Thursday, November 30, 2006

International Community in Shock as China ‘Secretly’ Executes Religious Leaders

Source: ChristianToday
by Jennifer Gold

Here is a disturbing story that you won't see on the big three networks, nor CNN. It's about persecution against Christians -- by the Chinese government. After reading this story, I urge you to contact your federal representatives and ask for an investigation into human rights and religious rights violations by the Chinese.

The international Christian community stands in shock as reports circulate that China has
secretly carried out the execution of three religious leaders from a highly controversial Christian group.
The lawyers and families of the three men, Mr Xu Shuangfu (60), Mr Li Maoxing (55) and Mr Wang Jun (36), have reported that they had not received a final verdict from their appeal, and had not been told about the executions when they were carried out, Christian Solidarity Worldwide has told Christian Today.
China Aid Association (CAA) reports that the wife of Mr Li Maoxing was asked to collect his ashes at 2.30 pm Chinese time on 28 November. The request came from the Intermediate Court of Shuangyashan City in Heilongjiang Province, from where she was instructed to collect the remains. Mr Li Heping, one of the lawyers for the church leaders, told CAA that the three men were executed at some point last week and said that he was deeply disturbed by the secret and arbitrary execution.
Although the three were members of one highly controversial group operating in China, the human rights violations have been the core factor of concern for much of the international religious community. The case has been of particular concern as evidence emerged at the trial that severe torture and sexual abuse had been used against the defendants to extract confessions, CSW reported.
Bob Fu, President of CAA, is concerned that the local government is covering up the evidence of torture by secretly cremating the bodies. Mervyn Thomas, Chief Executive of CSW comments: “It is shocking and deeply disturbing that these executions were carried out without even notifying the family or lawyers. China has shown itself in breach of legal procedures, international standards and the rule of law. The secret executions and the evidence of harsh torture once again shine the spotlight on the lack of justice in the country. We are deeply grieved for the family of the executed men, and also for the lack of the protection of the rule of law for the population as a whole.
For the record, I highly disagree with the tactics and actions of the so-called "Christian group", Three Grades of Servants, to which Shuangfu, Maoxing and Jun belonged. Whatever their beliefs, human beings do not deserve severe torture, sexual abuse, murder and unlawful cremation -- which is what happened to the members of the group by the Chinese government. I invite you to read ALL of the links associated with this story -- and then contact federal officials to demand action!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

HEROES - The "Specials" List (Updated 1/17/07)

This post is updated from time to time. Last update: 01/17/07

After watching the SciFi marathon tonight, along with checking out hundreds of pictures on, I have developed a list of "special" people (some "heroes"). The list is broken down into origins of the names/descriptions. My list was originally posted on, but it included here because of my "fan"anticism for the show. IOW, I want to pique your interest in the show, so you might become a fan, too. Anyway, here is the list:
Updated List of "Special" People:
Brian Davis - New York, NY (deceased)
Gabriel Gray - New York, NY (aka Sylar)
Claire Bennet - Odessa, TX
Peter Petrelli - New York, NY
Micah Hawkins - Las Vegas, NV
Name Unknown - Barstow, CA (deceased)
James Walker - Los Angeles, CA (deceased)
Ted Sprague - Los Angeles, CA (???)
Charlene "Charlie" Andrews - Midland, TX (deceased)
Eden McCain - Possibly from Salina, Utah area (deceased)
Shanti Suresh - India (deceased)
the Haitian - Haiti

Original Computer List:
Felipe Acorra - (deceased)
D.L. Hawkins - Las Vegas, NV
Byron Bevington - Marshfield, VT
Niki Sanders - Las Vegas, NV
Daniel Buzzetti - Greeley, CO
Isaac Mendez - New York, NY
Tracy Chobhan - Frostburg, MD
Nicholas Datre - (deceased)
Paula Gramble - Monteith, IA
Curtis Hovsopian - Grant Pass, OR
Nathan Petrelli - New York, NY
Noel Menzles - (deceased)
Penkala Burton - Albert Lea, MN
Teresa Hue Pham - Shreveport, LA
Matthew Parkman - Los Angeles, CA
Hiro Nakamura - Tokyo, JP
David Berman - New York, NY
Leonis Pinkham - (deceased)
Adam Soo Hoo - Kailua, HI
Linda Tavara - (deceased)
Norman Ventris - (deceased)
Sparrow Redhouse - New Mexico
Amid Halebi - Los Angeles, CA

Partial names seen on computer list:
Michelle V...
Candace Wi...
Harry Flet...
Ethan Kint... - (deceased)
Abu Aswan
Frank Cava... - (deceased)
Diego Vel... - (deceased)
Jess Murph... - (deceased)
Sue Lander...
Pam Green...

Specials List for Dr. Chandra Suresh's files:
13yo Female - Maraba, Brazil
22yo Female - Palu, Indonesia
Sanjog Iyer - Mandras, India

Possible "Specials" or "Heroes":
Molly Walker - Los Angeles, CA
??? Walker - Los Angeles, CA (Molly's mother - deceased)

Pictures/pinpoints on Suresh & Sylar maps:
20ish Female - Canada
50ish Male - South America
20ish Female - Vietnam (South Pacific Airlines employee)
30ish Female - Northern Greenland
Dark-skinned Female - Texas
30ish Male w/ glasses - New England area

NOTE: Some of the pinpoints are clearly in bodies of water.
Therefore, I don't think pinpoints necessarily indicate location of "specials".

NOTE: The FBI was investigating SIX murders around the country -- all presumed by law enforcement to have been committed by the same person -- Sylar. Only Molly Walker's parents have been identified (victims 7 & 8) thus far. Hopefully, we'll learn the names of the other six (and find out if they are on "the list").

Names in BOLD are "heroes" we've met.

PROVEN: The computer screen shot does NOT show the entire list Chandra Suresh had compiled.
HOW: 1) Mr. Bennet enlists Eden McCain to remove Claire's name from Suresh's "list". 2) We see Chandra Suresh's notebook, listing unnamed persons not shown on the computer generated list that Mohinder found.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Can "Contagious Shooting" Explain What Happened in New York This Weekend?

A fatal, police-involved shooting in New York this weekend outside a Queens strip club has initiated demonstrations all over the city. Police fired 50 shots at three apparently unarmed men in a car leaving a bachelor party, and investigators still aren't sure why. They know that the police officers were conducting unrelated, undercover surveillance of the strip club, and that Sean Bell, who was to be married later that day, bumped an officer and then the surveillance van with his car around 4 a.m. Saturday morning.
The groom-to-be died from gunshot wounds, and two of his friends are hospitalized, one with 11 gunshot wounds and the other with three. Their car was hit 21 times; it's unclear where the other 29 bullets landed. New York City's Mayor Bloomberg has called the barrage of bullets "unacceptable" and "inexplicable," but it's certainly not the first time this type of incident has happened.
In New York in 1995, officers fired 125 shots at a man robbing a store in the Bronx even though the suspect never returned fire. In Riverside, California, in 1998, officers shot a 19-year-old woman who was sitting in her car with a gun in her lap 12 times. In 1999, New York City police fired 12 shots at a man who was armed with a hammer. That same year, they famously fired 41 shots at unarmed man named Amadou Diallo in his doorway when he reached for his wallet. In Baltimore in 2006, four officers collectively shot a mentally ill teenager wielding scissors five times in the chest.
Some experts are calling the most recent incident in Queens an example of "contagious shooting," which might at least partially explain many other examples of apparent over-firing. The phenomenon seems to be a combination of reflex, panic and trust. In an article in the Baltimore Sun, law-enforcement consultant Edward Mamet explains, "If one fires, the rest fire ... People start shooting; they don't even know why." The New York Times reports on contagious shooting as a situation in which one officer fires a shot and the shooting "spreads among officers who believe that they, or their colleagues, are facing a threat." The other officers are acting partly on instinct and panic, responding to the sound of gunfire by pulling their own triggers, and partly on the ingrained belief that the first officer who fired must have had a good reason for doing so. Police officers live and die by their back-up, and sometimes this back-up instinct can overcome the rule of reason. In most cases involving deadly force, officers have to make decisions in a split-second; taking time to fully assess the situation before firing can mean one or more dead cops. On the other hand, not taking the time to fully assess the situation before firing can mean one or more dead, innocent civilians.
Police officials have suggested that one way to avoid contagious shooting is to implement, on a case-by-case basis, a firearms discipline in which only one officer at a scene has his or her gun out of its holster at a time. This can be dangerous in many cases, and it will never be the best way to approach every police-involved situation. But a one-gun-at-a-time rule can be a safe way to deal with certain secured environments in which back-up is readily available and the threat to police is reasonably under control. Another possible way to limit the effects of contagious shooting is to have police officers trade in their semi-automatics for six-shooters. For more information on police shootings, contagious fire and related topics, check out the following links:
In my opinion, police ALWAYS must take on the responsibility for firing their weapons in the right manner. They cannot afford to be wrong. NO ONE in their right mind would think that three unarmed guys in a car are a match for several armed officers. It's pretty clear the officers are guilty of second-degree murder. Contagious shooting may help explain the situation, but it's NO EXCUSE for not going off with fifty rounds on these men!

Monday, November 27, 2006


Gabriel Gray is Sylar's real name. He adopts the "Sylar" surname, off the cuff, when he meets up with his first victim (Brian Davis). He tells the guy, "My name is Gabriel... Sylar" as he looks down at a watch he is repairing. The name "SYLAR" is on the dial.
BTW, this is the watch we see Sylar wearing in the previous episodes. Black dial, automatic military watch.

Gabriel Gray, who becomes "Sylar", is a watchmaker (Gray & Sons).
Dr. Chandra Suresh goes to watch/clock shop to visit Gray.
Gray tell Dr. Suresh that family was "insignificant" to him.
- He wanted to be "special".
Suresh gives Gray a book (Activating Evolution) and tells him to read it.
- When they meet later, Gray shows little signs of having powers.
- He is able to "see" that Suresh's wristwatch is off by 2 seconds -- only by hearing it tick.
Dr. Suresh planned CT scan to further test Gray's abilities.
- Suresh rethinks this and Gray angrily goes off. Asks Suresh about "...this Brian Davis... you think this guy is special?!?"
Later, Gabriel Gray calls Brian Davis about "oddities" in his life.
- When Davis shows up at watch shop, Gray introduces himself as Gabriel Sylar (the name from a watch he's working on)
- Davis shows telekinesis by moving a small cup across the table.
- Sylar kills Davis. [Implication is that he takes brain & somehow extracts power.]
- Next shot shows "Sylar" with Dr. Suresh -- showing power of telekinesis
- Somehow Sylar took Davis' power after killing him. We are left to assume that Sylar ate the brain or somehow "absorbed" the "soul" of Brian Davis -- and his future victims (over the past six months).

This show pulls the viewer in several different directions. If you're not a Heroes fan, you should take an hour to view the next episode. BTW, SciFi is airing a Heroes marathon this Wednesday night -- if you want to catch up.

Giving 'Twelve Days of Christmas' Costs True Loves $75,122

Source: FOXNews / AP
The cost of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is on the rise — again. Buying each item in the song just once — from a partridge in a pear tree to a dozen drummers drumming — will cost you $18,920, or 3.1 percent more than last year, according to PNC Financial Services Group. The total cost of items gifted by a True Love who repeats all of the song's verses costs more than ever before — $75,122 — for all 364 items, up from $72,608 in 2005, a 3.5 percent increase.
"After years of stagnation, wages for skilled workers, including the song's dancers and musicians, have increased as the labor market has tightened," said Jeff Kleintop, chief investment strategist for PNC Wealth Management. "Also, a decline in the housing market has dampened demand for luxury goods, such as gold rings."
While prices for the partridge, two turtle doves, three French hens, six geese and seven swans remained the same as last year, higher wages made the lords a-leaping, ladies dancing and pipers piping costlier. The nine ladies dancing earned $4,759, 4 percent more, according to Philadanco, the Philadelphia Dance Co. The lords a-leaping got a 3-percent pay raise, while the drummers drumming and pipers piping earned 3.4 percent more. The maids a-milking, however, weren't as lucky. They make the federal minimum wage, which has been $5.15 per hour since 1997.
Each year, the Pittsburgh-based bank does a tongue-in-cheek tally of how much the swans, geese and drummers would cost if you purchased them at today's prices. PNC has been calculating the cost of Christmas since 1984.
For the price of buying all 364 items, you could get a brand new, fully-loaded special edition Hummer 2 sport utility vehicle, fully-loaded Cadillac XLR two-door roadster, a cruise around the world, a 5-carat diamond ring or top-of-the-line Cartier or Piaget watch.
Trying to find cheaper deals online won't help, either. The 364 items online would cost $125,767, including shipping costs, compared to $123,846 last year. You would spend $30,330 online for each item just once this year. The nine ladies dancing are the costliest items on the list again, at $4,759. The seven swans a-singing cost $4,200. And a pear tree saw the biggest jump, going from $89.99 in 2005 to $129.99 this year. The cheapest? As always, the partridge, still $15.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Faith Finds a Place in the Wireless World

New services bring religion to your cell phone.

Michelle Williams goes to church, writes a journal and reads about spirituality, but lately relief from life's tough moments has arrived through her cell phone. It's not wireless conversation that soothes her, but inspirational quotes from speaker and author Michelle McKinney Hammond, delivered daily as text messages through a service called FaithMobile.
"When I'm having a bad day and someone's getting on my nerves, I can just look at my cell phone and say 'Wow, I really needed that,' " said Williams, a state traffic safety consultant from DeKalb County outside Atlanta. The messages often concern encouraging women and "getting to know God," she said. "It's just something to uplift you throughout the day."
From Christian rock ring tones and messages announcing Jewish holidays to handsets that point to Mecca and remind Muslims when to pray, the world of wireless content is increasingly getting in touch with its spiritual side. Companies sensing growing demand have launched a variety of faith-based mobile services in recent months.
"Picking up that inspiration on the go whether you're in the car, you're at a traffic light, you're on a train, you're on the bus — a lot of it is just reminding yourself who you are, reminding yourself what you believe in," said Martha Cotton, co-founder of Good News Holdings, the California firm behind FaithMobile.
FaithMobile operated the first half of this year and then relaunched in September after a technology overhaul. It offers $1.99 downloads of Christian hymns as ring tones and screen backgrounds featuring Bibles, angels and crosses. For $5.99 a month, subscribers can receive daily messages from one of FaithMobile's partner ministries. Companies offering faith-based mobile content range from start-ups to telecommunication giants.
Atlanta-based Cingular Wireless, a joint venture of BellSouth Corp. and AT&T Inc., offers more than 750 cell phone ring tones from Christian artists ranging from gospel singer Mahalia Jackson to contemporary Christian musician Steven Curtis Chapman, spokesman Clay Owen said. "Contemporary Christian is clearly one of our largest special segments," he said. "We have grown the number of ring tones available as demand has grown." Beliefnet Inc., a New York company that runs a Web community representing many faiths, launched a mobile service in August that delivers inspirational and humorous quotes from spiritual leaders and others, including the Dalai Lama and Maya Angelou. "New technologies provide a lot of really cool effective ways of providing reminders and of being conscious of the divine," said CEO Steve Waldman.
Catholic Mobile offers daily prayers in English and Spanish, the "saint of the day," ring tones such as "Amazing Grace" and screen "wallpaper" depicting the pope. Charges range from 49 cents for single message to $4.99 for a monthly subscription.
And the merging of faith and mobile technology is not limited to Christianity. Dubai-based Ilkone Mobile Telecommunications offers a handset that can alert Muslims of prayer times with a muezzin's voice and point them in the direction of Mecca from locations around the world. The phone also contains the full text of the Koran, with an English translation. London-based MyAdhan, which dubs itself "your intelligent call to Islam," offers prayer and fasting reminders and wireless charity donations. Future features will include a mobile mosque locator.
Jewish information Web site launched a mobile service in May that delivers free daily text messages with thoughts, questions and moments in Jewish history. It also can tell subscribers their local sunset time and when to light candles before the Sabbath. Rabbi Simcha Backman, director of the Los Angeles-based site, said the next step will be live wireless text chats with Judaism scholars. "We have a responsibility to harness the power of technology and use it for good things," Backman said. "It all boils down to helping people."

  • On the Web
  • FaithMobile:
  • Beliefnet:
  • Cingular:
  • Unity in Values:
  • Mfaith:

Friday, November 24, 2006

HEROES - The Linderman Quotient

Linderman has been described as a "mob boss". We have heard his name since the Heroes series began. However, we have yet to see his face. I'd like to put forth some information, about Linderman, for fans to ponder.

A ) Linderman is a higher up to D.L. Hawkins and his gang.

B ) Linderman knows Niki/Jessica -- possibly from her relationship w/ D.L.
- Jessica killed Linderman's men and stole the $2 million in order to frame D.L.

C ) Linderman made a $30k loan to Niki, so that Micah could go to private school.
- He offered to forget the debt + interest (now $50k) if Niki would sleep w/ Nathan and have it videoed (for purposes of blackmail).
- At first, Niki refuses to help Linderman blackmail Nathan. Linderman's goon threatens to hurt Micah, so Niki relents. Jessica comes out and goes back to sleep with Petrelli.

D ) Linderman is pulling strings for and against Nathan Petrelli.
- Linderman gives $2M to Nathan to get him in the mob's pocket.
- Linderman blackmails Nathan w/ the sex video (Niki/Jessica).
- Linderman was Mr. Petrelli's "biggest client".
- The DA wants Nathen to prosecute Linderman.
- Linderman knows Peter due to the Petrelli family's business association with Linderman.

E ) Linderman's men (or maybe the big boss himself) crosses paths with Hiro and Ando as they cheat at cards (by time jumping) at the Las Vegas Casino.
- After Niki does the deed with her ex D.L, Jessica gets up during the middle of the night and massacres Linderman's card-playing hinchmen -- while Hiro & Ando were in another room.

F ) Linderman purchases paintings from Isaac.
- We can most likely safely assume that Linderman knows about Simone, too.

G ) We can now safely say that Linderman is NOT Sylar. [Sylar is in fact a watchmaker named Gabriel Gray.]
- I still say there will be a close connection between Sylar and Linderman.

I have read there are references to Linderman being referenced by HRG (Mr. Bennet) as well.

The "heroes" I don't see a Linderman connection for are: Matt Parkman, Eden McCain, Charlie (the waitress), the Haitian, Ted Sprague and Claire Bennet.

  • Is he a former member of HRG's DNA/Genome Manipulation group?
  • Is he simply a mob boss who coincidentally knows about the heroes, but doesn't understand their significance yet?
  • Is he the key to the origin of the bomb in NYC?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


No, not the fireman or police or soldiers... but HEROES the NBC dramatic series. I started watching Heroes at the first episode. The show's creator and Executive Producer, Tim Kring, threw viewers a curveball right from the first moment. These heroes are NOT superheroes in the image of Batman, Flash Gordon or Wonder Woman. They are ordinary people who have, unbeknownst to them, developed extraordinary powers that can be used for good or evil.
A high school cheerleader has the ability to regenerate. Break an arm, it heals completely in 15 seconds. A heroin attack paints torturous dreams from his fix. The paintings show real life future events. A beat cop can hear the thoughts others around him are thinking. A young Japanese office worker can stop time or travel within time. Each "hero" is struggling -- from the very outset -- with their newfound abilities.
Even though only nine episodes have aired, Heroes has a HUGE cult following on the Internet. Fansites have popped up everywhere -- and a large gathering chats on the NBC site after each episode. Oddly enough, the SciFi Channel rebroadcasts every Heroes episode on Friday following the original airing Monday nights at 9:00pm EST.
If you're reading this far into the post, you might be a Heroes fan, too. SO, here are some of the questions I'm pondering, along with some conclusions I've drawn on what's happening in the storyline...

  • I haven't heard anyone mentioning the "dark side" in relation to Linderman. Who is he? It seems that he has connections to Hiro & Ando, Niki, Nathan, Peter, Isaac and Simone. Did I leave anyone out?
  • What about a theory of Linderman being Sylar... or Mr. Bennet's partner gone awry?
  • BTW, Mr. Bennet has LOTS of power -- even if he doesn't have "hero powers". How would he be able to command "the precog", Eden, the Haitian and others?
  • What significance will Shanti (Mohinder's deceased sister) play in explaining why Dr. Suresh devoted his life's work to locating the "heroes"?
  • How does the Haitian figure in to the storyline? He has been seen taking down Sylar; fighting with Nathan; hanging around Ted Sprague and in proximity of Matt.
As for which side (good or evil) the heroes are on...
I don't want to "define" them too early, but here's the way I see the breakdown so far:
  • Good guys: D.L., Claire, Hiro, Charlie, Peter, Matt, Micah, Isaac
  • Bad guys: Sylar, Nathan, Jessica (aka Niki), Linderman (not sure of power)
  • Unknown Quantities: Eden, the Haitian, Ted Sprague, Mohinder Suresh, Soccer boy
  • NO "hero" powers: Simone, Ando
And the all-important, yet unanswered, question regarding which side, if any, HRG (aka horned rimmed glasses or Mr. Bennet) is on -- I think that Bennet knows what Claire (his daughter) can do because he was studying the "heroes" group 14-18 years ago. Her parents were killed (possibly by Sylar) -- leaving her behind. Bennet adopted Claire at that time -- so he knew she had powers (even if he didn't know what kind).
My theory is that Mr. Bennet has been tracking "heroes" trying to find some sort of key information that will help him either control them OR possibly save Claire from certain death (at some point not related to the "save the world" mantra).
I'm starting to think that Bennet and Linderman (the gangster) were on the same "research" team -- once upon a time; and that Linderman went bad. I haven't heard anyone mentioning the "dark side" in relation to Linderman. Who is he? It seems that Linderman has connections to or has crossed paths with: Hiro & Ando, Niki, D.L., Micah, Nathan, Peter, Isaac and Simone. Did I leave anyone out?

Check out "the list" I copied from Mohinder's discovery in Dr. Suresh's secret computer files:
Felipe Acorra *
D.L. Hawkins #
Byron Bevington
Niki Sanders #
Daniel Buzzetti
Isaac Mendez #
Tracy Chobham
Nicholas Datre *
Paula Gramble
Curtis Hovsepian
Nathan Petrelli #
Noel Menzies *
Penkala Burton
Teresa Hue Pham
Matthew Parkman #
Hiro Nakamura #
Partial Names:
... Andrews (Midland, TX)
David Bera...
Leonie Pin...*
Adam Soo H...
Linda Tava...*
Norman Ven...*
Sparrow Re...
Amid Haleb...
Michelle V...
Candace Wi...
Harry Flet...
Ethan Kint...*
Abu Aswan
Frank Cava...* [Assumed as Cavanuagh]
Diego Vel...*
Jess Murph...* [Assumed as Murphy]
Sue Lander...
Pam Green...

++ Names marked with " * " where shown as "Deceased". Names marked with " # " are "heroes" we have met.

Whew! Have I mentioned that you can click over to and watch snippets or browse the boards, or read the Heroes online comic book? Two other excellent Heroes blogs are Heroes Among Us, Heroes: The Forum and Heroes: The Series. Better get going...

You still here?!?
In case you're looking for information on upcoming episodes, here's a plot line for the season ending Chapter 11 "Fallout":
“The tragic events in Texas have sad, serious repercussions for many of the “heroes,” their families and friends. Meanwhile, shocking details about the moments leading up to Issac’s (Santiago Cabrera) predicted New York City nuclear bombing are revealed. Later, Issac’s newest painting has fascinating future implications for a hero in crisis. Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy) takes the first steps along his new path. Matt (Greg Grunberg) and F.B.I. Agent Audrey Hanson (guest star Clea DuVall) pursue a break in the Sylar case. Horrified by Jessica’s recent actions, Niki (Ali Larter) makes a tough decision to protect her family."

Monday, November 20, 2006

Science Gives Christians Upper Hand Over Atheists

Today’s Christian no longer has to try to maintain only by faith their belief in the origin of the universe. The atheist now does.

by Lillian Kwon, Christian Today / US Correspondent
Former atheist and American award-winning Christian author Lee Strobel premiered his one-hour documentary "The Case for a Creator" to hundreds of Christians at an apologetics conference in the US on Friday. The aftermath of the movie: Christians felt they actually learned something. "We are actually living now at a time of tremendous intellectual renaissance of Christianity," said philosopher and author Dr. William Lane Craig. Craig's comment came after fellow philosopher J.P. Moreland told conference participants that the church has become anti-intellectual. "We've got to start using cognitive language and not just faith language," Moreland exhorted.
Over the last several decades, Christians have begun to emerge back into the intellectual public square. This is primarily occurring in the field of philosophy, New Testament studies with regard to the historical Jesus and the gospels, and it is now beginning to occur in the physical sciences as manifested in the Intelligent Design movement, Craig explained.
Presenting clear scientific evidence that Christians had largely been without, Strobel's "Case for a Creator" revealed a complex universe that many scientists could now only explain with the existence of some kind of intelligence. Biochemist Michael Behe demonstrated how bacterial flagellum are molecular machines that could only function with all its parts present simultaneously, much like a mouse trap. If one part is missing, it would not function and would thus have no reason to exist. Evolution would not preserve it. Such evidence as Behe's was presented in other scientific fields including cosmology, physics and astronomy in the documentary. "I believe that by doing science, we find God," said Strobel.
Philosopher Jay Richards of Acton Institute concluded from his findings that the universe was designed for discovery. And with each discovery, the Darwinian theory of evolution is expected to go down as "a huge mistake in history," Richards said.
One participant, Robert Wedan, 53, praised the documentary, saying that it gave him stronger grounds to defend Creation. "It's movies like [‘Case for a Creator’] that I think will make it a lot easier to address those issues."
"Today, science is pointing more powerfully to a creator than any other time," said Strobel. "The most logical and rational step is to put my faith in the Creator that science tells me exists." Now, Christians can stand confidently within biblical truth knowing that it's in line with astrophysics and cosmology, said Strobel, quoting a cosmology expert. "It is now the atheist who has to maintain by faith, despite all of the evidence to the contrary, that the universe did not have a beginning."

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Computer History - LISA, LISA and the Jobs Jam

Apple Computer announced the Lisa Computer in 1983. The Lisa was named after Steve Jobs' daughter. However, LISA officially stood for Logical Integrated Software Architecture. The Lisa's significance in computing history is that it was the first commercial computer with a GUI and mouse designed for the mass market. Although critically acclaimed, the Lisa generated relatively low sales numbers -- primarily due to its $10,000 price tag.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Audio 'Bible Experience' a Big Hit!

By JAMES PRICHARD, Associated Press Writer
It's an epic telling of the life of Jesus _ an ambitious production featuring an all-star cast. But it's not a movie or miniseries.
It's a new audio Bible released by Zondervan, one of the world's largest publishers of religious books. "Inspired By ... The Bible Experience: New Testament" features a large, all-black cast including some of Hollywood's biggest names. And in the world of audio books, it's a smash.
It has been at or near the No. 1 spot among the best-selling books listed on Wal-Mart's Web site since its early fall release. The retail chain Family Christian Stores say it's the fastest-selling audio Bible it has ever stocked. The 21-hour production, which lists for $49.99, features the voice talents of more than 250 singers, clergy and actors, including Denzel Washington, Cuba Gooding Jr., Angela Bassett and Alfre Woodard. Blair Underwood portrays Jesus, and Samuel L. Jackson, who played a Scripture-spouting hit man in"Pulp Fiction,"is the voice of God.
"It's really good and it's transcending every barrier. We're thrilled with the way that the product has turned out,"said Paul Caminiti, vice president and publisher of Bibles for Zondervan, a Grand Rapids-based division of News Corp.-owned HarperCollins. Zondervan started shipping "Bible Experience" in late September and has sold more than 70,000 units, Caminiti said. By comparison, Zondervan, which publishes the five best-selling audio Bibles in the United States, sells about 60,000 units each year of its longtime top-seller,the "New International Version Audio Bible" (aka Audio Bible Voice Only-NIV
"Bible Experience" is available on CD and in mp3 formats, with an Old Testament version due in fall 2007 that is expected to run much longer. It will feature many of the same well-known actors, although someone will take over for Jackson as God, a role that will balloon from about two hours to more than 70 hours.
The project is the brainchild of Kyle Bowser, a former television executive with a law degree. At Fox Broadcasting Co. in the early 1990s, he helped develop such TV shows as the sketch comedy series"In Living Color," a show with a mostly black cast that also propelled white comedian Jim Carrey to stardom, and the Charles S. Dutton situation comedy "Roc."Dutton is one of the performers on the new audio Bible.
Bowser, who is black, said he recommitted himself to Christianity in 1997 around the time his wife, TV sitcom producer Yvette Lee Bowser, was pregnant with their first child. A few years later, he bought a 65-CD audio Bible that he quit listening to "after the first two or three discs" because he was not inspired by the storytelling. "The production value was lacking and I thought, gee whiz, if we could do this and really capture people's attention, how much more impactful and engaging it might be,"he said. Bowser formed a Beverly Hills, Calif.-based production company called Inspired By Media Group with three fellow Christians: new media executive Ron Belk, music producer Louis"Buster"Brown and casting director Robi Reed, who was principally responsible for getting commitments from the talent.
About a year and a half ago, an agent representing the four partners approached Zondervan with their idea. The publisher agreed to provide financing as well as text from its Today's New International Version Bible, a conversational translation aimed at young readers. "Bible Experience" spent several years in development before recording started last December. Work on the entire New Testament, plus part of the Old Testament, was completed around July 1st.
Underwood said in a written statement that he was proud to have worked on the project, which he said was a "unique and timely" version of the Bible. The producers decided early on to cast only black actors and other personalities, hoping to attract a black audience, as well as fans of some of the world's biggest box-office draws. They also wanted to shatter the Hollywood mold of white Bible productions. "I was particularly interested in developing a product that might resonate with the African-American community," Bowser said. "I've long felt that Christian product tends to ignore our perspective." He called it "a gift from our community to the world to be shared and appreciated by all."
"Bible Experience" features a complete, original musical score with selections performed by the Prague Symphony Orchestra. Its state-of-the-art sound effects take listeners into the story. Virtually every actor whom Reed approached immediately agreed to participate. All performers received union scale pay with a few of the biggest names promised "nominal" percentages of profits, Bowser said."No one did this for the money," he said.
There was some debate among the producers whether to restrict the cast to Christians. They finally decided not to, since the Bible is filled with both Christians and non-Christians, Bowser said. "That way we availed ourselves to the best talent in the community," he said. "But I can tell you, whether they were believers or nonbelievers, everyone that participated came with a high degree of reverence and total respect for the significance of this project."
On the Net:
Inspired By Media Group:

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Computer History - Inkjet Printers

IBM invented the first inkjet-based printer in 1976. It took nearly twenty years of research and incremental developments including Siemens' "drop-on-demand" inkjet technology, HP's "thermal" technology, and Epson's "piezo-electric" technology to overcome the challenges of producing a practical and affordable commercial inkjet product. Hewlett Packard released the first personal printer based on thermal inkjet technology, the HP Thinkjet, in 1984. Less than four years later, HP introduced the first mass-marketed personal inkjet printer, the HP Deskjet, in 1988.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Computer History -- Open Source Movement

Eric S. Raymond published his essay "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" in latter-1997. Based on his observations of the LINUX kernel development process and his own software management experiences, Raymond described his "Bazaar" model for software development as the basis of Open Source Software. The paper was published as part of a book of the same name in 1999 . It became the manifesto of the Open Source Software movement.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A $350,000 Laptop? Put That on My Christmas Wish List!

Bargain laptop hunters, do not read this blog. Dutch company Ego-Lifestyle has brought its latest high-end luxury laptop, the Tulip Ego, to the States just in time for the holiday shopping season. Barneys New York will be the first U.S. retailer to feature the handbag-shaped laptop and its corresponding interchangeable "skins," which are available in a variety of designer fabrics and finishes.
And all this can be yours for a mere $5,000. The laptop, first introduced at Milan Fashion Week in the spring, has a 12.1-inch screen, an AMD Turion processor, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and a DVD/CD burner. But if you're willing to go even further and sell off, say, your house or [more], you might consider the limited-edition Platinum, Diamond, and Otazu Ego Diamond models. The latter, designed by Rodrigo Otazu, sports a total of 470 diamonds arranged in tulip, heart and Otazu logo patterns. The Otazu currently sells for $350,000.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Weakest Link - People and Processes or the Tools and Technology?

Is it the people and processes or the tools and technology?
By Lafe Low
When you read the horror stories about data theft and security breaches in the papers (you do still read newspapers, don't you?), they're often less about technological capabilities and more about lack of resources. And sometimes, just for a change of pace, it's one head blaming the other. Talk about throwing up your hands and rolling your eyes. According to a recent survey by privacy research firm the Ponemon Institute in Elks Rapids, Mich., nearly two-thirds of security executives believe they have no way to prevent a data breach. Now, isn't that encouraging?
The National Survey on the Detection and Prevention of Data Breaches (get a copy of the survey from the Ponemon Institute) surveyed 853 randomly selected information security professionals about their data-protection practices. Despite numerous stories in the media about credit card numbers and the personal data of thousands of government workers floating about in the ether, attitudes about the state of data security range somewhere between hopeless and abysmal.

The study revealed that:
* 63 percent believe they cannot prevent a data breach
* 59 percent believe they can effectively detect a data breach
* 68 percent believe they could detect a large data breach (more than 10,000 files)
* 51 percent believe they are likely to detect smaller breaches (fewer than 100 files)
* 41 percent of companies surveyed do not believe they're effective at enforcing data security policy
The main reason these security professionals gave for failed enforcement? You guessed it -- lack of resources. There were 35 percent of respondents who stated that leak-prevention technologies are simply too expensive. One other interesting note from the survey was that 16 percent of companies surveyed believe they're invulnerable to a data breach. Ignorance must surely be bliss.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

U.S. Drug Manufacturer Recalls 11 Million Bottles of Acetaminophen Pills

Source: FOXNews / AP
A major manufacturer of store-brand acetaminophen recalled 11 million bottles of the pain-relieving pills Thursday after discovering some were contaminated with metal fragments. There were no immediate reports of injuries or illness.
Perrigo Co. said it discovered the metal bits during quality-control checks. The company passed 70 million pills through a metal detector and discovered the metal in about 200 caplets, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The fragments ranged in size from "microdots" to portions of wire one-third of an inch long. The recall affects bottles containing various amounts of 500-milligram caplets.
Perrigo bills itself as the world's largest manufacturer of store-brand nonprescription drugs. The Allegan, Michigan, company did not disclose the chains for which it manufactures the store-brand acetaminophen. A list of batch numbers and store brands affected by the recall was forthcoming, the FDA said. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT), CVS Corp. (CVS), Walgreen Co. (WAG) and Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST) are among the companies Perrigo supplies with health care products, according to company Securities and Exchange Commission filings.
Perrigo (PRGO) said the pills contained raw material purchased from a third-party supplier and affected 383 batches.
Acetaminophen is best known as the drug in products sold under the Tylenol brand, but is widely available in generic versions. The recall does not affect Tylenol. The recall should not cause a shortage of acetaminophen, the FDA said. The voluntary recall is considered a Class II recall since it covers products that might cause a temporary health problem or pose only a slight threat of a serious nature, according to the FDA. Consumers with questions can call Perrigo toll free at (877) 546-0454.
Consumers who swallow any of the contaminated pills could suffer minor stomach discomfort or possible cuts to the mouth and throat, the FDA said, adding that the risk of serious injury was remote. Anyone who suspects they have been injured should contact their doctor, the agency said. The FDA said Perrigo began investigating after realizing the equipment it uses to make pills was wearing down prematurely.

iPod Liberation Event - iRony held at MIT

By: Benjamin Mako Hill
Last month, the MIT Media Lab Computing Counter Culture Group and the Harvard Free Culture Group held an "iPod Liberation event" -- a RockBox and iPodLinux "installfest" for Apple iPods. The event was held as a response to the fact that Apple installs iPods with an operating system -- a "firmware" -- that conflicts with the ideals of free and open source software and free culture and treats users parternalistically and adversarially. During the event, dubbed iRony, users were walked through the process of installing flexible and featureful free/open source software firmware -- without DRM -- onto their digital audio players.
With nearly 70 million iPods and more than a billion iTunes songs sold, Apple has become the single largest vendor of DRM (digital rights/restrictions management) equipped technology and DRM-encumbered music. As a result, Apple was one of the first and most important targets of the Defective by Design anti-DRM campaign. Apple's critics have focused on the way that Apple privileges its own products, technologies, and services on the iPod. While Apple's stated goal of simplicity might suggest a hard drive interface onto which one could simply drag music and play, iPod users must go through iTunes, which obscures the file names and locations of the user's files on the iPod's hard drive. Users cannot easily move songs from an iPod onto another computer or iPod. By default, only a single "home" computer can extract files. Furthermore, Apple intentionally blocks integration between iPod and third-party software and music formats.
Most egregiously in the eyes of some digital freedom advocates, iPods have become the single most important vehicle for DRM -- greatly restricting music lovers' ability to share or control their music. Of course, Apple supports only its own DRM format -- an action that has been the subject of parliamentary discussion in France and grumbling globally. Similarly, Apple has refused to support popular patent- and royalty-free file formats such as OGG Vorbis and FLAC, placing owners of large FLAC and Vorbis collections out in the cold. Finally, many people want to use their iPods for more than music and video consumption, but Apple refuses to entertain these possibilities or to let users write or install software onto their iPod.
iPods have become a symbol of everything that free and open source software and free culture advocates oppose: iPods may belong to their owner, but they do what Apple and the music industry says. Your iPod may be yours, but it is outside of your control.

Breaking iPod's chains
To date, most protests critiquing Apple have been designed to keep consumers from buying more iPods, music from iTunes, and other Apple products. While a successful economic boycott is an excellent tactic, there is no place in it for the tens of millions of people who already have iPods. An alternative -- free and open source firmware -- can provide a solution to each of the issues described above, a way to return control of iPods to their users, and a way to involve the large number of people who already have iPods. The iPodLinux and RockBox projects offer two such firmwares.
iPodLinux aimed to address the issues presented by Apple's restrictive firmware by porting a version of ucLinux, a version of Linux designed to run on embedded systems, to the iPod. Additionally, iPodLinux hackers wrote a piece of software called Podzilla that mimics the interface and features of the familiar Apple firmware while allowing users to improve and customize it. For example, iPodLinux can run games (such as chess, solitaire, and Doom) or applications (such as calculators and music composition software) that were unavailable in the Apple iPod software. The iPodLinux project has been growing for more than two years and has been ported to nearly every generation of the iPod.
More recently, hackers have ported RockBox, a firmware written originally for the Archos Jukebox player, to a growing list of later generation iPods. RockBox can also run custom software and does not require any additional software (a la iTunes) to copy files onto or off an iPod. Additionally, it can play music encoded in MP3, FLAC, and OGG Vorbis out of the box. As one might expect, RockBox (like iPodLinux) does not provide support for DRMed formats. (NewsForge wrote about installing RockBox on an iPod earlier this year.)
However, while RockBox and iPodLinux have created interfaces similar to the iPod's default software and have become extremely easy to use for most people, both have been difficult to install for all but the most seasoned geeks. Even with new installers that automate much of the process, the act of "overwriting a boot loader" on an iPod remains an insurmountably frightening barrier for many would-be users of custom firmware.
For this reason, several free software and free culture advocates in the Boston area borrowed the idea of an "installfest" from the GNU/Linux community as a way of introducing users to alternative iPod firmware. Installfests became popular in the '90s, when GNU/Linux distributions were becoming increasingly easy to use but installation remained a prohibitively high barrier to entry -- installing GNU/Linux frequently required compiling a custom kernel and more. Even with extensive online documentation, the difficult installation process for most GNU/Linux distributions kept many interested users away. Installfests were embraced by Linux user groups as a way of both helping new users over the initial installation hump and helping introduce users into a support community of local enthusiasts.
Free and open source software on embedded systems and digital audio players is at a similar point in development to where free and open source software on desktop workstations was a decade ago. RockBox and iPod Linux are far from bug-free or feature-complete, but are reasonably stable. Most importantly, the greatest barrier to installation is the lack of tools and installers (in the case of RockBox) and the fear of screwing up and rendering a digital audio player inoperable ("bricking" a device in the community vernacular). In addition to building community, an install party can give iPod users access to more experienced users who can install alternate firmware on their player and to get a running start with their new firmware.

The iRony event
iRony was billed as an install party or an "iPod Liberation event" and garnered mention in the local press in the week leading up to the event. The event was organized by a broad group of people interested in free culture, including members of MIT, Harvard, Northeastern, and Emerson universities.
The event was open the public, advertised primarily online, but also mentioned in the local press, who were eager to report on any opposition to the ubiquitous Apple devices. Held in the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Mass., the event attracted more than 50 attendees and several dozen iPods to be liberated.
Organizers set up laptops running Ubuntu GNU/Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows XP at the center of the room. iPod users brought their players to experienced users, who would determine the generation of the iPod and the current partition format, and inquire about the user's needs. Together they would decide on a firmware (RockBox, iPodLinux, or both) and walk through the process of installation. Meanwhile, others looked on to watch the process and learn how it was done. RockBox was installed on the majority of the iPods with great success.
In addition to iPod installation, the organizers invited users to play music on a large stereo system using their newly liberated music players. The vast majority of participants left with liberated iPods and had a great time. A definitive tally of iPods liberated proved evasive, but it was more than 40.

Ultimately, the goal of an iPod liberation event is education: education about software freedom, education about DRM, education about using RockBox and iPodLinux. As a result, it is communication, and not technology, that should be central. It's a good rule of thumb to spend more time talking than you think is necessary. Before an iPod is installed, make sure that every users knows:

  • The process: Make sure that users understand what your installing on their iPods and roughly how you are going to do it before you begin.
  • The point: Every user should want RockBox and should have some idea of what it's going to let them do. They won't take advantage of something they don't understand. Help them understand the DRM angle. At iRony, one user bought an iPod for the party. It is important to help these users understand that this is not something we can continue to support.
  • The risks: Ensure that each user has backups and is comfortable with the risks involved in installing alternate firmware.
  • The drawbacks: Reduced battery life and increased crashes while in RockBox are likely, and loss of iTunes DRM-encumbered music is a sure thing.

After installation, organizers should work with users to ensure that they understand a variety of issues around the maintenance and support of their new firmware. Since much of this information will be repeated to every user -- and because one can only absorb so much -- it might be a good idea to create a flier to hand out at the event. In particular, organizers should:

  • Ensure that users know how to boot back to the Apple firmware (this usually entails pressing menu when the iPod reboots).
  • Make sure that users know how to reboot their iPod if and when it freezes.
  • Ensure that users understand how to upgrade RockBox. You're installing daily builds, and users will want to upgrade to the latest stuff.
  • Ensure that users know where to look for help. Make sure they know how to find the RockBox or iPodLinux wiki and that they have contacts in your group if they have serious problems.

Other Resources
If you are interested in liberating your iPod, in holding your own iRony party, or simply in learning more, the following list of links provide a set of interesting places to start:

Information and tools for installing:

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Results of a Moraless Culture? Vulgar Toys

We reap what we sow -- and this has got to be one of the worst products ever created. It's called "Swear Bear"; a plush teddy bear that cusses at you -- in the name of humor. The website selling Swear Bear describes it...

This bear needs his mouth washed out with soap! He looks like the perfect cuddly toy to send home with your child or give to a loved one. Unfortunately, due to a small error in design, his chip says "Eat sh*t and die, mother f*cker", "Nobody loves you, everybody hates you, go f*ck yourself", "Hey D*ckhead, what're you, some kind of pervert, gotta touch teddy bears?", and more. He isn't appropriate for children, but you know the value of a swear word or two. He comes packaged in a humorous and descriptive open color box and stands about 6 1/2-inches tall. Why not let him give you a little attitude?
Other phrases are unprintable as this is a family oriented site, but you get the idea. How disgusting! I won't link to the site the sells this awful product, but I did want you to know it's out there. I would encourage negative reviews and complaints the company. This kind of product has no redeeming value and no place in a civilized society.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

What The Maryland Study On Diebold Voting Machines Didn't Tell You

from the now-you-can-find-out dept
One of the issues concerning e-voting machines, and Diebold in particular, is how they've responded to all the criticism and vulnerabilities -- with the company often being accused of covering up, ignoring or denying the problems. Steven Zakulec writes to let us know that back in 2003, Maryland commissioned a study on the Diebold machines they'd just spent millions on, in response to the concerns originally raised by Prof. Avi Rubin. According to Steven: "Right from the beginning Diebold demanded two very broad concessions: no source code access, and they reserve the right to redact out any proprietary information." That seems like a pretty questionable demand, and one Diebold should have been in no position to make, considering the importance of truly independent investigation into the machines.
The final "redacted" report came out weighing in at a lightweight 38 pages. Remember, Diebold was only supposed to redact proprietary info. Turns out that they found an awful lot of that. Someone high up has leaked the original documents which weighs in at 200 pages meaning that someone (most likely Diebold) was able to knock out 162 pages of info on vulnerabilities. The link above has the entire original document for downloading, and wonders how many of the many, many vulnerabilities discussed in the report were actually dealt with before the 2004 election and how many were dealt with before today's election. Chances are not that many.
In the meantime, if you're looking to feel confident about e-voting companies and their tech ability, Chief Elf writes in to let us know that he went to check out the company, Advanced Voting Systems, that built the e-voting system he used this morning, and found a nice big error message right on their home page. I just checked and it was still there, but in case they fix it, here's a screenshot. It's tough to trust these companies to build competent voting machines when they can't even correct database/PHP errors on their own website on election day.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Apple Unveils NEW 8GB RED Edition iPod Nano

Apple Store
Source: TechTree
Earlier this year, Apple Computer introduced its Red Edition 4GB iPod nano in support of the Red Campaign towards raising a Global Fund to Fight AIDS in Africa. Latest reports say the company has introduced an 8GB Red Edition iPod nano, reiterating its commitment to the world initiative.
The Red campaign was kicked off in the US in October, under the aegis of lead singer of U2, Bono, and philanthropist, Bobby Shriver, with support from none other than UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan.
The campaign was kick-started as a corporate charity movement, wherein corporates would donate a portion of sales proceeds from designated products towards the Global Fund to Fight AIDS in Africa.
The 8GB Red Edition iPod nano is similar to the 4GB version in most aspects, except that it can hold up to around 2,000 songs, which is nearly double the capacity of the 4GB Red nano already on the market. In a statement, Greg Joswiak, vice president worldwide iPod product marketing, Apple Computer, said that customer response to the 4GB version has been phenomenal so far, and that they expect a similar response for the new version. The 8GB Red iPod nano is immediately available, and retails for approximately $249.
For every 4GB or 8GB Red Edition iPod nano purchased through the Apple online and retail stores, Apple will donate $10 towards the Global Fund to fight AIDS in Africa.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Computer History - The Microprocessor

Intel released the 4004 CPU in November, 1971. The 4004 was the first computer on a chip. It ushered in the era of the microprocessor. The combination of memory and processor on a single chip dramatically reduced size and cost while increasing computer speed. This event was the latest in the evolution of the vacuum tube --> to the transistor --> to the integrated circuit.


Friday, November 03, 2006

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Campaign Launched

U.S. health officials stress disease is real, though treatments remain elusive.
U.S. health officials on Friday launched a major campaign to increase awareness of chronic fatigue syndrome, an illness that has labored under an intense level of controversy."This disease has been shrouded in a lot of mystery. Sometimes people question if it's real or not real," Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a news conference. "We hope to help patients know they have an illness that requires medical attention and help physicians be able to diagnose the illness, and be able to validate and understand the incredible suffering that many people and their families experience in this context."

Puritan's Pride Offer Banner

The campaign will consist of public service announcements, brochures, a "tool kit" for health-care professionals and a photo exhibit called "The Faces of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome," which will travel to cities across the country throughout 2007. "We hope this will be a turning point in the public's awareness of the disease as well as in health-care professionals' ability to diagnose and treat it," Kim McCleary, president and CEO of the CFIDS Association of America, said at the news conference. "This launch is so important to increasing understanding of this illness," added Dr. Nancy Klimas, of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. "Historically, lack of credibility of this illness has been a major stumbling block."
According to Dr. William Reeves, of the CDC's National Center for Infectious Diseases, the level of impairment experienced by people with chronic fatigue syndrome is comparable to that of multiple sclerosis, AIDS, end-stage renal failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. One CFS patient, Adrianne Ryan, said that sometimes taking a walk or a shower was too much, and resulted in her collapsing for weeks afterwards. Ryan is a former marathoner.
Doctors still don't know what causes CFS or how to treat it successfully, but more than 4,000 studies over the past two decades show definite underlying biological abnormalities, said Dr. Anthony Komaroff, of Harvard Medical School. "This is not an illness that people can imagine they have. It's not a psychological illness," he said. "That debate, which has raged for 20 years, should now be over."
Among other things, Komaroff pointed out, the brain hormone systems of people with CFS are different than those without the disease. Brain functioning is also impaired and cells' energy metabolism seems to be compromised. Analyses of the activity levels of 20,000 genes in people with CFS have found abnormalities in genes related to the part of brain activity mediating the stress response, Reeves said.
Some 1 million Americans suffer from the disease. Women are affected at about four times the rate as men and non-white women are affected more than white women. The disease can affect any age and demographic but is most likely to strike when a person is 40 to 59 years of age. According to a large study conducted in Wichita, Kans., only half of people with CFS have consulted a physician and only 16 percent have been diagnosed and treated, although studies have shown that those who get appropriate care early in the illness have better long-term results. A quarter of people with the disease were unemployed or receiving disability, with the average affected family foregoing $20,000 annually in income. That amounts to $9.1 billion in lost income and wages for the U.S. economy as a whole, the study found.
While there's reason to be happy with advances in the basic scientific knowledge of the disease, Klimas said she was less happy with advances in care. Over the past 20 years, she said, she has treated more than 2,000 people with CFS who were "angry and defiant, frustrated, trying to convince physicians, friends and families that this was a real illness."
"We need much more work to understand the biological underpinnings and translate this into clinical practice," she said. "At the same time, there are effective strategies we can use right now, treatments that do help and help significantly.", Inc.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Windows Vista Arriving on November 30th

by Tim Gray

The November 30 launch date for Windows Vista is Microsoft's way of giving businesses a head start in their Vista upgrade plans. Windows Vista for consumers will not be available until January 2007, although Microsoft has not announced a formal release date as of yet.
After several years of delays and false starts, Microsoft is finally gearing up for the big launch of Windows Vista and Office 2007 for businesses on November 30 at an event in New York.
Business customers with either an enterprise license or a software assurance contract are scheduled to get the first look at the final versions of the long-awaited programs during Microsoft event held at New York's Nasdaq stock exchange. Corporate users will have access to the applications early to allow them to test the programs before rolling them out.

The Big Picture
Although Microsoft has not set a formal rollout date for the retail versions of Windows Vista, Simon Yates, an analyst with Forrester Research, said the date of the business launch signals that Microsoft is on track to release Vista to consumers in January 2007. "It says a lot that they are confident to deliver the business version at the end of the month after years slipping and delays," Yates said.
Both Vista and Office had originally been scheduled to arrive on store shelves and on new PCs in time for this year's holiday season. But in March, the software giant pushed back the debut of the consumer versions until January. At the time, the company said it couldn't meet the schedule required by some PC manufacturers and others in the industry.
"Clearly, retailers are bummed out they didn't have it in time for Christmas," said Laura DiDio, an analyst with the Yankee Group. "But most users don't care; it is not like 1995 when people were lining up at midnight." DiDio, who has been testing the beta versions of Vista as they have rolled out, said there are some "very good improvements" in Windows Vista, but she also said the operating system is more evolutionary than revolutionary. She said the Vista interface looks good and has a faster search engine. "The whole environment has changed from 10 years ago," she said. "It better have, because we have waited so long for it."

Company Updates
According to Forrester's research, one-fourth of larger companies (1,000 or more employees) will deploy Vista within the first year of its release, and another one-fourth expect to do the same within two years of the release. "From that standpoint, there will be gradual replacements for the new hardware requirements," said Forrester's Yates.
While Microsoft fell short of getting Vista out to the masses for the 2006 holiday season, Yates noted, the release of the business version is a positive step toward finally getting the retail version out of the gate.
Windows is, by far, Microsoft's most profitable product. Some experts expect Windows Vista will be Microsoft's last major rollout before the operating system begins migrating to a Web-based format. "The software has become bloated and difficult to manage, constantly needing patches and fixes," said Yates. "You will always need some applications on local machines but we are now moving toward having the programs sit on the back end of servers somewhere."
Office 2007 is slated to have retail prices of between $149 for the student edition and $679 for an "ultimate" package. Vista will sell for $200 to $400 for new customers, and $100 to $260 for users who want to upgrade from Windows XP.