Sunday, December 21, 2008

Translations of the Mass readings for children

This book looks like a good idea. It offers translations of the Mass readings in a language more accessible to kids (offering the adult version side-by-side for comparison), as well as ideas for discussion with parents and kids. [Not a paid ad, just a product that looked interesting.]

Putting "tips" in their proper place

What? You mean reading about doing things isn't as effective as actually doing it?!

For example, a tip on your golf swing may be very useful if you’re already playing three times a week and hitting a bucket of balls after work every day. But a subscription to a magazine about taekwondo will only be as useful as your decision to drag your fat a** into a dojo and start actually kicking people. Over and over. Otherwise, you’re just buying shiny paper every month.

Some bizarre and unnecessary opining about sex in the article, but otherwise it has some great points that are especially useful as New Year's Resolution season rolls around.

via Bearing Blog

The "Blue Christmas" Mass

A nice idea: a Mass for people who struggle with the holiday season:

"There are so many people who are lonely or grieving loss or bad family histories," Rice said. "For them, a holiday with all the expectations of merriment can be alienating." [...]

"There's a very clear and explicit welcome at the start that acknowledges there are people who struggle with the holidays," he said. "It's very low-key. We invite people to bring whatever they are struggling with." [...]

The evening's preaching takes on a different tone as well, he said. "The homily is directed more toward the core, theological meaning of the Incarnation, of God joining us in all of our struggles and our pain."

Friday, December 19, 2008

On God and Santa Claus

A great article from the Wall St. Journal:

As a parent, I believe (with the older apologists) that it's essential to preserve a small, inviolate space in the heart of a child, a space where he is free to believe impossibilities. [...]

This sheds light on a seeming paradox in St. Paul's letter to Roman Christians: "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made..." How does one see "invisible attributes"? Only people raised on fairy tales can make sense of that. It belongs in a terrain where magic glasses can illumine what was heretofore hidden, where rabbit holes open into wonderlands. No wonder some atheists like Mr. Dawkins want to kill Harry Potter.

Read the rest here. (NOTE: link has adult discussion of Santa Claus, so it might not be one to read with young children looking over your shoulder.)

Neat "cooking" animation

via Matteo

$700 Billion Bailout Celebrated With Lavish $800 Billion Executive Party

Amusing parody from The Onion.

via Matteo

Thursday, December 18, 2008

40 inspirational movie moments in two minutes

A fascinating interview with Peter Kreeft

This is a really excellent, short interview. An excerpt:

If you had to point to the biggest obstacle in society today facing Orthodox Christianity, what would it be?

Our own sins. They always have social consequences. We construct society, for good or ill, far more than it constructs us. It has no free will; we do. It is merely what we make; we are not merely what it makes. By "orthodox Christianity" I assume you mean the whole nine yards, the whole treatment.. That begins with faith, and truth, and teachings, but it ends with the works of love, with being saints. Only saints can save the world. And only our own sins can stop us from being saints.

Read the rest here.

10 Things Not to Say When Buying a Car

Some helpful tips.

"Can you raise moral and ethical children without God?"

An interesting answer from Dr. Laura, who was raised without religion:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Email genius?

I just came across this simple email philosophy, and am wondering: could this be the solution to my overflowing inbox? Hmmm.

via Simple Mom

How well do you recognize faces?

A cool test.

Rationality and the "Paranormal"

An excellent post about the misconception among some atheists that all religious belief is an attempt to explain how the world works. Darwin draws an important distinction when he writes:

I think part of the real difference here is that people have strongly different ideas about how unlikely it is to experience something that is non-material...The difference is not so much between people who look for "real explanations" for things and people who don't, but rather between people who discount all non-material explanations and those who don't.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How to drive yourself insane with Twitter

Keep me away from this product:

It happens. You’re having one of those days where everything that can go wrong does. You log in to Twitter and a 140-character rant turns into a small novel as you spill your guts on everything that went wrong that day.

The next thing you know, a chunk of your followers have seemingly dropped off the face of the Twitterverse, leaving you to wonder…

Was it something I said?

With Qwitter, you can find out exactly what that “something” was. Qwitter tells you when you’ve been un-followed and what your most recent tweet was when it happened.

I admire anyone who could use that and not get completely neurotic about it.

via Suzanne Sadler (Twitter)

10 great first novels

An interesting list of excellent novels that were the first ones the authors wrote.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The smells of the season

An easy, cheap way to keep your house smelling like Christmas without using artificial air fresheners.

Advent: The Coming of Love

The Anchoress has one of the best posts about Advent I've ever read:

Speaking for myself, without the Advent season, I might not manage to set aside a few minutes each day to reflect on the tangled trails I have traveled in the passing year, and to realize just how far into wilderness I have strayed. Especially in an election year, it seems, one can wander pretty deeply into the weeds, and the world, beautiful as it is, is also full of abyssmal holes, and tricky nettles and the thickets, which make us feel entrapped, even if we are not.

Advent coaxes us out. We look up and there is a darker sky than before. The stars show more clearly, and they inspire us to hack through the stuff that has begun to imprison us within the year so that we may walk a freer path, made clear.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A comparison of digital camera lag times

This is a very helpful chart for parents in the market for a digital camera. So many digital cameras have a "lag time" between when you press the button and when it actually takes the picture that means you miss tons of cute moments.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Best friends

Some cuteness to brighten your morning:

Abundance and simplicity

A great post about Christmas gift giving from a mom of seven:

How to create abundance out of simplicity? That is the magic I attempt to create each Christmas. Abundance, because Christmas is about the abundance of God's blessings: symbolized by the diversity and array of the ornaments on the Christmas tree. Simplicity, because we are an American family, and material goods of every description are constantly drawn to us as though by magnetism.

Read the rest here.

via Like Merchant Ships

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Seasons of parenthood

A great post about our tendency to compare ourselves to other moms (particularly in the blog world), and about understanding that parenthood has different seasons:

We log on and read that Mrs X knitted fifteen sweaters while homeschooling her seven year old in third year Latin, took all ten kids to the TL Mass, and got home in time to take her seven year old to Orchestra practice. And mom of three, with her dirty t-shirt, dirty diaper clad three year old (who is also her oldest), and mountain of laundry thinks that she is somehow failing. It's ridiculous. But what mom-of-three doesn't realize is that Mrs. X used to be her. But now, seven kids later, she has learned how to run a home efficiently, she has older kids to help, and has learned to relax. They are living in different world.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The speech accent archive

This is one of the most fascinating things I've seen in a while. You can hear speakers from all over the world recite the same paragraph.

via Rocks in my Dryer

A Christian response to the atheist ad campaign

A Christian group is raising money to run ads in response to the atheistic ad campaign in D.C.

"They killed their neighbors"

A fascinating article about people who have participated in genocide. (Warning: descriptions of graphic violence.) I found this part particularly interesting:

The propaganda machine portrays the victim group as less than human. In Rwanda, the Hutus called their Tutsi neighbors 'cockroaches.' In Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge said their victims were "worms." To the Nazis, Jews were "vermin."

Dehumanization is the most powerful psychological tool used in all mass murder and genocides, Zimbardo said. "Dehumanization blurs your vision. You look at these people and you do not see them as human."

Instead, the enemy is treated as a germ -- as something to eradicate, or else face the threat of infection.

"Purification is at the heart of genocide," said Harvard's Lifton. "In that purification ... [the killers] are healing."

Recently discovered photos show Nazi officers at a retreat near Auschwitz relaxing as though they are taking a break from a routine job, not an extermination factory. "In order to carry out the function of killing, one must instill in that environment a sense of ordinariness," said Lifton.

At least nothing like that goes on here in modern America...or does it?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Praising kids too much might backfire

An interesting article:

A growing body of research is finding that praise based on talent and intelligence -- as opposed to effort -- not only doesn't help kids achieve success, it actually backfires.

Children who are praised as smart, special and talented stumble at school when faced with challenges that don't immediately reinforce the mantras they hear at home. They're also more likely to avoid tasks at which they may fail than children who are praised instead for their hard work.

Read the rest here. It reminds me of this must-read article about telling kids they're smart from a while back.

A cow herding pig!

Great story:

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Fonzie jumps the shark

Ever heard the phrase "jumping the shark"? Here's the actual Happy Days clip that started it all (the actual shark jumping is around 8:00 min):

Tons of sandwich recipes


Monday, December 1, 2008

Faith, the amazing two-legged dog

The Connection between Contraception and Abortion

A fascinating article. An excerpt:

It should be no surprise that countries that are permeated by contraceptive sex, fight harder for access to abortion than they do to ensure that all babies can survive both in the womb and out. It is foolish for pro-lifers to think that they can avoid the issues of contraception and sexual irresponsibility and be successful in the fight against abortion. For, as the Supreme Court stated, abortion is "necessary" for those whose intimate relationships are based upon contraceptive sex.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

34 Great Gifts You Can Make Yourself

Great list!

via Rocks in my Dryer

A thought for the harvest season

An interesting post from DarwinCatholic about how removed we've become from seasonal cycles:

In a modern supermarket, all produce is available year round, fresh and ready to eat. Nor is there any real doubt that food will always be there. If you don't have food, the feeling goes, it is because someone is denying you your rights.

In a society in which people are closely dependent on the local harvest, there was real and immediate reason to be thankful once the harvest was safely gathered and stored. Plenty was worth celebrating and being truly grateful for, because there was the ever present possibility that a bad harvest would result in widespread hunger.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone has a wonderful day today.

(And happy Thursday to readers outside the U.S.)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Stone Soup

A wonderful post about what one family did when they found themselves broke with no food, and the symbolism it has for the Christian life.

Precious Gavin

A touching poem that a young woman wrote for her baby nephew who recently passed away. Really beautiful.

via MrsL (Twitter)

LIFE photos now available online

What a great project: "Search millions of photographs from the LIFE photo archive, stretching from the 1750s to today. Most were never published and are now available for the first time through the joint work of LIFE and Google."

via Rocks in My Dryer

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How to bring reform to your church

Rich Leonardi has 11 great tips for keeping your sanity and bringing about needed changes if you find yourself in a church that is less than orthodox.

via DarwinCatholic

A mom of 12 gets honest about obesity, weight loss and gluttony

How did I miss Barbara Curtis' series of posts about her 90+ pound weight loss? I'm just now catching up and find them to be a wonderful breath of fresh air. Here's an excerpt from one of her posts in which she talks about the difficulty of being a mom of a busy household and having a slower metabolism than other people:

I've learned to let go of any entitlement mentality. If other people don't have to struggle with their weight and I do, so what? Other people struggle with other issues that I don't have to. My job calls for handling a lot of food even though I can't eat a lot myself right now. A bank teller has to handle money all day and not keep any even if she's broke.

I also found the inspiration she drew from her Down Syndrome children to be inspiring. Some particularly good posts: Diet Update; More Diet Discussion; and When Your Spouse is Overweight. Some excellent food for thought (hah!) for anyone interested in the subject of weight loss, particularly from a Christian perspective.

Children are dangerous

Randy Bohlender writes in a thought-provoking blog post, "Satan does not rage against children because they're vulnerable. He rages against them because they are dangerous."

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Amazing images of the microscopic

Wow! It's amazing to see the level of intricate detail that exists even in the most minuscule objects.

A funny cat video with a funnier comment

I loved this video of a cat playing with a box, but Jamie's comment about it in this post had me laughing out loud. She writes:

This video of a cat reminded me of something I put myself through every year when I get the winter clothes out of storage, and am inexplicably seized by the hope that maybe I will suddenly — and for no apparent reason — be able to fit back into my skinny jeans, so why not try them on? At the close of the video, Em summed it up neatly with the same interjection I always end up using: “Stuck!”

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Cool performance art

...using Google street view.

This is just wrong

I understand eating vegetarian, but getting a tofu "turkey" to carve crosses some sort of line. Check out this vegan "roast."

A list of weekly blog memes

This is a great list of blog memes (many of them Christianity-related). Scroll down to see the full list. I'd heard of Works for Me Wednesday and Menu Plan Monday, but not some of the others. So many neat memes out there!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Neat idea: a wheelchair for dolls

In some sort of target market analysis error my family received a copy of American Girl magazine. I flipped through it and was pleasantly surprised to see that you can order a wheelchair for your American Girl doll. Neat idea -- one that I'm sure will be especially appreciated by families who have a child or children with disabilities.

Soy foods make men less fertile?

Interesting study.

7 things you can't do as a moral relativist

Very thought-provoking! I ran into a lot of these when I was an atheist.

via Mary's Aggies

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Amazon editors' top 10 recipe books of 2008


A touching story of kindness and generosity

What a great story:

You want to see what it means to love one's neighbor? Marilyn Mock, who lives in the Dallas suburb of Rockwall, went to a foreclosure auction with her grown son last weekend to be with him as he purchased his first house. While there, she saw a woman sitting at the edge of the auction hall, sobbing. It was Tracy Orr, a housekeeper who was there to watch her humble house sold off to the highest bidder.

Marilyn couldn't stand it. She bought Tracy's house, sight unseen, and told her to move back home. Now Tracy will be paying her mortgage to Marilyn, not to the bank. If you go to the story, be sure to watch the video report from the scene. Tracy, through tears, says nobody's ever done anything like that for her before. And Marilyn is not a wealthy woman, it seems from the story.

via John C. Wright

The cycle of democracy

A thought-provoking quote emailed to me by a reader:

From Alexander Tyler, a history professor at the University of Edinburgh. Written in 1787:

A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy...which is always followed by a dictatorship.

The average age of the worlds greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

1. From bondage to spiritual faith;
2. From spiritual faith to great courage;
3. From courage to liberty;
4. From liberty to abundance;
5. From abundance to complacency;
6. From complacency to apathy;
7. From apathy to dependence;
8. From dependence back into bondage

UPDATE: See Catherine's comment below for a question about the accuracy of this quote. Thanks, Catherine!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Infertility and abortion

Wow! A powerful post from Aimee Milburn:

In all the arguments about abortion, one thing gets lost: the argument for love. The argument for tenderness. The argument for cultivating our own human natures in such a way that we become loving, tender, giving, careful with others, careful with ourselves.

Read the rest here.

From career-obsessed newspaperman to stay-at-home dad

This is a beautiful, touching story. An excerpt:

[I told my future wife] that although our future together was very important, I couldn't be happy unless I was succeeding in my career. You see, I said, to succeed at anything you need to have one thing as your goal. Whatever your goal is, everything else should be built towards achieving that goal.

When I look back, I don't even know the guy saying those things. But it was one of those moments that I didn't realize at the time was a big moment...She wiped her eyes and said she would've hoped that I could be happy with her and our future children in our imaginary house no matter what kind of work I did.

And that's when I said it: "I can't be happy unless I'm writing for big newspapers or magazines. I need to succeed. That's just me. It's the way I'm built. You have to accept that."

Read what happened next here. Great, great post.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

We were made for eternity

Some interesting thoughts on our discomfort with time:

We live in time as we live in the air we breathe. We love good fresh air, but we do not love “time.” We may love the existing moment because of what it offers, but time itself spoils our greatest moments. Nothing can quite come up to expectation because of it. It is strange that this seems to be true of humans alone. Animals, so far as we can tell, are unaware of time. They are untroubled. Time is their natural environment. Why do we sense it is not ours?

Read the rest here.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Creative, space-efficient toy storage

Great idea!

via Unclutterer

"How we paid off our mortgage on a $29,000/yr salary"

A fascinating essay about how a family of six lives completely debt free and even manages to tithe and give to the poor on a less than $30K salary.

via Sandy

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

How much of your mortgage is going toward clutter storage?

A great perspective on clutter.

This crane operator obviously has NO fear of heights

I feel a little queasy even looking at this picture of the new skyscraper in Dubai. Notice the crane balanced up at the top. [Updated to add: look to the right to see the construction elevator on the outside. I hope they pay those guys well.]

Some thoughts on one issue voting

This pastor's post one of the most strongly-worded posts I've seen on this issue. It has a lot of great points. An excerpt:

So, is the candidate’s stand on the issue of shedding innocent blood important enough to disqualify him as a candidate? Yes. While a single issue can’t qualify a candidate, it can disqualify him...I don’t think someone is a good candidate just because he is prolife. But he cannot be a good candidate unless he is prolife.

Read the rest here.

via Amy's Humble Musings

An interview with a mom of 20

A mother of 20 children talks about life and love in a huuuuge family.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Free gourmet chocolate? What? Can this be real?

Check it out.

via Amy's Humble Musings

"We live in exponential times"

This is a fascinating video about how quickly the world is changing. It's full of great stats, like the fact that if MySpace were a country it would be the 5th largest in the world. (A little bit of background about it here).

That link takes you to directly to a video that takes a minute to start playing, but it's worth the effort to see it. Sorry, I couldn't find a YouTube version to embed.

Is this legal?

Bacon apple pie.

via Faith & Family Live

"We'd rather stay home."

Kim writes one of the best blog posts I've read in a while, in which she talks about an exchanged with a grocery store checker who couldn't believe she actually liked the idea of having 10 kids.

via Joyful Chaos

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

When smart nerds pull pranks

A history of MIT pranks. Very clever. Very nerdy. (Think: turning the dome into R2D2 and turning a statue of John Harvard into a Halo 3 character.)

via Geekpress

People who grew up with black and white TVs more likely to dream in black and white


via Geekpress

A list of companies that donate to Planned Parenthood

Wow. Scroll down to the bottom of the post for the list. It looks like it might have been shorter to just list the companies that don't give money to PP.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The story of a dictionary

An interesting article about Noah Webster and his passion for creating a dictionary (scroll down for the article):

Webster had no help with his dictionary, and ultimately defined more than 70,000 words. In order to understand the roots from which words blossomed, he acquired a working knowledge of at least 20 languages, including Sanskrit...Ferreting out 20,000 more words for inclusion in his masterwork was a daunting task. Webster’s passion for investigating the origins of words slowed the process even more.

Webster was a born-again Christian who often displayed his deep religious convictions not on his sleeve, but in his definitions of words. For example, in showing how the word "fear" might be used in a sentence, he wrote, "We have reason to fear the punishment of our sins."

Read the rest here.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Printer problems

I got an email with this video attached and the following forwarded message:

Dear Geek Squad,

I recently purchased an HP Printer, and when I am in the room watching it, it works perfectly. However, nearly every time I leave it unattended, the papers come out wrinkled, sometimes even shredded, with blurred ink. If I re-start the print job and baby sit it, there are no problems. You can imagine that this has been very frustrating, and I would appreciate one of your technicians coming out to fix whatever the problem is.

Thank you,

A picture of Martha Stewart's office

Not what you'd expect.

via Twitter

Friday, October 17, 2008

Patients of abortion providers get almost half price discount at Clarion Inn

No word on discounts for pregnant women in need who keep their babies:

An abortion clinic that performs abortions up to the sixth month of pregnancy has worked out an arrangement with two area hotels to provide substantially discounted room rates for women seeking abortions. [...]

Right to Life has confirmed that the Clarion Hotel in Cherry Hill offers a reduced rate of $59 for a room originally priced at $109 to those women who provide a receipt from the clinic that says they have to stay overnight.

Emphasis mine.

What an incredibly touching story

Nathan of Confessions of a Cystic Fibrosis husband did a post recapping his family's story. Wow.

CNN analyst caught checking Facebook profile on-air

This would be me.

via Twitter


Religious advice for Muslims via telephone.

via Twitter

Who are the most popular people in Twitter?

A list of the top 100 Twitterers.

Amazing, money-saving battery hack

Now this is cool:

12 Volt Battery Hack! You'll Be Surprised... - video powered by Metacafe

via Making Home

Beautiful pictures of small stuff

Sorry I couldn't think of a better title, but the pictures are lovely.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The haiku generator

Click New Haiku to generate more. (As they say in the About page, this is not necessarily a good haiku generator.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

10 tips for creating secure passwords


One I didn't see listed but is excellent in terms of security and memorability is: combine the letters of two names. So, for example, if your husband's name is Paul and your son's name is Henry, you could do use the cryptic but easy-to-remember hpeanurly as a password (hpeanurly). [Obviously, you might want to choose names harder to guess than that, but you get the idea.]

Flying cars!

Here's a video. Here's the story.

via Grapevine

Aversion to TV is common ground for the very liberal and the very conservative

An article about life without television.

via Making Home

Iranian actress causes uproar by appearing at Hollywood premier without headcovering

An interesting article about the heated mixed opinions in Iran about this actress appearing in the U.S. without hijab.

via Those Headcoverings

Teenager with Down Syndrome elected prom queen

What a beautiful story:
Kristin Pass, an 18-year-old senior with Down syndrome, became Aledo High School's homecoming queen Friday to a joyous standing ovation and the flutter of a thousand tissues on a remarkable night for an amazing young woman. [...]

"It's just something you can't even imagine," [her mother] said. "And afterward, everyone was just running down to her, congratulating her.
Read the rest here.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Depression-era cooking tips

What a great little cooking show! Very useful considering the current state of the economy. See more videos on this subject here.

via Morning Coffee and Veiled Glory

Turning The Other Cheek?: A Real-Life Dilemma

Elizabeth Esther shares a recent experience where her son was bullied, and asks readers how she should handle both the bullying and the frustrating response from administrators at his school. Both the post and the comments have a lot of food for thought.

A revolutionary way to avoid debt

Amusing skit from Saturday Night Live.


Waiting for the promised land...patiently

Rachelle Gardner has an excellent post about when we feel called by God to do something, yet it seems our efforts are not paying off. (Though this post is targeted at writers, I think her words are true for anyone in that situation.)

The story of The Shack

The story of the surprise hit Christian novel The Shack. After being rejected by both Christian and secular publishers alike, the author and a pastor friend self-published it, spent $300 in marketing and started selling copies of of their garages. It caught on like wildfire and has now sold an estimated million copies!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Democracy unmoored from Christianity

Matteo has a powerful excerpt from Mark Shea about what happens when American democracy loses its Christian roots:

[Democracy] is not sacred and it's not eternal. It works just so long as you have a Christian or post-Christian culture that still holds by custom and convention what it no longer holds by creed: namely, things like the doctrine of original sin, natural law and the fear of God. As long as a culture has such things, even in lingering form, democracy functions as a restraining valve on original sin by keeping power from being concentrated in the hands of too few.

It's a thought-provoking post. Read the rest here.

From childless by choice to open to life

A touching post by Karen Edmisten.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Spanx vs. cheaper alternatives: a comparison

Extremely important and fascinating information for some of us. (For those of you who don't know, "Spanx" are body-shaping undergarments.)

Big family needs new car, buys stretch limo

I just re-discovered this post from last year and had to link to it: blogger Suzanne of Raising Saints posted a picture of the used stretch limo that she and her husband bought to haul their family of eight around. How cool is that?

New database of Catholic Saints

Wow, quite an accomplishment! Click on "view" to see details about each one. More info here.

via Mary's Aggies

AmEx rates credit risk by where you live, shop

I'm not sure what I think of this, but it's interesting that they've found it to be effective in predicting credit risks.

The people airbag

A Japanese invention to help elderly people prevent injuries if they fall:

via Presurfer

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A guide to proper use of the word "y'all"

Important information.

10 Commandments for Christian Bloggers

If only we all followed these all (or even most) of the time!

via a comment at CBA Ramblings

Can a computer convince people it's human?

We'll see:

Next Sunday, six computer programs will answer questions posed by human volunteers at the University of Reading in a bid to become the first recognised "thinking" machine. If any program succeeds, it is likely to be hailed as the most significant breakthrough in artificial intelligence since the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue beat world chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997. It could also raise profound questions about whether a computer has the potential to be "conscious" - and if humans should have the 'right' to switch it off. [...]

The test will be carried out by human "interrogators", each sitting at a computer with a split screen: one half will be operated by an unseen human, the other by a program. The interrogators will then begin separate, simultaneous text-based conversations with both of them on any subjects they choose. After five minutes they will be asked to judge which is which. If they get it wrong, or are not sure, the program will have fooled them.

via Presurfer

Structure and anxiety

An interesting excerpt from a book about anxiety:

Structured living is often lost when anxiety hits because your feelings of panic are so overwhelming...This feeling-based reaction to life is terribly harmful. It leads to instability and to being able to count on nothing, not your feelings, not your actions, not your schedule. Everything in your life is chaotic. All people, but especially people with anxiety problems, need structure to their living. The chaos that is caused by impulsive, feeling-driven planning undermines all structure and exacerbates the feeling of being out of control that characterizes anxiety disorders.

There's more here.

9 weird ingredients in your toiletries bag


via Presurfer

The quietest place on earth

A glimpse inside the quietest place on earth. If the Guinness Book of World Records ever does a Noisiest Place on Earth, I'm entering my living room.

via Presurfer

Monday, October 6, 2008

Amazing Etch a Sketch art

These are amazing, and can be yours for only a few thousand dollars!

via Grapevine

Deep fried Twinkies?!

I think I gained a few pounds by just watching this.

Here's the recipe (please click on that link only out of morbid curiosity, not out of any kind of intention to actually try it).

A note for Bloglines users

A little public service announcement: it seems that Bloglines has stopped updating most of the feeds of Blogger blogs that have custom domains, as well as a few others. This blog's feed seems to be working OK, so I thought I'd mention it for any Bloglines users -- if it doesn't seem like some of your favorite bloggers are updating, you may want to click through to their sites to check.

(Some of my favorites that have been affected by this are Rocks in my Dryer, Betty Beguiles, Creative Minority Report, Holy Experience, Leave the Lights On, Testosterhome and Toddler Dredge...oh, and my other site.) Just FYI!

A timeline of wars throughout history

An amazing collection of information.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

An atheist's thoughts on meaning

Dr. Bob has this extremely thought-provoking excerpt from an atheist:

In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of God or spiritual-type thing to that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things -- if they are where you tap real meaning in life -- then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough...Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you....Worship power -- you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart -- you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. And so on. [...]

It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in the head. And the truth is that most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger.

By writer David Foster Wallace, who committed suicide in September.

The richest and poorest cities in America


Length of a minute based on time of day

This is so true.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

How to make a flashy wardrobe modest

Some helpful tips for those of us with some pieces in our wardrobes from, umm, a different phase of life.

A drawing about height


via Geekpress

Red wine protects you from radiation

More reasons to drink wine.

via Geekpress

A college student tries to make sense of casual sex

I hesitated to post this op-ed in the Smith College paper because of some graphic comments, but it's worth reading to see just how lost this generation is. (WARNING: skip it if you don't want to read a few graphic references of sexual nature).

Print your own coloring books

This is a great site with drawings to print and color of pretty much every variety. There's also an online coloring page where kids can color online.

via Presurfer

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bailout humor

Wealth without consequences

Interesting thoughts from Erin Manning:

In many ways, this crisis reminds me of another crisis of morality, the crisis many refer to as that which was brought about by a "sex without consequences" mentality which underpinned the so-called sexual revolution. [...]

And so it is with the financial crisis: the quick gratification of instant wealth was a siren whose song couldn't be ignored, and the allure of "wealth without consequences" became a powerful temptation to far too many people. But there are always consequences to our bad actions. It may be that the innocent will suffer more than the guilty, or that the consequences will be delayed by as much as a whole generation--yet sooner or later, the bill for sin will come due, and will cost far more than we ever gained from our sinful actions.

Read the rest here.

A writer's life

Pretty accurate, from my experience.

via Seek First His Kingdom

"Do I automatically have a copyright on all my blog posts?"

Some good answers here.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Can you spot the copperhead snake?

Scroll down for the two pictures. Yikes!

A tour of a refugee camp

Some humbling pictures from a family's tour of a simulated refugee camp.

Lost Mozart score found in France

Exciting news.

via Grapevine

Workaholics can be guilty of sloth too

What an interesting thought:

Sloth is a sin against God, and not against the time clock or productivity. The fact is that it’s possible to work too much, in a way that's not in keeping with our dignity and ultimate good. The essence of sloth is a failure to fulfill one's basic duties. Surely one such duty is the human vocation to work. Yet another such duty is the enjoyment of leisure, to take time for worship. The gentleman lying on the sofa may be a more popular image of sloth, but the workaholic, who's on the job 24-7 and in the process neglects God and family, is the more typical manifestation of sloth in our culture.

Read the rest here.

Your McDonald's hamburger might be loaded with preservatives and fillers if...

You've kept one since 1996 and it has not decayed at all. Wow. Don't miss that third picture.

via Grapevine

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A horrifying thank-you note story

This is supposed to be a post with tips about writing thank-you notes, but I got stuck on this part:

I watched as my brand new husband ripped the wrapping paper off a gift from his friends. The box showed a picture of ugly candles. Ugh. I didn't want those in our new home, but I also didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. When I penned the thank-you note, I gushed over how wonderful the candles were and we really enjoyed them. A few weeks later, a letter arrived. It said, "We're glad you like the box we used to wrap your gifts, but you should probably open it." With dread in our stomachs, my husband pulled the box down from a shelf in the basement and I watched in disbelief as he pulled out many smaller gifts including the bread basket I had hoped to receive, some tools, and other various fun gifts.

Totally something that would happen to me.

via Rocks in My Dryer

The most simple weather site in the world

Enter your zip code and get a yes or no answer to whether or not you need to take an umbrella when you go out today.

via Rocks in My Dryer

Converting shipping containers into houses

Interesting idea.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Shocking reality TV revelation!

I cannot tell you the amount of drama and exasperation that this post saved me (and my poor husband): blogger Y of Joy Unexpected, who has the home makeover show Trading Spaces filming on her street, reveals that the carpenter has a lot of help -- like a crew of three or four other guys -- to complete his elaborate carpentry projects.

This is VERY relevant information for me. Inspired by those shows, I was trying to convince my husband that we should undertake grand home makeover projects in which we, say, build an entire home entertainment center complete with sliding cabinets and nesting drawers in a weekend. "C'mon, how hard could it be?" I would say. "I saw that dude on Trading Spaces do it all by himself in like a day!" Oh, the naivete.

10 Stylish Ways for Displaying Kids' Art

Some good ideas.

Common pitfalls in fiction writing

Literary agent Rachelle Gardner shares some of the common errors she sees fiction writers make that turn her off as an agent.

Test your color IQ

How well do you know your hues?

via Geekpress

Monday, September 22, 2008

Thoughts from the desert (to those who may be there soon)

Abigail has a thoughtful post, as she imagines what it might be like for high-flying Wall Street folks who were hit hard by the recent downturn. As someone who has been in the throes of financial struggle for a long time, she writes:

Jesus has yanked all of us into the wilderness. Jesus has stripped away the illusion of financial security. It’s scary at first. You look around and only see 'lack'-- a lack of food, a lack of water and a lack of shelter.

Yet I’ve been hanging out in the desert of financial uncertainty for a while. Let me show you around.

It’s harsh here, but beautiful. Here’s a place to test an inner strength you never knew you had. The friends who see you in your humility, the ones who lend you diapers when your babies run out, or who whip up baked lasagna when their own husbands are unemployed, or who join their hearts in prayer when you just can take the collection calls anymore, those are the dear, dear friends. You can't make a single friend like that on a singles cruise in the Aegean Sea.

It is harsh here in the desert. Yet it is still. It is the perfect place to hear the soft, tender words of God.

Read the rest here.

Look Who's Irrational Now

An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal that points out that belief in God tends to make people less superstitious. Great quote from Chesterton at the end: "It's the first effect of not believing in God that you lose your common sense, and can't see things as they are."

via Thinking Christian

A great resource for helping friends in need

I just used Care Calendar to help schedule meals for a friend who just had a baby, and I'm very impressed. You can block out the dates where care is needed, and people can individually log in to note the days and times they'll be helping (meals, doing laundry, yard work, etc.) It's a great way to support families who just had babies, have a member recovering from surgery, are facing serious illness, lost a loved one, etc. Scroll down on the main page of their website to learn more.

The Art and Beauty of Microfluidics

A beautiful slide show.

via Geekpress

10 tips for a great (and cheap) date night

I loved this list, particularly since it's geared for couples with young children and limited budgets.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sounding out

Danielle Bean has a nice article in which she analogizes the process of learning to read with the process of raising children. An excerpt:

I sometimes feel that my day-to-day life has a lot in common with the painful process of learning to read. It's easy for me to get lost in the tiny tasks that fill my days: Change this diaper. Fold these clothes. Chop these vegetables. Sweep this floor. Grade this math work. With my attention on these smaller tasks alone, though, I risk losing sight of the whole picture of my motherly vocation. All the little things a mother does in a day are necessary parts that make up a whole, just as learning letters and sounding out m-u-d was a necessary part of Stephen's first sentence.

Read the whole thing here.

What did the Neanderthals look like?

Using DNA from 43,000-year-old bones, National Geographic recreates the face of a Neanderthal woman (they think she had red hair!)

via Presurfer

A couple drove from Argentina to Alaska in a 1928 car

And wrote a book about it. (via Geekpress.) That's nothin'. This family is biking from Alaska to Argentina with their two kids. (Right now they're in Montana.)

The United States ranked according to economic freedom

Interesting chart. Here's more info.

via Geekpress

The Onion hacks Obama's Gmail account

Here's what they found. (Warning: some heavy profanity).

via Geekpress

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The lovely life of the Poor Clares

The Anchoress has a great post about the life of the order of nuns called the Poor Clares, who live in cloistered convents and have little contact with the outside world. Don't miss this biography of an accountant who became a Poor Clare -- you wouldn't guess from those early pictures that she'd end up being a cloistered nun! What a great story.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Playstands for creative play

I'd never heard of Waldorf Playstands, but these look great.

via the Wine Dark Sea

Doctor worries that Trig Palin will mean that fewer Down Syndrome babies are aborted

Dispatches from the culture of death:

A senior Canadian doctor is now expressing concerns that such a prominent public role model as the governor of Alaska and potential vice president of the United States completing a Down syndrome pregnancy may prompt other women to make the same decision against abortion because of that genetic abnormality. And thereby reduce the number of abortions.

Published reports in Canada say about 9 out of 10 women given a diagnosis of Down syndrome choose to terminate the pregnancy through abortion.

Dr. Andre Lalonde, executive vice president of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in Ottawa, worries that Palin’s now renowned decision may cause abortions in Canada to decline as other women there and elsewhere opt to follow suit.

via Cartago Delenda Est

Pictures of hurricanes from space


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The woman who smiled

A mom who takes young children to Mass writes about the power of a simple smile from a fellow parishioner. Anyone who has ever felt like their children weren't welcome at a church service will be able to relate.

Watered-down juice selling at the same price as regular juice

Here's a perfect example of why you should always approach "healthy" labeling on food products with a skeptical eye. Summer did a quick side-by-side comparison of regular Mott's apple juice with new Mott's Plus Light. What she found was that except for a few added vitamins, the Light product was just Mott's juice diluted by 50% with water—but selling for the same price as the 100% juice.

Dolphins creating bubble rings - amazing

The evolution of national flags


Stunning pictures of dew droplets

Some amazing closeup photography!

via Neatorama

The new Titanic

The pictures of this luxury cruise ship are unbelievable.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The truth about hot dogs

The point of this article is that hot dogs aren't quite as bad as some say...but after seeing that graphic of what parts of the pig are allowed in hot dogs (stomach? lips? windpipe??), I think I'll be skipping the Oscar Mayer section of the grocery store for a while.

10 Free Dates That Your Wife Will Love

A good list.

UPDATE: I just read #9 -- terrible, terrible idea. Clearly a man wrote this list. Or at least a man who is married to someone very unlike me. Other than that, it is a good list. ;)

via Simple Mom

Making Sunday a day of rest

Kelly has an inspiring quote about making Sunday a day of rest from Christian scholar Eugene Peterson:

DJ: What spiritual practice has most shaped your walk with God?

Eugene: Keeping a weekly Sabbath -- a day my wife and I define as "praying and laying." A day we don't do anything that has to be done.

When we realized that the command to keep a Sabbath is one of the most repeated in Scripture and yet the most ignored in our culture, we had to readjust radically the way we were living. No other decision has made as much difference to our lives across the board. It has impacted our marriage, children, church life, friendships, writing ... the works.

Sabbath-keeping shifted our attention from what we were doing for God to what God was doing for us. Our work became subsumed in His.

Read the rest of her post about the subject here.