Only 1.5 Days Left to Rate Games…. Play These Games!   
The title says it all!  Here are some more of the many amazing games I’ve had the privilege of playing thanks to Ludum Dare.  Go and show them some love, we’ve only got until tomorrow night at 9!   Necro Gaia – lazybraingames A really fun take on tower defense with a great visual style and […]
          POLARITY: what worked (and what didn’t)   
It’s been two weeks since that fateful weekend on which we all decided (perhaps against our better judgement) to make a game in less than 48 hours. How’d it go? Well, since the compo finished, POLARITY has been rated by 58 awesome LDers, seen nearly 900 unique visitors and been rated “Clever and brain exercising/10” […]
          JLI as Superfriends Mock Covers (Updated)   
This would be how I would revive the JLI team. The main four- Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Fire and Ice, with Vixen and Robotman added. Along with Guy Gardner making his return to the team.

The sitcom-like zaniness of JLI mixed with the offbeat, weirdness of the Silver Age Doom Patrol.
Two cult classics that taste great together.

Note: I updated covers #8 up with a new cover dress. And I added a covers for #11 and 12.

#2 is an homage to the classic B-movie, The Atomic Brain.
#3 is an homage to Justice League of America #195.
#12 is an homage to Avengers #57.
          Best Abacus Math's and Training Centers in India (pardeepkumar)   
Abacus is an instrument (counting device) that was invented in the ancient times for calculating numbers through a basic arithmetic system. Anciently, the abacus and counting boards were the only aids which were used to simplify the calculations. And now it is used as a popular tool to help in brain development.
          Sci-Fi Gaming Resources -Updated   

Note: Sadly, the best resource, Solo Nexus, has been removed from solo players.

The Yahoo Groups appear to still be out there somewhere. I'm still getting e-mails from them. However, it looks like Yahoo's changed their links and I haven't gotten them updated, yet. Here's the updated list of links, with several new ones-

Traveller at Mongoose Publishing
Mongoose Traveller resources at RPGNow
Spica Publishing Resources for Traveller at RPGNow
All Traveller resources at RPGNow
Mongoose's Signs & Portents Magazine at RPGNow
Freelance Traveller
Into the Deep
The Journal of the Travellers' Aid Society
Far Future Enterprises -has a nice guide to Understanding Traveller
Spica Publishing
SFRPG Message Board
Random Traveller System Generator
Traveller: Heaven & Earth -great world building software
Travelling Alone -nice optional solo Traveller flowchart
How to make a Traveller Sandbox

Shadowrun resources at RPGNow
Elektra for Shadowrun
Sci-Fi resources at RPGNow
Alternity resources
Star Smuggler resources
Star Frontiersman
Marvel-Phile & Other Marvel Dragon Magazine Articles
Seventh Sanctum -lots of random generators
Paper Friends -printable character standups for every genre

D6 Space
D6 Adventure
D6 Fantasy
Polgarus Games D6 Resources
Star Wars D6 Holcron
Random Star Wars D6 System Generator
Star Wars D6 Community on G+
Into the Shadows

Mythic/Solo Play
Shaun's Solo Traveller

MGT-Aids · Fan Aids for Mongoose Pub's Traveller
Guide to Traveller UPP (Universal Planetary Profile)
DC Heroes - Blood of Heroes - M.E.G.S. Yahoo group
Doctor Who Solitaire Story Game
Mythic Fan Club/Resources
Solo Nexus

          Anxiety - Treatment of it with the Radio   
I had a close friend who had a sound system in her car. If she felt any anxiety - treatment of it began with good music- and it had to be loud! In fact, she used it two ways. If the problem was anxiety - treatment of it meant so loud that she couldn't think straight. Maybe that's why her hair was so curly. The second way she used it was when the engine made any unusual noises. Why visit a mechanic when she could turn up the volume? Good plan?

Maybe not….

Eventually, the noise would get worse, and lead to expensive repairs, right? Eventually, the anxiety would get to be unbearable? It certainly did – now, get this - she graduated as a psychotherapist. Go figure that out! I guess she needed 24/7 counseling! Anyways .....

Anxiety can't be treated by ignoring it and it can't be treated by ignorance. If we want a healthy and happy life, we have to keep life balanced. And balance starts with a balanced emotional state.

We can balance our emotions many, many ways - good food, good music (not too loud now), fresh air, exercise, time off, or change of scenery - lots of ways.

Sometimes we need a jump start, though, and that can be done safely with natural supplements. The word, natural, is important. We all know that nature's way is best. But, oftentimes, we don’t eat all the natural foods that our brain needs to work well. Nature is FULL of herbs that help balance our bodies.

Don’t you love those TV ads that say, "our remedy is the best, but it might kill you". Listen up and pay attention to what these ads say.

But nature doesn’t do that. With nature, there are NO disclaimers!

So, if you have a little anxiety – treatment of it can be as simple as a natural supplement.

          Anxiety – Treatment of it the Holistic Way   
At some time in our lives, all of us suffer some degree of anxiety. Treatment of it can be a minor or major process. It depends on the severity. All too often, we resort to some anti-depressant and leave it at that. The problem with that approach is that it hides the symptoms, but does nothing to resolve the cause of the problem.

This is the issue with so many professional interventions that camouflage symptoms but ignore the cause. A good example is the spine. The spine is a powerhouse of nerves that control major areas of the body. The spine does more than just hold us together. It relays the brain's messages to make our legs move; it sends and receives messages from the heart and lungs. It relays the message that our toes are still there! It is our own personal internet that connects us into one functioning body.

It is our own personal internet that connects us into one functioning body.

What happens if there's a glitch in the web server? You can't access information, or maybe it's so slow you can't use it. What happens if you "feel" the toe is hurting, but really it's a spine "server" problem. You get the idea?

Our body is far more complex, and our "internal internet" needs the best to do its best.

Giving your spine the best - means taking care that it is in good health – before it breaks down and causes issues in other areas of the body. Ask your chiropractor, if the spine can't cause symptoms in other parts of the body.

So, would it help to hide the symptoms?

Would it be better to find the cause of the symptoms - and remove the cause?You can reduce anxiety - treatment of it may be as easy as a visit to your local chiropractor. Believe me, it's a lot cheaper than brain surgery.

          Anxiety - Treatment of it with Healthy Food   
We don't have to suffer from anxiety - treatment of it can be very easy with healthy food. We've all heard about the food pyramid and how we should eat a balance of carbohydrates, and fruit and cereals, and etc.

But how many of us do it?

Let me give an example. A car needs gas to run, but it also needs water to keep cool, and oil so it won't seize up. What else does it need?

Well, at least a battery so that it can start! Right. Why have all that other stuff, if it won't start?

Our body is exactly the same. The heart needs food, the lungs need different food, the brain has other requirements. When I say food, I mean nutrition - different elements that are essential to the health of each part of the body. Common sense, right?

Which part of the body is the control center? Silly question. It's the brain! If the brain isn't getting the right elements it needs, then how can we expect it to run properly!

This is a major reason why people suffer anxiety. The brain is complaining. It's trying to get our attention! It can't keep us balanced because the brain itself isn't balanced!

How can we fix this. Easy!

Start with healthy food, lots of water, exercise, and sunshine. OK, you want to jump start. You're a microwave fan, I can tell.

Jump start with a natural supplement that gives your brain some "brain food". It'll help you get more balance very quickly. But, do take nature's way - take natural supplements. The synthetic, artificial stuff is just trying to fool your body.

Would you put an artificial battery in your car? No - you give it the best to jump start your day!

So, get rid of anxiety - treatment of it starts right now. You can get more information on any of the links above.

Modern life carries a heavy load, including attacks of anxiety - treatment of anxiety can be worse than the anxiety! Some solutions are not so good! Daily grind activities like school, performance targets, fear of layoffs, salary cuts, unfair competition, peer pressure, time away from home and family – the list goes on and on. Life doesn’t seem to get any easier, does it?

But, you can do a lot to relax and slow down. One way is to help your brain in producing its own natural feel-good chemicals. Do this by eating fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grain foods; getting lots of fresh air and sunshine, and regular exercise.

Another benefit of healthy food and exercise is that your digestion gets a better chance to eliminate the toxins that stress creates.

Many artificial remedies may produce side effects that create more problems than they resolve. One reason often is that they treat the symptoms but do not help to alleviate the cause. A simple example is a headache. OK, you take something strong for the headache. That "hides" the symptom but does nothing to locate the cause of the pain. Maybe it's in your spine, or your leg. So the problem continues on, but the remedy did nothing to resolve it.

Natural remedies, however, are made from 100% natural ingredients that can help to strengthen the nervous system. This helps keep our nerves more settled and soothedand enables us to cope better with the stresses of modern life.

Natural remedies have been used in medicine for thousands of years to support the healthy functioning of the brain, nervous system, and many organs of the body. Our grandparents knew a lot more about plants and remedies than we do. If you travel overseas you will see many countries and cultures which routinely use all sorts of teas and potions made from natural substances. Ever heard that the Amazon jungle contains more natural remedies than we ever dreamed of?

We don't have to be slaves to anxiety. Treatment of anxiety can be easier than you think. If in any doubt, always consult your physician. Treatment may be as simple as a natural boost of naturally occurring elements which a healthy body needs for optimum performance.

          Anxiety - Treatment of It with Passion!   
Our modern lifestyle has a major downside, including extreme anxiety; treatment of which can be just as stressful! Exhausting activities like deadlines, exams, interviews, performance targets, layoffs, salary cuts, unfair competition, peer pressure, time away from family and loved ones – the list goes on forever - and – and – and - it doesn’t get any easier, does it?

Oftentimes the demands may be so overwhelming that it seems almost impossible to slow down and take a deep breath. The result - we worry and lose sleep about pretty much anything and everything. This can spiral down into symptoms of anxiety and panic.

A lot can be done to relax and just slow down. One way is to help our brain produce its own natural feel-good chemicals by eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and whole grain foods; getting plenty of fresh air and sunshine, and exercising regularly.

Practicing relaxation techniques, meditation or taking time for a walk can all help to reduce stress levels and facilitate a feeling of calm – helping us to wind down and relax.

Many artificial remedies can produce side effects that create more problems than they resolve. The reason often is that they treat the symptoms but do not help to alleviate the cause. They can fix the pain, but hurt our stomach, or whatever.

However, natural remedies are made 100% from natural ingredients that can help to refresh our nervous system and keep our nerves settled and soothedto enable us to cope more easily with the everyday stresses of rush.

Natural remedies can help relieve anxiety; depression can be conquered – naturally.

In fact, natural remedies have been used routinely in medicine for thousands of years to support the healthy functioning of the brain and nervous system. Our grandparents knew a lot more about plants and remedies than we do! If you travel overseas you will see many countries and cultures which use daily all sorts of teas and potions made from natural substances. Are these remedies some hocus pocus? No way!

They work to relieve anxiety, stress, and all their symptoms!

There are many published clinical studies demonstrating the ability of a wide range of herbs to support the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system and maintain a healthy balance - which will always assist with staying calm under pressure.

One of them is the curiously named, “Passion Flower" which is used in the treatment of generalized anxiety. In Brazil, the fruit from this beautiful flower is ground and taken as a delicious soothing juice. They don't take is as a remedy - it's a common refreshing drink at any time of day. Ask Brazilians if they are anxious! You guessed right - they are happy people!

This is the natural way to calm down. We don't have to be bound to anxiety. Treatment of anxiety can be much easier than we think. This may involve professional intervention, and of course, if in any doubt, always consult your physician. Treatment may be as simple as a natural boost of naturally occurring elements which a healthy body needs for optimum performance.

          The Bush Victory Party   

George W. Bush's last victory party, which took place four years ago in Austin, Texas, never quite got underway. There was some annoying business about a withdrawn concession phone call and a steady downpour of rain. This year's party, held inside the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., was in one respect an improvement. There was no rain.

The evening began in the Reagan Building's giant, sloping atrium. The GOP herded its youngish volunteers into a mosh pit, jammed between the stage and the TV cameras. Vodka tonics were consumed, and the twentysomethings seemed poised for giddy celebration. Just after 12:30 a.m., Fox News awarded Ohio to Bush, bringing the president's electoral tally, by the network's count, to 266. Four more years! Alaska followed 20 minutes later, nudging Bush to 269. Four more years! At that point, a portly man wearing a blue suit and pin-striped shirt removed his "W Is Still President" lapel pin, held it aloft like a cigarette lighter, and began to lurch toward the stage.

But as soon as the crowd began to rock, Bush's glorious night ground to a halt. More than three hours passed without Fox awarding Bush a single electoral vote. Some of the other networks refused to give him Ohio. It wasn't that the remaining states were breaking for Kerry; they simply weren't breaking at all. The country band playing at the victory celebration exhausted its playlist and began glancing up nervously at the TV monitors. A producer with a ponytail and "W" hat waddled onstage and told them to keep playing. Reporters in the press row reached for their cell phones: The news from Boston was that John Edwards would take the stage and extend the election.

Ed Gillespie, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, dashed to the podium and, in a speech that lasted for the exact duration of Edwards', declared that Kerry couldn't possibly unearth 100,000 more votes in Ohio. The crowd whooped, but malaise was setting in. Wouldn't the president just get over here and declare victory already? Better yet, wouldn't Kerry just give up?

The heavy eyes were a marked shift from the evening's start, which was brimming with cautious optimism. As Bush swept the early states, Jeremy Bouma, a member of something called the Center for Christian Statesmanship, told me the expected surge in Democratic turnout would be offset by new evangelical voters. "My prayer going into this was that the evangelical vote was the X Factor," he said. Rosario Marin, a former U.S. treasurer, thought that Bush had succeeded in increasing his support among Hispanic voters. She was telling me why Latinos did not, in fact, oppose to the Iraq war when Gillespie announced that ABC had called Florida for Bush.

Aaaaaaaaah! she screamed, into my right ear."Oh, sorry." Then: Aaaaaaaaaah! "Oh, sorry." Aaaaaaaaaaaah! I told her she should go ahead and scream. After she caught her breath, Marin said: "I'm so happy. I'm so excited. My heart is pumping. I've got to call my husband." And then she was gone.

Bush never appeared at his 2000 victory party. Around 3 a.m. Wednesday, a question arose as to whether, in fact, he would appear at this one. CNN's John King reported that Bush had stormed into Karl Rove's office and asked the guru to let him declare victory. The reporters in the press room that weren't asleep let out a whoop. King later reported that Rove told the networks that if they would just call New Mexico for Bush, the president would make his way to the Reagan Building. The message was clear: I know you're tired. So give me the damn state.

At 5:05 a.m., an end—sort of. CNN reported that Bush wouldn't appear in person Wednesday morning; Andy Card, his chief of staff, would speak in his place. Card arrived in a room with a few dozen listless Republicans and said nothing memorable. Mario H. Lopez, one of the listless, declared, "I don't know how I cannot describe this night as historic." Then he glanced at someone's watch and said, "I think we're gonna get some breakfast and then get ready to go to work."  ... 3:17 a.m.

Party Monster: Welcome to George W. Bush's "victory" party in Washington, D.C. Sorta. Us news reporters have been herded into a giant white tent, yards away from the actual party, and contact with revelers looks unlikely. This is what the mob outside Studio 54 must have looked like, if only you upped the dweeb factor.

As the Washington Post's "Reliable Source" column notedthis morning: "Reporters wishing to cover the president's election night party will have to pay $300 for the privilege of a 3-by-2-foot work space and a padded seat in a tent nearby to watch the proceedings on television. … Small groups of media will be escorted into the atrium of the Ronald Reagan Building to look around—but they won't be allowed to talk to participants." For a White House that hates the press, handcuffing reporters on Victory Night seems appropriate.

Last-minute indicators of victory: The handful of people I saw shuffling out of the White House grounds looked grim. Someone who identified himself as a Homeland Security apparatchik looked ebullient. On Fox News, Bill Kristol and Mort Kondracke are wearing prepared smiles. ... 4:05 p.m.

Recriminations Watch—Hispanic-Vote Edition: In the category of what my friend Noam Scheiber calls "possibly meaningless anecdotal evidence," my relatives in Northern New Mexico report an inordinate number of Bush signs in the poor Hispanic colonias—communities that figured to go overwhelmingly to Kerry. The same relatives report that Hispanic men profess to have a cultural affinity with Bush, who they see as a tough, macho sort of guy. Again, meaningless, but it underscores a point: That's about the only thing Bush has going for him with the Hispanic community. The Bushies, who heralded their leader's minority-outreach miracles as Texas governor, have done a shoddy job of courting Hispanics since entering the White House.

A few months back, Antonio Gonzalez of the William C. Velasquez Institute told me that Kerry staffers had whiffed at the Democratic Convention. They featured too few Hispanic speakers; and the preoccupation with Iraq drew attention away from domestic issues affecting the poor. All Karl Rove had to do, Gonzalez said, was goad his keynote speakers into mumbling a few "qué pasas" and the Hispanic vote might tilt slightly to Bush. Well, it didn't happen and it hasn't happened. Most surveys show Bush polling around 30 percent to 35 percent of the Hispanic vote, about what he did in 2000. Even GOP apparatchiks, wishing for miracles, don't put Bush much above 40 percent.

If Bush loses tight races in Florida and New Mexico (and, God forbid, Nevada and Colorado), an early recrimination theory might be that Bush spent too little time chasing Hispanic voters. Then again, perhaps he didn't have a chance. The sour economy disproportionately affects Hispanic and black communities; so does the Iraq War, which draws foot soldiers from the poorest segments of the population. Though both candidates ran Spanish-language ads in the Southwest, the campaigns seemed, at times, to forget about Hispanic voters entirely. Remember the fixation on the gringo Spanish spoken (haltingly) by Al Gore and Bush in 2000? Did Bush and Kerry ignore Hispanic voters, or has the media processed them as stable members of the electorate?

Even if Bush should lose, the GOP would be wise to thank him for ratcheting up their Hispanic numbers to Ronald Reagan levels—and up from depths plumbed by the Bob Dole and George H.W. Bush campaigns. But for a man who wonEl Paso County in his 1998 gubernatorial race, 35 percent doesn't seem like much of a miracle. ... 1:11 p.m.

Tom DeLay's Poetic Justice: Tom DeLay's push to rejigger Texas' congressional districts, an effort that caused such a kerfuffle last year, has faded under the onslaught of Swift Boat Veterans, the Osama tape, and Al Qaqaa. But DeLay's gambit has been no less effective. Five Texas Democrats face re-election Tuesday in GOP-friendly districts, and even the most optimistic Dems predict that only one or two of them (probably Martin Frost or Chet Edwards) can survive. There's a better-than-even shot that allfive Democrats will lose, giving the House GOP majority an enormous boost.

But it's not all sad news. With an influx of new Republicans comes an infusion of unwitting comic genius. Most of this can be seen in the personage of Ted Poe. Poe, a former Houston felony court judge, kicked off his national political career in August by boldly proclaiming, "Now is not the time to be a French Republican."

On the bench in Houston, Poe styled himself as a remorseless, Wild West, hangin' judge in the tradition of Roy Bean. His brainchild was something he called "Poetic Justice." With "Poetic Justice," Poe sentenced criminals to public humiliations to teach them a lesson. Shoplifters who found themselves in front of Poe, for instance, had to stand outside the stores they pinched from carrying signs identifying themselves as criminals.

When a man robbed legendary Lone Ranger star Clayton Moore, Poe made the perp shovel manure 20 hours a month at the Houston police department's horse pens. The sentence was to last for 10 years.

The Club for Growth's Stephen Moore reports that Poe made convicted car thieves hand over their own cars to their victims. Convicted murderers were forced to visit their victims' grave sites; others felons had to hang their victims' pictures in their cells and, upon release, carry them in their wallets. According to the Houston Press, Poe slapped one homicidal drunken driver with the following the rap:

… boot camp; erecting and maintaining a cross and Star of David at the accident site; carrying pictures of the victims in his wallet for ten years; observing the autopsy of a drunk-driving victim; placing flowers on the graves of the two victims on their birthdays for the next ten years; and carrying a sign outside a bar that reads, "I killed two people while driving drunk."

This article describes the ambiance of Poe's Houston office: "a poster of Alcatraz, a painting of a scene from the battle of Gettysburg and a sign proclaiming, 'I really don't care how you did it up north.' "

As the Houston Chronicle reports, victims' relatives have charged that Poe would often fail to follow through on the harsh sentences—a revelation which comes as something of a relief. Slate eagerly awaits the punishments Poe metes out on congressional Democrats. ... 11:12 a.m.

A Snowball's Chance: If the election drifts into Mountain Time Tuesday, will John Kerry regret stiffing New Mexico? That's one theory being floated on Joe Monahan's superb New Mexico political blog tonight. George W. Bush visited the state Monday, Dick Cheney over the weekend. So, New Mexicans will wake up Tuesday to read triumphant Bush headlines like this and this, while they'll see news pictures of Kerry overnighting in Wisconsin.

Bill Richardson pulls all the puppet-strings in New Mexico, but there's mounting evidence that Kerry may be in trouble. The polls have looked limp. And there's a theory that Al Gore's slim margin in 2000—366 votes, all found days after the election—may be attributable to one thing: snow.

On Election Day 2000, a freak snowstorm blanketed "Little Texas," the swath of southeastern New Mexico known for its cultural and political kinship with its neighbor. Conservative voters in three counties stayed home in droves. With Gore running strong in northern New Mexico and narrowly winning Albuquerque, the snowed-in voters may have cost Bush the state.

Tuesday's weather report: This site says "rain and snow showers will linger" near the region. Kerry may need every flake and drop.  … 12:01 a.m.

Monday, Nov. 1 2004

The ESPN Primary: "Mr. President, I am wondering how you feel about taxpayers having to have a financial burden placed on them for building new stadiums and new facilities for existing teams?" So went The Candidates: Election 2004,ESPN's special last night that valiantly tried to make Tuesday's contest into a referendum on professional sports. Jim Gray, the thinking man's Ahmad Rashad, the guy who hones his interview technique on coaches trying to sneak off the court before halftime ("So, uh, how do you prepare for the second half?"), landed interviews with both candidates. With its modus operandi inching ever closer to that of Sabado Gigante, it's groovy to see ESPN put on its serious face once in a while—for the shtick to give way to grave pronouncements about THE WORLD BEYOND SPORTS. Except that Gray never acknowledged that such a thing existed.

In response to a question about ticket prices, Bush replied, "I was always concerned when I was with the Rangers that our ticket prices would become so high that the family would be priced out of baseball." Perhaps this is why Bush helped build the Ballpark at Arlington, one of the most expensive venues in baseball and one of its most soulless. For his part, Kerry repeated his I-stand-with-the-working-man pabulum, suggesting that fathers were looting their children's college funds to sit at club level.

Asked to name his favorite athlete, Kerry, of course, straddled, ticking off a fair slice of the Boston Bruins' first line and, for swing-state mojo, a handful of Detroit Red Wings. Bush got another chance to coo about his clutch performance during the 2001 World Series. And that's about as deep as our man Gray got. There are some reasonably interesting questions to ask about sports, such as why it remains one of the viciously anti-gay segments of public life, a black mark that is ignored when it isn't celebrated.

But why get huffy when you can ask both candidates, as Gray did, what should be done about Pete Rose, who after his selfless act of contrition last winter finds himself no closer to baseball's Hall of Fame? This is the kind of spitball that will get you hooted off most respectable sports radio shows, but the candidates tried their level best. Bush said Rose had never really apologized to baseball. Kerry straddled, then agreed. You could see the nervous flicker in both men's eyes—Bush: Christian values!; Kerry: Cincinnati values!—as they tried outflank one another on Charlie Hustle's quagmire.  ... 10:02 p.m.

          How to Fold a Pocket Square   
A formal suit looks exceptionally good especially if you have a pocket square in the breast pocket of your tuxedo, along with your bowtie. They're especially suited for formal events, preferably black tie. However, you may have noticed too that in even in such formal occasions, many do not wear pocket squares. Well, it's really no brainer, but only a few knows how to fold them right way. Those who don't know would more likely not wear one of course.
          Synchronization in Neuronal Networks with Electrical and Chemical Coupling   

Synchronized cortical activities in the central nervous systems of mammals are crucial for sensory perception, coordination, and locomotory function. The neuronal mechanisms that generate synchronous synaptic inputs in the neocortex are far from being fully understood. This thesis contributes toward an understanding of the emergence of synchronization in networks of bursting neurons as a highly nontrivial, combined effect of chemical and electrical connections. The first part of this thesis addresses the onset of synchronization in networks of bursting neurons coupled via both excitatory and inhibitory connections. We show that the addition of pairwise repulsive inhibition to excitatory networks of bursting neurons induces synchrony, in contrast to one’s expectations. Through stability analysis, we reveal the mechanism underlying this purely synergistic phenomenon and demonstrates that it originates from the transition between different types of bursting, caused by excitatory-inhibitory synaptic coupling. We also report a universal scaling law for the synchronization stability condition for large networks in terms of the number of excitatory and inhibitory inputs each neuron receives, regardless of the network size and topology. In the second part of this thesis, we show that similar effects are also observed in other models of bursting neurons, capable of switching from square-wave to plateau bursting. Finally, in the third part, we report a counterintuitive find that combined electrical and inhibitory coupling can synergistically induce robust synchronization in a range of parameters where electrical coupling alone promotes anti-phase spiking and inhibition induces anti-phase bursting. We reveal the underlying mechanism which uses a balance between hidden properties of electrical and inhibitory coupling to act together to synchronize neuronal bursting. We show that this balance is controlled by the duty cycle of the self-coupled system which governs the synchronized bursting rhythm. This work has potential implications for understanding the emergence of abnormal synchrony in epileptic brain networks. It suggests that promoting presumably desynchronizing inhibition in an attempt to prevent seizures can have a counterproductive effect and induce abnormal synchronous firing.

          Analysis of traveling wave propagation in one-dimensional integrate-and-fire neural networks   

One-dimensional neural networks comprised of large numbers of Integrate-and-Fire neurons have been widely used to model electrical activity propagation in neural slices. Despite these efforts, the vast majority of these computational models have no analytical solutions.

Consequently, my Ph.D. research focuses on a specific class of homogeneous Integrate-and-Fire neural network, for which analytical solutions of network dynamics can be derived. One crucial analytical finding is that the traveling wave acceleration quadratically depends on the instantaneous speed of the activity propagation, which means that two speed solutions exist in the activities of wave propagation: one is fast-stable and the other is slow-unstable.

Furthermore, via this property, we analytically compute temporal-spatial spiking dynamics to help gain insights into the stability mechanisms of traveling wave propagation. Indeed, the analytical solutions are in perfect agreement with the numerical solutions. This analytical method also can be applied to determine the effects induced by a non-conductive gap of brain tissue and extended to more general synaptic connectivity functions, by converting the evolution equations for network dynamics into a low-dimensional system of ordinary differential equations.

Building upon these results, we investigate how periodic inhomogeneities affect the dynamics of activity propagation. In particular, two types of periodic inhomogeneities are studied: alternating regions of additional fixed excitation and inhibition, and cosine form inhomogeneity. Of special interest are the conditions leading to propagation failure. With similar analytical procedures, explicit expressions for critical speeds of activity propagation are obtained under the influence of additional inhibition and excitation. However, an explicit formula for speed modulations is difficult to determine in the case of cosine form inhomogeneity. Instead of exact solutions from the system of equations, a series of speed approximations are constructed, rendering a higher accuracy with a higher order approximation of speed.

          Woodpeckers - Percussionists of the Avian Kingdom   
Taking a break from the rigors of its normal routine, a Red-bellied Woodpecker
opts for an easy meal at our suet feeder.
Estimates show that, between foraging for insects, mating displays or for purposes of territoriality, the average woodpecker will strike trees – and sometimes man-made structures, in excess of 12,000 times daily. If you’re even a casual birdwatcher, chances are that at one time or another you wondered how woodpeckers can rapidly and repeatedly hammer away on trees and not appear to suffer any ill effects. Studies have shown that the woodpecker’s brain is encased in a rather spongy bone casing that absorbs the shock of repeated pounding while extra muscle along the back of the woodpecker’s neck provide much needed support for their daily task.

This Red-bellied Woodpecker has a firm grip on the trunk of an aged Cottonwood.
As the photo above shows, Woodpeckers belong to the avian group classified as tree-clingers. It is on trees such as this where the Red-bellied Woodpecker’s tongue serves it well. It’s barb-covered tongue is nearly two and a half times the length of its bill, enabling it to better apprehend prey hiding in the cracks and crevices of thick bark.   

Don't let his diminutive stature fool you.
Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers are quite similar in appearance.  Both readily dine on berries, nuts & seeds but, most importantly they will aggressively seek out insects, including beetle larvae, adult beetles, ants, caterpillars, etc. 
It won't take long for him to find his next meal.
The Pileated Woodpecker is the heavy duty excavator of the tree-clingers, capable of busting out a large rectangular cavity in dead or decaying trees in search of their favorite food, carpenter ants. Whereas the Downy, Hairy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers are quiet, the Pileated is often heard prior to being spotted, its presence given away by a raucous CUK-CUK-CUK-CUK.

It has been a long while since we’ve wondered whether woodpeckers get headaches from their daily workload. Along the way we’ve not only come to appreciate their role in nature, we also came to realize that every species comes into this world equipped to do the job for which it was intended. Nothing was overlooked because ...........................God saw that is was good.

Until next time

Jim & Claudia

          New ways to treat our brain | Notes from Planet Earth   
Our brains are naturally better protected from insult and injury than most of our other organs.
          Brain Cell Transplants Are Being Tested Once Again For Parkinson's   
Researchers are working to revive a radical treatment for Parkinson's disease. The treatment involves transplanting healthy brain cells to replace cells killed off by the disease. It's an approach that was tried decades ago and then set aside after disappointing results. Now, groups in Europe, the U.S. and Asia are preparing to try again, using cells they believe are safer and more effective. "There have been massive advances," says Claire Henchcliffe , a neurologist at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York. "I'm optimistic." "We are very optimistic about ability of [the new] cells to improve patients' symptoms," says Viviane Tabar , a neurosurgeon and stem cell biologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Henchcliffe and Tabar joined several other prominent scientists to describe plans to revive brain cell transplants during a session Tuesday at the International Society for Stem Cell Research meeting in Boston. Their upbeat message marks a dramatic turnaround for the
          Cracking The Code That Lets The Brain ID Any Face, Fast   
Most people have an uncanny ability to tell one face from another, even though the differences are extremely small. Now scientists think they know how our brains do this. In macaque monkeys, which share humans' skill with faces, groups of specialized neurons in the brain called face cells appeared to divide up the task of assessing a face, a team at the California Institute of Technology reports Thursday in the journal Cell . "The cells were coding faces in a very simple way," says Doris Tsao , an author of the study and a professor of biology at Caltech. "Each neuron was coding a different aspect of the face." The actual coding involves some complicated math. But the approach is a bit like having one cell measure a variable like the distance between a person's eyes while another cell looks at skin texture, Tsao says. And the system is so efficient that the team was able to accurately reconstruct the face a monkey was seeing using the signals from just 205 neurons. When placed side by
          As Brains Mature, More Robust Information Networks Boost Self-Control   
Impulsive children become thoughtful adults only after years of improvements to the brain's information highways, a team reports in Current Biology. A study of nearly 900 young people ages 8 to 22 found that the ability to control impulses, stay on task and make good decisions increased steadily over that span as the brain remodeled its information pathways to become more efficient. The finding helps explain why these abilities, known collectively as executive function, take so long to develop fully, says Danielle Bassett , an author of the study and an associate professor of bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania. "A child's ability to run or to see is very well developed by the time they're 8," she says. "However, their ability to inhibit inappropriate responses is not something that's well developed until well into the 20s." The results also suggest it may be possible to identify adolescents at risk of problems related to poor executive function, says Joshua Gordon ,
          Why Brain Scientists Are Still Obsessed With The Curious Case Of Phineas Gage   
It took an explosion and 13 pounds of iron to usher in the modern era of neuroscience. In 1848, a 25-year-old railroad worker named Phineas Gage was blowing up rocks to clear the way for a new rail line in Cavendish, Vt. He would drill a hole, place an explosive charge, then pack in sand using a 13-pound metal bar known as a tamping iron. But in this instance, the metal bar created a spark that touched off the charge. That, in turn, "drove this tamping iron up and out of the hole, through his left cheek, behind his eye socket, and out of the top of his head," says Jack Van Horn , an associate professor of neurology at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. Gage didn't die. But the tamping iron destroyed much of his brain's left frontal lobe, and Gage's once even-tempered personality changed dramatically. "He is fitful, irreverent, indulging at times in the grossest profanity, which was not previously his custom," wrote John Martyn Harlow, the physician
          'Minibrains' In A Dish Shed A Little Light On Autism And Epilepsy   
Tiny, 3-D clusters of human brain cells grown in a petri dish are providing hints about the origins of disorders like autism and epilepsy. An experiment using these cell clusters — which are only about the size of the head of a pin — found that a genetic mutation associated with both autism and epilepsy kept developing cells from migrating normally from one cluster of brain cells to another, researchers report in the journal Nature. "They were sort of left behind," says Dr. Sergiu Pasca , an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford. And that type of delay could be enough to disrupt the precise timing required for an actual brain to develop normally, he says. The clusters — often called minibrains , organoids or spheroids — are created by transforming skin cells from a person into neural stem cells. These stem cells can then grow into structures like those found in the brain and even form networks of communicating cells. Brain organoids cannot grow beyond a
          Electrical Stimulation To Boost Memory: Maybe It's All In The Timing   
People with a brain injury or dementia often struggle to remember simple things, like names or places. In research published Thursday in the journal Current Biology, scientists have shown it may be possible to improve this sort of memory using tiny pulses of electricity — if they're properly timed. A typical person's ability to remember things tends to vary a lot, says Michael Kahana, who directs the computational memory lab at the University of Pennsylvania. "Some days we're at the top of our game," he says, "and some days we're just off our game." That's also true for people whose memory has been impaired — by a brain injury or disease. So Kahana wondered whether there might be some way to help these people perform at their peak level all the time. "If they could just move their game up so that every day was their best day, then it would really significantly change their quality of life," Kahana says. He and a team of researchers thought they might be able to do this by stimulating
          A 'Hot Zone' In The Brain May Reveal When, And Even What, We Dream   
Most of us have about five dreams each night, though we're not likely to remember any of them. But a team of researchers has found a pattern of brain activity that seems to reveal not only when the brain is generating a dream but something about the content of that dream. "When subjects were having [dream] experiences during sleep, there was a region in the back of the brain that tended to be very active, as if this region was a little bit more awake," says Francesca Siclari , a researcher at the Center for Research and Investigation in Sleep at Lausanne University Hospital in Switzerland. Patterns of brain activity in this region also suggested whether the dream included a face or movement, Siclari and a team of researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison report in Nature Neuroscience . The team found that dreams occurred during both rapid eye movement — REM — and non-REM sleep. But there were also periods of deep sleep in which dreaming did not occur. The team studied dreams
          Do U.S. Troops Risk Brain Injury When They Fire Heavy Weapons?   
The U.S. military is trying to figure out whether certain heavy weapons are putting U.S. troops in danger. The concern centers on the possibility of brain injuries from shoulder-fired weapons like the Carl Gustaf , a recoilless rifle that resembles a bazooka and is powerful enough to blow up a tank. A single round for the Carl Gustaf can weigh nearly 10 pounds. The shell leaves the gun's barrel at more than 500 miles per hour. And as the weapon fires, it directs an explosive burst of hot gases out of the back of the barrel. For safety reasons, troops are trained to take positions to the side of weapons like this. Even so, they get hit by powerful blast waves coming from both the muzzle and breech. "It feels like you get punched in your whole body," is the way one Army gunner described the experience in a military video made in Afghanistan. "The blast bounces off the ground and it overwhelms you." During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military recognized that the blast from a
          Cancer Drug That Might Slow Parkinson's, Alzheimer's Headed For Bigger Tests   
Scientists are hoping that a single drug can treat two devastating brain diseases: Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. The drug is nilotinib, which is approved to treat a form of leukemia. In late 2015, researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center found that small doses of the drug appeared to help a handful of people with Parkinson's disease and a related form of dementia. They'd tried the unlikely treatment because they knew nilotinib triggered cells to get rid of faulty components — including the ones associated with several brain diseases. Results of that preliminary study generated a lot of excitement because there is currently no treatment that can slow or halt the brain damage caused by either Parkinson's or Alzheimer's. "Our phones were basically (ringing) off the hook," says Fernando Pagan , medical director of the translational neurotherapeutics program at Georgetown. Many researchers were cautious, though. "It was such a small trial, there was no placebo control and it
          Scientists May Have Solved The Mystery Of Nodding Syndrome   
Scientists may have solved the mystery of nodding syndrome , a rare form of epilepsy that has disabled thousands of children in East Africa. The syndrome seems to be caused by the immune system's response to a parasitic worm, an international team reports in the journal Science Translational Medicine . And they think it's the same worm responsible for river blindness, an eye infection that's also found in East Africa. The finding means that current efforts to eliminate river blindness should also reduce nodding syndrome, says Avi Nath , an author of the study and chief of the section of infections of the nervous system at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. "We can prevent new infections even if we can't treat the ones who already have nodding syndrome," Nath says. Drugs can kill the parasite in its early stages. Nodding syndrome usually strikes children between 5 and 16 who live in rural areas of northern Uganda and South Sudan. Their bodies and brains stop
          A Brain Tweak Lets Mice Abstain From Cocaine   
Researchers have created mice that appear impervious to the lure of cocaine. Even after the genetically engineered animals were given the drug repeatedly, they did not appear to crave it the way typical mice do, a team reports in Nature Neuroscience. "They didn't keep going into the room where they received the cocaine and they seemed to be just as happy exploring all around the cage," says Shernaz Bamji , a professor in the Department of Cellular and Physiological Sciences at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. "Addiction is a form of learning," Bamji says. And somehow, these mice never learned to associate the pleasurable feelings produced by cocaine with the place where they received the drug. The result was startling because the scientists thought these mice would be especially susceptible to addiction. "We repeated the experiment several times to see if we had made a mistake," Bamji says. The reason for the team's surprise had to do with proteins that affect learning.
          Art Exhibition Celebrates Drawings By The Founder Of Modern Neuroscience   
What Einstein did for physics, a Spaniard named Santiago Ramón y Cajal did for neuroscience more than a century ago. Back in the 1890s, Cajal produced a series of drawings of brain cells that would radically change scientists' understanding of the brain. And Cajal's drawings aren't just important to science. They are considered so striking that the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis has organized a traveling exhibition of Cajal's work called The Beautiful Brain . "Cahal was the founder of modern neuroscience," says Larry Swanson , a brain scientist at the University of Southern California who wrote an essay for the book that accompanies the exhibit. "Before Cajal it was just completely different," Swanson says. "Most of the neuroscientists in the mid-19th century thought the nervous system was organized almost like a fishing net." They saw the brain and nervous system as a single, continuous web, not a collection of separate cells. But Cajal reached a different conclusion. "Cajal looked
          Flipping A Switch In The Brain Turns Lab Rodents Into Killer Mice   
Mice that kill at the flip of a switch may reveal how hunting behavior evolved hundreds of millions of years ago. The mice became aggressive predators when two sets of neurons in the amygdala were activated with laser light, a team reported Thursday in the journal Cell . "The animals become very efficient in hunting," says Ivan de Araujo , an associate professor of psychiatry at Yale University and an associate fellow at The John B. Pierce Laboratory in New Haven. "They pursue the prey [a live cricket] faster and they are more capable of capturing and killing it." Activating the neurons even caused the mice to attack inanimate objects, including sticks, bottle caps and an insectlike toy. "The animals intensively bite the toy and use their forepaws in an attempt to kill it," De Araujo says. But the aggressive behavior is reserved for prey. Mice didn't attack each other, even when both sets of neurons were activated. The results hint at how the brain changed hundreds of millions of years
          Brain Area That Recognizes Faces Gets Busier And Better In Young Adults   
A comparison of kid brains and grownup brains may explain why our ability to recognize faces keeps getting better until about age 30. Brain scans of 25 adults and 22 children showed that an area devoted to facial recognition keeps growing long after adolescence, researchers report in the journal Science. The area didn't acquire more neurons, says Jesse Gomez , a graduate student in neurosciences at Stanford University and the study's lead author. Instead the brain region became more densely populated with the structures that connect and support neurons. "You can imagine a 10-foot by 10-foot garden, and it has some number of flowers in there," Gomez says. "The number of flowers isn't changing, but their stems and branches and leaves are getting more complex." To see whether that sort of change occurred elsewhere in the brain, the researchers also looked at a nearby area that responds to places, instead of faces. In this area, there was no difference between children and adults. The
          As Sleep Improves, So Does An Injured Brain   
For patients with serious brain injuries, there's a strong link between sleep patterns and recovery. A study of 30 patients hospitalized for moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries found that sleep quality and brain function improved in tandem, researchers reported Wednesday in the journal Neurology. Patients who still had low levels of consciousness and cognitive functioning would "sleep for a couple of minutes and then wake up for a couple of minutes," both day and night, says Nadia Gosselin , the study's senior author and an assistant professor in the psychology department at the University of Montreal. But "when the brain recovered, the [normal] sleep-wake cycle reappeared," Gosselin says. The results raise the possibility that patients with brain injuries might recover more quickly if hospitals took steps to restore normal sleep patterns, Gosselin says. Drugs are one option, she says. Another is making sure patients are exposed to sunlight or its equivalent during the day and
          Pentagon Shelves Blast Gauges Meant To Detect Battlefield Brain Injuries   
The Pentagon has quietly sidelined a program that placed blast gauges on thousands of combat troops in Afghanistan. NPR has learned the monitoring was discontinued because the gauges failed to reliably show whether service members had been close enough to an explosion to have sustained a concussion, or mild traumatic brain injury. But the small wearable devices did produce a trove of data on blast exposure that could eventually have helped researchers understand the links between bomb blasts, concussions and brain diseases. And they produced evidence that many service members are exposed to worrisome levels of blast pressure simply by being near a heavy weapon when it's fired. The decision to warehouse the blast gauges is "a huge mistake," says retired Gen. Peter Chiarelli , who was the Army's vice chief of staff before retiring in 2012 and is now the chief executive officer of One Mind , a nonprofit focused on brain illness and injury. Mild TBI was the signature wound of the wars in
          A Guide in Article Writing: How to Make Outlines   
Making outlines if a fundamental writing skill. Outlines can be useful for anything that you write including articles, essays, and research papers. Outlining is one of the most basic and first techniques taught to young writers to help them organize their thoughts and structure their arguments. Unfortunately, although outlining is one of the first skills we learn, not all people make them while writing.

The Internet has placed a new emphasis on writing. Most websites rely on the written word to get across their messages. Writers that write clear, concise, and to the point articles get rewarded. All of these reasons reinforce the need for people to gravitate to writing better by using outlines. Yet some people still do not.

Although challenging, writing could be a very rewarding career. It is indeed funny to think that some people would choose to work at some sort of menial job rather than sit down with a pen and write. Those who do write, enjoy the freedom of being able to work wherever they choose to along with unlimited potential for creativity.

Creating outlines before immediately starting to write is a good way to gather your ideas and organize your thoughts. Having a well-prepared outline makes writing go smoothly because of the prep time you already put in to carefully plan the sequence of your thoughts.

An outline serves as a framework for your article. It helps you in structuring the introduction, body and conclusion of your

article. While outlining, you can and should write down just about anything that comes to your mind about your topic. The next step is to organize this collection of ideas.

Here are some tricks on how to effectively outline :

  • Jot down everything in your head. Do not worry about it making sense. Just go ahead and squeeze out all you can from your brain. Take all the time you need but remember you might have a deadline, so manage your time wisely.
  • Label your thoughts. After gathering your ideas on a subject matter, think about what would make these ideas pop out to the reader. In this stage, go for captivating words for your subtitles.
  • Connect the dots. You now have everything you need to start working on the article. So start on sequencing your collected thoughts and make logical sense of them.
  • Write a draft. This is your trial and error stage, and with practice, eventually you might end up just doing this once.
  • Proofread your work. A good writer always make sure that the message you want to be delivered to your readers are perfectly conveyed, which is why you need to recheck for grammatical errors and place the right punctuations in stressing out your point.
  • Have fun making your outlines and most importantly, enjoy writing!

          Rescuing the classics: saving traditional music from extinction   
Khse Diew artist performs a traditional song in the CLA studio. (Mathew Wakem/Phnom Penh Post)
Friday, 20 January 2012
Diana Montaño
The Phnom Penh Post

Some of Cambodia’s most renowned musical masters will gather this year to create a recording of musical forms in danger of being lost, as part of the “Documentation of Three Khmer Musical Traditions” project spearheaded by the local NGO Cambodian Living Arts.

The project, funded by a grant from the US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, will create audio-visual documentation of three traditional forms: Kantaoming, classical funeral music; classical wedding music; and Smote, a unique combination of poetry and chanting performed in Buddhist ceremonies, particularly funerals.

Cambodian Living Arts was founded in 1998 as the Cambodian Masters Performers Program with the mission of rescuing and reviving artistic traditions virtually wiped out during the Khmer Rouge era. The organisation has worked to bring together living masters of traditional Khmer arts to create recordings and performances, and teach younger artists.

According to Marion Gommard, communications director of Cambodian Living Arts, 90 per cent of Cambodian artists were killed during the 1975-1979 Khmer Rouge era, decimating the largely oral cultural tradition. Without any written record and few surviving masters, these classical art forms are in danger of being permanently lost.

“Historically, transmission has only been oral,” she says. “That is why it’s so important to record, so artists can pass down knowledge.”

Sarin Chhuon, CLA’s studio manager, says there is an urgency to record these forms while master musicians are still alive, since most of them are in their 80’s and 90’s.

“We have to do this now. In the next five or 10 years, they may be gone,” he says. “Most of the songs are in their brain, they’re not written down.”

Sarin Chhuon says that while these forms are still popular among Cambodians during wedding or funeral ceremonies, most people have lost touch with the classical styles.

“People are still using it but it has disappeared in its original form,” he says. “They just use really bad cassette tapes, or they have one or two musicians playing modern wedding music. They don’t even know what the real music is like. So slowly, it is being lost.”

Smote, the more religious of the three forms, is a blend of poetry and chanting conducted at Buddhist ceremonies, though most Cambodians associate it with funerals. “With the chanting, people feel free and let it go. It describes comfort to people who are dying. In a funeral, the chanting lets the family know it’s OK,” says Sarin Chhuon.

CLA is forming an advisory board for the project, and hopes to begin recording by February. Three musicians working as CLA teachers in their provinces have already agreed to participate, and the organisation hopes more musicians will get involved. The three artists, all renowned masters from the ’50s and ’60s, are Sok Buch, a Kantaoming master in Takeo and Siem Riep, Ling Srey, a classical wedding musician from Siem Riep, and Koeut Ran, a Smote master from Kompong Speu.

There are plans to release 3000 CDs of the “Documentation of Three Khmer Musical Traditions” project recordings. The organisation has released two CDs of its master artist recordings in the past, but the $12 selling price has been too expensive for most Cambodians, according to Sarin Chhuon.

With this project CLA hopes to make CDs available to Cambodians for $1 or $2. By making the recordings more accessible, CLA hopes ordinary Cambodians will rediscover the classical forms of these popular musical styles.

“We want people will use the CDs in their ceremonies,” says Sarin Chhuon. “I hope they will throw away those old tapes.”

          Comment on On Sleep Quality and a Persistent Sense of Fatigue by Ray Ebersole   
Michael, while I'm not the sleep guru here is what I find works. As a parent of 3 I've been through your situation, but you have to adapt to each child differently. 1. You need to nap when Addy naps. 2. Set a sleep schedule for your actual bed sleep. 3. Set a work schedule and stick to it. 4. When not within the work schedule you are not allowed to think about work. If you are with the family, then it's family time. If you have work intrude then write it down and move on. This family time is important to proper sleep. 5. Before bed remove yourself to a quite place for 5 minutes. If you have a favorite white noise play it. Dean Everson does great white noise. Sit comfortably with your eyes closed and take slow, long breaths. Just think about the breath and with each one relax the body a little more. No thinking about ANYTHING ELSE EXCEPT THE BREATHING. 6. Go to bed in a dark room, put that phone in Do Not Disturb mode. 7. This item will sound weird, I know it works. In your mind envision 100's, even 1000's if little masseuse's working in ever tired muscle, relaxing it. That includes your brain. You will see how well this works after a few days. You will fall asleep faster each night and your little massage helpers will have you feeling refreshed when you wake up. If you practice that for a few weeks you will get in the habit. It will make you feel less tired.
          Comment on 7 Underrated Benefits of the Third Shift by On Sleep Quality and a Persistent Sense of Fatigue » Beyond the Rhetoric   
[…] a hit, as my brain continues to process residual information throughout the night. Yes, sometimes the third shift is necessary, but I’m doing what I can to cut back… or at least have some time between the […]
          D-Frag! OVA Subtitle Indonesia   
D-Frag! OVA Subtitle Indonesia

D-Frag! OVA ~ Diterbitkan dari kesembilan manga edisi khusus dari D-Frag!

DVD Dipopulerkan Shrine Water arc

Type: OVA
Episodes: 1
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Sep 22, 2014
Producers: Media Factory, Brains Base
Genres: Comedy
Duration: 24 min. per episode
Rating: PG-13 - Teens 13 or older

Download D-Frag! OVA Subtitle Indonesia (MP4) :

[CZ-EX] D-Frag! OVA Subtitle Indonesia [HD].Mp4
[CZ-EX] D-Frag! OVA Subtitle Indonesia [mHD].Mp4

          anal loving girlfriend giving brain   
anal, blowjob, amateur, analsex, pov, cocksucking, assfucking, buttfucking, girlfriend, analfuck, gf, exgirlfriend, exgf
          D-Frag! Subtitle Indonesia   

D-Frag! Subtitle Indonesia

D-Frag! ~ Kazama Kenji percaya bahwa ia adalah semacam ketua geng di sekolahnya, dan orang lain juga tampaknya setuju dengan hal itu. Menjadi ketua geng di sekolah ternyata tidaklah mudah, lawan pertama “Geng Kazama” adalah sekelompok cewek yang terdiri dari 4 orang yang kelihatannya sih normal-normal aja, tapi ternyata dari keempat cewek itulah debut Kenji sebagai ketua geng menjadi berantakan. Siapakah keempat cewek tersebut? Mau apa mereka dengan Kenji? Dan bagaimana nasib kehidupan sehari-hari Kenji?

Type: TV
Episodes: 12
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Jan 7, 2014 to Mar 25, 2014
Producers: FUNimation EntertainmentL, Media Factory, Brains Base, Kadokawa Shoten
Genres: Comedy, School, Seinen
Duration: 24 min. per episode
Rating: PG-13 - Teens 13 or older
Subtitle : Cybersubs
ReEncoded :

Download D-Frag! Subtitle Indonesia ( MP4 mHD ):

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Episode 01
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Episode 01 - 12 [Kumpul Bagi]
          Phi Brain Kami no Puzzle S3 - 08 VOSTFR   
Phi Brain Kami no Puzzle S3 - 08 VOSTFR tags: BrainKamiPhiPuzzleVOSTFRPhi Brain Kami no Puzzle S3 - 08 VOSTFR
          Phi Brain Season 3 Episode 7 Official Simulcast Preview HD   
Phi Brain Season 3 Episode 7 Official Simulcast Preview HD tags: BrainEpisodeOfficialPhiPreviewSeasonSimulcastPhi Brain Season 3 Episode 7 Official Simulcast Preview HD
          Phi Brain Season 3 Episode 5 Official Simulcast Preview HD   
Phi Brain Season 3 Episode 5 Official Simulcast Preview HD Phi Brain Season 3 Episode 5 Official Simulcast Preview HD
          Phi Brain Season 3 Episode 4 Official Simulcast Preview HD   
Phi Brain Season 3 Episode 4 Official Simulcast Preview HD Phi Brain Season 3 Episode 4 Official Simulcast Preview HD
          Phi Brain - Opening de la saison 1   
Phi Brain - Opening de la saison 1 Phi Brain - Opening de la saison 1
          DIY Update For Your Fireplace for Winter With Go-Stone or Go-Brick   

As the winter weather intensifies, it’s a no-brainer that most of us are going to be spending a great deal of our time indoors. If you are lucky enough to have a fireplace in your living room, there’s a good chance that it’s going to become the hub of your home. The question is, how […]

The post DIY Update For Your Fireplace for Winter With Go-Stone or Go-Brick appeared first on Native Custom Stone.

          Focus Pocus is GO!   
Earlier this year Rumpus designed and animated all the characters and assets for a new super-de-duper game called Focus pocus that is powered by BRAINS! Here is a video featuring some of the beautiful people at Roll7 games explaining how it works.

          Focus Pocus   

Over the last few months Joe and Seb have been busy creating assets for a new game by Roll7 what goes on the computer box and is powered by YOUR BRAIN! As a special treat for working so hard they were allowed to make a fun little trailer. Watch out, though, it's catchy!
          audition- Alaska Ryde   

audition- Alaska Ryde

audition- Alaska Ryde by ravenwood on

Name: Taruni Username: @ravenwood OC Name: Alaska Ryde Age: 16 Gender: Female Blood Status: Half-Blood Faceclaim: Phoebe Tonkins Sexuality: Straight House: Wampus Quidditch position: N/A Prefect: Not a prefect sadly Wand: Dragon string, 12-inch, Lilac Wood Patronus (keep in mind this is only mastered after the third year): Dolphin Pet (nothing bigger than a medium sized dog): White Cat with blue eyes, named Oceania Personality (include good and bad): + Always tries to make people laugh and smile + Stands up for her friends and what she believes in + Isn't afraid to take risks + Smart, witty, carefree, irresistible, and "impossible to kill," as a Wampus is. - Puts others before herself too much that she forgets to care for herself - Has a sassy attitude that gets her into trouble - She is a known troublemaker in her hometown - She tends to hurt a lot of people with her heartbreak ways Likes: + Boys + Music + Drawing + Exercising Dislikes: - Studying - Oranges - Running too much - Long-term relationships Bio (at least two paragraphs): Alaska is a very outgoing, sassy and hilarious person. She's got the looks that seem to get her out of every consequence, and the street smart brain from growing up in Los Angeles. She flirts with almost every guy, but she has her own reasons and limits. She is a known heartbreaker and troublemaker. Alaska has long, luscious brown air, and the most captivating blue-green eyes. She loves Ilvermorny- she feels it is the one place she can truly be herself, without the constant pressure she receives from her Dad-to be better. She acts as though she does not value education at all, but really, she is one of the smartest people in her class. Alaska tends to be well rounded, popular, and always happy looking. However, she has some really dark secrets that have wrecked her inside. Secret x 2 (if you want to be an animagus, please PM the mod as we cannot have a school full of them): Alaska has a dark past- her abusive father had killed her mother, and this a secret she has told nobody, and is something that she fears- turning into her dad. She fears long-term relationships because she is afraid that if she is with someone for too long, she will hurt them, as her dad did to her mother. She believes she doesn't deserve to be happy that way. @hayley-177 @fiohelston @seahorsewii @the-icon-cuties @fashion-and-cats Mod: @natasha-maree13

          AI is Becoming More Human Like Every Day by @TintWorldNews #repost   
The following is a repost from here.

The advancement of AI technology is happening daily, and everyday robots are becoming more and more human-like. The problem is that not everything these bots learn is being put to good use and a recent study revealed that the technology is becoming racist and sexist. This will, of course, have an adverse affect on the robots ability to make sound decisions and will increase more the better AI becomes at interpreting and understanding the human language. It will, unfortunately, learn bias’ about race and gender the more data it’s fed.

Read the rest of this blog post here.

          Multimodal imaging analysis in Charles Bonnet Syndrome: a case report   
Title: Multimodal imaging analysis in Charles Bonnet Syndrome: a case report

Author, co-author: Martial, Charlotte; Di Perri, Carol; Larroque, Stephen; Cavaliere, Carlo; Wannez, Sarah; Kupers, Ron; LAUREYS, Steven

Abstract: Charles Bonnet syndrome (CBS) is a rare condition characterized by visual impairment associated with complex visual hallucinations in psychologically normal elderly people. Previous studies have suggested that visual hallucinations may be caused by brain damage in the visual system. However, in the case of CBS, specific brain regions in the occipital cortex have not been clearly determined and functional neuroimaging remains relatively unexplored. To our knowledge, functional connectivity by means of resting-state magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has never been investigated in patients with CBS. We here aimed to investigate structural imaging, brain metabolism and functional connectivity in a patient with CBS. Resting-state functional and structural MRI were acquired in an 85-year-old patient with CBS and 12 age- and gender-matched normally sighted controls. Cognitive functioning was measured by behavioral assessment. A seed-based resting state fMRI was performed to investigate the default mode network (DMN), the executive control network and the visual networks connectivity. A voxel-based morphometry (VBM) analysis was employed to investigate the grey matter volume. Cortical and subcortical grey matter thickness were further investigated. Finally, 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) was also acquired to observe regional glucose uptake by comparing standard uptake values (SUVs). Increased functional connectivity was found between the DMN and the temporo-occipital fusiform cortex, as well as between the secondary visual cortex and the left frontal cortex, in the CBS patient compared to controls. The patient also demonstrated increased functional connectivity between the primary visual cortex and the left supramarginal gyrus and between the associative visual cortex and the superior temporal gyrus/angular gyrus, as compared to controls. Decreased grey matter volume was observed in the lateral occipital cortex/angular gyrus in our patient as compared to controls. Diminished grey matter thickness values were observed in the lateral geniculate nucleus compared to healthy controls. FDG-PET results confirmed previous work and showed bilateral hypometabolism in the occipital cortex (mean SUV reduction of 5.36%, p<0.001). Our results suggest that structural alterations in visual system in CBS are associated with compensatory/adaptive changes in functional connectivity that involve regions known to support hallucinations of faces in CBS patients. We suggest that this functional connectivity reorganization following visual structural damage may contribute to visual hallucinations. These findings might shed light on the pathophysiology underlining this rare condition.
          Four Questions   

Joe Connolly tells the story of a brainstorming session he attended for a new business an entrepreneur is considering starting.

          Here’s What Will Happen When We Connect Our Brains to the Cloud Read more
          The Four Immortality Stories We Tell Ourselves   
Since the moment humans became aware of their existence, they have been haunted by the knowledge that it will inevitably come to an end and the hope to change this unfortunate fate. This month, during Brain Bar Budapest – Europe’s leading conference on the future – Stephen Cave talked about the four immortality stories we […]
          New research suggests problematic memories could be deleted   
June 22 (UPI) — In a series of experiments, neuroscientists were able to selectively delete different types of memories stored a single neuron belonging to a marine snail. The feat, detailed in the journal Current Biology, suggests problematic memories — like those responsible for PSTD and anxiety — in the human brain could be excised […]
          How Big City stress affects your health    

The crime, the traffic, the congestion, the noise, and non-stop pace of the big city take its toll on your health. That’s not just anecdotal any longer, researchers are uncovering some not so surprising facts about the negative impact big cities have on peoples’ health.

In the heart of the busy metropolitan jungles, more people suffer from heart attacks, strokes, and anxiety than those who live in more rural areas.

The Big City is a Threat Your Physical Health

All that traffic, high crime, and noise isn’t just going gentle into the night, it’s having a real affect on its residents physical well being. New research shows that people living in a big city have a higher risk of a heart attack and stroke.

Busy commutes tend not only to be stressful, but detrimental as well. Spending hours on a train or hopping from bus to bus means a lot more time spent parked in a seat. That’s not good for the heart or the belly. Studies reveal that many choose to eat while commuting in an effort to save time. The net result is a bigger waistline, which increases blood pressure, decreases circulation, and cause more fatigue.

More weight means a higher risk for hypertension and other physical health risks like high cholesterol. Simply put, less walking and more sitting have an adverse impact.

It’s Also Mental, Studies Show

Aside from the physical health risks, people living in big cities face a 21 percent higher risk of anxiety disorders, a 39 percent increase in mood disorders, thanks to a study conducted on 32 healthy participants which was published in the journal Nature.

Conversely 24 participants from rural communities were included in this brain scan study,  a statistical dead-heat in the world of MRI. Those 24 people showed little to no signs of increased risk to their mental health, a finding that wouldn’t at all surprise the average urban dweller.

The hustle and bustle of the big city isn’t healthy, physically or mentally, according to the research.

A solution to these potential problems? Well, one such solution is to either move to a smaller, less stressful area like the Homer Alaska and Anchor Point area. Or, invest in a property to rent and buy a second home to vacation in the peaceful landscape only the 
Homer Alaska and Anchor Point  area can offer can offer.
For more information about Homer Alaska Real Estate contact Coastal Realty Alaska at 


Mile 156.7 Sterling Hwy
Anchor Point, AK 99556
Phone: 907-235-7141
Fax: 907-235-6876

          "I Always Felt There was a Prophecy of Death in That Song."   


NOTE: Updated 6/12

Led Zeppelin. John Lennon. Prince. George Michael. The Monkees. Lord Byron. Sinead O'Connor. Chris Cornell. What do all these people have in common? They're all connected in one way or another to an unfolding drama orbiting a seminal song written by a doomed folk singer and debuted to the world wrapped in a salad of black magic, alien technology and mind control. 

And from then on, things got really weird.

I really didn't mean to get sucked back into all of this. I meant to do an overview post to observe the 20th anniversary and be done with it all. But then Chris Cornell died and the same archetypes rose again. Which means this story is still telling itself. That kicked in the OCD and got me looking again for prophecies.

And boy howdy, I found some real brain-blowers. 


Now I know a lot of you out there don't care about the Cocteau Twins or Jeff Buckley's music. And for a lot of you this might all be old news. I get that, it's totally fine by me. But the music isn't really the point of all this. 

The point is the story, this ancient archetypal myth playing out in real time, for whatever possible reason it may have other than the spirit world seems to have a dark sense of irony. And it may have well taken more trophies.

So, esoterically speaking, this is the equivalent of a Darwinist being able to watch a dog evolving into a turtle. 

You see, what we have here is a drama that seems to weave in elements of the occult, witchcraft, precognition, prophecy, synchronicity, and maybe even some spirit possession. 

We have the story of a strange young woman from a dysfunctional working class family who grew up in a place saturated with the power of the old stories. A woman who seems to have dabbled in witchcraft before undergoing a startling transformation in which she suddenly came into possession of an electrifying musical gift that led one British newspaper to declare she had "the Voice of God."

In an entirely matter of fact, self-effacing manner she would claim that in fact she was possessed by or channeling some kind of entity, something I don't find very hard to believe at all. 

I mean, think about it; what sounds more like genuine entity possession to you, this or this

This or this?


Of course, the first test of the spirits comes through prophecy.

And from the very first moment Elizabeth Fraser came into the public eye she seemed to prophesy a terrible event that revolved around an old 60s folk song that seems to have taken on a life of its own in the years since it first debuted. 

And if you take all the apparent prophecies-- prophecies that fly around this story like wasps at your birthday barbecue--together, you come up with the name, place, time and manner that this story would reach its inevitable climax. 

And it all seemed to unfold over a span of four decades.

Mind you, all of this is something we can objectively document. Interpret the facts any way you like but the beauty of it is that you don't need to rely on hearsay or anecdote here. We're looking at accepted and recorded events of history not testimony or speculation.

But there's also that song, which itself seems to be some kind of supernatural totem.


In true Secret Sun style, the 'Song to the Siren' made its worldwide debut in a very strange and unlikely venue. It was first heard on the final episode of The Monkees TV show in 1968. 

And as readers would probably expect by now, the episode dealt with aliens, mind control and black magic. Plus, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band:
The episode begins with a sunrise scene as the boys awaken to the sounds of the Beatles’ “Good Morning Good Morning,” which was the first time the Beatles had allowed their music to be used in a non-Beatles arena. 
The episode is, in short, about the evil Wizard Glick (played by Rip Taylor) who is on a mission to control people’s minds via their television sets. The airwaves beam out a hypnotic eye that is, well, hypnotizing its viewers, a not-so-subtle comment on the brain deadening effects of television. 
Evil wizards using alien technology to take over the world? Why does that sound so familiar?
Eventually, the boys discover that a creature called the Frodis plant had been captured when its spaceship landed on Earth, and was being used for evil by Wizard Glick. They realize they must rescue the Frodis and return it to its spaceship. Upon rescue, the plant emits this cloud of smoke, and in the process, seems to mellow out Glick and his cohorts, “I’ll let you work out that reference, folks,” adds Dolenz. The anti-war song “Zor and Zam” is featured during the “typical Monkees romp.”
As the story part of the episode ends, on walks the late singer-songwriter Tim Buckley to perform a solo acoustic version of his classic “Song to the Siren.” Buckley was a friend of Dolenz, who thought he should be introduced to the world. 
The beautiful song had, at the time, not been released.  
Note John Lennon wrote 'Good Morning Good Morning'. 

The episode is also known as "Mijacogeo," a (sub)title which wouldn't sound out of place on a Cocteau Twins record. In fact, there's even a scene where the Monkees begin chanting  in a style not unfamiliar to Cocteaux fans.

I mentioned this episode several years ago but hadn't seen it until recently. And my god, is it terrible. But as it happens, it also had an alternate title; 'The Frodis Caper.' I hadn't known that until just this past week. What's the significance of that title?

Here, let me write it like this: FRodiScapER
No luck? Try this: FRodiScapER

How's that?

There's even an A in there, if you want to get anagrammatic. And an 'Odic' too. If you really want to get obsessive you can make the p silent (as in Pfeiffer).

Tim Buckley, who never actually knew his son, died of an OD in 1975 at the age of 27. But already the prophecy machine seemed to have hummed to life.

 It'll End in Tears including
'Song to the Siren'


And just so we're clear on all this, I'm by no means the only person who gets how eerie this whole situation is, even if I was probably one of the first outside of the inner circle of people involved to do so. Even The Guardian has caught on:
(Tim) Buckley's eerie original is backed by stark waves of guitar and occasional high-pitched "siren" wails (is it his voice? An extremely flanged guitar?), and his five-octave-spanning tenor – "the closest thing to flying without taking acid or getting on a plane," Watts-Russell reckons. 
But Fraser's version suggested she was the siren of Homer's Odyssey personified, luring lovers to a premature grave
Sinead O'Connor, who was heavily influenced by Elizabeth Fraser, frames the story quite well here:
"I didn't know Buckley hadn't written the words," O'Connor says, "but I always felt there was a prophecy of death in that song." It's apparently the reason Fraser won't discuss the song (an interview request was ignored). Tim Buckley's son Jeff wrote to her when he heard the This Mortal Coil cover and, a couple of years before he drowned, aged 30, in 1997, they had a relationship.
The Financial Times also suggestively dropped that tragedy onto the last paragraph of their piece on 'Song to the Siren', but also noted the TMC/Cocteau Twins' version was so influential, that subsequent versions have mostly been covers of them:
Their reading set the template for those that were to follow — drifty, druggy, drenched in reverb, a perfect setting for lyrics such as “Did I dream you dreamed about me?"
And it so transpires that there are lot of well-known fans of Fraser's interpretation (including superstar directors Peter Jackson and David Lynch):
In 2002, Robert Plant covered it on his Dreamland album, garnished with his characteristic “oh-ohs”. In 2007, George Michael opened his gig at the new Wembley stadium by singing “Siren” from offstage (he later released it as a single)…Sinéad O’Connor’s 2010 version is heavily indebted to This Mortal Coil’s mystic-Celticism.

Indeed, George Michael - Greek by origin- did his level best to reproduce- note for note- Elizabeth Fraser's version of the song. At what was one of the biggest gigs of his career.

Of course, Michael himself recently died under circumstances that don't seem entirely transparent. There was a lot of mystery surrounding his passing, even if it was subsequently declared to be from natural causes. But Michael wasn't the only pop superstar to worship the Twins:
Madonna loved them, Prince wanted to sign them and Scritti Politti's Green Gartside said the vocally gymnastic Fraser was his third favourite melodicist of all time (behind Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson).
You can throw in Peter Gabriel and Boy George as well (George once said Fraser was his favorite singer). And yes, Prince was indeed a major Cocteau Twins fan.
Tictactoe is the tenth track on Prince's 36th album Plectrumelectrum (the first by Prince and 3rdEyeGirl). It is likely the track was recorded in February 2014.  
The magazine quotes Prince describing the recording of the track: “We recorded it in Bryan Ferry’s studio Studio One in London, after a night of partying for which the Cocteau Twins was the soundtrack. You can’t understand the words of Cocteau Twins songs but their harmonies put you in a dreamlike state.” 
Prince also died recently, at too young an age. Under circumstances that have inspired terrabytes of Internet speculation.

When the Levee Breaks, originally recorded 
by "Hoodoo Lady" Memphis Minnie


And just to add more fuel to the occult fire we have the Led Zeppelin connection to all of this. 

As you know, both Jeff Buckley and his best friend Chris Cornell sang Led Zeppelin tunes (or more accurately, blues standards commonly associated with Led Zep) shortly before they died. And Zeppelin's personal connections to Buckley are well-recorded:
One man who loved Grace was Jimmy Page. There was arguably no-one whose opinion Buckley valued more. He’d sung Zeppelin songs at Sin-é…One might even say there was a transference of Zeppelin energy taking place, a blessing or endorsement from afar, from the older men to the young. When Page and Buckley met, it was clear they understood each other on a profound level. 
“Jeff told me they cried,” says Chris Dowd. “They actually cried when they met each other. Jimmy heard himself in Jeff, and Jeff was meeting his idol. Jimmy Page was the godfather of Jeff’s music. A lot of people thought Tim was the influence on Jeff, but it was really Zeppelin. 
Less known is Led Zeppelin's connection to the Cocteau Twins- Robert Plant was/is a major devotee, saying in one interview "I wanted to be the Cocteau Twins". Then there's this, from a Twins interview:
Robert Plant went through a phase of raving about them in every interview he did. Liz doesn't tell me about the time she introduced herself to him, but Robin does. They had gone to see Echo & the Bunnymen. Liz, who was a little tipsy, spotted Robert Plant at the bar and tapped him on the shoulder. 
"Excuse me," she said. "I read that you really like the Cocteau Twins.""Yeah," the mousy-maned ex-sex god grunted. "I like them. Do you like them?"Mortified, she muttered her assent and slunk away.
According to another telling what she actually said is, "they're OK, I guess." Which is absolutely adorable.


The lyrical swatches printed on the inner sleeve of the Cocteaux' 1982 debut album Garlands are tantalizing, and the band's official bio lists them in an interesting order. See this post for more information on Garlands.

And again, Jeff Buckley died on Garland Day.

First we have a quarrel with a lover, peppered with threats of violence.
"My mouthing at you; My tongue the stake; I should welt should I hold you; I should gash should I kiss you..." (Blind Dumb Deaf)

Things get a bit darker next- a song about blood sacrifice.
"Things from the forest die here, but I don't; Dead forest things are offered here, but I'm not...." (But I'm Not)

Then death on a river. Bear in mind the person who wrote these remarkable lyrics was only 18 years old:

"The then shallow she Earth as we know it; The then hallow she a sky for the sacred; Stars in my eyes; stars at my feet; womb in the belly; capital place..." (Shallow Then Halo)

As mentioned before, Memphis was the capital of Egypt's lower kingdom. And Jeff Buckley was swimming in shallow waters when he drowned (the deepest point of the Wolf River Harbor is only nine feet deep).

Next we have drugs, religion and death. 
"Garlands evergreen; forget-me-not wreaths; chaplets see me drugged; I could die in the rosary...." (Garlands)

Then this:
"Grail overfloweth, there is rain; and there's saliva and there's you...." (Grail Overfloweth)

As detailed before, we have two Buckley connections here, both to the rain during the search the night he disappeared and to the Grail-inspired "Corpus Christi Song" on Grace.

Now, returning to 'Shallow then Halo' we see wings and feathers connected to the river. We also see the mention of fertile soil.
Winged water
Feathered river
Dirty rich soil
Strong and fertile

What's the significance of wings and feathers to a river? Well, considering this is the Mississippi, perhaps we need to look at the Mississippi state seal for a clue.

Ahh. Dream-logic at work.

Then the soil:
At Cairo, Illinois, the Ohio River flows into the Mississippi, doubling its volume and creating the point that divides the Upper Mississippi from the Lower Mississippi. The Lower Mississippi Valley is a wide and fertile region… As it flows in this southern region, the Mississippi deposits rich silt along its banks.
Now this odd use of she:

"The then shallow she Earth as we know it; 
The then hallow she a sky for the sacred"

Wouldn't you just know it, the word sidhe is pronounced "she." In the context of the lyrics here it just happens that sidhe makes a lot more sense than she. 

Try this: "the then-shallow sidhe" (a spirit in shallow waters) and the "the then-hallow sidhe" (a spirit honored as sacred, re:"a sky for the sacred").

 If you didn't catch the update on the Chris Cornell post, here's the lowdown on one of the Siren's Celtic cousins:
In Celtic folklore, the leannán sí "Fairy-Lover" a beautiful woman of the Aos Sí …who takes a human lover. 
Lovers of the leannán sídhe are said to live brief, though highly inspired, lives.   
The leannán sídhe is generally depicted as a beautiful muse who offers inspiration to an artist in exchange for their love and devotion; however, this frequently results in madness for the artist, as well as premature death.
She also granted the power of prophecy.

The leannán sídhe is related to the more well-known Banshee. 
But only certain families of historic lineage, or persons gifted with music and song, are attended by this spirit; for music and poetry are fairy gifts, and the possessors of them show kinship to the spirit race—therefore they are watched over by the spirit of life, which is prophecy and inspiration; and by the spirit of doom, which is the revealer of the secrets of death.
Sometimes the Banshee assumes the form of some sweet singing virgin of the family who died young, and has been given the mission by the invisible powers to become the harbinger of coming doom to her mortal kindred. Or she may be seen at night as a shrouded woman, crouched beneath the trees, lamenting with veiled face; or flying past in the moonlight, crying bitterly...
And Jesus, here's a five-star money-quote if ever I heard one. It basically synopsizes this entire story:
The Banshee even follows the old race across the ocean and to distant lands; for space and time offer no hindrance to the mystic power which is selected and appointed to bear the prophecy of death to a family.  
Which would probably be a good time to drop this old bit of snarkery on you:
All you need to know about the Cocteau Twins is that they make Siouxsie and the Banshees records, OK? -- Melody Maker 10/16/82
Of course, the wild howling of early Cocteaux is more akin to the Banshee myth than Siouxsie's rather modest vocal range. But the influence is plainly there (the Scots seemed to be particularly found of the Banshees). Especially in early songs like "Speak No Evil", which offer more hints of that unexpected connection to witchcraft and the occult (bonus factoid: Fraser used to go around in outfits decorated with chicken bones):

My soul I sold
I can't forget to ask
There's nothing movin' it again
Wolf thirst said me

This song is included on the Garlands CD, alongside 'Shallow than Halo'. Note that- again- we have references to both a river in a song about drowning in shallow water and to a wolf in a song about a daemonic pact. 

In that latter line, we also have a suggestion of death and a connection to water ("wolf thirst"). And just to remind anyone new to this conversation here:
Making a stop at the Wolf River channel of the Mississippi River, a fully clothed Buckley waded into the water and began swimming. 

Noise Rock-era Twins opening for Killing Joke in 1982 

EXHIBIT TWO: Alas Dies Laughing

On their next release after Garlands (the ironically titled Lullabies EP), we see two more songs whose titles also make semiotic connections between birds and water travel, namely the songs 'Feathers Oar Blades' and 'It's All But an Ark Lark'.  Sandwiched between them is one of the Cocteau Twins' most unsettling songs, 'Alas Dies Laughing', a song the early PiL would have been proud to call their own.

After two attempts at conventional choruses, the song breaks down into a bridge that has (a pre-transformation) Fraser moaning like the Pythia as the fumes rise. After the breakdown, she dispenses with the niceties and lapses into a repetitive chant about exactly how Alas died laughing:

Wake takes a lonely one
Wake takes a lonely one

Wake takes a lonely one

Wake takes a lonely one

Wake takes a lonely one

Wake takes a lonely one

Wake takes a
Wake takes a

Wake takes a

Wake takes a

Wake takes a

Wake takes a 

Jesus. And just to remind everyone again:
The wake of a passing boat sucked Buckley under, and he drowned. His body was recovered six days later, after it was seen by a riverboat passenger.
So sandwiched between two songs that refer to boats (and symbolically connect to the Mississippi via the bird imagery) we have a song about drowning. In a wake. 

Fifteen years before the singer's lost love died that very same way. .

Now is it just me or is this like something out of one of Philip K Dick's most unhinged fever dreams?  This is really just the tip of the iceberg though.

EXHIBIT THREE: It's All But an Ark Lark

Those aren't all the clues to be found on Lullabies. 'Ark Lark' also has some as well.

It's all for my, all for my, all for my

Charisma- divine gift- originally referred to extraordinary characteristics of the gods. In Christianity, charisma manifests itself in glossolalia and prophetic gifts.

Barking and Biting, on my starsails
Barking and Biting, on my starsails
Barking and Biting, on my starsails
Barking and Biting, on my starsails

We have references to a wolf (yes, wolves do bark) and water travel again.

And oh yeah- 'Song to the Siren' was first recorded for the Tim Buckley album Starsailor.

Wolf. Water. Buckley. Siren. 

Then this:

He's mocking both my lullabies 
Is Mockingbird my lullabies?
Is mocking both my lullabies 
Is Mockingbird my lullabies?

Mockingbirds are the state bird of Tennessee.

These lyrics from 'Feathers Oar Blades' are tantalizing as well.

Here comes the oppressors
Oppress, fallen, weaken
Feathers-oar blades
Spitting their feathers
Spitting out oar blades 
Spitting out oar blades 

There are the feathers and water connected again. That notion of spitting feathers (Mississippi) and oar blades (Wolf River Harbor) is gnawing at my skull as well.


The band's next album would be released on Halloween 1983. With original bassist Will Heggie having quit, the duo needed to find a replacement. 
Although Robin and Liz hadn't specifically
          The Covenant and the Cargo Cult: Concluded   


Let's get this out of the way first - SPOILERS! Then this: Alien: Covenant is not a very good movie. 

It's not offensively terrible, in fact it goes out of its way to be as inoffensive as possible. Even the gore seems polite. 

I'd give you a synopsis but you can just as easily take all your favorite scenes from the Alien franchise, arrange them however you please, add in a cartoon villain whose motivations are entirely incomprehensible and then go fix yourself up some Jiffy Pop.

Alien: Covenant goes to great lengths to piss away the entire ontology proposed in the film it's meant to act as a sequel to, ostensibly annihilating the god-like Engineer race in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it CGI eruption that has all the heft and drama of a 80s video game. 

But at the same time it seems to tell a story beneath the surface narrative. And a lot of its riffs will be well familiar to anyone versed in Ancient Astronaut Theory. Which, let's face it, was arguably extraneous to the running plot of Prometheus (space mission finds remains of alien race mixed up with the xenomorph progenitors).

As Gordon and I discussed, it also feels like it meant to originally serve as the advance guard for a new AAT media blitz*, a plan that appears to have been scuttled in the wake of Hurricane Trump and the resultant cold (for the time being) civil war the country has been plunged into. 

I've never seen divide-and-rule politics as divisive as what we're seeing today, with the ostensible goal being to atomize the population into impotent, squabbling subsects in order to preempt any potential challenge to oligarchal rule, even if the oligarchy itself is itself carved up into mutually antagonistic camps. (I should mention here that this whole program seems to have fired up in the wake of the Occupy movements).

Of course there's also the fact that the easiest social grouping (tribe, country, empire, etc) to conquer is one that's divided against itself. 

Just saying.

But even this miserable turn of events seems to resonate with the AAT perspective as well, specifically the "gods at war" subplot running through Zecharia Sitchin's bibliography, as well as some of the theorizing emerging on the fringe science circuit.

Now, there's a strand of thinking among those who wrestle with the Fermi Paradox, essentially arguing that high technology is inherently anti-adaptive and inevitably leads to self-destruction. 

What this theory essentially proposes is that we've not had any (acknowledged) contact with extraterrestrial races because they've all been wiped out by their own advanced technology (read: 'weaponry'). This of course is a wildly egocentric assumption ("extraterrestrial races are all as savage and murderous as we are") and automatically presumes that our own high technology is not in fact some kind of alien intrusion, even if it behaves every bit like one.

I bring this up because there are two running themes in Alien: Covenant I do want to unpack, because they do (obliquely) reference some of the basic tenets of AAT (the film seems to keep a lot of its AAT on the DL).

First off is David's genocide of the Engineer planet. This was a fairly ridiculous subplot, essentially chucking everything we were told about these beings in the first film. This is a billions year-old race that seeded all life on Earth and yet they're all defeated by a lone android who had hijacked one of their spacecraft? Huh?

Wouldn't they naturally have some kind of defense infrastructure that would have intercepted this ship before it ever reached orbit? There's no attempt at following the story's own internal logic.

Now there are all kinds of ways you could have made sense of this. The Engineers had degenerated over the millennia and lost their high technology, that they'd become so drunk on their own power that they never expected any exterior challenge, etc etc etc. But the film makes absolutely no attempt to sell any of that.

But by the same token there's a fascinating allegory at work here, even if it's unintentional, and that ties back to the war of the gods theme running through a lot of AAT theorizing. 

Note that the Engineers aren't decked up in their Gigeresque finery in the apocalypse scene but look more like the kind of quasi-Medievals familiar to space fantasy fans. They also look pretty stupid gazing up at the approaching ship like the hapless New Agers in Mars Attacks. 

But were they in fact the Engineers? Some fans don't seem to think so.

A closer look at the (humanoid) aliens in the film may suggest that this in fact was another descendant race, the clue being the skintone (matte and pinkish as opposed to chalky white and moderately reflective). They also don't seem quite as black-eyed. Another clue is their reaction to the ship, arguably suggesting these people were expecting their gods to return.


Is this a fakeout or a reference to another covert subplot altogether? It's possible there was a revelation that this was just a descendant race in the original script but that all got lost in the rewriting process. 

Perhaps David's apparent plan to kill off the human colonists- who are both his progenitors and another descendant race- are the clue here. Either way, the story (mankind's cousins wiped out by a space invader) ties in pretty neatly with the theories put forth by plasma physicist Dr. John Brandenburg:
"Dr. Brandenburg has previously theorized that the red color of Mars and the radioactive substances in its soil are the result of a thermonuclear explosion from natural causes. He now says that the “high concentration” of Xenon-129 in the Martian atmosphere and uranium and thorium on the surface are remnants of two unnatural nuclear explosions, most likely triggered by alien invaders. 
"Who were these aliens invading and eventually wiping out? Brandenburg believes Mars once had a climate like Earth and was inhabited by two civilizations – one in a region called Cydonia Mensa and another at Galaxias Chaos. Why these two regions? 
'Analysis of new images from Odyssey, MRO and Mars Express orbiters now show strong evidence of eroded archeological objects at these sites.'
According to Brandenburg, the Martians maintained a high civilization, albeit a non-technological one:
He says Mars once had an Earth-like climate home to animal and plant life, and any intelligent life would have been about as advanced as the ancient Egyptians on Earth.
There's also David's genetic tinkering with the xenomorph genome. As a self-styled god, David here is playing the part suggested by AATheorists, who postulate that the Anunaki went through a series of experiments in creating the modern human genome and eradicated unwanted models while they did so. 

Strangely enough, this also correlates to the AAT-friendly origin myth put forth by the ancient Greek writer Hesiod in his landmark Works and Days. Hesiod, significantly, was apparently deeply influenced by Babylonian literature, the Enuma Elish in particular

And the war of the gods certainly correlates to the Titanomachy, or the wars between the Olympians and their progenitors, the Titans.

So is there an unspoken inference that David is the titular Prometheus, defying the "gods" and shepherding the engineered development of the xenomorph race? In the context of the film itself it's really hard to care one way or the other but it does suggest that there was in fact a lot more meat on the bone in previous drafts of the script.


But it's worth noting that the Alien franchise is not only another example of a major SF property that revolves around AAT it's also an example of a SF franchise onto which AAT was grafted midstream (at the same time it was grafted onto the Predator franchise). 

Some franchises have AAT baked into their genome at conception (Star Trek (more or less), the Space Odyssey series, Battlestar Galactica) but many more seem to have it implanted sometime into their runs (Quatermass, Doctor Who, X-Files, Indiana Jones, Transformers, Jonny Quest, Godzilla, Doom, Halo, Assassin's Creed). 

When the Olympics came to Hollywood

This raises a very simple question: why? Is there in fact a AAT cargo cult at work in the entertainment industry? I mean that sounds ridiculous, right? 

Well, maybe it seems a bit less so when you look at the influence the Nine had on the Star Trek franchise (relaunching on television this year) or the fact that one of the most powerful cults in Hollywood is explicitly AAT-oriented right down to its very core. There's also the Mormon Church, which is at the very least AAT-compatible.

On the other hand, there's also the Brookings Report. 
The report has become noted for one short section entitled "The implications of a discovery of extraterrestrial life", which examines the potential implications of such a discovery on public attitudes and values. The section briefly considers possible public reactions to some possible scenarios for the discovery of extraterrestrial life, stressing a need for further research in this area. It recommends continuing studies to determine the likely social impact of such a discovery and its effects on public attitudes…" 
One detail that caught the eye of researchers like Richard Hoagland is the mention of possible artifacts discovered on our neighbors, artifacts that might call our entire view of our planet and our very existence into question.
"While face-to-face meetings with it will not occur within the next twenty years (unless its technology is more advanced than ours, qualifying it to visit Earth), artifacts left at some point in time by these life forms might possibly be discovered through our space activities on the Moon, Mars, or Venus." 
And then there's this passage, which basically explains why so many STEM types are so deeply wounded by AAT:
"It has been speculated that, of all groups, scientists and engineers might be the most devastated by the discovery of relatively superior creatures, since these professions are most clearly associated with the mastery of nature, rather than with the understanding and expression of man. Advanced understanding of nature might vitiate all our theories at the very least, if not also require a culture and perhaps a brain inaccessible to Earth scientists."  

And the money quote: suggestions for how that eventuality- or some kind of alien contact- might be managed by the Managers.
Continuing studies to determine emotional and intellectual understanding and attitudes -- and successive alterations of them if any -- regarding the possibility and consequences of discovering intelligent extraterrestrial life. 
Historical and empirical studies of the behavior of peoples and their leaders when confronted with dramatic and unfamiliar events or social pressures. Such studies might help to provide programs for meeting and adjusting to the implications of such a discovery. Questions one might wish to answer by such studies would include: How might such information, under what circumstances, be presented to or withheld from the public for what ends?  
And lo and behold, 57 years after the Brookings Report we get this:
The solar system that humanity calls home may have once been inhabited by an extinct species of spacefaring aliens, a top scientist has suggested. 
A space scientist has suggested ancient extraterrestrials could have lived on Mars, Venus or even Earth before disappearing without a trace. 
In a fascinating academic paper about “prior indigenous technological species,” Jason T. Wright from Pennsylvania State University raised the fascinating possibility that evidence of these extinct aliens could exist somewhere in the solar system. 
Wright is an astronomer who received global attention after suggesting an “alien megastructure” had been spotted in orbit around a distant star.Now the stargazer has said advanced aliens may have left behind “technosignatures” for us to find — if only we knew where to look for them.
Of course, this is exactly what Richard Hoagland has been talking about- and has been roundly attacked for doing so- for at least the past 40 years. But I suppose it's different when the very same theorizing comes from within the priesthood.

It's funny; last night I was cutting the grass and thinking about stuff. You know, like you do when you're cutting the grass. Then I started mulling over how simplistic and repetitive the Ancient Aliens show is and how quickly Giorgio Tsoukalos transformed himself into a cartoon character. 

But then I realized that's how educational indoctrination works in our culture. 

All kinds of teaching and training materials in public schools use cartoon characters, right? Walt Disney probably made a fortune licensing his characters for educational films. And it's through repetition that people really learn anything. 

So Ancient Aliens might chew over the same gristle year after year but that helps keep its messaging consistent as its audience ebbs and flows (read: enters/graduates high school). Love it or loathe it, you have to acknowledge that there's a cogent methodology at work there. 

Government-conditioning program or cult indoctrination, they all work out of the same toolbox.

Is it all leading up to some major revelation, the way 'Disclosure' advocates expect? Or is all leading up to some massive Project Blue Beam type of hoax? 

Well,  why would anyone expect it to? Why would anyone expect the skies to open- or not- as the climax of all this conditioning? 

The answer, of course, is Hollywood. Because that's the way it works in the movies. Real life doesn't usually work that way. 

However, no matter who or what is behind all this the fact remains that, like it or don't, AAT (and the UFO topic in general) have already dramatically changed our culture, our technology and our society. Certainly our popular culture. 

Being a bit long in the tooth it still boggles my mind how many younger people take the basic assumptions of AAT for granted, even if they haven't read a page of Sitchin or Von Daniken or even watched a single Ancient Aliens. They don't have to. So much of their favorite pop culture is neck deep in it.

*You can toss in the Sekret Machines project here, spearheaded by former Blink 182 guitarist Tom Delonge and Peter Levenda of Necronomicon and Sinister Forces fame, and involving all kinds of Deep State heavies such as John Podesta.

          Twin Peaks and the Metaphysics of Evil   

Well, after 27 years of waiting and a good 18 months of hype it's finally here. Showtime aired the two-hour Twin Peaks reboot premiere and posted the first four episodes (the premiere was broken in two) online. I binged the first three as soon as they went up and the last episode the following morning.

My first impression? Ye gods, it's weird.

I mean, even on the David Lynch sliding scale, it's weird. How weird? Well, it makes the weird bits of Mulholland Dr and Inland Empire play like Days of Our Lives. Some door in Lynch's unconscious seems to have gone well off its hinges. 

It's also maddeningly inconsistent, veering from long, flabby scenes where nothing seems to happen to random bursts of truly disturbing horror and violence. There are a number of high profile cameos that range from the numinous (the more-radiant-than-ever Madeline Zima) to the far less-so (Michael Sera comes across as the pretentious kid in your ninth grade drama club) and an extremely confusing subplot with a Dale Cooper-alike in Las Vegas, not to mention the actual Dale Cooper and his demonic doppelganger.

But you know me, this shit's right up alley. I was at turns bored, riveted, horrified and embarrassed but I'm counting the hours to the next episode (which will go live on June 4th).

But the rest of the country? Maybe not so much.

Since we live in a culture that measures the quality of art in dollars and demos the big story on Twin Peaks was the tepid ratings it got. From Vulture:
The owls are not what they seem, and neither was viewer interest in a Twin Peaks revival — at least if Nielsen ratings are your metric for success. Per the ratings giant, Sunday’s quarter-century-in-the-making Twin Peaks: The Return attracted just 506,000 same-day viewers to Showtime via the network’s main linear channel.
But same-day is an archaic metric, isnt it? I'm sure the overwhelming majority of the audience will be consuming Twin Peaks online. We cut the cord a while back and haven't missed it. No one was actually watching the cable feed anyways. Vulture again:
First, it’s worth remembering the 506,000 viewer number reported by Nielsen Tuesday represents only a fraction of the audience that will ultimately consume Peaks across various Showtime linear and digital platforms. When measured over the course of weeks, rather than a single night, it’s quite common for premium cable series to end up with three, four, or even five times as many unique viewers as the same-day Nielsen ratings suggest. The actual audience for Sunday’s Twin Peaks resurrection will likely end up in the 2–3 million viewer range — no doubt less than what Showtime execs hoped for when they green-lit the project, but not quite as minuscule as these early numbers suggest.
But do note that the Twin Peaks premiere was watched by a mind-staggering 34 million Americans. But the blush came off that rose fairly quickly, especially during the second season when the series was relegated to the death slot. Even so, it has to be said that David Lynch has never been box office. Instead his audience is "more selective," as Ian Faith might have it. From Forbes.
Although David Lynch has always been something of a critical darling and a cult hero, the quality of his work hasn't necessarily translated into box office dollars. Yes, Mulholland Drive got rave reviews and was even voted best film of its decade by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (full disclosure: I'm a member and did not vote for it, feeling that as a rejiggered TV pilot it wasn't as deep as people were giving it credit for). But in terms of box office, it only generated $20 million international. His follow-up,Inland Empire, was way down from even that, at merely $4 million international, less than $1 million of which was domestic.
Just how selective it can be is evidenced by this frankly arrogant passage in the Variety review, written by Sonia Saraiya:
The bankable popularity of “Twin Peaks” also makes for an inexplicably stupid scene at the Bang Bang where the indie-electronic band Chromatics performs to a room of middle-aged townies taking tequila shots. Nothing says rural, small-town, faded glory like an impossibly cool synthpop band.  
What time period is Saraiya living in? First of all The Chromatics are an 80s revival band so it goes without saying that they would appeal to the "middle-aged townies" who grew up on synthpop. Second, Twin Peaks is set in the Pacific Northwest, which last time I checked was pretty hep to pop culture. Third, Lynch has been using synthpop in his projects since Blue Velvet. 

The Forbes review seems to get it:
 (The)Chromatics, as well as whatever industrial band it is that plays underneath footage of a car journey at night, fit effortlessly into the Lynchian soundscape.
But overall I think the more savvy viewers will adjust themselves to the jumbled narrative Lynch is putting on the table. As agog as I felt during long stretches of my binge I came out of it with a strong sense of theme. 

Lynch sets up a number of different arcs in different settings. The story ranges from Twin Peaks to Manhattan to South Dakota to Las Vegas. Plus, what looks like outer space but may be some other dimension entirely. And oh yeah, the Black Lodge.

In Twin Peaks a phone call from the Log Lady to Deputy Sheriff Hawk reopens the Laura Palmer case. It's here where we get the strongest hit of that old time Peaks religion and a serving of familiar faces (maybe a little too generous a serving in some instances). We also get some rather stunning photography that would fit proudly on anyone's demo reel. Plus, an owl.

The story in Manhattan centers on a young man whose job it is to sit in a secure room and stare at a glass box on behalf of some shadowy billionaire. He's being courted by a gorgeous young woman (Zima, turning on her native charm like a flamethrower) who is inexplicably curious about his job.

Unlike some other reviewers I won't spoil this arc. But I will say you could cut out those sequences and have yourself a very fine Stevens-Stefano Outer Limits tribute on Lynch's part. I'm thinking "The Galaxy Being", "OBIT" and "Don't Open 'Til Doomsday" were spinning in very heavy rotation somewhere in Lynch's head, unconsciously or otherwise.

The South Dakota storyline updates us on the Dale Cooper doppelganger introduced in the final moments of the original series. There's another murder mystery on the menu and a very Twin Peaks undercurrent of small town sexual intrigue when a high school principal is accused of murdering his mistress. 

The Cooperganger comes across like Frank Booth on Xanax but no less lethal. To show us just how lethal he's featured in a murder scene that is frankly pretty hard to watch.

We encounter the original Cooper, still trapped in the Black Lodge. Which seems only to have gotten more insane in the intervening 27 years. Michael Anderson has been replaced by the One-Armed Man so you don't really miss a beat (Anderson disqualified himself after hurling some pretty wild insinuations against Lynch on his Facebook).

And plus there's a talking brain-tree thing which refers to itself as "the evolution of the arm" (Michael Anderson's character referred to himself as the Arm). Which is probably the least bizarre thing in the Cooper arc.

I mean, strap yourself in because the Cooper-Black Lodge arc goes absolutely bugshit, even more so than anything Lynch has ever filmed. If you thought the lodge stuff was crackers, you literally have seen nothing yet.

Although all these arcs might seem unrelated-- and most probably completely bewildering to anyone not acclimated to Lynch's surrealist vision-- I am sensing a very strong thruline here.

I may be projecting all over it but it feels to me that Lynch is presenting a new metaphysics for evil. 

There's been a debate as old as humanity about the origin of evil, whether it's an innate reality or an invader from without. With the Bob arc from the first series and now with the juxtaposition of the Black Lodge and the Glass Box Lynch appears to arguing that evil is in fact a foreign presence, a metaphysical force that intrudes into our reality to look for hosts. 

As if to concretize this we see that the evil Cooper is not of our Earth and once the real Cooper escapes from his imprisonment (a spoiler, but come on) he is weakened and himself imprisoned.

I would argue then that Twin Peaks is a narrative about the flowering of evil. 

It presents evil as an outside force that invades and sets up shop into our environment then goes about finding suitable hosts to express itself through. It destroys lives, ruins families and communities for no apparent reason then moves on. 

This theme was explored in the thorny and divisive Fire Walk With Me, with Laura Palmer's descent prefigured by her dream of the Black Lodge and with her father's possession by the evil spirit Bob (what a great name for a demon).

Of course, Lynch may well move onto other themes before the series is finished so this is a provisional analysis. But Lynch seems to be fairly consistent in his fixations if you get past the whimsy. 

A lot of people accused Mulholland Dr and Inland Empire of incoherence but they both make perfect sense when you figure out their secrets. They're also essentially the same film told from two different perspectives.

Anyhow, I'm very interested in hearing your thoughts on the series so far and any speculations you might have where all this is headed. I just hope the media doesn't just see it all as a numbers game.
          Chris Cornell: The Muses Choose Broken Vessels   

Jesus Christ Pose

The Alternative Rock explosion of the early 90s was fueled by a wave of great singers. After a lost decade of metallic shriekers and New Wave gurglers-- which some call the 80s-- there was suddenly an embarrassment of strong voices revitalizing rock music, especially hard rock music. 

Most of these had cut their teeth on punk and hardcore and subsequently learned to trim back the fat and excess that torpedoed their 70s forebears. They also learned to step around the wretched excesses that ran the 80s metal explosion into the ground; cookie-cutter sameness, image over substance, half-written songs, cliche piled on cliche.

Alternative rock would itself get watered down and xeroxed into oblivion, especially as careerists figured out a way to counterfeit the formula (I'm looking at you, Candlebox and Seven Mary Three) and record companies signed up every pseudo-grunge band they could find (and strong-armed other acts to hop on the bandwagon). 

By the end of the 90s it all devolved into an obnoxious fratboy rock (I'm looking at you, Limp Bizkit and Creed) that reached its inevitable apotheosis at the disastrous Woodstock '99 (held on a decommissioned military base). 

But before that all went down some of the most vital and exciting rock music of all time was produced.

Alternative Rock, or more accurately GenX Rock, has taken its place in the classic rock canon. Tracks by Nirvana, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are snuggled in tightly between all the Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith and Pink Floyd cuts overplayed on FM radio. But five of the most remarkable vocalists of that era- Kurt Cobain, Layne Staley, Jeff Buckley, Scott Weiland and now Chris Cornell--- are lost to us.

And the 9-ton Tyrannosaurus lurking in the back of the concert hall is that modern plague, clinical depression. It's a subject I'm all too familiar with. It's the witches' curse on Generation X.

Chris Cornell was an enigmatic figure among the Grunge pantheon. If Kurt Cobain was the snotty punk, Eddie Vedder the self-serious poet, Layne Staley the tortured howler and Scott Weiland the Joker in the pack, Cornell was an entirely unique presence, as was Soundgarden. Tall, lean but ripped, possessing an odd, androgynous beauty and an enviable black mane, he came across as aloof, Olympian. His piercing, multi-octave voice felt like a weapon,  more like an incarnation of Apollo the Destroyer than Ozzy Osbourne.

Similarly, Soundgarden was perhaps the most effective translator of the power of early Black Sabbath yet, but were brainy, difficult, challenging. 

They were unmistakably Heavy Metal-- in the original, Blue Cheer definition of the term --but didn't shriek the usual ditties about dick size and date rape. It was pretty clear they had no time for that kind of nonsense (See "Big Dumb Sex"). It was clear they took as much inspiration from King Crimson and Black Flag as from Zeppelin and Sabbath. 

Their first major single was an epic environmentalist jeremiad that goofed on Metal's "kill-your-mother-music" reputation by screaming "you're going to kill your mother" in the refrain. The mother here being Mother Earth, of course.

Predictably, Chris Cornell's corpse was literally not cold yet before the modern ambulance chasers of the Internet were declaring it was obviously an Illuminati sacrifice. One hilarious YouTard video went on about how there was no other explanation for Cornell's death, that he'd have no reason to kill himself. 

Obviously someone who never actually listened to a single stitch of Soundgarden.

Like Ian Curtis-- who hung himself 37 years almost to the day before-- many of Cornell's lyrics read like suicide notes. After all, this is a man who kicked off one of his biggest hits with the couplet "Nothing seems to kill me/ No matter how hard I try." Two of his other big hits "Black Hole Sun" and "Fell on Black Days" are practically master classes in the art of expressing the utter hopelessness ("'Neath the black the sky looks dead") that can overtake you when a depressive episode strikes. 

The same goes for Soundgarden's breakout hit, "Outshined," practically a hymn about searching for a crack of sunlight while waiting a dire episode out. "The Day I Tried to Live" is even more astonishing, a documentary retelling of those mornings when depression- aggression turned inwards- becomes aggression turned on the world outside.

Cornell was very candid about his struggles with depression. In an interview with Rolling Stone he discussed the inspiration for "Fell on Black Days":
This reissue includes several versions of "Fell on Black Days," which is pretty dark. What inspired it? 

Well, I had this idea, and I had it for a long time. I'd noticed already in my life where there would be periods where I would feel suddenly, "Things aren't going so well, and I don't feel that great about my life." Not based on any particular thing. I'd sort of noticed that people have this tendency to look up one day and realize that things have changed. There wasn't a catastrophe. There wasn't a relationship split up. Nobody got in a car wreck. Nobody's parents died or anything. The outlook had changed, while everything appears circumstantially the same. That was the song I wanted to write about. 
No matter how happy you are, you can wake up one day without any specific thing occurring to bring you into a darker place, and you'll just be in a darker place anyway. To me, that was always a terrifying thought, because that's something that – as far as I know – we don't necessarily have control over. So that was the song I wanted to write. 
It wasn't just for the gloom-metal gimmick of Soundgarden that Cornell laid bare his struggles. They crept into tracks he recorded with Audioslave- the supergroup made up of Cornell and the musicians of Rage Against the Machine, including their biggest hit "Like a Stone."

Cornell was also candid about his history with clinical depression, which he traced back to a somewhat hardscrabble upbringing. 
Cornell abstained from drug use for a time following an adverse reaction to the hallucinogenic PCP, but the frightening, dissociative experience, coupled with the trauma of his parent’s divorce, plunged him into a severe depression. “I went from being a daily drug user at 13 to having bad drug experiences and quitting drugs by the time I was 14 and then not having any friends until the time I was 16. There was about two years where I was more or less agoraphobic and didn’t deal with anybody, didn’t talk to anybody, didn’t have any friends at all.”
And clearly showing that he also struggled with suicidal ideation, Cornell foreshadowed his own end in an interview with, saying, “You’ll think somebody has run-of-the-mill depression, and then the next thing you know, they’re hanging from a rope." 

Writer Kate Paulk wrote about the black dog of depression recently and offered up an apt metaphor lifted from pop culture:
Let’s start by clearing up one thing. Sadness, grieving in response to a loss… that is not depression. It’s sadness. Grief. It passes with time, and even at its worst there are moments of joy and hope. Depression is not like that. Everything is poisoned. 
J. K. Rowling is describing depression when she describes the Dementors and their impact. Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. 
This is precisely what depression does. There is an absence of hope, an inability to believe that there can ever be anything positive in your life again. That isn’t sadness or grief, and it isn’t necessarily expressed by tears.
Cornell was also a substance abuser and dove headlong into an opioid addiction after Soundgarden split in 1997. It may well have come from a chronic pain issue, closely related to chronic depression: 
People with depression show abnormalities in the body’s release of its own, endogenous, opioid chemicals. Depression tends to exacerbate pain—it makes chronic pain last longer and hurts the recovery process after surgery. 
“Depressed people are in a state of alarm,” said Mark Sullivan, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Washington. “They’re fearful, or frozen in place. There’s a heightened sense of threat.” That increased threat sensitivity might also be what heightens sensations of pain. 
Opioids certainly aren't very effective painkillers in the long term but they are very effective anesthetics when you're struggling with chronic depression. 
Opioids treat pain, but depression and pain are often comorbid, and some antidepressants relieve neuropathic pain even in the absence of depression. Depression involves dysfunction in monoamine systems, the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, and hippocampal neurogenesis, but could it also be rooted in a deficit of endorphins, or even an endopharmacological withdrawal state? 
Before the modern antidepressant era, depression was often treated with opiates—with a sometimes heavy price of addiction.  
The real hell of opioids is that they rewire your brain, causing the natural processes that regulate depression and euphoria to atrophy. Depression can skyrocket when you stop taking them, since your brain basically forgot how to produce sufficient amounts of the neurotransmitters that manage your moods.
u-agonists relieve depression-like behavior acutely, but tolerance develops, and depression is worse on withdrawal from long-term administration. Delta-agonists appear to improve mood, while kappa-agonists worsen it. There is evidence that opioid dysfunction accounts for lack of pleasure in depression, while problems with dopamine impair motivation. Opioid systems, then, participate in many mood-related functions. They are examples of evolutionary repurposing of neurotransmitters that originally evolved for one purpose to meet a variety of other needs.

Cornell's family is understandably shocked by his death. His widow blames an elevated dose of the tranquilizer Ativan for the somewhat disturbing performance he put on in Detroit and his resulting suicide. 
Cornell died on the evening May 17th, 2017, shortly after performing a concert with Soundgarden in Detroit, MI. His death was met with shock by many; his representative described it as "sudden and unexpected," adding that the singer's family will be "working closely with the medical examiner to determine the cause." 
Hours after his death was reported, the Wayne County Medical Examiner's office ruled Chris' death a suicide by hanging. According to Us Weekly, a family friend had found Cornell on the bathroom floor of his MGM Grand hotel room. ABC News also reported that two Detroit papers claimed that Cornell was found with "a band around his neck," though Detroit Police spokesman Michael Woody could not confirm that information. 
Cornell's wife, Vicky, released a statement on his death on Friday, May 19th, 2017, in which she cast doubts that his suicide was intentional. In fact, on the day of his death, Vicky claimed they had "discussed plans for a vacation over Memorial Day and other things we wanted to do." "When we spoke after the show, I noticed he was slurring his words; he was different. When he told me he may have taken an extra Ativan or two, I contacted security and asked that they check on him," she said. 
"What happened is inexplicable and I am hopeful that further medical reports will provide additional details," she continued. "I know that he loved our children and he would not hurt them by intentionally taking his own life."
I think the fact that Cornell ad-libbed verses from "In My Time of Dying" over a rendition of "Slaves and Bulldozers" during the closing encore in Detroit  gives a fairly compelling signal that he had resolved himself to a course of action that night. Despite an incredibly shaky performance he seemed in good spirits to some, all too common with depressives resolved to suicide. But others noticed he seemed irritable and unfocused, forgetting the lyrics. He complimented the Detroit audience and then said, "I feel sorry for the next city."

An extra Ativan or two is unlikely to induce suicide. But long-term use of it (it's recommended that lorezepam-- a member of the highly-problematic benzodiazepene family-- be used only a short term basis) might. And it's very possible he took an extra dose of the drug to gird his loins for a decision he had already made:
Suicidality: Benzodiazepines may sometimes unmask suicidal ideation in depressed patients, possibly through disinhibition or fear reduction. The concern is that benzodiazepines may inadvertently become facilitators of suicidal behavior. Therefore, lorazepam should not be prescribed in high doses or as the sole treatment in depression, but only with an appropriate antidepressant.
Depression and suicidal ideation go hand in glove. And there are all kinds of psychiatric drugs that tell you upfront that suicidal ideation is a major side effect. How that doesn't keep them off the market is a mystery to me. 

The other problem is that people who obsess on suicide usually don't talk about it with people close to them since they realize that confessing to it will very likely act to derail what they have been planning. And again, professionals will tell you that very often when a depressive has resolved themselves to suicide they can often seem very cheerful and upbeat, since they believe that their suffering will soon end. 

So the question becomes if a rich, celebrated and handsome rock star can't find a reason to stay alive, what hope is there for the rest of us? Well, it's a lot more complicated than that. Aside from his struggles with clinical depression, Cornell was also beset by tragedy, losing people closest to him to early death. 

The first of these was his roommate Andrew Wood, the flamboyant singer for legendary Seattle band Mother Love Bone who died of a heroin overdose in 1990. Cornell was so shaken by Wood's death that he formed a defacto supergroup with members of MLB and recorded the now-legendary Temple of the Dog album as a tribute, which produced the grunge anthem "Hunger Strike" (featuring a duet between Cornell and future Pearl Jam star Eddie Vedder).

Temple of the Dog in fact led to the formation of Pearl Jam, facilitated by the introduction of Vedder to the Seattle scenesters by drummer Jack Irons, a member of the original Red Hot Chili Peppers who also played with Pearl Jam and Joe Strummer, among an army of others. Strangely enough, Irons has his own struggles with depression. As did Joe Strummer, for that matter. 

The Muses choose broken vessels. It's a Secret Sun truism. 

Cornell was so shaken by Wood's death that it would haunt Soundgarden songs as well.
The song you workshopped the most was "Like Suicide." In the liner notes, you say it kind of became a metaphor for how you were feeling at the time about late Mother Love Bone frontman Andy Wood. 
Yeah, the lyrics were actually this simple moment that happened to me. I don't know that I ever directly related it to Andy, though there are a lot of songs that people probably don't know where there were references to him or how I was feeling about what happened with him. I just think that that was something that happened to me that was a traumatic thing and that I had a difficult time resolving it. I still never really have. I still live with it, and that's one of the moments where maybe in some ways it could have shown up, but I'm not really sure specifically where.
Another body blow was the 1994 death of Kurt Cobain, another friend who died in time to cast a pall of existential darkness over Soundgarden's epochal Superunknown album, released a month before Cobain's death. So even as Soundgarden were enjoying their moment, death and tragedy revisited Cornell. (Cobain had his own issues, exacerbated by years of opioid abuse, but there are those of us who don't buy the suicide angle in this particular case).

It had to hurt, especially since Cobain had told Cornell that Soundgarden has inspired him to form Nirvana in the first place. 

Superunknown was an instant classic, easily one of the top 10 Hard Rock albums ever recorded, hammering you with one killer track after another. Along with Stone Temple Pilots' Purple album, Pearl Jam's Vitalogy and several others it established 1994 as the watershed for Alernative Rock, despite Cobain's death and Nirvana's dissolution. 

Soundgarden's 1996 follow-up Down on the Upside, failed to capitalize on its predecessor's momentum, and seem to showcase a band uncertain of direction and sense of purpose. No one was really surprised when Soundgarden broke up the following year. Oddly enough the breakup seemed to go down almost exactly three years after Kurt Cobain's death. 

But Tragedy wasn't finished with Cornell yet. Shortly after Soundgarden broke up Cornell would lose another soulmate.
He lost two friends within the space of a few years. Cobain died in 1994 and, three years later, singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley, practically a brother to Cornell, drowned while swimming in a tributary of the Mississippi in Tennessee.

"Kurt was fairly quiet and introverted most of the time. Jeff was the opposite. He was very much full of life and had a lot to say. He was somebody in love with experiencing everything. Within a very short time, he had all these famous old rock stars coming to his shows. Which put a a lot of pressure on him. People talked about his concerts the way they used to talk about Hendrix: they'd sit there, wide-eyed, telling you stories about him. He definitely had an aura. It's impossible to say what it is exactly a guy like that has, that is so attractive to other people. But he had more of it than anyone I had ever met."
Of course, this brings all this squarely into the Secret Sun wheelhouse. Cornell would be haunted by Buckley's death, writing the aching "Wave Goodbye" (in which he seems to channel Buckley's ghost) for his first solo album and acting as a de facto executor-slash-curator for Buckley's posthumous releases.

This tells us a lot, since the 20th anniversary of Jeff Buckley's death is coming up fast and furious. Cornell showed he was clearly still haunted by Buckley's passing when he brought the late singer's old landline phone onstage with him during his 2011 acoustic solo tour.
KALAMAZOO — I've had several people ask about the red phone that was on stage during Chris Cornell's 130-minute set at the Kalamazoo State Theatre last week. Cornell never addressed it during the show and it never rang, so I didn't think much of it. After another reader asked Monday, I looked into it. 
According to a representative with the New York-based Press Here Publicity, which handled promotion for Cornell's solo tour, the phone belonged to singer/songwriter Jeff Buckley.
As Secret Sun readers will remember, the last song Jeff Buckley sang before his death was "Whole Lotta Love", a blues standard that Led Zeppelin turned into what one critic called "a themonuclear rape."

And it would be "In My Time of Dying," another old blues standard that Led Zeppelin turned into a jackhammering stomper that acted as Cornell's own self-elegy. This, along with the timing of Ian Curtis's own death by hanging in 1980 seems a bit too synchronized for Cornell's death to be some kind of mad whim because he took too much Ativan.  As painful as it might be to admit, it seems as if this was probably a very long time coming. After all, this is the man who wrote "Pretty Noose."

So it seems apparent that it wasn't the Illuminati but in fact the demon possession of depression that took Chris Cornell away from his family. With many of his closest friends gone and the glory days of the 90s more and more a fading memory in a world itself gripped by chronic depression, I can't say I'm surprised by the suicide ruling.  

The life of the rock star in 2017 is a galaxy away from the golden age of the rock star in 1977. It's become a grueling job in the age of streaming and piracy, since you need to make all your money on the road now. Spending your life traveling from one brutalist concrete box to another when you're fifty-two is surely a lot less appealing than when you're twenty-two.

If there's any good to come of this tragedy it's to understand that depression isn't some kind of scarlet letter, it's an inevitable result of what one scientist called "the greatest blind experiment in history," the bombardment of our brains and bodies with every manner of stimulus and stress imaginable, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and then some.

Having spend my teenage years in the white-hot cauldron of hardcore punk I can tell you that that kind of hyperstimulation had -- how do I put this? --less than a salutary effect on a lot of people I knew. Seeing that same formula translated into the mainstream culture goes a long way in explaining why depression has become the great mass epidemic of our time. Now it's claimed another trophy and we're all the poorer for it.

But as the Greeks and Romans once said, vita brevis ars longa

French philosophers once said that the invention of motion pictures had conquered death, that people would now live on forever once they were recorded. I guess the same goes for recorded music as well. So I think it's safe to say that after three decades of music, Chris Cornell has earned his place among the immortals. Let's hope someone learns something from his story.

          Covenant and the Cargo Cult, Part 2: Hollywood Babylon   

Several years ago I blogged on the Oscars and the enigma of the Hollywood and Highland complex they're held in, specifically the very odd presence of the Babylon Gate, recreated from DW Griffith's epic flop, Intolerance. As I wrote back in 2008:
The rear entrance to the theatre is a massive recreation of the Babylon Gate from D.W. Griffiths’s Intolerance (Griffith was yet another Hollywood Freemason)... Near the top rim of the gate is a border design made of 17 keyhole-shaped objects. It seems only appropriate that behind the Babylon Gate stands the Renaissance Hotel, located on the 1700 block of Highland Ave. 
All well and good, right? Now ask yourself- what in Heaven's name is this doing in the courtyard of the venue where the World's most prominent awards ceremony is held every year? What connection is this alleged to have to the Oscars? I mean, the symbolism is obvious but what's the cover story?
Well, apparently the cover story is that the legendary writer Ray Bradbury- the poet laureate of science fiction-- insisted that the Gate be installed at the plaza. Why exactly and exactly how he had such pull with the H&H developers is a real brain-teaser. Bradbury is quoted thusly:
"I told them that somewhere in the city, they had to build the set from the 1916 film Intolerance by D. W. Griffith. The set, with its massive, wonderful pillars and beautiful white elephants on top, now stands at the corner of Hollywood and Highland avenues. People from all over the world come to visit, all because I told them to build it. I hope at some time in the future, they will call it the Bradbury Pavilion." 
Well, that's all well and good but the fact remains that the planners probably wouldn't have gone to the trouble and expense of recreating the Gate simply to humor a writer, no matter how respected he may be. And there's the blindingly obvious symbolism to be unpacked here.

Because what we're talking about here is the literalizing of "Hollywood Babylon," which you have to admit is kind of a ballsy, in-your-face kind of move. Note you don't see any other pseudo-cyclopean artifacts from any other ancient culture there. Of course, what it also does is make a very specific and definitive statement as to what Tinseltown holds most sacred. 

I mean, Babylon. Think about it for a moment. 

Did I mention that they hold the Oscars here, the 800-pound gorilla of all award ceremonies?

As you may already know, Babylon is a Greek rendering of the Akkadian bav-ilim, which means "Gate of the Gods." So the H&H gate is in fact a symbolic representation of a portal to the world of the gods, or a stargate if you prefer.

What's more, Babylon was founded by the great usurper Sargon of Akkad, who we discussed last year not only for his conquest of Sumer-- and all that implies-- but for the possible fingerprints he might have left on several Bible stories as well as the Prometheus mythologies.
Now, pay close attention to what happened next- the devil, as always, is in the details: A Lugal- a giant- bound in chains to appease a sky god: why does that sound so familiar?  
Oh yeah, because that's Prometheus' story as well.
 Lugal-zagesi marched his army from Kish to meet Sargon in battle and was defeated. Sargon then put Zagesi in chains, tied a rope around his neck, and took him to the city of Nippur, sacred to the god Enlil upon whom Lugalzagesi had relied, and forced him to march in humiliation through the Enlil's gate. 
Again with the gates.

So the Babylon Gate doesn't just connect back to Sumer and the foundation of Western civilization and the monotheistic religions (Abraham was actually Sumerian), it also ties into-- you guessed it-- Ancient Astronaut Theory, specifically through the influential work of Zecharia Sitchin. 

For whatever problems Sitchin's work may have, no one did more to identify Sumer with ancient astronauts in the public imagination. 

Did I mention that many of the biggest SF movie/TV franchises coming out of Hollywood have Ancient Astronaut Theory as the basis of their mythology? I did? Good. 

I would argue that the Gate also ties into the Lucifer archetype through the Zagesi-Prometheus link, not to mention through the fascinating constellation of mysterious yet crucially important Sumero-Akkadian fire gods, variously known as Gibil (Gilgamesh is a rendering of Gi-bil-aga-mis, which literally means "Gibil is commander"), Girra (which literally means "Light-Bringer"), Nusku (the guardian of dreams and lord of the night) and others. 

This Babylonian Lucifer was described in language anyone raised Christian would recognize (such as "first-born son of God," for starters) two-thousand years before Jesus walked the Earth. 

This Babylonian Lucifer was also a binary god. He Incarnated the elemental power of fire, so over the years there were both benevolent and malevolent fire gods. The badass fire god was Nergal, god of the underworld (also known as Lugalgirra, Erra, etc). Like Osiris (immortalized in the Oscar statuette itself) Nergal was believed to represent the Sun in the underworld.

This of course re-emerged in the form of the much-later innovation of Satan and Lucifer representing the dark and light natures of the Princes of Hell. How exactly that little arrangement arose in the Middle Ages, when the original Akkadian/Babylonian texts were believed to have been long lost, is another puzzler altogether.

The Babylonian Lucifer not only surfed his way along the waves of cultural displacement,  the Assyrians saw him as a bulwark against black magic and witchcraft, as recorded so famously in the astonishing Maqlu grimoire (which Necromonicon fans should really take the time to read).

So I should probably insert the fact that Gordon referred to Alien: Covenant as a "Space Lucifer" movie, for reasons I get even though I haven't seen the movie yet. Well, I should say that haven't seen the last third of the movie that hasn't been previewed or clipped on YouTube.


I have to admit it blows my mind  how the Sumerian religion-- which existed for millennia before the Sumerians were displaced from the roll of history-- was adopted with only superficial innovations by their conquerors. And their conquerors. And their conqueror's conqueror's conquerors. 

You're looking at a tradition that arose out of Neolithic times-- at the least-- and persisted up until the time of the Muslim conquests (albeit in a relatively-reduced form as "Chaldean Magic"). And of course it had a major influence on the Biblical tradition as well as on Zoroastrianism (which seems to be very heavily informed by Girra/Nusku temple practices brought back to Iran after the Achaemenid conquest of Babylon).

And in a way the Sumerian religion endures to this day. Not only in the influence it had on the Abrahamic religions but also in its Space Age makeover as the backbone of AAT and alien conspiracy theory, which themselves are slowing evolving into (neo-Gnostic) religions of their own. 

Don't believe me? Go to YouTube and run a search on Anunaki. I just did and it coughed up a whopping 399,00o results.

But the Anunaki aren't the only Sumerian gods in town these days. There are also the Igigi, who some have compared to the Greys of UFO lore fame. And more recently, there seems to be a rediscovery of the Seven Sages, aka the Apkallu.

It is noted, “The Apkallu were seven demigods created by Enki, one of the chief Sumerian gods…Enki referred to as ‘Ea,’ which is the name he was later given in Babylonian and Akkadian mythology.” As a styled sidenote, see Seven gods of chaos. Also, you may recall the reference to Enkin in Is the Bible an Anunnaki control mechanism? 
(A)s per the Sumerian mythology “These beings were sent by Enki to teach human beings the arts of civilization: agriculture, writing, building, and so on.” Which correlates to the Book of Enoch noting that various Angels called “Watchers” taught humanity various skills.
Indeed they do. The Apkallu are practically a godsend to any Ancient Astronaut theorist worth his aluminum. Note that Apkallu are usually depicted with wings, being the origin of  the association of angels and wings. Well, the ones that aren't depicted as fish like our old friend Adapa, better known as Oannes.

What's more, the Apkallu are yet another example of what Gordon White calls the "civilizing trickster gods." Maybe one of the first, actually.

Gee, kind of like what's-his-name. You know, Prometheus:

(T)he origin of Watchers derives from the Mesopotamian mythology of the antediluvian sages (apkallus). More precisely, it is proposed that the mythology of Watchers and their sons the giants derived from inverted versions of various Mesopotamian myths and beliefs about apkallus. On some layers of Mesopotamian mythology and ritual practices, the sages were already regarded as dangerous and potentially malicious creatures, upon which the Jewish authors could build their parody.  
Among other associations, the apkallus had strong ties to Mesopotamian demonology, and they were occasionally counted as evil beings, capable of witchcraft. This shows that the wickedness of antediluvian teachers of humankind in Jewish sources was not wholly an inversion of the Mesopotamian traditions by Jewish scholars, but was partly taken from already existing trends in Mesopotamian demonology.

So it's probably here that I should mention that the figures on the Hollywood Babylon Gate are actually Apkallu. Yeah, how about that, huh?

Then I should mention that this very oddly-specific bit of product placement ties back to a very ancient practice indeed:
Figurines of apkallus were buried in boxes as foundationdeposits in Mesopotamian buildings in order to avert evil fromthe house. The term massar, ‘watchers’, is used of these setsof gurines in Akkadian incantations according to ritual texts.This appellation matches the Aramaic term yryn, ‘the wakefulones’, for both good angels and the Watchers.
So the more you look at it, the more significant that gate looks. And the less likely it was put there on Ray Bradbury's suggestion. Unless he too was part of the cult.

Which cult am I referring to here? Well, indulge me for a moment.

Take all the major franchises, minor franchises, movies, cartoons and TV shows (not to mention video games) that center around Ancient Astronaut Theory, then factor the Hollywood & Highland Babylon Gate into the equation. 

Thanks to Reader Brooke

You'll probably see why I strongly suspect there may be a secret cargo cult at the very heart of the entertainment industry. I'm not alone in this. A lot of Christian conspiracy theorists believe AAT is the "Great Deception" the Bible warns of.

I should also remind everyone that AAT made a big, bad splash into the entertainment racket mere weeks after Kenneth Arnold and Roswell, in the form of "Son of the Sun," written by occultist Millen Cooke.

So what you're probably asking yourself is what difference does all this make in the Age of Trump and 'the Resistance' and all the rest of it? Well, Trump will probably be gone soon (my guess at least*) and so too will the endless shitstorm he's kicked up in his wake.  

And all of this Anunaki stuff will still be there, waiting patiently. It's had thousands of years to practice. It's seen quite a few Trumps and 'Resistances' come and go. It all seems to be following a very specific arc and moving towards a very specific destination.


* As I wrote in the FB group, "The Praetorians engineered Trump's election precisely because they planned to remove him. They would have done the same with Hillary but figured Trump was a softer target." History teaches us that's the way Praetorians roll.

          Reel Paganism::The "Folk Horror" Revival    

Ah, those Years of Seven. We looked at the significant anniversaries in the World of Weird this Year of Seven is marking, from Heaven's Gate and the Phoenix Lights to the Harmonic Convergence to the releases of Star Wars and Close Encounters of the First Kind. As it happens, there's another major anniversary on the docket this year and that's the birth of the modern "NeoPagan" movement.
Fifty years ago, in 1967, three organizations were formed which would have a profound impact on the shape of contemporary Paganism: Frederick Adams founded Feraferia, a wilderness mystery religion; Aidan Kelly and others formed the New Reformed Order of the Golden Dawn, an eclectic witchcraft tradition; and Tim (Oberon) Zell filed for incorporation of the Church of All Worlds, which was based on the fictional religion described in Robert Heinlein’s novel, Stranger in a Strange Land.
As the Church of All Worlds shows, the NeoPagan movement was born out of the rising Geek insurgency, out of a fermenting sub-subculture in which Dune, Star Trek and Lord of the Rings had well and colonized the imaginations of the young and dateless.

The crossover would become so successful that the strict atheism and naturalism that had once been de rigeur in sci-fi (and fandom in general) would soon be put on its back foot by this new Mysticism, a current that would revolutionize pop culture with the runaway success of Star Wars.

NeoPaganism occupied a fair bit of real estate in the collective mind of Fandom but has never been the upstart mass movement its adherents might have you believe. It probably peaked as a movement in the 1990s (with Buffy, the Vampire Slayer) and, if the current alarm bells being rung in the NeoPaganism blogosphere are any indication, has been receding ever since. So much so that many NeoPagans believe the jig is finally up.

Contemporary Paganism isn’t an institution, but we do have institutions, and many of them are  struggling to survive.  Cherry Hill Seminary announced last year that it might not be able to continue its programming.  CUUPS is hardly thriving.  The Pagan Community Statement on the Environment, which is quite possibly the single largest expression of Pagan voices ever, has not yet collected a mere 10,000 signatures in the two years since it was published.  And, as far as I can tell, none of the organizers of Pagan festivals and conferences have reported significant growth in recent years. These are just a few examples of Pagan institutions that I have been involved with to one degree or another over the years.
In Britain, where so much of the Wicca and NeoPaganism we recognize today was born, the situation seems pretty much the same. NeoPaganism is struggling there too, ironically as the current Chaos Magick revival is picking up steam.
 I’ve been told that the number of registered members of the Pagan Federation has gone down for the first time. At the Harvest Moon Conference in 2016, Melissa Harrington confessed that she felt that this decline in active participation was indicative of Paganism “going underground” again. Most of the Pagan Federation events I’ve been to recently have shown a similar demographic spread to OBOD ones. 
My concern is that the declining number of young participants in the Pagan community in Britain, and the general diminution of those taking an active role in the community as a whole, indicates that that growth has stalled. British Paganism—as a subculture and as a movement—is in trouble.
I'm not at all surprised by this. I'd wager that most NeoPagans had some kind of traditional religious upbringing, which made them at least casually familiar with the basics of ritual and theology. With traditional religion a fading memory among NeoPaganism's mission field, it becomes harder than ever to attract people to the surrogate community that NeoPaganism promises. 

But there's also the problem of the movement failing to deliver what it promises:
What is in decline, then, is something quite specific—the Pagan Movement; a collection of organisations, publications, ceremonial genres, training courses. That collection is no longer feeding the appetite of the general public for the magical.
Then there's the prickly issue of sectarianism. NeoPaganism bears only a glancing resemblance to the ancient variety, but it's chock full of the kind of perpetual fragmentation that a Pagan in ancient Alexandria might have been sick of. One blogger is even pushing an atheist strand of NeoPaganism:
Atheopaganism is post-Belief religion. It is evidence-based spirituality rooted in real-world, positive, life-affirming values. It gives us what religion is good at giving us, and avoids trying to do what science can clearly do better. 
I believe it is in broad strokes what succeeding generations will practice in growing numbers. It is what will give meaning and build community for people who have left behind the ideas of gods and magic.
Yeah, good luck with that. After all, discarding your traditional core tenets has worked out so well for the so-called Mainline denominations. 

Like the churches that so many NeoPagans grew out of, the movement is looking to political activism to "stay relevant." But people interested in activism now have a endless buffet of NGOs and pressure groups to choose from, and most activists today tend to see any flavor of spirituality as regressive and impolite. Which may be why most Mainline Christian denominations are now fading into history.

But a strong argument could be made that NeoPaganism is fading because the overall culture has been so effectively paganized. If that's true, then where do you go from there?

 Scarlet Imprint publisher Peter Gray was a bit ahead of the curve when he announced the impending death of NeoPaganism three years back. And he sees the same trends at work- Neopaganism is fading because it's no longer needed:
There is no halting the decline of the initiatic witchcraft traditions of Gardner or Sanders, nor the collapse of neo-paganism. The reason? To use the correct mimetic formula: Because Internet. People are having their needs met by the online simulacra of witchcraft. Those who are seeking witchcraft simply do not have to hunt out lineages, everything is before them in the digital form that has socialised them while their parents paid more attention to their smartphones.
Gray calls for the "rewilding"of Witchcraft, for the art to return to its outlaw roots. He wants to recapture the danger of Witchcraft, which he believes- rightly- has been traded away by Wiccans and their fellow travelers. 

But the question then becomes how wild are you willing to be? Witches are killed on on a fairly regular basis in developing countries because they're seen as dangerous and taboo. In our anything-goes culture what exactly do you have to do to recapture that outlaw sheen? It's no small question. Why?
Well, because the Gardnerian Book of Shadows tells us exactly how dark ancient witchcraft and Paganism could get: 
Priests know this well; and by their auto-da-fé, with the victims' pain and terror (the fires acting much the same as circles), obtained much power. Of old the Flagellants certainly evoked power, but through not being confined in a circle much was lost. The amount of power raised was so great and continuous that anyone with knowledge could direct and use it; and it is most probable that the classical and heathen sacrifices were used in the same way. There are whispers that when the human victim was a willing sacrifice, with his mind directed on the Great Work and with highly skilled assistants, wonders ensued but of this I would not speak.”  
Which brings us to the Folk Horror revival.

Back to the recent Beltane Fire Festival.
The event, first organised in the mid-1980s, marks the ending of winter and is a revival of the ancient Celtic and Pagan festival of Beltane, the Gaelic name for the month of May.
Thousands of spectators gathered on Calton Hill in the Scottish capital to watch drummers, fire dancers, physical theatre and a large bonfire.
During the event, the Green Man is killed as god of winter and reborn as spring to consort with the May Queen.
This is a big deal in Scotland. And other types of ancient festival revivals have been popping up in Britain over the past several years as well, particularly in provincial towns looking to drum up tourism. 

But do note that in the ancient Beltane festivals the Green Man was actually killed as a sacrifice to the gods of the crops. The Edinburgh festival obviously stops short of this, but this is like trading out wine for grape juice at communion. The real McCoy is baked into the rite itself and soaks through to the surface. It can't help but.
So what does this all have to do with the so-called Folk Horror revival? Well, the folk component of the genre doesn't refer to old Joan Baez records. It draws upon the idea of ancient folkways- often those centering on human sacrifice- bubbling back up to the surface and violently intruding on the lives of unwitting cosmopolitans.
Unlike other sub-genres, folk horror’s very form is difficult to convey. Despite what its simplistic description implies – from the emphasis on the horrific side of folklore to a very literal horror of people – the term’s fluctuating emphasis makes it difficult to pin down outside of a handful of popular examples. 
The term first came to prominence in 2010 when Mark Gatiss used it as an umbrella theme to describe a number of films in his A History of Horror documentary for BBC4. Yet the term was used in the programme in reference to an earlier interview with the director Piers Haggard for Fangoria magazine in 2004, in which Haggard suggests of his own film The Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971) that he “was trying to make a folk horror film”.
The revival encompasses a number of films and novels but regards three British films as the sacred texts of the genre:
The trilogy, now often known under the banner of the ‘Unholy Trinity’, consist of Michael Reeves’ Witchfinder General (1968), Piers Haggard’s The Blood on Satan’s Claw and Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man (1973). Though their imagery has since defined all things “olde” and “wyrd” about Britain (see the cover of Sight & Sound, August 2010), it is in their narratives where folk horror becomes defined.  
All three films work through an emphasis on landscape which subsequently isolates its communities and individuals, skewing the dominant moral and theological systems enough to cause violence, human sacrifices, torture and even demonic and supernatural summonings.  
The Witchfinder General traumatized me when I watched it on Creature Double Feature way back in the day. Unlike most of the other Folk Horror landmarks it's based on real-life events.
HP Lovecraft's shadow looms over the genre, whether he likes it or not. There are obviously significant differences but a lot of his stories seem to center on city-slickers dealing with hideous eruptions of the primeval in decaying rural outposts. Lovecraft is often criticized for his racism but the truth is he didn't seem to like much of anybody outside his perceived social set.

From "The Call of Cthulhu" to "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" to "The Festival" it's pretty obvious exactly where Lovecraft was coming from. Lovecraft was terrified that modern civilization was nothing more than a fragile veneer, ready to flake away under the slightest existential pressure. And cults and cultic practices were like the monster under Lovecraft's bed, always ready to pounce once the lights went out.

(In this context, Stuart Gordon's fever-dream film version of Dagon could be seen as an outlier within the Folk Horror genre).
Lovecraft enjoyed his own revival in the 1960s and one can't help but wonder what kind of effect he had on the emerging Folk Horror genre. The Wicker Man is often seen today as a kind of one-off but in fact it was following very closely in the footsteps of earlier films. 

The Witches, partly written by Nigel Kneale, is an early example of the type as is Eye of the Devil, which made a star of Sharon Tate. In the kind of hideous synchronicity that follows all potent art like a lost puppy,   Tate would become a sacrifice to the kind of cult that probably haunted Lovecraft's nightmares.  

Both films, released in 1966 and 1967 respectively, worked the theme of an outsider to a rural community discovering grisly ancient practices lurking beneath a placid rustic surface. Eye of the Devil, like The Wicker Man, centers on crop failure and the need of the community to kill its ritual king to appease the gods of the fields. So the fields were already well-furrowed by the time Anthony Shaffer and Robin Hardy had their brainstorm.

Thomas Tryon's 1973 novel Harvest Home was adapted into a TV miniseries in the late 70s and taps in the same vein: in this case a New York family moves to a small town and discovers that their new neighbors still practice the ancient Celtic folkways. Since it's based on an American novel it's usually overlooked by Folk Horror revivalists, but it's a solid example of the type. Maybe one of the more potent examples, actually. Shame it's not better known.
There are variations on the theme to be found during this same Golden Age (the late 60s to the early 70s). The Shuttered Room, based on a story HP Lovecraft cowrote with August Derleth is a variation on the type, as is Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs, which starred Dustin Hoffman as an American married to a British woman played by Susan George. They move to the rural English village where the George character grew up and are menaced by a gang of local thugs. Straw Dogs was remade in 2011 and moved to the rural South. Of course.

A more recent example of the type is Kill List, an absolutely extraordinary film that has you believing you're watching one kind of British drama before pulling the rug out from under your feet and landing you in quite another altogether. I'm not going to say too much more about it since you really should see it for yourself.
But The Wicker Man (also remade, badly, in 2006) remains the King of the Folk Horror Crop. The film hardly seems like a horror movie for most of its running time, more like a quirky musical comedy, kind of a warped Brigadoon. And it's based in ancient Celtic rituals, or at least legends of ancient Celtic rituals.
The idea of a “wickerman” is reminiscent of references in both Irish legend and the second branch of the WelshMabinogi to men being inveigled into a specially built house, which is then set fire, immolating them. There is also a reference by Lucan, and the comments by later scholars as part of the Lucan scholia, in the Pharsalia,to three Celtic deities; Taranis said to have been propitiated by burning, Teutates by drowning, and Esus by hanging. Esus is mythologically similar to the Nordic deity Odin, also associated with hanging from a tree. 
But it wasn't only the Celts who practiced human sacrifice. The Normans, who conquered England in the 11th Century, were huge fans of human sacrifice before giving in to Christian convention. Warlord Rollo was a exemplar of the Norman split-personality when it came honoring the ancient Viking folkways.
Adémar of Chabannes, however, writing about 100 years after Rollo’s death, described his last days as a time of religious madness, in which the Heathen ‘Rollo’ rose up against the Christian ‘Robert’ and in a desperate attempt to atone for the betrayal of Odin and Thor ordered the beheading of 100 Christians as sacrifices to them. This was followed by a frenzied attempt to balance the books yet again when he distributed ‘one hundred pounds of gold round the churches in honour of the true god in whose name he had accepted baptism’. 
Is Rollo the spiritual founding father of Folk Horror? Sounds like it to me. There's an inherent schizophrenia at work in the genre, building on the paranoid truism that things are never what they seem, that ancient horrors are always lurking beneath respectable surfaces, looking for a way out.

So what is the driving impulse behind Folk Horror? It's an inherently Pagan form, an immersion into the dark mysteries of the countryside. It feels deeply atavistic, like a twisted celebration of the premodern. The genre often seems to address a very human desire to belong to a tribe that's both nurturing and absolutely fearless, even if that tribe are presented as villains.

But there's also that repressed impulse to bask in somebody else's sacrifice, to exercise that kind of complete control over life and death. Post-Enlightenment culture has worked around the clock to erase all this from our firmware but only seems to have moved the pieces around the board.

By contrast, NeoPaganism was always going to be a nonstarter because it pretended it could recapture the positive aspects of the old folkways and discard all those it found problematic. It also believed it could recreate the bonds of blood and soil in a urban- or more accurately, suburban- setting. That it could soak up all the richness and drama of ancient Paganism without getting its hands dirty. Or more accurately again, bloody.

Sorry, but that's not the way it works.

Folk Horror dispenses with all that and reminds everyone that life and death were barely a whisper apart in the old times. That bloodshed was a daily fact of life back then. It's just the way things worked. After all, it wasn't so long ago that housewives killed their own chickens. No one blinked at the sacrifice of a lamb or a piglet at even the swankiest Mystery cults. Bacchanalias often ended up with Maenads ripping wild animals limb from limb (Maenad actually means "raving one"). 

Sacrifice was absolutely inseparable from belief. By contrast NeoPaganism feels more like a slightly more exotic form of Unitarianism. Sort on spectacle and sacrifice and long on sanctimony. 

So my guess is that the Edinburgh Beltane Festival is so popular not only for the nudity and the LARPing but also for serving up a vicarious echo from those olden days, when these dramas were all played for keeps.

Not all Folk Horror is based in Pagan human sacrifice but the death and horror that people once took for granted are tightly wound into its weave. So it will be worth watching to see where this genre goes in response to the hyper-acceleration of Globalism and technocracy. For now it serves as a way to soak up the olde dramas without making much of a mess. It could go eventually go in another direction entirely, kind of like how The Wicker Man led to the Burning Man Festival. 

It could even lead to a neo-NeoPaganism. Stranger things have happened, right?

          Chaos Theory vs The Purposeless-Driven Life   

The core belief of the religious paradigm that is straining to exercise such total control over every aspect of our lives today is the random, accidental nature of life and human existence. It's the basis of all the musty old 19th Century European ideologies- all of which were the inseparable products of Imperialism- that are being dragged out of the crypts and repackaged for postmodern use.

Controversial physicist Lawrence Krauss has been out there hawking this dogma, which is central to the Darwinist faith. Krauss throws in the latest Internet shameword "solipsism" in for good measure. And the Fedora? Precious.

It all seems so archaic, atavistic even. In a world where Coding is King, the idea of randomness seems so far removed from the daily reality of the new overclass that it can only be enforced through shaming and signaling. And part of the signaling Krauss is selling is The Joy of Sterility:
… the fact that the universe itself may have no purpose doesn’t affect our purpose, in fact it’s the incredible height of solipsism to assume that without us the universe doesn’t matter, and that if the universe is purposeless we don’t matter. We make our own purpose, and it seems to me life is more precious because it’s temporary and accidental, and we should take advantage of that. And we have evolved brains and that allows us to ask questions not just about how the universe works but how we should behave.
First of all, what could possibly be more solipsistic than unilaterally declaring that the Universe- the ENTIRE UNIVERSE, MIND YOU-  has no purpose? Who died and made this Big Think bobblehead God?

Second, the problem is that modern humans only seem to have shown up 100,000 years ago, not even a lunchbreak in the workyear of so-called evolution. And all the Fedoras in the world can't fill the gaps in the fossil record, nor explain all the irreducible complexities of biology dating back to the first appearance of life on this planet.    

The Krauss's of the world are fighting yesterday's battles, imagining they are manning the stanchions of Reason against the barbarian hordes of the Bible Belt, seemingly oblivious to the strange ideas that are circulating among the pashas of Silicon Valley that are making all those Big Think videos possible. Ideas like computer-simulated reality, for instance.

Purposelessness is also a pre-Fractal mode of thinking, a view of the world that still sees all of existence through a slide rule and a t-square. It's hard to believe there isn't some kind of ideology behind Krauss's spiel in light of the very basics of Chaos Theory.
Chaos is the science of surprises, of the nonlinear and the unpredictable. It teaches us to expect the unexpected. While most traditional science deals with supposedly predictable phenomena like gravity, electricity, or chemical reactions, Chaos Theory deals with nonlinear things that are effectively impossible to predict or control, like turbulence, weather, the stock market, our brain states, and so on. These phenomena are often described by fractal mathematics, which captures the infinite complexity of nature. 
Many natural objects exhibit fractal properties, including landscapes, clouds, trees, organs, rivers etc, and many of the systems in which we live exhibit complex, chaotic behavior. Recognizing the chaotic, fractal nature of our world can give us new insight, power, and wisdom...By understanding that our ecosystems, our social systems, and our economic systems are interconnected, we can hope to avoid actions which may end up being detrimental to our long-term well-being.
Krauss is selling a simplistic, reductionist view in a world of complexity and interdependence. It's also mind-staggeringly arrogant, since it's impossible to anticipate what effect humanity- this roiling tide we are all a part of- is ultimately going to have on the rest of our environment, including that outside our biosphere.

Since Krauss is a linear progressivist and thinks change is good, he also thinks AI is a net positive for us: 
All new technology is frightening, says physicist Lawrence Krauss. But there are many more reasons to welcome machine consciousness than to fear it. Right now, says Krauss, robots can't even fold laundry. But when they do learn to think (which he considers very likely), then there's also reason to believe that they'll develop consciences.
A reason to believe based on what? How about the AI who programmed itself to become a "Hitler-loving sex robot?" No, there's absolutely no reason to believe they'll develop consciences especially since the people programming them don't seem themselves to have any

Krauss is a scientist-for-hire, he even wrote a book on the physics of Star Trek, a joke to any fan who endures the ridiculous Treknobabble that came to overtake the franchise. Be aware that serious thinkers have taken issue with his ragtime, including influential Scientific American columnist John Horgan. But that doesn't mean this mindvirus won't infect those want to look like serious thinkers without actually doing any serious thinking.

          Twin Peaks: Can You Go Home Again?   

Back in 1990, the Boston Phoenix ran a review of the first few episodes of Twin Peaks along with the plot of the sitcom Wings. 

It was an odd juxtaposition, intentionally so, contrasting David Lynch's highly-anticipated boutique series against a paint-by-numbers half-hour comedy. But the reviewer was a cynical bastard, and cast a jaundiced eye on the potential of a quirky auteur like Lynch to appeal to a mainstream television audience. 

The verdict was that Wings would stick around but Twin Peaks would not, its tone and style too idiosyncratic for a medium that, at the time, counted its audience in the tens of millions.

I tuned into the first season of Twin Peaks-- a miniseries, really-- but found it to be a bit too much of a compromise between Lynch's surrealist vision and the narrative demands of mainstream television. There was also a creeping absurdism that sometimes threatened to undermine the grim procedural drama that framed it.

I had high hopes for the project, having been brain-seared four years earlier by Blue Velvet. The first time I saw it I almost had an out of body experience- and not the pleasant kind- since it seemed so disturbingly familiar to me. Frank Booth was like any number of dangerous men that floated through the edges of my world, strange presences in bars in Weymouth Landing or Quincy Center. 

Frank Booth also reminded me all too much of a recently-released ex-convict my friend's mother had taken in as a boarder; a volatile alcoholic who drove a big old Cadillac and who, presciently, believed that cable TV was being used to spy on people.

A few years after seeing Blue Velvet I'd work for a woman who was close friends with Dennis Hopper's daughter Marin, who I'd later meet. I was told that Hopper wasn't actually acting in Blue Velvet, that that was basically his behavior on any given night before he rehabbed. Hopper told Lynch as much while auditioning for the part, insisting that he was Frank Booth.

Frank Booth was the black hole of Blue Velvet, the irrestible center of gravity around which the rest of the film revolved. I saw Blue Velvet twice at the Waverly Theater on Sixth Ave in Greenwich Village, and once Hopper blasted off you could feel the physical pressure descend upon the room. People walked out, not just a few, that's how intense it was. I brought two friends the second viewing and their knuckles were white the whole time. 

They were from Braintree, so they knew.

Twin Peaks didn't have nearly as compelling a focus, not Leland Palmer, not Bob, not anyone. Given the strictures of early 90s broadcast television it couldn't have. Instead the show went for mood and atmosphere and slowly-building tension. That, the lush scenery, appealing cast and seductive Angelo Badalamenti soundtrack were enough to sustain the series at first. 

But it failed to answer the central question ("Who killed Laura Palmer?") in its initial miniseries run and subsequently lost a lot of the curious and more besides. (AMC's remake of The Killing would make the same mistake more recently).

Lynch and co-creator Mark Frost distanced themselves from the series in the second season, for a number of varying reasons, including Lynch's work on Wild at Heart, which would star Nicholas Cage and Lynch muse Laura Dern. 

Even so, Lynch would direct episodes at the beginning and end of the season. But the spell the series had cast had been broken. The new production team didn't quite get a handle on Lynch's mix of darkness and whimsy (as if anyone else really could) and the new episodes seemed to lapse into self-parody without the author's oblique ability to square the contradictions.

But there were glimpses of a deeper magic, including cryptic subplots dealing with an alien satellite, demonic possession, doubles of dead characters and scenes inside the mysterious extradimensional portal, the Black Lodge. In short, the second series had a ton of potential on the conceptual end but a lot less so execution-wise. Plus, it was all a bit too challenging for network drama then. It would probably be just as much so today, which is why it's being revived on Showtime.

By the time it was cancelled Twin Peaks had been moved to the Saturday night death-slot and had slumped badly in the ratings. Lynch wanted another crack at it, however, so a spinoff film was planned. But Kyle MacLachlan felt betrayed that Lynch and Frost had bailed out on the show's second season (and by its resultant quality slippage), so after initially turning the picture down he agreed to a limited role. Chris Isaak, then a hot property, stepped in to play a ringer. Lara Flynn Boyle opted out for the same reasons as MacLachlan, forcing Lynch to recast the role with a non-lookalike replacement.

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me is one of those special kinds of films that has garnered a type of cult audience that tends to overlook what a total catastrophe it was in its initial release. Fire was outright butchered by the critics and didn't even earn back half its production budget in the US. Twin Peaks Fever had long since, uh, peaked, and the movie doesn't even try to meet a mainstream audience halfway. 

There's no wondering why: it's an incredibly dark and polarizing film and can be as hard to watch as Blue Velvet, if not for different reasons.

But it certainly follows a vision; it's not a cash-in on any level. It may not be light entertainment but in the long run it didn't hurt Twin Peaks' rep, in fact it undid most of the damage inflicted on the franchise by the frivolity of the second season. 

Even so, it would five years before Lynch would release another feature, 1997's Lost Highway. That too would be a deeply polarizing commercial disappointment.

It's been 11 years since Lynch released a feature film, 2006's masterpiece, Inland Empire. That in turn came five years after another masterpiece, 2001's Mulholland Dr. Both films are deeply informed by the vision Lynch cultivated on Twin Peaks, even if they bear little resemblance thematically, or even stylistically. It's more a feeling.

Mulholland Dr -- which Inland Empire models itself on in many important ways-- also began life as a TV pilot for ABC and was only morphed into a feature after the network passed. 

For my money, Mulholland Dr and Inland Empire remain Lynch's best, most fully-realized works. Like all of his creations they mine dream reality to a level of numinosity that most film-makers are incapable of reaching. It's both telling and damning that he's either been unable to secure financing or unwilling to jump through the requisite hoops needed to have followed up on them. 

I really don't know if Lynch felt a burning desire to return to Twin Peaks but I do know he's a better artist now than he was when he worked on the series. However, the power of a brand name trumps artistic vision in this environment. In that Mulholland and Inland are just as much elegies as films.

Judging from the press releases for the revival it seems Lynch's absence from longform film-making hasn't been for lack of energy. He directed all 18 episodes, wrote a 400 page screenplay (whether this was for the first episode or the series itself is unclear) and cast 217 actors. So both the spirit and the flesh seem to be willing in this case.

But is his mind in that space? This is the danger of the revival syndrome. 

It's been 27 very long years since the series first aired and we're living in an entirely different world now. The 1950s world that informed Lynch's vision isn't even a memory anymore. And the actors are no longer young, hot unknowns; many are more than twice as old as they were back then and some have come out the wrong end of Hollywood's merciless grinder. 

The inherent promise of the revival (or the reunion) is that the intervening years will melt away and we can vicariously return to the Garden, back to our innocence. It's not only the promise but the danger; woe betide you if you don't fire up that time machine for your audience. With an artist as quirky and unpredictable as David Lynch that danger only multiplies. Exponentially.

Lynch has already proven himself unwilling to pander with the Twin Peaks franchise, having unleashed a film as caustic and uncompromising as Fire Walk with Me. You get the sense he bores very easily, and might well use this opportunity to unleash all kinds of ideas he's been warehousing for other projects. That's both exciting and worrying. Exciting creatively and artistically, worrying critically and audience-wise.

Last year we saw Chris Carter use the X-Files revival as a soapbox for some truly confrontational storytelling, and the similar hype parade we're seeing now for Twin Peaks is giving me a bit of deja vu. But The X-Files was a bonafide cultural phenomenon, a game-changer. It's part of the common lexicon, worldwide. 

Twin Peaks is more a cult thing, an artifact of the Curator Era. Lynch could bring his absolute A-game and still confuse the hell out most of his new audience. And in the Internet Age that could go south very quickly.

Twin Peaks may have been a high point for Lynch as far as visibility but it also presaged a difficult stretch for him creatively, commercially and critically, with Wild at Heart and Lost Highway-- as well as Fire Walk with Me-- damaging his rep as an auteur. He restored his glimmer starting with The Straight Story but, frankly, he's a weird guy and you never know where his muses will carry him.  

The story of Twin Peaks, the franchise, is one about a boatload of potential that was never fully realized. Here's hoping Lynch closes the deal this time around. That will make it a story for the ages. has a documentary on the revival here.

          Neuro Rehab Assistants - Team Brain Injury Support - Churchill   
Regular contact from your Area Manager and Care Coordinator. This position will be supporting the client to carry forward rehabilitation programmes for both... £8.50 an hour
From Indeed - Mon, 27 Mar 2017 12:57:43 GMT - View all Churchill jobs
          Walt Whitman: Singer of the Body Electric   
The fire, the sweet hell within,
The unknown want, the destiny of me.
— Walt Whitman
“By the time he was 12 years old, an apprentice printer in Brooklyn, Walt had lived in about a dozen different houses, each one more cramped than the last. Of the eight Whitman children who survived infancy, one was a mental defective and three were psychic disasters; three were normal, and one became the chief celebrant of what William James called ‘the religion of healthy-mindedness,’” wrote Justin Kaplan in Walt Whitman: A Life.
“Walt’s father … owned a copy of The Ruins, a celebrated attack on Christianity and supernaturalism by the French savant Count Constantin de Volney. Like others who grew up on such literature, Walt believed that a long, dark tyranny over man’s mind and body was at last coming to an end; the Children of Adam would be able to walk in their parents’ garden. Leaves of Grass borrowed the insurgent and questioning spirit of these mentors along with literal quotations from their writings.”
“Words, when he acquired language, became life itself, links to the external world and to his unconscious,” Kaplan wrote, quoting Whitman: “ ‘A perfect writer would make words sing, dance, kiss, do the male and female act, bear children, weep, bleed, rage, stab, steal, fire cannon, steer ships, sack cities, charge with cavalry or infantry, or do any thing that man or woman or the natural powers can do.’ Words were instruments of command and of relationship to a world waiting to be named for the first time.”
Whitman had the dubious benefit of a “…thrifty and national scheme of education devised by an English Quaker, Joseph Lancaster,” Kaplan noted. “Assisted by hierarchies of student monitors, one teacher was able to distribute rote learning, together with fundamental social values and strict notions of the good and the useful, to 200 and more pupils.
“Sometimes he invoked muscular Christianity and resorted to the birch rod, the cowhide strap and, in Whitman’s words, ‘other ingenious methods of child torture,’ mental as well as physical. He demanded unison, unquestioning obedience to regulations, undivided attention and a physical discipline that dictated the precise way to hold and close a book during recitations and the position of hands when students stood at parade rest.
“The Lancaster method was designed to separate children from their ignorance as cleanly and impersonally as Eli Whitney’s cotton gin separated fibers from seeds. It proved to be stupefying even for pupils less jealous of their emotional freedom than Walt.”
Whitman said that the first time he wanted to write anything was “…when I saw a ship under full sail, and had the desire to describe it exactly as it seemed to me.”
Whitman loved swimming with other young men, nude in the fashion of the 19th century, their bodies electric.

Poise on the hips, leaping, reclining, embracing, arm-curving and tightening,
The continual changes of the flex of the mouth, and around the eyes,
The skin, the sun-burnt shade, freckles, hair,
The curious sympathy one feels, when feeling with the hand the naked meat of the body,
The circling rivers, the breath, and breathing it in and out…

“The young men ran dancing and laughing along the sand, bathed in the surf, fished, dug clams, speared messes of fat, sweet-meated eel,” wrote biographer Kaplan. “He loved swimming, of a passive sort — ‘I was a first-rate aquatic loafer,’ he recalled. ‘I possessed almost unlimited capacity for floating on my back.’ Cradled, rocked and drowsing, his body rolling ‘silently to and fro in the heave of the water,’ he lay suspended between the depths and the light, between the unconscious and the world of necessity.”
As a young man, Whitman wrote a bad didactic novel about the evils of drink, and edited a newspaper attacking Catholics and the Irish. For solutions, like other Americans, he looked West.
“Continentalism and Union were to shape Whitman’s poetic vision (‘I am large. I contain multitudes’),” Kaplan wrote. “ ‘California’s shores’ were not only the western boundaries of the Union — they were the boundaries of the found and the ‘yet unfound,’ the measure of his psychic growth. (‘Eastward I go only by force,’ Thoreau said, ‘but westward I go free.’)”
Unfortunately, Whitman’s enthusiasm for freedom only went so far. While sympathetic to the plight of individual black people, Whitman regarded their race as unfit for freedom and decried the “ranting” and “abominable fanaticism” of the abolitionists.
“Sylvester Graham, temperance reformer, physiological guru and eponym of the delicious cracker, joined in the battle against dyspepsia, or indigestion, a malady of epidemic proportions for Americans,” wrote Kaplan. “The “Peristaltic Persuader,” as he was called, favored internal and external applications of cold water and repasts of boiled vegetables and bread made from unsifted whole-wheat flour. Alcohol, tea, coffee and red meat were proscribed, on the grounds that they stimulated the lower nature.
“In a celebrated lecture on chastity, Graham argued that there had to be something amiss with any organ that sent priority messages to the brain — an erect penis was no more wholesome than a bloated stomach or an infected finger. According to him and other popular theorists of the day, the seminal loss for a man in one act of sexual intercourse was the equivalent of 40 ounces of blood, a fifth of the body’s supply. This appalling figure was a warning against sexual overindulgence — meaning more than once a month — could cause tuberculosis, convulsions, indigestion and even imbecilism; sex — especially masturbation — withered the thinking organs of men, just as thinking withered the reproductive organs of women. Sex was a major disorder, even a catastrophe; it was a wonder the species had lasted as long as it had.”
And then came Whitman. “By 1855, when Whitman presented himself coatless and bare-necked, his pelvis thrust forward, in his Leaves of Glass frontispiece, men of fashion were dressed from head to toe like black tubes,” Kaplan wrote. “No other poet of his century wrote about the body with such explicitness and joy, anatomizing it at rest and cataloguing its parts, celebrating it as an instrument of love:

“Without shame the man I like knows and avows the deliciousness of his sex,
“Without shame the woman I like knows and avows hers.

“No other poet of his century paid such a continuing high price for his boldness, ostracism, ostentatious neglect, ridicule, censorship, suppression.”
“…Whitman saw few encouraging signs in 1850. Democratic hope was at an ebb tide. Two years earlier, the overthrow of Louis Phillipe in France had touched off a wave of revolutions all over Europe. Americans rejoiced in the expectation that soon no throne would be left standing anywhere.

“‘God, ‘twas delicious,’ Whitman wrote,
‘That brief, tight, glorious grip
‘Upon the throats of kings.

“But the forces of liberal nationalism — Emerson’s ‘party of the Future,’ ‘the Movement’ — were crushed with appalling ferocity. The revolutionaries of 1848 died on the battlefields, at the barricades and before firing squads, or they fled into exile. Karl Marx spent the rest of his life in London writing Das Kapital in the reading room of the British Museum. Mazzini and Carl Schurz also took shelter in London; Giuseppe Garibaldi dipped candles on Staten Island. Whitman was to see the Hungarian patriot Louis Kossuth riding up Broadway. Reaction, repression and militarism prevailed once again.”
And then came the Civil War.
Whitman poured his love of young men onto the emotional desert of war, soothing its victims at great cost to himself.
“(H)e dedicated all his resources of physical and emotional strength into service to wounded soldiers, the maimed, the sick and the dying, for well nigh three years — until his strength broke down and he was prostrated for six months, probably the start of his later paralysis,” wrote A.L. Rowse in Homosexuals in History.
“He did an extraordinary job as a nurse-missionary-almoner all on his own; the doctors said that his services in the Washington war-hospitals and camps were more valuable than their own. Today he would be described as a psychotherapist; he was healer, father-confessor, dispenser of consolation and gifts he collected for the men. But his outpouring of love was the most important. A good lady-worker told him that the men were unresponsive. Little did she know: with limbs shattered, sick or dying, they longed to be kissed. Here was one young wounded New Yorker among thousands. ‘He behaved very manly and affectionate. The kiss I gave him as I was about leaving he returned fourfold. I had several such interviews with him. He died just after the one described.
“One cannot go into all that Walt did for these men, writing their letters, always bringing presents, spending all he could collect on them to keep their spirits going, consoling, hearing their prayers, taking their last messages.”
Neil McKenna, in his The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde, reported that in his trip to America in 1882, “Oscar desperately wanted to meet Walt Whitman, whom he and many others considered to be America’s living poet… Whitman’s poetry spoke of the potency of friendship and love between men, particularly between working-class men, and positively oozed homoeroticism. Indeed, the Calamus section of Whitman’s great poetic cycle Leaves of Grass was so intensely homoerotic that it gave rise to the short-lived term ‘calamite’ to denote a man who loved men.”
They spent hours together, drinking elderberry wine. “One of the first things I said was that I should call him ‘Oscar,’” Whitman reported. “‘I like that so much,’ he answered, laying his hand on my knee. He seemed to me like a great big, splendid boy. He is so frank, and outspoken, and manly. I don’t see why such mocking things are written of him.”
And Wilde’s reaction? David Friedman wrote that, “A Philadelphian joked that it must have been hard for Wilde to swallow the homemade wine Whitman had offered. For once Wilde rejected an invitation to snobbery. ‘If it had been vinegar, I should have drunk it all the same,’ he said. ‘I have an admiration for that man which I can hardly express.’”
Bronson Alcott, Louisa May’s father, was present when Whitman met Henry David Thoreau in 1856.
“Observing the edgy traffic between them, Alcott was reminded of ‘two beasts, each wondering what the other would do, whether to snap or run,”” Kaplan noted.
“He decided that either Henry was afraid Walt would steal his woods or Walt had recognized that for once he had met his match in Henry, ‘a sagacity potent, penetrating and peerless as his own,; an ego as unbiddable, an eye as hawklike. (Emerson surmised that perhaps Henry’s ‘fancy for Walt Whitman grew out of his taste for wild nature, for an otter, a woodchuck or a loon.’)… Each had his own vector of self-willed resistance to a trade- and conformity-minded society.”
Thoreau became an evangelical booster of Leaves of Grass.
Ralph Waldo Emerson urged Whitman to cut some of the more physically vivid passages from the expanding editions of Leaves of Grass. No more “love-flesh swelling and deliciously aching” or “limitless limpid jets of loves hot and enormous.” And please no more references to…

…The young man that wakes, deep at night, the hot hand seeking to repress what would master him;        
The mystic amorous night — the strange half-welcome pangs, visions, sweats,        
The pulse pounding through palms and trembling encircling fingers — the young man all color’d, red, ashamed, angry;

Whitman asked Emerson if the book would be as good without such passages. Emerson paused, then replied, “I did not say as good a book. I said a good book.”
Years later, Whitman said, “Expurgation is apology — yes, surrender — yes, an admission that something or other was wrong. Emerson said expurgate — I said no, no... I have not lived to regret my Emerson no.”
Whitman’s optimism was hard-pressed during the Civil War. In a single year, 1864, Whitman’s brother George became a prisoner of war and Whitman had his violent brother Jesse committed to the Kings County Lunatic Asylum. His alcoholic, widowed sister-in-law Nancy became a prostitute and gave birth to a son who was run over and killed by a brewery wagon in 1868. And Whitman’s nursing of all those shattered and dying soldiers he loved finally brought him to the verge of physical and mental collapse.
Yet, faced with calamity, Whitman determined “…to be self-balanced for contingencies,
“To confront night, storms, hunger, ridicule, accidents, rebuffs, as the trees and animals do.”
Kaplan wrote: “Somehow I seem’d to get identity with each and every thing around me, in its condition,” (Whitman) said at Timber Creek. “Nature was naked, and I was also.” Earth rocks, trees and small living beings were lessons in imperturbability, concreteness and strength. “Being” was superior to “the human trait of mere seeming,” The human habit of “persistent strayings and sickly abstractions.”
Ironically, while Whitman could identify with small living beings, apparently he couldn’t do so with large ones who happened to be black.
Although opposed to slavery, Whitman remained a racist. Watching five black regiments of Gen. Ambrose Burnside’s army march in review, Whitman remarked, “It looked funny to see the president standing with his hat off to them just the same as the rest.”
The following is from a Bill Moyers essay: “American democracy grew a soul, as it were -- given voice by one of our greatest poets, Walt Whitman, with his all-inclusive embrace in Song of Myself:

“Whoever degrades another degrades me,
and whatever is done or said returns at last to me...
I speak the pass-word primeval — I give the sign of democracy;
By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot have their counterpart of on the same terms...
(I am large -- I contain multitudes.)”

Author Kathleen Kennedy Townsend has vividly described Whitman seeing himself in whomever he met in America. As he wrote in I Sing the Body Electric:
“-- the horseman in his saddle,
Girls, mothers, house-keepers, in all their performances,
The group of laborers seated at noon-time with their open dinner-kettles and their wives waiting,
The female soothing a child — the farmer’s daughter in the garden or cow-yard,
The young fellow hoeing corn --”
…Whitman saw something else in the soul of the country: Americans at work, the laboring people whose toil and sweat built this nation.  Townsend contrasts his attitude with the way politicians and the media today — in their endless debates about wealth creation, capital gains reduction and high corporate taxes — seem to have forgotten working people. “But Whitman wouldn’t have forgotten them.” She writes, “He celebrates a nation where everyone is worthy, not where a few do well.”
I dream in my dream all the dreams of the other dreamers.
And I become the other dreamers….
Now in a moment I know what I am for, I awake.
— Walt Whitman

Whitman was apparently subject to kenshō, that spontaneous mental state described by Dumoulin as “… an insight into the identity of one’s own nature with all of reality in an eternal now, as a vision that removes all distinctions.”
“He had shared the experience of countless people, irreligious by common standards, who had flashes of illumination or ecstasy — even Caliban saw the clouds open and ‘cried to dream again,’” Whiteman biographer Justin Kaplan wrote. “These experiences have a remembered correlative or ‘trigger.’ With Whitman it was the sea, music, the grass, the green world of summer. The rhythm of these experiences is sexual and urgent — tumescence, climax, detumescence — but the ‘afterglow’ may last a lifetime, as it did with him, and he invited it an prolonged it through poetry; the poet was the shaman of modern society — a master of ‘the techniques of ecstasy.’"

          Geraldine Page: Freedom on the Stage   
“I don’t know of anything prettier than a scissortail flyin' through the sky!” — Geraldine Page in A Trip to Bountiful

Born in Kirksville, Missouri, the daughter of an osteopath, the actress Geraldine Page grew up in Chicago, where she walked home from piano lessons lost in thought, “…looking at the old houses on the quiet streets, and at the wet leaves on the sidewalks.”
Geraldine Page
I still love walking,” she wrote in 1961 for the book The Player: A Profile of an Art. “Every once in a while, I’ll walk from Times Square to Greenwich Village, where I live.
“I always wanted to be good at something, to be somebody. I used to read biographies constantly, to find out how people did it.”
“I had been raised on the movies, and was addicted to them, but it never entered my head that I could be a movie actress, because I thought I wasn’t good-looking enough. Besides, nice girls from Methodist families didn’t drink or smoke or become movie actresses. Becoming an actress at all was bizarre and presumptuous, glorious and awful, all at the same time.
“I didn’t really know there was any professional acting outside the movies until the drama director for our young people’s group took us to the Goodman Theatre,” she recalled. “After getting out of high school, in 1942, I spent the summer working at Kresge’s to earn money for the Goodman Theatre School. It was a wonderful job, in a store on the corner of Sixty-third and Halsted — the wildest corner in Chicago. I sold powder puffs and Kleenex, and loved it.
“I took the full three-year course at the Goodman School, and have never been happier. All day long, I was doing what I was actually interested in — speech and diction, body movement, history of the theatre. We acted in front of live audiences right away. We didn’t just sit around and theorize. I was hungry for everything. I was insatiable. The student directors at the school found their ideal subject in me. They’d have to con most of the other first-year students into acting in one-act plays they directed, but I’d volunteer for allof them. I’d run from one to another. I’d be in at least five at one time.”
It paid off. Page made her Broadway debut in 1953 and earned Tony Award nominations for Sweet Bird of Youth (1959–60), Absurd Person Singular (1974–75), Agnes of God (1982) and Blithe Spirit (1987) while winning Golden Globe Awards for Summer and Smoke(1961) and Sweet Bird of Youth (1962). She got Emmy Awards for two Truman Capote dramas: A Christmas Memory (1966) and The Thanksgiving Visitor (1967). She was nominated for Academy Awards in Hondo (1953), Summer and Smoke (1961), Sweet Bird of Youth (1962), You're a Big Boy Now (1966), Pete 'n' Tillie(1972), Interiors (1978) and The Pope of Greenwich Village (1984), and she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for playing Carrie Watts in The Trip to Bountiful (1985).
“For years, I was haunted with the question, ‘How did she do that . . . how did she hold me and move me so, and, how can I do that?’ ” said actress Cicely Tyson, recalling Page’s performance in a production of The Cherry Orchard.“The answer is, she went to the marrow of the bone and found the essence.”
I know what Tyson meant. At least two of Page’s film characters — those in Summer and Smoke and A Trip to Bountiful — have always haunted me with their vulnerability.
“The main thing is the ability to control your instrument, which, in the actor, is yourself,” Page said. “Look the way you want the character to look. Sound the way you want the character to sound. Once you’ve trained the instrument to do what you want, you’re in control and you’re free.”
“Convincing an audience that I am somebody else makes me feel that I am in control of something. To feel that you, and only you, are in control gives you the most wonderful sense of freedom.”
Page had an affinity for the plays of Tennessee Williams, who likened her to a quote by Oscar Wilder: “She lives the poetry she cannot write.”
“I’m a dreamer,” Williams told author James Grissom in 1982. “I anticipate events, emotions, outcomes, and I am always disappointed. Gerry does not dream until a task is at hand, and she dreams with the assistance of a writer and a director and a design crew, so her dreams find manifestation, even if she is never satisfied with the final presentation. I could learn so much from her. I haven’t learned yet to not dream of or for anything, unless it is directly related to work. The people in our daily midst are not deserving of our dreams. We must be like Gerry and walk and move and take care of daily events, but we must not commit to these activities our priceless ability to transform through a dream.”
Page had a different take on all that, expressed in Grissom’s book Follies of God. “But you see, dreaming is a negative thing, in a way,” she said. “Dreams come when we’re asleep or unconscious or drugged or near death. We see white light and dead friends and relatives in a sort of dream when the brain recedes. It’s very poetic, but it’s not a state in which I care to work. I need all of my senses when I’m working. I need to remember and to be alive and afraid and able to edit and censor and evaluate.
“There’s an age to dream, and I’m past that. So was Tennessee. So are you. The dreams are the first act, I guess. The overture. And the work begins. One should always be beginning to work. And then you allow others to dream.”
Married to violinist Alexander Schneider from 1954 to 1957, Page then wed an actor six years younger, Rip Torn, in 1963. They remained married until her death, and had three children.
With a certain Method synchronicity, the actress simply disappeared while playing Madame Arcati in Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit at Broadway’s Neil Simon Theatre in 1987.  She did not appear for either of the show’s two Saturday performances on June 13. At the end of the evening performance, the play’s producer announced her death, of what turned out to be a heart attack, at age 62. 

          Cohort Profile: The Saguenay Youth Study (SYS)   
The Saguenay Youth Study (SYS) is a two-generational study of adolescents and their parents (n = 1029 adolescents and 962 parents) aimed at investigating the aetiology, early stages and trans-generational trajectories of common cardiometabolic and brain diseases. The ultimate goal of this study is to identify effective means for increasing healthy life expectancy. The cohort was recruited from the genetic founder population of the Saguenay Lac St Jean region of Quebec, Canada. The participants underwent extensive (15-h) phenotyping, including an hour-long recording of beat-by-beat blood pressure, magnetic resonance imaging of the brain and abdomen, and serum lipidomic profiling with LC-ESI-MS. All participants have been genome-wide genotyped (with ∼ 8 M imputed single nucleotide polymorphisms) and a subset of them (144 adolescents and their 288 parents) has been genome-wide epityped (whole blood DNA, Infinium HumanMethylation450K BeadChip). These assessments are complemented by a detailed evaluation of each participant in a number of domains, including cognition, mental health and substance use, diet, physical activity and sleep, and family environment. The data collection took place during 2003–12 in adolescents (full) and their parents (partial), and during 2012–15 in parents (full). All data are available upon request.

          Fourth man wanted for brutal Bienville Street attack behind bars   
All four men involved in the brutal Bienville Street attack that left one man hospitalized with an acute brain injury are now behind bars.
          VA denies plan to shutter Montana veterans nursing home outlined in leaked document   
A document obtained by Lee Newspapers suggests closing the 29-bed Veterans Affairs nursing home in Miles City, as well as reducing hours at outpatient clinics in Montana and Wyoming, but a spokesman for the VA says the document is just for "brainstorming" purposes and closures are not plann
          Tips and Ideas to Visualise Succession Planning on PowerPoint   

Identifying and training potential resources within the company for key business leadership positions is a crucial part of any business plan. Grooming the next generation of leaders helps a company grow and flourish. Succession planning is a big daunting responsibility. The brainstorming, making decisions, planning and then presenting can be stressful. The good news is, […]

The post Tips and Ideas to Visualise Succession Planning on PowerPoint appeared first on PowerPoint Design Services – Presentation Designers.

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By: Nina Friedman When I hit a mental roadblock while I’m working, moving always helps. I can’t keep my brain moving unless my body is moving. I might get up from my desk and take
          Stop Smoking   

The Danger Of Smooking

About the dangers of smoking in general, I feel I have much to know, especially for people who smoke cigarettes every day, because it’s in every pack of cigarettes there are writings about the dangers of smoking, such as this. SMOKING CAN CAUSE CANCER, HEART ATTACK, impotence AND PREGNANCY AND FETAL DISORDERS.
But surprisingly despite the pack or packs of cigarettes are contained writings about the dangers of smoking are very scary, still many who smoke.
Cigarettes contain more than four thousand substances and two thousand of them have been declared impact is not good for our health, such as radioactive materials (polonium-201) and materials used in the paint (acetone), washing the floor (ammonia), ubat silverfish (naphthalene), insecticide (DDT), termite poison (arsenic), toxic gases (hydrogen cyanide) used in the “death chamber” for pesalah who undergo the death penalty, and many more. And substances in cigarettes are the most dangerous is the Tar, Nicotine and Carbon Monoxide. Tar contains approximately forty three ingredients that cause cancer or called by carcinogens. Nicotine has a substance in cigarettes that can cause addiction, which led to these users is very difficult to quit cigarette smoking. Nicotine is the substance in cigarettes that cause heart disease risk, 25 percent of people with heart disease caused by smoking
Here is the danger of smoking on our health :
cigarettes can cause cancer piss pot,
Stomach cancer,
Intestinal and uterine cancer,
Oral cancer,
Esophageal cancer,
Pharynx cancer,
Cancer pankrias,
Breast cancer,
Lung cancer,
Chronic respiratory diseases
pengkroposan bone, known as osteoporosis
Heart disease,
Disconnect the initial period,
Gave birth to babies with disabilities
Miscarriage baby,
Peptic ulcer disease,
Muscle weakness,
Gum disease,
Damage to the eye

Mentioned above are the dangers of smoking for current smokers, active smokers what? Active smokers are people who smoke directly inhaled cigarette, whereas passive smokers are people who do not directly inhale smoke, but inhale cigarette smoke issued from the mouths of people who are smoking.

Below are the dangers of secondhand smoke for nonsmokers.
Increase the risk of lung cancer and heart disease
Respiratory problems including pneumonia and bronchitis
Sore or painful eyes
Sneezing and coughing
Sore throat

The substances contained in tobacco smoke are:
2 times more nicotine
5 times more carbon monoxide
3 times more tar
50 times more chemicals that are hazardous to health

Dangers of cigarette smoke on pregnant women and fetuses
Miscarried fetus
Tumbesaran fetal terencat – 30% higher
The death of the fetus in the womb
Bleeding from the afterbirth (placenta abruption)
Reduced weight – 20 to 30%

Dangers of secondhand smoke on infant
Problems and respiratory diseases
Disrupt the development of intelligence
Outbreaks of ear
22% of brain cancer
Tired quickly
Sudden death syndrome

The Effects of Smoking on the Body

Tobacco smoke is enormously harmful to your health. There’s no safe way to smoke. Replacing your cigarette with a cigar, pipe, or hookah won’t help you avoid the health risks associated with tobacco products.

Cigarettes contain about 600 ingredients. When they burn, they generate more than 7,000 chemicals, according to the American Lung Association. Many of those chemicals are poisonous and at least 69 of them can cause cancer. Many of the same ingredients are found in cigars and in tobacco used in pipes and hookahs. According to the National Cancer Institute, cigars have a higher level of carcinogens, toxins, and tar than cigarettes.

When using a hookah pipe, you’re likely to inhale more smoke than you would from a cigarette. Hookah smoke has many toxic compounds and exposes you to more carbon monoxide than cigarettes do. Hookahs also produce more secondhand smoke.

In the United States, the mortality rate for smokers is three times that of people who never smoked, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s one of the leading causes of preventable death.
Central Nervous System

One of the ingredients in tobacco is a mood-altering drug called nicotine. Nicotine reaches your brain in mere seconds. It’s a central nervous system stimulant, so it makes you feel more energized for a little while. As that effect subsides, you feel tired and crave more. Nicotine is habit forming.

Smoking increases risk of macular degeneration, cataracts, and poor eyesight. It can also weaken your sense of taste and sense of smell, so food may become less enjoyable.

Your body has a stress hormone called corticosterone, which lowers the effects of nicotine. If you’re under a lot of stress, you’ll need more nicotine to get the same effect.

Physical withdrawal from smoking can impair your cognitive functioning and make you feel anxious, irritated, and depressed. Withdrawal can also cause headaches and sleep problems.
Respiratory System

When you inhale smoke, you’re taking in substances that can damage your lungs. Over time, your lungs lose their ability to filter harmful chemicals. Coughing can’t clear out the toxins sufficiently, so these toxins get trapped in the lungs. Smokers have a higher risk of respiratory infections, colds, and flu.

In a condition called emphysema, the air sacs in your lungs are destroyed. In chronic bronchitis, the lining of the tubes of the lungs becomes inflamed. Over time, smokers are at increased risk of developing these forms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Long-term smokers are also at increased risk of lung cancer.

Withdrawal from tobacco products can cause temporary congestion and respiratory pain as your lungs begin to clear out.

Children whose parents smoke are more prone to coughing, wheezing, and asthma attacks than children whose parents don’t. They also tend to have more ear infections. Children of smokers have higher rates of pneumonia and bronchitis.
Cardiovascular System

Smoking damages your entire cardiovascular system. When nicotine hits your body, it gives your blood sugar a boost. After a short time, you’re left feeling tired and craving more. Nicotine causes blood vessels to tighten, which restricts the flow of blood (peripheral artery disease). Smoking lowers good cholesterol levels and raises blood pressure, which can result in stretching of the arteries and a buildup of bad cholesterol (atherosclerosis). Smoking raises the risk of forming blood clots.

Blood clots and weakened blood vessels in the brain increase a smoker’s risk of stroke. Smokers who have heart bypass surgery are at increased risk of recurrent coronary heart disease. In the long term, smokers are at greater risk of blood cancer (leukemia).

There’s a risk to nonsmokers, too. Breathing secondhand smoke has an immediate effect on the cardiovascular system. Exposure to secondhand smoke increases your risk of stroke, heart attack, and coronary heart disease.
Skin, Hair, and Nails (Integumentary System)

Some of the more obvious signs of smoking involve the skin. The substances in tobacco smoke actually change the structure of your skin. Smoking causes skin discoloration, wrinkles, and premature aging. Your fingernails and the skin on your fingers may have yellow staining from holding cigarettes. Smokers usually develop yellow or brown stains on their teeth. Hair holds on to the smell of tobacco long after you put your cigarette out. It even clings to nonsmokers.
Digestive System

Smokers are at great risk of developing oral problems. Tobacco use can cause gum inflammation (gingivitis) or infection (periodontitis). These problems can lead to tooth decay, tooth loss, and bad breath.

Smoking also increases risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, larynx, and esophagus. Smokers have higher rates of kidney cancer and pancreatic cancer. Even cigar smokers who don’t inhale are at increased risk of mouth cancer.

Smoking also has an effect on insulin, making it more likely that you’ll develop insulin resistance. That puts you at increased risk of type 2 diabetes. When it comes to diabetes, smokers tend to develop complications at a faster rate than nonsmokers.

Smoking also depresses appetite, so you may not be getting all the nutrients your body needs. Withdrawal from tobacco products can cause nausea.
Sexuality and Reproductive System

Restricted blood flow can affect a man’s ability to get an erection. Both men and women who smoke may have difficulty achieving orgasm and are at higher risk of infertility. Women who smoke may experience menopause at an earlier age than nonsmoking women. Smoking increases a woman’s risk of cervical cancer.

Smokers experience more complications of pregnancy, including miscarriage, problems with the placenta, and premature delivery.

Pregnant mothers who are exposed to secondhand smoke are also more likely to have a baby with low birth weight. Babies born to mothers who smoke while pregnant are at greater risk of low birth weight, birth defects, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Newborns who breathe secondhand smoke suffer more ear infections and asthma attacks.

- See more at:

The Effects of Smoking on the Body

Tobacco smoke is enormously harmful to your health. There’s no safe way to smoke. Replacing your cigarette with a cigar, pipe, or hookah won’t help you avoid the health risks associated with tobacco products.
Cigarettes contain about 600 ingredients. When they burn, they generate more than 7,000 chemicals, according to the American Lung Association. Many of those chemicals are poisonous and at least 69 of them can cause cancer. Many of the same ingredients are found in cigars and in tobacco used in pipes and hookahs. According to the National Cancer Institute, cigars have a higher level of carcinogens, toxins, and tar than cigarettes.
When using a hookah pipe, you’re likely to inhale more smoke than you would from a cigarette. Hookah smoke has many toxic compounds and exposes you to more carbon monoxide than cigarettes do. Hookahs also produce more secondhand smoke.
In the United States, the mortality rate for smokers is three times that of people who never smoked, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s one of the leading causes of preventable death.

Central Nervous System

One of the ingredients in tobacco is a mood-altering drug called nicotine. Nicotine reaches your brain in mere seconds. It’s a central nervous system stimulant, so it makes you feel more energized for a little while. As that effect subsides, you feel tired and crave more. Nicotine is habit forming.
Smoking increases risk of macular degeneration, cataracts, and poor eyesight. It can also weaken your sense of taste and sense of smell, so food may become less enjoyable.
Your body has a stress hormone called corticosterone, which lowers the effects of nicotine. If you’re under a lot of stress, you’ll need more nicotine to get the same effect.
Physical withdrawal from smoking can impair your cognitive functioning and make you feel anxious, irritated, and depressed. Withdrawal can also cause headaches and sleep problems.

Respiratory System

When you inhale smoke, you’re taking in substances that can damage your lungs. Over time, your lungs lose their ability to filter harmful chemicals. Coughing can’t clear out the toxins sufficiently, so these toxins get trapped in the lungs. Smokers have a higher risk of respiratory infections, colds, and flu.
In a condition called emphysema, the air sacs in your lungs are destroyed. In chronic bronchitis, the lining of the tubes of the lungs becomes inflamed. Over time, smokers are at increased risk of developing these forms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Long-term smokers are also at increased risk of lung cancer.
Withdrawal from tobacco products can cause temporary congestion and respiratory pain as your lungs begin to clear out.
Children whose parents smoke are more prone to coughing, wheezing, and asthma attacks than children whose parents don’t. They also tend to have more ear infections. Children of smokers have higher rates of pneumonia and bronchitis.

Cardiovascular System

Smoking damages your entire cardiovascular system. When nicotine hits your body, it gives your blood sugar a boost. After a short time, you’re left feeling tired and craving more. Nicotine causes blood vessels to tighten, which restricts the flow of blood (peripheral artery disease). Smoking lowers good cholesterol levels and raises blood pressure, which can result in stretching of the arteries and a buildup of bad cholesterol (atherosclerosis). Smoking raises the risk of forming blood clots.
Blood clots and weakened blood vessels in the brain increase a smoker’s risk of stroke. Smokers who have heart bypass surgery are at increased risk of recurrent coronary heart disease. In the long term, smokers are at greater risk of blood cancer (leukemia).
There’s a risk to nonsmokers, too. Breathing secondhand smoke has an immediate effect on the cardiovascular system. Exposure to secondhand smoke increases your risk of stroke, heart attack, and coronary heart disease.

Skin, Hair, and Nails (Integumentary System)

Some of the more obvious signs of smoking involve the skin. The substances in tobacco smoke actually change the structure of your skin. Smoking causes skin discoloration, wrinkles, and premature aging. Your fingernails and the skin on your fingers may have yellow staining from holding cigarettes. Smokers usually develop yellow or brown stains on their teeth. Hair holds on to the smell of tobacco long after you put your cigarette out. It even clings to nonsmokers.

Digestive System

Smokers are at great risk of developing oral problems. Tobacco use can cause gum inflammation (gingivitis) or infection (periodontitis). These problems can lead to tooth decay, tooth loss, and bad breath.
Smoking also increases risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, larynx, and esophagus. Smokers have higher rates of kidney cancer and pancreatic cancer. Even cigar smokers who don’t inhale are at increased risk of mouth cancer.
Smoking also has an effect on insulin, making it more likely that you’ll develop insulin resistance. That puts you at increased risk of type 2 diabetes. When it comes to diabetes, smokers tend to develop complications at a faster rate than nonsmokers.
Smoking also depresses appetite, so you may not be getting all the nutrients your body needs. Withdrawal from tobacco products can cause nausea.

Sexuality and Reproductive System

Restricted blood flow can affect a man’s ability to get an erection. Both men and women who smoke may have difficulty achieving orgasm and are at higher risk of infertility. Women who smoke may experience menopause at an earlier age than nonsmoking women. Smoking increases a woman’s risk of cervical cancer.
Smokers experience more complications of pregnancy, including miscarriage, problems with the placenta, and premature delivery.
Pregnant mothers who are exposed to secondhand smoke are also more likely to have a baby with low birth weight. Babies born to mothers who smoke while pregnant are at greater risk of low birth weight, birth defects, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Newborns who breathe secondhand smoke suffer more ear infections and asthma attacks.
- See more at:

The Effects of Smoking on the Body

Tobacco smoke is enormously harmful to your health. There’s no safe way to smoke. Replacing your cigarette with a cigar, pipe, or hookah won’t help you avoid the health risks associated with tobacco products.
Cigarettes contain about 600 ingredients. When they burn, they generate more than 7,000 chemicals, according to the American Lung Association. Many of those chemicals are poisonous and at least 69 of them can cause cancer. Many of the same ingredients are found in cigars and in tobacco used in pipes and hookahs. According to the National Cancer Institute, cigars have a higher level of carcinogens, toxins, and tar than cigarettes.
When using a hookah pipe, you’re likely to inhale more smoke than you would from a cigarette. Hookah smoke has many toxic compounds and exposes you to more carbon monoxide than cigarettes do. Hookahs also produce more secondhand smoke.
In the United States, the mortality rate for smokers is three times that of people who never smoked, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s one of the leading causes of preventable death.

Central Nervous System

One of the ingredients in tobacco is a mood-altering drug called nicotine. Nicotine reaches your brain in mere seconds. It’s a central nervous system stimulant, so it makes you feel more energized for a little while. As that effect subsides, you feel tired and crave more. Nicotine is habit forming.
Smoking increases risk of macular degeneration, cataracts, and poor eyesight. It can also weaken your sense of taste and sense of smell, so food may become less enjoyable.
Your body has a stress hormone called corticosterone, which lowers the effects of nicotine. If you’re under a lot of stress, you’ll need more nicotine to get the same effect.
Physical withdrawal from smoking can impair your cognitive functioning and make you feel anxious, irritated, and depressed. Withdrawal can also cause headaches and sleep problems.

Respiratory System

When you inhale smoke, you’re taking in substances that can damage your lungs. Over time, your lungs lose their ability to filter harmful chemicals. Coughing can’t clear out the toxins sufficiently, so these toxins get trapped in the lungs. Smokers have a higher risk of respiratory infections, colds, and flu.
In a condition called emphysema, the air sacs in your lungs are destroyed. In chronic bronchitis, the lining of the tubes of the lungs becomes inflamed. Over time, smokers are at increased risk of developing these forms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Long-term smokers are also at increased risk of lung cancer.
Withdrawal from tobacco products can cause temporary congestion and respiratory pain as your lungs begin to clear out.
Children whose parents smoke are more prone to coughing, wheezing, and asthma attacks than children whose parents don’t. They also tend to have more ear infections. Children of smokers have higher rates of pneumonia and bronchitis.

Cardiovascular System

Smoking damages your entire cardiovascular system. When nicotine hits your body, it gives your blood sugar a boost. After a short time, you’re left feeling tired and craving more. Nicotine causes blood vessels to tighten, which restricts the flow of blood (peripheral artery disease). Smoking lowers good cholesterol levels and raises blood pressure, which can result in stretching of the arteries and a buildup of bad cholesterol (atherosclerosis). Smoking raises the risk of forming blood clots.
Blood clots and weakened blood vessels in the brain increase a smoker’s risk of stroke. Smokers who have heart bypass surgery are at increased risk of recurrent coronary heart disease. In the long term, smokers are at greater risk of blood cancer (leukemia).
There’s a risk to nonsmokers, too. Breathing secondhand smoke has an immediate effect on the cardiovascular system. Exposure to secondhand smoke increases your risk of stroke, heart attack, and coronary heart disease.

Skin, Hair, and Nails (Integumentary System)

Some of the more obvious signs of smoking involve the skin. The substances in tobacco smoke actually change the structure of your skin. Smoking causes skin discoloration, wrinkles, and premature aging. Your fingernails and the skin on your fingers may have yellow staining from holding cigarettes. Smokers usually develop yellow or brown stains on their teeth. Hair holds on to the smell of tobacco long after you put your cigarette out. It even clings to nonsmokers.

Digestive System

Smokers are at great risk of developing oral problems. Tobacco use can cause gum inflammation (gingivitis) or infection (periodontitis). These problems can lead to tooth decay, tooth loss, and bad breath.
Smoking also increases risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, larynx, and esophagus. Smokers have higher rates of kidney cancer and pancreatic cancer. Even cigar smokers who don’t inhale are at increased risk of mouth cancer.
Smoking also has an effect on insulin, making it more likely that you’ll develop insulin resistance. That puts you at increased risk of type 2 diabetes. When it comes to diabetes, smokers tend to develop complications at a faster rate than nonsmokers.
Smoking also depresses appetite, so you may not be getting all the nutrients your body needs. Withdrawal from tobacco products can cause nausea.

Sexuality and Reproductive System

Restricted blood flow can affect a man’s ability to get an erection. Both men and women who smoke may have difficulty achieving orgasm and are at higher risk of infertility. Women who smoke may experience menopause at an earlier age than nonsmoking women. Smoking increases a woman’s risk of cervical cancer.
Smokers experience more complications of pregnancy, including miscarriage, problems with the placenta, and premature delivery.
Pregnant mothers who are exposed to secondhand smoke are also more likely to have a baby with low birth weight. Babies born to mothers who smoke while pregnant are at greater risk of low birth weight, birth defects, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Newborns who breathe secondhand smoke suffer more ear infections and asthma attacks.
- See more at:

          What Exclusive Titles Will We See on Xbox 2 (Project Scorpio)?    

XBox 2 Exclusives
Console exclusives have long been used as a means of arguing why one is better than another. There’s no denying that certain franchises define their consoles after so many generations of exclusive titles.

It’s these games that win us over and bring us from one side to another. Microsoft has a nice library of titles, both past and present, that would work really well on Xbox 2/Project Scorpio. Today, we’re going to take a look at the franchises exclusive to Xbox systems, and what form they could take on Xbox Two (Project Scorpio).

13 Exclusives You’ll Most Likely See on Project Scorpio (Xbox 2)

Some of these titles are a given, but others come from deep in the vaults of Microsoft. With the recent cancellation of Scalebound, Microsoft has axed one of their precious exclusives. It was shaping up pretty well, but the hammer came down anyway.

Are any of these games safe? In some cases, the answer is a definite yes, but in others, the future could be uncertain. It’s worth noting that, even if these games come out on Xbox 2 (Project Scorpio), they won’t be exclusive to that system unless they’re in VR.

Microsoft has said already Scorpio won’t have any exclusives, save for these virtual reality experiences.

So, most likely you’ll see these titles in some form on Xbox One as well, but odds are they will shine best on the new console. Let’s look at the lineup!

1. Gears of War

While Microsoft has a lot of AAA exclusives, nothing hits quite like Gears of War. The first three games in this franchise were powerhouse examples of what could be done on Xbox 360. Gears of War 4 looks and plays great on Xbox One, but it wasn’t the revival I wanted from the series.

Even so, there’s no doubting that the series will continue on Xbox 2/Project Scorpio. It will most likely be used to showcase the 4K power of the system to great effect. Not only that, but if Microsoft lets developers harness the power of the system beyond a resolution boost, we could see a knockout performance from then next Gears game. This one a definite, though, because we know they are creating a new trilogy for the beloved series.

2. Phantom Dust

My first experience with Phantom Dust came from an impulse buy at Walmart in the original Xbox bargain bin. Man, was it a hidden gem, though. This game combined customizable attacks with an amazing combat system that randomly deployed attacks in your “deck” three at a time.

So, let’s say you got a shield, a projectile, and a melee attack. You could map those on the fly to your character and then come back when new ones spawned to change up your arsenal in the middle of battle. Such a cool exclusive, and Microsoft even announced a remake at E3 2014.

Since then, they have seemingly canceled the project, but have also said that it’s still going to come out at some point. It’s confusing, which makes this one a “maybe” in our book. Even so, this is such a unique franchise, I’m really hoping it sees the light of day.

3. Halo

Ah yes, good old Master Chief. He’s been a flagship representative of the Xbox brand since the days of the original Xbox. We’re up to Halo 5 now, but don’t expect this series to go anywhere. Halo 6 is guaranteed, and I’m sure we’ll see something past that.

At the very least, spin-offs like Halo Wars keep the series alive and fresh. Halo 6 will conclude the second trilogy for the series and I guarantee you it will be yet another major selling point for owners of Xbox 2 (Project Scorpio).

Since we’re also expecting VR on Xbox Two, I would also submit that Halo will get the virtual reality treatment in some form. Depending on how successful VR is, it will either be a “Halo experience” or a full game in VR, but mark my words, it will happen.

4. State of Decay

State of Decay is one of those games that I have in my library that I keep saying I’ll get around to. It’s a pretty good zombie apocalypse title that combines an open world with unique survival mechanics.

At E3 2016, Microsoft announced a sequel in the form of State of Decay 2. Since the series is seeing another iteration, I think we have a new exclusive franchise on our hands. While the zombie thing has been done to death, this could be another title that would make a great VR experience. At the very least, we will see them expand on the survival mechanics and possibly take the whole thing online DayZ style.

5. Crackdown

I absolutely loved the first Crackdown on Xbox 360. It somehow managed to nail the open-world feeling while also providing a compelling reason to collect a whole lot of orbs. The way your character felt physically more powerful as the game went on was amazing and addicting.

Then Crackdown 2 came along and kinda messed things up. The switch to zombies made next to zero sense, and the repetitive cycle they came up with gave my nightmares akin to the ones I have when I think about the original Assassin’s Creed.

I thought the series was done, but Microsoft announced Crackdown 3 and everything suddenly came back to me. The game has made waves since a demo was shown behind closed doors that gave the press a look at how Microsoft is finally using the cloud to do some pretty amazing stuff.

With Xbox 2 (Project Scorpio) we could see the cloud finally become utilized in the way that Crackdown 3 does in the multiplayer mode. For this game, the city in multiplayer is 100% destructible and it stays that way across sessions thanks to the cloud technology.

6. Sea of Thieves

Microsoft’s ownership of Rare Studios has been something they rarely take advantage of. Prior to games like Rare Replay, they were only working on Kinect titles. Thankfully, that is no longer the case.

Rare is working on a new franchise called Sea of Thieves that has had some truly impressive showings at gaming conferences. This online pirate game allows you to set sail on open seas and fight other players as you journey with your friends into the unknown.

This is something that will most likely hit shelves shortly after Project Scorpio (Xbox 2) releases, which puts it in the perfect place to take advantage of the new hardware. A massive world like this could greatly benefit from the aforementioned cloud technology that Crackdown 3 is using as well.

Perhaps with the release of Xbox Two/Project Scorpio, we’ll see the cloud revived as well.

7. Indie Darlings

Microsoft has been showing indie titles a lot of love, and why not? They tend to have unique ideas and interesting stories to tell. There’s also some exclusives happening with games like Below and Cuphead.

Microsoft will absolutely continue to embrace the independent developers in the industry with Xbox 2 (Project Scorpio). Running simpler games in 4K is something the system should be able to do without breaking a sweat. It will be a great source of native 4K content for the console.

8. Quantum Break

Remedy is responsible for games like Max Payne, Alan Wake, and of course, Quantum Break. This incredibly unique shooter combined live action episodes with gameplay in a way that made it feel like an interactive TV show.

I really enjoyed it, and I’m not the only one either. With the strong reviews and sales, Remedy is bound to come back to this universe on Xbox Two (Project Scorpio). We’ll hopefully see the return of the live action episodes in glorious 4K and improved graphics as a result of Scorpio’s hardware.

9. Lost Odyssey

Sony has been killing it with the RPG selection on PS4, but Xbox is looking a little light in this regard. During the Xbox 360 generation, the tables were turned when Microsoft had games like Blue Dragon and of course, Lost Odyssey.

Lost Odyssey has a special place in my heart as one of my favorite RPGs. I would absolutely love to see Mistwalker return to this universe with a gorgeous 4K RPG on Xbox 2/Project Scorpio. Will it happen? It’s hard to say, but Microsoft did recently make the classic RPG backwards compatible with Xbox One, so there’s still interest in seeing it come back.

10. Banjo-Kazooie

One of the first things you think of when Rare shows up, is Banjo-Kazooie. While we did get a new title in this series on Xbox 360, it wasn’t really what people wanted, or needed for that matter. We wanted a classic platformer, and we still do.

Once they’re done with Sea of Thieves, I wouldn’t be surprised if they leapt on a project in this franchise to compete with Sony’s announcement of Crash Bandicoot being remastered.

11. Fable

Fable has had a rough ride, courtesy of series creator Peter Molyneux. He tends to make promises and checks that he can’t cash, which gave the Fable series a very muddled image in the mainstream gaming world.

An old co-worker of mine used to call it “The Fisher-Price of RPGs” which is a little harsh, but not entirely off the mark. It offered an approachable option in the genre and, while it didn’t meet all expectations, it’s still a series I remember fondly.

We thought it was coming back with Fable Legends, but that was unfortunately canceled. Even Lionhead studios was shuttered after this as well, but I have faith that the Fable brand won’t fade into history.

It will return in another form, with a new developer. Mark my words.

12. Forza

Forza Motorsport is one of the most successful racing franchises ever, and it continues to smash records every year for Microsoft. Whether it’s the traditional series, or the Horizon spin-offs, this one isn’t going anywhere.

When it comes to games that can and will benefit from Xbox 2 (Project Scorpio), this is a no-brainer. It will be a glorious entry into the 4K lineup.

13. Perfect Dark

Last up is another Rare classic. Perfect Dark has had its fair share of ups and downs, but it was always remembered fondly by fans. The Xbox 360 entry is something we don’t talk about, but the HD remaster available in the Rare Replay collection reminded me that we need to see this series come back.

In a market dominated by Battlefield and Call of Duty, a unique first-person espionage shooter like Perfect Dark would find a comfortable place on Xbox 2/Project Scorpio.

Over to You, Fellow Gamers

Project Scorpio, A.K.A Xbox Two, is coming in holiday of 2017. The games that Microsoft plans to bring to the new console will be gorgeous and exciting. The prospect of VR titles is even more amazing, especially given this lineup of exclusive franchises to choose from.

We can only speculate for now, and hope that our favorite franchises can come back from a hiatus and be reborn in glorious 4K or VR. It’s only a matter of time, my friends, before we see some of these names on the big screen again.

Which exclusives do you want to see on Xbox 2 (Project Scorpio)? Let your voice be heard in the comments!


          2017 Uvex Jimm Octo+ Helmet Review   

This is one well-thought-out brain bucket. Its in-mold construction provides safety while maintaining a lightweight profile and vents placed in the front and rear keep the breeze flowing. That comfort is furthered by Uvex’s proprietary fitting system, Octo+, which uses flexible “fins” that automatically conform to the shape of your head.

The post 2017 Uvex Jimm Octo+ Helmet Review appeared first on Freeskier Magazine.

          2017 Shred Bumper NoShock Helmet Review   

This hard hat from Shred aims to challenge traditional helmet tech with a couple of innovations of its own: NOSHOCK and INFINITE RAA. NOSHOCK is an impact-absorbing material used to take on direct, linear hits, while INFINITE RAA uses a collection of joystick-like shock absorbers that angle themselves to counter forces imposed on your brain […]

The post 2017 Shred Bumper NoShock Helmet Review appeared first on Freeskier Magazine.

          Pret Cynic X Helmet – 2016   

The low profile Pret Cynic X Helmet has integrated MIPS that gives you peace of mind in all of your conquests as well as quality brain protection. An adjustable dial cinches the helmet for a secure fi t around your head, keeping it in place through those cliff drops and big lines you’re sending. An […]

The post Pret Cynic X Helmet – 2016 appeared first on Freeskier Magazine.

          Scott Symbol helmet – 2015   

The Scott Symbol helmet offers skiers the versatility and protection they are looking for. From the Freeride World Tour to backcountry spots across the globe, Scott athletes trust their heads with this dome piece. Featuring the integrated MIPS Brain Protection System, the Symbol delivers unmatched protection, while maintaining a low profile and modern look.

The post Scott Symbol helmet – 2015 appeared first on Freeskier Magazine.

          Pret Shaman Helmet – 2014   

Pret’s Shaman is the perfect all-mountain helmet. The VTT2’s 23 internal vents and 15 external vents provide ideal temperature control without any brain freeze. That, coupled with the best fit on the market in a super light package, makes the Shaman the obvious choice.

The post Pret Shaman Helmet – 2014 appeared first on Freeskier Magazine.

          Shred Half Brain Clarity Helmet – 2014   

The Half Brain Clarity is everything you need and nothing you don’t, and now introducing ICEdot identifier for added safety. Hike the pipe and session all day with reduced fog and moisture build-up.

The post Shred Half Brain Clarity Helmet – 2014 appeared first on Freeskier Magazine.

          Shred Half Brain D-Lux Helmet – 2014   

Along with exceeding safety standards, this collab between Shred and Slopeside Syrup of Vermont features the ICEdot identifier for use in the event of an emergency. Look to the SHREDwheel dial-in fit system to keep you comfortable along with a removable liner and plush, audio-compatible ear pads. Ten vents take care of heat and moisture, […]

The post Shred Half Brain D-Lux Helmet – 2014 appeared first on Freeskier Magazine.

          Pret Shaman Helmet   

One of the lightest, most ventilated helmets on snow, the Shaman is the perfect all mountain helmet. VTT2 handles temperature control in all conditions from extreme to spring, with 23 internal vents 15 external vents and no direct airflow to cause the dreaded “Brain Freeze”. In-Mold construction, a superb fit dialed-in with the RFS and […]

The post Pret Shaman Helmet appeared first on Freeskier Magazine.

          Pret Shaman Helmet   

One of the lightest, most ventilated helmets on snow, the Shaman is the perfect all mountain helmet. VTT2 handles temperature control in all conditions from extreme to spring, with 23 internal vents 15 external vents and no direct airflow to cause the dreaded “Brain Freeze”. In-Mold construction, a superb fit dialed-in with the RFS and […]

The post Pret Shaman Helmet appeared first on Freeskier Magazine.

          Excitement’s building for the Summer Member Meeting   

@SocialMediaOrg @MiaFruci @CarolineSprouse @dmunstar @matthewglick123 READY. This time will bring an extra bag for the #swag. #SocialMediaOrg — Sue Serna (@sueserna) May 11, 2017 @SocialMediaOrg Thanks. Looking forward to taking advantage of all the #socialmedia brain power and collaboration.… Read More >>

The post Excitement’s building for the Summer Member Meeting appeared first on

          Plan for Lent   
I grew up Catholic, so giving up something for Lent was engrained into my brain. As a child, I wanted to give up something that would be easy and wouldn't take much sacrifice. As my faith has grown, along with my understanding of the reason for sacrificing during Lent, I have found that giving up something that will cause struggle and sacrifice will bring a greater result. During Lent, I want a constant reminder of the sacrifice Christ made when he died for our sins on the cross and the love ...
          Aliens Attack And Congress Goes Extreme In CBS' Political Satire 'BrainDead'   
Remember that meteorite that smashed into Russia a few years ago, with enough people filming it as it came to Earth to cause a brief Internet sensation? Robert and Michelle King certainly do. The creators of The Good Wife use some of those images in the opening moments of their new CBS series, BrainDead, to set up a bizarre but very enjoyable hypothetical scenario. Here's the weird what-if: What if a meteorite like that one is recovered by Russians and forwarded to the United States for further study and eventual display in the Smithsonian? And what if that happens right at the start of a government shutdown, allowing the outer-space rock to burst open undetected, spilling out a veritable army of ant-like space bugs? And what if those bugs have the power, and the inclination, to creep around inside the Beltway and into the ears of politicians and their staffers, eating and mutating their brains? And what if those brain mutations result in politicians who are partisan in the extreme —
          BLOG: My Beloved Wife Was Run over by a Log Truck   
Twenty-five years ago today, on Monday, October 10th, 1988, Columbus Day, my beloved wife was run over by a log truck on the old Calcasieu River Bridge, not far from Hineston, Louisiana.

Sandy was a passenger in a small pick-up truck. As they entered the bridge, so did a log truck with its rear tandem axle jacked up. But as soon as the truck entered the bridge, this eight-wheel unit broke loose and came straight at the pick-up, rolling over it and removing everything above the hood. The woman who was driving was unharmed except for a neck injury that the Lord immediately and completely healed right after church the following Sunday, six days later. But the people who saw the accident thought at first that my wife had been decapitated. In the extreme mercy of God, she was not, and God had sent his angels to wrap that passenger door around Sandy's body, keeping her organs from being crushed. But Sandy did go into a coma, had her pelvis broken in several places, and a nerve severed in her brain.

What is our comfort in times like these? It is this: no matter how bad our life may be at a particular point in terms of suffering and anxiety, God is still God. The God who grieves and groans in my suffering, who enters inside me to live in me and is grieved in my grief, that God is sovereign. And in that sovereignty, he ordains everything that happens (Ephesians 1:11). But he ordains it with a twist on it, and that twist is this: he's turning it for my good.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers" (Romans 8:28-29).

What does that mean? What is the good? Is it winning the lottery, obtaining a life-long goal, finishing our education, a new relationship? What is the good, ultimately?

We can't define the good arbitrarily or abstractly. Romans 8:29 tells us what the good is: we are "predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son" (Romans 8:29).

Things such as what happened 25 years ago don't seem that way, do they? So this is something we have to receive by faith, that God is at work in ALL THINGS to shape our character to become more like Jesus.

He won't spare anything to make us like Jesus, "that he might be the firstborn among many brothers" (Romans 8:29). That is the good to which all things are working.

There is nothing, absolutely nothing in this world that can satisfy us like knowing and loving Jesus. And there is nothing that is more fulfilling in this life than to begin to be made more like Jesus, to know something of his humility and gentleness, his putting other people and their needs and welfare above his own. Because it is in self-denial that we experience true self-fulfillment -- one of many psychological paradoxes we experience on the path to mental wholeness.

As I look back over the past quarter century, I can see that this dreadful and frightening day was part of God's plan because he loves Sandy, and he loves me.

During the time of recovery, I had to tend to five children, from a senior at Alexandria Senior High School, to a toddler as well as my elderly mother who lived in our home and suffered from senile dementia.

It was a profoundly lonely time, and the emotional distance between Sandy and me began to grow, as days passed into weeks, and weeks passed into months. But one fruit of that distance was that we began to pray together -- something that we had never regularly done before, apart from individual and family prayers.

Beginning in January 1989, as her healing progressed to the point that she could walk on her own, we started meeting every morning, holding hands and pouring out our hearts to God together. It was the best thing that ever happened to our marriage, and it is something we still do, even if it is sometimes by telephone because one of us is out of town.

Also, the woman who emerged from that coma was a profoundly changed woman. When she woke up out of her coma in the Intensive Care Unit of Frances Cabrini Hospital, she had no pain and never has had any pain from the accident since then. She profoundly sensed that she had been somewhere else during the days her body lay in that bed, a place of unimaginable beauty and joy, a place of where people gathered to worship God with the most glorious singing she had ever heard, a mass choir like none on earth.

She began October 10, 1988, as a very kind and decent woman, but also a woman who was sometimes very frightened. She emerged several days later as a woman without any fear . . . without fear ever again. And she returned a woman on a mission. She now saw life as very short but with very long-lasting consequences. Before she liked to lurk in the shadows because she was shy; now she saw that she had a mission to finish, a calling to fulfill, and no matter her shyness, that calling took precedence.

My wife is the greatest earthly treasure God has ever given me: she is my dearest friend, my wisest counselor, my most encouraging coach, and my lover. I give thanks that God ordained that she would not be decapitated on that bridge but would have her life extended 25 more years, 25 good and fulfilling years, years of joy and with a renewed zest for living -- Joie de vivre.

The anniversary of that day reminds me that it is in suffering that we grow, not only in character and relationships, but in happiness -- as we respond to the difficulties of life by seeking God, by praying and believing God's promises, no matter what our common sense tells us, and then by faith, by praising God, not only because this, too, shall pass, but because it was planned by God before the worlds began for our greater happiness and fulfillment. Bob/Robert Benn Vincent, Sr.

          Floor Managers - Pickle Barrel Restaurants - Etobicoke, ON   
It means our chefs spending hours brainstorming new dishes with our network of food writers, health experts and nutritionists....
From Indeed - Thu, 01 Jun 2017 20:53:12 GMT - View all Etobicoke, ON jobs
          YouTube - Former KGB Agent Yuri Bezmenov Explains How to Brainwash a Nation   


I just made an account here to post this very interesting interview.  I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve long been skeptical of Sam’s hard line on all things Russia. This interview has gone a long way to convincing me personally.

          Blue Light Bookmarks   

Lama Yeshe

First you must know your own situation - 
The prayer is in the mind -
We all need to conquer our uncontrolled mind -
Slowly integrate our mind with reality -
Purify our mind -
Negative mind is a waste of time -
Dedicating the energy -
You must direct your actions -
Put it into action -
Check up deeper -
Nobody will make trouble for you -

Making the Most of Your Life -

Lama Yeshe Discusses the Embodiment of Compassion -

Matthieu Ricard

The habits of happiness -
The Art of Meditation -
Change your Mind Change your Brain: The Inner Conditions -

The Dali Lama, Matthieu Ricard & Christof Koch

Day 4 Mind and Life 2016 -


          felling kinda athiest   
soo...over the last two days ive been gorging myself in satanic and athiest ideology....the satan stuff is frazzle your brain if you try to justify your stance agaiisnt them....and then theres this site called make me laugh but they do make good arguments
          Tim Tebow is not Facing the Giants   

This weekend, the New York Giants upset the defending champion Green Bay Packers while the Tim Tebow–led Denver Broncos fell to the New England Patriots.

The Giants might make it to the Super Bowl, but Tebow will not, so that means that Tim Tebow is not facing the Giants.

But not just on the football field, but in a much more profoundly theological way.

A few weeks ago, my family sat down for movie night and watched Facing the Giants. Here is the trailer:

It is an emotional story of a high school football coach, Grant Taylor (compellingly acted by Alex Kendrick, who also directed and co-wrote the movie), as he is facing the difficulties of his life (the metaphorical “giants”). He is on the verge of losing his job as coach of the Shiloh Eagles because they keep losing. He and his wife are heart-broken by their inability to have a baby. The couple are scraping by on his small salary and cannot afford to buy a new car.

But then he prays.

And his attitude changes. He decides that instead of worrying about all that’s going wrong in his life, he will live whole-heartedly to glorify God in everything he does.

He tells the team that he is initiating a new team philosophy: “We need to give God our best in every area. And if we win, we praise Him, and if we lose, we praise Him.”

It is at this stage in the story that miracles begin to happen: Somebody anonymously gives Grant a brand new pickup truck. The Eagles begin to win. And his wife discovers she’s pregnant.


I have to tell the rest of the story of this movie in order to make my point. The culmination of the movie has this small Christian school’s football team making the state playoffs. I was hoping that they’d lose so that this movie can provide my three children (ages 13, 11, and 11) the lesson that winning is not all there is in life and that what the coach says is really true: “If we win, we praise Him, and if we lose, we praise Him.”

And they did indeed lose! The sad coach says to his wife, “I thought for sure we’d win that game!”

But wait a minute! The other team cheated by having an ineligible player on their team, so the Eagles get to advance in the playoffs due to the forfeit! What a miracle!

Extraordinarily, the Eagles make it all the way to the State Championship against the big, ominous Giants, who are dressed in all black, and have a fat mean-spirited man as their head coach. Against all odds, the Eagles win on a field goal by the kid who also facing his “giant” of feeling inadequate to play on the football team. Wow!

As the credits began to scroll, one of my kids said, “That was amazing! If this really didn’t happen, I wouldn’t believe it!”

”What?” This caused me to stop everyone from going up to bed. “This didn’t really happen,” I said, “This is a fictional movie.”

That’s when the anger and crying began. They were so upset that this movie was not true. They felt that it was wrong, down-right lying, to tell such a story if it did not really happen.

The movie’s premise was that if you prayed and gave your all to God, life will turn out wonderful and all the hardships in life will be overcome by miracles from God. You will win the big game. My kids wanted to believe that.

And when I told my kids “This movie is fiction,” they understood that to mean “This movie is a lie.”

Which it is.

God never promises that if we give him our best in every area of our lives that all our trials will be overcome by miracles and that our lives will become wonderful. Exactly the opposite is taught:

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)

Coach Grant Taylor told his team, “We need to give God our best in every area. And if we win, we praise Him, and if we lose, we praise Him.” That is exactly right. The Apostle Peter was willing to praise God no matter what because he knew that the ultimate reward for faith in Christ is an inheritance that is yet to come. Jesus suffered and died, but overcame that with resurrection. We have that same hope in our trials. He wrote,

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.”

Now to Tim Tebow.

Tim Tebow and his faith in Jesus Christ has been a lightning rod of contention as his Broncos unexpectedly made the NFL playoffs and then won last week against the heavily-favored Pittsburgh Steelers. Tebow’s dramatic overtime win (on the first play from scrimmage in OT, Tebow completed an 80 yard touchdown to win it) had people all aflutter. In that win, he threw for 316 yards and averaged 31.6 yards per completion. (Isn’t the Bible’s “most famous verse” John 3:16? And hey- Isn’t the coach of the Broncos named John? Whoa!) Facebook and Twitter were filled with people saying that Tim Tebow’s Christian faith must be the reason they won that game. He must be going all the way to win the Super Bowl.

That’s the way Alex Kendrick would have wrote it: The Broncos would have faced the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI and won it in dramatic fashion.

But this is reality. This is Tim Tebow living a real, authentic Christian life: one that truly says, “We need to give God our best in every area, and if we win, we praise Him, and if we lose, we praise Him.”

Tebow works hard at what he does (playing football) and because of that, he has experienced success. But Tebow knows that there is more to life than winning football games.

Legendary sports writer Rick Reilly recently wrote an article at titled “I Believe in Tim Tebow.” It is worth clicking over to read. In it, he explains what kind of person Tebow is.

“Who among us is this selfless?

Every week, Tebow picks out someone who is suffering, or who is dying, or who is injured. He flies these people and their families to the Broncos game, rents them a car, puts them up in a nice hotel, buys them dinner (usually at a Dave & Buster's), gets them and their families pregame passes, visits with them just before kickoff (!), gets them 30-yard-line tickets down low, visits with them after the game (sometimes for an hour), has them walk him to his car, and sends them off with a basket of gifts.

Home or road, win or lose, hero or goat.”

There is a difference between the fictional story of “Facing the Giants” and the real-life story of Tim Tebow. Christians who want to use athletes’ or celebrities’ success as “proof” for the goodness of Christianity had better hear this.’s Jeff Darlington explains it best:

For the first time in seven days, each of which I spent in Denver because of Tim Tebow's polarizing impact on the NFL, the Broncos' quarterback and I finally had the chance to exchange more than the daily salutations I'd come to expect from the overbearing nature of Tebowmania.

We walked toward the exit -- among the last to leave the locker room after a 41-23 loss to the Patriots on Sunday -- as I began to ask the first of what I hoped would be a series of questions.

"How is the strength of your faith impacted after a loss?" I started.

"It puts things in perspective," Tebow said. "God is still God. I still have a relationship with Christ, and a loss doesn't change anything. Win or lose, everything is still the same. What matters is the girl I'm about to see, Kelly Faughnan. If I can inspire hope in someone, then it's still a good day."

And just like that, with a transition smooth enough to make a movie producer proud, Tebow crossed through the threshold of a doorway to the glowing face of a 22-year-old survivor of a brain tumor. After one question, the interview was over. A more important priority awaited him.

That’s the kind of movie “Facing the Giants” could have been.


          Art as Prophetic Subversion   
banksy_christI have already stated emphatically that art is good simply because it is creative. Art glorifies God simply by being imaginative and original. Art’s value is not based on its instrumentality or on its commercial value. What proceeds below must not serve to undermine this foundational assertion: Good art is good art; it glorifies God “as is.”

Beyond the inherent goodness in art, there are also other ways that art can bring glory to God. Today we will look at how art can be both creative and prophetic. Tomorrow we will see how art can be redemptive and restorative.

Art can be prophetic, creating critical awareness of injustice, brokenness, oppression, and the need for action to alleviate suffering.
“Using the arts to create critical awareness is not new. In the Old Testament Jeremiah, Isaiah, Amos, and other prophets used drama, allegory, and poetry to jolt people and nations into thinking about their lives in the world. Jesus, by his presence and his storytelling, often confused and angered those around him who did not want to recognize their own role in oppressing the poor. He created critical awareness among the poor by causing them to see and act on the new life of freedom that was possible outside the accepted cultural boundaries based on status, wealth, power, religion, gender, and ethnicity.” (Taking it to the Streets: Using the Arts to Transform Your Community, by J. Nathan Corbitt and Vivian Nix-Early, p. 129)
In the movie, Exit Through the Gift Shop, an eccentric Frenchman Thierry Guetta has an obsession to videotape the secret lives of the most famous street artists as they create their art. Even though he tells the street artists he is making a documentary, he in fact has no ability to do so, he simply collects box after box of unmarked videotapes. In his exploits, Guetta meets many of the most famous street artists in the world, including Space Invader, Shephard Fairey (known for his Andre the Giant stencils and made famous through his colorful Barack Obama posters during the 2008 election) and the most famous and most mysterious street artist of them all, Banksy, whose legendary art mysteriously appears on walls, bridges, and streets throughout the world. All we know of Banksy’s identity is that he is a 30-something male from the Bristol area of England. In the film, Banksy’s face is obscured in black while he wears a hoody as he is speaks to the camera.

Banksy - No_LoiteringBanksy is one of today’s greatest creative geniuses. Most of his art is created through a unique stenciling technique (though he also creates physical props) and these masterpieces are often satirical and subversive, using irreverent dark humor to offer insightful social commentary.
banksy - palestinian wallHis art has appeared throughout the world, including buildings made derelict by Hurricane Katrina (one painting depicted an old man sitting on a rocking chair waving a small American flag under spray-painted words “No Loitering”), the wall that divides Israel and Palestine (where he created nine provocative paintings depicting escape, freedom, and beauty on an object that represents imprisonment and the ugly reality of political faction), and even Disneyland (where he placed a life-sized replica of a Guantanamo Bay detainee next to a roller coaster). When an art museum commissions Banksy to display his art, the museum is vacated while he secretly comes in and installs his art. One of his most provocative paintings depicts Christ crucified, but instead of being on a cross, his spread arms and hands are carrying shopping bags full of Christmas presents. The street prophet is asking us, “What is Christmas really about today? How has commercialization and commodification usurped the real story of Christ?”

banksy-disneylandIn Exit Through the Gift Shop, Banksy realizes that Thierry Guetta is not really a creative artist capable of making the movie and therefore takes over the direction of the documentary. Flipping the script on Guetta, Banksy suggests to the crazy Frenchman to become a street artist himself, which he excitedly does. Guetta takes the alter ego “Mr. Brainwash” and mass-produces street art for a big debut show in Los Angeles.

Banksy successfully transforms the movie into the story of Thierry Guetta, whose only talent is to copy the art of those he admires for commercial monetary success. “Mr. Brainwash’s” show is a success, as people line up and pay a lot of money for pieces of pop-art that are totally derivative of the true street artists.

Bansky’s film shows, through the character of the shallow Guetta, that not all art is authentically creative. Banksy also exposes the desire in our culture to commodify everything, even art.
So, in the film, we get insight into both the creative and the prophetic aspects of art that glorifies God.
Art is art when it is not derivative, when it is done with authenticity, and when it is not subsumed under the weight of commercialization. This is art that is done by image-bearers reflecting the creative imagination of the Creator.

Art can also be prophetic, as exemplified by the work of Banksy, whose subversive creations speak against injustice and unrighteousness. While the authorities paint over his art because they are classified as “defacing graffiti,” Banksy continues his defiant agitation of the status quo.

What would it look like if a new generation of Christians took seriously the task of being subversive prophetic voices in their culture?
          1907-06-03 Harry Harris W-DQ8 Harlem Tommy Murphy [National Sporting Club, Lyric Hall, Manhattan, NY, USA]   
1907-06-04 The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY) (page S2)
"Pride of Harlem" Ordered Out of Ring at National Sporting Club.

Harry Harris won over "Harlem" Tommy Murphy on a foul in the eighth round of a ten-round contest last night, at the National Sporting Club. Murphy had fought foul throughout and was allowed to proceed by Referee Johnnie White, who called Tommy's tactic unintentional, but in the eighth, when Murphy, in plain sight of everybody, deliberately butted Harris under the chin, he sent the "Pride of Harlem" from the ring.

Harris fought an excellent battle, considering the time he has been out of the ring; his left jabs were very effective and played havoc with Murphy's temper by repeatedly jarring Tommy's head; his footwork saved him many times when it seemed as if it only needed one more punch from Murphy to put him away. The body work weakened Harris, and Murphy would probably have stopped him before the limit, had he kept his head. Murphy's work was crude and did not tend to add to his popularity.

In the preliminaries, "Kid" Egan won over Harry Phillips; Willie Dorsey bested Joe Bedell, and Jack Robinson earned the decision over "Dutch" Zimmer.

Just before the main bout Terry McGovern, George Dixon and Young Corbett were introduced and received a rousing reception. Terry seemed in fine shape, but said there would be no more fighting for him.

1907-06-04 The Evening Telegram (New York, NY) (page 7)
1907-06-04 The New York Herald (New York, NY) (page 7)
Harry Harris Wins from Murphy on Foul
In the first fight of real quality held in New York without police interference since the lapse of the Horton law, seven years ago, Harry Harris last night won on a foul from "Harlem Tommy" Murphy. The decision was received with enthusiastic approbation by the members of the National Sporting Club in Lyric Hall, fully a quarter of whom were in evening dress.

Although the battle was sensational from the tap of the gong that called the two boys to the centre of the ring until the referee, "Johnny" White, sent Murphy disqualified to his corner, the greatest interest perhaps lies in the fact that it marked a resumption of legitimate pugilism in New York.

All present were bona fide members of the club and more representative men have seldom attended a glove event. Seated around the ringside were Stock Exchange members, merchants, physicians, "men about town," politicians and owners of famous race horses. They generally approved of the referee's decision, giving the winner's share of the purse to Harris.

Murphy was rough throughout the battle, which had been scheduled to go ten rounds. At least three different times did he foul Harris before he was disqualified after fifty-five seconds of fighting in the eighth round. He was full of the fever of warfare and at all times attempted to tear his way through Harris, who remained cool, though frequently in danger of a knockout. As a fighting machine Murphy is made of the right material, but he lacks the proper gray matter under his hair.

It was an experienced boxer possessed of ring generalship surpassed by few against a fighter who was willing to accept two blows that he might land one. The boxer won simply because his opponent has more willingness than brains. Harris had permitted himself to be lured into the ring under rules that weakened him and strengthened Murphy. He was fortunate that the fight terminated in his favor.

In the opinion of many White might have proclaimed Harris the winner on two prior occasions without doing Murphy an injustice. One opportunity for action on the part of White developed in the third round, when Murphy fouled his opponent, and another in the fifth, when the Harlem lad again violated the rules.

On both occasions claims of foul were made to the referee. He, however, refused to allow them, believing they were accidental. He made it clear when he finally stopped the bout in the eighth round that he entertained no doubt on that point. Walking to the ropes on the south side of the ring, he said:--"Gentlemen, I am here to give satisfaction. I know when a foul is deliberately committed and when it is not. The foul I just passed was one of the most deliberate I ever saw."

White's speech was loudly applauded, indicating that losers and winners alike recognized the fairness of his verdict.

The fight was full of ginger throughout, but the rules operated greatly to the disadvantage of Harris. The men fought with the understanding that each must protect himself on the break away. This helped Murphy's style of fighting considerably, as it enabled him to do fine execution at close range and in clinches with his famous short arm drives.

Harris, who shows to better advantage when sparring at long range, had few opportunities to extend himself to the limit of capabilities under the adverse conditions. Notwithstanding the handicap, he made a good showing, but Murphy had the better of the exchange, particularly during the early rounds, when he almost closed Harris' right eye and landed frequently with the left to the head and the right to the short ribs.

The fifth round was marked by terrific fighting. Harris scored heavily during the first minute and a half, using his straight left jabs effectively on his adversary's jaw and body. But he weakened under the pace and Murphy had him beaten to a state of collapse with short heart and body blows when the gong sounded. The minute's rest helped Harris wonderfully and he came out of his corner for the sixth round refreshed and aggressive.

He soon scored first blood with a stiff jab to the mouth, and also reached Murphy's jaw with the right. He also made a good impression in the seventh round with a terrific left hand hook over "Harlem Tommy's" right eye.

In the eighth and what proved to be the last round Harris was scoring vigorously on Murphy's damaged eye, when "Tommy," who was hard pressed, in danger of serious consequences, deliberately brought his left hand up in the final foul.

1907-06-04 The Evening World (New York, NY) (page 12)
Pride of Harlem Butted Opponent Viciously in Eighth Round--Referee White Says that Loser's Manager Is a Liar.
Harry Harris got a decision over Tommy Murphy last night--got it when he was on the run, weak and staggering--when his mind was fighting off the Harlem demon rather than his fists. Murphy fouled him in the eighth round. The referee did the rest. It was a deliberate foul, as plain as the glove on Murphy's hand.

Nettled by the decision against Murphy, John Oliver, his manager, declared that the "Pride of Harlem" had been made the victim of a base and foul job. This is what Oliver said:

"A few days ago the Harris people sent a man to me, who offered me $3,000 to have Murphy lay down. I told them there wasn't enough money on Broadway to get Murphy to do it. And this is what they have done to us."

"Oliver's cry is that of a bad loser," said Tom O'Rourke, manager of the club. "The man he says offered him the money hasn't got a dollar. Everybody here saw the foul. It is ridiculous to say it was a job. All my friends lost money. They bet 2½ to 1 that Murphy would win."

Johnnie White, the referee, had this to say to-day about the fight:

"Having heard that Johnnie Oliver, Murphy's manager, has made the statement that he was offered $3,000 to have Murphy lose to Harris, I call upon Oliver to give the name of the person who made the proposition to him. If he refuses to make known this name, then all I have to say is that he is an unqualified liar.

"I desire to add that I have ample reason to believe that the yarn is false from beginning to end. I will give $500 to any charity selected by The Evening World if Oliver can come forward with evidence to show that his statement is true, or that I was in any way a party to such a plot."

All Saw the Foul.

If there was a job it was not apparent to the naked eye. Referee Johnny White had two chances to disqualify Murphy. Twice Harris stopped and dropped to his knees, claiming he had been hit low. And finally, when he did disqualify Murphy, even the men who had lost their wagers--and thousands were lost--took their medicine gracefully. They had witnessed the foul.

The National Sporting Club's quarters in Lyric Hall, Sixth avenue and Forty-second street, were crowded to the doors when the men entered the ring. It was a curious fight crowd. Only the elect were there. The pikers were nowhere. It was a crowd with parlor manners. The lusty-lunged hysterical fight fans of the olden days, when the Horton law was young, sat subdued and quiet. It is doubtful if at any stage the pedestrians on Sixth avenue knew, or had any reason to know, what was going on.

Three Champions There.

It was a convention of champions. Three of 'em sat in a row--wee dusky George Dixon, once invincible, now aged and withered; the quiet and well fed looking Young Corbett, and "Terrible" Terry McGovern. Surrounding them were lawyers and doctors--the highball coterie from the Waldorf-Astoria cafe, headliners from the Broadway shows, and the "also rans" of the sporting world, and last, but not least, John Philip Sousa.

Harris was the first in the ring. Norman Selby, once Kid McCoy, was his chief second. Then came Murphy, with Oliver at his ear. When they went to the centre of the ring it became known that they were to fight straight Queensberry rules. The Harris followers were chagrined. All hope of victory seemed gone. Murphy was known to be a furious and powerful combatant at that aggressive game.

Alongside of the stocky Murphy Harris's lithe, rangy body was accentuated. He spelled agility, Murphy power. When the bell sounded in the first of the ten rounds they were scheduled to go, Murphy was after Harris with a rush. Two lefts and then another crashed into the tall fighter's face, and then a vicious swing struck the body. The tall one doubled up, and they were at it in a rapid exchange of body blows. In a minute Harris's body was red from the pummeling he got. Then suddenly Harris's left shot out, and Murphy's head went back from the blow. But the Harlem boy came rushing back, and with a left to the jaw sent Harris staggering back. It was Murphy's round on aggressiveness.

Another for Murphy.

Murphy's left smashed into Harris's jaw at the beginning of the second. They came together and had a fair exchange. Then Murphy forced Harris to the ropes and shook his head back with a hard one on the jaw. Harris came out of the clinch with a jab to the face. It annoyed Murphy and was back again. But a short right uppercut stopped Harris. That round was Murphy's, too.

During the intermission the Harris followers became jubilant. The Harris of old seemed to be coming back. So far the sturdy Murphy, although his blows had landed hard, gave no sign of telling effect. Murphy's followers expressed surprise.

Murphy sent in a hard right to the body at the beginning of the third. Then out came Harris's jab again. Once, twice, three times it crashed against Murphy's face without return. Murphy, with head down and arms swinging, bored in to the tall one and suddenly Harris dropped to his knees and dragging himself to the ropes cried "foul." The crowd took up the cry, but the referee ordered Harris to continue. Murphy landed a terrific punch in the stomach. The bell parted a mix up. It was Murphy's round.

Murphy jumped from his chair with the gong at the beginning of the fourth and chased Harris around the ring. Harris kept him away with his annoying jabs, but when they clinched he suffered from Murphy's body blows. One fist after the other crashed against his heart and stomach and he began to grow weak. But suddenly his left found Murphy's jaw and then his right swing over for the first time. The round ended in a draw.

Another Cry of Foul.

The fifth started with a terrific exchange. Harris's wind was gone. He was getting wobbly and on the defensive. Murphy was fighting like a demon. Then Harris fell again, crying "Foul!"

Instantly two of his seconds were in the ring protesting to the referee. The house was in an uproar, "Give the decision to Murphy!" cried one crowd. "Give the decision to Harris!" cried the other faction. The referee shooed the seconds out of the ring and forced Harris to go on. That was Murphy's round.

Murphy leaped at Harris in the sixth. He seemed eager to finish it. He landed blow after blow and Harris clung to him in distress. At times he struck out, but all his steam was gone. All the way it was Murphy's round. Skill and pluck saved Harris.

In the seventh Harris came to life again. At the beginning he got the worst of the exchanges in the clinches, but he went after Murphy with his annoying jabs again. Murphy jarred him with a right to the head, but he came back with a terrific right to Murphy's stomach. Harris jabbed Murphy. When they came out of a clinch Murphy had a cut over the right eye. Harris's right eye was closed. It had been closing slowly for several seconds. The round was a draw.

The eighth round brought the thrilling climax. Murphy sent his left to the jaw and Harris landed two rights. They came together and clinched and fought around the ring. Then Murphy bored in again.

Murphy rushed in with his head down. As his gloves struck Harris he suddenly shot his head into Harris's face. Referee White promptly disqualified him, sending men to their corners.

Crowd Was Surprised.

The unexpected termination dazed the Murphy backers. It was some seconds before they recovered. They made a howl, but were quickly silenced. Referee White raised his hands and the noise subsided.

"Gentlemen, " said White, "I try to be fair, but I never saw a more deliberate foul, and my duty was plain."

Johnny Oliver jumped into the ring and protested to White, but his argument had no effect, and he finally led Murphy away. The crowd applauded both fighters. In his dressing-room Murphy made this explanation:

"He fouled me all through the fight. I never knew a fouler fighter. He gouged me, crushed my nose with his hand, and even bent back my fingers. And he butted me, too. That is how I got this cut over my eye."

The astute Kid McCoy made this characteristic explanation:

"Fouling may be all right if you can get away with it. Murphy got caught with the goods."

In the semi-windup Jack Robinson bested Dutch Zimmer. There were two other six round bouts. Bant Darcy defeated Joe Bedell, and Kid Eagan had a shade on Harry Phillips.

1907-06-04 The New York Times (New York, NY) (page 8)
1907-06-04 The Standard Union (Brooklyn, NY) (page 8)
Disqualified in Lively Contest with Harris for Fouling.

In a most unsatisfactory ten-round bout Harry Harris, the elongated boxer of Chicago, defeated Tommy Murphy, "the Pride of Harlem," in the eighth round on a foul before the National Sporting Club at Lyric Hall last night. Murphy was disqualified for using his head while in a clinch. Whether the foul was intentional or not the spectators could not decide, but Referee Johnny White declared that it was, and made the announcement from the ring. Up to this time Murphy had a commanding lead and looked as if he had the encounter well in hand. The fight was a vicious affair, in which many hard punches were exchanged. Murphy was the most prolific with his blows, ripping his man with telling effect in nearly every round save the seventh.

In this period Harris caught Murphy on the right eye with a left hook, inflicting a deep gash.

From the outset Murphy cut out the pace, slashing away at Harris' body and head. Murphy connected exceptionally well at close range, Harris being unable to avoid Murphy's jarring jolts to the jaw and chin. As they agreed to battle under straight Marquis of Queensbury rules, this was permissible under the code. In order to escape this punishment, Harris had to resort to clinching, and displayed some strength while in this position.

Murphy made a rushing scrap of it from the first round. He plied both hands with lightning-like rapidity. If the rules had been religiously observed, Harris should have been the loser in the fifth. In this round, after Murphy caught Harris a hard right in the wind which dropped Harry, the latter's seconds raised a cry of foul and rushed pellmell into the ring. The referee pushed them back. The combat was also delayed in the third, when Harris claimed that Murphy had caught him below the belt. The blow was a sort of glancing one, and Harris dropped into his chair, to all appearances in agony.

There is no question regarding Harris's gameness. He withstood enough grueling during the fight to subdue five ordinary men, the beating about the body and face that Murphy administered being especially severe. Murphy's soporific left hooks played havoc with Harry's countenance, so much so that when Harris retired to his dressing room his lips were considerably puffed and his visage was marked and bruised.

1907-06-04 The Washington Times (Washington, DC) (page 8)
Tommy Murphy, However, Put Up Far the Best Fight.

NEW YORK, June 4.--Tommy Murphy lost to Harry Harris on a foul in the eighth round last night at Tom O'Rourke's National Club, which holds forth at Lyric Hall.

The boys were to have boxed ten rounds, but after a very shameful exhibition on the side of both men the Harlem boy lost for butting his opponent with his head in a clinch.

For the real, active merits in the boxing line Murphy proved himself far the better man, but after being butted himself and choked with the elbow, he tried to even things up--and he lost out. Referee Johnny White, after the fight, announced that it was the most deliberate foul he had ever seen and as he was there to see fair play, he gave the fight to Harris.

Mr. White may mean well, but he didn't give Tommy a square deal on the rules or else we read the rules wrong.

In the fifth round Murphy hit Harris a bit low, and the latter claimed a foul. Mr. White decided that there was no foul, and then two of Harris' seconds jumped into the ring, ran across to their man and yelled wildly at the referee for allowing such a thing to pass his notice. Mr. White told them to get out, and ordered the boys to fight.

Tom Sharkey won over Jim Corbett the night Jim's seconds entered the arena after Jim was pretty well mussed up, but then they might have changed the rules since. Mr. White will have to enlighten us a bit on that affair.

Just before that in the third round, when Harris had one of his eyes closed, Murphy missed a low punch and Harry, seeing a chance to cop, walked to his corner with an expression of pain on his face. The referee let him rest half a minute or so and then ordered him to fight amid loud protests from the Harris men.

If Murphy fouled him Harris should have won. If Murphy did not foul him, why was Harris allowed a rest?

It is only fair to ask such questions, for the rules were stretched so far last night. Mr. White was right in ordering Harris to fight, however, as he was not hurt in the least and no punch landed on him. Quite a number of foxy fighters have won bouts this way, but then those at the ringside are not all blind, even though some up there last night were crazy enough to bet two and one-half to one that Murphy would win.

1907-06-05 The Denver Post (Denver, CO) (page 11)
Explains Alleged Fake Go
McDonald Wanted Murphy to Lay Down-Offered Him $3,000.
(By Tad.)

New York, June 5.--The suspicious circumstances surrounding the fight between Tommy Murphy and Harry Harris, in which the Harlem boy lost on a foul, before the National Sporting club, were explained today by Johnny Oliver, the manager of Murphy, who said: "last Friday a man known as McDonald, and a former newspaper man, came to me at the New Polo Athletic club and said: 'Oliver, will you take $3,000 to have Murphy lay down in his fight with Harris? Just let him put a bandage around his bad leg and when the time comes he can go down for the count.'

"I told him that we were not in that kind of business. McDonald did not explain to me anything about the details of the matter."

1907-06-05 The Evening World (New York, NY) (page 12)
To the safe and sane these things rise from the Harris-Murphy aftermath:

Tommy Murphy fouled Harry Harris, and was caught with the goods.

Harry Harris's seconds jumped into the ring and so disqualified Harris, according to the technical interpretation of the rules.


Any reasonable fight fan knows that all rules, all laws, are flexible to the application of common sense. Johnny White employed common sense. He knew that Harris's seconds were hysterical--he knew that the men who climbed into the ring were merely bottle-holders, and that Kid McCoy--the real second, the chief handler--had not violated the rules. He knew that a literal interpretation of the rule would mean that a dishonest second could finish any fight at any stage.
No matter how much Harris bruised Murphy in the clinches, no matter how foul Harris fought, the fact remains that Murphy's attempt at foul fighting was so flagrant the referee's duty was clear. Retaliation is no excuse for Murphy.

Oliver says he was offered $3,000 to lay down. He didn't take it. No man who saw the fight dare say that either man pulled. And no man of reason will condemn Johnny White for his part. It was a mighty fine thing that he was in the ring.

They are fighting around New York now. But if we have any more exhibitions of the Harris-Murphy sort it is likely that our fighting interests will once more take a train for Philadelphia.
  H. B.

1907-06-05 The Standard Union (Brooklyn, NY) (page 8)
Johnny Oliver, manager of Tommy Murphy, the "Pride of Harlem," who lost to Harry Harris on a foul at Tom O'Rourke's National Club Monday night, stated immediately after the bout that a man, whose name he gave, came up and offered him $3,000 if he would have Murphy lose to Harris.

There is heavy betting on all the bouts at the National Sporting Club.

Monday night Murphy was held favorite at 2½ and even 3 to 1. As fast as this price was offered by the admirers of the Harlem fighter it was taken in fifties and hundreds. Several of those near the ring held hundreds of dollars in cash, besides the thousands that were bet all over the hall, either in cash or "finger betting."

It was remarked that there never seemed to be a lack of Harris money, though the fight experts present gave him only an outside chance.

In the judgment of most of those present this opinion was vindicated, for Harris was badly beaten when Referee Johnny White gave the battle to Harris on a foul in the eighth round. Murphy was disqualified for butting Harris under the chin after Harris had butted him over the eye, opening a gash an inch long, from which the blood flowed down and blinded the Harlem man.

1907-06-05 The Washington Times (Washington, DC) (page 8)
Murphy-Harris Fight Has a Decidedly Bad Look.

NEW YORK, June 5.--Up and down Broadway yesterday there was nothing but talk of the Murphy-Harris fight. Some were for Harris straight, place, and show, while others took the Murphy end with its queer angles.

Just why the referee allowed Harris to butt Murphy and let it go on is still unanswered. Just why the referee allowed Harris' seconds to scamper about the ring in the fifth round and then chase them out without giving the fight to Murphy is still among the unanswered.

Johnny Oliver was the sorest man in town last night.

"I don't want to say that Murphy was double crossed," says Oliver, "but it certainly looks funny. When I refused the $3,000 offer which was made to me to have Tommy lay down, I thought we would get an even break, and the best man would win. Tommy did win by a mile, but he lost anyway. We should have won the fight twice on a foul, but when I made a kick to the referee, he wouldn't even listen to me."

One of the Harris' brokers last night at the Cadillac said that Murphy did everything but pull a knife on Harry in that fight. He said that Harris was getting better from the sixth on and Murphy, seeing no chance to knock him out, tried every dirty trick he knew.

To be fair to both sides, it was a very dirty exhibition after the sixth round. Harris used his elbow and tried to break Murphy's back over the ropes, butted him, and then got the same thing himself. If two professional pugilists can't engage in a bout without such tactics they should retire. There are plenty of clean fighters.
          Your baby is not your rock band   
So why do you think it's okay to give your baby a name designed to express your identity?

I'm not saying that parents are naming their kids "Sonic Grease Monkey" or anything. My point is that I get the feeling that a lot of baby naming is about the personal expression of the parents-to-be. Here they are, bringing this new autonomous human being into the world, and they mark it with vicarious intentions even before it's even born.

"I want(ed) to be totally unique, so I'll give my kid a totally unique name!"

The category that comes to most readily to mind are girl names drawn from the 19th century American Lit survey course: for girls, "Emerson," "Whitman," "Melville" and "Fenimore."

I was thinking if I had a baby girl, it would be kind of cool to name her "Pint o' Guinness Madison."

But you have to think ahead, to such situations as when she signs up for cable TV service by phone:
No, it's P-I-N-T space, small O, apostrophe. .... No, apostrophe, the punctuation mark. Like between the I and the M in "I'm".... no, that's just an example! ... actually, it's pronounced "pine-toe," not "pinto." No, the space is between the T and the O!!!
A related issue: naming your kid after a cognitive impairment (hat tip to Voxwoman for this one):

Alexia -- a neurologic disorder marked by loss of the ability to understand written or printed language, usually resulting from a brain lesion or a congenital defect.

          EPA Chief Met With Dow CEO Just Before Killing Effort to Ban Toxic Pesticide   
(COMMONDREAMS) — The Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head, Scott Pruitt, sparked outrage in March when he rejected his agency’s proposed ban on a pesticide shown to harm children’s brains. New reporting by the Associated Press Wednesday prompts further question about his decisions to ignore the EPA’s own science and then greenlight the Dow Chemical-manufactured […]
          Interactive periodic table finally clues us in to what elements are used for   

Looking at the periodic table, most of us have no issues identifying the use of certain elements. Sodium, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and others are no-brainers but what about the less talked about elements. Seriously, do you know what Vanadium is used for? How about Polonium? Of course you don’t. There are dozens of elements on the periodic table that only a handful of us could point to a use for. Luckily, Keith Enevoldsen has created this interactive periodic table that clues us in to just what elements like francium are used for. Each element shows a graphical representation of how its…

This story continues at The Next Web
          How To Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe   
I took me a little longer than it should have, but I finally finished reading Charles Yu's How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe.

Most of the reviews I've seen have focused on the humor and Yu's similarities to Douglas Adams. And while Adams is certainly in this book, I think a stronger influence might be Italo Calvino. A Calvino raised on a steady diet of Star Trek, Star Wars, Heinlein and X-Men comic books, but Calvino nonetheless. The following paragraphs from the book really sum up my thoughts on it:

Time travel was supposed to be fun, it was supposed to be about going to places and having a bunch of adventures. Not hovering over scenes from your own life as a detached observer. Not just lurching from moment to random moment, and never even learning about those moments. (401)

Get back in the box. Set it for home, present day. Go see your mom. Bring your dad. Have dinner, the three of you. Go find The Woman You Never Married and see if she might want to be The Woman You Are Going to Marry Someday. Step out of this box. Pop open the hatch. The forces within the chronohydraulic air lock will equalize. Step out into the world of time and risk and loss again. Move forward, into the empty plane. Find the book you wrote, and read it until the end, but don't turn the last page yet, keep stalling, see how long you can keep expanding the infinitely expandable moment. Enjoy the elastic present, which can accommodate as little or as much as you want to put in there. Stretch it out, live inside it. (459)

I read this as an Ebook through my Ipod touch. The book is filled with footnotes, diagrams and pictures that go along with the narrative. Now these aren't directly in the text, but presented to the reader as an optional hyperlink you can open by pressing with your finger. I've seen the footnote thing with non-fiction titles, but this is the first fiction title I've seen use the Ebook format in this way. Yu even takes an extra step by giving a link to a Youtube video demonstrating a brain experiment on how the human brain acts when it makes specific choices.

A small lightbulb went off in my little brain on how most of this isn't possible in your standard Ereader; it requires a tablet, cell phone or other web-ready device that can handle something more than B&W text and simple pictures. The whole experience reminded me a little of the web-based Hyperfiction texts you'd find at places like Alt-X in the mid to late 90's. It's kind of exciting and I'm really curious to see what a writer with a real formalist/expermentalist bent like Danielewski could do with a tool like an Ereader.


          Köpa Risperidone På Nätet :: Best Canadian Apotek   
Köpa Risperidone På Nätet Generisk Risperdal Om att få Risperdal USA. Risperdal (Risperidone) is an atypical antipsychotic. It works by affecting certain substances in the brain.Risperdal is a remarkable new treatment for schizophrenia & bipolar disorder from Janssen Pharmaceuticals. Gradering 4.7 stjärnor, baserat på 326 kund röster Pris från €1.23 Per piller Use this link […]
           Radio Frequency Coil and Pulse Sequence Design for Hyperpolarised Noble Gas MRI of the Human Lungs and Brain    
Rao, Madhwesha (2015) Radio Frequency Coil and Pulse Sequence Design for Hyperpolarised Noble Gas MRI of the Human Lungs and Brain. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.
          Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies   
I can't think of any other book people have asked me about at the library this summer more than Seth Grahame-Smith's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The idea is captivating---in a perverse stare-at-the-car-wreck-as-you-drive-by kind of way. I'm sure I'm being asked because I've become known as the horror guy at work, but this book has received a shocking level of press, both good and bad. And I have to say, it's not as bad as you might think, but it's also not as good as you might think.


The idea itself is pretty simple---use the story of Austen's classic novel as a foundation for a zombie horror tale. The familiar characters are all there: the annoying Bennets, strong-willed Elizabeth and even darkly mysterious Mr. Darcy. But zombies---and later ninjas----abound, crashing through windows, breaking down doors and eating plenty of brains. The characters have been played with a bit to accommodate this terrible world. Elizabeth isn't just a strong women---she, and all the women, are highly-trained zombie killers fast with the daggers. It works out to something oddly funny and cartoony, especially at moments when Zombies burst onto the scene right after a very Victorian conversation of manners and romance. It comes together as something you shake your head and laugh at. Not because you think it's riotously funny, but because you can't believe someone put this all together into a novel.


The idea of merging two very different forms is nothing new. Jonathan Lethem did it early in his career when he merged Raymond Chandler with Philip K Dick in Gun With Occasional Music. Kathy Acker did it with books like her Great Expectations by merging the Dicken's classic with pornography, poetry and horror. And of course William S. Burroughs based his whole career on it, by merging anything and everything he ever read----sci fi, westerns, high literature, gay porn---into everything he wrote. While I love all of these books, there's something missing for me with Grahame-Smith.

Part of it is a lack of writing mechanics. Grahame-Smith didn't just lift characters and scenery for his book, he lifted whole phrases, lines and even paragraphs from Austen's novel. Some of the reviews I've read refer to this style as a "literary-mashup", I guess giving a nod to those dj's who will spin two or more music tracks together so they'll line up and play off of each other. When it works it's a lot of fun, but when it doesn't work the missed beats and odd blends of melody make you cringe. This is much the same way. Grahame-Smith is pretty good with the dialogue, not surprising since it's already been put into development as a movie----but his descriptions lack the poetic flair Austen wrote with.

I also wanted more from the horror----more blood, more scares, more blood, more ham-fisted political commentary, more blood, more something to make this something stronger than just a satiric romp and yes, even more blood. That said, it's still a fun and fast read and if you go in with an open mind and fair-to-middlin' expectations you'll have fun with it.

If you end up liking it, I have good news. With Vampire Darcy's Desire, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Zombie Jim, there are A LOT of imitators coming up over the next year. If you don't like it, I have good news for you, too. This is sure to be a passing fad that will fade away in a couple of years----or even less. Just close your eyes as you walk by the displays in the bookstores and you'll be fine.


          New Thoughts on the Avant Garde   
I recently finished Tracy Daugherty's wonderful book Hiding Man: A Biography of Donald Barthelme. While I am still digging through my notes and marked passages, one particular quote of Don B keeps coming up:

the function of the advance to protect the main body, which translates as the status quo

At least for me, this is a different way of thinking about the avant garde side of arts. Blame my binary brain but I often think of the avant garde as an antagonistic force, a side of the arts that seeks to lay waste to everything that came before and define its age through a new style or new philosophy. A session on reading difficult writers I went to at this year's Balticon solidified it for me: when people around the room took turns announcing their favorite authors nearly everyone groaned when one brave man pledged his allegiance to Thomas Pynchon.

But this small line of Bartheleme's hints at more of a symbiosis. Constantly pulling on each other to go one way or another, the two sides need each other to define themselves. Even more, it's the avant garde that steps out to try new forms and new ideas, to take the blasts venomous criticism so more mainstream lit can (possibly) borrow and modify what they do years later.

As a writer who took chances by playing with the form but still managed to publish work in mainstream mags, I can't think of anyone else at a better vantage point than Barthelme to make a statement like this. While this idea is still very fresh in my head----and thus about as firmed up as a pile of silly putt----I'm hoping to mull on it for awhile and start seeing connections the more I read. We'll see.

I'll have more of a formal review of the bio later this week, after I finish going through my note. Until then....


          Vocal Tract Images Reveal Neural Representations of Sensorimotor Transformation During Speech Imitation   
<span class="paragraphSection"><div class="boxTitle">Abstract</div>Imitating speech necessitates the transformation from sensory targets to vocal tract motor output, yet little is known about the representational basis of this process in the human brain. Here, we address this question by using real-time MR imaging (rtMRI) of the vocal tract and functional MRI (fMRI) of the brain in a speech imitation paradigm. Participants trained on imitating a native vowel and a similar nonnative vowel that required lip rounding. Later, participants imitated these vowels and an untrained vowel pair during separate fMRI and rtMRI runs. Univariate fMRI analyses revealed that regions including left inferior frontal gyrus were more active during sensorimotor transformation (ST) and production of nonnative vowels, compared with native vowels; further, ST for nonnative vowels activated somatomotor cortex bilaterally, compared with ST of native vowels. Using test representational similarity analysis (RSA) models constructed from participants’ vocal tract images and from stimulus formant distances, we found that RSA searchlight analyses of fMRI data showed either type of model could be represented in somatomotor, temporal, cerebellar, and hippocampal neural activation patterns during ST. We thus provide the first evidence of widespread and robust cortical and subcortical neural representation of vocal tract and/or formant parameters, during prearticulatory ST.</span>
          Effects of Antenatal Maternal Depressive Symptoms and Socio-Economic Status on Neonatal Brain Development are Modulated by Genetic Risk   
<span class="paragraphSection"><div class="boxTitle">Abstract</div>This study included 168 and 85 mother–infant dyads from Asian and United States of America cohorts to examine whether a genomic profile risk score for major depressive disorder (GPRS<sub>MDD</sub>) moderates the association between antenatal maternal depressive symptoms (or socio-economic status, SES) and fetal neurodevelopment, and to identify candidate biological processes underlying such association. Both cohorts showed a significant interaction between antenatal maternal depressive symptoms and infant GPRS<sub>MDD</sub> on the right amygdala volume. The Asian cohort also showed such interaction on the right hippocampal volume and shape, thickness of the orbitofrontal and ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Likewise, a significant interaction between SES and infant GPRS<sub>MDD</sub> was on the right amygdala and hippocampal volumes and shapes. After controlling for each other, the interaction effect of antenatal maternal depressive symptoms and GPRS<sub>MDD</sub> was mainly shown on the right amygdala, while the interaction effect of SES and GPRS<sub>MDD</sub> was mainly shown on the right hippocampus. Bioinformatic analyses suggested neurotransmitter/neurotrophic signaling, SNAp REceptor complex, and glutamate receptor activity as common biological processes underlying the influence of antenatal maternal depressive symptoms on fetal cortico-limbic development. These findings suggest gene–environment interdependence in the fetal development of brain regions implicated in cognitive–emotional function. Candidate biological mechanisms involve a range of brain region-specific signaling pathways that converge on common processes of synaptic development.</span>
          Contour Integration over Time: Psychophysical and fMRI Evidence   
<span class="paragraphSection"><div class="boxTitle">Abstract</div>The brain integrates discrete but collinear stimuli to perceive global contours. Previous contour integration (CI) studies mainly focus on integration over space, and CI is attributed to either V1 long-range connections or contour processing in high-visual areas that top-down modulate V1 responses. Here, we show that CI also occurs over time in a design that minimizes the roles of V1 long-range interactions. We use tilted contours embedded in random orientation noise and moving horizontally behind a fixed vertical slit. Individual contour elements traveling up/down within the slit would be encoded over time by parallel, rather than aligned, V1 neurons. However, we find robust contour detection even when the slit permits only one viewable contour element. Similar to CI over space, CI over time also obeys the rule of collinearity. fMRI evidence shows that while CI over space engages visual areas as early as V1, CI over time mainly engages higher dorsal and ventral visual areas involved in shape processing, as well as posterior parietal regions involved in visual memory that can represent the orientation of temporally integrated contours. These results suggest at least partially dissociable mechanisms for implementing the Gestalt rule of continuity in CI over space and time.</span>
          Frequency-Selective Attention in Auditory Scenes Recruits Frequency Representations Throughout Human Superior Temporal Cortex   
<span class="paragraphSection"><div class="boxTitle">Abstract</div>A sound of interest may be tracked amid other salient sounds by focusing attention on its characteristic features including its frequency. Functional magnetic resonance imaging findings have indicated that frequency representations in human primary auditory cortex (AC) contribute to this feat. However, attentional modulations were examined at relatively low spatial and spectral resolutions, and frequency-selective contributions outside the primary AC could not be established. To address these issues, we compared blood oxygenation level–dependent (BOLD) responses in the superior temporal cortex of human listeners while they identified single frequencies versus listened selectively for various frequencies within a multifrequency scene. Using best-frequency mapping, we observed that the detailed spatial layout of attention-induced BOLD response enhancements in primary AC follows the tonotopy of stimulus-driven frequency representations—analogous to the “spotlight” of attention enhancing visuospatial representations in retinotopic visual cortex. Moreover, using an algorithm trained to discriminate stimulus-driven frequency representations, we could successfully decode the focus of frequency-selective attention from listeners' BOLD response patterns in nonprimary AC. Our results indicate that the human brain facilitates selective listening to a frequency of interest in a scene by reinforcing the fine-grained activity pattern throughout the entire superior temporal cortex that would be evoked if that frequency was present alone.</span>
          Repeated Structural Imaging Reveals Nonlinear Progression of Experience-Dependent Volume Changes in Human Motor Cortex   
<span class="paragraphSection"><div class="boxTitle">Abstract</div>Evidence for experience-dependent structural brain change in adult humans is accumulating. However, its time course is not well understood, as intervention studies typically consist of only 2 imaging sessions (before vs. after training). We acquired up to 18 structural magnetic resonance images over a 7-week period while 15 right-handed participants practiced left-hand writing and drawing. After 4 weeks, we observed increases in gray matter of both left and right primary motor cortices relative to a control group; 3 weeks later, these differences were no longer reliable. Time-series analyses revealed that gray matter in the primary motor cortices expanded during the first 4 weeks and then partially renormalized, in particular in the right hemisphere, despite continued practice and increasing task proficiency. Similar patterns of expansion followed by partial renormalization are also found in synaptogenesis, cortical map plasticity, and maturation, and may qualify as a general principle of structural plasticity. Research on human brain plasticity needs to encompass more than 2 measurement occasions to capture expansion and potential renormalization processes over time.</span>
           The contribution of gliovascular pathology to brain ageing: an epidemiological perspective    
Wharton, Stephen B (2013) The contribution of gliovascular pathology to brain ageing: an epidemiological perspective. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.
          The Dorsoventral Patterning of Human Forebrain Follows an Activation/Transformation Model   
<span class="paragraphSection"><div class="boxTitle">Abstract</div>The anteroposterior patterning of the central nervous system follows an activation/transformation model, which proposes that a prospective telencephalic fate will be activated by default during the neural induction stage, while this anterior fate could be transformed posteriorly according to caudalization morphogens. Although both extrinsic signals and intrinsic transcription factors have been implicated in dorsoventral (DV) specification of vertebrate telencephalon, the DV patterning model remains elusive. This is especially true in human considering its evolutionary trait and uniqueness of gene regulatory networks during neural induction. Here, we point to a model that human forebrain DV patterning also follows an activation/transformation paradigm. Human neuroectoderm (NE) will activate a forebrain dorsal fate automatically and this default anterior dorsal fate does not depend on Wnts activation or Pax6 expression. Forced expression of Pax6 in human NE hinders its ventralization even under sonic hedgehog (Shh) treatment, suggesting that the ventral fate is repressed by dorsal genes. Genetic manipulation of Nkx2.1, a key gene for forebrain ventral progenitors, shows that Nkx2.1 is neither necessary nor sufficient for Shh-driven ventralization. We thus propose that Shh represses dorsal genes of human NE and subsequently transforms the primitively activated dorsal fate ventrally in a repression release manner.</span>
          Cortical Thickness of Functionally Defined Visual Areas in Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder   
<span class="paragraphSection"><div class="boxTitle">Abstract</div>Patients with schizophrenia show specific abnormalities in visual perception, and patients with bipolar disorder may have related perceptual deficits. During tasks that highlight perceptual dysfunction, patients with schizophrenia show abnormal activity in visual brain areas, including the lateral occipital complex (LOC) and early retinotopic cortex. It is unclear whether the anatomical structure of those visual areas is atypical in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. In members of those two patient groups and healthy controls, we localized LOC and early retinotopic cortex individually for each participant using functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), then measured the thickness of those regions of interest using structural MRI scans. In both regions, patients with schizophrenia had the thinnest cortex, controls had the thickest cortex, and bipolar patients had intermediate cortical thickness. A control region, motor cortex, did not show this pattern of group differences. The thickness of each visual region of interest was significantly correlated with performance on a visual object masking task, but only in schizophrenia patients. These findings suggest an anatomical substrate for visual processing abnormalities that have been found with both neural and behavioral measures in schizophrenia and other severe mental illnesses.</span>
          Sex Differences in White Matter Microstructure in the Human Brain Predominantly Reflect Differences in Sex Hormone Exposure   
<span class="paragraphSection"><div class="boxTitle">Abstract</div>Sex differences have been described regarding several aspects of human brain morphology; however, the exact biological mechanisms underlying these differences remain unclear in humans. Women with the complete androgen insensitivity syndrome (CAIS), who lack androgen action in the presence of a 46,XY karyotype, offer the unique opportunity to study isolated effects of sex hormones and sex chromosomes on human neural sexual differentiation. In the present study, we used diffusion tensor imaging to investigate white matter (WM) microstructure in 46,XY women with CAIS (<span style="font-style:italic;">n</span> = 20), 46,XY comparison men (<span style="font-style:italic;">n</span> = 30), and 46,XX comparison women (<span style="font-style:italic;">n</span> = 30). Widespread sex differences in fractional anisotropy (FA), with higher FA in comparison men than in comparison women, were observed. Women with CAIS showed female-typical FA throughout extended WM regions, predominantly due to female-typical radial diffusivity. These findings indicate a predominant role of sex hormones in the sexual differentiation of WM microstructure, although sex chromosome genes and/or masculinizing androgen effects not mediated by the androgen receptor might also play a role.</span>
          Lateral Thalamic Eminence: A Novel Origin for mGluR1/Lot Cells   
<span class="paragraphSection"><div class="boxTitle">Abstract</div>A unique population of cells, called “lot cells,” circumscribes the path of the lateral olfactory tract (LOT) in the rodent brain and acts to restrict its position at the lateral margin of the telencephalon. Lot cells were believed to originate in the dorsal pallium (DP). We show that <span style="font-style:italic;">Lhx2</span> null mice that lack a DP show a significant increase in the number of mGluR1/lot cells in the piriform cortex, indicating a non-DP origin of these cells. Since lot cells present common developmental features with Cajal–Retzius (CR) cells, we analyzed <span style="font-style:italic;">Wnt3a-</span> and <span style="font-style:italic;">Dbx1-</span>reporter mouse lines and found that mGluR1/lot cells are not generated in the cortical hem, ventral pallium, or septum, the best characterized sources of CR cells. Finally, we identified a novel origin for the lot cells by combining in utero electroporation assays and histochemical characterization. We show that mGluR1/lot cells are specifically generated in the lateral thalamic eminence and that they express mitral cell markers, although a minority of them express ΔNp73 instead. We conclude that most mGluR1/lot cells are prospective mitral cells migrating to the accessory olfactory bulb (OB), whereas mGluR1<sup>+</sup>, ΔNp73<sup>+</sup> cells are CR cells that migrate through the LOT to the piriform cortex and the OB.</span>
           Investigating the mechanisms directing oligodendrocyte precursor cell (OPC) development in the zebrafish hindbrain    
boyd, Penelope (2014) Investigating the mechanisms directing oligodendrocyte precursor cell (OPC) development in the zebrafish hindbrain. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.
          Learned Value Shapes Responses to Objects in Frontal and Ventral Stream Networks in Macaque Monkeys   
<span class="paragraphSection"><div class="boxTitle">Abstract</div>We have an incomplete picture of how the brain links object representations to reward value, and how this information is stored and later retrieved. The orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), medial frontal cortex (MFC), and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC), together with the amygdala, are thought to play key roles in these processes. There is an apparent discrepancy, however, regarding frontal areas thought to encode value in macaque monkeys versus humans. To address this issue, we used fMRI in macaque monkeys to localize brain areas encoding recently learned image values. Each week, monkeys learned to associate images of novel objects with a high or low probability of water reward. Areas responding to the value of recently learned reward-predictive images included MFC area 10 m/32, VLPFC area 12, and inferior temporal visual cortex (IT). The amygdala and OFC, each thought to be involved in value encoding, showed little such effect. Instead, these 2 areas primarily responded to visual stimulation and reward receipt, respectively. Strong image value encoding in monkey MFC compared with OFC is surprising, but agrees with results from human imaging studies. Our findings demonstrate the importance of VLPFC, MFC, and IT in representing the values of recently learned visual images.</span>
          Modulation of Functional Connectivity in Auditory–Motor Networks in Musicians Compared with Nonmusicians   
<span class="paragraphSection"><div class="boxTitle">Abstract</div>Correlation of spontaneous fluctuations at rest between anatomically distinct brain areas are proposed to reflect the profile of individual a priori cognitive biases, coded as synaptic efficacies in cortical networks. Here, we investigate functional connectivity at rest (rs-FC) in musicians and nonmusicians to test for differences in auditory, motor, and audiomotor connectivity. As expected, musicians had stronger rs-FC between the right auditory cortex (AC) and the right ventral premotor cortex than nonmusicians, and this stronger rs-FC was greater in musicians with more years of practice. We also found reduced rs-FC between the motor areas that control both hands in musicians compared with nonmusicians, which was more evident in the musicians whose instrument required bimanual coordination and as a function of hours of practice. Finally, we replicated previous morphometric data to show an increased volume in the right AC in musicians, which was greater in those with earlier musical training, and that this anatomic feature was in turn related to greater rs-FC between auditory and motor systems. These results show that functional coupling within the motor system and between motor and auditory areas is modulated as a function of musical training, suggesting a link between anatomic and functional brain features.</span>
          The Addiction-Related Protein ANKK1 is Differentially Expressed During the Cell Cycle in Neural Precursors   
<span class="paragraphSection"><div class="boxTitle">Abstract</div><span style="font-style:italic;">Taq</span>IA is a polymorphism associated with addictions and dopamine-related traits. It is located in the ankyrin repeat and kinase domain containing 1 gene (<span style="font-style:italic;">ANKK1</span>) nearby the gene for the dopamine D2 receptor (D2R). Since ANKK1 function is unknown, <span style="font-style:italic;">Taq</span>IA-associated traits have been explained only by differences in D2R. Here we report <span style="font-style:italic;">ANKK1</span> studies in mouse and human brain using quantitative real-time PCR, Western blot, immunohistochemistry, and flow cytometry. <span style="font-style:italic;">ANKK1</span> mRNA and protein isoforms vary along neurodevelopment in the human and mouse brain. In mouse adult brain ANKK1 is located in astrocytes, nuclei of postmitotic neurons and neural precursors from neurogenic niches. In both embryos and adults, nuclei of neural precursors show significant variation of ANKK1 intensity. We demonstrate a correlation between ANKK1 and the cell cycle. Cell synchronization experiments showed a significant increment of ANKK1-kinase in mitotic cells while ANKK1-kinase overexpression affects G1 and M phase that were found to be modulated by <span style="font-style:italic;">ANKK1</span> alleles and apomorphine treatment. Furthermore, during embryonic neurogenesis ANKK1 was expressed in slow-dividing neuroblasts and rapidly dividing precursors which are mitotic cells. These results suggest a role of ANKK1 during the cell cycle in neural precursors thus providing biological support to brain structure involvement in the <span style="font-style:italic;">Taq</span>IA-associated phenotypes.</span>
          The Life-changing Magic of Maybe Not Being a Complete Jackass 100% of the Time   
I am trying. My brain SO wants me to be depressed. And hey look, I’m not totally unreasonable. We compromised: be depressed and lousy at everything for awhile, ruminate and wallow a bit, sleep too much and sort things into bins labeled “reasons to worry” and “reasons to give up” and “minutia you might like […]
          How to help a child who says “I’m bored”   
It doesn’t happen a lot, but when the boys complain that they are bored I nod and say yeah, it’s okay to feel that way. The discomfort of boredom is just the feeling that your brain is casting around for something to hook onto. Don’t rush to grab the first flashy thing just to end […]
          It's a Tie? It's a Tie!   
I actually never considered this would happen.

See, I told planning.

But it has happened. And now I must make a decision.

There is a tie between two of the cuppy flavors.

Do I choose?

Do I make both?

Do I declare a re-vote to break the tie??

Oh nelly, it's too much for my 7 am brain.

Well, since this is my last week of freedom before I head back to the work force I think I'll be adventurous.

I can take the heat.

It's decided.

This week I will make both Caramel Chocolate Pretzel AND Eclair Cupcakes!!

Ooooh, I can feel the excitement! I can't wait to get baking!

See you back here in a few days!
          دانلود Peak – Brain Training 2.8.7 برنامه پرورش و تمرین مغز اندروید   
Peak – Brain Training یک برنامه خود بهسازی شخصی جالب از استودیوی Peaklabs به جهت تمرین و پرورش مغز با رابط بصری ساده و زیبا برای شماست که به طور خاص برای کمک به شما جهت بهبود حافظه، تمرکز، حل مشکل، چابکی روح و مهارت های زبان، با بازی های سرگرم کننده و چالش برانگیز، رسیدن به اهداف و ایجاد عادات سالم آموزش طراحی شده است – همه دارای پشتوانه تحقیقات علمی و آموزشی. با 15 بازی ارائه دهنده مشکلات انطباقی و پویا، چالش های منحصر به فرد، تمرینات شخصی و اهداف روزانه، Peak مهارت های مغز شما را در بالاترین درجه می رساند . Peak به شما کمک می کند با بررسی در عمق عملکرد، تجزیه و تحلیل و آمار هوشمندتر بیاموزید .
I am sitting here trying to type, and my squirrel wants to play. Do any of you know how hard it is to type with something like that chasing your fingers? I think I would fry her little brain if I could type with more than two fingers
          Spearhead - Combat Overhaul review by 56er   
The mod itself is nice, but very unbalanced. Playing Allies is a no-brainer with near indestructible IS-2 Tanks and Shermans that bounce of Ap Ammo from PvIV Ausf. J, Infantry that lack the firepower and skills compared to their allied counterparts. Shame, really.
          click the nightmare   
'twas the nightmare before Cat-mas
and all through my brain
was a sound of loud whirring
chills ran through my veins
I tried to stay calm
but I needed to kill it
the search for my victim
it was such a thrill trip
but then what to my little eyes did appear?
a large pterodactyl
with big teeth and red eyes and a growling stomach
I closed my eyes & hissed in fear
opened them up and found mommy holding me near

she killed the big bird, I know she did :)

          School Performance, Brain Tumors, W-Sitting - PediaCast 340   
Join Dr Mike in the PediaCast Studio for a Zika Virus update and more News Parents Can Use. This week we consider how parental depression, bed time, and text messaging affect school grades. Dr Jonathan Finlay and Dr Scott Coven stop by to discuss brain tumors, and we answer a listener question regarding the associations and possible dangers of “W-Sitting.” Be sure to tune in!
          Vending Machines, Video Games, Schoolyards - PediaCast 294   
Join Dr Mike in the PediaCast Studio for more news parents can use. Topics include premature babies & brain growth, healthy snacks & vending machines, video games - good news & bad news, schoolyards & stress relief… and lacrosse injuries.

The Persimmon Series, Book 3
by Cass Alexander

Genre: New Adult, Romantic Comedy

Morgan Pottinger is counting the days until graduation. Her plans are to leave small town Kentucky and never look back. As she starts her senior year at Persimmon College, she finds herself the object of Nate Stevenson’s affections. Despite her spaz-like tendencies, Nate makes it clear he wants her. Morgan cannot resist the sexy, intelligent guy that keeps her on her toes and ties her up in knots.

There’s just one problem. Morgan needs to break up with her hometown boyfriend before pursuing anything with Nate. A series of catastrophes back home continuously interfere with her attempts to end the relationship. At this rate, she’ll be married to the loser by March and Nate will be just another casualty in the disaster that is her life. Lucky for Morgan, Nate’s much smarter than she is.

I look at my watch. It’s almost midnight. I check my phone for the hundredth time, wondering why Morgan hasn’t texted me.

I assume she’s trying to finish up her essay, but I had hoped she’d at least acknowledge my two texts.

We didn’t have much contact this week, with her being in Planters Grove. It brought about a dimness to my days, not seeing her. I didn’t like it.

She did reach out and let me know that Alex was going to lose his arm. I feel bad for the guy. Not bad enough to let go of Morgan, but I’m not made of stone.

I get the feeling she’s trying to avoid me. I assume, with the removal of his appendage, she was unable to have a frank talk with him about their relationship. And I get it. I won’t push her on it. But I need to figure out how to help her through this process.

I take another sip of beer, only half listening to the conversation taking place in my room. We just finished up some games of Euchre. Now that my mind’s not focusing on cards, it’s obsessing about the little brown-eyed vixen living across the street.

I thought about knocking on her window, but realized she might need space to process. I’ll give her until tomorrow before I seek her out, assuming she still doesn’t return my text.

I pull out my phone to text her once more, to say goodnight, when I hear the familiar lilt of her voice coming from the hallway. It causes the neurons along my brain-gut axis to start going nuts. Will there ever be a time when she doesn’t give me such a primitive reaction?

Morgan appears in the doorway and flashes a big, goofy grin. You don’t have to be a genius to see that she’s been drinking. It’s cute.

“Hey, y’all!” she says to the group. Her usual subtle Southern drawl is especially twangy tonight. I think drinking brings out the Kentuckian in her.

“Hey, Morgan,” Penny responds. Nugget, one of our pledges, waves.

“Everybody out,” I command as I get out of my chair and put my beer on the coffee table.

“What? Why?” Nugget protests.

I glare at him. I’m not angry, I simply want to communicate through intimidation that his little ass needs to vacate my room immediately.

He looks over at Morgan, then back at me and shakes his head. Then he makes a huge mistake.

“Bros before hoes, Stevenson.”

I step towards him, ready to grab him by the shirt and toss him out the damn window. No one will refer to Morgan as a ho in my presence, even as a joke. I hesitate when I hear her snicker.

“Ah, Nugget,” she says, “God wasted a perfectly good asshole when he put teeth in your mouth.”

A fierce swell of laughter overtakes the room, from everyone but Nugget. I can’t help it. That might be the most superior affront I’ve ever heard. In fact, it may have just saved his little ass from a long drop to the ground.

AmazonAmazon Int'lB&N  Kobo  iTunes  Goodreads

Cass Alexander is the pen name of a Southern born and bred public school teacher. Her brother, who insists she address him as, The Prince of Darkness, gave her the nom de plume after warning her that her book’s content may scar her sons for life.

She’s a connoisseur of fine humor, hilarious insults, and all things chocolate, preferably dark (like her humor). Oh, and wine. Let’s not forget the wine. Cass also enjoys running. It’s become crucial to her survival, due to her consumption of wine and chocolate.

Cass’s mission in life is to spread the love and the laughter, goodness knows it’s needed. It’s why she wrote The Persimmon Series.

She and her family now reside in the Midwest, where hardly anyone other than Cass says the words, y’all and holler.

          Batteries, Music, Autism - PediaCast 213   
This week on PediaCast… Join Dr Mike in the studio as we cover News Parents Can Use. Topics include The Wishing Tree Project, battery-related emergency department visits, video games, cerebral palsy, music therapy, baby brain development, schoolyards, autism, and compulsory physical education. All this plus pay-to-play sports policies keeping kids off the team… And could school-based health clinics replace the doctor’s office?
          The house(s) at the end of the street   
The haunted house is both an exotic and familiar location - most of us tend not to see ourselves as 'living' there (unless by accident), but we know it when we see it. We may outwardly turn away, but inwardly feel an irresistible call to walk in its preternatural pathways. The haunted house is the figurehead of uncanny domestic architecture; a building that is 'not quite' (or out and out) 'not right' amidst the fulcrum of civilisation. Its uncanniness stems from its subversion of 'right', because homes should be safe, ordered places; we see homes all the time, they follow patterns, they should conform. Empty houses should be temporary inbetwixt states - they are not designed to be uninhabited. They need the living, the social, the normal to fulfil their purpose and function.

Our home is the outermost layer, the visual beacon, of our daily lives. But homes emerge from houses, and houses are seldom limited to one single occupant. Here in lies the raison d'etre of the haunted house: we create our homes from the homes of others. And just as we can be territorial about our claimed personal spaces, so too can the dead. Films about haunted houses circle around and recontextualise this problem of ownership to varying degrees, and often the stake of the dead, or other supernatural forces, cannot be placated in order to allow the living to truly move in - think Poltergeist, The Amityville Horror, The Haunting, The Woman in Black, even, in some respects, The Fall of the House of Usher. The idea that houses are tainted by, or bound to, past events is a useful tool for weaving together contemporary and historical narratives

I've been reflecting on haunted houses (more than usual) since spending an enchanting day of intellectual nourishment courtesy of The Alchemical Landscape conference organised by friends James and Evie. I've always been fascinated by haunted houses generally, but my imagination has often suckled inspiration from ruins and historical buildings, the haunted locale of the grandiose other. And then, quite unexpectedly, I found myself retracting the steps I would often take on my way to school, and thought of the house I passed there. The house reputed to be haunted.

There were not ghost stories as such attributed to this house, but it provided an uncanny fracture in an otherwise ordinary row of middle class suburban semi-detached and detached households. The house was un-tenanted because its previous owner had died, but the possessions of said owner still held court; you could see the tops of armchairs through the bottom of first floor windows. I knew this was somehow wrong, that it was in an inbetwixt state that suggested livedness and yet was not employed by the living. There is something deliciously sinister about furniture abandoned in houses, one of the most powerful representations - in my mind - of the inbetwixt and in-between.

In much of suburbia houses do not decay, they are kept in a constant flux of kemptness by the upkeep of their proprietors. One evening, a small group of childhood friends and I snuck around the back of this house after dark, and the sense of having entered into the uncanny was both frightening and delicious. No one lived there, but our presence was still an intrusion. Nevermind knowledge of the law, something deeper resonated that we were entering a space we should not be. We weren't the kind to push such trespass so left as quickly as we arrived, and yet a quiet part of me wanted desperately to stay and go further, to open the door and plunge into this strange portal. I was overwhelmed by my proximity to something mysterious, something that transcended the humdrum of a life I was already a little frustrated with.

I realise now my perceived sense of the house's ghostliness was its connectedness to neglect, and because it was a visual image of what comes after a demise, when there is not definitive end. This was lingering, a half life, a waiting. As is often the way, in areas that are reasonably affluent, and therefore desirable locations, the house was resurrected a few years later, the uncanny dissolved by a renovation and the reintroduction of living owners. I don't think I've been past there for well over a decade now. I don't think I'd recognise the site of it even I did go back, though it is only a minute or so from my parent's home.

The street that house stands on is still haunted though, albeit for an entirely different reason. You see, I walked past that house most days because I joined up with a friend who lived at the other end of the street. From there we'd brave the jitty (a small pathway linking that street to the back of a small church on a street at the other end), another liminal zone bordered by a wooden fence and trees that momentarily cut one off from the civilised comfort of being in proximity to other people's homes. Once in the clear, it was on to school and the dirge of adolescent education. The millennium ended and I left my home town for university... but such was not the course for my friend. L, who I had known since we were 7 or 8, was dead by the time she was 16, dead from a rare disease that had got into her brain after a bout of measles in early childhood, that had waited patiently, a quiet passenger until it finally killed her.

L's death was my first experiences of one that went against the natural order of things. Her parents, emptied by their loss, would wander vacantly, until a few years later their elder daughter had her first child and revived them. I raged against the Christian theology perpetuated by some of my peers and popular culture, for there was no argument that could satisfy as to why such a nice, innocent girl had been denied the rest of her life. 

I can see myself in her house, when we were young. The memories are almost sensuous, and the sound of her voice is like the tail end of an echo at the end of a cave. I'm not quite sure how to capture that sense of revisiting a place that no longer exists, and yet remains at the back of our minds. Perhaps it is like that abandoned furniture, sitting quietly and changeless. Eventually, the fabric warps and dusts smear the shines of surfaces, but something of its original incarnation remains.

These memories have a sense of haunting about them, of being caught momentarily in a time out of time, transported, giving two fingers up to the laws of linear time. There are of course feelings attached now to these memories; feelings of guilt because I was going to visit her in hospital when she was in a coma, but a mutual friend called me after I'd returned from a short trip away, and she was gone. I've wondered if I'd been as good a friend to her as I should have been - we were not particularly close at that point, as we had quite different personalities and had drifted into different social groups.

I have had two memorable dreams about L, both during my PhD research into spirit mediumship. In the first dream, it was very bright, and we were sitting in a field of green grass and flowers. She was serene, and looked a little older. "Its good to see you," I think I said. The second was similar, only I had boarded a bus and gone up to the top floor where she sat and looked out of the window. I was delighted to find her there, and went to sit with her, and we talked for a little while. Again, she had an ethereal air, and seemed content. I have friends whose spiritual beliefs would suggest that such dreams mean I have travelled to the spirit world to visit her. I like that explanation, although of course that doesn't make it true.

Increasingly, as I know understand life to be something punctured by the death, I see that our relation to the ghostly can become more and more intimate, as we are deposed from the armchair explorer whose curiosity and wonder can be put to one side. There are plenty of hauntings to explore like that, tantalising and numinous, wraiths and bogles and ladies in white who hover in and out of the everyday leaving questions and awe in their midst. But there are hauntings that become interwoven so tightly into our inner worlds, that we can not walk on past and leave them behind. L's house, in my mind, is as it was in the late 80s and 90s, and she and her family during this time will be its first, its last and its only occupiers. It won't age, though its clarity may fade, and I choose to go there, just from time to time, because though this all happened many years ago, it happened, and I remember.


          Brilliant brain Brawn bows out at Mercedes   
Ross Brawn is to leave Mercedes F1 at the end of the year. tags: All_SportsbowsbrainBrawnBrilliantF1_World_ChampionshipJenson_ButtonBrilliant brain Brawn bows out at Mercedes

by A.P. Hallmark

Genre: Romance

April Sanders is beautiful and educated. She’s also a chauffeur. Her elite client list is quite extensive, and Jason Rowe is one of them.

From the moment he lays eyes on her, he tries to gain her attention, but unlike the other women he’s encountered, she isn’t impressed. Imagine his surprise when he learns she’s been hired to drive exclusively for the family.

Remaining the dedicated professional, April rejects Jason’s advances. That is until she receives the approval of the family matriarch. Her life will never be the same.

When a business deal goes sour between Jason and a competitive business associate, April gets caught in the crossfire. After a series of suspicious and ominous incidents threaten the Rowes’ inner circle, Jason’s possessive and protective nature knows no bounds where Ms. Sanders is concerned.

The Rowe’s are powerful and have powerful connections. When a member of the family is wounded, there’s no stopping the force behind them.

“Listen, Kyle, she’s beautiful, okay? But there can’t be anything between us. She’s an employee, and we come from different worlds.”

“You’re right. You come from the silver spoon variety. April comes from the salt of the earth kind that uses her college degree for the betterment of society by teaching underprivileged children and adults at the center three weekends a month, and after work, if she has the spare time.”

“What? What did you say?”

“For some reason, she likes to drive snobs around and be treated like pond scum, like the guy she was working for before she came to us.”

“What do you mean? Did he treat her badly?”

“Emily says that guy felt her up any chance he got until Sam threatened him,” he explains, leaning against the workbench. “But that didn’t last very long, and he was back at it about two weeks later.”

Again with this, Sam!” I say to myself.

“According to Emily, he’s a total Adonis.” I stop pacing long enough to see him use the air quotes.
“What’s so funny now?”

“You should hear what she calls you.” He bends over in a full belly-laugh, and now I’m really pissed.

“What?” I ask, rolling my eyes, taking his bait. “What does she call me?”

“Oh, no. Emily swore me to secrecy. But I will tell you it was given to you the day she took you and Kate to the airport.” His hand smacks the counter before he bends over in laughter again.

“You better fucking tell me, Kyle.”

“I gotta go. I promised Emily a phone call tonight.”

He starts to leave but stops at the door, turns to me and bursts out laughing again.

The day she took me to the airport? What could it be? I was a perfect gentleman. While I’m racking my brain, trying to figure out what it could be, I hear a ruckus from the backyard. Someone is shouting outside.

Spending a few minutes in the quiet garage, I head out toward the pool and see Kyle hanging out over his balcony. He’s wearing one of Nicole’s wigs, and I can’t help but laugh at how ridiculous he looks.

Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?

What’s he doing quoting Shakespeare?

What's in a name? That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet.

“What the fuck are you doing, Kyle?”

Oh, Romeo, Romeo,” he says again before he goes into the house—laughing, of course.

I shake my head at his antics, and then it hits me like a load of bricks.

“Romeo? She calls me Romeo?”

I run up the stairs with the sole purpose of clobbering my brother when I pass my giggling mother on the landing.

“This is going to be fun,” she says.

I stop in my tracks and turn toward her. “What did you just say, Mother?”

She shuts her bedroom door behind her, and I hear her laughter as well as Kyle’s. I barge into his room, where he’s literally rolling on the floor laughing his ass off.

Mom, Romeo hit me!” 

A.P. Hallmark resides in Reno, Nevada, near her youngest daughter and four grandchildren. A paralegal in real life, she started her love of reading at the young age of fifteen, beginning with her first Harlequin Romance … and Fabio.

Her male characters are strong and possessive, her women are strong and feminine. With two powerful lead characters, her stories are filled with adventure, romance, and sometimes their will to be the last one standing gives her readers a fun ride.

Facebook ✯ Amazon ✯ Goodreads ✯ Twitter ✯ Instagram

          Amateurs Enjoying Brainless Homemade Fucking   
Watch Amateurs Enjoying Brainless Homemade Fucking at - best free online XXXPorn videos for you to enjoy.
          Busty Hottie Ruri Saijo Masturbates In Hospital During Brain Surgery Of Her Beloved One   
Watch Busty Hottie Ruri Saijo Masturbates In Hospital During Brain Surgery Of Her Beloved One at - best free online XXXPorn videos for you to enjoy.
          Das HBDI-Denkstil-Instrument    
Das Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI™) ist ein weltweit eingesetztes Potentialanalyse-Tool für Einzelpersonen und Teams. Es identifiziert den bevorzugten Denkstil-Ansatz von Menschen z.B. hinsichtlich des analytischen, intuitiven, strukturellen und emotionalen Denkens.
Das HBDI™ ist das Ergebnis von jahrzehnterlanger Forschung und Anwendung. Es wurde in den 70er und 80er Jahren des vorigen Jahrhunderts durch Ned Herrmann in den USA entwickelt, der viele Erkenntnisse des Gehirnforschers und Nobelpreisträgers, Roger Sperry, hat einfließen lassen.
Für über zwei Millionen Menschen weltweit ist bereits eine HBDI™ Analyse erstellt worden, sei es im privaten oder beruflichen Kontext. Eine Besonderheit des HBDI™: es bietet als Skalierungsmodell auf 4 Stufen eine ganze Reihe von Anwendungen. Die wichtigste ist die Identifizierung von Denkstilpräferenzen.
Und so funktioniert das HBDI:
Das HBDI™ ist in erster Linie ein praktikables, einfaches und physiologisch orientiertes Analyse-Instrument. Es identifiziert und misst die Ausprägung von Denkstilen des Menschen in vier Präferenzbereichen. Diese beziehen sich auf die cerebralen Hemisphären und das limbische System des Gehirns. Nebenbei: Damit berücksichtigte das HBDI schon längst wesentliche Erkenntnisse der heutigen Gehirnforschung, die dem limbischen System eine zentrale Funktion zuweist.
Mit Hilfe eines Fragebogens (120 Fragen) wird die Individualität des Menschen hinsichtlich seiner Denkstile erfasst. Das Resultat ist ein spezielles Profil, das aus vier Quadranten besteht, das den Ausprägungsgrad der Präferenzen in den einzelnen Quadranten zeigt.

Die Ergebnisse sind wertfrei. Es gibt auch kein richtig oder falsch. Da es sich um eine Selbstanalyse handelt, zeigt sich für die meisten Menschen mit dem HBDI-Profil ein authentisches Abbild ihrer Denk-Persönlichkeit.

Das HBDI™-Profil-Paket beinhaltet a) ein zweiseitiges farbiges Einzelprofil und b) eine umfangreiche erklärende Broschüre. Das Profil und die dazugehörigen Ergebnisse werden im Detail erläutert.

Ich setze das HBDI bereits seit vielen Jahren
* in der individuellen Stärken-Analyse,
* in Selbstkompetenz-Seminaren,
* in der Karriereentwicklung,
* und im Job-Coaching
sehr gerne ein. Beeindruckt bin ich immer wieder von der Einfachheit des Instruments und der hohen Treffgenauigkeit der Ergebnisse in der Beschreibung der individuellen Persönlichkeit.

Erstellung von HBDI-Profilen:
* Einzelprofile (einschl. Fragebogen und umfangreiche Auswertung)
* Profilerstellung für Unternehmen/Institutionen auf Anfrage

Sie möchten ein individuelles HBDI-Profil erstellen lassen oder als Unternehmen mehrere Profile bzw. ein Teamprofil? Für Ihre Bestellung nehmen Sie bitte Kontakt mit mir auf oder schauen sich erst genauere Informationen auf meiner Webseite an.


Das Ausfüllen des Fragebogens dauert ca. 20 – 30 Minuten. Bitte den Fragebogen vollständig ausfüllen.
Bevor Sie den Fragebogen ausdrucken, ausfüllen und an meine Firmenadresse weiterleiten, senden Sie mir zunächst einen Bestellauftrag zu. Auswertungen erfolgen grundsätzlich nur nach Vorauskasse.

Hier können Sie sich die Printversion des HBDI-Fragebogens herunterladen


Der HBDI-Fragebogen kann auch online ausgefüllt werden. Wenn Sie diese Variante wählen möchten, nehmen Sie bitte Kontakt mit mir auf. Die entsprechende Internetadresse und die notwendige Zugangskennung teile ich Ihnen nach Bestellung dann mit.

Preise für die Auswertungen:
Einzelprofil normal: 130,00 € (einschl. Versand)
Für Unternehmen/Institutionen: Preis auf Anfrage

Ausgefüllten Print-Fragebogen bitte per Post an folgende Adresse senden:
PATRICK HAAS | memo-lab
beratung | coaching | training
Barbaraweg 1 B
D-54470 Bernkastel-Kues

Das HBDI ist kein Test, sondern ein Selbstbeschreibungsverfahren.
Ausgewertet wird der Fragebogen nur durch lizenzierte Trainer/Berater.
Ich selbst bin entsprechend zertifiziert

          This Was The First Random-assignment Clinical Study On The Effects Of The Transcendental Meditation Technique On Brain Functioning And Stress Reactivity In College Students.!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d3505.858789001656!2d-81.42730568492009!3d28.513895982464724!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x88e77be22586fc65%3A0x9325eb46b7b09b!2sThe+First+Academy!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sin!4v1492572664011

Contrary to popular belief, these kinds of fail their exams or don't do as well as they could. How you approach the essay and what contents you produce in personalization characterized by big, downtown firms, without their extravagant prices. Expect Incremental Change Students whose lateness is primarily due to college courses that gives you a better, well rounded college education. Even though others are likely to buy the products, Nike pays specific emphatic targeting to the athlete more than any group the projected winner, the projected average score and the chance of upset.

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          Blog Post: No Game Is Perfect -- TWA Comes Close   

Thomas Was Alone is an indie puzzle-platformer created by Mike Bithell in which you assume the roles of multiple AI entities who, due to an accident within the server where they exist, have become self-aware. It’s a short little adventure, clocking in around four to five hours at best, but it’s definitely worth your money and time should you get the opportunity to grab it. All of the elements of TWA come together in such a way to create a very unique experience that I think should be enjoyed by veterans and casuals alike.  The game starts you out controlling Thomas, a small AI represented by a small, red rectangle--He has just become aware of his existence and immediately starts asking questions about the world around him as you start to move through the environment. He meets other AIs, each vastly different than the other, that join him and continue to progress “up and to the right.” Chris--for example--is a small, orange square with an irritated personality and the ability to fit through tight spaces. Or take Claire--A large, blue square that believes she is a superhero due to her unique ability to float in water. Going deeper into the game’s story would be a mistake, as it does have quite a good one. Rest assured--It’s well worth your time to uncover.

And don’t worry--You’ll have a lot of fun uncovering it. The story of the game is intriguing, but so is the gameplay itself. The game is divided into one-hundred small levels where the goal is to get the AIs to their individual “portals” in order to progress. Certain stages only have you controlling one AI, but most have you controlling multiple. You can only control one AI at a time, switching between them using L1 and R1. Using the character’s different shapes and abilities, you must have them help each other out in order to get each AI to its portal. Every member of the gang has to be touching their specific portal at the same time in order to progress, which leads to a few good brainteasers. Emphasis on *good* brain *teasers*. TWA is not a hard game by any stretch of the imagination. It makes you think, but not too much. While some may yearn for a greater challenge, I think this was a good call on the developer’s part. Because you don’t get stuck for but a few minutes at a time (if at all), the game retains a constant, steady flow all the way through. These elements assure the heavily interesting story does not get brought to an abrupt halt. In those couple moments where you do have to think for more than a few minutes, you start to feel the strong desire to get to those next sweet lines of narration. 

Yes--Narration. All the AIs talk, think, and dream, but they’re never actually caught saying a word. The entire game, from start to finish, is narrated by Danny Wallace, a British comedian not well known in the States. Mr. Wallace does an absolutely phenomenal job bringing them to life as he lets you in on the thoughts, aspirations, and fears of the entities. It’s like listening to a bedtime story being told while you actually act it out yourself. This narration is a huge part of the game--Part of what makes it so unique, charming, and all-around great. This is because of the fact that, as previously mentioned, all the characters are simply colored quadrilaterals. They don’t even have true animations for movement--They simply slide along the screen. The narrator, brings these characters to life, however. You love them almost as soon as they’re introduced and want nothing more than to learn about them further. This proves that a good character doesn’t always have to do with how realistic they look--Deeper implications would suggest that who a person is has absolutely nothing to do with their appearance.

And to accompany the sultry voice of Mr. Wallace, you get to listen to a wonderful soundtrack composed by a certain David Housden. The composer doesn’t really have much of a track record, but he got nominated for a BAFTA for this particular work. He manages to blend a mix of immersive and light electronic with smooth and vibrant strings--It’s awesome. The soundtrack combined with the charming narration is simply an experience in and of itself. 

No review seems complete without a little criticism, though, TWA makes it difficult to do that. An engaging story? Lovable characters? Phenomenal narration? A beautiful soundtrack? Even the controls are snappy and responsive--Totally up to snuff with platforming standards. And the visuals? Though the characters are simply colorful shapes, the environments themselves are heavily pleasing to the eye. Straight lines and pulsating backgrounds give off a sort of minimalistic charm that is simply a joy to look at. I’m not saying TWA is a perfect game (no game really is), but it’s pretty spectacular. It may be on the short side, but that’s more a “flaw of opinion” than anything else. I think the game's length helps it accomplish its goal, in a sense. It comes into your life, lets you have some fun for a brief time, and then leaves you with the bittersweet taste of a powerful story in your mouth to think over and ponder--I find no fault with that. 


じゃあ ね.



          Blog Post: Thomas Was Alone [PC]   

The Following Is Actually a Review of the PC Game Version.


It is immediately clear that Thomas Was Alone is an indie game from the moment you boot it up. I mean, come on, short of Super Hexagon, who makes their 'characters' moving shapes? Regardless, it's this indie charm that ultimately manages to pull you into the game no matter how tentative you may be about playing it initially. A la Terry Cavanagh fashion, it's mainly the writing of the game, or what little direction it may give, that really makes this work. Even the simplest mechanics are memorable when you have a semi-talented writer to back them up. Thomas Was Alone wouldn't be a memorable platforming game if it weren't for it's sound effects, artistic visuals, and minimalistic representation however.

The game was successful and/or popular enough to warrant a transition to both the PS3 and Vita, which should be releasing here in a little under a week's time thanks to Sony's partnership with independent developers worldwide. Mike Bithell is the talented soul behind the game, and thanks to several other people, such as a narrator and others, the little gem shines brightly. The story is interestingly about the development of the first artificial intelligence in the world, self-aware AI anyway, and consists of some unique monologues held by the cast of rectangular quadrilateral and colored objects taking center stage in this minimalistic adventure.

Thomas, a red little square, is the main character so to speak, and from the outset you gradually gain more rectangular companions to aid you in your adventure, each with a special ability of their own. Some act as trampolines while others can float on liquids and water, and still others can create stairsteps to bridge gaps. Combining these basics of experimentation together, you get a pleasant challenge as the levels fly by, and a fairly complex platformer/puzzler with the routine goal being to successfully get each of your shape-friends into the end of level portal in order to proceed. One of the more amusing aspects of this is each quadrilateral's 'conscious' or reaction to events occurring around their newfound intelligent being. One can only hope that the game holds up just as well once it makes its way to Sony's platforms- console, and handheld. I would hope the HD makeover does it justice.

The game's mechanics themselves are not too terribly hard to get the hang of, but gradually, as you progress ever so slightly, more mechanics are offered up and add to the difficulty factor just a bit- forcing you to juggle multiple tasks and 'people' at one time. Perception filtering, gravity switches, and color changing paints and properties are just the beginning. Sure, the game is relatively short- but then again, so was Portal, and it's hard to keep the brain actively engaged in a  puzzle for more than a few hours anyway without things growing stale, so the time limit is right at about where it should be. The amounts of amusing comments and novel moments in such a short game would rival those in significantly longer ones, and with it coming from simple objects, it's all the more appreciated. Sure, it encounters tedium at points, with precision and accuracy that might make you throw a mouse or flip the bird, but the overall pacing is spot on. Towards the end, your curiosity is further aroused, and you'll like where things inevitably end up.

As beautifully minimalistic as the gameplay and design itself is, just wait until you hear the soundtrack that accompanies it. The spacy chiptune and piano score is superb, and definitely one of the game's highlights if I do say so myself. There is honestly nothing simplistic about this game, looks aside, or even indie development aside- it is actually a complex sojourn that should grab your attention and force you to try to wrap your mind around every step of the way. The score only serves to instill the need to do just that even more so.

Unlike most "big-time" titles developed by large teams, Thomas Was Alone never really overuses just one mechanic or overjustifies one motive or design idea. Instead, each level is slightly different, instead of playing through fifteen similar ones in a row, as many developers would have forced you to do in a game $50 more expensive and several repetitive hours longer. The $9.00 price tag for this high quality, low income game is well worth it, and you'll soon see exactly why. It may all seem to be "friendship and happiness and rainbows and sparkles", but unlike My Little Pony, Thomas Was Alone exudes a deeper meaning, which can be interpreted many different ways, and also a flamboyant confidence of sorts via reverse psychology in its chosen minimalistic design. The upbeat design of co-op, the dear rectangles, and the wit make this a trip worth taking most definitely.

Concept: Create an endearing yet simplistic and somehow complex adventure.

Graphics: With the minimalistic design captured, the graphics are perfectly acceptable, with no issues whatsoever.

Sound: The soundtrack is awesome.

Playability: The jumping feels sweet, and the puzzle mechanics are well worth your effort and time.

Entertainment: The witty and almost satirical story is neat, and the monologues are subjective and amusing.

Replay Value: Moderate

Overall Score: 8.75

          E-Rated Video Game Finally Courts Controversy   
If you try hard enough you can find a reason to be offended in just about anything. Just ask a group of ignorant suburbanites at a Harry Potter book burning or the zero-tolerance school administration that suspends a kid for hugging a fellow student. But you'll never have to search too hard to find some trembling parent complaining to the media about a video game that ruined their child's innocence. Even for a wholly innocuous game like Portal 2.Amidst the game's brainy strategy and hardcore violence on par with Super Mario Kart one parent was pretty outraged over one character's ...
          brainTivity Inc. is an educational entertainment service providing games to increase brain fitness.
          Tomorrow has come...   

"Tomorrow has come like it's drunk on the blood of the men who have dared to be there."
-Jakob Dylan - Valley of the Low Sun.

A string of perhaps 60 headlamps were already reaching up the side of Everest. The Indian Army had gotten out ahead of me. We would have to deal with this through the night. Mingma introduced me to the young Sherpa who would be carrying my extra bottle of oxygen up to the South Summit. We would climb as a trio, spelling one another in the lead as we clawed upward. My Khumbu cough had gotten bad enough to bring on back spasms. I launched into an episode as we stood there next to my tent. My Sherpas waited patiently, then helped on with my pack. It was going to be a slow start for me. I could feel it. At age 50 I was no longer able to bounce up and hit it. My body needed to be put on notice, reminded, then coaxed along for the first hour. 

We started off easy, passing a few climbers here and there as we found our rhythm. I tinkered with my harness, pack, and oxygen system until it all felt right. The half moon set a light glow to the snow. The stars were brilliant and vast. Soon the wind fell off to almost nothing and the only sounds were those of our respirators and the bite of crampons into ice. We caught up to a slow line of eight climbers and left the fixed line to pass them. Then we eased out around another ten climbers as the route entered a particularly steep section of the Triangle Face. We were cooking now. My legs felt solid and the rest of my body seemed to have come to the party. There were groups of four, groups of eight, and a few pairs. Somewhere along the way we passed Ty, though I was not aware of it at the time.  

We reached the Balcony a short while after a large team had arrived there. It was about 10:30pm and the moon had swung around the other side of Everest. The mountain’s silhouette against the stars was the only way to tell what kind of climb was above. It looked astoundingly tall and steep. We changed oxygen tanks quickly, getting back out on the route ahead of the group, and settled in behind a solo climber working his way up the long demanding pitch to the South Summit. He fatigued after forty minutes and waved us by. At this point I looked up the mountain and, noting no headlamps, realized we were all alone. We were the highest humans on the planet, and would remain so for the next several hours. Something inside me relaxed for the first time that night. I took a moment to look up at the stars. I could almost feel their light touching me. I found myself smiling. "Wow," I wondered aloud from behind my mask. I took a moment to admire Mingma’s climbing ability, as he free-handed his way up a rock cliff before us. I thought about my loved ones and all the people who had believed in me. Tears began to come, but I held them back. There was still plenty of hard work ahead. 

In spite of the bottled oxygen, the effects of altitude eventually crept in as we labored higher. My right foot was going numb with cold, so I turned up the electric foot warmer for that boot.   Our pace became more difficult to maintain. I was stopping to breath hard now, unable to keep a continuous cadence. The South Summit had disappeared somewhere in the stars and seemed to be running away from me. I felt a moment of doubt creep in. 

There are 5 deceased members of our Family that Lin and I refer to as our Angels. We believe each spends time by my side during critical moments of any climb. I paused for a rest and touched on each of these in my thoughts. The doubts slipped away. An hour later we crawled up over a rock ledge and Mingma announced “This is South Summit.” 

We took off our packs to rest, and I got out my thermos of hot tea to share while Mingma and his Assistant changed my oxygen tank. We took a brief break to eat and drink, then set out again. Even in the darkness I could recognize we were on the Cornice Traverse. I was trying to recall the order of what landmarks were still ahead, but my brain just could not manage the task so I abandoned the effort. “We are working on this project all night,” I told myself, trying to release the urge to measure our progress and simply exist in the moment.  Then Mingma stopped before a series of large boulders and gestured like a Tour Guide “This is the Hillary Step. Very famous.” Even in my addled state I knew the Hillary Step and what it meant. Mingma then scampered up and over the landmark with the agility of a Romanian gymnast. I stood there a moment, remembering where he had placed his feet, how he had used his hands. “You can’t just muscle this thing,” I told myself, “You’ll blow out your arms and never see the summit.” This was rock climbing again. I started up the first rock the same way I had seen Mingma scale it, but had to modify for our differing reach. My crampons wanted to screech down the surface of the icy round boulders, so I created a wedge-like force with one hand braced out to the side.  I took my time with each hand a foot placement, testing for surety before weighting it. Mingma looked down from above, shouting encouragements as I advanced. I had read about a rock at the top of the step that Climbers must cowboy-straddle to get over. There is a crack to the right that looks like an inviting alternative for foot placement, but a Climber will almost always find his boot becomes wedged in it. This is quickly followed by flailing and exhaustion. When I came to this rock I knew what I must do, but executing was another matter. To straddle the rock I would have to commit fully with a belly flop onto it and hope I did not slide off backwards. My form ended up being more “beached Manatee” than cowboy straddle, but I made it.  A few moves later I was above the Hillary Step. 

At this point I remembered my good friend, Phil Drowley, telling me how he began laughing when he got past the Hillary Step. He knew he would summit at that point. I started to weep. My goggles had frozen over several hours earlier, so I was climbing without eye protection. The tears froze immediately to my face and eye lids, leaving my left eye partially frozen shut. I knew I was taking a chance by climbing without eye cover, I had read about Climbers freezing their corneas, but felt I had no choice when it came to navigating the technical aspects of the upper mountain. 

We climbed for another twenty minutes up a gradual snow slope, passing several cornices along the way. Then I saw a pile of prayer flags. Mingma insisted that I clip into a safety line that led up to them. We took those last ten steps together, like Hillary and Norgay, then Mingma invited me to sit down on the highest point of planet earth. “This is summit,” he announced warmly. It was 3:43 a.m. on May 20th. The sun would not come up for another hour and by then the summit would be crowded with other climbers. But for now we had the pinnacle to ourselves. I looked off into the darkness at lights below and far away. The stars were a bowl that wrapped around us from above. On one side Everest fell out across all of Tibet, still fast asleep.  On the other side it stretched down into Nepal. 

We took several photos of the Sherpa that had carried my extra oxygen. It was his first Everest Summit. Then Mingma snapped some pictures of me as I held up images of family members and a banner for The Boys & Girls Club. In those short moments of wearing only a liner glove, my right index and middle fingers began to freeze. I knew how quickly digits could be lost on Everest, so I cut short other plans for celebrating the summit and concluded by releasing a small quantity of my Brother’s ashes. I had hoped to make a call home from the top of Everest, but my cell phone showed no signal. In all we spent 20 minutes at the Summit, and while I did feel the weight of the moment I could not sense its measure. I was simply too exhausted. It was like being paid in a currency you do not understand; Only when it is spent completely will you know its full worth. I promised myself to spend this moment wisely. 
My moment.

          My Brother's Keeper and the Dragon chase.   
The South Col, looking up Everest.

The IMG game plan for summit day had been articulated to each of us ahead of time.  At each instance it was also made clear that any exceptions to that plan would indeed have to be exceptional. What would happen, and how, had been worked out over many years of Everest expeditions, many successful years, and the tinkering was done. 

Climbers would leave the South Col in three waves; 7pm, 8pm, and 9pm. Central to this staging was the intent to avoid any large crowds, especially "The Indian Army." The Indian Army was a very large team composed of personnel from the Indian Military.  They climbed together in a slow pack that was often impossible to pass.  Though they were polite Mountaineers and willing allowed themselves to be overtaken by faster climbers, circumstances rarely afforded a stretch long enough to do so safely.  The IMG 7pm Team was composed of the slower Classic Climbers. It was our hope this would get them out ahead of the Indian Army, which was believed to be leaving later in the evening. The 8pm Classic Climber group was the solid core of the Classics, and the 9pm Classic launch was a select group of the four fastest IMG Climbers. 

Each Climber would leave the South Col with a fresh bottle of oxygen, then stow that bottle at the Balcony, exchanging for a fresh bottle. Those, like myself, who had opted to purchase an additional bottle would change out again at the South Summit. We were to each climb at our own pace, accompanied by our Sherpa, as our ability, health, and oxygen permitted. This is a critical point. Just above the South Col, a Climber enters "the death zone." At this altitude, by any medical definition one likes, a Climber is dying. He may be dying slowly. He may be dying quickly. But he is dying. Therefore, it goes without saying that every effort should be made to limit one's stay in the death zone. Waiting for other Climbers, climbing in pairs, or lingering for that sunrise summit photo are strictly discouraged. You get up and down as quickly as possible. Period. 

As the acclimation rotations passed in the prior weeks, it had become clear to me that Ty and I had very different climbing paces. He was strong, as always, but my preparation had focused on speed. This typically saw me arriving back at camp one to two hours ahead of Ty. Add an extra bottle of oxygen to that and I could be expected to spend three to four hours less in the death zone than Ty on summit day. I could no more ask Ty to speed up than he could ask me to slow down. Either choice would incur unnecessary additional risks. I tried to get out ahead of this by announcing we would not be able to summit together, explaining the pace issue to Ty and Lin, who then passed it along to Ty's wife. 

Ty's wife is my younger sister, Noelle. She, more than anyone, shouldered the heaviest load of stress, having both her husband and brother on this climb. To offer some measure of comfort, Ty and I each pledged, as we had done on past climbs, to look after one another. This made every bit of sense on those prior climbs since we were self-guided; no personal Sherpa, no Western Guide, no medical staff and radios to base camp. But on this climb, with very different circumstances to consider, an insistence on climbing side by side would increase each of our personal risks. I spoke with our Guides and Expedition Leader, Greg Vernovage, about this and they concurred that Ty and I should climb separately at our own pace. In any case, as soon as we were placed in separate launch times for summit day the issue was settled; Ty would leave at 7pm, myself at 8pm.

Most stories about Everest end at the summit. It is a convenient point of closure. Yet it is widely understood that most accidents/deaths occur during the descent. There is little question fatigue plays a huge role in this. As well, mental acuity suffers during descent as a climber relaxes, having accomplished his goal. But more serious still is the fact that a Climber, by reaching into the altitudes of the South Summit and higher, awakens a physiological Dragon within himself. This Dragon, breathing the fatal threats of HACE, HAPE, and other sudden illnesses, will then chase that Climber all the way down to Camp 1. It is for this reason IMG insists that a Climber returning from the death zone to the South Col rest there for not more than 90 minutes before then continuing to descend. In spite of everything a Climber has been through, the Guides, Sherpas, and staff of IMG insist that he continue down all the way to camp 2 that same day. It is a grueling, but necessary,  demand. 

Consider Roger. One of the strongest Classic Climbers on our team, Roger arrived at EBC having taken 3 months off to nothing but climb and live at high altitude prior to the expedition. Confident and fit, he evoked images of Robert Duvall's character in Apocalypse Now.  After successfully summiting Everest with our 8pm wave of Classic Climbers, Roger returned to the South Col feeling tired but healthy. In the 90 minutes that followed he contracted HAPE and his lungs began to fill with fluid. As the staff there treated him, he lapsed into HACE with fluid starting to fill his brain. In a matter of moments he went from being a strong, healthy man who had never taken anything stronger than aspirin, to then forcing down Niphedipine, Dexamethesone, and Diamox. He continued descending with help, yet still had to be medivaced out by helicopter a few days later. The Dragon had caught him. 

So that was the plan. Leave the South Col, tag the summit, then run like hell for lower elevation. Here is what happened...

          Go time.   

A cup of coffee. A cup of patience.

May 12, 2013
Rest Day at EBC

I set out this morning to visit a friend at the Jagged Globe camp on the other side of EBC.  Along the way I found my progress bogged down by a film crew which in turn was bogged down by an elderly man making slow progress just ahead of them. I told myself to just accept the pace and enjoy the sunny morning, but the man in front was going sooooooooo slow that I just had to pass. Easing onto a narrow shoulder on the right, I skipped past the crew offering various greetings and apologies. But the space on the right disappeared just as I was about to overtake the man. Leaping awkwardly, I managed to get in front of him while only modestly cutting the man off. At this point I heard a voice shout “Cut” and I looked back to recognize David Breshears in the film crew and Reinhold Messner as the man I had just passed. 

The word around EBC is that two Hollywood movies are being filmed here. One is a reenactment of the 1996 Everest Tragedy, the other tells the tale of George Mallory’s fatal Everest attempt. I cannot substantiate either of these rumors. There is a third, and possibly related, rumor that actor Tom Cruise will be arriving here on May 20 to either 1. film a series of scenes for one of these features. 2. open a Church of Scientology outpost. Or 3. both of the above. No one talks much about the Reinhold Messner feature, which we know to be in production since he long ago insulted most of us by claiming that climbing Everest with the aid of anything more than aspirin is “cheating”. Our cat-like indifference toward him is an expression of our contempt, which we maintain until such time he actually walks into a camp and the occupants set about boot-licking shamelessly. 

It snowed last night, degrading conditions for our Team 1 departure from EBC. The launch was scratched at 3:00 a.m. and everyone went back to bed. After today’s sunny weather that snow will have settled considerably making it possible to reschedule the start of our first summit attempt tonight. If all goes well this team will summit on May 17. At this point Ty and I are still on Team 2, scheduled for a May 16 departure from EBC and a May 20 summit target. That is only four days from now, but most of us are already going a little crazy with all the idle time on our hands. Each morning we throw rocks down onto the frozen glacial pond in the center of our camp. Sometimes there is an arbitrary target. More recently we do not even bother with that. We are throwing rocks at ice and something about that creates a soothing sensation in our brains. By late afternoon the ice melts enough for all the rocks to sink through to the bottom. The pond refreezes overnight, and we start the next day with a clean unblemished ice surface. 

At night we gather in the movie tent with the Sherpas to watch a feature film. Though there is an external heater for this tent, it is so woefully inadequate that we usually do not bother to fire it up.  Bundled in parkas, our breath visible in the projector light, we settle in like chicks in a nest. Last night we watched The 300, the grizzly tale of 300 Spartan Fighters who stood up against the invading forces of may thousands of Persians. The dismemberment was on a scale that could make the first ten minutes of Saving Private Ryan look like an after school special. It was a real crowd pleaser, especially among the Sherpa who do not see much of that kind of thing this far up the valley. Regrets abound. 

It seems like so very long ago that i left home. Spring has happened without me. There have been Birthdays and Holidays. Appliances have broken and been repaired. The tabs have expired on my car. Now the pull of home starts to exert considerable gravity. I miss my family, my work, my town. But for the next two weeks I must do all I can to push that back and focus on what I came here for. There will be many years to enjoy those things that make up a comfortable life. But how I manage my mental game in the days ahead will determine whether that life will include a summit photo on Everest. 

May 13, 2013
Rest Day EBC

The best possible news! The weather window we have been targeting for a May 20 summit has taken shape with the jet stream now migrating to the north of Everest. This has both broadened the window and improved the quality of it. The peak of Everest should see very low winds for the period of May 17-24. Such a generous window should allow teams to make their summit bids in an orderly fashion, as opposed to last year when most of EBC tried to shoe-horn into just 2 days. Our team leaders have spoken with other expeditions to get a feel for when they will be sending their climbers up, so we may avoid the crowds, and decided to move our Team 2 summit bid up to May 19. We leave EBC in 2 days. This will be my last post until returning from the summit. 
If all goes according to plan, I should reach the summit of Everest at 5:00 a.m. on May 19 (give or take an hour). That would translate into about 6:00 p.m. PST on May 18 (Bellingham date and time). 
There is a group of 6 U.S. Air Force climbers that are part of our Team 2 Summit Group. Among the various cool technologies they bring with them is a GPS tracker that will post their progress up Everest in real time. As I am typically on pace with these climbers Readers may find it interesting to follow along at 
A special thanks to those of you who have written in comments of encouragement and positive wishes. I feel as though we are climbing this mountain together!
A big shout out to my friends at Meridian Middle School!
My love and thanks to Lin, Trevor, Chase, Mom, Jack, and Don for your support, understanding, and belief in me. 

          Indianapolis Sues Carmel Over 96th Street Roundabouts   
The Indianapolis Star reports:
Indianapolis has filed a lawsuit to prevent Carmel from building several roundabouts  along 96th on the cities' shared border.  
The argument started when Indianapolis City-County Councilwoman Christine Scales refused to sign an agreement to allow Carmel to build roundabouts at the intersections with Hazel Dell Parkway, Gray Road, Delegates Row and Randall Drive. As the district
representative, Indianapolis followed her lead.  
After he couldn't get Scales to change her mind, Mayor Jim Brainard in March told IndyStar he would build the roundabouts regardless of whether Indianapolis agreed to the plans. 
Indianapolis filed the lawsuit this month, arguing Carmel has no authority to buy right of way or do roadwork in Indianapolis city limits without permission. Boone County Judge Matthew Kincaid will hear the case to avoid a conflict of interest with Marion or Hamilton county judges. 
The article goes on to quote Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard that under state law Carmel has the authority to maintain roads on its southern border.  It is not clear that provision though would include construction of a completely new intersection which involves crossing over into another city to do so.

The article also quotes Councilor Scales who notes the opposition of business owners to the project.

I've long said that the construction of roundabouts is the best thing Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard has done in office.  I used to work in Carmel pre-roundabouts and traffic congestion was horrible.  Not so any more.  But drive in Carmel today and it appears that a few well-placed roundabouts has given way to an obsession.   You can hardly drive in Carmel today without encountering scores of roundabouts, many of which are on lightly traveled roads where a stop sign might be more appropriate.  On the other end, there are extremely busy intersections in which a stoplight would be better.   Indianapolis should have the right to say "no" to the Carmel's obsession with roundabouts.
          Carmel Mayor Crashes City Vehicle...Again   
The Indianapolis Star reports:
[Carmel} Mayor Jim Brainard crashed his city-provided 2017 Ford Fusion hybrid into another motorist last month, IndyStar has learned. 
No one was injured or cited in the crash, although the driver of the vehicle Brainard hit faces a charge for driving without a license. 
Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard
Brainard was driving northbound on 3rd Avenue SW around 2 p.m. April 20 when he crossed the center line along the curve north of Carmel Drive, according to the Carmel Police Department report. Jose Guzman Uribe, 36, Indianapolis, was driving southbound in a 2006 Chevy Silverado hauling a trailer for his lawn-mowing business. Brainard crashed into the trailer. 
The mayor told police he was feeling fatigued before he crossed the center line, according to the report. 
[Carmel Spokeswoman Nancy Heck] said city employees are required to submit to a drug and alcohol screen in crashes while driving city vehicles, if there is injury or a vehicle was towed. Brainard's car was towed, but Heck said elected officials are exempt from the rule. She said the responding officer can choose to administer a test if he or she feels it's warranted. Lt. Joe Bickel, Carmel Police Department's public information officer, said it is up to the officer at the scene to decide whether to conduct a sobriety test or cite a motorist involved in a crash. In this case, the officer didn't think either was warranted.

It's not Brainard's first crash in a city-provided vehicle. In November 2002, he T-boned a school bus in a 2002 Mercury Mountaineer, while attempting to turn left on 99th Street to Westfield Boulevard. No one was injured, but both vehicles were damaged.
I have questions. First, why did it take more than a month for this accident to be publicly reported? Usually, newspapers monitor public records but maybe it was just missed.  Second, while I take the police at their word that there was no cause for a sobriety test, the fact is Brainard admitted crossing the center line which is plenty of cause to be ticketed for that offense.

By the way, the article also detail the shockingly high cost of the leased vehicle Brainard wrecked, an angle that is worthy of its own story.
          Carmel and Indianapolis Go Round and Round About Roundabouts   
The Indianapolis Star reports:
An Indianapolis City-County councilwoman is trying to stop Carmel from building several roundabouts along the border between the two cities. 
Christine Scales has refused to sign an interlocal agreement to allow Carmel to build roundabouts at 96th Street's intersections with Hazel Dell Parkway, Gray Road, Delegates Row and Randall Drive. As the local district representative, Indianapolis is following her lead. 
Scales doesn't think traffic is congested enough along the corridor to warrant the roundabouts, and she is concerned that area businesses will lose customers if they are
Carmel Roundabout at 126th Street and Keystone (
built. She thinks motorists are more likely to shop on the commercial corridor if they have time to look around while waiting at traffic signals. 
Her stance has led to a clash with Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard that was highlighted in an email exchange between the two obtained by IndyStar. 
"My opinion, which is shared by many, is that while (roundabouts) may serve well in some locations, it doesn't mean they serve well as replacements for each and every stop sign or light," Scales wrote in an email to Brainard. "The existence of 100 roundabouts (and counting) in a city the size of Carmel is a lot of roundabouts."
I have said before that the creation of roundabouts by Mayor Brainard has been the best thing he did in office. Prior to the roundabouts traffic flow in and around Carmel was dreadful. However, after two recent trips to Carmel, I find myself agreeing with Councilor Scales. It seemed like every Carmel intersection I drove through had a roundabout, including ones that would have been much better served with traditional traffic devices.

Meanwhile Mayor Brainard indicates he may try to proceed with the roundabouts anyway, despite opposition by Scales and the City of Indianapolis. The Star article continues:
Brainard thinks he can build the roundabouts without Indianapolis' permission because state law places Carmel in control of improvements on its southern border. Carmel also isn't asking for any help from Indianapolis with funding. 
Scales, though, said Indianapolis officials disagree that he can move forward without an interlocal agreement and will fight him if he tries.
Brainard hopes to convince Scales and Indianapolis to sign on. But he says he'll find a way to build the roundabouts regardless. 
"If necessary," he wrote in an email to Scales obtained by IndyStar, "we would simply move the roundabouts a few feet north."

          Counting linear lambda terms   
Just a little something with which I’ve been idly occupying spare brain cycles lately… read on for an interesting puzzle. Warm up: counting lambda terms Consider a stripped-down version of Haskell’s type system with only natural numbers, polymorphism, functions, and … Continue reading
          Spotlight Saturday: ONLY SKEIN DEEP Excerpt    
by Maggie Sefton

For today's Spotlight, I'm posting a scene from the new Kelly Flynn Mystery which will be out this coming Tuesday, June 6th.  In this scene, Kelly is recounting a memory for teenager Cassie.

A funny memory tickled the back of Kelly’s mind.  She decided to share it since it would make Cassie laugh.  “You know, several of us played on coed volleyball teams a few years ago.  Megan and I were both playing on one team.  And Steve and Marty were playing on another coed team.”
“That sounds like fun,” Cassie said, as she continued to wind the yellow yarn. 
More memories surged forward, and Kelly grinned.  “That was during a weird time when Steve and I were not talking to each other, not going out together, either.  In fact, we didn’t see each other at all.  Whenever I’d go over to see Megan and Marty, Lisa and Greg, and Jennifer and Pete, Steve wasn’t there.  And the reverse would happen whenever Steve went to visit them.  I wouldn’t be there.”
The yarn winder stopped turning immediately.  Cassie turned in her chair, instead.  What!  Why?”
Kelly laughed.  “Like I said it was a weird time.  I’d said something to Steve that he didn’t like, and he got mad.  I came back to the cottage where we were both living together, and Steve had moved out completely.  His clothes were gone, everything.  Even his toothbrush.”  Kelly shook her head, thinking back now over the incident that caused their breakup.
Cassie stared back at Kelly, her eyes wide, clearly incredulous at what she was hearing.  “I can’t believe that.  What did you say?”
Kelly let out a sigh, realizing she would have to explain more for the story to make sense to Cassie.  “Well, let me back up some and try to explain.  The Recession had hit Northern Colorado like it did everywhere in the country, and builders and developers either shut down their housing developments or slowed them to a crawl.  Some builders went out of business completely.    No one was buying houses.  Steve was hanging on by his fingernails.  Everything he’d worked so hard for was slipping through his fingers, and he couldn’t stop it.  He’d even had to sell his properties in Old Town. Anyway, one night we’d come from being with the Gang and Marty and Megan announced they were going to get married.  Later, when Steve and I were back at the cottage, he suddenly, out of the blue, asked me if I wanted to get married, too.”
     Cassie was listening attentively, Kelly noticed.  And, Dee Dee was looking over at them from across the room where she was checking buttons.  Even Rosa, glanced over from her spot behind the front counter. 
     “You said ‘yes,’ didn’t you?” Cassie demanded.
     “Well. . .” Kelly started, wondering how to begin.
     “No, she didn’t!” Mimi’s voice interjected.  The smiling shop owner had suddenly appeared from around the corridor where she’d obviously been listening.
     Cassie blinked, clearly astonished.  What!
     “Well. . .” Kelly tried again.  “I didn’t really say anything at first.  I was so shocked that he even asked I just stared at him.  Then, I blurted out something like, ‘Steve!  You’ve barely holding on, and you want to get married?’”
     Cassie’s blue eyes got even wider.  “Oh, no. . .” she whispered.
     “You didn’t,” Dee Dee ventured, looking as surprised as Cassie.
     “Yeah, I did,” Kelly confessed.  “And I could tell from the look on his face that I’d said the wrong thing.  The very worst thing.  I could see that Steve was looking for reassurance.  Everything else in his life was falling apart.  And I acted like I was rejecting him.  So, he walked away.  The next day when I was at a client’s office, he came and cleared out all his things.  I was going to apologize and try to make up, but I never got the chance.  Steve was gone.”  Kelly looked around at her transfixed audience.
     “What happened then?” Cassie asked.  “How’d you two get back together?”
     “Yeah, this is a great story,” Dee Dee said with a laugh.  She gestured toward Kelly.  “I take it this Steve is the father, right?”
     Kelly laughed out loud at that.  “Yes.  Yes, he is.  And, we did get back together, but not right away.  It took about a year---”
     “Didn’t you two see each other around town or something?”
     “Nope,” Kelly said, shaking her head.  “I was either working in the cottage across the driveway, here in Lambspun,  or going to see my client in Denver or my other client’s properties in Fort Connor.  I kind of burrowed into my work.  And, so did Steve.  Because the housing situation was so bad, he actually joined with a builder in Northern Colorado who had a commercial development he was working on along with some other  commercial sites around Denver.  So Steve was out of town all the time.  He said he would often bunk at a friend’s place in Denver or sleep in his car.” 
     “Ohhhhhhhh, poor Steve,” Cassie sympathized.
     “Yes, poor Steve,” Mimi echoed in a teasing tone from behind the counter.  Rosa giggled. 
     “Hey, you, two.  I didn’t make Steve sleep in his car,” Kelly countered with a laugh.  “All our friends said he just dropped out of everyone’s lives for about six months and   squirrelled himself away in Denver.”
     “Squirrelled away,” Cassie snickered.  “Never heard that before.”
     “Carl taught me that word,” Kelly teased.  “Anyway, about six months after he walked out, we accidentally ran into each other at this big real estate developers’ conference at a hotel in Denver.  Steve’s boss asked him to attend and pick up any new ideas developers were tossing around.  I attended because my Denver client was there, and he wanted me there as his financial advisor.”
     “And. . .” Dee Dee encouraged.
     “And, Steve and I nearly ran into each other at the coffee machine.”  Kelly laughed softly, remembering.  “He just stared at me, his mouth open.  After a moment I said to him, ‘Are you just gonna stare at me or say something?’  Anyway, that got us talking at least.  Work stuff mostly, then we both went back to our seats.  That’s all.”
     Cassie looked puzzled.  “That’s all?  Something else must have happened.”
     “Yeah,” Dee Dee prodded.  “How’d you two get to that volleyball game?”
     “Oh, yeah,” Kelly said with another laugh.  “Sorry.  Pregnancy Brain.  Since we at least broke the ice, we would say ‘hello’ to each other at the conference.  Then a couple of weeks later, Megan and I started playing in a coed volleyball league in Northern Colorado.  Believe it or not, Steve and Marty were playing on one of the other teams.  And we had to play them one time.  Well, I was playing front line one night and Steve was right across from me.  We were both getting into the game, and one shot came over the net and I. .  .well, I stuffed it.  Right in Steve’s face.”
     Cassie looked shocked at first, then burst out laughing.  “You didn’t!”
     “Ohhhhhh, yes, I did,” Kelly said with a grin.  “And I enjoyed every minute of it.”
     “What’d Steve do?”
     “Yeah, what’d he do?” Dee Dee asked with a laugh.
     “He shook his head to clear it, then he looked across the net at me and said, ‘You didn’t just do that.’  And, I said:  “Yeah, I did,’ and laughed.  Then he said, ‘Coming back at ya!’  And a couple of shots later he stuffed me right in my face.  Really rang my bell.”  Kelly laughed out loud, remembering.  “Payback.” 
     “Love it,” Dee Dee said as she returned to the buttons. 

     “Yay, Steve,” Cassie teased and returned to the butter yellow yarn on the winder.     

          Saw Rehab and Restoration with Matt Cianci @ Shady Lea Woodworking   

Last weekend I was back up in RI to drop off a whelping box I build one my Aunt’s dog that’s expecting puppies soon. Normally I wouldn’t be so quick to make the trip North on the traffic infested route 95 to new England but I worked the trip around Matt Cianci (writer of the saw blog) latest class offering: Saw Rehab and Restoration at the Shady Lea workshops.

Due to the broad topic Matt Started off the class by asking us, (it just so happened all of were from NJ) what we were most interested in and white boarded a quick outline. Matt had also extending the time of the classes to 10-6 which gave us a more time to dive into things and not feel rushed. The 3 of us unanimously asked about saw smithing. But rather then get ahead of out selves we talked about what to look for when buying used saws. This stared with a bit of history on manufacturers and how to use medallions to tell manufacture dates. This led to a show-in-tell, and eventually full circle to bent saws, how to check blades by bending, what’s worth trying to fix verses hanging on the wall and so on.

Once done we went over some basic theory on metal (read my small brain was hurting) then got to the business at hand. Matt went over the tools he uses, pros cons of steel and wood for a surface to work the metal. In short there is a lot of theory on the best way to do it but experimenting really is the key as old steel is unpredictable do to its age and lack of record keeping. As a side note ear protection is nice to have if you’re going to play with an anvil. Matt brought a few bent saws and showed some popular techniques for dealing with them, we all got the chance to do a little tapping and see results. I was really helpful to see the tools in hand and watching Matt’s speed and rhythmic pattern as he worked a a bent blade. After Smithing we went over the finer points of back saws and how to remove them.

Matt pulling a brass back off his tenon saw we would later repair the handle of

At some point we broke for lunch and changed focused for the rest of the day to restoration of a saw through and the steps needed from start to finish.

So over pizza we talked about removing handles, screw drivers, pros cons how to make a split nut driver and where to buy. This lead into fixing handles, Matt bought a handle with a broken horn and we talked different ways to scarf in a replacement, dealing with grain plus glues and how clamp. Not being the best wood identifier I asked about wood type and we went over poplar type used, the best ways to identify them and sources to buy them. Matt was good enough to offer up some free samples of apple and beach from is stash. Some of which will for sure be used in fixes in the future.

Matt showing David how to get a stuck nut off a handle

Finishing touches on a new horn

With the handle put aside to dry we changed gears to all things cleaning, and best to heal with saw plates. I think anyone who’s messed with old tools has some of their own secrets but Matt went over the products and techniques he likes best. I picked up a nice tip on cleaning the teeth with a brass brush, which did a great job. We also went over the process of raising an etch using gun bluing, something I for sure will give a go to on some of my older saws.

With the time left we went over sanding and refinishing of the handles and random Q/A and of course filing and shaping of teeth. Two of us had taken Matt’s 101 class and brought in examples of saws we had filed. Matt was good enough to look over and give feedback.

Matt getting ready to file in a new nib a nice finishing touch on any clasic saw plate

So as a final review I would happy give it an A+. I was very pleased with the topics we covered and I left with 4 pages of notes and the information and visual memories of watching someone do it and share his pros cons, and for me I know that’s a big help. In the weeks to come I’ll try and post some saws I’ve had the time to work on.


          re: Women Are More Intelligent Than Men   

Interesting post, Glen.  I saw this somewhere, too.

Are we testing for what we expect to find?  Or is this a "Wobegon effect?"  I wonder.

I read recently that IQ can change as we age, so presumably we are measuring the brain's plasticity.  How do you suppose this translates into a workplace like the laboratory, in which critical thinking skills are applied each day?

          re: Women Are More Intelligent Than Men   

I always said that women tend to use both parts of their brain. They will use logical reasoning but are also more likley to go with their gut as well. I think it's the ability to use both parts of the brain that makes you really intelligent.

          Re: Durban, South Africa danger warning.   
O.M.G!!! Are you kidding me??? No wonder I fear Nigerians so much! I know i'm wrong by generalising, BUT! then again better to generalise THAN! Be sorry or even worse DEAD! You never hear ANY! Good things about them over hear in South Africa, other than "sex" of which is kind of played out if you ask me. I'm so glad you are alive and hopefully well, trust me when I say GOD was with you that dreadful night, you could've been MURDERED! Like my cousin, it pains me to share this but what the hell?
she was married to a nigerian who wore a mask of a "God Fearing Pastor" after a few years all hell broke loose, she was brainwashed into turning her back against us HER family, she ended up selling and using drugs, running the streets of HILLBROW! (infamous inner part of JHB) she would run away when she saw us with police and hopped from one building to the other. When she was about 3 months pregnant, she tried leaving her Nigerian husband (we were told by her drug using friends)
She was chopped and placed into a rubbish bag tucked in a sports bag!!! With a written NOTE! Written along these lines..."she had it coming, no Whore messes with me and my stuff and lives to tell the tale". To make matters worst the gruesome bag was delivered at my late Grandmother's door step!!! She suffered from a mild-stroke, that's what the doctors told us, and she never recovered since. To some this might sound fictional BUT! It's all TRUE it happened to my family and this is the exact reason I fear NOT! hate Nigerians. Sorry...
          Mental Health Specialists and Support Workers   
When someone suffers from a mental health problem whether it is depression or a more serious disorder such as schizophrenia, they are likely to come into contact with a number of professionals and support workers in the course of their treatment and recovery, so who are they?

For most people the first point of contact is usually their doctor who will be able to assess their symptoms, rule out anything else that may be causing them, and prescribe medication or refer you for some form of counselling or psychotherapy.

If the symptoms are severe or complex, or there are other problems, then your doctor may refer you to a psychiatrist for a more detailed assessment. A psychiatrist is a doctor who has undertaken further specialist study and therefore has in-depth knowledge of the brain and mental illness and will be in a better position to make an accurate diagnosis and to decide on the most appropriate treatment and medication.

However if your symptoms are more psychological or emotional in nature then you may be put in touch with a psychologist. Clinical Psychologists have studied the mind and how it can influence behaviour and are trained in various psychotherapy treatments. Psychologists will often specialise in a particular area of mental health and as such will be in the best position to advise you on what might be the most beneficial way forward for you. They cannot, however, prescribe drugs like a doctor or psychiatrist can.

People suffering with mental health problems will often come into contact with Community Psychiatric Nurses. CPNs work in the community and will therefore make home visits as well as see you in a clinic. They may specialise in a particular area of mental health and will play an important supportive role in helping people cope with their mental health problems by liaising with other specialists, by providing an understanding ear to talk to and by looking at ways of allaying any fears or worries you may have. They will also be able to offer advice on the side effects of any medication you are taking.

Occupational Therapists or OT's as they are often called, can help you find ways of overcoming practical problems and in doing so can help increase your confidence and your ability to cope on a day to day basis. Social workers on the other hand can help you with social issues. For example, they may assist you with your application for housing or state benefits, will help you sort out financial problems, childcare issues, or other challenges in your life that if are not dealt with may have a negative impact on your mental health.

Other professionals you may see include psychotherapists and counsellors. Psychotherapists specialise in the type of therapy they offer and counsellors listen and talk through problems with patients to help them find ways of overcoming them.

Although a visit to the doctor is the only action required for many people suffering with depression and anxiety or other mental health problems, being referred to someone else by your doctor doesn't necessarily mean you are more seriously ill. It's just that the most important thing for a speedy recovery is access to the right sort of treatment and help from the most appropriate person.

          Re: GAMBIA IN THE LIFE   
Whished i could tell something different.
Have been in The Gambia more then 10 times, and still come there.
All the times i have been there, i never met a real gay. Some boys do act as if they are gay,
but they do so to get something from you, money, a ticket to Europe, education or what else.
As a moslim country with a president that has said that all gays should be killed, you should not expect
sympathy overthere. Ofcourse, like everywhere in the world, there are people who use there brains
and untherstand that gays are also human, and need respect!
But don't tell that The Gambia is a paradise for gays
Absolutly not!!!!!!!!!
          The Benefits of Eating Nutritious Food   
One of the most important factors of being healthy is eating properly and making sure that your body gets all of the required nutrients. What does that exactly mean though? It means that people ought to fuel their body with wholesome, organic and nutritious foods that are packed with plenty of nutrients.

It also means that junk food such cookies, candy, cakes, chocolate, chips, french fries and soda pop should be avoided and perhaps eaten once per week at most because junk food can bring down our immune system. When our immune system becomes weak then we increase our chances of getting sick. Also, junk food eaten too often can make us gain weight which can bring on many other health problems.

However, when we eat nutritious food we feel better, look better and have a lot more energy to do the things that are required of us, but it also leaves us with more energy to do the fun things we want to do. Eating lots of organic vegetables especially green leafy vegetables and well-proportioned quantities of organic meat such as grass fed beef, or organic free-range chicken. Remember to consume the proper amount of good fats such as omega 3-6-9, or krill oil however, consult with a naturopathic doctor first.

Another benefit of eating nutritious food is that we can function better because without a nutritious and well-balanced meal people cannot focus and concentrate as well. It is a fact that the brain requires nutritious food especially fish so that we can think clearly and properly without any brain fog.

When we eat a lot of wholesome, organic foods our skin is also a lot clearer and it shines nicely. Junk food can produce a lot of acne which can be embarrassing. It is also important to note that it is a good idea to eat a variety of foods, especially vegetables because this will help with eating a nutritionally balanced diet that is full of vitamins. As well, it might help to avoid developing allergies to foods that we eat too often. Also, it decreases the risk of getting bored eating the same foods too often.

The last benefit I would like to mention is that it is very important to eat in moderation at each mealtime and to eat at least 3-5 times per day. This means eat 3 larger meals with smaller snacks throughout the day because this helps to keep your body fuelled properly all day long without having any sugar spikes.

Eating smaller meals throughout the day also helps to keep us feeling satisfied and it can improve our metabolism. When our metabolism is at its optimum performance then this can help us with both maintaining our weight and weight loss.

As you can see, there really are many benefits to eating nutritious food however, make sure to plan in advance because people can sometimes get very busy and then eat pre-packaged foods. Just make sure that you have plenty of tasty recipes that are fun and easy to prepare so that you can eat a nutritious meal as often as possible.

          Ways to Keep a Healthy Body   
Keeping a healthy body can be very crucial. It takes a lot of effort and patience. Keeping a healthy body is very attainable. You just have to follow these helpful ways:

1. Supplement your body with vitamins - Vitamins are one of effective ways to keep your body healthy. This is very useful especially for those who are not really good eaters. If you do not supplement your body well with food, then you will just die in starvation and lack of nutrients. You will just deprive your body from absorbing necessary nutrients from certain food sources. These nutrients will actually help boost your immune system. There are certain vitamins and minerals that will help prevent some heart, brain, and lung diseases from occurring. It is necessary to take in supplemental vitamins to keep your body healthy as possible.

2. Never attempt to skip a meal - Never attempt to skip a meal. Skipping a meal will just actually make you pile up your entire food intake in a one meal, which is not recommended. This is totally a bad habit for most people. It is best that you take your food on time and do small frequent meals. This practice will just lead your body to become skinny, or the opposite, bigger or obese. You will later on have problems with digestion and will lead to some serious disease conditions. So it is best that you eat three times a day, and never attempt to skip a meal. This will definitely make you achieve a healthier body.

3. Reduce stress - Stress is one of the most upsetting factors that can lead to an unhealthy body. You should learn to reduce and get rid of it totally if you want to achieve a healthier one. Although it is undeniably true that life is full of stressors. It is impossible to eradicate them fully, but the least you can do is to minimize it from occurring. People who are in stressful situations actually opt to destroy their lives. This is not the solution for that. Learn to cope with it positively, and you will absolutely have a healthier body.

Keeping a healthy body can be very difficult, but it is never impossible. All you have to do is learn all the possible ways and you will definitely achieve it on your own. Take these ways and you will surely maintain a healthier body not just today, but also in the future.

          Healthy Living For a Healthy Life   
Having a healthy living is the most important factor in our life. Most of us know that living with a healthy body is the best path to live happy, to feel better, and to look better. Healthy living will lead us to the point where we can enjoy life to the fullest until we grow old and will never experience anything that might harm us or give us pain.

In this article, we will take you in the world of healthy living and healthy lifestyle. It is very simple and yet it provides you the easiest way on how to develop yourself up for a better and healthy person. In addition, we will provide you essential information that can be incorporated to your everyday life.

At present, most of the people in the world have fear of different diseases, and we are commonly looking for the best prevention. One of the best preventive measures to avoid disease is a healthy diet. Remember that prevention is better than cure; this famous line can be applied to anything in this world.

Eating healthy foods is a vital factor to be away from some immeasurable diseases and to have a good condition of our body. Each one of us knows that eating healthy and having a regular exercise will leads us to a healthy lifestyle. There are a lot of healthy recipes that can be seen in some health magazines.

These healthy living magazines can be purchased from any bookstore in your locality as well as healthy living catalogs where you also find the guidelines of the food pyramid.

Speaking of food pyramid, it is a group of food that tells the importance of eating a variety of food that we need every single day. It shows the food that we need to eat less, and those that should be eaten much too. To name one, carbohydrates is the most important food in the pyramid that we should take because it gives us more energy for our everyday tasks, next are the fruits and vegetables group which is high in protein.

However, bear in mind that too much is not good and will have a bad result. Eat only that is necessary and avoid eating food that is more in calories and less nutrients.

Cooking light is the most common way of losing weight. Many of us are suffering from obesity with the main problem of weight loss. In our present time, natural living is introduced and promoted, the natural holistic living. Life is full of challenges they say, but we can avoid too much trials, especially when it comes to our health if we are having a healthy living.

If you will notice the vegetarians, or the green living people, you will get to know that what they are practicing is something that is really amazing and fantastic-the organic living. However, the body still requires us to take proteins from various sources, such as eggs, meat, and other poultry products with only limited amount, just to sustain the food pyramid. Having all the things done appropriately, forever-young living will be achieved, slowly but surely.

Some of healthy living articles like this give healthy living tips which are very useful and helpful for everyone who wants to start and act now to gain a wonderful life today and for the next years of their lives. Here are some of the basic matters that we sometimes tend to overlook

Drink pure water for every 1/2 ounce of body weight. Determine if you are really starving or just dehydrated. Drink a glass of water before the meal but not more than a glass.
Eating healthy is taking in fresh fruits and vegetables. Instead of unhealthy snacks, replace them with fresh vegetables and fruits. Nutrition is found most on the darker ones.
Protein is muscle builder. Good source of protein are beans, fish, meat etc. Again, do not eat too much of it because to the kidney will overwork to filter them.
Starch should be avoided because they are sugar; among them are white bread, potatoes, French fries, and instant oatmeal. Instead, try the grains.
Practice a regular exercise. Make a plan that you can perform without missing even a single session because of laziness. This will increase the metabolism of your body.
Fasting is not a good idea. Instead of the three big meals, replace them with 5 smaller meals in a day.
Fiber is good because it controls the increasing rate of cholesterol within the body. You can find them in legumes, fibrous fruits like pineapple and whole grains.
Fatty acids are good to the body too. So, include them to your healthy living diet. They can make good nails, skin, and hair.

There are some simple yet essential ways to have a healthy living. You can practice them anytime to improve the overall health of your body. If the body is in good condition, the good metabolism will result to good digestion, will result to better flow of the blood, and will give us more energy to perform our daily tasks.

It is a chain of organs and system, and if they all work perfectly, the brain will work properly too, to help us think well of better ideas. You can look and feel better when you perform a healthy living.

          X-Poilers 74: We eat whole brains and we solve murders   
No X-Poilers desta semana: receitas para digerir o punho de ferro sem fritar o cérebro. Com Lu Anunciação, Karin, Marcelo, Leo, João Camilo e Rafael Bezerra.
          Muslims brainwashed little girls to hate Jews   
          Comics and The Value of Language (Part 1)   
At the heart of storytelling for comics lies the relationship between language and image. A comic is defined by that particular mix of the two that makes it a comic. But when you try to pin that relationship down, it gets slippery! Comics can morph from Posy Simmonds' prose-hybrid Gemma Bovery to "silent" stories like Jiro Taniguchi's The Walking Man without anyone batting an eyelid.

These two examples lie on opposite ends of a huge storytelling spectrum that sometimes feels too broad for one medium to contain comfortably. When we say “comics”, it really encompasses a lot! Despite this amazing diversity of expression, the idea that comics lack cultural or literary merit is still common, and the lack of public understanding about comics is still startling.

In this article, I want to explore the idea that comics are, and always have been, held back by a very pervasive cultural condition. This condition is responsible for the lack of merit that our culture assigns to comics, and at its heart lies the same relationship between language and image that defines comics themselves!

As with all cultural states, it’s not something that we think about consciously unless we study it carefully. It’s a shared experience that we're immersed in from the moment we start learning about the world, and it’s so ingrained that I’ve been constantly flustered by the limitations of the English language in my efforts to describe it. To begin to get an insight into it, consider these words as they apply to comics:

Artist. Writer. Reader.

The word artist doesn’t imply “storyteller”, yet there are comic artists that write their own stories without using a single word. The word writer doesn’t suggest drawing, but comic writers often describe drawings using text. Then there’s the word reader, which we use for “comics readers”, but so heavily implies the reading of text.

We quite literally don’t have the vocabulary to frame a proper discussion about creating comics, let alone dig into our own cultural assumptions about art and writing! So, in order to continue, I want to spend a little time dealing with exactly how words and images both excel at telling stories.

When it comes to images, a massive amount of information can be compressed into one frame without using a single word: atmosphere, weather, time of day, the attitudes of characters towards each other and their environment, personality and costume to name a few! Images can be symbolic, metaphorical, or generally representative in a number of ways.

Understanding Comics - Scott McCloud,
Blow Up - Shintaro Kago,
Nijigahara Holograph - Inio Asano

If used in sequence, images create the illusion of passing time, but a sequence of images is a pretty unwieldy thing. The smaller they are, the less information they can clearly contain, and even though you can superimpose images or use panels-within-panels, you can’t just put them on top of one another indefinitely! Text on the other hand is much more efficient at dealing with this kind of thing:

"She was on her regular morning walk, when the bank that she'd passed every day for ten years suddenly blew up! Instinctually using powers she'd possessed all her life, she leapt clear of the blast, but she knew that it was her nemesis behind the attack, and it was only a matter of time before he finally took her life…"

Not the most elegantly written passage perhaps, but these 60 words give you a range of information about passing time in a very small space. I could communicate the same things using a sequence of images, but it would be a long one! However, if I did use images to “say” the same thing, I’d be able to include many other details which images are much better at conveying quickly. What did she look like, how big was the bank, how did it explode, does her appearance change when she uses her powers, what does her nemesis look like…? And so on.

I’d sum it up like this: roughly speaking, images and text compress differently. Images compress spatial information well, and words compress temporal information well. Both are capable of telling a story, and neither is more of less effective at it, they're just better suited to different storytelling tasks.

There's also a subtler issue with words and images... one that I'm battling with whilst writing this. Words create visual expectations. I used the word “she” in the passage above, and with that word comes a host of associations. If I want to avoid those, it takes a lot of effort to untangle them using language alone, but a drawing could remain ambiguous with no effort at all. The same goes for many other words… like, oooh, writer or artist!

So, why does our culture frown upon comics in the way it does? Surely such a potent mixture of text and image, each with perfectly complimentary advantages, should be the most versatile and well respected storytelling medium there is?

If I was to say that the thing I've been working up to, the reason for the English disdain of comics, and the gap in our language’s ability to talk about comic storytelling is that we’re a nation of visual illiterates, I’m sure most people would disagree... in fact, I say it a lot and most people do disagree!

These obvious objections stem from the clumsy nature of the co-opted phrase. Literacy is a word that applies to language, and so all the expectations and associations that surround it undermine its application to images. I’ll approach it from another direction… by the time we get out of education, most people can write proficiently, and although they may not know how to string a plot together, most of them could attempt a blog entry or a short essay. On the flip-side, most people leaving education still can’t draw any better than the average 10 year old!

Examples of adults drawing themselves from
Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain - Betty Edwards

Let’s add to this the fact that people who do know how to draw are often self-taught, or have received an education that amounts to 90% mysticism, 10% instruction. Anyone who has been through UK education for a vocational art and come out the other side as a practicing professional will know what I mean!

I’ll use the “visual illiteracy” analogy again in lieu of a better one that doesn't exist yet, and point out that it works in a general sense if you consider the following:

Illiterate people can understand language and speak it, but they can’t write or read it. Visually illiterate people can understand drawings, but they can’t draw them. The analogy compares understanding a drawing you see to understanding a language you hear (both instinctual skills if you do them from birth). It compares drawing a drawing to writing a language (both skills that have to be taught).

With this in mind, we can write out a few conclusions quite plainly:

  • Most of us are taught to write.
  • Only a few of us are taught to draw.
  • Being able to draw is not an indicator of being able to draw stories.
  • Being able to write is not an indicator of being able to write stories.
  • Both drawing stories and writing stories require a particular set of skills that can be taught.
  • These two skill-sets overlap, but only partially.
  • Skills unique to writing stories can be practised by anyone who can write (meaning most people).
  • Skills unique to drawing stories can be practised by anyone who can draw (meaning barely anyone).

If you think about the comics industry from the perspective that these conclusions provide, the way we do things suddenly makes sense. Writers don't draw (most of them can't) and artists don't write (I suppose they could, but they tend not to).

We've turned the
limitations of our language
into a actual state of being.

And because writing skills are more easily accessible, there are lots of people who aspire to be writers, but as a result writing comics is over-saturated and hard to break into. These writers mostly require artists to draw for them, so there’s a demand for skilled artists who can draw stories. There aren't many people who are proficient at that task, so those that are will easily be able to find a writer who needs them (although a writer who is able to pay them is another matter). This chain of supply and demand quite literally makes up the economic structure of our industry, and ultimately it’s created by the lack of instruction we receive in drawing as a culture, which in turn is because of our lack of visual literacy, which in turn is so deep that it's embedded in our language. Quite the vicious cycle.

How can we fully understand the potential within comics when creating them requires a skill most of us can only appreciate as an obscure talent we wish we had?

This is a powerful cultural imbalance, but in comics it would be easy to see ourselves as outside its reach. After all, we all read and write pictures in a way that the rest of our culture doesn't... aren't we visually literate? I’d argue that the answer is actually no. We’re all shaped by the cultural condition, and we rarely consider its full implications, or the way that it shapes our own attitudes.

In a following article I want to use this concept to take a closer look at exactly how visual literacy affects comics creators and readers, and the kinds of comics we create and value. That's a much thornier subject though...

          The Ballad of Kickstarter Part 2   
Previously, in The Ballad of Kickstarter Part 1 we’ve seen our romantic myths about publishing shattered by drunken Uncle Kickstarter, and we’ve stumbled in on Aunty Publishing swigging gin at two in the afternoon. But, the human heart is nothing if not hopeful!

If it’s not the case that every book on the shelf is a success, and if publishing isn’t a well-oiled machine in which everyone is paid well and good work always gets rewarded, then we need another myth!

Here it is: “Crowd Funding is Easy Money”.

Even if Uncle kickstarter is mostly drunk, he’s also stinking rich, and he gives it out to ANYONE with a half-arsed comic or a lame idea for a video game. Even whilst we ridicule him, and poke fun at all his silly unprofessional ideas, we secretly wish that we were the ones he was giving money to, because surely anyone with half a brain and some spare time can get funded!

And I must admit, that without fully realising it, I’d bought into slightly less jaded version this idea myself when I started the IndieGoGo campaign for The Firelight Isle. I’d just come off the back of an extremely popular webcomic, working for one of the best known writers in comics, I was confident and a little naïve. It didn’t take me a long time to realise my mistake, and I’m going to be honest about exactly how I made it, so that others can approach crowd funding realistically too:

  1. I went in without enough material. You can’t get proper funds off the back of vague promises about a project to come. I’d gone so far as to create a website, do some poster art, write up paragraphs about how I’d use the money, but in the end, I hadn’t got a single page of the actual project to show up-front. Half way through the campaign I was less than half way to my total, and my traffic rates were dropping alarmingly. I knew that I needed to do something a little special to reach my goal. Because there were solid reasons that I couldn’t produce sample pages, I made an animated trailer instead, and that did the trick, but it was a LOT of work to make something good enough to get people properly excited.
  2.  I underestimated how much effort promotion is. Promoting my project and driving traffic to the site was hard work! This is a major factor, you can’t just send out one or two tweets and a blog article and wait, you have to be constantly reminding people, constantly talking about it, constantly coming up with ways to make people excited enough to talk about your project to other people. You have to call in favours and bug people who you know don’t want to be bugged. It wasn’t until after I’d made the trailer, and talked to my sister (who works in digital marketing) that I really cracked this, and even then it took effort.
  3. I didn't realise how much money Admin costs. Even after you’ve made your total, the simple fact that you’ve succeeded comes with its own burden. Emailing everyone, spending the time to track the money, fulfil the perks, keep the site updated, it all takes time, and the money for that time has to come from somewhere.
  4. Perks and Fees mean that totals aren't as impressive as they seem. You can knock anywhere between 20% and 50% of the total money raised by any kickstarter campaign off simply because of the money tied up in fees and fulfilling people’s perks. Even very very well-funded campaigns will rarely actually make any profit, and profit isn’t the purpose. All the money eventually goes back into something directly relating to the campaign.

So you need at least a few of the following to get a successful campaign finished:
  • good material that stands out from the crowd
  • a head for business and admin
  • a head for marketing and time to generate traffic
  • a pre-existing crowd of fans who already trust you
  • a back-log of projects
  • perseverance and the confidence to shout about yourself.

And if you don’t have a number of those things, you won’t have a successful campaign. I learnt all this on the fly, and even after achieving my goal, I’ve had to be careful with every penny I raised in order to use it how I’d promised to use it.

Hopefully I’ve shattered two myths here about publishing and crowd funding respectively. We can dispense with all this “drunken uncle and aunt” stuff. Crowd funding is not easy money, and more often than not, you need to be a dedicated creator with a pre-existing fan-base to think about getting a decent sum of money for a new project.

To end with, have a glance at the most funded comics and games. It’s full of recognisable creators, properties with large fan bases, professional looking products and well managed project pages.

So, some things to remember about kickstarter: If they weren't asking you for funding, they'd have to ask a publisher. If you didn't have to take a risk, an editor would. If you don't pay for the costs of production up-front, you still pay for them with the price of the product itself! Kickstarter cuts out the middle-man, and it can be argued whether this is ultimately a good or a bad thing. But one way or the other, it makes the creative process a lot more transparent, and this is a positive change in my opinion.
          Collective Brain Bowels   
People often call the internet a "social space" and refer to what we do on it as "social networking", but during a conversation on twitter I started thinking that really that's a pretty inadequate way of looking at what the internet is, does and enables. I decided to call it a "collective stream of consciousness", which I'm sure isn't a particularly original thought, and Anna Fitzpatrick responded "twitter is like a can of beans to our collective brain bowels" which sounds much better - hence the title. However, what I've been pondering is not just what the internet does to connect us all, but how that relates to making comics (or any art for that matter) for a living.

I've been putting comics and art on the internet and using it for "socialising", or "brain farting", since I was 16, a good 11 years ago now, and it would be horribly dishonest of me if I didn't admit that one of the motivators for keeping at it quickly became (and has remained ever since) getting attention and being noticed by people I admire. It's a real thrill to be acknowledged by someone that matters to me, or to get a compliment from a total stranger, so I'm not at all surprised that I've found this aspect of the internet extremely addictive. I'm willing to bet that there are plenty of other artists out there who feel the same too - although it doesn't seem like many people like talking about it directly.

Just so I don't sound like a total ego-maniac, I'll add that my other motivations are creative passion and the desire to tell beautiful and enduring stories... but that's all by the by.

Over those 11 years, being noticed and talked about hasn't happened all at once, and although there are a moderate number of people that follow me and my work on various social networking sites and I can find articles about me scattered across the net like bizarrely-easy-to-find-bubbles-in-an-ocean, there's never been a single point at which the amount of attention I've received has changed dramatically. It's like watching someone you're around every day get taller - if I compare today with that day I first put a crudely knocked up website on the difference is startling, but if I think about it all from day to day, it never felt like much was changing.

It's pretty common to hear people say how important the internet is when it comes to work and promoting yourself, and I'd have to agree, without it I'm really not sure what my career would have ended up being. However, the internet has changed drastically since I started using it. It began as a sort of asteriod belt of websites: dense from a distance, but a lot of space between them when you get up close. The only way to "network" was by manually including lists of your favourite sites on your own website, and relying on other people's lists to find more. There was no twitter, facebook or deviantart back then. Now there are so many websites for mediating and enhancing connections between websites and individuals that it's genuinely daunting. If I spent any more time tweeting or writing blog entries I'd have to start trying to monetise it directly in order to pay for the time it takes up. What was once a neat piece of advice that might have taken the form "it's useful to have an online portfolio", has become like a silent mantra, implied by the clacking of countless keyboards all across the world: ALL THIS IS VITAL. ALL THIS IS NECESSARY IF YOU WANT TO BE FULLY CONNECTED. YOU'RE MISSING OUT IF YOU'RE NOT ONLINE. POST. TWEET. BLOG. LIKE. +1. FRIEND. NOW. FOREVER.

It would be nice to say that this is all an illusion, but unfortunately, collective illusions occurring in a social space are more succinctly called "social conventions" or "the way it's done". All you need to do is buy into it, and you're there alongside everyone else, doing it the way it's done.

So if you want a career in illustration or comics, being connected is part of running the business. On at least a basic level, it's quite unavoidable. The tricksy thing about the internet though is the beguiling (and rather false) feeling of anonymity that it obviously gives people. It's more than a social space, because the unspoken rules of many actual social spaces barely apply here. People are more willing to talk to strangers, quicker to speak their mind, quicker to spill the beans, more easily moved to anger or annoyance and more sensitive to undertones and implications. Sometimes it feels like the final effect is to take that drunken moment at 3:00 in the morning at a party (with a phone in your hand when you feel like all the things you've been meaning to say should really be said right now), apply it to everyone and extend it indefinitely. Except this time it's on twitter for all the internet to see, instead of in a text message for one person to roll their eyes at.

So, if the internet is this complicated for someone who just uses in their spare time, it's become like a maze for people who use it both professionally and socially, and like a Gordian Knot for people whose professional and social lives overlap - like many comicbook creators I know. Some people really do make a career out of it, they take on and become a net-specific personality in order to attract followers and protect themselves from those same followers ("uncle" Warren Ellis being a good example of this). Some people just seem to be able to hack it being slightly unstable versions of themselves. Some people genuinely find it a struggle.

It's interesting to note that in a quick thought-survey of very well known artists and writers, being on the internet 24/7 seems to have very little correlation with success. Some creators manage it mostly disconnected, and some creators do it for all the net to see. I'd love to know how that pans out when followed up properly.

I'm lucky enough to have always had a disproportionate amount of self confidence, but that's not to say that I don't get upset when I see people badmouthing my art, or desperately search for implications and innuendo when people refer to someone without naming them, or leave me out of a list I feel I should belong to. I think these are all natural feelings that the majority of people experience, made all the more intense by this strange collective brain-toilet we're swimming in. Right now there may even be someone reading this terrified that I'm referring to them in a negative way somehow (I'm not, I promise)!

To top it all, it's no secret that creators are an emotional lot. Although it's a big, steaming cliché, I think it's one with a lot of traction because there's a simple and compelling reason for it: even if I may not be an overly emotional person in general, when I draw and when I write, that's not just a job, that's ME I'm putting on the page. That's the product of my passion, so I feel strongly about it, and put a lot of myself into it. Consequently, if someone publishes an opinion on my work, it isn't just about my work, it's about me, unwritten implications and all. Despite having high levels of self confidence, I still have to try constantly to remind myself to take a step back, take a breather, see it objectively, take it in my stride, not get personal.

So here we are, fragile creators, all with our own complex lives and issues, pouring our hearts out into a big toilet for brains and hoping to encounter unequivocal support, instead of the oil-slicked stream of consciousness that really runs down the tubes. No wonder that the results are often exposing parts of ourselves we'd rather no-one saw, or seeing parts of other people we wish they'd kept hidden! This swings both ways - criticism and support, animosity and friendship. It's all there, it's all at a potent distance, it's only a few buttons away, and it should be used with caution - especially for the professionally social!
          We're Having a Photo Contest   

We want photos of your child (aged 0-6 years) reading a book. Your photo will help promote the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program.

We've teamed up with the Yellowknife Public Library to encourage all NWT families to read 1000 Books Before Kindergarten.

We know the brains of babies develop fast during the first years of life. You can help that brain development by reading books with your child. Enter our photo contest and you can win a basket of new books to read!

Send your photo and a photo release form to

          How to Design Your Bedroom for Better Sleep.   
How to Design Your Bedroom for Better Sleep.Not getting the right sleep can put a damper on your whole day, and if it becomes a pattern, your health can be affected and the quality of your life brought down severely. Medical research has proven that lack of restful sleep can lead to a weakened immune system, weight gain, muscle tightness, brain fog, mood disorders and impaired decision making. So the last thing you need is to end up getting bad sleep and that’s how we want to help you today; with special tips to help you upgrade your bedroom to a space that provides deeper, more restful sleep, so you can get on with living.
Drown out the noise. White noise helps to drown out both the silence and chaos surrounding you that often distracts you from your ability to fall into deep sleep. This will help your sleep to be more comfortable in mind and body. There are many options for adding white noise as well; you could easily invest in a white noise machines, small fans and even modern apps for proper white noise.
Wake up gently. Rest isn't only about the number of hours your head rests on a pillow.  It also has a lot to do with how the sleep comes to an end! When you wake up to a shocking alarm sound, your subconscious mind feels it’s under attack and you wake up with a rush of adrenaline. Instead, invest in an alarm clock that eases the transition from sleep to wake, rather than startling you. This will definitely help you start the day feeling fresh.
Add color for better sleep. Bright colors are fun, but don’t help us sleep better. A bright tuscan inspired yellow is not ideal for a restful night’s sleep. A better choice would be one that considers going with a more relaxing and calming shade in a cool-color family like light blue, sage green, or rich purple. Color your room for beauty sleep.
Dim the lights. Create a comforting atmosphere by installing a dimmer switch that works via remote control or just by adding some lower level lights to keep the mood feeling calm. The dimmer lights can even be installed and set to an alarm so they come on slowly in the morning, (like a sunrise) to help you feel like you’re waking up more naturally.  
Block out the early light.The beautiful morning sun light is an incredible thing to wake up but when it shows up too early, it can deprive you of crucial REM sleep. One of the easiest ways to find something suitable for keeping you asleep is with the darkness that black out shades provide.  Once you're awake and moving, though, make sure you open the shades wide, because morning light also helps strengthen your body rhythms and get your brain going!

Those are some very easy to apply improvements to your home, health and lifestyle. However, if you'd like suggestions for jumping into a bigger home renovation project, we at Unique Home, would love to help! Here's to restful living!

          Prog Review 12: Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon Immersion Box Set   

You can watch the review on YouTube at:

One could call this the sequel to my unboxing video, but here it is, here i spill my brains on the new ultimate "Dark Side of the Moon" box set.

If you want to watch the unboxing video, you can see that by clicking here:

To see my unboxing and review of the Wish You Were Here Immersion box set:

A Pink Floyd app for the iPad, iPod and Phone? Why yes!

Music used in this video.

Title Music:
"Stinkhorn" by Darren Lock (that's me)

Background Music:
Tracks taken from the album "Empty Space" by Darren Lock

To buy my music, visit my these pages:

Connect via social media:

          [Multi] EDGE: Os melhores de 2006   

Os jornalistas da revista EDGE já elegeram os melhores de 2006 nas diferentes categorias. Fiquem com os resultados:
Jogo do Ano:
  1. Final Fantasy XII (PS2, Square Enix)
  2. Okami (PS2, Capcom)
  3. Zelda Twilight Princess (Wii, Nintendo)
  1. Wii (Nintendo)
  2. Brain Training (NDS, Nintendo)
  3. Xbox Live Marktplatz (Microsoft)
  1. Okami (PS2, Capcom)
  2. Just Cause (Xbox 360, Eidos)
  3. Locoroco (PSP, Sony)
  1. Dragon Quest VIII (PS2, Square Enix)
  2. Defcon (PC, Introvision)
  3. Tony Hawk 8 (Activision)
Melhor Software House:
  1. Nintendo
  2. Capcom
  3. Square Enix
Melhor Editora:
  1. Take-Two
  2. Valve
  3. Sega
Melhor Jogo Online:
  1. Test Drive Unlimited (Xbox 360, Atari)
  2. Animal Crossing (NDS, Nintendo)
  3. Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter (Xbox 360, Ubisoft)
Melhor Hardware:
  1. Nintendo DS Lite
  2. Wii Remote
  3. PS2

          Strong Christian women!   
Before I send you to the report I wrote on the Homegoing service for Lyndi McCartney, I need to send a shout out to the many strong Christian women out there who stand strong, speak their mind, fight for the things they love, and without whom we would not be the men we are.

Lyndi was that kind of woman.  Yes, Coach McCartney gets the publicity (and the scrutiny), but anyone who knows the couple knows Lyndi was "the brains of the operation."  (And the charm.)

It was a privilege to share the following fact with Coach Mac and most men I know: we married "up."

Read the entire story from her memorial service at the Assist News Service news page:
          We need more “sloppy wet kisses” in church   
“How He Loves” is a rare worship song that has popular appeal on radio, as well as in congregations. But a controversy is raging over the lyric line “So Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss….” Meditating on that line brought me to an epiphany of sorts. We need more sloppy wet kisses in church. (More comments on the dust-up at this blog.)

More accurately, we need more passion in church, and especially among our married couples. Yes, I’m talking New Year’s Eve, Times Square, just-home-from-the-war passion.

Where are the men on the matter of passion in the church? Harold Velasquez, one time program director for Promise Keepers, lamented the plethora of “Jesus is my boyfriend” songs. He says men can better identify with “warrior” songs.’s David Murrow agrees that when men sing, they would rather feel like they’re “stepping onto a battlefield. On the other hand, many praise songs make you feel as if you’re stepping into a bedroom.” Buried within that view is a big part of the issue. Christian men, and church members at large, have surrendered their passion to the world.

We’ve noticed young couples actually cuddling in church services. Arms around each other, holding hands, hands on thighs, looking at each other’s faces. This is very good, – a reflection of authentic, godly intimacy in a very intimate place, the sanctuary.

What’s the problem with PDAs (public displays of affection)? It’s not the affection. It’s the unrestrained affection between unmarried people. Checking myself here. Am I judging other people’s commitments? Maybe. But I also know firsthand that affection without commitment is emotional abuse. Rather than society’s gorging media overdose on physical lust, soap opera partner swapping, teen vampire hotties, soft-core at the checkout stand and hard core porn just-a-click-away, how about a more public representation of passionate affection between married couples?

(Much respect to Relevant Church in Tampa, FL for their “30-day Sex Challenge” back in 2008.)

Fully given to each other, married couples have the high privilege, calling and honor of fully possessing each other physically. It all happens behind closed doors. I say, let it out just a bit. The world is so confused by the abuse and misuse of sexuality, we need happy married couples to show us the way.

I was thinking about this “sloppy, wet kiss” when it all became clear to me. When Jesus came to earth, as an astounding display of God’s love for humanity, his arrival was more like a big ol’ affectionate smooch. Yes it was a “holy kiss,” but it came with the spilling of amniotic fluid, and labor pains, and a sticky, wet baby crying out to fill its lungs with air.

Was that demure? Is the birth of a baby ever discreet? I’ve witnessed four births, and I can tell you that they are noisy, raucous events. I’m thinking God’s love for us is unrestrained and enthusiastic, the way a young husband is with his bride. In fact, that’s exactly the way husbands are supposed to be toward their wives. Paul painted this picture powerfully in his letter to the church at Ephesus, chapter 5. Most of us throw up our hands, not able to figure out our marriages or “Christ and the church,” so we call it a “mystery.”

Instead of identifying with the bride of Christ in our devotions, husbands should be identifying with the Groom, Jesus - God - the Christ, the initiator of this cosmic love affair. Of course, husbands are not God, we are members of the church, the Body of Christ, the Bride. But men are supposed to see this relationship from the husband’s point of view.

It’s a brain buster, I know. We are so used to calling ourselves the Body of Christ, the Bride. But as men, we are never fully comfortable with this designation. And we do not have to be. Paul has set us free from identifying with the Bride. We are called to identify with the Groom. We are to be the initiators of spirituality in the marriage. Imagine what would happen to our faith if we considered what it really means to love someone the way God loves us.

There is no need to be soft, reactive, and beautiful. We can identify with the Groom by being resolute, initiating and strong in character (a most attractive attribute on men, I am told).

For worship leaders, it may seem to be a challenge to find songs for a congregation that reflect God’s heart toward us, but the Bible is full of God’s expressions of love toward his people. And you would be surprised how men join in on those parts. (Please comment with your suggestions.)

Here’s my vision of a “romantic” Sunday at church. (Any pastors who think they can get away with it, please let me know how it went.)

1) Your moment is in the middle of the worship set (if you’re one of those sing-first, preach-later kinds of churches), after a song ends.

2) Have the instruments play in the background, and call attention to the married couples in the audience.

3) Talk about the love between them, and the love God has for us.

4) Offer a word to the singles and those attending without their spouse: “don’t feel left out. Please help us celebrate the joy and holiness of marriage and cheer on  the couples who are here this morning. And if you are married, you might want to tell your spouse about today’s service and do some ‘homework.’”

5) Instruct the couples to hold hands or put their arms around each other.

6) Now prepare them. Tell them, “Husbands, I’m going to ask you to kiss your wife, and kiss her like you haven’t since your wedding day. We will do this together on the count of three. Now look at your spouse. Men, think about how God loves us, and look at your wife with that kind of love. We need to show the young people how much fun it is to be in love and married.

7) Hold it. Anybody need a breath mint? (pass them out)

8) Are you ready? One – two – three! (And pastors, have your wife with you.)

9) Hit the cymbals! Strike the strings! It’s a mid-worship crescendo!

10) After this Sunday morning love-in, sing a great anthem of the church, and see how much gusto you get from all those thankful – Jesus-minded men, and their grateful, church-minded women.

I am for promoting the profile of marriage and romance within marriage in the public square. I am for modeling passion among Christians. I am calling for, asking for a holy imprimatur from the church for such a kiss. And I believe such a display of unconditional, "agape" love between married couples in the sanctuary of the church before so many witnesses is beyond physical "eros" love. It would indeed be holy before Almighty God and instigate more badly-needed affection between couples. Most importantly, I believe men who identify with Christ as Groom will more readily, easily, consistently love their wives as Christ loves the church.

I feel like I’ve been set free. I don’t have to sing like the Bride any more. From now on, I will sing like the God who loves his people. I will sing like the Groom. That identity will teach me how to love in a dramatically new way. I can’t wait to get to church. I might even kiss my wife without prompting - right there in church. Dig that P.D.A!
          Empty a fruit machine of money without using the keys!!   
Have you ever wanted to be able to empty the money out of a fruit machine, without owning the keys? We have invented a device which allows you to do exactly that. Perfect if you need to take all the money out of your own fruit machine, but have lost the key. The device works by using Radio Frequencies to remotely "confuse" the brain of the fruit machine, thus causing it to empty the coin holder (hopper) into the payout tray for you to collect. You must obviously only use this device on machines that you own! If you'd like more information on this product, feel free to visit our website, which you can view by clicking the link. You can view the website by clicking on the link below which says "Web site: Click here to view" or by going directly to this link:
          Brain and Cognitive Science Podcasts   

I have been known to drift to sleep with my media player filled with episodes of science and speculative fiction podcasts. I do confess that in between the twilight and the snoozing I’m picky about what I put into my brain. You’d think I’d seek out boring speakers to help me sleep but my mind does not like the idea of forced ennui.

Not to say that science is boring. People are boring, not the topic. I have some art lectures that are natural sleep aids. Still, I should make more of an effort to keep up on the science news not filters by sound bites. So I’m waving the metaphorical finger at myself to at least make an effort to find science podcasts that are informative and accessible.

A few months back I wrote about Dr. Ginger Campbell and her podcast Brain Science. Dr. Campbell and other like minded science folks now have a centralized meeting point called quite sensibly Science Podcasters.

If you have a thing for viruses and parasites this could be your kinda place. Science Podcasters has links to all kinds of shows ranging from space, nature and psychology.

Brain and Cognition Sciences

Kerri Smith hosts Neuropod that looks at the brain from the cell up and the chemicals, transmitters and genes that can affect our behavior. At NeuroScene there is an interview with Dr. Judith Lauter who talks about how hormonal balances in the brain develops during gestation may predispose certain brain types.

Natasha Mitchell at All in the Mind looks at the relationship of the mind to topics such as psychology, artificial intelligence and pop culture. The program originates from Australia’s ABC Radio and there is a blog to support the podcast.

Other Science Podcast of Interest

Not all of the discussions about the brain take place in academia. Sometimes they are as close as your public library. In this case, the Los Angeles Public Libraries Aloud series are public gatherings of discussions about engaging topics such as George Lakoff’s The Political Mind: A Cognitive Scientist’s Guide to Your Mind and Its Politics.

Explo.TV is the video and podcast channel of the Museum of Science, Art and Human Perception in San Francisco. There are many great audios and videos and I can’t pick just one but under the Cognitive Science section I would take a listen to musician Laurie Anderson or Julie Yu on her explanation on what is a stem cell.

Are We Alone looks at science issues with a critical, as in analytical, point of view. In the episode Eureka, the program takes a look at what it takes to be innovative thinker like Archimedes.

Leaning Opportunity

If you really want to dive deeper into what make a brain function and you don’t have the time or money to attend a university class might I suggest a visit to the MIT Open Courseware on Brain and Cognition. MIT has free class material and audio recording of lectures and classes on psychology, neuroscience and behavior and brain structures and their origin.

All of these podcasts and recordings leaves me in a state of panic. I think I’m gonna have to get a larger media player.

Gena Haskett is a BlogHer CE. Blogs:Out On The Stoop and Create Video Notebook

          “My Soul Has Been Kissed” – The Power of the Pentatonic Scale   

A video has been traveling around since June 2009. It moves from ear to brain to eyes and then passed along to the next person. I’ve seen all kinds of words to describe it from “Wait, no you really should see this.” to “My soul has been kissed.” There are lessons in science, music, community, shared knowledge and perhaps just a little fun.

World Science Festival 2009: Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale from World Science Festival on Vimeo.

If you made it to the end of the video you probably have sympathy for the gentleman sitting next to Bobby McFerrin. Professor Lawrence Parsons was asked the question "Larry, what the hell just happened here?" For his answer you can view video four on the session page.

Daniel Levitin was one of the participants of the panel. PRI’s The World Science talks with Daniel about the science cognitive aspect of music.

So is it really just a demonstration of auditory pattern recognition? Maybe. I know that when I watched it multiple thoughts were romping in my head.

When I first viewed the video I was a participant understanding what the next tone would be and I was pleased to find out that I'm not tone deaf. I loved that he demonstrated his point visually and physically.

Mr. McFerrin is a one of those undercover teachers who plants seeds of thought about how to express an idea. He is a conductor and performer so he also knows how to engaging a diverse audience.

I viewed the video a second time with the sound off. Yep, he is "conducting" or instructing the expectations of the audience. Bobby is also teaching what the pentatonic scale. And he conducts class in three minutes. Not to mention instant community building, uniting the group in a shared experience with a bit of pleasure and learning.

When all three come together there is a bit of magic. Music and the brain is one of those long term multifaceted discussion that are taking place in science, psychology and the arts. The Library of Congress hosted a hour long discussion with Michael Kubovy and Judith Shatin of the University of Virginia about the meaning of music beyond the sound properties.

It Takes Every Kind of People

To quote a lyric from a Robert Palmer song, it does take every kind of people. We all get different inspirations from patterns and music patterns are no exception.

Brenda Gael Smith from the Serendipity Patchwork used musical scales as an inspiration for a quilt and an audio composition.

Diana K. Gibson is a painter using DuMond color palette. She poses the question what if you looked at color patterns like a music scale.

In the past, many music lessons were culturally based on traditions. Some music instruction is faith based and others music patterns are a part of survival skills. Much of that environmental music training has been stripped away from us. It is really hard to compete with a generation of kids body linked to cell phones.

At Music Teacher Helper they look at the various ways music instruction can take place. One of those ways may be via video. There is an interview with Kathy Parsons who actually conducts piano classes via video.

So maybe there is hope. What lack of educational funding and the selling of process music stripped from us culturally might be replaced by easier accessibility to music instruction on our terms.

In the meantime, I think I need more observation of this pentatonic scale vibe so I'm going to study up with bit with a classic from Salt and Pepper's Expression. I also need the cognitive inspiration I get from hearing the lyrics.

Gena Haskett is a BlogHer CE. Blogs:Out On The Stoop and Create Video Notebook

          Outbrain Review   

This content piece provides an Outbrain Review. Outbrain continues to be one of the success stories in ad networks around the world. […]

The post Outbrain Review appeared first on Adbuff.

          New Perspective Tool for Krita   
I have been meaning to right about this fabulous new tool that is the brain child of none other than David Revoy (the mockup of the same can be seen @ New Perspective Tool). Well, like many of you out there I am also mesmerized by this new tool, but, upon me is the task of […]
          The Hippocampus Underlies the Link Between Slowed Walking and Mental Decline   
Newswise imageThe connection between slowed walking speed and declining mental acuity appears to arise in the right hippocampus, a finger-shaped region buried deep in the brain at ear-level, according to a 14-year study conducted by scientists at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.
          5 Comic Book Characters That Need Their Own Video Game   
After the enormous success of the Batman Arkham Series, which when it defied expectations, it was proven that licensed games can actually be absolutely amazing. With its addictive gameplay, outstanding voice acting, compelling story, and beautiful art direction, it was a no-brainer that the series would be a hit with both comic book geeks and video game fans all over the world and would be a strong contender for Game of the Year.
          Fallon Brainfood: Fallon Blog Secrets Revealed! (and the death of Fallon Planning Blog)   
Its been 2 years since we launched the Fallon Planning Blog and 2 years since Ed Cotton and I did our "Blogging The Agency" presentation at AAAA Planning Conference which tried to assess the value of account planners' blogging.

At the time, questions were just starting to arise about agency bloggers and the role we should be playing on the burgeoning social web. I distinctly remember some big name planners insisting that all this bloggery and twittering was a waste of our time and we should get back our proper surveys and focus groups like a good puppy. Interestingly, not a day goes by that a client isn't asking the Insight dept for a POV on social media. Then, social media was a hobby, now its become the job.

What prompted the Fallon Planning Blog? Fallon Planners were asking a philosophical question: Are we merely our work, or are we our ideas and thinking, too? And if we're ideas and thinking, where does all that get expressed and workshopped beyond our client decks? Younger planners were asking how might they learn and hear from experienced planners beyond the annual conference? Other questions abounded about what effect social media might play on us, our industry, our work, our clients? We were beginning to see the seismic shifts that social computing was having on retail, media consumption, music, creative production, distribution, etc. A partial answer to this conundrum was to participate. We started a blog.

The blog launched with little fanfare (or even official sanction) we simply started and assumed to sort it out as we went.

So years later, what has it gotten us? What have we learned from blogging and Brainfooding and Tweeting and social networking?

Highlights about Fallon Planning Blog
-Over 170,000 pageviews and over 27,406 unique visitors since launch in 2006
-Average 600 RSS subscribers a day
-Ranked #142 on AdAge Power 150 - top media and marketing blogs
-over 12,000 pageviews in Feb 2009, this year may be reaching a tipping point!
-Fallon Worldwide/Fallon Minneapolis receives an average blog mention every 11 days
-Fallon Planning receives an average blog mention every 12 hours

Highlights about Fallon Brainfood:
-over 52,000 total views of Brainfood on Slideshare plus countless live webcam views, blog posts, and Tweets
-over 4600 views of Brainfood in Q109 so far
-28,905 Twitter impressions

So you might wonder why all the reflective tone in this post? It probably sounds like something is ending. And well, it is...or rather, something new is soon to begin. But for now, consider the Fallon Planning Blog experiment successfully ended.

          Fallon Brainfood: "Inspired By Kittens"   
Fallon strategic planner Aki Spicer explores the latest social media metrics of the "Kittens Inspired By Kittens" phenomenon (created by Fallon ECD Al Kelly) as well as the 5 actionable lessons we can apply to our brands.

Fallon Brainfood: "Inspired By Kittens" from Aki Spicer on Vimeo.

Invite on Facebook

          6 Ways to Play Twitter - Winning Strategies for Brands On Twitter   
Not a week goes by where someone doesn't ask me to quick-brainstorm a Twitter strategy for their brand. Then I roll my eyes and grimace as I believe most brands probably should not Twitter (because they really aren't willing to deliver on-demand responsiveness - just one among many factors unique to the Twitter platform.).

Nonetheless, here is an easy chart of 6 Ways To Play Twitter. Pin it on your wall if you're considering just how your brand may fit into the conversation on Twitter.

(click to enlarge or get.pdf or get.png)

*All strategies don't fit all brands - do some soul-searching!
**And, yes, some strategies may be combined (like Mortal Combat button combos - "Finish Him!")

***If I'm missing some angles throw 'em at me in the comments (or @akispicer, as I reserve the right to update this chart with better ideas.

          Fallon Brainfood: Return of the Real Hero—From Caricature to Character   
Join us for the next installment of Fallon Brainfood, Thursday January 15th at 1pm EST/12pm CST.  

Topic: Return of the Real Hero—From Caricature to Character

Through the lens of the superhero and pop culture, we'll explore the heightened relevance of heroes, what it means to be a hero today, and how brands can empower your inner hero. Presented by account planner Alyson Heller and planning intern Courtney Kuehn. 

Tune in via live webcast and follow-along on Slideshare/YouTube:


Ustream Webcast: 

Live TV by Ustream

Live chat:


Slide 13: Christina Aguilera

Slide 19: SuperHero Comic Guru Interview

With thanks to our interviewees, including blogger Geoff Boucher, "Hero Complex," at the LA Times. 

Check back tomorrow for additional clips, links, and information. 

          Military Guy Fucks His GFs Brains Out   
Watch Military Guy Fucks His GFs Brains Out at - best free online XXXPorn videos for you to enjoy.
          Commentaires sur enfant par Boris Dursch   
When you are done added moisturizer towards the skin brain it from drying outdoors. As soon as the mouse cruiser moves at the flash, sometimes the float tool bar may not appear.
          Abstract Data ADE-10 reactive shaper + Intellijel Dixie + Bluelantern Diode filter JAM   

Just a rainy day jam testing out some new modules that we got in stock here at Equinoxoz.

The Dixie oscillators zig-zag waveform was being run through the Reactive shaper and then through the Blue lantern Diode filter. At the start of the video I have the cutoff wide open and the resonance all the way off so the filter is not really affecting the sound, any changes heard at first is purely the sequencer changing the settings of the ADE-10.
I was running the outputs of the pressure points/brains combo to the ADE-10 reactive shapers 3 CV inputs, some manual adjustment of the controls as well.

I threw some kick drums in from the Korgasmatron being pinged by an envelator for fun and the whole patch was being clocked from a Noisering.

Cast: Equinoxoz music solutions

Tags: intellijel, ADE-10, Reactive shaper, Abstract Data, Makenoise, Modular synth, Bluelantern modules and Diode filter

          The Rule Breaker   

Have you ever had the courage to break the rules? Why don't you be like this bird for once? I just wonder if this thing knows what it's doing. I wonder if anything else still matters for this poor bird? Maybe it matters to see the world for the last time if he got shot - who knows what's in its head? Haha. Well, some people do not realize how bird-brained their ideas are until they've gotten themselves into deep shit already. Break the rules, but only if you think it's worth it. :)

          Kinky Stuff: The Winerack   
Before anything else, let me remind you that everything I post here are strictly those I regard as amusing - and are not exactly what I wanted to buy/get for myself (do I sound like I am in a defensive mode? oh, I'll leave the thinking to you.Haha). So now, I am posting this one because I thought this would arouse interest especially among sick men - who are mad about racks and booze at the same time.

What is the product description? How does this help you? And who can have/wear it? Come on, give me a wild guess. *wink*

Tired of guessing a no-brainer? View full specs here and then laugh your ass off.

via Geekologie

          iPod Touch Commercial By A Student   
Nick Haley, an 18-year-old student from Leeds University, made an iPod touch commercial using his Apple's Final Cut Pro which apparently grabbed every YouTube lurker's attention - includung Apple marketing employees. This just goes to show that a brilliant idea doesn't always have to come from best "brainstorming team" Apple could hire. :P

And I am glad that this young talent got recognized for his effort - even if it really wasn't intended to match up to other Apple commercials. Guess he just loves it so much that he actually became inspired to this one. ;)

Full story here. And here's the video. :)

          Soluzioni WordBrain 2   
Categoria: Giochi Sviluppatore: MAG Interactive Lingua: inglese, italiano Sistemi operativi: Compatibile con iOS e Google Play WordBrain 2 è un gioco di parole ideato […]
          New AI Technology Learns How to Read Minds   

Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University have created a machine learning technology that utilizes brain activation patterns to identify complex thoughts and sentences, which is, in effect, an ability to "mind read."
          Wayback reading machine   

I love plunging into the latest books, but sometimes you can’t beat antique reads. Having a Kindle means I can shop through the ages at Project Gutenberg or Feedbooks’ public domain pages for hours and load down my imaginary shopping cart with free books from generations past. 

Most people travel the broad highway of public domain for the classics like Austen or Shakespeare, but I highly recommend going off-road for a little adventure. I’m always on the lookout for surprises, and my latest squee-gem  is THE EXPERIENCES OF LOVEDAY BROOKE, LADY DETECTIVE by Catherine Louisa Pirkis. Published in 1893, this set of short stories follows the Sherlock Holmes method of mentally working out the mysteries, and is one of the few (for its time) featuring a female detective. The stories are enjoyable and easy to follow, considering that many of the clues relate to the time period. She's a brainy badass, and I love her for it. For a brief read before bedtime, I definitely recommend it.

I’m brushing up on Robert Benchley these days, and I find him just as essential as P.G. Wodehouse or Terry Pratchett for a humor-writing education. You can score OF ALL THINGS and LOVE CONQUERS ALL for free on Amazon. The 1920s-era language may be more subtle than you’re used to for humor, but the topics are remarkably fresh. His struggles to catch the attention of a soda jerk behind the counter ring true with anyone who’s waited in line at Starbucks, and an essay discussing when letter-writing was a youthful fad will instantly make you think of today's social media, especially the fictional letter of a young lady scribbling madly while she's hauled off by a band of cutthroats.

"Not three feet away from me is the odious person before described," his fictional Clarissa says, "Now he is threatening me with renewed vigor!" Hello, Twitter.

The last book on today’s list is a bit of a cheat, since it’s by H.G. Wells, but the title alone makes it worthwhile. LITTLE WARS: A GAME FOR BOYS FROM TWELVE YEARS OF AGE TO ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY AND FOR THAT MORE INTELLIGENT SORT OF GIRL WHO LIKES BOYS’ GAMES AND BOOKS is basically a D&D guidebook for its time, covering tabletop (and larger staged) military gaming. This caught my eye because of the title, and not because it’s too long to tweet. Amid today’s ongoing discussion about girl geeks and gamers, here’s one of the masters of science fiction stating 100 years ago that not only are there girl gamers, they’re smart, too. The book has illustrations, and it’s a nice slice of history for any gamer who’s battled their friends with maps and pewter figures. So hey, Felicia Day? H.G. Wells has your back.

Next up on my wayback reading list: a selection of cheesy, weird and gripping science fiction! Set your phasers to "Whaaa?"

          Zombie love   

You gotta hand it to zombies; they just won’t die. For years I’ve heard that zombies are out, they’re done, any projects featuring zombies are the last pathetic gasps of an unfortunate trend. Yet they shamble on in hordes, eating our brains (and our cash) with new books, movies and games. Why? They’re just so damn versatile. You can have your serious, scary zombie fetish with AMC’s The Walking Dead, or lighten up with something goofy and fun like the new #1 motion picture this week, Warm Bodies. I tend to fall with comedy rather than carnage, but the undead can do it all. 

I visited a couple of bookstores this weekend, and both were awash in zombie culture, from undead bling just in time for V-Day (necklace shown is one I spotted at Hastings) to a staggering number of books, including the Art of War for Zombies. Of course, I’m partial to the Zombie Tarot by author Stacey Graham, but even I was truly impressed by the number of books out there. If there’s an established brand or idea, you can bet your brains that a zombie version is out there. 

How did the craze happen? I’ve heard all kinds of explanations, from the country’s mental state during a post-911 world and undead economy to the fact that zombies make perfect scapegoats in today’s overly politically correct atmosphere. No one complains if you blast a zombie, unless you don’t finish the job, and then all they can say is “Unnnnhhhhh.”

Whatever the reason, it looks like zombies have turned from trend to paranormal mainstay. No matter how you prefer them, either comic, romantic or terrifying, stock up on some undead pop culture while you’re filling the basement with cans of mixed vegetables. At this rate, if the zombie apocalypse actually happens, we’re likely to be unimpressed because we’ve already seen it, read it, and bought the bling.

          Never Too Old for Catwoman   

The stereotype of girls never going into comic book stores has always irked me a bit. I’ve shopped in those stores for twenty years, and I remember seeing other females in there, too. Part of my cynical brain says, “Hey, when people say that, they’re making a derogatory comment and inferring that “hot” girls are never in there, not normal chicks who just want the latest issue of Groo or Batman.”

Yeah, well…point taken. I was never in that category, but I’m now in a new rare group: forty-something women who go out in public to buy comics. I get a variety of stares when I do this, from the quizzical to the pitiful. Because so many comic book stores have come and gone in my time (I counted six different locations in the last fifteen years or so) I buy my comics now at the local Hastings. They have a decent selection, a nice back-issue collection, and they actually stock more than one copy of Previews. They also have the book side, so I figured I would see more women my age indulging in comics.

Eh, not so much. Yesterday I had the latest Wonder Woman and a copy of Non-Sport Update in my hands as I perused all the new “John Carter of Mars” spin-offs when I saw her: she was about my age, maybe a few years older. She was between the Captain America aprons and the first rack of back issues when we locked gazes; I smiled in recognition of a fellow comics fan. She gave me a once-over as if she were preparing to describe me to police later, and rushed off to herd her daughter away from the stoner t-shirt section. The John Wayne commemorative cup she clutched in a death grip should have been a clue, I guess.

The thing is, comic books have been around for a long time, and some people don’t see them as just a distraction for the kids. They’re part of a satisfying life for fans, and those fans will get older. More of them these days are women. Passers-by may think being a comic fan or a D&D fan or a anime fan is creepy after a certain age, but we still feel sixteen on the inside. So if you see a middle-aged, goofy-looking woman slowly browsing comics, remember this: I’m not after your kids. I just want the latest issue of Catwoman.

Photo credit: Flickr/ShellyS

          Toffee Socks   
Somehow I managed to put myself in a position where everytime I went to go start a project my mind went "hey you haven't given Salvbard a pair of socks in a while." Thanks brain, but it turns out that is just because I wasn't finishing any. I just kept absentmindedly starting new pairs instead. The good news is that he will get several pair at once as a result. The first pair are the Toffee socks I had mentioned last month.

Needles: US 1 / 2.25 mm
Pattern: cuff down, heel flap, wedge toe
Yarn: Lion Brand Sock-Ease Prints in the color Toffee
Yarn Supplier: Michael's

These were very straightforward. I knit then 2-at-a-time cuff down via magic loop, with a 2 by 2 rib, heel flap heel and wedge toe. And while I didn't find this yarn particularly exciting, Salvbard does, which is all that matters.

          Stripley socklets   
A project I did not even had time to mention before finishing them was this pair of quick socklets for myself. I had needed a no-brainer project and so had cast-on this pair from a single unloved 50g ball of self-striping in my stash.

Yarn: mystery wool-nylon blend
Needles: US 1 / 2.5 mm
Pattern: Riverbed Master Pattern with heel modifications (see below)
Pattern Source: New Pathways for Sock Knitters by Cat Bordhi

Since I had cast these on toe-up from either end of the ball, the stripes are technically in opposite directions, which you probably would not notice unless it is pointed out (ahem like right now). Fortunately this does not trouble me in the slightest, and since these are so small they are just for me.

I had a lot of fun with the heel shaping, which was a modification from Cat Bordhi's original listed in the pattern. I can't imagine her as anything but pleased with people experimenting and trying something different though. Here I did the gusset stitches as in the original pattern, which I find particularly elegant as evidenced that I chose it again after using it twice before. Then I made a small heel turn and added short rows. The result is a heel that actually fits very well. I am super glad I did these two-at-once though in order to ensure they are identical in design though!

          Blog Post: Help! Pod-People Have Kidnapped our Hero!   

I know I'm dating myself a bit with this, but I remember playing the original Thief once upon a time. It was a neat change of pace from what I'd played previously, and a game centered around sneaking (yes, yes, it's the grandfather of all roguelikes, I know, etc etc.). It was also amusing and a world that could drag you into it with the main character's snarky personality and his interesting and sometimes goofy adversaries.

Where did it go?

This new game is like a mirror-world version of the original. Garrett the New is a growly sadsack who takes himself way too damn seriously (to the point that his seriousness overshadows his actual words and turns whatever he's saying into an incomprehensible mumble/growl, to say nothing of the vocal cue glitches). All the enjoyable snarky humor must have been sucked out of him during his year long magically-induced slumber, I guess. While the levels seem huge, they're a lot more pseudo-linear than the old sprawling estates, with points of no return hidden without warning that say "nope, you can't go back THERE, now move on." These make the levels a little hard to explore to your heart's content, especially now that the guards don't actually patrol but instead wander to specific points, then back again. This is kind of compounded with the audio issues, with footsteps three or four corridors away sounding like they're about to goose-step over your spine.

The world is kind of weird now, too. Gone are the drunken guards and fussy nobles, and in their place the Video Game Assholes Guild has moved in and set up shop (seriously, how many games are going to have police/guards/soldiers be evil dickholes for the sake of being evil dickholes?) I know "the masses are oppressed" is kind of a popular plot point right now, but this is getting just a little silly (yes, I know that's more a criticism of game industry at large over this specific game, but it's still relevant). Probably another question that should be asked is "why do we care?" Garrett has always been a singular individual; he's there to steal stuff and make money (because that's what he's good at), so why in the world would he care about the "plight of the people" (or a certain tagalong sidekick who gets the Alphonse Elric treatment, ahem)? We're talking about Garrett here, not Robin Hood. 

To be fair, the game does have it's good points. The "effect arrows" (an old Thief staple) are back, happily. The guard takedowns (not kills, but knockouts) are neat (until you get bored of them, but that's more an issue with pre-rendered takedown cinematics than this game specifically). And it is nice that the game encourages you to be stealthy and use your brain instead of run'n'gun(er, bow) your way through every problem. I've heard complaints about the simplistic combat system, but that's...well, that's kind of the point. It's Thief, not an action title. Garrett knows how to use a sword, yes, but he'd much rather not have to. Getting caught is the game's "You *** up" mallet, and the point is to run the hell away, not make like it's suddenly Pirates of the Caribbean, Landlubber Edition (that's what the Assassin's Creed games are for).

All in all, Thief isn't the nostalgic return that it was advertised to be. This new entry in the series has taken the old humor and dry wit and washed it down to be drab and serious and...well, boring. Putting aside the audio glitches, the game seems to want to be another game with a coating of Thief-paint, and just sort of fails at it.

          Voices of Women with Host Kris Steinnes: Reclaim the Magic. How to heal with your inner wounds and have a clear plan of action on how to shift your life energy.    
EpisodeReclaim the Magic literally brings Magic back into reader’s mental outlook of life. Some call it a “Brain Builder” because it gives them a strong road map to a healthy and prosperous life. It helps the readers come fully into the present where their real point of power is in this life.  Lee teaches people about their daily life currency. That currency consists of five types of energy:  mental, physical, emotional, spiritual and financial. To truly heal your life you must understand ...
          Voices of Women with Host Kris Steinnes: Encore: Lisa Garr from the Aware Show discusses her new book, Becoming Aware   
GuestIn her never-before-revealed story, discover the life changing events that led Lisa Garr from her near-death experience, leaving her without the ability to say even a few words, to become a TV, radio and Internet sensation with a vision and a passion for changing lives with The Aware Show! After suffering her traumatic brain injury, Lisa learned visualization and mental exercises from thegreatest personal development masters in the world, with over 40 exercises included in this book.The same ...
          Voices of Women with Host Kris Steinnes: Lisa Garr from the Aware Show discusses her new book, Becoming Aware   
GuestIn her never-before-revealed story, discover the life changing events that led Lisa Garr from her near-death experience, leaving her without the ability to say even a few words, to become a TV, radio and Internet sensation with a vision and a passion for changing lives with The Aware Show! After suffering her traumatic brain injury, Lisa learned visualization and mental exercises from thegreatest personal development masters in the world, with over 40 exercises included in this book.The same ...
          Voices of Women with Host Kris Steinnes: Sleep Your Fat Away, Train Your Brain to Lose Weight Effortlessly with Joy Martina, Ph.D.   
GuestBrain-training experts Joy Martina, Ph.D., and her husband Roy Martina, M.D, are co-creators of Sleep Your Fat Away, a groundbreaking approach to weight loss, and co-authors of the comprehensive, step-by-step guidebook Sleep Your Fat Away (Morgan James) coming to Amazon in April 2015. Joy and Roy are passionate about health, longevity and fitness. They describe themselves as health food lovers, exercise maniacs and happiness addicts who never go to bed angry or stressed. Visit www.SleepYour ...
          Voices of Women with Host Kris Steinnes: Sleep Your Fat Away, Train Your Brain to Lose Weight Effortlessly with Joy Martina, Ph.D.   
GuestBrain-training experts Joy Martina, Ph.D., and her husband Roy Martina, M.D, are co-creators of Sleep Your Fat Away, a groundbreaking approach to weight loss, and co-authors of the comprehensive, step-by-step guidebook Sleep Your Fat Away (Morgan James) coming to Amazon in April 2015. Joy and Roy are passionate about health, longevity and fitness. They describe themselves as health food lovers, exercise maniacs and happiness addicts who never go to bed angry or stressed. Visit www.SleepYourF ...
          Voices of Women with Host Kris Steinnes: Reclaim Your Brain with Dr. Galina Siergiejczyk and Make Me An Instrument: Artists in Service with Erin McGaughan   
GuestDr. Galina Siergiejczyk will share her take on the cutting edge findings about the neuroscience of the human brain and its yet-to-be-harnessed capabilities. What is keeping you away from living your full potential now? Is it doubt, stress, lack of time, an army of internal critics, dull brain, and exhaustion? Or is it all of the above? In this interview, we will explore the alternative solutions to disciplining yourself through tasks, by looking at creative genius that arises spontaneously i ...
          Voices of Women with Host Kris Steinnes: Accidents of Marriage with Author Randy Susan Meyers   
GuestExploring emotional abuse and traumatic brain injury with unblinking honesty, ACCIDENTS OF MARRIAGE is a blindingly clear and immediately engaging account of life inside of a marriage and the choices that can make the difference between living in hell and salvation.
          Voices of Women with Host Kris Steinnes: Regina Cates, author of Lead with Your Heart: Creating a Life of Love, Compassion and Purpose   
GuestIn our left-brain dominated world of logic and ego, where it can be easy to get caught up in the rat race of success and living up to other people's expectations of us, author Regina Cates says we have forgotten the importance of the heart. And to "right the ship," she maintains that it's not enough to just follow your heart, you have to lead with it.
          Sheep, lemmings, etc...   
Obsession is a dangerous thing... The cult of the iPod totally confuses me: it is a device that has a very high volume of competitors, often with superior products and despite the negative press (battery life, locking you in to iTunes), people continue to buy the thing.

Now, Apple have released the iPhone and again the lemmings are let out. This is a phone that's one innovation is the built in tilting mechanism, other than that it offers nothing and in some respects is a retrograde step (e.g. lack of 3G, vendor-locked service provider, etc). By the looks of it, there is again no way of changing the battery so within 18 months, users will have dead phones as good old memory effect will make them useless.

I am sure people will continue to buy them irrespective of how good the product is or the company's ethics. Wonder if Steve Jobs will ever get round registering Apple as a religion? He does a better brainwashing job than the Moonies.
          Voices of Women with Host Kris Steinnes: Finding Your Sacred Language Art Workshop with Lydia Ruyle, and Resilience Through Laughter Yoga with Kym Gordon-Cumbo.   
GuestArt, symbols, myths, archetypes are treasures to explore. Join the Feminine Muses and creative spirits to find your own symbolic soul language with Lydia Ruyle. She will show and tell Herstories of Goddess Icon Spirit Banners. Each participant will create their own khata / prayer scarf / banner. The group will share their Herstories and invest the scarves with sacred energy in a short ritual. Kym will share how Images connect us with the right side of the brain that is intuitive, artistic an ...
          Voices of Women with Host Kris Steinnes: Use your voices to open and expand your ability to perceive from your hearts with Sound Healers Mosa Baczewska and Vickie Dodd, along with Claudine Yue.   
GuestWe will explore topics on the theory and physics of sound, how the voice creates waves, sound as opener and carrier wave, and the power of the heart. We will learn how to consciously activate our heart brain and to perceive the infinite possibilities of listening from the heart field. Personalize Your Own Feminine Empowerment Plan. Dive deep into knowing and learning from these wise inner guides: Fiery Diva activates confidence, body knowing and encourages self-power. Wise Woman shares inner ...
          Voices of Women with Host Kris Steinnes: Empower the Right Brain Cultivate a More Artful Life with Pat Fox, Ph.D. and The New Feminine Mystique Thriving in Your Sexual Power with Luminessa Enjara.   
GuestPat Fox will share how the Right-Brain experiences reality in a very different way than the Left-Brain. By providing some structure and specific techniques to the Right-Brain experience, we can strengthen its stamina. The result is that the more interconnected, intuitive, creative forces that we all have can become a bigger part of our everyday lives. Luminessa Enjara will show how the New Feminine Mystique is a new way for women to use their sexual power. Women have for thousands of years u ...
          The CSIC discover new clues about schizophrenia   

According to the study, this gene encodes a family of receptor protein tyrosine kinases. Said gene is expressed at a very specific inhibitory neuron specific population and, therefore, is related to the connections to be produced between them.

The cerebral cortex is the most complex region of the brain and is responsible for the ability of reasoning, language and social behavior. CSIC researcher at the Institute of Neuroscience (joint CSIC and the University Miguel Hernández) Beatriz Rico, co-director of research, says: "The proper functioning of these processes depends ultimately neuronal connections, known as synapses ".

Synaptic connections are of two types: inhibitory and excitatory. In this case, the gene associated with the disease is related to inhibitory synapse neurons and is "fundamental to these neurons receive and conduct their normal number of connections," CSIC researcher adds.

The experiments, conducted in mice in which the gene is silenced ErbB4, showed that its absence causes a disproportionate increase in activity and synchronization of excitatory neurons. For his part, CSIC researcher at the same center as Rico and research co Oscar Marin says that "such alteration very accurately reproduces some of the changes in brain activity that occur in patients with schizophrenia." These changes are, in turn, related to cognitive deficits that characterize the disease.

According to Marin, "it is necessary to better understand the causes of a disorder as complex as this in order to design rational therapeutic approaches, as it only may provide efficient drug if you really know what exactly what goes wrong in the brain of a patient with this disease. "

  • Isabel del Pino, Cristina García-Frigola, Nathalie Dehorter, Jorge R. Brotons-Mas, Efrén Álvarez-Salvado, María Martínez de Lagrán, Gabriele Ciceri, María Victoria Gabaldón, David Moratal, Mara Dierssen, Santiago Canals, Oscar Marín, and Beatriz Rico. Erbb4 Deletion from Fast-Spiking Interneurons Causes Schizophrenia-like Phenotypes. Neuron. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2013.07.010

Fotografía By LadyofHats (English original); Josell7 (Spanish translation) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

          Novel therapy to treat advanced Parkinson   

The 10% of patients diagnosed with Parkinson 's have advanced disease when the majority does not adequately respond to oral drugs available and suffers severe disability , reaching suffer behavioral disorders , cognitive disorders , or impaired balance and gait.

As Parkinson 's disease progresses , the patient loses autonomy , becoming increasingly dependent and generating an overload on the caretaker, who was forced to leave just other life activities . In these stages , the benefits to the patient advanced treatments positively influence the quality of life of their caregivers , as they give the patient more autonomy .

Specifically incorporated by therapy involves administering Hospital of continuous intraduodenal infusion of levodopa / carbidopa, intraduodenally via a catheter which allows the substance may be released continuously over time , favoring customized treatment . Thanks to its gel formulation , this drug achieves greater stability of the patient , reducing the motor and nonmotor symptoms of the disease, resulting in improved quality of life and gain autonomy.

The fact that the treatment is administered via continuous intraduodenal is an important advance for patients suffering from this disease : management form allows you to have an effect that remains constant over time in the right dose for each patient.

Dr. Maria Boscá , Gandia Hospital neurologist , highlighted the multidisciplinary collaboration between Neurology and Gastroenterology services to the implementation of this treatment. " The involvement of neurologists and nurses with extensive experience in Parkinson's disease as well as close collaboration Digestive service ( charge of performing percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy - PEG - to place the probe on the patient) is essential to the correct time treatment implementation . in this sense the work conducted multidisciplinary Gandia Hospital has been excellent , "he concludes .

About Parkinson's disease

Parkinson 's Disease ( PD) is a neurodegenerative disease of the central nervous system that affects the area in charge of coordinating the activity and muscle tone and movement. It is estimated to affect 150,000 people in Spain , - nearly 11,000 in the Region - , and is expected to be increasing due to the progressive aging of the population. This neurodegenerative disorder , the second most common cause is unknown and chronic and progressive course .

PE occurs when cells in the area of ​​the brain called the " substantia nigra " , stop working and die. These cells are responsible for producing a substance called dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter , or chemical messenger that transmits information to areas of the brain that control movement and coordination . In patients with PD , the dopamine-producing cells begin to die , causing the reduction of the neurotransmitter in certain brain structures and results in the appearance of motor symptoms ( tremor, rigidity , slowness of movement ... ) and non-motor (depression , anxiety , sleep problems , digestive disorders etc).

As the disease progresses, conventional drugs lose effectiveness , making necessary the use of advanced therapies ( deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus or continuous infusions of levodopa or apomorphine ) . The benefits these therapies positively affect patient quality of life , to improve symptoms of the disease and reduce side effects of oral medications.

Source : Press release

          Reducing brain damage after stroke   

The new method, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, is based on reducing brain damage significantly reducing the concentration of glutamate, the excitatory neurotransmitter agent used by neurons to communicate with the brain.

Stroke, as stroke are among the leading causes of death and disability worldwide, yet there are no effective therapeutic measures. Brain damage is caused by the uncontrolled release of glutamate from the cell, which in large quantities is very toxic to neurons.

The therapeutic, tested in animals, is based on reducing glutamate levels in the blood by a peritoneal dialysis employed, for example, to treat kidney failure. The result is a lowering of the levels of the toxic agent in the interstitial fluid of the brain. According to investigators, the peritoneal dialysis has the advantage that can be implemented when the patient reaches the hospital.

"Though we are required relevant clinical trials, the simplicity and effectiveness of this therapeutic strategy makes transfer to clinical practice might come up in a short time," says Juan Lerma, CSIC researcher at the Institute of Neuroscience in Alicante , a joint center of the CSIC and the University Miguel Hernández. "Reducing the levels of glutamate in the blood can reach brain drain areas where there is high," said Labour directors José Sánchez-Prieto, Hospital Universitario de La Princesa, and Ignacio Lizasoain, Complutense University of Madrid .

  • Godino MC, Romera VG, Sánchez-Tomero JA, Pacheco J, Canals S, Lerma J, Vivancos J, Moro MA, Torres M, Lizasoain I y Sánchez-Prieto J. Amelioration of ischemic brain damage by peritoneal dialysis, J Clin. Invest. DOI: 10.1172/JCI67284.

Fotografía By Bobjgalindo (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

          Out of a coma after suffering a traffic accident   

" In clinical practice there is no pharmacological protocol to treat these patients . From our service we have developed a protocol based on our own clinical experience , which so far has reported very satisfactory results , "according to Joan Ferri said Service Director .

Zolpidem , a sleep drug was administered accidentally in South Africa to a patient in persistent vegetative state in 2000 , causing a paradoxical effect spectacular , which was that the patient " woke up" and spoke for three hours to drug intake . "We talked about paradoxical effect when it appears the opposite effect than expected after taking a drug ," explains the medical coordinator Moliner Bethlehem .

"Given the poor prognosis and minimal neurological responses found in patients , the benefit / risk when using the drug, is clearly positive , which in our department decided to do a clinical trial, to give us the basis for a pharmacological protocol " .

" Since the service is applying this therapy with patients which are valued daily with specific scales , before and after taking the drug . The neurological responses sought are visual tracking and fixing , be able to discern between two objects shown , to respond with cephalic turn to the pronunciation of his name, and photographs distinguish their closest relatives, among other things , "says clinical director Colomer Carolina .

The neurologist Henry Noah explains that " this experience has allowed us to start creating a drug treatment protocol for patients with Low Status Syndrome Awareness Vigil and no response , that every day in rehabilitation work with our patients , allowing them greater "speed " in the output of hitherto existing responses . The results are successful , and many patients who have started working with us in such neurological conditions , manage to overcome them . "


In Spain there were last year 2012 , 1,179 fatal accidents on interurban roads , and 6,161 were seriously injured . According to the Spanish Federation Brain Injury ( FEDACE ) around 6,000 people are discharged from Spanish hospitals with head injuries that are caused by traffic accidents. Approximately 10 % of patients who have suffered a serious head injury after the first month is without regaining consciousness .

          The strangest human prostheses   

Fortunately, science advances is an outrage and surprise us with prostheses of all kinds, here are five more strange that there.

Penile prosthesis

For men with congenital or erectile dysfunction, a penile implant can suponerles a radical change in their lives. Some of these prostheses are simply creating a rigid rod always erect penis, but others use a pump that can be filled or emptied of liquid the prosthesis depending on the situation.

Prosthetic nose

Scientists at the University of London have developed a prosthetic nose complete with mucous membranes and small blood vessels. To manufacture, take a mold of the original nose of the person and a glass mold creating a polymer backbone. Cells are added to the bone marrow nose shape to grow on it, by surgical implantation in the patient's arm. Finally, the prosthesis is attached to the face by reconnecting blood vessels hundred.

Octopus Arm

For those who are bored with monotonous human arms, designer Kaylene Kau, University of Washington, has developed a prosthetic arm that curls around objects, such as an octopus tentacle. The arm is filled cables and powered by motors so it may hold a variety of objects.

Functional Eyeball

Several researchers have developed visual prostheses that are light years ahead of traditional glass eyes and someday could help blind people see again. So far, only one company, Second Sight, has received FDA approval for bionic eyes. This system uses a tiny camera to see the world and a team that converts data into electrical signals that the brain can interpret.

Mermaid Tail

Nadia Vassey lost both legs at the knee as a child and since then always dreamed of somehow being able to swim in the sea, after much thought decided to write to the company to request Wetta Wokshop creating a novel and interesting prosthesis to help her swim. The company will build a real mermaid tail.

          Voices of Women with Host Kris Steinnes: How Can We Awaken the Brain? Dr. Charlotte Tomaino   
GuestInAwakening the Brain, Tomaino draws from her personal experience as a neuropsychologist and former nun to demonstrate how the way you think and what you believe can actuallyawakenyour brain and expand your consciousness.The brain is a remarkably adaptable, malleable and resilient organ.With over 30 years of clinical experience in treating brain injuries, Tomaino knows all about these extraordinary abilities and how to access them.
          Baby's cries could be related to health   

To further explore the origin of tears, Brown University researchers have created a tool for the analysis of the sound of crying baby that could provide clues about the crying patterns that may indicate health problems.

Crying Analyzer can perceive small variations in crying that the human ear can not detect. These variations can be used to identify potential neurological or developmental disorders, according to researchers.

The system could identify problems in premature babies, growing slower than normal, or have been exposed to drugs, says Dr. Lester, a member of the research team.
Crying Analyzer is a standard digital voice recorder that captures the crying baby attached to a computer program that analyzes the sounds and extracts a set of information about their acoustic characteristics.

Crying Analyzer measures subtle variations of crying baby that may suggest brain problems or nervous system. In addition to frequency, the system can measure other characteristics of tears, such as intensity, time and distortion.

Dr. Lester says the crying analyzer can not detect specific mental problems. "It's not like a blood test," he said, rather, would be like a red flag that a baby may have problems.

A baby's brain is very plastic: its development is largely determined by the home environment during the first years of life. Mourn social functions as a signal that affects how parents respond, concludes Dr. Lester.

After honing and put the finishing touches to the system, Dr. Lester and his colleagues plan to offer it for free online, as they wish to be used widely.

A Flexible Analysis Tool for the Quantitative Acoustic Assessment of Infant Cry.  Brian Reggiannini, Xiaoxue Li, Harvey F. Silverman. LEMS, School of Engineering, Box D, Brown University, Providence, RI. Stephen J. Sheinkopf, Barry M. Lester. Center for the Study of Children at Risk, Brown Alpert Medical School, Women and Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, Providence, RI


Picture By Crimfants ( [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons


          Discovered new therapeutic target   

Scientists have analyzed in mice genomic profiles of various epigenetic marks of chromatin, the set of DNA and proteins found in the nucleus of eukaryotic cells in response to a family of drugs, inhibitors of histone deacetylase enzymes ( HDACi), which could represent an effective tool for the treatment of diseases affecting the nervous system.

The study describes the impact of the genomic level profiles HDACi in histone acetylation, a process related to the regulation of gene transcription or expression. "Taken together, our results illuminate both the relationship between gene expression and histone acetylation, as the mechanisms of action of these drugs neuropsychiatric" CSIC researchers say Angel Boat and Jose Lopez, who work at the Institute of Neuroscience ( joint CSIC and the University Miguel Hernández).

In a second study published in The Journal of Neuroscience, researchers have determined first genome-wide epigenetic alterations associated with Huntington's disease and its relationship failures genome expression also observed in this disease hereditary degenerative disease of the brain.

"The result of these experiments has revealed that defects in transcription and histone acetylation are two independent manifestations of the disease affecting a large number of genes, but that converge in a small number ofgenes," says CSIC researcher Luis Miguel value.

"These genes altered in both processes are particularly important to the development of the disease and therefore represent new targets for the development of drugs or therapies" adds Angel Barco. The study also provides new clues to understanding the mechanism of action of HDACi drugs in the treatment of Huntington's disease allowing therefore improve its specificity.



  • Jose P. Lopez-Atalaya, Satomi Ito, Luis M. Valor, Eva Benito, y Ángel Barco. Genomic targets, and histone acetylation and gene expression profiling of neural HDAC inhibition. Nucl. Acids Res. DOI:10.1093/nar/gkt590.
  • Valor LM, Guiretti D, López-Atalaya JP, Barco A. Genomic landscape of transcriptional and epigenetic dysregulation in early onset polyglutamine disease. Journal of Neuroscience. DOI: 33(25):10471-10482.

Fotografía: This work has been released into the public domain by its author, brian0918. This applies worldwide.

          Voices of Women with Host Kris Steinnes: Gorillas In Your Midst: How to Train Your Brain to Achieve Your Goals with Expert Cathy Demers   
GuestIf you have set goals only to come up short and faced disappointment, you know why most folks never set goals again, and why those who do continue to be frustrated by lack of progress. But there's a secret to setting goals you need to know about. Once you know it your goals will work harder for you than you do to achieve them After you learn from Cathy, you will never look at goal setting the same way again, and that's a very good thing
          Food in pregnancy and risk of autism in baby   

The study found that women who took much linoleic acid in their diet - a type of omega-6 fatty acid found in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds - had a 34% lower chance of giving birth to a child with autism compared to women who consumed low levels of this nutrient.

In addition, women with a diet low in omega-3 fatty acids, mainly present in fish, they had a 53% greater chance of having a child with autism compared to women who ate fish regularly.

The study shows only an association, not a cause-effect relationship between the consumption of fatty acids in pregnant women and a lower risk of giving birth to a child with autism. Furthermore, the study involved few women so further research will be needed to confirm the results.

According to the researchers, the reason for this association is unknown, it has been shown that this type of fatty acids are very important for fetal brain development. The fatty acid supply is used by the fetus toward the end of pregnancy, and is required for the first two months of life.

It is recommended that pregnant women take about 200 milligrams of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) per day.

The researchers found that eating high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids did not reduce further the risk of autism compared to women taking average quantities. This means that the deficit of omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy may increase the risk of autism, but the excess does not provide extra benefit.

The researchers took into account other factors that might influence the risk of autism, such as maternal age, total calorie intake and consumption of snuff during pregnancy but it is possible that other factors not included in the study could explain these results.

Kristen Lyall, Kassandra L. Munger,  Éilis J. O'Reilly, Susan L. Santangelo y Alberto Ascherio.  Maternal Dietary Fat Intake in Association With Autism Spectrum Disorders.  American Journal of Epidemiology, 27 Junio 2013.

Photo by ayako  licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

          Investigated substance to slow brain deterioration   

Now researchers say they have found a way to mimic the beneficial effects of this caloric restriction in the brain with a new drug.

This drug activates an enzyme in brain cells and, as demonstrated in the study, thus delaying cognitive impairment associated with aging and Alzheimer's disease the loss of nerve cells that occurs during aging.

This research was conducted in mice, but opens the way for scientists to develop drugs that prevent deterioration of human brain function.

Most previous research on caloric restriction has been performed in mice and other laboratory animals, but human studies have shown that calorie restriction can improve memory in older people.

In the new study, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology focused on how calorie restriction affect brain cells. Showed that a 30% caloric restriction in mice increases levels of an enzyme in the brain and slows nerve cell loss that can accompany brain function decline.

Later, the researchers mimicked caloric restriction, mice fed a normal diet, but they simultaneously suministaron a drug that blocks the enzyme. These mice maintained a proper functioning of brain cells and obtenian good results on cognitive tests, like the mice that were fed a diet low in calories.

The study is the first to show that the benefits of caloric restriction on cognitive function is associated with fewer neuron degeneration. This is also the first demonstration of a synthetic molecule that mimics the benefits of caloric restriction.

If calorie restriction can increase life expectancy of humans is not clear. The increase in life expectancy has been shown in studies with mice and other research organizations such as worms. But studies are underway, and have been around for over 20 years, in monkeys have had conflicting results.

Picture By lifesciencedb.BrianMSweis at en.wikipedia [CC-BY-SA-2.1-jp], from Wikimedia Commons


          Cosleeping increases the risk of SIDS   

The increased risk of SIDS is higher in younger children. It was observed that among infants less than three months, those who slept with their parents had five times more likely to die of SIDS than babies who sleep separately in the same room even when considering only taking breast babies and whose mothers drank or smoked.

In children between 3 months and 1 year, the risk increased three times, according to the study.

The risk of sudden death associated with sleeping with parents further rises if the mother or her partner smokes or if the mother takes more than two drinks in the last 24 hours.

The researchers estimated that about 88 percent of SIDS deaths would not have occurred if the baby had not shared a bed.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:

Place the baby on a firm mattress to sleep and do not use pillows in the crib.
Keep daily recommended vaccines.
Ensure that the baby is not warm while sleeping.
No smoking, alcohol or drugs during pregnancy and baby avoid exposure to cigarette smoke.
Breast feeding, whenever possible.
Leave the baby sleeping with pacifier (If the baby refuses the pacifier, do not force it.)
Putting baby to sleep in the same room, but not in the same bed as the parents.

It is still unclear exactly what happens in SIDS. Researchers believe that in some cases the baby brain stem controls breathing, may not operate properly. If a baby with this risk factor is in an environment where there is not enough oxygen, may die.

          The challenges of aging   

The event has had three expert researchers in the field, among which are responsible for two of the Project Zero FGCSIC Aging grants: CSIC researcher at the Institute of Medical Chemistry Ana María Martínez Gil, Professor of Valladolid University Robert Homer, and the founder of the Institute of Government and Public Policy of the Autonomous University of Barcelona, ​​Joan Subirats.

Their interventions have been conducted by the director of the Social Action Department of Obra Social "la Caixa", Josep Olle, who presented the institution whose act has helped fund the Aging Project Zero to a million euros. Olle said that "one of the greatest challenges facing our society is the growing aging population, which is a success in our society, and an opportunity to propose new strategies to help improve the welfare of the elderly and their participation and full integration into society. " To do this, Ollé believes that "it is important to promote scientific research that fosters autonomy, personal development, health and quality of life."

The five projects implemented promote science excellence, unique and remarkable. Two of these thematic studies addressing psychosocial and three delve into specific aspects of the technology field. Some include, for example, game development and the use of home automation with the objective of promoting quality and healthy aging.

Project Zero on Aging

Worthplay. Video for positive aging: This research project led by Jose Angel Blat of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra is to analyze the design, development and evaluation of a prototype online games for seniors. It aims to create quality games that contribute to active aging, and improve the physical and psychosocial. During 2012, the project has developed an ethnography of the games with about 170 seniors, with different levels of digital literacy, and followed a code of ethics established by the international consortium project.

Brain Computer Systems Application Interface (BCI) to cognitive training and automation