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.: 2001 --> april

april 2001
:: I'm travelling again. Go here and pick two at random. They're all top notch. 04/02/01

Be Very Afraid News In spite of reductions in the environment, American's dioxin levels are 22 times the suggested maximum level, probably due to the meat and dairy they consume. (Bill Moyers has dioxins in his blood.) 04/02/01

Be of Good Hope News In Europe, sales of organic foods is booming as individuals seek to minimize their risks. Will eating organic do it? I don't know, but it does give some sense of control. In the US we buy things on faith that the FDA has good rules in place for keeping us safe. At least with organic food, you can have some idea what those rules are. 04/02/01

[Aside: This state is just stupid (thanks, lizard!)] 04/02/01

:: In these days, public schools are expected to provide a good education with all the bells and whistles; not just textbooks, but computer equipment and the like. Schools lacking an adequate tax base have been forced to look elsewhere for those funds: and numerous corporations have been happy to lend a hand.

'Some contracts with Pepsi in high schools and even elementary schools have clauses that commit schools to making "the best effort to maximize all sales opportunities for Pepsi-cola products" ó which turns teachers into a de facto sales corps,' said Klein. 'Quotas are built into these contracts, which have led some schools to waive their own rules against bringing food and drink into classrooms, as students are encouraged to bring Pepsi to class.'


However, in a pilot program that installed milk vending machines in schools, students lapped it up.

Flavored milk has more calories and as much sugar as soda, but milk also has a variety of minerals and nutrients, including calcium and vitamins A and D. A 16-ounce bottle of calcium-fortified chocolate milk has 460 calories, more than double that of a typical cola, but nearly a day's supply of calcium.

It doesn't seem like rocket science to offer lowfat, artificially sweetened milk in these machines, does it? 04/10/01

Fear of Food I: All You Knead Is Love. 'We have an increasingly bizarre relationship with our food. We don't really know what it is anymore. We don't know what it's made of, where it came from, what kind of killer microbes it might be carrying. The big story of the 21st Century so far, and one that will continue to be a huge story for decades to come, is fear of food.' 04/10/01

Fear of Food II: Global Hysteria. We now fear food because we are divorced from its origin. Fear of Food is related to this other, vague phenomenon, the end of location, of locality. Everywhere is now anywhere. We don't really know where we are. (both via waterloo wide web) 04/10/01

Be of Good Cheer News Vegetable Container Gardening (via larkfarm) 04/10/01

:: Universe Proven Flat 04/11/01

Of course you know that the sole purpose of commercial TV is to draw eyeballs to the set in order for them to view the commercials. Interestingly, new research shows that viewers of violent TV don't remember the commercials as well as viewers of non-violent shows. (via follow me here) 04/11/01

Fat makes Stem Cells

'Until now, we hadnít identified a good source of stem cells,' Dr. Hedrick says. 'Fat may be the ideal source. Itís in plentiful supply, itís easy to obtain, and relatively inexpensive compared to a bone marrow extraction. And it may ultimately take the steam out of the stem cell/embryo debate, allowing people easy access to large quantities of their own cells.'


More Food News: and then I'll try to stop. Despite supposed improvements in the US meat inspection system, there is still e coli in our food (and it's not just the meat that can be dangerous). Apparently you can help reduce your risk at homewith cinammon, garlic and a few other natural ingredients. But nothing substitutes for safe food handling practices. 04/11/01

:: Much more upsetting to me is this Washington Post article. Increased production rates have resulted in many animals being improperly killed prior to slaughter; which is to say, they're being cut up while they're still alive and conscious. It's very upsetting, don't read this while you're eating anything or maybe even while you're at work.

I keep wondering if buying kosher meat would solve both the disease and inhumanity problems (although obviously there's no kosher pork available anywhere.) Anyone know? 04/11/01

In the face of Mad Cow Disease, Italians mourn the passing of the T-bone. 04/11/01

:: Finally, corporate influence is very powerful indeed: so powerful, in fact, that an initiative by McDonald's has vastly improved conditions in the slaughterhouses they employ. 04/11/01

:: It's sort of becoming a doom-and-gloom food log, isn't it? Sorry. I'm looking for cheerful, non-food related news, I swear. 04/12/01

Fresh, seasonal organic produce delivered to you straight from the farm. Community Supported Farms, state by state. It will live on cooking. (via metafilter) 04/12/01

Dentistry through the ages: 9,000 years ago. 04/12/01

The Centers for Disease Control is on the case! An ongoing study will periodically test humans to measure what chemicals are in your blood. 04/12/01

Can you make yourself smarter or more creative? Improving brain performance. 04/12/01

Fear of Food: An interview with Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation (a book that looks to be wildly interesting to me.)

There's no question that fast food is inexpensive and easily accessible. For people who don't have time to prepare meals, for households in which both parents work, there's no question it provides a service. But again, at what cost? ... the real cost never appears on the menu. The fast-food companies have directed a large amount of their marketing at low-income communities. They are serving extremely high-fat food to people who are at the greatest risk of the health consequences from obesity. They could be selling low cost food that doesn't have the same health consequences, especially for children. The fast-food chains, with their kids' meals and Happy Meals, are creating eating habits that will last a lifetime.


Be of Good Cheer News Lowfat, crispy potato wedges 04/12/01

The Risks and Benefits of Genetically Modified Food 04/12/01

:: The next big thing in cuisine is...non cooking. [NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket]

In Chicago, Charlie Trotter is producing 10-course raw menus filled with wildly inventive dishes like okra cured in sea salt with Thai squash and pear sauce, and jicama "packages" filled with preserved eggplant, broccoli rape flowers and tiny kohlrabi.... and down in Miami, Norman Van Aken makes what he calls elephant garlic in vapors, a six-hour production that involves suspending thin shavings of garlic over a pot of barely warm water.


Too Funny. Cool hunters are charging an arm and a leg for their exclusive scoop on what's hot with the early adopters. Ruth Shalit takes a look at the grand divide between cutting edge and mainstream and asks, 'Who cares?'

The universe of the L Report is a Manichaean one, starkly divided between near-superhuman cognoscenti and K-Mart-shopping, mouth-breathing plebeians. Not since Highlights magazine's 'Goofus and Gallant' have readers been presented with such a clear choice.

Some examples:
Asked what has impressed them lately, trendsetters cited artist Damien Hirst's new show, the micro-film fest and 'gold Adidas with black stripes.'

The mainstream teens said, 'The food at my school getting better.'

(via b-blog) 04/13/01

Silly! Putty!
(thanks, lizard!) 04/13/01

Ship carrying 250 child slaves roams African coast 04/13/01

How do you write a better computer game? Study the classics. 04/13/01

:: Oh, it's brilliant (but not in front of clients or your boss): tampax red. (via flutterby) 04/17/01

Would you like to help send someone to college? Matt Haughey is doing just that, endowing a deserving member of the Metafilter community with a small scholarship. The money was donated to support his site; having upgraded his software and discovered that he had money left over, Matt (and this is typical for him) has decided to pass the money to someone who needs it. But why should Matt have all the fun? You can make a special donation to the fund. 04/17/01

You'll love Ev's essay on the Josie and the Pussycats trailer: while nominally advertising a film, he found instead an unprecedented barrage of flat out product advertising - without even the bother of 'placing' them. The shot of one of the Pussycats showering next to a McDonald's shower curtain while scrubbing with a sponge that looks remarkably like an order of fries is just hilarious. 04/17/01

Surprise Parties: as addictive as crack 04/17/01

I have a committment issue, I admit it, but apparently I've been on the right track all along when it comes to personalization. Sure, it save you time and gets you the information you're most interested in without having to plough through the stuff you couldn't care less about. But for me one of the biggest values of a newspaper - or weblog - has always been finding stories I didn't know I was interested in. In his latest book, law professor Cass R. Sunstein argues that continuously filtered information does more than create one-dimensional people: it threatens democracy. [NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket]

'Democracy requires at least two things: that people have common spaces where they can share experiences some of the time, and that people have unanticipated, un-chosen exposures to ideas and other people'.... Traditionally, streets and parks served as the architectural foundations of democratic republics, said Sunstein. In those 'public forums,' different types of citizens were bound to rub up against one another.... General interest publications, too... expose far-flung viewers to a relatively broad spectrum of viewpoints and social conditions, said Sunstein.

Since Sunstein advocates websites linking to opposing points of view to their own, and since he is quoted in the story above as saying that this is a good piece, here is the Economist's skeptical review of his new book.

Two notes: you'll notice the use of the term "tipping point" in the NY Times article; that phrase passed a tipping point of its own very quickly, it seems.... Oh, and 'Sunstein'? It's the New York Times, for crying out loud, where's his honorific? Have they changed their policy? Only a few months ago they asked me which title I preferred. 04/17/01

Tired: The Big Bang
Wired: The Big Collision 04/17/01

Even as US credit card companies relentlessly press consumers (even those in college and high school) to acquire yet another card, they are pressing Congress to pass a bill that 'would protect credit card companies by holding consumers responsible for the companies' overgenerous credit lines, essentially providing the companies with an insurance policy for their risky business practices.'

More than 615,000 people under 35 filed for bankruptcy last year alone. That's about half of the nation's total filings, an increase of more than 40 percent since 1991, according to Harvard Law School studies....

Falling into debt at a young age used to be more difficult. Credit was something to be earned, and it usually took time. Moreover, debt was incurred chiefly as a result of major purchases.

'Fifty years ago, if you wanted to borrow money you put on your suit and tie and explained to a banker why you needed to go into debt,' says Allen Rosenthal, a San Francisco bankruptcy attorney. 'You had to have a good reason. But now, people go into debt one pizza at a time.'


:: A Short History of Race Riots

Indeed, for all the anguished searching for the roots of the Cincinnati riots and those of the numerous disturbances that preceded it last century, there's no great mystery about their cause. Almost invariably, an instance (real or rumored) of police brutality or abuse of power, capping a history of tension with a city's black community, has provoked this country's major riots....

But if the precipitating cause of urban riots is no secret, the explosive reaction of African-Americans to police misbehavior somehow keeps surprising most Americans, or at least most white Americans....

Until the spotlight of responsibility for such mayhem is directed at the police as well as at black ghetto-dwellers, the racial uprisings that tour the country every generation will probably not abate.... In 1967, psychologist Kenneth Clark told the Kerner Commission that he had just read a report written after the 1919 Chicago riot. 'It is as if I were reading the report of the investigating committee on the Harlem riot of '35, the report of the investigating committee on the Harlem riot of '43, the report of the McCone Commission on the Watts riot,' Clark said. '...The same analysis, the same recommendations, the same inaction.' So far, there are few signs the Cincinnati riots will produce more than another report.


I wish I could see this! The Carnegie Museum of Art has put together an exhibit that is all about light. The history of lighting, symbology of lighting, paintings that show various treatments of light...and more.

There's a lesson here, too, seeing "Gauguin's Chair" and watching the lighting switch from daylight to flame to electric arc light -- the conditions under which it could have been seen when van Gogh painted it in 1888. You don't see things as your ancestors did, not even if the lighting's the same. You're used to halogen bulbs and track lighting, not dim lamps and candles and much, much more darkness.


rabble.ca aims to provide a participatory, progressive alternative to mainstream media. And it looks promising. Linked under alternate news. 04/20/01

Women on Waves is the world's first floating abortion clinic, staffed by an all-female crew and other personnel. 'Two-thirds of the globe's population lives within 100 miles of port cities, so the ship will in theory be accessible to a majority of women worldwide. ...one in four women worldwide live in countries that ban abortion or allow it only in cases where the mother's life is endangered.... Besides providing offshore abortions, the ship will also distribute contraceptives, conduct workshops on reproductive health, provide training for abortionists, and facilitate awareness and advocacy campaigns while in port.' 04/20/01

Philanthropic Advisory Service provides donors and potential donors with an impartial source for information on nationally soliciting charitable organizations and for advice on sound giving practices. 04/20/01

:: A UK-based company is developing perfumes based on samples retrieved from the Titianic, planning 'to reproduce and replicate the Edwardian scents of 1912, while developing and producing a proprietary brand by next April.' 04/23/01

Bill Moyers on Journalism and Democracy

What's the role of journalism in all this? The founders of our nation were pretty explicit on this point. The First Amendment is the first for a reason. It's needed to keep our leaders honest and to arm the powerless with the information they need to protect themselves against the tyranny of the powerful, whether that tyranny is political or commercial. At least that's my bias. A college student once asked the journalist Richard Reeves to define 'real news.' He answered: 'The news you and I need to keep our freedoms.'

(via metafilter) 04/23/01

Single, married, childless, gay....because their employees no longer fit into a cookie cutter mold, many corporations are offering cafeteria-style benefits packages, allowing workers to craft their hours and compensation to suit their lifestyle. Clearly, the 'family-friendly workplace' (if there actually are any in the US) has improved life for everyone.

A few things:
1) Oh, boo hoo hoo! Someone is getting something I don't have, it's not fair! Those parents have so many more breaks than I do! My boss is nicer to them! They have it so easy!

The child-free's list of resentments is long: tax benefits for parents, health insurance coverage of infertility treatments, family-discount packages at resorts [ed note: oh, boo hoo hoo!], co-workers who skip out of the office early to coach soccer games, even those signs reserving prime parking spots for expectant mothers or parents with young children.

2) duh:

Many economists and academics disagree with Burkett. They contend that parents - especially mothers - give up compensation, chances for promotion and time to raise children. And some studies show that parents work more hours than nonparents.

3) where can I find one of these employers? These articles always make it sound like a majority of companies are practicing these innovations, but I guess if that were the case it wouldn't be 'news' would it? 04/23/01

Ooh, I like what the Christian Science Monitor is doing. Their main headlines are accompanied by a blurb that links to related articles throughout their site. 04/23/01

I forgot to mention last week that, to me, one of the most exciting aspects of Women on Waves is: a female captain and crew. Female doctors are commonplace, but girl sailors? Oh, yeah. 04/23/01

Cow News: 'The Austrian province of Vorarlberg will ban the practice of blowing up dead cows with explosives on its picture-postcard Alpine meadows, state television ORF said today.' 04/23/01

Discussion of the Summit of the Americas at metafilter.
'Clearly, the fundamental question underlying the "globalization" debate is not where? but how?' - johnb

wood s lot has a ton of relevant links if you're interested in the subjects of free trade and globalization; scroll all the way down the page. 04/23/01

Go read Deals with God. It's lovely. Ned is the new Beckett. 04/23/01

It seems that the elephant's renowned memory is key to their survival. When she feels threatened, an elephant matriarch will group her family in defensive position, which prevents foraging. An elephant matriarch 55 years or older is thousands of times more adept than a 35-year-old at recognizing familes with which she has had friendly relations in the past, thus ensuring that her family stops feeding only when necessary. Further, the older the matriarch, the more calves will successfully be raised by that family group.

Very interesting, but if course this leads me to ponder what damage we may be doing to ourselves as we marginalize our elders and move hither and yon to chase money and excitement, effectively abolishing the (local) extended family.

And everyone working. When I was growing up there were lots of stay-at-home moms (in fact, we didn't use that term: we only delineated the aberrant 'working mother'), and they had a sort of an 'old moms network.' When a new(er) mother had a question about her children, there was always someone down the street with older children who could say 'Oh, I've seen that before, nothing to worry about' or 'I'd definitely call the doctor' or 'How old is she, four? Ah, that's a difficult age.' (via follow me here). 04/23/01

:: It's the life of riley, really it is. Yes, I'm on the road again. You know what to do in the meantime, and I'll see you in a couple of weeks.... 04/26/01