Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Fire From Water

You just never know when survival tips will come in handy. Well, here is something useful to Prophets and Madmen alike: How to start a fire with a pocket of water! The technique involves taking a piece of plastic wrap (Saran or otherwise) and bringing its four corners together to form a pocket, which is then filled with water. This "pocket" is then used like a lens, focusing the Sun's rays to kindle your tinder. Click the photo for the full description, and more photos!
Fire From Water -- Photo by Ron Bicevskis Photo (and demo) by Ron Bicevskis
File under: Survival Skills

Monday, August 29, 2005

Coffee: The New Health Food!

According to a new study by the University of Scranton, a cup of coffee beats fruits and vegetables as a primary source of antioxidants. That's right. Coffee may not be that bad for you after all, which means I can continue to use coffee to down my morning vitamins ... and do so guilt free! Here is a quote from the NewIndPress article:
The study by University of Scranton states that coffee is the number one source of antioxidants in American diet, and both caffeinated and decaf versions appear to provide similar antioxidant levels. "Americans get more of their antioxidants from coffee than any other dietary source. Nothing else comes close," said study's lead researcher Dr. Joe Vinson, adding that high antioxidant levels in foods and beverages don't necessarily translate into levels found in the body.
The article also points out that (a) consumers are not eating enough fruits and vegetables, which are still better than coffee in overall nutrition; (b) coffee should still be consumed in moderation, otherwise it will make you jittery and can cause stomach problems; and (c) of all the foods surveyed in the study -- over 100! -- dates actually have the most antioxidants per serving size. If you are curious about antioxidants and coffee, check out the following links: Dr. Joe Vinson is certainly interested in coffee -- and tea, and cocoa. Just do a Google search on his name in combination with coffee, tea, and/or cocoa and see what turns up. For example.

Ask the Imam

An Imam* (eem-AAM) is a very important person in the Muslim community. Respected for his religious knowledge, an Imam is often sought to answer complex questions. But what do you do if you do not have access to a local Imam? What, if any, are you alternatives if you have a burning question and you must have an answer? Well, you fire up your web browser and go to to Ask the Imam. Ask the Imam -- Logo Title -- Click for site! Ask the Imam is run by Mufti Ebrahim Desai, an Imam in South Africa. This is quite the interesting site. On the index page, there is a list of all question categories, and there is a running tally for how many questions have been answered under each one. For example, Marriage currently has the lead with 617 questions. But Prayer is gaining fast with 520 questions. You can search the archives to see how often a certain topic -- say internet -- pops up. You can even submit your own questions (only after you search the archives and confirm that yours is truly unique). But my favorite feature, is the Random Fatwa** ! Go ahead, click the link and try it now! ----------------------------- *While Imam can be loosely understood as an Islamic prayer leader, a full definition is more complex and can even depend on tradition. Check the Wikipedia entry here. ** A Fatwa is a legal interpretation and/or pronouncement by a religious authority. Read more here.

Friday, August 26, 2005

A Late Night Trip

I don't like car trips!

Another trip to the emergency vet. Only this time, Milo was the traveler -- not Otis. Seems that Milo may be developing the same issue. More later. It's time to sleep now.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Friday Pet Blogging | Window of Opportunity

What's he staring at? Click photo for larger image.

Two weeks ago, I found Otis staring out the bedroom window. That's not so unusual in and of itself. But something about it ... his intensity, perhaps ... made me take a closer look. Now I know why he seems so agitated during his morning observations. He must think he is close enough to imagine the taste of a feathered conquest. (Note for the squeamish -- our boys are completely homebound, so unless that bird gets in the house, or Otis breaks through the window, bloodshed is very unlikely in the foreseeable future.)

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 (yeah, yeah .. I'll bring it up to date soon). And do keep your eyes peeled for the next installment of the Carnival of the Cats, served fresh every Sunday.

15,000!

It looks like Prophet or Madman recorded its 15,000th page view this morning, at about 10:17am EST. Now, that is only a count of total pages viewed since we started the count November 10, 2004 -- just a little over a month after the blog started. As far as unique visitors is concerned, we're still under the 10,000 mark. But I felt like celebrating the page view count. I need something to get me through another typical Thursday.

Quotable | Wealth

Open quotation markWealth is the number of things one can do without. -- Feodor Dostoyevsky, Russian novelist (1821 - 1881) This is such an interesting quote, made all the more interesting for its source. A literary figure at the age of 25, imprisoned for engaging in revolutionary activity against the Tsar at age 28, survivor of a mock execution by firing squad, forced into military service with the Siberian Regiment at age 33, and finally released at age 38 ... Feodor Dostoyevsky led quite the tumultuous life, even given the tumultuous times. His own life would have made a page turning Russian novel! An inveterate gambler, Dostoyevsky's own experiences probably formed the basis for his novella, The Gambler [Descriptions | Review]. In fact, I have read that Dostoyevsky made a bet that he could write The Gambler within a month, even while in the midst of writing Crime and Punishement. If that wasn't enough, I have also read that Crime and Punishment was finished in a blazing hurry because "he was in urgent need of an advance from his publisher. He had been left practically penniless after a gambling spree." Certainly, between imprisonment and gambling debt, this man knew what it was like to do without.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Now in Newsweek

Oh, That Pat (Robertson)! Mrs. Brainwise tipped me to The Sin of Blasphemy, a Newsweek commentary by Patti Davis. In her column, she muses:
True men of God, of course, do not entertain such notions [assassination of foreign leaders]. They certainly don’t preach them. Men of blasphemy do.
Nice going on that one, Patti. She also mentions a 2003 Robertson gem that I missed in my prior posts:
Did Robertson lose his Bible? Or has he simply rewritten it in his own language? What happened to “Thou Shalt Not Kill?” This is not the first time Robertson has expressed a fondness for assassination. In October 2003 he suggested that nuclear weapons be dropped on the State Department.
I do recommend you read the entire commentary. But I've had enough of Mr. Robertson, the national crank. I actually bring up Newsweek because I want to direct you to this week's cover story. Spirituality in America
Newsweek - Search for Spirit
The latest Newsweek (on the newsstand until September 5th) has an important set of articles about "Spirituality in America." Yes, it is noticably slanted toward the Middle Eastern faiths (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam). But the core content confirms that folks are trying, striving, for a transcendant experience in their day to day lives. And, in many cases, perhaps the religion of one's birth cannot provide that experience. But that is OK, because you can find another path:
According to the NEWSWEEK/Beliefnet Poll, eight in 10 Americans—including 68 percent of evangelicals—believe that more than one faith can be a path to salvation, which is most likely not what they were taught in Sunday school. One out of five respondents said he had switched religions as an adult.
Pluralism -- as much as the Neo-cons and Theo-crats dislike it -- has been a party to religion and spiritual development in the US since the very beginning of the country. This desire for new or revamped religions (or just the practices) is a reflection of a search for personal religious experience, which is itself a reflection of that vaunted ideal of American individuality (Yes, Virginia, there is still a spark of individuality in the hearts of our nation's citizens. But, unfortunately most people are too afraid to fan that spark into a true flame. Alas, that is a topic for another post.) And that is a good thing. Religion provides guidelines, so that groups can work together. But the experiential aspect of spirituality -- otherwise known as the mystical path -- is completely individual. And I cannot invalidate your personal experience (unless, of course, you think your god wants you to correct my behavior or else! Again, that is a topic for another post). Check out the articles.
SPIRITUALITY IN AMERICA

In Search of the Spiritual

Where Do You Stand on Faith?

Green Religion: A Shepherd Protects His Own Backyard

Islam: A New Welcoming Spirit in the Mosque

Pentecostals: A Passionate Voice and a Moral Vision

Tibetan Buddhism: Learning to Let Go

Roman Catholicism: 'Hail Mary' Is More Than a Football Play

Kabbalah: Feeling the Spirit of Prayer

A Scholar's View: The Long and Winding Road

A Dictionary of the Divine

Quotable 2 | Robertson is an Embarassment

Open quotation markEvery time he opens his mouth he's an embarrassment to Christianity. [Source] -- The Rev. Joseph C. Hough Jr., president of New York City's Union Theological Seminary, on Pat Robertson (in 2003). I would say that Robertson's actions/words have a wider taint than that. When folks in other countries hear about Robertson, they probably believe that most, if not all, Americans think the same way. And this certainly puts our nation in a poor light.

Quotable | Pat Robertson's Meaningless Affairs

Open quotation markThe less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause. A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people's business. --Eric Hoffer, philosopher and author (1902-1983) Hoffer's quote seems more than apt during a week in which everyone's "favorite" Christo-charlatan is in the news for advocating the assassination of a foreign leader (read here and here). Maybe Robertson is different than most folks and deserves special treatment ... a little leeway. I mean, come on, his god talks directly to him, as shown in his 2005 predictions:

  • The Re-Election of George W. Bush: "I think George Bush is going to win in a walk. I really believe I'm hearing from the Lord it's going to be like a blowout election in 2004. It's shaping up that way." [USAtoday.com]
  • The economy: "Again, 2005 is going to be a year of extraordinary prosperity for this nation and for CBN [Christian Broadcasting Network]. And I think the American stock market is going to surge upward, if I heard from the Lord. Again, ladies and gentlemen, don't go and buy stock on my recommendation, but that's what I feel in my heart. The Lord was saying it's going to be a super good year."
  • George W. Bush: "Well, the Lord has some very encouraging news for George Bush ... What I heard is that Bush is now positioned to have victory after victory and that his second term is going to be one of triumph, which is pretty strong stuff. ... He'll have Social Security reform passed. He'll have tax reform passed. He'll have conservative judges on the courts. And that basically he is positioned for a series of dramatic victories which I hope will hearten him and his advisers. They don't have to be timid in this matter because the wind is blowing at his back, and he can move forward boldly and get results."
  • Muslims and others turning to Jesus Christ: "In America, again if I'm hearing God right, we will see a tremendous incident of miracles in the year 2005. ... God's spirit is going to be moving in dramatic power around the world. And his spirit is going to be touching the hearts of many in the Muslim world and they will be turning to the gospel, to Jesus Christ. I think many of them already are, but this is going to be an acceleration that will really amaze the world. ... 'Revival will break out throughout the Muslim world, my [God's] truth will penetrate their hearts. The hold of that falsehood that has gripped them will be broken.'"
  • Terrorism and global security: "2005 will be another good year for the world. The terrorist threat will diminish. Nations will walk in peace, but it will be an illusion. The peril to Israel is greater now than it has ever been for she will be seduced into a false peace that will leave her vulnerable."
  • The Supreme Court: "The vendetta against religion in America is about to end. ... 'I [God] will remove judges from the Supreme Court quickly and their successors will refuse to sanction the attacks on religious faith.'"
Now, if that's not enough to convince that this man is dangerous, consider the fact that his loose tongue is not a recent phenomenon. Back in 1986, he said:
It is interesting, that termites don't build things, and the great builders of our nation almost to a man have been Christians, because Christians have the desire to build something. He is motivated by love of man and God, so he builds. The people who have come into (our) institutions (today) are primarily termites. They are into destroying institutions that have been built by Christians, whether it is universities, governments, our own traditions, that we have.... The termites are in charge now, and that is not the way it ought to be, and the time has arrived for a godly fumigation. -- New York Magazine, August 18, 1986
This was in the same year that he announced a bid to capture the Republican nomination for the upcoming Presidential election. Luckily, he didn't get the nom, let alone win the election. But the wake of that campaign paved the way for his future political activism as head of the Christian Coalition. From this well-financed group, he launched prayer initiatives that called on his Judeo-Christian god to "put it in the minds of these three judges that the time has come to retire" [July 2003]. Those 'three judges' were John Paul Stephens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O'Connor -- often considered the, uh, most liberal judges on the court. Robertson wanted them replaced with more conservative appointees. Was this a divine death threat? Some thought as much. More likely, it was crazy talk from an old crank. Albeit a crank that still has considerable money and devotees at his disposal. ::: Sigh ::: For a good summary of Pat Robertson's controversial statements, check out A Controversial Figure on Wikipedia. Or just Google his name.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Raven Master

Ever see the Tower of London? Ever see the ravens at the Tower of London? Did you know there was a Raven Master?
As the Tower of London's Yeoman Warder Ravenmaster, Derrick is responsible for the birds' welfare, and in doing so, for ensuring the royal decree issued by Charles II - that there are always six ravens at the Tower - is obeyed.

Legend has it that if the birds leave the site, its White Tower will crumble and the Kingdom of England will fall.

Sounds like a pretty serious responsibility. Even if most of his day is consumed with the tasks of feeding and watering the ravens ... and cleaning out their cages. Sure, it's a tad messy, but he gets to hang out with birds named Thor and Munin. How many of your co-workers have cool names like that?
Ravenmaster Derrick Coyle with raven photo: BBC News

Monday, August 22, 2005

Monday Poetry Blogging | For Those Who Fail

Today's poem comes from the Summer 2005 edition of NIPPIES.com.*

For Those Who Fail by Joaquin Miller

"All honor to him who shall win the prize," 
The world has cried for a thousand years; 
But to him who tries and who fails and dies, 
I give great honor and glory and tears.
O great is the hero who wins a name, 
But greater many and many a time, 
Some pale-faced fellow who dies in shame, 
And lets God finish the thought sublime.
And great is the man with a sword undrawn,
And good is the man who refrains from wine; 
But the man who fails and yet fights on, 
Lo! he is the twin-born brother of mine!

photo of Joaquin Miller from joaquinmiller.com.
Photo: www.joaquinmiller.com

Joaquin Miller (1841-1912) was known as The Poet of the Sierras among other things. In his very colorful life, he had several careers -- miner, lawyer, prospector, newspaper editor/publisher, judge -- before settling on that of a poet. Born Cincinnatus Hiner Miller (after the city of Cincinnati), he changed his name to Joaquin in 1870 after a poetess "convinced him he would never succeed as a poet with a name like Cincinnatus." Interesting that he chose to name himself after an infamous Mexican Bandit. Further Reading:
---------------------------
* (Hey, I'm not kidding ... that's the name of their magazine, and they've been publishing under that name since 1999).

Is There Something Wrong ...

...with using an iced coffee to wash down one's supplements? Really, I'm just curious. I've been doing this off and on for a while now, but it only struck me today that it might seem a tad ... oh, I don't know ... in the wrong spirit? Counter-productive? Or, perhaps, one could consider caffiene to be a vital nutrient, so it it perfectly natural to use a swig of coffee when swallowing a vitamin. Any comments on this?

Friday, August 19, 2005

Friday Pet Blogging | Camera Shy?

"Ooooh ... shiny object!"

Otis can never be accused of being camera shy. In fact, he's never met a camera he didn't like. Maintaining a pose, however, is a different thing altogether. As seen here, he would much rather sniff the camera than pose for it. He really has to be fully immersed in an activity in order for me to successfully get a candid shot. I'm serious. As soon as Otis knows a camera is trained on him (or his brother), he has to check it out. Click the pic for a larger image.

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.

Quotable | Seeing

Open quotation markSeeing is never from memory. It has no memory. It is looking now. The total organism is involved in seeing. Not thinking about what is said from memory, but listening and looking openly now. -- Toni Packer, author and non-traditional (or former) zen teacher

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Sergeant Major Penguin

Nils Olav, a king penguin, is the first bird to ever hold a military rank of honourable regimental sergeant major in Norway. Yep, you read that correctly. Nils Olav is a penguin.
Nils Olav was promoted at a ceremony in Edinburgh Zoo on Friday. Officers had been keeping quiet over his new rank, which was known only to a select few, including King Harald of Norway and senior advisers. Retired Major Nils Egelien of the Royal Norwegian Guards said: "It all started in 1961 when the King's Guard of Norway came to the military tattoo and we were very very interested in the king penguins. "In 1972 we came back again and adopted a king penguin in the name of Nils Olav and the rank of lance corporal." [BBC News]
So Nils has quite the history with the Norwegian army. Only ... the penguin promoted on Friday is not the original Nils Olav. He died almost 20 years ago and was replaced with another penguin. Congrats Nils ... both the original and the current.
Nils Photo Nils Olav at the ceremony (photo: BBC News | Scotland)

Quotable

Open quotation markI like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ. --Mohandas Gandhi [1869-1948] This quote is the perfect follow-up to the Cathrix post.

The Cathrix

Tim Boucher points out the story of a new PR campaign for the Catholic Priesthood:
An edgy poster showing a somber Catholic priest in full black cassock and sunglasses posed like "The Matrix" star Keanu Reeves is proving so popular that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has snapped up 5,000 of them. "If we can get high-school youth to hang a picture of a priest in their room, that’s huge in helping young men to answer the call to the priesthood," [Father Jonathan Meyer] said. "Anyone who is a ‘Matrix’ guru looks at the picture and automatically gets it." Crucifix in hand, Father Meyer posed for the poster, rated R for "restricted to those radically in love with Jesus Christ." Running time is "all eternity," and its title reads, "The Catholic priesthood: The answer is out there ... and it’s calling you."
Both The Christian Post and Catholic Online include a copy of the graphic in their reportage. I saved a copy of the image as well:
Poster - The Catholic Priesthood
Personally, I think the poster is a tad lame. But that Father Meyer quote about getting "high-school youth to hang a picture of a priest in their room," ... yikes! Color me disturbed.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Quotable | Reality

Open quotation markWhen you argue with reality you lose, but only 100 percent of the time. --Byron Katie, inventor of The Work, a method of self-inquiry I don't know what I think about The Work, the system that Katie developed after experiencing "an awakening" after years of severe depression, but I do like today's quote. In The Work, Katie's major premise is that we are disturbed and tortured not by what happens to us, but by our thoughts about what happens to us. She says that we can 'turn around' any situation that hurts or angers us by asking ourselves four basic questions:
  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you absolutely know that it's true?
  3. How do you react when you think that thought?
  4. Who would you be without the thought?
It is interesting to note that this line of questioning can very quickly show that you have been lying to yourself about the situation. And using words like always, never, everyone, etc., can also indicate that you are lying to yourself and creating an imaginary issue much larger and weighty than what actually exists. But I won't say that this is "always" the case. ;)

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Holy Pierogi!!

The Lord's Face Found Fried into Surface of Polish Delicacy! On Palm Sunday 2005, Donna Lee of Toledo was cooking a few pierogis for the Easter holiday. When she flipped one over, reality took a bit of a flip, too. She and her husband saw the face of their savior pan-fried into the surface of the Polish delicacy.
"They're usually browned one side and browned on the other but this one was the only one that didn't brown on both sides," said Donna. "It's very special and they've made a joke of me since April, so I don't know, it just means a lot to me."
So, what did she do with it:
  • Set up a makeshift shrine in her front yard?
  • Bring it to her local chaplain?
  • Send it to the Vatican as a gift for newly elected Pope Benedict XVI?
Nope, nope, and nope. Mrs. Lee stuffed the holy pierogi into a plastic bag, froze it, and then auctioned it off on eBay! I'll bet you can guess who bought it. Can you? Yup! Golden Palace Casino won the blessed dough pouch with a winning bid of $1775!! Man, is there anything that an online casino won't buy? Golden Palace already purchased the grilled cheese sandwich that had an image of the Virgin Mary. And they even bought ad space on a pregnant woman's belly. Anyway... So one more modern "relic" is relegated to Golden Palace's traveling road show of oddities (wouldn't the folks who see these "visions" be better qualified as oddities?). Well, at least the Lee family will be showered with blessings -- er, cold hard cash -- for their pious discovery. Here is a photo of the pierogi (click for story).
Holy Pierogi! Photo Courtesy of WTOL 11 News
Here is the eBay listing (it will probably only be available for about a month). Update [08/16/2005 3:21pm EST]: I've been looking at the image seared into the pierogi, and I've gotta say ... I think it looks much more like Frank Zappa than Jesus Christ. And I think ol' Frank would have dug that.

"Some take the Bible for what it’s worth, when it says that the meek shall inherit the earth; well I heard that some sheik bought New Jersey last week, and you . . . ain’t gettin’ nothing!" -- Frank Zappa (song: "The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing" album: You Are What You Is)

Quotable

Open quotation markHumanity also needs dreamers, for whom the disinterested development of an enterprise is so captivating that it becomes impossible for them to devote their care to their own material profit. Without doubt, these dreamers do not deserve wealth, because they do not desire it. Even so, a well-organized society should assure to such workers the efficient means of accomplishing their task, in a life freed from material care and freely consecrated to research. --Marie Curie, scientist, Nobel laureate (1867-1934)

Saturday, August 13, 2005

MusikFest

I have spent nearly every evening this past week at the nation's largest free music festival: Musikfest in Bethlehem, PA. I will be there for most of the weekend, too. Perhaps I will write-up a festival summary upon my return. Then again, perhaps not. After spending all this time in high heat and humidity, I may not want to sit in front of a computer at all. But at least I am enjoying the festival.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Quotable

The image “http://www.brainwise.org/Images/quoteOpen.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.A budget tells us what we can't afford, but it doesn't keep us from buying it. -- William Feather, author and publisher (1889-1981)

Friday Pet Blogging | Dressing Room Jitters

"So, tell me truthfully ... Does this box make my butt look huge, or what?"

OK, I'm pretty certain that Otis is never this self-conscious, and he is still so thin from his whole ordeal with FLUTD that the idea is ludicrous. I guess that's what makes it so humorous to me. Note that he no longer has that funny shaved baboon butt look going for him. Nope, now his butt is in that awkward in-between stage of just-fuzzy-enough. Click the pic for a larger image.

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.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Crushing Crucifix

I don't know about you, but I don't typically hang out near giant iron crucifixes. So, short of being in the vicinity of a botched crucifix airlift, I shouldn't have to worry about one landing on me. Paoletta Orru' of Mogorella (Italy), however, was not so lucky. Ms. Orru' was crushed to death by an iron crucifix at the entrance of the church of San Lorenzo while she was attending mass. Story in brief here [AGI online]. I don't know about Italy, but here in America, that kind of death can only mean one of two things:
  1. Either someone somewhere was negligent, and a lawsuit will quickly ensue, or...
  2. That pour soul really ticked off Someone (yes, with a capital "S") in a high place.
To which I have to say: "Yo! Mr. (or Ms.) Judeo-Christian Godhead! What was up with that?!"

Quotable

Most institutions demand unqualified faith; but the institution of science makes skepticism a virtue. -- Robert King Merton, sociologist (1910-2003) I find this quote very interesting because this virtue of which Merton writes -- skepticism -- has a dual edge. Yes, healthy skepticism is instrumental in weeding out junk science and discounting fantastic claims. But skepticism can also hold back acceptance of revolutionizing ideas. I don't have a specific example right now, although if I recall correctly, the development of geology as a field of study should be rife with examples. I'll come back and post one later. But I can at least recommend a few books right now that have ample examples of how politics and even human nature can warp healthy skepticsm:
  • Muddling Through: Pursuing Science and Truths in the Twenty-First Century -- Herbert J. Bernstein, Mike Fortun [Book Review with Amazon Link]

Cool Cthulhu Commodities

I feel it is my duty to share when I discover cool products, particularly when such products might be of some small assistance to a reader's devotions. With this in mind, I have to introduce my readers to Kthulhu Kitsch LLC. This Seattle-based retailer specializes in shirts, toys, and other nifty items inspired by the work of H.P. Lovecraft. Cthulhu certainly lives here! For example, check out their wonderful Cthulhu Devotional Candle:
Use this 6-day candle as a C.Y.A. insurance policy, just in case the star-born cephalopod shows up with a bad case of the munchies. Heck, you can probably even use it to meditate upon His Mighty Green-ness -- if that is your kind of thing.
By way of Sluggy Freelance.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Knocked Down: Historic Cape Canaveral Launchpad

Explosives fire to topple the Complex 13 mobile service tower. Credit: Steven Young/Spaceflight Now
A 30+ year old mobile launch tower was toppled with explosives. Concerns about the tower's structural safety and site contamination -- there is PCB and lead-laden paint chipping off the tower -- were part of the decision to knock it down.
"This represents another one of those great old soldiers that have stood tall in the development of our space program that we have to say goodbye to," said Col. Mark Owen, commander of the 45th Space Wing at Cape Canaveral. [SpaceflightNow.com]

Friday, August 05, 2005

Friday Pet Blogging | Sneakerpimping

"Whoa! Gym socks are waaaay better than catnip!!"

I really don't know what else to say about this one. Otis was really enjoying Mrs. Brainwise's gym shoes and socks. And, yes, he went for them shortly after Mrs. Brainwise had removed them, thereby guaranteeing their ... um ... freshness.

He certainly looks like he took a good hit off of the footgear.

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.

Friday Pet Blogging | Sherpa de Milo

"I said, 'I'll never be your beast of burden!'"

Milo likes to play this game he calls Sherpa: He gets loaded up with cat toys and then porters them up and down the stairs, treating the staircase like a dangerous mountain path. He also treats his brother, Otis, like a dangerous brigand.

OK. The bit about Otis is kind of true. I mean, Milo is quite wary of him -- and anyone else in the house -- on a regular basis. But the real story behind this pic is this: I was just trying to get a pic of my cat posted on StuffOnMyCat.com. No luck so far, but at least Milo and his toys are very cute in this pic. No matter what -- It's a keeper!

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.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Starbucks Pours Ethos

I saw something new at Starbucks this week:
OK, it's not new for Starbucks to offer bottled water. I mean just about everyone does these days. But Starbucks usually just has, I don't know, one of the basic brands offered by all the local convenience stores. So when I saw this unfamiliar "ethos" label ... I had to stop and take a closer look. It seems that Starbucks decided to use a product that fits the "think global - act local" mantra. It's not their mantra, mind you, but they do seem to do or offer products that fit this mentality. The basic idea being: Why not sell a product that has positive repurcussions far away from where it is used? You just need to find something that people will go for in large quantities. Arm bands will only go so far (sorry Lance). But everyone needs water. And just about everyone buys bottled water these days. Well, everyone in the States, that is. "According to UN statistics, while 1.1 billion people around the world lack safe water to drink, 2.4 billion have no access to water for decent sanitation. About 3 million deaths a year are attributable to poor water supplies" [CommonDreams.org]. That means over 40% of the world's population. Perhaps that is just too large a number to comprehend. So let's take a look at a subset of this group. "About 400 million children were supplied with less than 20 litres of water per day. That means one in every five child would have to cope without the absolute minimum every human needs to drink, cook and use for hygiene" [Scoop]. Pretty sobering numbers, eh? And that is why Starbucks is partnering with Ethos Water, donating 5 cents per bottle sold:
Starbucks will try to sell consumers on the idea of helping to clean up the world's water supply when it begins rolling out Ethos bottled water in its 5,000 U.S. stores. The company plans to donate $10 million over the next five years for clean-water sources in poor countries. [USAToday.com]
I'm thinking they could afford to give more than a nickel for each bottle, but I have no idea how many bottles Starbucks actually pushes on an average day. That could mean a whole lot of nickels. Still ... I bet they could afford to donate more and still break even with their bottled water sales. If Ethos Water seems new to you, that is because they've hardly been around for three years:
Helping the world's need for clean water was the founding mission of Ethos, created by Peter Thum and Jonathan Greenblatt in 2002 after a business trip by Thum in South Africa. Starbucks bought the brand in April. Since founding Ethos, which also is sold in many Whole Foods and similar stores, the partners have donated about $100,000 of its sales to water efforts by non-governmental organizations Unicef and Care. "Ethos is more like a mission with a product vs. the other way around," Thum says. [USAToday.com]
Additional Reading:

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

On Service

The good in a service has little to do with the service itself, but with the kind of heart one brings to the task. An unwilling heart spoils a service by infecting it with feelings of resentment and anger. -- Malidoma Patrice Some writing about his grandfather's perspective in Of Water and the Spirit.

Wednesday Poetry Blogging

Odin (Odhinn, Woden, Wotan) is the chief divinity of the Norse Pantheon. Although Odin is a warrior god -- a god of fury and violent death -- he is also the god of poetry and speech. The Eddas speak of how he won Óðroerir... "the mead of inspiration" which allows poets to compose great poetry; and that he gave man the gift of "divine breath." Other sources credit Odin with being the origin of all language. As such, it seems only fitting that on Wednesday -- literally "the day of Woden" or "Woden's Day" -- we have a poem for him.

A Prayer To Odin

Odin, Allfather, one of your own needs watching over this night. He is a warrior of your people, a poet and skald, and a sailor. He has weathered many storms and battles. His six best friends are in your company in Valhalla or with Freyr. They each died in battle, and he suffers of wounds received in battle, also.

Odin, Allfather, save Tor for another battle. Let his poetry ring forth from his strong lips for years to come. Let him know some happiness with wife and children. He will come to you in time, let it not be soon. God of poets, battles, sailors and storms, watch over him.

Odin, Allfather, god of seafarers, guide him through the fever this night. Send forth Geri and Freki to devour death if it should come to him. Let Hugin and Munin perch upon his shoulders whispering words, words of the good life he has had, and the good life to come.

Odin, Allfather, father of the Valkyries, do not take him from Suzu, a strong woman herself, who is fit to be one of your own daughters. Don't break her heart. She has seen enough already. Do not take him from his brother and parents at such a young age. He has been your warrior; give him some years as your poet.

Odin, Allfather, should you not heed this prayer, should you take him for Valhalla now, let the world tremble beneath the feet of his shade. Let not his passing go unnoticed! So be it!

©Copyright May 22, 2002 by Charles L. Weatherford

Birdwatching with the President

Did our Dear Leader give a thumbs up response to an anonymous question from the crowd? Or did he display a slightly more hostile digit? Watch the video and decide for yourself:

I have to echo the newscaster's question: "What was that all about?!" My first guess is that Bush is simply doing what he does best -- that is, he is making an a$$ of himself while showing his disdain for anyone who is not one of his lackeys/handlers. Hey, you certainly know where you stand with him (or against him). But perhaps Bush's gestures are as difficult to interpret as his anguished attempts at public speaking. For it seems that there is more than one way to look at this incident. FinkTank3000 reports:
Some sites are removing the video because John Godfrey of Dow Jones said, “Bush did not flip anyone off. He was clearly giving a thumbs up in response to a question shouted from the crowd.” If that’s a thumb, the President is indeed all thumbs.
Check the FinkTank3000 link for a snippet of the Q&A session with Chief White House Denier, Scott McClellan. The Bush II Administration is clearly a classy act. ::: sigh :::

Have You Seen These People?

The ol' Junk Mail folder had a whopping 47 messages in it this morning. Now bear in mind that I empty this folder on a regular basis, so I had cleared it last night, probably around 11pm. But there they were, 47 brand new sp0rn messages. It boggles my mind and makes my skin crawl that there are spammers who are so insistent in spreading crude material that they blast it en masse to whomever they can. Does anyone ever click on their little ads for web-cams and illicit liasons? The percentage cannot be very high. But I guess any percentage is worth it to them ... I mean, they're not likely to get fined for doling out X-rated messages, are they? But at least I can get some small amusement from the names they chose as "senders" of their vile material. Here are some names from the latest round of e-bile:
  • Latex C. Harsh
  • Glimmer R. Russo
  • Rita V. Harmoniousness
  • Spuriousness L. Locust
  • Watercress U. Despair
  • Laterals H. Invalidity
  • Cheeping O. Virtuousness
  • Snorted O. Smuggled
  • Toboggans I. Armory
  • Humbles M. Sanctimonious
Nothing suspicious about those names, eh?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Coke Tux

Having been a child of the 70s and a teenager of the 80s, I've seen many strange clothing trends and projects. But this one is impressive. Gondoba (that's what he calls himself, and I don't know what it means) built his own prom tuxedo -- get this -- out of Coca Cola Cans. It's not a full tux, but he does have a jacket, vest, bow-tie, and even a corsage (for his date, natch) all made completely out of Coke cans.
Who says kids today are lazy? This is a downright inspired project! You really have to click and check out the full spread of photos. If Gondoba's reading this entry, my hat's off to you! And I have a question: How about making a tux completely out of Mac mice (the one-button variety) for your next project?

Kind of Chilly...

...in Hell. The folks at Apple -- staunch defenders of the one-button mouse -- have finally released a mouse with multibutton capability. And they did it with a mouse that doesn't actually have muliple buttons. From their website:
At $49, Mighty Mouse features the revolutionary Scroll Ball that lets you move anywhere inside a document, without lifting a finger. And with touch-sensitive technology concealed under the seamless top shell, you get the programability of a four-button mouse in a single-button design. Click, roll, squeeze and scroll.
Images from the Apple website:





More:

Monday, August 01, 2005

Quotable

Organizing gods is like herding cats into straight lines. They don't take naturally to it. -- Mr. Wednesday (from Neil Gaiman's American Gods)

Strung Along

NEW SCIENTIST Magazine (Issue date: 07/30/2005) has an article reporting that astronomer Mikhail Sazhin and his colleagues have found a one dimensional string. If confirmed, this find could not only strengthen String Theory, but also prove the existence of other dimensions. Text of article:

Is it a cosmic string we're seeing?

by Marcus Chown THE case for the existence of cosmic strings has just been boosted. If confirmed, these one-dimensional threads of energy that can span millions of light years could be the first sign of extra dimensions in the universe. Cosmic strings are predicted by string theory. They are gigantic counterparts of the strings that are thought to give rise to the fundamental particles of matter. String theory suggests that our universe may be a three-dimensional island, or "brane", and that the big bang was the result of a collision between our universe and another 3D brane. The collision would have given rise to one-dimensional cosmic strings, and finding such a string would strengthen the theory and support the idea that extra dimensions exist.

The immense energy of a cosmic string would warp the space-time around it. If one existed somewhere between us and a distant galaxy, say, the warped space-time would create two possible paths for the light from the galaxy to reach Earth. This would result in two identical images of the galaxy in our sky, just a whisker apart. Last year, that's exactly what Mikhail Sazhin of Capodimonte Astronomical Observatory in Naples, Italy, and the Sternberg Astronomical Institute in Moscow, Russia, and his colleagues found. They named the pair CSL-1 (New Scientist, 18 December 2004, p 30).

Many astronomers were sceptical of Sazhin's claim that a string was creating the images. Abraham Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said that CSL-1 is merely two very similar galaxies that happen to be close together. Now, Sazhin's team has presented more evidence that the two images are of the same galaxy. In March, the team used the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope at Paranal, Chile, to record detailed spectra of the two galaxies and found that they are identical (www.arxiv.org/astro-ph/0506400 ). This adds further weight to the possibility that CSL-1 is an artefact of a string, he says. "We are 99.9 per cent sure of this."

Loeb remains unconvinced. "It is not clear whether the quality of the spectra is sufficient to separate, for example, the Milky Way galaxy from the Andromeda galaxy in the local group of galaxies," he says. "Both the Milky Way and Andromeda might have similar spectra." He adds that if the astronomers could use their technique to tell these neighbours apart, then it would make their case for CSL-1 much stronger. Sazhin believes his team's technique would be precise enough to distinguish the Milky Way from Andromeda, even if they were as far away as CSL-1, but admits more work needs to be done to demonstrate this.

If a string is producing the twin galaxy images, the edges of the images should be extremely sharp, but our turbulent atmosphere prevents telescopes on Earth from detecting this. Now Sazhin has been granted turbulence-free observation time on the Hubble Space Telescope. "The resolution of the HST will allow us to detect the specific signature produced by the cosmic string," he says. "We hope it will reduce the scepticism of other astronomers."

More Strings and Things:

Find a Urinal

Steve informs us that there is more than one reason to look over one's shoulder -- even public restrooms are subject to e-cataloging.

Steve also provides this very good advice for searching on the Web, and I am sure all you Prophet or Madman-philes already follow 'em to a T:

  1. Alternate searches among many of the search engines
  2. Regularly delete the related cookies
  3. Search anonymously when possible.

Quotable

The image “http://www.brainwise.org/Images/quoteOpen.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.The world is not to be put in order, the world is order incarnate. It is for us to put ourselves in unison with this order.

-- Henry Miller (1891 - 1980)

Fave Bloggage Update

I haven't updated my Fave Bloggage list over there in the sidebar for a while. But since I have recently added to my already over-burdened daily reading, I decided to add two new links so that I can share these fine finds with the Prophet or Madman regulars (all two or three of you -- and you know who you are). For this update, one blog goes in a decidedly funny (and neo-con bashing) route, while the other walks a more serious path. So, weighing in with some serious knowledge and discussion is Science Blog, which has actually been around since late 2002 but has only recently found my attention. In their own words, more or less:
Science Blog is published by a team of science editors, writers and enthusiasts. ...[It] encompasses subjects ranging from Computers & Electronics to Bioscience & Medicine. It is read by a few hundred thousand unique visitors each month.
Try 'em out. You might end up being one of those unique visitors on a regular basis. Now that I have sufficiently stimulated your mind, allow me to tickle your funny bone. Or, rather, let Dependable Renegade do that. Maintained by the lovely and irrepressible Watertiger, Dependable Renegade strives to bring you the very best in cutting edge -- and often cut throat -- news photo captioning. Preznit Bush is often the target, but her victims are many and varied.