April 29, 2002

[FOOD] - Orbit Gum -

[FOOD] - Orbit Gum - I bought some of this Orbit gum today. The ads are all over the place. What struck me funny is that it's a sugar free gum but states clearly on the package that it is not low calorie. And it isn't - there are 5 calories per tiny piece. It's not a diet buster, but where are those calories coming from, if not sugar?

Well, "Sugar Alcohols" - that's where. I know there are chemists in the audience, can anyone direct me to some information on what a sugar alcohol is? I know that alcohols and sugars are similar molecules, but I didn't know there are a middle ground. The mysterious ingredients include Sorbitol, Glycerol, Mannitol, Xylitol, Aspartame, and Acesulfame K.

Xylitol - where have I heard that one before? There was some gum in the 80's that used it, but that gum isn't around anymore. Apparently it's popular in the sweets of Finland. But this was interesting:
Medical Benefits of Xylitol Pneumococcus growth is apparently inhibited by chewing xylitol gum or taking a xylitol syrup. What does that mean? Well it might mean that we cna prevent painful ear infections in children with some chewing gum, or lessen the severity and the need for antibiotics.

Oh, and the stuff tastes pretty darn good for a sugarless gum.

Posted by James at 3:19 PM

[SPYWARE] - Spy vs. Spy

[SPYWARE] - Spy vs. Spy The battle between spyware and anti-spyware is heating up. Salon magazine reports (Salon.com Technology | Spyware vs. anti-spyware) that spyware developers have started creating spy software that surreptitiously finds its way onto your computer then specifically targets your anti-spyware software (like Ad-Aware).

If you're new to this problem, here's some background. When you install software on your machine, sometimes a little evil comes along with it. Some freeware and shareware manufacturers allow spyware (software that displays ads on your machine and spies on you) to be installed along with their product. Cydoor and BonzaiBuddy are a couple of the worst offenders - sneaking onto your computer when you're not looking.

At best they steal processor cycles, slowing down your machine. At worst, who knows what personal information they are stealing from you?

Software like Lavasoft's AD-Aware is freely available and allows you to protect yourself from spyware by deleting the most popular offending trojan horses. However, the battle is heating up with some spyware manufacturers targeting AD-Aware to disable it on your machine, opening you up to all future spyware.

My question: how is this any different from other trojan horses and viruses? Is it time to start prosecuting people who bundle spy software along with their software? Is it even possible to do so?

Posted by James at 2:36 PM

[EDUTAINMENT] - Frontier House -

[EDUTAINMENT] - Frontier House - I thought this was a neat idea when I first heard about it. Place three modern families in the kind of situation that a frontier family would face in the lat 1800's and see how they do. It beats Survivor, in my book. PBS's Fontier House begins tonight with the training that they put the folks through so that they would be prepared with some of the foreknowledge that a 19th century family would have had embarking on such an adventure.

If you're like me, you've wondered whether life would be happier if it were simpler. Our world is full of so much noise and distraction, what if we could return to a less complex time? I think it's wrong to idealize the past. When I think of the things we would be without were my family to have existed in that time, I know we would have had serious hardship including most probably the loss of at least one child. Also, "happiness" is not something that people consider much when they are chopping wood and chasing chickens around all the time. Our luxury affords us the opportunity to think about being happy.

That's not to say there aren't things we may have forgotten about those times that would enhance our lives if only we could relearn them. Hard work, reflection, tine to think, appreciating the good things in life (sometimes the small things) while you have time - these are all valuable lessons. What did the Frontier House families learn?

Posted by James at 12:50 PM

April 26, 2002

[HUMOR] - Raw and funny

[HUMOR] - Raw and funny - Need more protein in your humor diet? Try the refreshingly bizarre RED MEAT. It's a cartoon with a bite.

Posted by James at 10:40 AM

[PERSONAL] - Jango Fett -

[PERSONAL] - Jango Fett - So I bought a Jango Fett action figure. It's from Hasbro, the nice people who have helped support my daughters' hospital.
Okay, so it has nothing to do with that. I admit to embracing my inner Star Wars geek. Or maybe it's because I never got the free Kenner Boba Fett Action Figure (when you buy any four Star Wars Action Figures) back just before The Empire Strikes Back came out. Who can tell? One thing is certain. I'm a Star Wars geek.

Posted by James at 10:36 AM

April 25, 2002

[HUMOR] - Accept Jesus -

[HUMOR] - Accept Jesus - Get A Free Phone! - Some consider the Landover Baptist site to be very offensive. They consider it so offensive there is a concerted effort going on to get it removed from the WWW (if other Christian sites I've read are to be believed). This parody is a pretty blatant attack on the loudest evangelical aspects of Christianity. Thanks to freedom of speech, you can judge the humor for yourself.

Posted by James at 8:05 PM

[THE NET] - Spam As

[THE NET] - Spam As Art - You open your email program one day and you find an ad for Viagra. What do you do? You write a message back that starts out like this:

You should really pay more attention who you send your advertising to. I am a 17-year-old college student, who, as any average 17-year-old male could tell you, is erect more often than not. If a butterfly flaps it's wings in China, I guarantee you, there isn't an atomic clock that can accurately measure the speed in which I will pitch a tent.

Well, you do that if you're Jonathan Land, author of The Spam Letters.

Posted by James at 7:53 PM

April 24, 2002

[HEALTH] - Cancer with your

[HEALTH] - Cancer with your cornflakes - You'll likely be reading about this elsewhere (or everywhere) but it appears some researchers think that "basic foods eaten by millions around the world such as bread, biscuits, potato chips and french fries contain alarmingly high quantities of acrylamide, a substance believed to cause cancer"
Yahoo! News - Cancer Risk Found in French Fries, Bread.

The latest panic?

Posted by James at 3:57 PM

[KOOKS] - The Evils of

[KOOKS] - The Evils of Apple - OBJECTIVE: Creation Education: Evolutionism Propaganda is a page that will open our eyes to the evil forces trying to chip away at our Christianity. Witness:

This company is well known for its cult-like following. It isn't much of a stretch to say that it is a cult. Consider co-founder and leader Steve Jobs' constant exhortation through advertising (i.e. mind control) that its followers should "think different". We have to ask ourselves: "think different than whom or what?" The disturbing answer is that they want us to think different than our Christian upbringing, to reject all the values that we have been taught and to heed not the message of the Lord Jesus Christ!

Hear my evaluation of this individual. Or some kind of web-troll.

Posted by James at 2:48 PM

[ACTIVISM] - Do you support

[ACTIVISM] - Do you support Philip Morris? - You do if you buy Kraft products. If this is somehting that concerns you, mosey on over to Philip Morris' Website and check out the link to Kraft Foods. Yep - they're owned by PM. So is Miller Brewing Co.
Worth noting.

Posted by James at 12:38 PM

[NUDITY] - They call it

[NUDITY] - They call it the streak... I guess streaking is bigger than I thought. The BBC is compiling lists of the most memorable ones. Is this a mostly Brit phenomenon? Do the "stuffy" Brittish actually streak more than Americans? Inconceivable!
BBC SPORT | SOL | Bare without a care

Posted by James at 12:23 PM

April 23, 2002

[ENTERTAINMENT] - Visit a real

[ENTERTAINMENT] - Visit a real space station - virtually... IMAX has produced a new 3D movie: Space Station. The subject of the film? The International Space Station. IMAX partnered with Lockheed Martin and NASA to send a 3D film crew to visit the space station and record its story.

The details can be found at IMAX.com. If you've ever seen an IMAX movie in 3D (the Cirque de Soleil "Journey of Man" was stunning) and are at all interested in space, this is going to be a must-see. 3D IMAX is an immersing film experience.

This film is currently playing at the Feinstein IMAX theatre in the Providence Place Mall. Check website for showtimes.

Posted by James at 9:05 AM

April 22, 2002

[WORLD POLITICS] - Extreme Rightism

[WORLD POLITICS] - Extreme Rightism Gaining Popularity in France? - The shock is spreading in the aftermath of an extreme rightist (some say fascist) advancing to the may 5 run off which will determine the president of France. Jean-Marie Le Pen is an ex-paratroper known for (among other things) trivializing the Nazi gas chambers as a mere "detail in history."

BBC News | EUROPE | France stunned by Le Pen success
NYT: Protests grow over Le Pen's victory
NYT: Extreme Rightist Eclipses Socialist to Qualify for Runoff in France
Restless voters threaten France's old certainties

Posted by James at 12:07 PM

[ENTERTAINMENT] - Riddle me this,

[ENTERTAINMENT] - Riddle me this, Batman! - Looks like TVLand now has the old Batman series. For many of us, this series left an indelible mark on our childhoods. TVLand will be running a marathon of episodes on Monday the 29th of April. TVLand sums up the series thusly:

There was drama and conflict galore between the forces of good and evil, but the series essentially came down to two burning questions: 1) Will young Master Dick Grayson remember to be polite?; and 2) Will Batman lose the struggle against his libidinous desires for Catwoman?
Indeed. TVLand Batman (Note: TVLand is a noisy website - be warned)
Posted by James at 10:25 AM

April 21, 2002

[HEALTH] - Scientific Rigor Meets

[HEALTH] - Scientific Rigor Meets Alternative Medicine - When they start using rigorous testing on alternative medicine claims you can expect 2 things:

  1. - Most alternative treatments will be found to have no scientific basis.
  2. - It won't make a damn bit of difference to many people.

Boston Globe Online / Casting a cold eye on hot remedies

Posted by James at 12:36 AM

April 19, 2002

[ENTERTAINMENT] -Calista Setting - Yes

[ENTERTAINMENT] -Calista Setting - Yes - Ally McBeal is coming to an end. I don't have anything against the cast members, and I even found the show mildly amusing for a brief time. But if Fox axes it, perhaps there will be more cash for "Family Guy" episodes. Check out the skinny at Amazing tales from Planet Tabloid (scroll down to the McBeal story).

Posted by James at 4:24 PM

[DVD] - More DVD resources

[DVD] - More DVD resources - Last night i created my first VCD - a Video CD that plays an MPEG on a DVD player. My hope is to start moving "home movies" onto Video CD so that they can be played over and over again, and duplicated for the relatives.
RipHelp.com - Downloads - DVD provides tools for manipulating these video files.

Posted by James at 11:36 AM

April 18, 2002

[PEOPLE] - Always check the

[PEOPLE] - Always check the news while on vacation - You never know when you're wandering into a war zone. For example...

Two tourists engrossed in their guidebooks and heading for the birthplace of Jesus Christ unwittingly wandered into the centre of a war zone on Tuesday.

The Japanese couple were amazed to find that Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity was at the centre of a 16-day old siege between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian gunmen.

The whole story here: Backpackers baffled by Bethlehem siege. That's what you get for following one of those cheap celebrity Jesus maps.

Posted by James at 2:01 PM

April 17, 2002

Rui got the answer to

Rui got the answer to Tuesday's riddle. It is "Grapefruit."

Posted by James at 4:48 PM

[ENTERTAINMENT] - Akira Remake Planned

[ENTERTAINMENT] - Akira Remake Planned - Someone is remaking Akira for the western audience. Will it finally make sense? The movie verison is a pretty wild ride, but I remember being completely baffled by the original comic. I wonder if they are worth anything nowadays?

Posted by James at 1:01 PM

April 16, 2002

[HUMOR] - Caribou Study -

[HUMOR] - Caribou Study - What if your caribous study did not end up as planned? What would Dubya do? Caribou animation

Posted by James at 1:32 PM

[FUN] - Today's Riddle -

[FUN] - Today's Riddle - I just made up a riddle. Post your answers in the comments.

A very curious name have I,
Half is the truth, and half is a lie.
Unlike my brother, section by section
My name is not my complexion.

Who am I?

Posted by James at 12:30 PM

April 12, 2002

[WWW] -Random Web - If

[WWW] -Random Web - If you try to liken the Web to a book, you quickly realize that there is no beginning or end, just one big middle. (Actually, there are dead ends, but they are like the dead ends in the middle of a big labyrinth). A fun pastime when I was a child was to take an encyclopedia and open it to a random page. You can't open the www to a random page without help. Well, here's the help: random website dot com. With this tool you can open the web to a random page and perhaps find somehtign interesting.

As the site states, "how bad could it be?"

Posted by James at 3:27 PM

April 11, 2002

[LAW] - Your Right To

[LAW] - Your Right To Appear In A Movie - Let's say I was walking down a street in New York and a film crew happened to catch me while filming a big production. Do I have the right to complain if they digitally remove me from their final release? Do I have a right to be in that movie?

Samsung is suing the new Spider-Man movie because they removed a sign from the side of a building in New York, replacing the Samsung ad with another ad. The movie company is owned by Sony - a Samsung competitor.

Is it just me, or is it an incredibly ridiculous stretch to presume that you have the right to have your ad show up in someone else's movie just because you bought ad space on the side of a building?
Spider-Man caught in legal web

Posted by James at 5:32 PM

[FOOD] - The Everlasting Sandwich

[FOOD] - The Everlasting Sandwich - Thank goodness the military has invented the everlasting sandwich. The question is, if bacteria can't digest it, how is my colon going to fare?
CNN.com - Soldiers snack on 3-year sandwich

Posted by James at 5:08 PM

April 10, 2002

[ENTERTAINMENT] - Dissing George Lucas

[ENTERTAINMENT] - Dissing George Lucas - Salon has an article which takes every possible potshot at Mr. Lucas. Particularly interesting to me is the second page of the article which concerns the possible sources of many of the imporatnt elements of the Star Wars universe. I had heard the criticisms concerning that Japanese movie (the name escapes me now - someone leave an appropriate comment?) but this is all new to me. The "Lensmen?" Read it and let me know what you think.
Salon.com Arts & Entertainment | Galactic gasbag
[UPDATE] - Oh yeah, now I remember. The movie was Kurosawa's "The Hidden Fortress".

Posted by James at 9:02 PM

April 9, 2002


[PERSONAL] - Work and TAXES - The updates have been sporadic the last couple of weeks because of work and taxes. If anyone is looking for adventure, look no further than the instructions for the Massachusetts state taxes. If you're not used to them, they can be a real pain. Extremely good records are a must for living in this state and filing your taxes successfully.

But, the taxes are done, and filed electronically. My dream is that, one day, I will just be able to scan all my pertinent information into my computer and have it do all the work. TurboTax is pretty good, but it just ain't there yet.
Look for more regular updates here as my sanity is now returning.

Posted by James at 1:50 PM

[TV] - Simpsons deemed not

[TV] - Simpsons deemed not Rio-friendly - If you happened to catch the Simpson's about 2 weeks ago, you saw that funny episode with the orphan from Rio who is lost, prompting a concerned Lisa and the rest of her family to fly to Rio in search of the waif. Who wouldn't, when the child was in danger of being bitten by crazed monkeys?
Well, the city of Rio is not too pleased at the portrayal they received in the episode. Legal action has begun.
The moral? Don't make a joke about anything that people have spent a lot of money trying to fool other peope about.

BBC News | TV AND RADIO | Simpsons challenged over Rio 'jokes'

Posted by James at 1:44 PM

April 4, 2002

[FUNNY] -Yes, Prime Minister, Windows

[FUNNY] -Yes, Prime Minister, Windows is buggy as heck. - Excite - News reports:

Montreal French-language station CKMF-FM said on Wednesday that staffers Marc-Antoine Audet and Sebastien Trudel had a 10-minute telephone chat with Microsoft Corp. boss Gates on Monday, April 1. The broadcast was aired in their nightly show on Tuesday and repeated on Wednesday.

The thing is, they were pretending to be the Canadian Prime Minister. Where can I get that recording?

Posted by James at 4:46 PM

[TECH] Music from Electrons -

[TECH] Music from Electrons - Julie sent this my way: Electronic Musical Instruments 1870 - 1990. It's a history of electronic music. Among the interesting instruments are the theremin and the theremin cello. I'd never heard of a theremin cello before. Kinda neat!

For those unfamiliar with the theremin, it's that instrument you hear in those old horror and sci-fi movies that almost sounds like an organ but it makes a continuous, haunting, howling noise. Or you can just here what it sounded like.

Posted by James at 4:26 PM

April 2, 2002

[CORRECTION] - Bush Stevie Wonder

[CORRECTION] - Bush Stevie Wonder Story - According to Snopes, the story about Bush waving to Stevie Wonder is blown out of proportion. Believe what you like, but I thought it fair to include this update: Urban Legends Reference Pages: Inboxer Rebellion (Catch the Wave!)

Posted by James at 4:09 PM

April 1, 2002

[TECH] Cheap Home DVD Creation?

[TECH] Cheap Home DVD Creation? - Don't hold your breath! However, you can make VCDs out of the movies on your hard drive with a regular CDRW drive, and these will play on most DVD players. I haven't tried it yet, but I am intrigued. Here are a couple of sources of information:

That VCDHelp site appears to have been hacked, so if that link doesn't work, try this one: http://vcdhelp.com/. (On second look that "hack" is someone's April Fool's joke, but one of those links should work.)

Posted by James at 1:01 PM