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THE INKSTREME BALLPOINT
ADVENTURES

Sunday, March 6, 2005

THE THIN MAN (1934)

Positive Experience/Entertaining?? This movie was great.
Technically any good? Now this is some good old fashioned movie making! While the film's abundance of alcohol jokes would bug me in a modern film, I got the impression that the lead character was "seriously" joking about needing to be constantly boozed up. I found those jokes darkly humorous. Also, the abundance of white people was annoying. Of course, it is typical of movies of the time to only see minorities cast as "the help." That aside, the writing is amazingly sharp and the performances equally so. The story kept me guessing almost until the end. Good stuff.
How did it leave me feeling? Curious about the other Thin Man movies. What also tweaked me (in a good way) was that the title of the movie doesn't come from the lead character, it comes from something the lead character says in passing about a suspect in the case. I love that subtle stuff!!
Final Rating? SIYL (B&W movies with booze humor aren't for everyone!)

BEING THERE (1979)

Positive Experience/Entertaining?? This is was a very funny movie--the original Forrest Gump/World According to Garp. Literally, this movie seems to be the earliest example of a film about a fish that is not only out of water, but perfectly suited to take on the world inadvertantly.
Technically any good? Yes. You know, I'd just about say that this film was very nearly perfect. In fact, I can't think of anything I didn't like about it. Perhaps some of the scenes with the president were a little awkward, but these required only minor stretches of the imagination to buy, in my opinion. Acting-wise, everyone was spot-on. Sellers is brilliant as always and the director does a superb job of marrying subtle humor with subtle satire.
How did it leave me feeling? Good stuff. I'm curious how many other proto-Gumps are out there.
Final Rating? SIYL (See If You like - It's a very subtle and dry film but genuinely entertaining. No explosions, no "big laughs" just good acting and character work.)

HIROSHIMA MON AMORE (1959)

Positive Experience/Entertaining?? Yes--but not much.
Technically any good? Yeesh--tough question. I've only seen a handful of French films but I didn't like most of them. I've always heard this movie was great, but I just didn't enjoy it. The performances were perfectly believable, however, the story was just annoying as all get out. Even too realistic, I'd say. The characters kept going back and forth and I couldn't figure out why. The story also seemed very contrived and I was annoyed by the abundance of voice over.
How did it leave me feeling? In short, I just didn't get it.
Final Rating?SIYL (See If You Like - lots of folks LOVE this movie, but it just didn't move me.)

HOUSE OF WAX (1953)

Positive Experience/Entertaining?? Definitiely a lot of fun.
Technically any good? Well, Vincent Price's mask for the later portion of the film was completely unbelievable and I did have a bit of trouble buying his motivation for the same section of the film. However, over all the script was solid and entertaining. Once I got past those two problems I was able to enjoy the rest of the film just fine.
How did it leave me feeling? Satisfied--good old fashioned filmmaking. Not perfect, of course.
Final Rating? GRN

HEATHERS (1989)

Positive Experience/Entertaining?? Of course! If you haven't seen this movie, you've probably already heard enough to know that this is a good movie.
Technically any good? While the score dates this movie, it's surprisingly topical. Then again, when is teenage violence ever not topical? The story is solid, the tone is dark but still very funny. Satire is around every corner and I particularly loved the relationship Slater's character has with his dad.
How did it leave me feeling? Satisfied for sure. I have yet to see a film that better addresses the absurdities of both teenagery and society at the same time as this film does. Heathers is a great movie.
Final Rating? GRN (Go Rent Now)

THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951)

Positive Experience/Entertaining?? DEFINITELY!! While it's not as terrifying as the remake (John Carpenter's The Thing) it's surprisingly good for being from 1951.
Technically any good? HELL yeah--the effects are solid and while the alien's design isn't the greatest, the film is constructed so that he's scary as hell before you even see him on screen. Great acting, too--everyone was pretty believable. The directing was particularly good. Each scene felt real because there was so much going on--characters talking over each other's lines and other things going on in the frame--very unlike most movies.
How did it leave me feeling? Very satisfied. I highly recommend this movie for anyone looking for a good old-fashioned creepy movie.
Final Rating? GRN (Go Rent Now)

ABANDON (2002)

Positive Experience/Entertaining?? Definitely. Not great, but a perfectly reasonable film.
Technically any good? While I saw the ending coming from a mile away, I found the journey to be interesting. I don't think Holmes quite pulled it off, but she certainly did well enough for what this film was trying to do.
How did it leave me feeling? Fine--without giving away the ending, I would have liked it if we could see the reality of the ending in Holmes' performance. If you see the movie, that comment makes sense. This isn't a great movie, but I will say it's reasonable.
Final Rating? WFC (Wait For Cable)

Saturday, March 5, 2005

VENEZUELA DIVERSIFIES OIL CUSTOMERS

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez just signed a deal with an Indian oil exploration company to explore for and export more oil with and to India's help. According to an article Reuters.co.in, Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez, is interested in reducing its reliance on the US as a customer. You may recall earlier blogging I've done about Venezuela and more specifically the attempts of American interests to get rid of him as a leader who is interested in being fair to his people (even the poor ones). Check out the following blog entries: THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED (Pocket Review), PROOF OF USGOV MEDDLING IN VENZUELAN AFFAIRS, DEMOCRACY, VENEZUELA-STYLE, MORE VENEZUELAN RECALL FUN, CHAVEZ WINS AGAIN, CHAVEZ: USGOV WANTS ME DEAD.

As you can tell from those titles, there seems to be a definite threat perceived by Chavez that sure seems to be for real. In that last story Chavez even threatened to cut off America's supply of Venezuelan oil. An act which just might get him invaded. So, it makes sense that he is now trying to diversify the corporate oil interests doing business in his country. Apparently, India isn't the only country with oil interests in Venezuela. Here's a clip from that article at Reuters.co.in I referenced above:
Chavez said he wanted Venezuela to be a long-term supplier of crude to India and welcomed Indian investment in his country.

"All major oil and gas companies are there. Chinese companies are there. Indian companies are not there. India needs energy and energy is there to be shared with the rest of the world, you specially," he said.

...

In January, China signed energy accords with Venezuela that aimed to make the largest oil consumer in Asia a major player in the Venezuelan oil and gas industry.

Venezuela ships more than half its daily output to the United States in a decades-old energy relationship.

But Chavez, a fierce critic of Washington, has made clear he wants to diversify his country's overseas energy ties to reduce its economic dependence on the American market.
I just hope America isn't too reliant on Venezuelan oil.

Read more about the deal at the Reuters India website.From Reuters.co.in :

India signs deal to operate Venezuelan oilfield

Sat March 5, 2005 8:11 PM GMT+05:30

By Himangshu Watts

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Energy-hungry India clinched a deal on Saturday to operate a Venezuelan oilfield and import the output as Asia's third largest consumer and the world's No.5 oil exporter vowed to strengthen ties, officials said.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said in New Delhi Petroleos de Venezuela and ONGC Videsh, the overseas subsidiary of India's state-run exploration firm, had signed an agreement to jointly explore and produce oil in Venezuela.

"We have already chosen a specific field where we will start drilling. This oil will come to India," Chavez told reporters.

The two countries signed an agreement to cooperate in the oil sector, paving the way for Oil and Natural Gas Corp. and gas transmission firm GAIL India Ltd to bid for exploration blocks in Venezuela, officials said.

"Within the overall framework, the specific agreement is ONGC's Videsh Ltd.'s negotiation on nomination basis for the San Cristobal oilfield," India's oil minister, Mani Shankar Aiyar, told reporters.

He said the field has the potential to produce 100,000 barrels per day (bpd).

"According to Venezuelan law, they will keep 51 percent, we will receive 49 percent plus operatorship," he said.

On Friday, Aiyar said India would also offer Venezuela equity in Mangarlore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL), the refining subsidiary of ONGC.

Chavez said he wanted Venezuela to be a long-term supplier of crude to India and welcomed Indian investment in his country.

"All major oil and gas companies are there. Chinese companies are there. Indian companies are not there. India needs energy and energy is there to be shared with the rest of the world, you specially," he said.

India's sole private refiner, Reliance Industries has imported Venezuelan crude in recent years but state-run firms have not processed oil from the country.

Aiyar said MRPL's refinery could process Venezuelan crude and other oil firms were assessing which grades of oil from the country they could refine.

India, which imports 70 percent of its crude needs, consumed 2.46 million bpd in 2004 and is forecast to use 2.53 million bpd this year, estimates from the International Energy Agency show.

The country is likely to import 85 percent of its consumption in the next two decades as its economy grows between 7-8 percent a year, encouraging ONGC to compete with China for foreign oil projects.

In January, China signed energy accords with Venezuela that aimed to make the largest oil consumer in Asia a major player in the Venezuelan oil and gas industry.

Venezuela ships more than half its daily output to the United States in a decades-old energy relationship.

But Chavez, a fierce critic of Washington, has made clear he wants to diversify his country's overseas energy ties to reduce its economic dependence on the American market.

ONGC Videsh, has stakes in oil and gas projects in countries such as Myanmar, Sudan, Russia, Libya and Australia and recently signed a $40 billion deal to import LNG from Iran.

Friday, March 4, 2005

Hey! It's 3:45 on 3/4/5!!

Ok, I admit it, it's a stupid post. I don't care.

BUT LOOK:



THE IRONY!!

DEM REID RIPS ON GREENSPAN

Wow, it's a rare day when anyone says something bad about the real power on the planet Earth, Alan Greenspan. As the head of the Fed, he can literally trash countries with just a few words about said countries unstable currency. Generally, people kiss this man's ass so much that Chapstick stock goes through the roof. So, when Dem Senate leader, Harry Reid made some negative comments about Greenspan, I sat up and took notice. Here's an excerpt from an article from KnightRidder.com available at RealCities.com:
Asked Thursday his reaction to Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan's insistence this week that Social Security must be transformed, preferably along lines urged by Bush, Reid replied:

"I'm not a big Greenspan fan. ... I voted against him two times. I think he's one of the biggest political hacks we have in Washington," Reid said on CNN's "Judy Woodruff's Inside Politics."

Reid complained that Greenspan had decried budget deficits when Bill Clinton was president but he doesn't criticize Bush for turning a federal budget surplus he inherited from Clinton into trillions of new debt.
Yowza! That's pretty interesting considering Greenspan is supposed to be non-partisan. I still think there should be a way to have the Fed chairman position held to a public, national vote like the president. Afterall, he is the guy running the company that supplies the money we all use in America.
Posted on Thu, Mar. 03, 2005

Harry Reid a soft-spoken lawmaker with a punch

By James Kuhnhenn

Knight Ridder Newspapers

SEARCHLIGHT, Nev. - In Washington, he's the Senate Democratic leader, afforded all the deference and courtesies of his position. But here, amid the Joshua trees and russet hills of the Nevada desert, Harry Reid is simply "Pinky," the hard-rock miner's son who, on a good day, may get a corner booth at the Searchlight Nugget.

Harry Mason Reid is a study in contrasts: a soft-spoken nice guy with a tough-guy spiel; a partisan Democrat who opposes abortion and restrictions on gun ownership; a teetotaling Mormon with Sin City in his heart.

Or, as Republicans define him: a deal maker one day, a stumbling block the next.

As the leader of the opposition in the Senate, Reid is the country's top elected Democrat. He can free his 44 senators to vote as they wish or try to corral them into an unyielding force. As such, he's the Democrat who can most influence the fate of President Bush's second-term agenda, from Social Security to judicial nominations to tax cuts.

With his receding hairline and glasses, Reid cuts an unimposing figure - think Woody Allen without the New York neuroses. But his subtly hunched shoulders offer a hint of the boxer's crouch he once employed in the ring as an amateur fighter. He's confronted the Mob and shaken off death threats. In the ring, he said, he never suffered a nosebleed.

While some Democrats worry that his low-key style might make him an ineffective opposition leader in President Bush's Washington, Reid has shown that he can throw a punch, too.

Asked Thursday his reaction to Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan's insistence this week that Social Security must be transformed, preferably along lines urged by Bush, Reid replied:

"I'm not a big Greenspan fan. ... I voted against him two times. I think he's one of the biggest political hacks we have in Washington," Reid said on CNN's "Judy Woodruff's Inside Politics."

Reid complained that Greenspan had decried budget deficits when Bill Clinton was president but he doesn't criticize Bush for turning a federal budget surplus he inherited from Clinton into trillions of new debt.

Though Senate Democrats so far have presented a unified front on Social Security and judicial nominations, Reid's hold over his troops has yet to be truly tested.

"The real crunch time for Reid will be if and when the Bush administration attempts to cut a deal with Democrats on Social Security," said Marshall Wittmann, a fellow at the centrist Democratic Leadership Council.

Reid was born Dec. 2, 1939, in a tin-roofed shack in Searchlight, a small mining town in southern Nevada best known for its brothels. His father spent his time underground, mining for gold and other precious ores, until alcohol and depression drove him to suicide. His mother did laundry, and her clientele included the bordellos. With his mop of reddish hair, the lad came to be known as "Pinky" by the locals. It stuck.

Reid attended high school 40 miles away, in Henderson. When he graduated, his history teacher, Mike O'Callaghan, arranged for local businessmen to raise money to send him to college. O'Callaghan also taught Reid how to box, and after a foot injury ended Reid's hopes of being a college baseball player, boxing became his sport at South Utah State College.

"As I look back on it, I wasn't big enough, fast enough or good enough to be the athlete of my dreams," Reid said, reminiscing in the airy living room of his house in Searchlight.

So he became an amateur middleweight, sparring with and even fighting with pros in special exhibitions.

"I was really a good boxer," he said. No brag, just fact.

Hanging in his study is a boxer's portrait by LeRoy Neiman and a watercolor of Joe Louis fighting Max Schmeling, signed by both fighters.

Reid quit the ring when he married his high school sweetheart, Landra Gould. They moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked his way through George Washington University Law School.

O'Callaghan, by then a rising politician in Nevada, arranged a job for Reid on the Capitol Police force.

"We though it'd be a nice deal," Reid said. "We thought we'd have plenty of money, but my wife got pregnant, so she wasn't able to work. We were just struggling. We had two little kids. I worked six days a week, eight hours a day, went to school full time. It was just miserable."

Returning to Nevada with a law degree in hand, he took a job as a municipal attorney, got himself elected to a county hospital board, made a name for himself by getting the hospital administrator fired and won a seat in the state assembly. By 1970, his old mentor, O'Callaghan, was running for governor. Reid, only 30 years old, ran for lieutenant governor. Both won.

Four years later, O'Callaghan offered him a deal. "If you run for re-election, I'll resign early and you can be governor," Reid quoted O'Callaghan as saying.

Reid ran for U.S. Senate instead. "I should have followed his advice," Reid said. He lost by 600 votes.

O'Callaghan, eager to help his friend, named him to the state gaming commission in 1977. The job could have been easy, but it came at a time when crime bosses in Kansas City and Chicago were moving into Las Vegas. The gaming commission uncovered Mob interests in some casinos.

"Landra found a bomb they'd put on our car, there were all kinds of death threats and it was a bad situation," Reid said. The bomb was a crude device that was intended to ignite the gas tank when the car started, but it didn't work.

In 1982, Reid won Nevada's only seat in the House of Representatives. Four years later, he was elected to the Senate and has been re-elected since.

During Bush's first term, Reid was the Senate Democrats' second-in-command, the vote counter who tried to keep the troops in line. When Democratic leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota lost his re-election bid last November, Reid secured Democrats' support as his replacement within a day.

Reid is the Democrats' leader, but he's also from a state that President Bush has carried twice. That makes him particularly sympathetic to other Democrats from states that voted for Bush.

"He understands first and foremost that you have to represent the people who elect you and send you here," said Sen. Ben Nelson, a Nebraska Democrat who often votes with Republicans.

So far, Reid has played deal maker, helping Republicans regulate class-action lawsuits and negotiating a way for Democrats to vent over some of Bush's new Cabinet appointees without holding up their nominations.

At the same time, though, he's led the resistance to the president's Social Security plan and he's vowed to block seven Bush judicial nominees whom Democrats have rejected in the past.

That's one fight that could set off a monumental clash over a president's power to appoint judges versus the Senate's traditional respect for the rights of its minority members. Borrowing imagery from his youth, Reid has challenged Republicans to "go behind the pool hall and see who wins this one."

Chuckling, he said: "We could do some real harm."

Clarification: A profile Friday of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., imprecisely characterized Sen. Trent Lott’s praise of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., in 2002. Lott, R-Miss., who was Senate majority leader at the time, stepped down after sparking a public-relations disaster by voicing pride that his state had voted for Thurmond’s 1948 campaign for president, in which Thurmond advocated racial segregation.

Fun with Dinner at ThePete's

A Picture Share!

Clam puff dinner last night! YUMMM!

Thursday, March 3, 2005

US BACKS OFF PUSH FOR UN TO GO ANTI-ABORTION

Well, the good news is the USG may be backing off of it's push for the UN to embrace anti-abortion ways. You may recall this entry I posted yesterday about the Bush 43 Admin's stance on women's rights and the UN. Here's a clip from an article at News.BBC.co.uk :
The US has strongly hinted that it will drop its controversial demand to add anti-abortion language to a UN declaration on women's rights.
Well, hey, when the USG even looks like it's going to do something that makes sense, I like to point it out when I can. So, there ya go.

Read that BBC article for more.From News.BBC.co.uk:
Last Updated: Thursday, 3 March, 2005, 10:14 GMT

US backing down in abortion row



The US has strongly hinted that it will drop its controversial demand to add anti-abortion language to a UN declaration on women's rights.

The issue has dominated a UN conference reviewing the declaration adopted at the 1995 women's conference in Beijing.

The US has been criticised by European and other delegates over its demand for an amendment stating specifically that abortion was not a human right.

A US spokesman said discussions were still continuing.

"Our original goal was to make sure that everyone involved knew what the original intent of the Beijing document was," said Richard Grenell, a spokesman for the US mission at the UN.

"We are hearing from many delegations that they agree with us," he added.

'Signal'

The Beijing declaration called for governments to end gender discrimination in areas including education, health care, politics and employment.

The US administration has accused advocacy groups of trying to define the commitment to "reproductive health services" stated in the document as guaranteeing a right to abortion.

It wanted the 2005 review - being carried out at a two-week conference in New York - to reject this interpretation explicitly.

But the demand has been condemned by a number of delegates.

Nicole Ameline, the French minister in charge of women's rights, said it was "very important not to give the impression to the world that there is a step back or a reinterpretation of this issue".

She pointed out that the 1995 document did not refer to abortion as a right - but that specifically ruling this out would send a wrong signal.

About 100 government delegations and thousands of activists are involved in the Beijing declaration progress review.

© BBC MMV

If a Movie Premieres and No One Cares...

A Picture Share!

The Upside of Anger premiere. Never heard of it!



Gotta love Hollywood--no publicity has reached my eyes, here in LA, and yet here's the premiere of a movie that's likely to blink in the box office and end up on DVD by summer.

ThePhoneBlog

Hey, just a quick note to point out that I've started "phoblogging" or "blogging from a phone." It can also be called audio blogging, audblogging, and a few other terms. I prefer phoblogging, myself. ANYway, for now the latest phoblog entries will appear in the sidebar just below TheLatest entries in the regular blog. I wish there was a way to phoblog directly to my main blog, but AudioBlogger.com only works with blogger and all other services cost money. Oh and you can also PodCast ThePhoneBlog as well as the main blog, although I tend not to attach many audio files to the main blog. Find the PodCast link for the main blog under "feeds" in the pop menu or at the bottom of ThePhoneBlog for TPB entries.

I plan on phoblogging a LOT because it's so easy and I LOVE to babble. I need to add a comments link to ThePhoneBlog so y'all can tell me how stupid I sound. Ha. All right, enough of this--time for some real blogging!! (Right after I head down to Boba Loca!)

Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Pretty Tower!

A Picture Share!

Pretty tower!



FYI, that's the tower over Mann's (Fox) Village theater here in Westwood, CA. It's a gorgeous tower and gives you the impression that the theater rocks ass, which it does. It's rumored to be George Lucas' favorite theater in LA. It's not mine--mine is the Chinese, but I live on the West Side, so I don't often see movies there. Ah, I should blog about movie theaters one of these days... Damn, gotta create another category!

Peace...

Another One of Those Damn Hoax Emails! (Sort of!)

Got this just now from TheChad:
URGENT ASSISTANCE - STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL

DEAR FRIEND

Good day to you.

Permit me to inform you of my desire for you to help me. Obviously, you might be surprised on receiving this mail due to we have not known before.

By brief introduction, I am HER ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCESS LEIA ORGANA, a citizen of ALDERAN and the only daughter of SENATOR BAIL ORGANA.

My farther was killed by the evil GALACTIC EMPIRE when they destroyed my homeworld of ALDERAN.

My father was First Chairman and Viceroy of ALDERAN and had with him considerable wealth. Before his death he transferred the total Sum of $19,000,000.00 (NINETEEN MILLION REPUBLIC CREDITS) to a CORELLIAN security company.

Dear one, please I am honourably seeking your assistance to assist me in transferring this amount from the security company and transfer these credits into your accounts outside the outer rim and also stand as a guardian to me. At present I am being held against my will by the evil DARTH VADAR and am unable to secure the amount for myself.

In exchange for your esteemed help I will offer you 15% of the total Sum as compensation after the transfer (along with a used R2 unit).

Please, get back to me through the above email address to enable me inform you the requirement before the transfer of the credits into your account .

Further more, kindly furnish me with your following details.

{A}.YOUR FULL NAME.
{B}.YOUR CONTACT ADDRESS.
{C}.YOUR HOLOGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION NUMBER.
{D} YOUR IDENTIFICATION AND YOUR OCUPATION.
(E).YOUR AGE.
(F)YOUR MIDICHLORIAN COUNT.

Please treat this issue as confidential and contact me immediately with yahoo private e-mail address [ __________ ] for more information about this transaction.

Thanks for your kindness and may the Force be with you.

Best regards,
PRINCESS LEIA ORGANA
Detention Block AA-23 cell# 2187,
DEATH STAR
I tweaked it a little, moving the return address to the bottom because it's much funnier if you don't know who it's from right away. Thanks be to Chad for sending this one over! He knows the forwards I like... big boy.

For those of you who are just joining the Internet (where have you been? We've been waiting for you!) this hoax email is a parody of a hoax email that claims to be from a former official of an overthrown African government who needs you to hold the fortune he/she secreted out of his African country before the government fell. If memory serves, he/she will give you a portion of said money if you agree to hold it for him/her. All you have to do is send him/her your bank account number. I've gotten this email from a few different names claiming to be either gender also claiming to be from any one of a half-dozen African countries. I've even seen someone perform one of the original hoax emails in a video blog entry.

Ah, I was looking for something cool to post in my Star Wars category! I'll have more soon.

SUN BLAMED FOR BIGGER OZONE HOLE

Ugh, now the even bigger ozone hole is being blamed on solar activity. Here's an excerpt from an article at LiveScience.com that explains it much better than I could in paraphrasing it:
Ozone, which screens out some of the Sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation, declined by up to 60 percent in the stratosphere over high northern latitudes in the spring of 2004. Officials issued a health warning earlier this year for residents of the far North.

In a new study, scientists conclude that an intense round of solar storms around Halloween in 2003 was at the root of the problem. Charged particles from the storms triggered chemical reactions that increased the formation of extra nitrogen in the upper stratosphere, some 20 miles up. Nitrogen levels climbed to their highest in at least two decades.

...

The nitrogen gas is known to destroy ozone.
So, while global warming is still caused by a build up of CO2 and the like, the ozone hole may grow even larger thanks to things completely out of our control.

Good thing we're spending all that money on defense and shit. I'd really hate to think too much money was being spent on averting natural disasters instead of inspiring unnatural ones.

Here's a bit more from the above reffed article just to get you a bit more concerned about this:
Ozone is a form of oxygen. Its protective qualities make life as we know it possible. (Near the ground, ozone plays the opposite role, being the main component in smog.)

The upper-level ozone layer has thinned dramatically in the Southern Hemisphere in recent decades, creating a dangerous hole through which UV rays stream. The decline is due largely to man-made chlorofluorocarbons released into the atmosphere.

The new study suggests a better understanding is needed of how the Sun itself alters the ozone layer.

"No one predicted the dramatic loss of ozone in the upper stratosphere of the Northern Hemisphere in the spring of 2004," Randall said. "That we can still be surprised illustrates the difficulties in separating atmospheric effects due to natural and human-induced causes."

The thinning of the Arctic ozone layer continues, owing in part to cold temperatures in the stratosphere, according to a separate recent study that suggests a northern hole could develop as a twin to the southern one.

Exposure to excessive UV radiation can cause skin cancer. Animals and plants can be adversely affected, too.
Fun.

I'd invest in Hawaiian Tropic stock, if I were you.

Check out the article for more.From LiveScience.com:

Sun's Temper Blamed for Arctic Ozone Loss

By Robert Roy Britt
LiveScience Senior Writer
posted: 01 March 2005
11:01 am ET

A dramatic thinning of Earth's protective ozone layer above the Arctic last year was the result of intense upper-level winds and an extra dose of space weather, scientists said Tuesday.

Ozone, which screens out some of the Sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation, declined by up to 60 percent in the stratosphere over high northern latitudes in the spring of 2004. Officials issued a health warning earlier this year for residents of the far North.

In a new study, scientists conclude that an intense round of solar storms around Halloween in 2003 was at the root of the problem. Charged particles from the storms triggered chemical reactions that increased the formation of extra nitrogen in the upper stratosphere, some 20 miles up. Nitrogen levels climbed to their highest in at least two decades.

A massive low-pressure system that confines air over the Arctic then conspired to deplete ozone.

Upper-atmosphere winds associated with the system, called the polar stratospheric vortex, sped up in February and March of 2004 to the fastest speeds ever recorded, the new study found. The spinning vortex allowed nitrogen gas to sink from the high stratosphere, some 20 miles up, to lower altitudes.

The nitrogen gas is known to destroy ozone.

"This decline was completely unexpected," said Cora Randall, a physicist at the University of Colorado, Boulder who led the study. "The findings point out a critical need to better understand the processes occurring in the ozone layer."

Researchers from Canada and Europe contributed to the study, which drew data from seven satellites. The results are detailed in the March 2 online issue of Geophysical Research Letters, published by the American Geophysical Union.

Ozone is a form of oxygen. Its protective qualities make life as we know it possible. (Near the ground, ozone plays the opposite role, being the main component in smog.)

The upper-level ozone layer has thinned dramatically in the Southern Hemisphere in recent decades, creating a dangerous hole through which UV rays stream. The decline is due largely to man-made chlorofluorocarbons released into the atmosphere.

The new study suggests a better understanding is needed of how the Sun itself alters the ozone layer.

"No one predicted the dramatic loss of ozone in the upper stratosphere of the Northern Hemisphere in the spring of 2004," Randall said. "That we can still be surprised illustrates the difficulties in separating atmospheric effects due to natural and human-induced causes."

The thinning of the Arctic ozone layer continues, owing in part to cold temperatures in the stratosphere, according to a separate recent study that suggests a northern hole could develop as a twin to the southern one.

Exposure to excessive UV radiation can cause skin cancer. Animals and plants can be adversely affected, too.

© 1999-2005 Imaginova Corp.

HAPPINESS: A HOLE IN YOUR HEAD?

We've all heard the old saying "I need [something bad] like I need a hole in the head!"

According to an article at Forbes.com, two holes in your head and a couple of electrodes implanted deep in your brain can cure you of depression if other methods don't work for you.

Seriously, this is what they're reporting and the article doesn't mention anything overt about how barbaric this is or even how similar it is to such Orwellian jokes as Stimpy's happy helmet. I may be biased, but I don't think that happiness at any cost is a good thing. I mean, is our world that perfect that anyone who doesn't respond to traditional anti-depression treatments should have two holes drilled in their head?

I'm completely ignorant of such people, but might their depression be from the world around them? Or perhaps the world around all of us? It's not exactly a paradise here folks. I'm sure their depression is from "a chemical imbalance" but what if that chemical imbalance was caused by something in society?

Back in the 1980s, the Soviet Union denied the existence of a serial killer. They said that the Soviet culture didn't produce such people. However, they were wrong. This guy killed over 50 people before he was caught.

Are we going to be so full of ourselves as to say that our society can't produce legitimately and incurably depressed people?

Ah, what the hell? We're following in the Soviet's footsteps in so many other ways...

Read more about this barbaric procedure at the Forbes website.

Check out Citizen X, a movie about that Soviet serial killer or pick up The Killer Department, the book that originally chronicled the tale, both from Amazon.From Forbes.com:

Implanted Electrodes Combat Depression

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, March 1 (HealthDay News) -- A procedure that involves drilling two holes into a person's skull and then implanting electrodes in the brain has shown promise in treating individuals who are severely depressed and resistant to other types of treatment.

Four of six patients who received this deep brain stimulation showed sustained improvement six months after the procedure took place, scientists report in the March 3 issue of Neuron.

The patients have now been followed for a year and are still in remission, added co-lead investigator Dr. Andres Lozano, a professor of neurosurgery at the University of Toronto.

Although deep brain stimulation to other parts of the brain has been used to treat epilepsy, Parkinson's and other diseases, this appears to be the first time it has been used to treat major depression, Lozano said.

About 20 percent of people with depression fail to respond to standard treatments. Some of these people will respond to combinations of medications plus electroconvulsive therapy, sometimes known as shock therapy. A remaining few, however, still do not get better.

The new therapy is far more refined than electroconvulsive therapy, Lozano said. "Electroconvulsive therapy is analogous to rebooting your computer," he explained. "This [deep brain stimulation] is very pinpointed, precise therapy, involving a very precise area of brain that plays a key role in depression."

For the past four or five years, there have been hints that this area of the brain, the subgenual cingulate region, or Cg25 region, played a role in depression. "When people are acutely sad, this area of the brain becomes active," Lozano said. "If you take antidepressants, the activity in this area goes down."

This information led to the hypothesis that diminishing activity in that area might improve depression. "It was as if the thermostat was set for 120 degrees and you want it to be 70 degrees," Lozano explained. "This area of the brain is running in overdrive, and it is causing depression and also interfering with the function of areas of the brain that are involved in cognitive function."

The new study involved six patients, median age 46, who had failed to respond to a minimum of four other treatments for depression, including medications, psychotherapy and/or electroconvulsive therapy. The participants were recruited from across Ontario and the deep brain stimulation procedures were performed at Toronto Western Hospital, which is affiliated with the University of Toronto.

The researchers first pinpointed the precise area of the brain in question using positron emission tomography (PET) scans. Then Lozano drilled two small holes into each side of the skull in a two-hour procedure that took place under local anesthesia. He inserted two thin wires with electrode contacts, then tunneled the wires (about the diameter of uncooked spaghetti) underneath the skin behind the ear down to the chest. An incision was made under the collarbone so a battery could be placed there. The electrodes were hooked up to the batteries (one on each side of the body). The batteries can be programmed remotely through the skin, and there is no restriction on activities, Lozano said. The batteries last for five years.

Stimulation, which is adjusted individually for each patient, takes place 24 hours a day. "We think it's going to require ongoing stimulation," said Lozano. When stimulation was turned off in one participant, the depression returned within two weeks.

In all, Lozano and his co-authors saw a "striking benefit" in four of the six patients. The other two were removed from the study after six months because they failed to improve. It's not clear why four patients improved, while the other two did not, although the individuals who did improve all had depression that began in their late teens and early 20s.

"It's one spot of the brain that is really acting as a terrorist and subjugating very widespread areas of the brain and interfering with their function," Lozano said. "If one can seek out this area and tell it to behave in a more normal fashion, then the rest of the brain follows." The four people also showed improvements in concentration and motivation, he said.

Lozano stressed that this research was "early, early" and that additional studies needed to be performed. "We don't know if this will be reproducible and sustained," he said. Researchers also don't know if the results can be generalized to all depression.

"It's only six people, so it's nothing to be too excited about, yet these patients really are the most refractory, and many of them had not been out of the house for several years," Lozano said. "Now they're talking about going to work, going to the gym, starting a business. It's really been a transformative experience for some of them."

More information

NAMI has more on major depression.

© 2005 Forbes.com Inc.™

US GOVERNMENT DEMANDS UN RENOUNCE ABORTION

Do you think the Bush 43 Admin hates women? I do. According to an article at Guardian.co.uk, the USG is demanding that the UN renounce a woman's right to an abortion around the world. We all know how neocons, cons and Repubs all hate the idea of killing babies--they prefer to wait for babies to grow into young men, 18-28 and then have them killed in combat. So, essentially, this policy isn't that big of a surprise--however, the fact that this demand comes at the same time as a conference on women's rights opens to commemorate ten years since the Beijing conference on the status of women. In short, not only does the Bush 43 Admin not want any woman anywhere in the world to have an abortion, they're essentially peeing on women's rights by making this anti-abortion demand right now.

I'm hoping for a sequel to Blowback : The Costs and Consequences of American Empire a book Chalmers Johnson wrote back in 2000 that essentially foresaw 911.

The USG may be the biggest kid on the block, but that doesn't make them gods of the neighborhood.

Be sure and read about women's rights being widdled away by the USG over at the Guardian's website.From Guardian.co.uk:

America urges UN to renounce abortion rights

Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington
Tuesday March 1, 2005
The Guardian

The Bush administration was accused yesterday of trying to roll back efforts to improve the status of the world's women by demanding that the UN publicly renounce abortion rights.

America's demand overshadowed the opening yesterday of a conference intended to mark the 10th anniversary of the Beijing conference on the status of women, an event seen as a landmark in efforts to promote global cooperation on women's equality.

The US stand was also widely seen as further evidence of the sweeping policy change in Washington under the Bush presidency. The last four years have seen a steady erosion of government support for international population projects, due to the administration's opposition to abortion.

The UN's commission on the status of women had drafted a brief declaration reaffirming support for the Beijing declaration, and calling for further effort to implement its recommendations.

Organisers had hoped that informal discussions last week would reach a consensus on the draft, leaving the next fortnight clear for government officials and women's activists to hold more substantive talks on advancing economic equality and political participation, and fighting violence against women.

But those hopes were crushed in a closed-door session late last week when Washington demanded the declaration reaffirm its support for the declarations made in Beijing 10 years ago only if "they do not include the right to abortion", says a copy of the US text obtained by the Guardian.

"We were not able to conclude informal consultations as we had originally hoped and planned for," said Beatrice Maille, the vice-chair of the UN commission.

The chief of the US delegation, Sichan Siv, went on to tell his counterparts that Washington opposed the ratification of the international treaty on women's equality, as well as resolutions that would "place emphasis on 'rights' that not all member states accept, such as so-called 'sexual rights'."

Mr Siv also told diplomats that Washington opposed any move to seek funds from industrialised countries to implement the reforms called for under the Beijing declaration.

The stand left America almost entirely isolated at the pre-conference sessions. According to officials who were at the meetings, only the Vatican observer supported Washington's hard line. There was harsh criticism of the Bush administration yesterday from diplomats and women's activists.

"This sort of statement is a clear signal to everybody present that the US does not support the Beijing agreement perspective on the human rights of women," said Adrienne German, president of the International Women's Health Coalition.

"It clearly demonstrates that this government has taken a 180-degree reversal from the US government in 1995 and 2000."

Private talks were under way yesterday to persuade Washington to reverse its stand. Although there are expectations that the US will eventually relent, several officials accused the US of igniting the controversy - and sabotaging the conference - to try to score points with Bush supporters on the Christian right.

The Clinton administration was a strong supporter of the Beijing declaration in 1995, and until President Bush took power in 2001, Washington was viewed as a leader in international family planning efforts. The US government began providing aid to developing countries in 1965, and its organisations were seen as leaders in population control.

But President Bush has steadily reversed Washington's support for such initiatives, blocking US funds to the UN population fund, and diverting cash towards programmes promoting abstinence.

A spokesman for the US delegation described the controversy over Washington's stand on abortion as "motivated".

"We just wanted to make clear what the assumptions were about the Beijing document," said Rick Grenell, the US spokesman. "We don't believe that it recognises abortion as an international human right."

© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005

LEGITIMATE WAR IN AFRICA

Hey, so while we're watching people die just about daily in Iraq, UN peacekeeping troops are kicking ass in Africa. According to an article from AP.org at ABCNews.com, in the Congo there are still roving militias that are responsible for dozens of deaths, the terrorizing of villages and for causing 70,000 people being forced to leave their homes in fear for their lives (that's since December). According to the same article, 50-60 militia members were wiped out by UN peackeeping troops in loose response to the earlier killing of Bangladeshi peacekeepers.

The Congo, and Africa in general, have been a source for quite a bit of strife over the past decade or more and yet the USMil's involvement there has been very minimal. From state sponsored terrorism in the Sudan to genocide in Rwanda to roving militias in the Congo, Africa is in need of American military stomping power. Yet while literally millions of people die in Africa, we're more concerned with the few hundred-thousand that Saddam was killing in Iraq. While millions of Africans lose their lives, we're more concerned about stopping Saddam from using WMD against us. Which is funny since a whole mess of experts knew that Saddam had no WMD. If only Bush would have read the papers he'd know it, too.

So is this about the oil or race?

Hm... both probably.

Black oil, cool--black people? Not so much... apparently.

Check out the above reffed article at the ABC News website.From AP.org and ABCNews.com:

U.N. Peacekeepers Kill 60 Militia in Congo

U.N. Peacekeeping Troops Kill As Many As 60 Militants in Battle in Northeastern Congo
By BRYAN MEALER
The Associated Press

Mar. 2, 2005 - U.N. peacekeeping troops backed by an attack helicopter responded after being fired on and killed up to 60 militants accused of terrorizing villagers and killing nine Bangladeshi peacekeepers, officials said Wednesday. It was the largest number killed by a U.N. force since the Congo mission was created in 1999.

The firefight took place Tuesday near the village of Loga, 20 miles north of Bunia, the capital of the violent northeastern Ituri province, where the nine Bangladeshis were killed in an ambush last week.

"While on operation we were fired upon, so we immediately responded," said Col. Dominique Demange, spokesman for the U.N. forces in Congo.

The United Nations used an attack helicopter in the operation against the militia, Demange said. He said between 50 and 60 militia members had been confirmed dead.

The operation involved more than 200 Pakistani peacekeepers, two transport helicopters and armored vehicles, U.N. spokeswoman Eliane Nabaa said.

Two peacekeepers were wounded in the barrage of gunfire and evacuated to South Africa, Nabaa said.

The militia, which belongs to the ethnic Lendu political party Nationalist and Integrationist Front, has been terrorizing villages of the rival Hema tribe for months. Tribal fighters have killed dozens of people, looted and burned homes, and forced over 70,000 people to flee to the hills for safety since December.

The United Nations also suspects the same militia is responsible for slaying the nine Bangladeshi peacekeepers.

"This group continues to loot, kill and rape these people, making life miserable," said Nabaa. "It's time to put an end to this militia."

While most of the nation has eased into calm following a 1998-2002 war, fighting between tribal factions continues in Ituri, making the mineral-rich region the greatest challenge to the U.N. mission.

The United Nations vowed to continue to battle gunmen and seize militant camps deep in the remote hills.

"Our forces will keep putting pressure on the ground until these militia are dismantled entirely," Jean-Francois Collot d'Escuries, chief of staff for U.N. troops in Congo, told reporters.

Hundreds of peacekeepers were dispatched to several areas of the isolated, scenic territory to provide shelter, food and medicine.

However, following the slaying of the nine U.N. soldiers, the United Nations announced it was suspending humanitarian assistance to 54,000 people due to increased violence.

The operation Tuesday marked an aggressive shift in the way the United Nations is tackling its mission to shepherd Congo toward peace and stability.

For several years, U.N. peacekeepers in Congo have been criticized for being ineffective.

In May 2003, a small contingent of Uruguayan U.N. troops in Bunia were quickly overrun when Hema and Lendu militia fought for control of the town, killing over 500 people.

The United Nations drew stiff international criticism for allowing the deaths, many of which were execution-style murders carried out by teenage gunmen. The United Nations blamed a weak Security Council mandate that only permitted the peacekeepers to protect U.N. staff.

The 15-nation Security Council toughened the mandate months later, allowing them to protect civilians. However, they were criticized again in June 2004 when renegade Congolese troops seized the lakeside town of Bukavu in the east, mostly while U.N. troops stood by.

The fall of Bukavu sparked riots in the capital where U.N. vehicles were torched and burned.

The U.N. mission in Congo is also embroiled in a major sex scandal in Bunia after many young girls living in displaced camps accused peacekeepers of raping them, or trading sweets and money for sex.

The young Lendu fighters who often wear wigs and women's dresses in battle because they believe it will protect them from harm are accused of massacring thousands of Hema in village raids over the years.

Since 1999, fighting in Ituri has killed more than 50,000 and forced 500,000 to flee their homes, U.N. officials and human rights groups say.

Congo's five-year, six-nation war that killed nearly 4 million people ended in 2002 with the formation of a transitional government a year later, which has struggled to extend its authority to the long-ungoverned east.

Some 15,000 peacekeepers from 100 countries the world's largest peacekeeping deployment are overseeing a transition toward peace in the nation. The number will increase to 16,700 troops by March. About 4,800 U.N. forces are in Ituri.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press

Tuesday, March 1, 2005

New Layout AGAIN!

I'm so stupid--I'll never be satisfied with my layouts. I have no design sense, so I decided I should redo the site to reflect my lack of design sense and make it look like my desk top--my actual desk top. The idea is that all the text is on pieces of paper that cross my desk of cool toys and other random clutter.

Wow--to me this new design is ugly--oh well.

Let me know what you think! Comment and if enough people don't like it, I'll go back to the last layout. I've saved it just in case. Don't hesitate to tell me if you think it sucks. Seriously, I can take it!