Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Katrina mayhem exaggerated and Amber Smith’s meth habit (or Don’t always believe what you hear at first)

Sep 27, 2005 in Uncategorized

It’s becoming clear that many of the tales of violence, rape and death that supposedly took place in New Orleans after Katrina was nothing more than exaggeration — rumors spread by a frightened and captive populace and reported as truth by government officials and the news media.

While it’s certain that people did suffer for far too long in NO, the worst of the stories we’ve heard are untrue or unsubstantiated. Piles of dead in the Superdome? They found six; three from natural causes, one suicide and one overdose. Rampant murders? Police so far have determined four homicides in the city. Rapes? None reported or substantiated. (That’s not to say that none took place, but the well-known story about the gang rape and slaying of a 10-year-old is very likely false). Even some widely-circulated reports of rude behavior by evacuees are unsubstantiated and contradicted by other accounts.

In another case of inaccurate assumptions comes the story of Amber Smith, the Atlanta woman who was held hostage by courthouse shooter Brian Nichols. Smith was praised by the media for diffusing the situation by discussing her faith with Nichols. She pulled out the book “A Purpose-Driven Life” and read to him a chapter from it.

The shocker? Smith reveals in her new book that at the time of her ordeal, she was struggling with a meth addiction, and had given her stash to Nichols. She even showed him a five-inch gash on her torso, which she suffered in a drug-related car accident. Luckily for Smith, the ordeal motivated her to kick her drug habit.

Dim mak, the “touch of death.” Kung fu hooey or lethal martial arts move?

Sep 11, 2004 in Uncategorized

The “death touch,” or dim mak, is a mysterious and fatal technique that has been used in numerous martial arts films. The idea is that a strong blow to a critical spot on the body can be fatal within minutes. In the films, the recipient of the death touch walks around normally, only to suddenly collapse moments later.

Most recently, this concept has been utilized in Kill Bill 2 as the “five-point palm exploding heart technique,” and the dim mak has been theorized to be the cause of Bruce Lee’s death.

After seeing this dubious concept in several films, I set out to find any information I could on the validity of it. So the question is, is it possible to strike a fatal blow that will kill a target minutes later? Like much of what is portrayed in kung fu films, the dim mak technique is greatly exaggerated and fictionalized. But theoretically, it appears quite possible.

In the Chinese arts of acupuncture and acupressure, “pressure points” on the body are manipulated to produce healing effects. These pressure points correspond to various nerves in the body. The same pressure points, if struck forcefully, can cause great pain or even temporary incapacitation. (Writer Lori Ann White explores the connection between acupressure and dim mak in this article.) In fact, a form of Japanese karate called kyusho-jitsu is concerned solely with using pressure points to easily incapacitate an opponent.

There are examples in the medical literature of people who died shortly after receiving an apparently mild injury to a critical pressure point on the body. Cecil Adams of the Straight Dope recently answered a question on dim mak, and notes several cases in medical journals which confirm this.

But whether it is possible in actual practice to kill someone with dim mak techniques is still a mystery. Likely it would take years of training to become proficient at it. Techniques such as dim mak have been shrouded in mystery and disbelief due to the systematic withholding of advanced and lethal martial arts knowledge, especially from Westerners. Critical blows and techniques were stripped from the martial arts that are popularly taught today, for obvious reasons. Many martial arts techniques and styles have been lost over the years, and certain techniques, such as dim mak, have only recently been rediscovered.

More fodder for the fire: “Stairway to Heaven” reversed, pt. 3

Jun 26, 2004 in Uncategorized

Found on the 365 Days Music Project, a collection of oddball recordings and outsider music: ’80s Christian radio host Michael Mills illustrates the backward “Satanic messages” in the music of Led Zeppelin (yep), Kiss, the Beatles and Queen (the “it’s fun to smoke marijuana” message).

Ubu.com has a fascinating collection of outsider music mp3’s, featuring the above mentioned 365 Days Music Project.

Blogger RSS feeds

Feb 10, 2004 in Uncategorized

Another piece of useful blog-related info from yours truly. Blogger just started offering Atom feeds for their blogs (at least for Blogspot, I don’t know about hosted blogs). If you use a newsreader to read RSS feeds, you can now subscribe to Blogspot blogs.

The first thing to try is just use your newsreader subscription bookmarklet to see if it finds the feed automatically. In the root directory of the blog should be an atom.xml file. If it doesn’t find it automatically, try appending “atom.xml” to the URL of the blog to get the RSS feed.

Full-frontal nudity now!

Feb 05, 2004 in Uncategorized

“Boobgate” (washingtonpost.com)

Dear media,

We are getting tired of hearing about the partial exposure of a certain performer’s breast during a musical performance at a recent major sporting event. You know who we’re talking about: the sister of another well-known performer who is currently facing charges for child molestation, who was performing with the ex-lead vocalist of a boy band who is not the Backstreet Boys.

I’m not even going to mention their names, because I refuse to contribute anymore to the critical mass that this event has generated. Isn’t it odd how we as Americans are simultaneously attracted to and repelled by the sight of a woman’s breasts? On one hand, it was the most replayed Tivo moment in history, as well as the new all-time top search term. On the other hand, we’ll be lucky if we even get to see cleavage again on network TV anytime soon. Even nude male butts on cop shows are now verboten.

And it probably isn’t worth mentioning that CBS thought it inappropriate to air an anti-Bush ad, yet found it quite alright to air crotch-grabbing, bodice ripping performers during halftime. And has anyone else noticed that no one has really been talking about the game itself?

It’s monsoon season

Feb 05, 2004 in Uncategorized

…if you’re in the Eastern half of the country. Here in Tennesee, it’s rained for about ten hours straight, and flood warnings are posted. Every ditch, puddle and patch of flat land is swamped. Up north, in my old stomping grounds of Ohio and Pennsylvania, they’re expecting rain, ice and snow. Back home, there’s already a foot on the ground and more expected by tomorrow.

Of course, it just so happens that a drenching has to come on the day of the first science test of the semester. (This happened last semester, as I walked through a drenching downpour at 8am to take the first biology test of the term).

Rainbow floral arrangements now on sale in Mass.

Feb 05, 2004 in Uncategorized

In 2000, Vermont passed a law allowing “civil unions.” California just passed a law allowing the same in 2005. Ohio is the latest state to ban same-sex unions, and the Bushies are considering a constitutional amendment against it. Now, the Massachusetts high court has declared that nothing less than marriage will suffice for same-sex couples.

I have nothing personal to gain from same-sex marriage, nor do I have many gay friends, but since the issue has been in the news so much, I’ve gotten to thinking about it (Despite the serious problems we have in our country right now, some politicians seemingly have nothing better to do than attempt to ban gay marriage.)

Many people are opposed to gay marriage on religious grounds, or simply on their own personal prejudices that condemn gays as sick perverts. They claim that allowing gays to marry would somehow ruin the institution of marriage. Oh, please. Like heterosexuals have done such a magnificent job of maintaining the instutution of marriage (Britney and her 55-hour marriage being an excellent example).

Despite the fact that the divorce rate for new marriages is over 50%, despite the fact that couples are deciding to cohabitate for lengthy periods of time and even having kids, despite the fact that most people now marry several times, and despite the fact that most people’s parents have divorced (or they were raised by a single parent), people are still getting married. They’re still getting married and having families. Marriage is not going anywhere folks. The fact that a man can marry a man won’t change hetero attitudes towards marriage one bit.

Not to mention the fact that this is America. Although it’s easy to forget the fact in these times, we live in a country where equal treatment and opportunity for all citizens is practically an inalienable right.

There was once a time not too long ago where interracial marriages were prohibited by law. That law was finally ruled unconstitutional in 1967. There was also a time when blacks and women were not entitled to the same rights as whites and men. We take it for granted that racism and sexism are inherently wrong, not to mention illegal. But we still feel that it’s ok to discriminate against someone because of whom they choose to have an intimate relationship with (sexual or otherwise).

As much as some people may not like it, times change. Mores and standards change. Things that were considered immoral and wrong forty years ago are now commonplace (co-habitiation, interracial marriage, single parenthood, second and third marriages, etc.)

Anyone who has even a passing aquaintance with a homosexual knows that gays are basically harmless. Sure, their sexual preferences are definitely and conspicuously in the minority. They might do things in private that you care not to think about. They may have odd and annoying mannerisms, an excess or even absence of bodily hair, and a smugly superior sense of style. But anyone who has spent time in the proximity of a homosexual knows that they’re generally nice people, who just want to live their lives peacefully and have the same basic rights as anyone else. Is there anything so wrong with that?

Thinking about the music business

Feb 04, 2004 in Uncategorized

So I’m taking a class this semester called “Survey of the Recording Industry.” (I’m a recording industry major at Mid Tenn State) The mechanics of how the recording industry works has been a topic of interest to me for several years, and there are many fine books available on the subject.

Most people really don’t know what the major label record industry is like. If you thought the RIAA suing file sharers was nasty, read on…

Many people think that major label artists make lots of money, and for many aspiring musicians, getting a major label deal is a sign that they’ve made it. Fact is, the vast majority of major label bands fail, and never make it to their third album. Only a small percentage of albums sell enough for the artist to make money (although the record company makes hundreds of thousands in profits the whole while).

Sure, those bands that sell millions of albums and reach the top of the charts are making money (and usually from a variety of sources aside from record sales). But less than 5% of the thousands of albums released by the major labels ever reach these kind of sales figures. Many popular artists remain in debt to their record labels, even after a moderately successful album.

This oft-reprinted article from producer Steve Albini (Nirvana, dozens of indie bands) provides some figures to show exactly how it all works: major labels: the problem with music

And Courtney Love goes a little further in depth in this speech she made in 2000.

Yes, the RIAA is right. Money is being stolen from the artists. But the thieves aren’t the file sharers, it’s the labels themselves. Considering that they’ve been treating their artists this way for years, it’s no surprise that they’re treating their customers as badly.