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december 2000
A Day With(out) Weblogs. 12/01/00

The largest adolescent-health study ever conducted in the United States has concluded that generally accepted risk factors account for only 5% of high-risk behavior in teens. The real culprits? Failure in school and excessive unsupervised time spent with friends.

Among the approximate 25 risk factors that investigators examined--including working 20 hours a week and being raped or sexually abused--problems with schoolwork are the most serious.... Rather than viewing bad grades as symptomatic of a larger problem, grades themselves need to be addressed, and promptly, Blum said.

'French and Kenyan scientists have unearthed fossilized remains of mankindís earliest known ancestor that predate previous discoveries by more than 1.5 million years, the team announced today'

'Not only is this find older than any else previously known, it is also in a more advanced stage of evolution,' palaeontologist Martin Pickford told a news conference.

In a bid for the 2008 Olympic Games, Beijing is improving its public toilets.

For example, four-star toilets should have granite floors, sufficient lighting, lively music, facilities to wash hands, tissues, automatic flush, hand dryers and bathrooms specially designed for disabled and old people.
mmmm....lively music. 12/04/00

The banana seat, the cab-over-engine truck, and the fabulous pursuit plane were all designed by one of last century's preeminent designers, Viktor Schreckengost, finally recognized in the Cleveland Museum retrospective of his work. It's fun and amazing, and not to be missed.

'I didn't understand why wealthy people were the only ones who could have good design,' Schreckengost says. 'I thought if we could make millions of something, everybody could afford it. It didn't cost any more to make it right than to make junk.'... The sheer catalogue of objects he created is almost numbing. He tells a story about keeping track one day on his way to work of how many objects he saw that he had designed: the tally was 32.

An individual who needs to spend extravagant amounts of money to have someone else manufacture a unique experience for him doesn't have the imagination God gave little birds.

'Experience collecting' has replaced accumulating things...The harder that experience is to come by, the more desirable it becomes....their bike tours...engineer...what he calls 'wow moments.' He'll warn a friendly vintner that a Butterfield & Robinson group will be bicycling past his Loire Valley vineyard mid-afternoon. The accommodating Frenchman will then invite the cyclists to help him pick grapes.

GOP faithful in Washington State are hopping mad that $1.5 million of their contributions were not spent to persuade 2000-odd more voters to vote for Slade Gorton. The state Republican Chairman did buy a nice office building, though. 12/07/00

When Justin Meyer's mother received a $174,000 settlement in the death of her son, his deadbeat dad got half of the estate. For a minute. 12/07/00

In Montana, someone has managed to reduce the meaning of Christmas to Santa Claus, and then strip that of magic. 12/07/00

Does this look to anyone else like an advertisement for a really, really bad sitcom? Oh, wait. 12/07/00


One of the floppy panda's surprising fans is the Japanese businessman. Stressed out and exhausted by the continuing recession, the long over-worked salaryman is said to take comfort in the relaxed face and posture of the panda.
Check out the rest of the 'Big in Japan' page - tons of interesting stuff. (found two clicks down from mr pants) 12/08/00

Colonel Klink Is Dead. Did you know that Werner Klemperer was a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany? 12/08/00

Grrrl News: 'Fifty women bared their buttocks in protest at the seizure of land in Swaziland, Africa's last absolute monarchy, by the brother of King Mswati III. The sight of a woman's buttocks is a strong insult in Swazi culture.' (via the guardian weblog) 12/08/00

Received in email today: 'that heather sure is a top gal.' Why yes, yes she is. For a million reasons, among them, helping me stuff my favorite stocking this year. 12/11/00

Hunter Kelly Russell was shot by his dog Stinky while tracking wild pigs. Really. And make special note of the illustration accompanying this story. (Thanks, Danny!) 12/12/00

Voter fraud in the USA? The preponderance of the problem lies more with the problems attending various voting technologies. (Thanks, Jim!) 12/12/00

Attorney Joseph Klock should have followed the advice commonly given to those arguing cases before the US Supreme Court: if you're not sure of a justice's name, don't use it.

First, Klock surprised everyone in the courtroom by referring to Justice John Paul Stevens as 'Justice Brennan,' apparently referring to Justice William Brennan, who retired from the Supreme Court in 1990 and died in 1997.... [later] Klock referred to David Souter as 'Justice Breyer,' referring to another of the courtís justices, Stephen Breyer.

'Iím Justice Souter,' came the reply from the bench. 'Youíd better give that up.'

The striking workers of the Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer have banded together to continue doing their jobs with the Seattle Union Record. I was just noticing what a nice page it is. Easy to navigate, news headlines with brief summaries, providing me with same exact experience I have with a newspaper: I scan the headline and the first paragraph to see if I want to read the rest of the story. I wish the major news outlets would take a lesson from this site. 12/13/00

I'm a little disappointed; I thought our Constitution was designed to protect us from just this sort of power grab. I guess no constitution can stop time. And I suppose that we'll survive four years with Cheney at the steering wheel; it's certainly a better prospect than if GWB were trying to run things himself.

Actually, I'm pretty angry. 12/13/00

Here are two amazing pictures I wanted you to see. 12/13/00

So, until ABCNews.com gets rid of that evil popup advert on their front page, I suggest you go to their quick news page if you want to patronize them. 12/13/00

'Itís against federal law for employers to exclude contraceptives from their health insurance plans when they cover other preventive treatments, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Wednesday.' Never mind the Viagra angle. Has anyone ever heard of a health insurance plan that didn't cover pregnancy and well baby care? And the comparative cost of those things would be.... I would think it would have been in the insurance company's economic interests to do this long ago. 12/15/00

I forgot to mention the surprise I received last week. Out of the blue, a package from amazon arrived with my name on it. Sent by that sweetest of men Dan, just because. I'm looking forward to passing the kindness forward.... (oh, and here is his ingenious plan for buying a stranger something that is not on their wishlist.) 12/15/00

Mob sperm illegally smuggled from prison. 12/15/00

The Guardian asks an interesting question: past periods of wide political division in the US were the result of great civil unease. This election has uncovered a vast cultural division between Americans, but what is the cause? 12/15/00

AR Connor was drinking a nice glass of water while the trees he had bulldozed, burned, when suddenly a WWII rocket he had uncovered exploded. 12/15/00

Can you get your hands on the January Harpers? I cannot agree more strongly with Lewis Lapham in his current Notebook:

Unexpectedly, and against the grain of my own sarcasm, I was as moved as I was impressed by the sight of the precinct workers holding paper ballots up to the light, looking to see whether the chad was dimpled or bulged, hanging by two threads or three. The tactical circumstance obligated the Republican strategists to scorn them for their 'shenanigans' and to mock them for their innocence. Mere human beings, said Mr Baker and Mr Bush, imperfect and subjective, incapable of meeting the uniform standards of the machine. The assertion served its expedient purpose, but the condescension missed the point. Democracy isn't made by a machine; it is made with the wit and courage of citizens willing to undertake, for low pay and no credit, a tedious and time-consuming search for a straight answer in a little square of perforated light.

Oh, I wish they would do this wherever I may be! Local businesses in Oxford Street, London, want to create a speed lane where slow-walking pedestrians would be fined. 12/19/00

Bad News/Good News: An instructor at a military shooting range ordered members of the South African National Defense Forceís National Ceremonial Guard to shoot targets depicting black leaders; they refused. 12/19/00

'Mayor Roman Cruz Mejia likes new President Vicente Fox's promises to reduce corruption and improve services to Mexicans. But he knows that Fox doesn't have the money to turn all his promises into deeds. So here in this pretty valley city south of the capital, famous for its December poinsettias, Cruz has taken matters into his own hands: He is printing his own money.' 12/19/00

What will the world tomorrow look like? According to the National Intelligence Council, AIDS, tuberculosis, and water will loom large in 2015; oh, and this little thing:

The very concept of 'belonging' to a particular state will probably erode [additionally] governments will have less and less control over flows of information, technology, diseases, migrants, arms and financial transactions, whether legal or illegal, across their borders.

Scottish scientists are ahead of the curve in response to the projected water shortages. Adding to the world's store of glowing green products, they've perfected a potato that will glow bright green when it needs water. 12/19/00

Have I ever mentioned that I have a tendency to imagine the worst thing that can happen to me, and either plan accordingly, or just kick back and enjoy the drama? For example, I have just completed a plan of action in case I learn that I have early-onset Alzheimers. (I may have to revise this one: my sister insists that it is deeply flawed.)

Last weekend I was enlisted to bring beer to a party. This being a novelty for me (not being a beer-drinker, I don't believe I've ever purchased it), my fantasy centered around the beverage I was carrying. I spent a delicious hour waiting/riding/walking to the party, imagining that I was mugged! on the way there, and that my assailants stole the beer. Would I gamely go back to buy more? Would I make my way on to the party, then stagger in, apologetic and a bit flustered by the experience? Like that.

I mention this only because I think I might have eaten some glass. 12/20/00

Placing on its head the common notion that Mayan cities consisted of a central palace surrounded by the have-nots, a team of archaeologists has proposed that Mayan cities instead followed a pattern similar to modern urban models: a rich central district, poor surroundings, and well-to-do suburbs. [NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket] 12/20/00

Equity for women? Not quite yet. A new Gallup poll shows that the majority of Americans still prefer to have boys. 12/20/00

I always just sort of wonder what kind of man thinks that a woman will agree to abide by the result of a duel for her hand. Or why anyone would think she'd even be interested in either guy after they decided they could fight, and one of them would "win" her. 12/20/00

It's that time of year again. Happy Holidays to everyone, and my most heartfelt thanks for making this such a good year for me.

I'm taking a break for the holidays; please investigate my portal for a list of truly excellent weblogs to entertain you while I'm away. There should be something there to suit every taste and fancy.

I hope your year has been a full of joy as mine has been. I'll be back in the New Year.

Much love to all of you,
rcb     12/22/00

Boys are the stronger sex, no? No. In fact, they require the same gentle care given to their sisters. 12/22/00

Though she's avoided any cockney inflections, over time Queen Elizabeth II's accent is becoming a little more common. 12/22/00

I found a site through my referrers last night that had all the male-edited weblogs in one column, and all the female-edited weblogs in another. The lists were of equal length, it's just that they were separate.

I've often noted that there is a difference between male and female weblogs, one I can't quite put my finger on. But it sure looked strange to see them separated like that.... 12/22/00