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september 2000
I've been an avid watcher of the weblog community since it became a phenomenon. I've been thinking lately of this history and its meaning. And I thought you might be interested in knowing why I think what I do here is important. 09/07/00

I'm back. Currently I'm in the midst of sorting, cleaning, cataloguing and putting away clothes, camping equipment, shade structure materials, and the like. I enjoyed Burning Man this year more than I did last year.

We shared space with the excellent Jessamyn; Oxymoron rode with us on the way, and it is largely thanks to him that our shade structure withstood the wind and rain mid-week. Once again we camped next to Canadians: Carl, Lesley, Charley, Wolfgang, and others whose names I never learned.

It was a tossup as to whether Charley or Wolfgang was the glam portion of the Canadian crew. I loved Charley's buoyancy, but Wolfgang has the quality of throwing his heart into your lap every time he speaks to you, and you know I can't resist that.

On Canadians: are they really all as sweet as they seem to me, or am I just misreading some cultural cue and completely missing an edge that is obvious to all of them? Surely a people can't be that consistently sweet? 09/07/00

Oh, how moviefone has ruined itself. What a terrible new design. 09/07/00

õ Sheep running comes to Montana, ringing with the inspiring cry: 'Look out, the sheep are coming!!' 09/08/00

I came back home really looking forward to velvet weather. It's been boiling hot here. As I understand it, the cool crisp days I love so much don't arrive in San Francisco until October. 09/08/00

Hotwheels esta el nuevo beanie baby. 09/08/00

Remember that Tagish Lake meteorite? Well, it's made of something we've never before seen.... 09/08/00

All aboard the drug-smuggling sub! 09/08/00

Antibacterial soaps may create superbugs; besides, regular soap and water does the trick. 09/08/00

Maize maze is the new weblog. 09/08/00

Global warming? Yeah, for sure. 09/08/00

Moon for sale. $14/acre. 09/11/00

A scientist believes that tree rings around the world show that something happened 1500 years ago, something that changed the climate of the world significantly, and may have had profound effects on history and culture. Now he's asking historians to search the records for some indication of the catastrophic event led to the dark ages. 09/11/00

'Surgeons wearing bulletproof vests gingerly removed a live grenade from the leg of a Russian soldier wounded in Chechnya, doctors said Monday.' (NY Times, free registration required) 09/11/00

Scientists have discovered the genesis of the singing saw. 09/11/00

Scientists and looters have ignored the site for years; without burial sites and temples it seemed devoid of any real historical merit. But when archaeologists began work on what they thought was a small palace, they discovered the lost city of Cancuen.

'All of the fantastic temples you see at other sites are an effort to copy the altitude of the highlands that surrounded Cancuen,' said Demerest, who explained that being close to the heavens was the cornerstone of Mayan religious practices. 'In Cancuen they had the real thing.'

George W Bush is entering the twentieth century with his cutting edge new campaign ad which seeks to persuade through subliminal messages. 09/12/00

We're poisoning our kids, toxins report says. 09/12/00

British doctors have begun human trials on a new AIDS vaccine, developed based on analysis of the blood of a number of mysteriously immune prostitutes in Kenya. The first test subject: a member of Parliament.

(ten points to anyone who can guess who contributed this link and text) 09/12/00

Doctors studying anarchic hand syndrome, in which one hand acts independent of the individual's intent, believe that they have a window into the workings of free will.

They often refer to the feeling that one of their hands behaves as if it has its own will but never deny that this capricious hand is part of their own body.

Marketers and manufacturers are employing a new method to make you buy their goods: by monitoring your brainwaves. 09/12/00

A recent phony news release sent Emulex Corp stock prices plumetting. Wayne Rash warns that such misplaced trust and uncritical reaction is an avoidable and inexcusable result of 'internet time.' He has a good point.

But uncritical thinking has been the bane of the masses long before the web: for decades Joey Skaggs has been confronting Americans about their actions and attitudes by duping a reactive and gullible American press and public. (via tomalak and the lizard.) 09/13/00

Despite their considerable achievements, female athletes are lauded by society by one standard: their looks.

'Mary Pierce was quite vilified by the media for coming into Wimbledon looking quite muscular because she'd been working out in the gym to get stronger for her sport.... Whereas Anna Kournikova was held up as an exemplary role model for young women tennis players. This is a woman who got knocked out very early on in the tournament but she is being held up and exalted because she conforms to the stereotypical idea of femininity.'

Dr Choi said there were a number of reasons for such stereotyping:

- men largely controlling media output;
- women's fear of not conforming to society's expectations;
- and the influence of sponsorship deals on women athletes.

I can answer this riddle: you're both very very badly to blame. 09/13/00

The news is bad: violent entertainment causes aggression. 09/13/00

Happy Birthday, Big O! 09/13/00

Grrrl News: Two words: grrrl gladiator 09/13/00

If you're Dutch and you're of age, you can get married. Three cheers for the Dutch! 09/13/00

But does subliminal advertising work? More importantly, does the Ritz cracker really say SEX? 09/13/00

I spent a very enjoyable evening last night in the company of friends. It is no reflection on the program that the most memorable moment of the evening occured after placing our order for food. The cook, a rather large man with a very forbidding expression, replaced the menu on the ledge in front of him (I guess he had stopped taking orders for a few minutes) and then the tip jar, knocking it onto the floor in doing so. One of my friends picked it up and put it on the counter. He picked it up and threw it back onto the floor. Oh my.

When the New Yorker we were with suggested that we wait outside, I decided that the situation really was as uncomfortable as I thought it was. 09/14/00

The Electronic Privacy Information Center and Junkbusters have ended their affiliate programs with Amazon after Amazon revealed that they consider your personal information to be one of their assets, to be shared or sold as they desire.

EPIC and other privacy groups criticized Amazon this month when the bookseller told customers that it considered customer information to be a company asset that can be sold if Amazon goes out of business. It also stopped letting customers opt out of having their personal information shared with marketing companies and retailers partnered with Amazon.
You know, this policy--honest though it is, and reflective of the realities of most commercial websites' intentions--still makes me really mad. I keep trying to think what I can do about it. That is, after all, my information, information about me. If anyone should make money off of selling it, I should. 09/14/00

Lovely News: For a month, a hazardous waste landfill in San Francisco has been smouldering from an underground fire, cause unknown. It took the Navy two weeks to report it to the EPA, and the fire is still going. 09/14/00

I wonder what the father's punishment is? 09/15/00

Well, you must read Mr Pants' toilet story which takes place in san francisco, not in japan. It's the middle column. You probably should then scroll up and read all the rest of the page. You should probably just always read Mr Pants. 09/15/00

Hard Justice News: 'A mother who pleaded guilty to driving without strapping her 3-year-old daughter in a safety seat was ordered to write the girl's obituary -- even though the youngster is alive.' 09/15/00

The National Imagery and Mapping Agency is using interferometry radar scans from the space shuttle Endeavor to create the most detailed map of the earth ever known. 09/18/00

Little girls are growing up too fast.

'Being Britney Spears would be nice because you could wear a bikini without a big, fat tummy sticking out all over the place,' one third-grade girl told researchers.
That quote makes me want to cry. 09/18/00

Home Schooling Reason # 432 News: Day cares are perfect microenvironments for propagating antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The solution? (People living in rich countries take special note:) Take antibiotics only when necessary.

Antibiotic treatment in one child rapidly induced resistant-antibiotic traits among bacteria harbored in the noses and throats of the other children, Dagan reported here at a meeting of the American Society for Microbiology....

Within individual day-care centers, resistant strains were similar, suggesting that each day-care center is its own microenvironment.... Moreover, the researchers detected the same resistant strep strains in siblings of attendees, suggesting that resistance could easily spread beyond the confines of the center.

Bacteria-of-all-types Fighting News: Wash your hands! 15 seconds, any temperature, every time. 09/18/00

Don't drink and swim handcuffed. 09/18/00

Caveat emptor. The observer influences the event. Who is in your online support group, and what might they publish about you?

David Snowball, professor of speech communication at Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., said he was surprised when students proposed to eavesdrop on a support group and create fake traumas for the group to consider.

He was even more surprised when he learned the students got the idea from other faculty members, who believed the practice was OK because participants would probably never know.

We certainly need to decide whether we want to pursue the creation of GM foods. But even before that happens, we need always to know when we are eating them. 09/18/00

Underfunded police departments everywhere: when dollars run low, create some crime. 09/18/00

Read about the new SFO terminal (cool earthquake proofing) and especially about the selection process for the design. Intrigue, mystery, and some uncommon sense.

'Sometimes we talked to the head janitor who brings out the bucket every time it rains because the architect's roof leaks,' he said. 'We talked to the accountants (to) see if they nickeled and dimed the client, how honest their billing invoices are.'

'You never talk about nickel and diming in a presentation or an interview.'

Fashion Talk: I was looking at a magazine containing some examples of how to dress to minimize figure flaws. One spread showed how to dress if you're short ('long lines create the illusion of height'); another showed how to dress if you're tall ('Suzanne plays down her height by....')

Now. I'm 5' 9 1/2". Pretty tall. I don't think I own a shoe that doesn't add at least a couple of inches to my height. Well, I'm tall. I know I'm tall, I know other people know I'm tall, I accept that I'm tall, and I sort of like it. So, to sum up my attitude: I'm tall, watch me get taller!

It's the same thing with bras. Look at bras in a cup size A, B, or C, and you'll find a large number that promise to make you look a size larger. Look at the D bras: suddenly they promise to make you look a size smaller. Do you see where this is going? The fashion industry really doesn't believe in an ideal woman.

And they're wrong: we are beautiful because of the ways in which we are distinct. 09/18/00

And what's the latest craze to hit Japan? Why singing black gospel music, of course.

'I have 60-year-old Japanese grandmothers who want to sing the music of the African-American Christian worship experience. They're all smitten with the power of it. Sometimes they cry when they hear gospel being sung, even though they can't understand the English,' Mr. Rucker said.

That's what persuaded Mr. Kennedy to go to Osaka last year and help one of his former workshop students start the Harlem Japanese Gospel Choir-Osaka, a group of more than 30 devotees who, dressed in kimonos, tour Japan and the United States singing black gospel hymns.

Some scumbag is circulating letters to elderly black people promising them 'slave reparations' if they register with the 'National Victims Registrar' in Washington. 09/19/00

'The Intihuatana, a stone sundial in Peru's famed Inca ruins of Machu Picchu, has stood since pre-Columbian times as a symbol for an ancient people ó that is, until a camera crew filming a beer ad broke it'. (Followup: here's the ad agency press release regarding the incident. Thanks to alert reader Steve for the link.) 09/19/00

It seems that Gore has been telling a personal anecdote to illustrate the ridiculous pricing practices of pharmaceuticals. Problem is, in the story he cites his dog and his mother-in-law, and then uses numbers generated from a federal study in comparing the costs of their medicines. The Gore camp insists that the actual numbers are very close the the ones in the study, but Bush is very concerned.

'Thatís very troubling for the people of America,' Bush spokeswoman Karen Hughes said today. 'I for one know I want to be able to trust the credibility of the next president of the United States. And someone whoís willing to make up numbers about their mother in law and their dog and their prescription medicine, I think thatís alarming.'
Point taken, but: alarming? I for one know I want to be able to trust the president of the United States to keep his head in situations like this one. 09/19/00

Mais, Oui News: Allow me to introduce the glowing green mutant rabbit. For some reason, scientists think this is frivolous. 09/19/00

For the first time, a U.N. report on women's equality tallies one factor that might get people to take notice: economic consequences. (thanks, J!) 09/21/00

Concerned about the treatment of farm animals? Now you can look for the free farmed label, certifying that the animals and animal products you are consuming are from animals that have been treated with a level of care that far exceeds standard farm-factory conditions employed by most producers. This doesn't ensure that they have free-range conditions, (chickens may still be kept inside, but with more space), but much commonplace cruelty has been eliminated.

I so often hear people scoff at the idea of treating well an animal that has been raised to be slaughtered; what does it matter, they ask? I think it matters very much. An animal that is producing food for human consumption is due our greatest gratitude and respect: it is, after all, being sacrificed in order to keep us alive.

It doesn't matter how harsh the natural world may be. How we treat others--individuals, groups, and things--represents our level of civilization, our own advancement from the world of unconsidered reaction to self-awareness and self-determination.

Treating others well seems to me to be a matter of self-respect. 09/21/00

Point: 'UK researchers claim to have found sharply higher cancer rates in power lines cause cancer totalling the road kill of britain'.

Counterpoint: 'The UK Childhood Cancer Survey ... found no association between children who fell ill and the strength of electromagnetic fields in their homes.' 09/21/00

When Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Virginia received the emergency signal indicating that an airplane was down, everything went as planned: the Civil Air Patrol prepared for action while the FAA located the source of the signal, identifying it as a Jumbotron. The Jumbotron turned out to be a Saco Smartvision scoreboard, being tested in preparation for its debut Saturday during the Alabama-Arkansas game. 09/21/00

In the last couple of weeks I've found a couple of referrers in my logs for 'necked girls'. Now, I admit that I walk around quite openly necked when I'm in my apartment, but I don't recall ever mentioning that fact here.... 09/22/00

The streams of Hampshire, UK have been managed for centuries, starting with the Roman-built mills, through the nineteenth century when George Edward Mackenzie Skues invented fly-fishing here, to the present day intensive management designed to optimize the waters for trout. Now a local conservation agency has decreed that three-mile stretch of the River Itchen must to exist untouched by human intervention, and members of the Abbotts Barton fishery are up at arms. 09/22/00

'Dried plum' is the new prune. Really, it's the old prune, too, isn't it? 09/22/00

Breeding pandas is a tricky business, even in the wild. Their requirements are enormous, and zoo life is decidedly unconducive to panda romance. But after three years of diligent effort, the staff of the San Diego Zoo has managed to increase the world's population of pandas by one.

...long before any other mammal would consider it time to be born, out pops a half-developed creature, four or five ounces of blind helplessness to be cared for by a 200-pound momma, who, if she is not extraordinarily gentle and devoted, can easily crush her newborn. If human mothers and babies had the same weight ratio, a 120-pound woman would give birth to a two-and-a-half-ounce baby. Or, put another way, the mother of a seven-and-a-half- pound baby would weigh about 6,000 pounds.

When Amy Jaffe Barzach lost her infant son to a disease that would have confined him to a wheelchair if he had survived, she and her husband decided to create a lasting legacy to his memory by creating playgrounds that can be enjoyed by children at all levels of ability. Her organization, Boundless Playgrounds, is just taking off. 09/22/00

Lamb and lentil stew, watercress and goat cheese salad with cherry vinaigrette, olives, figs, fennel tart... Scholars at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology have recreated King Midas' funeral feast based on the analysis of its actual remains.

The museum...is hoping to turn the menu of the Midas feast to gold by offering it as authentic royal banquet fare to banks, law firms and other possible donors. 'Today, we need to find creative ways to connect our research to the public,' said museum director Jeremy Sabloff. 'This is one of them.'

The iceman drippeth. 09/25/00

A Japanese scientist placed four volunteers in goggles that reversed their vision and then monitored their movements and brains to see how they adapted. At first they were dizzy and nauseous, but within a month they were able to ride bikes.

He detected most activity in a region of the brainís frontal lobe, known for creating mental pictures from outside input. That finding, he says, suggests the brain, rather than 'knowing' visual input is wrong and constantly adjusting, instead starts imagining the world according to the new vision.
Let's all try this at home, without goggles. Create your most beautiful vision and then begin re-imagining your world.... 09/25/00

The Behind the Curtain Project is up, and I definitely recommend that you spend some time there. I've only had time to browse a fraction of the entries, but I'm very impressed with the quality of the photographs and narratives. I've linked it on my portal for your continued viewing pleasure. 09/26/00

An individual loses 2 1/2 times her ability to distinguish visual contrast between the ages of 20 and 60. It's going to happen to you, too. Fortunately, South Mall Towers, a study site for the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, is working to create lighting to keep our elders safe and productive. 09/26/00

Where does lost luggage go? To Alabama, to be sold, of course. 09/26/00

This week 3000 industry professionals convened to learn more effective techniques for marketing to children and to celebrate those examples they consider to be the finest of the genre. Outside, demonstrators were rather less happy.

The demonstrators expressed particular alarm over the early age at which advertisers now target kids, mentioning industry reports that proclaim children as young as 18 months psychologically available for marketing.

'For little kids, the world is what they see, and they can't distinguish between an ad, a TV show and reality' said Nancy Carlsson-Paige, professor of education at Lesley College and mother of screen actor Matt Damon. Carlsson-Paige cited research showning that until the age of seven, children cannot differentiate between commercials and shows. "All they see is something colorful to watch, so they're desensitized to ads before they even learn to put them into context.'

The senate is focusing on just one part of the equation: it seems it's not simply what children see, but how and where they see it.

As more of the machines find their way into children's rooms, 'the whole pattern of use of mass media works to isolate children from adults,' said William Damon, director of the Stanford University Center on Adolescence....

As recently as a few decades ago, most children did not have their own bedrooms, let alone the electronic isolation available to today's teenagers. Among children ages 8 to 18...65 percent have TV's in their bedrooms, 45 percent have video game players, and 21 percent have computers there.

Paper towels make a tastier pizza topping. 09/26/00

Kaycee is 19. She and her family need your help. 09/27/00

Life in These Times News: Webvan has been unresponsive to my emails requesting information (I got one back saying they would forward it to the appropriate person, but otherwise I've been ignored.) So today I thought I'd try the chat utility when a question came up. It quickly became clear that I had entered Surreality Junction:

Webvan: Hello rcb, how may I help you today?
rcb: I have a question about the clorox regular bleach: is it ultra bleach? all the others *say* ultra bleach, but this one says regular. on the other hand, the picture is of a bottle of ultra bleach (I want the regular non-ultra bleach).
Webvan: If you have clicked on the link and it shows the ultra bleach then it will include the bleach.
rcb: I don't quite understand your answer: the product will be as the picture shows it, regardless of what the description says? let me ask a different way: does Webvan carry any type of regular (not ultra) bleach?
Webvan: What city are you chatting from?
rcb: san francisco
Webvan: Okay. Hold please as we verify the information.
Chat is on hold
Chat is off hold
Webvan: Have you typed in bleach in the search field?
Webvan: We do carry the regular one.
rcb: do you know which brand?
Webvan: Clorox Regular.
rcb: okay, thanks. may I ask another question?
Webvan: Okay?
rcb: will sf be getting torrafazione coffee in again, and is it whole bean?
Webvan: If you order it and the bleach is incorrect you can return it to the courier and he or she will credit your account.
Webvan: Hold please as we check.
Chat is on hold
Chat is off hold
Webvan: They are grounded.
rcb: okay, thanks for your help.
Webvan: Is there anything else I can assist you with today?
rcb: no, that's it. thanks.
Webvan: Bye! Thanks for chatting!

I have a strong feeling that Webvan has transformed AOLiza into Webvanina to handle their queries. I can't speculate on the coffee's transgression. All bets are off as to whether I'll get the bleach I want. 09/28/00

Size does matter (Thanks, J!) 09/28/00

comments? questions? rebecca blood

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