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august 2000
How much does Al Gore wish Colin Powell was campaigning for him? (And, in truth, Powell's speech sounded to me like an 'It Takes a Village' redux.) And how much do we wish that Powell was running for office himself? And at what other Republican convention have you heard a speaker rail against corporate welfare? And when have you ever heard the word 'compassion' repeated so many times at such an event?

(And let me just say this: if you want to get people worked up, go get a Black Pastor to do the job. There are compelling speakers of every type, but nothing can compare with the heart-pounding, testifying effect of any Black Pastor worth his salt. Herbert Hoover Lutz--can anyone give me the real name?--rocks my world.)

I am, of course, cynical about anything any politician says, even more so during a campaign. The Republicans are espousing diversity, inclusiveness, and compassion. In spite of the profound pragmatism of this step--the Republicans have been fools not to move in this direction years ago--on the face of it, it feels like the most
cynical and ridiculous posture possible.

I decided this morning to give the Republicans the benefit of the doubt. Only their actions--whether they win the White House or not--will show whether this is a genuine change in attitude, and only after this election can I fully judge the integrity of their stance. But this new approach is as it should be. To dismiss their rhetoric based on my cynicism would really miss the point.

I won't believe it until I see it, but if the Republican party will stand up for opportunity for all of us, they will earn my respect. 08/01/00

Rebecca Blood Predicts: Laura Bush is going to have to change her hair. As soon as the image-makers get hold of her it will start to happen. Remember how many hairdos Hillary had to go through during the first campaign? For that matter, remember when she had to bake that pie, or whatever it was? We've come a long way, baby, we really have, but then pie-baking rears its ugly head. I think I would have refused. I really think I would have. 08/01/00

Advertising Gone Amok Redux: Bryan offers this simple solution to the problem of fighting the encroachment of advertising onto every available space: carry duct tape. It's a crazy plan, but it just might work.

Rebecca Blood Predicts: advertisers are either killing the goose that lays the golden eggs by making consumers oblivious to all ads everywhere, or ushering in a golden age of advertising, as agencies are forced to create more and more compelling ads in order to make themselves even visible in an advertising-saturated environment. 08/01/00

India's Top Bandit kidnaps the nation's Most Beloved Film Star 08/01/00

Phil Agre is repeating his cheap pen deal. If you send him a check for US$20 made out to Amnesty International, he will send you an interesting cheap pen.

You may have heard about the arms race that's been going on between the doctors who have made a specialty of diagnosing the signs of torture and the torturers who have made a speciality of torturing people in ways that the doctors can't diagnose. I want the doctors to win, but that'll be tough. The big fashion in torture is to devise situations in which the victims inflict pain on themselves. These techniques have spread around the world.

Homosexuality is unacceptable? Homosexuality is. Get over it. 08/01/00

Story has it that women tend to lie about their age. Seems that pulsars do it, too.... 08/01/00

The Padaung once decorated their girls by putting brass rings around their necks, rings that elongated the neck and so weakened the muscles that their necks would collapse if the rings were to be removed. Hundreds of Padaung now live in Thailand where they are tolerated for their value as tourist attractions; tourist boat operators pay refugee Padaung girls--some starting at age 5-- a few dollars a month to wear the rings so that tourists can view the long-necked girls. Can you tell who is to blame for this situation? Do you think the tourists might be partially responsible? 08/01/00

Wrong Answer News: As companies demand more and more hours from their employees, individuals' personal lives are spinning increasingly out of control. Many companies are now offering a helping hand by providing their workers with concierge service, emergency baby-sitting, and take out meals.

'Companies are operating around the clock and workers are overwhelmed by the faster pace of work,' says Stephanie Pronk, manager of global health services for William Mercer, Inc., in Minneapolis. 'We've also been through a period of downsizing, and people need to accomplish more with fewer resources. Workers are stressed-out, and it's not enough to offer them free massages or classes in time management.'
Umm...wouldn't it be better to simply give the employees their personal time back? 08/01/00

Tell it to Tony Randall News: Men have a biological clock, too. 08/01/00

It's horrifying to awaken one morning thinking that you're too cynical only to find out on the very next day that you're not cynical enough.

Oh! And God Bless America! Wouldn't you think the crowd would tire of that? 08/02/00

'The main body representing Europe's 12m Gypsies wants the Roma people to be given recognition as a non-territorial nation, and says it will back this up with its own 'floating' parliament and embassies in various countries.' (via bird on a wire) 08/02/00

Prince Edward Island's storytelling gene. 08/02/00

Legendary editor William Maxwell is dead 08/02/00

Spinster (via metafilter--and thanks, Kevin!) 08/02/00

Harvard sues notHarvard. I don't know. That looks pretty clear to me.... 08/02/00

Despite the TrustE logo, it seems that four sites--ToysRUs, BabiesRUs, Lucy.com and Fusion.com--are sending their customers' personally identifiable information to marketing company Coremetrics, which then can follow them through over 40 other sites as they surf the web.

Not only does Coremetrics find out a customer’s name and address, it also knows what pages they visit on a site that uses their software and what goods they browse. It also tracks users between sites that use Coremetrics software — currently over 40 clients since their March launch, including Wal-Mart’s Web site.
Here's the opt-out page. 08/02/00

India has promised it will consider the demands of the bandit who kidnapped its most famous filmstar. 08/03/00

An international team of monster hunters has unveiled a giant trap for catching a giant serpent reputed to inhabit a lake in south Norway. 08/03/00

The US Postal Service is experimenting with email for all. Don't you think the Postal Service should offer an email service that 'washed' all your email, intercepting viruses? I'm sure people would gladly pay a fee for that. It could put them back on track.... 08/03/00

New research shows that when spider mites attack lima beans, the bean plants warn their mates. 08/03/00

Family life of a rebel Egyptian pharoah. 08/03/00

Are cell phone users increasingly annoying? Why yes, yes they are. One word: vibrate. 08/03/00

Oh, how I long to IEEEE PEEEE OOOOH. 08/03/00

Quitting smoking now greatly reduces your risk of lung cancer. 08/03/00

Monsanto announced today at an agricultural biotechnology symposium in Chennai, India, that it will provide royalty-free licenses for all of its technologies that can help further development of "golden rice" and other pro-vitamin A-enhanced rice varieties. 08/04/00

Turning Bugs Into Features News I: Bacteria pressed into service as living transistors (Thanks, Lizard!) 08/04/00

Turning Bugs Into Features News II: When naturalist Martyn Robinson moved to a damp suburb near Sydney, Australia, he enlisted the most reliable cleaner he could find to clean the mold from his shower: the pink slug. 08/04/00

I just finished watching the Republican Convention. These political conventions are a real piece of Americana, a genuine bit of folk culture. Even if you're uninterested in politics, they're worth watching just on that count.

It really was like the Disney version of a political convention, wasn't it? Extremely well crafted, perfectly orchestrated, not an element left to chance. Just a few more notes:
--I wasn't too impressed with Bush's acceptance speech; I think Clinton is a much better speaker
--McCain's endorsement was stunning. That and the inclusion of Cheney as VP will probably do more for Bush's chances to win than anything else.
--Cheney is the best choice I can think of for Bush's running mate. He has everything Bush lacks: experience, stability, experience on the world stage. A masterful stroke.
--Three minutes of Bob Dole's comments made me want to know him. With his career over he can say anything he wants (although he's still obviously a party man). But in those three minutes he said the smartest, wryest things of the entire four days.
--If Gore loses the Presidential race, he really has Clinton to blame--in large part--for that. Gore is absolutely hobbled in this race. Bush has decided to join Clinton and Gore at the hip; rarely will you hear the Republicans refer to the Democratic challenger as anything but 'Clinton-and-Gore.' Gore desperately needs to distance himself from Clinton the man, but he can't do that without looking disloyal. With every mention of the restoration of honor and dignity to the White House (and they were constant throughout the convention) I said out loud, "Poor Gore!" 08/04/00

Rebecca Blood Predicts: George P Bush--if he wants it--is a shoo-in as the third generation of the Bush political dynasty. He's handsome, he's engaging, he's a comfortable speaker, and he has a great presence. 08/04/00

Steve Talbott and Craig Holdrege provide a thoughtful look at golden rice and the little considered problems of GM foods. (Thanks, Carl!) 08/07/00

Big Tobacco cooperated with candy cigarette makers. 08/07/00

Sir Alec is dead. 08/07/00

Two retired German brewery employees will finally receive their just retirement compensation: beer for life. (Thanks, Tony!) 08/08/00

In the US, on the web, women outnumber men. Oh, and women prefer gender-neutral sites and many men like women's sites. To website wannabes everywhere: Stop putting all of us into little boxes! Content. It's the content, stupid. 08/08/00

In a little over a week, you will be able to bet $10 million with just one chip; meanwhile, New Jersey considers letting compulsive gamblers ban themselves from casinos. 08/08/00

Fish News I: Fish Stabs Man. 08/08/00

Fish News II: In Norfolk, UK Sunday, it rained fish 08/01/00


When the federal Americans with Disabilities Act passed, people here became suddenly aware of the many changes needed to make public places accessible to all people; now, as boomers begin caring for their ageing parents, the abstract concept of doing the right thing is transforming itself into all of the concrete things that must be done to maintain their parent's--and eventually their own--independence. Enter universal design. (Thanks, J!) 08/08/00

'Would you go to a doctor that used an amputated foot as bait in a crab trap?' The Public Citizen’s Health Research Group's annual report aims to see that you don't. 08/08/00

The Rules of Stud [via memepool] (thanks, J!) 08/08/00

HMOs Are Evil News: The won't cover pre-existing conditions, they delay or deny you treatment you need, and then they don't pay the doctors. 08/08/00

100 years after his death, Texas honors first local black peace officer killed in the line of duty in Texas. 08/10/00

Unintended Consequences News: If big business succeeds in persuading the courts to uphold their view that the Napster and DVD cases constitute copyright infringement, where will we go from there?

'Law is very vulnerable when it makes orders that don't get enforced,' said Charles Nesson, director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. 'Law consists of two things, the coercive power to impose a sanction on someone who violates it and the willingness of people to obey the law without actually putting it to the test. The more you undermine the credibility of law with the people who are governed by it, the more you need sanctions to keep order.'

High temperatures in California have been forcing utilities to apply rolling brownouts in an attempt to conserve fuel. But Seth Dunn has a different--and radical--solution: decentralize power. 08/10/00

The 1990 The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act requires museums across the country to return Native American remains to their tribes. Museums are willing to comply, but it's a little more complicated than that. 08/10/00

What has England been missing all these years? A tortilla factory. 08/10/00

You know those alpha-hydroxy creams that promise to make you look younger? They might hasten ageing. 08/10/00

The Rural Womyn Zone gives farm women, traditionally isolated, what they've always wanted: a virtual kitchen table. 08/10/00

I just want you to know that I'm still here, but unreliable surf speeds (read: slow) have made it impossible to update for the last few days. Let this be a sign unto you: if rebecca doesn't update, she's sitting somewhere waiting for a page to download. 08/16/00

Although LA police speak of containing crowds and preventing violence, it would seem they are using strong measures against peaceable demonstraters and bystanders...including giving concert-goers 15 minutes to disperse after leaving a rock show, and then shooting them in the back as they tried to run away. (thanks, adam!) 08/16/00

Bread News: A rare chemical capable of killing drug-resistant bacteria has been discovered in a strain of sourdough. (thanks, J!) 08/16/00

You know we're still bombing Iraq on a regular basis, don't you? Just a reminder.

On a related note, isn't it time to end economic sanctions against Iraq? I guess the US thought Saddam would capitulate when he witnessed the suffering of his people (of course, no one thought he would ever go hungry or do without medicine.) He hasn't, and whatever the end the US had hoped to achieve, clearly this is a failed policy, one that's causing incalculable suffering to innocent people, and it's time for it to stop. 08/16/00

Global warming may exacerbate your hay fever. 08/17/00

Web users consider the internet as an important source of quality information.

Some 55 percent of Internet users said 'most' or 'all' information in cyberspace is reliable and accurate, while only a third of non-users agreed.
'Most' or 'all'??????? Are these people on crack? 08/17/00

Worried about toxins in your environment? Introducing the paper nose. 08/17/00

I wish we'd sent help immediately, request or no request. Our submarine would have been nearby the minute the Russians decided they needed help.

And what if we were the ones who crashed into the Russian sub? Well, if that's what happened, we were right there at the moment we could have done the most good. We should have contacted the Russian government immediately (and/or radioed the sub itself) and made a public announcement to the world, expressing our remorse for the accident and our willingness to do whatever necessary to rescue the men aboard. Political disaster? Who cares? I think it would have been a step toward restoring honor and decency to the (non-partisan) character of the US government. 08/17/00

Here's an update on the saga of the Indian actor and the bandit king. (via robot wisdom) 08/17/00

You want to keep that hot bod, baybee? Get some sleep. 08/17/00

'A chemical analysis of three brands of ice cream, including Ben & Jerry’s, reveals that they contain dioxins in levels that are approximately 2,200 times greater than what is allowed in wastewater discharged by a gasoline refinery.' 08/18/00

'A Brazilian Indian tribe thought to have been extinct for nearly 100 years has resurfaced deep within the Amazon jungle, coming forward to protest creation of a national park on their land, government officials said on Thursday.'

Personally, I think they should let them stay. They are clearly not taking up much space or making any sort of a ruckus. Besides, they were there first. 08/18/00

Scientists from Duke University have saturated an area of forest with carbon dioxide every day for the last four years in order to ascertain the probable effects of global warming on plant life. The results? Some pines and hardwoods thrive, although it remains to be seen whether the soil can sustain their growth levels. 08/18/00

Spanish chimps with a bit of leisure time have begun mashing their food before eating it, apparently because of an aesthetic preference for the result. 08/18/00

As employers strive to wring every last drop of 'productivity' out of their workers, the lunch break is going the way of the dinosaurs. 08/22/00

Thomas Day was a free black slaveowner who, by 1850, had the largest cabinet-making business in North Carolina. His workshop is being restored. (His story points to one of the lessons of power: people will judge you less by your difference to them, than by the size of your stake in their status quo.) 08/22/00

Escaping the Matrix. The United States an imperialist force? Say it ain't so! (This is a long article, and I can pretty much guarantee that, whatever your political stance, you won't agree with part of it. But give it a ride, consider its ideas as a thought experiment.) 08/22/00

Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey create detailed pictures by controlling the amount of light that hits grass as it grows; David Kremers paints pictures by growing bacteria. As these artists explore the ways in which living materials and scientific techniques can help them understand the human condition, they are transforming the ways in which scientists see the world. 08/23/00

DaVinci's parachute flies. 08/23/00

Like many devout Christians before them, more and more American Muslim families are turning to home schooling.

'The public school system is not accommodating to Muslims,' says Saleem... Islam requires its practitioners pray five times a day, which means interrupting the school schedule, and emphasizes modesty. 'The girls get a lot of flack from their peers for having to cover up funny and boys sometimes try to pull off their covering,' explains Saleem. She says teachers sometimes penalize girls who are quiet in class, unaware that in conservative Muslim families they are taught not to speak in mixed sex society.

More Family Values News: After a 21-year-old Georgia woman gave birth to a baby by a thirteen-year-old boy she did the honorable thing and married the young man. Now, with the baby as evidence that they had sex before they were married, she has been charged with statutory rape. Clearly someone in this situation should have been home-schooled. 08/23/00

No Family Values. None: Aid group World Vision has discovered in a survey that many officials in the Cambodian ministry of tourism--half of whom said that they thought a child aged 14–17 was legally mature--admit to have been involved in the sex-tourism trade. In Cambodia's main tourist centers, 3/4 of the 68 children questioned said they had had sexual relations with tourists. May I just remind tourists everywhere to bring their family values with them whenever they travel? 08/23/00

Imagine two queens looking at porno pictures, graying out the actual subjects, and then dissing on the decor of the rooms the pictures were taken in. Do not miss this site.

Amateur porn photography is one of the rare instances where everyday people expose their naked bodies to the public. Seeing your neighbors nude my be shocking, we, however, are more frequently disturbed by the gross display of amateur interior design found in these photos.
(thanks, Lizard!) 08/23/00

Interesting. Boycaught asks: 'You are about to be put into a time machine and sent back 1,100 years, never to return. You must make your way in a hostile, alien environment, armed only with your wits and three books. You can choose any books you like -- as long as you've actually read them sometime in the last five years. What three books do you take?' Randomwalks responds with his own list.

My approach seems a bit different:
Everyman's Talmud, Cohen and Neusner
The I Ching, Wilhelm and Baynes
The Riverside Shakespeare, Shakespeare

If I have to pick three books I've read in full in the last five years, I'll have to start again, of course.... 08/24/00

In partnership with the Global Environmental Facility, The World Bank has created the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund to 'focus primarily on threatened regions where some 60 percent of all terrestrial species are found, helping achieve better coordination of local efforts to protect those areas.' 08/24/00

The Aguaruna Indians, natives of the Amazon region of the Peruvian rainforest, are renowned for their sophisticated and effective use of native plants to heal disease. On a hunch, two University professors collected samples from 1250 local plants and their tests show that 46% of them contain substances that fight tuberculosis, which kills more people every year than any other infectious disease. 08/24/00

Geek News: 4,000 people are competing in this year's World Mind Sports Olympiad in competitions ranging from Memory Skills (the world record is 316 consecutive numbers memorised in five minutes) to Creative Thinking Championships (tasks include redesigning Europe in such a way as to eliminate disease, poverty, ethnic conflict and bad weather); anyone of any age can compete in as many categories as they like, or just sign up to learn.

I spent a happy hour being initiated into the mysteries of Othello by Aubrey de Grey, chairman of the British Othello Federation. 'It's an extremely subtle game,' enthused de Grey, 37, who has been playing for 22 years. 'And to be perfectly honest,' he told me, 'You're not playing it very well.'

Beware the aging Barbie Doll!
The joints that seep and poison ooze,
Beware the unknown sleeping bear!
Which poked and poked will not but snooze.

Public School is Scary News: The fallout from Columbine continues. The Secret Service has designed a program to help school administrators predict which of their students may become violent, but psychiatrists and educators worry that such programs will simply exacerbate the harrassment of those who don't fit in. Read the sidebar at the end of this story to learn how panicked and very controlling school authorities can be. 08/24/00

Home Schooling is Scary News: Home schooling may offer academic and cultural benefits, unless administered by the hyper-parent. 08/24/00

comments? questions? rebecca blood

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