February 28, 2005

Photographer Opinions

Let it never be said that photographers can't express their opinions. Bush visited the country of Bratislava last week...(AFP/Joe Klamar)

AJC Article

FYI, my previous post "Clear and Present Danger" was published in the Gwinnett section of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution yesterday. It ran under the horrible headline "Silly balloon a big bother at airport." Those of you not living in Gwinnett can read the on-line version. (AJC.com requires registration, so I copied it locally.)

February 25, 2005

Zombie Night

The wifey is off this weekend for a Women's retreat with our church, so it's just Me and my little man. And Justin, and Phil, and a stack of Zombie horror flicks.

Phil is a horror author/screenwriter, and Justin has seen nearly every horror movie ever made, so I need to get caught up. We're starting at noon on Satruday and going until the movies and/or beer run out. Justin is bringing the movies, Phil is bringing the good non-American beer (kind of redundant, I know), and I provide the theater and food.

Don't worry about Matthew. He really likes scary stuff, and we'll save the scary zombie flicks until he's in bed, and just watch the funny ones.

LinkNews Digest [02/25/2005]

Polar to the People

BELFAST (Reuters) - In a bizarre celebration of Belfast's industrial heritage, a Northern Ireland artist is planning to tow an iceberg to the city that built the Titanic.

Rita Duffy, who says the iceberg would represent a dramatic piece of "performance art" as it slowly melted in Belfast Lough, is working on a feasibility study with a local filmmaker before seeking funding for the project she hopes will happen in 2008.

Duffy says she is keeping the finale of her project a secret, but believes the iceberg could be a symbol of hope in a city scarred by decades of sectarian division. "It comes from the story of the Titanic ... some people might see it in bad taste and I suppose some might find it amusing, but I actually see it as a deeply serious project," she added.
LINK
For her next project, she reportedly plans to "sculpt" the clouds over Hiroshima, Japan in the shape of a mushroom. You know, to heal the past and stuff.

Russia (who else?) Develops "Stay-Drunk Pill"

Russian scientists have developed a product that can keep a person drunk, Britain’s Daily Telegraph wrote.

The tablet called RU-21 Red was developed in Spirit Sciences, a laboratory based in California but with research facilities in Russia. The same scientists had earlier worked on secret programs for the Kremlin and had made the famous RU-21 product that cures hangovers.

The Red contains grapevine extracts intended to slow down the oxidation of alcohol and keep the user drunk. “I’m not sure I’m going to market it in the U.S.A. I don’t want it to become a party drug. We are for responsible drinking,” Chiabery said.
LINK

The Q-Man to Direct CSI Finale

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Call it "Kill Gil." Quentin Tarantino has signed to direct the season-finale episode of primetime's most-watched series, CBS' "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation." Tarantino also has come up with an original story for the episode, which is expected to shoot in early April and air May 19, according to "CSI" executive producer Carol Mendelsohn.

Tarantino has long been a fan of the stylish forensic drama as series creator/executive producer Anthony Zuiker learned when he bumped into Tarantino at an awards show during "CSI's" first season. They have pursued him to direct an episode for some time, and after members of the "CSI" crew ran into Tarantino a few weeks ago while the show was doing some location shooting in Las Vegas, the stars finally aligned for him to helm the show's fifth-season closer, Mendelsohn said.
LINK
Sample Dialogue: "Hmm... large caliber handgun, maybe a .38... And from all the bullet holes in this wall, you'd think he'd hit once, especially at that range. It's like the hand of God came down and stopped the bullets!"

The Onion Reports: Bush Determined To Find Warehouse Where Ark Of Covenant Is Stored

WASHINGTON, DC—In a surprise press conference Monday, President Bush said he will not rest until the warehouse where the Ark of the Covenant, the vessel holding the original Ten Commandments, is located. "Nazis stole the Ark in 1936, but it was recovered by a single patriot, who braved gunfire, rolling boulders, and venomous snakes," Bush said, addressing the White House press corps. "Sadly, due to bureaucratic rigmarole, this powerful, historic relic was misplaced in a warehouse. Mark my words: We will find that warehouse." Bush added that, after they are strengthened by the power of the Ark, U.S. forces will seek out and destroy the sinister Temple of Doom.
(link)

When geeks talk about "pimping their ride", it usually means putting spinner hubcaps on their 1994 Buick LeSabre. Or worse, they might do this! Adds new meaning to the phrase "Rollin' with my homies."



Some Engineering Students at UCSC created this 4-story mural to Super Mario Bros. using colored Post-It notes.Link



For the Scorned Woman or Voodoo Priestess who likes to keep a tidy kitchen, here's a real conversation piece: The Knife Block by ViceVersa.
Link (via Gizmodo)



February 24, 2005

Song of the South Released?

(Unconfirmed) Disney to release Uncle Remus from Bondage

I just got word that Buena Vista Home Entertainment will be releasing "Song of the South" on DVD in the Fall of 2006.

That's right. "Song of the South." The Academy Award winning film that former Disney Feature Animation head Thomas Schumacher once told Roger Ebert was on "permanent moratorium" has reportedly been greenlit for release late next year. A special 60th anniversary edition that -- thanks to a plethora of extra features -- will try & put this somewhat controversial motion picture in historial context.

"Why -- after all these years -- did Disney finally give in?," you query. It's simple, really. "Song of the South" 's 60th anniversary was simply too good a promotional hook for the Mouse's marketing staff to pass up. More to the point, Buena Vista Home Entertainment could really use a hit right about now.

"But aren't Disney Company execs concerned about how the African American community may response to 'Song of the South' 's release of DVD?," you continue. Yep. I won't lie to you folks. There's a lot of people in the Team Disney Burbank building who are very concerned that -- by releasing this much maligned motion picture on home video & DVD -- that the Mouse House is potentially opening itself up to a ton of bad publicity.

With the hope of avoiding that, BVHE reportedly plans to really pile on the extra features with "Song of the South." Among the ideas currently being knocked around is producing a special documentary that -- through use of clips from that TV movie version of Rodgers & Hammerstein's "Cinderella" that Disney produced back in 1997 as well as sequences from "The Proud Family" & "That's So Raven" -- would demonstrate that a person's color really doesn't matter at the modern Walt Disney Company. There's also talk of including Walt Disney Feature Animation's seldom-seen short, "John Henry," as one of the disc's special features.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment is also supoosedly toying with approaching a prominent African-American performer to serve as the MC on the DVD version of "Song of the South."
LINK

Now all the young visitors to DisneyWorld will know what that whole "Splash Mountain" ride is about.

Ron vs "Dave"

I have some updates about my father-in-law's age discrimination lawsuit. To catch people up, Last year, Ron was fired from "L" Company for the unforgivable crime of nearing retirement age in a corporation. As a result, each and every client that Ron worked with now refuses to do business with "L" Company. Apparently, this is hurting the company pretty bad, because after ignoring him for a year, they came to him with an offer:

"If you meet with your former clients and assure them that you and the company have worked things out, we might be more inclined to make a deal," they said. Ron considered this, then replied. "Fine, but if they ask me any questions, I won't lie to them."

Needless to say, they didn't agree to that. Another great lead was uncovered last month: The manager who let him go actually did his Management Thesis on the topic of "Reducing Costs by Downsizing Retirement-Age Employees." (Yeah, him and the other 50,000 people who got MBA's that year...) We're currently trying to get our hands on that thesis, as it would prove an interesting read.

February 21, 2005

Nocturnal Remissions

Over the past year, our son has changed his morning wake-up routine. Before he could talk very well, he'd squeeze the paw of his "Blue's Clues" dog to make it play the theme song. He somehow knew that we kept a baby monitor next to the nightstand that was turned up loud enough to hear his breathing. So needless to say, the sudden, loud piano music woke Melissa up quite effectively. After he learned to talk more, he started to call for Mommy when he wanted out of the crib.

Last fall, we converted his crib into a day-bed, so he isn't trapped anymore. He is quite good with door knobs, so when he wakes up now, he's free to get out of bed and open his door. Usually, he gets into bed with Melissa and lays there for a bit. Of course, he has to ferry all of his stuffed animals from his bed to our bed in order to do this. Now Melissa wakes up to this every morning:

Mumbling in the baby monitor. Shuffle *CLICK* shuffle.
Thwump. (stuffed Mickey, Tigger and Oddball the Dalmation are thrown onto the bed)
Shuffle shuffle, Thwump. ("Blue" and Jay-Jay the Jet Plane land on the bed)
Squeak-Creak Rustle rustle. (Matthew climbs into bed and gets under the covers)
"Mommy?"
"Morning, kiddo."
Rustle, hug, cuddle, rustle.
Blink blink. (Matthew glances at the stuffed pig that Melissa sleeps with.)
"Mommy?"
"Mmmm?"
Point, prod. "Mamu's Pig?" (He can't pronounce "Matthew" yet.)
"No, Mommy's pig."
"Mamu's pig." Grin.
"No...MOMMY's pig."

This sometimes goes on for a while, until Matthew decides that they've been in bed long enough, and wakes Melissa up fully.

Last night, however, we heard this wake-up routine start up at 3:00 AM. He refused to go back to sleep in his own bed, so he crawled up between us, with the stuffed menagerie in tow. The good news is that he fell asleep quickly. The bad news is that he has a Nocturnal Active Perimeter System (N.A.P.S.) that kicks anything that touches him while he's asleep. Just like Mommy. And since mommy had a compatible NAPS system, she automatically shifted position to keep Matthew's legs away from her, and direct them towards me. I'll try to illustrate this with some ASCII ART (Melissa on Left, Chris on Right):
Phase 1 - 2 Parental Units. Perimeter Safe
| |
| |

Phase 2 - Additional unit inserted. Perimeter breached.
|||
|^|

Phase 3 - Adjustment complete: Offending appendages of unit re-directed.
\\|
< |


Any good father will tell you that there's no wake up call quite like a kick in the family jewels. Doubly so if it happens three times in a night. They'll also tell you that a kid's cuteness while they sleep is a SURVIVAL trait. Otherwise, our young would not live to see age four, and we'd be a short-lived species.

February 16, 2005

Hello Reaper

From Japan: Nothing says "slave to commercialism from cradle to grave" like a "Hello Kitty" tombstone.

February 15, 2005

Movies with Bunnies


If you've never seen Titanic, The Shining, Jaws, The Exorcist, It's a Wonderful Life or Alien re-enacted in 30 seconds by cartoon bunnies, then I just don't know my audience. Go watch them NOW. It'll only take 3 minutes. Go ahead, I'll wait.

For halloween last year, the Starz! cable channel comissioned them to make 30-second versions of Scream, Freddy vs. Jason and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. This met with such success that Starz has signed them on to do more re-creations including: The The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Pulp Fiction, Highlander, The Big Chill, Clerks, The Karate Kid, Thelma & Louise, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Night of the Living Dead and Weird Science.

It may be gratuitous, but I can't wait to hear the inevitable "I love you Hunny Bunny."

Retro Tech

It might seem cliche, like a record player in a car, but the PlusDeck 2 is a cassette player that you plug into a 5" bay on your computer. At $150, it's a little steep, but it all depends on your situation. Me, I'm a music fanatic who has hundreds of cassette tapes just lying around in my closet. We don't even have a tape player in the house anymore, save for my son's "The Wiggles Sing-Along Player". There are some very cool songs on those tapes that I want to get ripped to MP3, but it would be such a huge effort, I never do it. And I'm definitely not going to re-purchase these on CD or through iTunes. So as silly as it may seem at first, I'm actually considering it.

Plus, it would look pretty cool wedged into a floppy drive bay of my Computer (SHAFT3). That and the satisfying feeling of slapping in a cassette, complete with that big CLICK. Remember when we could do that with our recordings? All this gentle auto-loading of these delicate CD/DVD discs feels so wussy in comparison. Loading a tape deck is like slapping a clip into a gun, or at least the closest thing most of us will ever get to it.

February 14, 2005

A V-Day to Remember

Ahhh... The day of love is here. Or at least the day of commercial guilt-tripping. Just diamond companies saying "Can you put a price on your love? We sure think so. Ladies, your man doesn't REALLY love you unless he devotes two months salary (per year) to buy you something sparkly that south african peasants pulled from the ground."

The holiday is built around deception. Why act like we're a character out of a Jane Austen novel one day a year, when we mainly ask each other "does this thing have a head on it"? Melissa and I are realists with a sick sense of humor, and we love it. So we have a different approach to all of this V-Day madness: We find the cheesiest, sappiest, most commercial of the Valentine's Day cards and merchandise, and spoil them with our personalizations. For example, the first Valentine's day we were together (1 month after we hooked up in Savannah), I made a nice card for her that read:
Yes, love was in the air that fateful night in Savannah...
...along with carbon monoxide, smoke from the paper mill, and that mysterious smell wafting up from the waterfront."
In keeping with this realism, I offer this: What could be more heart-felt than a Worth1000 Valentine's Day Photohop Contest?

February 11, 2005

LinkNews Digest [02/11/2005]

You Know The Movie is Bad when...

National Lampoon will release their new Vince Vaughn comedy pic 'Blackball'on DVD just four days after its thetrical premiere, according to Reuters.

With a majority of a film's revenue now coming from the DVD release, it only makes sense for film marketers to capitalize on the theatrical marketing push. While this is the shortest window so far, several holiday-themed pics rushed to market over the holiday season (Surviving Christmas, etc.).

As many DVD marketers know, generating enthusiasm for a title the second time around can be expensive and time consuming. This is especially true for B-titles and poor theatrical performers. It makes sense from a ROI standpoint to more closely integrate the marketing for select low-to-mid level performers.
LINK

Sliders for V-Day>

Looking for Valentine dinner reservations she'll remember-always? Tell your sweetheart you have reservations for dinner in-Cincinnati. When you pull into the White Castle parking lot, she'll definitely be surprised.

White Castle restaurants in Cincinnati are accepting reservations for dinner by candlelight. You'll receive table service complete with wait staff, from 5 to 8 p.m. Valentine's Day, Feb. 14. In addition to the 26-Cincinnati White Castles, Northern Kentucky participating restaurants are in Covington, Florence, Erlanger and Walton.
LINK

"Pull Up Those Pants, BOY!"

RICHMOND, Va. - Virginians who wear their pants so low their underwear shows may want to think about investing in a stronger belt. The state's House of Delegates passed a bill Tuesday authorizing a $50 fine for anyone who displays his or her underpants in a "lewd or indecent manner."

Del. Lionell Spruill Sr., a Democrat who opposed the bill, had pleaded with his colleagues to remember their own youthful fashion follies. During an extended monologue Monday, he talked about how they dressed or wore their hair in their teens. On Tuesday, he said the measure was an unconstitutional attack on young blacks that would force parents to take off work to accompany their children to court just for making a fashion statement.

"This is a foolish bill, Mr. Speaker, because it will hurt so many," Spruill said before the measure was approved 60-34. It now goes to the state Senate. The bill's sponsor, Del. Algie T. Howell, has said constituents were offended by the exposed underwear. He did not speak on the floor Tuesday.
LINK

Cuba Bans Smoking in Public

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba, which evokes images of cigar-chomping revolutionaries, banned smoking in public places on Monday, an uphill struggle in a country synonymous with fine tobacco where more than half of adults smoke.

Cubans are no longer allowed to smoke in air-conditioned areas, offices, schools and sports centers in an island-wide health drive by President Fidel Castro's government. Castro, once a famous aficionado of Cohiba cigars, gave up smoking two decades ago to safeguard his health.

But many Cubans continue to be heavy smokers and it is common to find people smoking in hospitals, elevators and even crowded buses, despite previous attempts to curb the habit. Cigarette vending machines have been banned outright as part of the drive. State-run bars and restaurants must set up separate smoking areas, although few have done so yet.
LINK

"I'd give my left nut..."

LONDON (Reuters) - A Welsh rugby fan cut off his own testicles to celebrate Wales beating England at rugby, the Daily Mirror reported Tuesday.

Geoff Huish, 26, was so convinced England would win Saturday's match he told fellow drinkers at a social club, "If Wales win I'll cut my balls off," the paper said. Friends at the club in Caerphilly, south Wales, thought he was joking. But after the game Huish went home, severed his testicles with a knife, and walked 200 yards back to the bar with the testicles to show the shocked drinkers what he had done. Huish was taken to hospital where he remained in serious condition, the paper said.

Wales's 11-9 victory over England at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff was their first home win over England in 12 years.
LINK
This is the root meaning of the word "Testify": To put one's balls literally on the line.

Stealth Army Pizza Delivery Foiled

LONDON (Reuters) - A British army pilot has been disciplined by senior officers for using a tank-busting helicopter to deliver a pizza to his girlfriend.

The pilot, based with Britain's 659 Army Air Corps squadron in Suffolk, eastern England, was on a map-reading training drill when he dropped off the pizza to his girlfriend who was taking part in an exercise 30 miles away.

"The opportunity to add a light-hearted element to the planned sortie was taken but with no detriment to the sortie objective," a UK defense ministry spokeswoman told Reuters. "The chain of command do not condone these actions and have disciplined the individuals concerned."
LINK

This "Sortie Objective" was part of the soldier's ongoing mission in "Operation: Third Base."

The Terrible Threes

Matthew turns three today. I'll skip most of the mushy stuff, but his age was put into perspective for me last night.

Last year, Miho and her friend Miki visited us, and videotaped a great deal of Matthew. To these girls' Asian sensibilities, I'm sure Matthew's blond hair and blue eyes and round face is something unusual, but they found him very cute, that's for sure. Otherwise, they wouldn't have taped 3 1/2 hours of material on him. Miho gave us the tape when she came over this year, and we watched it last night.

Matthew eating lunch in the food court (the whole meal). Matthew watching "My Neighbor Totoro". Matthew walking around Zoo Atlanta, pointing at animals. Then came the kicker: Matthew's 2nd birthday, almost in it's entirety. Everything from the singing of Happy Birthday to the opening of each present. It was an amazing thing to watch. We were so busy with the party itself that I didn't remember that the girls had taped it.

That is why we don't own a video camera. Sure, we miss the occasional cute situation, but we have a digital camera to capture nearly everything. I've found that a video camera brings you out of the moment so much that you don't really experience it the first time around. Case and point was a trip to DisneyWorld that we took with Craig & Heather (pre-Matthew). They were always arguing about who would hold it and if the person with the camera was getting what the other one wanted on tape. One of them was always experiencing the park solely through the viewfinder. They didn't enjoy themselves nearly as much as Mel and I did on that trip.

It goes doubly so with videos of children. I want to actually participate in my son's milestone activities, like birthday parties. I don't want to watch it from the sidelines, worrying about the lighting or prompting people to do something for the camera's sake. I prefer photographs to video anyway. Photos are points in a storyboard of an event, and you actively relay the underlying story to people instead of just pushing PLAY and sitting back. Anyway, that's my two cents.

Back to the video. Since they don't have children themselves, or see Matthew on a daily basis, each action was a wonder. Each word was hung upon, and even the times they had to tell him "NO" were laughed at. Being human, we tend to quickly take for granted things that happen every day. The sun coming up, gravity holding us down, the water currents of the ocean that keep our temperatures warm. We tend only to realize how much we need things until they are gone. So to Miho and Miki, I'm thankful for this video. With it, I have seen my son through others' eyes, and I can appreciate Matthew's childhood while he's still in it.

February 09, 2005

Copyrights in Public Parks

The Reader recounts the experience of photojournalist Warren Wimmer's attempts to photograph Anish Kapoor's sculpture, Cloud Gate (more commonly known as "the Bean"). When Wimmer set up his tripod and camera to shoot the sculpture, security guards stopped him, demanding that they show him a permit. Wimmer protested, replying that it's absurd that one needs to pay for a permit to photograph public art in a city-owned park.

Ben Joravsky, the author of the Reader article, attempted to contact park officials for an explanation and received a response from Karen Ryan, press director for the park's project director:"The copyrights for the enhancements in Millennium Park are owned by the artist who created them. As such, anyone reproducing the works, especially for commercial purposes, needs the permission of that artist."
Link (via BoingBoing)

It's a public sculpture, placed in the middle of a public park. But the piece is a copyrighted work, and therefore, taking pictures of it constitutes copyright infringement. What a sham. (1) The Artist already got a few million for the piece being commissioned in the first place. (2) He pays nothing to have his work displayed VERY prominently in a high-traffic area. It's basically the city's biggest, shiniest artist's business card. (3) Upkeep of the work is paid with public funds. (4) The public pays for security guards to go around protecting this artist's cash flow, in the form of paid licenses.

To the local official who agreed to this, I quote Alex Bragg: "I know it LOOKS like you can fit two rocks in the crack pipe, but SERIOUSLY, just the one."

Bush: The Float

Photo of the day: Gotta love those wacky Duesseldorf-ians!

(Photo AFP/DDP/Volker Hartmann)

February 04, 2005

LinkNews Digest [02/04/2005]

Alleged US Hostage Confirmed as "G.I. Joe"

BAGHDAD, Iraq - The U.S. military said Tuesday that no U.S. soldiers were known to be missing in Iraq after Iraqi militants claimed in a Web statement to have taken a soldier hostage and threatened to behead him.

“No units have reported anyone missing,” said Staff Sgt. Nick Minecci of the U.S. military's press office in aghdad. Doubts were also raised about the authenticity of a photograph posted on the Web site, which the militants claimed depicted the kidnapped soldier. A toy manufacturer said the figure in the photo resembled one of its military action figures, originally produced for sale at U.S. bases in Kuwait.

The figure in the photo, who the statement said was named “John Adam,” appeared stiff and expressionless. Liam Cusack, of the toy manufacturer Dragon Models USA Inc., said it bore a striking resemblance to the African-American version of its “Cody” action figure.

“It is our doll,” Cusack told the AP. “Everything the guy is wearing is exactly what comes with our figure.”
LINK

Georgia's Groundhog to Retire

LILBURN, Georgia (AP) -- After 15 years as the South's favorite furry forecaster, the groundhog known as Gen. Beauregard Lee may be hanging up his weather vane.

Old age could force the critter known as Beau into retirement before the next Groundhog Day rolls around, said Art Rilling, founder of the Yellow River Game Ranch outside Atlanta where Beau lives. "He's getting a little slower, sleeping in a little later, getting a little fatter," Rilling said. "This could be his last Groundhog Day."

He did not see his shadow when he emerged Wednesday morning amid light rain, forecasting an early spring. The prognostication differed from the forecast of the world's most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, in Pennsylvania. Phil saw his shadow, suggesting another six weeks of wintry weather.

At 15, Beau already has lived the life of at least five groundhogs, which have a life expectancy of two to three years. His predecessor and uncle, Gen. Robert E. Lee, gave the Groundhog Day predictions for 10 years before retiring.

If he leaves, Beau would take with him a 97 percent accuracy rate. His prognosticating prowess has earned him honorary doctorate degrees from the University of Georgia and Georgia State University.
LINK

Sanyo Employees Ordered to Buy Company Products

Japan's third-largest consumer electronics maker, Sanyo Electric Co Ltd, is asking employees to buy its products to help limit what is expected to be its biggest net loss ever this business year. Executives have been asked to spend up to 2 million yen ($19,290), division chiefs 500,000 yen and other employees 200,000 yen on Sanyo products, which include televisions, refrigerators, mobile phones and insurance.

"This is not the first time that we've conducted the 'buy Sanyo campaign'. The campaign is to have employees buy Sanyo products, as well as to invite friends and family to do the same," said company spokesman Ryan Watson.

Sanyo's earnings have been hit hard by an earthquake in the Niigata region, 250 km (155 miles) north of Tokyo, last October that forced it to suspend operations at chip-making subsidiary Niigata Sanyo Electronic Co due to structural damage.
LINK

Video Game Thwarts Robbery

(12/11/04 – SANTA FE, TX) — A video game notorious for violence and mature content may have actually saved a Santa Fe family.

Back in March, Sandy Wilson was taking care of her three grandsons when a group of men attempted to burglarize her home, pointing a gun at the kids.

The children happened to be playing a video game called Grand Theft Auto at the time. The game has dozens of random police scanner messages, which blare out calls such as "This is the police! You’re surrounded!" Believe it or not, Wilson says the burglars heard that message and thought police were outside the door waiting for them.

Galveston County Asst DA Michael Elliott explained, "The police in the game were staying, 'Stop, we have you surrounded. This is the police.’ The burglar, unknowingly, thought this was the actual police and panicked ... being apprehended by Playstation."
LINK (Thanks to Justin)

Scientists Discover Pokemon Causes Cancer

A central problem in combating cancer has been its molecular complexity; each cancer cell has numerous mutated genes contributing to the disease. However, a study, funded in part by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), which appears in the January 20 Nature identifies a new cancer gene, named Pokemon, that may act as a master switch. Pokemon is an oncogene, a gene that can cause normal cells to become cancerous when mutated, but its role is unique in that it controls the activity of other oncogenes.

"Pokemon is a main switch in the molecular network that leads toward cancer," said senior author Dr. Pier Paolo Pandolfi of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). "If we could turn Pokemon off, it may block this circuitry and stall the malignant process."
LINK

February 03, 2005

Return of the Furby


In light of recent news that Furby Mk II will arive on toy store shelves later this year, here's one from the vaults: The results of an evening of "Furby-sitting" for Melissa in 1998.




The Furby” by Chris Kern (with apologies to Edgar Allan Poe)

Once upon a midnight dreary, While I pondered, weak and weary
Over many a strange and curious Bond film starring one Roger Moore --
In the house, the phone unringing, suddenly there came a pinging,
As if something gently singing, singing at my apartment door.
"Darn cats," I muttered, "crying at the bedroom door--
Only this, and nothing more."

But the clumsy cats persistence, never showed the least resistance,
"They sound upset and listless, like they've ne’er been fed before."
By now, my doubt was coming over, was it the cats, or something other?
The sound was not feline, nor was it that Roger Moore.
"Mayhap a stray delivery boy, chanting at my apartment door.
This it is, and nothing more."

Presently, I became suspicious, of men delivering foods delicious
"I ordered not a thing," said I, "You must have the wrong floor.
Sorry I didn't answer quicker, but, sir, I've been getting sicker,
It’s sure bad for your ticker, this drink of fruit liqueur.
I thought it was my felines..."--here I opened up the door;--
Darkness there and nothing more.

Back into my dwelling walking, all within me set to gawking,
Soon I heard the timid talking, inside the room, it was for sure!
"Surely, that's my cat, that is, sitting in the window lattice,
Let me see then, what cat that is, and shove it to the floor.
The cats should not be up there, that’s a thing they know for sure.
‘Tis my cat, and nothing more."

I opened up the window dressing, my shorts and trousers almost messing,
For there sat a fuzzy creature like I'd never seen before.
Bulging eyes it had, with lashes, and hair as gray as funeral ashes,
And little blackened patches on the coat of fur it wore.
A chest and tail of pink, as well the mane that lifted o'er--
And a beak that hungered more.

Then this obtuse beast, beguiling, my sad fancy into smiling,
By the sheer absurdity of colors that it bore.
"Though, your voice is surely scathing, thou art no mere children's plaything,
Of the e-toys solely aiding capitalism at it's very core.
Tell me what thy odious name is, that in your chips you store."
Quoth the Furby, "Me May-May!"

Startled by the silence broken by reply so strangely spoken,
"No doubt," said I, "What it spoke was all it has in store.
You were made somewhere in Asia, or Japan, or e'en Malaysia,
Until auctions had appraised ya, for $200 or more!"
I then picked up the creature, for I'd never seen before.
Quoth the Furby, "Ah-may ko-ko!"

Then, methought, darkness grew thicker, as if a basket made of wicker
Or the collar of a vicar, strangled the lamplight flowing o'er.
"Toy!" said I, "Tiger has sent thee--by these manuals you hath lent me,
You surely are the envy of any toy that came before.
But what dark purpose hath you, to come knocking at my door?
Quoth the Furby, "Wee-tee kah way-loh!"

"Gremlin!" said I, "Demonic An'mal! Creature strange, if bird or mammal,
I'll undo your bottom panel, to spill thy batt'ries on the floor!
Then you will not have the ability, to converse with such agility,
Return my calm tranquility! I will hear your words no more!"
But I had no head of Phillips, to undo his batt’ry door.
Quoth the Furby, "May-may toh-loo tickle!"

Remark the Furby, on it chatters, singing, snoring, without manners,
To the point of burps and blatters, Till it gets to be a bore.
When my wife, from far returning, smells a fire of something burning,
She will know I've quenched a yearning, something at my very core.
And once the Furby ceases twitching, I will surely stop my bitching,
For I'll have scratched an evil itching, as I'd never known before.
And it will speak--ah, nevermore!

February 02, 2005

Old Skool

It's a sad day when you realize you're talking like your parents. Some friends of ours invited us over for dinner, and I became middle-aged on the spot. Reality can be a harsh mistress.

Justin has been my friend since high school, and until last year, he's kept a bachelor pad. Then he met Stacey, while he was wearing a kilt for a friend's wedding in Florida. Long story short, Stacey and her three kids are now living with Justin in the house. When they had us over for dinner last night, the place had, without a doubt, been made-over by Stacey and her daughter to be a family sort of place.

[For the purposes of this blog, the children are Jen (17), Pete (12) and Mike (9)]

Jen was out studying when we sat down to dinner. The adults sat at the table while Pete and Mike ate in front of the TV. Of course, it took us longer to eat, since we were talking. When the boys were done, they kept on coming in and out of the kitchen, looking for more food and muttering street talk.

"The kids here talk a bit more 'urban' than my boys were used to, and they have picked it up," said Stacey, with a flat grin. You know the type. The one that all parents make when they've tried everything.

I was telling Miho some of the history between Justin and I when Pete came in talking to himself. "Old school..." Pete said, interrupting. "Old school..." Nothing else. Not saying anything WAS Old School, but just repeating the word. A dangling hip-hop adjective. My mouth let go of the clutch before my brain was in gear. "Do you even know what 'Old School' is?" I scolded. "It's stuff from MY era. In an 'Old School' corporal punishment is approved, and they'd swat your butt with a paddle for talking out of turn!"

When my brain came back from coffee break and read the transcript, all I could do was blink. Where the heck did THAT come from? I know that women go through a chemical change after childbirth that sometimes affects their moods and personality. Could the same be true for men? Or is it just parenthood that is the catalyst? I was reminded of Bill Cosby's line: "Kids, your parents USED to be cool! You made them this way."

Later, Pete came back through the kitchen and started talking about "The Man" doing this or that, like a character out of "The Boondocks". "Look, do you even know who THE MAN is?" went my mouth. My brain was taking a bathroom break. "I hate to be the one to say this, but it's YOU! You are 'The Man.'" He squinted at me and grinned. "And I'm not complimenting you with that, saying 'You're the MAN,' You're cool, don't get me wrong. What I'm saying that 'The Man' is, in fact, you."

I was using FingerQuotes(tm) and helpful hand gestures, but he just shrugged and walked off. At this point, my brain came back and asked if he missed anything. The liver, who was left in charge, brought him up to speed. I've found the liver to be a poor understudy for the job. He's always looking up digestive-related words in Roget's Thesaurus and completely ignoring the Central Nervous System. "Imbue" is presently his favorite.

After dinner, Mike grabbed Matthew and ran into his room. The two of them are truly kindred spirits; not particularly bad, just energetic and wild. Ten minutes later, Mike was calling us in "You've gotta see this!" Melissa and I ran up and saw Matthew, little almost-three Matthew, playing "Hulk" on Mike's PlayStation2. AND WINNING.

Now I was a video game junkie ever since I played Pong on my grandfather's TV at age four. In middle school, I couldn't say two words to a girl, but I beat "Contra" on my NES without using the cheat code. One time, in college, (no, not at Band Camp) I was so into playing "Populous" on a neighbor's PC, I didn't notice that the room had emptied out, the lights were off and the guy was in his loft with his girlfriend.

I have the gamer gene. And now I see that I have passed it on to Matthew. There he was, furiously mashing the buttons, making Hulk pummel the tanks and soldiers. Tears of pride filled my eyes. I whispered to Melissa, "He is...the Chosen One!"