Saturday, June 03, 2006

A tour du net, Saturday, June 3:

  • Pat Boone:

    I'm not referring to the dreaded avian flu, the one we've been reading about that's transmitted from bird to bird, and possibly to some humans or other creatures. No, I'm talking about another affliction. This one is a mental, emotional and verbal malady that seems to incubate most often in the young – particularly those who have already exhibited tendencies toward rebellion, rejection of authority, resentments of various types, grievances, self-righteousness, self-importance, self-indulgence and (of course) impatience.

    This fever is transmitted quickly among impressionable and poorly informed young people who generally are looking for quick "fixes" to problems and who have often not learned yet that valuable possessions – like freedom, for example – cost dearly. In a majority of cases, the newly affected ones have been given almost everything that's important to them with little or no expenditure of their own, and therefore they naturally assume that's to be expected all life through. Therefore, they haven't developed any kind of immunity to the Ditsy Chicks Bird Flu. In fact, they often welcome it!

    Just in case you're not aware of this contagious ailment, let me describe the three main telltale symptoms. The first is usually an onset of anger and frustration, often disguised as humanitarianism, which is actually present in many cases.

    Dude, freedom means you're free to rebel.

    Deal with it.

    Oh- and all possessions are fleeting.

  • Steven Seagal, who is evidently coming to Portland:

    (Portland Mercury): What can people expect from the Steven Seagal live show?

    Steven Seagal: As a Buddhist I don't really like to expect anything. We [of] the Buddhist path kind of consider that a recipe for disaster.

  • Noah Levine, punk Dharma guy, coming to some fancy Breitenbush place in Oregon June 2-8. From Willamette Week:

    Levine says the events are also different because he tries to stay outside the business-driven mentality that has seen the cost of alternative spirituality rise out of reach for many of those who most need it. New Age is a booming industry, with yoga classes averaging $15 at such Portland studios as Yoga in the Pearl and weekend retreat prices shooting up as well—a meditation program at Watsonville, Calif.'s popular destination ashram, Mount Madonna Center, costs $678 with the privilege of private sleeping quarters. "There are people charging exorbitant amounts for these spiritual teachings that should be accessible to everyone," says Levine. "The majority of the teaching I do is by donation, to take it out of that consumer exclusivity." Apparently that conscientious approach to inclusivity can't keep the price down all the time: Aspiring rebel Buddhhists will have to cough up anywhere between $65 and $115, not including the cost of room and board, to get enlightened at Breitenbush.

    The Portland Buddhist festival's free.

  • The Chrevolet Impala experiences the circle of life and death.

    The Impala "comes across as the best that the American companies can do," said Brian Moody, a road test editor at Edmunds. com, a Web site that offers buying advice to consumers. "In a vacuum, it's hard to find anything wrong with it. And then you drive the Camry and the Accord."

    The strength of those two cars is a reason Asian auto companies took a record 40 percent of the American market in May, when Detroit's market share fell to its second-lowest level in history, less than 53 percent...

    With more than two million Camrys on the road, the name "has become almost a household word," said Tom Libby, an industry analyst with J. D. Power & Associates.

    Yet, the Impala was an even bigger household name back when Toyota was barely a blip on the radar. Since 1958, the year after Toyota first sold cars here, Chevrolet has sold more than 14 million Impalas, making it one of the most recognizable cars in automotive history.

    But unlike Camry, which has been sold continuously in the United States since 1982, always aimed at the family market, G.M. stopped selling the Impala for two stretches in the 1980's and 1990's. From its roots as a fast, chrome-laden car with six taillights, the Impala grew in size, then shrank and, in the eyes of critics, became generic.

    Like many other G.M. models, it is sold to rental car companies, government agencies and corporations, markets where Toyota generally does much less business. The Impala is also a police car, bought by, among others, the New York Police Department. About 20 percent of the Impalas go to so-called fleet sales, down from almost half last year (about 10 percent of Camrys are sold to fleets).

    Chevrolet is trying to veer away from the bulk sales and sell more to consumers. One goal with the new Impala, said its marketing manager, Mark A. Clawson, is to put features on the car that Toyota does not offer.

  • The new asteroid crater found is quite cool:

    SCIENTISTS believe they have finally solved one of Earth's greatest mysteries: what caused the great extinction of life hundreds of millions of years ago.

    The answer was revealed yesterday when an American team announced it had discovered the world's biggest meteor crater almost two kilometres under the ice in Antarctica.

    They say a meteor almost 50 kilometres wide caused a 500-kilometre-wide crater deep under the Wilkes Land region of Antarctica, directly south of Australia.

    The massive explosion from the impact probably created the continent of Australia, forcing it to break away from the existing land mass.

    The incredible discovery caused huge excitement among Australian scientists last night. It could be the missing link in the geological formation of the continents. It would also answer why life on Earth was almost completely wiped out hundreds of millions of years ago.

    The meteor the size of Sydney struck 250 million years ago and must have been the biggest explosion ever seen on the planet, far bigger than the 10-kilometre-wide meteor which hit east of Mexico 65 million years ago, wiping out the dinosaurs.

    Ohio State University scientists who found the crater said the massive Antarctic crater could explain the global extinction in the Permian-Triassic period when all animal life on Earth died out, clearing the way for the dinosaurs.

    The massive impact probably broke up the ancient continent of Gondwanaland, pushing Australia out on its long drift north to its current position. The landmass that became India shot off first, while Africa and South America broke off later.

    "This Wilkes Land impact is much bigger than the impact that killed the dinosaurs, and probably would have caused catastrophic damage at the time," said Ralph von Frese, professor of geological sciences at Ohio State University.

    What will creationists say to that?

  • And last, but not least, Robert Fisk has some unsettling points about Iraq:

    I remember clearly the first suspicions I had that murder most foul might be taking place in our name in Iraq. I was in the Baghdad mortuary, counting corpses, when one of the city's senior medical officials, an old friend, told me of his fears. "Everyone brings bodies here," he said. "But when the Americans bring bodies in, we are instructed that under no circumstances are we ever to do post-mortems. We were given to understand that this had already been done. Sometimes we'd get a piece of paper like this one with a body." And here the man handed me a U.S. military document showing with the hand-drawn outline of a man's body and the words "trauma wounds."

    What kind of trauma is now being experienced in Iraq? Just who is doing the mass killing? Who is dumping so many bodies on garbage heaps? After Haditha, we are going to reshape our suspicions.

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