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.: 2001 --> may

may 2001
:: The trip was lovely, thanks for asking. I'm glad to be home, and relishing the week and a half (!) before I have to leave home again. Clearly I would have made a rotten rock star, although maybe if I had 'people' around to do things for me I'd have a different perspective. 'Smoothie! I must have a strawberry smoothie!' 05/14/01

Archaeology News: The Theban Mapping Project (via metafilter) brings you current news of the excavation of KV 5, in the Valley of the Kings, the 'largest tomb ever found in Egypt'. 05/14/01

The drought in the Northwest has dropped Lake Roosevelt to very low levels, attracting relic-hunters searching for souveniers. 05/14/01

And finally, the end of the Cold War means that former Soviet scientists are free now to share with Western scientists their discovery of a new ancient civilization.

The people of that area, the archaeologists say, built oasis settlements with imposing mud-brick buildings and fortifications. They herded sheep and goats and grew wheat and barley in irrigated fields. They had bronze axes, fine ceramics, alabaster and bone carvings and jewelry of gold and semiprecious stones. They left luxury goods in the graves of an elite class.... At the same time, the pyramids of Egypt had been standing for three centuries, power in the Tigris and Euphrates valley was shifting from Sumer to Babylon and the Chinese had yet to develop writing.

[NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket] 05/14/01

What do you do with all those old dates you carry around in your head? Today is my high school best friend's birthday. We haven't been in touch for years, but I still remember her birthday when it comes around.... 05/14/01

:: To market, to market.... Back in a week. I expect to be back to updating when I get back. 05/22/01

Those of you who followed the Living Colours weblog will be interested to know that it was a fake. It's a massively long and unclear story, but if you have a few hours and are interested in psychology and social engineering you might enjoy reading. At this moment this is the article I recommend: The Life and Death of a False Warrior. It's as accurate an accounting as I've seen. The story is about to hit the major media, or so I've been told. Take it all with a grain of salt. The first major story (on MSNBC) really missed the boat.

If you become obsessed with this strange story, you may want to follow the yahoo group kaycee-nicole to get the take of those people who broke the story in the first place. 05/22/01

:: Home again, home again. jiggedy-jig. Of course I missed you. 05/29/01

I was exposed, for the first time ever, to "the Chicken Dance", apparently a wedding reception staple, at least everyone else at the reception seemed to have seen it before. When was this invented? It's clear that at present the Chicken Dance is perpetrated by a malevolent race of evil event disc jockies, but How and Why did it start?

Oh, I did it, and eventually began laughing, overcome with the thought of me doing something like that, but, to the person standing opposite me, I apologize for the look on my face prior to that moment. 05/29/01

:: Last fall Lotronex (one of the drugs 'fast-tracked' through the FDA approval process) was pulled from the market following reports of 5 deaths linked to the use of the drug to treat irritable bowel syndrome. Now the FDA is considering bringing the drug back onto the market, despite the findings of FDA scientists that a patient who took Lotronex for three months would have a 1 in 218 chance of developing ischemic colitis, a potentially lethal condition.

The LA Times reports that the Director of the FDA's drug evaluation center, Janet Woodcock, in response to the pharmaceutical company's fear that a reevaluation of the drug would create a media circus, assured the drug's maker that 'we can manage' the media. Most appalling to me, it seems that the new assessment of the drug would be orchestrated so as to present the drug in the best light.

On May 3, Dr. David Wheadon, a subordinate to GlaxoSmithKline's Yamada, called Dr. Florence Houn, a senior aide to Woodcock, to follow up on a conversation between their bosses. Wheadon inquired about which advisors the FDA might assign to the upcoming meeting on Lotronex.

'He stated they were reluctant to go [before an advisory committee] because the statements that come from an AC meeting can be used to increase their product liability and are used inappropriately in other ways that are detrimental to the company,' Houn wrote in an e-mail summarizing her conversation with Wheadon, adding: 'I stated that FDA does not want to have unintended consequences. . . . I told him that we would work w/ them on developing the agendas and questions.'


I'm having some trouble understanding the purpose of this, but according to NYTimes columnist Paul Krugman, the President's tax plan would wait until 2010 to repeal the estate tax; then the entire plan will expire in 2011. But I thought the repeal of the estate tax was one of the main ways the Bush tax cut benefits the well-to-do? I guess not. [NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket]

(Krugman references the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, curiously described on google as a 'Liberal policy organization specializing in federal budget issues from a low-income perspective'. Curious because I don't know where that description came from.) 05/30/01

Land sakes. 05/30/01

Post-napsterism: Amazon's got some free downloads for you.... 05/30/01

Certificate To The Right To Play 05/30/01

Unintended Consequences News: Standardized testing may soon be law, but with their recent rise in popularity, test publishers have already experienced problems producing specialized, competent tests; and when high demand and understaffing leads to tests being graded incorrectly or inconsistently, the results can be life-changing. [NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket] 05/30/01

Powers for Good? News: A new email virus scans hard drives for child pornography then alerts government agencies if it finds some. 05/30/01

User-centered visually-based esperanto 05/30/01

:: Challenging conventional notions, Cambridge biochemist David Brown believes that environmental factors may be the cause of both mad-cow disease and it's human counterpart, variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease. Me? I want the environmental connection investigated very thoroughly; and whatever the findings I'd like the practice of feeding ground up bits of animals to each other to be banned forever. It strikes me as very poor hygiene, bound to lead to problems, even if somehow it is not the cause of this one. 05/31/01

The most interesting article! It's easier and easier to find organic food at the grocer's, in fact many prepared foods are now labeled 'organic'. Read about the raft of convolutions and compromises that were necessary in order to define standards for food that is organic and also highly processed; the unintended consequences and unexpected advantages of bringing organic food to the mainstream; and the individuals who have entered and rejected the Organic-Industrial Complex. [NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket] (thanks, jjg!) 05/31/01

It seems that the prehistoric woman was much more aggressive than she has been portrayed; and it seems that modern woman is much more aggressive than she lets on. 05/31/01

In protest of George W. Bush's energy policies and lack of emphasis on efficiency, conservation and alternative fuels, there will be a voluntary rolling blackout on the first day of summer, June 21 at 7pm - 10pm in every time zone. 05/31/01

Sound Portraits Productions is an independent production company dedicated to telling stories that bring neglected American voices to a national audience. Whether on the radio, in print, or on the Web, Sound Portraits is committed to producing innovative works of lasting educational, cultural, and artistic value. 05/31/01

A University of Washington professor of speech and hearing science has concluded that babies listen to all frequencies, all the time, unlike adults, who screen out most of what they hear in favor of those things they are listening for. 05/31/01

It would appear that record promotors and radio stations across the country have been participating in (gasp!) modern-day payola.

I suppose that the very fact that payola is illegal acknowledges the power of the media, even if, in this case, it is a simple matter of taste-making for financial gain. A good salesman might receive a bonus from BMW for selling more BMWs than anyone else, and even if that car lot sold many makes of cars, it wouldn't be a problem: it is the power of radio to influence people over a wide range, an expanse of influence not possible to an individual, that creates for the broadcaster a different ethical standard. That, and the fact that the airwaves belong to the public.

Given that we no longer have disc jockeys - they are 'radio personalities' now, playing whatever playlist the suit from corporate hands to them - I have some trouble seeing this as being very different than the quite common practice of media giants promoting their properties within their various media outlets. (Take AOL Time Warner: they might produce a movie through New Line Cinemas, do an HBO special on the making of the film, run a fluff pieces on it in Time and People magazines, and promote like crazy - using payola, apparently - the soundtrack, released on Elektra Entertainment.)

And despite my concerns about the concentration of media control, I still think I'd rather see the government take some action on something like, say, politicians who take large contributions from corporations and wealthy individuals, and then enact legislation that unfairly favors them over the average working man. 05/31/01