jeudi, mars 31, 2005

more DIY supervillaining

How to Destroy Earth (no, it's not the GOP's new environmental policy ... but good guess).
Destroying the Earth is harder than you may have been led to believe.

You've seen the action movies where the bad guy threatens to destroy the Earth. You've heard people on the news claiming that the next nuclear war or cutting down rainforests or persisting in releasing hideous quantities of pollution into the atmosphere threatens to end the world.


The Earth was built to last. It is a 4,550,000,000-year-old, 5,973,600,000,000,000,000,000-tonne ball of iron. It has taken more devastating asteroid hits in its lifetime than you've had hot dinners, and lo, it still orbits merrily. So my first piece of advice to you, dear would-be Earth-destroyer, is: do NOT think this will be easy.
Via WackyNeighbor

mercredi, mars 30, 2005

the evil Mpire

Be afraid. Be very afraid. The evil Mpire is coming.


this just in: sex is good

Everywhere I go, there's some mention of sex.
1. Today's lunchtime pilates conversation with Aaron and Denisse included several funny subliminal references.

2. Later on, this headline jumped out me:
Sex is good for the species: Process enhances survivability in stressful conditions
A new study using genetically modified yeast helps to settle the question: Sex is indeed beneficial.
3. And just now, I watched the new "Krafty" New Order video at iFilm.
Who says workplace romances never work? Here's one that's working overtime for dancerock legends New Order as boy meets girl on the job and girl gets boy after work.

It's everywhere I tell you, everywhere.

the birds, part deux

I heard this story today on Morning Edition and laughed when I saw that Nolan had sent me a copy.
Real-Life Sequel to 'The Birds'
In Elkhart, Ind., a flock of wild turkeys was seen standing in the road, obstructing traffic near a school. Later, at the same elementary school, kids looked out the window to see the turkeys outside. Then the kids went out to play, and the birds attacked. Soon, police and animal control workers brought in nets. They spent 25 minutes chasing the turkeys … and they failed to catch a single one.
Via NPR and Nolan


I've decided that "escrow" is a synonym for a financially induced migraine that lasts 30, 60, or 90 days. Mine will be over on April 20 and I can't wait.

Then it's on to "mortgage" - in my case a first and a second, the terms for which are more years than I have actually been alive. The mind boggles.

mardi, mars 29, 2005

it still gives me goosebumps

U2, as photographed by Anton Corbijn in 1987 and later used in the With or Without You single gatefold
I was thinking more about the desaparecidos and listening to Mothers of the Disappeared off "The Joshua Tree" tonight. The album looped, and I had to stop what I was doing when I heard my favorite lines of Running to Stand Still:
You got to cry without weeping
Talk without speaking
Scream without raising your voice, you know ...

She runs through the streets
With her eyes painted red
Under a black belly of cloud in the rain
In through a doorway she brings me
White gold and pearls stolen from the sea

She is raging
She is raging and the storm blows up in her eyes
She will suffer the needle chill
She is running to stand still.
Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen Jr.— thank you for making my favorite album of all time.

lundi, mars 28, 2005

los desaparecidos: photo exhibit and lectures

Nunca Más (Never Again) has been the cry of thousands of families in Argentina, Chile, and other Latin American countries that suffered under military dictatorships during the 1970s and 1980s. In Chile some 3,000 people were murdered, tortured, or disappeared.

In Argentina, the numbers are much higher: 30,000 desaparecidos — students, young workers and intellectuals, as well as bystanders with no political agenda — who vanished without a trace. The six-year reign of terror began when a junta overthrew Argentina's democratically elected government on March 24, 1976 and attempted to systematically cleanse the country of "subversives."

Democracy was restored in 1983 and a national commission documented the abductions of men, women (some pregnant), and children; 340 well-organized secret detention centers; and the methodical use of torture and murder. Records of most of the atrocities were destroyed by the military in the aftermath of the Falklands War in 1982. The perpetrators of the crimes have not been brought to justice and most of the victim’s families have never recovered the bodies of their loved ones.

After seeing several films ("The Official Story," "Missing," and "Cachimba" are all good) and a few PBS specials on the topic, I'm going to the photo exhibit at the Mission Valley Library and plan to attend the public lecture at San Diego State University on April 4. There are several films, including "The Official Story," and additional lectures on the topic at the library, as well.
Virginia Gianonni, installation artist from Argentina, will speak about her artistic tribute to the desaparecidos.

Gianonni's installation consists of exhibition panels depicting the faces of 600 hundred of the missing taken from photographs published in a Buenos Aires newspaper. Included are tributes from their loved ones.

Gianonni's April 4 lecture in Spanish will include a short videotape about the exhibition's reception in Argentina. Call (619) 594-6736 for more information.
Via SDSUniverse and the San Diego Public Library

samedi, mars 26, 2005

wagging the dog: u.s. media ignores rumsfeld torture trial

"Our country is one that safeguards human rights and human dignity. . . I live in a transparent country . . . where decisions made by government are wide-open."
- George W. Bush, in Slovakia, Feb. 24, 2005

While the American media is agonzingly thorough in its blow-by-blow coverage of the Jackson trial (no pun intended), Donald Rumsfeld's trial for torture and civil rights abuses remains curiously absent from the headlines. Coincidence? You decide.
In order to fight a new war against terrorism, the U.S. government would often need to work "quietly" and "without any discussion," and would "use any means at our disposal" and "work through, sort of, the dark side." "America's Extraordinary Tolerance for Torture," Salon, February 11, 2005, paraphrasing and quoting Vice President Dick Cheney from his appearance on NBC's Meet the Press, September 16, 2001.

On March 1, the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights First filed a historic lawsuit, Ali et al. v. Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense of the United States of America, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (the defendant's home state).

In all forms of media, there has been minimal coverage of the very existence of this legal action, and even less of the precisely documented charges, including the defendant's violations of American and international laws and the consequences of his continuing lawlessness.
Via The Village Voice

passport, please

Places that I have a meaningful recollection of:
American Samoa, Australia, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Italy, New Zealand, Turkey.

Places I visited/ lived in when I was too young to remember:
Brazil, Germany, Paraguay, Spain.

My current travel wishlist:
1. Peru (Machu Picchu, Cuzco)
2. China (all over)
3. India (Agra/Benares, all over)
4. Egypt and the Holy Land (Israel, Jordan)
5. Ireland (all over)
6. Cambodia (Angkor wat, etc.)
7. Kenya (Maasai Mara)
8. Turkey (Istanbul, not Constantinople, Cappadocia)
9. Cuba (but don't tell the US government)
10. Spain
11. Morocco, Libya
12. Russia (St. Petersberg)
13. South Africa
14. Galapagos Islands
15. Easter Island

the media circus around terry schiavo

I've been too perturbed to blog about the Schiavo issue, because it gets my panties in a bunch when I think of the so-called "party of less government" making end-of-life decisions it has no business making. But the so-called "liberal media" has failed to say anything about the Sun Hudson case, so here goes...

As someone who's actually thought long and hard about right-to-die issues after facing my own medical scare (I'm 18 months cancer-free), I'm pissed. And I've updated my own living will, in hopes that my family and loved ones will never be at the mercy of the GOP and this blatant effort to make political hay. It's especially despicable given the 1999 Texas law George W. Bush signed, allowing doctors to pull the plug even when the entire family wants to keep a patient on life support.
From the Washington Post:

Perhaps the alleged contradiction generating the most buzz among bloggers this week is the story of Sun Hudson, a five-month-old boy who died last week after Texas Children's Hospital in Houston insisted on removing him from his ventilator. The hospital's decision was made possible by a law then-Gov. George W. Bush signed in 1999.

The measure allows for a patient's surrogate to make end-of-life decisions and spells out how to proceed if a hospital or other health provider disagrees with a decision to maintain or halt life-sustaining treatment. If a doctor refuses to honor the decision made by a surrogate, the case goes before a medical committee. If the committee agrees with the doctor, the guardian or surrogate has 10 days to seek treatment elsewhere.

Amid the gathering storm of the Schiavo controversy, Wanda Hudson fought a lonely battle to keep Texas Children's Hospital from removing her son from a ventilator. Mario Caballero, Hudson's Houston-based attorney said she prayed not only for her son's survival, but also for the sort of political intervention Schiavo had received. Neither Medicaid nor Hudson's bank account could cover the cost of prolonged care. When no other facility would accept him, Texas Children's pulled the plug, and Sun Hudson died seconds later, without fanfare or political outcry.

Via The Thin Blue Line

jeudi, mars 24, 2005

bram stoker's dubya

Very nicely put.


doing strange things to their dogs with forks

Toastmasters speech (Research your topic) originally given on March 24, 2005
Award: Most improved speaker (overtime DQ)

Raise your hand if you like bread.

Now take a minute and think -- how many sandwiches have you eaten in the last month? 1? 3? 10?

Did you know that you could get ergotism from eating a sandwich?

Ergotism (also known as ergot poisoning), is a caused by ergot, a fungus that grows on rye.

In 1951, many residents of a small town in France named Pont St-Esprit developed a burning sensation in their limbs, began to hallucinate that they could fly, and did "strange things to their dogs with forks." You might say they were acting a bit, well, weird.

The survivors reported these symptoms...
- Sensing thousands of pin pricks in their arms and head
- Feeling as though insects were crawling under their skin
- Seeing all sorts of deformed animals
- Having visions of fire and blood running down the walls
- Experiencing violent convulsions

One survivor summed it up by saying: "I had a feeling that my body was not mine."

What had happened to their town?
They were experiencing something that had happened hundreds of times before to thousands of people. They had all been poisoned by something they ate. But this wasn't an ordinary type of food poisoning. It was a mild case of ergotism.

There was only one bakery in Pont St-Esprit and everyone bought bread from it until strange things started happening. The scientific cause: the bread had been made with moldy rye flour. But the townspeople were so convinced that the bakery was actually possessed by the devil that the local bishop exorcised it.

It is not hard to imagine how an outbreak of ergot poisoning could lead to paranoid behavior by the victim, as well. The good people of Pont St-Esprit reported "being chased or attacked by horrible beasts," "terror of dark," and burning sensations in their extremities and scalp.

Historian John Grant Fuller actually traces the development of the werewolf legend to an ongoing low level of ergot contamination. The hallucination of being pursued by horrible beasts is one classic element of the story. The tingling and loss of sensation in the extremities may also have been interpreted as the consequence of shape shifting.

It's really not so odd to think of something or someone as possessed. The most famous episode of this hysteria in our own country: the Salem Witch Trials. The women initially accused of witchcraft had hallucinations, convulsions, and behaved oddly. A recent episode of NOVA on KPBS explains why these women were acting weirdly -- the climate conditions, geological record, and firsthand accounts all point to these women having had a mild case of ergot poisoning.

But what happens when you have a not-so-mild case of ergot poisoning?
Ergotism is characterized by constriction of blood vessels, resulting in numbness and the development of gangrene in extremities; it may also affect the nervous system. The common name for ergotism is St. Anthony's Fire.

St. Anthony is the patron saint of lost causes and is associated with diseases such as the plague and miraculous cures because of the manner in which he was tortured by the devil. In the middle ages, hospitals were built all over Europe to honor St. Anthony.

Those with extreme cases of ergotism came to the Hospital of St. Anthony in
Isenheim, Germany. There, they sought the only life-saving treatment available for their rotting limbs. Before undergoing the operation, they would visit the chapel and see the Isenheim altarpiece.

Isenheim Altarpiece by Mathias Grünewald, c. 1515, Oil on wood. Musee d'Unterlinden, Colmar, France.

St. Anthony's suffering --and the faith that kept him alive -- was the inspiration for the Renaissance artwork before you. The altarpiece is a painting in many panels that opens like a cabinet. Note that Christ is slightly off-center, such that when the altarpiece is opened, one of his arms is severed. The smaller image of Christ lying down after being crucified is also off-center, and when the altarpiece opens, his legs are amputated just below the knee. The work would have been a clear message to those suffering from ergotism. The message: pain brings you closer to God -- endure the pain, maintain faith in God, and know that Christ suffered as you are. Do these things and you'll receive the same reward that St. Anthony did -- eternal salvation.

But those were the Middle Ages -- what about ergot today?
Did you know that ergot is the source of LSD? The hallucinations experienced by the residents of Pont St.-Esprit were essentially a very bad acid trip.

I googled "ergot" and learned that it is also used to create medicines that alleviate migraine headaches and stop hemorrhaging. It is used to treat circulatory disorders where muscle fibers of the arteries constrict, causing spasms. And it was actually used by seventeenth century midwives to stop bleeding after childbirth.

Look up "ergot" on the Internet and you'll learn lots about how the contamination of rye flour lead to thousands of deaths from ergot poisoning in the Middle Ages. You'll also learn that in the 6th century B.C.E., the Assyrians used ergot for bioterrorism, poisoning enemy wells with rye ergot.

Nowadays, you can get pastrami on rye just about anywhere. The fact is, you're probably never going to worry that you're becoming a werewolf or that you'll do strange things to your dogs with a fork after eating rye bread.

But what about those of you who don't eat rye bread?

Let's take a look at the ingredient label for this super-healthy organic sprouted 7-grain bread I bought at Trader Joe's last night: "Organic sprouted wheat berries, organic sprouted oats, organic sprouted rye ..."

I'll bet you never look at a sandwich or bread the same way again.

mardi, mars 22, 2005

the landed gentry

After what seems like forever, I am now the proud almost-owner of my first home. The loan docs are signed and I've written the largest check of my life. But my letter to the seller probably best describes my feelings toward my new home.
Dear Meridith,

I wanted to take a moment and tell you why I want to buy your home.

I'm a first-time buyer and this purchase means a great deal to me. I'll be thirty years old in April. I work full time at_______ in ____________ and have just applied to the part-time MBA program at _____. In the past 18 months, I've beaten cancer and survived a divorce. Now, I'm looking to create a home for myself and my 12-year old golden retriever, Casey.

I want to make my home in your condo. I love to cook and see myself spending hours in your beautiful kitchen. I love that the kitchen is big enough for my friends and I to cook together. I can see my friends at the table, playing board games and drinking wine. In my mind's eye, I see my girlfriends and I spending an evening in, working on our crafts while getting caught up on each others' lives. And I can also see myself proudly showing my new home to my parents.

I'm amazed at the painstaking attention to detail you've put into everything from the soothing colors in the bedrooms to the fun way you've decorated your bathroom -- where did you find the underwear and bra drawings? I see the personal touches you've made in your home and imagine my own family photographs hanging on the walls.

I also enjoy the vibrant diversity of the neighborhood - I've lived a half-mile from your home for 8 years now. I can't wait to ride my bike down to the taco shop on 35th Street or over to the farmer's market by 30th and University. And I can't wait to be able to say that I'm coming home to a place that I own.

Buying your home means so much to me. It's a big step in moving my life to where I want to be -- healthy, independent, and focused on enjoying every moment.

lundi, mars 21, 2005



There are corners of the world where lost things gather, remote shores that receive the castoffs of industrial society. Alang, India, is such a place, a colossal chop shop fronting the Arabian Sea. On 3 miles of hulk-littered coast, 40,000 laborers dismember defunct oceangoing vessels that Western nations and Russia sell to Indian "shipbreaking" companies. About 400 supertankers, container vessels, and bulk carriers - even the occasional cruise liner - end up each year on the oil-stained sands of Alang, stranded and doomed like so many beached whales.

Through this excellent Monkeyfilter post, a haunting gallery of ships being dismantled.
Via Wacky Neighbor

dimanche, mars 20, 2005

male perceptions of body image

We've all heard about women thinking they're heavier than they are and what happens when they have body dysmorphism. But what about the disconnect for men between what's in the mirror and what they see?

This study is neat because of what it focuses on: muscles and what men think women find sexy. It turns out that male perceptions of body image are just as skewed as women's perceptions of themselves.

Cultural Differences Seen in Male Perceptions of Body Image
Preliminary results of a study from the Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital finds that Taiwanese men are not as dissatisfied with their bodies as Western men. Sean Cole explores the permutations of body image perception among men.

samedi, mars 19, 2005

contest the vote

California politics are nutty, nutty, nutty.

Take a look at for info against Arnie's newest plan.

Governor Schwarzenegger wants to force us to vote in a special election this year, mere months before secure paper trails would be required in all electronic voting machines.

Just when we thought Arnold could not get any more abusive, here he comes again, this time pre-empting our right to a secure ballot. But, we don't have to be bullied into this. Instead, join us in signing the PETITION posted at, demanding that Arnold drop his plan to call for a special election.

Arnold wants us to spend $60- $70 million scarce dollars for this boondoggle-- even while he's trying to slash desperately needed social and educational programs. His initiative proposals will not save the state any money, but rather allow him to follow Bush's lead in privatizing retirement funds.

In California, it affects the pensions of teachers, police and firefighters. (Painfully enough, the initiatives would remove death and disability benefits from our public safety workers, folks who put their lives on the line every day!) Another initiative would pressure teachers to 'teach to the test,' as pay would be based upon the 'one size fits all' standardized testing scores.

Arnold can get around campaign fairness laws if he raises money for his initiatives now. By law, he can't do that next fall, since he plans to be a candidate in June. So he figures California taxpayers can sponsor his initiative adventure to the tune of $70 million.

While we could have a more secure, recountable vote in June 2006, this November the true vote count will be a mystery. If you thought there was chaos and misery in post-election Ohio, imagine the scope of it in a state the size of California.

We have about a month to make a difference. Please join us in this important cause to protect our voting rights. Sign to stifle Arnold's power grab; contact everyone you know in California. Let's get those signature numbers escalating against Arnold's very bad idea.

Via Harrison

mercredi, mars 16, 2005

the sounds of summer

I'm a competitive, active and reasonably coordinated person, yet I loathe many sports. And I detest most sports commentators. But I love Frank Deford -- so much so that I wrote him a fan letter seven years ago.

I look forward to being in my car Wednesday mornings at 7:45 a.m., listening to NPR's Morning Edition and hearing Frank weave a story around sports during his "sweetness and light" segment.

This week's tale, Remembering Chuck Thompson, was about the sounds of summer and baseball commentators who could turn a colorful phrase. It left me reminiscing about childhoods spent listening to Vin Scully commenting on Dodgers games. It also made me smile as I thought about going to Angels games with my dad as a kid.

And a few weeks ago, Frank's essay on miracle makers (the Miracle League, which gives disabled children the chance to play baseball) left me all messy around the eyes.

Thank you, Frank. You've helped me appreciate the positive impact sports have on our culture. And you've reminded me why baseball really is the great American pastime.

beatallica rocks

Be sure to listen to the whole story online and then hear their songs.
Beatles-Metallica Parody Band Forced Offline

A Milwaukee-based parody band known for Metallica-infused covers of Beatles' songs has been accused of violating copyright laws. After posting songs from their catalog online, the band received a cease-and-desist letter from Sony/ATV Music Publishing demanding that they take down their Web site and pay unspecified damages. The band had gained a large Internet following for songs like "I Want to Choke Your Band" and "Leper Madonna."While Beatallica considers its legal options, its site remains offline. But thousands of fans -- including Metallica's drummer Lars Ulrich -- are rallying behind the band. Day to Day technology correspondent Xeni Jardin reports.


vendredi, mars 11, 2005

i'm going back to tj, tj, tj

"Happy, you really need to be sluttier."
- Denisse to me and Allisonwhile driving home from Tijuana.

That's when the fun really began. We had attempted a game of European capitals (thanks, Slater), that was a total non-starter, but gave up altogether after this exchange:
Happy: "Amsterdam?"
Allison: "The Netherlands."
Happy: "Athens?"
Allison, Denisse: "Greece."
Happy: "Brussels?"
Denisse: "Sprouts!"
Happy: "Bern?"
Allison: "Victim!"

We were talking about burn victims and brussel sprouts because Denisse, Allison, and I headed to Tijuana today to represent our employer at a binational trade treaty signing. While there, I got to meet bigwigs (Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante, etc.) and to dust off my espanol. We had a lovely meal and good wine and the Mayor of Tijuana even kissed our cheeks as we shook hands and said goodbye. Then, things got interesting.

Allison (being the vivacious gorgeous blonde she is) got a lot of attention from the Latino men. The men were taken aback (as they usually are) that I -- the white girl -- speak Spanish and was picking up on everything they were saying. We ended up meeting Adrian, a 23-year-old Mexican pretty boy millionaire (he didn't bring it up, Denisse did). Now Allison wants to go back and take him up on his offer to show us the Tijuana that only locals know. We said "adios" and headed north, sped through the fastest border ID check ever, and made our way to the Yard House for happy hour.

After Denisse's revelation, we spent a few hours talking over drinks and appetizers about how, exactly, I might go about accomplishing that. And I'm just going to put it out there and say that I'm down with being a lot less tightly wound.

mercredi, mars 09, 2005


"Le coeur de l'homme est comme un oiseau fermé dans une cage.
Quand tu danses, le coeur chante, et puis il monte au ciel."

"A man's heart is like a caged bird.
When you dance, the heart sings and then it climbs to the heavens."
-Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, 1960 - , French playwright and screenwriter

monsieur ibrahim

Monsieur Ibrahim is now one of my favorite French films. The story, music, cars, and setting were wonderful in this period piece filled with honest sentiment (without becoming maudlin). I recommended this to my friend Greg (a secure, rugby-playing straight man who is my new litmus test for whether a film is hokey) and he enjoyed it. We compared notes later and both realized that we understood about 90% of the French without using the subtitles. My last conclusion (which I assume Greg doesn't share, but that his wife agrees with because she said as much) is that Pierre Boulanger (who plays the teenage Momo) is one beautiful boy.
Vividly portraying a 1960s Paris neighborhood where lower-class status unites residents of varied religious and ethnic backgrounds, Monsieur Ibrahim follows the universally appealing story of a young boy's coming of age. Moses (Pierre Boulanger), a Jewish teenager, lives in an apartment with his depressed father. His father's detachment leaves Moses with ample time for listening to rock music, pursuing alluring prostitutes, and making daily visits to the corner grocery where he befriends the owner, Monsieur Ibrahim (Omar Sharif). Monsieur Ibrahim looks the other way when Moses steals food, teaches him the difference between being Arab and being Muslim, and dispenses advice on life, love, and happiness. When Moses' father eventually abandons him, Monsieur Ibrahim adopts him and cements the father-son bond that each of them desperately needs.

Though never the focus of the film, the exploration of religion and ethnicity underscores French attitudes toward immigrants in that era, and establishes differences between the main characters. Moses' openness to learning about Monsieur Ibrahim's Sufi practices and studying the Koran reflects not only the blending of cultures in 20th-century France, but also the boy's yearning for parental direction, values, and affection. A brilliant cast--including a thoughtful performance by Sharif--and a period-perfect soundtrack of American and French rock music, enhance the already compelling story.

mardi, mars 08, 2005

scary shiznit

Dick Cheney, on black velvet. Pacemaker, hidden SS medals and colostomy bag sold separately.


"As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

-- H.L. Mencken, 1920

a moment of css-inspired zen

The zen garden would've been awfully handy to know about 18 hours ago.

That's because I made a presentation today where I had to demonstrate how to separate content from design.


but do they stop and ask for directions?

Gay men read maps like women
Gay men employ the same strategies for navigating as women - using landmarks to find their way around - a new study suggests.

But they also use the strategies typically used by straight men, such as using compass directions and distances. In contrast, gay women read maps just like straight women, reveals the study of 80 heterosexual and homosexual men and women.

"Gay men adopt male and female strategies. Therefore their brains are a sexual mosaic," explains Qazi Rahman, a psychobiologist who led the study at the University of East London, UK. "It's not simply that lesbians have men's brains and gay men have women's brains."

the dude abides

I've come to the conclusion that there are two kinds of people in the world: Those who love "The Big Lebowski" and those who do not understand "The Big Lebowski. "

Those of you not into brevity, read on: Buddhism and Dudism: Long lost twins?
Via Wacky Neighbor

lundi, mars 07, 2005

toxic beauty

USA Today adHealth-Conscious Teens Toss Make-Up
Concerns about toxicity in cosmetics have some teens campaigning to change the industry. In the meantime, their message is: wear less makeup, read labels, and toss questionable products.

Young women in California and Montana are taking on the $35 billion cosmetics industry one eyeliner at a time.

Their national campaign to promote safe cosmetics is applying idealism and energy to educate girls – and boys – about phthalates, which health advocates warn are carcinogenic, and other toxins in nail polish, shampoos, hair dyes and facial cleansers.

Find out if the products you use are safe (and safe alternatives) at:


Via AlterNet

hasselhoffian recursion

This is what happens when people watch Baywatch stoned.
Via Wacky Neighbor

when you really need that briscoe fix

We used to call A&E the "Law & Order channel. " Now, no channel is safe.
When Law and Order is on. All flavors, all channels.
Via Wacky Neighbor

dimanche, mars 06, 2005

new york city 100 years ago

The Museum of the City of New York has a great online photographic exhibit.

Here's another, more recent, series: New York City through a pinhole camera.
Via Wacky Neighbor

google maps, video and suggest in beta

Q: What will the clever people at Google think of next?

pass the tp

Read these fun facts about toilet paper, including a timeline of important events in toilet paper history.
The flushing toilet was invented in 1596, not by Thomas Crapper as most people think, but by Sir John Harington. Harington, a British nobleman and godson of Queen Elizabeth I, invented a valve that when pulled would release water from a water closet. Sir John recommended flushing the toilet once or twice a day, although with our modern technology, we know that is probably not sufficient.
Via Wacky Neighbor

samedi, mars 05, 2005

gay penguins

Nature vs. nurture at its finest, courtesy of PlanetOut:
Outrage from gay and lesbian groups and -- apparently -- the strength of animal amore, have thwarted a German zoo's plans to break up three gay penguin couples. After six male penguins resisted all efforts to mate with, or even relate to, female penguins, keepers at the zoo in Bremerhaven -- a town in Bremen, Germany -- decided to let them stay gay.

we're number 49

America by the numbers makes a few interesting statements. The short of it:

• Twenty percent of Americans think the sun orbits the earth. Seventeen percent believe the earth revolves around the sun once a day
• The leading cause of death of pregnant women in this country is murder
• Forty-three percent of Americans think torture is sometimes justified
• Women are 70 percent more likely to die in childbirth in America than in Europe
• Lack of health insurance coverage causes 18,000 unnecessary American deaths a year. (That's six times the number of people killed on 9/11.)
Via PlanetDan

No. 1?

by Michael Ventura
February 23, 2005

No concept lies more firmly embedded in our national character than the notion that the USA is "No. 1," "the greatest." Our broadcast media are, in essence, continuous advertisements for the brand name "America Is No. 1." Any office seeker saying otherwise would be committing political suicide. In fact, anyone saying otherwise will be labeled "un-American." We're an "empire," ain't we? Sure we are. An empire without a manufacturing base. An empire that must borrow $2 billion a day from its competitors in order to function. Yet the delusion is ineradicable. We're No. 1. Well...this is the country you really live in:

  • The United States is 49th in the world in literacy (the New York Times, Dec. 12, 2004).
  • The United States ranked 28th out of 40 countries in mathematical literacy (NYT, Dec. 12, 2004).
  • Twenty percent of Americans think the sun orbits the earth. Seventeen percent believe the earth revolves around the sun once a day (The Week, Jan. 7, 2005).
  • "The International Adult Literacy Survey...found that Americans with less than nine years of education 'score worse than virtually all of the other countries'" (Jeremy Rifkin's superbly documented book The European Dream: How Europe's Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream, p.78).
  • Our workers are so ignorant and lack so many basic skills that American businesses spend $30 billion a year on remedial training (NYT, Dec. 12, 2004). No wonder they relocate elsewhere!
  • "The European Union leads the U.S. in...the number of science and engineering graduates; public research and development (R&D) expenditures; and new capital raised" (The European Dream, p.70).
  • "Europe surpassed the United States in the mid-1990s as the largest producer of scientific literature" (The European Dream, p.70).
  • Nevertheless, Congress cut funds to the National Science Foundation. The agency will issue 1,000 fewer research grants this year (NYT, Dec. 21, 2004).
  • Foreign applications to U.S. grad schools declined 28 percent last year. Foreign student enrollment on all levels fell for the first time in three decades, but increased greatly in Europe and China. Last year Chinese grad-school graduates in the U.S. dropped 56 percent, Indians 51 percent, South Koreans 28 percent (NYT, Dec. 21, 2004). We're not the place to be anymore.
  • The World Health Organization "ranked the countries of the world in terms of overall health performance, and the U.S. [was]...37th." In the fairness of health care, we're 54th. "The irony is that the United States spends more per capita for health care than any other nation in the world" (The European Dream, pp.79-80). Pay more, get lots, lots less.
  • "The U.S. and South Africa are the only two developed countries in the world that do not provide health care for all their citizens" (The European Dream, p.80). Excuse me, but since when is South Africa a "developed" country? Anyway, that's the company we're keeping.
  • Lack of health insurance coverage causes 18,000 unnecessary American deaths a year. (That's six times the number of people killed on 9/11.) (NYT, Jan. 12, 2005.)
  • "U.S. childhood poverty now ranks 22nd, or second to last, among the developed nations. Only Mexico scores lower" (The European Dream, p.81). Been to Mexico lately? Does it look "developed" to you? Yet it's the only "developed" country to score lower in childhood poverty.
  • Twelve million American families--more than 10 percent of all U.S. households--"continue to struggle, and not always successfully, to feed themselves." Families that "had members who actually went hungry at some point last year" numbered 3.9 million (NYT, Nov. 22, 2004).
  • The United States is 41st in the world in infant mortality. Cuba scores higher (NYT, Jan. 12, 2005).
  • Women are 70 percent more likely to die in childbirth in America than in Europe (NYT, Jan. 12, 2005).
  • The leading cause of death of pregnant women in this country is murder (CNN, Dec. 14, 2004).
  • "Of the 20 most developed countries in the world, the U.S. was dead last in the growth rate of total compensation to its workforce in the 1980s.... In the 1990s, the U.S. average compensation growth rate grew only slightly, at an annual rate of about 0.1 percent" (The European Dream, p.39). Yet Americans work longer hours per year than any other industrialized country, and get less vacation time.
  • "Sixty-one of the 140 biggest companies on the Global Fortune 500 rankings are European, while only 50 are U.S. companies" (The European Dream, p.66). "In a recent survey of the world's 50 best companies, conducted by Global Finance, all but one were European" (The European Dream, p.69).
  • "Fourteen of the 20 largest commercial banks in the world today are European.... In the chemical industry, the European company BASF is the world's leader, and three of the top six players are European. In engineering and construction, three of the top five companies are European.... The two others are Japanese. Not a single American engineering and construction company is included among the world's top nine competitors. In food and consumer products, Nestlé and Unilever, two European giants, rank first and second, respectively, in the world. In the food and drugstore retail trade, two European companies...are first and second, and European companies make up five of the top ten. Only four U.S. companies are on the list" (The European Dream, p.68).
  • The United States has lost 1.3 million jobs to China in the last decade (CNN, Jan. 12, 2005).
  • U.S. employers eliminated 1 million jobs in 2004 (The Week, Jan. 14, 2005).
  • Three million six hundred thousand Americans ran out of unemployment insurance last year; 1.8 million--one in five--unemployed workers are jobless for more than six months (NYT, Jan. 9, 2005).
  • Japan, China, Taiwan, and South Korea hold 40 percent of our government debt. (That's why we talk nice to them.) "By helping keep mortgage rates from rising, China has come to play an enormous and little-noticed role in sustaining the American housing boom" (NYT, Dec. 4, 2004). Read that twice. We owe our housing boom to China, because they want us to keep buying all that stuff they manufacture.
  • Sometime in the next 10 years Brazil will probably pass the U.S. as the world's largest agricultural producer. Brazil is now the world's largest exporter of chickens, orange juice, sugar, coffee, and tobacco. Last year, Brazil passed the U.S. as the world's largest beef producer. (Hear that, you poor deluded cowboys?) As a result, while we bear record trade deficits, Brazil boasts a $30 billion trade surplus (NYT, Dec. 12, 2004).
  • As of last June, the U.S. imported more food than it exported (NYT, Dec. 12, 2004).
  • Bush: 62,027,582 votes. Kerry: 59,026,003 votes. Number of eligible voters who didn't show up: 79,279,000 (NYT, Dec. 26, 2004). That's more than a third. Way more. If more than a third of Iraqis don't show for their election, no country in the world will think that election legitimate.
  • One-third of all U.S. children are born out of wedlock. One-half of all U.S. children will live in a one-parent house (CNN, Dec. 10, 2004).
  • "Americans are now spending more money on gambling than on movies, videos, DVDs, music, and books combined" (The European Dream, p.28).
  • "Nearly one out of four Americans [believe] that using violence to get what they want is acceptable" (The European Dream, p.32).
  • Forty-three percent of Americans think torture is sometimes justified, according to a PEW Poll (Associated Press, Aug. 19, 2004).
  • "Nearly 900,000 children were abused or neglected in 2002, the last year for which such data are available" (USA Today, Dec. 21, 2004).
  • "The International Association of Chiefs of Police said that cuts by the [Bush] administration in federal aid to local police agencies have left the nation more vulnerable than ever" (USA Today, Nov. 17, 2004).

No. 1? In most important categories we're not even in the Top 10 anymore. Not even close.

The USA is "No. 1" in nothing but weaponry, consumer spending, debt, and delusion.

Reprinted from the Austin Chronicle.

a colorful past

When I think of old photos, I think of them as being in black and white. But color photography has been around for a long time. Take a look at this site, from 1911 Russia.


vendredi, mars 04, 2005

you have got to be kidding

Mistaken U.S. attack wounds Italian journalist
Italian agent killed when troops open fire on car
MSNBC News Services
Updated: 10:18 p.m. ET March 4, 2005

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena survived a month of captivity and horror at the hands of Iraqi insurgents, but little could she imagine the terror that lay just ahead: A shrapnel wound when American troops opened fire on the speeding car carrying her to freedom.

One of the Italian intelligence agents who negotiated her release Friday was killed as he threw his body across her when the shooting started.

a personal milestone

Today, I celebrated 18 months of being kidney cancer-free.

It's a beautiful feeling.

jeudi, mars 03, 2005

the party of less government

This post is lifted wholesale from Evan at The Thin Blue Line.

The party of less government wants the government to tell you who you can marry.
The party of less government wants the government to tell a woman what she can do with her own body.
The party of less government wants the government to force religion down your child's throat at school.
The party of less government wants the government to forbid you and your doctor from choosing to use medical marijuana when all other pain medication has failed.
The party of less government wants the government to tell families when they can and when they can not let a dying loved one die.
The party less government wants the government to have the ability to spy on you in the library.
The party of less government wants the government to have unlimited power to throw you in jail and throw away the key without due process.
The party of less government wants the government to be allowed to torture people who have brown skin- or white, if you are one of 'em whites who collaborates with brown people.
The party of less government wants the president to be able to pay journalists to make up news.
The party of less government wants the government to purge minority voters from voter rolls in Florida.
The party of less government wants the government to forbid you from suing corporations that have done you harm, no matter how grave the damage or reckless the act.
The party of less government wants the government to prevent you from buying medication from Canada.

Go figure.

bubba the lobster dies after trip to the zoo

Bubba, left, a 22-pound lobster pulled from the waters off Nantucket, Mass., is shown in a tank next to an average 1.5 pound lobster at Wholey's fish market in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, a day before he died at the Pittsburgh Zoo.

Yesterday, Kevin told me about Bubba, a 22-pound lobster estimated to be 50 years old. (Most lobsters weigh 1.5 pounds. ) PETA had even gotten involved, advocating that Bubba should be released back into the wild.

But here is today's sad ending:

Bubba the lobster dies after trip to the zoo
After years of dodging the boiling pot, 22-pounder done in by move

PITTSBURGH, Pa. - He spent decades dodging lobster pots, but in the end, Bubba was done in by a trip to the zoo.

The 22-pound lobster died yesterday at the Pittsburgh Zoo, about a day after he was moved there from a fish market. Bubba died in a quarantine area of the zoo’s aquarium, where he was being checked out to see if he was healthy enough to travel to a Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum.

Experts will examine Bubba to try to figure out why he died, but the owner of the fish market thinks it had to do with the stress of the move. Bob Wholey says lobsters are “very finicky.”

Bubba had spent about a week at Wholey’s Market after being caught off the coast of Massachusetts.

I wonder how they're disposing of the remains ...

mardi, mars 01, 2005

march is kidney cancer awareness month

Like most people, I had never heard of kidney cancer until I was told I had it at age 27. My only symptom was back pain.

Get educated:

Kidney cancer often manifests itself with painless urination of blood. However, blood in the urine can indicate other diseases besides kidney cancer, such as kidney stones. Often, blood in the urine will occur one day and not the next. Whenever it happens, a doctor should evaluate this symptom immediately.

Other common symptoms of kidney cancer include the presence of an abdominal mass or hard lump and/or back pain. Kidney cancer occurs most often in men over the age of 40. Since back pain is common among people over 40 years of age, such pain is often ignored. Kidney cancer often goes undiagnosed or is mis-diagnosed until it has spread (metastasized). As a result, 15-25% of kidney cancer patients have metastatic disease at time of diagnosis.

Renal cell carcinoma symptoms
Symptom Patients
Blood in the urine 59%
Abdominal mass 45%
Back or flank pain 41%
Weight loss 28%
Low blood counts (anemia) 21%
Tumor calcification on x-ray 13%
Symptoms of metastases 10%
Fever 9%
High calcium in blood 7%
High blood counts 7%

Source: D.F. Paulson, C.A. Perez, T. Anderson, in V.T. DeVita, S. Hellman, S.A. Rosenberg, editors, Principles of Oncology, 2nd Edition, Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1987, Volume 1, Chapter 27, page 896.