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things that just are

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Get your red Kabbalah bracelet at Target. Only $29.95!

What's next? T'fillin at Nordstrom?

From Gawker

Thursday, July 22, 2004

For Doctored Photos, a New Flavor of Digital Truth Serum

NY Times
"It used to be that you had a photograph, and that was the end of it - that was truth," said Hany Farid, an associate professor of computer science at Dartmouth College who is a leader in the field. "We're trying to bring some of that back. To put some measure of guarantee back in photography."

Read more

Fascinating story about Jews evading the Nazis by living in a cave for nearly 2 years


Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Four Tennessee inmates go on beer run, charged with escape

MSNBC: The party’s over for four inmates accused of going on a beer run after the jail’s doors were accidentally left unlocked.

The men were charged Monday with escape and bringing alcohol into a jail.

The breakout occurred Thursday night after cellblock doors at the Hawkins County Jail were left unlocked and a faulty control panel failed to alert jailers, Sheriff Warren Rimer said.

Two of the inmates walked out through a fire exit, leaving the door propped open with a Bible, and made a hole in the exercise yard fence. They walked to a market, bought some beer and returned to the jail to share it with other prisoners. When the booze ran out, the other two inmates made another beer run to a different store.

Authorities believe the inmates bought more than two cases of beer in all.

“I guess they thought if they came back they wouldn’t be charged with escape,” Rimer said, “but they were wrong.”

The store visits did not raise alarm because the inmates were wearing street clothes borrowed from other prisoners. The crowded jail does not have enough orange jumpsuits to go around.

Friday, July 16, 2004

ColorMatch 5K - A cool site for picking colors

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

BBC NEWS- Turning the tables on Nigeria's e-mail conmen:

Great article on turning the tables on Nigeria's e-mail conmen!

Add DJ to her duties: Gov. Jennifer Granholm wants it to be hip to hold when someone calls the state

San Francisco Chronicle: Last summer, Granholm called the state Department of Management and Budget to ask if something could be done about the boring acoustic music that people heard when they called the state and were placed on hold. 'She thought we should have cool music,' said DMB director Mitch Irwin.

It seems that the hold music had been set on piano and guitar instrumental since 1996 during Gov. John Engler's administration. Irwin set up a committee to try to juice up the state's 60,000 phone lines. First, officials tried to rock the phones, but after a few caller complaints, Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix got dumped because 'it was a little too hot,' Irwin said. Then, they tried all-Michigan artists, but abandoned the idea because 'it was too limiting.'

Finally, they settled on 1950s and '60s oldies. Now callers hear the hits of Elvis Presley, the Beach Boys, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Chuck Berry, the Beatles, the Temptations or Fats Domino. Provided by Muzak, as was the former music, the service costs the same as in the past -- $800 a year -- but it seems to be getting good reviews from callers.

'I've had people say, `Hey, put me back on hold, I wanna hear the end of that song,'' said Jeanette Doll, a secretary at the DMB.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Give Us Back This Sabbath Day

The Virginia state Senate today convened for a special session to take care of some rather embarrassing legislative business: It had to deal with a law mistakenly passed earlier this year that gave all Virginians the right to avoid work on their Sabbath. Today's bill passed 36-0 and was sent to the House of Delegates with an emergency clause that would make it effective as soon as Gov. Mark R. Warner signs it. Gov. Warner called the lawmakers into special session after round-the-clock and weekend businesses in the state voiced alarm that they could be left without workers. The problem started when legislators moved to repeal the outdated "blue laws" that restricted trade on Sundays. Inattentive legislators and their staffs somehow missed the fact that the law also repealed a list of businesses exempt from Virginia's "day of rest" law. Sen. Frederick Quayle, the law's original sponsor, expressed regret about the whole thing. "I think that perhaps a lot of us have learned lessons from this on reviewing the legislation that we introduce," he said.

From The Wall Street Journal's Afternoon Report

Music and Learning
Numerous studies on adult learning conclude that music has positive effects in the workplace and is conducive to learning, according to a story in ASTD’s T+D magazine. Background music reduces on-thejob accidents, boosts worker production, and makes people more receptive to learning. According to cognitive studies expert Pierce Howard, a fast beat encourages learning by cooling the brain and stimulating a better mood. While fast music pick people up, slower beats in a minor key warm the brain, making it more alert. Music aids memorization by appealing to both the analytical and emotional sides of the brain. When those regions are simultaneously engaged, more brainpower is focused on the lesson. Music also enhances creativity and encourages sudden insights and inspirations, making it appropriate for
brainstorming sessions.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Kosher Wines Draw Notice Year-Round

New York (wwwkoshertoday.com) Kosher wines have come of age, and it's not only for Passover anymore. A recent CNBC feature noted: When it comes to Kosher wines, chances are you'll find them in "the Kosher section" of your wine store, as opposed to seeing them more integrated. For those who only drink Kosher wines this makes sense. But for others, it does little to suggest that the wines should be tried because they might be good and happen to be Kosher. One worth trying is Yarden's 2000 Merlot from the Golan Heights, which sells for about $22. It's big and attractive, full of dark berry fruit, chocolate and notes of orange zest. It was great with a chicken roasted with herbs. I am reminded of a series of advertisements in posters around New York some years ago for a company that made rye bread. "You don't have to be Jewish to Enjoy Levy's."

Meanwhile, Herzog Wine Rated 98 Points & 'Best of California' by California State Fair 2003 Herzog Late Harvest White Riesling has been voted "Best of California," "Best of Class North-Central Coast Appellations" and was awarded a 98 Point Rating and a Double Gold Medal by the oldest and most prestigious wine competition in North America, the California State Fair. In addition, 2003 Herzog Late Harvest Chenin Blanc was also awarded a "Best Of Class" designation and 2002 Baron Herzog Zinfandel was awarded a Gold Medal and a 95 Point rating in this same competition.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Those French

TORONTO (Reuters) - A blind Quebec student, who was denied entry to English classes at a Canadian university because his guide dog responds only to French commands, will be allowed to attend class, the school said on Wednesday.

Yvan Tessier was turned away from an English immersion course at the University of New Brunswick because he would be forced to give his dog, Pavot, instructions in French.

Students in the course are expected to communicate only in English, at all times, during the intensive five-week course. That was to include talking to the dog, but the university relented, saying in a statement that Tessier will be allowed to use "essential commands in his native French language to his guide dog."

Earlier, Tessier said he would file a complaint with the human rights commission if the university stuck to its decision.

"They don't have the openness of spirit to understand that it's better for me and my mobility to operate with my guide dog. It's only 17 commands in French; it won't compromise the English program," he said from Fredericton, New Brunswick.

Tessier has been guided by the black Labrador retriever for the past two years. Pavot was trained by the Quebec-based Mira Foundation specifically for French speaking clients.

"We were astonished by this," said Pierre Noiseux, a spokesman at the foundation which placed Pavot with Tessier.

"The dog doesn't speak French or English. He doesn't know how to spell 'en avant.' He doesn't know it's French. He just knows that 'en avant' means forward."

The university, in the eastern Canadian town of Fredericton, New Brunswick, said it turned Tessier away because it did not have enough time to prepare for his special needs.

"In the past, the service has been provided that we do teach their guide dogs commands in English, so the dog learns English as well," a university spokeswoman told CBC Television.

Tessier said it would take too long to teach Pavot English commands. The Mira Foundation said it was also dangerous to teach the dog new commands just as Tessier arrives in unfamiliar surroundings.

"He's in a new city, he needs a dog that will be really alert," Noiseux said. "Sure we could take the dog, bring him back and recode. But why would I do that? The guy is French."

Cameras Catch Car Thieves On Tape

Police departments across the country are fighting back against alleged car thieves by catching them in the act.
With a car stolen every 27 seconds in America, police and insurers have found a proactive way to get car thieves off the street safely. The special cars called "bait cars" have keys left inside, and the cars are loaded with cameras, and GPS satellite trackers. Then, they program the bait car stereo to play a familiar song, the theme song from "Cops," once the suspects are surrounded. More...