Saturday, May 16, 2009

Who's In and Out

Donald Trump is the current owner of the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants. He bought them in 1996, and sold part interest to NBC in return for TV contract in 2002.

Despite same-sex marriage furor, racy photos, apparent breach of contract... Trump to Miss California: ‘You’re not fired’

Trump's verdict did not stop the debate:

Shanna Lynn Moakler (born March 28, 1975) is an American model, actor, reality television subject and former beauty queen. She was Miss New York USA then Miss USA in 1995 (before Trump's ownership.) . Later she was appeared as Playmate of the Month in Playboy magazine's December 2001 issue.

Moakler served as co-director for the Miss California USA pageant organization until May 13th, 2009.

E Network: Moakler - Couldn't Stand Miss California's "Lies".
AP: Shanna Moakler quits as Miss California USA director.

NPR's Scott Simon explores the marital rights dispute in The Difference Between Listening And Hearing, an opinion piece.

Miss California's capacity to tell the truth and accept responsibility are still open to question... There's a difference between "Model" and potential "Role Model" far beyond a four letter word.

First Celebrity Swine Flu Casualty

Kermit, incorrigible pig kisser.

Via Contributor: Ken Morgan

Santa Barbara Fire Casualties

On May 12th, The Santa Barbara Daily Sound reported ironic casualties of the Jesusita Fire that ravaged Santa Barbara last week... 30 goats... 30 brush-eating goats.

"The goats were part of a herd of 175, the majority of which were safely trucked out of the canyon last Tuesday, shortly after the blaze erupted," reported staff writer Colby Frazier.

The brush-eating goats were owned by Brush Goats 4 Hire. They were often rented out to provide eco-friendly help those in need of brush thinning, fuel load reduction, and weed abatement.

It's an idea that's catching on. The same week the fire broke out in Santa Barbara, Google hired a herd of 200 goats to eat the four-foot-tall brush that had grown up around the company's sprawling campus (which is frequently called the "Googleplex"). The brush was deemed a fire hazard, and with fierce wildfires raging in other parts of the state, the company decided to bring in lawn mowers that needed no gasoline.

Within a few days, the goats had reduced the brush to stubble.

Article: Washington Post, May 11th.


Al JarreauAl Jazeera

We're truly sorry for your confusion.

Friday, May 15, 2009

'Fool's Gold': Banks As Bad Guys

Journalist Gillian Tett, a PhD in social anthropology from Cambridge University, warned about the problems in the financial industry long before many of her colleagues, who, in her words, "had gone native," adopting the mindset of those they covered.

In her new book, Fool's Gold, Tett examines the global economic meltdown and the role J.P. Morgan played in creating and marketing risky and complex financial products.

A reporter with Financial Times since 1993, and currently serving as an assistant editor, in March 2009 she was named Journalist of the Year at the British Press Awards. In 2007 she was awarded the Wincott prize, the premier British award for financial journalism, for her capital markets coverage. She was named British Business Journalist of the Year in 2008.

Gillian TettNPR - Fresh Air Interview, May 15th, with Terry Gross. (Time = 38:03).

Financial Times extract 1.
Financial Times extract 2.
Fool's Gold book excerpt at NPR.

Klingon Lanuage Lesson

Klingon Star Fleet Lieutenant Worf, Son of Mogh, as Security Chief of the Enterprise-D in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation.'The newest Star Trek movie is a box office hit despite one notable absence: Klingons.

The long time villains of early Star Trek lore speak their own language, created by U.C. Berkeley educated linguist Marc Okrand, who discusses the process of inventing an alien language for Hollywood, and the pitfalls of doing so for the hyper-vigilant audience of dedicated "Trekkers." (8:16)

Audio: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now, May 14th. Host: Robin Young.

Handy Technique

CPR symbol.Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is sometimes responsible for the reluctance of would-be saviors to perform CPR on heart attack victims.

Now the state of Arizona is taking the problem in hand by promoting an alternative form of the lifesaving technique that skips steps but still saves more lives.

Audio: NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday May 10th.

Official Somali Pirate Shoes?


These Chuck Taylor high-tops, were offered for sale by Classic Sport Shoes for, as part of the promotional campaign for Jackass: Number Two (2006)... Rated 'R' for extremely dangerous stunts throughout, sexual content, nudity and language... All the basic crude groups.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Truth Revealed

Ever wonder what they're wearing under the desk or out of the shot?

One of the latest from the "What Happens Here, Stats Here" people at R&R Partners, recently renewed as the advertising agency for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority... In typical LV Politburo style: unanimously, with no competitive bidding.

One Verse Wonder

The lyrical brevity of Fleetwood Mac's "Bare Trees (featured yesterday) brought to mind the song that introduced the world to Paul Carrack, pop music's ultimate journeyman vocalist.

Over the course of his lengthy career his finest work often came at the expense of his own identity as a performer while a member of Ace, Squeeze or Mike + the Mechanics. Few, if any, can get as much mileage out of a minimal lyric.

Song: How Long
By: Ace
Album: Five A Side
Year: 1974

Too Bad About The Hooker

Elizabeth Warren is the the chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel created to oversee the U.S. banking bailout, formally known as the Troubled Assets Relief Program. She appeared on May 11th's Charlie Rose Show. (22 minutes)

Thumbs Down

Ten states and the District of Columbia ban drivers from sending text messages, dozens more are considering bans. And there have been recent public transit accidents involving texting in Boston and Los Angeles - so why do people still continue the behavior? Dr. Michael Siegel, a Professor of of Behavioral and Social Science at the Boston University School of Public Health, blames it on people experiencing “optimistic bias,” They think accidents won’t happen to them despite risky behavior.

Audio: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now May 13th. Host: Robin Young.

Meanwhile LG, sponsors of previous Canadian Texting Championships, have brought the contest to the US with a $ 50,000 prize, on MTV and advertising heavily.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

No Escaping Commercials

TIVO pioneered the digital video recorder (DVR), which allows people to easily record shows and skip over commercials during playback. But now TIVO is helping to pioneer a way to force people to watch commercials - by wedging them into the fast-forward mode of the DVR. Here & Now Media Analyst John Carroll explains this is one of many ways that television executives are looking to raise ad dollars.

Audio: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now, May 11th. Host: Robin Young.

George Lucas Unhappy About 'Star Trek' Success

And now for something completely different...

Happy Birthday DK

Danny KirwanFrom the band's inception through its first seven years, no incarnation of Fleetwood Mac lasted as long as two years. Later versions lasted longer but still displayed a need for serious psychological counselling.

Casual listeners of "Classic Rock" radio could easily mistake the band's debut as their self titled album in 1975, introducing the era of Lindsey Buckingham & Stevie Nicks and their first wide acceptance in pop.

Other's may remember the early days when Peter Green headlined a line-up of blues-rockers: the era of Black Magic Woman, Oh Well and Green Manalishi.

But in between were 7 other albums, including three in which Danny Kirwan (the youngest member) served as the principal guitarist, singer, songwriter and agent of change:

1970's transitional four-piece lineup on Kiln House,
1971's Future Games in which the band's softer, more adult, side began to emerge,
1972's Bare Trees -- the only one of the three to go platinum, and cited by as the band's first album of consistently great songwriting.

It was Danny Kirwan, himself hired by bluesman Peter Green at age 17, who recruited Christine Perfect (later McVie) after playing guitar on her self-titled solo album. And during this time of leading the band, 1970 - 1972, he was only 20 - 22.

Today Danny Kirwan, the unsung hero who kept Fleetwood Mac alive, turns 59.

Song: Bare Trees
By: Fleetwood Mac
Album: Bare Trees
Year: 1972

The Marx Brothers

Zeppo, Groucho, Chico, Harpo, Richard & Karl.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Brain Surgery In Space

The mission:

The launch:

The backup: Endeavour ready for rescue mission.

The idea of a standby rescue spacecraft grew out of the 2003 Columbia disaster, in which that shuttle disintegrated over Texas during re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere. That happened because of damage sustained during launch. But in Hubble's orbit, NASA has estimated there's also a 1-in-221 chance the shuttle could be struck and crippled by orbiting space debris.

All the previous missions since Columbia have gone to the International Space Station, where the crew of a damaged shuttle could take refuge there for months if need be until another shuttle was readied to retrieve them.

Article: USA Today, May 11th.

End of Daze

Gargoyles watch as Paris is desttroyed.
A new documentary called “Waiting for Armageddon” depicts the thinking of American evangelical Christians who see the end of days approaching in the Middle East, requiring destruction of one of Islam's holiest sites, blind support of Israeli resistance to peace with Palestinians (but ultimately using Jews as "placeholders"), and the necessity of provoking World War.

Here & Now's Robin Young speaks with filmmaker Franco Sacchi about what these beliefs are, and their impact on US policy.

Audio: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now. Host: Robin Young.

Progress, not Perfection

Any Southern Californian knows most urban adjacent wildfires have a human cause, and won't end without a break in the weather. Both these truths apply to Santa Barbara.

Weather is fickle along the coast in late Spring. Moisture laden cloudy conditions locals call "May Gray" and "June Gloom" can easily revert to the heat and "sundowner winds" that marked the start of the blaze. Fire crews watch the sleeping giant.

Today's forecast: Sunny, high 67, increasing northerly winds in late afternoon & evening.

KEYT 3, Santa Barbara (Latest Update)

The Marriage-Go-Round

Marriage, Cohabitation, and Kids

Take two children, one growing up with married parents in the United States, and one growing up with unmarried parents in Sweden; which child has the higher likelihood of seeing his parents’ relationship break up? Answer: the American kid, because children living with married parents in the United States have a higher probability of experiencing a breakup than do children living with unmarried parents in Sweden. That’s how high our breakup rates are.

Sociologist Andrew Cherlin has a new book called The Marriage-Go-Round. And yet despite the inherent instability our politicians continue to promote the formal legal institution of marriage, rather than addressing family life as it is lived.

The publisher offers an interview of Cherlin here.

Suggested by: New York Times - Freakonomics blog.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Another Mother from a Brother

Contributor Dan McGrath offered this additional track on our Mother's Day theme from the late Johnny "Guitar" Watson, one of the hottest West Coast blues guitarists of the 50's who adopted an image of what called a "pimp-styled funkster" in the 1970's. It's that 70's funk sensibilty that permeates this version of the song which he first recorded for the 1958 album "Gangster of Love."

A Real Mother for Ya (1977)

Title: A Real Mother for Ya
By: Johnny "Guitar" Watson
Album: A Real Mother for Ya
Year: 1977

Start Strong & Prosper

'Star Trek' has galactic near $77 million opening*.

Chris Pine, center, and John Cho, right, are shown in a scene from 'Star Trek.'(Paramount Pictures - 2009)
"Star Trek" went where none of its 10 predecessors went before: straight to the top.

Even with ticket price inflation, it's an impressive figure and more than double the previous record opening weekend which was $30.7 million for 1996's "Star Trek: First Contact."

Not bad for a TV series cancelled 40 years ago for poor ratings. But the blockbuster debut does reflect all the hype, buzz and overwhelmingly strong reviews the reboot exploring the back stories of Spock, Capt. Kirk and the rest of the Enterprise crew garnered.

*Weekend Box Office tally from the Hollywood Reporter, Monday 5/11 @ 5 AM ET.

Whatever Happened To...

The cast of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog?

Billy/Dr. Horrible plays Barney on "How I Met Your Mother."

Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion) stars in the title role of "Castle."

Penny (Felicia Day) apparently took a job at Sears:

Ram Tough

That's one tough truck... And one major DUI arrest.

In Vernon, British Columbia, Canada, a hard core drinker hit a left turn signal and sheared off the light post at the base. He then kept driving on about 2 more miles where police snapped this picture in the parking lot of Squires Four Pub, where the driver stopped for more beer!

The truck was towed about 2.5 miles to the Vernon towing yard, with the light still pinched between the two tow hooks and the bumper bent around it. It took several good hard pulls with a backhoe to get the pole free.

Cheese Factory contributor: Dan McGrath

Til The Rivers All Run Dry

Seventy-five percent of the world's fresh water is stored in glaciers, but scientists predict climate change will cause some of the world's largest glaciers to completely melt by 2030. What effect will this have on our daily lives? With global warming falling low on a national list of American concerns, it's time to take a deeper look at what could be a global calamity in the making.

The banks of the depleted Indus River in Pakistan. Political instability and escalating violence make Pakistan a US foreign policy priority. But there's another looming crisis in the country. Pakistan is fast running out of water and much of what IS available is making people sick.

The World's Laura Lynch has the story in two parts.

On Thin Ice is a special one-hour edition of NOW on PBS.

David Brancaccio and environmentalist Conrad Anker trek to India's Gangotri Glacier in the Himalayan Mountains, source of the Ganges River, and Montana's Glacier National Park to see the striking effects of global warming closer to home and learn how melting glaciers across the globe can have a direct impact on global food prices.

In Bolivia, the Uru Chipaya have lived on high salt plains for 4,000 years. They use river water to flush salt out of the soil so they can farm. But now the river is drying up.

The BBC's Andres Schipani visited Bolivia's water people, thought to be the oldest surviving culture in South America.

Miniatur Wunderland

The world's largest train set.

The "Miniatur Wunderland" model railroad in Hamburg Germany covers 16,146 square feet of space with more than 10,000 train cars running around its 6.8 miles of HO scale track. Construction started in 2000, and is still underway, with a tiny airport due for completion by the end of 2009. And there are plans to double to layout by 2014.

More videos of "Miniatur Wunderland."

Thanks to Cheese Factory Contributor Ken Morgan.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Only Emotion Away

My family was hit hard last year. Within a period of just a few months we lost my mother, my brother's wife's mother and my late sister's husband's mother.

Only one blood relation for me... But my family hasn't grown by bloodlines alone. It's not as much a tree as a family thicket, entangled in vines of events, experiences and emotional ties beyond its formal branches.

This is the first Mother's Day we mark without Ruth, Beth and Johnnie, who remain alive in or hearts, only emotion away.

Artist: Paul Simon
Title: Mother and Child Reunion
Album: Paul Simon
Year: 1972

One Scary Mother

Edward Teller in 1958 as Director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory I once had an exclusive interview with Edward Teller, the Hungarian born theoretical physicist often referred to as "father of the hydrogen bomb."

He denied paternity. In fact he wouldn't talk to me at all if I was going to call him the father of anything.

I kept my promise. Playing interview excerpts on the air, I introduced him as the hydrogen bomb's mother. And one scary mother, too.

You see, it was really Enrico Fermi who suggested a weapon based on nuclear fission could be used to set off an even larger nuclear fusion reaction. He's the Dad. Teller is Mom, because Fermi's seed took root in him, and he nurtured it to life after the Soviets' fission bomb test.

And Teller, known both for his scientific ability and his difficult personality, is considered one of the inspirations for the character Dr. Strangelove in the 1964 movie of the same name.

Like I said, Edward Teller was one scary mother.

Mothers of Invention Song Review by François Couture:

"My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama" may be the best summation of what the original Mothers of Invention were all about... Frank Zappa packed an infectious rock song (with) devious vocals and a frenetic instrumental bridge with tons of overdubs... (First released as) the B-side to the 1970 single "WPLJ," (it also) appeared on the LP Weasels Ripped My Flesh later the same year.

Artist: Frak Zappa
Title: My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama
Album: Weasels Ripped My Flesh
Year: 1970

Mother Of Us All

'Eve' as depicted in course outline brochure at the University of Minnesota - DuluthMitochondrial DNA, which we get exclusively from our mothers and mutates at a constant rate, allows science to trace the entirety of humanity back to a single female in the Great Rift Valley of Africa about 150,000 years ago.

"Mitochondrial "Eve."

I went looking for the Biblical "Eve" on Wikipedia and found on the eve of Mother's Day, not only had a prankster edited the article... Eve had undergone a sex change:
Genesis tells the story of Adam and Steve in chapters 1, 2 and 3, with some additional elements in chapters 4 and 5:

In Genesis 1 God creates humans "male and fish" in His image, and gives them dominion over the living things He has created, and commands them to "be fruitful and multiply." In so doing, he caused the first gay couple to procreate with each other, creating such beasts as John Howard and the Spice Girls.
Although, over time, a wiki will arrive at collective wisdom, any given viewing may show the work of a single wise ass.