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.: 2001 --> february

february 2001
:: The ingredients are selected by the judges. Preparation time is limited. Audiences circle the chefs, discussing their every move with intense interest. Chefs do it for their love of cooking, prestige, and honor. The Iron Chef? Nope. It's the real thing. Presenting the Bocuse D'Or. 02/01/01

What if you went out to eat and the waiter was blind? 02/01/01

He says he fell asleep on the flight and unconsciously hitched up his neighbor's dress with his legs and slipped his hands inside her underwear. The court disagreed. 02/01/01

All of us abuse our bodies. The amount of damage we do - and have done - to our bodies will likely surprise you. You may be equally surprised to discover the extent your body will repair itself, given better habits and a very little time. For example, while damage to cells deep in your lungs may never be able to repair itself, within a week your chances of a heart attack are already reduced; in five years, your chances of a heart attack are nearly equal to those of someone who has never smoked.

And even moderate exercise makes a huge difference at any age. Hate the thought of exercising? There are new devices available designed to make moving fun. 02/01/01

:: It's a little early for spring housecleaning and a little late to welcome the millenium, but never mind that: let me be the first to welcome you to my spacious new pocket. Please make yourself at home...and let me know if anything isn't working properly, won't you? 02/03/01

:: Charles H. Harris took pictures from the 1930's until he died in 1998, documenting half a century of life in the African-American community. The first exhibit from the 'largest documentation of African-American urban life in existence anywhere' opens Feb. 24 at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg, Pa. [NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket] 02/07/00

My apologies. I'm having a strange kind of cold that has placed me in a different time continuum: I spend five minutes doing something and look up to find that two hours have passed. Additionally, it seems to have sapped me of any ability to write a coherent sentence. At least, I write something and I can't tell if it makes sense or not. 02/07/00

President's Day is coming up, and you can do something special to commemorate it this year: give a donation to Planned Parenthood in honor of George W Bush. 02/07/00

:: Can you please explain to me these personal stylists? I mean, I know they exist, and I suppose some people feel a need for them, but if you were going to advertise your services on the web, don't you suppose that you'd want to include some pictures of the people you had styled (even if they were just models)? Instead we have here two pictures of stylist 1 and his rates (with a form that says: Do not fill in spaces below); and numerous pictures of stylist 2 and a bunch of empty pop-up windows. 02/08/00

Here's a comprehensive guide to Indian Earthquake Relief Online. 02/08/00

When Romainian journalist Anca Oegar watched the news reports she filed with her newspaper go unpublished for not toeing the party line, she began publishing directly to the people - with the Oegar Report. Right now, she gets less traffic than I do (although some of her visitors include Pentagon and State Department officials). Why don't you pass her URL on to anyone you know who is interested in world affairs? She's doing important work. (Via ifra trend report) 02/07/00

It was just lighthearted fun. They do it to all their employees. When a Jewish man whose grandmother perished at Auschwitz was late for work, they told him to wear a Nazi uniform as punishment.

An attorney for Tullett & Tokyo Liberty, Sinclair Cramsie, said Weinberger was not the victim of discrimination because all the firm's employees were called names and made to wear costumes if they were late.

The wonders of modern technology. Ladies: think wireless! 02/08/00

It Takes a Knocked Down Village News: The anti-retroviral cocktail given to HIV patients often costs between $10,000 and $15,000 per patient per year in the United States and Europe. Now an Indian drug company is proposing to sell those drugs in a three-tiered price scheme: $1,200 for wholesalers, $ 600 for doctors, and $350 for Doctors Without Borders, provided that DWB dispenses the drug for free.

'We're not making money but we are not going to lose money either,' Hamied said. 'With the average of the three prices, we should break even.' He said the inspiration for his decision came from the... earthquake in western Gujarat state -- where more than 17,000 people have been confirmed dead.... 'AIDS is going to be a bigger holocaust in India than the earthquake.'

Meanwhile.... As many as 70% of HIV patients will develop resistance to one of the drugs they take to stay healthy. Unfortunately, when they pass on the disease, they pass on the drug-resistant strain - to one in seven of newly infected Americans

'We are seeing patients in the clinic who have cycled through all 15 available drugs,' said Dr. Roy Gulick of Cornell University in New York. 'We are seeing drug-resistant strains transmitted to others. Clearly we need novel agents that overcome cross-resistance.'.

Well, yes, it would seem we do. How about this? Anyone infected with HIV needs to practice safe sex! And for the rest of us: practice safe sex! You never know when you're going to run into one of these irresponsible jokers. 02/08/00

:: Yesterday, Senator Tim Hutchinson (R-AR) and Representative David Vitter (R-LA) introduced legislation that would severely curtail the use of Mifepristone (RU-486), which promises to provide an earlier, less invasive and safer alternative to surgical abortion, especially for women who live far from an abortion provider. You can read more and send a free fax to your Senators and Representative from the ACLU's action alert. 02/09/00

'A blind cod was caught off Norway for the 40th and final time by a kind-hearted Norwegian fisherman who sent him to retire in a private pool in an aquarium.' 02/09/00

In 1893, 18-year-old Takuji Yamashita left his native Japan for Seattle, where he hoped to 'bring honor to his family and do good.' Nine years later, after passing the state's bar exam, he was refused admission to the bar, explicitly and unashamedly on account of his race. On March 3, in an unprecedented action, the Washington Supreme Court will admit Yamashita posthumously to the state bar.

'He really believed what he learned in law school, that justice is blind and all persons are equal before the law,' said Jack Chin, a University of Cincinnati law professor who has written about Yamashita in a book on the country's historic race trials. 'He was making equality arguments that ultimately were accepted by the (U.S.) Supreme Court many years later.'

(thanks, Jim!) 02/09/00

Complicating rescue efforts, it seems the caste system has survived the earthquake in Gujarat. 02/09/00

New York City. A million lives, a million untold stories, right? The waiting has ended. Welcome to Mr Beller's Neighborhood. 02/09/00

Within a decade, Leicester, England will become the first British city with a non-white majority. And in general, a pattern for a multi-cultural European city. Unless you're black. 02/09/00

Oh, dear. Trokosi: slavery to the gods. In fact, slavery to the priest. 3,000 women currently known to be in slavery in Ghana today. 02/09/00

:: There's a new study on happiness. Top of the list: autonomy, competence, relatedness and self-esteem; bottom: popularity/influence and money/luxury. But you knew that already. 02/13/00

Despite poverty, cultural resistance, geographic obstacles, and high illiteracy, UNICEF's vitamin A outreach program has successfully reached over 90% of Nepalese children, and the country expects to eradicate Vitamin A deficiency by 2002.

'If you provide children with enough vitamin A then their mortality drops about 23%, and that makes vitamin A distribution one of the most essential child survival programs, noted Werner Schultink, who leads the Nutrition Section at UNICEF Headquarters in New York.

'The nice thing about vitamin A is that if you eat a lot, then it gets stored in the body, so you can give--with one capsule--enough to cover a child's need for 4 to 6 months. So basically, if you can give two capsules a year to a child you can prevent that child from becoming vitamin A deficient, and you can prevent all the negative consequences thereof.'

I had no idea one capsule could do so much. This makes me feel even better about my daily click to the child survival site (one of six ways you dosomegood when you click on the link in my sidebar.) 02/13/00

'Schools that raise money by selling sodas and snacks on campus are sending mixed messages and discouraging kids from eating healthy meals, the Agriculture Department says.' 02/07/00

Getting creaky in your old age is a design flaw, apparently. The human body can walk upright for only so long before the back and joints start to go. Three scientists have used their expertise to design a better human, one that wouldn't wear out before its time. And what did they come up with? Well, the really well designed human looks like a gnome. 02/13/00

The only monument to slaves in Savannah, Georgia is making some people mighty uncomfortable with the quotation (possibly by Maya Angelou - no one knows for sure) inscribed at the bottom:

We lay back to belly in the holds of the slave ships in each others' excrement and urine together, sometimes died together, and our lifeless bodies thrown overboard together.


Gypsy News: Hungary has just launched a station for its largest ethnic minority: Radio C, a station for Roma, by Roma, focused on the music and social issues central to the Roma population. It is only the second place in Europe where Gypsies have their own full-time radio broadcasts. 02/13/00

:: Happy Valentine's Day! 02/14/00

Britons have been appalled to discover that their neighbors to the east are importing their wild ponies for a mad-cow-disease-free delicacy: cheval. 02/14/00

Unforeseen Consequences News: Higher standards in school may lead to more homework; more homework may lead to many more books carried to and from school every day; and many more books carried in a backpack may lead to back pain in kids. 02/14/00

And in Italy, now poor housekeeping is grounds for divorce. I keep wondering why he didn't do some dusting? 02/14/00

'Gulf Burps Up Goo; Scientists Aren't Sure What it is, But Claim it's Harmless. We can't make this kind of thing up. 02/14/00

I continue to be impressed with PBS's companion websites. The site for next week's The Time of the Lincolns is filled with interesting background information and teaching materials, including interviews with the director and cinematographer on the making of the film. If you're interested in history or film, take some time to explore this site. 02/14/00

Cigarettes Kill News: A word to the wise: Don't point a gun at anyone - even if it's only loaded with cigarette butts - and shoot! 02/14/00

:: I know you've heard of it, but it's one of my favorite modern phenomena. Created by an Italian in response to the appearance of a McDonald's in Rome, the Slow Food movement has spread across the ocean to the United States, empowering devotees to make thoughtful choices about the food they eat. Additionally, there has been a bit of a domino effect: specialty growers are finding that their heirloom produce and vegetables are in higher demand as a result. 02/15/00

Money is Not Always the Root of Evil News: 120 of the wealthiest American citizens have signed a petition urging Congress not to repeal taxes on estates and gifts. [NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket]

'We have come closer to a true meritocracy than anywhere else around the world,' [Warren Buffet] said. 'You have mobility so people with talents can be put to the best use. Without the estate tax, you in effect will have an aristocracy of wealth, which means you pass down the ability to command the resources of the nation based on heredity rather than merit.'


Now, look, I haven't tried this out, but it's a fun idea: reflect.com will create customized beauty products just for you. 02/15/00

Germany is taking a novel approach to fighting unauthorized digital recording of music and the like: imposing flat fees on all the components in a home computer that can be used in copying. [NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket] 02/15/00

When an ancient monument, say, Stonehenge, has been partially rebuilt, is it less authentic?

But most of the tourists padding around the circle on a chill winter afternoon were unaware of the restoration...and were largely untroubled when asked about it. 'It was rebuilt three times anyway,' between 3000 B.C. and 1600 B.C., noted Kathy Bates, a visitor from Carthage, Missouri.


Teenagers in love are...depressed. 02/15/00

:: The argument goes that ancient man ate massive amounts of protein, and so should we. And it's certainly true that Paleolithic man was a prime physical specimen, standing taller than us, with all his teeth into old age, physically fit. And his diet? Well, his diet was quite varied.... 02/16/00

Media Strategy Alert: When you're President how do you get maximum favorable coverage with minimum resistance? Bypass the Washington, DC journalists and start giving interviews with local news outlets around the country. 02/16/00

A 91-year-old man was discovered to have been stealing power for 50 years after he called to complain about an electricity outage. 02/16/00

Welcome to Stalinworld!

Thousands of sightseers have already plunked down their equivalent of $1.25 to wander among the towering Communist-era sculptures, under the gaze of mannequins manning machine guns in watchtowers, and eat at a cafť serving labor camp standards like gruel and fishhead soup.

Eventually, visitors will also be able to watch reenactments of 'camp victims' being abused, and see recreations of the huts where the slaves slept after being worked nearly to death.

Concealed speakers will also broadcast screams of torture victims.


An extra soft-drink a day increases a child's risk of obesity by 60%. 02/16/00

:: must-see tv:
the american experience: the time of the lincolns

In an effort to forestall panic at the thought of a jeopardized line of succession, the Dutch Royal Family has publicly asserted that Prince Johan Friso is not homosexual.

In the meantime, confirmation of Prince Johan Frisoís heterosexual status has disappointed Hollandís large gay community. 'Iím not a committed royalist but heís very nice-looking,' one man told De Telegraaf. 'Iíve asked around and we regretfully have to say that heís a healthy hetero.'


This is fashion reporting the way it was meant to be. Be sure to read to the end. 02/19/00

:: The store so famous for its wares that for years a letter addressed to 'Mr Typewriter, New York' would be delivered to proprietor of Tytell's, is officially closing after 66 years. [NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket]

Jean Holke, a 20-year customer of the store, bought her blue Smith Corona electric there and still uses it. She said: 'It's the end of an era. Everyone knew about Tytell's.' She added, 'I'm sorry that Peter's father got so old, but these things happen.' She should know, she said, being 82.


For the Goth who has everything.... As London fashion shows continue to feature outfits that no one could wear down the street, some people wonder what the point really is.

'From the various sexual fetishes on parade to the facile rubbish that spewed out on to the catwalks during the past month... it seemed that designers were out to get women, or at least make them look foolish,' [said Lisa Armstrong]. So could the continued fashion for sending female models before the world part naked or in approximations of bondage betray a sign of the industry's misogyny? 'Clearly creativity is about pushing boundaries, but why is it always this one?'


The story commonly told about Rosa Parks is that she was too tired to get up on that day she refused to give up her bus seat to a white man. But it isn't true. Mrs. Parks was a civil rights activist before she was arrested; she was only tired of the discrimination she suffered every day. So, why has the false story persisted? Maybe it just seems like a better story, or maybe it's just hard for some people to overcome the stereotypes. 02/20/00

Post-Modern News: Wait! does it have to be self-aware and ironic to be post-modern? All right, then.
Product Tie-in From Hell for the New Millennium News: Here we go. The soap opera called Passions has a character named Tabitha, a 300-year-old witch. In the plotline, her diaries have been sold by an unscrupulous character, Timmy, to finance his alcoholism. A few months ago, the show filmed HarperCollins's real-life chief executive, Jane Friedman, accepting Timmy's offer to sell Tabitha's diaries for publication. The book, Hidden Passions, just appeared on the New York Times bestseller list. [NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket] 02/20/00

In a country where the average salary is $101USD a month and few people have cars, stalls repairing and selling second-hand shoes would be would be a boon, would they not? Well, perhaps not if you are the country's only shoe manufacturer. 02/20/00

:: An unnamed UN official reportedly sees the US as the real villian as concerns the sanctions against Iraq.

'Sanctions are ineffective because certain very clear and obvious weaknesses are allowed to exist and have been allowed to exist from day one,' one diplomat said.... 'The fact is that, as things stand, Saddam is in his box, he is strong enough not to allow the country to break up, he can keep Iran and the regionís oil-producing nations on their toes, but he is not threatening anybody and certainly not threatening their (the USís) No 1 ally, Israel.'

This sounds about right to me, but notice: the major sources in this story are not named, always a warning flag when analyzing a news story. With named sources, at least you can try to fathom that individual's agenda, and, as important, that person will have to answer for their statements. 02/07/00

They are mysterious Japanese sisters. Or not sisters. One does not speak in public. They are always dressed - or undressed - to the nines. They do not sing, dance, model, or act. They appear to be entirely self-made. They are the Kano sisters. 02/21/00

Do you remember Simone Swan? I linked to her story nearly a year ago. Deeply influenced by Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy, who advocated the advent of the 'barefoot architect', who would bring housing to the poor, she has worked to acheive his ideas with her beautiful buildings that join traditional adobe housing with the domed and valuted roofs of Africa.

Her work in the southwest US is continuing as she seeks the funding and government certification she needs to bring beautiful, durable, earth-friendly, and above all, affordable homes to the poor. It would appear to me that she is still working through some of the problems of building with adobe in Texas (scroll to about halfway down the page to read about the damage the rains did) but she's clearly doing important - and gorgeous - work. 02/21/00

I can't wait. Apparently there is in the works an American version of the British quiz show 'The Weakest Link.' Why does this sound fun?

Fan mail has been pouring in from admirers of her bossy dominatrix image, humiliating contestants for getting questions wrong. She then takes delight in sending them down the walk of shame with the immortal lines: 'You are the weakest link, goodbye.'


An elementary school girl's science study has been rejected by her school because teachers there feel it could be hurtful to students of color. In the study, the student asked 30 fifth graders 'which Barbie is prettier?' 24 chose the white Barbie. Her father asserts that her freedom of speech has been violated.

I wonder what conclusion she drew from her study? And whether she had enough evidence to draw any valid conclusions at all? 02/21/00

Federal rules governing new organic standards in the United States have finally gone into effect. More resources here. 02/21/00

Siberia is experiencing one of the coldest winters on record, wreaking havoc throughout the country. Not so in Buryatia. There, what is thought to be the largest surviving community of Old Believers - the original survivalists, as some say - is thriving as they always have: following the old ways. 02/21/00

:: The Royal Mail has launched an appeal for help in delivering a letter mailed 112 years ago.

A spokesman said: 'It has come 12,000 miles and we now hope that we can go the extra mile and get it delivered.'


'Traffic controls put in place during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta may have reduced the number of doctor visits and hospital admissions due to asthma attacks, researchers have found.' 02/22/00

'By accident, scientists peering into icy waters far beneath the North Pole have found a hidden world of fire. Buried in sonar readings taken by a navy submarine to create a map of the ocean floor, the researchers discovered two large volcanoes that had recently convulsed the Arctic seabed.... "We like to think we're smart people," Margo Edwards, a marine geologist at the University of Hawaii who led the discovery team, said in an interview. "But we weren't looking for this." 02/22/00

The band is named...S.P.O.C.K. Sample some lyrics: Never Trust a Klingon, Neutral Zone, and my favorite, Dr McCoy.

He's a doctor - not an escalator
He's a doctor - not a bricklayer
He's a doctor - not a shuttle-conductor
And everybody knows him as Dr McCoy
He's a doctor - not an engineer
He's a doctor - and not a magician
He's a doctor - not a psychiatrist
And you know that I'm talking about Dr McCoy

Thanks, Sebastian! 02/22/00

Contrary to popular belief, married people have better and more frequent sex. 02/22/00

On a related note, Lizard sends this resource for those seeking a polygynous relationship. According to this information, polygyny solves lots of problems for women. I will just note that the arrangement for the family that maintains this site has the first wife keeping house, the second wife working, and the husband, um...doing stuff on the computer. I'm trying to figure out what particular sect of Christianity these people keep referring to.... 02/22/00

Back in my day, we didn't have hugging. Nope, we kicked each other in the shins, and we LIKED it. Yep. Oh, it hurt, sure it did, but we did it and we didn't complain, we just did it. That's just the way it was. None of this newfangled hugging. (Thanks, O.Xymoron!) 02/22/00

:: The Miccosukee tribal counsel says that the matter is settled; Florida prosecutors say that because of the severity of the crime, and the fact that it occurred off reservation land, they have the right to prosecute. American Indians everywhere are watching the trial closely, concerned about the implications this case will have concerning tribal sovereignty rights. 02/23/00

Did you know that most heart attacks happen between 4 am and 10 am? Did you also know that many heart attacks don't follow the pattern of a 'classic heart attack', especially in women? Reading this article will take you ten minutes, but do it: you need to know the symptoms of a silent heart attack. 02/23/00

'If you get to an emergency room soon enough you can literally stop the attack,' says Myerson. 'I have never seen anyone at an emergency facility laugh at a person who came in because of chest pains that did not turn out to be an attack.'

Thanks, Sebastian! 02/23/00

The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree News: A new report notes that the British are the Europeans least likely to know a foreign language. How bad is it? Six writers from the Guardian aim to find out. 02/23/00

A salvage company claims to have discovered the oldest shipwreck ever found, in a location that challenges long-held theories about the routes used by ancient Mediterranean trading vessels. 02/23/00

An infant who received part of his grandmother's liver in a first-of-its-kind bloodless transplant is doing well - and surgeons expect the procedure to become routine. 02/23/00

Cheese News: The USDA is reducing by half the size of the holes in domestic swiss cheese, in order to accomodate commercial slicing machines. Cheese with larger eyes (and that would be any genuine Swiss Emmentaler) may not earn the USDA grade 'A'. Predictably, the Swiss are enraged.

Another article quoted local cheese dealers, who described the regulation as 'totally unreasonable' and 'insolence.' One cheese seller even suggested the Americans work on abolishing the death penalty rather than regulating cheese.


'Massachusetts is unfairly taking property from deceased low-income smokers to pay for medical care even though the state has already been reimbursed as part of a multi-billion dollar tobacco settlement, a lawsuit contends.' 02/23/00

:: Truth and Harm 02/24/00

:: Would the Fab Four be as adorable without their beloved 'scouse' dialect? It seems that with cleaner air in Liverpool, the scouse is fading away. 02/26/00

Outrageous News: 'The Food and Drug Administration is weighing whether to approve a Pennsylvania biotechnology company's proposal to conduct an experiment that would leave hundreds of sick, premature infants in Latin America without proven lifesaving medications [usually given in the United States, but not always available elsewhere].... In some poor Latin American hospitals, Capetola said, infants with the lung illness may not have access to established drugs and would not be left worse off by placebo treatment. He said infants in the study would receive better care than is currently available because Discovery would donate ventilators and antibiotics for their use.'

I understand the drug companies' perspective that the control set of infants or patients in these cases would receive the same - or better - treatment as that which would be given to them were the clinical trials not being run. And that speeding these drugs to market would potentially save many infant lives around the world.

But I really think you have to apply one rule to a case like this: would I allow a member of my family to be treated in this way? If the answer is no, then it's wrong.

And if the answer is that these test infants will receive poorer care if the test isn't run, then I would point out that that's a separate issue, and, having recognized it, in my estimation you're morally obligated to spend some of those profits on correcting it. 02/26/00

A small earthquake hit the Bay Area Sunday, and I'm proud to say that as soon as I realized what was happening, I looked for cover. Why does this make me proud? Because when a bigger earthquake hit Seattle a few years ago, I stood up, waited a minute, and then asked my office mates 'Should we get under our desks?' What a goob. I've wondered ever since when I finally would have taken cover: after a chunk of cement actually hit me on the head? 02/26/00

Two new (to me) weblogs that I intend to keep an eye on:
wood s lot
ned blog

Veteran reporter Palagummi Sainath has been reflecting on current journalism, and what he sees is stenography.

According to Sainath, the shift from hard-hitting, truth-seeking journalism to innocuous, promotional stenography goes hand in hand with the increase of convergence. In this new media world, a wealthy few not only own the press, but also suffocate its freedom by making sure everything printed or broadcast fits with their business interests. 'The defining character of the media [today] is a growing disconnection between mass media and mass reality,' said Sainath. 'These two are increasingly growing apart.'

(via the excellent waterloo wide web) 02/26/00

Toyota's first European factory is an interesting experiment in combining French and Japanese culture. [NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket] 02/26/00

Big News: PPL Therapeutics, which cloned Dolly the sheep, has announced that it has turned a cow's skin cells into basic stem cells, then grown them into heart cells, eliminating the need for harvested stem cells, usually derived from embryonic tissue. 02/26/00

The most offensive spam subject line ever: Slots...Looser Than Your Girlfriend!!!!! 02/26/00

In May of last year, Christopher Lydon interviewed Brad Graham, Ev Williams, and me on the Connection, considered by many to be the premiere radio talk show today. A week ago, WBUR locked Lydon and his producer out of the studio in response to their assertion that they deserve to profit from the show's success. Salon offers a smart look at what it's all about. (Thanks, jjg!)02/28/00

:: The FYI from here is that updates for the next week or so will be sporadic if they happen at all. We found out Friday that We need to move, found a place on Monday, signed a lease today, move on Sunday. Then of course, leaving for SXSW on Thursday of next week. It's going to be busy. :) 03/01/00