Friday, April 29, 2005

The Lord of the Rings .... Condensed

Animated GIFs are the Cliffs Notes of the digital age. You heard it here first. I now present to you ... The Lord of the Rings in its entirety (that is, all three parts, but it's really quite condensed):
The image “http://www.brainwise.org/Images/lotr_c.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
I don't know the folks involved in its creation. I simply received it in my email. And the geek in me is very amused.

Friday Pet Blogging | Of Landings and Boxes

Sleepy kitty faces. Isn't that just the cutest? First up, we see Milo camped on the landing. From this slightly raised vantage point, he can easily survey Otis' activities in the dining room:
"The landing is mine ... all mine."
Otis does not have the same capacity for long term strategic planning that Milo has. But he is aware of immiediate events. For proof, just look at this photo in which we see Otis watching me as I take said picture:
"You can't box me in! Um, wait ... let me rephrase that."
What bums! Actually, they are the fastest bums around. I just have not been able to snap a photo of the Catona 500 in progress. Maybe next time ....
The Modulator has a compilation of today's pet posts from other bloggers. Previous Milo & Otis appearances on Prophet or Madman are indexed here ... just in case you missed one. And do keep your eyes peeled for the next installment of the Carnival of the Cats, served fresh every Sunday. This week's host is Running Scared.
Photo Date: April 24, 2004

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Quotable

The image “http://www.brainwise.org/Images/quoteOpen.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.What is bigger than what we are challenges us to be bigger than we have been. -- Matthew Fox, postmodern theologian

Does Abortion Fight Crime?

NOTE: Blogger hissy fit prevented this from posting yesterday. Not that my timing actually matters ... the debate over this topic has been raging for a short while ... I'm simply adding one more voice to the mix.

Does abortion fight crime? Um... not really. And not directly at any rate. There are some interesting findings for the decline in the U.S. crime rate between 1991 and 2001, but ...

Let me back up a bit.

Steven Levitt is an economist. But instead of rhapsodizing over the nuances of compounded interest, Levitt is more interested insuch real-world issues as:

What key words in a housing ad correlate with higher prices?

Which ones correlate with lower prices?

Levitt's penchant for sifting through data to find practical relationships lands him squarely in the realm of sociology, and his latest book, Freakonomics:A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, is certainly sociological to the core. And, boy, is it being hyped! (I just checked, and it is #3 in book sales at Amazon.com. When was the last time you saw an economist's book on social issues climb the bestsellers list? I'll tell you: Never!Somebody is hyping this thing somewhere). What does this any of this haveto do with abortion and crime? Well, beforethis morning, I might not have been able to attempt ananswer. But today I heard Michael Smerconish interview Mr. Levitt onhis morning radio show. I was about to switch stations when Smerconish baited me: "Next, we'll talk Freakonomics with economist Steven Levitt, who has published a book that claims the legalization of abortion is the single largest factor contributing to the declining crime rate." I actually froze and thought: Man, I gotta hear this.

Now, before I go into the segment, and relate the discussion, I want to mention the book again. I think this information will serve to explain how Levitt ended up on Smerconis's program. You see, in addition to its nifty title, Freakonomics has chapter titles that seem geared toward raising hackles, eyebrows, or both. And even if the titles fail to get a rise out of readers, the suggested answers will certainly be cause for some debate. For example:

  • Do Schoolteachers and Sumo Wrestlers Have In Common? (Answer: It's cheating, and it will surprise you)
  • How Is the Ku Klux Klan Like a Group of Real Estate Agents? (Answer: Haves abusing the have-nots)
  • Why Do Drug Dealers Still Live with Their Moms? (Answer: A strange commonality with the "You want fries with that?" crowd)
  • What Makes a Perfect Parent? (Answer: Be instead of Do)
  • Where Have All the Criminals Gone? (Answer: Roe v. Wade)
Wait! Was that last answer actually Roe v. Wade?

Yup, Levitt claims that the legalization of abortion in 1973 had the most impact on the decline of crime between 1991 and 2001. This is probably the most inflammatory topic in his book, and it is likely the sole reason that Smerconish invited Levitt to be on his show. After all, Smerconish is a conservative radio host on 1210AM in Philly -- the same station that proudly blares Rush "I'm-louder-and-righter-than-you" Limbaugh and Sean "Can-you-believe-I'm-gainfully-employed?" Hannity. Ah, but Michael Smerconish is much classier -- and more intelligent, I'll wager -- than either of those Neo-con blowhards. And while I don't always agree with him, I do appreciate the way Smerconish treats his guests (i.e., he doesn't shout them out of the studio or off the phone), and I think he is sincere in his attempts to understand a different side of an issue. Such was the case here.

After introducing Levitt with suitable fanfare to pique the interest of the show's core fans, Smerconish went right into the background of Levitt's Criminals chapter. In case you didn't know, there are many explanations for the dwindling crime rate in the 1990s -- many of which were proposed by the same folks who actually expected an increase -- ranging from "Innovative Police Tactis" to "Strong Economy" to "Tougher Gun Control". But Levitt wasn't buying into any of them. Too many, too varied. So he did a search on the LexisNexis database to find the most common theories and rank them. (In English Rules' book review, you can see the chart of explanations and the number of times each one cited). Levitt addresses each one of these commonly held reasons and debunks them all. Instead, by looking at the data, he finds that the legalization of abortion, by the Roe v. Wade case in 1973, had the biggest impact.

Some folks get into quite a twist over this. Conservatives accuse Levitt of being a callous pro-choice poster-boy who is advocating murder. Liberals, uncomfortable with some of the perceived implications of this study, say that Levitt speaks of eugenics. But, as Levitt explained on the radio, he is neither.

In the radio interview, Levitt claims he was pro-choice prior to the study but is somewhat ambivalent now. He feels strongly that his results are right: "I keep saying that if you give me 30 seconds I can help you understand this." But even he is less sure of the message it sends.

Here is more or less how he explained it on the radio (no direct quotes ... just what I remember):

You have to look at it this this way. Between 1973 and 1975, a number of unwanted children children were aborted. That is the only way to refer to aborted fetuses -- they are unwanted children. This is not a value judgment, it is a statement of fact. If the child was wanted, no abortion would have occurred. But, since free, easy, and legal abortion was (and is) available, fewer children of unwed mothers are out on the street. This means there are fewer children most likely living in poverty. This further means that, fifteen years down the road (getting into the 90s now), when those kids would have been entering adolescence -- the age for budding criminals -- they are simply not there.
It is rather oversimplified, but it makes sense. If there are fewer children being born into the conditions that foster criminal activity, then the crime rate will go down. And the fifteen year gap is probably why it has not been seriously considered before.

Now, this is not a rubber stamp on the morality or necessity of abortion. Nor is anyone, least of all Levitt, championing abortion as a means of keeping the crime rate low. It's just an interpretation of data. Levitt actually seems somewhat disappointed or saddened after finding these results. If anything, Levitt feels that the results speak volumes regarding the value of a wanted child and of having loving parents.

Me? I personally feel that Levitt's results lend much needed credence to my own philosophy that both the pro-choice and pro-life camps are not only ill-named, but they are looking at the issue entirely wrong. By focusing on abortion, both camps are missing the most important piece here: The fact that every child conceived should be a wanted child. How do we get there? If I knew that, I probably wouldn't be just another goofball with a free blog. But I think this kind of thing has to start with the parents and be continued in our learning institutions. Kids of all ages (and I am referring to college kids and young adults under the "all ages" banner here, too) need to learn to be responsible with and have respect for the reproductive powers of their bodies. This society needs to stop treating sex like a dirty activity that has to be kept under wraps. True, it is a private, intimate act. But it is also just about the most natural and beautiful thing on this planet. But all the guilt and hush-hush surrounding sex has led to a booming porn industry, increased infidelity, and soaring teen pregnancy rates. Oh, not to mention all the STDs that are now available.

Please know that I am in no way so naive as to think that I actually have a solution. Nor do I think my so-called solution will affect abortions inthe short term. But, again, I am not focusing on abortion per se. I am talking about a shift in emphasis. A positive one at that. Our wholesociety must shift focus from the legal/moral fight over abortion, and insteadfocus on people and our behavior. I want to empower people with education.

I'm talking about personal responsibility, I am talking about teaching the consequences of sex, I am talking about advocating abstinence and providing birth control. I actually believe that abortion can still be kept free, safe, and legal. But that we as a society can eventually come to a point where its use wanes to become almost unheard of.

But, you may say that I'm a dreamer and all that.

The Book in Question:

By the way, I'm still interested in the book, so I just might be looking for the unabridged audio CD that comes out May 1.

Reviews, Musings, etc. on Freakonomics and/or Related Theories:

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Needies

Needies are interactive plush dolls inspired by codependent, high-maintenance relationships. They return your kindness (your touches and squeezes) with songs and shameless flattery. Yes, they really do sing and talk:
Each Needie has a custom developed electronic nervous system that they use to talk, sing, and feel hugs.
Oh, just click the link, you know you want to!

Quotable | Sitting Correctly

The image “http://www.brainwise.org/Images/quoteOpen.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.A monk asked Yun-men: "What does ‘sitting correctly and contemplating true reality’ really mean?" Yun-men answered: "A coin lost in the river is found in the river."
-- Zen Mondo

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Darth Vader Takes on Hollywood

The Force is strong in this one.
I think I've attended meetings like this one. I'm just not going to tell you which side reflects my experience.

Monday, April 25, 2005

True Adventures in Junk Mail | The Real Michael Jackson

File Under TrueAdventuresInJunkMail [more: Flickr Photo Set]
Vote on who the real Michael Jackson is -- victim or predator -- and get a free $100.00 gift card! Riiiiight. Now as freaky as MJ is, it seems wrong that an opinion about him could net you a gift card like this. Wouldn't a fund to help victims be more appropriate than a branding campaign? And there really should be some kind of warning in the Subject line of an email that carries an image like this (click at your own risk ... really)!

True Adventures in Junk Mail | Latvia Calling

File Under TrueAdventuresInJunkMail [more: Flickr Photo Set]
Welcome to another edition of True Adventures in Junk Mail:
Click for larger image

Hmmmm... Let us count the red flags in this recruiting email. (1) It is addressed to an address I never use for job-hunting, (2) it is riddled with grammar problems such as "We are working out software", (3) the sender's email address does not seem to match the individual's stated name or the company (mail15.com does not equal necomputers.com ... or any reputable recruiter that I have heard of), and the kicker (4) they suggest making a financial "treaty" with them.

Oh riiiight. Like that's going to happen. That last item would be enough to send this message to the trash heap, but since there are over three strikes, I have to delete it as soon as possible. And that is right after I take a screen shot for posterity.

The Cult of Putin

Paul was the cute Apostle, right?
I'm definitely keeping up the Prophet side of the blog today by letting my readers know about the Cult of Putin (I'm sure all three of you will appreciate these efforts). The Madman side of the equation is fully represented by the members of said cult. Curious? Read on! There is a cult in Russia, near Nizhny Novgorod, that worships Vladimir Putin as the reincarnation of the Apostle Paul. They are some kind of Orthodox splinter group known as Russia Resurrecting -- or Rus Resurrecti. Their leader is Mother Photinia, who lives in a comfortable mansion that she says was built with voluntary contributions from her flock. Mother Phontinia's neighbors believe she is a witch and want her to be driven out. Here are some of the Rus Resurrecti beliefs:
  • Don't bother waiting for Jesus to return because the Second Coming has already happened. And if the Second Coming weren't enough for this sinful world, there are [currently] seven Sons of God and seven antichrists on the planet.
  • Putin is the reincarnation of the Apostle Paul. Like St. Paul 2000 years ago, Putin has come to the world to convert as many people as possible to the real faith.
  • Alexy II, a Russian Patriarch, is Pontius Pilatus: His new mission ... is to protect the new Christ and keep him from a second crucifixion.
Oh, and did I mention that Mother Photinia was involved in fraud cases in the 90s? And that she has spent time behind bars? No doubt this prepared her to suffer for her beliefs.

Stupid Things That Grab My Mind and Won't Let Go

For the past hour or so, my brain has had the following ditty on repeat mode:
I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing... [more]
Yep, that's the song I hear. That insidious soundtrack for Coca Cola just won't leave me alone today. I can't be certain as to how it forced its way into my inner listening booth, but I do have my suspicions (thank you so much, Father Jake). Aside from wafting between endearingly sweet and cloyingly annoying, here are a few things you may not have known about the song (courtesy of SongFacts):
  • This was written for a Coca-Cola commercial to be sung by The New Seekers. Considered one of the most effective ads of all time, it featured a group of children from various countries singing this together on a hilltop.
  • When the commercial became a hit, radio stations got requests for the song, but the only place it could be heard was in the ad. Coke put together a group called The Hillside Singers to record a full version adapted from the commercial. The song had a country sound and hit US #13. Then they had the New Seekers record a version which was also released. Both versions were on the charts at the same time.
  • When this was made into a full length song, the line, "I'd like to buy the world a Coke, and keep it company," was replaced so radio stations would play it.
  • The original title was "True Love And Apple Pie."
  • William Backer worked for Coke's advertising agency. He was putting together radio commercials for The New Seekers to sing and came up with the line "I'd like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company" after seeing travelers at an airport having a good time over a Coke. For the story of how the Coke commercial came together, read Backer's book The Care And Feeding Of Ideas.
  • This was first used as an unsuccessful radio commercial. Backer then convinced Coke to use it in a TV spot.
  • In 1985, Coke brought this back when they introduced a new formula for their soda. "New Coke" was a huge flop, and is considered one of the biggest marketing failures ever.
Well, none of that has helped me to get this song out of my head. But if I've now infected you with it, and your mind is now singing along, then I can be somewhat happy. After all, nothing helps a bad mood like spreading it around. So welcome to my personal hell.

Monday Morning Poetry Blogging

Sonnet 29 by William Shakespeare When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes, I all alone beweep my outcast state, And trouble deaf Heaven with my bootless cries, And look upon myself, and curse my fate, Wishing me like to one more rich in hope, Featur'd like him, like him with friends possess'd, Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope, With what I most enjoy contented least: Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising, Haply I think on thee,--and then my state (Like to the lark at break of day arising From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven's gate; For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings That then I scorn to change my state with kings'.
Dedicated to Mrs. Brainwise

Quotable

The image “http://www.brainwise.org/Images/quoteOpen.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.Know that joy is rarer, more difficult and more beautiful than sadness. Once you make this all- important discovery, you must embrace joy as a moral obligation. -- André Gide (1869-1951)

Friday, April 22, 2005

An Occult Investigator's Greatest Hits

Tim Boucher, he of the Occult Investigations blog, has compiled a list of his greatest hits. This is a list of his personal favorites, his own posts, ranging from #1 (Chaotic Patterns in Divination) to #49 (Free Speech “No Big Deal” Kids Say). Good stuff!

American History in Portraits

Rising Hegemon has posted a little something called the (d)Evolution of America. One of the comments refers to the collection as "From the building of the American Constitution to it's demise in 27 pictures." Check it out.

Penguin Profiling

Denver International Airport takes security pretty seriously. TheDenverChannel.com has a short slide show of a pair of penguins that had to go through regular airport screening:
"It's not like I planned to hijack the plane to Antarctica."
Who says airport security is unimproved since 9-11? These penguins probably think things are pretty strict. I doubt either one of them could carry, let alone use, a boxcutter or a lighter. They sure can't claim to be victims of profiling. Somebody call Michael Smerconish (I think we have some material for the follow-up to Flying Blind)!

Friday Pet Blogging | Aloof

Alone with my thoughts... Milo has really come around, socially that is. But he still has a penchant for going off by himself. When Otis is downstairs watching TV with Mrs. Brainwise, Milo can usually be found lounging at the top of the stairs, just as he was this very morning:
"Sure, you can visit me ... but you'd better have a treat hidden behind that camera!"
I don't know if he is aloof, or just prefers a little peace and quiet. Sometimes I think he likes to keep track of everything. Under that theory, this spot is a good place for him to camp when I am in the home office (just beyond that door in this photo) and Mrs. Brainwise is downstairs -- typically with Otis. But he still hangs here when everyone else is watching TV, so ... OK, so my theory is pretty full of holes. It's a work in progress.
The Modulator has a compilation of today's pet posts from other bloggers. Previous Milo & Otis appearances on Prophet or Madman are indexed here ... just in case you missed one. And do keep your eyes peeled for the next installment of the Carnival of the Cats, served fresh every Sunday. This week's host is The Oubliette.
Photo Date: April 22, 2004

Friday Pet Blogging | The Tube

Kids watch an amazing amount of television. I've already blogged about Milo and Otis' favorite morning program. But Otis supplements his window viewing with an infrequent diet of evening television broadcasts:
"Oh, man, I love Animal Planet!"
Just last night, while Mrs. Brainwise was winding down with a little ER for her own R&R, a whole passel of kittens filled the screen for a commercial break. Otis was front and center, completely rapt in the whole thing in less than a second. Now, neither one of us knows how Otis even saw it. He wasn't even looking at the TV before the commercial came on -- in fact, he was on his way out of the room. But, bang, there he was, full attention on those kitties. He even got up on his hinds and pawed at the screen. It wasn't an attack; he just really wanted to play with those kitties that were running all around the TV commercial home. By the way, neither Mrs. Brainwise nor I know what product was being shilled. Heck, I don't even think Otis knows (or cares).
The Modulator has a compilation of today's pet posts from other bloggers. Previous Milo & Otis appearances on Prophet or Madman are indexed here ... just in case you missed one. And do keep your eyes peeled for the next installment of the Carnival of the Cats, served fresh every Sunday. This week's host is The Oubliette.
Photo Date: April 21, 2004

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Speaking of Bread

Don the Idea Guy, true to his calling, has found yet another nifty little invention. Behold:
the Good Bites Crustless Sandwich Cutter
Guess what. This item was created by busy mothers for busy mothers. Check out more of their stuff at the Mom Inventors, Inc. website. I don't know if there will be a market for it after that last post, but what the heck, eh?

Assassins and Bread

The image “http://twoday.net/static/mahalanobis/images/breadkill.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
It's shocking, it's true, and something must be done!

Ars Subterranea

Ars Subterranea: The Society for Creative Preservation The image “http://www.creativepreservation.org/hall.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Remember that photo essay site, Mustard Gas Party, that I posted last week. Well, I recently found out that the photographer is a member of a group called Ars Subterranea: The Society for Creative Preservation. They have quite the mission statement:

Ars Subterranea is comprised of artists, historians, and urban explorers working to create an intersection between art and architectural relics in the New York City area.

Our aim is to instigate unique perceptions of New York's history by constructing narratives around the city's forgotten relics. Ars Subterranea encourages its audiences to interact with the city's neglected and ruinous locations by recreating obscure but fascinating aspects of its urban development. Our projects include art installations, history-based scavenger hunts, unusual preservation campaigns, and much more.

Go check out their Gallery. By the way, the work of Brandon Merkel (the eye behind Mustard Gas Party) is featured there, too.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Quotable

The image “http://www.brainwise.org/Images/quoteOpen.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.The wisdom of the heart is here, just now, at any moment. It has always been here, and it is never too late to find it. The wholeness and freedom we seek is our own true nature, who we really are. Whenever we start a spiritual practice, read a spiritual book, or contemplate what it means to live well, we have begun the inevitable process of opening to this truth, the truth of life itself. -- Jack Kornfield, author and meditation teacher

Zoo to Chimp: Kick the Habit!

A South African zoo is trying to persuade its star chimpanzee to kick a bad smoking habit:

"Baby chimps pick up habits by mimicking adults and we think he started mimicking smokers at his enclosure which probably led to smokers throwing him cigarettes," spokesman Daryl Barnes told SAPA [SAPA News Agency].
Read the story here. According to the report, the chimp is actually showing signs of nicotine addiction. Human interaction has forced addiction upon this innocent animal!

Oh man, just what do you say when one species is able to corrupt another one like this? Yeesh! Well, I guess it's a good thing that the chimps didn't have access to television. Can you imagine the affect that televised advertisments for smoking might have had?

Emperor Benedictine

This pic is pretty funny. Now, I don't mean any disrespect ... honest! But ... well, click the link and you'll see.

US Troops Humiliate Member of Iraqi Parliment

Over at Informed Comment today, Juan Cole has the goods on a very bad story. And I mean bad in that it could very well cause our nation more problems in Iraq -- as well as the rest of the region. Allow me to quote a large chunk of Cole's piece here (all emphasis is mine):
A tearful member of the Iraqi parliament, Fattah al-Shaikh, stood up before other MPs and told the story of how he was attacked and detained by US troops when he attempted to enter the Green Zone, the heavily fortified area near downtown Baghdad where parliament is held and the US embassy is situated. Wire services report that he said, '“I don’t speak English and so I said to the Iraqi translator with them, ‘Tell them that I am a member of parliament’, and he replied, ‘To hell with you, we are Americans.'" ' Al-Hayat reported that al-Shaikh, a member of the Muqtada al-Sadr bloc, said the US troops put their boots on his neck and handcuffed him. The Iraqi parliament was thrown into an uproar by the account, and demanded a US apology from the highest levels of government. Others demanded that the site of parliament meetings be changed. (This is not the first complaint by a parliamentarian of being manhandled). Parliament speaker Hajim al-Hasani condemned the assault, saying that members of parliament are symbols of national honor and must be respected. Parliament adjourned on hearing the news.
You may not know this, but Iraqi male politicians rarely weep. Yes sir, nothing boosts international relations like roughing up a governmental representative from time to time.

Quotable

The image “http://www.brainwise.org/Images/quoteOpen.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.Benedict XVI is the Barry Goldwater of the Church. John Paul II was the Ronald Reagan of the Church. Am I crazy? That's how I see things.* -- Michael Smerconish, 1210AM (WPHT) Morning Radio Host * Heard during his program this morning, sometime between 7 and 8am.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

If At First You Don't Succeed...

If there ever was an example of persistence, it's this one. A repairman in Seoul, South Korea, finally passed the academic part of his driver's license exam on his 272nd attempt. Seo Sang-moon will be turning 70 years old soon. Currently, he is preparing for his road test ... Don't hold your breath.

New Food Pyramid(s)

The good 'ol one-size-fits-all approach has been dropped. Taking its place is a collection of 12 different triangle shaped guides. Different strokes, er ... guides, for different folks' nutritional needs and lifestyles. The new program was unveiled today by Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns and pear-shaped fitness guru Denise Austin, who is a member of the President's Physical Fitness and Sports Council. In a radical move obviously intended to distance herself from the maniacal Richard Simmons, Austin shouted the entire audience to their feet for a stretching session: "You burn more calories standing than sitting! Everyone up!!" Food Pyramid Web Tools

Panzer Pope!

The Pope is dead. Long live the Pope. Cardinal John Ratzinger has swept the papal election to become Pope Benedict XVI. He is the first German Cardinal to become Pope since the 11th century. Here is a sampling of chatter around some corners of the blogosphere: Not too much right now on my favorite pagan blogs (Wildhunt Blog, The Juggler, Hardscrabble Creek, etc). And the Cardinal Ratzinger Fansite is down. I don't know if that means too many fans are trying to hit it, or if too many hecklers have attacked it. So far, my favorite nickname for him is "Panzer Pope." Updates -- More Reactions and Comments:

Quotable

The image “http://www.brainwise.org/Images/quoteOpen.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.Whenever you worry ... you take an emotionalized thought and you keep running it through your mind ... and it becomes an order. If you're worrying about something going wrong, then something going wrong becomes an order. You become hypnotized by your own negative thinking. -- Gary Leffew, a former bull-riding champ, actor, stunt coordinator and consultant to HBO's Deadwood. I have paraphrased this quote from his interview on Fresh Air.

Feeling Flat?

I have been an on and off supportor of a Flat Tax rate, at least in theory. But The Modulator has given me a little more to think about. There is also a bit of Tax Time Humor. Hey, now that April 15th has passed, we can all chuckle about the IRS, right?

Monday, April 18, 2005

Professional TV Watcher

Jimmy Kimmel has initiated a search for the laziest person in America:
Do you love television? Do you love watching television? Well, how would you like the chance to get paid to watch it ALL DAY LONG? This is not a dream. This is real. You can earn big bucks in the high-growth, fast-paced world of watching TV... Be a professional TV watcher! It's the job you were born to do. [link]
Remember, this stuff is beamed all over Planet Earth. So don't tell me that it doesn't color other cultures' opinions of folks and life in the U.S. On top of that, those very same TV signals are carried out into space as well. So if you have been wondering why we have not been contacted by sentient life from another galaxy, wonder no more. It's Jimmy's fault. (And it's JR's fault that I know about this story.)

Arizona Police Want To Monkey Around

Actually, it's just the Mesa Police, and they want to add a monkey to the SWAT Team:
"Everybody laughs about it until they really start thinking about it," said Mesa Officer Sean Truelove, who builds and operates tactical robots for the suburban Phoenix SWAT team. "It would change the way we do business." Truelove is spearheading the department's request to purchase and train a capuchin monkey, considered the second smartest primate to the chimpanzee. The department is seeking about $100,000 in federal grant money to put the idea to use in Mesa SWAT operations.
All I can say is this: You do not want a SWAT-trained chimp flinging poo at you.

Ted Jesus

Sometimes visitors at Prophet or Madman might have a hard time deciding if 'ol Brainwise is a Prophet ... or a Madman. Sometimes, however, you come across a site that firmly and squarely -- oh, so squarely -- lands an individual in the "Madman" column. Behold, I present to you Ted Jesus Christ GOD:
 
Preferred Photo of Ted Jesus Christ GOD at 40 years of age that is the Second Coming of Jesus

Apparently, it's a tad too difficult to capture TJCG in focus. But that's just fine, because you can see the "preferred artiest renditions" of his other forms: the Lion of Judah, the Eagle, and his 33-year-old first appearance. If you visit the site, I have to warn that it is seriously (un)really hard to read. Let's look at some nuggets-o-wisdom and warnings that are posted there. Oh, here is a good one:
These are the Days of Ted and far too many are not taking TJCG seriously enough! Them too Possessed and Bad and Wicked and Evil are PROBLEMS for TJCG and some SECURITY PROBLEMS for TJCG! [link]
Your calendar might not be in accordance with the Ted, but there you have it. And now that you know you are living in the Days of Ted, you'd best be careful if you don't want to end up "put on a Hell world." What else does the Ted talk about? Hmmmm.... Looks like Ted's site has been bedeviled on occasion (quite literally so!):
Ted will SWEAR that and in the future if or when POLYGRAPH TESTING will TEST TO BE TELLING THE 100% TRUTH that Ted has been getting DRASTICALLY HACKED for over 7 years and keeps getting told LOUD SPIRITUALLY that this is actual Demons and that Ted is getting PROTECTED more than any Christian Church.
And speaking of spirits, the one true Ted finally clears up that whole "God in Three Persons" thing:
TJCG is God and the Holy Spirit that is represented by a Dove is actually inside of HIM while on World Earth and then HIS Spiritual when a Spiritual Living Thing.
But for all that power, there are things that the Ted can't quite do himself:
Ted and Tedians NEED for MORE Mass Media Messages and Messages and Messages SENT in EVERYTHING POSSIBLE - This is now MORE IMPORTANT than Religious Dreams and Visions and Inspiration and does NOT and CANNOT replace True Prophets or any Instances of God and these future Comings! [link]
Write Ted does as speaks Yoda, eh?
____________________
Postscript (i.e., one more bit from Ted Jesus Christ GOD):
Many Christ Files have to be built and we have to identify and trace and track and hunt and find evidence of Satan or Devil and Demons and only Those hair is required and then this can be tested if Human or more Complex than Human and a live Demon if possible.
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Isn't it nice to know that folks like this are loose in the world, and that they have access to Internet technology?
Rest easy now, folks!

Quotable

Death is our eternal companion. It is always to our left, at an arm’s length. It has always been watching you. It always will until the day it taps you. The thing to do when you’re impatient is . . . to turn to your left and ask advice from your death. An immense amount of pettiness is dropped if your death makes a gesture to you, or if you catch a glimpse of it, or if you just catch the feeling that your companion is there watching you. -- Carlos Castaneda, Peruvian born mystic and writer (1925 - 1998) Carlos Castaneda's Don Juan's Teachings

Can I Get a Witness?

Evangelicals can be a crafty bunch: By the way, this entry gives me another opportunity to say that Napolean Dynamite is the most boring movie ... ever!
And that's the gospel truth. The image “http://www.brainwise.org/Images/smilewink.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Friday, April 15, 2005

True Adventures in Junk Mail | Inaugural Entry

File Under TrueAdventuresInJunkMail [more: Flickr Photo Set]
Welcome to the trial run of my new feature, True Adventures in Junk Mail. I will endeavor to post images and/or text from interesting or amusing pieces of junk e-mail. For the inaugural entry, we certainly have a doozie (thank you, Scottie V!):
Doesn't make you tingle with anticipation? Oh, how could I live a happy life without the help of these fine folks? (Actually, quite well, I am sure). I would have posted it earlier, but I was plagued by a fit of giggles. In fact, I'm still giggling about it. Please note that I have not included the click-through with the above image. Click the pic all you want, you're not going to activate the ad. It's just a saved copy. But if you really want to check out the company, go right ahead.
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Update: They have another image!

Friday Pet Blogging | Hush

Otis had to visit the vet yesterday... This is a recent photo, but it was not taken during the vet session or even yesterday evening. However, I am fairly certain that it accurately represents Otis' state of mind at the end of his rather long day (clicky for larger version):

::: sigh :::
Where to start this little tale...? Well, you see, Otis was having a little ... er, litter ... trouble. For about a 24-hour period, we noticed that he was making frequent, but unproductive, visits to the litter box. After placing a phone call to the vet on Thursday morning and telling the doctor everything we had observed, my lovely wife was out of her office and enroute to gather up Otis for a little appointment. Have I mentioned that the boys "love" the vet? Well, to be honest, they actually fare pretty well at the office. It's the drive to and fro that they could do without. Otis in particular meows frequently and pants. I'm surprised he doesn't hyperventilate. Mrs. Brainwise makes up little songs for the cats. Here are the lyrics to the song she sang on Thursday in an attempt to calm poor Otis' nerves:
Hush little kitty don't mew a word Mama's gonna buy you a mockingbird If that mockingbird tastes stale Mama's gonna buy you a mousie tail If that mousie tail is dry Mama's gonna buy you a turkey pie
He complained even louder. Mrs. Brainwise stopped singing. Now, I was not at the vet (not for lack of volunteering, mind you), so I only caught the proceedings in snippets of phone calls and voice mails. But I do know the following:
  • Otis was a very good boy for the vet. In fact, all the vet techs loved him.
  • He has some kind of [medical babble] [blah blah dee dah] [and more medi-babble] urinary tract infection. Oh, I heard the medical babble, I just can't spell any of it.
  • The doc had to squeeze Otis' kidney. Squeeze it! I don't even want to try to empathize with that.
  • Doc ran some tests on the urine sample and found a bunch of odd things. Individually, no problem. But together, with our observations, it's all indicative of ... something. Not certain what that something is because other symptoms are missing. But somethis is definitely amiss.
  • Doc gave Otis a little something to open him up. And, yes, Otis received the first dose at the office. (More on that in a bit).
The vet kept Otis for only half a day. No overnight stay necessary (yea!). So Mrs. Brainwise trudged on over after work to pick him up and take him home. We have some antibiotics and stuff for him to take over the next several days. One dose in the morning, two in the evening. Oh, and remember I mentioned that he got a dose of something to "open him up" back at the doctor's office? Well ... it worked. Opened him right up. Wide open. Flowing. Unfortunately, he was in the kitty caddy ... in Mrs. Brainwise's car. About 15 minutes from home. Poor guy was mess. Number one and number two. Well, Mrs. Brainwise cleaned Otis as best she could when she finally got home (that 15 minute drive probably felt like an eternity with eau de Otis wafting in the air). Otis' brother, Milo, took one whiff and dashed off to hide. After enduring a cleaning and towling down, Otis himself went to hide behind the sofa. We didn't see either one of them until well after 8pm. But when he finally showed himself again, Otis snuggled up next to his mommy. His positioning was somewhat reminiscent of today's photo. I hope the little guy gets better soon.
The Modulator has a compilation of today's pet posts from other bloggers. Previous Milo & Otis appearances on Prophet or Madman are indexed here ... just in case you missed one. And do keep your eyes peeled for the next installment of the Carnival of the Cats.

Photo Date: April 2004

Quotable

Divinity is a reflection of your own understanding. -- Deng Ming-Dao

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Voodoo in the Kitchen?

A number of people have already mentioned this little gem from Viceversa:
I just have to add my voice to the chorus of folks who have stated their ... um, affection ... for this unusual kitchen accessory. But for me, it's just like a child who wants a dangerous toy: I know it's wrong, but I don't care -- I just want it and that's it. Fortunately(?) my lovely wife can -- and will -- veto a purchase like this. Now, Viceversa has a number of other ... unusual ... items for sale. And that's fine. Really, it is. But this one truly frightened me. It really should not be the first item under the BATH category. Click the link and think about it. Yikes.

Pope-U-Lator

Are you confused with all the choices for the next Pope? Are you wondering where to throw your support? Do you have hope that at least one papable Cardinal that could best reflect your own views?
The image “http://brainwise.org/Images/whopope.png” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Worry no more -- the Pope-U-Lator is here!
That's right. Just take the time to rate the importance of 11 simple criteria, and within moments a customized list of candidates will be generated for you. Imagine paring down a list of 100+ Cardinals to a simpler list of about five men for whom you can pray and cheer!
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Also includes the Name-U-Lator (name the Pope!), Select-a-Pope (check your fave's percentages), Select-A-Name (um, rather to the Name-U-Lator), and Papal Facts (what's a "camauro" anyway?)

Quotable

Notice that the [Hebrew] word for God is Elohym which really means "Gods," plural. This is because you cannot be a god by yourself, but it must be accomplished by a group consciousness. A human becomes a god the same way that hydrogen becomes water. He identifies with the new life, yet the possibility of reverting to the single form is always present. -- J.J. Dewey

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Myopia? Rose-Colored Glasses?

Via Georg at Running Scared.
This cartoon offers a pretty solid theory on how Dubya looks at the world.
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Disclaimer #1: The cartoon utilizes some of the less ... savory ... terms in the English language. If you are easily offended by (ahem) bolder expressions of communication -- or you simply have no sense of humor -- then please do not click the link. Disclaimer #2: If you fall into the category defined in Disclaimer #1, and you still click the link, please do not come whining to me about it. Thank you.

It's a Mustard Gas, Gas, Gas...

I found this last year and have been very remiss in blogging it. But since I just finished another visit to the site, I am going to remedy my neglect right now. Mustard Gas Party is an incredible collection of photographic essays. There is no commentary, there are no explanations. There are only brief slide shows of black and white, color, and/or digitally enhanced photos. The images can be quietly bleak or even disturbing. Yet the viewing experience is, to me, cathartic. And I end up feeling surprisingly hopeful ... calm ... inspired even (well, sometimes). Here are a couple of samples; click the essay's title to view its complete collection (although it is probably best to access the essays from the main site):
Lights out, Hum on – Six Spoke Delight (2004)
Riverside Sanatorium (2005)
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Update: Here is a suggestion that might enhance your experience. Pick an essay and view it from start to finish ... slowly. Linger with each image. Do this first without music; just let the images evoke music from your own mind. After you return to the first image in the set, close your eyes for a few moments and observe your feelings -- don't judge or analyze, simply notice how and what you are feeling. Then, perhaps, view the same essay again while listening to a selection of music that seems appropriate. I think you'll find this rather moving.

Anony-Blogging

Via Modulator by way of Politech

Unless you are independently wealthy (and if you are, would you care to adopt me? Seriously, I eat light), here is something that nearly every blogger needs to know:

If you have not done so already, you may as well bookmark the Electronic Frontier Foundaton's site for future reference.

Quotable | reciprocity

Hands grasp, but also give. Mouth tastes, but also speaks. Nose breathes, but also smells. Eyes see, but also show. Ears hear, but also balance. The hands teach us not to be selfish. The mouth teaches us to give thanks in word and song. The eyes teach us to show compassion and sincerity. The ears teach us to keep our balance. All parts of ourselves both give and receive. They function on a principle of reciprocity inherent in their very character. If our senses are so noble, shouldn't we be as well?
-- Deng Ming-Dao (from 365 Tao: Daily Meditations)

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Linkage | Dialogic

I just found out that Prophet or Madman is linked with a whole passel of other blogs under this heady little moniker:
Additional links that open the mind to new modes of thought
Where is this collection of heady, mind-expanding links, you ask? Why, it's right here, Dialogically. Thivai Abhor's efforts, one of Kentucky's finest exports, will soon be seen on the blogroll here.

Retractable Phone Booth

Nick demonstrates the personal phone booth -- Click for more pictures!
Nick Rodriguez built a personal, retractable phone booth. It's purpose? Well, one might quickly think of two things it does really well:
  1. Provide privacy.
  2. Call obscene amounts of attention to oneself.
The real point is to confront mobile phone technology and the impact it is having on social interactions. For one thing, it demonstrates how cell phone use can alienate the user from the group of people that is immediately present. And you would be surprised how many people don't actually notice this thing out in public. He must have been testing it in NYC. Linkage: UPDATE: If you're not into this artsy, performance sculpture thing, perhaps you would like a more physically active demonstration against cell phones. Say, something along the lines of Smash My Cell Phone?

Bill Clinton's Surrogate Family

The Boston Globe's Peter Canellos thinks that Clinton has found his surrogate family, and it's the Bushes. From Canellos' article:

...Clinton has found his surrogate family. He is part of a sprawling clan, legendary for its warmth and unity. It is a clan that is so accustomed to acquiring surrogate sons and daughters that adoption has become a part of its strength.

Clinton has become a member of the Bush clan.

Last week in Rome for the pope's funeral, the clan sat lined up in a pew: Laura, W., Dad, surrogate daughter Condoleezza, and Bill, all seeming more at ease than most families on Christmas Eve. Clinton may have looked a little out of place, like a Great Dane who thinks he belongs to a family of dachshunds, but his contented expression suggested he was exactly where he wanted to be.

Canellos goes on to say that this seeming friendship between Bubba and W is both genuine and opportunistic ... just like anything in the political arene. But on the Clinton side of the equation, Canellos plumbs some reasons that get downright touchy feely. And he may have some evidence to back it up:
Their friendship [Clinton and the elder Bush] blossomed on their trip last winter to raise funds for Asian tsunami relief. They became so close that former president Bush suggested to the Houston Chronicle that ''maybe I'm the father he never had."
Canellos is a bit more cynical as far as W's motives are concerned:
Since last year's election, Bush has made a concerted effort to woo European allies. Having Clinton in his pew at the pope's funeral in Rome did more to boost Bush's reputation overseas than a hundred bows to Jacques Chirac.
It's an interesting read.

Quotable

Rogues are preferable to imbeciles because they sometimes take a rest. -- Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870) Dumas is best known for the historical novels The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo.

It's the IDEAS, Stupid

A Whole New Mind (Book Cover)
Don the Idea Guy is raving about Dan Pink's latest book, A Whole New Mind. And I quote the Idea Guy:
Complaints and anxiety abound with every job that is sent overseas -- "Woe is us" we scream and whine and stomp up and down in the puddle of spilled milk at our feet. Few seem to recognize the opportunity and obvious strategy that will carry us back to the top -- it's the IDEAS, stupid. I had the opportunity this week to dial in to a live presentation given by Mr. Pink, and he gets it. And he puts it into terms that not only help everyone to understand the true paradigm shift (sorry for the buzzword, but I don't use it lightly) happening all around us, but will get you EXCITED about it. The presentation has been archived so that you can enjoy (and profit from!) it too.
Read Don's complete write-up, which includes a little background into why he finds this concept so exciting. There is also a link to Dan Pink's "New Mind" presentation. Hey, I'm adding the book to my already over-taxed reading list.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Quotable

For minds obsessed by compulsive thinking and grasping, you simplify your meditation practices to just two words -- "let go." -- Ajahn Sumedho (1934 - )

Free Tea! And It's Good!

When I decided to plug Adagio Teas on this blog last Monday (see I Am A Shameless Shill for Adagio Teas), I figured my reward would simply be two or three teabags. So when I actually received my free tea last Thursday, I was surprised to find that the package did not include any prepared teabags. Instead, Adagio had sent me a cannister of their rooibos peach blend (click for larger image):

a cannister of fine FREE Adagio tea

This tea has an excellent aroma -- everyone in my office commented positively on it -- which certainly adds to the taste of the brew. A cup of this tea is slightly sweet but not too fruity, which makes for an excellent after lunch beverage in my opinion. I would consider purchasing this! I have to thank Lynn for the tip. And I may consider giving these folks a more permanent link, either here or at my so-called homepage. But right now, I am wondering if this short but positive review (replete with Adagio links, natch) could qualify for another reward. I certainly would like to sample one of their other varieties.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Astrophotog Blog Delight

With apologies to the Starland Vocal Band:

Gonna find my camera, and I'll hold 'er right Gonna have some Astrophotog blog delight My motto's always been 'when it's right, it's right' Why wait until the middle of a cold dark night? When everything's a little clearer in the light of day And we know the night is always gonna be there any way Partial eclipse in sight Astrophotog blog delight Astrophotog blog delight Astrophotog blog delight

All right. Now that I have purged my mind of the little ditty ... I can tell you that Mira has some cool photos of Friday's partial eclipse:

Click to see her photos at a much better size than this!

She posted a good bit of info about the event. OK, sure ... it's over now. But she posted this stuff far enough in advance. So don't blame either of us if you missed the eclipse.

Bustin' Makes Me Feel Good!

With apologies to Ray Parker, Jr., and the rest of the Ghostbusters crew. One of my colleages found a news blurb about a cool new toy, the Ghost Radar:
The image “http://pc.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/2005/0401/solid_1.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Top The image “http://pc.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/2005/0401/solid_2.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Bottom
Forget the billiard table casket thing, I want a spectre detector for my birthday! It's not cheap -- though it is much less expensive than the Manhattan casket -- and it is so much more portable. Just plug it into a USB port and start your search for the paranormal. The Ghost Radar is supposed to beep and flash red lights in response to unusual magnetic waves. The light pattern will indicate:
  1. How close the ghost is (but not its exact location).
  2. Whether the ghost can move.
  3. How much of an effect it can have on people.
I would love to sweep St. Peter's Basilica with this little gizmo. Or maybe the White House. Nah, that would be too scarey. Linkage:

Quotable | Looking Life in the Eyes

When I can look Life in the eyes, Grown calm and very coldly wise, Life will have given me Truth, and taken in exchange -- my youth. -- Sara Teasdale, poet (1884 - 1933)
This seems rather appropriate for a Friday. Both in general, and because there was a high-profile funeral today. After all, April is National Poetry Month, is it not?

What's a Cookie Monster To Do?

Something might be a little amiss in the land of Muppets:

First PBS announced that "Sesame Street" would kick off its 35th season this week with a multiyear story arc about healthy habits. No problem there; childhood obesity rates are soaring. Then I learned of changes that turned my "Sesame Street" world upside-down.

My beloved blue, furry monster -- who sang "C is for cookie, that's good enough for me" -- is now advocating eating healthy. There's even a new song -- "A Cookie Is a Sometimes Food," where Cookie Monster learns there are "anytime" foods and "sometimes" foods.

Yes, children's obesity rates are ... disturbing. But did they have to mess with the big, blue guy? Sigh. Another cherished childhood memory relegated to the dustbin. __________ Update: The folks at Monkeyfilter have quite a bit to say on this subject.