Benjamin Button | ★★★★★★★★★

Ann and I spent close to three hours last night watching the DVD version of this very unique and interesting story about a man who was born old and spends the rest of his life growing young. Here are just a few thoughts about the movie:
  • It reminded me of Forrest Gump.. the main character seemed to exude the simplicity and authenticity that we loved about Forrest. Like Gump the movie took us on a journey of history through the eyes and life experiences of it's main character.
  • I loved the period settings of the movie.. the furniture.. the old cars.. the costumes were really great and nostalgia inducing.
  • Benjamin's adopted mother was a very endearing character as were many others in the large old folks home where they lived. They reminded me of a time when life seemed slower and simpler.
I recommend this movie. On a scale of 10 I give this movie ★★★★★★★★★

Is Organic Food Healthier?

This Reuters article, titled Organic food is no healthier, study finds, reports that researchers are saying that organic food has no nutritional or health benefits over ordinary food. Here are a few excerpts from the article.
Researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine said consumers were paying higher prices for organic food because of its perceived health benefits, creating a global organic market worth an estimated $48 billion in 2007.

A systematic review of 162 scientific papers published in the scientific literature over the last 50 years, however, found there was no significant difference.
"Our review indicates that there is currently no evidence to support the selection of organically over conventionally produced foods on the basis of nutritional superiority."

The results of research, which was commissioned by the British government's Food Standards Agency, were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
I have never really embraced the whole organic food movement.. yet I do wonder if foods grown without pesticides and milk produced from hormone free cows might be better for us.. but I have to say that I am fairly ignorant about organic foods.

What do you think about the report? Are you a Whole Foods shopper?

Fox News Poll: Are They Kidding?

Recently Fox News, that bastion of all things conservative, published their findings to this poll question:

What do you think is the best job for Sarah Palin now that she has resigned as governor of Alaska?
  1. President of the United States
  2. Vice-President of the United States
  3. Television Talk Show Host
  4. College Professor
  5. Homemaker
  6. Other
Here are the results from the poll in descending order:
  • 32% - Homemaker
  • 17% - Talk Show Host
  • 14% - Vice-President of the United States
  • 13% - Other
  • 10% - College Professor
  • 6% - President of the United States
I am not sure who was polled but I found the choices to be absolutely horrible.. Fox News needs to fire their poll writers. "Homemaker"? Are they serious? What stupid choices! Where is "Corporate Executive", or "Senator" or Congresswoman" or any other position? Really.. would Fox News include "Homemaker" if Palin was a man? Give me a break!

Now.. for those of you who say that being a "Homemaker" is a greater position than all of those other ones mentioned: I think that you have missed the point. Sarah Palin is already a "Homemaker".. just a different flavor than the one you might be thinking about. And from what I can tell she is a great "Homemaker".

Obama does not want to hear this :)

A bit of fun from the folks at Politico in a Roger Simons column titled: 21 things you can't say to President Barack Obama. Here are a few things from the list of things not to say to the prez after a televised press conference:
  1. Hey, we hear the Golf Channel is going to carry it next time. Well, actually, only the Golf Channel is going to carry it next time
  2. Professor Gates called. He can’t find his house keys.
  3. You want a cigarette?
  4. Biden called.
  5. The reason we can’t put the questions on the teleprompter is because we aren’t supposed to know the questions in advance.
  6. Hillary called.
  7. If nobody blogs about it, we think you’ll be OK.
Check out the rest of the list here and let me know if you particularly like one of them. They are pretty funny.

El Rushbo on Exercise Freaks

My cyberfriend Joe recently commented about El Rushbo's diatribe on healthcare where he blamed "exercise freaks" for "putting stress on the health care system". Here is an excerpt from Limbaugh's June 11th broadcast:
"In socialized medicine, government health care -- you heard him say, the overweight are to blame. Yeah, folks, I gotta tell you something.

I think those of you that regularly exercise -- playing softball, baseball, basketball, soccer, mountain biking, running, rock climbing, skiing, skating, running -- you're the people getting injured. You're the people showing up at the hospital with busted knees and tendons and skin cancer, ankle sprains, knee and hip replacements, broken bones, concussions, muscle, ligament, tendon, cartilage strains and tears, tendinitis, rotator cuff tears. All you exercise freaks, you're the ones putting stress on the health care system. What happens when people don't regularly exercise and keep their weight relatively under control? Nothing! They probably don't even know their doctors' names. So you're urging to go out there do all of this stuff and you're ending up in the hospital all the time with these injuries and some people think these injuries are badges of honor. A knee surgery scars a badge of honor shows toughness. Yeah. Toughness, somebody else has to pay for."
Not sure if I really need to say anything else.. El Rushbo's words speak for themselves.
I think maybe he needs to have a session with Mike Huckabee.. Mike might be able to help him see the merits of regular exercise and weight control.. not that I am saying that El Rushbo needs to exercise :)

The Air is not Free

Anybody remember the days when compressed air at a gas station was free? Any more you have to pop a few quarters into the compressor to fill your tires. I carry a portable car battery powered compressor around with me for just such occasions.

How about you? Do you regularly check your tires? Where do you fill them up?

Gran Torino | ★★★★★★★★

7/25/09: I finally got around to watching this one on DVD with my friends Scott and Dan. I thought that the message of the movie surpassed the man. Eastwood plays a strongly written wounded man who: has just lost his wife; is alienated from his sons and their families; and is at odds with his priest, neighbors and just about everyone else. His journey is such a sweet, albeit cantankerous, one as he walks through grief and begins to live again with the help of his neighbors. On a scale of 10 I give this movie ★★★★★★★★

1/10/09: I am definitely a Clint Eastwood fan and, generally speaking, like his work.. of course I have avoided some of it (like Mystic River) because of content. So I was interested in this Christianity Today review of his latest movie. Here are a few excerpts from it.
Gran Torino is a Clint Eastwood film in the strictest sense. Unlike his less successful (but no slouch) 2008 effort, Changeling, this is a film that feels utterly personal—a movie that might actually be as much about Clint Eastwood the man/myth/icon as it is about the fictional story he is telling. And if it is indeed his last acting performance on film, it is quite the note to go out on. Eastwood's performance is a blood-spitting, mournful tour-de-force. In the wrinkles, the stilted gait, the dubious eyes of Eastwood, there is so much life lived, so much baggage and regret. As in so many of his movies (especially recently), Eastwood plays a man at odds with himself, his own failures, weighed down by his belligerent refusal to be forgiven his sins.
Gran Torino is not a perfect film, and sometimes feels a tad overwritten and wordy (freshman screenwriter Nick Schenk's extreme, racially-charged language occasionally borders on parody), but it is a film that fits our current cultural milieu like a glove. I'd hesitate to say that the film is a metaphor for the death of the American auto industry, but it's certainly a metaphor for a changed America.
Gran Torino is about pressing on, living life with resolve, and making sure there is some continuity. As Walt discovers, we can lament change all we want, but ultimately what's gone is gone. What's important is what we leave behind—our successes, failures, and '72 Detroit-made muscle cars.
Not sure if I will catch it before it hits video.. I probably won't.. but it looks like an okay flick if you are looking for something serious and don't mind the darkness and language.

Mixed Bag Medicine

Just a week ago I posted about why I think American healthcare will stay broken. The more I dialog with others about reforming healthcare in America the more I think that the issue is one complicated mixed bag of problems, solutions and opinions. Here are a few thoughts from my cyberfriends:
  • "Yep, and those of us with chronic conditions and who are older will be tossed away."
  • "Having a government-run ALTERNATIVE and allowing to keep their plan, if they are happy with it sounds like a good compromise between a free market system and a nationally sponsored system to me."
  • "Also, tort reform needs to be addressed as well. The cost of the liability insurance that hospitals and doctors have to pay is ridiculous."
  • "I do personally know (well through the Internet) friends in Ireland and Canada and both say they are happy with their medical coverage. And, Bob, one of the guys is in his 60s, the other in his 50s."
  • "My friend in Ireland is in his 60s and was diagnosed with leukemia a couple of years ago. He has been quite happy with his coverage."
  • "The United States is the only wealthy, industrialized nation that does not have a universal healthcare system. 47 million Americans are uninsured and medical expense is the primary cause of personal bankruptcy."
  • "France was good to me with routine care and even Morocco was great for prescriptions, routine care. Not so great with major med."
  • "My aunt lives in Italy (has for 35 years) and they've had births and major medical care. been great, according to her."
  • "The result of all of this is that not only are insured-taxpayers paying through the nose for social security for the uninsured, we also are paying for the uninsured through our insurance."
I wonder if healthcare experiences in other countries is similar to the ones here.. sometimes people have good experiences and sometimes they do not.. I know my experiences have been a mixed bag.

The four years before my first wife died she had about 40 docs that attended to her (and billed me).. some of the docs/surgeons were excellent but some were awful.. I had to confront many of them.. I told one surgeon I would not pay him unless he actually spoke to me in person.. he wrote off the surgery.

I wonder if we generalize too much about the quality of the healthcare in other countries? Maybe it is just too complex to generalize?

What do you think? Have you have any bad experiences with government run Medicare or Medicaid? Ever had a procedure denied by them? Do you think that an Insurance Company would have treated you better than those organizations?

On Getting Older

I am dedicating this funny story by teacher David McClure (contributed to the Dallas News Community Opinion page) to my wife Ann who is one year older today.

$5.37. That's what the kid behind the counter at Taco Bueno said to me. I dug into my pocket and pulled out some lint and two dimes and something that used to be a Jolly Rancher. Having already handed the kid a five-spot, I started to head back out to the truck to grab some change when the kid with the Emo hairdo said the harshest thing anyone has ever said to me. He said, "It's OK. I'll just give you the senior citizen discount."

I turned to see who he was talking to and then heard the sound of change hitting the counter in front of me. "Only $4.68" he said cheerfully. I stood there stupefied. I am 48, not even 50 yet - a mere child! Senior citizen?

I took my burrito and walked out to the truck wondering what was wrong with Emo. Was he blind? As I sat in the truck, my blood began to boil. Old? Me?

I'll show him, I thought. I opened the door and headed back inside. I strode to the counter, and there he was waiting with a smile.

Before I could say a word, he held up something and jingled it in front of me, like I could be that easily distracted! What am I now? A toddler?

"Dude! Can't get too far without your car keys, eh?" I stared with utter disdain at the keys. I began to rationalize in my mind. "Leaving keys behind hardly makes a man elderly! It could happen to anyone!"

I turned and headed back to the truck. I slipped the key into the ignition, but it wouldn't turn. What now? I checked my keys and tried another. Still nothing. That's when I noticed the purple beads hanging from my rearview mirror. I had no purple beads hanging from my rearview mirror.

Then, a few other objects came into focus. The car seat in the back seat. Happy Meal toys spread all over the floorboard. A partially eaten doughnut on the dashboard.

Faster than you can say ginkgo biloba, I flew out of the alien vehicle. Moments later I was speeding out of the parking lot, relieved to finally be leaving this nightmarish stop in my life. That is when I felt it, deep in the bowels of my stomach: hunger! My stomach growled and churned, and I reached to grab my burrito, only it was nowhere to be found.

I swung the truck around, gathered my courage, and strode back into the restaurant one final time. There Emo stood, draped in youth and black nail polish. All I could think was, "What is the world coming to?" All I could say was, "Did I leave my food and drink in here?" At this point I was ready to ask a Boy Scout to help me back to my vehicle, and then go straight home and apply for Social Security benefits.

Emo had no clue. I walked back out to the truck, and suddenly a young lad came up and tugged on my jeans to get my attention. He was holding up a drink and a bag. His mother explained, "I think you left this in my truck by mistake." I took the food and drink from the little boy and sheepishly apologized.

She offered these kind words: "It's OK. My grandfather does stuff like this all the time."

All of this is to explain how I got a ticket doing 85 in a 40. Yes, I was racing some punk kid in a Toyota Prius. And no, I told the officer, I'm not too old to be driving this fast.

As I walked in the front door, my wife met me halfway down the hall. I handed her a bag of cold food and a $300 speeding ticket. I promptly sat in my rocking chair and covered up my legs with a blanky.

The good news was I had successfully found my way home.

Unwanted Email Messages

Most of us hate to get annoying email messages.. some are forwarded ones from friends but many are ones that get by ISP server filters and get to our inboxes.. the ones that get through are called spam.

An article titled Report: Americans dumber than a box of rocks about spam reports:
When it comes to spam, we Americans are quick to point our fingers at Russia, China and eastern Europe as the regions responsible for the bulk of it. But a new report issued today found that Americans are largely to blame - not because we create it, but because we’re too stupid to recognize that we’re spreading it.
The report noted that, during the second quarter of 2009, Americans relayed more spam than any other country.
The spam problem isn’t going away - but we can make a difference if we just use some common sense. I don’t like the idea of the rest of the world mocking the U.S. either, but it looks like we had this one coming.
My strategy for dealing with unwanted emails is twofold. Firstly I use Gmail that, unlike my Ymail account, actually does some spam filtering on their server. My second line of defense is Outlook.. a dozen or so messages a day go directly to my junk folder. And I don't forward viral email messages.. but I do check most of them out with a truth-checker. So I guess spam is not too much of an issue for me.

Do you ever forward viral email messages? Do you have a spam filter? What is your strategy for dealing with unwanted email messages?

The Paradoxical Commandments

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down
by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© 1968, 2001 Kent M. Keith

NASA: No Tang, Microwaves or Velcro

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the moon landing here is a list of NASA inventions from an article titled 10 NASA Inventions You Might Use Every Day:
  1. Invisible Braces
  2. Scratch-resistant Lenses
  3. Memory Foam
  4. Ear Thermometer
  5. Shoe Insoles
  6. Long-distance Telecommunications
  7. Adjustable Smoke Detector
  8. Safety Grooving
  9. Cordless Tools
  10. Water Filters
Microwave ovens and Velcro are often colloquially held to be NASA inventions. Microwave ovens were conceived during radar experiments at the Raytheon Corporation, and Velcro was a collaboration between a Swiss mountaineer and a French weaver. Both predated NASA's inception by more than a decade. And while you may often hear that NASA invented Tang as a space drink, General Mills actually made it for the first time in 1957.

Remembering Space

For me the early 1960s was all about space. I started following the Cape Canaveral launches in 1961 when Alan Shepherd became the first American in space. I remember doing a scrapbook of John Glenn's amazing orbit of the earth in 1962 when I was in Junior High School. As the decade (and I) aged my love for space changed and by the time this date in 1969 came I was not really interested in space too much. I remember catching the moon landing on a USO TV in El Paso, Texas but don't remember being all that wowed. I guess Army life and soldiering had changed my perspective a bit. Kind of a sad way to remember such a great day for America.

Were you alive in 1969 and aware of the moon landing? If so, what were you doing when man landed on the moon? Were you huddled around a TV with family or were you, like me, watching the event with strangers?

Cup of Java Kindness

Here is a great human interest story from a suburb of Kansas City:

At 8:05 a.m. on July 6, a 32-year-old mother of two pulled up to the Steamin’ Bean drive-through window and did something nice for someone else.

She paid $3.50 for the 16-ounce latte ordered by the customer in the car behind her.

When that stranger learned about the act of kindness, she did the same thing for the next customer.

And so it has gone for 12 days now at the Blue Springs coffee shop.

As of Friday, more than 1,450 customers have essentially said: Thanks for the free cup of joe, but I’d like to pay for it and give a free cup to the next guy.

“It’s taken on a life of its own,” said Garin Bledsoe, who owns Steamin’ Bean at 1875 N.W. Missouri 7 with his wife, Anne, and partner Lenny Blue. “We tell people that their cup of coffee has been paid for and they go, ‘What? Really? Wow.’ ”

And then they pass the kindness on.

“I just didn’t do it for the attention,” the Grain Valley woman who started it all said. “Actually, I did it because I knew I was going to have a busy week at work and I thought that, ‘Well, you never know what their day will be like.’ ”

The woman, who does not want to be identified, gives through her church and her favorite charities. And she likes to assist in small ways, like helping someone carry grocery bags.

“It’s nothing I would think about being a big deal,” she said of paying the tab for a stranger.

But it has become exactly that.

“That first day, well, we got to 12, and then it got to 20, and by the time I left we were at 20 to 30 deep,” Bledsoe said. “It took off quick.”

Customers have even donated more than $600 extra, just to make sure the chain keeps going.

Since only a couple of customers have taken free coffee, there are more than enough donations. Bledsoe has given $200 to nearby restaurants in hopes of starting chains there.

And Thursday night, he took some money to a nearby Price Chopper. He gave $10 to a grateful woman buying school supplies for her son. He tried to help a man pay for groceries.

“He didn’t want it and then asked if he could give me $10 — and he did,” said Bledsoe.

Perhaps, Bledsoe said, people want to feel good during the recession.

Kyle Christian, who came into the shop Friday for some hot white chocolate, said he isn’t surprised by people’s generosity. He saw firsthand the bigness of people’s hearts when collecting food donations last spring in Columbia.

The 19-year-old incoming sophomore at Columbia College was helping to supply food to school-age children who were on spring break and normally would have taken part in school free-lunch programs.

“We collected more food than we needed,” Christian said. “It was amazing.

“It’s like if you can help someone, it goes on and on. It has a snowball effect. You think … ‘How can I make a person’s day?’ ”

Jennifer Kincaid, who lives in Lake Tapawingo, said it has been interesting to watch the effort grow each time she has stopped by the shop.

“I’m sure that lady is surprised to see how far it has gone,” Kincaid said.

She is.

“I heard about it the next day and I was crying,” the Grain Valley woman said.

She is quick to deflect any recognition.

“I just paid $3 for a cup of coffee,” she said. “It has been everyone else.”

Corporate Imagery

It is hard to believe but it is true.. this one has a Wikipedia entry that says:

A corporate image refers to how a corporation is perceived. It is a generally accepted image of what a company "stands for". The creation of a corporate image is an exercise in perception management. It is created primarily by marketing experts who use public relations and other forms of promotion to suggest a mental picture to the public. Typically, a corporate image is designed to be appealing to the public, so that the company can spark an interest among consumers, create share of mind, generate brand equity, and thus facilitate product sales.
LOL.. did anyone see product quality in that description? Did you laugh with me when you read "perception management" and "a mental picture to the public"? Small wonder that cartoonists like Scott Adams make so much money Dilberting these folks.

Why US Healthcare Will Stay Broken

In a feature for ZDNet titled Top 5 reasons healthcare in America is broken Alex Rivlin, CEO of InsureMonkey, briefly spells out the hard truth about US healthcare. Here are a few excerpts from his top 5 reasons:
  • Doctors are rewarded for prescribing drugs. Big pharmaceutical companies are known to hand out “consulting agreements” worth more than your annual salary to doctors who prescribe their drugs like candy. ... This is one of the worst practices I can think of that drives a stake right through the heart of healthcare’s credibility.
  • Big Healthcare, i.e. pharmaceutical companies, hospital networks, insurers and their support industries, spend hundreds of millions each year lobbying Congress to make sure there are not major changes to the business structure we call healthcare.
  • Tens of millions of healthy people choose not to pay for health insurance, putting the financial solvency of the system at risk. This leaves those that do pay into the insurance system paying more.
  • We are killing ourselves. Our choices bring on diabetes, heart-attack-inducing high blood pressure and cholesterol, obesity, chronic illness, and the like. We eat crap. We supersize it.
  • The current system is set up to reward sickness. Doctors get paid when you see them. And you only see them when something’s wrong, right? ... Everything revolves around us being sick.
I suggest that you read the rest of his article here. As I ponder this weighty issue I am more and more convinced that our government will not address the real problems with US healthcare. Too many hands are in the pot.. the special interests of drug companies are just too powerful..and there is not a desire in our country to get and stay healthy.

Walter Cronkite, 1916-2009

Walter Cronkite, the CBS News anchor who famously became the most trusted man in America, died Friday at the age of 92.

I grew up listening to him and really don't remember other TV anchors of that era. It was an era when folks like Walter were reporters that seemed to project a journalistic integrity that we often miss these days.

May God comfort his family and friends.

Social Security Weasels

This in from a San Diego County Political Buzz Examiner piece titled
Federal government employees soak the taxpayer on a spa retreat for $700,000:
Security Administration federal employees dance the taxpayers’ money away to the tune of $700,000.

The 700 Federal government employees were flown in from all over the country to stay at the 4-star Waldorf Astoria Spa Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona. The “stress relief” getaway was meant to sooth government employees psyches and was also attended by the Commissioner of the Social Security.

Many taxpayers feel the Social Security employees could have had these meetings at their offices and teleconferenced.

At a time of severe recession, when families are losing their homes and jobs, is this the change we can believe in?

The Social Security Administration claims they chose the cheapest contract. I doubt you’ll find a taxpayer who thinks a bankrupt federal agency should be taking $700,000 vacations on their dime.
Anybody out there feel that employees of the Social Security Administration should be having meetings like this one? These folks need to apologize to GM, AGI (the other swanky junket guys) and all of those other bailed out corporations.

I am tossing this one in my Weasels file.

Petitioning Your Thoughts

Just saw a link to this site that says that we should petition the US Senate to confirm Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. Here is what the petition says:
Americans deserve a Supreme Court justice like Sonia Sotomayor -- an eminently qualified jurist who has demonstrated an abiding commitment to our core constitutional values. Please use your important advise and consent role to do the right thing and swiftly confirm Judge Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.
Of course they ask you to "sign" this "petition" and requiring personal information like your home and email address. Does this smell like a scam to get your personal information? I mean really.. why would the senate need your email address? Lets hope that people think about the words "identity theft" before they enter their vital statistics.

What do you think about petition schemes like this one? Have you ever given this kind of information in support of a cause? Ever had your identity stolen?

Proverbial Ponderings

I have been navigating through the book of Proverbs over at my faith blog (click here to view) and thought I'd ask you to check it out and join me in reading through this very wise book.

The Seduction of Celebrity

My cyberfriend Shane and I had another discussion on Facebook about the recent news about a popular political US leader and it got me to thinking about the word celebrity. Here is the word according to Webster:
  1. the state of being celebrated : fame
  2. a famous or celebrated person
I have written about religious leaders and their need to be noticed here but I had not really thought much about the desire of other professional people to become leaders for the same reasons. In that post I said: "There is something about public speaking that is seducing." I think that the same is true of celebrity.
Here is an excerpt from something I wrote titled Invisble Ministry:

"The desire to be visible is a dark side of the ministry ... wanting to be seen and appreciated by people is a dark force that permeates much of American church leadership. Many large ministries and churches, as well as small ones, are led by men which have surrendered to the dark side of visible ministry."
I think that some leaders in both the corporate and political arenas deal with similar forces. The seduction of being famous must be an overwhelming one at times.. and I imagine.. once you are famous.. the need to keep your celebrity must be addicting.

The problem with these kinds of leaders is that they attract so much attention to themselves and away from the very issues and constituencies that they purport to stand for. Their need to be noticed seems to detract from their need to be productive. The talk becomes more about their celebrity than their effectiveness.

Kansas City Gas: $2.25/gallon

07/13/09 Update: Filled up over the weekend at $2.22/gallon.

11/12/08 Update: $1.63/gallon in KC.. $1.79 close to me.. half of what it was in May

10/28/08 Update: Gas dipped under $2/gallon this week.. still scratching my head.

5/11/08 Update: Gas today was $3.57 - cost $64 to fill-up bigfoot.

4/23/08: The price board of a Chevron gas station is shown in San Francisco on Monday. Rising gasoline prices tightened the squeeze on drivers jumping to an average $3.50 a gallon at stations across the country. It is $3.41 in KC.

How much is a gallon of gas in your neck of the woods?

Mind-Reading Wheelchair

According to this CNet post titled Toyota thinks up mind-reading wheelchair:
Toyota has developed the wheelchair in collaboration with researchers in Japan. The system analyzes brain wave data using signal-processing technology and delivers neuro-feedback to the driver.

Brain wave-detecting technology, or electroencephalography (EEG), isn't new. In layman's terms, a device, usually a cap wired with sensors, detects a person's brain waves. That information is analyzed by a computer and applied to the device in question. Scientists have pursued the technology for decades, but have had difficulty achieving short response times, explains the Associated Press.

Toyota's mind-controlled wheelchair, however, has what appears to be the quickest response time yet: 125 milliseconds, or 125 thousandths of a second. The user can almost instantly steer right, left, and forward. To stop, the person in the chair must puff up a cheek, a motion that's then detected by the headpiece.
This stuff amazes me! I am glad that this kind of effort is being spent to help disabled people. Gotta wonder where this type of technology will take us. Maybe one day Toyota will develop a mind-reading Camry.. now that is scary :)


According to their website (
JOCKIPEDIA is where you can find an athlete's REAL Twitter Feeds, THEIR own Personal Blogs (as opposed to blogs about them), THEIR real Facebook and MySpace pages (as opposed to fan pages) and THEIR own Websites (as opposed to fan sites). It's also where you'll find links to their Video Channels (like their YouTube or Motionbox Channels), and their Photo Galleries (like Flickr and Shutterfly).

JOCKIPEDIA is a community reference site — just like Wikipedia — where everyone who registers can Create Athlete Pages (including their own) and Add Links to any athlete's Twitter Feeds, Blogs, Sites, Pages and any other first-person publications.
Does anybody want this? Anybody think it will take off?

The Albert Quote Quiz

I have been a quote collector for about 15 years. Albert Schweitzer and Albert Einstein have said some of the most insightful and sometimes funny things. Can you identify who said what? Okay to check the wikis first :)

"The release of atomic energy has not created a new problem. It has merely made more urgent the necessity of solving an existing one."

"A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new."

"Example is leadership."

"Imagination is more important than knowledge"

"Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory."

"Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing."

"The tragedy of life is what dies inside a man while he lives."

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."

"My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind."

"I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve."

Can you tell which Albert said what? Take a guess and let me know how you did. The answers are in the comments.. but don't peek before you guess :)

Web Site Story

For all you Broadway musical enthusiasts.. complements of Robin.


My Facebook friend Mike posted a link to a Snopes article titled: Senior Death Warrants that responds to a viral email message that uses actress Natasha Richardson's death to proclaim that she would still be alive if her accident happened in the United States instead of Canada. Snopes speaks to the inaccuracy of that email message concluding that it contained inaccuracies and speculation. That viral email goes on to denounce President Obama's healthcare proposals saying that senior citizens would suffer under it. Here are a few of the Snopes responses to the email:
  • Obama wants to have our healthcare like Canada's and England's.

    Although the health care initiative proposed by President Obama (commonly dubbed "ObamaCare") is often characterized as the adoption of a medical system identical to that used in Canada and/or the UK, that characterization is not accurate. The President's plan calls for providing Americans with the option of government health insurance (which will compete with private insurance plans), not for replacing the entire U.S. medical system with a single-payer, government-funded system. (Critics maintain, though, that a public insurance plan would inevitably drive private insurers out of business, thereby setting the U.S. on the road to government-run health care.)
  • In England anyone over 59 cannot receive heart repairs or stents or bypass because it is not covered as being too expensive and not needed.
  • We could find no documentation supporting the claim that Britain's National Health Service (NHS) absolutely denies all coverage of "heart repairs or stents or bypass" to patients over the age of 59. The NHS did not point us to any such policy in response to our inquiry, and many readers from the UK have told us that they (or someone they personally knew) have had such procedures performed on them despite their being older than 59.
  • If this does not sufficiently raise your ire, just remember that Senators and Congressmen have their own healthcare plan that is first dollar or very low co-pay
  • As federal employees, members of Congress are eligible for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), which is not a single health care plan but rather a collection of many different private health insurance plans from which enrollees can choose. In general, the FEHBP offerings are similar to Medicare (with prescription drug coverage), although even supporters of a national health program have criticized the FEHBP for having the "same problems of private plans generally: administrative waste, restrictions on health care providers, inequities, and inadequate cost control."

I am pretty concerned about the federal government expanding it's control in this area. What the government does is usually bureaucratic and pretty wasteful. That said I do think that reform in healthcare is needed. Many people who really need healthcare either cannot afford it or are denied coverage because of preexisting conditions.. and, as I posted about earlier this year, many people are forced to declare bankruptcy because of medical bills.

I think that the issue needs to be addressed. I wish that the AMA or some other private group would take it on but I don't think that they will. I think that we will be left with whatever congress gives us. Of course.. in ten years most of America will be on Medicare as us baby boomers sail into our senior years :)

Coen Brother Flicks

From the wiki.. Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, known together professionally as the Coen brothers, are American filmmakers. The brothers write, direct and produce their films jointly, although until recently Joel received sole credit for directing and Ethan for producing. They often alternate top billing for their screenplays while sharing film credits for editor under the alias Roderick Jaynes. They are known in the film business as "the two-headed director", as they share a similar vision of their films.

I was introduced to the Coen Brother's quirky movie magic in 2000 when a good friend recommended that I catch O Brother, Where Art Thou? while it was still at the theater. Ann and I loved the movie and immediately bought the soundtrack. Since then my Coen Brother movie experiences have been a mixed bag. I recently enjoyed No Country for Old Men but didn't like Burn After Reading that much. I also liked other Coen Brother films like Fargo (which I caught on TV) and Intolerable Cruelty.. but did not enjoy The Big Lebowski, The Hudsucker Proxy or The Ladykillers all that much.

What do you think about Coen Brother flicks? Thumbs up or thumbs down?

On My Own Terms

I have not posted anything here about Governor Sarah Palin's announcement that she will be resigning in a few weeks. I liked what Joe Scarborough wrote in his piece titled: "Sarah's Resignation Brings Back Memories". Joe spoke of his own decision to leave congress during his fourth term to be with his hurting sons.. it was a nice glimpse into the tensions that many of our governmental leaders experience.

The cartoon's phrase "on my own terms" caught my eye.. I think is a good characterization of both Palin's and Scarborough's resignation. I personally like the idea of taking care of yourself and your family. I think that it is okay to quit a "job".. yes it is a "job".. "on my own terms". About this time last year I retired from pastoral ministry for personal reasons.. I left the church staff "on my own terms".. and was glad that I did even though it was a difficult decision.

I guess there will be pundits on both side of the aisle on Palin's resignation.. some will be for it (her) and some against it (her). I am glad that she is leaving "on her own terms".. she knows what is best for her. Now whether it is best for Alaska.. who can say.. the church survived without me.. I am sure that Alaska will be okay without her.

Movie Monsters

Seeing this DVD cover brings back so many memories. Let me take you back to the summer of 1963.. I was a counselor at a YMCA day camp.. many of the 12 year old boys that I "counseled" were taller and bigger than me.. I was pretty thin back then. Most of my responsibilities revolved around organizing activities, games and sports to engage the boys. It was a fun summer job.. didn't make much money but I did have fun and worked at two different camps that summer.

One rainy day our camp leader (he was a teacher the rest of the year) got cheap tickets to the local movie theater where we saw "King Kong vs Godzilla". All I can really remember from that day was how we howled with laughter as Godzilla kicked Kong over and Kong got up beating his chest.. it was so much fun!

I grew up on movie monsters. I loved "Might Joe Young" the most.. that story was so heartwarming. Joe, King Kong, Godzilla and Rodan were so much a part of my childhood movie watching. Later on the term "movie monster" would take on a whole new meaning with the advent of monsters like Jaws and that one in Alien (that I have never seen). Horror flicks introduced us to the likes of Freddie Krueger and Jason (have not seen those either) and in "Jurassic Park" we became acquainted with Raptors.. nasty beings that they were.

I watched the latest Peter Jackson movie version of "King Kong" a few years ago and was really surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Also watched the newest release of Godzilla a number of years ago.. it was okay but not that great. Still.. I don't think there will ever be another time like those when I was young.. when Joe, King Kong, Godzilla and Rodan were larger than life.. scary and exciting.. and so much fun to watch.

What was your favorite movie monster.. and what was your first monster movie?

Funny J.D. Salinger

The wiki tells us that Jerome David "J. D." Salinger (born on January 1, 1919) is an American author, best known for his 1951 novel The Catcher in the Rye, as well as his reclusive nature. He has not published an original work since 1965 and has not been interviewed since 1980. Here are a few funny things that are attributed to him:

All morons hate it when you call them a moron.

I'm quite illiterate, but I read a lot.

Mothers are all slightly insane.

I don't exactly know what I mean by that, but I mean it.

How long should a man's legs be? Long enough to touch the ground.

I am a kind of paranoid in reverse. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy.

They didn't act like people and they didn't act like actors. It's hard to explain. They acted more like they knew they were celebrities and all. I mean they were good, but they were too good.

Walk With Me

I lifted this beautiful post from the lingamish blog. The words below are read by my cyber friend Dana to the background music “Walk With Me, Lord” by Danny Denson and Michael Card.. click on the arrow to hear it.

I dedicate this post to my beautiful wife Ann and to many who, like Ann and Jill Hollis, persevere with much grace and courage through extended periods of hardship.. and show us what courage under fire really looks like.

Sometimes I feel like a motherless child.

I’m a long long way from home.
The folks in church are singing love songs.

But I feel like singing the blues.

A good twelve-bar blues

With a harmonica moanin’ low and sad.
Because you’re gone.

You’re gone and I’m still here waiting.

Everyone tells me you’re never coming back.

But I keep looking out the window.
Why did you have to go?

It would be one thing if you’d just up and left.

But your spirit bangs around in my head and my heart.

Leaves me feelin’ like a kook with tinfoil in his hat.
True believer. Yep, that’s me.

Staring into space. Talking to the walls.

Because I’m a true believer and I know you’re coming back.

I hope you’re coming back.
But sometimes I feel like a motherless child.

Sweet Jesus, Savior of my soul, take my body as well.

I’m looking out the window and waiting for you to come back.

I’m a long long way from home.
I pray that many of you will take this to heart and walk with someone who is experiencing pain and trial. People going through difficult experiences really need us.

Wimbledon Marathon

I spent the morning mesmerized by a great Wimbledon men's final that lasted over four hours. Switzerland's Roger Federer barely bested American Andy Roddick with the final set going 30 games before Roger bested Andy 16 games to 14.. that last set took more time than the whole Women's championship match on Saturday. Congrats to both guys for a great and entertaining match.. and kudos to Federer for breaking Pete Sampras' grand slam record by winning his 15th grand slam title.

Religion Thriller

In a blog post titled Religion thriller: Michael Jackson & faith Boston Globe reporter Michael Paulson talks about religious influences on Michael Jackson. Here are a few excerpts from his column:
  • Jackson was raised a Jehovah's Witness, and there have been a variety of unconfirmed reports that at some point he was disfellowshipped by the Witnesses.
  • Jackson's brother Jermaine is a Muslim, and there were some reports during Michael's life that he, too, converted to Islam.
  • Not to be outdone, Christianity Today tackles the question, "Was Michael Jackson a Christian?" The evangelical magazine explores, and then essentially debunks, suggestions that Jackson accepted Jesus just before his death. "Initial rumors that the King of Pop had accepted Christ may have been false,'' the magazine concludes.
  • The Jewish Telegraphic Agency, meanwhile, offers a story on Michael Jackson's "Jewish Ties,'' which turn out to be quite complex..
  • L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, published a generous appreciation of Jackson's legacy, prompting Tom Heneghan of Reuters to observe: "It’s not every day that the Vatican newspaper suggests that a man accused of pedophilia and said to have converted to Islam might be immortal.
For more about this I suggest reading the whole article here.. the comments there are worth the read.

Like Paulson I have not wrote about Michael Jackson before this.. I am honestly tired of all of the unending "news" coverage. Yet I did find this topic a bit interesting. I wonder how many people you know that have had this kind of exposure to different religions? It had to be confusing to Jackson.

Confusion seems to be an accurate word.. Jackson sure seemed to be a confused soul. Reading about his religious past gives me a different perspective about him. I wonder what it was about him that was attracted to different religions?

The very rigid black and white world of fundamentalism was oddly attractive to me for so long.. of course I considered myself to be free for many years even while I was in bondage. Religion and religious activities are so alluring because they give you the illusion of being spiritual. Maybe.. like me.. that was the appeal for Michal Jackson?

The Nervous Nellie

I don't think they are talking about mattresses :)

Funny Quotes

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the the universe. - Albert Einstein

Son, if you really want something in this life, you have to work for it. Now quiet! They're about to announce the lottery numbers. - Homer Simpson

Man invented language to satisfy his deep need to complain. - Lily Tomlin

My advice to you is get married: if you find a good wife you'll be happy; if not, you'll become a philosopher. - Socrates

Giving up smoking is easy...I've done it hundreds of times. - Mark Twain

In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is. - Yogi Berra

Only a mediocre person is always at his best. - W. Somerset Maugham

I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals. - Winston Churchill

I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury. - Groucho Marx

How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg?
Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg! - Abraham Lincoln

Television is to news what bumper stickers are to philosophy. - Richard Nixon