March 2006 Archives


Murray Waas should be on the short list of the Pulitizer, instead, he is ignored by all except the blogosphere.

And Froomkin:

Slowly but surely, investigative reporter Murray Waas has been putting together a compelling narrative about how President Bush and his top aides contrived their bogus case for war in Iraq; how they succeeded in keeping charges of deception from becoming a major issue in the 2004 election; and how they continue to keep most of the press off the trail to this day.

What emerges in Waas's stories is a consistent White House modus operandi: That time and time again, Bush and his aides have selectively leaked or declassified secret intelligence findings that served their political agenda -- while aggressively asserting the need to keep secret the information that would tend to discredit them.

The latest entry in Waas's saga came yesterday in the highly respected National Journal. Waas writes: “Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political adviser, cautioned other White House aides in the summer of 2003 that Bush's 2004 re-election prospects would be severely damaged if it was publicly disclosed that he had been personally warned that a key rationale for going to war had been challenged within the administration.”

This happened, Waas writes, after “then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley determined that Bush had been specifically advised that claims he later made in his 2003 State of the Union address -- that Iraq was procuring high-strength aluminum tubes to build a nuclear weapon -- might not be true.”

The aluminum-tube allegation was perhaps the strongest, most concrete piece of evidence the White House had in its campaign to drive the American public into the proper frame of mind to go to war against a country that had never before been seen as a threat to the national security.

In a March 2 story, Waas documented how Bush had been explicitly informed that the aluminum-tube allegation might not be true well before his State of the Union Address.

Yesterday's new twist is that Rove apparently understood that if American voters found out how Bush had intentionally misled them, the election might be lost. He was intent on not letting that happen.

Waas's narrative also helps explain why the White House felt so compelled to discredit former ambassador Joseph Wilson's charge in May 2003 that another key justification for war was manifestly false.

More of Waas's stories can be found here.

A Compelling Story
...But in the traditional media, the reaction has been utter and complete silence -- both after Waas's well-documented March 2 story, and again today. There's not one word about it in a single major outlet this morning.And that's just not acceptable. Waas's fellow reporters at major news operations should either acknowledge and try to follow up his stories -- or debunk them. It's not okay to just leave them hanging out there. They're too important.

Tags: , /

SBC still sucks

confidential note to my sis: KJ - SBC n/k/a ATT sucks. Don't let their initial low rate fool you. They also will tap your phone, if they haven't already.

Run away!!!

Talk to the hoser, he'll add a few tales of woe to the ones I didn't bother to type up and post.


My Life in the Bush of Ghosts

It had been so many years since I had listened to my vinyl copy of this seminal album that I did not notice one track was missing on the CD version.

My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (Tim Wright, Bill Laswell, Brian Eno, Busta Jones, David Byrne [performer], Brian / Byrne, David Eno, Brian / Byrne, David / Jones, Busta Eno, Chris Frantz, David Van Tieghem, John Cooksey, Prairie Prince)
“My Life in the Bush of Ghosts” (Tim Wright, Bill Laswell, Brian Eno, Busta Jones, David Byrne [performer], Brian / Byrne, David Eno, Brian / Byrne, David / Jones, Busta Eno, Chris Frantz, David Van Tieghem, John Cooksey, Prairie Prince)

Namely, the track called Qu'ran.

Luckily, not everyone is as dense as me, and the song is available (for a limited time) for download here

Some history, from enoweb

The track Qu'ran was later left off the UK cd (and other euro pressings?) over concerns about its religous implications - the track includes a recording of a reading of the Koran and it may be considered insulting some followers of the Koran. It can still be found on the US releases.[B12 editor: not on my US copy, purchased Jan 2003]

On “Qu'ran” -- Qu'ran is the proper spelling of the Muslim book of scripture; “Koran” is an anglicized misspelling as is “Moslem.”

“Very Very Hungry” was subsituted for Qu'ran. This was originally a b-side to a 12“ EP.

Opal Information 12 (Spring 1989) explained: ”A year or so after its release (1980) EG received a serious letter from the World Council of Islam in the UK stating that they considered the recording offensive. Brian Eno and David Byrne explained that no disrespect was intended and immediately agreed to remove the track.“ To put this in context, Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses was published in 1988, with the fatwah declared shortly after.

Gregory Taylor elaborates:

The Islamic Council of Great Britain had approached the record company with a complaint about the use of the ”found“ material [a ritual chanting of the Holy Koran. Actually, I'm surprised that anyone got permission to even tape it in the first place]; There are some expressions of Islam in which *all* music is considered ”haram“ [I think that's the Arabic term, anyway] - or against the teachings of the Koran. There is an argument about whether or not Mohammed (pbuh) stated that ”music“ for use in certain Islamic festivals or special occasions *is* allowable, but that's for folks who know the Surahs better than I.

At any rate, the Islamic Council voiced its strong disapproval of having the original source material used in the way it was used [in some ways, the objection is really quite similar to that raised by Kathryn Kuhlman's estate when they wanted her sermon on Lot and the angels removed from what finally became ”The Jezebel Spirit“], and in the days of watching the Fatwahs [pronouncements of death] fly back and forth, Eno and his pals deemed it meet to exclude it. ”Very Very Hungry“ was added instead. However, my copy of it includes both, so some other judgements must have been made later

(from boingboing, of course)

Spring Fever

| 1 Comment

I have a serious case of spring fever. Second day in a row with temperatures nearly 70 F, sunny, and focusing on work is near impossible. Pending proposal due since last week, and neither D nor myself can force ourselves to sit at a computer long enough to crank it out.

Set me free!!!

sculpture on East Randolph St.

One Green Eye - a turnaround in steel and shadow
One Green Eye - a turnaround in steel and shadow

entrance to LSD/

Tags: , /

Immigration and the underclass

Paul Krugman continues walking his new immigration beat with some thoughts re a permanent nonvoting working class along the lines of France or Dubai. Seems like a bad idea to me - a condition that leads to unrest, riots, or repression. Bad options all.

Paul Krugman: The Road to Dubai
Creating a permanent nonvoting working class would be bad for America's democracy.

For now, at least, the immigration issue is mainly hurting the Republican Party, which is divided between those who want to expel immigrants and those who want to exploit them. The only thing the two factions seem to have in common is mean-spiritedness.

But immigration remains a difficult issue for liberals. Let me say a bit more about the subject of my last column, the uncomfortable economics of immigration, then turn to what really worries me: the political implications of a large nonvoting work force.

Bush War Blues

Have a soft spot in my musical heart for Billy Bragg...

Must I Paint You a Picture? The Essential Billy Bragg

“Must I Paint You a Picture? The Essential Billy Bragg” (Billy Bragg)

Yep Roc Records > News

In 1938, Leadbelly recorded “Bourgeois Blues” to protest the racism he encountered in Washington, D.C. Seven decades later, England's premiere folk-punk-poet-bard Billy Bragg noticed a few things going on in the U.S. capital that rubbed him the wrong way. On his current sold-out American tour, Billy has been performing his own version of “Bourgeois Blues” with a modern twist.

Being a man of action, Billy ducked into Big Sky Recordings in Ann Arbor, Mich., on March 22 and laid down “Bush War Blues,” with lyrics adapted to express his condemnation of the war in Iraq. His voice husky from his hefty touring schedule, Billy originally attributed the song to a newly-created alter ego, Johnny Clash.

Yep Roc Records is very happy to make the song available free to Billy's fans, just a few days after it was recorded.

MP3 here (or here)

(via BoingBoing)

Tags: , /

City from Hell

Intolerance is one of my religions worst sins. Meaning, I shouldn't care about what a group of religious nutters do with their empty lives....

Catholic billionaire envisions city of God
The founder of Ave Maria, Fla., plans a university and town devoted to strict religious values.

America's newest town is rising up in the midst of a dusty tomato field in southwest Florida. And if the Catholics building it have their way, this ultraconservative community with a 65-foot crucifix at its center will be the closest thing to hell on Earth.

The town, to be anchored by a new Roman Catholic university, is mostly the vision of Domino's Pizza founder Tom Monaghan, a devout Catholic who is pouring $400 million of his personal fortune into the project. Insisting that he is doing God's will, Monaghan, who is well-known in conservative political and religious circles, has staked his reputation on the controversial project, the latest of his many philanthropic ventures designed to spread conservative Christian values around the world.


Howard Simon, executive director of the Florida ACLU, said there is no problem with people of like mind creating a community and living together. He said problems arise when there is no separation between religion and government, which is clearly outlined in the Constitution. The Supreme Court ruled in 1994 that a group of Hasidic Jews in upstate New York could not receive government school funding because their town, Kiryas Joel, was organized around sectarian religious principles.

“This is not just about the sale of contraceptives in the local pharmacy, it is about whether in an incorporated town there will be a fusion of religion and government. It is a question of whether not just people living there but others who use the facilities, make purchases in the pharmacy and attend public schools will be required to live by religious rule,” Simon said.

“Will they honor living wills of those whose wishes differ from their views? Will they provide emergency contraception for victims of rape or even advise them of the availability? We could be looking at the prospect of medical decisions made not in the best interest of the patient but by a doctor practicing medicine with one hand tied behind his back.”

Florida Atty. Gen. Charlie Crist has said problems that may arise in the future likely will be decided by the courts.

Add Ave Maria, Florida to the list of places I won't be visiting....

Could you imagine growing up as a goth teen, or something equally as deviant? Like being an environmentalist or worse, a liberal? Nothing good will come of this place. Either some Jim Jones type mass suicide (with salvia-laced communion wafers - kidding), or priest molesting cases, or who knows what. Just seems like an evil, intolerant place. Maybe it is being built on a Native American burial ground or worse. I could be wrong, but fuck it.

Tags: , /, /

Christian Taliban


part the 3234th. - Sex-Ed Class Becomes Latest School Battleground A push to promote sexual abstinence in teens -- backed by a steady increase in federal funding -- is starting to affect the way sex ed is taught in the U.S.

In middle schools and high schools across the country, sex-ed classes that discuss birth control as a way to prevent pregnancy and sexual diseases are increasingly being replaced or supplemented by curricula that promote abstinence until marriage and discuss contraceptives primarily in terms of their failure rates.

and thanks again, all ye idiots who voted for Big-Daddy-Protector-Bush. This is what you voted for:

In January, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services effectively tightened its restrictions on what abstinence courses can teach. In a request for grant applications, new and detailed guidelines said that an acceptable curriculum should include teaching about “the potential psychological side effects (e.g., depression and suicide) associated with adolescent sexual activity” and stress points such as the following: “Non-marital sex in teen years may reduce the probability of a stable, happy marriage as an adult” and “Teen sexual activity is associated with decreased school completion, decreased educational attainment and decreased income potential.

which of course, is a bit of a stretch to assert as fact that teens who put out are one-step removed from flunking out of school. I did alright in high school, thank you, (honor student and all that) and I was lucky enough to get my rocks off.

These statements “misuse” scientific data, says John Santelli, a professor of pediatrics and of population and family health at Columbia University, as well as a former official at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “There may be some truth to the associations they draw, but their conclusions are confused,” he says.

Tags: , /, /

Site problems and Salvia

Most of today my site has been non-functional, with the error

Bad ObjectDriver config: Connection error: Too many connections

precluding me from posting, editing, or configuring my site. Coincidentally, 11109 comments have been attempted, but only 1 managed to get posted today, namely someone calling me an idiot for suggesting that people smoke salvia. Not entirely sure that this commenter was the culprit, but am slightly suspicious.

I don't know Brett Chidester, RIP, but emotional response of his family notwithstanding, I cannot help but think he died for more complicated reasons than simply smoking a meditative drug. I remember being 17, and it wasn't an easy time, adjusting to impending adulthood (I moved out of my parents home when I was 17 and a half - as a stupidly optimistic physics freshman). Life is complicated, with complicated, convoluted choices to make every morning, and many young folks choose suicide instead of muddling through. Some, like our President, learn to edit out the grey, ignore the nuance, and believe in a binary world, but that is the rare exception.

Anyway, yadda yadda. Hope the script kiddies or whomever decide to focus their rage on more high profile targets, and allow my blather and solipsism to emerge full-blown from my forehead (or thigh) like Pallas Athena. Editing is for suckers.

Tags: , /

Press releases

(test post - to be deleted).

Press Releases may not be of the same use as previously, but they certainly exist in an altered environment. However, if you do text searches on phrases from press releases, you will find them on various blogs. And as long as the traditional media uses press releases as the basis of stories, there will be a need for PR. Some companies release them on RSS enabled feeds (like Apple, for instance) so as to get wider audiences.

A Moron in a hurry

In an alternate universe, one where I swallowed my aversion to our litigious society, and put my liberal arts degree to good use and became an attorney, I would have loved to use a put-down like this, in a speech saved into the public record.

Apple Lawyers Argue Case in U.K. Court

An Apple lawyer said “even a moron in a hurry” could distinguish between the company's iTunes music store and a record label like The Beatles' Apple Corps, as the trademark trial continued.

Not good practice

If this allegation is true, I'll be pissed. I took the time to upload about 100 large resolution Photoshop files to Kodak recently (for use as presents mostly - calendars, whatnots), and if Kodak downsampled the images before sending the pictures to their intended recipients, I want a refund. MoFos. - Lawsuit Is Filed Against Kodak
A former Eastman Kodak Co. manager says that the company altered millions of photographs stored by customers on the popular EasyShare Gallery Web site and that she was fired after threatening to bring her concerns about the plan to top management.

In a lawsuit filed in California superior court in Oakland, Maya Raber, the former director of engineering for EasyShare Gallery, said that Kodak planned to secretly compress the digital-photograph images stored by customers of the Web site, a process she says can irreversibly damage the images. The suit alleges that she and other employees warned of the potential damage the compression could cause, but higher-ups pushed the plan along.
Ms. Raber claims some of the photographic images that are uploaded on the EasyShare Web site are still being compressed and potentially damaged. She says customers are not told of the possible damage.

“I thought it was deceiving and illegal,” Ms. Raber said in an interview. She said the idea to compress photo images was part of a cost-cutting plan that would allow the company to save money on photo-imaging storage costs. Ms. Raber claims Kodak used misleading advertising pitches to lure customers to the site.

She says compressed images can permanently lose sharpness and appear grainy when reproduced. An internal panel found the results to be unsatisfactory, Ms. Raber claims. Kodak declined to comment on any effects of compression on the photos.

Ms. Raber, of course, was subsequently fired, and is suing for wrongful termination.


And They Cook, Too

| 1 Comment

Ginger Mayerson, and friends, has compiled and self-published ablogger webzine cook book called And They Cook, Too, sales of which will be donated to everybody's favorite charity, Medecins Sans Frontieres.

And they cook too

And They Cook, Too A blogger cookbook fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders

Why a cookbook? Well, it's not just a step-by-step collection of wonderful dishes that will grace any table, but the varied and beautiful voices of some of the best bloggers online. Some of these recipes tell a story, some explore the idea of food, some just tell you how to cook it, but all of these recipes have been blogger tested, tweaked, and perfected, sometimes for years. I am deeply honored to present them in this fundraiser cookbook for Doctors Without Borders.

Check it out


Wiki note

From Make Magazine, some thoughts on setting up one's own wiki - something being considered here. Though, from a cursory glance, this tutorial is windows-centric, and thus might suck.

HOW TO - Set up your own personal Wikipedia Gina on Lifehacker has a great guide on setting up your own Wiki - could be really handy for collaborative projects and other Maker activities. “The software that runs Wikipedia, called MediaWiki, is freely available for anyone to install. - Lifehacker - Set up your own wikipedia.


Life is for the living

More busy days, spent in meetings, in transit to meetings, or preparing for meetings. In lieu of actual blog webzine content, here instead are a few snapshots from a recent evening stroll.

Waste of a Smile
Waste of a Smile

Exit Strategy - a symphony in red, gold and blue
Exit Strategy - a symphony in red, gold and blue

Urban Evenings, Pale Beer
Urban Evenings, Pale Beer

click photo(s) to embiggen

Tags: , /

Weinberger to Step Down

Ummm, I suppose Jim Brady is in charge of the obituary database too. I mean, unless it was intentional to post this story from 1987 instead of the current news of Mr. Weinberger's death. Still think it is a pretty odd choice to title the headline “Weinberger to Step Down”. Maybe a euphemism for hell?

Weinberger to Step Down: Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger has decided to resign because of the deteriorating health of his wife, Jane, and President Reagan is expected to name national security adviser Frank C. Carlucci as the new defense secretary, administration officials said last night. ... Weinberger, 70, has held a powerful seat in Reagan's Cabinet, enhanced in part by his long personal relationship with the president and his easy access to the Oval Office. As defense secretary, Weinberger served as a strong advocate for Reagan's ambitious $ 2 trillion rearmament program, even in the face of growing pressure for cutbacks from a Congress worried about the deficit.

Aided by former Assistant Secretary Richard N. Perle, Weinberger was also a frequent opponent of arms control proposals advocated by Secretary of State George P. Shultz, and he was particularly forceful in resisting limits on the president's missile defense program, the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI).

While officials said Weinberger's departure is not the result of pressure from within the administration, it may presage a new approach to arms control in the final year of Reagan's presidency. Carlucci, who previously served as deputy defense secretary under Weinberger, is known within the administration as a more pragmatic and flexible policymaker than Weinberger on arms control issues.

And, of course, the resignation in 1987 had nothing to do with the Iran-Contra scandal, nothing at all.

Technorati Tags:

Frist is an ass


I pray to all gods, metaphoric, and otherwise, that Bill Frist is not good friends with Diebold (some good images here). If Frist becomes President-select in 2008, I am taking to the fucking streets. Or something equally as drastic. Frist is a confirmed, proud cat killer. The man is a menace, a fancy-pants menace, even more so than the Dauphin.

Frist love
Don't let your cat be turned over to the evil Dr. Frist for experiments!!

People For the American Way - Comprehensive Immigration Reform Is within Reach, but Obstacles Remain

...But a number of obstacles still stand in the way of comprehensive reform. The first is Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who is desperately seeking a base going into the Republican presidential primary. Senator Frist, looking to cash in on the anti-immigration fervor on the far right...has been using his power as majority leader to obstruct the committee's work by short-circuiting the legislative process. He took the unusual and drastic step of bypassing the committee, introducing a reactionary, "enforcement-only" bill, and immediately filing cloture on a motion to proceed to his bill.

The problem with "enforcement-only" immigration reform

We've been down the "enforcement-only" path before. In fact, it's the path we've been on for the past 20 years, and it has taken us to where we are today. During the past decade alone, as the nation's immigration problems mounted, we tripled the number of agents on the border, quintupled their budget, toughened enforcement strategies, and built fences and other fortifications around urban entry points. It's a profound understatement to say that this strategy has done little to yield any positive change.

The mean-spirited legislation offered by Frist in the Senate and Sensenbrenner in the House promises more of the same, but with a higher price tag and yet more draconian tactics. The legislation would limit due process and legal rights for immigrants, criminalize individuals and organizations that provide aid to undocumented immigrants (including churches that offer food and shelter), make criminals out of the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants who already live and work in and contribute to communities across our nation, and make citizenship more difficult to obtain for deserving immigrants. But even the most ruthless and effective tactics cannot compensate for a flawed strategy.

Enforcement is only feasible under a system of sensible laws that recognizes economic, security, and family needs. Laws that facilitate legal immigration cause a reduction in the flow of illegal immigration, narrowing the scope of the problem. The resources used for enforcement could then be focused on those offenders who pose a serious threat to the nation's security, rather than on family members seeking to reunite or workers seeking to fill gaps in our labor market, thereby returning order and stability to our chaotic immigration system.

and via an email alert:

After a remarkable marathon session, the Senate Judiciary Committee came to an agreement on a comprehensive immigration reform bill that includes a path to earned citizenship, an accelerated family reunification program, and a guest worker program. This bill complicates Senator Frist's attempts to ram through an enforcement-only measure intended to bolster his 2008 presidential bid.

The Judiciary Committee's action comes after an incredible groundswell of grassroots support for fair and realistic immigration reform, including the almost 30,000 messages sent by PFAW activists. Yesterday, students walked out of classes in states from Michigan to Texas to Virginia in protest of Senator Frist's approach. Massive protests have erupted from coast to coast in recent days: Over 500,000 people surrounded Los Angeles' City Hall this weekend; 100,000 marched in Denver; and more than 50,000 turned out for a rally last weekend in Chicago. Milwaukee, Phoenix, Trenton, and many other cities have seen some of the largest rallies in recent memory.

previous discussion here

Technorati Tags: ,

Teamsters Sue Pfizer

Wow, doesn't look like a good time to be a Pfizer marketing executive.

Teamsters Sue Pfizer Over Alleged Illegal Marketing: The Teamsters union sued Pfizer yesterday, alleging that it has been defrauded into paying for Lipitor prescriptions that were written for unapproved uses that Pfizer illegally promoted.

The suit requests class action status, and alleges that Medicare and Medicaid also paid for prescriptions that were written “off-label,” meaning for uses not approved by the federal government.

The suit’s consequences are potentially enormous---the cholesterol-fighting brand has nearly $13 billion in sales annually, making up about one-fifth of all Pfizer’s revenues. It is the world’s No. 1 best-selling drug.

The suit is complicated, hinging on the arcane language that details under what conditions Lipitor should be taken, according to the Food and Drug Administration...It alleges that Lipitor was only approved for use in certain populations. One such population is defined as those whose cholesterol “LDL” level is “160 ml/dL” or higher. However, the suit claims, Pfizer created marketing materials that suggested Lipitor be used in patients with LDL levels of 130 ml/dL---thus including millions more people than the government had intended.

One curious aspect to the suit is that the plaintiffs—the union’s welfare fund for Local 863 in New Jersey, among others—claim that Pfizer’s off-label activity was conducted in an open, seemingly above-board manner, via seminars, slideshows, analyst conference calls and sales materials.

Usually, when off label allegations are made against drug marketers, the claims revolve around nebulous situations where the company may have looked the other way while its representatives made inappropriate claims for the medicine.

Technorati Tags: ,

Beatles suck


Not even wearing my partisan Mac-user hat, I think this lawsuit stinks. Are the Beatles really so desperate and money-grubbing as to sue Apple Computer for deigning to be involved in digital music? The iTunes store doesn't even sell Beatles music. Apple ought to release a mashup version of “All You Need is Lawyers” using Warren Zevon and John Lennon's voice, available as the free Tuesday download. - Apple, Beatles Face Off Over iTunes Music Store
Apple Corps Ltd., the Beatles' record company and guardian of the band's musical heritage and business interests, is suing Apple Computer Inc., claiming the company violated a 1991 agreement by entering the music business with its iTunes online music store.

The case will be heard by Judge Martin Mann, who said during pretrial hearings that he was the owner of an iPod digital music player, which is used with the iTunes music store.

At issue is a 1991 pact that ended a long-running trademark fight between the two Apples in which each agreed not to tread on the other's toes by entering into a “field of use'' agreement over the trademark.

London-based Apple Corps said in a statement that ”unfortunately, Apple and Apple Corps now have differing interpretations of this agreement and will need to ask a court to resolve this dispute.“


Tags: , /, /

Our Corporate Overlords

via their servants, the Congress, seem determined to bankrupt the U.S. Treasury.

Tall statue aka Our Onion-headed Overlords

Big Oil's Big Windfall - New York Times A public already groaning under huge deficits does not need more red ink. An oil industry already rolling in record profits does not need more tax breaks. But both are sure to happen unless some way can be found to claw back from a decade's worth of Congressional and administrative blunders, aggressive lobbying and industry greed.

According to a detailed account in Monday's Times by Edmund L. Andrews, oil companies stand to gain a minimum of $7 billion and as much as $28 billion over the next five years under an obscure provision in last year's giant energy bill that allows companies to avoid paying royalties on oil and gas produced in the Gulf of Mexico. The provision received almost no Congressional debate

why the fuck not?

However, in what appears to have been a bureaucratic blunder [intentional, or not?], the Clinton administration omitted that crucial escape clause in all offshore leases signed between the government and the oil companies in 1998 and 1999. It seemed a harmless mistake at a time when oil prices were still below $20 a barrel. But times changed. Prices have been above the cutoff point since 2002, and an estimated one-sixth of the production in the Gulf of Mexico is still exempt from royalties for no good reason whatsoever.

That blunder was compounded, again and again. First, a court decision in 2003 effectively doubled the amount of oil and gas exempted from royalties. Then the Bush administration offered special exemptions for “deep gas” producers, drilling more than 15,000 feet below the sea bottom. Then came the 2005 energy bill, which essentially locked in the old incentives for five more years. ...But some companies seem to want more. A lawsuit filed by Kerr-McGee Exploration and Production would greatly expand the royalty relief. If the suit succeeds, the lost revenue may rise to as much as $28 billion.

I'm not sure if the original 'mistake' was all that unintentional, more likely, the Clintonites figured nobody would mind a little energy company give-away since the economy was booming in the 90s, and what better way to get political donations from the mostly Republican energy companies? Of course, our current mal-government hasn't made anything better.

Tags: , /

North of the Border

Krugman discusses immigration, no doubt because of the massive demonstrations over the weekend (and earlier - I have some photos from an previous march that passed by my office last September), but doesn't offer any solutions. Are we the same nation as existed in the late 1900s? No probably not. Would my ancestors, those who came over during the Irish potato famine at least, have been welcomed in today's America? Probably not - they were undoubtedly unskilled workers all.


Anyway, Krugman writes:

Paul Krugman: North of the Border - New York Times
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” wrote Emma Lazarus, in a poem that still puts a lump in my throat. I'm proud of America's immigrant history, and grateful that the door was open when my grandparents fled Russia.

In other words, I'm instinctively, emotionally pro-immigration. But a review of serious, nonpartisan research reveals some uncomfortable facts about the economics of modern immigration, and immigration from Mexico in particular. If people like me are going to respond effectively to anti-immigrant demagogues, we have to acknowledge those facts.

First, the net benefits to the U.S. economy from immigration, aside from the large gains to the immigrants themselves, are small. Realistic estimates suggest that immigration since 1980 has raised the total income of native-born Americans by no more than a fraction of 1 percent.

update: Froomkin discusses a potential legislative dust-up, pitting Bush vs. Republicans, complete with his usual number of links elsewhere, yadda yadda.

For all the talk of a Republican congressional rebellion, President Bush hasn't yet lost a significant legislative battle on Capitol Hill.

This week may change all that.

Bush sees a comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws as a top priority for his second term and he is pushing hard for an approach that includes both stepped-up border security and a guest-worker program. The goal is to cut down on illegal immigration while satisfying business interests -- and doing so in a way that can plausibly be described as compassionate.

But it's not looking good on the Hill.

Genetic Engineering

| 1 Comment

As follow up on Michael Pollan's hunting experience excerpt, here is a sampling of an interview of Mr. Pollan, conducted about a year ago, including this astute observation about how the DLC and the Clinton Democrats sold out the country's health in the name of profits and/or lobbyist dollars:

TomDispatch - Tomgram: Following the Food Chain with Michael Pollan: Look at an issue I know something about, genetic engineering. Why was its introduction into our food supply not a contested fight in America?

Over labeling that would say that the food was genetically engineered?

About labeling, but also, before that, about whether we should even approve this technology. The reason there was not a fight is because both political parties were on board for it. The Republicans were predictably pro-business and anti-regulation. And the Democrats had allied themselves with the biotechnology industry, had picked it as one of the growth industries in the early 1990s. Also, the biotech industry, in the person of Robert Shapiro, the president of Monsanto, was very close to Clinton and his administration.

The key moment, when the rules and regulations were being decided for the industry, came at the end of the first Bush administration and the beginning of the first Clinton administration. Both parties agreed that the industry should proceed with as little regulation as possible. The result was that biotech was introduced with no political debate and remarkably little journalistic attention.

The larger meaning here is that mainstream journalists simply cannot talk about things that the two parties agree on; this is the black hole of American politics. Genetically modified crops were in the black hole until the Europeans reacted so strongly against them; then we began to have a little bit of politics around the issue, but still not very much. The things journalists should pay attention to are the issues the political leadership agrees on, rather than to their supposed antagonisms.

I think some liberals have forgotten what a schmuck Clinton actually was - he was very much a Rockefeller Democrat, and only was subsequently lionized because of the monica harmonica thing.

Read more of Michael Pollan's interview here

cannabinoid moment

From the Department of No Comment.

Author Michael Pollan writes of his experience hunting wild boar, probably as an excerpt from his newly published book:

The Omnivore's Dilemma : A Natural History of Four Meals (Michael  Pollan)

“The Omnivore's Dilemma : A Natural History of Four Meals” (Michael Pollan)

The Modern Hunter-Gatherer - New York Times Walking with a loaded rifle in an unfamiliar forest bristling with the signs of your prey is thrilling. It embarrasses me to write that, but it is true. I am not by nature much of a noticer, yet here, now, my attention to everything around me, and deafness to everything else, is complete. ....

Why boar? The animals were introduced to California by the Spanish in the early 1700's and today are regarded as pests in many parts of the state; it seemed to me easier to justify killing an exotic pest than a native species. Though the pigs have been living wild a long time, they are not technically wild or even full-blooded boar; feral pigs would be more accurate. They are also, by reputation, vicious; one of the nicknames the California pig has earned is “dog ripper.”

When I asked Angelo why he hunted wild pig, he didn't hesitate (or say word one about the environment); rather, he just kissed the tips of his fingers and said: “Because it is the most delicious meat. And there is nothing that tastes so good as boar prosciutto. You'll see. You shoot a big one, and we'll make some.”

and what caught me eye -

...When I could hear Angelo's footsteps no longer, my ears and eyes started tuning in — everything. It was as if I'd dialed up the gain on all my senses, or quieted myself to such an extent that the world itself grew louder and brighter. I quickly learned to filter out the static of birdsong, of which there was plenty at that early hour, and to listen for the frequency of specific sounds — the crack of branches or the snuffling of animals. I found I could see farther into the woods than I ever had before, picking out the tiniest changes in my visual field at an almost inconceivable distance, just so long as those changes involved movement or blackness. The sharpness of focus and depth of field was uncanny, though, being nearsighted, I knew it well from the experience of putting on glasses with a strong new prescription for the first time. “Hunter's eye,” Angelo said later when I described the phenomenon; he knew all about it.

I found a shaded spot overlooking the wallow and crouched down in the leaves, steadying my back against the smooth trunk of a madrone. I rested my gun across my thighs and got quiet. The whoosh of air through my nostrils suddenly sounded calamitous, so I began inhaling and exhaling through my mouth, silencing my breath. So much sensory information was coming into my head that it seemed to push out the normal buzz of consciousness. The state felt very much like meditation, though it took no mental effort or exercise to achieve that kind of head-emptying presence. The simple act of looking and listening, tuning my senses to the forest frequencies of Pig, occupied every quadrant of mental space and anchored me to the present. I must have lost track of time, because the 20 minutes flashed by. Ordinarily my body would have rebelled at being asked to hold a crouch this long, but I felt no need to change position or even to shift my weight.

Later it occurred to me that this mental state, which I quite liked, in many ways resembled the one induced by marijuana: the way your senses feel heightened and the mind seems to forget everything outside the scope of its present focus, including physical discomfort and the passing of time. One of the more interesting areas of research in the neurosciences today is the study of the brain's “cannabinoid network,” a set of receptors in the nervous system that are activated by a group of unusual compounds called cannabinoids. THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, is one, and the brain produces its own: a neurotransmitter called anandamide. Whether made by the plant or the brain, cannabinoids have the effect of intensifying sensory experience, disabling short-term memory and stimulating appetite. Scientists still aren't certain what the evolutionary utility of such a system might be. Some researchers hypothesize that the cannabinoids, like the opiates, play a role in the brain's pain relief and reward system; others that they help regulate appetite or emotion.

The experience of hunting suggests another explanation. Could it be that the cannabinoid network is precisely the sort of adaptation that natural selection would favor in the evolution of a creature who survives by hunting? A brain chemical that sharpens the senses, narrows your mental focus, allows you to forget everything extraneous to the task at hand (including physical discomfort and the passage of time) and makes you hungry would seem to be the perfect pharmacological tool for Man the Hunter. All at once it provides the motive, the reward and the optimal mind-set for hunting. I would not be the least bit surprised to discover that what I was feeling in the woods that morning, crouching against a tree, avidly surveying that forest grove, was a tide of anandamide washing over my brain.

But whether I was actually having a cannabinoid moment or not, in the minutes before Angelo's whistle pierced my vigil I did feel as if I had somehow entered nature through a new door. For once I was not a spectator but a full participant in the life of the forest. Later, when I reread Ortega y Gasset's description of the experience, I decided maybe he wasn't so crazy after all, not even when he asserted that hunting offers us our last best chance to leave behind history and return to the state of nature, if only for a time — for what he called a “vacation from the human condition.”

The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World (Michael Pollan)
“The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World” (Michael Pollan)

Ok, I will say that I've eaten wild boar while in Tuscany staying with the Bacci family, and it was quite tasty. Delectable almost.

Tags: , /

The Roof was on fire

The main problem with this joke is that Clinton's staff actually did not remove all the Ws from the keyboards in the transition period from Clinton to Gore Bush. I can't decide if that makes the joke funnier, or what.

Tom Toles Cartoons - (
Tom Toles The Roof Was On Fire

Technorati Tags: ,

Creative Geology

Busy day again for me, but didn't want to let this pass without note. Ed Brayton has some good stuff re the Flood and science. Apparently, the two (Biblical evidence vs. geology) don't really have a meeting of the minds, willful misreading by some Christian-Taliban types notwithstanding.

Dispatches from the Culture Wars: Those Bad Flood Geology Arguments
Over at In The Agora, in the comments on Eric's post replying to me about slavery and the Bible, a commenter named lawyerchik1 has cut and pasted a bunch of arguments for a global flood from the ICR. Like all flood geology arguments, they require serious ignorance of geology and the evidence in order to be viewed as the least bit compelling. Let's take them one by one.
Further, all the mountains of the world have been under water at some time or times in the past, as indicated by sedimentary rocks and marine fossils near their summits. Even most volcanic mountains with their pillow lavas seem largely to have been formed when under water.

I'm always amused by this argument. Yes, the rock that makes up mountains is sedimentary and many mountain ranges have sedimentary layers at or near the top that have marine fossils within them. And yes, this means that those layers were in fact deposited underwater. Does this mean they were deposited by the flood? Of course not. This is very common argument among young earthers and it needs a careful and detailed account of why it's so completely wrongheaded.

Read the rest of his compelling arguments yerself.

Tags: , /

Drool time

A friend showed us his just-purchased Panasonic HD P2 Video camera (AG-HVX200 model, I think). No disk, no tape, gives the footage to his clients on a portable hard drive. He showed off some roughs he shot yesterday for a upcoming commercial, amazingly clear picture. I had never seen HD before, but I foresee it taking off in popularity, eventually. The actors looked like they were actually inside the monitor, trapped behind glass in some theater of the absurd.

Can I have one of these cameras, please? It is almost my birthday. I'm not about to become a commercial videographer, I don't think, but this camera looks like a lot of fun to have (in an alternate universe where I have unlimited cash flow).

Though, I have to ask how many minutes he can record at a time.


Tags: , /

Spotlight reindex

| 1 Comment

Bound-to-be-useful tidbit from MacOSXHints user giskard22:

To tell Spotlight to re-index, open Terminal and type:

sudo mdutil -E /

sudo mdutil -i on /

Chicago Fire Brick
this photo has nothing to do with technobabble. Well, unless you're talking about how it appears on your screen.

I had somehow corrupted my Spotlight index weeks ago, but was too lazy to look up how to recreate it. Until now - it is busily reindexing (5 hours for my intra-net drive).

Spotlight busily reindexing

John Siracusa has an in-depth look at Spotlight at ars technica if you are interested.

Tags: , /

Won't somebody think of the children

Oooh, we just knew this was going to happen soon. Just a matter of time before the federal government will join in the fun too.

WGMD Radio News 92.7 FM: The Talk of Delmarva
The state Senate [of Deleware] is going to consider a bill outlawing a hallucinogenic herb involved in a Wilmington student's death. Senator Karen Peterson named the bill Brett's Law after 17-year-old Brett Chidester who began smoking “salvia divinorum” last summer. His parents say the drug eventually convinced him life was pointless. He committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning in January. The drug would be listed as a Schedule I controlled substance

Tags: , /, /

Bill Walton-itess

Funny little essay at the Detroit Bad Boys about the pompous gas-bag NBA announcer, Deadhead, and former NBA great, Bill Walton. I've also grown to appreciate the on-air schtick of Walton, but its palatability depends on his announcing partners being up for the challenge. Walton needs to have someone to deflate his rhetorical balloons, at least sometimes.

Bill Walton is my hero For a long time, I was in the camp of the Bill Walton haters. I seethed every time I heard him laud praise upon Kazaam or fall at the feet of Kobe Bryant…I mean, Mamba. I chose to watch games on mute rather than hear his man-love for Coach Wooden seep into whichever game he was talking over. The incessant stammering coupled with the goofy, Deadhead persona made him unbearable. It seemed even his play-by-play partners were beside themselves at his stupidity.

But something happened along the way that caused me to reconsider my disdain for Big Red; I actually turned the volume up and listened to one of his games. And in doing so, I realized quickly that the joke was on me, that my naivete and/or blind-hate had kept me from appreciating Walton for what he is: a willing punchline. His hyperbole, his non-sequitors, his uncomfortable hetero-crushes–Walton is just playing along, throwing humorous tidbits against the wall to see which ones stick.

read more, including some good quotes, if you can take white type on black background.

Tags: , /

Mad Cow Disease


George Bush's Trillion-Dollar War

What's a few dollars when Freedom is on the March? Glad we have such competent, business oriented, leadership, our MBA President, and all that twaddle. Oh wait, I forgot, this is the Enron Presidency, in more ways than seven (you can count them up yourself).

Bob Herbert: George Bush's Trillion-Dollar War:

The meter's running on Iraq. We're at a trillion dollars, and counting.

Call it the trillion-dollar war.

George W. Bush's war in Iraq was never supposed to be particularly expensive. Administration types tossed out numbers like $50 billion and $60 billion. When Lawrence Lindsey, the president's chief economic adviser, said the war was likely to cost $100 billion to $200 billion, he was fired.

Some in the White House tried to spread the fantasy that Iraqi oil revenues would pay for the war. Paul Wolfowitz, the former deputy defense secretary and a fanatical hawk, told Congress that Iraq was “a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.”

The president and his hot-for-war associates were as wrong about the money as they were about the weapons of mass destruction.

Technorati Tags:

Busy morning


so enjoy some recent snaps of the City on the Make (nickname courtesy of

Nelson Algren

Nelson Algren

Or don't enjoy them, entirely up to you. As always, clicking the photo leads to embiggening....

Gateway to the clouds.

Reflections at night
The Merchandise Mart reflected on the Chicago River, version number 2354, at least.

Sublingual B
Sublingual B12 melts on ones tongue, orange.

Technorati Tags:

chemical plant plan

| 1 Comment

Chertoff opens mouth, lies, spouts industry talking points. Is anyone surprised?


Chertoff touts chemical plant plan - The Boston Globe
Speaking at a forum cosponsored by the main lobbying arm of the $460 billion chemical industry, Michael Chertoff said it's not enough to rely on chemical plant owners to voluntarily secure their properties.

In the nearly five years since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he said, some companies have upgraded their security, but others have lagged behind.

Several proposals to require all major chemical facilities to improve their security are pending in the Republican-controlled Congress, where similar bills have died in each session since Sept. 11, amid heavy resistance to imposing new regulations on the industry....

But, he said, any such bill would have to meet ''core principles“ -- including the notion that the government should avoid ''micromanaging” private businesses. Chemical plant owners themselves, he said, should be left to make decisions about how to secure their own facilities, so long as their plans meet the government's performance standard.

And under no circumstances, Chertoff said, should plant owners be told they must switch to inherently safer chemicals in their manufacturing process -- even if doing so would eliminate the risks to surrounding residential areas and come at little or no extra cost to the company.

''There are a lot of ways to skin a cat, and we're going to let the chemical industry figure out how to skin the cat as long as the cat gets skinned,“ Chertoff said.

But critics said Chertoff's proposal was essentially written by the chemical industry and avoids more sweeping solutions to the possibility that terrorists could unleash a toxic cloud.

Nicholas Ashford, the director of the Technology and Law Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said it would be better to pass no law at all than to create a ''false sense of security.”

''You have to create a duty for companies to make an earnest search for safer technologies,“ Ashford said.
Rick Hind, the toxics campaign director for Greenpeace, criticized Chertoff, saying he was ''just repeating the talking points of what has been a full-court press of chemical and oil industry lobbying activity.”
The guidelines from the council, the industry's main lobbying group, focus on better securing their plants' perimeters, and the council supports forcing laggards to follow suit so that everyone is making the same financial investment in security.

But the industry has also resisted calls for the government to mandate more sweeping changes, including forcing companies to substitute less toxic chemicals where possible in their manufacturing process or to store smaller amounts at their plants. Critics said Chertoff's proposal amounted to letting the industry off the hook

And in a surprising-to-nobody coincidence, everyone's favorite Rockefeller Democrat, Holy Joe Lieberman is the sponsor of a bill that mirrors the industry lobby's position.

The leading bill, which largely matches Chertoff's proposal, would force companies to comply with national security standards and is sponsored in the Senate by Susan M. Collins, Republican of Maine, and Joseph I. Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut.

A House version is sponsored by Christopher H. Shays, Republican of Connecticut, and James R. Langevin, Democrat of Rhode Island.

..Companies would come up with their own security plans, which Homeland Security would approve.

Oh goody, an industry policing itself. Can't see anything wrong with that....

Tags: , /, /

Our declining national media


I've been clucking and shaking my head for a while at the once-proud Washington Post, and their decline into national laughing stock, apparently it more of a steep decline than previously noted. First, there was a little dust-up because the columnist Dan Froomkin (one of the few WaPo entries in my RSS reader) was 'too liberal' or something, which is partially truth, at best; then in apparent response, the Post hired a mouth-breathing Republican partisan to provide balance. Or in other words, the Post's response to criticism of employing a slightly left of center reporter (Froomkin) was to hire an extremely right wing hack, who has never been a reporter. Nice equation there.

Well, this hack apparently is one of those guys who want to return to the 13th century, and bring the rest of us with him...

Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal: The Washington Post's Master Plan Unfolds...

Yesterday we saw the opening act of the Washington Post's master plan to discredit the right by giving airspace to Ben Domenech. Today we see the second act begin, as P.Z. Myers outs Domenech as somebody who (a) lies about the work and views of Stephen Jay Gould, and (b) is an out-and-out creationist who “take[s] Genesis literally” and believes that the “theory of evolution is a total crock”:
It's time to demand that Domenech give answers to the most pressing question of our day: Were there rainbows before Noah's flood?

Josh Marshall has a succinct summary of yesterday's announcement

The Washington Post, or rather its online incarnation, has managed to capture the essence of the silliness of the 'media bias' debate in one easily digestible set-piece of its own making.

The right mau-maus Dan Froomkin's online column, gets the wet-behind-the-ears ombudsman to write a really silly column making her own job into a venue for dumping newsroom scuttlebutt on another reporter.

The idea, the notional claim, was that the questions -- or should we more gravely say, the concerns -- about Froomkin's column began with complaints from readers. Actually, not so. They started with a 'complaint' from a young GOP operative by the name of Patrick Ruffini who'd just come off working as official webmaster and blogger for Bush-Cheney 2004.

Like I said, mau-maued. And even pretty shabbily at that.

Now, is Dan Froomkin a 'liberal'? I figure he probably agrees with my politics more than Newt Gingrich's. But it is at most opinion journalism, aimed at hitting points of hypocrisy, deception or double-dealing in public officials. It's written by a credentialed journalist. And he hits both sides.

So, to 'balance' Froomkin, who may be a commentator with liberal tendencies, the Post goes out and gets a high octane Republican political activist who hits the ground running with a tirade of Red State America revanchism and even journalism itself.

Parenthetical note: too bad that FireDogLake is having moving problems with their URL - this WaPo snafu seems tailor-made for their particular brand of hyper-intelligent snark. For some reason, have not been able to access their new page since 3/15/06. Not sure why yet.
never mind. DNS problem on my end, fixed now.

Anywhoo, go here to read Jane Hamsher's take on the perscuffle (is that a word?)

Tags: , /

A New Grip on 'Reality'


Tom Friedman, one of those op-ed columnists who have lost their moral compass and intellectual vigor in George Bush's America, for whatever reason, occasionally still has an intelligent thought.

Tom Friedman: A New Grip on 'Reality'
There is a split emerging among conservatives on the issue of America's energy dependence. One of the most important laws of political debate is this: To name something is to own it. If you can name something, get that name to stick and therefore define how people think about an issue, your opponents don't stand a chance. One of the most pernicious things that Vice President Dick Cheney and Big Oil have done for years is to define “realism” when it comes to U.S. energy policy — and therefore they have owned the debate.

If you listen to them, they always offer this patronizing, pat-you-on-the-head view about alternative energy — hybrids, wind, solar, ethanol — which goes like this: “Yes, yes, those are all very cute and virtuous, but not realistic. Real men know that oil and fossil fuels are going to dominate our energy usage for a long time, so get used to it.”

Well, here's what's encouraging today. There is a split emerging among conservatives on this issue. Not all conservatives are in the pocket of Big Oil. Many evangelicals, led by people like Gary Bauer, are going green — both because they believe that we need to be better stewards of God's green earth and because they don't like being dependent for energy on countries that nurse a deep hostility toward the United States.

Of course, some of those same evangelicals think the rapture is coming soon, and that there is thus no need to worry about the condition the planet is left in. We speculate frequently that Bush is one of those End-is-Nigh types - certainly would explain a lot.

Anyway, Friedman continues by quoting the other Dick, Lugar that is....

Fly Into a Building? Who Could Imagine?

MoDo discusses the Iron Rice Bowl, Bush style. (If you haven't heard the phrase before, it originated in Maoist China to refer to guaranteed job security, especially in government jobs)

Maureen Dowd: Fly Into a Building? Who Could Imagine? Three little words:

Still employed there.

Of all the through-the-looking-glass moments in the last few days, the strangest is this: The F.B.I officer who arrested and questioned Zacarias Moussaoui told a jury that he had alerted his superiors about 70 times that Mr. Moussaoui was a radical Islamic fundamentalist who hated America and might be plotting to hijack an airplane.

Seventy? That makes one time for every virgin waiting for Mr. Moussaoui in heaven. Judging by how disastrously the prosecution is doing, the virgins will have to wait.

Microsoft Delays Windows Vista


Microsoft Delays Windows Vista
Microsoft is delaying its Windows Vista operating system. The software giant said it will begin offering a version of the product for businesses in November and consumers in January. Shares slid 3% after hours.

Umm, no comment. Snicker.


Tom's of Maine

Wonder if this will end those bogus claims that Tom's supports various anti-abortion causes? Probably not.

CINCINNATI ( -- Colgate-Palmolive Co. today announced it has bought a majority stake in Toms of Maine, the leading natural toothpaste brand, cementing the companys hold on leadership in U.S. toothpaste as it also moves into a new segment.

Tags: , /

Dena Kapsalis and Site malfunction

Feel to let your eyes glaze over in boredom, but this evening I noticed that someone from the Chico Unified School District was searching for an entry from last year (the entry that coincidentally happened to mention my old friend, Dena Kapsalis, who happens to work in some school in California, I think, or used to).

Loading the page only brought up the comment portion, not the post itself - there was no data at the URL. Since every bit of my blather is contained in ecto's log (note to self: back that file up, now!), I tried editing the posting, and resubmitting. No luck. The URL still contained no data other than the comment field. Finally, I changed the day the entry posted - success. Weird.


Prince vs Boozer

OK, I really need to get to work, but couldn't let this pass:

Extreme Makeover: Prince Edition - March 20, 2006
Claiming that his $70,000-a-month tenant Prince undertook an extremely tacky makeover of his Los Angeles mansion, an NBA star recently sued the mercurial singer over the purple-hued alterations. In a January complaint, Carlos Boozer, a forward with the Utah Jazz, sued Prince/MPG Music over unauthorized work done on the 10-bedroom, 11-bath West Hollywood property, which is owned by the C Booz Multifamily I LLC. According to the lawsuit, Prince/MPG Music violated its eight-month lease by “painting the exterior of the [house] with purple striping, 'prince' symbol, and numbers 3121.”

Prince's new album,



is scheduled for release tomorrow. Inside the home, among other renovations, a purple monogrammed carpet was installed in the master bedroom and plumbing and piping was added in the downstairs bedroom “for water transfer for beauty salon chairs.”

Of course, Booozer expected to be traded to the Lakers/Clippers over the offseason, so purchased a house in LA instead of in the world-class city, Salt Lake City. According to Dave Chappelle, Prince is a bad-ass hoops star. I wonder if this is why Boozer took so long recovering from injury - getting schooled by Prince?

Lawsuit here

 Dave Chappelle As Prince

update: Deadspin has more


Salvia and the Drug War

Inexorable march towards criminalization of another plant begins with stories like this:

Drug WarRant
Thanks to Bill for alerting me to this NPR story tonight on Salvia Divinorum: Legal, Herbal Hallucinogenic Draws Teens, Critics

I turned on the radio while driving home and caught the beginning...At that point, I turned it off. Go ahead, listen to the rest of it, if you'd like. It appears there's actually some balance in the story based on the web page. But sometimes, I just get tired. And I can't stop the thoughts running through my head.

I suppose when the dominant religion in America fulminates against eating Forbidden Fruit of Knowledge, our increasingly non-secular government is only following the paradigm established in the Book of Genesis.

(previous coverage here)

Tags: , /, /

Scientists Oppose Move on Grizzlies

Scientists Oppose Move on Grizzlies
A group of 269 scientists asked the Fish and Wildlife Service not to lift protections given to the Yellowstone grizzly bear by the Endangered Species Act.

-a placeholder for discussion of the spectacular movie, Grizzly Man, which I finally got to see last night. The 50 minute documentary starring Richard Thompson & cohorts during the making-of-the-movie soundtrack was quite good as well. In fact, I might watch it again.

More later, but the real world intrudes at the moment....

“Grizzly Man” (Lions Gate)

“Grizzly Man” (Richard Thompson)

Tags: , /, /

Slapping King Coal's Wrist

More data points for the worst president evah file.

Slapping King Coal's Wrist - New York Times
The Bush administration's accommodation of the mining industry — notably by packing the mine safety agencies with pro-management appointees — has produced a marked decline in major fines for negligent companies. A recent data analysis by The Times documented a risky, business-friendly downturn in penalties since 2001. At the same time, nearly half of the announced fines still go uncollected.

With a rash of 24 mine deaths so far this year, Congress is considering tougher fines of up to $500,000 for culpable companies. But what good are fines if they are not being forcefully used by the federal agencies supposedly responsible for workers' safety?

You don't really want an answer to that question, do you? Can we spell PR? I can smell it anyway.

Under present practices, fines are rarely levied at the maximum level, and even then companies can negotiate the penalties downward through an industry-friendly appeals process. Fines as low as $60, if collected, amount to jaywalking tickets.

Beyond the slump in fines, the administration's record has been distinguished by budget and job cuts in critical mine safety agencies. Lately, there's been a flurry of reform proposals in response to the deaths in the headlines. But an administration that prefers to fill key regulatory positions with mining lobbyists and executives has a long way to go toward miner safety. It should begin with an urgent reversal of its embarrassing record on penalizing flagrantly negligent companies.

I've discussed this point dozens of times on these pages, but one more for good measure: If you put aside discussion of the horrible Iraq debacle and the faux terrorism war, the current assministration's environmental policies are causing irreparable harm to our world, our country, our land, and their policy decisions should not be ignored. Certain things cannot be restored once destroyed.

Tags: , /

Bogus Bush Bashing

Umm, yeah. Incompetent. Too bad I didn't patent this phrase back in 1998 when the Dauphin was only Governor of Texas.

Paul Krugman: Bogus Bush Bashing

A look at the policies the new wave of conservative Bush bashers refuses to criticize.

“The single word most frequently associated with George W. Bush today is 'incompetent,' and close behind are two other increasingly mentioned descriptors: 'idiot' and 'liar.' ” So says the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, whose most recent poll found that only 33 percent of the public approves of the job President Bush is doing.

Mr. Bush, of course, bears primary responsibility for the state of his presidency. But there's more going on here than his personal inadequacy; we're looking at the failure of a movement as well as a man. As evidence, consider the fact that most of the conservatives now rushing to distance themselves from Mr. Bush still can't bring themselves to criticize his actual policies. Instead, they accuse him of policy sins — in particular, of being a big spender on domestic programs — that he has not, in fact, committed.

Ethics Challenge for Fake Blood

As follow up on previous discussion of ethics, blood and money (isn't that a Warren Zevon song?), three medical ethics professors formally protest the Northfield Laboratories blood substitute study. - Use of Substitution For Blood Draws Ethics Challenge

Three medical-ethics professors, in an open letter to research boards at hospitals where a blood substitute is being studied without patients' consent, said the research “fails to meet ethical and regulatory standards.”
The medical ethicists called on the hospitals to at least sharply alter the details of the study of the Northfield Laboratories Inc. blood substitute.
They wrote that any litigation over the blood-substitute study “would likely do damage to Northfield, to the hospitals and universities that are running what we believe to be an ethically flawed study” and to “the credibility of” the Food and Drug Administration, which approved the research.
This new challenge to the study, which is under way at 31 hospitals around the U.S., emerges as the Securities and Exchange Commission begins an investigation into Northfield and its research into the blood substitute. Northfield said late last week that it plans to comply with the SEC's request for documents about clinical research into the blood substitute, called PolyHeme.


The open letter to the hospitals' “institutional review boards” supervising clinical research, and to those considering participating in the study, is slated to be published in a coming issue of The American Journal of Bioethics. Its authors are Robert M. Nelson, a physician specializing in critical care and anesthesia at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine; Nancy M.P. King, social-medicine professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, and Ken Kipnis, a medical-ethics professor at the University of Hawaii.

Their focus is on the study, in 720 badly hemorrhaging trauma patients in 18 states, of the Northfield blood substitute. Half the patients are to receive PolyHeme both in the ambulance and the hospital, while the other half get standard therapy -- saline solution in the ambulance followed by donor blood in the hospital. It is the hospital portion of the study that has drawn the greatest fire. This is because blood, the standard of care for badly hemorrhaging trauma victims, can be withheld from half the patients -- without their consent -- under terms of the study.

I still don't understand how Northfield expected to avoid controversy with such a hare-brained scheme.

update 7-11-06
more here

Tags: , /

Glass Eye, hmmm, wonder if this company has any relation to the seminal early 90s band, Glass Eye, members of which were cast in the movie about my college years in Austex, Slacker. It's been a few years since I've seen Slacker, but I recall a scene involving someone selling, or attempting to sell, Madonna's pap smear. (Drummer and keyboardist for Glass Eye, I believe). Anyway, this museum of curios has just been added to my itinerary for my semi-annual trip home, currently scheduled for “Spring sometime”.

Seriously, if you are curious as to how I lived in the late 80s-early 90s, rent this movie. 70 percent of the locations in Slacker I frequented, I knew about half of the actors (mostly at the acquaintance level, quite a few of them worked at the restaurant, Magnolia Cafe, which indirectly paid my tuition to UT. Ahh the memories....), and R Linklater must have been following me and my friends to write the damn screenplay. Too bad I never showed up for my screen test.


Chicago Tribune | In 8th-floor office, odd is the norm:

AUSTIN, Texas --I just missed William Shatner's kidney stone. It was, unfortunately, at the picture framer's, being pressed under glass inside a tasteful box.

I did, however, get to see the stent that was inserted into Captain Kirk's urethra to help him pass the stone. And Britney Spears' Positive Pregnancy Test. And the frying pan with an image of Jesus burned into the bottom. And to my everlasting good fortune, the Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese Sandwich was in residence and not on tour, so I experienced that epiphany as well.

Although the image on the stale triangular snack looked more like Marlene Dietrich to me. Believe it or not, these and other national treasures are not on display in any museum, nor are they protected inside a fortified bank vault. They are all housed inside a small office on the eighth floor of a generic office building in downtown Austin. Passersby on the streets below have no idea what they are missing.

This rare collection is the property of an online casino,, which has spent nearly $2 million assembling dozens of priceless curios as part of an ongoing publicity campaign. If the Smithsonian started acquiring things on eBay--and hired a crazed curator from Ripley's to do the bidding--the resulting collection might resemble the pop-culture items now stacked on a bookshelf and scattered on the floor of Glass Eye Entertainment, an Austin software company. Glass Eye designed an early version of the software used by the Antigua-based online casino and today still acts as the buying agent for the various artifacts.

Glass Eye

“Hello Young Lovers” (Glass Eye)

(more on the toastie, including a photo from the BBC, here, here and here)

This Essay Breaks the Law


Simply ridiculous. Patent law needs to be over-hauled. Just ask RIM.

This Essay Breaks the Law - New York Times:
Elevated homocysteine is linked to B-12 deficiency, so doctors should test homocysteine levels to see whether the patient needs vitamins.

ACTUALLY, I can't make that last statement. A corporation has patented that fact, and demands a royalty for its use. Anyone who makes the fact public and encourages doctors to test for the condition and treat it can be sued for royalty fees. Any doctor who reads a patient's test results and even thinks of vitamin deficiency infringes the patent. A federal circuit court held that mere thinking violates the patent.

All this may sound absurd, but it is the heart of a case that will be argued before the Supreme Court on Tuesday. In 1986 researchers filed a patent application for a method of testing the levels of homocysteine, an amino acid, in the blood. They went one step further and asked for a patent on the basic biological relationship between homocysteine and vitamin deficiency. A patent was granted that covered both the test and the scientific fact. Eventually, a company called Metabolite took over the license for the patent.

Although Metabolite does not have a monopoly on test methods — other companies make homocysteine tests, too — they assert licensing rights on the correlation of elevated homocysteine with vitamin deficiency. A company called LabCorp used a different test but published an article mentioning the patented fact. Metabolite sued on a number of grounds, and has won in court so far. But what the Supreme Court will focus on is the nature of the claimed correlation. On the one hand, courts have repeatedly held that basic bodily processes and “products of nature” are not patentable. That's why no one owns gravity, or the speed of light. But at the same time, courts have granted so-called correlation patents for many years. Powerful forces are arrayed on both sides of the issue.

In addition, there is the rather bizarre question of whether simply thinking about a patented fact infringes the patent. The idea smacks of thought control, to say nothing of unenforceability. It seems like something out of a novel by Philip K. Dick — or Kafka. But it highlights the uncomfortable truth that the Patent Office and the courts have in recent decades ruled themselves into a corner from which they must somehow extricate themselves.

Just think of all the things I could have patented over the years. The mind boggles. I made a screensaver program back when I was a physics undergrad - there were no such things at the time. How about political commentary? What if someone of the formerly shrill anti-Bush crowd (see Krugman's article) had patented criticism of the Iraq boondoggle, and now sued Little Roy Andy Sullivan? Sweet.

Technorati Tags: ,

Ahh wohts money anyways

Morrissey does give good quote:

Smiths turned down $5m gig, says Morrissey
As the son and heir of nothing in particular, money means little to Morrissey - not even $5m to reform the Smiths.

The 46-year-old singer yesterday revealed how he and his fellow former band mates had been offered the sum to reform for just one gig at the Coachella Valley festival, held in the Californian desert.

At a press conference at the music industry's biggest showcase event, south by southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas, Morrissey said: “If people must know, it was $5m.” After the gasps died down he was asked if he had considered it. “I didn't give it a second thought because money doesn't come into it.”

Talking about the 1987 split, Morrissey blamed guitarist Johnny Marr: “I didn't feel we should have ended. He wanted to end it. So that was that.”

The Dauphin and the Dude

| 1 Comment

Via the Windy City Lefty, we read of Bush and his obsession with the Big Lebowski. Or something. Sort of weird. I guess when your mind is as empty as the Dauphin's pea brain is, then little things like how the rug really ties a room together mean a lot to you.

WaPo: Bush Weaves Rug Story Into Many an Occasion
Nothing says power like the Oval Office. The paintings of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. The bust of Dwight D. Eisenhower. The desk used by both Roosevelts.

And then there's the rug. Don't forget the rug. President Bush never does.

For whatever reason, Bush seems fixated on his rug. Virtually all visitors to the Oval Office find him regaling them about how it was chosen and what it represents.

Turns out, he always says, the first decision any president makes is what carpet he wants in his office. As a take-charge leader, he then explains, he of course made a command decision -- he delegated the decision to Laura Bush, who chose a yellow sunbeam design.

Elizabeth Vargas, the ABC News anchor, was the latest to get the treatment. She went by last week to interview Bush before his trip to Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. Sure enough, she wasn't in the room but a minute or two before he started telling her about the carpet.

Big Lebowski
Big Lebowski

Still, in a battle of wits between the Dude and Dauphin, my money is on the Dude.

Tags: , /

I'm surprised that Mr. MacGowan is still alive, much less touring with his old mates.

The Pogues: Some Old Irish Songs With Punk and Pop
In a reunion show that culled their best songs, Shane MacGowan and the Pogues did as good a job as age and context would allow, playing well if slightly subdued.

Shane MacGowan took the stage yesterday evening, intoning some profane verses from Lou Reed's “Sister Ray,” and then the Pogues fired into “Streams of Whiskey.” When Mr. MacGowan removed his sunglasses, a few songs into his first performance in New York with the band in 15 years, you could look him in the eyes. Not the whites of them: he looked half-asleep, heavy-lidded, his face a slack, puffy frown surrounding missing teeth. The upper third of his face, anyway, was the most expressive part of his body.

In their seven-year run as an intact band, the Pogues amassed a cult audience around the world, fusing the sound of old Irish songs with punk and pop, bringing out the smashing force of a folkloric dance music. They made money; they had hits. They ejected Mr. MacGowan in 1991; he was only 33, but there was not much left in him, physically.

(One of his band members recently said that the end came when the singer was “leaving taxis horizontally.”)

In a two-hour show that culled their best songs — opening with “Streams of Whiskey,” running through “If I Should Fall From Grace With God,” “Young Ned of the Hill,” “Bottle of Smoke,” “A Pair of Brown Eyes,” “The Old Main Drag,” and closing with “Fairy Tale of New York” and “Fiesta,” they did as good a job as age and context would allow, playing well if slightly subdued.

Mr. MacGowan took breaks in the wings, vaguely restoring himself; others took the microphone to sing, including the tin-whistle player Spider Stacy and the guitarist Philip Chevron. But it was Mr. MacGowan who owned the best moments, with his lurching growl, especially in “Dirty Old Town,” where the audience sang along through all four image-rich verses about kissing a girl by the factory wall and smelling the spring on the smoky wind. Turning words into syrup, he said a few unintelligible things between songs — something about Americans, something about Truman Capote and Jimmy Breslin. He drank on stage. But he appeared not to miss a word of a song.

If I Should Fall from Grace - The Shane MacGowan Story (Sarah Share)
“If I Should Fall from Grace - The Shane MacGowan Story” (Sarah Share)

“Peace and Love” (The Pogues)

Tags: , /

Nuclear Reactors and your kids

We've been paying attention the large number of problems with a near-by nuclear reactor (or nucular reactor, if you are the Resident), apparently there is a deeper issue here. Namely, the power companies are privately pushing, via their lobbyists, and in-pocket legislatures, for massive public subsidies to build a new round of nuclear plants. Small problem with PR, especially if the energy companies have been mismanaging the plants they already own.

I'm sure the nuclear power apologists have an answer to why all of the spills were covered up.

Nuclear Reactors Found to Be Leaking Radioactive Water - New York Times
With power cleaner than coal and cheaper than natural gas, the nuclear industry, 20 years past its last meltdown, thinks it is ready for its second act: its first new reactor orders since the 1970's

But there is a catch. The public's acceptance of new reactors depends in part on the performance of the old ones, and lately several of those have been discovered to be leaking radioactive water into the ground.

Near Braceville, Ill., the Braidwood Generating Station, owned by the Exelon Corporation, has leaked tritium into underground water that has shown up in the well of a family nearby. The company, which has bought out one property owner and is negotiating with others, has offered to help pay for a municipal water system for houses near the plant that have private wells.

In a survey of all 10 of its nuclear plants, Exelon found tritium in the ground at two others. On Tuesday, it said it had had another spill at Braidwood, about 60 miles southwest of Chicago, and on Thursday, the attorney general of Illinois announced she was filing a lawsuit against the company over that leak and five earlier ones, dating to 1996. The suit demands among other things that the utility provide substitute water supplies to residents.

After years of flat employment levels, the industry is preparing to hire hundreds of new engineers. Luis A. Reyes, the executive director for operations at the regulatory commission, told the industry gathering last week, “We'll take your résumé in hard copy, online, whatever you can do,” eliciting laughter from an audience heavy with executives of reactor operators and companies that want to build new ones
. The Times lists several other incidents around the country, read for yourself, if interested.

from the Tribune:
Chicago Tribune | Radioactive water leaks from power plant storage

About 200 gallons of water containing radioactive tritium escaped from a lined berm at Braidwood Generating Station in far southwestern Will County, Exelon Nuclear officials disclosed Tuesday. The level of tritium in the escaped water was about nine times higher than federal ground- and drinking-water limits, but less than one-fifth of the surface-water limit. None of the water, which was quickly returned to the bermed area, left the site, plant spokesman Neal Miller said. Heavy winds apparently caused the berm's wall to collapse, allowing what was thought to be rainwater outside the berm. As a precaution, the water was tested, revealing the tritium, Miller said.


Chicago Tribune | Exelon sued over leaks

Radioactive tritium was released from a Will County nuclear power plant at least eight times, three more occasions than Exelon Corp. officials disclosed in recent weeks, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday. The most recent release, which occurred Monday and was disclosed the next day, pointed to the potential for a “mind-boggling” environmental disaster if a tornado hit Braidwood Generating Station, Will County State's Atty. James Glasgow said.


Chicago Tribune | New suit hits Exelon over reactor leak
Radioactive tritium was released from a Will County nuclear power plant at least eight times, three more occasions than Exelon Corp. officials disclosed in recent weeks, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday.

The most recent release, which occurred Monday and was disclosed the next day, pointed to the potential for a “mind-boggling” environmental disaster if a tornado hit Braidwood Generating Station, Will County State's Atty. James Glasgow said.

Glasgow and Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan filed suit in Will County Circuit Court against Exelon Corp., Commonwealth Edison and Exelon Generation Co., LLC, which comprises Exelon Nuclear. ComEd built and ran the Braidwood plant until late 2000.

“Exelon has polluted the groundwater under and around the Braidwood facility in Will County,” Madigan said. “Faulty maintenance led to this situation and this lawsuit. ... Exelon has not been maintaining and operating this nuclear plant as it should be.

”Like exposure to any radioactive material, exposure to tritium increases the risk of developing cancer and increases the risk of birth defects,“ she said....

The suit seeks fines that could reach $36.5 million for a 1996 spill alone, Glasgow said. If fines are collected, they could be used for the very expensive process of removing water with tritium from the ground, Madigan said...Madigan and Glasgow tried to negotiate a settlement before the suit was filed, Glasgow said. ”What I've encountered, basically, is a culture of greed and deception in my dealings with them,“ he said.

Glasgow noted the lack of disclosures until late last year for all of the releases, except one in 2000. The recent disclosures came after the detection of groundwater contamination, after the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency told Exelon to look for it, Glasgow said.

He said Exelon thus far has failed to provide bottled water to nearby residents as promised more than two weeks ago.

”It looks like until we put them against a wall in a courtroom, we are not going to get to the truth, and we are not going to get the things done necessary for remediation that are going to protect the people in that area,“ he said.

Previous coverage


Corporate Welfare

Energy Bill Boondoggle

Tags: , /, /

Stop Bush's War

How do they fucking sleep at night? I thought murder was against the precepts of their God?

Bob Herbert: Stop Bush's War - New York Times "By some estimates," according to a recent article in Foreign Affairs, "the number of Iraqis who have died as a result of the [U.S.] invasion has reached six figures -- vastly more than have been killed by all international terrorists in all of history. Sanctions on Iraq probably were a necessary cause of death for an even greater number of Iraqis, most of them children."

and I must be tired or high or something, or some combination thereof, but what does the phrase, "sanctions were a necessary cause of death" really mean? Necessary how?

anyway, Herbert continues:

In any event, there is broad agreement that the number of Iraqis slaughtered has reached into the tens of thousands. An ocean of blood has been shed in Mr. Bush's mindless war, and there is no end to this tragic flow in sight.
Everyone who thought this war was a good idea was wrong and ought to admit it. Those who still think it's a good idea should get therapy.

Kvetch session


I've spent several hours this morning trying unsuccessfully to open a flash presentation sent to us by one of our vendors. We were supposed to have given this presentation to our client, a [redacted corporate name you've heard of], weeks ago, but our vendor-who-shall-remain-nameless insisted upon making the presentation in flash. Never mind the fact that the client is traveling and won't have a laptop, and never mind that in order to get the green-light for this program to go ahead, our client has to take this flash presentation and show it to several other people. Brilliant choice on the part of vendor-who-shall-remain-nameless-and-apparently-remain-clueless.

After much back and forth, we received the presentation again today, but none of our Macs could open the file. I thought to perhaps open the file on our one Windows-XP machine, so booted it up. Criminey - how do you people use those bloody things?

Last time the XP machine (some HP Media center something or other) was on, it ran fine, connected to our LAN, yadda yadda, but today, no dice. A myriad of strange errors popped up, in typical, cryptic window-eze that don't really help troubleshoot. I ignored the messages, as they made no sense, and started Outlook to download the email containing the presentation. Oops, I had deleted the email off our server as it was rather large. So, it downloaded a couple hundred emails from the last few days, but not the one I needed. Wheeled my chair over to my main Mac (that I'm sitting at now), and forwarded the email to myself. Simple right?

However, now the XP machine refused to connect at all to the internet (or local subnet). Why? Who knows. Just worked five minutes ago, and all I did in the meantime was the small crime of walking away from the beast. Now, it won't connect to the web in any browser, won't connect to our POP server, won't connect to internal network, just pops up odd DOS based errors.

I am no Windows expert, but I've been using computers since the mid 1980s, and I am no idiot. I am able to run our network of 6 macs and 3 printers, plus numerous other external equipment (telephones, scanners, faxes, external drives, yadda yadda), with minimal frustration, but the Windows machine just doesn't play nice with others. Not that the Macs don't have problems sometimes, just that the solution is easily enough figured out, usually within minutes, occasionally by doing a little research on the internets.

I burrow down, clicking and clicking until I get into the properties for the ethernet device, click past the error message
(rundll32.exe - the application failed to initialize properly, presented twice in sequence), and read, “packets sent 12,116 / received 597”. So apparently, something is happening, just not anything useful.

There is a choice, “repair this connection”, sure, sounds good. After cleaning my DNS cache, and some other things, I get the useful message, “If the problem persists, contact the person who manages your network.” Err, um, ok, hey look, I'm right here! What are the odds? Hey, do you know what to do, Seth? Uhh, no not really. Do you, Seth? Nope. Stumped.

Fracking thing. If only we didn't need to run MapInfo on it (parenthical gripe: why isn't there a good GIS program for Mac OSX?). How did Paul Allen and Bill Gates get so rich selling this crap anyway? Windows sucks.

Tags: , /

Feds probe photographers at Sears Tower

Oh come on. Talk about over-reaction.

Feds probe photographers at Sears Tower

Police and federal investigators are looking into an incident about three weeks ago at the Sears Tower in which three men caught the attention of security guards when they got out of their car and appeared to be studying the 110-story building and taking photographs.

Since when is tourism against the law? Maybe the Sears Tower is trying to clamp down on photos so as to retain copyright to the iconic image? Only sort of kidding - not unprecedented behavior.

Roof yurt view
I couldn't find a better view of Sears Tower after looking for 7 seconds, give or take, but you can see the top of it peeking out of this photo from my office roof.

Tags: , /

Utility companies demand a taste


Ahh, isn't capitalism grand? Especially the public investment-private profit model which has worked so well for public utilities (my Peoples Energy gas/heating bill for February - $156 dollars, of which at least $19.92 is tax, not even including the $9.45 “Customer Charge”. Gotta love that, a special charge because I'm such a valued, special customer. Of course, PGL makes about 100 million a year in profits, based in part on these special charges. 20% of my fracking bill. Feh).

Many Utilities Collect for Taxes They Never Pay - New York Times
Many electric utility companies across the nation are collecting billions of dollars from their customers for corporate income taxes, then keeping the money rather than sending it to the government.
The practice is legal in most states. The companies say it is smart business.
But some representatives of utility customers say that the practice, which involves using losses from other subsidiaries to reduce taxes owed, is not fair. They say that money that utilities are required to collect for federal and state taxes — typically a nickel on each dollar paid for electricity — should go for just that, or not be included in electric bills.
Otherwise, they argue, these legal monopolies make more than they are authorized to, and other taxpayers have to make up the difference in higher taxes or reduced services.

But in recent years many utilities have expanded into unregulated businesses, like energy trading and aircraft leasing, while others have been acquired by companies that own other businesses. When those other businesses lose money or create artificial losses through tax planning, those losses can be used to offset income earned by the utilities.

...As a result, the parent companies owe less in taxes than their electric customers paid. Sometimes these companies owe nothing, or receive large tax refunds. By not remitting the taxes, the parent companies effectively have more money to invest in their operations or pay to shareholders in dividends.

The ability to intercept tax payments is not limited to electric utilities. Natural gas, water and telephone utilities can use the same techniques.

and we can't forget our friends at Enron:

The Minnesota attorney general, Mike Hatch, said, “Essentially, the utility ratepayers pay the tax twice, once through the utility bill and again through the lost revenue to government that means either higher taxes for them or less government services.” Mr. Hatch is trying to require that any taxes included in Xcel bills be paid to the government. Xcel opposes this.

The critics say that while many profitable businesses use losses to minimize their tax bills, utilities are unique because their taxes are built into the bills that customers pay.

Critics also say utility companies are enriched beyond the limits set by law if they pocket the tax money. “Utilities are entitled to a just and reasonable return,” said Myer Shark, a 93-year-old lawyer who sued unsuccessfully to recover $300 million in taxes paid by Minnesota customers of Xcel. “But when they keep the taxes, they are earning an unjust and unreasonable rate of return.”

Enron was a pioneer in turning taxes into profit. Since 1997 the company, now in bankruptcy, has collected nearly $900 million from customers of a utility it acquired, Portland General Electric, to cover income taxes. But none of that money reached the federal government from Enron, and only a quirk in the law forced Portland G.E. to pay about $800,000 in income taxes, of which $20 went to the state of Oregon.

Enron could keep the tax money because it created 881 subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and other tax havens, tax shelters that on paper generated losses for the parent.

Tags: , /, /

Token Irish mention

This year, I updated my Irish music playlist to also include non-trad Irish musicians, copped first from my memory (Pogues, Stiff Little Fingers, My Bloody Valentine), then from a completist list compiled at When added to everything labeled Celtic/Irish like


The Well Below The Valley (Planxty)

“The Well Below The Valley” (Planxty)

Bothy Band

1975: The First Album (The Bothy Band)

“1975: The First Album” (The Bothy Band)

De Dannon

De Dannon

etc., the playlist (Celtic Groove) contains over 1000 songs - over 68 hours worth. Cool.

Some of this music I listen to regularly already -

Elvis Costello

Elvis Costello



 Van Morrison

Van Morrison



- but some only gets trotted out on occasion (or via the randomizer seed on my iPod).

I don't think I'll be participating in any displays of public drunkenness; I have mostly outgrown the need to sing on street corners, and I'm sort of an introvert anyway, thus you probably won't see photos like this of me....

Drunks at Duffys
(some drinkers accosted me on Saturday with plaintive cries to have their photo taken, since I was strolling with camera around my neck like I am wont to do)

Planning on going to the Warhol opening anyway.


Open question


An open question to all seven of my regular readers, and your friends:

What exactly is the origin of the word, “blog”? I swear I've read a fairly detailed refutation of the 'established fact' factoid that blog is simply a shortened version of web log, but now I cannot track down this reference. At least 2 people have asked me point blank in the last couple weeks, and while I am charmingly persuasive, claiming the word blog is most certainly not a derivative of weblog, I am unable provide details. I hate not having the details.

Even the wikipedia claims blog = web + log. Grrr.

(update, thanks to the Chicago Sage, web log ≠ weblog)

Tags: , /

Fraud Investigation at the CTA

Hmmm, fraud allegations in a governmental agency? Who woulda guessed? And connected to Mayor Daley as well? Wow, that's never happened before.

windows need to be washed, even on brand new buildings
New CTA headquarters

Federal prosecutors have subpoenaed records connected to the purchase of office furniture for the Chicago Transit Authority's new Lake Street headquarters, an agency spokeswoman said Tuesday.

The subpoena, issued last year, asked for any records pertaining to the $5.9 million procurement of furniture for the CTA's new administrative building at 567 W. Lake St., CTA spokeswoman Noelle Gaffney said. If a minority-owned firm was involved, the subpoena also asks for any records connected to that, she added.

The furniture was supplied by Desks Inc., a 50-year-old company once owned by Patrick Degnan, brother of Timothy Degnan, a top political strategist for Mayor Richard Daley. The firm received the business through Fifield Companies, a Chicago development company that the CTA hired in 2002--after Degnan sold the furniture business--to design, construct and furnish the building.

Another Degnan brother, Robert, has been the CTA's general manager of system maintenance support since 2002, a post that pays about $102,000 annually, according to CTA records. The job puts Robert Degnan in charge of CTA's non-revenue vehicle fleet, such as maintenance vehicles, Gaffney said.

Tags: , /, /

MoDo manages to give several back handed complements to Obama, mostly by way of slagging Hillary Clinton. However, if the 2008 election comes down to Clinton vs. McCain, I might just follow through with my plan to move to Vancouver and build my yurt there.

Maureen Dowd: What's Better? His Empty Suit or Her Baggage? - New York Times

There's only one reason I continue to brave Washington's dreary formal press dinners, which are so calcified they're a bad cross between a zombie movie and those little Mexican Day of the Dead sculptures.
I find it highly instructive to hear politicians make humor speeches. It's difficult, and few pols do it well.

I'm not sold on Obama, either, obviously, if you remember. Feingold, anyone? Feingold? Feingold? Anyone? Bueller?

yeah, yeah, yeah, I'll shut up now, here's more of Dowd.

Yurt News from All Over

| 1 Comment

Our architect (who all my tongue-in-cheek kvetching aside, is a nice, interesting guy, if a little slow to finish work) passed on a recent story from the NYT regarding yurts.

bigger view here

Before he commissioned the overblown confection that became Hearst Castle, the newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst and his family would travel to that same spot on the Big Sur coast of California for a vacation in more modest lodgings — a series of tents. The arrangements were rustic but stylish: striped fabric walls, wooden floors, writing desks, rugs and even separate tents for entertainment.

Hearst's setup, back when that corner of San Simeon was unassumingly known as Camp Hill, was a harbinger for the simple, elegant structures at the new Treebones Resort, about 25 miles up the rugged coast. Opened about a year, the 16 yurts perched along the ridge above Highway 1 embody the natural beauty and off-the-grid living that have long characterized Big Sur. Not much has changed in the physical landscape since the Hearsts “roughed it” — California land trusts, conservation easements and local coastal programs have prevented rampant development.

Even today, you can spend a couple of hours winding along the treacherous, two-lane Highway 1, sandwiched between the Santa Lucia Mountains and the wild Pacific Coast, without anything impeding the view. Along with the Los Padres National Forest, a string of wilderness areas, state parks and reserves along the coast make for challenging hiking; in the winter, you can trek even the most popular trails and see nary a soul. It's an extraordinary piece of America that remains as Henry Miller described it in 1957 — a meeting of extremes, “a region where one is always conscious of weather, of space, of grandeur and of eloquent silence.”

It took 20 years for John and Corinne Handy to secure the permits and capital to build Treebones — named for an old lumber mill at the site — but the result is a comfortable yet unobtrusive way to enjoy the stunning seascape. The yurts, circular tentlike structures similar to those used by Central Asian nomads, are updated here with modern amenities, including polished pine floors, French doors, reading lamps, colorful quilts, pillow top mattresses and clear domed roofs for sunlight by day and stargazing by night.

The resort has its own well, and everything is powered by propane-fueled turbines; the heat produced in the process is used to warm water and some of the yurts. Several have gas fireplaces.

I've actually never been south of Monterey, California, yet, the Big Sur area has always been on my list. Reading this article, and glancing at these photos just increases my interest.

At the permanent exhibition at the visitor center at Hearst Castle (750 Hearst Castle Road, San Simeon; 800-444-4445;; tickets from $20), you can see photos of the family tents at Camp Hill and examine more characteristically over-the-top Hearst memorabilia.

At a picturesque spot on the Big Sur coast, Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth bought a little cabin in 1947. Later, they sold it to the Fassett family, who opened a sun-splashed restaurant, Nepenthe, with excellent views (Highway 1, Big Sur; 831-667-2345;; lunch for two $40).

Our view will look something like this:
Roof yurt view

Sunset number 4594 redux

Oh, by the way, DCAP stamped our roof-deck plans yesterday. Now, we just need to find some reputable general contractor, and a little pile of moolah, preferably before summer begins. I've been thinking the yurt part of the plan won't get constructed until fall or even next spring, but we'll see.

Tags: , /, /

Smoking to be demonized in more places. Yayyy. So now we can go get loaded in dives in surrounding municipalities.

Chicago Tribune | Countywide smoking ordinance advances
A smoking ban affecting more than 115 suburbs moved toward reality Monday as a committee of Cook County commissioners endorsed without opposition the end of puffing away in places such as restaurants, bars, casinos and bowling alleys.

“This has been a long time in coming,” Diana Hackbarth, chairwoman of the Illinois Coalition Against Tobacco, said after the meeting. “Public opinion about smoking has changed. The time has really come to do the right thing on protecting public health.”

But wait, there are 115 suburbs in Chicagoland? Holy highways, Batman!

The ordinance will go to the full Board of County Commissioners for a vote Wednesday. With no opposition on Monday from commissioners or business owners, Commissioner Mike Quigley (D), the lead sponsor of the ordinance, said passage is all but assured. Unlike Chicago's ban, which gives bars two years to comply, the county ban would become law in 60 days.

Quigley said his only regret is that some towns will be able to wriggle out of the ban, which he expects a few to do.

And mobbed-up (allegedly, ahem) Cicero says, “No fracking way!”

Unincorporated parts of Cook County would be required to implement the ban, but municipalities could opt out by passing their own ordinance. Proft said Cicero officials would examine their options, but they have never enacted a smoking ban for a simple reason: They don't want one.

“The belief in the Town of Cicero is that business operators have the right to run their businesses in the bounds of the law as they see fit,” he said. “No one is forced to go into a particular bar or restaurant that allows smoking.”

update: 3/15/06 - Ordinance passed today:

Nearly every public building in Cook County will be smoke free within a year, thanks to a vote Wednesday by county commissioners.

The county board voted to approve a sweeping smoking ban that goes well beyond a similar ban passed last year in the city of Chicago.

Under the county ban, all public buildings -- including restaurants, bars, sports venues, and workplaces, and within 15 feet of any entrance to enclosed areas. The ban will take effect March 15, 2007.

After lobbying by advocates for nursing home residents, those facilities were made exempt. However, other health-care facilities are included.

Tags: , /

Because I don't want to work


and McCain is an enemy of my people, as well as against my religion....

Now, if I only knew what I was doing.
(cartoon below)

I hope this gets worked out: Bob Marley wouldn't have minded sharing the money amongst his friends and band members. The bass and drum parts are essential to the Wailers' music.

“Catch a Fire” (Bob Marley & The Wailers)

Burnin' (Bob Marley & The Wailers)
“Burnin'” (Bob Marley & The Wailers)

Guardian Unlimited Arts | Arts news | Wailers' bassist sues Marleys for '£60m royalties'
Would Bob Marley have made it without his distinctive bouncy basslines? The question will be put to a judge this week as a protracted legal wrangle between the Marley family and the bassist in his backing band, the Wailers, finally comes to the High Court.Aston 'Family Man' Barrett is suing the Marleys and the Universal Island record label, claiming that neither he nor his deceased brother Carlton, the band's drummer, have received any royalties since Marley's death in 1981. If he is successful, Barrett, now in his sixties and father to 52 children, could receive a payout of up to £60 million.

umm, 52 children? Anyway, Rita Marley, and her lawyers, will argue that a previous settlement precludes additional royalties. This was the trick that D's brother used to screw her out of any inheritance, and was quite effective.

Lawyers for Universal Island and the Marley family, headed by the singer's widow Rita, are expected to argue that Barrett gave up his right to royalties when he signed a legal settlement for several hundred thousand dollars in 1994.

Barrett's fellow Wailers Junior Marvin, Tyrone Downie, Earl 'the wire' Lindo and Al Anderson are expected in London for the trial, which starts tomorrow. The British journalist Vivien Goldman, author of the forthcoming Marley biography The Book of Exodus, will also testify.

The business dealings surrounding Marley's legacy have been dogged by a series of legal disputes since his death. The singer, who died of cancer, refused to make a will because his Rastafarian religion prohibited him from believing in death. The settlement was further complicated by his domestic arrangements: he had 11 children by nine women.

The Book of Exodus : The Making and Meaning of Bob Marley and the Wailers' Album of the Century (Vivien Goldman)
“The Book of Exodus : The Making and Meaning of Bob Marley and the Wailers' Album of the Century” (Vivien Goldman)

Tags: , /

The Right's Man

Personally, I never understood the fascination with John McCain. Jon Stewart even fawns over McCain. I always considered McCain to be an heir to Goldwater, and apparently, so does the Shrill One:

The Right's Man PAUL KRUGMAN

It's time for some straight talk about John McCain. He isn't a moderate. He's much less of a maverick than you'd think. And he isn't the straight talker he claims to be.

Mr. McCain's reputation as a moderate may be based on his former opposition to the Bush tax cuts. In 2001 he declared, “I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us.”

But now — at a time of huge budget deficits and an expensive war, when the case against tax cuts for the rich is even stronger — Mr. McCain is happy to shower benefits on the most fortunate. He recently voted to extend tax cuts on dividends and capital gains, an action that will worsen the budget deficit while mainly benefiting people with very high incomes.

This building can not stand


Catholic Charity aged
Catholic Charity

A soon-to-be torn down office building. 40 story mixed-use building to be built in its place this summer.

Photograph aged in photoshop to mask light and color deficiencies in original snapshot.

Life is change, and buildings are part of our lives, hence....

Tags: , /, /

W.'s Mixed Messages

Incompetence is the current administration's middle name. MoDo even picks up on it. Though, I liked the Wire as a cultural reference instead of the Sopranos, as written on these pages, and elsewhere.

Rush Hour blues

Maureen Dowd: W.'s Mixed Messages - New York Times Homeland Security's protection of the ports is a joke. The goof-off Michael Chertoff is remarkably still in charge. The swaggering of the president and vice president on national security has been exposed as a sham, with millions spent shoring up our defenses wasted, with the Iraq war aggravating our danger, and with anti-Muslim feeling swelling among Americans and anti-American feeling swelling among Muslims. ..... The creepy John Grisham-style Washington firm called the Carlyle Group, suffused with Arab connections and money, and seeded with Saudi money (including bin Laden family money until after 9/11), even gave some thought to investing in the ports, before backing off.

The nakedness of the ports is so obvious it was a “Sopranos” plot point. A source called Deep Water, who helped check out new hires for the New Jersey port before and after 9/11, told the F.B.I. a couple of years ago about what he saw as gaps in security practices on the waterfront and a “suspicious” flow of recent Arab immigrants, some speaking little English, being hired as port watchmen. Deep Water said he'd recently been interviewed by New York detectives.

President Bush does not seem to understand that it was his bumbling — rather than our bigotry — that led Americans to gulp and yelp at the idea of an Arab government running our ports. When the president said yesterday that “my administration was satisfied that port security would not have been undermined by the agreement,” he seemed oblivious to the fact that — after W.M.D., Katrina and Iraq — many Americans no longer trust this administration to protect them.

This fraud looks like a bigger problem than previously noted. If you use debit cards and have shopped at any of these stores in the last few months, I'd start monitoring your checking account rather closely.

Consumers with Forced Debit Card Reissues Step Forward - Consumerist
More signs point to OfficeDepot/OfficeMax and Sam’s Club/Wal-Mart as being the retailers suspected of letting thousands of customer’s debit cards and PINs to be stolen.

We do purchase office supplies from the local OfficeDepot, but use a corporate credit card, not a debit card.

Citibank, Bank of America Corp. Wells Fargo Bank, Farmer’s and Merchants National Bank, several credit unions, and Washington Mutual seem to be the affected banks, at least so far.

Tags: , /



Unfortunately, oral contracts with certain companies are not worth the air they are breathed out upon. Fuckers. Nothing like spending 6 months trying to sell something and find out you have been circumvented by the company you were representing.


The Conservative Epiphany

Krugman points out that Bartlett and Little Roy aka Andy Sullivan are flip-floppers.

Paul Krugman: The Conservative Epiphany
Everything the new wave of conservative Bush critics has to say was obvious long ago to any commentator who was willing to look at the facts.

Bruce Bartlett, the author of “Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy,” is an angry man. At a recent book forum at the Cato Institute, he declared that the Bush administration is “unconscionable,” “irresponsible,” “vindictive” and “inept.”

It's no wonder, then, that one commentator wrote of Mr. Bartlett that “if he were a cartoon character, he would probably look like Donald Duck during one of his famous tirades, with steam pouring out of his ears.”

Oh, wait. That's not what somebody wrote about Mr. Bartlett. It's what Mr. Bartlett wrote about me in September 2003, when I was saying pretty much what he's saying now.

Human nature being what it is, I don't expect Mr. Bartlett to acknowledge his about-face. Nor do I expect any expressions of remorse from Andrew Sullivan, the conservative blogger who also spoke at the Cato forum. Mr. Sullivan used to specialize in denouncing the patriotism and character of anyone who dared to criticize President Bush, whom he lionized. Now he himself has become a critic, not just of Mr. Bush's policies, but of his personal qualities, too.


A Dark Cloud Over Disclosure


Gee, thanks Red Staters. These sorts of policy decisions are what you voted for, just a shame that I have to live in the same country as you.

Op-Ed Contributors: A Dark Cloud Over Disclosure
President Bush and the Environmental Protection Agency want to make it easier for polluters to hide.

President Bush and the Environmental Protection Agency want to weaken the largely successful Toxics Release Inventory program, which requires companies to tell the public how they dispose of or release nearly 650 chemicals that may harm human health and the environment. The disclosure program makes data available for anyone — journalists, policymakers, investors or parents — to learn exactly which chemicals are being released from corporate smokestacks and discharge pipes.

...the Environmental Protection Agency is now proposing three detrimental changes that could go into effect within the next year.

The first would relax the current annual reporting requirement and let companies make reports every other year instead; the second would allow polluters to release 10 times more toxic chemicals — up to 5,000 pounds annually — without disclosing the volume released or where the pollutants went; and the third would permit companies to conceal releases of up to 500 pounds annually of particularly dangerous toxic materials, like PCB's, lead and mercury, which can accumulate in people's bodies. All three changes effectively increase the amount of pollution that companies can emit without telling anyone
The E.P.A.'s weakening of the Toxics Release Inventory program does not require Congressional approval, only notification. This is just one more example of the Bush Administration's efforts to quietly undermine our nation's environmental protections. Washington should be working to expand corporate disclosure and accountability, rather than moving to allow polluters to conceal their toxic releases.

Jim Jeffords, independent of Vermont, is the ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Julie Fox Gorte is a vice president and the chief social investment strategist for the Calvert Group.

Jes' dandy.

Tags: , /

Exporting Censorship

| 1 Comment

Xeni Jardin is 110% right: internet filters are antithetical to the America I live in (albeit, not in the America that Tom Monaghan and other members of the Christian Taliban wants to live in).

Exporting Censorship - New York Times AMERICAN technology firms are taking heat from the public and Congress for helping China's government police the Internet. But this controversy extends well beyond China and the so-called Internet Gang of Four: Google, Yahoo, Cisco and Microsoft. Just how many American companies are complicit hit home for me last month when dozens of readers of e-mailed us to say they had been suddenly denied access.

The cause was SmartFilter, a product from a Silicon Valley company, Secure Computing.
One of our most laudable national goals is the export of free speech and free information, yet American companies are selling censorship. While some advocates of technology rights have proposed consumer boycotts and Congressional action to pressure these firms into responsible conduct, a good first step would be adding filtering technologies to the United States Munitions List, an index of products for which exporters have to file papers with the State Department. While this won't end such sales, it will bring them to light and give the public and lawmakers a better basis on which to consider stronger steps. If American companies are already obligated to disclose the sale of bombs and guns to repressive regimes, why not censorware?

read the whole thing here

Tags: , /, /

Citibank and ATM fraud

Loneliness is an ATM
As first reported by boingboing, several days ago, Citibank customers had their money fountains turned off. Quite a problem for this guy, Jake Appelbaum , travelling in Canada and who hadn't planned on returning to the US for several months.

BoingBoing pal and Citibank customer Jake Appelbaum tried to withdraw some cash with his ATM card on Saturday night. He initiated his bank account long ago in the US, but was in Toronto, Canada yesterday. Jake explains: To my surprise, the ATM machine rejected the transaction and urged me to contact my financial institution. The machine also reported on the receipt “INELIGIBLE ACCOUNT.”

Jake called Citibank's international customer support number, and soon learned that the lockout was part of a much larger fraud crisis -- by no means the only data security issue at Citibank in recent months.

Chicago Tribune | Citibank uncovers debit card fraud
Citibank has frozen the use of an undisclosed number of debit cards in three countries after detecting “several hundred” fraudulent cash withdrawals in PIN-based transactions. The data was stolen from the U.S., but the transactions occurred in Russia, Canada and the United Kingdom.

“Citibank and our customers were the victims of a third-party business information breach” last year, the company said in a statement. “We immediately began enhanced monitoring of the affected accounts for fraud, and in mid-February we detected several hundred fraudulent cash withdrawals in three countries.” To protect customers' accounts, Citibank blocked an undisclosed number of PIN-based transactions in those locations, the company said.

Citibank blamed the breach on OfficeMax:

A story in Wednesday's New York Times, citing unidentified sources, said it appeared that the Citibank debit card information was obtained through a security breach at OfficeMax Inc., the Itasca-based office supplies retailer.

OfficeMax said Wednesday that it had “no knowledge of a security breach.”

curiouser, and curiouser....

from the New York Times:

Citigroup said it halted such transactions in Canada, Britain and Russia after detecting an unspecified number of fraudulent cash withdrawals from automated teller machines last month. Other big banks, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Washington Mutual, have taken similar steps, they said.

All of the banks said they would provide new cards to customers whose accounts were compromised.
[however, requiring customers to return home]

Banking industry executives said it appeared that debit card information, including personal identification numbers, was obtained through a security breach of computer files at OfficeMax, the office supply chain. Storing PIN information violates the payment industry's security rules.

The executives spoke on the condition that they and their companies not be identified because their companies were involved in the case and they were not allowed to speak publicly about it.

William Bonner, an OfficeMax spokesman, denied the company was the source. “We have no knowledge of a security breach at OfficeMax,” he said. He said he could neither confirm nor deny whether files containing PIN's were ever kept.

It is possible that another source of the breach could be identified at a bank or payment processor handling PIN-based transactions.

The lawyerly phrases, “have no knowledge,” and “neither confirm nor deny,” usually mean that the spokesman strongly suspects, but has been walking down the hallways with fingers in his ears going 'lalala' so as not to overhear any facts. In other words, in this instance, OfficeMax probably was the source of the fraud.

update more here

Of interest to me, and maybe 1 other of my regular 7 readers. For the rest of you - just let your eyes glaze over....

MacFixIt - An introduction to reading Mac OS X crash reports
The advent of the CrashReporter in Mac OS X was a boon for developers -- suddenly, a capsule of what caused the problem with a given application could be instantly captured by the end user and sent back to the developer for examination.

Unfortunately, deciphering the logs generated by CrashReporter (stored in ~/Library/Logs/CrashReporter) can be a daunting task, making them less than explanatory for a user attempting to diagnose problems on their own systems.

The following is a quick introduction to pulling salient information from crash reports and using them in potential troubleshooting routines.

new Haymarket Riot book

Haymarket Riot memorial, old version.
Haymarket Riot memorial plaque, after the statue of the Chicago Police was taken down, but before Mary Brogger's new statue was installed.

Haymarket Memorial in snow
new Haymarket Riot memorial (abstracted figures only)

Death in the Haymarket
Death in the Haymarket
looks like a quite interesting book. Then again, I've adopted the Haymarket seeing as I live/work so close to it. Note to potential stalkers - there are plenty of dwellings within a block radius, so don't get your hopes up.


On May 4, 1886, several anarchists had addressed a crowd in the Haymarket, a square in Chicago two blocks long where farmers sold produce. When nearly a hundred and eighty policemen arrived to break up the rally, someone threw a bomb, and the police opened fire. At least seven patrolmen died, and at least four civilians. Over the next few weeks, the authorities rounded up and detained hundreds of the city’s anarchists. Eight men were put on trial for murder, the most prominent of whom were Albert Parsons and August Spies (pronounced “Spees”). Parsons led the city’s English-speaking anarchists, and Spies the German-speaking ones. Aside from Parsons and a teamster named Samuel Fielden, the defendants were of German ethnicity: Michael Schwab had assisted Spies in editing the movement’s German-language newspapers; George Engel and Adolph Fischer had belonged to a militant cell; Louis Lingg, a wild young man, had dabbled in bomb-making; and Oscar Neebe, a yeast-maker, had served on a few anarchist committees.

The prosecution never proved that any of the eight had planned, committed, or even known in advance about the Haymarket bombing. Instead, it relied on their words. All of them had praised violence in the cause of socioeconomic justice. “If we would achieve our liberation,” Parsons had told a crowd of protesters in April of 1885, “every man must lay by a part of his wages, buy a Colt’s navy revolver, a Winchester rifle, and learn how to make and use dynamite.” The prosecution argued that anarchism itself constituted a conspiracy to commit murder, and the jurors agreed, sentencing all but one of the defendants to death. The person who actually threw the bomb was never identified.

William Morris, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, and Friedrich Engels signed petitions on behalf of the condemned, but Howells was virtually the only American writer to do so. “For many weeks, for months, it has not been for one hour out of my waking thoughts,” he wrote. “It blackens my life.” The newspapers mocked him for caring—over one of his heartfelt letters, the Chicago Tribune printed the snide headline “MR. HOWELLS IS DISTRESSED”—and called the anarchists Europe’s “scum and offal”; they were hyenas, wolves, vipers, savages, cutthroats, and fiends. One student of the Haymarket affair has called it “the first major ‘red-scare’ in American history.”

article continues here

Haymarket Riot Memorial another view.

(clicking photos makes 'em embiggen).

(oh, and thanks to CorrenteWire for the reference, such that it was. I hadn't gotten my New Yorker yet.)

Tags: , /, /

Free spending ways

Remind me again how the Rethuglicans have been anointed as the fiscally responsible party? Oh, yeah, by lying, repeatedly. - U.S. Annual War Spending Grows
As the U.S. enters its fourth year in Iraq this month, the annual cost of military operations is growing -- even as the Pentagon assumes the number of troops there will shrink.

Monthly expenditures are running at $5.9 billion; the U.S. commitment in Afghanistan adds roughly another $1 billion. Taken together, annual spending for the two wars will reach $117.6 billion for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 -- 18% above funding for the prior 12 months.

That escalation reflects the fact that America's military today is a higher-cost war machine than the one that fought in Vietnam decades ago. But it has also produced bipartisan concern in Congress that “emergency spending” for Iraq has become a way for the Pentagon to meet other needs.

War costs are rising despite Pentagon estimates of lower personnel costs: $2.6 billion for 2006, or 14% less than in 2005. Offsetting that decline is an increased request for procurement of new equipment: $25.7 billion in 2006, up from the $18.8 billion Congress provided in 2005. And year-by-year comparisons show that appropriations for operations and maintenance spending for the Army and Marines are rising by better than 30%.

Higher fuel prices are a factor. In addition, the Army must hire more contractors for logistical chores previously handled by National Guard forces, who have returned home after their mobilization has run its course. “They don't have enough people,” said Rep. John Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat.

...Already, $50 billion in war-related emergency spending has been approved for 2006 as part of a “bridge fund” added to the annual defense-appropriations bill in December. When the new request is added, that brings the total to $117.6 billion for 2006, compared with about $99.8 billion in 2005.

The process can be difficult to follow. Congress, at the request of the White House, continues to fund the war incrementally as an “emergency.” That places spending outside the customary spending ceilings that apply to annual appropriations to run the government.

...Typically a “bridge fund” is approved as an addendum to the regular Pentagon budget in the fall. This is followed by a spring supplemental-spending bill, such as the one now in the House...

Adding to confusion is the changing nomenclature for various accounts. For example, the “Iraq Freedom Fund” was prominent early during the war, but has seemed to fade as the money is reallocated to operations accounts. But when set out in order, the four most recent bills -- two for 2005, two for 2006 -- provide a picture of what the annual costs have become on a year-by-year basis.

The Army's operations and maintenance budget, the largest of the services for the war, illustrates these changes. Total appropriations for Army O&M were $30.5 billion in 2005, but the number is expected to rise to $39.7 billion this year. And as much as $1.75 billion has been budgeted for the rest of the year to pay contractors for logistical support work.

Yeah, slick. Less personnel, more equipment. Somebody is making out like a robber baron. Except since our national budget is operating at such an incredible deficit, this is all borrowed money.

Tags: , /

Commerce versus Art


part the 5645564th. - Penguin Rolls Dice With Novice Authors

Penguin, the publisher of such best-selling novelists as Tom Clancy and Patricia Cornwall, has taken an unusual gamble to prop up sagging profit: publishing more first-time authors.
About a year and a half ago, worried that book advances were getting too large, the company decided to cut costs by hiring more unknowns. First-timers typically command a smaller advance, the fee a publisher pays the author before a book is published, and, sometimes, before it is written.
“The industry has reached a point where the level of advances for best-selling authors has parted company with the revenue that those authors generate,” Penguin head John Makinson said in an interview last week.

..The shift involves risks for the 71-year-old publisher. Unknown writers generally don't deliver big, reliable sales. Their work is harder to promote to the public and to important booksellers like Barnes & Noble Inc. The strategy could backfire, leaving Penguin with lower costs but also lower sales. If a book bombs, the author doesn't have to pay back his or her advance...
But in recent years, Penguin has had some successes with new authors. Georgia nurse Sue Monk Kidd's first novel, “The Secret Life of Bees,” sold 4.5 million copies. “The Kite Runner,” the first book from Afghan doctor Khaled Hosseini, sold three million copies. Penguin said these books helped persuade it to publish more novice writers.

[comment redacted. More power to the first-timers.]


Nipping and Tucking on Both Coasts

At last, a subject MoDo can really sink her teeth into: BOTOX. Meh.

Nipping and Tucking on Both Coasts - New York Times
There is a crash of ideologies between the country's two most self-regarding and fantasy-spinning power centers. The Bush crowd cringes away from gay cowboys spooning, gay authors flouncing, transgender babes exploring and George the Dashing Clooneying in movies about the glories of free speech and the dangers of oilmen influencing policy.

Oh, go ahead, read the rest while you can...

Vermont Towns Have Sense

Hmmm, sounds like a good precedent. If so many municipalities can hold referendums against the Patriot Act, why not impeachment as well? Natarus, my alderman, likes to get his name in the paper - maybe he'll sponsor a series of impeachment hearings at City Hall?

Chicago Tribune | Vermont Towns Endorse Move to Impeach Bush
In five Vermont communities, a centuries-old tradition of residents gathering in town halls to conduct local business became a vehicle to send a message to Washington: Impeach the president. An impeachment article, approved by a paper ballot 121-29 in Newfane Tuesday, calls on Vermont's lone member of the U.S. House, independent Rep. Bernie Sanders, to file articles of impeachment against President Bush, alleging he misled the nation into the Iraq war and engaged in illegal domestic spying. “It absolutely affects us locally,” said Newfane select board member Dan DeWalt, who drafted the impeachment article. “It's our sons and daughters, our mothers and fathers, who are dying” in the war in Iraq. At least four other Vermont towns, spurred by publicity about Newfane's resolution, endorsed similar resolutions during Tuesday's meetings: Brookfield, Dummerston, Marlboro and Putney.

Unfortunately, Sanders isn't so gung ho, probably because he's running for Senate at the moment:

Sanders issued a statement after the Newfane vote saying that although the Bush administration “has been a disaster for our country, and a number of actions that he has taken may very well not have been legal,” given the reality that the Republicans control the House and the Senate, “it would be impractical to talk about impeachment.”

So, don't bother sending me any more fund raising letters Congressman Sanders, ok?

Tags: , /, /

Gordon Parks RIP

Gordon Parks 1912--2006 Social critic was armed with lens. “I chose my camera as a weapon against all the things I dislike about America--poverty, racism, discrimination.” So said Gordon Parks in his searingly powerful 1966 autobiography “A Choice of Weapons,” a bold statement that aptly revealed two sides of this complex, brilliant and ultimately heroic artist: the outward anger against injustice and the love that lay beneath it. Both helped fuel his rise from Kansas rural poverty to world fame.

Parks, who died Tuesday in his New York City home at the age of 93, was a true Renaissance man who had an astonishing array of gifts and talents. He excelled in many areas and lived an improbably full, inspiring and productive life.

A Choice of Weapons
A Choice of Weapons



Argonne Nuke rebuked

More fuel for nuclear power apologists. Why worry, right? Since nothing dire happened, that we know of, let us just pretend that nothing at all happened. In fact, why bother with fines and penalties. Let us just trust in the power of public shame.

Nuclear safety rebuke to Argonne
The University of Chicago, which manages Argonne National Laboratory for the federal government and is seeking to have its contract extended, was cited Tuesday for nuclear safety violations at the lab that date back many years.

The rebuke by the Energy Department is serious, in part because it comes at a time when the University's control of Argonne is in limbo for the first time in 60 years. The department, which owns and funds Argonne, said that it was only a matter of good luck that chronic failure to follow safety procedures has not hurt someone.
Infractions cited by Sohinki included inadequate training and authority for Argonne's nuclear safety officers, poor record keeping and several instances of failing to follow the precise nuclear safety procedures dictated by the department for facilities that handle radioactive materials.

In one instance Argonne failed to post required warning signs at the entrance to an area in one building. In another instance several pieces of equipment that could emit ionizing radiation were not properly labeled with warnings.

Tags: , /, /

Cleaning your digital-camera sensor

Amazingly, I recently complained about this on one of my flickr photos, and flickr buddy Rob Bernhard gave essentially the same advice. I haven't had a chance to open up my camera yet (also a D70), but have gotten a cleaning kit.
As I Went Out one morning
As I Went Out one morning

(click to see spot, and comments)

Macworld: Secrets: Cleaning your digital-camera sensor
Should you be out of the know, it’s like this: When you switch lenses on your SLR, it’s possible for the camera to collect small specks of dust on the sensor—the light-sensitive silicon chip that samples incoming light. Even without changing lenses, you can collect dust when shooting in dry, dusty environments. These bits of dust manifest themselves as tiny (and sometimes, not-so-tiny) spots on your pictures.
Nikon tells you precious little about the ways and means of cleaning a D70’s sensor so it was off to purchase Thom Hogan’s $34.90 Complete Guide to the Nikon D70 & D70s. I won’t give away the plot of Thom’s PDF guide other than to say that he provides more details and recommendations on how to go about cleaning the sensor than does the Nikon manual that comes with your D70 purchase.


Haplogroup R1B


I don't think I ever posted the results of my DNA swab, as described here. Briefly, the National Geographic Society is conducting a rather large study, attempting to map out human history via DNA swabs. Comparatively wealthy citizens of the world pay $100 for their samples, in order to underwrite the collection efforts for less wealthy areas of the world.

Haplogroup R1B M343

Unfortunately, the cool stuff is a Flash file, hidden for participants only, including art samples of Upper Paleolithic man, explanation of the migration to England which my ancestors apparently did, etc. Very cool stuff. Here is what I've managed to extract.

How to Interpret Your Results Above are results from the laboratory analysis of your Y-chromosome. Your DNA was analyzed for Short Tandem Repeats (STRs), which are repeating segments of your genome that have a high mutation rate. The location on the Y chromosome of each of these markers is depicted in the image, with the number of repeats for each of your STRs presented to the right of the marker. For example, DYS19 is a repeat of TAGA, so if your DNA repeated that sequence 12 times at that location, it would appear: DYS19 12. Studying the combination of these STR lengths in your Y Chromosome allows researchers to place you in a haplogroup, which reveals the complex migratory journeys of your ancestors. Y-SNP: In the event that the analysis of your STRs was inconclusive, your Y chromosome was also tested for the presence of an informative Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP). These are mutational changes in a single nucleotide base, and allow researchers to definitively place you in a genetic haplogroup.

DNA migration Map
DNA migration Map

Entire migratory history below 'the fold'. Some of it is beyond my understanding, but it is still fascinating.

Chicago architecture

| 1 Comment

Aeeii, I wish my passport was still current. Really need to fix that. Not that I could go right now anyway, but it is good to dream....

only view of the skyline I could find after looking for 11 seconds, possibly to be replaced when I have a few moments

Telegraph - When the sky was the limit

Chicago feels like the ultimate American city. Riding the elevated railway among its towers of steel and glass, you can feel that upward-soaring thrust of all-American energy and optimism. Powering towards the city through sleet, as I did on my arrival, seeing its monumental skyline materialising out of the mist, you have the sense that Chicago, even more than New York, is the city that embodies America's true 20th-century spirit.

...A major new exhibition at Tate Modern illuminates the role of two crucial figures - the German painter Josef Albers, who turned a sleepy North Carolina college into a bastion of the avant garde, and the multi-talented Hungarian László Moholy-Nagy, who tried to recreate the Bauhaus, the seminal, ultra-functionalist German design school, here in the American Mid-Wes

link via GapersBlock

Tags: , /, /

Ali Farka Toure RIP

| 1 Comment

Never had the pleasure to see him perform live, and now I never will.

BBC NEWS | World | Africa | African star Ali Farka Toure dies One of Africa's best known musicians, Ali Farka Toure, has died after a long illness in his home country of Mali, the culture ministry has announced.

In 2004, he was elected mayor of his home town of Niafunke on the shores of the River Niger in northern Mali.

Mali's prime minister, culture minister and many of Mali's top artists have been gathering at his home to pay their respects ahead of his funeral on Wednesday.

During the 1990s rebellion by the Tuareg people of northern Mali, Toure was seen as something of a peacemaker by singing in all of the region's languages - Songhai, Fulani and the Tuareg's Tamashek.

Great musician to explore, especially if you listen to American blues, or its step-child, rock.

A few jumping off points -

The Source

 Ali Farka Toure
“Ali Farka Toure” (Ali Farka Toure)

Talking Timbuktu (Ali Farka Toure & Ry Cooder)
“Talking Timbuktu” (Ali Farka Toure & Ry Cooder)

Fundy joy


I wonder if the Intelligent Design folks plan to protest this upcoming exhibit? I'd like to see an update of the 1968 Democratic Convention, only this time, for the Chicago police to crack the skulls of the religious fundies....

Field exhibit out to show we've come a long way
A menagerie of some of the oddest, most outlandish and spectacular animals ever to have lived goes on display this week in the Field Museum's vast new $17 million exhibit on evolution, “Evolving Planet.”

All the animals lived long ago, some of the most weirdly entertaining ones swimming around long before the age of dinosaurs

The 27,000-square-foot exhibit, one of the museum's biggest, is designed to state the case for science and evolution in the national debate over evolutionary theory versus creationism and intelligent design.

Dinosaur lovers should be pleased. “Evolving Planet” devotes the middle third of its exhibit space to the museum's outstanding collection of dinosaur fossils and casts, expanding its former display.

There is far more to “Evolving Planet,” however, than dinosaurs. It opens with a computer animation of a lifeless Earth 4 billion years ago, speculating on two theories of how life started here, either as bacteria in deep ocean thermal vents or imported from space by crashing meteorites.

From there the museum's exhibit wizards bring early plants and animals to life in front of visitors.

To show ocean life 530 million years ago in the Cambrian Period, for example, the exhibit presents visitors with a 30-foot curved wall with three huge high-definition screens that look like a single window into a giant aquarium.

and somehow, I think this poll was flawed, either in methodology, or in execution. If I wasn't otherwise occupied, I'd look for some details about it - seems fishy.

A nationwide poll in October showed that 53 percent of adult Americans surveyed believed “God created humans in their present form exactly the way the Bible describes it.” That indicates many Americans agree more with creationist theory than with evolution.

In response to that sentiment, science museums around the country have been developing new evolution exhibits, the Field's perhaps being the biggest to date.

The exhibit doesn't engage in the debate of evolution versus creationism and intelligent design, both of which argue that life and the universe came from a purposeful plan by a creator.

“I respect religion and other people's beliefs,” said Martin, “but I am a scientist, and we are a science museum. We establish what we know from observable evidence.”
It is perhaps relatively easy to get visitor attention with spectacularly doomed dinosaurs and oddball, 500-million-year-old carnivores from Cambrian seas. To get them to understand complex evolutionary concepts is more difficult, and the staff makes use of videos, models and interactive display techniques to do so.

“We really like the animated video we use here, `Evolution Essentials,' which shows visitors how natural selection works and how we know it works,” said Tubutis. “That is very important in the current public debate about evolution versus creationism.”

Update 3/9/06: Shakespeare's Sister has more (read the comments especially)

from the sari in the comments:

I'm so excited that you're all excited.

I work in the museum field and this has been a HUGE issue in the past year. For a while the science museum listserv was overwhelmed with discussions on how to deal with intelligent design/creationism. They take this very seriously. Several museums have created programs to train floor staff on how to talk with visitors who challenge them about the validity of evolution.

Most science museums in the country, as well as the national organization (Association of Science and Technology Centers) have taken a strong, proactive stand to support the teaching of evolution.

The Museum of Natural History in NYC opened a Darwin exhibit a few months ago. I read that they couldn't get a single major corporate sponsor. Yet - they still went ahead. So - good for them too!

Tags: , /, /, /

We knew this day was coming

just didn't know when. Apparently, now. The gold rush is coming soon....(previous, plus here and here)

Wal-Mart Enlists Bloggers in Its Public Relations Campaign
Wal-Mart is looking beyond the mainstream media and working directly with bloggers. But the strategy raises concerns about what bloggers should disclose to readers.

Brian Pickrell, a blogger, recently posted a note on his Web site attacking state legislation that would force Wal-Mart Stores to spend more on employee health insurance. “All across the country, newspaper editorial boards — no great friends of business — are ripping the bills,” he wrote.

It was the kind of pro-Wal-Mart comment the giant retailer might write itself. And, in fact, it did.

Several sentences in Mr. Pickrell's Jan. 20 posting — and others from different days — are identical to those written by an employee at one of Wal-Mart's public relations firms and distributed by e-mail to bloggers.

Under assault as never before, Wal-Mart is increasingly looking beyond the mainstream media and working directly with bloggers, feeding them exclusive nuggets of news, suggesting topics for postings and even inviting them to visit its corporate headquarters.

..The author of the e-mail messages is a blogger named Marshall Manson, a senior account supervisor at Edelman who writes for conservative Web sites like Human Events Online, which advocates limited government, and Confirm Them, which has pushed for the confirmation of President Bush's judicial nominees.
Wal-Mart has warned bloggers against lifting text from the e-mail it sends them. After apparently noticing the practice, Mr. Manson asked them to “resist the urge,” because “I'd be sick if someone ripped you because they noticed a couple of bloggers with nearly identical posts.”

But Mr. Manson has not encouraged bloggers to reveal that they communicate with Wal-Mart or to attribute information to either the retailer or Edelman, Ms. Williams of Wal-Mart said

Full disclosure: Wal-mart has never paid me off. :) Nor has any other business for that matter. But then, I'm a C list blogger on-line 'zine, and I am pretty sure I wouldn't take the money, from Wal-Mart anyway. Unless it was millions and millions, and included a pony.

Especially because the politics of Wal-Mart are so antithetical to my own.

At Edelman, Mr. Manson, who sends many of the e-mail messages to bloggers, works closely on the Wal-Mart account with Mike Krempasky, a co-founder of, a conservative blog. Both are regular bloggers, which in Mr. Manson's case means he has written critically of individuals and groups Wal-Mart may eventually call on for support.

Before he was hired by Edelman in November, Mr. Manson wrote on the Human Events Online blog that members of the San Francisco city council were “dolts” and “twits” for rejecting a proposed World War II memorial and that every day “the United Nations slides further and further into irrelevance.” After he was hired, Mr. Manson wrote that the career of Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island was marked by “pointless indecision.”

I don't write much about Wal-Mart really, because I've actually never visited one. Though I did wonder why I was getting site traffic to this page, and this one, from my earlier publication. Perhaps Ikea is interested in paying me off? Ahem. Seriously, though, half of the fun of being a blogger on-line 'zine writer is being snarky or sarcastic, even caustic about businesses - writing unfiltered propaganda or PR doesn't interest me in the slightest.

update: Atrios adds:

The public relations industry existed long before bloggers came along and they had reporters' phone numbers long before they had the email addresses of bloggers. Barely edited press releases have long been published, especially at smaller newspapers. I get press releases and information from all over the place all the time. Obviously disclosure is a nice idea if there are any financial relationships, a practice not always followed by our hallowed 4th estate, but if people want to devote their blogs to throwing up Wal Mart press releases they're free.

The main reason stories like this are even written is that contrary to popular opinion the internet often provides a lot more transparency even when there are efforts to hide it. Astroturfing operations of various kinds through all media are nothing new, they're just usually harder to track. If Wal Mart pays 50 people to call talk radio all day and extol its virtues would anyone know?

Tags: , /, /

Sprint Nextel

Business briefs/leads:


NEW YORK ( -- Sprint Nextel has consolidated its $745 million media buying and planning business at WPP Group’s MindShare, the marketer said.
A Sprint spokeswoman said the business previously was divided into two pieces, Starcom with the larger consumer piece and MindShare with the business portion of the account. MindShare also will pick up the online portion of Sprint's business.

In June, Sprint chose TBWA/Chiat/Day, New York, for consumer advertising and the Omnicom Group-owned agency crafted a campaign around the tagline “Yes, you can.”
Business-to-business work was assigned to Publicis's Publicis & Hal Riney.

Technorati Tags:

pharmacist duties


So, an employee of Walgreens can decide on his own how best to fulfill his job duties? Cool.

Chicago Tribune | No middle ground for pharmacist
Pharmacist John Menges heard the clicking of heels in the Walgreens store where he worked, and his heart raced. Tipped by a fellow pharmacist, Menges knew his managers were coming for his $100,000-a-year job because he refused on religious grounds to comply with state law and company policy to dispense an emergency contraceptive.

“It just hurts,” Menges recalled telling former co-workers that morning in late November. “But I'm not going to compromise on my beliefs.”

I still don't understand Mr. Menges and why he is so reluctant to work somewhere else if dispensing contraceptives is abhorrent to him. If I worked for Walgreens or any retail store in the US, I would have to charge a 'service fee' of twice whatever the price of the item was, payable directly to me, in cash, to anyone who didn't wear either a pirate eye patch or have a parrot perched on their left shoulder. Because of my religion, of course. I'm not going to compromise on my beliefs either. And if you fire me, I plan on suing. For do the scriptures not say, “God helps those who help themselves to the riches of others?” Or something. Ahem.

The company said it offered Menges work just 30 miles to the west in Missouri, where there are no state Plan B mandates. Menges refused, a company spokesman said.

Walgreens put him on unpaid leave, but the company terminated him when Menges filed for unemployment, the spokesman said. Menges says the company never offered workable alternatives and that the company's actions were tantamount to firing him. Walgreens' offer of a job in Missouri came with a demotion to graduate student pay, Menges said, and would have had him floating from store to store.

Until the Illinois directive, Walgreens rode a delicate balance, allowing pharmacists to opt out of filling prescriptions on moral grounds while finding another pharmacist or pharmacy to fill them.

While many national experts on pharmacists' ethics oppose the directives, some wonder why Menges would not choose alternative employment. The metro St. Louis area is short dozens of needed pharmacists, industry experts said, and Menges could continue to do vital service.

“He could work in a hospital or a mail-order facility or a nearby state,” said Robert Buerkl, a pharmacy professor at Ohio State University and an expert in industry ethics. “Why would you want to work in a place where people get in your face?”

Seriously, why would you?

Tags: , /, /

A guy with some free time

The funny thing is, this almost sounds like a fun experiment. I'd target liquor companies first though.

The $39 Experiment: Asking Random Companies for Free Stuff
With that said, I decided I was going to try something — I was going to take my roll of stamps and send 100 letters to 100 different companies, asking for free stuff. I figured that I couldn't do any worse than blowing the $39 at a casino, and who knows... maybe a few of these places would actually send me something good.

From Eric Zorn


Pulaski Day

I knew there was a reason we are supremely unmotivated today - it is a holiday! In Illinois at least.

Pulaski Day
Sometimes called the “Father of American Cavalry,” Casimir Pulaski was born March 4th, 1747, in Warka, Poland. (It may have been 1746 or 1748.) He became a national Polish hero in 1771, when he and his army overwhelmingly defeated Russian forces in Czestochwa, Poland. Pulaski was wrongly accused in a plot to capture and kill the King of Poland and was banished from Poland.
The first Monday in March has been designated Pulaski Day in Illinois.

More infohere

From 1777 to 1779, he fought for independence of the United States in the American Revolution under the command of George Washington. Pulaski was a noted cavalryman and played a large role in training Revolutionary troops, creating Pulaski's Legion, one of the few cavalry regiments in the contemporary US army. He took part in the Siege of Charleston (Charleston, South Carolina) and siege of Savannah (Savannah, Georgia).

During a cavalry charge, on October 9, 1779, while probing for a weak point in the British lines at the battle of Savannah, Pulaski was mortally wounded by a grapeshot. He was carried from the field of battle by several comrades, including Colonel John C. Cooper. He was wounded in the groin and was taken aboard the privateer merchant brigantine Wasp. Two days later, on October 11, 1779, he died of wounds without regaining consciousness.

According to several contemporary witnesses, including his aide-de-camp, he was buried at sea, however a long standing rumor persists that the wounded Pulaski was actually taken to Greenwich plantation near Savannah where he later died and was buried. An eight year long examination of the remains buried at the plantation ended in 2004 having failed to reach a definitive conclusion.

Tags: , /


| 1 Comment

From Stuart Elliot of the NYT

The campaign, now under way, introduces a company called US Helicopter, which plans to soon start service between the Downtown Manhattan Heliport and Kennedy International Airport. The campaign includes a Web site (, banner ads and search-engine marketing as well as advertisements in newspapers and magazines.

The campaign, from an agency known as The Gate Worldwide in New York, seeks to promote the service by branding it as “the eight-minute airport shuttle.” Calling the scheduled flights a shuttle is, of course, evocative of the airlines, bearing brand names like Delta, Eastern and US Airways, that have for decades linked New York with Boston and Washington.

The goal of the campaign for US Helicopter is to convince the target audience -- among them, well-heeled Wall Streeters,
busy lawyers, senior executives and frequent travelers -- that the time they save in traveling compared with a taxicab
or car service more than makes up for the cost of a ticket(the introductory fare is $139 each way, plus taxes and

Now here is an underutilized advertising medium: barf bags:

The role being played by The Gate Worldwide, formerly Citigate Albert Frank, extends well beyond creating the elements of the campaign. The agency has been involved in developing and designing aspects of the new service ranging from the interior and exterior of the helicopters to the crew uniforms to the motion-sickness bags.

The introductory ads for US Helicopter, which is now scheduled to start service on March 27, began appearing last week in The New York Times and are to continue this week in The Wall Street Journal. Plans also call for them to run in Bloomberg Markets magazine and on Bloomberg terminals.Later this year, Mr. Fraser says, the ads are to run in publications like Business Week, The Financial Times, Forbes, Fortune, Inc., The Los Angeles Times and The New Yorker.

Search-engine marketing will be an important part of the online campaign, Mr. McSullivan says, adding, “We've identified as many as 200 keywords, like 'limo to the airport,' 'taxi to the airport' and 'helicopter charter.'”

The total budget for the campaign in the first year, he adds, is $1.5 million to $2 million, which also includes promotion and collateral materials.

I myself haven't been to New York in a few years, but D was just there on business a couple weeks ago, and she payed 85 dollars for a cab ride to the airport (plus tip, I'm assuming). So, if time was really tight after some meeting/appointment, I could see an 8 minute flight as being an attractive option, especially if one of our clients/vendors was picking up the bill, and if I had a camera with me. The charter bus to Newark is about $20, but it takes about 45 minutes of travel time, plus traffic, plus whatever delays. Sometimes, there isn't enough time.

Parenthetical note: I never understood why such a major city like New York doesn't have a subway stop at the airport. Here in the Big Potato, both of the airports have El stops, and there is even talk of adding a direct line from downtown.

Tags: , /


In the pre-TSA/9-11 years, I always carried a spare corkscrew in my luggage. Ya never know....

W. C. Fields
“Reminds me of my safari in Africa. Somebody forgot the corkscrew and for several days we had to live on nothing but food and water.”

Doonesbury and ID

Doonesbury and “Teach the Controversy”

Intelligent Design Doonsbury

(note, certain folks cannot seem to spell Mr. Doonesbury's name correctly, including my un-caffeinated self, mistyping Doonsbury in the alt tag in the above image. Doh!)

Tags: , /

It Was Gloriously Bumpy

Dorothy Rabinowitz has Betty Davis eyes. - It Was Gloriously Bumpy:
Of the four men Bette Davis married, tortured mismatches all, one at least managed to contribute to her Hollywood legacy. When she won the best-actress Academy Award for “Dangerous” in 1936, the story goes, she looked down at the statuette and, having perceived there a resemblance to the neat backside of her otherwise unimpressive first husband, Harmon O. Nelson -- the O stood for Oscar -- she decided to nickname her prize “Oscar.” When newspapers picked up the story, the award became known forever after as the Oscar -- a claim with which the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences begged to differ.

“The Girl Who Walked Home Alone : Bette Davis, A Personal Biography” (Charlotte Chandler)

Bette Davis, among the greats? No doubt - she certainly has been on my TiVo searchlist for as long as I've owned a TiVo.

... She had argued more than a few cases with the motion picture academy in her tenure -- if such a word can apply to a reign of two days -- as the first woman president of the academy, deemed an enormous honor when she was elected, early in 1941, at the height of her fame. The country was still nearly a year away from war, but it was war that was on her mind when she greeted the academy, her first night as president, and began, straight off, to talk about the plight of America's friends in Europe and their struggle against the Nazis. She advised the startled academy members that their organization should show some awareness of this state of affairs. Seats to the Academy Awards should be sold that year, she maintained, and “the proceeds given to British War Relief.” Not the sort of order of business that academy members were accustomed to hearing.

The new president also had ideas about the awards themselves, specifically the voting process, evidently unsettling to the academy. She quickly decided, in turn, that her ideas would never be taken seriously by this group, whose members had, she suspected, elected her to be a mere figurehead, for her fame. Bette's nearly instant resignation so upset producer Darryl Zanuck, her chief supporter for the presidency, that he ceased speaking to her for nearly a decade.

That moment, when she reminded the academy members that there were matters in the world more urgent than awards galas, was characteristic -- a foreshadowing of her haunted feelings, as war drew near, that acting was impossibly trivial work, under the circumstances: Hitler had conquered most of Europe, and it seemed daily that England might go under. Not surprising, then, that she seized on actor John Garfield's idea for a Hollywood Canteen for U.S. servicemen early in the war, an enterprise into which she threw herself heart and soul. She and fellow actors hurled themselves into every aspect of the war effort they could, undertook exhausting War Bond tours, formed a Victory Committee.

Who can imagine something like a Victory Committee in today's Hollywood -- that society packed with politically progressive luminaries who hold it as an article of faith that all actions of the U.S. military are suspect, that American armies are sent to war thanks to the machinations of corporate conspirators?

Um, Ms. Rabinowitz: care to add any quotes in support of this inflammatory quote? There are lots of “Corporate Conspirator War Bond drives”, right? Guess I just haven't had time to catch up on their thick stack of press releases.

She continues:

... “The Girl Who Walked Alone” is a hodge-podge of too many familiar stories -- where Davis biography is concerned,

More Than a Woman

James Spada's “More Than a Woman” remains unequaled. Even so, the Chandler book offers, between its paddings, more than a few nuggets of new information on the greatest of all American actresses.

Somehow, without evidence, I imagine Charlotte Chandler once voiced an opinion contrary to George Bush, or claimed global warming was a problem, and some WSJ reporter overheard the remark. How else to explain Ms. Rabinowitz, who can only spare a sentence or two at the bottom of a 1500 word essay to discuss the actual book purportedly being reviewed?

“All About All About Eve : The Complete Behind-the-Scenes Story of the Bitchiest Film Ever Made!” (Sam Staggs)

A final bit of hyperbole, asserted as absolute 'fact-esque':

There were plenty of roles in which she could show off her glamour, though it is noteworthy that the most glamorous of all of them -- at least the one that exerted the most magical attraction for countless millions of filmgoers, even today -- was one she played when she was a not particularly youthful-looking 42. The part was, of course, that of Margo Channing, stage actress just turned 40 herself. The picture, “All About Eve” (1950) -- whose script, by Joseph Mankiewicz, is rightly considered, still, the most witty and literate ever to come out of Hollywood -- and the character of Margo Channing is in the end the one in which the Davis persona is permanently enshrined.

“All About Eve (Special Edition)” (Joseph L. Mankiewicz)

Granted, All About Eve is certainly one of the best Hollywood movies, maybe even top 50, but I don't recall seeing any poll judging it to be the most witty and literate, evah. Ms. Rabinowitz ought to stick to her proper and usual domain: the editorial pages for the Wall Street Journal, where facts are often trumped by ideology. The WSJ is such a strange paper - excellent reporting, paired with, how shall we say, strongly opinionated right-wing Republicans in charge of Op-Ed, and in this instance, book reviews.

Technorati Tags: ,

Agency of Record thing of past

Business briefs

...A number of marketers have recently moved from an agency-of-record approach to using a stable of shops for various parts of their accounts, most notably beer marketer Anheuser-Busch and retailer Target. Others drifting away from the AOR relationship include Motorola, Coca-Cola Co. and McDonald’s Corp. Even PepsiCo, long consolidated at Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, has placed some of its work to other shops of late, most recently shifting its $30 million Doritos account to BBDO sibling Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco.

Actually, we would like this model to catch on as we are obviously too small of an agency to ever be an Agency of Record for most large companies, but can, and do, work with advertisers on a project basis.

Technorati Tags:

No I don't want to work


I've been avoiding work all day, and now it is almost 3 pm. Almost there! Beer O'Clock, here I come.....

Some recent photos below. Please, if you must gamble, please give me a taste. (Click for larger versions, natch)

Water Tower Train Trestle
Water Tower Train Trestle

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Morning profits
Morning profits

Window spheres
Window Spheres

more below

Technorati Tags: ,

Just a theory

The mouth-breathers needn't worry: global warming is still just a theory. Facts are fulsome, not wholesome, lest you forget.

Antarctic Ice Sheet Is Melting Rapidly

The Antarctic ice sheet is losing as much as 36 cubic miles of ice a year in a trend that scientists link to global warming, according to a new paper that provides the first evidence that the sheet's total mass is shrinking significantly.

Congressional Democrats, including Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.) and Rep. Henry A. Waxman (Calif.) said yesterday that the two new papers show that the United States must act quickly to impose mandatory limits on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The Bush administration opposes such curbs on the grounds that they could hurt the country's economy and has instead invested money on new technology to limit greenhouse emissions and further climate science research.

“Climate change is not just someone else's concern but a very real threat to the lives and livelihood of people across the globe,” Kerry said.

Frostpocked duotone

That 100 acres of central Ontario land called Frostpocket is becoming more and more valuable. If I could only figure out how to get high speed internet access.....

Tags: , /, /

George the Unready

Because you know you want to read it, while you can.

George the Unready - New York Times
Iraqi insurgents, hurricanes and low-income Medicare recipients have three things in common. Each has been at the center of a policy disaster. In each case experts warned about the impending disaster. And in each case — well, let's look at what happened.
Knight Ridder's Washington bureau reports that from 2003 on, intelligence agencies “repeatedly warned the White House” that “the insurgency in Iraq had deep local roots, was likely to worsen and could lead to civil war.” But senior administration officials insisted that the insurgents were a mix of dead-enders and foreign terrorists.
Intelligence analysts who refused to go along with that line were attacked for not being team players. According to U.S. News & World Report, President Bush's reaction to a pessimistic report from the C.I.A.'s Baghdad station chief was to remark, “What is he, some kind of defeatist?”

Information wants to be free!

Compete with Wal-Mart, and have tiny, tiny margins, or compete with Whole Foods and have comfortable margins. Hmmmm.

Dominicks on Canal

Chicago Tribune | Dominick's wants slice of the high-end market
The Dominick's store opening Friday in Chicago's Streeterville neighborhood--the chain's first new store in three years--is not your typical grocery store.

New Sonic Youth record SYR-6

| 1 Comment

Received a new Sonic Youth record in the mail today: SYR 6 (Koncertas Stan Brakhage Prisiminimui).

Koncertas Stan Brakhage Prisiminimui (Sonic Youth)
“Koncertas Stan Brakhage Prisiminimui” (Sonic Youth)

Sonic Youth: SYR6: Koncertas Stan Brakhage Prisiminimui: Pitchfork Review
Sonic Youth's performance at the Anthology Film Archives in 2003 was intended as a commemorative tribute to Stan Brakhage, arguably the most influential filmmaker in the history of experimental cinema. Brakhage's death earlier that year was greeted with general indifference in major media outlets, and for a while SY seemed to be the only prominent outfit to even acknowledge his passing. (I learned of his death only via a press release for the tribute concert.) Four years earlier, Lee Ranaldo began the Text of Light cooperative, which is named after a 1974 Brakhage movie and regularly performs improv concerts at experimental cinema screenings. For the 2003 memorial, the full Sonic Youth troupe (and Tim Barnes of the Silver Jews) flaunted their most pretentious tendencies in front of Brakhage's short films.

I'm not entirely in agreement with the mostly dismissive review, even though I've been fairly ambivalent about most of Sonic Youth's more recent work. I also think the SYR series is much better than almost every Sonic Youth album since Washing Machine. I do like this description of the final track on SYR-6 (Heady Jam #3):

Consequently, the most successful moments are those which are nearly silent (in an improv-acoustic sort of way): bruised strings, tinny mic-stand tapping, muffled radio frequencies, zither-like electric effects, Barnes' railroad-spike percussion, Thurston Moore's wobbly tuning pegs. In fact, Sonic Youth's affinity for manual dexterity and physical texture correlates nicely with Brakhage's experiments on scratched and painted celluloid. In the final piece, a 28-minute marathon, these intimate and scarcely audible tinkerings assemble and dismantle, making way for brief prismatic stretches of methamphetic jazz guitar, spectral Western wah-wah, and static so conflagrant it literally sets off a fire alarm (twice). It's luminescent and jarring music, possibly the best ever released in the SYR series, and it evokes the spiritual metamorphosis and physical pliability that Brakhage found in film

Brakhage sounds like a model for the narrator's monastic father in Jonathan Lethem's book, Fortress of Solitude. Abraham Ebdus spends decades working on 'painted film', laboriously coloring in frame by frame, only taking time off to paint lurid covers for Sci-Fi novels in order to pay the bills.

From the Brakhage wiki:

Brakhage's films are usually silent and lack a traditional story, being more analogous to visual poetry than to prose story-telling. He often referred to them as “visual music.” His films range in length from just a few seconds to several hours, but most last between two or three minutes and one hour. Most of his work was done in 8mm or 16mm film, and he frequently hand-painted the film or scratched the image directly into the film emulsion, and sometimes used collage techniques. For Mothlight (1963), for example, he stuck moth wings, twigs, and leaves onto tape and made prints from it.

This collection looks interesting, and not only because it is a Criterion release:

By Brakhage - Anthology - Criterion Collection (Criterion)
“By Brakhage - Anthology - Criterion Collection” (Criterion)

Working completely outside the mainstream, Stan Brakhage has made nearly 400 films over the past half century. Challenging all taboos in his exploration of “birth, sex, death, and the search for God,” Brakhage has turned his camera on explicit lovemaking, childbirth, even actual autopsy. Many of his most famous works pursue the nature of vision itself and transcend the act of filming. Some, including the legendary Mothlight, were made without using a camera at all. Instead, Brakhage has pioneered the art of making images directly on film itself––starting with clear leader or exposed film, then drawing, painting, and scratching it by hand. Treating each frame as a miniature canvas, Brakhage can produce only a quarter- to a half-second of film a day, but his visionary style of image-making has changed everything from cartoons and television commercials to MTV music videos and the work of such mainstream moviemakers as Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, and Oliver Stone.

Criterion is proud to present 26 masterworks by Stan Brakhage in high-definition digital transfers made from newly minted film elements. For the first time on DVD, viewers will be able to look at Brakhage's meticulously crafted frames one by one.

Sounds like good meditative fodder, or unbearable tedium. Thanks to Sonic Youth for the suggestion. I'll soon find out if Brakhage is pretentious twaddle or not, once Netflix sends me the available discs.


For instance, here's a Stan Brakhage short.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Andy Warhol Exhibit

Warhol may not in the upper echelon of my Artist pantheon, my friendship with Steven Watson notwithstanding, but I still am interested in attending this lecture/opening/occasion-to-slurp-down-the-vino:

MCA Chicago

Members' Opening Night Party for ANDY WARHOL/SUPERNOVA: Stars, Deaths, Disasters, 1962- 1964
Friday, March 17, 6-9 pm

Private exhibition viewing, hors d’oeuvres, and cash bar Present your membership card or join at the door for free admission for you and a guest.

ANDY WARHOL/SUPERNOVA: Stars, Deaths, and Disasters,
March 18 – June 18, 2006

In the age of mass media, American culture has displayed an unequaled fascination with both celebrities and disasters. Andy Warhol was one of the first American artists to investigate this cultural obsession, in a body of silkscreen paintings created in the mid-1960s that drew their source materials from the magazines, films, and newspapers of American postwar consumer culture. Organized by the Walker Art Center and curated by Douglas Fogle, ANDY WARHOL/ SUPERNOVA will bring together more than 25 examples of the artist's early silkscreen paintings, juxtaposing his iconic serial images of such figures as Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, and Elvis Presley with the artist's evocative and at times disturbing appropriations of newspaper images of car crashes, electric chairs, and other horrifying manifestations of disaster. Focusing exclusively on the period between 1962 and 1964, the exhibition takes as its starting point the moment in Warhol's career when he shifted his practice from the handpainted to the mechanical reproduction of the photo silkscreen process. Producing his serial portraits of movie stars concurrently with numerous disasters reported in the print media, Warhol provided a glimpse into a prevailing condition of American modernity--our dual fascination with celebrity and tragedy--that today remains a key component of our national identity. Looking back at this body of masterworks that is now some forty years old, it becomes clear that little has changed in American culture and that these paintings are as relevant today as they were in 1964. The exhibition is accompanied by Warhol’s “Screen Tests,” source materials, films of Warhol's “superstars,” the film “Elvis at Ferus,” documenting his show at the Ferus Gallery, and a fully illustrated catalogue. The MCA presentation is coordinated by Curatorial Coordinator and Curator of Artists’ Books Tricia Van Eck.

Unfortunately, there seems to be reluctance to allow websites to display samples of Warhol's work. This whole copyright fiasco is getting out of hand. I'm not sure if I am breaking any laws by taking a screenshot of the error message however. DRM is for losers.

Warhol DRM
(as always, click for larger view)

Tags: , /, /, /

TiVo vs ABC

Actually makes more sense than the previous headline, TiVo vs. KFC. - ABC Rejects KFC Commercial, Citing Subliminal Advertising
ABC rejected KFC's new television commercial, which invites viewers to slowly replay the ad to find a secret message, citing the network's longstanding policy against subliminal advertising.

which brings the question: has ABC had to reject a lot of subliminal advertising previously? Did other networks show these rejected ads? Can I watch one? Did the Bush White House use them in the run-up to the Iraq War debacle?

There was the notorious example:

The Federal Communications Commission doesn't explicitly have rules against subliminal advertising. In 2000, following complaints about an ad with a subliminal message about then-presidential candidate Al Gore, the agency said that it discourages subliminal advertising but has no formal rules against it.

Tags: , /

Garrison Keillor and impeachment


Garrison Keillor has a few thoughts about our Incompetent-in-Chief: namely that Bush should be impeached. | Impeach Bush:
And then you read the paper and realize the country is led by a man who isn't paying attention, and you hope that somebody will poke him. Or put a sign on his desk that says, “Try Much Harder.”
Do we need to impeach him to bring some focus to this man's life? The man was lost and then he was found and now he's more lost than ever, plus being blind.

He continues:

From within the Pentagon bureaucracy, he did battle against Donald Rumsfeld and John Yoo at the Justice Department and shadowy figures taking orders from Dick (Gunner) Cheney, arguing America had ratified the Geneva Convention that forbids cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners, and so it has the force of law. They seemed to be arguing that the president has the right to order prisoners to be tortured.

One such prisoner, Mohammed al-Qahtani, was held naked in isolation under bright lights for months, threatened by dogs, subjected to unbearable noise volumes, and otherwise abused, so that he begged to be allowed to kill himself. When the Senate approved the Torture Convention in 1994, it defined torture as an act “specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering.” Is the law a law or is it a piece of toast?

Wiretap surveillance of Americans without a warrant? Great. Go for it. How about turning over American ports to a country more closely tied to 9/11 than Saddam Hussein was? Fine by me. No problem. And what about the war in Iraq? Hey, you're doing a heck of a job, Brownie. No need to tweak a thing. And your blue button-down shirt -- it's you.

But torture is something else. When Americans start pulling people's fingernails out with pliers and poking lighted cigarettes into their palms, then we need to come back to basic values. Most people agree with this, and in a democracy that puts the torturers in a delicate position. They must make sure to destroy their e-mails and have subordinates who will take the fall. Because it is impossible to keep torture secret. It goes against the American grain and it eats at the conscience of even the most disciplined, and in the end the truth will come out. It is coming out now.

Read more here, or below the fold.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Gore and the PRMC

or, another reason why I never could never whole-heartedly support Al Gore, regardless of how many spectacular speeches he makes, or how many elections were stolen from him:

WorkingForChange-Alexander Cockburn: The Gores' cultural wars Grandstanding about the entertainment industry has been a specialty of Al and Tipper Gore since Al first entered Congress in 1977 (a year in which the couple were formally born-again.) Tipper was part of a Congressional wives' club agitating against violence and sex on TV shows, and then, in the mid-1980s, came Tipper Gore's famous campaign, abetted by her husband, against explicit rock 'n rap music.

Until Gore brought Lieberman on the ticket, Gore apologists tended to blame this foray into censorship as a misadventure by Tipper, ultimately rectified when the Gores traveled to Hollywood and told executives of the recording industry that the whole drive to censor music had been a mistake and somehow not their fault.

But since Gore and Lieberman are now revving up a culture war far more sinister than anything proposed by Dan Quayle back in 1992, it's worth remembering what exactly Tipper and Al Gore got up to fifteen years ago in their campaign against explicit rock 'n rap.

From the start, Tipper's PMRC worked hand in glove with right-wing fundamentalist Christian groups. One of her partners on the PMRC was Susan Baker (wife of Reagan's Treasury Secretary James Baker, a cabinet officer in the Reagan-Bush years), who was also a board member of the Reverend James Dobson's Focus on the Family. This outfit, based in Texas, was notoriously anti-gay and anti-abortion.

This was not the only group touted by Tipper's PMRC. Take the Missouri Rock Project, an outfit run by an associate of Phyllis Schafly, which distributed information packets prepared by the Victory Christian Church of St. Charles, Mo., claiming that the Holocaust was overblown, that Hitler didn't write “Mein Kampf,” and that Hollywood shamelessly advocates race-mixing. The church described the slain civil rights leader, whose memory is often invoked by Al Gore, as “Martin Lucifer King.”

Music snobs never forget their enemies, and anyone having common ground with Christian-Taliban wannabes like James Dobson is 'on the list'.

(link from somewhere that I'll remember later)

Tags: , /, /

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from March 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

February 2006 is the previous archive.

April 2006 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.


Powered by Movable Type 4.37