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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Blind man has déjà vu, busting a myth
Case study contradicts theory of optical pathway delay

Déjà vu is commonly described as the feeling of having seen something before. In fact, some scientists have long thought that one type of the phenomenon occurs when the image of a scene through one eye arrives at the brain before the image from the other eye.

But researchers have now found a blind man who experiences déjà vu through smell, hearing and touch.

The man had déjà vu when undoing a jacket zipper while hearing a particular piece of music, and also while hearing a snatch of conversation while holding a plate in the school dining hall.

The discovery is reported in the December issue of the journal Brain and Cognition.

"It is the first time this has been reported in scientific literature," said Akira O'Connor of the University of Leeds. "It’s useful because it provides a concrete case study which contradicts the theory of optical pathway delay. Eventually we would like to talk to more blind people, though there’s no reason to believe this man’s experiences are abnormal or different to those of others."

O'Connor said déjà vu is such a convincing sensation that it feels almost inexplicable to the person who has it.

"And because it feels so subjective, psychology, in striving for objectivity, has tended to shy away from it," he said. "But psychologists have gone some way to illuminating things like the 'tip of my tongue' sensation when you can’t think of a particular word. We just wanted to get to the same sort of understanding for déjà vu."

O'Connor and his colleague Chris Moulin also study déjà vu through hypnosis. They believe the experience is caused when an area of the brain that deals with familiarity gets disrupted.

In one experiment they do, students are asked to remember words, then hypnotized to make them forget. When shown the same word again, they describe feeling as if they've seen it before. About half of test subjects say the sensation is similar to déjà vu, and about half of those say it is definitely déjà vu.

"It would be really neat to do some neuro-imaging on people during genuine spontaneous déjà vu experiences," O'Conner said, "but it’s very difficult to get them to have them on demand."

X-Men's Dave Cockrum Dies at 63
The Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Comic book illustrator Dave Cockrum, who in the 1970s overhauled the X-Men and helped popularize the relatively obscure Marvel Comics title into a publishing sensation and eventually a major film franchise, died Sunday. He was 63.

In his Superman pajamas and with his Batman blanket, Cockrum died in his favorite chair at his home in Belton, S.C., early Sunday morning. He had suffered a long battle with diabetes and related complications, his wife, Paty, said Tuesday.

At Cockrum's request, there will be no public services and his body will be cremated, according to Cox Funeral Home. His ashes will be spread on his property.

At Marvel Comics, Cockrum and writer Len Wein were handed the X-Men. The comic had been created in 1963 as a group of young outcasts enrolled in an academy for mutants, but the premise failed to capture fans.

Cockrum and Wein took the existing comic, added their own heroes and published "Giant-Size X-Men No. 1" in 1975. Many signature characters Cockrum designed and co-created — such as Storm, Mystique, Nightcrawler and Colossus — went on to become part of the "X-Men" films starring Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry.

Cockrum received no movie royalties, said family friend Clifford Meth, who organized efforts to help Cockrum and his family during his protracted medical care.

"Dave saw the movie and he cried — not because he was bitter," Meth said. "He cried because his characters were on screen and they were living."

Cockrum was born in Pendleton, Ore., the son of an Air Force officer. He set aside his interest in art while serving in Vietnam for the U.S. Navy. He moved to New York after leaving the service and got his big break in the early 1970s, drawing the Legion of Super-Heroes for DC Comics before moving to Marvel.

In January 2004, Cockrum moved to South Carolina after being hospitalized for bacterial pneumonia. As his diabetes progressed, his drawings became limited. His last drawing was a sketch for a fan, who attended a small comic book convention in Greenville, Paty Cockrum said.

Meth said Cockrum, who will be cremated in a Green Lantern shirt, will be remembered as "a comic incarnate."

"He had a genuine love for comics and for science fiction and for fantasy, and he lived in it," Meth said. "He loved his work."

* A Tribute Site for Dave Cockrum

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Soliven dies in Japan
By Doreen G. Yu
The Philippine Star

Max V. Soliven strikes a pose at The STAR’s 20th anniversary last July.

At six o’clock last Thursday evening, Max Soliven called The STAR newsdesk from Tokyo to ask, as he always did when he was away on a trip, "What’s the big news there?"

Later in the evening his column came in by fax, an expectedly kilometric discourse on Japan under newly installed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Twelve hours later, we got the news that our publisher and chairman had died of cardiac and respiratory arrest at the Narita Red Cross. He was 77.

He died doing what he loved best, and what he did better than most - he was a journalist to the end.

At the time of his death, Soliven was publisher and chairman of the board of The Philippine STAR, PEOPLE Asia magazine, and Mabuhay, the inflight magazine of Philippine Airlines. He was also chairman of the OB Montessori Center.

Although he did not hold office in Port Area —he wrote his column out of his home office on a manual typewriter, the ribbon of which was changed weekly — Soliven’s presence as publisher was imposing.

By phone, he checked up on stories, took reporters, deskmen and editors to task for slip-ups, but also offered praise for a job well done - but, he always cautioned, not too much praise, because "you might ask for a raise!" When he did come to the office though, he visited each department in the newsroom, chatted with everyone, and –although against his grain as an Ilocano –always coughed up money for merienda.

Journalist of the Year

A legend and one of the last of his generation of journalists, Soliven was named Journalist of the Year four times, by the National Press Club and the Rotary Club of Manila.

At 27, he was editor and publisher of The Evening News, bringing it in 1960 from sixth to second in daily circulation. He was business editor of The Manila Times from 1957 to 1960, and one of its most celebrated and popular columnists until the paper was shut down by martial law in 1972.

He spent more than a decade of his career as a foreign correspondent. He covered the Vietnam war in 1954 and 1959, and was accused by President Ngo Dinh Diem of being an agent provocateur and expelled from Vietnam in 1960. But he returned to cover the rest of the war, including the 1968 Tet offensive and fighting in Laos and Cambodia.

In 1964, Soliven was in Beijing when China detonated its first atomic bomb, and scored an interview with Premier Zhou Enlai on the matter. The feisty Soliven also covered the 1965 "Gestapu" coup in Indonesia, getting the first interview with a then obscure Brig. General Suharto. He wrote a series of articles on the 1968 riots in Mexico City, and was in the Plaza de Tres Cultural when armored vehicles rolled in and shot down the student demonstrators.

He also covered the Middle East and Western Europe from his bureau office in Bonn, and came to know the capitals of Europe as well as he knew the cities and countrysides of Asia, which he called his "parish."

He worked as a stringer for The New York Times and Newsweek, and was a columnist for the South China Morning Post and the Bangkok Post.

‘By the Way’

But it is in Philippine journalism that Soliven had the biggest impact. He covered eight Philippine presidents, including President Arroyo’s father Diosdado Macapagal.

His column By the Way, began in the pre-martial law Manila Times and continued in The Philippine STAR until his death, was a must read for lawmakers and decision makers, diplomats and academicians, as well as anyone who wanted to know the lowdown on what was happening in the country.

His famous "Alikabok" inside scoops on goings-on at Malacañang, his freely dispensed "unsolicited advice" to presidents, his pull-no-punches barbs –punctuated by his trademark "sanamagan," "salamabit" and "susmaryosep" –made his six-days-a-week column the most riveting and informatively entertaining read around.

When Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972, Soliven was one of the first journalists to be arrested, picked up from his home at 2 a.m. by a detachment of soldiers. He was held in maximum security in Fort Bonifacio, sharing a cell with Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr., sure that he would never make it out alive. When he was finally released, he was banned from writing and from traveling outside Metro Manila.

He founded the pioneering glossy magazines Sunburst and Manila, discovering and launching the careers of many photographers, models, entertainment personalities, and journalists.

Following Aquino’s assassination in 1983, Soliven wrote scathing articles against Marcos. With the late Betty Go Belmonte and Eugenia Apostol, he founded the Philippine Daily Inquirer in December 1985 and became the paper’s publisher. In July 1986, Soliven, Go-Belmonte, Art Borjal and Tony Roces founded The Philippine STAR, with Soliven as lead columnist and publisher.

Winner of numerous national and international awards, Soliven was most recently made an officer of the Legion d’Honneur by the French government. He also received the coveted Incomienda de la Orden Isabel la Catolica from His Majesty King Juan Carlos of Spain in March 2000.

He was a graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University, which honored him with its highest award, the OZANAM Award. He obtained a master’s in communications and political philosophy from Fordham University, New York, and took up post-graduate courses at the Johns Hopkins University and Harvard’s School of International Studies.

He is survived by his wife, UNESCO Philippines Secretary General Ambassador Preciosa Soliven, children Sara and Jon, Rachelle and Bob, Marinella and John, and eight grandchildren.

The family has accepted the government’s offer for him to lie in state at the St. Ignatius Cathedral in Camp Aguinaldo when his remains arrive from Japan.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Sanchez: Could banning religion rid the world of horror?
Ashley Sanchez,

A defense of lemmings is required. Sir Elton John's words, reprinted in the American-Statesman on Nov. 12, were still fresh in my mind as I sat in the church pew: "Organized religion doesn't seem to work. It turns people into really hateful lemmings, and it's not really compassionate."

The Gospel reading that day was about the widow who gave her last two coins to charity. The priest reminded us to follow her example, and then he turned the pulpit over to two missionaries.

Those two lemmings have followed Christ right into poor villages in Guatemala and Mexico. They have built schools and clinics and fed the hungry.

"Not really compassionate?" The missionaries asked for our help, explaining that $500 (likely a fraction of the entertainer's lavish weekly budget) will provide a village family clean drinking water from a rainwater collection system installed at their home.

Not really compassionate? I suspect that many lemmings in the congregation that day followed Christ right into sacrificial giving, knowing that even if they can afford to give only $20, when 25 others do likewise, they will be giving water to the thirsty.

Not really compassionate? The empirical data prove otherwise. A report from the Independent Sector titled "Faith and Philanthropy: The Connection Between Charitable Behavior and Giving to Religion" found that in 2000, people who supported only secular charities donated an average of $623 annually, whereas those supporting only religious congregations gave $1,154. The most generous givers, however, were those who supported religious congregations as well as secular charities, averaging $2,247 in donations. Indeed, "over 87 percent of all giving comes from households that give to religion."

Similarly, religion provides powerful motivation to volunteer not just at church, but in the community as well. The same report found, "The small group of people (8.6 percent of the population) who volunteer to both congregations and secular organizations accounts for over 30 percent of all volunteering hours."

Not really compassionate? Jewish, Hindu, Muslim and Christian lemmings can proudly recite their forebears' accomplishments that have made the world a better place — algebra, architecture, passive-resistance and impressive scholarship.

Lemmings are followers of their deity, but they are also leaders — fighting ignorance (churches and monasteries offered some of the only safe havens for scientific knowledge during the Dark Ages), slavery and racial oppression.

Yet for all the good that has come from these faiths, the Inquisition and Sept. 11 are evidence that religion and its followers aren't immune from evil.

Therefore, could banning religion (a move urged by Elton John) rid the world of horror? Not according to the evidence. Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin was responsible for a death toll estimated in tens of millions. Stalin's atrocities and those of Mao Tse-Tung and Pol Pot occurred in regimes in which religion was officially repressed and atheism was promoted.

So why, pray tell, are some celebrities and intellectuals committed to attacking religion and trying to prove it false?

Part of the answer lies in their belief in their Supreme Self: I consult only myself and believe only I know what's right for me.

Yet their hypocrisy betrays them.

What they really seem to say is "Religion is wrong not just for me, but for everyone else, too."

When they seek to impose their beliefs on the rest of us, we must oppose their narrow-minded judgment and appeal for tolerance (that is especially true at this time of year when the word "Christmas" or the sight of a crèche causes some folks to call for an inquisition).

Which is scarier — people claiming to know truth because they consulted themselves, or those who seek truth from religions that have grappled with the thorniest questions of morality and life's meaning in conversations spanning millennia? Although we should properly debate religious teachings, it's not possible to do that with people who myopically see only religion's flaws.

Indeed, even when religious leaders explain their teachings in terms of natural law and science, those who disagree with them sometimes inaccurately accuse them of relying on blind faith.

Let's debate the individual issues without making preposterous claims that condemn all aspects of religion.

The evidence is irrefutable: In this country, lemmings who worship Allah, Yahweh and Christ are more likely to give time and money that make the world a better place.

That is compassionate.

Gregorio del Pilar's bones
by Ambeth Ocampo
Philippine Daily Inquirer

AS most people are still fresh from their annual visit to the cemetery, we might as well provide some details of the examination of Gregorio del Pilar's remains by Dr. Sixto de los Angeles in 1930. Dr. De los Angeles was the medico-legal expert who examined the supposed remains of Andres Bonifacio, exhumed from Cavite province before the World War II. Identification of the alleged Bonifacio bones was inconclusive yet a government panel declared the bones authentic. The Bonifacio bones disappeared and have not been seen since. My theory is that these would not have withstood close scrutiny and are definitely not the bones of the Supremo of the Katipunan who still lies somewhere in the Maragondon mountain range in Cavite.

My take on the above is the core of my book "Bones of Contention" (Anvil, 2001), furthermore, Dr. Quintin Oropilla of the Makati Medical Center calculated the height of the person examined and it is less than five feet tall. Nobody would like to accept that Bonifacio was of low stature -- both literally and figuratively -- so I concluded that the Bonifacio bones were fake. In the case of Gregorio del Pilar, the remains, while incomplete, provided some individual peculiarities that made the identification conclusive. Most of the supporting data, as I mentioned in last week's column, had something to do with Del Pilar's teeth.

De los Angeles, after a thorough study of 73 pieces of bones and 33 teeth, concluded that the remains found belonged to a Filipino male, 20 to 25 years of age. Based on the bones, he calculated the height of the man at around 165 centimeters. Circumference of the head was 52.5 centimeters. One of the general's uniforms and caps fit the reconstructed skeleton. De los Angeles further stated that deterioration of the bones suggested that the corpse had been buried for about 30 years in the same ground where it was found.

History records show that Del Pilar died of a gunshot wound but De los Angeles could not confirm this, except to guess based on "fractures of the mandible and base and the left side of the skull, and the corresponding secondary lacerations of the brain substance." Only one button fashioned from a bone was found with the remains, thus confirming the eyewitness report that American soldiers stripped Del Pilar of his uniform and accessories and kept these as souvenirs or war booty. He was buried with his underwear, as none of the soldiers was willing to take this home. Del Pilar's whistle has since been returned to the Philippines and, as with the Balangiga bells, we await the rest of his effects.

Peculiarities regarding Del Pilar's teeth were, "irregular growth of the lower teeth; the slightly protruded lower jaw, the asymmetrical appearance of the lower part of the face; the gold filling at the right superior central incisor, the existence of multiple dental caries..." In summary:

1. "Protrusion of the mandible and of its corresponding dental arch, inferable and shown by the fact that the free borders of the superior teeth articulate and rest anteriorly on the free borders of the lower anterior teeth.

2. "Solid, white and medium-sized teeth, with signs of erosions, limited to the sharp points of the grinding surface of the molars, and absence of erosion on the third molars or wisdom teeth.

3. "Relatively preserved natural sharpness of the cutting edges of the right canines and first pre-molars, both superior and inferior, due to the relatively more internal deviations or locations of the corresponding lower teeth; thus forming in respect a remarkable contrast with the similar teeth of the left side, particularly the left inferior canine which appeared twisted and deviated backward to the left. As a natural sequela from such dental deviations, the inferior dental arch exhibited an asymmetrical and deformed appearance, forming at the left side narrower and a more salient angle forward; while at the right the same dental arch appeared to be depressed backward and internally.

4. "Presence of the supernumerary tooth (found among the teeth) with its corresponding points of adjustment at the front of and somewhat below the inferior canine and first pre-molar at the left side.

5. "Left upper lateral incisor thicker than its pair at the right and concave and rough at its posterior or oral surface, indicating previous connection with another supernumerary tooth not found among the remains examined.

6. "Right central upper incisor having a gold filling of 2.5 x 2 in diameter at the middle of the internal border.

7. "Presence of dental caries at the first right molars, both upper and lower; first upper left pre-molar; left lower canine; second pre-molar, and the root of the supernumerary tooth found; that affecting the first lower molar at the right being the deepest and largest.

8. "Greater degree of erosions of the free borders of the left teeth, indicating habitual grinding of food at this side."

In 1897 Del Pilar was in Hong Kong where he had his supernumerary tooth extracted and had one tooth filled with gold. While this was enough to identify the remains, the old data poses new questions. Del Pilar had two extra teeth. He needed braces to correct crooked growth, and usually ate food on the left side of this mouth. Surely all this will tell us more than that outlined in our textbooks.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Mold, maggots in New Orleans homes left to rot
By Matthew Bigg
2 hours, 6 minutes ago

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - More than a year after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, thousands of homes damaged by flooding still stand empty, stained by black mold and some of them infested with maggots.

City authorities are now cranking up a $20 million drive to deal with a problem until now addressed mainly by charities, home-owners and contractors who have worked to gut the properties and eliminate the health hazard they pose.

Volunteers from the charity Acorn began the two-day process of gutting one such house belonging to Gwen Brown in New Orleans East suburb in late October, removing damaged goods and stripping the house to its walls, floorboards and ceilings.

They wore white full-body protective suits and put on gas masks, goggles and thick gloves because the spores infested every corner of the house.

"There's nothing like a maggot-filled refrigerator," said Daryl Durham, the team leader, as he hauled one into the street to join a growing pile of possessions. The stench from the fridge filled the road.

Flood waters that surged into the famed city of jazz in August last year churned the house contents around like a whirlpool and then sat at a depth of 5 feet for weeks before receding. Since then the house, like thousands of others, has been left untouched.

Acorn says its volunteers have gutted around 1,600 homes at a rate of around 20 per month and around 2,000 homes remain on its list to be cleared out, though many other residents have signed up with other groups to have their houses dealt with.

"People ... just think it was a city that was demolished. If people realized that these were people's lives then more things would happen quicker," said Lauren Pembo, 19, a student volunteer and New Orleans native.

City Plan

As part of the Good Neighbor Program, Mayor Ray Nagin proposed $15 million in his $419 million November budget to strip 5,000 homes and $5 million to demolish 10,000 more, said Anthony Faciane, chief of development in the mayor's office.

The program, which started a year after the storm, involves a three-step, 120-day process for homeowners who have not cleaned out or demolished damaged homes or applied to a volunteer agency to do the job.

Homeowners are first given notice that they are in violation of local laws, then after 30 days a notice is put on the property and on a Web site and 30 days after that authorities can seek permission to demolish or to gut and board up a property.

"It is crucial that most of our resources have to be given for making a high-quality of life for the pioneers, the people who came back and started to rebuild. We need to clean neighborhoods up," Faciane told Reuters.

Around 120,000 properties were damaged by flooding in New Orleans. Permits had been issued for around 100,000 to be gutted or repaired, leaving around 20,000 untouched. Of those, around 15,000 would have to be demolished, Faciane said.

Many homeowners, traumatized by their experience of losing so much, were reluctant to make a decision on whether to return and rebuild so the city was setting deadlines to help them decide, he said.

"What people don't realize is that this was the first time in history is that an entire American city was shut down," Faciane said.

Crowbars, Sensitivity

Volunteers use crowbars to prize sheetrock from walls in damaged homes. But they have to be careful -- items that look worthless may be of intense personal value.

For many people, seeing the contents of their flooded houses piled up in the street is traumatic.

Brown, whose New Orleans East home yielded the maggot-infested fridge and who fled to Houston, Texas, just before the storm, maintained telephone contact with the team clearing her single-story home and the next day returned to see it.

"This was my first place. I was so happy here. I would sit on this patio after work," said Brown, 51, as she picked through old records, carpets, plastic flowers and other items.

A neighbor who failed to get out before the storm drowned in her back yard. The body was removed in the immediate aftermath of the storm, she said.

Almost every item she found triggered memories. A framed print of jazz singer Billie Holliday had survived as had a bottle stuffed with coins her daughter used as a piggy bank.

Insurance money she received went to pay off the mortgage and she planned, one day, to rebuild the house and move back.

But Brown was unsentimental about her ruined possessions and marveled how much "junk" she'd accumulated over the years.

"It's a closure because this part of our life is over," she said as she surveyed her stuff. "We loved this house but I can't get none of it back."

Monday, November 13, 2006

59 Things a Man Should Never Do Past 30
Plus, Things A Man Should Never Do Past The Age of One


1. Coin his own nickname.

2. Use a wallet that is fastened with Velcro.

3. Rank his friends in order of best, second best, and so on.

4. Hacky sack.

5. Name his "unit" his name plus junior.

6. Hang art with tape.

7. Hang The Scream, unless he stole it from the Munch museum in Oslo.

8. Ask a policeman, "You ever shoot anybody with that thing?"

9. Ask a woman, "Hey, you got a license for that ass?"

10. Skip.

11. Take a camera to a nude beach.

12. Let his father do his taxes.

13. Tap on the glass.

14. Shout out a response to "Are you ready to rock?"

15. Use the word collated on his resume.

16. Hold a weekly house meeting with roommates.

17. Name pets after Middle Earth characters.

18. Jokingly flash gang signs while posing for wedding photos.

19. Give shout-outs.

20. Use numbers in place of words or locations, such as "the 411" for information, or "the 313" for Detroit.

21. Hug amusement-park characters.

22. Wear Disney-themed neckties.

23. Wake up to a "morning zoo."

24. Compare the trajectory of his life with those of the characters in Billy Joel's "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant."

25. Request extra sprinkles.

26. Air drum.

27. Choose 69 as his jersey number.

28. Eat Oreo cookies in stages.

29. Volunteer to be a magician's assistant.

30. Sleep on a bare mattress.

31. End a conversation with "later skater."

32. Hold his lighter up at a concert.

33. Publicly greet friends by shouting, "What's up, you whore?"

34. Wear Converse All Stars with a tuxedo.

35. Propose via stadium Jumbotron.

36. Decide anything based on the ruminations of Howard Stern.

37. Call "shotgun" before getting in a car.

38. Dispute someone else's call of "shotgun."

39. Whine.

40. Mist up during Aerosmith's "Dream On."

41. Purchase fireworks.

42. Google the word vagina.

43. Ride a pony.

44. Sport an ironic mustache.

45. Hit 13 against a 6.

46. Organize a party bus.

47. Say "two points" every time he throws something in the trash.

48. Buy a novelty postcard in another country of topless women on a beach and write, "Wish you were here" on it.

49. Keg stands.

50. Purchase home-brewing paraphernalia.

51. The John Travolta point-to-the-ceiling-point-to-the-floor dance move; also that one from Pulp Fiction.

52. Put less than ten dollars' worth of gas in the tank.

53. Keep a minuscule amount of marijuana extremely well hidden.

54. Read The Fountainhead.

55. Watch the Pink Floyd laser light show at a planetarium.

56. Refer to his girlfriend's breasts as "the twins."

57. Own a vanity plate.

58. Whippits.

59. Say goodbye to anyone by tapping his chest and even so much as whispering, "Peace out."

Things A Man Should Never Do Past The Age of One
By Jasper Jacobs, age 17 months

Get circumcised.

Spend more than ten minutes looking at a checkerboard pattern (exception: peyote users).

Look longingly at his mother's breasts.

Urinate in his mouth.

Be terrified of Mr. Noodle on Elmo's World.

Cry at the sight of a wooden spoon.

Eat pureed Wheat Thins.

Suck on the corner of a laptop.

Go willingly into the arms of strangers.

Lose neck control.

Have a favorite Higglytown Hero.

"Make nice."

Wear a unitard.

Read The Fountainhead.

* Let's hear it: What else should you stop doing once you hit 30?

How to be an Even Better Dad
The man who "re-fathers" after he's divorced—or as my dad did, rings the bell in the twilight of his wife's fertility—finds that fate has offered him life's ultimate mulligan. What can we learn from the wisdom of second fathers?

By Marc Parent

I was in college, so it's likely I was having a beer at the time, but I can't say for sure. What I do recall down to the precision of each second was the phone call I got that evening from my mother. It was shocking on many levels, because she was delivering news more typically conveyed by the son in college to his mother back home than from the mother back home to her college son. But rivers do run backward sometimes.
"I'm pregnant," she said. She let out a long exhale.

"Well..." I said, and then tried to lighten the moment. "I blame myself, Mom. I should have been more open with you and Dad about how these things can happen."

Nine months later, my father took my baby brother into his arms at the hospital with the smoothness of a pro, looked into his face with a reverence born of a long perspective, closed his eyes and smelled the top of his head, burped him, swaddled him, and rocked him to sleep. My younger brother was my Dad's last chance to slam-dunk fatherhood, and from onesies and applesauce to low riders and pepperoni sticks, slam-dunk is exactly what he did.

I'd never had the guts to ask him point-blank if he thought he was a better dad this last time around. I knew he wasn't the career-ladder-obsessed guy he'd been when I was born. He was a smarter, wiser, more-patient, more-involved, more-invested, more-all-around-indefatigable father for his younger son than he had been for his elder—better for my brother than he had been for me.

With my little brother, my dad entered into a realm that Martin Carnoy called "re-fathering" in his book Fathers of a Certain Age. A father who gets divorced, remarries, and has children with a second wife finds himself in the same situation. Whether by default or by design, these men are in the rare position to make amends for prior failings, do the things they wish they'd done the first time around, avoid old mistakes, make good on old promises, and know from experience just how quickly the whole thing is over. The man who re-fathers after he's divorced or widowed—or as in the case of my dad, rings the bell in the twilight of his wife's fertility—finds that fate has offered him the ultimate mulligan on the most make-or-break tee of his life.

What does a re-father do with his second children that he wishes he'd done with his first? What does he know now that he didn't know then? How is he different this second time around? As the father of three young boys, I'm bound to look back once they're grown and have regrets, but is there something these second-timers could tell me (and all the other first-timers) that might tip the odds in our favor so that one day we'll be able to finally say we did right by our kids more often than we did wrong?

All Work and No Play Will Make You a Lonely Grandpa

Frank Rigano had the experience of raising his first set of kids when work came first. At 63, he has two sons from a first marriage (Cliff, 31, and Craig, 26) and two from a second (Derek, 14, and Michael, 11). When Cliff and Craig were children, Rigano was a senior vice president of a management company; he doesn't mince words about his priorities at the time. "I was more focused on career than family," he says. "I allocated daily responsibility for the kids to my ex-wife. 'The woman brings them up; it's enough if I see them on weekends.' I was of that mentality."

It was a mentality that kept him largely absent from his sons' lives. A normal day on the job kept him out of the house from 7 in the morning to 6 at night; a normal week required him to be on the road 3 out of 5 days. I ask him if he was the kind of father young Cliff and Craig could come to when they needed help. "I always felt that way," he says, but then very honestly admits that he probably wasn't. "The reality of it was that I was away."

Years later, he found it difficult to bridge the chasm that had opened up between him and his first children—specifically, the 7 years spanning his marriage to and divorce from his second wife during which the boys refused to see him. Whenever he'd try to probe their feelings during this period, they would always deny there was anything bothering them. "No problem, Dad," Rigano says, recalling one of their typical brush-offs. "Everything's fine; just haven't had the chance to come see you in the past 7 years." This from sons who lived within a short drive. "Obviously something was very wrong," he says.

He was on the same road to estrangement from the children of his second marriage when his wife walked out and, 2 days later, he lost his job. Derek and Michael were 7 and 5 at the time. With no family to help out, he suddenly found himself, for the first time in his life, the full-time caretaker of his own children. He spent the next 4 months making sandwiches between job interviews, but the real shift was taking place between him and his sons. "I actually got to know them," he says, "and they got to know me"—a statement that is simultaneously dismaying and heartening when you consider that the boys had lived with the man their entire lives.

Rigano eventually secured new employment but found he could no longer stomach the time away. "Those 4 months changed me absolutely," he says. So Rigano did something with his second family that would have been inconceivable to him when he was raising his first: He quit his new demanding job to start his own business at the risk of—and this is the critical point—at the risk of making less money. (Hold on to your chairs, gentlemen; I'll buy the next round.)

"I started a small marketing-services company—an office with a couple of people working for me in New York," he says. As the owner of the business, he now has flexibility most guys could only dream of. "I leave for the office only after the kids have gone to school, and return home before they get back." So now that he's made the 180-degree flip, what message does the reformed 3-day-a-week road tripper have for his younger brethren racking up the supersized hours at the office? He laughs, because he can't say he would have listened to the advice of a guy who opted out of the big bucks to stay with his kids. But he tries anyway. "I would tell the guy who is hell-bent on pursuing his career and leaving the parenting of his kids to anybody else that he does not know what he's missing."

Rigano's not alone on this score. Bill Cox, a 58-year-old physician in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, claims that when he was raising his three kids from his first marriage, he spent his weekends working. He was in medical school when Julie, Kathryn, and Will, now 40, 36, and 33, were the same age as Claire, his 9-year-old daughter from his second marriage. Weekends with Claire revolve around horseback riding on their 3,000-acre ranch. He and Claire take rides every weekend. He says he uses the time with her for enjoyment, but also to talk with her about values and "infuse her with self-esteem."

More Barney, Less Great Santini

Carl Tomasello had a do-over as a father and took full advantage of the opportunity to make improvements in a very specific area: He raised his first children with a firm hand, his second with hugs and kisses. An antique-car enthusiast, Tomasello keeps a 1933 Ford Street Rod and a 1958 Thunderbird convertible. "Two ends of the spectrum," he tells me—like the ways he raised his kids. The senior vice president has two daughters from his first marriage of 18 years, Claudia, 35, and Christina, 33, who have given him five grandkids. His second marriage gave him Ryan, 15, and Emily, 12, who are "much more huggy-kissy at this stage in their lives than my first two were," he says.

Now 60, Tomasello views the difference as a result of his being more generous with affection this time around. "I'm more loving to them—more expressive about how I feel," he says of Ryan and Emily.

As a younger father to Claudia and Christina, Tomasello says, he didn't think about how important it was to get close with his daughters. He admits that at the time, he was operating out of the belief that intimacy happened exclusively between mothers and daughters. "I provided for them financially," he says. "I never thought I had to play a major role in raising them. I'd go to their plays, but their personal issues? That's a mom thing."

While he says he felt the same amount of affection for his first family as he feels for his second, he concedes there's a great difference in the amount of affection he has shown them. As a result, he postulates, Claudia is "more withdrawn" than he imagines Emily will be at the same age.

"Basic affection in the home at a young age sets the stage for how you relate to the rest of the world, for the rest of your life," he says. "An affectionate home creates a child who is more open to other people, more comfortable in every setting, more engaged in life." A lot of return for a few hugs and kisses, but probably good investment advice from an experienced broker who has seen the market go both ways.

Worry Less, Enjoy More

Forty-four-year-old Cody Hicks, vice president of an architectural consulting firm in New York City, is a prime example of the lengths some men will go to for a second chance. He has three children from his first marriage: Brian, 16, Connor, 11, and Elizabeth, 9. After his divorce, he made a conscious effort to date older women, who he assumed would be less interested in having children. Of course, life is a laugh riot, and Hicks ended up falling in love with a younger woman who had never had a child and wanted one very badly. He had to break the news early in their relationship that he'd had a vasectomy after his daughter's birth but assured her that once they were married, he would do "whatever it takes" to give her a child.

The operative words of that last sentence are "whatever it takes," and I'm not just talking about the surgery to reconnect his pipes. A long road of trial and error finally led the couple to a radical method—before each shot at conception, Hicks would wrap his balls in frozen peas (think: chilled sperm, lively; motivated sperm, bingo). His wife eventually gave birth to Jake, who is now 2 years old.

"I just want to do everything better," he says. "Mostly try not to get stressed by things. For example, Jake wasn't talking as early as his cousins were," he tells me, "so all of a sudden my wife is poring through every imaginable tome on every serious problem—every degree of autism, you know—freaking herself out. And I was just like, 'I have benchmarks to go by. I'm not worried.'"

As Hicks goes on about his wife's incessant ability to research the hell out of just about every potential childhood catastrophe, I have to admit that I'm able to relate more to her Chicken Little than to his hakuna matata attitude. I think about how much I would have appreciated benchmarks of any kind so that I wouldn't have had to spend quite so much time memorizing the height and weight charts and checking my sons' temperatures and could have spent more time just admiring them. Worry is the thing that robs the most from us on our first time around.

Establish Rituals

While motherhood gently rises to a boil as women's bodies change over the course of their pregnancies, fatherhood comes on like a blast of dynamite. Women prepare; men react. One way to bring order to this newfound chaos is to schedule inviolable family time. Establish rituals early enough in your kids' lives, and they will be hard-pressed to blow them off in their teen years when you morph from Mufasa the Lion King to the quartermaster who doles out allowance and rides.

Alex Slogar, a 41-year-old software developer in Strongsville, Ohio, hasn't wasted any time with his second family establishing an "essential, unassailable" swim-and-pizza night every Friday. Slogar has one daughter from his first marriage, Sophie, 6, and one from his second, Gia, 17 months. Slogar is divorced from his second wife, as well. He has a week-on, week-off joint-custody arrangement with his ex-wives. As soon as Gia was old enough, he established the Friday outing.

A primary reason he's teaching Gia to swim at a younger age than he taught Sophie is that he regrets how much time he let his elder daughter spend in front of the television during her early childhood. He's far more encouraging of Gia to be physically active than he was with Sophie, whom he describes as "more emotional" than Gia. He believes Gia is more independent than Sophie because of that change.

Learn From Your Own Childhood

The "re-father" has in some ways an unfair advantage. He's had the time to analyze his own upbringing brick by brick, to keep what fits and toss what doesn't. Nothing better signifies a man's arrival into adulthood, and by the same measure fatherhood. So the older father is much more likely to be raising children by his own design than the younger father, who may only be (unwittingly, damn it, unwittingly) playing the doppelganger of his own dad.

A recent study from the Wright Institute Graduate School of Psychology, in Berkeley, California, concludes that one of the most significant differences between younger and older dads is the stated desire of the latter to "develop a relationship with their children that was different from the one they experienced with their own fathers."

And so on a Saturday morning, I clear my desk of all the notes I've made about other people's fathers so that I can lay out a sheet of paper, uncap my pen, and call my own.

You had to know I would eventually do this. My dad answers the phone and is happy it's me on the other end. I say I have a question—a sort of warning shot, now that I think about it.

He responds with an appropriately suspicious "Okay?" I start out easy.

"Were you a different father to your older son," I ask as if I'm inquiring about someone other than myself, "than you were to your younger?"

"I'm sure I was," he says.

"A better father?" I ask. He thinks about the answer, and because he is a great father today regardless of whether he was one in the past, he doesn't question my motives. I could just as easily be asking for his advice on fertilizer.

"I was in my 20s when I had you; my 40s when I had your brother," he says, thinking out loud.

"And so?"

"Well, the older father is a wounded and transformed animal who brings more to the table than the younger father."

Okay, that's very nice actually, but we're talking too generally. It's up to me, then. I edge my toes over the end of the board and jump.

"Dad, what did you know when raising my younger brother that you wish you'd have known when raising me?" The question, so easy to ask other men, feels accusatory when posed to my own father. I wait for him to close up, but he doesn't flinch.

"I was too rigid with you," he says. "Too controlling. I didn't trust you enough. I didn't let you know you were a great kid." Well, why don't you tell me how you really feel, I think. Honesty has never been a problem for my dad.

Every statement hits a little harder than he means it to. I think about changing the topic of conversation to ladders. "It was my own insecurity," he continues. "I didn't know what I was doing as a father, so I had to fabricate a box to stay within. Even when it was the wrong box. I always thought you were terrific, but I didn't tell you that as much as I told your brother."

I point out that my brother is hands down more terrific than I was at his age. "Absolutely, but not in the way I'm talking about," Dad says. "I mean terrific like when you look at your kids sleeping in their beds. You watch them and you think about how terrific they are, not because of anything they're doing or the consequences of their success or failure. They're terrific just lying there."

"Default terrific."

"Every kid. Exactly."

"Some kids are more terrific than others, though," I say. "Like my brother." He tells me that he couldn't disagree more but doesn't expect me to fully understand at my age.

"You know, life gets quieter as you grow older. It's easier to catch the terrific in things," he says.

My dad and all the other dads I spoke with for this piece were in unison about the big things they're trying to do better on their second time around: spend more time with their kids, be more patient, and get angry less.

Not one of them mentioned taking the kids skiing more often, buying them better toys, or putting them into a bigger house or a better car. It's only human nature to want shortcuts and magic pills, and if I was looking for those here, I found out only that they don't exist. What I did discover is that becoming a great father is no different in its simplicity (and perhaps no less elusive) than any other lifelong pursuit.

If you want to lose weight, you have to eat less; if you want to live longer, you have to exercise more; and if you want to be a great father, you have to give your children time—piles of it, more than you have. Do your best. You have to show them patience—piles of it, more than you have. Do your best. And while you work on those two, you should try whenever humanly possible to keep your voice down. Do your best.

Little Things That Count
Each of these will make you a better man.

By Duane Swierczynski

1. Paying attention -- real attention -- to a small child. I still remember the adults who did that when I was a kid. They also happen to be my role models.

2. The lid on a jar of pickles. It's not that women really need your help twisting it loose from the jar. They could use a hammer. But they like to make you appear strong, even if you are built like Mick Jagger.

3. A breath mint.

4. A brown bag. Pack a turkey-on-wheat most of the workweek and you'll save enough for a plasma TV by year's end.

5. A lunchtime reservation -- one that doesn't involve a drive-thru. All those sack lunches earn you a fine meal in a steak house every couple of weeks. Life ain't a gulag.

6. A 50-minute CPR class.

7. Distance. "From 30 feet away, she looked like a lot of class," wrote Raymond Chandler. "From 10 feet away, she looked like something made up to be seen from 30 feet away."

8. Gratitude. It takes 15 seconds to thank someone for their time or gift. It takes 15 years for them to forgive you when you don't.

9. A single glance. That glance. If you have to ask, it's been too long since you've made it.

10. Five degrees. Go easy on the thermostat overnight this winter and you'll save 5 percent on heat. Mother Nature thanks you. So does Al Gore.
11. Checking your spelling. Because the difference between Public Relations and Pubic Relations could be your job.

12. Listening -- really listening -- to your grandfather when he tells you, for the ninth time, about that seafood shop back in South Philly that sold littleneck clams for a penny each. Forget the clams. He's trying for a little bit of immortality by passing along the story to you.

13. A handwritten note. I landed myself a hot redhead because I sent her a goofy Far Side card with a dashed-off question along the lines of "So, how have you been?" Ten years later, we have a house and two kids.

14. That last drink. If you're drunk enough to absolutely need it, you absolutely don't.

15. The right to remain silent. People never remember you for being quiet. They remember you for a stupid joke about a venereal disease, your boss, and a transvestite hooker.

16. Getting off your ass. Time was, you stood up when being introduced to someone new. You meet eye-to-eye and shake, which is a small way of saying, "I'm not above or below you."

17. Getting off your ass, period. Even 10 minutes of activity a day can drop your blood pressure, boost your mood, and prevent you from forming a covalent bond with your couch.

18. A single detail. About someone else. Could be a wife's name, or a kid's sport, or the gum disease their hound had. Wield details wisely and you'll be a charm machine. Flub them and you'll make people feel like they're interchangeable cogs in a cosmic mishmash.

19. A single date. I have it easy. My wedding anniversary is September 11. Plant a Post-it, set an Outlook alert, or write it on your hand in permanent marker. A Sharpie fades. Her memory doesn't.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Police dog falls from window, catches suspect
Agbar tumbles from second-story window, escapes injury

The Associated Press

GILFORD, N.H. - A Gilford police dog fell from a second-story window while searching for a robbery suspect during the weekend, but still got its man.

Police were looking for a man who reportedly robbed a car driver at knifepoint Saturday night.

Police say Michael Mount, 30, pulled a knife on the driver of a car in which he was a passenger, forced her off the road and stole her purse.

Police called in their dog, Agbar, to track Mount.

They say Agbar fell from a second-story window while on the hunt, but was not hurt, and led officers to Mount, who was arrested outside his apartment.

Wild deer escapes troublesome plastic pumpkin
Animal had been unable to eat due to fake jack-o’-lantern stuck on snout

The Associated Press

A young deer struggles to free itself from a plastic jack-o'-lantern on Nov. 6 in Cascade Township, Mich. The animal finally freed itself on Saturday, officials said.

CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. - A deer whose head was stuck in a plastic Halloween jack-o’-lantern for nearly a week has freed itself and will be fine, animal rescuers said Saturday.

Two children found a dented, hair-lined plastic pumpkin in their yard Friday night, and other neighbors saw a thin deer running free, The Grand Rapids Press reported. It was rainy Friday, which rescuers think helped the young deer wriggle free.

Rescuers had planned to use a dart gun to tranquilize the yearling, then remove the bucket, meant for collecting candy.

The bucket was stuck on the animal’s snout, hanging like a feed bag, preventing it from eating or drinking. It had appeared to be snagged on the buck’s ears or horn buds.

Dr. Wendy Swift, a veterinarian, said there was some water residue in the bucket, which probably provided the deer with some water to drink.

“I think this deer will be just fine,” Swift said.

Did Spain's king hunt bear drunk on vodka?
Juan Carlos' office denies report, but Russian region investigates

The Associated Press

Spain's King Juan Carlos, right, chats with Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on Oct. 12 during a military parade in Madrid.

MADRID - The king says it didn't happen. Mitrofan the bear isn't around to talk about it anymore.

A spokeswoman for Spanish King Juan Carlos said Thursday that Russian reports that the 68-year-old monarch brought down a tamed and inebriated bear during a visit in August were "ridiculous."

The palace confirmed the king, who is known to enjoy hunting, was in Russia at the time of the alleged shooting, but it says he didn't kill any bear, let alone one that was fed vodka-spiked honey.

"He neither hunted with (Russian President Vladimir) Putin nor killed a bear," a spokeswoman for the palace told The Associated Press.

But those denials are apparently not enough to stop regional Russian authorities from launching an inquiry into how Mitrofan met his end.

Vyacheslav Pozgalyov, governor of the Vologda region about 250 miles northeast of Moscow, set up a working group including a deputy governor and top environmental protection officials to look into the August incident, said his spokeswoman Yevgenia Toloknova.

Vodka-laced honey alleged
Russia's top business daily Kommersant on Thursday cited a letter to the governor written by the region's deputy hunting chief, Sergei Starostin, claiming the bear — named Mitrofan — had been fed honey mixed with vodka before being released near the site where the king was to be hunting.

Toloknova refused to say whether any local officials had accompanied the king on his hunting trip. Starostin wrote in the letter that the local authorities turned the king's hunting into a "disgusting fraud."

Mitrofan, whom Starostin described as "a good-natured and joyful bear" was taken from his home at a local holiday resort and brought to the hunting place where they "generously fed him with vodka mixed with honey and pushed him into a field," the newspaper quoted the letter as saying.

"Naturally, a heavy, drunken animal became an easy target. His Highness Juan Carlos took Mitrofan out with one shot," Starostin said in the letter, according to Kommersant.

During the August trip, Juan Carlos also met with Putin at the Russian president's vacation residence in a Black Sea resort city, discussing bilateral and international issues. The Russian media reports do not allege that Putin was present during the hunt in Vologda.

King an avid hunter
Though the Spanish palace spokeswoman, whose name could not be used due to palace rules, described the reports of the bear's shooting as "ridiculous," the king has reportedly taken aim at the beasts before.

Juan Carlos bagged five bears and two wild boar during a trip to Romania in 2004, according to a report in Spain's El Mundo newspaper. That same year, he took up an invitation to hunt bison and pheasants in Poland.

It was unlikely the Russian reports would have any effect on Juan Carlos's high popularity at home.

The king is a soft-spoken and respected father-figure for modern Spain, acting largely as a figurehead monarch and international ambassador for all things Spanish. Spaniards like his down-to-earth manner and family-man image.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Queen's Closet
What Marie Antoinette really wore.

By Anne Hollander

As Queen of France, Marie Antoinette attracted enough public loathing to ensure the French monarchy's downfall. That loathing, as Caroline Weber points out in Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution, was largely focused on the queen's clothes. After the royal family was imprisoned in 1792, a mob invaded the Tuileries—their palace in Paris—and made straight for the queen's wardrobe, to festoon themselves in her rich garments and then rip into shreds whatever they didn't take. Earlier, at Versailles, another mob had rushed to the queen's dressing room just to smash all the mirrors, leaving the priceless furniture and paintings untouched.

This book's theme is the way young Queen Marie Antoinette took up pointed, disturbing fashions to give herself a visible autonomy and personal force that tradition didn't provide. Weber sees this as a deliberate strategy, although it makes more sense as an instinctive maneuver. French queens had no political role, could never inherit the throne or exercise royal power, and this future queen had arrived at Versailles politically ignorant and inept. She found the court riven with faction, she had few reliable supporters of her own, and her distant imperial mother's advice soon proved useless. Marie Antoinette might well have felt that her personal style was all she could manipulate.

As the new wife of the crown prince, her one legitimate function was to produce offspring, but the young heir seemed unable to do his part at the beginning. She had her first child only after eight and a half fruitless years; and after four of them, the new queen began to focus her creative energy on clothes. She didn't invent fashions. She promoted radical new ones through her public persona, in the modern, celebrity-culture way—and that's why we like her today, instead of automatically despising her as the last century did. Sofia Coppola's film reflects our present sympathy for an eager-to-please teenager's fashion-addictive responses to unbearable demands, especially when cut off from family love—and we, of course, are safely cut off from the assumptions governing the upbringing of 18th-century royal children.

Marie Antoinette's mother, Austrian Empress Maria Theresa, had destined her for this marriage from birth, grooming her appearance and behavior for all levels of French scrutiny. While commoners hailed her angelic blond looks as an augury of better times, the court delighted in her fine grasp of the French tongue, French manners, and Bourbon history. But the empress may have had an unsubtle sense of current French style. Paris had long since ruled European fashion, regularly sending elegant fashion dolls as models to foreign capitals, including the Vienna of Archduchess Marie Antoinette's childhood. The little girl was always dressed accordingly. Weber describes a painting of an imperial family group showing the nonmarriageable oldest daughter plainly dressed, while the 7-year-old future dauphine and her toy fashion doll have on the same formal French dress with a train.

The empress may not have realized that in teeming Paris, avant-garde fashion then went along with refined sexual license, class intermingling, and free political talk, whereas fashion at Versailles remained chiefly an important aspect of court etiquette. Marie Antoinette's first experience of the difference occurred halfway through her journey from home, at the ceremony called remise, or handover.

In a small pavilion situated between French and Austrian soil, a troupe of French ladies stripped the girl naked, while French and Austrian diplomats watched. Then they replaced every atom of the Paris-inspired finery she had worn out of Austria with similar garments and adornments made in France, symbolically transforming her from an Austrian imperial archduchess into a French royal princess with completely new allegiances.

The dauphine found that her court duties demanded unfashionably heavy dresses supported by old-style, extra-long, extra-rigid corsets, accompanied by thick rouge and stiff curls. These items were ritually applied every day by a phalanx of noblewomen, while lesser court ladies watched; and, at night, the whole process was reversed. She rebelled, soon and permanently, risking her mother's anger, the court's disfavor, eventually the people's scorn, and her own neck.

Once queen, she steadily ordered the newest looks from Rose Bertin, the leading Paris couturiere—among them the provocative "robe a la polonaise," with its bosom-enhancing bodice and its billowy, ankle-baring skirts, the whole crowned by a "pouf," a 3-foot mountain of powdered hair decked with plumes, veils, and other objects arranged as saucy references to current events. All this and more she wore at court and in town, with swiftly contagious effect; and Bertin became known as the Minister of Fashion.

Marie Antoinette was not a beauty (she had the Habsburg jaw); but she was an enchantress, effortlessly wearing the wildest fashions with the utter conviction of a star. The fashion she followed was moreover the new commercial mode of the larger society, not the old hermetic style of courtiers using their rich garb to reflect the Sun King's glory. It was soon obvious that her expensive modern glamour was enhancing only herself, not the monarchy.

It hadn't occurred to Maria Theresa that by training her pliable daughter from age 3 to sit, stand, walk, and bow gracefully—and dance divinely—wearing tight stays, long trains, and wide skirts with all eyes upon her, she was giving her the tools of self-creation and self-possession wholly in terms of striking costume and polished movement, as if preparing her for professional ballet or competitive ice-skating.

Weber convincingly suggests that Marie Antoinette felt those tools being stripped from her at the remise and the dressing and undressing ceremonies at court; and that she exerted herself to get them back. She began clothing and wielding her body to attract the forms of respect she understood: wonder and delight, shock and awe, the sincere flattery of imitation. Her skimpy moral education had left her unprepared for contempt and disgust.

As we all know, she met with both. The dauphine's sartorial boldness emerged early, and drew swift disapproval. She went riding astride with her husband's grandfather, the libertine Louis XV, wearing a man-tailored habit with breeches; and she even wore the shocking outfit for an equestrian portrait, modeled on one of Louis XIV. After that, the flavor of forbidden sexual adventure, and of poaching on royal male preserves, tainted her reputation and never disappeared.

Later she flouted court etiquette when she drove off her noble dressers, sacrilegiously inviting plebeian Bertin (even plebeian Leonard, the chic male hairdresser) daily into her private apartments to clothe, coif, and advise her behind closed doors. This was even more unseemly because the one court lady for whom ultra-chic fashion was appropriate was the king's mistress—a post then vacant—whereas the queen was expected to look like the king's dutiful First Subject, not his costly Favorite Object.

Still later, she offended French patriots when she adopted Anglophile fashions and spent her time with congenial foreign nobility. At the Petit Trianon—a small palace with its own grounds that served as Marie Antoinette's personal retreat—she introduced thin muslin chemises with sashes, linen caps, or straw hats above lightly powdered fluffy hair, no jewelry. This casual look, worn by countless European ladies, seemed shameless on the French queen, who (naturally) had her portrait painted in it. Her little palace was closed to the public, and her total privacy there (conspiratorial? sexual?) made a scandal of the queen's flimsy foreign clothes and foreign friends.

Most shocking in Queen Marie Antoinette was her extravagance, well-documented in the yearly records of her clothing expenses, in dressmakers' accounts, and in memoirs saying that the queen wore nothing twice. Worse was the expensive toy farm she built at the Petit Trianon, complete with livestock and crops, where her friends played at being milkmaids and shepherdesses. It's still considered her chief crime, but the queen had no sense of its effect. The French treasury was depleted, the deficit increasing, the people protesting against unbearable taxes and shortages, but Marie Antoinette, never taught to consider the people's troubles, had no clue.

While fashion plates wore her face, pamphlets and pornography made her a monster—dissolute Messalina, lesbian predator, traitorous conspirator, snake-haired Medusa, harpy with claws, vampire in foreign muslin spending state millions to mock local rustics, wasting pounds of flour on her hair while the people starved for bread. Once angelic, Marie Antoinette was now plotting with hostile powers, including Lucifer, to undermine the well-being of France.

And when the Revolution exploded and prevailed, she instinctively abandoned new trends. Nervous burghers and nobles, even the king, sported Republican tricolor cockades with modishly simple tricolor outfits. But the queen's cockade was Bourbon white, her rich new dresses were purple and gold, and she got out her diamonds. Everyone could see that Marie Antoinette had no politics, only blind faith in royal privilege. Her fate, more firmly than the accommodating king's, was sealed when the Bastille fell.

Weber occasionally makes too much of Marie Antoinette's power. She repeatedly notes that the modest "Republican" dresses worn by most women in the early 1790s resembled those Marie Antoinette had introduced as avant-garde among aristocrats in the early 1780s, as though the queen personally influenced even the fashion of her enemies. She forgets that fashion runs under its own power, compelled toward desirable new forms. In fact, thin white chemises came into fashion everywhere in Europe around 1780 and stayed for nearly 40 years, no matter who was attaching what significance to them. This probably had more to do with the invention of chlorine bleach in 1774 than with anyone's fashion influence.

But Weber is certainly right to emphasize the queen's undeniable gifts when describing her solitary imprisonment after the king's execution. Visible to curious onlookers, Marie Antoinette wore her one increasingly stained and frayed black mourning ensemble day and night for two long months, even though her daughter had sent her some other clothes. At her trial, its tattered blackness aroused considerable sympathy, and she was forbidden to wear it to her execution—no public mourning for the tyrant.

So, chalk-pale Marie Antoinette rode to her death wearing a brand-new white chemise she had secretly saved, a pretty white fichu around her shoulders, and a pleated white cap on her prematurely white hair (she was two weeks short of 38), while thousands of dazzled citizens watched in stunned silence. The queen showed her unquenchable talent for inspired public display in all her last costumes, a sign of her true self-possession.

Weber is a serious historian, and nearly every sentence of her account is footnoted to one of her many sources, some not tapped before, some conflicting, as she explains. Her writing about the period is succinct and detailed, but what's most welcome is her use of her own feeling for clothes and their importance. This popular subject has been trivially belabored by numerous cultural-studies academics with no personal stake in dress history or in actual garments. It's refreshing to find solid interpretive work and historical responsibility in an impassioned book on clothing's power over perception and self-perception.

Sofia Coppola's film makes deft cinematic use of this material, though it leaves out Rose Bertin. Coppola instead conveys Marie Antoinette's fashion appetite as an unappeasable lust for fabulous shoes and fabulous sweets, both shown perpetually being reached for and consumed with great speed to a musical beat, along with endless champagne being poured and swilled. This strikes a sharply modern chord, and Caroline Weber herself, in a recent New York Times op-ed piece, has approved its warning note.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Dolphin reveals an extra set of ‘legs’
Scientists say fins may represent throwback to ancient land-dwelling ways

By Hiroko Tabuchi

TOKYO - Japanese researchers said Sunday that a bottlenose dolphin captured last month has an extra set of fins that could be the remains of hind legs, a discovery that may provide further evidence that ocean-dwelling mammals once lived on land.

Fishermen captured the four-finned dolphin alive off the coast of Wakayama prefecture in western Japan on Oct. 28, and alerted the nearby Taiji Whaling Museum, according to museum director Katsuki Hayashi.

Fossil remains show dolphins and whales were four-footed land animals about 50 million years ago and share the same common ancestor as hippos and deer. Scientists believe they later transitioned to an aquatic lifestyle and their hind limbs disappeared.

Whale and dolphin fetuses also show signs of hind protrusions but these generally disappear before birth.

Though odd-shaped protrusions have been found near the tails of dolphins and whales captured in the past, researchers say this was the first time one had been found with well-developed, symmetrical fins, Hayashi said.

"I believe the fins may be remains from the time when dolphins' ancient ancestors lived on land ... this is an unprecedented discovery," Seiji Osumi, an adviser at Tokyo's Institute of Cetacean Research, said at a news conference televised Sunday.

The second set of fins — much smaller than the dolphin's front fins — are about the size of human hands and protrude from near the tail on the dolphin's underside. The dolphin measures 8.92 feet (2.7 meters) and is about five years old, according to the museum.

Hayashi said he could not tell from watching the dolphin swim in a musuem tank whether it used its back fins to maneuver.

A freak mutation may have caused the ancient trait to reassert itself, Osumi said. The dolphin will be kept at the Taiji museum to undergo X-ray and DNA tests, according to Hayashi.

Bad Habits Can Be Good for Your Career
De-stressing After Work

By Candace Corner,

Everyone has a bad habit or two (or six). Bad habits don't necessarily have to work against you. After a long day at the office, keeping all of your emotions in check and your work in focus, you could use a little de-stressing to wind down. Here are some bad habits that could actually work to your advantage if you work 'em the right way:

Playing Video Games
If you regularly settle down to devote hours of your free time to Halo, or you nestle into your wheelie chair on your daily lunch break to conquer a round of Minesweeper, you're probably a gamer -- or you're really good at hiding it. The truth is, a little time in fantasy land could be just what you needed. Dr. Kathleen Hall, founder of the Stress Institute and author of "A Life in Balance: Nourishing the Four Roots of True Happiness" recommends 10 to 15 minutes of online computer play to refresh and get you ready to work. Even video games can have a positive effect if you keep your play time to a minimum. Current studies show that certain games and game time can actually help kids concentrate.

Dressing Your Worst
There's the right way to dress for work and the wrong way, but when you're no longer there, you can wear whatever you want. Unless you've hit celebrity status and are under the constant eye of the paparazzi, ditching your work duds and slipping into something a little more comfortable can help create a whole new attitude to fit with your changed environment. It's similar to the effects feng shui can have on your office or your room. Feeling good in what you're wearing gears you up for what's next -- whether it's mowing the lawn, doing the laundry or taking a much-needed break.

Watching TV
Whether it is "Seinfeld" reruns, reality TV or ESPN filling your tube time, there's a solution: Keep it under an hour and everyone wins. Dr. Gary Solomon has not only studied the therapeutic effects of movies and TV shows, but he's even trademarked the term "cinematherapy." Solomon says that flawed characters in these shows enable you to dig a little deeper and see that not everyone's perfect. To give yourself a motivational kick, Solomon suggests viewing a movie along the lines of "North Country" or "Working Girl."

Swear It All Out
If you desperately need to let it all out without censoring yourself, take your day-at-work reviews to the most reliable confidant you have -- yourself. Keeping a journal or sketch book gives you the chance to say everything on your mind without the same consequences you may have telling a real person. If you've got your mind in the gutter, a mouth like a sailor or fear your book could get discovered, you may want to take your musings to an online journal. It eliminates the worries of where you left it and who could find it, with your own password to access it whenever you choose. Just remember to select the "private entry" mode when you write something you're not ready to share.

You've whipped out the bills in your wallet so many times that you have actually gotten paper-cuts. Or maybe your dream vacation is a trip to Las Vegas with access to place "just one more bet" over and over again. Well, unless you have the funds to back that kind of desire without watching your life savings dwindle, you could be in trouble. Instead, take the money-losing part out and counter it with online gaming. A non-backed bet on the computer could even provide you with practice to learn more about it before you place your bets. If that's not your scene, try a friendly weekly game of poker with friends who live as frugally as you do. You could multitask by making your time with friends fun, educational and maybe even profitable.

Rocking Out Your Air Guitar
The song starts and you're center stage, guitar in hand, rocking out and singing every song like you own it. Only you don't really own it. In fact, center stage is actually your living room and the only instrument you have is the hairbrush you use as your microphone when you're not belting out your hair metal solos. Well, all the energy you pour into your private shows not only helps you memorize every note, it also releases endorphins, entertains and could even help you win some money. And if you practice enough, you could find yourself in the U.S. Air Guitar contest and be in the running to be an international air-superstar.

Descendants of King David plan Israel reunion
Organization seeking to foster Jewish unity gathering Jews of 'Davidic lineage'

By Aaron Klein
© 2006

JERUSALEM – An international foundation is seeking to gather Jewish descendants of King David, the second biblical king of Israel, for a reunion next year in Jerusalem aimed at fostering Jewish unity.

"King David was the first and essentially the only king of Israel to unite all of the Jewish people under one kingdom," said Susan Roth, CEO and founder of the Eshet Chayil Foundation, a group that sponsors Jewish charitable organizations and promotes Jewish education.

"In these times of conflict and divisiveness it is very fitting to make a public expression of unity, a demonstration to show it is time for the Jewish people to be joined together while common enemies from around the world once again seek our destruction," Roth said.

Roth also founded the Davidic Dynasty, which is sponsored by the Eshet Chayil Foundation and seeks to promote awareness about Jewish history and Jewish ties to the land of Israel through the life and leadership of King David.

The Dynasty is holding a launch dinner in New York this week ahead of a larger conference and a first-ever reunion of Davidic descendants in Israel in May 2007. The dinner honors prominent descendants of King David including Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau Jr. and senior rabbinic figures.

The reunion in Jerusalem is slated for May 28-30, honoring the 40-year reign of David and coinciding with the 40th year anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, which was recaptured by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War.

"At this critical time when Israel faces existential dangers that deny Jews have an eternal right to our homeland, we must restore our glorious pride as a nation and say that we will not allow Israel to be destroyed," said Roth.

Highlights of the reunion include a recitation at the Western Wall of Psalms, which King David authored; visits to archaeological sites connected to David; lectures from scholars and genealogy experts; and the dedication of a Torah scroll in honor of King David.

David initially established his kingdom in Hebron, which is 20 miles south of Jerusalem and is believed to be home to the resting place of the biblical patriarchs and matriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah. After ruling in Hebron for seven years, David conquered Jerusalem, uniting Israel's tribes and establishing the Jewish state's capital.

The story of King David is told throughout the Bible's books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles. He is believed to have reigned from 1005 until about 965 BC.

Jewish descent from David can be traced through oral tradition, rabbinic sources, historical data and extensive research, explained Chaim Freedman, a renowned Israeli genealogist who is serving as an advisor to the Davidic Dynasty.

Freedman said after the cessation of the Jewish monarchy following the destructions of the Jewish Temples, the line of David was carefully preserved and guarded.

"The Messiah will come from the line of David," Freedman explained. "It was considered important for multiple reasons for Jews to trace their lineage."

Many great rabbis and Jewish leaders have said they are descended from David. Rashi, the 11th century author of one of the most authoritative commentaries, said he was a descendant, as did the leaders of the Jewish communities in Babylon, where the Jews were exiled and maintained a de-facto civil government until they were expelled to Spain in the 14th century.

In Spain, Rabbi Isaac Luria, a Jewish scholar and founder of one of the most important branches of Kaballah, wrote he was a descendant. Later, the leaders of the Jewish Chassidic movement in Europe, including its founder, Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer, also known as the Baal Shem Tov, stated they were descendants. Rabbi Judah Hanasi, editor of the Mishnah, the authoritative recording of Jewish oral law, was also said to have been a descendent of King David.

"Most families claim descent from King David through Rashi, which is matrilineal descent since Rashi only had daughters," explained Chaim Freedman. "Several families claim descent directly from father to son, while others trace their lineage through oral tradition and family trees to other great Jewish scholars, such as the Baal Shem Tov," he concluded.

In Christianity, the very first verse of the Gospel of Matthew states Jesus is the "son of David."

The Davidic Dynasty, through its research staff, helps those who have a tradition of descedancy to trace their lineage. The group is procuring what it says will be the largest collection of Davidic lineage charts, including family trees and birth-line connections to Jewish sages descended from David.

The material will be available at the upcoming International Davidic Dynasty Genealogy Center and Museum in Jerusalem's Old City, which is being founded by Roth's organization.

The museum is slated to feature archaeological artifacts from the times of David, audiovisual and multimedia presentations and a glass figurine exhibit depicting the life of King David as told in the Bible, explained museum coordinator Yisroel Cohen.

"The idea of the museum is that Jews from all over the world – religious and secular – should come in and feel that they are a part of a spectacular heritage that comes straight from the Bible," Cohen said.

Roth, who says she is a Davidic descendant through Rashi and from prominent Chassidic leaders explained why she decided to launch the reunion this year:

"Israel is being bombarded by its enemies from without and even has its own perils from within – Jewish assimilation, intermarriage and those who wish to forfeit their Jewish identity and birthright. These elements are also threatening our very existence. Now is the time to make a statement of Jewish unity and pride.

8 great after-church dates
By Margot Carmichael Lester

Church-going daters have Sunday morning covered what with worship services, Sunday School and coffee in the Fellowship Hall. But what if you’re not quite ready to part ways with your honey after the last cup of joe has been served by the Ladies’ Auxiliary? What’s next on the agenda?

No need to pray for divine inspiration. Just turn to these eight ideas for great after-church dates:

1. Give back. “Most churches are pretty service-oriented and encourage their members to be, too,” says Angie Clarke of Independence, MI. Helping out at a shelter, food pantry, nursing home or the church nursery for the afternoon will help you tell a lot about a person from how you see them work with other people in a charitable way.”

2. Get out, part 1: Sherry Pawley of Denver, CO likes a post-worship picnic. “I just pack the cooler before services and then head to a nearby park or natural area,” she explains. “It’s a nice way to reflect on the service, soak in some nature and relax a little.” Bad weather? Take your picnic indoors—to a Sunday school room or one of your apartments.

3. Get out, part 2: “After sitting for so long at church, I like to do something active,” says Dante Parks of Philadelphia, PA. “A hike or a bike ride is always fun. If the weather’s bad, even walking around the mall is a good way to get your blood flowing and there will be plenty to talk about.”
Go shopping. “I’m renovating a historic home and I like to spend Sunday afternoons poking around those architectural salvage places,” says Paxton Brantley of Raleigh, NC. “There’s cool stuff there and you will learn a lot about someone’s tastes by what they gravitate to.”

4. Show your gratitude. “Take a walk or drive to the park or some beautiful local spot and take turns sharing what you appreciate about each other,” suggests Judy Kuriansky, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to a Healthy Relationship. “List three things that you are grateful for that he or she has done for you or for someone else and share them.”

5. Be artistic. “I like to get creative, so going to the paint-your-pottery place is always a good bet,” says Stephanie Pena of Seattle, WA. “Even the most manly man can paint a coffee mug or light-switch cover. Plus, it’s a good way to find out if he’s willing to do something I enjoy even if he doesn’t.”

6. Debrief. Contemplating the service is an important part of Dan Harwayne’s Sunday ritual. “I have a favorite quiet coffee house where we can discuss the day’s homily,” he notes. “That provides a good window into how she interprets the Bible, which is important to me.”

7. Dig in. “In my family, eating after church was a big deal,” says Damon Norris of Nashville, TN. “I’m always starving after services, so my ideal date is to sit down to some home-made cooking—either at my place, hers if she cooks, or at a local family-style restaurant. Pass the ribs!”

With these ideas in your pocket, you’re sure to make a great impression and forge a better connection with your date—after church or any time.

“If I’d only known then…”
By Chelsea Kaplan

It’s no shocker that we all learn from our mistakes (especially when those mistakes involve, say, dating our ex-husband’s best friend a month after our divorce). But there’s a less painful way to learn—from other people’s mistakes. This is why we sought the advice of some folks who have all navigated the choppy waters of dating after a big breakup. Here are their best suggestions to help you smoothly re-enter the dating scene.

The first year can be the worst
“Be really careful about those twelve months or so post-divorce. When you start dating, you’re ecstatic that someone is interested in you; plus, the sex is usually incredible because it’s new. It’s all very intoxicating. Next thing you know, you’re meeting her kids and saying ‘l love you.’ But soon, you realize there are other — maybe better — opportunities out there and you’re locked into a situation that’s going to be very difficult to get out of. Take it slow. Sure, date and have fun, but keep it in the back of your mind that you have a lot of learning and relearning to do.”
–Gordon Kaye, 40, Dallas, TX

Dating styles change
“I was married eight days after turning 20, and divorced 11 years later. When I started dating again at 32, it suddenly occurred to me that I had never been on a date that wasn't ‘Dutch,’ or with another couple or a group. I guess I just assumed that dating was dating, but I soon realized that divorced people in their thirties (or anyone in their thirties!) don’t all grab dinner and movie with a group of friends, and call that a date.”
–Cheryl Utillo, 39, New York, NY

Ex doesn’t always mark the spot
“When dating another divorced person, it is OK to talk about your ex—you both have common ground on that one. You can sort of bond on the subject, and there’s usually some pretty funny material there. If your date has never been married, however, DO NOT bring up your ex—with a ‘never been married’ it is taboo unless they ask. Hearing about your failed marriage is no way to sell yourself, and you will totally spook the person with tales of nasty divorce.”
-Mike Baron, 40, Short Hills, NJ

Prepare yourself before heading out
“Before embarking on the dating scene, I took a ‘divorce recovery’ class at my church. They’re offered at a number of places of worship and it was really helpful—in fact, I imagine it would be even if you’re not religious. We covered topics like recovering from sadness, feeling guilty, good ways to get back out there and meet people—all the things you’d expect, really. I felt like it helped me put a lot of things in perspective before I began dating again. It was like group therapy, but free!”
–Suellen Horton, 38, Vienna, VA

May/December romance isn’t for everyone
“When I began dating, I thought that most men my age would want to date younger trophy women (I guess that’s because my ex wound up with a woman 22 years his junior!). However, I found out that the genuinely mature older men want women that they can relate to who are their own age. They also don’t really care if I have a few extra pounds on me; they know it’s what’s inside my head and heart that is important.”
–Judy Young, 49, Darien, CT

Forget the singles scene
“I wish I had known that the best places to meet people are the simplest places. I consistently went out with friends to bars, concerts, festivals — you name it — but I always struck out. It was just so hard to have an actual conversation in a loud, crowded venue like that. I have the best luck meeting cool people at the grocery store after work, right before dinnertime. That’s when single people grab something for dinner. It might sound silly, but trust me, it’s a great way to meet a normal person!”
-Jason McSweeney, 37, Hoboken, NJ

Lay it on the line
“After being divorced, I feel like I have less interest in playing games, probably because that whole ‘I only want to be married once so this has to be perfect!’ plan is out the window. I am always clear and up front about the fact that I have two teenage kids, that I am committed to staying in Chicago, and that I want to get married again. Anyone who has a problem with that wouldn’t be a good match for me anyway, so why waste time?”
-Diane Resnikoff, 38, Chicago, IL

Dinner: not always a winner
“After I got divorced, everyone I knew wanted to set me up on blind dates, maybe because they felt sorry for me! After going on three disastrously painful Saturday night dinner dates, I think this isn’t the best plan with someone you’ve never met. If you hit it off, great, but if it’s not ‘there,’ you’re stuck for a long time. A better way to go: Meet for drinks, lunch or brunch. If you are both into each other, you’ve got the option of continuing the date further, but if you’re not, you can end it pretty quickly.”
–Ben Abrams, 44, Atlanta, GA

Get on the ’net
“I suppose if I'd have known earlier how convenient, easy and fun online dating was, I would have started sooner. When you think about it, we use the Internet to facilitate nearly everything in our lives, so why not dating? My experiences with online dating have all been positive. I’ve met a lot of really wonderful women, and only a couple of nutcases, but even they weren’t all bad. What’s surprised me is the huge number of women in my city who date online; most of them are working professionals who are online because it’s the most efficient way to meet someone who has the potential to be a match.”
-John Drexler, 41, Portland, OR

Looks can be deceiving
“My number one piece of advice is to re-evaluate your standards and focus on what is really important in a mate. When I began dating after my divorce, I all but refused to go out with men who were not extremely good-looking. Most were either cocky players who were only interested in sex, or dull duds with pretty faces. After six months of this, my best friend begged me to go out with her co-worker who she said was ‘average-looking, but off-the-charts nice.’ I finally did, and he was such an incredible person—after only a few dates, I knew he was The One, who should have been The One the first time around! Thank goodness I finally broadened my extremely narrow (and, admittedly, shallow) standards. Had I not, who knows if I would have met my current husband?”
-Polly Darrow, 38, Gainesville, FL

Friday, November 03, 2006

Self-Publish Your Books, Songs, and Movies Online
Finished with your latest masterpiece? New distribution channels let you make it available to the masses.

Scott Spanbauer

It used to be that, to get your book published and in the hands of readers, you needed an agent and a publisher, each of whom would gobble up a significant portion of the profits. But the times they are a-changin', thanks to a bevy of recent online publishing resources that cater to renaissance persons who are overflowing with creativity and underflowing with cash. Here's a snapshot of the services available to starving artists.

Books: If all you want to do is send a printed version of the family cookbook to Sis, Mom, and Grandpa, you can. Blurb lets you create one-off hardbound print copies of your book--complete with dust jacket--for between $30 (for up to 40 pages) and $80 (topping out at 400 pages) each, with discounts for bulk orders. You start by downloading Blurb's free BookSmart book-design and publishing program (see Figure 1: Build a beautiful book with Blurb's free BookSmart program, but keep in mind that all revenue flows to Blurb.). When your tome is ready, you upload it for printing and receive your copy within a week or so. Blurb customers retain the rights to their original content, but Blurb does not currently pay royalties on books that customers offer through the Blurb Bookstore. The company says that it plans to add a royalty system later this year.

Lulu gives authors a fairer shake. This online publishing service imposes no up-front costs. In fact, if you don't need a copy of the book for yourself, you'll never pay anything to publish through Lulu. The downside of the service is that you have to do all the book-editing and layout legwork, using your own software; you then submit your manuscript in layout form as a PDF, .doc, or .rtf file. You set the cover price and the royalty rate you wish to receive, and Lulu offers the book through, Borders, Barnes and Noble, and its own Web site. The service's extensive tutorials guide you through the whole process.

Audio: Lulu also lets you create and sell CDs, but a better place to sell them online is at CD Baby. For a $35 setup fee, CD Baby will copy your CD, make a Web page for you, accept credit-card orders for CDs, and ship the discs to customers. CD Baby keeps $4 per CD, or 9 percent of digital download sales, and it also partners with record stores and online services such as iTunes.

Video: Video-hosting services are all the rage these days--we analyzed several in September's "Video Everywhere"--but finding one that lets you sell your audiovisual production isn't easy. Google Video is structured to allow sales, but that feature is off-limits to ordinary users while the service remains in beta testing. By the time you read this, will likely allow users of its service to charge for video downloads, taking a small per-transaction fee of 10 to 15 cents, as well as a single-digit percentage of your selling price.
Charging for your video will greatly reduce its viewership. One way to keep your opus free and yet still cash in is by selling ads. lets you arrange for post-roll advertising--video ads tacked onto the end of your video--and splits the resulting revenue with you 50-50 (the proceeds are deposited to your PayPal account). If you're getting serious about publishing your creative endeavors, revenue sources like these can help defray the costs.

When Publishing Online, Always Honor the Copyrights

Before uploading your creation, know whether you're legally entitled to. If you wrote it, it's yours. You can quote snippets of other people's work (with attribution) under the fair-use doctrine, but otherwise it's a no-no to post or sell copyrighted content. Most services eventually yank copyright-infringing items from their servers, and they may ban you from posting unless you desist. If it came from a CD, it's probably copyrighted. To find royalty-free "podsafe" music to use in your productions, choose songs that are in the public domain (primarily music and lyrics published before 1922 in the United States). To locate such content, visit the Podsafe Music Network, PodsafeAudio, or Creative Commons.