Sunday, November 23, 2008

"Truth" according to Wikipedia = mob rule

Here is an interesting piece regarding the accuracy of Wikipedia:
In a May 2006 essay on the technology and culture website, futurist Jaron Lanier called Wikipedia an example of “digital Maoism”–the closest humanity has come to a functioning mob rule.

Lanier was moved to write about Wikipedia because someone kept editing his Wikipedia entry to say that he was a film director. Lanier describes himself as a “computer scientist, composer, visual artist, and author.” He is good at all those things, but he is no director. According to his essay, he made one short experimental film in the 1990s, and it was “awful.”

“I have attempted to retire from directing films in the alternative universe that is the Wikipedia a number of times, but somebody always overrules me,” Lanier wrote. “Every time my Wikipedia entry is corrected, within a day I’m turned into a film director again.”

Since Lanier’s attempted edits to his own Wikipedia entry were based on firsthand knowledge of his own career, he was in direct violation of Wikipedia’s three core policies. He has a point of view; he was writing on the basis of his own original research; and what he wrote couldn’t be verified by following a link to some kind of legitimate, authoritative, and verifiable publication.

See the full article here: Wikipedia: The Standard of Truth

Monday, September 01, 2008

Earth Shaking Event

An important earth-shaking event is about to occur. Be ready for September 19th, for once again it is International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Be part of the pirate revolution.
Don't be a weak willed lily livered land lubber! Open your mind to the pirate experience, say "Aye" and "Arrr" a few times and soon you will find that your inner pirate will be released.
Follow the simple instructions given here: How to Talk Like A Pirate, practice several hours a day, and by September the 19th you will be indistinguishable from any of the other pirates who show their true mettle on that great day!

Saturday, June 21, 2008


I started this blog a long time ago, back in the Paleozoic era when blogs where just beginning to form out of swirling primordial vapors. It began as an experiment to answer the question, "What is a blog?" And once answered, my intention was to just stop and move on to greater things.

I never really intended to keep it going for so long but like the Energizer bunny it just kept going and going and going and ....

So finally I'm taking pity on it and retiring it to pasture. If you actually liked this blog and read it then don't despair. I will continue to post the sort of eclectic, "this is my viewpoint", "the latest album from Opeth is great" sort of stuff to my other blog (see the fabulous rotating widget below d for the RSS feed.)

My Scientology Blog

↑ Grab this Headline Animator

Isn't that cool? It's amazing what you can get from Feedburner for free. If you just want to go to the site then click here: My Scientology Blog.

So, that's it. This blog is no more. It has expired and gone to meet its maker. Bereft of life it rests in peace. If I hadn't nailed it to the Internet, it would be pushing up the daisies.

The end.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

FDA finally admits Mercury is dangerous

You would think that a substance which requires Haz Mat handling and special disposal would be the last thing to put into your mouth. In fact in Massachusetts, a spill of more than two tablespoons of Mercury requires reporting to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, in addition to Haz Mat handling and special disposal.

You would think that a substance that helped create the phrase "mad as a hatter" because it drove hat makers who used it crazy would be the last thing to put into your mouth.

You would think that a substance that is so toxic that people are advised not to eat fish that contain it would be the last thing to put into your mouth.

But you'd be wrong because for over a hundred years people have been allowing dentists to put this toxic substance into their mouths and they have even paid the dentists to do it.

As usual with issues like this, Europe is way ahead of the US: Sweden, Norway and Denmark ban Mercury Fillings. But all is not lost dear reader, for the FDA, that stalwart organization which works tirelessly in the interests of the people of America and not for the drug companies (who fund the FDA) or manufacturers of toxic mercury amalgam fillings (what me sarcastic? never), yes the FDA itself has just admitted that Mercury may possibly be dangerous to humans.

I hear your gasps of astonishment but don't be too amazed, the admission was not made voluntarily. Several consumer protection organizations had to sue the FDA to force it to make the statement. You can read more here: Mercury Fillings Shattered! FDA, ADA Conspiracy to Poison Children with Toxic Mercury Fillings Exposed in Groundbreaking Lawsuit.

Maybe this is the way to go with the FDA: sue them into admitting the truth. Other methods of getting them to actually do their job and protect the American people seem to be ineffective.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Antipsychotic Drugs Kill One in Twenty Elderly Patients

From the Guardian, May 26, 2008:

Elderly dementia patients prescribed antipsychotic drugs are at three times the risk of a serious health problem or dying within a month of treatment, compared to those not given the drugs, Canadian researchers said on Monday.

The medications have been used by doctors to treat aggression in people who are not psychotic or schizophrenic, but there are risks for elderly dementia patients prescribed the drugs, according to Dr. Paula Rochon of the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto, and colleagues.

"Of residents newly admitted to a nursing home, 17 percent are started on antipsychotic drugs within 100 days of their admission," often for short periods to control delirium, delusions or aggressive behavior, Rochon wrote.

"Antipsychotic drugs should be prescribed with caution even for short-term therapy," she concluded in the report published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Three years ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration required warnings on antipsychotic drugs notifying patients and doctors of the risks of heart problems or infections in elderly dementia patients.

Previous research has suggested the drugs cause dry mouth and difficulty swallowing, which can lead to pneumonia. Side effects such as dizziness can increase the risk of falls.
The seven-year study of more than 40,000 people age 65 or older -- half in nursing homes -- found 5.2 percent of the nursing homes residents died within a month of being given one of the newer class of so-called atypical antipsychotic drugs...

Atypical antipsychotic drugs, which the study said had been available for about a decade, include risperidone, marketed by Johnson & Johnson as Risperdal; olanzapine, made by Eli Lilly and Co under the brand name Zyprexa; and quetiapine, sold by AstraZeneca Plc under the brand name Seroquel.

Complete article here: The Guardian: Antipsychotics given for dementia pose risks-study

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Monday, May 26, 2008

For Memorial Day and our Military

Whether you agree with the war in Iraq or not I think it is important to acknowledge the soldiers themselves. These are men who are willing to give up everything to protect us. In that spirit, here is a really cool video story by Celestial Navigations especially for Memorial Day.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bloggers Unite for Human Rights

How important are human rights? Well, without them you can be imprisoned without trial, you can have your property taken away, you can be enslaved, you can be discriminated against because of your race or beliefs, you can be tried in a secret court, you can have your letters opened and your phone tapped without due process, you can be arrested for expressing your opinion, you can be tortured and more.

Why should you learn about human rights? It is vital to know what your rights are, otherwise they will be taken away from you and all the abuses of the centuries, abuses that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was written to stop, will come about again.

Where can I learn about my human rights?
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Abridged Version)
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Full Version)

What organizations should I know about and help?
- United Nations
- Youth For Human Rights
- Human Rights Watch (formerly Helsinki Watch)
- Amnesty International
- Bloggers Unite

Saturday, May 03, 2008

At last a portable reader that works!

Have you checked out The Amazon Kindle. It's awesome!

It's as thin as a pencil. It holds over 200 books. It has a hi-res screen that looks and read like real paper. You can connect up to Amazon wirelessly and download books directly from Amazon. It uses cell phone technology so you don't need to find a hot-spot, it's always connected. You can view Word docs on it. You get newspapers delivered to it daily. And more.

I watched some of the videos and this thing looks to me like the first really viable ebook reading device. This is the iPod for books. There are more than 115,000 titles available for it and (you won't find this on the Amazon site) you can read books in the Mobi format too. (More on Mobi.) So what are you waiting for? Go get it!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My First Smart Car

Smart Car
It's the day after Earth Day and I just saw my first Smart Car. They actually look better IRL than they do in the pictures I've seen.

These babies get 33mpg city and 40mpg highway, not quite as good as my Honda Hybrid but not bad at all and they are a lot cheaper. So once again, thinking of the environment will save you money!

Read more here: Smart Car Offers Drivers New High MPG Option

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day and Me Being Smug

I'm not the sort of person to be smug and "I told you so" when it turns out that I'm really, really right. But as today is Earth Day, I thought I'd make an exception :)

In 2004 I bought a Hybrid car: a Honda Civic Hybrid. Now with the price of gasoline over $3.50 a gallon I see these gas guzzling SUVs driving around and I feel a sort of smug glow of righteousness. Not only am I saving myself money, not only am I helping reduce the reliance of the USA on the Middle East for oil but I'm also helping the environment by driving a PZEV (Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle). Am I cool or what? :)

In addition to that, we just got a water filtration system last week which means we no longer have to buy bottled water. This also achieves the three things I listed above (money, Middle Eastern oil, environment) because we don't buy water in plastic bottles and we don't put those bottles in the trash to mess up the environment with more land fills.

So, don't just look at being environmentally conscious as something to do "because it is right", look at it as a way to save money!

Have a great Earth Day!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Setting up PHP on IIS

All you non-techies probably don't want to read this post. But techies may appreciate it.

Setting up PHP and other open source products on Microsoft's webserver, IIS, has always been ... how shall I put it? ... a challenge, you know like trying to climb Mount Everest with two broken legs. So when I saw a link to "Setting up FastCGI for PHP", I was a little sceptical about my chances of success.

When I got to the page I saw that it had a video presentation on how to do it. I watched it and it seemed incredibly simple. I knew it couldn't be that easy. I just knew that when I tried it there would be problems. There was just no way it would work as advertised.

But it did! It WAS that simple. I now have PHP running happily on IIS on my Vista laptop. There was not one hitch, not one problem, not one weird error message, not one gotcha!

I have to say also that the new IIS 7 Manager UI is sooooooo much better than anything I've seen before. I haven't done a lot of web stuff recently, the last IIS I dealt with was 5, so if 6 had this same manager then just switch the 7 for a 6 in my comments. So far, IIS 7 looks like MS finally hit the mark on making it easy to find where things are so you can manage IIS easily.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Ayreon - Through the Wormhole

Here is a video accompanying the song "Through the Wormhole" from the album "The Universal Migrator - Part 2" by Ayreon.

Ayreon is a brilliant project created by musical genius Arjen Lucassen. He creates rock operas, plays most of the instruments, gets great vocalists and records a masterpiece.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Pagan's Mind - Aegan Shores

Here is a great video from the band Pagan's Mind. The song is from the album Celestial Entrance (show on the left).

This was the first album I bought by PM and I instantly fell in love with it. In fact I even reviewed it back in 2003: Album Review - Celestial Entrance by Pagan's Mind. It's one of those albums that I never tire of. I was close to wearing out the CD, but then I transfered it to my iPod and now I'm close to wearing out the electrons :)

So now, quit reading, play the video and enjoy!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Income Tax - Didn't we have a revolution about that?

I seem to recall that sometime in the late 18th century we had a revolution that had a lot to do with taxes. Oh yeah, it was called the American Revolution. I wonder what the people who took part in it would think if they were alive today: Federal Income Tax, State Income Tax, Tons of other little gotcha taxes and the horrors of April 15th.

Was the revolution worth it? Two hundred and thirty two years later we have far more taxes and far more government intrusion into our lives than the founding fathers could ever have dreamed.

But there is a way out. We have a system called "Representative Democracy" that allows each citizen (via an elected representative) to have a say in how the country is run. A pretty neat idea we have to thank the ancient Greeks for (Greek Democracy).

So, if you are fed up with Income Tax, here is what you should do, click on this link and follow the instructions: The Fair Tax .

Monday, March 31, 2008

Epica - Never Enough

Here is a video of the song "Never Enough" by Epica. The song is from the Divine Conspiracy album which I reviewed last week and which is pictured on the left.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Anonymous Attacks Epileptics

That disgusting group of Internet terrorists who call themselves "Anonymous" last weekend attacked an epilepsy support message board. That may not sound like a big deal but what they did redirected users of the site to pages that were designed to cause seizures.

The attack began with the posting of messages embedded with flashing animated graphics. When that didn't cause enough harm they added code to redirected users' browsers to a page with a more complex image designed to trigger seizures.

One victim said, "I was on the phone when it happened, and I couldn't move and couldn't speak." Another victim said she suffered a daylong migraine. The report said that everyone who logged on was effected to some extent some with headaches and others with actual seizures.

What kind of sickos would do something like that?

Read the full story here: Hackers Assault Epilepsy Patients via Computer

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Frank Sinatra tries an experiment

Here is a video of an incredible musical experiment that the one and only Frank Sinatra tried in his early career. (You can tell why he stuck with his well known "old blue eyes" style.)

Thanks to Stuff&Junk for bringing this important piece of cultural history to my attention.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Review: The Divine Conspiracy by Epica

Simone Simons

I got three CDs from my awesome daughter for my birthday and although I intended to listen to them all I've gotten stuck on the first one because it is so good! The Divine Conspiracy by Epica.

I'm not sure whether to say this is a metal album that uses an orchestra or that it is an orchestral album that uses a metal band. The orchestra and keyboards that sound like an orchestra are a major part of this album and all of the musical themes are either carried by the orchestra (and I include the keyboards in that) or the vocals.

I was half way through my first listen of the CD when I realized there hadn't been a single guitar solo, and that's how it continued. I've never heard a metal album that didn't have a single guitar solo, but strangely enough the album does not suffer because of it. The way the orchestra, operatic chorus, solo vocals and metal band are blended together is masterful.

Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of guitar and plenty of metal band in the album. Any mere mortal who isn't into metal would probably find the album way too loud and blasting for their tastes but the guitar is rhythm guitar not lead guitar.

Now to the music itself: I would categorize it as operatic orchestral metal. The "metal" can get very metal at times with grunt vocals, pounding rhythms and amazing speed. The "orchestral" can get very orchestral too, with entire sections of the album containing no band. And the "operatic" can get ... you guessed it ... very operatic with beautiful harmonies and solos.

The vocals of Simone Simons are absolutely beautiful. This girl has an incredible voice.

So, get the album and enjoy!

12 April 2008 - I did hear one guitar solo! Thought I'd better put that in :)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Windows Vista SP1 Installation

I finally managed to install Windows Vista SP1. Hoo-flippin-ray!

I tried to do it about 3 weeks ago but after taking an hour to fail to install it then took another hour to roll-back the installation. I appreciated the fact that Windows still worked after the roll-back, but I was not exactly overjoyed at the installation failing.

After the roll-back I was presented with a dialog telling me the installation it failed (you don't say) and giving me a link to an article on Microsoft's Support site that was all about SP1 installation failures.

I ran the disk and memory diagnostic tools as recommended, but nothing came up. The real thing that solved the problem was "Resolution 5: Restart the computer and close or disable any applications that may be running". It recommends turning off anti-virus and anti-spyware, so today, when I finally had the time free to do it, I did just that and ... drum roll please ... it installed without a hitch.

I must admit (blush) that the initial installation instructions did recommend disabling anti-virus and anti-spyware, so I really only have myself to blame.

Well, now I'm using it and I'm hoping that the only bug I've hit so far will go away. The bug is that when I connect up to the network at work on a wire the first time I try to do something on the network (you know, something real complex like copying a file) Windows locks up. After I turn off and restart, the problem goes away. Also if I start up, wait for all the beginning activity to calm down and then do a restart, the problem does not occur. So, tomorrow at work I'll see what happens. Keep your fingers crossed.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Anonymous - Some History

The online terror group called "Anonymous" has been around for a while. Here is a report from FOX news that led to a "denial of service" attack on the Fox News website:

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Smoking Tooth

If you ever had doubts about the safety of silver amalgam fillings (aka Mercury fillings) then here is a video to remove any doubts:

You have to wonder why, with so much evidence of the dangers of silver amalgam fillings (aka mercury fillings), the American Dental Association still insists that they are safe. Could it be they are terrified of the court cases if they admitted that they had been knowingly poisoning millions of human beings for over a hundred years?

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Uncle Sam gives us something back

Usually at this time of year we are bitching and moaning about how much we have to pay to Uncle Sam in taxes (April 15th is drawing near) and the rest of the year we are bitching and moaning about how Uncle Sam is spending our hard earned tax dollars: spending trillions on wars, trillions on maintaining a military presence in 150 countries (total US Military budget), funding ridiculous "science" experiments, etc., etc.

But, good news, Uncle Sam is giving you something for free. Yes my friends, on Sunday (March 9th) you will receive a free one-hour's worth of jet-lag from Uncle Sam! Just spring your clocks forward an hour and it will be just like you flew east one time zone!

Isn't democracy great?

And remember, the time change occurs at 2am, so set your alarm to wake you up in time to spring your clocks forward!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Incredible new antidepressant (satire)

Pharmaceutical maker, LillyGlaxoWyeth, has just announced the launch of their latest product, Placebozac.

Placebozac (also known my its chemical name "placebo") is an antidepressant that was proven in a recent study to be just as effective as fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Seroxat), venlafaxine (Effexor) and nefazodone (Serzone). You can read the results of the study by the University of Hull here: "Prozac Doesn't Work"

"The great advantage with Placebozac over the traditional antidepressants," said spokesperson Ima Fake, "is that it doesn't have the usual minor side-effects of psychiatric drugs such as suicide, violent behavior, depression, anxiety, bizarre dreams, emotional numbing, delusions, hallucinations, headaches, heart attacks, hostility, impotence, psychotic episode, paranoia, seizures, sexual dysfunction, homicidal ideation and all the rest. There is even a possibility that if people switch to Placebozac the number of school shootings may decrease. Although, as a member of the pharmaceutical industry, I will say right here and now that antidepressants have nothing whatsoever to do with school, postal or any other kind of shootings, however, our marketing department insisted I mention it."

The new drug will be available soon at only $200 for a bottle of 40, 10mg tablets. In the mean time you can get a sample at a reduced introductory price from your local candy store - just ask for "sugar pills".

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Addictive Prescription Drugs

I just found out about a radio show that addresses the widespread, but little known problem of prescription drug addiction. The show is called Prescription Addiction Radio and you can hear the shows on the Listen to Past Shows page.

I listened on Sunday (Heroin-Cocaine-Morphine -Nothing New as Silence Continues.... Youth visit the Studio - Comments from Generation Rx) and was impressed.

The host has good data and his guests were three young adults who know about this problem. One guest works at a clinic that helps people get off prescription drugs and he related some horrors of prescription drug addiction.

It's amazing how uninformed doctors will give out dangerous, addictive drugs as if they were candy. One caller to the show had been on Methadone for six years. Six years of prescription drugs that resulted in addiction that he is still trying to get over. The amazing thing is that if you look up Methadone on the Internet you will find people extolling its virtues! It's sad to see what great PR huge amounts of money from drug companies can buy.

Anyway, I recommend you listen to the show. If you aren't in an area where it is broadcast you can listen to it on the net.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Human Trafficking

Since I was a kid I've regarded slavery as a sort of "absolute". It was just "bad". There were no shades of grey, it was a clear case of black & white. Slavery was bad. Any form of it was bad. Well, now I've revised my opinion. There are some forms of it that are even worse than I could ever have imagined.

Most people think that slavery no longer exists. It was outlawed a long time ago and we are now an enlightened civilization and we don't allow such things - oh yeah?

My son just did a walk for human rights and when he returned home he gave me a shopping bag he'd received with the logo of the "Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking" on it. I checked out their website and saw some of the horrors going on in this world.

It is hard to believe that this horrific trade in humanity still goes on but it does and in this country.

If you want to do something to help stop this terrible trade then the resources for reporting and volunteering are here: Join the Fight Against Human Trafficking

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Prozac Doesn't Work

The new study on the ineffectiveness of antidepressants is being reported all over the place.

The Guardian (UK) Prozac, used by 40m people, does not work say scientists

Another article in the Guardian examines how the "depression" myth was created, The creation of the Prozac myth. This article is a must for anyone who wonders how could 40 million people be using a drug that not only doesn't work but has very serious side-effects?

The writers make some very pertinent observations, such as:

This process of marketing depression helped create the clinical category itself. If the new drugs affected mood, appetite and sleep patterns, then depression consisted of a problem with mood, appetite and sleep patterns. A subtle shift in the defining symptoms of depression took place over the years, so that the category itself became taken for granted. Lost here was the simple idea that there is a difference between surface symptoms (insomnia, loss of appetite, feeling low) and underlying causes, which may be different from case to case. The creation of the antidepressant market effectively disallowed this once crucial distinction.

From Darian Leader


Some people will be shocked to discover that Prozac has been prescribed so widely for decades when, in fact, it barely works. However, the real story is even worse. First, the findings are not new, and it is not only the Prozac group of antidepressants that we should be concerned about; second, the findings point to a general medical inability to understand evidence; and, finally, they reveal the dark side of company marketing, and the role of regulators.

From Prof. David Healy

I hope this isn't the last we hear about this.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Study shows that Antidepressants don't work

A fellow blogger (Antidepressants Not Effective!) put me onto a new study from the University of Hull in the UK which proves that antidepressants don't work.

“The difference in improvement between patients taking placebos and patients taking anti-depressants is not very great. This means that depressed people can improve without chemical treatments. Given these results, there seems little reason to prescribe anti-depressant medication to any but the most severely depressed patients.” The drugs included fluoxetine (Prozac), venlafaxine (Efexor), and Paroxetine (Seroxat).

Study casts doubt on anti-depressants

I bet you a couple of billion dollars that the drug companies and their mouth pieces in the psychiatric industry come out swinging on this one. They'll do everything they possibly can (other than tell the truth) to invalidate this study. There are tens of billions of dollars at stake here. The marketing and PR departments of Big Pharma are going to try to destroy the scientists who did this study just like they tried to destroy Professor David Healy after he wrote books, did studies, published papers and gave a lecture critical of antidepressants and the power of the pharmaceutical industry over psychiatry: The David Healy Affair.

As the old proverb says "Muck and money go together" (muck being dirt, filth, etc.) and there sure is a lot of money and muck in the pharmaceutical industry where the prevailing attitude seems to be, "Our drugs don't do anything for depressed people and are causing suicide? Not a problem, we're making plenty of money out of it."

Monday, February 25, 2008

Feeling depressed about depression?

Here is a great article that addresses the question "What really is depression?" Seems even the "experts" don't really know:

When it Comes to Depression - Does Anyone Really Know What They Are Talking About?

But despite not knowing the "experts" still push drugs as the solution and the pharmaceutical companies still make billions.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Ayreon - 01011001 - Waking Dreams

Someone has created a video of clips from the Matrix playing against the song "Waking Dreams" (the last few seconds of the music are not Ayreon).

The video is very well done and really works with the music, which is from the album Ayreon - 01011001.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Review: 01011001 by Ayreon

How can you do better than perfect? Well, somehow Arjen Lucassen manages to do it album after album after album.

Arjen Lucassen is the king of rock opera (or "space opera") as he calls it. He creates these masterpieces under the band name "Ayreon," producing his first in 1995 with the album "The Final Experiment," followed by "Actual Fantasy" a year later.

The first Ayreon album I heard was "Into the Electric Castle." I was listening to an Internet radio station and there was a song that stopped me dead in my tracks. It was so good that I immediately bought the album and (if CDs were wear-out-able) I wore it out by playing it so much.

I was hooked and needed more, so I rushed out and bought the other Ayreon CDs that were available and when "Actual Fantasy" and "The Final Experiment" were re-released I gobbled them up too.

After I heard "Into the Electric Castle" I thought "Wow! What could he possibly do to beat that?" So he went on to do "Universal Migrator Part 1: The Dream Sequencer" and "Universal Migrator Part 2: Flight of the Migrator" and I thought "Wow! What could he possibly do to beat that?" So he produced "The Human Equation" and I thought "This is it. He can't possibly beat that." And so he just had to prove me wrong by coming up with the latest Ayreon album "01011001".

For those of you who are not computers, "01011001" is "Y" to a computer and it stands for the planet "Y". What is the planet "Y" you ask? Well, it's a planet that is part of the story of the rock opera called "01011001". I won't spoil it by giving you the story but what I will do is tell you a bit about the album.

There are 17 (count them 1, 2, 3 ... 15, 16, 17!!!) vocalists on this album, each of them singing the part of a different character. Arjen has an uncanny ability to not only put together vocalists with aesthetically harmonic or complementary voices, but he can also put the right vocalist with the right music.

And on top of all that he plays almost all of the instruments: guitar, bass, keyboards, mandolin, synth programming and probably more that I haven't yet spotted, and he plays them all as a total professional. In addition he invites awesome instrumentalists to join him, so we get the likes of Michael Romeo of "Symphony X", Lori Linstruth of "Stream of Passion", Joost van den Broek of "After Forever" and many others, playing incredible solos.

To get a taste of this album go to the Ayreon website and watch the "trailer" video: Ayreon Home Page

- Arjen Lucassen MySpace site - listen to some clips from the songs then scroll down and play the "Beneath the Waves" video.
- More Videos

Thursday, February 14, 2008

PowerToys for Vista

The really useful PowerToys for Windows that were available for Windows XP have not yet moved over to Vista. A couple of them are Vista compatible but most are not. The one I wanted to install on Vista was the "Open Command Window Here" utility, which is really useful - just right-click on a folder in Windows Explorer, select it and a command window opens up.

The good news is that I found some (only a few) PowerToys for Windows Vista on the TechNet website and one of them is ... the "Open Command Window Here" utility! So for all you nerdy types like me who still use the command line and have upgraded to Vista, fear no more! Help and succor have arrived. The cavalry is here. You are saved. Halilooya, praise the lord, etc., etc., etc.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Nostalgic Review - Killer by Alice Cooper

"Killer" by Alice Cooper was the second album I ever bought. I remember hearing it at a friends house and being totally blown away by "Halo of Flies" and "Desperado". The entire album is great but those two songs stand out for me even 36 years after its release. Progressive rock and "heavy" rock were the genres I liked in those days and "Killer" definitely fell into the "progressive rock" category. Most people think of Alice Cooper as "shock rock" but that was his stage act and a way to get attention. The music itself and the lyrics were of a very high quality - clever and insightful.

I lost my LP of Killer many years ago during a move and a month ago I was feeling nostalgic so I decided to get Killer on CD and I was not disappointed: great songs and a theatrical climax with the song "Killer" itself - the one Alice used to hand himself to. A little melodramatic, but the song is about a gunman in the old west, lamenting his life and his impending death: "someone handed me this gun and I ... I gave it everything."

As I said my two favorites are "Halo of Flies" (a humorous song about spies, with great instrumental sections) and "Desperado" (a quiet, reflective song about a gun for hire in the old west - not to be confused with the Eagle's song of the same name).

Anyway, this is a five star album and well worth getting.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

PGP Freeware still exists

If you've tried to find the PGP Freeware version recently you'll know that it is not easy to find. No matter which search engine you use you won't find a place to download the freeware version. But there is one. They just renamed it to "Free PGP Desktop Trial Software". You have to read more on the page to see that, "You now receive all product functionality for 30 days before the product reverts to functionality available in former PGP Freeware."

I'm guessing they make it hard so people will give up and pay for it. I think that is silly. If they would make it clear that this is the freeware version and that you get the full version for 30 days then people are going to download it and try out the extra features and after 30 days a good number are going to want to keep the extra features. But that won't happen if you obscure the fact that the "trial" version is in fact the "freeware" version.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Tax Protesters - the big mistake

This sad little story about Wesley Snipes and his tax woes made me think of the Tax Protester movement and how it is doomed to failure.

There are many arguments put forth to prove that American citizens are not required to pay Income Tax. However, they all fail on one point: It doesn't matter if you find a letter from Thomas Jefferson himself saying that income tax is an abomination, the IRS will still come after you and they have lots of guns and rifles to enforce their decrees.

The bottom line is that the Government needs money to operate, and although the income tax system is a communist/socialist methodology, it is the major source of income for Uncle Sam and it won't go away anytime soon and certainly refusing to pay it will only succeed in making the non-payer go away (to jail).

The real solution I see (other than making Ron Paul president) is to find a workable alternative. The best suggestion for this that I have seen is a National Retail Sales Tax. Check it out and tell me what you think.

Monday, January 28, 2008

God's Equation - A better review

A week or so ago I wrote a rather lame review of the new Pagan's Mind album "God's Equation". I can only excuse myself by saying I was tired and it had been a long day and I really wanted to write a review of the album because it is great and ... and ... and ... and ...

Well, enough excuses. I'm actually listening to the album as I write this because I've not stopped listening to it since I wrote that lame review. Well, not literally, but on my iPod and in my car that is the only album I've listened to.

So how do I start, well, maybe the beginning would be a good idea. The album starts with a great almost acoustic instrumental that starts tuneful and melodious and moves into a brilliant drum piece that takes us gently to the next song which starts loud and fast.

Sorry I just got distracted by the absolutely brilliant solo in the middle of Painted Skies - it sounds like distorted keyboards and guitar playing an atonal improv that is just amazing. Anyway, forgive the commercial break. Back to our regular programme:

The next song after "The Conception" is "God's Equation" itself. Philosophical lyrics, melodic tune and loud metal rhythms. Then comes a song that is one of those "anthem" type songs, "United Alliance" - every time I listen to it I can't help but sing along (something you don't want to be anywhere near when it happens). That is followed by "Atomic Firelight", which is as close to math metal as I've ever heard Pagan's Mind come - great complex rhythms, several different rhythms going at once but all harmonics of each other.

Next is a brilliant cover of David Bowie's "Hallo Spaceboy." The vocalist even sounds like Bowie on this song. Of course, this version is a bit louder than the original, but I thing David would approve.

Next comes "Evolution Exceed" and more philosophic metal, with great lyrics, complex music and wondrous rhythms.

As if that wasn't enough "Alien Kamikaze" is next. This one sounds like the band is just having a great time playing an incredibly fast and furious and fun song. If you don't move with this one then you ain't got no soul.

"Painted Skies" I talked about earlier - wow! Great melody and that wild solo in the middle is just out of this world.

"Spirit Starcruiser" once more takes us into the realms of spirituality and philosophy with deep lyrics a blasting metal rhythms and rockin' melodies.

"Farewell" returns to the theme of "The Conception" but this time with a beautiful guitar melody.

On the version of the CD I have there is another song, "Osiris Triumphant Return" which seems to be a sequel to the song "Through Osiris' Eyes" from the album "Celestial Entrance", and is indeed "Triumphant"!

Well, as "Osiris Triumphant Return" caresses my ears, I'll end my review and just say this: Get the album!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

"Repeat a lie a thousand times and it becomes the truth."

That quote is attributed to one of the most evil men who ever lived, Dr. Joseph Goebbels, propaganda minister of the Third Reich. Unfortunately there is more truth in that statement than we would like there to be. Goebbels used that principle to run his black propaganda campaign against Jews and he succeeded in the most horrific way imaginable.

Today that method is still used to carry out "character assassination" of people and groups who the attacker doesn't like or sees as a threat. Unfortunately the main-stream media could be viewed as parrots who happily repeat whatever they hear without any thought of determining the truth or accuracy of what they so obligingly repeat. This means that a character assassin has an easy time of it in this society.

So next time you see something reported about a person or group, think twice before you accept it as fact. And, if you are feeling curious, do some research into the person or group being attacked and you will probably find that they have stood up against a vested interest and cost that vested interest a barrel load of money. At that point you can take the bad stuff you heard and throw it where it belongs - in the garbage.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Album Review: God's Equation by Pagan's Mind

The latest album by Norwegian band Pagan's Mind is without doubt their best so far. Once again their technical expertise and song writing skills have expanded and the result is a superb musical extravaganza!

One of the things I really like about this band is that they can play a quiet piece and then jump into something that rips your head off :). The percussion is superb with complex rhythms and speeds covering the entire spectrum.

"Hallo Spaceboy" is a cover of a David Bowie song and is a great version of this classic. At several places in the song vocalist Nils Rue actually sounds like a metal version of Bowie.

You can here several songs by the band on their MySpace site: Pagan's Mind on MySpace

You can buy the album here: God's Equation by Pagan's Mind

Saturday, January 19, 2008

More on Drug Companies Hiding Negative Findings

This from the New York Times: Researchers Find a Bias Toward Upbeat Findings on Antidepressants

The makers of antidepressants like Prozac and Paxil never published the results of about a third of the drug trials that they conducted to win government approval, misleading doctors and consumers about the drugs’ true effectiveness, a new analysis has found.

Some of us have known this for a long time but it is good to see it finally validated by "authority". Perhaps some lives will now be saved by people deciding not to take these drugs. What would be even better is if some legal action were taken against these drug companies for the damage they have done to people over the years because of the lies they've told.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Pharmaceutical Companies Are Hiding Negative Studies of Antidepressants

A report just published in the New England Journal of Medicine says that nearly a third of antidepressant drug studies are never published in the medical literature and nearly all these unpublished studies happen to show that the drug being tested did not work.

The researchers say it in the most polite and unaccusative way, but the obvious interpretation is that if a drug study comes up negative then the drug companies hide it.

The report found that the few negative studies that were published were rewritten to present the study as if it were successful. In the words of the researchers, "Not only were positive results more likely to be published, but studies that were not positive, in our opinion, were often published in a way that conveyed a positive outcome."

As I said the researchers were very polite, but not me. As far as I'm concerned Big Pharma is hiding the negative results because they think it will hurt their profits. They don't care that their drugs harm people, they only care if something harms their profits.

Read about the study here: Data on Antidepressants Often Shelved

Monday, January 14, 2008

News Host Experiences The Truth about Drugs

CNN News Headlines host, Glenn Beck, experienced first hand the truth about drugs when he went to an emergency room in great pain.

What was expected to be an outpatient procedure put Beck in the hospital for five days, with doctors offering a medicine cabinet's worth of drugs to ease his pain. The drugs made him hallucinate and briefly suicidal, Beck said. "By Saturday night if they had come into my room with a handgun and said, `OK, we can give you some more medication or take this gun and blow your head off' ... I would have honestly taken the handgun at that point and ended it." (read the article)

The suicide inducing effects of certain medical drugs has been well documented, so it really shouldn't come as a surprise, but unfortunately few people know that some drugs, especially psychiatric drugs such as antidepressants, cause a condition called "suicidal ideation," a state in which the person on the drug fixates on thoughts of suicide and may actually commit suicide.

Pharmaceutical companies are forced to publish the side effects of their drugs, so next time you see an ad for a drug in a magazine or newspaper go find the list of side-effects. If you look hard enough and use a magnifying glass, you'll see them. Of course, at that point you have to wade through the carefully worded medical-speak that is used to hide the horrendous side effects these drugs have.

For more information check this page: Side Effects of Psychiatric Drugs

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Psychiatry and Political Control

Here is a video from John Breeding, Ph.D that explains how Psychiatry is political, how it is used to control the population and where the big money of the Pharmaceutical Industry fits in.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Computers versus Paper

We often hear about the dangers of using electronic voting machines due to the possibility of someone hacking the machines. But what about the possibilities of bugs messing up the vote?

Here is an example of a bug that caused voting machines to crash and potentially lose votes: Voting Machine Bugs.

Having worked in the computer industry for over 20 years I am very leery of allowing computerized voting machines. I've seen "perfect" software put into production, only to find out later that some missed requirement or bug that was missed during testing appears during actual use and causes havoc.

Out voting process is too precious to endanger it with electronic voting.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Drug Money – The Bribing of Politicians

In looking for a web site on the Say No to Drugs campaign I found another site that is not connected to the campaign but contains a lot of data on how much money drug companies are paying to US politicians. To describe the amounts of money paid by Big Pharma to our elected representatives as "obscene" is an understatement. I had no idea of the vast sums changing hands until I read the first page of this web site: Politicians Who Got The Most Pharmaceutical Company Contributions In Year 2000 – scroll down a bit to see the list. The amounts make one wonder just who our representatives are actually representing.

What is more scary is the even larger amounts these companies pay to lobbyists. Between 1997 and 2000 the pharmaceutical industry paid over $336 million to lobbyists to help them persuade politicians to push their drugs on us.

You have to ask the question: "If the drugs provided by these corporations are truly beneficial, then why do they have to spend so much money persuading politicians to make laws to force us to take them?" If I had a disease and it was cured by some medical drug, I'd have no objection to taking it. You don't have to pass a law to persuade someone to do something that's going to save his or her life. But when the drugs don't really work or simply hide the symptoms and require the patient to continue taking them for the rest of his or her life, then it is no wonder Big Pharma has to get help from the politicians on its payroll.