Saturday, November 24, 2012

Robalini's Week 12 NFL Sunday Picks

Here's my results for Thanksgiving
W-L-T record: 2-1
Season record: 49-41

A half-point from 3-0.  Damn you Texans!  Anyway, here's the weekend picks for the week:

Oakland Raiders (+8 1/2) over Cincinnati Bengals

The Raiders have been blown away two weeks in a row, which is why the point spread is so high.  But I'm betting on them at least losing close.

Pittsburgh Steelers (-1 1/2) over Cleveland Browns

The Steeler were starting an injured backup last week against the Baltimore Ravens and still were within a field goal.  This week, starting Charlie Batch (who is a highly underrated backup QB) instead of Byron Leftwich they should find it easier against the lowly Browns.

Denver Broncos (-10 1/2) over Kansas City Chiefs

I've been feasting of big dog bets lately.  But have you seen Peyton Manning lately?  He should shred the Chiefs.

Atlanta Falcons (Even) over Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I've been insisting I still like the Falcons, just haven't liked the point spreads they've faced.  Finally a low spread: I'll take 'em, even if the Bucs are a highly competitive team.

Seattle Seahawks (-3) over Miami Dolphins

Miami isn't a good home team and they're reeling, while the Seahawks are looking tough.

New Orleans Saints (+2 1/2) over San Francisco 49ers

I'm not sold on Colin Kaepernick at all.  Maybe eventually, but not this season.  Sure, he looked good against the Bears, but I don't expect him to perform well in a duel against Drew Brees.

Green Bay Packers (+2 1/2) over New York Giants

Giving Aaron Rodgers and the Packers points against the struggling Giants and Eli Manning heavily underestimates the talents of Green Bay.

All bets are placed at Station Casinos:

To check Las Vegas odds, The Konformist recommends

Review: The Sims 3 Seasons brings good cheer

Matt Liebl

Since its release in 2009, The Sims 3 has seen a number of expansions and add-ons to enhance its core gameplay. Over its course, we've seen pets, new traits, items, clothing, careers, and even supernatural creatures all added to the game. In short, the game basically has it all. But until recently, The Sims 3 has lacked one vital feature: seasons.

The Sims 3, which prides itself on being the most in-depth simulator on the market, has missed out on the one key element of every day life: weather. Is it only me, or does it seem a bit strange that the game has received zombies and fairies before snow and rain?

Regardless of the reasoning behind the release timing, The Sims 3 Seasons and the weather patterns that accompany it are now here to stay. Well, that's if you don't turn the feature off. But having played The Sims 3 Seasons and experiencing weather in the game for the first time, I can't imagine this game existing without it anymore. It's quite amazing how the simple element of weather can change a gameplay experience, but that exactly what The Sims 3 Seasons has done.

I'll admit, the past few expansions have been somewhat disappointing for me. New clothing, new traits -- it all just seemed like extra stuff that didn't add any real value to the game. Sure, the same thing could be said for Seasons, but the simple fact is that the game has been totally revitalized with the addition of weather. It's not just random rain or snow; seasons in The Sims 3 has added a sense of purpose to time, aside from aging.

In its default, the seasons change every seven days. This can be easily adjusted in the options menu, but I found it to be a pretty reasonable amount to time. Everything relating to weather is fully customizable. You can adjust the amount of time each season lasts and even remove a season all together. Not a fan of the weather that accompanies the season? Rather than force you to sit through rain, you can turn it off.

Honestly though, after experiencing the weather effects, I wouldn't. The thunderstorms, though occurring more than I would like, are really fascinating to watch. EA has put an incredible amount of detail into the effects, to the point that you can see each drop of rain fall from the roof of the house. Though it looked great on my computer, I can see how those with an older PC might have trouble running some of the effects -- especially since The Sims 3 has been suffering from memory problems for the past few add-ons.

Aside from weather changes for each season, you now have a dedicated "Leisure" day. This is simply EA's politically correct way of representing the most recognized holiday for that season. For spring it's Easter, summer it's like the 4th of July, fall it's Halloween, and for winter it is Christmas/Hanukkah. During this day, which you are given off from work for, you can attend the season's festival.

Any world that you're playing in features a unique festival during each season filled with tons of new objects and events for you to experience. During the summer, you can compete in the annual hot dog eating contest, or you can carve a pumpkin during the fall. With it being the winter season now, you may find yourself skipping towards the snowball fight.

There are other activities you can perform during the seasons, as well. You can decorate your house with the appropriate seasonal decorations, go on an egg hunt, bob for apples, and -- for the first time ever -- swim in the ocean! There are plenty of new activities to keep you busy in The Sims 3 Seasons.

Of course, seasons do come with a price. New to the game are allergies and colds. In the spring, those who have allergies and spend their time outdoors risk the chance of getting the new Allergy Haze moodlet, causing them to sneeze and blow their nose. This is easily treatable with a quick visit to the hospital, but it's also a trip that's not really needed. Why can't I just enjoy the seasons without having to worry about the consequences that accompany them in real-life? The same is said for the chance Sims have of catching a cold. It's just a hassle.

Speaking of hassle, Seasons has added a brand new Blueprint Mode that lets you place fully furnished blueprints of a room on the ground to quickly build a brand new house. One of the best aspects of The Sims 3 is the house customization, but as everyone knows, this is also the most time consuming. The blueprint allows you to place the basic house foundation and then go back and tweak it to your liking. Needless to say, I still spent hours on my house. Hey, if I can't have it in real life, why not in a game?

As expected, The Sims 3 Seasons adds your accompanying furniture, songs (though there aren't holiday songs, there is are short 'musical phrases'), and clothing to let you dress for the occasion. I recommend an umbrella for when it rains and snow gear for the cold, or else you'll be stuck with a very unhappy Sim. I would have liked to see some more Create a Sim options, however.

Overall, The Sims 3 Seasons is one of the best expansions the game has received in quite a while. The simple addition of weather adds a breath of fresh air into the now three-year-old game. The only problem is now that we have seasons, where does EA go from here? I suppose that's part of the fun with The Sims 3; you never know what you're going to get next. Let's hope it's not a cold during the Holidays. Remember to bundle up!

PlayStation 4 won’t play PS3 games

PlayStation 4 won’t play PS3 games, will stream classics through Gaikai
Anthony John Agnello
November 16, 2012

New details about the PlayStation 3's successor: First, Orbis isn't the final name, but PlayStation 4 is out. Second, games will look like Lucasarts' Star Wars: 1313. Finally, no backwards compatibility in the new console but classics will be in the cloud.

While the PlayStation 3 celebrates a major milestone even as its sun starts to fade, rumors about the heir to the PlayStation throne continue to leak out of the game development world. The latest details about the fourth generation machine come from Europe, shedding new light on how the PlayStation 4 or Orbis will support 4K resolution output, how used games will be handled by the console, and just how Sony will leverage the recently purchased Gaikai cloud-gaming service in its machine.

British magazine PSM3 (the details of which were reprinted by German website The G Net) provides a wealth of new information to supplement a recent story about the console that confirmed Sony will not call its console PlayStation 4. The reason: The Japanese word for 4 is “shi,” which also happens to mean death. While it might seem silly to break from nearly two decades of successful branding because a two words sound alike, it’s important to remember how branding has negatively affected the Xbox and Xbox 360 in Japan. Where “X” marks the spot in the US, it’s a negative sign in Japanese culture. (Hence why the circle button on PlayStation controllers is used to confirm most actions in Japanese games, not the X button like in the US.)

PSM3’s source claims that the device, which Sony refers to by the codename Orbis, will play games that look similar to recent tech demos for games like Star Wars 1313 and Square-Enix’s Agni’s Philosophy demo. These games, however, will not run in 4K resolution as has been hinted at in the past. If 4K playback support does make it into the final version of the fourth generation PlayStation, it will be for video.

Sony will be taking more severe measures against piracy. Previous rumors about the Orbis suggested that Sony might try to block used, disc-based games from working on the console. This new report claims that it will do so by linking each individual game to a specific PlayStation Network account.

Unlike past Sony consoles, Orbis will not have backwards compatibility with PlayStation 3, at least not with Blu-ray disc games. Sony will instead offer classic games through a cloud-based streaming service run through Gaikai’s infrastructure.

Of all the rumors surrounding the next PlayStation, its lack of backwards compatibility is the most disappointing. PlayStation creator Ken Kutaragi was insistent that every PlayStation made be able to play the previous consoles’ discs at a hardware level. Obviously Sony started moving away from this philosophy swiftly with the very first hardware revisions of the PlayStation 3, but it’s still sad.

The PlayStation 4, Orbis, or whatever Sony decides to name it, is expected to debut at E3 2013.

Xbox 720 to offer Kinect 2.0 and Blu-ray drive

Xbox 720 to offer Kinect 2.0 and Blu-ray drive, says Xbox World
The next-gen console will come with beefier hardware and a slew of other enhancements, says the magazine.
Lance Whitney  November 19, 2012

Microsoft's Xbox 720 will unveil a new version of Kinect, a Blu-ray drive, and an A/V port for watching and recording broadcast TV, at least according to details leaked by Xbox World.

Promising "next-gen secrets inside," the latest issue of the U.K.-based magazine dug up several reported specs on Microsoft's next console.

First off, the Xbox 720 will introduce Kinect 2.0.

Microsoft has been as publicly mum about the next version of Kinect as it has about all details concerning the new Xbox. But a company document leaked in June touted a higher level of accuracy, stereo imaging, better voice recognition, and the ability to track four players at once.

A Blu-ray drive will also be part of the package, a rumor that's been around for a few years now.

Other features will include directional audio, an input and output for watching and recording TV shows, and an "innovative controller," noted gaming news site (CVG). Last February, Xbox World said that the redesigned controller would come with a built-in HD touch screen.

Microsoft is also eyeing AR (augmented reality) glasses for the 720 at some future stage.

Codenamed Durango, the new Xbox would be powered by a CPU with "four hardware cores, each divided into four logical cores" and 8GB of RAM.

Dan Dawkins, Xbox World's editor in chief, told CVG that "Xbox World has been at the cutting edge of Durango coverage for over 12 months. Unless something really dramatic changes, everything...will be revealed long before E3 in June."

Review: Wii U isn’t perfect, but worth the price

M4d Ski11z
November 19th, 2012

Wii U
Made by: Nintendo
Price: $299 for 8gb model with Gamepad controller; $349 for 32gb premium model with Gamepad controller and “Nintendo Land” game
Available: Now
Available at: Major retailers but supplies are very limited if you didn’t preorder the unit.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the Nintendo Wii U will be one of the biggest (and most sought-after) gifts this holiday season. There’s no doubt that finding a Wii U won’t be hard. With stores sold out of the console, the real question is how much will the device cost you?

Nintendo enjoyed a huge consumer demand for their newest console, the Wii. The Wii, which included the popular WiiSports, sold millions of units, most of it from word of mouth. Mothers and older citizens loved it. Children loved it. Nongamers enjoyed the Wii. Hardcore gamers, however, often were skeptical of the Wii’s success. It wasn’t made for the hardcore players – it was made – and pushed – by people who weren’t traditional gamers. Hardcore gamers wanted HD graphics, action mixed with violence and awesome performance in video games.

Nintendo, faced with criticism and sagging sales, decided to revamp the Wii. They decided to offer HD graphics, increased performance and hardcore games to win back veteran gamers – and have achieved their goal with the Wii U.

The Wii U not only offers great graphics (up to 1080P, via HDMI) and the ability to play Wii games on the console (and use Wii accessories, such as the Wii Remote), but it offers a new way to play games. The controller, called the Gamepad, offers the ability to play Wii U games on the Gamepad’s screen. On a few games, you can use the Gamepad as a second display, showing a map on it while your main television screen shows the actual game.

Not a fan of what’s on television? You can use the Gamepad to watch Netflix, Hulu Plus and YouTube (at press time, these features were not available to try out), surf the Web and visit and buy more Wii U games. You can also program the Gamepad as a universal remote. You can control your television inputs with the Gamepad, volume and change channels. It had no problem finding my television maker (Vizio).

As slick as the Gamepad is, action games with dual displays (this can be disabled) – the same action on both displays – can be very distracting. When I played “Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge,” I played the game on the Gamepad as it was shown on the television screen. However, duplicate displays are only good if you are watching another TV station. It can be very distracting and your eye will hate switching between your television and the Gamepad. While I played “Ninja Gaiden,” the action was so intense my mind had a very hard time figuring out which display to keep an eye on.

Another drawback for the Wii U? You can’t play your original Wii games on the Gamepad. As slick as the Gamepad is, you have to dust off your Wii accessories and sync them if you want to play “Trauma Center” or “Red Steel” – or even “Wii Fit.” Yes, you can play your Wii game, just not on your Gamepad.

If you aren’t comfortable getting your game on with the Gamepad? You can buy a Pro Controller – which resembles a Microsoft Xbox 360 controller – and play several games with it. It gives you the look and feel of a controller that several console gamers are used to.

Overall, I have been bombarded with questions about is the Wii U worth the upgrade, especially from people who own original Wiis that haven’t been turned on in years. After spending time with the Wii U, I think it’s safe to say it’s definitely WORTH the price. If you have Wii games and accessories already, you are good to go. From the new party games – “Nintendo Land” to the action games – “ZombiU” and “Ninja Gaiden 3” – the Wii U offers something for every gamer. The only challenge you will likely face is finding on for the original retail price.

My recommendation? BUY.

Dan Houser of Grand Theft Auto

How Dan Houser helped turn Grand Theft Auto into a cultural phenomenon
Dan Houser and his brother Sam are responsible for some of the most fascinating (and controversial) video games ever
Keith Stuart
The Guardian, Sunday 18 November 2012

There isn't another video game firm in the world like Rockstar Games. Founded in 1998 by Dan Houser and his brother Sam, it has been responsible for some of the most fascinating, successful and controversial video games ever, including the groundbreaking Grand Theft Auto series (120m sales and counting) and the vast wild west adventure, Red Dead Redemption.

Yet little is known about the inner workings of this multinational publisher and developer. The company does not attend industry events such as the huge E3 exhibition in Los Angeles, and unlike most execs in this industry, the Housers rarely court publicity for themselves.

I meet with Dan in New York, at an astounding Lower East Side apartment owned and rented out by the horror film director Marcus Nispel. Rockstar is in the process of introducing the press to its latest title Grand Theft Auto V, and clearly wants to make an impression – hence the venue, and hence the presence of Dan Houser for a handful of interviews. He is, it turns out, affable, passionate and hugely eloquent about game design and culture. He also looks tired. When I ask how far in advance the team starts planning its next games, he laughs wearily. "We don't start until the very end of a project. At the moment, the thought of even doing another Grand Theft Auto is so appalling – we've got so much work left to do to finish this one. It's overwhelming!"

It was Sam who kicked the Rockstar story off. In 1996 he was heading the interactive division of music label BMG, which was experimenting in the new-fangled games business. Sam had heard about developer DMA Design, based in Dundee, which was working on a crazy crime action game named Grand Theft Auto, in which players drove around a city, robbing banks and fighting cops. It had 2D graphics and looked dated compared to everything else. "What did I think when I first saw it?" says Dan. "Well to begin with I had the natural reaction – 'what is Sam talking about?'! The code would literally run for 10 seconds and crash. But when you started playing you understood the magic."

Released in 1997, Grand Theft Auto was a modest success, but BMG was losing money and desperate to get out of games, so it sold its interactive division to Take Two for a paltry $9m. Take Two invited Sam Houser to start up a new publishing arm in New York; Sam agreed, on the condition he could do it under his brand, Rockstar. The next release was the seminal Grand Theft Auto III, which switched to modern 3D polygonal graphics, added a licensed CD soundtrack and became the biggest game of 2001. Subsequent sequels, including the 80s-obsessed GTA: Vice City and the darker GTA IV, pushed boundaries of game design and structure.

Dan Houser is a lead writer on all Rockstar titles. He works with a small team, including Rupert Humphries (son of comedian Barry Humphries), to create the huge scripts and interlocking stories that give shape to the company's giant open-world titles. At first, the studio was hugely influenced by movies such as Brian de Palma's Scarface, Reservoir Dogs and Boyz N the Hood, but as the GTA series went on, Houser says they began to find their own voice.

"You know, with those first 3D games, we were trying to make something that had the aspirations to be like a movie," he says. "I don't want oversell this, but by GTA IV, we wanted to try to find something that could be better than movies in a way – more alive and more vibrant. It was time to move on and do our own thing."

GTA V, due out next spring, is the sprawling and impressively intricate realisation of that ambition. The game is set in Los Santos, Rockstar's Los Angeles, and features three very different criminals seeking to pull off a series of daring heists. The world is vast, taking in a whole city as well as mountain ranges, deserts and outback towns. Characters will have unprecedented freedom – flying helicopters, scuba diving, even playing sports. It is astonishingly ambitous. How does the team begin such a massive creative project? "For us, it starts with the characters," says Houser. "The story is always driven by the characters – it's always got to feel like someone you want to be propelled through the game world with. Then we'll find a cool, interesting and amusing cast to juxtapose them with, and make sure we've got a good range of types. If the process feels organic to us then we're heading in the right direction."

For Dan, the direction now is toward something entirely new. We talk a little about how, in the digital age, interactive and linear content are merging: families and couples now share games in the same way they once shared television. He sees GTA V as at the vanguard of a new entertainment era. "This game, if we get it right, will be a step toward some kind of organic living soap opera," says Houser. "You have these three characters and they're all living when you're not with them. What that means, we don't really know yet, we're only getting it working for the first time. But it feels to us something powerful."

Throughout the 90s, the Grand Theft Auto titles were targeted by tabloids and rightwing pressure groups for their depiction of casual violence. It all exploded in 2005 with the release of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas; Sam Houser and several members of the development team were interrogated by the Federal Trade Commission when an explicit sex scene, which had been cut from the game but left hidden in its source code, was discovered by hackers. A year later, the company was let off with a warning, but the experience left its mark.

"It was draining and upsetting – a tough time in the company," says Houser. And that's all he'll say, but the emotion is there – and in some ways this terrifying period seems to have shaped Rockstar's relationship with the press, and with the outside world. He sighs heavily.

"The massive social decay that we were supposed to induce hasn't happened. So in that regard, a lot of those debates that used to go on, they're not such a big deal now. We never felt that we were being attacked for the content, we were being attacked for the medium, which felt a little unfair. If all of this stuff had been put into a book or a movie, people wouldn't have blinked an eye. And there are far bigger issues to worry about in society than this."

But the brothers' reluctance to go in front of the media is about more than their past experiences, it's about how their company works. "Our skill has been in creating that environment where hundreds of people can flourish," Houser says. "It is far better than my ability or otherwise to write, or Sam's to tune games – creating the environment and working together is what makes us proud. Journalists are obsessed with biography stories, but it's not relevant to us. It's always been about the company. Every different person here has their own weaknesses, their own hang-ups but together we produce magic."

It sounds like company PR, but Houser is earnest and honest. The team is everything, Rockstar is a gang; and its relationship with the world is defined by that. He is also unexpectedly self-effacing. Towards the end of the interview I ask him what he'd be doing now if GTA had failed. He leans forward, opens another Coke and thinks for a second. "I can't answer your question because I've always done this," he jokes. "My family thought I was a loser, so my brother gave me a job and I've spent the last 15 years trying to justify it. I've done that to the best of my ability – and it's been enormous fun."


(or Brumalia)
A Winter Solstice Ritual
Apollonius Sophistes
© 1996

I. Equipment & Supplies
II. Preparation
III. Location
IV. Timing
V. Ritual

This ritual compresses the Consualia (for Consus, God of the Storage Bin), the Saturnalia (for Saturn, God of Sowing), and the Opalia (for Ops, Goddess of Plenty) into a single festival, a Brumalia, or Winter Solstice (Bruma) ritual. The Saturnalia Chants are available on a separate page, which may be printed for use in the ritual.

The primary sources for this ritual are Macrobius' Saturnalia (Bk. I, Chs. 7, 8, 10, 11) and Scullard's Festivals and Ceremonies of the Roman Republic (pp. 205-7). (There is additional information available on the Saturnalia, Consualia and Opalia; see De Saturno & Jano Tractatus for background information on Saturn.)

This ritual is dedicated to the Gods and may be used for any nonprofit purpose, provided that its source is acknowledged.

I. Equipment & Supplies

Saturnus Image/Simulacrum Saturni Saturnus should be an old, dignified but jovial man; his usual attribute is the sickle. For this ritual, the image needs to be standing and have legs that can be bound. A traditional Father Christmas or St. Nicholas may work well. Look for an image with nature symbols (e.g. plants) and symbols of bounty (e.g. a cornucopia or bag of presents). If possible, the image should have a reservoir inside capable of holding oil; if this is not possible, have a separate vessel that can be placed in front of or behind the Saturnus.

Ops Image/Simulacrum Opis (optional) Ops is Saturnus' wife and sister, so they should look about the same age; She is an Earth Mother. A "Mrs. Claus" image may work, if you have used Father Christmas for Saturnus.

Consus Image/Simulacrum Consi (optional) There is no traditional image for Consus, so far as I am aware, so use an image compatible with Saturnus and Ops. Attributes associated with grain are very appropriate.

Candles/Cerei A number of small wax candles, of sufficient number that everyone can keep one.

Corn Oil/Oleum Frumentarium Enough to fill reservoir in Saturn.

Oil Lamp/Lucernus In which to burn corn oil. (A lamp of the sort Father Time, or the Tarot Hermit, is shown carrying, is especially appropriate.)

Woolen Yarn/Filum Lanae (several feet) For binding Saturn's feet. It is best to have ten pieces (for the ten months to December), each long enough to tie a bow around Saturn's feet.

Self-setting Clay, Play-Dough, etc. For making Sigillaria ("little figures").

Ingredients for Decorated Cookies At least one cookie for every participant.

Treasure Chest/Thesaurus Large enough to hold the grains and pennies. Optionally, large enough to hold cookies and treats to be produced "magically."

Seed corn, Barley, Other Grains Try to use uncracked grains.

Pennies (optional) Use shiny, new pennies.

Cauldron of Local Soil Enough soil to hold all the candles, pushed into it.

Ritual Robes For the formal sacrifice, Romans wore a toga. Worshippers provide their own ritual robes.

Banqueting Robes (optional) For the banquet after the sacrifice, Romans changed into the Synthesis, a brightly-colored garment of light muslin, like a tunic on top, but loose like a toga on the bottom. Normally, worshippers provide their own banqueting robes.

Caps/Pilei (optional) At the banquet it is customary to wear a red Pileus, a loose peaked cap of felt (e.g. the Phrygian cap, the "Liberty cap" or bonnet rouge of the French Revolution). Alternately, one may use store-bought or home-made party hats, or Santa hats! According to tradition, men wear the peak folded forward, while women wear it folded back over their necks. There should be enough Pilei for everyone.

II. Preparation

Saturnus Image

If this is the first time the Saturnus has been used, bind his feet with lengths of yarn and consecrate it; if the Saturnus has already been used, it will still be bound from the last Saturnalia. Tie simple bows, not too tight, so that they will be easy to loosen.


Make the cookies and decorate them with simple faces; they should look similar to the Sigillaria (see below). Make at least enough for all the participants. (A bean may be baked into one of the cookies as a means of selecting the Ruler of the Saturnalia.) Other small treats (e.g. candies, especially candy corn kernels and chocolate "gold coins") may also be provided. For the "magical transformation," wrap the cookies and treats in a cloth to make a flat package that can be placed on the bottom of the Treasury before the ritual.


Make flat, oval faces, of self-setting clay, play-dough or something similar; make at least one for every participant. Make a hole for hanging in each one, so that later, for the Dionysia, they can be hung on a pine tree.
III. Location

It is best if the Saturnalia can be conducted out of doors, where the participants can touch the Earth. If this is not possible, the Cauldron of Earth can be used.

IV. Timing

The text of the Sacrifice takes about 15 minutes; the actual ritual will be longer, depending on the number of worshippers. There are several options for the date on which to hold the Saturnalia:

According to Julian Date (Dec. 17)

In the Julian calendar, the Saturnalia took place on Dec. 17; it was preceded by the Consualia (Dec. 15) and followed by the Opalia (Dec. 19). The celebrations typically lasted for a week (Dec. 17-23), ending just before the (late imperial) festival for Sol Invictus (Unconquered Sun) on Dec. 25 (the Solstice in the pre-Julian calendar). Before the reforms of Julius Caesar, the Saturnalia and Opalia may have been on the same day (14 before the Kalends of Jan.).

According to Solstice (Dec. 21)

At one time Dec. 17, the Julian date of the Saturnalia, was the first day of Capricornus, marking the coldest season. Since the sun now enters Capricorn on Dec. 21, the Solstice, it would be appropriate to celebrate the Saturnalia on the Solstice; the seven days of celebration would then end Dec. 27.

According to Christmas Season (Dec. 25)

The week of Saturnalian celebrations fits nicely into the Christmas-New Year week, with the Saturnalia falling on Christmas day. A variant of this is: Consualia (Dec 21/solstice), Saturnalia (Dec 24/Xmas Eve - so gifts come after ritual), Opalia (Dec 26 or 27); Saturnalia celebrations (Dec 25- 31); Lesser Dionysia (Dec 31/New Year's Eve); then Roman New Year celebrations.

V. Ritual

A. Terminology and Notation
B. Preliminaries
C. Sacrificium (Sacrifice)
D. Convivium (Banquet)
E. Closing the Temple
F. End of Saturnalia
A. Terminology and Notation

"Sacerdos" (S) refers to the officiating priest. The ritual is conducted Graeco Ritu (by Greek Rite), that is, with uncovered head.
"Cultores" (C) refers to the other worshippers participating in the rite.

B. Preliminaries

C: When gathering, worshippers greet each other with "Bona Saturnalia!"
C: Before going to the temple, it is appropriate to visit the store room or pantry, open it and give thanks for the stores. (This corresponds to the Consualia before the Saturnalia.)

S: Erects the temple (casts the circle) in the usual way. For example:

We circle round creating sacred space,
invoking from the Heavens holy grace.
We call the Gods to guard our solemn rite,
and ward this hallowed ground with walls of light.
Let sky above and earth below unite,
a bond established by Olympic might.
Let fear and discord leave without a trace,
and peace prevail within this holy place.
Let word be deed by this decree.
As it is said, so must it be!
(Sit verbum factum hoc decreto.
Ut dictum est, sic statim fiat!)

C: During the procession, as each worshipper enters the temple, he or she takes a handful of grain and pennies.

C. Sacrificium (Sacrifice)

Condens (Putting Away)
Edens (Bringing Forth)

1. Prologue

S: When everyone has formed a circle, S says:
Welcome to the Saturnalia!
The Circle of the Year is cut in fourths,
and in the ancient lands of Greece and Rome
the darkening time from autumn equinox
to winter solstice was the time to plow
and plant the ground, to store away the seeds.
When this was done the people rested through
the winter months, until the Sun returned.
Three ancient Gods are honored at this time:
Saturnus, Ops and Cônsus are Their names.
Now listen to the Myth of Saturn's reign:
Before the mighty Gods that rule the world
from high Olympus' snowy peak were born,
Saturnus was the king of all the Gods
and Ops, His sister, was His wife and queen.
But when the time had come to yield His throne
in favor of a younger God, His son,
then Father Saturn would not step aside.
A fight ensued between the old and new,
Till Jove had thrown Saturnus from the sky.
He tumbled down to Earth, and with His wife
He made a ship and sailed to this, our land.
He taught the people many useful arts,
to save the seeds and sow them in the ground,
so we need never have to search for food.
He showed us how to breed our animals
so we might always have their meat and fur,
so they would help to plow the fertile Earth.
Saturnus first taught folk to strike bright coins
from shining silver, glittering gold and bronze.
He showed how money might be put away,
and saved, and put to use another day.
In these and other ways Saturnus made
our lives much easier and free.
His happy reign was called the Golden Age,
when there was food enough for everyone,
and people shared the bounty that they had,
and no one ever stole or fought or lied.
But when the end had come to Saturn's reign,
He wisely chose to set aside His crown.
He sailed away beyond the Northern Wind,
to Hyperborea, where He now sleeps,
upon a hidden island at the Pole,
where He awaits another Golden Age.
But till that happy time is come again,
in this, the coldest season of the year,
we go in thought to Saturn's snowy realm
to wake from sleep the ancient kindly king,
and ask Him once again to walk with us,
and let us live for this short time with Him,
enjoying blessings of His Golden Age.
I wish you, "Bona Saturnalia!"
C: All reply:
Bona Saturnalia!

2. Condens (Putting Away)

S: Slowly fills Saturn Image with oil and explains:
When Saturn rules, all things are turned around,
and everything becomes its opposite.
Just once each year this Image is filled up;
it's empty while Saturnus lies asleep.
We feed Him with the oil that's pressed from corn,
the golden nectar from the nuggets born.
So also we in wisdom store away
our energy to use another day.
Drink deep, Saturne, of this golden oil!
Return our gift and bless our sacred soil!

S: After a pause, S places Thesausus forward and says:
Saturnus has an aid, the God of Storage Bins,
who guards the seed corn; Consus is His name,
which means to hide things, mostly underground.
We open up the secret storage chest
and place the seed corn safely into it.
From what we've reaped, we always save a bit,
uneaten, using it to seed new growth.
A portion of our hard-won money, too,
we put away to use another day.
And even some of our best thoughts are hid,
to later bring to light when they can grow.
All this and more is hidden in the Earth,
committed to the care of Mother Ops.
Remember all the bounty you have reaped;
Consider what it's wise to save inside.
Begin to circle sunwise now before
the altar; each time that you come to it,
deposit some, not all, of what you hold,
and place it in the sacred Treasury.
Keep circling till you've given everything
away, and while you circle, chant these words:

"Save the seed corn for the sowing;
Plant the seed to start it growing."

S: When everyone has been around at least three times, S says:
But now your weary work is almost done;
commit to Consus all the rest you hold.

3. Interlude

S: When everyone has empty hands, S closes the Thesaurus, and says:
You may stop chanting now; your seeds are safe!
In darkness they must lie until the time
when Sun returns to wake the seeds from sleep.
So also Saturn sleeps upon His bed,
awaiting to be waked and called to come,
to leave the Pole and bring His gifts to us,
abundant blessings of the coming light.
December was the tenth month of the year,
in ancient Roman times, the year's last month.
And as the baby hides within the womb
for nine full months, but sees the light of day
within the tenth, so also everything
will be reborn beneath December's Sun.

S: The Treasury may be moved back and replaced by the Cauldron of Earth.

4. Edens (Bringing Forth)

S: Pass Candles and Sigillaria to first worshipper on left, so they are passed around sunwise to all adults, including back to S. S explains:
Let each adult pass on the gifts, around
the sacred circle, moving like the Sun.
Since ancient times these gifts have been exchanged:
the waxen candles, calling forth the Sun,
the little figures, symbols of our souls.
These inexpensive gifts have been decreed
by Saturn, so that no one will feel poor.
S: If children are participating, S says:
Now give your little figure to a child,
to any child you like, but please make sure
that every child receives a little face;
the waxen candle must be kept by you.
C: The adults give their Sigillaria to children. If no children are present, the adults keep their Sigillaria.
S: Lights candle of first worshipper to his left, and bids him or her to pass the flame to the next so that it passes sunwise around the circle and back to S. S says:

Now as the Sun revolves around the Earth,
we pass the light around the circle thus,
and as each year the Sun returns to us,
the candle flame comes round to bring rebirth.
The lights remind us how Saturnus led
us from the murky night of ignorance,
and freed us from the dismal darkness of
starvation, to the light of wiser ways.

S: When his candle has been lit, completing circle, says:
Now come around and let the adults put
their candles in this cauldron filled with Earth.
And come around and let the children place
their little figures in the Treasury.
In dedicating symbols of our souls,
we dedicate ourselves to Saturn's work,
but give ourselves through children to the task.
C: The adults plant their candles in the cauldron of Earth; the children place their Sigillaria on the altar. S does same with his.
S: When this is done, S pours oil from Saturn into the oil lamp and lights it, while saying:

Saturnus brings the Sun's bright golden light
that wakens hidden seeds to come to life.
The seed is nourished in the fertile Earth,
by Saturn's wife, the Queen of Plenty, Ops.
S: When the lamp is lit, S says:
This time of year we loosen Saturn's bonds.
The ancient God awakens from His sleep,
and rules the Earth as in the Golden Age.
Now circle round again and say this chant:

"Bring the light to wake the seed;
Let the shoot from earth be freed."

Continue circling sunwise, faster now;
continue chanting; call the holy Sun!

S: As each woolen bond is untied from Saturn's feet, S prays:
Saturne, Ancient Father, hear our prayer!
As we untie Your woolen bonds this year,
so let the hidden seeds be brought to birth,
and let Your Golden Age return to Earth.
S: When energy has been raised sufficiently, calls out:
Now stop, and all call out three times with me!

Io Saturnalia!
Io Saturnalia!
Io Saturnalia!
S: Produces "by magic" the cookies and/or other treats. For example, S opens the Thesaurus and pulls up wrapped cookies through the deposited seeds, pennies and Sigillaria, opening it to reveal the goodies. While doing this S says:

Behold the gift of Saturn! See His work!
Behold how seed and money are transformed!
And see how carefully saved and hidden seeds
become the fruits that satisfy our needs.
Come forward now and taste the fragrant fruit,
the gift of Saturn and His sister Ops.
But share it with the people near to you,
for that's the law in Saturn's Golden Age.
Continue to enjoy till all is gone.
But don't neglect the Gods when all is well;
first touch the sacred Earth of Mother Ops,
and looking skyward where Saturnus dwells,
remember these two Gods and Consus too.

C: Each comes forward one at a time, touches the earth and looks skyward in prayer, then takes a cookie or other treat.
S: Says "Bona Saturnalia" to each celebrant as they come forward.

C: Should break off pieces and share with one another. Drink may also be offered and shared. Blessings may be exchanged, such as:

"May you always have enough, and some to share."
"May you never thirst!"
"Bona Saturnalia!"
S: When everyone has received, S touches Earth and offers formal thanks to Saturnus, Ops and Consus:
You gracious Gods: Saturnus, Consus, Ops,
accept our thanks and look on us with love.
And let us see that seed corn must be saved,
that we need light to bring our seeds to fruit.
As we have done this day, so every day!
C: Repeat:
As we have done this day, so every day!

5. Epilogue

S: Speaking more informally, says:
We very soon shall have our festive feast,
our little taste of Saturn's Golden Age.
Rejoice tonight for every rule's reversed!
Please dress in something comfortable
and wear a silly Saturnalia cap!
S: May produce paper caps for those that don't have their own Pilei. S continues:
Soon one of you will be the chosen one,
the Saturnalia Ruler, picked by Chance,
to be the Lord or Lady of Misrule!
Before you leave the temple, will you please
accept a candle, take it with you too;
this way you'll take a little of the light,
the blessings of the Saturnalia.
The children too should take with them a gift,
a little earthen image, if they want;
the rest will be donated to the Earth.

The rite is ended, now all join with me,
and raise the sacred cry of Saturnalia:

Io Saturnalia! Io Saturnalia! Io Saturnalia!
D. Convivium (Banquet)

All: Change into informal clothes for the Convivium. The traditional robe is the Synthesis and the hat is the Pileus.
S: Chooses the Saturnalia Ruler a bean baked into one of the cookies, by a specially marked candle or by some other means.

E. Closing the Temple

S: Closes the temple in the usual way. This may be done after the Convivium, if it is held in the temple, or before it, if it is held elsewhere.
F. End of Saturnalia

S: At the end of the Saturnalia season (traditionally, 7 days), thanks Saturnus for His gifts and rebinds the image, keeping it this way until the next Saturnalia.

Temporary Home for the Animals

For Pet Owners Left Homeless by Hurricane, a Temporary Home for the Animals
November 18, 2012

Brendan Scott flicked his fingers though the cage to reassure Raven, his 7-year-old black cat. With his parents standing behind him, Brendan, 15, was trying not to cry.

Two puppies that were displaced from the Rockaways play in their cage.

“He’s like a little brother,” he said, softly, of Raven. The cat and his orange companion in the next cage, Haley, had been bouncing from home to home — as their owners had — since Hurricane Sandy ravaged the family’s house in Broad Channel, Queens.

On Sunday, Brendan and his parents, Ray and Michelle Scott, were among dozens of people who left their pets behind at another temporary home, a 20,000-square-foot emergency boarding center that opened over the weekend in a vacant warehouse in Ocean Hill, Brooklyn.

Run with affectionate precision by a team of disaster specialists from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the shelter housed 137 animals by Sunday evening and was expected to house a few hundred, if not more, before the week was out. The center can accommodate up to 700 animals, which are permitted to stay for 30 days free of charge, with full veterinary care, until their owners can reclaim them.

“At least I know they’re safe, that’s what matters,” Ray Scott said at the entrance. Brendan added: “I’m going to come every weekend to visit.”

As the weeks of anxious uncertainty drag on for the tens of thousands of New Yorkers left homeless by the storm, pet owners have been making heart-wrenching decisions about what to do with their animals.

Jim Buonamano, 73, spent several bitter nights sleeping in his flooded, powerless home in Belle Harbor, Queens, while taking care of April, a 6-year-old white German shepherd, and Bella, a 2-year-old pit bull. He contacted the city’s pet hot line after the storm, and two weeks later help arrived.

On Sunday, a man and a woman from Manhattan, who simply showed up in the Rockaways with a station wagon and a desire to volunteer, had been directed to deliver April and Mr. Buonamano to the Brooklyn shelter. Then they all went back for Bella.

“I’d rather she be someplace warm, even if I don’t see her for a month,” said Mr. Buonamano, who is now staying with a brother. “She could use a bath, since she was in flood water, too.”

April’s arrival highlighted the effort, involving nonprofit organizations, private shelter operators, celebrity donors, veterinarians and unaffiliated volunteers, to mitigate the suffering of both humans and animals.

“The silver lining of a disaster is that some of these animals have never seen a veterinarian, or it had been a while,” said Matt Bershadker, the senior vice president of the A.S.P.C.A.’s anti-cruelty group, which oversees field investigations.

Veterinarians from New York and others from around the country examined every animal brought in. They were aided by animal behaviorists. Taped to the cage of a Rottweiler mix was a warning for handlers: “Very Scared.”

Tim Rickey, the A.S.P.C.A.’s senior director of the shelter, said: “They go through much worse than humans because they don’t understand it.”

After nearly two weeks of negotiations, the warehouse’s landlord agreed on a rent of $20,000 a month, A.S.P.C.A. officials said, adding that a $500,000 donation from the celebrity chef Rachael Ray, who also has contributed supplies from her line of pet food, helped defray some costs.

Forty-four cats and dogs were delivered from a Sean Casey Animal Rescue emergency shelter in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, on Sunday, with their transport overseen by the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, an animal welfare charity that is not affiliated with the city.

There were also 48 animals whose owners had yet to be found, brought in from shelters run by Animal Care and Control from around the city. The facilities of that organization, which has a contract with the city to pick up strays, are already overcrowded. The organization has come under criticism in the past because it euthanizes some unwanted animals. No animals affected by Hurricane Sandy were on that list, said Richard Gentles, a spokesman for the organization.

The animals who arrived without owners were to be kept in a quarantined section of the warehouse, because they could have been exposed to disease, Mr. Bershadker said.

The Mayor’s Alliance, through its Wheels of Hope program, has spent several days pleading with owners to put their pets in the new A.S.P.C.A. center as they leave evacuation centers.

When the Queens College evacuation center closed over the weekend, an older man staying there with his fuzzy Pomeranian, Buddy, pleaded for his pet not to be sent to the A.S.P.C.A. “He said, ‘I lost everything in this hurricane,’ ” Debbie Fierro of the Mayor’s Alliance recalled. “’The only thing I have is my dog.”

Sharon Hunter, 51, was even more adamant that she stay with her 2-year-old ferret, Trouble.

Ms. Hunter had ridden out the storm with Trouble and her 10-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, on the seventh floor of a New York City Housing Authority building in the Rockaways. With no heat and electricity, she agreed to leave a week later only because she could take the ferret to the Queens College emergency shelter.

After nearly two weeks, Ms. Hunter said, shelter officials enticed her away with a free hotel room in Manhattan, but only on the condition that the ferret went to the shelter in Brooklyn. Ms. Hunter said she resisted, but exhaustion and the need for privacy won out Saturday night. She ended up at the Carlton Hotel, on Madison Avenue.

Trouble was enjoying the semi-privacy of a wood-paneled office on Sunday, keeping company with a parakeet and a rabbit, each in its cage.

A version of this article appeared in print on November 19, 2012, on page A14 of the New York edition with the headline: For Pet Owners Left Homeless by Hurricane, a Temporary Home for the Animals.

Konformist Book Club: Lady in Distress

Top Secret Mission Module TS003
By Mike Carr & Corey Koebernick
Publisher: TSR Hobbies, Inc
Publication Date: 1982

Amazon URL (Used copies only):

Robalini's Note:

While discussing terrorism with Kenn Thomas of, I mentioned to him I had blueprints to the MS Achille Lauro.  He found this fascinating, and I explained in 1982, I bought a module for the Top Secret roleplaying game about a terrorist hijacking of a cruise ship, and the designers had used the Achille Lauro as their model.  This was three years before the actual terrorist plot.  While Wikipedia claims the ship was "based" of the Achille Lauro blueprints, it's likely the game designers just copied the blueprints completely.  KT suspects, with good reason, the module was probably bought and used by the PLO terrorists to study the ship.  The blueprints should be in the upcoming book Popular Parapolitics by Kenn.


"Mission aborted! On their way to raid the secret headquarters of a gang of international terrorists, a group of top agents is diverted to an even more critical danger. A luxury liner carrying microbiologist Dr. Miguel Salcedo, and samples of a new and deadly strain of bacteria, has been captured by terrorists. The agents must race against time to neutralise the terrorist, rescue the doctor, and regain the bacteria before it can be released upon he unsuspecting world."

Wikipedia's info on the module:

This module's plot involved agents parasailing to rescue a hijacked cruise ship. Interestingly, the module's ship plans were based on the MS Achille Lauro, which was seized by PLO terrorists in 1985 and resulted in the murder of one passenger.

Agreement on BCS playoff structure reached

George Schroeder

Beginning in 2014, there will be a four-team, seeded college football playoff
Academic performance of teams will be factored into revenue distribution
Television broadcast rights and revenue have yet to be determined

November 12. 2012 - DENVER – College football's new playoff system will feature only six marquee bowl games, but will guarantee access to a team from the five non-power conferences, the BCS' presidential oversight committee decided in a brief meeting Monday afternoon.

The presidents also approved the general framework for revenue distribution and gave conference commissioners the go-ahead to secure a TV rights deal.

The smaller conferences known as the "Group of Five" – Big East, Conference USA, Mid-American Conference, Mountain West and Sun Belt – had pushed for addition of a seventh bowl beginning in 2014, when college football moves to a four-team playoff. The Big 12 and Pac-12 also were in favor of the extra bowl, which would have allowed a second guaranteed slot for those conferences' teams. But with little interest from potential TV partners, commissioners ultimately decided against the idea.

"It was a possibility up until the end," said Big East commissioner Mike Aresco of the seventh bowl. "But this was a better plan for us. It gives us the same guaranteed access for our conference champion. We'll work out the revenue. We'll be fine."

The commissioners were also given approval by the presidential oversight committee to secure a TV rights deal. Current rights-holder ESPN is in an exclusive negotiating window that ends later this week, according to BCS executive director Bill Hancock. Sports Business Journal reported last week the network was close to a deal worth as much as $500 million annually and perhaps as much as $7.3 billion over the life of the 12-year contract. But there was at least some sentiment to test the value with potential bidders like Fox, NBC or Turner.

Navigate Research, a Chicago-based firm that measures the value of marketing and media rights, originally estimated the package might be worth from $400-450 million annually. On the open market, Navigate's director of analytics Jeff Nelson estimated the annual value could reach $550-600 million.

"It's clearly very, very valuable," Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said Monday.

The current BCS TV deal pays $180 million a year.

Ten percent of total revenue will be tied to teams' academic performance rates (APR). If a team's APR falls below an undetermined threshold, it would lose that portion of the revenue. Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman said the portion is expected to be designated for academic purposes.

The question of how the revenue will be distributed has apparently been settled, at least in broad terms. Though presidents and commissioners at the Hyatt Regency would not discuss the terms because they hadn't been finalized, reported Sunday the "Group of Five" would split at least 20 percent of the overall bowl revenue.

"There will be plenty of money for everybody," BCS executive director Bill Hancock said. "The bottom line is 'more.' "

Northern Illinois president John Peters, who represented the Mid-American Conference, said the vote on revenue distribution was unanimous.

"We think it's fair," Peters said. "It does recognize that some conferences contribute more in a revenue way. … From my point of view for my conference, what it means is more."

Said the Big East's Aresco: "The fairness aspect is definitely there."

More important, according to Peters and Aresco, was the guaranteed access to the six games that will make up college football's upper-tier bowls. Big East senior associate commissioner Nick Carparelli tweeted: "It wasn't about a 7th bowl. It was about a guaranteed spot. It is better for everyone if there are 6 bowls. Mission accomplished! "

Counting future members of "Group of Five" conferences, the Big East champion would have qualified in seven of the past nine years.

Meanwhile, the Big 12 and Pac-12 had pushed for the seventh bowl as a way to secure another guaranteed slot for their teams, like the SEC and Big Ten secured in a recent deal with the Orange Bowl. But Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby noted that in 11 of the past 14 years, the Big 12 had two or three teams ranked in the top 12 of the BCS standings. And Scott said: "It's no longer about access. It's about a four-team playoff."

All six bowls will rotate as semifinals for the playoff. The postseason will feature three "contract" bowls – meaning games with tie-ins to conference affiliations (Rose, Sugar, Orange) – and three "host" bowls – games without tie-ins. Those games will be played New Year's Eve and New Year's Day; the championship game will be played a week later, on a Monday night.

The "host" bowls have not been determined. Hancock said bids would go out sometime after the TV deal is secured and would be finalized by spring 2013, but conventional wisdom is the slots will be filled by the Fiesta, Chick-fil-A and Cotton bowls.

Next on the agenda: finalization of a selection committee – it probably won't happen until next spring – and at some point, a name change:

"Anything," Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman said, "but the Bowl Championship Series!"

Photo of the Day: Class Warfare

New doc argues that OJ was right

Nicole’s killer? He is still out there.
November 18, 2012
Have you ever heard of Glen Rogers?

Probably not because Glen Rogers is one of America’s least-known serial killers (70, possibly 80 people). But wait. He is also most likely the real murderer of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.

ID’s feature-length documentary goes back over Rogers’ life and his crimes through interviews with police, prosecutors and with his family —most notably his former non-murderous partner-in-crime, brother Clay Rogers, who taught Glen how to steal at an early age.

Not only did Clay cooperate fully in this documentary, but he is the person who turned Glen in when he discovered a rotting corpse in the family’s broken down cabin in the woods in Hamilton, Minn.

The corpse was that of an elderly male neighbor, one of the very few men it turned out Glen had killed. At that moment, Clay realized that all those tall tales his brother had telling about killing 50 people were tragically true.

Since killing 50 people isn’t the kind of thing most people brag about, you’d have thought his brother would have figured it out, but he didn’t.

Then again, the whole family thought Glen was lying when the then-handsome lunatic told his family that he was “partying” with a woman in LA named Nicole Brown Simpson — just before she was murdered.

When Rogers phoned his family in 1994, according to the film, he actually said he was working and partying with her and that she was rich, and that he was “going to take her down.”

A few years after the murders, when Rogers was already on death row for other murders, he admitted to a criminal profiler that he’d killed Simpson and Goldman.

And there is at least some proof to back him up, including receipts that show Rogers had been working construction in the area at that exact time.

Rogers seemed to know things about the murder that only the killer could have known including a step-by-step description of the exact sequence of the killings which had eluded prosecutors and cops.

And OJ did in fact know the killer, the film says.

So why didn’t OJ bring all that out at the trial — or even before he was charged?

Because, according to Rogers, OJ had paid him to break into her house and steal a pair of $20,000 earrings the football star had given her.

Rogers claims OJ also told to kill “the bitch” if necessary.

After that murder (hardly his first), Rogers embarked on a cross-country killing spree.

So how does someone become such a psychopath?

Clay Rogers tries to explain it by talking about their horrific childhood with half a dozen siblings.

It was so awful in fact that chances were good that at least one of them would go from petty crime to murder at some point.

But 70 killings?

True or not. frightening, well done and riveting.

Some Pelagic Musings

Jaye Beldo
Monday, November 19, 2012

Arriving in Fort Bragg a few days ago, I got to enjoy a much welcome pelagic view after being mountain locked for over eight months. Benignly soporific waves far below cast their foam far up onto the rocks and a lonely gull posed for a few cliff side pics, some gnats flying around its head which didn't seem to perturb it in the least.  A guy in a pickup truck scanned the kelp ridden bay with some binoculars and I went over to chat it up with him.

"The herons are eating gophers." He said. "They pick them off on the fly. I watch them wriggle in their throats. Stomach acids finish them off eventually. Fishing isn't as good anymore."

I had heard the same while in Nova Scotia a couple of years ago during a boat tour of some bird islands near Stanley. The weary tour guide pointed out the anorexic seals warming up on the rocks-a hard to ignore reminder of the plight of our depleted oceans and the toll its taking on all living things.

Heading north I pulled into a deserted state park just outside of town and after setting up camp, soon found that the beach is not a good place to traipse with one's head in the clouds.  While examining a bit of flotsam that looked like a French tickler, a 'rogue' wave nearly pulled me out to sea in its undertow. Soaked to my waist and my boots filled with salt water, I slushed my way back to the camp site, musing on Fukushima, wondering if the sea flora was some mutant offspring of the disaster.

Awakening around two a.m., I turn on the flashlight and see my shoes floating in a pool of rainwater outside the tent. A cold awakening and a needed ablution for my feet the next morning. . None of the other campsites around me had any standing water. Perhaps something needed to dissolve in me via alchemical solutio.

At dawn, I headed further north and after much serpentine effort, road wise speaking, eventually arrived at Sinkyone Wilderness Area-still looking for some kind of  peace. The camp host sat at a park bench reading and I walked over and sat down with her in the semi-sun, sharing an ad libbed synopsis of my blog travelogue and how I had come to arrive at this fairly remote place. She took me to my brook side campsite and after setting up, I walked along the Lost Coast-admiring how plate subduction had contributed to creating such a remarkably beautiful place.  Waves below seemed to rebuke my errant thoughts and I found myself standing on the edge of an eroded bit of trail-the drop down to the beach would have been nothing short of fatal if it collapsed. Warnings given to me by the head of the Juneau search and rescue team in Alaska a few years ago came to mind and I promptly backed away.

The next day out on the porch of the visitor's lodge we sat. Rain clouds loomed and I had to be ready to evacuate lest I be stranded for days.  Sophia poured over a field guide to sea life, pointing to a pictures of some species of kelp she used to make a salad.  I couldn't get the island of plastic debris floating in the Pacific out of my mind. Eventually, the island will become a country once it melts into something more cohesive. Perhaps some protracted lightning storm will fuse it all together, rendering it into some kind of gulag for dissidents around the world. I reach for a geology book inside the lodge and page through it, a more bedrock endeavor IMO considering the surface plight at hand. The rains eventually came while we talked about aborigines and I sped my way back up the treacherous road and back to the highway, passing through a pot town called Garberville.

After more winding roads the next day and the day after, I eventually arrived in Calistoga and soaked in some hot springs.  While contemplating my feet in the whirlpool jets, a mish mash of different languages melded with the sounds of the  waters. A bald woman with Pierre Cardin sunglasses flaunted her buffed body speaking, with her friends in some eastern bloc language I’m guessing. A woman at a table read, The Servant Class,doing some vicarious  salt of the earth living while she flipped through the pages, munching on a cucumber sandwich. I’m reminded of a scene in the Bunuel movie Belle de Jour where one of the idle rich says, “I often think of the working class when it snows.”

Lulled by the bubbles, dreaming of netting some hippy heiress, I look up only to see a rather plump woman to my right wearing a tie dyed crepe gown stuffing her face with a salad at one of the tables. I wished I had some flower child lens to see the world through at that moment.

My head swirls a bit and a slender woman soaking in the same springs looks at me with calculated distance. I try to weave the steam into an invitation since there is not a varicose vein on her body. But she looks away, her ready eyes trained on some jet set retribution far beyond the springs.

I pass through Calistoga and feel the presence of the living vine there. Is this some kind of soul recollection or a lost part of me that needs to be reclaimed?  Or echoes from the wedding feast at Cana? Only the lord would know, I suppose. Perhaps if I drank some vintage Chablis the region is famous for, it would evoke such a thing, like Proust biting into a Petite Madeleine and the remembrances the dessert inspired in him. Passing vineyard after autumn hued vineyard, it is all blue ruin to me though. Perhaps just a sip? It would have to be the rarest of vintages indeed, some private reserve locked away in a Rotshchild vault. The bottle has my real name written on it, that I can see, with all sorts of intricate filigree etched into the glass which serves to weave the circuitous travails of my life together. I would never cork it open though, but if I did, I’d embrace this place and the people here with my heart, wine holding the key to its full opening. I’d embrace their BMWs and Porsches too. More importantly, I’d look at myself more objectively-opt for Botox injections, get the crow’s feet buffed away and my graying hair dyed into something more attractively conducive. Perhaps the wine, even if I spit it out like a professional taster, will impart some healing powers and I’ll be able to erase all signs of weathering in the moneyed class that have staked a claim to this region. How liberating  would that be? Cosmetic surgeons would be put out of business and have to move elsewhere. Yoga instructors too. As I speed down the highway with such prospects fading, a silk theater curtain woven by Tuscany handmaidens descends to the valley and backstage, they siren call me into a 12th century past, where my troubadour inspirations could stand a better chance, that is if they’re not dashed against the rocks of the wine inspired illusions written above.

Now my hands chill in this campsight as I type this out near my backpacker’s tent. Dark coming fast as we approach the solstice.

Sexual privacy under threat in a surveillance society

Naomi Wolf
Mon November 19, 2012

Naomi Wolf: We live in an increasingly intrusive surveillance society
Wolf says for her, Petraeus story is about terrifying power of Patriot and Espionage acts
She says loss of sexual privacy would be destructive to the human condition
Wolf: We should not rush to judge marriages and those who commit infidelity

Editor's note: Naomi Wolf is the author of "Vagina: A New Biography."

Once again we see the scenario unfold: A powerful man, with tremendous responsibilities, apparently "caught" in a compromising sexual situation with a woman who is not his wife.

There is the now-familiar ritual of the threats of embarrassing revelations of intimate conversations, the hunted-down "other woman" who either decides to tell more or not, the nationwide harrumphing and moralizing, and the schadenfreude-stoking musings over the humiliations of the loyal wife. And of course, there is the spectacle of another career -- in David Petraeus' case, one that distinguished him in his service to our country -- in tatters.

But while the media tell a familiar narrative of misjudgment and temptation, to me this story is about the terrifying power of the Patriot Act, married to the terrifying power of the resurrected Espionage Act -- and combined with a lethal admixture of our nation's Puritanism, prurience about and ignorance regarding sexuality.

What happened to Petraeus -- and the recent slew of other powerful men or men threatening to some power blocs, from Eliot Spitzer to Bill Clinton? They were surveilled by political elites in an increasingly intrusive surveillance society, and exposed.

We should understand that the surveillance that keeps tripping up these powerful men is not something about which only heads of state, whistle-blower publishers or generals have to worry. It also includes others in which the allegations of what initiated their downfall are more complex and serious, such as Nicolas Sarkozy and Julian Assange.

Because of the Patriot Act, any of us, if we annoy or threaten powerful interests, can have our e-mails read without our knowledge. Any of us can be subject to a search that could lead from one e-mail correspondent to another until the National Security Agency or the FBI, which have both confirmed that they have invested heavily in domestic surveillance of social networks, find something -- anything -- that could be seen as compromising.

At that point, any of us can be subjected to terrible pressure -- even legal threats -- if what is uncovered can be in any way described as "classified information."

Media's Petraeus frenzy

We live at a time in which our government is vastly over-classifying subjects in the name of public interest or that might embarrass the state. Heaven forbid if anyone provides "material support" for the enemy, which is so vague a term that President Barack Obama's own lawyers confirmed to Judge Katherine Forrest, in my presence during the New York hearing on the National Defense Authorization Act this past spring, that it can be used to include basic journalism about, for instance, the Taliban, or other information the government simply does not wish exposed.

Any of us can be threatened with possessing classified information. This is why Bradley Manning has spent months in solitary confinement in prison.

We can be threatened with the Espionage Act. This is why Assange is hiding in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. If Assange were convicted of receiving classified information, and extradited under the Espionage Act, he could theoretically be shipped to Guantanamo -- for which some congressional voices have called. But that precedent casts a shadow over everyone who might have ever heard about or discussed classified information -- something that is routine in Washington.

There are still many unknowns to the Petraeus story. Maybe it really is just about the CIA and the FBI being very, very worried about Petraeus sleeping with his biographer. But we don't need to buy into this theater. If there is a national security breach -- which would be a real issue if one took place -- that can be investigated and addressed without spectacle or bullying.

In working with these two appalling laws, we need to understand what loss of privacy means: Any of us can be brought down, intimidated, silenced, threatened, by exposure of our personal lives, for any reason.

We all have secrets we do not wish made public. Any of us can be threatened with exposure of infidelity, or sex addiction, or flirtatious communications, or addiction to embarrassing pornographic images, or alcoholism or bipolar disorder, or even our discussions with our doctors, psychiatrists or accountants -- about our most personal information.

It is hard to imagine fully what the loss of sexual privacy means to private life -- and to the human condition.

In the film "The Lives of Others," set in East Germany before the Berlin Wall came down, the state listened in on lovers doing what lovers do: quarrelling, engaging in highly intimate acts of desire and passion, and sometimes, yes, betraying their spouses. But what is clear from the depiction is that whatever private pain such betrayal as infidelity causes, the general pain and the deadening quality for everyone, of living in a society in which there is no privacy -- and no sexual privacy -- is far, far more destructive and more distorting of the human condition.

Sexual privacy is absolutely necessary for human beings to have basic dignity, and that includes the space to make mistakes or do things one may regret. A third of couples, husbands and wives, report that they have committed infidelity. What if all of those marriages were subject to surveillance and exposure?

What if the power regarding who tells you that your spouse has betrayed you, becomes not a private struggle in private life, but a matter for the state to decide? And how many people in marriages that might have survived an infidelity, might have their lives and relationships further shattered by the state, as it can do now, from knowing the details of every single e-mail or credit card record or gift?

Finally, add to this toxic mess American Puritanism and prurience. It is easy to look at what seems to be a man, a mistress and a furious wife, and to assume that one knows all about what has gone on.

But often such situations are complex. Women commit adultery as often as men do, though the media are full of stories asking: Why do men cheat? Indeed, women initiate divorce more often than men do. Female unhappiness in intimate relationships is rife in America, because of some basic misunderstandings of female desire that I have detailed in my new book.

It is not our place to judge and condemn, or to cast the first stone. A new understanding of the dangers of the Patriot and Espionage acts should show us why it is more important than ever for couples to be permitted to experience the pain and betrayal of a possible infidelity in private, without the power of the state breathing down the necks of all involved.

Of course, there is no way ever to justify an infidelity -- betrayal is always wrong. One cannot know from the outside what kind of sexual or emotional loneliness may have been part of any given marriage, what kinds of demons any one of us might struggle with.

Understanding the toxic sexual culture in which American marriages try to thrive should lead us, at least, to see such breakdowns without snap judgments. And understanding the role of a surveillance society in the state's choosing which adulterers to go after should give us pause about joining into to any theatrics of public condemnation.

Unless there was a serious state security issue in relation to this infidelity, what happened between Petraeus and Paula Broadwell should be, personally speaking, the equivalent of classified information: in other words, absolutely none of our business.

The Twinkie Manifesto

November 18, 2012

The Twinkie, it turns out, was introduced way back in 1930. In our memories, however, the iconic snack will forever be identified with the 1950s, when Hostess popularized the brand by sponsoring “The Howdy Doody Show.” And the demise of Hostess has unleashed a wave of baby boomer nostalgia for a seemingly more innocent time.

Needless to say, it wasn’t really innocent. But the ’50s — the Twinkie Era — do offer lessons that remain relevant in the 21st century. Above all, the success of the postwar American economy demonstrates that, contrary to today’s conservative orthodoxy, you can have prosperity without demeaning workers and coddling the rich.

Consider the question of tax rates on the wealthy. The modern American right, and much of the alleged center, is obsessed with the notion that low tax rates at the top are essential to growth. Remember that Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, charged with producing a plan to curb deficits, nonetheless somehow ended up listing “lower tax rates” as a “guiding principle.”

Yet in the 1950s incomes in the top bracket faced a marginal tax rate of 91, that’s right, 91 percent, while taxes on corporate profits were twice as large, relative to national income, as in recent years. The best estimates suggest that circa 1960 the top 0.01 percent of Americans paid an effective federal tax rate of more than 70 percent, twice what they pay today.

Nor were high taxes the only burden wealthy businessmen had to bear. They also faced a labor force with a degree of bargaining power hard to imagine today. In 1955 roughly a third of American workers were union members. In the biggest companies, management and labor bargained as equals, so much so that it was common to talk about corporations serving an array of “stakeholders” as opposed to merely serving stockholders.

Squeezed between high taxes and empowered workers, executives were relatively impoverished by the standards of either earlier or later generations. In 1955 Fortune magazine published an essay, “How top executives live,” which emphasized how modest their lifestyles had become compared with days of yore. The vast mansions, armies of servants, and huge yachts of the 1920s were no more; by 1955 the typical executive, Fortune claimed, lived in a smallish suburban house, relied on part-time help and skippered his own relatively small boat.

The data confirm Fortune’s impressions. Between the 1920s and the 1950s real incomes for the richest Americans fell sharply, not just compared with the middle class but in absolute terms. According to estimates by the economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, in 1955 the real incomes of the top 0.01 percent of Americans were less than half what they had been in the late 1920s, and their share of total income was down by three-quarters.

Today, of course, the mansions, armies of servants and yachts are back, bigger than ever — and any hint of policies that might crimp plutocrats’ style is met with cries of “socialism.” Indeed, the whole Romney campaign was based on the premise that President Obama’s threat to modestly raise taxes on top incomes, plus his temerity in suggesting that some bankers had behaved badly, were crippling the economy. Surely, then, the far less plutocrat-friendly environment of the 1950s must have been an economic disaster, right?

Actually, some people thought so at the time. Paul Ryan and many other modern conservatives are devotees of Ayn Rand. Well, the collapsing, moocher-infested nation she portrayed in “Atlas Shrugged,” published in 1957, was basically Dwight Eisenhower’s America.

Strange to say, however, the oppressed executives Fortune portrayed in 1955 didn’t go Galt and deprive the nation of their talents. On the contrary, if Fortune is to be believed, they were working harder than ever. And the high-tax, strong-union decades after World War II were in fact marked by spectacular, widely shared economic growth: nothing before or since has matched the doubling of median family income between 1947 and 1973.

Which brings us back to the nostalgia thing.

There are, let’s face it, some people in our political life who pine for the days when minorities and women knew their place, gays stayed firmly in the closet and congressmen asked, “Are you now or have you ever been?” The rest of us, however, are very glad those days are gone. We are, morally, a much better nation than we were. Oh, and the food has improved a lot, too.

Along the way, however, we’ve forgotten something important — namely, that economic justice and economic growth aren’t incompatible. America in the 1950s made the rich pay their fair share; it gave workers the power to bargain for decent wages and benefits; yet contrary to right-wing propaganda then and now, it prospered. And we can do that again.

A version of this op-ed appeared in print on November 19, 2012, on page A21 of the New York edition with the headline: The Twinkie Manifesto.

We’re on pace for 4°C of global warming

Here’s why that terrifies the World Bank
Brad Plumer on November 19, 2012

Over the years at the U.N. climate talks, the goal has been to keep future global warming below 2°C. But as those talks have faltered, emissions have kept rising, and that 2°C goal is now looking increasingly out of reach. Lately, the conversation has shifted toward how to deal with 3°C of warming. Or 4°C. Or potentially more.

And that topic has made a lot of people awfully nervous. Case in point: The World Bank just commissioned an analysis by scientists at the Potsdam Institute looking at the consequences of a 4°C rise in global temperatures above pre-industrial levels by 2100. And the report appears to have unnerved many bank officials. “The latest predictions on climate change should shock us into action,” wrote World Bank President Jim Yong Kim in an op-ed after the report was released Monday.

So what exactly has got the World Bank so worried? Partly it’s the prospect that a 4°C world could prove difficult—perhaps impossible—for many poorer countries to adapt to. Let’s take a closer look at the report:

1) The world is currently on pace for around 3°C to 4°C of global warming by the end of the century. In recent years, a number of nations have promised to cut their carbon emissions. The United States and Europe are even on pace to meet their goals. But those modest efforts can only do so much, especially as emissions in China and India keep rising. Even if all current pledges get carried out, the report notes, ”the world [is] on a trajectory for a global mean warming of well over 3°C.” And current climate models still suggest a 20 percent chance of 4°C warming in this emissions scenario.

2) The direct consequences of a 4°C rise in global temperatures could be stark. Four degrees may not sound like much. But, the report points out, the world was only about 4°C to 7°C cooler, on average, during the last ice age, when large parts of Europe and the United States was covered by glaciers. Warming the planet up in the opposite direction could bring similarly drastic changes, such as three feet or more of sea-level rise by 2100, more severe heat waves, and regional extinction of coral reef ecosystems.

3) Climate change would likely hit poorer countries hardest. The World Bank focuses on poverty reduction, so its climate report spends most of its time looking at how developing countries could struggle in a warmer world. For instance, a growing number of studies suggest that agricultural production could take a big hit under 3°C or 4°C of warming. Countries like Bangladesh, Egypt, Vietnam, and parts of Africa would also see large tracts of farmland made unusable by rising seas. “It seems clear,” the report concludes, “that climate change in a 4°C world could seriously undermine poverty alleviation in many regions.”

4) Yet the effects of 4°C warming haven’t been fully assessed — they could, potentially, be more drastic than expected. Perhaps the most notable bit of the World Bank report is its discussion of the limits of current climate forecasts. Many models, it notes, make predictions in a fairly linear fashion, expecting the impacts of 4°C of warming to be roughly twice as severe as those from 2°C of warming. But this could prove to be wrong. Different effects could combine together in unexpected ways:
For example, nonlinear temperature effects on crops are likely to be extremely relevant as the world warms to 2°C and above. However, most of our current crop models do not yet fully account for this effect, or for the potential increased ranges of variability (for example, extreme temperatures, new invading pests and diseases, abrupt shifts in critical climate factors that have large impacts on yields and/or quality of grains).

What’s more, the report points out that there are large gaps in our understanding of what 4°C of warming might bring: “For instance,” it notes, “there has not been a study published in the scientific literature on the full ecological, human, and economic consequences of a collapse of coral reef ecosystems.”

5) Some countries might not be able to adapt to a 4°C world. At the moment, the World Bank helps many poorer countries build the necessary infrastructure to adapt to a warmer world. That includes dams and seawalls, crop research, freshwater management, and so forth. But, as a recent internal review found, most of these World Bank efforts are focused on relatively small increases in temperature.

This new World Bank report is less sure how to prepare for a 4°C world. “[G]iven that uncertainty remains about the full nature and scale of impacts, there is also no certainty that adaptation to a 4°C world is possible.” That’s why, the report concludes, “The projected 4°C warming simply must not be allowed to occur — the heat must be turned down. Only early, cooperative, international actions can make that happen.”

So what sorts of actions might that entail? The International Energy Agency recently offered its own set of ideas for curbing greenhouse-gas emissions and keeping future warming below 2°C. That included everything from boosting renewable energy to redesigning the world’s transportation system. But so far, nations have only made small progress on most of these steps.

Awesome Quotes: Jesse Ventura

For all of you who decided that any employee who stands up for their rights should just look for a better job. Let me ask you, have you looked around the country lately? This country is operating on a service based economy. The giant corporations have moved into most communities and forced privately owned business out of business through graft and spending. Just where is this employee supposed to get a new job that pays a living wage when all the jobs available to them are from the same group of corporations? Oh, I guess they should go to school and learn a trade that will not only put them into deep financial debt but the likelihood of that trade being around after they graduate is slim given the trends of outsourcing and automation. Not everyone gets the high paying six figure job with benefits however that doesn't mean the low income worker should be treated like a second class citizen because they didn't get the same breaks you did. The American dream does not exist. Corporate fascism killed it. The story of the kid who started out flipping burgers and is now a millionaire is a myth. The carrot that is dangled in front of everyone working a shitty job with no future. Welcome to the new corporate sponsored american dream: Indentured Servitude.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Significa 11-22-12

RIP: James W. Mosely, editor of Saucer Smear.

Greg Bishop of called him "the Hunter Thompson of Ufology."  Kenn Thomas of described him as an "intergalactic journalist hero."

Loren Coleman gives an excellent farewell to on his blog:

From Wikipedia:

Over his career, he has exposed UFO hoaxers and has engineered hoaxes of his own. He is known for the newsletter Saucer Smear.

Moseley was the son of U.S. Army Major General George Van Horn Moseley. Moseley attended Princeton University for two years before dropping out. He became interested in UFOs following the 1947 claims of pilot Kenneth Arnold, but his interest deepened following the 1948 death of U.S. Air Force pilot Thomas Mantell, in pursuit of a UFO.

In July, 1954, Moseley co-founded Saucer News, a periodical known for its unorthodox, "freewheeling" (Clark, 2002) style. Saucer News only occasionally featured serious UFO research; Moseley was among the first to publicize evidence against the claims of leading "contactee" George Adamski. In 1953 he investigated the Ralph Horton flying saucer crash.


VIVA Hysteria! - Las Vegas Residency

Def Leppard will be taking over the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas for an exclusive nine show residency entitled VIVA Hysteria!  The band will perform their iconic album HYSTERIA in full in addition to a greatest hits segment.  The shows will run from 22 March through 10 April 2013 at The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.


FeedBack: A Faded Piece of Papyrus Refers to Jesus’ Wife

A historian of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School has identified a scrap of papyrus that she says was written in Coptic in the fourth century and contains a phrase never seen in any piece of Scripture: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife...’ ”

Kenn Thomas of replies:

Further translation revealed the full phrase, "My wife... take her please."


Did Jesus have a wife? Scholar calls parchment 'forgery'
Jeremy Hsu
October 17, 2012

A copied error from an online translation of the Gospel of Thomas may be the "smoking gun" that strongly suggests the Gospel of Jesus' Wife, a controversial papyrus fragment that supposedly refers to Jesus being married, is a forgery, scholars say.
If the text is fake, it would represent an extraordinary tale of how an amateur with no knowledge of a long-dead language could fool some of the world's leading experts by using a readily available Internet tool — and how scholars countered by rallying online to swiftly investigate the case together.

The business card-size fragment of papyrus stirred up worldwide controversy with a line of text that reads "Jesus said to them, 'My wife...'" Many skeptical scholars suggested the document was a forgery in the weeks following the announcement of the discovery by Harvard historian Karen King — and their early suspicions have evolved into solid theories and findings as they talked through Facebook posts, blogs and e-lists.

One of the most compelling arguments for the fragment being a forgery has emerged from Andrew Bernhard, an Oxford University graduate and author of the book "Other Early Christian Gospels" (T & T Clark, 2006). He published an online paper last week pointing out a pattern of similarities between the Gospel of Jesus' Wife and the Coptic Gospel of Thomas — similarities that include grammatical errors and line breaks found only in the online word-by-word translation of the Gospel of Thomas.

"It's remarkable that a forger could have forged something like this using a simple tool on the Internet," Bernhard said. "It's equally stunning how quickly scholars could respond and analyze the text."

The smoking gun

'It's remarkable that a forger could have forged something like this using a simple tool on the Internet.'
- Andrew Bernhard, author of the book 'Other Early Christian Gospels'

All the grammatical anomalies in the Gospel of Jesus' Wife suggest the writer was not a native speaker or even an academic expert in Coptic — the ancient, dead language of early Christians living in Egypt. Instead, Bernhard says that the pattern of errors and suspiciously similar line breaks suggests an amateur might have forged the "patchwork" text using individual words and phrases taken from Michael Grondin's Interlinear Coptic-English Translation of the Gospel of Thomas.

"There's this general pattern in that everywhere the Gospel of Jesus' Wife could diverge from gospel of Thomas, it doesn't, and in places where it does [diverge], it appears it's following Mike's Interlinear," Bernhard told TechNewsDaily.

One the most suspicious grammatical errors in the Gospel of Jesus' Wife appeared to be a direct copy of a typo in the PDF file version of the Interlinear translation — a connection that Grondin himself made when he was examining his translation. He shared that knowledge with Mark Goodacre, an associate professor of New Testament at Duke University, who had been writing up a blog post independently about the possibility of the "Jesus' Wife fragment" being a forgery.

Goodacre and Bernhard eventually got in touch and agreed to coordinate the online publishing of their respective blog post and paper. Goodacre credits Bernhard with first making the connection between the Gospel of Jesus' Wife and the online version of the Gospel of Thomas.

"I would have already put money on this thing being problematic, given the links between the fragment and the Coptic Gospel of Thomas," Goodacre explained. "But the link with the online Interlinear version of the Gospel of Thomas really makes, for me, the case of authenticity a very difficult one."

Internet peer review

Both Goodacre and Bernhard cautioned that any final proof of a forgery must come from Harvard University's chemistry tests of the fragment's ink and paper. But if the Gospel of Jesus' Wife is indeed a forgery, the scholars told TechNewsDaily that it would represent an eye-opening, first-time case where an amateur pulled off such a stunt — with more than a little help from the online Internet translation.

"They were able to mimic the word usage and grammar of Coptic convincingly enough so that I think a lot of people could have been fooled, including some of the most capable scholars in the world," Bernhard said. "It's a strange scenario in a strange new world where an amateur can fool the highest levels of academic knowledge."

The availability of the online translation of the Gospel of Thomas may have provided the unwitting tool for an amateur to fool the experts. But the Internet also allowed scholars from many different fields to combine forces and focus their collective attention on examining the Gospel of Jesus' Wife as soon as the news broke.

"Some people are experts in Coptic language, some people who are experts in the literary relationship among ancient texts," Goodacre said. "It's a combination of different voices talking to one another — things just move a little bit more quickly now than 30 or 40 years ago."

Similarly, Bernhard confessed to being amazed by how quickly scholars had mobilized online to analyze the Gospel of Jesus' wife. He wondered how anyone would have gathered all the Coptic experts in the world to do something similar just 20 years ago.

"To write this paper, I had to go through e-lists, Facebook posts, blogs, online articles — there was something like instantaneous international peer review," Bernhard said. "It's clearly a new world of scholarship."


Tesla Model S named 2013 Car of the Year by Motor Trend
Brittany Hillen, Nov 12th 2012

Motor Trend has bestowed its coveted Car of the Year title on Tesla‘s Model S, making it the first car without an internal combustion engine to earn such an honor. The vehicle won out of 25 other contenders, with a total of 45 variants. All of the vehicles were put through an “extensive battery of testing” that examined just about everything you can examine on a car.

There were 11 judges in total, and all of them unanimously awarded the honor to the Tesla Model S. Testing included a 0 to 60mph and quarter-mile acceleration, braking from 60 to 0mph, figure-eight handling, high-speed loops that replicates LA’s freeways, and a winding track. Each phase eliminated vehicles based on various criteria, until only a handful remained.

Motor Trend’s editor-in-chief Edward Loh offered this statement. “We had an extremely competitive field for Motor Trend’s Car of the Year. However, the Tesla Model S floored our panel of judges. The goal of the award is to name the car that best meets our six criteria, and the Tesla Model S accomplished that best … To be the first car in the 64-year history of the award to be powered by something other than gasoline must mean it is very special. It is, and thus we’re excited to name the Tesla Model S our 2013 Car of the Year.”


"Higgs Boson" was a contender. So were "superstorm," "Super PAC" and "YOLO" (an acronym that stands for You Only Live Once).  But Katherine Martin, head of the U.S. dictionaries program at Oxford University Press USA, said that when it came time for her team of lexicographers to pick the word of the year, the choice was obvious. It had to be GIF, the verb.

"GIF verb to create a GIF file of (an image or video sequence, especially relating to an event): he GIFed the highlights of the debate."

Full Article:,0,1379565.story


GQ's "Obsession of the Year":



Is There Life After Death?
Neuroscientist Shares His Near Death Experience

Dr. Evan Alexander tells us about his experience in the afterlife and concludes that consciousness survives physical death.


Kool Video of the Week
Banned Cartoons: Bugs Bunny - Hillbilly Hare


Muay Thai Home Study Course

Scott “Bam Bam” Sullivan is the owner and chief instructor at Bam Bam Martial Arts  in Houston, TX. Scott is a professional Muay Thai instructor, a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and has taught thousands of people the wonderful art of Muay Thai.

Scott has been training and teaching Muay Thai since 1986 and have spent over 22 years TRAINING, COLLECTING, and COMPILING some of the best Muay Thai boxing drills and techniques he could find so that he could turn around and help others achieve something never before possible. Scott has taught literally hundreds if not thousands of students exactly the best ways to develop powerful punches, thundering kicks, gut wrenching knees and wicked elbows – all while getting in the best shape of their lives.

In case you didn’t know, Muay Thai is arguably the best “striking” martial art in the world. That understood, you should be able to understand why...


Kool Websites: Warby Parker

Warby Parker was founded with a rebellious spirit and a lofty objective: to create boutique-quality, classically crafted eyewear at a revolutionary price point.


Acer C7 Chromebook available for $199
Summary: Google is continuing its push to build the Chromebook market with the latest model by Acer. The Acer C7 Chromebook is available for $199.
James Kendrick
November 12, 2012

Google has been seriously pushing the Chrome OS with the recent partnership with Samsung to offer the new Samsung Chromebook. That device lowered the price of a Chromebook to just $249. Continuing that push is the new Acer C7 Chromebook just released for a mere $199. Like the Samsung model before, Google is also offering free goodies worth more than the price tag of the Acer C7 Chromebook.

The new C7 from Acer weighs in at 3.05 pounds and is only an inch thich. In that slim body is an Intel Celeron processor, 2 GB of memory, and surprising for a Chromebook -- a 320GB hard drive. The 11.6-inch display is capable of HD video, and has a quoted battery life of over 3.5 hours.

The Acer C7 Chromebook is available on the Google Play store and at Best Buy in the US. Those in the UK wanting a Chromebook can also buy it in the Google Play store, as well as at Amazon UK, PC World and Currys.

Google is offering two years of 100GB of free storage in the cloud for new purchasers of the Acer, along with 12 free Gogo Internet passes. Those two offers are together worth more than the price of the new Acer Chromebook, so you could say Google will pay you to get one.


Camden, N.J., sets homicide record
Jim Walsh, (Cherry Hill, N.J.) Courier-Post Staff

Investigators seek masked man in latest case
Officials attribute surge in killings in part to massive layoffs at police department
This year's homicides include a toddler and a 6-year-old killed over the summer

November 17. 2012 - CAMDEN, N.J. — The city of Camden set a grim record Friday, with its 59th homicide of the year.

The latest victim was shot dead in the city's Fairview section around 11:30 a.m, according to the Camden County Prosecutor's Office.

Additional details were not immediately available, but radio dispatches said police were seeking a masked man.

The previous high mark for homicides was 58, set in 1995.

The city tied the record on Nov. 9 when a Cherry Hill man died from injuries suffered in a beating seven days earlier. Gregory Holder, 45, had been attacked by two men during an apparent drug dispute, authorities said.

His case remains under investigation. No arrests have been made.

Violence aside, the homicide total could still increase, as the victim of an Oct. 21 shooting remains on life support at Cooper University Hospital.

Jimmy Cortes Jr., 20, of Barrington was shot multiple times during a pre-dawn confrontation between two groups of men.

The city's homicide toll, which has varied from year to year, hit 52 last year. That was up from 37 in 2010 and 34 in 2009.

Law enforcement officials have attributed the surge in violence in part to massive layoffs that nearly halved staffing levels at the city's police department in early 2011.

Camden currently has about 270 police officers. There were about 335 officers in 1995, according to Courier-Post records.

This year's homicides include the horrific deaths of two city children over the summer — a toddler decapitated by his mother and a 6-year-old boy whose throat was slit by an intruder.

In addition, a masked gunman last month killed two young people — 18-year-old Jewel Manire and 20-year-old Khalil Gibson — as they sat in a car in the Fairview section. Three people were also wounded in that attack, which remains unsolved.