Chavez: US Caused Haiti Earthquake

. Saturday, January 30


Is Chavez delusional, or is he voicing the world’s opinion of the US?

Various news sources report that on Wednesday, Hugo Chavez believes that the killer earthquake in Haiti followed the testing of a “tectonic weapon.”

He pointed to a project called HAARP, “High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program,” a study taking place in Alaska that’s purpose is to reconfigure the ionosphere to improve satellite communications. It is believed that by altering the climate, earthquakes and volcanoes are set off by electromagnetic waves.

I gave “HAARP” a rudimentary Google search and immediately found, a site blasting the University of Alaska’s project, calling it a “Pandora’s Box” and “a harp only angels should play.”

I’m not a scientist, nor do I play one on TV, so I’m going to let those with the relevant knowledge decide whether playing with the ionosphere will cause earthquakes or not. If that is the case, then what the heck are they doing up there in Alaska? And, why haven’t we heard of this weapon of mass destruction before? Why is something so humongous in the arsenal of my country?

If that isn’t the case, then what the heck does the world think of us? In our defense, we are just as hoodwinked as the rest of the world because we had no idea this crap was going on.

Laws for Our Safety or for Insurance Co’s Profit?


textdriveI’ve been driving a long, long while, close to 40 years now. It’s one of those things that I do on a daily basis and just as reflexively as walking. I’ve been talking on a phone just as long, with many years of experience doing so while doing something else. Multitasking has been around a lot longer than computers and cell phones and gadgets (though it took the common use of computers to come up with a label for doing more than one thing at a time), and it is something we humans are capable of. Why? Who cares why? We just are.

Just as obvious is that we know when our attention is divided too much just as instinctively. Ask any mother of a a toddler just how much attention she needs to pay to her child while doing other things. She learns quickly to grow eyes in the back of her head to monitor her child’s activities. If you know of a mother of a young child who doesn’t pick up toys, make beds, do dishes, dust, mop, throw a load of clothes in the washer and cook all with a phone held between her shoulder and ear, then you’ve met a rare mother indeed.

So all this crap about writing laws to prevent talking on a cell phone while driving is just about as ridiculous to me as the seat belt laws. Come on! Who does my not wearing a seat belt threaten? Why, my insurance company’s bottom line; a what, not a who. Point made.

Sure, cell phones fit in pockets a heck of a lot better than they fit between a shoulder and ear, and that tilted head skews visual depth perception quite a bit. So, guess what?  I don’t do it! It takes too much concentration to figure out that skewed perception and carry on a conversation at the same time. I don’t talk on a cell phone and drive well, so I don’t do it. I don’t think I’m alone in this either. It’s called common sense and self-preservation all wrapped up in one.

But, there’s a legion of roosters strutting around in pomp and self-importance – and perhaps a mighty investment in insurance company stock – that insists that they know better than I know myself what is good for me. How dare they!

Beginning drivers, those who haven’t been driving long enough to build the neural pathways to develop the instincts it takes to drive safely, probably shouldn’t talk on a cell phone while driving. Even then, one close call is usually enough to drive that point home, don’t you think? That’s how we learned, right? And since a cell phone doesn’t fit between my shoulder and ear well, I don’t talk on it while driving unless I have my headphones or bluetooth.

Now, even more of those never-ending “studies” have come out that shows that accident rates do not drop in states that have banned cell phone use while driving! And those same studies indicate that texting, for some, certainly not me, has become just as second-nature as talking on a phone while doing chores, and again, show no drop in the accident rates.

Don’t get me wrong. I know that there are a lot people out there that have never heard of common sense, let alone have any, and do stupid things that threaten their well-being constantly and in the process, threaten others. They’ve been out there a lot longer than cell phones! Knowing this, we all learn to drive defensively. We have to. Cars are deadly just because they are 3,000 pounds moving down the road!

Why not just ban driving and get it over with? Oh, can’t do that – there’d be no profit in it. Pshaw!

Google Voice on iPhone: Another Step Toward World Hegemony?

. Wednesday, January 27

IMG_0631Google is at it again. On the heels of unveiling “Near me now” and “Explore right here,” the search giant went live with its Google Voice HTML5 Web application for iPhone.

By creating a Web-based application using HTML5 standards, Google brings its Voice application to the iPhone in spite of AT&T’s refusal to allow the app to be available through iTunes. Google is pushing the new standards and has already created rich Web applications for Gmail, Reader and YouTube.

The screen shot is the Voice application on my iPhone. But, right from the get-go, some things don’t work the way you’d expect. It is not as seamless as an application written for the iPhone would be, starting with the ability to use the app to place an outgoing call. On a computer, to place a call, you enter in the phone number and the service then rings your phone and the desired phone number at the same time. In the process, your Google Voice number shows in the Caller ID.

That didn’t happen when I tested the service. On my phone, it showed that I dialed a strange number, and on my friend’s Caller ID was my iPhone’s number. Not good since that was the primary reason for wanting to use the service. Still, the only usefulness of Google Voice, to me, is having a secondary number to give out to keep my private number private, with all calls going straight to the service’s voice mail. In other words, it’s limited since I can’t make calls from that number without my home computer.

Another source of confusion, and limitation, is the announcement of the Web app for the iPhone with the address as, which will not come up in my phone’s browser. Instead, I entered and the app came right up. I’m not sure if it is possible to block a mobile site address across AT&T’s network, nor if it is a blocked address why the Web address still brings up the mobile application. Nor am I sure if this is the reason for the app’s limitations on my iPhone. What I am sure of is that Google will quickly fix what does not yet work as the application grows in popularity.

With Google pushing location independent (cloud) connectivity to the Internet, what with its suite of Web apps and mobile apps, there is speculation that the usefulness of applications installed on individual computers will decrease dramatically as the demand for broadband goes through the roof as a result.

In the process of pushing HTML5 standards, Google is putting the ax to Adobe’s Flash. By pushing Web applications, and now Android, it is threatening Microsoft’s position as the leader in office and operating systems. By making its mobile applications as slick and powerful as any native computer application, it is pushing mobile and Internet service providers to expand as exponentially as Microsoft pushed hardware manufacturers on its way up to the top of the heap. By pushing location independence, Google is, single-handedly, reinventing the usefulness and value of Internet connectivity for individuals and businesses alike.

No, I am not another tech writer, nor do I keep that close of an eye on tech advances outside of my own little niche of interest. But, that Google keeps breaking into the mass media warrants a bit more attention. In the middle of it all, a few major opportunities to jump on its bandwagon just might be the thing to drag the world out of this economic depression.

At this rate, Google just might become the world’s next hegemonic government. Starfleet, here we come! Is it farfetched? You decide.

Location-Based Search a Reality

. Sunday, January 24


Quietly, behind the scenes, Google adds another layer of useful technology to expand our world for us. The potential is staggering; it will change the world, according to Mike Elgan. He says it’s been thought of before by visionaries at HP, Microsoft, and Cornell and Duke Universities. But, it’s Google that has made it a reality.

On your iPhone or ‘Droid with location active, Google will now search based on where you are with its new “Near me now” feature. A search for pizza, for instance, will give you a list of all the pizza shops nearby, their phone number and a map to show you where, exactly, it’s at. “Explore right here” will bring up all the notes others have left about that particular pizza shop.

Elgan predicts that this will grow to even more usefulness as the technology matures. For instance, he says, imagine walking down the street by a Starbucks. You phone beeps, and a coupon for latte pops up on your screen. Show your screen to the cashier, and you have an instant discount. Continuing on, you reach home, your phone beeps to let you know UPS had been by to deliver a package, and if you press the button, it will be delivered  by 6 p.m. The possibilities are endless.

While some may see this as giving up a bit of our privacy, we can enjoy a mountain of perks. Of course, it’s supported by ads, and those ads are now context sensitive and relevant, far more than advertising has ever been. History and information about your particular location will be at the tip of your fingers.

Adding to Elgan’s prediction, I can see that individual awareness can bloom exponentially, enabling each of us to actively participate in our surroundings. It just may be the thing that brings social networking into our off-line life and enhances our lives in ways we have yet to imagine.

Star Trek, here we come.

Inattention Blindness on the Rise

. Sunday, January 17


It can be Three Musketeers, slapstick funny, which is how it first came out last July when a girl stepped into an open manhole while texting on her cell phone. Now, the NY Times reports on statistical analyses that indicate increasingly severe injuries occurring while people walk and text or read or talk on the phone.

The question may be that we have become so accustomed to constant multitasking that electronic gadgets use provide that we are bored or feel unproductive when only doing one task like walking or driving a car.

It stands to reason that texting while walking would be risky, but researchers are finding that just talking on a cell phone greatly limits cognition and awareness of immediate surroundings and the primary task of walking or driving.

One study noted that it wasn’t just holding a conversation with another person since people walking in pairs were not impacted and remained fully aware of their surroundings. A cell phone conversation in contrast uses far more auditory and visual brain processes to the point where visual input isn’t registered at all.

Such intense preoccupation is called “inattention blindness.”

People under 30 are the most likely to walk into a telephone pole, trip over something or walk into the path of an oncoming car, but that’s not to say that those 41 to 60 don’t suffer the same fate. Concussions, broken fingers, sprained ankles, dizziness and embarrassment are on the rise.

Folks, be careful out there.

Newspapers Still Provide More News

. Monday, January 11


Newspapers, especially local dailies, provide 61 percent more news than TV, radio, and yes, the Internet, which creeps into the tail end of the race with a measly 4 percent. This figures come from a recent study that clearly shows that the most new information, in-depth information, comes from local newspapers.

While everyone is hailing the death of local rags of all sizes, what no one seems to notice is that TV stations send fewer reporters out to capture “live” scenes and more is delivered via narrative. The sound-bite limitations give a short recap with little to no detail or depth. Radio now delivers news harvested from newspapers and TV, sometimes giving credit where credit is due, sometimes not. I’ve had my own articles read on the radio, word for word, but without that credit to me or the newspaper I write for.

While the Internet may be a great way to get your news, its content comes directly from local newspapers. Without those newspapers, there would be no news to aggregate.

So, before you go planning the funeral, take a another look. The source of news, the necessary function of keeping government honest, is still alive and well. Be thankful that it is or we’d all be left in the dark to wonder.

CAPCA Program to Open

. Sunday, January 10

PRESS RELEASE - The Community Action Program for Central Arkansas will begin a Winter Utility Assistance program beginning Jan. 11 for gas, propane or electric. Applications will be taken Monday’s and Wednesday’s from 8:30-11:30 a.m. and 1:30-4:30 p.m., Tuesday’s from 8:30-11:30 a.m. only.

All interested applicants must provide proof of their household income for the previous month for all household members 18 years or older, proof of or lack of child support for all single parent households. If a household has not had income during the previous month, they must obtain a history of claims from the Employment Security Division. Applicants will also need to provide a copy of their most recent utility bill. No determination can be made until all the requested information has been received.

For more information call Jennifer Cook, Community Advocate Li-Heap at (501) 279-2015 or visit 2006 Hasting St. Suite B in Searcy.

Lingerie of the Future?

. Saturday, January 9


Straight from Paris this month will come the introduction of lingerie that will hydrate skin and “make the moves” for you based on your own body heat.

A new line of panties tout 10 amino acids that soothe dry skin. They are called “Milkshake” and are made with knit as soft as satin.

Decollete has come up with a cupless anti-wrinkle bra to be worn while you sleep. The bra keeps the breasts apart in order to prevent the dreaded cleavage wrinkles that mysteriously appear in the night.

When you work out or flirt, your body heat rises, and if you’re wearing a Lisca bra, your breasts will rise more than your own natural allure. The bra is made from NASA’s memory foam that expands and contracts with body heat.

From Brazil comes the LZ bra, an ultra-light piece of clothing that weighs less than 67 grams.

The January 23 to 25 trade show will also feature high tech lingerie using ultrasound and laser technology to cut and construct garments with no seams.

In the Back Door? Sheikh Buys NC Ranch

. Monday, January 4


Did I mention that I’m “geographically challenged?” So, I Googled it. I had to when I came across an article titled, “SC Horse Property Bought by Dubai Ruler.” Dubai, located within the United Arab Republics, is right there in the center of the proverbial Hot Seat. No, one bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch, but what is left to think when a whole lot of bad apples are all from the same basket?

That’s my train of thought when I read this little snippet of an article found on

Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, has purchased 360 acres in South Carolina’s Aiken County through the Darley America arm of his Thoroughbred empire. He eventually will operate a training facility on the property, according to a story on The deal for the land closed Dec. 30.


Plans for the site include the construction of a one-mile dirt track, Darley America president Jimmy Bell told the Aiken Standard. According to the publication, the property is located near the community of Montmorenci and is approximately six miles from the Aiken Training Track, a well-known winter training center for Thoroughbreds.


Bell also said there were no immediate plans to sell a previously purchased Aiken property, which includes two barns at the Aiken Training Track, that Darley bought from Robert and Janice McNair's Stonerside Stable in 2008.

Sure, I could just be contributing to the infinite number of conspiracy theories floating around, but this all seems to come neatly together under the guise of horse racing. Wouldn’t this large acreage be the perfect thing for a militant training center?

Just sayin’.

Use it or Lose It

. Sunday, January 3


A new fact I just learned is that middle age is now considered to be the time between the ages of 40 all the way up to the 60’s. This reclassification, it is said, is due to increased life spans. What it means to me is that I’ve been “middle aged” for a lot longer than I thought.

Like Barbara Strauch (“How to Train the Aging Brain”), I’ve noted, in my middle age, that it seems a lot has changed with the way my brain works – or doesn’t. There’s a lot to forget, having accumulated 50 some odd years of memories, but it’s not just the past. It’s the here and now that is forgotten as well with what seems like a growing propensity to lose track of what I’m doing at any given moment.

While the younger brain no doubt learns and learns quickly, what is no longer a held truth is that older brains continue to develop as well. Those things forgotten aren’t lost, they are stored deeply within that ever-growing pile of accumulated memories.

The trick, and what does fall into the “use it or lose it” category, is neural connections that do tend to wither as we age when they are seldom used. To exercise that ol’ brain, and keep all those neurons firing, it’s a good idea to “jiggle things up a bit” by confronting thoughts and ideas that are different or contrary to what has been held for a long time.

“As adults we have all those brain pathways built up, and we need to look at our insights critically,” he says. “This is the best way for adults to learn. And if we do it, we can remain sharp.”