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Sunday, April 30, 2006

BELTANE - April 30th this year

Every May 1st -- Also known as Roodmas or May Day<

Beltane has long been celebrated with feasts and rituals. Beltane means fire of Bel; Belinos being one name for the Sun God, whose coronation feast we now celebrate. As summer begins, weather becomes warmer, and the plant world blossoms, an exuberant mood prevails. In old Celtic traditions it was a time of unabashed sexuality and promiscuity where marriages of a year and a day could be undertaken but it is rarely observed in that manner in modern times.

In the old Celtic times, young people would spend the entire night in the woods "A-Maying," and then dance around the phallic Maypole the next morning. Older married couples were allowed to remove their wedding rings (and the restrictions they imply) for this one night. May morning is a magickal time for wild water (dew, flowing streams, and springs) which is collected and used to bathe in for beauty, or to drink for health.

The Christian religion had only a poor substitute for the life-affirming Maypole -- namely, the death-affirming cross. Hence, in the Christian calendar, this was celebrated as 'Roodmas'. In Germany, it was the feast of Saint Walpurga, or 'Walpurgisnacht'. An alternative date around May 5 (Old Beltane), when the sun reaches 15 degrees Taurus, is sometimes employed by Covens. (Both 'Lady Day' and 'Ostara' are names incorrectly assigned to this holiday by some modern traditions of Wicca.)

Congregationalist Wicca Association of Saskatchewan- Beltane ritual
Congregational Wiccan Association of Saskatchewan's Sky River Temple - open Beltane ritual
Think of the May pole as a focal point of the old English village rituals. Many people would rise at the first light of dawn to go outdoors and gather flowers and branches to decorate their homes. Women traditionally would braid flowers into their hair. Men and women alike would decorate their bodies. Beltane marks the return of vitality, of passion. Ancient Pagan traditions say that Beltane marks the emergence of the young God into manhood. Stirred by the energies at work in nature, he desires the Goddess. They fall in love, lie among the grasses and blossoms, and unite. The Goddess becomes pregnant of the God. To celebrate, a wedding feast, for the God and Goddess must be prepared. Let Them guide you! Breads and cereals are popular. Try oatmeal cakes or cookies sweetened with a dab of honey. Dairy foods are again appropriate...just make a lovely wedding feast and you are sure to enjoy yourself! An early morning walk through a local park or forest could be fun for everyone. Gather up some plants or flowers to display in your home. Mom and daughter could braid their hair, and weave in a few tender blossoms.

Blessed Be!

Life and Peace be with You --Cinosam

Photo Gallery: Chernobyl, 20 Years After the Disaster

Childrens toys and gas masks litter a kindergarten classroom in Pripyat, Ukraine Childrens toys and gas masks litter a kindergarten classroom in Pripyat, Ukraine. The abandoned town sits just two miles (three kilometers) from the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, which exploded in the predawn hours of April 26, 1986. All 50,000 Pripyat residents were evacuated after the accident, and the town, which was created for Chernobyl employees, has not been repopulated --more-- *National Geographic News

Trojan freezes computer, requests ransom

Trojan Horse Virus (IDG News Service) (London Bureau) A new kind of malware circulating on the Internet freezes a computer and then asks for a ransom paid through the Western Union Holdings Inc. money transfer service. A sample of the Trojan horse virus was sent Wednesday to Sophos PLC, a security vendor, said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant. The malware, which Sophos named Troj/Ransom-A, is one of only a few viruses so far that have asked for a ransom in exchange for releasing control of a computer, Cluley said. The new Trojan falls into a class of viruses described as "ransomware." The schemes had been seen in Russia, but the first one appeared in English just last month. "It is a new kind of malware with a particularly nasty payload," Cluley said. It's unclear how the Trojan is being spread, although Sophos is investigating, Cluley said. Viruses can be spread in several ways, including through spam or a so-called drive-by download that exploits a browser vulnerability when a user visits a malicious Web site. Once run, the Trojan freezes the computer, displaying a message saying files are being deleted every 30 minutes. It then gives instructions on how to send US$10.99 via Western Union to free the computer. Hitting the control, alt and delete keys will not affect the bug, the virus writer warns. Sophos provides further details at this Web site. The virus writer even offers tech support, Cluley said. If the method of unlocking the computer doesn't work after the money is sent, the virus writer promises to research the problem and includes an e-mail address. Last month, a Trojan emerged that encrypts a user's documents and then leaves a file demanding $300 in exchange for the password to access the information. Victims were instructed to send money to one of 99 accounts run by e-gold Ltd., a company that runs a money transfer site.

*By: Jeremy Kirk

Friday, April 28, 2006

Rosie O'Donnell Returns To Daytime TV

Rosie O'Donnell (New York City)(by The Associated Press) Rosie O'Donnell is expected to make a surprise return to daytime television by taking over exiting Meredith Vieira's slot on the talk show The View. O'Donnell's appointment was reported Thursday by the newsmagazine Extra. It was confirmed by a person close to the show who spoke on condition of anonymity because The View wanted to make the announcement on Friday's show. ABC officials declined comment on the report Thursday. 

Dubbed The Queen of Nice when her syndicated talk show went on the air in 1996 and became an instant hit, O'Donnell won six Daytime Emmy Awards in six years as best talk-show host. She left the show to help raise four children with her partner, Kelli Carpenter O'Donnell. It's an important appointment for The View, which was created by Barbara Walters. Vieira's news background helped make her the solid centre of the program on the days Walters didn't appear on air. But Vieira joined the game of musical anchor chairs that began when Katie Couric chose to move to the CBS Evening News. NBC quickly named Vieira as her replacement on the Today show, where she will begin work in September. 

Joy Behar and Star Jones Reynolds, who have been bickering at each other lately, are also members of The View roundtable, along with Elisabeth Hasselbeck. They're nominated together in the best talk-show host category at Friday's Daytime Emmy Awards. "I think every agent in America is calling," Walters said shortly after Vieira's departure was announced April 6. O'Donnell has acted in a variety of movie, TV and stage shows, including the films A League of Their Own and Sleepless in Seattle and Grease on Broadway. She should have no problem holding her own with the other ladies on The View. Since leaving daytime television, O'Donnell has become a strong advocate of gay and lesbian marriage and adoption. With her partner, she operates a cruise line for gay and lesbian families that was recently featured in an HBO movie.

Bush Calls Cabinet Meeting To Get Story Straight

WASHINGTON, DC—With his administration dogged by criminal allegations, President Bush called a special Cabinet meeting Tuesday to ensure that his staff's complex web of alibis is consistent at every level, an anonymous source reported. "Okay, team, let's make sure we're all on the same completely fabricated page here," Bush reportedly said while aides distributed thick binders containing the administration's latest official side of things. "The e-mail server crashed during Katrina, the dog chewed up our files on the Plame leak, and no one ever told me that the illegal wiretapping was illegal. Right, boys?" Added Bush: "Remember, we're all really on a picnic at Camp David right now." Bush has held 17 Cabinet meetings to get the story straight since 2001, surpassing the previous record, held by the Reagan administration. --more--

*The Onion

I Can't Afford My Gasoline

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*Thanks, Vlad

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Star Trek's Mr. Sulu Backs Gay Activists

George Takei MINNEAPOLIS - Mr. Sulu beamed down to lend support to student gay activists who tried to visit a private Christian university. George Takei, who played the helmsman in three "Star Trek" TV seasons and six movies, made a surprise appearance Monday after a busload of Soulforce Equality Riders tried to talk about faith and gay rights with students at North Central University in downtown Minneapolis. The 33 activists are traveling by bus to 19 U.S. colleges with religion-based policies opposed to homosexuality. They were locked out of school buildings when they arrived at North Central, which is owned and operated by the Assemblies of God. After sitting in front of the doors for most of the afternoon, the Soulforce riders and supporters rallied at a park across the street when Takei, who came out as a homosexual last year, stopped by. The 68-year-old actor said the activists' "equality trek" shares themes with those of the starship Enterprise. "They have shown courage and character in showing that most people of faith are not extreme reactionaries who oppose equal rights," he said. Tour organizer Jacob Reitan, 24, said the colleges they are visiting "equate homosexuality with sickness and sin. It's time to have a conversation instead of defaming our humanity." Nate Ruch, executive director of university relations at North Central, said last week that the riders declined an offer to have a third party mediate a discussion. Takei was in town to speak at a gay pride event at the University of Minnesota.

Star Trek film 'turns back time'

Star Trek Paramount Pictures announced today that Lost creator J.J. Abrams will co-write, produce and direct the eleventh Star Trek film, set for release in 2008. According to an article in the Daily Variety, the new film will be a prequel to the original Star Trek series, featuring younger versions of characters like James T. Kirk and Spock. The movie will chronicle events such as their first meeting at Starfleet Academy and their first mission into outer space. The as-yet untitled new film will be written by Abrams together with Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. Abrams is the creator of television series such as Felicity, Alias and Lost, and will soon be making his debut as a feature film director with Paramount's Mission Impossible: III. He's also written the scripts for films such as Regarding Henry and Armageddon. Kurtzman and Orci cooperated with Abrams on the MI: III script, and were previously part of the Alias writing staff, as well as writing the scripts for films such as The Island and the upcoming Transformers movie. Besides Abrams, the film's producing team will include Damon Lindelof and Bryan Burk, who both also produce Lost. The Variety article made no mention of the fate of Rick Berman, who has been heading the Trek franchise for the past two decades. According to Variety, the decision to produce a new Trek film is part of an effort by new Paramount head Brad Grey to try and raise the profile of Paramount by producing several "high-profile tentpole" movie, and having them developed by some of the most talented people in Hollywood. The Starfleet Academy concept is an idea that has been floating around Paramount for several decades now. In February, former Trek movie producer Harve Bennett told the Trek Nation that as recently as two years ago he had a discussion with the then-current regime at Paramount about reviving the idea. Variety confirmed Bennett's statements, writing that several years ago Rick Berman was asked by Paramount to develop a Starfleet Academy feature together with Jordan Kerner and Kerry McCluggage. Presumably this idea evolved into the Star Trek: The Beginning concept, which now appears dead in the water. For the original story from Variety, please follow this link.

Ask The Wizard (Virus vs. spyware**)

The Wunnerfull Wizard of 'OZ' Dear Wizard of 'OZ',

I was wondering what the difference is between Spyware and Viruses?



Dear Confused,

Many people use the term spyware and virus interchangeably, as if it were the same thing? But when you look at the 'who,' the 'why,' the 'what,' the 'how' and the legal status of these two things, you see they're quite different.

Let's start with the 'who.' Who writes a virus? Well, usually it's one person, maybe two people, but usually it's one person sitting alone in a basement or an apartment trying to prove something. Who writes spyware? Well, you'd be surprised. It's often a whole team of people because spyware is often written by companies that operate out in the open and don't think they're doing anything wrong.

Which gets to the 'why.' Why do people write viruses? Mostly, they're trying to brag, trying to draw attention to themselves, to boast about their skills, or to show the vulnerabilities of a software program they don't like. But why do people write spyware? It's for money. They think that there's money in this, for marketing, or to sell things or to get information that they can turn into dollars. It's much more driven by the financial reward that they're hoping to get.

And 'what' are the questions about a virus. Well, no, people usually understand what a virus is. There's this broad consensus, there's no disagreement. But you know what, when it comes to what constitutes spyware, there's a big disagreement as to the 'what.' People disagree. They'll say, this is spyware. Other people say, no, it's not, it's just a feature of the browser. So there's a big difference here.

What about the 'how'? How is a virus spread? Well, the preferred method is e-mail, but how is spyware spread? That usually happens through a browser. So, even the way it is spread and promulgated is quite different and then finally the legal status. This is pretty much settled. There were disputes about what constitutes a law-breaking and what the jurisdictions were. But for the most part, people understand that laws are broken when you write a virus that invade someone's system and damages their information. Over here, it's still chaos. In some places, spyware is obviously against the law, their statutes, they forbid its use; in other places, you can actually point to a company or an individual that has written spyware and yet you can't find a crime on the book, the statute that you can prosecute them for.

So, if you look at the legal status, the 'how,' the 'what,' the 'why' and the 'who,' you see that viruses and spyware are quite different.**
Hope this helps.


The Wizard

** Bob Artner, VP, TechRepublic
Used with permission from CNET Networks, Inc., &#169 2006. All rights reserved.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Queen Elizabeth II turns 80

Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II turns 80 today with her reputation intact, abdication firmly ruled out, and her eldest son Charles facing yet another decade as heir in waiting. Despite a tumultuous decade of scandals, divorce and tragedy for Britain's most famous dysfunctional family, Elizabeth's popularity has survived and even revived in recent years. The latest polls suggest just one in 10 of her subjects want to see the Queen step down, while palace courtiers dismiss rumours of Charles, 57, acting as a 'shadow king'. 

Elizabeth meanwhile, has steadily refused to allow the Republican voice of dissent to dent her steely resolve, insisting the role is "a job for life." She is also firmly committed to the Commonwealth of former British colonies and has travelled more widely than any previous monarch to promote friendly ties with them. Crowned nearly 53 years ago, Elizabeth has held the House of Windsor together through some of its most challenging times -- including several calls to dissolve the largely ceremonial institution she represents. 

Over the course of her reign, she has brought the British monarchy into the modern age, allowing the public more access to her family that any monarch before her. At the same time, the Queen has struggled against tabloid scandals to present her family as, ultimately, just average. Known to favour simplicity in palace life, the Queen appears to take a serious and informed interest in government business, aside from her traditional and ceremonial duties. Privately she is a keen horsewoman and keeps racehorses. She frequently attends races and periodically visits the stud farms of Kentucky. Her financial and property holdings have also made her one of the richest women in the world. Queen Elizabeth II, then Princess Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth II, then Princess Elizabeth, is introduced by her mother Elizabeth, the Duchess of York, to disabled soldiers at an exhibition of their work in London, in this May 16, 1933 photo. (AP Photo) The unassuming Queen Born in London on April 21, 1926, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was the first child of Albert, Duke of York, and his wife, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon -- later to become King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. Elizabeth was never expected to ascend to the throne. But when her uncle King Edward VIII abdicated in 1936 to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson, her father George succeeded to the throne and Elizabeth's fate was sealed; she was now the heir presumptive and would follow in his place. 

During the Second World War, Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret spent much of their time safely away from the London Blitz -- living mostly at Balmoral Castle in Scotland and at Windsor Castle. Then in 1947, when the Princess was 21, she married her 4th cousin -- the dashing Lieut. Philip Mountbatten, great-great grandson of Queen Victoria. The wedding took place in Westminster Abbey on Nov. 20, 1947 and on the eve of the wedding the king conferred various titles on Philip, including Duke of Edinburgh. 

Elizabeth began a family almost as soon as she married, bearing two children -- Charles, born in 1948, and Anne, born in 1950. However, the family's carefree life proved to be short-lived. During the summer of 1951, the health of King George VI entered into a serious decline. He died of lung cancer in February 1952 -- sending Elizabeth to the throne and abruptly ending Philip's naval career. The young and beautiful Elizabeth may have been nervous about her new role, but the British public was delighted with such a glamorous distraction from the post-war doldrums. In 1953, the year she ascended, Elizabeth was named Time magazine's "Woman of the Year". Her coronation at Westminster Abbey on June 2 was broadcast on radio around the world and, at the Queen's insistence, on television for the first time. 

The Royal Family's public life had entered the 20th century. From then on, every major royal event has been broadcast on TV stations around the world. King George Vl and Queen Elizabeth With another war in Europe in the offing, King George Vl and Queen Elizabeth came to Canada to unveil a monument in Ottawa commemorating Canada's First World War dead. (CP Photo) 

Responsibilities As the Queen, Elizabeth has always taken her responsibilities seriously. In November 1953, she and the Duke of Edinburgh completed a six-month tour of the Commonwealth. And in 1957, after state visits to various European nations, they visited Canada and the United States. During her Silver Jubilee in 1977, she presided at a London banquet attended by the leaders of the 36 members of the Commonwealth, travelled all over Britain and Northern Ireland, and toured overseas in the South Pacific and Australia, Canada, and the Caribbean. 

 Elizabeth continues today to maintain a busy schedule, becoming the most widely travelled head of state in the world. Yet while many adore her, others have publicly questioned her role, wondering whether a place still exists for a publicly-funded monarchy in these modern and cynical times. Elizabeth, ever aware of the monarchy's public image, responded in 1993 by announcing she would begin paying income and capital gains taxes on a voluntary basis, just like any other citizen. 

Her role was even formally questioned in Australia in 1999 when the country held a national referendum on whether she should remain as the country's Head of State. But after months of debate and a vote, Australians finally decided she should stay. Queen Elizabeth II records her traditional Christmas television and radio broadcast Queen Elizabeth II records her traditional Christmas television and radio broadcast to the Commonwealth at Windsor castle near London on Dec. 12, 1997. (AP Photo/John Stillwell) 

The television age Elizabeth has always embraced the medium of television as a way to connect with her public and to show the world that her family is just like any other. When she had her third child Andrew in 1960 and then Edward in 1964, it was television that brought the images of the baby princes into homes around the world. Yet with the television age came an increasingly invasive media that has probed relentlessly into the personal lives of the Queen and her family. 

And though Elizabeth has worked to maintain the monarchy's image of restraint and dignity, her own spotless image was overshadowed in recent years by tabloid reports of the numerous scandals of those close to her. Much has been written about the failed marriages of three of her four children. But the Queen has offered little public reaction to any of these events -- except in 1992, the year she called her 'annus horribilis'. In that one year, Princess Anne divorced, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson separated, there was a major fire at Windsor Castle and, perhaps most damaging to the family's image, the Andrew Morton book was published about Princess Diana. 

Yet while Elizabeth's stiff-upper-lip demeanour has worked for most of her reign, the approach backfired after the death of Princess Diana in a Paris car crash in 1997. The Queen faced heavy criticism for the Palace's silence and apparent apathy. The British public, and much of the world, demanded reaction from the institution that shut Diana out and the monarchy's popularity plummeted. The Queen finally responded by offering her first live public address to Britain's people in 38 years, broadcast of course, on national television. Elizabeth spoke with visible emotion as she reflected on the life and death of the Princess. 

The public's anger soon dissipated and the Queen was praised for achieving yet another PR coup. In 2002, she marked her Golden Jubilee, celebrating 50 years on the throne. Celebration plans had been in the works for years, with tours planned for 23 Commonwealth countries and all the counties of Britain. But the year began under a cloud. In early February, Elizabeth's sister Princess Margaret died at the age of 71 after suffering a stroke. Then, just seven weeks later, the 101-year-old Queen Mother died. After an official 10-day mourning period, the Queen returned to the festivities, celebrating her birthday in April with a parade through the streets of London. Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by her husband Prince Philip, rides in the Gold State Coach from Buckingham Palace Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by her husband Prince Philip, rides in the Gold State Coach from Buckingham Palace to St Paul's Cathedral for a service to celebrate her Golden Jubilee in London. (AP / John Giles) 

Golden Jubilee Her coronation date was marked in June with four days of celebrations, capped off by a huge rock concert for 12,000 invited guests outside Buckingham Palace. And in April 2005, the tension between Elizabeth and her eldest son over his tortuous love life was finally eased when Charles married Camilla Parker-Bowles after a 35-year love affair. Known for her dry sense of humour and skills as a mimic, Elizabeth was recently described as "fit as a flea and totally in command of her senses," by royal biographer Penny Junor. "She enjoys it and this is what she signed up for."

*By Sarah Challands, CTV NEWS

Pope Benedict Asks If It's Too Late To Change Name

Pope Benedict VATICAN CITY—Only a year after ascending to the papacy, Pope Benedict XVI is appealing the College of Cardinals for a name change. "Benedict is serviceable enough, but I did not consider the ease of it being shortened to 'Ben' by impudent dignitaries such as Bono, nor did I foresee the difficulties it would pose whenever I ordered eggs," the former Cardinal Ratzinger said Monday. "I obviously wouldn't go with John Paul or Pius. Boniface is a non-starter, but there is precedent for a Pope Lando, Corwin, or Marcellus." The pope admitted that when he chose his papal name he was mostly concerned with avoiding the nickname "Nazinger."

*The Onion

Microsoft's security bulletins for April

Microsoft patches latest security holes Details: Microsoft has released a slew of critical bulletins for the cruelest month of all (tax day for U.S. readers). This month we have three new critical bulletins (one of which was updated over the weekend) addressing a number of vulnerabilities, along with two more bulletins addressing minor issues. (Of course no issue is really minor if it affects you.) Microsoft Security Bulletin MS06-013, "Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer," replaces MS05-054 (all platforms) and MS06-004 (IE 5.01 SP4 only), and the patch will affect the way IE as well as ActiveX works. There have been reports of exploits in this vulnerability. Microsoft Security Bulletin MS06-014, "Vulnerability in the Microsoft Data Access Components (MDAC) Function Could Allow Code Execution," addresses one vulnerability, Microsoft Windows MDAC Vulnerability-CVE-2006-0003. There have been no reports of exploits in this newly-disclosed vulnerability. Microsoft Security Bulletin MS06-015, "Vulnerability in Windows Explorer Could Allow Remote Code Execution," replaces MS05-016 and MS05-008. This is a newly discovered vulnerability with no reported exploits. Note that due to the event of the bulletin's April 15 modification, you may wish to recheck this if you had earlier dismissed the known issues with the patch as not applicable to your shop. This patch targets Windows Shell Vulnerability-CVE-2006-0012 but also addresses CVE-2004-2289. MS06-016 The remote code execution vulnerability, "Cumulative Security Update for Outlook Express," is an "important" threat. There have been no reports of exploits in this newly-disclosed vulnerability. The patch alters the way Outlook Express validates .WAB files. Please note that this bulletin has been updated (April 15), regarding a privacy related change so you may wish to recheck this bulletin if you already looked at it. MS06-017 The remote code execution vulnerability, "Vulnerability in Microsoft FrontPage Server Extensions Could Allow Cross Site Scripting," rates a "moderate" threat. There have been no reports of exploits in this newly-disclosed vulnerability. This threat mostly affects platforms with Microsoft Internet Information Services, FrontPage Server extensions 2002, or SharePoint Team Services installed.

*Tech Republic

Twisting Faith

When I came to Albany in 1978 as a student, one of the first actions I was involved in was convincing the University at Albany, then called the State University of New York at Albany, to include sexual orientation in its non-discrimination policy.

There was some discussion, some deliberation and eventually the administration did the right thing-they moved to protect lesbian and gay students on campus.

Soon many college campuses followed suit. In the 21st century, non-discrimination policies that protect LGBT students are commonplace, part of the warp and weft of what I’ve always thought academic freedom was all about-creating a community where all voices were valued, even those I don’t necessarily agree with.

But something sinister and perverse has happened recently. Campus-based conservative groups are attacking these policies saying their rights to free speech and to their religious practices are being infringed. Somehow a positive action-protection and acceptance-is twisted and becomes grounds for a negative reaction.

At Georgia Tech two students-one Christian, one Jewish, both conservative-have sued the school saying its non-discrimination policy violates their freedom of speech because they are effectively barred from speaking out against homosexuality and other issues on campus.

Georgia Tech thinks the suit is without merit. The school’s spokesperson, Amelia Gambino, told the Atlanta Constitution recently that Georgia Tech takes the civil rights of all it’s student seriously and that student organizations are encouraged to “express themselves as long as they do not encourage violence or intolerance of others.” That seems fair enough.

But not for the Alliance Defense Fund, the legal ministry that has brought the Georgia Tech suit on behalf of the two students. In the suit, the Fund also accuses the school of unconstitutionally allowing on campus a group called Safe Space which trains college staff and students on LGBT issues. The ADF said the group pushes a viewpoint advocating that students and employees overcome their religious objections to homosexuality.

Here is an example of ADF twisting the truth. Safe Space is actually a Georgia Tech program. The program’s main objectives, found on its website at www.safespace.gatech.edu, are the following: to provide a supportive environment for LGBT members of the campus community, to facilitate their "coming out" process, to foster a social climate in which others do not feel the need to express anti-gay attitudes in order to "fit in," to dispel negative stereotypes and present factually accurate information about LGBT people, and to publicize other support resources or structures that are available on or off campus.

Participation in Safe Space trainings is purely voluntary-no one is coerced, forced or tied to a chair and made to listen. No one’s right to free speech or religious freedom is being threatened. All that Safe Space is trying to do is make Georgia Tech inclusive and welcoming for LGBT students, faculty and staff.

And that’s really the crux of the matter. For ADF and other Radical Christian Right groups and adherents creating a welcoming atmosphere for LGBT people makes them feel unwelcome. Permitting LGBT-positive messages on campus makes it increasingly uncomfortable for them to give public voice to vitriol, ergo, their free speech is being stifled. Why, even letting LGBT people exist appears to be a threat to their religious freedom.

If you visit the ADF website (alliancedefensefund.org) you’ll see what I mean. They’re very proud of their first published book and the title says it all. "The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today."

I just don’t get it.

How is it that our desire to live our lives openly and freely, have our families around us, practice our religious beliefs, and basically define our own version of the American dream be a threat to anyone’s religious freedom? How is it that our right to free speech violates theirs? How is it that they’ve so totally confused democracy with demagoguery?

And how is it that in their fervor to save the world from LGBT people, the Christian Right has turned their backs on one of their religion’s basic teachings-to love their neighbor as themselves.

Libby Post *By Libbey Post 365Gay.com Libby Post is President of Communication Services, an Albany, New York-based full-service marketing firm serving the not-for-profit, health care, tourism and small business sectors. She has just launched a new firm, www.outmarketing.biz, which provides marketing services to companies that want to reach the gay and lesbian market. Post is also President Emeritus of the Capital District Gay and Lesbian Community Council and Founding Chair of the Empire State Pride Agenda. She has received numerous honors including being named one of the 100 Women of Excellence by the Albany-Colonie Chamber of Commerce and was cited by New York State Governor Mario Cuomo for her work on behalf of New York’s statewide lesbian and gay community.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Wing Chun Nuns

Wing Chun Description: Wing Chun is arguably the most famous single style within the Shaolin system. It was made known to the west by Bruce Lee and James Lee in the late 1960s in what was the single most influential introduction of Chinese Kung Fu outside China (one might equate Bruce Lee's bringing of kung fu to American television in 1964 with the arrival of the Beatles in America two years earlier). Despite Lee's rapid evolution of a personal style away from traditional Wing Chun, his association with that style was a major factor in its continued success over the years. More recently, the style has received new publicity following the death of long time grandmaster Yip Man as at least three of his senior disciples have waged an acrimonious conflict over who would inherit the supreme mantle for the style. Wing Chun

History: About two hundred years ago, there lived in China a beautiful young woman whose name was Yim Wing Chun. Her name suited her admirably, since it meant "Beautiful Springtime." She was the daughter of a food merchant, who sold beancurd from a marketstand. She was betrothed to the man she loved, Leong Bok Chao. Her father, however, could not resist boasting of her beauty and gentle character. 

One day, news of this beautiful maiden came to the ears of an infamous warlord of the Yunan province. He journeyed to her town, and upon seeing her, was immediately struck with a consuming desire to possess her, and, as often the way with rogues, decided to get his way by force. He ordered Wing Chun's father to his camp and told him that unless the maiden was given to him in marriage, he would kill them both. The father, his heart full of fear and confusion, and horrified at the warlord's cruel tactics, left the warlord's encampment to return home to tell his lovely daughter of her fate. There seemed to be no alternative, since the rogue was well known for his brutal atrocities and powerful gang of bandits. Calling young Wing Chun to him, the father told her of the warlord's ultimatum. 

"Your name will be honored in our family and you will be esteemed as a revered ancestor", he said, struggling for words to make the idea more palatable. "Who knows, you may be able to soften the warlord's heart and maintain yourself with pride as his wife, if not with the love I know you have for Leong Bok Chao. Wing Chun Ng Mui was a Shaolin nun, who had lived for many years in the great southern temple of Fukien. Some years earlier, this refuge of the contemplative life had been destroyed during a rebellion against the Manchu dynasty. Ng Mui was one of the few that had escaped the holocaust. She was an adept of the Shaolin fighting arts of dragon and crane. These arts had been developed to allow the priests and nuns to protect themselves from wild animals and wilder men, who would seek to destroy the peaceful way of the Shaolin order. When Ng Mui heard of the dilemma that Wing Chun found herself in, the nun sat quietly in meditation, thinking of a way which, in accord with Shaolin principles, would cause the least pain and hurt to all. 

Wing Chun Martial Approach: There are two concepts that are essential to Wing Chun: centerline and simplicity. The centerline is guarded meticulously with hands on center and elbows down and in. Movement is small and extremely efficient, utilizing subtle shifts of the body to deflect, evade and counterstrike all in one motion. At its most advanced level, contact with the opponent is maintained at all times to constantly check arms and legs, trap, and utilize the opponent’s movement to guide and even to increase power. Once the first blow is struck, the Wing Chun practitioner will march an opponent back with a constant barrage of swift, low kicks to disrupt the stance, and a flurry of cycle punches that serve as both offense and defense, batting everything off center and continuing in for the strike. Because of its simplicity, Wing Chun can be used effectively by beginning practitioners; also because of its simplicity, at its most advanced, Wing Chun is a devastatingly efficient style.

Kinky Boots

Kinky Boots

Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Joel Edgerton, Linda Bassett

(Los Angeles, California) It has heart and soul (and sole). What "Kinky Boots" lacks is kick.

The story of a dying British shoe factory that reboots itself as a maker of footwear for drag queens and transsexuals, the movie rolls along pleasantly enough on the strength of fine performances from Chiwetel Ejiofor and Joel Edgerton, who form a solid mismatched-buddy duo.

Yet it feels like a retread of what's become a formulaic British subgenre where dispirited folks break out of the box with an outrageous plan to boost their financial fortunes and self-esteem.

First came "The Full Monty," with out-of-work blue-collar employees baring it all as male strippers. Then we had "Calendar Girls," about older women posing nude to heat up sales of their charity calendar ("Kinky Boots" co-writer Tim Firth and two of the movie's producers also worked on "Calendar Girls").

Just recently, there was the U.S. debut of "On a Clear Day," the tale of a laid-off shipyard worker whose attempt to swim the English Channel buoys his spirits and rallies his alienated kinfolk.

"Kinky Boots" trods rather shallowly in the footsteps of those better films. British television director Julian Jarrold, in his big-screen debut, and screenwriters Firth and Geoff Deane stick to the same old recipe with this tale based on the true story of a Brit who inherited his family's failing shoe company and retooled it as a stiletto-heeled specialty outfit.

After his father's death, Charlie Price (Edgerton, best known as the young version of Luke Skywalker's Uncle Owen in the last two "Star Wars" movies) finds himself the reluctant proprietor of a shoe factory whose durable but bland loafers no longer have a market.

With the company bleeding money, Charlie has to do the unthinkable: Begin laying off his father's devoted workers.

The filmmakers awkwardly maneuver Charlie into a chance encounter with female impersonator Lola (Ejiofor), who just happens to be suffering from yet another pair of women's boots with high heels unable to support his manly weight.

You practically see the light bulb going on over Charlie's head, and from there, "Kinky Boots" plays out with unswerving predictability, shuffling along at a poky pace.

Charlie enlists Lola as consultant on a line of exotic footwear for men who have a hankering to walk a mile in women's shoes. The incredulous factory workers initially resist, but you know where you're heading in this feel-good equation.

Edgerton has a subdued hangdog quality that makes him a nice straight man for the flamboyant Ejiofor ("Inside Man," "Dirty Pretty Things") who's previously been seen mostly in restrained roles but here struts his stuff with comic abandon.

Ejiofor also lends a strong voice to Lola's stage act, belting out such songs as "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" and "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'."

The supporting players feel underdeveloped and tacked on, led by Jemima Rooper as Charlie's overly ambitious girlfriend and Sarah-Jane Potts as his chief booster among the factory work force. Nick Frost (the beer-swilling roommate in "Shaun of the Dead") manages some comic highlights as a boorishly intolerant factory worker who forges an unlikely bond with Lola.

Earnest as the actors are, the filmmakers have not crafted the sort of brisk gait the movie needs. "Kinky Boots" stutter-steps its mild way to a bland conclusion you'll see coming from a long way off.</p>

*Review by David Germain, Associated Press

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I'll trade you...my red paperclip, for your house!

Hahaha, this is a cool idea! This guy is trying to trade a paper-clip for a house. Not directly. He traded his paper-clip for a pen, the pen for a door-knob, the door-knob for a barbecue and the barbecue for a small generator. Now he's looking to trade the generator for something else, and keep trading until he gets a house. Hehe, pretty cool.

The home of The Brave 
 Click above

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Humour

A lady opened her refrigerator and saw a rabbit sitting on one of the shelves. Wabbit in da fridge "What are you doing in there?" she asked. The rabbit replied, "This is a Westinghouse, isn't it?" The lady replied, " Yes." "Well," the rabbit said, "I'm westing."

*Thanks, Auntie 'M'

Hoppy Easter!

Hoppy Easter! Hoppy Easter! Hoppy Easter! Hoppy Easter! Hoppy Easter!
Hoppy Easter!

*Thanks, Auntie 'M'


Three blondes died and found themselves standing before St. Peter. He told them that before they could enter the Kingdom, they had to tell him what Easter represented. 

The first blonde said, "Easter is a holiday where they have a big feast and we give thanks and eat turkey." St. Peter said, "Nooooo," and he banished her to Hell. 

The second blonde said, "Easter is when we celebrate Jesus' birth and exchange gifts." St. Peter said, "Nooooo," and he banished her to Hell. 

The third blonde said she knew what Easter was and St. Peter said, "So, tell me." She said, "Easter is a Christian holiday that coincides with the Jewish festival of Passover. Jesus was having Passover feast with His disciples when He was betrayed by Judas, and the Romans arrested Him. The Romans hung Him on the cross and eventually He died. Then they buried Him in a tomb behind a very large boulder...." 

St. Peter said, "Verrrrrrry good." 

Then the blonde continued, "Now, every year the Jews roll away the boulder and Jesus comes out. If He sees his shadow, we have six more weeks of hockey." St. Peter fainted.

*Thanks, Andy

Saturday, April 15, 2006



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Don't give up too early! Explore the icons, programs, and more!

In-Debt Wacko Jacko Flogs Songs

Wacko-Jacko Michael Jackson is reported to be selling off half of his share in his valuable Beatles song catalogue to stave off huge debt problems. A statement issued from Jackson's representatives in Bahrain, where he now lives, said the singer had "restructured his finances". The deal involves more than £114m in loans secured by his stake in the Beatles' songs. The loans, which were due to be repaid in December 2005, are held by a New York private equity fund. The company stood to gain Jackson's 50% interest in the Beatles publishing rights, valued at some £285m, if he defaulted. The other half of the collection of more than 200 Beatles tunes is owned by Sony/ATV Music Publishing. Sources have said Jackson had agreed to provide Sony with an option to buy about 25% of the catalogue, or half of his stake. One said the singer also negotiated a lower interest rate on his debt. Jackson, 47, is deep in debt after years of extravagant spending, according to testimony at his trial on child molestation charges last year. He was acquitted on all charges last June after the trial that had threatened to destroy his career and send him to prison for nearly two decades.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Ten Dollar Bar Test...

A guy walks into a bar and notices a very large jar on the counter and sees it's filled to the brim with $10 bills...

The man guesses there must be thousands of dollars in it! He approaches the bartender and asks, "What's up with the jar?"

"Well... you pay ten dollars and IF you pass three tests...you get all the money!!!"

The man certainly isn't going to pass this up! "What are the three tests?"

"Pay FIRST..." says the bartender... "Those are the rules."

So the man gives him the $10 and the bartender drops it into the jar... "OK," the bartender says, "here's what you need to do...

FIRST: You have to drink that ENTIRE GALLON of tequila... the WHOLE thing, all at ONCE... and you CAN'T make a face while doing it...

SECOND: There's a pit bull chained-up out back with a sore tooth... You have to REMOVE the tooth with your BARE HANDS...

THIRD: There's a 90 year-old woman upstairs who has NEVER reached orgasm during intercourse... You've got to MAKE THINGS RIGHT for her."

The man is stunned... "I know I paid my 10 bucks... but I'm not an IDIOT! I WON'T DO IT!!! You have to be NUTS to drink a gallon of tequila, and then do those OTHER THINGS!!!"

"Your call," says the bartender, "but your MONEY stays where it is..."

The man has a few drinks... then a few more... Finally, he asks, "WHERRRRE'S ZAAAAT TEQUIIIIIILA ?!?!?!"

He grabs the gallon with both hands and downs it with a big slurp... Tears are streaming down both cheeks, but he doesn't make a face...

Next... he staggers out back where the pit bull is chained-up...

The people inside the bar hear a HUGE, NOISY SCUFFLE going on outside... They hear the pit bull barking... the guy screaming... the pit bull yelping ... and then....

Just when they think the man SURELY must be dead, he staggers back into the bar ... with his shirt ripped... and large, bloody scratches all over his body...

"NOW!!....." he says... "WHERE'S THE OLD WOMAN WITH THE SORE TOOTH ?!?!"

*Thanks, Pam

ABC Company Policy Changes

ABC Co. The following policy changes will go into effect immediately.

Dress Code:

It is advised that you come to work dressed according to your salary.

If we see you wearing Prada shoes and carrying a Gucci bag, we assume you are doing well financially and therefore do not need a raise.

If you dress poorly, you need to learn to manage your money better so that you may buy nicer clothes, and therefore you do not need a raise.

If you dress just right, you are right where you need to be and therefore you do not need raise.

Sick Days:
We will no longer accept a doctor's statement as proof of sickness. If you are able to go to the doctor, you are able to come to work.

Personal Days:
Each employee will receive 104 personal days a year. They are called Saturday & Sunday.

Toilet Use:
Entirely too much time is being spent in the toilet. There is now a strict three-minute time limit in the stalls. At the end of three minutes, an alarm will sound, the toilet paper roll will retract, the stall door will open, and a picture will be taken.

After your second offense, your picture will be posted on the company bulletin board under the "Chronic Offenders category."

Anyone caught smiling in the picture will be sanctioned under the company's mental health policy.

We are here to provide a positive employment experience. Therefore, all questions, comments, concerns, complaints, frustrations, irritations, aggravations, insinuations, allegations, accusations, contemplations, consternation or input should be directed elsewhere.

Thank you for your loyalty to ABC company.

*Thanks, Pam

Thursday, April 13, 2006

From The Emerald City

From The Emerald City

The Wizard is celebrating:



Thanks sooooo much to all my loyal 'OZ' readers and for all the wonderful comments that you have made. I can't believe that so many people out there in Munchkinland like what I have to say!

Here's to the next 100 G's!!!


The Wunnerfull Wizard of 'OZ' The Wizard

Off The Mark

Igloo Comtractors *Thanks, Rimsky!

MIT Fraternity Accused Of Robot Hazing

AMBLE5, top, and Bradbury, bottom, two of the pledgebots victimized in the latest on-campus incident of robo-hazing. CAMBRIDGE, MA—Several members of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology chapter of the Theta Tau fraternity are in campus-police custody today following a brutal hazing incident in which one robot remains missing and two others are in critical condition with extensive circuitry and servo-motor injuries, sources revealed Monday. The robots, experimental prototypes recently devised at MIT's prestigious Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, were participating in an apparent initiation exercise that police say involved butyl alcohol and compressed air. 

According to eyewitnesses, the three robots were ripped from their chargers at the Theta Tau chapter house at 3 a.m. Tuesday. One, a titanium-alloy hexapod approximately 13 inches in diameter, was reportedly forced to climb stairs built at a grade too steep for its small hinged legs, causing six of its pneumatic actuators to short out. A second robot, a biped from MIT's Leg Laboratory, was allegedly forced to replicate "the same humiliating hopping algorithm" 200,000 times, and is currently in critical condition in the laboratory's emergency-repair room. The third robot, a tread-driven 38-inch-tall rover, is feared drowned after being forced to consume over 40 terabytes of data and then swim across the Charles River with a burning candle stuck in its rear port. 

"We will thoroughly investigate this matter, and take strong disciplinary action," MIT Dean of Students Geraldine Knight said. "These robots are extremely artificially intelligent. They wouldn't willingly subject themselves to this sort of abuse without extreme levels of peer pressure or even downright reprogramming." MIT students discuss the robo-hazing incident at The Thirsty Scholar, a popular local hangout. Among those detained for questioning were Theta Tau chapter president David Kovis, treasurer Charles Leung, and fraternity members Lee Berger, Andy Ockridge, A. Muduthanapally, and Chen Kwan Tan. 

They could be charged with first-degree botslaughter and operating a motorized robot under the influence, charges that carry a maximum punishment of lifetime banishment from the MIT Media lab. 

This is not the first case of robot hazing on the campus. Last fall, during "Rush Week," a spider-legged unit was found struggling in a closet at MIT's School of Engineering, stripped of its outer casing, its motion sensors covered with duct tape. The perpetrators were never found. On another occasion, a robot was locked in a room and forced to calculate pi to the 1083 decimal place in what officials called one of the worst cases of binge-thinking they'd ever seen. 

This latest incident comes in the wake of a February episode in which an ambulating chatbot device created at Caltech was programmed to repeat the phrase "I am a faggot" while locomoting across campus. Robots have also reportedly been made to fight each other, often to total annihilation, in the basements of applied-science-based campus fraternal organizations during their respective "hell weeks." 

The Theta Tau fraternity house where the alleged systems abuse took place. A spokesman for the Theta Tau fraternity claimed that the "fun just got out of hand," and that the robot pledges were "100 percent cool with the initiation." "They showed us they were willing to do anything to be Theta Tau brothers. 

Loyalty, commitment, and conformity are what the Greek system is all about," the spokesman said. In protest, human-emotion-simulator robot Kismet, a respected member of the MIT community, announced that it will only display an expression of disapproval—refusing to smile, show fear, or raise a curious eyebrow—until those responsible receive appropriate punishment.

*The Onion