fresh stuff netted frequently



From the Strumstick website:

You’ll sound good right from the start and you can play songs the first day. The Strumstick feels good to play, you’ll pick it up again and again. We designed the Strumstick for people who don't play any music, and are sure they can't play any music. There are no wrong notes; there are just the notes of a simple scale. Since there are no wrong notes, there are no mistakes; you can have fun making sounds without worrying about "getting it right".

When you begin, you fret the 1st string with one finger, and strum all three strings with a pick. Anywhere you fret the 1st string sounds good, and the other two strings make a background chord automatically!

Apparently the same guy who developed the Backpacker guitar for Martin!


clock Posted Wed Aug 30th, 2006 - 7:38pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


Generation empty

Marin psychologist Madeline Levine says that driving our kids to succeed is a journey over an emotional cliff.


Tomorrow’s movers and shakers are emotionally wounded, says psychologist Madeline Levine. An increasing number of well-heeled, driven, high-achieving adolescents are growing up without conscience or community. These are the kids who will be filling classrooms at Harvard and Princeton and who will later be our politicians, policy makers, doctors and lawyers—and that’s a problem for all of us.

Levine’s new book, The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids, exposes the ugly side of these smart, stylish teens and their affluent families. They look perfect and appear to have everything; but one in every three is deeply troubled. They’re anxious and depressed, they’re abusing hard drugs, they’re lying and cheating, they’re suicidal, self-destructive, desperate and angry.

The conventional wisdom has always been that children raised in affluence are protected from the psychological traumas of lower socioeconomic groups. To highlight the differences, Dr. Suniya Luthar of Columbia University—whose research forms the scientific underpinning of Levine’s book—compared the emotional well-being of children in poverty with that of affluent kids. She was surprised to find that the affluent children were more troubled.

Levine has seen both sides of this equation. Her roots are in working-class Queens, New York, and her first career was in inner-city schools that were more like war zones than teaching establishments. But for the last 25 years, she has been treating the privileged children of Marin County in her private psychology practice. She’s also raised three sons here. Married to a successful surgeon, she lives in a sprawling wood-shingled home in one of the toniest areas of this highly affluent county. When I arrive at her front door, I’m welcomed inside by her Latina maid.

Levine joins me in her front room where light pours in through long, narrow windows placed high above us near the cathedral ceiling. She still has a trace of a New York accent and an earthy, unassuming manner. She’s wearing jeans with a pin-striped navy blouse, shirttails out, a pair of reading glasses on top of her head. Her eyes are close-set, her smile dazzling. As we talk, her youngest son, age 15, passes through on his way to the kitchen, barefoot, with a friend in tow.

See the rest here


clock Posted Wed Aug 30th, 2006 - 7:38pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


Bolting out of Church Buildings

An interesting CBC interview with the editors of Geez magazine – one of the guys used to work at Adbusters, and now using culture jamming to get people to rethink spirituality. (Thanks, Richard!)

Check out


clock Posted Tue Aug 29th, 2006 - 7:38pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


Altoids tin survival kit


Field & Stream magazine shows how to pack a survival kit into an Altoids tin. They present several versions, including the Pocket Kit, Day Kit, and Wilderness Kit.



Link (via Life Hacker)


clock Posted Sun Aug 27th, 2006 - 7:38pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page



What OS would Jesus use?

Ubuntu Christian edition

The Ubuntu Christian edition is a special version of Ubuntu Linux that comes with a porn blocker and Christian software. Along with the standard Ubuntu applications, Ubuntu Christian Edition includes the best available Christian software. The latest release contains GnomeSword, a top of the line Bible study program for Linux based on the Sword Project. There are several modules installed with GnomeSword including Bibles, Commentaries, and Dictionaries. Ubuntu Christian Edition also includes fully integrated web content parental controls powered by Dansguardian. A graphical tool to adjust the parental control settings has also been developed specifically for Ubuntu Christian Edition. These features are truly what sets Ubuntu Christian Edition apart.



clock Posted Sat Aug 26th, 2006 - 7:38pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


The End of the Oil Era Looms?

By Alexander Jung | Speigel

Oil, uranium, gold and platinum are more sought after than ever today. The search for natural resources is becoming increasingly difficult and prices are soaring. But future growth of the world economy depends on these natural resources -- and some will soon disappear forever.

DPA An oil refinery on Saudi Arabia's East Coast. The world's natural oil resources keep on shrinking day by day. Five minutes before he was scheduled to speak, leading geologist Marion King Hubbert was summoned to the phone. His employer was speaking, someone from the headquarters of the Shell corporation.

He was urged not to present his forecast, Hubbert later revealed. But the scientist with his little Clark-Gable-style beard stuck to his guns, as he has often been known to do. When he appeared at the spring 1956 meeting of the American Petroleum Institute in San Antonio, he presented exactly what he had prepared -- a theory as simple as its implications are dramatic.

Hubbert claimed that the exploitation of oil resources always follows the pattern of a bell curve: first it rises, then it flattens out, and finally it declines -- irreversibly. According to his calculations, the United States would soon reach the peak of the curve -- around about 1970, according to his estimate.

His prediction could hardly have been more accurate: In fact, it was in 1971 that the US's oil extraction reached its maximum level. Ever since then, oil production in the US has declined.

Hubbert's curve was discovered exactly 50 years ago and is still considered part of the basic knowledge of every geologist. The rise and fall of the curve presents a scientifically precise description of something everyone knows, just as everyone wants to deny it. Petroleum is a finite resource. The supply shrinks every day, every hour, every minute. Once the supply is used up, it's gone for good.

Read the rest of the article here.


clock Posted Fri Aug 25th, 2006 - 7:38pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


Armor of God kid's pajamas

Your children will be eager for bedtime with their Armor of God pajamas to protect them from the beasts under the bed. Just $39.95. From the Armor of God web site: The Armor of God PJ's were inspired by a mother reading Ephesians 6:10-18 every night to her daughter to give her a safe and secure feeling in the dark. As they read the scriptures, they put on each spiritual and powerful piece of the Armor of God to keep them safe and peaceful while they slept. At that moment, God gave me the idea how wonderful it would be if all children could have the opportunity to put on a pair of pajamas that symbolized the Armor of God for the same purpose... that with their belief in Jesus and His protection they will feel safe and secure during the night as they sleep. As they dress in the mornings, they should replace them with the spiritual Armor of God to protect them in their daily activities.


clock Posted Wed Aug 23rd, 2006 - 7:38pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


Functional, full-sized dory-boat made from newspapers

Reverend Rob Murray in Pinawa Manitoba Canada was pining for the ocean, so he built a dory out of wall paper paste and the local newspaper. With a couple coats of varathane to keep the paper and water separate, she floats! Unfortunately the closest salt water from his doorstep on the Winnipeg River is Churchill on Hudson's Bay.


clock Posted Tue Aug 22nd, 2006 - 7:38pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


History of the Low Rider

Artist and hotrodder Robert Williams points to the example of the Indian longrifle as one of many instances of humans’ interaction with, and need to transform, the impersonal products of the Industrial Revolution into something more relatable, more human, something with a soul. Hot rodding and car customization are a part of this long history, too.

Perhaps the most perfect example, in fact. The history of the lowrider in Hispanic culture is long and storied, and parallels neatly with the history of hot rodding, sometimes intertwining, and sometimes traveling far afield.



clock Posted Mon Aug 21st, 2006 - 7:38pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


Chronicle of a War Foretold: August 1990 to March 2003

This is the first installment in Mother Jones Iraq War timeline project:

The first drafts of history are fragmentary. Important revelations arrive late, and out of order. In this timeline, we’ve assembled the history of the Iraq War to create a resource we hope will help resolve open questions of the Bush era. What did our leaders know and when did they know it? And, perhaps just as important, what red flags did we miss, and how could we have missed them?



clock Posted Sun Aug 20th, 2006 - 7:38pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


Crazy J, the Guitar Playing Robot

Check out the guitar playing robot here


clock Posted Thu Aug 17th, 2006 - 7:38pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


Power-strip shaped like a container ship

This power strip, shaped like the container ship that brought it from China, is terribly handsome, the kind of thing you'd want on your desk, rather than under it. I like that it seems designed to look best when covered in giant, strip-hogging transformer bricks that resemble containers.

Link (via Gizmodo)


clock Posted Tue Aug 15th, 2006 - 7:38pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


Transparent canoe-kayak

"This kayak-canoe hybrid has a transparent polymer hull that offers paddlers an underwater vista of aquatic wildlife and waterscapes unavailable in conventional boats." It's yours for just $1,459.95.

Link (Via CubeMe)


clock Posted Mon Aug 14th, 2006 - 7:38pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


the grossest candies

The Candy Addict site has a neat write up the ten grossest candies currently on the market, from hyper-realistic Harry Potter candy cockroaches to disgusting Fear Factor organs-and-parts to a particularly gross #1 (I won't spoil it for you).


Link via Candy Addict!

clock Posted Sat Aug 12th, 2006 - 7:38pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


Custom ketchup labels

Heinz is offering a make-your-own custom ketchup label service.

My former band-mate Robin D. used to put ketchup on everything!  At $6 per, it's not a terrible deal if you've got a stone ketchup junkie in the family.


Link (via Neatorama)

clock Posted Fri Aug 11th, 2006 - 7:38pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


Your brain on rock

Rock producer-turned-psychology professor Daniel Levitin researches how the human brain responds to music. At McGill University in Canada, he runs the Laboratory for Music Perception, Cognition, and Expertise. Levitin's new book, This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession, sounds fascinating. From an interview in Wired News: Wired News: Are there any myths about music that neuroscientists have exposed?

Daniel Levitin: I think we've debunked the myth of talent. It doesn't appear that there's anything like a music gene or center in the brain that Stevie Wonder has that nobody else has.

There's no evidence that (talented people) have a different brain structure or different wiring than the rest of us initially, although we do know that becoming an expert in anything -- like chess or race-car driving or journalism -- does change the brain and creates circuitry that's more efficient at doing what you're an expert at.

What there might be is a genetic or neural predisposition toward things like patience and eye-hand coordination. (On the other hand), you can be born with a physiology that gives you a pleasant-sounding voice, but that doesn't guarantee you'll have a career as a singer.


clock Posted Thu Jul 10th, 2006 - 7:38pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


Second helpings

by Richard Morrison | Times Online

Seventy years after it first appeared, Dale Carnegie’s classic self-help manual How to Win Friends and Influence People is being republished in a new edition. Is it still relevant?

The very title has a creepy feel. How to win friends and influence people? Surely you don’t win friends, you make them. Friends aren’t supposed to be trophies. And though many of us would like to influence people, I would feel very sheepish if I were caught reading a book that was so obviously telling me how to go about the task. Not only would it make me look even more shifty than I am, it would also suggest that I am too stupid or lazy to devise my own strategies for manipulating those around me.

You agree, of course? Well, that’s a pity — because I have just influenced you into dismissing arguably the most successful self-help manual of all time. Dale Carnegie wrote How to Win Friends and Influence People exactly 70 years ago. He had a nerve, since his own early life — failed Missouri farmer, failed teacher, failed journalist, failed actor, failed novelist, failed husband and, most spectacularly, failed investor (he lost his shirt in the Wall Street Crash) — was not exactly a compelling advertisement for self-help.

But he turned the wreckage of serial disaster into the pillar of lasting success. “The reason I wrote the book was because I have blundered so often myself,” he admitted candidly. He believed that there was a market for a “practical working handbook on human relations” — and boy, was he proved right. How to Win Friends went on to acquire 16 million readers and be published in 36 languages. Carnegie’s homely aphorisms — “If you want to gather honey, don’t kick over the beehive” — were digested throughout the corporate world by ambitious men and women intent on climbing their respective greasy poles. His rules for massaging the thoughts and desires of colleagues and business contacts became fundamental laws in the black arts of public relations, spindoctoring, salesmanship and office politics.

And although there are a thousand tomes around today that purport to deliver more sophisticated versions of what Carnegie wrote, the fact that he was the first gave him a tremendous advantage in shaping the corporate mindset. To take an obvious example, you can trace a direct line from his blunt instruction — “Force yourself to smile!” — to the mandatory “Have a nice day!” greeting that 21st-century America demands from every worker who comes into contact with the public.

So what was his recipe for success in 1936, and would it still work in 2006? Rather as Jean-Paul Sartre was to do a few years later in Being and Nothingness (but in less pretentious prose), Carnegie put forward the thesis that we can all choose to control our lives if we wish, rather than being buffeted around by the blustery winds of fortune. He believed that most of us utilise only a tenth of our potential, and that the key to unlocking the rest is to develop our skill at dealing with other people....

Read the rest of the article here


clock Posted Wed Aug 9th, 2006 - 7:38pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


Steampunk rayguns

Wetanz makes three models of these stupendous steampunk pistols, which they'll be offering for sale within the next year. They look like they'd cost a fortune -- and be worth every penny.





clock Posted Tue Aug 8th, 2006 - 7:38pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


Hello Kitty platinum card

Sanrio has released an 8%-14% APR Hello Kitty Platinum Visa. I've applied for mine...





clock Posted Mon Aug 7th, 2006 - 7:38pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


Satan: a Biography

A Los Angeles NPR affiliate station KPCC has a show called called "Air Talk," in which host Jon Beaupre's interviewed Henry Ansgar Kelly about his new book, "Satan: A Biography."

Here's an online archive of the audio: Link.

Here's the publisher's blurb:

Christians traditionally think of Satan as Lucifer, God's enemy, who rebelled against Him out of pride and then caused Adam and Eve to sin. But, as Kelly shows, this portrayal is not biblical but a scenario invented by the early Fathers of the Church which became the 'New Biography of Satan'. The 'Original Biography' must be reconstructed from the New Testament where Satan is the same sort of celestial functionary we see in the Book of Job - appointed to govern the world, specifically to monitor and test human beings. But he is brutal and deceitful in his methods, and Jesus predicts that his rule will soon come to an end. Kelly traces the further developments of the 'New Biography': humankind's inherited guilt, captivity by Satan, and punishment in Hell at his hands. This profile of Satan remains dominant, but Kelly urges a return to the 'Original Biography of Satan'.

Here's an article about the book in The Australian: Satan a victim of bad PR, professor says.


clock Posted Sun Aug 6th, 2006 - 7:38pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


Curry as brain food

Eating certain curry dishes may improve the cognitive performance of elderly people, report scientists from the National University of Singapore. Apparently, the curcumin in tumeric, often used in curry, may prevent the plaque build-up in the brain that's associated with Alzheimer's.

From New Scientist: "What is remarkable is that apparently one needs only to consume curry once in a while for the better cognitive performance to be evidenced," says Ng, who says he wants to confirm the results, possibly in a controlled clinical trial comparing curcumin and a placebo.



clock Posted Fri Aug 4th, 2006 - 8:13am by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


Tiny car saved BMW from bankruptcy

The Isetta set the bubble car trend in motion

Bill Vance | CanWest News Service

Strange little vehicles that became known as "bubble cars" came onto the European auto scene in the 1950s. They were created in response to high gasoline prices and the need for low-cost, weather-proof personal transportation. They would wear names such as Messerschmitt, Heinkel and Isetta. These tiny, usually-three-wheeled cars were powered by air-cooled engines. Although small and basic, they were at least a step up in comfort and convenience from a motorcycle and sidecar, which was all many people could afford for family transportation.

Bubble cars owe their start to an Italian refrigerator manufacturer named Renzo Rivolta who, in 1952, decided to branch out into the car business by making tiny, basic cars. Since his fridges carried the Iso brand name, he called his little machine the Isetta, literally "small Iso."

The Isetta, introduced in 1953, set the whole bubble car trend in motion. The most striking feature of this egg-shaped, two-passenger vehicle was the driver's method of entry and exit. Perhaps Rivolta was influenced by his refrigerators when he designed it because the entire front of the car, including the windshield, was a side-hinged door that swung out, bringing the universal-jointed steering column with it.

Occupants stepped aboard, turned around and sat down, and the driver pulled the steering wheel back to close the door. In the event of a frontal crash, passengers escaped through the mandatory sunroof. The 1,194-millimetre front track was normal for a small car of that era, but the mere 508 mm between the rear wheels was decidedly unusual. It did, however, eliminate the need for a differential -- a chain transmitted the power from the engine to a large sprocket attached to the drive axle in the rear housing.

The Isetta was powered by a 236-cubic-centimetre, two-stroke, two-cylinder air-cooled engine mounted just ahead of the right rear wheel, the location chosen to counterbalance the driver's weight. The four-speed transmission was shifted by a lever with an upside-down-H pattern, located to the left of the driver.

Rivolta built the Isetta until 1955, when he ceased production. He returned to car building in 1962 with vehicles at the other end of the spectrum -- high- powered sports cars called Iso Rivoltas.

As Rivolta was abandoning car building, BMW, the German auto and motorcycle manufacturer, was undergoing financial difficulties. Its luxurious six- and eight-cylinder cars were beautiful machines, but they were expensive and weren't selling well enough to generate profit. Motorcycle sales were also soft. Faced with possible bankruptcy, BMW decided to get into the affordable, bottom end of the car market. It bought the rights to Renzo Rivolta's Isetta.

BMW replaced the Isetta's two-stroke with a modified motorcycle engine, an air-cooled, 247-cc, 12-horsepower, single-cylinder four-stroke. A 295-cc, 13-hp engine would be added in 1956 for the export model the Isetta 300. BMW also fitted a more conventional trailing arm and coil-spring front suspension in place of the horizontal coils used by Rivolta.

The Isetta sold well enough that, in 1957, BMW expanded the line with a four-passenger version. Called the 600, it had a flat, 585-cc, 19.5-hp, two-cylinder motorcycle engine.

The 600 retained the front opening door and added a right rear side door for access to the surprisingly roomy back seat. Transmission shifting was through a conventional four-on-the-floor gear lever.

Isettas were also built under licence in France, Brazil and England. Total production between 1955 and 1962 was almost 162,000 in four versions: bubble window, sliding window and convertible, plus a rare pickup truck.

The performance of the Isetta was definitely not freeway friendly. When Road & Track magazine (2/'58) tested a 300, it recorded a top speed of approximately 80 kilometres an hour and a zero-to-64-km/h acceleration time of 20 seconds. Fuel economy was tremendous, however, being in the range of 3.9 to 3.1 litres per 100 km.

The Isetta engine was started by a combination generator-starter unit called a Dynastart.

Visibility was excellent, akin to a fishbowl, and this turned out to be an important feature because large potholes would easily swallow the Isetta's tiny 10-inch wheels. Parking, of course, was a breeze -- one simply nosed into the curb and stepped out onto the sidewalk.

Isetta drivers could not be shy or retiring because the car attracted attention everywhere they went. The most common inquiry was: "Is this really a BMW?" Many people apparently missed this short chapter in BMW history.

The two-passenger Isetta and the 600 helped pull BMW back from the brink of bankruptcy. It introduced a 700 model in 1960, a more conventional-looking car, although one still powered by a rear-mounted, air-cooled twin. BMW's big break came in 1962 with the launching of the conventional 1500 sedan, forerunner of the very successful 2002 model.


clock Posted Thu Aug 3rd, 2006 - 7:38pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


Where Do Babies Come From?

In the 17th Century, Scientists Laid Myths to Rest


In the 17th century, scientists didn’t believe that the stork delivered babies, but they might as well have. Reproduction remained a deep mystery, its processes the subject of wild speculation and absurd flights of fancy. Otherwise sophisticated intellects believed that carp grew from reeds and that it was possible to create mice by putting a dirty shirt and a few grains of wheat into a sealed jar and letting it sit for 21 days.

These and other follies, the received wisdom of centuries, were debunked in a brief but startling burst of scientific creativity lasting from about 1665 to 1680. A loosely bound network of scientists, empowered by the experimental method and new technologies like the microscope, overturned the old theories of Aristotle and Galen, parted company with the alchemists and laid down the basic framework for our modern understanding of reproduction. This is the story that Matthew Cobb tells in “Generation,” his competent if less than enthralling reconstruction of the bold experiments, intellectual alliances and bitter battles that led to a new scientific frontier.

Mr. Cobb, an animal behaviorist at the University of Manchester, tries to place his scientific material in historical context, pulling the camera back for some panoramic shots of the Dutch and English Wars, or the London of Samuel Pepys. To enliven his narrative, he plays up the personal drama involving Jan Swammerdam, Niels Stensen and Reinier de Graaf, fellow students at the Leiden University who made key discoveries about animal and human reproduction and who function as Mr. Cobb’s protagonists.

Read the rest of the article here


clock Posted Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 - 8:13am by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


Whiplash the Cowboy Monkey

From the site:

Whiplash the Cowboy monkey is truly a fan favorite, he is an international star and a true cowboy. He is an 18 yr old Capuchin Monkey and he is one of the biggest little monkeys in the world. Whiplash has been riding since he was two yrs old and has been a part of our family since he was born. Whiplash travels the country herding up wild Barbados sheep at rodeos and special events. His riding ability is unmatched and his herding skills unchallenged but Whiplash never misses a chance to show his monkey heritage as he rides the dog he will pull the saddle from side to side and even hang off to one side mimicking an Indian hideaway.



clock Posted Tue Aug 1st, 2006 - 7:38pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page

About This Blog

Reprints from the right and the left, plus comments and random thoughts about faith, music, counter-culture, technology, wretched excess, art, questionable government, and the ultimate interconnectivity of all things.



My web site is here.




August 2006

Altoids tin survival kit
What OS would Jesus use?
The End of the Oil Era Looms?
Armor of God kid's pajamas
Functional, full-sized dory-boat made from newspapers
History of the Low Rider
Chronicle of a War Foretold
Crazy J, the Guitar Playing Robot
Power-strip shaped like a container ship
Transparent canoe-kayak
the grossest candies
Custom ketchup labels
Dale Carnagie - Second helpings
Steampunk rayguns
Hello Kitty platinum card
Satan: a Biography
Curry as brain food
Tiny car saved BMW from bankruptcy
Where Do Babies Come From?
Whiplash the Cowboy Monkey


Archived Posts


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