You've got mail! You've been e-Fired!

RadioShack terminates 400+ people via e-mail

What's going on here? RadioShack had announced earlier this month that they were going to trim some 400 to 450 jobs, so any news regarding this should have been expected. But what wasn't expected was the way they went about notifying the employees who were being terminated.

Employees who were effected by this round of layoffs at RadioShack's Fort Worth headquarters came to work Tuesday morning to find an e-mail message informing them that they were being terminated effective immediately.

According to , the e-mail contained the following information:

"The workforce reduction notification is currently in progress...unfortunately your position is one that has been eliminated."

A letter from the boss like this doesn't exactly make one's day.

Company officials had told employees in a series of meetings that layoff notices would be delivered electronically, spokeswoman Kay Jackson said. She said employees were invited to ask questions before Tuesday's notification on a company intranet site.

Workers who were terminated reportedly got severance of one to three weeks pay for each year of service, but management experts were surprised at RadioShack's use of electronic notification instead of the customary face-to-face meetings with supervisors.

One wag stated that this might be the new way they do things in Texas, but Frank McLaughlin, chairman of McSearch Personnel Consultants in Dallas, saw things differently. "Traditionally in Texas, people are dismissed in a face-to-face meeting," said McLaughlin. "It's not customary, not socially acceptable to some to do it over e-mail, but it's legal."

Derrick D'Souza, a management professor at the University of North Texas, said "If I put myself in their shoes, I'd say, 'Didn't they have a few minutes to tell me?'"

RadioShack spokeswoman Kay Jackson said the electronic notification was quicker and allowed more privacy than breaking the news in person. "It was important to notify people as quickly as possible," she said. "They had 30 minutes to collect their thoughts, make phone calls and say goodbye to employees before they went to meet with senior leaders."

Employees met with supervisors and human resources personnel before leaving. At coffee bar areas on each floor, the company provided boxes and plastic bags for employees to pack their personal belongings.

"Things went very smoothly. Everyone left very graciously and very professionally," Jackson said.

RadioShack is not the first company to let workers go in this way. Accounting firm Arthur Anderson laid off 7,000 employees in 2002 as a result of their "housekeeping" role in the Enron debacle. Many of their employees were told through e-mails to check their job status on their voicemails.

There have been comments on this type of firing, and some feel that it's indicative of the time in which we live. E-mail is how we communicate with our bosses, and how they communicate with us. We do business by e-mail, and some of us update our blogs via email messaging. One person admited that she had broken up with her boyfriend via e-mail.

Is this a new trend: the e-Dear-John letter?

It should be noted that shares of RadioShack (ticker: RSH) rose 10 cents, to $18.02 in trading Wednesday morning on the New York Stock Exchange. Granted that they have had some hard times lately, with sales down, and the price of their common stock down from the $20 range in early April to a low of less than $14 in June, though it has since rebounded.

Sometimes it's better to not ask how results are obtained.

You've got mail, it's not Spam. No, it's your pink slip.

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Cactus Art or Middle Finger Salute?

Hello, Neighbor - here's your New Jersey salute!

Darren Wood is building a new home in Riverton, Utah. He's installed a custom vent cover on his house, and says that it's a cactus design.

Sounds like a pleasant style for a desert theme, but his neighbor disagrees. Stan Torgersen lives directly behind Wood's new home, and when he looks out his windows, he sees the symbol a hand giving him the finger.

Custom air vent in Riverton, Utah. Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Darreen Wood claims that the gesture in question is art. He said, "It speaks for itself, really. It's such beautiful art. It's a cactus."

It seems that things have not gone well between Mr. Wood and some of his new neighbors. They've complained about the height of his house and other issues for awhile. The problems began last fall, when Wood's lot was excavated. Neighbor Torgersen was worried that the excavation might damage his home's foundation, so he and another neighbor asked the city to intervene.

Officials in ordered a soil test, which Wood said had been done by the previous owner. He said that the new test would cost $3,000 and delay the construction of his new home by four months.

Recently, the Torgersens and another neighbor complained to the city that the home exceeded the height allowed by code.

"We used to have a view of the mountains," Janet Torgersen told The Salt Lake Tribune recently. "He didn't have to take everyone's view."

Wood noted that the city approved the house plan. regarding his neighbors' grievances he said, "I think the bottom line is harassment. They will find another issue to complain about."

Wood said that he might be willing to change his air vent cover if he received an apology from his neighbors.

Maybe it's all a matter of perception, or beauty being in the eye of the beholder. The vent cover design could be viewed as someone giving another giving the finger, but it could also be an abstract cactus.

Jeroen Arendsen says it well when he asks if this a camouflaged insult or a case of extreme sensitivity? Perhaps even both. Because his neighbours are so sensitive, Mr. Wood effectively manages to insult them and deny it to anyone else. See A Nice Gesture: The Perception of Insults.

Cactus art or New Jersey Salute? Photo Hosted at Buzznet

In some area, flipping someone the bird can be considered quite an insult, and can even be illegal. In other areas, the "" (see #20) is considered a common, everyday occurance. President Bush has done it on video. It's all a metter of one's individual interpretation of the gesture.

Latest indications are that a peaceful resolution has been reached, and that Darren Wood is having the controversial "art" removed.

The lexidiem is .

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Bye-bye, Pluto!

Kids, Pluto is No Longer a Planet

reported today that after years of often intense debate, astronomers resolved today to demote Pluto in a wholesale redefinition of planethood that is being billed as a victory of scientific reasoning over historic and cultural influences. Already the decision is being hotly debated.

Bye, Pluto!  - Photo Hosted at Buzznet

So now, officially, Pluto is no longer a planet.

Astronomers have been debating for years about whether to demote Pluto, and public support in favor of Pluto has weighed heavily on the debate. Today's vote came after a two-year effort by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to develop a definition.

Astronomers at the IAU meeting were said to have debated the proposals right up to the moment of the actual vote.

The resolution

The decision establishes three main categories of objects in our solar system.

  • Planets: The eight worlds from to .
  • Dwarf Planets: and any other round object that "has not cleared the neighborhood around its orbit, and is not a satellite."
  • Small Solar System Bodies: All other objects orbiting the .

So it looks like Pluto will be known as a or something to that effect. And classroom teachers will be instructing students to ignore their textbooks: "No, Billy, it's , not nine. And there will be a test on this tomorrow."

It was just last year that the Lowell Observatory celebrated the 75th anniversary of the discovery of Pluto.

So goes the of the science of astronomy. Check your local news at 6:00 PM for any updates.

So our changing lexidiem is .

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At What Age Does Hatred Begin?

Prussian Black and Blue

My son was watching television in the living room on Tuesday night, and as I walked through I did a double take at what was on the screen. It wasn't anything violent, pornographic or even inappropriate: he was watching "The Outsiders", a special on ABC News Primetime. What was disturbing though was the pair of angelic looking blonde twins, just a few years older than my son, who were talking about preserving the white race and Nazi heroes while they were wearing T-shirts with a happy Hitler smiley face.

Photo Hosted at BuzznetHe was watching Lamb and Lynx Gaede, adolescent twin girls who make up the band Prussian Blue, and I decided I better join him. We watched as Primetime commented that they though they might look like innocence personified, the twins are part of a terrifying movement spreading a message of racism and White Nationalism.

Their estranged father said that the messages that they preach are not their own, but those of April Gaede, the girls' mother. The twins have been nurtured on racist beliefs since their birth by their mother, who said, "They need to have the background to understand why certain things are happening. I'm going to give them, give them my opinion just like any, any parent would."

It was disturbing to find out that after Hurricane Katrina struck, the girls donated money but stipulated that their donation to victims should go only to white people. My son, who has been involved in Toys for Tots and other charity work since kindergarten, turned and looked at me in complete surprise.

I had seen a previous broadcast last fall on ABC where Lynx had said, "We're proud of being white, we want to keep being white. We want our people to stay white … we don't want to just be, you know, a big muddle. We just want to preserve our race."

Maybe their mother had convinced them that America loved them and their message would be accepted by all, but after that ABC TV segment and the outpouring of criticism that followed, the girls were said to be "in tears."

Lynx and Lamb emerged a bit bruised... Prussian Black and Blue. Well, girls, reality sometimes sucks, doesn't it?

April is said to be a stay-at-home mom who no longer lives with the twins' father. She home-schools the girls, and teaches them her own distinctive perspective on everything from history to current events. April Gaede had grown up "goat's milk and Third Reich footage in the foothills of Fresno," and that her father was a rancher who branded his animals with swastikas. They moved from Bakersfield, CA because it wasn't "white enough" for some place in Montana.

April is clever and resourceful, and uses the Internet to her advantage; she is not above exploiting her infant daughter Dresden in her schemes. There are some, however, who have seen through her and come forward with what they have found, and it not a pretty picture.

Lamb and Lynx may seem like cute adolescent twins at home when they fight for the next turn with the joystick in front of TV. But how cute is it when the video game is Ethnic Cleansing, which is focused on trying to kill as many blacks, Latinos and Jews as possible. Did their loving mother give them this racist game as a Christmas present?

The twins have said they believe Adolph Hitler was a great man with good ideas, such as eugenic standards and incentives to improve the genetic quality of the German people, and marriage loans to help qualified German families begin upon a firm financial basis. In the interview, the twins described the Holocaust as being exaggerated.

One of their songs is "Sacrifice," which pays homage to Hitler's deputy Fuhrer, Rudolf Hess, and it clearly shows the effect of the girls' upbringing. The lyrics pay tribute to Hess as a "man of peace who wouldn't give up."

So where does the name "Prussian Blue" fit into this twisted puzzle?

The blue-eyed girls and mother have stated that part of their heritage is Prussian German, that Prussian Blue is a "really pretty color," hence the name choice. The darker side of this could be that Prussian Blue is the name of the blue residue left over by the use of Zyklon B, the poison the Nazis employed to kill millions of Jews and others in concentration camps during World War II.

In an article entitled "Hello White People" with Vice Magazine, the girls parroted the history revisionists' and Holocaust deniers' line about "the so-called gas chambers in the concentration camps" and stated that the Prussian Blue name "might make people question some of the inaccuracies of the 'Holocaust' myth."

In the same article they stated that the most important social issue facing the white race was: "Not having enough white babies born to replace ourselves and generally not having good-quality white people being born."

How and where do kids learn such hatred of other human beings? An example of this goes back to 2003, when the twins were all of eleven. The pro-hate site National Vanguard called her a "brave young patriot" and reported that "11-year-old White patriot Lamb Gaede" had said "that Dr. (Martin Luther) King 'preferred White Prostitutes' and 'was a plagiarist'" in an interview with a radio host.

At 11-years-old this girl was discussing racial stereotyping and prostitutes?

The Southern Poverty Law Center has been aware of the girls and April Gaede for awhile, noting that she had joined the neo-Nazi National Alliance in 2001. The girls have appeared publicly on behalf of former Ku Klux Klan wizard David Duke. They perform for such groups as the neo-Nazi National Alliance at Holocaust-denial events and festivals entitled Folk the System.

Prussian Blue does have its followers, and they can and will readily excuse and justify the duo's pro-Nazi and white supremacist music and comments, using whatever rhetoric they feel necessary. If you want that side of the coin, try these articles on WhiteCivilRights.com, or some of them on National Vanguard.

One apologist said that the lyrics to their songs might be a bit rough, but they represented the Conservative element in out political spectrum. Conservative? This isn't Conservative, with the girls executing Sieg Heil salutes at their concerts while belting out lyrics such as "Strike force! White survival. Strike force!" These are outright White Supremacists, followers of a real neo-Nazi culture, regardless of their age.

Lamb and Lynx are releasing a CD at the same time as their new music video debuts. You can see their video "Victory Day" here on YouTube, but you may want to read the lyrics here first:

Well sit down and listen, to what I have to say.
Soon will come a great war, a bloody but holy day.
And after that purging, our people will be free,
and sing up in the bright skies, a sun for all to see...

Times are very tough now for a proud White man to live.
And although it may appear that this world has no life to give.
Times are soon changing, this cant go on for long.
And on that joyful summer's day we'll sing our Victory song...

The women, they'll smile, on Victory Day.
And the children, they'll laugh and they'll sing and they'll play.
And the forests will echo our grace,
for the brand new dawn of our Race...

You are my brother and in war we proudly sing.
Our Cause shall never tire. Our gift to you we bring:
A holy creed of Racial purpose, A mighty Race to defend.
And when we fly our holy flag Their oppressive reign shall end...

And when we finally conquer, our people will be free.
And all across this great land, the bold Truth we shall see.
So as we march together, to avoid catastrophe,
let's remember always our sacred Destiny...

Their pretty faces and youthful smiles have taken in many. In late 2005, Teen People magazine, guided by its parent company Time Warner, pulled the plug on a story they had planned to run on the twins. An earlier teaser had called the hatemongering duo "aspiring musicians" and had compared them to teen sensations Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. Well, to my ears they both sing off key, and they're a far cry from Mary-Kate and Ashley.

UK's Love Music Hate Racism csmpaign - click here for more info...Racist songs praising the KKK and promoting segregation have existed for years, but a new phenomenon emerged in the 1970s, an entire genre of music predicated on neo-Nazi racism, and it's become a global issue. Prussian Blue is just another group in that nasty mix.

Lamb and Lynx aren't espousing their own opinions, but ones they're being taught and surrounded with since birth. It doesn't justify it, but are we beginning to see why the girls are filled with so much hatred?

Lamb and Lynx are turning themselves into something evil, plain and simple, and though they are now fourteen and capable of making intelligent decisions, it's hard to forget where they learned it all, and how much they appear to have been brainwashed.

And when you listen to their music, just ask yourself: is it really that good?

We're supposed to be an enlightened society. It's appalling to think that this kind of venomous hatred and bigotry is being taught to our children in the 21st century, and that it's so easily justified.

Our lexidiem is .

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Snakes on a Plane... and everywhere else

All Your Snakes Are Belong To Us

It looks like that we may have a phenomenon in the making, and its based on the newly released movie , starring . If you all the hype about the film, also known as , you would have to be blind, deaf and hidden from the world for a few months now. But is it making its infamous trademark 12-letter-word acceptable socially?

This 18k gold SoaP pendant has a 3D snake adorned with diamonds for only $3900... bling-bling.New Line Cinema is running auctions on items used in the film, and one can even purchase official SoaP jewelry there, such as this 18k gold airplane pendant that has a 3D snake adorned with diamonds for only $3900. It was designed by Lin Shaye who plays Grace in the movie. That's a fashion statement unto itself.

If you want to see the official site with the movie trailers and such, . I'm not going to review the movie, because there are enough opinions posted on the 'Net already, including some positive ones that one .

Now about that phenomenon, do you remember ? The AYBABTU phenomenon was with us for quite a few months in 2001 and into 2002, and was takeoff on an English language version of the 1989 Japanese video game Zero Wing. In case you forgot those memorable sounds and scenes from the original video, they have been preserved for posterity at and .

And now we have , a very funny if quite profane takeoff on the movie. This has now been ported over as a video to YouTube, and it's getting more hits there than the original site, by all indications. I'm not showing this video here, as this one could truly be regarded as R-rated, like the movie, at least for the printed language, etc. At best it might be NSFW, so be warned. and proceed at your own risk.

Had found the link to this on a couple of weeks back, looking for info on Robert Scoble's new book, (which was ). Read all of Bob's caveats about adult language and such and followed his link to the blog, and there is was, along with a number of other visual comments regarding the film, and all in 's trademark Rageboy style.

Just so that doesn't sound patronizing, those who know me are aware that I own a copies of 's and , of which he was co-author, and have followed him since the days. What he wrote a few years ago still stands well today - check it out for yourself.

But the main thing here is what I also found on his site, and for some reason it just struck me as completely hilarious at the time, and still does. It's , and it's far better than the singular sheikh on a plane reference I was going to use.

Click here to go to Chris Locle's original "sheikhs on a plane" entry, then look for Sheik Yerbouti himself.

And searching the 'Net for sheikhs and planes can bring up some interesting results for the lovelorn, if one is so inclined. But the infamous just won't be made acceptable at any time in the near future.

The is .

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Naked Conversations and Web 2.0 Logo Generator

Web 2.0 Logo Generatr, Windows Live Writr, and Naked Conversations

Went to to check something out and became diverted (as often happens) by something quite different. Robert Scoble had posted a link to Steve Rubel's Micro Persuasion blog, where he had a Web 2.0 logo generator. It's supposed to be a joke, but you can create your own Web 2.0 logo with or without a reflection or Beta tag. Really tough decision here, but I just had to go full out for all the options, as you can see here.

Get your own Web 2.0 logo with a Beta sticker right here!

Really had gone there to see if he had posted anything new about the new application that was released into public Beta earlier this week. Have already found it to be a superb product, and one that will aid any blogger who good control over page layout, graphics, maps and the like. More on this later, but it would be well worth your while to look into this one.

Naked Conversations, by Robet Scoble. More info on this superb book here.I had also gone to his blog to find out a bit more about Bob Scoble's new book, . He wrote it with , another expert on technology product innovation as can be seen on his site.

A colleague had just purchased this book and was raving about it, and kept referring to Bob Scoble as a "true visionary." On that comment we're in full agreement, but I wanted to browse through the book first. The first sentence is: "We live in a time when most people don't trust big companies."

With a beginning like that, the line is drawn in the sand, and after spending fifteen minutes with the book, will be getting my own copy. My colleague offered to let me read it when he's finished, but this book looks like a keeper. The authors state that there are Six Pillars of Blogging: six key differences between blogging and any other communications channel.

Keep in mind that Scoble practically invented blogging as we know it, and that both authors are well immersed in it. They understand bloggers, the culture and the technology behind it.

Our is .

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Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Makes Sense


Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt with Stephen J. Dubner

First things first: this reviewer is not an economist, and I usually find such books can often be boring. Must admit that Freakonomics kept me up far too late over one weekend reading it through to the end. It was hard to put down.

Freakonomics Apple with Orange Inside - Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Another reader/reviewer emailed me, noting that Malcolm Gladwell had said that Steven Levitt "has the most interesting mind in America," and since I had found Gladwell’s Blink! hard to put down, I might find Freakonomics interesting. This was an understatement.

Then another friend loaned me a copy of the book, so I felt obligated to read it, so I had to get my own copy, for it’s worth a second read.

As noted above, the cover says it all. Freakonomics is not only humorous in places, it’s fascinating, an out of the ordinary way of looking at economics for those who normally don’t venture into what is often perceived as a boring subject. Like Gladwell’s writing, this reviewer found this book to be a springboard to other ideas.

The authors define economics as “the study of incentives” early in the first chapter, which is not exactly as I remember the conventional definition from college courses. But maybe analyzing how to motivate people to do or not do a particular things is a better way or looking at the reality of economics.

Freakonomics was co-written by the noted journalist Stephen Dubner (Confessions of a Hero-Worshiper, Choosing My Religion), and seems to have drawn as much criticism as it has received praise from reviewers and other commentators. The authors repeatedly state that there’s no consistent theme. Others have noted that it appears to be an assembly of magazine articles and columns, edited and put together in an appealing but not particularly interrelated manner.

But this reader found that it indeed does have a theme, and that theme is that established conventional wisdom is not always right. Things that we perceive to be related just might not be. Maybe there’s no connection at all, and maybe some are simply coincidence.

Liberals and conservatives in our society will find some of Levitt’s thoughts to be controversial. This reader found much of the book to fly in the face of “conventional wisdom,” and found that this is what made it so fascinating. For example, don’t miss Levitt’s discussion regarding abortion, for whether or not you agree with his viewpoint, it is thought provoking.

There are many other thought-provoking concepts that this reader found fascinating, such as the authors’ thoughts on how education and actual knowledge in our public school systems has been replaced by standardized testing preparation. This then leads to the encouragement of cheating just to get the statistics where those in charge of the systems need them to be. To comment further on this would be akin to plot spoiling. But don’t miss Levitt’s comments on the bizarre trends of naming babies, which this reviewer found to be hilarious in their absurdity.

“Morality describes the way that any of us would like the world to work. Economics describes the way the world actually does work. You can’t change the world you live in until you understand it.”
~ from Freakonomics

Some have disagreed with the authors. Others, including many academics, agreed with the authors' concepts. Orson Scott Card stated in WorldWatch (9/11/2005), "This book should be required reading before anybody is allowed to vote."

Some have commented that this book is more of a basic text on sociology more than economics, but this reader found that it’s all connected, and makes one want to look further. Levitt is a writer to watch, and he does let the numbers talk for him in an interesting if often offbeat fashion.

Criticisms? Initially had been happy to find this book to be comfortable 256 pages, but after finishing it, wished there had been more. It’s definitely not boring, and that can’t be said about many works related to economics. Might even be a good gift for someone, as almost anyone can read it and frequently have a good laugh.

I thoroughly enjoyed Freakonomics and heartily recommend it: a 5-star offering, without a doubt. Also recommended is the Freakonomics column that the authors have been writing for the The New York Times Magazine since June 2005, covering subjects from car seats to dog poop to tax cheating.

Update: This book has been out since April Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt with Stephen J. Dubner, available on Amazon.com - Photo hosted by Buzznetof 2005, so it's not new, and I had previously reviewed it on Amazon.com and other sites. So why review it again? It seems that Freakonomics has been adopted into many college and high-school curricula since it was published. It's now a recognized textbook for courses at Berkeley, Georgetown, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, American University, Purdue, NYU and others. And now there are free study guides available here.

Further, if you already have the book and missed out on any book signings, the authors are now offering a free signed bookplate. It's a nicely designed sticker that can be placed inside your book, like one of those classic "ex libris" stickers. So if you would like your signed bookplate, just click to fill out the form on their site, and they'll even pay the postage.

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Our lexidiem is .

Incompetent Design

Intelligent Design? No, it's Incompetent Design!

Let's get right to the point: the whole intelligent design issue seems to have gotten a bit out of hand these days. It looks like these folks have found a way to express their ideas in song and with a good sense of humor.

Marching Song of the Incompetents,
( a.k.a The I.D. Song)
Lyrics by Don Wise,
sung to the tune of
"The Battle Hymn of the Republic"

My bones proclaim a story
of incompetent design.
My back still hurts, my sinus clogs,
my teeth just won’t align.
If I had drawn the blueprint,
I would cer-tain-ly resign.
Incompetent Design!

Design is but a mere illusion.
Darwin sparked our revolution.
Science SHALL prevail!

Don Wise is Professor Emeritus of Structural Geology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He's been attempting to get the letters '' to stand for in the public mind. According to this article in , Dr. Wise handed out the lyrics at a Geological Society of America (GSA) meeting in October, 2005. By the end of the meeting, they had an audience of about 300 "singing that lustily" and in "at least four different keys and out of sync."

Hey, these guys are scientists, not vocal recording stars! They sound perfectly fine to me, out of tune or not, and contrary to a lot of popular music today, you can understand the lyrics, too.

And if you want your own personal copy of the video in WMV format, you can download it here.

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Our is .


I've got a bad feeling about this...

Terror Plot Uncovered in the UK

Terrorist - Photo Hosted at BuzznetWoke up Thursday morning to the news of an alleged terrorist plot to "commit mass murder on an unimaginable scale." British law enforcement authorities had arrested 24 suspects who had planned to explode 10 to 12 aircraft in mid-flight between Britain and America using liquid explosives.

The plot was said to be just days away. British authorities said that the plan bore all the hallmarks of an al-Qaeda plot.

The twenty four suspects are said to be British citizens, many of Pakistani origin. This was three more than the 21 announced earlier in the day. British security sources felt that all the main targets had been arrested.

Here in the U.S., Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff raised the nation’s threat level to Severe, or Red, for commercial flights originating in the United Kingdom bound for the U.S. This adjustment reflects the Critical, or highest, alert level that has been implemented in the UK. He also raised the threat level to High, or Orange, for all commercial
aviation operating in or destined for the U.S. Chertoff called the plot "
comparable to 9/11."

Also implemented was a new series of security measures, prohibiting any liquids, including beverages, hair gels, and lotions from being carried on airplanes. British authorities have implemented similar measure due the potential dangers that could be caused with many simple household liquids.

The UK threat level remains critical, according to UK Home Secretary John Reid, who noted that the main suspects were in custody but it was right to "err on the side of caution." The British government also released the names of the suspects. The oldest person is 35, and the youngest is only 17.

Now ponder these facts, and see how you feel:

I for one can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when 9/11 happened, and all these facts are just a bit too coincidental to make one rest easy. At the time of this writing, the current HSAS level in Pennsylvania, where I live, remains at yellow, though Governor Ed Rendell urged resident to be observant and "vigilant at all times." It can make the observer somewhat uneasy watching these events roll by like a parade before our eyes.

In the film Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977), there was a classic line, a quote that I'll share here:

I've got a bad feeling about this.
~ Hans Solo (played by Harrison Ford)

My sentiments exactly, and I truly hope that I'm wrong. I was very close to the 9/11 relief efforts and to some of the people involved in the recovery (see the archived UCanHelp.com Website at the Library of Congress).

World Trade Center Video from September 11, 2001

Homeland Security Advisory

Resources, should you (hopefully never) need them:

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Our lexidiem is .

August 11, 2006


Marilyn Monroe: A Diamond is Forever

This photo and others hosted at Buzznet

Marilyn Monroe was found dead in her home in Los Angeles on August 5, 1962, and thus a legend began.

She was discovered lying face down and nude on her bed. There was a telephone in her hand, and empty prescription pill bottles were all around the room. Dr. Thomas Noguchi conducted a preliminary autopsy, the results were analyzed, and Coroner Theodore Curphey determined that Marilyn died from an overdose of barbiturates. The Los Angeles police Department concluded that her death was "caused by a self-administered overdose of sedative drugs and that the mode of death is probable suicide."

Whether Marilyn committed suicide or not has been the source of great debate for 44 years and conspiracy buffs have had an endless field day with their speculations.

Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jean Mortenson in Los Angeles on June 1, 1926. Her mother suffered from emotional problems, so a string of foster parents and in an orphanage brought up Norma Jean. At the age of 16 she married James Dougherty (1921–2005), an aircraft factory worker. He went to sea in the merchant marine, and she began work at the Radioplane Company. Asked to model for an article in Yank magazine, she soon quit her job to become a full-time model.

In 1946 she divorced Dougherty and went to Hollywood. She signed a short-term contract with 20th Century Fox, taking as her screen name Marilyn Monroe. She had a few bit parts and then returned to modeling, posing nude for a now-famous calendar in 1949.

Marilyn began to attract more attention in 1950 after her minor role appearances in The Asphalt Jungle and All About Eve. Audiences took note of the voluptuous blonde, and she soon won a new contract from Fox. Her acting career escalated in the early ‘50s with performances in Love Nest (1951), Monkey Business (1952), and Niagra (1953). She won international fame for her sex-symbol roles in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), and There's No Business Like Show Business (1954).

She attracted further publicity when she married baseball legend Joe DiMaggio in 1954, but they divorced within a year. It is said, though, that DiMaggio was the great love in her life.

The Seven-Year ItchTom Ewell won a Golden Globe for his performance in The Seven Year Itch. (1955), in which she starred with Tom Ewell, demonstrated her talents for comedy roles, and featured the classic scene where she stands over a subway grating while her white skirt billowed up by the wind from a passing train. Directed by Billy Wilder, moviegoers loved it. She studied with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio in New York in 1955, resulting in a well-reviewed performance in Bus Stop (1956). Marilyn's third marriage was to playwright Arthur Miller in 1956. She made The Prince and the Showgirl in 1957 with Laurence Olivier, which was not a commercial success.

She rebounded in 1959 and gave an acclaimed performance in the hit comedy Some Like It Hot, starring with Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, and directed by Billy Wilder. Filmed in black & white, it has been acclaimed worldwide as one of the greatest movie comedies ever made, ranking first on the American Film Institute's list of the greatest comedies, as well as #14 on their list of the 100 best American films. The film won the Golden Globe for Best Comedy. Marilyn Monroe won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in Musical or Comedy, and Jack Lemmon won for Best Actor in Musical or Comedy.

This is the original movie trailer for Some Like It Hot:

Let's Make Love (1960) had Marilyn paired with Yves Montand. The final movie that she completed was The Misfits (1961), in which she shared star billing with Clark Gable, Montgomery Clift and Eli Wallach. It was directed by John Huston and written by Arthur Miller, whom she divorced just one week before the film's opening.

There was speculation that Marilyn was considering reconciliation with Joe DiMaggio. After being on a plane flight that experienced trouble, she sent DiMaggio a telegram on September 22, 1961 that stated, "When the plane was in trouble I thought about two things, you and changing my will. Love you, I think, more than ever."

Marilyn's first nude movie scene was filmed for Something's Got to Give, but her chronic absence from the set caused her to be fired a week after her 30th birthday on June 8, 1962. She was eventually re-hired, but the film was never completed. Video clips of her nude pool scene exist.

Acclaimed photographer Bert Stern had three sessions with Marilyn Monroe for Vogue magazine in late June 1962, just six weeks before her death.Photo Hosted at Buzznet - see the Bert Stern book here These sessions produced some beautiful and unique images of Marilyn, and they were later published in a book, Marilyn Monroe: The Complete Last Sitting. There is an excellent YouTube video of some of these images set to the tune from the Norma Jean & Marilyn movie.

Monroe was suffering from depression, and was under regular psychiatric care by 1961. During the last months of her life, she lived as a virtual recluse in her bungalow in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles. Her housekeeper, Eunice Murray, noticed Marilyn's bedroom light on after midnight on August 5, 1962. The door was locked and Marilyn didn’t respond to the housekeeper’s calls, so she called Marilyn’s psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenson. He responded and accessed the room by breaking a window. He found Marilyn dead when he entered the room and the police were called. The subsequent autopsy found a fatal amount of sedatives in her system, and her death was ruled probable suicide.

Over the years there have been a number of conspiracy theories about her death, and most of this focus is around love affairs she was alleged to have with both John and Robert Kennedy. The theorists claim that the Kennedy family had something to do with her death because they feared she would make their love affairs public, along with other "government secrets" she was gathering. Robert Kennedy, then Attorney General in his older brother John’s cabinet, was in Los Angeles on August 4, 1962, and the Attorney General was alleged to have visited Marilyn on the night of her death. The conspiracy theorists claim that he quarreled with her, but the credibility of these and other claims is questionable.

So besides numerous retrospectives, photos, conspiracies, FBI files and speculation, what are we left with? That can be debated from a number of points, but the some of the lyrics from a song Marilyn sung in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, "Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend" may give us the answer.

Time rolls on and youth is gone
and you can't straighten up when you bend
but stiff back or stiff knees
you stand straight at Tiffany's
but Diamonds, Are A Girl's Best Friends

According to Advertising Age, the #1 advertising slogan of the century is "Diamonds are forever", which has been used by DeBeers since 1948. If that’s true, then Marilyn Monroe has left us with diamonds with all the films, music and books that survive her.

Forty-four years after her death, Marilyn Monroe still remains a major cultural symbol. The unknown details of her final performance only add to her mystique.

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Giving-Credit-Where-It’s-Due Department: This piece was actually inspired in a roundabout way by an article written by my friend Amit Agarwal in Digital Inspiration, entitled No Diamonds please, Girls prefer Plasma TV, to which I responded with suitable comments.

Additional Material

YouTube: Candle In the Wind by Elton John
YouTube: Beautiful - a tribute to Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe DVDs

Marilyn Monroe - Photo Hosted at Buzznet

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