February 2005 Archives


I hadn't got around to looking up the links for a story and accompanying map about the underground pedway in Sunday's Trib, but GapersBlock did the heavy lifting....

Construction of the Pedway began in the 1950s, when the portion that connects the CTA's Red and Blue Lines was built under Washington Street. The last section to be built, to the Monroe Street Garage, was added in the mid-1990s.

The 25 structures linked by the pedway reads likes a "Who's Who" of Chicago buildings: The Richard J. Daley Center, the State of Illinois Center, the Dirksen Federal Building, the Palmer House Hilton, the Randolph Street Metra Station, Marshall Field's, Carson Pirie Scott, Doral Plaza, the Aon Center, the Leo Burnett Building, the Fairmont Hotel and the Chicago Cultural Center.

From the beginning, "the intent of the pedway was to provide an enclosed pathway that people could use in the winter," Steele said.

And that hasn't changed, though the route is open year-round.

The latest development was the reconstruction of a half-block section between Wabash Street and the Chicago Cultural Center on Michigan Avenue in December. The renovation was done to go along with a new 57-story residential tower, The Heritage of Millennium Park, on Randolph Street.

Pedway hours vary. But basically it is open between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., Steele said. Pedway access usually is from the basements of the buildings on it.

"It's a bit of an undiscovered gem in the city," said Steele.

for a while, the article (and map link) is here. I saved the dead trees edition, so plan to scan the map, eventually.

Torture is not an American value

I don't care how many pundits and faux-pundits come up with excuses and rationalizations, torture is not an American value, at least not in my America.

Bob Herbert agrees:

It's Called Torture:

“Extraordinary rendition” is the euphemism for seizing individuals and shipping them off to countries known to practice torture.

As a nation, does the United States have a conscience? Or is anything and everything O.K. in post-9/11 America? If torture and the denial of due process are O.K., why not murder? When the government can just make people vanish - which it can, and which it does - where is the line that we, as a nation, dare not cross?

When I interviewed Maher Arar in Ottawa last week, it seemed clear that however thoughtful his comments, I was talking with the frightened, shaky successor of a once robust and fully functioning human being. Torture does that to a person. It's an unspeakable crime, an affront to one's humanity that can rob you of a portion of your being as surely as acid can destroy your flesh.

and kudos to Congressman Ed Markey:

A Massachusetts congressman, Edward Markey, has taken the eminently sensible step of introducing legislation that would ban this utterly reprehensible practice. In a speech on the floor of the House, Mr. Markey, a Democrat, said: “Torture is morally repugnant whether we do it or whether we ask another country to do it for us. It is morally wrong whether it is captured on film or whether it goes on behind closed doors unannounced to the American people.”

Unfortunately, the outlook for this legislation is not good. I asked Pete Jeffries, the communications director for House Speaker Dennis Hastert, if the speaker supported Mr. Markey's bill. After checking with the policy experts in his office, Mr. Jeffries called back and said: “The speaker does not support the Markey proposal. He believes that suspected terrorists should be sent back to their home countries.”

Surprised, I asked why suspected terrorists should be sent anywhere. Why shouldn't they be held by the United States and prosecuted?

“Because,” said Mr. Jeffries, “U.S. taxpayers should not necessarily be on the hook for their judicial and incarceration costs.”

It was, perhaps, the most preposterous response to any question I've ever asked as a journalist. It was not by any means an accurate reflection of Bush administration policy. All it indicated was that the speaker's office does not understand this issue, and has not even bothered to take it seriously.

More important, it means that torture by proxy, close kin to contract murder, remains all right. Congressman Markey's bill is going nowhere. Extraordinary rendition lives.



Ebrious, describes a few folk I know, including my alter-ego....

ebrious (EE-bree-uhs) adjective

1. Inclined to excessive drinking.

2. Tipsy.

[From Latin ebrius (drunk). Two cousins of this word are inebriated and sobriety.]

“One seminal figure, Thompson, was a 'dissolute, ebrious, profane, lascivious English-Dutchman'.”
Nicholas Phillipson; Political Discourse in Early Modern Britain; Cambridge University Press; 1993.

“Yet far more terrible the line that flows
From ebrious passion to supine remorse.”
Richard Monckton Milnes (1809-1885); The Fall of Alipius.
The man who strikes first admits that his ideas have given out. -Chinese proverb


Janet book signings

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If anyone is interested in Tarot, and lives in Chicago-land, my friend Janet Berres is signing her book:

Sun., March 6th 1:00 pm

Low Carb Destination
3232 Lake. Ave.
In Edens Plaza, Located Between the Borders Books and Carson Pirie Scott's.
Wilmette, IL 60091
(847) 251-1795

Sat. March 12th 3:00 pm

Healing Earth Resources
3111 N. Ashland Ave.
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 327-8459

Sat. March 19th 4:00 pm

Urban Tea Lounge
838 W. Montrose Ave.
Chicago, IL 60613
(773) 907-8726

Tarot Kit for Beginners



iPod error

My iPod has lost its customary disk icon. Have to check into that....

Disk Utility says:

Checking Catalog file.
Invalid leaf record count
(It should be 18194 instead of 18196)
Checking Catalog hierarchy.
Invalid directory item count
(It should be 8 instead of 9)
Checking volume bitmap.
Volume Bit Map needs minor repair
Checking volume information.
Invalid volume free block count
(It should be 573832 instead of 574231)


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Religious nutters

Eric Hoffer:
“The opposite of the religious fanatic is not the fanatical atheist but the gentle cynic who cares not whether there is a god or not.”


Netflix Shipped: The Paradine Case

sucker for Hitchcock....

Shipped: The Paradine Case:

Shipped on 02/25/05.

Gregory Peck stars as London barrister Anthony Keane, who falls in love with Maddalena Paradine (Alida Valli) -- the alluring client he's representing in a murder case. Though Keane believes she's innocent, he's facing a hostile judge (Charles Laughton) and a tough prosecutor (Leo G. Carroll). Worse yet, by letting his feelings get in the way, Keane may implicate himself in the crime when he tries to pin the rap on her valet (Louis Jourdan).

Paradine Case

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A Scanner Darkly (2005)

A Scanner Darkly (2005):

Set in a future world where America has lost the war on drugs, undercover cop Fred (Keanu Reeves) is one of many agents hooked on the popular drug Substance D, which causes its users to develop split personalities. Fred, for instance, is also Bob, a notorious drug dealer. Along with his superior officers, Fred sets up an elaborate scheme to catch Bob and tear down his operation.

Wait, Richard Linklater is doing an adaptation of one of my favorite Sci-fi books, by one of my favorite metaphysical authors (Philip K Dick), and Keanu Reeves is in it? Can we petition to edit Reeves out? Interesting cast list nonetheless....

Quicktime trailer here

Oh, looks like an animated film, which plays to Keanu Reeves strengths. Ahem.

It features an all star cast including: Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, Woody Harrelson, and Robert Downey Jr.. The film was shot like any other film. Animation was applied over live action. Director Richard Linklater experimented with this unique type of animation with 2001's “WAKING LIFE”

A Scanner Darkly

America in the near future has lost the war against drugs. Though the government tries to protect the upper class, the system is infested with undercover cops like Fred, who regularly ingests the popular Substance D as part of his ruse. The drug has caused Fred to develop a split personality, of which he is not aware; his alter ego is Bob, a drug dealer. Fred's superiors then set up a hidden holographic camera in his home as part of a sting operation against Bob. Though he appears on camera as Bob, none of Fred's co-workers catch on: since Fred, like all undercover police, wears a scramble suit that constantly changes his appearance, his colleagues don't know what he looks like. The camera in Fred/Bob's apartment reveals that Bob's intimates regularly betray one another for the chance to score more drugs. Even Donna, a young dealer whom Bob/Fred loves, prefers the drug to human contact. Originally published in 1977, the out-of-print novel comes frighteningly close to capturing the U.S. in 1991, in terms of the drug crisis and the relationships between the sexes. But the unrelenting scenes among the addicts make it a grueling read.

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Argo Tea House to open

Tea houses start popping up like banks...

The Noble Fool theatre complex at 16 W. Randolph St. is expected to be taken over by a growing chain of tea houses. In terms of the arts, it becomes the most conspicuous failure to date in Chicago's revitalized theater district.

According to a spokesman for the Argo Tea Cafe, an upscale Chicago outlet specializing in gourmet varieties of tea, Argo plans to open a branch there “in May or June.”

The theater initially was developed with more than $1 million in state and city funds.


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Firefox security update released

Firefox security update released:
The Mozilla Foundation today released an update to its popular Firefox Web browser...

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Jeff Zimmerman follow up

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From the best Chicago paper (unfortunately, not much online), via Jazim.com

Chicago Journal: Wall Flowering:

Jeff Zimmerman's streetwise, painterly murals catch the fancy of the Museum of Contemporary Art

On a forgotten corner of Damen and Lake, what was once a plain brick wall is now “Top of the World,”a beautiful and unsettling painting by a West Side artist named Jeff Zimmerman. Set against its shimmering, blue-green backdrop are the glittery discards of modernity. Crushed tin cans. The silver lining of Fritos bags. A grizzly old man's face, gazing blankly past the asphalt and scrub grass.

With each viewing, the mural's effect is slightly different, depending on time and tide, traffic and cloud cover. More “urban tumbleweeds” turn up on subsequent visits--sentence fragments, pop-bottle shards--even though they've been there all along. “I don't know much about painting murals,” says Zimmerman, whose handiwork stretches across at least six buildings around the city. “I just do it.” The former Pilsen art teacher does it well enough, in fact, to have landed a show at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Through the month of August, Zimmerman's mural “Dark Matter,” created especially for the MCA exhibit, has the run of a front gallery, filling all three walls with a disconcerting tableau of downtown scenes. The image of a Chicago cop dominates the center wall, his faint grin impenetrable, his eyes hidden behind massive mirrored sunglasses. There's a Streetwise vendor looking like he might be having an out-of-body experience, and images of secret hand motions that could be gang signs, or stockbroker code language sent across the trade floor.

Rather than an easy message, the work projects an overall sense that deals are being made, people are being affected and transformed.

Read more here

My original stumbling was here, which refers to here

parenthetical note: here's another reason to blog - I found out a lot of interesting info about a mural and an artist by virtue of posting a brief note about my photo.

update, FueledBycoffee saw the subject recently on a CTA bus. Read his tale here

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skippy is right, again

Why blog? And why link to someone else's blog?

in comments to Drum's latest foot-in-orifice, skippy writes,

“These arguments are so tedious. They boil down to various people insisting that their social circle is the one that is representative of the population.

Unsurprisingly, this leads to rather pointless and circular arguments.”

Hear hear. (or is it here, here? We can never remember)

Seems to be the topic de jour: who links to which site, and what's the point of it all, blah blah blah. Atrios takes the time to break it all down for the clueless from last semesters lecture notes, and Professor DeLong tries to make sense of the linkage equations.

We only blog so that everyone in our email address book(s) isn't bombarded with crap they never read, and because then we can find answers to trivial questions (via google) that interest us quicker than by combing through our voluminous hard drives. We have a full time real job that's enough fun, thank you. If our google ads pay for our hosting fees, we'd consider that a fair exchange for allowing them; if not, we are not going to fire off angry letters to the BTB (Big Time Bloggers - probably coined by skippy, but who knows) begging for links.

We had a point to make here, but are distracted by chicken soup with shiitakes. Probably why we will never become part of the BTB. Sorry. You're on your own....

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Google Sets

Google engineers have come up with another quasi-useful tool, called Google Sets. Using some sort of matching algorithm, Google tries to predict what other words would fit. For instance, I fed four cities that I've lived in: Chicago, Toronto, Austin, Yona - and the results were large American cities (nothing matching the size of Yona, Guam, of course). Trying Chicago, Austin, Toronto - I got a similar list of large size American cities. However, when I input only Chicago and Austin, I also got Florence, and Glasgow. Go figure.

Link courtesy of The Cube

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Netflix just Shipped: Deliverance

For some reason, I've never actually watched this movie (nor read the book). Neener neener neener.

Shipped: Deliverance:

Shipped on 02/24/05.

In this 1970s existential action epic, four suburban friends (Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ronny Cox and Ned Beatty) take a canoeing trip down a Georgia river. But what begins as a lighthearted adventure becomes a voyage into the heart of darkness when redneck locals descend on the foursome and force them to kill or be killed. A masterpiece of grace and power, Deliverance still terrifies and enthralls today.


“Deliverance” (John Boorman)

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Roof project

Our architect came by this morning (on his way to O'Hare to gawk at the Christo installation). If you are curious, the plans/sketches are here (click for larger version).....

I added the green, obviously, marking the spot where we are planning on putting a roof garden, and plant walls.

Next step, talk to structural engineer....

Yurt Sketch

Yurt Plan

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New hookah hangout

new place to check out this spring - Plush.

Plush (1104 W. Madison St.; 312-491-9800), an intimate restaurant lounge, opened December 6th in the West Loop as a comfortable replacement for Phil and Lou’s. (Phil and Lou’s moved down the block to 1124 W. Madison St., where it’s planning to reopen this spring.) Plush’s red-toned room has a slick vibe with mosaics, mirrors, a hand-carved marble statue, and an eclectic menu that includes ravioli stuffed with apple and chicken. “No one has ever heard of it and everyone wants it and it’s really good,” says owner Bill Kleronomos. Tuesday, by the way, is belly dancer night; plan accordingly. Belly Dancers! Hookahs! Deejays!
From Dish

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end of an era

Knew something was up, so wasn't unexpected news. But the Kings didn't much in return; 3 overpaid forwards, one of which they already traded away once.

Sixers get Webber in 6-man trade:
The Sacramento Kings traded Chris Webber to the Philadelphia 76ers late last night, parting ways with the cornerstone of their renaissance in a stunning six-player deal that dramatically reshaped both teams.

The Sixers acquired Webber, one of the NBA's elite power forwards and a five-time All-Star, along with reserve forwards Matt Barnes and Michael Bradley. Philadelphia sent forwards Brian Skinner, Kenny Thomas and Corliss Williamson to the Kings



Sen. Durbin Calls for Jeff Gannon Inquiry

more later.... but Senator Durbin is working at least

TalkLeft: Sen. Durbin Calls for Jeff Gannon Inquiry:
Raw Story reports that Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) is asking other senators to join him in calling for an investigation into fake news reporter Jeff Gannon. The letter, issued from Minority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL), calls on President Bush to...

Obligatory Kyle Korver joke


would go here....if I had a non-scatalogic one

Bill Simmons: Page 2 : Things to do in Denver ...:

The Dahntay Jones High-Fiving Henry Louis Gates Award for “Moment that I enjoyed infinitely more than the average person”
At the NBPA party, I ended up meeting a reader who is good friends with Kyle Korver. Before I knew it, he and his other two buddies (also readers) were buying me a drink, so I ended up talking to them for a few minutes ... turns out they're all buddies with Korver and flew to Denver to hang out with him for the weekend. That's right, I was hanging with Kyle Korver's posse. And they looked like they fell out of a Banana Republic catalog. I guarantee that I will never feel that comfortable with an NBA player's posse ever again.

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Too many banks, thanks

This trend has become a running in-joke for D & I: too many banks. I've come up with all sorts of drug-laundering explanations, but apparently I was just spinning yarn. The real answer as to why banks are the new Starbucks is simpler:

WSJ.com - A Retailer's Lament: Influx of Bank BranchesThree years ago, Kent Oliven and his wife, Kelly, opened the Melting Point, a make-your-own candle studio and gift shop on a street lined with boutiques and restaurants in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood. The setting seemed promising. Without a big advertising budget, the shop could rely in part on foot traffic to and from nearby retail establishments. And so it did.

Then came the banks. Since the Melting Point opened, four bank branches have opened nearby, two of them less than a block away from the shop. That boosted the number of banks within about a half-mile stretch along Clark Street to 10, some of them occupying prime storefronts vacated by specialty stores. At the same time, Mr. Oliven says, he has noticed fewer people walking down the street and into his shop. “Less and less of our business is coming from walk-in traffic,” he says. “I don't know if all of it is attributable to the banks, but I bet a lot of it is.”

So do city leaders in Chicago and in some towns in the suburbs of both Chicago and New York, among other locales. In response, officials are trying to push back the steady wave of bank branches that are threatening to engulf popular or burgeoning retail corridors....

[B]anks decided face-to-face transactions could be profitable. Consultants say the national banks saw how well smaller banks were doing opening new branches and set out to steal market share from them and, now, from each other

and to make it local:

Two weeks ago, Chicago passed an ordinance that requires banks to get special permission from the city to open a branch within 600 feet -- or about one block -- of another bank in designated retail areas.

more excerpts if you don't have a WSJ sub:

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Stupid shite

the most recent B12 staff meeting was recorded for posterity, here (very low res clip)

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Netflix is sending me: Third Man

Looking forward to re-watching this Noir....

Shipped: The Third Man:

Shipped on 02/22/05.

Who was Harry Lime? And who killed him? And is he really dead? These are just a few of the questions writer-turned-sleuth Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) tries to answer as he trolls the shadowy streets of postwar Vienna. Director Carol Reed turns Graham Greene's classic mystery into a film noir without equal. You'll be humming the zither theme for weeks!

Third Man

and speaking of:

Innovators: Does the Kid Stay in the Picture?:

Netflix was a little company with an idea that helped it soar - and is bringing out all kinds of competition.

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Outsourcing torture

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Ah yes, I remember well this item on the ballot; vote for torture as government policy - “Please check box yes or no.” Right, right, and now that is settled, I'm afraid to travel abroad because some America-hater might consider me to be the Maher Arar stand-in.

However, Professor Yoo has the perfect remedy: Impeachment!

Jane Meyer: The New Yorker:

In a recent phone interview, Yoo [John C. Yoo, the deputy assistant attorney general at the time. (A Yale Law School graduate and a former clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas, Yoo now teaches law at Berkeley.)] was soft-spoken and resolute. “Why is it so hard for people to understand that there is a category of behavior not covered by the legal system?” he said. “What were pirates? They weren’t fighting on behalf of any nation. What were slave traders? Historically, there were people so bad that they were not given protection of the laws. There were no specific provisions for their trial, or imprisonment. If you were an illegal combatant, you didn’t deserve the protection of the laws of war.” Yoo cited precedents for his position. “The Lincoln assassins were treated this way, too,” he said. “They were tried in a military court, and executed.” The point, he said, was that the Geneva Conventions’“simple binary classification of civilian or soldier isn’t accurate.”

Yoo also argued that the Constitution granted the President plenary powers to override the U.N. Convention Against Torture when he is acting in the nation’s defense—a position that has drawn dissent from many scholars. As Yoo saw it, Congress doesn’t have the power to “tie the President’s hands in regard to torture as an interrogation technique.” He continued, “It’s the core of the Commander-in-Chief function. They can’t prevent the President from ordering torture.” If the President were to abuse his powers as Commander-in-Chief, Yoo said, the constitutional remedy was impeachment. He went on to suggest that President Bush’s victory in the 2004 election, along with the relatively mild challenge to Gonzales mounted by the Democrats in Congress, was “proof that the debate is over.” He said, “The issue is dying out. The public has had its referendum.”

Torture is not an American value. At least not my America; Dirty Harry is not my hero. We are supposed to be a nation of laws, and Enlightenment values, not some barbaric nation that boils people to death to extract information (which of course is usually worthless information).

Read more

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Winn-Dixie Files for Chapter 11

One of our business partners finally took the step we considered they might....

Winn-Dixie Files for Chapter 11:

Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. early Tuesday said it filed for bankruptcy protection, citing financial challenges that have worsened since the grocer reported a much-wider fiscal second-quarter loss earlier this month.

Winn-Dixie and 23 of its U.S. subsidiaries filed for Chapter 11 protection late Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, the Jacksonville, Fla.-based company said.

Winn-Dixie said it has secured an $800 million credit facility from Wachovia Bank N.A. to help pay for its reorganization. The credit facility, subject to court approval, replaces the company's previous $600 million credit line.

Winn-Dixie plans to use the reorganization to improve its operations and financial performance, but also to reduce its expenses and decide how to use its assets to make its stores more productive, the company said. “This includes achieving significant cost reductions, improving the merchandising and customer service in all locations and generating a sense of excitement in the stores,” Peter Lynch, president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

The company, which employs about 80,000 workers, said 920 Winn-Dixie stores in eight states and the Bahamas are open.

...Under Chapter 11 of the U.S. bankruptcy code, a company is freed from the threat of creditors' lawsuits while it reorganizes its finances. The debtor's reorganization plan must be accepted by a majority of its creditors. Unless the court rules otherwise, the debtor remains in control of the business and its assets.


More paid propaganda

One more bit of propaganda, this time by NED flanders. Can we normalize relations yet?

As part of a broad strategy to spur political change in Cuba, the U.S. government has been quietly sending hundreds of thousands of dollars to activists seeking to undermine President Fidel Castro's one-party state, according to documents and interviews.

The cash assistance is being channeled through the U.S.-financed National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and pays more than two dozen freelance writers for a Miami-based Web site that posts articles critical of the Cuban government.

Supporters argue the cash payments, totaling about $200,000 a year, help keep opposition alive in a country where most dissidents are fired from their jobs and ostracized.


The cash payments comprise only a small part of President Bush's intensified campaign to squeeze the Castro regime through the tightening of trade sanctions and increased material support for opposition activists. Yet even some supporters of Bush's approach say that providing cash to dissidents gives ammunition to Cuban officials who denounce the opposition as “mercenaries” for the U.S.

Critics believe the payments also endanger the dissidents, who face up to 20 years in prison if they participate in any U.S. government-funded program.

“Providing funding to dissidents at a time when the U.S. government says that its objective is to bring down the Cuban government is to turn the dissidents into subversive agents,” said Wayne Smith, a former U.S. diplomat in Cuba. “It's a colossal mistake.”
... NED already is embroiled in a dispute over its alleged support for groups opposed to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a fiery populist increasingly at odds with the United States. During the run-up to last year's presidential recall referendum in Venezuela, Chavez charged that NED-financed groups were conspiring with the Bush administration to defeat him.

Chavez survived the referendum vote easily to remain in office.


Macho mac man


I catch myself getting a little macho about my uptime stats; especially when my computer doesn't react as quickly as I think it should. Probably from having a mac for so many years, OS 7.6-9.1 seemed to crash frequently; OS X is a pleasure to run since one does not worry much about freezes and crashes or constant rebooting holding this key or that. However, there are times when the machine needs to take a gulp of proverbial air, and I shouldn't stop myself from letting it go.

after reboot:
Processes: 75
Averages: 1.05 1.49 4.62
Uptime: 45 mins

And in this particular case, the problem was actually with multiple smbd processes taking over all my free memory (1.5 gigs worth of RAM installed on a G5; there was 0% CPU free, even after the dreaded re-start)

  • 6317 smbd 0.3% 0:00.11 1 13 27 736K+ 3.29M 1.64M+ 29.9M
  • 6311 smbd 0.3% 0:00.12 1 13 27 764K+ 3.29M 1.66M+ 29.9M
  • 6307 smbd 0.3% 0:00.12 1 13 27 792K+ 3.29M 1.69M+ 29.9M

and many more.....

Not sure why, but since I don't need to copy anything to/from my XP machine at the moment, it was easy enough to turn off the “Window's Sharing” service, and the machine is responsive again. One could argue that even this problem was caused by having a Windows computer in my office.....

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New blog name

Worth consideration, at least....

faineant: Dictionary.com Word of the Day:
faineant: doing nothing; idle; also, a do-nothing.

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The bus is long

7 miles.
The Blue Bus is callin' us.
err, something like that.


From a recent snowstorm: accordion-style CTA bus loses traction and blocks Randolph for at least 30 minutes (if you look closely, you can see the tire tracks in the empty parking lot where people circled the bus)

-update, still not sure why ecto sometimes double posts. Sorry about that. Suspect something to do with uploading images, but haven't narrowed it down enough to bug Ado.

Every time, I get an email update for this old post (Roots, Religion & Dylan)

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Smoking ban 'may harm patients'

So says Nurse Ratched....

Smoking ban 'may harm patients':

Mental health hospitals should not impose a smoking ban as it could harm patient treatment, experts say.


The Indy-Weblogs

Until I get off my arse and figure out how to implement the collapsing blogroll, this will have to do. Some kind soul has pulled the feeds from the IndyBlog collective and consolidated them. Cool.

The Indy-Weblogs:

The Indy-Weblogs

The latest updates from the Indy-Weblogs

429 Blogs, checked for updates at 2/21/2005 7:34:15 AM

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Hunter Thompson, RIP


Yahoo! News - Author Hunter S. Thompson Kills Himself

Hunter S. Thompson, the acerbic counterculture writer who popularized a new form of fictional journalism in books like “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” fatally shot himself Sunday night at his Aspen-area home, his son said. He was 67.

“Hunter prized his privacy and we ask that his friends and admirers respect that privacy as well as that of his family,” Juan Thompson said in a statement released to the Aspen Daily News.

Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis, a personal friend of Thompson, confirmed the death to the News. Sheriff's officials did not return calls to The Associated Press late Sunday.

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Unintelligent Design

[edited out my snarky Red-state bashing malarky, because it is sort of superfluous to this argument, and because intelligent folk live everywhere in the world]

The New York Times > Magazine > The Way We Live Now: Unintelligent Design:

But if we can't infer anything about the design from the designer, maybe we can go the other way. What can we tell about the designer from the design? While there is much that is marvelous in nature, there is also much that is flawed, sloppy and downright bizarre. Some nonfunctional oddities, like the peacock's tail or the human male's nipples, might be attributed to a sense of whimsy on the part of the designer. Others just seem grossly inefficient. In mammals, for instance, the recurrent laryngeal nerve does not go directly from the cranium to the larynx, the way any competent engineer would have arranged it. Instead, it extends down the neck to the chest, loops around a lung ligament and then runs back up the neck to the larynx. In a giraffe, that means a 20-foot length of nerve where 1 foot would have done. If this is evidence of design, it would seem to be of the unintelligent variety.

Such disregard for economy can be found throughout the natural order. Perhaps 99 percent of the species that have existed have died out. Darwinism has no problem with this, because random variation will inevitably produce both fit and unfit individuals. But what sort of designer would have fashioned creatures so out of sync with their environments that they were doomed to extinction?

And why should the human reproductive system be so shoddily designed? Fewer than one-third of conceptions culminate in live births. The rest end prematurely, either in early gestation or by miscarriage. Nature appears to be an avid abortionist, which ought to trouble Christians who believe in both original sin and the doctrine that a human being equipped with a soul comes into existence at conception. Souls bearing the stain of original sin, we are told, do not merit salvation. That is why, according to traditional theology, unbaptized babies have to languish in limbo for all eternity. Owing to faulty reproductive design, it would seem that the population of limbo must be at least twice that of heaven and hell combined.

One beauty of Darwinism is the intellectual freedom it allows. As the arch-evolutionist Richard Dawkins has observed, ''Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.'' But Darwinism permits you to be an intellectually fulfilled theist, too. That is why Pope John Paul II was comfortable declaring that evolution has been ''proven true'' and that ''truth cannot contradict truth.'' If God created the universe wholesale rather than retail -- endowing it from the start with an evolutionary algorithm that progressively teased complexity out of chaos -- then imperfections in nature would be a necessary part of a beautiful process.


Monument to city's industrial past

The only reason I see not to build this museum would be if Alderman Pope already plans to re-zone it for one of his political contributors, for a condo or an office tower or a McDonald's or something similar. These aren't good reasons: the site should be turned into a museum. I would really like to visit such a place.
Monument to city's industrial past: Chicago's steel industry, once the engine that forged the skyscraper beams and railroad spikes of America's industrial expansion, has long been reduced to weedy lots and concrete foundations. But a group of environmentalists, retired steelworkers, historians and others is gambling $250,000 on a plan to preserve steel's memory by creating a museum at a plant that once baked coal into coke, a fuel that fires the blast furnaces that melt iron ore to make steel.

Representatives of Chicago's Steel Heritage Project envision exhibits that would teach the public about steelworkers' lives and their unions' struggle during tours of the old Acme Steel Co. Chicago Coke Plant at 11236 S. Torrence Ave. The goal is to have Chicago join cities in Alabama and Germany that have preserved old steel mills as parks and museums, said Marian Byrnes, one of the organizers. Other towns in places as diverse as Belgium and Pennsylvania are looking at similar plans. “It's as if the Western world has suddenly discovered that the first wave of the Industrial Revolution has passed into history, and that there are almost no structures left,” Byrnes said. “We have to work on saving a few representative structures so people can understand how life was then.”
But organizers are counting on the city to assume ownership of the property to preserve for the museum and as an auto impound lot, a proposal it is studying. Because a scrap-metal dealer had planned to tear down the facilities, project organizers made a down payment last week to prevent Chicago from losing what they call its last standing plant involved in steelmaking. The decision to move ahead has drawn criticism from Ald. John Pope, whose 10th Ward includes the old plant. Pope isn't sure the property is the best site for a museum. The coke plant shut down in 2001, but the property wasn't disposed of in bankruptcy proceedings in Delaware and is still held in the name of Acme Steel. The project is only buying the structures from the ground up. “You don't own the property,” Pope said. “You don't know the extent of the environmental [damage]. You don't know what the cost of cleaning it up is. You don't know what the cost of actually rehabilitating it is. And then you're figuring out the operating budget.”

My first hate mail

Private note to wannabe-arse-licker/commenter dan marjele ( SERVER: Fuck off. Who asked you?

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Welcome to the 19th century

Good to know that our brave soldiers are supposed to now belong to John Ashcroft's Sunday School. Gone are the poetically profane leathernecks of former generations. And I'm so entirely sure that none of the Continental Army, crossing the Deleware, without shoes, ever cursed, or used the word, shite.

PBS Warns Stations of Risks From Profanity in War Film

PBS has warned its stations that it cannot protect them against indecency sanctions if they broadcast an unedited profanity-laced version of a documentary about a United States Army regiment in Baghdad as it faced insurgent attacks leading up to the Iraqi elections, producers of the documentary said yesterday.

The documentary, “A Company of Soldiers,” was produced by Front- line, a production of WGBH, the public television station in Boston, and is scheduled to be broadcast on Tuesday night. The Public Broadcasting Service will offer its stations both an edited and an unexpurgated version, as it commonly does with programs that have content that might be objectionable in some parts of the country.

Crazily we tip-toe our merry way towards theocracy.

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Veedon Fleece

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Van Morrison's Veedon Fleece

has an ineffable rhythm built into it's musical structure and lyrical cadence. I had this on vinyl years ago, and just purchased a replacement CD version this week. Wow. Van Morrison is one of those islanders, Belfast I think, who have followed their muse, through several bogs and ditches, but who have made sublime music along the way. Seems a little prickly, probably because Moondance defined him in the public's mind; and there was much more interesting work besides that over-played song. Veedon Fleece is a sort of melancholy Celtic-swing album, if that makes any sense. Wish I had replaced my vinyl years ago.

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We are also considering designing/commissioning statues (for three locations; in Crane's Alley; in front of our building; and on our mythical deck). We're leaning towards more abstract, modern sculpture, but we're certainly looking at all sorts of ideas. This piece was in Lincoln Park last summer.....

Ben Franklin abstraction

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Spiral Stairs

The 4 ft 6 inch spiral stairs up to our penthouse and deck would like quite like this, but, obviously, indoors, and not looking over a beautiful lake. Ahem.

click for larger picture
Spiral Stairs, taken at the Chicago Botanic Gardens

Probably will get the Iron Shop to fabricate them.

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Now that our yurt plans are moving forward (we tried the 4'6“ spiral stairs; it might just fit), we're interested in what other people have done with them. Like in this 2002 Wired article:

Wired News: There's No Place Like Yurt:

Among the world's oldest indigenous structures, yurts are experiencing newfound popularity in the United States, where they're popping up as houses, offices, ski huts, art studios and even government buildings.

Yurt devotees range from aging hippies living off the grid to urban professionals needing space for a home office or guest room. Some are drawn to yurts by their interest in environmentally sustainable building practices. Others simply enjoy the pleasing aesthetics of a round room.



Viva la Netflix!

Actually, I find this sort of amusing. Perhaps Harvey is up for re-election? perhaps he's a long time Netflix subscriber? Maybe he just hates Blockbuster for the corporate bully it is? Who knows.

Blockbuster sued over late fee claim (Reuters):
Reuters - New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey says he has filed a lawsuit charging Blockbuster,
the nation's top movie renter, with deceiving customers about its new “No More Late Fees” rental policy.
In a statement outlining his complaint, Harvey accused Blockbuster of failing to disclose key terms of the policy and said that some of its stores did not participate in the policy and continued to charge late fees.

“Blockbuster boldly announced its 'No More Late Fees' policy, but has not told customers about the big fees they are charged if they keep videos or games for more than a week after they are due,” said Harvey in the statement on Friday.

“Blockbuster's ads are fraudulent and deceptive,” he added.

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Food alert on cancer-causing dye

Who named a food dye, Sudan anyway?

Food alert on cancer-causing dye:

Food products have been contaminated with an illegal dye linked to an increased risk of cancer.

The dye, Sudan I, is linked to an increased risk of cancer - but is not thought to be a risk to health at the concentrations used in these products.

It was in a batch of chilli powder used by Premier Foods to manufacture a Worcester sauce.

This was then used as an ingredient in at least 350 different products.

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Patent application

Interesting idea, but what kind of market could there be for such a tool?

Pronto Patent 1.0

About Pronto Patent
A native Mac OS X application that downloads issued patents (scanned page images) from the USPTO. All pages of each patent are placed in a single PDF document for easy retrieval and printing. Includes built-in search tool. Full text is also downloaded as HTML.

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Novak, Douche-bag

Nick Anderson on Novak
Glad to see someone hasn't forgotten about Novak and Valerie Plame.....


Torture is not an American value

I couldn't agree more with Mr. Herbert, under no circumstances should the U.S. torture suspects, even by outsourcing the actual deed.

Our Friends, the Torturers:

Sending individuals off to regimes known to engage in torture is antithetical to everything Americans are supposed to believe in.

The man grabbed at Kennedy Airport and thrown by American officials into a Syrian nightmare was Maher Arar, a 34-year-old native of Syria who emigrated to Canada as a teenager. No one, not even the Syrians who tortured him, have been able to present any evidence linking him to terrorism.

He was taken into custody on the afternoon of Sept. 26, 2002, and was not released until Oct. 5, 2003. He was never charged, and when he wasn't being brutalized, he spent much of his time in an unlit, rat-infested cell that reminded him of a grave.

Government officials know that this kind of activity is not just wrong but reprehensible, which is why they won't admit publicly to the policy that permits them to kidnap individuals like Mr. Arar and send them off to regimes known to engage in torture. The policy is known as extraordinary rendition, which is an extreme variation of a little-known but longstanding legal principle called rendition. Rendition most commonly refers to the extrajudicial transfer of individuals from a foreign country to the United States for the purpose of answering criminal charges.

U.S. officials knew what they were doing when they gave the signal to ship Mr. Arar to Syria. As far back as 1996, the State Department had this to say in a report about human rights in Syria:

“Former prisoners and detainees have reported that torture methods include electrical shocks; pulling out fingernails; the forced insertion of objects into the rectum; beatings, sometimes while the victim is suspended from the ceiling; hyperextension of the spine; and the use of a chair that bends backwards to asphyxiate the victim or fracture the spine.”

According to the State Department, torture was most likely to occur at one of the many detention centers run by the Syrian security forces, “particularly while the authorities are trying to extract a confession or information about an alleged crime or alleged accomplices.”

Extraordinary rendition is antithetical to everything Americans are supposed to believe in. It violates American law. It violates international law. And it is a profound violation of our own most fundamental moral imperative - that there are limits to the way we treat other human beings, even in a time of war and great fear.


Another that I've seen, albeit years ago. Came up in a recent Law and Order episode to pique my interest, or was that the Third Man? Actually, I think the Third Man is what I was thinking of. Doh! I'll have to add that too.....

Shipped: Film Noir Collection: The Stranger:
Directed by and starring Orson Welles, this Academy Award-nominated film tells the story of Franz Kindler, a Nazi war criminal who has fled to Connecticut and assumed a new identity: Prof. Charles Rankin. While an Allied War Crimes Commission detective (the indomitable Edward G. Robinson) hunts down Kindler without knowing how he looks, Kindler's new wife (Loretta Young) discovers the ugly truth about her husband's evil past.

The Stranger

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General Mills Saatchi

Not much new, except that the 18 folks who left, en masse, are considering forming their own agency to pitch the General Mills account.

Promo Magazine:
General Mills' promotion work is staying put following the exodus of 18 staffers from its lead ad shop Saatchi & Saatchi this week.

Minneapolis-based Mills handles most consumer promotions in-house, with some outside assignments. There are no plans to change that, a General Mills spokesperson said.

The cereal giant hasn't moved its advertising account from New York-based Saatchi, where 17 staffers—all of whom worked on General Mills business—reportedly resigned on Monday, just three days after the resignation of Vice Chairman Mike Burns, a 25-year veteran who served as account director for General Mills.

Industry sources speculate that Burns may form an agency with the former Saatchi staffers and pursue General Mills' business. ...General Mills spent $206 million on advertising through October 2004, per TNS Media Intelligence.


Link Wray

Per some list somewhere of desert island discs, we bought

Rumble, by Link Wray.

Whoasa. Link Wray was a mean ax slinger, back in the early days of Rock; before the Beatles, and before the Congressional hearings, when Rock was often subversive.
AllMusic says“

Link Wray may never get into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but his contribution to the language of rockin' guitar would still be a major one, even if he had never walked into another studio after cutting ”Rumble.“ Quite simply, Link Wray invented the power chord, the major modus operandi of modern rock guitarists

I don't recall hearing of any other instrumentals that were banned.

Originally issued on Archie Bleyer's Cadence label back in 1958, Bleyer was ready to pass on [Rumble] when his daughter expressed excitement for the primitive instrumental, saying how it reminded her of the rumble scenes in West Side Story. Bleyer renamed it (what its original title was back then, if any, is now lost to the mists of time), and ”Rumble“ jumped to #16 on the national charts, despite the fact that it was banned from the radio in several markets (including New York City), becoming Link's signature tune to this day. But despite the success and notoriety of ”Rumble,“ it turned out to be Link's only release on Cadence.

Bleyer, under attack for putting out a record that was ”promoting teenage gang warfare,“ wanted to clean Link and the boys up a bit, sending them down to Nashville to cut their next session with the Everly Brothers' production team calling the shots. The Wrays didn't see it that way, so they immediately struck a deal with Epic Records. Link's follow-up to ”Rumble“ was the pounding, uptempo ”Rawhide.“ The Les Paul had been swapped for a Danelectro Longhorn model (with the longest neck ever manufactured on a production line guitar), its ”lipstick tube“ pickups making every note of Link's power chords sound like he was strumming with a tin can lid for a pick. The beat and sheer blister of it all was enough to get it up to #23 on the national charts, and every kid who wore a black leather jacket and owned a hot rod had to have it.

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High flying dunkers?

I'm not sure of why it's a problem: is Bradley saying that players are worse off because they smoke? or just that they are better players than Bradley? Maybe nobody is offering the Mormon any tokes.

Rocky Mountain News: Nuggets:

A survey by the Rocky Mountain News revealed NBA players believe about 30 percent of those in the league use marijuana.

The News posed the question to 151 players. Of those, 59 were willing to give a percentage.

The average figure given by those players is 30.1 percent. The mean figure, the number in which half the percentages are below and half above, is 20 percent.

“Yes, it's a problem (in the NBA),” said Dallas Mavericks center Shawn Bradley. “A lot more people use (marijuana) than we think. I don't know if the percentage is 60, but if it's half of that, it's a problem.”

Stars who have been involved in marijuana incidents in recent years include Philadelphia's Allen Iverson and Sacramento's Chris Webber. Portland has had several players involved in marijuana incidents in recent years, including Damon Stoudamire, Zach Randolph, Rasheed Wallace (now with Detroit) and Qyntel Woods (now with Miami).

“I think the NBA is a microcosm of society as a whole, so you tell me what percentage of society uses marijuana and I'd say the NBA is right around there,” Trail Blazers forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim said.

Abdur-Rahim is right; I bet 30% is the national average of frequent smokers as well.

and isn't Los Angeles party central?

“I'd say 10 (percent). Maybe one or two per team. I'm not seeing six guys that are smoking weed on my team.” -- L.A. Clippers forward Elton Brand

Most excellent, even if Dylan misses several notes....

Between thought and expression: Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash:

As far as I could determine, this 1969 session features tracks from a CBS Studios session in Nashville, TN that did not see an official release. A Japanese company released these discs from an unknown source. The bonus tracks are taken from The Johnny Cash Show. Cash's vocals have a more commanding presence than Dylan's

(right click to save files, duh)

link courtesy of largehearted boy

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Ha ha

I've written this more than once, but can we petition the NYT to switch desk assignments for Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd? Rich writes excellent political commentary, but is relegated to the Sunday Entertainment page, and MoDo writes modestly readable Pop-Culturesque gossip, using Washington residents (much like Wonkette, but without quite as much ass-fucking).

The White House Stages Its 'Daily Show':
“Jeff Gannon” is at least the sixth “journalist” who has been paid by either the administration or its political allies.
But it shouldn't distract from the real question - that is, the real news - of how this fake newsman might be connected to a White House propaganda machine that grows curiouser by the day. Though Mr. McClellan told Editor & Publisher magazine that he didn't know until recently that Mr. Guckert was using an alias, Bruce Bartlett, a White House veteran of the Reagan-Bush I era, wrote on the nonpartisan journalism Web site Romenesko, that “if Gannon was using an alias, the White House staff had to be involved in maintaining his cover.” (Otherwise, it would be a rather amazing post-9/11 security breach.)

By my count, “Jeff Gannon” is now at least the sixth “journalist” (four of whom have been unmasked so far this year) to have been a propagandist on the payroll of either the Bush administration or a barely arms-length ally like Talon News while simultaneously appearing in print or broadcast forums that purport to be real news.

The inability of real journalists to penetrate this White House is not all the White House's fault. The errors of real news organizations have played perfectly into the administration's insidious efforts to blur the boundaries between the fake and the real and thereby demolish the whole notion that there could possibly be an objective and accurate free press. Conservatives, who supposedly deplore post-modernism, are now welcoming in a brave new world in which it's a given that there can be no empirical reality in news, only the reality you want to hear (or they want you to hear). The frequent fecklessness of the Beltway gang does little to penetrate this Washington smokescreen. For a case in point, you needed only switch to CNN on the day after Mr. Olbermann did his fake-news-style story on the fake reporter in the White House press corps.

“Jeff Gannon” had decided to give an exclusive TV interview to a sober practitioner of by-the-book real news, Wolf Blitzer. Given this journalistic opportunity, the anchor asked questions almost as soft as those “Jeff” himself had asked in the White House. Mr. Blitzer didn't question Mr. Guckert's outrageous assertion that he adopted a fake name because “Jeff Gannon is easier to pronounce and easier to remember.” (Is “Jeff” easier to pronounce than his real first name, Jim?). Mr. Blitzer never questioned Gannon/Guckert's assertion that Talon News “is a separate, independent news division” of GOPUSA. Only in a brief follow-up interview a day later did he ask Gannon/Guckert to explain why he was questioned by the F.B.I. in the case that may send legitimate reporters to jail: Mr. Guckert has at times implied that he either saw or possessed a classified memo identifying Valerie Plame as a C.I.A. operative. Might that memo have come from the same officials who looked after “Jeff Gannon's” press credentials? Did Mr. Guckert have any connection with CNN's own Robert Novak, whose publication of Ms. Plame's name started this investigation in the first place? The anchor didn't go there.

The “real” news from CNN was no news at all, but it's not as if any of its competitors did much better. The “Jeff Gannon” story got less attention than another media frenzy - that set off by the veteran news executive Eason Jordan, who resigned from CNN after speaking recklessly at a panel discussion at Davos, where he apparently implied, at least in passing, that American troops deliberately targeted reporters. Is the banishment of a real newsman for behaving foolishly at a bloviation conference in Switzerland a more pressing story than that of a fake newsman gaining years of access to the White House (and network TV cameras) under mysterious circumstances? With real news this timid, the appointment of Jon Stewart to take over Dan Rather's chair at CBS News could be just the jolt television journalism needs. As Mr. Olbermann demonstrated when he borrowed a sharp “Daily Show” tool to puncture the “Jeff Gannon” case, the only road back to reality may be to fight fake with fake.


Update: MoDo actually wrote a pretty good piece today on this same subject. And to clarify, I read most of her columns, and enjoy them, but I think Frank Rich is a better writer

I'm still mystified by this story. I was rejected for a White House press pass at the start of the Bush administration, but someone with an alias, a tax evasion problem and Internet pictures where he posed like the “Barberini Faun” is credentialed to cover a White House that won a second term by mining homophobia and preaching family values?

At first when I tried to complain about not getting my pass renewed, even though I'd been covering presidents and first ladies since 1986, no one called me back. Finally, when Mr. McClellan replaced Ari Fleischer, he said he'd renew the pass - after a new Secret Service background check that would last several months.

In an era when security concerns are paramount, what kind of Secret Service background check did James Guckert get so he could saunter into the West Wing every day under an assumed name while he was doing full-frontal advertising for stud services for $1,200 a weekend? He used a driver's license that said James Guckert to get into the White House, then, once inside, switched to his alter ego, asking questions as Jeff Gannon.

Mr. McClellan shrugged this off to Editor & Publisher magazine, oddly noting, “People use aliases all the time in life, from journalists to actors.”

I know the F.B.I. computers don't work, but this is ridiculous. After getting gobsmacked by the louche sagas of Mr. Guckert and Bernard Kerik, the White House vetters should consider adding someone with some blogging experience.

Does the Bush team love everything military so much that even a military-stud Web site is a recommendation?

read the rest

And http://www.answers.com/topic/glyptothek?hl=barberini&hl=faun#Encyclopedia
defines Barberini Faun, sort of....


Jeff Zimmerman

In a follow up to this photo post, Sam Spratlin (also here and here) was kind enough to write:

i was on your blog whilst doing some random searching and i saw your post about the mural off damen and lake... it was painted by a guy named jeff zimmerman... he has done a number of other ones in various chicago neighborhoods... the subject matter of each is location-specific... he takes pics of residents and puts them in the work... he also paints a lot of paintings of ice cream trucks... keep an eye out, i'm sure he will have another gallery show sometime in the future.

A little google search led to Jeff Zimmerman's page

Thanks, Sam!

here's the mural, click for larger version:
Mural at Damen and Lake - 50 50 poems

The proper name is Top of the World.

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Feds are against religious freedom

So, wine and communion wafers are ok, but not herbal tea? Sounds discriminatory to me. And somehow I just don't think hoasca tea is a 'gateway' drug to 'narcotic trafficking'. Total bullshit in other words. I don't understand why any psychedelic substance is a Schedule 1 drug. Schedule 1 drugs are those that have absolutely no use to human kind, and 3,000 years of human history argues otherwise in the case of peyote, hoasca tea, even marijuana. Plants, created by G-d - should not be made illegal by man.

WSJ.com - US Wants High Crt To Block Church's Hallucinogenic Tea Use:
The Bush administration asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to block a New Mexico church from using hallucinogenic tea that the government contends is illegal and potentially dangerous.
The appeal from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales argues that a lower court was wrong to allow the Brazil-based O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal to import and use the hoasca tea as part of its religious services.
“The court's decision has mandated that the federal government open the nation's borders to the importation, circulation and usage of a mind-altering hallucinogen and threatens to inflict irreparable harm on international cooperation in combating transnational narcotics trafficking,” the filing states.
...The group has won several rounds at the lower courts, most recently at the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in November.
In December, the Supreme Court lifted a temporary stay that allowed the church to immediately use the tea after its court victories.

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Naming bills can be so much fun. Let's make a bill that every proposal has the opposite effect of what the name of the bill is. Oh wait, we already do that....

WSJ.com - 'Clear Skies' Bill Is Delayed In Bid to Reach a Compromise:
Trying to avert a deadlock over President Bush's top [anti-]environmental initiative, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee gave itself more time to work out a compromise.

Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R., Okla.) said he expects to take up the so-called Clear Skies bill in two weeks...By introducing a series of amendments that will enhance the future use of coal by power plants and coal-gasification technology that will help utilities remove pollutants before the fuel is used, the panel's Republican leaders are increasing pressure on Sen. Max Baucus (D., Mont.) to join them. The changes would benefit coal-producing states, particularly Montana, which has the nation's largest coal reserves.
... But the amendments don't address the Democrats' main concern, which is that emissions of carbon dioxide should also be regulated under the bill.
Still, the panel's Democrats praised the postponement and expressed hope that a compromise might be reached. Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D., Del.) said he was “pleased,” that a $650 million program that would provide more incentives to build power plants that use coal gasification had been included in the bill.

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Briefly, anyone who steals someone's daily newspaper is a low-life scum. Are you so strapped for cash that you can't spare $.50? I'll loan you the coins, just stop stealing our newspaper! Biatch!


Dick Durbin earns my vote, again

In response to my concerned letter (and here, here, and even here) regarding the war criminal, Alberto Gonzales, Senator Durbin writes (a form letter no doubt, but still eloquent):

February 16, 2005 Mr. Seth Anderson ...Chicago, IL

Dear Mr. Anderson:

Thank you for your message regarding the nomination of Alberto Gonzales for Attorney General. I appreciate knowing your thoughts.

On February 3, 2005, the Senate voted to confirm Judge Gonzales by a vote of 60-36. After meeting with Mr. Gonzales, listening to his hearing testimony, reviewing his record, and carefully considering his nomination, I concluded that I could not support him for Attorney General.

Obligatory acknowledgment of Gonzales' personal history:
Alberto Gonzales is a skilled lawyer. His life story is nothing short of inspiring. I have the greatest respect for his success, for what he has achieved, and for the obstacles he has overcome.

and the protein:

However, the debate surrounding the nomination of Alberto Gonzales to be the Attorney General of the United States is not about his life story. Instead, it is about whether America will continue to be a nation based on the rule of law, or whether we, out of fear, will abandon our time-tested values.

History is written after every war, including stories of courage, compassion, and glory. Sadly, when the history of the war on terrorism is written, it will also tell the story of how some felt we could no longer afford to live by some of the principles that are at the foundation of what America stands for.

The horrible acts that occurred at Abu Ghraib cannot be dismissed as the conduct of only a few. They must be viewed as a foreseeable result of a process initiated in Washington. As Counsel to President Bush, Alberto Gonzales was at the center of that process, at the center of the Administration's effort to redefine what is legal and acceptable in the treatment of prisoners and detainees. He and Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee found loopholes in the law to rationalize torture and inhumane
treatment. At the very least, this helped create a permissive environment that made it more likely that abuses would occur.

Mr. Gonzales recommended to the President that the Geneva Conventions should not apply to the war on terrorism. The President accepted this view and issued a memo concluding that “new thinking in the law of war” was needed and that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to the war on terrorism. Mr. Gonzales then requested, approved, and disseminated the
Justice Department torture memo, which adopted a new, very restrictive definition of torture and concluded that the torture statute, which makes torture a crime, does not apply to interrogations conducted under the President's authority as Commander-in-Chief.

Relying on this “new thinking” and the Justice Department's definition of torture, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld approved numerous abusive interrogation tactics for use against prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. Senior officials in Iraq heard of the tactics, and commanders and troops at Abu Ghraib were sent the signal that the “law of war” is an obstacle to overcome, not a bright line that cannot be crossed.

For decades, the United States led the world in ensuring the care of enemy prisoners. We knew that torture, in addition to being inhumane, produces unreliable information, makes it more difficult to win wars, and places our troops at risk. Now we are seeing the effects of redefining torture, as pictures from Abu Ghraib become recruiting posters for Al-Qaeda. The 9/11 Commission correctly concluded that the prisoner abuse scandal has damaged our ability to combat the terrorist threat. The
message we send regarding our commitment to basic human rights affects the safety of our troops in the field and our citizens at home.

We can win the war on terrorism while respecting the values our nation represents. If we are to lead the world by example, we must not compromise the principles upon which our country was founded - the rule of law and a respect for human rights.

I could not in good conscience vote to elevate to the highest law enforcement position in the nation a man who ignored the rule of law and the demands of human decency and created the permissive environment that made Abu Ghraib possible.
Richard J. Durbin
United States Senator

The good Senator, as always, responds to my letters with a heartfelt, well written reply. Thanks!

Durbin's email

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Bank of America Media Account

Bank of America shifted media-buying and -planning duties from Interpublic Group of Cos.' Deutsch, New York, to sibling Initiative Worldwide, the marketer said. Large Chunk of Ad Account Moved to Draft
Bank of America spent $197 million in measured media between January and October 2004, according to TNS Media Intelligence, and $166 million in 2003.



perfectly obvious, but unknown to me

misandry (MIS-an-dree) noun

Hatred of men.

[From mis-, from miso- (hate) + -andry (male).]

The feminine counterpart of this term is misogyny, and hatred of humankind is known as misanthropy.

“Television advertising, for example, is deeply infected by misandry. In adverts for everything from jeans to yogurt, men are portrayed as idiots.”
John Waters; A Hate That Dares Us to Breathe Its Name; Irish Times (Dublin, Ireland); Nov 25, 1997.

“Perhaps the monolithic misandry of Veronica Quilligan's Dilly should have signalled, as her facial and body language quite fail to, that the character was being set up for a narrative reversal.”
Ian Shuttleworth; Two Halves That Don't Add up to One Whole; Financial Times (London, UK); Aug 2, 2001.
There are three truths: my truth, your truth, and the truth. -Chinese proverb


Bush supplemental irks some conservatives

Too funny. Doesn't bode well for the Preznit's budget when even Rethuglicans notice the clumsy slight of hand. Oh right, they proclaim(ed) themselves the party of fiscal rectitude, back in the days when they were the minority party.

Bush supplemental irks some conservatives:

The budgeting process and Bush’s requests for money for nonemergency programs have irritated some conservatives who want offsetting spending cuts and who objected to sending $200 million to the Palestinian Authority, and a $600 million increase in aid to countries hit by the tsunami last December also concerns Republican lawmakers.

“We are developing offsets and plan to ask the White House to recommend offsets,” said Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), chairman of the Republican Study Committee (RSC). “And we reserve right to offer amendments on the House floor to strike [spending] outright.”

Meanwhile, Democrats plan to use the bill to question Bush’s strategy in Iraq and complain that some of the spending, such as tsunami relief, was included only to make it politically difficult to oppose the bill.

and continuing the giggles:

Both Republican and Democratic aides said that requests for $780 million for U.N. peacekeeping missions, $200 million for costs incurred by coalition partners in Iraq and Afghanistan, $55 million for a war-crimes tribunal in Sudan, several billion dollars to restructure three Army brigades in Iraq and $658 billion to build a new embassy compound in Baghdad should have been included in Bush’s fiscal year 2006 budget request.

“It’s a little frustrating when the White House sends a budget one week ago that did not include funding foreign aid for Sudan and a week later it’s included in the supplemental,” Pence said. “We will do what we can to bring discipline to the process.”

Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), who visited Iraq last month, said, “Our preference is going to back to that practice [of including spending cuts]. We should start putting money in budget for these emergencies. We know they’re coming, and we ought to put them in the budget.”


Indy 500 blogs

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I really have meaning to somehow link to the Indy500 blogs (which needs a better name, imho, especially since Google links to Nascar sites instead of liberal minded, Alberto Gonzales hating blogs), but I have to figure out how to have collapsing sidebar elements (like Craig's Thoughts) does.

I am not specifically a 'political' blogger, but certainly have an interest in liberal politics, and write about it when appropriate. However, it looks like the above referenced site is momentarily down. Hmmm.



minor NBA observations

In the years that we've followed the Sacramento Kings (probably since they lost to the Utah Jazz in the first round, circa 1998), this game against the Chicago Bulls was the first time I recall actively rooting against the Kings in a long time, and sincerely hoping Chris Webber would take another shot (started 1-12, ended 7-21, before fouling out).

The Bulls have sucked recently, until this years surprisingly watchable team, so my divided loyalties never really mattered. This year, on the other hand, the Bulls have a decent chance of sneaking into the playoffs- whoo hoo! - and the Kings look tired, sad and lackluster. Chris Webber shows flashes of his old knees, Bobby Jackson is done for the year, Peja is starting to be frequently injured, and only Bibby, Miller and Mobley play consistently well. In other words, the Bulls have a lot of upside (phrase copyright: Hubie Brown), and the Kings don't.

One other NBA observation: surprisingly, Kevin McHale looks like he was enjoying his new role as head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves. I've always despised the Celtics, but I'll give McHale props as being a great player, and perhaps as a competent coach. Even the Kandy-ass man was hustling for rebounds, falling out of bounds, in todays game against the New Jersey Nets. Amazing. McHale was jawing at Jason Collins of the Nets after a foul call, saying “you know you fouled, stop complaining”, or words to that effect. I suppose McHale hasn't figured out the proper protocol for such things...

yadda yadda yadda, a sports-writer I'm not....

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General Mills Saatchi Shakeup

From Adweek

About 17 staffers at Saatchi & Saatchi here resigned this week in the wake of the agency's split with Mike Burns, a vice chairman and worldwide account director on key client General Mills, sources said.

The staffers came from different departments, including creative and account services, but all worked on General Mills. Saatchi, a Publicis Groupe agency, handles creative duties on brands such as Cheerios, Total, Wheaties, Lucky Charms, Yoplait, Pillsbury and Green Giant. ...Burns, who spent 25 years at the agency, last Friday said he was mulling several New York-based career options; he did not elaborate.

Also, Saatchi said Baglivo and a quartet of senior group account directors would absorb his account duties. Sources said some of those executives were among those who quit.

Wow, I wonder what really happened? You'd think out of 17 account reps somebody would spill the dirt.....


Buena Vista Social Club

excellent movie, and I've already seen it twice, but it's been a while.

recently shipped by Netflix

Buena Vista Social Club:
American guitarist Ry Cooder brings together a group of legendary Cuban folk musicians (some in their 90s) to record a Grammy-winning CD in their native Havana. The result is spectacular as subsequent concert footage of gigs in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and New York City's Carnegie Hall proves. Director Wim Wenders captures not only the music, but also the life stories of these fascinating artists.

Buena Vista Social Club

Jet Lag

We're suckers for light French films, but this might be even lighter than we can stomach. D might end up watching the second half by herself.

recently shipped by Netflix

Shipped: Jet Lag:

Juliette Binoche and Jean Réno star in this sparkling, romantic French comedy from writer and director Danièle Thompson (La Bûche). At the Roissy Airport in Paris, an artist (Reno) who's still pining for his ex-wife plots to stop her from marrying again. But when he meets a tempestuous beautician (Binoche) at the terminal, his plans change abruptly.

Jet Lag

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Juiced ghostwritten

King Kaufman seems to think that Canseco's new book is written by Steve Kettmann. Hmmm.

Salon.com News | King Kaufman's Sports Daily:
In fact, “Juiced” comes across as a kind of infomercial at times. “Look at me,” Canseco writes. “See me on TV, or in the newspaper, and you'll see that we do have choices in life about how we want to look and feel. If you don't mind turning forty and feeling worn down and powerless ... that's your choice. But if you want to head into your forties feeling strong and active, and looking as good as you ever have, the way I do, you can choose that too.”

“Juiced” is a compelling, quick, fun read. I suspect that by saying that I'm praising Steve Kettmann, a friend who covered the Bash Brothers-era A's for the San Francisco Chronicle, and who has written about steroids in baseball for the New York Times and Salon, among other publications. I asked Kettmann if he'd ghosted the book and he politely declined to comment.

I might read the book, for a dollar, or on some plane ride....


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And the dance goes on

Is anyone willing to take odds that this DRM will be thwarted by the time it is actually available (mid 2005)?

New DVDs 'harder' to pirate:

DVDs will be harder to pirate thanks to new copy protection measures by Macrovision.

Macrovision says its new RipGuard technology will thwart most, but not all, of the current DVD ripping (copying) programs used to pirate DVDs.

“RipGuard is designed to... reduce DVD ripping and the resulting supply of illegal peer to peer,” said the firm.

Macrovision said the new technology will work in “nearly all” current DVD players when applied to the discs, but it did not specify how many machines could have a problem with RipGuard....

The new system is in fact a tweak of the current anti-piracy measures which works specifically to block most ripping programs.

If used, those programs will most likely crash, the company said.

Macrovision has said that Rip Guard can be updated if hackers find a way around the new anti-copying measures.

like MacTheRipper?

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Honeymoon over

Looks as if Gov Blowjobavich's honeymoon is over. What's a little corruption worth anyway? This is Chicago, after all.

Lawmakers called for investigations Monday into links between new tollway oasis food vendors and two of Gov. Rod Blagojevich's closest advisers, but an aide to the governor said he had no plans to ask his inspector general to look into the matter.

The Tribune reported Sunday that Blagojevich fundraisers Antoin “Tony” Rezko and Christopher G. Kelly had close ties to firms awarded lucrative new contracts to operate restaurants in the tollway's newly revamped oases.

The overhaul is being conducted by Los Angeles developer Wilton Partners, a major contributor to Blagojevich's campaign fund, which Kelly runs. The Illinois State Toll Highway Authority has granted Wilton wide discretion to pick oasis vendors.


and one of my old bosses says:

Republican Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale agreed that “one of the bright spots of the Blagojevich administration has been the tollway,” but that “these kinds of revelations lead a skeptical public to believe it's business as usual or worse.”

The Tribune found that Abdelhamid Chaib, a business associate of both Rezko and Kelly and a longtime Rezko friend, is the owner of the Subway shops at each of the seven new oases. In addition, Rezko is a partner with California-based Panda Express in the ownership of numerous Panda restaurants in Illinois and four other Midwestern states. Kelly is an investor in Rezko's portion of that joint venture.

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Obama and Vets

Senator Obama got off on the wrong foot (in the eyes of this household) by voting to confirm Condiliar Rice, tempering some of our enthusiasm for him. However, more statements like this one would ameliorate our ambivalence, slightly.

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama chided President Bush on Monday for proposing a federal budget that Obama says falls about $4 billion short of honoring the nation's commitment to veterans.

“Four billion dollars is a lot, but it's not a lot when you consider the overall [Department of Veterans Affairs] budget or the fact, for example, that the president is looking to borrow one trillion dollars in order to finance his Social Security scheme,” Obama told reporters in Chicago.

Obama said Bush's budget would slow down a claims system already plagued by backlog. He also criticized the administration's proposal to charge some veterans a $250 enrollment fee for health-care coverage, and he cited a number of cuts in funding for veterans nursing homes. Obama noted that some veterans will see their prescription drug co-payments rise under the Bush plan.

“This budget tells our veterans that if they want increased funding for the VA they'll have to pay for it themselves,” Obama said.

... Richard Fuller, national legislative director for the Paralyzed Veterans of America, said Bush's budget is “the worst budget we've seen.”



Air pollution: get used to it - says the EPA

Sadly, the Federal Government has decided that air pollution is a god given right (to power companies); and any regulations restricting pollution should be stricken. Thanks, Red States!

Illinois and four other Midwestern states are considering new rules that would require coal-fired power plants to dramatically curb air pollution linked to lung damage, heart disease and respiratory ailments.

Aimed at the region's biggest polluters, the proposal would hold coal plants to stricter emissions standards than the Bush administration is calling for under its Clear Skies legislation, a revision of the Clean Air Act that a Senate committee is scheduled to consider Wednesday.

Aging coal plants in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin--which account for about a quarter of the sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide released by the nation's power plants--also would have to meet earlier deadlines for cleaning their smokestacks.


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Death of Amtrak

Sadly, Amtrak seems likely to vanish soon. Reduction of auto pollution and congestion is worth nothing; only profits matter. Profit is the only quantifiable motive for any governmental program, profit, profit profit. Bleh.

States or the railroads they contract with in the future would be responsible for subsidizing money-losing routes, he said. But not even Amtrak's most popular Acela service, in the Northeast corridor, makes a profit. Amtrak, like most transportation operations worldwide, is government-subsidized and has not made a profit since its inception in 1970.

In addition to revamping service, control of Amtrak's Union Station hub would be transferred to a local authority, possibly the Metra commuter railroad, Mineta said. Amtrak owns Union Station and nearby rail infrastructure.

Critics say the reorganization plan is a thinly disguised attempt to kill Amtrak. In his fiscal 2006 budget, President Bush called for stripping Amtrak of all federal operating assistance--more than $500 million annually--and said the trains should run only on routes that ensure a profit.


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I haven't posted much about the Jeff Gannon aka Max Power incident, because, really, what is there to say about it that hasn't been said, and said better? Anyway, that being said, I would revel, no gloat, in the irony if this was the moment of hubris that brings down the Bush White House.


So in the end, why does this matter? Why does it matter that Jeff Gannon may have been a gay hooker named James Guckert with a $20,000 defaulted court judgment against him? So he somehow got a job lobbing softball questions to the White House. Big deal. If he was already a prostitute, why not be one in the White House briefing room as well?

This is the Conservative Republican Bush White House we're talking about. It's looking increasingly like they made a decision to allow a hooker to ask the President of the United States questions. They made a decision to give a man with an alias and no journalistic experience access to the West Wing of the White House on a "daily basis." They reportedly made a decision to give him - one of only six - access to documents, or information in those documents, that exposed a clandestine CIA operative. Say what you will about Monika Lewinsky - a tasteless episode, "inappropriate," whatever. Monika wasn't a gay prostitute running around the West Wing. What kind of leadership would let prostitutes roam the halls of the West Wing? What kind of war-time leadership can't find the same information that took bloggers only days to find?

None of this is by accident.

Someone had to make a decision to let all this happen. Who? Someone committed a crime in exposing Valerie Plame and now it appears a gay hooker may be right in the middle of all of it? Who?

Read the rest (warning: includes links to explicit photos of penises)

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Harry Frankfurt

Harry Frankfurt

From the ever-coy Times: Unprintable Essay Title

The opening paragraph of the 67-page essay is a model of reason and composition, repeatedly disrupted by that single obscenity:

“One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it. So the phenomenon has not aroused much deliberate concern, nor attracted much sustained inquiry.”

The essay goes on to lament that lack of inquiry, despite the universality of the phenomenon. “Even the most basic and preliminary questions about bullshit remain, after all,” Mr. Frankfurt writes, “not only unanswered but unasked.”

The balance of the work tries, with the help of Wittgenstein, Pound, St. Augustine and the spy novelist Eric Ambler, among others, to ask some of the preliminary questions - to define the nature of a thing recognized by all but understood by none.

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Sushi Now! Hai!

And then he just ordered a California Roll!

Hungry Man Holds Up Store, Demands Sushi (Reuters):

Reuters - A Japanese man pulled a knife in a
convenience store early Sunday morning and threatened to kill
himself unless he was given a meal of the choicest sushi.

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Gallic humor

Heard on a Puegot:

Did you hear about the guy in Paris who almost got away with stealing several paintings from the Louvre? After planning the crime, getting in and out past security, he was captured only two blocks away when his van ran out of gas.

When asked how he could mastermind such a crime and then make such an obvious error, he replied: “Monsieur, I had no Monet to buy Degas to make the Van Gogh.”

And you thought I lacked De Gaulle to tell a story like that.


deep Thoughts

Whatcha talkin' bout, Willis!

Thomas A. Edison:

“There is no expedient to which a man will not go to avoid the labor of thinking.”


Chicago Botanic Garden

we spent a beautiful afternoon wandering around the Chicago Botanic Garden (which has a surprisingly extensive website), stepping gingerly over melting snow/mud.

A few highlights (click for larger versions):

Japanese Temple window

Frozen circle

Chicago Botanic Garden bridge

Ceramic stool

Dodging mud amongst the birch

Balls Of Stone

Self Portrait with D

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Another reason I am a member of the ACLU

This flyer, (pdf perfect for keeping in your camera bag or in your wallet) describes what rights one has when harassed by either rent-a-cops (like in this disturbing story in San Francisco), or members of local constabulary. Bottom line, don't let your rights as a U.S. citizen be taken by some faceless uniformed officer.

Bert P. Krages II — Attorney at Law: The Photographer's Right - A Downloadable Flyer:
The right to take photographs is now under assault more than ever. People are being stopped, harassed, and even intimidated into handing over their personal property simply because they were taking photographs of subjects that made other people uncomfortable. Recent examples have included photographing industrial plants, bridges, and bus stations. For the most part, attempts to restrict photography are based on misguided fears about the supposed dangers that unrestricted photography presents to society.

Ironically, unrestricted photography by private citizens has played an integral role in protecting the freedom, security, and well being of all Americans. Photography in the United States has contributed to improvements in civil rights, curbed abusive child labor practices, and provided information important to investigating crimes. These images have not always been pretty and often have offended the sensibilities of governmental and commercial interests who had vested interests in a status quo that was adverse to the majority in our country.

Photography has not contributed to a decline in public safety or economic vitality in the United States. When people think back to the acts of terrorism that have occurred over the last forty years, none have depended on or even involved photography. Restrictions on photography would have not prevented any of these acts. Similarly, some corporations have a history of abusing the rights of photographers under the guise of protecting their trade secrets. These claims are almost always meritless because entities are required to keep trade secrets from public view if they want to protect them. Trade secret laws do not give anyone the right to restrain photographers from taking photographs from public places.

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Gifts are grand

Thanks to Colleen for the two excellent gifts off of my Amazon list

Seven Steps


Chicago Days : 150 Defining Moments in the Life of a Great City

Unexpected gifts are the best. Thanks, eh!

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Vescey on Bush

Quotable from Peter Vescey:

New York Post Online Edition: sports:
According to Dr. Jose Canseco, then-Texas Rangers' owner George W. Bush had to know his team was a steroid factory in the early 1990's, sort of a “weapons of muscle-mass destruction.” In his defense, the president said the documents may have crossed his desk, but were never authenticated by Dan Rather.

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Arthur Miller RIP

Arthur Miller dies aged 89
Giant of American drama passes away at his home in Connecticut.

Arthur Miller

“The Crucible (Penguin Classics)” (Arthur Miller)

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Corruption in Chicago?

How could that be? Good to see that Natarus got some press. Ahem. I wouldn't even care much, if the food didn't suck. There isn't much else around Millennium Park area open late at night.

Natarus as a Witch

City puts heat on clout-heavy cafe :

The Chicago Park District awarded a 20-year lease to run the swanky restaurant at Millennium Park to a businessman who got a top Park District official pregnant during negotiations, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

What's more,

... Among the vendors for Park Grill is an architectural metal company owned by the son of Ald. Burton Natarus (42nd).

Other issues raise questions about the deal:

*The Park Grill, which opened 16 months ago, hasn't had to pay any property taxes. The Park District has failed to take the required steps to generate a tax bill for the restaurant. Businesses on public land must pay property taxes.

*While the Park District was negotiating on the Park Grill with O'Malley and his partners, the city was fighting O'Malley to condemn his building about a mile down Michigan Avenue. The city wanted to demolish the building that would become Grace O'Malley's pub. The city dragged O'Malley back to court in December to force him to pay a fine.

*The Park Grill, as part of its deal with the Park District, gets free water, gas and garbage pickup. The garbage pickup costs taxpayers about $245,000 annually.

The Park District team, including an outside consultant, spent the next 18 months hammering out a contract with O'Malley's company. The restaurant's rent is tied to its gross sales.

link courtesy of GapersBlock But are pictures of the Park Grill illegal?:

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Stewart Butterfield on Flickr

interesting interview with the CEO of Flickr. 1001 gets some props, as it should, as does the squared circle group.

O'Reilly Network: Stewart Butterfield on Flickr:

The complaint that it's uncontrolled and it's not going to be captured in a consistent way to me is really irrelevant. Because tags are first and foremost for people to organize their own photos--and if they weren't, it wouldn't work. It's a happy accident that the whole global collection emerges. And let's say it's only 50 percent accurate and complete and let's say right now we have 10,000 photos tagged “Italy;” it might actually be 20,000 photos that should have been tagged “Italy,” but who cares? No one is going to look at all 10,000 photos, let alone 20,000 photos. And in six months, it will be 50,000 photos instead of 100,000 photos.

Now there are some things that will annoy people, like singular versus plural forms, homonyms and homographs, and alternative spellings. But a lot of this is easy to deal with when you have enough data. In general, disambiguation is a harder problem.

We've done step one of relatedness of tags, which is just cluster analysis of how people tag, and then we suggest related tags. So if you tag “Italy,” it will suggest “Rome,” “architecture,” “travel,” “food,” “Europe,” etc. And it works astoundingly well. People usually think there's a human editor, but it's just cluster analysis. And there is a lot more of that coming--some of which we're hoping to show at the 2005 [ETech] conference.

Read more

I totally agree with this point as a former Ofoto/Snapfish user:

Koman: In the write-up for your web services session at ETech, you say, “Capturing the creative energy of the hive can be scary. It requires giving up some control, and eliminating lock-in as a strategy.” Tell me some more about that.

Butterfield: Ofoto is a pretty good example. I don't want to pick on them too much, but they create a pretty artificial kind of lock-in. When you upload your pictures to them, you might upload a three- or four-megapixel image, but all you can get back from them is a 600-pixel image; if you want to get the original back, you have to buy it on a CD. There's no way to get it out because if you got it out, then your friends and family could get it out and print it out at home, and they're in competition with Lexmark and HP as well as the other online photo services. So that's one aspect of it.

these are my submissions to thesquared circle, so far. I have a couple of others I might submit; and am now looking everywhere to find circles.



this one actually got rejected for not being circular enough.

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If you ever feel like browsing through the shelves of our library, and can't quite make it in person, this page aims to replicate the experience. Actually, quite a lot of the items listed here are tangible objects you might stumble over if you were walking in my office, because I haven't gotten around to finishing the digestive experience. Ahem.

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Joe Klein

Good 1 liner from Alterman:

MSNBC - Unspinning unemployment :

Joe Klein is the only liberal columnist at Time Magazine, which means it has no liberals except those who bash liberals and Democrats.

Read more smack-downs of Klein at CJR

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The Thin Man

We really love these films, “Mummy”. Every couple of sentences, alcohol comes up as a plot point. They were not afraid to drink cocktails for breakfast....

Shipped: The Thin Man:

Shipped on 02/02/05.

The Thin Man, the first installment in one of the most successful detective serials in film history, introduces stylish sleuthing spouses Nick (William Powell) and Nora Charles (Myrna Loy). Powell and Loy's quick-witted repartee set a Hollywood tradition in their crackling debut as they investigate the disappearance of a wealthy inventor. The convoluted mystery plot moves at a rapid-fire pace that will delight modern viewers.

“The Thin Man” (W.S. Van Dyke)

Preliminary trepidation include wondering how much solipsism one can take, especially if it isn't ones own....

Shipped: I Am Trying to Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco:

Shipped on 02/09/05.

Photographer turned director Sam Jones started filming experimental rock band Wilco as they recorded their fourth album, "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot," which has since been released to critical acclaim. As depicted in the film, however, it was a tumultuous time (the band nearly broke up). This documentary captures both Wilco's music and the story of how the band weathered through the storm to release the album under a new label.

Update: this movie was better than I hoped. Tweedy is a kindred spirit, and the emotional texture of the movie played well against the music of Wilco. Jay Bennett got a little tripped up by his own ego, I wonder how he's doing now?

I Am Trying to Break Your Heart

When We Were Kings

We always wanted to see this:

Shipped: When We Were Kings:

Shipped on 02/10/05.

Two latter-day warriors travel to their ancestral homeland in When We Were Kings, a fascinating documentary about the 1974 "Rumble in the Jungle" title bout between heavyweight boxers Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. At the time, Foreman was world champion, and 32-year-old Ali was thought to be past his prime. Director Leon Gast struggled more than 20 years to complete the film.

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Cook County correctional

All day today (at least 10 times), we have been receiving erroneous collect calls from someone at the Cook County Correctional facility. The number being called is (312) 277-04xx which is not our main office number, but a roll-over number, thus the originating number is not picked up by our caller ID.

I don't even know who to contact. Perhaps theCook County Information Center?

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Yurt redux

| 1 Comment

Met with our third architect, and our structural engineer; seems like our yurt plans are looking good. Our next consideration is how difficult it would be to go up a 4 ft diameter stair (very tight spiral necessitated by existing beams and columns).

I think we are going for the 16 ft. version, as referenced in the above link.


Ward Churchill

Cockburn makes an excellent point: where is all the outrage for the aggressively partisan hackery spewed by the Ann Coulters of the world? Churchill's article is getting all sorts of denunciations; but it is just peachy to call for someone to blow up the New York Times building as Coulter (half man-half amazing) did recently. The NYT isn't even a liberal paper by any stretch of the imagination.

The Nation | Column | Ward Churchill and the Mad Dogs of the Right | Alexander Cockburn:
Start with sanity, in the form of Ward Churchill, a prof at the University of Colorado. Churchill is known as a fiery historian and writer, often on Indian topics. Back in 2001, after 9/11, Churchill wrote an essay called “Some People Push Back,” making the simple point, in a later summary, that “if U.S. foreign policy results in massive death and destruction abroad, we cannot feign innocence when some of that destruction is returned.”

That piece was developed into a book, On the Justice of Roosting Chickens. About those killed in the 9/11 attacks, Churchill wrote recently, “It is not disputed that the Pentagon was a military target, or that a CIA office was situated in the World Trade Center. Following the logic by which U.S. Defense Department spokespersons have consistently sought to justify target selection in places like Baghdad, this placement of an element of the American 'command and control infrastructure' in an ostensibly civilian facility converted the Trade Center itself into a 'legitimate' target.”

At this point Churchill could have specifically mentioned the infamous bombing of the Amariya civilian shelter in Baghdad in January 1991, with 400 deaths, almost all women and children, all subsequently identified and named by the Iraqis. To this day the US government says it was an OK target.

Churchill concludes, “If the U.S. public is prepared to accept these 'standards' when they are routinely applied to other people, they should not be surprised when the same standards are applied to them. It should be emphasized that I applied the 'little Eichmanns' characterization only to those [World Trade Center workers] described as 'technicians.' Thus, it was obviously not directed to the children, janitors, food service workers, firemen and random passers-by killed in the 9-1-1 attack. According to Pentagon logic, [they] were simply part of the collateral damage. Ugly? Yes. Hurtful? Yes. And that's my point. It's no less ugly, painful or dehumanizing a description when applied to Iraqis, Palestinians, or anyone else.” I'm glad he puts that gloss in about the targets, thus clarifying what did read to some like a blanket stigmatization of the WTC inhabitants in his original paper.

and in counter-point:

So much for the voice of sanity. Now for the dementia of the right. The New Republic's Tom Frank ... describes in TNR how he recently sat in on an antiwar panel in Washington.

Frank listened to Stan Goff, a former Delta Force soldier and current organizer for Military Families Speak Out, who duly moved Frank to write that “what I needed was a Republican like Arnold [Schwarzenegger] who would walk up to [Goff] and punch him in the face.” Then upon Frank's outraged ears fell the views of International Socialist Review editorial board member Sherry Wolf, who asserted that Iraqis had a “right” to rebel against occupation, prompting TNR's man to confide to his readers that “these weren't harmless lefties. I didn't want Nancy Pelosi talking sense to them; I wanted John Ashcroft to come busting through the wall with a submachine gun to round everyone up for an immediate trip to Gitmo, with Charles Graner on hand for interrogation.” After Wolf quoted Booker Prize-winning author Arundhati Roy's defense of the right to resist, Frank mused, “Maybe sometimes you just want to be on the side of whoever is more likely to take a bunker buster to Arundhati Roy.”

Now suppose Churchill had talked about Schwarzenegger's war on the poor in California and called on someone to punch the guv in the face, or have a jovial Graner force Pataki to masturbate what remain of Schwarzenegger's steroid-shriveled genitals, or have Ann Coulter rub her knickers in his face or get blown up by a bomb? He'd be out of his job in a minute.

Right-wing mad dogs are licensed to write anything, and in our Coulter-culture they do, just so they can burnish their profiles and get invited on Fox or CNN talk shows. Why else would Tony Blankley call on the Washington Times editorial page for Hersh to be imprisoned or shot for treason? But it's a PR game only right-wingers are allowed to play.

crass commercialism:

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FCC all fucks

per the Eric Idle song, the FCC are all fucks.
(mp3 here)

Yet again another government agency who only licks the boots of the corporations it oversees....

The Nation FCC: It Could Get Worse | John Nichols & Robert W. McChesney:
Bush will definitely have an opportunity to appoint a new chair, and if, as some predict, former wireless industry lobbyist Kathleen Abernathy also leaves, he could radically reshape the commission. One prospective replacement for Powell is the third Republican appointee on the commission, Kevin Martin. But Martin upset industry insiders when he sided with Democrats Copps and Adelstein to block Powell's attempt to choke off local phone competition--former House Commerce Committee chair Billy Tauzin dismissed Martin as a “renegade Republican” after that vote. And the insiders want to be sure the agency is chaired by someone who is 100 percent in favor of their agenda.

That's created something of a bandwagon for the appointment of Becky Klein--a former head of the Texas Public Utility Commission--with whom the industry has already developed a cozy relationship. When Klein challenged Texas Congressman Lloyd Doggett last year, the Austin Chronicle described her as “a horrible candidate” who appeared to be less serious about winning a House seat than “auditioning for her next GOP patronage job.” Despite that fact, Klein collected more than $800,000 in campaign contributions, with a substantial portion coming from telecommunications and energy companies--more, in fact, from those industries than any other first-time GOP candidate in the country. Klein earned just 31 percent of the vote, but as Gene Kimmelman, a senior director of Consumers Union, explained, “Clearly, the companies are investing in the future.”

There is no way that Bush is going to put a champion of the public interest in charge of the FCC. But members of the Senate, which must confirm his nominee, should signal now that Klein is simply unacceptable. It would be an important show of independence by Congress, where there is growing bipartisan awareness of public disenchantment with one-size-fits-all media.

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FDA corruption, part the 65456

The FDA once again demonstrates how closely it works with corporate clients, and how ineffective it is in actually protecting consumers. Maybe the FDA boards should be appointed differently, from a different pool of employers. Perhaps FDA employees should be restricted from ever working with pharmaceutical companies, in any capacity.


More than two years before Merck & Co. pulled the popular painkiller Vioxx from the market over safety concerns, federal regulators knew studies had indicated older people taking the drug were more likely to die than those in a placebo group.

Despite receiving this information from two studies involving Alzheimer's patients, the Food and Drug Administration did not require the company to warn physicians of the spike in deaths in older Vioxx users.

Nor did the drug company publicize the results of the studies it conducted, which were preliminary but raised a red flag about Vioxx's safety.

The Vioxx studies surfaced among documents posted on an FDA Web site last weekend in advance of a major meeting in Washington on Vioxx and similar painkillers. Beginning Wednesday, the FDA-sponsored forum will address the safety of these drugs and if the agency should restrict their use.

In this context, the Alzheimer's studies raise important new questions about what Merck and the FDA knew about Vioxx's risks and when they knew it, and whether both organizations acted responsibly to protect public safety.

Doctors who raised red flags were shut out:

Dr. Gurkirpal Singh, director of the post-marketing drug surveillance program at Stanford University, said he was astonished when he found the information about higher mortality rates for Vioxx patients on the Web site--information he said has not been previously disclosed.

“You would think physicians would want to know Merck had evidence indicating that patients on Vioxx in two clinical studies were twice as likely to die as those on placebo,” Singh said. “It's a very important finding. I only discovered it when I looked at the site. And I'm one of the foremost experts in the world on this subject.”

Singh had previously reported that Merck executives threatened him when he raised questions about whether the company was disclosing all relevant data about Vioxx. He also has said Merck's chief executive put an end to the harassment after it came to his attention.

Late last year, [Dr. Curt Furberg, a professor at Wake Forest University] said an FDA official asked him not to participate in the committee's meetings on painkillers after expressing concerns about a medication similar to Vioxx--Bextra, made by Pfizer Inc. A high-level official recently apologized and asked Furberg to continue to serve on the committee, Furberg said Wednesday.

And Merck tried to continue selling the drug, even though there were all sorts of red flags....

Company officials have maintained for months that Vioxx was withdrawn from the market as soon as Merck had reliable data from clinical studies documenting the drug's adverse effect on people's hearts. But critics have questioned those claims, and controversy has engulfed the company and the FDA.

In testimony, Gilmartin did not mention the increased rate of deaths found in the Alzheimer's studies. Nor did Merck note the FDA's suggestion in the March 2002 report that “fluid retention, edema and hypertension may play a role in the different cardiovascular safety profile” of Vioxx.

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Third Base

I always thought this was uttered by (former Texas Governor) Ann Richards, at the 1988 Democratic Convention. Memory is a funny t'ing.

Barry Switzer:

“Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple.”

Ann Richards did say (speaking of George Bush the smarter)

▪ “Poor George, he can't help it-- he was born with a silver foot in his mouth.”

at the Keynote Address to the 1988 Democratic National Convention



Another sharing paradigm being built here: and Doug Adams wrote an applescript for it. I'm thinking I'm going to send a few mix cds to PapercdCase, just because I get a kick out of it. Want one?

Updated: Playlist to papercdcase.com:
I've gotten some great feedback on Playlist to papercdcase.com. I've updated it to version 1.4. It will now let you choose which track info you want to put in the track boxes at papercdcase.com: Song Name, Artist, Composer, Time, Rating, and/or BPM.

papercdcase.com is a site that creates a downloadable PDF that can be printed and folded to create a paper CD case.

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"Rififi - Criterion Collection" (Criterion)

No idea, no prior idea of what the movie is even about.
Shipped: Rififi:

Shipped on 02/09/05.

Jules Dassin won the Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival for this French noir caper (with English subtitles) in which jewel thieves pull off an elaborate store heist. Recently released from prison, Tony le Stephanois (Jean Servais) gathers criminals Jo, Mario and Cesar for one last heist. But when Tony refuses to give part of the loot to rival gangster Pierre, Pierre retaliates by kidnapping Jo's son.
Turned out to be excellent, jazzy French noir.


I thought this was a great idea, until I read that it costs 50 bucks. Really, tell me what end user of a shareware tool is going to spend 50 dollars to send an email to a developer? If this functionality could be built into applications, I could see the developer purchasing it, but why would I want to? If a program crashes frequently, I either stop using it, or if it is made by Microsoft or Adobe, I just curse at my screen, then relaunch the app.

Maybe I'm misreading this blurb.

MacCentral: BugReporter sends crash logs to developers:
Zonic on Wednesday released BugReporter 1.0, a developer tool used to send Mac OS X “Crash Logs” directly to the developer instead of to Apple. “Normally seen only by Apple, these logs allow developers to identify the location and cause of any crash in their applications,” explained Zonic.

BugReporter works with both Carbon and Cocoa applications and works with software developed using Xcode or CodeWarrior. Reports can be delivered either by e-mail or online, directly into a bug-tracking database. BugReporter costs US$49.95 and requires Mac OS X v10.2 or later

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Lisah Pothus

Lisah Pothus re-emerges to ask for her AppleCare warranty info for the iBook we bought for her last summer. Sent it.

She claims:

Since the day I took it out of the box, there have been cumulative problems, especially with my Apple works application, which have been suggested as related to my preferences, corruption of various files and applications, software and /or hard drive problems, even including a keyboard for which half of the letters have been erased off of the keys. (I have reinstalled OS 10 and downloaded all relevant updates to no avail.)

Based upon the myriad and nature of the problems, I may have in fact gotten a lemon which necessitates replacement as versus repair. Nothing can be done along these lines unless I have proof that this machine was purchased at the official apple store online, although there may be possible recourse as against another independent retailer if he sold an inherently flawed product under the apple label.

I suppose this is possible, but a more likely cause would be user error. However, she is in Eugene, we think, so I can't assist her.

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Slang and curse words

Slang and curse words repost

Slang and curse words

One of the problems with learning a language is that you learn stilted speech, and you don't learn those words that are a major condiment in most conversations between native speakers, namely curse words. Unless you are some sort of language purist or fundamentalist, of course, but if you are, then you aren't reading this Goddamn blog then are you?

Any-who, The Alternative Dictionaries is a compendium of curse-words in many languages. Check it out.

What is this?

The Alternative dictionaries are a collection of various forms of “bad language” from many languages. At the moment, there are 2743 entries in 162 dictionaries. This is a collaborative project with contributions from a lot of people. The pages are developed and edited by Hans-Christian Holm.

I can only vouch for English, and Yiddish, and a smattering of Spanish, but the Italian sounds good, so I'm studying up.

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Wilco Rocks

Jeff Tweedy would be a good dinner companion, I believe. I'm still pissed that the Lounge Ax closed though (no fault of Tweedy); I saw/heard a lot of good music there, when I wasn't too drunk on the cheap beer.

Why Wilco Is the Future of Music:
Great things happen when a band and its audience find harmony. By Lawrence Lessig from Wired magazine.

..I got a chance to ask Tweedy about all this before a concert in Oakland, California (that's the weird thing about law professors hanging around Wired - you get to go to the back of the bus). What struck me most was his clarity. He was a man called to a war that he couldn't believe had to be fought. Yet it isn't ideology that drives him. It's common sense.

“Music,” he explained, “is different” from other intellectual property. Not Karl Marx different - this isn't latent communism. But neither is it just “a piece of plastic or a loaf of bread.” The artist controls just part of the music-making process; the audience adds the rest. Fans' imagination makes it real. Their participation makes it live. “We are just troubadours,” Tweedy told me. “The audience is our collaborator. We should be encouraging their collaboration, not treating them like thieves.”
But when I asked him to explain the extremism in this war, passion faded and disbelief took its place. Commenting on a court decision to ban all music sampling without a license, he said one word: racism. And he seemed genuinely confounded by those who use the courts to punish their fans. “If Metallica still needs money,” he almost whispered, “then there's something really, really wrong.” He would protest this extremism, he explained, by living a different life. By inviting, by creating, by inspiring music, and by ignoring wars about plastic.

If this war is to end, it needs authentic voices. We have had enough preaching. The outrage is beginning to wear thin. It will take bands like Wilco, who live a different example and whisper an explanation to those who want to hear. Peace takes a practice. One that only artists can make real.

“Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” (Wilco)

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Swank Franks and Flat Iron Building

Swank Franks, on North, Damen and Milwaukee, apparently stopped selling their deep fried Twinkies, so I didn't get a photo of that. This will have to suffice. There are art galleries on the upper floors - I've been to a few openings - thus the artwork hanging from some upper windows.

Swank Franks and the Flat Iron building, Chicago

click for larger version

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In a nutshell, tags are a just much better way of finding quasi-random tidbits. I have several technorati bookmarks, subscribe to several Flickr tags, have dozens of google news alerts, etc. Keyword search is the Bomb..

Salon.com Technology | Steal this bookmark!:
tagging as it is used ...at some of the Web's most interesting and lively new sites is launching a revolution of self-organization on the Internet. You could call it the latest twist in the ongoing evolution of social networking software. Except there's a difference: On social networking sites like Orkut or Friendster, people join, and then declare their alliances to each other explicitly. On sites that employ tagging, the networks emerge, implicitly, out of the shared interests of users. Order isn't proclaimed, it just happens.

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Google Maps

Google has launched a pretty good map site (maps.google.com natch)

Your browser is not supported by Google Maps just yet. We currently support the following browsers: • IE 5.5+ (download: Windows) • Firefox 0.8+ (download: Windows Mac Linux) • Netscape 7.1+ (download: Windows Mac Linux) • Mozilla 1.4+ (download: Windows Mac Linux)

We are working on supporting Safari. Regardless of your browser type, you must have JavaScript enabled to use Google Maps.

We recommend you download one of the browsers above, or you can try to load Google Maps in your current browser.

but it seems to almost work in Safari already, so who knows how long it will take.

From ZNet UK

Google Maps offers maps, driving directions and the ability to search for local businesses, but currently only for some of the Americas. The search giant appears to be working with TeleAtlas for the mapping products. ...
The service offers a few tweaks to standard mapping products. Someone using the service can click and drag the maps, instead of having to click and reload, for example, and magnified views of specific spots pop up in bubbles. The new map service supports Internet Explorer and Mozilla browsers. It covers the United States, Puerto Rico and parts of Canada.

For instance, from Austin to Chicago (my first address anyway)

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Canada or Bust

I wondered how many people would actually follow up their brow-beating, and leave the U.S. for Canada. Not a large number, apparently, but more than I thought. I know D & I talked about it, but realistically, are not ready for such a drastic jump. We could still decide to make the leap though, our business is not tied into Chicago per se, our main clients are in New York, Dallas, San Francisco, etc. As long as we have broadband, we could go almost anywhere. Plus, I was born in Toronto, so that would make it easier.

Some Bush Foes Vote Yet Again, With Their Feet: Canada or Bust:
Some Americans dismayed by President Bush’s victory are proceeding with plans to move to Canada.
... In the Niagara of liberal angst just after Mr. Bush's victory on Nov. 2, the Canadian government's immigration Web site reported an increase in inquiries from the United States to about 115,000 a day from 20,000. After three months, memories of the election have begun to recede. There has been an inauguration, even a State of the Union address.

Yet immigration lawyers say that Americans are not just making inquiries and that more are pursuing a move above the 49th parallel, fed up with a country they see drifting persistently to the right and abandoning the principles of tolerance, compassion and peaceful idealism they felt once defined the nation.

America is in no danger of emptying out. But even a small loss of residents, many of whom cite a deep sense of political despair, is a significant event in the life of a nation that thinks of itself as a place to escape to.
...“The number of U.S. citizens who are actually submitting Canadian immigration papers and making concrete plans is about three or four times higher than normal,” said Linda Mark, an immigration lawyer in Vancouver.

Other immigration lawyers in Toronto, Montreal and Halifax said they had noticed a similar uptick, though most put the rise at closer to threefold.

“We're still not talking about a huge movement of people,” said David Cohen, an immigration lawyer in Montreal. “In 2003, the last year where full statistics are available, there were something like 6,000 U.S. citizens who received permanent resident status in Canada. So even if we do go up threefold this year, we're only talking about 18,000 people.”

and the code to getting a visa, revealed
Canadian officials decide on potential immigrants by awarding points for certain skills or attributes. Being 21 to 49 years old is worth 10 points, for instance. A bachelor's degree is worth 20, a master's 25, with up to 21 points for certain work experience and 24 points for being fluent in English and French. At the moment, 67 points are required to qualify for the visa.

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, workers in certain jobs can also qualify for residency permits if they land a job in Canada.

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Ward Churchill

“Borrowed” from Cursor.com

In an interview with the Rocky Mountain News, Ward Churchill called a university regents' resolution apologizing to America for his writings "ridiculous," and he told CNN that it is the "media sources that have me calling for the deaths of millions of Americans" who owe an apology. Plus: Jim Baumer on the silence of the left, and Kurt Nimmo asks: 'Is the Attack on Churchill Orchestrated by Neocon Fellow Travelers?'

in his first in-depth interview with a Colorado newspaper since being engulfed in a controversy that led him to resign his chairmanship of the CU Ethnic Studies Department. CU administrators have launched a broad investigation of his expansive published and spoken record to determine whether he should be terminated.

“This was a gut response opinion speech written in about four hours. It's not completely reasoned and thought through,” said Churchill, of his now infamous Sept. 11 treatise.

“If I'd had more time . . . I probably would have included prose to indicate that the way I was using the term (”little Eichmanns“) was in the Hannah Arendt sense,” referring to the scholar who wrote Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, an account of Eichmann's trial.

“He's everyman. There's nothing special about Eichmann,” said Churchill. “He's just a goddamn bureaucrat who probably even believed there was nothing wrong with what he did” in implementing Hitler's Final Solution to exterminate Jews.

“Because, after all, he wasn't pulling a trigger. He was at a safe remove from the actual commission of the crime. And this is what she meant about the banality of evil. None of these people in that building were deliberate themselves, locking (an Iraqi) child in a room and depriving the child of food and starving him or her to death.”

A revised, fleshed-out version of the essay, now titled Some People Push Back, is a runner-up for the Gustavus Myers Award for Outstanding Books Advancing Human Rights, Churchill has pointed out repeatedly in the last week.

Churchill said that other writers, including Chalmers Johnson and Michael Scheuer, also have published books in the past year advancing the idea that terrorist strikes against America should not be considered a complete surprise, given the way many of its policies are perceived across the global stage.


Medical Marijuana Gets Backing

Surprisingly sympathetic discussion of medical marijuana in today's WSJ. Perhaps the author has MS in her family? I don't get why an herb, grown by G-d, has such a social stigma, in the U.S. anyway. I don't even like to smoke, but people who do shouldn't be harassed by the government. Sadly, only when THC is sold by the big Pharma companies, like Bayer AG and Pfizer, et al, will it become legal.

WSJ.com -Medical Marijuana Gets Backing
As some popular painkillers come under fire for causing dangerous side effects, an often-shunned alternative is gaining legitimacy in pain relief: cannabis.

Medical marijuana has been winning legal endorsement through the efforts of a British pharmaceutical firm. GW Pharmaceuticals of Salisbury, England, has spent years developing and promoting a cannabis-based mouth spray that the company claims eases severe pain and muscle stiffness without causing a psychotropic high. Winning the backing of health authorities has been an uphill battle, but Canadian officials recently gave it preliminary approval for treatment of neuropathic pain in multiple sclerosis sufferers. Studies concluded not long ago also showed the product effective at treating severe cancer pain.
more excerpts

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More Merck news:

WSJ.com - Merck Documents Shed Light on Vioxx Legal Battles:

When Merck & Co. pulled its painkiller Vioxx from the market in September, it said it was acting because a clinical trial had shown that users were at increased risk of heart attacks or strokes after 18 months.

That conclusion, and how it was reached, are the central issues for Merck in defending itself against a wave of lawsuits -- 575 as of the company's latest count, representing about 1,400 Vioxx users -- accusing the company of negligence. The suits could start being heard in courtrooms as soon as May. Previously undisclosed company records, which were reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, are casting light on the coming legal battles.

The records, which plaintiffs' attorneys have, show that the external committee charged with monitoring the drug's safety in the clinical trial had early data suggesting that users could be at increased risk of certain heart problems after as little as four months. Notes from committee meetings show that members were watching the “concerning nature of the trends” about Vioxx's possible effects on heart attacks and strokes from their first meeting. The records also show that the committee of five included one Merck employee and two doctors who had done consulting work for the company. One of the consultants was the lead author on a paper written with Merck scientists that defended Vioxx's safety and criticized a study raising safety concerns about the drug. All those issues are expected to be probed by plaintiffs' attorneys.

The records also show that the committee kept the trial going despite its concerns because it hoped to find whether Vioxx might prove effective in reducing colon polyps, a potential precursor to cancer. The records indicate that members did see some evidence of beneficial effects, while keeping an eye on numbers suggesting a possible increased risk of heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular problems among the Vioxx users in the trial, compared with those taking a placebo (see related article).

It was when those numbers met the test of statistical significance that the trial was halted, prompting Merck to yank the drug. Merck said that during the trial, 45 of the 1,287 patients who took Vioxx experienced heart attacks or strokes, compared with 25 patients out of 1,299 taking placebos.

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Three out of Five Doctors agree

Big daddy sez, brush your teeth too. We'll be watching!

Company's Smoking Ban Means Off-Hours, Too:
A Michigan company began testing its 200 employees for smoking in January. In the future, they will be subject to random testing. If they fail, they will be fired.
... Under a new policy that legal specialists say is the first of its kind, Weyco began testing its 200 employees for smoking in January. And the company put workers on alert: In the future, they will be subject to random testing. If they fail, they will be fired

No really, I see how this is going. Soon, either a revolt against 'piss tests', or adding the scope of the tests. Why not test for trans-fatty acids? Caffeine? Amount of television consumption?

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Medinah Temple

| 1 Comment

Commercial Temple

formerly Medinah Temple (not sure of which religion, I was invited to wedding held there, but didn't go), now converted into a modern temple: ie, is a department store (Bloomingdales)

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Ethiopia Celebrates Bob Marley

Happy Birthday, Bob.

Ethiopia Celebrates Bob Marley:

Reggae lovers celebrated the 60th anniversary of his birth on Sunday with a daylong concert in Addis Ababa that caused mixed reactions with the local community.

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Ward Churchill

For the record, Ward Churchill (co)wrote a great book about the COINTELPRO, the FBI program which has certain parallels to the current vast right wing conspiracy (planted stories in sympathetic outlets, stories which are later found to be false). Worth a read. There's also a second book which reprints various source materials.

“Cointelpro Papers: Documents from the Fbi's Secret Wars Against Domestic Dissent” (Ward Churchill, Jim Vander Wall)

“Agents of Repression: The Fbi's Secret Wars Against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement” (Ward Churchill, James Vanderwall)

Strongly recommended books. I wrote a senior thesis at UT using some of this material (LBJ and the Rise of the Surveillance State), but never did the subject justice, due to other issues in my personal life at the time.

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CTA service cuts

We find out the truth about why the CTA is going to have to cut service: sweetheart deals that don't make financial sense. Like cell phone towers for subways (which is not even half of the existing train stations - most are actually above ground, and don't need special cell phone towers)
And is it really that important to be able to make phone calls at every second of every day?
CTA building

The Tribune's ever essential Jon Hilkevitch writes:

“What's more important?” reader Todd Ganz said. “Cell phone service underground in the CTA subways, or no train service at all?”

“I must say that I, too, am amused with the Chicago Transit Authority and its budget woes,” said Ganz, of the Lakeview neighborhood. “Didn't the CTA spend $11.2 million last year on a system so that you could chat on your cell phones when the trains went underground? When you're talking about an $82 million deficit, wouldn't you cut something like that?!?”

Many reasonable people would, along with slashing the CTA travel budget for employees--just for starters. But then the transit funding crisis that CTA president Frank Kruesi has been hollering about would shrink.

The CTA board approved the $11.2 million construction contract in March 2003 to wire the Red and Blue Line subways for cell phone service.

Riders may recall being inconvenienced by the string of temporary subway station closings on weekends for more than a year while cable was installed to carry cell phone signals above ground. Was it worth it?

Now, almost two years later, it's still anybody's guess how soon riders in tunnels will be able to shout into their cell phones above the squeal of train wheels.

But what the heck! CTA service may be severely reduced July 1 because of the growing CTA deficit, so there might not be much opportunity anyway for riders to talk on cell phones in the subway, on elevated trains or on buses.

The CTA is still installing the cell phone infrastructure in the subways, according to transit agency spokeswoman Noelle Gaffney.

The next step is seeking proposals from wireless service providers to see if they want to offer cellular service in CTA subways to their customers.

When will the service begin? The CTA doesn't know.

“The timing will depend on what providers respond and how long it takes to work out agreements with each of them,” Gaffney said.

Instead of the CTA incurring the $11.2 million in installation costs, the transit agency had explored the option of asking wireless companies to do the work as part of contracts to provide cell phone service.

The CTA failed to attract any bidders, however, which should have been a warning sign. But the agency's board voted to hire a Libertyville firm to install the cell phone cable, which sits unused.

It's sort of like throwing money down a dark hole, isn't it? Do you remember Kruesi saying, repeatedly, that it would be irresponsible for the agency to convert CTA capital funds to the 2005 operating budget to keep transit service going, because essential CTA infrastructure projects would be delayed?

Here's an $11.2 million project that is already late. Kruesi predicted in 2003 that subway riders would be gabbing on their cell phones by the end of 2004. And CTA officials defend the investment. They say part of the work involves increasing the coverage of CTA emergency radios, even though the communications system between the CTA and police and fire personnel already works in the subway tunnel.

Meanwhile, CTA service cuts that were set for January have been delayed until July, when even deeper service cuts will be needed to balance the books unless the General Assembly increases CTA funding.

The CTA, unfortunately, is taking after another troubled agency, the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA for years bit off more wiz-bang, high-tech projects than it could handle successfully, while not paying enough attention to the basics that affected airline passenger service. The result was failed projects, billions of dollars wasted and air-traffic services that didn't meet demand. Today, the FAA is more focused on attaining just a few major goals each year, and the outcome has improved.

It's a lesson the CTA has not yet learned, raising questions why the agency should be given more money to burn through.

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Anish Kapoor and copyright wrongs

JesusH! What a crock! Maybe this is why Flickr bumped my account into purgatory? Kidding, sorta.
Is copyright law going crazy? Can we agree that copyright law is sucking the lifeblood of American free speech and art?

Boing Boing: Chicago's public sculpture can't be photographed by the public:
Chicago's public sculpture can't be photographed by the public
Chicago spent $270 million on its Millennium Park, placing a big public sculpture by Anish Kapoor in the middle of it, bought with public money. Woe betide any member of the public who tries to photograph this sculpture, though: it's a copyrighted sculpture and Chicago is spending even more money policing Chicagoans who try to photograph it and make a record of what their tax-dollars bought.

Read much more here, including a scan of the reader article.

Shiny objects
So in other words, this picture I took, before the park officially opened, is probably contraband. Yikes.

Update: Theoretically, the restrictions only apply if one is a 'commercial' photographer. I'm not sure exactly how this is defined or enforced, but something to bear in mind.

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Am of two minds re this. U.S. agribusiness receives the bulk of these subsidies (ADM and their brethren in crime), and there is no reason that taxpayers should fund corporate profits. However, some of the subsidies trickle to the small farmers who are on the verge of losing their farms (to the agribusiness consortiums). The Great Depression still lingers in their minds.

So, I don't know if Bush will actually push these cuts through, against the wishes of the so-called Red States, but we'll see. Could be a wedge issue, could be just Bush-speak, aka “Let's Go to Mars, bitches” from the last State of the Union....

Bush Is Said to Seek Sharp Cuts in Subsidy Payments to Farmers:
The proposal, aimed at reducing the deficit, puts the president at odds with some of his most ardent supporters in the rural South.

Technorati Tags:

Greek joke

I did a 'noser' when I read this opening paragraph, drinking my morning espresso. When did the display of the human body, even in abstract, become a crime against the state?

The New York Times > Arts > Frank Rich: The Year of Living Indecently:

LET us be grateful that Janet Jackson did not bare both breasts.

On the first anniversary of the Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction that shook the world, it's clear that just one was big enough to wreak havoc

The ensuing Washington indecency crusade has unleashed a wave of self-censorship on American television unrivaled since the McCarthy era, with everyone from the dying D-Day heroes in “Saving Private Ryan” to cuddly animated animals on daytime television getting the ax. Even NBC's presentation of the Olympics last summer, in which actors donned body suits to simulate “nude” ancient Greek statues, is currently under federal investigation.

This repressive cultural environment was officially ratified on Nov. 2, when Ms. Jackson's breast pulled off its greatest coup of all: the re-election of President Bush. Or so it was decreed by the media horde that retroactively declared “moral values” the campaign's decisive issue and the Super Bowl the blue states' Waterloo. The political bosses of “family” organizations, well aware that TV's collective wisdom becomes reality whether true or not, have been emboldened ever since. They are spending their political capital like drunken sailors, redoubling their demands that the Bush administration marginalize gay people, stamp out sex education and turn pop culture into a continuous loop of “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.”

yeesh. Burqas for all!


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Peter Vescey writes:

Attention Flip Saunders: Please leave the industry. The Timberwolves' 29-point home disgrace to the Suns (a shallow team finishing a six-game trip) and previous dreadful defeat to the Bucks has got to be the finishing touches on the cement shoes of Saunders.

I've got some free counsel for Kevin McHale: Hire a total stranger.

The 24-22 Crying Wolves are not only nine games worse than last year's pace, but also on the outside of this season's playoff picnic. In a last-ditch effort to regain the players' respect, Saunders has promised no-show jobs to everyone in Latrell Sprewell's family


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Friday's photos


Friday (and today for that matter) was very 'spring-like', with temperatures reaching 50 degrees. So, after a lunch at a place we stumbled onto (Simply Soups), we walked around Oz Park, and watched the snow melt for a while. Err, something like that.

click for larger versions, natch
the Cowardly Lion at Oz Park, Chicago
Cowardly Lion statue at Oz Park, Chicago.

Mural at Damen and Lake - 50 50 poems
Wall mural at the corner of Damen and Lake. I call it 50 50 poems poems poems because I don't know its real title. The socioeconomic status of this neighborhood is significantly less than it is perhaps 5 blocks away. You can tell by the vacant lots, prevalence of liquor stores, etc. However, there is something ineffably cool about this mural. I wish I knew more about the artist and subject. There should be a website, searchable by address, where you could look stuff up like that.

Update 2/17/05:In a follow up to this photo Sam Spratlin (also here and here) was kind enough to write:

i was on your blog whilst doing some random searching and i saw your post about the mural off damen and lake... it was painted by a guy named jeff zimmerman... he has done a number of other ones in various chicago neighborhoods... the subject matter of each is location-specific... he takes pics of residents and puts them in the work... he also paints a lot of paintings of ice cream trucks... keep an eye out, i'm sure he will have another gallery show sometime in the future.

A little google search led to Jeff Zimmerman's page

Thanks, Sam!

The proper name is Top of the World.

Rainbo Club, famous Chicago speak-easythe infamous/famous Rainbo Club, in Wicker Park. Nelson Algren's hangout (if I'm not mistaken, Man with the Golden Arm mentions it), etc. Also where I had my Liz Phair “incident”.


Just for reference.

kvetch: Dictionary.com Word of the Day:
kvetch: to complain habitually.


More on the EPA for hire scandal, which is brewing in my mind at least.

E.P.A. Accused of a Predetermined Finding on Mercury:

The inspector general's report said the technological and scientific analysis by the agency was “compromised” to keep cleanup costs down for the utility industry.

The Environmental Protection Agency's inspector general charged on Thursday that the agency's senior management instructed staff members to arrive at a predetermined conclusion favoring industry when they prepared a proposed rule last year to reduce the amount of mercury emitted from coal-fired power plants.

Mercury, which can damage the neurological development of fetuses and young children, has been found in increasingly high concentrations in fish in rivers and streams in the United States.

The inspector general's report, citing anonymous agency staff members and internal e-mail messages, said the technological and scientific analysis by the agency was “compromised” to keep cleanup costs down for the utility industry.

The goal of senior management, the report said, was to allow the agency to say that the utility industry could do just as good a job through complying with the Bush administration's “Clear Skies” legislation as it could by installing costly equipment that a stringent mercury-control rule would require.
Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts,... issued a statement saying that Ms. Tinsley's report revealed “one of the most disturbing examples I've seen of an administration allowing spin and junk science to endanger the health of our children.” And Bill Becker, the executive director of a coalition of state and local air pollution control officials, said: “The I.G.'s findings are troubling, but not unexpected. Nearly every state in the country has issued fish consumption advisories due to mercury-poisoned waters. E.P.A. must comply with the law and require stringent cleanup measures at utilities.”

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Kinky Friedman

Looks like what I wrote back in December 2003 is finally coming true, yes Kinky Friedman is running for Gov.

And, I still use this coffee cup
though Joe Murphy, aka my Grandpa Joe, the lion of Guam, got the other one. I don't know if he gets kinky every morning though, and I won't even speculate.....
Murphy Royaltyphoto courtesy Honoria

More Kinky for Gov news

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Take this Crown and shove it

I didn't read this Tribune article very closely, so it is possible that somewhere somebody was quoted as saying that beauty pageants are bogus altogether, but I doubt it. It isn't how this story is structured.

Let's consider beauty pageants for one second: what exactly is the point of parading 14 year old girls in swimsuits in front of lecherous judges/audiences in every freakin' town in the country? How does this help the girl, petty cash prize (usually less than 1,000 dollars) notwithstanding. I say ban all beauty pageants, unless there is some serious 'camp' going on - like in the great movie, Paris is Burning. I am glad that nobody is bothering to sign up for these anachronisms - girls (and their parents) are getting smarter.

Take this crown After months of getting the silver crown, satin sash and all the other fancy details perfect for the 2005 Miss Crystal Lake beauty pageant, organizers are missing only one accessory: contestants.

With one girl registered and the April 2 contest looming, pageant officials have stopped short of begging and postponed the registration deadline until somebody--anybody--signs up.

“It's very frustrating because I have a photographer lined up, a makeup artist, a [disc jockey], a hall,” said Michelle Torgerson, pageant organizer. “We have all this stuff ready to go--and no girls.”

This is the predicament small-town beauty pageants across Chicago's suburbs are facing: A crown is waiting but no one wants it. It's especially troublesome in pageant-rich McHenry County, where local girls are required to win their town titles before advancing to the county title.

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Another day, another buried story. This time, criticism of the EPA (novel, huh?) for abdicating on their responsibility to protect citizens, instead choosing to protect industry. Thanks Red Staters!

The Bush administration overlooked health effects and sided with the electric industry in developing rules for cutting toxic mercury pollution, the Environmental Protection Agency's inspector general said Thursday.

The agency fell short of its own requirements and presidential orders by “not fully analyzing the cost-benefit of regulatory alternatives and not fully assessing the rule's impact on children's health,” the agency's internal watchdog said in a 54-page report.

Nikki Tinsley's report said the EPA based its mercury pollution limits on an analysis by Western Energy Supply and Transmission Associates, a group representing 17 coal-fired utilities in eight Western states.

Tinsley said agency workers were instructed by “EPA senior management” to develop a standard compared with other regulations and a White House legislative plan, “instead of basing the standard on an unbiased determination” of the limits.


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Squared circle finder

I love shite like this

Squared circle finder:

Squared Circle

This nifty page lets you click on a color and it returns all the photos from Flickr's squared circle group that match the color. Link

Update - there is a poster-in-progress, built out of circles contributed by Flickr folks. I added three from pictures I knew I had, but there were probably be a few more by the time it gets printed.

link via [Boing Boing]

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No To Gonzalez


but then I forgot what country it is we live in....

The Democrats voting Yes on Gonzales were:

(1) Senator Ken Salazar (Colorado).

(2) Senator Joseph Lieberman (Conn.).

(3) Senator Ben Nelson (Neb.).

(4) Senator Mary Landrieu (La.)

(5) Senator Pryor (Ark).

(6) Senator Bill Nelson (Fla.)

weasels all



D & I ate a late lunch at Gioco yesterday, on 1312 S. Wabash, Chicago. Delicious beet carpaccio, drizzled with white truffle sauce. My pasta was average, D had to send hers back because it was drenched in black pepper. The second plate of pasta had a large pubic hair sauteed with the shrimp. Needless to say, we quite lost our appetites (though I had mostly finished my meal). Luckily, she didn't actually eat the tainted shrimp, though it was on her fork on the way to her mouth when I noticed the offending foreign article.

Having just read of vindictive waitstaff (and cooks: I remember quite well the constant stress between kitchen staff and waitstaff from my years at Magnolia Cafe South, not much me personally, as I got along with most everybody, but some employees constantly got under each others skin), I wonder if someone was cranky about remaking food right as they were closing.

The Waiter You Stiffed Has Not Forgotten:

What evil lurks in the hearts of waiters? Now you can find out. But can you stomach the results?

At least they comp'ed D's meal. But, they should have comp'ed our entire meal. Never going there again.....

too bad, I liked the atmosphere

A turn of the century, Italian restaurant in Chicago’s new South Loop area, Gioco is a part of the Marchè and Red Light family. Jerry Kleiner, owner and designer of Gioco refurbished the former mob-front and speakeasy space to its original state with dramatic ceilings, adorned mahogany accented walls, exposed brick, back-lit wine bottles, antique chairs, and an exhibition kitchen.

comments closed due to spammers.

I'd like to see this.

People's Weekly World Newspaper Online - ‘Day of Reckoning’ chronicles lives of Lucy and Albert Parsons:

Talented young African American playwright Melody Cooper’s historical drama, “Day of Reckoning,” chronicles the lives of famed anarchist and freed slave, Lucy Parsons, and her husband, Albert, a former Confederate soldier. The two-act historical drama features playwright Cooper playing Lucy. Along with Albert, she fought for workers’ rights and the eight-hour workday.

“Day of Reckoning,” which won the Jane Chambers Award and the MultiStages 2003 New Works Playwriting Contest, focuses on the lives of two very different people, whose tragic love story is set against the backdrop of the earliest — and deadliest — days of labor organizing.

Across the U.S., people were calling for an eight-hour workday, proclaiming, “whether you work by the piece or work by the day, decreasing the hours increases your pay.” May 1 was chosen as the date to kick off the official movement for the eight-hour day.

As a result, 350,000 workers across the nation walked off their jobs to participate in a general strike. Forty thousand workers struck in Chicago, creating a whirlwind of radical activity.

On May 3, a strike at Chicago’s McCormick Harvest Works became violent as police fired into a crowd of unarmed strikers. Many were wounded and four were killed. Radicals called a meeting in Haymarket Square to discuss the situation. Police disrupted the peaceful meeting and an unknown figure threw a bomb, killing one officer. One of the worst violations of U.S. civil rights occurred over the next few days, as police swept the town looking for any and all anarchists and radicals. Although he was not even at Haymarket Square that day, Albert was one of the eight men accused of the bombing.


VW media buying

Volkswagen of America today is consolidating its U.S. media-buying responsibilities with Grey Global Group's MediaCom



Gimme coffee, biatch

“Without my morning coffee I’m just like a dried-up piece of roast goat.”
–Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

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Porsche news, briefly

Porsche Cars North America has awarded its approximately $45 million media account to independent Santa Monica, Calif.-based agency Kastner & Partners after a review that began last November...

In addition to the incumbent, Omnicom Group's PHD, Porsche's lead creative shop, Interpublic Group's Carmichael Lynch in Minneapolis, also pitched the media business, sources said.



Moto rising

We've been tempted to eat here, but $250 is a lot of cash for one meal (for one person). We're doing o.k., but not quite that o.k.
Sounds like an interesting guy though.

NYT: When the Sous-Chef Is an Inkjet:

HOMARO CANTU'S maki look a lot like the sushi rolls served at other upscale restaurants: pristine, coin-size disks stuffed with lumps of fresh crab and rice and wrapped in shiny nori. They also taste like sushi, deliciously fishy and seaweedy.

But the sushi made by Mr. Cantu, the 28-year-old executive chef at Moto in Chicago, often contains no fish. It is prepared on a Canon i560 inkjet printer rather than a cutting board. He prints images of maki on pieces of edible paper made of soybeans and cornstarch, using organic, food-based inks of his own concoction. He then flavors the back of the paper, which is ordinarily used to put images onto birthday cakes, with powdered soy and seaweed seasonings.

At least two or three food items made of paper are likely to be included in a meal at Moto, which might include 10 or more tasting courses. Even the menu is edible; diners crunch it up into a bowl of gazpacho, creating Mr. Cantu's version of alphabet soup.

Sometimes he seasons the menus to taste like the main courses. Recently, he used dehydrated squash and sour cream powders to match a soup entree. He also prepares edible photographs flavored to fit a theme: an image of a cow, for example, might taste like filet mignon.

Using organic, food-based inks he concocts, top, Homaro Cantu creates a champagne, caviar and oyster dish, middle, and sushi rolls on flavored, edible paper made of soybeans and cornstarch

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Tom Toles

Tom Toles on the upcoming privatization of science.

Tom Toles on science privitazation

I'd laugh, but it isn't really funny as much as it is scary.


Amazon Unlimited

Unusual move. I wonder what percentage of folks who sign up for this program will get their money's worth?

WSJ.com - Amazon Launches 'Unlimited' Free Shipping, For a Fee:
Amazon.com Inc. introduced a new shipping program offering unlimited two-day shipping for customers willing to pay an annual fee.

The Seattle Internet retailer said on its Web site Wednesday that the program, dubbed “Amazon Prime,” will charge $79 a year for “all-you-can-eat” express shipping. Members of the program get unlimited two-day shipping for free on more than a million items, and can upgrade individual orders to overnight shipping for $3.99 each.

The company normally charges $9.48 for two-day shipping on a book and $16.48 for overnight. Shipping charges on electronics and other items can be higher. Amazon said members will be able to share the benefits of the program with up to four household members.

Amazon will continue to offer free “super saver” shipping on most orders over $25. Those orders are shipped via ground, and can take five to nine days, according to the site.

Amazon, which is slated to report fourth-quarter results after the close of trading Wednesday, said it expects the program to “be expensive” for the company in the short term, but cited its long-term strategy of winning customer loyalty.


Hide Your IPod, Here Comes Bill

Can we spell, “Envy” children? Sad state of affairs when the mighty Microsoft cannot win converts to its DRM platform on the merits, even on its own corporate campus!

Hide Your IPod, Here Comes Bill:
Apple's music player apparently is wildly popular on Microsoft's campus. Thousands of Microsofties own the devices, to the great irritation of management. By Leander Kahney.
... “About 80 percent of Microsoft employees who have a portable music player have an iPod,” said one source, a high-level manager who asked to remain anonymous. “It's pretty staggering.”

The source estimated 80 percent of Microsoft employees have a music player -- that translates to 16,000 iPod users among the 25,000 who work at or near Microsoft's corporate campus. “This irks the management team no end,” said the source.

So popular is the iPod, executives are increasingly sending out memos frowning on its use.
For example, an internal e-mail circular sent to several senior managers in mid-December talked about iPod shipments to Apple's nearby store in Bellingham.

The e-mail said: “FWIW, the gal at the Bellevue Square Apple Store said that they are getting in two shipments of 200 iPods every day to keep up with this week's demand, and are nearly constantly selling out.”

The note prompted a curt reply from Dave Fester, general manager of the Windows Digital Media division, who wrote the group: “I sure hope Microsoft employees are not buying iPods. We have great alternatives. Check out http://experiencemore.”

Fifteen minutes later, the manager responded: “I don't know what I was thinking. I'm sure that Microsoft employees are not buying iPods, or Macs or PlayStations.”

“Apple 1 GB iPod Shuffle MP3 Player M9725LL/A” ()

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Silly Democrats

Why are you alleged opposition party members even bothering to show up for work when it is so freakin' obvious you don't really care? Bleh! If you can't make a stand against a sadist like Alberto Gonzales, when exactly are you planning to raise your voice in opposition? Just resign already, and let someone else take your spot.

Democrats Oppose a Gonzales Filibuster:
Senate Democrats agreed Tuesday that they would not seek to block the confirmation of Alberto R. Gonzales as attorney general through a filibuster.
Despite the acrimony, Mr. Gonzales's confirmation to lead the Justice Department remains all but assured when it comes to a vote, probably on Thursday, with no sign of wavering from Republican supporters. Debate will continue on the Senate floor on Wednesday. Democrats predicted that at least 25 or 30 Democrats, and perhaps as many as 40, would vote against Mr. Gonzales.
Some Democrats say that rather than escalating the fight over Mr. Gonzales's nomination, they want to save their heavy political ammunition for the expected battle over future Supreme Court vacancies.

as if one hissy fit is the limit for one year. Can we (humans of progressive, liberal persuasion) please have a political party we can be proud of? I'm not talking of every Senator of course, but a disgusting majority.


Yes it's silly

Very, very juvenile (see previous posting), but we're number 1! Can I have another Don Julio tequila now?

Internet Registry
(click for larger version)

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School of Rock

School of Rock

Netflixed School of Rock, and was pleasantly surprised. Much funnier movie than I expected. We were laughing enough for tears. Could have been set and circumstance, but Jack Black nailed the role of Mr. S., and the kids were great.

It's a long way to the top if you wanna Rock and Roll

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Lifestyle drugs

Again, profit trumps all in a story relegated to a couple of column inches on page A8. Without actually researching this fact, because I'm a bona-fide Slacker, I am pretty sure that birth control is not covered, nor are condoms.

Medicare's new prescription benefit will cover sexual performance drugs, such as Viagra, in addition to medications for such ailments as high blood pressure and heart disease, program officials confirmed Monday.

The move into what some consider “lifestyle,” rather than life-saving, pharmaceuticals is being criticized by conservatives, who see it as an unnecessary frill for a program that is projected to cost at least $400 billion over its first decade.

Clinical experts said that from a medical perspective, the decision follows the practices of private insurance plans and other government programs.

“There are many drugs that are approved for quality-of-life indications,” said Dr. Ira Sharlip, a urologist and professor at the University of California, San Francisco. Among them are prescription drugs for indigestion or mild pain, he added.


p.s., I bought Slacker recently, and I know about 10 people in it, and have met another 10 or so. Slacker is as good a portrait of my Austin years as any crappy short story or diary I wrote at the time.

“Slacker - Criterion Collection” (Richard Linklater)

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news you might have missed

with apologies to Louis Black

There are a lot of small articles that seem to fall through the cracks, as it were. This is one of them. Pfizer and the FDA knew in 2000 that there were significant risks with Celebrex, yet the potential profits was contained in a press release to shareholders, not the warning. Hmmm.
A previously unpublished study by Pfizer Inc. of its arthritis drug Celebrex that ended in 2000 concluded that users had a potentially significant increase in risk of heart attacks and strokes.

The study of 425 Alzheimer's patients was made public recently on a drug industry Web site. An updated account of the study posted last week acknowledged a statistically significant difference in the number of heart-related problems between users of Celebrex and of the placebo.

The results were highlighted Monday by the consumer group Public Citizen.



Price of freedom

I guess the price of freedom, liberty, yadda yadda has been defined in this transparent attempt to keep information hidden. Glad to know that the Soviet system hasn't died an unnatural death.


The Justice Department says a group that wants to see secret documents about the detention of people jailed after the Sept. 11 attacks first must pay nearly $373,000 to cover the cost of searching for the information.

The advance payment doesn't guarantee anything found will be released.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, federal agencies must provide the public with access to government documents, unless the information falls under certain exemptions. ... People for the American Way Foundation, which sued for the records last year, accused the Justice Department of making the cost exceedingly high to deter its request.

“Unfortunately it's part of a pattern of the Justice Department trying to foreclose access to this kind of information,” Elliot Mincberg, the group's legal director, said Monday.

... The Justice Department, in a letter to Mincberg, said the search of all 93 U.S. attorneys' offices probably would take a year.



Any joke that has Celine Dion as the punch line is worth repeating. Read for yourself


Snow abstraction

I'm not really sure what this image is now, but originally it was a photo of a rooftop covered in wind-swept snow. I liked the patterns - a mixture of randomized events and natural occurences, but the light was poor, yet melancholy. I may use this as a texture to another photo eventually, but until now it will just live in the photoshop 2005 archives.

Snow Abstraction
click for larger version

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Drink a Day May Keep Older Women Sharp

Drink up baby. I'm a firm believer in moderation in life; with the additional axiom that consuming substances like wine, beer and coffee, certain herbal concoctions, etc. that have been part of humankind's diet for centuries is probably a more healthy choice 12 times out of 13. Same with food: I'll take a romaine lettuce & feta cheese salad over a microwaved burrito any day of any week. Yadda yadda. Pour me a drink, will ya?

Drink a Day May Keep Older Women Sharp:

Not only red wine but also white wine, beer and hard liquor appear to protect against mental decline in older women, two new studies have found.

Women who consumed about a drink a day (up to 15 grams of alcohol, or about half an ounce), the researchers found, had significantly better test results - so much so that in their mental performance, they scored about a year and a half younger than the nondrinkers and those who drank 15 to 30 grams a day.

The study appeared in the Jan. 20 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

A second paper, published in the Feb. 1 issue of The American Journal of Epidemiology, reported similar results in a group of 4,461 women.

The study, by Dr. Mark Espeland and his colleagues at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., used different tests of mental abilities and found that women who had one drink a day scored higher than those who did not drink at all.

The reason that alcohol seems to have this beneficial effect is not entirely clear, but it is probably connected to the significantly lower rates of cardiovascular disease among moderate drinkers, a phenomenon that has been known for some time.



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Music is the wine which inspires one to new generative processes, and I am Bacchus who presses out this glorious wine for mankind and makes them spiritually drunken.“ -- Beethoven


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