Various bits of flotsam that washed up on our computers, before we moved to a better blog system in November 2004. Now a repository for YouTube videos and testing new tools. Go to http://www.b12partners.net/wp/ for more recent content.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Desktop images

excellent nature images, from NASA, found here

Monday, August 30, 2004

Classified info

you would think this would get old by now, but noooooooo

FBI fears trail cold after spying suspect revealed - World - www.smh.com.au:
The Pentagon official suspected of turning over classified information to Israel began co-operating with federal agents several weeks ago and was preparing to lead the authorities to contacts inside the Israeli Government when the case became publicly known last week, US officials said.


The disclosure of the inquiry on Friday revealed a covert national security investigation that the FBI had conducted for nearly a year, the officials said. News reports about the inquiry compromised important investigative steps, like the effort to follow the trail back to the Israelis, they said.


As a result, several areas of the case remain murky. These include the legal status of Lawrence Franklin, the lower-level Pentagon policy analyst who the authorities believe passed the Israelis a draft presidential policy directive related to Iran.


But the officials said there was evidence he turned the classified material over to officials at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobby group, who are suspected of then passing the information to Israeli intelligence.


Investigators do not know whether Israeli intelligence officers "tasked" intermediaries at the group to seek specific information for Mr Franklin to obtain, which would make the case more serious."

Douche-bags against Kerry

Columnist known to be a Douche-bag Has Ties to Anti-Kerry Book:
Among the stoutest defenders of "Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry," the best-selling book arguing that Mr. Kerry lied about his record of service in Vietnam, is the columnist Robert Novak.

In his syndicated columns and on the CNN program "Crossfire," Mr. Novak has lauded the book and referred to veterans who criticize Mr. Kerry - most notably John E. O'Neill, the book's co-author - as "real patriots."

Unmentioned in Mr. Novak's columns and television appearances, however, is a personal connection he has to the book: his son, Alex Novak, is the director of marketing for its publisher, the conservative publishing house Regnery.

In a telephone interview, Robert Novak said he saw no need to disclose the link.

"I don't think it's relevant," he said.

"I'm just functioning as a columnist with a point of view, and a strong point of view," he added.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Tensile inventions

Back to the Future (Harpers.org):
"I was most impressed to read of Lewis Lapham's ability to travel in time in "Tentacles of Rage" [Essay, September]. As far as I can tell, on the day I received my copy of Harper's Magazine, the Republican convention had yet to take place, and living in New York, I think I would have noticed. Admittedly, the pablum will be predictable (barring some unforeseen event), but it seems awfully sloppy of Lapham to discuss feelings he had while watching something he has yet to watch, simply in order to put some additional feathers on one of his rhetorical barbs. What is most appalling is that he chose an actual piece of journalism, rather than his accustomed punditry, for this rather silly fillip. This doesn't exactly give me faith in his understanding of what it is reporters actually do.


On the other hand, if he has in fact traveled in time, I would appreciate it if he could let all of us subscribers know the outcome of the forthcoming election."



Matthew Ostrowski
Brooklyn


Lewis Lapham responds:


"As Mr. Ostrowski properly notes, the rhetorical invention was silly. The mistake, however, is a serious one, and if I'd had my wits about me as an editor, I wouldn't have let the author mix up his tenses in manuscript or allowed him in page proof to lapse into poetic license. Both of us regret the injury done to the magazine and apologize, wholeheartedly, to its readers."


Now playing in iTunes: Wild Mountain Thyme, from the album New Electric Muse - The Story by Jansch, Bert

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

HP 4550n error

My HP Laserjet 4550N is refusing to print, and prints reams and reams of paper before every job. Every once and a while I get "49.2FD3 Service Error".
Piece-o crapo! Incredibly inconsistent behavior. Mac OS X Panther 10.34, Windows XP, and even directly from the printer menu: all exhibit the same symptoms.

Update, per the knowledgeable folks at FixYourOwnPrinter, the problem is with the Transfer Belt Unit. A work-around is to open the back cover right after a blank page comes out, then close it again. I don't know why this works, but it does.

Update the second: I replaced the entire transfer kit (which includes a new roller), part number C4196A, and vacuumed/wiped every part I could find, and this has apparently fixed me. YRMBD*.




*Your Results May Be Different

Ha ha

Wired News: JibJab Is Free for You and Me:
Ludlow Music dropped its demands that JibJab, a small web animation site, stop using Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" in a satirical Flash cartoon. It turned out Ludlow did not own the rights to the song as it claimed, a lawyer representing JibJab said on Tuesday.

In early August, Ludlow, which claimed to own the copyright for the folk tune, threatened to sue JibJab, alleging copyright infringement. JibJab used the tune to the song and rewrote the lyrics in a cartoon to mock the presidential candidates. It refused to take down the cartoon and pre-emptively asked a judge to declare that it had a right to use the song as satire without having to get the permission of the owner.


But in a bizarre twist, JibJab's lawyers discovered that anyone may record their own version of the song -- because the copyright on the words and music have expired, they said.


"We did further research and we found that 'This Land Is Your Land' is in the public domain," said Jason Schultz, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation who represented JibJab. "'This Land Is Your Land' belongs to you and me for real, now."


Jib Jab jabs left....

Ewww followup

Dave Matthews Band tour bus full of it, or not, depending on whol you ask. Ok, I guess the video tape doesn't lie. Disgusting. Chicago Tribune: Madigan: Video busts band's bus in dumping:
The Dave Matthews Band, a rock group so "green" it has its own flavor of Ben and Jerry's ice cream, could face $70,000 in fines after one of its tour bus drivers allegedly dumped a tankful of human waste on a Chicago River sightseeing boat earlier this month.

After a two-week investigation into an incident that prompted outrage from Chicago's mayor and snickering from late-night television hosts, Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan on Tuesday accused the band and driver Stefan A. Whol of illegally dumping foul-smelling muck into the river and creating a public nuisance.

About two-thirds of the passengers on the upper deck of Chicago's Little Lady were doused with a brownish-yellow liquid as the tour boat crossed under the Kinzie Street bridge during an Aug. 8 architectural sightseeing cruise.

...
Witnesses told authorities the deluge of waste came from a long black tour bus crossing the grated bridge. At least one witness gave police an Oregon license plate number.

Surveillance cameras at neighborhood businesses helped Madigan's investigators and Chicago police detectives trace the bus to Whol, a Texas man who is identified in the complaint as one of five drivers for the Dave Matthews Band, authorities said.

Whol was driving to pick up a band member at a Michigan Avenue hotel when the bus crossed the bridge, according to the three-count civil complaint filed in Cook County Circuit Court. Later that evening, the band played the second of two shows at Alpine Valley in East Troy, Wis.

...

Luxury coaches like the ones leased by the band are equipped with 80- to 100-gallon waste tanks that are emptied underneath the vehicle by pushing a toggle switch behind the driver's seat, according to the attorney general's complaint.

In addition to seeking fines for violations of state laws, Madigan said she is asking the court to order an evaluation of the band's waste disposal practices. State officials said most charter buses dump waste at licensed disposal facilities.

"This incident may be unique, but that does not lessen the environmental or public health risks posed by the release of at least 800 pounds of liquid human waste into a busy waterway and onto a crowded tour boat," Madigan said in a statement. "This situation clearly demonstrates the environmental and public health problems that can occur when laws are ignored. This act was not only offensive, it was illegal."

Two weeks ago, another driver for the band, Jerry Fitzpatrick, denied responsibility for the incident, saying his bus had been parked at a nearby hotel at the time. He even coaxed a Downstate police officer to inspect the bus and report that the waste tank was nearly full.

"This band is very environmentally conscious," Fitzpatrick said then. "We wouldn't have anything to do with this sort of thing."

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Pleasant news

Yes, we are all Mad Hatters now

E.P.A. Says Mercury Taints Fish Across U.S.
The federal environmental agency's latest annual survey of fish advisories showed that 48 states - all but Wyoming and Alaska - issued warnings about mercury last year. [New York Times: National]

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency said on Tuesday that fish in virtually all of the nation's lakes and rivers were contaminated with mercury, a highly toxic metal that poses health risks for pregnant women and young children.

Michael O. Leavitt, the E.P.A. administrator, drew his conclusion from the agency's latest annual survey of fish advisories, which showed that 48 states - all but Wyoming and Alaska - issued warnings about mercury last year. That compared with 44 states in 1993, when the surveys were first conducted.

The latest survey also shows that 19 states, including New York, have now put all their lakes and rivers under a statewide advisory for fish consumption. But Mr. Leavitt said that the widespread presence of mercury reflected a surge in monitoring - not an increase in emissions - as part of growing state efforts to warn local anglers about the fish they are catching. Last year, states issued 3,094 advisories for toxic substances, compared with 1,233 in 1993.

"Mercury is everywhere," Mr. Leavitt said at a news conference in his office. "The more waters we monitor, the more we find mercury. Monitoring is up and will continue to go up. But emissions are down and will continue to go down."

The latest survey represents monitoring from 35 percent of the nation's lakes, more than 100,000 of them; 24 percent of total river miles, nearly 850,000 miles; 75 percent of coastal waters; and all of the Great Lakes.

...
But environmentalists, as well as President Bush's Democratic opponent, Senator John Kerry, have attacked the Bush administration's proposed standards as weak and unnecessarily drawn out. The administration has proposed reducing emissions 29 percent by 2010 and 69 percent by 2018.

Emily Figdor, a policy analyst for Clear the Air, a coalition of environmental groups, said, "The technology is available now to reduce emissions by 90 percent by 2008, as the Clean Air Act requires, but there is no indication that the administration is considering a stronger proposal."

Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, accused the administration of "dragging its feet" by endorsing a weak plan.

A spokesman for Mr. Kerry accused the Bush administration of proposing standards that industry lobbyists helped write, a criticism the E.P.A. has denied, and said Mr. Kerry, as president, would support sharper reductions in a shorter period of time.

"With George Bush in the White House, you better think twice before you eat the fish you catch," said the spokesman, Phil Singer. "While the Bush administration has opted for a lobbyist-written approach to mercury emissions, John Kerry will go further faster and be more effective in ridding our lakes and rivers of poisons that threaten pregnant women and children.

Despite evidence that fish caught almost anywhere in the country is contaminated with mercury, Mr. Leavitt repeatedly urged reporters to consider the increasing number of advisories in the larger context of more aggressive actions by states in monitoring and by the administration in moving toward new regulations.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Bush to NYC - Kiss my grits

I guess the feeling is mutual, but still, that's pretty cowardly of the Resident.

The New York Times > National > White House Letter: It's a Nice Place to Visit, but He Can't Stay:
More than a year ago, when Karl Rove and President Bush began planning the Republican National Convention, they picked New York City in early September so that the event would flow into the third anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks.

Some Republicans said then that Mr. Bush might even visit ground zero, despite the risk of appearing to make political use of the tragedy. Most others said the convention's timing would remind voters of what the campaign considers Mr. Bush's finest hour - the moment he grabbed the bullhorn in the rubble at the tip of Manhattan and shouted that the people who had knocked down the buildings would hear from him soon.

But now it turns out that Mr. Bush may not spend a single night in the city that helped transform his presidency. At this point, the unofficial plan is for him to arrive in Manhattan sometime on Thursday, Sept. 2, the final day of the four-day convention, deliver his acceptance speech that night, then leave immediately for Pennsylvania.


and the spinmeisters speak:
The advisers noted that Mr. Bush was also likely to alienate the city by lingering and tying up traffic, blocking streets and further inciting what could be the biggest street demonstrations at a political convention since the Democrats gathered in Chicago in 1968.

A quick exit would underscore the tone of Mr. Bush's campaign, the advisers said, which is that he is running hard in a tied race for his political life. They insisted that his getaway was not an insult to New York - a city that Mr. Bush never liked before Sept. 11, 2001, but that he warmed to when he met with firefighters and other rescue workers after the attacks.

"It's not a statement that he dislikes New York City,'' the Republican close to the campaign said. "It's a statement that he's going to work.''

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Drummers

Collected Poems, volume 13:

We drum upon the stones
to release their time-honored energy
in an angry flutter of confused notes
A sing-song tongue of all tongues
teaching us impatiently in explosive! primal!
understatement that -


 All thoughts remain known: but the words
are so musically muted as to be unintelligible ...
Proudly announcing their nakedness
they diffuse across vast fields of sky.
Igniting prairies of stars into silent raging fires;
consuming nothing except time
burning the ashes into light.


 And here in this sacred occasion to spin quicker
than the wheel of spring-fall
the swaying trees listen intently
Branches outstretched to clutch at
any drip of comprehension
we might carelessly fling aside
in our mindful and hurried extravagance.

┬ęcopyright 1994
Seth Anderson

Haymarket 8-20-04 1


Haymarket 8-20-04 1
Click for larger size.

The brick (Joliet limestone blocks really) is almost all used up, and just needs mortar. The Haymarket Riot memorial is on schedule. The crew is even working today (Saturday).

Friday, August 20, 2004

Chemical plants

Perhaps someone in the White House watched Bill Maher's show this week, or else this WSJ reporter did....WSJ.com - Chemical Plants Still Have Few Terror Controls
In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the White House and Congress enacted laws and regulations to tighten security at airports, nuclear-power plants and public water supplies. But three years later, chemical plants still aren't subject to federal security controls.

Now, in a move that worries some environmental groups and Bush administration critics, the Department of Homeland Security has dramatically lowered the number of plants that it considers the most potentially dangerous in an attack, compared with an earlier list compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency.


According to the EPA, there are 7,728 U.S. chemical plants where an accident -- or act of sabotage -- could endanger 1,000 or more nearby residents. Of those, 123 facilities could threaten more than one million people. But according to Homeland Security's new assessments, the number of plants threatening 1,000 or more people has been lowered to 4,391, while the number potentially affecting more than a million has dropped to two.

....

The administration's critics say the White House doesn't want to burden the chemical industry, a major contributor to the Bush re-election campaign, with onerous requirements. The White House denies the accusation, pointing out that legislation that it supports to regulate the industry is languishing in the Senate.

But environmental activists and some Democrats say that by reducing the number of plants on the list Homeland Security has, by accident or design, made the threat seem smaller and lessened the urgency for addressing the security shortcomings.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Despicable

There is no excuse, none at all, for health care professionals to pretend that the crimes they commit are part of a "War on Terror", or that they are finishing some legacy experiments from Joseph Mengele. No excuse at all, this article sickens me.

yes, Abu Ghraib, Joseph Mengele, Nazis and the United States military should never be linked in one story, but here it is.
Disgusting. I think the doctors names should be publicized, and they should be ashamed to show their face within civilized nations. I can't really excuse actions of soldiers when torture is involved, but I can understand it. Doctors should have a higher moral standard, even if they are army doctors, even if they are U.S. army doctors. Especially if they are U.S. doctors. What happened to the "Shining City on the Hill"? that Saint Reagan always was blabbing about?

The Globe and Mail:
Some U.S. military doctors in Iraq and Afghanistan betrayed their duty to patients by participating in and covering up the abuse of prisoners, a report in the British journal Lancet argues.


Written by Dr. Steven Miles, a bioethicist at a U.S. university, the article calls for an urgent investigation to assess the extent to which U.S. military doctors, nurses and medics abandoned the ?moral obligations? of their profession.


Published Thursday, the same day reports emerged that an U.S. army inquiry will lay blame on commanders at Abu Ghraib for creating conditions that allowed abuses to occur at the jail, the article says the testimony which has emerged paints a picture of medical professionals allowing, assisting and participating in the abuse of prisoners.


They are accused of falsifying death certificates, tampering with bodies and, in at least one case, reviving someone beaten unconscious and then leaving him again to the mercy of his interrogators. In at least two cases, Dr. Miles notes, military officials released innocuous information explaining away prisoner deaths, only to later admit that they had died because of mistreatment.

and
Dr. Miles said that military medicine reform needs to be enshrined in international law and has to include more clout for military medical staff in the defence of human rights.

?The detaining power's health personnel are the first and often the last line of defence against human rights abuses. Their failure to assume that role emphasizes to the prisoner how utterly beyond humane appeal they are,? he said.

In his harsh submission to Lancet, Dr. Miles criticizes the inaction of medical staff who did not report abuses but also charges that, in a far worse transgression, ?the [military] medical system collaborated with designing and implementing psychologically and physically coercive interrogations.?

Dr. Miles acknowledges that military medical staff can feel pulled between loyalty to country and adherence to their professional codes, but has little sympathy. He argues that The Geneva Conventions address this ethical dilemma, stipulating that medical personnel cannot be compelled to carry out any work other than that concerned with their medical duties.

?The role of military medicine in these abuses merits special attention because of the moral obligations of medical professionals with regard to torture and because of horror at health professionals who are silently or actively complicit with torture,? he writes.

In an editorial accompanying Dr. Miles' article, the journal argues that military medical professionals must not allow misguided loyalties to trick them into abandoning their duty to patients.

?Guidelines and codes of practice state that doctors, even in military forces, must first and foremost be concerned about their patients and bound by principles of medical ethics.?

Plame Game, Wycliff edition

Don Wycliff, a reasonable, rational man writes in the ChiTrib:
I am a newsman, have been for more than 30 years. So I have no desire to see this work made harder or more dangerous. More to the point at this stage of my career, I work every day with journalists who do tough, exacting, sometimes dangerous work and more often than not do it very well. I have no desire to see their jobs made tougher and the hazards they face made greater.

But then I come up against what for me is the central question for a journalist in the Plame case: Was "outing" Valerie Plame--in violation of federal law and at real potential risk to her life and health and that of any of those she worked with--such an important public interest that I would have promised some White House political shark to go to jail if necessary for the privilege?

It's not even a close call. I don't think anyone can reasonably argue that the American public is better off for knowing of Plame's CIA connection. (But that never was the point for the alleged leaker in the Bush administration anyway, was it?)



Kudos to Mr. Wycliff.

I'm hungry, dog

Personally, when I grill dogs, I like a Chianti (probably because of that time I ate grilled sausages in a small olive grove in Tuscany after helping the owners harvest the years produce: damn that was a gorgeous meal!)

A dogged effort

Bill Daley, Tribune food and wine reporter, writes:
When it comes to putting on the dog, Chicagoans tend to shrug their big shoulders and go about their business. Still, I suspect even the most egalitarian resident would pause a bit, bedazzled at the prospect of pouring wine with hot dogs.

Weenies and wine: Sounds delectably over-the-top, doesn't it?

Implausible, too. Chicago-style hot dogs are intimidating enough on their own. You've got a beef frank painted with mustard, buried under minced onion, relish, tomato, sport peppers, celery salt and a pickle spear, and then nestled in a bun dotted with sweet poppy seeds. It is hard enough to get all these flavors working together. Imagine adding wine to the mix.

Yet the pairing can work, important news in the city ranked fourth among the top hot dog-eating American cities for 2003 by the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, an industry trade group. Offering wine with hot dogs can be an interesting alternative to the usual brews and soda. The key is which wines to open.

Asked for her pairing ideas, Everest restaurant sommelier Alpana Singh described herself as "a mustard kind of gal." Yet she quickly offered a match to Chi-cago's overloaded dogs: "a good zinfandel that's got a lot of fruit to it."

Her reasoning was simple.

"It's an American wine and you should serve an American wine with an American icon like a hot dog," said Singh, who also hosts "Check, Please!" on WTTW-Ch. 11.

Todd Hess, wine director of Sam's Wines & Spirits, also pointed to a red, suggesting a "high acid" wine like an Italian Chianti, barbera or sangiovese. Go with wines that have "a bright, cheerful fruit, not a heavy fruit, to cut through the grease," Hess said.

Doug Sohn would choose a pinot noir to go with what he calls the "ba-sic dog." He is owner of Hot Doug's, a BYOB Chicago gourmet wienerie that was shuttered by fire three months ago and is slated to reopen Labor Day. Sohn prefers the style and price of pi-not noir from the Pacific Northwest.

What type of hot dog/sausage and, perhaps more important, the type of toppings, determines what sort of wine Sohn will pour. He likes a gewurztraminer with a savory chick-en or turkey link and would serve a zinfandel with a sausage made from venison or other game.

The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council suggests serving red wines, such as shiraz or syrah, with spicier hot dogs. Milder franks can go with dry white wine, said Janet Riley, the Arlington, Va.-based council's senior vice president of public affairs.



link courtesy of Too Many Chefs

Towns get stiffed

Dan Froomkin follows up on the cost of having campaign rallys, first noted by Digby....
washingtonpost.com: The Downside of a Presidential Visit:
Getting a visit from the president of the United States is losing some of its charm in swing-state communities that are frequently being used as backdrops for the presidential campaign.


That's because when the campaign has moved on and the excitement has died down, there are some hefty expenses left to be paid.


Some cities have tried billing the Bush campaign for their costs, but most aren't having any luck with that tactic.


Visits from Vice President Cheney and the Democratic ticket also create problems, but apparently don't cost quite as much.


Looking through news Web sites in Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Washington and Wisconsin lately, you sure hear a lot of grousing.


Paul Levy and Bob Von Sternberg write in the Minneapolis Star Tribune: "Ah, the joys of playing host to a big-time presidential candidate: the hoopla, the excitement, the shining moment in the national media spotlight, the crushing bills for providing security. . . .


"A growing number of officials in small communities around the nation have taken a look at the bills they've accumulated in the aftermath of recent presidential campaign visits and decided they aren't about to be stuck with the check.


"But so far, at least, they've mostly been stiffed."


Tom Saul writes in the Quad City (Iowa) Times: "From the time Air Force One touched down at the Quad-City International Airport near Moline at 10:45 a.m. Aug. 4 and departed at 1:07 p.m., the president's campaign visit cost Quad-City taxpayers at least $289.44 per minute. The Kerry visit was a comparative bargain for at least $46.76 a minute for his nearly 15-hour stay."


Francis X. Donnelly writes in the Detroit News: "The frequent visits of presidential candidates to Michigan spew more than exhaust upon state highways. They leave a plume in the shape of a dollar sign.


"The political trips have cost Michigan communities more than a quarter of a million dollars in the past year, and the cost will rise during the 11 weeks left in the campaign, according to interviews with law enforcement departments."


An overwhelming majority of readers in the News's highly unscientific cyber survey say that, all in all, they'd rather the presidential candidates just stayed away.


Ian C. Story writes for the Traverse City (Mich.) Record-Eagle: "The opportunity for some to see a sitting president may be priceless, but President George W. Bush's visit to Traverse City could cost area taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars."


Mick Trevey of WBAY-TV in Green Bay reports: "Visits by presidential candidates take a big bite out of taxpayers' wallets. As Action 2 News found out, recovering the costs isn't easy."


Karen Rauen of the Green Bay (Wis.) Press Gazette writes: "President Bush and Sen. John Kerry's campaigns will be hearing from the city of Green Bay."


...


Regardless, all those overtime numbers are actually pretty piddly when compared to what it cost for the Boeing Co. to give all the workers at its plant outside Philadelphia the day off when Bush visited on Tuesday.


Boeing spokesman Jack Satterfield told me yesterday that he estimates that it cost the company about $1 million.


Satterfield said that Boeing decided that there was no way the Secret Service could sweep the facility with all the workers around. So about 4,500 employees got the day off with pay. (They're unionized.)


Employees were offered tickets, and many of them accepted. Satterfield estimated that at least two thirds of the audience of about 9,000 were Boeing workers, their families and friends. The rest of the tickets were distributed by the Bush campaign.


Satterfield was adamant that no one was paid to attend. "The point was, we told our people whether they came or not, they would be paid," he said.


And he said the $1 million cost is being absorbed by Boeing -- not by the U.S. government, which of course is paying for pretty much everything Boeing is doing there.


So how does that work?


"We have provisions for special charging which will be absorbed into what we call our overhead, and the federal government will not be charged," he said.


Traditionally, that only happens when there's a massive snowstorm, or some other act of God, Satterfield said. "I'm not drawing any parallels, but I'm saying the circumstances were literally beyond our control."


Satterfield said Boeing was told up front that the president was coming on a campaign stop, not an official visit. And he said Boeing considered the legal and ethical issues before deciding that it was appropriate to proceed.


He said the $1 million should not be considered a gift to the campaign.


"It wasn't [a gift] and it has nothing to do with the political campaign," he said. "This was an instance where the president of the United States, who happens also to be a candidate running for office, came to thank us for doing an excellent job for the national defense. This was an opportunity for our employees to see the president of the United States -- the commander in chief -- thank them for building an excellent helicopter and doing excellent work in support of our armed forces."


Satterfield said he could not imagine any company -- particularly one providing services for the armed forces -- doing any differently.

Onastic Judge resigns

Reuters News Article:
An Oklahoma judge facing removal over charges that he masturbated and used a device for enhancing erections under his robes during trials said on Wednesday he would retire from the bench.

Creek County District Judge Donald Thompson, 57, wrote to Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry resigning effective Sept. 1, a move that will allow him to retire with a full pension.

A former state representative and a judge for 22 years, Thompson was accused by state Attorney General Drew Edmondson of using a "penis pump" to enhance erections during trials and exposing himself to a court reporter several times while masturbating on the bench.


There are a thousand jokes waiting to happen here, but I'll just leave it your fecund imagination.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Idiots on parade

Ok, let me see if I get this straight (as it were); a couple moves to Boys Town on Halsted, then decides that there is too much noise at a local club, then tries to legislate the entire ward as a 'dry' (alcohol free) ward. Aiee caramba!, I don't even know where to begin kvetching about this blockheaded, hate-your-neighbor attempt at moralized by fiat, but what did they think when they were buying the condo in the first place? Did they think they were moving to Skokie? I bet they are very popular with their neighbors.

This really sounds like the whole Lounge Ax fiasco (which ended badly for the club, ask Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, or read Greg Kot's book).


Where are we living anyway, Afghanistan? Look, if you have a problem with a specific club being loud, don't shut down every bar in the district!
Chicago Tribune: Halsted noise foes seek dry alternative:
When Evelyn and Tom DiLisio chose to live in the newly built Dakota in East Lakeview, they bought an apartment on the north side of the building, next to the nightclub Circuit.

For two years, the thumping bass has kept them up at night and now--after a dispute involving two city agencies and a gay-rights advocacy group--they have filed a petition to the Board of Elections to have the 3rd precinct of the 46th Ward, and as a result, the club, voted dry.

Their attempt to ban all alcohol sales in the area has prompted angry reactions from other Dakota residents and community members.

"We all live here because we like the neighborhood," said Dakota resident Steven Heintz, who lives on the other side of the building and serves on its board with Tom DiLisio. "The famous Halsted Street--there's no other city-sanctioned LGBT [lesbian gay bisexual transgender] entertainment venue like it."

In a July letter opposing the initiative, neighboring Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) wrote, "While the intended goal of these residents is to shut this one business down, the proposed move could change the character of this area forever."

Before the Dakota was built on the site of a former bar at 3631 N. Halsted St., Circuit had grown from its Boystown cafe roots into a busy dance club, drawing 800 to 1,000 on a typical Saturday night. They were coming for the music--loud, bass-heavy, throbbing dance music. "Who wants to go to a party that sounds like a jukebox?" asked co-owner Mike Macharello.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Keyes and abortion

Keyes is really, really trying to lose this election, based on statements like this:
Keyes likens abortion to terrorism :
REMARKS ON ABORTION

WHAT KEYES SAID IN A MAY 7, 2004, ADDRESS:
"Now, you think it's a coincidence that on Sept. 11th, 2001, we were struck by terrorists an evil that has at its heart the disregard of innocent human life? We who have for several decades killed not thousands but scores of millions of our own children, in disregard of the principle of innocent human life -- I don't think that's a coincidence, I think that's a warning. I don't think that's a coincidence, I think that's a shot across the bow.
"I think that's a way of Providence telling us, "I love you all; I'd like to give you a chance. Wake up! Would you please wake up?"


WHAT HE SAYS NOW
"What distinguishes the terrorist from the ordinary warrior, is that the terrorist will consciously target innocent human life. What is done in the course of an abortion? . . . Someone consciously targets innocent human life.
"As I often point out to folks, the evil is the same. And that means, quite frankly, in fighting the war against terror, as I have often put it to audiences, the evil that we fight is but the shadow of the evil that we do."

assholes on parade

Eric Boehlert of Salon notices the smear by Lloyd Grove regarding some non-issue about hair cuts.Salon.com Politics:
Perhaps the only interesting portion of the gossip item comes at the end, when Grove tries to tie the Kerry caper to the famous case in 1993 when the Washington Post reported that president Clinton got a haircut from a celebrity stylist onboard Air Force One at LAX. “Back then,” writes Grove, “there were reports that the notorious haircut-on-the-tarmac caused delays in commercial air traffic. But yesterday there was no evidence that Kerry's haircut made anyone late.”


Note Grove’s careful wording about how “there were reports,” without coming right out and saying Clinton’s trim caused delays. Journalism, even the gossip variety, doesn’t get much more disingenuous than this. While there were erroneous reports in the Post about delays, FAA records, according to Newsday, proved categorically that no commercial flights were ever delayed at LAX by the Clinton haircut. Of course that didn’t stop the Post, and the rest of the Beltway press, from pounding the man-made controversy for weeks; the haircut symbolized something very, very important, we were told.


But that summer things soon got so out of hand—the Post cited the haircut story more than 50 times, nine times in front-page stories—that the paper’s ombudsman had to devote an entire column to the matter, slapping reporters’ hands for doing the “absolute minimum” to clear up any confusion about nonexistent flight delays caused by Clinton.


It’s curious that in trying to hype the Kerry haircut item, Grove, who worked at the Washington Post at the time of the Air Force One flap, forgets the facts of the Clinton case.

I shudder to think what the media is going to fixate on once Kerry wins the election....

Marketing news from all over

Borders hires new senior Vice president of marketing
BORDERS GROUP: Ann Arbor, MI, named Michael Tam as senior VP-marketing for its 1,200 Borders and Waldenbooks stores worldwide. Tam had been executive VP-chief marketing officer for American Eagle Outfitters.

GM marketing mgr

GM APPOINTS NEW MARKETING MANAGERS
Mark LaNeve has been named VP-marketing for General Motors Corp. North America effective Sept. 1.

The company also named Susan Doherty divisional marketing general manager for GM's Hummer brand, according to news reports.

LaNeve has been general manager of GM's Cadillac division since 2001. He replaces John Middlebrook, who becomes VP-global sales, service and marketing operations. Doherty had been the head of marketing for Cadillac's Escalade SUVs,
and replaced Mike DiGiovanni, who moved to an undisclosed new marketing division.

dis-United again

as if I needed more reasons not to ever fly United Airlines again....
Flight-Evacuation:
A United Airlines flight en route to Vancouver was evacuated Monday night after experiencing engine trouble at O'Hare International Airport.

Flight 1035 was taxiing to a runway when a pilot in a plane behind it reported seeing sparks from the engine, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation. The Airbus 319's 69 passengers and five crew members evacuated using slides, United spokeswoman Jenna Obluk said. A flight attendant and a passenger were taken to a hospital for minor injuries, she said. Another passenger with minor scrapes and bruises was treated at the scene.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Interesting way to be a whore

Take the money, upfront, before screwing anyone, paid by those benevolent corporations.
The New York Times > Business > A Texan's Race Could Lead to the F.C.C.:
Becky Armendariz Klein is widely expected to lose her bid for Congress in Texas. But that has not stopped executives and lawyers from the nation's largest telephone and energy companies from pouring money into her campaign.

Indeed, some of her strongest supporters expect her to fail.

Running as a Republican in a heavily Democratic district in Texas against a five-term incumbent, Ms. Klein, 39, has received more in donations and fund-raising help from the telecommunications and power industries than any other rookie candidate in the nation.

Why is Ms. Klein such a draw? Because administration officials have said that in the event of a second Bush administration she would be considered by the president, whom she served as a senior policy adviser when he was governor of Texas, as a candidate to be the next head of the Federal Communications Commission. And even if that does not work out, she is expected to receive a seat on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, should a vacancy occur. Her husband is a senior official at the Pentagon.

Ms. Klein, who stepped down in January as chairwoman of the Texas Public Utility Commission, is challenging Lloyd Doggett, a Democratic member of Congress since 1995 in a newly created Congressional district, the 25th, which snakes 350 miles from the southern end of Austin to the Texas-Mexico border town of McAllen. As of June 30, the latest filing by the campaign with the Federal Election Commission, Ms. Klein had raised about $450,000, less than half of the more than $1.1 million raised by Mr. Doggett.


but at least it looks like Doggett is projected to win. Screw Delay, that Frenchie bug-man anyway.

European armies of occupation

I don't have much sympathy for this kvetch. I would prefer if even more of the U.S. global occupation army was decomissioned. Other than for prestige, why are U.S. taxpayers subsidizing 70 thousand troops stationed in Germany? What interest of the worlds (or even of America's) peace is being threatened in Munich?

TheStar.com - In Germany, U.S. withdrawal plans raise jitters:
German officials voiced concern today that their country has the most to lose with President George W. Bush's announcement that tens of thousands of troops will return to the United States over the next decade.

With some 70,000 U.S. soldiers based in Germany, thousands of local jobs — from bakers to maintenance workers and office personnel — depend on the Americans, who first came as occupying forces after the Second World War.

European and Asian countries with U.S. troops have braced for the changes for several years, but Bush's announcement today that up to 70,000 uniformed personnel and 100,000 dependents will gradually be moved back to the United States brought home the full impact

iPhoto hints

via the essential MacOSXHints
macosxhints - Use wildcards to build iPhoto smart albums:
This is an interesting little iPhoto feature I just found. When making a smart album, ? and * are wildcards. A ? will match "any single character," so that K??e will match "Kate" and "Kyle." A * will match "any number of characters," including none, so K*e will match "Kate" and "Kill me" and "Ke."

I couldn't, however, discover how to search for the actual ? and * characters. Backslashes -- the usual escape character -- don't seem to work; K?ate is treated the same as Kate, but K\ate will find only "Kate." Adding an 'escape' character (Control-Q, Esc) also failed.

Keyes is a wackjob part 698

Alan Keyes, carpetbagger candidate for Senate, is undeniably a wackjob.

AlterNet: Still Crazy After All These Years:
In a May 7 speech in Provo, Utah, Keyes said the 9/11 attacks, which killed nearly 3,200 people, were a message from God to oppose abortion: "I think that's a way of Providence telling us, 'I love you all; I'd like to give you a chance. Wake up! Would you please wake up?'" During a campaign appearance in Bedford, N.H., in 2000, Keyes asked a class of fifth-graders, "If I were to lose my mind right now and pick one of you up and dash your head against the floor and kill you, would that be right?" He then went on to tell the children that some courts and politicians think it's OK to murder 6-month-old children.


read more Keyes-isms, courtesy of Alternet.

Medical rationalizing part 6546

Article: Cannabis extract shrinks brain tumours | New Scientist
:
Cannabis extracts may shrink brain tumours and other cancers by blocking the growth of the blood vessels which feed them, suggests a new study.

An active component of the street drug has previously been shown to improve brain tumours in rats. But now Manuel Guzmán at Complutense University, Spain, and colleagues have demonstrated how the cannabis extracts block a key chemical needed for tumours to sprout blood vessels – a process called angiogenesis.

And for the first time, the team has shown the cannabinoids impede this chemical in people with the most aggressive form of brain cancer - glioblastoma multiforme.

Cristina Blázquez at Complutense University, and one of the team, stresses the results are preliminary. “But it’s a good point to start and continue,” she told New Scientist.

“The cannabinoid inhibits the angiogenesis response - if a tumour doesn’t do angiogenesis, it doesn’t grow,” she explains. “So if you can improve angiogenesis on one side and kill the tumour cells on the other side, you can try for a therapy for cancer."


mmmmm, brain tumors.....

Chavez wins, so far

Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Chávez claims victory in Venezuela vote:
Venezuela's leftwing president, Hugo Chávez, claimed victory today in a national referendum on his rule, while his opponents charged him with fraud.

The Venezuelan electoral commission said that, with 94% of ballots counted, Mr Chávez had secured 58% of the vote. His opponents have 42%.

In a speech to thousands of cheering supporters, the president said it was "impossible" that his victory could be now reversed.

"Venezuela has changed forever," Mr Chávez told the crowd from a balcony of the presidential palace in the pre-dawn darkness. "There is no turning back."

Mr Chávez is popular with the poor, but his redirection of oil revenues towards social policies has angered the middle classes, oil producers and some unions.


Greg Palast, an actual journalist, with actual reporting capabilities, has written an important counter-weight to U.S. press coverage of Chavez, found here.
some excerpts:

There's so much BS and baloney thrown around about Venezuela that I may be violating some rule of US journalism by providing some facts. Let's begin with this: 77% of Venezuela's farmland is owned by 3% of the population, the 'hacendados.'


I met one of these farmlords in Caracas at an anti-Chavez protest march. Oddest demonstration I've ever seen: frosted blondes in high heels clutching designer bags, screeching, "Chavez - dic-ta-dor!" The plantation owner griped about the "socialismo" of Chavez, then jumped into his Jaguar convertible.


That week, Chavez himself handed me a copy of the "socialist" manifesto that so rattled the man in the Jag. It was a new law passed by Venezuela's Congress which gave land to the landless. The Chavez law transferred only fields from the giant haciendas which had been left unused and abandoned.


This land reform, by the way, was promoted to Venezuela in the 1960s by that Lefty radical, John F. Kennedy. Venezuela's dictator of the time agreed to hand out land, but forgot to give peasants title to their property.


Maybe it's the oil. Lots of it. Chavez sits atop a reserve of crude that rivals Iraq's. And it's not his presidency of Venezuela that drives the White House bananas, it was his presidency of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC. While in control of the OPEC secretariat, Chavez cut a deal with our maximum leader of the time, Bill Clinton, on the price of oil. It was a 'Goldilocks' plan. The price would not be too low, not too high; just right, kept between $20 and $30 a barrel.


But Dick Cheney does not like Clinton nor Chavez nor their band. To him, the oil industry's (and Saudi Arabia's) freedom to set oil prices is as sacred as freedom of speech is to the ACLU. I got this info, by the way, from three top oil industry lobbyists.

Why should Chavez worry about what Dick thinks? Because, said one of the oil men, the Veep in his Bunker, not the pretzel-chewer in the White House, "runs energy policy in the United States."

And what seems to have gotten our Veep's knickers in a twist is not the price of oil, but who keeps the loot from the current band-busting spurt in prices. Chavez had his Congress pass another oil law, the "Law of Hydrocarbons," which changes the split. Right now, the oil majors - like PhillipsConoco - keep 84% of the proceeds of the sale of Venezuela oil; the nation gets only 16%.

Chavez wanted to double his Treasury's take to 30%. And for good reason. Landless, hungry peasants have, over decades, drifted into Caracas and other cities, building million-person ghettos of cardboard shacks and open sewers. Chavez promised to do something about that.

And he did. "Chavez gives them bread and bricks," one Venezuelan TV reporter told me. The blonde TV newscaster, in the middle of a publicity shoot, said the words "pan y ladrillos" with disdain, making it clear that she never touched bricks and certainly never waited in a bread line.


But to feed and house the darker folk in those bread and brick lines, Chavez would need funds, and the 16% slice of the oil pie wouldn't do it. So the President of Venezuela demanded 30%, leaving Big Oil only 70%. Suddenly, Bill Clinton's ally in Caracas became Mr. Cheney's -- and therefore, Mr. Bush's -- enemy.







Saturday, August 14, 2004

Mergers suck

The New York Times > Business > Your Money > Gretchen Morgenson: Just Don't Say 'Synergy' to a Hewlett Investor:
By one important measure, the deal has been a flop. The day it closed, Hewlett-Packard's stock stood at $18.22. On Friday, the shares changed hands at $16.50, a loss of 9.4 percent. By comparison, the Standard & Poor's Information Technology index was up 5.2 percent during the same period.

Chief executives love mergers because they result in enormous personal paydays. What's more, the executive charged with running the combined company also gets all the perquisites associated with heading a larger operation.

But merged companies all too often fail to deliver the promised benefits to their shareholders. This is especially so among technology concerns.

Friday, August 13, 2004

McCormick grows hemp

How is it that some plant, which has a multitude of uses, both medical and industrial, got so demonized that even an upstanding Republican like Colonel McCormick of the Chicago Tribune got into trouble growing hemp? I don't get it. cColonels Hemp:
As crops throughout the midwest withered during the drought of 1936, the Chicago Tribune reported on one plant untroubled by the lack of water. "When we stopped to look at the test plot where the hemp is growing, we wanted to doff our straw hat and give this plant a little applause," wrote reporter Robert Becker. "It has grown remarkably in spite of intense heat and drouth [sic]. In fact, one of the boys was saying that during the week of the most severe heat the hemp kept pushing its head to the blazing sun." 



Becker's report showed up in a regular Tribune feature called "Day by Day Story of the Experimental Farms." This space kept readers up-to-date on two farms in the western suburbs that had been started (and publicized) by the Tribune in hopes of bringing innovation to the desperate farming industry.



Hemp, traditionally used to make products like rope, paper, and birdseed, was an obvious choice for the experimental farms. Though it had been cultivated in the U.S. since colonial times by the likes of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, Americans weren't growing much hemp in the 1930s. But new technological advances, as well as its natural resistance to drought, made hemp potentially attractive to struggling farmers.



Less than a year after Tribune employees reported on the impressive properties of hemp, the drug czar of that day published an influential article in American Magazine. The story by Harry Anslinger, head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, began: "The sprawled body of a young girl lay crushed on the sidewalk the other day after a plunge from the fifth story of a Chicago apartment house. Everyone called it suicide, but actually it was murder. The killer was a narcotic known to America as marihuana."



It wasn't long before the Chicago Tribune's hemp crop was the focus of a federal drug investigation.


read the rest here

Palast


CD/DVD includes "Fixed in Florida" - 12 minutes of exclusive footage from Greg Palast's upcoming DVD documentary, 'Bush Family Fortunes: The Best Democracy Money Can Buy' - an update of the blistering BBC documentary shown in Europe, banned in the USA.

Flip the DVD over and it's a CD ... with multi-platinum punkers Green Day, Grammy-winning band Foo Fighters, ska-punk all-stars No Doubt as well as long-revered and respected bands like Bad Religion, Rancid, Sleater-Kinney, Dropkick Murphys and Operation Ivy.  Of the 28 total tracks, this massive compilation boasts 20 unreleased or rare songs. 

And on the DVD side, you get six political documentary shorts (from Uncovered, Unprecedented, Unconstitutional, Honor Betrayed, Indy Media in the Time of War, & Fixed in Florida) three comedy pieces, and five music videos. 

Plus a go-punk-yourself booklet of eye-opening facts, action guide and some no-bullshit notes from the musicians.

View the complete track listing at: http://www.fatwreck.com/albumdetail.php3?sd=&cat_num=677 

Watch the e-card and listen to six different samples from this new collection at: http://www.fatwreck.com/junk/rab2.html

This is Volume 2 of Punk Voter's "Rock Against Bush" -- the #1 independent record in the country. It's #2 for Internet sales (who cares about #1) and was # 1 on college radio. 

All profits from this project go to punkvoter.com and progressive action.

28 great punk rock tunes and over an hour of un-Foxxed video into this two disc set. 

Purchase a copy of this CD/DVD today for the cheap-shit price of only $6 through Fat Wreck Chords website at: http://www.fatwreck.com

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Department of Stiffing communities

If I didn't know better (because the Bush-Fuck You campaign is always gloating about how much money they have raised), I'd think that the Bush-Cheney campaign was almost tapped out of funds. Why else would taxpayers in budget-crunched municipalities have to fund campaign rallies that they might not even be able to attend, unless they sign loyalty oaths that is....
Mind boggling.
Beloit Daily News:
LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) - The Bush-Cheney campaign has paid La Crosse $7,822 for part of the city's expenses from President George W. Bush's May 7 rally, a newspaper reported.
But other Wisconsin communities that billed the campaign for expenses from Bush's visit that day have not been fully reimbursed, the La Crosse Tribune reported.

Prairie du Chien, for example, has not received the $12,249 it billed for Bush's visit.

"When I talked with the Bush/Cheney headquarters, they suggested they were not liable, and we should bill the Secret Service," said Mayor Cheryl Mader. "I do not anticipate that we will be getting any payment."


La Crosse, Prairie du Chien and Viroqua were among several communities Bush visited during his May 7 tour of the Mississippi River farmlands in Iowa and Wisconsin. ...The communities spent thousands of dollars in providing security for the president.

La Crosse Common Council voted to charge the Bush-Cheney campaign $7,822, rather than the entire bill of more than $60,000.

Dubuque billed the campaign $10,217, but received $1,400 paid at the time of the visit, said Jean Nachtman, assistant finance director.

The rest of the bill was for security, and Dubuque's finance office was told to forward the charges to the Secret Service, she said.

Viroqua has not received any of the $4,026 it billed the campaign, said City Clerk Jodi Garibaldi.

La Crosse Mayor John Medinger said he wanted the city to get reimbursed for every dollar spent on campaign visits.

"It's not a partisan issue, it's an economic issue," he said. "By the time the year is over, we could have spent over $200,000 (on presidential and vice presidential visits). If I had put a line item for $200,000 for campaign visits, I believe there would have been outrage. Taxpayers would have said no."

Medinger has asked the state's Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager for an opinion on what share of the bill Wisconsin municipalities should pay for presidential and vice presidential campaign visits. "


link via Digby

Electronic Frontier Foundation

For more information on EFF activities & alerts:


EFF receives thousands of requests for legal assistance from Internet users. Although we take some cases ourselves, we are often asked to refer cases to Internet-savvy attorneys. In the past few years, we've referred over $2 million worth of work and hundreds of pro bono cases to attorneys on the EFF Cooperating Attorneys list. It's a simple mailing list where we post short case descriptions noting the location, potential issue and basic case facts. We protect the clients' confidentiality, and interested attorneys simply drop us a note to get connected with the client.

If you are a tech-minded attorney and you want to be on the list, simply send an e-mail to katie@eff.org with a subject that says: "Add Me to Cooperating Attorneys." Thanks for your help!

Ouch

Keyes is a real schmuck, even the Republicans don't want him to win. So, what exactly is his motivation for running? and the Illinois Republican party's motivation for choosing Keyes? I don't get it. Actually, if I let my cynical side speak, I can figure out why Keyes is running: lots of publicity, plenty of interviews, and he can take a healthy salary out of the whole fiasco. What is less clear is why the Illinois Republicans allowed themselves to be made the laughingstock of the nation?

Keyes makes Thompson 'uncomfortable' :
Former Gov. James R. Thompson refused to endorse Republican U.S. Senate nominee Alan Keyes on Wednesday, saying some of Keyes' stands on the issues made him "uncomfortable."

"I'd be inclined to vote Republican," Thompson said. "His views are very conservative. Some of his positions would make me uncomfortable as a voter. I'm willing to give him a chance to tell the people of Illinois what his views are. I have not endorsed him."

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Helen Thomas, Goddess

Helen Thomas, interviewed in the Progressive, says, in partHelen Thomas Interview, by Elizabeth DiNovella | August 2004 Issue:
"Why do Bush's press conferences sound so scripted?"

Thomas: "Bush has a seating chart and he knows who he is going to call on. He picks the people. He's been told to not call on me because I am going to ask a very tough question, such as, Why are we there? Why are we killing people in their own country? How can we? On what basis? I mean, if you want to go after terrorists, good. But Iraq had nothing to do with it."


Link via First Draft

and she responds to this question:
This President has not had many press conferences. Do you think the Bush Administration values the opportunity to talk with the press?

Thomas: Hell, no. He's forced to. It's absolutely necessary because we are there in their face. But he doesn't hold enough news conferences. It's far short of anybody else. And when he appears with a head of state and they try to act like it's a news conference, it's not. He says, "I'll take two questions here and two questions on that side," and there's no follow-up. He gets mad if it is a two-part question. I mean, c'mon. The President of the United States should be able to answer any question, or at least dance around one. At some time--early and often--he should submit to questioning and be held accountable, because if you don't have that then you only have one side of the story. The Presidential news conference is the only forum in our society, the only institution, where a President can be questioned. If a leader is not questioned, he can rule by edict or executive order. He can be a king or a dictator. Who's to challenge him? We're there to pull his chain and to ask the questions that should be asked every day, for every move.


truer words not spoken enough.

Claritin account

$83 MILLION CLARITIN AD ACCOUNT MOVED TO EURO RSCG:
Schering-Plough Corp. has changed agencies on its over-the-counter allergy medication Claritin, giving the $83 million account to Havas' Claritin ad account moves from Ogilvy & Mather to Euro RSCG Worldwide, New York, executives close to the business said.

Schering-Plough spent $83 million in measured media on Claritin last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR. The company has spent $35.5 million on the allergy medicine through the first four months of this year, putting it on par to spend $106.5 million for the year.

Advertising Age reported in June that Schering-Plough had launched a review to consolidate its $400 million global advertising budget at one or two holding companies. Claritin is its premier over-the-counter product, and Euro RSCG already handles several OTC products for Schering-Plough, including Lotrimin, Dr. Scholl's and Coppertone.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Department of Stretching the Truth

New York Daily News :
With all the controversy about John Kerry's Vietnam medals and ribbons, who'd have thought that loyal George W. Bush aide Karen Hughes would be the one to catch the President fibbing about a supposed varsity letter? In her new book, "Ten Minutes From Normal," Hughes recounts a conversation with Bush after Russian President Vladimir Putin grilled him on his Yale days.

"President Putin knew you had played rugby, but he didn't have the context. I mean, you just played for one semester in college, right?" Hughes said.

Bush corrected: "I played for a year, and it was the varsity."

Yesterday, a Yale spokeswoman confirmed that there's no such thing as varsity rugby at Yale - not when Bush was an undergrad in the 1960s and not today.


link via Atrios

Also linked to Tom Tomorrow's site, where Bob Harris posts:
Bush sucker punch in a Yale Rugby game, via Bob Harris

As long as we're re-examining the 1960s, looking for signs of character, trying to decide if a man who volunteered for combat and was decorated five times was more or less courageous than a guy who didn't even show up for his own medical exam... here's George W. Bush during his college days, hitting a fellow sportsman in the face.

...

Incidentally, while rugby is a contact sport, every player knows that tackling above the shoulders is a foul. So is leaving your feet during a tackle. Either of these is serious enough that the other team is immediately awarded a penalty kick, often directly resulting in points for the other team.

So even without throwing a punch, Bush is already well outside fair play.

Grasping an opponent by the back of the head and punching him in the face is beyond the pale -- I've watched rugby avidly for years, and I've never seen it during an open-field tackle like this, honest -- and will typically result in a player being immediately sent off.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Architecture tour from hell

You know, I'm really glad my parents weren't on this tour. They already think Chicago is a little gritty.

From the Trib
At the outset of a Chicago River boat tour Sunday, Capt. Sonja Lund deadpanned that passengers should not look up with their mouths open when passing under the city's grated bridges, lest they get a true "taste of Chicago."

About 15 minutes later, passengers got more than that. They got a deluge when the boat was doused with a foul "liquid substance" that appeared to drop from one or two charter buses as the boat passed under the Kinzie Street bridge, passengers and tour officials said.

Witnesses said they had just begun the Chicago Architecture Foundation's 1 p.m. tour when they passed under the bridge and a cascade of a "brownish-yellow" substance rained on them. About two-thirds of the passengers seated on the upper deck of Chicago's Little Lady were soaked. Passengers said they looked up to see at least one, possibly two charter buses rumbling above.

A volunteer tour guide at the boat's helm reassured passengers that they had been splashed with water. But the foul smell prompted suspicion.

There was "stunned silence initially. Then sort of this horrible realization as they began to smell themselves as to what happened," said Steedman Bass, 35, of Boston, who was a passenger on the boat but was not sprayed. "It was horrific."

Passengers shouted that police should be called and demanded the boat be turned around. Within minutes, the tour headed back to the dock at Michigan Avenue and Lower Wacker Drive, speeding as "fast as the boat would go," Lund said.

Some passengers became sick from the smell and made use of the boat's lower-deck bathrooms, Bass said.

At the dock, the 120 passengers disembarked and were given refunds for the $25 tickets, exchanges or open-ended tickets for later tours. Some were given cab fare to get back to hotels and some passengers' dry-cleaning bills will be paid, foundation officials said. The boat's crew swabbed the deck clean and set off only slightly delayed for the 3 p.m. tour.

"We feel very badly for these people who have had this day's event ruined," said Bastiaan Bouma, vice president of marketing and tours for the foundation. In 50 years of operation, the tour has never experienced something like this, he said.

"Obviously, this wasn't our fault. But we were just trying to make it as comfortable for the passengers as possible."

Bouma said that he was told that someone recorded license plate numbers from the bus or buses and reported the plates to police. He said he hoped to know the name of the company by Monday morning and would demand the company's buses be inspected for defects.

"Tomorrow morning we'll find out what buses were involved, and hopefully we'll get some answers," he said.

Police confirmed a report had been made, but said it was not being investigated as a crime.

A local tour bus company official said he had never heard of a bus unloading liquid waste into the river from a bridge. Charter bus companies typically contract with disposal companies to get rid of their waste or dump it at their own disposal sites, he said.

Passengers said they were shocked at the awful timing of the improbable hit.

"If you tried to orchestrate this, it would be an almost impossible scenario," Bass said.

Ewwww


Yahoo! News - Apparent Bus Waste Showers Boat Tourists
:
"Chicago Police said Monday they were investigating a foul-smelling gunk that showered tourists taking a boat tour of the city.

Witnesses on the Chicago's Little Lady architecture tour Sunday afternoon saw a large black tour bus dumping liquid waste as their boat cruised under the Kinzie Street bridge on the Chicago River, said Anita Pedersen, spokeswoman for the tour boat company. More than 100 passengers were on the boat when the waste poured onto the upper, open deck.

"I can only presume that perhaps it's human waste. There was a very strong smell to it," Pedersen said. Police spokesman Carlos Herrera said police were investigating how the passengers came to be covered by the mess and exactly what it was. Pedersen said some boat passengers wrote down partial license plate numbers of the bus.



After the incident, the boat's captain turned the vessel around so passengers could return to the dock. They all got refunds, Pedersen said. The boat has since been cleaned with disinfectant. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago also are investigating the matter, said Illinois EPA spokesman Rob Sulski.



"We need to find out whether it was a deliberate matter or an accident," Sulski said. Water reclamation district spokesman Lou Kollias said they had little information Monday about the incident. Lynn Osmond, president and CEO the Chicago Architecture Foundation, which runs the tour boats along with the boat's owner, said nothing like this has ever happened before.

Plame update

Hmmm, I notice the NYT's parses the law as "Disclosing the identity of a covert C.I.A. officer can be a crime.", which as far as I know, is inaccurate, and there is no reason granted by statute. We'll see how it plays out. Mr. Fitzgerald seems like a patriot, more than a Republican (ask George Ryan).
The New York Times > Washington > Reporter Held in Contempt Over C.I.A. Leak:
A federal judge in Washington held a reporter for Time magazine in contempt today and ordered him jailed for refusing to name the government officials who disclosed the identity of a C.I.A. agent to him. The magazine was also held in contempt and ordered to pay a fine of $1,000 a day.

The judge, Thomas F. Hogan, suspended both sanctions while Time and its reporter, Matthew Cooper, pursued an appeal.

While the subpoena battle is only one aspect of a politically charged grand jury investigation that has repeatedly reached into the White House, it nevertheless represents the most significant clash between federal prosecutors and the press since the 1970's.

Legal experts, including some sympathetic to the journalists' arguments, said the appeals court is unlikely to reverse Judge Hogan's decision.

"I think Matt Cooper is going to jail," said Lucy Dalglish, the executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

The grand jury is to determine who told Robert D. Novak, the syndicated columnist, the identity of the C.I.A. officer, Valerie Plame.

Ms. Plame is married to Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former diplomat who asserted in an op-ed article in The New York Times on July 6, 2003, that President Bush had relied on discredited intelligence when he said, in his 2003 State of the Union address, that Iraq had sought to acquire uranium from Niger.

On July 14, 2003, Mr. Novak disclosed in his column that Ms. Plame "is an agency operative on weapons of mass destruction" and that "two senior administration officials" had told him that she was the person who suggested sending him to Africa.


"Disclosing the identity of a covert C.I.A. officer can be a crime."

Tim Russert, of NBC's "Meet the Press," was subpoenaed in the investigation along with Mr. Cooper. In a decision dated July 20, 2004, but made public today, Judge Hogan ordered both Mr. Russert and Mr. Cooper to testify before the grand jury investigation.

Mr. Cooper refused, leading to today's contempt order. Mr. Russert, on the other hand, agreed to cooperate with the special prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald.

In a statement, NBC said Mr. Russert was interviewed under oath by prosecutors on Saturday. NBC said Mr. Russert had not been a recipient of the leak and was not asked questions that would have required him to disclose a confidential source.

"The questioning focused," NBC reported, "on what Russert said when Lewis `Scooter' Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, phoned him last summer. Russert told the special prosecutor that at the time of the conversation he didn't know Plame's name or that she was a C.I.A. operative and did not provide that information to Libby."

War Crimes

Is there an impeachment proceeding initiated yet? Why not? This sounds like either major incompetence, or politicians worrying more about re-election rather than security of the country.Reuters News Article:
A U.S. senator asked the White House to explain how and why the name of an al Qaeda informant was leaked to the press, saying it may have hurt the war on terror, a letter from the lawmaker said on Monday.

A Pakistani intelligence source said on Friday that U.S. officials confirmed the name of captured al Qaeda suspect Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan while he was still cooperating with Pakistani authorities as part of a sting operation against Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network, thereby compromising his cover.

"I respectfully request an explanation to me and any other member of Congress who might wish one of who leaked this Mr. Khan's name, for what reason it was leaked, and whether ... reports that this leak compromised future intelligence activity are accurate," Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democrat from New York, wrote in a letter to White House domestic security adviser Frances Townsend on Aug. 8.
...Information from computer expert Khan led the United States to issue a high alert at financial institutions against a possible al Qaeda attack earlier this month, and led Britain to arrest 12 al Qaeda suspects.

It is not clear who was the first to disclose Khan's name, but his unmasking has received criticism on both sides of the political spectrum.

Republican Sen. George Allen of Virginia said on television on Sunday: "In this situation, in my view, they should have kept their mouth shut and just said, 'We have information, trust us."'

Asked about the release of Khan's name, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said it was a hard line to draw between giving the public too much or too little information about terrorist threats.

...
The Pakistani crackdown, which began a month ago, has dealt al Qaeda a major blow, although officials warn the network has not been defeated.

Department of Double Standards

Kudos to Congressman Waxman for pointing out the obvious: The U.S. Justice Department has a vehemently partisan agenda.Kansas City Star | 08/08/2004 | Berger probe called a double standard:
A top House Democrat has called on Attorney General John Ashcroft to explain why the Justice Department is cooperating with a congressional inquiry into Sandy Berger's case.

A criminal investigation of the alleged document mishandling is currently ongoing.


Rep. Henry A. Waxman of California, the senior Democrat on the Government Reform Committee, said Friday that the department position regarding Berger, a national security adviser to President Bill Clinton accused of mishandling classified documents, is at odds with the way inquiries tied to the Bush administration have been handled.


“In the investigation into the leak of the identity of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame, officials have said repeatedly that they cannot comment because the matter is currently under investigation,” Waxman wrote to the Justice Department.


He said the policy “is intended to maintain the integrity of the investigation.”


The panel chairman, Rep. Tom Davis, a Virginia Republican, called last week on the National Archives and Records Administration to provide materials related to Berger, who has acknowledged he improperly removed documents from the archives last year but said he did so inadvertently.

...Davis' determination to investigate the Berger case has created a dispute with Waxman and other Democrats. They accuse the chairman and the House Republican leadership of applying a double standard since they have rejected Democratic calls to look into the disclosure of Plame's identity and a series of other matters related to the war in Iraq.

Lemon threat

No word if they made lemonade afterwords....
Yahoo! News - Lemon Cargo Wasted After False Security Tip
:
Five shipping containers of lemons rotted on a ship held off New York all week after officials received a false tip amid heightened security that the cargo might be biologically contaminated, the U.S. Coast Guard said on Friday.


The Coast Guard said in a statement that it boarded the container ship CSAV Rio Puelo on Saturday after being told by the U.S. Department of Agriculture of an "unconfirmed anonymous report" that one container of lemons had an "unknown harmful biological substance."

Officials tested the cargo for biological hazards, but none was found, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

It was not immediately known how many pounds of lemons were spoiled, but CSAVGroup, the shipping container firm that owns the ship, said the containers can hold up hold up to 40,000 pounds (18 tons) of produce apiece. They declined to say how much money had been lost and whether insurance would pick up the cost.
"The lemons will be destroyed because they are no good after sitting at sea for a week," Coast Guard spokesman Jim McGranachan said.

The Marshall Islands-flagged ship, which was delivering the lemons from South America, was escorted from an anchorage off New York into the neighboring port of Newark, New Jersey on Friday, the spokesman said.


With U.S. government warnings of a possible attack by Islamic militants in the run up to the November presidential election and new maritime security measures that came into force last month, officials are taking extra precautions.

Friday, August 06, 2004

SUV's outlawed

California's SUV Ban - The Golden State has outlawed big SUVs on many of its roads but doesn't seem to know it. By Andy Bowers:
California's SUV Ban. The Golden State has outlawed big SUVs on many of its roads but doesn't seem to know it.
Unless you drive one of the largest SUVs, such as the Chevy Suburban, the Cadillac Escalade, or the Ford Excursion, I'll bet you've watched them thundering down quiet residential lanes and wondered to yourself: Why is that monster allowed on this little street?

Well, here's a surprising piece of news. It may not be. Cities throughout California—the nation's largest car market—prohibit the heaviest SUVs on many of their residential roads. The problem is, they don't seem to know they've done it.

I discovered this secret ban after noticing the signs at both ends of my narrow Los Angeles-area street (a favorite cut-through route for drivers hoping to avoid tie-ups on bigger roads). The signs clearly prohibit vehicles over 6,000 pounds.

Wilco rough mixes

PopMatters Music Feature | The Wilco You Weren't Supposed to Hear:
How the 21 tracks that comprise the YHF Demos were surreptitiously swiped from the studio and made available over the Internet is certainly a story in itself. Unfortunately I am not in a position to relate that tale. I am merely a closet Wilco fan

Swift boat

from the Atrios comment section, Little Birdie finds info about the sleazy media company that is smearing Kerry:
Atrios HaloScan.com - Comments
Back to Swift Boat Liars.

In case you missed it, the media team behind the Swift Boat Liars is Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm, the same scuzbuckets who produced the infamous "tank" commercial against Dukakis for poppy (among many other slimeball political ads). It's their specialty.

Yesterday, their site listed phone numbers and email addys for all the principals. Hee. I guess they received a, well, response. Anyway, they actually took down all of their contact info - even the phone numbers!

Never fear.

Through the magic of google cache...

Greg Stevens, Founder and President
gstevens@srcpmedia.com

Rick Reed, Partner
rreed@srcpmedia.com

Paul Curcio, Partner
pcurcio@srcpmedia.com

Erik Potholm, Partner
epotholm@srcpmedia.com

Voice: 703-683-8326 | Fax: 703-683-8826

Please, enjoy responsibly!

Sting

Terrorism sting begs the question: would Gale Nettles, with his history of mental illness, have gone as far as he did without the assistance of the FBI? Probably not, which is why sting operations are a bit troubling. I mean, nobody wants buildings to blow up, but when you enable mentally ill people to accumulate information and materials in pursuit of terrorist acts or violence, you run the risk of letting events escape from your control. Luckily, that didn't happen in this particular instance. FBI aids suspect in catching himself
An ex-con is accused of plotting to blow up the Dirksen building, but U.S. agents were clued in from the start


Following a federal counterfeiting conviction in Chicago, Gale Nettles was serving time in a Mississippi prison last fall when he confided to another inmate his plot to blow up the federal courthouse in the city, authorities say.

The other inmate tipped off the FBI, and over the next several months after his release, Nettles, using the nickname of "Ben Laden," pursued his alleged plot to level the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse with a fertilizer truck bomb, even reaching out for help from someone he believed to be a terrorist affiliated with a Middle Eastern group, charges allege.

But in the end, all the people who helped Nettles in his months-long quest were undercover federal agents or government informants, authorities said.

...
Nettles, 66, a troubled man with a long history of criminal convictions and mental problems, acted alone and had no connections to any terrorist organizations, authorities said.

Agents from the FBI-led Chicago Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested the Tennessee native early Thursday shortly after he was paid $10,000 in cash for delivering about 1,500 pounds of fertilizer to an undercover FBI agent posing as a terrorist.

A day earlier, Nettles had filled a rented storage facility on the North Side with about 500 pounds of fertilizer that he planned to use to destroy the Dirksen Courthouse, authorities said.

Nettles planned to blow up the high-rise downtown courthouse at 219 S. Dearborn St. with ammonium nitrate fertilizer, the same substance used in the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people, charges allege. But as part of the undercover operation, a non-dangerous type of fertilizer was delivered to Nettles, authorities said.
...
Through the use of undercover officers, confidential sources, physical surveillance and wiretapping Nettles' cell phone, Kneir said, authorities were able to continuously monitor Nettles' activities and were prepared to intervene before he could carry out his plot.

Nettles was still on parole from the armed-robbery conviction when he was indicted in 2001 on the counterfeiting charge, the records show.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Peja wants out

I don't think Peja wants to play with Ostertag....ESPN.com - NBA - From way downtown: Peja asks Kings for trade:


Peja Stojakovic wants out of Sacramento. Stojakovic said Thursday he told Kings general manager Geoff Petrie he wants to be traded from the only NBA team he has played for. "I think the change would be good for the team and for myself," Stojakovic told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "That's the only explanation you're going to get from me." Stojakovic, a three-time All-Star and the NBA's second-leading scorer last season, has been with the Kings since entering the league in 1998. He was upset that the Kings lost countryman Vlade Divac to the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent and feels it's time to move on.

The Kings were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs last season, losing in seven games to the Minnesota Timberwolves.


"You could see this year, late in the year, we didn't have good chemistry and didn't play good basketball," Stojakovic said. "I just think that the team had their chances, and opportunities are closing, and the team needs new players.

Stojakovic, one of the game's best pure shooters, has two years remaining on his contract plus an option for a third year. He has been one of the most popular players in Kings history, with such a loyal following in his home country that the Kings are easily the most popular NBA team in Serbia-Montenegro.


Stojakovic was in Belgrade on Thursday for a promotional appearance ahead of his country's exhibition game Friday against the U.S. Olympic basketball team. He is not playing for his nation this summer.


His trade request was unexpected.


"I just think it would be good for them and myself. Sacramento is great, but I think I need a change," Stojakovic said.



John Delacour

From the Eudora mailing list:
to add command keys (to open your junk mailbox, for instance)
There are plugins mapping command keys shortcuts to the 4 mailboxes at

http://www.bd8.com/eudora/rez/

Choose the one for your system/version and put it in

Eudora.app/Contents/Plugins/

or (older versions) :Eudora application folder:Eudora Stuff:

Fair use

Bottom line, copyright laws in the U.S. are in desperate need for revision. Can Disney lose it's work to the public domain already? And I like this quote from the Wired article, "risk-averse [media] executives questioned artists' rights to use other people's materials". I'm with the Honorable Mr. Guthrie on this..

According to various Internet sources, including the website of the Museum of Musical Instruments in Santa Cruz, California, Guthrie allegedly wrote, "This song is copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright #154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don't give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that's all we wanted to do.


Wired News: JibJabbing for Artists' Rights:
Ludlow Music, which owns Guthrie's copyright to the song, threatened to sue JibJab Media, which created the animation. But attorneys for JibJab struck first, filing a lawsuit last week in U.S. District Court in Northern California that asks a judge to declare that This Land does not violate copyright.


It's a clear example of a legal concept called fair use, say the lawyers for JibJab and advocates of liberal copyright laws. If JibJab wins, the case could embolden artists to fend off copyright holders' aggressive lawyers, who increasingly view digital distribution as a threat.


"This is an important case to set the tone for artists and authors who want to make use of famous works," said Fred von Lohmann, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is representing JibJab.


JibJab and the EFF say JibJab did not infringe anybody's copyright because of the American doctrine of fair use, which tries to balance the interests of copyright holders with the public interest in distributing ideas and allowing others to build on them. In general, an artist or writer can copy excerpts from the works of others for the purposes of education, criticism, research or news reporting.

Von Lohmann said the concept of fair use became somewhat constricted with the advent of broadcast media, because risk-averse executives questioned artists' rights to use other people's materials. So the rise of the modern industry "artificially constrained fair use," he said. Now, with the Web and the Internet, artists don't have to go through media executives to reach tens of millions of people, giving them the freedom to "insist on their full measure of fair-use rights."

Salvia

I don't really understand the so-called Puritan impulse in this country. Why are god-given plants demonized? Why should they be outlawed by government fiat? Why is the government so interested in legislating morality? I just don't get it.

This article in the Ithica Journal is a case in point
Salvia divinorum Legislature should outlaw substance - ithacajournal.com:
Salvia divinorum is an herb in the mint family that is native to Mexico. Like marijuana, salvia can be smoked to produce a state of intoxication. Users have said that salvia produces hallucinations that reportedly can be more powerful than LSD.

Unlike marijuana or LSD, salvia is legal to use. A recent Ithaca Journal report found that this drug is no more regulated than bubble gum. It can be openly purchased through some local shops, by mail and via the World Wide Web. And there's the problem: Youngsters who may not try illegal drugs such as marijuana might be tempted to experiment with salvia.

...
Those who support the use of Salvia claim that it is a "natural herb" and that it is non-addictive. The same arguments once were put forth regarding marijuana. Today, the National Institute on Drug Abuse considers marijuana an addictive substance because people have withdrawal symptoms from it -- and it works in the same area of the brain as other hallucinogens, Rusen said.

Common sense dictates that it is unwise to allow the sale of a powerful psychoactive substance that is subject to less regulation than bottled water. What is particularly disturbing is that there are no laws regulating its purchase by minors. After all, there are sound reasons why our culture doesn't allow eight-year-old children to drive cars on highways or make it legal for 14-year-olds to buy cigarettes or beer.

To date, there are no state or federal laws regulating the production or distribution of Salvia divinorum. There should be.

In 2002, a bill in the House of Representatives, HR 5607, contained wording that regulated salvia. Unfortunately, the 107th Congress did not act on it. Hopefully, our elected officials in Washington, D.C. -- or Albany -- will take action this year.

There are enough problems associated with substance abuse. Allowing a powerful, unregulated psychoactive substance to be openly marketed is not good public policy.


Yes, marijuana is a "natural herb" as well, and should be no harder to purchase at your local herb shop then St. Johns Wort, or green tea. And hallucinogens should be legal too, what's your point?

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Schlotzsky's

Schlotzsky's, Austin, Texas, has filed for Chapter 11 protection. The Austin, Texas-based restaurant chain reported a net loss of $11.7 million in 2003, compared to a net loss of $199,000 in 2002, and also a net loss of $671,000 in the first quarter of 2004, according to the court filing. Schlotzsky's currently has more than 500 franchisee- and company-operated restaurants in the U.S. and overseas. The restaurants are expected to continue normal operations during Schlotzsky's financial restructuring, per the company. "We have taken an important step toward creating a stronger Schlotzsky's," Sam Coats, president and CEO, said in a statement. "It became apparent to our board that this action was necessary to protect Schlotzsky's from millions of dollars in claims, judgments, and debts accumulated during the past few years, while enabling us to restructure the company."

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

First Draft

New blog emerges from the forehead (or is it thigh? my Greek mythology is partially forgotten at the moment) of Atrios, First Draft.. Every time Atrios goes on vacation, a new blog emerges.....

at least they didn't call it Frist!


ps, Corrente was the other one, unless there are more. I really need to take some of those memory pills I keep getting spam about.

Musical mastering lesson

I think this guy is on to something. CD's are getting louder, and some recent releases really sound compressed, or even distorted. Maybe I'm just a die-hard vinyl junkie, or maybe I'm crazy, but read for yourself....

Rip Rowan: Over the Limit:
Record labels have never really understood what makes a record sound good and frankly, few even care. Many of the people who sign artists don?t understand their music at all. Instead, they are able to pick up on musical trends, and replicate those trends across the ranks of their artists. Artists that fit into the trend are fed, the rest are starved.

Over the past few years, record labels have increasingly attempted to dictate to the artist and producer the target volume level of the CD. For some reason, record labels have it in their head that LOUD equals good, and therefore, LOUDER equals better. Not caring to understand even the basics of audio, these morons simply demand more volume (typically from the mastering engineer) and really don?t understand ? or care ? about the consequences of their demands.

Mastering engineers are caught in a Catch-22. If they do not deliver a product that is appropriately LOUD, then they are consdered inept by the labels and are shunned. If they refuse to destroy the artist?s music, then they aren?t being ?team players? and quickly fall out of favor. But if they provide what the customer demands (and remember, the label, not the band, is the customer) then they ruin a perfectly good piece of music, and they know that sooner or later, people are going to figure out why the sound is so horrible, and then the mastering engineer will be blacklisted for having followed orders.

Having said all that I really don?t know what I would do in their shoes. If someone offered YOU the opportunity to master a Rush CD, and then told you that you would have to destroy the sound quality in order to get the job, how would you respond? It isn?t a clear or easy choice.

However what is clear as day is that this CD sounds like dogshit. I cannot say this enough. My God, this thing sounds terrible. It is hands-down the worst sounding CD I own.

...Everyone has heard the CD That Is Too Quiet. This is usually your (or your buddy?s) first demo. You pop it in and you can barely hear the music. There are many reasons for the CD That Is Too Quiet, and it isn?t my intention here to go into them all. But we?ve all heard (or made) the CD That Is Too Quiet and regretted it.

Professional engineers, particularly the ones working with digital in the early days of that medium, made some CDs That Were Too Quiet. Usually, these guys had lots of skill and great intent. You get the whole CD laid out in the DAW, and you?ve been careful with your gain structure, and there?s lots of headroom. In one or two places, there?s a freak transient that comes close to 0 dB, but overall the peaks are hitting near ?9 or lower, and there?s tons of dynamic range. In general these professional CDs sound pretty good ? sometimes excellent - but the average level of the audio is relatively low.

Most older recordings tracked and mixed to analog didn?t suffer these problems. The reason was that traditionally engineers would saturate the analog tape by running it hot, essentally using the tape as a peak limiter at every stage of the process. As a result there are usually no errant peaks in an analog rock recording, and for this reason most rock records are still recorded to analog tape.

The problem with the CD That Is Too Quiet is this: when you put the CD into the CD changer, it?s YOUR music that nobody hears. Well, folks, if you?re a record label exec, that?s the ONE problem that you know just cannot be allowed to stand. Quiet CDs became synonymous with Amateur Recordings, and Loud CDs became synonymous with Professional Recordings.

Understandably, nobody wants to have the quietest CD in the CD changer. Nobody wants to have the one CD that doesn?t get heard. The problem with the LOUDER IS BETTER approach is simply that with any medium ? digital or analog ? there is only so much signal that will fit in the space provided. Beyond a point, you cannot gain anything without losing something.


more details and discussion here

NBA news from all over

and the Sacramento Kings losing Vlade and replacing him with Ostertag still annoys me, although Vlade should have come off the bench in any case....
ESPN.com: Page 2 - SGW Quote of the Day archive:
"I think I'll get along real well with Brad. I can see us really going at it in practice every day, then going out and killing something to eat."
-- Greg Ostertag on new Sacramento Kings teammate Brad Miller"

Monday, August 02, 2004

Airport Express

From the new Tidbits blog
ExtraBITS
You can change the behavior of the light on an Airport Express
" via an obscure setting. Run AirPort Admin Utility. Connect to the AirPort Express. Click Base Station Options. At the bottom, you'll find a checkbox that allows you to have the Express flash with activity.

DuSable Park

Chicago Journal Newspaper:
In the beginning, DuSable Park wasn't a park at all--not even in name. It was a dumping ground for Streeterville's deep-dug foundations, a nub of a lakefront peninsula where dirt piled up and weeds grew on top. Later it was mulled as a high-rise site, and later still as a parking lot. For six or seven decades--even after DuSable Park was dedicated by Harold Washington in 1987--radioactive thorium lay undetected in the ground there, the residue of an incandescent lamp factory gone since the 1930s. The pollution was only discovered in late 2000.


Mostly, though, DuSable Park has been a ragged and lonely wilderness at the mouth of the Chicago River just south of Navy Pier. But that's about to change.

more here, at the best local Chicago newspaper. (except, and this is a real issue, the website is not updated frequently enough)



Now playing in iTunes: Miss Heather Rosemary Sewell, from the album The Best Of Bert Jansch by Jansch, Bert (released 1965)

fair use?

Star wars? The Ebert strikes back :
Q. Regarding the Bush campaign's new TV ad, "Kerry's Coalition of the Wild-eyed": I linked to a script of the spot, and noticed that they are using what's described as a "video clip" from the 2003 Oscars, when Michael Moore berated George W. Bush.

I've always understood that Academy is extremely vigilant about protecting its copyright, and permits clips from the Oscars to be rebroadcast only in very special cases (for example, when a presenter or recipient dies). If the Oscar clip really is in the Bush ad, does this mean AMPAS has relaxed its licensing/usage policy? If not, will its leaders demand that Bush & Co. cease and desist?

Stuart Cleland, Evanston



A. Bruce Davis, executive director of the Oscars, replies: "Your correspondent is correct that the Academy prefers that the copyrighted footage from its shows be reused -- following the brief grace period immediately after each broadcast -- only in the context of obituaries or definitive biographies. We are not enthusiastic about clips from our broadcast being used in political ads, whether they're blue, red, green or any other hue, but we've been advised by our attorneys that the clip in the Bush ad is short enough, and oddly enough political enough, to be protected under the fair use doctrine.

"Fair use trumps copyright infringement. So while we're not happy about what we regard as a misappropriation of our material, there doesn't seem to be much that we can do about it beyond grousing in the columns of movie critics, when we get the chance."

Skipping commercials

I knew the reign of TiVo wouldn't last forever. My hope is that this new generation of DVR's are not so obnoxious that I have to throw the system out the window, so to speak. Also, can we ban marketers/P.R. folks from ever using military jargon? Sports figures too.
MediaDailyNews
In a move expected to finally give television commercials the dynamic, real-time addressability of online ads, a major developer of video-on-demand (VOD) TV systems is close to unveiling a new feature that enabling the real-time insertion of relevant advertising content down to the household--and even an individual--level.

The new system, dubbed Ads On VOD (AOVOD), will enable cable TV operators to insert timely and relevant advertising messages into on-demand programming on-the-fly. The system, which is currently being tested live this week in an undisclosed major on-demand video market, will get its official unveiling next week when SeaChange International makes it public.

"Your ad becomes a fire-and-rest missile," said R. James Kelso, vice president-general manager/broadband systems at SeaChange, a pioneer in and a leading proponent of VOD systems. While he declined to provide details of the new advertising system, Kelso said it would be a "major weapon" against ad-skipping in an on-demand television environment: "relevance."

One is a "fast-forward lock-out" feature that would literally block the ability of viewers to zip through TV commercials. Another feature that is currently in test would superimpose a special 6-second, real-time TV commercial on screen during the 6 seconds it takes for a viewer to fast-forward through a typical 30-second TV commercial.

While many on Madison Avenue are still oblivious to the implications of VOD, Kelso said the next-generation VOD applications will provide an ideal opportunity for marketers to learn how to deal with advertising in an on-demand environment, whether that is via VOD at a cable head-end, or via digital video recorders in a consumer's home.

HP Laserjet 4550 N

My HP Laserjet 4550N is refusing to print, and prints reams and reams of paper before every job. Every once and a while I get "49.2FD3 Service Error".
Piece o' crap! Incredibly inconsistent behavior. Mac OS X Panther 10.34, Windows XP, and even directly from the printer menu: all exhibit the same symptoms.

Update, per the knowledgeable folks at FixYourOwnPrinter, the problem is with the Transfer Belt Unit. A work-around is to open the back cover right after a blank page comes out, then close it again. I don't know why this works, but it does.

Second update: I replaced the entire transfer kit (which includes a new roller), and vacuumed/wiped everything I could, and this has apparently fixed me. YRMBD.

JibJab jabs back

In re this story, JibJab asks for reliefWired News: JibJab Asks for Court's Help:
JibJab Media, a small Web animation outfit, on Thursday asked a California district court to declare that it did not violate the copyrights of Ludlow Music, the owner of Woody Guthrie's song "This Land is Your Land," which is the basis of a satirical JibJab cartoon lampooning the presidential candidates.


Ludlow Music has been threatening to sue JibJab for infringing on its copyright, saying JibJab never asked for permission to use the song. JibJab's creators have said they believe they have a right to use the song since it was used in a parody and as such is protected speech.

...In the complaint filed Thursday, JibJab asked a district judge to issue a judgment to clarify the copyright issues between JibJab and Ludlow Music -- essentially asking the judge to tell Ludlow to leave JibJab alone.

The complaint was filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation on behalf of JibJab. Fred von Lohmann, an attorney for the digital rights organization, declined to give further details about the complaint.

Department of Overreaction

caught at the ChiTrib:

A 60-year-old Japanese passenger on a flight leaving O'Hare International Airport caused a bomb scare late Sunday afternoon when a passenger saw him write the words "suicide bomb" on a piece of paper and alerted authorities, police said.

United Airlines Flight 1184, scheduled to leave for Columbus, Ohio, was on the runway around 5:30 p.m. when the pilot learned of the note, turned the plane around and taxied to a nearby gate.

All 120 passengers were taken off the plane.

But authorities soon learned that the Japanese national, who was on the plane on business, was only writing words he didn't understand so he could look them up later with a dictionary, said O'Hare police Sgt. Philip Deerig.

The man was released, police said, and allowed to re-board the flight, which left three hours late.



can this hysterical overreaction to words written on a page get any worse?

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Jobs and Pancreatic Cancer

Email from Steve Jobs:" 

Apple's CEO, Steve Jobs, sent the following e-mail Sunday to Apple Computer Inc. employees:

Team,

I have some personal news that I need to share with you, and I wanted you to hear it directly from me.

This weekend I underwent a successful surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from my pancreas. I had a very rare form of pancreatic cancer called an islet cell neuroendocrine tumor, which represents about 1 percent of the total cases of pancreatic cancer diagnosed each year, and can be cured by surgical removal if diagnosed in time (mine was). I will not require any chemotherapy or radiation treatments.

The far more common form of pancreatic cancer is called adenocarcinoma, which is currently not curable and usually carries a life expectancy of around one year after diagnosis. I mention this because when one hears "pancreatic cancer" (or Googles it), one immediately encounters this far more common and deadly form, which, thank god, is not what I had.

I will be recuperating during the month of August, and expect to return to work in September. While I'm out, I've asked Tim Cook to be responsible for Apple's day to day operations, so we shouldn't miss a beat. I'm sure I'll be calling some of you way too much in August, and I look forward to seeing you in September.

Steve

PS: I'm sending this from my hospital bed using my 17-inch PowerBook and an Airport Express."


so, prognosis is good, thank god.

Jobs and Pancreatic Cancer

Get well soon is all I will add.

WSJ.com - Apple Computer CEO Jobs Undergoes Successful Surgery:

"Steve Jobs, chief executive of personal-computer maker Apple Computer Inc. and animation studio Pixar Animation Studio, underwent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in his pancreas during the weekend. The surgery was successful and Mr. Jobs will return to work in September, an Apple spokeswoman said.


Mr. Jobs, 49 years old, disclosed the news about his surgery in a memo that he sent to staffers at Apple, Cupertino, Calif., on Sunday. In the memo, Mr. Jobs told Apple employees that he had a rare form of pancreatic cancer, called islet cell neuroendocrine tumor, which can be cured by surgery if removed in time. Mr. Jobs's tumor was diagnosed in time, he said, and he won't require any chemotherapy or radiation treatment."

O'Hare woes continue

I swear, someone either has placed a hex on O'Hare (like Peter Fitzgerald), or someone in the O'Hare Airport in-house PR dept. is going to loose a little sleep this weekend. Not only is the Federal Govt sniffing around regarding 1. the O'Hare expansion and 2. frequent flight delays, but the 3. whole system crashed today (not to mention 4. last month's power outage fiasco).

From the Trib
A computer glitch grounded American Airlines and US Airways flights from coast to coast Sunday morning, causing delays that were expected to last all day. American had its planes back up after two hours, while US Airways flights were grounded for about three.

Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Diane Spitaliere said the FAA was alerted to the problem, and both carriers asked the FAA's air traffic controllers to help communicate with planes to keep them on the ground until the problems were fixed.

US Airways spokeswoman Amy Kudwa said the airline's flight-operation database malfunctioned, due to "an internal technology problem." A similar problem affected American's flight plan system, grounding about 150 flights, spokesman John Hotard said.

Both airlines use a computer system hosted by Plano-based Electronic Data Systems Corp. An EDS spokesman said an "extensive internal evaluation" was under way to determine what happened.


From Fitzgerald's web site, in part,
U.S. Senator Peter G. Fitzgerald (R-Illinois) said today that delay controls, pejoratively called “flight caps” by the airlines, are needed at O’Hare International Airport to reduce delays and ensure safety, and urged U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta to impose them as soon as possible.

“What’s happening at O’Hare is an insult to airline customers and an assault on air travel schedules across the country,” Sen. Fitzgerald said. “The airlines regularly schedule more flights than O’Hare is able to handle and then blame the inevitable delays on the weather or the FAA.”

Fitzgerald made the comments after Mineta called a meeting of the O’Hare air carriers in Washington D.C. next week to try to hammer out voluntary flight reductions. Although Congress removed delay controls from O’Hare and other airports in 2002, it gave the Transportation Secretary authority to impose new restrictions to ameliorate delays if the need arises. Fitzgerald predicted the airlines wouldn’t be able to reach agreement on a sufficient reduction plan and said that Mineta ought to act quickly on delay controls if the airlines don’t immediately come to agreement on aggressive reductions.

“We shouldn’t dance around the obvious,” he said. “Delay controls are needed at O’Hare, and we ought to put them in place right away.”