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.: 2001 --> january

january 2001
Happy New Year!

Back from a lovely holiday with family, followed by a short stay with goth photographer sebastian and the lovely Alaine (maintainers of the best-appointed guest bathroom I've had the pleasure to experience anywhere). Spent some time with the estimable Jessamyn, Jokerrrr, Dot, Mr O'Hadaar O'Aly, a few Braxtons, and others. It was good to be back.

I'll resume regular updates tomorrow. 01/03/01

Here's another brilliant innovation from the Guardian: their top ten Newslist, which not only lists the top stories of the day, but links you to numerous articles about each. The Guardian: just about the only commercial news outlet on the web today that actually understands it. I just want to go work for them. (Read it regularly via my portal page.) 01/04/01

A German woman has fallen in love with a death row inmate after seeing his face in a Benetton ad. There is some hope, though; the North Carolina Legislature may consider a bill which would bar execution of people with IQs of 70 or below. 01/04/01

Ever heard of fragrant meat? Nope, me neither. But Taiwan has banned it. 01/04/01

This rocks! Amazon will allow you to donate to Habitat for Humanity, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, and Operation Santa Claus with their charity wishlists. 01/04/01

Where can you find unbiased reporting on Jerusalem? Well, you can't. But you can identify the bias of your source. For example, does the reporter refer to The West Bank or the Occupied Territories? (via IFRA Trend Report) 01/04/01

Your ovaries protect you from Parkinson's Disease. (via swallowing tacks) 01/04/01

The latest craze to sweep the web: Internet Karaoke. (via Newsscan) 01/05/01

How best to track a dissident? Why, spray them with a radioactive solution and then track them with a portable geiger counter, of course. 01/05/01

Guess again! Actually, decreasing your salt intake does lower your blood pressure. 01/05/01

Ridiculous News: A group of currently healthy West Virginia smokers are bringing a class action suit against several tobacco companies demanding that they pay for preventive medical monitoring. In the first place, I don't believe that anyone who has lived in the US since, say, the 60s is unaware of the risks of smoking cigarettes; further, I would think that in order for these people to have even one leg to stand on - which they don't, in my opinion - they would have to at least quit. 01/05/01

Don't miss Nice-N-Fun's brilliant wishlist. (via metascene). 01/05/01

I guess you've all seen the story about the 16-year-old girl whose parents are getting her breast implants so that she can be successful in life as a...well, she hasn't decided yet. 01/05/01

Question of the Day: what are the best free things to do in San Francisco? 01/08/01

For your reading pleasure I herewith present to you the best company profile ever. Where do I sign? 01/08/01

On a related note:

Dot-com death is here.
Workers return to their start:
Like some fries with that?
- sebastian 01/08/01

Dave points to two great environmental links: to combat the effects of pollution and global (or just city) warming, try installing a grass rooftop; and the effects of the automobile in the US. 01/08/01

It seems that descendants of black death survivors are more immune to HIV (thanks, sebastian!) 01/08/01

Not at Lunch News: Lizard sez, Chinese food or surgery photos? Josh takes it one step further with his fabulous new game: Chinese Food or Skin Condition? 01/08/01

We're working hard here at rebeccalabs to bring you a better pocket. Unfortunately, that means little time this week to surf the web. But, like every self-respecting workshop, rebeccalabs has elves, wonderful magical beings to bring you linky goodness even when we don't have time to. 01/09/01

ARGH! With Madonna thrashing Spears in the press, why this sudden possible love-fest? And why must we suffer as a result? Christina has a better voice than either of them. And why do I know these things? Please, kill me. - sebastian 01/09/01

Tiny Killer Shrimp! Catching the tiny aquarium killers is a rough job. And to the poor surgeon in this story? There are many, many things your mother warned you not to play with. Did you listen? No! Now you've gone and lost a finger. Go call your mother and tell her you love her. - sebastian 01/09/01

My wife and I saw the movie What Women Want a few days back. In it, the characters come up with a spot for Nike aimed at a women audience. The ad blew me away, but I really should have known better, because Nike helped write the ad. - Jim 01/09/01

Do you own gene patenting biotech companies? Sell. - sebastian 01/09/01

Let them eat chips! A natural diet that does more than all the antibiotics they're feeding the animals? Say it ain't so. Now, I'd be happy to suggest a vegetarian diet, but "bacon tastes goooood." - sebastian 01/09/01

Self-defense is an important aspect of modern common law, but we don't go around advertising it nor endorse the killing of public officials. I mean, *really*. - sebastian 01/09/01

The Emperor's New Clothes 'Sorry, we were wrong! Nobody hacked us. Hope we didn't upset anyone... Say, is it cool in here?' - Jim 01/10/01

What a piece of work is man! How rather like a patchwork quilt in evolution, quite interesting if you think about it. - sebastian. 01/10/01

Lesson for the day. If you're going to steal something unique like a WEDDING DRESS, don't have your picture in the paper. Duh. - sebastian. 01/10/01

Monkey business. Shrink a habitat, the occupants move elsewhere. Now, where do we move when we shrink our own habitat? - sebastian. 01/10/01

It looks to me that this was an accident just waiting to happen. I doubt the Concordes will ever fly again. - Jim 01/10/01

Zebras like rabbits? Apparently, the government believes it would be a bad idea to allow this tame zebra to sow his oats. Suggestion? Sterilization. Ow. - Beeker. 01/10/01

They know when you're sleeping, they know when you're awake. Microsoft is planning antipiracy measures that include not allowing the software to run on any machine it wasn't first installed on. Now, Microsoft bashing aside, I don't fill out spam generation... um... "product registration" cards for any company. And Microsoft? Let me think. Um... no. - sebastian. 01/10/01

What's that sound? Oh, that would be thousands of photocopiers in Redmond simultaneously printing resumes. - sebastian. 01/10/01

Going, going, GONE! And your personal information, including credit card numbers, is for sale by failing dot-coms. Does this make you think a little? Have you checked out Amazon's (Lack Of) Privacy statement lately? - sebastian. 01/11/01

Guess what? Online internet selling is just like an interactive mail catalog coupled with an advanced order processing and fulfillment mechanism. Now here's a secret. Come closer. Closer. Ready? 'Sell items for less than your fixed and variable costs, and you'll lose money. Eventually, Wall Street will notice.' Oh. That'll be $5, please. - sebastian. 01/11/01

Oh, GREAT! We certainly needed yet another excuse to sit indoors watching the television, now with the web-surfing Lazy Boy Chair, we will need a crowbar to pry those obese bottoms out of the living room. Go for a run! Enjoy the sunlight! See some friends! Try... say... that chair looks very comfy, do you mind if I?... - sebastian. 01/11/01

Oh, God, please don't die. We need the illusion of competition for operating systems, or Uncle Sam is going to whack us for sure. Here. Have some oxygen. - sebastian 01/11/01

Dracula ants! Now, how can you *not* love a title like that? - sebastian 01/11/01

The new germ theory. Perhaps many diseases have roots in infectious organisms. And what about CJ's, mad cow disease, etc.that we have no clue how they work? Infectious protein prions? Yurg! - sebastian 01/11/01

Microsoft in balloting?! Sorry, the election blue-screened. You'll have to start all over! Gads.

Pretty blue screen says
Xena Warrior Princess
wins the election! - sebastian. 01/12/01

Things you don't want to hear when talking about virus genetic research. The key words in this document are 'inadvertently' and 'severe organisms'. I hope you all join me in exclaiming, 'Oh, good God!' - sebastian. 01/12/01

Reform Jews are urging parents to withdraw their sons from the Boy Scouts, apparently. They claim that they Scouts' opposition to homosexuality is incompatible with their faith. - Lizard 01/12/01

A Sunderland greengrocer is being prosecuted for selling his wares in pounds and ounces, flaunting the EU rule that such transactions be carried out in kilos and grams. (More detail here - I'm not sure how long my primary link is going to last.) 01/16/01

Who's a better boss? Women make better bosses. On the other hand, people tend to feel unfairly treated when women managers discipline them (get uppity). 01/16/01

Two Words: Spy Museum! (also, how cool would it be to work for a company that starts museums????) In related news, Ursula Andress's bikini from 'Dr No' is up for sale. 01/16/01

Princess Anne has been involved in another flower-related incident. 01/16/01

Listing incompetent hospitals and physicians on the web? Soon, soon, in Great Britain. 01/16/01

The 2001 Caldecott and Newbery Awards have been announced! 01/16/01

:: Scientists have used a particle accelerator to create matter over 20 times more dense than ordinary matter, and which they believe has not existed since a few millionths of a second after the Big Bang. 01/17/01

Child labor in Morocco. 01/17/01

The Atlantic Monthly, 144 years old, has redesigned in an effort to attract a new set of readers - but it plans to continue publishing the kind of writing it has always been known for.

'There are a lot of people out there who love to read, and when they are given something they can sink into, a great piece of writing, a great story, the great narrative yarns, people will buy those books in great numbers,' he said. 'We do not live in a world where people have stopped reading that kind of thing. We live in a world where magazines have stopped publishing that kind of thing.'
[NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket] 01/17/01

People are terrible, just terrible, aren't they? 01/17/01

Actor Sir John and Mary Mills have renewed their wedding vows in a church, sixty years after being married in a register office while he was on leave from the Army during the war.

Sir John told the BBC, with a broad smile: 'The first 60 years are the worst, so we're hoping to push on from here.'

The Oklahoma City bombers are just plain evil, but still, I can't quite say why, this makes me very sad. More wrongness, I guess. 01/17/01

:: Have you heard about the American Visionary Art Museum? A museum of outsider art it showcases the work or artists with little or no formal training. Creator Rebecca Hoffberger has come up against a lot of criticism for her museum, much of it centered around the fact that she's, well, an outsider. [NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket] 01/18/01

With all the focus on California's energy crisis, it's worth noting that Massachussetts has a crisis all its own: its alternative energy source, utility.com, just informed customers that they're outta there. I suppose it's also worth noting that utility.com is based in California. Maybe the problem isn't deregulation, per se - maybe it's just Californians in general. (Thanks, Kevin!) 01/18/01

WOW! Scientists have slowed, then stopped a beam of light.

...the work's biggest impact could come in futuristic technologies called quantum computing and quantum communication.... Quantum computers could crank through certain operations vastly faster than existing machines; quantum commmunications could never be eavesdropped upon.
I'm sure there will be bigger impacts than this...ones that we can't yet imagine. [NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket] 01/18/01

In the last decade, interest in American cuisine has flourished throughout the United States. While First Families have traditionally dined on their own regional favorites and served continental cuisine at State affairs, the Clinton White House has focused on bringing the best indigenous food, drink, and emerging culinary style to every occasion. 01/18/01

And finally, self organizing websites are all the rage these days. From Slashdot to The Vines, to the newly launched Plastic.org, these sites are created by users, then rated by users, guaranteeing that you only read the best stuff. [NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket] 01/18/01

:: Why do people around the world still believe in God? Why do non-believers sometimes feel uplifted during religious services? Because we're hard-wired to do just that. 01/22/00

Look at this picture of Clinton. I imagine that he's
- thinking about the day he was first sworn into office
- thinking about Chelsea, and how proud he would to be up there with her many years from now
- thinking about the job that faces GW Bush, and thinking that nothing he's ever done can prepare him for it.

As disappointed as he was not to see his man get the job, I really think that the strongest feeling of any outgoing President toward his predecessor is one of overwhelming compassion and empathy and identification. It's a small club, and it's a very hard job, and it's impossible to prepare for.

I also wonder how Mr Clinton felt Sunday morning. Empty, I suppose. For eight years he's awakened every morning wondering what happened in the world overnight, thinking about the problems he was trying to solve the day before. I suppose that if you wake up at your regular time you have a sense that things aren't too far out of control anywhere: they'd get you up for a crisis. Every morning, a briefing. Every day, things you didn't expect and couldn't have predicted.

Does Mr Clinton have a staff person still briefing him? Will he now have to start finding his own news sources? How long will it be before he can look at the events of the world and not feel like he needs to respond in some way or another? How difficult will it be to have a strong sense of what must be done, and, after eight years, not be able to lift a finger? You can't just call the new guy and tell him what you think he should do. 01/22/00

:: In a move to clean up the police force of Detroit, city officials installed cameras in 340 of their marked police cars, to the tune of $1.1 million. Three months later, it seems that the cameras are driver controlled: that is, the police officers can - and have - turned them off at their discretion. It may cost more than $90,000 to correct the error.

When we found out that they weren't [programmed to record continuously], we wondered, 'Gee, why would you even buy them if they weren't?'... This creates an opportunity for even greater litigation against the city, now people can say, 'Well, he turned the camera off, did this, and now is accusing me of committing a crime.'

The Henry Luce III Center for the Study of American Culture is a new breed of 'open storage' museum, allowing visitors to browse their collection according to their own interests, accessing hand held devices for more information than is listed on objects' rudimentary tags, and watching curators at work.

You may have to get on your knees to see a painting or make an appointment to see a cloak worn to George Washington's inauguration, but you can see just about everything in our collection. Traditionally, they say only about 2 percent of a museum's collection is on view at any one time. This center turns that concept on its head.

'The Illinois Supreme Court has set new rules to improve the state's capital punishment system, which in the past quarter century has released more death row inmates than it has executed. The rules adopted Monday set minimum standards of training and experience for defense lawyers and prosecutors in capital cases.' 01/23/00

Well, this will get me interested in the superbowl. (thanks, lizard) 01/23/00

:: Chalmers M. Roberts, Washington Post chief diplomatic correspondent from 1953 until his retirement in 1971, describes The View From Ninety. 01/24/00

As recently as the 1980s, Jews in Russia were harrassed for practicing their faith. But President Putin has gone out of his way to publicize Russia's Jewish heritage and to preach tolerance for those religions once persecuted by the Soviet government. Read this delightful account of President Putin hosting a dinner for Israeli President Katsav, and the rabbis he enlisted to build a kosher kitchen in the Kremlin. [NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket] 01/24/00

Did Jesus escape death by crucifixion and escape to Japan? 01/24/00

More evidence that prolonged breast feeding makes babies healthier. 01/24/00

If you're a teenager, peer pressure matters little, but you are nine times more likely to smoke or drink if your 5 closest friends do. 01/24/00

:: Riding the wave of interest in cooking and dining - or creating it? - against all expectation, the Food Network has become the main growth engine for its majority owner, established newspaper publisher E.W. Scripps Co.

'When cable was first emerging, this was the kind of thing we laughed at,' said Bob Thompson, professor of media and popular culture at Syracuse University. 'But the Food Network has been more successful than anyone else at creating a varied lineup centered around a single topic.'

Alarmed that Tokyo's temperature has risen three degrees in the last 100 years, city officials have taken a page from Hundertwasser to mandate that new and reconstructed buildings include greenery on their roofs. 01/25/00

Oil refiners plan to sue the EPA over a rule that will require them to start reducing sulfur content in diesel by 2006. Refiners want more time, claiming that the EPA did not factor in real capital costs and energy impacts when it made the rule, and warn of higher fuel costs. Environmentalists assert that health benefits greatly outweigh the economic costs, but fear that the incoming administration's EPA may rewrite the rules to favor the oil industry on its own.

'Just as the oil industry fought removal of lead from gasoline in the 1970s, they are fighting removal of sulfur today. It's a lot of extra work, there's no question about it. But it's not a technical challenge,' [Kassel] added, noting that Europe is already using low-sulfur diesel and that two of the largest U.S. refiners, BP and Tosco, plan to roll out low-sulfur fuel on the West Coast next year.

A digital file containing every issue ever published of the New York Times, cover to cover? Soon, very soon. (via Newsscan) 01/25/00

Noted without comment: 'The Italian Supreme Court has ruled that an unexpected pat on the bottom at work could not be labeled sexual harassment - as long as men didn't make a habit of it.' 01/26/00

Tetris, anyone? 01/26/00

Walter Tschinkel is making intricate plaster casts of ants nests, some over eight feet tall. Each of them describes the social life of the insects he studies. Come read about the ant castles. 01/26/00

In Afghanistan, the Taliban have detained dozens of barbers for trimming the customers' hair in the style Leonard DiCaprio wore in Titanic. 01/26/00