Wednesday, January 10, 2007

In the Beginning...

My church, First Baptist Church of Orange Park, is encouraging everyone to read through the Bible in 2007. If you haven't, then I would whole heartily recommend it for all. There are several websites that can give you reading lists for each day, and if you prefer to read the verses online or if you don't own a Bible, then you can read them there as well. The sites are: has several different orders to read the Bible which can give you a new perspective if you read the Bible regularly. even lets you have the verses read aloud to you.

If you have read through the Bible before, you might try and pick a different translation to get some new insight. Or try reading it chronologically.

If you are a new Christian, then I don't know if I would recommend reading the Bible straight through. You really need to be reading some of the basic tenants that the Bible teaches and that means doing some jumping around or reading portions that can help you grow and strengthen you as a new believer. I always recommend the book of John for new believers but talk with your mature Christian brothers and sisters for their recommendations.

Regardless of the method, translation or order, the important thing is to get into the Word. Remember too that if you miss a day...then skip it. Don't get hung up on trying to catch up and don't feel guilty. Just pick up with today and move forward. You have a whole lifetime as a Christian and will hopefully read the Bible through many, many times, so don't kill yourself for missing a few days. Besides, reading 98% of the Bible in a year is still more than most. Oh and you can skip the genealogies but only if this is your first time. You seasoned Bible readers have to read through them all! There will be a test.

Read the Bible, pray, worship, fellowship with other believers, witness, and help others. All bring you closer to God.


iPhone - iWant

You'll have to wait till June to get your hands on this!

Apple Funfair


I wish I could have made it to MacWorld 2007, or CES for that matter, but of course, with school 'n' all, I couldn't make it, much to my disappointment.

No matter though, for the good ol' Internet has kept me as well-informed as anything as to what's been going on. Who stole the show? No surprises... Apple, with their iPhone! You didn't know? Well, if the 101 fake leaked pictures hadn't already suggested, the iPhone is a touchscreen wonder, that is currently topping my Feb 15 Birthday list. At least it would be, but in Europe this beauty has a launch date of Q4. Elsewhere it's June... So unfortunately, not for my birthday.

With the iPhone, along came a tiny Bluetooth headset, which looks set to outsell the Microsoft Zune within it's first 48 hours of launch. That said, before Apple went and stole the show with MacWorld, Bill Gates didn't do an all that bad job of delivering a keynote speech to thousands of tech-hungry ravenous press vultures and ProBloggers alike at CES.

Moving back to the iPhone though... What do we know so far? It has spiffy looks (Just check those pictures!), it has a spiffy OS, (OS X to be precise! WOW!), and a whole tonne of spiffy specifications to accompany the spiffyness. What am I on about? A 11.6 MM device... (That's thin by the way... VERY thin!) with a 3.5" touchscreen (WOW!), up to 8GB of storage (Can I christen this thing the king of all things ubery?), automatically engaging WiFi, Bluetooth 2.0, a 2 mega-pixel camera, quad band GSM radio with EDGE, and of course, only the best Internet connection going!

For those of you wondering, Job's iPhone's number is 408-996-1010, or so the big screen behind him at the conference said... Visual Voicemail is another cool feature that caught my eye, along with the menu system on the phone. Why do I bother mentioning it? You know what Apple are capable of, and they've delivered alright! The calls section somewhat reminds me of the latest Skype interface, except it looks far more polished and professional.

Widgets on a phone! How cool? Very self-explanatory though. Apple have chosen to partner with Yahoo! Widgets on this one, (Previously Konfabulator if my memory serves.) In-built Google Maps. Does this mean GPS? Safari web browser? Dude! This is sweet stuff, combined with full, rich-HTML e-mail.

Built in Yahoo! Mail too. Free 'push' IMAP e-mail. Why not GMail? Well, perhaps it might have been, had Google simply stripped the service of it's beta tag.

Who made a surprise appearance this time? No, not a rock singer, but Google CEO, Dr Eric Schmidt. Jerry Yang, co-founder of Yahoo! also made an appearance. It's unclear to what extent the two rival search companies collaborated on this project, but I'm guessing it can only be good news. Both search companies may have had chance to discuss more unified methods of refined searching. Let's What for the Yahoogle! launch any day.

Oh... And Apple Computers Inc are no more. Now to be known simply as Apple Inc! This phone is state of the art. Forget Samsung. Forget Sony. Forget Blackberry. (Could it be? *GASP!*) If any one company wants to compete with Apple, they seriously have their work cut out. Apple are brilliant. Design. Power. Simplicity. Apple my friends, are the future.


Up, Up and Away!

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon is throwing his hat into the civilian space program. He has taken his first step with the November launch of Goddard. A vertical take-off and landing vehicle.

Blue Origin revealed
by Alan Boyle

After years of working behind closed doors and locked gates, founder Jeff Bezos has finally lifted the curtain that shrouded Blue Origin, his space tourism venture.

Among the goodies now displayed on Blue Origin's Web site are photos and videos from the venture's maiden test flight in November, as seen from the ground as well as a rocket-cam ... pictures from the West Texas launch range and Blue Origin's production facility in a Seattle suburb ... and even the Blue Origin coat of arms, emblazoned with the motto "Gradatim Ferociter" (Step by Step, Courageously).

Bezos founded Blue Origin in 2000, with the aim of developing a new type of vertical-takeoff, vertical-landing rocket ship capable of taking passengers to the edge of space. At altitudes in excess of 62 miles (100 kilometers), customers should be able to scan Earth's curving expanse beneath a black sky, experience a few minutes of weightlessness and justifiably brag afterward that they've been to outer space. Blue Origin's current development schedule calls for commercial trips to start in 2010.

Details about the operation have been hard to come by. That bit about 2010, for example, comes from the environmental assessment that was required in order for the Federal Aviation Administration to approve test flights at the Blue Origin launch facility, built on Bezos' sprawling ranch near Van Horn, Texas. Even the illustration on the cover of the draft report was adapted from the design for the Delta Clipper, an earlier-generation rocket ship.

Blue Origin's freshly updated Web site gives the public its first look at Goddard, the rocket prototype that's being used for the initial round of test flights. The cute, conical craft - named after rocket pioneer Robert Goddard - can be seen rising from a circular pad of concrete to a height of about 285 feet (87 meters), then coming back down to a soft landing.

Nine thrusters are on the craft's underbelly. In its literature, Blue Origin says it's developing a peroxide/kerosene propulsion system, so I have to assume that's what's being used here.

Accompanying all the snazzy graphics is a letter from Bezos himself, in which he explains Blue Origin's lofty goal:

"We’re working, patiently and step-by-step, to lower the cost of spaceflight so that many people can afford to go and so that we humans can better continue exploring the solar system. Accomplishing this mission will take a long time, and we’re working on it methodically. We believe in incremental improvement and in keeping investments at a pace that's sustainable. Slow and steady is the way to achieve results, and we do not kid ourselves into thinking this will get easier as we go along. Smaller, more frequent steps drive a faster rate of learning, help us maintain focus, and give each of us an opportunity to see our latest work fly sooner."

He also touts's S3 servers (which are housing the data on the Web site) as well as job opportunities at Blue Origin. The photos show the brand-spanking-new digs at Blue Origin's production facility in Kent, Wash. ... cheering employees at the maiden launch in Texas ... and even a grinning Bezos holding a broken champagne cork ("Fortunately, our other valve operations went more smoothly," he joked).

The employment angle appears to be the motivation behind the increased candor.

"As you noted, the new site does make more information available to potential applicants for positions at Blue Origin," Bruce Hicks, a Houston-based spokesman for the venture, told me in an e-mail.

The glasnost over Goddard still doesn't extend all the way, of course. For example, there's no mention of Blue Origin's second, less spectacular test run in December. In response to my inquiry about that, Hicks said, "I just want to remind you that we said previously we didn't plan to comment one way or another about tests, whether they are scheduled, were scheduled, happened, didn't happen, etc."

This means we'll just have to keep checking the FAA's notices to airmen for word of future tests.

Also, there's no reference to the potential price tag for the commercial flights to come. It may well be that Bezos hasn't yet set a price point (see "patiently and step-by-step," above).

For now, this week's revelations are enough: Based on the video of the first flight, it's clear that Blue Origin could give Armadillo Aerospace a serious run for NASA's money at the next Lunar Lander Challenge in New Mexico - just up the road a piece from Van Horn.


Friday, January 05, 2007

Cowher---I'm Gone

He's young, he has plenty of money, and he knows what's important in life. Taking time off to be with your family is a luxury and if you can do the do. He still has plenty of time to come back and coach. Good luck Cowher and if you are looking for a coaching job in 2008 or 2009 look toward the Jags...there might be an opening.

Cowher resigns to spend more time with family
From AP
Bill Cowher resigned as the Pittsburgh Steelers' coach Friday, stepping aside to spend more time with his family one year after winning the Super Bowl title he had chased since 1992.

The 49-year-old Cowher left with one year left on his contract following an 8-8 season that was a disappointment, especially after last season: The Steelers became the first team to win three playoff games on the road and then win the Super Bowl as a sixth-seeded AFC team.

"History will look back on Bill Cowher as one of the great coaches of all time," Steelers chairman Dan Rooney said.

The Steelers will begin a coaching search immediately to replace the departing Cowher, who called Rooney on Thursday to inform him of his decision. Cowher said he would willingly offer advice about his successor if the Rooney family wanted his opinion.

Cowher, one of the NFL's most recognizable faces and successful coaches, has weighed resigning since shortly after the Steelers finally won the Super Bowl in February. But he wouldn't say Friday he is retiring -- meaning he could return to an NFL sideline some day, though he wouldn't discuss that at his final Steelers news conference.

"That makes you feel old," Cowher said of the word retirement.

Before winning the Super Bowl, Cowher always said his one goal was to hand Rooney the Lombardi Trophy. Rooney returned the favor Friday, handing Cowher a miniature silver trophy at his going-away news conference.

One of the NFL's rarest events now will occur -- a Steelers coaching search. They have had only two coaches since 1969, when they still were playing in Pitt Stadium: Chuck Noll (23 seasons) and Cowher. The Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts have had 15 coaches during that time.

Cowher has talked of wanting to spend more time with his family, especially now that they are living in a new home in Raleigh, N.C., where he and wife Kaye attended North Carolina State. Cowher's two oldest daughters are at Princeton and the youngest has 2{ years of high school remaining, time Cowher apparently doesn't want to spend away from her.

"I wish the Steelers nothing but the best, but I've given a lot of thought to this decision," Cowher said. "To be honest, I'm looking forward to it, spending time with the family. ... Working in a world that is so regimented and scheduled, the ability to sit back at my age and spend time with family and be a big part of their lives again really excites me."

While Cowher is resigning, there is no indication he is retiring from pro football. He said he is not weary of coaching or dealing with players -- a sign he might be back on an NFL sideline as early as 2008.

"I'm not burned out," he said. "But there comes a time in your life -- I'm healthy and happy, and I've been fortunate -- when you've got to prioritize things. My family has made a lot of sacrifices for me, and I'm looking forward to being there for them. It's the right time."

Cowher, who led the Steelers to the playoffs 10 times, the AFC title game six times and the Super Bowl twice, said his most vivid memories are of the five AFC title games at home -- even if four of them were losses during the 1994, 1997, 2001 and 2004 seasons.

"It's what they do for a city," said Cowher, remembering how his daughters dressed up for school as their favorite Steelers players before those games. "We've had some disappointments, and I feel bad about that. But that was the fuel that brought me back."

Two strong contenders to replace Cowher -- Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and offensive line coach Russ Grimm -- already are interviewing with other teams. Whisenhunt met Thursday with the Atlanta Falcons and Friday with the Cardinals.

The team will interview at least one minority candidate, possibly more -- Dan Rooney himself led the NFL to adopt rules that minorities would be considered for league openings. The Steelers also are expected to talk with several candidates outside the organization, even though several players are lobbying for Grimm or Whisenhunt to get the job.

There have been numerous signs pointing to Cowher's departure, beginning when he told the team last spring he was uncertain of his plans past this season. Contract extension talks last summer did not progress past the preliminary stage, though Cowher emphasized Friday his decision wasn't about money -- though he didn't sound entirely convincing.

The Steelers gave Cowher the option of returning next season and completing his current contract, but that arrangement probably wouldn't have satisfied either side.

Cowher, if he coaches again, has signaled he wants to be one of the league's highest-paid coaches. His current $4 million-plus salary is about half that of Mike Holmgren, whose Seahawks lost to the Steelers in the Super Bowl last season. The Steelers have given no indication they are willing to pay any coach an $8 million salary.

Cowher is the NFL's longest-tenured coach with his current team; Tennessee's Jeff Fisher, with 13 seasons, is second. Cowher, a former Pittsburgh-area high school player, is third among active coaches in regular-season victories with a 149-90-1 record, and fourth overall with a 161-99-1 record counting postseason games.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Net neutrality will affect everyone

Let's hope the Republicans can finally see the value of net neutrality. I was pleased to hear AT&T capitulate to it in order for the BellSouth deal to go through. It would be almost hilarious some of the things our elected officials spouted off during the last debate if it wasn't for the fact that they were our elected officials. This is not a no worry debate about an issue that will never affect us. This will reach into every home in the US that uses the internet. It is a prime example of Congress listening to huge companies on how they can make more money without talking to the people whose tax dollars made the internet possible. I am all for a free and open market which is what net neutrality is trying to protect. The internet is not owned by the company at the end of the pipeline. Comcast deciding what you will and will not be able to see based upon who has paid them is not free and open. Remember, this has nothing to do with bandwidth. Companies that use a lot of bandwidth pay for that bandwidth. This is all about the end of the information chain and companies like Comcast wanting to control what gets to your desktop.

Net neutrality push expected to resume in Congress
By Anne Broache
Staff Writer, CNET

The nation's soon-to-be largest telephone company may have caved to certain Net neutrality commitments for the sake of a merger blessing, but a renewed push for more sweeping rules could return to Capitol Hill as soon as this month.

Breaking months of partisan deadlock among the four voting members of the Federal Communications Commission over AT&T's roughly $86 billion union with BellSouth, the telecommunications giant made a last-minute pledge last week to abide by a series of antidiscrimination principles supported by Internet content companies like Google and eBay, and consumer advocacy groups.

Although some FCC commissioners have asserted that the agreement is not a public policy mandate, it could serve as a blueprint for members of Congress preparing to reintroduce bills intended to bar network operators like AT&T from charging extra fees to content providers for added perks.

"The agreement once and for all puts to rest the bogus argument that no one can define Net neutrality," said Ben Scott, policy director for the advocacy group Free Press, which coordinates a pro-Net neutrality coalition called Save the Internet.

Net neutrality is the idea that network operators such as AT&T and Verizon should be prohibited from prioritizing any content or services that travel across their pipes. Ever since telecommunications executives began warning more than a year ago that they should have the right to charge extra for premium placement on their networks, Internet companies and consumer groups have been clamoring for federal regulations barring such a practice. They argue that it threatens users' freedoms. Opponents of regulations say there's no evidence of a discrimination problem and that new rules would stifle innovation.

Specifically, AT&T said that for 30 months after the merger's closure, it would not provide or sell "any service that privileges, degrades or prioritizes any packet" transmitted over its pipes based on its "source, ownership or destination."

That description amounts to a "framework for rules that can be applied industry-wide to allow American consumers and small businesses to benefit from deployment of discrimination-free advanced networks," U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said in an e-mailed statement on Tuesday.

Wyden, who authored the first and perhaps most aggressive Net neutrality bill to emerge last year, hopes to reintroduce his bill in similar form this January, according to an aide.

Also hoping for a late January or early February proposal are Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.

The duo teamed up in May to introduce the Internet Freedom Preservation Act, which barred network operators from making special deals with content providers and required them to offer all Internet material on an "equivalent" basis. The latest bill will likely undergo only "technical" changes, but the senators' staffs plan to discuss language of the AT&T-BellSouth concessions while finalizing their own, a Republican aide said.

On the House of Representatives side, Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., plans to reintroduce an identical version of his Network Neutrality Act, though a representative said a timetable had not been set yet. Markey, who is widely expected to be named the new chairman of a key Internet and telecommunications panel as early as this week, also plans to hold hearings on the topic throughout the spring and early summer.

Aside from outlawing any blocking or degrading of Internet content, Markey's bill would prohibit network operators from prioritizing certain content unless they offered similar priority to all content in that category. For instance, if a broadband company offers a dedicated pipe for its video offerings, it would have to make that venue available for all third-party video providers without a "surcharge."

With Democrats slated to become the majority in the House and, by a razor-thin margin, in the Senate when they reconvene in Washington this week, Net neutrality advocates have been hopeful that they will have more luck seeing their policy priorities translated into law.

Under a Republican Congress last year, calls for Net neutrality regulations faltered in both chambers. Republicans generally said they preferred to rely on market forces to solve any problems and were reluctant to pass what they considered to be preemptive laws.

AT&T's concessions, however, are no indication that the old battle lines--among large broadband companies on one hand and consumer groups and Internet content companies on the other--have evaporated. A Republican Senate aide said it was unclear whether more members on that side of the aisle would be swayed to support new regulations.

Tom Amontree, a senior vice president with the U.S. Telecom Association, which represents telephone companies of all sizes, said the lobbying group "has consistently maintained that government regulation of the Internet will hurt consumers and stifle the Internet as the free and dynamic force of innovation and economic growth that we count on today."

AT&T's concessions are limited to the BellSouth context and should not be viewed as any sort of policy reversal, said Jim Cicconi, AT&T's senior executive vice president for external and legislative affairs.

The compromise was necessary to win over a majority of commissioners on the merger question, and "we continue to believe that Net neutrality regulations are unwarranted and unwise," Cicconi said in a statement sent to CNET on Tuesday.

Despite the appearance of a majority vote in favor of the merger, partisan battle lines over Net neutrality were also being solidified at the FCC level, leaving questions about how--or whether--the conditions would be enforced.

In a joint statement (click for PDF), Republican FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate again voiced their disdain for Net neutrality regulations, deeming that they are "simply not warranted by current market conditions and may deter facilities investment."

They went on to emphasize that the conditions may be enforceable in the AT&T and BellSouth situation, but would be in no way binding to future decisions by the FCC because only a minority of the commissioners--Democrats Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein--supported them.

"Thus, although AT&T may make a voluntary business decision, it cannot dictate or bind government policy," they wrote.

But Congress can--and should, urged Net neutrality advocates. The approach agreed to by AT&T in this context "is the right policy for all broadband Internet consumers," said's Paul Misener, a vice president of global public policy, "and we look forward to working with policymakers to ensure that it is applied throughout the United States."


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

At Least One Dolphin Is Happy With Their 6-10 Season

Why would Alabama pay a coach $32 million over eight years when he went 6-10 for the 2006 season and 9-7 in 2005. Because that was the NFL. As a college coach he took LSU to a national championship and has had 11 winning seasons under his belt. At least it only took him two years in the NFL to figure out he prefers the college ranks. Let's hope can turn the tide in bama.

After repeated denials, Saban takes Bama job
From Len Pasquarelli

Nick Saban landed to chants of "Roll Tide," then stepped off the airplane and made the long trek across the tarmac to greet throngs of screaming Alabama fans.

That feverish reception Wednesday kicked off a "new era" for the Crimson Tide under a coach they're hoping will finally restore the program to championship heights.

Alabama lured Saban from the Miami Dolphins on Wednesday, ending five weeks of denials and two days of deliberation. Saban, who two weeks ago declared "I'm not going to be the Alabama coach," accepted the Tide's job offer job and abandoned his attempt to rebuild the Dolphins after only two seasons.

His agreement with Alabama is for eight years and a guaranteed $32 million, according to's Len Pasquarelli. Saban can earn an additional $700,000 to $800,000 annually in bowl-game bonuses. An Alabama official told ESPN's Joe Schad that the deal contains no buyout clause.

"When I set out on this search, I noted that I was seeking a coach who has a proven record of championship success and achievement," Alabama athletic director Mal Moore said. "Coach Saban brings that proven record of accomplishment and leadership to our program."

Moore said the high-profile hiring "signifies a new era of Crimson Tide football." Alabama scheduled a news conference for Thursday at 11 a.m. ET to formally introduce Saban, who didn't field questions from reporters.

Saban was greeted by hugs, handshakes and pats on the back by some of the several hundred fans celebrating the dramatic conclusion to a five-week search to replace the fired Mike Shula. Then the coach, wife Terry and daughter Kristen were driven away in a red Chevrolet Tahoe with Moore to the football building. He was greeted there by dozens more fans.

The Tuscaloosa News put out a special edition trumpeting the hiring, with the blaring headline: "SABAN TIME."

"Mal Moore didn't just hit a home run, he hit a grand slam," raved Tide fan Mike Ryan, sporting a Bear Bryant-style houndstooth hat and a T-shirt listing the program's national championship years.

Miami owner Wayne Huizenga was informed of the decision in a meeting Wednesday at Saban's house. Huizenga announced the departure at a news conference Saban didn't attend.

"It is what it is," Huizenga said, borrowing Saban's pet phrase. "I'm not upset, because it's more involved than what you think."

Since late November, Saban had issued frequent, angry public denials of interest in moving to Tuscaloosa. Huizenga said the change of heart wasn't driven by money, and Saban never sought a raise or contract extension.

Instead, Huizenga hinted that family issues for Saban and his wife, Terry, were a factor. The Sabans, both natives of West Virginia, have a son in college and a daughter in high school.

"I've been through this with Nick for quite some time now, and I feel the pain and so forth and so on of Nick and Terry, and it's not a very simple thing," Huizenga said. "I think Nick's great. I'll be Nick's biggest fan. I'll be cheering for him to win that bowl game."

A preference for the college game and the campus lifestyle may have swayed Saban. He won 48 games and a national championship in five seasons at LSU and is 15-17 with the Dolphins. This was his first losing season in 13 years as a head coach.

The entire Alabama hiring process was filled with drama.

The high ranking source told Schad that Alabama made an offer to West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez despite knowing that Saban would be very willing to listen after the season.

In fact, Alabama had knowledge that Saban was very interested as early as the middle of this NFL season, the source said.

According to the source, Saban finally told Moore on Tuesday afternoon that he would fly to Alabama that day to be introduced as coach. Saban, his wife and kids had packed their bags as Moore waited outside Saban's home. But a delay prompted Moore to call at least one Alabama trustee to say he feared they'd lost another candidate.

Saban did in fact then say he needed another night to ponder the offer, in part because of the pressure Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga was applying.

Moore's fears finally proved unfounded.

With Saban's return to the SEC, the conference now has two head coaches who have previously won national championships with a different school within it: Saban at LSU and current South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier at Florida (1996).

Saban also is just the sixth coach since 1970 to work at multiple SEC schools. The others: Spurrier, Bill Curry (Alabama, Kentucky), Gerry DiNardo (Vanderbilt, LSU), Steve Sloan (Vanderbilt, Mississippi) and Tommy Tuberville (Ole Miss, Auburn).

The Tide first approached Saban shortly after firing Mike Shula. Huizenga has said he received repeated assurances from Saban that he would return in 2007, and two weeks ago Saban said: "I'm not going to be the Alabama coach."

But when the Dolphins' 6-10 season ended Sunday, Alabama sweetened an offer that will make him the highest-paid coach in college football. He has three years remaining on his Miami contract at $4.5 million a year.

"We have been through a period of uncertainty the last month or so and we finally have some stability," Tide center Antoine Caldwell said. "Coach Moore said all along he was going to find us a proven coach with a winning record and he has done that with Coach Saban."

The timing was significant since the NCAA's recruiting "dead period" ends Friday.

In the past, Huizenga has been persuasive when dealing with coaches. He talked Don Shula into retirement in 1996, talked Jimmy Johnson out of retiring three years later -- Johnson lasted one more season -- and was able to lure Saban to the pros in 2004 after other NFL teams had failed.

But this time, Huizenga failed to change Saban's mind. They met briefly on Tuesday, when Saban asked for another day to consider Alabama's offer. The coach was emotional when he called the Dolphins' complex Wednesday morning and informed his coaching staff by speakerphone that he was leaving, said Dom Capers, special assistant to the head coach.

"Every time something happens, everybody wants to look at the negative things to it," cornerback Will Allen said. "There could be some positive things. Who knows what's going to happen?"

After Saban turned down the Tide in early December, they offered the job to Rich Rodriguez, but he decided to stay at West Virginia. Alabama lost last week to Oklahoma State in the Independence Bowl to finish 6-7.

Possible candidates to replace Saban include Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera, former Green Bay head coach Mike Sherman, San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, Indianapolis assistant head coach Jim Caldwell, Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Norm Chow and Pittsburgh Steelers assistants Russ Grimm and Ken Whisenhut.

Another possibility is Capers, a former head coach at Carolina and Houston.

"When opportunities present themselves, you certainly want to look at them," Capers said.

Huizenga didn't rule out hiring a college coach, as he did when Saban came to the Dolphins from Louisiana State two years ago.

"There's only one thing I want to do, and it's win," Huizenga said. "I don't care what it takes, what it costs, what's involved, we're going to make this a winning franchise. It's no fun owning a team if you're not winning, I can tell you that."

Leading the search for a coach will be Joe Bailey, chief executive officer of Dolphins Enterprises, and Brian Wiedmeier, the Dolphins' president and chief operating officer. The Arizona Cardinals and Atlanta Falcons are also seeking a new coach.

The Dolphins' next coach will be their fourth in nine seasons.

"I wish you hadn't brought that up," Huizenga said with a wry smile.

It has been a frustrating a stretch of instability for a franchise that had the same coach -- Shula -- for 26 years. Miami has failed to make the playoffs the past five years, a team record.

The Dolphins are coming off their third losing season since 1969 and face a likely roster overhaul. With Daunte Culpepper still struggling to recover from reconstructive knee surgery in 2005, Miami remains unsettled at quarterback, a troublesome position since Dan Marino retired seven years ago. The team needs upgrades in almost every other area for a feeble offense and aging defense.

Saban leaves behind the NFL's largest staff of assistants and general manager Randy Mueller, who might be given more responsibility under a new coaching regime.

The Dolphins haven't reached the AFC championship game since Huizenga became majority owner in 1994.

"All I want to figure out is how the heck we're going to win," he said. "And that's what everyone with the Dolphins wants, to win." senior NFL writer Len Pasquarelli contributed to this story. Information from The Associated Press also was used.


Lost lakes of Titan are found at last

Lost lakes of Titan are found at last

This colorized radar view from Cassini shows lakes on Titan. Color intensity is proportional to how much radar brightness is returned. The colors are not a representation of what the human eye would see. Image credit: NASA/JPL/USGS

Lakes of methane have been spotted on Saturn's largest moon, Titan, boosting the theory that this strange, distant world bears beguiling similarities to Earth, according to a new study.

Titan has long intrigued space scientists, as it is the only moon in the Solar System to have a dense atmosphere -- and its atmosphere, like Earth's, mainly comprises nitrogen.

Titan's atmosphere is also rich in methane, although the source for this vast store of hydrocarbons is unclear.

Methane, on the geological scale, has a relatively limited life. A molecule of the compound lasts several tens of millions of years before it is broken up by sunlight.

Given that Titan is billions of years old, the question is how this atmospheric methane gets to be renewed. Without replenishment, it should have disappeared long ago.

A popular hypothesis is that it comes from a vast ocean of hydrocarbons.

But when the US spacecraft Cassini sent down a European lander, Huygens, to Titan in 2005, the images sent back were of a rugged landscape veiled in an orange haze.

There were indeed signs of methane flows and methane precipitation, but nothing at all that pointed to any sea of the stuff.

But a flyby by Cassini on July 22 last year has revealed, thanks to a radar scan, 75 large, smooth, dark patches between three and 70 kilometers across (two and 42 miles) across that appear to be lakes of liquid methane, scientists report on Thursday.

They believe the lakes prove that Titan has a "methane cycle" -- a system that is like the water cycle on Earth, in which the liquid evaporates, cools and condenses and then falls as rain, replenishing the surface liquid.

As on Earth, Titan's surface methane may well be supplemented by a "table" of liquid methane that seeps through the rock, the paper suggests.

Some of the methane lakes seem only partly filled, and other depressions are dry, which suggests that, given the high northerly latitudes where they were spotted, the methane cycle follows Titan's seasons.

In winter, the lakes expand, while in summer, they shrink or dry up completely -- again, another parallel with Earth's hydrological cycle.

The study, which appears on Thursday in the British weekly journal Nature, is headed by Ellen Stofan of Proxemy Research in Virginia and University College London.

Titan and Earth are of course very different, especially in their potential for nurturing life. Titan is frigid, dark and, as far as is known, waterless, where as Earth is warm, light and has lots of liquid water.

But French astrophysicist Christophe Sotin says both our planet and Titan have been sculpted by processes that, fundamentally, are quite similar.

The findings "add to the weight of evidence that Titan is a complex world in which the interaction between the inner and outer layers is controlled by processes similar to those that must have dominated the evolution of any Earth-like planet," Sotin said in a commentary.

"Indeed, as far as we know," Sotin added, "there is only one planetary body that displays more dynamism than Titan. Its name is Earth."


Tattoos to Go

Finally I can get a tattoo!
With tattoos being the rage a couple of years ago, I still was not tempted at all to get one. Not because I don't like them, some are very cool, but there is nothing that I could think of that I would like to display for the rest of my life. According to the article, 17% of those with tats are thinking of getting it removed. Think how often we get tired of a TV show, our cars, how our house is decorated, the style of music we listen to, and yet we want to showcase a picture for the decades of our life. I know several guys that have tats of their college fraternity somewhere on their body. It's 15 years later and they have nothing to do with the frat, don't see their "brothers", and really could care less about the tat. Unfortunately it's displayed every time they wear shorts. With easily removable tats, no more permanent mistakes. It would reflect who you are now not who you used to be. If this breakthrough holds true, look for a huge tattoo movement. Maybe I'll even get one...maybe a tiny one...OK maybe not...we'll see.

Removable Tattoos an Attractive Option
'Smart Pigment' Permanent, Yet Easily Removed With Laser
ABC News Medical Unit

Thinking about removing that tattoo of your ex-girlfriend's name from your arm?

While lovers come and go, tattoos are intended to be permanent. But as more consumers get tattoos, there are also more people eager to get rid of them.

Roughly one in four adult Americans has at least one tattoo — and 17 percent are considering getting rid of theirs, according to a survey published in the September issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Now, one company has found a way to make tattoo inks that, while still permanent, are also easily removed. The company, Freedom-2 LLC, will make the special ink available next year.

This new type of ink is injected into the skin in the same way as conventional tattoo inks. However, it is only permanent in the skin until the owner changes his or her mind. With a single pass of a laser, tattoos composed of this special ink can be safely and fully removed.

The new technology is the result of a combined effort by a team of scientists from Harvard Medical School and Duke University.

Removal of Conventional Tattoos Time-Consuming and Costly

Conventional tattoos are typically removed with laser technology. However, laser treatments are costly and time-consuming, and complete removal is sometimes not possible.

"Conventional tattoo removal takes multiple visits," said Dr. Charles Taylor, director of Khosrow Momtaz Phototherapy Center at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. "Professional tattoo artists use heavy metals in their tattoo inks. For example, blacks have iron, blues have cobalt. Heavy metals are fairly resistant to current laser technology."

And certain characteristics of the tattoo can also affect how difficult removal will be. Dr. Sandy Tsao, associate program director for procedural dermatology at Harvard Medical School in Boston, said the type of ink that is used, along with the age of the tattoo and the skill level of the artist involved, can play an important role.

"These three factors determine how many treatments the patient will require and the eventual cost," Tsao said. "On average, a professional tattoo requires about eight to ten sessions, spaced six to eight weeks apart. The average cost per treatment ranges from $250 to $400."

This means the tattoo that might have cost you a couple of hundred bucks to get will require a few thousand dollars to remove.

Aside from the time and money required for conventional tattoo removal, there are a number of well-known risks associated with the laser tattoo removal procedure itself.

"The treatments can be painful, and they generally require a topical anesthetic," said Tsao.

During the period immediately following laser tattoo removal, some of the expected side effects include scabbing and crusting, which can last between a week and ten days, Tsao said.

"The biggest risk is having a permanent loss of your normal pigmentation, almost similar to having a negative impression of the tattoo image on the skin," she said. "Tattoo removal can also lead to scar formation, sometimes.

"There is an increased possibility of scarring if the tattoo is located on the ankle or the upper back because these are scar-prone areas."

'Smart Pigment' Allows for Targeted Destruction

Unlike the conventional counterparts, the company says that its new ink is specifically designed to be removed by a laser.

The dyes come "packaged" in tiny beads called polymer microspheres. The beads are made of a material commonly used in the body in plastic and orthopedic surgery.

Each of these tiny beads contains a "target" pigment. When this target is hit by a laser, it explodes, rupturing the entire bead. The body will then absorb the nano-sized pigment particles and remnants of the beads, leaving no visible evidence of the tattoo behind.

"With this new tattoo ink, you have safety, reliability and removability," said Dr. Eric Bernstein, a member of the scientific advisory board of Freedom-2 and an associate professor of dermatology at University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. "Removal of Freedom-2 tattoos should take only one session, and it costs about one-tenth of that of conventional tattoo removal."

The first of these removable inks will hit the market in 2007. Initially, only black will be available, but developers say blue, red and yellow inks will not be far behind.

New Ink Offers Safe Option

The creators of the ink say it was developed with safety in mind. This could figure in big, as the tattoo industry in the United States is not regulated by any federal governing body and each state draws up its own guidelines on how to ensure consumer safety.

"In today's world, there's no regulation," Bernstein said. "You buy the tattoo ink, and you don't even know what's in it.

"It's completely unacceptable that [the tattoo ink] is something that is put in the body and we don't know what's in it."

Bernstein said some conventional tattoo inks contain toxic substances. The new tattoo ink, he said, is made of safe, biodegradable dyes.

"With more and more sophisticated consumers, they want to ask about whether a tattoo is sterile and safe," he said.

Removable Tattoo Ink Will Likely Appeal to Consumers

Safety aside, the new ink could be in high demand by those who wish to keep their options open. Some say it could even encourage consumers who previously may have never thought about getting body art to take a trip to the tattoo parlor.

"I am all for the development of tattoo ink particles that are long lasting in the skin, and the moment patients decide to have them removed, they can be removed immediately," Taylor said.

"Tattooing is a real art," said Tsao. "People change depending on their life circumstances and want to have the freedom to have tattoos removed. So it's appealing to have a tattoo ink that can be more easily removed."

"When people get tattoos now, they can't get into the military or get jobs," said Bernstein. "When you are young, you don't think about stuff like that. I'd be shocked if most of the people getting tattoos would not ask for removal tattoos.

"It's nice to be able to express yourself, do something wild and crazy and have the ability to undo it."


Why we're so good at recognizing music

Why we're so good at recognizing music
By Clive Thompson

MONTREAL: 'Listen to this," Daniel Levitin said. "What is it?" He hit a button on his computer keyboard and out came a half-second clip of music. It was just two notes blasted on a raspy electric guitar, but I could immediately identify it: the opening lick to the Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar."

Then he played another, even shorter snippet: a single chord struck once on piano. Again I could instantly figure out what it was: the first note in Elton John's "Benny and the Jets."

Levitin beamed. "You hear only one note, and you already know who it is," he said. "So what I want to know is: how we do this? Why are we so good at recognizing music?"

This is not merely some whoa-dude epiphany that a music fan might have while listening to a radio contest. Levitin has devoted his career to exploring this question. He is a cognitive psychologist who runs the Laboratory for Music Perception, Cognition and Expertise at McGill University in Montreal, perhaps the world's leading lab in probing why music has such an intense effect on us.

"By the age of 5 we are all musical experts, so this stuff is clearly wired really deeply into us," said Levitin, an eerily youthful-looking 49, surrounded by the pianos, guitars and enormous 16-track mixers that make his lab look more like a recording studio.

Last summer he published "This Is Your Brain on Music," a layperson's guide to the emerging neuroscience of music. Levitin is an unusually deft interpreter, full of striking scientific trivia. For example we learn that babies begin life with synesthesia, the trippy confusion that makes people experience sounds as smells or tastes as colors. Or that the cerebellum, a part of the brain that helps govern movement, is also wired to the ears and produces some of our emotional responses to music. His experiments have even suggested that watching a musician perform affects brain chemistry differently from listening to a recording.

Levitin is singular among music scientists for actually having come out of the music industry. Before getting his Ph.D. he spent 15 years as a record producer, working with artists ranging from Blue Oyster Cult to Chris Isaak. While still in graduate school he helped Stevie Wonder assemble a best-of collection; in 1992 Levitin's sensitive ears detected that MCA Records had accidentally used third-generation backup tapes to produce seven Steely Dan CDs, and he embarrassed the label by disclosing it in Billboard magazine. He has earned nine gold and platinum albums, which he tucks in corners of his lab, office and home. "They look a little scary when you put them all in one place," he said.

Scientifically, Levitin's colleagues credit him with focusing attention on how music affects our emotions, turf that wasn't often covered by previous generations of psychoacousticians, who studied narrower questions about how the brain perceives musical sounds. "The questions he asks are very, very musical, very concerned with the fact that music is an art that we interact with, not just a bunch of noises," said Rita Aiello, an adjunct professor in the department of psychology at New York University.

Ultimately, scientists say, his work offers a new way to unlock the mysteries of the brain: how memory works, how people with autism think, why our ancestors first picked up instruments and began to play.

Levitin originally became interested in producing in 1981, when his band — a punk outfit called the Mortals — went into the recording studio. None of the other members were interested in the process, so he made all the decisions behind the board. "I actually became a producer because I saw the producers getting all the babes," he said. He dropped out of college to work with alternative bands.

Producers, he noted, were able to notice impossibly fine gradations of quality in music. Many could identify by ear the type of amplifiers and recording tape used on an album.

"So I started wondering: How was the brain able to do this?" Levitin said. "What's going on there, and why are some people better than others? And why is music such an emotional experience?" He began sitting in on neuroscience classes at Stanford University.

By the '90s Levitin was disenchanted with the music industry. "When they're dropping Van Morrison and Elvis Costello because they don't sell enough records," he said, "I knew it was time to move on." Academic friends persuaded him to pursue a science degree. They bet that he would have good intuitions on how to design music experiments. They were right.

For his first experiment he came up with an elegant concept: He stopped people on the street and asked them to sing, entirely from memory, one of their favorite hit songs. The results were astonishingly accurate. Most people could hit the tempo of the original song within a 4 percent margin of error, and two-thirds sang within a semitone of the original pitch, a level of accuracy that wouldn't embarrass a pro.

"When you played the recording of them singing alongside the actual recording of the original song, it sounded like they were singing along," Levitin said.

It was a remarkable feat. Most memories degrade and distort with time; why would pop music memories be so sharply encoded? Perhaps because music triggers the reward centers in our brains. In a study published last year Levitin and group of neuroscientists mapped out precisely how.

Observing 13 subjects who listened to classical music while in an MRI machine, the scientists found a cascade of brain-chemical activity. First the music triggered the forebrain, as it analyzed the structure and meaning of the tune. Then the nucleus accumbus and ventral tegmental area activated to release dopamine, a chemical that triggers the brain's sense of reward.

The cerebellum, an area normally associated with physical movement, reacted too, responding to what Levitin suspected was the brain's predictions of where the song was going to go. As the brain internalizes the tempo, rhythm and emotional peaks of a song, the cerebellum begins reacting every time the song produces tension (that is, subtle deviations from its normal melody or tempo).

"When we saw all this activity going on precisely in sync, in this order, we knew we had the smoking gun," he said. "We've always known that music is good for improving your mood. But this showed precisely how it happens."

The subtlest reason that pop music is so flavorful to our brains is that it relies so strongly on timbre. Timbre is a peculiar blend of tones in any sound; it is why a tuba sounds so different from a flute even when they are playing the same melody in the same key. Popular performers or groups, Levitin argued, are pleasing not because of any particular virtuosity, but because they create an overall timbre that remains consistent from song to song. That quality explains why, for example, I could identify even a single note of Elton John's "Benny and the Jets."

"Nobody else's piano sounds quite like that," he said, referring to John. "Pop musicians compose with timbre. Pitch and harmony are becoming less important."

Levitin's work has occasionally undermined some cherished beliefs about music. For example recent years have seen an explosion of "Baby Mozart" videos and toys, based on the idea, popular since the '80s, that musical and mathematical ability are inherently linked.

But Levitin argued that this could not be true, based on his study of people with Williams syndrome, a genetic disorder that leaves people with low intelligence. Their peak mental capacities are typically those of a young child, with no ability to calculate quantities. Levitin once asked a woman with Williams to hold up her hand for five seconds; she left it in the air for a minute and a half. "No concept of time at all," he said, "and definitely no math."

Yet people with Williams possess unusually high levels of musical ability. One Williams boy Levitin met was so poorly coordinated he could not open the case to his clarinet. But once he was holding the instrument, his coordination problems vanished, and he could play fluidly.

Not all of Levitin's idea have been easily accepted. He argues, for example, that music is an evolutionary adaptation: something that men developed as a way to demonstrate reproductive fitness. Music also helped social groups cohere. "Music has got to be useful for survival, or we would have gotten rid of it years ago," he said.


Ellison Doesn't Like The Bible?

OK, why is this such a big issue. A muslim wants to use the Koran to be sworn in with instead of the Bible. HE IS A MUSLIM! Having him swear an oath on the Bible would be meaningless because he doesn't have faith in the Bible as being the word of God. The Koran is what he has faith in and swearing his oath would/should carry more weight with him. Swearing an oath on the Bible holds no weight to anyone that does not believe in its authority. Can't we get over such pettiness. Besides, does swearing an oath on the Bible really mean anything in Washington. It seems more like a prop than anything else judging by some of the actions of our elected officials.

But It's Thomas Jefferson's Koran!

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts

Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, found himself under attack last month when he announced he'd take his oath of office on the Koran -- especially from Virginia Rep. Virgil Goode, who called it a threat to American values.

Yet the holy book at tomorrow's ceremony has an unassailably all-American provenance. We've learned that the new congressman -- in a savvy bit of political symbolism -- will hold the personal copy once owned by Thomas Jefferson.

"He wanted to use a Koran that was special," said Mark Dimunation, chief of the rare book and special collections division at the Library of Congress, who was contacted by the Minnesota Dem early in December. Dimunation, who grew up in Ellison's 5th District, was happy to help.

Jefferson's copy is an English translation by George Sale published in the 1750s; it survived the 1851 fire that destroyed most of Jefferson's collection and has his customary initialing on the pages. This isn't the first historic book used for swearing-in ceremonies -- the Library has allowed VIPs to use rare Bibles for inaugurations and other special occasions.

Ellison will take the official oath of office along with the other incoming members in the House chamber, then use the Koran in his individual, ceremonial oath with new Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "Keith is paying respect not only to the founding fathers' belief in religious freedom but the Constitution itself," said Ellison spokesman Rick Jauert.

One person unlikely to be swayed by the book's illustrious history is Goode, who released a letter two weeks ago objecting to Ellison's use of the Koran. "I believe that the overwhelming majority of voters in my district would prefer the use of the Bible," the Virginia Republican told Fox News, and then went on to warn about what he regards as the dangers of Muslims immigrating to the United States and Muslims gaining elective office.

Yeah, but what about a Koran that belonged to one of the greatest Virginians in history? Goode, who represents Jefferson's birthplace of Albemarle County, had no comment yesterday.

Love, Etc.


Monday, January 01, 2007

Hello Weiss family

Here is the link to what your former residence in Orange Park looks like. It is from the MLS listing. Good viewing!


Ridgeview High's chorus sings in the White House

Here is some happy news. My favorite teacher in school was my chorus teacher at Lakeside Middle School during 6th-8th grade. I just came upon a story at that she is now at Ridgeview High School and that her choir performed at the White House this year for Christmas, what an honor! For the article, see below.

Here is a video from Channel 12 News before the trip.

Ridgeview High's chorus sings in the White House

By MARY MARAGHY, Clay County Line

Ridgeview High School chorus teacher Louise Woolard said it was quite thrilling when a receptionist said, "The White House is expecting you."

Woolard and 27 choir students performed Christmas songs in the White House foyer on Monday.

Woolard sent an audition tape to the White House in the spring and got an invitation Nov. 1 to join a select group of holiday entertainers.

"It was an incredible experience, an incredible honor and the students lived up to it. They were absolutely wonderful," Woolard said. "I'd do it again in a heart beat."

"It was so cool with all the cameras flashing," said chorus member Becca Fuhrman. "We felt like celebrities."

"It was surreal that we were in the White House and people were taking pictures of us," said another member, Brittany Trahan. "It was definitely the most amazing experience of my life. To close out our senior year with such a big bang is very, very exciting."

Trahan and other sleep-deprived chorus members were bubbling Wednesday about their action-packed two-night stay in Washington.

The students drew followers when they started rehearsing in the subway.

They slept only four hours a night at the Hotel Washington, built in 1868.

Some ice skated for the first time in their lives at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. They visited the Smithsonian Institution and saw the Hope Diamond. They were impressed with the Holocaust Museum, which is set up to look like a concentration camp and gives visitors the feeling of being shipped to the gas chambers.

"D.C. has the biggest squirrels," said Charlie McNeill. "They're on steroids."

The Christmas decorations were over-the-top, students said. Each state had a decorated Christmas tree on display. Louisiana's tree - which won best tree - had glass ornaments with paper houses in each and thank you notes to the other states that helped them during the hurricanes.

"It was so pretty at night," said Patti Trahan, Rebecca's mother. "I had a ball. The kids had a blast. They sang gorgeously."

Only 21 students were allowed in the White House. Fortunately, Trahan said, the alternate singers left out were able to visit the Washington Monument where they saw President George Bush's motorcade drive by.

The trip cost about $20,000. Students paid about $200 each, the Clay County school system kicked in about $6,000 in discretionary funds, and fundraising covered the rest.