Michael Jackson's "Thriller" - The Original

Happy Halloween!!  To celebrate, this week I'll be presenting your with covers of an awesome Halloween tune - "Thriller" by Michael Jackson.

To start this off, here's the original music video.  Enjoy!


Happy Halloween!!!

Best Parent/Child Costumes (3-way tie)




Bonus Halloween Treat


Freaky Friday News: October 28, 2016

Giant Hotspot Found in Ireland

The skeleton of Charles Byrne, next to the skeleton of a normal-sized man
Back in the 1780s, a man known as the Irish Giant showed up in London to work at the Cox Museum as what we would call a carnival freak.  He died in 1783 at the young age of 22.  Side note:  his bone growth was that of a 17 year old, showing he would have continued to grow had he lived longer.  He was already just over 7 ft. 7 in. tall.

The Irish Giant, a man called Charles Byrne, was originally from Mid Ulster, in Northern Ireland.  Recently, scientists discovered why Charles Byrne and a large-than-normal percentage of  people from Mid Ulster grow abnormally tall.  It turns out that 1 in 150 people possess a gene defect that causes a noncancerous tumor to grow in the pituitary gland, increasing the amount of growth hormones produced, causing acromegaly or gigantism.

Mid Ulster district in Northern Ireland
The area in red is Mid Ulster, Northern Ireland.

To put this in perspective, 1 in 1,000 people in Belfast have this gene defect, while 1 in 2,000 people have it in the rest of Ireland.  Mind you, not everyone with the gene defect develops gigantism, about 80% are merely carriers with no symptoms.  It's the other 20% that need treatment.

From what we know, around 2,500 years ago someone living in the Mid Ulster area developed a mutation in his or her genes for this particular gene defect.  All the people with this gene defect in Mid Ulster living today are descended from this person.

By the way, I'm calling this a gene defect because the official name is germline aryl hydrocarbon receptor interacting-protein mutation.



Should the U.S. Make Voting Mandatory?

One of the biggest general concerns about elections today is how to get more people to actually vote.  The United States has one of the lowest turnout rates in the world, not a good position for a country who sees itself as a proponent of democracy.  I believe that not allowing people to register on the day of an election, as well as the fact that elections are held on Tuesdays, contribute to this problem.  

But even if we stopped worrying about non-existent voter fraud, got rid of voter ID laws, moved elections to Saturday, and allowed same day registration, I wonder how many people would then vote.  Australia had a problem with voter turnout, so the government made voting mandatory.  Now, the country has an average of 91% of its citizens who vote every election.  

Can you imagine what would happen here if 91% of everyone turned up to vote?

So I ask you, do you think the U.S. should make voting mandatory?  

Should the U.S. make voting mandatory?

Yes
No
I don't know...
Poll Maker


Top 10 Reasons Why Trick-or-Treating is Better than Sex



10. Guaranteed to get at least a little something in the sack.
9. If you get tired, wait 10 minutes and go at it again.
8. The uglier you look, the easier it is to get some.
7. You don't have to compliment the person who gave you candy.
6. Person giving you candy doesn't fantasize you're someone else.
5. If you get a stomach ache, it won't last 9 months.
4. If you wear your Batman mask, no one thinks you're kinky.
3. Doesn't matter if kids hear you moaning and groaning.
2. Less guilt the next morning.

and, the #1 reason trick or treating is better than sex...

1. IF YOU DON'T GET WHAT YOU WANT, YOU CAN ALWAYS GO NEXT DOOR!

Friday "Hello" (25 Styles)


Halloween Countdown: 3 Days Left

Best Mutant Costume


Book Review: "Allegiance of Honor" by Nalini Singh

Allegiance of Honor (Psy-Changeling #15)Allegiance of Honor by Nalini Singh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"Allegiance of Honor" ties together all the threads of the first arc in this universe, puts a beautiful bow on them all, and sets up what I assume will be the second arc in this universe. For the rest of this review, I'll be writing about characters and events that occur in the first 14 books. If you have read them yet and you plan on it, be warned now.

There are several major questions left over from the previous stories:

  • What happened to all the major couples that we meet and get to know, including:
    • Sasha and Lucas
    • Sahara and Kaleb
    • Mercy and Riley
    • Hawk and Sienna
    • and everyone else...
  • How is Naya Hunter, Sasha and Lucas' daughter, doing as she grows up? Will she learn to shift into a black panther or a regularly colored leopard?
  • Will Mercy ever give birth? How many pupcubs will she and Riley have? How many will be wolves and how many will be leopards?
  • Will the Arrows be able to stay independent?
  • Will any of BlackSea's missing packmates be found?
  • Who are in the Consortium?
  • What are the Consortium's plans for the future?
  • Is the PsyNet finally stable and safe?
  • How are the Forgotten doing?
  • Will Xavier find his Nina?
Nalini Singh manages to answers these questions, plus may more in this massive book. She brings back just about everyone here, from children we've met in the Arrows to leopard soldier trainees to a previously lost Forgotten boy. When I first heard about how many characters and threads appear in "Allegiance of Honor", I wondered if Ms. Singh bit off more than she could chew. I mean, how do you include everyone and not end up with a hot mess?

Somehow, this Author Lord pulls it off, melding together the stories from everyone and introducing new plot bunnies. We get to learn more about BlackSea, how it works, and why all the water changelings formed one big pack in the first place. We also meet the new pupcubs (yes, they are FINALLY born), get insight into Sasha and Nikita's relationship, watch Hawk and Lucas as they act like brothers (though don't mention this to either one), and see Naya turn one, a huge birthday for a changeling as that coincides with a child's first change. There is just so much happening in this book. It's like a bunch of plot bunnies got together and did what plot bunnies do - multiply.

The biggest difference between "Allegiance of Honor" and the other Psy-Changeling books is that no new couples are introduced here. But honestly? There is enough romance in the existing couples that it's not an issue.

Overall, this book feels like a connecting book between the two story arcs. From Ms. Singh's newsletter, I believe that she intends to continue the series with a story arc focusing on:
  • how the world adjusts to the changes,
  • how the Psy cope with emotions,
  • whether the Trinity Accord holds up under scrutiny,
  • what will the Consortium do now, and
  • what will happen to Ming LeBon.
If you liked any of the first 14 books, I recommend reading "Allegiance of Honor". It is worth the time and cost.

View all my reviews

Tuesday "Hello" (Metal Cover)


Halloween Countdown: 6 Days Left

Best Twin Toddler Costumes


Monday "Hello" (Acoustic Cover)

Good morning!  I'm doing an experiment this week.  Adele's song "Hello" has spawned a number of amazing covers in diverse styles.  So each day this week, I'll be posting a cover of "Hello" in various styles.  First, it's my way of saying "Hello" to you every day.   Second, I think that different musical styles bring a different feel to the song, changing the interpretation.

Here's my favorite parred down version by half of Pomplamoose, Nataly Dawn.

Halloween Countdown: 7 Days Left

Greetings!  I decided to do a special Halloween countdown this year, featuring some of the awesome and creative costumes I've found on the web.

Today is the Best Costume for a Kid in a Wheelchair.


"Weird Al" Sings "Bad Hombres, Nasty Women"


Bluegrass cover of "The Lazy Song"


Freaky Friday News: October 21, 2016

Rome Graffiti

Street artist Mauro Pallotta created graffiti of the Pope as a graffiti artist.  Sadly, the Rome "Decor" police removed it with pressurized water already.
Credit Reuters


Britain Pardons Over 60,000 Men for Sex Crimes

Alan Turning, aged 16
This story begins in the 1950s with Alan Turing.  For those not familiar with him, Mr. Turing provided immeasurable service to Great Britain during World War II by decoding Germany's Enigma coding machine and acted as the head of the British signals intelligence agency.  For readers of science fiction, you might recognize the term "Turing test"; this is a test created by Mr. Turing to establish a baseline for artificial intelligence.

In 1952, Alan Turing was charged and convicted of "gross indecency" under section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885.  Why?  What could this man have done to deserve such a charge?  Mr. Turing publicly admitted to a homosexual relationship with another man.

It wasn't until the late 1960s that parts of the United Kingdom decriminalized sex between same sex partners; even then it took 15 years for the legal precedent to spread through the entire UK in the following laws:

  • Sexual Offenses Act of 1967 (Wales and England)
  • Criminal Justice Act 1980 (Scotland)
  • Homosexual Offences Order 1982 (Northern Ireland)
These laws made sex between two men aged 21 years or older legal.  It wasn't until the passage of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000 where the age of consent for heterosexual and homosexual people became 16.


To get back to the present, a new law has passed that pardons over 59,000 dead men of these types of crimes.  In a twist, the approximately 16,000 men still alive have to file paperwork to obtain their pardons.  It feels like the law almost makes the situation right, but fails in the end.  Dead men aren't effected by their convictions anymore, so the pardons feel hollow and falsely symbolic.  But those among the living need the pardons, yet these men need to jump through more hoops to clear their names.



First Look at the Nintendo Switch

OMG!  I'm really excited about this!  Admittedly, I'm not a huge console player, especially since I have an awesome PC for gaming.  But this looks like fun. :-)






Welcome to Asgardia!


Igor Ashurbeyli
Founder of Asgardia

On October 12, a group of men held a press conference in Paris, France to announce the formation on a new nation called Asgardia.  This nation will hopefully draw members from every other country on Earth, be dedicated to science and creativity, and, oh, yeah, it will be located in space!!!

Named after Asgard, one of the Nine Realms in Nordic mythology, Asgardia is the brainchild of Igor Ashurbeyli, a scientist and entrepreneur from Baku, Azerbaijan,  Ashurbeyli believes that we can create a new society in space without some of the problems plaguing current societies, focusing on the freedom of the individual, and allowing each citizen the opportunity to develop their creative spark to innovate space technologies.

The current goals for Asgardia are:

  • Get 100,000 registered citizens
  • Form a working government
  • Get a livable satellite into a low orbit
  • Get recognition from other countries
These goals reflect the larger goal of gaining recognition from the United Nations as a sovereign nation.  So far, almost 500,000 people have signed up to be citizens of Asgardia; and work is progressing on building and launching a satellite, with a tentative launch date in 2017.

The idea behind Asgardia of living in a man-made platform might sound like science fiction, but current technological advances have made outer space a viable living space.  The International Space Station provides an excellent example of how this can work.  Plus various organizations have been researching how limited human contact effect people's mental and emotional health. As for food, a variety of plants have already been grown in outer space:
  • Arabidopsis (Thale cress)
  • Mizuna lettuce
  • Super dwarf wheat
  • Apogey wheat
  • Brassica rapa
  • Rice
  • Tulips
  • Kalanchoe
  • Flax
  • Onions
  • Peas
  • Radishes
  • Garlic
  • Cucumbers
  • Dill
  • Parsley
  • Cinnamon basil
Overall, I think that Asgardia might be more than one man's dream; this new space nation has the potential to not only bring humans into outer space, but to act as a neutral party in the politics that will inevitably follow mankind wherever it goes.


Grecian Gambit: Chapter 1, Part 3

Credit:  My Life Through The Lens
The rest of the night passes like one of those surreal artsy movies. The firefighters kick everyone out of the bookstore, so we go over to the park in the downtown square. The EMTs look over women one at a time, and I think I’ve got the worst injury with a large, red burn mark on my leg where the spark from the extension cord landed.

Patti ignores me for the most part, but I chalk this up to her needing to watch over the bookstore. It turns out the women in the pink pantsuits are not only fans of my novels, but they have money. As an apology for knocking over the bookshelf (and starting the fire and getting me kind of electrocuted), they buy a copy of my new book for all the attendees. Then they want autographs from me and Apollo. I try to avoid looking at him because it wigs me out to see someone who I imagined walking around and talking to everyone.

Of course when I realize why I’m not looking at him, I have to take a look. Go figure.

Women surround him, almost panting as they wait for him to sign their books. I notice that most of the women get his signature first, before walking over to me for mine. I freak out a bit when I notice that his signature looks like my Apollo signature. Or, well, the signature I use when I’m pretending to be Apollo. In my writing.

Aargh!!! This is so confusing!

The police arrive a minute after the firefighters, but they have a lot of women to question and Ms. Patti to deal with, so I somehow get overlooked when they take statements. I thank the stars that I don’t have to explain my strange reaction to Apollo appearing. I catch snippets of conversations where women wonder how I could afford a model as handsome as Apollo. I ignore the jealousy and speculations because I don’t want to develop high blood pressure before I’m at least 30.

I finally escape the hordes, the flashing lights, and the crowd of women babbling about meeting the Apollo. Luckily, I live in a little house a block off the main square, so I slip past some bushes and walk home.

Or I try to walk home. I make it away from the commotion long enough to take a breath when I hear, ‘Hey, Cece! Wait up.”

I jump at the voice, but force myself not to turn around. “Why? You don’t really exist outside my head, so I don’t have to wait up because you’re already here.”

A warm hand lands on my shoulder, and this time I jump and turn around. “Really, Cece? Do I feel like an illusion?”

I look up and stare into his blue eyes. “You feel like a mass hallucination caused by Ms. Patti’s sweet tea. She probably added something ‘special’”, I make air quotes here, “to the drink to help me relax before the book signing.”

Apollo nods, “Okay, that explains why you can see me now.”

“Exactly,” I smile my brilliant logic.

“But,” Apollo adds, “that doesn’t explain why all the other women can see me now. Or why I can hold a pen and sign my name on all those books.” He opens his arms up as if inviting me to argue with him.

“The Apollo signature looks like I wrote it, not you,” I counter.

“Yes, because you created me and all of my aspects,” Apollo counters back. “And by the way, you have very nice handwriting. I appreciate having a signature that people can read.”

“I...I,” when the words ‘you created me’ make it through my brain, it decides that enough is enough.

I faint.

"Bad Romance" Reboxed


Book Review: "God No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales" by Penn Jillette

God, No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical TalesGod, No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales by Penn Jillette
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I first heard of "God, No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales", I wondered if Penn Jillette wrote the book himself or had a ghost writer take on the literary workload. But as I read the introduction, I realized I heard Penn's voice in my head, reciting the words to me as I went and that settled that question.

"God, No!" is an interesting book because it arose from a conversation Penn had with Glenn Beck, in which Mr. Beck challenged Penn to think about an atheist Ten Commandments. Penn divides this book in chapters representing his version of atheist Ten Commandments, with rambling bits and pieces of his life scattered in between as a conversation he has with the reader about why he believes as he does.

One of the most entertaining and thought-provoking sections of the book actually is the introduction. Penn discusses how he defines atheism with the phrase "I don't know", rebuts the claims that atheists must be arrogant and proud to pretend to know all the answers, and sets the tone for humorous but thought-provoking dialogue that follows in the rest of the book.

The good parts of "God No!" include all of the ramblings and story tellings as Penn shares his life with the reader. For being a self-described arrogant asshole, Penn comes across as a humble man with a bit more self-awareness that most people have.

The bad parts of this book include... nothing. A few times I wondered where a narrative was going, but in the end it was the rambling bits that I like the most.

Now I imagine that anyone who does not identify as an atheist might be offended at the title and concept behind "God No!" But before you decide not to read this, let me present the lines from the very beginning of the book:
If god (however you perceive him/her/it) told you to kill your child, would you do it?

If your answer is no, in my booklet you're an atheist. There is doubt in your mind. Love and morality are more important to you than your faith.

If your answer is yes, please reconsider.
If your answer is no, I strongly urge you to read this book. Whether or not you change your mind, I guarantee you an entertaining and thoughtful read.


View all my reviews

"Kiss" by Prince (Bluegrass Cover)


Odds & Ends: This Image Might Contain a Virus!



I'm sure you've heard of viruses and worms going around the Internet, but did you hear about the virus hidden in image files?

A long time ago, in a land far away, some creative programmer discovered that that early version of Internet Exploder Explorer allowed code in an image file to be executed. To be specific, the metadata (information about the image file that is never shown) can contain a larger amount of data than expected, causing a memory buffer overflow situation. Skilled programmers can inject a virus into that large data and place it in such a way that the OS will execute the code.

Suddenly, people had to worry about simply viewing an image sent to them in email or on a website. It took Microsoft several years to plug this particular security hole, and I think it still exists if you're running IE 5.0 or 5.5 (because these versions never got fixed).

Imagine, though, what you could do with a special picture that secretly runs code on a target computer. Bwahahahaha!!!

Monday Music: "Material Girl" as a Vintage 1920s Tune

I love the lead singer!!!  She sings, dances, taps, and plays the trombone.  I need that kind of energy on a Monday.


Freaky Friday News: October 14, 2016

source:  Gazeta OlsztyƄska

Poland Tries Out Glow-In-The-Dark Bike Path

On September 23rd, officials in Lidzbark Warminski, Poland, opened a new 328 ft, bike trial,   It's a different type of trail; in the daylight, it's a pastel blue color, but at night, the trail glows a lovely shade of blue.  You see, this trail, created by engineering company TPA Sp. z o.o., contains luminophores, which capture solar energy in the daytime so that it can glow up to 10 hours at night.

Why such a small bike trail?  At the moment, city officials want to observe how this material will react to differing weather patterns, different temperatures, wind, rain, traffic,...  If all goes well, there might be glowing bike trails all over Poland.

Maybe we can get some of them over here?

WHO Wants Country to Tax Sugary Drinks

This past week, the World Health Organization (WHO) suggested that countries implement a 20% tax on all sugary drinks. The reason? Sugary drinks are major contributors to obesity, diabetes, and other health problems; and WHO believes that a 20% tax will result in a 20% reduction in consumption of sugary drinks.

“We are now in a place where we can say there is enough evidence to move on this and we encourage countries to implement effective tax on sugar-sweetened beverages to prevent obesity,” stated Temo Waqanivalu, of WHO’s department of Noncommunicable Diseases and Health Promotion.

But this suggestion brings up questions about how far a government should go to regulate the health of society. The two major times I can recall the government intervening with the public over health matters deal with vaccines and cigarettes. Vaccines protect whole communities from nasty diseases, so I understand laws requiring them. I also understand the taxes on cigarettes, because second-hand smoking effects innocent bystanders.  Obesity and sugary drinks seem to only effect an individual person, not a group of people.  Of course, the key word in that statement is "seem".  I don't know if anyone has studied the secondary and tertiary effects of sugary drinks and obesity on a community.

Bob Dylan Wins the Nobel Prize for Literature

In a surprise announcement, the Swedish Academy on Thursday awarded the Nobel Literary Prize to Bob Dylan, for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

Mr. Dylan's hit songs include:

  • "Blowin' in the Wind"
  • "Mr. Tambourine Man"
  • "All Along the Watchtower"
  • "Like a Rolling Stone"





Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo

Okay, so I'm a child of the 80s because I not only remember Pat Benatar, but I know all the words to the songs she sings here even though I haven't heard any of them recently.  I even owned all of her albums on vinyl.

So here is "We Live for Love", "We Belong", and "Promises in the Dark".


Review: "World of Tomorrow"

"A little girl answers a video phone and begins an extraordinary journey of memory and discovery guided by her own clone 227 years in the future."
- Brief description from Netflix

That brief description tells you everything about this short film, and yet nothing about it.  The little girl is Emily, and she is quite young - maybe 4 or 5 years old.  Emily hears something from the family's video phone and plays with the button until a woman enters the screen and announces that she is the Emily's clone from the future.

I didn't have many expectation when I first watched "World of Tomorrow".  The characters are animated stick figures; the back ground are simple colors with random lines and circles.  When my husband suggested we watch this, I agreed more because I wanted to spend time with him than because I wanted to watch the film itself.

But by the time the film ended, I was on the verge of tears.  Not because "World of Tomorrow" is inherently sad, but because it mixes sadness and hope in such a way as to make the viewer both question the future and embrace the present.

All in 16 minutes.

If you have a short window of time, I highly recommend watching "World of Tomorrow".  Just make sure you have a tissue or two handy.

Monday Music: A 3-String Shovel??


Odds & Ends: An Interactive Graphic with Every Active Satellite Orbiting Earth



While it's easy to talk about satellites orbiting the earth, it's another thing to actually see the number of satellites up there. This post links to a website that has a good, interactive graphic showing all known satellites orbiting the earth divided up by their orbital height. 

To see how the satellites move in relation to each other, press 'Q' and press the space bar. Just be warned, it might melt your browser. :D

If you have a few minutes, I suggest you look around here. It's interesting even if you're not doing a sci fi book.

Freaky Friday News UPDATE 10/7/2016



I almost forgot - remember this picture of the multitude of women protesting the law banning abortions in Poland?

The protest worked.  Abortions are still legal in Poland.


Freaky Friday News: October 7, 2016


Pakistan Passes an Anti-Honor Killing Law

For those of us not living in Pakistan, the concept of an "honor killing" seems quite strange and barbaric.  In simple terms, an "honor killing" is an event where a person A (typically a male) murders someone in their family, let's call her person B (typically a female), claiming that person B caused their family dishonor and that the murder was needed to regain family honor.  Until recently, person A walk away from the murder a free man if he received forgiveness from all the other family members.

The parliament in Pakistan closed that legal loophole this week.  In ground-breaking legislation, parliament not only reaffirmed the illegality of the honor killing, but now forces the murderer to face either a life sentence in prison or a death sentence.  If all the other family members forgive the murderer, then the death sentence comes off the table.  That still seems strange to me, but as long as a murderer faces consequences for his actions, I'm okay with it.


Electronic Billboard Hacked; Shows a Porn Movie

Recently, someone in Jakarta, Indonesia played a practical joke on the public by hacking into an advertiser's computers and uploading a pornographic movie to play on an electronic billboard.  The billboard is located on a busy street corner in Jakarta, so a lot of people got a view before the police cut the power.


And this Week's Ewww Goes to...


McDonald's, for serving french fries with pumpkin and chocolate sauce in Japan.  Okay, so I know that people in different countries have different tastes, but McDonald's in an American business and they would never serve that over here.  Because, seriously?? That just sounds nasty.

Hurricane Warning


Book Review: "Hounded" by Kevin Hearne

Hounded (The Iron Druid Chronicles, #1)Hounded by Kevin Hearne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"Hounded" by Kevin Hearne introduces readers everywhere to Atticus O'Sullivan, a regular bookstore owner, tea drinker, hound-walking, 2,000 year old Druid. No, that is not a typo; he really is 2,000 years old! It seems that when the rest of the druids died out, Atticus found a way to survive, and he's been surviving every since.

Mr. Hearne creates a believable world in this book, gradually explaining things as the narrative goes so a reader never feels left out. And that takes some serious work, because on top of druids, "Hounded" features Celtic gods, witches, werewolves, and vampires. But never once did I think to myself, "Seriously? What's going on here?"

Mr. Hearne also presents believable characters; I felt like I could hold a conversation with Atticus or Oberon (his Irish wolfhound). The dialogue for the Widow MacDonagh sounds Irish, while Oberon sounds like a teenager and Atticus alternately sounds young and so very old (depending on how hard he is working to fit into modern society). Kevin Hearne is definitely a master at creating voices for his stories.

The plot of this first book in the Iron Druid series is quite simple; Atticus is hiding from Aengus Og, the Celtic god of love and a real jerk. After running for centuries, Atticus decides to make a stand. It's a simple decision, and yet the ramifications of this decision still effect him 7 books later.

I love this particular series; every book brings new adventures, personal growth, and interesting people. I cannot recommend the Iron Druid series enough, so I suggest you grab a copy of "Hounded" and prepare to spend several hours reading. :-)

This book earns a sold 5 our of 5 stars.

View all my reviews

Real Urban Camo


Bluegrass Cover of "Loser" by Beck

Here's some music to help make your Monday a bit happier.


Odds & Ends: Thermochromic Paint

Thermochromic paint is a type of paint that changes color due to the temperature of the painted object.   Either cold or warm temperature can trigger the color changes, though the heat-induced color changes are the more popular version.

I know that this doesn't sound exciting, but think about how awesome it would be to leave hidden messages to people using this type of paint.  In the desert, you can leave some messages that only show up in the daytime and some messages that only show up at night.

Maybe you can mark your evil lair with this paint - bwahahahaha!!!

To show the coolness of this paint, I've included a video of a motorcycle as it warms up.

Later!

Lost...