Wednesday, May 25, 2011

End of the world is actually October 21

No, you weren't Left Behind. The end of the world is actually set for October 21, Family Radio's Harold Camping said on Monday. Camping insists he's always had the right date for the world's end, but was mistaken about the build-up to the final moment. From CNN:

"We've always said October 21 was the day," Camping said during his show. "The only thing we didn't understand was the spirituality of May 21. We're seeing this as a spiritual thing happening rather than a physical thing happening. The timing, the structure, the proofs, none of that has changed at all."

However, Camping said his group would not be mounting another advertising push. In the months leading up to May 21, Family Radio billboards popped up across the country, warning that the end was near.

"We're not going to be passing out tracts," Camping said. "We're not going to put up any more billboards. We're not going to be advertising in any way. The world has been warned. We did our little share and the media picked it up. But now the world has been told, it's under judgment."

"Preacher now says end of the world will happen in 5 months"

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Former Kiss Guitarist Arrested For Domestic Violence

Former Kiss guitarist Vinnie Vincent was arrested on Saturday in Tennessee for allegedly assaulting his wife and keeping the corpses of four dogs in sealed containers at his home Authorities investigated Vincent's home after his wife Diane Cusano showed up at a Rutherford County Sheriff's office reeking of booze and...

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Laughing gas for ladies in labor


Apparently, nitrous oxide—the stuff they give you at the dentist—is a safe anesthetic to use on women who are giving birth. Pretty surprising to this American. I've always generally had the impression that gas was dangerous for pregnant ladies—in fact, I've had dentists who wouldn't let pregnant nurses administer nitrous to me. But the case made in this Slate article by Libby Copeland sounds well-supported by evidence. Even more interesting, none of this is likely to raise eyebrows in Europe, where lots of women have used nitrous during labor for decades.

So why isn't this normal in America? From the sounds of things, it's a combination of a difference in mid-century medical culture, and some really bad timing.

The gas was first used on laboring moms in the 1880s and came into more widespread use in the 1930s, when a series of technical advances in Great Britain made it easier for laboring women to self-administer through a mask. Nitrous is still used widely in other countries' delivery rooms: According to data parsed by nurse-midwife and former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention epidemiologist Judith Rooks, well over half of laboring women sampled in the United Kingdom use nitrous oxide today. In other places, including Finland and the Canadian province of British Columbia, close to half of women use it.

Why don't we have it here? As the Associated Press has reported, only a handful of American hospital delivery rooms still offer nitrous to laboring women. It was more widely available in this country from the '30s through the '50s, says pediatrician Mark Sloan, author of Birth Day, but several factors blunted its popularity. For some reason, Sloan says, the idea of women self-administering nitrous oxide didn't catch on here the way it did in England, where midwives started towing nitrous around with them to home births. In the United States, by contrast, hospital deliveries were the norm, and doctors and nurses were told to deliver nitrous by holding a mask over a laboring woman's face with each contraction. When, in the '50s and '60s two rival inhalational anesthetics came along, both of them less time-consuming to administer, they elbowed nitrous oxide out of the way. It later turned out these rivals were dangerous, but just when nitrous might have been poised to make a comeback, the epidural arrived on the scene.

Copeland points out that, unlike an epidural, nitrous doesn't so much eliminate pain as make you not really care that pain is happening. That rings true for me. Personally, I credit nitrous with getting me over a paralyzing fear of needles. Back in junior high, I once panicked and tried to run during an MMR booster, and nearly got the needle broken off in my arm. But in college, when I faced my first cavities, my then-dentist suggested nitrous. I still felt the shot. But I didn't feel the terror, and the nitrous made the pain of the shot seem like not such a big deal. Today, when I get a cavity, I don't even use the gas any more. I'm still probably more anxious about shots than the average person, but the gas really helped me break down the mental block I had, so I can actually get the medical treatment I need now.

I doubt shots are really a good metaphor for the pain of childbirth, but the pain of childbirth certainly is scary to a lot of women. If you don't think you want an epidural, but do want something to take the edge off, nitrous does sound like it could be a nice third option—somewhere between toughing it out and using effective painkillers that have the unfortunate side-effect of preventing you from walking around or peeing on your own. Women are different, and have different needs. It would be nice if they had more than two ways to deal with labor pain.

Image: Nitrogen day, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from recphoto's photostream. This is NOT how doctors administer nitrous to pregnant women.

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Scenes from Los Angeles's teacher-librarian witch-hunt

Bfarn sez, "I don't know if you've been following the Los Angeles Unified School District's witch hunt, but they've been trying to lay off their entire staff of librarians. They've been conducting McCarthy-esque trials, forcing teacher-librarians to defend both their personal worth and their district-defined credentials. One brave teacher has been blogging about the experience (as retweeted by Neil Gaiman!) and was singled out by LAUSD lawyers for her efforts. They won, and lost their best teacher in the process."
After an hour of testimony and an hour lunch break, I returned to the stand feeling pretty good. I had answered well and was confident that I would continue to do so. That was until my entire personal blog, 90 pages of posts dating back to 2007, was brought out in printed form and submitted to the court. The lawyers had scoured my musings for ammo, and they found some key posts that did, in fact, make me look like a bit of an idiot for a moment or two. Taken so far out of the context of a school, and particularly my school, some of these posts made it seem as if I was full of it when I testified that I am a competent and active teacher. I wrote about days when I didn't feel much like teaching, or days when I didn't feel that I had taught very much. I wrote about the nature of my job in the library and its clerical demands, and how on some days I felt like I did nothing but shelve books. I wrote about allowing students to watch a movie trailer for Twilight. I wrote about having a slow day in the library. I wrote about times when my teaching practice seemed to be eroding slowly because of the cuts in clerical staff, meetings, etc. I wrote about times when kids worked collaboratively as I stood back and observed, therefore not directly 'teaching'. I wrote about feeling frustrated over the struggle to teach certain content. I wrote honestly and emotionally, reflectively, as one does on one's personal blog.

So, yes, I wrote about times when I wasn't delivering direct instruction, and they claimed this evidence impeached my testimony that I 'constantly' teach. Well, obviously I used the word 'constantly' in the widely accepted usage meaning very frequently (I constantly go to the gym. I constantly go to the movies.) No teacher, not one, constantly teaches in the literal sense of the word. We use the bathroom, we eat lunch, we chat with other teachers, we file papers, we clean the classroom, and yes, we do make personal phone calls sometimes or even, god forbid, answer a personal email between classes.

Message Received (Thanks, Bfarn!)

(Image: mediafront - cropped, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from info_grrl's photostream)

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Hyper Realism in Art: These Are Not Photographs!

Hyper realism in art is mesmerizing. Take a photo in one hand and then take a look at one of these artists' oddly perfect paintings and prepare to be shocked.

Victor Rodriguez

(Images via 10awesome, designyoutrustthecuriousbrainvivalablonda)

The Mexican artist Victor Rodriguez is able to create stunning paintings that are both hyper realistic, and yet still exhibit a very unique styling. Victor's work is known for its high contrast and wackily fun subject matter.

Tom Martin

(Images via plusgivensplusgivens)

Many realistic painters like to show off by featuring food products that look good enough to eat. Few take it as far as Tom Martin, who is able to render a complicated food wrapper perfectly. That pile of candy bags takes on a whole new level of importance when it's hanging on a gallery wall.

Steve Mills

(Images via curatedmag, birminghamfreepress, artfans)

Steve Mills can render a scene like no one else. Everything is perfect, down to the most minute detail of a piece of peeling paint, to the point that no one would believe these were paintings if they weren't told.

Roberto Bernardi

(Images via booooooom, robertobernardi, recave)

Roberto Bernardi loves to play with light and reflections in ways that make one's head spin. Mundane subjects are no longer mildly interesting in his paintings, as they form the crux of a gorgeous canvas.

Pedro Campos

(Images via bumbumbum, hyperrealismbumbumbum)

Pedro Campos' work speaks for itself. Try grabbing a can of Coke and you'll end up busting through an expensive gallery piece. Perfect marble spheres manipulate reflections with uncanny accuracy.

Mark Goings

(Images via apt3designhespegallery, mgoings)

Mark Goings can make a trailer into a piece of art with a few strokes of his brush. Light and shadow interplay beautifully to capture a scene perfectly. The subjects seem to be in three dimensions, as if one could simply walk right up to them.

Eric Christensen

(Images via fineartamerica, judithhalegallery, avartgalleryericchristensenart)

Eric Christensen likes his wine! If a nice merlot sounds good right now, these paintings will be quite a tease. Eric loves to portray bright still life settings straight from the table of a vineyard.

Jason Degraaf

(Images via preview-artmymodernmeteighteensixtysevenhyperrealism)

Jason Degraaf will paint anything that is difficult to portray accurately, almost as if he delights in the difficulty. Splashing water, reflective surfaces, and finely detailed subjects are his bread and butter.


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Doctors use copyright agreements to silence patients

Some doctors are requiring patients to hand over copyright in anything they might write about them as a condition of treatment. Meet Dr. Ken Cirka of Philadephia, made an example of today by Ars Technica, who is seemingly under the impression that such agreements can even bind people who haven't signed it. The twist? The copyright clauses are legally implausible—top review site Yelp says it would ignore any take-down requests based upon one— and Ars suggests doctors are being sold a bill of goods by legal boilerplate factory Medical Justice.

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Trailer for The Wave

The trailer for The Wave reminds me of The Stanford Prison Experiment and Lord of the Flies.
On behalf of Sundance Selects, we're pleased to share the first trailer from the teen political drama THE WAVE! From acclaimed German director Dennis Gansel, the film will release theatrically this Friday in New York City. Additionally, the film will be available nationwide on video-on-demand in more than 50 million homes across the country beginning June 8th.

Germany today. During project week, high school teacher Rainer Wenger (Jürgen Vogel) comes up with an experiment in order to explain to his students how totalitarian governments work. A role-playing game with tragic results begins. Within a few days, what began with harmless notions like discipline and community builds into a real movement: THE WAVE. By the third day, the students start ostracizing and threatening others.

When the conflict finally erupts into violence at an intramural water polo game, the teacher decides to break off the experiment. But it's too late. THE WAVE is out of control...

The Wave

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Cisco Literally Throws Flip Cameras In The Trash?

Flip Death Motherboard Large

"Here Is A Trash Can Full of Flip Cams"…. Scrambler writes -

…While I like to think it's an omen—that mankind is to read this as a cautionary tale not to ever let smartphones determine the trajectory of a badass camera in its own right, it's probably just another one of those charming signs of the times that are meant to remind us all that we're headed straight for Hell, the break cables cut in our Mitsubishi Galant with a spoiler, listening to garbage mainstream pop music…

At least there's this heartbreaking photo of a bunch of Flip cameras in a trash can at Cisco to remind us of the sordid hellscape we call reality looks like.


If You're Going To Kill It, Open Source It!

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More Sony customer info plundered

Another 2,000 customer records were looted from a Sony-related site, this time from the Canadian branch of the online cellphone store it runs with Ericsson. The third such event in the last few weeks was executed using SQL injection, according to a cracker who has already posted half of the records online. CEO and president Howard Stringer once wisecracked about giving up on trying to figure out how many products Sony and its myriad of divisions, subsidiaries and partnerships sells. I guess they have the same situation with security flaws, too.

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Before And After of the Day

Before And After of the Day

Before And After of the Day: Missourian Aaron Fuhrman — a self-taught landscape photographer — has been traveling around Joplin, photographing heartrending panoramic shots of the devastation left in the aftermath of Sunday's tornado.

Fuhrman lined up one of these panoramic photos with a Google Street View screencap of the same intersection to illustrate the comprehension-challenging extent of damage caused by the twister.


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Tornado weather


This photo of the sky over downtown Kansas City, MO, was taken today at around 1:00 pm Central by Gary Lezak, a local television meteorologist.

Meanwhile today, tornadoes plowed through the Oklahoma City area, killing four. (Thankfully, from my perspective, the neighborhood where my Dad lives was spared.) Two more people were killed in the small town of St. John, Kansas. And, while I can't find news confirmation on this yet through Google, I have friends on Facebook saying that Joplin, MO, is in the middle of another tornado warning.

Stay safe, everyone. This is getting ridiculous.

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What Will Come After: the sweet melancholy of the zombie apocalypse

Scott Edelman's short story collection What Will Come After collects the extraordinary zombie stories he's been writing since the mid-1990s, along with one new tale, the eponymous "What Will Come After." Edelman's zombie stories aren't quite what you've come to expect from the recent upsurge in zombie fiction and movies; he's not so much interested in apocalypses as he is in the personal pathos lurking there among the walking dead. Edelman's short on people running away from biters in horror (though there's some of that to be sure), and long on gut-wrenching, heart-wrenching personal stories about people whose lives are upended by the end of the world. Edelman's survivors try to square up zombiism with the dark impulses behind terrorism, with their own lack of self-knowledge, with mercenary instincts, and with selflessness and bravery. And as for Edelman's zombies, they're driven by revenge, honor, loyalty, and the ever-present hunger.

Two of the stories in this collection are extraordinary pastiches: "Tell Me Like You Done Before" remixes Of Mice and Men as a story about selflessness and terror; "A Plague on Both Your Houses" is a modern Shakespearean zombie tale that brings wit and poetry to the star-crossed romance between the children of the mayor of New York and the zombie mayor of New York.

The remainder are all Edelman, and much more haunting than scary. I was lucky enough to get one of the beautiful limited edition hardcovers that PS Publishing did for the collection, but it appears that they're sold out, leaving only the $6.99 ebook edition. Get it for the gore, stay for the sweet melancholy.

What Will Come After

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The most epic Star Wars LEGO diorama you will ever see

The most epic Star Wars LEGO diorama you will ever see

We've seen a ton of awesome LEGO creations over the years, but this 30,000-brick diorama that re-creates the Emperor's arrival from Return of the Jedi is the awesomest yet.

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Joplin, MO

At least 116 people have died in Joplin, Missouri, and the toll is expected to climb. One of the deadliest tornadoes in state history roared through the small Midwestern city on Sunday, leaving a half mile-wide scar and unbelievable destruction.

Touching down at about 5:35 p.m. yesterday, the tornado cut eastward through the city, across an interstate highway, and disappeared into the country. Reported to be a mile wide, the funnel destroyed thirty percent of the city, knocking out wired and cellular communications and forcing authorities to evacuate one of the town's two hospitals. The national guard has been deployed to the city.

Reuters' Mike Stone took these photos in the early hours after the disaster.

A member of the Neodesha fire department looks toward the St. John's Regional Medical Center a day after a tornado hit Joplin, Missouri May 23, 2011. The tornado blew the roof off St. John's where about 180 patients cowered and were eventually evacuated.

A sign lays among the ruins.

A stuffed animal is seen among the personal items scattered in the debris.

Ted Grabenauer sleeps on his front porch the morning after a tornado ripped off the roof of his home when it hit Joplin.

A view of the destruction after a tornado blew the roof off the St. John's Regional Medical Center.

A pool of blood is seen on the floor of a business establishment which was wiped out by the storm.

Scattered debris surrounds a damaged home.

Sheila Donham (R) and volunteers tend to an injured dog as they comb a neighborhood hard hit by the tornado.

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Tsunami photos from Fukushima


Last week, the Japanese utility company Tepco released photos taken of the March 11 tsunami as it struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Out of the two sets of shots, this photo, in particular, caught me cold. From this angle, the wave looks like such a small thing, doesn't it?

Also chilling: A series of shots taken as the tsunami flooded in and then receded from the power plant, sucking away a bunch of cars and leaving behind one totaled SUV. (Among other damage.)

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Here’s the Trailer for “The Muppets”

Yep, after DAYS of waiting for it to pop up somewhere online, we can now bask in the glow of the trailer for The Muppets, which has been posted on YouTube in the guise of a romantic comedy called Green With Envy.  Check it out:

Pretty sneaky, eh?  I wonder how many folks who didn't know about the movie (and believe it or not, there probably were five or six of them in America) took it at face value for those first 50 seconds. Do you think that early stuff will even be in the real movie?

Mad props to Tough Pigs' own (ever-vigilant) Peter Papazoglu for alerting us to this.  And stay tuned to this website for our inevitable exhaustive deconstruction of every single frame as we continue to celebrate this movie thing moving one step closer to reality.


Click here to squeal with excitement on the Tough Pigs forum!

by Ryan Roe –

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NYC outdoor smoking ban begins

Smokers in New York City looking to light up in most public places will not be able to without paying a price after an outdoor citywide smoking ban takes effect Monday.

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Radio Host Says Rapture Actually Coming in October

California preacher Harold Camping said Monday his prophecy that the world would end was off by five months because Judgment Day actually will come on Oct. 21.

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Friday, May 20, 2011

The Legion of Super-Groomsmen (GeekDad POTD)

Superhero Wedding

This is such a great idea I wish I could go back in time to my wedding and do it myself. It's possible my wife would not agree with this sentiment.

Photo used by kind permission of Hoffer Photography.

(Hat tip: Reddit.)

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President Barack Obama Is Selling Official Birth Certificate T-Shirts

Last month, in an effort to quell the ridiculous criticism from the so-called birthers of the right wing, President Barack Obama released the long form version of his birth certificate to prove once and for all that he was indeed born here in the US, making him eligible to be president. As President Obama begins to look toward his reelection campaign, he has authorized the sale of official t-shirts that feature his birth certificate with the phrase Made in the USA. The sale of these shirts will help fund his reelection campaign … and are complete genius, IMHO.

Get your Made in the USA T-shirt

Wear your support for this campaign with an official Made in the USA T-shirt. Donate $25 or more today and we'll send you your limited-edition shirt.

I mean … how awesome is this? While I'm sure that Obama's detractors might not be clamoring to buy these shirts, I'm pretty sure there's a huge contingent of folks out there who might want to own one of these brilliant t-shirts. See, politics can be fun, y'all :)


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Battle At F-Stop Ridge

I'm whupped, so I'm going low brow on this one. Had to laugh. You gear heads are gonna love this.

The Camera Store in Calgary.

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the notebook doodles

are there any doodlers among us? i think you'll enjoy this:

notebook doodles


notebook doodles

notebook doodles

the notebook doodles. flickr. tumblr.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

bOING bOING: free collection from the print zine, 1989-1997

Twenty-three years ago, my wife Carla and I came up with the idea to create bOING bOING, a zine that would cover comic books, cyberpunk science fiction, consciousness technology, curious phenomena, and whatever else surprised and delighted us. That zine, which ran for 15 issues until 1997, evolved into the very website you're reading right now.

The first few issues of Boing Boing had print runs in the low hundreds, and the biggest was 17,500 copies. Today, the blog easily gets that many page views in an hour, so it's safe to say that the vast majority of Boing Boing readers have never read anything that appeared in those early zines. Today we're happy to announce that we've made available a free anthology of some of our favorite interviews from bOING bOING, the zine. You can access it for free at Microsoft's Office Web Apps SkyDrive, whose sponsorship has made this project possible.

The anthology, called bOING bOING: History of the Future! is a collection of interviews with and articles by some of our favorite writers and thinkers - Robert Anton Wilson, Rudy Rucker, William Gibson, Kevin Kelly, Marc Laidlaw, and Bruce Sterling.

In the coming weeks, we'll be running posts about the articles included in the bOING bOING: History of the Future anthology. The first piece in the new issue is an interview with author William Gibson, whose novel Neuromancer introduced me to the fantastic cyberpunk science fiction genre.

 1373 1075687938 00B97739C2 When I printed the first issue of Boing Boing in 1989, I located William Gibson's mailing address and sent him a copy. He wrote back with a complimentary letter, and I added him to the subscription list. I always appreciated receiving his occasional postcards, and reading interviews with him in other magazines where he mentioned bOING bOING as a zine he enjoyed.

bOING bOING's interview with William Gibson ran in bOING bOING #12 (cover at left) and was published in 1993 or 1994. In the interview, Gibson was asked if he thought the technology he'd envisioned in the 1980s would soon manifest itself in the real world. He said, "I don't think we're going to see anything too drastic happening culturally around computers until the user-interface evolves to the point where it's easy to use. I mean when you say 'hey, I do a lot of e-mail' or 'hey, I hang out on the Internet' -- the reason that has a kind of elite buzz to it, is that the learning curve is still too steep."

In addition to this entertaining interview, bOING bOING #12 contained a two-page comic strip about the legal battle between Margaret and Walter Keane, who painted those famous big-eyed sad kids.

The document is in Microsoft Word format but you can view it online at the SkyDrive. And if you'd like to download it and don't have a recent version of Microsoft Word or one of the many other applications that can open the document, you can use the free Word Viewer for Windows or Quick Look built into Mac OS X .

The History of the Future! A free anthology of articles from the bOING bOING print 'zine 1989-1997 (SkyDrive)

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Tips for dungeon master daddies (and mommies)


If you are not both a geek and a parent of geeks, then the following post will be of little interest. press the "j" key and move on. Otherwise, there's some good information for parents who like to play rpg with their kids.

Tom Fassbender says:

So I'm really digging the new Gweek podcast, and particularly I enjoyed your short review/recap of rpgKids and Joel's Castle Ravenloft summary in 003.

I have some recent experience with playing Castle Ravenloft with a group of four 7- and 8-year-olds (my daughter and three of her guy friends). Yeah, there were a lot of pieces, but this seemed to excite them rather than act as a deterrent. I didn't include them on the un-boxing, though, which may have been a missed opportunity, but it made the process go faster. When we were ready to play, it looked a bit like this: (added it to the BB Pool)

We played a total of three times over a month. The first time was us (and by us I mean mostly me) trying to figure out the rules and getting the kinks out. The second time everyone had a blast. But by the third time, they got bored with it and I had to work hard to keep them interested.

The trouble was that the game is essentially the same thing every turn: move, draw some cards, roll a die, attack a monster. There's a bit more to it than that, but these are kids with rich imaginations; they kept wanting to do things outside the game's mechanics--climb walls, investigate coffins, find real treasure, and act out of turn in response to other events. I did my best to incorporate their choices into the game, but it wasn't always feasible or satisfying.

And even though we changed the characters a bit (gender, mostly) to fit preferences, these kids wanted to play their own characters, tell stories about them, and level them up.

So, in a move that leaves me questioning my sanity, I've decided to run a real D&D game with these kids using the new fourth edition essentials rules, albeit somewhat simplified.

The first game is this coming weekend. The kids may miss the finer points of role-playing, so I suspect it might turn into a "dungeon of the week" campaign, but overall, I think it's going to be a blast.

Have a tip for fellow dungeon master parents? Post in the comments!

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FAQ for Students Regarding the Rapture

I'm grateful to Charles Häberl for drawing to my attention the following FAQ a professor made for students regarding the rapture, which some professors whose classes are not yet done may wish to distribute to their own students over the next few days:
FAQ for my Students: The Rapture

Q: With the rapture coming, should I bother working on my final paper?
A: Yes. The odds are you will not be judged worthy of ascent to heaven, in which case your grades will still be a basis of judgment for rewards in this earthly sphere.

Q: What if my instructor is raptured?
A: None of our instructors bear much chance of being judged worthy. However, on the off chance your instructor is chosen, an army of unemployed secular Marxists is waiting to take his/her place.

Q: If my mother/father/grandfather/grandmother/favorite aunt/etc. is chosen, will I be excused from the final so that I may mourn his/her loss?
A: No. They have not died, but been granted eternal life, thus this does not count as a case of a death in the family.

Q: If my instructor is not raptured, is he really fit to judge me?
A: Yes, seeing as you were not raptured, you are still subject to the earthly judgment of the unsaved. If/when you are redeemed, a change of grade form will be automatically processed by heavenly authorities if they decide your grade was unfairly given by one of the damned.

Q: If my computer crashes and my printer breaks and there is no email on account of the rapture, will I be able to get an extension on the paper?
A: Everyone in tech and IT departments is of Satan's party, so the internet, your computer, and your printer should continue to work the way they always have: sporadically.

Q: How will the rapture affect your curving, particularly if raptured students are exempt from final tests/papers?
A: Final grades are not curved, but students who are taken up in the rapture will be given incompletes, just in case.
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San Francisco man becomes first in history to be cured of AIDS

Timothy Ray Brown, a 45-year-old San Francisco man previously known to the medical community as the Berlin patient, has become the first person to ever be cured of AIDS. After a stem cell bone marrow transplant, doctors say his HIV, the infection which causes AIDS, was eradicated.

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Video: Stephen King Talks Short Stories

Stephen King talks about writing and short stories in the interview with Borders. The short story market is not very big. There is the possibility that ebooks - and ideas like Kingle Singles - could help bring it back. Stephen King says some novelists have lost the ability to write short stories.

King also talked about short story length. He says sometimes he starts out writing a short story and it balloons into a novel. King also says, "There really is that length of 22 to 25,000 words that's a 'twilight zone' for writers. It's too short to be a novel but it's too long to be a short story." Take a look:

Texas close to banning TSA searches, TSA invents desperate new constitutional interpretations

The Texas House of Reps just passed just passed a bill banning TSA searches without probable cause ("A person who is a public servant [acting under color of his office or employment] commits an offense if the person: (2) while acting under color of the person's office or employment without probable cause to believe the other person committed an offense: (A) performs a search for the purpose of granting access to a publicly accessible building or form of transportation;). The TSA has responded with headless chicken hysteria, making up gradeschool misinterpretations of the nature of US federalism.
This time, the TSA is on the defensive, and published an official statement about the Texas bill on their blog: "What's our take on the Texas House of Representatives voting to ban the current TSA pat-down? Well, the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution (Article. VI. Clause 2) prevents states from regulating the federal government. "

The problem here? The statement is false. Ignorance from the TSA is unlikely, so I'll call a spade a spade. They're lying.

In public statement, TSA lies about the Constitution (via Reddit)

(Image: Waiting, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from cote's photostream

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

HOWTO sue telemarketers and keep the stuff they send you without paying for it

If you follow an exacting script and keep careful records, you can apparently sue sloppy telemarketers (or their clients) for $500 each, and get free merchandise in the bargain. America's telemarketing laws seem tough on marketers, but they're structured in such a way as to make the process as difficult as possible for people who don't want to get phonespam. But if you are careful, you can get $500 every time a telemarketer calls you twice after being told to add you to its do-not-call list. They get to call you once without incurring this penalty, but apparently, you get to keep anything you order on the second call for free without paying for it, since "future calls will be a violation of an act of the U.S. Congress, any contract directly resulting from an illegal act is not enforceable. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) offers no 'grace period.'"

I'm not a lawyer, and I don't know if the author of the article is. It's presented in Comic Sans, so caveat emptor and all that.

May I have your company's name, address and telephone number? If you are calling on behalf of a client, may I have the name, address and telephone number of your company, as well as the name, address and telephone number of the company that you are calling on behalf of?

Put me on your "Do Not Call List". You are hereby ordered to share my "Do Not Call Request" with your affiliates, associates, and related entities. If you are a third-party service bureau (telemarketing company), put me on your company's "Do Not Call List" as well as your client's "Do Not Call List".

Send me a copy of your "Do Not Call Policy". If you are a third party telemarketing service bureau, send me your company's "Do Not Call Policy" as well as your client's "Do Not Call Policy".

If you call me again, I will use your product or service and not pay for it. My denial of payment will be based on the fact that your future calls are a violation of an act of Congress, and any contract that is entered into as a direct result of an illegal act is unenforceable.

Do you understand what I have just told you?

Will you comply with my requests?

Telemarketing Script (via Consumerist)

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Monday, May 9, 2011

Paul Thomas Anderson's Next Moves Forward

The Weinstein Company will officially distribute Paul Thomas Anderson's next film, Deadline reports. Currently untitled, the project is set to star Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix. Originally titled The Master , the story, said to be loosely based on the life of L. Ron Hubbard and the creation of Scientology, will feature Hoffman as the creator of a faith-based organization in the 1950's. Phoenix will play Freddie, a young drifter who is swept up in the movement and becomes Hoffman's character's lieutenant. As everything builds, however, Freddie begins to question the system he's helped to create. This project, set to begin production next month, will be Anderson's first work since 2007's There Will Be Blood . That film was the only one of Anderson's not to feature...

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Brooklyn-based newspaper pretends women don't exist



I often filter reality to fit my preconceived notions, but the Brooklyn-based newspaper Der Tzitung puts my self-delusion to shame. Way to go!

Removing women from Situation Room photo

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Saturday, May 7, 2011

How Lightning fan outwitted petty HOA over playoff sign

Steven Paul, 28, is a Tampa Bay Lightning season ticket holder who's justifiably excited with his team in the Eastern Conference finals, eight wins away from the Stanley Cup.

Like many other Bolts supporters, he flaunted that enthusiasm within his community. That is, until his Home Owner's Association crushed his freedom of expression like an over-reactive parent.

But Steven Paul is a hockey fan, which means he's both incredibly cynical and incredibly stubborn about his passions. So he got a little creative in his battle with the draconian rules of his neighborhood HOA — and appears to have won.

Back in April, before the Lightning defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference playoffs, Paul decided he wanted to make his neighbors aware of his fervor for the team.

When the Lightning clinched a playoff spot, they gave fans a playoff preparation package that included a T-shirt, stickers and a sign made for display on one's front yard, like a political placard.

Paul placed his white "GO BOLTS" sign on his lawn on a Saturday.

On Wednesday of the following week, he received this from his HOA:

"Whoever it is that has too much time on their hands took a picture on Monday, turned it in and then I got the letter that said, 'No signs allowed except for security signs,'" said Paul, who shared the story and the letter with the Reddit hockey community, where he's an active member.

His HOA limits lawn signs to ones that provide free advertising for alert others that the house is protected by some kind of alarm system or security service.

"I was pissed. I was infuriated," recalled Paul, "and then I was like, 'OK, fine. If we can only have security signs, then I'll make it a security sign."

Which he did:

A few days later, his wife was at home when something caught her eye outside the house. It was a woman with a camera, taking a photo of the new sign, ostensibly for more HOA tattling.

Meanwhile, Paul was getting proactive with the HOA after their cease and desist letter, writing a letter of his own.

"I asked them if they had any community support. Tampa made the playoffs for the first time in years. Obviously, it's not a permanent sign in my yard, it's just a way to support the team," he said. "Don't they have anything better to do with my HOA fees?"

After transforming his sign into "GO BOLTS SECURITY," he hasn't gotten a second notice — yet. The HOA told Paul they'll discuss the matter further at an upcoming meeting.

Then Paul decided to get really proactive. Inside the bag of Lightning swag was a large blue Tampa Bay flag. He checked the HOA bylaws about hanging flags on houses, and found no restrictions.

So up it went on his garage:

"Honestly, I think the flag looks worse than the lawn sign," he said, "but I'm gonna hang it up there until we're done."

An engineer for the NOAA Hurricane Hunters (Ed. Note: Awesome), Paul is waiting to see if there's any further pushback from the HOA, while wondering if his sport of choice is part of the victimization.

"If this was the Rays or if this was the Bucs, would this even be an issue?" he asked.

Whether or not he'll need to get creative again, the good news for Paul and thousands of other Lightning fans is that there's at least another round of playoff hockey in which to express their enthusiasm — no matter if "the man" says otherwise.

Stick-tap to reader Phil Scott for the tip.

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Other popular Yahoo! Sports stories:
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How hockey fan outwitted petty HOA fine for playoff sign
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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Despite economic growth, India lets its girls die

MORENA, India (AP) — The room is large and airy, the stone floors clean and cool — a welcome respite from the afternoon sun. Until your eyes take in the horror that it holds. Ten severely malnourished children — nine of them girls.
The starving girls in this hospital ward include a 21-month-old with arms and legs the size of twigs and an emaciated 1-year-old with huge, vacant eyes. Without urgent medical care, most will not live to see their next birthday.

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