Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The thoughts you think, and mental depression

They often go together:

Cognitive Therapy for Depression
Are your thoughts dragging you down?
Almost everyone has dark thoughts when his or her mood is bad. With depression, though, the thoughts can be extremely negative. They can also take over and distort your view of reality.

Cognitive therapy can be an effective way to defuse those thoughts. When used for depression, cognitive therapy provides a mental tool kit that can be used to challenge negative thoughts. Over the long term, cognitive therapy for depression can change the way a depressed person sees the world.

Studies have shown that cognitive therapy works at least as well as antidepressants in helping people with mild to moderate depression. Treatment with medication and/or psychotherapy can shorten depression's course and can help reduce symptoms such as fatigue and poor self-esteem that accompany depression. Read on to see how cognitive therapy or talk therapy might help you start thinking and feeling better if you are depressed.

Cognitive Therapy for Depression: A Thinking Problem

Cognitive therapy was developed in the 1960s as an alternative way to treat depression, says Judith S. Beck, PhD. Beck is director of the Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy and Research located outside Philadelphia. She tells WebMD that the principle underlying cognitive therapy is "thoughts influence moods."

According to cognitive therapists, depression is maintained by constant negative thoughts. These thoughts are known as automatic thoughts. That means they occur without a conscious effort. For example, a depressed person might have automatic thoughts like these:

"I always fail at everything."
"I'm the world's worst mother."
"I am doomed to be unhappy."

Beck says automatic thoughts "may have a grain of truth. But," she adds, "the depressed person distorts or exaggerates the reality of the situation." This negative distortion helps fuel the depression.

With cognitive therapy, a person learns to recognize and correct negative automatic thoughts. Over time, the depressed person will be able to discover and correct deeply held but false beliefs that contribute to the depression.

"It's not the power of positive thinking," Beck says. "It's the power of realistic thinking. People find that when they think more realistically, they usually feel better."

Cognitive Therapy for Depression: How It Works

Cognitive therapy posits that most problems have several parts. Those parts include:

the problem as the person sees it
the person's thoughts about the problem
the person's emotions surrounding the problem
the person's physical feelings at the time
the person's actions before, during, and after the problem occurs

The way cognitive therapy works is a patient learns to "disassemble" problems into these various parts. Once a person does that, problems that seemed overwhelming become manageable.

During regular cognitive therapy sessions, a trained therapist teaches the tools of cognitive therapy. Then between sessions, the patient often does homework. That homework helps the person learn how to apply the tools to solve specific life problems.

"They make small changes in their thinking and behavior every day," Beck says. "Then over time, these small changes lead to lasting improvement in mood and outlook." [...]

The article continues on, comparing the success of cognitive therapy with other methods of treating depression, and also combined with other methods. It also talks about cognitive therapy used to relieve chronic pain, and reduce reliance on pain medications.

It concludes with how you might consider using cognitive therapy to improve your own depression, and where you might find help.

I did a post a while back, about the 2008 election, called: The Real Winner of the 2008 Election: Optimism.

In that post, I refereed to a book about Cognitive therapy, that I found quite interesting: "Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life" by Martin E.P. Seligman. A description of the book:
Known as the father of the new science of positive psychology, Martin E.P. Seligman draws on more than twenty years of clinical research to demonstrate how optimism enchances the quality of life, and how anyone can learn to practice it.

Offering many simple techniques, Dr. Seligman explains how to break an “I—give-up” habit, develop a more constructive explanatory style for interpreting your behavior, and experience the benefits of a more positive interior dialogue. These skills can help break up depression, boost your immune system, better develop your potential, and make you happier.

With generous additional advice on how to encourage optimistic behavior at school, at work and in children, Learned Optimism is both profound and practical–and valuable for every phase of life.

The book had a chapter about the "optimism quotant" of political speeches, and how there are heaps of data to show that they can be used to predict the results of elections. Something to consider yet again in this election year, perhaps?

Anyway, I think it's a great book for anyone who wants to use cognitive therapy techniques to improve their own outlook and life. Like the woman in the article above said, "It's not the power of positive thinking, it's the power of realistic thinking. People find that when they think more realistically, they usually feel better." That's an excellent description of cognitive therapy, and a good description of the approach used in Seligman's book, too. A practical, useful approach to an important subject.     

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Saturday, May 26, 2012

The New Commodore OS is Finally Here!

Actually, it came out last November, I just missed the party. Here is the release trailer, I thought it looked spiffy:


I posted previously about the New Commodore Company, which is releasing a New Commodore 64 and other Commodore-lookalike computers, that use conventional PC hardware on the inside. But the new Commodore Operating System, they promised, would bring back the "fun" in computing that the old Commodore Computers had.

I read somewhere that the new Commodore OS is based on Linux Mint 10. That's fine with me, Linux Mint is a great distro. The eye candy they've added is nice, and it looks like they have bundled it with lots of apps and software.

Introducing Commodore OS Vision
Commodore OS Vision is our customized GNU/Linux distribution for Commodore enthusiasts that is designed to unleash your creative potential and help you enjoy your computing experience to the fullest. Commodore computers were well known for their unique operating environments, so we seek to do the same, by providing a distinctive, attractive, advanced and fun operating system experience. Various themes are included, inspired by the Commodore 64 and various versions of the Commodore Amiga Workbench user environments, but with a modern spin, which includes many slick graphical effects which showcase the capabilities of our new Commodore machines.

Commodore OS Vision is not a derivative of the original AmigaOS developed for 68K microprocessor computers in the 1980's, but an entirely modern operating system based on GNU/Linux.

[...]

Pre-installed on all Commodore USA hardware, Commodore OS Vision comes pre-loaded with dozens of the latest and greatest productivity, creativity and entertainment software the open source world has to offer. Featuring dozens of exciting 3D games, the latest web browsing technology, a Microsoft Word compatible Office Suite, advanced graphical manipulation programs, 3D raytracing software, advanced software development tools and languages, photo and movie editing and sound and music composition programs, there is no task too big or too small for a Commodore or AMIGA computer to accomplish.

[...]

The Commodore OS Vision project was created as an operating system option for Commodore enthusiasts purchasing Commodore USA computers. It is but the first step on the path to creating the ultimate Commodore experience for our customers. This retro-futuristic OS experience takes design cues in its appearance from classic Commodore and Amiga operating systems and evolves them further to create a distinctive and modern 21st century look which adds personality to our new Commodore machines. The selection of software included also has a retro slant which would be familiar to many Commodore fans, making them feel at home. It features the latest iteration of the classic Gnome 2.x user interface, which many prefer for its simplicity, stability and straight forward access to applications.

Commodore OS Vision stands on the shoulders of giants, with a lineage that traces back to fantastic linux operating system distributions such as Debian, Ubuntu and Mint, which you might also be interested in installing on our machines. Commodore OS Vision auto-installs a graphical operating system boot menu facilitating this further, making your new Commodore machine a technology tinkerers delight. [...]

Wow. Follow the link for more details.

I love the retro-feel. It's still in Beta though. No phone support for it, although there is an online forum at commodore-amiga.org. They say the best is yet to come. I sure hope so.




Also see:

A thorough 12 minute tour/review on Youtube: Spatry's Cup of Linux

Here is it's listing on Distrowatch: Commodore OS Vision
     

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What's all this talk about Hepatitis?

Here's two articles I've seen recently:

CDC: All Baby Boomers Should Get Tested for Hep C
1 in 30 Baby Boomers Infected With Hepatitis C, but Few Know It
May 18, 2012 -- One in 30 baby boomers may be infected with the hepatitis C virus, but few know it until it's too late for their livers.

In the wake of new statistics showing more than 2 million baby boomers in the U.S. are infected with hepatitis C, the CDC is proposing new guidelines calling for all adults of that generation to be tested for the virus.

Officials say baby boomers, the generation born from 1945 through 1965, now account for more than 75% of all Americans living with the virus. But recent studies show few are aware they are infected or at risk for infection.

"Identifying these hidden infections early will allow more baby boomers to receive care and treatment, before they develop life-threatening liver disease," says Kevin Fenton, MD, PhD, director of CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Prevention, in a news release.

Current hepatitis C testing guidelines call for only those with certain risk factors to be tested for the virus.

The announcement of the proposed change coincides with the first-ever National Hepatitis Testing Day on May 19. After a public comment period, the new guidelines are expected to be finalized later this year.

Hepatitis C: Hidden Killer

The hepatitis C virus is spread through exposure to infected blood. The most common means of infection is through sharing of needles or other equipment used to inject drugs.

Researchers say most baby boomers were likely infected with hepatitis C when they were in their teens or 20s.

Some may have been infected when they experimented with injection drugs, even just once. Others may have been exposed to the virus through blood transfusions before modern blood-screening procedures came into effect in 1992.

Once infected, the hepatitis C virus causes progressive damage to the liver and can go undetected for many years without symptoms. Some people may have symptoms -- like fever, fatigue, dark urine, and abdominal pain -- six to seven weeks after getting infected.

Hepatitis C can lead to serious liver disease and liver cancer, which is the fastest-growing cause of cancer-related deaths. It is also the leading cause of liver transplants in the U.S.

The CDC says one-time testing of all baby boomers for the hepatitis C virus could identify more than 800,000 people infected with the virus, allow for early treatment to prevent liver disease, and save more than 120,000 lives.

Researchers say therapies can cure up to 75% of hepatitis C infections.

"With increasingly effective treatments now available, we can prevent tens of thousands of deaths from hepatitis C," says CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, in the release.

Read the original article, for the embedded links.

There are no vaccines for Hepatitis C, but there are for type A & B:
Vaccines for Hepatitis A & B
You may have a family member who has viral hepatitis. Or perhaps you recently saw a news brief about a celebrity who contracted hepatitis A or B. Whatever the reason, you want information about a viral illness that you may not have thought much about. What is viral hepatitis? Are you at risk for it? Do you need viral hepatitis vaccines?

Hepatitis A and B: Diseases of the Liver

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, most often caused by a viral infection. There are three common types of hepatitis caused by viruses: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. Vaccines have been developed that protect people from contracting hepatitis A and B. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C.

Hepatitis A and hepatitis B can be spread from person to person, although in different ways. They have similar symptoms, which include abdominal pain, fever, fatigue, joint pain, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes).

Over the last 20 years, there has been a 90% decrease in cases of hepatitis A and an 80% decrease in hepatitis B cases in the U.S. Health experts believe that immunization efforts have led to this drop in rates of infection.

How Hepatitis Is Spread

Hepatitis A: About 20,000 people in the U.S. contract hepatitis A each year. The hepatitis A virus is found in the stool of the infected person. It is spread through contaminated food or water or by certain types of sexual contact.

Children who get hepatitis A often don't have symptoms, so they can have the virus and not know it. However, they can still spread it easily. Fortunately, children are now routinely vaccinated against hepatitis A.

Most people who get hepatitis A recover completely within two weeks to six months and don't have any liver damage. In rare cases, hepatitis A can cause liver failure and even death in older adults or people with underlying liver disease.

Hepatitis B: Every year, about 40,000 people in the U.S. become infected with hepatitis B. Acute hepatitis lasts from a few weeks to several months. Many infected people are able to clear the virus and remain virus-free after the acute stage. However, for others, the virus remains in the body, and they develop chronic hepatitis B infection, which is a serious, lifelong condition. About 1.2 million people in the U.S. have chronic hepatitis B. Of these, 15% to 25% will develop more serious health problems, such as liver damage, cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer, and some people die as a result of hepatitis B-related disease.

Hepatitis B can be spread from one person to another from the blood, semen, or other body fluids of an infected person. In the U.S., sexual contact is the most common way that hepatitis B is spread. It can also be spread by sharing needles or other equipment used to inject drugs. In addition, a mother can pass hepatitis B to her baby during birth.

Hepatitis B cannot be spread by contaminated water, food, cooking, or eating utensils, or by breastfeeding, coughing, sneezing, or close contact such as kissing and hugging. [...]

The article goes on to describe who's most at risk, the effectiveness of vaccines, and who should have them. I found it interesting, partly because I've been thinking about getting training to work in healthcare. The vaccines are recommended for healthcare workers, and the article answered all my questions about the vaccines and how they work. Very informative.
     

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Two More Goldfish Subsitutes: the White Cloud Mountain Minnow, and the Common Guppie

White Cloud Mountain Minnow

Previously, I've posted about other fish that look similar to goldfish, such as Gold Barbs and Rosy Barbs. They look similar to goldfish, but are easier to care for in an aquarium setting (real goldfish being better suited for living in ponds or large pools, or very large aquariums).

But there are two other fishes, that don't look a lot like goldfish, but that are among the easiest to care for in an aquarium. One is the White Cloud Mountain minnow
[...] White Cloud Mountain minnows are considered good fish for beginners, as they are extremely forgiving with regard to aquarium temperature and water quality. They are often sold as ideal "starter fish" for cycling a new aquarium, however it is kinder if they are introduced to an already cycled tank. They are schooling fish, and feel most comfortable in a group of at least five. An individual of these minnows kept alone may become timid and lose its bright color. White Clouds are generally peaceful and happy to coexist with other fish, as long as they are not put in a tank with larger fish that may eat them. The minnows are usually top or middle-level swimmers and rarely swim close to the bottom of a tank.

Although the nominal temperature range for the species in the wild is 18–26 °C (64–79 °F), it can survive water temperatures down to 5°C (41°F).[4] This makes it an ideal fish for keeping in an unheated aquarium in cold climates. In fact, White Clouds are more active and healthier when kept at temperatures lower than those at which most tropical tanks are kept. Water hardness (dH) should be from 5 to 19, and pH levels should range between 6.0 and 8.0. Also, the aquarium should have a top. White Clouds have been known to jump out on rare occasions.

During the 1940s and 1950s, White Cloud Mountain minnows acquired the nickname, the "Poor Man's Neon Tetra," because they were much more affordable in price than the colorful and then expensive Neon Tetras.[5]

Two variants are commonly available: the "Golden Cloud" and the longer-finned "Meteor Minnow." The Golden Cloud is a relatively new variety as compared to the Meteor Minnow. The Meteor Minnow first made its appearance in the 1950s in Perth, Western Australia and the Golden Cloud in the 1990s. Breeding between the two varieties has recently resulted in another attractive fish, the "Golden Meteor Minnow." Inbreeding of Golden Clouds have resulted in "Blonde" Clouds, light yellow specimens similar in colour to blonde guppies and "Pink Clouds", flesh colour specimens which lacks further pigmentation still. [...]

I have a bunch of them, and they've been a very hardy fish, easy to care for, and at their full size are quite beautiful. I have the regular short fin, and the pink/gold ones. I'd eventually life to get the long finned "Meteor" variety:



The Meteor's look stunning, but I've not been able to get them through my local fish store. Darn!

My local fish store sells baby White Cloud Minnows as feeder fish, which means they can be purchased for only 0.20 cents apiece. Very affordable!

White Cloud Mountain Minnow Fact Sheet
[...] This fish is very hardy. It will survive in temperatures ranging from 4̊ C (39̊F) to 32̊ C (90̊ F) although the extremes of this range are not recommended. It is more comfortable at about 16-26 °C (60-72 °F). This is a lower temperature than some tropical tanks although, like most 'cold water' fish it can be kept in tropical aquariums, so it can be kept in either a tropical or an unheated aquarium.

The fish prefer clean water, and will grow and breed over a wide range of ph and hardness. I would avoid extremes of pH or very hard water. Make sure all the Chlorine or Chloramine is removed.

The White Cloud Mountain Minnow is intolerant of Copper in the water, and great care needs to be exercised if Copper is used for treatments. [...]

I read somewhere that, while a bowl is not really a suitable environment for any fish, the White Cloud Minnow might be the hardiest to be used as a bowl fish. But I really would not recommend a bowl; I'd recommend a filtered tank, no smaller than 10 gallons. I think a heater is preferable too, even for cool water fish; it keeps the temperature more stable, which is important if you live in a cold weather climate or somewhere that has very cold nights. I know that my house can get very cold at night in winter.

A bit of trivia about how the White Cloud the fish was "discovered" in China:

White Cloud Mountain Minnow (Tanichthys albonubes)
[...] This fish's ability to survive (and breed) over a wide range of water conditions, temperature and general hardiness means it's cheap and an excellent choice for beginners.

This fish is sensitive to copper in the water so ensure that you do not overdose when using any treatments containing copper and accidentally poison them.

It's latin name Tanichthys albonubes literally means "Tan's fish, white cloud". It was named after a boy scout leader named Tan who discovered it in the 1930s.[1] [...]

I've read too, that the fish is now believed to be extinct in it's original location. But it has survived in captivity and, through the aquarium fish trade, spread all over the world.


The other fish I considered to be an easier-to-keep alternative to goldfish, is the common Guppy. I say "common", because there are many fancy strains of this fish, some of which are not physically hardy, having been breed for their looks more than anything else.



Guppy Fact Sheet
[...] The Guppy is a popular aquarium fish. It can be kept with other small peaceful fish, including Platies, Swordtails and Mollies. It is in the same family as these fish and is in the same genus as Mollies. Other fish suitable as companions are White Cloud Mountain Minnows, Neon Tetras, Cardinal Tetras, Siamese Fighting Fish, Peppered Catfish and other Corydoras catfish, Cherry Barbs, and other small peaceful fish.

[...]

Guppies generally thrive in fairly hard, slightly alkaline, water. They can tolerate very large amounts of salt in the water. In some countries they are bred in water which is a mixture of half fresh water and half sea water. The Guppies thrive in this water, but these fish can cause problems when people put them into normal fresh water aquariums. As well as having to be acclimatised to the fresh water, the Guppies have not been exposed to columnaris disease. These fish can die very quickly in a normal aquarium unless strong treatment is done quickly. To get immunity the fish have to be exposed to the disease, and the disease cured.

[...]

The Guppy is a tropical fish. However, different strains of Guppy have different tolerances to low temperatures. I have even heard of strains that are claimed to be able to tolerate temperature down to 4̊ C (39̊ F). I have never encountered any of these. Once I heard of a creek to the north of Adelaide that was supposed to have a naturalised strain of Guppies. I searched for the creek. I was able to identify the creek from the description I was given. There were no Guppies in it. (Actually, there was not even any water.) Although I tried to find where the Guppies would have gone, I was unable to find any Guppies. I suspect that this was a case of mistaken identity of the fish.

As a general thing I would not suggest a temperature of lower than 18̊ C (65̊ F). Guppies will certainly tolerate up to at least 32̊ C (90̊F), and probably higher. Although I sometimes give the maximum and minimum temperatures types of fish can tolerate, it needs to be remembered that subjecting fish to their limits is not good and you are stressing the fish very badly. Stress will leave the fish very vulnerable todisease.

I generally set the thermostat at 24̊ C (75̊ F) although some people prefer a few degrees higher, especially for breeding.

[...]

The modern Guppies have been selective bred for colour and fin length, as well as other external characteristics. In the process they have lost much of the original hardiness of the Guppy. The life span of the Guppy now is often no more than a year. [...]

The hardiness of the modern Guppy (or lack of it) is a subject of much debate, of which I will post more about later.

I do think some varieties may be more hardier than others. Buyer beware.

I know there are other fishes that might be considered as goldfish substitutes too. The Zebera Danio, for instance, is also a hardy fish that is tolerant of lower temperatures. But I have read, that it prefers a tank at least 36 inches long, because it likes to swim back and forth a lot.

The Siamese Fighting Fish is also considered to be a good bowl fish by some people. But it will not thrive in a bowl, and actually does better in a filtered, heated aquarium (it prefers it's water temperature to be kept around 80 degrees). And it prefers live food. If you keep it in colder temperatures and only feed it dried food, it might survive, but probably won't thrive and have a long life. But if you treat it right, it can be "easy" to care for and very satisfying to keep.

So, if you have been trying to keep goldfish indoors, but have been unsuccessful or found it too arduous, you might want to consider some of these other fish I've suggested. There are plenty to choose from, look them over and see which ones might be best for you to try.
     

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Euro Crisis an excuse for consolidation of power?

A Greece euro exit could make Lehman's collapse 'look like a tea party'
London (CNN) -- The wheels are coming off the wagon. The fat lady is about to sing. The proverbial is about to hit the fan. It doesn't matter which saying you use, the facts are inescapable. Greece's membership of the eurozone is untenable under the current conditions and everyone knows it. Some like Hungary's finance minister say openly Greece will leave the euro. The only question is what catalyst will force it out and when. The nearest deadline to hand is the country's June 17th elections, when the Greek voters will decide whether to support parties who will adhere to the bailout agreements or those who want to tear them up.

[...]

Obviously now everyone has Spain in their sights. And there is where the real problem lies. Spain is too big to fully bail out a la Greece and definitely too big too fail. If Spain gets into too much trouble "Project Euro" is likely over. From all my private talks with European officials it has become clear -- Spain is the line in the sand. Greece may be too far gone and be allowed to fall, but Spain will be defended till the bitter end. So I fully expect European leaders to give Spain something to take the boot off the throat of austerity in the coming weeks. Probably the same for Portugal.

European officials have made mistakes in their dealings with Greece. The austerity measures were too harsh. They shouldn't have been nearly so brutal, and that lesson has been learnt. Now with the election of Francois Hollande as France's new president everyone can change course slightly and pretend they meant to do it all along (they didn't). Expect a growth pact to be agreed between Germany and France to sit alongside the main Fiscal Compact, which Germany will not allow to be re-opened.

I could speculate for hours about which solution will be found, what formula they will adopt to keep the whole thing moving -- and frankly, it would be useless. This crisis is now moving too fast and has taken on a life of its own. The firewall is starting to smolder. The austerity plans are starting to fray. The European Central Bank is cutting loose several Greek banks it does not consider solvent. The eurozone is all but back in recession. There are some uncontrollable aspects (the Greek voters for instance) which make forecasting the future direction just about impossible.

I still believe that the single currency will survive in some shape and form. I just cannot see the eurozone surviving in its present form -- not without the most drastic re-organization towards fiscal union, a federation of states with a central bank and treasury. [...]

The crisis they themselves created, becomes the excuse to tighten their grip and consolidate their power.
     

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South African President Compares Himself to a Rape Victim

Because of a painting that shows his genitals:

SAfrica: Zuma seeks ban on artwork; vandals hit
JOHANNESBURG — South African President Jacob Zuma and his African National Congress sought a court order Tuesday to have a painting depicting the president's genitals removed from an art gallery but two men took matters into their own hands by defacing the portrait with gobs of paint.

The case pits freedom of expression against the right to dignity, both guaranteed by South Africa's constitution. The painting by Brett Murray went on display in a Johannesburg gallery this month and came to the ANC's attention a week later, after local media reported it had been sold. Zuma, who has a reputation for promiscuity, took the depiction very personally and compared himself to a rape victim. Zuma himself was put on trial for rape, and acquitted, in 2006.

"The portrayal has ridiculed and caused me humiliation and indignity," Zuma contended in an affidavit filed Tuesday with the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg.

[...]

Police spokesman Vish Naidoo said the two unidentified men, aged 58 and 25, are expected to appear in a magistrate's court Thursday on a charge of malicious damage to property.

After the painting was defaced, a third man spray-painted the first three letters of the word "respect" on a wall near the gallery's front gate before he was taken away by police, and Naidoo said he, too, would be charged with malicious damage to property and was likely to appear in court Thursday. The man shouted that the gallery had shown the president disrespect.

Back at the courthouse, more than 100 pro-Zuma protesters gathered outside. One, Donavan Cloete, wore a T-shirt with the slogan: "President Zuma has a right to human dignity and privacy."

"The artist has got his own views on the political situation. He has a right to express himself," Cloete said. "On the other hand, there's got to be a line drawn as to what constitutes satire and what constitutes insult."

But Sophia Morren, a ceramicist who was in the gallery when the painting was defaced, said Zuma had shown little respect for himself. She referred to Zuma's six marriages — he currently has four wives — his 21 children, and his acknowledgment in 2010 that he fathered a child that year with a woman who was not among his wives.

"He's famous for all his women, all his children. I get exactly what the artist is saying," Morren said. "Zuma shouldn't be complaining. Really." [...]

Does anyone really have the right not be be insulted? How can that be compatible with free speech, and freedom of expression? And couldn't any politician claim to be "insulted" by any criticism directed at him/her, and thus use that as justification to silence any political opposition?

It will be interesting to see what the South African Courts do with this. Whatever they decide, will set a precedent.


Also See:

South African gallery closes after controversial work is defaced

Free South Africa... Again
     

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Rampant Voter Fraud that the Mainstream Media won't tell you about



The hits keep coming: Project Veritas exposes non-citizens, dead people registered to vote in NC — and so much more
Fraud? What voter fraud? While progressives continue to deny, deny, deny, investigative journalist James O’Keefe and Project Veritas continues to expose, expose, expose.

The latest target: North Carolina.

Project Veritas pulled up jury refusal forms and voter history documents to show that non-citizens and dead people there are registered to vote.

Watch as a man posing as a non-citizen with a passport is stubbornly encouraged by NC officials — who refuse to examine his ID — to vote. Listen to a conversation with election officials who joke about running over Supreme Court justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Listen to the election judge who only wants to uphold certain parts of the state constitution. And witness a University of North Carolina official chuckling as a “student” brags about voting in two different states to infiltrate GOP primaries. [...]

Which is worse, the liars and cheats who fraudulently vote, or the public officials who look the other way or even encourage it?

I know that in many places ID is not required to vote, but this just shows why proper identification needs to be required. And what about the fraudulent voting that has been uncovered? Why are there no consequences?

Where is the integrity of our voting system? There are laws against voter fraud, so why aren't these people being prosecuted? What good are laws that aren't enforced? Where is the accountability of those whose job it is to enforce our laws?

     

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Paul Harvey got much of it right, back in 1965

See for yourself. How much of this rings true today?



Hint: it was easy for someone to illustrate it with contemporary photographs.

     

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Who are the majority of today's Entrepreneurs?

Would you believe, it's mostly the older folks?

Buying a business after 50
[...] Americans 55 to 64 have launched more businesses than any other age group during the past decade, closely followed by those 45 to 54, reports the Kauffman Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to entrepreneurship.

For some, the change has been forced upon them by the tough job market. Others are taking the leap to escape boredom, become their own boss, pursue a passion -- or simply in hopes of hitting it rich.

Whatever the motivation, entrepreneurs face a tough road. Half of businesses fail within the first five years, the U.S. Small Business Administration reports. Some research shows that boomerpreneurs have more staying power than younger folks, but the stakes are also higher: You have little time to recover from failure, you have higher living expenses to cover, you may have a family depending on your income, and though you've likely amassed more wealth, you're closer to the time when you need to tap those assets.

So how can you beat the odds if you want to join the boomerpreneur boom? MONEY put that question to small-business experts and dozens of fiftysomething entrepreneurs for their best advice.

This is the first of three articles on how to become a boomerpreneur. This one will help you to see if you've got what it takes to own your own business and how to put time on your side. You can also get tips for changing your lifestyle, knowing the real costs of starting up a business and financing with caution. [...]

Well it makes sense to me. Older folks have gained more experience managing finances, interacting with many different kinds of people, and generally understanding how the world works. Plus, they may have saved up some cash and other resources to live on, while they are growing their business. All that would give them an edge.

Read the full article, for embedded links and more.
     

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Saturday, May 05, 2012

Titanic Facts, Figures, and ... Debunked Myths


On my earlier post about Titanic Cabin Classes, I mistakenly suggested that after the third class accommodations, there was Steerage class. On further research, I discovered that 3rd class WAS Steerage, but upgraded from what Steerage class was on most ships of that time.

I also discovered a lot of other things, and thought I would share the links here.

Titanic Facts
The Life & Loss of the RMS Titanic in Numbers
[...]

3,547 - the maximum number of people the Titanic could carry.

2,223 - the number of people aboard (passengers and crew).

13 - the number of honeymooning couples on the voyage.

Read more facts about the Titanic passengers -->

14,000 - the gallons of drinking water used every 24 hours.

40,000 - the number of fresh eggs in the ship's provisions.

1,000 - the number of bottles of wine taken aboard.

Read more facts about the food on the Titanic -->

64 - the number of lifeboats the Titanic was equipped to carry.

20 - the number of lifeboats she actually carried.

28 - the number of people on board the first lifeboat out of a capacity of 65 people.

Read more facts about the Titanic lifeboats -->

6 - the number of warnings of icebergs the Titanic received before the collision.

160 - the minutes it took the Titanic to sink after hitting the iceberg (2 hours and 40 minutes).

-2 - the temperature of the sea water in centigrade.

Read more facts about the Titanic sinking -->

31.6 - the total percentage of passengers and crew who survived.

53.4 - the percentage who could have survived, given the number of spaces available on the Titanic lifeboats.

2 - the number of dogs who survived (lapdogs taken aboard lifeboats by their owners).
[...]

That's just a sampling of data, from the front page. There are multiple links that will take you further into much more data. But if you want more than technical facts and figures, how about myth debunking:

Titanic Trivia: The Facts and the Myths
[...]

Common Myths and Facts

Myth: The Titanic was touted by the White Star Line as being unsinkable.

Though many experts at the time did proclaim the Titanic "practically unsinkable" because of the addition of the watertight doors, she was not described as unsinkable by anyone responsible for her creation until after the fact. When informed of the Titanic's predicament, White Star Line Vice President P.A.S. Franklin was quoted as saying, "We place absolute confidence in the Titanic. We believe the boat is unsinkable."

Alhough, one promotional brochure put out by the White Star Line did say, "...as far as it is possible to do, these two wonderful vessels are designed to be unsinkable."

Myth: The Titanic was trying to set a speed record, causing them to ignore the important warnings.

This was not true for many reasons, the first being that they had chosen a longer, more southern route. It was slower but they hoped to avoid ice. We also have to remember that travel and communication was not as it is today. An early arrival would have required that travel arrangements be made days or weeks in advance for the arriving passengers. If they arrived a day early, most of them would have been left standing at the docks for another day. In addition to this fact, the last boiler had never been lit. Even if it had been lit, breaking the record would have required a full 26 knots, but the Titanic's top speed was 21 knots. Even attempting to break the record would have risked severe engine damage.

Quote from an interview before launch: "'Will she ever dock on Tuesday?'
'No,' Smith said emphatically, 'and there will be no attempt to bring her in on Tuesday. She was built for a Wednesday ship and her run this first voyage has demonstrated that she will fulfill the expectations of the builders.' Mr. Ismay said that on her return trip she would steam at 21 knots the first day then gradually work her speed to see what her engines could do."

However, the captain was concerned with being on time, which most likely led to his failure to slow down in ice-laden waters.

Myth: Third class passengers were locked below deck to keep them from getting off the ship.

While 201 first class passengers survived and 173 second class passengers survived, far more third class passengers perished. However, there was actually no attempt to keep third class passengers from getting into the lifeboats, or to divide potential survivors by class in any way. The trouble for third class was from several factors. First of all, many of them did not speak English and did not understand the orders to go to the boat deck. They had to be led to the boats, and even then many refused to board. Most of the surviving third class passengers actually had English surnames, indicating that they understood the danger and weren't as suspicious about getting into the lifeboats. Third class passengers also had much further to go to get to the boat deck, leaving them last on deck, with many still arriving after the lifeboats had already launched.

Myth: The Titanic did not have enough lifeboats because the of the owners' pride and vanity.

Actually, the number of lifeboats on the Titanic met the legal requirements at the time. The trouble lay in outdated laws that did not account for a ship the sheer size of the Titanic. However, there were more passengers than the lifeboats could accommodate, and many were launched at less than full capacity. They had the capacity to save 1,178, but in the end the Carpathian rescued only 705 survivors.

Myth: J. Bruce Ismay was a coward who saved himself, while allowing so many others to die.

Chief Executive of the White Star Line, J. Bruce Ismay was accused by many of being a selfish man who took a seat on one of the remaining lifeboats, leaving women and children to die. He was vilified by the American press for his decisions, but the press doesn't always get things right.

Ismay was described as an extremely shy man by people who knew him, a trait that was often mistaken for arrogance. During the inquiry into the Titanic disaster, a number of women came forward saying that it was Mr. Ismay himself who convinced them to board the lifeboats. Only after all of the surrounding women and children were boarded did he take his seat. [...]

And there is more, such as what was the cost of tickets in today's dollars, some premonitions people had who chose not to go, what was found on the wreck on the ocean floor, etc.

And speaking of premonitions, here is some weird stuff:

Titanic Weird Stuff
Astonishingly, the tragedy of Titanic was anticipated in stories written before the ship set sail. The most striking is “The Sinking of a Modern Liner” written in 1886 by W.T. Stead, the famous English journalist and spiritualist. By a macabre coincidence, Stead went down with Titanic. In his story, a liner leaves Liverpool, picks up passengers and mailbags in Queenstown and on its journey to New York is in a collision. There are too few lifeboats, panic ensues and the Captain brandishes a revolver to keep steerage passengers from storming the lifeboat deck. [...]

There were also other premonitions. If you follow they link, they offer a video too.


One other odd thing I found, was a growing interest in the food on the Titanic:



Study of food eaten aboard Titanic a window into passengers' lives, class system
LONDON, Ont. - In the total scope of what happened to the Titanic, it is curious that so many people seem fascinated by what its passengers ate. A century after the disaster, numerous websites are devoted exclusively to the subject and elaborate Titanic dinners are staged to recreate the final meal on the doomed ship.

About 2 a.m. on April 15, 1912, the “unsinkable” White Star Line ocean liner went down in the North Atlantic on its maiden voyage after hitting an iceberg, killing 1,500 of its 2,200 passengers and crew. Yet just three years later, on May 1, 1915, RMS Lusitania, another luxury British passenger ship, was torpedoed by a German U-boat just off the coast of Ireland with a loss of 1,200 lives and nobody writes about what those people had for dinner.

[...]

For "Last Dinner," Archbold studied the passengers themselves, particularly the illustrious first class, set the scene and recreated events of the final evening based on archived accounts. McCauley, a Stratford Chef School-trained French chef who was working at Canadian Living magazine, was called upon to research the food.

Three menus that survived the sinking were her starting point. One was the first-class dinner menu from the night of April 14 — the final meal. The second was a second-class dinner menu from the same night. The last was a badly water-damaged third-class breakfast menu from April 12 recovered from the jacket of a deceased passenger.

"Because we've got first-, second- and third-class food, we know a little bit about what the people were like," McCauley says. Head chef Charles Proctor, who went down with the ship, "really tried to make the food match the people.

"In second class, there were many people who raved about how fancy it was. It was like birthday celebration-type dining for them every night."

The second-class menu for the three-course meal served April 14 indicates the passengers had a choice of four main dishes: baked haddock with sharp sauce, curried chicken and rice, lamb with mint sauce or roast turkey with savoury cranberry sauce.

In third class, according to a White Star Line sample bill of fare reproduced in the book, dinner was served at noon and featured items such as roast pork, beefsteak and kidney pie, fricassee rabbit and corned beef and cabbage.

With the third-class menu, Proctor "did a great job of epitomizing what a British person's diet would be at that time," McCauley says. "In the end they had (third-class) passengers from a lot of different countries who were probably a little confused by it, but his heart was in the right place."

But with first class, she says, "he hit the nail right on the head" with a staggering 11-course gourmet banquet. Nine of those courses were accompanied by appropriate wines.

[...]

She says what impressed her most was "the productivity of that kitchen. They did 6,000 meals a day on the Titanic with only 80 chefs. It was a 24/7 job. Everything was made from scratch and this was highly stylized food. It took incredible skill." [...]

If you read the whole article, you'll see, among other things, that it mentions that the book is being used by some people to create "Titanic Dinner Parties", recreating the last meals, in detail.

Gosh. Whatever floats yer boat, I guess.
     

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