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april 2000
Brazilian culture has a long history of deference by the poor toward the rich--to the point that it was taboo for a poor person to mug a rich one! Maids have existed on the bottom of this social ladder, accepting poor pay, physical and emotional abuse, and insecure working conditions...until Benedita da Silva, deputy governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro and a former maid, began working to provide maids with basic employment rights. Now the maids themselves have begun to respond to this call for responsibility. 04/03/00

Star Trek News: The common CBC (complete blood count) is performed by drawing blood, which is sent to a laboratory for processing, with results delivered back hours or days later. Now James Winkleman, MD has developed a new device that uses spectral imaging to perform the same test instantaneously and non-invasively. 04/03/00

The Practical Japanese have developed a device the uses global positioning and cellular phone technology for tracking their elders when they stray. 04/03/00

An open letter to Elian Gonzalez (via powazek). 04/05/00

Manitoba: ask for it by name. 04/05/00

The impending Goods and Services Tax has Australian women riled: while exceptions to the tax will be made for necessities such as sunscreen, incontinence pads and condoms, tampons and menstrual pads will be taxed. Women are responding with beautifully imaginative protests, none more so than Rhonda Ellis, who transforms herself into Tanya Tampon. During one Prime Ministerial visit, police arrested environmental protesters but left Tanya and her cohorts to themselves. 'I believe it's because the police were reluctant to approach the tampon,' she said.

A note to my sisters in Australia: I propose you cooperate; simply stop using pads and tampons, and go about your daily business as usual. I feel confident that the men in power will come to regard women's sanitary supplies as a necessity in very short order. 04/05/00

Mike the Headless Chicken is now immortalized in sculpture. 04/05/00

Through careful observation I have concluded that driving one's motorcycle very fast up and down the hills of SF in the wee hours of the morning must be one of the great pleasures of this fair city. Otherwise why would it happen outside my window every single night? 04/05/00

Hey! I like this little article about weblogging (although I really doubt that any of us "attract the kind of traffic that even big-name e-commerce sites would be jealous of.") via blogit 04/06/00

This (late) 5K contest article features our own Heather Champ. 04/06/00

Dumb News: Will Wright, 42, accused of sexually assaulting his girlfriend's 19-year-old daughter, will plead insanity, based on his use of Viagra. 04/06/00

Bolivia is under martial law right now as the government seeks to put down citizens protesting last year's sell-off of Cochabamba's public water system to foreign investors. Keep current with the situation with boliviahoy. (Thanks to Jessamyn for the pointer) 04/10/00

Dork News: The Web Standards Project is justifiably upset that Microsoft's Internet Explorer 5.5 abandons the standards it has publicly supported. "Coming on the heels of Netscape's preview release, it's hard not to view this as exactly the kind of 'predatory' behavior the U.S. Justice Department laid at Microsoft's door." (via Metafilter) 04/10/00

In response to dwindling numbers of churchgoers in an increasingly hectic world, a group of Irish Jesuit priests has set up Sacred Space, and the world is logging in. 04/10/00

BMG is fighting back with their plan to offer digital singles for sale on the web--but not in the MP3 format. 04/10/00

Science has confirmed what I've known all along: when I say I feel fat--I am. 04/10/00

An oil spill on Phillip Island, southeast of Melbourne, Australia has left fairy penguins at risk: the oil has destroyed their natural insulation and put them at risk for poisoning from preening. How to help? Knit them little wool sweaters. 04/10/00

A group from the Seattle Institute of Art have designed an innovative new wheelchair that allows its user to change their height and position, and which moves on a single, gyroscoping wheel. 04/10/00

Don't miss Fred's hilarious Ten Signs That I Am Becoming Everything I Once Despised. 04/11/00

In 525 BC, King Cambyses II conquered Egypt and ushered in a period of Persian rule. One day he set off into the desert with an army of 50,000 to capture the Oasis of Amon, and disappeared without a trace...until now. 04/11/00

Wanted: reliable, hardworking, and energetic person or couple to do 14 jobs on a small Scottish island, so that current employee can retire. 04/11/00

Lawyers Be Damned! News: Ignoring the threats of Joe DiMaggio's estate, the city of San Francisco has decided to rename North Beach Playground after the baseball legend. 04/11/00

Hey! I didn't know that Taylor has a weblog! My two-word synopsis of Taylor is: unfailingly polite. I introduced myself to him at SXSW and told him how much I had enjoyed hearing him speak at another web conference the year before; that is practically an exact transcript of the interaction. However, every single time I passed him on the street or in the hall after that, he greeted me. This probably impressed me more than it should have, but really, it seems to me that politeness has, in large part, gone the way of the fedora hat. So Taylor has my vote.

Oh, and if you get a chance to hear him speak, do it. He's interesting, informed, opinionated, and very, very entertaining. 04/12/00

A private Indian cemetery has been desecrated by unknown villains. Possibly for the money. I'm not even going to start on this. But I'm spitting. (via Lizard) 04/12/00

A pope's skull vanished Friday from a Spanish museum. The skull is all that is left of Pope Benedict XIII, who ruled from Avignon during the Great Schism, when there were two, and for a while three, Popes in power at the same time. 04/12/00

Disneyland has extended its adult ticket price--$41--to children 10 and above, apparently because it believes adults are enjoying themselves more than the children: "We believe our attractions are enjoyed by people 10 years and above, based on height requirements, so the change was appropriate."

Plus: Huh? 04/12/00

Scottish researchers have announced that adding a bacteria supplement to farm animal feed improves their digestion and reduces the amount of methane they produce via gaseous emissions; sheep fed the supplement excreted 4 liters less methane a day. I wonder how they test this.... 04/12/00

Better than BLOAT! 04/13/00

Were Jamestown colonists poisoned? 04/13/00

Convergence News: Interior designer Philippe Starck has designed the world's first interactive hotel, a space which allows guests to choose the color of their room decor and which aims to create public spaces that make people dream. 04/13/00

I have been focusing on fitting my things into the very limited space this apartment affords. Even when I'm not consciously thinking about it, I find myself peering into the most obscure nooks and crannies trying to imagine which of my items I might fit there. As I do this, Bryan Boyer's Hidden Information Spaces has persistently floated in front of me, and I realize that the web has become for me, in this instance, a metaphor for the tangible world. 04/13/00

Last week the European Commission made it illegal to sell cosmetics tested on animals, then delayed implementing that measure since it would prevent the US and other countries from selling cosmetics in their jurisdiction. (WTO, anyone?)

The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics lists 550 companies who do not use ingredients that have been tested on animals. Vote your conscience with your dollars; it makes a difference. 04/13/00

Machiavelli News: The gentle Cape honey bee competes with the African "killer bee" with a fascinating mixture of infiltration, deceit, and high intrigue that puts all of human history in a new light. 04/13/00

Good News/Bad News: Conjugated linoleic acid is a fatty acid that reportedly reduces body fat, increases muscle mass, lowers serum cholesterol, inhibits cancer growth, and prevents or reverses arterial disease. The richest food source is Cheez Whiz. 04/13/00

April 16-17, citizens will meet in Washington, DC to protest World Bank and IMF policies. David Grenier is on his way. 04/14/00

Is the web-economy just another scam? Yep. (thanks, J!) 04/14/00

A group rebuilding the Columbine High School library has accepted a donation from strip club owner Troy Lowrie of 600,000 shares of stock in an outdoor advertising company. "'This money is from a media company that is not related to the adult industry. I hope they wouldn't turn it down,' (Lowrie) said." 04/14/00

Ludicrocity: Metallica is suing Napster and several colleges for copyright infringement. Normally I wouldn't even bother, except for this:

Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich said that 'with each project, we go through a grueling creative process...We take our craft...very seriously, as do most artists. It is therefore sickening to know that our art is being traded like a commodity rather than the art that it is.'
Complaining, after 20 years in the music industry, that his fans are treating his music like a commodity raises the bar for absurdity. Why don't these people spare us the high-falutin' sentiments and come right out with it: "I am afraid that if people use Napster to pass around my music I will lose money."

The music industry, long renowned for its unprincipled antics, is worse: it cites ethics and a sincere desire to protect the interests of artists instead of admitting that it is terrified by the creation of a technology that enables direct distribution of music from creator to consumer, or consumer to consumer, thereby rendering it obsolete.

I am undecided whether I think the music industry's and musician's attitude is greedy, short-sighted, or fair. I am incensed, though, when they characterize their actions as being anything but profit-driven. 04/14/00

Demonstrating a sincere commitment to sensationalism, ABCNews entices readers with the link text
Police in Washington, DC raided and shut down the headquarters for protesters against meetings between the World Bank and the IMF, claiming fire hazards. Find out what kind of weaponry police say the protesters had.
and then reports without question or outrage that DC police have raided protest headquarters and seized chains, chicken wire, gas masks, and a "pepper-spray-like concoction". Protesters say that the cayenne pepper and garlic police seized were being used to cook meals.
'We’re simply concerned about their safety, and we want to make sure there are no fire hazards,' [Police Chief] Ramsey said.
As outrageous as I think this is, I'm much, much more angry about ABC's coverage than about anything else. We have the right to and the need for complete and critical information about all of our government's actions. 04/15/00

I'm not yet finding anything about this on DC Indymedia, but I've linked on the left in order to provide quick access to a less compliant view of the proceedings. Do you have another source I should add? 04/15/00

First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Force and Opinion, by Noam Chomsky

At home, even tiny groups may be subject to severe repression if their potential outreach is perceived to be too great. During the campaign waged by the national political police against The Black Panthers -- including assassination, instigation of ghetto riots, and a variety of other means -- the FBI estimated the "hard core members" of the targeted organization at only 800, but added ominously that "a recent poll indicates that approximately 25 per cent of the black population has a great respect for the [Black Panther Party], including 43 per cent of blacks under 21 years of age."

The repressive agencies of the state proceeded with a campaign of violence and disruption to ensure that the Panthers did not succeed in organizing as a substantial social or political force -- with great success, as the organization was decimated and the remnants proceeded to self-destruct.

Edward Gorey is dead. Here's a Salon profile from February. 04/17/00

In 878, Alfred, king of Wessex, repelled Viking invaders at The Battle of Ethandun, thus preserving nascent British culture and language. 1200 years later nearly a quarter of the human population speaks English, and as English spreads, many Englishes evolve. 04/17/00

Does the World Bank need to be reformed? Joseph Stiglitz, former Chief Economist for the organization thinks it does. 04/17/00

On the Value of Dissent Sociologist Todd Gitlin on why we need activists to disrupt the the status quo and empower insiders to make changes.

Outsiders may resent the fact, but one of their prime functions is to improve the clout of insiders. In truth, the demonstrators converging on Washington this week are undertaking the time-honored, indispensable mission of democratic crowds: to crack a wrongheaded consensus, to energize actual and potential reformers on the inside, to polarize opinion and goad laggards, to precipitate public debates that have been suppressed by establishments or pursued only by experts in closed rooms where inertia and groupthink overwhelm dissent.

Were dinosaurs warm-blooded? A newly discovered dinosaur heart may indicate that they were. (NY Times registration: ID: rebeccas-pocket, password: pocket) 04/21/00

Why are the Dutch the happiest people on earth? Some say it's due to their more balanced way of life. I've always thought it was because they have more weblogs per capita than any other nation on Earth. But now I know that it's due to their enlightened and helpful police force. 04/21/00

It isn't online yet, but the May Harper's Index contains the following factoid:

Ratio of people worldwide who are underfed to those who are overfed: 1:1.
Have you clicked on the Hunger Site yet today? Your donation of food is free. 04/21/00

In keeping with its theme of communication across time, The Frequency website allows you to post messages for others that cannot be retrieved for 30 years. Suggestion: tell them you love them...and then go tell them today. 04/21/00

Embedded Propaganda News: The Army is busy creating the wired soldier of the future with it's Joint Expeditionary Digital Information program...or JEDI for short. 04/21/00

Glasses for colorblindness! 04/21/00

Dr Peter MacNeilage has been cataloging the babblings of infants, identifying universal patterns of sounds and comparing them to words in 10 languages. Now, flying in the face of accepted linguistic theory, he has concluded that human language may have a set of "ancestor words" from which languages evolved. 04/21/00

You Might be a Goth if... (thanks, Mark!) 04/21/00

I just want to say that if you don't visit Larkfarm regularly, you should. Damnedest stuff around. 04/20/00

David Grenier is back from DC. His account contains a very lucid explanation of the issues, and continues with his eyewitness account of the proceedings.

I felt like I was gonna puke. I kept asking myself what the hell I was doing there, and I kept thinking about the ghost neighborhoods in Pittsburgh. I thought about a line from some action movie...'first you do the thing, then you get the courage. Funny how it works.'...I kept thinking about these cops, and how they may be nice individuals at home, but if they got the order they would bash my skull in.

...I started rationalizing with myself. I don't care that much about third world peasants, I said. I work in web development; I could be a software engineer for the next thirty years and probably not have to worry about my job being shipped overseas. Most of all, I don't want that club to hit my head.

But I held firm.

Researchers have identified seven ancestral mother groups from which all Europeans may appear to have descended, all of which seem to have descended from the Lara clan, one of three clans that exists today in Africa. 04/24/00

Elian Conspiracy Theory News: Against all odds, the Elian story becomes more bizarre as relatives claim that the photos of the boy's reunion with his father show much longer hair than the photos taken hours before during the raid on his home. (Here's a photo from Friday.) Don't miss Florida Republican Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart's theory of brainwashing: 'I saw a little Band-Aid (in the Maryland pictures). I think the drugging has already begun.' 04/24/00

Dolphin Search is a new search engine based on the strategies dolphins use in building information patterns that allow them to precisely differentiate objects in their environment. 04/25/00

Inuit hunter Steven Kooneeliusie has lived all his life in the Canadian Arctic. In the last few years, the seasons around him have changed.

'I know when I was probably 8 or 10 the ice wouldn't go out until July, sometimes not until the second week of July. But over the last few years we've seen the ice go out as early as May,' he said. 'To us the effects are real. Climate change is here and it's a real cause for concern.'

Scientists have identified two genes that allow bacteria to develop resistance to antibiotics. 04/25/00

Dirty Trick News! Continental Airlines is threatening to sue United over a new baggage sizer installed at security checkpoints which they say enforces baggage size requirements smaller than their own, one way Continental seeks to differentiate themselves from other airlines. 04/25/00

DNA analysis of Louis XVII's presumed heart has proven that the 10-year-old French King did indeed die in in prison in 1795 during the French Revolution. 04/25/00

Britannica Article: Jefferson and the Guillotine. In which Thomas Jefferson's great love for the cause of Liberty blinds him to the tragedy of the French Revolution. 04/25/00

I usually stay as far from this kind of thing as possible, but a couple of people have taken Mark to task for his latest feature, He Blogs for Webgirls. Objections range from the use of the word 'girls' to a perceived patronizing tone.

On the word 'girl': I remember that when I was in my late teens and early twenties all of my friends were 'women.' When I got used to being an adult, all of them reverted to being girls again. For that matter, my grandmother used to have 'the girls' over to her house for bridge parties when she was well into her 60s. And lately I've developed a fondness for the term 'grrl.'

Is 'girl' patronizing? I don't know. In some contexts, 'women' is patronizing. In any case, I'm over it.

As far as his tone goes, I find it to be celebratory, complimentary, and supportive. He may lack the context of an adult woman with a broad historical background, but, for heaven's sake--he's 15. As far as I'm concerned he's throwing in his vote with his usual enthusiasm for the accomplishments of a set of...ummm, 'womyn' he admires, and I appreciate it.

Girls: there are still real threats to female autonomy. Mark isn't one of them. Any man who celebrates the voices of women he considers to be intelligent and beautiful is on our side. Now go pick on someone your own size. 04/26/00

Important News: In the late 90's, Sophonie Telcy's mother illegally entered this country from Haiti, looking for a better life for herself and her daughter; last spring she turned the care of the 6-year-old child over to an old friend, returned to Haiti to see a doctor, and died.

Sophonie's father is unknown. She has no legal standing in the US, no residency papers, no health insurance...and, despite a loving family who is willing to care for her, very little chance to stay here because she is Haitian. Congressman Alcee Hastings filed House Resolution 4179, "for the relief of Sophonie Telcy," but the bill will almost certainly fail. (read more about it here.)

Some things Henry and Jeanine Smith want for Sophonie they cannot have.

Health insurance, for instance. And a Social Security number, so they can sign her up for the after-school program at the Bright Futures child development center down the street.

'We would love to have Sophonie here,' says Wanda Doby, who owns Bright Futures. 'It's just a matter of the papers. It seems it always happens like this. When the Haitians come over, we have a problem getting them here legally. And with Cubans, it's a whole different story.'
The bill has been referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims. I'm not sure what to do here to help, but if you are a US citizen, I encourage you to write your Representative and call or email members of the Subcommittee in support of HR 4179 on this poor little girl's behalf.

Mr. Lamar Smith, Chairman, 202-225-4236
Mr. Howard Berman, 202-225-4695
Mr. Ed Pease 202-225-5805
Ms. Zoe Lofgren
Mr. Chris Cannon
Mr. Barney Frank, 202-225-5931
Mr. Charles Canady, 202-225-1252
Mr. Marty Meehan, 202-225-3411
Mr. Bob Goodlatte, 202-225-5431
Mr. Joe Scarborough, 202-225-4136

QOTD: 'BoyCaught does not judge a blog by the color of its links, but just by the content of its characters.' 04/26/00

Despite improvement, the environment continues to be neglected by the nations of the world.

If only a portion of what is spent by the nuclear weapons states to maintain and further develop their nuclear weapons was re-routed towards the protection of the environment, sustainable development could become a reality.

The Guardian weblog is the first such major media venture I've seen that really 'gets' weblogging, to the point of linking to the Brunching Shuttlecocks (an ancient weblog staple), and attributing and linking the (independent) weblogs on which they find material. Wide-ranging content, too. Welcome to the community!

(No, the Star-Tribune's doesn't count: Gael was doing her own independent weblog long before she began that one.) 04/27/00

Danny Schechter writes persuasively about how the US media has focused on Elian at the expense of many other people and children in the world in desperate need of help. This article is worth looking at if only for the great picture of Elian at the top of the page and this aside:

A Cuba-expert friend of mine who was shuttling between Havana, Miami and Washington to resolve this crisis told me of an earlier encounter with Elián. He was asked if he wanted to go home. His response was a question indicating the nature of this six-year-old's fears. 'Will I have to go back the way I came, on a raft?' he reportedly asked.

Michael Moore is spearheading an effort to get ficuses on ballots across the country.

...it is our hope to see Ficuses and other houseplants giving incumbent Congressmen who face little or no opposition a run for their money. 95% of all incumbents get re-elected and many of them run unopposed. It is not healthy in a democracy to hold elections with only one name on the ballot. We believe the country would be better off with a Ficus tree sitting in Congress than some of these clowns.
(via Metafilter) 04/27/00

Organize your Closets

Electricity from Giant Artichokes

Snowplows sighted in Hell (Thanks, Lizard!) 04/27/00

comments? questions? rebecca blood

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