mardi, mai 31, 2005

deep throat is alive and living in santa rosa

The biggest leaker of all time, the man called “Deep Throat” by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward in their reports in the Washington Post, has opted to go public with his identity.
Over the years, lots of effort has been poured into trying to figure out who Deep Throat was, most notably that of the University of Illinois School of Journalism, which determined that Fred Fielding was Deep Throat. But today, Vanity Fair has an exclusive article revealing that W. Mark Felt, former number two guy at the FBI, was Bernstein and Woodward’s source for those exclusive articles about Watergate that eventually spelled the end for the paranoid Nixon Whitehouse, and which catapulted the Washington Post onto the national scene.
Via Hilstah

building a life together

Sandra has gone and done it. She's up and become a blogger. And she's written the most beautiful note to Bob on their thirtieth anniversary.

Given her talent for writing, I expect that her site, Younger Yarns, is a place that I'll visit often.

lundi, mai 30, 2005

you can't make this stuff up

That's right. Paris is marrying Paris.
Paris Hilton engaged Husband-to-be identified as Greek shipping heir

LOS ANGELES - Hotel heiress and “The Simple Life” reality TV star Paris Hilton is engaged to her boyfriend, Greek shipping heir Paris Latsis, her spokesman said Monday.


Eric Conveys An Emotion rocks.
The concept here is simple, this is a humor-oriented interactive website. You request an emotion (or reasonable facsimile), and I will try and act it out for you. The frame on the left shows the currently filled emotions. The list in the right frame shows requests that are waiting to be filled. Sure, so some of these may not be emotions per se, we're just having fun here. So what are you waiting for?
Eric Conveys: Magic trick gone horribly wrong
Eric Conveys: Magic trick gone horribly wrong --- click to make tasha's ears bleed

Eric Conveys: Lucy pulls the football away
Lucy pulls the football away

Via miriku

don't try this at home

Ewan McGregor and Hayden ChristensenApparently, the force really is strong with those weak of mind: Two Star Wars fans are in a critical condition in hospital after apparently trying to make light sabres by filling fluorescent light tubes with petrol.

A man, aged 20, and a girl of 17 are believed to have been filming a mock duel when they poured fuel into two glass tubes and lit it.

The pair were rushed to hospital after one of the devices exploded in woodland at Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire.

A third person present at the incident had been questioned, police said.

A videotape was found nearby by police called to the scene on Sunday. A police spokeswoman said the pair were taken to West Herts Hospital before being transferred to the specialist burns unit at Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford, in Essex. They are both said to be in a critical condition.

She said the 17-year-old girl and a 20-year-old man from Hemel Hempstead suffered serious injuries.

She added: "At this stage we are unable to confirm the exact circumstances, but glass tubes and traces of accelerant (flammable substance) were found at the scene."


france overwhelmingly rejects EU constitution

Supporters of the "No" vote celebrating in ParisShocking, but true: Europeans aren't so united after all.
French voters rejected the European Union’s first constitution Sunday, a stinging repudiation of President Jacques Chirac’s leadership and the ambitious, decades-long effort to further unite the continent.

All 25 EU members must ratify the text for it to take effect as planned by Nov. 1, 2006. Nine already have done so: Austria, Hungary, Italy, Germany, Greece, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.

riddle me this

After a lovely meal at D and Ophy's tonight, Healy and I proceeded to interrogate Jani about all things Finnish. Later on, he asked a question that just seemed to sum up the state of humanity quite nicely:

Why is it that we can put a man on the moon but we can't put aluminum foil in the microwave?

dimanche, mai 29, 2005

the cemetary with mark

My photo homie Mark and I met for coffee and then headed out to Fort Rosecrans to take some photos while the cemetary is all festooned with flags for Memorial Day. I learned a few things, including:
  1. Spouses and children are eligible for burial in military cemetaries.
  2. People put very interesting epitaphs on military headstones, too.
  3. There are lots of religious and other symbols on the headstones, but I wasn't able to find any that were marked with a symbol of Islam.

laying odds

While at Sabbat with Aaron, Laura, Brandon, Edgar and Carly last night, Aaron and Laura dispensed love advice. I'm not sure if a friendly wager was actually made on the probability of me using the advice, but it was a fun discussion nonetheless.

vendredi, mai 27, 2005


I had dinner at Laura and Aaron's new place tonight. Afterwards, we watched a documentary and I was introduced to the whole weird, wacky, and sometimes pathetic Scrabble tournament subculture while watching "Word Wars" with Aaron, Becky, and Laura.

I also learned several new words, including the verb and noun, tup.

And that "mas tequila" is an anagram of "que lastima."

jeudi, mai 26, 2005


Originally uploaded by happya.
They may look sweet and innocent, but they really are a wild bunch.

Thanks for helping me celebrate two big things: Turning 30 and buying my first condo.

is that even a box?

Susan: "How old is he?"
Happy: "I don't know. I'm not good with people's ages. If I had to guess, I'd say he's somewhere between 18 and 35."

Susan: "Is that even a box? It goes 18-24, 25-35 ..."

always carry your camera

the bridesmaids and the dog

You never know when you're going to get lucky, like Betina did with this one.
Via flickrblog

mercredi, mai 25, 2005

the man who wasn't there

After screwing up the courage to ask the lanky, artsy, indie-rock-but-I-bathe-looking guy with the cool glasses in Wickline's photo 100 class out for coffee on the last night of class, he wasn't there tonight. I don't want to get all Desperately Seeking Susan/ craigslisty (exhibit a , exhibit b) about this or anything, but I'd like to know his name. And what sort of photographs he takes.

It's only fair, given that he must already know something about me after seeing my pictures.

Instead, I'm left with the one exchange we had last Monday:
Me: "Umm, your backpack is open."
You: "Umm, thanks."


halfway there

I stepped off the scale this morning and saw that I've lost half of the weight I vowed (last Christmas) to lose.

The weight's just one indicator of my well-being. But judging from the weight loss, my muscle strength, energy levels and whatnot, I'd say that life is good right about now.

Next month, I head to the doctor for a full post-cancer workup and to see how my lifestyle change (diet and exercise) is affecting my bloodwork, etc.

mardi, mai 24, 2005


Nothing motivates me like a deadline.

The fact that I have a portfolio due in my photography class tomorrow means that I have actually — stop the presses — put some images online from my two trips to France last year.

See the aforementioned twelve black and white photos for my final project.

The rest are coming eventually. I swear.

Update: 05/31/2005 There are now more of my photos online.

steve mccurry at mopa

Steve McCurry: Photographs of Asia will be at the San Diego Museum of Photographic Arts from May 29 - September 25, 2005. I'm planning to hit MOPA on the *free* second Tuesday of the month on June 14 (before 5 p.m.) Feel free to join me.
Documentary photographer Steve McCurry roams the world from Cambodia to Kashmir to Iraq, capturing legendary images that have won him the highest international awards. He is famous for his mesmerizing "Afghan Girl" (1984 ), portrait of a young refugee that appeared on National Geographic's cover in 1985. This exhibition of more than 60 elegant McCurry images provides a window into the lives of people and places many in the West know little about. MoPA is proud to present the work of this Robert Capa Gold Medal Winner for Best Photographic Reporting from Abroad.
Update: 05/27/2005 Several of you have mentioned the story about how they tracked down the Afghan girl. Here it is, for those of you who don't know it.

lundi, mai 23, 2005

la pareja perfecta

Chad and Denisse came back from Ixtapa with a big fish story. They also got engaged. And that's no fish tale.

the other bush should be president

I like Laura Bush. She's no Hillary Clinton (who happens to be one of my heroes), but she does make an effort to do the right thing. During her latest visit to the Middle East, she spoke out strongly in favor of women's rights: "Freedom, especially freedom for women, is more than the absence of oppression," she said. "It's the right to speak and vote and worship freely. Human rights requires the rights of women."

I was also impressed to learn what she did and said at the Holocaust History Museum at Yad Vashem, where she laid a wreath to the dead and wrote in the visitors book: "Each life is precious," adding: "We commit ourselves to reject hatred and to teach tolerance and live in peace."

She really would be a much better President than her husband.

dimanche, mai 22, 2005

smart computing

It's kinda creepy when life imitates an Alias plotline.
Death could become a thing of the past by the mid-21st century as computer technology becomes sophisticated enough for the contents of a brain to be "downloaded" on to a supercomputer, according to a leading British futurologist.
But I do like the thought of airplanes being more afraid of crashing than the people on them.
Among other eyebrow-raising predictions by Ian Pearson, head of the futurology unit at British telecommunications giant BT, is the prospect of computer systems being able to feel emotions.

This could eventually involve such things as aeroplanes being programmed to be even more terrified of crashing than their passengers, meaning they would do whatever possible to stay airborne.

church money used to buy porn online

I've been the victim of identity theft and it's no picnic. But I couldn't help but laugh at this case: Man Accused Of Buying Porn With Church Money
DALTON, Ga. (AP) A Chatsworth man has been charged with using a church's banking information to buy Internet porn.

Robbie Lee Ritchie was indicted Thursday by a Murray County grand jury on 12 counts of financial identity fraud.

Authorities say Ritchie used a bank account number belonging to Central Church of Christ in Dalton to access pornography Web sites numerous times last summer.

Ritchie was in the Murray County Jail yesterday on a 25-thousand-dollar bond. The church did NOT respond to questions from The Daily Citizen newspaper in Dalton.

It was unclear whether Ritchie is a member of the church.

If convicted, Ritchie could face one to ten years in prison on each count and a fine up to 100-thousand-dollars.

still photographable

Plan to Ban Photography in Subways Abandoned
A proposal to ban photography on the city's subways to deter surveillance by terrorists has been nixed by police and transit officials.

A year after plans were introduced to forbid photography, videotaping and filming in subway stations, police and transit officials said a ban is not needed to secure the nation's largest mass transit system.

samedi, mai 21, 2005

don't get dooced

Blogging rule #101: Don't write about your job on your Web site. You could get dooced.

After sharing this advice with someone else, I finally got around to sanitizing my own blog and removing specific references to my employer.

Dooce, as defined by

special delivery

It turns out that mon amie moriseylvr has been so wronged by the man, er, woman, that she's opted to start blogging.

*Sniff* They grow up so fast.

paging darth Wader

While surfing PlanetDan, I came upon this post, about a new Washington Post article that claims Revenge of the Sith is actually just a disguised metaphor for the Bush Vader Administration and the Iraqi quagmire.
Wookies don't belong in Iraqi quagmires. Some people are even saying that this movie is what will finally make the movie-going masses second-guess their beloved Bush by comparing him with a certain black-helmeted evil. I'll be embarrassed if the wake-up call that America finally responds to comes from a Star Wars movie. But whatever works, I guess. Someone else said it better on another site when they said: I've pretty much always heard the Imperial March in my head whenever I saw Bush walking [anyway]. Which is pretty funny if you can hear that song in your head so clearly like I can.
Lucas acknowledges that he wrote the film more than 30 years ago, in response to another tyrannical GOP leader waging an unwinnable war:
[Lucas] said he first wrote the framework of Star Wars in 1971 when reacting to then U.S. President Richard Nixon and the on-going events of the Vietnam War. But the story still has relevance today, he said, and is part of a pattern he has noticed in his readings of history.
Via PlanetDan

vendredi, mai 20, 2005

must. stay. focused.

I participated in a focus group for a market researcher tonight. It paid well and was on a fun topic: bodywash. It took an interesting turn when all eight 28-32 year-old women pulled a sociological smackdown on the facilitator. When reacting to images for the ad campaign, the woman two seats down from me even went so far as to say "those images are too blatant and offensive. They are about men wanting a (sexual) woman who looks like a (young) girl."

Here are a few other things I learned in the group:
A major player in the bodywash industry (I'd rather not post the name online, but I'll tell you who it is if you ask) is looking to overhaul its image and move into selling a product that speaks to my generation. (In many ways, I'm their target demographic.) The message: bodywash isn't about getting clean. It's about sensuality, seduction, and romance.

While in the group brainstorm, I came to a clearer understanding of how each concept plays into feeling sexy:
  • Sensuality is about feelings and, essentially, about oneself
  • Seduction is about sex and power/ control
  • Romance is about love and sharing

the evolutionary function of women's orgasms

A friend of mine celebrated a birthday recently. When I asked her how her day was going that morning, she replied: "Great. My husband sent me a story about the evolutionary function of women's orgasms this morning."

Here it is, because inquiring minds want to know.
A Critic Takes On the Logic of Female Orgasm
Evolutionary scientists have never had difficulty explaining the male orgasm, closely tied as it is to reproduction.

But the Darwinian logic behind the female orgasm has remained elusive. Women can have sexual intercourse and even become pregnant - doing their part for the perpetuation of the species - without experiencing orgasm. So what is its evolutionary purpose?

Over the last four decades, scientists have come up with a variety of theories, arguing, for example, that orgasm encourages women to have sex and, therefore, reproduce or that it leads women to favor stronger and healthier men, maximizing their offspring's chances of survival.

But in a new book, Dr. Elisabeth A. Lloyd, a philosopher of science and professor of biology at Indiana University, takes on 20 leading theories and finds them wanting. The female orgasm, she argues in the book, "The Case of the Female Orgasm: Bias in the Science of Evolution," has no evolutionary function at all.

Rather, Dr. Lloyd says the most convincing theory is one put forward in 1979 by Dr. Donald Symons, an anthropologist.

That theory holds that female orgasms are simply artifacts - a byproduct of the parallel development of male and female embryos in the first eight or nine weeks of life.

In that early period, the nerve and tissue pathways are laid down for various reflexes, including the orgasm, Dr. Lloyd said. As development progresses, male hormones saturate the embryo, and sexuality is defined.

In boys, the penis develops, along with the potential to have orgasms and ejaculate, while "females get the nerve pathways for orgasm by initially having the same body plan."

Nipples in men are similarly vestigial, Dr. Lloyd pointed out.

While nipples in woman serve a purpose, male nipples appear to be simply left over from the initial stage of embryonic development.

The female orgasm, she said, "is for fun."

Dr. Lloyd said scientists had insisted on finding an evolutionary function for female orgasm in humans either because they were invested in believing that women's sexuality must exactly parallel that of men or because they were convinced that all traits had to be "adaptations," that is, serve an evolutionary function.

Theories of female orgasm are significant, she added, because "men's expectations about women's normal sexuality, about how women should perform, are built around these notions."

"And men are the ones who reflect back immediately to the woman whether or not she is adequate sexually," Dr. Lloyd continued.

Central to her thesis is the fact that women do not routinely have orgasms during sexual intercourse.

She analyzed 32 studies, conducted over 74 years, of the frequency of female orgasm during intercourse.

When intercourse was "unassisted," that is not accompanied by stimulation of the clitoris, just a quarter of the women studied experienced orgasms often or very often during intercourse, she found.

Five to 10 percent never had orgasms. Yet many of the women became pregnant.

Dr. Lloyd's figures are lower than those of Dr. Alfred A. Kinsey, who in his 1953 book "Sexual Behavior in the Human Female" found that 39 to 47 percent of women reported that they always, or almost always, had orgasm during intercourse.

But Kinsey, Dr. Lloyd said, included orgasms assisted by clitoral stimulation.

Dr. Lloyd said there was no doubt in her mind that the clitoris was an evolutionary adaptation, selected to create excitement, leading to sexual intercourse and then reproduction.

But, "without a link to fertility or reproduction," Dr. Lloyd said, "orgasm cannot be an adaptation."

Not everyone agrees. For example, Dr. John Alcock, a professor of biology at Arizona State University, criticized an earlier version of Dr. Lloyd's thesis, discussed in in a 1987 article by Stephen Jay Gould in the magazine Natural History.

In a phone interview, Dr. Alcock said that he had not read her new book, but that he still maintained the hypothesis that the fact that "orgasm doesn't occur every time a woman has intercourse is not evidence that it's not adaptive."

"I'm flabbergasted by the notion that orgasm has to happen every time to be adaptive," he added.

Dr. Alcock theorized that a woman might use orgasm "as an unconscious way to evaluate the quality of the male," his genetic fitness and, thus, how suitable he would be as a father for her offspring.

"Under those circumstances, you wouldn't expect her to have it every time," Dr. Alcock said.

Among the theories that Dr. Lloyd addresses in her book is one proposed in 1993, by Dr. R. Robin Baker and Dr. Mark A. Bellis, at Manchester University in England. In two papers published in the journal Animal Behaviour, they argued that female orgasm was a way of manipulating the retention of sperm by creating suction in the uterus. When a woman has an orgasm from one minute before the man ejaculates to 45 minutes after, she retains more sperm, they said.

Furthermore, they asserted, when a woman has intercourse with a man other than her regular sexual partner, she is more likely to have an orgasm in that prime time span and thus retain more sperm, presumably making conception more likely. They postulated that women seek other partners in an effort to obtain better genes for their offspring.

Dr. Lloyd said the Baker-Bellis argument was "fatally flawed because their sample size is too small."

"In one table," she said, "73 percent of the data is based on the experience of one person."

In an e-mail message recently, Dr. Baker wrote that his and Dr. Bellis's manuscript had "received intense peer review appraisal" before publication. Statisticians were among the reviewers, he said, and they noted that some sample sizes were small, "but considered that none of these were fatal to our paper."

Dr. Lloyd said that studies called into question the logic of such theories. Research by Dr. Ludwig Wildt and his colleagues at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany in 1998, for example, found that in a healthy woman the uterus undergoes peristaltic contractions throughout the day in the absence of sexual intercourse or orgasm. This casts doubt, Dr. Lloyd argues, on the idea that the contractions of orgasm somehow affect sperm retention.

Another hypothesis, proposed in 1995 by Dr. Randy Thornhill, a professor of biology at the University of New Mexico and two colleagues, held that women were more likely to have orgasms during intercourse with men with symmetrical physical features. On the basis of earlier studies of physical attraction, Dr. Thornhill argued that symmetry might be an indicator of genetic fitness.

Dr. Lloyd, however, said those conclusions were not viable because "they only cover a minority of women, 45 percent, who say they sometimes do, and sometimes don't, have orgasm during intercourse."

"It excludes women on either end of the spectrum," she said. "The 25 percent who say they almost always have orgasm in intercourse and the 30 percent who say they rarely or never do. And that last 30 percent includes the 10 percent who say they never have orgasm under any circumstances."

In a phone interview, Dr. Thornhill said that he had not read Dr. Lloyd's book but the fact that not all women have orgasms during intercourse supports his theory.

"There will be patterns in orgasm with preferred and not preferred men," he said.

Dr. Lloyd also criticized work by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, an emeritus professor of anthropology at the University of California, Davis, who studies primate behavior and female reproductive strategies.

Scientists have documented that orgasm occurs in some female primates; for other mammals, whether orgasm occurs remains an open question.

In the 1981 book "The Woman That Never Evolved" and in her other work, Dr. Hrdy argues that orgasm evolved in nonhuman primates as a way for the female to protect her offspring from the depredation of males.

She points out that langur monkeys have a high infant mortality rate, with 30 percent of deaths a result of babies' being killed by males who are not the fathers. Male langurs, she says, will not kill the babies of females they have mated with.

In macaques and chimpanzees, she said, females are conditioned by the pleasurable sensations of clitoral stimulation to keep copulating with multiple partners until they have an orgasm. Thus, males do not know which infants are theirs and which are not and do not attack them.

Dr. Hrdy also argues against the idea that female orgasm is an artifact of the early parallel development of male and female embryos.

"I'm convinced," she said, "that the selection of the clitoris is quite separate from that of the penis in males."

In critiquing Dr. Hrdy's view, Dr. Lloyd disputes the idea that longer periods of sexual intercourse lead to a higher incidence of orgasm, something that if it is true, may provide an evolutionary rationale for female orgasm.

But Dr. Hrdy said her work did not speak one way or another to the issue of female orgasm in humans. "My hypothesis is silent," she said.

One possibility, Dr. Hrdy said, is that orgasm in women may have been an adaptive trait in our prehuman ancestors.

"But we separated from our common primate ancestors about seven million years ago," she said.

"Perhaps the reason orgasm is so erratic is that it's phasing out," Dr. Hrdy said. "Our descendants on the starships may well wonder what all the fuss was about."

Western culture is suffused with images of women's sexuality, of women in the throes of orgasm during intercourse and seeming to reach heights of pleasure that are rare, if not impossible, for most women in everyday life.

"Accounts of our evolutionary past tell us how the various parts of our body should function," Dr. Lloyd said.

If women, she said, are told that it is "natural" to have orgasms every time they have intercourse and that orgasms will help make them pregnant, then they feel inadequate or inferior or abnormal when they do not achieve it.

"Getting the evolutionary story straight has potentially very large social and personal consequences for all women," Dr. Lloyd said. "And indirectly for men, as well."

revenge of the frith

Save the Republic!

This week, Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith opens in theaters nation-wide. And weirdly enough, the plot of what will undoubtedly be one of the biggest films in movie history revolves around a scheming senator who, seduced by visions of absolute power, transforms a democratic republic into an empire.

The movie’s opening buzz and its parallel theme to our current judicial fight present a great opportunity to educate the public — and have some fun. So we’ve put together a flyer that draws on themes from the Revenge of the Sith story to explain the very real threat to democracy posed by the nuclear option. Any chance you can take half an hour tonight or tomorrow to pass out some of these flyers to folks in line at your local theater? Just follow the simple directions below.

Via MoveOn.Org

jeudi, mai 19, 2005

taking a sith day?

If you took the day off work or school for, ahem, Revenge of the Sith today, the Geek Squad has excuse letters for you:
May 19, 2005

Dear Employer,

Please excuse from work on Thursday, May 19. is not feeling well. [FIRST NAME] is at home in bed for the entire day, nursing what appears to be a serious [FIRST NAME]'s illness is in no way, shape or form related to the premiere of , which, coincidentally, premieres on the same date.

While I cannot confirm nor deny that [FIRST NAME] has called my company, Geek Squad, asking to be set up with wireless access - in case of a - know that if you do receive an e-mail from your prized employee today, it is most likely because [HE/SHE] was wise enough to plan ahead in the event of illness.

But as I mentioned before, [FIRST NAME] is at home, safely in bed, but reachable (in dire emergencies) by e-mail or cell.

One more thing. Beginning at , [NAME] will be unreachable for about two hours, thirteen minutes and eleven seconds. [HE/SHE] will be feeling really bad at this time.

Robert Stephens
Geek Squad - Chief Inspector


what's your sign?

n. (2004) A revolutionary method for gaining self-knowledge by examining the
alignment of the pop music charts at the moment of your birth.
I was born in the year of Elton John and my birth song is B. J. Thomas' (Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song.

And I have to admit that although I was skeptical at first, this popstrology thing appears to be legit, at least in my case.
  • Exhibit A: I was born in the year of Elton John and most of my friends are gay. I am, in fact, the Chief Diva at HAGA (Happy A____'s Gay Army).
  • Exhibit B: I'm obsessed with social justice, or the documenting and fixing of cases where 'somebody done somebody wrong.'
Make of that what you will.
Via Susan G.

touching things up

Toastmasters speech (Your body speaks) originally given on May 19, 2005
Award: Best speaker

Don't touch me.
Keep in touch.
You're so touchy!
Real out and touch someone.
Put the finishing touches on something.
I found your story very touching.
Touch base with me before you leave.
You didn't touch your food.
The flowers had white petals touched with pink.

Our culture has its own vocabulary about touching. It's not what the words actually mean, it's their connotation that has so much power. The American Heritage(r) Dictionary lists 16 different meanings for the word "touch."

Language is a reflection of our interaction and our values and these sayings evoke very specific feelings precisely because they are about connection with one another. In this sense, I think the word "touch" means so many things because touch is critical to who we are as human beings. In the next few minutes, I'll explain how touch impacts us and how it means different things across cultures.

Touch symbolizes a great deal. It can be a loving gesture, a sign of affection. A lover's touch is electrifying. For some, the sense of touch is a primary way of interacting with the world. But touch can also be a very bad thing if it's done with too much force.

The Touch Research Institutes at the University of Miami in Florida study the effects of touch therapy. They are researching how massage affects everyone from newborns to senior citizens. They have found that massage

1. Helps premature babies gain weight faster
2. Reduces stress hormones
3. Alleviates depressive symptoms
4. Reduces pain
5. Improves immune function
6. Alters EEG in the direction of heightened awareness

I confess, I love a good massage. But I also know that I love being touched. Perhaps it's because I grew up in a very touchy-feely family. When I greet a friend, I usually touch that person, either with a hug, kiss, or handshake. I kiss my French friends hello and goodbye on the cheek three times. And just this week, a Mexican friend said goodbye by gently squeezing my forearm and saying "buenas noches." That got me thinking about how touch means different things across cultures.

Touch means different things across cultures
Bedouins touch noses together three times when greeting one another, as a sign of friendship and respect.

In India, you can apologize to someone by tapping their shoulder to get her attention and then tapping your forehead twice.

But in Thailand, you never want to tap someone on the shoulder, because it's rude to pat someone else's back.

And then there's the whole concept of personal space. In Europe and North America, it's generally considered rude if you stand closer than 8 inches to the person to whom you're speaking. There's a whole Seinfeld episode about "close talkers" and we get uncomfortable around close talkers, even if they are friends. The closer we get to touching, the more intimate we are with the person.

But in the Middle East and Asia, the concept of personal space is very different. Friends not only stand close together, they often touch while talking. It's not uncommon to see Arab men, even government officials and military officers, holding hands as they walk together or otherwise converse with one another.

And in China, there is often pushing and shoving in stores or on public transportation, but no apologies are offered or expected. It may be odd to us, but it's just how things are done there.

While doing research on touching across cultures, I found an odd news story. I know that this week's theme is "tall tales," but this is a bonafide news story that I came across a few days ago on

Stroke a chicken
Researchers at the National University of Singapore have developed a system that allows physical interaction over the internet. Right now, the technology is being used to stroke chickens. That's right. You can pet a chicken halfway around the world using this technology.

Here's how it works: You pet a hollow, chicken-shaped doll that has sensors inside. Those sensors use radio signals to send the information to a computer, which then sends the information to another computer on the internet. The second computer receives the data and triggers tiny motors in a lightweight jacket on the chicken. The chicken then feels your touch in the exact places the replica did.

"This is the first human-poultry interaction system ever developed," said professor Adrian David Cheok, the leader of the team, who has been developing the technology for nearly two years.

"We understand the perceived eccentricity of developing a system for humans to interact with poultry remotely, but this work has a much wider significance," he added.

At first I thought that what the scientists were doing was bizarre: What in the world would compel them to spend years of their lives working on a way for humans to pet a chicken remotely? But when I stop and think about it, these scientists aren't completely mad. Today, they are putting a vest on a chicken as a proof of concept. Two years from now, they hope to make it possible to hug someone thousands of miles away. And in the end, they are using technology to replicate the most basic form of human interaction -- the connection that happens when we touch someone else.

mardi, mai 17, 2005

talking with my hands

Hand Gestures Linked To Better Speaking

Can't find the right word? You might want to start moving your hands. New research at the University of Alberta suggests that gesturing while you talk may improve your access to language.

Mind & Brain

Dr. Elena Nicoladis and her research colleagues observed the hand gestures of bilingual children as they told the same story twice, first in one language and then the other. The researchers were surprised by what they saw.

"The children used gestures a lot more when telling the story in what they considered to be their stronger language," said Nicoladis, a psychologist at the U of A. "These results seemed counter-intuitive to us. We thought the children would be more inclined to use gestures to help them communicate in their weaker language."

Based on these results and the results of earlier studies, Nicoladis believes there is a connection between language and memory access and gesturing.

"What we think is going on here," Nicoladis said, "is that the very fact of moving your hands around helps you recall parts of the story--the gestures help you access memory and language so that you can tell more of the story."

"Initially, we thought gestures were related to meaning--that they meant something on their own. But now we believe they are more related to language," she added.

Nicoladis also pointed to another study she and her colleagues conducted that showed Chinese women who spoke English at a higher level than Chinese men also exhibited more hand gestures when talking English than the men did.

The researchers also have preliminary results to show that 8 to 10 year-old girls use more hand gestures and were able to retell more of the story of a cartoon they had just watched than their male coevals were able to. Nicoladis added that it is well-documented that girls develop language skills faster than boys.

She speculates that all of this knowledge may come in handy for people who have difficulty speaking, such as ESL students and some elderly people.

"If you're in a situation where it's important to get the language out and you're having difficulty, it may help to start making gestures," said Nicoladis, who conducts most of her research on hand gestures with Dr. Paula Marentette of the University of Alberta Augustana College.

"There's certainly a lot more work that needs to be done before we can understand everything about gestures and why we make them," Nicoladis added. "But the results so far have given us a lot to think about."

may the farm be with you

I rather enjoyed this parody.
Via Hilstah

my latest guilty pleasure

I watch about two hours of television a week. Which is only relevant because I'm about to catch up on at least one hour of taped tv.

I still watch Alias, despite the fact that it has gone way, way downhill this season. What can I say? Michael Vartan is one lovely guy and Kevin Weisman's character, chic geek Marshall Flinkman, is brilliantly written.

I've also gotten into Grey's Anatomy of late. It's not lost on me that my favorite sexpot doctor bears a striking physical resemblance to my ex when he was at the top of his game. Imagine my WTF?! when I thought the Patrick Dempsey character's name was Eric (my ex's name). For the record, his character is actually named Derek.

reggie is such a trendsetter

Reggie recently confessed that he ate sushi from a 7/11 last month. What's next: Sushi from a gas station?

But seriously — mad props to Reggie for getting his sweat on with Susan G. and me this morning. He's meeting me tomorrow morning, too. I guess that means I'm firmly back on the fitness wagon. Yee-effing-haw.

lundi, mai 16, 2005

profanity, special sauce, lettuce, cheese

I caught myself humming the "two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese" song today and realized that I never posted on the April McDonald's rap fiasco.

It turns out the marketing geniuses at McDonald's have opted to pay rap musicians who mention their products in songs, with the lyrics (of course) being subject to approval by McDo.

But the plan has backfired.
Well, McDonald’s was asking for it, and they got it: A group called Gatbustaz has released a hip-hop song laden with Big Mac references—and laden also with sex, violence and profanity. Some of the tamer lyrics to “McGangsta” include: “Kinda feel like a sesame seed bun/Don’t we all/Wait, let me get my gun/Let’s make a McDonald’s run.” Though Gatbustaz appears to be a kind of Weird Al Yankovic of hip-hop (and the song sounds like it’s from about 1985), the song, currently circulating around the Internet, is still infectiously catchy. We doubt they’ll be getting any checks in the mail from McDonald’s anytime soon.
Via Jeff W

dimanche, mai 15, 2005

trevor's other life as a hasher

Trevor told me he was a hasher Friday night. The San Diego crew describes itself as "a drinking club with a running problem."
The Hash House Harriers is an informal running club with a tradition of hare and hound races dating back to 1938. The club was formed by a group of British soldiers on Kuala Lumpur. After jungle runs the soldiers gathered at a nearby restaurant to eat corn beef hash and drink beer - hence the name Hash House Harriers. Corn beef is no longer part of the Hashing tradition, but beer drinking still is. If you are interested in finding out more about hashing, and about how much fun it can be, visit the San Diego Hash House Harriers.
If I liked running and beer, I would be all over this. Given that I don't care for either, I'm surprised that (two days later) I'm intrigued enough that I'm thinking seriously about taking up running and registering for the Red Dress Run. But I doubt I'll get my act together in time for this year's run.

Update: 05/27/2005 It turns out that JaFo is a red dress alum. Pictures to come...

gimme head

What do I have to do to get some head at work, too?

For the record, Rick— she works for a state agency in California. Just like we used to.
Via Ms.Bee'sKnees

bizarre sex habits of the extreme right-wing

I tend to think of fundamentalists as people with issues so difficult for them to control that they feel driven to exert control over others. Case in point: Neal Horsley's recent interview with Alan Colmes. Given that I didn't see it, I can't really discern if it was a joke gone too far or just what my friend Nolan refers to as a case of "inappropriate sharing."
Last night, anti-abortion extremist Neal Horsley was a guest on The Alan Colmes Show, a FOX News radio program. The topic was an interesting one - whether or not an internet service provider should allow Horsley to post the names of abortion doctors on his website. Horsley does that as a way of targeting them and one doctor has been killed. In the course of the interview, however, Colmes asked Horsley about his background, including a statement that he had admitted to engaging in homosexual and bestiality sex.

At first, Horsley laughed and said, "Just because it's printed in the media, people jump to believe it."

"Is it true?" Colmes asked.

"Hey, Alan, if you want to accuse me of having sex when I was a fool, I did everything that crossed my mind that looked like I..."

AC: "You had sex with animals?"
NH: "Absolutely. I was a fool. When you grow up on a farm in Georgia, your first girlfriend is a mule."
AC: "I'm not so sure that that is so."
NH: "You didn't grow up on a farm in Georgia, did you?"
AC: "Are you suggesting that everybody who grows up on a farm in Georgia has a mule as a girlfriend?"
NH: It has historically been the case. You people are so far removed from the reality... Welcome to domestic life on the farm..."

Colmes said he thought there were a lot of people in the audience who grew up on farms, are living on farms now, raising kids on farms and "and I don't think they are dating Elsie right now. You know what I'm saying?"

Horsley said, "You experiment with anything that moves when you are growing up sexually. You're naive. You know better than that... If it's warm and it's damp and it vibrates you might in fact have sex with it."

In addition to Horsley, Colmes has recently interviewed Randall Terry another radical anti-abortionist and anti-gay activist. In the middle of an otherwise serious interview, Terry began joking - apropos of nothing - that he and Colmes were ex-lovers.

Another extremist interviewed by Colmes not too long ago was Rev. Fred Phelps who stated on the show that he thought the death penalty should be given for those who engage in "sodomy." When Colmes asked Phelps if he had ever engaged in gay sex, Phelps blustered but never said no.

Hmm, I'm beginning to sense a pattern here. Come to think of it, Ann Coulter is reputed to have an unusually, er, wide-ranging sex life, too, though as far as I know it's just confined to men. Still, it doesn't exactly match the profile of an ultra-conservative.
Via Amber and the News Hounds

oh no he diiiin't

I had a sociology professor in college who was a black South African. He made the point that when he was growing up, he preferred the blatant discrimination of the Afrikaaners to the subtle discrimination of the British-descended whites. His point: At least you knew where you stood with the Afrikaaner.

I'm hoping that Vicente Fox's gaffe was due to a language barrier and not the legacy of a latin culture riddled with anti-black feelings. (I'm all too familiar with that, given my own bigoted Latina mother.) But even if it wasn't, at least it's clear where the man stands on race issues. Discrimination that's overt can be called what it is: ugly, misinformed, and unrealistic. Discrimination that's subtle is worse, because it takes even longer to overturn.
President said Mexicans take U.S. jobs ‘not even blacks want to do’
MEXICO CITY - President Vicente Fox came under criticism Saturday after saying Mexicans were willing to take jobs “that not even blacks want to do in the United States.”

Fox’s remark Friday came a day after Mexico announced it would formally protest recent U.S. immigration reforms, including the decision to extend walls along the border and make it harder for illegal migrants to get driver’s licenses.

“There’s no doubt that the Mexican men and women — full of dignity, willpower and a capacity for work — are doing the work that not even blacks want to do in the United States,” Fox told a meeting of the Texas-Mexico Frozen Food Council in the western city of Puerto Vallarta on Friday.

samedi, mai 14, 2005

a new counterterrorism strategy: feminism

Riddle me this: Why do we want 25% of elected and appointed officials to be female in government in Iraq, yet we're content with only 14% in our own Congress? And how is it that there will be universal healthcare in Iraq, but our own government won't support universal healthcare in this country? I find it a bit troubling that we're declaring these to be the cornerstones of a free and fair society in the rest of the world, but don't live up to these standards in our own democracy.

And while your knickers are in a twist over theses and other inequities, read Barbara Ehrenriech's novel theory — Rights and Liberties: A sustained and serious effort to gain human rights for women worldwide could be the start of a brand new approach to fighting terrorism. It's guaranteed to make you think. And to get your panties into an even bigger wad.
But as Carmen Bin Ladin urgently reminds us in her book Inside the Kingdom, one glaring moral flaw of this insurgency, quite apart from its methods, is that it aims to push one-half of those masses down to a status only slightly above that of domestic animals. While Osama was getting pumped up for jihad, Carmen was getting up her nerve to walk across the street in a residential neighborhood in Jeddah--fully-veiled but unescorted by a male, something that is an illegal act for a woman in Saudi Arabia. Eventually she left the kingdom and got a divorce because she didn't want her daughters to grow up in a place where women are kept "locked in and breeding."

So here in one word is my new counterterrorism strategy: feminism. Or, if that's too incendiary, try the phrase "human rights for women." I don't mean just a few opportunistic references to women, like those that accompanied the war on the Taliban and were quietly dropped by the Bush administration when that war was abandoned and Afghan women were locked back into their burqas. I'm talking about a sustained and serious effort.

We should announce plans to pour U.S. tax dollars into girls' education in places like Pakistan, where the high-end estimate for female literacy is 26 percent, and into scholarships for women seeking higher education in nations that typically discourage it. (Secular education for the boys wouldn't hurt, either.) Expand the grounds for asylum to all women fleeing gender totalitarianism, wherever it springs up. Reverse the Bush policies on global family planning, which condemn seventy-eight thousand women to death each year in makeshift abortions. Lead the global battle against the trafficking of women. I'm not expecting such measures alone to incite a feminist insurgency within the Islamist one. Carmen Bin Ladin found her rich Saudi sisters-in-law sunk in bovine passivity, and some of the more spirited young women in the Muslim world have been adopting the head scarf as a gesture of defiance toward American imperialism. We're going to need a thorough foreign policy makeover--from Afghanistan to Israel--before we have the credibility to stand up for anyone's human rights. You can't play the gender card with dirty hands.

If this country were to embrace a feminist strategy against the insurgency, we'd have to start by addressing our own dismal record on women's rights. We'd be pushing for the immediate ratification of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which has been ratified by 169 countries but remains stalled in the U.S. Senate. We'd be threatening to break off relations with Saudi Arabia until it acknowledged the humanity of women. And we'd be thundering about the shortage of women in the U.S. Senate and House, an internationally embarrassing 14 percent. We should be aiming for a representation of at least 25 percent, the same target the Transitional Administrative Law of Iraq has set for the federal assembly there.
Via AlterNet

vendredi, mai 13, 2005

how dry i am

Just in time for the Friday the 13th happy hour!

A resource for the tippling Web enthusiast: Droogle. Search for a drink name and up comes the cocktail. Plus, the liquor cabinet function allows you to go to war with the alcohol you have, not the alcohol you want.
Via Wacky Neighbor

quick $tarbucks question of the day

Aaron walks into my office this morning and says:

"What's the difference between a tall decaf and a tall iced decaf?"

"Other than the obvious physical difference?"

"Sixty cents. The iced one costs more."

mercredi, mai 11, 2005

le baiser de l’hôtel de ville sells for $242,000

I'm passionate about photography. This semester, I've spent one night a week in a darkroom and another night in a class where the professor spends 90% of the lecture telling war stories and the remaining 10% imparting useful information about photography. But I digress ...

Robert Doisneau is one of my favorite photographers. He was one of the most amazing documentary photographers ever. And, no, it doesn't bother me a bit that he staged some of the images, including the one at the right.

I came to his work through a poster of Le Baiser de l’Hôtel de Ville (The Kiss at City Hall) several years ago and have since fallen in love with an amazing body of work. I was lucky enough to see over one hundred of his original prints last year, right before heading to Paris for what would be the first of two trips to France in 2004.

Anyhow, while at my photography class tonight, I learned something interesting. The woman in this photograph sold her original print last month for the equivalent of U.S. $242,000.
Adieu to a famous kiss, hello £105,000

The woman who in 1950 posed for Robert Doisneau’s celebrated photograph of a couple kissing in Paris sold her signed print last night for £105,000 — seven times the auction house estimate.

Françoise Bornet, 78, who posed for the picture that became known as Le Baiser de l’Hôtel de Ville for Doisneau with a fellow drama student who was then her boyfriend, put her copy up for sale to raise funds for her husband to open a film production company. She had expected to make £15,000. The price paid by a Swiss collector who bid by phone reflects the power exerted by an image that has sold half a million posters in 20 years.

Bidding for the picture took off as soon as the auctioneer opened proceedings at £7,000. “The presence of the ‘lover of the Hôtel de Ville’ in the saleroom added to the magic,” said the auctioneer, Herve Poulain.

“We are really set up for the future now,” Mme Bornet said.

Doisneau took the picture on the Rue de Rivoli, by the City Hall, as part of a series on Paris for Life magazine. It was little known until 1984, when it was published as a poster.

Doisneau, who died in 1994, disclosed in 1992 that he had asked Mme Bornet and Jacques Carteaud to stage the kiss after seeing them cuddling in a café. Mme Bornet said: “He was probably trying to take a candid photo of lovers. But when he saw us he approached us and asked if we would agree to kiss again. We knew the photographer’s reputation and we leapt at the chance.”

a guide to the star wars galaxy

MSNBC has gone and created a cool guide to how all the characters fit into the saga that is Episodes I - VI.

mardi, mai 10, 2005

party time in moscow

Via theviewfrom103

stone the harlots

Women who fornicate deserve to die.

So say the religious nutjobs at the Family Research Council (FRC) . The message: It's better to let millions die rather than do anything that might lead to fornication, and cancer isn't all that bad if it keeps people chaste.

The facts:
  1. Cervical cancer kills lots of women each year worldwide.
  2. It is among the most deadly forms of cancer because it is usually detected at an advanced (and therefore untreatable) stage.
  3. It is caused by certain strains of the sexually transmitted Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).
  4. HPV has infected "half of all sexually active women between 18 and 22 in the US."
  5. There's now a vaccine to prevent HPV.
Deaths from cervical cancer could jump fourfold to a million a year by 2050, mainly in developing countries. This could be prevented by soon-to-be-approved vaccines against the virus that causes most cases of cervical cancer - but there are signs that opposition to the vaccines might lead to many preventable deaths.

In the US, for instance, religious groups are gearing up to oppose vaccination, despite a survey showing 80 per cent of parents favour vaccinating their daughters. “Abstinence is the best way to prevent HPV,” says Bridget Maher of the Family Research Council (FRC), a leading Christian lobby group that has made much of the fact that, because it can spread by skin contact, condoms are not as effective against HPV as they are against other viruses such as HIV.

“Giving the HPV vaccine to young women could be potentially harmful, because they may see it as a licence to engage in premarital sex,” Maher claims, though it is arguable how many young women have even heard of the virus.
You have got to be kidding.

Let me get this straight — apparently, getting cervical cancer is the least of your problems, because if you got it through fornication, you're going to hell anyhow. I guess the wages of sin really are death. But what about virgins or faithful women who get HPV from their no-good (but promiscuous) husbands? Do they deserve the same fate as the harlots who engaged in premarital sex?

And does the FRC oppose treatments for other STDs? Eugene Volokh observes:
The availability of antibiotic treatment for syphilis, gonorrhea, and other bacterial sexually transmitted diseases similarly decreases the cost of sex, and may thus increase people's tendency to engage in sex.

Would the FRC urge that people not be offered treatment for these diseases?

Personally, I'm a fan of both vaccines and premarital sex. I've had a lot of both over the years and I think I'm better for the experience.

If the Family Research Council opposes one or both, they should feel free to encourage people to avoid them But if they want to discourage the development and availability of vaccines because they'd rather see people live in fear of avoidable diseases, then they're not going to have much room to complain when people accuse them of wanting to turn back the clock -- and of being motivated more by opposition to sex than by support for families.
Via DDTB and Eugene Volokh

check yo'self before you wreck yo'self

The American Cancer Society just launched the Great American Health Check.

Take the check and in just five minutes, you'll get a confidential personalized health action plan to share with your doctor.

lundi, mai 09, 2005

lest we forget

Last week, supermom Susan G. recounted a conversation with her high-school age daughter, triggered by an MTV special on the Holocaust. Here are the lessons of the Holocaust as they apply to us today, distilled from that conversation with Dom:
1.) Bigotry is alive and well.
2.) Beware of leaders who seek to take away your freedom.

The "March of the Living" (part of Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorations) also admonishes us all to be mindful of what can happen when citizens hand over their freedoms.
Just months after the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, over 20,000 walked three kilometres (two miles) from the camp to Birkenau where prime ministers of Israel and Poland urged the world not to forget the death of 6 million Jews.

"We are saying - we are alive, we are a nation. There are so many people from around the world here, it is a guarantee this will not happen again. We have all survived the Holocaust," said Jenya Sonts, a Russian student walking with three Indian Jews.

Survivors, some of whom returned for the first time to their place of anguish after losing parents and siblings, came to the march with their own families.

"After the survivors die, this will become history. When it does, someone has to say, I was here, I spoke to a survivor, I touched one. This is the torch passed from the survivors to the next generations," the march's founder, Abraham Hirchson said.

dimanche, mai 08, 2005


"When it comes to solving many of the problems that face us in this world, I believe in girl power."
-Kofi Annan, 1938 - , UN Secretrary General and statesman, speaking at the International Women's Health Coalition benefit

samedi, mai 07, 2005


Via Engrish

fda restricts gay sperm donors

There are certain things I can't do because I've recently had cancer. Some are because I'm at higher risk for recurrence (I can't get life insurance right now or join the Peace Corps). Others are things I can't do because my health status could jeopardize someone else. The biggest of these is being a blood donor. I can't give blood for 7 years after my cancer diagnosis, because there's a chance that I could give my disease to someone else. And frankly, I think that is entirely reasonable.

But what the FDA is about to do is flat-out ridiculous. They've singled out gay male sperm donors, stating they have a higher risk of HIV, but are ignoring straight men who engage in risky sexual behaviors.
To the dismay of gay-rights activists, the Food and Drug Administration is about to implement new rules recommending that any man who has engaged in homosexual sex in the previous five years be barred from serving as an anonymous sperm donor.

The FDA has rejected calls to scrap the provision, insisting that gay men collectively pose a higher-than-average risk of carrying the AIDS virus. Critics accuse the FDA of stigmatizing all gay men rather than adopting a screening process that focuses on high-risk sexual behavior by any would-be donor, gay or straight.

"Under these rules, a heterosexual man who had unprotected sex with HIV-positive prostitutes would be OK as a donor one year later, but a gay man in a monogamous, safe-sex relationship is not OK unless he's been celibate for five years," said Leland Traiman, director of a clinic in Alameda, Calif., that seeks gay sperm donors.
Don't get me wrong -- I support restrictions on who can donate, but think that there are better ways to prevent the transmission of HIV and AIDS.
Traiman said adequate safety assurances can be provided by testing a sperm donor at the time of the initial donation, then freezing the sperm for a six-month quarantine and testing the donor again to be sure there is no new sign of HIV or other infectious diseases.
But I can't support a policy based on bigotry.
Via PlanetOut

vendredi, mai 06, 2005

epa withholds information contrary to bush administration policy

File this under "not so shocking."
EPA in a hot spot over mercury pollution
Critics said the report shows the Bush administration sought to minimize the benefits of reducing mercury pollution in order to justify not requiring power plant owners to buy the most effective technology for lowering mercury emissions.

“EPA has a track record of withholding information that doesn’t support their agenda, and this is the latest example,” said Felice Stadler, a National Wildlife Federation policy specialist.

jeudi, mai 05, 2005

cidade de deus (city of god)

Cidade de Deus (City of God) is easily the most violent, disturbing, and compelling film I've seen this year. The story is gutwrenching, the film is beautifully shot, and it's based on true events to boot.
Cidade de Deus (City of God) is a breathtakingly convincing interpretation of life in the notorious favela (housing project) built in the 1960s that became one of the most dangerous places in Rio de Janeiro in the early 80s. The narrator, Busca-Pé (Rocket), is a poor black youth too scared to become an outlaw but also too smart to be content with underpaid, menial jobs. He soon discovers that he can see reality differently than others. His redemption: he's been given an artist's point of view as a keen-eyed photographer.

Rocket doesn't determine the sequence of events. Nevertheless, his life is attached to what happens in the story. Through his perspective, we understand the complicated layers and humanity of a forsaken world, apparently condemned to endless violence.
Via Monsieur Law

j2k-five is alive

Who knew?

does elijah wood know about this?!?

My former boss Rick was a newspaper man in a previous life. As a Los Angeles Times editor, he reserved exclamation marks for only the most extreme headlines.

I daresay this naked hobbit site qualifies.
Via PlanetDan

darth vader's blog is better than yours is some seriously funny shiznit.
I will say this for being a tyrannical dark overlord: you get great service at restaurants.
Via DDTB and WackyNeighbor.

rip: bob hunter

Bob Hunter, the first president of Greenpeace, died of cancer on May 2, 2005 at the age of 63. It's sobering to think about this man's legacy. His work has impacted millions and yet, I'd never heard his name until this week.

Pictured: Bob Hunter in the radio room with the skipper, John Cormack, June 1975, while preparing for a showdown with Russian whalers. The radio had not worked for three days, and the crew was unable to tell anyone where they were, let alone broadcast to the media. They had yet to see the whalers, but could hear Russian voices over the radio.
Courageous ecowarrior who co-founded Greenpeace and artfully manipulated the media to shame the despoilers of the Earth
Bob Hunter was one of the original ecowarriors. A man with a knack for words — indeed he coined the term eco-warrior — he was also a man of action who inspired a new brand of personal environmental activism.

He was nearly killed when a Russian whale hunter’s harpoon parted his hair as he bobbed in a rubber dinghy in the cold waters of the north Pacific between the whaler’s bows and its quarry. On another occasion he narrowly escaped being killed by a hunter’s icebreaker when he was dyeing the white pelts of baby harp seals to make them worthless.

He was a prolific journalist, the author of more than a dozen books, a broadcaster, a scathingly humorous critic of polluters, dumpers and exploiters, and a celebrity spokesman for environmental activism, but his greatest claim to fame was his role in the founding of Greenpeace in 1971.

Hunter was an admirer of the ideas of his fellow-Canadian, the communications guru Marshall McLuhan. He put McLuhan’s celebrated dictum that “the medium is the message” into dramatic, mediagenic practice and took his environmentalist message to a vast global audience.

Another of the punchy new expressions Hunter coined was “mind bomb”, to describe an image which leaves an indelible image on the mind’s eye. The first “mind bomb” spawned Greenpeace in 1971.

Hunter, proud possessor of Greenpeace membership card No 000, became the organisation’s first president in 1973 and helped to lead it from a rickety rented office with a handful of volunteers in Vancouver to an international movement with branches in more than 40 countries and more than 2.5 million members.

Hunter had been unpaid for all but two months of the seven years he worked for Greenpeace.
Via NPR and

this is a shoutout to susan a

Once upon a time, I had this great co-worker named Susan A. We worked out together, we crafted together, and she made the most amazing desserts EVER. (Can you say "Nolan's Cocaine Carrot Cake, boys and girls?!) When I got sick, she singlehandedly arranged for meals to be delivered to my home for 35 days after my surgery.

Then, one day, Susan moved to the other side of the USA and I was sad, because it meant I couldn't see her, or her dog Emily, or husband Ben. And it also meant I couldn't eat her scrumdiddlyumptuous baked goods anymore.

That is, until the other day, when a birthday delivery of ohmygodnoreallythey'rebetterthansex brownies arrived, with a note from Susan, some potholders she crocheted, and some CDs she knew I wanted.

Ladies and gentlemen, Susan A. rocks. Simply put, I don't deserve a friend as good as her.

mercredi, mai 04, 2005

616 is the new 666

Holy crap! 616 is the real reference to Caligula, whom history remembers for his intolerance re: all things Christian.

It's not really surprising that John the Revelator made the mistake -- after all, he was living in a cave on Patmos near a volcanic gas duct when he wrote that (and many other whacked out, but nevertheless interesting, things) in the Book of Revelations. And Peter Gilmore's comment at the end of this article is flat-out hilarious.
Revelation! 666 is not the number of the beast (it's a devilish 616)
A newly discovered fragment of the oldest surviving copy of the New Testament indicates that, as far as the Antichrist goes, theologians, scholars, heavy metal groups, and television evangelists have got the wrong number. Instead of 666, it's actually the far less ominous 616.

The new fragment from the Book of Revelation, written in ancient Greek and dating from the late third century, is part of a hoard of previously unintelligible manuscripts discovered in historic dumps outside Oxyrhynchus in Egypt. Now a team of expert classicists, using new photographic techniques, are finally deciphering the original writing.

Professor David Parker, Professor of New Testament Textual Criticism and Paleography at the University of Birmingham, thinks that 616, although less memorable than 666, is the original. He said: "This is an example of gematria, where numbers are based on the numerical values of letters in people's names. Early Christians would use numbers to hide the identity of people who they were attacking: 616 refers to the Emperor Caligula."

The Book of Revelation is traditionally considered to be written by John, a disciple of Jesus; it identifies 666 as the mark of the Antichrist. In America, the fundamentalist Christian right often use the number in sermons about the coming Apocalypse.

They and satanists responded coolly to the new "Revelation". Peter Gilmore, High Priest of the Church of Satan, based in New York, said: "By using 666 we're using something that the Christians fear. Mind you, if they do switch to 616 being the number of the beast then we'll start using that."
Via PlanetDan

ah, mcsweeney's

It's been forever since I visited McSweeney's. Today didn't disappoint:

35 years ago today

Kent State was 35 years ago today.

Allison Krause, Sandra Scheuer, Jeffrey Miller and William Schroeder we were unarmed, registered, full time students at Kent State University when they were killed by Ohio National Guard bullets on May 4, 1970. Eight other students were wounded.
"You know, you see these bums, you know, blowin' up the campuses. Listen, the boys that are on the college campuses today are the luckiest people in the world, going to the greatest universities, and here they are, burnin' up the books, I mean, stormin' around about this issue, I mean, you name it —- get rid of the war, there'll be another one." -- Richard Nixon, New York Times, May 2, 1970
It's sad, but the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Via Scott


"We must overcome the notion that we must be regular. It robs you of your chance to be extraordinary."
-Uta Hagen, 1919- , stage and film actress

mardi, mai 03, 2005

this american life: american limbo

I was enthralled by this weekend's This American Life. The theme, American Limbo, included stories of people living completely outside the grid of American life. I was on the edge of my seat, waiting to hear if the Jarvis family would get caught and waxed nostalgic at "The Rookie," a bedtime story for a little boy living in Paris.

Prologue. Ira talks with Lee Qi, who came to America from China. He worked in Chinese restaurants in small towns, live in tiny apartments with other illegal immigrants who worked there as well, apartments that were sometimes in the back of the restaurants. He couldn't speak English, didn't go to school. He was 15. It was like being in limbo, he says: here in America, but not part of it at all. (4 minutes)

Act One. The Family That Flees Together, Trees Together. The Jarvis family, a group of eight, goes on the run from the law–for seven years. They live on a boat, in a treehouse in a swamp. They escape capture time after time. And how do the kids turn out, living a life outside of society, as fugitives? Surprisingly great. (22 minutes)

Act Two. What's French for "Steeee-rike Three"? Adam Gopnik reads a story from his book Paris
to the Moon
, about living in Paris with his family and wanting his son to be a bit more American. He tells him a bedtime story about the most American thing he can think of: baseball. But it doesn't work out the way he planned. (18 minutes)

tour de lance

Lance Armstrong is the closest I'll ever come to having a sports hero. I read both of his books after my own cancer experience and I am very impressed with the work he's done through the Lance Armstrong Foundation and how much money (and awareness) the Livestrong bracelet campaign has generated.

While in Normandy last summer, I would stay up into the wee hours watching TV coverage of Lance laboring up mountain roads, cheering him on and feeling really proud of my fellow American cancer survivor. (Anyone who knows me knows that I detest sports in general and TV sports coverage in particular.)

Anyhow, Lance has announced that this year's Tour de France will be his last. I hope he wins and will be following his training. You can get the latest on Lance and follow his team's progress at the Official Team Discovery site.

dimanche, mai 01, 2005

david sedaris is the man

I was lucky enough to go see David Sedaris again Friday night. Simply put, he's the most wickedly funny man on the planet. After the reading, he signed two books for me:
  • "Me Talk Pretty One Day," which I love because it includes several stories about his struggle to learn French and resonates with me on a scary deep level. He asked "Did you come alone tonight?" when I got to the signing table. When I responded "No, I brought fourteen friends," he wrote "To Happy, Thanks for making me rich."
  • "501 French Verbs," in which he wrote "I hate this."
I love David. And I daresay that I would actually consider having a child tomorrow if he were the sperm donor.