race. Others are already planning on contending this statement because the language in the city charter is vague and can be interpreted several ways.
Saturday, September 2, 2006 -- EveningFuneral arrangements for Bob O'Connor have been announced. There will be visitation at the City-County Building in Pittsburgh starting at noon tomorrow and running through (including night hours) Monday at 10 pm. After that, the family will have visitations at a funeral home in Shadyside on Tuesday and Wednesday. A burial mass will be held on Thursday at 11 am at St. Paul's Cathedral in Oakland. The mass will be given by Archbishop Donald Wuerl. As a memorial to Bob here in Squirrel Hill, ribbons are being placed on trees and light posts on Forbes and MUrray Avenues.
Friday, September 1, 2006 -- EveningVery sad news this evening. Bob O'Connor died this evening at 8:55. Ever since he went into the hospital on July 6 for flu-like symptoms, he has been on everyone's thoughts and prayers. It's just hard to image at this point that Bob won't be walking down the street, a huge smile on his face, always ready to say hello or say a few words. My sympathies go out ot his wife, children, family, and numerous friends.
Friday, September 1, 2006 -- Early MorningMore information came out about Bob O'Connor last night. It appears that he was on life support earlier in the week, but that he has now been removed from it. According to the doctors instead of it being a day by day situation, it is now an hour by hour. I would imagine that he won't make it through the day and that really saddens me. I remember all the time that I've seen him on the streets here, always smiling and happy. After he won the Democratic primary last year, he held a party right here in Schenley Park. As my boyfriend and I were driving home by work, there was Bob--a picnic going on in the park, standing by the roadside with a sign that said "thank you", beaming and waving at all the people who passed. I guess that's the thing that we should remember about him. That he was happy and that he actually achieved his dream.
Thursday, August 31, 2006 -- EveningPittsburgh Mayor Bob O'Connor is not doing well at all and was given the Sacraments of the Sick today. That used to be known as the Last Rites and was given to people who were near death. Everyone in the news media is in agreement that we are basically on a death watch right now. I feel really sorry for Bob. He was truly a nice guy, and a fellow Squirrel Hill resident. In fact, he lives just a two minute walk from my apartment. You could always see him walking the streets and getting coffee at the local coffee shops, and he frequented them all. He was always approachable and friendly, and even answered some of my boyfriend's questions about the political scene a few years ago. While he was running for Mayor, I saw him on the street in a powder blue jogging suit, straightening out one of his campaign signs. As he said, he needed to keep on eye on them to make sure they were still properly placed. A nice, good guy, and a real shame that he is so ill and had such a short term as Mayor. As so many people in Pittsburgh, I am going to mourn the loss of a kind soul.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006 -- MorningPittsburgh Mayor, Bob O'Connor, has suffered another setback in his bout against brain cancer. This is the saddest story because O'Connor has wanted to be Mayor for years. He has run before, only to lose in the primary to someone else, and now he had his big chance. He was in office for only abit over six months, when he went to the hospital with flu-like symptoms. He was probably thinking that it was something minor--get some drugs, maybe one day enforced rest in the hospital--and then it turns out that he has primary central nervous system T-cell lymphoma, which is really rare, and usually deadly. Supposedly, they were going to start treatment and then send him home, but he hasn't been home since the beginning of July. Then they found out that the chemotherapy drugs weren't working and the tumors were spreading. Last week, they put a shunt into his brain to drain excessive fluid, and then started radiation therapy. Late yesterday, his condition was downgraded from stable to serious. He has an infection from the shunt, and it was replaced late yesterday afternoon with another that has been treated with antiobiotics. He is also being given medication for seizures. Now they had to test for the seizures and aren't commenting on O'Connor's level of consciousness which leads me to believe that he is not conscious. The other news that is unsettling is that the seizures might not be caused by the infection, but from a worsening of the cancer. Poor Bob's travails have really made me think about life. The guy has wanted this job for so long, and after having it for such a short period has such problems. The only thing that is good is that he did make it to his dream. Imagine what it would be like to never realize your dream--to live life without making the attempt or succeeding. At least he had a few months. I'm hoping that he has many more, but it is not sounding good at all, and I'm preparing for the worst.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006 -- AfternoonPoor Alcor! The polar bear from the Erie Zoo died after his surgery last night. Dr. Dean Richardson had set the broken bones in the animal's leg, and Alcor was on his way back to his home zoo and waking from anesthesia when he died. An autopsy (necropsy in animals) is planned for Alcor to determine the cause of his death.
Monday, August 21, 2006 -- EveningDr. Dean Richardson has begun the operation on the Alcor, the polar bear from the Erie Zoo. The surgery began around 11 am this morning, and was still going on at 5 pm. There hasn't been a news release yet, but Alcor fractured his right ulna in two places and shattered his radius. If anyone could help Alcor, it is Richardson.
Friday, August 18, 2006 -- EveningBarbaro's surgeon gets around! Dr. Dean Richardson will be operating on an eight year old polar bear from the Erie zoo. Alcor was playing with his brother, Mizar, on August 11, when it was noticed that Alcor was not putting weight on his right front foot. It appears that somehow during the play, Alcor fractured his leg. After reviewing x-rays, the first opinion of the vets was that Alcor would have to be euthanized because there was no way to secure the break since it was very near the paw. It was also thought that Alcor couldn't get around on three legs like a dog because of his weight (750 pounds). Dr. Richardson was called in on the case, and he believes that he can help the animal. There is no word on when the operation will happen or what will have after the surgery. I'll keep my eyes open for more information.
Thursday, June 22, 2006 -- EveningThe reports on global warming just irritate the heck out of me! The latest report is that scientists have confirmed that the Earth is the warmest that it has been in 400 years--and here comes the kicker that makes me question the science of the report--that it might "possibly" be the warmest in 2000 years. Okay, that 600 year difference ain't just nothing. Yes, it's a blip on the map of the Earth's existence, but considering the fact that official recordings of weather are only a fairly recent phenonenon (only since the late 1800s) and that even then recordings can vary according to the record taker, I'm not sure that the researchers have accurate data. The even bigger annoyance is that the researchers are "positive" that the cause of the warming is the human race. So, how is it that they are so sure that it's not a more natural event. Do we really believe that we can "fix" the problem? The best part of it all is the change in temperature over the past 100 years. I can hear you now--it must be 20 degrees. Well, it is a change of 1 degree over 100 years. The thing that annoys me about global warming is that it is not something that is scientific. It is a political movement. How will we "fix" the problem? By politicians implementing laws and regulations that will put money into their pockets. There are scientists would could just as easily disprove global warming as there are scientists who will prove it. We only hear though of the side that the media supports. Would you want to put the global climate into the hands of politicians who have mucked up everything else? Not me!
Saturday, June 17, 2006 -- MorningThe US soccer team is going to play Italy later this afternoon. The Italian coach, Marcello Lippi said that he isn't going to underestimate the USA team because to do so might be over confident. He doesn't think that the competition from the US will be overly difficult. I think that the USA team was hugely overrated this year. So far today, Portugal has defeated Iran with a score of 2-0. Cristiano Ronaldo, a real hunk, scored a beautiful penalty kick goal for Portugal in the 80th minute. It almost looked like he scored another goal during stoppage time, but he was offside. The whistle blew seconds later and the game was over.
Thursday, June 8, 2006 -- EveningThe Schenley Plaza in Oakland officially opened today. The park has been semi-open for a few weeks. Today, all of the food places were open. There are four of them--a hot dog stand, Bagel Factory, Asian food, and pizza place. Events through the weekend included free carousel rides, the Zany Umbrella Circus, and different music acts. During lunch today, I wandered around the park and rode the carousel. It is actually a very nice environment, and it will be a nice addition to Oakland. How relaxing to sit in a park, eat some food, and listen to music. The only problem with the park is the lack of shady places. These pictures give a feel for the atmosphere of the celebration.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006 -- EveningPrince Albert of Monaco is going to admit to fathering yet another child out of wedlock. This time it is a 14 year old girl whose mother was a California waitress on vacation in Monaco. Personally I find this amazing. So the future prince of the realm is going around having sex with waitresses, air flight attendants, and gosh knows who else, casually, without any protection (since he is fathering children). You would think that in this day and age, Albert would have better sense. You would also think that he could at least pick someone other than a waitress--someone at his own social level. On top of all this, for years, folks have thought that the Prince was gay because he never has dated anyone for any length of time. That is pretty amazing for the leader of a country who is 48 years old. Especially amazing is that royalty need to have legitimate offspring to ensure their existence. This is especially true in Monaco because if there aren't any heirs to the throne, the country will revert to French rule. Fortunately for Albert and the people of Monaco, legitimate heirs extends to Princess Caroline and Princess Stephanie, and Caroline's son, Andrea Casiraghi is officially Albert's heir.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006 -- AfternoonI have been into sudoku since last July when I was laid up for ten weeks recovering from foot surgery. I don't have as much time for it now as I did then, but I still do a puzzle a day. The craze for Sudoku keeps on growing, and there is going to be Sudoku Tournament at San Francisco's Exploratorium this coming Saturday and Sunday (June 3-4). The tournament is being called the First North American Sudoku Tournament. I know that at this point I can still do medium level puzzles, and if I had kept at my level of doing several a day as I did last summer, I would probably be able to easily do the hard ones. It's amazing how work gets in the way of pleasure.
Friday, May 12, 2006 -- EveningSpeaking of arrogance, Netflix is the master of arrogance. the company had a class action suit levied against them because they said that you could get an unlimited number of dvd rentals in a month. However, that really wasn't the case. Netflix had ways to slow down delivery if you were getting too many DVDs a month. Now they have made modifications to their policies saying that it may take some time to get things to you. So what is the resolution? Well, if you are a subscriber, you can get a free month of service. There's a catch though. If you opt to take the free month, you are dropped from the service after that month and have to sign up again. Scammers still scamming, obviously. The other option is to upgrade to get more DVDs for one month. For this offer, Netlix was going to charge you the higher rate of the upgrade after a month. So it was like you just upped your subscription and really didn't get anything for it. Now because of an uproar, you can take a free upgrade for a month and after said month will return to your earlier subscription level.
Monday, May 8, 2006 -- Late AfternoonNow this is a real shocker to me! Pittsburgh was picked as one of the smartest places to live. The judgement was made based on economics, health care, educational options, housing, and cultural and leisure activities. Surprisingly, Pittsburgh ranked ninth in the listing that was created by Kiplinger's. The listing of the top ten in order is: Nashville, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Albuquerque, Atlanta, Austin, Kansas City, Asheville (NC), Ithaca (NY), Pittsburgh, and Iowa City.
Saturday, May 6, 2006 -- Late MorningCesar Millan is being sued by the producer of 8 Simple Rules who claims that his dog was hurt by treatment at Cesar's clinic. Flody Suarez is claiming that a choke chain was put on the dog and it was made to exercise to exhaustion on a treadmill. Umm. Yeah, that's usually what Cesar does to dog's who goes to his clinic. Well, Suarez is claiming that the dog had to be hospitalized and will not be able to eat properly again because of the choke color. Suarez is suing for more than $25,000 for hospital bills and accuses Cesar of "breach of contract, fraud, animal cruelty and intentional infliction of emotional distress." The reason five year old Labrador was there was because he was afraid of other dogs and people. Cesar, himself, was not dealing with the dog, but other workers in his clinic. It sounds like a way for Suarez to get attention for himself, and to make a big deal out of a dog not being spoiled. After all, Cesar always puts the dogs on treadmills to wear them out so they can behave and be more responsive to acting in a submissive way. I think that folks tend to believe that their dogs are people, and really don't like anything done to the dog that isn't in accordance with that belief.
Friday, April 28, 2006 -- AfternoonIf someone asked you who had the better attendance over the past year, the Steelers or the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, what would you say? If you said the Library, you would be right. The biggest shocker in the news to me was that 70% of people between the ages of 13 and 36 have library cards. Visitors to the library totalled 1.6 million over the past year. The reason for the library's popularity is the extensive music cd collection, DVDs and free Internet access. At the Squirrel Hill Library, there are computers in the children's room that kids can use to play video games. I go to the Squirrel Hill Library at least once a week, sometimes more often to get books or cds that I have reserved, the place is always busy. The computers are usually all in use, and lots of people are browsing the shelves. The library also has programs for its users, such as yoga, finance and reading clubs. If you haven't been to your local library, or the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh, make a point to do so this weekend.
Friday, April 21, 2006 -- EveningHappy Birthday Queen Elizabeth! Today was her 80th birthday, and yes it was her real birthday. The Queen of the British Empire celebrates two birthdays in a year. The first is on the real date and the other is in June and is the Trooping the Color. The reason for the split is because if a monarch has a birthday in winter time, it might not be possible to have a parade due to inclement weather. The Queen seems to be going strong for someone who is 80 years old. Of course, hardy old age runs in her family. Her mother lived to 101, and Queen Victoria lived to 81 which is amazing for the 19th century. Here's hoping to many more birthdays for the Queen.
Sunday, April 16, 2006 -- EveningMonaco's Prince Albert has become the first head of state who has made it to the North Pole while he was currently in office. Supposedly the mission's goal was to highlight global warming. I don't know how the Prince treking to the North Pole proves anything about global warming. Not only that, but I don't believe that it has any scientific merit in showing the causes of global warming or the possible solution. For some reason, the politicos would like us to believe that scientists have a strong understanding of the causes and cures of global warming. I doubt that they do. Just think of it, the meteorologists can't even predict what the weather will be like in a week let alone make changes to it. In fact, as of yesterday, they were calling for sunny skies today. Meanwhile it was very overcast and chilly today with sprinkles of rain. The point is that even if the climate is warming, I highly doubt that scientists really understand it. This is particular piece of "science" is too highly politically motivated to allow for unbiased decisions.
Friday, April 14, 2006 -- AfternoonGoogle has launched a calendar service. I checked it out late last night, and I have to admit that I am impressed. You have the option to load a variety of calendars (Jewish, US, and UK holidays are examples of the offerings). You can also share your calendar with other or view others calendars. Calendar items from Outlook can be imported also. So far it is an interesting concept. I don't think that folks need to work as much about Microsoft taking over the world as they should worry about Google. The only difference is that Microsoft tried to take over the world by cutting off the air supply of others. Google does it but just releasing items that folks want that actually work.
I have become a fan of South Park in recent weeks. First there was the incident with Isaac Hayes being a hypocrit and quitting the show because it mocked Scientology. It was okay with Hayes if the South Park guys mocked every other religion, but when it came to Hayes own, then the line was overstepped. Bull donkies! Anyway, over the past two weeks, Matt Stone and Trey Parker came up with episodes titled Cartoon Wars. The theme of the shows were to show the stupidity of folks who won't show cartoons of Muhammad because of Islam uprising and terrorist acts. The two parter mocks the Islamic radicals who are affronted by the cartoon, and by the public that will allow themselves to be bullied and bury their heads in the sand. Cartoon Network would not allow Stone and Parker to show a cartoon image of Muhammad. However, images of Jesus pooping on George Bush and the American flag were obviously perfectly acceptable. When will folks pull their heads out of the sand over this issue?
Monday, April 10, 2006 -- AfternoonDisney is doing what everyone else should be doing. They are going to offer some of their ABC shows free on the Internet for a two month trial period. They are offering their popular shows, such as Lost, Desperate Housewives, and Alias the day after the shows are broadcast on the network. The BBC did something similar earlier this year. They found that folks tended to watch the shows at a later time in the evening than previous viewship records showed.
Tuesday, April 4, 2006 -- MorningIn case you didn't know it, the stress of the workplace can cause headaches and other illness. A group of British researchers did a study and found that physical illness could be linked to a "working environment characterised by poor psychosocial conditions." Folks were thinking that the cause of their runny noses, coughs, headaches, and tiredness were related to poor air circulation or other conditions in the building in which they work. The researchers said that the building itself was usually a minimal cause of problems. Now the question is what to do when you are stressed out at work, or just not feeling well. Finding a new job may be the cure, or at the very least, use some sick time and don't worry about the work that will be there waiting for you when you go back to work.
A doctor at the University of Pittsburgh says that attending church can help you to live longer. The claim is that although regular exercise can add three to five years to your life and taking an anti-statin (like Zocor) can add 2.1 to 3.7 years to your life, regularly going to church can help you live 1.8 to 3.1 years longer. I think that the point they are missing is that you have to actually believe and have faith. You just can't be an athetist going to church and reap the same benefits. Besides, there may be more to it than going to church. Church-goers may be less likely to smoke or drink and might not let the stress of life get to them because of the belief in an afterlife. I can just see people going to a house of worship, not because of belief, but because they want to live long. Poppy cock!
Monday, April 3, 2006 -- EveningThis week is National Library Week. I am a huge fan of libraries, and go to my local library, the Carnegie Library at least once a week. Where else can you find books, magazines, movies, and music that you can borrow? Not only that, but my local library has a slew of classes for users, such as yoga, finances, and arts/crafts. I never mind my tax dollars going to the library because it is open to everyone, rich and poor. The Carnegie has an audio book program too.
Saturday, April 1, 2006 -- EveningTonight at 2 am (actually April 2nd), it will be time to change our clocks ahead an hour for the start of Daylight Savings Time (DST). That means that we lose an hour. I always like the fall when we gain an hour. This past August, President Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005 which will change the dates on which we move to DST. Instead of staring on the first Sunday in April, it will move to the second Sunday in March. The end will move from the last Sunday in October to the first Sunday in November.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006 -- AfternoonI have only been able to observe from a distance, but there is filming going on in Oakland today. The show being filmed is a television pilot that is being called Smith for now. It is causing abit of a traffic jam, but nothing major.
Today was election day in Israel, and polls have just closed. According to the exit polls, the new party that was formed by Ariel Sharon, Kadima, appears to have gathered the most votes. Usually, the Israelis are active voters with about 80% of the population turning out to vote. However, this election appears to have run into voter apathy, and the turn out was much lower than expected. Exit polls have Kadima taking 29-32 seats, Labor taking 20-22, and Likud only getting 11-12. What this will mean for the future of Binyamin Netanyahu is not certain.
Friday, March 10, 2006 -- EveningThe Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has successfully gotten into orbit around Mars this evening. The orbiter is now in an elliptical orbit around Mars. The technicians at NASA were getting nervous because there was radio silence as the orbiter went behind the planet shortly before they received confirmation that all was well. The MRO is going to look at Mars surface and atmosphere in more detail than any previous Martian mission.
I have become a big Matisyahu fan, and have been watching some videos of him performing on AOL Music Sessions. Matisyahu is a 26 year old Hasidic Jew (of the Lubavitch variety) who sings reggae music. The themes of the song come from religious and biblical sources. Each week, AOL Music Sessions features a different artist.
Friday, March 10, 2006 -- Late AfternoonThe University of Pittsburgh renamed one of its biomedical buildings after Dr. Thomas Starzl today. The first Biomedical Science Tower sits in the upper campus region (that means that it is on the hilltop where Trees and the Petersen Event Center are). Dr. Starzl found out about the honor today at a luncheon to celebrate his 80th birthday.
Wednesday, March 1, 2006 -- Early EveningQueen Elizabeth is going to turn 80 years old on April 21, and in honor of the occasion, a website has been setup to commemorate the event. Officially, the Queen will celebrate her birthday with Trooping the Colour which takes place on June 17 of this year. The official birthday is always in mid June in order to have the best weather for a parade and outdoor events. You can also send a birthday greeting to the Queen.
A study has been done by CMU that shows that the use of cell phones during a flight can be risky. It seems that the story is that the frequency at which the cell phones communicate could interfer with GPS systems on a plane and cause a crash. Although there is no instance of this happen so far, the CMU guys say it is only a matter of time. The Verizon Airphones that are available on planes uses a different frequency and shouldn't be a problem. Not only do the CMU guys claim that cell phones are a problem, but that also believe that laptops and hand held gaming devines might also cause problems. All the research is based on data from a 2003 study that documented the emissions of electronic devices when used during a flight. I'm not sure how much I buy this one. I would love to have the Mythbusters check this one out. Right now, you aren't allowed to make cell phone calls during a flight, but it appears that one to four cell phone calls are made on each flight in the northeastern US. That's why I find this study abit hard to swallow. If folks are using their phones, laptops, and Gameboys now, why hasn't there been a crash? Answer that question for me CMU guys.
Monday, February 27, 2006 -- EveningWhen I heard of this contest, I thought of Paul, a friend of mine. He has this obsession with rating bathrooms. He has alot of criteria, like cleanliness, spaciousness, how busy it is, and location. Paul is a weirdo, however, and will go a distance to go to the bathroom of his choice. Well, it is now time for the fifth annual America's Best Restroom Award. I don't know if Paul has been to any of the locations listed, but I can see him taking a plane trip to try them out.
Dan Brown is being sued for theft of an idea from two authors who wrote a non-fiction book making the claim that Mary Magdalen gave birth to Jesus' child. Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh are claiming that Brown stole their idea and research about the Magdalen story which was published in 1982 in The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. Alot of the ideas that were espoused in the book did wind up in Brown's book, but can a person copyright an idea. I can understand the alligation if Brown took Baigent and Leigh's research and claimed it as his own. Instead, Brown says that he came up with the idea somewhat on his own when he came across the book. Brown even acknowledges Baigent and Leigh's book in the The DaVinci Code. Come on! Brown wrote a work of fiction. In fact, Baigent and Leigh should be getting down on their knees and thanking Brown. Why? Brown writes an exciting and compelling mystery thriller. Say what you want about the literary value and ideas, but you have to admit that the story is a thrill ride. Because people were so caught up with the story and wanted to read more about it, they went and bought (or read) Baigent and Leigh's book. This is just a ploy on Baigent and Leigh to take advantage of Brown's success and to get some bucks out of the book sales in England and ticket sales for the movie.
Saturday, February 25, 2006 -- Late EveningOne of the Pennsylvania state representatives wants to know why the Petersen Event Center went so far over budget. The implication from Joe Petrarca is that Pitt underestimated so the sate would sucked into committing more dollars than initially intended. The original assessment was $35 million, but the arena wound up costing $119 million with $66 million of that coming from taxpayer dollars. Originally, the state was only supposed to contribute $13 million. Petrarca hopes to investigate if the cost was deliberately underestimated by Pitt to secure more tax payer dollars. The size of the arena was increased from 230,000 square feet to 400,000 square feet, and somehow Pitt got the state to agree to pay more than the original $13 million. What makes this even more offensive to Petrarca and to every tax payer in the state is that the University is now going to the state and asking for a 10% increase on the amount allocated to it this year. The powers that be want to waste even more money, and that is the only thing that I have ever seen Pitt excel at--wasting money and effort. The additional smack in the face is that $6.2 million is needed to fix the roof of the arena because it was so shoddily built. It's a real shame to the student of the University because the tuition hikes come every year. I have no plans to contribute money to the University as an alumni because of the way the current administration wastes money.
Sunday, February 19, 2006 -- Early AfternoonI played PowerBall yesterday because the amount was so high. When it gets to $365 million, you have to play. After all, even if the odds are against winning, wouldn't it be wonderful to have enough money so you can determine your own future instead of having to do a job to put food on the table? Obviously, I didn't win, but someone from Lincoln, Nebraska did.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006 -- Late AfternoonRufus, the bull terrier, won the Westminster Dog Show yesterday. According to the experts, Rufus had the perfect egg shaped head for his breed. Rufus is a cutie.
Sunday, February 12, 2006 -- Late MorningMore information on the discovery of the intact tomb in the Valley of the Kings. The archaeologists involved think that the five mummies that were enclosed in the tomb are possibly royal or noble mummies that were moved into the tomb to protect them from tomb robbers. The BBC link contains video and pictures of the tomb.
Friday, February 10, 2006 -- EveningFor the first time since King Tutankhamun's tomb was discovered in 1922, a new intact tomb has been found in the Valley of the Kings. The tomb contains five unopened sarcophagi and are dated to the 18th Dynasty (around 3000 years ago).
Thursday, February 9, 2006 -- Late AfternoonThe city of Pittsburgh is limiting the amount of time that city workers can spend web surfing. All workers will have 30 minutes a day in which they can surf the web. The time is broken into three chunks that are 10 minutes in length. Opponents are saying that the limitation might have an impact on work activities because there are times when it might take 30 minutes to complete a flight reservation for work purposes. The city is paying tons of money for Internet usage and is hoping to cut the amount of bandwidth that is used. The rationale is that cutting the bandwidth will lower the overall cost. I don't know what I would do if my Internet usage was limited to 30 minutes a day. Personally, if you get your work done, I don't care if you browse the Internet or stream music or news. Productive workers aren't necessarily the ones that are chained to a desk with a list of restrictions. In fact, that tends to develop a disgruntled worker.
Wednesday, February 8, 2006 -- Early AfternoonA dog by any other name would be called Ralph Fiennes. It seems that he has been cheating on his partner, Francesca Annis. The couple has been together for 11 years and are now splitting. In the past, it seemed that they had a great love story. The couple met while performing in Hamlet. She played his mother, since she is around 18 years old than him. They were both attached to others at the time and broke up with them to be with each other. It seemed that they had alot of love for each other, but I guess that was just the public face. I guess that what it comes down to is once a cheater, always a cheater.
Sunday, February 5, 2006 -- Late EveningSuper Bowl Sunday! What I will do is give the hightlights of some of the moments of the game and of the few commercials that I saw. I wound up missing most of the commercials because of talk or fast forwarding. However, there are sites that have all of the Super Bowl commercials. Of the few that I did see, I liked Ameriquest commercial that was set in the hospital. The doctor used the electric heart paddles that are used on people suffering from a heart attach to kill a fly. As he is looking at the dead fly that is now lying on the patient's chest, the doctor says "that killed him". Meanwhile the guy's wife and little daughter walk into the room to hear it. It was the funniest. The other commerical that I liked was for Budweiser titled the Streaker. This one had a sheared sheep that broke into the football game between the Budweiser Clydesdales. My third favorite was shown in the third quarter and was for Careerbuilder. The guy is talking to someone on the phone and is explaining that he is having problems because he works with a bunch of monkeys (as monkeys cavot all around him). On the other end of the phone is a girl who says she understands because she works with a bunch of jackasses (as donkeys go walk around her). So those were the three funniest of the few that I saw.
Also before I go over the game, let me comment on the musical entertainment. The Motown tribute was interesting with some good musical bits in it. The national anthem was a different story. Aaron Neville, of the big black mole on his forehead, started singing first. All I have to say is that he would have failed an American Idol audition. Aretha Franklin came after him and did a better job. The half time show was the Rolling Stones. They did a very nice job. It was surprising that they are as old as they are. Mick Jagger does not look like a 62 year old man was he swiveled his hips, pranced and sang like someone half his age. There were no garment malfunctions this year. I don't think you would want to see Aretha Franklin's hefty, naked breast.
Thursday, February 2, 2006 -- MorningAfter being dragged from his hutch, Punxsutawney Phil supposedly saw his shadow. That means six more weeks of winter. I think the whole thing is a bunch of bull-donkies. It seems that Phil has been seeing his shadow since 1999. Obviously he would with all those klieg lights around him! Personally, I don't think we will have six more weeks of winter because our winter has been so mild already. It feels as if spring is already here. Of course, I haven't seen a robin yet. So maybe Phil is right.
Thursday, January 26, 2006 -- MorningHamas has won the majority of support in the Palestinian elections that took place yesterday. This has caused some consternation in the international arena because Hamas has publicly called for the annihilation of Israel, and make it part of the party's political platform. I think that part of the picture that people are missing is that there are only two differences between Hamas and the Fatah party. Fatah tends to have a more elderly leadership and Hamas is more open about wanting the annihilation of Israel. Both are groups stained by terrorists, and both are unwilling to accept the continued existence of Israel.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006 -- Late AfternoonSome surprising news, Disney purchased Pixar yesterday for $7.4 billion. The deal will also put Steve Jobs on the Board of Directors for Disney. What will happen to Disney feature animation with this move? Some of the rumors are that the division will be swallowed up by Pixar. This news is surprising because earlier Pixar was talking of breaking away from Disney and going out on its own.
Monday, January 23, 2006 -- AfternoonIt seems that Sirius Radio may be getting someone to act in the role of censor for Howard Stern. I have to admit that this move is beyond my understanding. Everyone knows what you get when you tune into Stern. If you don't want to listen to some talk about or simulate sex acts on the radio, then don't tune into Stern. I heard one news commentator say that if you were in the car with your children, you couldn't listen to the Stern show without filth reaching the ears of the young'uns. Why are you putting the Stern show on if you have children in the car? Tune to Disney radio or some other program. It really irritates me no end that all programs have to be acceptable for children. That's what the knob or scan button is for--switching the channel to something that you like and find acceptable. Hiring Stern to make him act non-Sternish is like marrying Joe Schmoe and expecting him to be Brad Pitt.
Saturday, January 22, 2006 -- EveningThe whale in the Thames died during a rescue attempt today. They located the whale and managed to get him on a whale mattress and then onto a barge. The goal was to take the whale out to deep water and release him. However, there were concerns that even if they did that, the whale might be disoriented and unable to survive in deep water. If that were the case, the rescue team was considering euthaniasia options. However, while on the transport barge, the whale went into convulsions and died. It's a sad end to a story that caught the attention of so many. The whale rescue was even been shown live on the news stations here in the US.
Friday, January 20, 2006 -- Late EveningA northern bottle-nosed whale was sighted swimming in the Thames today. It's not something that one expects to see in a river, especially a whale that is a deep ocean whale. Concerns abound that the whale is going to die in the river and not find his way out to the ocean. Divers are looking for him now to confirm where he is and if he is headed back to the ocean.
Friday, January 6, 2006 -- EveningThe Mayor of Pittsburgh, Bob O'Connor, has made a bet with the Mayor of Cincinnati, Mark Mallory. Depending on who wins the playoff game this Sunday between the Steelers and the Bengals, the losing city's mayor will go to the winning city for a tour of the city.
Ariel Sharon had a turn for the worse today. While getting a catscan this morning, it was found that the bleeding was still happening in his brain. Another operation, this time a five hour operation, was performed on Sharon, and the bleeding was staunched. Sharon is now showing significant improvement in his vital signs. The doctors believe that Sharon has suffered neurological damage. It is just not sure at this point how bad that damage is or if Sharon will even recover. Meanwhile, religious lunatic, Pat Robinson, said that Sharon was struck down by the hand of God. Why? Because God is mad at Sharon for arbitrarily cutting up the Holy Land into pieces and giving away God's land. According to Robinson: "He was dividing God's land, and I would say, 'Woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the (European Union), the United Nations or the United States of America. God says, 'This land belongs to me, and you'd better leave it alone,'" Makes me want to ask Mr. Lunatic Robinson if the whole of this planet isn't "God's Land" and we are all in trouble for making arbitrary state/country lines and claiming to own the land. Obviously Robinson loves the old Testament smote 'em down God and not the New Testament benevolent God. Funny, I thought Robinson was a Christian. Perhaps he is, but his viewpoints aren't very Christian in character. Maybe God should smote down Mr. Robinson for misrepresenting him in public.
Wednesday, January 4, 2006 -- EveningLynn Swann, former wide receiver for the Steelers, has formally announced that he will be running for Governor of Pennsylvania. Swann will be campaigning for the Republican nomination in the primary which will be held on May 16. The question is whether people will vote for Swann because he is a former Steeler or for his political viewpoints. So far, I'm not very clear on where Swann stands on the issues. It appears that he has a plan to cut taxes in the state, but it's not clear where he will cut the money in the budget. I want more information before I make a decision, and so far, there isn't much there besides celebrity. Check out Swann's campaign website.
Ariel Sharon has suffered a massive stroke today, and the latest news is not looking good. Right now, he is on a respirator, and has needed a lengthy operation to drain blood from his brain. The prognosis is that he will not fully recover, and it is already mentioned that he is paralyzed from the waist down. Ehud Olmert is taking over the duties of Prime Minister. A few weeks ago, Sharon had a minor stroke which did no damage, but doctors determined that he needed a heart operation to prevent further strokes. That operation was not scheduled until tomorrow, and unfortunately, Sharon didn't make it that long. My best wishes are with Sharon and his family. The question now is what will happen with future withdrawals from settlements?
Sunday, January 1, 2006 -- Late MorningHappy New Year to everyone! The year has gone by so quickly. Usually around this time, people look back at the high and low points of the past year. At the Daily Bongo, the highlight of the past year has to be the Pittsburgh Penguins getting the number one draft pick and selecting Sidney Crosby. Why is this such a big deal? Because without Crosby, there might not be the intensity of interest in hockey which could mean the difference between keeping the team in the city or losing it. Also, Crosby is going to be one of the legends of hockey, and he is here in Pittsburgh. As for the low point of the year, I would have to say that it is the attention that the media pays to death, destruction and human suffering. For example, during the flooding of New Orleans, you would see film of newscasters showing video of folks who didn't have water, food, or were trapped. Did they help? Of course not, because the story was to play up the bad, not to do something to alleviate the problem. The news has gotten out of hand with non-stop glorification of suffering. Do we really need 24 hours of coverage of Katrina when nothing new was being added to the story? Give me breaking news, give me the story, and then move on if you have nothing new to add.
The BBC has a list of 100 things we didn't know a year ago. My favorite is number 8: "Devout Orthodox Jews are three times as likely to jaywalk as other people, according to an Israeli survey reported in the New Scientist. The researchers say it's possibly because religious people have less fear of death." Of the answer could be that religious people have less willingness to follow stupid laws.
Monday, December 26, 2005 -- EveningChinese restaurants are very popular at Christmas time. On Christmas Eve, my boyfriend and I went to a local Thai place, Bangkok Balcony, because the food there is excellent, and as can be expected, it was one of the few places open. It seems that alot of Asians also don't celebrate Christmas, and probably see a good opportunity to take advantage of providing an eating place for folks who want to eat out on a Christian holiday. One of the biggest groups of diners are Jewish. One thing that I hadn't thought about is that Jewish people tend to go to Chinese restaurants because it is always possible to find kosher food by sticking to the vegetarian options.
This January 1, a leap second is going to be added to the atomic clock. The reason is that the Earth has been slowing down, and in order for the atomic clocks to be accurate and in accordance with astronomical time, a second has to be added periodically. The atomic clock clicks off a second based on an atom of cesium 133 going through 9,192,631,770 cycles. The thing is that the Earth is slowing down. An astronomical second defined as 1/86,400th of a "mean solar day," the average time between two consecutive noons. This time is getting longer astronomically, so in order to keep the atomic clock in line, leap seconds are periodically added. Sometimes I wonder about what drives as humans to keep track of time so closely. Does it really matter if it is 9:45 or 9:46? When it's daylight, so daylight things. When it is nighttime, turn on the lights. We get so caught up in being exact that we forget how to live and enjoy life.
Sunday, December 25, 2005 -- EveningAn interesting story from Israel. Subliminal ads have been legalized for use on television shows. Two stations, the Music Channel and Israel Plus (a Russian language channel) are cleared for the usage, and they have to announce both before and after the program that subliminal advertising has been used. So how does the subliminal advertising work? The program just uses the product somehow in the show, and doesn't have to disclose which product was placed for subliminal purposes. It's akin to the jury on American Idol drinking from obvious Coke glasses, or Doug Heffernan eating Cheetos on King of Queens. I think that subliminal advertising is the wave of the future. Since people can now record shows on their DVRs and fast forward past commercials, the way for advertisers to get around it is to place products in the show. Now, I'm not sure how this would work for syndication because the product might not be available years later. Would I eat Cheetos because Doug Heffernan eats them? Not likely, but I did notice that he ate the crunchy Cheetos which are my personal favorite.
Yesterday I got the latest Enya CD called Amarantine. This is the first CD that Enya has released in five years. It's a typical Enya CD, and I enjoyed listening to it. There is something soothing about Enya's music, and this CD didn't disappoint. Some of the reviews on Amazon comment that this CD isn't very different from her other CDs, but that misses the point. Usually when a person likes an artist, they want to get more of the same. When you hear Enya's name, you know what to expect, and I don't see the problem with that. If you don't like the music then don't listen to it.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005 -- MorningThe Pennsylvanian courts ruled yesterday that intelligent design will not be taught in the biology classes. The federal judge ruled in favor of the parents who brought the suit and who wanted Darwanian evolution taught in biology. Of course, this ruling probably won't stop the ID folks who want the credit for human life to go to a God. Personally I have a problem with the ID folks. So they don't think that human life can evolve from microbial beginnings, BUT they believe in the existence of this being that can create human life from nothing. When you ask them who was the creator then of this being who creates life, well, then you just have to have faith. Pshaw! Let's just leave out a step and put our faith in the fact that life can arise from just the right conditions and chemicals and eventually evolve into intelligent life. Let's put creation myths where they belong, in a classroom that teaches the myths and legends of all religions and peoples, past and present, on the planet.
Saturday, December 17, 2005 -- MorningThere are a group of Jews for Christmas who are trying to call attention to the fact that preventing the majority of people from acknowledging their religion isn't right. Lately, it has become unacceptable for people to wish each other Merry Christmas, and this has been disturbing alot of people. Being an atheist with a Jewish boyfriend, I don't celebrate Christmas, but I don't understand why some people are supposedly offended by the singing of Christmas carols and people wishing each other Merry Christmas. I can understand that the country should not force religion on others, but it should also not force people to not deny their religion. By saying you can't wish others Merry Christmas, have a Christmas party, or sing Christmas carols, you are saying that the 85% of this country's population has to deny or hide their religious beliefs. The first amendment of the US Constitution states; "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." Note that there shall be no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion. Sing the Christmas carols, wish a Merry Christmas. After all, that does fall under your rights to free exercise of your religion and freedom of speech. Don't let the few who fear religion staunch the rights of those who wish to celebrate and embrace their religion. As Jackie Mason said at the Jews for Christmas rally in New York, it's okay to say Happy Hannuka, but obscene to say Merry Christmas. He wants all religions to be able to express their religion, and encourages us all to say Merry Christmas to others. I know that I am planning to do so.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005 -- AfternoonOne of my favorite eating places for as long as I can remember has been McDonald's. Their fries are the best, and I love the Big Mac and even the regular hamburger with the single pickle strategically placed in the corner of the patty. Nowadays, my favorite lunch plan is to go to Mickey D's, and get a burger, small fries, yogurt parfait and apple dippers. I have deluded myself into thinking that this constitutes a healthy lunch. I may have even more reason to frequent McDonald's even more. It seems that McDonald's is thinking of replacing the toys in the Happy Meal with a portable media player that will have Disney movies, songs and other media type stuff. The idea is that you get your portable device and then when you go to McDonald's and make a purchase, you can download a clip. It might take five trips to McDonald's to get a complete movie. The downloads can be done via wireless which McDonald's has been putting in its restaurants since 2003.
Wednesday, December 7, 2005 -- EveningUniversity of Pittsburgh trustees gave Chancellor Nordenberg a 3 percent raise. So how much does the Chancellor actually make? Well, there are the perks such as free housing, car, travel, and other things, but his base salary is now $427,500. Supposedly there has been unprecedented campus growth, but I really haven't noticed anything personally in my ten years in the Oakland area. Maybe they mean that the Chancellor has brought in alot of money by fundraising and selling alumni information to credit card companies. Yeah, that has to be it.
Tuesday, December 6, 2005 -- MorningThe girls who were leading the girlcott against Abercrombie & Fitch have met with executives of the store about offensive sayings on the company's t-shirts. Company representatives told the girls that they use focus groups to evaluate the clothing before it is made available to the public, and the girls who looked at the "offensive" shirts found them to be humorous. After all, what isn't humorous about someone with a larger chest wearing slogans like "Who Needs Brains When You Have These?" The girls made other remarks to the company representatives about a lack of diversity in the company because I suppose no black representatives were there from the company. The company directed them to their web site's diversity link.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005 -- AfternoonThe Israeli election has been set for March 28. The biggest news has been that someone from the Labor party Haim Ramon has joined the new party that Ariel Sharon formed called "National Responsibility". The election for the head of Likud will happen on Dec. 19. Binyamin Netanyahu will be competing for the lead of Likud.
Monday, November 21, 2005 -- EveningAriel Sharon has resigned from the Likud party, and has asked the Israeli president to call an early election. This is quite a shock for the Israeli government and press. Sharon is going to form his own party, and it is rumored that Shimon Peres might join the party that Sharon forms. People are also thinking that Binyamin Netanyahu will lead Likud and go against Sharon in the election for prime minister.
Monday, November 14, 2005 -- AfternoonIt's amazing how much the Chancellor at the University of Pittsburgh makes in a year. Nation wide, yes you hear me right, Mark Nordenberg ranks 11th in compensation. For 2003-2004, his compensation totalled $571,305. This did not include the car that he was given by the University or the housing, because he is provided with a residence. I am also assuming that the extras that go with both items such as insurance, food and supplies is also not covered, or the cost of the salary of the chauffeur who drives the Chancellor around town. This is absolutely ridiculous for a public school of Pitt's calaber. No wonder tuitition rates are so high. If you have to pay out this much money, you have to bring it in somehow.
Wednesday, November 9, 2005 -- Early AfternoonIn local news, Bob O'Connor won the Pittsburgh Mayoral race. It's not like this was a surprise because the city is predominately filled with Democrats, and the Republician entry, Joe Weinroth, was campaigning by stealth and was doing everything to stay below the radar. I have to admit that O'Connor is a personable chap, and comes from the Squirrel Hill area of town (and just lives a few blocks from me). I'm hoping that he will help the city instead of hurting it.
An archaeologist from Pittsburgh discovered a complete alphabet on a tablet that dates to the 10th century B.C. in Israel this past summer. This is evident that the culture at that time might have been more sophisticated and that there were attempts to teach the language in a written form to others. The rationale is that the tablet has the alphabet on it, and could be used in a teaching situation. Some scholars disagree that the tablet is in Hebrew and claim that it is Phoenician or a mix of Phoenician and Hebrew.
Saturday, November 5, 2005 -- Late AfternoonThe group responsible for the "girlcott" of Abercrombie & Fitch were some local teenage girls with the group Allegheny County Girls as Grantmakers. It seems that a group of 20 were responsible for getting Abercrombie & Fitch to remove shirts with slogans such as "Who Needs Brains When You Have These" from the store's catalog. Now the group will be meeting with reprensentatives of the store to come up with slogans for shirts that will be empowering for girls. I guess that I must be the only person who has issues with this boycott. I'm sorry, but if a saying on a shirt disenfranchizes a person, that person has a problem. If someone thinks that things will change for women, or that girls will somehow have better images of themselves if they wear shirts that say something like "Girls are Smart", that person or group doesn't really have a grip of reality or where the real problem lies. Where is the problem? The problem lies in the fact that women (and girls) are more willing to protest over silly issues such as humorous slogans on shirts, but not willing to protest over sexual discrimination in the workplace. An example is the University of Pittsburgh's communication and rhetoric program. In April of 2004, there were reports of a hostile workplace environment in the department because of male professors having sex with female students and preferential treatment given to male members of the department. Of course, the University denies that there is a problem, but recently the last two women faculty members of the department resigned. Yes, you did hear me right. The last two women left because of problems of discrimination in the department. Of course, it is still denied that there is discrimination in the department. I'm sure that if women and girls wear shirts with empowering statements on them, everything will just be fine in the world. Let's address issues like that instead of real problems such as sexual discrimination in the workplace and penalizing of women who report the issue. Perhaps the Allegheny County Girls as Grantmakers should look at some of the harder issues that really do affect the female population as opposed to shirt slogans. After all, girl power shirts have been available for awhile now, and that obviously is not helping out women where it really matters.
Friday, November 4, 2005 -- EveningAbercrombie & Fitch gave into pressure to drop shirts with sayings that got under the skin of some women's groups. The store understands that some women are offended by the shirts, so they are pulling them from the stores and won't be selling them. I think that it is sad that the company gave into pressure from women's groups that had no sense of humor. I would have thought that the story about the "girlcott" would have caused more women who have brains and humor to actually purchase the shirts.
Sprint, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications have joined together to come up with a plan to develop and distribute voice, data, video and wireless services across America. One of the things that the group is talking about is to enable you to program your DVR from your cell phone. So if you are stuck in traffic and know that you will be missing a show that you really want to see and forget to record, you can just dial in and do it. Also, you might be able to watch video from your cell phone. I can understand the interest in doing these sorts of things, and know that there have been times when I might really want to do something like this. AT the same time, you have to wonder if we are becoming too connected. When do we get away, and just take a walk in the park and enjoy the scenery?
Tuesday, November 1, 2005 -- MorningPrince Charles and Camilla are coming to the United States for a week long visit. The visit will start in New York City and include a trip to Ground Zero today. Tomorrow they will head to Washington, then New Orleans, then Marin County, and end in San Francisco. Each day will be a new city. One group that will be following Charles and Camilla around is PETA. They have issues with the Royal Guard wearing bearskin hats, and think that fake fur should be used instead. Personally, I think that PETA should spend it's time on more important things, but it is their time and money to waste.
Saturday, October 29, 2005 -- MorningOf course, everyone who follows news knows that Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for Israel to be wiped from the map. He made the comment a few days ago, and is still standing by the comment and has support by his government. The comments were made a conference titled "The World without Zionism". What I think is ironic about this is that Ahmadinejad is just verbalizing what is a common theme in the Arab nations. Some people are disillusioned enough to think that the Arabian nations will accept the existence of Israel as long as Israel makes enough concessions to placate the Palestinians. I don't think so, and I think that Ahmadinejad's comments show that.
Some local women's groups here in Pittsburgh want to boycott--excuse me "girlcott"--Abercrombie & Fitch. Why? Because they believe that some of the t-shirts being sold at the store are offensive and demeaning to women. I think that these women need to get an injection of humor and get over themselves. After all, who does see the humor in a shirt worn by a buxom blonde saying "Who needs brains when you have these?" The protest is supposed to be tomorrow (Sunday) at 4 pm. I think that the women picked a stupid time for their protest. Hmm...Sunday afternoon...no people in the downtown area (where the store is located). It makes alot of sense to have your protest when no one will see you. So, not only are these women humorless, they also aren't too bright. Personally, I wish that I had the boobage to wear the shirt in question. Maybe I should start a competing protest at the same time. I'll wear the shirt and protest the stupidity of changing words like boycott because you are trying to expose sexism.
Friday, October 28, 2005 -- EveningSpeaking of the Pens, Tom Murphy, the Mayor of Pittsburgh, is claiming that a fix is in the works for the allocation of the slots license here in Pittsburgh. It seems that the awarding of slots in the city might be a purely political thing and might depend heavily on who can grease the pockets of the folks in the Gaming Control Board. Murphy isn't willing to name names, and he has chastized the local media for not doing any hard core investigative work on the issue. Supposedly the company that is favored in this business is the owner of Station Square, Forest City Enterprises. We'll have to see if anything else comes from this.
Monday, October 24, 2005 -- AfternoonI am always surprised by opinon polls. For example, CBS did a survey in which they asked people their views on evolution. 51% did not think that evolution was the answer. They believed that God created man in his present form. An additional 30% thought that humans evolved under the guiding hand of God. Only 15% believed in evolution without any supernatural support. I am not a supporter or believer in Intelligent Design. However, you have to wonder why there is so much opposition to Intelligent Design if 81% of those surveyed believe in the concept to some degree. Another question is whether those surveyed are an accurate representation of the views that are held by the majority of Americans. The survey was done with 808 random people, but I wonder how random. It seems that liberals were more likely to believe in evolution (36%) with non-church goers (25%) and those with a college degree (24%). Personally I believe in evolution because I see the scientific proof for it. For example, all of the different breeds came about because of selective breeding and evolution. Some might say that using this example gives credance to the notion of an intelligent designer with man taking that role with dogs. However, I would say that man's involvement just made the process happen more quickly and gave it a particular outcome by preferring some results over others.
Friday, October 21, 2005 -- MorningPrince William is going to join Prince Harry at Sandhurst. William passed the exams for officer training and will start attending Sandhurst in June. Every male in the royal family goes into the military for abit because it's the thing that they do. It's not like there are other options open to them (such as business), and this also gives them the opportunity to say that they served their country.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005 -- MorningWhat I don't understand is how can someone claim that Intelligent Design has nothing to do with religion? Michael Behe, who is a biochemist, says that "Creationism is a religious idea; intelligent design is not. "It is a science." So what is the scientific method that is used to prove it. How can we show that evolution isn't possible, but this supreme being is? And who is the intelligence in the design? It's obviously some God who has control over the entire planet. Of course, it has nothing to do with religion. I think that the Intelligent Design people say it often enough, they think that people will believe them. Behe claims that just because something is designed there isn't any additional knowledge about the designer. I would disagree with that, and say that there is the additional knowledge of the existance of some sort of supernatural being that is capable of creating life from nothing. I have an easier time accepting evolution and that life will arise from certain matter and favorable conditions than in accepting a supernatural being.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005 -- AfternoonSomething of interest to Pittsburgh Panthers fans is that Rod Rutherford, who played for Pitt a couple of seasons ago, signed as up for the Steelers practice squad. Rutherford really hasn't made it in the NFL.
A new study out says that it's not how hard you exercise, but how much you exercise. It seems that benefits are found if you walk a brisk 12 miles every week, and the more you do the better the results. People think that you have to really be gunho to get any benefits from exercise and the actuality of it is that all you need is a regular regime that you stick to. Walking two miles a day every day will take around a half an hour and will give you fourteen miles in a week. The other thing that I thought was interesting in the article was the claim that people gain three to four pounds every year so being active is a good way to maintain healthy body weight. I know that I put on a few pounds since I had my foot surgery, and I am hoping that as soon as I can start walking as much as I used to that I will get rid of those pounds. We shall see.
Tomorrow is Yom Kippur. This is the day that Jews are supposed to ask for forgiveness for all of their sins to God. The day before Yom Kippur, meaning today, Jews are supposed to ask for forgiveness for broken promises that were made to others because those aren't things that God can forgive. Tomorrow those of the Jewish faith are not supposed to do anything, no eating, drinking, working, washing, or wearing leather shoes.
Monday, October 10, 2005 -- AfternoonAn Israeli-American, Robert J. Aumann, and American, Thomas Schelling are going to share the Nobel Prize in Economics based on their work with game theory. When I first heard about game theory a few years ago, I used to think that it was just a theory on how games were played. But a very nice man and friend, Hector Correa, explained to me that game theory was basically a way of decerning the odds that would lead two combating forces to a particular outcome. Now the combating forces don't have to be in physical combat. They just have to be people, groups or situations that are conflicting in some way. It is a very interesting aspect of economics and political science.
God is out to wreck divine retribution on Madonna according to some rabbis. Is it because of her book about sex from a few years back? Nope. It's because she has a song on her new album that is supposed to be about Issac Ben Solomon Luria. The song is called Isaac, and the reason God is going to be pissed with Madonna is because she is trying to cash in on Luria's name and reputation. I think that there are other things that Madonna has done that will be more offensive to God, but you believe what you want to believe.
Saturday, October 8, 2005 -- Late EveningThis bit of news from earlier in the week, Sun and Google have joined forces to combat Microsoft. Google's plan is to allow folks to access office productivity tools like a word processing and spreadsheet software from the Google Toolbar. The product that will be used is Sun's OpenOffice which has been a freeware package available for some time. This is an open declaration of war against Microsoft, and we should all benefit if the end product becomes better.
Friday, October 7, 2005 -- Early MorningAre stereotypes valid? Scientists are known to research everything, and this was a topic that they took on as it pertains to race stereotypes. The findings are that the stereotypes aren't true, and may be due more to national values that may find some basis in the historical past for the country.
In the intelligent design trial in Dover, a witness testified that a textbook for students originally had the word creationism in it, and the word was later changed to intelligent design. What really gets to me about this piece of testimony, and the fact that everyone is making a big deal about it is that it is obvious that creationism is intelligent design. Both basically follow the premise that a God is responsible for the existence of life on this planet. come on. This shouldn't even be a matter of debate. After all, what is the intelligence in the design?
Tuesday, October 4, 2005 -- Mid AfternoonWould you like to be happy in life, but feel that you just aren't? Well, it may be a genetic thing. It seems that some people are just happy, and whatever happens to them in their life, they return to the same level of happiness as they had before the event. So a person who is paralyzed in an accident will return to the almost the same level of happiness that he/she had before the accident. The same thing happens with a lottery winner. That person may have a high for a year, but after that he/she will return to the earlier level of happiness. So how would you describe yourself? Are you a happy person? I think that I am. I usually find happiness in alot of the daily things that I do, and I try to make certain to do those things that I enjoy. After all, life is far to short to just put up and shut up. Personally, I believe that one of the components that leads to my happiness is that I love myself. I would rather be me than anyone else in the world. So what is happiness? Psychologists believe that it is more than just an emotional response. It is also the level of satisfaction that a person feels with his life. Right now, I am not happy with my job, but I realize that it is only a small portion of life, and that it is something that it not permanent. I make the best of it and plot and scheme to get something that I really enjoy. I am looking for that dream job, and I know that eventually I will find it.
Monday, October 3, 2005 -- Late AfternoonAi Ai, the chimp from China, is trying to kick her smoking habit. It seems that the chimp started smoking after she got stressed out from her first mate's death in 1989, followed by a second mate's death in 1997 and her daughter being sent to another zoo in the same year. So Ai Ai has been smoking for 16 years, and the zoo thought it was time to stop when her health began to deteoriate. So now they are playing peppy music for her, and giving her sweet treats and fried food on top of her usual diet. Ai Ai seems to be content for now although she did cry for cigarettes at the beginning. Now the question on everyone's mind is how does a chimp in a zoo get a smoking habit? Someone would have had to given her the cigarettes because she obviously wasn't going to the Chinese version of 7-11 to get them.
Microsoft is finally doing what Word Perfect did years ago. You will be able to save to pdf in the next version of Office which is known as Office 12. This will be great news for folks who know Word and Powerpoint and want to create PDF documents. It might not be great news for Adobe which might see a decline in sales for Adobe Acrobat. The only reason I used it was to get the pdf printer for Word.
This evening is Erev Rosh Hashanah which is the evening of Rosh Hashanah. Rosh Hashanah is the first day of the first month, Tishrei, of the Jewish year. In the Jewish faith, it is believed to mark the day that God created Man. The holiday is celebrated with the blowing of the Shofar and by eating specific foods. One of the main things to eat is apple dipped in honey or honey cake. In countries other than Israel, the holiday is celebrated over two days to make sure that you are celebrating on the right day. So we will celebrate Rosh Hashanah tomorrow and Wednesday this year.
Monday, October 3, 2005 -- AfternoonYahoo! is going into competition with Google over digitizing library material. Yahoo!'s plan is to allow those who own the copyright to materials that will be scanned, the option to opt-in if they want. Google was just scanning the materials and letting copyrights be damned. Yahoo! is working in cooperation with the Open Content Alliance and plans to digitize 18,000 books of American literature and various other items from national and European archives. The materials will be available on the Open Content Alliance web site.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005 -- AfternoonThe Dover trial has started up, and we have gotten testimony from teachers who were told by the school board that someone should stand up for Jesus and have the biology classes teach evolution and Intelligent Design on a 50-50 basis. The teachers said that they were forced to watch videos that said that Darwin's theory was full of holes. It seems that the prosecutor is trying to show that the school board has a history of talking about God and creationism.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005 -- AfternoonBo Bice and his wife had a baby on Saturday. It is a boy named Aiden. No other details have been released. Congratulations Bo.
This week is Banned Book Week. It's one of my favorite weeks because I think that I should be the person who decides what I, or my children if I had them, read. Here's the list of the 100 most frequently challenged books. Some of my favorite books are on the list, like Harry Potter, Catcher in the Rye, Huck Finn, Of Mice and Men, and A Wrinkle in Time. It's fine and dandy for someone to decide that they don't want to read the books or don't want their children to read them. Let me make up my own mind about what is permissible. Most of the time it is just that some folks are trying to suppress ideas. This is not just a conservative thing. Liberals are just as apt to want to ban a book or a thought that doesn't agree with their agenda.
Sunday, September 25, 2005 -- Early AfternoonOne item which I have not been able to comment on to the length that I would love is the topic of Intelligent Design. According to the propopents of this "theory", it is not creationism. It's claim is that evolution has holes in it. For example, not every link is found in the evolution of animals and humans. Therefore, according to the ID folks, that means that there is a problem with evolution. Their claim is that there is no way that things could have evolved from single cell creatures to the complex human without the hand of an overseeing being. What we are talking about here is God. The ID folks don't want to come right out and say that because they know that there is a problem with preaching religion in public schools. The problem is that they believe that this notion of intelligent design is scientific and that it should be included in classes that teach science. Not only that, they want the children to be taught that the evolution is a theory with holes in it and only intelligent design is complete. I am really offended that someone would want to have a pseudoscience presented in a scientific format. I hope to have some time to comment on this topic more fully, and have been planning a comments page on it. I just haven't had time since I started the writing class and went back to work. However, I am going to make the time because there is a case planned here in Pennsylvania that is going to court in Harrisburg tomorrow. The Dover school district wants to include intelligent design in the science classroom, and of course, folks are fighting that. I know that the question that I have for any person who does not believe that it is possible for an eye to evolve is how does this superpowerful, magically being exist? Did this being just pop up out of nothing or does it have a creator too? I find the evolution of the eye to be alot more believeable than a God that just is. I will have more in the coming days and will keep an eye on this trial.
Thursday, September 15, 2005 -- MorningWe have been hearing lots of stories about the flooding in New Orleans. Usually the finger of blame is pointed at the federal government as being responsible for all that has happened. According to the Louisiana governor and the New Orleans mayor, it is all Bush's fault for not giving money to the city to shore up the levees. You would think that the city didn't have money. So they shouldn't have had the funds to pay the New Orleans Saints $186.5 million to stay in the city. Hmm. Makes sense to me. Let's pay millions of dollars to keep our football team in the city, but screw the levees. That's the federal government's problem. If they don't give us the money, we just blame them when the levees break. That's what happened. Can you imagine that? $186.5 million to keep a football team in your city. This deal was made in 2001 and the state of Louisiana paid out $12 million in 2002 and $13 million in 2003 and then struggled to make payments in 2004 and 2005. The team is still owed $130 million, but since the city and state are probably not going to be able to pay the team, it will probably be looking elsewhere for a home. I just can't believe that the state decided to sell out its people for a team. Meanwhile the whole NFL gave $1 million to the victims of Katrina. Boy, talk about deep pockets, eh? The team gets over $50 million over the past few years, and the whole of the NFL can only come up with $1 million. If I were the people of New orleans, I would stop blasting Bush, and turn my fury on my state and city representatives who turned their backs on my needs, and didn't care about my safety. The only thing that is nice to finally hear is that the governor of Louisiana, Kathleen Blanco, is finally taking responsibility for the fiasco. The thing is that the mayor and governor did not have a plan, or at least didn't implement anything if they did. According to Michael Brown, the former FEMA head, Blanco was "incapable of organizing a coherent state effort". The issue of the levees should be addressed before rebuilding begins because it would be stupid to just duplicate the situation again. Unfortunately for Louisiana and New Orleans, its local representatives might be useless in that respect.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005 -- MorningIt seems that 40 elderly people were found dead in a hospital in New Orleans. The part of the story that disturbs me is that the deaths are being attributed to the Hurricane even though one administrator said that some of the deaths had occured before the Hurricane, and that the bodies were being held until they could be claimed by relatives. Another administrator said that "some" of the deaths may have been due to the Hurricane. Doesn't matter. The whole number is attributed to Katrina. Why? Because it works for the agenda of boosting the death count. It's moves like this that makes me really question the agenda of the media and government officials. I wonder how many people are so gullible to just swallow whole the stories that they are feed by the media. I would imagine that some people want to believe what they are told because it fits in with their preconceived prejudices. The death toll (counting all of this 40) is now at 280 for the state of Louisiana, which is a far mark from the minimum of 10,000 that the state initially claimed.
Monday, September 12, 2005 -- EveningIn Gaza today, Mahmoud Abbas showed he didn't have alot of control over the Palestinian population when the people flooded into the areas recently vacated by the Israelis. Synogagues were set on fire and the Egyptian/Gaza border was stormed by Palestinians on both sides of the border. Egyptian soldiers had to fire on the crowds to control the masses at one point and one person wound up dead. We will have to see how things progress. Right now, news reporters were talking to Palestinians who said that this was a victory for terrorism. As one person sais, Sharon said that areas of Gaza were as important as Tel Aviv. If the Palestinians now have Gaza, have much longer before they have Tel Aviv? According to the guy interviewed on television, it won't be long as long as the terrorism increases. My boyfriend was saying that Sharon did the right thing because now it will show that Abbas doesn't have control over his people. Personally, I don't think that will happen. I'm not sure why folks are so blatantly against anything that Israel does, especially when Israel is held to a totally different standard than any other country in the world. For example, a Palestinian terrorist blows up a bus of civilians, and we are told that we should understand the feelings of the terrorist and how oppressed he was. Israel targets a terrorist leader and kills him, and evil Israel. We must condemn the nation. Do you see a problem here? I sure do. You really have to wonder if this double standard is the result of a unspoken anti-Semitism. I'm sure that the folks that mouth these views would say they have nothing against Jewish people. All I have to say is actions speak louder than words.
Monday, September 12, 2005 -- Late MorningIn what I consider a bizarre story, Prince Albert of Monaco is saying that he was tricked into fatherhood. His claim is that the woman, Nicole Coste, set him up. No real details are given on how this happened, but I do have to wonder about it. Is his claim that he was drugged and then wasn't fully aware of his actions when he had sex with her? It's the only thing that I can think of. I would hope that he isn't claiming that she told him she couldn't get pregnant. No man should be that stupid to believe any woman who says that unless he has proof. The thing that I have found hardest to believe in this whole affair is that Albert actually had sex with a woman. There were many rumors that he was gay. After all, not many men make it to 47 without ever having a serious girlfriend. Albert claims that he has had difficulty finding women because the women are scared away at the thought of trying to fill the shoes of Princess Grace (Albert's mother and former film actress Grace Kelly), and Albert has been frightened of the responsibility of finding that perfect someone. Now he says he's just too busy to go bride hunting. I'm sure that Caroline is breathing a sigh of relief because that means that she or her son, Andrea, will then become ruler of Monaco when Albert dies.
Sunday, September 11, 2005 -- Early EveningSo far, the actual number of deaths in Louisiana is much lower than the original amounts that political flacks and the vulturous media were claiming. Right now the number for the state is 154 dead. That's a good deal off the 10,000 that were originally blared by the media and the mayor of New Orleans. I think that in this situation, there was a rush to judgement and finger pointing that was unparalleled. Some people really hate Bush and are extremely quick to blame him for all the woes that exist on the planet. Cloudy day in your neighborhood? Must be Bush's fault. Yes, things did not go smoothly with the evacuation and the levees were not maintained in such a way to miminize the type of problem that we saw in New Orleans. Is that Bush's fault? No. I would find more fault with the local authorities than with Bush. The most irritating thing is that the media plays up points because it is in the media's best interests to do so. It raises ratings for them to show suffering and it is within their political agenda to quickly place blame without taking a full accounting of the situation and the response. More people could have been evacuated from the city IF looters were running rampant in the first few days of the Hurricane. I call that a people issue because the lootings were of food for starving children, but of clothes, electronics, jewelry and other unedibles by people who are the lowest common denominator--base criminals who prey on others misfortune. Some people find fault with Bush replying "what were the problems?" to Nancy Pelosi when she said there problems with the evacuation. I noticed that her reply was that Bush was oblivious. I noticed that she didn't clearly detail and outline the failings and how they could have been better handled. It's not in Ms. Pelosi's political agenda. I would have no respect for a president who instantly just said things were totally bad when there may have been reasons and conditions outside of the federal government's control. Also, there may have been things that went right. You'll notice that the problem area was mostly New Orleans, and that things went more smoothly in other areas. All I say is that at this time we should first make sure that things are being fixed, then do a careful audit of what did go wrong and why. Let's drop the political agendas and actually care about doing what is right and what will make future situations better. Don't fall into the trap of buying hook, line and sinker political propoganda that is spewed by those who have something to gain from getting the public to buy a certain lie. Personally, I would doubt most of the things that the mayor of New Orleans has to say because he is so quick to foist blame on others without taking a modicum of reponsibility himself.
Friday, September 9, 2005 -- EveningGoogle has hired Vint Cerf who was the founding father of ARPANET which was the precursor of the Internet.
Thursday, September 8, 2005 -- MorningThere is still a controversy over the cause of death of Yasser Arafat. From the information that has been released, it is still not clear what brought about the stroke that lead to his death. The rumors that the PA has been propogating is that Arafat died from AIDS or poison that was administered by the Israelis. I'm not sure how they surmised that happened, but there you have it. Of course, the agenda of the PA is to foster hatred for the Israelis since the unspoken goal (unspoken to the foreign media, but blatant with local media) is the removal of Israel. There is a call for Arafat's medical records to be released, but it will be used for whatever agenda the PA has. Even if the information is not conclusive, they will say that is conclusive of their suspicions.
In the hopes of limiting piracy, Harry Potter books are going to be available as downloads from iTunes. All six books will be available in audio format. JK Rowling made the decision after hearing that books were available in audio format from E-Bay.
This will be good news for all of us. The sliding scale of youth has moved to encompass all of us who are under 49 years of age! Basically this means that the amount of time that you are considered middle aged is shrinking because old age still starts at 65. The information was obtained from a survey were people were supposed to say what is considered young and what is old. I think that with the way things have changed with our society, people are more active until later periods in life, and that helps them both look and feel younger than in the past. When you look at pictures of folks in their 30s from the early 19th century you would think they were much older. Before you know it, youth will be extended to 60, and old age won't begin until 75.
Friday, September 2, 2005 -- EveningI have another pet peeve from the recent events with the flooding of New Orleans. This one is the use of the word refugee in describing the people who are evacuating New Orleans. In fact, I just saw a caption on a photo on FOXNews that describes a person physically still in New Orleans as a refugee. When I think of refugee, I think of someone who has left their country for political reasons or because they were frightened for their safety. I think of these people as evacuees--like the children in Britain who were evacuated from London for a few years for their own safety. In fact, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agrees with the definition. I think that part of the problem with the situation is the media. They go into these areas to record the event, but do nothing to help the people. They knew folks didn't have supplies, but I didn't see any of them trying to do anything about it. Also, I didn't see the media folks helping anyone out of the water. They would be there waiting to question the person, but I seldom if ever saw a finger lifted to aide anyone. The only person that I saw doing anything was Geraldo Rivera who went up in some helicopters and helped in getting people out. Anyway, getting back to my pet peeve, lets call the people evacuees. I know the goal of the media is to create imagines in people's minds and that refugee is a politically charged word, but it really annoys me because it is not being used appropriately.
The other thing that is annoying me is the number of complaints saying that the federal government didn't react quickly enough. I would say that whenever the federal government does anything, it is done at a snail's pace, and obviously it is going to take a few days to coordinate troups and supplies because they just don't casually have such things ready at hand. If anything, I would place more of the blame on the city government for never anticipating a problem when they should have, and the state government for not having some supplies close at hand. The problem here though is that the city was under sea level and was built in such a way to doom it. You can't say, I built my house on the beach on low tide, and when high tide came in, it got flooded. Now we have to get the people out of there, but then we have to decide what was wrong (and there was plenty) and not duplicate it. Maybe they won't build low price housing right beside the levees that will leave the poorest people who will be unable to leave the first victims if something goes wrong. Maybe the city will plan a better way to evacuate when the next hurricane comes. In this case, it wasn't a matter of IF, but a matter of WHEN, and the officials in New Orleans were asleep at the wheel, living in a complacent fairy tale thinking it wouldn't happen to them.
Friday, September 2, 2005 -- AfternoonAn interesting artifact was found at the Temple Mount recently. The artifact is a cross shaped bronze pendant with a hammer, nails, and pincers on one side, and on the other, a sun, an altar, and the Holy Grail on a crown of thorns. Some are saying that the artifact is linked to the Da Vinci Code. The only comment that I have to make about that is that the Da Vinci Code is fiction, regardless of how much folks would like it not to be.
Thursday, September 1, 2005 -- AfternoonI have to admit that I have a pet peeve. What is it? It's how the newscasters and others are referring to the recent devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. First we have the mayor of Biloxi referring to the event as "our tsunami. Okay. Both events do have something to do with water flooding an area. The only difference would be that at least with a hurricane, people get enough advance notice so they can evacuate the area, and take fate in their own hands if they choose to stay. Then we have the governor of Mississippi, Haley Barbour, likening the devastation to Hiroshima. "I can only imagine this is what Hiroshima looked like 60 years ago," Barbour gibbered. Considering that Hiroshima's devastation was caused by man, and everyone near the area was either killed instantly or wound up suffering severe burns and cancer, I can see where someone might consider the damage done by a hurricane the same as that from dropping a nuke on a city. Others, including the President, compare the hurricane to the attacks on 9/11. Similarity? Buildings destroyed, people dead. Using that analogy the residental apartment fire is "9/11". This is really getting on my nerves. I don't mean to diminish what has happened in New Orleans or Biloxi. The devastation is great, and there has been the loss of many lives. Recovery is going to take some time. I am annoyed and disgusted with the comparisons to other events that really have nothing to do with the event at hand. Yes, it is awful, but it isn't Armageddon. Let's call it a hurricane. Let's say that New Orleans was ill-prepared for something that they should have handled much better. There have been threats of strong hurricanes in the area before. Just because the hurricanes haven't hit the area doesn't mean that someone shouldn't have thought of what to do if the levees give way, and that someone shouldn't have come up with some sort of worst case scenario of what if..and planned accordingly for evacuation, notification systens, and emergency supplies. I have heard non-stop since 9/11 how communities are planning evacuation and emergency response plans for their cities. Obviously New Orleans didn't make any plans for something happening to their levees with through terrorist act or the more likely natural disaster. Let's stop trying to come up with analogies for the devastation of New Orleans, and let it stand as what it is instead of trying to make it something that it isn't. Donate to the American Red Cross to help the victims. Contact your local government to see if they do have a viable worst care scenario plan for catastrophic emergency. And please, stop the analogies!
The other thing that gets to me is that Congress is coming back to pass emergency legislation for the victims of Katrina. My question is why does emergency legislation have to be passed? Why don't we already have something on the books to handle such situations? This is not the first time a hurricane has hit our shores. Granted it is the first time that a whole major city has been devastated, but still you would think there were already be something on the books to take care of the victims. The fact that it isn't means that assistance is slowed down. It is at times like this that you realize that all the plans and discussions about response to disasters has obviously not amounted to much. I'm sorry to say that things still won't change, and that's the thing that we really do need to address.
Thursday, September 1, 2005 -- MorningI have just been watching the news this morning, and there are reports that shots are being fired from the Superdome in New Orleans at helicopters that are coming in to help evacuate people. At this point, evacuations are halted. For one, I don't know how people have guns in the Superdome because supposedly they were taken through metal detectors before being allowed to enter the Superdome. Perhaps it was someone just outside the Superdome. For two, why would you shoot at something that is coming to rescue you. It seems that things have really gotten out of hand in New Orleans. I could understand if people were breaking into grocery stores to get food. After all, if I were there with my child, and there was no prospect of getting food or water, I would break into a closed grocery store to get something for me and my child. However, these people aren't looting grocery stores. They are looting other places and taking items like clothing, jewelry, televisions, and guns. Hospital vehicles are being held up by gun point, and some hospitals are requesting evacuations because they don't feel that it is a safe atmosphere from gangs roaming the streets. The police and rescue teams have had to stop rescuing people and collecting the dead to deal with hooligans that are marauding the streets. This says something about the city of New Orleans because some looting can be explained, especially of food. But these people are really acting viciously, and it really does make you what crime was like in the city before the hurricane. It appears that it wasn't that great of a place with crime rates about the national average.
It appears that others are questiioning the rising prices of gasoline. The prices for gasoline jumped immediately, as soon as Katrina hit. Now the prices are spiraling out of control, even though President Bush has released oil from the emergency reserves. How can you explain that? Supposedly, gas stations are NOT supposed to raise their prices until they get a new shipment of gasoline. The thought is that if you have a tankload of gas, you paid a certain price for it, and raising the cost per gallon on that means that you are just gouging the consumer and trying to make a profit off of an emergency situation. Well, it looks like oil companies and gas stations are doing just that across the country. If you notice any suspicious price changes at your local gas station, the DOE wants to know. Fill out the form to report price gouging and stop this atrocious behavior. As my boyfriend was saying yesterday, it's amazing that the costs leapfrog as soon as the Hurricane hits, but it takes months for it to come down after oil is released? How can the injury be felt so quickly and the fix take so incredibly long to help? It's because of price gouging! Let's fight back and not except this behavior!
Wednesday, August 31, 2005 -- AfternoonPeople were gathering around Kensington Palace today to mark the eigth anniversary of the death of Princess Diana. They also did some Camilla bashing. They should really get over the Camilla thing. After all, I think that Diana herself got over it. It was hurtful at the time to know that Charles married her while in love with Camilla, but I'm sure that Diana realized that it was not worth her energy to fixate on it. Life does go on.
Wednesday, August 31, 2005 -- MorningThe big news today is the devastation of New Orleans. The majority of damage at this point is being caused by the levees that are giving way. Basically the city of New Orleans is 20 feet below sea level, and is right on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain. So with the levees breaking 80% of New Orleans wound up underwater. The problem now is for the levees to be plugged up to stop the damage, and no one seems to know what to do. Everyone has been told to evacuate New Orleans and they might not be able to get back for some time. All this devastation hasn't stopped the looters. The people are acting like animals breaking into stores and grabbing as many things as they can. People are wading through the flood waters to break into stores and grabbing everything that they can. Meanwhile the police are there and totally unable to control them. The people are really acting like animals, and a state of martial law has been declared in New Orleans. Personally, I think that it is a shame that people are doing things like this so that instead of putting resources towards helping people who are trapped, collecting the dead, and trying to rebuild, they are forced to police the streets. The military and police forces in the area need to be armed and the word needs to be put out that if you are going to act like an animal, you will be treated like an animal. Somehow they have to get control of the situation.
The other concern with Katrina is with oil production. Initially I was hearing on the news that the offshore oil refineries had minimal damage. Well, now there is a big concern because we get a good portion of our oil from the gulf, and with those refineries closed, oil prices are skyrocketing. Do we know for sure that the refineries are not able to continue? From what is reported from Venezuela's largest oil company that has a refinery in the Gulf with Exxon/Mobile is that the refinery is fine and they are just waiting for the government to lift the storm warning that is preventing them from resuming work. I really hate to say this, but I don't trust the government OR the oil companies. I really hate to say that I am thinking that the oil companies will take advantage of the situation to raise oil prices to make money. Is that cynical of me? It does make you wonder when you hear that the offshore sites are fine and just not pumping because they don't have the go ahead.
Apple is has a big news release scheduled for next week, but someone has managed to find out what the announcement will be. It appears that Apple in coordination with Motorola will be releasing a cell phone that also plays iTunes. The service provider will be Cingular. The phone should be like the iPod Shuffle and should be able to store 512 MB to 1 GB of songs.
Monday, August 29, 2005 -- MorningHurricane Katrina is now lashing the Mississippi area. Originally, it was thought that Katrina would really hit New Orleans, but it moved further east. New Orleans is getting hit though. Katrina is listed as a category 4 hurricane and that means that the speed of winds associated with the hurricane is between 131 to 155 miles per hour. It seems that the eye of the Hurricane is two hours from landfall (at 9 am EDT), and is 40 miles southeast of New Orleans. Of course, you can never tell how the winds will go. I have been watching FOXNews and I have to admit that I really wonder at how foolhardy the newscasters are because they are out in the storm! They have this one guy (Steve Harrigan) in Mississippi, and he can barely stand and pieces of roof are flying past him, and the bozo is still out there giving his broadcast. Fortunately the weather guy just called him in because it is extremely dangerous. Meanwhile in New Orleans, they were evacuating folks who could not leave the city into the Superdome. Well, it seems that the Superdome is leaking and they are not sure about the integrity of the roof. Also, the building is without electricity and has been on generator power which is not able to power the air conditioner. We should be seeing rain from Katrina on Wednesday here in Pittsburgh, but we are very lucky to be so far inland to not experience the brunt of the storm.
Thursday, August 25, 2005 -- MorningNow this story really gets to me. There is a woman who is upset that her doctor, Dr. Terry Bennett, told her that she was obese and needed to go on a diet in order to ensure a longer life and better health. Why was the woman offended? How dare the doctor call her obese just because she is! Why it hurt her fragile little feelings to be called fat! Yep. It's not that the woman wasn't fat, and was being told that she was. She was fat, and the doctor--who is supposed to tell you what your health problems are and how to deal with them--told her that she had a weight problem and needed to lose weight. Maybe he could have sugar coated it, and been more considerate of her fragile feelings. The thing is that sometimes unless you are blunt, people don't take you seriously. The doctor's goal was to get the woman to wake up and lose weight. When the doctor found out that the woman was offended, he wrote a letter of apology, but that was not good enough. The woman filed a complaint with the New Hampshire Board of Medicine. The Board then forwarded the matter to the Attorney General's office. The doctor was told to attend a medical education course and to say that he made a mistake in telling the woman she was obese and needed to lose weight. The doctor refused because the woman is obese and should lose weight. Now the doctor could lose his license to practice medicine in the state. This woman may not like being called obese. She may think that she is not obese. However that won't change the fact that medically she is obese. I don't think that the Attorney General of New Hampshire should be castigating a doctor from doing what should be his job. Word to the wise: if you don't like what your doctor has to say--even if it's true, turn him into the state medical board and Attorney General.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005 -- AfternoonGoogle is expanding its horizons. Today Google released Google Talk. Finally, Google is joining the IM (instant messenger) group. The softwware is in beta form, and doesn't have all the bells and whistles that one gets with MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger and AIM. Google like the Yahoo! Messenger offers a voice call option too. Currently, only folks who have gmail accounts can use Google Talk, and the contacts list is populated by all the contacts that show up in your gmail addressbook. Some of those contacts may have gmail, some may not. Those who don't appear in Google Talk, but you won't be able to instant message that person until he/she creates a gmail account. The things that I don't like about Google Talk is that everyone in your gmail contacts shows up and anyone that you emailed, even once, is in your gmail contacts. The other thing that I don't like is that anyone can talk to you who has Google Talk. You can block the person, but I like the way MSN works where you can selectively add people to your contacts list. Right now, Google Talk isn't quite there for those of us who have been using a variety of instant messengers for years. The folks at Google do have a grander scheme though. They have been creating a suite of tools to someday make an Internet operating system. The question is will they succeed before the mammoth that is Microsoft cuts off Google's air supply?
Not to be outdone, Yahoo! has joined with verizon to offer high speed Internet via dialup access. For $14.95 a month, the user will be able to download at 768 kb/sec while uploading at 128 kb/sec. You have to commit to a one year contract, however.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005 -- MorningIt seems that Garry Kasparov is having problems entering Russia. It seems that there is some problem with his passport according to Russian authorities. However, the real problem is that Kasparov has taken on a more political role in the country and has been openly criticising Vladmir Putin.
Amazon has a plan to make short stories from well known authors available for download for $.49. The plan is to get the works of the authors out to a mass audience, and since digital downloads are relatively inexpensive for Amazon, it's an opportunity to make money while giving the consumer a low price. Look for your favorite author at Amazon Shorts.
Monday, August 22, 2005 -- Early AfternoonThere is a local controversy with the police and an anti-war protest group. The group of protesters were walking down Forbes Avenue in Oakland and were gathering to protest outside of a recruiting office. According to some of the news accounts that I saw yesterday, one of the protesters wanted to shut down the recruiting office because it is "preying" on young people. Well, in answer to that, the last that I heard, the military is a volunteer one so I'm not sure how the recruiting office is preying on people. It's not like they grab people on the street and force them into the office and make them sign up. Anyway, the police were called to the scene when one of the protesters grabbed the video camera of a news crew that was covering the protest. The protest group now wants the police investigated for excessive force because the police used pepper spray and Tasers to control the crowd. The police were trying to arrest the person responsible for assaulting the camera person when others in the group tried to stop the arrest. One woman was also bitten by a police dog on the scene, and that was actually on the news last night. The woman was standing close to the barking police dog, and the dog just lunged forward abit and nipped the woman in the back of her left leg. From what I saw of the film, it wasn't that the dog was turned on the woman. She was just standing too close to the dog, and an accident happened. The anti-war protesters don't want to hear accident though. They are sure that they were in the right in all of their actions. We all have a right to peaceful assembly, but what irks me about some of these groups is when they try to prevent others from going about their business. This particular protest group did not stay on the sidewalk, but also went into the street causing a traffic obstruction. In order to obstruct traffic, you have to have a permit. The group did not have this permit and did not want to move out of the street. As you might be able to tell from the tone of my comments, I'm really against these protesters. For one, I'm not "anti-war" and think that the military serves a purpose in our lives outside of war. It helps young men and women who may not be college material at this particular point in their life get some life and work experience. Once out of the military, they would be able to attend college with veteran's benefits. It even ticks me off that people are still referring to the Iraq situation as a war. It was a war at one point. Right now it is a peace keeping/government building mission. We can't just remove all of our troups out of Iraq right now because there is no structure there to keep the country stablized. Even with the help of outside forces, there are still terrorist attacks that no one seems able to control. The other issue that I have with the anti-war group is the fact that they go around with black bandanas covering their faces. Either they are ashamed of their position and don't want others to know who they are, or they want to perpetrate acts of violence and get away with because of their disguise. Those are the only two options that I can think of and neither is an honorable one. I have no respect for these types of groups. That doesn't mean that they should not be allowed the right to a peaceful protest. It just seems that these folks didn't want a peaceful protest and resorted to acting like the hooligans that they are.
Saturday, August 20, 2005 -- AfternoonHamas is still vowing to continue terror attacks against Israel. Mahmoud Abbas is under international pressure to control the terror groups like Hamas because it doesn't look good to say that you want to have a stable country that is willing to have peace while terrorist groups are allowed to run rampant through said country. What just strikes me as ironic is a comment that is made in the news story. "Abbas, who is under intense international pressure to disarm militant groups, has been urging them not to flaunt their weapons in public." So Abbas as we can see is not really trying to disarm anyone. Keep your weapons--just don't flaunt them in public so everyone knows that you have them. I would imagine that the goal here is to paint a rosy picture while behind the scenes it's still business as usual. What I don't understand is why are so many in the international community blind to this behavior? One thing that Abbas has done is to set January 25 as the long awaited legislative election day. Hamas will have candidates in the election, and are claiming that their terror campaign removed Israel from Gaza in the hopes that it will garner votes.
The University of Pittsburgh has moved up in the ratings that the US News and World Report puts out on colleges and universities. Pitt is now 39th on the Top 50 Public Universities and 59th on the overall list.
Thursday, August 18, 2005 -- Late AfternoonI have been reading the Case for Israel by Alan Dershowitz for the past week. It is a very good book, and does a nice job of both identifying the common misconceptions about Israel and providing the evidence that proves those claims wrong. As the settlers are evaluated from Gaza, this is a good time to read more about Israel and get an understanding of the issues that the country faces. I read the following interview with Binyamin Netanyahu were he details his concern about the safety of Israel with the evacuation of Gaza. As he states, 300 million Israeli dollars have been poured into the western Negev. This is the area of the country that abutts the Gaza. In the past, security issues weren't as big of a concern in the area because the Israeli forces were in Gaza and were able to staunch attacks to deeper areas of Israel. Now as Netanyahu says, the front has just moved back, and areas that weren't vulnerable to attack are. The proof will be in the eating of the pudding. We will have to see what happens in Gaza over the next few months.
Thursday, August 18, 2005 -- AfternoonIt seems that big butts are in. Ever since Jennifer Lopez flaunted her big butt, we have been inundated with images of big butts all over the place. As the Madison advertisers say, women in general tend to be larger sized in the real world, so to get some big butts in the media is just realistic. Geeze, I guess that I need to pull out the padded underwear!
Wednesday, August 17, 2005 -- Early AfternoonThe big news today has been the forced evacuations from the Gaza Strip. The deadline for evacation was set for 11 pm EDT last night. Since then Israelis soldiers have gone into the areas to make the settlers who are still in their houses, pack up and leave. For the most part, the settlers have gone without problems. There have been instances of screaming and refusing to leave, but in the end, the packing begins and the people leave. The ones who are the most entrenched at this point are the people who have come into the area who aren't settlers and who are protesting the evacuation. These people aren't leaving as easily and can cause the process to be held up. The images that are being shown are television are heartbreaking with both settlers and soldiers crying. As the officials explain, this is a process that was agreed to so that peace can be made with the Palestinians. Meanwhile the settlers are saying that all it means is that the front that the Palestinians fight from moves closer to the main body of Israel. An Israeli settler on the West Bank grabbed a gun from a soldier and killed three Palestinians. The settler was a driver who was transporting two of the Palestinians in his car to an industrial work area. He then ran into the industrial area and killed another person while injuring three more. The settler was captured and turned over to the police station.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005 -- Early AfternoonThe Gaza pull-out is not going well. There have been clashes between the settlers and the soldiers, and it is just supposed to get worse. Emotions are running high, and that is always a dangerous situation. As expected, Hamas is claiming that this is a victory for terrorism and that the terrorism will continue until the prime objective of regaining all of the land, including all of Israel, is accomplished.
Monday, August 15, 2005 -- AfternoonToday is Princess Anne's 55th birthday.
Monday, August 15, 2005 -- MorningThere is controversy in the Squirrel Hill area. It seems that the Schenley Park is going to have to relocate a maintenance shed that houses 16 employees, two pickup trucks, two dump trucks and a number of tractors that are currently being kept near Phipps Conservatory. The new location proposed is Prospect Drive which is known locally as "Gay Lane". The area is a nice location, and I have walked there in the past because it is close to where I live. It's a short lane that ends or loops around in a cul-de-sac. Well, the local gay community doesn't want the lane used because it will put a crimp into the activity that goes on in the lane. I know that when I have walked there during the day time it was not a welcome atmosphere--for someone who wasn't gay. The men would give you looks as if questioning why you are there, and heaven forbid that you were a man walking through there. I would walk through with some male friends and cars would slow down to check them out. One time we even saw a man sunbathing in the nude abit away from the road. Even though the lane is close to my house, I stopped walking there because I felt so uncomfortable and unwanted. Just as it is not appropriate for heterosexuals to be outside in the park openly having and propositioning for sex, it is also inappropriate for homosexuals. I don't think that the argument that the gay community has that the lane should not be used for the maintenance shed because it will drive such action out of the public park. Such action should not be taking place in a public park anyway. It would be nice to have the lane back for the general public as opposed to one population. Some folks who live on Pocussett Drive are also concerned about the maintenance shed because more truck traffic may be on Pocussett because another currently unused lane leading from Prospect to Pocussett may be opened.
Saturday, August 13, 2005 -- Early AfternoonThe Gaza pull-out will start on Monday. I have my opinion of how I feel about the situation. I am quite disheartened to hear that Hamas and other groups are saying that acts of terror will continue after the pull-out. After all the terror groups want the destruction of all of Israel, not a two state solution. It is what I expected not only to hear, but to see evidence of as time passes. That doesn't mean that it makes the news any easier to hear. You hope that both sides will want peace, but that doesn't appear to be the case. When will it be the case is the question that I don't think anyone can answer.
Saturday, August 13, 2005 -- MorningGoogle has put its plan to digitize the books of several university libraries on hold due to claims that the move violates copyright laws. Google wants to make the books accessible to everyone, instead of just the smaller number of individuals who have access to the libraries. Also the promise of being able to search through a book for a snippet of information will be easier if the book is available in an electronic format. However, copyright laws should be observed. I'm sure that Google will find a way around the road block. The libraries that were being digitized were Stanford, Harvard, Michigan University, and the New York Public Library. The only library that Google should not have trouble with is Oxford's library because only books that are no longer in copyright are being digitized there.
Sunday, August 7, 2005 -- MorningBinyamin Netanyahu left his position as finance minister in the Israeli government over the Gaza pullout that is starting today. Netanyahu has given indication in the past that he wasn't happy with the pullout. I have to admit that I have been conflicted about the pullout. Basically what is happening is that the Sharon has said that all settlements will be dismantled and abandoned in the Gaza Strip. All settlers are being given the opportunity and money to relocate into another part of Israel. If they don't willing more out before the deadline, the settlers will be forceably removed by the Israeli army, and they will receive no financial compensation. Now the settlers don't want to relocate because they feel that the area is theirs, and they have built up a social community that they don't want to lose. The government on the other hand wants to make a move towards piece by giving the Palenstinian Authority (PA) the land in the hopes that this will lead to fewer terror attacks. What some on the government's side feel, Netanyahu and Natan Sharansky in particular, is that the government should not be giving up the terroritory without some concessions on the side of the PA. Personally, I have been abit conflicted over the pullout. I agree that Gaza should be given up because the liability of safeguarding the lives of the settlers from terrorist attacks is huge. However, I do question doing so without getting some sort of agreement or offer from the PA. I understand that Arik Sharon is trying to show that his urge for peace is a strong one and that he is willing to accept a two state solution. My question is that I don't believe that the want for peace is a strong on the side of the PA. The PA has been notorious for supporting the acts of terror either directly or indirectly due to inaction on tracking down and punishing the terrorists. If you pull out without concessions, the PA and the terrorist groups will see this as a win for terror, and will just continue such actions until they achieve their true goal which is the annihilation of the state of Israel.
Thursday, August 4, 2005 -- MorningDavid Beckham has yet another tattoo on his body. This time he has his whole left forearm tattooed with a phrase in Hebrew from the Old Testatment. The phrase is: "I am for my beloved, and my beloved is for me, who grazes sheep in rose-like pastures." It's supposed to be for his wife, Victoria, and she loved it so much she is having a smaller version tattooed on the back of her neck. Why Hebrew? Because Beckham has become a follower of Kabbalah like Madonna. This whole fad of following Kabbalah is becoming annoying, and it is hiliarious seeing these folks following a Jewish philosophy tattooing their bodies which is contrary to the Jewish faith. Celebrities!
Monday, July 25, 2005 -- MorningSo many things get sold on E-Bay. Today there are two items that are in the news. The first item Moshe Dayan's eyepatch. It seems that the eye patch was given to his bodyguard just minutes after Dayan died in 1981. The eye patch is now in the hands of an Israeli art dealer company, Pasarel, who is also selling a Smith & Wesson revolver that was presented to Dayan while he was Israeli Minister of Defense. The revolver is engraved with Dayan's signature. Since guns can't be sold on E-Bay, it is available only through the dealer. The asking price for the eye patch is $75,000, and so far, there are no bids on the item. The second item for sale is David Ben-Gurion's Hanukkiyah which is a mennorah that is specifically used for Hanukkah. The unique thing about the Hanukkiyah is that it is made from bullet cartridges. The hanukkiyah was made in 1948 and was in honor of Ben-Gurion visiting the Ayalon Institute, a bullet institute. is that it The item is also being sold by Pasarel. The asking price for the Hanukkiyah is $12,500.
The British government has come up with a plan to promote a love of reading among children. the plan is to give books, crayons, and writing paper to children up to the age of 4. Bags of the material will be given to the children based on age, and will be distributed at libraries, health clinics and nurseries.
Thursday, July 21, 2005 -- MorningJames Doohan who played Scotty on the original Star Trek television series, died yesterday at the age of 85. The cause of death is pneumonia and Alzheimer's Disease. It seems that the plan is to send Doohan's ashes into space. My favorite comment that Scotty made in the Star Trek movies, I believe, was that if you thought you could fix a problem in 1 hour, say that you could fix it in 2 hours. That way if something goes wrong, and it takes longer, you don't look bad, and if you do finish in one hour, you look like a genius.
Monday, July 18, 2005 -- EveningI have to admit that I love our DVR. I'm always finding shows to record and watch. Well, Lifetime channel did a survey and they found that 48% of married women made the decision to buy a DVR and 55% say they understand how it works better than the husbands. I would have to say that it was a joint decision on both of our parts, but most of the shows that get recorded are the ones that I want to watch. 99% of those surveyed fast forward through the commercials with 94% saying they recognize brands, and 76% say they stop fast forwarding to watch brands that catch their eye. I have to admit that I do the same. I fast forward, but you can obviously see something. What I do if I see something that I want to get more information about, I might even rewind and watch the whole commercial. So at least with women, fast forwarding does not mean that the advertizers are missing out on getting their message across.
Sunday, July 17, 2005 -- MorningToday is Camilla's 58th birthday, and in honor of the event, she is being given her own coat of arms. The colors are blue, red and gold, and combines the coat of arms of her father and Prince Charles. On the left of the arms is a lion from the Prince's arms, and on the right is a blue boar from her father's arms.
Saturday, July 16, 2005 -- MorningArnold Schwarzenegger has been making the news because of the fact that he has made deals with Muscle and Fitness and Flex magazines. People see this as a conflict of interest because of the fact that Arnold vetoed a bill in California that would have regulated the use of performance-enhancing drugs in high schools. Because Arnold is the executive editor of the two magazines mentioned here which rely heavily on advertising dollars from nutrional and performance supplements, folks thought that was why he vetoed the bill. Personally, I would say that it probably has more to do with the fact that Arnold used steroids himself in his professional career, and probably thinks that there is a way to use them properly. The fact is that Arnold has had a professional relationship with Joe Weider, the main moving power behind the two magazines and Weider Publications, since the 1970s. I don't find the issue as disturbing as others do because, guess what, I knew that Arnold was a bodybuilder from way back, and therefore would have certain opinions about certain topics (dealing with exercise and supplements). Anyway, Arnold is now ending his deal with the magazines.
Some biblical scroll fragments have been found in the Judean Desert in Israel. It seems that a Bedouin found the fragments and was offered $20,000 dollars for them. He wanted to make sure he wasn't being ripped off, so he arranged to have them examined by someone who knew their worth. The news about this is that archaeologists have been assuming for a while now that there wasn't anything worth finding because nothing was being found. The problem has probably been that folks just weren't looking in the right area. The scroll fragments are estimated to be around 2000 years old.
Friday, July 15, 2005 -- MorningThis is a bad weekend to be house bound! The Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix starts today. This is an annual weekend long event that takes place in Schenley Park. I am going to send my boyfriend out as roving reporter so he can take some pictures that I can post here. The Squirrel Hill Happening is also this weekend. Local businesses have sells and sidewalk stands all weekend. Most of the activity will take place on Forbes Ave. Also, tonight at midnight is the Harry Potter release. Again, my boyfriend will be trekking up to the local Barnes and Noble to get my copy at midnight. My boyfriend deserves kudos for being my eyes, ears and legs for these events, and for all the hard work he has done with cooking, cleaning and taking care of me while I recuperate from the bunionectomy. I hope that I can lessen his burden after my doctor's visit on Monday, and that I will be able to use my foot or heel for walking. One legged mobility is limiting.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005 -- MorningThere is a new David Beckham ad for Pepsi. The ad was filmed last year, and was held back because of the tsunami disaster. You can see the ad here. It is quite nice. Basically, David Beckham is on a tropical island with Ronaldinho and some other soccer players and they begin playing soccer on the beach. Some surfers come on to the beach, and kick the ball out into the ocean, pointing to a sign that says "Surfers Only". Beckham and crew jump onto some surf boards and begin an amazing filmed game of soccer in the ocean, leaping off their boards to make amazing kicks. It's amazing film editing and photography. Then one of the guys on the beach, Thierry Henry, calls their attention to the fact that a surfer is going to take a drink from their Pepsi cooler. Beckham kicks the ball back to the beach, where it hits a coconut that falls onto the cooler lid, closing it before the surfer can get to the drink. On the lid, it says, "Players Only". Very nice ad, and the music was really fitting for the ad. It was Misirlou by Dick Dale and the Del-Tones. It's too bad we don't see these ads in the US.
Prince Albert of Monaco is to formally take the throne to Monaco today. Something more formal with foreign heads of state will be held in November, but the celebrations marking his ascension to the throne are today. That's not the only news about Albert. It seems that yesterday Albert acknowledged his two year old son with the flight attendant, and also said "I know there are other people who have nearly the same cases." He didn't say what he meant by that, but obviously there are other illegitimate children out there. This is abit surprising because the common rumor about Albert was that he was gay. Obviously that isn't the case!
Wednesday, July 6, 2005 -- AfternoonLondon won the right to the 2012 Summer Olympics this morning. The decision was between Paris and London, and London won. This has to be great for the Londoners. The Parisians weren't very happy, and played the poor sport by booing the film of the Londoners celebrating. I'm glad that it went to London. It's good to give the French a good kick in the pants and let them know that they may think they are the best, but the rest of us just don't agree.
A local Steelers fan died after a long illness. He died at the age of 55 of prostate cancer, and he and his family made plans for a Steeler funeral for him. They put him in a recliner, dressed him in his favorite Steelers outfit, had a beer and cigarettes for him, and Steeler highlights on a large screen tv. It was touching for his family. I always used to tell people that for my funeral, I wanted everyone to wear orange, and I wanted comedy routines playing instead of sad music. Since we have this open casket viewing thing in America, I wanted someone to rig a device under me so that midway through the viewing, I would pop up out of the casket and give everyone a good scare. What does that say ab
Tuesday, July 5, 2005 -- EveningPrince Albert of Monaco has finally acknowledged his illegitimate two year old son. The announcement should happen on Thursday which will be the day after the end of the official mourning period for Prince Rainier. The son, Alexander, will be able to inherit his father's money, but he will not ascend to the throne. Why? Because Monaco's constitution was amended in April 2002 so only "direct and legitimate" offspring could run the country. If Albert dies without any legitimate children, his sister Caroline and her kids would rule. I don't know how anyone could doubt that the child is Albert's. He looks just like Albert as a baby, only black skinned.
Meanwhile Prince William is on his first official royal tour. He is impressing folks with being very much his mother's son. He has been taking time to talk to people, touching them, and bending down to hug little kids. The last time William was in New Zealand was when he was 9 months old and crawled around on a blanket with Diana and Charles beaming at him.
Tuesday, July 5, 2005 -- AfternoonAnother news story was about Jacques Chirac blasting British food. According to Chirac, the food is really horrible--second only to Finnish food. The real controversy was the comment that you couldn't trust someone who had such awful food. Chirac made the comments to Putin and Schroeder as they all laughed.
Friday, July 1, 2005 -- EveningThe story about the guy who was recently elected president in Iran has me abit irritated, but probably not for the reasons that you might think. The story is that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad played an important role in the 1979 hostage situation at the US embassy in Iran. Some of the hostages say that they recognize him, and three acknowledged leaders who were involved in the hostage taking deny that he was involved. According to some, the Iranians who are denying the charges against Ahmadinejad now are on the political side opposing Ahmadinejad so they would have no reason defend him. So where's the news? It seems that a current cabinet member is an acknowledged participant in the 1979 situation. The reason I understand that so many are up in arms over the fact that someone who was opposed to Americans in 1979 should not be leader of his country. This is interesting because according to the same folks we were supposed to acknowledge Yasser Arafat as a responsible leader of the Palestinians. It's interesting that someone like Arafat who throughout his adult live promoted violence against Jews, Israelis and others and who was the head of the PLO is seen as someone with whom the US and the World could deal. Not only that, Arafat wins the Noble Peace prize for his role in promoting a peaceful solution between the Israelis and the Palestinians. So acts of murder and terror against children and civilians is a-okay, but taking an embassy hostage is not? I think this just goes to show you that it's all a matter of perception and political bias. Should Ahmadinejad be President of Iran? Sure. There is no confirmation that he was a hostage taker or terrorist of any kind. The bigger concern about Iran is its development of nuclear weapons. When a country has strong fundamentalist views that call for the annihilation of others we have to have concern. Of course, some would say that the US falls into that catagory too, but it doesn't. As soon as we start threatening other people with nukes just because they are there, then I'll do some revision of my thoughts about the American government.
Friday, July 1, 2005 -- AfternoonSandra Day O'Connor has announced her retirement and this is causing a great deal of commentary and concern. Justice O'Connor is 75 years old, and there has been talk for the past five years that she has been considering slowing down the pace of her life. The controversy arises because although Justice O'Connor was nominated to the Court as a conservative, she has been known for taking more moderate stances on subjects such as the abortion issue. Liberals are now worried that the court will take a more conservative stance if a conservative replacement is nominated. So the question that I ask is if it is okay for the court to have a more liberal stance? Shouldn't judgements be based on the law, and not on political viewpoint? Also, just because a justice was nominiated by a president for the justices viewpoint, it doesn't mean that once in office the justice will continue with that viewpoint. One only has to look at Harry Blackmun who was nominated by Nixon because of his conservative viewpoints. Blackmun turned out to be quite a liberal justice. When reviewing the qualifications, the President and Senate should look at the person's interpretation of law be paramount, and let petty biases on both sides go.
Thursday, June 30, 2005 -- AfternoonAn interesting thing to note is that men tend to overestimate normal penis size. It seems that guys tend to want larger penises because they think that what they have is smaller than normal. A Canadian researcher though found that of 92 men that he studied while in Cairo, 92 complained of having a smaller than normal penis. Meanwhile every single one of them was normal. Basically what they did is tell the guys what was normal size and then measured the penis and found they all fell in the normal catagory. This reminds me of a story that I heard a few years ago. A friend was walking with a woman who tripped on uneven pavement. She said that her judgment of size was off, and it was from years of being told that this (and she held her fingers apart 2 inches) was 7 inches. I suppose that perceptions can go both ways.
Wednesday, June 29, 2005 -- EveningYou have to feel sorry for Robert Kraft. He showed the 2005 Super Bowl ring to Vladimir Putin after a meeting that some American businessmen had with the Russian leader in St. Petersburg. Putin tried on the ring, then put it in his pocket and walked out. It's not clear whether Kraft intended to give the ring to Putin, but the Russians are saying that it was a gift. Poor Kraft! It appears the ring is valued at alot more than $15,000.
This is one time when I didn't miss out on a free ice cream deal. Starbucks had an ice cream social today and they were giving out 4 oz. free samples of their ice cream in their stores today only. The ice cream that I got was Java Chip, and it was tasty. The ice cream had a nice coffee taste, and the amount was just right. It gave you a good idea of what the ice cream tasted like without giving too many calories.
Monday, June 27, 2005 -- AfternoonThe Supreme Court has ruled today that sites that encourage file sharing may be held legally responsible for any copyright infringement activity. That's all well and good for places that are located in the US, but since the Internet is not bound to any one country, the sites will just spring up in other locations where US law doesn't impact. I don't have a problem with the ruling because it didn't talk about the technology, but about the copyright laws. We should all know that if someone has copyrighted material that they have purchased that they can't make copies to share with others. We all know that everyone will share things with friends, and if I get a CD and make a copy for a friend, it's going to be near impossible to catch. However, if I make 50 copies and sell them on the street, I am breaking copyright rules and should be arrested. It's no different to have the items on the street or on the Internet. What needs to happen though is that the recording and film industry need to realize that distribution and cost of materials needs to change on their end. We all know that it takes pennies to copy a CD, and the reason that CDs are so overpriced is so the recording companies can fill their pockets. Even the recording artists get screwed for the most part. The only thing that does disturb me about the ruling is that it might not give the studios a heads up to change their ways. Also, I wonder how easy it is going to be to show that a web site is encouraging theft of copyrighted material. The Supreme Court decision is based on Metro-Goldwyn Mayer vs. Grokster. This decision about the Grokster case is in contrast to the 1984 case against Sony where the Supreme Court did not find Sony liable for folks who use their VCRs to make copies of television shows.
Monday, June 27, 2005 -- MorningI forgot to watch or record the show last night, but the Discovery Channel picked the Greatest American last night. The winner, as selected by the viewers, was Ronald Reagan. He was also my boyfriend's pick for Greatest American. Number 2 was Abraham Lincoln, followed by Martin Luther King, George Washington, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Elvis Presley, Oprah Winfrey, and Franklin D. Roosevelt rounded out the top ten. What I found hard to believe is that the first scientist on the list was Albert Einstein at 14 followed by Thomas Edison at 15. How could a talk show host like Oprah Winfrey possibly rank higher as a great American over someone who has actually accomplished something like Edison. It just goes to show you what is important to the common person. I just would have expected a higher showing for the sciences considering that it was on the Discovery Channel.
Saturday, June 25, 2005 -- EveningThe question is will men become extinct because of the increased feminization of men. Maxim here in the US refers to this syndrome as "mantropy". This comes back to the whole idea of metrosexuality. If you look at men in ads or television, or look at some of the celebrities, you see men who are well-coiffed, stylishly dressed, and in tune with female emotions. I have to admit that's not my idea of a what a man should be. I'm not saying that I would want a stinky, dirty man, but I don't want a guy who wears makeup and is obsessed with his appearance. I want a guy who is going to be able to protect me and can do the strong manly tasks like lifting heavy objects. The one item that would be a dumpable offense for me would be a guy who wants a small, yippy dog. Get a manly dog--a Doberman, Irish wolfhound, a Rottweiler. It seems that I am not alone. Researchers have been doing surveys and they have found that 75% of men queried didn't think that the image of the metrosexual man was very representative of reality. Women also are turned off by the image of feminine men. 905 of the women surveyed preferred men who were low maintenance--meaning that the men should take less time in front of the mirror than the female.
Friday, June 24, 2005 -- AfternoonBritney Spears is going to pose nude. Don't get too excited guys! She is going to do a Demi Moore and appear on the cover of Vanity Fair naked and seven months pregnant. Demi, on the other hand, will just be appearing nude on the cover as a 15 year anniversary of doing it when she was pregnant. I'm telling you! I think that I should get my boyfriend a subscription to Vanity Fair instead of Playboy!
Thursday, June 23, 2005 -- MorningPrince William graduated today. He officially received his hood for obtaining his equivalent of a master's degree in geography. No one else in the Royal Family has managed to get the grade that William did, so he now gets the title of the "brainiest Royal". Now that might not be saying much, but it does show that William does appear to have a good work ethic.
Wednesday, June 22, 2005 -- EveningGeoffrey Palmer of As Time Goes By received an OBE (Order of the British Empire) from the Queen today. This was the Queen's first appearance in a few days because she was recuperating from a cold. So how much does the British public pay to maintain the Royal family? The overall cost is approximately 37 million pounds. This equates to around $74 million. This cost includes travel and upkeep on residences that the family owns. This translates into a cost of 61 pence per taxpayer.
Monday, June 20, 2005 -- AfternoonThere is some news on the British royalty front. The first story is the big controversy about betting on the color of the Queen's hat for Royal Ascot. The Brits are known to bet on anything and everything, and betting on things the Royal family does is a biggie. Well, bets were being placed on the color of the hat that the Queen would wear, and right before her appearance at Royal Ascot, bets started flowing fast and heavy on the color brown. Well, guess what? The Queen appeared with a brown hat. So now the bookies are wondering if there was insider information that spawned the late betting. Royal Ascot is a special five day event held at Ascot racecourse and is attended by the Royal Family, most noteably the Queen.
The other news on the Royalty front is that Prince William gave Camilla a kiss on the cheek after a polo match that he played in. Camilla was handing out the prizes after the match. The story made the news because it shows public acceptance of Camilla by her step sons. I think that if William can get over his father cheating on Diana with Camilla, the rest of us should too.
If you want to know when Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince will be coming out, Scholastic Books has a counter that you can download to your computer. The counter right now is at 25 days, 9 hours, and 46 minutes.
It seems that the courts and local governments might be trying to take away our tax free days on the Internet and mail order shopping. For years, even before the Internet, mail order did not have to charge local tax for people buying outside of the state. The only thing they had to do was to charge tax for in-state buyers. Well, it seems there is controversy over whether the online sellers are charging and paying the in-state tax. Right now, there is a case against Borders for local taxes. Borders says that they are not headquartered in California and they are fighting the case. We'll have to see where it goes.
Saturday, June 18, 2005 -- AfternoonA poll by the Associated Press shows that 73% of Americans would prefer to watch DVDs rather than go to the movie theater. Only 22% said that they prefer going to the theater. Also 47% of those questions also said that movies were getting worse. Only 33% thought that movies were getting better. I have admitted many times that I prefer the movie watching experience at home. With large screened televisions and a good sound system, it's a much more enjoyable experience to stay at home and watch a movie. Also the cost of renting a movie is so much cheaper than going to the theater. What the movie industry needs to do is look at this information, and get movies to DVD much more quickly. If they want to make money at the theaters, they need to come up with better ideas for movies. The majority of movies out nowadays really aren't that good and are definitely not worth $20 for two people.
Friday, June 17, 2005 -- AfternoonLiz Hurley created a storm of controversy by saying that the one item of clothing that she would ban would be clothes that are too small or too tight--unless you were really skinny or toned. She hates seeing flab. You know what? I agree with her 100 percent. The most disgusting thing that you can see is a fat woman waddling around in spandex pants with a short tight tube top with body parts bulging out and covered in cellulite. Just the thought of it is turning my stomach, and if you want down any street here in Pittsburgh in the summer, you get an eye full. You really have to ask yourself if the women think they look attractive by making others want to retch. I think that the chub busters who love to subject the rest of us to the vision of them in spandex should be forced to look at video of themselves walking around. Maybe they might change their tune then. Believe me, tight clothes don't look good on the majority of people. I try to steer clear of them.
Forbes magazine released the top 100 money making celebrities. Not surprisingly, Oprah Winfrey tops the list, followed by Tiger Woods, Mel Gibson, George Lucas, Shaquille O'Neal, Steven Spielberg, Johnny Depp, Madonna, Elton John, and Tom Cruise. It seems that Shaq got the number 5 spot because he has the highest salary in the NBA of almost $28 million dollars for his year only!
The University of Pittsburgh is going to pay $3.7 million dollars to replace the three year old roof on the Petersen Event Center. This is more than double the original cost of the roof. I think that the whole deal with the Petersen shows how the folks at Pitt mismanage and waste money. Only this time, it was also tax payer dollars too, because of funding Pitt received for the project from the state. Currently Pitt and the architects are busy suing each other.
The other news of the day is that Tom Cruise proposed to Katie Holmes, and she accepted. They have been going out all of two months. Tom is not letting the sixteen year age different come between them either. I have to admit that I have never seen anything that fits the stereotype of a gay man trying to act straight then Tom's performance in proclaiming his love for Katie. Whatever makes them happy! It really doesn't affect my personal life, but it is entertaining to watch. Personally though, I am not a big fan of Tom Cruise. His movies just never interested me, and his look and personality just turned me off.
Thursday, June 16, 2005 -- EveningThe Runaway Bride has sold has made a deal with ReganMedia to make a movie of her escapade. There's no report on how much money exchanged hands. The folks in Jennifer Wilbanks hometown aren't too happy because Wilbanks only made a minimal effort to pay back the costs for the search that wasn't needed. According to her attorney, we should feel sorry for Wilbanks because she lost her job and has gotten so much negative publicity over this. Duh! So she thinks that faking your kidnapping, disappearing for almost a week, and then turning up and blaming others for her kidnapping shouldn't result in negative publicity? I can't believe that she is going to make money from this whole thing, and I hope that the first bit of money goes towards the bills for her search.
Thursday, June 16, 2005 -- AfternoonThere is new controversy over the terrorist detention center in Guantanamo Bay, more commonly knows as Gitmo. Folks have been saying that the folks being held there aren't getting due process and that they are being denied human rights. Newsweek started a whole controversy and problem because they made unsubstantiated claims that there was Koran abuse in the facility that they later detracted. Unfortunately, this wasn't until after riots in Afghanistan that lead to deaths. Well, Senator Dick Durbin has now entered into the controversy by saying that conditions in Gitmo are comparable to a Nazi concentration camp. Now you may ask yourself, are we starving people or sending them to a gas chamber to die just because we don't like their religion? No, it is even worse. One prisoner was shivering because the air conditioner was on too high. Another prisoner's cell was too hot. Another was chained to a floor and made to listen to loud rap music. Come on, how could any intelligent being find a similarity between Auschwitz and Gitmo? If having the air conditioner turned on high is an abuse of human rights, then my human rights are being abused right now at work. I am shivering because of the chill of the air conditioner. I think that I better put my call into Amnesty International now! Ah, you would say that I can leave and the detainees can't. Well, geeez then, I would guess it would be the same as saying Gitmo is Auschwitz.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005 -- EveningWarner Brothers is making a stand against movie piracy. The way they are doing it is by releasing DVDs of current pictures on the day that they are released in the US. The movie that was released on DVD in china was The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, which sounds like a stupid teenage girl movie. The plot is that a group of girls have one pair of pants that they all fit in (yeah, right) and they keep in touch by passing the pants around from one to another. The DVD is going to be sold for $2.65 US dollars, which is a dollar more than the bootleg copies. The thought is that the shopper in China will buy the more expensive DVD because of its better quality. One person commented that the plan may backfire because people in other countries might realize that DVDs don't need to be as expensive as they are. Also, what's to stop the bootleggers from making copies, or buying the DVDs to sell in other countries. Warner Bros. says that if this works, they'll make more popular movies available.
Netflix has gone into the movie selling business. They are now selling DVDs that have already been viewed, and include not so-popular titles. The DVDs are being sold for $10.99 and that includes shipping and a guarantee that the DVD will play. I'm going to have to check it out because Netflix had alot of good titles. This is Netflix's way to refresh the inventory.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005 -- EveningIt seems that Wal-Mart will not sell VHS tapes after the 2005 Christmas shopping season. I'm surprised that VHS is still around. The options with DVDs so outweigh anything you can get with VHS. I guess if you only have a VHS player, you are going to be in for a hard time in finding titles, but DVD players are so cheap. The cost for DVDs is not much more than VHS (if not less at times).
Sunday, June 12, 2005 -- EveningShavuot started today at sundown. It is a harvest holiday that is celebrated exactly seven weeks after Passover. Shavuot is also the holiday that marks the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses. There is alot of eating of dairy products for Shavuot. I like the eating of dairy in the form of cheesecake (which some eat for Shavuot). I don't like some of the heavy dairy or cream things that my boyfriend's mother makes. It's just too rich for me.
Saturday, June 11, 2005 -- EveningToday was the Trouping of the Colour. One of the big stories was that Camilla made her first balcony appearance. So after the parade which this year honored the Irish Guards (their colour was the one that Trouped--if that's the correct way to say it), the Royal Family goes to Buckingham Palace and makes an appearance on the balcony. This year, Camilla was allowed to join the family.
The other royal news today was that Prince William earned a 2:1 degree in geography Master of Arts degree from St. Andrews University. It seems that this is actually a pretty good showing on his part. It seems that he is in the upper second class. It's a better score than his father did when he went to college. The plan now is for William to join the Armed Forces, but it's not clear yet what he will actually do. First up is to travel to New Zealand for his first solo royal engagement.
Friday, June 10, 2005 -- EveningBecause the Queen celebrates her birthday when the weather is good, and for England, the best weather is usually in June, the Queen will be celebrating her birthday tomorrow in the Trooping of the Color. The other thing that happens when the Queen celebrates her birthday are the Queen's birthday honors. This year Dame Judi Dench was awarded the Companion of the British Empire. She's not alone in receiving honors. Also getting honors are 893 other people, including Jimmy Page (of Led Zeppelin fame) and Stephanie Cole (from Waiting for God).
Friday, June 10, 2005 -- AfternoonThis is an older news story, but the Trojan Horse scandal from Israel is pretty interesting. It all started because the father-in-law of the guy who wrote the Trojan Horse software noticed that his files were appearing on the Internet (pieces of a book that he was writing), and he noticed that someone was trying to access his bank account information. Well, he suspected his son-in-law who was having a breakup with his daughter. So the guy called the police, and they tracked down the perpetrator. The thing that they also found is that the guy had sold his software to some private investigators and they were using the software to spy on corporate adversaries. That's the scandal because the companies being spied on had no clue, and it seems to have affected all of the really big Israeli companies. The question on people's minds is could this happen in this country, and I would say that is a given. When you have data on computers that are attached to the network, you run the risk all the time of someone getting in and looking at your files. Leave it to the Israelis though. Technology is booming there, and how better to do industrial espionage than with a Trojan horse. The thing to keep in mind with this, is that the companies accused of doing the spying are large--like large cellular companies who were spying on rivals.
Tuesday, June 7, 2005 -- EveningThe Discovery Channel is having a contest to find the Greatest American. They are showing the top 100 on the Discovery Channel every Sunday in June. For the greatest American, I think that I would vote for Thomas Edison. Why? Because he invented such a diversity of products. Edison invented the phonograph, incandescent light (light bulb), the motion picture, fluorscent electric lamps, and the nickel-iron-alkaline storage battery among other things. Where would we be without Edison? The common joke is sitting in the dark watching television, but since he was the father of the motion picture camera, we wouldn't be. My boyfriend said that he would pick Ronald Reagan as the greatest American. In his opinion, Reagan embodied Americanism, defeated Communism by forcing the former Soviet Union into a spending war on weapons, and by inventing Reaganomics.
Tuesday, June 7, 2005 -- AfternoonGoogle is planning on opening a division in Israel. Right now, there is a Hebrew Google search engine. What Google hopes to do with this move is to better the Hebrew language capabilities of any engine or software, and Google can start to provide more content. It seems that the Israeli search engine market right now generates $6 million dollars while Israel Internet activites generates $30 million. Google is hoping to get a larger share of that pie.
Monday, June 6, 2005 -- AfternoonToday is Jerusalem Day. This is the day that marks the unificiation of Jerusalem after the 6 Day War in 1967. Prior to that, the old part of the city was under the control of Jordon. Israel captured the city and the portion of Israel that is refered to as the West Bank, because it is on the West Bank of the Jordan. The Jewish people celebrate today as the liberation of Jerusalem.
Tuesday, May 31, 2005 -- EveningAfter denying that there will be a Live Aid concert this year, Bob Geldof announces that there will be a concert event. Live 8 will be held on July 2 in London, Philadelphia, Rome, Paris and Berlin. From the looks of the complete list of stars, the London show should be the most entertaining, at least in my opinion. That's where we will have U2, REM, Sting, Sir Paul McCartney, Madonna, The Cure, Geldof, Robbie Williams, Annie Lennox and Coldplay (among others). Now doesn't that sound like a good lineup? The concert is supposed to call attention to world poverty and is meant to tie in with the G8 conference to be held from July 6 to 8 in Scotland. The concerts are to be a free event, and tickets will be available through a text message lottery for the Hyde Park show.
Saturday, May 28, 2005 -- EveningBig Ben in London stopped working for 90 minutes on Friday. As far as folks can figure out right now, the problem may have been caused by the hot weather in England. Believe it or not, it was 90° F in London. That's pretty warm for this time of year. Big Ben is now working just fine. Check out the Big Ben webcam
Friday, May 27, 2005 -- EveningI'm not the only one who has cut down on the amount of movie going that I do. we have a 27 inch flat screen television with a nice sound system, a Comcast DVR and Netflix. In the past, my boyfriend and I would go out to a movie with friends a couple of times a month. The thing that we noticed is that we were spending alot of money on movies that were mediocre at best. I would rather spend the money on buying a DVD that I can watch multiple times at my own leisure. What the movie theaters and studios should learn from this is that folks don't want to spend alot of money for an evening's entertainment, and if you are going to go out, it's going to be for something that you can't get at home, and that is the big theater experience or the immediacy of seeing a new movie.
Friday, May 27, 2005 -- AfternoonSo what do you think of the Paris Hilton commercial? It seems that everyone has been talking about the commercial that Paris made for Carl's JR burger joint. It's a fast food chain that you find in California. It seems that the PTC (Parents Television Council) in particular is up in arms because the commercial is racy, and according to the PTC, an example of corporate irresponsibility. It seems that Carl's JR tries to present itself as family oriented, but the marketing scheme of late has been to target the young male audience. I watched the ad on the Carl's JR website, and all I have to say is that it is not as soft porn as folks would like to make it out to be. Yeah, we do have a scantly clad Paris Hilton washing down a car and herself while also trying to eat a Carl's JR burger. If anything, I would say that it is stylishly filmed, and I was quite impressed with the size of the Carl's JR burger. It made me wish that there were one here in Pittsburgh so I could try it out. I think that sometimes folks lose their sense of humor and proportion. All of Paris' body parts are covered, and you would think that Paris would have been moves after all the experience she has had filming herself having sex. The only folks who are getting excited over this commercial are prepubescent boys and the PTC. It's understandable for the boys, but the PTC should get a life.
Thursday, May 26, 2005 -- AfternoonDo you know that folks consider the VCR a difficult item to install. It ranks right up there with a child's car seat and a digital television installation. The problem according to those surveyed by User Vision in Great Britain, is that manufacturers try to put in all these functions that just complicate the use of the item. Another thing that is mentioned is the packaging. I know that sometimes it more difficult to get the hard plastic covering off of the item than in actually using the item! I usually hand those to my boyfriend and tell him to go at it with a pair of scissors or a knive. The top 10 items on the usability list (or lack thereof) are (in order from 1 to 10) video recorder, child car seats, digital tv systems, digital cameras, washing machines/dishwashers, can openers, packaging, central heating systems (furnaces), handheld computers, and finally non-disposable diapers. I don't know how someone can find diapers difficult but maybe they have different diapers or nappies in Britain. Granted, the list was biased because those surveyed had to pick from a list of 40 items. I would put the packaging as number 1 though!
Tuesday, May 24, 2005 -- AfternoonThere has been a huge controversy in Israel lately over the actions of the current foreign minister, Silvan Shalom. It seems that Mr. Shalom's wife was miffed that the Israeli Ambassador to Washington did not arrange a meeting with Madonna on Madonna's recent trip to Israel. It seems that the Ambassador, Danny Ayalon, has made allegations that Mr. Shalom and wife have been interfering in Embassy business, chiefly by having the assistant to the ambassador fired for the Madonna incident. Now there are stories that Mr. Shalom is not renewing Mr. Ayalon's term of office and Mr. Shalom is being asked to resign his position. To think that all of this is because of Madonna!
This story sounds like something out of a mystery or espionage story. A corporation finds that all of its data files have become encrypted, and on the server is a text file telling them to email an address to get more information. They do so, and are told that in order to get the password to unlock the files, they will have to pay $200. The corporation, though the assistance of some security companies, manages to regain control over its files without paying the ransom. The company was not named, but supposedly the story is true. I would think we would see more things like this happening. Data is where the money is, and no one ever backs up their information.
Saturday, May 21, 2005 -- EveningThe Eurovision competition was held in Kiev today, and the singer from Greece won. The winning singer was Helena Paparizou. Second place went to Malta, third to Romania, and Israel finished in fourth place.
Thursday, May 19, 2005 -- EveningTen countries have made it into the Eurovision song contest, and Israel is one of the final ten. The song for the Israel is Hasheket Shenish'ar, and the artist is Shiri Maimon. The finale is this Saturday.
Monday, May 16, 2005 -- EveningAn "outplacement consultancy" says that Star Wars movie will cost US employers up to $627 million dollars. The thought is that half of the folks who show up to see the movie in its first two days will be calling off from work, and the cost of their time would equal the $627 million dollar mark.
Thursday, May 12, 2005 -- EveningToday is Yom HaAtzmaut or Israel's Independence Day. In honor of the event, listen to Hatikva the Israeli National Anthem. Ha'aretz had a list of ten who made Israel what it is. The issue that I had with the list is that they left one of the key people who made Israel what it is: Moshe Dayan. Independence Day is also the start of the barbeque season or mangal.
There will likely be a resolution in Allegheny County that will require libraries to issue annual reports on incidents involving pornography or obscence materials on library computers. Part of the uproar has been caused by a 12 year old girl who saw a guy looking at nude females on a library computer at the Bethel Park Library. The only question that I have is what will be deemed obscence. That's where things like this can be a slippery slope. Right now, everyone would probably be in agreement that nude people or sex scenes might be obscene, but isn't obscene in the eye of the beholder? Obscene basically means that something is disgusting to the senses. (That is courtesey of Merriam-Webster Dictionary. What I think is funny about this issue is that librarians have always been on the side against censorship, and yet they fall into it here. Yes, I can understand not wanting your child to access certain materials, but who decides what those materials are? The libraries block access to some web sites now because of the Children's Internet Protection Act.
Wednesday, May 11, 2005 -- MorningI finally found a site that has a picture of King Tut that was created by the CT scan. I am still planning on watching King Tut's Final Secrets so I can see how they did it.
Tuesday, May 10, 2005 -- AfternoonTomorrow is Yom Hazikaron Lechalelei Ma'arachot Yisrael or IDF Memorial Day in Israel. It is identical to the US Memorial Day and is meant to honor all of those who haved died while serving Israel. Coming up on May 12 is Yom HaAtzmaut or Israel's Independence Day. The state of Israel was declared on May 14, 1948, but the thing that confuses everyone is that the holidays are celebrated based on the Hebrew calendar. So Independence Day is celebrated on the fifth day of the month of Iyar. This year it is on the third of Iyar probably because the fifth falls on Shabbat (Saturday).
A CT scan has provided us with images of what King Tutankhamun looked like. This is the first time facial reconstructions have been done with CT scan, and what the scientists at the Cairo Museum are hoping to do is display the mummies with a CT scan image of what he/she would have looked like in life. That would be really cool. I haven't found any pictures on the web yet, but the images should be shown on the National Geographic Channel's King Tut's Final Secrets on May 15th at 9 PM EST.
Monday, May 9, 2005 -- AfternoonNow I have to admit that this particular news story bugs me because I see so many holes in the logic that is used to draw a conclusion. Some Canadian researchers did some observations in supermarkets and determined that parents take better care of pretty children. Basically, they were observing adults with children, and noted if the adult strapped the child into the grocery cart with those seat belts they have now, and whether the adult kept a close eye on the child as they went around the store. Then the observers rated the child's attractiveness on a ten point scale. The researchers determined from their observations that the adult was more likely to strap in the pretty child (only 4% of the uglies were strapped in compared to 13.3% of the handsome) and to keep a better eye on the pretty child and didn't let it run around. So what problem do I have with this? Let me list them. 1) How do they know the adult is the parent? Maybe the adult wasn't a parent, but an friend/relative/babysitter. 2) Did the adult have a pretty and ugly child which were treated differently so we can see if the issue is that the adult is just not attentive? 3) What's pretty? I know that I see alot of average/cute kids out there, not ugly or very pretty. 4) How do they know that the problem just isn't a parent who is overly protective and strapping the kid in, or just thinking of other issues at work or home and forgetting to do it. Personally I wouldn't be strapping my kid into a shopping cart. How fast are you pushing the shopping cart, and are you expecting a collision? Please! The researchers did find that older adults were less attentive to the children than younger ones. Probably because they are just tired out. Anyway, I don't think that the observations prove anything.
Sunday, May 8, 2005 -- AfternoonWas it or wasn't it? The question on everyone's mind is whether or not Google was hacked last night. I know that I was doing some blogging at the time, and was trying to go to Google to look up some information, but couldn't. I missed the whole bit where SoGoSearch was displayed instead of Google's page. Right now Google is claiming that there was just a DNS problem. It does look suspicious though.
This is the Twilight Zone news. Nope, not the television show. Three royal couples are expecting babies in the October/December time period. First up was the Danish Crown Princess Mary with an October due date. Then Norway's Mette-Marit with a December due date. Today, we had an announcement from Spain's Princess Letizia with a November due date. All three are going to be future queens of their countries, and for all three it will be the first child of the marriage (Mette-Marit has a child from an earlier relationship). So we will have the births of three future heads of state in a matter of weeks. There is also a fourth member of royalty to be born in October, and that is for the Belgian crown Princess Mathilde. It will be the third child for the couple.
Prince Harry has shown up at Sandhurst to begin his army training. He will have to pass a four day long assessment for his physical abilities before he receives his actual placement.
Thursday, May 5, 2005 -- AfternoonA former stewardess (excuse me, flight attendant) is saying that she gave birth two years ago to Prince Albert of Monaco's son. There is a huge spread about the story in Paris Match. Albert is supposedly consulting his lawyers on how to handle the issue. This is really something because popular rumor has it that Albert is gay and just hangs around with supermodels to make it seem like he isn't gay.
Monday, May 2, 2005 -- AfternoonI don't know how many of you have seen it, but Laura Bush did a great job at the Washington Correspondents Dinner. This is a yearly event that the President attends and makes fun of himself. Well, this year Laura took over. The entire thing was just hilarious. Her speech writer did a great job, and Laura had good deliver. My favorite comment was when Laura was talking about the differences between her and George, and she said, "But George and I are complete opposites — I'm quiet, he's talkative, I'm introverted, he's extroverted, I can pronounce nuclear — ". That's funny stuff! Here's the complete transcript of the speech, and here's a link to the video of the dinner. The video is almost two hours in length, but it does give the entire event from C-Span.
Sunday, May 1, 2005 -- EveningIn the past, when the Seinfeld show was still on, folks would go to New York city, and take the Seinfeld tour that would take them to a variety of different locations that were on the show. Well, one of the stops on the tour was for the Soup Nazi. This was a guy who had a soup restaurant in New York City which had really fabulous soups made from super secret recipes. The issue was that the guy would make strict guidelines on the type of behavior that was acceptable in his store. For example, you had to have your money ready when you got to the checkout, and you had to move to the extreme left after ordering. Now, if you can't make it to New York, you can get some Soup Nazi soup. There is a move afoot to open up chains all over the US. I hope that one comes to Pittsburgh. The Soup Nazi is working with Rutgers University to make soup that can be made in such massive quantities and be shipped in large numbers. It will be interesting to see how this all works out.
Saturday, April 30, 2005 -- MorningThe big news this morning is the story about the runaway bride. I think that what this woman did was awful. A few days before she is to be married, she leaves the house with only an mp3 player to say she is going jogging. Well, what would you think? That she was killed. Nope, she plotted and planned to runaway, and let her family and friends think that she was murdered or something. Police say at this point they have no plans to charge her, but there should be some sort of punishment for what she put her family through, and for the efforts that the police and others put into finding her. Also, she initially claimed that she was abducted. Granted, she does have some psychological problems, but that doesn't lessen what she did. Her fiance made some remarks earlier on Fox and Friends the morning show on FoxNews where he said that he was fine with either of the two outcomes of this situation. Either she was in heaven or she was coming back. When I heard that, and based on pictures of him not looking too upset during the search, I was sure that he was a murderer. I have to admit that his comments that he was okay with either outcome--dead or alive--disturbed me. If I were engaged to this guy, I'd be openly leaving. What a comment! Your fiance goes missing, and you say "I'm okay with her being dead and in heaven." I would rather hear "I'm not okay with her being dead, and will hunt down her murderer." But then everything is okay because she was just a psycho running away.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005 -- AfternoonToday was the funeral for Sir John Mills. His children were in attendance along with a number of others such as Roger Moore, Judi Dench, and Richard Attenborough.
Monday, April 25, 2005 -- AfternoonStatistics have been released by Zone-H that 2500 web servers are attacked or defaced each day, and that there were a total of 400,000 hacking incidents reported in 2004. That is a large number. They have found that incidences increase over the Christmas holidays, probably because of school holidays since I think the biggest perpetrators are teenage boys.
Saturday, April 23, 2005 -- AfternoonSir John Mills, actor and father of Hayley Mills, died today at his home in England. He was 97 years old, and had been suffering from a chest infection over the past several weeks. He performed in 125 movies over the years, and was still making movies as recently as 2004. Sir John was recently listed as number 8 on the Sky Television poll of the Best British Actors.
Friday, April 22, 2005 -- EveningI just saw this story on the local news, and couldn't believe it. There's a chimp in a South African zoo who has picked up a smoking habit. It seems that he picked up the habit by watching the people who come to the zoo. Someone must have thrown in a lit cigarette, and Charlie the chimp picked up the cigarette and starting puffing. The zoo is trying to get Charlie to stop, but it seems that he hides the cigarettes that he gets and gets agitated when the cigarettes are taken away. My question is how does he continue to get the cigarettes? I can understand the first one--a vistor threw a lit cigarette into the enclosure. How does Charlie continue to get lit cigarettes to develop a nicotine habit? It was amazing to watch video of Charlie. He inhales on the cigarette and blows out smoke. Here's a link to a video clip of Charlie.
Friday, April 22, 2005 -- AfternoonThe parents of a Marine who died in Iraq have been trying to get their son's Yahoo! email over the past few months. The parents did not know their son's password, and it is Yahoo's policy to terminate email accounts on the death of the holder. Well, the family wanted access to the email because they wanted to know what their son was thinking before his death, and because the son said that he received encouraging messages from others that made life in Iraq bearable. It took a court order, but the parents finally did get access to his email. The thing that I don't understand is why the family had to go through such a trial to get this access. It seems that other provides, like Microsoft and AOL hand over access to email accounts with proof of death. An email account is just like anything else you own when you are alive. Family and executors of wills can get access to bank accounts, medical records, and any other physical property that a person has, why not email accounts? There might be something in the email that the family needs to address. Perhaps with this case, the service providers and the legal system might take a different look at technology and rights of the survivors after death.
Thursday, April 21, 2005 -- EveningToday was Queen Elizabeth's 79th birthday. She did not have a big celebration for it. The Queen's birthday is officially celebrated with the Trooping the Colour. The premise behind Trooping the Colour is to celebrate the King or Queen's birthday in the summer when it is more likely to be nicer weather wise. This year, Trooping the Colour will be on Saturday, June 11.
Scientists often work on problems that have important impact on our lifes. This leads to many earth shattering discovers. The most recent one is why popcorn doesn't pop. It's common knowledge to scientists that popcorn pops because of the moisture level within the hull. There's a particular level that causes the kernel to pop. Well, it seems that it's more than that. The important component is the structure of the hull. It seems that if the hull is leaky, it prevents the moisture pressure to build up that causes popcorn to pop. In case you didn't already know it, expensive popcorn is more likely to pop than inexpensive popcorn (4% of premium does not pop compared to 47% for the cheaper ones).
Wednesday, April 20, 2005 -- EveningThe Rolling Stones will be performing in Israel sometime in 2006. It seems that the Rolling Stones will be having their last tour starting this August, and they wanted to include locations that they have never been to, and Israel is one of them. Since violence has lessened in the area, insurance rates have gone down which made it possible for the Rolling Stones to go to Israel.
Tuesday, April 19, 2005 -- EveningPrince Ernst August was released from the hospital today. He had spent two weeks in hospital because of a case of acute pancreatis. It seems that word has it that Ernst will need permanent medical care because of his condition.
Today was the grand opening of the Squirrel Hill branch of the Carnegie. It looks like a huge warehouse, and has alot of open space. That space was crowded with a huge crowd of folks who have been anxiously waiting for the library to reopen. I'll have to go back on Saturday to see what it looks like with a normal crowd level. Here are some pictures of the event.
Monday, April 18, 2005 -- EveningThe Squirrel Hill branch of the Carnegie Library is going to have a grand opening celebration tomorrow from 3:30 pm until 7:00 pm. It looks nice from the outside, and I am very curious as to how it looks from the inside. I hope that I am not held up at work, and manage to make it to the library for the opening.
Saturday, April 16, 2005 -- Late EveningPrince Harry did not do well on the computer skills test that he took before entry to Sandhurst, the military academy that he plans to attend. It seems that he doesn't have some of the basic computing skills that young people his age have. Although some are saying that he failed the test, the folks at Sandhurst are saying that it isn't a matter of passing or failing, just finding out which areas cadets need to brush up on before entering the academy.
Saturday, April 16, 2005 -- EveningOne of my favorite actresses when I was a kid was Hayley Mills. I used to love watching her in Disney movies, and one of my favorite movies of hers was The Trouble with Angels. So I was quite surprised to find out that Hayley is in Pittsburgh, and will be appearing in Bird Sanctuary. The play started at the Pittsburgh Playhouse on April 14 and will continue through to May 15.
Saturday, April 16, 2005 -- Late MorningDo you believe in curses? Obviously some folks do, and they believe that the Grimaldi family is cursed. The Grimaldis are Monaco's ruling family, Prince Rainier and family, and the curse started around 700 years ago. The ruler then, also a Prince Rainier (the first--the current one is the third), supposedly raped a girl who then turned to witchcraft to curse the family. All I have to say is that she must not have been that good a witch if the family is still ruling Monaco 700 years later. Every person has good and bad times, and guess what? Everyone dies, so you have deaths in your family too. The family hasn't just had bad things happen, they have also had good things happen. After all, Rainier left 1.8 billion dollars to both Caroline and Albert, so obviously the family has had alot of good fortune.
Friday, April 15, 2005 -- EveningToday was the last day to pay taxes. What I think is interesting about this day is the number of folks who are rushing to mail their taxes. I can imagine waiting if you owe money, but if you are expecting a refund why not take the time to do your forms and get your money back?
Today was Prince Rainier's funeral. Only bits and pieces of the ceremony were broadcast here in the US. The BBC website does have a two minute clip of the funeral. Many comments were made on the rift between the two sisters, Caroline and Stephanie. Tabloid rumor has it that the two do not get along because Stephanie has been such a wild child. It's not that caroline has always made the best choices in life, and her last two marriages happened while she was already pregnant. Caroline just hasn't cavorted with circus folks. Instead Caroline has the alcoholic, tempermental husband (Prince Ernst August). By the way, Ernst Ausust should be released from the hospital soon.
The Carnegie Mellon Spring Carnival started today. Carnival is an annual event and includes music performances, a collection of carnival rides, and buggy races that start at 8 am and end around 11 am in Schenley Park. The annoying thing about the buggy races is that it interferred with rush hour traffic in the morning today, and added an extra fifteen minutes to my commute.
Thursday, April 14, 2005 -- EveningPrince Rainier's funeral is tomorrow morning. Prince Rainier is at the Chapel at the Palace, and his body will be carried to the cathedral in Monaco around 5:30. The church services starts at 6 am, and continues through to 7:30 am.
Wednesday, April 13, 2005 -- EveningSo the big news today is that Britney Spears admits that she is pregnant. This, of course, is not news because the tabloid press has been announcing it for the past month or so. Although Britney hasn't said much, rumor has it that she is three to four months pregnant. It really makes you wonder about Britney because she was just saying less than two weeks ago that the tabloids were lying. She also used to say that she was the role model for virginity which again was far from the truth. What we should learn from all this is never to trust Ms. Spears.
On the health front, it appears that everyone over 50 years of age should take a daily aspirin. All that is needed is the low dose of aspirin which is around 75 to 81 mg, and it lowers the risk of stroke and heart disease. There is also some research which is also starting to point to the fact that aspirin may also help with reducing the risk of cancer. The problem is though that aspirin can cause stomach irritation and bleeding.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005 -- EveningEhud Manor, an Israeli songwriter, died today. He had suffered from lung cancer, but according to his wife, had a full recovery. The cause of death at this point is being listed as a heart attack. Manor wrote the 1978 Eurovision song winner, A-Ba-Ni-Bi.
Monday, April 11, 2005 -- EveningIt appears that Prince Ernst of Hanover is improved. He is still being kept in intensive care because his problem is a serious one and requires attention even though he is approving. In the meantime, the provisions of Prince Rainier's will were made public. Both Prince Albert and Princess Caroline will be receiving $1.8 billion dollars. Poor Princess Stephanie, however, will only get $32 million dollars. Stephanie was always a person who made very poor decisions in her life, so I think that her father didn't want to leave her with anything that she would squander or which someone else that she might marry would take.
Sunday, April 10, 2005 -- EveningJacques Pepin is being honored with a lifetime achievement award from the James Beard Foundation. Jacques Pepin is my favorite chef because he has plenty of personality, and I think that the recipes he comes up with are elegant, but easy to make. If you have watched any of his shows, he often comes up with little tips about how to do things, so you always learn something. I also like his sense of humor. I have been watching his Fast Food My Way show. The show this weekend was on gratins. I am going to try the mozzarella gratin. Basically, you get a gratin dish, put in some olive oil, cut up some dried bread--like a long baquette, turn over the bread so both sides are oiled. Then put a slice of mozzarella on each piece of bread, topped with pepper, salt to taste, and a thin slice of garlic on top. Then bake.
Saturday, April 9, 2005 -- Late EveningPrince Charles and Camilla are on their way to their honeymoon in Scotland. For all the comments about how the Queen did not take advantage of a photo opportunity with her son and new daughter-in-law, she did have some nice comments to make about the couple at the reception. According to the Daily Telegraph, a guest said that the Queen said the following: "They have overcome Becher's Brook and The Chair and all kinds of other terrible obstacles, They have come through and I'm very proud and wish them well. My son is home and dry with the woman he loves."
The Pope's funeral has generated alot of controversy, but not in the way that one would think. It had nothing to do with the ceremony or the man himself. Instead the problems lay in the tradition that Roman Catholics have of greeting during the ceremony to celebrate peace. First there was a problem with Prince Charles shaking hands with Robert Mugabe, the President of Zimbabwe. The problem with Mugabe is that he is not looked on highly in the European Union, and is viewed as a corrupt dictator and bad rolemodel for emerging African nations. The other controversy was due to the handshakes between Israel's president, Moshe Katsav, and both the Iranian president, Mohammed Khatami, and Syria's president, Bashar Assad. Both Khatami and Assad have denied the handshakes, but the Syrian government finally admitted that it did happen, but denied that there was a diplomatic meaning. Of course there wasn't. It was all just a polite formality, and tradition for Catholic ceremonies.
Saturday, April 9, 2005 -- MorningI am watching Charles and Camilla's wedding blessing on television right now. I saw Charles and Camilla leaving the civil ceremony, and she has on a white knee length dress with a huge white hat. At least the color looked white to me. I have issues with distinguishing between white and beige. They look like the same color to me--white! Both were smiling. The main blessing part of the church service is over, and they are having the musical and poetic entertainment. Now they have returned to another blessing by the Archbishop of Canterbury who is conducting the service. Camilla changed her outfit for the wedding to something with a light, greenish tinge. It's longer with a small train, and looks like a long jacket over a shift. She had some feather type of headdress too. The service is over now but I'm sure the analysis will continue for another hour. It was a very nice ceremony. Best wishes to the couple. They are in love and desire to be happy. As they left the church, there really wasn't the photo opportunity that everyone had hoped for. Everyone was hoping to see if the Queen would make any moves to show that Camilla is accepted into the family. The BBC has pictures of the event.
Friday, April 8, 2005 -- MorningPrincess Caroline of Monaco's husband, Prince Ernst August of Hanover, was hospitalized on Monday with pancreas pains, and went into a coma on Tuesday evening. Reports are that he is still in a coma, but there haven't been any official reports. Caroline has had bad luck in the past, first with the death of Princess Grace in 1982, and then the death of her second husband, Stefano Casiraghi in a motorboat accident in 1990. Then the death of her father and her husband in a coma in the same week. Some folks claim that there is a curse on the royal family of Monaco, but I would say that it is just the ordinary things that happen to so many of us in life.
Thursday, April 7, 2005 -- EveningPrince Charles and Camilla will admit to the fact that they sinned in the past at that the wedding blessing. The wedding blessing will follow the civil ceremony, and will be the only part of the event that is televised.
Thursday, April 7, 2005 -- AfternoonThe folks at Powerball have come up with a new scheme to boost the money values and make it more difficult for people to win so the jackpots grow to higher numbers. They will be adding two more balls to the first pool of number that gets drawn so you have to pick five numbers from 1 to 55 instead of to 53. The Powerball will still be some number between 1 to 42. The jackpot will also move up to a minimum of $15 million, and if you get all five numbers but no Powerball, you will get $200,000 instead of $100,000. My dream is still alive to win the Powerball. I want to be able to cut down my work hours so I can devote time to blogging and other writing.
That Prince Charles is really causing problems with his wedding. First there was the controversy over it happening in the first place since they are both divorced, and having an affair with each other while married. Then there was the delay because of the Pope's funeral. Now the Grand National steeplechase is being delayed. The race will be moved back 25 minutes so the church blessing of the wedding can be televised.
Wednesday, April 6, 2005 -- EveningThe city Mayoral race is heating up. There are three candiates running for the Democratic nomination in the May 17 primary. The city has severe financial problems and the candidates gave us some insight into how they would handle the problem. The three candidates are Michael Lamb, Bob O'Connor, and William Peduto. I have to admit that I like what I hear from William Peduto. It seems that he is willing to make tough decisions that are needed to turn things around in this city. All candidates say that they favor in lowering the parking taxes in the city that are just extremely high.
Wednesday, April 6, 2005 -- AfternoonThe Beckhams are looking for a new nanny. It appears that the one they had for their three children got into an argument with Victoria, and was fired. So now the Beckhams are being inundated with applications in response to their ad on www.nannyjob.co.uk.
Wednesday, April 6, 2005 -- MorningPrince Rainier has died from the heart, lung and kidney problems that he has suffered for the past few years and that recently hospitalized him. Rainier was Europe's longest reigning monarch. There is no news yet on funeral plans.
Tuesday, April 5, 2005 -- AfternoonPoor Prince Charles! Not only did he have to change his wedding date, but now there's all that memorabilia with the first wedding date of April 8 on it. Well, it seems that there are folks out there who are rushing to buy the items in the hope that they will one day be worth money. Experts, however, say that buying the items in anticipation that they will be worth more money later is not good business.
Monday, April 4, 2005 -- AfternoonPrince Charles has postponed his wedding due to the Pope's funeral. Prince Charles will be attending the Pope's funeral representing the Queen on Friday.
Saturday, April 2, 2005 -- AfternoonThe Pope died just under an hour ago. The process of what happens after a Pope dies is very ceremonial. The Pope should be buried within four to six days of dying, and he will be buried under the main altar in St. Peter's Basilica. Then within fifteen to twenty days the process will start to elect a replacement for the Pope.
The parking meters by the Carnegie Library are very interesting. I've noticed that there are three of them in a very small area by the Scheneley Park bridge. The boxes are solar powered. What is interesting about the devices is that there isn't really any clear documentation on them, but it is obvious that you can pay for parking in a particular spot with the machines. I took the picture yesterday when it was still fairly nice outside, and all three had their solar panels up and working.
Phipps Conservatory is looking very nice. They have been expanding the building and it looks like they have most of it done. There are brightly colored flags marking out sections on the grounds around the building. Right now, the grounds are dirt from the work they have been doing so the flags give the appearance of flowers and it makes the area look really neat.
The Squirrel Hill Carnegie Library will have a grand opening on April 19th, and they will be having a grand opening ceremony that evening. I am really looking forward to having the library back again.
Friday, April 1, 2005 -- AfternoonWhy can't I be this lucky? It seems that a a slew of people in a half a dozen states won money at Powerball by matching the five numbers minus the powerball. When that happens, you win $100,000. Some folks had the number that multiples your winnings also, so some won $500,000. So how did such a large number win so much? They got the numbers from a fortune cookie! It seems that the numbers in the fortune cookie were 22, 28, 32, 33, 39 and 40. Well, some folks who got the fortune cookie played those numbers. The Powerball folks knew something was up because of the large number of winners (110) who all played a powerball of 40. The actual powerball number was 42, which was really close. Geeze, I'd even settle for the $100,000. I'm going to get some Chinese food tonight, and see if I have any luck tomorrow!
Friday, April 1, 2005 -- MorningPrince Rainier is not expected to recover. It seems that the end is near for him, but he is still receiving medical treatment. Not only is Rainier at the end, but the Pope is also. The Pope had a set back yesterday, and has a fever from a urinary tract infection. It ssems that there may be multiple things going on with the Pope, and now for both men a death watch is on.
Thursday, March 31, 2005 -- EveningAs is common with the British royal family, when they go on a vacation, they usually have a photo session with the press. This is done for the most part so the press will then leave them alone to enjoy their vacation. Unfortunately, some of the tabloid press don't practice such ethics. Well, today while Prince Charles and sons was at Klosters in Switzerland, Charles was overheard muddering about the photographers at the photo session and called them "bloody people". William, at least, seemed to handle the situation with better grace. I think that the whole incident illustrates how the much younger William, who could be excused for making stupid remarks, shows the more Kingly behavior. It also seems that Prince William has a girlfriend. Her name is Kate Middleton, and she has been photographed with him at Klosters. They have been just friends who shared a townhouse with a couple of others when William first joined college.
Thursday, March 31, 2005 -- AfternoonPrince Albert has taken over a regency for Rainier because of his health. It seems that Rainier's health is very fragile, and if he even does recovery, Rainieri probably won't be able to resume his duties.
Tuesday, March 29, 2005 -- EveningMadonna was blasted today for dressing up as a nun while hubby, Guy Ritchie, dressed as a pope for a Purim party they attended. Some were complaining because they thought it was in poor taste, and thought it was in poor taste because it was a few days before Easter (which just happens to be when Purim was) and the pope is not very healthy. For Purim, folks are supposed to wear costumes which are supposed to hide their identity. I think it's another mountain out of a molehill situation. Madonna is Madonna, and loves to shock folks. And she usually loves to shock them with religion. Folks should just get over it. There are more important things to take offense with than Madonna dressing as a nun.
Monday, March 28, 2005 -- AfternoonPrince Rainier's condition has had a slight improvement and that is being attributed to the fact that he was given dialysis yesterday. The doctors are still not hopeful that Rainier will have a complete recovery, but he might receive more dialysis in the future. At least the treatment has stopped the deteorioration of his organs.
Sunday, March 27, 2005 -- AfternoonA bishop in the Church of England said that Prince Charles should apologize to Camilla Parker Bowles' former husband, Andrew, for committing adultry with Parker Bowles' wife. Now the bishop didn't specify how the apology should be made, just that it should happen before the wedding on April 8. Who really knows if it hasn't already happened? Just because there hasn't been a public apology does not mean that an apology wasn't made in private. The other thing to keep in mind too, is that it isn't obvious to folks outside of a relationsip or marriage what the dynamics are from the inside. Mr. Parker Bowles may have been perfectly aware of what was going on, and accepted it.
Sunday, March 27, 2005 -- Late MorningPrince Rainier's condition has stablized and his heart, kidneys, and lungs have stopped deteriorating in condition. He is said to be conscious but sedated because he is still on the respirator. That doesn't mean that he is on the way to recovery, but that for the moment the descent has been paused.
Saturday, March 26, 2005 -- Evening26 years ago today Israel and Egypt shook hands on a peace treaty. It was a very historic moment. It lead to Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Unfortunately, it also lead to the assassination of Sadat in 1981 from an element in his own military who were unhappy over peace being made with the Israelis. However, inspite of that, the peace between the two countries has been maintained.
Saturday, March 26, 2005 -- AfternoonYesterday on my way to the library I saw an interesting object near the parking meters by the Schenley Park Bridge. It's rather interesting because I haven't seen anything like it elsewhere in the city. It's a box where you can punch in your parking space number, and then pay for your parking with either cash or credit card. The cost for parking there is one dollar an hour. The only thing that confuses me about this box and its neighbor across the street from it, is that the meters don't appear to have any numbers on them. There aren't any instructions on the box other than the ones that tell you to punch in your meter number and where to place your cash/credit card. I've looked around at the Pittsburgh Parking Authority web site, and can't find anything about the new meter/paying device. I'll keep an eye out for more information. I have to admit that I like the idea. I've been in situations where I needed to park at a meter and didn't have quarters, so it's nice to have something that will take coins, paper money, AND credit cards.
Friday, March 25, 2005 -- EveningThe latest news about Prince Rainier's health is that it is worrying. Rainier's children are at his side, and the whole country is praying for him, but it does not look good at all.
Friday, March 25, 2005 -- MorningToday is Purim. This is a festive holiday when kids dress up in costumes and get treats. I have a plate full of cookies to eat, especially Hamentaschen. This is the holiday of Esther who talked to the King of Persia to save her fellow Jews from the mechanations of Haman. Here are some recipes for Purim, especially Hamentaschen.
Thursday, March 24, 2005 -- EveningThe BBC has found how who leaked the first episode of the new Dr. Who and had the guy fired. They aren't giving details, but it was someone who worked with a third party company in Canada. I wonder if they just found a fall guy to take the pressure off the BBC while generating good publicity for the show which is airing this Saturday in the UK.
It seems that Prince Rainier is not doing well, and the folks of Monaco are expecting to hear of his death at any moment. considering that he has a lung infection with heart and kidney failure, I can understand their concern. Also, it doesn't help that Rainier is 81. Rainier did alot for the country and took it from being a seedy, gambling location into a hot spot for tourism and finance.
Wednesday, March 23, 2005 -- EveningPrince Rainier is on a respirator, but is said to be in stable condition. His problem is being described as a lung infection that suddenly became seriously worse. It seems that he has been in the hospital for the past two weeks being treated for the infection. His weak heart and kidney problems lead to his move to the intensive care unit.
Camilla is saying that she will not accept the title of Queen when Charles becomes King, and will instead take the title of Princess Consort. It seems that both she and Charles are very aware how the citizens of the country feel about Camilla being Queen. Since it will hopefully be a long time before Charles becomes King, we won't know what will really transpire.
Wednesday, March 23, 2005 -- MorningVladimir Putin is going to making a trip to Israel. It will be the first visit from a Russian or Soviet leader to Israel, and will happen in late April.
Tuesday, March 22, 2005 -- AfternoonPrince Rainier of Monaco has been admitted to the intensive care unit. He has been having health problems for the past few years that have been of varying degrees of seriousness. It is not looking good now. If something happens to Rainier, he will be succeeded by Prince Albert.
Tuesday, March 22, 2005 -- MorningBelieve it or not--25% of the hacked computers in the world come from Britain. It seems that the problem in Britain is being tied to the number of folks who have gotten broadband and to user ignorance. According to Symantec, the US is second with 24.6% and China is third with 7.8%. The US, however, leads with the number of computers that are launching attacks. Which I suppose means that we have more hackers than Britain. How did I come up with that statement? Well, if 24.6% of our computers are hacked and acting as robot machines, they are probably initiating hacks on other computers. Then when you add in the hackers, we wind up with the high number of hacking machines. Now Germany may have the most hackers, but the individual users in the country are smarter and don't have their computers compromised. So both numbers add up to make us the country that initiates the most hack attempts.
Monday, March 21, 2005 -- EveningNew controversy with Prince Charles' wedding. The news has been that when Charles becomes King that Camilla will be Princess Consort. Well, now it appears that legislation will be needed to prevent Camilla from becoming queen. It seems that since the marriage will not be a morganatic one that Camilla would become a Queen. It seems that morganatic marriages aren't recognized in England. Originally they started in Germany, and were meant to be ways for someone of a higher class, like royalty and nobility, to marry someone of a lesser rank. The marriage would be legitimate, but no titles would pass from the husband to the wife or any children of the marriage.
Saturday, March 19, 2005 -- Late EveningPrince Charles' wedding blessing will be televised live. This is the blessing that will be held after the civil ceremony in the registrar's office. The blessing will be in St. George's Chapel in Windsor. I am not sure how the situation of charles marrying Camilla will play out when the Queen dies. I would imagine since longevity is on her side, both with a mother who lived until 102 and Queen Victoria on her paternal side living until 82 (which was old for 1901) that it won't be something to be considered for another 20 years. By that time, Charles may be in his late 70s, and it might be deemed appropriate for him to abdicate in favor of William. Now, I'm not so sure how likely it is that Charles would do something like that because he has denied the possibility of abdication in the past. It would make sense though to pass the reins to William who will by that time be in his 40s instead of having an elderly monarch for an extended period of time (elderly Elizabeth followed by elderly Charles). Here are the locations for the wedding and honeymoon.
Friday, march 18, 2005 -- Late AfternoonI was just reading the recent issue of Newsweek, and I was abit annoyed with an opinion piece article on blogging. Basically the geist of the article is that women and minorities are under represented in the world of blogging. The question is why is this an area dominated by white men. The answer of course is that computers for some time have been the realm of white men. Why? Probably originally because the cost of computers made it possible for computers to be in homes of folks who had more disposable cash. Why it continues to be the case may have something to do with the interests that folks have. What disturbs me are the comments that the number of bloggers or the number of people represented in tradional media opinion/editorial pages should be more representative of the percentages of the population. What if we can't find opinion pieces for the op/ed page that will lead to 51% representation by women. Do we publish pieces that are of lower literary quality to allow for the representation? What if we have some well writen opinions by men that would make up more than 49% of the opinion pieces? Do we not publish those pieces to publish something of less quality just so we can have a fair distribution? It's a slippery slope to put quotas on the numbers of people who can express opinions. What if more women than men want to contribute opinions either by blogs or opinion pieces? Does that mean that we have to cut them off at 51% representation because that's the percentage of women in the population? We should not judge whether someone expresses an opinion or becomes a published author based on race or sex. Can you imagine the chaos in the news room? We have to have x% of men, %y of women, and then have the breakdowns in race and religion. And if we can't find a qualified person for the position, just throw anyone. Who cares about quality as long as we have equal representation! That's why the judgement should be based solely on the quality of the writing. Now if women and minorities are not represented in a number that is deemed appropriate--usually the decision is made based on representation in the population, then the question should be asked why that is the case. The assumption should not be that the minorities or women are somehow being discriminated against or somehow prevented from participating in an activity. As a female who has been in computer related fields for some years, I have not experienced any sort of discrimination which has prevented me from having a job or having a web site. With implementations of quotas being the norm for some years, I think that the problem is less one of discrimination and more of differences in interests that is more deep rooted. The problem that I see is in forcing people to have certain interests. We should allow all people to do what they want, and accept that they may at times want to have what is considered a traditional role.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005 -- Early AfternoonTiVo has joined forces with Comcast, and will be offering a customized version of its service for Comcast subscribers. The offering should be available in most of Comcast's markets by mid 2006. It seems that if you have Comcast you will get the option to select the TiVo service, and will have access to the TiVo wish list that recommends programs for you, or records shows based on previous things that you have recorded. This announcement has boosted TiVo's stock. It will definitely be something to look forward to. The way the current Comcast DVR works is getting more like TiVo then when it started, and it would be nice to have the wish list option.
Friday, March 11, 2005 -- Late EveningGarry Kasparov has announced that he is going to retire from competitive chess. He says that he will continue to play chess, but not as a competitor. Kasparov is only 41, and it seems that he decision took the chess world by surprise. The stress and pressures that Kasparov has been under for the past few years lead to him to make the decision to stop.
Apple won a ruling against the bloggers who published information about "Asteroid". The judges decision was that the material was stolen from Apple, and the bloggers didn't have any rights to the information, or to withhold information on where the material came from. Now this is a ruling that I can live with. As the article states, the judge found against the bloggers not because they are bloggers but because they violated trade secret laws.
Thursday, March 10, 2005 -- AfternoonGoogle may be making serious efforts to enter into the VOIP world. Representatives from Google have been meeting with meeting with several Internet voice providers. Keep your eyes open for a Google take over of the world.
Wednesday, March 9, 2005 -- EveningSo scientists have been studying why you get a song stuck in your head. They did some tests by playing tunes that folks would know, like the theme to Pink Panther. The scientists found that when they put in silent gaps that the person would fill in the blanks, and MRIs showed that the auditory cortex was active at those times. More advanced part of the auditory stream were in action when the songs had lyrics.
Tuesday, March 8, 2005 -- AfternoonThe results are in from the x-ray of King Tut's mummy. It appears that Tut may not have been murdered after all. The theory had it that Tut was murdered by someone either because he was moving the kingdom back to polytheism, or because he was going to try to return Egypt back to the monotheism of Akhenaten. Well, the x-rays revealed that Tut may have severely broken his leg shortly before his death. They surmise that this may have lead to a severe bacterial infection which killed Tut. So much for the court intrigue. It just goes to show you what results you get when you get a bunch of scholars involved in an analysis. I'll bet that what we will hear next is that one of the groups pushed Tutankhamun down the steps, breaking his thigh bone, and hence fitting into the murder plot.
A blogger has been allowed to cover the daily White House press briefings. This is just another move in the whole question about whether a blogger is a journalist or not. At least the White House press secretary, Scott McClellan sees the value of blogs and bloggers. The blog in question is Fishbowl DC, and it basically covers gossip about Washington DC media.
Saturday, March 5, 2005 -- AfternoonForbes Magazine questions whether Apple is pulling a Microsoft type move by with its recent lawsuit against three bloggers. Basically, Apple's claim was that bloggers are not legitimate members of the press and therefore were not covered by the journalist code of legal privilege which allows a journalist not to identify the source of his information. Apple is not alone in this claim. Others question whether a blogger should be given the same consideration for legal privilege that a print or broadcast journalist receives. As some claim, a person shouldn't be considered a journalist just because he has an Internet connection and posts items on a web site. However, I don't think that folks should be excluded from being classified as a journalist just because the person is a blogger. With the ease of publishing items on the Internet and readers turning more to electronic means to gather information, there has to be some other criteria that is used to define a journalist. That is a tricky thing because can you identify what a journalist is? Is it someone who writes for a media organization? It is based on number of readers? Is a person not a journalist because he self publishes either print or electronic media? How about free lance journalists who have no affiliation with a media organization, and just sell articles to a willing buyer? Is this person not a journalist until he sells the material?
Apple also claims that web sites aren't protected by first amendment rights and therefore authors on web sites have no claim to free speech. I think that claim is absolutely ridiculous. According to Apple, there are no distinctions on the web. All sites are equal in not having a right to free speech, but then what does this mean about traditional media who also have web sites? Or sites like Salon which only has a web presence? Just because someone has a web site does not mean that the writer of the site can libel someone, but the writer should have every opportunity to express his opinion and to report news. I think the thing that Apple and the legal profession needs to realize is that publishing is publishing whether it is electronic or print. The only difference is that it is now easier and cheaper for folks to self publish than it was in the print only world.
Friday, March 4, 2005 -- Late AfternoonPrince Charles is on a tour of Australia, and he was confronted by a little girl who said that she hoped he was in love with Camilla. Charles answer was "yes, very much." That is refreshing to hear after his answer to the same sort of question at his engagement to Princess Diana. At that time, the answer was "whatever love is supposed to mean". Poor Diana. He was never in love with her and just married her for convenience.
Friday, March 4, 2005 -- AfternoonApple won a preliminary ruling that bloggers can't be protected from disclosing information about sources. If a journalist is a member of the traditional media, ie, newspapers and broadcast stations, there is not an obligation on the part of the journalist to release the source of his/her information. However, the California judge in this case is not giving three bloggers that liberty. It seems that the bloggers released sensitive information about some upcoming Apple releases, and now Apple wants to know where the leak came from. The leaks were about Asteroid or Q97 which is supposed to be some sort of firewire audio interface for GarageBand. GarageBand is a software program that allows you to record your own music, hence the name. It will be interesting to see where this lawsuit leads us because the ways that information is being disseminated to people no longer is just through traditional media forms like newspaper, radio, and television. I think that idea of communicating electronically is an idea that folks have some trouble understanding. The immediacy of the information makes some think that it is not as reliable or that it isn't true journalism.
Friday, March 4, 2005 -- MorningGoogle poached a key person from Microsoft yesterday. The guy, Marc Lucovsky, has been with Microsoft for 16 years, and he was a chief software architect at Microsoft. It does make you wonder what plans Google has, and what Microsoft will try to do to cut off Google's air supply. For those of you who don't know, this was a comment that a Microsoft executive made in an email about Netscape that came out in that anti-trust law suit against Microsoft. I have nothing but words for encouragement for Google. I think it's about time that Microsoft got knocked down a few notches. Maybe then Bill will actually care about the quality of his product. Also, I just don't like the notion of everything being dependent on one software company. That's the sort of setup you have in those apocalytpic sci-fi movies.
Thursday, March 3, 2005 -- AfternoonSteve Fossett has landed safely. Originally they thought he would land around 2:20 EST, but he wound up actually landing at 2:48 EST. You have to wonder what drives this guy to do these types of things. Obviously if he had lived in the past, he would have been an explorer of some sort. I just don't think that I have that type of adventurous spirit to do these types of things myself.
Thursday, March 3, 2005 -- MorningSteve Fossett is hoping that he will be able to complete his solo non-stop flight around the world. He left Kansas on Tuesday, and should be returning today. Yesterday there was a problem with his fuel system, and he thought that he would have to abort the flight. However, he then got some help from winds that pushed him along and made the flight more fuel efficient. It seems that Fossett is in US airspace now, and it should not be long before he lands.
Wednesday, March 2, 2005 -- EveningBill Gates was given an honorary Knighthood by the Queen today. Gates received the Knighthood based on his charity work and what he has done business-wise. It seems that in private talks, the Queen talked to Bill about computers. As Bill says, for her age group, it's not very natural to be a computer user. Heck, for most of her life, personal computers really weren't around!
Bubba, this huge 23 pound lobster that a local fish store, Wholey's, has on sale recently, has been in the news alot. PETA was outraged that the store was thinking of selling Bubba for food. So Wholey's gave in to the pressure and gave the lobster to the Pittsburgh Zoo. Well, Bubba was transferred to the Zoo yesterday and today----he died. There's something ironic about this. PETA, the "save an animal at the expense of human life", fight to save this lobster who dies because of the transfer to another aquarium. Boy, what a waste of a big hunk of lobster.
It took seven years, but Orthodox Jews finished reading the Talmud today. Not to worry, the process restarts. It is part of Daf Yomi which is the reading of a page of the Talmud daily. The Talmud is basically a discussion of Jewish law, ethics, customs and stories. It is supposed to be the interpretation of these items, and it is studied by rabbis and Jewish scholars all over the world. Daf Yomi started in 1923 to promote study of Jewish religion and customs.
Friday, February 25, 2005 -- AfternoonOne of the current exercise routines going around now is Krav Maga. It is a tough self-defense training that was started by an Israeli guy who trained the military in Israel at the start of the nation in 1948. It doesn't take long to learn, and they say you can learn with just a couple of hours a week. It's very rigorous training. It sounds like something that I would like though. My idea of a good martial art is one where you give jabs in the eye, and things like that.
Friday, February 25, 2005 -- AfternoonTiVo's stock is rising due to speculation that Apple might be buying the company. This must be Steven Jobs answer to Bill Gate's trying to take over the digital future. As Bill says, everyone wants to have one device that does it all. Jobs just wants to make sure it is an Apple.
Thursday, February 24, 2005 -- AfternoonThe Pope had a relapse of his illness and is in the hospital now undergoing a tracheotomy. I'm just shocked that that Pope hasn't keeled over yet from all the problems that he has had. He looks much older than his 84 years, but somehow he keeps on ticking.
HP is being sued by a woman in the US who says that the printer cartridges that HP sells are programmed with an expiration date. Even if the cartridge isn't empty, it seems that the programming is such that the cartridge will register as empty. I wonder if other companies do this. The woman is initiating a class action suit that should benefit anyone who purchased an HP printer since February of 2001.
Thursday, February 24, 2005 -- MorningMore members of the Royal Family will not be attending the wedding ceremony portion of Charles' wedding. You could say that they are trying to keep the affair low-key, and that it isn't a snub. Prince William is scheduled to be one of the witnesses, so he will be attending.
Locally, the news is that Lynn Swann has formed a campaign committee to run for governor of Pennsylvania. The election will not be until 2006, and it appears that Swann will be running as a Republican.
Wednesday, February 23, 2005 -- EveningThe Paris Hilton debacle has brought to light the possibility that a phone could be hacked or perpetrate viruses. The most common way for a phone to be hacked is via Bluetooth. The fact is that if you have something on a network, it is going to be vulnerable to attack. why should cell phones be different?
Wednesday, February 23, 2005 -- AfternoonSo Microsoft is suing an Israeli spammer for causing damage by sending tons of spam. The spammer is Amir Gans, and it appears that he is quite open about the fact that he spams people. He is supposedly responsible for 50% of the spam that Israelis receive, and he targets Hebrew speakers. I know some folks here in the US who get Hebrew spam all the time, and I wonder if good old Amir is behind that. I have to admit that I personally don't like spam, but that is what spam filters and the delete key are for. In fact, if it weren't for spammers making money off of spam, there wouldn't be spam stoppers making money. So it's one of those economic circles. Unfortunately, none of the interviews that were online are available anymore, but here is a short review of one. Anyone that Microsoft sues can't be all that bad!
So was Paris Hilton's phone hacked? She has been advertising the Sidekick for T-Mobile for abit now, and it appears that somehow someone was able to get their hands on her phone list and personal pictures that were on the device. The information was then made available to everyone on the Internet. Seeing how stupid this girl is, she probably gave her password out to every Tom, Dick and Harry, or she was in a public place and talking about it loudly. This is really bad PR for T-Mobile, and I bet they'll get rid of dumb girl from the commercials soon.
Tuesday, February 22, 2005 -- EveningThe Queen will not be attending the civil ceremony when Charles marries Camilla. She will be attending a blessing for the couple at St. George's Chapel, and will be giving the wedding reception. It is very curious though that she is missing the ceremony. Supposedly we aren't supposed to be reading any slight into this, but how else could one interpret it? As the Times put it, it may be because Charles forced his mother's hand by making a more public display of a controversial decision to marry.
Sunday, February 20, 2005 -- AfternoonThe Beckhams have another son. Victoria gave birth to a son that they have decided to name Cruz. You do have to give it to the Beckhams. They do come up with unusual names for their kids: Brooklyn, Romeo, and now Cruz. Congratulations to the Beckhams!
Thursday, February 17, 2005 -- EveningCharles and Camilla won't be getting married in Windsor Castle. They are going to have to do the deed in a local town hall. The reason is supposedly that the new location will allow the public to see the couple arriving and leaving after the event. Or is it because the Queen wanted to put a bit of a damper on the event?
Victoria Beckham, aka Posh Spice, is posing nude for Tatler magazine. The pictures early in her pregnancy so it won't be a repeat of Demi Moore posing nude late in her pregnancy.
Arlen Specter has been diagnosed with Hodgkins Disease. There is some concern that his age and past brushes with a brain tumor and bypass surgery might lessen his chances. His doctors though are very postive. The recovery rate for Hodgkins is supposed to be 70%.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005 -- EveningIt was eighty two years ago today that Howard Carter had the ceremonial opening of King Tutankhamen's tomb. Contrary to popular myth that entering the tomb of a pharoah leads to death, Howard Carter lived for another 16 years and died at the age of 65.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005 -- AfternoonA German shorthaired pointer won the Westminster Dog Show last night. The dog held two frozen positions during the judging which is remarkable considering the level of noise and excitement.
The University of Pittsburgh filed a lawsuit against the architects of the fairly new Petersen Event Center. A few years ago, the old Pitt football stadium was torn down to make room for the Petersen which houses the basketball team and various exercise facilities for the students. Well, there was a huge expose about it in the Post Gazette because they went grossly over budget with it, and spent a large amount of tax payer dollars. (That article is no longer available online, but this one is.) What made it worse were problems with the building and it now needs some repairs. The architects have responded by filing their own lawsuit. All I know is that my tax dollars are gone, and it was money that was taken without a referendum for the tax payers to approve.
Tuesday, February 15, 2005 -- EveningI just don't understand the controversy over Chris Rock and his comments over the Oscars. Obviously none of the people who are up in arms have ever seen chris Rock performing. The guy is funny, vulgar, and he doesn't hold back on his opinions. He doesn't care what other people think. I have seen a couple of his televised shows, and I thought he made some funny and insightful comments. One of the funniest was his comment about Justin Timberlake flashing Janet Jackson's boob at us. As Chris said the thing that was wrong about it was that a 40 year old boob should be kept private--a 20 year old boob should be public domain.
People are just so stupid, and just need to lighten up. They want to have Chris Rock be the host, but they don't want him to be Chris Rock. They want him to be someone else. Incredible! The thing is with Chris Rock as a host I'll watch, and I'm sure that a whole slew of straight, black men will be watching too.
Friday, February 11, 2005 -- Evening65% of the British public is in favor of Prince Charles marrying Camilla. However, that doesn't mean that they believe that he should one day become King. Only 37% want Charles to become King while 41% want William. Considering the life span of the female members of the Royal Family, it could be some time before the matter becomes a reality. Since Charles is now almost 57 years old, he might just not be in good enough health to accept the throne. So it might be a moot issue.
Friday, February 11, 2005 -- AfternoonIt seems that Prince Charles was told to get his affairs in order and marry Camilla to prevent a possible future constitutional crisis when his mother dies. I suppose that once you are in your 50s the thought of marriage isn't as exciting or necessary as when you are younger.
Our local CMU is going to be developing armored robotic vehicles for the Marines. CMU does alot of robotic research and have done things like meteorite searches in Antarctica and the robot race across the Mojave Desert.
Thursday, February 10, 2005 -- MorningThe big news this morning is the upcoming marriage between Prince charles and Camilla Parker Bowles. Because both are divorced, and Camilla's husband is still living, there will be only a civil ceremony that will be held on April 8. Last year, a poll was carried out in Britain to see how the folks felt about Charles marrying Camilla. The results were 32% approving while 28% disapprove. %38 didn't care. What I think is so odd about the Church of England is that King Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church because he wanted to divorce. Anyway, when (or if) Charles becomes King, Camilla will only be a Princess Consort because the Church of England does not recognize the marriage.
Wednesday, February 9, 2005 -- AfternoonHappy Chinese New Year! Today starts the Year of the Rooster. Those who are roosters tend to be diligent and talkative--definite hard workers. The Chinese year is based on the lunar calendar, and it started today because there was a full moon last night.
Tuesday, February 8, 2005 -- AfternoonThere was a Middle East summit in Sharm al-Sheikh today, and it has resulted in a truce between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Mahmoud Abbas seems to have been able to get an informal agreement amongst the various militant groups to cease the acts of aggression against Israel. Ariel Sharon has also agreed to stop any actions against the groups once the violence stops. I think the key word here is stops. If Abbas is able to get the groups to agree and work together toward peace, there might actually be a chance to achieve that goal. The BBC has a fairly nice timeline. One thing to keep in mind is that the BBC tends toward a Palestinian bias. For example, in the bit about the year 2000, there is mention that both sides failed to come to an agreement on Jerusalem and the right of return. Nothing is mentioned about the fact that Barak offered up Jerusalem only to be turned down by Arafat. Even Palestinians admitted that Barak came the closest to meeting their demands. It will be interesting to see how the present day truce plays out over time.
Monday, February 7, 2005 -- AfternoonI am not alone in thinking that the Super Bowl ads this year weren't that great.
Monday, February 7, 2005 -- MorningOkay, I must be losing it, but I don't remember seeing any commercial during the Super Bowl that had a guy holding a white cat. That's one of the commercials that is listed in this article. Fortunately I still have the game recorded from the DVR, and I can go back to check. It sounds like it could have been funny. Personally, I think that the commmercials that were shown were a bunch of sore-ass, dull commercials. No, it's not because the commercials were "clean". They were just darn boring with nothing that would make you comment on them afterwards.
It seems there was a mud wrestling competition at one of the detention camps in Iraq, and one of the female participants was demoted from a specialist to a private first class because of it. As long as the participants were willing, and it was just to release steam and tension, I'm not sure what the problem is. There are more photos here. Maybe there is something wrong with me because I don't see what the big deal is about the mud wrestling parties. It also seems that there is alot of sex going on too, but isn't that what happens when you throw young men and women together? I'd need to know more before I make any other decisions.
Saturday, February 5, 2005 -- EveningI have a Google mail account, and recently found that I was given 50 invitations to send out to friends. I wasn't alone. Rumor has it that Google is planning on making the accounts more publicly available, and this is the first step in that front. It is a nice service. I only use 2% of my quota of 1 gigabyte, and I tend to get alot of mail.
Jupiter Research found that folks with DVR devices watch two more hours of television each week than those without DVRs. To me this is very understandable, and in fact, I'm surprised that it is only two hours. The joy of the DVR is that you can watch shows that you want to watch when you want to watch.
Amazon entered the search engine world a few months ago with A9. They use the Google search technology (doesn't everyone?), and give a few cents discount to Amazon buyers if you download the toolbar for Internet Explorer. I used A9 for awhile, but I found that the search results didn't always match what I would find from Google, and I missed the option to also search newsgroups or the news for items by just clicking on the tab. Well, A9 has added a new Yellow Pages option. When you search for a subject like pizza, or look for a business name, it provides a list of options that has both a map and picture of the location. So far, Pittsburgh isn't one of the cities that has photos, but there is an option to share a picture if you have one. Here's how A9 did it.
Wednesday, February 2, 2005 -- EveningIsraelis of Iraqi heritage were eligible to vote in the Iraqi election this past weekend. A voting location was designated in Jordan, and it was open to the Israelis. Most probably did not vote, however, because of they didn't want to travel to Jordan or because they just don't feel as much of a connection to present day Iraq. Israel has done a good job of absorbing Jews that were forced out of other Middle Eastern countries, and those who left Iraqi don't necessarily want to go back. They may miss the Iraq that was, but have no wish to make it return.
The Japanese use KitKats as a good luck snack to assist them in passing exams. It seems that the Japanese have a mantra that they repeat to do their best to succeed and the word "kitto katsu" sounds like--you guessed it--Kit Kat. The Nestle KitKat is much better than Hersey's which is the one that is sold by default here in the US.
Dick Cheney is getting blasted for wearing a parka to the Auschwitz memorial on Jan. 28. What a bunch of bull donkeys! Does it really matter what someone wears? I suppose that the naysayers would prefer that he wear a nice overcoat and not be sincere in his heart. Of course, they claim that his style of dress shows that he doesn't care. I say that the cover of the book is not as important as what lies on the pages in between. We need to think less of fashion and facade and more about the depth and quality of the character.
Monday, January 31, 2005 -- EveningThere are many differences between men and women. The most obvious is that women are the ones that bear the children. Other differences may be more subtle, and the way in which we watch sports may be one of them. I know that when I go to sporting events, even if I like the sport, I find myself observing others in the stands while my boyfriend focuses exclusively on the play on the field. So what if men and women are different? Why would we want to be the same? Lawrence Summers, the president of Harvard, has gotten quite abit of flack over his comments that women biologically have more difficulty with science, tend to have to take time off for child bearing, and just don't go for the sciences in the same numbers as men. You can imagine the uproar this created in the feminist ranks, but it should be looked at scientifically. Personally, I have a bachelors in Physics and Astronomy, and in the Astronomy division, there was only one woman faculty member. This woman was as dumb as a brick--which does a great disservice to bricks. She should not have been teaching a cat to use a litter box let alone try to explain her topic of expertise, solar creation and evolution. The thought that ran through my feminine brain was that she filled some sort of female quota that the University had in place. I only wished they had found someone with a few more synapses firing.
Sunday, January 30, 2005 -- EveningEphraim Kishon died late Saturday night. Kishon was a writer and satirist who also wrote and directed Salah Shabati. I watched Salah Shabati a few years ago, and it was very funny. The purpose of the movie was to show the experience of the Sephardi in the early days of the Israeli state. The situtation that those of Middle Eastern heritage found in the 1950s was quite different from those who came from Europe, and this film highlighted the difference in treatment with a satirical eye.
Saturday, January 29, 2005 -- EveningThe Mossad has had a web site for the past seven months, and there are some interesting statistics about it. For example, only a third of the hits come from Middle Eastern countries other than Israel. So it seems that the Arab world isn't very interested in what is presented there. The purpose of the web site is to provide the positions of the Mossad. Obviously, there wouldn't be anything about covert operations, so that may be why there isn't interest in the Arab world. Also, it appears that the web site receives the most hits at midnight. I can't even speculation on the reason for that!
The UK's Labour party is being accused of anti-semitism. It seems that the Labour party is ciculating anti-Tory ads. One of the ads show two of the Tory leaders as flying pigs. So what is anti-semitic about that? Both Michael Howard and Oliver Letwin are Jewish. The Labour party is saying that it is just meant to be anti-Tory, and there isn't any greater symbolism intended. However, one of the Labour members was offended at the representation of the Jewish members as unkosher pigs.
Friday, January 28, 2005 -- EveningThere is more information on activity and weight. Fidgeters tend to be leaner than people who sit still. Boy, at times, I really amazes me that research dollars are spent on subjects like this because common sense would tell you that folks who move around alot are more likely to burn calories than someone who sits like a bump on a log. In one of my old jobs, my boss said that I didn't sit still for very long, and I was very thin. Meanwhile the person before me, just sat at her desk all day with little movement and she was fat. The interesting thing is the pants that the used in the study to register fidgeting. It's based on fighter jet technology. The question is can you make people fidgeters? I don't think so. We shall see.
Thursday, January 27, 2005 -- EveningIt seems that doing daily chores might do more good for you than jogging. It seems that the point is that doing daily chores is a life style. It implies that you are doing something active every day instead of the occasional jog. It seems that some people just have more biological urge to sit than others. The scientist in the article refer to it as NEAT or non-exercise activity thermogenesis. People who have low NEAT tend to have more of an urge to just sit around. I must have a higher NEAT because I can never sit still for very long.
Google has hired the lead developer of Mozilla's Firefox. Some suspect that means Google will be entering the browser war There does seem to be alot of talk and gossip about Google. The guys at Google are really getting their fingers into several pies.
Thursday, January 27, 2005 -- AfternoonI really don't understand celebrities and Kabbalah. Do they understand that it is Jewish mysticism? It does have religious ties, and although an element of it is practiced by non-Jews, it is for the most part associated with the religion. It seems to me that most are just doing this for the fad part of it, and to be one of the in-crowd by sporting the red string bracelet. Now Britney Spears is into Kabbalah, and has a Hebrew symbol tattooed on her back that is supposed to symbolize the "power of healing". The big question is: does Britney have the correct symbol?
Thursday, January 27, 2005 -- MorningToday is Holocaust Memorial Day. It was 60 years ago today that Auschwitz was liberated.
Wednesday, January 26, 2005 -- EveningGoogle Video Search is very interesting. I gave it a try today, and the results were interesing. When I did a search on As Time Goes By, the first two results were for the show. Basically, you get snippets of dialogue and pictures. There wasn't any video available at this time. It's an interesting concept, but I think that it needs alot of work. The bits of dialogue appeared to be chosen based on the appearance of the search words. The nice bit was the fact that you could pull up when the show would be airing next in your location. Others agree with me on the shortcomings. However, the hope is that the service will become something spectacular in the future.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005 -- MorningGoogle is on its way to becoming a monothelic company. Yesterday it was VoIP, and today it is a search function for TV programming. The search function is supposed to be available from the main Google search page, but it is not listed there yet.
Monday, January 24, 2005 -- AfternoonFor all those men who believe that women are bad drivers, German researchers have found a hormonal link. According to the researchers, because female babies are exposed to testerone in the womb, it affects their spatial ability. This is supposed to make women poor parkers. It also results in the index and ring fingers are women being the same length, while the ring finger is longer in men. I don't know that I buy this, but I do admit to having trouble with the visualization of objects on the standardized tests.
And for all those dirty keyboards out there, get out your handy wipes. It seems that keyboards and cell phones are dirty than toilet seats. I have to admit as a computer support person that I have seen some really nasty looking keyboards and mice out there. I have a co-worker who carries anti-septic wipes to clean them off, and I guess she wasn't as nutty as we thought. Well, she is nutty, but on this one instance she isn't.