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2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for Looks like the stats have risen considerably in 2012, which I’m very happy about. 2011 yielded about 78,000 hits while 2012 pulled in about 100,000. So that’s… hmmm… as I’ve said elsewhere, I’m not that great at math. But if I had my calculator handy I could figure out the percentage increase.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 100,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Revisiting Durkheim

Black Panther à côté dun Space Invader géant - Rue Emilie Durkheim

Black Panther à côté d’un Space Invader géant – Rue Emilie Durkheim: yoyolabellut / Lionel via Flickr

Here’s an essay I wrote as an enthusiastic (and pretty naive) undergraduate in the 1980s at Trent University: Emile Durkheim’s Theory of Egoistic Suicide.

I converted it to PDF in 2009. Since then I’ve picked up a better scanner, so I might try redoing it some day. But this copy is legible.

The essay was written on my very first computer, an Atari. It was one of the first PCs to hit the market, replete with an external floppy drive (those big, old floppies) and a modified wheel printer. A portable b&w TV from my parents’ kitchen served as my monitor.

I remember deciding to shell out $500 for that Atari and sort of tricking my professors because the printer looked like I’d typed the papers out when, in fact, I hadn’t. Hee hee. Most computers back then, you see, had early generation (lousy quality) dot matrix printers, and professors hated grading work printed on them. Some even refused to accept papers printed by dot matrix.

My Atari was a great investment because for the first time in my life, I could word process without having to use whiteout or cut and paste real paper. And I could also play space invaders at home! ;-)

The paper, itself, is an analytical assessment of Émile Durkheim‘s pioneering theory on suicide. My professor was excellent, and very British. So I guess I semi-consciously let loose the UK roots within my Canadian personality, hoping to connect. (Looking back, I can see that I wrote differently for my Canadian, American and European professors, already developing a flexible writing style.)

On the theoretical side, I remember being impressed at how Durkheim looked at European demographics to try to understand suicide as a social phenomenon, just as social psychologists, advertisers and researchers examine data today. But like any thinker, old or new, Durkheim had his limitations…

Feel free to mention this – and the ideas it contains – in university and college assignments. Be sure to use one of the standard online citation styles if you do.

» Emile Durkheim’s Theory of Egoistic Suicide


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2011 in review prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog. This is for and doesn’t include, which pulls in about 1/2  more of the traffic logged here.

What I found interesting was that a lot of visitors came to the site searching about sexuality and Jung’s idea of the shadow (= dark side of the psyche). I guess that’s something of a comment on where many people are at today.

The question is, do I post more sexy and dark side articles to attract more people, or do I continue to try to uplift by pointing to the light? A New Year’s dilemma which I guess will only be answered in time!

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 72,000 times in 2011. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 3 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


Freeware and Freebies

Free Software Foundation by Kenn Wilson

Free Software Foundation by Kenn Wilson

Everyone likes free stuff, including the folks at Earthpages.

We just updated this list of freeware and freebies with a new gif animator (check it out in action above with the banner). is not affiliated with any these companies, organizations or projects.

Disclaimer: The software and online content listed in this post may be incompatible with your hardware and/or software. By clicking on the links below you agree that | is not liable for any damages which may be incurred from visiting these links or downloading these programs.

Media Players

  • VideoLAN – VLC media player Ever wanted to capture a still image from a video? Most free media players won’t do it. After searching the web and reading all sorts of complicated do’s and don’ts, I stumbled upon this free program, which does it effortlessly. VLC also formats DVD playback in a variety of screen ratios, which can be nice. And, it plays FLAC audio files.

Video Editing

  • Bink Video (RAD Video Tools) Converts digital video files into different formats. Especially useful if your digital camera writes Quicktime .MOV files. Bink/RAD will convert them into .AVI files, which Windows Movie Maker can import!

Video Search

  • Blinkx Not really freeware because there’s nothing to download. But it’s free and a good alternative to YouTube and Google video searches.

Image Editing

  • PhotoFiltre One of my favorite free photo editors with plug-ins, highlighting and “fade last effect” feature, much like Photoshop version 4. PF doesn’t handle multiple layers like the GIMP but it’s light and tasteful. Don’t confuse this with PhotoFiltre Studio, which is not freeware.
  • PhotoScape This is a fantastic program with some great filters, fun photo stuff and useful text effects. I use this to rotate/level photos as I find it’s faster, easier and does a better job than anything else I’ve tried.
  • The GIMP GIMP stands for “GNU Image Manipulation Program.” The GIMP just keeps getting better and better; features include text, drop shadow, bevels, layers, color replacement and lots of fine filters.
  • Some cool filters for the Gimp. While Photoshop 8bf filters may still be the industry standard, I find that using freeware opens me up to different graphics and artistic approaches that I’d otherwise never try. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to install these filters. Just read the instructions and enjoy!
  • Virtual Photographer This is a great program for enhancing photos, compatible with the GIMP and other commercial software.
  • Picasa IMHO the strongest thing about this photo editor is the excellent color, lightness and contrast fixing. And it’s very user friendly. Photo rotation is a bit blurry. I use PhotoScape for that.
  • Photo Pos Pro Visually nice to look at, has some good effects and handles layers.
  • Photobie I don’t use this one too much but it has some good filters and is under steady development. Like anything else, software preference is a pretty personal thing. Definitely worth a try.
  • LightBox Solid performer. Free version touches up pics nicely with minimum of effort.
  • UnFREEz Creates animated gifs almost effortlessly, preserves transparency, and does a much better job (in terms of image quality) than MS gif animator.
  • Easy Thumbnails This easily creates good, sharp thumbnails.
  • Vector Magic Not free but you can evaluate for free with saving disabled.
  • Inkscape Good for making banners, working with fonts and converting bitmap to vector graphics.

AntiVirus, Junk and Spyware Removal

  • AntiVir A nice antivirus program from Germany with frequent free updates.
  • AdAware A ‘too good to be true’ program for detecting and cleaning invasive ads and malware that can slow down your computer. With free updates and lots of options.
  • Advanced SystemCare This was recommended by a visitor and it seems very powerful. But some may find it too aggressive and Gizmo’s Freeware says some have reported errors after using. I’ve tested this out and so far have had no probs with WinXP. It gets stuff CCleaner doesn’t, and vice versa.
  • CCleaner Fantastic program for cleaning junk files from your hard drive with frequent updates. Also useful for fixing registry integrity and blocking unwanted Windows startup programs. Use with extreme caution and don’t even think about going past the default settings unless you know what you’re doing!
  • Glary Utilities Recommended by a visitor; still testing…
  • Malwarebytes This is handy if by chance the other stuff listed here can’t help you.
  • Panda Cloud Antivirus Antivirus is available in cloud format, so say goodbye to those irritating virus definition updates.
  • Revo Uninstaller Recommended by a visitor: still testing…


  • FileZilla FTP freeware. This is another “too good to be true” program with frequent updates. It just seems to be getting better and better.

Making Web Pages

  • Free Gifs and Animations This is where we got our “New”  GIF.
  • KomPozer Apparently some techies didn’t like the fact that the buggy but very promising Nvu went into stasis. So they continued where Nvu left off. Great job! From my preliminary test it seems this might be the best totally free WYSIWYG editor around.
  • Amaya A free WYSIWYG html editor. It’s a good, straightforward product that would probably fit the needs of basic to intermediate users. Also has some cool special characters.
  • Evrsoft First Page is a free WYSIWYG editor (with a 5 sec. nag screen). It has advanced features but, as others have said, the last version I tested was a touch slow and, on my computer, a bit buggy. Still, I’ve used it with great results. (And it might have been updated since I wrote this particular entry in May 2008).

Making Music / Audio Production

  • Kristal Audio Engine This is a great program for sound recording in a multi-track format. It’s like a software version of the old Fostex and Tascam cassette recorders. Handles up to 16 audio tracks with effects, copy/cut and paste, bouncing and room for expansion. Although Kristal has been criticized for tracks not being in sync, spending a bit of time at the friendly user forum solved the issue for me.

Music Listening

  • iTunes You don’t have to purchase media with this software. iTunes comes with fantastic, free streaming radio and a 10-band equalizer and preamp with great presets. Travel the world through talk and music!
  • Winamp Music and video player with a 10-band equalizer and preamp to make music come alive. It includes free Shoutcast TV and Radio–i.e. streaming video and radio with password-protect content filtering.
  • Live No download streaming radio portal. Impressive selection of genres.
  • RadioTime Provides links to many streaming radio stations.
  • AudioGrabber Handles WAV and MP3 formats. Audiophiles will probably know that WAV files sound better but are huge. MP3’s are “sonically acceptable” and take up less space for iPods, etc. There are several free grabbers out there but I find this one sounds bigger and fatter than the others I’ve tested. Some audiophiles may like that, others may not.
  • Xrecode This is great for converting to FLAC (a “lossless” format that sounds just as good as WAV with about 45% smaller file size) and many other formats, including MP3.

Create RSS Feeds

  • FeedSpring Indie web publishers can use this to generate their own RSS feeds.

Get News with RSS

  • RSS Reader Get news stories from all over the web. This is a super program. But a while back I tested a beta version requiring net framework 2.0 and wasn’t impressed. About a third of my RSS feeds didn’t work. So I reverted to version with net framework 1.1 and everything works great.

Bandwidth Monitoring

  • FreeMeter Since I’m a regular web cam user, I wanted to know which web cam software is most efficient. Enter FreeMeter.

Scanning, File Conversion, PDF

  • Bullzip This easily converts Windows documents to pdf. Lots of options. Fantastic.
  • Scan2PDF – scan documents to PDF format Scan anything and convert to .pdf (for Acrobat Reader). Also open image files from your hard drive and convert to .pdf. I found that it works best if in “options” you enable the scanner interface to be seen. That way you can adjust the resolution and get really good results.
  • Open Office I tested out the word processor on this suite in 2008 and found it satisfactory, although the English thesaurus was weak, and downloading/installing more dictionaries was a hassle. It was also a bit slow to load and felt heavier on my machine than commercial products. Open Office easily converts to pdf, however, and supports a wide number of languages. And I believe there’s a more recent version.
  • Primo PDF Primo converts Windows documents to pdf.


  • Always on Top I use this with WinXP to keep an application window visible while working with other applications. Examples could be keeping MS Word or maybe a Google chat contact visible while surfing or blogging. This program is very light and works great.

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Top Three Tweets

Top Three Tweets

More alternative headlines at

  1. ZENIT – All Are Called to Mysticism: “Many seek in the East what Christian mysticism already contains” via @addthis
  2. Nanotechnology Yields Breakthrough In Cancer Research – Science News – redOrbit: via @addthis
  3. Cosmic Log – Hawking says God’s not needed. So?: via @addthis



Stephen Hawking


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Top Three Tweets

Top Three Tweets

More alternative news headlines at


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Review – The Occult: The Truth Behind The Word (DVD)

Title: The Occult: The Truth Behind The Word
Genre: Documentary, Occult, Magic, Paranormal
Written by: Brian Allan
Director: James Earnshaw
Production Company: Reality Entertainment

“You have the world at your fingertips”
Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus

Back in my twenties a friend once joked, with a touch of sarcasm, that I was into “The Occult.”

This was the mid-1980s. I was studying the Chinese I Ching and Tai Chi, and can’t remember which one of those disciplines seemed “weird” enough for my friend to imply that I was an occultist.

It’s now 2010. The I Ching is a part of pop culture, and the health benefits of Tai Chi are enjoyed around the world by people of all ages.

Funny how times change. And social attitudes along with them.

O. H. Krill’s The Occult: The Truth Behind The Word does a good job at illustrating this. People can be afraid and overly judgmental about things they don’t understand. Or worse, downright brutish.

The Occult makes this abundantly clear by recalling past Catholic abuses regarding the persecution of so-called witches. The film correctly notes that the perverse witch hunter’s manual, the Malleus Mallificarum (Latin: “The Hammer of Witches”) was approved by the University of Cologne’s Faculty of Theology, and received full support from a Papal Bull: Summis desiderantes affectibus (Latin for: “Desiring with supreme ardor”) in 1484.

Ouch. Talk about big mistakes.

The film, however, doesn’t dwell on the downside of our checkered human history. Instead, it also optimistically heralds the resurfacing of the apparently hidden, interior knowledge of the occult.

Along these lines, The Occult suggests that the ancient belief in animism, where individual spirits are said to inhabit all phenomena, has been reaffirmed by the discoveries of quantum physics.

To demystify the idea of the occult, people like Philip Gardiner, Sheena McDonagh and Doc T use everyday words like “intuition,” “hunch” or “gut feeling.”

As well, it looks at the related areas of shamanism, magic, gnosticism, alchemy, psychotropic plants, the Gaia Hypothesis and Jungian psychology, to name a few. And interviews with contemporary figures like Philip Gardiner, Sheena McDonagh and Doc P make this film comprehensive and up-to-date.

Gardiner, for example, says that magic, especially the dark side of magic, is really about manipulating people. The manipulator may be a small time snake oil salesman, an advertising exec, a politician or a religious leader. This sociological aspect of the film gives it a down-to-earth realism often lacking in other accounts of magic and the occult.

The film also gives a penetrating account of the life and works of the notorious magician, Aleister Crowley. And it examines Crowley’s links with another controversial figure, L. Ron Hubbard. Other leading names in the history of mysticism and demonology also come up—for example, John Dee and King James I.

My only misgiving about this film is its tendency to polarize organizational Christian worship and mysticism. Catholicism, for instance, has always recognized meditation, contemplation and profound mystical experiences. And, in contrast to the idea that the Catholic Church is all about misogyny (also hinted at in the film), many pious women have been venerated and canonized by the Holy See. One only has to think of St. Teresa of Ávila, St. Hildegard of Bingen, St. Faustina Kowalska, and many others.

So the argument that Catholicism is largely about ignoring and oppressing women might be a bit off the mark.

Granted, it did take the Catholic Church centuries to apologize for the persecution of so-called witches. But it eventually did acknowledge this distressing aspect of its past (better late than never, one could say). Moreover, not all of the condemned who came under its jurisdiction were women. As the film points out, men, children, and even animals were also victims.

Now, I’m not maintaining that a mere apology suddenly makes all human foibles disappear. And we should accept nothing less than zero tolerance for any scapegoating of the weak and vulnerable in society. Scapegoating is an age old practice that continues today under the sometimes ugly but seemingly pretty masks of social power.

But things have changed in the digital age. Citizen journalism is on the rise and public accountability is becoming increasingly important. As a result, information, to include compromising information, is not so easily concealed as in the pre-internet age.

What fun! Perhaps the occultists are finally about to have their day in the sun again. After all, insights about corruption are more readily supported by the wealth of knowledge (and news) at our fingertips in the 21st century.

The Occult seems to encourage this welcome development. For too long callous individuals have hidden in backrooms, boardrooms, and, of course, cheap motel rooms where all sorts of bad choices can be made.

Today, however, insight and empiricism are coming together. Hopefully this meeting of mind and method will create a new kind of culture where goodness, not old world arrogance, will be the order of the day.



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Review – The Alien Time Machine: Encounters From Another Dimension (DVD)

Title: The Alien Time Machine: Encounters From Another Dimension
Interviewer: Karen Frandsen
Ian Pleasance
Genre: Documentary, UFOs, Aliens, Paranormal
Production Company: Reality Films by Eerie Investigations

Fasten your seatbelts. And get ready for a ride that might take you to the far reaches of ancient Egypt or even the constellation of Orion.

Sounds like the latest summer blockbuster? Well, not exactly. But The Alien Time Machine calls to mind H. G. Wells’ classic science fiction novel The Time Machine and, perhaps, the UK TV series, Dr. Who.

When The Alien Time Machine first arrived in the mail I chuckled a little. Not because I rule out the possibility of ETs and time travel–I certainly don’t. But more because anyone not inspired by New Age cosmologies or the imaginary universes of sci-fi would probably write this DVD off as far-fetched and flaky.

I mean, if I were to say there’s a UK author, a certain Terry Le Riche Walters, who doesn’t just believe in paranormal possibilities but claims he’s actually traveled through time and met ETs, what would most people think?

Concerning the idea of psychological time travel, however, open-minded, educated folks might stop to consider the possibility that during guided meditation we might get a glimpse of deep genetic memories or undergo an experience appearing to transcend space and time.

But The Alien Time Machine takes this one step further. It contains footage of an alleged, fully functional time machine situated in an elderly gentleman’s home in Bath during the late 1990s.

The scenes of the purported Bath Time Machine evoke memories of some kind of 1960s disco or British fantasy film. Jim Morrison or maybe Simon Templar would have loved this place. And the supposed machine, itself, generates some kind of mysterious slipstream, caught live on video. Believe in this segment of the film or not, it’s definitely an engaging moment in the history of documentary, docudrama or docufiction, whatever the case may be.

Also memorable is Le Riche Walters’ candid account of encountering human looking ETs and boarding some kind of alien craft, where he apparently underwent a high-tech operation that cured his back pain.

Interviewer Karen Frandsen skillfully teases out more intriguing stories and frank opinions from this most unusual or, more correctly, regular fellow who claims to possess a range of extraordinary abilities, from premonitions to reading others’ thoughts.

DVD extras include highlights from Gardiner’s World, an alternative TV show advocating global transformation through interviews with everyday people offering valuable insights that lie just beyond mainstream mores.

Altogether, The Alien Time Machine might seem weird or hokey to anybody unfamiliar with New Age thinking and the expansive worldviews of sci-fi. But this smart and seemingly unscripted DVD compels us to reevaluate current beliefs about reality, imagination and the possible.




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