February 2006 Archives

Advice from Werner Herzog

In follow up on some Werner Herzog blather, earlier this year: And as a proud film school drop-out, I kind of agree with Herzog. I did get to see a lot of great movies though, so wasn't a total loss.

Chicagoist: He Would Walk Three Thousand Miles... Plenty of filmmakers will tell you that if you’re serious about making movies then you should skip film school. Only Werner Herzog would tell you to take a hike…from Madrid to Kiev

...Chicago area filmmaker Lee Kazimir is doing just that. He read an interview by the legendary Herzog that said filmmakers could learn more about filmmaking from a 5000 km walk (about 3106 miles) “from Madrid to Kiev” than from film school. Soon after, Kazimir began making plans to take the journey. He’ll be learning as he creates, since he’s also filming the experience for a documentary with the working title of More Shoes (though Dry Socks Wouldn’t Hurt Either works too).

Website here

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Peter Vecsey loves Chicago

Who knew?

New York Post Online Edition: sports

Like most of us have done when we were in the same position, [Bryan] Colangelo [formerly of the Phoenix Suns] caved when presented with roughly a $2 million pay raise from a franchise with the 25th-best record (20-35 entering last night [Toronto Raptors]) and arguably the fourth-best city in North America (New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Toronto) and bolted.

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Entrance that way



I got nothin'. Other than February doldrums, of course.

urban shortcuts redux

Addendum to an earlier list about underground passageways

Chicago Tribune | The list gets longer on shortcuts
Photo gallery here, possibly.

Mindless drug propaganda


Brett Chidester's death is a sad event in a world full of such events: I'm not convinced that the blame can be directed toward smoking of an herb.

Salvia Divinorum

Delawareonline ¦ The News Journal ¦ Legal high new worry for parents
In the daily search for reasons behind their 17-year-old son's suicide, Dennis and Kathy Chidester keep coming back to the same answer: salvia divinorum.The herb, a cousin of the flowering sages enjoyed by backyard gardeners, contains the world's most potent natural hallucinogen, as strong as LSD. The drug is legal in most states, including Delaware, and easily available through hundreds of Internet sites, including eBay.That aura of legitimacy lulled Brett Chidester, a straight-A senior at Salesianum School, into thinking smoking salvia leaves was safe, even while convincing himself that he had gained incredible insights into the universe, his parents said.
... That's the one thing I didn't want to do,“ he said, his voice cracking. ”I found him in there, dead. He had taken a charcoal grill and ... carbon monoxide poisoning.“

Brett's essay, suicide note and actions before his death still leave his parents with more questions than answers.

”We just won't have any answers, and we have to learn to accept that,“ Kathy Chidester said. ”But my gut feeling is it was the salvia. It's the only thing that can explain it.“

Right, nothing to do with the emptiness of modern existence, nothing to do with pressures of school, family, becoming an adult, girlfriends, no - just smoking an herb whose effects last 15-30 minutes.

As an amateur historian with a keen interest in the cultural response to drugs in American society, I've seen this pattern before. First, a drug (marijuana, alcohol, LSD, MDMA, etc.) is demonized as causing violent anti-social behavior, mostly by the use of thinly-sourced sensationalistic news articles like the one cited above, which ran in the Deleware News Journal. Then pressure 'builds' on legislatures to 'do something', never mind the facts, never mind most adults were partaking with few adverse effects. Alcohol was already such an ingrained part of American society - Prohibition didn't last very long. Marijuana - not so lucky.

”You type 'salvia divinorum' in a search engine and you get 10,000 hits, most of which are head shops on the Internet,“ said Thomas E. Prisinzano, a medical researcher at the University of Iowa. ”That's not good. People are going to abuse it.“

-of course one could do the same for automobiles (over 60 million hits), or coffee grinders (over 2 million hits). Is that ”not good“? What's the point of search engines anyway?

A cashier at a local pipe store says,

”...As far as I know, the only place you can get it is the Internet. Probably the reason it's legal now is most people don't know about it.“

As the drug becomes stigmatized in the press and in Congress, legitimate research is discarded. LSD, for instance, had promising applications in the study of mental health (Cary Grant, for instance, used it frequently in psychotherapy, and found it quite therapeutic), alcoholism, and elsewhere, good luck even filling out a grant to study LSD these days - you'd become a target of the DEA just by signing your name on the application.

Prisinzano, who earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of Delaware in 1995, is studying whether salvia's main ingredient, salvinorin A, could be used to create a nonaddictive painkiller. Also, he said, understanding the way salvia creates hallucinations could help scientists better understand Alzheimer's disease and mental illnesses that alter patients' perceptions of reality.

”It's actually become a hot area of research,“ said Bryan Roth, a leading salvia researcher at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. In 2002, he discovered how salvinorin A travels through the brain.

One salvia user described watching a mountain lake turn into a desert, Roth said. Another said she found herself in a room with an alternate future behind each door. She picked one door and saw the death of her child, he said.

”Depending on the dose, it can cause a mild sense of distortion,“ Roth said. ”In the extreme, people are basically shot out into another reality, another place and time.“

Smoke Salvia while you can - won't be long before smokers will be declared enemy combatants of the state.

”Pharmako/Poeia : Plant Powers, Poisons, and Herbcraft“ (Dale Pendell)
Chapter on Salvia excerpted here, read it for yourself and decide.

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Before and after


Via (Chicago) Sage, we read of another step in the total, and final destruction of everything 'past' to make room for everything 'future'.

Baby Factory to be leveled after 82 years:

DePaul began the demolition of the factory located at the corner of Fullerton Parkway and Racine Avenue to make way for a new parking lot for students, said Bob Janis, vice president of facility operations.

The building is commonly referred to as the “Baby Factory”; in reality it is called Ruben’s Baby Factory and was designed to accommodate a bank-note printing company. During the Great Depression, the printer went bankrupt. In 1936, the building was purchased to house Rubens & Marble, a company that manufactured quality infant’s cotton underwear. In 1912, the company was incorporated, and the name has remained the same for 92 years. Plans to tear the building down have been in effect for some time; the university surrounded the structure with scaffolding over winter break to keep falling debris from harming people and cars. The building was being used for housing DePaul furniture and demolition began Monday, Feb. 6.

I know progress is 'inevitable', but still is a shame that such a once fine building had to be destroyed for a freaking student parking lot, not even administrative offices as previously claimed by DePaul. Not that this building was a 'spectacular' architectural specimen, but it was more attractive than the cinder-block crap sure to replace it.

Baby Factory

(more photos of the destruction by (Chicago)Sage here)

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Down Love's Tributaries

Down Love's Tributaries

nothing like copping titles from what currently was playing in iTunes, Thomas Hawk notwithstanding. If I didn't have my iPod shuffling tunes in my ears as I walked the city blocks searching for meaning where there isn't any, I would probably still take photos, but certainly would enjoy the act less. Maybe. Who knows. The point is moot.

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Small fire reported at nuclear plant

Must be some sort of voodoo goings-on at Exelon's swanky corporate digs- third incident reported in as many days. Maybe something to do with the Enron trial?

Small fire reported at nuclear plant

Chicago-based Exelon reports that there was a small electrical fire at its Byron nuclear plant this morning.

Note to Dean Armstrong: I am specifically not claiming Exelon 'did anything wrong', so don't worry.

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Set and setting


Probably wasn't the best 'set and setting' to dose soldiers thinking they were going to help cure the common cold. Who needs ethics when the Soviet threat loomed?

BBC NEWS | UK | MI6 payouts over secret LSD tests
Three UK ex-servicemen have been given compensation after they were given LSD without their consent in the 1950s

The men volunteered to be “guinea pigs” at the government research base Porton Down after being told scientists wanted to find a cure for the common cold.

But they were given the hallucinogen in mind control tests, and some volunteers had terrifying hallucinations.

Ken Kesey, Allen Ginsberg are some other notable psychedelic lab rats.

And via the miracle of boingboing, Einstein wrote about this experiment as well

Einstein And LSD

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Photos to assuage loneliness

Photos taken in the last week in the West Loop.

As I Went Out one morning
As I Went Out one morning

People make the world go round
People make the world go round

Lonliness of the Parking Marker
Lonliness of the Parking Marker

One of Chicago's odder traditions - the ability to 'mark' parking spots with old furniture. I thought it only applied after you shoveled snow to clear a spot, but I haven't owned a car since 1989, so what do I know about by-laws?

sirens of the skyscrapers
Sirens of the Skyscrapers

Public art on train trestles

Steel, Ice and death
Steel, Ice and death


(for all photos, click for larger version)

More, of course, at Flickr.

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NBA and upscale mens wear

Maybe I'm just out of touch with men's fashions (no doubt), but I can't see myself purchasing a NBA logo-ed dress shirt, much less wool jackets, even though I'll admit to being a hoop junkie (I do subscribe to the NBA League Pass for instance).

Are folks really going to want clothing with Atlanta Hawks emblazoned on them to wear to the office?

National Basketball Association is teaming up with Colony Sportswear to create an upscale line of men’s apparel that will feature blazers, dress shirts and ties, all emblazoned with NBA logos and team marks. ...The collection will be available later this spring. Initial product offerings include wool and leather blazers at $348 and $648, respectively, that feature NBA and team logo embroidery on the inside lining. Dress shirts will go for $87.50 to $89.50, and woven silk ties will retail for $39.50.

The collection will be available later this spring. Initial product offerings include wool and leather blazers at $348 and $648, respectively, that feature NBA and team logo embroidery on the inside lining. Dress shirts will go for $87.50 to $89.50, and woven silk ties will retail for $39.50.

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Theremin news from all over

Micro-casting anyone? Aunt Pat? Bueller? Narrowcasting is too broad anyway.

Regular readers of this space know that the theremin is a talismanic object, near-sacred in fact (Beach Boys didn't use one, Theremin movie, Theremin guitar pedal). Anyway, Make Magazine linked to a decent discussion of the mystical device.

DIY Live » DIY Archive » What is a Theremin?
If you want to hear a theremin in action, you can go to carolina-eyck.de. It is amazing to see her play this thing. Another site is thereminworld.com/sounds.asp

Now another question, is where do I get one? The answer to that is obvious. You build your own. Oldtemecula.com has a theremin that you can build completely using Radio Shack parts.

Hmmm, I think I might be able to scrounge up $25 to buy the parts. Meanwhile, you can always pop this movie back in...

Theremin: Ether Music and Espionage (Music in American Life) (Albert Glinsky)
“Theremin: Ether Music and Espionage (Music in American Life)” (Albert Glinsky)

Theremin - An Electronic Odyssey (Steven M. Martin)
“Theremin - An Electronic Odyssey” (Steven M. Martin)

parenthetical note: Christmas of 2003 spent in SF, one of the highlights was watching this movie at my Aunt Pat's house, cocktail in hand.

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Cheney's coup

| 1 Comment

All I can say is yikes!

Salon.com | Sidney Blumenthal - Cheney's coup
A 3-year-old executive order that vastly expanded his powers illuminates how the vice president and his minions led us into war.

Cheney was asked about court papers filed by his former chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice in the investigation of the leaking of the identity of an undercover CIA operative, Valerie Plame. (She is the wife of former ambassador Joseph Wilson, a critic of disinformation used to justify the invasion of Iraq.) In those papers, Libby laid out a line of defense that he had leaked classified material at the behest of “his superiors” (to wit, Cheney). Libby detailed that he was authorized to disclose to members of the press classified sections of the prewar National Intelligence Estimate on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. (The NIE was exposed as wrongly asserting that Saddam possessed WMD and was constructing nuclear weapons.) Indeed, Cheney explained, he has the power to declassify intelligence. “There is an executive order to that effect,” he said. Had he ever done that “unilaterally”? “I don't want to get into that.”

On March 25, 2003, President Bush signed Executive Order 13292, a hitherto little known document that grants the greatest expansion of the power of the vice president in American history. The order gives the vice president the same ability to classify intelligence as the president. By controlling classification, the vice president can in effect control intelligence and, through that, foreign policy.

Bush operates on the radical notion of the “unitary executive,” that the president has inherent and limitless powers in his role as commander in chief, above the system of checks and balances. By his extraordinary order, he elevated Cheney to his level, an acknowledgment that the vice president was already the de facto executive in national security. Never before has any president diminished and divided his power in this manner. Now the unitary executive inherently includes the unitary vice president.

Bloodless coups may be the worst.

Read the rest here

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Ellen Tarry

part of the Steven Watson file.

The Harlem Renaissance : Hub of African-American Culture, 1920-1930 (Circles of the Twentieth Century Series , No 1) (Steven Watson)

“The Harlem Renaissance : Hub of African-American Culture, 1920-1930 (Circles of the Twentieth Century Series , No 1)” (Steven Watson)

Pittsburgh Catholic Newspaper - News and Features

Ellen Tarry one of few living links to Harlem Renaissance

Never before in the history of the United States has there been such an explosion of creative works by African-American writers than in the period of American literature known as the Harlem Renaissance (1917-1930).

In the span of a mere decade, black poets, novelists and writers of all kinds would claim their place in the annals of American literature.

Names such as Langston Hughes, Waring Cuney, Arna Bontemps, Zora Neale Hurston, Countee Cullen, Jean Toomer, Frank Horne, Gwendolyn Bennet, Claude McKay and many others were at the center of a literary phenomenon among African-American writers born around the turn of the 20th century.

As Steven Watson wrote in his book “The Harlem Renaissance — Hub of African-American Culture,” these authors were charged with not only excelling to new creative heights, but uplifting the plight of blacks in America as well. It was a mission they by no means took lightly.

“They were not the first noteworthy black writers in America ... but these younger writers constituted the first self-conscious black literary constellation in American history. The most effective strategy for race building depended on art and literature, so a dual mission was thrust upon these writers. They were simultaneously charged with creating art and with bolstering the image of their race,” wrote Watson. Their mission, so to speak, would influence the next generation of American black writers as well, notably Richard Wright, author of “Native Son.

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Research vs marketing

I'd be quite surprised if this didn't happen quite frequently, just perhaps not publicized. I assume there is plenty of pressure on scientists to tailor results to wards a pre-ordained conclusion, especially those whose studies are being funded by pharmaceutical companies, and especially when so much money rests in the balance. P&G is used to getting its way, in all things.

WSJ.com - Scientist Presses Claim P&G Misrepresented Actonel Data
Scientist Presses Claim P&G Misrepresented Actonel Data

A scientist hired by Procter & Gamble Co. who alleges his data were misrepresented in P&G research abstracts for the osteoporosis drug Actonel is meeting with congressional staffers and the National Institutes of Health this week to press his case.

Aubrey Blumsohn, a senior lecturer and bone-metabolism specialist at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom, says P&G misrepresented the drug's effectiveness in several research publications. He also says that P&G withheld data from him and wrote abstracts using his name that he couldn't properly review.

The moves occur in an atmosphere of heightened scrutiny of the relationship between pharmaceutical companies, scientific researchers and medical journals.

Lawmakers concerned about selective disclosure of clinical-trial data from drug makers were receptive to Dr. Blumsohn's message. “This isn't the first time, and I bet it won't be the last, that we hear concerns about drug companies selectively withholding unfavorable clinical-trial data,” said Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, whose staff met with Dr. Blumsohn yesterday. “It's a recurring complaint and a detriment to rigorous scientific research.” Sen. Grassley has been active on drug-safety issues and is co-sponsoring a bill that would require drug makers to register their clinical trials in a public database.

...Dr. Blumsohn, and his colleague, Dr. Richard Eastell, received a $250,000 research contract from P&G in 2002 to analyze Actonel's impact on “bone turnover” and its relationship to fractures. Bone turnover is a measure of how quickly old bone tissue is replaced and could be an important marker of the progression of osteoporosis.

Dr. Blumsohn alleges that once he sent his data off to P&G, the company, as per their contract, was required to then share certain data with Dr. Blumsohn in order for him to properly analyze it. Instead, he says, P&G held onto the data and wrote up its own analysis of it, used his name, and submitted it to be presented at various medical meetings. Dr. Blumsohn says he spent months objecting to the data before P&G shared even a portion of it with him, and, even then, it wasn't sufficient for him to do his own analysis.

...“Scientists may disagree about the presentation of data,” Dr. Blumsohn said in an interview. “But there can, however, be no legitimate debate when that data is not available even to the authors.”

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Dept of misleading headlines

Somehow the fact of creating an advertisement that directly targets DVR users is transformed into an Anti-TiVo ad. A promotion that only DVR users (and VCR users) can participate in doesn't sound much like antagonism to me.

WSJ.com - KFC to Offer Anti-TiVo Ad
KFC, a unit of Louisville, Ky.-based Yum Brands Inc., is offering up an anti-TiVo commercial.

The fast-food chain is the latest advertiser to offer a TV ad that tries to circumvent devices such as digital video recorders, which allow viewers to skip through ads. The spot, crafted by Interpublic Group of Cos.'s Foote Cone & Belding, has a message embedded into its content that viewers can see if they use a DVR to slow down the program, according to a person familiar with the matter. The message alerts viewers to a promotion, according to the person.

Seems more like an ad encouraging TiVo usage, or at least acknowledging it.

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Underground passageways


The Trib recycles an article about the underground city. Still on my list of fun things to do one day.

Full size map here, for the moment at least.

Chicago Tribune | Stylish shortcuts
Convenience meets beauty on these internal streets -- many of them well-kept secrets ...interior arcades, corridors, lobbies and other passageways that slice through buildings downtown, offering pedestrians a convenient and beautiful alternative to cutting wind, rain or slush.

Many are a well-kept secret. With a blast of frigid air on the way, it's time to spread the word about them.

You've probably sampled the Beaux-Arts elegance of the main aisle through Marshall Field & Co.'s State Street store. Or maybe you've eyed the classical grandeur of the arcade through the Cook County Building and City Hall.

But how about the Art Deco splendor of the shortcut through the former Field Building, at 135 S. LaSalle St.?

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers would have felt at home dancing amid its fluted columns, mirrored bridges and a bronze elevator indicator that presents a miniature version of the building's sleek, setback silhouette. For some, though, the shortcut's elegance inspires wardrobe anxiety.

"I need a ball gown to walk through," jokes Alice Sinkevitch, editor of the American Institute of Architects' Guide to Chicago.

According to my informal survey, there are at least 30 of these aboveground cut throughs. I am not counting downtown's pedway tunnels, a style-challenged nether-world that is often difficult to navigate.

The City is also planning to upgrade the pedways, make it more ped friendly.

Chicago's pedway system can be astonishingly convenient -- and astonishingly confusing. The system largely consists of tunnels that cover 44 blocks indowntown Chicago, though it also includes some aboveground passageways....Recognizing that problem, the Chicago Department of Transportation commissioned DLK Civic Design of Chicago to shape new signs and maps for the system. The purple and yellow signs, which have a traditional look comparable to the historic streetlights and other "street furniture" on State Street, will be installed in the summer or fall, according to CDOT spokesman Brian Steele.

DLK shaped the signs in conjunction with consultant Carol Naughton + Associates, of Chicago. Most of the signs will be mounted on the walls of pedway tunnels, according to DLK's marketing director Charles Crump. The signs will identify the points of the compass, the name and street-grid location of streets above the tunnel, as well as nearby cultural attractions. Other signs will be embedded in the floors of tunnels at the Chicago Transit Authority's Red and Blue Line stations, Crump said.

Maps of the pedway will be placed at about two dozen locations, along with three-fold paper maps of the pedway that people can take with them. City officials also plan much-needed aboveground signs identifying entrances to the pedway. They are to go in building elevator lobbies and on exterior walls.

List of Blair Kamin's top 5 passageways below the fold

Why Worry?


Just trust that the energy companies are doing 'what they are supposed to', as a nuclear power apologist wrote in a recent comment to an earlier article. Radiation is probably good for you to drink anyway, and no energy company would ever cut corners on safety procedures to increase quarterly profits.

self portrait with coal cooling tower that looks like 3 Mile Island

Chicago Tribune | For some, a new water worry Wilmington, aware the water in its deep wells contained radium, a naturally occurring carcinogen but at levels above federal limits, in 1990 decided to quit drawing from them and tap into the Kankakee River. Officials did not know the river often contained another potentially harmful substance, radioactive tritium, at levels up to 100 times higher than natural--albeit in amounts deemed safe by the government.

The tritium was a byproduct of nuclear power generation at an Exelon Corp. plant a few miles upstream. It came from legal, regulated emissions at the Braidwood Generating Station. Federal, state and Exelon Nuclear officials said the tritium poses no health threat to about 6,000 people in Wilmington and an unincorporated subdivision that taps into the city's public water supply. “Personally, I would not let my kids drink that water,” countered Kathleen Burns, who holds a doctorate in public health and once did consulting work for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “It's an unnecessary risk.”

Public forums are scheduled to educate jittery residents who say Exelon should have disclosed tritium spills years earlier. Exelon also recently disclosed tritium had leaked into the ground at Dresden Generating Station in Grundy County and into vaults at Byron Nuclear Generating Station near Rockford.

U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said Wednesday he plans to introduce legislation that will require nuclear companies to notify state and local officials when leaks of radioactive substances exceed federal limits.

“If potentially hazardous materials are released into the environment, then those families living in the affected communities deserve to be notified immediately,” he said.

Tritiated water is diluted and released two to three times a week from Braidwood through a five-mile underground pipe into the Kankakee River, where it is further diluted by the river, Exelon officials said.

The releases were halted last November, as Exelon explores the extent of contamination, considers disposal options and searches for ways to discharge less tritium. Meanwhile, it is storing tritium on site.
Arjun Makhijani, an engineer and physicist who specializes in nuclear fusion and is president of the Maryland-based Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, said the federal standards don't take into account the increased risk of miscarriage and birth defects related to tritium ingestion.

They also “fail to recognize that all of us, I think even people in the nuclear industry, distinguish between voluntary and involuntary risks.”

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Quote of the last few hours

From Dr. Alterman comes a quote, taken out of context, that can be applied to a variety of situations:

Alterman: Can you say 'permanent bases?' - Altercation - MSNBC.com: On the other hand, what the hell do I really know about the situation, aside from having read a few articles?  What is this idiotic idea that having a blog makes you an expert on anything in particular?

Exercise in postscript

%! 5.5 setlinewidth 87 87 81 0 360 arc stroke 168 87 81 0 360 arc stroke showpage %%EOF

Vesica Piscis
Visica Piscis

How to build a Universe that doesn't fall apart two days later

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Blood isn't thicker than money


Granted, these sorts of medical advances are difficult to study, ethically as well as scientifically, but something about the decision to give fake blood to unconscious patients in the O.R. without asking the patient just seems wrong. Are natural supplies for blood really that scarce anyway? Or is this a profit-making adventure, with unwitting patients as disposable lab rats.

WSJ.com - Amid Alarm Bells, A Blood Substitute Keeps Pumping:

Ten in Trial Have Heart Attacks,but Data Aren't Published; FDA Allows a New StudyDoctors' Pleas Are Ignored

Several years ago a clinical trial of a blood substitute called PolyHeme finished with worrisome results. Ten of 81 patients who received the fake blood suffered a heart attack within seven days, and two of those died. None of the 71 patients in the trial who received real blood were found to have had a heart attack.

PolyHeme's maker, Northfield Laboratories Inc., quietly shut down the trial and didn't publicly disclose the results, which are described in internal documents viewed by The Wall Street Journal. It decided the heart attacks might have been due to doctor inexperience in using PolyHeme, not a problem with the product itself.

Now Northfield is in the middle of a new trial. A Food and Drug Administration official, Jay Epstein, calls the earlier data “alarming” but not sufficient to stop Northfield from trying out its product on hundreds of trauma patients.

The FDA is allowing Northfield to test its blood substitute without the consent of the trauma patients, who often are unconscious. In lieu of patient consent, the 31 medical centers testing the product are required to carry out community-awareness campaigns about the trials. Several hospitals have told community meetings that previous trials showed PolyHeme to be safe, failing to mention the 10 heart attacks in their printed materials.

And speaking of bad PR: this statement is just ridiculous. Now every freaking person who doesn't want to be given fake, experimental blood in the rare case of needing an emergency transfusion has to wear a blue wrist band, at all times?? Talk about your double opt-in policies. Yeesh. If I was at all involved in Wall Street - I'd short this company right now.

Northfield says any American who doesn't wish to participate in the current PolyHeme trial should ask the company for a blue plastic wristband that would alert paramedics. Those who fail to get a wristband and find themselves in a hospital trauma unit “can withdraw from the study, without prejudice, at any time,” the company says.

Yes I am excited


Boing Boing: A Scanner Darkly trailer
A Scanner Darkly trailer

Direct link to Quicktime trailer

A Scanner Darkly
A Scanner Darkly

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TrackBack as an Internet Standard

Personally, I've turned off TrackBacks altogether. Too much work (especially with spammers using trackback now), not enough reward. Technorati actually fulfills the niche of inter-blog communication fairly well, especially when coupled with iceRocket.

Six Apart - ProNet - Submitting TrackBack as an Internet Standard In 2002, Ben and Mena Trott had an idea for how blogging systems could communicate with one another more effectively about the plethora of content being created. They dubbed the idea “TrackBack” and they implemented it in Movable Type. What followed surprised everyone, the idea and technology they created spread like wildfire. Now, several years later, TrackBack is in use by over 50 million blogs and news sites across the Internet....

Therefore, Six Apart is beginning the process of submitting TrackBack to the Internet community and establishing TrackBack as a standard. To that end, Six Apart would like to invite anyone who is interested to join a provisional TrackBack Working Group by signing up for the TrackBack-protocol mailing list, and engaging its members in a discussion about the future of TrackBack.

Not to say I'm not interested in future developments of TrackBack....

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Industry and Trust

In what is rapidly becoming a site meme, for a day or two anyway, here is evidence of yet another sector of the corporate world which is so trustworthy. How trustworthy? So trustworthy that GSK's VP of External Advocacy has added PR duties to GSK's US sales reps job description. Everyone believes in unicorns, fairies, and that Big Pharma wants to make the world a better place - better living through chemicals, or something.

Troubled by the worsening reputation of drug companies that is ranked just above tobacco and oil manufacturers, pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline is out to win over a skeptical public -- by turning its entire sales force into a PR machine.

In an unprecedented mission, the $35.4 billion pharmaceutical giant has quietly anointed its 8,000 U.S. sales representatives as "public relations ambassadors" to lift its image and that of the beleaguered industry with grassroots PR. The initiative, dubbed the "Value of Medicine," was created by Michael Pucci, GSK's VP-external advocacy, to respond to overwhelming criticism and negative perception of the pharmaceutical industry
But while rivals have done corporate branding PR at a more understated level, they don't appear to be too eager to join in. "It's ambitious, and I give Glaxo a lot of credit for doing it," said the chief marketing officer for a top 10 drug maker. "But I'm not sure I want 8,000 people on the ground given that level of responsibility to basically speak for a company and an industry. With that many, the odds say there's going to be a percentage of them -- however small -- that will make a mistake, or stray from the script, or whatever."

Then there are those who question the script. "I understand pharma does feel they've been picked on, but I'm not sure this is the best way to go about changing that image," said Dr. Donna Sweet, chair of the Board of Regents for the American College of Physicians, which is on record as opposing direct-to-consumer advertising. "It's not a bad idea if these people are acting as good citizens and telling the truth and not trying to sway people. But I have a hard time believing they're going to be completely fair and honest in all situations."

Previous editions of the Trust Us Council newsletter covered used-car dealers and nuclear power plant operators.

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Used car dealers

If there is one other sector of the corporate world I trust implicitly to tell the truth, it is used car dealers. Yeah right. ( I repeat myself when under stress I repeat myself when under stress)

Dealerships fight used-car legislation
Law would open up state's crash records

In the face of heavy opposition from car dealers, lawmakers are battling to give the public the right to see tightly held accident histories of used vehicles so that people will know, literally, what they are getting into.

and my old boss gets quoted:

llinois is one of two states that explicitly prohibit public release of a vehicle's accident record, according to the bill's supporters.

But many people shopping for cars don't realize that the vehicle history reports they are buying--or being given by dealers--don't list any Illinois wrecks, the supporters say.

“It's lunacy not to make these public records available to Illinois consumers,” said Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale), who is sponsoring the measure along with Chicago Sen. James Meeks, a member of the Senate Democratic caucus.

The auto dealer industry, which has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to lawmakers over the last five years, is fighting vigorously to keep the status quo. Opponents of the bill question the accuracy of the accident records and its potential to hurt used car prices.

I personally don't see the downside to making this information public. More excerpts below the jump, mapping out which lawmakers gets fat contributions from the Illinois Auto Dealers Assn and cohorts. Of course, there is absolutely no correlation to the lawmakers subsequent opposition to a consumer friendly bill. None. Got that. None. Ahem.

Risks vs rewards

Amazing how short-sighted we are in our rush to have plastic, taste-free fruit and pale, dry tomatoes all year round.

New pesticide holds other risks
LOS ANGELES -- Fourteen years ago, as chemicals gobbled up the earth's ozone layer, an international treaty ordered a phaseout of a pesticide for strawberries and other high-value crops. Now, US officials are planning to replace it with a new pesticide, one that is highly toxic and that has been declared a cancer-causing chemical by the state of California.

The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to approve a new fumigant, methyl iodide, as it eliminates methyl bromide, which damages the ozone layer. The EPA is faced with a decision that could trade one toxic hazard for another.

California and Florida have the most at stake. California is the leading producer of strawberries, valued at more than $1 billion a year, and strawberry growers alone could use 3 million pounds of methyl iodide annually to replace methyl bromide.

Because methyl iodide is a gas, it can evaporate from soil and can drift into nearby areas. Last month, based on tests in California and Florida fields, EPA toxicologists concluded that farm workers could breathe harmful doses and that low concentrations could drift off fields.

''It doesn't matter what EPA says, it has to pass muster in California,“ said Glenn Brank, a spokesman for the state pesticide agency. ''The registration decision by US EPA will have no bearing on our process.” Methyl iodide ''is highly toxic,“ Brank said, and there are ''a number of areas of concern -- reproductive and developmental toxicity as well as carcinogenicity.” On the other hand, while ''fumigants clearly are problematic, they also are essential, given the lack of alternative soil treatments at present.“ For four years, the EPA has been considering a request from a pesticide company, Arysta LifeScience, to register methyl iodide, also known as iodomethane, as a soil fumigant under the commercial name Midas. If approved, it would be injected into the soil, mostly in strawberry fields, but also on fields for tomatoes, peppers, ornamentals, grapes, and several other crops, at a rate of 175 pounds per acre. Methyl bromide was the pesticide of choice for these crops until recently. In 1987, the United States and other developed nations signed the Montreal Protocol, which gradually banned a variety of chemicals that are reported to destroy the ozone layer that blocks the sun's harmful radiation. Methyl bromide was added to the pact in 1992.

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Whew. Only 75 miles away from downtown Chicago, too.

Emergency declared at nuclear power plant

Exelon Nuclear officials declared a rare “site-area emergency” today at a northern Illinois nuclear power plant, but the public's health and safety never were threatened, state and federal regulators said.

If there is one area of the corporate world I trust implicitly to tell the truth, it is the energy sector. Yeah right. Waaaaaa!!

Update 2/21/06
According to the Trib, there have been plenty of other problems at this plant recently. Doh!

U.S. Rep. Jerry Weller (R-Ill.) requested NRC inspections last Wednesday, the day Exelon Nuclear announced radioactive tritium had leaked at Dresden Generating Station in Grundy County and Byron Nuclear Generating Station, about 25 miles southwest of Rockford.

Earlier, Exelon had disclosed four tritium spills at Braidwood Generating Station in far southwest Will County between 1996 and 2003. As a result, tritium was found in groundwater outside the plant at levels that exceed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards.

..The last site-area emergency was declared in 1991 at Nine Mile Point 2 reactor in New York when power was lost to key instruments used to monitor the reactor, Strasma confirmed.

NRC officials later said they would conduct a special investigation at LaSalle, and Nesbit said he expected Exelon to have a better idea Tuesday of what caused the malfunction.

Paul Gunter, director of the Reactor Watchdog Project at the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, said Monday's event at LaSalle “is an indication of aging of plant systems. It could very well be that it was a failure of sensor equipment.”

The event occurred at Unit 1, which entered service in 1982. Unit 2, which remained in operation Monday, entered service two years later.


Teflon concerns may stick

Class action, anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Teflon concerns may stick

Panmakers worry cancer questions will eat into sales

For home cooks and professional chefs, Teflon might be the best kitchen innovation since sliced bread became a cliche. A pan with the non-stick coating makes easy-to-lift omelets and cleans up like a dream.

Umm, not if every pan causes cancer. Then, it really isn't the greatest thing since bread knives. More like the greatest thing since DDT. This article is like a mish-mash of DuPont-approved press releases about how Teflon is nothing to worry about, but then the article switches gears to:

Last year, the EPA fined DuPont $16.5 million--the largest administrative fine in EPA history--alleging that the company hid data on toxicity and health effects of PFOA for more than 20 years and contaminated the drinking water supply next to a DuPont plant in West Virginia. PFOA causes liver cancer, reduced birth weight, immune-system suppression and developmental problems in laboratory animals exposed to high doses.

In humans, the effects of lower doses are unknown, but it is transferred to fetuses. An ongoing study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore found the compound in the umbilical cord blood of 298 of 300 newborns. Because there is little information about how the chemical affects humans, the EPA asked U.S. companies last month to voluntarily eliminate public exposure to the chemical. DuPont pledged to meet the deadlines.

But the voluntary phaseout will not end the sale of Teflon and other products like T-Fal's cookware, though it is expected to curtail the release of the chemical into the atmosphere. Regulators have to act, said Joe Hotchkiss, chairman of Cornell University's department of food science, because they don't know whether the problems that result from a high level of PFOA exposure in animals will crop up in humans with much lower contamination.

Percentage of Americans whose blood contains low levels of perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, used in the making of non-stick cookware. In high doses, the chemical causes cancer in lab animals

Thus, we no longer use Teflon or Teflon-related pans, at home at least. Who knows what is used in restaurants?

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Fortress of Solitude

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Sometimes a blog becomes more than just an online scrapbook, a research tool, or a sustained burst of solipsism, trying to tag a virtual piece of the vast empty, faceless internet with my handle. I am not sure if this is one of those moments, or perhaps belongs to some other category.

Circle around the book,

Fortress of Solitude
, and my guilt at purchasing Jonathan Lethem's novel used, instead of buying a pristine copy - rewarding Mr. Lethem a few more pennies for transfiguring thought and sentences and words from his brain to page, and yet, if I had only seen this novel in hardback in some corporate-friendly bookstore, would I have even picked it up off the shelf? Probably not, and then I would not have been profoundly moved by his tale of growing up as an outsider in Brooklyn as I am. If my novel(s) ever make it to the unlikely stage of 'finished', would I be bitter at subsequently discovering them on a remainder rack? Or would I be happy knowing that more folks will read it who might not have otherwise? I'd probably purchase them all on the spot, and send them to everyone I could think of sending to. In fact, I already have a book of poetry, if you want it. Ahem.

If this all makes sense to you, then I suppose you too were knocked to the got-damn floor by an errant elevator door - a negligently un-repaired elevator door, sans sensor, broken yet ignored for months and months, an elevator door that smashed you directly, maliciously, in the small tender part of your recently recovered back, once again forcing you to spend long hours confined to bed with only ice packs and pain medications (including that ancient cure - wine, and the modern cure, an iPod) for company.

If this doesn't describe you, sorry for the occlusion - it could be intentional. My mind is flittering around like a fruit bat, probably why my blog posts are usually mercifully brief. Self-censorship is usually smart protocol. When these stray thoughts used to linger, collected in spiral notebooks, I never cared if I was coherent or nto. I was just happy to retain enough motor skills to scrawl cryptic sanscrit-emulating script onto page, not worry if my thought was worth mulling in the first place.

Anyway, thanks again to Henry Abbott for the recommendation: I'll probably give the book as a present to a few folks this year. Used or not, haven't decided. A curse of the introvert: every possible scenario has multiple solutions.

oh, and yes, I did self-censor more idle thoughts about race and East Texas - triggered by the Fortress of Solitude. East Texas, near Jasper, where I moved in time to attend 7th grade. At first, my only friends were black (I moved from Toronto, via Guam, and had never been exposed to racial deliniation. Friends were friends, regardless of skin tone), but there were enough racist rednecks that this became an untenable condition for an eleven year old. Instead, I just kept to myself as much as possible, until we moved again to Austin.

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Political absurdity doo dah

Edward R. Murrow:
“When the politicians complain that TV turns the proceedings into a circus, it should be made clear that the circus was already there, and that TV has merely demonstrated that not all the performers are well trained.”

Haven't yet seen Clooney's new biopic,

“Good Night, and Good Luck.”Good Night and Good Luck, but it is on my netflix list.

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Watching the books we read

Ah, the joys of being a reader in a non-reading world. In the near future (if it hasn't already occurred), titles of every book purchased with a credit card will be appended to our permanent records, and depending upon what books those are, a copy will also be appended to your travel papers to enable some clueless TSA official to harass you.


Henry Rollins

Henry Rollins

was apparently reading a scary enough book on a plane to get noticed.

I just got a letter from a nice woman who told me the man I sat next to on the flight from Auckland to Goldcoast Australia reported me to the Australian Government because of the book I was reading.

“I hope this finds you before you leave Australia as I think its something that won’t surprise you but might give you a smile when you are sitting in a hotel room. I work in one of those Government areas that deals with anti terrorism matters. A fine service is provided but unfortunately we get to read a lot of things submitted by lunatics. The Australian Government set up the National Security Hotline to report terrorists.
The person who sat next to you on the flight from New Zealand does not agree with your politics or choice of reading and so nominated you as a possible threat. As they were too cowardly or stupid to leave their details I can’t call them to discuss their idiocy with them.”

Interesting that he and I exchanged nothing but polite hellos. I was reading Ahmed Rashid’s book

Jihad: The Rise Of Militant Islam

Jihad: The Rise Of Militant Islam In Central Asia

He’s a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal and the book is on the Yale University Press. Didn’t Bush drink beer at Yale? Didn’t he not seem to learn much at Yale?
Of course I wrote the nice lady back.

“I was reading a book called Jihad by Ahmed Rashid which is a history of Central Asia. I didn't speak to the man next to me past how do you do. I think Ahmed Rashid is published by Yale University Press. Bush's alma mater. Please tell your government and everyone in your office to go fuck themselves. Tell them twice. If your boss is looking for something to do, you can tell him I suggest he go fuck himself. Baghdad's safer than my hometown and your PM is a sissy. You have a nice night.”

I really don’t take kindly to that kind of shit. I like it though. Love it. Confrontation. Tension. Adversarial relationships. More please. It’s the only time it gets real.

(via James Wolcott, who linked to this story)

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Can we clone Helen Thomas?

Jeez, there are too few, entirely too few, reporters with the integrity and gumption of Helen Thomas. Why not? Can't we clone her? After Bill Moyers and Helen Thomas retires, who takes their place?

The Proletariat Network » Helen Thomas is Awesome:
Helen Thomas gave a telephone interview on the 15th on Conservatie pundit Hugh Hewitt’s radio program....

Thank god there’s still people like Helen Thomas around to remind us what journalists ought to be.

Read more

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Hunting for a Straight Shooter

MoDo has a new name for Biggus Dickus, Shooter, to go with his Chief of Staff's nickname, Scooter.

Maureen Dowd: Hunting for a Straight Shooter:

I love it when Shooter and Rummy call us unrealistic for trying to hold them to standards that they set.

Smoke doesn't get in your eye

thank godz, nor on your jacket, hair, pores. I'm compiling an informal list of restaurants where we can eat, drink and enjoy life without having to inhale second-hand smoke.

Chicago Tribune | Smoke gets thin early in lounges: From haute cuisine to beer and burgers, some Chicago-area restaurants are voluntarily going smoke-free, and learning that diners love it. Chicago's newly enacted no-smoking ordinance exempts restaurants with lounges until July 2008. But some restaurant owners in the city and elsewhere are decreeing no smoking now, even planning to prohibit it at their sidewalk cafes come spring.

Smoking has been prohibited in many venues on the East and West coasts for years. Chicago adopted an ordinance in January limiting smoking at many locations. While places remain to eat, drink and smoke, some are dispensing with the smoking.

The Capital Grille, at N. St. Claire and Ontario, went smoke-free in January.

Manager Jim Lyman said the change has not hurt business.

“It has been something very well received,” Lyman said

and contrary to what tobacco apologists predicted, banning smoking has increased business:

Keefer's Restaurant at 20 W. Kinzie St. voluntarily went smoke-free the day the ordinance passed. Managing Partner Glenn Keefer had supported the smoking ordinance strongly.

“We were so involved in the ordinance and felt so strongly about it, it was almost hypocritical” to allow smoking, he said.

Keefer's nearby competitors allow smoking. He believes some of his old smoking customers are dining elsewhere now, but more non-smokers are visiting his restaurant.

“The month of January we were up 17.7 percent for sales,” Keefer said. “This is awesome and I wish I had done it sooner.”

...Dennis Murphy, for 25 years the owner of Poor Phil's at the intersection of Marion and Pleasant Streets in Oak Park, evicted cigarettes from his restaurant more than a year ago.

“My business changed,” Murphy said. “Sales are up 10 percent.”

Murphy said he isn't sure that going smoke-free is the reason his restaurant, big on fried shrimp and hamburgers, does more business than before. Smoking has never been permitted in his main dining room, although it was in his bar and in sidewalk seating during the warm season.

Smoke-free restaurants seem to be a trend growing from the top down.

“Not one four-star restaurant in Chicago permits smoking anywhere,” Phil Vettel, Tribune restaurant critic, observed late last year.

But surprisingly, some people who smoke look forward to the day when it is banned in all restaurants and bars.

Steve Murphy, a software developer and a native of Ireland, sat at a bar in Lincoln Square recently. Before him was a beer, a shot and a pack of Winstons.

He noted that smoking in pubs is banned in Ireland, and that is fine by him. “I'll be quitting soon,” Murphy said. “And the air is cleaner.”

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Old school vs new school

Oscar Robertson, firmly in the crusty 'old school' camp writes:

Oscar Robertson: Putting the 'I' in the Lakers:

Kobe Bryant is great. But true stars make those around them better.

All the attention given to Kobe's feat exemplifies the focus of the N.B.A. today — from the news media, the fans and the players — on individual statistics instead of team success. And there are so many more stats than ever before. Not just scoring, but turnovers-to-assists ratio. Steals and blocked shots. Most technical fouls. And the most important statistic of all: who sells the most jerseys.

As far as I'm concerned, the only stat that counts is the win column. To be on top in that category, you have to play team basketball. You can't have just one or two players taking all the shots. When you get into the playoffs, you're going to need everyone to score.


I have to laugh when I read that the defenses are so much tougher today, with so many different sets, including the zone, and that's why scoring is down again, and that's why Kobe's achievement is even greater than Wilt's. Scoring is down because most offenses today make it easy on the defense. There's very little ball movement, or moving without the ball. The mid-range game has all but disappeared. It's either force the ball inside and see what happens, or kick it back out for a three-pointer.

My philosophy was always to make the weakest link stronger, and create scoring opportunities for everyone. When you're asking guys to battle for rebounds and play tough defense, you have to involve them in the offense as well.

This philosophy worked in Milwaukee with a speedy forward named Greg Smith, who learned that I would find him if he got out in front on the fast break. It worked in Cincinnati with our center, Wayne Embry, whose limited game under the basket put him at a serious disadvantage against players like Bill Russell and Wilt. But once Wayne saw that he'd be open for mid-range jumpers when I drove to the hoop, he worked hard to develop an outside shot and considerably increased his scoring average. It's important to build each player's confidence, and it's also how you build a team as the season progresses, so everyone is ready at playoff time.

So here's what today's game looks like: The ball goes inbounds, whoever gets it tries to make something happen on his own, and everybody else stands and watches. More often than not, the player with the ball looks for the three-point shot. And nobody guards him! Why wouldn't you try to stop someone from scoring three points? Even if it's a low-percentage shot, make it an even lower-percentage shot. Or is that too much like work?

I know, you've heard a lot of this from us old-school players. And you'll continue to hear it. I, for one, care too much about the game to settle for the highlight reel that N.B.A. basketball has become today. I believe Kobe does as well.

Bill Rhoden, on the other hand, thinks that the modern era players have mad freaky skillz that old timers wish they could have emulated.

...Critics used that performance as Exhibit A for how the National Basketball Association's young players were responsible for the fall of Western basketball civilization, and why the world's other basketball players had caught up with players from the United States. Targeting the N.B.A.'s young players has become a pastime for old-school basketball coaches and part of a cottage industry for former players.

Yesterday, Del Harris, coach of the second-year team, said that any coach was required to do more teaching and explaining “because the league is younger now and hasn't been coached as much.”

As recently as Wednesday, Larry Brown, the Knicks' coach, lamented: “Now all you hear about our league is individual players. It's almost become an individual sport.”

Let's give this a rest; I've heard enough. In fact, effective immediately, Commissioner David Stern should put a moratorium on youth bashing. The game has never been more popular, never more global, and it's largely because of the young blood.

What do I think? These two positions are not mutually exclusive. Personally, I prefer watching team ball versus the stand-around model, but with skilled players, guys who can make jump shots, handle the ball in traffic, yadda yadda.

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Friday foto-blah-blah


Some photos that happened to sneak onto my computer this week. Please, no gambling.

street scene with chandelier
Street Scene with Chandelier, West Loop.

Huge closeup

Cheney is the new Man in Black

Oil that is, black gold.

(direct link to mp3 file)

Huggington Post

Vice President Dick “Buckshot” Cheney kept his word to the inmates at California's maximum security Folsom State Prison. He played a one hour set with his band “Dickie and The Trigger Happy Birdie Killers”. The set received a luke warm reception until Cheney launched into his new, as yet unreleased, single “Go Fuck Yourself”. During the guitar solo the Vice President thrilled the assembled audience by producing a rifle and opening fire.
“He seems angry. Very angry” one inmate said “I mean, I always thought that the American people didn't like to vote for angry people but...Man, that dude is angry!”
I managed to obtain a tape of the performance and am proud to present it here....

Turn that Mutha up!


Massive book for overcrowded shelves

I may have to move soon, there isn't much more space on any shelves anymore. I think I'm adding this reference book however. I can always find room for 'just one more thing'...

Encyclopedia of Chicago
Encyclopedia of Chicago

Developed over the last 10 years by the Newberry Library with the cooperation of the Chicago Historical Society, the monumental Encyclopedia of Chicago will be the definitive historical reference source on Chicago for years to come. Funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the John D and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the City of Chicago, the state of Illinois, and three major Chicago corporations helped ensure a very reasonable price. Some 633 experts from across the U.S. wrote the more than 1,400 entries. The encyclopedia is enhanced with numerous photos, engravings, and maps.

Entries treat such topics as Acting, ensemble; Agrarian movements; Annexation; Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Literary images of Chicago; Machine politics; and much, much more. Besides encompassing Chicago history, ethnic groups, businesses, cultural institutions, sports, crime, architecture, religions, and other topics, the editors wanted to have the broadest geographic coverage. In addition to the 77 recognized Chicago neighborhoods, 298 suburban municipalities in the six surrounding counties in northern Illinois and two in northern Indiana are covered. Biographical entries of prominent Chicagoans are not included since these would duplicate information in such readily available sources as the American National Biography (Oxford, 1999) and Woman Building Chicago, 1790-1990 (Indiana Univ., 2001). Instead there is a “Biographical Dictionary” at the end of the book that lists 2,000 deceased Chicagoans with short entries noting birth, death, and occupation. There is also a separate “Dictionary of Leading Chicago Businesses, 1820-2000” that offers brief historical summaries for 236 for-profit companies. Important companies are also discussed in entries on significant industry sectors such as Clothing and garment manufacturing, Department stores, Iron and steel, and transportation. These entries are very detailed and give a complete history of each industry and its place in Chicago.

The encyclopedia is set up in an A-Z format with three types of entries--broad essays of 1,000 to 4,000 words, midlevel entries of 200 to 1,000 words, and basic entries of 200 words. The broad essays give an overview and synthesize scholarship on a subject, while the basic entries focus on a specific event or institution and give brief information to identify what it is and why it is important. The midlevel entries are meant to fill in the gaps left by the broad essays and give more analysis than is found in the basic entries. All entries are signed and cross-referenced and list a bibliography of related books and articles for further reading. The work also features 21 long interpretative essays that reflect recent scholarship in urban history (for example, Racism, ethnicity, and white identity; Street life); numerous sidebars that offer varying viewpoints on different topics; a time line of Chicago history; a list of Chicago mayors; historical population statistics for all municipalities; several inserts with color photos and maps; and a comprehensive 60-page index. Fifty-six maps cover topics such as blues clubs in Chicago, Chicago's Deep Tunnel system, Indian settlement patterns in 1830, street railways in 1890, and movie theaters in Chicago in 1926, 1937, and 2002. A notable feature of the volume is the 400 thumbnail maps that show where each municipality and neighborhood is located in the Chicagoland region.

oh, and of course, sitting already on my sidebar, was a link to the site itself


Netflix settlement

Follow up on a previous posting re: the Netflix settlement debacle.

Netflix Mulling Revision to Settlement
Hoping to satisfy federal regulators, Netflix Inc. appears ready to revise a proposed class-action settlement so 6 million consumers eligible for a free sample of its online DVD rental service aren't automatically charged after the one-month offer expires.

..Four months after the suit was filed, Netflix changed its terms of use to acknowledge it sometimes delays shipments to frequent renters so it can give priority to customers who keep their movies longer. The practice, derided as “throttling” by its critics, helps Netflix boost its profits.

The proposed settlement has also come under fire because the attorneys who filed the suit will receive $2.53 million -- 64 percent of the $3.98 million that Netflix expects to spend on the deal.

Gutride and Seth Safier, another attorney in the case, maintain the settlement is worth $85.5 million if everyone eligible accepts Netflix's free DVD offer. The attorney say they deserve to be paid $2.53 million because they have spent more than 2,100 hours working on the case.

and the Tribune article links to http://www.netflixsettlementsucks.com/, strangely enough.

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Virus schmirus

No worries from our perspective, though 'tis quite interesting to watch how many news stories misrepresent the details. Not surprising if one follows politics, I suppose.

MacDailyNews - Apple and Mac News - Welcome Home
A file called “latestpics.tgz” was recently posted on a Mac rumors web site (www.macrumors.com), claiming to be pictures of “Mac OS X Leopard.” Mac Rumors has, for some unknown reason, headlined their article “The First Mac OS X Virus?” - although they do seem to have recently tacked on the parenthetical “A New OS X Trojan” to the headine and added this statement to the end of their article: “It appears that there is some debate about the classification of this application, and as it does require user activation, it appears to fall into the Trojan classification, rather than self-propogating through any particular vulnerability in OS X.”

Ambrosia Software's Andrew Welch explains:
You cannot be infected by this unless you do all of the following:
1) Are somehow sent (via email, iChat, etc.) or download the “latestpics.tgz” file
2) Double-click on the file to decompress it
3) Double-click on the resulting file to “open” it
...and then for most users, you must also enter your Admin password.

It does not exploit any security holes; rather it uses “social engineering” to get the user to launch it on their system. It requires the admin password if you're not running as an admin user. It doesn't actually do anything other than attempt to propagate itself via iChat. It has a bug in the code that prevents it from working as intended, which has the side-effect of preventing infected applications from launching. It's not particularly sophisticated.

So, for those inclined to hyperbole and panic: relax. You cannot simply “catch” a trojan as you would a “virus.” There are zero Mac OS X viruses. This is not the first Mac OS X trojan and it won't be the last. Even if someone does send you the “latestpics.tgz” file, you cannot be infected unless you unarchive the file, then open it, and authorize it to run. Just trash it. As usual, do not install and run applications from untrusted sources. Do not run Mac OS X as “root.” Same stuff as usual.

more details here

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Mr. Vice President, It's Time to Go

Bob Herbert wants Biggus Dickus to resign. Odds of this happening are slim to zilch. What would the dauphin do without his puppeteer?

Bob Herbert: Mr. Vice President, It's Time to Go
There's a reason Dick Cheney is obsessive about shunning the spotlight. His record is not the kind you want to hold up for intense scrutiny.

complete article below, for a day or so, before I redact it. Information should be free!!

Darko Milicic

ESPN.com - NBA - Detroit deals Darko, Arroyo for Magic's Cato
During practices and workouts, Milicic often looked impressive scoring on an array of low-post moves, mid-range jumpers and 3-pointers. His skills rarely carried over into games.

yes, hence the trade. Is Chad Ford going to be fired now?

Shooter Slips on a Silencer

Maureen Dowd on Dead-Eye Dick:

MoDo: Shooter Slips on a Silencer

The luckless 78-year-old is in intensive care after a heart attack, and still his friend, the vice president, is Swift-BB-ing him.

Who did this old guy think he was, coming between Dick Cheney and his helpless prey?

The luckless 78-year-old Texas lawyer, Harry Whittington, is in intensive care after a heart attack, with up to 200 pellets riddling his face and body — one stuck in his heart — from Dick Cheney's designer Perazzi Brescia shotgun. And still his friend, the vice president, is Swift-BB-ing him.

Private citizens have been enlisted to blame the victim. Maybe poor Mr. Whittington put himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. But he was, after all, behind Vice, not in front of him. And the hunter pulling the trigger is supposed to make sure he has a clear shot. Wouldn't it be, well, classy for Shooter to express just a bit of contrition and humility?

Instead, the usual sliming has begun, with the Cheney camp trying to protect the vice president by casting a veteran hunter as Elmer Dud.

Scott McClellan told the White House press corps that Katharine Armstrong, a lobbyist with government ties who owns the Texas ranch (and whose mother, Anne, was on the Halliburton board that hired Mr. Cheney as C.E.O.), “pointed out that the protocol was not followed by Mr. Whittington when it came to notifying the others that he was there.”

As the story of the weekend's bizarre hunting accident is wrenched out of the White House, the picture isn't pretty: With American soldiers dying in Iraq, Five-Deferment Dick “I Had Other Priorities in the 60's Than Military Service” Cheney gets his macho kicks gunning down little birds and the occasional old man while W. rides his bike, blissfully oblivious to any collateral damage. Shouldn't these guys work on weekends until we figure out how to fix Iraq, New Orleans, Medicare and gas prices?

Beat Museum

I'd be interested in going to this museum next time I'm in the area.

Chicago Tribune | He's got the Beats

A devotee of Kerouac and Ginsberg revives their literary and cultural legacy at a new museum in San Francisco's North Beach
[The Beat Museum
1345 Grant, San Francisco
Ca, 94133]
In a modest one-room space sublet from the Live Worms art gallery on upper Grant Street, the museum uses letters, videos, books and photographs to tell the story of the writers known as the Beats.

Kerouac, Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and others sought to break from the conformity of the 1950s by writing about spiritual emptiness and longing, often using loose, stream-of-consciousness prose and poetry.

“Beat generation authors wrote enduring works of literature,” said Ann Charters, an English professor at the University of Connecticut and the editor of several books about the Beats. “These are poems and books written more than a half a century ago that are still selling like hot cakes.”

The free museum, which opened last month, is the project of Jerry Cimino, a retired IBM computer salesman in his 50s who, as he began his career nearly 30 years ago, developed a passion for the style and message of the Beats.

A 1965 black-and-white photograph shows Bob Dylan, Ginsberg and writer Michael McClure in a North Beach alley near City Lights, the bookstore that played a key role in the Beat movement. The bookstore, co-founded by Ferlinghetti, published Ginsberg's “Howl and Other Poems” in 1956.

A year later, U.S. Customs seized the second printing of “Howl” and charged that it was obscene. In a landmark censorship ruling, federal Judge Clayton Horn ruled the book was not obscene and said that part of it “seems to be a declamation that everything in the world is holy, including parts of the body by name.”

The museum has drawn a stream of the curious and the devout. Coincidentally, it opened at the same time the San Francisco Public Library is exhibiting a portion of the original manuscript of “On The Road,” which was written on unusually long reams of paper.

The photographer Thomas Hawk visited the Kerouac exhibition recently and snuck a few photos (read his open letter to Myra Borshoff Cook re copyright and museums):

(all photos taken by Thomas Hawk), available via Creative Commons

Don't even get me started on the inanity of museums stopping patrons from taking photographs.

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Rove and Abramoff

Karl Rove seems to have his grubby little fingers in most slices of Republican pie, makes sense that Rove would be buddies with Jack Abramoff.

Chicago Tribune | Abramoff said to arrange Bush meeting
When the government of Malaysia sought to repair its tarnished image in the United States by arranging a meeting between President Bush and its controversial prime minister in 2002, it followed the same strategy as many other well-heeled interests in Washington: It called on well-connected lobbyist Jack Abramoff for help.

It was a tall order. The prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, had been chastised by the Clinton administration for repeated anti-Semitic statements and for jailing his political opponents. But it was important to the Malaysians, according to an Abramoff associate who attended meetings with the Malaysian ambassador and Abramoff.

Abramoff contacted presidential adviser Karl Rove on at least four occasions to help arrange a meeting, according to an eyewitness to the activities.

Finally, this former associate said, Rove's office called to tell Abramoff personally that the Malaysian leader would soon be getting an official White House invitation.

Politics in Illinois are always fun

John Kass has some fun gossip masquerading as speculation. Funnier if you've heard prior speculation about a jail break being orchestrated to make the sheriff look bad. Here's the back story first:


Watergate is probably the benchmark for all political dirty tricks, but Illinois has a rich trove of its own shenanigans.

Republican consultant Karl Rove, these days the White House political czar, stole stationery from Democrat Alan Dixon in 1970 and used it to flood a Dixon campaign event for state treasurer with homeless people. The fake invites promised free liquor and food.

Near the end of his 1992 primary campaign for a congressional seat, Democrat Mel Reynolds said he was grazed by a bullet in a drive-by shooting. Who shot MR? Nobody figured it out, though Reynolds got a lot of attention while he campaigned with a bandage on his forehead that seemed to get bigger by the day.

Hardly a campaign goes by without charges of yard signs ripped down, bricks thrown through windows of campaign offices and political workers being harassed. But as harebrained political stunts go, the one that looks to be unfolding behind Saturday night's Cook County Jail breakout is in a class by itself.

Investigators say that a guard who initially reported that inmates overpowered him has now admitted that he aided the plot. The goal: to embarrass outgoing Sheriff Michael Sheahan and Tom Dart, the sheriff's chief of staff. Dart is the front-runner for the Democratic nomination to replace Sheahan.

Investigators say the guard's story is that he was trying to help one of Dart's opponents, Richard Remus, a former jail official who resigned in 2003 after he was accused of abusing inmates. Remus has sued Sheahan's administration, charging he's been made the fall guy in the abuse probe. He says that Sheahan's office is now smearing him by concocting the story that the jailbreak was a conspiracy designed to benefit him. (Another Democrat, Sylvester Baker Jr., is also running.)

Six inmates escaped, but all were picked up by Monday. One of the inmates has been convicted of murder. All but one of the others face charges of violent crimes, including murder, kidnapping and armed robbery. Six guards were suspended Tuesday pending an investigation of the escape. Late Tuesday, one of them was charged with six criminal counts related to the escape.

There's a wild political story in here somewhere. It's going to take a while for the facts and the motives to be sorted out.

Today John Kass writes:

Chicago Tribune | Hard to throw cold water on hot-tub sex

It was a bright autumn afternoon when Cheryl Nash pulled into her suburban driveway after work. The poor woman had no idea she was about to become involved in a political story involving an allegedly nekkid cop and sex in a hot tub--which may or may not have anything to do with a plot involving jailbreaks and the Cook County sheriff's election.

...“My son is in the computer room, which has a clear view of the hot tub next door and he can see everything,” she told us. “He watched it. He saw. I told him to stop watching. He's 14 and I'm on the phone [with the police], and he's out looking on the deck after that too. He was. I'm not going to lie. He's 14 years old. Well, he's 15 now.

”I said to the [dispatcher], `Is it legal to be outside having sex in your hot tub?' She said, `No.' And so she dispatched a squad.“

One love-tubber was later identified by police and prosecutors as a 22-year-old Orland Park man.

The other was identified as Lt. Kelly Mrozek, 38, of the Cook County Sheriff's Police, though she was without her gun, badge or swimsuit.

The Nash family wanted to sign a complaint. The Lockport Police Department, perhaps bowing to the notion of professional courtesy, wasn't interested in filing charges against a sister officer.

Mrozek's brother-in-law is the operations chief for Cook County Sheriff Michael Sheahan. Hmmmm.

Big Oil and Biggus Dickus

No freaking way! I mean, we do live in a capitalist society and all, but do we have to have our faces rubbed in the shit so frequently? Can someone remind me exactly why the oil companies deserve all this largesse again? Other than electing Deadeye Dick and his little hand-puppet/pal Incurious George, that is.

U.S. Has Royalty Plan to Give Windfall to Oil Companies
The government is on the verge of one of the biggest oil and gas giveaways in U.S. history, some 7 billion dollars over five years.

New projections, buried in the Interior Department's just-published budget plan, anticipate that the government will let companies pump about $65 billion worth of oil and natural gas from federal territory over the next five years without paying any royalties to the government.

Based on the administration figures, the government will give up more than $7 billion in payments between now and 2011. The companies are expected to get the largess, known as royalty relief, even though the administration assumes that oil prices will remain above $50 a barrel throughout that period.

and that's not all, folks....

Mr. Bush and House Republicans are trying to kill a one-year, $5 billion windfall profits tax for oil companies that the Senate passed last fall.

Moreover, the projected largess could be just the start. Last week, Kerr-McGee Exploration and Development, a major industry player, began a brash but utterly serious court challenge that could, if it succeeds, cost the government another $28 billion in royalties over the next five years.

In what administration officials and industry executives alike view as a major test case, Kerr-McGee told the Interior Department last week that it planned to challenge one of the government's biggest limitations on royalty relief if it could not work out an acceptable deal in its favor. If Kerr-McGee is successful, administration projections indicate that about 80 percent of all oil and gas from federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico would be royalty-free.

“It's one of the greatest train robberies in the history of the world,” said Representative George Miller, a California Democrat who has fought royalty concessions on oil and gas for more than a decade. “It's the gift that keeps on giving.”

One of the greatest scams ever perpetrated - convincing lower and middle class Americans that the Republicans were on their side, despite much evidence to the contrary. John Kelso had a nice line (via Alternate Brain, I still despise the Austin-American Statesman, and their overly-intrusive registration process):

Which makes me wonder. For deer, hunters put out deer corn. When your quarry is a Republican, what do you put out? Piles of cash?

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Since we are so flush with cash

good to know that the budget is being handled by the responsible, Harvard-MBA educated president-select. No deficit spending need apply. Errr....

GAO REPORT: WHITE HOUSE SPENT $1.62 BILLION FOR ADVERTISING The Bush administration has spent $1.62 billion over two and a half years on advertising and public relations contracts, the Government Accountability Office said today. And the House Democrats who requested the report immediately assailed the administration for the spending.

Democrats were reacting to reports the administration had used video news releases that didn’t identify the government as the provider of the information, had paid reporters and columnists to support its programs and had used Medicare communications to tout its senior drug plan shortly before an election.

The GAO surveyed seven departments and reported that of the $1.62 billion, $1.4 billion was the result of 137 contracts with ad agencies, $197 million for 54 contracts with PR firms, $15 million for 131 contracts with media organizations and eight contracts totaling $100,000 for individual members of the media

not to worry - this isn't a true accounting anyway:

the report didn’t survey the whole government and, in fact, left off two major government advertising programs, that of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy for its youth anti-drug media campaign and the U.S. Postal Service.

For a little context of how much money that is in marketing dollars, the advertising press reports big news like H&R Block's $80 million account moving to a different agency, or Dell Computer's $250 million account shifting, etc. Granted, there are a few corporations that spent more than $1.62 billion (plus another few hundred million bucks each for the propagandists at the ONDCP and the USPS) on advertising, but not many (PDF of top 2004 advertisers). Actually, in Ad Age's survey, the US Government is estimated to have spent 1.2 billion in 2004, more than Microsoft, Citi, Viacom, for instance. Not chump change, in other words.

Of course, our troops in Iraq still can't get body armor, but gotta have priorities!

Says Nancy Pelosi:

“No amount of money will successfully sell the Bush Administration's failed policies, from the war in Iraq, to its disastrous energy policy, to its confusing Medicare prescription drug benefits,” said Democratic Leader Pelosi. “The American people know the Bush Administration is on the wrong track and the White House PR machine won't change that fact.”

Vecsey reads the internets?

I'm curious as to what blog Peter Vecsey is referring to here - Dime perhaps?

New York Post Online Edition: sports
No wonder more and more people don't believe what they read in the sports pages.

In the last few days, multiple media outlets have reported the Knicks have discussed or are discussing trades involving Malik Rose, Danny Fortson, Reggie Evans, Steve Francis, Kenyon Martin, Earl Watson, Theo Ratliff, Ruben Patterson, Lamar Odom, Trevor Ariza, Nate Robinson, Davis Lee, Clyde Lee and Butch Lee.

The bulk of the info is completely bogus, the remainder practically prehistoric.

Before commencing the debunking, it's imperative to get one thing seamlessly straight so you can refer back to it the next time a newspaper, or a clueless, talking headache, or a four-letter Internet outlaw — infamous for routinely rustling any and all material, inaccurate or otherwise, and branding it as its own — claims it has inside info about a Knick trade:

Isiah Thomas has one exceptionally coveted asset, Channing Frye, a major asset in Eddy Curry that very few teams, if any, would take a chance on because of his uninsured heart, and an alluring asset in David Lee.

Vecsey may not always have a direct line on the truth, but I always enjoy his beat-downs, especially televised ones. Last week, NBA-TV paired him with some talking-head pretty boy, new to me, and Vecsey could barely disguise his disdain. Funny stuff.

Film Snob

In an obvious outgrowth of the Rock Snob dictionary, the same author (David Kamp) is releasing a Film Snob dictionary as well.

The Film Snob*s Dictionary : An Essential Lexicon of Filmological Knowledge (David Kamp, Lawrence Levi)

“The Film Snob*s Dictionary : An Essential Lexicon of Filmological Knowledge” (David Kamp, Lawrence Levi)

As a film school drop-out, I might as well add this to my library right now. The Rock Snob dictionary did lead me to a few new avenues of music, plus a few one-liners for my next pontification session. Ahem. Tickets still available.

From the same brain trust that brought you The Rock Snob*s Dictionary, the hilarious, bestselling guide to insiderist rock arcana, comes The Film Snob*s Dictionary, an informative and subversively funny A-to-Z reference guide to all that is held sacred by Film Snobs, those perverse creatures of the repertory cinema. No longer must you suffer silently as some clerk in a “Tod Browning’s Freaks” T-shirt bombards you with baffling allusions to “wire-fu” pictures, “Todd-AO process,” and “Sam Raimi.” By helping to close the knowledge gap between average moviegoers and incorrigible Snobs, the dictionary lets you in on hidden gems that film geeks have been hoarding (such as Douglas Sirk and Guy Maddin movies) while exposing the trash that Snobs inexplicably laud (e.g., most chop-socky films and Mexican wrestling pictures). Delightfully illustrated and handily organized in alphabetical order for quick reference, The Film Snob*s Dictionary is your fail-safe companion in the video store, the cineplex, or wherever insufferable Film Snobs congregate.

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Summertime Dreaming

Famine or swine
Currently, 24 degrees (F) outside, but it won't last forever...

Mostly Cloudy

24°F (-4°C)
Humidity: 57 %
Wind Speed: SW 15 G 24 MPH
Barometer: 29.87“ (1012.4 mb)
Dewpoint: 11°F (-12°C)
Wind Chill: 11°F (-12°C)

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Vietnam war resisters in Canada

More roots discussion - noticed via a visit to my site from someone in Toronto, searching for “yellow ford truck baldwin toronto”. I may have posted this before, or am living in a state of confusion....

Robert Fulford's column about Vietnam war resisters in Canada
...It was a vivid, eventful period, and Northern Passage captures it deftly. John Hagan, now 55 and attached to the University of Toronto law school, has written on subjects such as the lives of lawyers, relations between the law and the Chinese in Canada, sentencing procedures and homelessness. At the moment he's studying the procedures of the war-crimes tribunal at The Hague. Last week he and I had lunch at a window table at Cafe la Gaffe, one of the 22 restaurants that today fill Baldwin Street, the little block south of the University of Toronto where dodgers roosted in the early 1970s.

We surveyed the Indonesian and Chinese restaurants across the street and tried to figure out precisely where the dodgers' famous photography gallery (long dead) was located [north side of the street! should have asked me!]-- was it next to the crafts store (also long dead) [no], or farther along? This story has engaged Hagan for many years. He decided when he first arrived in Canada that he would someday tell it, and in the 1990s he conducted sociological interviews with the war resisters. He spent two arduous years in the editing process with Harvard University Press, because he wanted an account of these people (who are mostly forgotten in the U.S. as well as Canada) to have a place on the top rung of American academic publishing.

The Toronto dodgers found their geographical focus, by a process no one remembers, on a downtrodden street that was mostly abandoned by the old Jewish community and not yet taken up by the Chinese. Dozens of dodgers settled around Baldwin, then scores, then a few hundred. Many newcomers went there to find their feet and quickly moved on. Over five years, one house contained roughly 100 different dodgers for brief periods. Baldwin Street acquired co-operative craft stores (the Yellow Ford Truck and Ragnarokr), a cheap clothing store (the Cosmic Egg), the Whole Earth Natural Foods Store, and the Baldwin Street Gallery, a pioneering photography centre. One of the gallery's owners, John Phillips, turned out to be an especially enthusiastic new Canadian. Many years later he recalled the day he drove into Canada as a moment of ecstasy, one of the happiest times of his life.

Baldwin Street developed a communal atmosphere, what one deserter (originally from Vermont) later recalled as a small-town feeling. It was a place where people knew their neighbors and enjoyed the consolations of familiarity and acceptance. It was a community built around a political issue, however, and the issue was resolved when the Carter administration forgave the dodgers and invited them home. The Baldwin Street ghetto lost its reason for being, and before the 1970s were over it vanished. Some of the people who had needed it were by then back home, being Americans again, and many of the others had turned into Canadians.

Me? When I was young, I strongly identified as being Canadian, as being the outsider, the Exile, especially when living in East Texas (moved in 1980, soon after President Carter declared amnesty). Now, I don't bother mentioning my origins unless the conversation twists in that direction - an unusual occurrence. I've instructed D to say that I'm from Austin TX (which is nearly true) when the subject comes up. Of course, I still retain my Canadian citizenship papers - being a dual citizen is occasionally useful, especially psychologically. I still am a Stranger in the Land of Locusts, an Exile without rings, but I keep my own counsel.

Northern Passage : American Vietnam War Resisters in Canada (John Hagan)
“Northern Passage : American Vietnam War Resisters in Canada” (John Hagan)

As I've blathered previously, I purchased Hagan's book, but have only glanced at it so far.

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Flogging the Gold rush

Another entry in the 'blogging gold rush' file. General Motors, Trump, Mazda, Wrigley, et al are more corporate bloggers who are attempting to figure out the medium.

Chicago Tribune | Pinstripes invading blogosphere
Blogs have gone corporate, raising doubts about the credibility of a fast-growing Internet innovation once used primarily for private thoughts. Business honchos from Donald Trump to General Motors executive Bob Lutz are among those embracing the new online journals, to the dismay of some blogging purists skeptical about the authenticity of such from-the-top viewpoints. The same worries have arisen as Wrigley, McDonald's and Boeing, to name a few, churn out interactive diaries aimed at generating word of mouth about the goods and services they sell. The upshot is a growing backlash against fake blogs launched for commercial purposes -- dubbed “flogs” -- as well as suspicions that corporate executives rarely write the entries attributed to them.

Unmentioned in this discussion is the simple fact that without compelling content, nobody is reading whatever Mr. Lutz deigns to thumb-type on his Blackberry. Mark Cuban often (not always) has interesting things to say, but I'm not sure if I'd subscribe to an rss feed of Jack Welsh's ruminations even if I knew about such a site. What would he say that would interest me? On the other hand, I do subscribe to Davd Sifry's blog, for example - there are tidbits of interest there occasionally.

(more excerpts saved for posterity, below the jump. Cranky, parenthetical note: speaking as the D list blogger spokesperson for a moment, there wouldn't be a need to excerpt such large portions of articles if live links didn't die so quickly. I would rather just provide a link, and perhaps a paragraph or two, but link rot is a pain. I happened to look at a posting I made about a year ago, and all 7 of the links to major media organizations led to either 'dead' links or 'pay for view' pages. I would really save a lot of storage space, eyeball space, and copyright-infringement worry if more sites used the BBC or Wired Magazine model of permanent links. My content, such that it is, is available years later, why isn't the Chicago Tribune's? Anyway...)

Smoking Dutch Cleanser


MoDo isn't bad today. I'd say something else, but it wouldn't really matter. You're going to read this either way.

Smoking Dutch Cleanser - New York Times
Vice President Dick Cheney bitterly complains that national security leaks are endangering America. Unless, of course, he's doing the leaking, tapping Scooter Libby to reveal national security information to punish a political critic.
President Bush says he will not talk about specific security threats to America. Unless, of course, he needs to talk about a specific threat to Los Angeles to confuse the public and gain some cheap political advantage.
The White House says it has done everything possible to protect the homeland. Unless, of course, it hasn't. Then it can lie to hide the callous portrait of Incurious George in Crawford as New Orleans drowned.
The attorney general can claim that torture and warrantless wiretapping are legal, and can mislead Congress. Unless, of course, enough Republicans stand up and say, as Arlen Specter told The Washington Post, that if that lickspittle lawyer thinks all this is legal, “he's smoking Dutch Cleanser.”
The president doesn't know the Indian Taker Jack Abramoff. Unless, of course, W. has met with him a dozen times, invited him to Crawford and joked with him about his kids.

Bush On The Bong
Bush taking a big hit of off the bong, filled with Dutch cleanser, no doubt.

Oh, ok, I'll say that I am not sure Ms. Dowd is correct with her assumption that the Muslim outrage re Denmark right wingers is directly linked to the inept administration currently ruining America's good name.

SBC wants to sell you out

Copy of the actual complaint here

EFF: Breaking News

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a class-action lawsuit against AT&T (f/k/a SBC) Tuesday, accusing the telecom giant of violating the law and the privacy of its customers by collaborating with the National Security Agency (NSA) in its massive and illegal program to wiretap and data-mine Americans' communications.

The NSA program came to light in December, when the New York Times reported that the president had authorized the agency to intercept telephone and Internet communications inside the United States without the authorization of any court. Over the ensuing weeks, it became clear that the NSA program has been intercepting and analyzing millions of Americans' communications, with the help of the country's largest phone and Internet companies.

Reporting has also indicated that those same companies—and AT&T specifically—have given the NSA direct access to their vast databases of communications records, including information about whom their customers have phoned or emailed with in the past. And yet little has been accomplished by this illegal spying: recent reports have shown that the data from this wholesale surveillance has done little more than waste FBI resources on dead leads.

“The NSA program is apparently the biggest fishing expedition ever devised, scanning millions of ordinary Americans' phone calls and emails for 'suspicious' patterns, and it's the collaboration of US telecom companies like AT&T that makes it possible,” said EFF Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. “When the government defends spying on Americans by saying, 'If you're talking to terrorists we want to know about it,' that's not even close to the whole story.”

In the lawsuit, EFF alleges that AT&T, in addition to allowing the NSA direct access to the phone and Internet communications passing over its network, has given the government unfettered access to its over 300 terabyte “Daytona” database of caller information—one of the largest databases in the world.

“AT&T's customers reasonably expect that their communications are private and have long trusted AT&T to follow the law and protect that privacy. Unfortunately, AT&T has betrayed that trust,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Lee Tien. “At the NSA's request, AT&T eviscerated the legal safeguards required by Congress and the courts with a keystroke.”

By opening its network and databases to unrestricted spying by the government, EFF alleges that AT&T has violated the privacy of AT&T customers and the people they call and email, as well as broken longstanding communications privacy laws.

While other organizations are suing the government directly, EFF is seeking to protect Americans' privacy by stopping the collaboration of AT&T with the illegal NSA spying program and making it economically impossible for AT&T to continue to give its customers' information to the government.

“Congress has set up strong laws protecting the privacy of your communications, strictly limiting when telephone and Internet companies can subject your phone calls to government scrutiny,” said EFF Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. “The companies that have betrayed their customers' trust by illegally handing the NSA direct access to their networks and databases must be brought to account. AT&T needs to put a sign on its door that reads, 'Come Back With a Warrant.'”

In the suit filed Tuesday, EFF is representing the class of all AT&T customers nationwide. EFF is seeking an injunction to stop AT&T participation in the illegal NSA program, as well as billions of dollars in damages for violation of federal privacy laws. Working with EFF in the lawsuit are the law firms Traber & Voorhees, and Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins LLP.

SBC lost one small business customer already - us. Our current long distance provider leases its lines from ATT, and of late, has been failing to properly account for our calls. So ATT bills us directly for the calls we've already been billed for by our provider, at a much higher rate. Our provider gets an irate phone call from us, then supposedly takes care of the problem. However, since this little charade has been going on since the summer, we considered just switching to ATT. Avoiding the middle man as it were. Until we read of how eagerly, without even much asking, ATT turned over their databases to the Feds. Bleh. No thanks. When we called today, we insisted upon moving up the 'food chain', and speaking to a supervisory person.

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City Planning

Yet another meeting with the City of Chicago (DCAP) today re our Yurt plans. Since last discussed (nearly 2 freaking years ago!!), we have finally got architect-stamped plans, structural engineer-stamped plans, and Condo board sign offs. Now, just need to get our plans approved at City Hall. I believe our first meeting with the City was in Sept (maybe August) of last year. They requested additional information, but then our architect sort of fell asleep, or became a junkie, or something, and even with our constant prodding, didn't do what he said he would do in a timely fashion. Perhaps he had other priorities?

Had 3rd meeting at the City yesterday, but then our architect didn't show up (he claimed to have had the wrong date written down. If this was an isolated occurrence, sure, I'd probably believe him. But it isn't). Anyway, was able to get the meeting rescheduled for today. Wish us luck!

Currently, building a narrow spiral stair up to the roof from the 6th floor into a fairly small “stair enclosure”. Surrounding this structure will be decking and green roofing (succulents mostly, but perhaps some trees). After this all is built, we place a 16 foot diameter yurt.

Scan of fairly recent edition of the plans below the fold.

Now, can we afford to build this? No, but then that is what home equity loans are for, right?

Photographers as terrorists

Amusing, yet alarming anecdote by Patrick Smith of Salon. Apparently, the act of taking photographs in airports is considered suspicious, worthy of investigation. Oh, yeah, I forgot, 9/11 changed everything, and now we live in a totalitarian society, or nearly.

(free pass to read the article if you watch some advertisement)

Salon.com Technology | Ask the pilot

I took some pictures at the airport -- and fell into the clutches of bureaucrats mouthing the cheap prose of patriotic convenience.

....It's January 2006, and I'm at the airport in Manchester, N.H. This is a state, mind you, famous for its fiery brand of New England individualism -- a haven for refugees from big-government tyrannies, like that sweltering welfare state to the south, Massachusetts. Here, license plates cry liberty in no uncertain terms: “Live Free or Die.”

There's a shiny new airport in Manchester, and I'm there to take pictures as part of an article I'm working on for that mouthpiece of liberal fascism, the Boston Globe. I've shot about six digital pictures, and I'm working on the seventh -- a nicely framed view of the terminal façade -- when I hear the stern “Excuse me.” A young guy in a navy windbreaker steps toward me. It says AIRPORT SECURITY in block letters across his back. “You can't do that. You need to put the camera away.”

“I do? Why?”

“Pictures aren't allowed.”

“They're not?”


“Sorry what? I don't think that's true, actually. I'm pretty sure that it isn't illegal to take pictures at an airport.”

“You'll need to talk to a deputy, sir.”

I slip the camera into a pocket as the guard, who despite his crested cap and cocksure understanding of the rules, is a private security guard and not a law enforcement official, quickly summons over two members of the Rockingham County sheriff's department, which administers the Manchester airport.

The deputies -- a woman and a man -- are polite but stern, and they'd like to know exactly what I'm doing. “You need to have a permit to take photographs,” one of them says. “Maybe we can call and see if they'll give you clearance.”

I'm not sure I believe it. “What do I need a permit for? Is there a rule here against taking pictures? Is it illegal?”

“I don't know,” she replies, crossly, as if the question somehow isn't relevant. “I don't think so, technically.”

“So, if not, why would I need a permit?”

“That's what the airport wants. You'll have to ask the airport manager.”

They ask to see press credentials. When I explain that I'm a freelancer they demand a driver's license. The woman deputy takes it and disappears for several minutes.

Traveling is inherently an activity with lots of down time, and unless you are able to amuse yourself, waiting around in airports is very boring. Pre-GWB, I took plenty of photographs of people and airport architecture, just to pass the time. Now, you have to sneak surreptitious snap-shots, quickly, before overly-aggressive rent-a-cops come harass you. Train stations and other public places too. The excellent photographer who goes by the name Thomas Hawk (his blog here) wrote about getting harassed just taking photos of a building, from the sidewalk! (and on another occasion, in the warehouse district in Oakland, too lazy to find link). Museums I can maybe see restrictions - thousands of flash exposures isn't good for a Leonardo sketch - but not always. How is a Rodin sculpture going to be damaged by cameras? Or a Flavin?

Os Mutantes Rules


I kick myself for missing the Tropicalia exhibit at the MCA, but at least I had the absolute pleasure to watch Tom Ze perform with Tortoise as his backing performance art-house band a few years ago. Probably one of the five best live perfomances I've ever seen. Simply spectacular.

Os Mutantes
Os Mutantes

Guardian Unlimited | Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa, Jorge Ben, Os Mutantes and Tom Ze: Tropicalia/A Brazilian Revolution in Sound
“They looked like three angels,” the singer and composer Caetano Veloso wrote of his first sight of the members of Os Mutantes, a young rock group from Sao Paulo whom he met in the mid-60s. They were two boys, Arnaldo and Sergio Dias Baptista, the sons of a composer and a poet, and Rita Lee Jones, the daughter of an American expatriate father and an Italian-Brazilian mother. Even to a fellow member of Brazil's younger generation, this trio exuded a fascinating otherness. Everything around them, Veloso wrote, “tasted of anarchy and decorum”. And almost 40 years later, they still sound like nothing on earth.

Veloso, Os Mutantes, Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa and Tom Ze formed the core of Tropicalia, a musical movement that began as a response to the smooth complacency of commercial Brazilian music on the one hand and the looming repression of a military dictatorship on the other. Although it lasted barely a year, its transforming and invigorating power extended to beyond music to literature and the visual arts. And whereas the dark era that began with a military coup in 1964 is now relegated to Brazil's history, the music it inspired sounds fresher and more provocative than ever. All aspects of the movement are currently being explored in a three-month series of concerts, exhibitions and talks at the Barbican in London, but the music itself comes under useful scrutiny in this new compilation released by the enterprising Soul Jazz label and devoted to the recordings of the chief protagonists from the time, between 1968 and 1970, when they were at their most influential.

The compilation this review covers is apparently not yet available in the US, but there are other Os Mutantes albums available. Weird, psychedelic, yet without ever losing 'Brazillian-ness', whatever that is.

Aphorism of the hour

| 1 Comment

Work is over-rated anyway....

Bertrand Russell
“The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”

Why I Am Not a Christian : And Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects (Bertrand Russell)
“Why I Am Not a Christian : And Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects” (Bertrand Russell)


Law of unintended consequences

Brief note, of interest to probably a very small subset of the visitors here, but noted nonetheless.

Used the freeware program DeLocalizer to strip out localization resource files from applications (in OS X, most applications include the ability to display buttons, dialogues etc. in many languages - Chinese, Hebrew, Arabic, French, and so on. However, this data takes up a non-trivial amount of disk space). After chugging away for an hour or two, this message appeared:
DeLocalizer results
Cool! That's a lot of space to fill with MP3s!

To my surprise Adobe Acrobat 7 - the professional version shipping with the CS2 - suite no longer will launch, complaining that a component is missing:
Acrobat vs. DeLocalizer

Doh! Meaning I have to get my installation discs out of storage before I can use Acrobat again. And of course, every time I try to open a PDF file, I get this message, even though I have other versions of Acrobat on my computer, and other applications that open PDF files for that matter.
Open with
(example - opening a news article re: Jessica & Henry Abbott of Gekko Blogs and their clever realization that blogs can and will replace custom publications - that is, once comments get figured out)

This was extremely frustrating last night as we worked feverishly to get a proposal that we've been creating for several days out the door by the 9:45 pm FedEx deadline (leaving the office at 9:30 at the latest - in a white-out snow storm). I can permanently change the PDF association so that other applications (Preview, for instance) open PDF files, but this is a hassle, especially since I will eventually have to reinstall Acrobat anyway.

Why does Acrobat insist on having these localization resources? Stupid. Every other program (so far) has run without issue (even other apps from the CS2 suite - Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator)

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Illegal and Inept

Illegal and Inept. One or both of these words can be applied to nearly every policy initiated by the current administration (ass-ministration?).

Bob Herbert: Illegal and Inept - New York Times
While testifying about the Bush administration's warrantless eavesdropping program, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was asked to explain how the program had been damaged by the disclosure of its existence in the press.

Senator Joseph Biden suggested that Al Qaeda operatives have most likely been aware for some time that the government is trying to intercept their phone calls.

Mr. Gonzales agreed. “You would assume that the enemy is presuming that we are engaged in some kind of surveillance,” he said. “But if they're not reminded about it all the time in newspapers and in stories, they sometimes forget.”

Senator Biden managed to laugh. Probably to keep from crying. This was the attorney general of the United States speaking, yet another straight man for an administration that has raised governing to new heights of witlessness. Watching the Bush administration in action would be hilarious, if its ineptitude and brutally misguided policies didn't end so often in needless suffering and sorrow.

The public should be aware of two important points about the president's domestic spying program: it's illegal, and it's not catching terrorists.

emphasis mine

Unless you define terrorists as vegans, Quakers, PETA, anti-war protesters, Cindy Sheehan, yadda yadda.
I repeat myself when under stress, I repeat myself when under stress.....

EPA Culture of Corruption part the 56893

Gee, I am so confused as to why observers of the EPA would ever bring up the ugly phrases like “Systemic Corruption”, and “continuous Conflict of Interest”, or why smaller businesses like Blommers get cited by the EPA for pollution, but not coal plants who spew much more toxic emissions. No reason, really, just appearances after all.

A 2003 ethics law bars state employees from working for companies they formerly regulated for at least one year. [Renee] Cipriano left the state payroll on June 30, but an EPA spokeswoman argued Wednesday that the law doesn't apply to Cipriano's new job lobbying for a power company subject to scores of environmental regulations.

glad we cleared that up.

Chicago Tribune | EPA chief turns coal lobbyist

As director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Renee Cipriano pushed for tough limits on the mercury pollution that contaminates every river, stream and lake in the state. Six months after she left state government, Cipriano still is talking about mercury. Only now she's working for a power company that's trying to scuttle mercury standards proposed last month by her former boss, Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

In yet another example of state officials passing through a revolving door between government and special interests, Cipriano is one of two former top Blagojevich aides hired as utility lobbyists, according to recently filed registration forms.

A third Blagojevich confidant continues to represent Midwest Generation, owner of five coal-fired power plants in the Chicago area, while acting as chief spokesman for the governor's re-election campaign. Cipriano said she and others in her Chicago law firm were hired by St. Louis-based Ameren to work on a variety of issues, including Blagojevich's proposal to cut mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants by 90 percent within three years.

...Ameren and other utilities argue that the state's rules would cost too much and provide few, if any, health benefits. The companies back a less stringent national proposal from the Bush administration that would give them until at least 2018 to reduce emissions by 70 percent.

oh, goody, more mercury now, instead of less mercury later! I mean, what's the big rush to reduce toxic emissions? Energy companies are so cash poor at the moment, what with their record profits and all. Lets wait a few years before enacting any restrictions, and maybe the Rapture will happen first.

...Doug Scott, Cipriano's successor at the Illinois EPA, said he doesn't find anything unusual about Cipriano, Curry and Scofield lining up on the opposite side of an issue from the governor.

“These are all good people and we like them,” Scott said. “They're in the private sector now and they're representing clients. There's nothing unusual about that.”

yes, all sarcasm aside, this is the exact problem. There isn't anything unusual about government officials leaving to get lucrative jobs with the companies they used to regulate. I think it is sickening.

Small steps

Probably won't pass, but every action that brings more attention to the potential health risk is important. Notably absent is my Alderman, Natarus, who is instead crowing about how he is going to stop the evil street musicians from troubling passers-by with evil sounds of music. Hey, Burt - we like street musicians! Anyway, kudos to Burke, Rugai, and Hairston for actually attempting to protect the residents of the city.

Chicago Tribune | Mercury warnings pushed for tuna cans
Chicago grocery stores would have to put warning labels for mercury on cans of tuna and other seafood under a proposal made Wednesday by three aldermen.

Citing a recent Tribune investigative series, Alds. Edward Burke (14th), Virginia Rugai (19th) and Leslie Hairston (5th) said their plan would protect consumers, particularly those buying canned light tuna.

fter a City Council meeting, Burke said there is precedent for city regulation involving a product sold nationally. During the term of Mayor Michael Bilandic, the council barred the sale of detergents containing phosphates, a move designed to improve water quality, he said.

“The Congress diddles around and goes on year after year after year,” Burke said. “This body can move swiftly and establish standards.”

Burke, chairman of the Finance Committee, said the plan would require all fish packages to carry a standard warning advising at-risk groups to avoid certain seafood, including tuna. Fines could be $200 to $1,000.

The proposal cites several findings of the Tribune series, including how the tuna industry uses a high-mercury tuna species, yellowfin, to make about 15 percent of the 1.2 billion cans of light tuna sold annually.


New Canadian migration

As a matter of fact, I was just thinking about Americans in Canada yesterday. Jung might have made something of the coincidence, but I'm not sure I would.

WSJ.com - Will War Deserters Find Asylum in Canada?

Attorney Jeffry House has a simple message for the dozens of young American soldiers and Marines seeking his help staying out of Iraq: He understands exactly where they are coming from.

Mr. House had graduated from the University of Wisconsin and was working at a bank in that state when he received a draft notice for Vietnam. It was December 1969, he was 23 years old, and with a war he abhorred showing every sign of accelerating, he made his mind up quickly. Packing all his possessions into a Volkswagen Beetle, he fled to Canada, joining the thousands of young Americans streaming into the country to avoid fighting in Vietnam.

Now a prominent human-rights lawyer here, Mr. House is working to keep another generation of young Americans out of a contentious war. He is the lead attorney for Jeremy Hinzman, the first U.S. service member to formally seek political asylum in Canada because he refuses to fight in Iraq

A couple of differences between then and now though. One, the military is volunteer only now, and wasn't then. Second, the numbers of refugees are not comparable. I'm curious as to how the Americans who still live in Canada (several part of my extended family, including Mary) feel about the whole issue.

Of course, anytime retarded blowhards like Bill O'Reilly, aka Mr. Falafel, are calling for boycotts of Canada, my dander gets up.

Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly has advocated a boycott of Canadian-made goods if Canada doesn't send deserters back to the U.S. to stand trial.

As far as the war being illegal because it was started without UN sanctions - interesting theory, but not one that Big Dick's crowd are likely to subscribe to. What would they spend their time on then? Gotta play with their expensive toys, right? Not like there are any problems worth solving in America or anything.

Custom Made for D

Update: 2/9/06. Ok, visited this site, and it kinda sucks. No Safari support, minimal info, sloppy interface. Check back in a year or so.

One of D's greatest hobbies is keeping her fingers on the real estate pulse. So Zillow might be something she's interested in - however, the day Mr. Mossberg's article is published, the site is down. Doh! There went some good money down the drain (not implying that Mossberg is paid).

WSJ.com - The Mossberg Solution
If there's anything Americans obsess over as much as sports, pop culture and college for their kids, it's real estate. All over the country, people love to talk about how much their homes, and those of their neighbors, might be worth if sold today and what it would take to snag a new house.

Trouble is, it's hard for average folks to obtain solid, neutral estimates of the market values of homes without consulting a real-estate agent. There have been a few Web sites that offer estimates of a home's value, such as housevalues.com. But they require you to enter your contact information and to be contacted by a real-estate agent or mortgage broker in order to actually receive a detailed estimate. While these sites look like they are focused on the consumer, they are actually designed to generate sales leads for agents.

Now there's a new, well-designed, free online service for finding the value of a home that doesn't require you to identify yourself or to communicate with an agent or broker, and provides heaps of information directly to consumers. It's called Zillow, and it is launching today, in beta, or test, form at zillow.com.

Zillow uses data such as tax records, sales history and the actual prices of “comparables” -- homes in your area that are similar to yours -- to come up with an estimate, which it calls a “Zestimate.” It backs up the estimate with lavish data -- aerial photos and maps showing prices in a neighborhood; loads of charts and graphs displaying historical data and price movements, as well as details on the size and room totals of a home. It even allows you to enter information, like the types and prices of recent renovations, that might change an estimate.

A home needn't be for sale to be searched in Zillow, which claims to cover 62 million houses and to update its estimates daily. The company, founded by people who formerly ran the Expedia travel Web site, hopes to make money through advertising.

Spys R Us

WSJ.com - Wiretapping Flap Puts Phone Firms Under Fire
The public debate over the National Security Agency's wiretapping program has focused new attention at some telecommunications companies on how they handle classified business and requests from the government.

While telecom executives aren't willing to talk publicly about any role their companies may have played in helping the NSA monitor electronic communications, senior officials at some big telecom companies say they wouldn't necessarily even be informed about such activities. That is because people who carry out secret work at phone companies at times have federal security clearances that are higher than those of their bosses, the executives say.

..The legality of the Bush wiretapping program is in dispute [for some reason - who knew that laws, as written, were optional?] and congressional hearings that began yesterday focused on the matter.

The controversy stems from an NSA program launched following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when President Bush signed a secret directive allowing the NSA to wiretap certain telephone conversations, without first getting permission from a court. Hundreds of people [or thousands, more likely] in the U.S. have been tracked by the program, which monitors conversations between people within the U.S. and people overseas with suspected links to terrorism.

well, if you consider vegans, Quakers, PETA, anti-war protesters, Cindy Sheehan, et al as terrorists. How many terrorist-related arrests have there been anyway? Zero you say? Hmmm.

Mary Rauton

Mary pontificates

Portrait of my godmother, Mary Rauton, taken in the back yard of Janice Spellerberg's home in Toronto, a few years ago. Note - she holds in her hand a hand rolled cigarette from tobacco grown in the back yard of Ragnarokr (when it still existed). If I recall correctly, she told me that this was something she learned to do (grow and cure tobacco) as a child in the Depression, living in Atlanta. Of course, my memory could be cloudy. She did show me her tobacco plant, but I don't have a photo of that.

And while on the subject, here is how Ragnarokr, the boutique leather shop in downtown Toronto, in the so-called American Ghetto, got named.

Minority View

I've never been bothered by holding an opinion contrary to 'everyone else', and I have one in this case. I am not happy to smell burnt chocolate or other kinds of chocolate every day in the summer. The smell is most definitely not beloved by me (or D).


Chicago Is Home Sweet Home To Fewer Candy Factories
The smell wafts out among the high-rises, bridges and overpasses like invisible chocolaty tendrils catching passersby in every direction, drawing them toward the source -- an inconspicuous brick building on an industrial corner of downtown Chicago, home of the Blommer chocolate factory. The sometimes syrupy, sometimes burnt, but unmistakable scent from Blommer, North America's largest producer of raw chocolate, is beloved by many residents.

We met this guy out walking in our neighborhood last summer. Wished him well, even took some out-of-towners who love chocolate there.

...That's what entrepreneur and Army reservist Todd Moore was betting on when he co-founded the Chicago Chocolate Co. two years ago in between stints in Iraq. The company buys raw chocolate from Blommer and other producers and turns it into fancy truffles, balls and other confections that are sold in a “chocolate cafe” on a trendy strip west of downtown.

Don't get me wrong, I like chocolate well enough (though D does not), eat it a few times a year, and I hope the Chicago Chocolate Co. does well enough to upgrade their chairs into something comfortable enough to actually sit on. However, when I sit on my balcony in the summer, I don't want to smell chocolate at all times. I would much rather smell my flowers and plants, or even air that doesn't have an odor at all. If this makes me a weirdball, so be it. I still want the EPA to enforce pollution laws against Blommers, or any other business who wants to coat my lungs with particulate.

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The Pope Gets Bagged

The Pope gets bagged
The Pope (Tampopo) loves to ride around in plastic bags. Who knows, maybe she thinks this is like flying.

Keep away from children
(note, plenty of air holes out of frame - we aren't cruel or careless)

click for larger views

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Teflon a likely carcinogen

As a follow up to my 'throw-away-teflon' page; no matter if DuPont claims Teflon is just peachy, the EWG (Environmental Working Group) doesn't. I'm not using Teflon if I can help it (eating eggs in a restaurant is a sure way to eat Teflon - I know, I've worked in that industry enough years to know that most short order cooks don't have the patience to properly season non-coated pans.)

EWG : Teflon Pollution from perfluoronated chemicals PFOA PFOS
Today, a panel of outside experts gave draft comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) saying that an indestructible, toxic chemical that pollutes nearly every American's blood is a “likely human carcinogen.” The panel urged the agency to adopt stricter guidelines to protect human health, according to a majority of its members. This announcement follows news just last week that the EPA signed a voluntary agreement with the chemical's maker, DuPont, and seven other companies to reduce the chemical's use in products by 95 percent over the next five years and aim for total elimination of its use by 2015.

“This indestructible nonstick chemical meets the government's criteria of a 'likely human carcinogen,'” said Tim Kropp, senior scientist at Environmental Working Group (EWG). “We are pleased that the Science Advisory Board (SAB) concurred with many of the concerns we have raised about the hazards of PFOA. There is growing consensus that health officials should err on the side of precaution with any industrial chemical that ends up in human blood, but especially chemicals like PFOA that are toxic and indestructible. We applaud the EPA for reaching an agreement with industry to dramatically lower the amount of this chemical in popular consumer products, and we urge the agency to adopt a similarly strong stance to protect the public from possible health risks associated with this chemical.”

Open letter to the EPA re: DuPont’s failure to submit key health studies under the requirements of TSCA, here, and a form to send a letter to the president of Wal-Mart, here

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Happiness is over rated

Rodney Dangerfield
“My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met.”

Police State gets a little closer

Ah, police brutality, such a lovely side effect of being afraid of any person daring to have opinions not officially endorsed by the Rethuglican Party. Words are scary, aren't they?

Here is Carol Fisher's account of being arrested for daring to place a flyer in Cleveland. I don't know anyone in Cleveland, but I would guess that this little tale won't get much press coverage, or if it does, the police will make a statement that Ms. Fisher attacked the policeman, and then resisted arrest, so any brutal treatment was a consequence of her actions, ie it was all her fault.

World Can't Wait | Drive Out the Bush Regime :: Brutalized & Arrested in Cleveland for Posting “Bush Step Down” Posters My name is Carol Fisher, and I am on the staff of Revolution Books in Cleveland OH. At the bookstore we have been immersed in building and supporting the initiatives of World Cant Wait. Yesterday, 1.28.06, while putting “Bush Step Down” posters on telephone poles along a major thoroughfare on a sunny Saturday afternoon, I was brutalized by Cleveland Heights police, charged with 2 counts of felony assault and held incommunicado under police custody in the hospital! ...

Here is what happened:

I had set out from my house with a full agenda, to contact lots of people and get out materials about our upcoming Cleveland event to Drown Out the State of the Union address, and the call to march around the White House on Feb. 4th. My first stop was the an area known for its community of artists and progressives, where I stapled up posters for blocks and was greeted warmly by those who saw and appreciated what World Cant Wait is doing. I talked to an artist, and a Palestinian store owner who took fliers to distribute to customers.

Next stop, to the east side. I drove down a street in Cleveland Heights, another area known for its diversity and progressive history. This street was badly in need of postering too and though i was in a big hurry, I couldnt drive on without getting up a few signs. Before long a cop called from across the street: “Ma'am! Hundred dollar fine for doing that!” Oh really, since when? Another way of keeping us from getting the word out, eh? But not wanting to get arrested, I said ok and put up my staplegun and walked away. But that wasnt the end of it. “Ma'am! Hundred dollar fine unless you take those posters down.” He is pursuing me across the street. Damn! OK fine, I say, I will take them down (not wanting to get into a confrontation, because I have lots to do today!) But this too is not enough for the cop. He wants my ID. I say I dont have my ID. He grabs my arm. I say let go of me, I am not doing anything wrong, I will take the posters down. People are watching to see what happens, are outraged but very afraid. The cop wont let go, he clearly wants more grief from me, and he is in the spotlight. He wants people to be scared. He pushes me against a store window and next thing I know I am face down on the sidewalk with two cops on top of me, one with his knee in my back. I am trying to call out to people, to tell them what the posters are about. They keep pushing my face into the sidewalk. I cant breathe.

I have osteoradionecrosis in my jaw, resulting from radiation treatments for cancer. My jawbone is slowly deteriorating, is very fragile, and doesnt heal well. I am 53 years old, not exactly a spring chicken. A hand comes down again to push my chin against the concrete. By this time there are four cops on the scene. My hands are tightly cuffed behind my back. They lift me up and shove me onto a parkbench and shackle my legs. I am still calling out, telling people what this is about. One of the cops says to me, “Shut up or I will kill you!”, “I am sick of this anti-Bush shit!” “You are definitely going to the psyche ward.” Then somebody calls the EMS, and a fire squad shows up. The cop superviser appears and puts his finger in my face: “I dont like it when people treat my men like this and if you don't obey the law you will suffer the consequences.”

(link via Cursor)


Sorry if the page is slow-loading today - BoingBoing linked to my poached scrambled egg pictures (cool!), and my little site cannot necessarily handle the huge increase in traffic.

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Milk or not to Milk

So much money has been spent by the milk industry to convince us all that milk is healthy, that whenever someone suggests perhaps milk isn't a panacea, a frequent response is utter disbelief, like you've just told someone that the moon landing was faked (it wasn't, btw). I have removed milk drinking from my diet for several years now, but still eat occasional morsels of cheese or dollops of butter. Much, much less than when I was a kid though: living in rural Ontario. Of course, the milk I consumed then was fresh, unpasteurized, from cows who weren't fed hormones, ranged in the meadows, yadda yadda. My great-grandfather (who I never met) owned a dairy in Wisconsin, probably why my grandfather has been a cheese and butter booster his whole life. Perhaps my refusal to give up cheese and butter totally stems from his influence (via my mother maybe).

D eats nearly zero dairy, but then she has a lot more discipline in her diet in all respects.

Anyway, milk is not good for everyone, there are better ways to get calcium.

Chicago Tribune | not milk?

You know it like the Pledge of Allegiance: “Milk helps build strong teeth and bones.”

But does it really? Or, as nutrition researchers from Harvard and Cornell Universities are radically suggesting: Have we all been duped by the dairy industry's slick, celebrity-driven “got milk?” advertising campaign?

Milk, the sacred cow of the American diet, is under attack and not just by animal-rights activists. Though federal dietary guidelines and most mainstream nutrition experts recommend that people age 9 or older drink three glasses of milk a day, researchers are examining the role of dairy in everything from rising osteoporosis rates, Type 1 diabetes and heart disease to breast, prostate and ovarian cancer.

Last March, the journal Pediatrics published a review article concluding that there is “scant evidence” that consuming more milk and dairy products will promote child and adolescent bone health. Some leading practitioners of integrative medicine, including best-selling author Dr. Andrew Weil, suggest eliminating dairy products from the diet to help treat irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, eczema and ear infections. The late Dr. Benjamin Spock reversed his support of cow's milk for children in 1998 in his last edition of his world-famous book “Baby and Child Care.”

..But researchers Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, and T. Colin Campbell, professor emeritus of nutritional biochemistry at Cornell University, say there is little evidence that shows boosting your calcium intake to the currently recommended levels will prevent fractures.

Willett, who co-authored “The Nurses' Health Studies,” one of the largest investigations into the risk factors for major chronic diseases in women, found that women with the highest calcium consumption from dairy products actually had substantially more fractures than women who drank less milk.

Campbell, who like Willett comes from a dairy-farming family, found the same thing after spending several decades surveying health-related effects of a plant-based diet and death rates from cancer in more than 2,400 Chinese counties.

Both men say there is no calcium emergency; Americans get plenty. And they argue that the unnecessary focus on calcium prevents us from using strategies that really work in the fight against osteoporosis, including getting enough exercise and vitamin D and avoiding too much vitamin A.

“The higher the consumption of dairy, animal protein and calcium, the higher the fracture rate--an indisputable observation in my view,” said Campbell, whose life work is compiled in “The China Study” (Benbella Books, $24.95), one of the most comprehensive nutritional studies undertaken.

Our tax dollars at work

Gee, I wonder how exactly the vegans were planning to 'overthrow' the government? I'm curious as to how this obvious over-stepping will be 'spun' away.

WXIA 11Alive.com - ACLU Releases Government Photos:

The ACLU of Georgia released copies of government files on Wednesday that illustrate the extent to which the FBI, the DeKalb County Division of Homeland Security and other government agencies have gone to compile information on Georgians suspected of being threats simply for expressing controversial opinions. Two documents relating to anti-war and anti-government protests, and a vegan rally, prove the agencies have been “spying” on Georgia residents unconstitutionally, the ACLU said (PDF of filing)

For example, more than two dozen government surveillance photographs show 22-year-old Caitlin Childs of Atlanta, a strict vegetarian, and other vegans picketing against meat eating, in December 2003. They staged their protest outside a HoneyBaked Ham store on Buford Highway in DeKalb County.

An undercover DeKalb County Homeland Security detective was assigned to conduct surveillance of the protest and the protestors, and take the photographs. The detective arrested Childs and another protester after he saw Childs approach him and write down, on a piece of paper, the license plate number of his unmarked government car.

“They told me if I didn't give over the piece of paper I would go to jail and I refused and I went to jail, and the piece of paper was taken away from me at the jail and the officer who transferred me said that was why I was arrested,” Childs said on Wednesday.

The government file lists anti-war protesters in Atlanta as threats, the ACLU said. The ACLU of Georgia accuses the Bush administration of labeling those who disagree with its policy as disloyal Americans.

“We believe that spying on American citizens for no good reason is fundamentally un-American, that it's not the place of the goverment or the best use of resources to spy on its own citizens and we want it to stop. We want the spies in our government to pack their bags, close up their notebooks, take their cameras home and not engage in the spying anymore,” Gerald Weber of the ACLU of Georgia said during a news conference.

“We have heard of not a single, government surveillance of a pro-war group,” Weber said. “And I doubt we will ever hear of a single surveillance of a pro-war group.”

apparently 'spun' something like this:

FBI spokesman Bill Carter in Washington, D.C. said that all FBI investigations are conducted in response to information that the people being investigated were involved in or might have information about crimes.

(link via BoingBoing)

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The History of the Nacho

Nachos, done right, can be quite tasty. Here's a little background on their origin, via the Saturday WSJ.

WSJ.com - The Search for the Perfect Nacho
... According to nacho lore, it all began in 1943, when several military wives at Fort Duncan in Eagle Pass, Texas, decided to go on a toot in Mexico. This did not require much pluck. Eagle Pass is just a short bridge over the Rio Grande from Piedras Negras in the state of Coahuila. In Piedras Negras (black stones, from the coal once mined there), they took shelter in the Victory Club, demanding food as well as drink. The only employee present, the maitre d', grabbed some fried corn tortilla chips from the bar, melted Wisconsin yellow cheese on top of them and then set a slice of canned jalapeño peppers on each snack.

This Escoffier of la frontera was Ignacio Anaya, nicknamed Nacho. The Army brides gobbled his improvisation up and spread the word about the dish their leader Mamie had dubbed Nacho's especiales. Eventually people all over southern Texas were calling them nachos.

The evidence for this tale is less solid than what we might demand to prove that, say, George Washington threw a silver dollar across the Potomac. The most convincing account comes from Ignacio Anaya Jr., not a disinterested party, in an interview in the San Antonio Express-News in 2002. Long before then, the Victory Club restaurant had closed and Nacho Sr. had moved to the Moderno. He died in 1975, two years too soon to enjoy global fame.

In 1977, one Frank Liberto started selling nachos at Arlington Stadium, an early Texas Rangers venue near Dallas. Liberto made sure his nachos were on hand for sports broadcaster Howard Cosell to try when he came to town for “Monday Night Football.” Cosell talked up nachos on the air, and the rest is history, the history of a planetary pandemic.

...What bliss indeed to be present at the creation of a spicy Mexican bar snack. And how clever of Howard Cosell to see that this mosaic of cheese and chips and stinging pepper was the perfect finger food for the age of the couch potato.

Do I like nachos? Where do I stand on molten processed cheese? Do I object to beans and guacamole? Yes, I love nachos. I order them reflexively in airport bars. But, out of respect to Ignacio Anaya, I have to say that quality begins with first-rate ingredients -- real cheddar, real corn tortilla chips, plenty of jalapeño slices. And whatever else you want to throw on.

That's just what I found on the way south to Eagle Pass, at El Chile Cafe y Cantina in Austin, near the University of Texas. My guess is that this skillful kitchen, in the heart of the heart of Tex-Mex food, cooks nachos tongue-in-cheek. But they're delicious, because the ingredients are all treated with respect.

I rarely eat nachos at restaurants, however. Mostly, they just suck, or are soggy piles of glop. A few places make delicious nachos, mostly in Austin. The best nachos are made with one's own hand, using quality ingredients, as is true with most foods. Sharlot makes a pretty good nacho, if I recall correctly.

Note, though I won't be watching the “Big Game”, I do plan on eating nachos and drinking plenty of beer. It is Sunday after all.

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Sam Smith speculates

Sam Smith spins a fairly plausible rationale for moving Tim Thomas for Antonio Davis. Tim Thomas is useless, if Toronto agrees to this trade, I'd say go for it.

Chicago Tribune | Antonio Davis' strange journey
Because Davis lives in the Chicago area, wants to return to the Bulls and hopes to work for the organization after his playing career is over, here's a likely scenario: The Bulls trade Thomas to the Raptors for Davis because their salaries are almost equal. It doesn't seem likely the Bulls will get a better offer for Thomas, who also was in the Curry trade, after all this time.

and I don't recall hearing of supposed bad blood between the league office and the Bulls, but who knows. I will say that the announcing team on WGN-TV is probably one of the worst. Almost as bad as the Celtic's announcers.

But the Bulls never have been league favorites because of the team's long-ago suit against the NBA to stay on superstation WGN-TV and the organization's lack of interest in a WNBA team.

I do know that while Antonio Davis is getting a bit old, and his wife is a loose cannon, the Bulls were better for having him on the roster last year.

Karl Malone sucks


Karl Malone, either the greatest, or second greatest Utah Jazz player, remains one of my least favorite players in any sport.

SI.com - NBA - Jazz to retire Malone's No. 32, erect statue in March - Monday January 30, 2006 10:23PM

The Utah Jazz will retire Karl Malone's No. 32 and unveil a statue of the two-time MVP on March 23 when the Jazz host the Washington Wizards.

Tivoed a classic NBA playoff game between the Utah Jazz and the starting-to-emerge Sacramento Kings (the series during which I adopted the Kings) in the spring of 1999, reminded me of how much of a punk Karl Malone always was. In this game alone, Malone was guilty of: throwing the ball at Vlade Divac's face instead of taking a 15 foot jump shot (Vlade retaliated by throwing Malone to the ground - Malone walked away as Malone only fought with guys smaller than him), cheap fouls, illegal picks, flopping, and general poor-sportmanlike behavior. Glad that no current NBA player models their game after Malone.

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Fun with scanners

When do we get to do pointed sticks?
When do we get to do pointed sticks?

Found objects, placed on my scanner.


Tranquilize your mind

State of Delusion

Remain insanely busy this week, but couldn't let this Paul Krugman article remain hidden behind pay-for-view. I guess Mr. Krugman is a Kinks fan....

State of Confusion (The Kinks)
“State of Confusion” (The Kinks)

Paul Krugman, New York TImes: State of Delusion
The Bush administration knows how to attain power, but has no idea how to govern.

So President Bush's plan to reduce imports of Middle East oil turns out to be no more substantial than his plan — floated two years ago, then flushed down the memory hole — to send humans to Mars.

But what did you expect? After five years in power, the Bush administration is still — perhaps more than ever — run by Mayberry Machiavellis, who don't take the business of governing seriously.

Here's the story on oil: In the State of the Union address Mr. Bush suggested that “cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol” and other technologies would allow us “to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East.”

But the next day, officials explained that he didn't really mean what he said. “This was purely an example,” said Samuel Bodman, the energy secretary. And the administration has actually been scaling back the very research that Mr. Bush hyped Tuesday night: the National Renewable Energy Laboratory is about to lay off staff because of budget cuts. “A veteran researcher,” reports The New York Times, “said the staff had been told that the cuts would be concentrated among researchers in wind and biomass, which includes ethanol.”

Why announce impressive sounding goals when you have no plan to achieve them? The best guess is that the energy “plan” was hastily thrown together to give Mr. Bush something positive to say.

Beat Down, Oscar Style

Freakin' funny beat down re the Oscars, and alleged 'indie' bias.

Kung Fu Monkey: Just. Stay. Down.
However, I think I finally understand -- exactly --the tone of voice General Tommy Franks used when describing the REMF-platonic-ideal Doug Feith as the “fucking stupidest guy on the face of the earth.” It is not a snarl, nor a roar, but instead a sort of exhausted awe. Because I must say, I do think Jason Apuzzo of Libertas, the wee conservative film movement, possibly may be -- and I do not offer this lightly -- the fucking stupidest guy on the face of the earth.

Read it here.
What do they teach in schools these days /cranky old man voice

Parenthetical note: this year I haven't seen a single movie nominated in the main categories (Best Picture/Director/Actress/Actor/Makeup), nor in any categories for that matter, though a few are on my Netflix list.

Maybe Mark Cuban is right: and the movie theatre is a doomed (doomed I tell you) business who can no longer compete with massive subsidies from somewhere. We've got a good television, fairly good sound with four speakers jury-rigged and hung around the living room connected through a stereo receiver, access to millions of movies via Netflix, and the ability to have beverages/snacks/whatevers of our choice without having to pay $47 dollars for a soda. Why rush to see the flavor of the month? Doesn't mean we don't watch movies - we see way too many probably, just are not hung up on seeing new releases. Communal experience my ass. Why do I want someone ferociously coughing and spreading the Black Plague on the back of my neck?

Kottke links to a extensive critics choice meta page, btw.


is on that Netflix list too.

Link via Atrios I think, maybe somewhere else (opened the link, walked away for several hours).

Update: thanks to Firedoglake for the funny.


Second Wind

Sounds interesting. I'll have to look for a copy. Bill Russell played basketball before my time, so I've only seen a few classic games, and heard him as a television analyst, but Mr. Russell always seemed like a truly talented player, and a smart man to boot.

Bill Simmons blathers

Second Wind: The Memoirs of an Opinionated Man,” written by Bill Russell and Taylor Branch (the same guy who just finished the epic trilogy about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.). It would have been a thoughful, well-written biography even without the chapter called “Champions,” the single-best thing ever written by a great player about the process of winning. It's just an amazing piece, with Russell dismantling his 13-year run with the Celtics and explaining why they won and kept winning -- not the game details, but how the personalities meshed, how they kept themselves motivated, how different players assumed different roles, how everything was about the team. Just the section on Sam Jones alone (how Sam would only occasionally take over games because he didn't want the responsibility of being the best player every night) is worth the read. And I loved how he messed with Wilt Chamberlain's head, among others. Nobody meshed the process of playing and thinking like Bill Russell did; there's a reason he has 11 rings right now.

Re-reading this book over the weekend, I was also struck by Russell's anger in the “Starting Points” chapter about black-white relations, certain racial stereotypes with athletes, even how he was treated by whites in Boston when he played there, culminating in the famous part where he jokes that if Paul Revere lived in Boston in the 60's, he would have ridden around screaming, “The niggers are coming! The niggers are coming!” Even 27 years later, you can still feel him bristling.

“Second Wind: The Memoirs of an Opinionated Man (Fireside sports classic)” (Bill Russell)
Bill Russell Second Wind

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Kendra Davis is feeling a little tense

There's always two sides to every story, but on first reading of this particular one, Ms. Davis sounds a little short-fused.

Wife of NBA star in another dispute

The wife of New York Knicks forward Antonio Davis, whose verbal altercation with Chicago Bulls fans last month prompted her husband to run into the stands, has been charged with misdemeanor battery for allegedly flinging a hot cup of coffee on another woman during a traffic altercation in Naperville.
An arrest warrant was issued this morning for Kendra Davis, 31, of Naperville, on misdemeanor charges of battery and driving on a suspended license. Naperville police have contacted Davis so that she could surrender on the charges, said Sgt. Joel Truemper, a department spokesman.

A 40-year-old Minooka woman claimed that Davis ran a stop sign on Naper Boulevard on Oct. 27, 2005, according to police. The woman alleged that when she confronted Davis at Naper Boulevard and Market Drive, Davis threw a cup of McDonald's coffee through the driver's side window.

Davis told police that she threw the cup of coffee because the woman used a racial slur, police said. The Minooka woman denies using the slur.

police only recently learned that Davis' Illinois license had been suspended. Davis has a valid Florida driver's license, police said.

I'm sure the suspended license was really Isiah Thomas or James Dolan's fault anyway.

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Molly Molly Molly

Mol-ly, Mol-ly, Mol-ly (said in stadium-chant sort of way, with the word stretched out into two syllables). I'm with her on this one: Hillary should stop trying to be everything for everybody, and care enough to have the strength of her own convictions. Hillary is not very much to the left of Lieberman, and look how well his last presidential ran went.

Star-Telegram | 01/22/2006 | It's time for Democrats to put up or shut up
I'd like to make it clear to the people who run the Democratic Party that I will not support Hillary Clinton for president.
Enough. Enough triangulation, calculation and equivocation. Enough clever straddling, enough not offending anyone. This is not a Dick Morris election. The senator is apparently incapable of taking a clear stand on the war in Iraq, and that alone is enough to disqualify her. Her failure to speak out on Terri Schiavo, not to mention that gross pandering on flag-burning, are just contemptible little dodges.

The distance between the Democratic Party, Democratic Party leadership, and actual voting citizens is growing larger, larger, and milquetoast politicians like Ms. Clinton don't see it.

Neflixed: Fitzcarraldo


For some reason, I've never seen a Werner Herzog movie. Being a great fan of Caruso, I thought I'd start with this one.

Netflixed: Fitzcarraldo In this intoxicating, one-of-a-kind film, obsessed opera lover Klaus Kinski dreams of building a concert hall in the middle of the Amazon jungle. To realize his vision, he must haul a huge riverboat up (and down) a mountainside with help from a local Indian tribe. Fitzcarraldo is another weird gem from German director Werner Herzog's offbeat oeuvre.
Apparently, Mick Jagger was in the film, but after casting problems (lead actor became ill) caused re-shooting, Jagger's character was removed.
Herzog originally cast Jason Robards in the title role, but he became ill during the shoot and was eventually replaced by Kinski. Mick Jagger also had a role as Fitzcarraldo's assistant. When Robards left due to illness, forty percent of the film had already been completed and would have to be reshot from the beginning. Mick Jagger had to leave the film to go on tour, and his character was removed from the reshoot. Werner Herzog was considering playing the character of Fitzcarraldo himself until Klaus Kinski had agreed to play the part. The film was then reshot in German.
Years ago, back in my college-haze days in Austex, a family friend, Fletcher Starbuck suggested watching this film, and the documentary, Burden of Dreams as well. From IMdB
A real 340 ton steam ship was moved over the mountain with a bulldozer without the use of special effects.

Fitzcarraldo: The Original Story (Werner Herzog)
“Fitzcarraldo: The Original Story” (Werner Herzog)

Fitzcarraldo (Werner Herzog)
“Fitzcarraldo” (Werner Herzog)

Burden of Dreams - Criterion Collection (Les Blank)
“Burden of Dreams - Criterion Collection” (Les Blank)

and this factoid intrigues me
Klaus Kinski was also a major source of tension as he fought with Herzog and other members of the crew and greatly upset the native extras. In his documentary My Best Fiend, Herzog says that one of the native chiefs offered to murder Kinski for him, and he once told Kinski that if he carried out a threat to leave the film he would shoot both Kinski and himself in the head.

The Screenwriter's Workbook (Syd Field)

Balance, schmalance

Gotta have our factesque balance...

Goodbad Protest

(not sure who created this image, but quite telling, isn't it?)

Sheehan Tossed From Capitol Over T-Shirt WASHINGTON -- Cindy Sheehan, mother of a fallen soldier in Iraq, wasn't the only one ejected from the House gallery during the State of the Union address for wearing a T-shirt with a war-related slogan that violated the rules. The wife of a powerful Republican congressman was also asked to leave.

Beverly Young, wife of Rep. C.W. Bill Young of Florida _ chairman of the House Defense Appropriations subcommittee _ was removed from the gallery because she was wearing a T-shirt that read, “Support the Troops _ Defending Our Freedom.”

Didn't see this happen, because I can't force myself to watch/listen/read any speech made by our fearful leader, but if true, what a stupid country we have become. Do opinions printed on T-shirts really poke out the eyes of disbelievers? Crazy. I knew words had power, but I didn't know they had that much.

They told her she was being treated the same as Sheehan, a protester ejected before the speech Tuesday night for wearing a T-shirt with an antiwar slogan [except that Sheehan spent 4 hours in jail, Ms. Young was simply escorted away]. Sheehan wrote in her blog [well, daily kos diary] Wednesday that she intends to file a First Amendment lawsuit.

“I don't want to live in a country that prohibits any person, whether he/she has paid the ultimate price for that country, from wearing, saying, writing, or telephoning any negative statements about the government,” Sheehan wrote.

Capitol Police took Sheehan, invited as a guest of Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., away in handcuffs and charged her with unlawful conduct, a misdemeanor. She later was released on her own recognizance.

Capitol Police Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said police warned her that such displays were not allowed in the House chamber, but Sheehan did not respond.

Woolsey gave Sheehan her only ticket earlier in the day _ Gallery 5, seat 7, row A _ while Sheehan was attending an “alternative state of the union” news conference by CODEPINK, a group pushing for an end to the Iraq war.

In her blog, Sheehan wrote that her T-shirt said, “2245 Dead. How many more?” _ a reference to the number of soldiers killed in Iraq.

update: Glenn Greenwald has more on why this stifling of free speech isn't even funny. Worth a read.

The law is clear that Sheehan did nothing illegal and there was no legal basis whatsoever for removing and arresting her for wearing that t-shirt.

In Bynum v. U.S. Capitol Police Bd. (Dist. D.C. 1997) (.pdf), the District Court found the regulations applying 140 U.S.C. § 193 -- the section of the U.S. code restricting activities inside the Capitol -- to be unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds. Bynum involved a Reverend who was threatened with arrest by Capitol Police while leading a small group in prayer inside the Capitol. The Capitol Police issued that threat on the ground that the praying constituted a “demonstration.”

That action was taken pursuant to the U.S. Code, in which Congress decreed as follows: “It shall be unlawful for any person or group of persons wilfully and knowingly . . . to parade, demonstrate or picket within any Capitol Building.” 140 U.S.C. § 193(f)(b)(7).

Free stuff is fun

The Illinois Tourism board is allegedly giving away posters, such as this fetching one of a buttery cow, found near O'Leary's bar on Wells St.
Mrs O'Leary's Butter Cow

The ones I've seen around town are often billboard size, but I imagine the freebies are a bit smaller. Still very cool. Go get a couple (make up a name).


Link via Gapers Block

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