Beauty and Music

August 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Humor

I was in San Francisco the other day and it reminded me of the eight years I lived there after college. It also reminded me how frickin' ugly that place is. It is grey on grey, punctuated with street people, traffic, and urine-colored light. Yeah, yeah, it has a few nice parts, mostly when you're looking away from the city itself, toward the bay or the ocean. But in general, it's an ugly, ugly place, especially if you're not in one of the expensive neighborhoods.

Ooh, look at the Victorian house! I'll admit those are interesting to look at, sort of like a hooker's foot after a pedicure. And the Transamerica Pyramid does evoke the deep emotional connection of "Hey, it's a tall thing." But that's as far as it goes, unless it rains, in which case the city is ugly and miserable at the same time.

I have many memories of San Francisco. There was the time I got mugged by a bum wielding a butcher knife and I used my hypnosis training to get away. And there was the time I got mugged by a guy with a handgun and I used hypnosis to convince him to take only two dollars. And there was the time a guy put a gun to my head and pulled the trigger just to see my reaction. (It wasn't loaded. My reaction was "priceless.") There was the time I came home to find my apartment door unlocked and everything valuable missing. There was the time I got robbed at gunpoint at my job in the city as a bank teller, and the other time I got robbed the same way. There was the time my car stereo got stolen, and the other time it was stolen, and the other time it was stolen. And so on.

Eventually I got a job in the beautiful East Bay town of San Ramon, at the phone company's headquarters. I drove there before sunrise each weekday morning and spent the entire day in a grey, fabric-covered box. The only visual stimulation, if you can call it that, was middle-aged employees who weren't entirely sure if they were alive or already in Hell. Then I'd drive home to San Francisco in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

My point is that for years I experienced a beauty-free existence. You learn to live without beauty, and you usually don't miss it in any given moment. But I think it grinds on you over time. I assume humans are hardwired by evolution to appreciate beauty, presumably because beauty is a marker for where the food is, and where the good hiding places are, and who the healthiest mates might be.

All of this made me wonder if there's a beauty analogy to music. Music is to the ears as beauty is to the eyes. We have iPods and other music devices to fill our ears with wonderful music. Could we invent a system to give us our daily beauty fix? It's an untapped market.

My idea is to create a website that is nothing but a slideshow of beautiful images. Over time, a user could train the site to deliver more of the images he prefers and fewer of the ones he doesn't. The Internet is adding more beautiful images every day, and most are available to search engines. I would assume you could automate the process of finding new images to add to the slideshow. The bad choices would be quickly deselected by users.

How much would it boost your mood if you could view high definition images of beauty for twenty minutes every day, at your computer or even your smartphone? Would it have a measurable impact on your health? I think it would.

The impact of a beauty fix might be more subtle than the immediate buzz you get from music, and I assume that's why the idea hasn't already become ubiquitous. We already have websites that have slideshows of cute animals, or expensive real estate, and so on. But I think the big win is mixing images from lots of different topics to keep your brain engaged. We have the notes of beauty but not the arrangements and songs.

This is the part where you tell me someone already did it.

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Rochester, Vermont Hit Hard By Irene

August 31, 2011 by  
Filed under TOP HEADLINES

ROCHESTER, Vt. — Coffins lie exposed at the village cemetery, having popped out of the ground. Homes are reduced to what look like piles of giant matchsticks. A weathered brown house hangs precariously out over a creek, an enormous chunk of soil underneath chewed away by floodwaters.

The roads are covered with brown dirt left behind when the muddy water receded, and every passing car or truck kicks up a dust cloud like a stagecoach in a Hollywood Western.

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WikiLeaks: Breach Has Exposed Unredacted U.S. Cables

August 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Videos

LONDON — Anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks said Thursday that its massive archive of unredacted U.S. State Department cables had been exposed in a security breach which it blamed on its one-time partner, Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

In a 1,600-word-long editorial posted to the Internet, WikiLeaks accused the Guardian’s investigative reporter David Leigh of divulging the password needed to decrypt the files in a book he and another Guardian journalist, Luke Harding, published earlier this year.

WikiLeaks said in its statement that Leigh had “recklessly, and without gaining our approval, knowingly disclosed the decryption passwords” in a nonfiction book about the organization published by the Guardian back in February.

In comments to The Associated Press, Leigh dismissed the charge as “time-wasting nonsense.”

He said that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange had supplied him with a password needed to access the U.S. embassy cables from a server back in July, 2010 – but that Assange assured him the site would expire within a matter of hours.

“What we published much later in our book was obsolete and harmless,” Leigh said. “We did not disclose the URL (web address) where the file was located, and in any event, Assange had told us it would no longer exist.”

Leigh said it was now being claimed “that Assange somehow left this file of his lying about instead of deleting it.”

Repeated attempts to reach WikiLeaks staffers for an explanation of why the file was apparently left online were unsuccessful, although on its Twitter feed the group described one of Leigh’s previous statements as false and warned of “continuous lies to come.”

In its statement, WikiLeaks said that knowledge of the leaked password had been spreading privately for months, but that the organization was forced to come out with a statement Thursday after news of the breach began spilling into the press.

“Now that the connection has been made public by others we can explain what happened and what we intend to do,” the group said, claiming that it had tried to warn the State Department about what was happening.

In Washington, the State Department did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment. U.S. officials have previously said that WikiLeaks’ disclosures could have potentially serious consequences for informants, activists and others quoted in the cables.

“What we have said all along about the danger of these types of things is reinforced by the fact that there are now documents out there in unredacted form containing the names of individuals whose lives are at risk because they are named,” Defense Department Col. Dave Lapan said Wednesday, before the full scale of the issue became known.

“Once WikiLeaks has these documents in its possession, it loses control and information gets out whether they intend (it) to or not,” Lapan told Pentagon reporters.

Later Thursday, WikiLeaks posted a threat to publish its entire archive in an unencrypted form. A review of file sharing sites appeared to turn up hundreds of encrypted copies of the files circulating freely around the Web, although the AP could not immediately determine their authenticity.

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Very Skinny People Likely Have Extra Copies Of Certain Genes

August 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Health News

Individuals who carry extra copies of specific genes have a tendency to be extremely skinny, researchers from Imperial College London and the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, reported in the journal Nature. The authors added that this is the first study to find evidence of a genetic cause for extreme underweight…
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AT&T to fight DOJ attempt to block T-Mobile merger

August 31, 2011 by  
Filed under TOP HEADLINES

The Justice Department on Wednesday sued to block AT&T’s $39 billion pursuit of T-Mobile, saying the deal would leave consumers with fewer choices and higher bills for mobile phone service that has become “indispensable” to the way Americans live and do business.

AT&T immediately vowed to challenge the lawsuit, setting the stage for the most significant antitrust battle of the Obama administration, which had vowed to rigorously police big business deals that are bad for consumers. But Justice has rarely gone to court to stop blockbuster deals, and it failed the last time it sued to prevent a big corporate merger, seven years ago.

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Rick Perry Headlining Fundraiser For Virginia Republican Party

August 31, 2011 by  
Filed under TOP HEADLINES

WASHINGTON — Texas Governor Rick Perry, a Republican presidential candidate, will be the marquee speaker at a fundraiser for the Virginia Republican Party on Sept. 14, appearing with Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (R).

The lunch event will be held at the Richmond Convention Center and cost attendees between $55 and $10,000 to attend. The top “Platinum” contribution level will earn attendees a reserved table for 10 people, six tickets to a meet-and-greet with McDonnell, a photo opportunity and two tickets for the governor’s head table.

McDonnell is the new head of the Republican Governors Association. He took over from Perry, who stepped down because of his presidential campaign.

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Obama Schedules Jobs Speech on GOP Debate Night

August 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Idiot Ideas, Total Nonsense

The WSJ reports that Barack Obama intends to deliver his supposedly much-anticipated speech laying out his jobs agenda and plan to cut the federal deficit on Sept. 7 to a joint session of Congress. Of course, surprise, surprise, the timing steps directly on a Republican presidential debate (the first since Gov. Rick Perry entered the presidential contest) scheduled for that same evening in Simi Valley, Calif.

If you think this is anything other than purely a typical ‘Chicago-machine-style’ political stunt, as is characteristic of the Obama administration, then I call you both delusional and gullible, and have some swampland in Florida to sell you.

Oh, and you probably still believe Barack Hussein can calm the threatening seas and sprinkle world peace around the globe, right?

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Fix The Housing Market By Speeding Up Foreclosures

August 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Mortgage Mess


Speed up foreclosures to fix the housing market?  How heartless is that?  Many, like Senator Merkley of Oregon, believe that the administration should do more to prevent foreclosures: WASHINGTON — Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) sent a letter to President Barack Obama on Tuesday urging him to address the nation’s devastating foreclosure crisis as part of a new plan to create jobs. “We can and should adopt an aggressive strategy to reduce foreclosures nationally,” Merkley…

Read this item at Housing Doom…


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James Scarborough: Space Trek: A Sci-Fi Comedy , The All American Melodrama Theater

August 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Humor

The script is ridiculously witty, the opening musical number, “Space Trekkin,” generates major G-forces of laughter and easily frees us from the gravity of the ho-hum so we can venture forth into the outer realms of the outlandish.

Read more: The All American Melodrama Theater, Space Trek: A Sci-Fi Comedy, Long Beach, Satirical Theater, Local Theater Productions CA, Satire, Star Trek Spoof, Theater, Long Beach Theater, Star Wars Spoof, California Local Theater, Los Angeles News

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Emergency

August 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Humor

by Charles Evans Hughes

“Emergency does not increase granted power or remove or diminish the restrictions imposed upon power granted or reserved. The Constitution was adopted in a period of grave emergency. Its grants of power to the federal government and its limitations of the power of the States were determined in the light of emergency, and they are not altered by emergency.”

 

- Charles Evans Hughes (April 11, 1862 – August 27, 1948) was an American statesman, lawyer and Republican politician from New York. He served as the 36th Governor of New York (1907–1910), Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (1910–1916), United States Secretary of State (1921–1925), and the 11th Chief Justice of the United States (1930–1941). He was the Republican candidate in the 1916 U.S. Presidential election, losing narrowly to Woodrow Wilson. Hughes was an important leader of the progressive movement of the 1900s, a leading diplomat and New York lawyer in the days of Harding and Coolidge, and a leader of opposition to the New Deal in the 1930s. Herbert Hoover, who had appointed Hughes’ son as Solicitor General in 1929, appointed Hughes Chief Justice of the United States in 1930, in which capacity he served until 1941. Hughes replaced former President William Howard Taft, a fellow Republican who had also lost a presidential election to Woodrow Wilson (in 1912) – and who, in 1910, had appointed Hughes to his first tenure on the Supreme Court.

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