June 2005 Archives

NBA All-Star Game 1976

Now that the San Antonio Spurs have taken their rightful place as the best team in the 2005 NBA, there aren't any sporting event that I can waste my time with, except for the classic games being shown on NBA-TV. So, of course, I'm watching these rebroadcasts.

This week, NBA TV is showing All Star games from the 70's and 80's. The opening montage is classic, I wish I could link to a Bitorrent, you'd laugh aloud. Imagine a neon sign animation, playing “Princeton-style” hoop.

Anyway, 1976 game featured a plethora of stars, and significant names (Dave Bing, Bob McAdoo, Tiny Archibald, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Rick Barry, Walt Frazier, Rudy T, Doug Collins, even a Western Conference Chicago Bulls “Stormin” Norm O'Lier.).

Box score here

Amazing how fluid the game was, so many passes, so few moments of “one guy dribbling, looking for an opening”. I'd pay to go to a game like that....


Pointless milestones

are the best, Jerry, the best! Anyway, even though today was one of those days where nothing goes exactly right (minor annoyances from the time I rolled out of bed in search of espresso and a pot to piss in; major annoyances interspersed periodically; wasps, broken equipment, plumbing problems, software malfunctions, blah blah fucking blah), this site still reached some sort of pointless milestone. Namely, 50,000 visitors (since we started tracking Feb 28, 2004 - previously though, traffic was in the low teens per week) to B12 Partners. Whoo hoo!

Some fun recent searches:

  • Motorola V710 - this still bugs me: Verizon's V710 phone has a bluetooth chip (which is partially why I bought it), but is crippled, so as to be basically useless. I wanted to download my phone book into my GPS system, no luck. Open source, bleh.
  • Plenty of hits to my photo of Wells St. right before a rain storm. I worried that someone has stolen it, so I added copyright info.
  • Link Ray What a great find. Forgot why I bought it, but it 'rawks!'
  • Theramin , probably a friend of my Aunt Pat
  • Laserjet 4550n (frequently visited by af.mil domains, I assume the Air Force owns plenty of these printers, and wonders why they spit out reams of blank pages, if the transfer belt goes awry)
  • Robert Novak prosecutor 'plume'. I'm guessing they were looking for Peter Fitzgerald's name, in the Valerie Plame matter. Seems close to resolution however.
  • The Gap's stupidly named Forth and Towne Yes, most baby-boomer yuppies want to shop at a store called FAT. Is irony on Terry Shavio support?
  • “right of conscience” blagojevich madigan apply pharmacist, which led to here
  • Someone at the customs.org domain wanted to convert xml to binary, and was directed here, instead of to MacOSXHints.
  • Read Books, get brain - blow job news from all over
  • Henry Bunsow , who I had to look up myself (turns out to be an attorney involved in the recent Blackberry patent suit)
  • GE Coal Commercial . God this commercial irks me.
  • The actual 50,000 visitor was looking for NBA Salary Cap news, and went here

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  • One Bank to Rule Them

    Jesus H! Every week some major industry announces that 2 of the top companies are merging. Today's industry, banking. How soon will there just be two companies (Oceania/Eurasia) in each category?

    WSJ.com - Bank of America to Acquire MBNA:
    Bank of America Corp. said it agreed to acquire MBNA Corp., a major independent credit-card issuer, for $35 billion in cash and stock.

    The acquisition combines a giant domestic bank with a leading provider of credit-card and payment products. It will significantly enhance Bank of America's product mix and customer reach, the company said. After the deal, Bank of America will become one of the largest card issuers in the U.S., with $143 billion in managed outstanding balances and 40 million active accounts, the bank said.
    In the wake of the deal, Bank of America said it expects to take a restructuring charge of $1.25 billion related to the transaction. It said it will cut costs by eliminating 6,000 jobs and by cutting “overlapping technology, vendor leverage, and marketing expense.” The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter.
    ... Known in the industry as “mono-line” companies, the independents include MBNA, Capital One Financial Corp., and Metris Cos. Unlike other credit-card operations that are tucked into banking behemoths such as J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America, the mono-line issuers don't have significant banking operations. Earlier this month, Washington Mutual Inc. announced plans to buy mono-line issuer Providian Financial Corp. in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $6.45 billion.


    Gravel into park transformation

    As previously mentioned, we may be building a park near my building. Current view of Gravel Patch Park aka Malkah Park, via Amazon's A9. Measures 20 feet by 50 feet (1000 sq. ft).

    626 W Randolph

    The project is progressing nicely, and the owner has agreed, in principle, to swap this piece of property with the City of Chicago for another parcel near Western. There is a non-profit organization called Neighborhood Park Advisory Council (sic), or something similar, which will actually have legal stewardship of the property, including liability insurance and so forth. Our building will erect a fence, add a few dumptrucks full of dirt, purchase trees, shrubs, flowers, etc.

    This is the plan so far anyway. Next step will be the official transfer documents, sometime this month. Cross yer' collective fingers!

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    Anti-smoke legislation


    As an ex-smoker (Drum's mostly, occasional American Spirits, before they were bought up by RJR), I don't really care what people do with their own lungs, but please, keep it to yourself. It must be a sign of my approaching old-age related crankiness, but I despise coming home from a club or bar, and reeking of stale smoke. All the dire pronouncements of bar and restaurant owners aside, I think once the initial shock dissipates, nobody will go out of business because smoking is restricted. Banning opium didn't close brothels, nor will banning tobacco shutter every eating/drinking establishment.

    Chicago Tribune: Alderman Act to Ban Smoking :
    Buoyed by successes in other cities, anti-tobacco aldermen on Wednesday introduced a sweeping new measure that would ban smoking inside most public places in Chicago, from bars to bingo halls and limos to train platforms.

    The Chicago proposal, which would be among the most stringent anywhere in the country, was greeted by immediate opposition from the hospitality industry and a wait-and-see attitude from Mayor Richard Daley.

    “It is about time we passed a measure that will stop second-hand smoke from killing people,” said Ald. Ed Smith (28th), chairman of the City Council's Health Committee and lead sponsor of the ordinance.

    The only exemptions spelled out in the measure are private homes, hotels and motels and retail tobacco stores, providing customers don't blow smoke too far.

    .. Putting new political pressure on Daley and the City Council for passage of the new proposal is the Coalition for a Smoke-Free Chicago, an amalgam of 242 organizations, institutions, businesses, churches and schools.

    The effort is being spearheaded by the cancer society, which thinks targeting second-hand smoke is a key to reducing lung cancer, Grisko said. The group has committed $1.5 million to the effort.
    But “that doesn't mean I am for it or against it,” Daley said. “Let's have a hearing and look at it.”

    Restaurant owners in California said their business has not been affected by a 1995 statewide ban on smoking in enclosed workplaces, including restaurants and bars.

    “In the first three months, it cut business down. But after a year, it really made no difference,” said Monique Ianos, the marketing director of the Pig 'n Whistle restaurant on Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, Calif. “And it's nice to go home and not smell like a cigarette.”

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    Congressman Hayes, R Nutjob, has information that nobody else who isn't insane or a liar has, and refuses to share it. Hayes claims, with a straight face, that Saddam Hussein was involved in the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001. Hayes also claims that the evidence is readily available, if only one looked in “the right place”, which is apparently some super secret hiding place only accessible to upper-level GOPers. Uhh huhhhh. Congressman Hayes, could you please release this information to the public so we could examine it ourselves? I didn't think so.

    GOP congressman: Saddam had a hand in 9/11:
    In an interview with CNN, Republican Rep. Robin Hayes says that anyone who hasn't seen evidence of Saddam's involvement just hasn't looked in the right places.
    ... According to the transcript of the interview, CNN's Carol Costello told Hayes, “But there is no evidence that Saddam Hussein was connected in any way to al-Qaida.” Hayes' response: “Ma'am, I'm sorry, but you're mistaken. There's evidence everywhere. We get access to it. Unfortunately others don't. But the evidence is very clear.” Costello asked, “What evidence is there?” Hayes responded: “The connection between individuals who were connected to Saddam Hussein, folks who worked for him, we've seen it time and time again.”

    Costello narrowed her question: “Well, are you saying that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11?” Hayes' answer: “I'm saying that Saddam Hussein -- and I think you're losing track of what we're trying to talk about here -- Saddam Hussein and people like him were very much involved in 9/11.”

    When Costello said that there is “no evidence” to support the claim that Hussein was involved in 9/11, Hayes shot back: “Well, I'm sorry, you haven't looked in the right places.”


    Chris Matthews is a tool

    In case anyone doesn't know already, Chris Matthews is a tool. That is all.

    After Chris Matthews told interviewee...:
    After Chris Matthews told interviewee Bill Moyers that "I never see a really good articulate labor leader on television," FAIR found "only a handful of appearances by union representatives" on "Hardball" during the last 15 months.
    - Cursor.org


    Department of Headlines we Love

    I don't even really remember Dr. Evil's scheme, but maybe you do:

    WSJ: U.K. Fines Citigroup for 'Dr. Evil' Strategy:
    Citigroup Inc. agreed to pay a £4 million ($7.3 million) fine and disgorge almost £10 million in profit in a $25 million settlement with the U.K.'s markets watchdog over the bank's “Dr. Evil” trading strategy that roiled European government-bond markets in August.

    The big New York-based bank on Aug. 2, 2004, bought government-bond futures before selling €12.4 billion ($15.07 billion) of euro-zone government bonds on a range of electronic-trading platforms. Citigroup then bought back €3.77 billion of bonds about 30 minutes later to net about $17.5 million in profit.

    Traders at the bank planned the trades, which they dubbed Dr. Evil after a character in the Austin Powers spy-spoof movies, after being encouraged by the bank “to increase profits through increased proprietary trading and the development of new trading strategies,” according to the U.K. regulator, the Financial Services Authority.

    The agency added that the trades “caused a temporary disruption” on bond-trading platforms and “a sharp drop in bond prices.” Citigroup Chief Executive Charles Prince later called the trades “knuckle-headed.”

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    Photoshop CS2

    First impressions of Photoshop CS2/Creative Suite CS2, without actually even pretending to be professional about it.

    • stupid naming convention. I understood Photoshop 7, but CS2 is generic and fluffy. I notice the 'about screen' still calls it Photoshop 9.
    • Don't really care for the icon either. What was wrong with the eyeball motif?

    Photoshop Cs2 Screenshot-1

    • the Bridge program is fairly sluggish, but this could just be because it has to create thumbnails of every image
    • Seems slower, but then upgrading usually means new features, which means more processor cycles
    • Unexpectedly, didn't have to reinstall my scanner drivers, so that saved me some time.
    • Several new options for metadata and copyright info. Quickly hacked an action to do this mundane task for me.
    • Really like the Spot healing brush tool. Simple to use, and fairly effective, in my brief usage.
    • Also, like the ability to move the view (using spacebar shortcut), even in the full screen mode.
    • Smart sharpen seems like a good idea, jury still out if it works better than unsharp mask.
    • Red eye reduction hasn't been used yet, but could come in handy.
    • Blur options expanded. Didn't use these often previously
    • Photo filters are very cool/warm. Not sure if these are new to CS2, but Photoshop 7 certainly didn't have them. I'll probably use these a lot, especially since I haven't gotten around to purchasing any for my camera.

    That's all at the moment, after using the software for about 4 hours. Haven't even launched InDesign or Illustrator yet.


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    Change screencapture mode

    In a follow up to this post, Adam Engst passes along instructions in the current TidBits on changing the default screencapture settings...

    How to Change Screen Capture Formats** -- Last week, when talking about the new version of Snapz Pro X in TidBITS, I mentioned that Tiger changes the default file format used for screen captures taken with Command-Shift-3/4 from PDF to PNG. Thanks to Paul Schreiber for alerting me to the fact that you can change that default format back to PDF or to another format, presumably as long as it's one supported by QuickTime, such as JPG ...Follow the steps below to
    make Tiger save screenshots as PDF.

    1. Open Terminal.

    2. Copy the “defaults write” line below, paste it into the
    Terminal window, and press Return.

    defaults write com.apple.screencapture type pdf

    3. Log out or restart your Mac to make it pick up the new setting.

    If you wish to reset the file format back to PNG, just repeat
    the steps, replacing “pdf” in the “defaults write” line with

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    Umm, no


    but thanks...

    Funny spam received today:


    Dear Sir/Madam,

    I represent a small software company located in Russia. We have around 5 programmers working with clients all over the world. When we started working, we presented ourselves as an american company in order to receive an equally american salary. Since we are not US citizens, we receive double as less earnings. For the equal work, an American programmer would receive double as much. For example, if we say we are Russian, we get paid USD1,000. If we say we are American, we get paid USD2,000.

    We would like to offer you a 8% of our wages, if you can help us!

    If you would like help us and learn more about the job, just email us at:
    It doesn't matter what country you come from. The job we provide is 100% legal to your country and we do not need you to involve your own money to this project.

    Diane Novikoff

    Project Manager,

    and it is only twice the salary? Seems a little 'off'.....



    Alleys are life, embodied

    Maybe because as a kid in Toronto, I frequently snuck out via the back alley, after climbing out the basement window (don't ask: I probably didn't even have to go through such shenanigans, but I thought it was fun), or for other pyscho-sexual reasons I remain blissfully unaware of, I think alleys are evocative. New York doesn't even have any (which is why garbage strikes are such a big deal there), but Chicago has plenty of intriguing alleys.

    AlleyAlley - click for larger version

    This particular one is somewhere in the West Loop, probably on Randolph St., but maybe on Washington.

    As a kid, my alley was between Baldwin and D'arcy Streets. (Google map thereof). There was also the proximity to Chinatown, which added a certain 'character' of some ineffable dimension

    I should probably clean up my run-on sentences, but maybe later....

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    High Court Rules Against Grokster

    Ru-oh. So much for the betamax precedent.

    High Court Rules Against Grokster:

    The Supreme Court ruled unanimously today that Grokster can be sued if consumers use its file-sharing software to illegally swap songs and movies while also deciding in favor of cable companies seeking to deny rivals access to broadband lines.

    The two rulings will help determine not just how consumers will access high-speed Internet from their homes in the future, but how they'll be able to share information. While the Grokster decision reopens the battle between technology and entertainment companies over who is liable for illegal file-sharing, the Brand X internet decision helps set the rules under which the Federal Communications Commission will decide how companies will compete to offer broadband Internet services.

    ..The Ninth Circuit drew on a 1984 Supreme Court decision involving Betamax, a video recorder sold by Sony Corp. In that case, the justices ruled that Sony couldn't be held liable for copyright infringement by Betamax customers, because Betamax had legal uses as well as illegal ones.
    The entertainment companies argued that the Betamax rule should be revisited in an age when a movie file can be zapped around the world in a few minutes over a high-speed Internet connection—a technology that wasn't conceived of back then. They said it was unfair to back services whose primary uses are illegal, although they said they weren't against the technology itself.

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    Adobe Photoshop CS2

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    Still haven't gotten a working version of Photoshop (blame me, DHL and me again, in that order), but I expect to have my copy delivered tomorrow (FedEx, thank you very much). Until then, I'll just read reviews of new features.....

    Macworld: Review: Adobe Photoshop CS2:
    Speaking of raw image files, Photoshop CS2 includes Camera Raw 3, a major update to the software that most photographers use to prepare and optimize such images. Camera Raw 3 still works as a plug-in—a design approach that enables Adobe to release frequent updates that support new cameras. One update has already appeared; at press time, the current version was 3.1.

    Camera Raw 3 features several improvements, including new tools for straightening and cropping images. A new Curve tab lets you finely adjust image contrast by positioning control points (pictured right). It works much like the Curves dialog box in Photoshop, and because raw images contain a great deal of highlight data, the Curve feature is particularly useful for bringing out highlight detail that might otherwise get discarded during the conversion process.

    This sounds interesting:

    No camera can match the human eye’s ability to take in a scene containing a wide range of dark and bright areas. Photoshop users employ several techniques to deal with this reality, ranging from tweaking shadow and highlight details to processing a raw file using multiple tonality settings, and then combining the resulting files.

    Photoshop CS2 adds another option: the HDR Merge command. HDR is short for high dynamic range. HDR photography involves using a tripod-mounted camera to shoot several photos of a scene, each at a different exposure. Run those shots through HDR Merge, and Photoshop blends them to attempt to capture the full tonal range of the original scene. The resulting file is a 32-bit image that you can convert to an 8- or 16-bit image for printing and displaying.

    During that conversion process, you have a few options for shoehorning the broad dynamic range of a 32-bit image into the narrower range of an 8- or 16-bit image. But it’s a tricky process, and it’s easy to end up with unnatural-looking photos.

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    Stumbled on a cool store called the Urban Gardener, looking for outside pots. While we waited for our co-conspirator, who is also on the Condo board, we sat on the Urban Gardener's patio furniture, and soaked up the ambiance.
    click for larger version

    Trane is either homage to the mighty John Coltrane, or just a tagger who doesn't want to spell train correctly.

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    Adriaan made me do it

    Adriaan made me do it

    Take the MIT Weblog Survey

    even though I didn't finish the last page (too much clicking, they needed to use iPerceptions instead).


    XCode installation

    note to self, after installing XCode 2.1

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    Popovich vs. Liz Robbins

    Paraphrase from the press conference.

    LR: I'm going to try to ask this question for the third time, you have 3 titles in 7 years.... GP: That's so boring, Liz! Nobody cares. Lets talk about Iraq, or something that matters, but that doesn't matter... Its your deal, I'm supposed to sit here and answer....I apologize.

    LR: It's ok, It's part of the 'game'

    GP: Did some good things, made some mistakes.
    My eyes are still burning from the champagne in the locker room. We pay these guys a lot of money, the organization could buy some better champagne,


    River walk, Chicago Style

    In honor of the San Antonio Spurs victory, a shot of the Chicago River Walk...
    River Walk

    Looks like funding might be forthcoming, per this article.

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    I've wondered how exactly the movie, the Artistocrats, was going to be marketed. Apparently, very gingerly. If, after reading this piece in today's NYTs, you are curious about the hub-bub, I wrote up a little about the Aristocrats, here.

    A Joke Too Blue to Repeat, and the Movie That Dares to Tell It, Repeatedly:
    The documentary “The Aristocrats” has tons of top comics. But how do you sell a movie about the dirtiest joke ever told?
    ... “There is no violence or hostility of any kind” in “The Aristocrats,” explained Penn Jillette, an executive producer of the film, who is better known as half of the magic act Penn and Teller. “We want to say: 'We have 150 really funny human beings in the back of a room making each other laugh, but they're going to be swearing, and if you don't want to hear swearing, you better not come in.' ” Mr. Jillette; the comedian Paul Provenza, who directed; and the distributor, Think Film, have decided to release “The Aristocrats” at the end of July without any rating, a decision that will probably make the film even more difficult to sell, since some moviegoers may be wary of an unrated film.

    But they preferred that option to releasing “The Aristocrats” with an NC-17 rating, which is what the producers figure it would get if submitted to the ratings board - a voluntary step for distributors like Think that are not attached to one of the seven major studios. NC-17 ratings are almost always reserved for films with explicit sexual images. Yet “The Aristocrats” features nothing more than talking heads.

    Still, the “funny human beings” in the film - famous comedians from Robin Williams to Chris Rock to Phyllis Diller to Jon Stewart - are not merely swearing, as Mr. Jillette said. They're telling their versions of a joke that involves every imaginable form of sexual perversion in graphic detail, including but not limited to incest, scatology, bestiality and sadism. Rabelais would blush.
    So what's the joke? Basically, it's this: a guy walks into a talent agent's office and says he has a terrific family act. The act, the guy explains, involves a husband who comes out onstage with his wife and two kids.

    What follows is the part that can't be told in this publication, or most others, but it's the point at which each comedian in the film cuts loose in a can-you-top-this exercise in pornographic oratory. Cut to the kicker where the talent agent asks, What's the name of the act? The answer comes: the Aristocrats.

    The point of the joke, and the film, may be freedom of expression, or self-censorship, or what happens among professional comedians behind closed doors. But for practical purposes, the joke is so absurdly obscene that the viewer is shocked into hilarity, or deep offense. Or possibly both. The conundrum for those marketing the film is encapsulated in its tagline: “No nudity. No violence. Unspeakable obscenity.”

    “We're not selling sex, we're selling comedy,” Mark Urman, head of theatrical distribution for Think Film, said of the decision to release the film unrated. “To give it the same rating as films that have completely disrobed bodies writhing and throbbing is misleading and could turn off a lot of people who have no problem with language, who hear it and use it all the time.”

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    Intelligent Design

    Ah yes, intelligent Design, whales, and the 'Noah's Ark' problem. Where exactly did they get stored? Maybe they were towed along behind with a bungie cord....

    Intelligent Design


    Winn-Dixie Will Close 326 Stores

    Business briefs/leads:

    WSJ: Winn-Dixie Will Close 326 Stores:

    Supermarket giant Winn-Dixie announced Tuesday it will cease operations in four Southern states, close 326 of its 913 stores and cut 22,000 jobs under its proposed bankruptcy reorganization plan.
    The Jacksonville, Fla., company said it will end operations in Tennessee, Virginia and the Carolinas, and trim operations in its five remaining states, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. The cuts amount to 35% of its stores and 28% of its current work force of 78,000.

    Peter Lynch, president and CEO of Winn-Dixie, has said for months that the reorganized company must become smaller. “We regret the impact these tough decisions will have on many of our associates, customers and local communities. We do not take these decisions lightly and would not be proceeding if these steps were not essential to restore Winn-Dixie's financial health,” he said in a statement.

    The company said it will try to find buyers for the closing stores and ask the new owners to retain as many employees as possible.

    youch. That always works well...


    I love this quote, since when does more lawyers mean less controversy?

    “We're going to keep our word,” Peterson said. “Residents are going to move out, but we're going to make sure they move back. In order to rehabilitate the community, you have to move people out.”

    Kelvin Cannon, president of the local tenants' advisory council at Cabrini, said his initial concerns about Cabrini residents being run out of the area have so far been eased.

    “There are too many lawyers involved for this to go wrong,” he said.

    Beautiful Autumn Day in Cabrini

    If one believes that the earth has a memory, Cabrini-Green might not be the best place to purchase a $400,000 condominium. The ghosts might be a little resentful. We drove through that area a few months ago, and some woman was attempting to take photographs until a rock-throwing youth drove her away. So, all isn't peaches and clotted cream, yet.

    Chicago Tribune news : Business

    Residents of the revamped Cabrini-Green public housing complex will share in millions of dollars expected to come from a 718-unit mixed-income development planned for the site, officials said Monday. As part of a court settlement, tenants' organizations will have control over a third of the proceeds to use for education and social services. The development, to be called ParkSide of Old Town, will break ground early next year on Cabrini-Green land that is governed by a federal consent decree between residents and the Chicago Housing Authority.

    Residents of the revamped Cabrini-Green public housing complex will share in millions of dollars expected to come from a 718-unit mixed-income development planned for the site, officials said Monday.

    As part of a court settlement, tenants' organizations will have control over a third of the proceeds to use for education and social services.

    The development, to be called ParkSide of Old Town, will break ground early next year on Cabrini-Green land that is governed by a federal consent decree between residents and the Chicago Housing Authority.

    At a ceremony Monday, officials unveiled a model of the development, which the CHA board is expected to approve Tuesday.

    Built between Orleans and Larrabee Streets on the east and west and Division and Oak Streets on the north and south, the development will be a mixture of public housing, private apartments affordable for working-class families and homes sold at market rates in the area bordering the Gold Coast.
    In the agency's $1.6 billion Plan for Transformation, more than 4,600 families have been moved from their public housing units since the late 1990s and into government-subsidized private apartments.

    Some activists have predicted that many families would be unable to move back to the newly built communities, a forecast more painful in the Cabrini neighborhood, which has a new shopping center and several new town home developments within walking distance of Gold Coast restaurants and bars.

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    Business briefs/leads:

    Gruner & Jahr Said to Sell 2 Business Magazines:

    Gruner & Jahr agreed to sell its two American business magazines, Inc. and Fast Company, for about $35 million.

    Gruner & Jahr bought both magazines five years ago for $550 million - Inc. from Bernard Goldhirsch for $200 million and Fast Company from Mortimer Zuckerman for $350 million.

    The deal follows last month's sale of Gruner & Jahr's women's magazines - Family Circle, Parents, Child and Fitness - to the Meredith Corporation for $350 million. With the sales, the company, troubled by a two-year-old circulation scandal, is effectively rid of its American magazines, although it retains ownership of a magazine printing company.
    As part of last month's deal, if Gruner & Jahr had not been able to sell Inc. and Fast Company by June 30, the two titles would have gone to Meredith.

    Initially, about 20 buyers expressed interest in Inc. and Fast Company. The list was eventually narrowed to six: Mr. Mansueto, founder of Morningstar, the investment research firm; The Economist; Time Inc.; American City Business Journal, owned by the Newhouse family and based in Charlotte, N.C.; Alta Communications, a venture capital firm in Boston; and Abry Partners, an equity firm also based in Boston and representing managers from Gruner & Jahr.

    As of last night, only Mr. Mansueto and The Economist were still in the hunt. The final decision, said the person close to the sale, hinged on Mr. Mansueto's desire to keep the magazines afloat, saving about 100 jobs.

    Not the best investment for G+J, was it?

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    Um no, we don't know exactly how to parse the relationship between subject, verb and title, but that's a subject for later on, after much more drinking and carousing.

    skippy the bush kangaroo:

    addendum: here's the rest of the joke we weren't able to get out on the radio:a guy walks into a room, catches his son masturbating, the guy says, “son, don't do that, you'll go blind,” the kid says “dad, i'm over here!”

    good night, and try the veal!

    dear colleague:

    skippy the bush kangaroo will be turning three years old in about a month!

    more exciting (if you don't actually have a life), is the fact that we are about 82,000 hits short of a million visitors.

    wouldn't it be magical if we got our millionth visitor on our 3rd blogiversary?

    to facilitate that next-to-impossibly-timed event, we are shamelessly trolling for blogwhored hits.


    skippy recently was interviewed on the university of kentucky radio station wrfl. he rambles and rants about everything from the downing street minutes to ayn rand and putting christ back into christianity, with plenty of bark, lark and on the mark snark, plus half a masturbation joke.

    won't you please help skippy reach his life-long dream of a million visitors on his 3rd blogiversary by linking to this post?


    you'll be helping a blogger who, well, ok, we admit it, isn't really in need of help. but skippy will owe you one!


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    Where's Deep Throat

    Add this sordid tale to the ever-lengthening novella, which recounts various high crimes and misdemeanors that could be investigated during Bush's upcoming impeachment hearings.

    “High” in the legal parlance of the 18th century means “against the State”. A high crime is one which seeks the overthrow of the country, which gives aid or comfort to its enemies, or which injures the country to the profit of an individual or group. In democracies and similar societies it also includes crimes which attempt to alter the outcome of elections.

    Hmmm, injures the country to the profit of a group. The burden of proof on that shouldn't be too difficult to meet, right?

    Salon: Big Tobacco watchdogs? Smoke 'em out:

    It's been almost two weeks since senior Justice Department officials -- one of them with close personal ties to President Bush -- forced their own attorneys to shave $120 billion off the amount sought in the department's case against the tobacco industry, and evidence that top officials plotted to undermine the department's case against Big Tobacco continues to mount. A government witness revealed this weekend that Associate Attorney General Robert McCallum threatened to have him removed from the witness list unless he softened his testimony against the tobacco companies. The witness, Harvard University business professor Max H. Bazerman, planned to recommend that the court appoint a monitor to determine whether certain senior tobacco industry management should be removed. McCallum, a former R.J. Reynolds attorney and a buddy of President Bush's from their days at Yale, apparently didn't like the notion of punishing specific tobacco execs, and relayed a “strong request” that Bazerman change his testimony to say that appointing such a monitor would be legally inappropriate under certain circumstances.

    Bazerman said he came forward because he was concerned that the career trial attorneys on the case would be blamed for the softening of the government's case against the industry. But, says Bazerman, the fault lies with Bush cronies at the Justice Department. “I want the government to behave appropriately,” he said, according to the Post. “I can't think of an honest, plausible reason other than political interference for what they're doing.”

    More from the WaPo, including this:

    Today, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler, who is set to decide whether the industry engaged in a conspiracy and whether to impose penalties upon the companies, is to meet in a closed-door session with government and tobacco lawyers.
    Sources close to the case say that they expect Kessler will question lawyers about the government's last-minute reversal of its recommended penalties. Numerous members of Congress have called for an investigation of political interference into the case, and on Friday, four senators demanded that McCallum be removed from the case or future settlement talks. The Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility has begun investigating the allegations.


    Big Shot Rob

    | 1 Comment

    Horry Aka Big Shot Rob

    Robert Horry knows the ball is going in.....

    And ironically, I had just read this 'smear' of Horry before the game by Felix Gillette. Hmmm. I wonder if Gillette still stands by his description of Horry as 'over-rated'? Strangely enough, there are five players on the floor for each team, and each player has their own role to play. Horry's role is to shoot those late game three pointers, or maybe grab an offensive board or two.

    update, via the always essential TrueHoop, we see what happened right after the Big Shot....
    , Madonna, Sean Penn & Me


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    Al Michaels and the 2005 NBA Finals

    The next insightful basketball comment by Al Michaels may well be his first. Can we start a petition to send him back broadcasting NFL games exclusively so I can ignore his feeble NBA commentary? Michaels is just not very knowledgeable about the NBA, as far as I can tell. I realize Mike Breen doesn't have the high profile or pedigree of Al Michaels, but Breen at least knows what the hell he's talking about. Thank all deities ABC didn't resurrect Brent Mussberger, I might have had to resort to large amounts of beer to even watch the 2005 Finals. Oh wait, I'm already drinking my weight in Bass Ale. Never mind.

    And, while I'm on the topic, I'm ecstatic that I nearly always watch the games with a TiVo on a slight time-shift. Thus, whenever Stuart Scott makes an appearance, I can mercifully fast-forward a few seconds, and avoid his 'pronouncements' as if they never happened.

    As I've written before, I'd pay extra money to get a live mike feed of an NBA game without any announcers sullying my enjoyment. I'd pay even more for the same during the playoffs. Isn't satellite TV all about 'choice'?


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    Believe this, sucka BR

    Bertrand Russell is the 'quote of the month' poster child.

    Bertrand Russell:

    “I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong.”

    “The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell” (Bertrand Russell)

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    audioscrobbler stats

    Week of June 19. Never you mind....


    It's Getting Cheaper to Tap the Sun

    We are seriously considering using a solar panel for our upcoming roof project.

    It's Getting Cheaper to Tap the Sun:
    Providing homes with electricity and heat from the sun is getting more buzz than it has in decades.


    In news that will surprise nobody, and their committe, a Bush appointee lied ....

    Official Had Aide Send Data to White House:

    E-mail messages show that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's chairman consulted a White House official shortly before she joined the corporation.

    E-mail messages obtained by investigators at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting show that its chairman, Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, extensively consulted a White House official shortly before she joined the corporation about creating an ombudsman's office to monitor the balance and objectivity of public television and radio programs.
    Mr. Tomlinson said in an interview three months ago that he did not think he had instructed a subordinate to send material on the ombudsman project to Mary C. Andrews at her White House office in her final days as director of global communications, a political appointment.

    But the e-mail messages show that a month before the interview, he directed Kathleen Cox, then president of the corporation, to send material to Ms. Andrews at her White House e-mail address. They show that Ms. Andrews worked on a variety of ombudsman issues before joining the corporation, while still on the White House payroll. And they show that the White House instructed the corporation on Ms. Andrews's job title in her new post.

    A senior corporation executive who is concerned about its direction under Mr. Tomlinson provided copies of the e-mail messages to The New York Times. Fearing retribution, the executive insisted on anonymity as a condition for providing the copies.
    The e-mail messages are part of the evidence being collected in a broad inquiry by the inspector general of the corporation into whether Mr. Tomlinson violated any rules that require that the corporation act as a buffer between politics and programming.
    Investigators are examining the role played by the White House in the creation of the ombudsman's office at the corporation, an office Mr. Tomlinson said he advanced as part of a broader effort to ensure balance and objectivity in programming. Executives in public television and radio have said his actions threatened their editorial independence.

    Under investigation are $14,170 in contracts signed by Mr. Tomlinson with an Indiana man who monitored the political leanings of the guests on “Now” when Bill Moyers was its host. And the investigators are looking at $15,000 in payments to two Republican lobbyists last year at the direction of Mr. Tomlinson and his Republican predecessor, who remains a board member.

    The White House is petrified of Bill Moyers apparently, and the newsmagazine he founded, Now.


    Oh, I like to play too. Songs, with ratings, after the jump. From my playlist “All”.

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    Pope Mouse

    Pope Mouse, originally uploaded by swanksalot.

    Tampopo (the Pope) has a favorite toy: a felt mouse attached to a fishing pole that hangs from upstairs. She pounces on it, drags it laboriously with her jaws, and is never so proud as when she manages to drag it all the way to our bedroom (about 50 yards or so).

    Again, when even a 'conservative' paper like the WSJ front-pages a story involving science (like evolution), such as this one discussing Global Warming, one would think the Rethuglican mouth-breathers would be rendered (momentarily) speechless. Apparently not.

    WSJ.com - The Ukukus Wonder Why a Sacred Glacier Melts in Peru's Andes:
    In the past these men, called ukukus after the word for bear in the local Quechua language, cut and hauled down large blocks of ice to share with family, friends and livestock as part of an annual Catholic pilgrimage known as El Señor de Qoyllur Rit'i that usually draws about 40,000 worshipers to a dizzying 16,000 feet above sea level.

    These days, cutting ice is all but taboo. “We used to take ice, but now it's prohibited,” said Darwin Apaza Año, a broad-faced ukuku from the province of Anta.

    The bear-men say their sacred glacier is disappearing. Over a period of two decades, its edge has drawn back 600 feet along the boulder-strewn slope leading to the church in the valley below, according to people here. Even compared with last year, the glacier is noticeably smaller.

    That's a worrisome portent for locals who still worship snowcapped mountains as gods, or apus. It's out of concern for the apu living here, the bear-men say, that they have decided not to take any more blocks of ice.

    Although few on this remote mountaintop are aware of it, the demise of this Andean ice-cutting ritual is likely the result of global warming. The United Nations says rising temperatures are causing glaciers to recede throughout the world, with some of the most pronounced effects on relatively rare patches of ice in countries like Peru that lie within the tropics.
    A study by the Peruvian government in 1997 found that the country's glaciers had shrunk by more than 20% over 30 years. The National Commission on Climate Change in Lima now predicts that Peru could lose all its glaciers below 18,000 feet in elevation in the next 10 years. Within 40 years, they may all be gone.


    10 Big Myths about copyright explained

    For what it's worth, I have an 'action' in Photoshop that adds copyright information as copyright b12 Partners, LLC, and the copyright status as “Copyrighted Work” to every photo I run it on (usually before uploading to my site or to Flickr). Who knows if this has ever stopped anyone from using my photos (periodically I glance at my site traffic logs, and there are a lot of hits from Google Images), but there it is. Apparently, everything is explicitly copyrighted unless otherwise marked. Maybe I'll add a year though.

    10 Big Myths about copyright explained:
    1. “If it doesn't have a copyright notice, it's not

    This was true in the past, but today almost all major nations follow the Berne copyright convention. For example, in the USA, almost everything created privately and originally after April 1, 1989 is copyrighted and protected whether it has a notice or not. The default you should assume for other people's works is that they are copyrighted and may not be copied unless you know otherwise. There are some old works that lost protection without notice, but frankly you should not risk it unless you know for sure.
    It is true that a notice strengthens the protection, by warning people, and by allowing one to get more and different damages, but it is not necessary. If it looks copyrighted, you should assume it is. This applies to pictures, too. You may not scan pictures from magazines and post them to the net, and if you come upon something unknown, you shouldn't post that either.
    The correct form for a notice is:

    “Copyright [dates] by [author/owner]”
    You can use C in a circle © instead of “Copyright” but “(C)” has never been given legal force. The phrase “All Rights Reserved” used to be required in some nations but is now not legally needed most places. In some countries it may help preserve some of the “moral rights.”

    All of our business communication also has this message appended to the bottom:

    The information contained herein is strictly proprietary and confidential and is intended solely for your exclusive use.

    By accepting these materials, the recipient agrees to hold and treat the material contained herein in the strictest of confidence. Any dissemination, distribution, disclosure, copying or the taking of any action in reliance on the contents of the information contained herein is prohibited without the prior written consent of [our company]

    My site (and my Flickr photos) are licensed under Creative Commons, because I'm not really concerned about theft, I just want to know what gets used and why. A while ago, a videographer asked if he could use some of my Haymarket photos for a documentary he was working on. I said sure, just give me a copy of the finished work in some form. He agreed.

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    Sony Hates the iPod

    MercuryNews.com | 06/15/2005 | Music industry eyes `casual piracy':
    Copy protection raises an even bigger problem for the millions of people who own Apple's iPod digital music player and use its iTunes software to organize their music and create custom CDs. Apple has refused to license its FairPlay rights-management software -- even to the labels. That means certain copy-protected CDs won't work with iTunes or the iPod without employing time-consuming work-arounds.

    ``They do not play on iPods simply because Apple has this proprietary approach,'' said Thomas Hesse, Sony BMG's president of global digital business, of Sony BMG's copy-protected CDs. ``We would be willing and able to put'' FairPlay ``on CDs in an instant if Steve Jobs would flick the switch and allow us to do that.''

    Umm, tell that to all the songs in my iTunes library. They don't seem to be in any proprietary format, they are high resolution MP3s, ripped from physical CDs that I bought from some music store. I do have 151 DRM enabled tracks, mostly freebies from Apple, as well as a few that I actually purchased from the iTunes store. Expressed as a percentage of my total tracks (151/33955), or 0.44%, a pretty small number are restricted via the “proprietary approach” claimed by Sony's putz-in-residence, Hesse.

    No, Sony's DRM audio disc thingies (which are not CDs, because they don't meet the spec) are actually the ones in proprietary formats. By the way, 2+2 still does not equal 5, regardless of what the p.i.r. Hesse claims.

    More here

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    You'd think I'd learn by now

    Even after all the talk about how DHL sucks (read some of these comments, jeez), I still allowed Adobe to send me software we finally budgeted for (Creative Suite CS2) via DHL. Needless to say, even though we were here all day yesterday, DHL claims “attempted delivery”. Uh huh. Phantom delivery no doubt. I'm tempted to install a video camera monitor at the front door. Good thing we don't need the software instantly. I would like to install over the weekend, which is only 2 days away. What are the odds?

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    Green Chicago

    Hmmm, maybe this is why there was a guy driving around the West Loop looking for targets to beautify Chicago (such as the gravel patch). Mayor Newsome is right, it is beautiful when everywhere you look in Chicago you see planter boxes filled with flowers and various ornamentals. We want to 'green' our roof as well, and an architect is drawing up plans for a fall construction project.

    CHICAGO / Newsom wants to make S.F. as beautiful as the Windy City / Trees, planters full of flowers make lakefront metropolis green:
    San Francisco may have been the capital of the flower-power movement 40 years ago, but Chicago holds that distinction today.

    Flowers -- and trees, climbing vines, shrubs and native grasses -- are ubiquitous in this lakefront city, particularly in the most vibrant commercial corridors.

    They are found in hanging pots beneath the rusted elevated train tracks, in parking lots and in the median strips along wide boulevards.

    Planter boxes, bursting with living color, dot the sidewalks in front of businesses and homes. Rooftops, including the one atop City Hall, have been turned into gardens.

    Mayor Richard Daley, who is now serving a fifth term, has made the greening of Chicago the centerpiece of his administration.

    And while the architecture critic for the Chicago Tribune once described Daley's initiative as “Martha Stewart-izing'' the city, its success in helping revitalize neighborhoods is hard to ignore. Chicago is shedding its gritty reputation.
    ”It's made a difference on every conceivable level,'' said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who was in Chicago, where he met Tuesday with Daley administration officials and toured the Windy City to find out more about their beautification programs with the intent of replicating them back home. ... At its core, Newsom said, beautifying the streetscape helps build civic pride and a sense of community. If Chicago is an example, there's a ripple effect: less litter, less graffiti, less crime and more reason to visit Chicago or call it home

    ..“This is about quality of life, for the residents and the visitors,'' said Sadhu Johnston, Daley's point man on environmental issues. ”You see the flowers and the trees, and it's just a nicer place to be. There are also economic benefits. If this is a place people want to be, more people will open businesses here, and more people will come here to shop.''

    And then there are the environmental pluses -- street trees take pollutants out of the air, roof gardens insulate buildings, planted medians help capture rain water that otherwise would flow down the storm drains.

    As an incentive to get other builders to use recycled materials and incorporate energy efficiencies in their projects, Chicago is starting a new program in which green-building developments will get expedited review and approval of needed planning and building permits.

    Tip via Aunt Pat

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    Expansion possibilities

    I was watering my 'lower 40' early this morning, before breakfast, and while sipping my first cup of espresso, when a guy in a suit pulled up into Crane's Alley. He started asking me questions about the patch of gravel nearby, and I was evasive and brusque, since usually only nut-jobs and real estate agents talk to me while I'm standing in front of the building, working.

    However, finally, it emerged that the guy was an Assistant to the Mayor [Daley], and wanted to contact the owner of the gravel patch to encourage him to beautify it. D&I have been discussing this for years, so suddenly I got all bubbly with the Assistant to the Mayor (Joseph H) and spewed out several ideas we'd come up with (iron fencing surrounding a little private park, hedges, railroad ties, getting a dump truck full of dirt, fountains, even a sculpture garden.).

    He left me his number, and we've set up a conference call with the owner of the gravel patch.

    Very serendipitous that I happened to be outside just as he drove by....

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    Caldwell Lily Pond

    Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

    Flickr user ChicagoEye, who takes excellent photos by the way, writes:

    I've been meaning to get in here for years to photograph. This, gang, is the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pond, designed by and named for the Chicago Prairie School landscape architect. Caldwell was a genius and was also responsible for Promintory Point, Montrose Point and, I think, Riis Park on the Northwest Side. Little known fact: Caldwell did the garden atop the podium of Lake Point Tower which is a fantastic piece of work

    More details on the pond at the Chicago Landmarks page

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    Screenshot news

    as a parenthetical aside in the current Tidbits ezine, Adam Engst writes:

    (Interestingly, in Tiger Apple changed the file format for screenshots captured with Command-Shift-3/4 from PDF to PNG, perhaps because PNG files can be used in Web pages more easily than PDF files (PNG support is widespread in modern programs). Although everyone I know who's serious about screenshots uses Snapz Pro X, in which you can choose the file format, you can also use Apple's Grab utility to take screenshots in TIFF format, and you can even use File > Grab in Tiger's version of Preview to capture a screenshot directly into Preview, at which point you can use Save As to save it to PDF or another supported format.)

    I instantly launched Preview, and lo and behold, new tools! I'm not 'serious' about screenshots (which means, I suppose, that I would use screenshots in a professional/semi-professional manner), but I did prefer the higher resolution of screenshots in pdf in Panther/Jaguar. Ideally, I would like the choice, based on keyboard command, but I don't really see the justification to purchase Snapz Pro X, even if it is a useful, well-written application.


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    Dylan Gives the People What He Wants

    Dylan is certainly master of his own domain, as it were. When I saw a show recently, about 1/3 of the lyrics were delivered in a gruff, unrecognizable diction. Oh well, at least Dylan still respects his muse.

    Dylan Gives the People What He Wants:
    The longer he stays on the road, the weirder his show gets....
    Mr. Dylan may be in the final phase of his long and iconoclastic life as a star, and for it he has chosen a very long and very iconoclastic tour: 1,700 shows and counting, beginning in 1988. Caught in an artistic crisis then, he decided to defibrillate his career and go back on the road. Accompanied by a small combo, he reintroduced himself to fans, sporting a lean energy and a commitment to exploring his nonpareil song catalog. He shows no signs of slowing down, though he has lately replaced the guitar he has played for more than 45 years with a keyboard, causing speculation that back problems might be responsible for the switch. (Through Mr. Dylan's publicist at Columbia Records, his management said playing keyboards was “just his musical preference” and declined to comment otherwise for this article.) Mr. Dylan has turned his act into one of the weirdest road shows in rock. He rarely speaks to the crowd, and when he does, his remarks are often gnomic throwaways. (“I had a big brass bed, but I sold it!”) He plays some of his best-known songs, but often in contrarian, almost unrecognizable versions, as if to dampen their anthemic qualities. He highlights recent compositions more than most of his 60's coevals, but these, too, are delivered as highly stylized, singsongy chants. He strives to play as many kinds of places as possible, even playing successive nights in different theaters and clubs in large cities.

    In other words, Mr. Dylan seems to have developed an unparalleled commitment to sharing his art, but only on his own very specific terms.

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    Shaq file

    | 1 Comment

    One other item for the Shaq file:

    Paying for much of George Mikan's funeral wasn't O'Neal's only generous gesture this spring. Though he sought no publicity for it, O'Neal shipped 200 pairs of shoes to U.S. troops in Iraq. Shaq receives notes from servicemen there.
    Miami Herald


    P&G Cuts Commitment to TV Ads

    Business briefs/leads.

    P&G Cuts Commitment to TV Ads:
    Procter & Gamble Co., the consumer-goods giant and marketing icon, is sharply cutting how much it commits in advance to buying television commercials next season, according to people familiar with the situation. The move by P&G, the maker of well-known brand items such as Tide, Crest and Pampers, is the latest sign of rapid changes in how companies reach consumers and TV networks and cable channels draw revenue. In recent years, many big companies have expressed doubts about the effectiveness of traditional TV advertising. Digital video recorders such as those made by TiVo Inc., which make it easier for TV viewers to skip commercials, are growing in popularity, while leisure activities like the Internet and videogames are competing for consumers' time. But big-spending P&G, with roots in the medium's earliest days, exerts wide influence on how other companies make their marketing and advertising decisions. In 2004, the Cincinnati-based company was the No. 1 U.S. advertiser, spending roughly $2.5 billion on TV -- more than 80% of its estimated $3 billion ad budget.

    Good, less money in television means more money in 'alternative media' or 'out-of-home' media, which is what we do. Screw TV anyway.


    Press conferences

    I'm enough of a hoops junkie that I'll even watch the post-game and scheduled press conferences in their entireties. Mostly, the reporters are supposed to say their name and organization before speaking, and you can tell which quotes will make it into tomorrow's paper. I have a lot of respect for the coaches and players who have to listen to the same damn questions over and over, every time. Must be so grueling to every night answer deep thoughts, like for example from ESPN's (mumbled name) to Tim Duncan, “How would you describe your on-court personality?”

    Duncan sort of raised his eyebrows, shrugged a couple of times, and said something like, “what exactly are you getting at?”, before hemming and hawing something about having an even keel.

    Jesus, if I had to sit on a podium and be civil to the idiots in the press 82 times a year, plus however more times in the playoffs, I would be a lot like Rasheed Wallace I believe.

    San Antonio Express-News:

    Wallace never actually talked to the media Saturday, preferring to use the allotted question-and-answer time on his portable video-game system. Several camera crews and a couple of dozen reporters were there to document his PlayStation exploits, but Wallace did not acknowledge their presence.

    After about 20 minutes, Wallace got up and walked back to the locker room. Not even a member of the league's media-relations staff could convince him to answer a few questions.

    Larry Brown at least had some reminiscing to fill the time.

    Coach Larry Brown had a good laugh remembering the time the [San Antonio Spurs] Baseline Bums dumped guacamole on his head during a visit to HemisFair Arena as coach of Denver Nuggets in the ABA. Brown said the Bums targeted him after he said the only thing he liked about San Antonio was the guacamole.

    “They played that sound bite for about eight days,” Brown said. “There was a lot more to it because their coach (Bob Bass) said something about me.”

    The Bums, however, didn't cut Brown any slack.

    “They had that 10-cent beer night and people were hitting me with avocados and throwing dip on me,” Brown said. “I remember walking through the crowd, people were punching me. In the ABA, that was typical.

    Brown also frequently pretends not to hear the question, unless he really is deaf. Don't know, but it looks like he is just stalling, then rambles on about some related topic.

    Coach Mike D'Antoni (aka Arsene Lupin aka Coach Porn-stache), of the Phoenix Suns, was the best I heard this season to avoid constantly speaking in platitudes.

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    itunes tracks

    note to self:
    Audioscrobbler :


    Hybrid car

    DLA, Inc. bought a new company car, the Lexus RX 400h (h standing for hybrid). For around-town driving, of which we do a lot of, the car uses hardly any gasoline, relying instead on battery power. The battery is charged by movement of the car, or by the gasoline motor, which kicks in when accelerating. Haven't put much driving into it yet, but the thing is so incredibly quiet at stoplights, in heavy traffic, even on the highway if you coast, that you can't tell it is really on.


    Photos later, and whatever other observations worth remembering.

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    Cuban has a pretty good idea

    Mark Cuban has a pretty good idea regarding communications between the league officials and the television broadcasters. If a viewer isn't careful, the pronouncements of the broadcasters can be given too much merit, regardless if they are accurate or not. Sometimes, they aren't. But it is just human nature to (usually) defer to experts, and television announcers are professionals. So why not have an official who could correct the broadcasters if they make an egregious mistake?

    NBA Refs and the playoffs - Blog Maverick - www.blogmaverick.com _:
    1. The circle only applies to a 2ndary defender. If Ben Wallace runs over the guy who is actively guarding him, it doesnt matter if its at midcourt or right under the basket, its a charge. On the other hand if Ben gets by his defender, and Bowen slides over to try to take a charge, and he is in the circle, it doesnt matter if he is set and has been waiting there for 10 minutes. Its a block.
    2. UNLESS, and this is a very important exception that NO ANNOUNCER or media person, and most coaches and players dont seem to understand:
    From NBA.Com - EXCEPTION: Any player may be legally positioned within the “restricted area” if the offensive player receives the ball within the Lower Defensive Box.
    Which means if a player starts his drive near the baseline, and runs over a guy in the restricted area, whether its the primary or 2ndary defender, its a charge. The player can point to the floor all he wants, but its a charge.
    Them is the rules.

    read more here

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    Technorati is one of the more useful web sites for tracking certain kinds of information. There's some exciting new changes going on, per dSifry, but apparently not every bug is worked out on the beta, yet.

    Fatal error: Cannot redeclare fixupurl() (previously declared in /usr/local/technorati/www/RC_2005_06_09f/php/basicincludes.php:8) in /usr/local/technorati/www/RC_2005_06_09f/php/basicincludes.php on line 8

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    IPA stands for what-chit

    Note to self: don't open large bottles of IPA style beer (Inda Pale Ale) anywhere near computers, keyboards, track-balls, Tiger installation DVDs, etc., unless you are absolutely sure that 3/4 of a pint isn't going to spew out with great force. Trust me on this.


    Also, keep carpets, bikes, magazines, books, envelopes away as well, as once the liquid hits the floor, everything is fair game. And, apparently, I cannot drink foam fast enough. I'd practice, but it isn't really very pleasant.

    What I drank of it was tasty.....

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    Stick it to your own man, man


    I was all ready to 'pimp' a new, intriguing bakery called HannahsBretzel

    Florian Pfahler grew up in Stuttgart, Germany, eating “bretzels” (the German spelling for pretzel). “In Germany, it’s more of a bread item,” says Pfahler. “Not a fast-food item.” In May, he began plying the Loop with them at Hannah’s Bretzel (180 W. Washington St.; 312-621-1111, which also offers 20 brands of chocolate and tons of organic dishes. “The success of Whole Foods convinced me that there should be an organic takeout food business,” he says, “so that’s what I’m doing.” - Chicago Magazine

    until I walked out of my door to water my 'lower 40' and discovered this same goddamn bakery's company car (a Mini) was illegally blocking my garage door entrance.

    Hannabretzel's mini

    I don't really care if folks “stick it to the man”, take liberties with large corporations, or governments, or even folk like David Geffen. Go ahead, take as many boxes of staples as you want, eat that slice of restaurant pie, whatever.

    However, my building is not a large corporation, and

    this guy's actions just caused us grief, and increased our chances of getting into an auto accident (can't see oncoming traffic, which is why there's a no-parking sign there).

    So License Plate 790-7282, you suck. I hope you find a hair in your farina (Seinfeld reference, if you forgot).

    ok, in retrospect, my argument actually makes no sense. The driver of the car undoubtedly just wanted to park for free, and didn't care who was inconvenienced. As someone points out in the comments, the driver is just stupid, not out to 'stick it to anybody'. Blogging while pissed should be discouraged.....

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    Mossberg weighs in

    Personally, I'm still ambivalent about the up-coming Apple-Intel alliance. I don't really care what is inside my Mac, as long as it is a Mac. I've never relied on machine language code (other than in that track from Sandinista - but that's a different topic altogether), so what concerns me is the viability of technologies like Open-Firmware (allowing Target mode, booting from a CD, etc), the various number crunching (floating point) and AltiVec/Velocity Engine advantages. Also, what is going to happen with 64 bit innovations? Is Leopard going to have more 64 bit pieces? I really have not followed Intel chip development much, other than during the time we had some Intel stock a few years ago.

    The PowerPC was marketed as more innovative, engineering-wise, is that no longer an accurate statement?

    Again, really, I don't care too much who manufactures the chip, as long as my essential applications work (Adobe, Microsoft Office, Now Contact, ecto, Eudora, etc., all of these are cross-platform anyway.), and I feel like my computer is a Mac and not the still-clunky Windows step-child, XP or Longhorn, or whatever.

    Walt Mossberg - WSJ.com - Personal Technology - What the Apple Plan To Switch to Intel Chips Means for Consumers:
    Even consumers who use Microsoft Windows, which runs on the vast majority of computers, will benefit, because the Mac's impact on the industry is vastly greater than its market share. Apple is the most innovative major computer maker, and the only one largely dedicated to serving consumers instead of large corporate customers. Almost everything it does is later copied by the Windows PC makers, so keeping Apple strong and innovating is good for Windows users, too.
    ...Q: Now that Apple will be using the same processor as Dell, H-P and other competitors, will people be able to run the Mac operating system on these non-Apple machines? Unless some hacker does a masterful job, the answer is no. Apple intends to keep its operating system and hardware tied tightly together. The new Intel-based versions of the Mac's OS X operating system will be designed so that they cannot run on non-Apple hardware, and Apple has no plans to license OS X to other PC makers.

    Will users be able to install and run Microsoft Windows on the new Intel-based Macs?
    Apple's official position is that it won't block the use of Windows on its new machines. Unofficially, however, the company says people won't be able to just buy a copy of Windows XP and install it on an Intel-based Mac. That's because Apple is unlikely to build in all the standard under-the-hood hardware pieces that Windows is designed to mate with. And it won't supply any special software called “drivers” to help Windows use the unique under-the-hood hardware Apple will use.
    However, I expect some third-party company to supply the missing drivers and otherwise make it possible to run Windows on an Intel-based Mac. Microsoft itself might even do this. That would allow Mac users to run Windows programs that lack Mac equivalents at speeds comparable to a Windows computer's.

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    Stamp this, biatch

    PR from Photostamps, still, probably something I'll try once or twice. If you want a postcard with the results, let me know.

    Macworld: News: WWDC: PhotoStamps now available for Mac OS X:
    PhotoStamps, a service that’s been approved by the United States Postal Service (USPS), lets you turn your digital images into valid postage that can be used to send letters, post cards and packages. The standalone application coming to Mac OS X v10.3 or higher integrates with your iPhoto library. It will also let you import .JPG, .GIF, .BMP, .TIF, .PNG, .PCT and .PSD-format images.

    “This simplifies it,” Stamps.com president and CEO, Ken McBride, told MacCentral. “The new application makes it easier for someone who already has their digital photo library in iPhoto to send it to the PhotoStamps.com service.”

    And while the Web service only allows you to choose one of ten different border colors, the Mac client will let you select any color you want using Apple’s color tools. What’s more, Stamps.com plans to incorporate Tiger-specific functionality in a future release that will let you apply Core Image-based special effects to your images, as well.

    “The Macintosh has so much power when it comes to color functionality,” said McBride. “Now when you’re creating borders for your PhotoStamp, you can use any color you can choose on the Mac palette.”
    ...A sheet of 20 37 cent stamps for US$16.99 (volume discounts are available when you order multiple sheets).

    There are several photos in my library which would be good stamps, probably, even though they cost $.87 each.

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    What's Going On (Inside My Head)

    I know it is a little lame to use someone else's words in lieu of typing my own, but more later....

    HUSKER DU LYRICS - What's Going On (Inside My Head):

    “What's Going On (Inside My Head)”

    I was talking
    When I should have been listening
    I didn't hear a word that anyone said
    It might not have been so very important
    'Cause I was concerned about instead

    What's going on
    What's going on
    What's going on inside my head

    Zen Arcade

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    Celebrities Playing Table Tennis

    Reminds me of the so-called golden age of the web, when one spent hours idly clicking around 'just to see', when web templates didn't all the look the same, and when you realized that there was a lot of obscure information that folks collected.

    Celebrities Playing Table Tennis:
    In a moment of sudden clarity, I realized what this world needed was a web page devoted to pictures of celebrities playing table tennis. And here it is!

    Some examples: Bob Marley; the Kinks' Ray Davies, and some other schmoe who I could look up, but am too lazy; Thelonious Sphere Monk; Steve Nash; etc.

    Link via Kottke

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    Excel appending question

    Excel appending question:
    Here's my challenge. I have three excel lists with different data fields (column headings). All lists have one common column (a store number - however with different numbers of rows). Is there a way to merge the two lists into a third list, and combine all the data using the common column (store number)? Ie, append the information so that it reads across.

    Paul Shades gave me three websites to check out, perhaps my long awaited solution is at hand. I can't even count the number of times I've gone through this process. Often, we find some sucker kind soul to do the work for us, but then I don't learn how to do it myself.

    When I find the answer, I'll post it here later.

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    Interesting news. I've looked around in my photos for a shot of the Inland Steel building, but can't seem to find one yet.
    Here's someone else's photo:

    Better known as a designer of buildings than a buyer of them, celebrated architect Frank Gehry has made an unsolicited, top-dollar offer to acquire the landmark Inland Steel Building, one of the city's architectural gems and an icon of skyscraper design.

    “I am a part of a group that is interested in making a bid for the building. We're in due diligence now,” Gehry said in a brief statement, referring to the study period in which real estate investors conduct research before making a deal.
    ...Gehry, who has dabbled in real estate, is part of a small group of investors that includes Chicago real estate executive Harvey Camins. The exact amount of their bid could not be determined, but sources said it was substantially more than $200 a square foot, or roughly $50 million.
    Yet for the famed Los Angeles-based architect, whose projects include the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park and the Guggenheim Museum in Spain, the deal may be more about acquiring a prominent example of Modernist design than about making a secure real estate investment.

    Built in 1957, the stainless steel structure was designed by Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP, which later shaped such massive strongholds as the Sears Tower and the John Hancock Center, structures that are better known to the public. But to architects and engineers the 19-story building at 30 W. Monroe St. is a true trophy.

    According to Chicago's Famous Building, fifth edition,

    The first tall building to go up in the Loop following the Great Depression, Inland Steel is among the crispest local demonstratives of late modernist style and planning. The office floors in the stainless steel-clad and blue-green glass rectangular tower on the west side of the site are free of columns, since vertical circulation and services are confined within attached fully metal-clad tower to the east. This interior openness is reinforced by the placement of the supporting columns outside the exterior wall, which also gives those piers a forceful vertical emphasis. Steel pilings, driven to bedrock eighty-five feet below grade were used here for the first time.

    More here.
    It isn't my most favored Chicago building, but I like it nonetheless.

    Proving the axiom that one should take along a certain amount of skepticism in hand whenever reading dire pronouncements in the papers, especially when the subject is sports. Dozens of slams of Scott Skiles in the national press yesterday, with who knows how many websites joining in. And exactly one day later, a complete opposite result...

    Chicago Tribune | On 2nd thought - KC Johnson :
    He arose after a mostly sleepless night to scorched earth in the newspaper and he made the one move he had yet to make and one that finally validated his claim he wanted to remain coach of the Bulls. Scott Skiles called Jerry Reinsdorf. Hours later, on a sweltering Tuesday evening at the NBA predraft camp, Skiles casually announced he would get his wish, reaching agreement on a three-year contract extension that sources said is worth $13.25 million. Including the $2.75 million option the Bulls will exercise for the 2005-06 season, Skiles will be paid a guaranteed $16 million over the next four seasons through 2008-09. But Tuesday was more about nuance than numbers, which also supported Skiles' claim that Monday's seeming collapse in negotiations wasn't strictly about money. “I didn't want anything to break down because of foolish pride on my part or some sort of immaturity on my part,” Skiles said. “I wanted to have a man-to-man talk with the [chairman] of my team. I liked the things he had to say. ”I just wanted to bare my soul a little bit and have him do the same. I don't like to pick up a morning paper and see people bashing the owner of my team. That makes me feel very uncomfortable--let alone bashing me at the same time. It was clear to me it was a situation that was potentially getting very bad that really didn't need to be.“ Reminded he had done some of that bashing, Skiles accepted the criticism as easily as he will accept his millions and peace of mind.
    ... The Bulls began last season 0-9 and made a startling turnaround to qualify for postseason play for the first time in seven seasons.

    In a 24-hour period from Monday evening to Tuesday evening, Skiles made a similarly startling turnaround, thanks to a phone call, some reflection and a lot of money, all $16 million of it.

    and Sam Smith adds, among other thoughts,
    As a Midwestern guy from Plymouth, Ind., and Big Ten star at Michigan State, Skiles declared his allegiance to the Bulls organization. Now he has a chance not only to grow with the organization but also to become a major figure here. He made a major move toward shedding his reputation as a quick-fix guy who's never a happy man--like Brown, who seems happiest when he is unhappy.

    Unlike Brown, Skiles fixed his situation and set up a bright future.

    Good for him.

    But where's my cut? I still am not making annually the 4 percent commission his agent gets after nearly wiping out Skiles' career with a rant to local media here Monday that set off multiple reports of an end to negotiations, a lack of respect and other personal crimes and misdemeanors.

    All the loose talk made it impossible for Skiles to commit to the Bulls despite their continued interest. There even were some people gullible enough, really, to believe this was about some high moral position.

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    Doorway to somewhere

    Doorway 122

    Metaphor of my day/week/month. Just waiting for a entrance pass.....

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    George Clinton Wins Funkadelic Rights

    NYT: George Clinton Wins Funkadelic Rights:
    After a court decision last week, the much-sampled Mr. Clinton may get a windfall in past licensing fees.
    In a decision issued last week, Judge Manuel L. Real of Federal District Court of Los Angeles returned ownership of the master recordings of four albums Mr. Clinton made in the 1970's with his band Funkadelic:
    One Nation Under a Groove

    Hardcore Jollies

    Uncle Jam Wants You

    The Electric Spanking of War Babies

    In winning possession of the recordings, Mr. Clinton can now control licensing and distribution of the music and lay claim to millions of dollars in past licensing fees.

    “That feels real good,” he said in a telephone interview on Monday. “It feels good mainly because it gives me another shot.”
    The ruling came as the latest twist in a 12-year legal fight over the rights to the recordings and the copyrights to the songs of Funkadelic and of Parliament, Mr. Clinton's other funk band. The most recent case centered around disputes among Mr. Clinton, several former business associates and a former manager.

    Don Engel, a lawyer who represented Mr. Clinton at the trial, says Mr. Clinton may be entitled to millions of dollars in past licensing fees from record labels whose artists lifted samples, or snippets, from Parliament and Funkadelic albums while recording new music. Mr. Engel also said that Mr. Clinton now has grounds to seek compensation for the rerelease of the albums in 2002 by Priority Records, now a unit of the music giant EMI Group.

    The flamboyant Mr. Clinton, who said he was 64, must now decide how hard to press for past money, and whether he still has a chance to win control of song copyrights to his old work. In 2001 he lost a court ruling in a case in which he contended that he still owned the songs. They are now controlled by his onetime music publisher, Bridgeport Music. It is not clear whether the latest ruling would provide for a new claim on that issue.

    “I'm still writing the whole history of the thing,” Mr. Clinton said. “I just want my stuff back.”

    And he should, as influential as the P-Funk has been. See also wiki on P-Funk, the bomb.

    Everybody should have a little WeFunk in their house....


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    Chicago River reflections

    The Merchandise Mart and the Chicago River, reflecting their glories, future and past....

    Merchandise Mart At Night2

    Merchandise Mart at Night

    I love how the bridges over the Chicago River have different color lights. I've taken hundreds of photos of the resulting reflections, and all end up different.
    Chicago River Lights2

    Chicago River Lights purple edition

    Some public sculpture:
    Wacker Drive Red Thingy

    click for larger versions of all photos

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    Weekend photos

    Sunday spent several hours pretending we were tourists, and walking through the Museum Campus, and Northerly Isle, etc. Ate at the Artist's Snack shop, on S. Michigan, for sure that place is stuck in another decade (like the late 1940's or something). My endive soup wasn't bad actually, though $5.25 for an Anchor Steam seems a little steep, especially since it was served in a plastic cup.

    Spiral at Adler

    Fisherman, Diversey Harbor


    Also walked around Northerly Island

    Northerly Island is a 91- acre peninsula that juts into Lake Michigan at 1200 South. Chicago's famous architect and planner Daniel H. Burnham imagined Northerly Island as one of the northernmost points in a series of manmade islands stretching between Grant and Jackson Parks. His vision for this park included lagoons, harbors, beaches, recreation areas, a scenic drive and grand stretches of green space that would provide breathtaking views of the lake and City skyline.
    Northerly Island and Burnham Park were selected as the site of Chicago's second World's Fair entitled A Century of Progress, 1933-34, and by the early 1930s, Northerly Island had been increased to its present size. In 1938, the Chicago Park District removed the bridge leading to Northerly Island and built a causeway connecting the island to Burnham Park. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Northerly Island featured paths and walkways, scattered trees and grass, a parking lot and the 12th Street Beach.
    In 1947, a small airport known as Meigs Field opened under the Exposition Authority Act. Operations at Meigs expanded with the building of an air control tower in 1952. The 50-year lease granted by the park district for Meigs Field expired on September 30, 1996. The City, Park District, and numerous civic organizations agreed that the airport should revert to parkland. Today, Daniel Burnham’s vision is now a reality. With wild prairie grasses taking root, beautiful strolling paths, casual play areas, and a spectacular view of the City skyline, we invite you to come out and enjoy the emerging world of Northerly Island.

    Northerly Island field house or something

    Northerly Island Plant Life

    View of Soldier Field from Northerly Island

    Northerly Island, view of Chicago skyline

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    Apple and Intel

    Any serious analyst, either amateur or professional, doubted that Apple would actually switch to Intel. Apple makes somewhere close to 30% margin per machine sold, and (theoretical) extra sales of Mac software would never make up this gap. However, according to Senior VP Phil Schiller, users will not be able to run Mac OS X on machines not built by Apple. I guess some sort of BIOS DRM? Not sure how this will work exactly, but this is the question I most want an answer to.

    Also, seems like sales of Macs will plummet in the next few quarters in anticipation of new machines.

    Apple throws the switch, aligns with Intel | CNET News.com: In his speech, [Steve] Jobs revealed that Apple has been developing all versions of OS X since its inception to run on Intel and PowerPC chips. “Mac OS X has been leading a secret double life the past five years,” he said.
    Also on Monday, Jobs said the next version of OS X, called Leopard, will be released in late 2006 or early 2007. That is the same time frame as Microsoft's next Windows update, dubbed Longhorn, he noted. Microsoft has said Longhorn will be released by late 2006.

    After Jobs' presentation, Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller addressed the issue of running Windows on Macs, saying there are no plans to sell or support Windows on an Intel-based Mac. “That doesn't preclude someone from running it on a Mac. They probably will,” he said. “We won't do anything to preclude that.”
    However, Schiller said the company does not plan to let people run Mac OS X on other computer makers' hardware. “We will not allow running Mac OS X on anything other than an Apple Mac,” he said.
    Apple PR and Intel PR say, in part
    At its Worldwide Developer Conference today, Apple® announced plans to deliver models of its Macintosh® computers using Intel® microprocessors by this time next year, and to transition all of its Macs to using Intel microprocessors by the end of 2007.  Apple previewed a version of its critically acclaimed operating system, Mac OS® X Tiger, running on an Intel-based Mac® to the over 3,800 developers attending CEO Steve Jobs' keynote address. Apple also announced the availability of a Developer Transition Kit, consisting of an Intel-based Mac development system along with preview versions of Apple's software, which will allow developers to prepare versions of their applications which will run on both PowerPC and Intel-based Macs.

    “Our goal is to provide our customers with the best personal computers in the world, and looking ahead Intel has the strongest processor roadmap by far,” said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. “It's been ten years since our transition to the PowerPC, and we think Intel's technology will help us create the best personal computers for the next ten years.”

    Wow, just wow.

    update: 2:23 from WSJ:

    The company also plans to offer a software utility called Rosetta that will allow programs for existing Macintosh systems to work without modification on the new machines.

    update 5:23: the Keynote is here, at the moment (quicktime, natch)

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    Site down

    not sure why, investigating.

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    Elin, plant goddess


    Our friend Elin, the plant goddess, visited us over Memorial Day weekend from Florida (where she has retired, at the young age of 67). She helped us plant our building flower beds, and regaled us with stories from her punk rock days.

    Like here

    Back in 1977, a Halsted Street gay bar called “La Mere Vipere” brought the punk rock revolution to Chicago. Considered the first Chicago punk bar, the La Mere Vipere met its demise one year later in a mysterious fire. The Artful Dodger in Wicker Park will host a celebration for the 25th anniversary of La Mere Vipere on May 11th beginning at 9:30pm. One of the original La Mere Viper DJs, Rick “Radio” Faust will spin, along with Bob Skafish (WXRT), Morry Barak (WNUR), Rick Addy and Mike Rytie of “Shake Rattle And Read,” and John Babbin of “Windy City Punk.”
    . Elin dated Rick Faust apparently.

    and here

    Following the demise of Chicago's first punk club, Le Mer Viper in 1977, a new bar by the name of O'Banion's opened up at the northeast corner of Clark & Erie in River North and quickly became a Chicago legend. O'Banion's was not exactly “aesthetically pleasing” or even “clean,” but it did play host to a litany of local talent and national acts like the Dead Kennedys, Hüsker Dü and The Replacements. This was a far cry from its previous incarnations as a gay bar, the largest strip club in Chicago at one point and a “Bugs” Moran hangout. As punk rock yielded to new wave, so did the neighborhood to gentrification and O'Banion's was sold and turned into an upscale restaurant. Though it only existed for four years, it's influence on Chicago music can be felt today in such venues as Metro, the Empty Bottle and Neo.

    Some of the local bands that played at O'Banion's included: Naked Raygun, Poison Squirrel, Trouts, Strike Under, The Dadistics, Direct Drive/Articles of Faith, Fix, Phil n' the Blanks, Subverts, Skafish, Tense Experts, and Immune System. The scene at O'Banion's also attracted national touring talent like the Dead Kennedys, Hüsker Dü, T.S.O.L., and The Replacements, as well as some of the original British punk bands. After Le Mer Viper succumbed to a mysterious fire ironically in the Year of the Snake, O'Banion's was the place to go for punk rock. It became so popular and well known, that a bevy of other punk rock joints opened up, also in sketchy and/or industrial parts of the city, including Neo, Metro, Artful Dodger, Lucky Number (which later became Club 950 Lucky Number), Lounge Ax, Oz, Gaspar's, West End Club, Tut's, Waves, Stages, Head's Pub, and Misfits. Just because it was ferverous doesn't mean that O'Banion's offered any kind of amenities for performers. According to Frank Eck, “O'Banion's was, bar none, the worst place to play at. There was no stage, no PA system (bands brought their own and played on the floor), no dressing room, virtually no lighting and no one in charge of the place. Worse still, both its restrooms rarely, if ever, functioned (once someone actually crapped on the floor next to my drum kit). However, in spite of all that, I have very fond memories of the place, having played some very fun gigs there.” Near the end, a tiny makeshift stage was added and the give and take of musician interviews and photographs took place downstairs in a tiny room with graffiti on the walls and lit by a 60-watt bulb.

    Elin claimed to have sold Joey Ramone some drugs under the stairs.

    I thought I took better photos of our planting extravaganza, this was after our second bottle of wine, so who knows what happened.

    I wielded the shovel, D helped pick locations, and kept our bellies and glasses full, and Elin did the planting:
    Elin Plants

    Front Yard, Self portrait

    Front Yard

    Front Yard flowers

    click for larger versions

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    Hoops the Gymn

    Hoops Facade

    Hoops the Gym must have gotten some other complaints, besides my own that is....

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    The science of Evolution

    | 1 Comment

    Most educated people accept that creationism and its more polished step-child, Intelligent Design, are examples of theocracy, and not science, excluding, of course, residents of the 17th century, such as the folks at Evolution News.

    Including that bastion of conservatism, the Wall Street Journal:

    WSJ.com - Science Journal:

    ...Which brings us to evolution. Advocates of teaching creationism (or its twin, intelligent design) have adopted the slogan, “Teach the controversy.” That sounds eminently sensible. But it is disingenuous. For as the auxin saga shows, virtually no area of science is free of doubt or debate or gaps in understanding.

    “Every scientific theory is constantly under scrutiny and has unknowns at its edges,” says physicist Lawrence Krauss of Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland. “Singling out evolution makes it appear that evolution is suspect, which it isn't.”

    The funny thing about demands to “teach the controversy” in evolution is that creationists are focusing on the wrong things. They argue that evolution is wrong because there are no transitional fossils showing how one species evolved into another, for instance. But paleontologists have found fossils that are transitional between whales and their terrestrial ancestors, and between finned creatures and limbed ones.
    Creationists also claim that evolution can't explain how small genetic changes could produce new species (rather than the same species with new traits, such as bacteria resistant to antibiotics). But the new field of “evo-devo” shows how minor genetic changes can lead to major structural ones, such as the presence or absence of wings or legs, notes biologist Sean Carroll of the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
    Gaps in knowledge? Of course. Every ongoing field of science has them. Physicists can't explain why elementary particles have the masses and other traits they do, but that doesn't invalidate the basic theory of matter. It just means scientists have to keep trying. Say “God did it” if you like, but that isn't science.
    Evolution is as well-established by empirical observation as other sciences. There is no serious debate that evolution happens, only deeper questions (left to college and graduate school), such as whether it proceeds gradually or in spasms. “It's dishonest to single out evolution,” Prof. Carroll says, “when the very nature of science is to have unresolved questions.”


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    WSJ on new SEC chief

    The WSJ, which if you ignore their rabid-dog editorial page, is easily the best national newspaper, notes what nominating Cox means for the SEC:

    WSJ.com - Cox's Nomination to Run SEC Signals a Regulatory Shift:

    In naming Rep. Christopher Cox as the new chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, President Bush is picking a business-friendly champion of free enterprise who worked in the Reagan White House. The California Republican has supported legislation making it harder for investors to file securities-fraud suits and opposed stricter rules on expensing stock options and merger accounting.

    His arrival promises to bring a shift in the SEC's approach to its crucial role in regulating businesses and markets. It comes in the wake of an unprecedented crackdown on corporate fraud over the past 2½ years. The scandals at Enron Corp., WorldCom Inc. and other companies prompted stiffer penalties, stricter accounting rules and a wave of enforcement actions by state and federal regulators.

    Now the regulatory terrain could be changing. “He's someone who, if he is confirmed, portends a major shift in the direction of the SEC,” said Joel Seligman, dean of Washington University law school and an SEC historian.

    ...Mr. Cox, 52 years old, has represented his Southern California district since 1988, and before that was a partner at the prestigious law firm Latham & Watkins. With both business and law degrees from Harvard University, he has been an outspoken critic of class-action lawsuits and pushed for legislation that some critics called anti-investor. The 1995 bill sponsored by Mr. Cox, and supported by many business interests, raised the burden of proof for investors who claim to have been defrauded....

    Some of Mr. Cox's top political contributors work in the securities and investment industries, which collectively have given him $254,412 since 1989, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The accounting industry has been among his most generous contributors, with accounting firms and lobbying groups giving Mr. Cox more than $49,000, in the 2002 and 2004 election cycles. His biggest contributor in the 2004 election was his old law firm, Latham & Watkins, which gave him more than $19,000.

    In other words, lets bring back the Gilded Age! Business always knows best! Let a thousand Robber Barons grow!

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    Another entry into the “Shaq is alright” file. Harder and harder to actively dislike him as much as I used to, especially since he isn't a Laker anymore.

    SI.com - NBA - Shaq wants to pay for Mikan's funeral expenses - Friday June 3, 2005 1:13AM:

    Shaquille O'Neal wants to pay more than respects to the family of George Mikan.

    O'Neal said Thursday that he wants the Mikan family to contact the Miami Heat offices, so arrangements can be made for him to handle funeral expenses for the league's first dominant big man.

    Mikan died Wednesday night at a rehabilitation center in Scottsdale, Ariz., following a long fight with diabetes and kidney ailments. He was 80.

    “I'd like to send my condolences to the Mikan family,” O'Neal said after Miami beat Detroit 88-76 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals on Thursday night. “I heard they were having some trouble, some problems, so if you contact the Heat office, I would like to pay for the funeral.”

    Of course, this is only petty cash for Shaq, but the gesture is nice. Could have been done in private, but still a gentlemanly offer.


    Netflixed Tout Va Bien

    Jane Fonda is an odd bird. Acted in some interesting movies, showed up for some dreck. And somehow she became the metaphor for the liberal response to the U.S. in Vietnam, standing for all of its perverse, illogical and confusing facets. Looking forward to seeing this movie, even though it might actually suck. Not all of Godard's films are watchable, once removed from the time they were created.

    Shipped: Tout Va Bien:

    Shipped on 06/02/05.

    This controversial French-language film presented by the Criterion Collection tells the story of a labor strike at a meat factory as seen through the eyes of an American journalist (Jane Fonda) and her husband (Yves Montand), an avant-garde filmmaker. Written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin, this film cast a critical eye on the institution of marriage, modern-day society and political upheaval in France.

    Tout Va Bien

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    Am in the process of installing an Apple mini for D's main office computer. I sneakily installed Tiger on her iMac, but not on her increasingly ancient Blue & White G3 (1998-99 era). Soon enough she noticed how slow the G3 really is, and suggested getting a new computer. I suggested two options, the dual chip G5, or a mini. I was looking for a good excuse to get a mini anyway. The only snag so far is getting her data off of the B&W as it is too old to boot as a targeted firewire drive. I'm guessing I'll hook it up to a spare monitor/keyboard and connect it to our LAN.

    Whoo hoo, new toys!

    Mac Mini - last PowerPC we'll ever buy

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    Brooklyn store front

    Street scene, Brooklyn somewhere, visiting Matthew Sharlot, ca 1999. B&W 35mm, scanned.

    Head on Fire, cool
    click for larger version

    and no, I don't remember how I got the title, “Head on Fire”. Maybe my head was compressed with the after-effects of etoh. Cool is referring to the tonality, of course.

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    The Smithsonian responds to my outrage regarding showing the Christian fundie movie, The Privileged Planet:

    The Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History recently approved a request by the Discovery Institute to hold a private, invitation only screening and reception at the Museum on June 23 for the film “The Privileged Planet.” Upon further review we have determined that the content of the film is not consistent with the mission of the Smithsonian Institution's scientific research. Neither the Smithsonian Institution nor the National Museum of Natural History supports or endorses the views of the Discovery Institute or the film “The Privileged Planet.” Given that the Discovery Institute has already issued invitations, we will honor the commitment made to provide space for the event, but will not participate or accept a donation for it.

    Small victories are still victories.

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    FDA Corruption, part the 98787

    | 1 Comment

    Yes, yes, it's all a big joke, at the expense of consumers who end up taking drugs that should never have made it to the market because of untested risks. Meanwhile, by the time enough people die, or suffer debilitating side effects, the drug manufacturers have reaped large profits, and the FDA regulators now have left the FDA, and work as consultants for Big Pharma. Everybody gets rich, the public gets screwed, rinse, repeat. Disgusting.

    WSJ.com - Drug Makers Seen As Slow to Finish Postmarket Studies: By JENNIFER CORBETT DOOREN
    Pharmaceutical companies haven't completed about half of the studies ordered by the Food and Drug Administration as part of the agency's accelerated-approval system for new drugs, according to a congressional-staff review.

    The review, by Rep. Edward J. Markey (D., Mass.), focused on the accelerated-approval program, which requires pharmaceutical companies to continue studying an approved drug after it goes on the market.

    FDA spokeswoman Suzanne Trevino said agency officials couldn't comment on the report because they hadn't seen it. “Accelerated approval has an important role and gives earlier access to life-saving medicines,” she said.

    Using FDA and Securities and Exchange Commission data, the Markey staff looked at 91 studies ordered on 42 products that were approved from 1993 to October 2004. The FDA's accelerated-approval process was established in 1992.

    Of the 91 studies, 46 have been completed, 42 haven't and three have been delayed. Half of the unfinished studies are yet to begin. The oldest outstanding study was ordered in 1996 for a Shire Pharmaceuticals Group PLC drug used to treat a small group of people who faint as a result of low blood pressure. A Shire spokesman said the company acquired the marketing rights to the drug in 2000 and agreed to do two studies, one of which is completed and the other is continuing.

    The Markey review also found that 68% of the companies didn't disclose with the SEC that they were required to conduct studies. It is unclear if companies were required to divulge that information. SEC regulations require firms to disclose “material” information to investors.

    “It is outrageous that drug companies and the FDA have been dragging their feet when it comes to conducting required postmarketing studies,” Mr. Markey said. “They are laughing at the FDA, and sometimes it seems as if the FDA is treating it as a joke as well.”

    {, , }

    'Tis a good thing to have a Senator who actually represents, mostly, my views, and is responsive to my letters. Richard Durbin is a mensch. I've written multiple times to my other Senator, a Mr. Barack Obama, and gotten bupkes by way of response. Shame on you, Mr. Obama. Even Pete Fitzgerald, the former (Republican) Senator bothered to respond to my emails, even sometimes just to argue my point.

    Anyway, here is what Senator Durbin ('s staff auto-letter-writing bot) writes:

    Thank you for contacting me regarding H.R. 418, the REAL ID Act.  I
    appreciate hearing from you on this important matter.

           I am concerned about several of the provisions of the REAL ID Act.  While I support measures to deter illegal entry into the United States, I also believe we must preserve due process under the law and the historic separation of powers.  This legislation ignored a number of the bipartisan suggestions of the 9/11 Commission and reversed some of the positive steps we made in passing the Intelligence Reform bill last year.

           The Intelligence Reform bill implemented a number of the recommendations of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission.  The legislation calls for the Border Patrol workforce to be increased by 2000 agents per year from 2006 through 2010.  This would double the size of the Border Patrol over a five year period.  It also increases the number of full-time Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigators by 800 per year from 2006 to 2010, and the number of detention beds for immigration detention and removal by 8,000 per year from 2006 to 2010.  The bill also strengthens and codifies visa requirements and toughens penalties against individuals who unlawfully bring in and harbor aliens.

           In contrast, some provisions of H.R. 418 are unnecessary, expensive, and dangerous.  Although the REAL ID Act was offered as a means of improving identification security, it undermined the improvements in identification document security and reliability enacted in the Intelligence Reform bill. The Intelligence Reform bill not only set strict national standards for state identification documents, it also promised funds to assist states with document handling upgrades.  The REAL ID Act ignored these provisions and set national standards without providing the necessary financial
    resources for these costly improvements.  This unfunded mandate led the National Governors Association and the National Council of State Legislatures to oppose the REAL ID Act.

           Additionally, the REAL ID Act includes provisions designed to expedite the deportation process without preserving a defendant's right to a lawyer and to present his or her case in court.  We can enforce our immigration laws and protect our national security without violating due process.
           Lastly, I am concerned with a clause in H.R. 418 that permits the Secretary of Homeland Security to waive all laws in order to expedite the construction of barriers along any U.S. borders.  Not only would this
    provision grant the Secretary of Homeland Security a free hand in overriding laws and regulations, it would prevent the Judicial Branch from reviewing the actions taken by the Secretary.  Such a provision would violate the system of checks and balances central to our Constitution, upset the balance of power between the branches of government, and lend
    itself to abuses of power.

           Although the Senate decided not to include the REAL ID Act in the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill, many of its provisions were added to the final version of that measure during the House-Senate conference on the bill.

    Thank you again for writing and expressing your views on this issue.

                                           Richard J. Durbin
                                           United States Senator

    P.S. If you are ever visiting Washington, please feel free to join Senator Obama and me at our weekly constituent coffee.  When the Senate is in session, we provide coffee and donuts every Thursday at 8:30 a.m. as we hear what is on the minds of Illinoisans and respond to your questions. We would welcome your participation.  Please call my D.C. office for more details.

    emphasis added. This is a scary provision, and one I wasn't aware of. The Secretary of Homeland Security should not be above the laws of the land, under any circumstances.

    Update 6-5-05: apparently, I'm not the only one to be disappointed with Senator Obama. I've written 4 or 5 letters to both of my Senators this year, Durbin responds to every one (either via email, or to my included postal address), Obama to none. I'm starting to suspect that the whole 'liberal' thing that Obama played up during election was just posturing akin to Al Gore's pretense that he was a man of the poeple at the end of the 2000 election. Bleh, politicians.

    Durbin's email

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