Monday, January 31, 2011

In Pittsburgh, when you are born during the playoffs, you become a fan for life.

Friday, January 28, 2011

I don't mean to sound unsympathetic, but this story is an example of what I like to call modern Darwinism. And over the years, I have found that guns often play a role in modern Darwinism.

Bartender fatally shoots himself in Lawrenceville
Thursday, January 27, 2011
By Sadie Gurman and Moriah Balingit, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pittsburgh police said a Lawrenceville bartender argued with relatives Wednesday night before he went to a bar and accidentally shot himself in the head with a gun that was kept there.

John Popinski, 52, shot himself about 11 p.m. inside Salac's Bar, in the 4500 block of Butler Street, which was closed at the time. Mr. Popinski had a key and went there with his teenage son after "having some arguments" with family members, Cmdr. Thomas Stangrecki said.

The son called 911 to report that his father was shot. An arson detective who arrived found the front door locked but could hear screaming inside. He tried to kick open the door but couldn't get inside until someone with a key arrived.

Inside, the detective found Mr. Popinski shot in the head but apparently still alive. He was taken to UPMC Presbyterian in critical condition and was pronounced dead there at 11:36 p.m., the Allegheny County medical examiner's office said.

A .357 revolver was recovered at the scene. Police believe Mr. Popinski was playing with the gun, which is kept inside the bar, Cmdr. Stangrecki said.

"It appears he caused his own injury," he said.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Facebook to let advertisers republish user posts
AP Technology Writer
Jan 26, 5:02 PM EST

NEW YORK (AP) -- Facebook users who check in to a store or click the "like" button for a brand may soon find those actions retransmitted on their friends' pages as a "Sponsored Story" paid for by advertisers.

Currently there is no way for users to decline this feature.

Facebook says this lets advertisers promote word-of-mouth recommendations that people already made on the site. They play up things people do on the site that might get lost in the mass of links, photos, status updates and other content users share on the world's largest social network.

The new, promoted posts would keep the same privacy setting that the original posting had. So if you limit your check-ins to a specific group of friends, only these same friends would see the "Sponsored Story" version later.

The promoted content will appear on the right side of users' home pages, not in their main news feed. That's where regular ads, friend requests and other content are located.

Involving users in advertisements without their consent has been a thorny issue for Facebook. Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said in this case the company is making money off a person's name or likeness without their consent. He calls it "subtle and misleading" and says users should object.

Twitter already offers advertisers something similar, called "promoted tweets." These are Twitter posts paid for by advertisers to show up in search results and on top of popular topic lists on the site. But while Twitter's ads are written by the companies that pay for them, Facebook's sponsored stories are created by users.

Both represent an effort to make advertisements more akin to what people are already experiencing on the site instead of putting up virtual billboards that users might ignore or find tacky.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

DAVE: I seriously need some advice. The woman who lives next to me and who also serves on the condo board with me (and who is generally rather strange) has friended me on Facebook. What the fuck am I supposed to do? I hate Facebook.

MICHELLE: You can ignore the request - they are not notified. Then just block her. She will never know. If you see her just tell her you took your page down.

DAVE: Tough call. It's a lose-lose for me. I think what I'm going to do is accept her friend request, and then wait about a month before deleting her as a friend. I've done something similar once before. If she has a bunch of friends, she'll never notice. If she doesn't have a bunch of friends (like me), then . . . Maybe I will check that first.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I had no idea. Parents should definitely read this . . .

Officials fear bath salts are growing drug problem
Associated Press
Jan 22, 3:54 PM EST

FULTON, Miss. (AP) -- When Neil Brown got high on bath salts, he took his skinning knife and slit his face and stomach repeatedly. Brown survived, but authorities say others haven't been so lucky after snorting, injecting or smoking powders with such innocuous-sounding names as Ivory Snow, Red Dove and Vanilla Sky.

Some say the effects of the powders are as powerful as abusing methamphetamine. Increasingly, law enforcement agents and poison control centers say the bath salts with complex chemical names are an emerging menace in several U.S. states where authorities talk of banning their sale.

From the Deep South to California, emergency calls are being reported over exposure to the stimulants the powders often contain: mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone, also known as MDPV.

Sold under such names as Ivory Wave, Bliss, White Lightning and Hurricane Charlie, the chemicals can cause hallucinations, paranoia, rapid heart rates and suicidal thoughts, authorities say. The chemicals are in bath salts and even plant foods that are sold legally at convenience stores and on the Internet. However, they aren't necessarily being used for the purposes on the label.

Mississippi lawmakers this week began considering a proposal to ban the sale of the powders, and a similar step is being sought in Kentucky. In Louisiana, the bath salts were outlawed by an emergency order after the state's poison center received more than 125 calls in the last three months of 2010 involving exposure to the chemicals.

In Brown's case, he said he had tried every drug from heroin to crack and was so shaken by terrifying hallucinations that he wrote one Mississippi paper urging people to stay away from the bath salts.

"I couldn't tell you why I did it," Brown said, pointing to his scars. "The psychological effects are still there."

While Brown survived, sheriff's authorities in one Mississippi county say they believe one woman overdosed on bath salts there. In southern Louisiana, the family of a 21-year-old man says he cut his throat and ended his life with a gunshot. Authorities are investigating whether a man charged with capital murder in the December death of a Tippah County, Miss., sheriff's deputy was under the influence of the bath salts.

The stimulants aren't regulated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, but are facing federal scrutiny. Law officers say some of the substances are being shipped from Europe, but origins are still unclear.

Gary Boggs, an executive assistant at the DEA, said there's a lengthy process to restrict these types of designer chemicals, including reviewing the abuse data. But it's a process that can take years.

Dr. Mark Ryan, director of Louisiana's poison control center, said he thinks state bans on the chemicals can be effective. He said calls about the salts have dropped sharply since Louisiana banned their sale in January.

Ryan said cathinone, the parent substance of the drugs, comes from a plant grown in Africa and is regulated. He said MDPV and mephedrone are made in a lab, and they aren't regulated because they're not marketed for human consumption. The stimulants affect neurotransmitters in the brain, he said.

"It causes intense cravings for it. They'll binge on it three or four days before they show up in an ER. Even though it's a horrible trip, they want to do it again and again," Ryan said.

Ryan said at least 25 states have received calls about exposure, including Nevada and California. He said Louisiana leads with the greatest number of cases at 165, or 48 percent of the U.S. total, followed by Florida with at least 38 calls to its poison center.

Dr. Rick Gellar, medical director for the California Poison Control System, said the first call about the substances came in Oct. 5, and a handful of calls have followed since. But he warned: "The only way this won't become a problem in California is if federal regulatory agencies get ahead of the curve. This is a brand new thing."

In the Midwest, the Missouri Poison Center at Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center received at least 12 calls in the first two weeks of January about teenagers and young adults abusing such chemicals, said Julie Weber, the center's director. The center received eight calls about the powders all of last year.

Dr. Richard Sanders, a general practitioner working in Covington, La., said his son, Dickie, snorted some of the bath salts and endured three days of intermittent delirium. Dickie Sanders missed major arteries when he cut his throat. As he continued to have visions, his physician father tried to calm him. But the elder Sanders said that as he slept, his son went into another room and shot himself.

"If you could see the contortions on his face. It just made him crazy," said Sanders. He added that the coroner's office confirmed the chemicals were detected in his son's blood and urine.

Sanders warns the bath salts are far more dangerous than some of their names imply.

"I think everybody is taking this extremely lightly. As much as we outlawed it in Louisiana, all these kids cross over to Mississippi and buy whatever they want," he said.

A small packet of the chemicals typically costs as little as $20.

In northern Mississippi's Itawamba County, Sheriff Chris Dickinson said his office has handled about 30 encounters with bath salt users in the past two months alone. He said the problem grew last year in his rural area after a Mississippi law began restricting the sale of pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in making methamphetamine.

Dickinson said most of the bath salt users there have been meth addicts and can be dangerous when using them.

"We had a deputy injured a week ago. They were fighting with a guy who thought they were two devils. That's what makes this drug so dangerous," he said.

But Dickinson said the chemicals are legal for now, leaving him no choice but to slap users with a charge of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor.

Kentucky state lawmaker John Tilley said he's moving to block the drug's sale there, preparing a bill for consideration when his legislature convenes shortly. Angry that the powders can be bought legally, he said: "If my 12-year-old can go in a store and buy it, that concerns me."

Monday, January 24, 2011


Friday, January 21, 2011

Since I signed up for Facebook not so long ago, I have had four people un-friend me. They were all women. They apparently take Facebook friendship far more seriously than I do. Or perhaps they have just a little too much time on their hands. Either way, this is a hilarious song parody about Facebook. Enjoy.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

DAVE: I don't think that I ever told you something that I learned from ESPN over the holidays. If you are an NCAA student athlete who fails a course before a bowl game, you can appeal your failure until after the bowl game. I don't remember being able to "appeal" my grades in college. It's all rigged, my friend.

JIM: You act like you are surprised by this.

DAVE: Actually, the thing about me is that I always assume the worst about human nature. Which might be a problem were it not for the fact that humans always live up to my expectations.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Written by Rob Rogers

I don't think Sarah Palin's map was the reason for the Tucson tragedy, but let's face it, Palin seems to invite this kind of scrutiny. Her defense was that they were not crosshairs but surveyor symbols. Give me a break! Meanwhile, the GOP is still avoiding "civil" discourse by calling the health reform bill "job-killing." They are acting like the very children they are denying coverage. They can't justify destroying this historic legislation ... so they call it names. Job killing? I know you are but what am I?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

JIM: I just found out that all of the work that I stayed late to do on Friday and then came into the office and worked until 10 pm Saturday night was all for nothing. Someone screwed up upgrading some database software on Friday, so anything done since Thursday night is going to be totally wiped out. I have to do all of it all over again.

I could have watched the Steelers game...

DAVE: I am always amazed and impressed at all the ways that technology has improved our lives.

For instance, I couldn't cash a check at the bank the other day because "the system was down." Can't cash a check without the system. We can't do anything anymore without the system.

Bottomline: sorry, dude. That sucks.

JIM: There's got to be a way to beat the system.

Monday, January 17, 2011

This is the portable music device that I was using twenty-five years ago.
And this is just one of several portable music devices that I have now. I have a pretty vivid imagination, but I never thought technology would be so portable. And so ubiquitous.

Friday, January 14, 2011

You know, I upgraded to Internet Explorer 8 recently. And I don't like it. The reason that I don't like it is that it leaves too much of a trail of where you've been. More so than previous versions. I don't even share my laptop with another living soul, and I still don't like such a history of my Internet activities being so readily available, even to me. I guess I'm just old-fashioned that way.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Two of a very elite group of men . . .

She looks mad . . .

The nice thing about Las Vegas is that what happens there, generally stays there. And that's a blessing for the rest of the country. It's just . . . sordid. The whole story. The whole place. The whole lifestyle.

Sister of slain Las Vegas dancer curses defendant
Associated Press
AP Photo/Julie Jacobson
Jan 12, 6:24 PM EST

NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. (AP) -- The sister of a slain Las Vegas dancer stood in a courtroom Wednesday and cursed the man accused of strangling her only sibling and covering her naked, dismembered body in concrete.

"I hope you (expletive) rot in jail, you (expletive) for what you did to her," Celeste Flores Narvaez screamed at defendant Jason Griffith after his arraignment on murder, battery domestic violence and destroying evidence charges.

Griffith, 32, did not enter a plea or respond to the outburst.

During the hearing, Griffith spoke only briefly to acknowledge he had reviewed the criminal complaint against him.

"Do you understand what you are being charged with?" asked Justice of the Peace Chris Lee.

"Yes," responded Griffith, a performer at the Cirque du Soleil "Love" show at The Mirage resort-casino.

He was being held without bail and was ordered to return to court Feb. 15. He could face the death penalty if convicted of killing 31-year-old Debora Flores Narvaez.

Griffith's lawyer, Abel Yanez, said his client would not speak to the district attorney's office or police without a lawyer present.

The courtroom outburst was an unusual show of emotion for Celeste Flores Narvaez, who relocated from Atlanta to Las Vegas to calmly oversee the search for her younger sister after the dancer was reported missing Dec. 14.

Celeste Flores Narvaez told The Associated Press seeing Griffith in court offered little satisfaction.

"I want to handle it myself," she said, cracking her knuckles.

She sat impatiently in the courtroom before Griffith appeared, sharing details about her sister's funeral in a measured voice. She said she will likely return to the family's native Puerto Rico with her sister's body on Monday.

"I'm trying to keep it together," she said.

But she began to sob soon after Griffith was escorted into the courtroom.

"Is that him?" she asked a reporter, before crossing the room to sit closer to the defendant.

The family will hold two memorials for Debora Flores Narvaez this week in Las Vegas, including a public ceremony Friday at the "Fantasy" burlesque show at the Luxor hotel and casino, where the dancer performed.

The victim's body was found Saturday covered in concrete in two plastic tubs at a downtown Las Vegas home. Police said Griffith strangled her in the heat of the moment during an argument then tried to hide the evidence by sawing off her legs and storing her body in the tubs.

"It is just disgusting," Celeste Flores Narvaez said.

She said she spoke with Griffith twice after her sister's disappearance. Each time, she said, he told her a different version of what happened Dec. 12, when the two dancers met at Griffith's house to watch a television show about a serial killer.

Griffith initially told police Debora Flores Narvaez left his house to attend dance rehearsal.

"Basically," Celeste Flores Narvaez said, "he was telling lies from the get-go."

Flores-Narvaez and Griffith had been dating for about a year when investigators responded to a domestic violence call involving the couple on Oct. 22, according to police records.

She told police she was pregnant with Griffith's child when he stole her phone, pushed her to the ground, kicked her and yanked out her hair. Griffith denied hitting her.

Flores Narvaez left Maryland, where she was a Washington Redskins ambassador, to pursue her dreams of becoming a professional dancer two years ago. Friends and family said she was happy in Las Vegas, where she performed at some of the Las Vegas Strip's trendiest nightclubs - Haze at the Aria hotel and Jet at The Mirage, among others.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

When it comes to guns, insanity prevails
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
By Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

After what happened Saturday, everyone senses the truth whether we publicly acknowledge it or not.

As a nation, we've reached a terrible impasse in our politics, where the sharp edge of free speech and the remorseless logic of every citizen's right to bear arms are locked in an embrace of mutually assured dysfunction.

According to witnesses, Jared Loughner, a 22-year-old resident of Tucson, Ariz., shot 20 of his fellow Americans, killing six and wounding 14, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the Democrat who represents his district.

In several Internet posts wedged between screeds about "illiterates" and currency not backed by gold, the suspect obsessed over the connection between a person's words and the ability to construct reality.

To attempt to follow his argument is to fall head-long into a rabbit hole of nonsensical gibberish. Still, Mr. Loughner did not resort to metaphors or similes during the rampage.

When internal logic fails, there's nothing like a Glock 9 and a case of depraved indifference to get one's message across to the political class. You don't have to make a political contribution or a coherent argument to be heard. Once again, guns are American democracy's great leveler.

According to those who know her, Ms. Giffords, a gun-owner and self-described "pretty good shot," would not want to see Second Amendment rights curtailed in the wake of her attempted assassination.

Ms. Giffords was much more concerned about the violent rhetoric and hateful jeremiads that permeate Arizona's airwaves and political theater.

Though she would be the first to give Arizona's lenient gun laws a pass, the push-back against the notion that Arizona's politics is uniquely intolerant began as soon as the initial shock wore off.

Questioning Arizona's shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later culture, or the vitriol created by extreme political rhetoric, is considered opportunistic by those with the most to lose.

People in the media who profit from fear don't want to see the gravy train end, even if it is destroying the country.

The only thing not considered off-limits is speculation about Mr. Loughner's mental state. Fair enough, but why is a man who was rejected by the U.S. military still able to legally buy a weapon that makes it possible to shoot 20 people in less than a minute before reloading?

"Guns don't kill people, individuals do," goes the mantra of those who insist that looking for a culprit beyond the madness of the individual shooter is beside the point.

We are also to believe that a mentally disturbed 22-year-old with access to one of the most lethal weapons on the market was not affected by violent rhetoric in the environment in which he lived. How likely is that?

Meanwhile, suppose the Constitution grants every American citizen a right to buy as many guns as his bank account allows -- shouldn't there still be limits on gun ownership by those with diminished mental capacity or evil intentions?

People like the accused gunman are a bigger threat to our system than the scariest zealot in al-Qaida.

Foreign terrorists can only hope to create havoc every blue moon, but there are disturbed and angry people in every community, occupying every point along the political spectrum, who have easy and legal access to guns.

Hardly a week goes by that we don't hear about their murderous handiwork at some office building, factory or school. It is only when these murderers turn their attention to politicians that media coverage jumps off the scale.

Still, there are millions of Americans, perhaps the majority, who would rather deal with the potential for mass shootings every day by our fellow Americans than tolerate limits on Second Amendment rights.

We consider it an essential part of our freedom, one that isn't reserved for the mentally stable. Few other democracies can boast of this right. They have a long way to go before they can match our body count.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The ongoing adventures of Sidney . . .

MOM: I knew this was going to happen sooner or later. Sidney dug a deep tunnel underneath the drain pipe and fence and ended up next door near his favorite bush. He was having a wonderful time hunting so I got his lead and went around the house and nabbed him and brought him in the front door. I quickly grabbed some blocks and plugged up the hole. His nose is so red and it does not seem to other him. I have a handyman coming this week to give me an estimate to brick in the rest of the patio. I have ordered two more fences so I can go straight across the back toward the chimney. I am removing the bushes and tossing the old ones and saving the smaller ones to pot them and have them on the patio for interest. I am going to get large pots so he does not turn them over. I think I will take up the lights in the back and try to get some sort of lighting around the table and perhaps get a floor lamp for reading for the other side. Hopefully all this will be done by the time you get here. I hate to take away his livelihood but his digging is tracking sand and dirt into the house and causing me havoc with the carpets. It is so cute to watch him outside because his tail is wagging very fast and he gets so excited at the prospect of hunting. I hate to take away his fun but enough is enough.

Monday, January 10, 2011

DAVE: The shooting in Arizona is awful. In this country, a reality of everyday life is that you have the chance of being at the wrong place at the wrong time and getting shot. Guns are everywhere.

MICHELLE: My dad is always saying guns are for protection, but how can you protect yourself from insane people? It is very scary.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The happy couple has just released a candid photo from the special occasion over the holidays.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

JIM: I still remember the time you and I went golfing in Schenley Park...

DAVE: I, too, remember it quite vividly. It was the first and last time that I ever played golf. And I still tell the story of that day every time the subject of why I don't play golf comes up. You have lived on in my storytelling ever since it was one of the worst experiences of my entire life.

JIM: I'm proud to have been a part of it. I think.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Some of my vast and loyal readership may recall that I made my annual prediction of the Steelers final season record way back in September. Below is the original post. It does appear that I was wrong about the Jets in the Comments section. I didn't see them ending the season at 11-5. But I also didn't see them beating the Steelers at home.

Monday, September 13, 2010

After the first game of the season is when I traditionally make my prediction for the Steelers season record. This year is a little more complicated since Big Ben is out for the first four games. But I feel up to the challenge. In a move that goes against what most ESPN types are prognosticating for the Steelers, I predict that their record will be 11-5, with an outside chance of 12-4.

Posted by Dave at 7:00 AM


Anonymous said...


9/14/10 10:58 AM

Dave said...

Child, please. The extremely overhyped and overrated New York Jets might go 8-8. But not the Steelers. But here's hoping that we all enjoy seeing how it all turns out.

9/14/10 5:31 PM


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I left Florida on December 24th, Christmas Eve. When I arrived in Pittsburgh, I called my mother, and she told me that once Sidney realized that I wasn't coming back from my father's trip to the airport, he spent the rest of the day "moping around." I told her that he was lucky to be a dog because he will have forgotten about my absence by the next morning. She asked me if I would be back to normal by the next morning.

Nope. I'm still moping around.

Monday, January 3, 2011

So, uh, how long do I have to keep saying "Happy New Year" in return when somebody says it to me? Seriously. Some people in this town are still saying "Happy New Year" in February.