July 27, 2005

Oh, the Headline Fun


Clinton offered 40 goats, 20 cows to marry Chelsea.

Yay, CNN. Thank you for cracking me up this afternoon. Sorry to disappoint, but this isn't what the article's actually about. No incest incited.


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July 21, 2005

How Do You Stop a Suicide Bomber?

Is the question I asked Brian this morning on my way out the door to work. We agreed on the answer: you can't.

He had some time to post this morning. I'm certain this question is one a lot of people are either directly or indirectly asking themselves today in wake of London Bombings Part II.

DC officials have a rather silly idea about how to deal with potential suicide bombers in the Metro stations: random backpack searches: Subway riders may face random police checks of their bags under a security measure being considered in the nation's capital, the latest city to look for ways to deter terrorism on rail systems.

No decision has been made on the idea for the city's 106-mile Metrorail system, and the logistics would be difficult. But “it would be another tool in our security toolbox,” says Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein.

All right, class, let's hit the highlights of how this would not work:
  • If the random searches occur in crowded stations or, heaven forfend, crowded trains, what's the difference of detonating the backpack on schedule or when the Metro cop says, "Hey, you!"? Not much to a suicide bomber.
And that's about it entirely. If a person is committed (a strange word, but it fits) enough to take his or her own life with the goal being to kill as many people around him or her, what motivation to stop the process can a third party bring? Chance of getting caught? Not exactly. No cookies for snack tomorrow? I probably shouldn't joke. But there's no perceived punishment in this world (none that civilized people would carry out, anyway) to deter these people.

And then the liberals drone whiny about the liberal-perceived root causes of terror and the far right or just horribly crass folks display more window stickers of the little boy pissing on bin Laden. Because, as Brian says later in his post, they want to DO SOMETHING or blame someone or something theoretical or named.

Technology is only going to make terrorism aspects more and more accessible to interested parties. From tools to coordinate attacks to tools to implement them efficiently and "effectively." The root is easy - misguided perceptions of "reward" or (or combined with) hatred (mostly irrational). I've read my copy of The Sacred Age of Terror from cover to cover.

So how do you stop a suicide bomber? I couldn't tell you. I'm sure all of us can give a good 10 reasons on what NOT to do.

Oh, and anyone in the British media calling the bombers from either set of attacks 'insurgents?' Didn't think so.


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Cassettes to MP3s?

So I've decided to try to convert some of my cassettes to MP3s. A found a few online guides, doesn't look too difficult. Seems like I have to make .wav files then then MP3s.

Has anybody done this? How's the sound quality?

This is a project that I will undertake after I clean my office (which means, possibly, never). But I'm hoping I can use it to motivate myself to some straightening, dusting, and vacuuming. We shall see.


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July 19, 2005

The PETA Holiday Ornament

Hey, everybody, look! It's the PETA Holiday Ornament. Make sure to reserve yours now (before PETA decides that the depiction of the bunny is cruel).

And if that doesn't do it for you, there's the PETA Playing Cards (I wonder if those come for software solitaire sets).

And, finally, for your children. Remember, Sadie, Fish are FRIENDS, not food.


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Another fabulous idea based on RSS - Blinkx program scanning.

SAN FRANCISCO - Search company Blinkx launched a free service on Tuesday that scans radio and television programs available on the Internet and automatically delivers the shows to a user's computer.

The SmartFeed service allows a user to search program content from more than 30 video and audio content providers including BBC News, CNN, NBC, and ESPN.

Users specify the information they want to find by visiting the Web site and registering it.

San Francisco-based Blinkx then scours the online video or audio sources by using voice-recognition and transcription software. When the information sought is found, a link to the desired material is created and shipped to a user's PC.
Yes, it is free. And you can register Podcasts with it.


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Get Your Flavonoids Here!

More reason to love dark chocolate.

Dark chocolate can not only soothe your soul but can lower blood pressure too, researchers reported Monday.

The study, published by the American Heart Association, joins a growing body of research that show compounds found in chocolate called flavonoids can help the blood vessels work more smoothly, perhaps reducing the risk of heart disease.
I bet that's why mine's so good. Makes me want to order some! Honey, I promise this shipment won't be too heavy to lift.


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5:45 a.m. IS a Good Riding Time

This summer, I've started my morning cycling at sunrise if at all possible.

For those of you (some have to my face) who question why, I offer the following:


Any questions?


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July 11, 2005


So I get this call last night - one of those where you KNOW it's a solicitor because the person isn't there immediately when you answer. I pause half a second, and I get this slow-but-lilting female voice...

May I speak to BRLEEEEan orl Heather Nuggle?
Ok - no telemarketing for you, chickee. I can understand Noggle name slaughter because native English speakers love to call me Mrs. Noogle, but BRLEEEEan? Ugh.


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Aaron'd better move to MO

Brian thinks that Illinois is is on the brink of secession. Instapundit takes interest.

(Aaron - MO has a nice governor.)


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"Their Original Purpose"

Ah, the Post's online venture features an article about the Tour de Cure and grumbly motorists.

It starts a little something like this:
Trouble is brewing in the bucolic hills and dales north of Alton, say some who use the roads there for their original purpose - to handle cars, trucks and farm vehicles.
I think this author ought to be reprimanded. After all, is "bucolic" actually in the 6th grade vocabulary? Of course, I'm being snarky. Nice word, Sue.

The article goes on to state that riders of June 11th's Tour de Cure up by Grafton were discourteous. And I don't doubt that's the case. Bad drivers make bad cyclists. Some very simple rules apply:
  • Slow traffic, stay to the right
  • If you don't have a rear view mirror, you don't have any business riding two abreast.
One interviewee complains that an adjacent bike trail isn't used and wonders why. Well, interviewee, I'll tell you. It's often full of obstacles caused by downed limbs and branches. Try riding that on your road bike. Same deal with a bike lane that doubles as a shoulder - if it's not well maintained, my 100 psi very thin tire isn't going to be rolling over it.

So, there you have it. Bike-friendly Illinois is being non-bike-friendly. Remember this?


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The Open Road

I was insane enough to go riding at 6 a.m. on Saturday. These folks were insane enough to join me at various points along the way.

So here's my route. If you're local, you'll enjoy this. From Maryland Heights down Dorsett/Midland into U City. Stopped at the Starbucks (picked Ryan up along the way) and met Hans and his brother, Kurt. Went into the city. Saw our cycling buddies Susan and Linda at another Starbucks along the way - they had ridden up from the south. Rode south down Broadway/Lemay Ferry to Jefferson Barracks. Rode around Jefferson Barracks a bit. Rode up a "shortcut" to Forest Park. Hans and Kurt split off, and Ryan and I got separated and met at the big Amoco. (Anybody local knows what I mean here). Went up to Big Shark to get Ryan some new gloves. Continuned on home via Skinker up to Olive then Olive west to Midland. (Yes, I'm a nutbar; I rode my bike on Olive during normal traffic hours). Then Midland to Link/Midland intersection.

It's at this point that I sat down, figuring I'd eat a bit and let my heart rate return to normal human points before trying to tackle the nasty hill at Midland and Adie just past Lindbergh. It never really did that slowing down thing, so after 20 mins, I called Brian, and he came and got me just 4 miles short of home. Still, 60 miles in heat and pushing it (the guys are faster than I am) - worth it.

Got a heart rate monitor from my mother for Christmas, and I'm just now getting around to training with it. It's really telling. Like...I run out of steam on hills because I'm usually working at 156 - 165 bpm before I start a hill. And at 174 - 180 it is all right to feel like I'm dying. I am NOT a natural athlete, and it's been suggested to me that I try some interval training. I've had to build back my strength from near zero (some health issues in February/March - turned out to be nothing serious), and muscle/strength/resistance training come pretty naturally. This cardio stuff, not so much.

Last week I made it out to Creve Coeur two mornings and rode for about an hour and fifteen mins each time. This week I had planned to do the same, but the weather isn't going to cooperate. My legs were complaining about the strain I put on them Saturday, so I walked/ran this morning for an hour, and it looks like cardio at the gym for the next 3 mornings b/c of the rain.

I have 2 months until the 150 (September 10 and 11 of this year). I should be fine. The heart rate monitor does prove that I'm not dogging it or anything - I work like a good little mule. Just don't get all that much output for my effort. And that makes me grumbly.


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July 07, 2005

Can't Blog Today, Sorry

Snarky and silly just don't work for me today. Back tomorrow. Pray for the victims of the horrid cowardly attacks.


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July 06, 2005

Now I Don't Feel So Clumsy

President Bush has more bike accidents than I do.

President Bush collided with a British police officer during a bike ride Wednesday evening, suffering scrapes on his hands and arms that required bandaging, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.

The officer, from the Strethclyde Police Department in Scotland, was taken to a local hospital as a precaution. He was treated and released, after an evaluation revealed no fractures, McClellan said.
Of course, I don't ride in Scotland. And I avoid times of day on trails where 6 year-olds might be found; I've learned my lesson.

But one thing - why does CNN use scare quotes in the next paragraph.

Bush "visited" with the police officer for some time after the accident and asked White House physician Dr. Richard Tubb to monitor his situation at the hospital, McClellan said. The president was expected to call the officer later, McClellan said.
I'm scratching my head.


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China Treats Addicted Video-Game Players

Don't let the headline fool you, though; the clinc's for Internet addiction. And it's for kids.

The 12 teenagers and young adults, some in ripped jeans and baggy T-shirts, sit in a circle, chewing gum and fidgeting as they shyly introduce themselves. "I'm 12 years old," one boy announces with a smile. "I love playing computer games. That's it.""It's been good to sleep" says another, a 17-year-old with spiky hair, now that he's no longer on the computer all day.

The youths are patients at China's first officially licensed clinic for Internet addiction, a downside of the online frenzy that has accompanied the nation's breathtaking economic boom.

"All the children here have left school because they are playing games or in chat rooms everyday," says the clinic's director, Dr. Tao Ran. "They are suffering from depression, nervousness, fear and unwillingness to interact with others, panic and agitation. They also have sleep disorders, the shakes and numbness in their hands."
There's a picture of a person with electrodes attached to his feet. He's 12, and he's receiving electric shock therapy for Internet addiction.

A bit scary. No, a lot scary.


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July 05, 2005

C'est rose vif

Poor Jan Ullrich. How do you motivate yourself to ride the Tour on your pink bike with your pink buddies?


(Photo's lifted from here, where the caption is "Pretty in Pink." Exactly).


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Think I'm Done with the Redesign

Good enough - different. Thoughts? hln

Posted by hln at 08:38 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Fat Soldiers?

Interesting article of off the AP today. Military Concerned about Troops' Weight.

Weight issues plague all branches of the military, from elite Marines to the Air Force, often lampooned as the "chair force" because of its many sedentary jobs.

Thousands of troops are struggling to lose weight, and thousands have been booted out of the service in recent years because they couldn't.

However, one of the biggest worries concerns those not even in uniform yet: Nearly 2 out of 10 men and 4 out of 10 women of recruiting age weigh too much to be eligible, a record number for that age group.

"This is quickly becoming a national security issue for us. The pool of recruits is becoming smaller," said Col. Gaston Bathalon, an Army nutrition expert.

Unless weight rules are relaxed, "we're going to have a harder time fielding an Army," he said.

Today's soldiers are supersized, averaging 37 pounds heavier than their Civil War counterparts. Military officials say that's not all bad, because most of it is muscle, not fat, and the result of better nutrition. "Large and in charge" makes soldiers look more formidable to the enemy, they note.
And what are weight guidelines for the Army (article's focus is mostly Army and Air Force)? Article doesn't say, so I did some digging.

Here's an Excel chart. has more info. For my age group and height I'd pass.

The Excel chart shows acceptable body fat %, too, which is far more telling.

This leads to a funny story that I thought Brian already related on his blog...about his mother making weight as a Marine. I can't find it on Google, though, so here's the short version.

My mother-in-law will never be accused of weighing too much. As a young woman on her way to weigh in for the Marines, she ate several pounds of bananas (I think it was even on the back of a truck or something) on her way there. She made it in, but Brian didn't grow up around a bunch of bananas.


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July 04, 2005

Paul Wynn Goes to Iraq

I don't know Paul Wynn, but the Post-Dispatch actually put together a very nice story about the pastor who lives in neighboring St. Peters.

If the Rev. Paul Wynn never returns from the war in Iraq, he wants his wife and children to know he served God and his country.

Wynn's church sermon Sunday was the last he'll deliver for a while. The pastor at the New Covenant Church of St. Peters and the father of five children leaves Tuesday to begin 12 to 18 months of military service in Iraq.

"It's a big, big if," Wynn, 36, of O'Fallon, Mo., told his children recently, "But if something does happen to me, I want you to always remember your dad did the right thing."

The 1990 West Point graduate and former Army football punt returner will spend the summer months in Farmington. Mo., where he'll begin training to lead a unit of 120 soldiers. This fall, he'll go to Fort Sill, Okla., before being deployed to Iraq. Wynn, a major, will lead a crew that supplies food, fuel, water and equipment to soldiers fighting on the ground in Iraq.

After returning from active duty in the Persian Gulf War, Wynn lived with his wife, Sandra, in England while attending Bible college. After finishing school, Wynn returned to Missouri and has served various positions in the church, including youth pastor, Bible training coordinator and full-time pastor for the past 18 months.

He said he felt compelled to rejoin the Army Reserve after the terrorist attacks on the United States.
That's the meat of it. I need to go look to see where that was found within the paper itself. I caught the online version.


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Out of YOUR Pocket

James Joyner posts about bad writing. Specifically, he posts about productivity lost due to poor writing in public sector jobs. He's quoting from this, an AP source, part of which I will repeat.

States spend nearly a quarter of a billion dollars a year on remedial writing instruction for their employees, according to a new report that says the indirect costs of sloppy writing probably hurt taxpayers even more.

The National Commission on Writing, in a report to be released Tuesday, says that good writing skills are at least as important in the public sector as in private industry. Poor writing not only befuddles citizens but also slows down the government as bureaucrats struggle with unclear instructions or have to redo poorly written work.
Wow, but not really.

I think this is going to lapse into anecdote, so the rest will be in the extended section.

I can't say that the writing I encountered in the public sector (nearly 5 years of service, thank you) was any worse than that I sometimes have to review in the private sector. The main difference? My company knows (clients do too) that it's wise to have me review important proposals before the leave the premises, electronically or otherwise.

To that point - when I was a college senior, a professor in one of the final classes I had to take to get my Bachelor of Science in Communications Management administered a grammar test to the class. The result? A lot of bad scores. I actually scored higher than anyone who'd been put to the test previously, a fact the professor made sure to point out to the class before he sent me home for two class weeks while he taught basic writing.

Upon my return, he pointed out to the class that it'd be wise to have me review their work before they turned it in. Nothing like being the grammar nerd. At least I was the grammar nerd in a short skirt.

Whose fault is it that most Americans have poor writing skills? My mother, ever the English teacher, would lament the lack of training in key grades (probably all of them up until what she taught - high school seniors). That's probably true. I also think that people don't read nearly as much as previous generations. There's TV, video games, etc. Maybe that'll make a turnaround with online content, but in order for that to happen, the online content will need to be bereft of "u c that" etc.

As my music theory professor, Dr. David Goza, said in class one day, "You need to know all of the rules to break them." Good advice that applies equally to chord progression and grammar. (As she ends her post with a sentence fragment).


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July 03, 2005

Redesign in Process

I got tired of the lavender. So over the next few days I'll be modifying this and that here and there until I'm pleased with it. Consider it a work in progress...


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