Saturday, January 29, 2011


More information at the Lumenhaus Website.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Pittsburgh Paradox

Purchased by Art Rooney Sr. in 1933 with $2,500 he supposedly won at the track, the Steelers initially struggled for decades. But since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 no team has been better. Maybe not in any sport. In those 41 seasons the Steelers have been in 22 Divisional playoffs and 15 conference championships, including eight in the past 14 seasons.

They've been to eight Super Bowls and won six -- with a shot at No. 7 next week in Dallas.

The Pittsburgh Steelers might be the greatest franchise in sports. But you know what I've learned while covering this team, extensively, during the last 15 years? They also might be one of the dirtiest.

Now, I'm not just talking about the well documented, but unproven, accusations of sexual assault against Ben Roethlisberger that earned the Steelers QB a four-game suspension this season; the $125,000 the league has fined linebacker James Harrison for illegal hits this season; the blocks by Hines Ward that earned him the rep as one of the game's dirtiest players and inspired the creation of the "Hines Ward Rule" against blindside blocks; or, even, the 13 arrests the Steelers have logged since the team's last Super Bowl (compared to, say, the Packers who have had five players arrested during the same time frame) according to a database run by The San Diego Union-Tribune.

This is just the latest example of a sinister side to the Steelers that has run parallel to the team's phenomenal success during the last 41 years.

Chad Millman, co-author of The Ones Who Hit The Hardest: The Steelers, the Cowboys, the '70s and the Fight for America's Soul, traces the Pittsburgh Paradox back to its exact origin: Defensive end Ernie Holmes. "I think he wanted to beat people to death -- within the rules of the game," former Steelers safety Mike Wagner says of Holmes in the book.

In March 1973 Holmes, who was later diagnosed as suffering from acute paranoid psychosis, pulled a shotgun from his truck while driving on the Ohio turnpike and began shooting out the tires of passing trucks. This led to a high-speed chase, a shootout and a standoff with state police that ended in a nearby forest with Holmes shooting an officer in the ankle.

Two days later, a lawyer paid for by the Rooneys bailed Holmes out of jail using $45,000 supplied by the Rooneys. He was then taken to a psychiatric hospital (also paid for by the Rooneys) where he stayed for two months. When he got out Holmes pled guilty to assault with a deadly weapon and, somehow, was given five years probation. (Just trying to imagine how something like this would playout in 2011 is mind-blowing, isn't it?) A few months later, though, Holmes was back at training camp and in the starting lineup where he helped the Steelers win their first two Super Bowls.

Art Rooney Jr. said Holmes needed "mercy."

Of course, the Steel Curtain also needed a defensive end.

Either way, the lines had officially been blurred and the Pittsburgh Paradox had begun.

Pittsburgh, of course, went on to win four Super Bowls in the 1970s. It was a dynasty like no other that included some of the greatest, baddest football teams ever assembled. Pictures from this era dot the inner hallways of the team's practice facility and, if you're not careful you will get lost while gazing at floor-to-ceiling photos that feature Jack Lambert growling above a prostrate Fran Tarkenton.

The end of the Steelers amazing run in the 1970s came a full decade before the NFL banned steroids. Nevertheless, there has been wide-spread speculation that the first part of the Steelers dynasty is tainted in some way by the fact that it helped popularize steroid use in the NFL. In the 1991 book "False Glory: The Steve Courson Story" the former Steelers offensive lineman wrote that 75% of the offensive linemen on the Steelers Super Bowl teams in the late 1970s had used steroids.

Steroid use was, after all, not banned by the league at the time and I wonder if the spotlight has fallen on the Steelers largely because they were so damn good. Not everyone agrees, though. "It started, really, in Pittsburgh," Jim Haslett said in 2005 while coaching the New Orleans Saints. "They got an advantage on a lot of football teams. They were so much stronger (in the) '70s, late '70s, early '80s. They're the ones who kind of started it."

The Steelers challenged this statement, of course, but the ramifications -- and suspicions -- linger. A 2009 investigation by ESPN into the Steelers history with performance-enhancing drugs found an alarming number of former players suffering from heart ailments. "Even if there is no pattern or clue linking the deaths to steroids," wrote the article's author Mike Fish, "since 2000, 17 former Steelers have died before they reached the age of 59."

That list includes former Steelers guard Terry Long who tried to kill himself with rat poison after testing positive for steroids in 1991. He died in 2005 after drinking antifreeze. A year before Long died Steelers offensive linemen Justin Strzelczyk was killed in a fiery head-on collision with a tanker truck after leading New York state troopers on a 40-mile chase. Hall of Fame center Mike Webster died from heart failure in 2002 at the age of 50, tormented by years of dementia, drug use and homelessness.

At the heart of Fish's 2009 investigation was the revelation in 2007 that Dr. Richard Rydze, a longtime member of the Steelers medical staff, had been questioned by federal authorities after supposedly using a personal credit card to purchase six-figures worth of human growth hormone. According to published reports Rydze said that he purchased the HGH for his elderly patients. His ties to the team were cut four months after his name was identified in news reports. There was no proof that Rydze ever provided the drug to players.

This incident was followed by off-the-field problems involving, among others, Santonio Holmes, Jeff Reed and Roethlisberger. Holmes was traded to the Jets before the season and Reed was cut in November. Among the many admirable qualities of the Steelers, and, especially the Rooney family, is the club's habit of cutting loose troublemakers in a league normally governed by a sliding scale of morality.

Winning cures everything, no doubt. Especially in the NFL.... If you're trying to draw attention away from your dark side, seven shiny Lombardi trophies will probably do the trick.

MGMT - "It's Working" (2010)

Early MGMT, filmed on 4/20/03 at Wesleyan University, a private liberal arts college located in Middletown, Connecticut.

Smash Shit! (Video)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Capitals Lose to Rangers in Shootout

The last time the teams met, on Dec. 12 in New York, the Rangers rolled to a 7-0 win. In this one, the Capitals cranked up the defense and took a 1-0 lead in the second period on a goal by Matt Hendricks.

It was the seventh goal of the season for Hendricks, his second in two games.

But Marian Gaborik tied it for the injury-riddled Rangers with 6:41 left in regulation. Gaborik was in front of the net when Brian Boyle took a shot, and the rebound bounced off Gaborik and past Holtby.

"I felt it hit me and then I turned away and saw the guys celebrating," Gaborik said. "I didn't have any idea. I guess it was one of the lucky ones."

That ricochet forced overtime, where the Capitals pushed to ensure a second point on the night, but they couldn't prevent the game from heading to the shootout.

Washington lost its seventh consecutive overtime game and ninth in the last 10 despite outshooting the Rangers 6-1 in the extra five minutes.

Martin Biron made several sensational saves in overtime, including one on a blast by Alex Ovechkin, who was held without a point.

Braden Holtby put forth another solid outing in his seventh NHL start. He made 28 saves against the Rangers and has stopped 87 of 90 shots in three consecutive starts since Jan. 20.

Washington managed to capture at least one point for the fifth straight game but missed out on the valuable addition of another and through 50 games, the Capitals have 63 points - two behind Tampa Bay for the Southeast Division lead.

**New York, which is second in the NHL with 805 blocked shots on the season, got in front of 18 attempted shots by the Capitals on Monday.

**Washington is the first team in NHL history with four or more wins from three different goaltenders aged 22 or younger. In holding the opposition to one goal for the third straight time, Holtby lowered his GAA to 2.47 on the season and raised his save pct. to .908.

**Boudreau said he did not expect any of Washington's injured players - including Alexander Semin, Tom Poti, Matt Bradley and Michal Neuvirth - to return prior to the all-star break.

Javale McGee's Top 5 Dunks

Sunday, January 23, 2011

NFL Playoffs: AFC Championship

Pittsburgh  24 : 19  New York
The Steelers (14-4) ended the Jets' season with a dominant first half for a 24-3 edge. Rashard Mendenhall ran for 95 of his 121 yards and a touchdown before halftime. New York (13-6) failed for the fourth time in the AFC title game since 1969, when they won their last championship. The Steelers are regulars in the Super Bowl, with titles for the 2005 and 2008 teams, both led by Ben Roethlisberger and a fierce defense.

NFL Playoffs: NFC Championship

Green Bay  21 : 14  Chicago
It was the 182nd meeting in the league's most historic rivalry. Aaron Rodgers ran for a score and threw for 244 yards with two interceptions -- a disappointment, given how well he had played lately. But he played well enough to keep the Bears off balance, and the Packers' superb defense took care of the rest.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Berlusconi's Sexcapades

"Nobody expects Mr. Berlusconi to be sent to prison in this case: his lawyers in the past have shown virtuoso skill in spinning out trials and appeals until they are killed by the statute of limitations. But what casts a new and dark shadow on Mr. Berlusconi is the seediness of the charge, combined with the unprecedented confidence of the prosecutors."
The claims, contained in 300 pages of legal documents, provide details for the first time of the so-called "bunga-bunga" parties that a teenage Moroccan nightclub dancer said she witnessed last year at the prime minister's mansion at Arcore, outside Milan.

Prosecutors are investigating whether Mr. Berlusconi paid for sex with the then 17-year-old girl, Karima El Mahroug, who gave herself the stage name of Ruby Rubacuori, or "Ruby the Heart Stealer". Paying for sex with a woman under the age of 18 is a crime in Italy and Mr Berlusconi faces a prison sentence of up to three years if the allegations are proved. Prosecutors want to interview him this week and insist that he face trial immediately.

Mr. Berlusconi tried to stem the flood of revelations by having his lawyers round up other participants in the parties and get them to agree that none had had sex with him, and that the parties were innocuous. But three participants escaped their net, and it is their evidence that is crucially damaging for the PM.

The 74-year-old prime minister allegedly kept up to 14 women in apartments in Milano II, a housing estate he built on the outskirts of Milan in the 1970s. Police allegedly found sex toys, gifts of expensive jewellery and envelopes stuffed with 20,000 euros (£16,800) in cash in the flats. Mr. Berlusconi, who defeated a parliamentary no confidence vote last month, said at the weekend that the investigation was a politically-motivated attempt to destroy him by Left-wing prosecutors.

He said: "We face the umpteenth attempt to throw mud on my person and my institutional position, in the illusory attempt to eliminate me from the political scene. But this time they have exceeded all limits."

More information:
» June 2009: Banquet Orgy and Blackmail Plot
» Nov 2010: Underage Nightclub Dancer Spills the Beans

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Gramophonedzie - "Why Don't You" (2010)

Gramophonedzie, or Marko Miličević, is a Serbian DJ from Belgrade. He started his career in the year 2000 as participant at the Irish RedBull Music Academy. He won the 2010 MTV Europe Music Award for Best Adriatic Act.

"Why Don't You" is a single released February 28, 2010 that topped the UK dance chart for a while. It samples Peggy Lee's 1947 version of the 1936 song "Why Don't You Do Right?"

Johnny Cash & Bob Dylan

"In plain terms, Johnny was and is the North Star; you could guide your ship by him—the greatest of the greats then and now... Truly he is what the land and country is all about, the heart and soul of it personified and what it means to be here; and he said it all in plain English. I think we can have recollections of him, but we can't define him any more than we can define a fountain of truth, light and beauty." -Bob Dylan
Johnny Cash was one of the real characters of 20th century American music. His personality and talent helped him find fans across musical genres, inspiring artists in country, blues, indie rock, alt rock and even hip-hop. During his long career spanning more than 50 years, he released well over 70 albums, including more than 50 studio albums. Cash struggled with poverty, the death of his older brother, drug addiction, alcohol abuse, stays in numerous jails around the US on various charges, illness, political and professional controversies, and finally the death of his adored wife June Carter Cash.

Bob Dylan is one of the most important singer-songwriters of the era of recorded, commercially available music. His lyrics are a yardstick against which aspiring young singer-songwriters measure themselves. He broke seemingly unbreakable rules, and he did so with stalwart passion and uncompromising honesty. He incorporated musical traditions from a diverse range of genres, from blues, country and gospel to jazz, swing and musical theater, as well as integrating rock & roll and rockabilly with traditional celtic folk music.

The two eventually met at the 1964 Newport Folk Fest where they both appeared on the bill—Cash the seasoned country legend, Dylan the fresh new star. The two spent the evening in Cash's hotel room with June Carter Cash, Joan Baez, Jack Elliot, and others. In a legendary moment, Cash pulled Dylan aside and handed him his Martin as a gift, a traditional gesture of honor among country musicians.

Dylan and Cash were huge mutual inspirations, each covering the other's songs accordingly. The first nod came in 1965, when Cash recorded his version of “It Ain't Me, Babe” for his album Orange Blossom Special. Then, following his 1966 motorcycle accident, Dylan and The Band spent a good portion of the next year in Saugerties, NY, recording over 100 tracks for what became The Basement Tapes. Among the cover songs stuffed on the reels, Cash's presence looms large with Dylan covering “Belshazzar,” “Big River” and “Folsom Prison Blues.”

Duets were also a staple of the Cash/Dylan fraternity, and filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker captured the two dynamos caterwauling backstage on a couple piano duets during Dylan's 1966 tour. You can catch a clip of Pennebaker's rare footage of them stumbling through “I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry” in Martin Scorcese's 2005 film, No Direction Home.

Dylan recorded most of his first all-country record, Nashville Skyline, on February 13-14, 1969 in Nashville. At the wrap-up sessions on February 17-18, Cash—who'd been recording at the studio next door—dropped in to visit, and ended up spending two days there, recording what's become known as the Bob Dylan/Johnny Cash Sessions. The crème of the session, a duet of “Girl from the North Country,” was included as the opening track to Nashville Skyline, which also featured liner notes written by Cash. During his stay in Nashville, Dylan also ended up writing “Wanted Man” for Cash—a song the Man in Black would debut live to a cafeteria full of California inmates a week later at San Quentin penitentiary.

More information:
» Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan's Relationship
» Rolling Stone: Johnny Cash Biography

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Lemon Demon - "The Ultimate Showdown" (2005)

"The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny", often shortened to "The Ultimate Showdown", is a comical song and video released on December 7, 2005. The song was written and performed by Neil Cicierega under the pseudonym "Lemon Demon", with art and Flash animation by Shawn Vulliez.

The work features many famous real and fictional characters, largely taken from pop culture of the 1980s and 1990s, in a huge brawl where "...only one will survive". It gained a large cult following among web enthusiasts and became the "user's choice" on December 28, 2005 on Newgrounds where it has been viewed over 11.7 million times.

The End of the World (Video)

This was released on Albino Blacksheep on October 30, 2003. Animation by Fluid. If the video stops working, check it out at

Monday, January 10, 2011

HAARP & Ionosphere Research

The High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) is a congressionally initiated program jointly managed by the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy. The program's goal is to provide a state-of-the-art U.S. owned ionospheric research facility readily accessible to U.S. scientists from universities, the private sector and government. This facility would be the most advanced in the world and would attract international scientists and foster cooperative research efforts. The program's purpose is to provide a research facility to conduct pioneering experiments in ionospheric phenomena. The data obtained from the proposed research would be used to analyze basic ionospheric properties and to assess the potential for developing ionospheric enhancement technology for communications and surveillance purposes.

The layer of the earth's atmosphere called the ionosphere begins approximately 30 miles above the surface and extends upward to approximately 620 miles. In contrast to the layers of the atmosphere closer to the earth, which are composed of neutral atoms and molecules, the ionosphere contains both positively and negatively charged particles known as ions and electrons. These ions and electrons are created naturally by radiation from our sun.

The ionized gas in the ionosphere behaves much differently from the neutral atmosphere closer to the earth. A major difference is that although radio signals pass through the lower atmosphere undistorted, the signals directed through the ionosphere may be distorted, totally reflected or absorbed. For example, communication links from the ground to earth-orbiting satellites can experience fading due to ionospheric distortion; an AM radio signal sometimes can reflect, or "skip", off the ionosphere and be heard at locations hundreds of miles distant from the broadcasting radio station; the characteristic fading on the high-frequency (HF) or "shortwave" band is due to ionospheric interference. Because of its strong interaction with radio waves, the ionosphere also interferes with U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) communications and radar surveillance systems, which depend on sending radio waves from one location to another.

Ionospheric disturbances at high latitudes also can act to induce large currents in electric power grids; these are thought to cause power outages. Understanding of these and other phenomena is important to maintain reliable communication and power services. HAARP is needed to continue and expand basic research efforts on the properties and potential uses of the ionosphere for enhanced communications and surveillance. To meet the project's research objectives, the HAARP facility would utilize powerful, high frequency (HF) transmissions and a variety of associated observational instruments to investigate naturally occurring and artificially induced ionospheric processes that support, enhance or degrade the propagation of radio waves.

Investigations conducted at the HAARP facility are expected to provide significant scientific advancements in understanding the ionosphere. The research facility would be used to understand, simulate and control ionospheric processes that might alter the performance of communications and surveillance systems. This research would enhance present civilian and DOD capabilities because it would facilitate the development of techniques to mitigate or control ionospheric processes.

Civilian applications from the program's research could lead to improved local and world-wide communications such as satellite communication. Furthermore, and possibly more significant is the potential for new technology that could be developed from a better understanding of ionospheric processes.

A potential DOD application of the research is to provide communications to submerged submarines. These and many other research applications are expected to greatly enhance present DOD technology.

There are several HF transmitters located throughout the world which conduct research similar to that proposed by HAARP. However, no facility, located either in the U.S. or elsewhere, has the transmitting capability needed to address the broad range of research goals which HAARP proposes to study. The most capable HF transmitters currently operating are located in Russia and Norway and have effective radiated powers (ERP) of roughly one billion watts (1 gigawatt). One gigawatt of ERP represents an important threshold power level, allowing significant radio wave generation and analysis of key ionospheric phenomena. The HAARP facility is designed to have an ERP above one gigawatt. This would elevate the United States to owning and operating the world's most capable ionospheric research instrument.

Evans, Williams to Enter NFL Draft

Virginia Tech tailback Ryan Williams, who had two years of eligibility remaining, will enter the 2011 NFL draft, the school announced on Sunday.

On Thursday, Virginia Tech leading rusher Darren Evans also announced he would forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft. Together, Williams and Evans combined for 1,331 yards and 20 touchdowns this year.

"After sitting down with family, I’ve decided to declare for the NFL Draft," Evans said. "I felt like this is the best opportunity for me and my family. This was a tough decision because Virginia Tech was good to me and my family and I had fun. I was blessed to play at Virginia Tech and at that level of football. I have plans to graduate and I will, but the NFL has always been a dream so it’s hard to pass it up right now."

Evans played in 28 games for the Hokies, starting 18. After redshirting in 2007, Evans had a monster year as a redshirt freshman. He rushed for 1,265 yards and 11 touchdowns to earn first-team All-ACC accolades and ACC Rookie of the Year honors. He capped off the season with 153 rushing yards in the Orange Bowl win over Cincinnati to earn the game’s MVP award. He suffered a setback in the preseason of 2009, tearing his ACL in practice and thus missed the entire season. This year, he came back and led the team with 854 yards and 11 touchdowns as the Hokies won the ACC title.

Williams declined to have a press conference and coach Frank Beamer was at the annual coaches' convention and unavailable for comment.

"It came down to what I felt like was the best decision for me," Williams said in a prepared statement. "When they say you have the potential to be a first rounder, that's something that's hard to pass up. This has been my dream since I was six, and I've never wanted to do anything else. This is an opportunity to help out my family and especially my brother."

Williams played in 23 games for the Hokies, starting 18. Williams had a record-setting year as a redshirt freshman in 2009. He rushed for 1,655 yards and 21 touchdowns to earn first-team All-ACC accolades and ACC Rookie of the Year honors. He capped off the season with 117 rushing yards in the Chick-fil-A Bowl win over Tennessee to earn the game's Offensive MVP award. He missed several games this year due to a hamstring injury and finished with 477 yards and nine touchdowns.

For his career, he rushed for 2,132 yards and 30 touchdowns. His yardage total is the 14th-most in school history.

"There is no other place I'd rather play and there are no other fans I'd rather have than Virginia Tech fans," Williams said. "They are the most loyal fans in the country. They were with me all the way, both when I was up and when I was down, and I thank them for making my time here so special. I hope they won't be mad about my decision, but I hope they know that I'll always be a Hokie."