August 2005 Archives

Stagger Lee

Department of “Wow. They have Nick Cave Dolls? I want one”, sung in one's best Bongwater voice, circa

Power of Pussy

Power of Pussy

Any-who, excerpts from a fascinating tale of the origins and historical significance of the legendary figure, Stagger Lee published a few years ago in the Guardian.

Guardian Unlimited - Godfather of Gangsta

In the red-light district of St Louis in 1895, a pimp shot a man dead in an argument over a hat. The ballad telling the story has been recorded by hundreds of bluesmen and jazzers - and even the Clash. It also helped create modern-day rap. Cecil Brown tells the remarkable tale of Stagolee ....

A newspaper account also described Stagolee as walking over to the dying man still holding on to the bar and snatched his hat from Lyons's hand, put it on his head, and walked out “coolly” into the night air.
The murder had serious political consequences. Lyons, it turned out, was a staunch Republican, as were nearly all of St Louis's 25,000 black people. Lyons's stepmother, Marie Brown, owned the famous Bridgewater saloon. Her son-in-law, Henry Bridgewater, was reputed to be the richest black man in St Louis. Lyons belonged to this powerful clan loyal to the Republican party, which had freed the slaves. A new generation, represented by Stagolee, was anxious to vote for the Democrats. Stagolee had gained the support of the Democrats and so was hated by most of the black bourgeoisie, who were represented by Billy Lyons.

In the 1890s in St Louis, black people sought political protection with their right to vote. Both the Republican and the Democratic parties thought they could win if they got the black vote. The majority of black St Louisans voted Republican, but during the Republican convention, in the summer of 1896, many - unhappy that the national Republican party ignored their interest - broke with the party. This break owed much to the black pimps in St Louis. Under the guise of “sporting” clubs, frequently called the 400 Clubs, pimps, saloon-keepers, and gamblers exerted voting power for the Democratic party. Some saloon-keepers represented the “unofficial” Democratic party.

They took him to the courthouse
Judge Murphy sat on the bench
An' the first one to put her can in a chair
Was Stack-o-Lee's lovin' wench
Down at the trial, down at the trial of Stack-o-Lee.

Many of the figures in the ballad - Judge Murphy, Stagolee's defence lawyer Nat Dryden, Stagolee's wife - were well known figures in the area. Other versions of the ballad make references to historical places and people, like St Louis Chestnut Valley, Lillie Shelton, and bartenders Tom Scott and Frank Boyd. We can assume, therefore, that the hero Stagolee who is the centre of the poem is a reference to the real man Lee Shelton.
Shelton's white lawyer, Dryden, may have been brilliant, but he also was a bohemian with an opium addiction. In the first trial, Dryden got Stagolee off with a hung jury. After two years in the courts, at the retrial in 1897, with a new judge and in the absence of Dryden, Stagolee was sentenced to 25 years in the Jefferson penitentiary. After being released by the Democratic powers that be, he was out for a few years and then returned for pistol-whipping another man. He died in the state prison in 1912, aged 46.

Murder Ballads
Murder Ballads
listen to excerpts at Amazon

link via Feministe

Parenthetical note, of the 10 versions of Stagger Lee currently in my library, Nick Cave's is probably my second favorite to (Mississippi) John Hurt's version.

Update: via Vidiot , here is a list of 218 versions of the song, Stagger Lee.


err, something like that. Anway, Handlebar Bar & Grill is having a cool promotion.

From the Chicago Rag/Mag we read:

Handlebar (2311 W. North Ave.; 773-384-9546) has introduced what it calls the “Inverse Petrol-O-Matic Beer Pricing Scheme.” If the BP station down the street from Handlebar goes over $3 a gallon, pints of Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat Ale will be discounted to $3. If gas rises above $4 per gallon, pints will be $2. (We all get free beer if gas goes over $6 per gallon. Keep your fingers crossed.)

Mmmmmm, Goose Island. Actually, the Handlebar is a pretty quaint joint - veggie food, bike friendly, nice patio, cheerful staff the few dozen times we've been there.....


Reviews W Part 4 the Wilco edition

Another day, another few CDs listened to....

Flickr Fans to Yahoo: Flick Off!

Maybe I'm being dense, but I don't really see what the hub-bub about Flickr and Yahoo merging is all about. If Flickr suddenly makes all of my photos vanish, I'd be pissed off, but I don't really see that happening, nor do I forsee Flickr/Yahoo suddenly asserting copyright control over everyone's pictures. Too much PR risk inherent in any such aggressive move. Maybe I'm biased since I've had a Yahoo account for a long, long time. It mostly gets spam, but that's how I use it.

I'm actually more concerned about how exactly the new photo printing service is going to work. I shrink my photos for display on screen, as probably everyone does. Will there be bandwidth restrictions for uploading print versions? My photoshop images tend to be around 50-100 megs, and even compressed as jpgs, these are large files. When Geo-cities was purchased by Yahoo, the disk space/bandwidth was lowered.

Wired News: Flickr Fans to Yahoo: Flick Off!
A splinter faction of Flickr photo-sharing community members is threatening a symbolic “mass suicide” to protest closer integration with the website's new owner, Yahoo.

The portal giant bought Flickr's developer, Ludicorp, for an undisclosed sum in March and took ownership of the site when it moved from Vancouver, Canada, to Yahoo's Sunnyvale, California, campus this summer.

Now, angered by a new requirement to tie their member profiles with Yahoo accounts, some Flickrites say they plan to kill off their identities before they can be moved into the new family next year.

“If Flickr really forces me to join Yahoo in 2006 in order to still use my account, I will quit 24 hours before the deadline,” wrote Thomas Müller, a Hamburg, Germany-based artist who shows more than 1,400 photos at the site. On Wednesday, Müller created a protest group, Flick Off, that has attracted almost 400 members.

At stake is a new user-profile stipulation that reads: “We will be migrating all independent Flickr accounts to Yahoo's network in 2006. At that time, if you have not done so already, you will be asked to create a Yahoo ID (or link your account to your Yahoo ID if you already have one) in order to continue using your account.”


Bank of America

business briefs/leads:

Adweek Magazine - Adweek Online

A team of Omnicom Group agencies has won Bank of America's marketing services account, defeating teams from WPP Group and the incumbent, Interpublic Group, a client representative confirmed. The estimated budget is $600 million. Revenue on the account, which includes traditional advertising, direct and event marketing, and media duties, is estimated at $65 million.
In its pitch, Omnicom is said to have assembled a dedicated, multi-disciplinary unit, drawing resources from BBDO, direct marketing agency Targetbase, interactive shop Organic and business-to-business specialist Doremus. Several agency and parent company executives were involved, including BBDO worldwide CEO Andrew Robertson and corporate honchos Tom Harrison, Susan Smith Ellis and Michael Birkin [Adweek, Aug. 8].

Sources said WPP offered a passel of some 20 agencies under the stewardship of a top corporate executive. The shops included Ogilvy & Mather unit Soho Square, Grey Direct and MediaCom; Berlin Cameron/Red Cell execs also met with the client, though they were not in the picture at the end, according to sources.


American Red Cross - Credit Card Contribution

Every bit helps.

In Search of a Place to Sleep, and News of Home
Hundreds of thousands of evacuees who had packed limited provisions grappled with the new reality of long-term evacuation.

Department of Other Priorities


President Nero plays a made up chord while New Orleans floods......
President Nero
Our alleged leader cut short his vacation by two days to go back to Washington, and play guitar. Doesn't look too worried about the utter destruction and desolation in New Orleans, does he? How about initiating a temporary withdrawal from Iraq so that there is enough National Guardsmen and equipment available in Louisiana?

40,000-50,000 people in the superdome, including seriously injured people, and evacuees from the Hospitals. There are no running water or sewage facilities -- and no power. Temperatures are in he 90's within the building

One man just committed suicide by jumping. 'Unrest' is growing within the superdome - and their are there are now military as well civilian police on the scene.

There are now several; major fires in view of city. There is evidently a fair amount of oil and gas floating on the flood waters.

Water is still rising and the Mayor is just now being evacuated by helicopter as City hall is now surrounded by water that can only be reached by small boat, water is about 3 feet deep at the steps of City Hall.

80% of New Orleans is totally submerged now, and will likely become 100% submerged tonight

Apparently there weren't enough helicopters to rescue people trapped in attics and on rooftops while also shoring up the levee: too much of the equipment is overseas in Iraq.

And as Bob Harris notes:

When flooding from a massive rainstorm in May 1995 killed six people, Congress authorized the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, or SELA.

Over the next 10 years, the Army Corps of Engineers, tasked with carrying out SELA, spent $430 million on shoring up levees and building pumping stations, with $50 million in local aid. But at least $250 million in crucial projects remained, even as hurricane activity in the Atlantic Basin increased dramatically and the levees surrounding New Orleans continued to subside.

Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA dropped to a trickle. The [U.S. Army Corps of Engineers] never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain.
And this was reported at the time. Not as a partisan attack. As a public safety issue.
At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars.

In early 2004, as the cost of the conflict in Iraq soared, President Bush proposed spending less than 20 percent of what the Corps said was needed for Lake Pontchartrain, according to a Feb. 16, 2004, article, in New Orleans CityBusiness.

On June 8, 2004, Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, told the Times-Picayune: "It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can't be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us."

rest of article, and rest of Mr. Harris' post.

And ole President Bunny Pants is still making stump speeches about Iraq and 'Merican Resolve, and other meaningless phrases.


Reviews W Part 3

More merriment, beneath the fold....

I've been meaning to upload some Pastafarianism imagery that BoingBoing was kind enough to offer last week, but have been too busy. Well, I'm still too busy to update my site (actually, am planning on tearing this whole thing down, and rebuilding it using the new movabletype 3.2 software, maybe this weekend), but here is a couple of tidbits. Count me up as a Pastafarian.

Flying Spaghetti Monster


Is the super-intelligent, super-popular god known as the Flying Spaghetti Monster any match for the prophets of intelligent design?
This month, the Kansas State Board of Education gave preliminary approval to allow teaching alternatives to evolution like intelligent design (the theory that a smart being designed the universe). And President Bush and Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee both gave the thumbs up to teaching intelligent design.
Long before that, Bobby Henderson, a 25-year-old with a physics degree from Oregon State University, had a divine vision. An intelligent god, a Flying Spaghetti Monster, he said, “revealed himself to me in a dream.”
He posted a sketch on his Web site,, showing an airborne tangle of spaghetti and meatballs with two eyes looming over a mountain, trees and a stick man labeled “midgit.” Prayers to the Flying Spaghetti Monster, his site says, end with “ramen,” not “amen.”
Then, Mr. Henderson, who says on his site that he is desperately trying to avoid taking a job programming slot machines in Las Vegas, posted an open letter to the Kansas board.
In perfect deadpan he wrote that although he agreed that science students should “hear multiple viewpoints” of how the universe came to be, he was worried that they would be hearing only one theory of intelligent design. After all, he noted, there are many such theories, including his own fervent belief that “the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster.” He demanded equal time in the classroom and threatened a lawsuit.
Soon he was flooded with e-mail messages. Ninety-five percent of those who wrote to him, he said on his Web site, were “in favor of teaching Flying Spaghetti Monsterism in schools.” Five percent suggested that he would be going to hell. Lawyers contacted him inquiring how serious he was about a lawsuit against the Kansas board. His answer: “Very.”
This month, the news media, both mainstream and digital, jumped in. The New Scientist magazine wrote an article. So did Die Welt. Two online encyclopedias, Uncyclopedia and Wikipedia, wrote entries on the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The Web site mounted a challenge: “We are willing to pay any individual $250,000 if they can produce empirical evidence which proves that Jesus is not the son of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.”

Rest of the article here


Parsley Soup

First, as a bit of a prelude: it is extremely difficult to write about food every day. I salute food blogs like Too Many Chefs and SlashFood, and numerous others that I leave to you, the reader, to discover. We all eat every day, we all have opinions regarding what is good food, and what is food fit for left-overs, and what is only fit for the garbage chute. Keeping track of what is delicious, and why it turned out that way, is a task not fit for such as I. I do take pride in my culinary skills, and my adventurous nature, however, recalling what I did in the kitchen on a consistent basis is another matter entirely.

Anyway, there are times when I make something that amuses my palate, and wish to remember, past the approaching Alzheimer's or other looming short-term memory loss, why exactly something was tasty. This is one of those moments. Blame the wine.

1. Ingredients: flat leaf (Italian) parsley, a healthy leek, shallot, parsnip, carrots, broth (I used frozen chicken broth, but whatever's handy is probably just dandy), crimini and portobello mushrooms, butter/olive oil, wine (ended up using Solaz, a dry red, Spanish wine). You will also need a blender or food processor, or a large supply of amphetamine and a big knife. You call that a knife?

2. Of course, wash and slice everything, as appropriate. Do cookbooks really need to tell you to 'roughly chop' your parsnip? What are you going to do? Throw it directly in your bowl?

3. In your soup pot, heat olive oil, shallots, leek (green part only, natch), parsnips, carrots, and cook for several moments, turning frequently. My torn-out-of-some-magazine-recipe that I used as a rough basis for this soup calls for throwing in the parsley stalks, I actually wouldn't recommend this: removing the stalks at the end is quite difficult, and will probably cause you to burn your fingers eventually, while cursing in several languages.

3.a. Every cook worth their salty language uses someone else's recipe as a basis for their creations. The truth of ones skill become evident via the creative choices and deviations from the road map.

4. Add your broth and some water. Simmer for an hour or so, depending on how ravenous you become, and how soft the vegetables are. Once the vegetables are soft, and you are ready to move on too, add the parsley leaves for about a minute before turning the heat off.

5. Meanwhile, back at the ranch counter-top, chop your mushrooms with purpose, and add another shallot to the mix. Heat up some butter and olive oil in a skillet, add your funghi-bounty, and marvel at the mouth-watering odor. Throw in a splash or two of wine, just to keep yourself honest. There are a only few smells that really leave me weak in the knees, mushrooms and butter melting together in post-coital-bliss with red wine are several of them. I tossed in a few sprigs of my diced parsley for good measure. Cook until the mushrooms release their sweet nectars - usually about ten minutes later, depending upon your skill level with the Mushroom sutra.

6. If you foolishly used the stems of parsley, now you must extract them somehow. Good luck. After you've given up, and the soup has cooled, throw the broth/vegetables into a plugged-in food processor.

6.A. If you have been drinking from the open bottle of wine, and aren't really paying attention to details anymore, do make sure you have correctly attached the food processor. Otherwise you will lose a portion of the broth all over the counter-top. Trust me on this. If you didn't secure the bowl to the blade mechanism, and broth is leaking all over the freaking place, at least stick your finger in it as if to taste your concoction. If people are watching you, say in your best Pee Wee Herman voice, “I meant to do that!”

7. Blend the soup up well. You might have to use several batches if your food processor machine is dainty. Once the soup is no longer fibrous, add the sauteed mushrooms on top.

8. Enjoy.


Contrarian of a Generation, Revisited

I'm enough of a sucker to have already purchased the new album (received today) and the new film. Steve Jobs too, probably, as a condition of this.

The Contrarian of a Generation, Revisited

A new album and film both focus on Bob Dylan's metamorphosis from Midwestern guitar strummer to Greenwich Village folk idol to electric rocker.
Has there ever been a rock star as contrary as Bob Dylan? When taken for a folk singer, interpreting traditional songs, he started to write his own. When taken for a topical songwriter who would dutifully put his music behind party-line messages, and praised as the spokesman for a generation, he became an ambiguous, visionary poet instead. And when taken for an acoustic-guitar troubadour who was supposed to cling to old, virtuous rural sounds, he plugged in his guitar, hired a band and sneered oracular electric blues.

That's the story told in two overlapping projects: the two-CD set “No Direction Home: The Soundtrack - The Bootleg Series Vol. 7” (Columbia/Legacy), to be released today, and “No Direction Home,” a documentary directed by Martin Scorsese that will be released as two DVD's on Sept. 20 and broadcast on the PBS series “American Masters” on Sept. 26 and 27. (Despite the soundtrack designation on the CD's, versions of some songs differ between album and film.)

Read more

No Direction Home
No Direction Home

No Direction Home DVD
No Direction Home DVD

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Another spot-on article by Billmon, this time analyzing the puzzling evil genius that is Pat Robertson. I've netflixed the Peckinpah movie, by the way.

Whiskey Bar: Bring Me the Head of Hugo Chavez
I was as entertained as anybody this week by Pat Robertson's remake of the Sam Peckinpah classic (this time with the president of Venezuela in the title role) and I certainly enjoyed watching the old devil wriggle on the hook of his own words, but I have to say I was amazed by all the media attention.

I mean, the fact that Pat Robertson babbled something completely insane (and dangerous) to his TV cult followers has a definite dog-bites-man quality to it. When Robertson says something sane, that will be big news. But I wouldn't keep a hole waiting on page one for that story.

For a taste of some of Robertson's more, ah, creative ideas, check out this Greg Palast story from 1999, recently reposted on Greg's web site.

Personally, I've known Pat was either a demented psychopath or a world-class con artist ever since he first emerged on the national scene back in the early 1980s. I remember seeing some old footage of Robertson hopping down the aisle of his “church” on one foot in some kind of a faith-healing trace, and thinking to myself: Nobody does something like that unless they're authentically ripped on the Holy Spirit, or they expect to make some nice coin out of it.

I always assumed it was the latter (a business associate who traveled with Robertson claims he never saw him reading the Bible -- just Investor's Business Daily and the Wall Street Journal.) But then I happened to catch Robertson on the tube giving a speech during the 1988 Republican convention, and I realized he was both a con man and a nut case -- with no clear dividing line between them.
read rest here



Oh great. What's next, wearing slacks? Sunglasses? Seems like Officer Fiduccia is a little vague on the importance of this symbol. Perhaps it just means that people dress in clothes without necessarily intending to mean anything specific?

Chicago Police: White T-Shirt New Gang Symbol
Forget all that talk about gang colors. Police in Chicago say the plain white T-shirt is the latest in gang-member attire.

Sergeant James Fiduccia calls it “urban camouflage” adopted by gang members who want to blend in while they sell their drugs. 

Fiduccia -- who works for Chicago's Gang Intelligence Section -- says the white T-shirt is being sported by several different gangs when members are doing business. 

And he says officers watching a recent picnic of suspected gang members saw 400 to 600 people, all wearing white.

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Reviews W part 2

The inconsequential yet monumental quest to listen to my CDs in order...

Coffee is good for you?

I like the sound of this, as a serious imbiber of the bitter nectar, but any study funded by the industry in question is suspect. Of course, this study will be published world-wide in articles that skim over any hint of a conflict of interest. Comparable to General Electric funding a study saying that coal pollution is really a health supplement. Or something.

Independent Online Edition > Health Medical : app3
Coffee might soon be considered a health drink following a study showing it is a surprisingly rich source of anti-cancer agents. A study has found that coffee contributes more antioxidants - which have been linked with fighting heart disease and cancer - to the diet than cranberries, apples or tomatoes.
Fruit and vegetables have long been known to be a good source of antioxidants, but the new findings are surprising because it is the first time that coffee has been shown to be such a rich source of the agents.
Professor Joe Vinson of the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania warned, however, that the study did not prove that coffee was good for you because high levels of antioxidants in food did not necessarily translate into higher levels absorbed by the body.
Nevertheless, the research - which was funded by the American Cocoa Research Institute - indicates that at least where coffee is consumed in high amounts, the beverage could be responsible for relatively high levels of antioxidants in the diet.

Original link via Slashdot/Science

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Alan Lomax vs John Work

Follow up to a recent Tribune story regarding Muddy Waters' discovery by Alan Lomax and John Work.

Of course race has something to do with it. Lomax may not (or may) have been a racist, but regardless, if something like this had occurred in the modern day, John Work could have published his book via alternative channels, or even gone on the talk show circuit to discuss his findings. Not possible in the 1940s.

Powell's - Lost Delta Found, and books on Muddy Waters

Book Says Alan Lomax Neglected Black Scholars

A new book asserts that the American folklorist gave short shrift to the work of scholars who accompanied him on travels through the South in the 1930's and 40's.

According to “Lost Delta Found,” it was Work, the leader of the Fisk research team, who initiated the Mississippi study when he applied to the Library of Congress for money to support a recording trip to Natchez. Alerted to Work's interest in Southern vernacular music, Lomax, who ran the library's Archive of American Song, entered the picture and, Mr. Gordon and Mr. Nemerov say, diverted the project to Coahoma. Once the team arrived in Coahoma, they were told of a blues singer who worked as a farmhand on Col. Howard Stovall's plantation. That farmhand turned out to be McKinley Morganfield, a k a Muddy Waters.
Lomax wrote extensively of the Coahoma Country trips in “The Land Where the Blues Began,” published long after the fact, but the research was supposed to have been jointly published some five decades earlier by Fisk University and the Library of Congress. The Fisk scholars' manuscripts were somehow lost after they were sent to the Library of Congress in 1943 by Work, who died in 1967, and have been published for the first time in “Lost Delta Found.”
“Lost Delta Found” is an outgrowth of Mr. Gordon's research for his 2002 biography “Can't Be Satisfied: The Life and Times of Muddy Waters” (Little, Brown). Tipped off in the late 1990's by Mr. Nemerov to Work's contributions, Mr. Gordon sifted through Lomax's vast archive at Hunter College in New York, where, after much burrowing, he found a manuscript stuffed in the back of a file cabinet in a powder-blue cover with Lewis Wade Jones's name on it. Also written on the cover were the words “Property of Fisk University.” When Mr. Gordon matched up the document to the incomplete, hand-written manuscript that Mr. Nemerov had unearthed, he knew he had discovered a significant contribution to Southern folkloric scholarship.

Powell's - Lost Delta Found, and books on Muddy Waters and Amazon -

Lost Delta Found
Lost Delta Found

In August 1941 during their remarkable field research trip in Mississippi, folklorist Alan Lomax and Fisk University music professor John Work interviewed and recorded local musicians who went on to blues fame. Among them: McKinley A. Morganfield, nicknamed Muddy Water (the 's' was added to his last name years later, in Chicago).

Muddy Waters was nervous.

In August 1941, he'd heard that two men were looking for him at his home on the Stovall plantation, north of Clarksdale, Miss.

“Uh-oh! This is it,” Waters remembered thinking. “They done found out I'm sellin' whiskey.”

But the two strangers weren't interested in his still.

Instead, they just wanted to hear his music and record some of his songs for the Library of Congress. Waters obliged and played a handful of songs for folklorist Alan Lomax and music professor John Work III. They recorded his songs -- including a proto version of “I Be's Troubled” -- and conducted an interview.

After the session, Lomax played the recording back for Waters.

“I really heard myself for the first time. I'd never heard my voice. I used to sing; used to sing just how I felt, 'cause that's the way we always sang in Mississippi,” Waters told one journalist. “But when Mr. Lomax played me the record I thought, man, this boy can sing the blues.”

It's that single, galvanizing moment that inspired Waters to have confidence in his abilities. He soon after moved to Chicago and signed with the Chess Records label. Waters' music later inspired the Rolling Stones' Keith Richard and Mick Jagger to make music, so much so that they named their band after one of Waters' songs.


Even when he found the manuscript jammed into the back of a filing cabinet, author Robert Gordon didn't recognize exactly what he had unearthed.

Wrapped in a powder-blue cover, it was a long-lost piece of blues history: the 1941-1942 field study manuscript that chronicles African-American music and culture in rural Mississippi. Adding to its historical mystique, the manuscript documents the discovery of blues legend Muddy Waters by Library of Congress folklorist Alan Lomax and musicologist John Work III, a professor at Fisk University in Nashville.

Sixty years ago, the original field study findings were meant to be jointly edited and published by the Library of Congress and Fisk University, a predominantly African-American liberal arts institution. But Work's manuscript was mishandled, lost, found, lost again and, eventually, forgotten.

Decades later, Lomax wrote “Land Where the Blues Began,” a prize-winning book that drew on his recollections of Mississippi Delta trips. Work was mentioned only three times in the volume.

This month,Vanderbilt University Press is releasing “Lost Delta Found: Rediscovering the Fisk University-Library of Congress Coahoma County Study, 1941-1942,” as written by Work, plus essays by his colleagues Lewis Wade Jones and Samuel C. Adams, who also took part in the research.

With the book's publication, editors Gordon and Bruce Nemerov are attempting to shed light on the famed ethno-music research and recast the contributions of Work.

“It's justice. What we're doing is justice,” Gordon says. “A guy who had incredible impact on these famous field trips who has been completely written out of them.”

“Lost Delta Found” also conjures up contentious issues about race, the interpretation of history and protection of legacies.

...There have been so many African-American artists or scholars of one sort or another that have either been discounted or hidden or just left out of the mainstream. From my viewpoint, this was a perfect example of that,“ says Work, a retired economist and author of ”Race, Economics and Corporate America.“

”I was delighted to see this come to light and see my father get credit for the substantial work he did,“ Work says. ”I do believe that Robert and Bruce did some great historiography here. They simply lay down the facts instead of editorializing. Those guys are detectives of the first order, as I see it.“

However, while neither Gordon nor Nemerov explicitly lay blame on Lomax for the manuscript's disappearance, implications permeate their introduction.

They write that the bound manuscript ”a noncirculating original, was found stashed in the back of a file cabinet drawer in the Alan Lomax Archives. . . . [It] had a soft powder-blue cover identifying it as the product of, and the property of . . . Fisk University. It has since been returned.“


Reviews X - W, part 1

Yes, I have issues with cataloging my universe. Regardless, more brief notes behind the 'jump'

Jobs vs Record Labels

What's up with the major labels anyway? Are they that short-sighted? Of course, we already know the answer to that, but still. They make 70% of each iTunes store sold song. Why is it that I can purchase a DVD, containing sometimes over 9 Gigs of data, containing the efforts of hundreds of well-paid Hollywood professionals, containing a film that cost $100,000,000 or more to create for less money than I can purchase a re-issued music CD, containing usually about 600 Megs of data, containing the efforts of a few dozen moderately paid musicians and engineers (sometimes even artists who died many years ago with really crappy royalty arrangements), containing an hour or so of music, and probably costing the record label, at most $100,000, and that's probably being generous? Do 40 songs recorded by Sonny Boy Williamson in 1955 really cost more to produce than Star Wars 3? Not even making any argument about quality (because of course, Sonny Boy Williamson is an American genius, and Star Wars 3 is utter dreck), but the Sonny Boy Williamson CD is currently $35.49 and the Star Wars DVD is $15. Sonny Boy Williamson probably got a couple thousand dollars, tops from the Chess brothers, while George Lucas can sleep in an entire room full of $1,000 dollar bills, ala Scrooge McDuck, if he chose to.

So, the Record labels can kiss my ass.

Apple, Digital Music's Angel, Earns Record Industry's Scorn
Steven P. Jobs is girding for a showdown with at least two of the four major record companies over the price of iTunes songs. Mr. Jobs is now girding for a showdown with at least two of the four major record companies over the price of songs on the iTunes service. If he loses, the one-price model that iTunes has adopted - 99 cents to download any song - could be replaced with a more complex structure that prices songs by popularity. A hot new single, for example, could sell for $1.49....

Apple has long allowed different prices for full albums sold on the service, though it believes that maintaining the 99-cent price for each song on an album acts as a natural cap. The service, which is available to consumers who download iTunes software to their computers, allows users to choose from roughly 1.5 million songs from major and independent labels. The songs, once paid for and downloaded, can be transferred to an iPod device, burned to blank discs, or played on the computer. At the price of 99 cents a song, the share of the major labels is about 70 cents.
Some analysts suggest that the willingness of the music companies to gamble on a new pricing structure reflects a short memory.

“As I recall, three years ago these guys were wandering around with their hands out looking for someone to save them,” said Mike McGuire, an analyst at Gartner G2. “It'd be rather silly to try to destabilize him because iTunes is one of the few bright spots in the industry right now. He's got something that's working.”

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Canadian frustration with the US

Probably could be filed under 'restoring dignity to the White House', but maybe under the Department 'Rules only apply to others'.

Memo to U.S.: Pay Attention to Canada
The U.S. stance on lumber tariffs has made our friendly neighbors to the north a lot less friendly - in fact, Canada is absolutely up in arms.... The North American Free Trade Agreement arbitrators have consistently ruled in Canada's favor. After the latest - and supposedly final - such ruling a few weeks ago, the United States trade representative, Rob Portman, announced that the United States would ignore it and refuse to refund $5 billion in tariffs it has collected in the last five years. (The American position is that the ruling is pre-empted by a parallel proceeding at the World Trade Organization.) THE stance has made our friendly neighbors to the north a lot less friendly - in fact, the country is absolutely up in arms. Canada's trade minister even walked out of softwood lumber negotiations recently, to the universal applause of his countrymen. “What is there to talk about?” asked Senator Pat Carney, a former trade minister who now represents British Columbia. “We won. The Americans won't abide by the rule of law.” That pretty much sums up the sentiment of the entire country.

and Canada has the potential to be one of our biggest petroleum suppliers:

...Saudi Arabia might not have the oil reserves we think they have? And how, as a result, a full-blown energy crisis might be a lot closer than most people now think? Pretty scary.

But my Canadian friends keep telling me not to worry. Why? Because of the oil sands in Northern Alberta, which, they say, now have proven recoverable reserves of around 175 billion barrels - second only to the Saudis - and may in fact wind up having more reserves than any other spot on earth, especially as the technology to extract it improves.

This oil is not pumped from the ground, however. It's mined, and the oil is then extracted from the sands in an enormously expensive process. At $10 a barrel, this extraction process is uneconomical, but at $60 a barrel, it is a highly profitable enterprise. (Break even is around $20 a barrel.) Many of the major oil companies have made multibillion-dollar investments in the oil sands, which are now producing about one million barrels a day, most of that going straight to the United States. Neil Camarta, who heads up Shell Canada's efforts, told me that he expected production to rise to three million barrels a day by 2010.

Not having heard much about this before, I was a tad skeptical, so I called T. Boone Pickens, the 77-year-old former raider who knows more about oil markets than just about anyone I know.
Mr. Pickens turned out to be quite excited about the oil sands. “That oil is the jewel of North America,” he said. He says he thinks that production will never approach the 10 million barrels a day the Saudis currently export - “it's just too expensive to develop” - but that it could eventually get as high as 6 million barrels a day, which would cover more than half of America's oil import needs.

He also said that it would be a very long time before the oil sands would face the “declining yield curve” that the Saudis will soon have to deal with. And although the Chinese have made some small investments in Northern Alberta, it is logistically impossible to ship the oil to China. So the United States is the logical market.

Mr. Camarta told me that Vice President Dick Cheney would visit the oil sands next month. Memo to Mr. Cheney: Can you settle the softwood lumber dispute while you're there? With all that oil, do we really want Canada mad at us?

Thanks again Red States

Still trying to get my head around the factoid, cited in a recent Nation article by John Nichols and sort of discussed in this space previously, that in the last election, all cities larger than 500,000 voted for Kerry.

List of all cities over 500, 000 behind the jump, if you are curious. Quite a few are in states that voted for Bush (Houston, Miami, Nashville, etc.)

I was reminded of this oddity while reading an article in today's NYT about the phone companies penchant for sticking it to their customers via various line item billable items.

The phone companies say that the surcharges are legal and that they have the right to keep them out of the advertised price of calling plans as long as they are explained on Web sites and in service contracts.
All the while, the fees keep growing. Subscriber line charges - fees that local phone carriers charge users of their networks - on residential bills, for example, have grown by 64 percent in the last decade even though average monthly local phone bills have grown just 23 percent during the period.

In 2003 alone, companies collected more than $12 billion in subscriber line charges from their customers, according to the F.C.C.

Surcharges have proliferated, in part, because most consumers do not challenge as misleading or incorrectly calculated small amounts that look like taxes on a bill. And those who do generally find that they have little or no recourse
...The F.C.C. responded to the growing tide of customer protests by expanding its “truth in billing” rules in March to include wireless as well as landline carriers. The rules, first put in place in 1999, require that bills be “brief, clear, nonmisleading and in plain language;” that carriers not misrepresent optional fees as taxes; and that they properly recover government fees.
But there is very little enforcement; the F.C.C. has rarely penalized carriers for violating these rules.

Anyway, one of these fees is a direct subsidy of rural, Red Staters via residents of urban communities mostly, ie, Blue Staters:

Part of the problem is that the rules give phone companies ample leeway to determine what goes on a bill. Most phone companies, for example, are obligated as a cost of doing business to contribute to the Universal Service Fund, which provides services to rural communities, schools and libraries. Most companies pass along that contribution to their customers as a separate line item - even though they could add that cost to the advertised price of the calling plan, or simply absorb the cost.

Yeah, screw you too.

Freaky Story

A truly bizarre story. What exactly is one's motivation to fake being a soldier other than to get falsely directed sympathy? Seems like the hoaxers were also partly motivated by being pro-Bush supporters who didn't like that people were protesting the Iraq War. I'm sure we'll hear more about it in the near future.

Chicago Tribune:

In southern Illinois, the tale began in 2003, when student reporter Michael Brenner said he was handed a letter from a little girl saying she saw an anti-war protest on the Southern Illinois University campus and that it bothered her because her dad was a soldier. Brenner e-mailed the little girl and, as he learned more about her situation, decided to tell her story.

The story appeared in the Daily Egyptian on May 6, 2003, detailing an 8-year-old's struggles saying goodbye to her father, who was shipping off to Iraq with the 101st Airborne. According to the story, Kodee had lost her mother years earlier, so Kennings was her only blood relative.

“I don't have a mom,” Kodee was quoted saying in the newspaper story. “If he died, I don't have anywhere to go.”

Chicago Tribune's Tale of Soldier's Woeful Child Is Exposed as a Hoax
The story of an 8-year-old struggling to deal with her father's deployment to Iraq was an elaborate hoax.

From the Tribune yesterday

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Word that Sgt. Dan Kennings had been killed in Iraq crushed spirits in the Daily Egyptian newsroom. The stocky, buzz-cut soldier befriended by students at the university newspaper was dead, and the sergeant's little girl--a precocious, blond-haired child they'd grown to love--was now an orphan.

They all knew that Kodee Kennings' mother had died when Kodee was about 5. The little girl's fears and frustrations about her father being in harm's way had played out on the pages of the Daily Egyptian for nearly two years, in gut-wrenching letters fraught with misspellings, innocent observations and questions about why Daddy wasn't there to chase the monsters from under her bed.

It turns out Daddy didn't exist. And neither did Kodee.

The Tribune went to southern Illinois to learn about the bond between Kodee and Dan Kennings, and the life Kodee would face without her hero.

Instead, eight days of reporting revealed elaborate fabrications and intricate lies. There is no soldier named Dan Kennings. The charming girl people came to know as Kodee Kennings is someone else entirely, a child from an out-of-state family led to believe that she was playing a part in a documentary about a soldier.

Using role players who say they were duped--including an employee of a local Christian radio station--the woman at the center of the hoax spun a remarkable wartime tale so compelling it grabbed the hearts of young journalists, university faculty members and readers, leaving them blind to the possibility it could be a ruse.

A few more excerpts behind the jump


Reviews Y part 3

Through the end of the Ys

Catnip seems delightful

If only catnip had the effect on humans as it does on cats...

Cleo, post catnip
Relaxing in the sun, post catnip.

Tampopo in her hammockPost catnip repose for the “Pope” lounging near her wheatgrass.


Tutorial for Learning Chinese

Excellent tutorial for learning some common Chinese words encountered in a restaurant. I did study Chinese at UT-Austin, for 5 semesters, plus a few Chinese film and history classes, but it has been a long time since I've really tried to communicate in Beijing-hua.

Mei Wah

Like Calvin Trillin (most famously) and many others, I have never quite been able to sit down to a meal in a Chinese restaurant without wondering. Wondering if the Chinese characters on the menu said the same thing as the alleged English translations. Wondering what goodies I was missing from the Chinese-only specials board on the wall.

Wondering if there could be a more efficient way to make sure I got exactly what I thought I was getting, to know a little more about what I was ordering, to enable myself to make better food decisions.

So I started to learn some Chinese. I never did learn much. I still can't read a newspaper in Chinese, nor a non-food-related sign, nor hold a conversation in it. But I can read a menu in Chinese. And here I'm going to attempt to show you how to do it too.

Eater's Guide to Chinese Characters
And this is the book that inspired the web site

Original link from a food blog I've been reading recently, Slashfood. Not sure about that name (though I'm one to talk), but good stuff there. Check it out.

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I've been using a service called Furl to link to interesting web pages that I may or may not get around to blogging about. If I wasn't so lazy, and CSS challenged, I'd change how it looks to make it stand out more.

Milwaukee building
This photo of a building in the Historic 3rd Ward in Milwaukee has nothing to do with Furl, other than the Photoshop tool I used was once a resident of my Furl sidebar.

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Reviews Y - Part 2

Continuing to waste my time, listening to every cd I own in sequence.....
more Neil Young, through Yo La Tengo.

Pat Robertson

As a sort of follow up to my rant (which ended up being mostly self-censored - I suppose I don't know y'all well enough) against the fake-Christians who follow only a few of the precepts laid out by Christ, David Horsey has an appropriate cartoon....

Pat Robertson Putz

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Drug Reverses Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Damn, I could use some of this action, right about now.

Slashdot: Drug Reverses Effects of Sleep Deprivation
Ryan O'Rourke writes “According to a study led by Dr. Sam A. Deadwyler and published by the Public Library of Science Biology, a new drug called CX717 developed by Cortex Pharmaceuticals has been shown to reverse the biological and behavioral effects of sleep deprivation. Tests performed on monkeys that were subjected to 30-36 hours of sleep deprivation revealed an average test performance accuracy drop to 63 percent, but that performance was restored to 84 percent after administering CX717. During normal alert conditions, performance accuracy of the animals was improved from an average of 75 percent to 90 percent after an injection of CX717. It is also believed the drug may help prevent or restore memory loss in Alzheimer's patients.”


Umm, on the surface, this is a disturbing study. However, 746 people is not a very large sample, and the brain is a massively complicated organ. | Study: Alzheimer's first strike is part of the brain that regulates daydreaming.

The part of your brain used to daydream is the first to be attacked by Alzheimer's, a new study has found.
A team of scientists from Washington University and the University of Pittsburgh used five imaging techniques to map the brains of 746 people. The researchers found that parts of the brain involved in daydreaming, musing, mulling and reliving memories in young people were the first places where neuron-damaging plaques are deposited in people on the brink of dementia.
The data could mean that thought wears down more active regions of the brain, leaving them vulnerable to attack from Alzheimer's.
The finding, published today in the Journal of Neuroscience, seems to run counter to the popular keep-your-brain-active theory for staving off the degenerative brain disease.
“How to reconcile the present findings that may suggest 'use it and lose it' with the 'use it or lose it' theory, I just don't know,” said Randy L. Buckner, the research team's leader.

Hmmm, this is just the most 'free-flowing' area of the brain, makes a certain sense that it would be vulnerable. Things that are rote, eating, breathing, etc., are not affected by Alzheimer's. Of course, I did not follow my early inclination and become a brain specialist, so don't quote me. I do know that I am, and always have been, a day-dreamer. One does not grow up in the Ontario forests without being able to create alternative realities.





Why do fundamentalist Christians (Americans mostly) have such an urge to infringe on everybody else's lives, such a need to 'cast stones' at any society or individual that doesn't conform to the fake constructs of Leave it To Beaver television families? Where does all their rage come from? How deep is that well, anyway?

Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon and Lauren of Feministe, both more serious writers/bloggers than yours truly, have a little dustup with some finger-pointing 'chaste woman'.

A childless feminist blogger took pleasure in taking apart Sandoval's piece, accusing the writer of hating sex and hating sexually active singles. She buoyed her arguments by noting that while she herself supported having sex outside of marriage, she was not promiscuous—she'd been with the same man for four years.

Reading that, I thought, this is a woman who does not know what her life is for or who she is. She badly desires to anchor her life in a relationship, yet she has a contingency plan to escape that relationship with no strings attached, should it prove too cumbersome. She takes hormones to prevent her ovaries from releasing eggs, so that her lover's seed may pass in and out of her without the chance that she'll actually receive it.

...Two people merge antiseptically, their bodies touching but never risking lasting change in one another's life.

The jarring feeling of separation that a contracepting single woman feels after sex isn't just the perspective-shift from being connected to being apart. It's the realization, on a primal level, that even the most exciting contracepted intercourse is coitus interruptus. She hasn't fully given the gift of her body, neither has she allowed her partner to give all that he has to offer.

Now, as an actual fact, the 'childless feminist blogger' didn't take hormones to 'prevent her ovaries from releasing eggs, so that her lover's seed may pass in and out of her without the chance that she'll actually receive it.' This is just a projection on the part of the 'chaste woman', or something equally as foul.

Read Amanda's response here, and Lauren's response here, including comments.

What bothers me most about all of the negative nabobs who call themselves Christians while ignoring most of the precepts of their purported leader is their constant condemnations of others - always worried about how the liberals/feminists/anarchists/yadda-yadda-ists conduct themselves. Please, go ahead and do whatever the hell you want - pray to Pat Robertson's penis to smite his enemies, join Ralph Reed's child-flesh-eating orgies, don't covet your neighbors ass, whatever, but please don't assume that what you do with your life is what I want to do with mine.

I spent a few of my formative years in East Texas, please G-d don't make me move back amongst the fake Christians. Aren't you supposed to give away all your wealth to the poor, and devote your days to helping those less fortunate? How's that coming?

Anyway, I feel a whole rant emerging, and it just isn't worth releasing the bile to continue pointing out the myriad of hypocrisies expressed by 'chaste Christians'. I've never been married, nor has the woman I've lived with for the last five years, and neither of us have procreated, but we are quite happy, thanks. Keep your goddamn nose out of our business, ok? Bleh.


Reviews Y Neil Young, part one

Since the letter Z was so easy, I'll tackle the Ys now: Neil Young, Yo La Tango and everything else in between.

Turning a red state bright orange

Turning a red state bright orange

At a South Dakota barbecue, a colorful young woman proved why America's red-blue divide is mostly a bunch of B.S. - by Garrison Keillor:
...But Mitchell [South Dakota] enjoys you, Mademoiselle L'Orange. It admires your spunk, your gumption, your sense of hilarity, the way you swan around us plain Midwesterners and throw your head back and laugh. You are right not to assume our disapproval. Too many Orangists do this. They tend to gravitate toward the coasts, which is perfectly understandable, but you shouldn't assume the hostility of the Great In-Between. Don't alienate people who aren't necessarily your enemy. The red/blue business is 78 percent B.S. There's a lot of purple going around, and mauve and magenta. Red or blue, we know that life can be unfair, and hard work is not necessarily rewarded. The world can be merciless. Time marches on. The precipice lies ahead. This is not a Democratic or Republican point of view -- it's common knowledge.

And knowing that, we love being around you, vegan L.A. lady at the Mitchell barbecue with your orange hair and 6-inch heels. I'm wearing a navy blue suit and white shirt and thank you for not drawing hard and fast conclusions about my politics and taste in companions. All of us here wish you well and want you to be happy, Miss Orange.

Anyone with half a brain already realized that the whole red-blue metaphor was a huge oversimplification. I knew more liberals, socialists, anarchists and communists Deep in the Heart of Texas (Austin) then I know here in solidly Democratic Chicago. A recent Nation article by John Nichols contains this factoid:

local leaders and coalitions shaping a new, more aggressive politics in what has begun to be referred to as an “urban archipelago” of major metropolitan centers, aging industrial cities and college towns that represent progressive blue islands in what appears on electoral maps to be a red sea of conservatism. These are crowded islands, with enough voters to influence politics far beyond their borders, and they remain bastions of American liberalism: Every American city with a population of more than 500,000 voted for John Kerry in 2004, as did about half the cities with populations between 50,000 and 500,000. In virtually every state that backed the Democratic presidential nominee last year--even traditional Democratic strongholds like Illinois, New Jersey and Michigan--it was only thanks to overwhelming majorities in urban areas that Kerry prevailed.

Lest anyone forgot, the election in each electoral district was a lot closer than a solid red/blue state icon would indicate.

That is all.


Hey, I made the New York Times


Uncredited, but still....I'm the Chicago blogger who posted on April 21st., as mentioned at the bottom/2nd page of this article. And I note that F.A.T. is actually using an ampersand. Oh well.

Gap's New Chain Store Aims at the Fashionably Mature Woman - New York Times
And as an indication of the degree of skepticism that some members of its target audience hold for the company's approach to mature consumers, a blogger in Chicago noted on April 21, the day Gap disclosed the name of its new chain, that Forth & Towne could be called F.A.T. for short.“Let people think what they think,” Mr. Muto said. “We believe we have an exciting, unique concept these women haven't seen before.”

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Reviews - Z

Ok, the bottom of the alphabet looks easy. I'll start this insane windmill-tilting project there.
from ZZ-Top - to Zevon, Warren.

Using the great OS X freeware program Clutter to play a specific album actually works out great. Like browsing one's CD shelf, and selecting the right disc based on its cover.

Update: Doh! Forgot the great artist, Tom Ze

Bullshit protector


Bullshit Protector

Bullshit protector
Bill Moyer, 73, wears a “Bullshit Protector” flap over his ear while President George W. Bush addresses the Veterans of Foreign Wars. (AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)

Too funny not to borrow from Atrios


Infrared bridge for Sale

Two views/treatments of the same bridge near the Historic Third Ward area in Milwaukee.

Bridge Milwaukee IR2

Bridge Milwaukee IR

My feeble attempts at emulating Infrared film, helped with a Photoshop action, available here (Dave Jaseck). Thanks also to Flickr photog PixelPrints for pointing it out.

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FAT news

I wonder if anyone at Dotglu has noticed that Forth And Towne spells FAT? If one was clever, this acronym could be worked into the launch campaign, in a subtle form. Otherwise, I foresee lots of jokes being made at FAT's expense.

AdWeek: Dotglu to Direct Shoppers to New Gap Chain
Gap Inc.'s new concept brand will offer apparel for a range of occasions in a specialty retail store environment that aims to blend the variety found in departments stores with the intimacy of boutiques, according to a Gap statement. Each store will offer four styles: “Allegory” will feature feminine suiting; “Vocabulary” will offer knits and pants accented with prints and jewelry; “Prize” will be trendy and “Gap Edition” will offer the chain's essential offerings, such as t-shirts and jeans. ...Forth & Towne's entrance into the New York and Chicago markets will be unheralded by advertising, but direct marketing, interactive and promotional efforts by a variety of firms and in-house teams will target the chain's customers—women over 35-years-old—according to the client. 

Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners' interactive unit Dotglu will be handling the interactive and direct marketing portion of that work, said a client representative. Lannon is handling promotions and public relations in Chicago. ...An in-house team is also involved with the chain's debut.

and from Brandweek

Forth & Towne, the newest retail concept from Gap Inc., tomorrow will officially open in Palisades Center Mall, West Nyack, N.Y., followed by four stores in the Chicago area on Aug. 31. The Chicago area stores will be located in Algonquin Commons, Algonquin, Ill.; Fox Valley Mall, Aurora, Ill.; Westfield Old Orchard, Skokie, Ill.; and Woodfield Mall, Schaumburg, Ill.

Forth & Towne will offer apparel under four distinct brands, Allegory, Vocabulary, Prize and Gap Edition, to address women's varying style needs within an intimate setting. Allegory features suitings with feminine touches and classic, modern styles such as tailored pants, blazers and shirts. Vocabulary offers a more comfortable look in rich knits and pants accented with prints and jewelry. Prize serves up fun, wearable trends in flirty fabrics and stylish cuts. Gap Edition offers Gap apparel cut to fit a more mature body type.

Detox beer

Ummm, I despise the taste of aloe vera juice. Blech. The plant works well on cuts, burns, skin abrasions, but the extracted juice, sold in health stores near you, tastes like a blend of copper pennies, sawdust, and old gym socks. I'd rather lick a dead armadillo. Please everybody, don't try aloe vera beer, your taste buds will thank you.

Aloe Vera beer
Beer that improves liver function? ...Advaith Biotech recently launched Lady Bird Bio Beer in markets in Kerala, India. Aside from the usual ingredients of barley malt and hops, the beer also contains aloe vera extract, which one of the beer’s developers claims will help protect the liver. Sales in India have been good so far, and there is apparently interest in importing the brew to the U.S. Dr. B. Srinivasa Amarnath, the beer’s inventor, also claims that it may also help lower cholesterol. Take that, nutraceuticals.



More Milwaukee

More Milwaukee photos. Well, really the same photo, three versions.

Milwuakee shadow invert

Milwuakee shadow2

Milwuakee shadow1


BugMe Knot the database

This is a funny initiative, but really, who gives accurate information to these sites in the first place? The Trib and the Times probably know about us since we subscribe to the dead-tree edition, the remainder of these papers already think I'm a 97 year old from Boise.

BoingBoing: Pledge to poison a registration database this November 13!

The BugMeNot people are calling for an International Database Poisoning Day this November 13, and are collecting pledges to register an account with fake details at one of several major, registration-required news websites:

We, the undersigned, wish to demonstrate the pointless nature of forced web site registration schemes and the dubious demographic data they collect.

On November 13th we will each register an account using fake details at one or more of these top 10 offending sites:



Milwaukee contact sheet

milwaukee contact sheet 1

A (Photoshop generated) contact sheet for my cd-rom archive of Milwaukee photos. (missing bottom row - too personal to display)




Spent the day in Milwaukee, hanging out with a friend of Ds- T.S. - wandering around, driving around, looking at neighborhoods, yadda yadda. T.S. is a Milwaukee girl, so likes to throw down a beer or two. First time I've ever had a beer flight, but 4 of these were good, one was ok, and one sucked (top right glass, nobody finished it even, it was that bad. Much too yeasty.). After these were consumed, we had Imperial Pints of our favorites, and the rest of the afternoon was slightly blurred. I suppose my detox is over.....

More photos later.

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Technorati is ratty

| 1 Comment

Looks like I'm not the only one frustrated with Technorati....

So long, Technorati (
That's it. I've had it. No more Technorati. I've used the site for, what, a couple of years now to keep track of what people were saying about posts on and searching blogs for keywords or current events. During that time, it's been down at least a quarter of the time (although it's been better recently), results are often unavailable for queries with large result sets (i.e. this is only going to become a bigger problem as time goes on), and most of the rest of the time it's slow as molasses.
Oh there's more, much more, here.

Mr. Kottke also mentions using the tool PubSub, which I've used for quite some time, but only for specific keyword topics. I haven't been very happy with PubSub's results either, even though they do seem to have a larger universe to work from. So I get more results, but quite a lot of repetition, spammed comments and splogs.

IceRocket is another contender in this elusive category, I've only used it for a few months, but seems to be worth exploring. Mark Cuban discusses linktracker, here. However, I don't really want the visual clutter of including 'O' linking posts on the 98% of my posts that nobody has linked to. If there was a way to hide linktracker until someone actually linked to me, I might use it.

I suppose all of these services are still in development, and thus are unpolished, or have quirks to overcome.

Tomato cloth

tomato cloth

Playing around with Core Graphics for OS 10.4, via Image Tricks.

Original photo here


Rust always sleeps

Rust always sleeps

Chicago, that town on the make.

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Because this has been a long week already (damn the local FedEx office for staying open until 9 PM!), and I don't want to start working yet, I'll play the randomizer game, with annotations. I used my iTunes playlist, “New Rips” (songs added to my Library in the last 177 days, as of yet played less than 3 times).

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With Sales Plummeting, Big Tuna Claps Harder

Hmm, lets spend marketing dollars, and distract folks from a serious health hazard. What a great plan. Of course, if Big Tuna gets its wish, and everyone goes back to consuming oodles of cans of albacore, there won't be a problem because everyone will get mercury poisoning. If you are curious as to why people are 'extremely concerned', read this tale of woe.

With Sales Plummeting, Tuna Strikes Back
As awareness has increased about mercury in some tuna fish, the tuna industry has taken on an image problem with the ad campaign “Tuna - A Smart Catch.”...

As awareness has increased about the high levels of mercury in some kinds of canned tuna fish, tuna has taken on an image problem. Some consumers are shunning the product in favor of other kinds of fish or are avoiding fish altogether. Now 21 percent of consumers say they are “extremely concerned” about mercury in fish, up from 17 percent two years ago, according to the NPD Group research firm.

John Stiker, an executive vice president at Bumble Bee... and David G. Burney, executive director of the United States Tuna Foundation... do not dispute that tuna is laced with mercury, which is a known toxin, but they say that, despite government warnings, the levels are still small enough that they do not pose a serious risk.

The F.D.A. and E.P.A. guidelines issued in March 2004 advised pregnant women, women of childbearing age and young children not to consume more than six ounces, or one can, of “chunk white” albacore tuna a week. For “chunk light” tuna, which comes from the smaller skipjack fish and contains less mercury, the recommended consumption limit is 12 ounces a week.
Mercury is of particular concern for fetuses because scientists believe that mercury in the mother's body passes to the fetus and may accumulate there. Young children are vulnerable because mercury can have a damaging effect on developing brains. Scientists at the National Academy of Sciences have said that adults can also be at risk if mercury levels are high enough. Symptoms of mercury toxicity include kidney troubles, irritability, tremors, changes in vision or hearing, and memory problems.

Environmentalists believe that higher mercury levels in the atmosphere, much of which come from the emissions of coal-powered electricity plants, work their way into water sources and then into the food chain. Mr. Burney contends that because tuna are deepwater ocean fish, it takes many years for atmospheric mercury to find its way into their flesh.

And I was really happy to be able to use the phrase Big Tuna in a 'zine post.

tags technorati :

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Shipped: High Fidelity

I swear I've seen this movie, but maybe I just lived it in my days as a sometimes sober Bo-Ho in Wicker Park, living in a basement 'unfinished' loft (which meant, I had to learn how to mix cement just to fill in a hole in the floor exposing bare dirt, and there was a manhole cover in my living room, yadda yadda. I might say more on this space later- brings back all sorts of memories), circa 1994. Maybe I read the book in Austin?

Shipped: High Fidelity:
Vintage record store owner Rob Gordon (John Cusack) has been dumped by his girlfriend, Laura (Iben Hjejle), because he hasn't changed since they met. In an attempt to figure out where things went wrong, Rob revisits his top five breakups of all time. As he seeks out his former lovers to find out why they dumped him, he continues his efforts to win Laura back. Based on the Nick Hornby novel, the film is a clever, funny tribute to the music scene.

“High Fidelity” (Nick Hornby)

“High Fidelity” (Stephen Frears)

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Editorial Cartoons

I consider editorial cartoons to be a pretty good insight into the 'pulse' of the nation. Maybe I'm just rationalizing my obsession with reading so many editorial cartoons. Nonetheless, here is a few dozen cartoons on the subject of President Chicken-squawk vs. Cindy Sheehan, courtesy of Dan Cagle's editorial cartoon page.

Showdown with Sheehan:
... by all the top cartoonists!

Here was one of my faves, by Lloyd Dangle:
Dangle On Sheehan

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Garlic is godly

but there are side effects....

“Garlick maketh a man wynke, drynke, and stynke.” -Thomas Nashe (1567-1601)

Gas Mask

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Mr. Jobs does have good taste, tis true....

Macworld UK - Apple to present Scorsese's Bob Dylan documentary:
Apple is underwriting the TV broadcast of Martin Scorsese's documentary of Apple CEO Steve Jobs' favourite artist, Bob Dylan. The movie, “No Direction Home: Bob Dylan” will make its US broadcast premiere on local US network PBS on September 26 and 27. It's a two-part film which includes never-seen footage and which focuses on Dylan's life and music between 1961-1966. It also includes interviews with Allen Ginsberg, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez and other artists and musicians from the time.

“A DVD version of the documentary, featuring additional never-before-seen footage, will be released on September 20. Apple will present the DVD and international version of ”No Direction Home: Bob Dylan,“ and is the corporate underwriter of the PBS broadcast,” the company explains.

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Focus on Porno

I'd be willing to place a small wager that the 'overwhelming' amount of protest letters/emails received all are from the same boilerplate chain letter, originating from just a few sources. In fact, seems like only 6,000 letters is now classified as 'overwhelming' response. I could get 6,000 letters calling for withdrawal from Iraq in a day or two, does that mean the government will listen to me? Doubt it.

Feds Urge Delay for '.xxx' Domain
After receiving a pile of last-minute protests, officials push for postponing creation of a porn-only internet province.
... The department received nearly 6,000 letters and e-mails expressing concerns about the impact of pornography on families and children and objecting to setting aside a domain suffix for it, he said.

Update, per boingboing, I was correct. The Family Retro Council of Elders-who-wish-we-lived-in the-14th-century or whatever the heck they're called is the ones who orchestrated the complaints. Only 6,000 mindless drones bothered to fill in their own names on the letters.The FRC members must be deflated after all the man-on-man sex they had to watch as part of the FRC powerpoint proposal.
Text of FRC boycott jihad:

CONTACT: Amber Hildebrand, (202) 393-2100

Washington, D.C. -- Family Research Council has launched an effort to
mobilize its supporters against the proposal to establish a .XXX
domain for porn Webs sites. Tony Perkins, President of Family Research
Council released the following statement on earlier today:

“Pornographers will be given even more opportunities to flood our
homes, libraries and society with pornography through the .XXX
domain. The Internet Corporation for Assigning Names and Numbers
(ICANN), the Internet's nonprofit body with authority for development,
has indicated that it will establish an .XXX domain for porn Web
sites. To some this may initially seem like a good idea but it is one
that has been considered and rejected as ineffectual for years. This
will NOT require pornographers who are on the .com domain to relocate
to the .XXX domain.
”Attorney General Gonzales is launching a major effort to prosecute
the porn industry. He intends to smash these criminal enterprises on
the Internet and elsewhere with a new obscenity strike force. This is
the only way to handle hardcore pornographers...
Perkins ends his message with a call to action for Family Research
Council supporters to get in touch with the Commerce Department and
ICANN to voice their opposition to the .XXX domain.

rest here

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Heil, Heil

Heil, Heil

Yeesh, hate to be a receptionist at this firm....
Heil, Heil, how may I direct your call


Department of Could be True

Not sure of the veracity of this report, but sounds plausible to me. Something is 'off' in the mind of our leader. He seems so tightly wound.
Capitol Hill Blue: Is Bush Out of Control?:
Buy beleaguered, overworked White House aides enough drinks and they tell a sordid tale of an administration under siege, beset by bitter staff infighting and led by a man whose mood swings suggest paranoia bordering on schizophrenia.
They describe a President whose public persona masks an angry, obscenity-spouting man who berates staff, unleashes tirades against those who disagree with him and ends meetings in the Oval Office with “get out of here!”
In fact, George W. Bush’s mood swings have become so drastic that White House emails often contain “weather reports” to warn of the President’s demeanor. “Calm seas” means Bush is calm while “tornado alert” is a warning that he is pissed at the world.
Decreasing job approval ratings and increased criticism within his own party drives the President’s paranoia even higher. Bush, in a meeting with senior advisors, called Senator Majority Leader Bill Frist a “god-damned traitor” for opposing him on stem-cell research.
“There’s real concern in the West Wing that the President is losing it,” a high-level aide told me recently.
A year ago, this web site discovered the White House physician prescribed anti-depressants for Bush. The news came after revelations that the President’s wide mood swings led some administration staffers to doubt his sanity.
Although GOP loyalists dismissed the reports an anti-Bush propaganda, the reports were later confirmed by prominent George Washington University psychiatrist Dr. Justin Frank in his book Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President. Dr. Frank diagnosed the President as a “paranoid meglomaniac” and “untreated alcoholic” whose “lifelong streak of sadism, ranging from childhood pranks (using firecrackers to explode frogs) to insulting journalists, gloating over state executions and pumping his hand gleefully before the bombing of Baghdad” showcase Bush’s instabilities.
“I was really very unsettled by him and I started watching everything he did and reading what he wrote and watching him on videotape. I felt he was disturbed,” Dr. Frank said. “He fits the profile of a former drinker whose alcoholism has been arrested but not treated.”
Dr. Frank’s conclusions have been praised by other prominent psychiatrists, including Dr. James Grotstein, Professor at UCLA Medical Center, and Dr. Irvin Yalom, MD, Professor Emeritus at Stanford University Medical School....
The President of the United States is out of control. How long can the ship of state continue to sail with a madman at the helm?
© Copyright 2005 by Capitol Hill Blue

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Crimes along a route is a freaky-cool use of the Google maps - the latest feature allows you to click on a route (say the route from your office to a nearby restaurant), and see which crimes have been reported, and where. Maybe I ought to make my route slightly different, there is a lot of aggravated assaults on this list (click the button 'show crimes on route')..... Crimes along a route This page displays crimes along a specific path in Chicago. It's useful if, say, you walk down a certain set of streets each evening, you take a certain bus route, or your kids take a certain path to school.

Link via GapersBlock

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Governor Stupid strikes again

The brain-dead chump who happens to be governor of Illinois has struck again, refusing to treat 18-21 year olds as adults when it comes to tattoos. I really don't get the point of legislating such matters - I don't want the government to be involved in these sorts of decisions, ever. Are there not more pressing issues than whether 18 year old navy ensigns can get a freakin' anchor tattoo? I can't believe I voted for this chump when he ran (successfully) for U.S. Congress.

The governor we like to call G-Nad has done it again, this time paternalistically vetoing legislation that would have allowed 18-21 year olds to get permanent tattoos.

Our reporter Brendan McCarthy pretty much made the argument why this is silly in the lead of his news story on the veto:
At age 20, you can buy cigarettes, enlist in the military, purchase a home, carry a firearm and run for political office. You can't, however, get a permanent tattoo in Illinois.

The story went on to serve up this jaw-dropping passage of Blago-think:
(Gov. Rod) Blagojevich said most 18-year-olds do not have the proper judgment to make such a permanent decision when it comes to tattoos.  “As a parent, I don't want my daughters to rush to get tattoos on their 18th birthdays,”  Blagojevich said in a released statement. “At that age, most kids are still in high school and don't have the judgment or perspective to decide on something as permanent as tattooing your skin. Teenagers may not realize getting a tattoo is a decision they'll live with, and potentially regret, for the rest of their lives.”

Read more, including some good comments, at Zorn's new online zine location, called, for lack of any creative impulse, Eric Zorn's Notebook.

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Blue Point Oyster No More

Not that I'll really miss Blue Point Oyster Bar, I only ever went to the bar (which used to be Bar Louie), but today as I walked by (sans camera, unfortunately), there was a typed message announcing that Blue Point was closed. Someone else added words to the effect of, “To pick up your paycheck, call 773-tough-cookies”. Doh!

Oh, and maybe the new resident will notice the ghosts of Haymarket Riot victims as well....

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Looks like another of our former clients is moving corporate headquarters to be closer to us. Ahem. Actually, we never got much business from OfficeMax, just made a few gazillion proposals and sat through a few dozen conference calls, and plane flights to Ohio, center of the universe. Probably the merger with BoiseCascade queered our progress, some key people we were talking to left the company to explore new opportunities.

OfficeMax To Choose New Chicago Headquarters:
OfficeMax Inc., the nation's third-largest office-products retailer, said Monday it intends to choose a new Chicago-area site by the end of September for an expanded corporate headquarters that also will house its retail operation now based in Ohio. ... OfficeMax was based outside Cleveland from its founding in 1988 until 2003, when it was acquired by Boise Cascade Corp. Boise Cascade then changed its name to OfficeMax, sold off its wood products business for $3.7 billion and moved its headquarters to Itasca, 20 miles northwest of Chicago, where it now has 900 employees.

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Top DMAs 2004-2005

I don't why, but tracking down the current top 20 U.S. markets in google was difficult for us today. Also, I swear I read somewhere that Detroit is finally dropping out of the top ten (to be replaced by Houston, I'm assuming). Here's the 2004-2005 Nielsen list:

1 New York 7,355,710
2 Los Angeles 5,431,140
3 Chicago 3,417,330
4 Philadelphia 2,919,410
5 Boston 2,391,840
6 San Francisco-Oak-San Jose 2,359,870
7 Dallas-Ft. Worth 2,292,760
8 Washington, DC (Hagrstwn) 2,241,610
9 Atlanta 2,059,450
10 Detroit 1,943,930
11 Houston 1,902,810
12 Seattle-Tacoma 1,690,640
13 Tampa-St. Pete (Sarasota) 1,671,040
14 Minneapolis-St. Paul 1,665,540
15 Phoenix (Prescott), AZ 1,596,950
16 Cleveland-Akron (Canton) 1,556,670
17 Miami-Ft. Lauderdale 1,496,810
18 Denver 1,401,760
19 Sacramnto-Stktn-Modesto 1,315,030
20 Orlando-Daytona Bch-Melbrn 1,303,150

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Cook County Pork


Bush deigns to visit Illinois, signs off on massive pork bill :

Full list found at ( to be precise). So in other words, if every country got this much cash to make various 'improvements', then the Republicans have now embraced socialism and public works. Good! I wish they would make this a plank in their party platform so the me-too Democrats could follow suit. Socialism for everybody!

I'm just excited about improvements at the mess at the Halsted bridge over the North Branch, and $2.4 million for bike paths. Oh, and $4.4 million for an underpass at Damen/Fullerton/Elston is pretty exciting - that is easily one of the most sluggish intersections in the city, and a horror if you get caught at rush hour (on bike or in a car).

I'm sort of scared about the line item for $15mm earmarked for North-South Wacker, we use that a lot.

Full list after the jump

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Carnivale in the afternoon light

the new, still unnamed Jerry Kleiner restaurant in the former Drink location has a sentimental meaning - D and I had our first date there. [update now called, Carnivale]

From Chicago Mag-Rag:

Dish: Any other deals cooking?
Bill Marovitz: The one I’m most proud of and I’m most anticipating is the location that used to be Drink [702 W. Fulton St.]. I made a handshake deal with Scott [DeGraff] and Michael [Morton] for me to buy that property. My partners, Bud and Bob Cataldo, and I sat down with Jerry Kleiner and began working on a [still unnamed] Latin concept.

Dish: What will it be like?
Bill Marovitz: It’s going to be bright, romantic, passionate, energetic, and a fun experience the likes of which doesn’t exist anywhere else in this city. The inside is huge; we have two floors and four bars. The one thing it’s not: it’s definitely not dining. You are not going to come in and have a quiet dining experience. It’s entertainment. As the evening gets later, you will hear some wonderful Latin music.

Dish: When will it open?
Bill Marovitz: Around the 22nd of September.

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Movie slut

I really am a movie-holic. My netflix queue has grown to over 200 movies, some of which are movies that I've seen before but wish to see again, like Touch of Evil, Yojimbo or Being John Malkovich, some are movies that I've read about, like That Obscure Object of Desire or Love on a Diet.

In the most recent Vanity Fair, there is a pull-out sponsored by the Turner Classic Movies channel: 50 Greatest Films of All Time. About half are movies I would have chosen, another bunch are arguably some sort of classic (Dirty Harry, or Goldfinger, for instance), but I don't see how Die Hard is even in the top 500 movies. And for some inexplicable reason, Will Ferrell's Old School in included - Dreamworks must have ponied up a huge, huge wad of cash. Maybe Old School is fun to watch (I don't know, I haven't had the pleasure), but inclusion in 50 Greatest Film lists was not one of the producers goals. Perhaps it was just a cynical ploy by Vanity Fair to piss off the film nerds.

While we're on the subject, here are a few one sentence reviews of movies witness recently:
21 Grams. Slightly implausible, but decent drama.

Assassination of Richard Nixon - unrelentingly dour, which gets a bit much after a while. Apparently loosely based on a real fellow, Samuel Byck, who must have been such a pleasure to know. I couldn't sit through the entire film, skipped ahead a few scenes.

Troy - 2 stars, with special note of the unrealistic battle scenes. Ancient battles didn't have casualty rates in the hundreds of thousands, daily. The Trojan war lasted 9-10 years, and the Greek army was about 100,000 men at the beginning. Also, unless my reading of history is really off, I assume that most hand to hand combats lasted more than one sword stroke, unless your enemy was a total putz. Brad Pitt's pectoral muscles killed at least 500 soldiers in about 2 minutes of combat time. Not good.

Alexander - 1 star, even worse than Troy. Collin Farrell's bad hair-dye job kept distracting me from all the over-acting. The whole Alexander is bisexual media hype was over-played, there is only a hint of any man-love action, not enough to justify all the hand-wringing. And, the historic Alexander was bisexual anyway.

The Longest Yard /Deliverance inspired by a BIll Simmons column, had a mini Burt Reynolds marathon. Both of these movies (which, surprisingly, I had not seen before) exceeded expectations.

Sex and Lucia
Much better than expected. 3.5 stars. Convoluted, expanding plot of a suicidal novelist and his girlfriend, Lucia (Paz Vega). A Spanish magic-realist plot. Minus .5 a star for the film stock being so washed out. I don't know if it was intended, or just poor mastering/conversion to DVD, but it was distracting.

Water, water everywhere, but...

I'm assuming that some Sci-Fi writer has already written a book about the upcoming fresh water shortage, and that several stories have been optioned by Hollywood, but if not, I really ought to throw together a treatment and a few pages of script ideas. Seems like such an obvious story, and one that everyone already understands, consciously, or not.

Growth Stirs a Battle to Draw More Water From the Great Lakes: The authorities who control the water fear that without strict rules, water-starved western cities will knock at the door. Waukesha (WI) has sucked so much water from its deep aquifer that it is now looking to the vast blue expanse of Lake Michigan, just as Chicagoans once eyed its water.

But the authorities who control some of the largest bodies of fresh water in the world are not sure that any of it should go to communities like Waukesha, which is 15 miles from the lake's shore but outside of its watershed.
Their fear is that without strict rules on who gets Great Lakes water and who does not, water-starved western cities will eventually knock at the door.

“Today the economics are not there to say we're going to take all the water in the Great Lakes and ship it to Phoenix and Vegas,” said Todd Ambs, the water division director of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “But water's not getting cheaper. Twenty-five, 30, 40 years from now, the economics are going to be different. We've got to have a system in place to deal with that.”

and especially as other metropolitan area exhaust their water supplies, the Great Lakes is going to be an epicenter of political and business intrigue....

And Michigan has told a Nestlé subsidiary that if it wants to increase production of its Ice Mountain bottled water in Mecosta Township, Mich., all of the additional water pumped out of the ground must be “delivered and sold within the Great Lakes basin.” The company is fighting the requirement in federal court.

In the last 25 years, ideas have been suggested to build a slurry pipe that would send Great Lakes water to help Wyoming mines and to build a 400-mile canal between the Missouri River in South Dakota and Lake Superior. New York City has raised the possibility of using Lake Erie water to ease droughts.

The Great Lakes basin has “more and more demands for water and certainly more and more development,” Mr. Ambs said. “One of the reasons we're looking to have a water management strategy is preparation for the future.”
In 2001, the eight states that border the Great Lakes, along with Ontario and Quebec, two provinces within the lakes' watershed, pledged to develop a plan to manage access to the lakes' water.

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After a day of little progress....

Robert Heinlein:

“Progress isn't made by early risers. It's made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something.”

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New Audioscrobbler site

Looks like the new Audioscrobbler site was finally launched, which basically merged with sister site Last.FM. Looks nice, though I haven't really explored the nuances yet. Hope it is more robust than previously.

Audioscrobbler :: Home:
Audioscrobbler Has Evolved
We've been working on a brand new site for a few weeks now.

Here it is: The New Site!

Update your links and bookmarks if need be.
We'll set up automatic-redirection next week, to ease the transition. Happy 'scrobbling :)

The site will re-surface soon as a development platform,
which will allow lots more exciting applications to be built around your music profile.

There'll be webservices and rss feeds for everything imaginable, we promise :)

Thanks the godz for optical speakers....

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Self Portrait number 9

Self Portrait number 9

Slightly photoshopped self portrait, taken at the doorway to the (over-rated) disco/restaurant/night-club, Nine.

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Republican Lites

Can we mail order a new opposition party please? The Democratic Party should be 'returned to sender', and replaced with a political party that actually, even occasionally, acts in my best interests, as opposed to the interests of corporate behemoths.

Also, add this to the sadly growing stack of press clippings in which Barack Obama proves, sunny rhetoric aside, he's just another centrist, craven politician, and not some progressive white knight. | Selling out the environment:
Harder for progressives and enviros to swallow was the support it [the new Energy Bill boondoggle] got from Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., who expressed disappointment that the bill wasn't more bold but still went so far as to call the legislation “a first step toward decreasing America's dependence on foreign oil.” It could more credibly be described as yet another step toward subsidizing Illinois corn farmers for ethanol production that will be of dubious environmental benefit.
Bingaman and Obama were far from alone: Over half of the Democratic caucus in the Senate voted for the bill. Most of these yea votes came from senators whose states stood to benefit markedly from the subsidies, while most of the nay votes were cast by senators from non-energy-producing states.
Critics argue that this split among Dems wasn't just a practical failure that gave way to shoddy energy policy; it was also a symbolic failure for the Democratic Party at large.
...Four years, two failed conference attempts, and one filibuster after the Republican leadership first introduced the Bush-backed energy bill into Congress, the controversial legislation was signed into law Monday by the president, yielding a major victory for the White House -- and exposing the continued inability of Democrats to rally around a unified vision and stay on message. When House and Senate negotiators met to hammer out a compromise version of the bill in conference committee last month, it was predictably stripped of nearly all its environmentally ambitious provisions, including one requiring utilities to generate 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. What's left is a dizzying $14.5 billion in energy-industry subsidies, only about 20 percent of which will go to renewable-energy development.

more here, and here

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Mick Jagger's new tune, Neo Con

Ha, good one, Sir Mick. I know it's probably all hype, but still, I'm interested in hearing it.

Newsweek: It was all built on two acoustic guitars, and in such a sparse and stripped-down way that if you tried to elaborate on it later you'd lose the whole essence of it.“ The Stones' new music sounds more spontaneous than most of their recent efforts, and Jagger sounds angrier than he has in years. Since the band's last studio album, Jagger has ended his 23-year relationship with wife Jerry Hall, and was taken to court over an illegitimate child he fathered with a Brazilian model, which may explain such lyrics as ”Oh no! Not you again, fucking up my life/It was bad the first time around/Better take my own advice.“ But the most searing moment, on a song called ”Sweet Neo Con,“ isn't personal but political. ”You call yourself a Christian, I call you a hypocrite/You call yourself a patriot, well I think you're full of shit.

”It is direct,“ Jagger says with a laugh. ”Keith said [he breaks into a dead-on Keith imitation], 'It's not really metaphorical.' I think he's a bit worried because he lives in the U.S.“ Jagger smiles. ”But I don't.“

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GWB and his long vacation

Wonkette notes:Wonkette - What's Doing in Crawford:

Does anybody remember why it is that Bush went to Crawford for four weeks? Scott McClellan brushed off detractors with this folksy argument:
Spending time outside of Washington always gives the president a fresh perspective of what's on the minds of the American people. It's a time, really, for him to shed the coat and tie and meet with folks out in the heartland and hear what's on their minds.
Hey, that's funny, there's someone just outside the ranch who'd love see him!

The mother of an American soldier killed in Iraq led a protest march on President Bush's ranch here on Saturday, prompting the White House to send two senior officials to meet her after she was blocked by the authorities from approaching Mr. Bush's home. Okay, really, we understand Sheehan's pulling something of a publicity stunt. At least her hand-picked audience doesn't already agree with her unlike some presidents we know.

Ha ha. She's right, actually. Why can't GWB, work-a-holic-not, break away from his busy vacation schedule and meet Sheehan? And how convenient for Bush that the entire world has stopped for vacation as well. There's nothing, nothing at all going on anywhere that might need Presidential leadership, right?

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iTunes week of August 8 2005

No need to look, it might be ugly.

Ibrahim Ferrer dies at 78 RIP

Even though the Republican White House refused him entry (because he was too Cuban or some weak excuse), Mr. Ferrer was still a hero, gentleman, and an artist.

Ibrahim Ferrer dies at 78:
News: Late-blooming Buena Vista star collapses after returning from European tour.

“Buena Vista Social Club Presents Ibrahim Ferrer” (Ibrahim Ferrer)

“Buenos Hermanos” (Ibrahim Ferrer)

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Rail against whatever you've got

err, something like that.

Rail and shadows in my apartment, in the early morning light. Click all sizes for larger view.

These tasty yellow squash, purchased yesterday from the Green City Farmer's Market in Lincoln Park, ended up as the main accent in a delicious stir-fry, served over garlicky rice. Mmmmm.

Michael Jordan shaved head look

I'm watching a classic 1988 Bulls vs. Pistons game (first aired on April 3, 1988) on NBA-TV, and I figured out why Jordan shaved his head the following summer. In this game, Jordan still has his normal hair, but is rapidly thinning in front. Somewhere buried on the Bulls bench (and playing a few minutes in 1st Q/2nd Q) is a center Granville Waiters, who had an advanced state of male pattern baldness, as much as Bozo the Clown in fact.

I'm sure a young Jordan, razzing Waiters one day in practice suddenly realized that he might be next, and decided to shave his remaining hair off to avoid the embarrassment. Perfectly logical.

update, rewound the TiVo, and Waiters definitely was the guy that started the trend. See this photo. Nuff said


Granville Waiters
Waiters, as a Rocket.

Jordan's Hair Trigger, as it were. Ahem.


Probably as a side effect of my detox, we awoke at 5 am, and decided to catch a rare sunrise over Lake Michigan (rare because we usually are asleep)

DKL in the Sunrise

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Cows on the Roof

Isn't that a Clash song?

Cow meat

Anyway, trying to teach myself how to add lettering to building walls (look at larger version), which is still only partially plausible in this example of a garage in Evanston (the cow is actually there, but the graffiti isn't). I think I flipped the photo too, somehow the cow looked better on the right.

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Metris used to be a client of ours - they bought ads on 6 million paper bags in 8-9 markets back in the summer of 2001, then tried a couple of other programs with us as well (nothing as large unfortunately). Certainly our biggest client for that year. And now, they are no more. Oh well, we haven't called them in years, and most of our contacts are no longer with the company.

HSBC to Acquire Metris for $1.59 Billion in Cash:
Independent credit card issuers have become an endangered species in the financial service sector this summer as the big banks, in search of higher profits, try to acquire them.

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Novak Man of Mystery

Some good photoshops of Novakula here - West Coast Cap Peelers » » Robert Novak, Photoshop Target:

Novak: No, but I’ve had the same experience that she did. A lot of my trouble in the world is that they’ve doctored my make-up and colorized me in a lot of newspapers on my picture. So, I sympathize with her.

HENRY: This is breaking news. I’ve haven’t heard this.

That’s right, Bob. Your image problems have nothing to do with being an amoral turd who decided to out a CIA agent to push a political agenda. If your world is so fragile that a few (so-called) doctored photographs will cause it to tilt on its axis…well, that sounds like a challenge, doesn’t it?
Sure it does.
But don’t let us have all the fun—If you come up with some amusing Novak pieces of your own, send them in (jl *at* 1115 *dot* org) and we will publish them in a future post. We can’t let Katherine Harris take all the wacky makeup-related conspiracies for herself, you know.

Intelligent Design, isn't

Krugman draws a line from Irving Kristol's Supply Side Economic Think Tanks/Propoganda Farms to the current Intelligent Design discussion. The reality-based, science-appreciating, secular humanist citizens should all be scared. I know I am.

Design for Confusion - New York Times:

You might have thought that a strategy of creating doubt about inconvenient research results could work only in soft fields like economics. But it turns out that the strategy works equally well when deployed against the hard sciences.

The most spectacular example is the campaign to discredit research on global warming. Despite an overwhelming scientific consensus, many people have the impression that the issue is still unresolved. This impression reflects the assiduous work of conservative think tanks, which produce and promote skeptical reports that look like peer-reviewed research, but aren't. And behind it all lies lavish financing from the energy industry, especially ExxonMobil.

There are several reasons why fake research is so effective. One is that nonscientists sometimes find it hard to tell the difference between research and advocacy - if it's got numbers and charts in it, doesn't that make it science?

Even when reporters do know the difference, the conventions of he-said-she-said journalism get in the way of conveying that knowledge to readers. I once joked that if President Bush said that the Earth was flat, the headlines of news articles would read, “Opinions Differ on Shape of the Earth.” The headlines on many articles about the intelligent design controversy come pretty close.

Finally, the self-policing nature of science - scientific truth is determined by peer review, not public opinion - can be exploited by skilled purveyors of cultural resentment. Do virtually all biologists agree that Darwin was right? Well, that just shows that they're elitists who think they're smarter than the rest of us.

Which brings us, finally, to intelligent design. Some of America's most powerful politicians have a deep hatred for Darwinism. Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, blamed the theory of evolution for the Columbine school shootings. But sheer political power hasn't been enough to get creationism into the school curriculum. The theory of evolution has overwhelming scientific support, and the country isn't ready - yet - to teach religious doctrine in public schools.

But what if creationists do to evolutionary theory what corporate interests did to global warming: create a widespread impression that the scientific consensus has shaky foundations?

...The important thing to remember is that like supply-side economics or global-warming skepticism, intelligent design doesn't have to attract significant support from actual researchers to be effective. All it has to do is create confusion, to make it seem as if there really is a controversy about the validity of evolutionary theory. That, together with the political muscle of the religious right, may be enough to start a process that ends with banishing Darwin from the classroom.

Remainder here

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Chicago Corruption

For a moment, San Diego seemed like it was going to take over the corruption capital of the U.S. title from Chicago. But in the last couple of weeks, Chicago has lapped San Diego to re-affirm its moniker as the Big Spud on the Take.

Chicago Tribune | Millennium Park kickbacks charged

A former Chicago Park District official accepted cash, vacations to ski resorts, a pricey bicycle and even a manicure for steering millions of dollars in work at Millennium Park to a suburban landscaping company, federal authorities charged Thursday. Shirley McMayon, the Park District's former director of natural resources, pocketed more than $137,000 in financial benefits from two executives of James Michael Inc., the Mundelein-based landscaper, an indictment charged. In return for the payoffs, McMayon, 47, now of Park City, Utah, improperly used her influence to steer about $8 million in Park District work to the firm between 2000 and 2004, authorities charged. Michael Lowecki, the company owner, and Kevin Haas, its former chief operations officer, were also charged in the indictment. “They used the Park District coffers as sort of their personal playground,” U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald said at a news conference announcing the charges. Fitzgerald said that “one of the kickers in this case” was that the contractors didn't pay for most of the bribes themselves, instead padding their invoices to pass the cost of about $60,000 in payoffs to taxpayers. Among the phony invoices was a bill for about $10,000 for a non-existent global positioning system, he said. “This is the $10,000 GPS that can't be found,” Fitzgerald quipped.

Even Barrack Obama is worried about being to close to the unfolding scandals...

U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) hedged Thursday when asked if he would endorse Mayor Richard Daley in a re-election run, but Obama made it clear he is concerned about City Hall corruption.

“I think taxpayers deserve a fair day's work for a day's pay,” Obama told reporters after appearing with Daley and other fellow Democrats at a downtown news conference on road construction. “They expect that people who are hired are hired because of their qualifications and not because of their contacts.

”I think the [federal] investigation will proceed, and my hope and expectation would be that across the board--not just in the city, but in the state and at the federal level--we create a culture where taxpayers can respect the work that politicians do, since I am one of them.“

Daley's administration has been rocked by a federal probe that has uncovered bribes in return for city trucking business and, most recently, a scheme in which senior city officials allegedly rigged evaluations to favor politically connected people for city jobs and promotions.

Altercation gets letters

Wow. Great analogy - Tony Soprano and the Bush family.

Altercation book club - Altercation -

Name: Steven Hart
Hometown:  Highland Park, N.J.

One of the things that redeemed the second season of “The Sopranos,” which had gone all wobbly after a good start, was the unblinkingly cruel subplot about David Scatino, a boyhood friend of mobster Tony Soprano, who talks his way into one of Tony’s high-stakes poker games and almost instantly buries himself under an unpayable mountain of debts. It quickly turns out that Tony knew about Scatino’s compulsive gambling problem, but let him into the game anyway because Scatino and his wife own a successful sporting-goods store.

What follows is more frightening than any monster movie. After siphoning out Scatino’s bank account (including his son’s college fund), Tony and his cronies gorge themselves on the store’s credit lines, buying up easily resold big-ticket merchandise and leaving the store awash in hundreds of thousands of dollars in bills. The business dissolves into bankruptcy, taking with it Scatino’s marriage (his wife divorces him), his family (his son, cheated out of an Ivy League future, hates him) and a good portion of his sanity. In the end, as he prepares to embark on his new life as a drifter and day-laborer, Scatino asks Tony why he let him destroy himself. After all, haven’t they known each other since childhood? Tony replies with the story of the frog and the scorpion. “This is what I am,” Tony says. “This is what I do.”
The Bush family has often been referred to as the WASP version of the Corleones, but the Soprano clan makes for a much better comparison. At its best, “The Sopranos” is an acid mockery of the phony gravitas of the three “Godfather” movies. Where Michael Corleone is heroically evil, an international player who consorts with statesmen and the Vatican before succumbing to his tragic flaw, Tony Soprano is a sewer rat engaged in the grubby business of preying on human weakness and fear -– when his fall comes, it will be tragic only to himself. Until then, however, he’s going to make as much money as he can for himself and his buddies, and leave the rest of the world holding the bill.

I'm not just using hyperbole here. I do think that when honest historians assess the Bush administration, they will find it more useful to treat George II and his Republican cronies as a criminal organization rather than a political party. The best tool for analyzing Bush's policies is not historiography, but the procedures used by federal agents as they pursue a RICO investigation into a mobbed-up business.

read rest here

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Today is the third day of my liver detox (milk thistle and other herbs, coupled with avoidance of coffee, booze, sugar, flour, meat, etc.), which is scheduled to last for 14 days. Yikes. I'll admit to being a little cranky, short tempered and full of vinegar, but what I didn't expect was the damn headache-that-never-leaves. I'm assuming that's from skipping my morning coffee for the first time in over 20 years.

Last night was extremely difficult, as we went out with friends to Japonais, and then to Hotel Victor. There were several drinks that had my name on them, but I triumphed over my mighty thirst...and over some delectable lobster spring rolls.

  • Proprietary Blend
  • Selenium (L-selenomethionine)
  • Milk Thistle Seed p.e. (80% silymarin)
  • Phosphatidyl Choline (soy lecithin)
  • Dandelion Root p.e. (4:1 extract)
  • L-Methionine
  • L_Taurine
  • NAC (N-Acetyl-Cysteine)
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid*
  • Artichoke Leaf p.e. (4:1 extract, 2% cynarin)
  • Green Tea Leaf p.e. (50% polyphenols)
  • Tumeric Root p.e. (95% curcumin)
  • LiverDETOX™ II-Evening Formula
  • Proprietary Blend
  • Belleric myrobalan fruit (Terminalia bellerica)
  • Boerhavia diffuse root & herb
  • Eclipta alba root & herb 4.5% waldelactones
  • Tinospora cordifolia stem
  • Andrographis paniculata leaf (10% andrographolides)
  • Picrorhiza Kurroa root

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Allegiance Telecom sucks

So, our telecom provider, Allegiance Telecom, now purchased by XO Communications, has had problems with POP/SMTP service for two days (ie, all of DLA's business email). We finally called, and were told that they have no idea what's wrong, nor an ETA for when service will be restored. Gee, thanks! I just hope nothing important gets lost from the outage.

1. The facilities-based competitive local-exchange carrier offered telecommunications services in 36 US markets. But fast-growing Allegiance, which also offered Internet services through its subsidiary, ran into tough times that forced the company to seek voluntary restructuring under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. In a bankruptcy auction, XO Communications outbid others with a cash and stock offer valued at $645 million. Qwest, Level 3, and Corvis had also shown interest in acquiring the troubled company.
In 2001 Allegiance Telecom acquired a Tier 1 Internet backbone unit (Intermedia Business Internet) from WorldCom (now MCI). The next year it bought WorldCom's customer premise equipment (CPE) sales and maintenance business (Shared Technologies Fairchild).

2. Targeting small and midsized businesses, the competitive local-exchange carrier has invested in the development of metropolitan fiber-optic ring networks that are connected by a Tier 1 fiber backbone network that stretches across the US. It offers a variety of access options including fiber direct to buildings, DSL (digital subscriber line), and fixed-wireless technologies. XO also offers local, long-distance, and Internet services. Nearly tapped out of cash, XO sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, emerging in 2003 with financier Carl Icahn in control (he owns 61%). It has since acquired bankrupt Allegiance Telecom.

Hoovers Online And if I knew how to make a subscript, these numbers would make freakin' sense. --update; fixed around 6 pm. Unacceptable for email to be down for so long.

Uh oh

I'm in trouble now (as are most web blogs zines).

Samuel Johnson “What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.”

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Alien Hoopsters 6 on 6

Alien Hoopsters 6 on 6
Sculpture found somewhere near Northwestern Hospital (aka Chicago Memorial, if you've ever seen the movie, The Fugitive). Flipped around in Photoshop because the aliens wanted to play full court. Note: aliens use multiple balls/goals, so their game is faster moving than the NBA. Sort of like 3-D chess as played on Star Trek.

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President Work-a-holic not

Glad to see that some people don't hate the French (and other socialist Western European nations who don't promote working-to-death) as much as we thought....Hope sincerely that this summer Bush doesn't skim over a memo proclaiming “Bin Laden planning to attack the U.S. soon”, and actually at least pretends to run the country.

Vacationing Bush Poised to Set a Record:

WACO, Tex., Aug. 2 -- President Bush is getting the kind of break most Americans can only dream of -- nearly five weeks away from the office, loaded with vacation time.
The president departed Tuesday for his longest stretch yet away from the White House, arriving at his Crawford ranch in the evening to clear brush, visit with family and friends, and tend to some outside-the-Beltway politics. By historical standards, it is the longest presidential retreat in at least 36 years.

The August getaway is Bush's 49th trip to his cherished ranch since taking office and Tuesday was the 319th day that Bush has spent, entirely or partially, in Crawford -- roughly 20 percent of his presidency to date, according to Mark Knoller, a CBS Radio reporter known for keeping better records of the president's travel than the White House itself. Weekends and holidays at Camp David or at his parents' compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, bump up the proportion of Bush's time away from Washington even further.

Bush's long vacations are more than a curiosity: They play into diametrically opposite arguments about this leadership style. To critics and late-night comics, they symbolize a lackadaisical approach to the world's most important day job, an impression bolstered by Bush's periodic two-hour midday exercise sessions and his disinclination to work nights or weekends. The more vociferous among Bush's foes have noted that he spent a month at the ranch shortly before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when critics assert he should have been more attentive to warning signs.

I wish I could take 20% of the year off, but then my job isn't as important as the Residents.

I wonder who won?

Did the L.A. Times take a solemn, double-super secret oath not to hurt General Motors' feelings by reporting how crappy G.M. makes its cars, or how poorly the CEO's performance is? Or did G.M. realize that they needed all the advertising outlets they could get, because without advertising, nobody except for employees is even buying a Pontiac Firebird? Only the Shadow Knows....

NYT: G.M. Ads Return to a Newspaper:

An ad for the Pontiac Solstice represented the return of General Motors to The Los Angeles Times after more than three months of refusing to advertise in its pages.

G.M.'s absence shortly followed a column by the Pulitzer Prize winning car critic Dan Neil in April, in which he called for the dismissal of G.M.'s chairman and chief executive, Rick Wagoner. “When ball clubs have losing records, players and coaches and managers get their walking papers,” Mr. Neil wrote. “At G.M., it's time to sweep the dugout.” In a statement, Brian Akre, a company spokesman, said: “G.M. and The Los Angeles Times have had productive discussions regarding our complaints about the newspaper's coverage of G.M. While we have respectfully agreed to disagree on some of the issues, we sincerely believe The Times has a better understanding of our concerns and we appreciate its ongoing willingness to listen.”

In an interview, Mr. Akre added that “our objections didn't revolve around any one story or reporter.”

Martha Goldstein, a spokeswoman for the newspaper, said: “We had productive conversations with G.M. While we didn't see a need to run a correction, we did listen to their concerns.”

Asked if the discussion of a correction centered on the column by Mr. Neil, she said it did, but declined to elaborate.

Details of the original dust-up here, and here

AdAge weighs in with the names of some other misguided companies:

With the boycott, the company joined a boomlet of advertisers-who-would-be-editors, including Morgan Stanley and BP, both of which have ordered publications to withhold their ads when negative articles are going to appear.
Impact not clear
Any impact from the boycott is not yet clear. GM, its regional dealer associations and individual dealers spent $61.5 million to advertise in The Times last year, of which $21 million came from GM corporate campaigns, according to TNS Media Intelligence.
Public relations professionals, who largely called the boycott a mistake, worried that their influence was waning. “A company that would expect these tactics to work is misguided,” wrote Julia Hood, editor in chief at P.R. Week, in an editorial. “An editor that would agree to them is compromised. A P.R. professional that does not help the C-suite understand why these practices are wrong is a fool.”


What a perfect summer crime...

Drive around to restaurants, and offer cut-rate prices on Chilean Sea Bass, for restaurants that still serve it (endangered species and all), and would deign to purchase it off the back of a truck. Of course, the weather has been hovering around the mid-90's, so the price might have gotten cheaper by the end of the week.

Chicago Sun-Times: Cops sniff out $100,000 in filched fish :

About $100,000 worth of Chilean sea bass -- along with the truck it was in -- that had been stolen from the Fulton Fish Market was recovered Sunday by Chicago Police officers who were working a burglary investigation.
The fish was on pallets in the refrigerated truck, said Wood District Capt. Richard Elmer. Elmer said district officers following tips on stolen vehicles wound up at a parking lot at 1946 W. Fulton, where the truck had been taken after it was stolen last Tuesday. There, burglars were transferring the fish into a smaller truck.
“All they would have to do is drive (around) and ask if someone wanted to buy fish,'' Elmer said. ”Word spread.''

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Bolton contrast

Just amazing really, the stark contrast between civil servants who place country before party, and jerks like Bolton. One could make an argument that the Republican party is destroying America, but who has the energy to make such a big list?

Yellow Dog Blog: Home of The Yellow-Dog Democrat: Who We Nominate, Who They Nominate:

Richard Holbrooke, who Republicans delayed for 14 months as Bill Clinton's nominee to the U.N., refused to bypass the Senate with a recess appointment, saying that it would introduce him to the world body with no credibility or authority.

From where I sit (at my desk, in a chair, yadda yadda), Bush resembles a petulant child convinced of his own self-righteousness, even in the face of contradictory evidence. The Senate only asked that democracy not be drowned in the bathtub, and that the semblance of procedure be followed. Bush could have released the documents the Senate asked for, and Bolton would probably be confirmed in a month or two.

Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior
“Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior” (Temple Grandin, Catherine Johnson)


Mighty Mouse?

That's the best title Apple can come up with? Mighty Mouse?

mighty mouse

Meet the mouse that reinvented the wheel. The scroll wheel, that is. At $49, Mighty Mouse features the revolutionary Scroll Ball that lets you move anywhere inside a document, without lifting a finger. And with touch-sensitive technology concealed under the seamless top shell, you get the programability of a four-button mouse in a single-button design. Click, roll, squeeze and scroll. This mouse just aced the maze.

I don't need a new mouse at the moment, however, as my Kensington Turbo Mouse Pro works great. I'm assuming this will be included with the next desktop we purchase in 2005/2006 fiscal.

Hat tip/keyboard tip/whatever to Thomas Knox

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Bush hearts Devolution

Not much of a surprise, unless you consider that Bush is allegedly my president as well as president to the Christian-right mouth-breathers. Religious indoctrination shouldn't replace science, in publicly financed public schools especially. Can we impeach Bush for being a denizen of a previous century? Our founding fathers would plotz if they knew the current President was a theocrat more than a politician. Bush endorses 'intelligent design':

WASHINGTON -- President Bush waded into the debate over evolution and ''intelligent design“ yesterday, saying schools should teach both theories on the creation and complexity of life.

In a wide-ranging question-and-answer session with a small group of reporters, Bush essentially endorsed efforts by Christian conservatives to give intelligent design equal standing with the theory of evolution in the nation's schools.

... The National Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science have both concluded that there is no scientific basis for intelligent design and oppose its inclusion in school science classes.
''The claim that equity demands balanced treatment of evolutionary theory and special creation in science classrooms reflects a misunderstanding of what science is and how it is conducted,” the academy said in a 1999 assessment. ''Creationism, intelligent design, and other claims of supernatural intervention in the origin of life or of species are not science because they are not testable by the methods of science.“

For more on intelligent design, see here, here, here, here, and especially H. Allen Orr's New Yorker article,here.

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Idle observation Department

In Firefox, clicking any window brings all Firefox windows to front.
In Safari, clicking on the address bar doesn't bring the window to the foreground, and clicking on one window, other windows stay in background. (I use this to add data to Delicious Library)

I think in earlier versions of the Mac OS (OS 9, for instance), this wasn't even an option. I much prefer the Safari version, but I could see how some folks would get confused about it all.

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EURO RSCG 4D: Chicago, hired Alan Steele to the new post of president of Euro RSCG Discovery North America, the agency's research arm. Steele, who joined Euro RSCG in mid-July, will oversee information management strategies, customer analytics and segmentation, database design and management, campaign management and measurement and data/lettershop processing. He had been founder of data-management consultancy Acxiom Global Consulting Group, Chicago.

INFORMATION RESOURCES, INC: Chicago, hired Thomas Blischok as president of retail solutions, strategic consulting and integrated solutions, a new post at the research firm. Blischok will lead IRI's Global Retail Consulting Services practice and its new Business Insights and Consulting Group. Blischok had been founder and CEO of technology consultancy MindMeld and earlier was executive VP-group executive of Equifax Knowledge Engineering, the CRM arm of Equifax.


How Lennon was caught

Guardian U.K. How Lennon was caught:

News: Police report reveals truth behind 1968 drug raid on the Beatle's home.
...Detective Sergeant Norman “Nobby” Pilcher, who built his drug squad career targeting musicians, including Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Eric Clapton and Donovan, finally turned his attention to the biggest prize of all - a Beatle - in October 1968.
A confidential Scotland Yard file, which was released at the National Archives to the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act, shows that Pilcher came under strong pressure from the then home secretary, James Callaghan, after the raid on the Marylebone flat.

In his report, hand-delivered to the home secretary, Pilcher tried to explain why it had taken seven police officers and two dogs to raid Lennon's flat, and how it was that the press managed to arrive on the scene within minutes of the drug bust.

It was widely believed that Lennon had already immortalised Det Sgt Pilcher as “Semolina pilchard” in the Beatles song I Am the Walrus. The Beatle described him as a “head-hunting” cop: “He went round and bust every pop star he could get his hands on, and he got famous. Some of the pop stars had dope in their house and some of them didn't.”

On this occasion Lennon was confident that he didn't. At the time he lived with Yoko Ono in the flat he rented from George Harrison at 34 Montague Square. The previous tenant had been Jimi Hendrix. Lennon had been tipped off three weeks earlier by Don Shorter, a Daily Mirror journalist, that Pilcher had him next on the list and he had the flat meticulously cleaned in the belief that Hendrix must have left some trace of drugs in the apartment.

Lennon always insisted he had been framed by Pilcher, who was subsequently jailed for corruption because of his practices in the drug squad. Lennon was fined £150 for possession but the conviction was to give him years of trouble and pain. It was enough to trigger a deportation order against him in the US in 1971, and a subsequent four-year battle against being thrown out. Ono said it also contributed to the couple losing custody of her daughter, Kyoko.

Sounds like Lennon got set up. I suppose the 'drug war' has been phony from its inception, still amazes me that the never-ending war against personal liberties continues.

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Department of Regulatory Corruption

Yet another tale of government actively supporting business instead of the general public. Just disgusting, really. In my ignorance, I though the government was supposed to protect citizens. Instead, corporate profits trumps national health, every freaking time. - Mercury and Tuna: U.S. Advice Leaves Lots of Questions, by Peter Waldman,

The tuna industry has continued to aim some marketing at pregnant women and kids. An ad sponsored by the U.S. Tuna Foundation last year, which specified the new federal consumption guidelines, reassured “pregnant and nursing women and young children” that canned tuna “is absolutely safe to eat.” Extolling the benefits of fish's omega-3 fatty acids for babies' eyes and brains, the ad said: “No government study has ever found unsafe levels of mercury in women or young children who eat canned tuna.”

Oh, ok. Can I have extra mercury on my tuna-on-rye, please?

One reason she [Joan Elan Davis- parent of Matthew Davis, who ate tuna fish daily, and ended up with brain damage and other problems ] didn't know [that tuna has high levels of mercury ] was that the government had never said so. The FDA had known for many years that canned tuna contained mercury, which studies link to learning impairment in children. Consumer groups long urged the agency to address the issue. But it wasn't until March 2004, after regulatory tussles between health advocates and the tuna industry and between clashing scientists for the FDA and EPA, that those agencies issued a mercury advisory that cited tuna. That joint EPA and FDA advisory urged limits on how much tuna children and some women should eat.
But the limits set in the advisory may exceed safe levels for some people, judging by a mercury risk assessment that the EPA produced on its own years earlier.
The federal advisory said that nursing mothers and women who are pregnant or may become so should eat no more than 12 ounces of chunk light tuna a week. For solid white albacore, which is higher in mercury, it set a six-ounce weekly limit. Young children, it said, should eat “smaller portions.” No advice was given for men or older women.
The maximum mercury ingestion the EPA deems safe is one microgram a day for each 22 pounds of body weight. If a 130-pound woman ate as much albacore tuna as the joint federal advisory allows, she would exceed that safe level by 40%.
If the joint advisory had been available in 2003 and the Davises, following its advice about “smaller portions” for children, had given Matthew just half a can of albacore a week, he still would have consumed 60% more mercury than the EPA can say with confidence is safe.
“This is a glaring example of shutting out science,” says Vas Aposhian, a University of Arizona toxicologist. He quit the FDA's Food Advisory Committee in early 2004 because he felt the agency ignored the panel's instructions to hew closely to the EPA's mercury maximum.
...The struggle to find the right balance on mercury is part of a larger issue: How to deal with dozens of industrial chemicals now known to linger in the environment and the human body in trace amounts. Mercury emissions, about 40% of which in the U.S. come from coal-fired power plants, settle into oceans, lakes and rivers. Then people take in mercury by eating large fish that have accumulated an organic form of the metal in their flesh by consuming smaller fish. People vary in how they react to mercury they ingest and how fast they purge it. The EPA's exposure limit is based on its calculation that mercury above 5.8 parts per billion in young women's bloodstreams may pose a danger to their babies. By this measure, 5.7% of U.S. infants, or 228,000 a year, could be at risk of mercury poisoning during gestation, based on the latest blood survey of women of childbearing age by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The maximum safe level might be lower still, says the EPA's top mercury risk assessor, Kathryn Mahaffey, based on recent evidence that fetuses concentrate more mercury in their blood than do their pregnant mothers. Former EPA Administrator Michael Leavitt says the reason the government didn't make the mercury-in-fish advisory tougher was to avoid scaring people away from fish. “Mercury is bad and fish is good. We needed to choose the right words that would give people a sense of knowledge without creating unwarranted fear,” says Mr. Leavitt, now head of the Health and Human Services Department. He adds that scientists, not bureaucrats, worked out the guidelines, reconciling the varying views of FDA and EPA researchers.
Food companies have long lobbied to mitigate any FDA action on canned tuna, one of the top-grossing supermarket items in revenue per unit of shelf space. Five years ago, after risk assessments by the EPA and the National Academy of Sciences raised fresh worries about mercury, the FDA began preparing to revise a 1979 advisory that said it was all right to consume four micrograms of mercury a day per 22 pounds of body weight -- four times the EPA's maximum.

Food companies urged the FDA not to single out canned tuna. In private meetings with FDA officials in fall 2000, industry and agency documents show, the industry argued that health data were inconclusive, that citing canned tuna would drive down its consumption by 19% to 24%, and that seafood producers “would face the distinct possibility of numerous class action lawsuits.”

A strict advisory “could have an irreversible impact on American dietary habits, profoundly affecting consumers and producers of seafood and resulting in significant segments of the population turning away from the proven health benefits of fish consumption,” said a 2000 letter to an FDA commissioner from three trade groups: the National Food Processors Association, the National Fisheries Institute and the U.S. Tuna Foundation.

yes, that's just splendid. So what if people who eat canned tuna get mercury poisoning, brain damage, and other health problems, tuna is one of the top grossing supermarket items. Much more important.

and then, this:

When the FDA issued a revised mercury advisory in 2001, it urged women of childbearing age to shun four high-mercury species: swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico. It didn't mention tuna. Yet cumulatively, according to data provided by the EPA, the four species it urged avoiding account for less than 10% of Americans' mercury ingestion from fish, while canned tuna accounts for about 34% of it.
Some EPA scientists griped that FDA officials were coddling food companies. “They really consider the fish industry to be their clients, rather than the U.S. public,” charges Deborah Rice, a former EPA toxicologist now working for the state of Maine. The FDA's Dr. Acheson denies that commercial concerns played a role in the agency's decision making.

Thanks, FDA.

More disgusting quotes after the jump:

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