September 2005 Archives

Van Morrison's Piss Off You Wankers album

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Van Morrison records one of the first punk albums: every song on here is less than 2 minutes long, and many contain enough vitriol for Johnny Rotten to surf on.

WFMU's Beware of the Blog: Van Morrison's Contractual Obligation Album
...And then there is Van Morrison's Bang Records Sessions.

In order to fulfill his obligation to his early solo label Bang Records,Van Morrison sat down in 1967 or so and cranked out 31 songs on the spot, on topics ranging from ringworm to wanting a danish, to hating his record label and a guy named George. Make sure you get past the first few tunes - it takes him a few to get cooking.

Some very funny titles included here (right click to save the files, duh)

Music here

Oh, and the lyrics are here, worth another giggle.


Jailbird Judy

Froomkin wonders about neo-conner Judith Miller's choice to go to jail too.

Miller's Big Secret
Can it be? That after all that, New York Times reporter Judith Miller sat in jail for 12 weeks to protect the confidentiality of a very senior White House aide -- even though the aide repeatedly made it clear he didn't want protecting?

That somehow Miller was more intent on keeping their conversations secret than the aide was?

So what was Miller doing in jail? Was it all just a misunderstanding? The most charitable explanation for Miller is that she somehow concluded that Libby wanted her to keep quiet, even while he was publicly -- and privately -- saying otherwise. The least charitable explanation is that going to jail was Miller's way of transforming herself from a journalistic outcast (based on her gullible pre-war reporting) into a much-celebrated hero of press freedom.

Note to reporters: There is nothing intrinsically noble about keeping your sources' secrets. Your job, in fact, is to expose them. And if a very senior government official, after telling you something in confidence, then tells you that you don't have to keep it secret anymore, the proper response is “Hooray, now I can tell the world” -- not “Sorry, that's not good enough for me, I need that in triplicate.” And if you're going to go to jail invoking important, time-honored journalistic principles, make sure those principles really apply.

There still seems like there something bubbling below the surface here.

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Things we are not

would be a long list, but especially we have no idea who is. Sitemeter seems to think that our domain is part of propco, but don't believe them. We also do not, and will not live in Niles, IL. Just for the record.

Other things we are not:
sports fans, other than the NBA
fans of GWB and his entourage
believers of Intelligent Design
attenders of religious services (though D keeps dragging me to High Holiday services)
CSS or PHP experts, though we wish we were
afraid of being called a liberal
afraid of checking the 'other' box when answering demographic questions about our ethnicity
afraid to drink shots of tequila on Friday afternoons. Whooo hoo!

I should probably stop there before I write something you don't know. My glass is empty anyway.

Bush free fall

Bush in free fall

Bush Free Fall
(click to activate: control GWB with your mouse)

Somebody updated this timewaster with a timely political message. Popular President no more, Shrub's new name might as well be Free Fall.

How far can he fall?

Link via rujournalism

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Based on some potential upcoming work, I finally gave my numb-wit step child of a computer, an HP Windows XP machine, a desk of its own. I've had the thing a year or two, and it's serviceable, even though it won't print to any ethernet-attached printers. Never used it enough to place it at a comfortable desk, until today. If only there were better mapping software options for OS X!


bigger size here

For contrast, here is my main workspace, with a relatively clean desk
Office desk 9-05
(bigger version here)

Anyway, seems like a perfect segue into the Friday Randomizer Ten, which makes me very, very thirsty for a Shiner Bock for some reason.

Our long national nightmare is over


No, it isn't 2008 yet, but Judy the Jailbird has sung. What I don't yet comprehend is why if Scooter Libby claims he gave Judith Miller a waiver a year ago, and hasn't changed it or his story about the waiver, why did Miller go to jail? Does it have anything to do with a book deal? What else is a subtext here?

The Times reported on its Web site last night that people officially briefed on the case identified him as Lewis Libby, Cheney's chief of staff.

[Judy] Miller's agreement to testify suggests that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is winding up his investigation into whether someone in President George W. Bush's administration revealed the name of Central Intelligence Agency operative Valerie Plame to reporters in July 2003. The probe also has ensnared Karl Rove, Bush's deputy chief of staff and longtime political adviser. He was named by a Time magazine reporter as a confidential source, though not as one who disclosed Plame's identity.

Fitzgerald said in court papers in June that the probe is mostly complete except for an interview of Miller and Time's Matthew Cooper. Cooper testified in July, and the grand jury's term ends in October.

In addition to the probe into who revealed Plame's name, Fitzgerald is investigating whether administration officials made false statements during the course of the investigation.

Miller said that she ``went to jail to preserve the time- honored principle that a journalist must respect a promise not to reveal the identity of a confidential source.''

``It's good to be free,'' she said in her statement.

Miller's lawyers reached agreement with Fitzgerald ``regarding the nature and scope of my testimony, which satisfies my obligation as a reporter to keep faith with my sources,'' she said.

New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller said that initially Miller ``had only a generic waiver'' of her vow not to reveal her source, ``and she believed she had ample reason to doubt it had been freely given. In recent days, several important things have changed that convinced Judy that she was released from her obligation.''

The newspaper said on its Web site that Miller's lawyers had ``intense negotiations'' with Libby's lawyer, Joseph Tate, that were ``sometimes strained.''

Miller and Libby talked by phone this month and Libby released her from the confidentiality promise regarding their 2003 conversation, the paper said. Libby asserted he gave his waiver more than a year ago, the Times said.

-Bloomberg News

Oh, and I copped the headline from the Onion, in spirit at least, and not from Gerald Ford. If you were curious....

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Recent movies

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Another few mini-reviews of DVDs we've watched recently...

There seems to be a common theme, but it wasn't intentional. Japanese samurai culture and the American West have some similarities, especially in movie versions of history. However, the American West, contrary to so many portrayals of it, was really a brutal, and brief period. I'm not sure there was much chivalry or a formalized 'code of conduct', like there apparently was in the samurai era. If I wasn't interested in watching more movies right now, I'd continue this little essay. I'm sure somebody else has previously explored this topic, it is an insanely obvious one.

The Seven Samurai
This was the first Akira Kurosawa movie I ever saw, back in the days when the University of Texas film department was allowed to show classic cinema and was not expected to make a profit. In those days, long past, every night of the week, one had several choices of classic films to choose from, plus various other popular films, at a price of $2.50. Great deal. Saw so many movies then, it is a shame that the University changed their policy. In retrospect, I shouldn't have always gotten high before attending these films - I might remember more of the details.

Anyway, 7 Samurai is a masterpiece that I've seen at least 5 times, if not more. Still holds my interest every time.

Spectacular 'dark' comedy: Kurosawa 's samurai for hire flick. Two corrupt parties/groups are played off each other by a rootless samurai. As always, great cinematography, many shots are composed with great delicacy and beauty. I've netflixed Fist Full of Dollars, which is supposed to be a copy of this movie. In fact, somewhere I read that Fist Full of Dollars couldn't be released in the U.S. for quite some time due to copyright issues.

According to the Yojimbo wiki, or rather the A Fistful of Dollars wiki, Kurosawa successfully sued, so I guess my memory was correct. Not that Yojimbo is all yucks and light-hearted banter. There's plenty of drama here as well, and some sword fighting, in a sort of abstracted manner.

Fist full of Dollars is on my netflix list, btw

Sequel to Yojimbo, in spirit at least. Same lead actor, playing a similar 'lordless' samurai. Some brilliant scene compositions, especially the Camellia flowers in the stream signal.

Bring me the Head of Alfredo Garcia
Yowsa. Not sure what I expected, but this was more. I couldn't stop imagining the smell of Alfredo Garcia's head, and of lead character Warren Oates' unshowered body. Passersby all turned in disgust. Peckinpah does like to fetishize murders - he must have been an interesting dinner companion. Could be seen as a homage to the Bogart movie, Treasure of Sierre Madre, especially since a character says he is Fred C. Dobbs.

The Wild Bunch
I wanted to like this more than I did. Perhaps in historical context, this movie was shocking: the mythology of the American West, as seen through the Hays Code led one to believe that the heroes were always upstanding citizens. In this movie, the outlaws are the protagonists, but then they aren't choir boys either. Not as unique anymore, and in fact seems a little dated in places. Still a good movie, just not the 'great' film I was led to expect via all the praise I've read. The final blood-drenched orgy of gunfire seems a little corny. The 4 Americans against 200 'ferriners' always bugs me.

Technorati Tags:

Hidden Fortress

Hidden Fortress:
A general and a princess must dodge enemy clans while smuggling the royal treasure out of hostile territory with two bumbling, conniving peasants at their sides; it's a spirited adventure that only Akira Kurosawa could create. The Criterion Collection is proud to present this landmark motion picture in a stunning, newly-restored Tohoscope edition.

Hidden Fortress Netflixed this: am on a definite Kurosawa kick. What an eye the man had for mise en scene! Spectacular.

Update 10/4/05 Hidden Fortress is apparently the basis of the original Star Wars movie, per George Lucas.
The influence of The Hidden Fortress can be seen in George Lucas's Star Wars: A New Hope, particularly in the technique of telling of the story from the points of view of the film's lowliest characters. The relationship of R2-D2 and C-3PO is very similar to that of Tahei and Matakichi. Also, the characters of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Princess Leia mirror those of the general Rokurota Makabe and Princess Yukihime. Early in the development of Star Wars, George Lucas even considered Toshiro Mifune for the role of Obi-Wan.

Bug Man zapped

As I'm sure the entire blogosphere (phrase probably invented by skippy) is chattering about but am too lazy/busy to check, OMG! The Bug Man actually was indicted by everybody's new hero, Ronnie Earle.

A Texas grand jury on Wednesday charged Rep. Tom DeLay and two political associates with conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme... “I have notified the speaker that I will temporarily step aside from my position as majority leader,” Representative Tom DeLay said. DeLay attorney Steve Brittain said DeLay was accused of a criminal conspiracy along with two associates, John Colyandro, former executive director of a Texas political action committee formed by DeLay, and Jim Ellis, who heads DeLay's national political committee. GOP congressional officials said the plan was for DeLay to temporarily relinquish his leadership post and Speaker Dennis Hastert will recommend that Rep. David Dreier of California step into those duties. ... “The defendants entered into an agreement with each other or with TRMPAC (Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee) to make a political contribution in violation of the Texas election code,” says the four-page indictment. “The contribution was made directly to the Republican National Committee within 60 days of a general election.”

The indictment against the second-ranking, and most assertive Republican leader came on the final day of the grand jury's term. It followed earlier indictments of a state political action committee founded by DeLay and three of his political associates.

The grand jury action is expected to have immediate consequences in the House, where DeLay is largely responsible for winning passage of the Republican legislative program. House Republican Party rules require leaders who are indicted to temporarily step aside from their leadership posts.

New York Times

The Statesman ads:

The charge, a state jail felony punishable by up to two years incarceration, stems from his role with his political committee, Texans for a Republican Majority, a now-defunct organization that already had been indicted on charges of illegally using corporate money during the 2002 legislative elections.

Yowsa! couldn't have happened to a meaner target.

Also, sorry for the unimaginative headline: I was in a hurry.

Tom Delay-Squash - borrowed from BartCop, who probably borrowed it from elsewhere....

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Note to self

Next time I drive back from O'Hare, remember to bring a camera. The highway always ends up being too crowded, so I detour through a part of the city that I usually don't venture in to, and there are plenty of interesting signs and store fronts, especially on North Milwaukee. Polish, Mexican, and plenty of 1950's couture and general fashion sense.



Eventually to live in my cluttered sidebar, once I get around to it. And if you think my sidebar is cluttered, you ought to see my desk! Or my office, good god! Or, good meatball? Whatever.

My Holy name given by the Order of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is Ragu de Canneloni.
Take Flying Spaghetti Monster Name Generator today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Name Generator Generator.

More on the one true religion here for instance.

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Brazilian Joke

Donald Rumsfeld is giving the president his daily briefing. He concludes by saying: “Yesterday, 3 Brazilian soldiers were killed.” “OH NO!” the President exclaims. “That's terrible!” His staff sits stunned at this display of emotion, nervously watching as the president sits, head in hands. Finally, the president looks up and asks, “How many is a brazillion?”
from commenter David H at AmericaBlog

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Fred Black is back

in the news, anyway.

Demotion of a Prosecutor Is Investigated - New York Times
The Justice Department's inspector general and the F.B.I. are looking into the demotion of a veteran federal prosecutor whose reassignment nearly three years ago shut down a criminal investigation of the Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, current and former department officials report.

They said investigators had questioned whether the demotion of the prosecutor, Frederick A. Black, in November 2002 was related to his alert to Justice Department officials days earlier that he was investigating Mr. Abramoff. The lobbyist is a major Republican Party fund-raiser and a close friend of several Congressional leaders.Colleagues said the demotion of Mr. Black, the acting United States attorney in Guam, and a subsequent order barring him from pursuing public corruption cases brought an end to his inquiry into Mr. Abramoff's lobbying work for some Guam judges. Colleagues of Mr. Black, who had run the federal prosecutor's office in Guam for 12 years, spoke on condition of anonymity because of Justice Department rules that bar employees from talking to reporters. They said F.B.I. agents questioned several people in Guam and Washington this summer about whether Mr. Abramoff or his friends in the Bush administration had pushed for Mr. Black's removal. Mr. Abramoff's internal e-mail messages show that he boasted to clients about what he described as his close ties to John Ashcroft, then the attorney general, and others at the department.

Abramoff conveniently forgot there even was an investigation....

A spokesman for Mr. Abramoff said he had “no recollection of being investigated in Guam in 2002” but would have cooperated if he had been aware of any inquiry at the time. Mr. Abramoff had a lucrative lobbying practice on Guam and the neighboring Northern Mariana Islands, another American territory; his lobbying clients paid for luxurious trips to the islands for several members of Congress.

But Mr. Black was barred from working on any corruption cases:

The Los Angeles Times and news organizations in Guam have reported on questions about the circumstances of Mr. Black's demotion. The recent inquiries by the F.B.I. and by the Justice Department's inspector general had not been previously reported; nor had Mr. Black's contacts in November 2002 with the department's public integrity section about his investigation of Mr. Abramoff....

The announcement came only days after Mr. Black had notified the department's public integrity division in Washington, by telephone and e-mail communication, that he had opened a criminal investigation into Mr. Abramoff's lobbying activities for the Guam judges, the colleague said. The judges had sought Mr. Abramoff's help in blocking a bill in Congress to restructure the island's courts.
The colleagues said that Mr. Black was also surprised when his newly arrived bosses in Guam blocked him from involvement in public corruption cases in 2003. Justice Department officials said Mr. Black was asked instead to focus on terrorism investigations, which had taken on new emphasis after the Sept. 11 attacks.
“Whatever the motivation in replacing Fred, his demotion meant that the investigation of Abramoff died,” said a former colleague in Guam.

Let us hope that this little 'demotion', mostly unnoticed at the time, is the final piece of information that brings down Abramoff's corrupt practice, and manages to snare some of his partners in corruption.

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Dylan's Legacy

Apparently, Scorsese was more of an assembler than a director on No Direction Home. I still enjoyed what I've seen so far. Dave Van Ronk seems like a good guy to hang out with, and Niam Clancy an excellent barroom companion. And the vitriol hurled up at Bob in England, during his electric sets, is amazing. Why did these people buy tickets if they hated Dylan so much? - Dylan Takes on A Job for Heirs: Promote Legacy With a torrent of new projects focusing on his most-revered period, from 1961 to 1966, the singer is pre-empting the posthumous image-massaging that has confronted many rock estates by dealing with his own legacy now, while the 64-year-old is still very much alive.

...But whether Mr. Dylan is actually pulling back the curtain for fans, or is simply engaging in more of his trademark image manipulation, is unclear. Greil Marcus, whose recently published book, “Like a Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan at the Crossroads,” chronicles the recording of a single song in 1965, thinks Mr. Dylan has always had “a tremendous sense of strategy and guile” -- even when he was cryptic in public pronouncements.

Although “No Direction” boasts a marquee-name director in Mr. Scorsese, nearly all the interviews in the movie -- including those with Mr. Dylan himself -- were filmed by Mr. Dylan's own management company long before Mr. Scorsese became involved in the project. Indeed, Mr. Scorsese (who had previously filmed Mr. Dylan in 1978's “The Last Waltz”) was hired by Dylan's manager, Jeff Rosen, and the film's other producers, and mostly assembled the film out of footage they had already compiled. Mr. Dylan's film-production company owns a roughly one-third stake in the film's copyright.

“We felt Bob's enormous stature as an artist needed an experienced documentarian,” recalled executive producer Nigel Sinclair, who together with Mr. Rosen approached Mr. Scorsese about the job around three years ago.
The movie balances revelations like the ones concerning Mr. Dylan's manipulation of the truth with adulatory comments from people like record producer Bob Johnston, who asserts: “He's got the Holy Spirit about him.” Mr. Sinclair said Mr. Scorsese was given total creative freedom, and could have conducted further interviews with Mr. Dylan if he had wanted to. Through spokesmen, Messrs. Rosen, Dylan and Scorsese declined to comment.

No Direction Home
No Direction Home

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Evolution devolution - Trial Opens on Suit Challenging Teaching of 'Intelligent Design'
Lawyers unveiled two contrasting views of “intelligent design” yesterday on the opening day of a federal district court trial here that will decide whether local schools can introduce the controversial doctrine as a legitimate scientific theory.
While advocates for intelligent design hailed it as a new biological concept of the origin of species, an attorney for 11 parents suing the nearby Dover Area School District told the court that, by requiring students to hear that intelligent design is an alternative to Darwin's evolutionary ideas, school officials had thrust religion into the classroom.
“Intelligent design is really a perfect example of creationism,” said Eric Rothschild, of Pepper, Hamilton, a Philadelphia law firm that is helping to represent the plaintiffs. “Intelligent design is not science in its infancy. It's not science at all.” The Dover board, Mr. Rothschild told Judge John Jones III, has “imposed its particular religious viewpoint on Dover students.”

Certainly we will have more to say about this at a later time.

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What's Flickr

What happened to Flickr? Is it chopped liver now? I guess being bought by Yahoo means that Flickr is now subsumed into the larger Yahoo Photo, is thus no longer a startup company, so doesn't get the press attention anymore. Photobucket is fine if you just want a place to host your photos for your blog, but it doesn't have tags and clusters of interesting photos. Flickr is nearly the same as Photobucket in that you cannot currently purchase prints of your photos, but has a lot of cool tools for exploring other folks' photos, like for instance, the Oversize pool:

Anything which is outrageously big. The starting image should give you an idea. This is a piece of fun. Images of tall or obese people or body parts will be deleted, as will photos that are not of large objects

or a million other similar quirky groups. Folks keep inviting me to join these interesting groups, but I don't have enough photo love to spread around. - Smile, You're on Photobucket A year ago, relatively few people had heard of While the upstart Web site is still far from a household name, it has emerged as the most popular online photo destination in recent months, drawing more visitors than established sites from companies like Eastman Kodak Co. and Yahoo Inc. Inc., started by a photo buff who wanted a better way to share images with his friends, has seen traffic surge tenfold in the past year. In August, it had 12.2 million unique visitors, compared with 9.6 million at Yahoo Photos and 5.9 million at Kodak EasyShare Gallery, according to research firm Nielsen/NetRatings.

The company's meteoric rise offers some insight into the changing world of digital photography. Photobucket1 doesn't sell prints. Instead, it provides so-called “image hosting” by wooing Web users who are less interested in printing copies of photos and more interested in showing them off on their blogs and social-networking Web pages. But like many young Internet companies Photobucket faces stiff competition and is looking for a way to turn its popularity into dollars.
“It's a very neat idea. I'm just trying to figure out what their business model is,” said Gary Pageau, a spokesman for the Photo Marketing Association International, a trade group for film processors and retailers.
Virtual Middleman
Photo sites from Kodak, Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard Co. use a hybrid approach to making money on the Web: Hook users by letting them upload their latest digital photos to the Web and share them for free, then charge around 15 cents for prints. Sites like Yahoo Photos2 and H-P's Snapfish3 say their typical customer is a parent looking for ways to share snapshots from, say, the family trip to Disney World.
Photobucket said it is targeting a younger audience, including teenagers looking to dress up their blogs. Blogging sites like LiveJournal and Xanga don't allow users to upload photos to their blog entries unless they pay up to $4 a month for premium services. Meanwhile, at the popular social-networking site, users are given enough room to store about a dozen photos.

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Guidant pays for results - Guidant Draws Fire For Doctor Survey Payments
As scrutiny of heart-device makers intensifies, one tactic that is coming into question involves companies making payments to doctors who use their products and fill out surveys about them.
To get such payments, doctors must fill out a so-called postmarketing survey about new heart defibrillators and pacemakers. In one such survey, Guidant Corp. of Indianapolis has offered money to doctors to describe potential improvements the manufacturer could make in its heart products, said doctors who are on the company's advisory board.
Eric N. Prystowsky, an Indianapolis heart-rhythm specialist, said the company has been offering $100 per survey for doctors, who can fill out numerous surveys. Dr. Prystowski, who is a member of Guidant's medical advisory board, said that he recently advised “Guidant to drop it.” .. An important question is whether such programs serve a legitimate medical-research purpose, or whether they are primarily marketing tools. A heated debate is taking place among leading cardiologists regarding this question.

Sounds bad, whether or not it's illegal. And the stench of impropriety, coupled with a WSJ front page expose, means the practice will probably end soon. So, doctors, send in your surveys quick!


Music Cartel could take a lesson

The music cartel and the movie cartel have a lot of similarities: roughly the same age, basically sophisticated delivery systems for art that others create, etc. However, there seems to be willingness on the part of the movie industry to find the perfect price point.

Why doesn't the music industry try this tactic? Instead, they want to 'raise' the price of one song at iTunes. Why not sell new CDs (of older artists) for 3 dollars instead? - Studios Boost Efforts to Fight Piracy of Videos
As part of a broad strategy to combat video piracy in two major overseas markets, Warner Bros. Entertainment and NBC Universal are expanding their efforts to sell cheap DVDs in Russia and China.
In November, an initial batch of about 15 Universal movies will be introduced by retailers in China, joining a crop of some 200 Warner Bros. DVDs already on sale there. Since early this year, the Time Warner Inc. unit has been selling legitimate videos in China at prices ranging from $2.65 to $3.38 each, prices intended to compete with illegal DVDs, which sell for as little as $1 on the street. ...

Among the titles expected to be released in the coming months are Universal's “Ray,” “The Interpreter,” and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and Warner Bros.' “Batman Begins,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.”
There could be much more to come. With a large annual movie slate and vast collection of old titles, Warner Bros. has one of the biggest video libraries in Hollywood. Universal, which distributes its own movies and DVDs as well as those of the live-action studio DreamWorks SKG, also has many more resources to tap.

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Tag cloud

Honda breaks with cartel

Realistically, there are plenty of profits to be made on small cars as well, there just has to be the will and creativity to make the cars that consumers want. - How U.S. Shifted Gears to Find Small Cars Can Be Safe, Too

For decades, whenever the federal government leaned on auto makers to improve fuel efficiency, the industry had a ready response: Research showed that lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicles weren't as safe as their heavier, gas-guzzling cousins. Even shedding as little as 100 pounds could lead to a serious increase in traffic fatalities.
The result has been a virtual standstill in fuel-economy improvements for cars, trucks and sport-utility vehicles over the past 20 years.
Now a wave of new studies and technologies -- strong, light materials, better airbags and smarter designs -- are beginning to break the logjam. The upshot: A big shift in government thinking that is paving the way for regulators to revamp fuel-economy rules for SUVs and pickup trucks for the first time in three decades.

Over the past 15 years, when gasoline was generally cheap, the industry came to rely on heavy, fuel-thirsty models such as SUVs and pickup trucks for the bulk of its profits. Much of auto makers' fixed costs, such as retiree expenses, labor and benefits, are similar from vehicle to vehicle. So the bigger and pricier the car or truck, the more profit it generates. To protect this profit stream, the industry has long fought calls for tougher fuel-economy rules, citing safety, consumers' preference for bigger cars and lost jobs at truck factories.
Spurring the change in government thinking is new research, including a study that argued that the quality of a car can play as much of a role in safety as its weight. To measure quality, the study used resale values, which tend to correlate with better design and more safety features. Honda Motor Co. also broke from the industry, commissioning studies that found reducing a vehicle's weight while maintaining its size actually saves lives.

“There's now a credible opposing view to what used to be the only view,” says David L. Greene, a research fellow at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a Department of Energy research lab. A paper he co-authored in March, looking at car-crash fatality rates from 1966 to 2002, found no statistically significant relationship between fuel economy and increased traffic fatalities. Mr. Greene says that previous research that did find a correlation studied only the immediate years after fuel-economy reform when weight drops were most significant. But studied over a longer period, that correlation disappears, he says.

Honda, which mostly produces smaller and lighter vehicles, was tired of the argument that undercut its lineup. So in 2002 the Japanese auto maker, which traditionally stood on the sidelines while the rest of the industry waged political fights on Capitol Hill, began to spread the notion that small, fuel-efficient cars can be safe. Its case in point: the 2001 Civic Coupe. When the car was redesigned in the late 1990s, engineers built a shorter engine and moved up the gear box to create more space for the front end to crumple and absorb a collision's impact, among other measures.

The two-door Civic became one of the first cars to get the government's top five-star rating in four different crash-test scores in late 2000. The only other car at the time with the same rating was Volvo's S80, which weighed 1,000 pounds more than the Civic's 2,500 pounds and cost up to three times as much as the Civic's starting $13,500 price.

Honda also hired Dynamic Research Inc., an auto and aerospace consulting firm in Torrance, Calif., to update Mr. Kahane's study using newer vehicles. In 2002, DRI concluded a 100-pound drop in an average newer vehicle had a “very small and not statistically significant” effect on the number of traffic deaths. (A 100-pound drop in weight improves fuel efficiency on average by 1% to 2%.)

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Propaganda tour

Chicago Tribune Karen Hughes kicks off new job with tour of Egypt

Karen Hughes, the new public diplomacy czar charged with improving the U.S. image, began her maiden diplomatic voyage Sunday, meeting in picturesque settings with Egyptian students who have benefited from American largess. Hughes said she would steer clear of meeting with representatives of Egypt's largest opposition group, and a lunch scheduled for Monday with “opinion leaders” includes mostly people supportive of the government that has ruled the country under emergency decree for a quarter-century.

Outside her carefully vetted settings, interviews with ordinary Egyptians indicated deep anger at the policies of the Bush administration.

While undersecretaries generally travel with a handful of aides, Hughes is bringing along a planeful of reporters, including representatives of all five U.S. networks, a correspondent from Al-Arabiya television and a writer from GQ magazine.

Farouq Hickel, a mini-van driver who was walking past the Bab Zuweila, a 900-year-old Islamic monument restored with U.S. funds that Hughes toured. “We have no problems with Americans. But look at what Bush is doing--he is messing up the world.” He said Hurricane Katrina was clearly God's revenge for President Bush's actions.

I'm curious as to what the target audience for this propaganda tour is supposed to be? If it is the countries she is visiting, why are the audiences vetted so that only supporters are allowed in? If it is domestic, I don't forsee much attention being paid to Karen Hughes' “Most Excellent Adventure

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H. L. Mencken
“A poet more than thirty years old is simply an overgrown child.”

Ha, why don't you fuck off, Trey Buck, and stop bothering me about your inanely titled book of 'self-published' poems. Self-published means that no publisher considers your 'collection' worth printing.

i am about to self publish a book of poetry, Oracle Porch. I am happy with it. I doubt that I will write any more poetry. Prose still attracts me.

Hope you are doing well.

Traffic blues

below the fold (bandwidth is a precious commodity)

Worst Dry-drunk ever


All this talk of drinking is making me thirsty, and as Dena Kapsalis used to say, in her best faux Irish voice, “I've got a mighty thirst”, making sure to trill the 'r'. Damn this has been a long week, and looks like tomorrow (Saturday) will be just another work-day. Oh well. At least I have plenty of booze in the house.

Would it be irresponsible to speculate about Bush’s relapse into alcoholism? But here’s the thing. Let’s say he is drinking. Let’s say he is. Bush is a self-diagnosed alcoholic. Bush is a self-diagnosed alcoholic who woke up one day and cured himself (assist: Jesus). That is the story, yes? I’m not missing anything? Now, I don’t doubt that there is a legitimate medical diagnosis of alcoholism, and I’m not trying to make light of it in any way, but the lay definition of “alcoholic” is pretty close to the Dylan Thomas definition: “anyone who drinks more than me.”

Lots of people drink, but they aren’t alcoholics. Lots of people drink unnecessary amounts of alcohol and act like complete dickheads sometimes, but aren’t alcoholics. You may know people like that, you may be a person like that, indeed, you may even be reading the weblog of a person like that right now. The thing is, what is an “appropriate” amount of alcohol consumption is pretty situation-dependant, and certain situations - New Year’s Eve parties, blind dates, and, most notably, college - have a pretty loose definition of “appropriate”. People drink insane amounts in college, then leave college, enter the real world, realize that what was once appropriate or even expected alcohol consumption is no longer appropriate, and adjust accordingly, no problem. And they may look back on those days and say “ho-ho, I was a real alcoholic back then”, and by the broad popular definition, I suppose they were. But, in the stricter sense, they weren’t. It’s just that “alcoholic” sounds a bit better than “fucking dumbass”.

Now, if you look at George W.’s drinking days, they were a lot like college, only more so. He got jobs handed to him, and was expected to do nothing but have the last name “Bush”. If there were any bumps in the road, his dad was enough of a hot shit to smooth them out. And, because of this, people would probably kiss your ass no matter how much of drunken, immature fucking dumbass you were. In this situation, you might not see any real need to drink anything less than the maximum amount you could get your fat little mitts on. Because drinking is fun.

Now, let’s fast-forward to the age of forty, and suppose that, in your new social situation, and with pressures to start using your family’s name to start a political career, the Animal House-style boozing you had been able to get away with was no longer really appropriate. At this juncture, as I see it, you would have two options for explaining your past:

1. Say that you acted like every week was pledge week because you were rich, popular, and powerful, and drunken immaturity is just way more fun than boring bourgeois propriety, you middle-class chumps.

2. Say that you acted like every week was pledge week for medical reasons entirely beyond your control, which you diagnosed yourself without needing any fancy city book-learnin’, which you heroically overcame be sheer force of will, and with a little help from your heavenly homie J-dogg.

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MoDo on Stormy

Can we have a real president yet? Is it really going to be 39 more months before this 'Andover cheerleader' who likes to play dress-up goes on permanent vacation? It's bad enough that GWB has returned to drinking, but what about the rest of us? I don't know if my liver can handle another 3 years of ineptness.

Maureen Dowd: Stormy Spins in a Vortex - New York Times

Stormy is like his dad, Desert Stormy. They both love wardrobe calls: cool costumes, sports outfits, presidential windbreakers, “Top Gun” get-ups, weather gear.

But leadership is not a series of costume changes. The former Andover cheerleader has been too reliant on photo-ops, drop-bys and “Mission Accomplished” strut-bys, rather than a font of personal knowledge.

What Katrina exposed was a president who - remarkable as this may sound - seemed bored after his re-election...

Before the Katrina scandal, W. had lethargically wandered the country, lifelessly promoting his Social Security plan and an energy bill that did nothing to solve the energy crisis, and endlessly vacationing in Crawford.

He campaigned as a strong daddy who would keep us safe, but then seemed lost when his daddy figure, Dick Cheney, kept vacationing as Katrina exposed a grotesque rescue apartheid in New Orleans.

....On Wednesday, Stormy tried to make one of his strained linkages, this time with Katrina and terror. The terrorists, he said, were “the kind of people who look at Katrina and wish they had caused it,” while he is the kind of person who looks at Katrina and tries to energize himself to deal with natural disasters by thinking, What if this had been done by terrorists?

On Thursday, he tried to move past the image he had projected of a lost boy wandering alone in the storm, and stood at the Pentagon flanked by his war council, talking about how he was moving to “develop a secure, safe democracy in Iraq.” Unfortunately, the Saudi foreign minister was in town dropping a bomblet by saying that Iraq was going down the tubes, a judgment other Sunni Arab leaders had been conveying privately.

After his Pentagon remarks, W. looked at his vice president for approval and received a proud, avuncular smile that said, “You're the Man.”

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Torture talk

| 1 Comment

Torture is not an American value. How can beating a helpless man with a baseball bat ever be amusing? I hope these soldiers end up in the stockade. I don't think too many soldiers ever act on their own without tacit approval, at the least, from their superior officers. The stench goes all the way to the White House.

3 in 82nd Airborne Say Beating Iraqi Prisoners Was Routine
The soldiers told a human rights group that prisoners had been beaten and abused to help gather intelligence and for amusement.

The details turn my stomach. God forbid the tables are ever turned, but if it happened, who could blame Iraqis for torturing Americans? Aren't we all members of the human race?

In separate statements to the human rights organization, Captain Fishback and two sergeants described systematic abuses of Iraqi prisoners, including beatings, exposure to extremes of hot and cold, stacking in human pyramids and sleep deprivation at Camp Mercury, a forward operating base near Falluja. Falluja was the site of the major uprising against the American-led occupation in April 2004. The report describes the soldiers' positions in the unit, but not their names.

The abuses reportedly took place between September 2003 and April 2004, before and during the investigations into the notorious misconduct at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad. Senior Pentagon officials initially sought to characterize the scandal there as the work of a rogue group of military police soldiers on the prison's night shift. Since then, the Army has opened more than 400 inquiries into detainee abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan, and punished 230 enlisted soldiers and officers.

In the newest case, the human rights organization interviewed three soldiers: one sergeant who said he was a guard and acknowledged abusing some prisoners at the direction of military intelligence personnel; another sergeant who was an infantry squad leader who said he had witnessed some detainees' being beaten; and the captain who said he had seen several interrogations and received regular reports from noncommissioned officers on the ill treatment of detainees.

In one incident, the Human Rights Watch report states, an off-duty cook broke a detainee's leg with a metal baseball bat. Detainees were also stacked, fully clothed, in human pyramids and forced to hold five-gallon water jugs with arms outstretched or do jumping jacks until they passed out, the report says. “We would give them blows to the head, chest, legs and stomach, and pull them down, kick dirt on them,” one sergeant told Human Rights Watch researchers during one of four interviews in July and August. “This happened every day.”

The sergeant continued: “Some days we would just get bored, so we would have everyone sit in a corner and then make them get in a pyramid. This was before Abu Ghraib but just like it. We did it for amusement.”
He said he had acted under orders from military intelligence personnel to soften up detainees, whom the unit called persons under control, or PUC's, to make them more cooperative during formal interviews.

“They wanted intel,” said the sergeant, an infantry fire-team leader who served as a guard when no military police soldiers were available. “As long as no PUC's came up dead, it happened.” He added, “We kept it to broken arms and legs.”

F.D.A. corruption part 96585

We've discussed the Food and Drug Administration's lack of a 'moral center' a few times before, like here,
here and
for instance (probably more if you search in the archives, but that's enough). But the resignation of Les Crawford seems to be for other reasons, like there was a dead gay hooker, addicted to designer drugs, discovered strapped to a gurney in Crawford's office, or something else of a more 'personal' dimension. His politics and (in)competence was never a problem for the White House, as long as the FDA's client, the Big Pharma companies, and their lobbyists, were happy. Apparently they were:

Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies had generally welcomed Dr. Crawford's appointment, partly because of his long experience at the agency, but also because they wanted a full-time commissioner.

The so-called financial impropriety could be just smoke screen for the real reason of his sudden resignation.

Here's the official story: and some 'official' rumors.

Leader of the F.D.A. Steps Down After a Short, Turbulent Tenure

Lester M. Crawford's abrupt resignation is causing further upheaval at an agency that has been in turmoil for over a year.
A government official said the resignation was related to the fact that Dr. Crawford had not fully disclosed information about his finances to the Senate before his confirmation. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, citing Dr. Crawford's privacy.

Christina Pearson, a spokeswoman for Mr. Leavitt, refused to say whether Bush administration officials had asked for the resignation.

“I can't comment,” Ms. Pearson said. “This is a personnel issue.”

In recent weeks, consumer advocates and scientists inside and outside the agency had said scientific decisions were being warped by politics.

On Thursday, a commentary in The New England Journal of Medicine titled “A Sad Day for Science at the F.D.A.” said that “recent actions of the F.D.A. leadership have made a mockery of the process of evaluating scientific evidence,” disillusioned many scientists, “squandered the public trust and tarnished the agency's image.”

...Critics, including members of Congress from both parties, say the agency has not provided the public with enough information about the risks of drugs and devices.
“In recent years the F.D.A. has demonstrated a too-cozy relationship with the pharmaceutical industry and an attitude of shielding rather than disclosing information,” said Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

Senator Barbara A. Mikulski, Democrat of Maryland, said the agency had been “politicized and degraded” under Dr. Crawford, whose leadership she described as “tepid and passive.”

Before the Senate confirmed Dr. Crawford, a Senate committee looked into accusations that he was having an affair with a woman who worked in his office and that he had wasted government money by taking her on official trips when she was not needed. An anonymous letter also suggested that Dr. Crawford had helped the woman secure a promotion to a higher-paying job.

An inquiry by the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services found some contradictions in statements by Dr. Crawford and the woman. Investigators found a close personal relationship between them but no evidence of an extramarital affair.

FRT Jah Seh Astronauts Fade Away edition

Hey, we're back up! Yayyy to my webhost, and thanks to Steve for helping out.

GWBs jaw


Ahh, my kingdom, such that it is, for a sample of GWB's blood/urine for drug testing. His propensity to clench his jaw repeatedly reminds me of someone who has been doing too much speed or coke or similar chemical stimulants. There also rumors of Bush having a relapse to his vodka and grape juice in a sippy cup days, hence all the cuts and bruises on his face. Odd.

Ed Schultz just interviewed an editor with the National Enquirer. The editor said the paper stands by its story [about Bush drinking again ] “150%” and would go to court over it if they had to. He said that they have 2 different sources for the story, and that the sources had been informing the National Enquirer about this story for about the last month or so.

Notably, the editor said that a “highly respected” newspaper has also been working on the story and could well publish something on it in the next week or two.

- Democratic Underground

National Enquirer article here

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I haven't heard of any other major media outlets hosting reader's blogs. Interesting strategy of co-opting the competition (even though, blogs wouldn't be the same if major media sites didn't have web content)

Austin-Statesman Blogs Statesman Blogs is an unprecedented way for you to publish your own thoughts and commentary on news and events around Austin, Central Texas and beyond.

• Your own coverage of local music and entertainment events in and around Austin
• An open diary for friends and family outside of the Austin area to keep up with your life
• A central destination for reporting on news and happenings in your community, neighborhood or street
• A sports journal of your game analysis and predictions as the season unfolds
• Reporting on your experiences with local shopping, dining and recreational activities

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NFT Launch party

Interesting new Chicago guide: Not For Tourists has a launch party this Friday.

guide, map, tourist, neighborhood, poster, book
STOP PRESS!! Here's a pick that all Chicagoans need to know about. NFT is holding a rip-roaring launch party of the NFT Guide to Chicago 2006 at The Darkroom (2210 W. Chicago) on Friday September 30th, from 8-10 pm.To get in, you MUST have an invitation, which can be found and printed here. Includes one free 312 Goose Island Beer, per person, with this invite.

If you choose to give up your marketing information, via a long-winded survey (26 questions) this is the final question

Yes, you may disclose my registration information to third parties to market their products and services to me via email. (Yes, please sell my soul to the devil.)

Their webmaster needs to reign in the links as well.

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Netflixed - Layer Cake

Shipped: Layer Cake Matthew Vaughn directs this intricate drama, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, about a British drug dealer (Daniel Craig) who longs to ditch his illegal trade. But he can't do that without wrapping up just one more job involving a gargantuan stash of purloined ecstasy. The cache's original owners are after him as well, leaving him with no other choice but to run for his life while trying to make this one final deal a big success.

Layer Cake
Layer Cake

Yes, I'm trolling for content, because I'm testing my site's robustness. Still, don't you just want to rent this movie now? Don't you?


Scum of the Earth

and they weren't here first...

Even though B12 Partners has been down more minutes than it has been up in the last 48 hours, we still managed to accumulate over 100 scum-sucking spam comments for poker sites, mostly, among other things. Bleh. Cylons. Toaster-heads.

We are still not impressed with MT 3.2 and its spam destroying powers. When is MT-Blacklist re-emerging?

If you meant to leave me a pithy comment and could not, we apologize. Sooner (we hope), or later (we hope not), everything will be back and as norml as theoretically possible.


Not again!

Update: nothing like over-hyping natural disasters.....

Hurricane Rita intensified into a Category 5 storm with winds of 165 mph. Evacuations are underway in major Gulf Coast cities. Bush pledged to be “ready for the worst.” ...Forecasters said Rita could be the most intense hurricane on record to hit Texas. All of Galveston, Texas, low-lying sections of Houston and Corpus Christi, and a mostly emptied-out New Orleans were under mandatory evacuation orders, one day after Rita sideswiped the Florida Keys as a far weaker storm and caused minor damage....Rita is expected to remain a Category 5 storm until it makes landfall.
Houston Mayor Bill White ordered mandatory evacuations beginning at 6 a.m. tomorrow for certain areas of the city. Mr. White asked employers and schools to halt regular operations tomorrow and Friday, allowing students and employees to evacuate. He also asked residents to help ferry elderly neighbors and others in need of evacuation. “There will not be enough government vehicles in every area … to do the job,” he said - Hurricane Rita Strengthens Into a Category 5 Storm

D's best friend, dog and boyfriend are headed out of Houston (Friday, as of now) to stay with my parents in Austin. Part of me hopes that the evacuations and dire warnings are partly due to the recent Katrina boondoggle, but part of me worries for the folks impacted by the upcoming storm.

Not to mention that we are trying to close our biggest deal yet, and several of the principals are located either in Louisiana or Houston. Yikes. Many phone numbers are already unreachable. Business pales next to human suffering, at least for us, but we are on pins and needles for multiple reasons.

(parenthetical note: site access is still flakey. From my web host:

What is happening now is that we are replacing different pieces of hardware in the server to isolate the problem and it is only a matter of time before we find the exact cause of the problem.

so, in other words, check back in a day or two and see if we're back up)

in-store marketing

To fill a store's giant canvas with advertising messages, ad agencies are now charged with designing everything from in-store TV commercials to special shelf displays and packaging. The work is more elaborate than traditional in-store marketing, typically signs posted at the end of supermarket aisles. For all the excitement, agencies face huge challenges coordinating so many pieces. Some are stumbling over new problems, such as how to measure and charge for these services.

This is definitely a category of growth: in-store marketing. I've read proposals for stickers on apples, coupons inside cartons of eggs, holographic images of sodas, plus all the displays mentioned in this article. As soon as marketers figure out how to project on the inside of our eyelids, they will. Actually, reminder to self: write up a treatment of a sci-fi movie in which this is a plot point....

and web access to B12 Partners continues to be spotty. Hope the hardware issue at my server is fixed soon.



Marshall Fields put to pasture

We suggested this might happen, but are still saddened. Marshall Field's still has more oomph than Macy's. Oh well, all the corporations in the western world will soon be able to be printed on a single 5x7 index card anyway.

The Marshall Field's name, as identified with Chicago as its lakefront and its skyline, is being erased in favor of a Manhattan moniker--Macy's.

This move kills off a 153-year-old brand that survived the Chicago Fire but now succumbs to bottom-line concerns of its new owner, Cincinnati-based Federated Department Stores Inc.
Several retail consultants think Federated is being short-sighted by changing the name.

“Chicagoans and folks in the central United States tend to be more brand loyal,” said Burt Flickinger, managing director for Strategic Resource Group in New York. “While Field's was a broken business, it was not unfixable. Federated has taken a broken business and made it a much more broken business.”

Another retail consultant said Field's could be fashioned into an upscale brand.

“Retailing has been skewed to the low end and the high end. Marshall Field's would be a powerful high-end brand. Why would you bring it down to the mushy middle?” asked Al Ries, author of the “The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding.”

“This is particularly bad,” he said. “I'd rather have a name that no one has heard of with potential rather than a name like Macy's that everyone has heard of but has no potential. People know about it, but it will never be perceived as a high-end brand.”

Chicago Tribune | Field's no more

Here's the photo of Marshall Field ne' Macy.

republished due to server rebuilding....


Sidebar repost

At the moment, I've added a 'random book from my library' link to my sidebar. Not sure if I need more clutter there, but what the heck. Seems fast loading. Link courtesy the Linkmeister.

And yes, I should be asleep at the moment. Blame Tampopo: she wakes up D to feed her, who in turn wakes me up. Vicious cycle.
Pope Mouses



Lining Up to Be Raped

Ah, one of our 'allies' in the war against terror. Which seems to include a side war against women. Is he lined up to get an honorary medal of freedom, Pakistani division? Mr. Musharraf seems to be of the “Relax and enjoy it” school of oppression.

Lining Up to Be Raped? - New York Times

Our close ally President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan visited the U.S. last week and fretted aloud about a surprising problem: The “easiest way” for Pakistani women to make money is to get raped, he said, so they're lining up to be raped and thus making him look bad.
“You must understand the environment in Pakistan,” The Washington Post quoted him as saying. “This has become a moneymaking concern. A lot of people say if you want to go abroad and get a visa for Canada or citizenship and be a millionaire, get yourself raped.”

That comment got Mr. Musharraf in hot water. So over the weekend, Mr. Musharraf denied that he had ever said any such thing - noting that if he had, he would have been “stupid.”

...The Washington Post reviewed its tapes and reported that it had quoted him correctly. It also added an additional quote from the same interview, in which Mr. Musharraf spoke of rape as an avenue to riches: “It is the easiest way of doing it. Every second person now wants to.”

I forgot to add Mr. Kristof to the list of sometimes useful NYT columnists.

parenthetical note: the New York Times finally emailed me today, but with useless login information. I cannot log in using Safari, only Firefox. Bleh. I should get a rebate.

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Jobs vs Labels part 3443

We've discussed this before, and my opinion remains the same: record labels are trying to make up for their own poor business decisions (pursuing one-hit wonders at the expense of cultivating artists who build a following, among other mistakes) by squeezing more profit out of the iTunes store. I think this is a foolish, short-term strategy.

By cutting out manufacturing and marketing costs, record companies already make more profit by selling a song through iTunes than on a CD, Apple's co-founder and CEO said. “So if they want to raise the prices it just means they're getting a little greedy,” he said.
Mr. Jobs indicated that he plans to stand firm. “We're trying to compete with piracy, we're trying to pull people away from piracy and say, 'You can buy these songs legally for a fair price,'” he said. “But if the price goes up a lot, they'll go back to piracy. Then everybody loses.”
Apple has sold about 22 million of its iPod digital-music players and more than 500 million songs through the iTunes store. The service accounts for 82% of all legally downloaded music in the U.S - Steve Jobs Slams Music Companies Seeking iTunes Price Hikes

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Website problems

Having intermittent website outages today. Opened and closed, then re-opened a case number with my host,>. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Update: 9/23/05, seem to back to normal.


Drug Companies cry poor

First off, allowing any industry to police and test itself is a poorly thought out practice. Unfortunately, it isn't a recent change. I blame both Democrats and Republicans for this oversight. Perhaps all those campaign contributions bought leniency, maybe not. Add to the ever-growing file of FDA corruption.

Testing a new drug against a placebo is mostly going to give positive results. The true test would be to compare new drugs against placebos, and against pre-exisiting drugs.

Chicago Tribune | New schizophrenia drugs test no better than the old

For more than a decade, the federal Food and Drug Administration has relied on drug firms to test their own drugs. Typically, a company compares a new drug with a dummy pill to see if the new compound is more effective than an inert substance. Ninety percent of new drug studies are conducted by the pharmaceutical industry. But a growing number of medical experts say the way drug companies test new drugs is inadequate and self-serving. What are needed, they contend, are more studies like the one conducted by the institute that compare new drugs head to head with existing medications for the same disorder. “These kinds of data are most important because they give doctors information that they didn't have before that help them to make the choices about what drug should be used in any given patient,” said Dr. Thomas Insel, director of the institute. The problem with studies conducted by pharmaceutical companies, Insel said, is that they are short-term and involve a relatively small number of the healthiest patients.

And the reason pharmaceutical companies can't do these sorts of test? They are near destitute. Oddly, this isn't what they claim in their quarterly financial reports to analysts.

Alan Goldhammer, associate vice president for regulatory affairs for Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said the National Institutes of Health are in the best position to conduct large studies comparing drugs.

Pharmaceutical companies have limited resources and to undertake this kind of study would mean diverting funds devoted to discovering new drugs, he said.

Right, perhaps a percentage of Big Pharma's profits should be earmarked for proper studies since they are unwilling to conduct the testing themselves?

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Torture is still not an American value

No matter how many times it comes up, torture should never be allowed, in any circumstances. Especially by employees of the state, including police officers. No matter the alleged crimes of the inmates, the police should be held to higher standards.

Chicago Tribune | Ex-jail sergeant details beatings

A former Cook County Jail sergeant who told a private investigator that he ran a “crew” of guards who systematically beat prisoners is set to be asked about those allegations under oath on Tuesday. The sergeant, Liutauras Paul Dargis, was pursuing a possible lawsuit against the Cook County Sheriff's Department when he told an investigator that he and other guards beat inmates, then filed false reports to cover it up.

A recording of the interview was obtained by the Tribune. In the recording, Dargis matter-of-factly discussed for more than an hour how he used beatings to control a section of the jail and to extract information from inmates. He described breaking bones and leaving one prisoner so badly beaten he had “every color of the rainbow all over his body.

Former guards Roger Fairley and Richard Gackowski filed their federal civil rights lawsuit in 2003. It alleges that a pattern of harassment and threats forced Fairley and Gackowski to resign because they refused to cover up a beating at the jail.

The motion seeking to depose Dargis alleges that he was responsible for “scores of officers” who beat “countless inmates” and then “deliberately prepared fabricated reports” to cover them up.

Dargis sounds almost proud of his cruelties:

In the interview, Dargis characterized the beatings as “work” and said most of it was carried out on the basketball court or in the game room.

“We used to bring a brown paper bag [and] put it over the camera right away, so it's blocked,” Dargis said.

On some occasions, the computer system that controlled the cameras would be “rebooted” by a sympathetic officer, giving the guards several minutes to administer a beating, he said.

Some inmates were beaten because they refused to divulge information or be informants, Dargis said. “They'd come in there and I'd talk to them; ask them what I want to know.

”And if they wouldn't tell me, then I'd proceed to physically use pain control . . . techniques . . . pressure-sensitive areas, most of the time, to get the information,“ Dargis said. ”If I didn't get the information, I'd let my dogs hunt. In other words, beat the [expletive] out of the guy.

“And there was nothing ever said,” Dargis said. “I'd just move a finger. And they'd go.”

In one instance, Dargis said he badly beat an inmate who refused to talk. “I tore up his . . . ear . . . his nose. I broke his jaw. I broke four ribs,” he said. “I lost my temper.”
...Dargis said that some of the officers who backed him up when he worked over an inmate occasionally complained. “I usually did all the work myself,” Dargis said. “And they . . . on occasion got upset with me. Like, `Sarge, you never let us have any fun.'” His crew, Dargis said, ranged from five to eight other officers and he estimated that over the years as many as 70 different officers participated.

“If the size of the individual was 6 foot 8, 280 pounds ... then you would have to really, you know, you'd have to hurt him,” Dargis said. “[Y]ou couldn't just do a sweep on him and expect him to go down ...”

And sometimes an inmate said, “Hey, Dargis, you're doing this, but you have five officers to back you up,” Dargis said. “So I'd tell them, `Step out.' And I'd start off. I'd tell an officer, `If I go down, kill him.'”


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Power corrupts

Jack Abramoff, goat to many Guamanians, Tom DeLay, goat to most Americans who believe their public officials should adhere to ethical norms, and David Safavian should all be forced to live in a tent city outside of New Orleans.

Chicago Tribune | Ex-White House official arrested

A senior White House budget official who resigned abruptly last week was arrested Monday on charges of lying to investigators and obstructing a federal inquiry involving Jack Abramoff, the Republican lobbyist who has been under scrutiny by the Justice Department for more than a year. The arrest of David Safavian, who was head of procurement policy at the Office of Management and Budget, was the first to result from the wide-ranging corruption investigation of Abramoff, once among the most powerful and best-paid lobbyists in Washington and a close friend of Tom DeLay, the House majority leader.

According to court papers, Safavian, 38, is accused of lying about assistance he provided to Abramoff in his earlier work at the General Services Administration, where he was chief of staff from 2002 to 2004, and about an expensive golf trip he took with the lobbyist to Scotland in August 2002. Abramoff, a former lobbying partner of Safavian, was indicted last month in Florida on unrelated federal fraud charges. He is not identified by name in the court papers involving Safavian's arrest. But “Lobbyist A,” as he is called in an FBI affidavit, could only be Abramoff based on descriptive details in the documents filed in the federal district court in Washington.

The Justice Department said Safavian is charged with making false statements to investigators about his efforts at the GSA in 2002 to help Abramoff acquire two large pieces of government-owned property in the Washington area, including the historic Old Post Office building on Pennsylvania Avenue. The department said Safavian also lied to ethics officials at the GSA, the agency that manages federal property, when he sought approval to accept free transportation from Abramoff for the golf trip to Scotland that summer. According to court documents, Safavian told the ethics office that Abramoff had no business with the GSA at the time, an assertion that was repeated in a separate interview last May with the FBI.

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Speech bubble sticker gallery

another cool site, stolen from BoingBoing. This guy, Ji Lee, put empty cartoon bubble stickers on “movie posters, ads and signs all over New York City”, then went back and photographed the interesting results. Some funny, funny stuff. What a great idea. There is even a gallery of unfilled bubbles, called Seeds.

Speech bubble sticker gallery

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23 Randomizations

I've always loved this particular math factoid/game/mind-boggler:

Wired News: My IPod for a Random Playlist (sic - iPod is the preferred spelling)
To illustrate his point, [mathematician Jeff] Lait referred to a phenomenon statisticians call the birthday paradox. Roughly stated, it holds that if there are 23 randomly selected people in a room, there is a better than 50-50 chance that at least two of them will have the same birthday. The point: Mathematical randomness often contradicts our intuitive expectations of randomness.

On the larger point, randomization: I'm significantly better now, but when I was younger, I made many decisions after applying some 'randomization' protocols (such as I always carried around several Chinese coins - and gave different values to heads or tails, flipped them and added up the numbers; or used dice; or other tools like the added-up page numbers of a randomly opened book). Yes, I had problems making decisions sometimes. Some folk resort to tarot cards, or media pundits - I used my own home-grown methods. Did I mention that I used to ingest plenty of inebrients?

SoundJam's randomization algorithms (and hence iTunes too) always seemed a little to prone to repeats, so I've worked many, many an hour creating playlists that eluded the need for 'true' randomization. I still use the artfully created playlist instead of using Smart Playlists, even though that particular tool has improved, a bit. My playlists still give better results.

On this score, Apple's iTunes takes the lead with a feature called Smart Playlists. It allows you to set all kinds of conditions as to what songs do and don't get played. For instance, you can tell it to select songs at random but to select only tunes that haven't been played in the last two days, or week.
- Wired

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NYTimes columnists boondoggle


So, due to inertia and a need to have a few 'subscriptions' for (small business) tax purposes, we have a weekend subscription to the NYT. Not really worth the money, usually, though sometimes, sitting in a park, under trees, the Sunday paper is a good read. Mostly, the Times annoys me with its slavish devotion to Those-in-Power and its general conservatism. Regardless, as of today, only print subscribers are allowed to view articles by the various Op-Ed writers (Krugman, Herbert, Maureen Dowd, et al). Theoretically, I should be able to log in and view these articles.

But either the Times isn't compatible with Macs (Safari or Firefox), or their service is incorrectly set up and beta tested. You would think these issues would be figured out before they launch the service? Right? I emailed the NYTimes last Thursday explaining how I was unable to log-on, and still have not received any response.

Nytimes select

after filling out the necessary information, I persistently got this error message (a system error occurred while processing your request. blah blah blah). I even tried it using my XP machine - same error.

Nytimes2 select

I rather like Dr. Black's suggestion:

Times Select Survivor

If the New York Times really believes its columnists primary purpose is to make them money rather than influencing the world, they should follow it through to the logical extension. They need to know which columnists are actually making money for them, which ones people are actually willing to pay for, and jettison the worst revenue earners.

To accomplish this they should allow people to purchase, for a modest fee, an annual subscription to one columnist or to a subset of their columnists. The one who takes in the least revenue should be, every 6 months, rotated off the island. That's capitalism, baby.

I know that only read/link to Frank Rich, Paul Krugman, Bob Herbert and very rarely Maureen Dowd. So, the rest of their stable could stop wasting space with their tissue-paper arguments, as far as I am concerned. After reading a paragraph or two, I can't be bothered with David Brooks latest hucker-ism. Oh, and for a month the estimable Barbara Ehrenreich wrote for the op-ed page: she was well worth reading as well.

Update, apparently, not the only one with problems logging in.

Update: was able to login with FireFox.

Update: 10/6/05, per email with NYT, was finally able to login to the service using Safari (had to delete all of my NYT cookies first)



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Because it doesn't really matter, but it's still funny

You are a

Social Liberal
(80% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(13% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid

And the final question was, “what one law would you propose, were you dictator for a day”, and my answer, off the top of my head: “I would dictate that...all downtown centers would be inaccessible to automobiles (ie, buses, trains, bikes, pedestrians only)”
—SNA from Chicago

(link via John_M_Burt)

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Curb Your Enthusiasm

HBO: Curb Your Enthusiasm
Finally! Viva Larry David! Larry David

Riverwalk Chicago style

news on the Chicago River walk (including bike paths, I hope).

Chicago Tribune Wacker Part II in works

Federal funding is falling into place to reconstruct the north-south section of Upper and Lower Wacker, from Randolph Street to Congress Parkway, probably in 2007 or 2008, according to the Chicago Department of Transportation. Washington is providing the first $25 million for the $280 million project. Increasing funding levels, still undetermined, are expected in subsequent years.

The new federal transportation bill Congress passed this summer also includes about a half-million dollars for the city to complete the design of a Chicago River walkway on the newly rebuilt east-west Wacker from Michigan Avenue to Lake Street.

The goal is drawing visitors to restaurants, shops and plazas on the water's edge. Floating parties made up of river barges featuring live music and other entertainment would pull up to dock walls under Mayor Richard M. Daley's plan to showcase the river as one of Chicago's greatest assets.

“We want to make the riverfront a destination,” said Brian Steele, city transportation spokesman.

If funding is secured in the next year or two, construction of the riverwalk could start in 2008 or 2009, he said. The riverwalk is estimated to cost $40 million to $50 million.

City officials have visited several cities, including Pittsburgh, San Antonio and San Diego, to study how they developed their riverfronts, Steele said.

Although much work remains, the first section of what eventually will become Chicago's riverwalk will be ready by Veterans Day, officials said. Wabash Plaza, the river-level venue being completed between Wabash and State Streets, will be home to a new Vietnam veterans memorial. A “water wall” honoring the approximately 2,900 Chicago soldiers killed in action during the Vietnam War will be the memorial's centerpiece.

“The plaza will provide a good preview of what the rest of the riverwalk might look like,” Steele said.

City procurement officials are set to issue a request for proposals this year from concessionaires interested in bidding to operate restaurants and retail stores on the riverwalk, Steele said. Officials haven't decided whether to go with a master concessionaire who would manage everything, or split the venture among several vendors.
...Ultimately, the area will tie into the riverwalk via staircases and elevators.

North branch of the Chicago river, here

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Great Lakes Mercury

Whatever could this mean? Bush administration manipulating science for their own political purposes? Who whadda thunk?

Smokestacks producing Lake Michigan mercury

Contradicting a key part of the Bush administration's environmental policy, a new federal study estimates most of the mercury falling into Lake Michigan comes from smokestacks close to the shoreline.
Sixteen of the top 25 sources of mercury dropped into the lake are coal-fired power plants, according to the study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Some of the toxic metal comes from as far away as Nevada and Texas, the study found, but most blows toward the lake from coal plants and factories in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana.


Dill Pickle Food Co-Op

Passing along, without comment. I plan to submit something, if I get up off of my slacker ass....

CALL FOR DONATIONS OF ART WORK: Dill Pickle Food Co-op Fundraising Art Auction

- Like to make stuff?
- Like to eat good food?
- Want to build up some good karma?

We'll help you out with all these at the Dill Pickle Food Co-op Art Auction on October 15!

The Dill Pickle Food Coop offers healthy food choices and the benefits of cooperative practice to build a vibrant local community and more sustainable world. We meet community needs and strengthen area diversity through products, services, and education.

Works of art of all kinds are needed - think visual art, objects, sculpture, any kind of tangible piece that someone can take home with them. We will accept a wide variety of donated works in good condition ˆ found art, pieces you want to recycle, or items made specifically for the event. Your donations will raise funds through a silent art auction, being held at the
SpareRoom (2416 W. North Ave.) on Saturday, Oct. 15, from 5-9 PM.

Please send a short description of the piece(s) for donation (incl. approximate dimensions if possible) by September 30 to Kathleen Duffy at, or to the Dill Pickle Food Co-op, PO Box 220276, Chicago IL 60622.

For more information on the Dill Pickle Food Co-op, join the email list at

The co-op's community bulletin board is located at

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Venezuela and Bush


The United States continues to 'not play nice' with the legally elected leader of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez. The D.E.A. is apparently being used as an espionage front to destabilize Chavez's government. Or attempt to do so anyway. And don't forget that the U.S. gets about 10-15% of its oil from Venezuela. Bears a closer glance.


Vice-President Rangel denied that Venezuela was not doing enough to combat drug trafficking. “It is completely false,” said Rangel, “like never before have drugs been confiscated in Venezuela … For the first time in the history of this country is the fight against drugs taken up as a matter of state policy and witnesses are governments such as those of Great Britain, the Netherlands, France, Spain, which are absolutely identified and recognize the support Venezuela has given in the fight against narco-trafficking.”

In an official statement Rangel’s office released today, he also said, “Already last year 43 tons of drugs were captured, a fact for which Venezuela was congratulated by the U.S. government itself. And for this year, until September, 59 tons of drugs and 72 tons of precursor chemicals have been confiscated. But none of this counts because what is of importance to the U.S. government is the political decertification of Venezuela in the function of future aggressions.”

The decision to decertify Venezuela would normally mean a cut-off of all U.S. aid. However, the Bush administration decided to waive this consequence in Venezuela’s case because, “support for programs to aid Venezuela's democratic institutions, establish selected community development projects, and strengthen Venezuela's political party system is vital to the national interests of the United States.”
Venezuela’s government has complained for a long time now that the Bush administration is funding opposition groups in Venezuela, to the tune of over $5 million per year, mostly via the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Last week, the NED decided to provide a grant of $107,200 to the oppositional group Súmate (Join up), which was instrumental in the organization of last year’s recall referendum against President Chavez. The grant is supposed to “strengthen democratic processes in Venezuela.”

The rupture over Venezuela’s cooperation with U.S. drug control efforts began earlier this year, when Interior Minister Jesse Chacon accused the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of using its offices and special privileges of infringing on Venezuelan sovereignty. Later, Chavez announced that his government would cancel all cooperation with the DEA and said that his government also suspected DEA agents of spying on his government and said that DEA agents were themselves involved in drug trafficking.

Venezuelan government officials repeatedly pointed out that drug interdiction has more than doubled during Chavez’s presidency compared to previous presidents and that early in the year it was foreseeable that the Bush administration would decertify Venezuela’s fight against drug trafficking for purely political reasons, which have nothing to do with Venezuela’s fight against drugs.

From the San Jose Mercury News:

United States decertifies Venezuela as ally in war on drugs

President Bush has taken Venezuela off his list of allies in the war on drugs, saying that the government of President Hugo Chavez spurned anti-drug cooperation with U.S. officials and fired its effective law enforcement officers.
But the White House waived the cuts in U.S. foreign aid usually attached to the “decertification” so that it can continue to support Venezuelan pro-democracy groups that oppose the leftist Chavez.
Bush's decision is expected to sharply exacerbate already bitter U.S.-Venezuelan relations roiled by Washington's charges that Chavez is promoting subversion around the hemisphere and the Venezuelan president's allegations that Bush is out to kill him.

From the Guardian

Chavez had no direct comment Thursday on Bush's action but used the occasion of his presence at the United Nations summit of world leaders to take a verbal swipe at Bush.
``Mr. Bush represents the most crude and savage imperialism that threatens the world,'' Chavez said.
Later, Chavez urged other leaders to consider moving U.N. headquarters out of the United States, which he called ``a terrorist state.''
Chavez claims that Venezuelan authorities have been very successful in detecting shipments of illegal drugs. He has said the United States, as the world's top consumer of drugs, does little to decrease consumption.
..Colombia has been the world's principal source of cocaine over the years, but the United States has consistently given high marks to President Alvaro Uribe for his counternarcotics efforts.

from the VOA

Venezuela's vice president has compared U.S. counter-narcotics agents in his country to an occupation force, and contested the right of the United States to judge Venezuela's cooperation in combating illegal narcotics. The comments come several weeks after Venezuela suspended bilateral anti-drug efforts with the United States.
“Why does this disagreement surface with the United States? Because they [U.S. officials] allow the DEA to act like a type of occupation force - detaining and interrogating Venezuelans,” he said. “We have told the United States that we want to have an accord [for combating narcotics] - but one that is transparent, with equal conditions [for both nations]. Venezuela would never be permitted to have its anti-narcotics agents operating within the United States, and we would never ask for it. But we want the DEA to act in accordance with Venezuelan law. We are working to formulate a new accord on those terms.”

Very interesting indeed.

Pete Guither says it better than your humble narrator, so I'll just quote 'em....

And Rangel is right -- the certification process is infantile. I suspect that this has very little to do with an actual concern on the part of the U.S. regarding drug trafficking -- that's just the excuse. The U.S. was using the DEA as a cover to infiltrate and Chavez knew it. And the fact that the U.S. is decertifying without cutting aid for groups opposing Chavez kind of makes it obvious (since decertification is supposed to stop aid). Could it be that the administration is setting up a scenario where they can justify overthrowing Chavez in order to “protect us from drugs”?

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Rich on Bush

No, it hasn't been a good week for the Bush clan. Laura showed some of her true colors too:

Frank Rich - Message: I Care About the Black Folks - New York Times

Nor can the president's acceptance of “responsibility” for the disaster dislodge what came before. Mr. Bush didn't cough up his modified-limited mea culpa until he'd seen his whole administration flash before his eyes. His admission that some of the buck may stop with him (about a dime's worth, in Truman dollars) came two weeks after the levees burst and five years after he promised to usher in a new post-Clinton “culture of responsibility.” It came only after the plan to heap all the blame on the indeed blameworthy local Democrats failed to lift Mr. Bush's own record-low poll numbers. It came only after America's highest-rated TV news anchor, Brian Williams, started talking about Katrina the way Walter Cronkite once did about Vietnam. Taking responsibility, as opposed to paying lip service to doing so, is not in this administration's gene pool. It was particularly shameful that Laura Bush was sent among the storm's dispossessed to try to scapegoat the news media for her husband's ineptitude. When she complained of seeing “a lot of the same footage over and over that isn't necessarily representative of what really happened,” the first lady sounded just like Donald Rumsfeld shirking responsibility for the looting of Baghdad.

and about those independent investigations? Forget it. Might have to answer uncomfortable questions.

It was back in 2000 that Mr. Bush, in a debate with Al Gore, bragged about his gubernatorial prowess “on the front line of catastrophic situations,” specifically citing a Texas flood, and paid the Clinton administration a rare compliment for putting a professional as effective as James Lee Witt in charge of FEMA. Exactly why Mr. Bush would staff that same agency months later with political hacks is one of many questions that must be answered by the independent investigation he and the Congressional majority are trying every which way to avoid. With or without a 9/11-style commission, the answers will come out. There are too many Americans who are angry and too many reporters who are on the case. (NBC and CNN are both opening full-time bureaus in New Orleans.) You know the world has changed when the widely despised news media have a far higher approval rating (77 percent) than the president (46 percent), as measured last week in a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll.


Waits and GM

Very odd. How unique is Mr. Waits' voice anyway? Is the impersonator that close to the famous Waits husky diction? I'd have to hear the ad in question. And 'violating personality rights' is a curious statute. Interesting.

The legendary Tom Waits has filed a suit against General Motors' Opel and the well-known advertising agency McCann Erickson. The suit was filed in Frankfurt, Germany, where a series of car commercials have been airing with voiceovers that impersonate Mr. Waits.

“Apparently,” Waits said, “the highest compliment our culture grants artists nowadays is to be in an ad -- ideally naked and purring on the hood of a new car. I have adamantly and repeatedly refused this dubious honor. Currently accepting in my absence is my German doppelganger. While the court can't make me active in radio, I am asking it to make me radioactive to advertisers.”

In the past Waits has been approached in regards to participating in the advertisements, but refused. The lawsuit states that apparantly after it was made clear that Waits has a long-standing policy against doing commercials, the defendents went ahead and hired a soundalike singer to imitate the husky voiced musician.

The commercials, which were produced in Germany, aired throughout Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway in late winter and early spring of this year.

The suit mainly charges the defendants with violating Waits' personality rights under German law. Waits seeks recovery from defendants' ill-gotten gains, including their profits. This action is supported by a recent German case involving misuse of the iconic Marlene Dietrich's personality rights.

IGN: Tom Waits Takes On General Motors:

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Three treatments of the local Skybridge building.

skybridge number 345 solarized

skybridge number 345

skybridge number 345 solarized f
click for larger versions

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Some sort of Mexican-American immigration demonstration paraded down Randolph this afternoon. I heard noisemakers, musical instruments, megaphones, etc., plus police escort sirens, so ran out onto my roof.

Pictures below the 'fold'

Robert Novak Douchebag

The Windy City Lefty notes that Robert Novak, Douchebag for Liberty doesn't get as many hits in the new Google Blog Search as it should. I know I've typed the phrase plenty of times myself, and have read it hundreds more. Curious.

Google Blog Search I have to say that I'm a little surprised that a search on
Robert Novak Douchebag

only returns 150 results.



I've always assumed this was a fairly frequent occurrence - advertising copy printed as news. Anytime I read a story that is so gung-ho about anything (new products, movies, wars in Iraq, etc.), I am suspicious.

The San Francisco Examiner and Independent agreed Friday to label as advertising a regular restaurant news column the newspapers had used to reward advertisers and solicit ads from eating establishments.

The announcement, by Executive Editor Vivienne Sosnowski, came in response to queries by Grade the News about George Habit, a dining columnist whose articles appeared several times each week in the newspapers.
Mr. Habit's columns were presented as news and he was identified as a journalist under the byline “special to the Examiner,” or just “Independent Newspapers.”

In reality, Mr. Habit is an ad salesman, not a journalist. His column, he said in an earlier interview, is designed not to help consumers make informed dining choices, but to reward advertisers and entice new business from restaurants that have yet to sign an ad contract.

“Yes, I use the column as an initiative to get advertisers to run an ad,” Mr. Habit said. “The paper gives me a free rein.”

In the Aug. 24 edition of the Examiner distributed on the Peninsula, Mr. Habit lavished praise on 29 restaurants, bars and attractions; 25 had ads on the same pages across which Mr. Habit's column was spread. Two more establishments had advertised the previous week

Grade the News

And in case you thought advertorial is basically harmless:

There is sometimes a substantial discrepancy between Mr. Habit's columns and San Mateo County Health Department assessments of eating establishments, which are available online.
For example, on Aug. 17, Mr. Habit wrote about a current advertiser: “A new and exciting chef has joined the great smelling and tasting kitchen at Cinco De Mayo on Laurel Street in San Carlos. Ah yes, owner Oscar Franco has added even more culinary expertise to his comfortable, family-friendly restaurant as he continues his tradition of serving authentically Mexican cuisine in a fun and upbeat environment.”
At its last health inspection in April, the restaurant was upgraded from the “poor” to the “average” category. Online records show county inspectors have visited five times in 2005 so far, citing the eatery for major health-code violations such as “food is being contaminated or adulterated,” “required food temperatures are not met,” “vermin are not properly excluded,” and “hands are not being properly washed.”
According to Dean Peterson, director of environmental health for San Mateo County, those violations were corrected, but an “average” score means that at the last unannounced visit, inspectors found some combination of three major or nine minor infractions



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Pot guru asks court to overturn conviction
Attorneys for Oakland pot advocate Ed Rosenthal asked a panel of federal judges today to overturn his 2003 conviction for growing medical marijuana, while the prosecutors sought to have his one-day prison sentence thrown out because they thought it wasn’t long enough.

Rosenthal, 60, was arrested in 2002 for growing marijuana for the Harm Reduction Center, a San Francisco dispensary for medical patients. Rosenthal, who is well-known for his “Ask Ed” advice column for cannabis growers, was convicted a year later on federal cultivation and conspiracy charges.

But in his trial U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer forbid Rosenthal and his attorney from mentioning that he was growing cannabis for medical users. Breyer ruled that since medical use is not allowed under federal law that evidence was irrelevant to his guilt or innocence.
Meanwhile, assistant U.S. Attorney Amber Rosen argued that Rosenthal’s conviction should remain in place, but that Breyer should have sentenced Rosenthal from two to five years in prison under federal guidelines. Rosen said the one-day sentence “was an abuse of judicial discretion.”

Yes, so nice to know that our government has priorities. Must stop the evil weed from being used for medicinal purposes, unless of course, Pfizer figures out how to make a prescriptive THC pill, available only at your local pharmacy. Until that day, the Federal government is devoting countless hours and innumerable resources to stamping out the rights of any citizen that deigns to consider cannabis as anything other than a demon plant.

Nine of 12 of the jurors who voted to convict Rosenthal have since disavowed their guilty verdict after learning that Rosenthal was growing medical marijuana. Attorneys Dennis Riordan and Joe Elford argued Tuesday that Breyer should have allowed Rosenthal to present a defense that he grew the marijuana solely for medical use with the permission of Oakland city officials, who were acting within the parameters of the state’s medical marijuana law. “It’s an affirmative defense based on the conclusion that somebody was reasonably misled by public officials,” Riordan said. “He had a Sixth Amendment right to present that defense to a jury.” They also argued that Breyer improperly restricted the jury’s options by urging jurors to follow the law and not bring their own “sense of justice” into their deliberations. Rosenthal said his actions were authorized by California’s medical marijuana law and also said he had been deputized by the city of Oakland to supply marijuana to a city-endorsed patient cooperative.

Rosenthal said outside court that he was more than happy to risk possible prison time if a new trial is ordered and he is convicted. It is more important to keep fighting to clear his name and support the cause of “sick and dying people who need marijuana,” he said.

article via the essential read, Drug War Rant, by Peter Guither

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Hall pass

Allegedly a note being written by President I-wanna-go-to-the-bathroom-because-I'm-bored-with-all-these-people-talking-about-somebody-that-isn't-me to his head mistress, Condi.....


U.S. President George W. Bush writes a note to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a Security Council meeting at the 2005 World Summit and 60th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York.


Another American Hero

Well, almost. At least somebody with the self-confidence to speak truth to power, or whatever that cliche is...

In the past two weeks, Dr. Ben Marble of Gulfport, Mississippi, lost his house, saw his wife give birth by flashlight and became an instant celebrity for telling Vice President Dick Cheney to go fuck himself.

“I tell you it was a good feeling at the time. It did feel really good. Wasn't quite as good as having sex or something, but it was good,” Marble said of the Sept. 8 event, captured live on CNN.

Seconds later, however, he noticed this “panic-stricken look on the Secret Service guys' faces, like they were about to tackle me or I didn't know what.” Marble walked briskly from the scene, leaving his friend Jay, who'd captured the whole thing on video camera. Marble told the man who'd just patted him down to “have a nice day” before heading home. He was later detained by two men in fatigues, questioned and released....

Marble, an emergency room doctor and indie rock musician who looks as though he were torn from the pages of Spin, said he doesn't consider his actions heroic.

By Tuesday, Marble had received $900 in donations via his PayPal account. He's done multiple radio interviews, spoken to Hustler and received invitations to appear on Bill Maher's and Howard Stern's shows.

Marble, who's been treating numerous hurricane-related ailments at the hospital he works for, stresses that he's not a charity case. But he's not turning down fans who want to purchase a piece of history from him.

“If they were amused by what happened and think this is a good thing and want to help me rebuild what I've lost, then feel free to buy it,” he said.

Wired News: FU, Cheney: See Movie, Buy Shirt


Creeping facism - CBS Asks Why U.S. Imprisons Its Iraqi Hire

For 25-year-old CBS cameraman Abdul Amir Younes Hussein, being shot and wounded by American forces in Iraq was just the beginning.
On April 5, Mr. Hussein, a freelancer employed by the network in the northern city of Mosul, went to the scene of a car bombing to film the aftermath. He was standing near an armed insurgent when U.S. forces opened fire, killing the militant and wounding him lightly. The military released a statement that expressed regret about the incident and said it was under investigation.
Three days later, the military released a second statement saying that Mr. Hussein had been “detained for alleged insurgent activity” and there was probable cause to believe he posed “an imperative threat to coalition forces.”

or else, just another way we are trying to 'win hearts and mind' and failing miserably. I suppose under Republican occupation (both at home and abroad), rules of law only apply sometimes. If you don't fit the profile, laws are malleable, and not in your favour. Judicial activism at its worst, in other words.

“The cameraman has now been detained for more than five months, and no one concerned has been informed of the evidence against him,” the network said in a statement yesterday. “We continue to request that information and hope it will be provided and his status be decided, one way or another, in a fair and timely manner.”

..The military defends its handling of the case and says Mr. Hussein remains under suspicion. The journalist has been detained “based on information that he was affiliated with anti-Iraqi and anti-coalition forces and engaged in anti-coalition activity,” Lt. Col. Guy Rudisill, a military spokesman, said in a statement. He said the activity included “recruiting and inciting Iraqi nationals to violence against coalition forces and participating in attacks against coalition forces.”
Mr. Hussein's story illustrates the difficulty of reporting in Iraq. The Committee to Protect Journalists, a nonprofit organization, describes the country “as the most dangerous place in the world to work as a journalist,” noting that 23 journalists were killed there last year and an additional 15 have died so far this year. Because the dangers to Westerners are so great, foreign media outlets frequently rely on Iraqis hired locally to supplement their staff reporting. The Iraqis travel around the country far more than the Westerners and are routinely targeted by insurgents or involved in accidental shootings by Americans. On June 30, for instance, Knight Ridder reporter Yasser Salihee was killed on his day off by a U.S. Army sniper.
Western media organizations increasingly complain that their Iraqi hires are routinely detained by the U.S. military without charges. In addition to Mr. Hussein, at least four Iraqi journalists -- including two cameramen for the Reuters news agency -- remain in American custody. In an interview yesterday with Reuters, Iraqi Justice Minister Abdul Hussein Shandal criticized such detentions and said journalists should be able to film attacks and interview insurgents without fear of being arrested.

and then CBS admits pushing the young man where he didn't want to go...

CBS describes Mr. Hussein as a timid young man who was so afraid of coming into contact with insurgents that he was warned at least once that he would be fired unless he went into the field more often. The network says it found Mr. Hussein through its local correspondent in Tikrit, an employee who had been on its payroll for two years. It says Mr. Hussein was a graduate of Mosul University where he belonged to a student group that organized a reception for Mosul's new governor that was funded with American money and attended by several U.S. military officers.

Font Tool

Interesting new font tool, in development. Currently free. Linotype FontExplorer X

FontExplorer X sets a new standard for font management software. After several relatively sad years for all font users who were looking for a professional font manager, Linotype is pleased to fill the gap with the new FontExplorer X. Font management has never been so simple, and font sorting, font shopping and font discovery are now more fun than ever. FontExplorer X gives computer users all the font functions they could need, and lets them decide how deeply they wish to dive into various font themes

I'm not enough of a font maven (ie, I don't get much design work that requires me to load/unload fonts) to justify spending money for a font manager, thus this program looks like something worth a deeper look.

link via Seth Robson

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Chicken Fried Steak

“Only a rank degenerate would drive 1,500 miles across Texas without eating a chicken fried steak.” –Larry McMurtry (b. 1936), American writer

I might differ with Mr. McMurtry, perhaps because I ate way too many of them in various public school cafeterias. If I only eat one chicken fried steak a decade, I'd be satiated.

Reviews V Part 2 through Ethiopiques

Oh, tis a noble quest to be so ignoble....

Various artists, continued

Reviews V part 4 Kenyan - Texas Czech

Various artists, continued

Reviews Various Artists - remainder edition

Various artists, continued


D's sister, who we call H for reasons partially related to H's given name, is about to receive the last payment of some estate money that D received from the State of Michigan a couple summers ago. Thank g-d. H believes that she cured herself of schizophrenia by eating a diet heavy in blueberries and olive oil. Maybe she did, but her symptoms seem as acute as ever.

Madison Blues

Actually, nothing blue about it (Elmore James reference aside), but am managing to sneak out of the office this morning to drive to Madison to see the King and Queen of Guam at the Edgewater Hotel. Yayyy.

So, will be 'out of pocket' for most of the day.

...Put on your Madison blue shoes
I got the Madison blues
Now put on your Madison blue shoes

Ahh, you cats talking about your Madison shoes
We do the thing we call the Madison blues
Elmore James - Madison Blues

Edgewater Location


Shaq File

Yet another addition to the Shaq is a'right file. And kudos to Shaq for not becoming a vigilante and personally beating Michael Gonzalez with the thrashing he so deserved. Instead, Shaq flagged an actual cop to conduct the arrest. - NBA - Bad boys, whatcha gonna do? Shaq's coming for you Shaquille O'Neal provided an assist to police over the weekend, trailing a man who allegedly assaulted a gay couple before alerting an arresting officer.

The 7-foot-1 Miami Heat center, who is in the process of becoming a Miami Beach reserve officer, was driving on South Beach around 3 a.m. Sunday. He saw a passenger in a car yell anti-gay slurs at the couple, who were walking, said Bobby Hernandez, a spokesman for the Miami Beach Police Department.

The man then got out of the car and threw a bottle, hitting one of the pedestrians, who was not seriously hurt. The man got back in the car, which sped off. O'Neal followed, flagging down an officer who made an arrest, Hernandez said.
Michael Gonzalez, 18, was arrested on charges of aggravated assault and assault with a deadly weapon. The driver of the car was not charged.

Geez, soon, I might actually start to like the big fella, even though he was a Laker.

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Wrong Answer

I've sold more than Bob Marley
Pop: Shaggy tells Amina Taylor why he deserves to be ranked among reggae's best.

Wrong. Give me even a lesser Marley album, if there is such a thing, any day instead of some halfway interesting fluff by Shaggy.


Symbolic Victories

Sometimes symbolic victories are all that are available, and thus are worth winning.

U.S. out of Iraq, now! What's the point of prolonging our inevitable withdrawal?

A City Council committee on Monday weighed in on the war in Iraq, hearing emotional testimony on both sides of the issue before advancing a resolution calling for an “orderly and rapid” withdrawal of American troops. If the full council approves the measure, Chicago would be one of the first big cities in the country officially to urge the federal government to end the war, said Ald. Joseph Moore (49th), a lead sponsor of the resolution, already endorsed by 40 of the council's 50 aldermen. The council will consider the measure Wednesday.


A similar resolution was passed in an 8-1 vote by the Evanston City Council late Monday. About 150 people overwhelmingly in favor of the measure crowded the council chambers, where aldermen voted on the measure at 11:30 p.m. Monday.

Jordan Lome, with a local group called Neighbors for Peace, said before the council meeting that “people are here because they want to speak out on the war and against the [Bush] administration. These are regular people with regular voices.”

“Enough is enough,” Ald. Ann Rainey (8th), who supported the measure, said before the meeting. “Over 1,800 lives lost for a reason I'm not certain of. That's why I am supporting it.”

Chicago's council from time to time has voiced its opinion on national and international issues. Before the start of hostilities in Iraq, it voted 45-to-1 to oppose an invasion.

The council's Human Relations Committee, which considered the resolution, has received a letter of support from Cindy Sheehan, the anti-war activist and mother of a soldier who died in Iraq.

Another mother, Ginger Williams, whose son is an Army lieutenant serving in Iraq, told the committee that she wants Chicago “to send a message” to politicians in Washington who have sent young people to war without ever having served themselves.

Some people say that while troops are in combat “everybody has to shut up,” Williams said. “Well, this mother doesn't have to shut up.”

Chicago Tribune Panel OKs call for Iraq pullout

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Pat Riley

There really hasn't been much to gossip about in NBA news, but watching a 2005 Miami Heat playoff game (on NBA-TV) reminds me that the Heat had a really good team last year. On paper anyway, I think they've taken a giant step backwards with their off-season moves. Antoine Walker reminds me of Pat Riley: a much higher estimation of his own skills than is true, as well as someone I actively root to fail because of his arrogance.

Riley wouldn't have won any championships without Magic Johnson. Perhaps the reverse is true as well, but Pat Riley's thuggish Knicks were a horrid, horrid black eye for basketball. I also don't see any new champion rings on Riley's fingers since he left Los Angeles.

Tai Chi, Pilates, Yoga, and NBA play at its best, in this author's humble opinion, are about flow, movement and fluidity. Riley's Knicks were the antithesis of watch-able basketball.

Anyway, the Heat's prospects for the 2005-2006 are worse, and Stan Van Gundy's job security is tenuous. When, by mid-season, the Heat are hovering around .500, and there is all sorts of public sniping emanating from the locker room, Riley has already set up machinations to fire Van Gundy, and attempt to resurrect his own reputation. Bleh.

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Oh I want to post it too

| 1 Comment

since everybody else is.....

Worst President Ever

Worst President Ever

From Snopes, and elsewhere, a screenshot from a Sky News video saying what everybody is thinking.

Update 8:57 pm
from the Washington Post's best asset, Dan Froomkin, a few more tidbits about the 'cold and snappish' petulant man who lives in the White House:

Judging from the blistering analyses in Time, Newsweek, and elsewhere these past few days, it turns out that Bush is in fact fidgety, cold and snappish in private. He yells at those who dare give him bad news and is therefore not surprisingly surrounded by an echo chamber of terrified sycophants. He is slow to comprehend concepts that don't emerge from his gut. He is uncomprehending of the speeches that he is given to read. And oh yes, one of his most significant legacies -- the immense post-Sept. 11 reorganization of the federal government which created the Homeland Security Department -- has failed a big test.
Maybe it's Bush's sinking poll numbers -- he is, after all, undeniably an unpopular president now. Maybe it's the way that the federal response to the flood has cut so deeply against Bush's most compelling claim to greatness: His resoluteness when it comes to protecting Americans.
But for whatever reason, critical observations and insights that for so long have been zealously guarded by mainstream journalists, and only doled out in teaspoons if at all, now seem to be flooding into the public sphere.
An emperor-has-no-clothes moment seems upon us.

Cool additions to Gmail notifier

Finally a good implementation of a Gmail notifier for Mac. I wish Google wasn't always so focused on Windows only software. We mac-a-terians want a taste, too.
Extras for your Mac Gmail Notifier

2. Extend the Notifier using plugins
The Gmail Notifier supports plugins written in AppleScript, or full-blown Cocoa Bundles in Objective-C. Details about the Objective-C plugin API can be found inside the Gmail Notifier application bundle in the required header file, GGPluginProtocol.h (control+click Gmail -> Show Package Contents -> Contents -> Headers).

AppleScript plugins are written by simply implementing a handler like:

on NewMessagesReceived(messages, fullCount) -- Your code goes here... end NewMessagesReceived

also links to a gmail growl notifier, here, via

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Four Years

Juan Cole discusses the ineptness of Bush, especially in the context of al-Qaeda, and notes that:

9/11, 7/7 and 8/30 On the fourth-year anniversary... ...Al-Qaeda simply hasn't been a priority for Bush. His first priority, all along, has been cutting taxes on his rich friends...
Four years after September 11, al-Qaeda's leadership should have been behind bars or dead. Four years after September 11, Afghanistan should have been stabilized. Four years after September 11, the government should have been ready to save lives in an urban disaster.

Bush recently started likening his poorly conceived and misnamed “war on terror” to World War II.

What his handlers have forgotten is how long World War II lasted for the United States.

Four years.

In four years, Roosevelt and allies defeated Nazi Germany and imperial Japan. In four years, Bush hasn't managed even to corner Bin Laden and a few hundred scruffy terrorists; or to extract himself from the deserts of Iraq; or to put the government's finances in good order so that it can deal with crises like Katrina.

Why Bush hasn't been run out of Washington on a rail, covered in tar and feathers, and beaten with sticks continues to baffle me.

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September 11 and Bush

Three interesting pieces of media consumed yesterday, 9/11. Two from the NYT Magazine:

Taking Stock of the Forever War
A terrorist leader four years ago, Osama bin Laden is now an ideology as well — and a viral movement. Maybe it's time to stop fighting on the terrorists' terms.

Lost at Tora Bora

In December 2001, Osama bin Laden was cornered in a mountainous region along the Afghan-Pakistani border. Why wasn’t he captured? And why can't he be apprehended now?

and one a film on IFC - WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception

There were two wars in Iraq--a military assault and a media war. The former was well-covered; the latter was not. Until now... Independent filmmaker, Emmy-award winningTV journalist, author and media critic, Danny Schechter turns the cameras on the role of the media. His new film, WMD, is an outspoken assessment of how Pentagon propaganda and media complicity misled the American people, while selling the war to influence international public opinion. Schechter compares and contrasts coverage on a global basis, including exclusive material and insider interviews. WMD is a serious film that exposes the media role--the biggest scandal of our time.

D and I got into a large, heated discussion about GWB and his lack of competence. On many political topics, my views are to the left of hers, but on this particular one, we agree perfectly. George Bush should be impeached. Especially after the debate with John Kerry where Bush poo-pooed the idea that bin Laden was cornered in the caves of Tora Bora, and escaped. Perhaps the vicious rumors are true, and bin Laden and Bush are in cahoots.

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Randolph Street Skyline

“If there were in the world today any large number of people who desired their own happiness more than they desired the unhappiness of others, we could have paradise in a few years.”

Bertrand Russell


Photos of life, change and transformations

for fun and amusement. Please, no gambling.

Bent Tree
...exhale the history and it a bent branch anyway.
melted, scarred by the fire
We strain the limits of our visions,
try to master the pale rose paintbrush
with our hands all of stone.

Inspiration required breadth...

Bent Tree IR





dying embers of the sun

Bridge in the forest, if it falls, will anyone hear it?

for all photos, click for larger view

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Comments restricted


Since the upgrade to MT 3.2, the MT Blacklist anti-spam plugin is not enabled. Thus I'm getting way, way too much comment spam (mostly for texas hold 'em poker scams). Not that I get a lot of comments, but still....

Therefore, I'm temporarily changing comments to Typekey enabled only. Sort of a hassle, because unless you have a Six Apart based blog of your own, you'll have to register with yet another site before you can comment here.


There have been almost 200 comments identified as junk in less that 24 hours, and a couple of real comments blended in there. I don't have the energy or time to sift through, so if you want to comment, you'll have to register with Typekey, at least until I figure out some other way to eliminate all the spammy fruckers from cluttering up my site, and wasting my bandwidth.

-update 9-12-005-21:35
somewhat open again. WTF. Numbers of junk is decreased to a more manageable number, at least at the moment.


Reviews V part 1

Something about distractions


Allegedly have upgraded to movabletype 3.2. Now the fun of tweaking can begin. I'm almost afraid to look at it, especially since I'm supposed to be working (5 pm FedEx deadline looms...)

Posted, without commentary, because you'll watch it or you won't. I know we will be....

'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart' Presents 'Evolution Schmevolution: A Daily Show Special Report' Airing Nightly From September 12-15 at 11:00 P.M.*

Science vs. Religion. Evolution vs.
Creation. It is an age-old battle whose time has come. “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” will gather together all the experts (or at least those who will talk to them), travel to the places that matter in the debate (basic cable budget permitting) and ultimately settle the controversy once and for all. “Evolution Schmevolution: A Daily Show Special Report” will premiere on Monday, September 12 and air nightly at 11:00 p.m. through September 15.
For one full week, “The Daily Show” goes in-depth, around, through and quite possibly under, one of the hottest hot-button issues facing our nation: evolution. It's the accepted theory on the origin of life by an overwhelming majority of the world's biologists, but maybe they're all wrong. What's so great about the scientific method anyway? “Evolution Schmevolution” will explore:

* What other theories are out there?

* Who's on the frontlines of this debate?

* Should your child's curriculum really be decided by experts in their
respective fields?


HOW TO Build Your Own “Telecrapper”

| 1 Comment

From the Make Magazine blog

HOW TO Build Your Own “Telecrapper”

Are you tired of answering the phone only to find a telemarketer on the other end and wish you could make them as angry as you feel? Now you can build your own answering system that carries on a virtual conversation with the telemarketer and drives them nuts. The Telecrapper 2000 (TC2K) is a computerized system designed to both intercept incoming Telemarketing calls on the first ring, and then carry on a virtual conversation with the telemarketer. The site also features phone calls the device has carried out with telemarketers. Link.

What a brilliant idea. Of course, after years of training (via the negative reinforcement method), I hardly ever answer the phone anyway. Still a clever, clever idea.

Oh, and here is a sample (flash) of it in action.

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Harpers essay on how disaster always equals more authority:

Mark Frauenfelder:
Luke Mitchell of Harpers says: “We have excerpts from a great essay by Rebecca Solnit up at Harper's right now, about how authorities deal with disaster, and I am hoping I can get it as well distributed as humanly possible, because it might help to build a counter-narrative to the story that is being constructed this very minute about what is going on in New Orleans. Rebecca's argument is that disaster always calls authority into question, and when authority is in question, the powers that be will often attempt to create a narrative of human behavior that calls for (surprise) even greater authority.

”It's a great essay, and the postscript (written yesterday, for the Web only) plugs it into what is going in New Orleans (in terms of mythical race riots and cannibalism) more directly. (Also, if we get lots of traffic, the powers that be here at the magazine will let me do more of these sorts of things.) The amazing thing is, Rebecca wrote the essay before Katrina hit. Indeed, we were printing the piece that Monday.“ Link

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Canadian Gothic

Canadian Gothic1

Old photo, scanned. Taken in Ontario, circa 1978. That's me in the hat, sitting on our ancient tractor (I believe it was a 1938 Ford, but I could be off by a year or two). I don't have the negative, and the photo was printed on textured paper, so can't do much more with it.

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Busy day

Champagne cork

...but I really want to finish up two big projects by Tuesday so I can drive up to Madison and see the King and Queen of Guam, who are visiting relatives in Wisconsin.

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Boing Boing: Katrina: Jasmina Tesanovic's account, Austin Convention center

Writer, filmmaker, and Serbian native Jasmina Tesanovic is best known for her work documenting war in the former Yugoslavia. She visited the Austin Convention Center, where many storm victims are being sheltered, and has this to say about the people she encountered.

...A desk with pretty young white girls has several posters: child and women abuse. I approach them, they give me their material, they have shelters, therapies for all situations. They are local feminist groups present in the center.

...A young man from New Orleans was telling this morning how he plans to go back even though his house is destroyed, and to MAKE sure that the city is rebuild in a proper way: that the politicians don’t steal and waste the money; that right guys get in charge and start anew, make a new go of it, this time on proper roots.... Everybody could tell this disaster was going to happen, why didn’t anybody do something about it?
Corruption, racism, classism.... Bush is a spoiled rich kid and behaves as such....
No, I say, he is a war criminal: all the money the world is giving now to US, money from the poorest countries in the world, may as well be used for the wars against the same countries that are giving the money. What a thought? You should secede... from Bush.

Read the rest, it's quite good.

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Tragic tale of race in Wisconsin


Second part of a long story in today's Tribune about the recent shooting incident in Wisconsin. A Hmong man responded to (alleged) racial threats by stalking and killing his (alleged) tormenters. More fallout from the Vietnam War, I'm afraid.

Chicago Tribune news: Part 2: Angry words, then hunters become prey
[Chai] Vang told Gillis and an FBI agent who also was in the room that he was sitting in a tree stand near the border of public and private land when a man in blaze orange walked up and told him he shouldn't be on someone else's property.

“I told him I didn't know it was private,” Vang told the investigators. “I didn't see any signs.”

He tried to leave, but soon a group of men arrived on an ATV, surrounding him and calling him names. Vang said he had been afraid they were going to attack him.

“Follow the ATV trail and get the fuck out of here and never come back,” one man had said.

Vang said he tried to apologize again, and was walking away when someone fired at him.

Vang shot back, and when the men starting running, Vang said he thought they were going for their guns. Vang described how he chased the men down, shooting some in the back and opening fire on others who rushed to the scene on ATVs.

The investigator wrote out the statement and went over it with Vang several times. At 2:05 p.m., about 26 hours after the shootings, Vang signed the statement.

In his statement to police, Vang did not describe how he felt about the shootings, but in a letter, Vang wrote, “I have done something to defend myself and my race.”

Later, in a call from jail, Vang said he feared the hunters were going to kill him.

“I shot them because they shot at me first,” he said. “I thought I was going to die.”
...One night, two Hmong men walked into the Frontier Saloon in nearby Exeland, the same bar some of the hunters had visited the night before the shootings.

The woman tending bar asked the Hmong to leave. She was afraid they would get hurt.

A Minnesota decal store began selling a misspelled bumper sticker that read: “Save a Hunter, Shoot a Mung.”

And a resident of a mobile home park in Menomonie, Wis., 80 miles south of the shooting, painted “Killers” on the homes of two Hmong neighbors.

In Minneapolis, near Vang's house, a white supremacist group distributed fliers with photographs of the six dead hunters and the question, “Is diversity worth even one American life?”

Shortly after Vang's arrest, his wife received a threatening call in St. Paul.

“If you come into Wisconsin and kill more people I swear to God I will have you decapitated,” said a slurred male voice that became angrier as the hate-filled message played on.

The threat strengthened the family's belief that Vang acted in self-defense.

“If they killed him, who would know?” said Vang's brother, Sang. “If they shot him, they wouldn't say anything at all.

”He would just disappear.“

Although some Hmong organizations have distanced themselves from Vang--one group took up a collection for the families in Rice Lake--others have offered support.

Wameng Moua, publisher and editor of Hmong Today, a newspaper in St. Paul, said he does not support Vang, but he knows many others who do.

”Hmong people believe deep in their hearts that Chai Vang was cornered,“ Moua said, ”and he was fighting for his life.“

Part One here, part two here



err, I have a hard time besmirching the recently deceased. Must be my secular humanist upbringing. So, I'll let David Corn do it....

I confess: I have a hard time saying William Rehnquist, rest in peace. Supreme Court Chief Justice Rehnquist, who died on Saturday night, spent much of his adult life trying to restrict the rights of American citizens and to empower further the already-powerful. He rose to prominence as a right-wing attorney who decried the Earl Warren court for being a hotbed of judicial activism (left-wing judicial activism, as he saw it). He then became, as a Supreme Court justice, a judicial activist of the right-wing sort, overturning laws made by Congress (that protected women against domestic violence, banned guns near school property, and prohibited discrimination against disabled workers) and steering the justices into Florida's vote-counting mess in 2000 (an act that only coincidentally--right?--led to George W. Bush's presidency). In that case--Bush v. Gore--Rehnquist, for some reason or another, placed aside his much heralded belief in state sovereignty, which led him on other occasions to grouse about limits on the abilities of states to execute criminals. When it came to states frying prisoners, he advocated a hands-off approach. In vote-counting, he was all for intervention.

But let's be clear: in recent years there has been no other Supreme Curt justice who had a personal history so loaded with racism--or, to be kinder than is warranted, tremendous insensitivity to racial discrimination--as did William Rehnquist. As a law clerk for Justice Robert Jackson in the early 1950s--when the Court was considering the historic Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation case--Rehnquist wrote a memo defending the infamous 1896 decision, Plessy v. Ferguson, which established the separate-but-equal doctrine. Rehnquist noted, “That decision was right and should be reaffirmed.” In other words, he favored continuing discrimination and racial segregation. During his 1971 confirmation hearings, after he was nominated to serve as an associate justice on the Supreme Court, he said that memo merely reflected Jackson's view not his own. But few historians have bought that shaky explanation.

Oh, there's more....David Corn: The Rehnquist Death and Hurricane Katrina

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Randall Jarrell

“I think that one possible definition of our modern culture is that it is one in which nine-tenths of our intellectuals can't read any poetry.”

Can't? or won't? I suppose it ends up the same. I read less and less myself, and nobody has ever accused me of being an intellectual.


Don't follow leaders...

Figure you'll get a little more park time by smudging off the chalk or grab some minutes the last guy left? Fageddaboutit. Lots of towns have installed meters that reset with each new car, track parkers by GPS and increase fees by the hour.
If you're in Monterey, California, or Chicago, you're apt to be foiled by parking officials who drive minicarts outfitted with GPS-enabled cameras that scan your license plate and know how long a car has occupied the given space.

Wired: Watch the Parking Meters

I wondered what the little carts were for, especially coupled with this

And this is just a bit too much:

Pacific Grove, a coastal resort town where visitors to the nearby Monterey Bay Aquarium and Pebble Beach golf course compete with locals for the few oceanside spaces, went for the gold when it went digital last year. It installed meters that increase parking fees over time, so that quick errands remain relatively inexpensive but long stays become more costly. A wire grid under the pavement triggers a sensor whenever a car pulls in. The information can be sent wirelessly by radio signals to traffic enforcers so they'd know when time runs out on any parking spot in town. The meter resets itself as soon as the car pulls away, so the next car has to pay the full fee.

Johnny's in the basement....


New iTunes

Apple - iTunes 5.0- Overview

New version of iTunes is always worth note.

New Look Streamlined design makes iTunes even easier to use.
Search Bar Find stuff fast and refine your search with the handy new Search Bar.
Smart Shuffle Adjust random playback to hear what you want.
Sync from Outlook iTunes now supports iPod syncing for Outlook and Outlook Express on Windows PCs.
Playlist Folders Organize all your playlists into folders.
Album Reviews Browse over 1,000 album reviews.

Of course, having to reboot is always an impediment to installation.

Processes: 89
Averages: 2.31 1.93 1.83
Uptime: 6 days 23:39

Itunes 5 Desktop

The search bar has more options, and is noticeably faster.

Itunes 5 Search

(click for larger versions)

update 5:18 pm....

Steve Jobs loves putting on special musical events, if for no other reason than trotting out his celebrity pals to help sell Apple’s new ideas to the public. Today’s event was no exception: Jobs acknowledged cellist Yo-Yo Ma, seated in the audience; took part in a live video iChat with a British-accented Madonna—whose catalog was just added to the iTunes Music Store—from London; and invited Hip-hop/rap artist Kanye West—whose album and song both top the iTMS charts—to sing two songs at the end of the morning (before which West thanked Steve for “still letting him perform,” presumably a reference to some unscripted comments West made criticizing President Bush during NBC’s “A Concert for Hurricane Relief” last week).
Jonathan Seff, MacUser MacWorld

BTW, what is up with Madonna pretending to have a British accent? Give it up. I lived in Texas for over 20 years and I didn't pick up the accent, except as an affectation to make folk laugh....

Update 9/8/05

“I got tired of not being able to download my own music.”

Madonna, on licensing her music catalog to iTunes because she apparently couldn't figure out how to use file-sharing
software to download it, Engadget, 7 September 2005, via Ditherati

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Blog tools

While Google, Yahoo and Microsoft search billions of Web pages, blog search sites typically focus on between 10 million and 20 million blogs. But, in many ways, the upstarts are as different from each other as they are from the giants. Technorati, for instance, relies mostly on a mechanism called “pinging” to monitor blogs. Most bloggers maintain their journals through blog publishing services like Blogger or LiveJournal, which have features that can automatically send out a “ping” to notify search services when a user's blog has been updated. David Sifry, chief executive of Technorati, says his company gets an edge from exclusive deals in which some blog-hosting companies ping Technorati before anyone else. After receiving a heads-up, Technorati visits the blog and updates its database.
- - New Search Engines
Help Users Find Blogs

Hmm, what good is pinging first if you don't get indexed in a timely manner? Of course, for all my public complaining, I still check technorati frequently, often comparing the results I get with IceRocket's results. I haven't gotten scientific enough to keep track of which engine gives me better results, but IceRocket did point out that some jokester was stealing a photo of new Maverick Doug Christie from me. I mutated the photo and added a little friendly text about bandwidth stealing, and the offending site removed my image from their page. Technorati found nothing.

In fact, Technorati has been timing out consistently as of late. So once again, their press is ahead of their performance.

We couldn't complete your search because we're experiencing a high volume of requests right now. Please try again in a minute or two. We're working hard to make our search results better. Thanks for your patience.

more from the WSJ:

Web logs, online diaries written and published by everyone from college students to big media companies, are being created and updated at an astonishing rate -- and established search companies such as Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc. don't always catch them fast enough. Now, a handful of closely held upstarts such as Technorati Inc., Feedster Inc. and LLC see an opportunity: Build a search engine that can track the information zipping through blogs, nearly in real time.

The new sites are gaining traction with users looking to sample what people are talking about online, from the fallout from Hurricane Katrina to silly celebrity gossip. As free tools make it easier for even the most technophobic to publish online, there's a growing demand for services to sift through the clutter.
The new services, some of which are less than a year old, aren't without their glitches. The technology is still evolving and companies are still looking for the best way to track and sort blogs. Some services miss large numbers of blogs, while others pull up irrelevant sites.


Douchebag for Liberty

Robert Novak is no Howard Stern. Unlike the King of All Media, when the right-wing pundit decided to perform blue, he did it on cable airwaves not regulated by the Federal Communications Commission. But that didn't stop about 100 concerned citizens from sending e-mails and letters to the FCC complaining about Novak's August 4 CNN outburst. While facing off with Democratic strategist James Carville, the 74-year-old Novak responded to one Carville dig with, “Well, I think that's bullshit, and I hate that.” He then walked off the “Inside Politics” set (the on-air tantrum led to Novak's suspension from the network). Below you'll find a sample of the FCC complaint letters, which TSG obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request (the commission redacts the names of correspondents...). The scribes speculate about whether Novak was drunk during the fateful outburst and even consider the profanity's detrimental effect on the unborn.

Read the letters here:Bullshit: FCC Hears It On Novak Outburst - September 2, 2005

I watched the outburst 10 times, trying to figure out what exactly was on the mind of the Prince of Darkness that afternoon. Was the Frog March matter weighing on his conscious? Was the souls of all the people Novak besmirched over a long and dirty career dancing in his dreams, causing sleepless nights? Are there contract negotiations with CNN going on that we don't know about? Maybe that abysmal Q Rating was being bandied about by co-workers, and Novak was cranky? Maybe he regretted lecturing Carville about using a 'foul mouth' in 2002, and wanted to publicly apologize the only way Novakula could. Who knows, but at least Novak hasn't been able to foul the airwaves for a few weeks.


Clouds and Meat

Clouds and meat

Title from me as a 4 year old: woke my parents one morning by singing a song whose lyrics consisted solely of “Clouds and Meat”. Yes, that's me, eccentric from an early age.

Politics Trumps All

| 1 Comment
As New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin pleaded on national television for firefighters - his own are exhausted after working around the clock for a week - a battalion of highly trained men and women sat idle Sunday in a muggy Sheraton Hotel conference room in Atlanta.
    Many of the firefighters, assembled from Utah and throughout the United States by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, thought they were going to be deployed as emergency workers.
    Instead, they have learned they are going to be community-relations officers for FEMA, shuffled throughout the Gulf Coast region to disseminate fliers and a phone number: 1-800-621-FEMA.
    On Monday, some firefighters stuck in the staging area at the Sheraton peeled off their FEMA-issued shirts and stuffed them in backpacks, saying they refuse to represent the federal agency.
The firefighters, several of whom are from Utah, were told to bring backpacks, sleeping bags, first-aid kits and Meals Ready to Eat. They were told to prepare for “austere conditions.” Many of them came with awkward fire gear and expected to wade in floodwaters, sift through rubble and save lives.     “They've got people here who are search-and-rescue certified, paramedics, haz-mat certified,” said a Texas firefighter. “We're sitting in here having a sexual-harassment class while there are still [victims] in Louisiana who haven't been contacted yet.”     The firefighter, who has encouraged his superiors back home not to send any more volunteers for now, declined to give his name because FEMA has warned them not to talk to reporters. ... While FEMA's community-relations job may be an important one - displaced hurricane victims need basic services and a variety of resources - it may be a job best suited for someone else, say firefighters assembled at the Sheraton.

    “It's a misallocation of resources. Completely,” said the Texas firefighter.

    “It's just an under-utilization of very talented people,” said South Salt Lake Fire Chief Steve Foote, who sent a team of firefighters to Atlanta. “I was hoping once they saw the level of people . . . they would shift gears a little bit.”

    Foote said his crews would be better used doing the jobs they are trained to do.

And here is the real kick in the teeth:

A firefighter from California said he feels ill prepared to even carry out the job FEMA has assigned him. In the field, Hurricane Katrina victims will approach him with questions about everything from insurance claims to financial assistance.
    “My only answer to them is, '1-800-621-FEMA,' ” he said. “I'm not used to not being in the know.”

    Roy Fire Chief Jon Ritchie said his crews would be a “little frustrated” if they were assigned to hand out phone numbers at an evacuee center in Texas rather than find and treat victims of the disaster.

    Also of concern to some of the firefighters is the cost borne by their municipalities in the wake of their absence. Cities are picking up the tab to fill the firefighters' vacancies while they work 30 days for the federal government.

    “There are all of these guys with all of this training and we're sending them out to hand out a phone number,” an Oregon firefighter said. “They [the hurricane victims] are screaming for help and this day [of FEMA training] was a waste.”
Firefighters say they want to brave the heat, the debris-littered roads, the poisonous cottonmouth snakes and fire ants and travel into pockets of Louisiana where many people have yet to receive emergency aid.
    But as specific orders began arriving to the firefighters in Atlanta, a team of 50 Monday morning quickly was ushered onto a flight headed for Louisiana. The crew's first assignment: to stand beside President Bush as he tours devastated areas.

Salt Lake Tribune - Utah

So basically, heavily (and expensively) trained first responders are fit just to be used as props for Bush's manly struts across a wasted land. Great use of resources, kids. Way to lead.

Update: Daily Kos has more

Bush Uses Firemen As Props

It's the most fucked up because it is easily the most crassly political act ever taken by this administration. Bush is so thoroughly a PR vessel that he can't even tour a disaster zone without his human backdrop. He's been a PR marionette for so long -- clear brush for the cameras! -- that he's become thoroughly incapable of keeping it real. God forbid he try to connect with people, get a better understanding of their efforts to cope with real disaster. That's not worth his time. Nope, it's got to be turned into a frickin' Bush campaign commercial. Everything is political. Everything.
It suddenly puts those Coast Guard helicopters in that photo op in clearer perspective, doesn't it? With the assembled military and Coast Guard personnel standing at attention in the background.

Red Helicopter used as prop

In other words, Coast Guard personnel not actively working to save lives, but instead being used to save the one thing that trumps all, little Bushy's reputation.

Let me ask you one question Is your money that good Will it buy you forgiveness Do you think that it could I think you will find When your death takes its toll All the money you made Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die
And your death'll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I'll watch while you're lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I'll stand o'er your grave
'Til I'm sure that you're dead

-Bob Dylan, Masters of War

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Three treatments of a photo I took of a firehouse for sale (Wells and Superior, maybe, or nearby). Bad photo, and my attempts to make something interesting out the mess. I'll have to revisit the building in the daytime (or scrounge up the cash for a flash) and get a better picture, eventually.

Firehouse Poster

Firehouse green channel

Firehouse the original

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Leonard Cohen, busted

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Broke, no bread, I mean like nothing....

Take an iconic artist, mix in missing millions, hints of tantric sex, a lawsuit replete with other salacious details, and a ruptured relationship with a long-time, trusted associate, and you've got the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster. Except in the case of Leonard Cohen, it's a true tale, with the bizarre twist of a Tibetan Buddhist suing a Zen Buddhist, Cohen. For the 70-year-old poet, singer and songwriter, it's a nasty, rapidly escalating legal battle that on the one hand accuses him of conspiracy and extortion, and on the other has him accusing both his highly trusted personal manager and long-time financial adviser -- the Tibetan Buddhist -- of gross mismanagement of his financial affairs. The case exposes not only private details of Cohen's finances, but also a dramatic tale of betrayal.

The conflict was triggered last fall when Cohen was tipped off by an insider that a lot of money was missing from his accounts. All that remained of his retirement savings was the $150,000, funds that today he can't get at as a result of the tangled legal web he finds himself in. Greenberg's suit portrays the soulful songwriter as an artist who paid little attention to his financial affairs and so was easily duped by a conniving personal manager. Cohen says he tried quietly, and confidentially, to find out from his various managers where the money had gone. Cohen calls the case "a tragedy," suggesting he was exploited by trusted advisers. He uses words like "greed, concealment, and reckless disregard," and says firmly he did nothing wrong. "I can assure you, within reason, I took every precaution except to question the fidelity of my closest associates."

- - A 'devastated' Leonard Cohen

Wow. I never figured Leonard Cohen to be a millionaire, but thought all those records would have given him a little dough in the nest-oven. Musicians can be too trusting with their loyalties, I suppose.

Within a couple of days, [Cohen] returned to Los Angeles and immediately went to his bank. There he discovered, as he puts it, "improprieties." [Former business manager Kelley ]Lynch had linked her American Express bill directly to his personal chequing account, he says, and just days before his visit to the bank, he'd paid a $75,000 Amex bill on her behalf. He never learned what purchases the card had been used for, but says the credit card company reimbursed him. Cohen immediately removed Lynch's signing powers on the accounts.

The next day, Cohen told Lynch she no longer had access to the bank accounts and he fired her. That afternoon, Cohen says the bank notified him that Lynch went to a different branch and attempted to withdraw $40,000 from one of his accounts. He then called a lawyer and brought in a forensic accounting firm, Moss-Adams, which, in an investigation of all of Cohen's holdings, discovered "massive improprieties." In all, the accountants discovered about $8.4 million had over time disappeared from his holdings, Cohen says. His retirement funds had been virtually depleted.




Many amazing pieces have come in for the show in LA (which opens October 8th).
We have extended the deadline so that we can fill the gallery salon style with as many pieces as possible.(So if you were waiting until the last minute, here's your chance to send in a piece)
OPEN CALL---Must be Postmarked by Friday 09.16.05
You Are Beautiful Exhibition & Street Installation
Treehouse Gallery
LA, California, USA
October 2005

This is an open call to make your own 'You Are Beautiful' piece. Any size, Any media, Anyone can be involved. The only limitation is that the piece clearly reads 'You Are Beautiful'

Work may be juried for the show itself, but we will include as many pieces as possible. All work will be installed on the streets of LA after the show is over. All pieces installed will be documented and displayed on the website.

All work is due (Postmarked) by Friday, September 16, 2005 in Chicago.
Please include an entry form with your work.

My photo, taken at the Cancer Memorial Park, Grant Park.
Cancer memorial park detail

Mac BU

outside of Apple itself, Microsoft sells more software for Apple's flagship Macintosh computers than any other company. With sales of Macintosh machines rising sharply, archrival Microsoft stands to bolster its long-standing business selling Office and other programs for Mac.

“We're ecumenical people,” said Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates. “We have to run everything. Our first graphics interface was on the Macintosh. We've always done well on Macs.”

Microsoft executives declined to discuss just how well, and the company does not break Mac sales out in its financial reports. But Microsoft's Mac offerings are routinely credited as being more innovative, elegant and robust than its mainline PC products.

They are designed and written mostly in a small warren of offices on Microsoft's sprawling campus here. Apple posters decorate the walls of the Mac Business Unit — a name with none of the evocative verbal polish Apple famously applies to its products.

“We don't see Apple as a rival,” said Scott Erickson, director of product management and marketing for the 200-plus-employee Mac BU. “We see it as another vendor.”
Indeed, the two companies perpetuate the rivalry themselves. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs delights in taking pokes at the software behemoth up north. At a developers' conference in June, Jobs demonstrated a new program for the Mac that counts down the seconds to a chosen date. Setting a countdown clock for Dec. 31, 2006, Jobs said to hearty guffaws, “Let's call this file, I don't know … 'Longhorn',” referring to the code name for Microsoft's next version of the Windows operating system, which has been delayed about two years and is expected late next year.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January, comedian Conan O'Brien joked at a presentation with Gates about going to a bar together: “I got so drunk that I woke up with a hooker; Bill got so drunk he woke up with an Apple computer.”

Chicago Tribune | Mac's Gains a Boon to Microsoft

Of course, there is no guarantee that Microsoft will continue to make products for the Mac. MS has stopped developing Internet Explorer, and I'm sure isn't too happy that Apple's iWork suite (with word processor and presentation software) is a rival to Office.

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Tesco, Britain's largest supermarket, has a 30% share of the food market and is expanding fast, thanks in part to an aggressive discounting program. Wal-Mart-owned Asda Group Ltd., Britain's second-largest retail chain, controls 16% of the market.

“As you get over 30% and higher, I am sure there is a point where government is compelled to intervene, particularly in the U.K., where you have the planning laws that make it difficult to compete,” Scott told the Times of London, adding that “at some point, the government has to look at it.”

Those remarks raised some eyebrows in the United States, where the Bentonville, Ark., retailer is regularly accused of abusing its clout to squeeze pennies out of its supply chain, trounce its competition and expand its sales.

“Wal-Mart is asking for an antitrust investigation of a competitor?” asked Albert Foer, president of the American Antitrust Institute in Washington, a think tank. “How delicious.”

Wal-Mart is known for its super-sized profile. It has the world's largest workforce, 1.6 million at last count, more than the entire population of Montana. And 138 million shoppers visit its 5,379 stores and restaurants worldwide each week, racking up $285 billion in sales in 2004.

The retailer's protestations leave people wondering why it would complain about Tesco, given that any debate over curbing power in the global retail market is likely to shine the spotlight on Bentonville.

“Wal-Mart has done a good job of escaping from close antitrust scrutiny in this country, and a lot of people are wondering whether they are vulnerable in this area,” said Foer, who had persuaded Wal-Mart Chairman S. Robson Walton to address his annual antitrust conference in Washington last year.

Chicago Tribune Retail Giant Cries 'Unfair'

Yeah, OK. Good luck with that.

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Susan Ertz

“He talked with more claret than clarity.”


Moving to foreign climes

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is sounding better and better.

Ecstasy pills sell for 50p each

Ecstasy pills can be bought for as little as fifty pence in some parts of the UK, a drugs survey finds. The price has halved in 12 months, according to its survey of prices in 15 towns and cities...Ecstasy was also cheapest in Portsmouth with pills costing from 50p to £2. However, the place with the cheapest heroin was Sheffield at £25 a gram.

And, old fogie that I am, I've never even done X.


Reviews W Part 7 Waits to Waters

Most daunting projects aren't even worth it

Reviews W Part 6

Not everything matters much....


Soren Kierkegaard

“Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it.”

Dead Leaves contrast

Tomato in Space

Because I just can't read any more about Hurricane Katrina....

Tomato in space

Why don't you go ahead and donate a few dollars. Even a few bucks helps somebody....

Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, United Jewish Communities, United Way, Salvation Army, Humane Society, doesn't matter. Just don't give to Pat Robertson's Operation Blessing

Reviews W Part 5 Who

Just because I'm a sucker

Molly Ivins on the vanishing wetlands

Molly Ivins
has a few choice words for the incompetence and neglect of the current administration:

Chicago Tribune

One of the main reasons New Orleans is so vulnerable to hurricanes is the gradual disappearance of the wetlands on the Gulf Coast that once stood as a natural buffer between the city and storms coming in from the water. The disappearance of those wetlands does not have the name of a political party or a particular administration attached to it. No one wants to play, “The Democrats did it,” or, “It's all Reagan's fault.” Many environmentalists will tell you more than a century's interference with the natural flow of the Mississippi is the root cause of the problem, cutting off the movement of alluvial soil to the river's delta.

But in addition to long-range consequences of long-term policies like letting the Corps of Engineers try to build a better river than God, there are real short-term consequences, as well. It is a fact that the Clinton administration set some tough policies on wetlands, and it is a fact that the Bush administration repealed those policies--ordering federal agencies to stop protecting as many as 20 million acres of wetlands.

Last year, four environmental groups cooperated on a joint report showing the Bush administration's policies had allowed developers to drain thousands of acres of wetlands.

Just plain political bad luck that, in June, Bush took his little ax and chopped $71.2 million from the budget of the New Orleans Corps of Engineers, a 44 percent reduction. As was reported in New Orleans CityBusiness at the time, that meant “major hurricane and flood projects will not be awarded to local engineering firms. Also, a study to determine ways to protect the region from a Category 5 hurricane has been shelved for now.”

The commander of the corps' New Orleans district also immediately instituted a hiring freeze and canceled the annual corps picnic.
In fact, there is now a governmentwide movement away from basing policy on science, expertise and professionalism, and in favor of choices based on ideology. If you're wondering what the ideological position on flood management might be, look at the pictures of New Orleans--it seems to consist of gutting the programs that do anything.

Unfortunately, the war in Iraq is directly related to the devastation left by the hurricane. About 35 percent of Louisiana's National Guard is now serving in Iraq, where four out of every 10 soldiers are guardsmen. Recruiting for the Guard is also down significantly because people are afraid of being sent to Iraq if they join, leaving the Guard even more short-handed.

The Louisiana National Guard also notes that dozens of its high-water vehicles, Humvees, refuelers and generators have also been sent abroad. (I hate to be picky, but why do they need high-water vehicles in Iraq?)

...The levees of New Orleans, two of which are now broken and flooding the city, were also victims of Iraq war spending. Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, said on June 8, 2004, “It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq.”

Of course, the recent massive transportation bill spent billions building pet projects in every Congressman's district, remember?


Right? We can all agree on that, especially after reading stories like:

Chicago Tribune Flood-control funds short of requests

Despite continuous warnings that a catastrophic hurricane could hit New Orleans, the Bush administration and Congress in recent years have repeatedly denied full funding for hurricane preparation and flood control.

That has delayed construction of levees around the city and stymied an ambitious project to improve drainage in New Orleans' neighborhoods.

For instance, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requested $27 million for this fiscal year to pay for hurricane-protection projects around Lake Pontchartrain. The Bush administration countered with $3.9 million, and Congress eventually provided $5.7 million, according to figures provided by the office of U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.).

Because of the shortfalls, which were caused in part by the rising costs of the war in Iraq, the corps delayed seven contracts that included enlarging the levees, according to corps documents.
....Similarly, the Army Corps requested $78 million for this fiscal year for projects that would improve draining and prevent flooding in New Orleans. The Bush administration's budget provided $30 million for the projects, and Congress ultimately approved $36.5 million, according to Landrieu's office.

“I'm not saying it wouldn't still be flooded, but I do feel that if it had been totally funded, there would be less flooding than you have,” said Michael Parker, a former Republican Mississippi congressman who headed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from October 2001 until March 2002, when he was ousted after publicly criticizing a Bush administration proposal to cut the corps' budget.

Even Repuglicans must always walk the Bush party line. No dissent allowed ever- that would be unpatriotic.

A corps plan to shore up the levees began in 1965 and was supposed to be finished in 10 years but remains incomplete. “They've never put enough money in to complete it,” Parker said. He said the corps' budget has been regularly targeted by the White House because public works projects are perceived as pork and aren't considered “sexy.

“Go talk to the people who are suffering in New Orleans,” Parker said. “Ask them do they think it's pork.”

Joseph Suhayda, an emeritus engineering professor at Louisiana State University who has worked for the Army Corps of Engineers, said the corps simply didn't have enough money to build the levees as high as the designs called for.

“The fact that they weren't that high was a result of lack of funding,” he said, noting that part of the levee at the 17th Street Canal--where one of the breaches occurred--was 4 feet lower than the rest. “I think they could have significantly reduced the impact if they had those projects funded. If you need to spend $20 million and you spend $4 or $5 million, something's got to give.”
Fred Caver, who retired in June as the corps' deputy director of civil works, said there is always competition for funding and “you're never going to get everything you want.”

But he said a reluctance to invest in unglamorous public works projects and especially heavy demands on the budget, from the war in Iraq and entitlement programs, have added to the difficulty in securing funding for corps projects.


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