Friday, November 30, 2007

Thursday, November 29, 2007

What Happened To The Good Ol' Days?

by Ken Greene

First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they were pregnant.

They took aspirin, ate bleu cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn’t get tested for diabetes.

Then after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered with bright colored lead-based paints.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention, the risks we took hitchhiking.

As infants & children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, booster seats, seat belts or air bags.

Riding in the back of a pick up on a warm day was always a special treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle.

We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this.

We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank koolade made with sugar, but we weren’t overweight because we were always outside playing.

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.

No one was able to reach us all day… and we were O.K.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We did not have Playstations, Nintendo’s, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 150 channels on cable, no video movies or DVD’s, no surround-sound or CD’s, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet or chat rooms.

WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.

We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.

We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls and, although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them!

Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn’t had to learn to deal with disappointment.

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever! The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all!

Gas in Saipan now more expensive than in Hawaii

SAIPAN, Northern Marianas — Gas on America's far-flung Pacific islands is now topping $4 a gallon.

It's highest on the U.S. Northern Marianas islands of Rota and Tinian, with even regular gas going over the $4 mark.

On Saipan today, it's $3.89 a gallon for regular and $4.18 for premium. That's a 10-cents-gallon increase over yesterday.

The prevailing wage for the islands' major workforce of 20,000 foreign workers is just $3.55 an hour.

Officials of Shell Oil Co. in the region say the company has been forced to increase the retail price because their supplier in Singapore has been increasing its prices.

(Honolulu Advertiser)

Japan: One Mouthful at a Time

Shiga Prefecture’s government is calling on the public to eat enough bluegill fish to eradicate it. The “catch-and-eat” drive for Lake Biwa in the prefecture follows a rare expression of contrition from Emperor Akihito, who has admitted bringing the fish home in 1960 as a gift from Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago. The bluegill is Illinois’s state fish. It has turned into a nuisance in Japan’s rivers and lakes, steadily destroying native species.

Shiga’s Web site is offering recipes for deep-fried, marinated and chili-sauce bluegill.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Two Koreas agree on rail timetable

North and South Korea have agreed a timetable for establishing cargo rail services between their two nations, the first for more than 50 years.

Trains will begin crossing the border on 11 December, connecting South Korea with an industrial zone in the North.

The agreement came after a three-day meeting in Seoul between South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo and his North Korean counterpart Kim Yong-il.

The talks were the first between prime ministers of the two Koreas since 1992.

They followed a historic summit last month between leaders of the two nations, only the second since the Korean peninsula was partitioned more than five decades ago.

The leaders signed an accord calling for greater peace and economic partnership, and the prime ministers have been using their meeting to implement some of the proposals.

'Expand investment'

There is currently no rail service between North and South Korea. In May, two trains crossed the border in a test-run and South Korea has since been pushing for more regular rail links.

Under the deal, cargo trains will run along a 25km (16 mile) section of track linking Munsan in the South with Bongdong in the North.

This would improve access to the Kaesong industrial complex, a joint economic zone on the North Korean side of the border.

South Korea has also agreed to repair roads and railways linking the complex with other parts of North Korea, and to help with the development of a shipping district in the North's port city of Haeju.

"The agreements set the stage for our companies to expand investment in the North and substantially contribute to its economic development," the South Korean prime minister said in a statement.

The two sides also agreed to begin negotiations on setting up a joint fishing zone around a disputed sea border in the first half of next year.

The area has been the scene of serious naval clashes in the past.

The two Koreas have been divided for more than 50 years and remain technically at war, but in recent years ties have improved under Seoul's policy of economic engagement.

Pyongyang's broader international ties also appear to be taking a turn for the better.

In February, North Korea agreed to end its nuclear programme in return for aid. It is currently in the process of disabling its main nuclear reactor at Yongbyon.

1910: Korean Peninsula colonised by Japan
1945: Divided into US-backed South and Soviet-backed North
1950-1953: Korean War, no peace deal signed
1987: North Korea bombs a South airliner, killing 115
1990s: South Korea introduces conciliatory Sunshine Policy
2000: Kim Jong-il and Kim Dae-jung hold first leaders' summit
2007: Kim Jong-il and Roh Moo-hyun hold second leaders' summit

Bike sex case sparks legal debate

The case of a man convicted of simulating sex with his bicycle has sparked a debate about human rights and the privacy of an individual.

Internet message boards have been buzzing with comment about the case of Robert Stewart, 51, from Ayr.

He was reported by cleaners at a hostel who unlocked his door and found him engaged in a sex act with his bike.

Stewart was put on the Sex Offenders' Register, which some posters said was an over-reaction by the sheriff.

Stewart admitted a sexually aggravated breach of the peace by conducting himself in a disorderly manner and simulating sex. As well as being put on register for three years, he was put on probation for the same length of time.

More than a million people have read the story on the BBC news website and it has been hotly debated on forums elsewhere.

One contributor asked: "Would they have done the same to a woman with a sex toy?

"Apart from the fact that the sex toy was manufactured for the purpose, and a bicycle wasn't, I really don't see that the two acts are all that different."

Another blogger said: "I am more disturbed by the sheriff's ruling than the act of having sex with a bike."

Those discussing the case online were also worried about the future implications.

One person wrote: "It's bad news for privacy in the UK because of how a ruling like this could be used to support similar cases in future."

Legal experts said he would have been placed on the Sex Offenders' Register under Section 80 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

This states that a person should be put on the register "if the court determines that there was a significant sexual aspect to the offender's behaviour in committing the offence".

This is not the first legal case involving someone simulating sex with an inanimate object.

* In 1997 Robert Watt, 38, was fined £100 for trying to have sex with a shoe in an Edinburgh street
* In 2002 the same man was arrested for simulating sex with a traffic cone in front of a crowd of people
* Earlier this month, sentence was deferred on teenager Steven Marshall, from Galashiels, who admitted simulating sex on a pavement while drunk.

Human rights lawyer John Scott told the BBC Scotland news website that the case raised important privacy issues.

He said: "It certainly prompts questions about what people can and can't do behind closed doors with inanimate objects.

"However, the difficulty is that the man involved in this case pleaded guilty to a breach of the peace so these issues of privacy weren't considered by the court."

He added: "The sheriff had to act on the guilty plea and make a decision about whether or not there was a sexual nature to the offence. Clearly there was and that's why the man has ended up on the register."

However, Mr Scott said it should not be seen as a test case or one that would set a precedent in the future.

"This case should not prevent people who want to engage in this sort of activity doing so.

"What I would say to a client of mine that wanted to do this kind of thing is as long as it's behind a bolted door, with an inanimate object, then each to their own."

Man caught trying to have sex with his bicycle

A man caught trying to have sex with his bicycle has been sentenced to three years on probation.

Robert Stewart, 51, admitted a sexually aggravated breach of the peace by conducting himself in a disorderly manner and simulating sex.

Sheriff Colin Miller also placed Stewart on the Sex Offenders Register for three years.

Mr Stewart was caught in the act with his bicycle by cleaners in his bedroom at the Aberley House Hostel in Ayr.

Gail Davidson, prosecuting, told Ayr Sheriff Court: "They knocked on the door several times and there was no reply.

"They used a master key to unlock the door and they then observed the accused wearing only a white t-shirt, naked from the waist down.

"The accused was holding the bike and moving his hips back and forth as if to simulate sex."

Both cleaners, who were "extremely shocked", told the hostel manager who called police.

Sheriff Colin Miller told Stewart: "In almost four decades in the law I thought I had come across every perversion known to mankind, but this is a new one on me. I have never heard of a 'cycle-sexualist'."

Stewart had denied the offence, claiming it was caused by a misunderstanding after he had too much to drink.

The bachelor had been living in the hostel since October 2006 after moving from his council house in Girvan.

He now lives in Ayr.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Xian artists blog hits 50 posts!

Now includes the following:

Vengeance Rising
One Bad Pig
Valeri Barinov
Idle Cure
Rick Cua
Havalina Rail Co.
Keith Green
Altar Boys
Gospel Blues artists
Mark Heard
Bob Dylan
Lone Justice
Over The Rhine
Sixpence None The Richer
Bruce Cockburn
Violent Femmes
Leslie "Sam" Phillips
The Alarm
Sweet Comfort Band
After The Fire
King's X
The Call
Paul Clark
De Garmo & Key
Sufjan Stevens
Smashing Pumpkins
Phil Keaggy
Steve Taylor
Lost Dogs
Adam Again
The Choir
The 77s
Daniel Amos
Second Chapter Of Acts
Resurrection Band / REZ
Randy Stonehill
Larry Norman

Friday, November 9, 2007

Top 10 for women

The World Economic Forum released a Global Gender Gap Report - a list of the top counties that have managed to narrow the "gender gap":

1. Sweden
2. Norway
3. Finland
4. Iceland
5. New Zealand
6. Philippines
7. Germany
8. Denmark
9. Ireland
10. Spain

The United States, the "world's leading economy", is 31st. They were 23rd last year.

Way to go, guys. Let's all hear you now: "U.S.A! U.S.A! U.S.A! U.S.A!".... "We're number... 31!" Woo hoo!

Read the full article here.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

New videos here!!! :-)

Both of these videos were shown at the Busan International Edutainment Expo, November 2007, in Busan, South Korea.

Promo video for Friends English Camp in December 2007:

(music: "El Nino" by Red Elvises)

Promo video for Friends English Academy:

(music: "Why Can't We Be Friends?" by War)