Sunday, December 27, 2009

Super Emo Friends

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Keeping Things Whole - mark strand

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body's been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

- Mark Strand

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Inner Peace

I dont usually get all spiritual but this email I got recently really makes a point

Subject: Inner Peace

I am passing this on to you because it definitely works, and we could all use a little more calmness in our lives. By following simple advice heard on the Dr. Phil show, you too can find inner peace. Dr. Phil proclaimed, "The way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you have started and have never finished.

So, I looked around my house to see all the things I started and hadn't finished, and before leaving the house this morning, I finished off a bottle of White Zinfandel, a bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream, a package of Oreos, the remainder of my old Prozac prescription, the rest of the cheesecake, some Doritos, and a box of Godiva. You have no idea how freakin' good I feel right now!

Pass this on as it was to me.

Monday, December 14, 2009

ATHF Christmas

Sunday, December 13, 2009

12 Days Of Guido Christmas

No Offense meant... just for fun

Saturday, December 12, 2009

What's are we going to do tonight Brain?

Watching the Animaniacs Christmas special on VHS this morning (one of the perks of working from home)
and I thought I would share a little christmas spirit and nostalgia for 90s cartoons.
Oh Pinky and the Brain... edu-tainment, where have thou gone.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Christopher Nolans newest due out this summer. Looks pretty cool.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Little Bohemian Rhapsody Gentlemen....

Once again the Muppets and Jim Henson studios prove their genius with their cover of Bohemian Rhapsody....

Here's a LINK to an editorial that was published that I wrote about the muppets.

Happy thanksgiving.
Ps this song even funnier if you have a sense of humor like I do

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Christian Side-Hug: “Front Hugs Be Too Sinful” - The Sexist - Washington City Paper

The Christian Side-Hug: “Front Hugs Be Too Sinful” - The Sexist - Washington City Paper

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Why Exercise Makes You Less Anxious

Published: November 18, 2009
Thanks to improved research techniques and a growing understanding of the biochemistry and the genetics of thought itself, scientists are beginning to tease out how exercise remodels the brain, making it more stress-resistant.

Click Here for Full Article

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Film remakes....

With Hollywood rehashing old ideas left and right to try and secure somewhat of a predictable profit margin.... here's a comparison of two films and their contemporary counter parts....

For those of you that haven't seen Harvey Keitel in the original Bad Lieutenant. You should.
FOr those of you that have you might under stand why Werner Herzog directing Nick Cage in a sort of remake of the same premise makes me nervous and a little confused but so far the reviews have been good.




Although the very last line in the Nick Cage Trailer is pretty bad ass.


As for the zombie-esque apocalypse to go with the end of days movies that parallel our diseaster obsessed culture.
Here's one where the remake might not suck but probably will but the trailer is pretty awesome.

So check out both versions of the Crazies and think about the coverage of H1N1 and swine flu.

George A. Romero's Original 1973 Version


Monday, November 16, 2009

The evolution of the God Gene

From The New York Times:

The Evolution of the God Gene

New research is pointing to a new perspective on religion, one that seeks to explain why religious behavior has occurred in societies at every stage of development.

click here for full article

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Them Crooked Vultures

THE Dave Grohl on drums (where he belongs), Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age vocals/guitar, and the former Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones are releasing their album tuesday. 11/17...

Them crooked vultures..... so maybe rock isn't dead.

Here are some excerpts from the Times

Them Crooked Vultures’ music — long, twisting songs with multiple sections and tempos, shot through with a scuzzy menace and dark humor — is more complex than the sounds of the Foo Fighters. Mr. Grohl called it “the most musical band I’ve ever been in"

Mr. Homme said that he considers Mr. Grohl a great frontman, but that “when he plays the drums, he always leaves my jaw dropped — that’s really where the world needs him.”

You can listen to the whole album through youtube at the moment via

Rock on and stop listening to coldplay.

Fair play: Monkeys share our sense of injustice


"Concern about fairness is always asymmetrical (stronger in the poor than the rich), and the underlying emotions aren't half as lofty as the ideal itself. It is true to say that our sense of fairness seldom transcends self-interest, that it is seldom concerned with something larger than ourselves. Look at how it starts in life. Children react to the slightest discrepancy in the size of their slice of pizza compared to their sibling's. Their shouts of "That's not fair!" never transcend their own desires.

That this sense of unfairness may turn out to be quite ancient in evolutionary terms as well became clear when graduate student Sarah Brosnan and I discovered it in monkeys. While testing pairs of capuchin monkeys, we noticed how much they disliked seeing their partner get a better deal. "

CLICK HERE FOR FULL ARTICLE Fair play: Monkeys share our sense of injustice

Friday, November 13, 2009

Screen Memories A.O.Scott

From the NY Times:

Many years ago, in an age of chaos and confusion, in a world where time was money and pleasure was work, I saw a movie that changed my life forever. It was called “My Dog Skip.”
Perhaps you remember it. To be perfectly honest, I don’t. There was a dog named Skip, of course (a Jack Russell terrier with a taste for bologna) — who lived in Mississippi in some bygone, innocent era before the present age of chaos and confusion, in a world where . . . — but never mind. Kevin Bacon was in the movie and also Luke Wilson and the kid from “Malcolm in the Middle.” I recollect this stuff only because I looked back at an old newspaper review, the first I ever wrote as a film critic for The New York Times.
That was in January 2000. Since then, more than 5,000 movies have come and gone and been reviewed in The Times, most of them still living somewhere in the lucrative zombie limbo of DVD or cable programming. Some landed noisily on thousands of screens at once, gobbling up as much attention and money as the marketing machinery of the studios could buy, at least for a weekend or two. Others bloomed quietly in big-city art houses and were smiled on (if they were lucky) by ardent critics and die-hard cinephiles. Some won Oscars they didn’t deserve. Many more deserved better than they got from the Academy or the public. There were extravagant spectacles of superheroism and planetary disaster; blue-chip biopics in which famous actors impersonated famous historical personages; handsome adaptations of prizewinning literary novels; coarse comedies; exquisite relationship studies; noisy cartoons; muckraking documentaries; D.I.Y. video oddities; and multisequel franchises with lovable heroes like Harry Potter, Shrek and Jigsaw.
Did I miss any? Not as many as I might have wanted, perhaps, though at the same time I often feel as if I have some catching up to do. And after 10 years, with the calendrical end of the decade as further excuse and inspiration, I find myself wondering which of those thousands will last. And also, how, why and in what form. The possibility of a digital, on-demand afterlife guarantees at least a theoretically universal long-tail immortality to blockbusters and curiosities alike. But this state of database nonoblivion is not the same as being held in memory. Which movies are sure to be remembered? Which movies deserve to be? Are these really two different questions?
Every movie fan with the slightest scholarly or antiquarian bent carries around a canon culled from film history, a register of consensus masterpieces, important milestones and significant developments, from “The Birth of a Nation” to “Saving Private Ryan,” with a roster in between that seems, in hindsight, to be as fixed as the reading list in a college literature survey. (And of course is really every bit as much a result of argument, changes in fashion and wholesale revisionism.) There is “Citizen Kane” and the first two “Godfathers.” There are Ingmar Bergman and Yasujiro Ozu and Jean-Luc Godard.
But alongside the official pantheon occasionally incarnated in lists offered up by institutions like the American Film Institute and The New York Times, every film lover carries around a more subjective canon, an ever-shifting, impressionistic personal cinematheque. That horror movie that gave you nightmares as a child. The love story you saw on your first date with the love of your life. The dramas that ended or started friendships, soothed you in your lonely moments or made the loneliness more acute. The westerns that taught you something about courage or treachery, the comedies that schooled you in sex, the epics and biopics that overshadowed what you learned in history class.
No one, not even professional critics, lives through film history in proper chronological order. Two of the best, most lavishly praised movies of the past decade were “Le Cercle Rouge” and “Army of Shadows,” crepuscular classics by the great French director Jean-Pierre Melville that had fallen through the cracks of the distribution system back in 1969 and 1970, when they were made. And when Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis,” an anti-utopian, early science-fiction monument desecrated in its own time and venerated ever after, appeared in a restored and expanded version, its timeliness was at least as striking as its durability. The best new movies carry intimations of permanence along with their novelty and very quickly start to seem as if they had been around all along.
Perhaps the easiest and most satisfying way to make sense of the unruly cinematic abundance of the past 10 years is to sift through it for masters and masterpieces, kicking the tires to see what has been built to last. Whatever else was going on, a handful of great filmmakers made a handful of great films, just as in other decades. Steven Spielberg, freed in the ’90s by the successes of “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan” from the burden of importance, made a series of bracingly imaginative entertainments — “Minority Report,” “Catch Me if You Can,” “War of the Worlds,” “Munich” and “The Terminal” in addition to “A.I.” — that were both nimble and deeply resonant. Clint Eastwood, in his 70s, entered the most prolific and diverse phase of his career as a director, breathing new life into long-established Hollywood genres, including the boxing picture (“Million Dollar Baby”), the crime thriller (“Mystic River”) and the combat epic (“Letters From Iwo Jima”). Martin Scorsese collected his overdue Academy Award for “The Departed”; Joel and Ethan Coen won their first Best Picture Oscar, for “No Country for Old Men,” in the midst of popping out a film a year. Gus Van Sant, Robert Altman, P. T. Anderson, Spike Jonze, Spike Lee, Steven Soderbergh, Todd Haynes. The canon of American cinema, since the early ’60s a catalog of acknowledged auteurs, expanded significantly in the new century.
Outside Hollywood, Pedro Almodóvar continued to mature into the post-sexual-revolution cinema’s most exalted and authentic exponent of the melodramatic tradition. In France, the geriatric New Wave generation (Rohmer, Rivette, Resnais, Chabrol) proved remarkably spry, even as a middle generation, including Claire Denis, Olivier Assayas and others, competed with the old-timers for prizes and attention. Every year, the Cannes Film Festival, the leading world-heritage site for the veneration of filmmakers, presented a remarkably consistent roll call of directorial renown. Wong Kar-wai, Michael Haneke, Lars von Trier, Abbas Kiarostami, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. These may not be household names even in movie-mad American households, but they are inscribed in the registry of important international filmmakers.
Most critics, when they assemble their personal canons, will implicitly follow the director-centric impulses of the auteur theory, even if they retain some skepticism about the theory itself. That is, we will gravitate toward favored filmmakers, with plenty of room for argument about choices within a given body of work — why “Letters From Iwo Jima” and not “Changeling”? — as well as about the stature of particular artists. Are the Coens profligate geniuses or clever, cold-hearted pranksters? (“Both” may be the only acceptable answer.) Is Soderbergh a protean visionary or a formalist hack? (See above.) Such arguments, infinitely extendable and happily interminable, are what sustain film criticism in its various incarnations, professional and amateur, printed, blogged and tweeted.
This kind of argumentation has the double appeal of being both stimulating and fundamentally conservative. It allows us to think about cinema — a restless, constantly changing art form — as something fundamentally stable and coherent, in the way that other arts are imagined to be. And the emphasis on great directors and their masterpieces is also useful as an organizing principle for festival programs, film-studies syllabuses and museum retrospectives. It is, in other words, the institutional form of film criticism.
But defending — or assaulting — the reputations of prominent filmmakers and assessing the merits of their oeuvres is not the only, or even the dominant, way to arrive at some sense of a movie canon. This may have been the era of Spielberg and the Coens and the rest. But it is equally the age of “Gladiator” and “Harry Potter” and “The Lord of the Rings” and “Shrek” and “Saw” (and “My Dog Skip”) and a whole slew of new and rebooted superhero franchises. And also of Pixar, one of the few companies after Disney (which acquired it in 2006) to achieve something like auteur status in its own right.
In other words, the director-focused approach that is the default position for critics tends to angle away from how the audience — and not just the hypothetically unsophisticated, hype-hungry mass audience — responds to movies. It’s not exactly that critical judgment is opposed to, or out of touch with, popular taste. On the contrary, some of the most widely and ardently beloved franchise movies of the decade, like Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” and Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings,” have buttressed their directors’ claims to exalted, authorial status. But the critical habit of thinking in terms of collected works and major and minor artists does not correspond to the way viewers sample and discover their cinematic pleasures.
Or to the way we — by which I now mean the laity, not the certified members of the guild — remember them. What do we remember? Catch phrases, stars’ faces, scenes and sensations. Westerns, weepies, screwball comedies, sword-and-sandal spectacles, gritty little realist dramas. Feelings, images, themes.
The unofficial, demotic history of cinema is built out of these impressions and out of the patterns that turn movies into a warped, unignorable mirror of the world they inhabit. Unspool the 20th century in your head and most likely you see a progression of genres and styles: slapstick comedy in the teens, kohl-eyed melodrama in the ’20s, followed by gangster movies, screwball comedies, combat epics, films noirs, musicals and Technicolor westerns. The rebel Hollywood of the ’70s gives way to the blockbuster-mad ’80s, which is followed by the rise of the indies in the ’90s. And then?
And then Frodo and Spider-Man, Mumblecore and midbudget Oscar bait, Will Ferrell and Sacha Baron Cohen, “The Dark Knight” and the Transformers movies, along with everything else. Everything else including terrorism, war, political polarization, environmental anxiety and an economic bubble whose bursting cast a backward pall over the era’s extravagance, much as 9/11 seems to shadow even those pictures conceived and released before the attacks.
How else to make sense of the prevalence of revenge as a motive, a problem and a source of catharsis? It was hardly a new topic — payback has been the common currency of cowboys and samurai, rogue cops and righteous criminals, for a very long time — but in noncomic genres vengeance could seem like the only game in town. Sometimes the urge to repay blood with blood was treated with skepticism or at least with a sense of moral complication, as in “Mystic River” or “In the Bedroom” or “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada.” But the tone for mainstream commercial entertainment was set early on, when “Gladiator” won the first Best Picture Oscar of the new decade. And nearly every hero thereafter, from Aragorn and Harry Potter to Spider-Man and even the newly young Mr. Spock and the newly sad James Bond, was caught up in a Manichaean struggle defined by an endless cycle of vendetta and reprisal.
This was even true of Jesus, whose travails in Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ” played like the first act of a revenge drama, the one in which the hero is humbled as pre-emptive justification for whatever fury he comes back to unleash at the end. The violence in that film, which seemed shocking at the time, now seems fairly typical of a mainstream popular cinema saturated with images of bodily torment.
And also, perhaps, of a taste for primal, antimodern scenarios of action and reaction, in which the nuances of politics and the deliberative institutions of justice are treated with suspicion, even contempt. George Lucas’s final — which is to say middle — chapter in the “Star Wars” cycle was unusual in taking a critical view of this impulse, but not in placing it at the center of an allegorical epic. The bitterness of Anakin Skywalker, the sense of grievance asserting itself in violence, could be found in the Batman of “The Dark Knight” as well, whose voice and countenance bore a suggestive and chilling resemblance to Darth Vader.
There is something profoundly regressive in the vision of a civilization stripped down to an essentially violent core, so it is perhaps not surprising that regression of another kind provided the movies of the era with their richest vein of humor. Devotion to playthings and playmates, a fascination with bodily fluids and a queasy obsession with sex — these were what defined a movie hero not preoccupied with killing bad guys. Traditional romances and sex farces were supplanted by comedies of arrested male development, defensive glorifications of the right of boys to be boys, occasionally informed by the serious question of what it might mean to be a man.
Some of these — “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Step Brothers,” “Nacho Libre” — were among the funniest movies of the decade, but like the geek-revenge dramas and the child-friendly fantasies with which they shared box-office ascendancy, they pushed women to the edge of the frame. Movies seem to be, increasingly, for and about men and (mostly male) kids, with adult women in the marginal roles of wives and mothers, there to be avenged, resented or run to when things get too scary.
There were exceptions, of course. Five thousand movies and more, spread out over 10 years, allow for a lot of variety. Some of these will grow stranger, some more familiar. They are still out there, after all, waiting to be rediscovered and inscribed either in some future canon or in the memory banks of people who stumble across them somewhere in the digital ether. The viewing and reviewing of movies never ends but rather restarts and repeats. Here comes the mailman, with a red envelope from Netflix: a DVD of “My Dog Skip.”
A. O. Scott, a chief film critic at The Times, last wrote for the magazine about neo-neo-realism.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Having mom to dinner


Brian invited his mother over for dinner. During the course
of the meal, Brian's mother couldn't help but notice
how beautiful Brian's roommate, Jennifer, was.
Brian's Mom had long been suspicious of the platonic
relationship between Brian and Jennifer, and this had only
made her more curious.

Over the course of the evening, while watching the two
interact, she started to wonder if there was more between
Brian and Jennifer than met the eye.

Reading his mom's thoughts, Brian volunteered, 'I
know what you must be thinking, but I assure you Jennifer
and I are just roommates.'

About a week later, Jennifer came to Brian saying,
'Ever since your mother came to dinner, I've been
unable to find the beautiful silver gravy ladle. You
don't suppose she took it, do you?'

Brian said,
'Well, I doubt it, but I'll send her an e-mail
just to be sure. So he sat down and wrote:


Dear Mom,

I'm not saying that you 'did' take the gravy
ladle from the house, I'm not saying that you 'did
not' take the gravy ladle. But the fact remains that one
has been missing ever since you were here for dinner.

Love, Brian

Several days later, Brian received an email back from his
mother that read:
Dear Son,

I'm not saying that you 'do' sleep with
Jennifer, I'm not
saying that you 'do not' sleep with Jennifer. But
the fact remains that if Jennifer is sleeping in her own
bed, she would have found the gravy ladle by now.

Love, Mom


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

2 things from the times to scare you....

Afloat in the Ocean, Expanding Islands of Trash

A garbage patch in the Pacific is one of five that may be caught in giant gyres scattered in the world’s oceans.

Click here for full article

Chemicals in Our Food, and Bodies

Bisphenol A, or BPA, is linked to things like cancer, obesity, attention deficit disorder and genital abnormalities, and it’s been found in our food.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Thom Yorke remixes DOOM | Radiohead At Ease

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN Thom Yorke remixes DOOM | Radiohead At Ease

Why I can't watch SYTYCD

Because things like this exist in the world and while I'm happy dance as an art is in the mainstream it's such a small portion of the art that a LOT of people are ingesting on a large scale....

anyway, enjoy.

Friday, November 6, 2009

An Inconvenient (but semi sexy?) Truth

Wow.... score one for the fat cats. This should have been in Al Gore's Movie.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

George Carlin

While watching the Yankees beat the Phillees (an excuse for beer and nachos) I got bored an surfed over to see PBS airing the mark twain award ceremony for george carlin. The man is a genius. For example gold courses and cemetaries are in fact the biggest waste of real estate. Others people's stuff is shit and your shit is stuff. Seriously watch or listen to any of his material it all still applies. His arguments are rational, his rhetoric is undeniable, and it's funny as hell. I will share with you his ten commandments as they get whittled down to two.

----------Here is my problem with the ten commandments- why exactly are there 10?

You simply do not need ten. The list of ten commandments was artificially and deliberately inflated to get it up to ten. Here's what happened:

About 5,000 years ago a bunch of religious and political hustlers got together to try to figure out how to control people and keep them in line. They knew people were basically stupid and would believe anything they were told, so they announced that God had given them some commandments, up on a mountain, when no one was around.

Well let me ask you this- when they were making this shit up, why did they pick 10? Why not 9 or 11? I'll tell you why- because 10 sound official. Ten sounds important! Ten is the basis for the decimal system, it's a decade, it's a psychologically satisfying number (the top ten, the ten most wanted, the ten best dressed). So having ten commandments was really a marketing decision! It is clearly a bullshit list. It's a political document artificially inflated to sell better. I will now show you how you can reduce the number of commandments and come up with a list that's a little more workable and logical. I am going to use the Roman Catholic version because those were the ones I was taught as a little boy.

Let's start with the first three:




Right off the bat the first three are pure bullshit. Sabbath day? Lord's name? strange gods? Spooky language! Designed to scare and control primitive people. In no way does superstitious nonsense like this apply to the lives of intelligent civilized humans in the 21st century. So now we're down to 7. Next:


Obedience, respect for authority. Just another name for controlling people. The truth is that obedience and respect shouldn't be automatic. They should be earned and based on the parent's performance. Some parents deserve respect, but most of them don't, period. You're down to six.

Now in the interest of logic, something religion is very uncomfortable with, we're going to jump around the list a little bit.



Stealing and lying. Well actually, these two both prohibit the same kind of behavior- dishonesty. So you don't really need two you combine them and call the commandment "thou shalt not be dishonest". And suddenly you're down to 5.

And as long as we're combining I have two others that belong together:



Once again, these two prohibit the same type of behavior. In this case it is marital infidelity. The difference is- coveting takes place in the mind. But I don't think you should outlaw fantasizing about someone else's wife because what is a guy gonna think about when he's waxing his carrot? But, marital fidelity is a good idea so we're gonna keep this one and call it "thou shalt not be unfaithful". And suddenly we're down to four.

But when you think about it, honesty and fidelity are really part of the same overall value so, in truth, you could combine the two honesty commandments with the two fidelity commandments and give them simpler language, positive language instead of negative language and call the whole thing "thou shalt always be honest and faithful" and we're down to 3.


This one is just plain fuckin' stupid. Coveting your neighbor's goods is what keeps the economy going! Your neighbor gets a vibrator that plays "o come o ye faithful", and you want one too! Coveting creates jobs, so leave it alone. You throw out coveting and you're down to 2 now- the big honesty and fidelity commandment and the one we haven't talked about yet:


Murder. But when you think about it, religion has never really had a big problem with murder. More people have been killed in the name of god than for any other reason. All you have to do is look at Northern Ireland, Kashmir, the Inquisition, the Crusades, and the World Trade Center to see how seriously the religious folks take thou shalt not kill. The more devout they are, the more they see murder as being negotiable. It depends on who's doin the killin' and who's gettin' killed. So, with all of this in mind, I give you my revised list of the two commandments:

Thou shalt always be honest and faithful
to the provider of thy nookie.


Thou shalt try real hard not to kill anyone, unless of course
they pray to a different invisible man than you.

Two is all you need; Moses could have carried them down the hill in his fuckin' pocket. I wouldn't mind those folks in Alabama posting them on the courthouse wall, as long as they provided one additional commandment:

Thou shalt keep thy religion to thyself.---------------

So when comedians like Jeff dunham make light of dead Muslim terroists as a ventriloquist act or Dane cook makes up words and lowers your iq .... Remember that comedy can also challenge.

At least we still have Jon Stewart!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Some Things That Don't Make sense

The following things are all further proof that there really is no rhyme or reason to everything.
Over the past few days I have heard alot of people say to me, "everything happens for a reason."
My response has been "No. It doesn't."
That's backwards logic. Everything is contingent yes and when we look back we can see a chain of events that lead us to where we are.... yes. Does that give events reason and order? Absolutely not.
Contingency doesn't not prove logic and order in the universe. Some things are illogical and I would say that most events that occur are just entirely random.
While some may say we don't the knowledge to understand the big picture or the scope to see the whole plan. I say if you stop applying reason and undue acceptance to every event that occurs in your life, THEN you can look at the big picture and see how to make contingency work for you.
Things happen and I find lots of comfort knowing there is no reason that anything is possible. Now here's a very long article on things that we still can't explain....

*19 March 2005 by Michael Brooks
* Magazine issue 2491.

1 The placebo effect

Don't try this at home. Several times a day, for several days, you induce pain in someone. You control the pain with morphine until the final day of the experiment, when you replace the morphine with saline solution. Guess what? The saline takes the pain away.

This is the placebo effect: somehow, sometimes, a whole lot of nothing can be very powerful. Except it's not quite nothing. When Fabrizio Benedetti of the University of Turin in Italy carried out the above experiment, he added a final twist by adding naloxone, a drug that blocks the effects of morphine, to the saline. The shocking result? The pain-relieving power of saline solution disappeared.

So what is going on? Doctors have known about the placebo effect for decades, and the naloxone result seems to show that the placebo effect is somehow biochemical. But apart from that, we simply don't know.

Benedetti has since shown that a saline placebo can also reduce tremors and muscle stiffness in people with Parkinson's disease. He and his team measured the activity of neurons in the patients' brains as they administered the saline. They found that individual neurons in the subthalamic nucleus (a common target for surgical attempts to relieve Parkinson's symptoms) began to fire less often when the saline was given, and with fewer "bursts" of firing - another feature associated with Parkinson's. The neuron activity decreased at the same time as the symptoms improved: the saline was definitely doing something.

We have a lot to learn about what is happening here, Benedetti says, but one thing is clear: the mind can affect the body's biochemistry. "The relationship between expectation and therapeutic outcome is a wonderful model to understand mind-body interaction," he says. Researchers now need to identify when and where placebo works. There may be diseases in which it has no effect. There may be a common mechanism in different illnesses. As yet, we just don't know.

2 The horizon problem

OUR universe appears to be unfathomably uniform. Look across space from one edge of the visible universe to the other, and you'll see that the microwave background radiation filling the cosmos is at the same temperature everywhere. That may not seem surprising until you consider that the two edges are nearly 28 billion light years apart and our universe is only 14 billion years old.

Nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, so there is no way heat radiation could have travelled between the two horizons to even out the hot and cold spots created in the big bang and leave the thermal equilibrium we see now.

This "horizon problem" is a big headache for cosmologists, so big that they have come up with some pretty wild solutions. "Inflation", for example.

You can solve the horizon problem by having the universe expand ultra-fast for a time, just after the big bang, blowing up by a factor of 1050 in 10-33 seconds. But is that just wishful thinking? "Inflation would be an explanation if it occurred," says University of Cambridge astronomer Martin Rees. The trouble is that no one knows what could have made that happen – but see Inside inflation: after the big bang.

So, in effect, inflation solves one mystery only to invoke another. A variation in the speed of light could also solve the horizon problem - but this too is impotent in the face of the question "why?" In scientific terms, the uniform temperature of the background radiation remains an anomaly.
A variation in the speed of light could solve the problem, but this too is impotent in the face of the question 'why?'

3 Ultra-energetic cosmic rays

FOR more than a decade, physicists in Japan have been seeing cosmic rays that should not exist. Cosmic rays are particles - mostly protons but sometimes heavy atomic nuclei - that travel through the universe at close to the speed of light. Some cosmic rays detected on Earth are produced in violent events such as supernovae, but we still don't know the origins of the highest-energy particles, which are the most energetic particles ever seen in nature. But that's not the real mystery.

As cosmic-ray particles travel through space, they lose energy in collisions with the low-energy photons that pervade the universe, such as those of the cosmic microwave background radiation. Einstein's special theory of relativity dictates that any cosmic rays reaching Earth from a source outside our galaxy will have suffered so many energy-shedding collisions that their maximum possible energy is 5 × 1019 electronvolts. This is known as the Greisen-Zatsepin-Kuzmin limit.

Over the past decade, however, the University of Tokyo's Akeno Giant Air Shower Array - 111 particle detectors spread out over 100 square kilometres - has detected several cosmic rays above the GZK limit. In theory, they can only have come from within our galaxy, avoiding an energy-sapping journey across the cosmos. However, astronomers can find no source for these cosmic rays in our galaxy. So what is going on?

One possibility is that there is something wrong with the Akeno results. Another is that Einstein was wrong. His special theory of relativity says that space is the same in all directions, but what if particles found it easier to move in certain directions? Then the cosmic rays could retain more of their energy, allowing them to beat the GZK limit.

Physicists at the Pierre Auger experiment in Mendoza, Argentina, are now working on this problem. Using 1600 detectors spread over 3000 square kilometres, Auger should be able to determine the energies of incoming cosmic rays and shed more light on the Akeno results.

Alan Watson, an astronomer at the University of Leeds, UK, and spokesman for the Pierre Auger project, is already convinced there is something worth following up here. "I have no doubts that events above 1020 electronvolts exist. There are sufficient examples to convince me," he says. The question now is, what are they? How many of these particles are coming in, and what direction are they coming from? Until we get that information, there's no telling how exotic the true explanation could be.

Update: Follow the latest hunt for GZK neutrinos.
One possibility is that there is something wrong with the Akeno results. Another is that Einstein was wrong

4 Belfast homeopathy results

MADELEINE Ennis, a pharmacologist at Queen's University, Belfast, was the scourge of homeopathy. She railed against its claims that a chemical remedy could be diluted to the point where a sample was unlikely to contain a single molecule of anything but water, and yet still have a healing effect. Until, that is, she set out to prove once and for all that homeopathy was bunkum.

In her most recent paper, Ennis describes how her team looked at the effects of ultra-dilute solutions of histamine on human white blood cells involved in inflammation. These "basophils" release histamine when the cells are under attack. Once released, the histamine stops them releasing any more. The study, replicated in four different labs, found that homeopathic solutions - so dilute that they probably didn't contain a single histamine molecule - worked just like histamine. Ennis might not be happy with the homeopaths' claims, but she admits that an effect cannot be ruled out.

So how could it happen? Homeopaths prepare their remedies by dissolving things like charcoal, deadly nightshade or spider venom in ethanol, and then diluting this "mother tincture" in water again and again. No matter what the level of dilution, homeopaths claim, the original remedy leaves some kind of imprint on the water molecules. Thus, however dilute the solution becomes, it is still imbued with the properties of the remedy.

You can understand why Ennis remains sceptical. And it remains true that no homeopathic remedy has ever been shown to work in a large randomised placebo-controlled clinical trial. But the Belfast study (Inflammation Research, vol 53, p 181) suggests that something is going on. "We are," Ennis says in her paper, "unable to explain our findings and are reporting them to encourage others to investigate this phenomenon." If the results turn out to be real, she says, the implications are profound: we may have to rewrite physics and chemistry.

5 Dark matter

TAKE our best understanding of gravity, apply it to the way galaxies spin, and you'll quickly see the problem: the galaxies should be falling apart. Galactic matter orbits around a central point because its mutual gravitational attraction creates centripetal forces. But there is not enough mass in the galaxies to produce the observed spin.

Vera Rubin, an astronomer working at the Carnegie Institution's department of terrestrial magnetism in Washington DC, spotted this anomaly in the late 1970s. The best response from physicists was to suggest there is more stuff out there than we can see. The trouble was, nobody could explain what this "dark matter" was.

And they still can't. Although researchers have made many suggestions about what kind of particles might make up dark matter, there is no consensus. It's an embarrassing hole in our understanding. Astronomical observations suggest that dark matter must make up about 90 per cent of the mass in the universe, yet we are astonishingly ignorant what that 90 per cent is.

Maybe we can't work out what dark matter is because it doesn't actually exist. That's certainly the way Rubin would like it to turn out. "If I could have my pick, I would like to learn that Newton's laws must be modified in order to correctly describe gravitational interactions at large distances," she says. "That's more appealing than a universe filled with a new kind of sub-nuclear particle."

Update: Some scientists are trying to create the stuff themselves. See Let there be dark matter.
If the results turn out to be real, the implications are profound. We may have to rewrite physics and chemistry

6 Viking's methane

JULY 20, 1976. Gilbert Levin is on the edge of his seat. Millions of kilometres away on Mars, the Viking landers have scooped up some soil and mixed it with carbon-14-labelled nutrients. The mission's scientists have all agreed that if Levin's instruments on board the landers detect emissions of carbon-14-containing methane from the soil, then there must be life on Mars.

Viking reports a positive result. Something is ingesting the nutrients, metabolising them, and then belching out gas laced with carbon-14.

So why no party?

Because another instrument, designed to identify organic molecules considered essential signs of life, found nothing. Almost all the mission scientists erred on the side of caution and declared Viking's discovery a false positive. But was it?

The arguments continue to rage, but results from NASA's latest rovers show that the surface of Mars was almost certainly wet in the past and therefore hospitable to life. And there is plenty more evidence where that came from, Levin says. "Every mission to Mars has produced evidence supporting my conclusion. None has contradicted it."

Levin stands by his claim, and he is no longer alone. Joe Miller, a cell biologist at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, has re-analysed the data and he thinks that the emissions show evidence of a circadian cycle. That is highly suggestive of life.

Levin is petitioning ESA and NASA to fly a modified version of his mission to look for "chiral" molecules. These come in left or right-handed versions: they are mirror images of each other. While biological processes tend to produce molecules that favour one chirality over the other, non-living processes create left and right-handed versions in equal numbers. If a future mission to Mars were to find that Martian "metabolism" also prefers one chiral form of a molecule to the other, that would be the best indication yet of life on Mars.

Update: Also see our Top 10 controversial pieces of evidence for extraterrestrial life.
Something on Mars is ingesting nutrients, metabolising them and then belching out radioactive methane

7 Tetraneutrons

FOUR years ago, a particle accelerator in France detected six particles that should not exist (see Ghost in the atom). They are called tetraneutrons: four neutrons that are bound together in a way that defies the laws of physics.

Francisco Miguel Marquès and colleagues at the Ganil accelerator in Caen are now gearing up to do it again. If they succeed, these clusters may oblige us to rethink the forces that hold atomic nuclei together.

The team fired beryllium nuclei at a small carbon target and analysed the debris that shot into surrounding particle detectors. They expected to see evidence for four separate neutrons hitting their detectors. Instead the Ganil team found just one flash of light in one detector. And the energy of this flash suggested that four neutrons were arriving together at the detector. Of course, their finding could have been an accident: four neutrons might just have arrived in the same place at the same time by coincidence. But that's ridiculously improbable.

Not as improbable as tetraneutrons, some might say, because in the standard model of particle physics tetraneutrons simply can't exist. According to the Pauli exclusion principle, not even two protons or neutrons in the same system can have identical quantum properties. In fact, the strong nuclear force that would hold them together is tuned in such a way that it can't even hold two lone neutrons together, let alone four. Marquès and his team were so bemused by their result that they buried the data in a research paper that was ostensibly about the possibility of finding tetraneutrons in the future (Physical Review C, vol 65, p 44006).

And there are still more compelling reasons to doubt the existence of tetraneutrons. If you tweak the laws of physics to allow four neutrons to bind together, all kinds of chaos ensues (Journal of Physics G, vol 29, L9). It would mean that the mix of elements formed after the big bang was inconsistent with what we now observe and, even worse, the elements formed would have quickly become far too heavy for the cosmos to cope. "Maybe the universe would have collapsed before it had any chance to expand," says Natalia Timofeyuk, a theorist at the University of Surrey in Guildford, UK.

There are, however, a couple of holes in this reasoning. Established theory does allow the tetraneutron to exist - though only as a ridiculously short-lived particle. "This could be a reason for four neutrons hitting the Ganil detectors simultaneously," Timofeyuk says. And there is other evidence that supports the idea of matter composed of multiple neutrons: neutron stars. These bodies, which contain an enormous number of bound neutrons, suggest that as yet unexplained forces come into play when neutrons gather en masse.

8 The Pioneer anomaly

THIS is a tale of two spacecraft. Pioneer 10 was launched in 1972; Pioneer 11 a year later. By now both craft should be drifting off into deep space with no one watching. However, their trajectories have proved far too fascinating to ignore.

That's because something has been pulling - or pushing - on them, causing them to speed up. The resulting acceleration is tiny, less than a nanometre per second per second. That's equivalent to just one ten-billionth of the gravity at Earth's surface, but it is enough to have shifted Pioneer 10 some 400,000 kilometres off track. NASA lost touch with Pioneer 11 in 1995, but up to that point it was experiencing exactly the same deviation as its sister probe. So what is causing it?

Nobody knows. Some possible explanations have already been ruled out, including software errors, the solar wind or a fuel leak. If the cause is some gravitational effect, it is not one we know anything about. In fact, physicists are so completely at a loss that some have resorted to linking this mystery with other inexplicable phenomena.

Bruce Bassett of the University of Portsmouth, UK, has suggested that the Pioneer conundrum might have something to do with variations in alpha, the fine structure constant. Others have talked about it as arising from dark matter - but since we don't know what dark matter is, that doesn't help much either. "This is all so maddeningly intriguing," says Michael Martin Nieto of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. "We only have proposals, none of which has been demonstrated."

Nieto has called for a new analysis of the early trajectory data from the craft, which he says might yield fresh clues. But to get to the bottom of the problem what scientists really need is a mission designed specifically to test unusual gravitational effects in the outer reaches of the solar system. Such a probe would cost between $300 million and $500 million and could piggyback on a future mission to the outer reaches of the solar system (

"An explanation will be found eventually," Nieto says. "Of course I hope it is due to new physics - how stupendous that would be. But once a physicist starts working on the basis of hope he is heading for a fall." Disappointing as it may seem, Nieto thinks the explanation for the Pioneer anomaly will eventually be found in some mundane effect, such as an unnoticed source of heat on board the craft.

Update: see Computer sleuths try to crack Pioneer anomaly.

9 Dark energy

IT IS one of the most famous, and most embarrassing, problems in physics. In 1998, astronomers discovered that the universe is expanding at ever faster speeds. It's an effect still searching for a cause - until then, everyone thought the universe's expansion was slowing down after the big bang. "Theorists are still floundering around, looking for a sensible explanation," says cosmologist Katherine Freese of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. "We're all hoping that upcoming observations of supernovae, of clusters of galaxies and so on will give us more clues."

One suggestion is that some property of empty space is responsible - cosmologists call it dark energy. But all attempts to pin it down have fallen woefully short. It's also possible that Einstein's theory of general relativity may need to be tweaked when applied to the very largest scales of the universe. "The field is still wide open," Freese says.

Update: see Superconductors inspire quantum test for dark energy, and Dark energy: Seeking the heart of darkness.

10 The Kuiper cliff

IF YOU travel out to the far edge of the solar system, into the frigid wastes beyond Pluto, you'll see something strange. Suddenly, after passing through the Kuiper belt, a region of space teeming with icy rocks, there's nothing.

Astronomers call this boundary the Kuiper cliff, because the density of space rocks drops off so steeply. What caused it? The only answer seems to be a 10th planet. We're not talking about Quaoar or Sedna: this is a massive object, as big as Earth or Mars, that has swept the area clean of debris.

The evidence for the existence of "Planet X" is compelling, says Alan Stern, an astronomer at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. But although calculations show that such a body could account for the Kuiper cliff (Icarus, vol 160, p 32), no one has ever seen this fabled 10th planet.

There's a good reason for that. The Kuiper belt is just too far away for us to get a decent view. We need to get out there and have a look before we can say anything about the region. And that won't be possible for another decade, at least. NASA's New Horizons probe, which will head out to Pluto and the Kuiper belt, is scheduled for launch in January 2006. It won't reach Pluto until 2015, so if you are looking for an explanation of the vast, empty gulf of the Kuiper cliff, watch this space.

11 The Wow signal

IT WAS 37 seconds long and came from outer space. On 15 August 1977 it caused astronomer Jerry Ehman, then of Ohio State University in Columbus, to scrawl "Wow!" on the printout from Big Ear, Ohio State's radio telescope in Delaware. And 28 years later no one knows what created the signal. "I am still waiting for a definitive explanation that makes sense," Ehman says.

Coming from the direction of Sagittarius, the pulse of radiation was confined to a narrow range of radio frequencies around 1420 megahertz. This frequency is in a part of the radio spectrum in which all transmissions are prohibited by international agreement. Natural sources of radiation, such as the thermal emissions from planets, usually cover a much broader sweep of frequencies. So what caused it?

The nearest star in that direction is 220 light years away. If that is where is came from, it would have had to be a pretty powerful astronomical event - or an advanced alien civilisation using an astonishingly large and powerful transmitter.

The fact that hundreds of sweeps over the same patch of sky have found nothing like the Wow signal doesn't mean it's not aliens. When you consider the fact that the Big Ear telescope covers only one-millionth of the sky at any time, and an alien transmitter would also likely beam out over the same fraction of sky, the chances of spotting the signal again are remote, to say the least.

Others think there must be a mundane explanation. Dan Wertheimer, chief scientist for the SETI@home project, says the Wow signal was almost certainly pollution: radio-frequency interference from Earth-based transmissions. "We've seen many signals like this, and these sorts of signals have always turned out to be interference," he says. The debate continues.

Update: see Top 10 controversial pieces of evidence for extraterrestrial life.
It was either a powerful astronomical event - or an advanced alien civilisation beaming out a signal
12 Not-so-constant constants

IN 1997 astronomer John Webb and his team at the University of New South Wales in Sydney analysed the light reaching Earth from distant quasars. On its 12-billion-year journey, the light had passed through interstellar clouds of metals such as iron, nickel and chromium, and the researchers found these atoms had absorbed some of the photons of quasar light - but not the ones they were expecting.

If the observations are correct, the only vaguely reasonable explanation is that a constant of physics called the fine structure constant, or alpha, had a different value at the time the light passed through the clouds.

But that's heresy. Alpha is an extremely important constant that determines how light interacts with matter - and it shouldn't be able to change. Its value depends on, among other things, the charge on the electron, the speed of light and Planck's constant. Could one of these really have changed?

No one in physics wanted to believe the measurements. Webb and his team have been trying for years to find an error in their results. But so far they have failed.

Webb's are not the only results that suggest something is missing from our understanding of alpha. A recent analysis of the only known natural nuclear reactor, which was active nearly 2 billion years ago at what is now Oklo in Gabon, also suggests something about light's interaction with matter has changed.

The ratio of certain radioactive isotopes produced within such a reactor depends on alpha, and so looking at the fission products left behind in the ground at Oklo provides a way to work out the value of the constant at the time of their formation. Using this method, Steve Lamoreaux and his colleagues at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico suggest that alpha may have decreased by more than 4 per cent since Oklo started up (Physical Review D, vol 69, p 121701).

There are gainsayers who still dispute any change in alpha. Patrick Petitjean, an astronomer at the Institute of Astrophysics in Paris, led a team that analysed quasar light picked up by the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile and found no evidence that alpha has changed. But Webb, who is now looking at the VLT measurements, says that they require a more complex analysis than Petitjean's team has carried out. Webb's group is working on that now, and may be in a position to declare the anomaly resolved - or not - later this year.

"It's difficult to say how long it's going to take," says team member Michael Murphy of the University of Cambridge. "The more we look at these new data, the more difficulties we see." But whatever the answer, the work will still be valuable. An analysis of the way light passes through distant molecular clouds will reveal more about how the elements were produced early in the universe's history.

Update: No such thing as a constant constant?

13 Cold fusion

AFTER 16 years, it's back. In fact, cold fusion never really went away. Over a 10-year period from 1989, US navy labs ran more than 200 experiments to investigate whether nuclear reactions generating more energy than they consume - supposedly only possible inside stars - can occur at room temperature. Numerous researchers have since pronounced themselves believers.

With controllable cold fusion, many of the world's energy problems would melt away: no wonder the US Department of Energy is interested. In December, after a lengthy review of the evidence, it said it was open to receiving proposals for new cold fusion experiments.

That's quite a turnaround. The DoE's first report on the subject, published 15 years ago, concluded that the original cold fusion results, produced by Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons of the University of Utah and unveiled at a press conference in 1989, were impossible to reproduce, and thus probably false.

The basic claim of cold fusion is that dunking palladium electrodes into heavy water - in which oxygen is combined with the hydrogen isotope deuterium - can release a large amount of energy. Placing a voltage across the electrodes supposedly allows deuterium nuclei to move into palladium's molecular lattice, enabling them to overcome their natural repulsion and fuse together, releasing a blast of energy. The snag is that fusion at room temperature is deemed impossible by every accepted scientific theory.
Cold fusion would make the world's energy problems melt away. No wonder the Department of Energy is interested

That doesn't matter, according to David Nagel, an engineer at George Washington University in Washington DC. Superconductors took 40 years to explain, he points out, so there's no reason to dismiss cold fusion. "The experimental case is bulletproof," he says. "You can't make it go away."

Friday, October 2, 2009

We're all the same

We're not so different you and I.... said the monkey to the bum

Friday, September 4, 2009

I applied to 8 jobs in 48 hours.... then I read something like this

Unemployment Hits 9.7%, but Job Loss Slows in August

Employers eliminated 216,000 jobs in August even as the larger American economy showed signs of turning around, suggesting that while the pace of job losses continues to slow, workers will still be among the last to benefit from a recovery.

The unemployment rate, calculated in a separate survey, resumed its climb last month after a dip in July, rising to 9.7 percent from 9.4 percent, the Labor Department reported on Friday in its monthly snapshot of the job market.

As factories slowly begin to ramp up production and businesses start to restock their shelves, economists anticipate that losses will dwindle and that employers could begin creating jobs by late this year or early 2010. But most forecasters — and White House officials — still expect the unemployment rate to reach 10 percent or higher.

“The job market is in for a slog,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s “It’s going to be slow, incremental improvement, and it’s the reason why the broader recovery’s going to be very fragile.”

Signs of weakness filled the report. Overtime hours were unchanged from a month earlier, and the length of the workweek was flat. Temporary employment services, among the first to hire after a recession, cut 6,500 jobs. And the rate of manufacturing job losses increased from a month earlier.

Still, Obama administration officials greeted the lower number of job losses as more evidence that the $787 billion stimulus was making a mark on the economy.

“The overall message in these numbers is that we’re headed in the right direction but we’re far from out of the woods,” said Jared Bernstein, an economic adviser to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. “There are simply too many Americans seeking work, and that means too many families struggling with a job market that remains well behind the curve.”

Economists had foreseen 230,000 job losses for the month, and expected the unemployment rate to hit 9.5 percent. The government also revised monthly job losses for July higher, saying the economy had shed 276,000 jobs compared with the 247,000 that had originally been reported. The June number was revised to 463,000 job losses from 443,000.

Over all, the figures evinced a dreary landscape.

Average hourly earnings rose by 6 cents in August, to a seasonally adjusted $18.65 an hour, and average weekly earnings edged up to $617.32 from $615.33 in July. And the median time workers are unemployed fell slightly, to 15.4 weeks.

Economists said the slower pace of job losses provided another sign that the recession was losing steam. The nation’s economic output is expected to rebound over the rest of the year after four quarters of contraction, and the housing market is gradually getting back onto its feet.

But economists say employers must create 300,000 to 400,000 jobs a month to bring unemployment rates back to pre-recession levels — a difficult hurdle after such a prolonged downturn.

“High unemployment rates are going to be with us for quite a while,” Michael Feroli, an economist at JPMorgan Chase, said. “It’s going to be a long, long time before we see 6 percent or 7 percent unemployment.”

Months — or years — of a lackluster job market could further strain the finances of the country’s approximately 15 million unemployed, constraining their spending and putting them at greater risk of home foreclosure or default on credit cards or auto loans.

Some 128,000 manufacturing and construction jobs evaporated in August, and businesses ranging from financial companies to retailers to restaurants appeared poised to continue cutting positions through the end of the year, economists said.

And some 20 months into the recession, people like Ginny Hoover of Williamsburg, Va., are beginning to use up their unemployment benefits, their extended benefits and even their emergency payments from the government.

Ms. Hoover, 49, said she had been unable to find any work beyond the offer of a commission-only job selling life insurance door to door since she lost her job at a pharmaceutical company in November 2007, a month before the recession began. To get by, she maxed out her credit cards, borrowed money from friends and broke her apartment lease and moved into a free rental unit owned by her boyfriend.

“It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been almost two years,” said Ms. Hoover, who is now pursuing certification as a legal assistant. “I thought maybe a month or two and I’d have another job. I never would have guessed that it would be as brutal as it was out there.”

But the loss of 216,000 jobs in August, while grim by normal standards, underscored how far the economy had come from its worst days, when an average of 691,000 jobs were lost each month in the first quarter. Economists credited the stimulus plan and other rescue efforts by the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve with stabilizing the economy and slowing job losses.

“They ended the credit crisis,” Robert Barbera, chief economist at ITG, said. “Banks are functioning. You’re got some pop from the clunker program. They get high marks in those areas. It’s a real tough labor market, one of the toughest in the postwar period, but it simply looks better than it did six months ago.”

But struggling workers like Donna Angelillo, 49, of Del Ray Beach, Fla., say they have not seen any signs of improvement. Ms. Angelillo lost her job as a property manager in May and burned through her savings in two months. Her $1,000 monthly unemployment check does not even cover her $1,030 monthly rent, and Ms. Angelillo said her late bills were reaching a critical stage.

“‘I don’t have September rent, but right now I’m more concerned about the electricity,” she said. “Either today or tomorrow, they’re going to shut it off. I’m getting desperate.”

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Less sex, more TV idea aired in India

"Not tonight honey the sham-wow guy is trying to sell me a chop-matic"

By Sara Sidner

UTTAR PRADESH, India (CNN) -- On World Population Day this year India's new health and welfare minister came out with an idea on how to tackle the population issue: Bring electricity to every Indian village so that people would watch television until late at night and therefore be too tired to make babies.

That statement raised eyebrows across this vast country -- but what are the realities and reactions from families who make up the second largest population in the world?

At 80-plus years old Omar Mohammed has never heard of population control.

He lives in India's most populous state Uttar Pradesh and has certainly done his part in contributing to India's burgeoning population.

"Now you see I have 24 children, 13 boys and 11 girls," Omar says.

Omar believes only God can decide how many children you should have. He lifts his hands to the sky and says: "This is His command. It's not my doing, it's His doing."

On the other hand there's the Arora family in the capital city of Delhi. They have two children.

"You can't even get enough water or electricity now. So its advisable that people have only two children and then they should stop having more kids." mother Anjana Arora says.

The Aroras know a little something about population issues; their daughter was given the official title of India's one billionth citizen when she was born in 2000.

With family planning and free contraceptive programs the Indian government has long tried to encourage families to have only two children.

Overall government statistics show the birth rate is coming down. The numbers show 14 of India's 35 states have reached the two child per family target.

But the push is failing in other states, especially in villages and among the poor and illiterate where the fertility rate is as high as 3.5 children per woman.

There are all kinds of reasons -- from the desire to continue having children until a son is born to lack of access to contraceptives.

The government's concern is that a booming population will further test already scarce resources, greatly impact the environment, and make life even harder for the poor.

According to the United Nations, India is home to 50 percent of the world's poor and on current projections, India will become the most populous country on earth sometime in the next 50 years, overtaking China.

Upon hearing about the latest idea to use electricity and television to give people something else to do besides procreate, mom Anjana Arora scoffed.

"That's a stupid thing" she said in English then switched to Hindi "The only way to change people's mentality is through education."

But not everyone is writing the idea off. "It's an idea that can really work." says A.R. Nanda.

Years ago Nanda helped draft some of India's population stabilization policies and he now runs the Population Foundation of India.

He says while education and access to health care is paramount, electrifying villages is not a bad idea.

"It gives a message loud and clear that we need to do something for the people which is people-friendly and which in a way will keep their minds from taking irrational decisions about producing more babies," Nanda says.

He says there are studies that prove it. One such survey done in 2006 by an Italian sexologist reveals couples with televisions in their bedrooms had sex half as much as those without it.

That being said Omar Mohammed, the man with 24 children had a different take.

"After watching TV," he says, "when we look at scintillating things we will probably want to make more children."

Find this article at:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

As much as I hate to link to the New York Post.....


August 12, 2009 --

SPIDER-MAN has vanquished Green Goblin, Electro, Doc Ock and Lizard.

But when it comes to the greatest supervillain of them all -- The Riedeler -- Spidey has met his match.

The $45 million "Spider-Man," directed by Julie Taymor and written by Bono and The Edge, is caught in my net, and I can report today that escape is virtually impossible.


Last week, production crews at both the Hilton Theatre and the scene shop where the show was being built were put on "hiatus" because the producers ran out of money. Assistants in the scene shop "ran to the bank to cash their checks because they weren't sure they'd clear," a source says.

Now comes word that the actors have been released from their contracts, with no incentive (i.e., money) to hang around waiting for the production to get back on track.

Meanwhile, ticket agents are desperately trying to get refunds for deposits from theater parties that booked early previews.

"I hope they don't stiff us the way Garth Drabinsky did," says one ticket agent, referring to the disgraced impresario recently sentenced in Toronto to seven years in jail.

A desperate attempt was made last week to save "Spider-Man" by bringing in a couple of veteran producers. But they're too smart to get involved in what's turning out to be the biggest fiasco in Broadway history.

And so, while the official line is "the production will begin previews on Feb. 25, 2010," the betting is that the Hilton Theatre, whose insides have been gutted for this show, is going to be an empty barn this winter.

"Spider-Man" has been in trouble from the beginning, done in by the inexperience of its producers -- Sony, Marvel Comics and David Garfinkle, a Chicago lawyer who, sources say, had almost no Broadway experience.

"He was in over his head," a source says.

Taymor, the director of "The Lion King," conceived of "Spider-Man" as an "installation show," something big and bold and full of special effects. Something, in other words, like Cirque du Soleil.

That's fine if you're going to put the damn thing up in Las Vegas, where "installation shows" run several times a day and are funded in large part by hotels and casinos.

But at $45 million -- and with a weekly running cost of almost $900,000 -- "Spider-Man" at the 1,700-seat Hilton could never be profitable.

The show would have to run five years, selling every single seat in the house, to just break even.

"That," says a source who crunched the numbers, "is insane."

Artistically, it's impossible to tell if "Spider-Man" is any good.

The designs for the sets and costumes that I saw were impressive, and some of U2's songs weren't bad -- moody and melodic, if not all that theatrical -- but even people working on the show weren't quite sure what it was going to be like.

"A lot of it seems to exist only in Julie's head," one source says.

Which may be where it remains for a long, long time.

Read it here at the NYP

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Take A Piss Save A Tree

New TV ads are encouraging Brazilians to save water – by urinating in the shower.

Brazilian environmental group SOS Mata Atlantica says the campaign, running on several television stations, uses humor to persuade people to reduce flushes.

The group says if a household avoids one flush a day, it can save up to 4,380 liters (1,157 gallons) of water annually.

SOS spokeswoman Adriana Kfouri said Tuesday that the ad is "a way to be playful about a serious subject."

The spot features cartoon drawings of people from all walks of life - a trapeze artist, a basketball player, even an alien – urinating in the shower.

Narrated by children's voices, the ad ends with: "Pee in the shower! Save the Atlantic rainforest!"

- AP

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cambodia cancels landmine pageant

A beauty pageant for landmine victims has been cancelled by the Cambodian government, which branded it an insult to disabled people.

Authorities said the contest, due to launch on Friday, would damage "the dignity and honour" of participants.

Twenty women were to have competed for the title of Miss Landmine and the prize of a high-tech prosthetic limb.

Norwegian organiser Morten Traavik expressed disappointment, but said the contest would go ahead on the internet.

He said the result would be announced on 31 December. The website shows photos of the contestants, with missing limbs, wearing crowns and dresses. They are aged from 18 to 48.

Between four and six million landmines are thought to have been laid in Cambodia during its three decades of civil war.


Mr Traavik - who launched the first Miss Landmine pageant in Angola two years ago - said his contest was intended to raise awareness about the issue and empower those whose lives had been affected by the explosive devices.

"I'm not looking forward to breaking the news to the 20 candidates involved, as I know they will be very disappointed in the lack of support from Cambodian authorities," he told AFP news agency.

Photographs of the participants were to have been shown in an exhibition in the capital, Phnom Penh.

But government spokesman Khieu Khanarith said the competition would "make a mockery of Cambodia's landmine victims".

"The government does not support this contest," he said.

Government and NGO teams are working to clear the country's landmines, but swathes of contaminated land remain in western border regions.

In 2007, more than 350 people were killed or injured in blasts from landmines or unexploded ordnance, Landmine Monitor said.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/08/03 16:10:34 GMT


Sunday, August 2, 2009

And you thought playing with your wii was fun?

Microsoft has announced it's new "controller"less gaming system for xbox.
Check out the product vision below......
Eat your heart out Wii.

I mean how awesome does this look????

imagine combining it with a game like say this

And while yes I may be letting my nerd flag fly a little bit.... but a controller-less system is still pretty cool...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Subway Stories 3

Hip chick, early twenties. Piercings, ink, and ipod. Sucking her thumb.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Two NJ Mayors and some Rabbis walk into a courthouse...

Mayors of Hoboken, Secaucus, Several Rabbis Arrested (Update4)

The mayors of Hoboken, Ridgefield and Secaucus, New Jersey, and several rabbis are among at least 30 people arrested today as part of a public corruption and money-laundering investigation by U.S. authorities.

Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano, 32, Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell, 64, Ridgefield Mayor Anthony Suarez, 42, all Democrats, Jersey City Council President Mariano Vega Jr., 59, and State Assemblyman Daniel Van Pelt, 44, a Republican from Ocean Township, were arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. They are scheduled to appear in federal court in Newark, New Jersey, later today.

“Approximately 30 arrests have occurred this morning in a two-track federal investigation of public corruption and a high- volume, international money-laundering conspiracy,” Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra, said in a statement.

The roundup of suspects is one of the largest ever in New Jersey, where more than 100 public officials have been convicted of corruption in the past few years. Prosecutors worked with an undercover witness who had been charged with bank fraud in May 2006, according to FBI criminal complaints.

Cammarano, Hoboken’s youngest mayor, was sworn in July 1. Former state Assemblyman Louis Manzo, 54, a Democrat from Jersey City, Leona Beldini, a deputy mayor of Jersey City, and several rabbis in New York and New Jersey were among those arrested.

Rabbis Named

The rabbis included Saul Kassin, 87, chief rabbi of Sharee Zion, a synagogue in Brooklyn, New York; Eliahu Ben Haim, 58, the principal rabbi of Congregation Ohel Yaacob in Deal, New Jersey; Edmond Nahum, 56, of Deal Synagogue in Deal; Mordchai Fish, 56, of Congregation Sheves Achim in Brooklyn; and Lavel Schwartz, 57, Fish’s brother. They were charged with money laundering.

Levy-Izhak Rosenbaum, 58, of Brooklyn was accused of conspiring with others to acquire and trade human organs for use in transplantation. Rosenbaum, who was “purportedly” involved in real estate, was approached by a cooperating witness and an undercover FBI agent about buying a human kidney from a human organ broker, according to the complaint.

Rosenbaum said it would cost $150,000, with half payable up front, according to the complaint. Rosenbaum said some of the money would go to the donor and some to doctors in Israel, according to the complaint.

‘It’s Illegal’

“One of the reasons it’s so expensive is because you have to shmear (meaning pay various individuals for their assistance) all the time,” according to the complaint. “It’s illegal to buy. It’s illegal to sell.”

Prosecutors charged the men in a series of criminal complaints detailing the allegations. Ben Haim was accused of laundering $1.5 million through the undercover witness, who said he “was engaged in illegal businesses and schemes including bank fraud, trafficking in counterfeit goods and concealing assets and monies in connection with bankruptcy proceedings,” according to an FBI criminal complaint.

The cooperating witness is Solomon Dwek, a real estate developer in Monmouth County, New Jersey, who was charged May 11, 2006, with scheming to defraud PNC Bank out of $50 million, according to a person familiar with the matter and court records.

Prosecutors alleged that Dwek deposited two $25 million checks from another account of his, which had a zero balance. Dwek then wired $22.8 million out of PNC, falsely assuring bank officials that he would forward funds to cover the overdraft, according to prosecutors.

Dwek posted a $10 million bond, secured by $3 million in equity in the homes of his mother-in-law and sister-in-law. Dwek was never indicted, instead receiving 17 extensions from a judge to continue the period in which his case had to be presented to a federal grand jury.

Agents today brought the suspects to FBI headquarters in Newark for processing before their appearance later today in federal court a mile away. About a dozen of the suspects were transported this morning from the FBI building in a blue bus.

A press conference is scheduled for this afternoon.

Article printed in BLOOMBERG NEWS

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What's that smell?

America is obsessed with death... let be more specific.
America is obsessed with the WHIFF of death.

The oldest man in the world, the last WWI survivor died the other day at 113. Walter Cronkite.... don't even get me started on Michael Jackson in the news.
Still don't believe me? How do you explain all the NEAR plane crashes in the news. The ones where the pilot does their job and lands the plane?

What about near car accidents? Wouldn't that be bigger news as it pertains to more people lives? No because the whiff of death is anyone else's but there own. That is a huge no no. It's a vicarious projection of fear. A cathartic release that lets us revel in this obsession from a safe distance.

We watch celebrities and normal people who we make celebrities in the media just living their life so we don't have to focus on ours, so why not watch them die as well.

I think instead of reporting on the death of celebrities and having it overtake EVERY single media outlet to the point that it overshadows EVERYTHING in the world. We make a separate public television station that only does obituaries, not just of celebrities but of everyone. It would be the easiest way to fill 24 hours worth of programming. They would never need to air reruns. And this way when someone dies they flip on DTV instead of any and every news channel fighting for ratings to the detriment of keeping the public informed.

While we are at it I think we should remind everyone daily that they too will die eventually and it will happen at any moment no matter what we do to stop it.
This is not meant to scare the living day lights out of people (pun intended) but rather to liberate them. If you have a finite amount of resources you make the most of it (look at the green movement or the current economic crisis).

People might start living their lives or at least pay attention to those living breathing bags of flesh and bone around them and less to people they will never meet who don't give a crap whether they live or die flickering on the screen in front of them.

Then again we like the smell of others people decay.

Long live schadenfreude!

Monday, July 20, 2009



Tuesday, July 14, 2009

In Atlantic City till Saturday....

Atlantic City needle-exchange program shows mixed results
by The Star-Ledger Continuous News Desk
Monday January 19, 2009, 5:44 AM

First-year statistics show Atlantic City's needle-exchange program has been highly successful in distributing clean needles, but subpar in getting drug addicts into rehabilitation, according to a report in the Press of Atlantic City.

The report said Atlantic City gave out 60,001 needles between the start of the program and Jan. 5 and 52.9 percent of Atlantic City's needles have been returned to the city's Tennessee Avenue facility - an indication that used needles are not being passed on. Atlantic City ranked last among the four New Jersey programs in drug referrals, with just 74 as of Dec. 21.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Aw *&%&^$%

BBC news reports on a study that swearing scientifically helps deal with pain by tapping into the brain's natural fight or flight response. It does say that casual swearing will lessen this effect but at least there is some provable evidence that expletives aren't entirely useless... :).

Click Here for full article

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Be Afraid

Somali-Americans Turn to Terrorism

Somalian students raised in Minneapolis are giving up dreams of becoming doctors or entrepreneurs to instead join a militant Islamist group aligned with Al Qaeda that is fighting to overthrow the shaky Somali government. The more than 20 young Americans are the focus of what may be the most significant domestic terrorism investigation since Sept. 11. One of the men, Shirwa Ahmed, blew himself up in Somalia in October, becoming the first known American suicide bomber. The men—who, growing up embraced, basketball and the prom and the Mall of America—appear to be motivated by a mix of politics, faith, and a feeling of loyalty to their homeland, and they are trying to recruit other young Americans to their cause. "This case is unlike anything we have encountered," said Ralph S. Boelter, the F.B.I. agent leading the investigation.

Read the full article HERE

" "The difference between a madman and a professional is that a pro does as well as he can within what he has set out to do and a madman does exceptionally well at what he can't help doing.” ― Charles Bukowski