Tuesday, October 31, 2006

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Can you wait till January 2007!

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Tom Mabe Gets Back Another Telemarketer

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This is another hilarious Tom Mabe dig on a telemarketer. It's from his appearance on the also hilarious Bob and Tom Show. For those that aren't familiar with Tom Mabe, he has several CDs with recordings that he has made giving telemarketers a hard time. Give his website a look.

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Media Bias Is Real, Finds UCLA Political Scientist

Here is an article I came across on the UCLA website, on a study that indicates most of the news media that they monitored did lean to the left with Fox News actually being rather centrist. For those that watch Fox this is not news but it was nice to see it quantified. One surprise was that the Drudge Report was left but as the study states it looked at the stories on the site and not just Mike Drudge's writings.



Media Bias Is Real, Finds UCLA Political Scientist

While the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal is conservative, the newspaper's news pages are liberal, even more liberal than The New York Times. The Drudge Report may have a right-wing reputation, but it leans left. Coverage by public television and radio is conservative compared to the rest of the mainstream media. Meanwhile, almost all major media outlets tilt to the left.

These are just a few of the surprising findings from a UCLA-led study, which is believed to be the first successful attempt at objectively quantifying bias in a range of media outlets and ranking them accordingly.

"I suspected that many media outlets would tilt to the left because surveys have shown that reporters tend to vote more Democrat than Republican," said Tim Groseclose, a UCLA political scientist and the study's lead author. "But I was surprised at just how pronounced the distinctions are."

"Overall, the major media outlets are quite moderate compared to members of Congress, but even so, there is a quantifiable and significant bias in that nearly all of them lean to the left," said co‑author Jeffrey Milyo, University of Missouri economist and public policy scholar.

The results appear in the latest issue of the Quarterly Journal of Economics, which will become available in mid-December.

Groseclose and Milyo based their research on a standard gauge of a lawmaker's support for liberal causes. Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) tracks the percentage of times that each lawmaker votes on the liberal side of an issue. Based on these votes, the ADA assigns a numerical score to each lawmaker, where "100" is the most liberal and "0" is the most conservative. After adjustments to compensate for disproportionate representation that the Senate gives to low‑population states and the lack of representation for the District of Columbia, the average ADA score in Congress (50.1) was assumed to represent the political position of the average U.S. voter.

Groseclose and Milyo then directed 21 research assistants — most of them college students — to scour U.S. media coverage of the past 10 years. They tallied the number of times each media outlet referred to think tanks and policy groups, such as the left-leaning NAACP or the right-leaning Heritage Foundation.

Next, they did the same exercise with speeches of U.S. lawmakers. If a media outlet displayed a citation pattern similar to that of a lawmaker, then Groseclose and Milyo's method assigned both a similar ADA score.

"A media person would have never done this study," said Groseclose, a UCLA political science professor, whose research and teaching focuses on the U.S. Congress. "It takes a Congress scholar even to think of using ADA scores as a measure. And I don't think many media scholars would have considered comparing news stories to congressional speeches."

Of the 20 major media outlets studied, 18 scored left of center, with CBS' "Evening News," The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times ranking second, third and fourth most liberal behind the news pages of The Wall Street Journal.

Only Fox News' "Special Report With Brit Hume" and The Washington Times scored right of the average U.S. voter.

The most centrist outlet proved to be the "NewsHour With Jim Lehrer." CNN's "NewsNight With Aaron Brown" and ABC's "Good Morning America" were a close second and third.

"Our estimates for these outlets, we feel, give particular credibility to our efforts, as three of the four moderators for the 2004 presidential and vice-presidential debates came from these three news outlets — Jim Lehrer, Charlie Gibson and Gwen Ifill," Groseclose said. "If these newscasters weren't centrist, staffers for one of the campaign teams would have objected and insisted on other moderators."

The fourth most centrist outlet was "Special Report With Brit Hume" on Fox News, which often is cited by liberals as an egregious example of a right-wing outlet. While this news program proved to be right of center, the study found ABC's "World News Tonight" and NBC's "Nightly News" to be left of center. All three outlets were approximately equidistant from the center, the report found.

"If viewers spent an equal amount of time watching Fox's 'Special Report' as ABC's 'World News' and NBC's 'Nightly News,' then they would receive a nearly perfectly balanced version of the news," said Milyo, an associate professor of economics and public affairs at the University of Missouri at Columbia.

Five news outlets — "NewsHour With Jim Lehrer,"; ABC's "Good Morning America," CNN's "NewsNight With Aaron Brown," Fox News' "Special Report With Brit Hume" and the Drudge Report — were in a statistical dead heat in the race for the most centrist news outlet. Of the print media, USA Today was the most centrist.

An additional feature of the study shows how each outlet compares in political orientation with actual lawmakers. The news pages of The Wall Street Journal scored a little to the left of the average American Democrat, as determined by the average ADA score of all Democrats in Congress (85 versus 84). With scores in the mid-70s, CBS' "Evening News" and The New York Times looked similar to Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., who has an ADA score of 74.

Most of the outlets were less liberal than Lieberman but more liberal than former Sen. John Breaux, D-La. Those media outlets included the Drudge Report, ABC's "World News Tonight," NBC's "Nightly News," USA Today, NBC's "Today Show," Time magazine, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, NPR's "Morning Edition," CBS' "Early Show" and The Washington Post.

Since Groseclose and Milyo were more concerned with bias in news reporting than opinion pieces, which are designed to stake a political position, they omitted editorials and Op‑Eds from their tallies. This is one reason their study finds The Wall Street Journal more liberal than conventional wisdom asserts.

Another finding that contradicted conventional wisdom was that the Drudge Report was slightly left of center.

"One thing people should keep in mind is that our data for the Drudge Report was based almost entirely on the articles that the Drudge Report lists on other Web sites," said Groseclose. "Very little was based on the stories that Matt Drudge himself wrote. The fact that the Drudge Report appears left of center is merely a reflection of the overall bias of the media."

Yet another finding that contradicted conventional wisdom relates to National Public Radio, often cited by conservatives as an egregious example of a liberal news outlet. But according to the UCLA-University of Missouri study, it ranked eighth most liberal of the 20 that the study examined.

"By our estimate, NPR hardly differs from the average mainstream news outlet," Groseclose said. "Its score is approximately equal to those of Time, Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report and its score is slightly more conservative than The Washington Post's. If anything, government‑funded outlets in our sample have a slightly lower average ADA score (61), than the private outlets in our sample (62.8)."

The researchers took numerous steps to safeguard against bias — or the appearance of same — in the work, which took close to three years to complete. They went to great lengths to ensure that as many research assistants supported Democratic candidate Al Gore in the 2000 election as supported President George Bush. They also sought no outside funding, a rarity in scholarly research.

"No matter the results, we feared our findings would've been suspect if we'd received support from any group that could be perceived as right- or left-leaning, so we consciously decided to fund this project only with our own salaries and research funds that our own universities provided," Groseclose said.
r>The results break new ground.

"Past researchers have been able to say whether an outlet is conservative or liberal, but no one has ever compared media outlets to lawmakers," Groseclose said. ";Our work gives a precise characterization of the bias and relates it to known commodity — politicians."

-UCLA-

Contact: Meg Sullivan ( msullivan@support.ucla.edu )
Phone: 310-825-1046

MS580

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Aircraft Graveyard on Google Map




click picture to enlarge or click title to go to the website

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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Fed Again Leaves Rates Unchanged

Bottom Line - Inflation is up but not up enough for a Fed Rates hike. Also, an interesting statement by Rajeev Dhawan, director of the Economic Forecasting Center at Georgia State University. He predicts the Fed will cut rates by January. "With long-term rates well below short-term rates -- a relationship that in the past has foreshadowed recession -- 'the risk factors are too high,' he said."


Fed Again Leaves Rates Unchanged
The Wall Street Journal
Central Bank Remains
Worried About Inflation
But Sees Pressures Easing
By GREG IP


WASHINGTON -- The Federal Reserve held short-term interest rates steady for its third consecutive meeting as it continued to bet on a moderation of both inflation and economic growth.

Even as it left rates at 5.25% yesterday, the Fed again warned that it is worried about inflation.

Since Ben Bernanke became Fed chairman in February, he has faced, first, the threat of rising inflation and then a housing-led economic slowdown. The latest data, and the statement released by the Fed after its meeting yesterday, suggest that the central bank sees the risks on both sides diminishing. That makes it less likely that rates will change in either direction in coming months.

Both the rate action and statement were largely expected. Bond prices rallied and bond yields, which move in the opposite direction to prices, fell, apparently because investors had expected more hints of a possible rate increase.

Futures markets' expectations of Fed actions have swung sharply in the past month, from betting on several rate cuts starting as soon as December to seeing a small probability that the Fed might raise rates.

In its statement, the Fed said growth has slowed in part because of a "cooling" housing market. "Going forward, the economy seems likely to expand at a moderate pace," it said, a notable addition to its statement released after last month's meeting.

Core inflation, which excludes food and energy, remains "elevated" but inflation pressures are likely to moderate thanks to lower energy prices, "contained" inflation expectations, and the impact of previous rate increases, the Fed said.

"Some inflation risks remain," the Fed said, but whether rates would rise again depends on the outlook and "incoming information."

For the third straight meeting, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond President Jeffrey Lacker cast the lone dissent among the 11 voting members of the Federal Open Market Committee. He argued in favor of a quarter-percentage point rate increase in the target federal-funds rate, charged on overnight loans between banks. (One voting seat is empty and seven other members don't vote.)

Mr. Bernanke has faced shifting challenges since taking office. Core inflation has risen to 2.9% from 2.1%, the highest level in a decade. Although inflation by the Fed's preferred price index is lower, it, too, is above the 2% level many Fed officials have said they are comfortable with. That led the Fed to raise rates at its first three meetings under Mr. Bernanke.

Then later economic growth, under the weight of falling home and automobile sales, began to slow, to an estimated annual rate of about 2% in the third quarter. That would be the second-lowest level since 2003. The official growth figure will be reported tomorrow.

In recent weeks, though, both inflation and growth worries have eased. Energy prices have plunged, and the Fed expects the indirect impact of that drop to pull down core inflation in the coming year or so. Yesterday's Fed statement dropped a reference from the previous month to energy and commodity prices as a source of inflation pressure.

There is little sign the economy outside housing and cars has slowed much. Some economists said the housing market has shown tentative signs of hitting bottom.

Yesterday, the National Association of Realtors said existing-home sales fell 2% in September to an annual rate of 6.18 million, from August. The inventory of existing homes remained at about 7.3 months of sales for the third consecutive month.

"We might be having what some colleagues have described as a false landing rather than soft landing," said Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at LaSalle Bank. He said growth could rebound to 3% in the current quarter as the housing correction ends and consumers benefit from a 25% to 40% drop in gasoline prices.

"The Fed must ask itself: Did things slow down long enough and far enough to reduce pressure on capacity? I think the next move [on rates] is probably up."

Rajeev Dhawan, director of the Economic Forecasting Center at Georgia State University, predicted the Fed would cut rates by January. With long-term rates well below short-term rates -- a relationship that in the past has foreshadowed recession -- "the risk factors are too high," he said.

The shifting momentum of growth from strong to weak and back to moderate reflects the remarkable stability the U.S. economy now enjoys, said John Makin, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. "As has often been the case over the past five years, the slowdown itself has set into motion market adjustments that may mitigate or even reverse it," he wrote in a report.

For example, the Fed's decision to pause as the housing market weakened led investors to drive down long-term rates on bonds and mortgages. That, with a lag, has helped put a floor under housing.

Online lender Quicken Loans Inc.'s pipeline of mortgage applications has grown 20% to 25% since rates began to ease in late June, said the company's chief economist, Bob Walters. The increase has been driven mostly by refinancing applications, while the number of applications for new-home purchases remains steady. "Whether we've seen the bottom or not, remains to be seen," he said.

Write to Greg Ip at greg.ip@wsj.com

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25 Rules to Grow Rich by

Another good basic bullet points list to personal finance. These seem so basic and that's just it, they are but most people don't even begin to follow these. If you aren't covering the basics folks don't worry about the more advanced moves. Keep it simple till simple isn't enough for you.



25 rules to grow rich by
Money Magazine


NEW YORK (Money) -- Tough financial questions come your way all the time.How much do I need to save? Should I buy or lease? Should I refinance my mortgage? It would sure be nice to have an easy guide on hand for those moments.Now you do.

Home

1. For return on investment, the best home renovation is to upgrade an old bathroom. Kitchens come in second.

2. It's worth refinancing your mortgage when you can cut your interest rate by at least one point.

3. Spend no more than 21/2 times your income on a home. For a down payment, it's best to come up with at least 20%.

4. Your total housing payments should not exceed 28% of your gross income. Total debt payments should come in under 36%.

5. Never hire a roofer, driveway paver or chimney sweep who is going door to door.

Invest

6. All else being equal, the best place to invest is a 401(k). Once you've earned the full company match, max out a Roth IRA. Still have money to invest? Put more in your 401(k) or a traditional IRA.

7. To figure out what percentage of your money should be in stocks, subtract your age from 120.

8. Invest no more than 10% of your portfolio in your company stock - or any single company's stock, for that matter.

9. The most you should pay in annual fees for a mutual fund is 1% for a large-company stock fund, 1.3% for any other type of stock fund and 0.6% for a U.S. bond fund.

10. Aim to build a retirement nest egg that is 25 times the annual investment income you need. So if you want $40,000 a year to supplement Social Security and a pension, you must save $1 million.

11. If you don't understand how an investment works, don't buy it.

Plan

12. If you're not saving 10% of your salary, you aren't saving enough.

13. Keep three months' worth of living expenses in a bank savings account or a money-market fund for emergencies. If you have kids or rely on one income, make it six months'.

14. Aim to accumulate enough money to pay for a third of your kids' college costs. You can borrow the rest or cover it from your income.

15. You need enough life insurance to replace at least five years of your salary - as much as 10 years if you have several young children or significant debts.

16. When you buy insurance, choose the highest deductible you can afford. It's the easiest way to lower your premium.

17. The best credit card is a no-fee rewards card that you pay in full every month. But if you carry a balance, high interest rates will wipe out the benefits.

18. The best way to improve your credit score is to pay bills on time and to borrow no more than 30% of your available credit.

19. Anyone who calls or e-mails you asking for your Social Security number or information about your bank or credit-card account is a scam artist.

Spend

20. The best way to save money on a car is to buy a late-model used car and drive it until it's junk. A car loses 30% of its value in the first year.

21. Lease a new car or truck only if you plan to replace it within two or three years.

22. Resist the urge to buy the latest computer or other gadget as soon as it comes out. Wait three months and the price will be lower.

23. Buy airline tickets early because the cheapest fares are snapped up first. Most seats go on sale 11months in advance.

24. Don't redeem frequent-flier miles unless you can get more than a dollar's worth of air fare or other stuff for every 100 miles you spend.

25. When you shop for electronics, don't pay for an extended warranty. One exception: It's a laptop and the warranty is from the manufacturer. Top of page

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13 Greatest Horror Movies. Ever!

Well Halloween is just around the corner, Happy Birthday Darryl, and what better way to celebrate than watching a good horror movie. But which one? TheGeekZine.com has given us their 13 tops and its a fair list. A couple of additions I would make would be Final Destination and The Blair Witch Project. I'd drop Zombie (sorry, never saw it) and Texas Chainsaw Massacre(not big into the splatter films). I am borderline on Psycho. My #1 would have to be Night of the Living Dead but my judgment is clouded on it because it was the first horror movie I saw and it scared me silly. I was 5 at the time and it really did a number on me.

From thegeekzine.com

1. THE SHINING (1980)
PLOT: Daddy goes crazy and wields an axe while his family is trapped in a haunted hotel in Colorado.
THOUGHTS: They don’t make horror movies like THE SHINING anymore. Hell, they didn’t make horror movies like THE SHINING before. Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece, based on the equally frightening Stephen King novel, has a depth and intelligence that is lacking in most fright films. Of course it has its scary moments — some of the scariest in movie history — but it’s much more than a blood-and-guts thriller. At its heart, THE SHINING is about a middle-class family. And as it scares the hell out of you, it reveals that dark and dysfunctional side of the American family. Then there’s Jack Nicholson. His performance as the axe-wielding maniac Jack Torrance is over-the-top yet riveting. Watching ol’ Jack chew up the scenery is most of the fun of watching the movie.

2. PSYCHO (1960)
PLOT: Mild-mannered hotel clerk with an Oedipal complex slashes young lady in the shower.
THOUGHTS: Once Norman Bates flickered onto the silver screen, the horror movie was never the same. This new “screen excitement,” from director Alfred Hitchcock, plucked the fright film from those dark, drafty castles of the Boris Karloff age and flung it down in the middle of America. PSYCHO gave birth to the modern horror movie and the psychological thriller, which was driven, not by monsters, but by the boy next door, albeit a boy with something dark and evil inside. The film’s haunting score and that shower scene are unforgettable.


3. HALLOWEEN (1978)
PLOT: On Halloween, an escaped mental patient pursued by his shrink sports a mask, stalking and killing the teenagers in his old neighborhood.
THOUGHTS: This John Carpenter horror flick is what started the late 70s/early 80s slasher movie craze and gave us one of the most recognizable serial killers in the genre — the Captain Kirk-masked Michael Myers. HALLOWEEN also gave Jamie Lee Curtis her big break, earning her her scream queen status and setting the standard for the strong, brave, heroic leading lady who not only survives in the end, but defeats the killer (albeit temporarily). While Myers stalks his victims in what would typically be viewed as a “safe” setting — a beautiful autumn day in a suburban town — it’s the film’s eerie main theme that foreshadows what’s to come.
“What an excellent day for an exorcism.”

4. THE EXORCIST (1973)
PLOT: A pre-teen possessed by a demon projectile-vomits and masturbates with a crucifix.
THOUGHTS: Regan’s possessed face, green and scarred, is enough to scare the bejesus out of anyone, not to mention those demonic voices coming out of the young girl’s mouth. THE EXORCIST was the closest thing to your worst nightmare than anything you’ve ever seen before. It was also one of the most profane movies of all time, full of blasphemous language and activities (most of which we can’t speak about in a family-oriented website), and even with all that, it was still nominated for ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture — a feat not commonly accomplished in the horror genre.



5. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968)
PLOT: The recently deceased arise and terrorize a group of survivors trapped in a farmhouse.
THOUGHTS: Its gritty realism and gore intensified the horror movie. Its depiction of the undead set the standard for years to come. And over night, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD gave new life to what has become one of the strongest and beloved sub-genres of the field — the zombie movie. Directed by George A. Romero, on a $100,000 budget, the flick also introduced the world to the splatter film and set the stage for bloodfests like THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. It’s one of the most imitated films in history, but there’s only one original.



6. ALIEN (1979)
PLOT: After ripping through a crew member’s chest, a sick-looking extraterrestrial hunts down those aboard the spaceship Nostromo.
THOUGHTS: Why is this movie so terrifying? Answer: The Alien. A ruthless, heartless, indefatigable, life-destroying, six-foot-tall, insect-like killer. The only goal of this beast is the perpetuation of the breed by the utter annihilation of everything else. The brilliant flow of the film, a cunning and suspenseful mix of gore and shock, is the stuff of legend. From the outset, you are struck by the visual completeness of this movie and how it revolves around the shear terror of the Alien, which was created and built by the nightmare genius of H.R. Giger. Yet, the Alien itself is actually on screen for only something like six minutes!



7. HELLRAISER (1987)

PLOT: A young girl discovers a gateway to hell…and its guardians.
THOUGHTS: The concept of hell is scary all on its own, but add to it a group of sadomasochistic avatars decked out in black leather and gaping wounds, headed by the mother of all pincushions, and you’ve got yourself a real screamer. The Clive Barker-penned HELLRAISER introduced a new dimension to the horror genre by presenting pain as a means of pleasure — pleasure attained through unending pain and suffering, administered courtesy of the instantly classic ‘Pinhead’ and his brood of Cenobite masochists. Unlike mindless slasher films that flooded the box office prior to its release, HELLRAISER changed the way we view hell in the same way that Nightmare on Elm Street changed the way we view dreams.

8. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984)

PLOT: Freddy Krueger terrorizes and kills the teenagers of Elm Street through their dreams.
THOUGHTS: The residents of Elm Street thought they’d be safe once they killed local child murderer Freddy Krueger. Little did they know that the red and green sweater-clad madman would enact revenge by haunting their children’s nightmares, turning them into reality. To his sleep-deprived victims, who fear to fall asleep even for a brief moment, the burnt-faced, boiler-room-dwelling Krueger is an inescapable demon; to the movie-going audience, the clawed-gloved, wise-cracking tormentor is terrifying, yet charismatic as well. While other popular movie killers like Michael Myers and Jason Voorhies are portrayed as cold, mechanical characters, Krueger has personality, which is what makes A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET a cut — or should I say slash? — above the rest.

9. THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974)

PLOT: Psycho and his cannibal family slaughter five teens.
THOUGHTS: This is the granddaddy of the splatter film. Blood, meat hooks, severed body parts, brutality, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE had it all. Not many movies — even in today’s gore-obsessed cinema — have matched its gore and intensity. Presented in a grainy, realistic style, the movie was able to bring home the unreal terrors occurring in the Sawyer house. But more than that, it brought us Leatherface, one of the scariest dudes in horror. And don’t forget the chainsaw, a weapon that would appear in many fright films to come.

10. JAWS (1975)
PLOT: A tenacious great white shark terrorizes a summer resort town.
THOUGHTS: If horror movies are all about scaring the piss out of you, then JAWS reigns supreme. Not many movies had the affect on its audience as the first blockbuster did. As lines grew around theater houses, attendance at beaches worldwide dwindled. The great white, which barely appeared in the film, has terrified the populace for 30 years. John Williams’ score was so effective that to this day you can’t go near the beach without hearing that driving melody in your head. But beyond all that, director Steven Spielberg artfully crafted one of the most thrilling stories ever to appear on a movie screen.

11. SAW (2004)
PLOT: The Jigsaw Killer wants to teach his victims the value of life by forcing them to complete unthinkable tasks in order to escape an ironic death.
THOUGHTS: For the last decade or so, the horror movie genre has been overflowing with remakes and Americanized versions of popular Japanese flicks. With SAW, audiences finally got an original script-driven vehicle with a twist ending that surprised even the wittiest of moviegoers. Unlike other films whose villains are out for revenge, SAW’s masterminded killer Jigsaw has nothing personal against his victims. All he wants to do is show them just how precious life really is. Too bad for them, it’s the hardest lesson they’ll ever learn.

12. THE OMEN (1976)
PLOT: A U.S. ambassador raises the son of the Devil and an unnamed jackal.
THOUGHTS: The Devil is always a good place to start in a horror movie; throw in a jackal for good measure, and get the demon-spawn Damien as the result of this unholy union. And thus is born the antichrist, not to mention one of the earliest — and greatest — evil children in horror. The movie was such a hit that the name “Damien” to this day is synonymous with evil, and the scene in which Damien’s nanny’s joyfully hangs herself at the young boy’s birthday party is one of the most memorable moments in the horror genre. The movie spawned three sequels and a recent remake.

13. ZOMBIE (1979)
PLOT: A young woman sets out to a tropical island to solve the mystery of her father’s disappearance and encounters the undead.
THOUGHTS: NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD may have been the spark that kicked off the zombie party, but as far as creepy, gory, nightmare-inducing cinema goes, Lucio Fulci’s ZOMBIE is the film that finishes off the tequila, screws the dog, and vomits in your grandmother’s urn. Ask anyone who’s seen it and without fail they’ll relay two things: A fat zombie fights a shark underwater; and one of the female leads gets her eye impaled on a huge splinter…very slowly — a scene which caused the movie to be banned in several European countries, including England (Wankers!). The movie was so wildly popular that it is considered the film which ignited the hyper-realistic gore genre in Europe, spawning dozens of celluloid expositions of the undead.

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Camel Caravan


Here's is an interesting photo of a desert caravan by photographer George Steinmetz.

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Art in Miniature









Check out a truly gifted craftsman. Willard Wigan sculpts in miniature and I do mean "mini," on the head of a pin, in the eye of a needle, in the point of a pencil, and even on a human hair. The patience he has is inspiring. His sculptures are so small that he can only carve in-between heartbeats so his hand isn't moving.

Check out his website.

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Worcester Wreath marks 2006 with expansion of the Arlington Wreath Project


Since 1992 Merrill Worcester, owner of Worcester Wreath, has provided Christmas wreaths for Arlington National Cemetery, over 5000 a year. I never knew this. Apparently each year groups of Maine school kids make a special trip to the cemetery to help out. This year Worcester is beginning to expand his project to include other state and national cemeteries. Its strange how such a little thing as placing a wreath on a tombstone can touch us so much. I think it forces us to once again remember the sacrifice some have given their country. Mr. Worcester seems to get it. Let's hope this inspires others.


Worcester Wreath marks 2006 with expansion of the Arlington Wreath Project

Our Mission: Remember - Honor - and Teach

Remember the fallen;

Honor those who serve;

Teach our children the value of freedom.

2006 will mark the 15th anniversary of holiday wreaths being sent from the State of Maine to Arlington National Cemetery. Each year the folks at Worcester Wreath Company make and decorate wreaths that will adorn over 5000 headstones of our Nation’s fallen heroes - in what has become an annual event coordinated with the Cemetery Administration and the Maine State Society.



Row after row of bleached white stones, with evergreen wreaths and red bows – it is a stirring image to commemorate those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

What started over 15 years ago, as one's man's dream to honor Veterans with Maine wreaths for the holidays, has become an annual event cherished by many. Humbled with a new understanding about the impact the Arlington Wreath Project has made, not only in honoring the dead, but recognizing the sacrifices of the living, Morrill Worcester - President of Worcester Wreath Company committed himself to doing more, by reaching out across the country.

New in 2006!

Spurred by the tremendous outpouring of letters and interest, and to celebrate the 15 years of giving, Worcester Wreath Company solicited Civil Air Patrol and its members to help expand the reaches of the Arlington Wreath Project with Wreaths Across America – the placing of memorial wreaths during a special ceremony at each of the over 230 State and National Cemeteries, and Veterans Monuments across the country.

Morrill Worcester - President of Worcester Wreath Company explains his desire to develop the Wreaths Across America project:

"Our goal is to expand the recognition of those who serve our country, both past, present, and future, as well as their families who deserve our support. Without the sacrifices of our veterans, there would be no opportunity to enjoy the freedoms, the life we live today."

Worcester Wreath invites you to attend the annual wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery, or in your local area.

Thursday, December 14th, 2006 - More details coming soon!

The list of locations is growing each day and our goal with Civil Air Patrol is to involve every State and National cemetery, Veterans Monument and Memorial across the country.

Note: If you are not able to attend, please participate by taking a moment of silence at the noon hour on December 14th, to reflect on the sacrifices made and freely given, by those who will not be home for the holidays.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Scrybe - The Online Productivity Suite

We've heard for years that online apps would replace our offline ones, online spreadsheets, email readers, calendars, word processors, photo suites, and music collections. We have gotten closer but one of the big holdups with such apps is what will I do when there is no internet service available. Google Calendar is fine until you need to use it without the internet. That's why Scrybe looks interesting. It would allow you to use your calendar anywhere that has internet access but also allow you to use a perfectly synced offline version when the internet is not accessible. Since I use a laptop on the go and am without internet service in many places this would be ideal. Especially if it synced quietly in the background when I was back online. The video shows a lot of features but we will have to see if it lives up to the hype. Looks good so far.



Scrybe - the online productivity suite I'm dying to try

by Jason Clarke


In this era of worshipping at the temple of "The David" (Getting Things Done), there is no shortage of offline and online productivity suites. With that in mind, I rarely get all that excited about the new Web 2.0 offerings that get a bit of buzz here and there. But Scrybe appears to be different.

Way different.

Like wow different. Here, just watch:



Scrybe is an online organizer that is grounded in one word: context. The user interface is designed to always give the user context relating to the data they are dealing with. So if you're working in your calendar, you can fly up to a year view, or dig down all the way to a day view, and all of the related information is intelligently displayed so that you never lose track of where you are. Watching the video on their site, you immediately get a feeling of "that just makes sense". Google Calendar is good, but doesn't appear to be as good as this.

Before moving on to other features of the online organizer, I should stop for a moment and mention that while Scrybe is an online organizer, it's the first one to support the ability to work with it offline, seamlessly. You simply set your browser to offline mode, and navigate to your Scrybe account the way you would if you were online, and everything works exactly as it does online. As soon as you have an internet connection, your changes will synchronize back to your online account.

The video shows seamless importing of popular document formats like Excel, Word and Acrobat, and can take a list from Excel and turn it into a todo list immediately. Information from within Scrybe can also be exported back out to these popular formats.

The Todo list portion of Scrybe is also grounded in the concept of always maintaining context; a list for a specific project will contain items that are also related to dates, for example, as well as a parent category for Work, Home, or however else you choose to organize your todo lists. Todos can be viewed based on any of these contexts, as well as viewed by the date that reminders have been set for them. Think Backpack on steroids.

There is a note taking component to Scrybe as well, that seems somewhat similar to Google Notebook, but maintains connections to the other portions of the Scrybe organizer, therefore maintaining your frame of reference - yet again, it's about context.

Finally, Scrybe takes an interesting perspective when talking about synchronization: instead of worrying about how to interact with the myriad of devices that are out there, they simply provide intelligent printable templates that can be folded and tucked into your back pocket, so you can take all of the relevant information you need with you for the coming week. Brilliant.

Unfortunately, Scrybe is not yet available to try, but the site proudly proclaims that it will be launching in beta in October. Seeing that October is running out, it should be soon. We've been in contact with one of the co-founders, and understand that Scrybe will be running a closed beta initially. We've been promised a beta account during the closed beta period, so we'll certainly give our feedback when that happens. We'll also make sure to let you all know as soon as the public beta is available. For now, check out the video, and let us know in the comments if we're right to be as excited as we are.



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Monday, October 23, 2006

88 Surefire Tips for Succeeding in College

A long list on how to do college right. Some are pretty basic time management tips but others are really good. Like # 16,"Use a loose leaf notebook instead of a spiral bound notebook. Loose leaf notebooks are easier to organize, as they allow you to move your notes around or add handouts where necessary." Most students I see use the spiral bound which are very easy at note taking time but very inefficient when it comes to organizing and preparing for a test.


88 Surefire Tips for Succeeding in College

From oedb.org

Congratulations to those of you who are attending college. A world of opportunities lies before you. But it won't last forever. Chances are you'll only be in college for four or five short years.

So do yourself a favor and take advantage of every moment you have in the next few years. At most colleges you have a plethora of resources there to help you grow into a successful person, if you simply know where to look and are willing to take advantage of them. We've left no stone unturned in collecting the following 88 tips to help you make the most this time.
Seize the Day

1. College Road Take responsibility for your own learning. You're not in high school anymore. Everyone in college is there to learn because they want to, not just to pass because they have to. There are a lot of opportunities for learning in college, often times outside the classroom. Take advantage of every opportunity you can.

2. Appreciate your time in college. You'll never again have so many opportunities with so few responsibilities.
3. Take risks. College isn't just about getting good grades. It is a time to learn more about the world and yourself. Branch out and take risks. Try something new. Meet new friends.
4. Expand your horizons. Classes do not have to only focus on your major or what is best for your future career. Try taking some elective classes in other subjects.
5. Set goals. Every term, reset your goals to keep you motivated and give you something to work toward.
6. Consider your personal interests when choosing your major. Don't just choose a major because of what the current job market is like or because it's what your friends or family members are doing. Choose a program that interests you and that you will enjoy studying.
7. Take some major courses as early as you can. If you can take a course within your major your freshman year, do so. You may learn that you want to switch majors. It's best to learn this as soon as you can.
8. Go abroad. Most colleges offer some type of study abroad program. You may be able to attend classes for a semester or year in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, or South America. Get to know the requirements for these programs early on so you can plan accordingly. Check out studyabroad.com.

Class and Note Taking

9. Prepare for each class as though there would be a pop quiz. The benefit of this is two-fold: firstly, you'll be more able to participate in class; secondly, you'll be prepared if there actually is a pop quiz.
10. Read the syllabus for each of your courses. Understand how many exams and homework assignments there will be. Know how much each assignment is worth. Know what the professor expects of you.
11. Be on time for each class. Better yet, come early. Sit down and get relaxed before class begins. Professors like students who are always present and never late. Moreover, you'll be doing yourself a favor by knowing exactly what material was covered each day. If you have trouble actually getting up early and going to class, consider taking an online class. More universities are beginning to make this an option.
12. Be attentive and stay focused. Avoid distractions such as instant messaging or crossword puzzles. Treat class as though it were an important business meeting. Your professor will appreciate it and you will learn more.
13. Ask questions. If the professor ever says something that you do not understand, never be afraid to ask for clarification. Chances are there are other students in class that also didn't understand.
14. Class Do not write down everything. Write in outline form so your notes will be easy to skim and review. Be sure to take clear, concise notes every class.
15. Use separate notebooks for each class. Or use subject dividers to separate your notes. Try to avoid taking notes for your psychology class in your math notebook. Doing so will make exam preparation much more difficult than it has to be.
16. Use a loose leaf notebook instead of a spiral bound notebook. Loose leaf notebooks are easier to organize, as they allow you to move your notes around or add handouts where necessary.
17. Try to make a friend in each class. If you have to miss a class, you can call your classmate and get the lowdown on what you may have missed. Also, often times partner projects are assigned and it is awkward to have to work with a stranger. If you already know someone in the class, it relieves any tension there may otherwise be.

Studying

18. Find a good place to study. Dorm rooms are often littered with distractions — television, video games, loud music, your roommate's girlfriend, etc. Find a quiet place that will work for you, whether it be a study lounge down the hall from your room or the library across campus. Treat studying like you're going to work each day.
19. Establish a routine study time. Getting into a rhythm at the beginning of every term will help you stay focused and disciplined. Lacking a routine may lead to bad habits or apathy.
20. Take breaks while studying. If you have several hours of studying to do the day before a big exam, break up your studying routine into 50-minute sessions, followed by five- or 10-minute breaks. Studying for several hours nonstop will not be very helpful.
21. Stay on top of your reading. Almost every college class will require reading. A lot of reading. Don't fall behind or it will cost you.
22. Prepare a list of questions to ask. As you're reading, you may come across some things that you don't fully understand. Write down these questions to ask your professor when you're in class the next day.
23. Use a highlighter. Highlight passages that are particularly important and that you should review further. Avoid highlighting entire pages.
24. Use a pencil. Write in the margins any notes you may want to make while you're reading. Then when you re-read the material a few weeks later for the final exam, you should just be able to go over these margin notes.
25. Use a dictionary. Improve your vocabulary by looking up any unfamiliar words you may come across as you're reading.
26. Find a study partner or two. Study partners can help you stay focused and can point out some things that you may have overlooked.
27. Get notes for any classes you may have missed. Never assume that you know what was covered in classes that you may have missed. Get notes from a classmate for that day. Or consider using a note sharing service like stu.dicio.us or mynoteIT.

Test Taking

28. Begin studying at least three days before an exam. Study for about two or three hours per day if you have to. But don't wait until the day before your exam to cram for eight hours. You won't remember much and you'll be worn out come test time.
29. Go to bed early the night before an exam. Getting plenty of rest the day before the exam will keep your mind sharp. You don't want to be feeling sleepy during an exam.
30. Arrive early on exam day. Take a seat five or 10 minutes before the exam starts to allow you time to relax and get your mind prepared for the challenge ahead.
31. Read the instructions of the test very carefully. You may know the material inside and out but that won't make one bit of difference if you can't obey simple instructions.
32. Review the entire test before you answer any questions. Plan ahead. If your exam period is 90 minutes long, don't spend an hour on the first part only to find out that there are still two equally challenging parts to go. Spend the first minute of the exam planning how much time you think you will need to spend on each question or section. Answer what you know first and then come back to more difficult questions.
33. Check the back of every page. Nothing feels worse than getting a test back and realizing you only answered half of the questions.
34. Be sure to answer the question in full. Read each essay question carefully, then read it again and again until you have a firm grasp on exactly how to answer it. You may have a terrific answer to give, but if you only answer half the question, that won't make for a very good grade.

Writing Papers

35. Start early on those long term papers. Especially when a lot of research is involved, beginning the planning and outlining stages of a term paper weeks ahead of the due date will benefit you greatly. Be certain you can get all of the research materials you need before you begin writing.
36. Prepare an outline before you start writing. Never write a long paper from start to finish without taking a look at the big picture first. Outlining the entire paper before you begin will help you develop and convey your ideas better.
37. Use the writing center. Most colleges offer a writing center with assistants that will teach you how to become a better writer. Turn in your first drafts here and they will point out your writing flaws so you can improve. Often times, just one visit to the writing center could improve your paper a full letter grade.
38. Beware plagiarism. Taking credit for another person's thoughts or words by plagiarizing or cheating is grounds for expulsion at most colleges. Know how to cite your sources within your papers and do so consistently.
39. Don't believe everything you read on the Internet. The Internet is a powerful learning and research tool. While there are a lot of credible sources available online, be aware that anyone nowadays can set up a Web page. Just because it's online doesn't make it fact.

College Resources

40. Seek counseling if you're lonely or depressed. Most college campuses offer a counseling center to offer aid to troubled students. Don't be afraid to take advantage of this resource if you need to.
41. Find a tutor if you need help. Your student peers or teaching assistants often serve as tutors in subjects that are giving you struggles. Seek them out and let them help you understand what the professor cannot. Often times, it's easier to learn from someone similar in age to you.
42. Take advantage of the library. It may not be as easy as doing a Google search, but the quality of the sources in a university library is second to none. You'll be able to research centuries-old articles from newspapers or read an entry from a scientific journal. Those are just two examples of things a university library can offer you that the World Wide Web cannot.
43. Find out who your advisor is and visit regularly, at least once per term. This will help keep you on track for graduation. Your advisor can also help you choose a major or give you recommendations on which classes you should take.
44. Get to know your professors. It is pretty easy to coast through college without ever getting to know your professors. It will take a bit of effort to get many of them to even learn your name. But doing so could really pay off when you need a letter of recommendation or if you plan on doing an independent study.
45. Know when your professors' office hours are. Try to visit each professor at least once per term. And never be afraid to go into office hours needing extra help or ask a question or two. Remember your professors are there to help you learn. Take advantage of that.

Career Planning

46. Get a suit. Wear it to any job interviews. Employers will expect you to dress your best when they first meet you.
47. Work on your resume. A resume isn't just another homework assignment that takes you 10 minutes to write up really quickly before class. This is a major document that will help you land a job after you graduate. Spend hours on it if you have to. Seek help from a career counselor so you know what you should include and how it should be formatted. Seek additional tips from JobStar.
48. Visit the career center. The guidance counselors are there to help you work on your resume and job interviewing skills. They want to help you. So let them. Schedule appointments and try to attend their sessions at least once each term. Don't be afraid to see a career counselor even if you're just a freshman. It's never too early to start planning your future.
49. Go to career fairs. Most college campuses will have at least one career fair per year. Attend it. You'll get a chance to mingle with potential employers and find out what careers are available to you after college.
50. Find a summer internship. Don't blow your summer sitting on the couch in your parents' house. Do something for your future by securing an internship. You may not get paid much, if anything, but you are very likely to help land yourself a job after graduation.
51. Be on time for job interviews. In your junior and senior years, you may have the opportunity to interview with potential employers. This is your first impression on them. Make it a good one. Click here for more job finding tips.

Money Management

52. College savings Consider every possible source of financial aid. Check with your school's financial aid and admissions offices, your academic college, your church, clubs or special interest groups to which you or your parents belong, professionals working in your major field, scholarship resource books, and honor societies and fraternities. There is a lot of free scholarship money available out there if you know where to look. Use FinAid! to find scholarships and loans.
53. Don't give up on your financial aid search. You may not find a lot of education money right away. But stick with it because you could save thousands of dollars.
54. Know the guidelines and due dates of paperwork for your financial aid awards. And be sure to stay on top of this. Nothing could be worse than losing a scholarship or financial aid award because you lost some paperwork or missed a due date. A mistake like this could cost you thousands of dollars.
55. Never buy new textbooks... unless you enjoy improving your college bookstore's bottom line. Buying new textbooks is for suckers and can put a huge hole in your budget. Always try to buy a used textbook or even check out a copy from your library before you buy a new textbook. You could save a couple hundred bucks each term.
56. Shop early for books. You'll find the best selection of used materials. If you don't get to the bookstore until a week or two into the new term, chances are they'll be out of used materials by then and you might be stuck having to purchase a new textbook at an outrageous price.
57. A credit card is not free money... no matter how often you are bombarded with advertisements that may lead you to believe otherwise. If you do get a credit card, just be sure to pay off the amount in full each month, or you will start to get into deep credit card debt. Deep debt can prevent you from getting a car or a house mortgage later in life. On the positive side, paying your credit card bills in full on time will help establish your personal credit.
58. Set a budget. And stick to it. Figure out how much money you make each month and estimate how much you will spend each month. Never spend more than you earn. Read Bankrate's 12 money-management tips for college students.
59. Don't blow all your money. Most college students are on a tight budget. Don't blow all of your money on alcohol or junk food. Put a little into a savings account each month, even if it's not that much.
60. Get a part-time job to make some extra cash. If you live on campus, an on-campus job in food services, with a professor, or in one of the college offices might be worth looking into. At some schools, tutoring or working for the school newspaper will pay you, too.
61. Use your meal plan. It'll save you a lot of money to eat what you've already paid for. Also, your dining hall will usually be much healthier than eating from the dollar menu at a fast food restaurant.
62. Watch those cell phone minutes. Running up your cell phone bill is very easy to do, as cell phone service providers charge huge premiums for each minute of overuse. Most plans allow for free nights and weekend minutes. So if you have a call to make that can wait until then, it could save you big bucks.
63. Know off-campus costs. If you want to move off campus, be aware of the additional costs of living.

Time Management

64. Don't procrastinate. Whatever the assignment may be, if you have some free time, just do it now. Otherwise, you'll be stuck doing it later. If an assignment takes longer than you had expected, you'll have wished that you had begun it sooner instead of waiting until the last minute. Read more about procrastination from the University of North Carolina.
65. Use a planner or calendar to keep track of due dates. Missing a paper deadline or forgetting exam dates is inexcusable. Avoid this by shelling out a few bucks for a planner. And use it regularly.
66. Set priorities and don't be afraid to cut back on a few things. Being captain of the lacrosse team, student government president, and editor of the yearbook all while getting a degree in chemical engineering might look great on a resume, but for most people, taking on so many activities is impractical. Take a serious look at what is important to you. If you feel overloaded, don't be afraid to drop an activity or two. Click here to learn how to balance your job and your classwork.
67. Time is on your side. There are 168 hours in each week. If you set aside 56 hours for sleep and 40 hours for academics, that leaves you with 72 hours for everything else. Click here for more time management tips.
68. Leave reminders for yourself. Have a meeting tomorrow at noon? Leave a post-it note on your door so you don't forget.
69. Avoid time wasters. As fun as it may be to stay up all night watching television or playing Tecmo Bowl, perhaps you shouldn't do so with a big paper due the next day.

Campus Life

70. When living in the dorm, take it all in stride. You may be required to live in a dorm your freshman year. Don't expect much in terms of privacy, personal space, quiet time, or even cleanliness. But enjoy some of its perks, namely the camaraderie with your dorm mates and the proximity to your classes.
71. Avoid athlete's foot. Invest in a pair of shower shoes, especially if you live in a dorm with a communal shower.
72. Lock your doors. You may have a lot of valuables in your room — computer, jewelry, clothes, stereo, television. Don't make it easy for someone to come in and take something.
73. Party. Mingle and meet people. Don't stay locked up in your room or your library all the time. Go out and enjoy yourself every once in a while. Just don't party too hard too frequently.
74. Join a student organization. Whether it be student government or ballroom dancing, join a club of other people with similar interests to your own. You'll make close friends and do activities that you enjoy.
75. Join an intramural team. Not only will this help you stay in shape, but you'll make new friends with your teammates.
76. Join a club in your major. Most majors will have some sort of honors society or extracurricular club on campus. Joining such a club will get you involved with other students in your classes and will likely put you in personal contact with one or two of the professors, as they are often the moderators of these clubs.

Survival

77. Eat healthy. Your mom's home cooked meals are no longer an option. Try to eat at your dining hall as often as you can and be sure to eat your fruits and vegetables. A diet of greasy pizza and beers every night isn't exactly first-rate eating.
78. Exercise. P.E. classes usually are not required in college as they were in high school. Account for this by going on runs, using the student gym, or simply throwing the football around.
79. Find out what health services has to offer. Many university health service centers offer free flu shots, STD testing, and birth control.
80. Take care of yourself when you're sick. You mom is no longer around to make sure you get plenty of fluids and chicken noodle soup. You'll have to do this on your own. Check out WebMD's Cold and Flu Survival Guide. If you're sick for more than a day or two, consider seeing a doctor or nurse at the university health center.
81. Get plenty of rest. Seldom do college students get enough sleep. Try to get as much sleep as you can each night. Doctors recommend at least eight hours per night for college aged students.
82. Be safe. Get the scoop on underage drinking, drugs, and sex. If you're ever uncomfortable, just say no.
83. Designate a driver or have enough cash for a cab. Never take a ride home from a drunk friend. It's a good way to get killed. Take a cab if you need to. A few extra bucks spent could save your life.
84. Be lawful. Getting into trouble with the law could cause your scholarships to be revoked or could even get you expelled from school. Also be sure to read the campus rule book for any special university rules you may be expected to follow.
85. Pack lots of underwear and socks. You don't really need to do laundry until you run out of these two essentials.
86. Homesickness is natural. Almost every freshman experiences it. Just know that you're not alone and that you will get over it.
87. Become familiar with your college town. Know where the local grocery store, gas station, pharmacy, and hospital are. You may need them all at some point during your college career.
88. Make travel plans well in advance. Are you planning to fly home for Thanksgiving or Christmas? Want to take a trip to Aruba for spring break? Make sure to start planning well in advance. You'll get the best rates on flights if you start looking at least two months ahead of time.

Considering all of the learning experiences in front of you, college should be the best years of your life. Appreciate the time you have as a college student. There are a lot of opportunities for you in a time when you will have relatively few responsibilities. Of course, everyone will undergo struggles in this period, but that is part of what makes college so unique and challenging. Don't be afraid to take advantage of the resources at your fingertips while you have them there. Seize the day, and remember, as Tom Petty once said, "The work never ends, but the college does."

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Sunday, October 22, 2006

Creative Disables FM Recording In Zen

Read the fine print alert. If you don't read the fine print on the latest firmware update for your Creative Zen music player you may be surprised that you are losing features rather than enhancing or fixing them. The Zen plays music files, has an FM tuner and a record feature. You can even record from the radio. But apparently this was too much for the music industry who have hated the word record since LP's were replaced by CD's. I admit I know a little about downloading free music files but I have never come across an uploaded song recorded from the radio. That was something straight from the tape days of the eighties. The radio recording feature seems like personal use to me and no assurance that an illegal activity is being committed. It reminds me of the VCR recording arguments of old. This is why people detest the RIAA and DRM. It doesn't hinder pirates. It annoys legitimate users and if I was a Zen user and had this feature disabled, I would be on the phone with Creative. If you do call just remember to tell them you own the copyright to your speech and they aren't allowed to record the call.

Creative Disables FM Recording In Zen
By: Aalaap Ghag

The latest firmware update for the Zen Vision:M sneaks in a “feature update” that’s sure to tick off most of its users who decided upon buying the device due to its FM tuning and recording capability. The update disables recording, so even though you can listen to FM radio on your Zen Vision:M, you can’t record it anymore.

The removal of the FM recording feature is a result of potential violation of copyright. Queries to tech support were replied to by saying that the “FM recording feature is removed due to licensing issues.”

Is this the first domino to fall in a series that could probably wipe out the existence of big name products that record media such as DVD recorders, hard disk drive-based PVRs, and even cassette recorders, if anyone still buys those?

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According To Some Federal Courts And Public Schools: Christianity Out, Islam In

Another ridiculous decision. It seems that in California it is OK to require children not just to learn about Islam but to actually require them to abide by Islamic beliefs.
If we replaced the word Muslim with Christian this would have been overturned immediately by the courts. Apparently its OK to mention god in school but only the god of Islam. This is not separation of church and state; it is separation of Christianity and state.


According To Some Federal Courts And Public Schools: Christianity Out, Islam In


ANN ARBOR, MI – A three-week intensive indoctrination into the Islamic faith by a California public school district was allowed to stand by the U. S. Supreme Court last week. A California federal trial court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had earlier ruled that such indoctrination was constitutional.

The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, outraged by the obvious double standard in the application of the Establishment Clause jurisprudence by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has held “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional, but allows this kind of Islamic instruction in public schools, had requested that the Supreme Court review the case.

The materials used by Byron Union School District seventh graders stated, “From the beginning, you and your classmates will become Muslims.” Students were instructed to accept as “fact” that Jihad is “a struggle by Muslims against oppression, invasion, and injustice,” and to accept as “truth” that the Koran “is God’s word as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.” Students were taught the five duties (Pillars of Faith) all Muslims must fulfill and were required to complete a project for each duty, including fasting, in order to pass.

According to Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Law Center, “This three-week course was for the most part propaganda that could be used to unwittingly recruit home grown terrorist. Nevertheless, some public schools are allowing this kind of religious instruction under the guise of diversity instruction.”

Impressionable twelve-year-old students were required to take Islamic names, wear identification tags that displayed their new Islamic name and the Star and Crescent Moon. Students also were handed materials that instructed them to “remember Allah always so that you may prosper,” and memorized and recited the “Bismillah” or “In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate,” which students also wrote on banners that were hung on the classroom walls. Students also had to memorize parts of Islamic prayers and verses from the Koran.

Thompson continued, “No federal court would have permitted a class where public school students were taught to ‘become Catholics’ for three weeks, selected a saint’s name, wore identification tags that displayed their new name and a Crucifix, and engaged in Catholic religious practices. Here, however, students were subjected to Islamic religious indoctrination and propaganda and the courts turned a blind eye. The Supreme Court missed an opportunity to demonstrate that the Establishment Clause is to be applied the same to all religions and is not just a weapon to be used only against Christians.”

Edward L. White III, trial counsel with the Thomas More Law Center who handled the case, commented, “I am surprised the Supreme Court did not accept this case for review. The case presented significant issues of national importance concerning public school education and religious indoctrination of children.”

The Thomas More Law Center defends and promotes the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life through education, litigation, and related activities. It does not charge for its services. The Law Center is supported by contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations, and is recognized by the IRS as a section 501(c)(3) organization. You may reach the Thomas More Law Center at (734) 827-2001 or visit our website at www.thomasmore.org.

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Chairman of the House Armed Services Committe asks Pentagon to remove embedded CNN reporters

CNN airs what amounts to a terrorist recruitment film in an effort to inform us that in war people die. NO JOKE! It's strange how they won't air the original 9/11 footage with people jumping out of the towers because we can't handle it but we can stomach video of snipers shooting and perhaps killing our soldiers complete with terrorist narration. Of course CNN wouldn't be profiting from this would they? No! They are a news reporting agency, ratings and profit don't matter to them. Please!! They even advertise that it is a CNN exclusive. Don't get me wrong, I don't want news agencies not to report the news but showing the video was wrong. Just like showing the terrorist beheading Americans is wrong. You can report the news with sensibility. And don't act so high and mighty about your status as a news agency. You play what gets viewers and that seems to be shock videos and one sided reports these days. CNN doesn't need to be embedded with our soldiers if they only want to report one-sided, shock and sensationalize news stories.


Calif. Republican asks Pentagon to remove embedded CNN reporters
THOMAS WATKINS
Associated Press

SAN DIEGO - The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee asked the Pentagon on Friday to remove CNN reporters embedded with U.S. combat troops, saying the network's broadcast of a video showing insurgent snipers targeting U.S. soldiers was tantamount to airing an enemy propaganda film.

The tape, which came to the network through contact with an insurgent leader, was aired Wednesday night on "Anderson Cooper 360" and repeated Thursday.

In a letter to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., wrote: "CNN has now served as the publicist for an enemy propaganda film featuring the killing of an American soldier."

The letter was also signed by San Diego-area Republican congressmen Darrell Issa and Brian Bilbray.

"This is nothing short of a terrorist snuff film," Bilbray said at a press conference held in San Diego.

CNN producer David Doss wrote in a Web log Thursday the network televised the footage in an effort to present the "unvarnished truth" about the Iraq war.

In one instance, the tape shows a uniformed member of the U.S. military milling in a public area with Iraqis. A shot rings out. CNN fades the screen to black before the result - described as a victim falling forward - is visible.

Hunter said he hasn't received a response from Rumsfeld.

A Pentagon spokesman said Friday he didn't know whether Rumsfeld had seen the letter.

"The department takes this very seriously and will look into the matter and respond accordingly to the member in due course," said Lt. Cmdr. Chito Peppler.

CNN officials defended their decision to air the footage.

"Our responsibility is to report the news," said Laurie Goldberg, a CNN spokeswoman. "As an organization we stand by our decision and respect the rights of others to disagree with it."

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

O.J. Simpson to confess — hypothetically

Seems OJ is at it again. He is writing a "what if" book. He isn't confessing but is writing a hypothetical book on what if he did commit the double murder. Even if this guy is innocent, and I don't believe that's the case, what kind of person writes a book like that, especially if you were the prime (translated: only) suspect.




O.J. Simpson is confessing. Hypothetically, that is.

The former football great, who was acquitted in criminal court 11 years ago of killing his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman, reportedly has been paid a whopping $3.5 million to write about the double murder that shocked and riveted the nation in 1994, according to a detailed report in the new National Enquirer.

But Simpson is not actually confessing to the murder — rather, he’s writing a “hypothetical” book — which the Enquirer reports is tentatively being called “If I Did It.”

The early part of the book tells how Simpson fell in love with Nicole and how the marriage collapsed, reports the tab. He goes on, according to the article, to describe in gruesome detail the killing of his ex-wife and Goldman; he stipulates that the murder scenes are “hypothetical.” But, notes the tab, the descriptions are “so detailed and so chillingly realistic” that readers are left with little doubt as to what really happened.

Simpson can never be retried for the murders because of double jeopardy laws, according to the Enquirer, which also claims that Simpson aims to keep any book money instead of paying it out in a civil suit judgment against him by spending it all quickly.

By Jeannette Walls

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Creative advertising that makes you look twice

Here is a site with some really interesting advertising photos.

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Basic Financial Planning

Here is a good, very basic financial plan. It's a great starting point and really only needs to be changed if you have specific goals. The only thing that it lacks is some international mix which you can set up in your 401(k), IRA, or stock portfolio. I would have the portfolio's stock and bond mix change based upon how far away from retirement you are but that starts to take away from the goal of being a simple financial plan.


What Holds You Back?

Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, wrote a book called “The Way of the Weasel.”In it, he lays out a one-page list for how to manage your money. While I recognize that a book consisting largely of cartoon is an unorthodox place to find sound financial advice, I think he is spot on – if you do these things you will be fine:


1. Make a will.
2. Pay off your credit cards.
3. Get term life insurance if you have a family to support.
4. Fund your 401(k) to the maximum.
5. Fund your IRA to the maximum.
6. Buy a house if you want to live in a house and can afford it.
7. Put six months expenses in a money market account.
8. Take whatever money is left over and invest 70% in a stock index fund and 30% in a bond fund through any discount broker and never touch it until retirement.
9. If any of this confuses you, or you have something special going on (retirement, college planning, a tax issue), hire a fee-based financial planner, not one who charges a percentage of your portfolio.

Done. I get it, and if you are here reading this blog you get it also. OK, so how many items on the list have you actually completed? We’ve done four of the first eight, but I believe we can hit all eight by the end of the year – I’m showing the list to my wife and am going to hold us to it.

If you had shown me this list seven years ago I’d have still been working on getting my credit cards paid off – the rest of the list would have seemed a distant dream.

There are really three challenges facing people:

* Knowing what to do (easy, see above)
* Being able to do it, i.e. having money to save, invest or buy a home (hard, a lot of good decision need to be made to get you to this point)
* Making the decision and taking action to fund retirement. You know what to do, you saved the money, and now you just have to do it (should be easy, but it’s not)

Putting money into 401(k)s and funding IRAs is hard. There are always reasons to not do it, but they really boil down to an unwillingness to take action with money. I’ve spoken to friends about why this might be and the reasons vary, but they usually come down to this one thing: we don’t want to make a bad decision, so we don’t make any decisions at all…which is of course a bad decision.

My new goal with money isn’t to get things perfect, and instead get it mostly right, i.e. Get the nine things on the list done. I believe if we do this, over the next 35 years, we’ll be fine when it comes time to retire.

Fear of making a mistake held us back, but I’d be curious to hear from people where they are being held up in their financial goals?

Written by Jason Knight

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Visa halts its service for allofmp3.com

This sounds like the hammer hitting the death nail for Allofmp3.com. If you have never heard of Allofmp3.com it is a Russian based music store. You could by a whole album for as little as a buck with no copyprotection. Apparently according to Russian law, 15% of the sale price goes to a central Russian agency that then distributes it to the artists. The US music industry (RIAA) did not like this arrangement because it did not set an actual price but a percentage which is why allofmp3 could charge such a low price.

The RIAA has been lobbying the US government to apply pressure to the Russian government to stop this. Since they could not stop them along the legal route it looks like they pressured Visa to do the dirty work. Visa will now not allow you to use their card for a perfectly legal activity; they have made a moral decision. Does this mean that you can't use your Visa at casinos or how about stopping the use of Visa for buying cigarettes and alcohol.

Allofmp3 is now going to an ad supported format. You download a song for free but it can only be played on their media player installed on your computer and it can't be copied to multiple computers. This of course will kill them. It's turning into a radio station and I can get a radio station without downloading an ad-supported media player.


Visa halts its service for allofmp3.com
Beleaguered music download site says it will stop discounting songs and give them away, says newspaper report.
By Greg Sandoval
Staff Writer, CNET News.com


Credit card company Visa International said Wednesday that it has suspended service to music download site allofmp3.com, the latest setback for the Russian company accused in the U.S. of pirating music.


"It's no longer permitted to accept Visa cards," said Simon Barker, a Visa International spokesman. "The action we've taken is in line with legislation passed in Russia and international copyright law."

The news comes as allofmp3.com launches a public relations campaign to counter claims by the U.S. government that the site is an outlaw operation. On Tuesday, allofmp3.com announced plans to give away hundreds of thousands of albums for free, according to a story in the International Herald Tribune.

U.S. trade representatives say allofmp3.com is profiting from unauthorized music sales. Executives of allofmp3.com say that the company carefully adheres to copyright law in Russia. That doesn't satisfy U.S. music labels' concerns about copyright infringement, however.

Like music download sites that came before it, such as Napster and Kazaa, allofmp3.com offers unlicensed music for deeply discounted prices.

After years of court battles, Napster and Kazaa now cooperate with record companies. Other sites around the globe, such as Spain-based Weblisten.com, have succumbed to legal pressure and shut their doors.

The U.S. has indicated that by allowing allofmp3.com to continue operating, Russia could be jeopardizing its bid to join the World Trade Organization.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Ask Ms. Dewey

For a little entertainment while you search try this search engine.

Ms. Dewey

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MySpace Predator Caught by Code

Parents keep your kids off MySpace. Would you let your kids go to the mall if you knew that there were 744 sex offenders there? If you are going to let them hang out on MySpace at least educate them. Set rules and monitor. The internet is a great place but like the real world, kids need guidance and limitations on where they can and can't go.



MySpace Predator Caught by Code
By Kevin Poulsen


Yaphank, NY -- The computer crimes unit of New York's Suffolk County Police Department sits in a gloomy government office canopied by water-stained ceiling tiles and stuffed with battered Dell desktops. A mix of file folders, notes, mug shots and printouts form a loose topsoil on the desks, which jostle shoulder-to-shoulder for space on the scuffed and dented floor.

I've been invited here to witness the end-game of a police investigation that grew from 1,000 lines of computer code I wrote and executed some five months earlier. The automated script searched MySpace's 1 million-plus profiles for registered sex offenders -- and soon found one that was back on the prowl for seriously underage boys.


That's something that MySpace has said it cannot do. Rather, it is seeking new laws that would make it easier to ban sex offenders from the site through an e-mail registry.

MySpace busts are rare in this unit. About half the work done by the eight detectives here is aimed at online predators, but the networking site poses challenges that open chat rooms -- a dying social scene among today's youth -- never did. "It's a dangerous place for kids," says Frank Giardina, a good-natured, 49-year-old detective with salt-and-pepper hair and a matching mustache. "It's also difficult for law enforcement."

That's because much of what happens on MySpace unfolds outside public view. The computer crime unit has erected bait profiles registered to fake underage teens, but so far the tactic has netted only one arrest. Proactively scouring MySpace pages is futile: The smarter sexual predators stick to private messages, and diligently prune their public comment boards of any posts from young friends that hint at what's happening behind the scenes.

Today's investigatory target, 39-year-old Andrew Lubrano, has been less careful, and now he faces his fourth arrest for a sex crime. Lubrano was sentenced to three years probation in 1987 for sexual abuse against a 7-year-old boy, according to police. In 1988, he got another probation term for second-degree sex abuse. In 1995, he earned a 3 to 9 year prison term for sexually abusing two boys he'd been babysitting, one 11, the other 9.

The parole board turned Lubrano down three times, and he was cut loose in September 2004 largely unsupervised, having served every day of his nine-year max. By November 2005 he was on MySpace, making friends.

In the beginning, Lubrano seemed to use the site innocently. But in April, he began adding teenagers to his friends list. One of the first was Jacob, a gay 14-year-old high school student in Virginia, who reports his age as 16 in his profile. Lubrano starts calling him "sex toy" and asking him about his living situation. Lubrano thanks another Virginia boy for adding him to his friends list by writing "Thanks for the ass, I mean add."

Giardina has been posing as another 14-year-old boy in online chats with Lubrano, and he says he's received less nuanced communiqu├ęs from the offender discussing having oral sex with the fake teen. He shows me part of a chat log, Lubrano asking "u into hair? Like hary (sic) men? Where do you have hair at?"

Lately, Lubrano's been talking about meeting at a camp site or a movie theatre. Today the detective thinks his target is ready to firm up a tentative commitment to meet at a local bowling alley. A signed search warrant is burning a hole in Giardina's pocket.

Serial sex offender Andrew Lubrano's MySpace profile, in June, showed 93 friends, including 6 teenagers he met through the site.

But so far, Lubrano hasn't turned up online. The detective keeps one eye on his monitor as he talks, willing the appearance of the pop-up box that will announce that the predator has logged onto AIM for another chat. "He sent me an e-mail Saturday night, but nothing today," he sighs.

My road to this New York police unit began in Perl.

In May, I began an automated search of MySpace's membership rolls for 385,932 registered sex offenders in 46 states, mined from the Department of Justice's National Sex Offender Registry website -- a gateway to the state-run Megan's Law websites around the country. I searched on first and last names, limiting results to a five mile radius of the offender's registered ZIP code.

Wired News will publish the code under an open-source license later this week.

The code swept in a vast number of false or unverifiable matches. Working part time for several months, I sifted the data and manually compared photographs, ages and other data, until enhanced privacy features MySpace launched in June began frustrating the analysis.

Excluding a handful of obvious fakes, I confirmed 744 sex offenders with MySpace profiles, after an examination of about a third of the data. Of those, 497 are registered for sex crimes against children. In this group, six of them are listed as repeat offenders, though Lubrano's previous convictions were not in the registry, so this number may be low. At least 243 of the 497 have convictions in 2000 or later.
Five of the sex offenders are listed as "absconded" -- one of those still logs in regularly. Others are listed as "in custody," and last logged into MySpace shortly before their arrest. Some are fresh out of custody. One North Carolina user went to prison in 1999 for rape and "indecent liberties with a minor." When he got out this year, he was on MySpace within two months -- though so far his only friend is MySpace's Tom.

A 34-year-old former basketball coach uses MySpace to keep in touch with his one-time students; his sex offender registry entry says he had boys under 13 remove their clothes in front of him. A 33-year-old man who served 18 months for molesting a child under 13 in 1994 set his MySpace motto to "Love knows not age."

For every profile with warning signs, I found eight without. In many cases, the sex offender's MySpace profile is a window into a seemingly normal life: Their comment board is innocent; their image gallery contains a wedding photo or two; the underage friends on their list, if they have any, turn out to be relatives, or adults lying about their age to game MySpace's old security model -- in which only 14- and 15 year-olds enjoyed private profiles.

Lubrano stood out early in the results. His rap sheet was chilling, and by the time I found him, a half-a-dozen underage boys populated his friends list, many commenting on his message board. He lavishes particular attention on Jacob (not his real name), the 14-year-old in Virginia, lamenting the distance from his home on Long Island to the house Jacob shares with his grandparents near Washington D.C. -- about a six hour drive. "Damn," he writes, "it's a shame you don't live close by boy the things we can do."

I sent Lubrano a message through his MySpace account, asking about his conduct, and reached out to seven teenagers with whom he'd been corresponding. When no one replied, I contacted the Suffolk County police, which has jurisdiction over Lubrano's home in Centereach, New York, and was responsible for busting him in 1995. The computer crime unit opened an investigation, and I agreed to hold this story until that investigation was complete.

In my first phone call with Giardina, he was amazed that Lubrano was so easy to find. "He registered on MySpace using his real name? What a nitwit."

Parry Aftab, an internet privacy lawyer, says she's not surprised. "A lot of the bad guys use their real name, as you've seen. It's amazing to me how many. Look at (former-congressman Mark) Foley, the idiot, happy to use his real name and communicate with people who know who he is."

Aftab is executive director of WiredSafety.org, an online safety nonprofit group that works closely with MySpace. She thinks the MySpace offender search results are a chance to drum home to kids that predators are out there -- a reality she says teenagers aren't easily accepting. The Wired News project also illustrates something MySpace could do to make its community safer, she says: hunting down and banning sex offenders from its site. "I don't think they thought about it. But I think that once we bring it to their attention they will. This is a threshold moment in internet safety."

My search left me less convinced that targeting past offenders would be an effective way for MySpace to find current or future predators. By its nature, a search like mine is only going to produce people who use their real names and addresses, and who are perhaps the least likely of the offenders to be up to no good.

But Aftab believes MySpace's crush of young people eager to make friends, posting racy photos and sharing a slice of their daily lives is too strong a temptation to child predators; they simply don't belong on MySpace. Whether it is one, or a thousand, you should kick them off. "You can't take an alcoholic to a bar. You can't take a drug addict to a place where people are smoking grass or doing heroin," she says.

Last week, I told MySpace about my search, and Lubrano. The company's chief security officer, Hemanshu Nigam, responded that MySpace would like to ban sex offenders from the site, but is waiting for new laws that would make it easier to do so. He said the company is lobbying Congress for legislation that would require sex offenders to register their e-mail addresses with a central database. "By having such a database, MySpace and other sites would be able to access it in order to block these individuals from ever registering on the site," Nigam said, in a written statement.

The subject came up in a hearing before a House subcommittee in June. Michael Angus, executive general counsel of Fox Interactive Media, which owns MySpace, talked up the benefits of an e-mail registry at that time, suggesting that name matching against public registries, the very technique I was at the same time applying in the Wired News investigation of MySpace, simply wouldn't work. "The numerous registries aren't readily available to us, he said at one point. He also argued that predators could easily use false names.

That position drew a skeptical line of questioning from Congressman Greg Walden, R-Oregon

"If you're checking for the amount of skin in an image and that sort of thing, and however your logarithms work, you'd think you ought to check, you know, 'John Doe', who happens to be a sex offender, and weed them out," Walden said at the time.


"I believe some of these guys are stupid enough to use their real name. And if you weed out one?"

By Oct. 2, my simple script had brought me to the brink of just such an arrest.

Three hours into the stakeout, watching DrewWho26 fail to appear on AIM is getting tiring. The detectives suspect they've been stood up. It goes like that sometimes, says Giardina -- a perp will get cold feet ahead of the first planned meeting, the second. By the third time, blind hope usually overpowers the cool, rational voice telling the suspect he's being set up, and the day ends with handcuffs.

But with Lubrano, the detectives already have a search warrant. Giardina goes to a phone in a side room and calls Lubrano's house -- Lubrano delivers newspapers for a living, and sometimes sleeps in the afternoon, so a wrong number call might wake him. Someone answers after two rings, and Giardina hangs up. The voice didn't sound like Lubrano's though.

Two of the detectives head out to drive past Lubrano's house and look for his car.

I wander into the small office space. They have a rogue's gallery set up in the corner, three poster boards with 36 mug shots of sex offenders the computer crime unit has busted this year. It's an odd bunch. Some appear young and angry, most are middle-aged, despairing, sunken pale faces. "Some of these are sorry, sorry sacks," says Giardina.

The detectives perk up when I tell them how I found Lubrano. John Friberg, a slender, steel-haired man who looks like CNN's Anderson Cooper, has a degree in computer science, and he asks probing questions about the ins-and-outs of screen scraping MySpace and the DOJ. He's game to try it himself. "Right now we've got the whole big pool of MySpace to try and narrow it down to the sex offenders," he says.

At 2:15 p.m., a detective in the field calls in. "He just got home? Great," Giardina says into the phone. They'll keep watching the house, in case Lubrano leaves again, while back in the office DrewWho26's grayed-out name in the AIM window is eyed with new intensity.

"Send him an e-mail," suggests Friberg. "'Hey, I see you just got home.'" Everyone laughs.

At 2:25 Lubrano comes on. Giardina leans back, hands off the keyboard, waiting for Lubrano to come to him. Instead, the man's out of AIM almost instantly.

Six minutes later, the phone rings again. Lubrano has just left in his car, and the detectives on the scene want to know what to do: Should they pull him over?

No. They'll just tail Lubrano while a patrol car is radioed to make a traffic stop. The remaining cops at the office -- three of them -- pile into a unmarked car and head out, while I follow in my rental.

By the time we get there, Lubrano's in the back of an unmarked cop car and the detectives are doing paperwork and inventorying the contents of his SUV. The cruiser lit up Lubrano on busy street about a mile from his home, and he pulled into the parking lot of a small law practice next door to a motorcycle shop.
Suffolk County police detective take computers out of Lubrano's home in Long Island, shortly after his October 1st arrest.

Two of Lubrano's five children were with him, and they're standing sullenly at the rear of the car. The eldest is 18, with a shock of bristly red hair; he's on his cell phone. The other is 14, and has Down's syndrome. He idly kicks at some fallen leaves, then wanders around to the side of the car, where one of the detectives is still crouched, searching the glove box.

His older brother grabs the boy's arm gently to stop him. Protecting him.

Firberg and another detective head over to Lubrano's home -- a pleasant, ranch-style house on a quiet, shady street. Down the block, kids are tossing a football in their front yard, while the police haul Lubrano's computers out the front door and put them in their hatchback.

Later, the detectives tell me that Lubrano claimed in the car that he didn't go any further with his online friends than some dirty talk. If true, that's good news for the kids, and for Lubrano. Under a July state appellate court decision, merely soliciting a minor for sex online in New York is no longer a felony, unless the perpetrator sends explicit photos as part of the enticement.

Lubrano's is one of the first cases under the new decision, and the next day, the police and the county district attorney hold a press conference to announce that they'd caught a repeat sex offender, and could only charge him with attempting to endanger the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor.

Giardina is optimistic that the local media attention over the light charge will spur a change in the law. Lubrano is being held on bail of $25,000 cash or a $50,000 property bond. He could simply stay in jail and serve out the maximum sentence of 90 days.

In the final analysis, I still believe MySpace is good for kids. Jacob, the boy Lubrano most flagrantly courted, provides a clear example of the site's benefits, as well as its flaws. When the teen recently got in trouble with homophobic bullies at his high school, he came home to MySpace, and quickly garnered an outpouring of sympathy and advice from his friends. Any reaction to the incidents of MySpace predation that would rob Jacob and other children of the promise of such self-expression and support is suspect.

But it's clear that MySpace could do more. It should more diligently employ its technical resources to look for the signs of predation, perhaps automatically scanning the contents of private and public messages between adults and children for sexual content, backed up by a manual inspection. It's difficult to imagine any scenario in which a 39-year-old man should be calling a teenager "sex toy."

It's all up to MySpace. We can't count on parental supervision; how many teenagers looking for a space to hang out in with friends will accept one occupied by parents? We can't count on peer policing; nobody reported Lubrano for his inappropriate comments.

We definitely can't count on teenage street-smarts. Swagger isn't judgment. Young Jacob is a smart guy, but even after he politely rebuked Lubrano for hitting on him, he made plans to meet the man at a Pennsylvania amusement park.

Lubrano didn't initiate the planned meeting; he'd already announced he would be there with his family when Jacob's school scheduled a field trip to the destination. Their plans fell through when Jacob's trip was cancelled.

"Thank Gosh I didn't go," says Jacob.

I'm chatting with Jacob in AIM the day after Lubrano's arrest. I found his screen name in a friend's comment board, and caught him online after school. He calls Lubrano a "friend," but quickly renounces him when he learns that his friend is a child molester. He says he's shocked by the news; but then incongruously explains that he just thought Lubrano was a 39-year-old man who likes young boys.

"I do think its kinda weird for that age to flirt with me and stuff," he writes. "Like, kinda desperate and kinda leading me to think that something's wrong. But I didn't really do anything. I love being complimented. So, I thought it was nice of him to say that he thought I was cute or whatever."

MySpace is a big part of Jacob's life, and his greatest fear is that this story, or the ongoing police investigation, will get him banned from the internet, or he'll lose his MySpace profile. I urge him to be more careful about adding friends -- he has 3,800 of them -- and to make his profile private. He says he will, but so far his MySpace page remains wide open.

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