Friday, April 27, 2012

Married… With Children Around the World

Our pop culture is truly our great gift to the world.


This Croatian show is titled Bracne Vode, which means The Waters of Marriage. Two seasons were produced, in 2008 and 2009.

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Religion and Reason | Psychology Today

Your answer to the following riddle can predict whether you are a believer in religion or a disbeliever:
Q:  If a baseball and bat cost $110, and the bat costs $100 more than the ball, how much does the ball cost?
I figured up one answer in my head pretty quickly, but I knew it couldn't be right, so I thought about it for a while until I came up with the right answer. Not sure where that places me.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Glorious Master Translator

Inspiration and Chai

Five most common regrets of the dying, according to a hospice nurse...
1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. 
This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. 
It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it...

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The Worst Things For Sale

Awesome new blog from Drew, maker of Married to the Sea and Toothpaste for Dinner. Example:

New copies are $132, but there are a surprising number of used copies for the “bargain” price of $49. This suggests to me that the book has been purchased enough times for at least twenty people to read it and say “I wish she would have gone into more detail about *WHEN YOU SUPPORT & PROTECT MY HOLYSPIRIT LIFE. WE ARE BRANCHES >JOHN 15 MY WEBSITE:”
New copies are $132, but there are a surprising number of used copies for the “bargain” price of $49. This suggests to me that the book has been purchased enough times for at least twenty people to read it and say “I wish she would have gone into more detail about *WHEN YOU SUPPORT & PROTECT MY HOLYSPIRIT LIFE. WE ARE BRANCHES >JOHN 15 MY WEBSITE:
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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sound of My Voice

This looks pretty creepy...

Offerman Woodshop

Nick Offerman has a woodshop, just like his character Ron Swanson. Cool but pricey. I wouldn't mind having an artisinal canoe. And here he reads tweets from young female celebrities on Conan:

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A Transparent Attempt to Explain the Economics Behind Running a Pop-Culture Website and the Need to Run Intrusive Advertising

A somewhat depressing analysis of why web-based businesses have to resort to intrusive advertising to turn a profit.

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The Unfortunate Sex Life of the Banana • Damn Interesting

We take our bananas for granted. But the bananas that we know and love are in a precarious situation because they are genetically fragile and subject to blights that could wipe them out. They are working on the problem, though...
...Until the middle of the twentieth century, most bananas on sale in the developed world belonged to the Gros Michel cultivar. These bananas were sweet and tasty and didn’t spoil too quickly, making them eminently suitable for commercial export. Old-timers contend that in flavour and convenience, the Gros Michel outshone even the current top-banana, the Cavendish. Yet from the early twentieth century, large plantations of ‘Big Mike’ proved increasingly fertile ground for a fungal leaf affliction known as Panama disease. Affected crops would soon deteriorate into rotting piles of unprofitable vegetation. As the century progressed, commercial growers found themselves in a desperate race against time, making doomed attempts to establish new plantations in disease-free areas of rainforest before the fungus arrived...
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The U.S. Government’s Top-Secret Town | A Continuous Lean.

In 1942, as part of the Manhattan Project, the U.S. government acquired 70,000 acres of land in Eastern Tennessee and established a secret town called Oak Ridge. The name chosen to keep outside speculation to a minimum, because Oak Ridge served a vital role for the development of the atomic bomb. The massive complex of massive factories, administrative buildings and every other place a normal town needs to function, was developed for the sole purpose of separating uranium for the Manhattan Project. The completely planned community was designed by the architecture firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, and had a population of more than 70,000 people. Due to the sensitive nature of the work at Oak Ridge, the entire town was fenced in with armed guards and the entire place — much like the Manhattan Project in general — was a secret of the highest concern....

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Gingrich and Santorum: The Boys Who Cried Fox -

Just last week, Newt Gingrich delighted observers on both the right and the left when he slammed Fox News for “bias” and “distortion.” Gingrich claimed that the conservative news channel slanted its coverage to favor the less conservative establishment candidate, Mitt Romney. At first this seemed to be just another example of the former speaker’s ability to unabashedly embrace contradictory ideas. This is, after all, a man who saw nothing inconsistent about inviting reporters to the “private meeting” with Delaware Tea Party leaders where he made his comments...
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NCBI ROFL: Ever wanted to know what’s really in hotdogs? | Discoblog | Discover Magazine

NCBI ROFL: Ever wanted to know what’s really in hotdogs? | Discoblog | Discover Magazine:

Oh boy, this is not real pleasant. Don't read this...

Fig. 1. (A) Brand C. Low-magnification view of cross section showing scattered fragments of skeletal muscle. Many of the vacuoles stain for lipid. The amorphous eosinophilic material represents filler material. (B) Brand B. High-magnification appearance of skeletal muscle (meat) in cross section. Ghosts of subsarcolemmal nuclei are visible. (C) Brand B. High magnification of a band of connective tissue resembling a tendon. (D) Brand A. Fragment of bone tissue at high magnification. (E) Brand B. Fragment of soft tissue containing several blood vessels at high magnification. (F) Brand G. Plant material used as a filler in many hotdogs at high magnification. (G) Brand C. Cross section of a peripheral nerve fascicle at high magnification. (H) Brand E. High-magnification appearance of a fragment of articular cartilage tissue. (I) Brand D. High-magnification appearance showing marked lipid and fat highlighted on oil red O staining. (J) Brand D. Ultrastructural appearance of skeletal muscle showing still visible Z bands and discohesion of the myofilaments resulting in obscuring of the normal banding pattern of the sarcomere (original magnification ×22000).”

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Florida's Welfare Drug Tests a Flop | The Fix

I always felt like this was a bad idea that sounded good to those who don't know what a hassle and expense it is to randomly drug test people for no good reason...

Far from saving money, Florida's now-quashed welfare drug tests cost taxpayers, data shows.
Drug testing welfare recipients and refusing assistance to anyone who tests positive is now as familiar an idea as it is controversial. But a new report that highlights theineffectiveness of Florida's short-lived welfare testing program may make other states think twice before adopting similar measures. The findings are taken from Florida from July to October 2011: between when Governor Rick Scott signed the legislation in support of welfare drug testing, and when a federal judge blocked the law on the grounds that it violated Fourth Amendment protections against unwarranted searches.  Only 2.6% of the welfare applicants failed their drug tests—or 108 out of 4,086 in total. In addition, reimbursing the costs of the tests to welfare applicants who tested negative outweighed what the government would have disbursed to people who failed, ultimately costing the state $45,780. Georgia became the most recent state to approve welfare drug testing, and a recent USA Today report shows 23 states have considered...

Friday, April 20, 2012

Corporate Twits

A little corporate trolling...

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Sea-Monkeys and X-Ray Spex: Collecting the Bizarre Stuff Sold in the Back of Comic Books | Collectors Weekly

I always figured the X-ray glasses were a ripoff, but what I really coveted was the $7 submarine. Turns out it wasn't particularly seaworthy.

Found via Neatorama.

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1000 Awesome Things | A time-ticking countdown of 1000 awesome things by Neil Pasricha

...#15 Becoming a regular somewhere
Come on in.
We all know that being a regular doesn’t just happen overnight. No, it’s more like softly falling into a slow romance with a new friend…
Stage 1: The First Glance.There are plenty of fish in the sea but you slowly choose one. Maybe it’s the big coffee cups, the wrinkly newspapers on the counter, or the late hours keeping it open when you’re home from work. Something made this coffee shop stand out and you felt ...

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Saturday, April 07, 2012

Thomas Kinkade, one of nation's most popular painters, dies suddenly in Los Gatos at 54 - San Jose Mercury News

One of his shops is in Gatlinburg, and it fits right in to the Gatlinburg vibe. Not sure who forks out the cash he wanted for those Paintings of Light. It seems like I saw a thing somewhere about the painting factories he used, where others would paint it out and he'd come add the touches of "light" and sign off on it.

Dude found his angle and made some serious coin, and of course he was a big hit with those who felt that his "light" thing was spiritual and uplifting. Who am I to judge? Some of these paintings will be investments now.

After his death I saw this article in which it was said that Kinkade's death was related to alcoholism, which his brother blamed in part on the backlash he suffered for being so vilified.

And here is another analysis of Kinkade's legacy.

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Friday, April 06, 2012

Texts from Hillary

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When the internet is down...

found on Reddit


As a therapist, I go through this process where I walk up the hallway to the lobby to get my client, and for those few seconds, I center myself and clear my mind. Most of the time I feel a certain warmth towards my client, an eagerness to see them and spend some time with them. For a brief moment I center myself in an awareness of how blessed I am to have no other responsibility than to be with somebody, talk to them about what's real and try to find words that will unlock something in them and free them up enough so they can move forward. Maybe a few more steps towards healing and wholeness.

 I have moments when I feel tired or drained. Sometimes I stand on the inside of that lobby door with my hand on the knob, and feel totally at a loss, and I wonder what I can possibly be expected to say to somebody who hasn't been able to find the answer on their own. Or I might briefly get in touch with that bottomless well of unmet need, that abyss of despair that we try not to think about too much. Or I might feel like we're forming a battle plan against a foe who is much better armed and outnumbers us.

But then I put all that stuff out of my head and get on with it.

Tru Dat The United States of Football

Or, Bountygate revisited...

Okay, this audio tape got released yesterday, and, well, it's pretty rough...

Let's back up. A little over a month ago, the story broke about the NFL's investigation of the Saints' "bounty program," in which players were paid cash bonuses for big plays, but also for "knockouts" and "cart-offs." The program was reportedly run by, and paid into, by defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, and had the eager participation of as many as 22 to 27 defensive players. The program went on for three years, with the knowledge of the head coach and general manager, and continued despite the general manager's pledge to put an end to it when allegations first came to the league's attention in 2010.

I've kept up with the flow of events through the excellent web page, which is a  participatory community where the Times Picayune sports writers regularly interact with the fans to talk Saints football. Since the Bountygate story broke, the general tenor of most fan comments has been the opinion that the league went too far in singling out the Saints, especially in their one-year suspension of head coach Sean Payton.

A lot of things happened yesterday. Payton, general manager Mickey Loomis, linebackers' coach Joe Vitt were all in New York to appeal their suspensions. But the big bombshell was the way that the internet and sports media exploded after the release of audio of Gregg Williams' speech to the defensive team this past January, on the night before the playoff game against the 49ers.

On the tape, Williams can be heard inciting the players to check the toughness of certain 49ers, by trying their injuries, and he reminds the team of which players and which injuries he wants them to test. Some of his comments are coachspeak boilerplate tough talk, but there is very specific confirmation of the league's findings against the Saints, enough that it ought to quiet at least the more moderate apologists.

The audio was released by indie film maker Sean Pamphilon, who explains why he was in the locker room, why he released the clip. One excerpt:
...Essentially, Gregg Williams is not entirely unique.  He’s just the one who was arrogant enough to continue when he was told to stop and eventually, he got popped for it.  In his apology statement he said, “we knew it was wrong.”If he knew it was wrong, why did he keep telling his players not to apologize for the way he instructed them to play the game?
But on January 13th what caught my eye and ear was how open this dialog was.  The idea of purposely maiming men, targeting their heads, when information has been out there for a couple years now about the long-term affects of brain trauma.  Sadly, many of the players choose not to educate themselves about the toll the game really takes on them.  If you really know what you are doing to yourself, would you keep doing it?  There’s a difference between career suicide and the journey of slow suicide, many players embark on when they stay in this game at the highest level for too long....
This scandal has been rich in ironies for me. It happened at a time when I've been as obsessed with the Saints as I can remember. I had just finished reading Sean Payton's Home Team autobiography, in which he does reveal a sort of cocky attitude, but he also shows plenty of the heart and affection for the Saints' fans that have endeared us to him.

Bill Simmons in Grantland just published an excellent essay about the ironies and hypocrisy in the league's attitude towards violence in the game, and the difficulty of trying to sort out the issue of player safety when football is inherently violent, and moreover, the violence is what we celebrate and seem to crave on a visceral level.

Here's a radio interview with San Francisco defensive back Carlos Rogers, who used to play for Gregg Williams in Washington, in which he addresses the bounty issue about 9 minutes in. He has some interesting things to say to put perspective on things, and about how things are in the NFL.

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Thursday, April 05, 2012

Geese, Fox, and Gizzies

Photo Album - Imgur

 A few years ago there was a mother goose on the bottom, with four precious little goslings toddling behind. It was sweet. Although I knew that geese, once they establish a presence, become a nuisance. And sure enough it didn't take long for the babies to grow up to full size, and they left a mess of turds and feathers and party debris on the bottom, while during the day they'd work their way up and down the river. They moved on, thank goodness.

This spring as we start to mow the bottom, we've found two bird carcasses. Large birds--maybe chickens, maybe buzzards, it's really hard to tell. Bird carcasses are not a happy sign. It means most likely that we've got foxes establishing a home on the bottom again. In years past that wouldn't be such a big deal, but we worry about Gizzy, who thinks he's a badass and who will go charging off into the woods after whatever sound he hears, and we're afraid that one of these days he's going to get his feelings hurt.

April 4 News: 98% Of Colorado In A Drought, Say Climatologists | ThinkProgress

Okay, how about if I just agree to stay anxious all the time from now on? Will that be enough? Jeezum. What am I supposed to do about the climate? I guess I'm supposed to not be a Friend of Coal. I agree we should have more windmills, water wheels, solar panels, electric cars. I also think those things will take care of themselves as the price of oil goes up, which is just what is happening now. Too late? We'll have to see. I've got to pick my battles here. I'm certainly sympathetic, but all this kind of news does is make me feel anxious and frustrated.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2012


I find near-death experiences fascinating. Not that I've ever had one. I did go through a spell in the early 90's in which about six clients separately told me about their near death experiences over just a few months. (It is my experience as a therapist that problems tend to present in bunches like this. Now, I know this could be selective attention on my part, but I don't think I've had as many clients tell me about near death experiences in the past 20 years as I did during those few months.) And then Nan has brought home countless stories of near-death experiences by her hospice patients. It happens so often in hospice that they are considered routine.

One thing I find fascinating about near-death experiences is that if they are taken at face value, they challenge the notion of materialism. Materialist science says that our mind is an "emergent property" of brain functioning. If so, how can it be that some people experience heightened awareness and consciousness during health crises like cardiac arrest, when their brain is suffering hypoxia or their brain waves are flatlined? Would it be more parsimonious to conclude that under some circumstances, consciousness exists separate from the brain?

I've read a number of articles about near-death experiences written from the skeptical, materialist perspective, and it seems to me that most of them stretch explanatory hypotheses past the point of credulity. It looks to me as if materialist scientists are hemmed in by their assumptions. They assume that all experience must derive from brain functioning, and therefore near-death experiences can't possibly be real. So if it can't possibly be real, then there must be a mistake or a materialist explanation that we just haven't found yet. Brain science is just getting started.

Materialism can't be proven or disproven, it's an assumption. The best defense of materialism is to turn the question around and to ask, "How does it help us to propose that there is a soul, or some non-material essence?" Many scientists and philosophers conclude that really there is no reason, aside from the desire to honor tradition, or the desire to live forever with Jesus. And wishing doesn't make it so. (I can defend materialism all day. It's an easy argument to make, but at the end of the day I don't think it's true.)

I think that modern near-death research raises some pretty compelling questions about the nature of consciousness, and the materialist hypotheses have serious problems. And it's very interesting to find out that current skeptics making the rounds are using information that is either outdated or discredited. Here's an interesting interview concerning this topic with Jan Holden, Ed.D., researcher in near-death studies and President of IANDS, and Alex Tsakiris, host of the Skeptiko website and podcast. Tsakiris takes the position that there exists some good science out there that calls into question materialist dogma. He's not afraid to mix it up with skeptics, some of whom seriously engage him and others of whom can be condescending and patronizing. Many skeptics seem not to be used to their orthodoxy being challenged by any except the religious right.

The area where I most agree with Tsakiris is that the data should lead us to the truth, and we can't let dogma on either side of the culture war push us off track. I spend a lot of time sorting through this stuff. I find it interesting and compelling.

Here is an online continuing education course at the IANDS website posted by Dr. Holden.

For all you Pawn Stars fans out there - Imgur

Why Do Conservative Christians Feel Persecuted?

Interesting article about another article on how trends in society have contributed to the rise of the evangelical subculture, and how there is a certain insulated thinking that perpetuates their beliefs.

Kevin Drum has a few smart thoughts on why conservative Christians might feel persecuted in a country that overwhelming identifies as Christian:
A century ago, something like 10% of the country belonged to a conservative Protestant denomination. That’s grown steadily ever since, and today it’s around 30%. So there’s really no mystery to explain here. Conservative Christians have become more outspoken and more politically powerful simply because they’ve grown more numerous. Sometime in the 70s, their numbers finally passed a threshold where they became a serious voting bloc, and they’ve been growing more powerful every year since then.
We’ve been chipping away at traditional religious expression in the public square for decades. At the same time, conservative Christians denominations have grown steadily. Put the two together and you have a substantial segment of the population that feels like it’s under assault.

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Monday, April 02, 2012

The Marriage Counselor (1960)

A little classic Norman Rockwell. Not sure exactly what went down here.

Found via "If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger,There'd Be a Whole Lot of Dead Copycats" blog.

Arnold Schwarzenegger: DVD commentary

Arnold takes DVD commentary to new heights of genius...