Lottery Post Journal

AOL Members Finally Get E-mail

I don't know whether to shout, laugh, or cry, but after literally hundreds of hours spent working with AOL, I have finally gotten our web server whitelisted with AOL.

That means that AOL members will now get all the same e-mails from Lottery Post that everyone else gets.

It means that new members looking to receive the activation e-mails will finally be able to activate their accounts.

It means that I will finally be able to reply to AOL members who send me e-mails.

Finally.

Strange Letter of the Week

Here's a message I received this evening.

I hope this sheds a bit of light on the strangeness that it is being a Webmaster of a popular web site.

It will naturally be amusing to most who read it, and possibly seem quite harmless.  But can you imagine what it would be like to receive messages just like this one day in and day out, 365 days a year?

After a while, you start to become a bit speechless, searching for the right words to respond — or even if you should respond; it's a strange phenomena.

I am a little upset...

I was on Vacation and bought 2 of your lottos.

But I am unable to find out the results.

My Lottos are for July 16 2005

But your web site will only let me look at Aprils results.

I bought 2 QP & 1 Powerball...

It looks like I will have to email ALL my family and Friends and let

them know... NOT to Buy Lousiana Lotto's... and NOT use your web-site

ThanX

<e-mail address removed>

 

Hey, maybe we'll start to get some balanced media coverage of Iraq

New York Times

Editors Ponder How to Present a Broad Picture of Iraq
August 15, 2005
By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE

Rosemary Goudreau, the editorial page editor of The Tampa Tribune, has received the same e-mail message a dozen times over the last year.

"Did you know that 47 countries have re-established their embassies in Iraq?" the anonymous polemic asks, in part. "Did you know that 3,100 schools have been renovated?"

"Of course we didn't know!" the message concludes. "Our media doesn't tell us!"

Ms. Goudreau's newspaper, like most dailies in America, relies largely on The Associated Press for its coverage of the Iraq war. So she finally forwarded the e-mail message to Mike Silverman, managing editor of The A.P., asking if there was a way to check these assertions and to put them into context. Like many other journalists, Mr. Silverman had also received a copy of the message.

Ms. Goudreau's query prompted an unusual discussion last month in New York at a regular meeting of editors whose newspapers are members of The Associated Press. Some editors expressed concern that a kind of bunker mentality was preventing reporters in Iraq from getting out and explaining the bigger picture beyond the daily death tolls.

"The bottom-line question was, people wanted to know if we're making progress in Iraq," Ms. Goudreau said, and the A.P. articles were not helping to answer that question.

"It was uncomfortable questioning The A.P., knowing that Iraq is such a dangerous place," she said. "But there's a perception that we're not telling the whole story."

Mr. Silverman said in an interview that he was aware of that perception. "Other editors said they get calls from readers who are hearing stories from returning troops of the good things they have accomplished while there, and readers find that at odds with the generally gloomy portrayal in the papers of what's going on in Iraq," he said.

Mr. Silverman said the editors were asking for help in making sense of the situation. "I was glad to have that discussion with the editors because they have to deal with the perception that the media is emphasizing the negative," he said.

"We're there to report the good and the bad and we try to give due weight to everything going on," he said. "It is unfortunate that the explosions and shootings and fatalities and injuries on some days seem to dominate the news."

Suki Dardarian, deputy managing editor of The Seattle Times and vice president of the board of the Associated Press Managing Editors, said that the discussion was "a pretty healthy one."

"One of the things the editors felt was that as much context as you can bring, the better," Ms. Dardarian said. "They wanted them to get beyond the breaking news to 'What does this mean?' "

She also said that as Mr. Silverman and Kathleen Carroll, The A.P.'s executive editor, responded to the concerns, the editors realized that some questions were impossible to answer. For example, she said, the editors understood that it was much easier to add up the number of dead than to determine how many hospitals received power on a particular day or how many schools were built.

Mr. Silverman said the wire service was covering Iraq "as accurately as we can" while "also trying to keep our people out of harm's way."

"The main obstacle we face," he said, "is the severe limitation on our movement and our ability to get out and report. It's very confining for our staff to go into Baghdad and have to spend most of their time on the fifth floor of the Palestine Hotel," which is home to most of the press corps. The hotel was struck by a tank shell in 2003, killing two journalists.

Iraq remains the most dangerous place in the world to work as a journalist, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. At least 13 media workers have been killed in Iraq so far this year, bringing the total to 50 since the war began in 2003.

"Postwar Iraq is fraught with risks for reporters: Banditry, gunfire and bombings are common," the committee's Web site says. "Insurgents have added a new threat by systematically targeting foreigners, including journalists, and Iraqis who work for them."

Mr. Silverman said The A.P. had already decided before the meeting that it would have Robert H. Reid, an A.P. correspondent at large who has reported frequently from Iraq, write an overview every 10 days.

Mr. Silverman also said the wire service would make more effort to flag articles that look beyond the breaking news. As it turned out, he said, most of the information in the anonymous e-mail message had been reported by The A.P., but the details had been buried in articles or the articles had been overlooked.

Before the meeting, The A.P. collected three articles by reporters for other news organizations who were embedded with American troops and sent them out over the wire to provide "more voice." Mr. Silverman said he wanted to do more of that but the opportunities were limited because there are only three dozen embedded journalists now, compared with 700 when the war began more than two years ago.

Ms. Goudreau, for one, found the discussion useful. By the end, she said, editors were acknowledging that even in their own hometowns, "we're more likely to focus on people who are killed than on the positive news out of a school."

Tired of getting credit card offers in the mail?

If you're tired of receiving a mountain of credit card offers in the mail every month, I just found a service that will help get rid of most of the junk mail!

Go to the following web site, and in 5 minutes you can "opt-out" of all pre-screen credit card offers, either permanently or for 5 years.

http://www.optoutprescreen.com/

It's simple and quick!

If you'd rather do it over the phone, call 888-561-8688.  But doing it on the web is much better, because you can type and see everything exactly as you intend.

War-Protesting Mom

I'm extremely sympathetic to any parent who loses a child in the armed forces.  I know the protective feeling that any parent has for their children, and the gaping hole that is left in a parent's heart when their child is taken from them.

Unfortunately, I think it's finally become apparent that the war-protesting mother of soldier Casey Sheehan is no longer acting based on those feeling of loss, and is instead acting as a puppet for radical liberal factions.

There will almost certainly be people who are appalled that I would say such a thing, because to some people, to point out negative facts about any grieving parent — no matter how obvious the facts — is strictly taboo.  Normally I would agree with that sentiment, but here we have a situation where normalcy does not apply.

This woman has crossed the line from grieving parent to political activist.  These are not the actions of a distraught mother, but rather the motivations of an opportunist.

I have been "fine" with the fact that she disagrees with the president about the war.  She has every right to have a dissenting viewpoint and to express it, especially given the fact that her child was killed in the very war that she disagrees with.

I have also been "fine" with the fact that she requested another meeting with the president.  The president, of course, should not make a precedent of caving into every protester that changes their mind, as she did, but I think he's missing an opportunity to deftly turn this situation on its head by quickly meeting with her.  After do so, he could then go in front of the nation and use that meeting to take on the liberal factions head-on, and once and for all shut down all their illogical arguments, through a description of facts and a dose of reality.

To me, being "fine" with these things means that all this woman's actions to that point seemed to remain within the bounds of true intentions and civilized behavior.

Now several new things have come to light which casts serious doubts on the woman's integrity, and illustrates that there is much more at work here than the grievings of a sorrowful parent.

Web Sightings

Cindy Sheehan has become the puppet of Michael Moore.  Featured on his web site as the latest way to slam the Bush administration (while spreading his liberal filth), Michael Moore is not only using this woman, but seems to have developed some kind of strange partnership with her.

I guess she feels like a rock star now that her picture is getting plastered all over his web site, but she naively is being used to sell more Michael Moore videos and increase his own visibility.  He's using her to keep in the public eye, by creating things like "Day 7 of the campout in Crawford" and online petitions.

There seems to be an entire circus created with the sole intention of getting a meeting with the president, so now any possibility of a civil meeting with the president is ruined.  It would turn into nothing more than a liberal activist rant, thanks to the kind-hearted Michael Moore and his ilk.

There is even a new "meetwithcindy.org" web site, in which the radical liberals try to equate the meeting with the Saudi head of state to meeting with this liberal woman.  ("If Bush met with the Saudi, why not meet with her?")

Well, for one thing, Bush DID meet with her, so the whole foundation of that argument is ridiculous.  Not to mention that the hypocritical liberals are basically using a racially-dividing tactic of slamming an Arab leader to try to turn people against the president.

Not Paying Taxes

Here's a new one:  now Sheehan says she's no longer going to pay taxes, and she has implied that if the IRS comes after her, she will use it as a propaganda opportunity.

She says, "My son was killed in 2004. I am not paying my taxes for 2004. You killed my son, George Bush, and I don't owe you a penny...you give my son back and I'll pay my taxes. Come after me (for back taxes) and we'll put this war on trial."

To me, that doesn't sound like a grieving parent.  It sounds like the worst case of a sleazy opportunist.

She wants to put the "war on trial"?  How about talking about her son for a change, and not political things like paying taxes and "putting the war on trial"?

Anti-Israel

Here we go again, another cut on the Israelis — the one country that has suffered the most terrorist attacks of any nation on Earth.

Sheehan said, "You get America out of Iraq and Israel out of Palestine and you'll stop the terrorism."

First of all, I'm curious about this new country (Palestine) that she invented.  Where exactly is it on the map?  I wonder how the Israelis could get out of it, if they're not sure where it is.

Secondly, I guess she's saying that because Israel was in "Palestine", we got attacked on 9/11.  It certainly wasn't because we were in Iraq, because we weren't at the time.  Why did those terrorists attack us?

Is she really that stupid to believe that if we just left Iraq, that the terrorism would stop?

If you follow all these idiotic liberal arguments to their logical conclusions, you'll find they all lead to the fact that this country is evil, and we try to spread our evil through the world.  (We're also evil "at home", because we're run by evil corporations who do stuff like taking forests away from poor owls, and taking rivers away from poor helpless frogs.)

Impeachment

The latest liberal garbage is to throw around the word "impeachment".  Sounds like they still haven't gotten over the fact that Clinton was impeached for lying to a grand jury.  (He should have been impeached for a lot more than that, but that's a different Blog entry.)

Sheehan said, "Now I'm going to use another 'I' word - impeachment - because we cannot have these people pardoned. They need to be tried on war crimes and go to jail."

Is she truly insane?  Or just temporarily wacky?

I'm sure this tale will go on and on, thanks to a liberal media that is always looking for a different negative angle on our president.

Thank God we have a president who has the fortitude to fight all of America's enemies — those who are abroad, as well as those who live within its citizenry.  Because right now both types of enemies are conducting their "warfare" against us in a united method that emboldens the other.

New Editor Fullscreen Mode

This evening I added a great new feature, which will help those who feel the small editor window is a bit restrictive.

I have found when I'm entering posts with large images or tables, that the editor area is just too small, and it's hard to arrange everything.

Now, with the new Fullscreen mode, you can expand the editor to fill the whole screen, editor you post, and then switch back to "regular" mode to post it.

All your have to do is to click the new Toggle Fullscreen Mode toolbar button (in the top-left of the toolbar), and the screen toggles back & forth between normal mode and fullscreen mode.

School Phone Message

This is the message that the Pacific Palisades High School (California) staff voted unanimously to record on their school telephone answering machine because they implemented a policy requiring students and parents to be responsible for their children's absences and missing homework.

The school and teachers are being sued by parents who want their children's failing grades changed to passing grades, even though those children were absent 15-30 times during the semester and did not complete enough school work to pass their classes.

This is the actual answering machine message for the school:

"Hello! You have reached the automated answering service of your school. In order to assist you in connecting the right staff member, please listen to all your options before making a selection:"

"To lie about why your child is absent - Press 1"

"To make excuses for why your child did not do his work- Press 2"

"To complain about what we do - Press 3"

"To swear at staff members - Press 4"

"To ask why you didn't get information that was already enclosed in your newsletter and several flyers mailed to you - Press 5"

"If you want us to raise your child - Press 6"

"If you want us to reach out and touch, slap, or hit someone - Press 7"

"To request another teacher for the third time this year- Press 8"

"To complain about bus transportation - Press 9"

"To complain about school lunches - Press 0"

"If you realize this is the real world and your child must be accountable and responsible for his/her own behavior, classwork, homework, and that it's not the teachers' fault for your child's lack of effort: Hang up and have a nice day!"

If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English, thank a veteran.

Republican Women Vs. Democrat Women

No comments on my part.  I think the pictures say it all.

Back to Normal

As of about 1:10 PM this afternoon, things are finally back to normal with the Lottery Post servers.

My previous Blog entry noted that a power supply on the Lottery Post Web server failed last week, causing the site (and the whole server) to bomb.  With some quick thinking, I had the data center swap the drive array from the LP web server into another less important server, and that became Lottery Post's new [temporary] home.

The new power supply arrived from SuperMicro today, so we installed the new power supply and swapped the drive arrays back the way they were.

Luckily, everything worked perfectly on a reboot, and after resetting some configuration settings, we're back in business, just like before.

Glad that's over with, but now I learned to keep an extra power supply at the data center.  I ordered an extra one, and it's sitting in a box in the rack case -- just in case.

I'm also glad that (reaching my hand around to my back) I had built all the servers using the same model of components, so that such a drive array swap was possible.

Scientists find alternative stem cells

This was posted in today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and describes a new source of stem cells that can be harvested without destroying human life.  If it turns out to be a valid source of stem cells, this may be the biggest discovery in a long time, since it would be a method that every side of the debate can agree upon.  The best kind of solution!


Option to stem cells found
Pitt experts say placental cells offer palatable alternative
Friday, August 05, 2005

By Byron Spice, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

University of Pittsburgh researchers have discovered that one type of cell in the human placenta has characteristics that are strikingly similar to embryonic stem cells in their ability to regenerate a wide variety of tissues.

The cells, called amniotic epithelial cells, potentially could be used to produce new liver cells to treat liver failure, or new pancreatic islet cells to cure diabetes or new neurons to treat Parkinson's disease.

Unlike embryonic stem cells, which are obtained only by destroying human embryos, these cells can be extracted from the same placentas that now are routinely discarded after birth. They thus could be a non-controversial alternative to embryonic stem cells.

"We think it would be easier to get these to the clinic than [embryonic stem] cells," said Stephen Strom, an associate professor of pathology at the Pitt medical school.

Not only do amniotic epithelial cells lack the controversy of embryonic stem cells, but they also do not generate the tumors associated with embryonic stem cells, he said. So it may be possible in some cases to simply transplant the amniotic cells to a patient, rather than to first grow the desired specialized cells in the laboratory.

Strom and Dr. Yoshio Miki, an instructor in the pathology department, described their discovery in a paper published online last night in Stem Cells Express; the paper also will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Stem Cells.

Publication of the paper had been delayed while the university sought patent protection for the discovery, Strom noted. A local biotechnology company, Stemnion Inc., has licensed the patent rights from Pitt with plans to use the cells for treating cirrhosis and diabetes and to spur wound healing.

In the meantime, a couple of Japanese research groups have already confirmed several aspects of the Pitt findings.

"This is an exciting report," said David Prentice, senior fellow for life sciences at the conservative Family Research Council. More and more reports are emerging regarding stem cells derived from such sources as amniotic fluid, bone marrow and nasal mucosa that have much of the same flexibility as embryonic stem cells, but that don't carry the danger of generating tumors, he noted.

The announcement comes with embryonic stem cells once again in the headlines. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., broke with the Bush administration and said he would support federal funding to create additional embryonic stem cell lines. President Bush this week reiterated his intent to veto any such an expansion of federal stem cell research.

Alan Russell, director of Pitt's McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, said finding new sources of stem cells will be vital to accelerating the pace of stem cell research.

"The placenta and umbilical cord appear to be rich sources for stem cells that have real potential to treat disease," said Russell, who also is an adviser to Stemnion. "Strom's discovery adds another piece to the puzzle that will help patients in the future."

Amniotic epithelial cells make up the thin membrane known as the amnion, or birth sac, which contains the fetus and amniotic fluid. Among other functions, the amnion keeps the developing baby from becoming permanently affixed through wound healing to the mother's organs.

Doctors have recognized that the membrane was rich in stem cells and have long used it as a sort of human bandage to aid in healing, notably in eye surgery.

That's why Miki and Strom first studied amniotic epithelial cells four years ago. Strom is interested in developing sources of liver cells, called hepatocytes, that could be used as an alternative to liver organ transplantation for treating cirrhosis and liver failure.

Once Miki found that the amniotic cells indeed could be used to produce hepatocyte-like cells, he began exploring their other capabilities. That's when he found that they were similar in almost every way to embryonic stem cells.

Just why the cells in this membrane should retain the potential for generating almost any type of tissue in the body is not clear, Strom said, and it may simply be a consequence of when these cells are created during early development.

Embryonic stem cells are found when the developing embryo is still a free-floating ball of 40 to 150 cells. The cells in the middle of this ball, which have yet to take on any specialized functions, are the stem cells.

The amniotic epithelial cells are the first of the inner cell mass to "differentiate," or acquire a specialized function; they develop when the blastocyst prepares for implantation in the uterus.

Only after implantation does the inner mass of stem cells begin to differentiate, undergoing a major transformation called gastrulation in which the cells divide into three major classes of cells from which all other tissues are derived. Because amniotic epithelial cells pre-date gastrulation, Strom said, they retain the ability to form any type of tissue.

Amniotic epithelial cells, unlike embryonic stem cells, cannot live forever, Strom said, so therapies based on them will depend on regularly harvesting cells from discarded placentas.

Also, questions remain as to whether the replacement tissues generated from amniotic epithelial cells will be rejected by a recipient. The amniotic epithelial cells don't have many of the cell antigens that can trigger rejection, Strom said, but that seems to change as the cells differentiate.

That would not pose any problem for liver cell transplants, he noted, because the liver can tolerate transplanted cells as long as they have a compatible blood type. But it could be a problem for therapies such as islet cell transplants to cure diabetes.

With about 4 million births a year, however, it should be possible to find donor placentas with tissue types compatible to any recipient, Strom said.

Or, some people may choose to follow Miki's example. His wife, Hisae, is due to give birth any day now and he plans to save the placenta, banking it for possible future use by their child.

Server Failure

Some people may have noticed that Lottery Post stopped functioning at about 3:00 this afternoon (Eastern Time).  It seems the Lottery Post server developed a bad power supply, so the whole machine went down, and refused to reboot.

So I worked with the data center to quickly swap the hard drive array into another server that is used for less critical tasks, and within about 30 minutes everything was back up and running.

We have a new power supply being rushed to the data center to set things back the way they were, but in the meantime at least the server will continue to function just fine in its new temporary home.

If I only had one server at my disposal, the entire site would be down until the new power supply was shipped and installed - at least a day.  But with all the technology and servers I installed about a year ago, this kind of recovery is possible.

Is it just me?

I am personally getting increasingly annoyed by the posting of one-line nonsensical posts by people who don't add anything at all to a discussion.

I am tired of putting together a thoughtful message, posting it on a thread, only to come back later in the day and find a few one-liners posted by a couple of people who didn't really have anything of substance to say.

Sprinkled in between all those meaningless posts are some gems posted by people who cared enough to actually think through what they're saying, but it all seems to get lost between the nonsense.

It is starting to greatly detract from my enjoyment of the forums.

Am I the only one who feels this way?

If not, and if there is a general consensus on this, I am ready to start taking action.  I am ready to do some or all of the following:

  • Just delete meaningless posts on the spot
  • Warn people who do this that they are posting too many meaningless posts
  • If the activity continues, temporarily suspend people who do it
  • If after temporary suspensions do not work, then impose permanent suspensions

If I can't enjoy my own web site, then I wonder what's the point of it all?

I just know in my heart of hearts that I'm sick of it, and I want to make the nonsense end.

New Browser Detection Site

I created a new simple web site for detecting anyone's browser characteristics.

If you go to the site, it shows your IP address, the country your IP is registered to, and your "user agent" string. 

The user agent string is a single line of text that your web browser sends to every web site you visit, so that the web site knows what brand and version of web browser you have.  That allows web sites, among other things, to account for any bugs that may be present in a particular brand of web browser, adjusting the web pages that you view on-the-fly to send slightly different HTML code, so that you can see the web page bug-free.

The site also has a detailed view that will test your browser and show you all kinds of detailed information about your browser, including cool stuff like connection speed.

Also, based on your IP address, it will also show you the city, region, country, and Internet Service provider of your connection.

The site is http://www.MyBrowserInfo.com, and it can also be access at the bottom of the navigation menu on the left side of every page on Lottery Post.

The page can be used to help diagnose problems.

For example, people who are having difficulties logging in to Lottery Post can go to that web site to make sure that both cookies and JavaScript are enabled.

More Platinum Blog Profile Info

Gold and Platinum members can now include more information in their profile section of the Premium Blog by selecting the appropriate checkboxes in the Premium Blog Settings page.  (In the Control Panel menu.)

The information is taken directly from the member's Lottery Post profile, so there's no new text to input, you only have to turn on the options.

By default, the member's Homepage link (if it exists) and Interests (if there is any text) are turned on.

Bolton

Three cheers! to President Bush for appointing John Bolton to the UN. 

Finally, a UN representive who won't bow down to the socialist regimes represented at the UN.  The ones who make it their primary goal to humiliate and/or harm the United States.

John Bolton is the right man for the job.

What's better is that Bush got to side-step those annoying few in the Senate who will do anything to hurt the Bush Administration, and by extension, the United States of America.  People who are so mentally warped that they actually wish to see us fail, as a country, in order to regain power.

But at that point, to regain power over what?  Do they want to regain power over a country that has been nuked by the terrorists who are emboldened by their words?

It took 20 years for the mainstream press to finally admit that President Reagan was one of the best and most influential presidents in modern history, but hopefully it won't take so long with GW Bush.