Bettie Page Seriously Ill

From Yahoo! News:

LOS ANGELES – Bettie Page, a 1950s pinup known for her raven-haired bangs and saucy come-hither looks, was hospitalized in intensive care after suffering a heart attack, her agent said Friday.

“She’s critically ill,” Mark Roesler of CMG Worldwide told The Associated Press.

He said the 85-year-old had been hospitalized for the last three weeks with pneumonia and was about to be released when she had the heart attack Tuesday. Page was transferred to another hospital in Los Angeles and remained in intensive care Friday.

Read the story here.

R.I.P. Paul Benedict

Paul BenedictActor Paul Benedict, most famous for his role as English neighbor Harry Bentley on The Jeffersons, has passed away at age 70 in Martha’s Vineyard. The cause of death is not yet known.

Benedict was born in Silver City, New Mexico and grew up in Boston. He appeared in several movies, but spent most of his acting career on Broadway, where he also directed several plays.

Obit is here.


BREAKING NEWS: OJ gets 15 years!

From CNN:

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (CNN) — A Las Vegas judge sentenced fallen gridiron great O.J. Simpson to at least 15 years in prison for leading an armed hotel room confrontation over sports memorabilia in 2007.

Simpson could become eligible for parole in about nine years. Grimacing, his head cast down, Simpson was escorted from the courtroom in shackles.

Friday News Dump

– Ever feel discombobulated after going through the security checkpoint at the airport? No worries: the good people at the Milwaukee airport have created a “Recombobulation Area”:

– Boy George is probably going to jail.

– Prohibition was repealed 75 years ago today. Happy Repeal Day!

– What if Plaxico Burress had his own comic book?

– Swedish researchers have used CCTV to create a body-swap illusion. Apparently the illusion is so good that people think they’ve actually swapped bodies! Said one of the researchers, “[the] effect is so robust that, while experiencing being in another person’s body, a participant can face his or her biological body and shake hands with it without breaking the illusion.” Cool!

– Wanna know how much the 2008 government bailout actually costs? Adjusted for inflation, the bailout costs as much as the Marshall Plan, the Louisiana Purchase, the Race to the Moon, the 1980s S&L Crisis, the Korean War, The New Deal, the initial invasion of Iraq, the Vietnam War, and the entire lifetime of NASA… combined:

– I don’t know how reliable the Malaysian Insider is, but they have this chilling report (reprinted from the Times of India) about the Mumbai attackers. Read the whole thing… it’ll make your skin crawl!

A New Day Dawns

As the sun came over the horizon this morning, a new day dawned on the Anglican Communion. Yesterday, the leaders of several conservative Anglican movements in the United States and Canada formed a new province, to be called the Anglican Church in North America. The leader of the new province – an archbishop, no less! – will be Robert Duncan, former Bishop of Pittsburgh.

The provisional constitution of the new province is available here. Here are some highlights:

1) We confess the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments to be the inspired Word of God, containing all things necessary for salvation, and to be the final authority and unchangeable standard for Christian faith and life.

2) We confess Baptism and the Supper of the Lord to be Sacraments ordained by Christ Himself in the Gospel, and thus to be ministered with unfailing use of His words of institution and of the elements ordained by Him.

3) We confess the godly historic Episcopate as an inherent part of the apostolic faith and practice, and therefore as integral to the fullness and unity of the Body of Christ.

4) We confess as proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture the historic faith of the undivided church as declared in the three Catholic Creeds: the Apostles’, the Nicene, and the Athanasian.

5) Concerning the seven Councils of the undivided Church, we affirm the teaching of the first four Councils and the Christological clarifications of the fifth, sixth and seventh Councils, in so far as they are agreeable to the Holy Scriptures.

6) We receive The Book of Common Prayer as set forth by the Church of England in 1662, together with the Ordinal attached to the same, as a standard for Anglican doctrine and discipline, and, with the Books which preceded it, as the standard for the Anglican tradition of worship.

7) We receive the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of 1562, taken in their literal and grammatical sense, as expressing the Anglican response to certain doctrinal issues controverted at that time, and as expressing fundamental principles of authentic Anglican belief.

8) We affirm the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) Statement and Jerusalem Declaration issued 29 June 2008.

The new province’s canons are available here.

Want a good laugh? Here’s a line from the New York Times story about the conference:

The Rev. Charles Robertson, canon for the Episcopal Church’s presiding bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, said Wednesday, “There is room within the Episcopal Church for people of different views, and we regret that some have felt the need to depart from the diversity of our common life in Christ.”

How these people can say that with a straight face is beyond me! I think the actual quote was more like this:

The Rev. Charles Robertson, canon for the Episcopal Church’s presiding bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, said Wednesday, “There is room within the Episcopal Church for people of different vie…. hahahahaha!!! Oh, who am I kidding? We’ll sic our lawyers on these guys faster than you can say ‘KJS is a heretic’!”

So anyway… all kidding aside, I’m really excited about yesterday’s news. The new province will bring together parishes and believers from The American Anglican Council, The Anglican Coalition in Canada, The Anglican Communion Network, The Anglican Mission in the Americas, The Anglican Network in Canada, The Convocation of Anglicans in North America, Forward in Faith – North America, The Missionary Convocation of Kenya, The Missionary Convocation of the Southern Cone, The Missionary Convocation of Uganda, and The Reformed Episcopal Church.That’s big. So big that that 815 cannot simply ignore them. The question now is whether enough primates will recognize the new province. It’s a lock that KJS and company will not, and that the Global South bishops will… as always, it’s those wishy-washy folks in the middle that we have to worry about.

The only question I have is… where can I sign up?

The new Steel Curtain?

Back in the 1970s, the Pittsburgh Steelers defense was badass. In 1976, for example, the Steelers started off the season 1-4 and lost Terry Bradshaw to injury. The defense then stepped up, pulling off three consecutive shutouts. The Steelers’ defense didn’t allow a single point in five of their last nine games that year, and only one opponent (Houston) was able to score in the double digits (a 32-16 Steelers win). Eight of the Steelers’ defensive players were chosen for the Pro Bowl that year, and four of those would go to to enter the Hall of Fame. All in all, the Steelers defense of the day was so badass that they earned a legendary nickname: the Steel Curtain.

Since the 70s, the Steelers have generally had pretty good defensive teams. After all, a good running game and a bruising defense is “the Pittsburgh way”. It’s “smashmouth football”, and no one has consistently done that better than the Steelers. But this season’s Steeler defense is different. It’s like the defense of years past, but it’s “clicking” on every level. Consider the statistics:

– The Steelers have not allowed a 100-yard rusher all season.

– The Steelers have not allowed 300 yards in offense all season.

– The Steelers have given up ten (or fewer) points in four of their last five games.

– The Steelers defense has allowed nine total points in third quarters this season.

– James Harrison and Lamar Woodley have already combined for 25 1/2 sacks between them this year, a team record.

– Troy Polamalu has had interceptions in three consecutive games, and leads the league with six total picks.

– Overall, the Steelers defense is giving up the fewest yards rushing, passing and overall, and the fewest points in the NFL.

– The Steelers are giving up an average of 238 yards per game, easily the lowest in the NFL.

All this was on full display last Sunday when the Steelers traveled to Foxboro, where they had previously been 0-2 in Gillette Stadium. Patriots QB Matt Cassel was riding high on back-to-back 400-yard passing games. Darth Vader was looking like a genius (again) for his pick at backup QB.

Steelers-PatsSo what happened? The Pats managed only 169 offensive yards. Cassel threw two picks and fumbled twice. The Pats went 1-13 on third downs. Had Large Benjamin not thrown that interception deep in his own territory at the beginning of the game (which gave the Pats the ball at Pittsburgh’s 14 yard line), it’s possible that the Pats might not have gotten into the end zone at all.

The 1976 Steelers – the epitome of “Steel Curtain” – led the league in giving up the fewest points, yards rushing and total yards. As good as they were, however, they only managed to be #3 in yards passing. The 2008 Steelers – the “New Steel Curtain” – is leading in all defensive categories, something that hasn’t been done since at least 1991, when the Eagles led the league in the three yardage categories (but did not give up the fewest points).

I’ll admit that the Steelers’ offense is struggling. Just as the Bears had “Good Rex” and “Bad Rex”, I’m never sure if “Good Ben” or “Bad Ben” will show up. I’ve watched many games on the edge of my seat this year, hoping and praying that the offense will get the job done. But after the game’s over I take a deep breath… and remember what the defense has done. The Steelers’ defense destroyed the Redskins, Chargers and Bungles.

Let’s hope they can keep it up against Dallas!

An alternative to Bittorrent

Bittorrent is a great technology for downloading large files, especially video files. It’s so good, in fact, that many ISPs estimate that between 50% and 90% of all their traffic is data being shared by Bittorrent. But Bittorrent isn’t perfect. In fact, there are two distinct disadvantages to using Bittorrent to get your video files.

The first has to do with Bittorrent technology itself. When a user wants to share a file, he uses his Bittorrent client to create a .TORRENT file based on what he wants to share. He then uploads that torrent file to a tracker, a server on the Internet that keeps track of the IP addresses of people sharing the file. People then connect to the tracker and download the torrent file to their own computers. They then load the file in their own Bittorrent client, which connects to the tracker and starts downloading pieces of the file. As soon as a few pieces are downloaded, the downloader also begins sharing his pieces with other people downloading the file (collectively known as the swarm). Although this is what makes Bittorrent so fast, it also creates two problems: a) you can accidentally connect to a computer owned by the Media Police, and get busted for sharing illicit files; and b) according to Bittorrent etiquette, you’re supposed to upload as much as you download. This means that a 350MB download of a TV show actually costs you 700MB in bandwidth. As a one-off, that’s not that big of a deal. But if you’re downloading 10 shows a week, it really adds up: 7GB worth of bandwidth to download 3.5GB worth of shows!

The second problem with Bittorrent has to do with most people’s Internet connections. Most broadband connections in the United States are asynchronous, which means that you download and upload at different speeds. This usually means that you can download things quickly, but upload them at a much slower speed. On my own home Internet connection, I can download data at around 7Mbps (or around 125 old-fashioned 56k modems), but I can only upload at 368kbps (or around six 56k modems). So I am able to download an hour long TV show in around 10 minutes, but it will take 10 hours to upload as much as I download. This creates a problem with private Bittorrent sites that require you to maintain a download:upload ratio of 1.0 or higher. You download a file, and while your home Internet connection is uploading at a pokey 368kbps, other downloaders with much faster upload speeds are sharing at 1.5Mbps or higher. Those folks rapidly share the file to the rest of the crowd, leaving you with a ratio of .036 on the file… which eventually causes you to get banned from the tracker for maintaining a ratio of less than 1.0. The sad thing is that even if you turn off all other torrents (and even other programs that use upstream bandwidth), the people with fast upload speeds will always win.

Continue reading “An alternative to Bittorrent”