Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Hobbit In Two Parts

The Hobbit Is On Tap For 2010 Release. Tap Dancing Time Folks.
By Lon S. Cohen

Looks like Peter Jackson will be doing the Hobbit after all and not in one movie but two. Drawing on the prolific works of J.R.R. Tolkien's notes that have been published posthumously Jackson will expand on the original book's events.

The Hobbit tracks the adventure of young Bilbo Baggins as he goes out into the big wide world of Middle Earth seeking adventure. It is, in a sense, a prequel to the Lord Of The Rings trilogy but in fact it was written first and LOTR was the follow up sequel. Billed as a children's book by many, The Hobbit movies are sure to be enhanced by the additional material and probably made a little darker by Jackson.

The kernel of the story is when Bilbo finds the One Ring of power in Gollum's cavernous home. There is also a battle with a dragon named Smaug, dealings with elves and trolls, and of course, Gandalf plays a major role. No word is available yet as to whether some of the original cast will return to reprise their roles.

The films are set to start production immediately and will be released in 2010 and 2011. This resolves a long-standing and infamous feud between the studio, New Line, and Jackson over the fate of The Hobbit. With the job he had done with LOTR, it would have been heresy to do this film without him. While Fran Walsh will executive produce along with Jackson, no director has been slated to take the reins but rumors abound.

Howard Shore, the composer who did such a brilliant job with the LOTR trilogy had been rumored on Ain't It Cool News to be toying with thematic ideas for the Hobbit music.

Sam Raimi, the Spiderman director is also pegged to be one of the possible directors. Personally, after the mess that was Spiderman 3, I'm not sure Raimi is the best man for the job of such a large epic story with many characters to keep track of. His specialty seems smaller, personal stories set on an epic backdrop, but perhaps that's the direction of this film. Who knows?

According to the official release, Peter Jackson said that he is "very pleased that we’ve been able to put our differences behind us, so that we may begin a new chapter with our old friends at New Line. ‘The Lord of the Rings’ is a legacy we proudly share with Bob and Michael, and together, we share that legacy with millions of loyal fans all over the world. We are delighted to continue our journey through Middle Earth. I also want to thank Harry Sloan and our new friends at MGM for helping us find the common ground necessary to continue that journey.”

MGM and New Line will finance and distribute the films together with New Line distributing in North America and MGM internationally.

“Peter Jackson has proven himself as the filmmaker who can bring the extraordinary imagination of Tolkien to life and we full heartedly agree with the fans worldwide who know he should be making ‘The Hobbit,’” said Sloan, MGM’s Chairman and CEO. “Now that we are all in agreement on ‘The Hobbit,’ we can focus on assembling the production team that will capture this phenomenal tale on film.”

Bob Shaye, New Line Co-Chairman and Co-CEO comments, “We are very pleased we have been able to resolve our differences, and that Peter and Fran will be actively and creatively involved with ‘The Hobbit’ movies. We know they will bring the same passion, care and talent to these films that they so ably accomplished with ‘The Lord of the Rings’ Trilogy."

The Oscar-winning, critically-acclaimed LOTR Trilogy grossed nearly $3 billion worldwide at the box-office. In 2003, “Return of the King” swept the Academy Awards, winning all of the eleven categories in which it was nominated, including Best Picture – the first ever Best Picture win for a fantasy film. The Trilogy’s production was also unprecedented at the time.

After this, Jackson can finish off by tackling The Silmarillion.

Lon S. Cohen is a copywriter and columnist. His company, AHA!, helps business communicate effectively on the web and beyond. Call him at (631) 371-9044 or email at aha@lonscohen.com.

Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, AHA! Put some AHA! into your business.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Hat

StarWarsShop.com - Indiana Jones Fedora Hat

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Soldier's Angel

Audrey Fitzpatrick is proud to have been a Soldier's Angel for over three years now. Soldier's Angels is an organization that has been supporting our nation's military men and women since 2003 with cards, letters and care packages. Audrey says she joined the community because she realized that the men going over to fight were her sons' age and she wanted to show them her support and love.

"Just think about that," she said. "Young men protecting me and my family overseas in a very scary place."

Many of the soldiers just need to hear a kind and supportive voice. What Audrey is doing provides an uplift for our soldiers, boosting morale, showing gratitude for a job well done and further still, helping to keep America safe by ensuring that our soldiers know what they do is important, thereby helping them do a better job.

"The Soldier's Angel motto is 'May no soldier go unloved' and as far as I am concerned I love them all," Audrey said.

Audrey is involved in more than just one cause. She backs up her words with any number of selfless deeds. She collects phone cards every month to send over to the troops so they can call home. Her care packages contain much needed supplies like special boots and even air conditioners. She sends items specifically requested by the soldiers, even snacks that the guys may be missing over there that can only come from home.

At the same time, she never forgets that there are families left behind when a soldier goes off to war. She has helped some soldiers and their families get insurance and doctor visits for their children. In one instance, Audrey went to her fellow employees at Edge Electronics and asked them to put a collection together for the family of a soldier who passed away and left behind a brand new baby. To honor the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice, Audrey visits Calverton Cemetery to put flags down for the fallen.

Another of Audrey's efforts enables everyone to be a part of the effort. Another favorite organization of hers is Fishers House. Supporting America's military in their time of need, Fishers House provide "a home away from home" that enables family members to be close to a loved one at the most stressful time -- during hospitalization for an illness, disease or injury.

"I ask everyone that is going to give me a gift to donate to Fisher
House in my name," she said. "Edge donated for my birthday."

Audrey Fitzpatrick does the work of ten people to help restore and support the soldiers and we are all very proud of her here at our company. Her actions stand as a symbol of what one person can do to help others in their time of need. She is an unsung hero in the war effort. But Audrey is very humble about the work she does. It took much wrestling to get her to come forth with all the details of her efforts. Her selflessness is a trait we admire and respect and wish to see her honored for her charitable work. Her actions within the many charitable organizations she belongs to and her personal efforts that she undertakes go a long way to cheer up those soldiers stationed thousands

For more information goto the Soldier's Angels Homepage.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

But For The Love Of God, Keep Shopping!

From The New York Times Webpage Bits:

Walmart.com to Customers: Stop Calling

By Katie Hafner

When it comes to customer service, who needs a human touch? Not Wal-Mart’s online customers, apparently.

As part of what Wal-Mart is calling its “Customer Contact Reduction” program, by next week, Walmart.com, the company’s online arm, will no longer give customers a toll-free phone number to call–or any phone number, for that matter–if they have a question. Instead, they will have to rely solely on the Wal-Mart Web site as their guide to the solution for whatever problem they might have, whether it is a question about a credit card charge or the status of an online order.

We’ve made a significant investment in the enhancement of our online customer “self-help” tool at Walmart.com to better serve our online customers,” said Amy Colella, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Yeah!


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Alicia Silverstone Naked PETA Ad

They say her 15 minutes is up but who cares? She still looks good naked, and that's all hat counts

Finally Proof. It's Bilogical.

I've been telling my wife this for years but now LiveScience has the proof:

Eyes Can't Resist Beautiful People

By Andrea Thompson, LiveScience Staff Writer

Whether we’re looking for someone to date or sizing up a potential rival, our eyes irresistibly lock on to good-looking people, a new study finds.

Read more at LiveScience

Here's :-) At You Kid

The :-) turns 25

First use of the emoticon took place 25 years ago in an electronic bulletin board message about online humor.

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- It was a serious contribution to the electronic lexicon. :-)

Twenty-five years ago, Carnegie Mellon University professor Scott E. Fahlman says, he was the first to use three keystrokes - a colon followed by a hyphen and a parenthesis - as a horizontal "smiley face" in a computer message.

Read More About :-)

Friday, September 14, 2007

News You Can Really Use! Funny Stuff From The Bing Blog.

10 things to do when you don’t feel like working (Employee Level)

1. Have an apple at your desk. Nobody will interrupt a person who is eating an apple. An apple a day keeps the bosses away.

2. Get three of the huge binders that financial people use to house their long, tedious spreadsheets. Put them under your arm and walk around the hallways with them. This may be a little tiresome after a while, but it beats working, right? Better still, people after a while will think you are actually a financial person and definitely leave you alone.

3. Find a meeting that marginally concerns you, or perhaps not even. Make sure it contains more than six people and, if possible, is badly lit because somebody is doing a Powerpoint presentation. Slide into a chair at the far end of the table, lean over to the person next to you and say, “Sorry I’m late.” Then sit for the duration of the meeting without saying anything, while taking notes. This is appropriate behavior for a person whose function at the meeting is unclear to everybody. After the meeting, hang around for a while straightening up your notes, saying hi, shaking hands, etc. When you return to your space, you can tell people you were “at a meeting,” and it will have been the truth. If your boss asks you why you were at a meeting about building security when you are actually in Information Technology, you say that you don’t know, really, and you have no intention of getting roped into another again. This will work.

4. Eat a banana at your desk. Nobody ever bothered anybody who was eating a banana. If the banana is your second piece of fruit for the day, make sure to have a document in front of you or something like that. You don’t want people think that all you do is sit around eating fruit all day like a monkey.

5. Defragment your hard drive. This takes several hours and incapacitates your computer for business use. It’s also good digital hygiene. If you work in a system that won’t allow you to defrag your hardware, try doing a complete system scan of some sort. You can then tell people you are annoyed at how long it is taking.

6. Some techniques that work for management (see yesterday’s entry) may work for you also. This includes the use of coffee. The only difference between you and an executive is how far you are allowed to ramble with your cup. Do NOT go off the floor. Stay relatively close to home and make sure you have a sheaf of paper in one hand so you can lean over the desk of a fellow goof-off and regard the documentation when necessary.

7. Don’t forget to take lunch. Everybody deserves a lunch. You have a right to it. So do not waste your lunch time by working at your desk unless you have a door. If you have a door, you can have lunch delivered, close your door and be perceived to be a hardworking person so busy that you don’t even have time to go out.

8. While it is very hard for sub-management to take naps, it can be done. While a simple associate, I used to sleep in my office on the floor with head against my closed door. That way if anybody opened the door it would hit me in the head, waking me dramatically so that I could then flip over and go about on my hands and knees muttering something like, “where’s that paperclip?” or something like that. Incredibly, I never got caught, perhaps because my bosses were napping at the same time. Another good technique is to sleep with your feet up on your desk only until the telephone rings. On busy days, that may be just two minutes. On quiet summer Fridays, however, you may need a bib.

9. Gatherings of like-minded associates in a public location — like the nearest conference room — often give the impression of business activity while involving very little. Obviously, on days when all the bosses are at boondoggles, getaways or other forms of executive indolence, your standards can be adjusted accordingly.

10. Don’t ever forget that, as a responsible employee, your right to goof off is directly proportional to your ability to deliver the goods on time, under budget, every time. Only the most superb performers can consistently goof off and get away with it. So sometimes, when you don’t really feel like working? Work anyhow, okay?

Stolen Directly From The Bing Blog.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

VMA Wha?

VMA Un Sexy

VMA Sexy II




VMA Sexy

Fashion Week: This Season's Must-Have -- A Stylin' Tot

Kingston.jpg

Gwen Stefani's son Kingston is hardly the only kid kickin' it at Fashion Week.

Article from Mediabistro.com's NY Fishbowl News Blog.

From the looks of things yesterday, forget about that new Fendi or Chanel bag: The must-have accessory of the season is an adorable -- and, of course, fashionably-dressed -- tyke. We counted six kiddies at the Michael Kors show and saw at least another half-dozen toddlers toted around the tents by their moms (and dads). Cosmo accessories editor Danielle Levy held 2 1/2-year-old daughter Gemma -- who was sporting pearls and a lace skirt -- on her lap in the fourth row.

Levy explained the tot's presence, saying, "It's Sunday, so I have no help." (Hubby was home with their other three-month-old daughter). In response to the influx of youngsters, one fashionista sniped, "Last season it was dogs, this season it's kids." Tell that to designer Reem Acra, who did her post-show runway bow toting a miniscule dog dressed in purple taffeta. Meow!

by Diane Clehane

What Is So Bad About That?

Bras Don't Support Bouncing Breasts, Study Finds

By Jeanna Bryner, LiveScience Staff Writer

Whether women are said to be flat-chested or big-busted, ordinary bras fall short when it comes to supporting bouncing breasts, a new study claims.

And during exercise, women's breasts bounce more than previously estimated, moving a vertical distance of up to around eight inches (21 centimeters) compared with a past maximum measurement of six inches (16 centimeters).

The bouncing, in some cases with breasts weighing 20 pounds or more, can prove painful and damaging to the limited natural support system.

While brassieres have evolved throughout history from body-binding corsets to cleavage-enhancing "miracle" bras, only recently have researchers injected a dose of science into the design of undergarments that go beyond conferring a more "perky" look, the researcher says.

"It is only recently that bra design has turned to science," said study author Joanna Scurr, a biomechanics professor at the University of Portsmouth in England. "There was no research. It’s like designing a car or kitchen equipment without first thinking 'what is the purpose of this?'"

Scurr will present her research this week at an annual meeting for the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences in Bath.

Read the rest of the article at LiveScience.

(The real problem is that they are not accepting any more applications for researchers. I already checked.)

L.S.C.

What they don't teach you at the Culinary Institute

This from CNN.com

Worker who prepped food underfoot fired, restaurant says

NANUET, New York (AP) -- Stomping on garlic with your shoes on is apparently not the correct way to prepare food.
art.garlic.stomp.barreto.jpg

Dan Barreto, who sometimes ate at Great China Buffet, took this picture of garlic being stomped.

The Rockland County health department hit the Great China Buffet restaurant with two violations after someone took pictures of an employee stomping on a bowl of garlic with his boots in an alley.

The photographer alerted health inspectors.

"I go back there, and the guy's stepping on garlic," said Dan Barreto, who used to eat at the restaurant. "There he was just jumping up and down on it, smashing it up, having a good time."

The health department does not consider a person's shoe or boot a proper instrument to use in food preparation, senior public health sanitarian John Stoughton said Tuesday.

"It was a novel way to prepare food," he acknowledged. Video Watch customers react to reports of the garlic-mashing technique »
advertisement

Great China Buffet owner Jiang Shu said the worker has been fired over the incident.

The health department said it would inspect the restaurant again.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Self Explainatory Post #1

Jane Wyman Dies

CNN Reports on Jane Wyman's Death.

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Jane Wyman, an Academy Award winner for her performance as the deaf rape victim in "Johnny Belinda," star of the long-running TV series "Falcon Crest" and Ronald Reagan's first wife, died Monday morning at 93.

Wyman

Jane Wyman won an Oscar for "Johnny Belinda" and appeared in the long-running TV show "Falcon Crest."

Wyman died at her Palm Springs home, said Richard Adney of Forest Lawn Memorial Park and Mortuary in Cathedral City. No other details were immediately available.

Wyman's film career spanned from the 1930s, including "Gold Diggers of 1937," to 1969's "How to Commit Marriage," co-starring Bob Hope and Jackie Gleason. From 1981 to 1990 she played Angela Channing, a Napa Valley winery owner who maintained her power with a steely will on CBS' "Falcon Crest."

Read More about Jane Wyman here.

Wyman starred int he classic film The Lost Weekend about a writer who drinks away a weekend because of writer's block. According to Wikipedia, the novel featured an accusation about a gay affair with the writer's friend as the reason for the man's drinking binge:

The Lost Weekend is an Academy Award-winning 1945 motion picture directed by Billy Wilder for Paramount Pictures, starring Ray Milland, Jane Wyman and Phillip Terry. The film was based on a novel of the same title by Charles R. Jackson about a writer who drinks heavily out of frustration over the accusation that he had an affair with one of his buddies while in college. The reference to the gay affair is removed in the film, and the main character's descent into an alcoholic binge is blamed on writer's block.

Also from Wikipedia: Although the movie adaptation hews closely to the novel, the novel differed in one crucial respect: Birnam is described in the novel as being tormented by a homosexual incident in college. That is omitted from the film.

Wyman won an Academy Award for her role as a deaf rape victim in the film Johnny Belinda. According to Wikipedia's page on the movie : The story is based on a real life incident that happened near Harris's summer residence in Fortune Bridge, Bay Fortune, Prince Edward Island. The title character is based on the real life of Lydia Dingwell (1852-1931), of Dingwells Mills, Prince Edward Island.


9/11

Monday, September 10, 2007

One Million Apples!

Well, Steve Jobs has done it again. Apple Inc. (AAPL) announced that it has sold One Million Apple iPhones since June 29th release. They beat their own estimates of selling a million phones by the end of September.

“One million iPhones in 74 days—it took almost two years to achieve this milestone with iPod,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We can’t wait to get this revolutionary product into the hands of even more customers this holiday season.”

Hey Stevie, if you have an extra one lying around let me know 'cause I want one.

It's not just me, the New York Times reported on the news about Apple's iPhones too.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

On A Clear Night You Can See Forver. Or At Least The Milky Way.

"Make the Stars Your Old Friends!" - Mike Lynch, Master Stargazing instructor.


The best place to look at the stars is wherever you happen to be. You can see stars from the most light-polluted area, even midtown New York City, if you stare long enough. The second best place to see the universe at night is from the beach at Montauk. On a clear night you will see more stars and objects in the sky than you probably have ever seen in your entire life. But in reality, you are only seeing a very small percentage of what is going on in the universe. Most of the interesting stuff is either too large, too small, too invisible or happening too slowly for our puny brains to comprehend or decipher. The ultimate adventure is one where we travel through time and space without ever moving a muscle. It can make you feel downright negligible in the scheme of things. (Sorta like how I feel after I do my tax returns.)

Let's start with the stuff you can see, shall we? First thing you see is the sand and the water. All that stuff and everything else that makes up the world is what we call matter. Matter is only about 4% of the entire Universe. That's it. The Grilled vegetables, roasted peppers, fresh mozzarella, balsamic dressing, lettuce & tomato on a French bread sandwich that you ate for lunch sounds like a lot of stuff, but it's miniscule compared to everything else. Feeling inconsequential yet?

Unfold your beach chair and sit. Ratchet it down to the lowest setting and relax. Let your eyes adjust to the darkness. Just like sailors get their sea legs, you need to get your sky eyes. It's a great magic trick because the longer you sit there staring at the sky, the more stars begin to pop out of the blackness. This is not actually happening but it is a phenomenon where you start seeing deeper into the night and your eyes adjust to let more light in, hence you start to see fainter stars.

The most obvious thing in the sky is a cloudy band that runs from north to south. This is the Milky Way. More than just a delicious chocolate bar, the Milky Way just happens to be the galaxy that we live in. What you are seeing is the light from stars deep in our galaxy's center. A dense concentration of stars makes this band glow in the night sky. Inside the Milky Way (of which that band is just a small part) are about 100 billion stars. Astronomers suggest that there are over 100 billion galaxies.

That's still only 4% of the entire Universe! The question that comes to mind is, "What the heck is the other 96% of the Universe made of?" Here's the answer: "We don't know!"

96% of the stuff out there is that we haven't figured out yet. We classify it as Dark Stuff. Or more accurately, Dark Matter, which makes up about 23% of the universe, and Dark Energy, which makes up about 73% of the universe.

But understanding the nature of the other 96% of the Universe is a beyond the scope of this article. We just care about the 4% of the Universe that we can see and understand; in other words, the stuff. Over your head you can see a good amount of that stuff with the naked eye; enough to make for an interesting evening.

Stars are what make this world interesting. Just look at the tabloids. If it weren't for stars, those magazines would have to write about something else. And as everyone knows, the best place to see a star is in the Hamptons.

The Big Dipper.

Most people will set up their chairs facing the water. If you are on the beach in Montauk, you're facing southeast. After you amaze yourself with the total incomprehension of the Milky Way for a while, the next thing you are likely to recognize is the Big Dipper. This will be in the northwestern area of the sky, just above the horizon behind you. By this time of year the Big Dipper is starting to dip a little below the horizon. It will be tilted downward, as if trying to spill out the contents in the bowl. The handle is made of three stars that go off toward the western horizon. If you're good enough, you can make out the entire Big Bear or Ursa Major.

The North Star.

After looking at the Big Dipper, you'll want to find the North Star. (Everybody does.) To do that you'll need to find the front of the Big Dipper's pot and trace a line from the two stars that make up the front, up in the direction of the very top of the sky overhead. Stop when you get approximately a fist's length away from the top of the pot and there sits the North Star, or Polaris. This is not the brightest star in the sky. Polaris has another claim to fame. It is a star that will always be in the northern sky no matter what the season. For all intents and purposes this is always going to be due north, which is why it is also called the "Pole Star." Because of the way the earth's rotation "wobbles" a little over thousands of years, this was not always so.

The Little Dipper.

Looking almost straight up but a little to the north, the North Star is actually the last star on the handle of The Little Dipper. Follow the stars in the handle to the pot and you will see this constellation as a tiny, upside down reflection of the Big Dipper. The Little Dipper is also called Ursa Minor, or The Little Bear.

Drago.

Find the tip or edge of the pot of the Little Dipper and then find the handle of the Big Dipper. In between is the tail of Drago, The Dragon. Drago winds his way between the Big and Little Dipper. In the tail, between the Dippers is the star Thuban. (Interestingly, Thuban was the Pole Star back in 2700 BC because the North Pole wobbles as the Earth rotates making the Pole Star change every few thousand years.) To find Drago's head, follow the tail as it goes south between the Dippers, then makes a turn to the east and then doubles back to the west. The Dragon ends up looking southwest, the head in the shape of a trapezoid.

Hercules.

If you think of Drago's face as being the flat part of its head pointing southwest, then Drago is facing his eternal mortal enemy in the sky, Hercules. Hercules is a large but faint constellation, mimicking the mythological figure who was himself, large and brawny but a little dimwitted. His "foot" is exactly on top of Drago's "head." It's a billion year battle and neither has flinched yet. Although I bet Drago is getting a bit of a headache right about now. This constellation is also in the shape of the letter "H" so that also makes it easier to spot. If you believe the ancients, then Hercules and Drago-named Ladon in the myth-fought each other as part of the Hero's Twelve Labors to atone for his sins. The eleventh Labor was to retrieve the Golden Apples of the Hesperides, a gaggle of Nymphs. In the course of this labor, Hercules had to slay Landon. Of course, now Hercules can get Apples from the Apple Store (trademark).

Lyra.

The Lyre, as Lyra is called, is the constellation that is almost exactly overhead. It lies to the east of Hercules and contains the star Vega. Vega is easy to spot because it is one of the brightest stars in the summer sky. A lyre is a sort of Harp, something you've probably seen a thousand times in any epic movie about the ancient Greeks or Romans. Lyra is thought to be the lyre that Hermes (Mercury) gave to Apollo, who bequeathed it to his son Orpheus. The Lyra was then placed into the sky when Orpheus died.

Cygnus.

Just to the east of Lyra is The Swan, Cygnus. This constellation is said to resemble a swan in flight and represents the god Phaethon, who was the son of Apollo. After taking his Dad's Chariot out for a joy ride, Zeus mistook the young lad for a thief and shot him with an arrow. When the gods found his body floating in a river they placed him in the sky among the stars. Let that be a lesson to you, you young whippersnappers! Inside of the constellation are the stars that make up the Northern Cross. The head of the cross, pointing north, is Deneb, a star that is 2600 light years away and about as bright as 160,000 of our suns! This is a true star among stars, a splendid naked eye, stargazing sight. Deneb was also a Pole Star about 18,000 years ago. The Swan actually looks like it is flying along the Milky Way from north to the south, with the star Deneb at the end of its tail.

Pegasus

Keep heading east and you will come to Pegasus, The Winged Horse. Now I've been to the Hampton Classic and let me tell you, wings or no wings, I just don't see it, so don't be too upset if you can make out a horse either. We are talking about the ancient world here so they had a lot more time on their hands to make stuff up. In any case, the square of Pegasus is supposed to be the body of Pegasus. After that, I'm lost.

The Andromeda Galaxy

Just north of the square body of Pegasus is a fuzzy little wisp called the Andromeda Galaxy. The wonderful thing about the Andromeda Galaxy is that at about 2.5 million light years away, it is the most distant object in the sky visible to the naked eye.

Here is a brief history of the observation of the Andromeda Galaxy. In 1764, a certain Charles Messier was creating a catalogue of the nebulous (cloudy) objects in the sky. He called the Andromeda Galaxy M31. In the first photographs of M31 taken by Isaac Roberts in 1887, the spiral structure of the galaxy was seen but it was still thought to be a nebula within our own galaxy. In 1917, Heber Curtis concluded through research that M31 was what was called at the time an "island universe." This theory said that the spiral nebulae were actually galaxies independent of our own. In 1925 the great astronomer, Edwin Hubble, (he who the famous Hubble Space Telescope was named after) measured objects within the M31 Nebula and concluded it was a galaxy outside of our own at a great distance away. M31 has played a starring role in the conclusive modern evidence of the structure of the universe. Even in the time when Albert Einstein was first putting together his Special Theory of Relativity in the early Twentieth Century, everyone believed that the Milky Way was all there was to the Universe. Now we know that the Universe is actually very, very vast-almost infinite-and made up of a structure of billions of galaxies that cluster together.

Pondering the Universe

The above examples of what can be seen outside in on a clear day are not even the tip of the iceberg. There are around 3,000 individual stars that can be seen in the night sky with the naked eye on a very clear night out in Montauk. You do not need to be a professional to enjoy the universe at night. All you need is a good view of the sky and a nice comfortable seat.

Here's a hint, when you are outside reading a star chart, use a red bulb flash light or cover your regular flashlight with red cellophane. This will reduce the glare of white light that will ruin your night vision. Also, pick a night when there is a crescent or even no moon. A full moon will ruin stargazing.

If you want to observe with any type of optical equipment then it is almost unanimous that the amateur start out with a pair of binoculars. Telescopes are hard to handle and can be frustrating to observe with. Binoculars are easy to carry just about anywhere, especially to the beach where it is almost impossible to get a stable area to set up a telescope.

If you want to learn more about astronomy or just see some cool pictures then there are a plethora of great books and websites out there to guide you through the beginning of a love affair with the stars. Forget the rags at the grocery store. For this type of star viewing you'll need the books I list below.

New York Starwatch by Mike Lynch

This is probably one of the easier to understand and informative books for the beginning sky gazer. I used it extensively to reference the constellations in this article and for my trips outside. I always reference it later on after sky gazing to look up what I saw. I also refer to it before I go outside to sharpen my memory. Mike gives you plenty of stuff to think about in the front chapters and then goes on to break down the major constellations viewable from every season in the New York area. In the back of the book are monthly star charts. What I really like is that he doesn't overwhelm you with stars and objects to observe. He just gives the major ones that almost anyone can see from their backyard, even in semi-lit regions. His book is a constant companion of mine on my trips outdoors to view the night sky. Believe it or not, he has a book for almost every state in the Union and Canada.

A Year in the Life of the Universe: A Seasonal Guide to Viewing the Cosmos by Robert Gendler.

Author/photographer Rober Gendler spends his free time taking pictures of the sky. Don't think he goes out with an Instamatic to snap a few shots, this guy is using the real technical kind of equipment stargazers wish they had. He uses a CCD camera and a computer to come up with amazing imagery that has appeared in various books and magazines. The pages of this book are adorned with gorgeous deep sky photography catalogued as they appear in the sky by position and season. When the moon is full or the sky is cloudy this is the book to curl up to and get inspiration. His shots include galaxies that are over 65 million light years away!

Observing the sky is like looking back in time. The closest star to the Earth is the sun! It's eight light-minutes away from the Earth. If the sun went out, we would not know for a whole eight whole minutes. This is because nothing, and I mean nothing, travels faster than the speed of light. That is the cosmic speed limit. The next closest star is Proxima Centauri, which is 4.2 light years away. The light that you see in the sky left the star in 2003. The furthest object you can see in the sky is the Andromeda Galaxy at a whopping 2.5 million light years away. The object in the sky that you see as the Andromeda Galaxy left the galaxy before man even stood upright! We are not seeing the galaxy as it looks now but as it looked 2.5 million years ago. Looking into the night sky is actually a farce, a cosmic lie on the grandest scale. Everything you are seeing is from a different time period, like the rings of a tree when you cut it open. We can only observe these things as they were, not as they are.

Lastly, when you are sitting on the beach, looking up into the cosmos, feeling insecure and lonely on our little planet thing of this: While you may feel very still, relaxed and comfortable, you are actually located on a planet spinning at a rate of about 1,000 miles an hour, orbiting the sun at 67,000 miles per hour, which orbits the galactic center at 487,000 miles per hour. So when you're out at the beach, lying down in your chair, hang on for dear life!

New York StarWatch by Michael W. Lynch and A Year in the Life of the Universe: A Seasonal Guide to Viewing the Cosmos by Robert Gendler can both be purchased at www.voyageurpress.com.

About Mike Lynch. He has been a broadcast meteorologist and personality at WCCO Radio in Minneapolis, Minnesota, since 1981, as well as a regular weekly astronomy columnist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. He can be found at www.lynchandthestars.com.

About Robert Gendler. He is a physician living in Connecticut with his wife and two children. His interest in astronomy dates back to his childhood in New York where he made frequent visits to the famous Hayden Planetarium. Check him out at www.robgendlerastropics.com.

I used the following websites as additional reference for this article and for general enjoyment in stargazing.

http://www.naic.edu/~gibson/starnames/starnames.html

http://www.astro.wisc.edu/~dolan/constellations/

http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album/entire_collection

http://www.astronomical.org/portal/modules/wfsection/index.php?category=1

Thursday, September 06, 2007

News You Can Really, Really Use!

Check out the link below for a gallery of all the Hooter's Calenders back to the late Eighties.

Hooter's Calendar Gallery

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

What Makes Us Fart?

from: LiveScience.com

The answer may stink, but eating or drinking anything gives us gas. In fact, it's normal to fart up to half of a gallon (1.9 liters), or about 15 to 20 toots worth of gas, each day.

When we gulp down food, air comes with it. So if a belch seems rude, remember that the air has to leave our bodies one way or another.

Fragrant flatulence, however, comes from colonies of bacteria shacked up inside our lower intestinal tract (which is why it can take hours for gas to kick in after a meal). In the process of converting our meals into useful nutrients, these food-munching microbes produce a smelly by-product of hydrogen sulfide gas—the same stench that emanates from rotten eggs.

Although the gaseous response of bacteria to food differs from person to person (as every one has a unique collection of their own), the biggest gas-generating ingredients are sugars, especially the following four:

* Fructose – A natural ingredient in plants like onions, corn, wheat and even pears. It's often concentrated into a sugary syrup for soft drinks and fruit drinks.

* Lactose – Milk's sweet natural ingredient, also added to foods like bread and cereal. Some people are born with low levels of lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose, a fact that inflates their gassy susceptibility.

* Raffinose – The secret gassy ingredient in beans, which is also found in broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, asparagus and other vegetables. Products like Beano, designed to reduce gas production, break down the sugar before it can reach eager intestinal bacteria.

* Sorbitol – Found in almost all fruits, this indigestible sugar is also used as an artificial sweetener in "diet" and sugar-free foods. Yes, sugar-free gum, candy, soda and anything else deceptively sweet can cause gas.

Other fart-forming ingredients include fiber and starches found in foods like corn, potatoes and wheat. While fats and protein don't cause gas, they can make a meal take longer to digest—and give bacteria more time to generate gas from other ingredients.

Just about the only food that doesn't give us gas? Rice.

Fighting flatulence takes trial and error to figure out which foods excite your intestinal friends and cutting back on them. As a general rule, taking anti-gas products like alpha-galactosidase (Beano) or lactase enzyme (Lactaid) with problematic foods can curb some flatulence—simethicone (Gas-X) only helps relieve bloating by passing gas faster.

Chronic irritating or painful gas may signal something serious, however, so seeing a gastrointestinal specialist is a good idea if this is the case.

--
Lon S. Cohen
Writer
lon@lonscohen.com
www.lonscohen.com
-------------------------
Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, AHA!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Michael Jackson - Smooth Criminal

Craig is probably a big fan of MJ. I still like his music but I am undecided as to whether he is just inappropriate with children out of naiveté or is he a full-fledged child molester.

Thriller - Michael Jackson, 1983

Remember when he was still black? Ahhh... the old days. Michael Jackson was Black and Russia was Red. I miss the Cold War!

Thriller in Prison

My friend introduced me to a friend on who had a link to this on his website. I love the guy dressed as a chick. Is this the idea of rehabilitation or are they worse off now?

Check out Doug's site at www.therecordroom.com.

-Lon

Internet Marketing - Search Engine Optimization - Google

My client for a writing job is featured in this video. Andrew Hazen was featured on this clip about SEO Marketing. Andrew Hazen is founder and CEO of Prime Visibility.

Monday, August 27, 2007

From Agency Spy Blog:

Work Time Waster: Google Sky. Forget blogging about advertising. Forget your client meeting. Go play with Google Sky. It’s so addictive. The new Sky Mode feature in Google Earth allows you to view the cosmos from your current location. There’s more than just browsing the sky aimlessly - there’s guide to the galaxies, time lapsed movements of the planets, and images from hubble. Google’s pulled this off with the help NASA/Space Telescope Institute, Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and Digital Sky Survey Consortium.

(Awesome!)

Comet-like star streaks through Milky Way

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- A large star in its death throes is leaving a huge, turbulent tail of oxygen, carbon and nitrogen in its wake that makes it look like an immense comet hurtling through space, astronomers said on Wednesday.

art.star.comet.jpg

This dying star is shedding material that will be recycled into new stars, planets and possibly even life.

Nothing like this has ever previously been witnessed in a star, according to scientists who detected it using NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer, an orbiting space telescope that observes the cosmos in ultraviolet light.

This tail, spanning a stunning distance of 13 light-years, was detected behind the star Mira, located 350 light-years from Earth in the "whale" constellation Cetus.

"There's a star with a tail in the tail of the whale," said one of the researchers.

Facts:

- Rocketing through our Milky Way galaxy at 80 miles per second -- literally faster than a speeding bullet -- the star is spewing material that scientists believe may be recycled into new stars, planets and maybe even life.
- Nothing like this has ever previously been witnessed in a star.
- The tail spans a distance of 13 light-years.
- The tail is made up of oxygen, carbon and nitrogen.

More...

Galactic Suite - first hotel planned in space.

BARCELONA (Reuters) -- "Galactic Suite", the first hotel planned in space, expects to open for business in 2012 and would allow guests to travel around the world in 80 minutes.

art.space.jpg

An artist's impression of the Galactic Suite, where guests would enjoy views of the Earth during their three-day stay

Its Barcelona-based architects say the space hotel will be the most expensive in the galaxy, costing $4 million for a three-day stay.

During that time guests would see the sun rise 15 times a day and use Velcro suits to crawl around their pod rooms by sticking themselves to the walls like Spiderman.

(Hopefully that's $4 million dollars in 2012 money!)

Read more.

The universe's largest known planet.

PHOENIX, Arizona (AP) -- Scientists have discovered the universe's largest known planet, a giant ball made of mostly hydrogen that circles a star 1,400 light-years away.

art.new.exoplanet.ap.jpg

An illustration of the new planet, called TrES-4, with its host star.

Scientists believe the planet is about twice the size of Jupiter, and has a temperature of 2,300-degrees.

(Cool!)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Bookworm Sez - Par excellence

My friend Terri from the writing scene has gotten herself written up, but in a good way. She is featured in thne online version of Editor And Publisher. Check out the article here.

Then check out her website here. Perhaps you have seen her column in your local newspaper? She's only in over 200 publications, and counting.

I got her hooked up with one of the editors I work with here on Long Island and I was glad to do it because she has been a guiding light through the trials and tribulations of column writing. She hooked me up with some great publicists and connections.

So if your local paper doesn't carry her reviews send them the link and ask for her by name: Terri Schlichenmeyer. Nevermind, just as for Bookworm Sez!

Thanks Terri and congratulations on the write up.

Lon

Monday, June 11, 2007

Music Calendar

Check out the new music calendar that I wrote for Hamptons.com. If you happen to be on Long Island, check out one of these shows!

Click HERE for the calendar.

Lon

Battle at Kruger

Amazing video of nature at its best. Worth watching the entire thing.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Latest BSFWA Articles

As always I am honored to be invited to write monthly articles and reviews for the British Science Fiction Writers Association.

Who Wants To Be An Early Adopter Anyway?

In this article I have commented on the themes behind most futuristic stories and why it may seem that science fiction stories of all types seem like they are dealing with people who adopt the latest technology they really deal with people like you and me who are living in a world that seems normal to them with technology that works more or less in a reliable way. Unless, of course the moral of the story is that you can't mistreat powerful and untested technology.

Spiderman 3 Review & Ghost Rider Review

In this article I have given my review of Spiderman 3. There are SPOILERS in here so if you haven't seen the movie and care about those things don't read it. But if you've seen it, read away. (I have also included the review I did for Ghost Rider, which I had previously sent out but is not all prettied up by the editors at The Matrix.)

As always, I retain all the rights for the articles in the Matrix. Additionally, it is an honor to be invited to write for the British Science Fiction Writers Association as many professional writers, editors, and publishers in Britain subscribe to their publications and are members.

If there is any interest in publishing these articles in the United States please contact me. Please be aware that this has gone out to multiple sources and readers on my email list for consideration.

Enjoy.

--
Lon S. Cohen
Writer
lon@lonscohen.com
www.lonscohen.com

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut Dies!

From the New York Times:

Kurt Vonnegut, Counterculture’s Novelist, Dies
By DINITIA SMITH
Published: April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut, whose dark comic talent and urgent moral vision in novels like “Slaughterhouse-Five,” “Cat’s Cradle” and “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater” caught the temper of his times and the imagination of a generation, died last night in Manhattan. He was 84 and had homes in Manhattan and in Sagaponack on Long Island.

Read more here.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Say It Ain't So Joe...




Joe Murphy was a podcaster on the Dragon Page family of podcasts. One of the first podcasts I ever discovered was Wingin' It. Joe Murphy was an irreverant personality who liked to use the term "Brilliant" whenever something impressed him. He passed away April 1, 2007 of a rare cancer. I never knew him but listened to his voice every week for a long time. I was surprised to find out about his death as I had not been listening to the podcast for a long time.

Just one word about Joe: "Brilliant"

From a Wikipedia entry on Joe Murphy:

Joe Murphy (July 10, 1972 - April 1, 2007) was an American book reviewer, XM Radio Personality, and podcaster. His other profession was that of a speech pathologist and audiologist, having received his MA from Western Illinois University.

He started out on the Dragon Page Cover to Cover podcast as a book reviewer. His comments were so concise and pithy that he quickly became a fan favorite. From there he joined with Summer Brooks as co-host of the Kick-Ass Mystic Ninjas podcast and became one of the main contributors to the popular Slice of SciFi podcast and XM Satellite Radio show. He was also a frequent guest on the Wingin' It podcast and established himself as an integral part of the Farpoint Media family.

In 2006 the Kick-Ass Mystic Ninja podcast - its hosts being Joe, Summer Brooks and David Moldawer - was nominated for a Parsec Award for Excellence in Podcasting in the category of Best Fan Podcast. The award ultimately went to The Scapecast.

His contributions to the Wingin' It podcast inspired the Beatnik Turtle Song, Mason Rocket: Spy Extraordinaire, which was their Song of the Day on April 2, 2007.

Joe was diagnosed at the end of 2006 with Leiomyosarcoma, a very rare form of cancer that attacks the smooth muscles of the body and the inner lining of blood vessels, and passed away on April 1, 2007.

Go to Joe's Memorial Page for More info...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Hexagonal Monster With One Eye Found On Saturn

The Cassini craft has imaged a Hexigonal storm system on the North Pole of Saturn that Voyager 1 and 2 spotted more than 20 years ago. The longevity and geometry of the storm have scientists perplexed. On the other side of the planet at the South Pole, Cassini imaged a hurricane-type storm system with an eerie looking eye that looks like a human eye.


Friday, March 23, 2007

France Posts Secret OVNI files!

According to a recent report on Yahoo dot com, France has opened up its secret government files that tracks UFO sightings. Or as they are known in France, OVNIs. France is weird. They criticise the US for the way we act. They love Jerry Lewis. Then they go and decide they will open classified documents and post them on the Internet about their "secret" OVNI files.

Yahoo reports that:

A phalanx of beefy security guards formed a barrier in front of the space agency (CNES) headquarters where the announcement was made, "to screen out uninvited UFOlogists," an official explained.

Thank goodness for phalanxes of security in France. They can keep out UFOlogists but they can't keep out the Nazis. Go figure.

Anyhow the reports are supposedly very extensive and can be found at here.

According to Yahoo:

Other countries collect data more or less systematically about unidentified flying objects, notably in Britain and in the United States, where information can be requested on a case-by-case basis under the Freedom of Information Act.

"But we decided to do it the other way around and made everything available to the public," Patenet said.

The aim was to make it easier for scientists and other UFO buffs to access the data for research.

The website itself -- which crashed host servers hours after it was unveiled due to heavy traffic -- is extremely well organized and complete, even including scanned copies of police reports.

Read the entire story here.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Wikipedia to challenge Google, Yahoo.

Wikipedia founder says to challenge Google, Yahoo
Thu Mar 8, 2007 2:33PM ESTTOKYO (Reuters)


The online collaboration responsible for Wikipedia plans to build a search engine to rival those of Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc., the founder of the popular Internet encyclopaedia said on Thursday.

Wikia Inc., the commercial counterpart to the non-profit Wikipedia, is aiming to take as much as 5 percent of the lucrative Internet search market, Jimmy Wales said at a news conference in Tokyo.

"The idea that Google has some edge because they've got super-duper rocket scientists may be a little antiquated now," he said.

Describing the two Internet firms as "black boxes" that won't disclose how they rank search results, Wales said collaborative search technology could transform the power structure of the Internet. More.

I love Wikipedia. It is the greatest thing in the Web 2.0 movement. If he could do this for search engines that would be great. Google is far superior in the ancillary wed programs they offer as opposed to Yahoo which is becoming more and more akin to MySpace with the silly news items they post on their front page.

I hear that AOL is working on technology to rival Yahoo finance. As much as I think AOL is a waste of bit stream hopefully they can rise from the ashes. The walled garden has been taken down like the curtain of Oz. Though in the far past it served a useful purpose it became quickly antiquated and superficial, keeping many from enjoying and utilizing the "real" power of the internet. With a farce like the AOL/Time Warner merger that almost anyone from the outside could have seen as destined to fail from day one, AOL has sunk about as low as it can. Warner never was able to really take advantage of the captured customer base in AOL for its entertainment stock as people began to become wise to the fact that there was something greater just beyond the thin veil of the AOL service.

If they can come back, good for them. It will have to be a content rich, technologically superior website. All they have now is a brand name that some people still might not scoff at and one of the most used instant messageing systems in America. I think that is the killer app that will raise them up, if only they can figure out how to integrate it into Web 2.0 with RSS feeds and all that jazz. It's there, some smart person has to come in and reorganize it.

Wikipedia has been a phenomenal sucess. User created content that is acurate and verifiable and policed by the network of contributors instead of a central core company. It is an organism that will continue to grow until it represents the collective knowledge of the entire internet using community. On some philosophical level, Wikipedia is a template for the internet. Spider out to outside content, links and search capability and this is the most powerful search tool ever.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Steorn Brands Free Energy Technology

Steorn, the company that claims it has an engine that produces free energy through magnetic field interactions, has branded its technology. They call it Orbo and I don’t know why.

On the surface the company’s claim seems valid and possible except as I pointed out in a previous post, it violates one of the fundamental principles of physics, which is that energy is never created or destroyed it is simply converted from one form to another. The net energy in the universe is constant.

As a digression, the inflation model of the universe claims that dark energy is making the universe expand. Expand into what? That's where my feeble mind melts into a pile of steaming gunk. You can talk about rising dough and raisins all you want but to create more space means more stuff and that means more energy is created. Why do I say that? Well, maybe I am wrong but there is no true vacuum. That means no true nothing exists in the universe. Even the spaces between the spaces are a froth of quantum energy where virtual particles are created and destroyed at a frantic rate. So there is no peace anywhere in the universe. No wonder I'm so anxious all the time with all that quantum foam percolating around me.

As the universe expands, the quantum foam expands which may be the dark energy that is causing the universe to expand exponentially faster instead of shrink like Einstein’s gravitational equations predict.

Maybe energy is created out of nothing after all. As the universe expands the energy within this universe gets larger forcing the process of expansion to grow.

In the end, Steorn may be just contributing to the expansion of the universe.

Maybe not.

From the Steorn Website:

“Our Claim
Orbo produces free, clean and constant energy - that is our claim. By free we mean that the energy produced is done so without recourse to external source. By clean we that during operation the technology produces no emissions. By constant we mean that with the exception of mechanical failure the technology will continue to operate indefinitely.
The sum of these claims for our Orbo technology is a violation of the principle of conservation of energy, perhaps the most fundamental of scientific principles. The principle of the conservation of energy states that energy can neither be created or destroyed, it can only change form.
Because of the revolutionary nature of our claim, not only to the world of science but to the world in general, Steorn issued a challenge to the scientific community in August 2006 to test our technology and report their findings. The process of validation that has resulted from this challenge is currently underway, with results expect by the end of 2007.”

See for yourself.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Astronaut charged with attempted murder

ORLANDO, Fla. - She was the Robochick. He was Billy-O. According to police, her obsession with him led her to drive 900 miles from Houston to Orlando, bringing with her a trenchcoat and wig, armed with a BB gun and pepper spray, and wearing a diaper to avoid bathroom breaks on the arduous drive.



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Life 2.0, Part 4

Take it another step and we have total integration of the Internet into all our devices. Broadband cable and WiFi in every part of the home, why not? It’s just about possible now. There really is no reason my set top box, DVD player, Computer, and even my refrigerator can’t be all networked on a WiFi so that I can access information about everyone of them on a LAN or out to the World Wide Web. And why not?

I want the smart house. I want my refrigerator to send me an email when the filter in the water dispenser is low. Better yet, I want to set the preferences on my refrigerator to order me a new filter when it needs to be replaced and then email me an alert to expect the filter to arrive in the mail by UPS and by the way here’s the tracking number and here is where that package is in transit right now. Same for the air filters in my forced hot air system. What about my light bulbs in my recessed lighting?

I ask this question of myself all the time: Why do I have to stick my DVD into my computer to access the web content? With WiFi technology and a simple operating system loaded with a browser interface, my DVD player can show me the content right after I watch the movie. (Advertisers are you listening because then you know exactly my tastes by what DVD I was watching and can target those banner ads accordingly.)

Here’s another question I ask myself: Why can’t my stove give me access to the latest recipes when I am feeling inspired to cook like Emeril while watching the show on TV? I can tell my stove to access one of many websites where I can find recipes and then get a list of ingredients emailed to me or better yet WiFi the information to the printer directly. That way I can run out and get exactly what I need. There’s probably a thousand brands out there who would love to be the exclusive sponsor so when my list prints it doesn’t simply say to buy butter but Land O’ Lakes butter.

Some say this is evil. It’s like movie product placement but in your real life. And when is it too much networking? Does my lamp or my cheese grater really need a WiFi connection? Probably not. But there are major appliances that are missing an opportunity here. And the advertising reduces the cost of the actual item then so be it. Already we are getting immune to ads blasting at us on billboards, phone ads, commercials on radio and television, free websites and Google Ad Sense is everywhere, even your Aunt Tilly’s blog. But this kind of thing allows it to be free to blog, share photos and upload videos of teenagers blowing up Coke bottles.

In the next step, the web will not only be pervasive but invisible. We know it is beginning when our phones and our computers and our iPods all are coming together. When telephones and televisions started invading our homes the world became smaller and more connected. The Internet increased that networking of people across countries. Someday we’ll be talking worlds or stations in space or on the moon. If you think I am being grandiose just remember that as little as twenty years ago CDs were an extremely expensive option to cassette tape and people still bought 45RPM singles.

Some of you knew I was going to get to this eventually: The Singularity.

If anyone has been reading or listening to the theoretical talk in technology lately you might have heard of a concept called the Singularity. This idea is explained, as the time in the future when the exponential increase of technology is so fast we cannot imagine it. In Moore’s Law, the processing speed of computers will keep expanding exponentially. In the future, Artificial Intelligence, because of this infinite increase in technology, will be smarter than humans. Either the collective of computers networked throughout the world (or solar system!) will surpassed the collective human intelligence or AI will be the only way to capture this increase of technological computing power in any meaningful way. Some profess that this is the natural evolution of the universe, from organic to artificial intelligence. Of course we can also rely of biological enhancements to our own intelligence, the seeds of which we see in medical science today.

Personally I do not have that sense of impending doom regarding the advance of technology. It does make humans more dependant and somewhat lazy but it has so much going for it. I think the major debate is: What is life? Will computers and machinery ever live? Will they question their own existence? Will they have wants, needs and desires like us? Will they love? Hate?

Even if the computers can process so quickly they can network together and imitate life, the beauty of life (biological, life as we know it) is that each of us, you and me encompass a whole host of emotions, ideas, potential that I think a machine can't have. It can't grow like us. Growing, struggling, surviving despite all odds, that is what makes a being eligible to be considered alive.

Each of us in our journey from birth to death grows and learns so much that we are different from each other as can be. My universe is not your universe even though we live together. Even though we share the same space. Machines cannot live if they merely download the information they've learned from generation to generation. We have to learn it all in a unique and personal way every time, except the most basic biological functions.

In life, we must earn our way. Life is precious. Life is tragic. How concerned can I be with a machine whose whole existence is backed up on a server? You and I are not "backed up." We exist once and then as unfair as it seems, in a brief time we disappear, never to exist again. Never to occupy the same space again. Never to "be" again. That is the essence of life. It only happens once and it is beautiful and fragile. It is not a series of codes that can be copied from drive to drive. That is just data back up.

Vernor Vinge and Ray Kurzweil promote the Singularity concept, derived from the Singularity in Physics where Gravity is so strong that it verges on infinite strength. In Kurzweil’s Law of Accelerating Returns he describes exponential growth much like Moore’s Law but applies it generally to include technology from before the computing circuit.

Some have debated the idea that our technology may surpass us and lead to us becoming less and less necessary in the paradigm. Can machines overtake their maker and become the dominant intelligence force in the universe? Is that progress? If that happens will we be in a better position where the machines will strive for our well-being and general comfort like a direct intervention from a deity? Or will they adopt our power corrupting ideals, enslaving or eliminating us from the equation. Science Fiction has made much hay of this concept.

Can we avoid our own destruction not by War or Disease or Famine but by the very thing we have relied on so much to make life more and more comfortable, accessible and safe: Technology.

I think we will continue to reach to that future time as we come closer to the event horizon of the technological singularity and try to understand its implications but like the unfathomable idea of the physical singularity the singularity of the computing world may just be a possibility, ever out of reach of true understanding and conception.

In the meantime, I’m going to watch that video of a monkey peeing off a branch on YouTube again.

End.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Charles Darwin the 'True Source of Terror'...

Tens of thousands of French schools and universities have received copies of a Turkish book refuting Darwin's theory of evolution and describing it as "the true source of terrorism." Turkish author Harun Yahya wrote the "The Atlas of Creation," the 770-page book. Good thing for guys like this in the world or we'd run out of stupid and dangerous people with horribly distorted opinions. Glad to see that in modern times we have a guy who can write, finance, publish and distribute this type of stuff. Of course, I'm sure George W. Bush might agree with some of the book, not all, but some. I mean, we're not terrorists but that whole Evolution theory, I mean, it is just a "Theory" right?If you can't tell the sarcasm because you can hear my voice or see my face that was it up there. A theory is not a guess but the best possible explanation of the evidence at hand. People who don't know the difference use the word theory as if it means a guess or an option but theory is not that at all. A scientific theory is the sum of all the facts. Theories change only when the facts supporting the theory change. It's testable and true as far as what knowledge and evidence we posses can tell. There can be competing theories but they all must come from the facts. You can't say Intelligent Design is a theory based on the same facts as Evolution because it was not. Evolution has a long history of testable evidence that can be replicated. It has a whole host of support in the chain of the findings. Intelligent Design is a belief system. As a scientific theory it is pretty weak if not outrageously ridiculous and plain wrong.Oh and of you have to sent thousands of your books to a school unrequested, you are definately either a nutjob, promoting an unpopular hateful agenda, a cultist, or so wrong that no one would take you seriously.That's for the Scientologists. I think I see the Mothership!L.S.C.



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Charles Darwin the 'True Source of Terror'...

Tens of thousands of French schools and universities have received copies of a Turkish book refuting Darwin's theory of evolution and describing it as "the true source of terrorism." Turkish author Harun Yahya wrote the "The Atlas of Creation," the 770-page book. Good thing for guys like this in the world or we'd run out of stupid and dangerous people with horribly distorted opinions. Glad to see that in modern times we have a guy who can write, finance, publish and distribute this type of stuff. Of course, I'm sure George W. Bush might agree with some of the book, not all, but some. I mean, we're not terrorists but that whole Evolution theory, I mean, it is just a "Theory" right?If you can't tell the sarcasm because you can hear my voice or see my face that was it up there. A theory is not a guess but the best possible explanation of the evidence at hand. People who don't know the difference use the word theory as if it means a guess or an option but theory is not that at all. A scientific theory is the sum of all the facts. Theories change only when the facts supporting the theory change. It's testable and true as far as what knowledge and evidence we posses can tell. There can be competing theories but they all must come from the facts. You can't say Intelligent Design is a theory based on the same facts as Evolution because it was not. Evolution has a long history of testable evidence that can be replicated. It has a whole host of support in the chain of the findings. Intelligent Design is a belief system. As a scientific theory it is pretty weak if not outrageously ridiculous and plain wrong.Oh and of you have to sent thousands of your books to a school unrequested, you are definately either a nutjob, promoting an unpopular hateful agenda, a cultist, or so wrong that no one would take you seriously.That's for the Scientologists. I think I see the Mothership!L.S.C.



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J. K. Rowling says good bye to Harry Potter

Rowling says the last book in the series, 'Deathly Hallows' is her favourite, and that she is simultaneously heartbroken and euphoric. I say that it's about time. To be honest, the stories are not very good and the movies are long and boring. The only good thing I can say about the whole series is that it inspired a whole generation of children to put down their video games and pick up a 700 page book and read it in two days. I have to applaud her for that. Of course they went right back to the Harry Potter movies and video games, but that's besides the point.



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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Life 2.0, Part 3

I am waiting for Web 3.0, which will ingrain itself into my real world in such a way that it will be virtually inseparable from my environment and approach a certain Artificial Intelligence aspect.

The Web 3.0 thing is a definite. I see it as the collective consciousness of all the information you can find on the Internet combined with your personal profile put through marketing and modeling software (algorithms?) to make predictions on behavior or even suggestions.

This is all dependant on our use of the Internet, which is becoming more and more prevalent. Web based applications are replacing locally run software. This idea gets us back to the mainframe model where your computer is simply a terminal slave for a larger, smarter, central computer. (Ever see Wargames?) But the larger smarter central computer in this case is replaced by a smudge of information across geographic and electronic areas.

Of course there will always be customization and personalization because that is what we demand but imagine a world where instead of choosing a system platform to run, you choose what site you will log into to do all your computing. Google seems to be heading in that direction and they aren’t the only ones who get it. In all honesty, I shiver at the idea of giving up my individuality to buy and pick and choose my software as I like for my own system that resides on my own hard drive locally instead of having an internet box that gets me access to a remote server that only looks like its mine.

This has been tried before but not too much success. Now with online video and photo sharing, blogging, and services like Gmail, this is becoming a reality. All a large company like Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Apple or someone else has to do is start acquiring all the little websites and making them their own. Oh wait! This is already happening. More and more, the graphical interface of the web is replacing what lies beneath.

Bit Torrent is a file sharing protocol where multiple computers that hold the same file speed up uploading requests and limit bandwidth consumption by sending bits of data over a wider distribution of files across multiple sources. That’s my understanding of the technology. As more people pick up the file the faster the download time since there are more bits out there to take from simultaneously. With technology like that and an ever increasing bandwidth, it will not be long before we can seamlessly share all kinds of data and files no matter how large, further allowing remote accessing and increasing the ability of storage space to become almost infinite.

If I have a virtual hard drive but the files I keep are merely images of what I want instead of the actual file, every time I want to access it (lets say it’s my favorite movie or album) the file is sent to me by this distribution protocol instantly. Would I know the difference between actually owning a file and just having immediate access to it whenever I want?

Is the next evolution a model where my children buy dumb boxes and the internet makes available for free, powerful applications and services like Photoshop, Microsoft Excel, Gmail and Youtube all for the simple price of having to look at some pop up ads? Or a small subscription fee? Perhaps the ISPs will start offering subscription packages to online software apps ala the current model for cable offerings.

Even better I choose a menu of items I want to access for a price per month that I can change month to month as my needs change. Do I need to retouch photos this month? Order Photoshop. Is it tax season? Order Turbo Tax. Is my child going back to school in September? Time to reorder my favorite word processing software. For a couple of dollars per month I always have the most updated and latest software version instead of paying hundreds ever time I want one or have to upgrade.

The software companies make out because distribution costs and packaging is eliminated in favor of allowing more users access to their software. Lower price points may translate into exponentially larger subscribers and legal subscribers, at that. How much does Adobe loose on all those pirated and copied versions of Photoshop? Or how many people don’t use it because the price point is too high but they’d love to have it?

Take a $500 program and charge $10 per month for it. Then offer it so that you are always able to use the most updated and latest version if I so choose (or I can continue using the previous version I am used to until I want to switch up.) I’d do it so that I never have to mail in a registration card again or worry that in a few years I have to fork out another $200 to upgrade to the version that everyone else is using or that runs on the latest operating system.

Do you want the basic broadband subscription with channels like Google and Yahoo along with basic photo editing, word processing, email software and the 500 Terabytes of storage? Or do you want the Silver package where you get all the search engines plus the Microsoft Office Suite and Adobe package of application subscriptions and the 1 Petabyte of storage space? Great, now wait while we scan all your appliances and stereo equipment for integration into our control panel web page. What’s that madam? Sure, you can control everything when you are on vacation or at work, just log into your account. Your kids will get the PG-13 version access as well.