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Monday, February 28, 2005

Tijuana, Hard Rock Cafe on Avenida Revolucion. Posted by Hello

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Tijuana, Avenida Revolucion near sunset. Posted by Hello

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Tijuana, building on Avenida Revolucion. Posted by Hello

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Tijuana, Avenida Revolucion street scene. Posted by Hello

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Disneyland under construction for the 50th anniversary. Pictures taken early February. Posted by Hello

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Disneyland under construction for the 50th anniversary. Pictures taken early February. Posted by Hello

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this is an audio post - click to play

Learning this. And this.

But I won't inhale; heck, I probably won't even light the thing.

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With Eyes Wide Open...
...I could not confirm Erin's observation. You'll recall that Erin noticed that restaurant wait staff often compliments the man on his dinner choices (e.g. "excellent choice, sir"). I did not observe this Sunday night when I was with my wife and two teenage girls; my order was not praised any more than the orders placed by the females in the party.

However, there may be several reasons for this:

  • This was not "fine dining"; this was an On the Border in Mira Mesa.

  • The "wait staff" was female. I wonder if this praise is only lavished by male waiters.

  • I ordered a taco salad. How do you praise a taco salad?

Incidentally, this dinner visit was after a quick trip to Tijuana on Sunday. Pictures later.

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Fortune Cookie Monday

After my last rant (I was in Colorado a couple of summers ago, so I'm allowed) on horoscopes and fortunes and junk, I laughed when I read this fortune over the weekend:

You have a natural grace and great consideration for others.

If you were to choose two words to describe me, "natural grace" would not come to mind. Dancing is, to put it mildly, NOT my forte in the theatre productions in which I have participated. Last Friday (sick day) I tripped in my own bedroom, exciting the dog. (Then again, flies excite the dog.)

And "great consideration"? Let's just say that last Thursday night, I had a conversation with my daughter that was strangely reminiscient of the conversations that I occasionally have with my wife. In short, there are times when I don't empathize with others.

There's Chinese on the back of the fortune, but I have no idea what it says. Anyone have a guess?

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Saturday, February 26, 2005

The Cuban Film Industry, and Thai Breast Cream
From Yahoo's News of the Weird. Here's the first item:

"Good Morning, we've come to install your microphones," an agent says at the door in the opening line of an underground video making the rounds in Cuba.

"In what part of the house do you usually talk bad about the government?" he asks the nervous resident, a driver who pilfers gasoline and coffee from the state.

The spoof of Cuba's feared security police is in hot demand among Cubans, for whom black jokes and complaints about communist bureaucracy is a major pastime.

Made privately by well-known figures of Cuba's film industry, the 15-minute video is being passed around as a DVD. While many Cubans are talking about the video, not all have seen it because few Cubans have computers and even fewer DVD players.

Films satirizing the state's inefficiency have been tolerated in Cuba since the early days of President Fidel Castro (news - web sites)'s government, in power since a 1959 revolution.

But the bold video called "Monte Rouge" breaks Cuban taboos by poking fun at the Big Brother aspect of Cuban society, where Cubans feel they are constantly being spied on....

Perhaps Fidel would prefer this second item. Perhaps not.

A promotion for breast enhancing cream that involved three models having a 15 minute mammary massage in public has caused a furor in Thailand, with family groups saying it violates traditional values and morality.

Despite Bangkok's racy reputation as the "anything goes" sex capital of southeast Asia, most Thais are uncomfortable with public nudity and all newspaper pictures of the demonstration had the breasts blurred out....

The Nation said Ying, one of the models, was embarrassed at having to bare herself in front of the cameras, but did believe her breasts had become firmer and the gap between them smaller as a result of the treatment.

St Herb is likely to evade the wrath of regulators because the cream is "breast beautifying" rather than "breast enlarging" -- a trick missed by makers of a "breast enlarging bra" now under scrutiny from the Thai Food and Drug Administration.

Whether it works or not, a headline in the Thai Post tabloid summed up the controversy best in a society obsessed with marketing gimmicks: "Big breast bras good for people with small brains."

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How Now Brown Pau reports:

Not strictly referrer spam just yet, but someone with an IP in China just clicked through to my site from the location H:/2005 key words/hat/hatimports.htm. Sounds like someone's getting his linkfarm ready. ("Linkfarms" are those huge sites full of lists of links, usually auto-generated from search results, there to attract search engine bots and give the illusion of legitimate content.)...

Preemptive strike against referrer spammer. I noticed this spammer in my logs yesterday, but the domain was still unregistered -- an occasional strategy among spammers wishing to confuse reverse-DNS lookups. Well, it looks like someone else bought jagk.com before the spammer could, and turned it into an antispam resource. Domain "stolen?" Well, I wouldn't call it stealing, really; the guy bought it fair and square. I wonder how much a domain like that would fetch on eBay! ;

Also see here.

Here's what http://jagk.com/ says today:

I bought this domain to keep it out of a spammer's hands
Most likely you reached this site because of a link that appeared in your referrer logs. A new spammer tactic is to start spreading spam links before they register domains, to foil DNS lookups by anti-spammers. After seeing this domain pushed by a link spammer, I bought it before he could, and am now using it while I have it to spread the word about protecting your site from link spam.

(Oh, and mirror this content freely. This work is in the public domain. I may sell "jagk.com" in a few months.)...

Link Spammers are Evil And Twisted and Will Gladly Screw Up Your Site Just For Money
Link spammers roam the internet, posting unsolicited advertising for pornography, gambling, and drugs to weblog comments; machine-gunning trackback URLs with multiple pings; filling up your referrer logs with bogus links; and using up your website resources in the process, flooding your logs, consuming your bandwidth, even taking your site down. They are doing everything they can to fool search engines into thinking that you are linking to their junk, thus polluting your site -- and the rest of the web....

Your poorly maintained weblog may be a RED HOT SPAM MAGNET!
Did you jump on the blog bandwagon earlier on, only to forget about it a few weeks later? Or do you have comment notification turned off, and not care about what goes on in older entries? If your site is still up and running on old weblog software, the comment and trackback scripts are most likely attracting spam, using up your site's space and bandwidth, and polluting the rest of the web. You're part of the problem! Try searching your site for common spam strings. If you find spam in your comments or trackback sections, delete it, and follow the steps above to protect your weblog from further invasion.

These guidelines also apply for your referrer logs. If you're running public referrer logs, hide them behind a password, put a robots.txt in the referrer directory, and slap rel="nofollow" onto all links.

If you're not up to the task of keeping up with all this spam-related info, go with a centralized service like Blogger or Typepad or someone who'll take care of spam filtering on the server side. Today's web needs responsible and vigilant weblog owners!

If you want a wonderful example of how prevalent this stuff is, take the word "empoblog." Before I used it for my blog, I made sure that no one else was using it. Yet there is now a site that is supposedly devoted to empoblog - and the site creator doesn't even know what empoblog is. Here's what Google says:

Empoblog information and reviews updated daily.
Try us for the best in empoblog, with many suppliers and product categories
covering empoblog we stand out above the rest. Whether ...
empoblog.khs.co.uk/ - 15k - Feb 24, 2005 - Cached - Similar pages
For up to date information on Empoblog, Empoblog reviews, top
Empoblog suppliers,and related Empoblog subjects... ...
empoblog.ctr.co.uk/ - 30k - Feb 24, 2005 - Cached - Similar pages
chicago ticket brokers all star game 2003 comiskey
... The baseball game ... Ontario Empoblog. ... October 2003 November 2003 December
2003 January 2004 February 2004 ... going to be a star' on the air, and it ... ...
www.vertikal.ca/chicago-ticket-brokers-all.html - 15k - Cached - Similar pages
Severance Tool
... Other Product ... Carbide inserts. SEVERANCE TOOL. HSS & carbide rotary cutting
tools ... http://www.mts-online.com/products_c_t.htm Ontario Empoblog ... ...
www.employeeterminationguidebook.com/ resource1/7/severance-tool.html - 10k - Cached - Similar pages

For me, this is merely funny at this stage.

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New musical avenues
Daynah has a radio station using the services of RadioBlogClub. It's a downloadable application, but there's not a lot of explanation about how it works. For now, I'll stick to my LAUNCHcast station. You can't control it, but that's the beauty of it.

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Friday, February 25, 2005

You say you want prevarication, well, you know, we all want to change the world
I hadn't checked Two Truths and a Lie lately. Curtis may or may not be 26; you figure it out.

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Yeah, Nostradamus really wrote that
From Henry Rollins:

If youll give me one more chance
I swear that I will never lie to you again
Because now I see the destructive power of a lie
Theyre stronger than truth
I cant believe I ever hurt you
I swear
I will never to you lie again, please
Just give me one more chance
I will never lie to you again
I swear
That I will never tell a lie
I will never tell a lie
No, no
Ha ha ha ha ha hah haa haa haa haaa
Oh, sucker
I am a liar
Yeah, I am a liar
Yeah I like it
I feel good
Ohh I am a liar
I lie
I lie
I lie
Oh, I lie
Oh I lie
I lie
Ohhh Im a liar
I lie
I like it
I feel good
Ill lie again
And again
Ill lie again and again
And Ill keep lying
I promise

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Nostradamus Predicts Michael Jackson
OK, I admit that I'm usually a skeptic, but when I read this Nostradamus prophecy from 1702, I was completely shocked.

In the town of the Mother of our Lord
A man with one gloved hand
Will stand before an accuser much younger
And answer to depravity
Under the Juice of our Lord

Amazing. Explicit references to Santa Maria, Jackson's wearing of a single glove, child molestation, and even Jesus juice.

It's so close to the truth I'd swear I made it up myself.

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Fortune - more (and less) than a UNIX command
Horoscopes and psychic predictions and fortunes are the same thing to me, and have the same amount of relevance to reality. For example, J recently ruminated on the significance of this horoscope entry:

Whatever self-imposed rules have been preventing you from taking action, now it's time to move. You might seem like you're acting impulsively, but you've thought about this long and hard. Others could be surprised -- even shocked -- but this isn't your concern. You need only to pay attention to breaking away from negativity and moving toward your own destiny.

She read that, and immediately got to thinking.

I know- insane huh? How does that work? How do folks just come up with horoscopes? I've read mine pretty much everyday since I was 12. Not that I go by them all the time, but I keep it in the back of my mind, so that when something quirky happens, I can go "oooooh, I get it now!"

Of course, some baby seal clubbing idiot had to rain on her parade:

If you look at them objectively, horoscopes are written to vaguely that they can easily fit, or sorta fit, or kinda sorta fit, any real life situation. Probably about 100% of us are considering "taking action" about SOMETHING - relationships, work, self-improvement, stamp collecting, whatever. I pretty much ignore horoscopes...

Someone agreed:

Ummm horiscopes are kinda BS. Well not kinda they are BS. Dont put to much stock in em. They are a novelty at best. I would not base any decicion you make on them.

Then again we could all be wrong and the horiscopes hold the answers to all things...... that might explain why I have such bad luck with things =P.

Thats nice and vague, shoot i should write horiscopes.

As for psychic predictions, here's a list of failed psychic predictions for 2002:

[Gene] Emery said he looks for forecasts of truly unexpected events that only a psychic could foresee, not educated guesses from people who follow the entertainment industry.

The latest batch of predictions did not forecast the Florida election fiasco, Jimmy Carter winning the Nobel Peace Prize or the Maryland sniper case. Instead, the tabloid psychics were saying 2002 would be the year:
  • Satan would be discovered working in a homeless shelter, reading to the blind and delivering Meals on Wheels.

  • The Super Bowl would be cancelled after the first half because team owners would refuse to cough up an extra $10,000 for each player.

  • A time tunnel would be created to allow people to make a one-way trip back into time. (A way to make the return trip is supposed to be discovered in 2006.)

The accuracy of the other tabloid forecasts made at the beginning can't be judged, Emery says, because the psychics never say when the predictions will come to pass.

For example, the "world's top psychics and seers" say in the Sun that Prince Charles will marry Camilla Parker-Bowles in a royal shotgun wedding, the U.S. capital will move to Wichita, a gorilla fluent in sign language will lead a new religion, Elvis will be found buried next to Princess Di, animal performances will be banned, and Dick Clark will become a much-lauded ballet dancer. But they don't say when.

That means Clark, Prince Charles and Parker-Bowles will have to die before it becomes certain that these 'psychics' were incorrect, according to Emery, saying that's a common technique used by psychics, astrologers and other seers. "They love it when you can't prove them wrong."

Emery said he does his annual tracking of the tabloids and their sometimes-silly predictions to give consumers a reality check and show them that psychics, when put to the test, can't live up to their claims.

Well, other than the royal shotgun wedding part, one of the predictions is scheduled to come true soon:

Queen Elizabeth is one of the hottest contenders for the best celebrity mother award this year after she hit headlines for refusing to attend the forthcoming wedding of Prince Charles to Camilla Parker-Bowles, Sky News reports....

"The big surprise is that for the first time in the competition's history, the general public is voting for the queen," a spokesperson for the event said.

"The queen, it seems, is winning over supporters for successfully dealing with all the trials and tribulations that having children entails, while continuing to manage her busy life. She is one of the top four contenders for the title."...

Royal shotgun wedding? Sounds like Mom would rather shoot the son for marrying in the first place.

Meanwhile, Tara Lynn Johnson continues her long-standing Fortune Cookie Friday tradition by posting this fortune:

:) You will take a chance in something in near future. :)

Can you say vague? Well, check out the horoscope for my dog:

You are a hopeless moron who will believe the most vague statements are directly relating to you. Tonight, you will see something. Tomorrow, you will see something. Love may or may not happen to you. Death will happen to you.

I am simply amazed at the accuracy of this prediction. But if you really want to see something, read about how a student (Neil Marshall) wrote something that sounded like Michel de Nostredame, but subsequently (specifically, after September 11, 2001) people assumed that it WAS written by Michel de Nostredame, and even added text to make it a better fit. Here's what the student originally wrote:

At this point I would like to introduce to you what I call the "Infinite Monkey's Principle." Let's say that I have aquired an infinite amount of monkeys and an infinite amount of typewritters or word processors (It doesn't matter). Of course, as far as we know that is impossible to do (Unless you buy factory direct from me--send 500 trillion dollars to me (gold bullion only, liquid assets are not negotiable) But I digress... If these Infinite Amount of Monkeys are allowed to bang out whatever they want on the infinite typewriter, one of them will produce the complete works of Shakespear.

How? Simple if the Monkey's write random garbage but in an infinite amount, eventually because of the simple fact that it is inevitable (simple probability thought shows this).

How does this apply to Nostradamus? Well I will show you...

If I make say a thousand prophecies that are fairly abstract for example:

In the City of God there will be a great thunder, Two brothers torn apart by Chaos, while the fortress endures, the great leader will succumb

Well let us analyse this. For Example what does City of God mean? It could be Mecca, Medina, Rome, Jeruselum, Salt Lake City, or any holy city depending on your religion. What do I mean by thunder--a storm? War? EarthQuake? lots of stuff can be described by thunder. There are a lot of two brothers on this world (I think the Number runs among the Billions) and fortress edure's what--Besiegement, Famine, etc? What Great Leader? How will he succumb? To what?

Now let the prophecy rest for a few years. Add a couple thousand more. Eventually, one of them will fit close enought with events that have happened in the future that the prophecy will appear to come true. If you make enough prophecies and are intelligent enough to word them in such a way that they are abstract you become instant future see-er person. For example those psychics you see every year that make predictions for the year 199-whatever generally get one or two out of ten predictions right. It is because they are good guessers and that there is enough of them to make it seem like people can really predict the future.

Notice that Marshall didn't even mention "New York City" as a possible "city of God." Yet after September 11, 2001, the prophecy mutated into the following, supposedly written by Nostradamus in 1654 (even though he died in 1566):

In the year of the new century and nine months,
From the sky will come a great King of Terror.
The sky will burn at forty-five degrees.
Fire approaches the great new city

In the city of york there will be a great collapse,
2 twin brothers torn apart by chaos
while the fortress falls; the great leader will succumb;
third big war will begin when the big city is burning

All you have to do is add "Let's Roll" to the fake prophecy, plus something about a five-sided figure, and it would be perfect, wouldn't it?

OK, my next post is going to be a fake prophecy about Michael Jackson. Enjoy.

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Thursday, February 24, 2005

Don't Mess With a Popular Blogger
No, not me, silly. Joelle (a/k/a Tenth Muse). Here are excerpts from something that she posted on Wednesday. I encourage you to read the entire post, but here's the Reader's Digest version:

And, around 10:30am, I...hit the 24 Hr Fitness in Santee — the same gym I've been working out at since we moved out to this area....

[W]hen the girl at the counter scanned my card, she informed me that I would need to upgrade in order to workout there. I didn't realize it was a "Sport" gym, which is apparently one step above the ghetto membership I have — the "Active". I apologized for the misunderstanding and asked if I could just workout that day....She told me I'd have to talk to someone about an upgrade, but that they would more than likely just write me a pass. I agreed and she called someone to help me.

I stood there for 15 minutes before this gigantic bald muscley man who looked like a caricature of himself catches me out of the corner of his eye and asks, "Have you been helped?" I told him the brief run-down and he says, rather bluntly, "Well, that's too bad. All these other people paid and look at their bodies. It's not fair to them for you to workout here for free."...

I tried to remain calm and said, "I've been working out here since October and no one even mentioned to me that I might be working out in the wrong location. I apologize for the miscommunication, but I don't think you realize how hard it was for me to get here today. May I please just have a pass for today and I'll sort out the upgrade later? I really need to get back to work."

He looked me dead in the eye and said, "There is no pass. It's $20 a day if you want to workout here without being a member. There are no free rides, ma'am." I couldn't believe I was having this conversation. I told him that it's not free, that I pay my dues and have for well over a year, just like everybody else, just like all those people inside with their bodies. He just stared at me and said, "Twenty dollars. Sorry."...

Of course, then I realized that Barry (that was his name) was a testosterone-filled, juice-loaded, pious, territorial, discriminatory asshole that doesn't want "my kind" fattening up his precious gym and that he can go....

I think you can fill in the rest of Joelle's thought at that moment. Well, although she didn't purposely mean to target the particular location, she had mentioned that she was "helped" by Barry at the 24 Hr Fitness in Santee. Well, some of Joelle's readers took action, despite Joelle's urging them not to do so:

Eeek! Maybe I shouldn’t have posted the name and location. lol. I’m not looking to start a blogosphere/barry smackdown, though I appreciate the rallying. I’m just afraid that he’ll just say he never said that. There was no one around to hear, the girl was over in the shop area folding t-shirts or something. It was just the two of us…

I didn’t tell him off because… well, I don’t know why. I was stunned and shocked and I felt like an unworthy piece of shit.

Ok, so there it is. That’s why I didn’t tell him off.

comment by Joelle on 02.23.05 at 01:32 PM
Yeah I got the little dicked bastard.

Hahahaha! Just called. Asked for Barry. No worries I was very professional. He seemed UN-nerved. I asked him the name of the manager there,

“Why??? What’s wrong???”
“Oh Barry… I just need to talk to your manager.”
“Why did you call and ask for me???”
“Because I knew Barry, that I could get that info from you.”
“The manager’s name is G… What happened??????”

He is at this point losing his shit.

“Good bye Barry.”

Psychological warfare works well.

Love ya Jo! No one talks to my friend like that!! Especially after she cleans up my drunken puke from her car!

comment by raven on 02.23.05 at 01:35 PM
Wanna really twist barry’s gnat nuts?

I called and just asked for the Regional Manager’s name.

The girl answering the phone said out loud, “The REGIONAL managers name???”

Barry was in the background. I could hear his voice -totally recognizing him from the previous call earlier.

“Wait a minute! Wait a minute!”, he said in the background, “Tell them to hold on. Hold on!”

Darn cellphone lost signal. Oh well. He got the idea.

Off to go have a cocktail.

comment by raven on 02.23.05 at 02:07 PM
I normally lurk here but I’m inspired to comment. I feel the need for prank calling Barry the Gym Rat Bastard.

comment by Dacia on 02.23.05 at 03:44 PM
Thank you for your support everyone.

A letter is being written and it’ll be taken care of. Thanks so much. No prank calls necessary. hehe.

comment by Joelle on 02.23.05 at 03:46 PM
Thank you, everyone, for your well-wishes and kind words. I’m going to close comments on this now, as I think 60 is more than enough. lol. if you want to add to this, though, you can reach me via email, if you like.

But thank you so much!

comment by Joelle on 02.24.05 at 07:50 AM

So, the lesson for Barry at the 24 Hr Fitness in Santee - remember that EVERY customer has friends.


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Audioblogging on Hold
I'm catching a chest cold, and talking is not on my high priority list of things to do...

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Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Weather and Moss
this is an audio post - click to play

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The Appeal of Audioblogging
And the Southern girls, with the way they talk,
They knock me out when I'm down there.

Go here and listen to this audio post. First, listen to the voice. Then, listen to the content.

Incidentally, I was mistaken in the comment that I posted. Mini-Me had actually gone to a corner:

After Verne [Troyer, a/k/a "Mini-me"] seems to be able to sleep without moaning, everyone turns in for the night. Going back to bed, Da Brat finds the enormous Chyna Doll sleeping half on the bed, half off, snoring louder than anyone I have ever heard. Including louder than last season’s Flavor Flav. The biatch can SNORE. Unable to deal with the horrendous noise, Da Brat grabs her bedding and heads for the couch. But on her way to the sofa, Da Brat encounters a most disturbing sight – Mini-me has climbed aboard his scooter – BUCK ASS NAKED - and is driving down the hall to what appears to be the work out room. Verne heads to the corner of the room, saddles up to the side of the scooter seat, and begins to PEE in the corner!!! Da Brat, uncomfortable and not knowing what to do, says, “Baby, that’s not the bathroom.” Verne says, “This is the bathroom” in response. She stares dumbfoundedly, then goes to wake up Chris [Knight] by saying, “Chris? He’s right outside your door…. Pissing.”

Chris and Marc [Schenkenberg; no, I haven't heard of him before either] peek out from behind the curtain that separates their room from Verne’s self appointed peeing corner. Chris says, “What’s up babe?” Verne says, “I’m drunk.” Chris says, “Yeah… and naked. It’s all just a little strange.” Verne says, “Strange? What’s strange? This whole thing is strange…. And I’m naked.” Marc then pipes in, “And that’s strange.” Chris starts laughing and saying, “I’m at a loss.” As he grabs the curtain separating the rooms, the curtain rod falls on his head, sending everyone but the drunken, confused and peeing Verne into a fit of laughter. Verne seems to sit quietly contemplating the fallen curtain and his nakedness.

This makes Big Brother seem like high art.

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You Can Feel Better By Criticizing Someone Else
Remember the common belief that American kids are so danged stupid that Europe and Japan will take over the world.

Not quite.

North Korea has menaced Japan with missiles, kidnapped its citizens and stands between it and a place in the soccer World Cup finals, but one in four Japanese high-school students can't place the country on a map.

And the country is right next door (well, on the other side of the Sea of Japan).

Then again, perhaps North Koreans are unable to find South Korea on a map. Knowledge about South Korea may not fit into the curriculum:

As in other communist countries, politics come first in the education system. In his 1977 "Theses on Socialist Education," Kim Il Sung wrote that "political and ideological education is the most important part of socialist education. Only through a proper political and ideological education is it possible to rear students as revolutionaries, equipped with a revolutionary world outlook and the ideological and moral qualities of a communist. And only on the basis of sound political and ideological education will the people's scientific and technological education and physical culture be successful." Education is a "total experience" encompassing not only formal school education but also extracurricular "social education" and work-study adult education. According to the "Theses on Socialist Education," the socialist state should not only organize and conduct comprehensive educational programs, eliminating the need for private educational institutions, but should also "run education on the principle of educating all members of society continuously--the continued education of all members of society is indispensable for building socialism and communism."

Chuch'e is a central theme in educational policy. According to Kim Il Sung, "in order to establish chuch'e in education, the main emphasis should be laid on things of one's own country in instruction and people should be taught to know their own things well." In his 1983 speech to education ministers of nonaligned countries, Kim also emphasized that chuch'e in education was relevant to all Third World countries. Kim asserted that although "flunkeyism" should be avoided, it might be necessary to adopt some techniques from developed countries.

Closely tied to the central theme of chuch'e in education is the "method of heuristic teaching"--a means of developing the independence and creativity of students and a reaction against the traditional Confucian emphasis on rote memorization. "Heuristics give students an understanding of the content of what they are taught through their own positive thinking, and so greatly help to build up independence and creativeness." Coercion and "cramming" should be avoided in favor of "persuasion and explanation," particularly in ideological education....

School curricula in the early 1990s are balanced between academic and political subject matter. According to South Korean scholar Park Youngsoon, subjects such as Korean language, mathematics, physical education, drawing, and music constitute the bulk of instruction in people's schools; more than 8 percent of instruction is devoted to the "Great Kim Il Sung" and "Communist Mora1ity." In senior middle schools, politically oriented subjects, including the "Great Kim Il Sung" and "Communist Morality" as well as "Communist Party Policy," comprise only 5.8 percent of instruction. However, such statistics understate the political nature of primary and secondary education. Textbooks in the Korean language, for example, include titles such as We Pray for "Our Master," Following Mrs. Kim, Our Father, Love of Our Father, and Kim Jong Il Looking at Photos. Kindergarten children receive instruction in "Marshal Kim's Childhood" and "Communist Morality." Park noted that when students read Kim Il Sung's writings in the classroom, they are expected to do so "loudly, and slowly and with a feeling of respect." They also are taught a special way of speaking toward Kim, in terms of pronunciation, speed, and a special deference system and attitude."...

Kim Il Sung University, founded in October 1946, is the country's only comprehensive institution of higher education offering bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. It is an elite institution whose enrollment of 16,000 full- and part-time students in the early 1990s occupies, in the words of one observer, the "pinnacle of the North Korean educational and social system." Competition for admission to its faculties is intense. According to a Korean-American scholar who visited the university in the early 1980s, only one student is admitted out of every five or six applicants. An important criterion for admission is senior middle school grades, although political criteria are also major factors in selection. A person wishing to gain acceptance to any institution of higher education has to be nominated by the local "college recommendation committee" before approval by county- and provincial-level committees.

Kim Il Sung University's colleges and faculties include economics, history, philosophy, law, foreign languages and literature, geography, physics, mathematics, chemistry, atomic energy, biology, and computer science. There are about 3,000 faculty members, including teaching and research staff. All facilities are located on a modern, high-rise campus in the northern part of P'yongyang.

The text above was written in the early 1990s, so the North Koreans were publicly educating people in...um...atomic ENERGY even back then. Heh.

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More information on craniopagus parasiticus
See here for my original post on this. You'll recall that there was a debate as to whether removal of the second head constituted murder. Here's another issue to consider (emphasis mine; note that this was written before the Egyptian case):

craniopagus parasiticus / epicome : craniopagus in which a parasitic head is attached to the head of the larger, more nearly normal twin. It results from compromise of the blood supply to one of a pair of craniopagus conjoined twins. It differs from craniopagus conjoined twins in that the body and limbs of the parasitic twin are underdeveloped, leaving in some cases only a parasitic head, inserted on the crown of the autositic twin. The infant is otherwise healthy but her brain cannot develop normally unless the undeveloped head is removed. There have only been 8 documented cases in the worldref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, and 1 only case where surgery has been attempted to correct itref5. The first case of this malformation was Everard Home's famous Twin-Headed Boy of Bengal, whose skull is preserved at the Hunterian Museum. A ninth case occurred in Dominican Republic : Rebeca Martinez was born in Dec 10 2003 from 26-year-old mother Maria Gisela Hiciano and 29-years old father Franklyn Martinez (which have 2 other children ages 4 and 1) at a hospital in Santo Domingo. On Feb 6, 2004, the medical team led by neurosurgeons Dr. Jorge Lazareff (director of pediatric neurosurgery at the University of California at Los Angeles' Mattel Children's Hospital) and Dr. Benjamin Rivera (at the CURE International Center for Orthopedic Specialties) completed the operation on the 8-week-old girl, which doctors believe to be the first of its kind, in nearly 14 hours, saying it went smoothly : 18 surgeons, nurses and doctors took several rotations to cut off the undeveloped tissue, clip the veins and arteries, and close the skull using a bone and skin graft from the second head. The operation was critical because the head on top was growing faster than the lower one and without an operation the child would barely be able to lift her head at 3 months old. After what seemed to be a very successful surgery that ended about 10:30 last evening, post-op hemorrhaging caused doctors to perform surgery again at 1:30am to try and stop the bleeding : she passed away early the morning of Feb 7 around 8am

I don't know how abnormally the brain would develop, but in my mind this provides more justification for the removal of the second head.

By the way, here's an update on Manar Maged:

"Manar Maged is in a stable condition -- no fever, no bleeding, no problems and no post-surgery complications," said Dr. Naseif Hefnawi, director of Benha Neonatal Hospital.

Hefnawi, a member of the team that operated Feb. 19 on Manar, said the "girl's brain is regaining its activity, her breathing is regulated and she moves her limbs easily and normally."

Hopefully, he said, Manar can be removed from a ventilator and transferred out of the Intensive Care Unit in about a week.

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First Audioblogger Test
Also see Audioblogger, Daily Mishaps.

this is an audio post - click to play

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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Dr. Gene Scott is Dead
Jimmy Akin links to a Netscape/CNN story.

Gene Scott, the shaggy-haired, cigar-smoking televangelist whose eccentric religious broadcasts were beamed around the world, has died, a family spokesman said. He was 75....

The longtime pastor of Los Angeles University Cathedral began hosting a nightly television broadcast of Bible teaching in the mid-1970s. His University Network eventually aired a nightly talk show and Sunday morning church services on radio and television stations in about 180 countries.

Scott's church, a Protestant congregation of more than 15,000 members, raised millions of dollars through round-the-clock Internet and satellite TV broadcasts, where he would demand of viewers: ``Get on the telephone!'' to donate.

In some of his speeches, Scott would deliver complex lectures on Biblical languages to make points about the meaning of faith. But he also spoke on current events, sometimes lacing his sermons with profanity....

Scott, the son of a traveling preacher, had a lavish lifestyle that included a chauffeured limousine, contact with political bigwigs and, he claimed, 300 horses.

But he also spent lavishly on charity....

His own web page includes a biography:

Dr. Gene Scott earned his Ph.D. in Philosophies of Education at California's prestigious Stanford University in 1957; in 1992, he was the featured cover story for the Stanford Alumni Magazine. For over 40 years he has served as an ordained minister, including 15 years in the mission field and in executive capacities with major Protestant denominations and educational institutions, 15 years of which he was a Director, Vice President and President of the denomination before refusing re-election to concentrate on the Los Angeles pastorate.

In 1975, Dr. Scott was elected pastor of Faith Center, a 45-year old church of congregational polity in Glendale, California. In that same year, Dr. Scott began to host a nightly live television broadcast, over "The University Network," of straight talk, Bible teaching and eclectic programming, including in recent years the outstanding performances of the University Network Equestrian Team, with world-champion American Saddlebred horses, and world-champion Hunters and Jumpers competing in charity horse shows world-wide (including 20 percent of the U. S. Equestrian Team in 1991). Lately, his programming has featured his beautiful and talented wife, Melissa, as lead singer at the Cathedral, along with other friends in athletic activities on locations around Los Angeles and throughout America.

In 1983, the University Network began broadcasting 24 hours a day via satellite to North America and much of Mexico and the Caribbean. The congregation grew to over 50,000 families in succeeding years (including the 15,000 locally), with affiliate television and radio stations broadcasting Dr. Scott's Sunday church services and nightly talk show. In 1990, Dr. Scott became the international voice of "The University Network" which broadcasts by radio to 180 countries of the world (and over four television stations locally). By 1992, the Network had wired the world for sound, broadcasting on medium and short-wave stations around the world, 24 hours a day. Today, the programs are broadcast live over Radio Moscow from Russia via two Russian satellites and transmitters in Krasnodar, Samara and Novosibirsk in Russia, from Mt. Hermon in Israel, from Anguilla in the Caribbean, from Swaziland in Africa, from 5 transmitters in Costa Rica 24 hours each day, from Dallas, Texas, and Nashville, Tennessee, making it the most expansive short-wave radio network in the world, with programming in English, Spanish, Portuguese and French (bigger than the BBC or Voice of America). Every spot on the globe receives 24-hour programming.

Dr. Scott has written and published some 20 books, has logged over 50,000 hours of television and radio teaching played world-wide daily, and is immersed in a multitude of activities. He is a philosopher, artist, philanthropist, philatelist, equestrian and bibliophile. His art is treasured by its owners, and he has painted well over 1000 watercolors, acrylics or oils that have won international acclaim.

Dr. Scott's main church, known as "The Los Angeles University Cathedral," has more than 15,000 members in the Greater Los Angeles area, and thus is the largest Protestant church in Downtown Los Angeles. Both the Cathedral and the world-famous "Jesus Saves" signs are designated "Historic Monuments." Hundreds gather for Sunday services in this Spanish Baroque-style architectural masterpiece to make a statement about an "upward look" amidst the hustle and bustle of downtown commerce....

Religious leaders among the Los Angeles community who have spoken out in support of Dr. Scott include Jess Moody, Pastor of the largest Baptist church west of the Rockies, Shepherd of the Hills Church in Chatsworth (formerly First Baptist Church in Van Nuys); Rabbi William Kramer, Beverly Hills; and Reverend E. V. Hill, Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Los Angeles. Reverend Jesse Jackson preached as Dr. Scott's guest from the platform of the Los Angeles University Cathedral in June 1995, and other prominent religious, cultural and civic leaders are frequent guests at the Sunday services....

I didn't even realize Scott was sick:

Preacher Agrees to Cancer Surgery
September 21, 2004

Gene Scott, a flamboyant televangelist who previously relied on faith healing to cure his prostate cancer, announced he would undergo surgery Monday at UCLA Medical Center, saying his disease had run "out of control."

A statement by three of his organizations said the 75-year-old preacher had discovered this month that a "golf ball-sized cancer" had spread to his bladder from his prostate, where cancer was first diagnosed four years ago. The statement said Scott would also undergo radiation treatment and chemotherapy, which could prolong his life for two years.

The spread of cancer "comes as a sobering shock to this religious leader who advocates faith healing" instead of regular medical care, said the statement by his Los Angeles University Cathedral, University Broadcast Systems and Wescott Center. Scott made the announcement of his impending surgery on his global telecast Sunday.

A spokeswoman for UCLA Medical Center could not confirm Scott's surgery, saying no patient had checked in under his name. Calls to Scott's toll-free message line were not returned.

Scott - a blunt-talking, cigar-chomping preacher who claims 15,000 Los Angeles congregants and a worldwide satellite television audience - planned to return to his regular broadcast this Sunday. Scott has never dissuaded followers from receiving medical treatment, saying only that he wanted to "give God the first shot" before resorting to traditional medical care.

A 1994 article about Scott can be found here.

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Monday, February 21, 2005

Go Grandaddy
OK, so I'm looking at an old story, but it may become new again. Bob Parsons posted the following in his blog, dated February 17:

Transfers to GoDaddy.com from other registrars are up significantly.

We also saw a large surge in customers from other domain name registrars transferring their domain names to GoDaddy.com. Transfers to GoDaddy.com from other domain name registrars, during Super Bowl week, were up 36%. Many customers transferring domain names to us said that until they watched the commercial and checked out GoDaddy.com, they had no idea they could pay only $8.95 a year for their domain name, and get things like domain forwarding (with or without masking) for free. Others said they simply could not believe that our beginning Web site hosting plan provides 500MB of storage with 25GB of bandwidth, and many other extras and costs only $3.95 a month with no setup fee or commitment. (Note: Sorry for the shameless self promotion, but this is what people were telling us).

Incidentally, godaddy is now posting six commercials on its website, including two brand new ones. "Biker" and "Paparazzi" have a greater emphasis on godaddy.com's specific selling points, and the only tie-ins to the previous commercial are the appearances of "Nikki Cappelli" (Candice Michelle Beckman), and the way in which she highlights the name of the company to the biker and the photographer. Parsons is betting that people will absorb the audio message of the commercial while looking at the...um...company name. (Please note that no straps were harmed in the making of either of the two new commercials.)

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Ontario, the Name
In response to a search request (actually, a mistyped search request), I present the following:


The name was first applied to the lake (1641) and is traceable to Amerindian sources. It may be a corruption of Onitariio, meaning "beautiful lake", or Kanadario, variously translated as "sparkling" or "beautiful" water. Later European settlers gave the name to the land along the lakeshore and then to an ever extending area. "Old Ontario" was a term sometimes loosely applied to the southern portion of the province. Entered Confederation as the province of Ontario, 1867.

Source: Hamilton, William B. (1978): The Macmillan book of Canadian place names, Macmillan of Canada, Toronto, p. 155.

In other search news, there appears to be renewed interest in Angi Taylor, but I don't know why. Someone is searching for a Krystal Fernandez blog, and someone else wanted a picture of Krystal Fernandez naked. (Sorry, no have.) Only one recent search for "Nikki Cappelli" (a/k/a Candice Michelle Beckman), one search for Rock Steady Krissa, and one search for the Victoria Gardens Shopping Center in Ontario (it's actually in Rancho Cucamonga).

Thanks, Blogpatrol.

Incidentally, days like today demonstrate the drawbacks of the Victoria Gardens design concept. As I said way back in October:

The advantage of Victoria Gardens is that it is mostly outdoors.

The disadvantage of Victoria Gardens is that it is mostly outdoors. (It does rain here at times.)

I then went into something about Tammy Wynette or Tanya Tucker or one of those people. But, more to the point, I know of at least one group of people who decided to go to Ontario Mills instead of Victoria Gardens today. As ex-ex-Satanic priest Mike Warnke said, "Stuff happens."

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Double Coverage
It isn't often that Dear Buster and Jimmy Akin discuss the same topic. (For the record, Buster objected to MSNBC's use of the term "parasitic," whereas Akin considered the whole thing murder.) Here's MSNBC's take (for pre-separation pictures, click on the MSNBC link or the Buster link):

Baby stable after second head removed
10-month-old girl suffered from 'parasitic' twin birth defect

An Egyptian baby born with two heads was in stable condition on Sunday after doctors at a provincial hospital removed one of the heads in a 13-hour operation, the doctors said....

Manar was born with a rare condition known as craniopagus parasiticus, which occurs when an embryo begins to split into identical twins but fails to complete the process. One of the conjoined twins fails to develop fully in the womb.

As in the case of a girl who died after similar surgery in the Dominican Republic a year ago, the second twin had developed no body. The head that was removed from Manar had been capable of smiling and blinking but not independent life, doctors said....

Because this case occurred in Egypt, I wonder what Islamic theologians had to say about the issue.

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Saturday, February 19, 2005

It's the government, stupid
A few days ago I blogged about a beauty pageant earlier this month that used employees of Russia's Ministry of the Interior as the contestants. Little did I realize that the Russian Ministry of the Interior is apparently a hotbed of beauty (emphasis mine):


New York, New York, May 31, 2002 - In a rare Wednesday win, the Miss Universe competition had the advantage over the heavily promoted NBA playoffs winning the Wednesday night with an eight percent advantage over NBC. The pageant's overnight ratings reached an 8.5 out of a 13 share in the battle of beauty vs. basketball.

Multi-Platinum, Grammy Award winning Latin super-star Marc Anthony performed at the 51ST ANNUAL MISS UNIVERSE® 2002 competition live from San Juan, Puerto Rico and the show was hosted by actress and model Daisy Fuentes and NFL great Phil Simms.

Oxana Fedorva, Miss Russia, was crowned at the conclusion of the two-hour primetime telecast, before an estimated worldwide viewing audience of 600 million in more than 176 countries and territories. The 24-year-old beauty is a lecturer at the University of the Ministry of Interior in St. Petersburg, Russia, and is also a post-graduate student working on her Civil Law PHD.

However, Oxana Federova's reign was short:

On Sept. 23, 2002, the pageant world was set on its ear with the announcement that Justine Pasek of Panama was the new Miss Universe. Oxana Fedorova of Russia, who had won the title the previous May, was suddenly a former queen. The circumstances were disputed. Pageant officials said Ms. Fedorova had been fired for violating her contract, and news leaks indicated she might even be married and pregnant. She denied these rumors and insisted she had left willingly.

Her career did not stop after her Miss Universe reign:

Oxana decided to expand her horizons and moved to Saint Petersburg where she attended the Russian Interior Ministry University. Oxana once again, she graduated with honors and soon began a doctoral program in Civil Law; she successfully defended her Ph.D. dissertation in Civil Law on December 27, 2002. While working on her doctorate degree, Oxana also taught classes at the university, and currently she continues with her teaching duties as a professor of Civil Law....

After her reign as Miss Universe 2002, Oxana returned to Russia, where she embarked in other very exciting endeavors. She was cast as the host of Spokoinoi Nochi, Malishi, the number one television children's show in Russia, and in July 2003, she was a co-host of the 2003 and 2004 Russian version of the very popular European game show, Fort Boyard.

She also became the co-chairman of Russia's social youth movement “Energy of Life”, and became a member of the Pro Kremlin Russian Party of Life. Oxana is a true role model and an inspiration. She is a modern woman whose sincerity, strong will, and intelligence have given her incredible accomplishments.

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Why the Planes Are Full
Argh. Argh.

OBERSTDORF, Germany....Teenager Rok Benkovic stunned a host of favourites to hand Slovenia their first ever medal from the world nordic skiing championships when he won the normal hill ski jump crown....

Rok, an 18-year-old student from Ljubljana who has never been on a World Cup podium, took the lead of the competition after a first jump of 101 metres....

It was Slovenia's first ever medal from a world nordic ski championships since the country secured independence from Yugoslavia....

Double argh.

OBERSTDORF, Germany....Belarus cross-country skier Denis Vorobiev was suspended for two years Saturday after world ski officials said a bag belonging to him was found with the banned substance HGH.

FIS said in a press release that Vorobiev left the bag with human growth hormone behind at a doping control station on Dec. 10 during the World Cup held in Val di Fiemme, Italy.

Vorobiev's results will be nullified from the date the bag was found, and his suspension starts Saturday. He finished 44th in a 15-kilometre freestyle event Thursday at the nordic world championships in Oberstdorf.

Why do you think they call it doping?

But it's boodiful:

It’s not an easy task describing overwhelming beauty, that’s for sure. Can a photograph convey the fragrance of a herb meadow? Can a sentence possibly express the magic of the alpenglow?

But let's get to the point:

The highlight of the winter season 2004/2005 will be the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships held in Oberstdorf (February 16-27,2005), during which participants will compete for world championship medals in cross country, ski-jumping and the Nordic combined.

For these events, but also prior to them in time for the start of the 4-Hill-Tournament in December 2004, the Schattenberg World Championship ski-jumping stadium is to be converted into one of the world’s most modern and safest ski-jumping facilities. This involves an increase in its seating capacity from a present 18,000 to 24,000 spectators.

Around twenty minutes walk away from the Oberstdorf town centre there is the „Im Ried“ area where the new cross country skiing centre featuring an extensive and extremely sophisticated network of tracks is presently being prepared for the World Championships. Those who would like to follow in the „footsteps“ of Evi Sachenbacher are welcome to take the opportunity of using the World Championship tracks – except, of course, during the period in which the events are being held.

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Empoblog is a State of Mind
One of the reasons that I chose the word "Empoblog" as part of the name for this blog was because of its uniqueness. At the time I chose the word, no one else was using it (nor would they care to).

Because of this, it's amazing how many occurrences of the word "Empoblog" can be Googled. In addition to places where you or I have purposely used the term (as part of a reference to the Ontario Empoblog), certain search-suckers have found it fit to somehow incorporate the term into text at their website.

For example, if you want "up to date information on Empoblog, Empoblog reviews, top Empoblog suppliers,and related Empoblog subjects," you can go to the website empoblog.ctr.co.uk.

One of the funnier references can be found in the Wedding Vows and Prayer Directory - Texas. It's not funny because I never talk about weddings, prayer, or Texas - I talk about all three - but I ended up on this website because of my reference to a Madonna song (which supplied the "prayer" part of the link text).

And why is a so-called Louisiana Travel Guide interested in "Angie" (Angi) Taylor and Q102?

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Is the fake SEC still after me?
I haven't checked out Blogshares in a while. No press releases, but a lot of incoming and outgoing links (scroll to the bottom).

Top 100 Incoming Links

This is a list of the most valuable incoming links at the time OTHER blogs are indexed. It is indicative of FUTURE value not CURRENT value.

Simple Ramblings of a Complex Life (B$1,403.81)
Oppose Traffic Calming Obstructions (B$1,144.37)
KOER Synthetica Radio Transcripts (B$1,144.37)
musings of a genetic mishap (B$996.02)
Dear Buster (B$704.81)
The Hot Librarian (B$435.95)
I15 Property News (B$349.24)
shrinkette (B$327.51)
Inland Empress (B$310.12)
Vadergrrrl's Rant Page (B$270.27)
isn't she lovely? (B$266.34)
German For Beginners (B$239.82)
The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century (B$237.66)
All Things Jen. (B$228.61)
eclecticism (B$198.24)
Serial Blogonomy (B$116.78)
erin-go-blog! (B$113.44)
Anomalous Noodge (B$99.49)
Potomac Ponderings (B$56.93)
Your Philosophy Sucks (B$51.44)
A Mama's Rant (B$37.76)
LeftNuts.com - Making the Liberal Legion of the Left Look Silly Oops... too late (B$33.25)
It's the end of the world as we know it... (B$27.75)
test (B$24.44)
Future Technology (B$.81)

All Outgoing Links

This is a list of all recognised outgoing links from this blog. It may not be accurate or complete.

A Lumbering Soul
All Things Jen.
annika's journal
Anomalous Noodge
Ari Goes Down
Barefoot* Principessa
being jennifer garrett
Bilge Flaps
Blackfive -- The Paratrooper Of Love
Bloglines | News
BlogPulse : Automated Trend Discovery
Blogs for Bush
BlogShares - Fantasy Blog Share Market
Boys Are Dumb
Cox & Forkum
Cracker Squire
Dave Barry's Weblog
Dawn's Nook
Dear Buster
Diary of a Flight Attendant @ journalspace
Diner Bitch
Do the Panic
Fat Irish
Field of Streams
first time for everything
Flirt In A Skirt
Franklin Avenue
Garfield Ridge
German For Beginners
Green footballs politics
Hi! My Name is Eric.
I Woke Up For This?
I'm Procrastinating
isn't she lovely?
It's Matt's World
It's My Life!!!!
It's the end of the world as we know it...
JIMMY AKIN.ORG: The Defensor Fidei Blog
Josie's Jaunts!
Kids, Cats, and BNL
KOER Synthetica Radio Transcripts
Koree's Blog
L.A. Observed
le petit hiboux .. small but FIESTY
life of robert
Life's Just Ducky: Quack Quack!
Manifest Content
Metroblogging NYC
Metroblogging Orange County
Metroblogging San Francisco
Much Throwing About of Brains
musings of a genetic mishap
Muslims For Nader/Camejo
My Nonsense
One way mirror to the soul
Oppose Traffic Calming Obstructions
Pacific Views
Paul Musgrave Dot Com
please tell me why......
Potomac Ponderings
Removable Tutu
RIP _______
Sailing Down the Stream of Consciousness
Serial Blogonomy
shark for brains
shivery timbers: ninjas and lasers and gold.
Simple Ramblings of a Complex Life
Smeagol says
Superfluous Juxtaposition in Los Angeles
T.M.I. About April
Technorati: Web Services for bloggers
Tha Spot
The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century
The Agonist
The Chronicles of 27
The Evolving Word
The Hot Librarian
The John and Ken Show
the kate blog
The Little Irish Girlie
The Redhead Wore Crimson
The World Wide Rant
This Fish Needs A Bicycle
Tiny Little Dots
TLJ's Thoughts of the Day
tonypierce.com + busblog
Vadergrrrl's Rant Page
Written Inc.
Your Philosophy Sucks
Zany Sports Lady

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The Story So Far, Said Ernest Tubb
Lovely Rita, meter maid
Empty head for lemonade
Black, white, graying in the shade
One big game already played
Eastern cowboy, radio trade
Estephania blew my mind
Yes, I don't that doesn't rhyme
Mindy, Mindy, do your time
In the atic, pop star slime...

Four days. That's enough for me.

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Don't worry, be happy
Urban Dictionary:

A word that appears on moterway bridges in north west UK. It's only purpose to annoy drivers who are left with a nagging curiosity for the rest of their day until the next day when it ceases to become important ever again.

And then there's a Grand Theft Auto news and resource site. I don't know why. [Read on.]

Actually, I do know why. Because WebWench at Resplendently Pedestrain said so.

Reading through my Gmail box today, I randomly check my Spam folder, just in case someone gets accidently stuck there (I once saw a butterfly get stuck to flypaper - getting stuck in the spam folder is kinda like that).

Today, this is what I found. I'm not PRECISELY sure it's spam, but I'm not precisely sure it's not.

Call out Gouranga be happy!!! Gouranga Gouranga Gouranga .... That which brings the highest happiness!! (Neateye: NitaiGouranga@aol.com)

So WebWench found a German explanation.

Who is Gouranga?
In 2004 and 2005 we received several spams....We didn't have a clue what it was supposed to mean and got annoyed enough about it that we sent abuse complaints to the provider used for sending the spam.

After another recent spam of this type in January 2005 we did some research. Here is what we found:

Gauranga (Gouranga) was a nickname of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, a monk in India who 500 years ago founded the branch of Hinduism that during the 20th century was brought to the west by ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness, better known as the "Hare Krishna" sect).

Years ago the name Gouranga appeared on motorway bridges in the North of England and on various stickers, causing people to wonder what it was all about. It has been rumoured that the Scottish branch of ISKCON has been trying to spread the name of their spiritual ancestor through a guerilla-type campaign. We have no idea if there is any substance to these rumours. It's equally plausible that this is just somebody's sense of humour. Hare Krishna-related jokes in popular culture are not unkommon, such in the movie "Airplane" or the "Gouranga" references in the Playstation videogame "Grand Theft Auto".

See? I know why now. [Read off?]

And for all of us old people who sang "Krishna, Krishna," here's the scoop:

The story starts in 1962, when "He's So Fine" was recorded. It was composed by Ronald Mack, recorded by the Chiffons, and was owned by Bright Tunes Music Corp. in 1971 (the opinion does not say if the song was originally published by Bright; however, as Paul McCartney can tell you, ownership of song copyrights can be transferred from one publishing company to another). It was a big hit in the United States, hitting the top of the Billboard charts for five weeks....

In December, 1969, George was playing in Copenhagen, Denmark, with Delaney and Bonnie and Friends. Billy Preston was part of that group. Harrison told the court that the song that became "My Sweet Lord" was conceived when he slipped away from a press conference and began "vamping" some guitar chords, fitting the chords to the words "Hallelujah" and "Hare Krishna."...

The [Billy] Preston recording was issued by Apple Records, and a "lead sheet" containing the melody, words and harmony was submitted for the United States copyright application.

However, it was not the version recorded and released by Billy Preston that led to two decades of litigation. George Harrison recorded a version of "My Sweet Lord" for his album, "All Things Must Pass," and released MSL as the first single from that album. It was released on November 28, 1970 in the United States and was a number one hit shortly thereafter.

On February 10, 1971, before it even completed its fourteen-week run on the chart, Bright Tunes filed suit against George, his English and American companies, (Harrisongs Music, Ltd. and Harrisongs Music, Inc., respectively), Apple Records, BMI, and Hansen Publications....

The trial on the issue of liability was conducted on February 23-25, 1976. At that trial, the judge was called upon to make an analysis of the music of both HSF and MSL....Both sides called expert witnesses to support their contentions, and Harrison himself testified about the process that occurred in writing MSL. After hearing the testimony and considering the evidence, the judge found MSL did indeed infringe upon HSF's copyright....

With all the evidence pointing out the similarities between the two songs, the judge said it was "perfectly obvious . . . the two songs are virtually identical". The judge was convinced that neither Harrison nor Preston consciously set out to appropriate the melody of HSF for their own use, but such was not a defense.

Harrison conceded that he had heard HSF prior to writing MSL, and therefore, his subconscious knew the combination of sounds he put to the words of MSL would work, because they had already done so. Terming what occurred as subconscious plagiarism, the judge found that the case should be re-set for a trial on the issue of damages....

[T]he judge's figures for the total gross earnings of MSL were $2,152,028. This sum was reduced to $2,133,316 by the court allowing an offset for some agent's fees which Harrison had paid. However, before ordering that the entire earnings from MSL was due to Bright Tunes, the judge pointed out that there were some other factors present in this case. Harrison was an internationally known artist and he did provide a new lyric for the song. Had he been guilty of intentional plagiarism, even of the melody alone, the entire $2,133,316 would have been awarded to Bright.

After considering all the factors in the case, and conceding that this was not an area where precise measurement could be made, the judge found that three-fourth's of the success of MSL was due to the plagiarized tune, and one-fourth of that success was due to Harrison's name and the new words to the tune. The judge found that the introductory musical passage (the "hook") was a minimal factor in the popularity of this song, and pointed out that this unique melody had already demonstrated its appeal when it carried an otherwise unexceptional love song to the top of the charts in 1963. Therefore, the trial judge concluded that $1,599,987 of the earnings of MSL were reasonably attributable to the music of "He's So Fine"....

And suffice it to say that Allen Klein is...Allen Klein. We'll leave it at that. No we won't:

"Eventually, George is ready to talk business, but not before he's voiced a concern of his own. He has a complaint about the various groupies sitting outside the building that houses the ABKCO office. 'Allen, can't you get rid of those ABKCO scruffs?' he asks politely. 'They're bad for our image. They don't have the class of Apple scruffs'. Allen Klein is stumped for words, a very rare occurrence".

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Friday, February 18, 2005

King Crimson, I Can Understand
Andrew Keeling has published an analysis of "In the Court of the Crimson King." Actually, he analyzed (analysed) the entire album, but I'm going to concentrate on his analysis of the title track.

The title piece of ITCOTCK was, according to Peter Sinfield (E-mail to Andrew Keeling, April 9, 2000), already written: 'a complete Dylanesque song that I had written both words and music for.' However Sinfield goes on to say that Ian McDonald rewrote the music to the words.

The words of 'Court' give us a glimpse into an ancient past. Not only do these words seem to touch on the mythical dimension - i.e. they contain references to archetypes such as the King, the Black Queen, the Witch and the Jester relating, perhaps, to the cover-painting of 'In the Wake of Poseidon' which also includes a music quotation from 'Court' itself in 'The Devil's Triangle' - but also project backwards to 'Moonchild' (the moon is now a 'prison moon'), and to 'I Talk to the Wind', in terms of the opposites 'sweet and the sour' mentioned in verse three. More than that is the relation 'Court' has to 'Schizoid Man': the lyrics of 'Court' seem to give us a picture of the ancient court of a despot, and each of the verses focus on a particular facet of this....

The music is presented in refrain (ritornello) and verse structure. It is, like 'Epitaph', also presented in a hymn-like form. Like the section 'Et Resurrexit' in J.S. Bach's Mass in B minor, the ritornello sections are set in D major, which corresponds to the sun-like character of some of the lyrics/words both in the Bach and King Crimson....The material of this consists of a complete melodic phrase set over the chords D major, C major and B major. Not only is the falling minor third motives of the previous pieces/songs recalled in this harmonic progression, but it is interesting in itself. The mellotron melody F#, F#, F#, F#, F#, G, E outlines a suspension with an echapee (escape note), but is also sequential in the melody over the second chord in bar 3 (E, F#, D#). To arrive back in D major there is a part chromatic ascent: B, C#, D#, E, E# (also a filled-in tritone) which is later picked up by the bass guitar at the end of the 'Fire Witch' section....

Verse 1...is in E minor/aeolian, although the guitar alludes to E minor/dorian....

'The Return of the Fire Witch': a 'fantasy' on the material of the Ritornello, using the chords from it and a mellotron line which is a melodic variant of the melody....This 'fantasy' anticiptes the flavour of some of the music from 'Birdman' on McDonald and Giles....

'Dance of the Puppets': three-part mellotron flute fantasy played mechanically and scherzando. Serves as a break to the gravitas, as well as being an influence on the Genesis-strand of 'progressive' rock music. Repeated three times. On the final repeat a low sustained line outlines the 5ths of the bass guitar part of 'Fire Witch'.

Ritornello: played six times. Huge series of countermelodies, extreme electric guitar distortion, organ glissandi etc....

All I can say is that "break to the gravitas" is an understatement. The modern equivalent would be Barney the Dinosaur performing solo in the middle of a Metallica concert. (Modern equivalent? I'm dating myself. No one's heard of Barney or Metallica today.)

Well, one can understand why someone would perform such an analysis of an early King Crimson album (and I only published brief excerpts; the actual analysis is much more detailed). Now think of someone on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Yes, people, the Ramones are also being critically analyzed. Argh.

[OE UPDATE: Here's the text]

In this class we will examine how we make aesthetic judgments in the arts. Our focus in the course will be on the question of whether such terms as high and low culture have any fundamental meaning in the way we look at artistic value.....We will be looking at...the songs of DeBussy and the Ramones. A text on aesthetics will help guide our discussions....

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Pieces of Me
This Ashlee Simpson (not to be confused with Ashley Olsen) song has been going through my head all morning. My latest torture.

I watched the Ashlee Simpson show for the first time a couple of nights ago. The episode that I saw was taped after the Saturday Night Live incident. In one public appearance in the show, the song "Pieces of Me" started playing as she walked out, and she immediately (and laughlingly) complained that the wrong song was being played. At least she's trying to turn a negative into a positive.

However, she spent much of the episode obsessing about her hair. She had just gotten a shorter haircut, which her mother didn't like. As mothers do, she told Ashlee that she could do what she wanted, but Mom made it clear that she didn't like the haircut. However, Ashlee believed that the haircut expressed who she was. Whether this is a triumph of style over substance I'll leave for you to judge, but you have to remember that people with much greater musical pedigrees (Frank Zappa for example) also cut their hair.

The episode also covered the filming of her video for her song "La La" (the one that the audience loved during the Orange Bowl). The mood of the video was again important in defining who she was as a person, and she praised the reality of the video (specifically the "party" scene at the end). For her, part of the reality was the fact that a few of her friends were able to join her in the video shoot.

The next show on MTV was one featuring Ashlee's sister Jessica Simpson getting ready for a dentist appointment. I left.

I still remember MTV from over 20 years ago, back when it truly was Music Television. Karma Chameleon and the like. And, of course, those were the days of the original MTV VJs - Martha Quinn, J.J. Jackson, Mark Goodman, Nina Blackwood, and Alan Hunter.

McEdwards: Speaking of, you know, back to the days when do you first started out there. Tell us about your first audition.

Hunter: It was about like this. It really wasn't very good. You know, staring into a dispassionate camera that gives you feedback. It doesn't nod, it doesn't shake, or it doesn't say, hey, you're doing good. I really was bad, I had two bad auditions in a row, and then they gave me the job.

McEdwards: How did you get the job?

Hunter: I think it was payola. I think I paid somebody. Well, I don't know. I must have fit the demographic that they needed. Actually, my opinion is that they were coming down to the wire, MTV was about to launch in three weeks, and they didn't have a fifth deejay, and they said, just hire that guy, he can speak, albeit with a Shakespearean accent, because I was an actor.

McEdwards: How did you grow into it, though? I hear cartwheels on the set?

Hunter: Yes, I was breaking teleprompters right and left.

McEdwards: What did you do?

Hunter: You know, it took me six about months to really get the gig. I really didn't have a handle on what it meant to be myself in front of a camera, because as an actor, I didn't have a self, you know. But finally, I think it was breaking the teleprompter one day. I was doing some antic, because the producers were saying just, you know, just, you know, throw it out, throw it out the window, forget the script, just do something funny, and I did a cartwheel. The teleprompter went down. You break stuff and you don't read the script. That's the key. That was really kind of MTV's whole thing.

McEdwards: And what did producers say about that?

Hunter: They were giving me the big thumbs-up.

McEdwards: They liked it, right?

Hunter: Well, the funny think about the early days of MTV is just that no one knew what they were doing. Maybe it was like the early days of CNN. We're going live somewhere, what, what, there's TV cameras? And it made for a really great chaotic situation that I think really sets a good stage for MTV.

McEdwards: Did you think it would work? When you heard 24-hour music television back then, did you think it had a chance?

Hunter: Well, you know, I was in a David Bowie video about two months prior to getting the gig. I was just an actor getting 50 bucks a day being in Bowie video called "Fashion," and so, to me, videos at that point in time were nothing but a disappointment, because the act didn't show up live. It's like Paul McCartney and Wings tonight on "The Midnight Special," and they weren't there, here's my video instead. We had no clue. But about three months into it, we went to record store appearances in Idaho and Toledo, and 1,000 kids would show up to get the VJs' autographs and we thought, this might do it....

Some of you probably know that one of the original MTV VJs is no longer with us. He died in March 2004:

J.J. Jackson, remembered as one of the first faces of MTV, died Wednesday night in Los Angeles of an apparent heart attack, according to friends and former business associates. He was 62.

Jackson helped define the term "VJ" as one of the first on-air personalities on MTV when the channel launched in 1981. During his five-year tenure with the network, Jackson interviewed some of the top names of the day and was part of some key music milestones. Jackson covered the 1985 Live Aid benefit concert in London and helped to "unmask" Kiss during a 1982 interview. He also hosted the debut episode of MTV's long-running "120 Minutes" in 1986, and brought music titans like Robert Plant and Pete Townshend to the then-fledgling channel....

Mark Goodman, another of the original VJs who helped blaze trails with Jackson in the '80s, said he was floored when he heard the news. "I was at home, I actually got a call from Martha Quinn," Goodman said Thursday from his home in Los Angeles. "I almost couldn't understand what she was saying, she was so upset."

Goodman said that even though the on-air tenure of MTV's original fab five ended almost two decades ago, they remained a tight-knit group.

"I think the kind of bond I had with J.J., the original five of us, it's kind of like soldiers who share a foxhole," Goodman said. "It's a bond that has only gotten deeper through the years. It's worse than a family member dying. It's hard to comprehend. None of us would have expected it. It's too soon. It wasn't supposed to happen now. He's too young. It's kind of scary.

"I knew he a had a bad heart," Goodman added. "He had heart surgery a couple of years ago, but he was in great shape, he'd lost weight. He was in a great state of mind, feeling really positive about what was going on. I just saw him last week."

Goodman said the two were about to be co-workers again, at Sirius satellite radio. Goodman already has a position there and was looking forward to his friend J.J. starting soon....

"J.J. was really a gentle man," he remembered. "He was smart. As I think of him, I think of him laughing. The guy had this huge laugh. He was a rabid music fan. Rod Stewart was a friend of his, guys in Led Zeppelin were friends of his. He championed these bands early on when they were kind of just getting going. He did Bruce Springsteen's first television interview. J.J. was a great guy. For the five of us, he was the wise DJ. He was the guy who had been through it all and was able to always put a mature perspective to things. He wound up handling the spotlight that was thrust on us better than any of us."

Besides his endeavors in television, Jackson also logged a thick résumé in radio. Prior to his MTV days, Jackson was a rock-radio staple, first at WBCN-FM in Boston, and later at a few stations in Los Angeles. His voice even made it to the big screen, as a DJ in the 1976 movie "Car Wash." After his VJ days, Jackson returned to radio in the Los Angeles area.

On Thursday (March 18), Paul Goldstein, program director of L.A.'s KTWV-FM, said "J.J.'s tenure with the station ended just six months ago. He was a wonderful man and will be very missed."

Two words: THE WAVE?!?

As for the others:

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Thursday, February 17, 2005

It's that fresh mountain water (or, why do Colorado bloggers rant?)
I just happened to notice this a minute ago.

If you scroll down and look at the left side of my blog, you'll see after after a variety of advertisements, personal links, and other stuff, you start to see a list of other blogs, mostly sorted by state. (This is followed by non-blog links, sorted by category.) As of today, I link to three Colorado-associated blogs (one of which moved from the state of Washington.) The names of these three blogs are:

I swear that I just noticed that all three Colorado blogs include the word "rant" in their title. So why are the bloggers in Colorado ranting so much? Or am I just pre-disposed to link to Colorado bloggers who rant?

And who can help these poor bloggers? I don't think their conditions warrant intervention by Colorado's Division of Mental Health. They don't appear to be ranting at delusions; they're really really ranting.

Perhaps a dedication to community service would help. Global Denver diplomats are needed:

GLOBAL DENVER® Diplomats "prospect" for non-Colorado based businesses and investors to relocate to the State of Colorado. During conversations and transactions with non-Colorado friends, clients and suppliers, Global Denver® Diplomats may gather valuable information regarding non-Colorado companies' and individuals' business plans, expansion and growth....

GLOBAL DENVER® Diplomat Responsibilities

1. Represent, unofficially, the State of Colorado and City of Denver and personally contact non-Colorado business leaders in order to interest them in establishing or expanding their business into the State of Colorado.

2. Make oneself available to act as a host to commercial prospects and special visitors when they visit the state, then assist to make their visit to Colorado happy and productive.

3. Make oneself available to undertake special assignments in economic development promotion for Colorado, at one's personal expense.

4. Assume the responsibility of making a minimum of six personal calls to non-Colorado business leaders and entrepreneurs during each year of appointment.

5. Agree that appointment as a Global Denver® Diplomat shall be for a period of five years and also agree that re-appointment for five additional years shall be automatic, unless the Global Denver® Diplomat Board of Directors recommends otherwise.

6. Accept the commitment to pay annual dues established by the Global Denver® Diplomats Board of Directors.

So, let me get this straight. You don't get paid - in fact, you have to pay your own expenses - and you have to commit to a certain level of work and a shiny happy people attitude. Then you can listen to people rant about their home states, while you're saying "Colorado is WONDERFUL!" like a demented Moonie.

Incidentally, I personally know two co-workers (plus some family members) who relocated from Southern California to Colorado within the last few years. Of the co-workers, one came back to California, and the other is now working in New Jersey.

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It's All Around You [1]
Continuing in the Valentine's Day-inspired vein of sex and jobs, salary.com has published the results of a survey listing the sexiest jobs. Survey says [2] that these are the sexiest jobs:

  • Firefighter 16%. One word: "9/11." Incidentally, perhaps my fellow New York bloggers could answer a question; after 9/11, how many guys went into singles bars claiming to be firemen when they really weren't firemen?

  • Flight Attendant 13%. Huh?

  • CEO 11%. The best things in life are free, but you can keep them for the birds and bees.... [3]

  • Reporter 10%. Salary.com believes that this job ranked high because of Sarah Jessica Parker's role as a reporter in "Sex in the City." Unfortunately, when I think of a reporter, I think of Bob Woodward, who I don't consider sexy at all.

  • Interior Designer 10%. Again, salary.com attributes the popularity of this profession to TV; specifically, "the popularity of TV's Debra Messing, who plays interior designer Grace Adler on 'Will and Grace'... and casts of such home improvement shows as 'Trading Spaces' and 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.'"
  • Event Planner 10%. Although salary.com didn't mention it, I suspect that the high ranking of this category is almost entirely due to Jennifer Lopez.

  • Nurse 9%. By the way, has anyone noticed that nurses aren't in white any more? They all wear this multi-colored stuff now.

  • Teacher 8%. Attribute this to Van Halen.

  • Doctor 7% and Lawyer 4%. Attribute this to fans of the Huxtables. (Incidentally, Keshia Knight Pulliam grew up.)
  • Veterinarian 3%. I don't want to know the story behind this one.

Off-topic meanderings:

[1] See this.

[2] Check out the Manson Family Feud.

[3] OK, maybe you didn't know the Devo reference, but you should have known this one; one of the best cover versions ever.

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