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Friday, September 28, 2012

Came to the US as a child? Seminar Oct 13 at UNLV

FYI: The UNLV Legal Aid Center and the Hispanic Law Students Association will be putting on a free informational session about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on Oct. 13.

In June, the federal government announced that certain people who came to the U.S. as children and meet several key guidelines may request consideration of deferred action through the DACA program for 2 years and be eligible for work authorizatio

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Nevadans Vote this November...Presidency, Senate and House at stake

Polls show Obama up in N.H., close races in Nevada and North Carolina

President Obama and Mitt Romney remained locked in tight contests in Nevada and North Carolina, but the incumbent leads by seven points in New Hampshire, according to new swing state polls from NBC News and Marist College.
The polls show Obama with a two-point edge in both Nevada and North Carolina, 49 percent to 47 percent in the former and 48 percent to 46 percent in the latter — both within the margin of error. In New Hampshire, he leads 51 percent to 44 percent.
The polls are slightly better for Romney than other recent polling — particularly in Nevada and North Carolina. But they are pretty much on par with previous surveys in these states and don’t show much movement.
In a key Senate race in Nevada, the poll shows Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) leading Rep. Shelley Berkley (D) by six points, 49 percent to 43 percent. Republicans likely need to hold the seat if they are going to have a shot at the Senate majority.
And in arguably the top two governors races in the country — in New Hampshire and North Carolina — the numbers are mixed. Democrat Maggie Hassan and Republican Ovide Lamontagne are neck-and-neck in New Hampshire, with Hassan at 47 percent and Lamontagne at 45 percent. In North Carolina, the poll shows Republican Pat McCrory opening a 13-point lead on Democrat Walter Dalton. McCrory is favored to succeed retiring Gov. Bev Perdue (D).

Warning: Strong policial view and bleeped vulgarity

Samual L Jackson narrates todays Children's Nightmare tale

CLiCK ON : DON to see video (language advisory)

The language is bleeped, but the message is clear in this actor based political message from Samuel L Jackson. Whether you agree or not, it is interesting to see its execution. Unlike most of what we see on TV, political ads can be fun and be worth watching...

And want to see whom he endorses for president. This isn’t safe for work, by the way. Watch:

Rock Education

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

This election why is health care reform considered evil?

Teddy Roosevelt (R)
Warren Harding  (R)
Franklin D. Roosevelt  (D)
Dwight D Eisenhower  (R)
Richard Nixon  (R)
Bill Clinton  (D)
Barrack Obama  (D)

The presidents who worked to provide every citizen with health care coverage, regardless of age or previous health. The arguments, both true and false, on the opposite sides have been near the same. The strength of the power structure to defeat efforts defeated all but Obama in their efforts to provide basic health to all Americans.

Interestingly what is labeled Obama-care does not come close to the liberal nature of the health care presidential candidate Mitt Romney championed as governor. 

It most closely resembles the Republican alternative offered, but never passed, even with a Republican house and senate, under Clinton.

And Obama did not craft Obama care; the house and senate did. He was for a more complete, less insurance company dependent system.

Who is really behind efforts to paint Obama-care as evil taxation and an attack on America?

Events Friday September 28, 2012

Erotic Heritage Museum
8 pm Comedy With Schree: In the Trenches XXX $20

Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall
8 pm The Second City Touring Company $30- $55

Henderson Pavilion
8 pm Seussical $10

Las Vegas Little Theater
8 pm Side Man $21- $24

Onyx Theater
8 pm 'God' by Woody Allen $12/$15

The Smith Center (Troesh Studio Theater)
7 pm Steve Solomon:My Mother's Italian, My Father's Jewish and I'm in Therapy

Is the tail wagging the dog?

Words of advice for Pubic Speaking

Make sure that any technology such as projector or computer is working correctly and that you know how to operate it before you are scheduled to speak.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

'Clifford The Big Red Dog' Turns 50 (In Human Years)

The original, 1963 cover of Clifford the Big Red Dog. "[I] was shocked when it was accepted for publication, because I'd never written anything before," says Norman Bridwell.
The original, 1963 cover of Clifford the Big Red Dog. "[I] was shocked when it was accepted for publication, because I'd never written anything before," says Norman Bridwell.
A big dog celebrates a big birthday this year: Clifford the beloved "Big Red Dog" first appeared on the literary scene 50 years ago, along with Emily Elizabeth, the little girl who loves him.
It was 1962, and Norman Bridwell was a "struggling, not very successful artist in New York," he says. His wife, Norma, suggested that he try his hand at illustrating children's books. So Norman did 10 kid-oriented paintings and took them to publishers. He was rejected everywhere, except at one publisher, where a young woman told him he wasn't a very good illustrator, so if he wanted to illustrate a book, he'd need to write one on his own.

Read An Excerpt:

A page from Clifford the Big Red Dog.
Bridwell recalls: "She pointed to a sample painting I'd done, of a little girl with a gigantic red dog, and she said, 'Maybe that's a story.' And I went home, and over that weekend I wrote the story Clifford the Big Red Dog and was shocked when it was accepted for publication, because I'd never written anything before."
His wife was also in shock. "I couldn't believe it at first," Norma says. "When I did realize it wasn't a dream, I said to Norman, 'You could write another book! Maybe you could write two or three books, who knows!' And his reaction was, 'Oh, no. This is just a fluke.' "
That "fluke" turned into close to 90 Clifford books that have sold more than 126 million copies in 13 languages. Clifford's animated series on PBS is seen in 65 countries around the world. In September, Clifford's publisher, Scholastic Press, reissued the original stories under the title Clifford Collection. Norman Bridwell talks with NPR's Scott Simon on the occasion of his dog's 50th birthday.

Interview Highlights

Clifford Collection
Clifford Collection
The Original 6 Stories
Hardcover, 182 pages | purchase
On Clifford before he was "Clifford"
"I started off calling him Tiny. And Norma said, 'Well, that's a stupid name for a dog like that.' And she went back to her childhood and took the name of an imaginary friend, Clifford, and gave it to the dog."
On keeping up the Clifford series for five decades
"It has gotten more difficult over the years. Every time I think of an idea, I think, 'Well, that's kind of like the idea that I did a couple of times before.' And I'm running out of situations."
On trying not to take advantage of Clifford's popularity
"My first editor said: 'I'm not going to take Clifford soup. You can't throw him into a plot and stir him around and expect me to buy it. It's got to be something that is interesting and entertaining for children.' "
On the advice he gives to young people who want to write a book
"I often tell young people who write ... 'It's not easy.' ... I was extremely fortunate. It's a very discouraging business sometimes, but the rewards are marvelous, especially emotionally."
On replying to all the letters that children send to him or to Clifford
"We make a real effort to answer every letter. It's sometimes difficult, but I think if they care enough to sit down and write, I should give them an answer."

Friday, September 21, 2012

Personal indulgence: My acting role as an alien...

"Kaldar" first look

"Kaldar" production stills from director/writer Mac Hines:  Corey Taylor MillingtonArt Lynch and Tompeck D.

Tompeck D., UNLV actor, in his role in "Kaldar"

Art Lynch as "Kaldar" with Tompeck D. 

Art Lynch and Brian McGee in "Kaldar"

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein: Bella Lugosi as Dracula

Walk and Talk the Vote - West Wing Reunion - Bridget Mary McCormack

Virtually the Entire Cast of "The West Wing" Reunites for an actual non-partisan race Awesome Campaign Ad

Screen Shot 2012-09-20 at 11.18.08 AM.png
How do you get almost the entire cast of “The West Wing” (sans Rob Lowe, who — to be fair — wasn’t on at the end of the series) to reunite for a campaign commercial for a Michigan Supreme Court candidate in a non-partisan race? Well, it helps if the candidate is the sister of Mary McCormack, who played Deputy National Security Adviser Kate Harper.
The ad is surprisingly great, and while Josh does deliver some stump-speech genericism, overall, it’s almost exactly what you’d want from a political campaign starring the cast of “The West Wing.”
Also, Donna! God, I miss Donna. We never see her anywhere, anymore.
(via Gawker)


Why Mental Pictures Can Sway Your Moral Judgment

We're wired to respond emotionally to images, and that can trigger unconscious biases in the brain.
When we think about morality, many of us think about religion or what our parents taught us when we were young. Those influences are powerful, but many scientists now think of the brain as a more basic source for our moral instincts.
The tools scientists use to study how the brain makes moral decisions are often stories, saidJoshua Greene, a Harvard psychologist, citing one well-known example: "A trolley is headed toward five people, and the only way you can save them is to hit a switch that will turn the trolley away from the five and onto a side track, but if you turn it onto the side track, it will run over one person."
It's a moral dilemma. Greene and other researchers have presented this dilemma to research volunteers.
Most people say they would flip the switch and divert the trolley. They say they don't want to kill someone, but one innocent person dead is better than five innocent people dead.
What this shows is that people resolve the moral dilemma by doing a cost-benefit analysis. Greene says they look at the consequences of each choice, and pick the choice that does the least harm.
In other words, people are what philosophers would call utilitarians. Except, Greene tells me, sometimes they aren't.
He asked me to visualize another well-known dilemma:
"This time, you're on a footbridge, in between the oncoming trolley and the five people. And next to you is a big person wearing a big backpack. And the only way you can save those five people is to push this big guy off of the footbridge so that he lands on the tracks. And he'll get squashed by the train; you sort of use him as a trolley stopper. But you can save the five people."
Would you push the big guy to his death? More important, do you feel this moral dilemma is identical to the earlier one?
"In a certain sense, they're identical," Greene said. "Trade one life to save five. But psychologically, they're very different."
Pushing someone to their death feels very different from pushing a switch. When Greene gives people this dilemma, most people don't choose to push the big guy to his death.
In other words, people use utilitarian, cost-benefit calculations — sometimes. But other times, they make an emotional decision.
"There are certain lines that are drawn in the moral sand," Green said. "Some things are inherently wrong, or some things inherently must be done."
There's another dimension here that's interesting: If you watched yourself during the first dilemma, you may have noticed you had to think about whether you'd push that switch. In the footbridge dilemma, you probably didn't have to think — you just knew that pushing someone to his death is wrong.
Greene says we really have two completely different moral circuits in our brain.
When you listen to a dilemma, the two circuits literally have a fight inside your brain. Part of your brain says, slow down, think rationally — make a cost-benefit analysis. Another says, no, don't think about it. This is just wrong!
"These responses compete in a part of the brain called the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, which is a kind of place where different types of values can be weighed against each other to produce an all-things-considered decision," Greene said.
So what makes the ventromedial prefrontal cortex go with the rational mode sometimes, and the emotional mode other times?
Greene and a colleague, Elinor Amit, thought closely about what was happening to people as they tipped from rational mode to an emotional mode. In new research they've just published in the journal Psychological Science, these psychologists say they have the answer.
"Emotional responses don't just pop out of nowhere," Greene said. "They have to be triggered by something. And one possibility is that you hear the words describing some event, you picture that event in your mind, and then you respond emotionally to that picture."
That's the key: Some dilemmas produce vivid images in our heads. And we're wired to respond emotionally to pictures. Take away the pictures — the brain goes into rational, calculation mode.
Here's how they found that out: Greene and Amit set up an experiment. They presented people with moral dilemmas that evoked strong visual images. As expected, the volunteers made emotional moral judgments. Then the psychologists made it difficult for volunteers to visualize the dilemma. They distracted them by making them visualize something else instead.
When that happened, the volunteers stopped making emotional decisions. Not having pictures of the moral dilemma in their head prompted them into rational, cost-benefit mode.
In another experiment, Greene and Amit also found that people who think visually make more emotional moral judgments. Verbal people make more rational calculations.
Amit says people don't realize how images tip the brain one way or another. And that can create biases we aren't even aware of.
She laid out a scenario to think about: "Imagine a horrible scenario in which a terrorist takes an ax and starts slaughtering people in a bus," she said. "I'm coming from Israel, so these are the examples that I have in my mind."
The story produces a movie in our heads. We can see blood everywhere. We can hear people screaming. We don't have to think at all. It feels terribly wrong.
Then Amit presented another kind of news event: A drone strike that sends a missile hurtling toward a target. At the center of the cross-hairs, an explosion. There's dust billowing everywhere.
"So if you learn about these events from television or from pictures in a newspaper, which one [would you] judge as more horrible?" Amit asked. "The person with the ax that killed maybe two people but the scene looks horrible and extremely violent, or the picture of the drone that killed 100 people but looks relatively clean and nice?"
To be sure, the events Amit describes are completely different. One's a terrorist attack, the other is a military action. But it's true the ax murderer instantly sends the brain into emotional mode.
The drone strike has less vivid imagery. You can't see, up close, what the missile does. So most people go into utilitarian mode — they start to think about the costs and benefits.
Amit's point is not that one mode is better than the other. It's something much more disturbing. As you listen to the news everyday, hidden circuits in your brain are literally changing the ground rules by which you judge events.
You think you're making consistent moral choices when, really, the movies playing in your head might be making your choices for you.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mormon Girl on KNPR

KNPR's State of Nevada

Joanna Brooks was on KNPR's State of Nevada to talk about Mitt Romney, the role of women in the church and the struggle to keep the faith as a modern Mormon. She also explained that Mormons have responded to misunderstanding and even ridicule by non-Mormons by trying to project an image of perfection. Plus, how to spot a Mormon.

Brooks has achieved political influence of her own, landing on Politico's "50 to Watch" list. Her memoir "The Book of Mormon Girl" traces her evolution from Marie Osmond wannabe to Brigham Young feminist.

Surviving Tough Teachers

Click on title below to link the blog it is from: (or click here)

7 Strategies for Dealing With a Tough Professor

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When a professor doesn’t act like your best buddy, challenges your opinions in class, and gives you a well-deserved "D" on an essay adding a note in red ink that he or she doesn’t care that you were "really, really tired" when you wrote it, you may decide to brand said professor as "tough." You may dread interacting with such a professor, even with the understanding that he or she may in fact push you to become an even better student. If you have a professor who is truly unprofessional or abusive, then you should voice your concerns to your advisor. But if your professor is just, well, "tough," then consider the following strategies for dealing with what is going to be a demanding, even grueling semester.
  1. Analyze the behavior:

    No doubt you are not the first student in the professor’s class who has wondered whether they should just bail and try to take the same course later with a different instructor. With that in mind, find a former student of your professor-from-hell; he or she should be able to offer some welcome post-traumatic perspective on the class ("Just don’t ask for an extension on a deadline and you’ll be fine!"). You’re also not the first student in the history of higher education to have a tough professor, so speak to some graduates, maybe even your parents, to see if they’ve had a similar experience with a tough professor.
  2. Show up and pay attention:

    Make every effort to be on time to your tough professor’s class, and once you’re there, make sure your iPhone is off and that you’re paying attention. As the semester rolls on, if you are having trouble understanding the material, your professor is likely to be more agreeable to providing you with some extra help since it’s apparent you are making every effort to be a good student.
  3. Form a study group:

    Forming a study group can be especially helpful if a class and its professor are particularly challenging. Putting your heads together as a group can give you some much needed perspective on the materials and help you not take a professor’s comments or grading too personally. Group study sessions can quickly turn into group venting sessions, so be sure your time as a group is spent less on complaining and more on coming up with strategies for passing the class.
  4. Self-teach:

    Self-teach? You’re paying the tough professor to teach you, right? Not the other way around! What we mean is make sure you read all of the material assigned to you by your professor (and even some of that suggested material), and discuss it outside of class with a classmate or in a study group. See if there is a teaching assistant available for additional help in understanding the material. Do your homework, and see if that improves your interactions with your professor.
  5. Consider the professor’s perspective:

    We understand that a tough professor may be a professor who isn’t interested in entertaining any perspective on a topic other than their own. You may find this especially frustrating in a class that challenges your personal, political, and spiritual views. Instead of arguing against what your professor believes, decide whether he or she simply wants to know that you understand whatever it is they are teaching you, not whether you disagree with it.
  6. Talk to your professor:

    As scary as it may seem, scheduling a time to speak with your tough professor, ideally during his or her office hours, may be one of the most helpful things you can do to improve your classroom experience, not to mention your grades. Take the opportunity to ask your professor if they have any suggestions for how you might improve your understanding of the material. A one-on-one meeting may shed more light on your professor’s teaching style, which may completely clash with how you learn. And if that is the case…
  7. Drop the class:

    This is your last resort, but in some cases, it may be the best thing you can do. Schools generally frown upon students dropping or transferring out of a class mid-semester, and doing so may impact your financial aid. So be in touch with your advisor before you make this decision.

CSN Supershow October 3

Lessons from Sci Fi TV...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Monday, September 17, 2012

Effective Listening Skills

A competent listener:
  1. Uses eye contact appropriately.
  2. Is attentive and alert to a speaker’s verbal and nonverbal behavior.
  3. Is patient and does not interrupt, waiting for the speaker to finish.
  4. Is responsive, using verbal and nonverbal expressions.
  5. Asks questions in a nonthreatening tone.
  6. Paraphrases, restates or summarizes what the speaker says.
  7. Provides constructive verbal and nonverbal feedback.
  8. Is empathic, makes an effort to understand the speaker.
  9. Demonstrates interest in the speaker as a person.
  10. Demonstrates a caring attitude and is willing to listen.
  11. Does not criticize, is as nonjudgmental as possible.
  12. Is open-minded.
  13. Works actively at listening and understanding.
An ineffective listener:
  1. Interrupts the speaker, demonstrates impatience.
  2. Does not make eye contact, allows his or her eyes to wander.
  3. Is distracted and/or fidgety, does not pay attention to the speaker.
  4. Is not interested in the speaker.
  5. Gives the speaker little or no verbal and/or nonverbal feedback.
  6. Changes the subject.
  7. Is judgmental.
  8. Is close-minded.
  9. Talks too much.
  10. Is self-preoccupied.
  11. Gives unwanted advice.
  12. Is too busy to listen.
  13. Stops listening and does other things (text, read, videos, etc.)

Finding what you want on the Internet

A Simple Guide To Understanding The Searcher Experience

When search engine optimization (SEO) professionals talk about the searcher experience, they often cast their personal mental models onto the minds of searchers. Believe it or not, I understand why this happens. I think humans do this naturally, without thinking. We assume that others have the same, or similar, contexts that we have.

That thought reminded me of information architecture guru Peter Morville’s 3 Circles/Pillars of Information Architecture (diagram below):

Peter Morville's 3 Pillars of Information Architecture: Context, Content, and Users/Searchers
Used with permission of
In this diagram, Morville shows how and why we must strike a balance on each web project between “business goals and context, user needs and behavior, and the available mix of content.”

I wondered if there might be an analogous diagram for SEO, and I came up with this:

Thurow's 3 Pillars of Searcher Experience (image)
Contributors to a successful searcher experience: website owners, searchers, and search engines.
In order to achieve a successful searcher experience, all 3 of these elements need to be present and align beautifully. Let’s look at each of these items individually and see how each group is responsible for their part of the searcher experience.

Website Owners & Aboutness

Website owners have a very important contribution to the searcher experience: aboutness. Aboutness needs to be communicated to both searchers and search engines:
  • Do content labels (titles, headings, subheadings, annotations/descriptions, etc.) communicate what page content is about?
  • Do navigation labels reinforce a sense of place, information scent, and the aboutness of page content?
  • Do document labels (file name, URL structure, etc.) communicate aboutness well enough when search engines are not yet able to clearly determine aboutness from actual document content, such as a graphic image (GIF, JPEG, PNG)?
Aboutness is a term that few people know about or comprehend. Because of this “aboutness” ignorance, it is often skipped and/or misinterpreted during the web development, content creation, and search optimization processes.
Regardless of knowledge level, website owners and SEOs alike both contribute heavily to the searcher experience. Our responsibility is to communicate aboutness to both search engines and searchers as succinctly and clearly as we can.
That being said, now let’s look at another circle of the searcher experience….

Web Searchers & Keywords

Web searchers have a responsibility to communicate what they want to find. As a website usability professional, I have the opportunity to observe Web searchers in their natural environments. What I find quite interesting is the “Blame Google” mentality.
I remember a question posed to me during World IA Day this past year. An attendee said that Google constantly gets search results wrong. He used a celebrity’s name as an example.
“I wanted to go to this person’s official website,” he said, “but I never got it in the first page of search results. According to you, it was an informational query. I wanted information about this celebrity.”
I paused. “Well,” I said, “why are you blaming Google when it is clear that you did not communicate what you really wanted?”
“What do you mean?” he said, surprised.
“You just said that you wanted information about this celebrity,” I explained. “You can get that information from a variety of websites. But you also said that you wanted to go to X’s official website. Your intent was clearly navigational. Why didn’t you type in [celebrity name] official website? Then you might have seen your desired website at the top of search results.”
The stunned silence at my response was almost deafening. I broke that silence.
“Don’t blame Google or Yahoo or Bing for your insufficient query formulation,” I said to the audience. “Look in the mirror. Maybe the reason for the poor searcher experience is the person in the mirror…not the search engine.”
People need to learn how to search. Search experts need to teach people how to search. Enough said.

Connecting Searchers & Web Documents

Search engines certainly have a responsibility in the searcher experience. Not only must search engines correctly and accurately interpret searcher intent from often-insufficient keyword combinations, they must also accurately determine the aboutness of millions (or billions) of Web documents. And then rank those documents accordingly.
Search engine software engineers have a very difficult responsibility, as website owners and other Web professionals do not label content and navigation clearly, and searchers honestly do not know how to search effectively. Add to that the many, many unethical SEO practices that are misleading and that miscommunicate aboutness? Well, let’s just say that I have a great deal of empathy for search engine software engineers.
What are your responsibilities and contributions to a successful searcher experience…both as an SEO/SEM professional and as a web searcher? Can you objectively see your “Blame Google” mentality? Can you objectively and consistently communicate aboutness to both humans and machines? Do search engines misinterpret searcher behaviors and aboutness?
Think about it. The answers might not be as simple as we would like them to be.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Search & Usability