Thursday, May 3, 2007


Human skull found boiling in pot in Chicago apartment but it's OK: cops

Published: Thursday, May 3, 2007 | 12:48 AM ET

CHICAGO (AP) - Four human skulls were discovered in a Chicago man's apartment, one boiling in a pot of water, but authorities said charges aren't likely.

"It doesn't seem to be anything nefarious at this time," police Lt. Perry Nigro said. The 26-year-old owner of the skulls makes anatomical models for a living and appeared to be using them for medical purposes, Nigro said. "As weird as it is, it doesn't seem like anything is wrong," Nigro said.

Police searched the apartment after someone who wanted to buy a mannequin in the home visited late Tuesday and saw the skulls on a porch and inside, with one boiling on the stove.

The man left and called police, Nigro said.

The skulls were turned over to the Cook County medical examiner's office, Nigro said.

The skulls' owner told authorities he imported them legally from China.

Email the Library

British Library to launch email archive

Last Updated: 7:28am BST 03/05/2007

  • Send an email to the British Library
  • Millions of emails are to be stored at the British Library in a unique project to preserve present day communications for future generations, it was announced today.

    Microsoft is joining forces with the library to collect a million entries for the "email Britain" archive.

    Emails have become the main form of communication for many people, and the idea is to capture blunders, complaints, humour, romance and other topics.

    John Tuck, the head of British Collections at the British Library, said: "Email has, in many respects, replaced traditional forms of communications such as letters or memoranda. In the digital age, email has become prevalent in our day-to-day lives. Email Britain will allow us to archive a vast snapshot of our present-day communications and will be of great value for future researchers.

    "Digital archiving of email has never been attempted before on this scale and we're very excited to be capturing such a rich slice of contemporary life."

    People are being asked to forward an email to from their inbox or "sent" mail that represents life as they see it today.

    Monday, April 30, 2007

    Hero debate

    They asked on Heroes this week if we thought "Sylar could ever be stopped?"

    I say, Of course! I mean, anyone who's ever read a comic book knows the bad guy's going down! You just gotta find his kryptonit:)

    Family Wars

    "Family Guy" Creator Seth MacFarlane at Celebration IV!
    April 25, 2007

    Special Star Wars Episode Sneak Peek

    [ [
    Seth MacFarlane, the creator and executive producer of the Fox hit animated series, "Family Guy," is scheduled to appear at Star Wars Celebration IV at the Los Angeles Convention Center. MacFarlane, recognized as one of the youngest artists ever to create a television series, also voices many of the show's most beloved characters, including Peter, Stewie, Quagmire, and Brian.

    This fall, MacFarlane and Fox will air a special one hour "Family Guy" episode that's a tribute to the Star Wars Saga as unique as only MacFarlane and his talented team of writers can make it. Fans at Celebration IV will be treated to a first look at parts of the episode, called Blue Harvest, and will have the opportunity to hear about it from MacFarlane and members of his team.

    MacFarlane and the writers of the show have often riddled "Family Guy" with Star Wars references, but the coming episode will be all about the galaxy far, far away . . . from a "Family Guy" point of view. Joining MacFarlane on stage will be "Family Guy" Executive Producer David A. Goodman, Director Dominic Polcino, and writer Alec Sulkin. The group will talk about their experiences creating the show, as well as the upcoming Star Wars episode. After their onstage interview, it will be the audience's turn to speak up in a special question and answer session.

    Seth MacFarlane began his career studying animation and design at the Rhode Island School of Design, where he created the animated short film The Life of Larry. Executives at Fox recognized MacFarlane's talent and gave him a shot to create a primetime animated series of his own. Over the next six months, MacFarlane created, animated, wrote, directed and provided all the main male characters' voices for what became "Family Guy." He delivered the first seven-minute short in May, 1998, and just weeks later it was picked up.

    MacFarlane has received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance for his role as Stewie Griffin, and "Family Guy" has garnered two nominations for Outstanding Animated Series. In 2002, he also received an Emmy for Outstanding Music and Lyrics for "Family Guy."

    DDR PE

    P.E. Classes Turn to Video Game That Works Legs


    MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Children don’t often yell in excitement when they are let into class, but as the doors opened to the upper level of the gym at South Middle School here one recent Monday, the assembled students let out a chorus of shrieks.

    In they rushed, past the Ping-Pong table, past the balance beams and the wrestling mats stacked unused. They sprinted past the ghosts of Gym Class Past toward two TV sets looming over square plastic mats on the floor. In less than a minute a dozen seventh graders were dancing in furiously kinetic union to the thumps of a techno song called “Speed Over Beethoven.”

    Bill Hines, a physical education teacher at the school for 27 years, shook his head a little, smiled and said, “I’ll tell you one thing: they don’t run in here like that for basketball.”

    It is a scene being repeated across the country as schools deploy the blood-pumping video game Dance Dance Revolution as the latest weapon in the nation’s battle against the epidemic of childhood obesity. While traditional video games are often criticized for contributing to the expanding waistlines of the nation’s children, at least several hundred schools in at least 10 states are now using Dance Dance Revolution, or D.D.R., as a regular part of their physical education curriculum.

    Based on current plans, more than 1,500 schools are expected to be using the game by the end of the decade. Born nine years ago in the arcades of Japan, D.D.R. has become a small craze among a generation of young Americans who appear less enamored of traditional team sports than their parents were and more amenable to the personal pursuits enabled by modern technology.

    Incorporating D.D.R. into gym class is part of a general shift in physical education, with school districts de-emphasizing traditional sports in favor of less competitive activities.

    “Traditionally, physical education was about team sports and was very skills oriented,” said Chad Fenwick, who oversees physical education for the Los Angeles Unified School District, where about 40 schools now use Dance Dance Revolution. “What you’re seeing is a move toward activities where you don’t need to be so great at catching and throwing and things like that, so we can appeal to a wider range of kids.”

    A basic D.D.R. system, including a television and game console, can be had for less than $500, but most schools that use the game choose to spend from $70 to $800 each for more robust mats, rather than rip apart the relatively flimsy versions meant for home use.

    In a study last year, researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., found that children playing Dance Dance Revolution expended significantly more energy than children watching television and playing traditional video games. West Virginia, which ranks among the nation’s leaders in obesity, diabetes and hypertension, has sponsored its own study and has taken the lead in deploying the game, which requires players to dance in ever more complicated and strenuous patterns in time with electronic dance music.

    As a song plays, arrows pointing one of four directions — forward, back, left, right — scroll up the screen in various sequences and combinations, requiring the player to step on corresponding arrows on a mat on the floor. Players can dance by themselves, with a partner or in competition. (Though the game, which is made by Konami of Japan, began in arcades, it is now most commonly played on Sony’s PlayStation 2 and Microsoft’s Xbox game consoles.)

    As a result of a partnership among West Virginia’s Department of Education, its Public Employees Insurance Agency and West Virginia University, the state has committed to installing the game in all 765 of its public schools by next year. Almost all of its 185 middle schools already use it.

    The mastermind behind the project is Linda M. Carson, Ware distinguished professor at West Virginia University’s School of Physical Education and director of the state’s Motor Development Center.

    “I was in a mall walking by the arcade and I saw these kids playing D.D.R., and I was just stunned,” she said. “There were all these kids dancing and sweating and actually standing in line and paying money to be physically active. And they were drinking water, not soda. It was a physical educator’s dream.”

    In February, Ms. Carson and her main collaborator, Emily Murphy, a doctoral candidate at the university’s School of Medicine, announced results of a multiyear study. They found significant health benefits for overweight children who played the game regularly, including improved blood pressure, overall fitness scores and endothelial function, which reflects the arteries’ ability to deliver oxygen.

    None of that would come as a surprise to Maureen Byrne, mother of two boys in Chesterfield, Mo., who introduced the game to her local school district after seeing its impact on one of her sons.

    “My oldest son, Sean, used to have love handles; he was kind of pudgy, and I’ll be honest: we were worried about it,” she said. “We had heard of D.D.R., and I got it for him for his birthday. We put limits on the other video games he plays, but we told him he could play D.D.R. as much as he wanted. And now it’s like he’s a different kid. He’s playing sports and running, and we see D.D.R. as like his bridge to a more active lifestyle.”

    Ms. Byrne and her family demonstrated the game for the local parent-teacher organization in the hope of convincing it to underwrite a test at school.

    “I remember going to the P.T.O. meeting and getting in front of all of them without my shoes on and doing the moves, and that was kind of funny,” said Sean, now a 12-year-old sixth grader.

    Today, eight schools in the Parkway School District, based in Chesterfield, have their own D.D.R. systems, and three other game systems circulate among various schools in the district, said Ron Ramspott, the district coordinator of health and physical education.

    “Our teachers are really buying into D.D.R. as a way to promote both physical health and learning,” he said. “When you’re playing the game you really have to process the information and then also do the moves physically, so we think it can help with brain development as well.”

    As Leighton Nakamoto, a physical education teacher at Kalama Intermediate School in Makawao, Hawaii, put it: “The new physical education is moving away from competitive team sports and is more about encouraging lifetime fitness, and D.D.R. is a part of that. They can do it on their own, and they don’t have to compete with anyone else.”

    Mr. Nakamoto said that he had used the game in class for four years and that his school had also installed the game in its “Active Lifestyle” room, where students are allowed and encouraged to play in their free time.

    Dave Randall, the educational specialist for coordinated school health for the Hawaii Department of Education, said Hawaii was trying to put together a program like West Virginia’s to get the game into all of the state’s 265 public schools over the next three years.

    Back in West Virginia, Anna Potter, 12, and Mikayla Leombruno, 13, were not concerned about all of the academic theories as they shimmied and bounced to the beat in Mr. Hines’s gym class.

    “I like that you get to listen to music and you don’t have to be on a team or go anywhere special to play,” Anna said after their song. “If you do baseball or basketball, people get really competitive about it.”

    Mikayla chimed in, “And you don’t have to be good at it to get a good workout.”
    Salvation: Just click and confess
    Confession websites have become popular places to post your sins -- or to read about the transgressions of others.

    A woman kept her secret for nearly two decades.

    Finally ready to confess, she turned not to a minister, but to her computer.

    ''I am sorry God for not keeping that baby,'' her anonymous confession reads. ``I had an abortion and had kept that secret for over 18 years. I feel so ashamed. Please forgive me!''

    The confession appears at, a website launched by the Flamingo Road Church in Cooper City. It's one of a growing number of such sites across the country -- some secular and others church-sponsored -- that offer a place to spill out ugly secrets or just make peccadilloes public.

    ''I think it helps people understand . . . that we're not here to point out people's screw-ups, that we're here to help them,'' said lead Pastor Troy Gramling, whose nondenominational church launched the site on Easter weekend. ``The church is made of skin and flesh and people that have made mistakes.''

    The 6,500-member church created the site as part of a 10-week series on the ways people mess up -- in marriage, parenting, finances and more. The goal of the series is to help congregants learn from their mistakes.

    1,000 HITS A DAY

    So far, more people are reading the confessions than posting them. The site gets about 1,000 hits a day, with about 200 online admissions.

    Lust, pornography and a litany of sexual transgressions top the sinners' hit parade. Theft, lying and alcohol abuse also make frequent appearances.

    One person confesses: ''I have done enough drugs to make Keith Richards envious!!!!!'' Another admits wishing death on her enemies.

    The posts are poignant and heartbreaking and occasionally frightening, like the accounts of teenagers ravaged by eating disorders and others who have contemplated suicide.

    A 23-year-old man who posted on the site told a reporter in a telephone interview that he was struck by how many people wanted to spill their ``dirty little secret.''

    ''I think there's a feeling that you're not the only one that's out there that has messed up before and there's other people,'' said the man, who declined to reveal anything about himself or his confession.

    The Miami Herald contacted the church, seeking confessors, but found none willing to be identified in print.

    The 23-year-old who gave the interview said he is a Protestant who doesn't belong to the church but was turned on to the website by a friend who is a member. ''It was very cathartic,'' he said.

    The anonymity of the site is key to its appeal. He said he hadn't turned to anyone in his church about the confession he posted and wasn't sure whether he would feel comfortable.

    ''When you don't know someone, you can't trust them; it takes time,'' he said.

    Online confessionals are a natural outgrowth of Internet chat rooms ''where people have this habit of telling secrets to strangers,'' as well as blogs and MySpace pages, said Janet Sternberg, associate chairwoman of the Department of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University in New York.

    ''Online was made for this stuff,'' Sternberg said. ``It's the perfect environment for people telling secrets anonymously.'', an evangelical church that broadcasts services to 11 locations, including one in Palm Beach County, started the site nearly a year ago.

    More than 6,000 people have posted confessions and millions more have logged on to read the stories, said Bobby Gruenewald, pastor and innovation leader at


    The church has received some criticism, Gruenewald said, from people who think that ``we're trying to encourage people to confess to a computer instead of God. We just believe it is a catalyst to have people open up to family and friends and God. I think sometimes it can be misunderstood.''

    A recent redesign gave readers the option to post prayers or responses to the confessions.

    The Catholic Church is among those who reject the idea of confessing online.

    Confession is ''the opportunity to confess sins to someone ordained as a priest who is a representative of Christ,'' said Mary Ross Agosta, a spokeswoman for the Miami Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church.

    The websites, with their voyeuristic appeal, may fulfill people's need to feel better about their own behavior or moral values.

    'What makes it so popular is not so much the people confessing but people going to read all these things, saying, `My life's not so bad,' '' said Greg Fox, who runs the site

    ``It's kind of the car wreck you're driving by. You can't help but watch. It's kind of the car wreck of life.''

    Fox started the site in 2000 while he was working as a writer, producer and director for The Walt Disney Co. The launch was ''my therapy,'' he said.

    ''Everything was pixie dust and fun and nice and nothing bad ever happens,'' he said. The site, which averages about 1.3 million hits a day, was ''my way of getting back in touch with reality,'' he said.

    People have written on the site about contemplating suicide and abusive relationships, and Fox said he has tried to give those people the resources to get help. Others have threatened the president, prompting Fox to call the U.S. Secret Service.

    He reviews all of the posts before they make it to cyberspace and has a backlog of about 4,000 confessions. Fox said the confessions are completely anonymous and that he has no way of tracing them.

    'What I hear is it's a lot easier to tell the `truth' in complete anonymity. You can get feedback and find out you're not so weird. You're not the only one who feels that way or has this phobia.''

    MS and Inigo Mantoya

    Mandy Patinkin participated in a 75 to 150 mile bike ride for charity to support the National Multiple Sclerosis Society with cast mates from Criminal Minds, including Thomas Gibson & Shermar Moore! Go CM team! "Mandy likes to convince you that he's an old geezer. He's not." - Moore
    Thanks to everyone, especially you, Graham, for putting their hearts, money, and bodies on the line for this cause!