August 30, 2004

Garrison Keillor

Garrison Kellior's poses this question: What Has Become of the Republican Party?"
The party of Lincoln and Liberty was transmogrified into the party of hairy-backed swamp developers and corporate shills, faith-based economists, fundamentalist bullies with Bibles, Christians of convenience, freelance racists, misanthropic frat boys, shrieking midgets of AM radio, tax cheats, nihilists in golf pants, brownshirts in pinstripes, sweatshop tycoons, hacks, fakirs, aggressive dorks, Lamborghini libertarians, people who believe Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk was filmed in Roswell, New Mexico, little honkers out to diminish the rest of us, Newt’s evil spawn and their Etch-A-Sketch president, a dull and rigid man suspicious of the free flow of information and of secular institutions, whose philosophy is a jumble of badly sutured body parts trying to walk. Republicans: The No.1 reason the rest of the world thinks we’re deaf, dumb and dangerous.


I urge you to Read the Complete Article.

August 28, 2004

My Brother, the Redcoat (redux)

Just heard from the brother, and at his request, I replaced his backstage pic with some on-set shots in my sidebar PhotoBlog. He mentioned that he's also in the deleted scene "The Butcher" in the tent with Gen. Cornwallis.

Rob has started a blog for himself at http://psilocide.blogspot.com. Like me, he has no shortage of interesting musings. Here's a sample:

Godzilla's special friends

Just saw some cheesy Japanese Godzilla-type monster movie, and I was thinking. Yes, thinking. What do all the good-guy monsters or robots have in common? That they all seem to spend inordinate amounts of time alone with some little boy. They are always friends with no one but the one cute little Japanese boy. Does this disturb anyone else? When will the Japanese government stop trading the innocence of their children for the alliance of monsters and robots? Its time for this to stop.


Why don't you all go drop in and welcome him to the Blogosphere. (Yes, all six of you.)

August 27, 2004

LinkNews Digest [08/27/2004]

Flashmob Opera Planned by BBC-3

If the people won't go to the opera, bring the opera to them — and when they least expect it.

In a somewhat unorthodox addition to its autumn television schedules, the BBC has announced that next month it will surprise commuters by staging an opera at an unnamed London rail station, without any warning.

The 65-strong orchestra and three opera singers will swoop in unannounced, with selected members of the public joining in as a chorus after being contacted at the last minute by mobile phone text message.

The event, to be broadcast on the BBC 3 satellite channel, is based on the concept of "flashmobbing", an Internet craze in which people agree to converge in a public area and join in a seemingly random act.

"Flashmob — The Opera" had been specifically designed to make opera more appealing to younger audiences, said BBC 3 controller Stuart Murphy. "We were trying to work out how we could do something that is a big event and that audiences would find entertaining," he said.
Link

"You Might Be A Redneck If..." #487

BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- Somewhere between the junk food aisle and the automotive department, Pat Byrd and Bill Hughes fell in love. So it was only natural that they should marry where the magic happened -- Wal-Mart. "It never dawned on me to have it anyplace else," said the 55-year-old bride.

Neither bride nor groom work at the discount store. Still, they spend more time there than many employees do, wandering the aisles and visiting friends for up to six hours a day, nearly every day since the store opened two years ago.

"I talk to people and walk around for exercise, and we always buy a soda or a sandwich or something," 51-year-old Hughes said. "If we're not here, the store people worry about us. They're our family."

They celebrated their blooming love with a ceremony Friday in Wal-Mart's garden center. The store manager was a groomsman, and a fabric department employee was matron of honor. A garden center employee, Chuck Foruria, walked alongside Pat as she rode her motorized shopping cart down the makeshift aisle, her oxygen tank in the basket.

"Who gives this woman in marriage?" asked Stacey Garza of the Free Will Church."Her friends and family at Wal-Mart," Foruria replied
Link (CNN)

The Internet Age Ushers In "Telepsychiatry"

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - When people with depression can't easily get to a psychiatrist's office, they can be helped by telepsychiatry -- that is, remote treatment delivered over personal-computer-based videoconferencing equipment and cameras mounted on the monitors.

In a new study, patients treated through telepsychiatry were as satisfied and their symptoms resolved as early as those who were treated in person. Dr. Paul E. Ruskin, a psychiatrist at the VA Maryland Health Care System in Baltimore, and his team enrolled 119 veterans with depression in a clinical trial involving eight therapy sessions over 6 months. Fifty-nine patients were assigned to telepsychiatry, and 60 were treated in person.

Depression scale scores were halved, at least, in 49 percent of patients in the remote group and 43 percent of those in the in-person group, a difference that was significant statistically. Both groups of patients reported high levels of satisfaction, with no difference between groups, Ruskin's team reports in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
Link

I don't know how much I'd trust a Psychiatrist who telecommutes. I'd always think he was surfing for Porn while pretending to listen to me complain.

Ellen = God, ergo God = Ellen.

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Comedian Ellen DeGeneres is getting a promotion -- to supreme being.

DeGeneres will star as God in a remake of the 1977 comedy "Oh, God!" The original starred George Burns as the creator and John Denver as a supermarket manager tapped as a new prophet.

"Ellen is a strong comedian and she has always done material about God and questions about God," said Jerry Weintraub, who produced the original movie and also will oversee the remake.
Link

Cingular Introduces "Escape-A-Date" Feature

"Escape-A-Date" is the perfect service to use when you are afraid that your blind date may not be just right for you. This new service allows you to schedule a "rescue" phone call at a pre-set time. That way, you'll be called at the time you specify. The service tells you exactly what to say to set the tone for a speedy escape. There are eight randomly generated humorous scripts.

Here's an example:

Hey, this is your escape-a-date call. If you're looking for an excuse, I
got it. Just repeat after me, and you'll be on your way!

"Not again! Why does that always happen to you? ... Alright, I'll be
right there." Now tell 'em that your roommate got locked out, and you
have to go let them in. Good luck!

With "Escape-A-Date," you'll never be at a loss if you need a timely rescue.
Link

Dave Matthews Band Dumps More Crap on Unsuspecting Public

CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- The state of Illinois sued the Dave Matthews Band on Tuesday for allegedly dumping up to 800 pounds of liquid human waste from a bus into the Chicago River, dousing a tour boat filled with passengers.

The lawsuit accuses the band and one of its bus drivers of violating state water pollution and public nuisance laws. It seeks $70,000 in civil penalties.

"Our driver has stated that he was not involved in this incident," band spokesman John Vlautin said in a statement. He said the band "will continue to be cooperative in this investigation."

According to the lawsuit, on August 8 a bus leased by the band was heading to a downtown hotel where members were staying. As the bus crossed the Kinzie Street bridge, the driver allegedly emptied the contents of the septic tank through the bridge's metal grating into the river below.

More than 100 people on an architecture tour were showered with foul-smelling waste. The attorney general's office said no one was seriously injured. After the incident, the boat's captain turned the vessel around and took passengers back to the dock. Everyone received refunds, and the boat was cleaned with disinfectant.
Link (CNN)

"He died like THIS... *urk*!"

BOMBAY (Reuters) - India's first execution in 13 years has claimed an additional toll of at least two children dead in mishaps as they re-enacted the highly publicized hanging of a man convicted of raping and murdering a schoolgirl.

Two weeks ago, 41-year-old Dhananjoy Chatterjee was hanged in the eastern city of Calcutta after 13 years on death row. On Sunday, 14-year-old Prem Gaekwad died when he tied one end of a rope around his neck and swung the other end on a ceiling fan in his Bombay home, in an apparent re-enactment.

"The boy's father told us Prem was a very bright but curious kid and kept asking questions about how Dhananjoy would be hanged," said assistant police inspector Dilip Suryawanshi.

Last week, a 12-year-old girl died in the eastern state of West Bengal, when she tried to demonstrate for her younger brother how Chatterjee was executed, newspapers said. And a 10-year-old boy in the same state almost died last week when he and his friends acted out the execution, taking the roles of Chatterjee, the hangman, a doctor and the prison warden.
Link

Taxi Driver Returns Lost Silver Medal

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- A taxi driver returned a silver medal left in his cab by Dutch rower Simon Diederik, Olympics organizers said Wednesday.

Diederik left the medal, which he won Sunday, in a taxi on Monday evening.

After an announcement about the loss to all 5,000 taxis working that night, the medal was handed over to organizers and will be given to the athlete.

The driver will be given a gift for returning the medal, organizers said.
Link (CNN)

August 26, 2004

Roommate Roulette

After reading Joe Bob Briggs' essay on interesting roommate combinations, I was inspired to catalogue my own list of my various and sundry roommates.

Justin (Fall '92-Spring '93)

Justin was my buddy from High School. He was a year head of me, so he had already carved himself a niche on the first floor of Lipscomb Hall at UGA. We inherited a 3rd-hand platform loft and held it up mostly with Gumby's Pizza boxes. I also fell right into line with Justin's friends, the remainder of the first floor.

Positives: Already a friend, just as easy-going as I was, liked the same computer games (no choice really, it was just his computer then), kept the same hours, had roughly the same (lack of) success with women as I did. He also taught me how to do laundry and cook Top Ramen.
Negatives: He was a hairy Swede who slept in nothing but Umbro shorts, often with no sheets. He left beard clippings in the sink and tobacco spit in many Dr Pepper bottles around the room. Plus he stole my bottle of Gem Clear from the freezer when I needed it.
Verdict: Good roommate, but he needs to find a nice domesticated woman. Absent-minded professor types like him have been quite successful in finding wives that are happy to be needed, and amused by his chaotic life and non-linear thinking.

Monik (Fall '93-Winter '93)

It was pronounced Moe-NEEK, like a French maid, but he was a 6'1" Indian computer science major.
Positives: Nice guy, we got along well, both interested in Computers. Had roughly the same (lack of) success with women as I did. Quiet and easy-going.
Negatives: Not quite as good a fit with the other guys, who were now infamous as "The Gem Clear Warriors of Lipscomb Hall".
Verdict: Good roommate. No tension or fighting, no hygiene issues. He moved out amicably when we both had good friends that needed a roommate.

Steven (Spring '94)

Another friend from high school, this time a year behind me.
Positive: We got along well, and he fit into our group of misfits quite nicely. He had one girl, and she was no trouble.
Negative: A bit reclusive, and was even more clueless than I was (imagine that) about living on your own.
Verdict: Started to get the idea that friends sometimes don't make the best roommates. Steven was ruled by his stepmother, whom we affectionately called "Hitler", during high school. This rendered him unable to make decisions for himself when he got to college.

Steven, Karen & Leigh (Fall '94-Summer '95)

This was a reality show in the making. Steven and I decided to break out of the dorms and get ourselves an apartment, but in order to afford it, we needed more people. So we decided to move in with Karen, my girlfriend and former Calculus tutor, and Leigh, Steven's pseudo-girlfriend that he stole from fellow Gem Clear Warrior Jacob. Steven and I would be in one room, and Leigh & Karen would be in the other. We all signed the lease for fall in June, (despite Leigh's premonition that it would cause "bad things" to happen), and all went home to work for the summer. (Leigh and I in Georgia, Steven with his mother in Delaware and Karen in New Jersey.)
When we moved in that fall, we found that Steven was dead broke, Leigh had gotten back with Jacob, and Karen had gotten back together with her hometown boyfriend over the summer, and neglected to inform me of it. Raise the curtain and awaaaaaaaay we go!
Positive: We were out of the dorms. Leigh was nice, if a bit weird.
Negative: (1) Steven was a dead-beat roommate who mooched everything, including an attempt at my girlfriend. He stopped going to classes, deciding that he would learn just as much by staying in his pajamas all day and watching The Discovery Channel. He owed us thousands of dollars by the time we kicked him out.
(2) Karen didn't want to date me because it wouldn't be fair to her Jersey Boy, but she started dating a Marine from Watkinsville that she met at a club. She had this need to be "Alpha Bitch", so she teamed up with "Steven of the Herd Mentality" to force Leigh to move out. She demanded that my girlfriend (Melissa) start paying utilities since she spent the night on the weekends.
(3) The place was haunted, so damp that it ruined all our furniture, and full of Camel Crickets that liked to perch on us while we slept.
Verdict: The worst roommate experience of my life. When I met Melissa on a choir trip, and asked if I could spend the night at her place, I wasn't being sleazy, it was mostly because I didn't want to go back to my apartment. The only time Karen was agreeable is when we kicked Steven out, and he was taken in by my ex-girlfriend, Laurie "Needy" Handler.

Mike T. (Fall '95-Winter '96)

Melissa recommended College Park Apartments, which was furnished and clean. I got in with Mike, whom Mel found nice enough before. He made out like he had this important computer job, but I found out he just worked for Radio Shack.
Positives: He was quiet and kept to himself. With the exception of his computer being sprawled across the kitchen table, he kept the place tidy.
Negatives: Mike was a introverted type-A control freak with mother issues that surpassed Norman Bates. He smashed our laundry room door because his mommy wouldn't let him trade in his car for "something sporty." He also played Sega all night with the volume up. I'd frequently be woken up at 2 AM with "Day-Tona!" or "Next up to bat... Javy Lopez..." When I beat his high score on "Daytona USA," he made his girlfriend and two others wait while he attempted to reclaim the record. He was always on the phone on "business" and would disconnect me when I was on the modem to make his own calls.
Verdict: This guy had more deep-seated issues than Steven, and that's saying a lot.

Dave (Spring '96-Summer '97)

I deserved a roomie like Dave after the last couple of years. Dave was the most upbeat, energetic and friendly guy I've ever met. He played guitar in a band and had a striking resemblance to his idol, Kevin Kinney of "Drivin N Cryin".
Positive: His dad was loaded, so he always paid the bills on time. He was fun to hang out with and was absolutely zero stress. We even collaborated on a few songs for his band. He didn't give me any grief for having Melissa over a lot, and he only freaked out once, when Melissa brought home a baby deer that had been injured.
Negative: Can't think of any.
Verdict: Best...Roommate...Ever. (GUY roommate, anyways.)

After that, I started rooming with Melissa, and we all know how THAT ended up. The only difficulty came about when we decided to add another roommate a couple of years ago. It was this young, whiny little guy named Matthew. He was always needing stuff from us, always hungry. We were always cleaning up after him. And lazy too! He mostly just sat around for the first year, not doing much of anything. And if that wasn't bad enough, he didn't even speak English! It's taken him over two years just to speak in basic sentences. And he's more of a mooch than Steven! He's yet to offer to pay for a meal or pitch in for rent & utilities. He can't be trusted, either, so we can't leave him alone for any length of time. It's such a hassle, I swear, but he's such an amicable guy, it's all worth it in the end.


August 24, 2004

It Takes a Village

Melissa was injured once again in a TaeKwonDo incident. She was participating in some light-contact sparring while doing a demonstration for her school at the Mall of Georgia. Her partner had neglected to remove his watch before suiting up, and Melissa's kick connected with that watch. Sounds harmless enough, but this was no ordinary watch. It was one of those pseudo-military jobs that take up your whole forearm. In geek-speak, it would probably be called "+2 Bracers of Mechanical Time" or something.

So I took off work with "Hopalong Casualty" to make our rounds of the doctors yesterday. First was a stop to the sports medicine clinic for the doctor to review the MRI films on her previous TKD injury to her thumb. (This was from the butch hockey-playing girl who thought "light contact" meant "make your partner see lights.") I watched Matthew while she went in.

Matthew was entranced with the decorative water fountain in the hospital lobby when I heard "Damn!" from behind me. I turned to see a well-built black delivery man looking at Matthew. "Wow, how old is he," he asks. I tell him 2 1/2. "Damn," he repeats, "I've got three words for you: Sports, sports and sports. This little man is built for it." The man was right, Melissa calls him "mommy's little linebacker." He's short and stocky, just like Melissa's dad. The Pediatrician says he'll probably be about 5'9". The kid is almost entirely muscle, (although Mel did catch him licking the TV screen while watching the opening of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" this morning.)

We found out Mel's thumb has a torn ligament, and she needs to stay in the thumb brace for another six weeks. We break for lunch at "Chez Petrey" (a.k.a. Melissa's Parents' place in Lawrenceville) and head off to the second round of doctor's appointments for her foot. After a brief stop-over at our physician's office for a referral, we got an x-ray at the main hospital and find out that the foot isn't broken. That's all they can tell us though, so we'll have to wait for another appointment with our physician in order to get referred back to that same sports medicine clinic.

In other news, I met Justin and his parents to see "The Village" at the Colonial 18. I have to say that it was a great movie with some good suspense and a great twist at the end. And the surprise protagonist, Bryce Dallas Howard's Ivy character, was truly fascinating. I feared that her casting was nepotism (as she is Ron Howard's daughter), but she more than held her own in company of other excellent performances. The dialogue was a bit hokey in a few places, but the plot and character development were top-notch, and the cinematography was nothing short of stunning. (The final scene between Joaquin Phoenix and Adrian Brody was pure genius.)

I do agree with Noel's review in one aspect, however: Ivy finds her way around a bit too well for a blind girl. Given, there's the one scene that shows her counting her steps, but unless she's Rain Man, I doubt she'd be able to calculate angles and acceleration precisely enough to curve away from a rock at the end of a half-mile foot race. Justin's Mother, Judith, who is a music teacher, noted that the first name in the ending credits was the first chair violinist. Rightfully so, I thought, as the music was also top-notch, and the violin was remarkable.

August 20, 2004

LinkNews Digest [8/20/2004]

Microsoft Lost In Translation

Microsoft's lack of multicultural savvy cost the Redmond behemoth millions of dollars, according to a company executive.

When coloring in 800,000 pixels on a map of India, Microsoft colored eight of them a different shade of green to represent the disputed Kashmiri territory. The difference in greens meant Kashmir was shown as non-Indian, and the product was promptly banned in India. Microsoft was left to recall all 200,000 copies of the offending Windows 95 operating system software to try and heal the diplomatic wounds. "It cost millions," Edwards said.

Microsoft has also managed to upset women and entire countries. A Spanish-language version of Windows XP, destined for Latin American markets, asked users to select their gender between "not specified," "male" or "bitch," because of an unfortunate error in translation.
Link (Cnet)

Botox for Rover?

CALGARY, Alberta -- Plastic surgery isn't just for the rich and famous -- it's now for their dogs, too.

It seems that some rich owners of competitive dogs are springing to get Botox injections and even surgery for their pooches. Cathy Thomas, executive director of the Calgary Humane Society, calls it completely unnecessary and over the top.

The Canadian Kennel Club warns that any dog that's been tampered with must be disqualified by the judge.
Link

Judges Rule File-Sharing Software Legal

A federal appeals court has upheld a controversial court decision that said file-sharing software programs such as Grokster or Morpheus are legal.

Following the lead of a lower-court decision last year, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Los Angeles said on Thursday that peer-to-peer software developers were not liable for any copyright infringement committed by people using their products, as long as they had no direct ability to stop the acts.

The ruling means that companies that write and distribute peer-to-peer software can't be shut down because of the actions of their customers. It did not say file-trading itself is legal, and lower courts in the United States have said individual computer users are breaking the law when they trade copyrighted files without permission. But the ruling does lift the cloud of potential liability from defendants Grokster and StreamCast Networks, as well as from many of their rivals.

The decision marks a substantial--if not entirely unexpected--setback for the big record labels and movie studios, which have tried hard to win legal rulings that would clamp down on anarchic peer-to-peer networks such as Kazaa or eDonkey.

"The introduction of new technology is always disruptive to old markets and particularly to those copyright owners whose works are sold through well-established distribution mechanisms," the court wrote. "Yet history has shown that time and market forces often provide equilibrium in balancing interests, whether the new technology be a player piano, a copier, a tape recorder, a video recorder, a personal computer, a karaoke machine or an MP3 player. Thus, it is prudent for courts to exercise caution before restructuring liability theories for the purpose of addressing specific market abuses, despite their apparent present magnitude."
Link (Cnet)

A New Spin on "Pumpkin and Hunny Bunny"

British supermarkets are selling out of pumpkin seeds after a television show described them as "Viagra for women".

The morning after Dr Gillian McKeith revealed on a TV nutrition program their apparently amazing potential for increasing libido, thousands of women apparently scoured supermarkets to put the theory to the test and virtually cleared out stocks across the country.

Leading supermarket Sainsbury's recorded a 256 per cent increase in sales. Dr McKeith lists pumpkin seeds among more than 60 "great sex" foods, from adzuki beans to wild salmon.

She claims that a diet which includes them enhances potency, drive and fertility, and suggests: "Eat your way back to a great sex life."
Link

Canadian Robber Gets Drop on Mounties

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Three off-duty police officers in a Vancouver suburb found themselves surprise witnesses to a bank robbery on Wednesday by an inept thief who apparently did not realize his own weight.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers were waiting in a car at an intersection outside a bank in Burnaby when a man suddenly ran out of the building and into the traffic where he nearly collided with a vehicle.

Realizing that something was amiss, the Mounties chased the man on foot as he ran into a nearby marine products supply store where witnesses said he attempted to hide by climbing into a ceiling area.

"Customers and the officers could hear the man struggling, until they finally heard him say, 'Help me'," the RCMP said a statement.

The ceiling tiles then collapsed under the man's weight and he landed in a boat that was on display. He was arrested and the money recovered.
Link (Yahoo)

Disney Cartoons: Olympic Secret?

ATHENS (Reuters) - South Africa's Kirstin Jean Lewis has a unique and comical way to stay calm in between firing arrows during the suspense-filled archery shootouts at the Athens Olympics.

"My coach has been helping me a lot... He keeps me relaxed by telling me stories from Walt Disney cartoons," said Lewis, a chemical engineer in Cape Town.

The tactic worked on Tuesday when she shot a respectable 157 points out of 180 to reach the last 16 of the women's individual competition at the Panathinaiko Stadium.
Link (Yahoo)

Bud Frogs, Meet Ranier Bear

BAKER LAKE, Wash. - When state Fish and Wildlife agents recently found a black bear passed out on the lawn of Baker Lake Resort, there were some clues scattered nearby — dozens of empty cans of Rainier Beer.

The bear apparently got into campers' coolers and used his claws and teeth to puncture the cans. And not just any cans. "He drank the Rainier and wouldn't drink the Busch beer," said Lisa Broxson, bookkeeper at the campground and cabins resort east of Mount Baker.

Fish and Wildlife enforcement Sgt. Bill Heinck said the bear did try one can of Busch, but ignored the rest. "He didn't like that (Busch) and consumed, as near as we can tell, about 36 cans of Rainier."

A wildlife agent tried to chase the bear from the campground but the animal just climbed a tree to sleep it off for another four hours. Agents finally herded the bear away, but it returned the next morning.

Agents then used a large, humane trap to capture it for relocation, baiting the trap with the usual: doughnuts, honey and, in this case, two open cans of Rainier. That did the trick.

"This is a new one on me," Heinck said. "I've known them to get into cans, but nothing like this. And it definitely had a preference."
Link (Yahoo)

California Kids Throw Rocks at 500 lb. Beehive.

LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters)

-- Kids throwing rocks stirred up more trouble than they bargained for when they dislodged a swarm of bees from an enormous hive built in the wall of a Southern California apartment building, authorities said on Friday.

An estimated 120,000 bees held residents of the apartment building and nearby homes hostage in Santa Ana, California after the children pelted their 500 pound (227 kg) hive with rocks on Thursday, Santa Ana Fire Captain Steve Horner said.

Several people, including firefighters, news reporters and a TV cameraman, reported being stung and at least two people were taken to a hospital with multiple stings, Horner said.

Firefighters cordoned off a four-block area to allow the bees to calm down and return to their hive. An exterminator later fogged the hive and vacuumed out 40,000 dead bees, then set a trap for returning worker bees, of which about 80,000 were captured, Horner said.

The quarter-ton honeycomb, which may have accumulated inside the apartment wall for years, was so big it was threatening the structural integrity of the two-story building, Horner said.
Link (CNN)

India Finds 1001 Uses for Condoms, Contraception Doesn't Make The List

Despite a population explosion and a growing AIDS problem, free condoms are being used in unusual ways, writes Rahul Bedi in New Delhi.

Millions of the condoms distributed free in India to combat AIDS and a soaring population are being used for other purposes such as waterproofing roofs, reinforcing roads and even polishing saris, say health workers.

In fact, only a quarter of the 1.5 billion condoms manufactured each year in India were being "properly utilised", said a report by doctors at King George's Medical University in Lucknow.

According to two university reports, rural villagers have used them as disposable water containers to wash, after relieving themselves in the fields. India's military have covered gun and tank barrels with condoms as protection against dust.

Of the 891 million condoms meant to be handed out free, a considerable proportion were acquired by road-building contractors who mixed them with concrete and tar and used the mixture to construct roads, rendering road surfaces smooth and resistant to cracks.

Builders spread a bed of condoms beneath cement plastering on roofs, ingeniously preventing water seepage during the monsoon rains.

Weavers in Varanasi used around 200,000 condoms a day to lubricate their looms and to polish the gold and silver thread used to embroider the saris they produced. Sari maker Yusuf Bhai said they purchased the condoms from agents, who reportedly acquired them from agencies involved in family planning and AIDS prevention schemes.

The Government began distributing free condoms in the 1960s to stem India's galloping population growth. The country's population stood at 1.03 billion on March 1, 2001, when the figure was last tabulated and is estimated to touch 1.46 billion by 2035, overtaking China's.
Link

"Deep Water Cooling" Program Starts in Toronto

Air cooled by the frigid waters deep in Lake Ontario started bringing relief to buildings in downtown Toronto on Tuesday after the valves were symbolically opened on the multi-million-dollar project.

The lake water is used to cool down other water that will then be used to lower the temperature in downtown buildings. The original water continues on into the city system, is treated and enters the drinking supply.

"[This is] clean, renewable, reliable energy. Compared to traditional air-conditioning, Deep Lake Water Cooling reduces electricity use by 75 per cent and will eliminate 40,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of taking 8,000 cars off of the streets of Toronto."

The company says that they have the capacity to air condition 100 office buildings or 8,000 homes — the equivalent of 32 million square feet of building space. They note that the cooling system reduces energy usage, freeing up megawatts from the Ontario's electrical grid, minimizes ozone-depleting refrigerants and reduces the amount of carbon dioxide entering the air.
Link (via SlashDot)

August 13, 2004

LinkNews Digest [8/13/2004]

Scientists Find Procrastination Gene, Promise to Map It Tomorrow

Using a new molecular genetic technique, scientists have turned procrastinating primates into workaholics by temporarily suppressing a gene in a brain circuit involved in reward learning. Without the gene, the monkeys lost their sense of balance between reward and the work required to get it. Like many of us, monkeys normally slack off initially in working toward a distant goal. They work more efficiently -- make fewer errors -- as they get closer to being rewarded. But without the dopamine receptor, they consistently stayed on-task and made few errors, because they could no longer learn to use visual cues to predict how their work was going to get them a reward.''
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) interested in this study, and its possible applications to mental disorders like OCD and Manias:
''This could lead to important discoveries that impact public health. In this case, it's worth noting that the ability to associate work with reward is disturbed in mental disorders, including schizophrenia, mood disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder, so our finding of the pivotal role played by this gene and circuit may be of clinical interest,'' suggested Richmond.

''For example, people who are depressed often feel nothing is worth the work. People with OCD work incessantly; even when they get rewarded they feel they must repeat the task. In mania, people will work feverishly for rewards that aren't worth the trouble to most of us.''
Link (ScienceBlog)

We all remember the National Institute of Mental Health, of course, for the great successes of intelligence augmentation expariments done on rats that was recorded in the documentary "The Secret of NIMH"


Flaming Hare Gets Even

LONDON (Reuters) - A rabbit set alight by a bonfire at a British cricket club got its revenge when it ran burning into a hut and set it ablaze destroying costly equipment, the club said on Friday.

Members of Devizes cricket club in Wiltshire, western England, were burning dead branches when a rabbit caught up in the waste sped burning from the flames spreading a fire which destroyed lawnmowers and tools worth 60,000 pounds ($110,000).

"After it had been going 5 minutes, the rabbit shot out of the bonfire on fire and went into the hut which is our equipment store," club chairman John Bedbrook told Reuters.

Two fire engines were called to extinguish the blaze. The rabbit's skeleton was discovered in the charred hut. "The firemen were certainly concerned about the rabbit. They felt sorry for it," said Bedbrook.
Link (Yahoo)

The Flip-Side of Athletic Sponsorship

Strict regulations published by Athens 2004 last week dictate that spectators may be refused admission to events if they are carrying food or drinks made by companies that did not see fit to sponsor the games.

Sweltering sports fans who seek refuge from the soaring temperatures with a soft drink other than one made by Coca-Cola will be told to leave the banned refreshment at the gates or be shut out. High on the list of blacklisted beverages is Pepsi, but even the wrong bottle of water could land spectators in trouble.

Fans will be allowed into the Olympic complex if they are drinking Avra, a Greek mineral water owned by Coca-Cola, which paid $60 million US for the privilege of being one of the main sponsors. Officials are under orders not to let in rival brands' bottles unless the labels are removed.

Staff will also be on the lookout for T-shirts, hats and bags displaying the unwelcome logos of non-sponsors. Stewards have been trained to detect people who may be wearing merchandise from the sponsors' rivals in the hope of catching the eyes of television audiences. Those arousing suspicion will be required to wear their T-shirts inside out.

Known as the "clean venue policy," the rules were drawn up by the Greeks and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to shield sponsors from so-called "ambush marketing" - an attempt to advertise items during the games without paying sponsorship fees.

The restrictions on food and drink are intended to ensure that only items made by official sponsors such as McDonald's and two Greek dairy firms are consumed at Olympic venues.

The main sponsors of the games have paid more than $1 billion in total for exclusive advertising rights and privileges, including the use of the Olympic logo under their brand names. It is not even possible to buy a ticket to the Olympics using a credit card other than Visa, which paid more than $30 million for its exclusive rights.
Link

German Engineers Develop Screen-Correcting Projector

Smart projectors are able to display correct images onto arbitrary existing screen surfaces, like wallpapered walls or window curtains. Thus it can function without an artificial canvas and consequently leaves a bit more freedom to us in the decision on how to arrange our living space. Our smart projectors combine camera feedback with structured light projection to gain information about the screen surface and the environment. The calibration of such a device is fast, fully automatic and robust, and the correction of video signals can be achieved in real-time. Neither geometry information nor projector or camera parameters need to be known. Instead, the entire calibration and correction (geometry and color) is done on a per-pixel level – supported by modern pixel shader hardware. Such devices might make it possible to convert your bookshelf into a TV screen, or your kid’s closet into an interactive virtual playground.
Link (via BoingBoing)

Check out the screenshots, this projector tweaks the color of the pixels, even the shape of the screen, in order to provide a consistent picture. Incredible.

The New Anti-Piracy Weapon: Ferrets

Just when you thought software licensing enforcement couldn't get any more fun, the copyright cops at the Business Software Alliance have enlivened the process with a spunky cartoon ferret.

The BSA--a trade group supported by Microsoft, Adobe Systems and other major software makers to enforce software licenses and copyrights--revealed the new mascot Tuesday as part of a national campaign to scare kids out of using peer-to-peer networks.

The "Play It Safe in Cyber Space" campaign will culminate with a four-page comic book, distributed in conjunction with tot journal the Weekly Reader, meant to impress kids with the idea that it's not OK to freely swap software, games, music and other copyrighted content.

The comic will feature the droopy-drawers ferret, who for now is referred to as the "Copyright Crusader." Kids are urged to help select his final name by submitting votes next month through the BSA's Web site.

The ferret, by the way, does seem to be an odd mascot choice for an organization devoted to strict legal adherence, given that the weasel-like mammals are outlawed in California and several other states.
Link

The Most Dangerous Food in Britain

GLASGOW, Scotland, Aug. 9 (UPI) -- "The Stonner", a 1,000-calorie, deep fried pork sausage kebab has been dubbed the most dangerous fast food in Britain. Sky News reported Monday the kebab contains 46 grams of fat and is double the calories of a Big Mac hamburger.

However, the Ruby Chip Shop in Glasgow, Scotland, that sells the kebab has provided a health warning to customers: "Due to the severe health damage of this fine dish, we can only supply one Stonner supper per customer per week," reads the sign provided by the restaurant's owner, Saei Sangag.

Neither the calories nor the health warning seems to be limiting the Stonner's sales. "They are flying out of the fryers," Sangag said. "Everyone loves going to the chippy and I was trying to think of something new."

Health officials, however, are not amused."This type of thing leads to poor health," said Michael Lean of the Glasgow Royal Infirmary. "It doesn't take a lot of common sense to see that it is a stupid thing to be producing."
Link (Washington Times)

For us Americans, note the second "n" in the name. It's probably called "the Stonner" after a "Stone", which is a measure of weight in the UK. Whereas a "stoner" is a pot smoker who might find this... "food"... almost palletable after a finishing a joint or two.

College Men Get Keg Research Grant

CLEVELAND (AP) - A trio of college fraternity buddies hopes to make it big with an idea that might appeal to a party host who winds up with a half-keg of warm, leftover beer and no ice.

"I've had people come up to me and say, 'That's a great idea. I'll buy one,'" said Adam Hunnell, 22, who pioneered the idea of inventing a portable cooling wrap to keep beer kegs cold on the beach, backyard or pickup truck.

Hunnell and two fellow West Virginia Wesleyan alumni and fraternity brothers, Aaron Noland and Nathan Slavin, both 23, are using a $20,000 entrepreneur grant to develop the "Keg Wrap," using their collective engineering, marketing and beer-drinking knowledge.

Hunnell, a graduate student at Cleveland's Case Western Reserve University, compared the Keg Wrap under development to a heating blanket which chills instead of warms. It would be powered with a plug that can be used with an electric socket or a car battery power source.

"It makes things a lot more convenient," said Hunnell, a native of Marianna, Pa., who is designing motor-home parts in Macon, Ga., while completing his physics entrepreneur program thesis requirement at Case.

Hunnell got the grant from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance to build a prototype at the urging of his Case mentor, Cyrus Taylor. Hunnell hopes to have a working prototype by year's end and hopes to price it at about $150. The target audience: beer distributors who would rent the Keg Wrap to keg buyers.

Rocky Kreutzer, who works for a suburban Maple Heights distributor that sells 40 to 50 kegs on a summer Saturday and 80 or 90 a day at graduation party time, thinks the Keg Wrap has potential, especially if the rental cost beats the estimated $15 ice expense.
Link (Yahoo)

Age Limit For Topless Bathers To Be Enforced

The Romanian police desperately want a ban to be imposed on women over 60 going topless on a stretch of beach because they feel that it could deter tourists from visiting the spot.

Constanta County is home to one of the Black Sea's top stretches of beach, and police say they have received several complaints about old women stripping off their clothes and basking in the sun.

"Going topless has its age limit and old women going topless should understand this," Ananova quoted police chief Victor Popescu as saying.

Moreover, the policemen patrolling the beach have admitted that the sight of old topless woman sickens them. (ANI)
Link

Who Wants To Be A Legal Citizen?

The contestants on "Gana la Verde" (Win the Green), a Spanish-language reality show that airs nightly on KRCA-TV Channel 62 in Los Angeles, jump through extraordinary hoops, eat disgusting "delicacies" and perform odd jobs, all in pursuit of the American dream.

No, that does not mean a cushy Trump Tower position or a nifty recording contract. The winner of this unscripted show walks away with a set of immigration lawyers, who for one year work to expedite the residency process. No guarantee of "la verde," though.

Since "Gana la Verde" premiered here on July 1, it has consistently reached an average of 1 million Hispanic households. Last week, the show was No. 2 among 18- to 49-year-old Hispanic viewers, the station's target audience, in its 7 p.m. time slot. Thus far, the show has gone unnoticed by immigration advocates, and the producers say they've have received no complaints.
Link

August 12, 2004

The Tao of Corporate Layoffs

In light of the recent news that my department will be having layoffs "before the end of the year" (Read: "Merry Christmas!"), I did some hard thinking on the issue. This idea has been coming to me slowly, since layoffs are not all that uncommon to any I.T. shop. I think I've finally found the zen of it all.

Corporate layoffs are like terrorism. It happens from time to time, and you simply can't stop them from happening. If you let the threat of the event control your life, so that you live in fear of it, they have alredy won. The odds are against it happening to you personally, so it's not productive to act as if you're sure it will be you. Just go about your business, but be vigilant and mindful of the risks. On the off chance that it does happen to you, you can deal with it then, but don't live every day as if it will happen tomorrow, because that wastes the time you have.

It feels better to have this handle on it.

August 06, 2004

LinkNews Digest [8/6/2004]

Tigger Acquitted of Molestation Charges

ORLANDO, Florida (AP) -- A Walt Disney World worker who portrayed the character Tigger was acquitted Wednesday of charges he fondled a 13-year-old girl while posing for a photo with the teen and her mother.

Jurors found Michael Chartrand not guilty of lewd and lascivious molestation, a felony, after deliberating for less than one hour. He had faced up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

Outside court, Chartrand, a native of England who lost his fiance and had been suspended without pay after his arrest, said he'd like his job back, but that the experience "has ruined my dream to be a character."

Disney spokesman Bill Warren said, "We can have a conversation with him, but at this point we really don't have a comment."

During closing arguments earlier Wednesday, a defense attorney donned a Tigger costume in the courtroom in an effort to show jurors how difficult it is to maneuver and see in the outfit.

Defense attorney Jeffrey Kaufman -- who also moonlights as Tigger and Goofy at Walt Disney World -- first strapped on Tigger's tail and then put on a neck cloth, the enormous orange-and-black striped head, and two large orange mitts to show jurors how the costume limits peripheral vision and arm movements.

Jurors said the tactic had no effect on their decision. "There was no evidence to convict," juror Zach Kauffman said. "They couldn't even prove who was behind the Tigger mask."
Link(CNN)

Acne Gene Squeezed from Human Genome

The newly completed genome sequence of the acne bacterium Propionibacterium acnes has revealed thousands of genes that give the organism the potential to cause skin disease.

Acne is a common and sometimes disfiguring complaint, affecting more than 80% of US adolescents. A number of factors are involved, including the bacterium and hormone levels.

But, until now, the importance of P. acne's role was unknown. Holger Brüggemann, who sequenced the microbe with colleagues at the Göttingen Genomics Laboratory, Germany, says it was simply thought that if a large number of bacteria were present, it would trigger the inflammation and immune response associated with acne.

The new genomic data shows that the bacterium can produce proteins that actively cause acne. “P. acnes was regarded as a normal, harmless skin inhabitant – it wasn’t known that this bacterium has got a disease-causing potential,” says Brüggemann.

The team sequenced the 2.5 million bases in the genome of a P. acnes strain and identified 2333 genes, including some which code for enzymes that break down human skin.

As well as highlighting risks, the P. acnes genome could also help develop new acne treatments. Severe acne is usually treated with common antibiotics, but many strains are becoming resistant to these. “With the genome sequence it’s now quite easy to generate specific drugs against this bacterium,” says Brüggemann. “That’s the next task.”
Link(New Scientist)

Internet Addicts Excused From Army

HELSINKI (Reuters) - A number of Finnish conscripts have been excused their full term of military service because they are addicted to the Internet, the Finnish Defense Forces said Tuesday.

Doctors have found the young men miss their computers too much to cope with their compulsory six months in the forces.

"For people who play (Internet) games all night and don't have any friends, don't have any hobbies, to come into the army is a very big shock," said Commander-Captain Jyrki Kivela at the military conscription unit.

"Some of (the conscripts) go to the doctor and say they can't stay. Sometimes, the doctors have said they have an Internet addiction," Kivela said.

There are no official figures for the Internet addict dropout rate.

"They get sent home for three years and after that they have to come back and we ask if they are OK ... they will have had time to grow up," Kivela said.
Link(Reuters/Yahoo)

I can see the argument now: "I can't go fight in Iraq! I've got to maintain my standings for Unreal Tournament!"

Hail of Stones "Follow" Woman

The only one who might be able to really sympathize with this woman is Rob McKenna, the reluctant "rain god" from Douglas Adams' Hithhiker Trilogy.
Thohoyandou - A Limpopo woman says she is being plagued by a hail of stones that follows her wherever she stays.

Miyi Shongi, 58, was kicked out of Lombani village by her terrified family and neighbours three weeks ago and moved in with relatives in Nhombelani village, 30km away near Malamulele, but the rain of stones followed her there too.

She believes a Zimbabwean trader has cast an evil spell on her, because she'd failed to pay for clothing she'd bought from the trader on credit.

"Maybe if the family contacts someone who deals with evil spirits, like a pastor, the problem will stop," he said. But Shongi's family booted her out, so she went to her in-laws in Nhombelani, but, two days later, the stones began falling again.

Shongi explained to them about the Zimbabwean trader and has since disappeared.

Limpopo sangoma Dr Eric "Hlatikhulu" Ngobeni said such spells were possible and advised the family to consult a powerful sangoma to break it. He also advised that Shongi should find the trader, apologise and pay her for the clothes.

Head of Bethesda Christian Church in Malamulele, Dr Elijah Mtileni blames demonic spirits for the phenomenon, and says only someone blessed with the Holy Spirit of God could solve Shongi's problem.
Link (via Fark)

"Were You Detectives Looking for THIS?"

Relatives of a missing Denver woman claim they found her body five minutes after being allowed back into her burned-out house that police had been investigating for a month.

Police found the body of an unidentified man on July 1 after being called to the property following a suspected arson attack, says the Denver Post. But they had still not found the body of 82-year-old Rose Miller when they allowed her neighbours and relatives back into the house last week.

Mike Boots, who was at the house on Friday, said they found a woman's body in a trunk covered in ceiling debris just minutes after arriving. He said: "You might as well give us badges and send us in on things like this."

Denver Manager of Safety Al Lacabe said he had no idea how police managed to miss the body, but he said criticism of his department was unfair.

A police spokesman said it was too early to say if the body was Miller's, or how long it had been in the house. He said: "We're not sure if it's her. They don't know who it is either, until we've conducted an autopsy.".
Link(Ananova)

1000 Year-Old Brewery Unearthed in Peru

MIAMI (Reuters) - U.S. researchers have unearthed what they say may be the oldest known brewery in the Andes, a pre-Incan plant at least 1,000 years old that could produce drinks for hundreds of people at one sitting.

The University of Florida said on Thursday that its archeologists and researchers from the Field Museum in Chicago found the brewery at Cerro Baul, a mountaintop religious center of the Wari empire that ruled what is now Peru hundreds of years before the Incas.

At least 20 ceramic, 10- to 15-gallon vats were found at the site some 8,000 feet up in the mountains of southern Peru. "You get the idea that this is massive production, not just your basic household making beer to consume by itself," Susan deFrance, an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Florida, said in a statement.

The brewery is thought to have produced "chicha," an alcoholic drink derived at the time mainly from a berry of the molle pepper plant. Modern chicha is made from corn. Last year University of Florida archeologists discovered what they think are halls for "ritual intoxication" at Cerro Baul, where Wari noblemen apparently feasted and drank.

Mike Moseley, associate chairman of anthropology at the university, said the halls "become a place where politics are negotiated and economic decisions are made." Williams said each nobleman would have consumed up to 2.6 gallons of chicha per ceremony.

The site appears to have been destroyed in a closing rite. The Wari burned the structures, threw their mugs into the embers and laid down a half-dozen necklaces of semiprecious stones as they left, said Moseley.
Sure, the Wari were fond of flaying foreigners alive, but MAN, can they ever throw a party!
Link(Yahoo)

Wobbly Road Caused by Map Creases

A county council claims wobbly lines that have appeared on a road it maintains are the result of creases in the map staff were trying to follow.

Hampshire County Council leader Ken Thorber now admits his council were wrong to claim initially that the lines at East Boldre in the New Forest were a safety measure, says the Express.

"I hold my hands up to it. It was a mistake and we will put it right," he said.

"What we really wanted was a simple straight parallel lines, one down each side of the road 480cm apart.

"Unfortunately there was a problem with the drawings which were badly folded and creases made some of the measurements look like 430cm and 420cm instead.

"The painter followed the instruction which resulted in a straight line down one side of the road and a wavy one down the other."
Link (Ananova)

Name That Stench, Win the Jackpot!

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Along with neon lights and casinos, the downtown area of Las Vegas has become known for the "Stench of Fremont Street" - and city officials are fed up.

"I'm not a connoisseur," said city engineer Charlie Kajkowski. "But it smells."

The stink emanating from the storm sewers has plagued the area around the Fremont Street pedestrian mall for a decade, and every time the city has thrown time, effort and deodorizer at the problem, the "sewer-type" aroma has just returned.

On Wednesday, City Council is to consider a $100,000 US consulting contract aimed at finding the source of the olfactory offence. A tiny closed-circuit television system would be used to examine the downtown storm drains, smoke would be pumped into the system to identify outlets and dye would be used to follow water flows.

"We've worked with this for like 10 years, and it has just cost money to have manpower out there to clean the pipes and use the industrial deodorizer," Kajkowski said. "If they find and clean it up, we won't have to mess with it anymore."

The storm drain smell has become more obvious since the city started scrubbing out alleys in April, said city manager Doug Selby.

"When you eliminate one odour, others that were masked by those odours become more apparent," he said.
Link

LaFayette, GA: "Home of the Exploding Trousers"

LaFAYETTE, Ga. - A Walker County man was charged with manufacturing methamphetamine after his pants exploded while he was talking to social services workers outside his home.

Daniel Gabriel Doyle, 39, met the social workers at his front door Tuesday, walked to their car and sat down to fill out some forms, said Patrick Stanfield, commander of the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Drug Task Force.

"Finally, while he was sitting in the back seat, the front of his pants exploded," Stanfield said Friday. He said Doyle apparently had mixed red phosphorous and iodine in a film canister and stuck it in his pocket.

The chemical reaction caused second- and third-degree burns to Doyle's testicles and leg, Sheriff's Maj. Hill Morrison said. He was treated at Erlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga, Tenn., before being jailed.
Link

My Brother, the Redcoat

I just have to share something amazing. My brother, Rob, was an extra in "The Patriot" with Mel Gibson. He played one of the scores of British soldiers with no lines, but luckily, he is noticeable on-screen in some of the tighter shots of the movie. When the Redcoats ambush Mel Gibson and crew, and the soldiers pop up from the bush, my brother is the blond one on the left who turns his head before firing (Which was how they were all supposed to do it). He's also just behind Mel & Jason Issacs as they trade threats inside the fort. I'd post screenshots if my PC could do it. Anyway, it's really great to see him in the film.

But that's not all. Due to said film role, My brother now has His Own IMDB Page! How cool is that?

August 02, 2004

Spoiled Fairy Tales

For each person, there is one defining moment in which they realize that they have almost nothing in common with today's youth. For me, that day came on Friday.

Melissa and her friend, Frances, were going out to the movies, and I (was) volunteered to babysit the kids. My son, Matthew, is 2 1/2, and Frances brought Marvin (also 2 1/2) and Sarah, who was nine. They took off to diner and the movie, while I ordered a pizza for the masses. I felt like an idiot having the place deliver one large pizza, since the place was only a 3/4 of a mile up the road, but I couldn't pack them all in the car for such a short trip. It arrived 15 minutes later and I gave the boy a full tip, all the same.

The little ones ate half of their pizza and went into the next room to watch a "Wiggles" tape, leaving Sarah and me to talk as we finished up. She was a very observant girl, at that precarious age that grants children enough intelligence to think for themselves, but not enough wisdom yet to make good decisions. It's this sudden realization of intelligence that makes them despise their parents for telling them what to do. Well, that and the slow-simmering frustration when the parents end up being right.

One of the earliest lessons that new parents learn is that children rarely play with toys as they are intended. The commercials suggest mind-expanding activities and structured playtime, complete with storytelling elements, but the reality is quite different. For example, we bought a musical block set for Matthew. The idea is that he'd put the multi-colored blocks in different slots of the base and make all kinds of music. In reality, he just stacks the blocks in a tower, says "oh NO!" and knocks them all down. Matthew really likes that sort of thing. He's like "Stitch" from the Disney movie, building San Francisco and destroying it Godzilla-style.

True to form, Matthew emptied the two sets of "Baby Einstein" flash cards that we bought him onto the floor and scattered them around. He backed up, got a running start, and ran full-steam over the patch of laminated cards, effectively making the carpet into one large "Slip & Slide." To our dismay, this game never gets old with him. He might occasionally turn up a card under his shoe and correctly identify a picture of a cow, but they're mostly used as a wipeout track.

It was a chore putting the two year-olds to bed, since they had different bedtimes, and Marvin didn't have his stuffed lobster. Without it, he just ran around in the spare bedroom sobbing and sounding like a mitre saw attempting to cut through a Buick. When their cries settled down to the defeated whimpers of bedtime acceptance, Sarah asked to watch our DVD of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."

I had loved this movie since I was a child, and I was pleased that she liked it as well. Thirty seconds before each plot point, she told me what was going to happen next, and I played along, seeming to be surprised. Seeing this film through her eyes filled me with parental joy that only a child's perspective can give. But it didn't last.

As the characters all entered The Chocolate Room where "everything is eat-able", she marveled at it, saying "Wow, if I had a place like that, I'd do nothing but eat candy for the rest of my life!" I grinned, having thought the same thing when I was young. Then Sarah added "But it would have to be low-carb."

Poof. Happy nostalgia, gone. I didn't know what a carb was until I was at least 17, and then it was only because I got bored and read the nutritional information panel on a can of Coke. I didn't know to limit them until I was 26. But Sarah, aged only nine years, dreams of a chocolate paradise with a dietary disclaimer.

This simple statement brought the wide swath of time between us to light. The world had changed since I was young. Even the shared experience of a classic children's film was viewed so differently by her that it destroyed the illusion. I am only 30, but I felt every year of difference between us like weights on my shoulder.

At the end of the movie, Sarah said "I think this movie was made, like, a REALLY long time ago."

"Yes, it was," I replied.

"Like, 1990 or something."

I winced, and went to check the box. "No, it was made in 1971. That's even before *I* was born," I said. "WOW," came her reply.

We played cards until her mother came to pick them up.