Saturday, May 9, 2009

Anniston's Revenge?

A blogger at Adweek wondered if Jennifer Anniston had captioned (and mis-spelled) this poster.

Turns out it's legitimate... This new poster for Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino's long-awaited epic, which features Brad Pitt as the leader of a violent (of course, it's a Tarantino movie) anti-Nazi squad creating mayhem behind enemy lines. The movie, more than a decade in the making, is set to debut at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival later this month. (US release in August)

At least there's some concession of humanity there, as opposed to this t-shirt from :

Weak In Review

Star Trek: The Last Generation?

President Obama has ordered a full review of NASA's manned space exploration programs.

By Paul McDougall - InformationWeek - May 8, 2009
Even as the new Star Trek movie rekindles interest in space travel and the possibility of extraterrestrial life, NASA's voyages into the cosmos may fall victim to a more earthly reality -- multibillion-dollar budget deficits fueled by bailouts to the banks and automakers.

President Obama on Thursday ordered a full review of the Ares and Orion program, under which the space agency is building a rocket and crew capsule designed to replace the aging shuttle fleet and carry humans deeper into space.

NASA last week implemented layoffs associated with the shuttle's planned retirement next year.
Obama tapped former aerospace executive Norman Augustine to lead a blue-ribbon panel of experts that will review NASA's goals and related funding requirements. Augustine, who also served on the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, said the review won't be easy.

"I am excited about working with my fellow panel members to examine these difficult and complex questions," said Augustine, in a statement. "I am a real believer in the value of this nation's human spaceflight activities and will do everything I can to provide the information needed to help the country maintain the spectacular arc of progress NASA has fueled for five decades."

The Ares and Orion program was born of former President George W. Bush's "Vision for Space Exploration" blueprint. The Ares and Orion vehicles were scheduled to come online in 2014. Work will continue on the program while the review is ongoing, NASA said.

Meanwhile, the agency said it received a 5% increase in funding, to $18.69 billion, for the fiscal year 2010. The funding will cover a range of activities, including work to complete the International Space Station, exploration of the solar system, and aeronautics research.

"With this budget NASA is able to support a balanced portfolio of priorities," said acting NASA administrator Christopher Scolese.

Looking Good

News of Farrah Fawcett's health seems to indicate her prognosis doesn't look good. But this iconic poster reminds us of the time before Charlie's Angels when looking good was all we knew about her.

Lisa Gutierrez of the Kansas City Star tells how it happened.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Major League Disappointment

Manny Ramirez suspended 50 games for banned drug.

Manny Ramirez suspended 50 games for positive drug test.
"Recently I saw a physician for a personal health issue," he said in the statement. "He gave me a medication, not a steroid, which he thought was okay to give me. Unfortunately, the medication was banned under our drug policy. Under the policy, that mistake is now my responsibility."

AP reported "Manny Ramirez used a female fertility drug, HCG, human chorionic gonadotropin." It works for that and sometimes is used to kick start puberty for boys with a delayed onset.

ESPN's Jeremy Schapp added with adult males HCG "is typically used by steroid users to restart their bodies' natural testosterone production as they come off a steroid cycle. It is similar to Clomid, the drug Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and others used as clients of BALCO."

The L.A. Times:
The suspension will cost Ramirez $7.7 million, or roughly 31% of his $25-million salary. Players in violation of baseball's drug policy are not paid during suspensions.

Ramirez would become the biggest star suspended under an oft-criticized major league testing program that started in 2003. He had been a model citizen since arriving in Los Angeles last August, following a stormy tenure with the Boston Red Sox."
But now his 100+ RBI pace propelling the Dodgers to a season opening at home win streak, and the NL's best winning percentage plus last year's spectacular finish are called into question.

In Red Sox Nation, where Manny is perceived to have faked injury for the first half of the 2008 season to force a contract renegotiation or trade, Boston Globe sports columnist Bob Ryan wrote:
Be careful. Manny could be telling the truth.

If any baseball superstar is capable of taking a medication in all innocence, and then finding out that something in it is included on Major League Baseball's banned list of substances it is Manny Ramirez. It certainly fits the profile.

After all, who should know better than us?

But losing Manny until 4th of July weekend is no joke to the Dodgers organization and fans.

Photo: Getty Images via Newsday

Jesusita Update

I used to live in Santa Barbara. It's very nice... Between fires.

AP Video (Friday PM)

KSBW 8, Santa Cruz (Thursday evening news)

KEYT 3, Santa Barbara (Latest Update)

This fire takes it's name from the Jesusita Trail, a challenging 7 mile round trip to "Inspiration Point," a scenic overlook elevated about 1200 feet above the starting point.

The word Jesusita (literally small female Jesus) is a Latino put down of a woman who's very public and vocal about Christian religiosity.

Making Smart Cool

Du Bois (1918)First Lady Michelle Obama has told young African Americans to focus on their education and ignore anyone who says they’re “acting white” by getting good grades. Robin Young met up with a group of young people who are taking her advice. They meet on Saturdays at Harvard University to debate and listen to scholars. They’re called the Du Bois Society and they’re trying to convince other young people that being smart is cool.

Learn more about W.E.B. Du Bois. Portrait: from Wikipedia.
Audio: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now, May 7th. Host: Robin Young.

The Plan To Say No

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Future Starts Tomorrow

All the Star Trek news.

Alien Skull (not)

Remember Cydonia?

Remember Cydonia?

A group of hills at Cydonia photographed by Viking 1 on July 25, 1976 had the appearance of a face under certain lighting conditions, while others resembled pyramids. Better resolution cameras on subsequent missions more than 20 years after the original images collected new data and the phenomena has now been generally accepted as an optical illusion.

Then comes this from one of the current Mars rovers, Spirit:

Conspiracy theories anyone?

From Geekologie blog, May 5th.

Globe still spinning

Tentative agreement -- Union trades
life-long jobs for life of the paper.

Pulitzer Prize Winner Eugene Robinson, blames the turmoil on NYT's mismanagement, which recently has preserved the flagship while stripping down the fleet.

Journalist Mark Bowden, in the May issue of Vanity Fair Magazine, says the paper’s fifth-generation publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Junior, is not up to the task of running one great newspaper -- let alone a company owning several of them.

Audio: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & NowApril 9th. Host: Robin Young.

Simply Red, White & Blue

'Sunrise' by Simply Red, featured on the double platinum album 'Home' (2003).

Whether or not you buy the premise of Voca People as 8 friendly aliens from a musical planet that has heard pop music from earth for decades via radio telescope, and learned to make medleys of songs they love... You can appreciate the talent. This Israeli/American ensemble of 8 talented musician-actors consists of 3 female singers (alto, mezzo, soprano) and 3 male singers (bass, baritone, tenor), plus 2 human beat box artists.

Cheese Factory contributor: Ken Morgan

Blue Man Group appeared on the Season One finale of America's Got Talent in 2006, where they performed a cover of The Who's "Baba O'Riley" with Tracy Bonham on vocals & violin.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Cutting $100 billion

What's it like to make a $100 billion budget cut?

All These Ants Are Aunts

Scientists find an all female asexual ant species cloning themselves.

Mycocepurus ants grow fungal gardens from the ceiling of their nest chambers. This fungus is their sole source of food.
A report in the prestigious UK journal "Proceedings of the Royal Society:B" (for Biological Sciences) documents an Amazonian ant species that is reproducing through asexual cloning and has completely done away with males. The lead researcher is Anna Himler, a biologist from the University of Arizona.

Audio: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now May 5th. Host: Robin Young.
Photograph: Alex Wild (2007)

Doubletree Hotels - "Branches"

This popular Doubletree Hotels commercial first ran in 2007 and 2008. It's back again in 2009, with people all over the Internet asking about the song: Relax Max, performed by the late Dinah Washington.

An appreciative fan...

And someone else who picked up a little Dinah influence, too.

Artist: Duffy
Title: Mercy
Album: Rockferry
Year: 2008

Who Are You... Really?

I signed up for looking to reconnect with old school friends. I didn't sign up for KatieFun789, supposedly a curvy 25 year old from Las Vegas looking to date me (according to the ad.)

As a frequent news stand browser, she looked vaguely familiar.

Another blogger who two years before was offered a connection to KatieFun789/Amber55 (then an athletic 25 year old from Fort Wayne, IN), identified her as erotic model / exotic dancer "Sydney Moon," whose Wikipedia entry was removed in December 2008 for not meeting their "porn bio standards"... Apparently frequent photo work with men's magazines including Playboy, Hustler, Club, and Perfect 10 isn't notorious enough.

Wiki users apparently don't buy the perpetually 25 act either. In fact, whatever her name, her official website bio puts her age at 34.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cinco de Mayo

The Battle of PueblaYou'd never know it from all the hoopla here, but in Mexico, May 5th is not an obligatory federal holiday like July 4th is in the US.

But on May 5, 1862, despite being outnumbered by 2 to 1, Mexican forces defeated the French at Puebla marking the last time Europeans would invade the North American Continent. Although a considerable source of pride among Mexicans (and Mexican hyphenates abroad), Independence Day (from Spain), celebrated September 16 (dieciséis de septiembre in Spanish), is the most important national patriotic holiday in Mexico.

Transmission Lines

The World Health Organization says a farm worker in Alberta, Canada caught the flu while visiting Mexico, then infected about 220 pigs from a herd of 2,200 — or 10 percent of the herd - on return:

Dr. Peter Ben Embarek, a WHO senior scientist on food safety, said: "As long as pork is cooked the way we normally cook meat, there is no problem and no risk at all to get this disease." Studies have shown that flu viruses are usually killed during processing and, if not, by the heat applied during cooking.

Embarek was not surprised that the virus (H1N1 2009) could be transmitted both ways.

Craigslist and Law Enforcement

The case of Philip Markoff, charged with the murder of one woman and robbery of another, has brought up questions about the online marketplace Craigslist. Markoff allegedly met both women through their Craigslist ads for erotic services. Host Robin Young speaks with Patrick Black, who operates a website that tracks crime on Craigslist, and Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, who has been weighing how to work with Craigslist on cases like Markoff’s.

Audio: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now May 4th.

Playing For Change

You've seen the viral video:

Now learn more about the process as NPR's Renee Montagne interviews the video's maker Mark Johnson, the producer of a remarkable documentary about the simple but transformative power of music: PLAYING FOR CHANGE: PEACE THROUGH MUSIC.

Audio: NPR's Morning Edition, May 4th.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Globe' Future


Globe says it won't file closing notice

"We expect to achieve both the workplace flexibility, and the financial savings that we sought from these (6 of 7) unions," said Globe management spokesman Robert Powers. "We are not , therefore, making a filing to today" under the federal plant closing law. The law requires companies to give 60-days notice to the state and employees before closing a business.

As the newspaper industry faces declining readership and the migration of readers online, The Boston Globe deals with the threat of closing and tough choices about how to move forward. Management (the New York Times - also losing money on a grand scale) demanded major concessions or else they'd shut the Globe down. The Newspaper Guild's negotiators don't buy it... They're calling the Times bluff.

Today's paper included a special section on the dispute, reporting:

Boston Globe management was continuing to negotiate concessions with its major unions well past a midnight deadline, but said it was prepared to file a plant closing notice with the state today if they failed to reach agreement. (Boston Globe)
The newspaper's unions framed the conflict as a classic local heroes vs New York struggle, tapping into longstanding regional resentments.

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The rival Boston Herald is keeping a close eye on the situation, too.

How Do You Measure A TV Show?


The Los Angeles Times keeps a watch (or deathwatch) on the networks and their lineups as TV's fall schedules are finalized over the coming weeks.

How Do You Measure A Successful Prank?

Visual Impact plus Lasting Notoriety

In 1999 pranksters turned the dome into Star Wars character R2D2. (Photo courtesy of MIT Museum)
In "Hackers delight -- A history of MIT pranks" the Boston Globe offers a photo retrospective... Including this from 1999, when students transfomed MIT's landmark dome into Star Wars' R2D2.

The latest: This year hackers placed a solar powered subway car replica atop an architectural feature of the dome that looks like tracks. They caputured a short round trip on video April 28, 2009.

Photo courtesy of Massachusetts Institute of Technology Museum

How Do You Measure A Bridge?

From Cambridge looking toward Boston, many smoots away. (Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons)Carefully...
Smoot by Smoot.

In 1958, pledges at MIT's Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity were ordered to measure the length of the Harvard Bridge between Boston's Back Bay and the school's campus on the Cambridge side of the Charles River... using the shortest pledge, 5'7" Oliver R. Smoot, Jr. as the unit of measure. Two hours and one interruption by police later, the pledges had painted markings at 10 smoot intervals and determined the eastern pedestrian walkway's length was 364.4 smoots ± one ear.

Photo of Peter Miller, Oliver Smoot (MIT '62) and Gordon Mann on the Harvard Bridge marking Smoots. (Photo courtesy of MIT Museum)To this day, the pledges repaint the markings twice a year without objection from the police, who use the smoot markings as a reference point in traffic accident reports. When the bridge was repaired in the 1980's Continental Construction Company of Cambridge also agreed to make the new concrete sidewalk slabs 5' 7" long to coincide with the smoots, instead of the usual 6' increments, and the equivalent markings were painted on the bridge's other walkway without dragging and dropping the then middle aged Smoot once again.

"Ollie" graduated MIT in 1962, and then got a law degree at Georgetown. He made a presentation to the House Science Committee's Subcommittee on Technology on March 20, 2000, entitled “The Role of Technical Standards in Today's Society and in the Future". He was Chairman of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) from 2001 to 2002 and President of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) from 2003 to 2004.

He returned to MIT on October 4, 2008 for a 50th anniversary celebration, including the installation of a plaque on the bridge, at which time Oliver R. Smoot, Jr. was also presented with an official unit of measurement: a 5'7" smoot stick.

Smoot joined in the annual commemoration of the measurement in 2007. This time as a painter.  (Photo courtesy of MIT's student newspaper, 'The Tech.')

How Do You Measure A Year?

Seasons of Love - from the movie "Rent" (2005), the film version of the Pulitzer and Tony Award winning musical about Bohemians in the East Village of New York City struggling with life, love and AIDS, and the impacts they have on America.

Note: As yet, love has not been accepted as a scientific standard of measurement, nor is it within generally accepted accounting principles.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Steffen Schackinger - City Lights

Artist: Danish guitarist, Steffen Schackinger
Title: City Lights
Album: ElectriGuitartistry
Year: 2008

Getting a New(s) Watchdog

Can local pro-am watchdog news websites pick up the slack if/when newspapers fold?

Audio: APM's Future Tense, April 27th. Host: Jon Gordon.

New Media is Now Just "Media"

KUOW, Seattle, discussed "Your Brain on New Media" on its Weekday show April 20th.

Howard Finberg, director of interactive learning at The Poynter Institute for Media Studies and manager of the News University - a project that offers online training in New Media to journalists around the globe, told host Steve Scher: "Media is no longer a one-way message to a passive audience."

Hanson Hosein, director of the University of Washington's Master of Communication in Digital Media, explained how the old established media (newspapers, radio, TV, et al) have now become "legacy media" and that what we called "new media" is now the new norm, just plain "media".

The entire program is available as a podcast. (Run Time: 54:13)

Game On

Grace For The Cure

They predicted a crowd of 20,000 for the 14th Annual Southern Nevada Race for the Cure. However many actually came, they took more than 80 minutes to pass by the Cheese Factory, which sits along the course for the 5K run & walk, but also has a view that includes the 1-mile fun walk course.

They came in waves. They came in colors designating schools, sororities, their companies or teams formed in honor of loved ones lost, struggling or saved. They came wearing pink... Shirts, ribbons, socks, scarves and even capes in honor of the cause.

They came pulling wagons, pushing strollers and wheelchairs. They came in small clusters or chanting cadences in tight formations:
I want to be a firefighter
I want to go to rookie school
I want to be a firefighter
I must be a crazy fool
The Las Vegas City Fire Department's cadets wore red t-shirts, their instructors blue. A similar platoon from Clark County's Fire Academy came a few minutes later wearing coats and pants from their protective turnout gear.

The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure raises significant funds for the fight against breast cancer, celebrates breast cancer survivors, and honors those who have lost their battle with the disease. They promise 75% of funds raised would stay in Southern Nevada, where budget crises resulted in closure of the public hospital's out-patient chemotherapy clinic, while the other 25% goes toward research.

And while many wore the official t-shirts stenciled with "Race for the Cure," one woman carried a sign asking "Grace for the Cure."

I hope God saw that one, too.

Saving The Internet's Baby Pictures

GeoCities was the Facebook of its time... A place for pioneers making personal sites in an age when the Internet was the new frontier to be settled.

Now it's toast! On April 23rd, Yahoo announced that it would close GeoCities down. The 3 billion dollar acquisition from a decade ago is a casualty of new CEO Carol Bartz’s war against useless assets at the troubled company.

Jason Scott runs, a site devoted to computer history. He's lead organizer for a new group called the Archive Team, which is working to rescue a growing body of endangered Internet content, including the million plus pages that remain on GeoCities.

Audio: APM's Future Tense, Host: Jon Gordon.