Thursday, July 23, 2009

News Nits

"All the news that's fit to reprint."

It's been awhile for news nits. And we apologize to our reader. Fact is, it looks like 95% of blogs have been abandoned by their owners. Is there a blog pound? Will blogs get put to sleep? Will large companies or Jesuit schools declare eminant domain over, uh, your old domains? We will blog about ongoing developments, irony noted.

Cool picture above is of a new cloud type that has been turning up around the world more frequently since 2005. These new clouds are being called "asperatus" which is going to totally make the weather channel more fun to watch.

A lot of people have died as well. In a short amount of time, Ed McMahon, Farrah Faucett, Michael Jackson, and Billy Mays all died. Only Ed McMahon was old. Farrah meant more to a previous generation, when she was super hot. Out of all these people, I felt the most sorry for Billy Mays, dead at 50. Billy Mays was the fringe product schill who turned OxiClean into a household name with a legitimate national market share. Quite a story, and through the loud pitch and funny gimmicks, you got a sense that he was a real guy just trying to make it -- refreshing honestly somehow poking through a thin but entertaining shtick. MJ was very controversial and had long ago become more myth than man, if he was ever much of a man to begin with. Anyway, behind the media images and hype of these real people, may they each rest in peace.

Fast forward nits: A 14 year old boy in Germany was walking to school and got hit by a meteorite (the size of a pea) on his hand and lived to talk about it. Unfortunately, he only spoke in German, so I couldn't understand a word. Our brave soldiers fighting our politician's wars in Afghanistan may be in this longer than they or we would have thought. According to Marine Lieutenant-Colonel Christian Cabaniss, "we're going to seize the population from the Taliban and never let them go". Hang in there guys, we'll get some real leaders in office as soon as possible. (More on that at the bottom.)

Monkeys who ate 30% fewer calories but maintained the same high levels of nutrition lived longer and way better lives. This wasn't about obesity, this was about low calorie, high nutrition diets. It's been showing up in the literature for awhile now in mice and such (and in my own experiments on my fish, Bill) but the findings in monkeys are getting us closer to our own selves.

Ben Bernanke, our nation's favorite superfreak, says he wants the Federal Reserve (a private bank run by unelected officials) to expand its role and become "supercop". Mr. Benanke sites the recent awesome jobs his little cartel has done controlling the money supply and the effects that has had on the current economy. He also sited his boy Geitner's job in doling out trillions in taxpayer money to all their old buds from Goldman Sachs. In this picture, he shows you how he will squish your little brains as you relax in the pulsing, gooey matrix and lounge on cheap patio furniture while eating bags of funions.

At least some people are getting the joke. Russ Carnahan (D - MO) runs chin first into a crowd of good old, "show me" Missourians, who just will... not.... buy this farce of a centralized, socialist style takeover of healthcare being championed by Comrade Obama (especially precious are the looks on the women's faces who sit aside their wise leader as they are shocked that anyone would question his authority, benevolence, and supreme knowledge):

"In America, we have a two-party system. There is the stupid party. And there is the evil party. I am proud to be a member of the stupid party. Periodically, the two parties get together and do something that is both stupid and evil. This is called bipartisanship.” -- Sam Francis

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Call for Class

I bring to you today a tragedy I have just recently learned about. A young man named Willard Bryant Payne was recently found dead in St. Louis Forest Park. Please read a touching tribute to this man's life written by Bill McClellan in the St. Louis Post Dispatch online. I never knew or met Mr. Payne, a SLUH alum, but my brother was acquainted with him, and others in my brother's circle knew him well. They described him as "a good guy." They were shocked to learn of his death, and as they emailed each other about it, they were even more shocked to read the way his death was treated by the Riverfront Times.

I ask you, to my own dismay, to please click on the following link and read the way Chad Garrison -- a professional journalist -- wrote about Mr. Payne's death. The sarcasm and complete lack of respect, class or even basic professional prudence disgust me as much as it outraged my brother's friends who knew Bryant well.

I would ask each of you reading this, then, to make the smallest effort with a few clicks of a mouse and a few strokes on the keyboard to not only protect the honor of Mr. Payne's life but to uphold the honor we all share as being part of a class. This is not just about where you went to high school. This is about anyone who has ever belonged to a group of friends, family, or classmates whose combined honor and virtue becomes greater than that of any separate individual; so that, in turn, such honor and mutual respect is shared by all of her members.

Please take a moment to forward this post on not just to other SLUH classmates and other friends of Mr. Payne, but to other people in St. Louis who demand basic respect for their own from, at the very least, the professional media funded by businesses we own, work for and support as customers.

Then, please click here to write a brief note to the editors of the RFT requesting that Chad Garrison make a full public apology for his outrageous behavior as well as a private apology to the Payne family.

Finally, take a moment to say a prayer for Willard Bryant Payne and his family. May he rest in peace.

Read My Mind

A long time ago, on a blog not-so-far away, I promised a post on Google Reader. Like everything on this blog, it just takes a while.

Google Reader is a one of many "feed readers" that are available for free. If you are unaware of the term, a feed reader is an application that allows a user to aggregate all the "feeds" to which they subscribe in one handy place. "Feeds" are just syndication of content. You've probably seen the icon on the right on various websites (including this one). It means that this site syndicates its content, and when there is new content available it will publish that content to its subscribers. This saves the subscriber from having to always go check the site for new content, and allows the publisher yet another way to get its content out to subscribers.

Is this the most exciting post ever, so far, or what? OK, so why this is cool...

The most basic reason to use Google Reader or any feed reader is that it allows you to go to one place to read all the content you normally read. Instead having to remember to go to xtreme-knitting, Angie's Romance Reviews, Curling News, The Antarctic Sun, 99 Sense, (and many more) every day, I just open Google Reader, and the latest content from each of those is right there for me to read.

Google Reader advertises itself as "the inbox of the web" you basically have all your feeds in a column on the left, and the content from each of these feeds is displayed in the center of the window. Content is either displayed as the title of the artical only, or the full article itself (I prefer the latter). You can scroll through the content pane, perusing all the latest content from your numerous feeds, sifting through until you find something you like. You can also apply labels to your feeds, and filter the content pane on those labels.

That's the jist of how feed readers work, but Google Reader has a number of other features besides syndication aggregation. For each piece of content you have the option to:
  • E-mail a link to the article to someone.
  • "Star" the content. (I think of this as bookmarking it, making it easier to find later)
  • Apply new labels to that content (sometimes if I want to read something but don't have the time, I label that particular item with my "Reading List" label. Then later I can filter by "Reading List" and see what I have to catch up on.
  • "Share" the content. Anything you "Share" will be published into a feed of all the items you have shared. And anyone else can subscribe to that. What is incredibly cool about this feature is that I can subscribe to your shared items, and then I can comment on your items, and anyone else can read that, and a discussion can happen. This "social" feature makes it so simple to see what your friends are interested in, and discuss. And of course, the only things that are published are those that you explicitly mark "Share".
Hopefully now you can see the benefits of Google Reader. It allows you to read and manage the content you want more efficiently, and at the same time share and discuss with your friends! For more animated demonstrations of Google Reader, check out the videos below. I hope you all try it out, and please let me know your thoughts!