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december 1999

[A Day Without Weblogs]

AIDS is preventable.
Prevent it.

Other online resources and national AIDS service organizations [list on The NAMES Project website] 12/01/99

The WTO Cam See what's going on at Westlake Park right now--refreshed every three minutes (via iBoy)

I don't know what to say about what's happening in Seattle. What I was going to tell you is that in spite of the press coverage most of the city is calm. The press has been covering this as if the entire city is a war zone, but it's just not true in most of the city.

Honest to God, though, where protesters are, the police appear to now be out of control. I just watched the news: at curfew time downtown, the police ordered everyone to go, but gave no clear direction as to how that should happen. When it didn't happen at once they tear-gassed everyone, protesters, press, and bystanders alike. One woman fell down while running away, and was pepper-sprayed, as was the Capitol Hill resident who came outside to object to the police tear-gassing his neighborhood.

I know that the police are tired, keyed up, and under a lot of pressure to keep things under control, but this behavior is unconscionable.

Seattle Mayor Mayor Paul Schell

Seattle City Council: sue.donaldson@ci.seattle.wa.us

Jessamyn was at the protest Tuesday. 12/02/99

After the delegates and activists pack up and go home will the WTO protests make any difference? 12/02/99

The first Americans may have been Australian. 12/02/99

Ewwww News: To combat fire ants, the US is importing a species of fly that lays eggs in the ant that than make the ant's head fall off. 12/03/99

BBC News has redesigned and their header proclaims "Updated Every Minute of the Day". 12/03/99

What I've always suspected is true: New Money is clueless. 12/03/99

Matchgame's Gene Rayburn is dead . "...his 'Match Game' tenure survived one hilarious blooper. Interviewing a contestant and meaning to compliment her dimples, he looked at her face and said, "you have the most beautiful nipples I have ever seen." 12/03/99

Vitaly Komar and Alex Melamid, the duo who created the Most Wanted Paintings Project, an effort to truly define "people's art", maintain that art is nonsense. 12/03/99

Belgian's new Princess Mathilde will one day be the nationís first Belgian-born queen in its 169-year history. 12/06/99

Laugh or Cry? News: Publisher We Media has opened a website targeting the disabled, seeking "to empower people with disabilities, their families and friends by providing both mobility and access to the services this population has long been denied."

But what's this? The top page says: "Please excuse us. We Media's site is not 100% 'Bobby' compliant today. However, we are working very hard over the next few weeks to make sure that it becomes so." Excuse me? You made a website for the disabled, and you're adding accessibility as an afterthought? 12/06/99

What's your telephone exchange? (via Looka) 12/06/99

Media Manipulation News: Body by Madison Avenue. The concerns listed in this article strike me as ranging from striking to stretching it. Here are some pull quotes that illustrate some of the (to me) more interesting points, but I hope you'll read the whole article.

"The emphasis is so completely on women's bodies," says Jean Kilbourne, who for 20 years has been lecturing on images of women in advertising. "The ideal has always been unattainable, but now it's even more so." She attributes some changes to the ability to alter photographs with computers - to elongate bodies or put one woman's head with another woman's body. "The ideal is no longer a real woman," she says. "It's a composite"

(the article doesn't mention the ubiquitousness of body enhancement surgery used routinely now by models in order to be marketable)

"When Elizabeth Massie interviewed girls between the ages of 9 and 18 for a documentary video, 'Who Cares About Girls?,' denial was rampant. 'Girls assured us they were not influenced,' says Ms. Massie of Los Angeles. 'They only referred to their friends being influenced. Even when girls recognize manipulation, they're incapable of resisting it.'" 12/06/99

The Tight Labor Myth 12/06/99

The female crime rate has fallen. "'This report shows that women are where men were during the 1960s and 1970s, using their fists when they commit violent assaults,' said Jack Levin, a professor of sociology and criminology who directs the Brudnick Center for Violence at Northeastern University in Boston. 'The men have graduated into aggravated assaults and murder. The women havenít followed.'" 12/06/99

Jorn found this great quote on the Progressive Review: "A PROFESSOR IN SEATTLE: It is fascinating how gracefully the President and the Congress have left the WTO to take the heat. Why is no one holding our officials responsible since they voted on and agreed to all of the provisions they now say are wrong? The WTO did not arrive in a spacecraft from a distant galaxy. It was created by the US and its structure owes as much to our President and our Congress as to anyone else." 12/06/99

Software that can detect cat-typing. 12/07/99

Airport biometrics? I'm so there. 12/07/99

Masaru Sato, Akira Kurosawa's music director, has died. 12/07/99

The new discovery in mice suggests that the natural function of the muscle stem cells can be changed from becoming one type of cell to another, possibly representing an alternative to embryonic stem cells in some medical therapies. 12/07/99

Worker productivity is up in the third quarter of the year...which is completely counterintuitive to me considering the amount of surfing everyone I know does at work.... 12/08/99

From the excellent Newsscan:
AT&T is testing a new marketing campaign in which 10- to 15-second recorded messages would be played to customers placing long-distance calls. Customers would be urged by these messages to contact AT&T for more information about calling plans or other AT&T services. Consumer Union co-director Gene Kimmelman complains: "I think it's pushing the envelope on advertising. It will be interesting to see if people revolt." An AT&T insists the recordings are "messages" rather than "ads," and says: "We wanted to test the degree to which people will respond to these messages. We haven't made up our minds about how we're going to deploy this or on what scale." Marketing consultant Jack Trout predicts: "This isn't going to generate a lot of goodwill." (Wall Street Journal 7 Dec 99) Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

You do subscribe to Newsscan, don't you? I recommend that you do. John Gehl and Suzanne Douglas deliver top-notch summaries of the most interesting technology-related news of the day right to your mailbox. Be sure to check out their equally excellent INNOVATION newsletter. (item used with permission.)12/08/99

Sports News: An Australian golf tournament has offered a top prize of breast (for women) and penis (for men) enlargement surgery for the longest drive. Local surgeons are upset. 12/08/99

My Mom and Dad are considering a trip to Alaska, and they'd like to know more about the ferry that takes you up there from Seattle. Have you taken this trip? I'd appreciate hearing about your experiences, good and bad. 12/08/99

Jorn has found another wonderful story. Primatologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy has written a fascinating-sounding book called Mother Nature: a history of mothers, infants and natural selection. In this interview she talks about infanticide among male langur monkeys and promiscuity among the females as a defense against it; and her observations of human behavior and the dangers current child-rearing practices hold for our species. As Jorn would say: Don't miss! 12/09/99

Clueless Adult News: A group of Orange County teenagers want to form a Gay-Straight Alliance Club; the school board says no. After a board meeting to discuss the issue, there was a scuffle when a man pushed 15-year-old gay student Anthony Colin. "That happens at a board meeting and they donít think we need a club about tolerance? Get real," Colin said. 12/09/99

Impossibly Arrogant Adult News: Patrick Naughton thinks that he's really, really smart, and that you are really, really extra dumb "All along, Naughton, 'a genius when it comes to the Internet,' said (Defense Attorney) Marks, knew he wasn't talking to a real 13-year-old. He knew by the words she used and even by how quickly she typed her return answers." 12/08/99

A group of Mayans object to an ethnobiologist's research project studying local medicinal plants, saying that the project's purpose is "producing pharmaceuticals that will not benefit the communities that have managed and nurtured these resources for thousands of years". 12/09/99

If you want to co-opt some of that herbal goodness, there's a new site that aims to be the most comprehensive source of herbal information and products on the web. Come into Darwin's Garden. 12/09/99

A reader pointed to me to this article discussing the implications of introducing genetically modified organisms into Mexico. The issues are really quite complex and range from pharmaceutical companies making vague agreements to compensate the Mexican government and Native populations (all to be determined later), to real fears about the effect of GM crops altering or eliminating native species. "Andrew Kimbrell, stated that 'biological pollution will be the environmental nightmare of the 21st century. This is not like chemical pollution, such as an oil spill, which eventually disperses. Biological pollution is an entirely different model, more like a disease. Is Monsanto going to be held legally responsible when one of its transgenetics creates a super-weed or a resistant insect?'" (Thanks, Beth!) 12/10/99

Bad User Experience News: Has anyone noticed Macromedia's terrible user interface? The first time I wanted to download a demo, I had to click four levels into the site before filling out the usual personal information and being forced to scroll through three pages of questions about the software I currently use, (check all that apply), what I do, how many people are on my team, what I want to do with the product, would I like to receive information.... All of this just to get to the download page.

I just went to the site again, and even though it greeted me by name, three pages into the site it asked if I'd like to log in. I did (my other choice was to create a new account and go through all those pages of questions again)...and I was forced to page through the same endless list of questions anyway.

While I doubt that they're losing free downloads over this (if the carrot at the end of the stick is big enough, people will jump through hoops), surely arbitrarily and unnecessarily annoying people isn't good brand strategy?12/10/99

Your antibiotic-fed chicken may be making you sicker. 12/10/99

Frustrated is dedicated all this week to Julia Butterfly Hill. Learn more about Julia's fight to save our ancient forests.12/11/99

My boyfriend wants a Gameboy for Christmas. So does my brother-in-law. These are adult men with slick, important-sounding jobs. It struck me tonight that someone should make a PDA that supports games. I guess Handspring is headed in this direction with their Tiger Woods PGA TOUR® Golf product module, but what they really need is a handheld version of Quake or even Tetris. 12/11/99

Saaaaayy...according to this page The Tetris Company is trying to remove all freeware & shareware tetris-style games from distribution. 12/11/99

We Don't Need No Steenkin' WTO News: A federal food safety program was dealt a stunning setback Friday when a Texas judge ruled that the U.S. Agriculture Department could not punish a beef processing plant that flunked tests for illness-causing salmonella. 12/11/99

Notable Washington Weather 12/12/99

Amnesty International has joined the outcry following the WTO-sponsored Battle in Seattle. 12/12/99

Most Americans believe that police use racial profiling. I believe it too, but I will just mention the time a (white) boyfriend was taking a leisurely nighttime drive by himself in the back roads of Canyon Country, CA, when he was pulled over by a policeman who asked if he's been drinking or using drugs (he had been drinking caffeine-free diet coke) and demanded to search the truck. Afterwards, he told me, "If I was Black, I would completely believe that's why I was pulled over." As it was, we could only conclude that this particular officer was merely a jerk. 12/12/99

Seattle says Y2K won't be WTO. Oh, please. 12/12/99

Tim Eyman is the "strategist for Washington state's tax revolt" who promoted Washington state's initiative to cut licensing fees to a flat $30 on all cars (benefiting whom? those who own expensive cars) and pushed Washington's anti-affirmation initiative last year. Next year he wants an initiative to cut other tax increases and cap property taxes. CNN is calling him a populist, but it looks to me like his goal is making life just easier for the upper class. 12/14/99

An American Success Story: Man starts business; man gets rich; man retires, gives millions to the people who made him so successful: his employees. 12/14/99

Scientists now believe they can create life in the laboratory; but they don't know if they should. 12/14/99

Woman sues for 'wrongful birth' 12/14/99

Each year the Australian Broadcasting Corporation "invites a prominent Australian, or group of Australians, to present the results of their thinking on major social, cultural, scientific or political issues in this series of six radio talks" called the Boyer Lectures. This year's speaker is Inga Clendinnen. I'm just beginning to read the transcripts: they are thought-provoking and very, very interesting. The lectures are longish, but when you have a bit of time, fix a cup of tea and settle down for a fascinating read.

Lecture One: Incident on a Beach
"It was easy to decide on the theme: the practical usefulness of good history both morally and politically... Over these next weeks, I want us...to look at a handful of the stories I uncovered...so that we as individuals can decide first, what we make of them, then what we feel about them, then what we think we should do about them. That, after all, is the ambition of civic nationalism: for citizens to be sufficiently informed factually and exercised morally to be competent to make decisions for themselves."

"We have a prime example of the dangers of a simple story powerfully and repeatedly told close to hand in the United States of America...where 'America' officially can do no wrong. Teach grown men and women a nursery version of their history and you will make babies of them when it comes to grasping the actual workings of their own society, and of their nation in the wider world. The hypocrisy of much American foreign policy is only possible because so many of its people believe that the USA simply could not engage in dishonourable actions... So, even more alarmingly, do many people within the United States government." (Thanks, Rob!) 12/15/99

In the Yahoo! listing of Universities, Madonna University is listed just above the Maharishi School of Management. 12/15/99

Have you heard of CharityGift.com? Matt Haughey (proprietor of the excellent Metafilter) turned me on to it. He donated the money, and I got to choose the charity! It's a wonderful gift. (And Matt is a hell of a guy.) I chose Heifer Project International, a group that gives people livestock and teaches them sustainable agricultural practices. They literally are teaching the man to fish. 12/16/99

I've received a few emails about my PDA/Gameboy post. Canis Lupus of Lycanthrope points me to these games at Palm Central and Sorted at Squidfactory offers this theory on the appeal of the gameboy to the important-seeming adult man: "generally speaking it's probably just the fact that it has buttons to push, a glowing screen, and makes boop-boop-beep noises." Yep. That sounds exactly right. 12/16/99

Musicians Who Think: Weblog Retrogression is a Journal of Music and Revolution. Dave's other Retrogression has a great essay, Keep Slavery Out Of The Scene!, which explains "As punks who believe in something aside from the never ending drive for higher profits and stock value, we need to start supporting our fellow workers by buying from companies that treat their workers decently (and conversely boycott companies that operate sweatshops or bust unions)." Listed are responsible resources for those things punk bands, labels, zines, etc buy on a regular basis: Screenprinters, T-Shirts, Sweatshirts, Embroidered patches, and Printers. (I'm having trouble connecting tonight, but try again--it's there.) 12/16/99

Happy Birthday, Jokerrrr. 12/17/99

Too much Sax Can Kill You 12/17/99

In the new Millenium tattoos will be passe; single theme conversions will be all the rage. 12/17/99

You say you don't have time to floss? Better start: it looks like heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes, among others, may have their roots in your oral health. 12/20/99

Q is Dead 12/20/99

Jessamyn is quoted in this article on the WTO protests and ensuing chaos in Seattle; the first one I've seen that I consider to be well balanced in describing the actual events and reflecting the varying points of view I've heard during and since the event. 12/20/99

If all goes well, 2000 will see polio eradicated from the Earth. 12/20/99

An Australian man has been convicted of feeding hash cookies to two unsuspecting Mormons. 12/20/99

The Hunger Site is making a difference. 12/21/99

Good News! Julia Hill has descended from Luna, claiming victory. 12/21/99

666 12/21/99

Good News! Russell Stands-Over-Bull has become the first Crow Indian to earn a doctorate in a hard science -- a Ph.D. in geology from Colorado School of Mines. 12/21/99

Good News! The Vermont Supreme Court has ruled that gay and lesbian couples must be granted the same protections and benefits given to married couples. 12/21/99

A German man has been jailed for murdering a woman over the phone. "The man admitted that he had over the years telephoned hundreds of mostly elderly women around the country for sexual stimulation by recounting horrific and credible tales and persuading them to commit insane acts...Pretending to be a police officer or doctor, he would say their son or daughter had suffered a serious accident. He also claimed to represent a 'gang of gypsies' or a 'gang of German-Russian perverts'". 12/21/99

Merry Christmas News: Astronomer Michael Molnar has applied some forensic astronomy to the Nativity to determine that Jupiter was the Star of Bethlehem...and the exact date of Jesus's birth. 12/23/99

The Goth Who Stole Christmas If you know who wrote this, please let me know so I can credit where credit is due. (Thanks, Kymm!) 12/23/99

What do you get when you cross a monkey with a jellyfish? Glowing green monkey cells. 12/24/99

Small town cop pays Little League pitcher $2 to bean batter. 12/24/99

Merry Christmas! 12/25/99

In her third Boyer Lecture, Back to the Past: Victoria 1841; Arnhem Land 1931-7, Inga Clendinnen examines the very difficult assimilation of white men into the Australian continent, and hints at how the accepted interpretations of those conflicts color today's perceptions of Aboriginal people. "...one astute missionary suspected that once a group had accepted the fact of European takeover of their tribal land, they took their particular usurper to be directly responsible for their welfare, and assumed kinship with him. Their 'begging' thus becomes a polite but insistent reminder of the new relationship, and of his obligations under it...These are the small but decisive tragedies of misinterpretation which attend encounters between cultures when both sympathy and curiosity are lacking." 12/25/99

How sucky is this? Amnestyinternational.com is an email service and who knows what is intended for amnestyinternational.net? 12/25/99

Clayton Moore is dead at age 85. "Iíll wear the white hat the rest of my life," Moore said in 1985. "The Lone Ranger is a great character, a great American. Playing him made me a better person." 12/29/99

Latest Sign of the Apocalypse News: LaBatts Beer has installed talking ads in bar bathrooms as part of their "Out of the Blue" campaign. They're calling them interactive, but it seems to me that a tape triggered by movement isn't interactive, merely reactive. Second, is it at all ethical to encourage a drinker to drink more? Isn't the establishment supposed to encourage moderation? 12/29/99

The Second Coming
Turning and turning in the widening gyre,
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight; somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?
--William Butler Yeats, 1920 12/31/99

comments? questions? rebecca blood