June 2007 Archives

Monty Python's Lumberjack Sketch, in its entirety (which includes the Dead Parrot Sketch). Yes, I could recite both of these scenes from memory, but my inflection is not quite right, so I'll need more practice.....

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Ketchikan and Seattle

A few photos from last night in Seattle, and from Ketchikan, Alaska.

Sage Memorial Building
Sage Memorial Building
thought of flickr pal Chicago Sage when I saw this building (I think it is a fishery/cannery in Ketchikan, Alaska). There were tours, but I didn't bother.

We wandered a bit off the beaten path in Ketchikan, and my Aunt P and I even went the wrong direction down one road and ended up in Ketchikan's cannery row, where this photo was taken.

Don't Bring Yer Guns to Town

Don't Bring Yer Guns to Town
well, to work anyway, if you work for Trident Cannery

Impeach - Ketchikan
Impeach - Ketchikan
a Freeway Blogger ( www.freewayblogger.com/ ) acolyte in downtown Ketchikan, Alaska says what so many of us are thinking.

Lets Make a Deal
Lets Make a Deal
Pike Place Market at night

Wonder Freeze
Wonder Freeze
seemingly from another era, also at Pike Place Market

Seattle at Night
Seattle at Night
sans tripod

Pretend I was Walking Home
Pretend I was Walking Home
more night shots in Seattle, along the Harborfront

stacks in Seattle.


at Pike Place Market, Seattle

click to embiggen

and also: best wishes for speedy recovery to my friend Tina.

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The Murdoch Factor

I do hope that Rupert Murdoch does not find a way to purchase the Journal, or at the very least, the editorial and newspaper staff is sequestered behind a strong Chinese wall. The Journal is probably my favorite daily paper, discounting the rabid and often fact-free editorial section, of course, which is just horrible. The topics the WSJ covers are business related true, but that particular arc intersects politics, culture, technology, and American life, only leaving out sports and celebrity gossip, both of which get occasional coverage, which is plenty. Murdoch’s New York Post is a joke, and the proud tradition of the Journal deserves better treatment.

Paul Krugman agrees with me, for different reasons.

Paul Krugman: The Murdoch Factor:
If Rupert Murdoch does acquire The Wall Street Journal, it will be a dark day for America’s news media — and American democracy.
In October 2003, the nonpartisan Program on International Policy Attitudes published a study titled “Misperceptions, the media and the Iraq war.” It found that 60 percent of Americans believed at least one of the following: clear evidence had been found of links between Iraq and Al Qaeda; W.M.D. had been found in Iraq; world public opinion favored the U.S. going to war with Iraq.

The prevalence of these misperceptions, however, depended crucially on where people got their news. Only 23 percent of those who got their information mainly from PBS or NPR believed any of these untrue things, but the number was 80 percent among those relying primarily on Fox News. In particular, two-thirds of Fox devotees believed that the U.S. had “found clear evidence in Iraq that Saddam Hussein was working closely with the Al Qaeda terrorist organization.”

So, does anyone think it’s O.K. if Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, which owns Fox News, buys The Wall Street Journal?

The problem with Mr. Murdoch isn’t that he’s a right-wing ideologue. If that were all he was, he’d be much less dangerous. What he is, rather, is an opportunist who exploits a rule-free media environment — one created, in part, by conservative political power — by slanting news coverage to favor whoever he thinks will serve his business interests.

In the United States, that strategy has mainly meant blatant bias in favor of the Bush administration and the Republican Party — but last year Mr. Murdoch covered his bases by hosting a fund-raiser for Hillary Clinton’s Senate re-election campaign.

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Sitka Redux

Am back on dry land, but haven't (and won't have) time to slog through the extensive collection of photos from the entire journey for a while. So, here's a few more all from the summertime paradise of Sitka, Alaska (I think). I'd love to live there for a few months one summer. So beautiful.

old equipment, left to fester in a town without bugs

Sheldon Jackson Memorial
Sheldon Jackson Memorial

Ernie's Old Time Saloon
Ernie's Old Time Saloon
Alaskan Amber is pretty good beer

another shot of a totem in Sitka

European Totem
European Totem
Not sure if this is supposed to be Seward (the Sec of State who purchased Alaska from the Russians), or a Russian from before the transfer.

"The" Duke
The Duke
"For the man who has everything" - says the sign. Like how the word "The" is in quotes.

click to embiggen

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Often-Asked iPhone Questions

Wondered if this was the reason. I assume engineers are furiously trying to figure this drawback

out at the moment.

Powered Windshield Car / Auto Mount PDA Phone Holder for the Apple iPhone - Gomadic Brand

"Powered Windshield Car / Auto Mount PDA Phone Holder for the Apple iPhone - Gomadic Brand" (Apple)

Often-Asked iPhone Questions - Pogue’s Posts - Technology - New York Times Blog:

Why didn’t Apple use AT&T’s faster 3G Internet network? Apple says that today’s relatively unpolished 3G (third generation) radio chips would drain the battery too fast — and at this point, wouldn’t provide enough of a speed boost to justify that trade-off. Apple will release a 3G iPhone model when the time seems right.

and it doesn't look like it would work with Flickr (as an aside, I have a Verizon Blackberry of fairly recent vintage - 1 year or so old - it works with Flickr).

What does the Web browser have? Multiple open pages (like tabs), fonts, layouts, pop-up menus, checkboxes, clickable links and dialable phone numbers (tap with your finger).

What does it lack? Java, Flash, stored passwords, RSS, streaming audio or video (except for some QuickTime videos).

some keyboard shortcuts found here

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Plastic bag fabric

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Might as well turn lemon-colored plastic into lemonade dresses, right? Damn this slow internet connection. I made the mistake of paying for WiFi, and it sucked up the minutes, loading a couple of webpages every 3 minutes. Should have just converted those dollars into alcohol.

DIY: Plastic bag fabric:

Kathreen @ TreeHugger has a round up of plastic bag fabric projects, she writes -

Plastic shopping bags are a scourge on the environment. What to do with all those plastic bags that seem to be just hanging around everywhere. One idea that seems to be a hit amongst the DIY and creative arty crowd is to fuse various plastic bags together and make fabric out of them. The basic process is to iron the plastic bags, with a sheet of baking paper between iron and plastic, until two or more sheets fuse together. Sound easy - well in theory it is, but it takes a little practice to get the timing and heat just right...
DIY: Plastic Bag Fabric: Reclaiming Plastic Shopping Bags for Good (TreeHugger) - Link.

Sitka photos

Some photos actually taken in Sitka, Alaska.

Sitka, Alaska

Sitka, Alaska

Brass Rust
Brass Rust
some decay escapes the hard working crew

Wave abstraction
Wave abstraction
with glacier

Corbis and UGC

A sort of User Generated Content at least. I was wondering who the first stock photo company to make this leap would turn out to be. If my internet connection wasn't so flaky, I'd write more....

It’ll Be Photographer’s Choice on a Web Site From Corbis:
Corbis, the online stock photo company founded and owned by Bill Gates, plans Monday to introduce a Web site that allows anyone to upload photographs for sale.


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best day yet - Sitka Alaska, 5th largest city in Alaska (something like 11,000 folks), and 4 mile hike in the Tongass Rain Forest. No photos of that yet, but here is a couple snapshots from previous days.

Mountain Goats on Herbert
Mountain Goats Herbert
Herbert Glacier

Sun King
Sun King

Eagle on Ice
Eagle on Ice
slightly fuzzy perhaps

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links for 2007-06-25

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We are docked in Juneau (population 32,000, spread out over a large area), the capital of Alaska, and the third largest city, so I have a crap-tastic internet connection for a moment. I've taken 494 photos so far, here's a small taste. I never would have imagined myself on a cruise ship, yet here I am, having a good time (mostly). Wish D could have joined me, and wish my ear infection would end already (!), and also wish most fervently that I would have had a couple of less gin and tonics last night (!!! oooh, my aching head).

Racks of Lamb
Racks of Lamb
dinner prep as we toured the kitchen

Glacier Walking
Glacier Walking

today took a tour of the local glaciers with my dad and my grandparents. I hope some of these photos turned out, such a spectacular sight. Lapis pools of limpid blue.

Ice Sculptor

Ice Sculptor

Chief Crowley
Chief Crowley

In Seattle Harbor.

Polar Bear Conceit
Polar Bear Conceit
they never seem to flinch. Kids love it, especially when the sea is rough.

Harry Spotter
Harry Spotter
A porno theater in Seattle. Didn't have time to go in though.

Pacific Ocean somewhere as we sped towards Juneau.

Embarking soon

Checked into my room, started putting away my luggage. The cabin is larger than my dinky hotel room last night.
About To Embark

Speaking of that: stayed at the Roosevelt Hotel on 7th Ave, along with several other member of our clan. Around 1 am (3 am according to my internal clock), I hear someone opening the door to my hotel room. I had partially fastened my privacy lock, enough to thwart the intruder, who had a working key! I hop out of bed and run to the door, peek out the keyhole, and see a young couple looking at their piece of paper which was written the room number. The same room number as the one I was assigned about 12 hours previous. I yelled out: "Hey, what are you doing! This is my room!"

They looked at each other, slightly befuddled, and say in reply, "But we have the key to this room."

I said something witty like, "Well, I'm in here, so there's been some mistake." One liners not forthcoming in such circumstance.

The next morning as I sipped coffee, waiting for others to wake up, I overheard the day manager discussing the incident, and popped up to complain. They had reset my room key, so that was probably a good thing. The person who checked me in collected my information, but neglected to enter it into their system, so the night clerk thought the room empty. They gave me a voucher for a all-you-can eat breakfast buffet next door, which was a nice gesture, but not really much of one when you think about it. Probably cost the hotel nothing.

I would never stay there again.

Seattle I certainly want to explore more of, beautiful city.

The Devil and Pope
The Devil and Pope
I paid two quarters for this shot, after the fact.

Ichiro Suzuki Slides into Home
Ichiro Suzuki Slides into Home
The box score

Top Pot Doughnuts
Top Pot Doughnuts
wandering around looking for a bottle of water, found the backside of this well-known doughnut cafe

Oceans of Motion
Oceans of Motion
outside of SAM


Navy Plane
Navy Plane
buzzing over Safeco Stadium (or whatever its called these days)

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Am I Boring You?

Am I Boring You? It is possible we're back up and running. Cross your limp noodles.... Of course, tomorrow morning I leave for an extended vacation, my first in at least 7 years. Seattle, and U.S. Customs allowing, a cruise to Alaska as part of my grandparents 60th wedding anniversary celebration. If I can, I'll post photos from the trip. Otherwise, feel free to visit the vast archives of B12, or the numerous quality webzines linked to in my blogroll. Amsterdam Alaska
Juneau, Alaska Located at the foot of grand mountain peaks on the Gastineau Channel, the town of Juneau has the massive Mendenhall Glacier and the immense Juneau Icefields at its back door. Juneau is the place to let your imagination run wild. Explore the lush Tongass National Forest. Visit the rustic shops in town. Or get out and kayak, dogsled, raft, hike, whale watch, flightsee or fish. There’s no end to the adventure because of the long daylight hours. Climb aboard the Mt. Roberts Tramway for a great spot to hike and shoot a souvenir photo.
Frederick Sound Frederick Sound, part of the Inside Passage of Alaska, is in the Alexander Archipelago and separates Kupreanof Island to the south from Admiralty Island in the north. Surrounded by breathtaking snowy peaks, it was named for Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany in 1794 and is home to a large population of humpback whales, sea lions and migratory seabirds. Admiralty Island is home to the highest concentration of brown bears in the world and the traditional native village of Angoon, the island's only permanent settlement. The Tlingít who live here are native Alaskans, and their culture places a strong emphasis on family and kinship.
Tracy Arm, Alaska, Usa This narrow, 26-mile-long fjord is another of Alaska's most dramatic glacier settings. The lush rain forest recedes to reveal a stunning canyon of bare rock. The panorama of 7,000-foot mountain peaks and nearly vertical rock cliffs is astounding. Waterfalls appear at every turn. Icebergs make their way to the sea in all sorts of wondrous shapes. And tucked away at the end of this remarkable waterway are two very active reminders of the Ice Age - the twin Sawyer Glaciers, calving icebergs into the jade-colored inland sea. Kittiwakes, mountain goats and seals are a common sight. Whales and bears may even make an appearance in this magical place.
Sitka, Alaska The onion domes of St. Michael’s Cathedral are your first clue that Sitka was once a Russian settlement – the colonial headquarters of Count Baranof, no less. Discover the echoes of its heyday at a performance by the New Archangel Dancers. Be greeted by Tlingit native people, then stand on the spot where the United States took possession of Alaska in 1867 for $7.2 million, less than two cents per acre. The dramatic setting in the shadow of Mt. Edgecumbe is one of the lovliest in the Great Land. Take a stroll through old growth forest in Sitka National Historical Park, shop the downtown district, and poke around the Sheldon Jackson Museum for a close-up look at some of the city's most prized arts, crafts and Russian relics.
Ketchikan, Alaska Built out over the water and climbing weathered stairways, Ketchikan clings to the shores of Tongass Narrows and drapes the mountains with a cheerful air. Besides the main attractions - Creek Street, the Tongass Historical Museum, Totem Bight State Park and Saxman Village, try a flightseeing trip to breathtaking Misty Fjords National Monument--a transformational adventure not to be missed. These deep water fjords left by retreating glaciers left granite cliffs towering thousands of feet above the sea and countless waterfalls cascading into placid waters. The souvenir photos you'll take from the pontoons of the plane are worth the trip alone.
Victoria, B.C. A touch of England awaits: afternoon tea, double-decker buses, the famed Butchart Gardens – a brilliant tapestry of color spread across 50 blooming acres. Sample shore excursions: A Taste of Victoria: City Lights with Wine & Chocolate; Ale Trail & Pub Tour
Cheers! and a hearty thank you to the patient engineers at pair networks who assisted moving nearly 4,000 entries to their new home (and thanks to dori smith for the suggestion. I trust they give her the referral fee they promised).

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Pair network

If this entry works, then the problem is mostly with configuration of ecto.

Future of Web Advertising

Could be worse I guess (Morning in America, anyone?) Of course, Barack Obama's office claims to have no participation in this cheesecake.

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Guam and the military

More news from Guam, this more on point than the last entry, and doesn't involve Fred Black or Jack Abramoff, at least on the surface. Apparently the U.S. military is ramping up their presence on Guam to levels not seen in fifty years, with all sorts of potential repercussions, including Guam's long and so-far futile quest for statehood, and proper, voting representation in Congress, not to mention a real estate boom possibly benefiting native Chamorrans.

Parenthetic note: I lived in Jona, Guam as a kid, in 1980, going to school for a semester and all, plus I have 100 or more relatives who currently live there, have lived there, or otherwise have strong ties to the island, on both sides of my family, including the King and Queen of Guam, who are having their 60th wedding anniversary on a cruise from Seattle to Alaska next week (more on that later, maybe).

Bracing for next wave | Chicago Tribune

Bracing for next wave
Residents of Guam nervously await a planned influx of thousands of American troops, unsure if it bodes well or ill for this tiny, strategically located U.S. territory in the Pacific
By Kirsten Scharnberg

A photo slideshow here. I have some better photos of my own, actually, in my analog photo albums, but these not digitized at the moment. Also, if I had more webpage 'fu, I'd hotlink the flash video clips, but instead you have to click on the Tribune article to watch them.

AGANA, Guam—There is no better view in Guam than the one from atop the air traffic control tower at Andersen Air Force Base on this island's northern shore. The Pacific Ocean stretches endlessly. The mountains with their lush foliage jut into the turquoise sky. When bad weather rolls in, it often can be spotted from here before anywhere else.

There is a storm, of sorts, coming to this speck of an island in the West Pacific.

Over the next decade, the Pentagon plans to shift at least 8,000 Marines here from Okinawa, Japan, boosting the permanent U.S. military presence on Guam to levels unseen since World War II.

The Air Force will expand its base by some 2,500 personnel and host a constant rotation of long-range bomber squadrons to help the U.S. deal with threats posed by a nuclear North Korea, a fast-expanding Chinese military and Islamic terrorist cells in such places as Indonesia and the Philippines.

And the Navy will continue to add sailors and some of its most advanced weapons, including Trident missiles and nuclear submarines.

In all, a remote U.S. territory once nicknamed “Operation Sleepy Hollow” within military circles will go from hosting only a few thousand U.S. troops to having up to 20,000, earning it a couple of new nicknames: “Fortress Pacific” and “America's unsinkable aircraft carrier.”

“I don't think anyone can say exactly how good or bad this change will be,” said Melissa Savares, mayor of Dededo, the island village expected to be most affected by the Marine expansion. “But everyone can safely say it will be profound.”

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Northern Marijuana Islands

Is there a joke here? Probably not: I lived on Guam (which is part of the Mariana Islands in fact if not in political jurisdiction) for 6 months - the amount of cannabis plants growing everywhere was amazing. Hard to eradicate a weed from a jungle. Maybe why Jack Abramoff and Frank Black paid so much attention to the island chain....

Pacific island in spin over planned pro-marijuana conference - Yahoo! News :
A proposed pro-marijuana conference to be held in the US-administered Northern Mariana Islands has led to a bizarre row among local legislators.

Opponents of the conference of Californian-based activists advocating that marijuana should be legalised have suggested the territory should be renamed the Northern Marijuana Islands.

But the cash-strapped government says the conference would be a boon for the sagging tourism industry.

“We welcome anybody who wants to hold a conference here, whether it be to discuss marijuana or not,” government spokesman Charles Reyes said Thursday.

“We want to attract conferences in the Northern Marianas because conferences are good for tourism.” ... Marijuana is a popular if illegal drug in the Northern Marianas where there are regular seizures of plants.

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Hillary Clinton's labor problem

Lest we forget, HRC is no liberal. In a better world, the electoral college would be dissolved, and the U.S. citizenry would split up the two-headed business party that currently runs our country (into a ditch) and multiple parties would bloom. Ha. Ha.

Until then, conservative DLC members like Ms. Clinton will run the Dems and more conservative faux-Christians like Rudy G will run the Repubs. Where is the party that represents me?


Hillary Clinton's labor problem | Salon.com :
There must be moments when the leaders of America's labor movement mutter the dark lament of the late Rodney Dangerfield, because so often they “get no respect” from the same Democratic politicians who depend on union endorsements and funding. This week they could certainly feel that way, after voicing their “concern” over the actions of a huge union-busting public relations company headed by Sen. Hillary Clinton's top political strategist, Mark Penn -- and getting no satisfactory response.

The prodigious Penn, a pollster and counselor to the Clintons since 1995, has risen to the commanding heights of the public relations and research business over the three decades since he entered politics. Having started in a tiny, two-man polling operation in a New York City mayoral campaign, he is now the CEO of Burson-Marsteller Inc., one of the planet's largest P.R. shops, with corporate clients ranging from Microsoft to Shell Oil and Pfizer. For progressive voters, those connections should raise questions about Penn's dominant role in the Clinton campaign, especially because he has reportedly boasted about the business benefits of his political power.

Smart, skillful and tenacious, Penn is also the ultimate expression of a long-standing trend among political consultants -- that is, claiming to serve the public interest during election years while selling their connections and knowledge to special interests every year. For him and many of his colleagues, the affluence that accrues to influence shapes their attitudes (and their advice to candidates). They tend to reject populism and almost any position that might lead to conflict with their corporate benefactors.
...Among the most controversial aspects of Penn's firm's business, from the liberal perspective at least, come under the category of “labor relations,” a traditional euphemism for suppressing workers and thwarting their right to organize. Before Penn scrubbed his firm's Web site, it advertised this specialty and noted the firm's capacity to confront “Organized Labor's coordinated campaigns whether they are in conjunction with organizing or contract negotiating.” Not the most graceful wording, but the idea is clear enough.

And in practice, as Berman reported, Burson executives have used these skills against two major unions seeking to organize workers at Cintas, the nationwide uniform-supply company, which may be the single most ambitious union drive in North America today.

So here was a conflict of interest that seemed both direct and salient. Sen. Clinton is a declared supporter of labor rights who often tells workers that she is on their side. Besides, she badly wants the support of the Teamsters and UNITE HERE, the unions seeking to organize the Cintas employees, not to mention all the other labor organizations that might help her win the nomination and the presidency. But on the issue of workers rights, her top advisor has been on the other side.

Proportional Responses

Ari Berman of the Nation has more details about Ms. Clinton's Karl Rove:

perhaps the most important figure in the campaign is [Hillary Clinton's] pollster and chief strategist, Mark Penn, a combative workaholic. Penn is not yet a household name, but perhaps he should be. Inside Hillaryland, he has elaborately managed the centrist image Hillary has cultivated in the Senate. The campaign is polling constantly, and Penn's interpretation of the numbers will in large part decide her political direction.

Yet Penn is no ordinary pollster. Beyond his connections to the Clintons, he not only polls for America's biggest companies but also runs one of the world's premier PR agencies. This creates a dilemma for Hillary: Penn represents many of the interests whose influence candidate Clinton--in an attempt to appeal to an increasingly populist Democratic electorate--has vowed to curtail. Is what's good for Penn and his business good for Hillary's political career? And furthermore, can she convincingly claim to fight for the average American with Penn guiding strategy in her corner?...
Penn, who had previously worked in the business world for companies like Texaco and Eli Lilly, brought his corporate ideology to the White House. After moving to Washington he aggressively expanded his polling firm, Penn, Schoen & Berland (PSB). It was said that Penn was the only person who could get Bill Clinton and Bill Gates on the same phone line. Penn's largest client was Microsoft, and he saw no contradiction between working for both the plaintiff and the defense in what was at the time the country's largest antitrust case. A variety of controversial clients enlisted PSB. The firm defended Procter and Gamble's Olestra from charges that it caused anal leakage, blamed Texaco's bankruptcy on greedy jurors and market-tested genetically modified foods for Monsanto. Penn invented the concept of “inoculation,” in which corporations are shielded from scandal through clever advertising and marketing. Selling an image, companies realized, was as important as winning a legislative favor.

Penn kept his foot in the political world through the Clintons. In 2000 he became the chief architect of Hillary's Senate victory in New York, persuading her, in a rerun of '96, to eschew big themes and relentlessly focus on poll-tested pothole politics, such as suburban transit lines and dairy farming upstate. Following that election, Penn became a very rich man--and an even more valued commodity in the business world (Hillary paid him $1 million for her re-election campaign in '06 and $277,000 in the first quarter of this year). The massive PR empire WPP Group acquired Penn's polling firm for an undisclosed sum in 2001 and four years later named him worldwide CEO of one of its most prized properties, the PR firm Burson-Marsteller (B-M). A key player in the decision to hire Penn was Howard Paster, President Clinton's chief lobbyist to Capitol Hill and a top executive in the WPP firmament. “Clients of stature come to Mark constantly for counsel,” says Paster, who informally advises Hillary, explaining the hire. The press release announcing Penn's promotion noted his work “developing and implementing deregulation informational programs for the electric utilities industry and in the financial services sector.” The release blithely ignored how utility deregulation contributed to the California electricity crisis manipulated by Enron and the blackout of 2003, which darkened much of the Northeast and upper Midwest.

Burson-Marsteller is hardly a natural fit for a prominent Democrat. The firm has represented everyone from the Argentine military junta to Union Carbide after the 1984 Bhopal disaster in India, in which thousands were killed when toxic fumes were released by one of its plants, to Royal Dutch Shell, which has been accused of massive human rights violations in Nigeria. B-M pioneered the use of pseudo-grassroots front groups, known as “astroturfing,” to wage stealth corporate attacks against environmental and consumer organizations. It set up the National Smokers Alliance on behalf of Philip Morris to fight tobacco regulation in the early 1990s. Its current clients include major players in the finance, pharmaceutical and energy industries. In 2006, with Penn at the helm, the company gave 57 percent of its campaign contributions to Republican candidates.

A host of prominent Republicans fall under Penn's purview. B-M's Washington lobbying arm, BKSH & Associates, is run by Charlie Black, a leading GOP operative who maintains close ties to the White House, including Karl Rove, and was former partners with Lee Atwater, the political consultant who crafted the Willie Horton smear campaign used by George H.W. Bush against Michael Dukakis in 1988. Black regularly disparages the Clintons; he has called Hillary a “martyr figure” and said Bill “tearfully embraced...government preferences for [a] homosexual lifestyle.” In recent years Black's clients have included the likes of Iraq's Ahmad Chalabi, the darling of the neocon right in the run-up to the war; Lockheed Martin; and Occidental Petroleum. In the summer of 2005 he landed a contract with the Lincoln Group, the disgraced PR firm that covertly placed US military propaganda in Iraqi news outlets. The agreement, according to Intelligence Online, allowed the Lincoln Group to “tap into BKSH's extensive contacts in the Republican administration.” When asked by The New Yorker if there was too much cronyism in Iraq, Black responded, “I just wish I could find the cronies.”

Black is only one cannon in B-M's Republican arsenal. Its “grassroots” lobbying branch, Direct Impact--which specializes in corporate-funded astroturfing--is run by Dennis Whitfield, a former Reagan Cabinet official, and Dave DenHerder, the political director of the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign in Ohio. That's not all. B-M recently partnered with lobbyist Ed Gillespie, the former head of the Republican National Committee, in creating the new ad firm 360Advantage, which is run by two ad men for the Bush-Cheney campaigns and which includes a few prominent Democrats. Its first project was a campaign for the neoconservative Weekly Standard magazine against “liberal bias” in the media. There's more than a little irony that some Democrats would assist a conservative media machine that so regularly smears the Clintons. Yet the so-called “bipartisan” firm is hardly objective--of its thirteen principals, ten are Republicans.

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links for 2007-06-16

Could be worse I guess (Morning in America, anyone?)

Of course, Barack Obama's office claims to have no participation in this cheesecake.

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links for 2007-06-15

links for 2007-06-14

Brian Jones is high again

or else is just having a really, really good time.

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I'll choose TD, thanks

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If I hear one more media “personality” or blogging pundit criticize the team-first Spurs for being 'boring', I might scream. Likewise for everyone who laments the lack of television ratings. Perhaps the general public doesn't appreciate team-oriented basketball, but the general public also loves American Idol, and didn't like Arrested Development or Deadwood, so I don't really care. The league isn't hurting for financial remuneration. Perhaps ESPN/ABC is part of the problem with their crappy coverage, and if the league moved to a different network, all fans would benefit.

At NBA Finals, Sneaker Ads Go Toe to Toe - WSJ.com :

One team emphasizes a big superstar who performs spectacular feats and sometimes underwhelms. The other, less-flashy squad stresses teamwork and steady progress. It is this year's NBA Finals -- in more ways than one.

For decades, Nike has used its mix of star athletes and savvy marketing to dominate the basketball-shoe market. Now, the company's $90 million investment in LeBron James is being put to its biggest test as the National Basketball Association star's Cleveland Cavaliers continue to face the San Antonio Spurs this week. Adidas, meanwhile, is taking a different approach.
Rival Adidas has a star endorser at the finals, too -- veteran Spurs big man Tim Duncan. But Mr. Duncan's TV spot, the fifth in a series of ads called “It Takes 5IVE,” stresses the importance of teamwork over the individual accomplishment of one player, a message particularly appropriate to the self-effacing Mr. Duncan and the Spurs. Adidas is also relying on its merchandising deal with the NBA to showcase its brand in the finals. Because the company is the league's official uniform and apparel provider, its logo appears on NBA players' uniforms and warm-up suits, and on the team jerseys and other NBA merchandise sold to fans.

“As a brand, it's a bigger picture for us, instead of taking just one guy and hedging all your bets on him,” says Adidas basketball spokesman Travis Gonzolez. Adidas's sponsorship of the NBA means the finals are “going to be a huge success for us, even if they [the Cavaliers] win.”
As part of its campaign, Nike draped a 110-foot banner of Mr. James on a building in Cleveland and released a limited number of T-shirts with the word “Witness” above the Nike swoosh logo. Print and TV ads created by Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, Ore., highlight Mr. James's playoff performance and are running in Sports Illustrated, and on ESPN and other outlets. A digital campaign by R/GA in New York features information on Mr. James back to his high-school career in Ohio and shows commercials from the past two years of his NBA career.

Adidas's season-long “It Takes 5IVE” campaign features five Adidas-sponsored athletes -- Tracy McGrady, Gilbert Arenas, Kevin Garnett, Chauncey Billups and Mr. Duncan. Adidas executives chose to save Mr. Duncan's ad for last, correctly guessing the Spurs would make it to the finals. In the ad, Mr. Duncan reiterates the theme, saying: “You were fooled because you believed it was all about me, while I believe it takes five.”

In the matchup of individual star power versus teamwork, some observers give the edge this time to Nike. “All the buzz around the finals is around LeBron,” says Jim Andrews, senior vice president at Chicago-based sports-marketing consulting firm IEG Inc. “They're able to capitalize on what's most interesting in the finals, which is his role.”

On the other hand, the Spurs are favored to win.

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crass commercialism test

links for 2007-06-13

Captcha for humunity

Image based Captcha systems are becoming increasingly difficult to fill out at places like YouTube, or blogger sites. Frequently takes several tries for me to successfully fill them in. I used a simple phrase instead (though comments are shut down at the moment, if you haven't noticed), and false-positive spam comments dropped to zero. I really like Professor von Ahn's system: I wonder if there is a way I could use it here?

A Dog or a Cat? New Tests to Fool Automated Spammers - New York Times
Captchas are the puzzles on many Web sites that present a string of distorted letters and numbers. These are supposed to be easy for people to read and retype, but hard for computer software to figure out.

Most major Internet companies use captchas to keep the automated programs of spammers from infiltrating their sites.

There is only one problem. As online mischief makers design better ways to circumvent or defeat captchas, Web companies are responding by making the puzzles more challenging to solve — even for people.

They are twisting the letters, distorting the backgrounds, adding a confusing kaleidoscope of colors and generally making it difficult for humans.

“They are creating tests that a reasonably healthy adult can’t pass,” said Gordon Weakliem, a programmer and blogger from Denver, who says he failed to correctly discern the captcha code several times last week on the sign-up page for the Windows Live service of Microsoft....

Not everyone feels that the traditional captcha is finished. Luis von Ahn, a professor at Carnegie Mellon and a member of the team that invented captchas, recently unveiled an effort to give them new usefulness. His reCaptcha project (recaptcha.net) seeks to block spam while handling the challenge of digitally scanning old books and making them available in Web search engines. When character recognition software fails to decipher a word scanned in a book — when the page is yellowed or the letters are smudged, for example — Mr. von Ahn’s project makes it part of a captcha.

After the mystery word has been verified by several people, it is fed back into the digital copy of the book. “I heard that 60 million captchas are solved every day around the world, which first made me quite happy for myself but then quite sad,” he said. “It takes about 10 seconds to solve a captcha, so that means humanity is wasting thousands of hours solving them. I wanted to do something good for humanity in that time.”

Ahh, apparently there is. Will have to install this when my site gets righted.


YouTube to video ID software

Inevitable, inexorable march towards the Disney-fication of all media continues.

BBC: YouTube to test video ID software
Online video site YouTube is to test a new video fingerprinting technology to address copyright concerns.

The software will identify unique attributes in video clips and could be used to prevent copyrighted clips from being uploaded without permission.

YouTube executive Chris Maxcy told news agency Reuters that the tool would be tested in a month's time.

Breach of copyright has been an ongoing issue for the Google-owned video sharing site.

In March, media company Viacom launched a lawsuit against the company for $1bn (£507m).

The firm, which owns MTV and Nickelodeon, charged Google and YouTube with “massive intentional copyright infringement” for alleged unauthorised use of its clips.

It is also being sued by the English Premier League over alleged copyright infringement.

YouTube has denied these claims, but it has vowed to take a tough line on copyright violation.

live from Austin Texas, Willie Nelson performs Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain. Note to self: go to the freaking post office already, sheesh.


Willie Nelson called me one day and asked if he could appear as a guest in our Time 4 Hemp Studios. To discuss how hemp can help the family farm. On 6/6/91 we taped live. I later went on the 91'hemp tour and we were able to get all ten shows into 99 cities in 44 states.
Check out my other hemp related videos and music at www.digitalHemp.com/

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DePaul Chicago rejects Finkelstein

The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering, New Edition 2nd Edition
“The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering, New Edition 2nd Edition” (Norman G. Finkelstein)

US college rejects Jewish professor over anti-Israel stance | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited
One of the most rancorous disputes in American academia has ended with a prominent political scientist, with controversial views on Israel and anti-semitism, being denied tenure at one of the country's top-10 private universities.
Norman Finkelstein, author of The Holocaust Industry, now has less than a year remaining on his contract with the political sciences department of DePaul university in Chicago. He lost his bid for a lifelong post following a 4-3 vote of the university's promotions and tenure board. ... Mr Finkelstein has argued in his books that claims of anti-semitism are used to dampen down criticism of Israeli policy towards the Palestinians and that the Holocaust is exploited by some Jewish institutions for their own gain.

His outspoken position as a Jewish intellectual critical of Israel and of some elites within the Jewish community has prompted passionate debate on both sides of the argument.

Prominent intellectuals such as the prolific writer, Noam Chomsky, and the Oxford historian, Avi Schlaim, have spoken out in Mr Finkelstein's favour, but others have decried him in equal measure as giving succour to anti-semitism.

His most bitter opponent is Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard law professor, who campaigned heavily to prevent tenure being granted. Soon after Mr Finkelstein applied for it, Mr Dershowitz sent DePaul faculty members a dossier of what he categorised as the “most egregious academic sins, outright lies, misquotations, and distortions” of the political scientist.

The dispute has roots that go deeper still, with Mr Finkelstein devoting much of his most recent book,

Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History

Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History

to an attack on Mr Dershowitz's own work, the Case for Israel. Mr Dershowitz threatened to sue.

Mr Finkelstein, the son of Holocaust survivors, has responded to the decision in essence to sack him from his job at DePaul by condemning the vote as an act of political aggression.

“I met the standards of tenure DePaul required, but it wasn't enough to overcome the political opposition to my speaking out on the Israel-Palestine conflict.”

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Category archives

I blew up several of my category archives, they were costing too much bandwidth, and what's really the point anyway? I haven't deleted all of them, but probably will in the future.

Blog travails continue: very difficult to get a stable condition to make any edits, much less new entries.

Also, started playing with MT4, so am amusing myself by seeing what changes have been made, and what errors still exist.

Moving to a better host is in the cards, probably, if I can justify spending more on a hobby than google ads and Amazon click-throughs bring in.

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links for 2007-06-11

links for 2007-06-10

links for 2007-06-07

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links for 2007-06-02

Chicago Mail

The spotlight continues to shine on Chicago's horrible mail service.

Simple Blues

Awful mail service starts at square 1
Records that Chicago postal workers use to deliver the mail contain more than 84,000 errors -- one of the major reasons mail delivery in the city is such a mess, postal officials told a congressional subcommittee Thursday.

Faulty records, outdated equipment, poor supervision and the “overall work culture” were among the explanations provided for the decline of Chicago's mail operation, which U.S. Postmaster General John Potter dubbed the worst in the nation when he visited in April.
About 140 postal experts from across the nation have been assigned to analyze every aspect of the city's operation. They have walked about half of the city's routes so far and found that thousands of addresses on file are incorrect, Potter said.

Potter was joined by disgruntled customers, union leaders, local politicians and business owners Thursday morning at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse to testify before the House Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, Postal Service and District of Columbia, chaired by U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill).

I mentioned receiving a bunch of New Yorkers last week (all nearly 1 year late); yesterday I received another, also dated August 2006. You'd think DHL was running the Chicago USPS.

For the record, my local postal branch is surprisingly staffed with nice, helpful people. Whenever I have reason to go stand in line there, I'm pleasantly surprised. I think the problem is more at the main sorting facility, and that the USPS database is old and outdated, especially with so much construction and rehabbing going on city-wide. Our building, for instance, is a combination of three buildings, and I wouldn't be surprised if the USPS address database still lists some of the defunct street numbers.

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