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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Overuse of "Wilderness Years" 


I've previously commented on how people like to overuse and misuse the word "fascist." I've just found an example of a misapplication of another term - "wilderness years."

The term has been applied to Winston Churchill in the years before he became Prime Minister, and the application to Churchill has established the general framework for the term. In Churchill's case, you have a politician who previously had an extraordinary political career, but now found himself out of office, ignored, and considered a has-been. In retrospect (when everyone is wise after the fact), Churchill's warnings about Hitler seem wise; at the time, they didn't.

Richard Nixon, in his writings, talked a lot about people who endured wilderness years, including Churchill, De Gaulle, and himself. Nixon's career fits the mold - from Vice President in 1960 to defeated candidate for California governor in 1962, Nixon's slide was dramatic. His inability to prevent a Goldwater nomination in 1964 only compounded the notion that Nixon was a has-been. Yet by the early 1970s, Nixon was the President who had moved toward the re-establishment of relations between the U.S. and "Red China," and who had crafted a peace in Vietnam. (Of course, everything went downhill after that...)

I was just reading the following:


When he left the California governorship in 1975, Reagan began a twice-weekly newspaper column and a five-day-a-week syndicated radio commentary that was carried on more than 300 stations, reaching an estimated 20 to 30 million listeners. It was a way of making a good living as well as keeping his views in front of the public, but it was also a way of making himself the rallying point for the conservative movement that was readying itself for a drive to power. In this respect, Reagan's media career during his "wilderness years" in the late 1970s resembles Winston Churchill's "wilderness years" in the 1930s, when he too used his writing to make himself the rallying point against his government's weakness.

Most of Reagan's newspaper columns were ghostwritten for him by Peter Hannaford, and it was always assumed that the radio commentaries were ghosted as well. But Reagan, an ex-radio broadcaster, took a keen interest in his radio portfolio and wrote the bulk of those commentaries himself. Over five years, Reagan broadcast 1,027 commentaries; the Andersons and Skinner discovered Reagan's handwritten drafts of 682 of them. It is likely that Reagan wrote even more than this, but the handwritten drafts were lost or discarded.



I'm sorry, but Reagan doesn't fit the "wilderness years" mold. Yes, he lost the nomination for President in 1976, but he was running against a sitting President in his own party. And after Ford lost the election in 1976, Reagan was unquestionably the leading Republican in this country, and the thing that concerned Republicans wasn't Reagan's politics, but his age.

Then I found an assertion that Reagan's wilderness years actually occurred in the 1950s:


Reagan’s struggle began in direct conflict with Soviet-backed street-level violence during Communism’s attempt to take-over Hollywood during the 1940’s; it continued through his “wilderness years” on the mashed potato circuit in the 50’s, then on to his confrontation with the radicals at Berkeley in the 60’s showing, throughout, his challenge of the Establishment’s policy of détente, his steady rise to power, his rejection by his own party, and his focus on the need for a complete victory over Communism.


Sorry, but that doesn't sound like wilderness years either. Other than a union presidency, his past political successes in the 1950s were zero. His political views had been mostly unstated. In fact, it was during the 1950s that he was developing his public political persona in the first place.

As far as I'm concerned, anyone who applies "wilderness years" to any aspect of Reagan's career is a fascist.

From the Ontario Empoblog

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A Miserable Failure? 


A post of Gindy's reminded me of something that I read in print many years ago. I just found an online paraphrase of it:


Consider the fortunes of a 19th century American who finally succeeded big time after a whole run of failures and setbacks:

1831 He failed in business
1832 He was defeated for legislature
1833 He failed again in business
1835 His sweetheart died
1836 He suffered a nervous breakdown
1838 He was defeated for speaker of legislature
1840 He was defeated for elector
1843 He was defeated for Congress
1848 He was defeated again for Congress
1855 He was defeated for Senate
1856 He was defeated for Vice-President
1858 He was defeated again for Senate



And we should also mention that his mother died when he was young, and he only received one year of schooling.

Whatever happened to him?

From the Ontario Empoblog

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In Praise of Healthy Women 


Dayli has posted about a television show (she saw it in Israel, but I don't know if it was an Israeli show) about Israeli fashion photographer Adi Barkan. While mentioning a little bit about his life and activities, Dayli noted the following:


In the past couple of years, Mr. Barkan has decided to fight weight disorders such as anorexia. He started a country wide campaign to hire healthy models for his agency. Every model is examined by a nutritionist, and if she shows sign of a disorder, her parents are called for a conversation, she is not hired, and she receives counseling. He took his battle one step further, and decided to sign Israel's major advertisers on a commitment document, that they will only use healthy models in advertisers, approved by a nutritionist.

These models are gorgeous. No, they are not overweight. But they are not heroin-twiggy-skinny either. They are sculpted to perfection, with every womanly curve in place. And statistically, a single man's campaign has significantly reduced the number of sick girls in this country (by 23% in 2 years).



Here's the perspective of the Jewish News of Greater Phoenix:


He is merely a photographer, but to thousands of Israeli teenagers Adi Barkan is an idol, the gatekeeper to fame and money.

They'll do anything to get his attention, to have his camera capture their image. They'll certainly lose a few pounds to do so - sometimes too many pounds....

Barkan has joined ranks with Likud Party legislator Inbal Gavrieli, who has tabled a bill demanding that models not be employed without a doctor's certification that they're not underweight....

"The number of girls who suffer from anorexia in our small country is unbelievable," Barkan told JTA. "Some 98 percent of the girls who came to my auditions reported they were dieting," and nearly 14 percent were anorexic.

So Barkan publicized a small ad last summer in a local Haifa newspaper inviting girls to show up for a modeling competition called "Healthy Look." Only girls approved by the Health Ministry dietician on hand were allowed to compete in the final stage....

Barkan has met all sorts of aspiring models, including some who couldn't climb the steps to his office because they were too skinny and weak....

But Barkan has made it a rule that when an applicant looks too skinny, he sends her home to gain weight....

The paradox is that Barkan himself used to be one of those who sent fashion models away to diet. He now acknowledges that he indirectly contributed to the anorexia frenzy.

"Obviously I'm part of it," he said, "but those were the days when Calvin Klein extended the contract of super-skinny model Kate Moss and everyone was following the so-called heroin-chic style."





Israeli fashion photographer Adi Barkan works with model Moran Sankovsky, on the balcony of his Haifa studio, Dec. 26.



From the Ontario Empoblog

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Advancement of Scientific Knowledge 


The purpose of a museum is to preserve those critical artifacts that will explain the intricacies of our society to future generations, and even to future civilizations. By examining these artifacts, beings from the future will have a better understanding of those items that shaped twentieth century American culture.




Yup, Scientology (not Tom Cruise this time, but John Travolta) and Star 98.7 (the Partridge Family's Danny Bonaduce).

I laugh about this, but I'm certain that our entertainment activities could be instructive to future civilizations - as long as they understand that this was merely entertainment, and that "Up your nose with a rubber hose" was not a religous chant to the great god Epstein's mother's doctor.

(By the way, these exhibits can be found at the entrance to the lunchroom in the basement of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.)

From the Ontario Empoblog

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Today's Von Wafer Update 


From Florida:


At least one Seminole wasn't surprised when Von Wafer was selected in the second round of the NBA Draft on Tuesday.

Irving Thomas, a Lakers scout who played two seasons at FSU...said Wafer made believers of the Lakers, including general manager Mitch Kupchak, during a Friday morning workout. Wafer made 20-straight jump shots in one drill according to Irving, who played one season with the Lakers....

Irving, who resides in South Florida, saw FSU play three games last season. Wafer missed one of those games because of a suspension.

"He had some trouble during the season," Irving said. "We knew Von had some issues. But the background checks and interview were outstanding. All the feedback was extremely favorable"....

Yet while Thomas embraced the decision, it was panned by the L.A. Times.

"The Lakers have never been known to be masters of the draft, and this proves that again," went its online draft analysis. "It's hard to know what current boss Mitch Kupchak was thinking here. Wafer is a marginal prospect at best who, while very good in high school, did little to show he could improve in college"....



From the Ontario Empoblog

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Pentagon City 




These pictures were taken at a mall at Pentagon City, Arlington, Virginia. See related audioblogs [1] [2].

From the Ontario Empoblog

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Empire State Building 







(Note: this is my first time trying Blogger's new picture feature. In the past, I was using the Hello capability. Here goes.)

I'm finally uploading some of the pictures from my East Coast trip to the Ontario Empoblog. The following pictures were taken at the Empire State Building in New York City.



From the Ontario Empoblog

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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Reaching Bloatomania In More Ways Than One 


The White Grizzly links to a Radar Online animated gif of Hollywood's favorite Xenusian couple.

Meanwhile, the Village Voice weighs in:


The ominous tagline in early trailers for the alien invasion blockbuster War of the Worlds was "They're Already Here"—but any learned Scientologist could have told you that long ago....


And non-religious stunts abound:


The French journalist wanted Tom Cruise to kiss her on national television.

Obviously a minor celebrity in her own country, the Parisian TV presenter used the most tedious of gimmicks to make sure her story made the evening news.

It was as trashy as it was excruciating and clearly, the American superstar didn't want to play ball.

His nervous laughter reached manic levels, but the annoying hack in front of me was not easily dismissed.

"Please Mr Cruise, if you kiss me today, I can die a happy la-dee," she purred, in the most affected French accent since that of the The Pink Panther's Inspector Clouseau.

Eager to regain control of the War Of The Worlds press conference as quickly as possible, Cruise turned to his right and said: "Well? What do you think?"

It was Katie Holmes who, within five minutes, would be known as fiancee Katie Holmes. But at this stage she was still the less bankable Katie Holmes.

The Batman Begins actress held out her hand, making it clear that that was the only part of the Frenchwoman's anatomy her Top Gun could touch.

"Okay, then," said Cruise, motioning the simpering journalist towards him.

He grabbed her hand, kissed it coldly, laughed unconvincingly and Ms Nobody floated back to her seat....



From the Ontario Empoblog

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Daily Dancer Causes Marital Discord 


Rut roh:


For the last few days my mom has a new hobby, watching someone dance on a blog called Daily Dancer on my computer, but I don't know for how long, because my dad does not like her staring at Daily Dancers Butt, just his butt, and maybe Gorillas, I think. Just a few minutes ago we was watching Daily Dancers dance in a new video, then dad walked into the room because he herd the music, but he didn't dance, just got mad at mom because she was staring at Daily Dancer shaking his Big Butt in his new video, but I think everything will be ok, because dad has a big butt to, just looks a little different, because I think his butt goes right up to his neck.

Anyways, mom is really looking forward to Daily dancer dance to a song called Big Butts by Sir Mix-a-Lot, because that's one of moms favorite songs, and she has a big butt to, but not as big as dads, or long....



The British Sun has also covered Daily Dancer:


A WACKY self-confessed computer geek has been entertaining thousands of internet surfers - with his dancing skills.

The American joker - who calls himself Daily Dancer - posts a new clip of himself throwing shapes on his blog every morning.

Web users have been flocking to his site to request tracks for him to perform a barmy boogie to.

So far he has danced to hits including Abba's Dancing Queen, Baha Men's Who Let The Dogs Out and Aqua's Barbie Girl....



Anyway, I was reluctant to blog about a particular observation. Someone from New Jersey beat me to the punch:


did anyone else notice that poo stain on the floor in almost every video. someone send the guy some carpet cleaner.


Now to be honest, I didn't think it was a poo stain - he seems to be clean, and his girlfriend would leave him if it were a poo stain - but whatever it is, it's the secret highlight of many of the videos.

From the Ontario Empoblog

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Not As Lucky As Von Wafer, But He Made It Anyway 


Askmen.com mentions a low-drafted baseball player who became a success story. However, he had connections:


Mike Piazza
Drafted: By the Los Angeles Dodgers, 62nd round, 1,390th overall

Major League Baseball teams had plenty of chances to draft Piazza, and those that passed on him must be kicking themselves. After Piazza played college ball at Miami-Dade Community College, he entered the 1988 draft, where he watched 1,389 other players get chosen before the Los Angeles Dodgers finally picked him in round 62.

It didn't take long for Piazza to start sticking it to all the other teams that dismissed him. He won the National League's Rookie of the Year award in 1993....Three years later, the power-hitting catcher was named the All-Star Game's Most Valuable Player. He hit more than 35 home runs in each of three seasons while with the Dodgers, then again in three consecutive seasons in his early years with the Mets....

The 10-time All-Star has more career home runs than any other NL catcher.
Born: September 4, 1968, Norristown, Pennsylvania...

Godfather: Tommy Lasorda, Hall of Fame Manager...

The classic "late bloomer," Mike grew up in suburban Philadelphia where he once received personal hitting instruction from none other than Hall-of-Famer Ted Williams. Mike must have listened intently because he's since become one of the most feared sluggers in the game.



Well, let's turn back to the trading of Mike Piazza, which helped to sour me on the Dodgers themselves (emphasis mine):


Mike Piazza had no idea it was coming. How could he? He was baptized as a Dodger at age 13, another runt batboy with big league dreams. Tommy Lasorda was his father's goombah, his own godfather, practically. Yeah, he had turned down $80 million for six years, said he would play out the season and test the free-agent market. But in his heart of hearts, he figured he was a Dodger for life. He never had a clue that Thursday, May 14, 1998, might be his last day in Dodger blue, that particular and rich hue made famous by Robinson and Koufax, by Garvey and Valenzuela, by Lasorda, and by Michael J. Piazza himself. As far as Piazza knew, this day would be like any other....

THURSDAY, 7:05 P.M.

...Thirty thousand people are on hand to watch Hideo Nomo pitch for the Dodgers and Mark Portugal for the Phils. TVs in the back rooms of the stadium are tuned to the final episode of Seinfeld....

The game is a blur, just 2 1/2 hours long....Piazza goes hitless in his four at bats. In his final chance, in the ninth, he reaches base on an error, on a broken-bat grounder to short. The next batter, Eric Karros, grounds into a fielder's choice and the game is over. Piazza trots off the field and into the clubhouse, frustrated by the loss and by his 0-fer. His batting average is down to .282. He isn't worried. He's had one swing thought for his entire career, and it has never failed him: Swing hard. He undresses and showers. As he walks back to his locker, a trainer says to him, "Fred wants to see you." Fred is Fred Claire, the Dodgers' general manager. Claire never asks to see players after a game unless something's up.

Piazza shakes his head and says, "I've been traded."...

THURSDAY, 10:05 P.M.

There are five people in the trainer's office, off the clubhouse. Claire; Bill Russell, the Dodgers manager; Derrick Hall, the team's publicity director; Todd Zeile, the third baseman; and Piazza. Claire, a decent and cautious man, is nervous and to the point: You are both being traded to the Florida Marlins, but it's not official yet....

Piazza figures it out. He knows the Marlins are eager to deal outfielder Gary Sheffield, to unloadhis salary, so he has to be part of it. He won't find out until later that it's a two-for-five deal, that it's Sheffield, along with catcher Charles Johnson, third baseman Bobby Bonilla, outfielder Jim Eisenreich and minor league pitcher Manuel Barrios....

It is nearly midnight. Thursday, May 14, 1998, is about to come to an end. Piazza sits behind the wheel of his Cadillac, at the foot of his driveway, in front of the town house he owns in Manhattan Beach, just talking, trying to sort things out. "I think there's a one-in-a-million chance that they're trying to scare me into signing a deal," he says. "They present this trade to me and then tell me tomorrow that it's fallen through, just to get me to sign. That's Fox's style, you know? Conquer and divide." A long day is drawing to a close. Piazza is in denial, too. Who can blame him?

FRIDAY, 11:00 A.M....

On this peculiar day the background music in the town house is a Los Angeles sports radio station, 1150-AM, KXTA. The host, Jim Rome, is practically screaming the same line over and over: "You don't trade a Hall of Fame player!" Most of the callers agree with him. When Rome goes into a Godfather riff about how Fred Claire's going to wake up one morning and find the head of a horse in his bed, Piazza laughs uproariously....

Now Dan Lozano is on the other line. The agent, excited, speaks so loudly Piazza has to hold the phone away from his ear.

"As of eight this morning, five teams had called Dombrowski, wanting to make a deal," Lozano says. Dombrowski is Dave Dombrowski, the Marlins general manager.

"What teams?" Piazza asks.

"He wouldn't say," Lozano says. "It gets better. The Dodgers want you to dress for tonight's game."

"I'm not going to the park," Piazza says. "It's gonna be a zoo there."

"They say until the deal is done, until Sheffield makes up his mind, you're a Dodger," Lozano says.

"This is such bull----," Piazza says. "Who knows when Sheffield's gonna make up his mind? He's got a [World Series] ring, he's got a house in Florida. Maybe he doesn't want to go anywhere. He can hold out as long as he wants, ask the Dodgers for anything. He's got the Dodgers by the balls. What are they gonna do? Say the deal's off? And have all that egg on their face? No way."

"You're right."...

FRIDAY, 2:30 P.M.

Before he leaves for the park, Piazza speaks to his father on the telephone. They talk father to son, business partner to business partner, friend to friend. "I think it's personal, between Danny [Lozano] and Bob Graziano," the son says. Graziano is the team president, Fred Claire's boss. "Fred is so far out of the loop, it's not even funny. I think Danny beat them twice on the first two contracts, and Graziano wasn't going to let it happen again."...

He arrives in the players' parking lot at Dodger Stadium and sees that the place is crawling with TV news crews and reporters. Intent on not talking, he makes a dash into the stadium, running past microphones and lenses, escorted by security guards who are huffing and puffing to keep up with him. In no time, and with no comment, Piazza slips into Russell's office; two security guards are stationed outside the door. Now the vigil begins, waiting to find out if Sheffield will sign, waiting to find out if he will have to suit up for the game, waiting, waiting. The rumor in the bowels of the stadium is that Sheffield's flight to Los Angeles was delayed and that a Fox corporate jet went to pick him up, and that he and his agent are in the stadium, meeting with the Dodgers bosses....

Lasorda arrives. He has had a long day. His first call, early in the morning, was from a radio station, asking him to comment on the news....In the new regime Lasorda has been relegated to the role of team ambassador. That was the first he had heard about the trade. Later in the day, when asked about the deal, he adopted the company line, saying that he was sorry to see Piazza go but that the team has to act in its best interests, protect its future. In Russell's office he's a different man. He gets right in Piazza's face and says, "Before you're out of this game, you'll break every offensive record ever set by a catcher, you'll have a harem, and you'll have more money than you'll know what to do with." The two men hug, and Lasorda kisses Piazza on the cheek.

Meanwhile, Hideo Nomo has slipped into the manager's office. "Nomo-san," Piazza says, shaking the pitcher's hand and speaking a few sentences of tourist Japanese with him. Piazza is fond of Nomo. When Piazza goes to Japan, which he does quite regularly, Nomo takes him all around. Nomo, with a certain formality and without a word, presents a jersey to Piazza. "You want me to sign?" Piazza asks. Nomo nods, shakes Piazza's hand and walks out of the room backward....



Bill Russell and Hideo Nomo would also be gone shortly, and I don't think Fred Claire lasted that long either. This was but the beginning of FOX tearing the Dodgers apart.

From the Ontario Empoblog

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Not As Good As Von Wafer 


Some players didn't get the chances that Von Wafer did.


Florida guards Matt Walsh and Anthony Roberson might regret leaving school early. Neither was among the 60 players selected in the NBA draft last night.

Walsh and Roberson both eliminated the possibility of returning for their senior seasons last week when they decided to keep their names in the draft pool....

Now both players might have a more difficult road to the N-B-A. They likely will join NBA summer league teams, but could find it tough to make rosters....



Things looked a lot better for Walsh last Sunday:


When Matt Walsh made himself eligible for the NBA draft after his junior season at Florida, just about everyone figured the experience would be another blow to the head, a temporary jolt of reality that would give the 6-6, 22-year-old some added motivation entering his senior season.

It turns out he didn't need another beating. Walsh has gone from draft possibility to a first-round reality. And it's his toughness, not to mention a pretty impressive skill set, that allowed him to get here quicker than anyone anticipated....

Walsh's mind wasn't entirely set when he began the process of leaving school early for the NBA. He trained at IMG Academy in Bradenton, getting his body ready for a series of NBA workouts.

And once he started showing off his abilities for NBA personnel, the potentially humbling experience turned out to be a real confidence builder.

''I worked out for Memphis my first workout, and I had such high expectations for myself that I didn't think I had all that good a workout,'' Walsh said.

'Then I got really positive feedback from them saying, `He's so intriguing, and Jerry West really liked him.' Then Willie Jenkins [of Tennessee Tech], a guy I worked out with, he talked to a reporter from [draftcity.com], and [Jenkins] just went on and on about how I was the best player in the workout and all this.

``I mean, I didn't even think I had a real good workout. Then after that I went and had a great workout in Seattle, and I just started hearing it from everywhere I went. That was the point where I decided I really need to consider making the decision earlier.''

Other than the Sonics and Grizzlies, Walsh has also put on a display for the Heat, Kings, Pacers, Suns, Spurs and still has the Rockets on his schedule before Tuesday's draft....

''Walsh is a shooter and is probably a guy that could create some shots for you,'' Heat general manager Randy Pfund said. ``But first and foremost, he's one of those guys that can line up a shot and make it, and that's always going to be attractive at some point in the draft. He probably doesn't move quite as well and have the athleticism as some of the other guys that have come out in years before.''

The Sonics, though, were pleasantly surprised with Walsh's quickness and athleticism, and they are considering him as a possibility with the No. 25 pick....

''It's been my dream to play in the NBA for a long time, so it's always going to be a cool feeling knowing that I have a really good chance of being in the first round,'' Walsh said. ``At this point I expect to be in there. I think it has set in a little bit, but I know I'm going to be really nervous on draft night. The thought of being in Miami next year or Utah or Seattle or Indiana, it's a pretty cool feeling.''



And it sure looked good on June 21:


Matt Walsh wants to play in the NBA.

The 76ers were the 10th team to take a look at the former Germantown Academy standout, who is leaving Florida a year early, when he worked out for them on Monday morning. Over the next six days Walsh will travel from Philadelphia to Utah to New Jersey to Phoenix to Texas to audition for others.

''By the time this process is over I will have worked out for 10 of the teams from pick 17 to 30, and I've gotten positive feedback every where I've gone,'' Walsh said....

''If the Sixers had a higher pick this would be an ideal situation, but I don't know if I'll be on the board at 45,'' Walsh said.

''We see him a little like Kyle Korver,'' DiLeo said, referring to a former second-round who has become a key member of the Sixers. ''Most people thought Kyle was just a shooter, and I think Matt brings a lot more to the game that just shooting.''...



So what is the next step?


Heat General Manager Randy Pfund said he has invited Walsh to attend the team's summer camp next week but has not received a response.


From the Ontario Empoblog

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All Von Wafer, All The Time 


From the Sun-Sentinel:


Florida State guard Von Wafer left school after his sophomore season, and while he didn't go in the first round, he was picked. He went 35th overall, in the second round, to the Los Angeles Lakers.

The FSU coaching staff wasn't sad to see Wafer go, as he often clashed with Coach Leonard Hamilton....



From the Tallahassee Democrat:


"I feel like right now that the Lakers got a good bargain," Wafer told the Tallahassee Democrat. "You know when you get a good bargain you never know if the product is going to hold up. I'm going to try to make this a steal for the Los Angeles Lakers."

Wafer led FSU with 12.5 points per game last season but was suspended twice early in the season and benched often late in the season. He averaged just 15 minutes in his last five games for the Seminoles....

Wafer's college career was long finished before draft night. His decision to sign with agent Henry Thomas meant there was no turning back for the former McDonald's All-American from Homer, La.

"The thing about it is Von has first-round talent," said Bobie Singleton, who will manage Wafer on a day-to-day basis for Thomas. "He got knocked a little bit in the press for different circumstances that weren't under his control and didn't have anything to do with basketball. The NBA is about basketball, and Von's a good kid. He's very, very athletic, and when he gets on the court all that stuff shows."



From the Ontario Empoblog

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There's a Draft in Here 

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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Hank Hanegraaff Interviews Rick Warren 


Recent search against my blog:


28/06/2005 11:16:27 hang hanegraff and rick warren (Google)


I've mentioned Hank Hanegraaff in connection to an entry about Paul Crouch, and I've mentioned Rick Warren in connection to an entry about Rick Warren (and in a few other places).

So what happened when the two of them got together? (The following excerpt is undated, but appears to be at least five years old.)


)--"Being seeker-sensitive does not mean watering down the message said Rick Warren, pastor of one of the Southern Baptist Convention's largest churches, on the national Bible Answer Man" radio program.

"It does not change what you say. It changes how you say it said Warren, pastor of Saddleback Valley Community Church, Mission Viejo, Calif., which averages nearly 15,000 people in its seeker-sensitive worship services and will celebrate its 20th anniversary in January 2000.

Warren was interviewed by Hank Hanegraaff, host of the Bible Answer Man" program on Oct. 12-13. Hanegraaff also is president of the Christian Research Institute International a self-declared "parachurch organization committed to defending historic Christianity against theological heresy." Suspicious of any "aberrant teachings in the church Hanegraaff's CRI Internet site, www.equip.org, includes not only daily and archived Bible Answer Man" radio programs but also articles and debates on cults and aberrant Christian practices.

One article originally published in 1996 titled Pro and Con: The Seeker-Church Movement, contrasts the views of a seeker-sensitive associate director of the Willow Creek Association against a Denver Seminary professor who believes that being seeker-sensitive means being less biblical.

Hanegraaff on the Oct. 12-13 broadcast said he "literally was stunned by a message that is altogether biblically correct" after listening to Warren's audiotapes The Purpose Driven Church: Growth Without Compromising Your Message and Your Mission.

Hanegraaff said he found Warren's principles to be not only "biblical but also revolutionary phenomenal dynamic sound" and "exhilarating." He said the principles will "not only revolutionize your church if applied they'll revolutionize your life as an individual."

Admitting he rarely gets this excited Hanegraaff said Warren's purpose-driven church philosophy is something that has "really captured my imagination."

Hanegraaff introduced Warren as "a guy with a vision and most of all a guy with a passion ... a passion not to empty out other churches to fill his mega-church but to reach the lost to take the message of the gospel that transforms hearts ... and make that message adaptable to the culture without ever compromising the message itself."

Hanegraaff said he has come to see that the seeker-sensitive strategy is "not about [church] size not about classes and masses. It's about changed lives." He said Warren's purpose-driven church principles are "so important in an age when we desperately need healthy well-balanced churches and called Warren's materials a roadmap to help churches be what they ought to be....



And here's what Hanegraaff has to say about the prosperity doctrine:


Many popular evangelists are involved with “Positive Confession” or the “Word-Faith” movement. What’s wrong with this movement?

Some of America’s best known televangelists subscribe either partly or wholly to what’s commonly referred to as “positive confession,” the “Word-Faith” teaching, or the “prosperity” doctrine. Its chief representatives today seem to be Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, Fred Price, Charles Capps, and Casey Treat, though there are certainly many other evangelists, teachers, and writers who promote this teaching.

The “word-faith” teaching may be summarized as follows: God created man in “God’s class,” as “little gods,” with the potential to exercise what they refer to as the “God-kind of faith” in calling things into existence and living in prosperity and success as sovereign beings. Of course, we forfeited this opportunity by rebelling against God in the Garden and taking upon ourselves Satan’s nature. To correct this situation, Jesus Christ became a man, died spiritually (thus taking upon Himself Satan’s nature), went to hell, was “born again,” rose from the dead with God’s nature again, and then sent the Holy Spirit so that the incarnation could be duplicated in believers, thus fulfilling their calling to be what they call “little gods.” Since we’re called to experience this kind of life now, we should be successful in virtually every area of our lives. To be in debt, then, or be sick, or (as is even taught by the faith teachers) to be left by one’s spouse, simply means that you don’t have enough faith — or you have some secret sin in your life, because if you didn’t, you would be able to handle all of these problems.

Now, while certain aspects of the this doctrine may vary from teacher to teacher — ranging from moderately aberrant to the outright heretical — the general outline remains the same. In every instance, the “Word-Faith” teaching is guilty of presenting an inflated view of man and a deflated view of God, thereby compromising God’s message as revealed in the Bible. This fast-growing movement has disastrous implications and, in fact, reduces Jesus Christ to a means to an end — when in fact he is the end. If the New Age Movement is the greatest threat to the church from without, “positive confession” may well be it’s greatest threat from within....



And a search on Trinity Broadcasting Network yields the following:


Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN)
promotes Word of Faith, Kingdom Now.
CRI is not offering any resources under this topic with this criteria.

Also see these Topics: Avanzini, John
Crouch, Paul and Jan
Lam, Nora
Word of Faith Movement



...

From the Ontario Empoblog

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National Confess Something on Your Blog Week 


Hot Librarian has started this. After making several confessions on her blog (primarily for things she did in elementary school), she stated the following:


Now I'm going to ask you for some class participation. You need to confess something and then give me all the credit for starting National Confess Something on Your Blog Week. Your mission is to confess (something good and juicy, that will amuse me) and then you need to link back to me whilst praising my goodness and mercy for giving you something to write about. I mean, first I gave you a Scientology meme - A MEME for god's sake! - (meme is just one of the worst words ever) - and now I'm handing you this opportunity. It's gold.


So, what am I willing to confess?

I PRANK PHONE CALLED GEORGE WASHINGTON IN ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA...AND LATER MET HIM.

Yes, I found George Washington's name in a phone book and prank called him. And yes, I met him later (I think he was a Boy Scout leader, if I remember correctly).

Betcha didn't know George Washington was black.

Well, that's all I'm willing to confess at this point. But I have a few more days, I guess.

From the Ontario Empoblog

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Monday, June 27, 2005

All politicians must be six feet away from all supporters 


Granted that I'm not a fan of what Clinton did with Lewinsky, but this targeting of Clinton is ridiculous:


The photographer who took the picture in Edward Klein’s new book, The Truth About Hillary, catching Bill Clinton in a moment of P.D.A. with someone other than his wife, says that the book’s use of the photo is a “huge misrepresentation of the event.”

In his first public comments about the salacious picture, photographer Jay L. Clendenin said in an interview with New York Magazine that the picture was one of “dozens” he took at a rally for presidential candidate John Kerry that Bill Clinton attended in Philadelphia on October 25, 2004. He said that Clinton wasn’t at all intimate with the woman. “I was there,” he said. “She kissed him on the cheek. Nothing more. Two seconds out of each other’s lives.”...

The photo appears on the same page of The Truth About Hillary as another candid shot of the former president in black tie half-embracing a woman at an event (or, as the caption puts it, “putting the move on a blonde in 2002.”)....

The photo—which appears to be intended to back up the book's claims of infidelity—was also key to the publisher’s promotional strategy. An advance copy of the image appeared on the Drudge Report, under the banner headline BOOK CLAIM: HILLARY HUMILIATED AS BILL HAS NEW AFFAIRS....

The book doesn’t come out and say that the woman in the photo is the “stunning divorcée.” But the picture was clearly selected and positioned to bolster the book's lurid allegations. And the book does not specify the circumstances or the date of the event in the photo. Sharing the fact that it took place at a campaign rally would obviously have undercut the book’s claims of extramarital intimacy....

A spokesman for the book’s publisher, Sentinel, a conservative imprint of the Penguin Group...brushed off the photographer’s charges. “It’s not implying that the woman pictured in the photo is the one he’s having an affair with,” said the spokesman, Will Weisser.

Clendenin doesn’t see it that way....

“This is one of maybe a dozen people who kissed him on the cheek,” Clendenin said. “It’s like being misquoted . . . I believe that the insinuation of intimacy is a misrepresentation of the photo. It misrepresents my work.”...



From the Ontario Empoblog

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Understanding the Concept 


HireAmericanCitizens.org publishes a "Hall of Shame" list of companies that do not practice "economic patriotism." Among the companies on the list:


British Airways
Mexicana Airlines
SAAB
Saturn
Nintendo
BBC (British Broad Casting)
Toshiba
TATA



Perhaps if the boycott works, these foreign companies will leave the country and won't hire ANY Americans.

From the Ontario Empoblog

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Process Improvement Models To Explore 


Beats surfing for porn.

AGILE MODELING


Agile Modeling (AM) is a practice-based methodology for effective modeling and documentation of software-based systems. Simply put, Agile Modeling (AM) is a collection of values, principles, and practices for modeling software that can be applied on a software development project in an effective and light-weight manner. Agile models are more effective than traditional models because they are just barely good enough, they don't have to be perfect. You may take an agile modeling approach to requirements, analysis, architecture, and design....

AM is not a prescriptive process, in other words it does not define detailed procedures for how to create a given type of model, instead it provides advice for how to be effective as a modeler. AM is not about less modeling, in fact many developers will find that they are doing more modeling following AM than they did in the past. AM is “touchy-feely”, it’s not hard and fast – think of AM as an art, not a science.

AM recognizes that the values of agile development, as promoted by the Agile Alliance, are key to your being effective. The Agile Alliance promotes:
  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

  • Working software over comprehensive documentation

  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

  • Responding to change over following a plan



EXTREME PROGRAMMING


Let's begin with a simple question:

What is XP? As you will see, it is a deliberate and disciplined approach to software development.

Next we might wonder when to use XP. Risky projects with dynamic requirements are perfect for XP. These projects will experience greater success and developer productivity.

But do we need yet another software methodology? Actually we do. XP is a refreshing new approach. XP is successful because it emphasizes customer involvement and promotes team work.

So how could this possibly work? The most surprising aspect of XP is its simple rules and practices. They seem awkward and perhaps even naive at first, but soon become a welcome change. Customers enjoy being partners in the software process and developers actively contribute regardless of experience level.



From the Ontario Empoblog

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I Didn't Get the Memo 


The U.S. Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system has been replaced with the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS).

This happened eight years ago, in 1997.

Told you that I'm not trendy.

From the Ontario Empoblog

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Sunday, June 26, 2005

Just Don't Shoot One About a Banana Scanner 


There is a Yahoo! Group associated with Ellen Simonetti (Queen of Sky). One of the members, tuckerooni, has posted the following:


For those of you who haven't heard of it yet, "The Aviary" is a new
flight attendant movie that was written and produced by a flight
attendant. After seeing it (and really loving it) I wanted to pass
the information along. I hope you all enjoy it. You can read about
the FA who made it and watch the trailer on the site (the only place
to buy the film).

www.theaviarymovie.com

http://theaviarymovie.com/mainpage.htm



I watched the trailer for this film (DVD available). Other than noting that I kept on thinking I was watching a Client video, it's fair to say that the movie apparently follows the life and love, and the ups and downs, of a female flight attendant. Here's the story:



Here's are excerpts from the review that tuckerooni posted at imdb:


I just watched The Aviary and think this movie definitely rocks! It gets better with each viewing....[M]ost movies about flight attendants are pretty crappy. They generally show us nothing more than one-dimensional, stereotyped characters saying and doing dumb things, with no clue about either the job or the life being a flight attendant. Not the Aviary. Silver Tree's thoughtful and touching script, together with director Abe Levy's creative and engaging style make this 88 minute film a real treasure....


However, Richard Brunton wasn't as impressed:


...First up I have to say I'm not a Flight Attendant and never have been, and I think that has disadvantaged the movie straight away for me. To be quite fair I think this is a movie that appeals directly to those involved in the industry, and without that interest and involvement you're immediately missing out on a large part of what the movie is about....

There are some good touches in the movie, the travelling sequences using the camera at ankle height following the walking legs of the characters to the places they stop over and the airports they pass through was an clever way to portray the constant travelling. The constant placing of the three items of the main character, Summer Pozzi, on the bedside table to remind her of home no matter what hotel room she is in. The repeated taxi trips are an interesting way of reflecting the shallowness of the job, in that the Taxi driver is in a similar role and despite taking Pozzi on many journeys he still doesn't remember her, and once she makes a real human connection with him is when he acknowledges her for who she is....

However I couldn't associate with any of the characters, particularly that of Pozzi. I just found it so hard to find anything nice about her, she basically left her partner because he wasn't wanting to be a Pilot and then proceeded to sleep her way through a bunch of other Flight staff to get to another big plane Pilot. The way she treated people and especially her Mother was just not something that I could connect with in any way other than distaste.

Of her flatmates Rachel Luttrell as Portia was such an over the top actress it was hard to stomach her scenes, except those moments when she backed down a few steps and showed her talent. Perhaps her character was meant to be this way, but she grated heavily.

For me, the real star of this piece, and the only character that you begin to feel something for and some association with, is Kate played by Claire Rankin. She begins as a thoroughly hateful character, which is good because it does have you feeling something. As the movie progresses though you do begin to see her relax and open up to the other characters, and it's at this point you see the actress and her ability come through....



Some other tidbits about the movie:

  • The budget for the movie was an estimated $50,000.

  • In addition to working as a flight attendant, Silver Tree (her listed name) has also worked as a script supervisor.

  • Lara Phillips, who plays the title role, has a list of movie and TV credits going back to 1998, including an appearance in an Early Edition episode called "Up Chuck."

  • Abe Levy has a producing and directing spanning several years. He has worked with Silver Tree on several previous productions, but Silver Tree was not present for the 2001 production What to Do with Your Dead Hooker.


Also see The Movie Blog for another copy of Richard Brunton's review. And also see a guestbook that has been created.

Another mention of Silver Tree and Abe Levy:


The entire Lone Wolf production crew was such a pleasure to work with. In addition to Mr. Collins, we'd like to thank the following people for including us in such a wonderful and rewarding process....Assistant Director/B Camera Abe Levy (local boy from Tomales makes it in L.A.)...and Script Supervisor Silver Tree, who also jumps in and rounds out the cast when necessary (local girl from Tomales makes it in L.A.)....


(Regarding the title of this entry.)

From the Ontario Empoblog

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Saturday, June 25, 2005

And Let's End With Something Educational 


I've blogged a ton of junk today, so it's time to be informative. Here is the history of Ancient Greece, according to Weebl and Bob.

Good night. Merry Christmas in six months.

From the Ontario Empoblog

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Why I Am Not a Tequila Ho 


Here's how I ended my last post:


Here are my current stats:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Personal Profile
Handle: OEMPER
Sex: M
Member Since: 2/19/2004
Last Played: 6/24/2005
Career Games: 102
Career Points: 94800
Home Location: Tequila Hoppers and Grill
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Which, incidentally, appears on the display as "TEQUILA HO." So, when I was number 2 in the entire NTN network, I was OEMPER...TEQUILA HO....



But I'm not a Tequila Ho.

Later in the week (Friday, to be exact), I went to the theatre rehearsal for our new production. (I missed last week's first rehearsal because a week ago I was in New York, on Broadway, seeing "The Lion King.") Afterwards, a group of us retired to a pizza place for beer and food. Because it's a children's theatre group, a mixture of parents and kids were there. (My own daughter was not there, since she's still on vacation.) When the pizza place closed, the parents in the party reverted to teenage mode:

LET'S GO TO A BAR!
YEAH, LET'S GO TO THE HI BROW!
NAH, WE CAN'T TAKE THE KIDS IN THERE.
I KNOW! R---'S PARENTS AREN'T HOME! WE CAN GO TO THEIR HOUSE!
YEAH, I'LL BUY SOME BEER AND TEQUILA!
AND THEY GOT A JACUZZI!
COOL!

So all of the adults and the kids drove off to R---'s parents' house. While the kids (all of whom were elementary school age) tried out their dance moves (including breakdancing) to the JACK-FM playlist, the adults sat out back and ate chips & salsa and drank beer & tequila.

Well, not all of us drank tequila.

To be exact, I think only three of us drank tequila. And I wasn't one of them, for two reasons:
  • I had already been drinking beer at the pizza place, and figured that I'd better stick to beer. I had an unpleasant experience at college when I mixed some drinks. I can't remember the experience any more, but I do remember that it was unpleasant.

  • Even if I hadn't drank any beer Friday evening, I don't go out of my way to drink tequila, even in small amounts. I still remember a bachelor party in Vegas back in 1988 or 1989. Actually, the bachelor party started on the road to Vegas. In the late afternoon, we left Upland, California in a mobile home. The designated driver piloted the mobile home to Vegas, and we drank. In fact, some of us (again, not me) had a tequila drinking contest on the way to Vegas. And one of the guys won. I still remember seeing him in Vegas, sitting in the parking lot outside of the mobile home, at about 4 in the morning, unable to go anywhere. (This was back when there was a huge parking lot next to Caesar's Palace; we parked the mobile home there, and most of us then roamed the casinos and the strip.) Anyway, the "winner's" experience didn't exactly encourage me to drink large amounts, or even small amounts, of tequila.


So, back to Friday night when a sixth grader is trying out his disco and breakdancing moves, R--- and his wife S----- and J---- are drinking tequila and beer, and the rest of us are drinking beer.

Around midnight the power suddenly went out.

I have no explanation as to why the power went out. It was pretty cool at midnight, so the air conditioners weren't overloading the electrical network. And the power outage was localized to about one block.

But we ended up calling it a night. And I was not a Tequila Ho.

From the Ontario Empoblog

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Searching for NTN bloggers 


At the moment I'm searching for NTN bloggers...or, better still, an NTN blog. Here's what I'm finding.

Clara*s Victory Dance:


Friday I met Maria for drinks at the Flatiron. Ah, beer. Now that I don’t drink at home it’s so much more fun going out for beer. Anyway we played NTN and I won the BATMAN round. Since I just saw Batman Begins and you all know my feeling about Christian Bale I feel this somehow means we are meant to be together....


Pua:


We'd had a pretty rough week and so were looking forward to Pub Night on Friday. Charlie and I always try to get there early on Fridays. There's no crowd until later, and the dynamics are less bar-like and more restaurant-ish. The older regs are always in their usual barstools playing NTN, and as always, when we walk in the door, we get the "Cheers" greeting; "CHARLIE! PUA!" and then the drinks show up without so much as our asking. That accomplished, Roz (the owner) gets to the business of making sure I have a charged up NTN Playmaker.

For the most part, I keep a pretty low profile when I play. I don't sit at the bar with the regs. Charlie and I always take a table somewhere in the restaurant. That way, I can watch a hockey game on another tv and still see the NTN screen at the same time. I play under a nickname instead of my own name; I guess for a sense of anonymity. Or at least, if I have a really bad game, then no one will know that the bonehead loser is Pua. :o) I've had my good and bad days. Days where I couldn't answer a question for the life of me, and proposed no threat to the barfly regs sitting at the bar. These guys are Players Plus members with MILLIONS of points to my mere 82,000. It's pretty obvious that they burn a lot of hours sitting at that bar drinking beer and playing the game. But last night, I was a force to be reckoned with. It started out slow; me against 7 men, and for the majority of the first game, I held strong to seventh, or last place. But on question 14 (every game consists of 15 questions), an inquiry regarding Canadian government came up. What the hell do I know about Canada for goshsakes? I guessed. I hit paydirt and suddenly found myself in 2nd place. Suddenly, mumbling starts in barfly reg country. They turn and start scanning the room for this surprising upandcomer. With no satisfaction, they turn their attention back to the screen for the last question. "What producer gave us Agent James Bond?" Well crap. I'm playing against a bunch of middle-aged and older men. What chance do I have to pull this one out? Zero to none. Guess again. I had Broccoli for dinner. I literally ate them alive because for some reason, they went the actor route instead of the producer route and they either answered "Sean Connery" or "George Lazenby". Boys, eat your veggies!

So, by the first hat trick (three wins) with my name flashing on the screen as gamewinner, I could tell the Barfly Boys were positively seething. And Charlie and I, happily hidden but with them delightfully in our view, enjoyed watching as they kept looking around for this infiltrator. I honestly think Charlie was having much more fun than me just watching their reactions with every game I won. SIX games later, the frustration evident and no longer tolerable, the Barfly Boys got up from their seats, split up, and actively walked around the restaurant looking for a chick with a Playmaker. Finally, one of them, saw the Playmaker at our table, looked at me, approached our table....

Barfly Boy goes back to the bar and resumes his place for the next game. I turn mine off. It's time to go and it's always better to leave the table when you're ahead. I think Kenny Rogers said that...right? Anyway, Charlie goes to say goodbye to our friend Jerry, the manager, and close out our tab, and I walk over to Bilbo and the rest of the Barfly Boys....

They all turn toward me, smile, say their polite pleasantries about how it's nice to know me, when I know for a fact they all hate me right now. One of the them, he goes by the handle "Bullitt", says to me..."So YOU'RE the one. You're good. You're damn good." I thank him; "Coming from you, that's quite a compliment."...

As we walk out the door, Charlie says, "Wow..did you see how happy they were you were leaving? That's gotta feel great!" Any other time, a remark like that might make me cry. But this time, I was elated.



Pokeramarama:


Anyhow, last night. My friend, Twanner(short for Anthony, but how, I'm not quite sure), went out for our weekly NTN trivia battle at William's (?). We finish up at about midnight with the usual outcome-the ass-kicking of Twanner, by yours truly-and head over to Old Chicago because it's karaoke night....


Watching Myself Gavotte:


Friday, November 19, 2004

Wednesday night I ended up playing and finishing second in the law school Trivial Pursuit tournament at Leopold's....

Trivia games (and trivia questions, for that matter) can range on a wide spectrum from impossibly hard to absurdly easy. But the distinctions are more complicated than that. I would argue that any trivia game has two competing factors that determine what kind of outcome you want: do you want to reward knowing more obscure things ("knowing"), or do you want to reward figuring out more commonly known things ("reckoning")?...

I think the proper reckoning/knowing ratio for a good trivia game is a highly subjective thing; most people would never want to play a game with the level of knowledge required in quiz-bowl, because most people just don't have that kind of factual knowledge. On the other hand, many quiz-bowl people disdain reckoning questions, except insofar as they have to choose from a small set of answers they know that may fit the early clues to a question.

For me, CBI Regionals was always just about right--a fair amount of factual knowledge required to do well, some other analytical thinking skills useful if you want to do really well. NTN also has a nice ratio, because the questions generally require some knowledge, but because they are multiple choice, there's also a reckoning between answers aspect. Trivial Pursuit and harder versions of academic quiz-bowl are too far away from my ideal point for me to want to play them regularly; I enjoy them on occasion, but would probably get irritated with them if those occasions came more than about once a year.



Pokerist announced the availability of Texas Hold'Em on NTN.

P.S. Here are my current stats:


Personal Profile
Handle: OEMPER
Sex: M
Member Since: 2/19/2004
Last Played: 6/24/2005
Career Games: 102
Career Points: 94800
Home Location: Tequila Hoppers and Grill



Which, incidentally, appears on the display as "TEQUILA HO." So, when I was number 2 in the entire NTN network, I was OEMPER...TEQUILA HO.

In just a second I'll tell you why that was ironic...

From the Ontario Empoblog

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Bookcrossing in Ontario, California 


Having released four books tonight, I'm doing a bit of research on the Bookcrossers in Ontario, California. As of this evening, there are 32 of us. Here is a little bit of information on a fewone of them (lost access to the profiles for some technological reason):

abbylicious1

From the journal for The Fat Girl's Guide to Life:


I work at the (Ontario City) library and someone turned this book in and it looked prery funny and interesting so I took it home. I read the intro and the book flap, still interested, now I just have to get some free time together to read it. I also liked the Buffy quote in the beginning.


From the Ontario Empoblog

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An Old Joke - Where Are They Now 


All of this talk about censorship reminded me of an old Ronald Reagan joke:


[A]t the Geneva summit, Reagan told the following joke which made Gorbachev laugh heartily: An old Russian woman goes into Kremlin, gets an audience with Gorbachev and says, "In America anyone can go to the White House, walk up to Reagan's desk and say, 'I don't like the way you are running the country.'" Gorbachev replied, "You can do the same thing in the Soviet Union. You can go into the Kremlin, walk up to my desk and say 'I don't like the way Reagan is running his country.'"


And, in their "where are they now" segment, I can happily report that Gorbachev has invented a "beltway" for Russia. Witness this gobbledygook:


The Gorbachev Foundation was set up in December 1991 and launched March 1992. The Gorbachev Foundation's mission is based on the belief that Russia, and the world, needs new thinking, new understanding and a new interpretation of the notions of progress, humanism and justice. The Foundation's mission has allowed it to engage people concerned with Russia's future.
Those who support the Foundation adhere to the ideas of reforms initiated during perestroika. Perestroika's progress was offset by the August 1991 coup and the follow-up developments.

International Foundation for Socio-Economic and Political Studies (The Gorbachev Foundation) has a Public Affairs Center that was set up in January 2000. The Center is working to study and preserve the heritage of perestroika, as well as to discuss, support and promote the ideas and nongovernmental projects which facilitate the consolidation of civil society and democratic reforms in Russia.

The Public Affairs Center has two units: Research and Information Unit (the archive and library complex and display facilities) and Public Discussions Unit represented by the Raisa Maximovna Club and the Gorbachev Foundation's standing seminar.

The main stock of the archive is composed of print, electronic and audio-visual content. These include the materials depicting activities of Mikhail Gorbachev and the nation's socio-political history at large.

The main activity of the library is to collect books and other printed materials devoted to the era of perestroika, Gorbachev's activities, as well as to supply information on the most interesting domestic and foreign publications (regular displays).

The Gorbachev Foundation is engaged in many projects in Russia and abroad.



And, if you haven't heard, Ronald Reagan is dead.

From the Ontario Empoblog

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Power of Babel 


I began wondering what the Chinese MSN Portal was saying. So I plugged http://www.msn.com.cn/ into http://babelfish.altavista.com/ and translated from Simplified Chinese into English. Here's some of what I got:


Sunday, on June 26
North blue today important news
The Anhui hundred students vaccinate the hepatitis A vaccine to appear exceptionally 1 dead
The Tibet world bubonic plague 2 people died the medical department name already active control
The steam oil ticket exchange must make up the uneven price difference old oil ticket to be possible to buy the European III oil
North blue hot spot
Taishan restores the normal traveling order expert: Truly has appeared the tiger
An original resident "lawmaker" the high plum registers for the central national university

North blue media essence
After Zeng Yinquan took office to return the port to launch the work
Volunteer school principal because the scandal leaves the stage
The American enlisted woman bleeds Iraqi Fei Lu Jie
39 members China theory "passes through"
North blue frequency channel recommendation
Fights beats, challenges this season NBA ten big key words
The complaint date atrocity protects finally 35 woman being forceds to comfort the war soldier with sex

Shopping frequency channel

Contemporary money · Game card · Lover track shoes

Force recommendation
The man to likes ZIPPO lighting the fervor
400 Yuan get up the evil spirit beast to reveal the card, summer vacation plays the game in the home
Japan of popular toy the Hong Kong street treasure tourism unfolds
With pays valuably buys the jewelry to buy one and get one free exempts express



From the Ontario Empoblog

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What is Kevin Poulsen Saying Today? (The Great Firewall of China, And Yahoo! "Censorship" in the Good Ol' USA) 


Remember him? Well, here's his latest:


The Chinese version of MSN Spaces is linked to the new MSN China portal, launched last month in partnership with Shanghai Alliance Investment, a company funded by the city government here. Last week that partnership plunged Microsoft into the long-standing controversy surrounding the Chinese government's internet censorship policies, after Asian blogs and news reports revealed that MSN Spaces blocks Chinese bloggers from putting politically sensitive language in the names of their blogs, or in the titles of individual blog entries.

The words and phrases blocked by Microsoft include "Taiwan independence," "Dalai Lama," "human rights," "freedom" and "democracy."

In a statement, lead MSN product manager Brooke Richardson said, "MSN abides by the laws, regulations and norms of each country in which it operates. The content posted on member spaces is the responsibility of individuals who are required to abide by MSN's code of conduct."

[Entrepreneur Isaac] Mao dismisses that statement as disingenuous. The company, he says, is going above and beyond official censorship practices, which deal decisively with speech critical of the ruling communist government, but don't outright ban words like "freedom."...

Existing Chinese blog-hosting companies strike that balance by policing their members' blogs for postings that might get the company and its users in trouble: The phrase "China needs democracy," for example, would set off a red flag. But "democracy" itself is not a dirty word....

Chinese netizens numbered 87 million last year, and about 1 million of them -- evenly split between genders -- are now blogging. When the number of bloggers grows to 10 million, the Chinese government may find itself unable to control the content, says Mao, even with its vast array of human and technological resources devoted to the task.

Chief among those resources is what's colloquially called the "Great Firewall," a notorious filtering system that prevents Chinese netizens from visiting websites of which the government disapproves.

The firewall was in evidence last week during a late-afternoon visit to a sprawling, smoke-filled internet bar in the Xi Jia Hui district, where an after-school crowd of fashionably dressed young people streamed in to nearly fill the nearly 200-plus PC stations.

Major news sites like CNN.com, MSNBC and Wired.com were freely accessible from the PCs. Google could be reached at first, but the caches were blocked, as was Google News. The BBC's front page was accessible, but individual stories were not. Anonymizer.com was blocked.

Amnesty International's website was blocked, suggesting that the Chinese government holds the international human rights group in the same regard as the Bush administration. Human Rights Watch was blocked, along with nine of the top 10 results from a Google search on "China" and "human rights." After running that search, Google was blocked from the PC for about 10 minutes....



The Baltimore Sun is also reporting on this:


Today, Microsoft is working closely with Chinese government censors to make sure Chinese bloggers don't take their readers' minds where Beijing doesn't want them to go - by blocking postings with certain dangerous words, such as "human rights," "freedom" and "democracy."

The restrictions apply to postings on Microsoft's blog-hosting service in China, MSN Spaces, which has already attracted 5 million Chinese, or about one-twentieth of the Internet users in the world's largest nation - a potentially lucrative toehold for the world's largest software firm. But at what price? Selling out core American values - starting with free speech - for the lure of vast profits in China not only aids Beijing's repression but also damages Microsoft's credibility worldwide.

Other Internet service companies - Yahoo and Google - have been accused of participating in China's "Great Firewall," Beijing's Big Brother system of keyword filtering and user monitoring to limit the cyber-paths and information available to its 1.3 billion citizens, a fifth of the world. But for the most part, China's restrictions have been imposed by Beijing on Yahoo and Google, whereas Microsoft's Shanghai-based joint venture is said to have built the censorship mechanisms into its own computers. It's the difference between doing business under a changing but still repressive system and doing business by sustaining that system with active collaboration.

In response to criticism, Microsoft has justified this big misstep by saying it's simply adhering to China's laws. Even more galling, one of the company's more prominent bloggers, an employee named Robert Scoble, actually suggested in a June 12 posting that many Chinese don't believe in free speech and thus Microsoft shouldn't put itself in the position of foisting it on China - an assertion so ill-founded as to be offensive....



For the record, here's some of what Scoble said in his June 12 entry:


[D]o I think Chinese citizens should have the right to publish whatever they want? Absolutely.

But, and this is a big but...I'm not Chinese. I'm American. So I have ABSOLUTELY NO BUSINESS forcing the Chinese into a position they don't believe in.

Hear me out.

I've been to China (as an employee of Winnov about seven years ago). I met with Government officials there. I met with students. I met with professors. They explained their anti-free-speech stance to me and I understand it. I don't agree with it, and I will be happy to explain to anyone the benefits of giving your citizens the right to speak freely, but it's not my place to make their laws. It certainly is not my right to force their hand with business power.

Any more than it's their place to make American laws. I'd be very offended if Chinese companies tried to influence our laws here. Or, pushed their agenda on American soil....



What does the wowie zowie Congressional - Executive Commission on China say?


Article 35 of the Chinese Constitution states that Chinese citizens enjoy freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Other legislation, such as China's Publishing Regulations, stipulates that groups and individuals may not interfere in the lawful exercise of these rights.

In some respects the average Chinese enjoys more freedom of expression today than at any other point in China's history. Everyone from farmers to taxi drivers to restaurant owners will, with little or no prompting, freely express their discontent with the Communist Party, its policies and its corruption, both among themselves and with foreigners. Jokes about leaders that would have resulted in execution or enslavement in imperial China and imprisonment a mere 20 years ago, are now rapidly propagated throughout China in chat rooms and via mobile phone short-text-messaging.

Government reforms, the spread of the Internet, and the introduction of capitalist market forces to the publishing industry have resulted in more sources of government-controlled and government-filtered information becoming available to the citizens of China. While still state-controlled, China's media is becoming increasingly vigorous in providing coverage of matters such as local crime and corruption scandals.

While these developments represent an improvement over China's propaganda-obsessed media of the preceding half century, it does not change the fact that today the Communist Party enforces restrictions on publishing activities more strictly than any other government in China's history, and that the people of China do not enjoy freedom of political expression in any meaningful sense of the term. More precisely:
  • China's government does not allow people to publish news except in government controlled forums;

  • Chinese authorities imprison those who publish views that are inconsistent with those approved by the Communist Party;

  • It is illegal for anyone to publish a newspaper or magazine unless they are wealthy and have express authorization from the government;

  • It is illegal to publish a book about a political leader in China unless its contents have been reviewed and approved by the government.



Here's a little more about The Great Firewall:


Chinese authorities continue to block human rights, educational, political, and news websites without providing the public notice, explanation, or opportunity for appeal. Chinese officials have publicly admitted that the government has established a national firewall to prevent Chinese citizens from accessing certain types of content. Studies conducted by Commission staff and others indicate that China's national firewall is used primarily to block political content, not obscenity or junk mail. Tests performed by the Commission staff indicate that the Chinese government continues to manipulate Internet communications in the following manner:
  • Attempting to access prohibited websites results in either a gateway timeout or "Page Cannot Be Displayed" message. Chinese authorities continue to block sites such as Google's cache (which would allow people to view "snapshots" of sites taken by Google, and thereby view Web pages which were otherwise blocked), the Alta Vista search engine, BBC (Chinese), VOA and those of most human rights organizations critical of the Chinese government (including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights in China, China Labor Bulletin, the Dui Hua Foundation, and Reporters Without Borders).

  • Searching for certain sensitive terms, such as "Falun Gong," on search engines regulated by the Chinese government yields results (which do not deviate from the official government position), while searches for the same terms on search engines not regulated by the Chinese government, such as Google, results in the Internet browser being temporarily disabled.
  • Attempting to send e-mails from China to well-known dissidents using an Internet browser interface results in the browser being temporarily disabled.

Chinese Internet users are generally able to access English-language news from major Western news media outlets through the national firewall, but Chinese authorities actively block Chinese language news websites with contents they are unable to control. For example, tests performed by the Commission staff indicate that while Internet users could access the BBC and Radio Canada websites in English, the Chinese versions were inaccessible.

Over the past year, Chinese authorities continued their policy of increasing the extent of Internet censorship during politically sensitive times. For example, Chinese authorities blocked access to foreign news websites (even sites available only in English such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and CNN) during the 16th Party Congress in November 2002 and the 10th National People's Congress in March 2003.

Chinese authorities are becoming increasingly sophisticated in how they censor the Internet and admit to developing technologies that will both enable more targeted censorship and notify government officials as soon as any person tries to access such websites. Specifically, officials claim to be prepared to deploy technologies that will allow them to automatically and precisely block Web pages based, not on specific words, but on the actual viewpoint of the author. In February 2003, state-sponsored academic researchers in China announced that they had already developed such technology for a "Falun Gong Content Examination System." Using this system, if an article contains pro-Falun Gong information, it is designated as "black." If the system determines an article criticizes or opposes Falun Gong, it is designated as "red" and blocked. The system can be installed on personal computers, servers, and at national gateways, so that as soon as a user tries to visit a Web page that is pro-Falun Gong, the system can filter the page and immediately notify authorities.

Tests performed by Commission staff indicate that systems providing this type of increasingly fine-tuned censorship have already been deployed at some Internet cafes. Specifically, Web pages containing sensitive content on sites that are otherwise accessible begin loading, but before they are completely visible the page is replaced by a message informing the user that the content the user is trying to access is forbidden. The browser is then automatically redirected to a government-authorized general interest website, but the user is not told why the site was prohibited or to whom an appeal can be submitted to have the prohibition removed.

Internet bulletin board systems (BBSs) continue to provide a glimpse at how Chinese authorities would like to shape the Internet. As the government-affiliated China Internet Network Information Center put it: "[BBSs such as the one operated by the official People's Daily] represent the degree of freedom of expression the people of China have." Chinese law requires all BBSs to be licensed, all articles to be constantly monitored, and all BBS providers must keep a record of all content posted on their website, the time it was posted, and the source's IP address or city name.

BBSs use software to automatically block posts containing blacklisted words and also use human monitors to block and remove articles posted with content that they deem politically unacceptable. It is possible to watch as users on government-controlled BBSs debate with the censor about whether or not a given post should be allowed. In one case, a Commission staff member observed a user successfully persuade a censor to allow his post because, even though the title sounded like it was praising the U.S. multi-party system, in fact it was a long essay about the dangers inherent in such a system. Commission staff regularly observe censors removing posts that are either too critical of the government, or that might be acceptable by themselves but have generated too many responses critical of the government. BBSs that become known for allowing cutting-edge postings on politically sensitive topics routinely disappear from the Internet altogether.



Of course, in a theoretical way, some would argue that censorship happens here also:


Family advocacy groups lauded Yahoo Inc. on Thursday for closing its chat rooms to clean up areas that allegedly were used to prey on children.

Over the past month, pressure has been building on Yahoo to crack down on chat rooms that promoted sex with minors. After learning some of their advertisements were showing up in such chat rooms, companies such as PepsiCo Inc., Georgia-Pacific Corp. and State Farm Insurance removed their ads.

Yahoo's move came after a lawsuit was filed against the Internet portal last month on behalf of a 12-year-old molestation victim and following a long campaign by watchdog groups to persuade Yahoo and other large Internet portals to purge their sites of child porn. The suit seeks $10 million in damages....

[A]fter years of trying to persuade Sunnyvale-based Yahoo to go after child pornographers operating within the chat rooms, critics suspect the threat of a costly civil suit and the potential loss of advertising dollars likely prompted Yahoo to act....



From the Ontario Empoblog

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Suicide is Not Painless 


From Richard W. Bowers in the York [Pennsylvania] Daily Record:


...Life has a way of dealing a very cruel hand at times. While there are those who maintain strength and courage, they live in hope that there is an answer somewhere for them. They continue to suffer, fear, agonize, pray and despair as they endeavor to keep their hope alive.

This is why it is important to remind yourself over and over and over again that you are a person of value. When the demons of depression and disappointment appear, resist them with everything within you. There is an alarming epidemic of suicides in our country ranging from the turbulent teenager to the despondent, desperate elderly person.

The sad part is that virtually all suicides are preventable....

At least 39 percent of suicides are committed by those 65 years of age.

Elderly men are most likely to commit suicide because they are unable to care for themselves, are in poor health, feel abandoned and are unhappy with their fate.

Elderly women, on the other hand, are less likely to commit suicide because they have continued to maintain their social contacts and know how to take care of their needs.

The gnawing sense of hopelessness, abandonment, loneliness, rejection, poverty or illness has a way of tormenting the mind and spirit and distorts reality.

It is here that family, close friends, old pals, the family doctor or a clergy person can be tremendous sources of strength and encouragement....



From the Ontario Empoblog

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A Hotbed of Literacy 


From The Times of London:


Indians are the world’s most avid readers. A new survey shows that they spend twice as much time reading books, newspapers and magazines as the British, and nearly three times longer than the Japanese.

The titles they choose may not send pulses racing — How to Help Your Child Excel in Maths is a favourite — but Indians on average read for nearly 11 hours each week....

In small towns, encyclopedias and dictionaries sold by travelling salesman often occupy pride of place as the sole book owned by a family. Penguin India, for example, has sold 5,000 copies of The Ultimate Visual Dictionary.

The strong market for educational books reflects the fierce competition faced by young Indians when applying for a job or a place at one of the universities....Self-help books and textbooks are considered the quickest way to improve prosperity and social status....

Reading for pleasure is considered less useful and a novel is a bestseller if it sells 2,000-3,000 copies — a tiny number in a country of one billion people....



Here's more information (including United States information) from NOP World itself:


Globally, individuals say they spent 16.6 hours watching television, 8 hours listening to the radio, 6.5 hours reading and 8.9 hours on computers/Internet (for non-work related reasons) on average each week.

It is interesting to note that consumers in the US and UK are below the global average (5.7 and 5.3 hours per week respectively) when it comes to reading, but significantly above the average on TV viewing (19 hours per week in the US and 18 in the UK), listening to the radio (10.2 hours per week in the US and 10.5 in the UK) and just slightly below the global average for computer/Internet usage (8.8 hours per week in both the US and UK)....

Consumers in Thailand report the most time each week in front of the television at 22.4 hours per week, followed closely by the Philippines at 21.0, Egypt at 20.9 and Turkey at 20.2 hours....

Argentineans spend the most time (20.8 hours per week) listening to the radio, followed by Brazilians at 17.2 and South Africans at 15.0 hours....

Consumers in Taiwan report the most computer/Internet time, averaging 12.6 hours a week for non-work related purposes, followed by consumers in Thailand (11.7) and Spain (11.5 hours)....

Consumers in India are most likely to spend time reading, at an average of 10.7 hours per week, followed by consumers in Thailand and China (at 9.4 hours and 8 hours per week respectively)....



From the Ontario Empoblog

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Have you ever engaged in poor pre-release publicity? 


Yowza. Hot Librarian links to a Radar Online post that lists sample questions from Scientology's "SEC Whole Track" questionnaire:


The internal church document was developed by Scientology founder and onetime science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard for use during “auditing” sessions—you know, the ones designed to identify your trapped “thetans.”

The “thetans,” or alien ghosts, were implanted in earth’s volcanoes 75 million years ago by the evil intergalactic ruler Xenu, until the nasty buggers escaped and invaded the bodies of each and every one of us. New recruits like Katie Holmes, or “preclears,” answer the questions while hooked up to an E-meter—a crude, polygraph-like contraption—as a Church-sanctioned auditor records the subject’s responses for further expensive inquiry.



Well, after extensive spurious research, I have uncovered Tom Cruise's most recent answers to some of the questions. (I guess he was taking a refresher course or something.)

• Have you driven anyone insane?

"Only myself, in my recent appearance on Oprah."

• Have you systematically set up mysteries?

"Yes, an extensive mystery regarding my sexuality and the honesty in my relationships."

• Have you ever gone crazy?

"Yes. See Oprah."

• Have you ever had a body with a venereal disease? If so, did you spread it?

"Does dating a women with herpes count?"

From the Ontario Empoblog

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