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Friday, December 31, 2004
(this is a long blog, but it's worth reading for
this New Year)

(from The Seattle Times)
A 10-year old boy from Montpelier, Vt.,
beat eight finalists to wint the Golden Sneaker Award--
a prize for the most rotten sneaker. The champ,
Daegan Goodman, was awarded a $500 savings bond
and assorted Odor Eater products. One judge,
George Aldrich, 48, who had conducted hundreds of smell
tests for NASA, said: " The stench stayed with me for
days. It's like a flashback." As for the winner, young
Daegan said, " I just wear 'em, seat in 'em and play sports".

(from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
What do you show a pontiff who has seen just about everything?
Pope John Paul II presided over a performance of break-dancers
who leaped, flipped and spun their bodies on the inlaid marble
floor of the Vatican Hall to beats from a boom box. The 83-year
old pontiff seemed to approve, waving his hand after each
dancer compleated a move, then applauding for the entire group.
"For this creative hard work," he said, "I bless you from my heart".

(from The Washington Post)
You think Eddie, the terrier from Frasier, was talented? Another
Jack Russell, named Tillie, had her own art gallery in the
Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. The pooch's instinctive scratch
marks have drawn comparisons to abstract artists Jackson Pollock
and Cy Twombly. Owner Bowman Hastie, a 35- year old writer,
noticed Tillie pawing furiously at one of his notepads one day.
"She really had a sense of focus and determination", he says.
"I was amazed by it." Faster than you could say "Pablo Picasso,"
and artist was born. Tillie, 5, takes the canvass in her mouth
to her workspace, where she claws at it feverishly. Whatever is
left on the canvast is her final creation -- though she gets
so carried awaay sometimes, she ends up destroying her own work.

( from The Times-Picayune (New Orleans)
ALouisian Democrat introduced a bill which would make it a crime to
wear low-riding pants that expose underwaer, buttocks or pubic areas.
"Louisian's line of decency starts at the waistline". said
Rep. Derricj Sheperd. "Louisian stands for decency.What sense does
it make to put our moral house in order?" Sheperd's sermonlike
speech prompted catcalls and cheeky chants from some other state
legislators, and he was the butt of several jokes as he returned
to his seat. "No crack!" shoued his colleague from Jena, Rep Tommy Wright.

(from The Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
If you've noticed that your Jack Daniel's has a little less kick
these days, you're right. The famed "sippin whiskey" has lowered
the alcohol content of its flagship brand, Old No. 7 Black Label,
to 80 proof instead of 86-- and some drinkers feel betrayed. "You
can't screw with a legend like that and get away with it," said
Frank Kelly Rich, editor of Modern Drunkard Magazine. "I'm sure
Jack is spinning in his grave".

(from The New York Post)
A Japanese company is selling a pillow shaped like a guy, which
gives ladies a good night's cuddle without any belches or blanket
hogging. "My grandmother used to say that there is no more
comfortable pillow than a human, " said Tomoki Kakeshi, president
of Kameo Corp., the pillow's manufacturer. The invention -- a
headless torso with a stuffed arm-- sells for $100. The steep
price hasn't deterred those who want a man's touch without having
to deal with his, uh, needs. "I think it is great because this
does not betray me." said one customer.

(From the Chicago Tribune)
A new gadget that lets people turn off TVs-- anywhere, from airports
to restaurants is selling at a fast clip. "We are swamped", said the
inventor, Mitch Altman of San Francisco. The keychain fob works
like a universal remote-- but it only turns TVs off (or on)
With the sap of a button, the gizmo goes through nearly 200
infrared codes that control the power of about 1000 TV models.
Altman, 48 got the idea from TV-B-Gone while out with friends
at a restaurant. They all found themselves glued to the TV instead of
talking to one another, and no one was around to turn the TV off.

(from the Houston Chronicle)
A British man who sold all his possessions, including his clothes,
stood in a rented tuxedo and bet, everything on a single spin of the
roulette wheel. Ashley Revell took $135,300 to Vegas and placed
it all on "red" The wheel was spun, and the crowd went wild when
the ball landed on Red 7, and Revell left with $270,600. He gave
the croupier a $600 tip and said he planned to party- and buy new
clothes. "it was really down to my friends and Mum and Dad," he said,
"I knew even if I lost, I'd always have a home to go to".
"I'm still against it," said his dad. "He shouldn't have done it.
He's a naughty boy".

(from The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.)
In an unusual taste test, a bear chose Rainier beer over Busch. The
black bear was found passed out on the lawn of Baker Lake Resort near
Concrete, Wash., surrounded by 36 empty beer cans. It has
gotten into the coolers of some nearby campers, who had stocked up
on both brands of beer for their trip. Fish and Wildlife Enforcement
Sgt., Bill Heinck said the bear did try one of Busch, but ignored the
rest. The beast then consumed all the camper's rainier. Wildlife agents
used a large, humane trap to capture the bear, baiting the trap with
the usual; doughnuts, honey and , in this case, cans of Rainier.
That did the trick.
"I've know them to get into cans, but nothing like this," Heinck said.
"And it defintiely had a preference".

(from the Autin (Texas) American-Statesman)
A longview, Texas woman came home to find crude oil covering her
floors and overflowing the toilets, bathtubs and sinks. Experts believe
that Leila LeTourneau's house was built over an abandoned well that
was not properly plugged/ "I always teased people, "does'nt everybody
in Texas have an oil derrick in the backyard?" she said.
"Then I discovered I struck oil inside the house".

From the New York Post)
Corey Cook ignored his girlfriend's warnings not to do anything corny
if he proposed to her:He had a farmer carve the words,"Michelle
will you marry me?" into a Napoleon, Ohio, cornfield. Then he flew
his sweetheart over the field and popped the question with a ring,
"She starred giggling like a little girl on Christmas morning
and said "yes", Cook happily reported

(abstracted from the compilation from THECHICAGOTRIBUNE)
posted by infraternam meam @ 4:29 AM   31 comments
Thursday, December 30, 2004
the Nazca plate is smashing into the Peru-chile
trench, just offshore, producing the Andes,
city-sweeping tsunamis, and full employment for
construction contractors. With a history of quakes
in the 7's and 8's, Lima beans, better keep praying
to their patron saint, Christ of the Earthquake.
A 7.9 in 1970 killed 66,000. They're due for another.

With the Africa plate jamming into the Eurasian plate
and the Aegean Sea plate stretching like taffy, the
Parthenon's home has faced eight shakers of 5.9 or higher
in the past 50 years. Plus, the giant fault that wreacks
havoc in Turkey ends at Athens doorsteps, so convulsion
is the 7's coild easily be in the works. No wonder they
wrestle naked!

The eastern horn is tearing away from the rest of the
continent, and the Indian Ocean will flood the rift valley
in the blink of a geologic eye( within the next few million
years, to us) Forget that Brookstone massage chair; just lie
on the ground in western Uganda, where 200 magnitude 3.0 plus
shakers hit every night.

Given the capital's magnitude fault lines, geologist
predict a 6.0 could kill a million and destroy 65 percent of
the town's buildings. In the past century, 20 big quakes in
the region have been taken 140,000 lives. After a 2003 shock
in Bam killed more than 30,000, the Iranian government
explored moving the captital to a safer location.

Nothing spells disaster like a rapidly developed, densely
populated city with no building codes,perched high atop the
rammed-up Himalayas and rimmed with fault lines. The last big
one hit 8.5 miles away but still managed to kill 4,500 Kamadudes
in 1934.With magnitude 8 quakes hitting about every 75 years,
somethings gotta give, soon.

Located where the Pacific and Philippine plates plunge under
the Eurasian plate, Tokyo has a quake in 1923 that killed 143,000
people. Some estimate the next one could level 500,000 buldings,
causing $7 trillion in damages. The 6.8 shaker in nearby Nagaoka
last October was a warning. So was scientist calling Tokyo
"city waiting to die".

A "supervolcano", Yellowstone is suceptible to tremors; a 2002
Alaskan quake caused 250 mini quakes here in 24 hours. And it's
known to spew hundreds of cubic miles of North America every
600,000 years, coating most real estate west of the Mississippi
in ash. The last ash spew? Just over 600,00 years ago!

Satellite indicate the entire south side of the Kilauea volcano
is shifting seaward. Quakes in 1868 and 1975 gave it huge shoves,
and magma continues to widen the rift, threatening the Big Island's
158,000 plus residents. When the next one strikes, a gnarly tsunami
could reach all the way to South America.

In 1906, an 8.3 quake and resulting fires trashed the city.
But it aint over. Officials believe another trembler could topple
the Bay Bridge and flood the tube that carries commmuter trains
under the bay and experts estimates a 1906 level one could cause
$225 billion in damages.

Built on a filled in lake, the city jiggled like jell-o for
four minutes when the last big quake hit in 1983--even though
the epicenter was over 200 miles away. Straddling a fault line
and sitting beneath the active Popocatepetl volcano can't help
It quakes conincide with an eruption. 21 million metro area
Mexicans could be totally incinerated.

The rockingest earthquakes in recorded history.

The deadliest quake of the 20th century, this 7.8 took 20
seconds to level nearly every building in the area, reducing
the population by a full third. Official Chinese estimates
tried to downplay the tragedy givng death toll of 255,000;
later estimates put the figures in 655,000.

The biggest quake ever recorded (9.5) shook coastal South
America enough to launch one of the largest Tsunamis in
500 years, leveling Hilo, Hawaii and surging all the way to
Japan and the Philippines. It killed 5,700 and set the planet
vibrating like a gong.

A 9.0 shook the city for seven full munutes. The harbor drained
out, then rushed back in to flood the town. Two more quakes
hit within two hours. Death toll: 60,000.

The original killer quake was an 8.0 doozie that claimed 830,000
lives. Sadly hardly anyone live to take notes.

At least 80 percent of earthquake deaths
results from collapsing buildings. Tremors
can also bust open dams and trigger floods,
making you seriously regret getting that
nice place by the river.

Mudslides cause much of the death toll in
Central and South American quakes. Then
there are tremor induced avalanches.
A 7.7 in the mountains of northern Peru
buried a town in 1970 killing 20,000.

Major quakes can shift the ocean several
meters, initiating tsunamis, which start
small before smacking into cities at 500 mph.

If huge fires from busted gas and electric
lines ignite and the quake brakes your city's
water mains, you can always pump water from the
bay like San Franciscans did in 1989.

Tremblers near volacanoes can set off eruptions
of superhot gas and ash. Glaciers can melt into
"lahars" volcanic mudflows that travel more than 30 mph.

(Abstracted from MAXIMMAG by Katie Claypoole)
posted by infraternam meam @ 5:48 AM   0 comments
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
Drinking coffee sobers you up.
The real deal:

The java cure is dangerous jive.
Did happy hour last till closing time again?
Gulp an espresso, if you like, but don't believe it'll
set you straight. Though the caffeine may wake you up,
it has a negligible effect on blood alcohol level and won't
improve your booze-impaired motor skills. The false sense of
alerntness may even fool you into doing something really stupid,
like driving or dialing up your ex. Luckily Starbucks also offers,
those comely couches.

Big shoes equal big schlong
The real deal:

Size 14 loafers may qualify you for a clown act, but not a porn flick.
The feet matches-meat myth wrapping his equipment in pelts, leaving
horny cave women to gossip about a guy appendage they could still see.
Feel no shame, size six wearers! In 2002, researchers at Univeristy
College of London measured the poles and soles of 104 men, from teens
to retirees, and found no evidence linking foot and penis length.
Caveat: Only limp, "gently stretched" penises were measured.
Apparently, science won't go to any length to settle this issue.

Men reach their sexual peak 15 to 20 years
before women do.
The real deal:

Oh...oh...that feels so wrong! Despite compelling evidence
presented by the Graduate and Stifler's mom, the fact is that
by their late teens,men and women both peak in regard to
physiological factors, such as hormone levels and ease of arousal,
"But because of societal pressures in our culture, women often feel
less comfortable and are less capable or orgasm in younger years,"
explains Sandor Gardos, PhD,, a sex therapist and the CEO of adult
product and information site MyPleasure.com "the sexual peak myth
probably derives from women in their mid-30's finally saying,
"To hell with it, I'm going to enjoy myself". Hence your mother's
success in the schisse film industry.

Going out in the cold causes colds.
The real deal:

Finally, a cure for this common quackery. "You're going
out without a coat? Youl'll catch a cold"! Actually,
Mother dear, you'll nag us to death before we get sick
shoveling snow in a Speedo. Studies funded by the
National Institute of Allergy and Infectiuos Diseases
reveal that exposure to cold weather has little or no
effect on cold suceptibility. Despite its name, the common
cold is cause by numeorous viruses, not temperature.
You catch a cold when a virus is deposited into your nasal
passages by droplets from coughs and sneezes or your own
contaminated fingers. (Although you may feel stuffed up when
you go from your warm house to the cold outdoors, this is
because your nasal membranes swell from contact with cold air;
this stuffiness then briefly becomes a runnuy nose when esposed
to warm air, but it's not a cold.) So why do colds, spread
like crazy in winter? Because rug rats are locked up in germ
factory schools and adults spend more time indoor, where
infection thrives.

Smoking marijuana will make you sterile
The real deal
More reefer madness. If pot causes sterility,how could there
be any little Rastafarians running around? Yes, some lab studies
have indicated that marijuana use temporarily hinders performace
(for the record, so does alcohol) but there has been no proven
link to actual weed-fiend infertility. That said, illegal drugs
arent' tested nearly as often as we'd like, and so couples,
having difficulty conceiving, doctors often suggest putting
the ganja away. After all it's tough to make a baby if you can't
stop watching the SpongeBob Square Pants marathon.

Dogs only see in black and white.
The real deal:

Only if Roper is humping a Dalmatian. Though your best
friend's keen sense of smell is equally vital to navigating
his ass perfumed world, cannine vision isn't limited to
the colors of an Oreo. "Dogs are color blind compared to
humans, but they don't see only in black and white,"
explains Diane Hendrix, associate professor of veterinary
ophthalmology at the University of Tennessee. "Dog eye contains
only two kinds of cones, which actually see in yellow and blue.
In other words, dogs are red-green color blind, as in the case
with many human men. "great-- as if we needed another excuse
for running stoplights.

You should brush your teeth after every meal.
The real deal:

Smile, you need dentures! Acidic foods soften tooth enamel,
so if you dash for the Pepsodent after every glass of O.J.
instead of letting your saliva naturally neutralize the acid,
you could actually erode that hard layer and open the door to
--- your third grade health film--Mr Tooth Decay.
(You're better off brushng before meals) Furthermore, recent
periodontal research shows that electric, and hard bristled
tooth brushes are causing people to scrub their teeth and gums
too enthusiastically, whcih can result in sensitivity, gum
recession,and general chopper funk. Instead, use a soft brush
and rinse out before the two minute mark. Or just move to England.

You can catch VD from a toilet seat.
The real deal:

Well, it's highly unlikely, No, there's no reason
to emulate those germphobic gals who build Charmin
bird's nests on public toilet seats. According to
spokesperson for the Center for Disease Control,
"There are no documented cases of contact with toilet seat."
So that's settled. Except... the CDC admits, "More research
may be needed to say it is completely impossible". And consider
this: Though gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphillis bacteria die
quickly outise the body--- ad does HIV--- studies show that
the secretion from an open herpes sore can survive outsde
the body for up to four hours. So, theoretically, herpes
micriorganisms on a toilet seat could be passed along to
another squatter who has a sore or break in the skin.
But that's strictly theoreticdal. Yep, next to impossible.
Pass another roll of paper there.

(abstracted from MAXIMMAG by Steve Russell/MAXIMONLINE.COM)
posted by infraternam meam @ 4:17 AM   0 comments
(Remember the grilled cheese with the face
of the Virgin Mary bought from eBay?)


HOUSTON, Texas----
An online casion that bought a cheese sandwich said to
bear the Virgin Mary's image and a cane sold to banish a
young boy's fear of ghosts, has struck again--- this time
paying a man $5,300 for his naughty children's Christmas Gifts.

The Pasadena man said last week that he decided to auction the
three Nintendo DS game systems because his sons, ages 9, 11,
and 15, has misbehaved.

The family's decision made headlines, intriguing Golden Palace.com,
casino spokesman Montey Kerr said.
"Everybody knows Santa does'nt come to naughty kids",
Kerr said Sunday.

The Antigua based casino agreed to bid on the game systems
as long the family promised to donate the proceeds to charity, he said.



Can Ecstasy ease cancer anxiety?
Study will tell

The illegal club drug Ecstasy can trigger euphoria among the
debilitating anxiety that cancer patients feel as they face
their final days?

The Food and Drug Adminstration has approved a pilot study
looking at whether the recreational hallucinogen can help
terminally ill patients lessen their fears, quell thoughts
of suicide and make it easier for them to deal with loved ones.

"End of life issues are very important and are getting more
and more attention, and yet there are very few options for
patients who are facing death," Dr. John Halpero, the Harvard
research psychiatrist in charge of the study said Monday.

The small, four month study is expected to begin early next spring.
It will test the drug's effects on 12 cancer patients from the
Lahey Clinic Medical Center in the Boston area. The research is
being sponsored by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic
Stidies, a non profit group that plans to raise $250,000 to fund it.

MAPS on its web site, touted the study's approval, saying, "the
longest day of winter has passed, and maybe so has the decades long
era of resistance to psychedelic research".



Three fourths would make it legal, though fewer think it helps

Almost three fourths of older Americans support legalizing
medical marijuana for medical use, according to a poll done for
the nation's largest advocacy group for seniors.

More than half of those questioned said they think marijuan has
medical benefits, while a larger majority agreed the drug is addictive.

AARP, with 35 million members, says it has no political position
on medical marijuana.

But with medical marijuana at the center of a Supreme Court case to
be decided next year and almost a dozen states with medical marijuana
laws on their books, AARP decided to study the issues.

"The use of medical marijuana applies to many older Americans who
may benefit from cannabis", said Ed Dwyer, edictor at AARP.
The magazaine, which will discuss the matter in its March/April
issue appearing in late Jnauary.

Among the 1,706 adults polled in AARP's random phone survey in
November, opinions varied along regonal and generational lines.

Overall, 72 percent of respondents agreed "adults should be allowed
to legally use marijuana for mediucal purposes, if a physician
recommends it". Those in the Northeast (79 percent) and the West
(82 percent) were more receptive to the idea than in the Middwest
(67 percent), Southwest (65 percent_ and South (70 percent).

Though 69 percent of those 70 and older said they support legal
medical marijuana use, less than half agreed it has medical benefits.

Seventy percent of respondents 45 percent said they believe in the
medical benefits of pot, as did 59 percent of those in the 50-69 age group.

While 74 percent of all people surveyed said pot is addictive, older
respondents were more likely to think so; 83 percent of those 70 and
older, compared with 61 percent of those 45-49.

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on whether federal
agents can pursue sick people who use homegrown marijuana with their
doctors permission and their states approval.

The Bush adminstration said alllowing medical marijuana in California
would undermine federal drug control programs and that pot grown for
medical use could nd up on the illegal market.

CHICAGTRIB/ by Elizabeth Wlofe/ Associated Press)
posted by infraternam meam @ 3:23 AM   0 comments
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
Believe everything you read in the tabloids? So do we!
But sometimes a show biz lie gets out. Here are five
famous fake outs.


While Bill Cosby is very rich and doubtless not amused by
Buckwheat, King World Productions still owns the show. And King
World itself is more than happy to let you watch every minute
of the Rascals, especially if you're willing to shell out the
bucks to buy them on DVD. Otay!

2.... Waterworld was a monumetnal box office disaster.
Kevin Costner's epic Road Warrior ripoff cost a ton ($175 million)
and received miserable reviews, leading many to conclude it flopped
in theatres. Wrong. Thanks largely to overseas moviegoers, it raked
over$264 million. Never underestmate the crappy taste of foreigners.

3.... Mama Cass choked to death on a ham sandwich.
While she was a big fan of groceries, the Mamas and the Papas singer
died of heat failure, not aggravated sandwich. This tasty bit of
gossip grew because a ham sandwich was found on her nightstand
after her death, apparently with a very guilty look on her face.

4.... Robert De Niro is the greatest Italian of all times.
We hate to break it to you folks, but the star of the Godfather
Part II and Goodfellas has a secret. Tell 'em, Bobby: "I'm not
all Italian. I'm part Italian, I'm part French. I'm part German.
I'm part Irish". Whew, if it turns out Denzel ain't actually black.
we're going to be very disappointed.

5.... Richard Gere went to the hospital with a gerbil up his ass.
There are no documented cases of a man needing medical care to
remove a gerbil from his colon. This story picked up steam
after a hoaxer sent out numerous fake ASPCA press releases
attacking Gere for "animal cruelty". Still, Gere's career
remains firmly lodged in his rectum.

posted by infraternam meam @ 11:50 PM   0 comments
Monday, December 27, 2004
Jars may be same type Jesus used to
turn water into wine

CANA, Israel
Among the roots of ancient olive trees, acheologists
have found pieces of large stone jars of the type the
Gospel says Jesus used when he turned water into wine
at a Jewish wedding in the Galilee village of Cana.

They believe these could have been the same kind of
vessels the Bible says Jesus used in his first miracle,
and that the site where they were found could be the
location of bibilcal Cana.

But Bible scholars caution, it'll be hard to obtain conclusive
proof -- especially since experts disagree on exactly where
Cana was located.

Christian theologians attach great significance to the water
to wine miracle at Cana. The act was not only Jesus first miracle,
but it also came at a crucial point in the early days of his public
minsitry-- when his reputation was growing, he had just selected
his disciples and was under pressure to demonstrate his divinity.

The shreds were found during a salvage dig in modern day Cana,
between Nazareth and Capernaum. Israel archeologists Yardena Alexaner
believes the Arab town was built near the ancient village. The jar
pieces date to the Roman period, when Jesus traveled in the Galilee.

"All indications from the archaelogical excavations suggest that the
site of the wedding was (midern day) Cana, the site that we have been investigating," said Alexander, as she cleaned the site of mud from
winter rains.

However, American archeologists excavating a rival site several miles
to the north have also found pieces of stone jars from the time of Jesus,
and believe they have found bibilical Cana.

Another expert archeologist Shimon Gibson, cast doubt on the find at
modern Cana, since both vessels are not rare and it would be impossible
to link a particular set of vessels to the miracle.

More digging needed

"Just the existence of stone vesels is not enough to prove that this
is a biblical site," and more excavations are needed, he said.

Based on the shards, Alexander believes the vessels found at her
site were 12 to 16 inches in diameter---or large enough to be the
same type of jars described in the Gospel of John.

Other evidence that might link the site tot he biblical account
includes the presence of Jewish ritual bath at the house, which
shows it wa a Jewish community. Locally produced pottery was used
at the simple house, showing it could have been from the poor village
described in the Scriptures.

Stephen Pfann, a Bible scholar in Jerusalem, said that while the
American digs has generally been accepted by scholars as the true
day Cana raise new questions.

"I think there is simple evidence that both sites are from the first
century, and we need more informationsto correctly identify either
site," Pfann said.

(Associated Press/ Laurie Copans)
posted by infraternam meam @ 11:49 PM   0 comments
Just in time for that last minute holiday gift,
a bioscience firm has announced the first sale of a
cloned kitten, a male named Little Nicky.

Genetics Savings and Clone of Sausalito, Calif.,
reports selling the kitten to a Texas woman for $50,000.
Genetically, the kitten is a twin of the buyer's Maine Coon
cat Nicky, who died earlier this year.

"He is identical. His personality is the same," said the
owner, Julie. She asked that her last name and hometown not
be disclosed because she said she fears being targeted by
groups opposed to cloning.

The sale of the kitten, born Oct. 17 is a lab in Austin,
Texas, is the first of six similar transactions the cloning
firm has in the works. More cloned kittens are being weaned
before delivery to their owners, says firm spokeman Ben Carlson.

The Humane Society and other pet advocay groups have criticized
pet clonming as wasteful, noting that 6 million to 8 million cats
and dogs enter shelters each year nationwide, where 3 million to
4 million are put to death.

"We've gotten along fine for millions of years the old fashioned
way of breeding cats. We don't need cloning", says Wayne Pacelle
of the Humane Society. He also questions the decsion to expose pets
to an experimental procedure like cloning.

(Gannett News Service/ Associated Press/ Dan Vergano)
posted by infraternam meam @ 11:24 PM   0 comments
Spirit of the season not what it used to be

News Item: Survey by British
think thank finds that the British drink the most,
the French drive drunk the most and Americans murder
one another the most during the Christmas Holiday.
Ho! Ho! Ho!

News Item: Small asteroid 2004 YD5,
which no astronomers had noticed until its arrival,
passes within 25,000 miles of Earth the day before

If the asteroid had hit, it would have, at the very
worst, exploded with the force of eight Hiroshima bombs
16,000 feet above us.

So stop worrying.
Ho! Ho! Ho!

Elton John on beholding the Alps from afar:
"When I fly over the snow covered Alps, all I think about
is the 'snow' that I once took. Somebody once---"
Oh, be quiet.

Supermarket Headline of the Month:

The thought doesn't count for much
For Christmas this year, Kevin Kostner, rich beyond the dreams
of avarice, is giving people CDs with compilations of
his favorite songs. A mouthpiece told World Entertainment
News Network that Costner "is recording a selection of
tracks that have sentimental value to him and his wife
Christine because he hates meaningless, commercial presents....
it's more heartfelt than just buying something from a store".

I wonder if he downloads the songs from the Internet for free,

British princesses Eugenie and Beatrice, daughters of Sarah
Ferguson and Prince Andrew, got to meet Leonardo DiCarpio
at the British premiere of his new movie.'The Aviator".
They were the envy of teenage girls when they got up close
and personal with movie hunk Leonardo DiCarpio.

Fergie, formally known as the Duchess of York, was there
and the four chatted for several minutes.

Beatrice is 16; Eugenie si 14, Leo is 30, Fergie is 45.

(abstracted from CHICAGOSUNTIMES by Zay N. Smith)
posted by infraternam meam @ 5:21 AM   0 comments
Crowds converge on square for mass

Pope John Paul II ushered in Christmas on Friday by
celebrating midnight mass at St. Peter's Basilica
praying for peace and that Jews, Muslims and Christians
will live harmoniously in the Holy Land.

All through the day, pilgraims descended on St. Peter's Square
to admire a 105 foot tall Christmas tree brought down from the
Italian alps and a life size Nativity scene unveiled Friday
alongside the 100 year old fir.

Many people waited in line for hours to get into the mass
while Italian police screened pilgrims with metal detectors
before letting them into St. Peters's Basicilica. Police cars
ringed the piazza, and officers patrolled the already heavily
protected sqaure in a fleet of new miini Lamborghinis resembling
a mini golf carts.

A choir sang a Christmas concert in the square after dusk. In the
darkness, a single candle representing peace appeared in the pope's
window. The pontiff raised the candle to make the sign of the cross,
and the crowd burst into applause.

At mass later, the 84 year old pope was guided to the front of the
church in his white wheeled throne. Wearing a pale golden reobe, he
appeared in form and spoke in a clear voice in the opening greeting.

The pope made no specific references to current issues in his homily,
but said of Christ: "all humanity, with its burdens of trials and
troubles, stands in need of you."

The holidays are always a trying period for the ailing pontiff,
who on christmas day planned to read his homily message and issue
greetings in dozens of languages. In a speech during the week, the
pope acknowledged the burdens of illness and age. He has Parkinson's
disease and crippling leg ailments.

"The passing years made one feel an ever more intense need for help
from God, and from people." he said before handing his speech over
to an aide, who read most of the remarks.

Yet the pope has kept to his regular holiday appointments. He is
also planning to leas a New Year's Eve prayer service and a mass for
the church's World Day of Peace on Jan. 1.

The Vatican said the midnight mass and the Christmas Day message
were to be tlevised in 73 countries.

((Associated Press by Victor l. Simpson)
posted by infraternam meam @ 5:04 AM   0 comments
Sunday, December 26, 2004
BETHLEHEM, West Bank---In this
Christmas season of hopes and fears, the little
town of Bethlehem finds itself suspended somewhere
between the two.

With lamplights glowing softly on ancient stones
and the musty fragrance of incense penetrating the
damp winter chill, Palestinian christians, foreign
dignitaries and a smattering of tourists celebrated
midnight mass on Friday night in the basilica built
on the sport where tradition says Jesus was born.

The holiday-- marked by its usual Holy Land melange
of army roadblocks and candlelight carols, twingkling
lights and olive drab armored vehicles -- has seen some
tentative cause for optimism this year: the easing of
day-to-day violent conflict with Israel, coupled with
greater Palestinian aspirations to democracy in the wake
of Yassr Arafat's death.

But Bethlehem, battered by more than four years of bitter
fighting between Palestinian militants and Israeli troops,
wonders whether it can ever revitalize a tourism industry
that was once its lifeblood. And city leaders sadly concede
that the exodus of Palestinian Christians is probably irreversible.

Still, the city was able to conjure up something of its
centuries old Christmas spirit, even on a cold and drizzly
holiday eve. Most of those celebrating in Bethlehem were local
Palestinians, including throngs of young Muslim men and boys
seeking any excuse for a night out from one of the city's grim
Palestinian refugee camps.

The few foreign tourists present mostly belonged to organized
church groups, rather than the solo travelers who could be found
venturing to the West Bank on their own in the years before the
intifada broke out in September 2000.

Mahmoud Abbas, chief of the Palestine Liberation Organization,
attended midnight mass in the chapel adjoining the nearly 1,500
year old Basilica of the Nativity, reviving a long held trasition.
Arafat, before being effectively imprisoned by Israel in his Ramallah
headquarters, had been an enthusiastic adherent of the Bethlehem
festivities. He and his Christian born wife, Suha, sometimes would
dress up their small dauighter, Zahwa, in santa style garb.

The Israeil army said it had done all it could to ease the passages
of foreign pilgraims and local Palestinian Christians to the Bethlehem
festivities, although Bethlehems's governor said free access should have
been provided days earlier.

"We hope very much that things will change",said George Baboul, who owns
a souvenir shop off Manger square.

On this holiday ever, however, his shop was so empty that he did not
even bother switching on the lights.

(abstracted from the CHICAGOTRIBUNE/LOS ANGELES TIMES by Laura King)
posted by infraternam meam @ 4:39 AM   0 comments
Saturday, December 25, 2004



posted by infraternam meam @ 4:54 AM   1 comments
In various provinces of the Philippines, there are
numerous strange but true Christmas Day beliefs and

Silent Night.
Loud talking is forbidden in Northern barrios of Samar
from midnight on December 24th until 2a.m. on Christmas
Day. People whisper so as "not to awaken the sleeping
newborn Baby Jesus" No noise, Please!!

Don't Wash Away The Blessings.
According to the people of the small barrio of Decabo
in Busuanga, Mindoro, it is rude and unwise to take a
bath on December 25 as it might "wash away" the blessings
that the Christ child bestows on His birthday.

Stretch and Grow Taller.
For some short Capizenos for whom Christmas Day and
Easter Sunday (also called Pascua) are similarly important,
stretching in bed is encouraged upon waking up on these two
mornings in order to grow miraculously taller.

Don't Swat A Fly.
To swat a fly or a mosquito is all right but not on
Christmas Day in Barrio Bontol, Antique. Don't step on
ants or kill any other insects. Such acts will bring bad
luck to the community. For their yuletide fare -- fish or
fowl, pig opr cow must be slaughtered the day before.

Food "To Go".
On Christmas Day Eve at around 9 o'clock, the barrio folk
of Garcia Hernandez, Pampanga deispatch their womenfolk
carrying empty baskets from house to house for "manghimaja"--
to ask for food to take back to their Noche Buena. At each
house visited, a male elder stands waiting with a big
pot of his family's specialty dish for tumatapat -- to give
a portion to every woman who comes around with a basket.

Nearing midnight, with baskets now brimming with food,
the women return to their respective homes in time to prepare
their table fo the midnight repast.

Each household, therefore, is able to enjoy a dozen or so
different dishes on their Christmas table. This is a charming
cutom of bayanihan (community sharing).

Healing Rain.
The elders of the coastal barrio of Macala, Bulan, Sorsogon,
put out empty pails and cans from midnight of December 24
to midnight of December 25 to catch the first raindrops,
believed to be miraculous and healing. People from Bicol
who sahre this belief thus pray for rain on Christmas Day.
(In the Philippines, it seldom rain in December).

Lucky Baby
A baby born on Christmas Day is considered very lucky not only
for the family, but also for the entire barrio in Cabigtian,Bohol.
Folks visit and bring gifts for the newborn, even they are
strangers to the family. They believe that this will bring
them luck as well.

In Aborlon, Palawan, folks even serenade the newborn with
Christmas carols. The Christmas bay is given two gifts --
one for the birthday and another for Christmas. (To economize by
having just one present is considered foolish as this may bring
meager luck to the giver.)

The Early-Bird's Reward.
In some town in Iloilo and Capiz, people believe that rising very
early in the morning on Christmas Day will attract wealth.
Farmers in Matangule, Palawan and Nabasagan, Burias Island
which lies between Masbate and Albay, go a step further by
planting rootcrops very early on Christmas morning to ensure abundant
harvests in the future.

New Shoes.
For some people of Pagsanjan, Laguna, it is important
to buy new shoes for Christmas. Wearing new shoes shows respect
for the Child Jesus. It is also believe that the person will
be lucky and will "Go places". The new pair, however,
must be worn on Christmas Mass!

(Abstracted from PILIPINAS 2.0 MAGAZINE)

posted by infraternam meam @ 4:18 AM   0 comments
Thursday, December 23, 2004
*** The first Christmas in the Philippines was
celebrated 200 years before Ferdinand Magellan
discovered the country for the western world
between the year 1280 and 1320 AD.

*** The word Christmas comes from the Old English
Christes maesse or Mass of Christ.

*** Alabama was the first state in the US to recognize
Christmas as an official holiday. This tradition began
in 1836. Oaklahoma became the last US state to declare
Christmas a legal holiday.

*** America's official national Christmas tree is located
in King's Canyon National Park in California. The tree, a giant
sequoia called the "General grant tree" is over 300 feet
hihg. It was made the official Christmas tree in 1925.

*** California, Michigan.Washington,Wisconsin,Pennsylvania
and North Carolina are the top Christmas tree producing states.
Oregon is the leading producer with 8.6 million in 1998.

*** Christmas caroling began as an Old English custom called
Wassailling. It is toasting neighbors to a long and healthy

*** In France, Christmas is called Noel. This is derived
from the French phrase 'les bonnes nouvelles,' which means
literally "good news" and refers to the gospel.

*** In North America, children put stocking out at Christmas
time. Their Dutch counterparts, however, use shoes to receive
gifts any time between mid-November and December 5,
St. Nicholas Day.

*** The custom of sending Christmas Cards started in Britain in
1840 when the first 'Penny Post' public postal deliveries began.

*** In English speaking countires, the day following Christmas
Day is calleD Boxing Day. The word comes from the custom that
started in the Middle Ages around 800 years ago: churches would
open their alms box and distribute the contents to poor people
in the neighborhood on the day after Christmas.

*** In 1647, the English parliament passed a law that made
Christmas illegal. Puritan leader Oliver Cromwell, who
considered feasting to be immoral, banned festivities.
The ban was lifted when the Puritans lost power in 1660.

*** In Sweden, a commom Christmas decoration is the Julbock,
a small figurine of a goat made from straw.

*** More than three billion Christmas carDs are sent annually
in the United States.

*** An Austrian priest named Joseph Mohr wrote Silent Night in
1818. He was told the day before Christmas that the church organ
was broken and would not be fixed in time for Christmas Eve.
He was saddened by the the news so he wrote a song that could be
sung without an accompaniment of a music instrument. He finished
his composition with three stanzas before dusk. Later that evening,
his masterpiece entitled "Silent Night" was sang by the churchgoers
for the first time.

*** The first Christmas card was created in England on December 9,1842.

*** The movie "How Grinch Stole Christmas" featured more thatn 52,000
Christmas lights, about 8,200 Christmas ornaments, and nearly
2,000 candy canes.

*** The popular Christmas song "JIngle Bells" was composed in 1857 by
James Pierpont, and was originally entitled "One-Horse Open Sleigh".

*** the biggest selling Chritmas single of all time is White Christmas,
It is a song of peace and yearning for the 'ones we used to know' and
was released to a war torn public during the darkest days of world war II
By the end of the war it had become the biggest selling single of all time.

*** Hallamrk introduced its first Christmas cards in 1915, five years
after the founding of the company.

*** The Christmas season begins at sundown on the 24th December and lasts
through sundown on the 5th of January. For that reason, this season
is also known as the Twelve Days of Christmas.

*** The City of San Fernando was known as the Christmas Capital of the
Philippines?It is known for its Paskuhan Village where Christmas
is celebrated all throughout the year! There you will find display
of the giant "Parol" or Christmas Lanterns--the largest probably
in the whole world, contributed by all the barrios that participated
in the contest.

posted by infraternam meam @ 3:25 PM   2 comments
(abstracted from CHICAGOSUNTIMES/
World Section /by Vijay Joshi)

Conservative bristle at recording
posted on eBay for sale

It was a private act of two hormone charged teenagers
that last 2 minutes and 27 seconds on digital video.

But offerd for sale on the Internet, the fuzzy images of
17 year old girl having oral sea with her high school
boyfriend has sent shock waves through urban India,
exposing the growing friction between the conservative
middle class, its increasingly Westernized children and
modern technology.

"It came to me as surprise that kids are having sex so soon,"
said Barkha Dutt, who hosts the country's most popular television
talk show on social issues.

India may be the birthplace of Kama Sutra but sex today is a
generally taboo subject. Premarital sex is not widely condoned,
and public displays of affection draw frowns.

The girl's parents have sent her off to Canada. The 17 year old
boy is in juvenile detention center.

The sex clip -- shot by the boy using his cell phone camera--
was recorded weeks ago and passed on by the bragging teen to
three of his friends. It eventually made its way to video disc
sellers in New Delhi, bit did not draw muich attention until an
engineering student at a prestigious Indian college listed it
for sale in Baazee.com.

Caught in the scandal's stinging sweep is Avnish Bajaj, the
Indian born American who heads eBay's Indisian subsidiary Baazee.com.

Bajaj was arrested last week under an ambiguous Indian law on
cyber pron. He was freed after posting bail Tuesday, but his U.S.
passport remained confiscated.

Bajaj's arrest triggered a spat between the United States and
India and a threat by Ebay executives to reconsider doing business
in a country that would jail one of their top managers.

(Associated Press)
posted by infraternam meam @ 4:46 AM   0 comments
(abstracted from CHICAGOSUNTIMES/ Health reporter/ Jim Ritter)


Twins delivered near 26 weeks have good chance of
normal life.

No baby as tiny as 8.6 ounces had ever survived
before Rumaisa Rahman was born Sept. 18.

Although no bigger than a cell phone, Rumaisa still
had some things in her favor, doctors at Loyola University
Medical Center explained Tuesday as they introduced her to the media.

Rumaisa spent nearly 26 weeks in the womb before she was
delivered by Caesarean section, along with her twin sister.
That's three weeks longer than the minimum needed to sruvive.

"It's how long you've been in the oven that's important,
not how small you are," said neonatologist Dr. Jonathan Muraskas.

Rumaisa was remarkably free of infections, collasped lungs,
pneumonia or other serious complications common in preemies.

And, she was a girl. Of the world's 20 smallest surviving babies,
18 are female.

"Boys are the weaker sex," Muraskas said, "Girls do better

While it's too early to know for wure, Rumaisa and her sister
"have a great chance of being normal." says Muraskas.

Rumaisa broke the record held by another Loyola preemie,
Madeline Mann, who weighed 9.9 ounces when she was born in 1989.
Madeline now is an honor student at Conant High School in Hoffman Estates.

Cost for preemies is extraordinarily expensive. Loyola's neonatal
intensive care unti costs about $5,000 per day. At the rate,
the bill for Rumaisa and Hiba would total around $500,000.
Medicaid is paying the bill, a hospital spokesman said.

The girls 23 year old mother, Mahanajeen Shaik, was born in
India and became a U.s. citizen after moving in the states in 1996.
Her husband is a customer service representative who moved in the
states after they married.

The girls are put on a breathing machines, and placed in
incubators that kept them at 98.7 degrees.

Rumaisa was fed through an IV line and later a tube in her nose.
She underwent laser surgery to fix a vision problem common in
preemies. Her head is normal and there's been no bleeding in
the brain, a commom complication that increases the risk of
cerebral palsy.

The grils are taking milk with a bottle and steadily gaining
weight and soon will go off supplemental oxygen.


** Rumaisa Rahman, born in 2004 at Loyola University Medical Center
in Maywood, Ill. 8.6 ounces.

** Madeline Mann, born in 1989 at Loyola, 9.9 ounces.

** Girl born in South Shields, Britain, in 1938, 10 ounces.

** Girl born in Florence, Italy in 2002, 10.1 ounces.

** Girl born in Tokyo in 19991, 10.2 ounces

(SOURCE: Children's Hospital of Iowa)
posted by infraternam meam @ 4:18 AM   1 comments
Tuesday 21Dec.:
22 dead and 69 wounded.
The worst U.S. military losses of life in Iraq.
A rocket tore through a mess tent at the
U.S. military base near Mosul.
20 Americans -- 15 soldiers and five civilian
contractors-- as well as two Iraqi soldiers dead.

March 23,2003:
Twenty nine American troops were killed,
including 11 killed in the Nasiriyah ambush in which
Pfc. Jessica Lynch was captured.

Nov. 15, 2003
Two black Hawk helicopters collided over Mosul,
killing 17 soldiers and injuring five.
The choppers were maneuvering to avoid a ground fire.

April 6,2004:
Eleven Marines and a Navy medical corpsman
were killed in Ramadi when insurgents hiding in
the city's cemetery attached them.

November 2004:
During the battle of Fallujah, which lasted
more than a week, insurgents killed at least
17 Americans soldiers and Marines.

(Source: Chicago Tribune and Wire Reports)
posted by infraternam meam @ 4:06 AM   0 comments
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
SIMBANG GABI lasts for nine consecutive days
beginning December 16. Traditionally, it is
held at dawn, but some parishes anticipated
masses one night in advance. This religious
event dates back to the time when Miguel Lopez
de Legazpi celebrated the first feast of the
Nativity in 1565 in the Philippine Archipelago.

SIMBANG GABI traces its roots in Mexico when in
Mexico, Fray Diego de Soria, friar of the Convent of
San Agustin Acolman, petitioned the Pope for permission
to hold Christmastide masses outdoors because the church
could not accomodate the multitide that attended the dawn
service. When the request was granted, the masses became
known as Misa de Aguinaldo.

It was in the 16th century when Pope Sixtus V decried
that these pre-dawn masses be also held in the Philippines
starting December 16. The decree was in keeping with the
nine-day traditional festivals of Filipino in celebrating
auspicious occasions like harvest time. It was also meant
to give farmers a chance to hear mass before setting out
for the fields. Rural Filipinos were used to starting the
day two hours before sunrise.

Church bells resound to call the faithful to Simbang Gabi.
In some provinces, brass bands play traditional Christmas music
and parish would go as fast as knocking on the doors of every home.
After the nine-day Simbang Gabi, follows the
Misa de Gallo (Mass of the Rooster).
This is held midnight of December 24 to welcome the birth
of the Savior. In some churches, the Panunuluyan,
depicting Mary and Joseph's efforts to find a suitable birthplace,
is reenacted and the baby Jesus first makes his appearnace in
the manger of the Belen, the Nativity scene.

The Simbang Gabi or Misa de Gallo
is a treasured Filipino tradition. It carries with it the best
of the Filipino culture; a faith that is willing to endure
sacrifices; the gathering of families to share simple joys;
and the celebration of the birth of the savior.

(abstracted from PILIPINASMAGAZINE/2.0)

posted by infraternam meam @ 4:16 AM   0 comments
1. Play Filipino Christmas tunes such as
"Pasko na Sinta Ko."

2. Attend Misa de Gallo which is a mass
held before dawn on December 16 to mark
the start of the nine day novena.

3. Use parols or star shaped lanterns that
have candles inside, to light your way to
the church in the dark.

4. Purchase native foods such as Puto Bumbong
(rice steamed inside a bumbong oN small bamboo tube)
bibingka( rice cake with salted eggs and fresh'
grated coconut meat) and suman (steamed rice wrapped in
banan leaves) outside the church.

5. Expect cumbancheros, or carolers, to visit
your house with musical instruments to serenade
you and your neighbors.

6. Expect to watch the Panunuluyan in the town plaza
on Christmas Eve. This is a re-enactment of the Holy
Couple's journey to Bethlehem and portrays the lack of
hospitality they encountered along the way.

7. Attend midnight mass on Christmas Eve. This is always
a special event that children wear new clothes to.

8. Gather with friends and relatives for Noche Buena
after the mass ends. Thus is a fetive meal followed
by the exchange of gifts, which lasts through the next

9. Arrange to visit family and friends on Christmas day.

10.Remember that the holiday season draws to close with
the Feast of the Three Kings on the first Sunday of January.

(abstracted from PILIPINAS2.0/MAGAZINE)


posted by infraternam meam @ 4:04 AM   0 comments
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
O Canada! The welcome mat's out as what
seemed like mere grumbling gets serious
for some who did'nt wants Bush re-elected.

Just before the Nov 2 election it was common
in some liberal circles to hear people joke,
or threaten, to move to Canada if Presidene
Bush won.

Then he won. And as anger among many who voted
against him turned to resignation, thoughts of
Canada faded like snow in a spring thaw.

Indeed, while the media churned out stories in
early November about a great northern exodus and
a Canadian Web sites reported huge increases in
traffic, once the emotional dust settled. Americans
seemingly went about their lives. Or at least most did.

But it appears that a small, and as-yet unquantifiable,
group really is pulling up stakes.

Consider Ralph Appoldt, an Oregon based sales manager
for a company that makes power wheelchairs. His fury has
yet to subside and slowly and deliberately, he is planning
his move to Canada.

"This is a hard time to do." said Appoldt, 51. "It's not
like we have miserable lives. In a nutshell, I think our
adminstration is just very ugly...If this is what American
wants, then I don't want to be an American anymore."

In Ottawa, Canadian immigrations officials dubbed a hug
increase in visits to their official Web site
"the November spike." Traffic grew from an average of about
50,000 hits a day to 180,000 on Nov. 3,. A majority of the
hits-- 64 percent--came from south of the border.

Traffic on the site did not return to normal for 10 days,
then shot up again and is still above average.

Whether this will translate into a real immigration
boomlet will not be known for several months, Canadian
immigration spokewoman Maria Iadinardi said.

One thing is certain: Canada, which had a population
roughly the size of California's in a land mass slightly
larger than the entire United States, needs immigrants.
"We're such a small country," Iadinardi said. "we're very
underpopulated. We are one of the largest countries in the
world, and we only have 32 million people."

For certain people, Canada opens its arms. People who want
to apply for permanent resident status in the easiest resident
"skilled worker," need score only 67 out of 100 on a test that
awards points for education, language proficiency.
(French and English), work experience and age. There are no
sure bets, say immigration attorneys, but just about anyone
in good health with a college degree, a decent work record
and a blank rap sheet can make the grade.

Even illness is not grounds for inadmissibility, although
Canada reserves the right to refuse entry to people who
might strain social resources.

About 1 million U.S. citizens live in Canada, fewer that
6,000 move there each year; Canada has a goal of about 250,000
new immigrants a year.

For disappointed blue state types, the reasons to consider
Canada are featured succinctly on CanadianAlternative.com:
The country has universal health care, no troops in Iraq,
and signed the Kyoto Protocl,and its seante has recommended
legalizing marijuana.

"We are certainly promoting a certain visin of Canada,"
said the Web site's creator, Jason Mogus, 31, CEO of a
communications form that works for non profit group.

David Frum, a Yale educated Canadian and former Bush
speechwriter who live in Wasdhington., however, pointed out
in an e-mail: "if we opemed the U.S. Canadian border to
migrants dissastified with the current government of their
country, you'd find 20 Canadians moving southward to
Geroge Bush's American for every American who moved away."

(abstrated from TRIBUNENEWS/LOSANGELESTIMES/by Robin Abcarian)

posted by infraternam meam @ 10:46 PM   0 comments
Radio had its own golden age in the 1930's.
In the 1950's, it was television's turn.
Historians may well date the golden age of
the blog from 2004 -- when Merriam-Webster.com's
most searched-for definition was blog.
How long can it last? Who know's? Here's
what we discovered about the new medium this year

When Delta airlines flight attendant
Ellen Simonetti, 30 -- a leggy blond and
self-styled "queen of the sky"-- began her blog,
she thought it would be fun to post pinup snapshots
of herself in uniform. Delta wasn't amused and
promptly fired her. Undaunted, Simonetti retitled
the blog Diary of a Fired Flight Attendant and
detailed her legal battle to get her job back.

GO TO: queenofsky.journalspace.com

After book editor Russ Kick read that the
U.S. military was clamping down on press photos
of coffins coming back from Iraq, he did'nt just
pen and angry rant on his blog, the Memory Hole.
He filed a Freedom of Information Act request---
nd embarassingly for the Pentagon, was mailed a CD
from the Air Force with 361 coffin snaps, which he
promptly posted. The national press, which hadn't
thought to ask whether the mailitary had picures,
beat a path to Kick's door.

GO TO:thememoryhole.org

Plain Layne, a highly personal blog supposedly belonging
to a Minnesota lesbian named Layne Johnson that drew
thousands of fans over 3 1/2 years before mysteriously
disappearing, was revealed to be a hoax. Hundreds of fans
helped track down the real author, Odin Soli, 35, a male
enterpreneur from Woodbury, Minn. Later in the year,
fake Bill Clinton and Andy kauffman blogs became hits.


So your blog han'st succeeded in getting national
attention for your pet issue? Don't lose heart. Just blog,
link and repeat. It worked for conservative bloggers
like Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit, who trumpeted the
Swift Boat Veterans Claims this summer, as well as for
liberal blogs like Daily Kos,which investigated evidence
that Pres. Bush wore a wire in his first debate. Some of
the issues had questionable merit, but persistent bloggers
made the subject tough to ignore. Say it enough times
online,and someone is bound to hear you.

GO TO: Instapundit.com,dailykos.com

In May a blog graphically detailing the sex life of an
anonymous Capitol Hill staff member prompted D.C.'s most
intriguing game of guess-the-author since Primary Colors.
Jessica Cutler, a.k.a. Washingtonienne, was
later outed and fired by her boss, Ohio Representative Mike DeWine, for "inappropriate use of Senate computers".
(Her site is not for kids) In another sign of the times,
her first postfiring interview was with Wonkette,
another Washington blogger.


Earn a living in your pajamas! Online ads
(along with Google's automated ad server) allow popular
bloggers to go pro. Joshua Micah Marshall talkingpointsmemo.com,
a political blog, say he makes $5,000 a month from banner ads --
enough to hire a researcher assistant.

GO TO: talkingpointsmemo.com

Men may have taken the lead in the early (read: geeky)
days of blogging, but that's not the case now. According
to a survey of more than 4 million blogs by Perseus Development,
56% were created by women.More bad news for the boys; men are
more likely than women to abandon their blog once it's crated.
Call blogging 21st century room of one's own.

GO TO: blogsisters.blogspot.com

O.K., so Howard Dean never wrote his blog. But his campaign
workers posted a surprisingly intimate online diary of life
on the road, and Dean had collected $20 Million in contributions
via the internet alone by the end of January 2004. It didn't take
a long for other politicos to catch on. When New York attorney
general Eliot Spitzer announced that he was running for Governor
this month, he did so on his blog.


It started as an in-joke among feline-friendly bloggers:
why not post pictures of their pets every Friday afternoon?
Friday catblogging became a hit, and soon
even NASA was playing along by posting pictures of the
Cat's Eye nebula.

GO TO: carnivalofthecats.com

Blogs would'nt be such a democratic medium if they weren't
so easy to set up. The most popular service, Blogger,
owned by Google, boasts features like push-button photoblogging.
Microsoft has launched a trial version of its own blogging service.

GO TO: blogger.com,spaces.msn.com

posted by infraternam meam @ 3:26 AM   0 comments
Monday, December 20, 2004
She's charged with killing mom, cutting
infant out of womb

MELVERN, Kan-- A woman charge with
killing an expectant mother and cutting the baby from
her womb was showing the child off to people at a cafe
and to her pastor hours befire she was arrested,
residents said Saturday.

Lisa M. Montgomery, 36, was charged with kidnapping
resulting in murder and was expected to appearr in
federal court Monday. The baby, whose mother had been
eight months pregnant, was in good condition.


Hours before her arrest, Montgomery and her husband
showed off a newborn girl at a restaurant, said
Kathy Sage, owner of the Whistle Stop Cafe.

Many customers were surprised to hear the infant
was only a day old, Sage said. She knew an *Amber
alert had been issued for a baby missing from
Missouri but did not realize the Montgomery's
infant was conncected until hearing from a
reporter Friday.

"You read about this stuff," she said.
"It blows you away when it's here. This stuff is
supposed to be in New York City or Los Angeles."

Montgomery was arrested later in the death of Robbie
Jo Stinnett,who was found Thursday in a pool of blood
inside her home in Skidmore, Mo.

Monthgomery's husband, Kevin, has not been charged in
the case.

Authorities said Monthgomery contacted Stinnett through
an online message board, and investigators zeroed in on her,
using computer forensics.

Montgomery was seeking to buy a dog from Stinnett, who raised
rat terriers. The site included a picture of Stinnett,
showing she was pregnant.


After the couple ate breakast, the two took the baby girl
to visit their pastor. The pastor had not seen the couples
since October, and everyone in the congregation was
expecting Montgomery to give birth around Dec. 12.

Jeff Lanza, and FBI spokeman in Kansas City,Mo., declined
to discuss motives and said the investigation is ongoing.
He would say only that Montgomery was being held in Kansas
and is expected to make her first appearance in Federal court

The baby girl named Victoria Jo, was in good condition
Saturday in intensive care. Several family members,
including her father had been reuntied with her at a
hospital late Friday.

The family was not speaking to reporters, but the child's
father Zeb Stinnett, issued a brief statement calling
the child "a miracle".

"I was to thank family, friends, Amber Alert and law
enforcement officials for their support during this time
he said.

Monthgomery is the mother of two high school age children
but U.S. Attorney Todd Graves said she had been pregnant with
another child that was never born. It was unclear when or
under what circumstances she lost the baby, but the complaint
said she had lied to her husband about giving birth.

** AMBER ALERT... name given when a child is abducted.
AMBER came from a name of a teenage girl that was kidnapped,
years ago.


posted by infraternam meam @ 3:20 AM   0 comments
Sunday, December 19, 2004

Pop star facing trial leave ranch while 200 play.

LOS OLIVOS, Calif. -- An ebullient
Michael Jackson greeted about 200 children who were brought
Friday to the fairy-tale theme park at his countryside ranch
and looked at one point like he might even stay to play.

"I hope you have a wonderful day. Merry Christmas. I love you"
the pop singer called out from the driveway of this estate.

When one of the youngsters shouted, "We love you!"
Jackson replied, "I love you more" before putting an
umbrella over his head and walking back toward his house.

After his brief appearance, Jackson got into a vehicle that
took him off the property.

Spokeswomam Ramone K. Bain said Jackson chose to make the
unusual personal appearance as a surprise for the last group
of children touring Neverland before the Christmas Holiday.

Santa Barbara County authorities have charged Jackson, 46,
with molesting a boy, conspiracy and administering an
intoxicating agent, alcohol, to his alleged victim.
His trial is set for next year.

In a recent court filing that seeks to introduce evidence
of other purported crimes that went uncharged, prosecutors
described the estate as "a veritable paradise"
for children.

Bain said charitable and civic groups bring children
to Neverland at least three times a month.

posted by infraternam meam @ 3:07 PM   0 comments
Saturday, December 18, 2004

Lisa Marie Presley,who's been sitting
on a hunka bunka burnin' real estate since her famous
father died in 1977, agreed to seel a controlling
stake in Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc.,
to businessman Robert F.X. Sillerman, founder of
SPX Entertainment.

It was announced Thursday that Presley, Elvis only
child and sole her, will sell 85 percent of the business,
which manages her father's music rights and Graceland
mansion in Memphis, for approximately $100 million.

The Presley estate brought in almost $45 million
last year. Sillerman said more aggressive marketing,
supported by capital raised through a new publicly traded
company, can make Elvis an even bigger earner.

Presley occupies a unique place in American pop cultue
and "I don't think there's much likelihood his influence
is going to wane anytime in my lifetime
," Silllerman said
by telephone from New York, where he runs the Sillerman Companies.

The agreement will pay Lisa Maire $53 million in cash and
absolve her of $25 million in debts owed by the estate.
She also is to get shares in the new company expected to be
worth more than $20 million.

She will retain possession of her father's home, it's more
than 13 acres of land and many of her fathers'
"personal effects", an announcement said.

Tours of Graceland, which gets 650,000 visitors a year, will
continue unchanged.


posted by infraternam meam @ 4:56 AM   0 comments
Friday, December 17, 2004

Singer George Michael has written
to British celebrity magazine to rebuke
Elton John for making
unflattering comments about Michael's personal life.

In an open letter to Heat magazine, released Tuesday,
Michael accused John of spreading unsubstantiated
gossip pickled up on the "gay grapevine".

In comments published last month, John, 57, told Heat
that "George is in a strange place. There seems to be
a deep rooted unhappiness in his life and it shows on
the latest album. All I would say to George is:
You should get out more

In the letter, Micahel, whose latest album, "Patience"
topped the British charts, said he had "rarely been as as happy
and confident as I am today, thanks to my partner Kenny(Goss)
and the continued support of my fans."

Michael, 41, aid he and John were not close, and that he had
kept his distance because "I was always aware that Elton's
circle of friends was the busiest rumor mill in town,
and that respect for my privacy was not excatly guaranteed

"Elton John knows very little about George Michael, and that's
a fact. Contrary to the public's impression, we have spoken
rarely in the last 10 years
," Micahel wrote. "And to this
day, most of what Elton thinks he knows about my life
is pretty much limited to the gossip he hears on what you
would call the 'gay grapevine', which, as you can imagine,
is lovely stuff indeed."

"Other than that, he knows that I don't like to tour,
that I smoke too much pot and that my albums still have
a habit of going No. 1."

posted by infraternam meam @ 5:26 AM   0 comments
Thursday, December 16, 2004

GAINESVILLE, Florida -- A man accused of
biting his Jack Russell terrier as punishment was jailed
on animal cruelty charges.

The mother of Mount Lee Lacy's girlfriend called police
after he and her daughter argued about Lacy's method of
disciplining his Jack Ruseell terrier, authorities said.

Lacy 21, remained jailed Tuesday.
"He said that biting the dog was good punishment----
that dogs bite, so that's what they understand
Sgt Keith Kameg said. When an officer approached the
terrier; Kameg said, she "was cowering in the back of her
crate as if the officer was going to hurt her."

Police said the dog's left front paw was bloody from bite.



ATLANTA--Two twin sisters are seeing double
--- or make that quadruple---after delivering two sets of twin
boys Tuesday.

Twenty one year olds Ashlee Spinks of Indianapolis and
Andrea Springer of Conyers, Ga., delivered their boys by
scheduled Caesarean sections Tuesday about an hour apart
at Northside Hospital.

The women were six months pregnant when they found out
they were both going to have twin boys due on the same date
--- Jan. 1, 2005.

Spinks came to Georgia several weeks ago to share the
pregnancy with her sister, and Spink's husband,
Bert Means, flew into town Monday to join the birthday party.

The two couple said twins run in the families of all four
parents, and that they did not use fertility drugs to
conceive the babies.

Dr. Larry Matsumoto, a physician who specialized in high
risk pregnancies, said the chances of twin sisters being
pregnant with twin boys on the same date are probably
one in a million.



Long term exposure to American culture might be hazardous
to immigrants health.

A new study found that obesity is relatively rare in the
foreign born until they have lived in the UNited States--
the land of drive throughs, remote controls and double
cheeseburgers--- more than 10 years.

Only 8 percent of immigrants who had lived in the U.S. for
less than a year were obese, but that jumped to 19 percent
among those who had been here for at least 15 years.
That compared to 22 percent of U.S. born residents surveyed.

The study, in today's Journal of the American Medical Asso.,
shows the flip side of the American dream of finding a
better life in the land of plenty.

Previous studies have shown that immigrants tend to have
healthier habits, including less smoking and drug use,
than U.S. born residents, and longer life spans.
Researchers suspect those who choose to immigrate could
be unusually healthy, since uprooting to another country
requires strength and vitality. But the earlier studies
did not look at how obesity rates among immigrants
changed over time.

The link between obesity and numbers of years in the U.S.
was found in white, Hispanics and Asian immigrant groups.
It was not seen in foreign born blacks, but their numbers
in the study were too small to draw any conclusions, said
lead author Dr. Mita Sanghavi Goel of Northwestern Unviersity
in Chicago.

posted by infraternam meam @ 5:13 AM   0 comments
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
**** This is a little bit long---
but it's worth reading.***

(abstracted from MAXIMMAG/ by Adam Piore)

U.S. soldiers stumbled onto a war trophy no man could resist:
US$200 million in cash.

did'nt ask any questions when Qusay, son of Saddam, passed
him the handwritten letter from his father. In it the dictator
stated that he was making a withdrawal: US$1 Billion,
most of it in U.S. Bills.

read the note. It was about 4 a.m. on March 18,2003,
and if banking hours had never applied to Saddam, they meant
even less today. In 26 hours, the first bombs would strike Baghdad.

Security guards from the bank immediately began executing
the dictator's orders. Entering the main vault, they pulled
out 230 stainless steel cases, each brimming with up to
US$4 Million in shrink-wrapped bricks of immaculate US$100 bills,
then loaded them onto three tractor-trailers parked outside.
Two hours later, at the dawn of the war's first day broke over
Baghdad, Qusay and his retinue drove off, trucks in tow.

In the following days, a quarter-million American troops would
invade Iraq. They would scour the country in a search for leaders
of Saddam's regimes and weapons of mass destruction, unaware
that somewhere out there, in a scene eerily reminiscent of the
1999 movie THREE KINGS, was nearly 10 tons of cash.


Sgt Matt Novak was good at finding things. In the weeks before
the 3rd Infantry Division deployed to Kuwait, the brass back
at Fort Stewart had awarded the blond, blue eyed supply sergeant
with achievement coines and citations for his dedication in
equipping his unit, the 10th Engineer Battalion, for the upcoming
war. Novak had worked long hours, often running off base in serach
of hard-to-find like GPS devices, Camelback Canteens,and sun goggles.
A veteran of the first Gulf War, who reenlisted after 9/11, the
32 year old's experience and cool headedness had earned him respect
among superiors and grunts alike. Then, on the first night in Saddam's
palace, after the lightning race to the Baghdad, his reputations as a
wrangler grew tenfold.

"How can you sleep when Iraqis and Republican Guards guys are
trying to kill you
?" Novak had said to his running mate,
Spc. Jamal Mann, after pushing him awake. "Let's go explore".

The two activated their night vision goggles, the began to sniff
around the palace grounds in search of war trophies. One ornate
building festooned with U.S. Army yellow tape looked particualrly
enticing. Mann and Novak climbed over a wall, hopped a metal gate,
and went in through the rear pool door.

It was worth it. The place was tocked with leather couches,
spottles Persian rugs, and crystal chandeliers from the cathedral
ceilings-- boxes upon boxes of grade A booty. Novak collected
designer party dresses for his wife; Mann stashed diamond necklace
and earring sets in the truck. Their buddies were drinking cases
of cognac, smoking $800 Cuban cigars, and toking hash for weeks.

"I dont'care what you do," Novak claims his captain,
Jim Ahearn, told him after that. "If I tell you to get it,
use any means necessary. We conquered this country, and I can
do whatever I want

Mann and Novak say the company set a challenge for them:
an air conditioner, a computer, a televisions, and a DVD player
for every squad. Novak hit the palace of Saddam's son, Uday,
took his silk sheets for his brass bed and later handed out
pieces of gold embossed regime stationery. The tony streets
that snaked out from the presidential palace were like a
giant shopping mall, stocked with fine carpets, Middle Eastern
art, expensive china, big screen TV and jewelry. They came across
stashes of cocaine and heroin. Things could also get a little
macabre. Novak stepped on a hand in a drak room once, then
flipped over a mattress and jumped at the sight of a decomposing
bodies underneath.

Mostly, they peered in windows, blew open doors and safes with
C-4 explosives, and ripped apart storefronts with forklifts.
They broke windows with bricks and hauled documents out of a
camouflaged government offices. They looted everything from
computers to a gold palted submachine gun and MP5s you could fire
without even removing from their briefcases. They loaded it all,
along with brroms, toilet papers, bottled water and electronics,
into a tow, a half ton Russian truck they'd hot wired and
christened the "haji truck". When they pulled up to the brigade,
their fellwo soldiers would shout out their nicknames for
Novak and Mann, "Sanford and Son".

Then, a few weeks after arriving in Baghdad, they struck the jackpot.


On April 18, Staff Sgt. Kenneth Buff went looking for a saw to
trim some trees on the conquered palace grounds. Near Baath Party
headquarters, he came across a coupld of odd lookin, shedlike
buildings. The windows and doors had been cemented over, so he
and another soldier smashed through them.

Inside they found $360 Million in cash.


Some of the items Matt Novak and Jamal Mann
"liberated" from the homes of Baghdad's elite

** Uday Hussein's silk sheets

** Golden faucet fixtures

** 50 cartons of Cuban Cigars

** Russian vodka and cognac

** "Five or six" golden toilet seats

** 15 designer cocktail dresses

** Several diamond necklaces sets

** Numerous gold brooches inlaid with rubies

** Gold embroidered vest belonging to Uday Hussein

** The Kuwaiti royal china

** One chrome plated Smith & Wesson 9 mm with black
ivory handles

** A large collection of Smith & Wesson pistols from
a cabinet in a top general's house

** 23 MP5 briefcase assassin guns, with triggers in handles

** A gold plated MP5 submachine gun

** Bags of cocaine from Uday Hussein's palace

** Scuba sets from a republican guard locker

** 10 high quality Persian rugs

** Saddam's armored Mercedes

** A duffel bag full of cameras and production
quality video equipment

** Various 12,18,and 24 piece royal Iraqi dish sets

** DVD's, including a copy of Bad Boys II

** Photo album of Saddam Hussein and his family

** One sony play station


Capt. Ahearn ordered Mann, Moyer and Novak restricted to
the compound, theri weapon confiscated. The next moring
officers from the Criminal Investigation Command (CID)
interviewed the three men. According to Navak, they told him
that Mann had confessed in taking $200,000 and that they were
going to nail Navak's ass and send him away to prison for
20 years because he hadnt' come clean.

Novak lay awake in his bunk later that night. He thought about
his modest house back in Hinesville, Gerogia and hiw wife and kids.
What kind of life would they have with a father in prison?

Early on the morning of Aril 22, Novak went to see his chaplain.
They sat in the middle of a sprawling field, the four towered
palace booming above the trees before them. Novak told him about
the greed, the fear, his dreams for his wife and kids, and how he
felt like a failure.He asked the chaplain to call brigader Commander
Lt. Col. Michael Presnell, Cpt. Jim Ahearn, and the CID investigators.
He was ready to confess.

Two hours later Novak was escorted to a cold interrogation room --
a technique soemtimes used to rattle Iraqi prisoners. He opened up
his laptop, displaying a written statement recounting everything
that had happened, naming Greenley, Wilson and Burns, Presnell, Ahearn,
the chaplain, and one CID clustered around the computer, reading.

"Go get Greenley and have him standby!" Capt Ahearn
barked at a couple of soldiers nearby. Outside a dust storm kicked up,
pelting the windows with grains of sand. The CID investigator
finished reading Novak's account of what had occurred.

"Prove it." he said.

Novak led them to a field where Mann had told him they had hidden
the third box, but nothing was there.

"This isnt looking good for you Novak", Presnell said.
Soaked with sweat and shaking with nervouseness, Novak lead them to
the river where they had sunk the other two boxes. The water level
had dropped a good four feet. They could see the boxes, coated with
grime and sewage, sticking out of the muck.

"You gotta be fucking kidding me!" said one of
the CID agents.Novak would later show them the rocks,
little twigs and bushes where he said Meyer had stashed
the money. They recovered at least $178,700.

By the time Novak arrived back in the interrogation room,
Wilson, Emmanuel and Burns were all in he hall outside.
Nobody would look him in the face except Greenley, his eyes
burning with hatred and bitter tears.Later Emmanuel would
lead the CID agents to the spot where he waid he and Greenley
had rehidden the box.

The next day Presnell summoned everyone involved to a
briefing room. Novak remembers about 20 people, some he had
never seen before. Apparently, theirs had not been the only "incident".

"Gentlemen, you don't get a second chance in life,
and you damn sure don't get a second chance in the army
Novak recalls Capt.John Peabody, the engineer brigade commander,
saying."But if you come forward, tell us anything you know
about any monmey and everybody involved, the slate will be
wiped clean...While other brothers and sisters were dying
for their country, you were lining your pockets.
Major General Blount does not want this black eye on the
3rd ID. We were the conquerors of Baghdad, and this needs to go away".

Peabody announced a two day amnesty period; whoever came
forward would get amnesty.

Emmanuel, Wilson, Mann, Greenley and Novak all signed
statements admitting invlovement . A bag containing
$275,300 was left on one officer's desk, with a note--
he suspected from Wilson--that read:
Novak and Mann were reissued their guns,and within days
sent out to get new carpets, a mattress, a comptuer,
and TV's for the colonel, and gold plated toilet fixtures
for their new digs in Fallujah. It look likes,
all was forgotten. The guys in the unit teased
Novak by calling him Clooney, after the actor who played
the ringleader in the THREE KINGS.

But despite the army's desire to have the incident
"go away", the Los Angeles Times
ran a story about it, and that October Novak's
commander at Fort Stewart informed him that he was
being recommended for a less than honorable discahrge.
His crimes, the arnmy said, were to serious to overlook.


Recently, Novak sat on the front porch of hus buddy Leo Lumer's
bed and breakfast in Linden, North Arolina, smoking and thinking
back on it all.

His wife left him a few months after he got home from the war,
took the kids, and told him she did'nt love hims anymore.
Now he is broke, jobless, living with friends,and lost.
A military doctor diagnosed him with depression

"In the middle of combat, there was nothing---nothing---
I could't get my hands on," he said. "If they had told me they
wanted a nuclear warhead, I probaly could have gotten it for them.
I lost myself there with $200 million in that dark room."
posted by infraternam meam @ 11:04 PM   7 comments
Monday, December 13, 2004
MEN....OH MEN....OH MEN...

When Marine Lance Cpl. David Battle learned
he'd either have to sacrifice his ring finger
or the wedding band be wore, he told doctors
at a field hospital in Iraq to cut off the

The 19-year old former high school football
star suffered a mangled left hand and serious
wounds in his legs in a Nov. 13 fire fight in
Fallujah. Doctors were prepairing to cut off
Battle's ring to save as much as his finger,
as they could.

"But that would mean destroying my
wedding ring,"
he said,
"My wife is the strongest woman I know.
She's basically running two people's lives since
I've been gone

With his approval, doctors servered his finger,
but somehow in the chaos that followed, they lost his
ring. His wife, Devon, still said she was honored.
"I can't believe he did that", she said.



ATLANTA --- Police shut down a bar
that was showing a successful musical revue featuring
nudity because the business did'nt have an adult
entertainment license.

The manager of the Armory Bar in Midtown Atlanta,
Doug Youngblood, said police overreacted Saturday night.
He said the show had been running since August and
is theater-- not adult entertainment.

The revue, "Naked Boys Singing,"has
spent six years off Broadway in New York and road show
versions have played in several cities including
Chicago. The gay themed show, billed as celebrating
"the splendors of male nudity in comedy song and dance"
features six male actors who are in the buff for much
of the performance.

Three plainclothes police officers went to the Armory
on Saturday, watched part of the 8 p.m. show,
then shut the place down and issued a citation
to Youngblood.



Would your husband by any other name seem as sexy?
Maybe not, claims a new study.

Amy Perfors, a cognitive scientist at the Massachusettes
Institute of Technology, posted photos of men
labeled with various names on
inviting visitors to rate how attractive each was.
When the men had names that had stressed
"front vowels"---vowels pronounced with the
tongue in the front of the mouth, like those of Dave,
Craig and Ben-- they were rated more desirable.
When the same photos had names with stressed "back vowels"
---- vowels in which the tongue is farther back, as in
Tom, Paul and Charles-- they were rated less attractive.

Linguists say that the sexy front vowels are perceived as
"smaller"while back vowels seem "larger"
So why aren't women attracted to men with back vowel names,
the "bigger"men? Perfors suspects her results bolster
other studies indicating women don't really prefer
"the super,hyper masculine, macho guys. Women wants guys
who can be sensitive and gentle

Below, a brief guide to who's hot-- and who's not.

Andy, Brad, Chris, Eric, Frank,Henry, Jack, Jim,
Matt, Pete, Rick, Steve, Ted.

Donald, George, John, Norman, Oliver, Oscar, Ron,
Scott, Todd

(abstracted from LADIESHOMEJOURNAL)
posted by infraternam meam @ 10:27 PM   0 comments
About Me

Name: infraternam meam
Home: Chicago, United States
About Me: I am now at the prime of my life and have been married for the past 25 years. Sickly at times, but wants to see the elixir vita, so that I will be able to see my grandchildren from my two boys.
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