March 31, 2006

Coolest Thing On The Internets Of The Day

The kitty and chicken friendship video. Too cute.

Via one of the Beths.

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March 30, 2006

Prayer "Failure" Study Misses The Point

A recently concluded study on the power of prayer supposedly found no evidence that prayer had any effect on the recovery of 1800 heart patients.

In fact, the study found some of the patients who knew they were being prayed for did worse than others who were only told they might be prayed for -- though those who did the study said they could not explain why.

The patients in the study at six U.S. hospitals included 604 who were actually prayed for after being told they might or might not be; another 597 patients who were not prayed for after being told they might or might not be; and a group of 601 who were prayed for and told they would be the subject of such prayer.

. . .

Among the first group -- who were prayed for but only told they might be -- 52 percent had post-surgical complications compared to 51 percent in the second group, the ones who were not prayed for though told they might be. In the third group, who knew they were being prayed for, 59 percent had complications.

. . .

"Intercessory prayer itself had no effect on whether complications occurred (and) patients who were certain that intercessors would pray for them had a higher rate of complications than patients who were uncertain but did receive intercessory prayer," the study said.

I would caution against concluding from this study that prayer is ineffective. Such a conclusion misses a fundamental aspect of our relationship with God.

That is, simply put, God can say "no."

Just because someone does not get what they prayed for, does not mean that the prayer was not answered. It's an obvious point, but one that escapes a surprising number of people ― even many religious people.

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Advice For Political Wagering

Whenever a public figure insists he is not going to resign, take the over.

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Hips Don't Lie

Memo to Katherine McPhee: don't attempt Christina ever again.

Memo to Bucky: You're next. As the MySpace bloggers say: "he can't sing good."

the hips have spoken.

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Literary News

Ultrablognetic, the book. By fellow Cal Bear, longtime blogroll denizen, comic lover, and one of the coolest practitioners of the art of free association: Alfred Pennyworth (or whatever name he's going by these days). Congratulations dude.

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March 29, 2006

Pirate Call

My plate's too full for this, but some of you youngsters out there might think about joining Bluto's Pirate Fleet. It sounds like a fun way to win friends and influence people. Aaarr!

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Sculpted Brittany

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Brittany related news:

A controversial sculpture of Britney Spears – naked, life-sized and crouching as she is giving birth on a bearskin rug – is due to go on display April 7 at Brooklyn's Capla Kesting Fine Art gallery as part of a pro-life exhibition.

"I admire her. This is an idealized figure," the Connecticut-based artist, Daniel Edwards, tells the Associated Press – also admitting that he's never met or even spoken to his 24-year-old subject.

"Everyone is coming at me with anger and venom, but I depicted her as she has depicted herself – seductively," says Edwards. "Suddenly, she's a mom."

The sculpture is to be part of a pro-life exhibit, so they say:
"This is a new take on pro-life," said Edwards, whose life-size sculpture will appear at the gallery next to a display case filled with pro-life materials. "Pro-lifers normally promote bloody images of abortion. This is the image of birth." (Actually it seems more like an image of conception.)

The sculpture shows Brit naked and pregnant, crouching face-down on a bear rug as the baby's head appears at her opposite end.When some bloggers heard about the exhibit, the gallery received about 3,000 e-mails from around the world, split between pro-choice and pro-life opinions.

Sounds disturbing. Sometimes pop culture is just too fucking weird for me to even comment.

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Useless Jelly Belly Blogging

My first Easter themed post of the season.

The thing about eating from a bag of assorted jelly bellies is that there's no way to identify the various flavors, except by trusting your mouth.

Sometimes I'll just grab a bunch and then say I'm making my own flavor out of the combinations. But that usually results in something that consistently resembles sugary mud. Assuming I know what mud tastes like, which I don't.

Eating them one by one is like a flavor quiz.

Here's one that tastes like peanuts. Another that tastes like balsamic vinegar. Another that tastes like maple syrup.

This is fun.

Here's a yellow one. I expect lemon but it turns out to be banana. Cool.

Black should always be licorice. It is.

Here's a deep red one. It looks like a kidney bean. Ouch. It is a kidney bean. Who put that in there?

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Wednesday Is Poetry Day

Any poem that contains the following bit of wisdom is probably worth a look:


. . . you, Hangover,
are the opposite of Orgasm. Certainly
you go on too long and in your grip
one thinks, How to have you never again?


From "Ode To Hangover," by Dean Young, which you can find at Slate.com. It's supposed to have a link whereby you can listen to the author reading it, but the link don't work on my machine.

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March 28, 2006

Coolest Thing On The Internets Of The Day

Anyone who tries this, let me know if it works.

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Go Fish

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BUSH FAILS TO NAME LIBERAL TO REPLACE CARD

In yet another striking display of tone-deafness, President Bush ignored critics of his administration by *gasp* failing to name a liberal as his new chief of staff.

Developing . . .

Update: A despondent David Gergen was seen crying in his beer at a Georgetown pub, muttering something about "number six."

Developing . . .


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The Law Of Diminishing Returns Rears Its Ugly Head

Yet another ill-advised Oceans sequel.

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March 27, 2006

Guillermo Fariñas

Please find out about Cuban dissident Guillermo Fariñas and why he's on a hunger strike for what you and I take for granted. Start at The Cotillion and Fausta's Blog.

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The First Annual AJFF: Goldie Hawn, Part Six

I was going to review Seems Like Old Times next, but I have to skip back to the beginning after finally seeing Goldie's first movie ever.

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The One And Only, Genuine, Original Family Band, 1968

bandposter.jpgThis was a pleasant surprise. I really liked this movie, though I didn't think I would. The concept couldn't sound more boring, even to a history buff like myself. It's set during the contentious presidential election of 1888, between Democratic incumbent Grover Cleveland and Republican challenger Benjamin Harrison. Not exactly a formula for box office bonanzae, even back in 1968. I'd hate to have been the one pitching this one to Disney:

Mr. Disney: Hmm. I don't know. Who did you have in mind to play the lead?

Pitcher: Well, John Davidson's available, and Walt Brennan's signed on.

Mr. Disney: Uhhh. Who else?

Pitcher: And Buddy Ebsen.

Mr. Disney: Errr. The Beverly Hillbillies guy? Is that all? I don't know.

Pitcher: Oh... and uh, I think we can get Kurt Russell.

Mr. Disney: Russell? Why the hell didn't you say so?! That kid's gold! When can you start production?

Originally intended as a two part tv movie, TOAOGOFB was based on the exploits of some real life historical figures, the Bower family of South Dakota.
The Bowers became quite popular in the area because they had they own family band. . . . At the time, there was only one brass band west of the Missouri River, the military band attached to the Seventh Regiment, then stationed in Fort Meade. The military band was scheduled to perform at [a] celebration. Calvin [Bower] went to extreme measures and was successful to persuade the committee to also book his Family Band to play for the occasion.

. . . When the chairman called for music, the leader of the Fort Meade Band responded. After the speaker spoke, the chairman hardly rose when the Bower Band began to play without permission. The Bowers took the crowd by surprise and there was much clapping and shouting. It took the breath right out of the Fort Meade band and they folded up their music racks and left the platform. This was the introduction of the Family Band to the Black Hills.

In the movie, the fictional Bowers are divided along party lines with Grandpa (Walt Brennan, who else?) a cantankerous Democrat, and his son (Buddy Ebsen) a quiet Republican. Brennan's granddaughter gets involved with a dashing Republican newspaperman (John Davidson). He convinces the whole family to move to the Dakota territory, hoping they'll add to the solid Republican majority.

Davidson and the local Republicans are working to get Dakota admitted to the Union as two separate states, in order to shift the balance of power in congress with the addition of four Republican senators.* Davidson gets a shock when he finds Walt Brennan in the schoolhouse, doing a sort of 19th Century Jay Bennish act for the kids.

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The eerie topicality of TOAOGOFB is one of the delights of this movie. The musical numbers are horribly bad** (with the notable exception of the finale, which is Goldie's only scene), but I laughed out loud at the unexpected parallels between 1888 politics and today.

Besides the issue of overtly political schoolteachers, the movie touches on political demagoguery, freedom of speech and dissent, and even stolen elections. As you all should know (I'm not ruining anything for you) Benjamin Harrison won the 1888 election despite losing the popular vote by over 90,000. During the movie's election night party scene, the Democrats' elation turns to violence when they find out that their man lost after the electoral votes were tallied. A riot starts and the meeting hall gets trashed. It only stops when the One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band plays "My Country 'Tis Of Thee" to calm the crowd down.

After the brawl, Buddy Ebsen gets up to address the partisans with words that are appropriate whether the date be 1888, 1968 or even 2006:

All of us here together can build the greatest united country in the whole bloomin' world if we'll just remember one thing. There's a time to stand up and fight for what you believe in, and there is a time to join hands and work together, or all the fighting doesn't mean a thing.
The teenaged Kurt Russell made the most of his small part. Despite the fact that he hated dancing, Kurt acquited himself well during the musical numbers. Goldie's one-line part featured some pretty good dancing, as well as her trademark smile. The big scene involves a sort of dance-duel between Lesley Ann Warren and John Davidson as they try to make each other jealous by do-si-do-ing with other partners. Goldie is Davidson's "other partner."

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There are no scenes between Goldie and Kurt; and their off screen romance developed many years later. Goldie's memoir, A Lotus Grows In The Mud, includes the story of how she met Kurt the second time, during the casting of 1984's Swing Shift. Goldie apparently didn't even recognize Kurt, and although he remembered Goldie, Kurt had a big crush on Lesley Ann Warren at the time. Funny how the two of them were in the same movie without realizing that they were soulmates until sixteen years later!

I totally recommend TOAOGOFB, but only if you are prepared for the odd combination of Gilded Age politics and good old fashioned Disney schmaltz. I give it 3½ stars.
_______________

* As you all know, in 1888, Senators were elected by the state legislatures.

** I can't emphasize enough how bad the songs are. The libretto includes a rousing tribute to Grover Cleveland, "Let's Put It Over With Grover," (don't rock the boat/ give him your vote...) and a similarly pukeworthy paean to Benjamin Harrison, titled simply "Oh Benjamin Harrison," (he's far beyond comparison...). However, the final dance number, "West O' The Wide Missouri," is well choreographed and the song is pretty catchy. Also, 60 year old Buddy Ebsen showed he could still do a nice soft shoe routine.

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March 26, 2006

Just To Show You How Completely Fucked My Bracket Is

My percentage of picks in Six Meat Buffet's Tournament Challenge is 17%. Abysmal, but I did worse in my own fantasy baseball league last year.

Here's how my Oakland regional picks turned out:

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What gets me is how someone like Preston can hit 96.8% of his picks. He oughta change his name to Prestondigitator. Or the current leader, Duane, with an astonishing 98.5% score. How do you do that without a crystal ball?

I guess it helps if you know something about college hoops.

But I bet I can accessorize better than both of 'em. I know a little something about hoop earrings, you see.

Anyways, the last two spots in the Final Four will be filled tonight. I say it will be Villanova (whom i've picked to win it all) and UConn. I saw yesterday's games and LSU looked damn strong. LSU and 'Nova in the final? What do you think?

Update: George Mason? I thought he died in season two?

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First Woman Osprey Pilot

Congratulations to Captain Elizabeth A. Okoreeh-Baah, USMC. She's the first woman to take on the very tricky V-22 Osprey aircraft. Good luck to her. She sounds like she has the right stuff.

Captain Elizabeth A. Okoreeh-Baah spent the first five and a half years of her career in the Marine Corps as a CH-46E “Sea Knight” pilot, but when Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron-263 began transitioning to the Osprey Program while she was stationed there, she became one of the first female pilots to begin training on the controls of the tiltrotor aircraft.

. . .

“She’s going to go a long way because she never quits. She can succeed at anything she puts her mind to,” said Okoreeh-Baah’s father, Isaac K. Okoreeh-Baah Sr., a native of Ghana, North Africa. “She gets that from me, I think.”

The controversial Osprey is supposed to take off like a helicopter and then fly like an airplane by tilting its huge propellers forward.

Here's some cool video of the Osprey in action.

Before the Osprey, there was always a trade off between fixed wing aircraft and helicopters. The spinning blades of a helicopter make it inherently slower than a regular airplane, with a shorter range and a lower top altitude. But fixed wings need a runway. The Osprey gives you get the best of both worlds: the speed, range and ceiling of an airplane, plus the vertical take-off and hovering capability of a helicopter. The V-22 is designed to replace the big dual rotor CH-46 Sea Knight, which has been around since 1960.

The Osprey is controversial because the military spent a lot of money on it and then it started crashing. A lot. There was a time when the DoD wanted to cancel the program. All I know is when I tried flying my dad's computer game Osprey, I kept crashing it. So I've not always been a fan of the plane (or helicopter, or whatever).

The 1986 estimated cost of a single V-22 was about $24 million with a projected 923 to be built. The first Bush administration cancelled the project in April 1989, by which time the cost of a single craft was estimated at $35 million. However, Congress continued to allocate funding for the program in a November 1989 authorization. Throughout Secretary of Defense Richard B. Cheney’s tenure, he and Congress wrestled over the question of the V-22 as he felt the project would cost more than the amount appropriated. Eventually he relented, proposing that $1.5 billion be spent in fiscal years 1992 and 1993 to develop the project. The arrival of the Clinton administration into the White House in 1992 provided new support for the program.

Osprey crashes have resulted in 30 deaths. No one died in a June 11, 1991, Osprey crash, but a crash July 20, 1992, in Virginia killed three Marines and four civilians. The Osprey was grounded for 11 months after this crash. A crash in Arizona April 8, 2000, killed 19 Marines, grounding the aircraft for two months. Another crash in North Carolina Dec. 11 of the same year killed four Marines. After the December crash, the Osprey was grounded until May 29, 2002.

One of the crashes was caused by something called "vortex ring state," which happens when a helicopter descends through its own air turbulence. To correct this, Osprey pilots are supposed to descend slowly, although some say that Ospreys should be able to descend faster than conventional helicopters.

Supposedly all the bugs have been worked out. So I'll keep my fingers crossed, and hope that the Osprey lives up to its promise.

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Coolest Thing On The Internets Of The Day

Okay Victor, have you seen this yet?

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March 25, 2006

Coolest Thing On The Internets Of The Day

Two words: viking kitties.

Via Beth.

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Page Two Of Dick Cheney's List

That list of items that Vice President Dick Cheney requires when he visits a hotel is kind of interesting. But not nearly as interesting as what was on page two of the list, which was not given to The Smoking Gun.

However, the crack team of investigators here at annika's journal has obtained the top secret second page of Dick Cheney's list, which can now be revealed exclusively for you.

more...

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This Is How They Get Ya

I saw no reason to want a video Ipod, until I discovered that there is a "Strong Bad Email" video podcast. Now I must have one.

Dammit!

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