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.: 2001 --> july

july 2001
:: With embryo screening, doctors are able to ensure that children will be born without the hereditary diseases that plague their genetic line. Some parents are using this technology to ensure that their offspring are born healthy; others are using it in order to heal their children born with incurable diseases.

'Do you really want to start assessing people's motives for having kids?' says Jeff Kahn, an ethicist at the University of Minnesota, summing up the consensus in the field. 'Good luck. We just don't do that, and we shouldn't. Try to tell me if having a kid to do work on a farm is a better reason than having one to save the life of a 6-year-old....'
It's still not clear, for example, how well children like Molly Nash will assimilate the dual parental sentiments of 'We love you' and 'We didn't want to have another child like you.' Nor is it clear how children like Adam will cope with the knowledge that they were born, at least in part, to accomplish a utilitarian mission.

Who could resist the opportunity to do this? As I contemplate this technology and its ability to prevent needless suffering in the yet-unborn I keep remembering Hero Joy Nightingale, born with locked-in syndrome: she cannot speak; she cannot control her movements. In September, 1999 I linked to an AP article in which she says:

Some adults would kill me up until the day of my birth, some adults think I should be put down even though I am alive, well and kicking, some ... see me as someone who is being punished for wickedness in an earlier life, some people feel sorry for me. These people are unable to see past disability, see the whole of me. They ... fail to see the whole person is just the same as them.

And I worry that what seems cruel or inconvenient to us now may someday become necessary for our survival.
[ 07/02/01 ]

I guess this seems like a waste of a good smite-ing to me.
[ 07/02/01 ]

A MUD for the Masses: Myst may have been a large factor in the adoption of the CD-drive in home computers. One of the game's creators is working on a new online multi-player game he believes will be one of many that will lead to wide-spread adoption of broadband.
[ 07/02/01 ]

:: Nazi Command Center to Become Alpine Resort
[ 07/03/01 ]

Mexican President Vicente Fox has married his spokeswoman.
[ 07/03/01 ]

Peet's Coffee and Tea has announced its partnership with ING DIRECT, a bank, for 'a unique blend of coffee café and online banking.'

Visitors can get information about the bank products from the Café staff, select from a wide range of ING DIRECT merchandise or just relax and enjoy a cup of fresh Peet's coffee.

Peet's most recent brochure is quick to reassure that 'Extensive training is offered to all ING DIRECT employees, ensuring that each guest enjoys the freshest cup of Peet's coffee or tea.'
[ 07/03/01 ]

Jerry reminds me (okay, informs me) that today is the Luddite Ghost in the Machine Day, celebrating 'the potential for error that is innate in every machine, personified by Etaoin Shrdlu.  He is the mistake with a name, the eponym of the mistake in the machine.'
[ 07/03/01 ]

Scientists have moved to Talana, one of the purest gene pools in the world, in order to study human DNA in an attempt to discover the origins of disease - and brought in the modern world in the process.
[ 07/03/01 ]

:: To my dear readers here and abroad, Happy Independence Day! I'm taking the day off to celebrate the things I love about my country. I'll see you tomorrow.
[ 07/04/01 ]

Pasta d'Estate
[ 07/04/01 ]

:: Claus Martel: Army Historian.

How did you get your current job? I got a call from my history chair at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and was told that the army was starting a brand new program for history majors to co-op with army agencies. I was the first army history co-op graduate and the last. Reagan cutbacks killed the program.

This actually looks like a very cool job. For you military history buffs, here's the history section of the Redstone Arsenal website.
[ 07/05/01 ]

This just in: materialism will likely make you unhappy.

...one source of depression among dedicated consumers was the fact that the property they acquired tended to lose value quickly.... It also leads to conformity, based on the notion that the self in a market-based society is treated as a commodity whose value is determined externally.

[ 07/05/01 ]

Want to make her love you? Whisper into her left ear.
[ 07/05/01 ]

The livestock population in Great Britain has been well and truly devastated by the extreme herd culling in response to hoof-and-mouth disease. Now the Heifer Project is raising money to provide loans to help British farmers restock their farms. In keeping with the Heifer philosophy, loan repayments will go to buy livestock for farmers in Africa.
[ 07/05/01 ]

Do you like the Desk Pendulum Clock as well as I do? (scroll down)
[ 07/05/01 ]

If you're deaf, you may not hear the sirens go off when severe weather threatens your neighborhood. Nor will you hear a tornado as it approachs you. Voilá! Now at Oklahoma School for the Deaf, you'll receive a severe storm page.
[ 07/05/01 ]

Americans have stopped getting taller. Good nutrition and avoiding childhood illnesses has enabled Americans to reach their genetic potential: about 5' 9" for men and 5' 4" for women. Poor and immigrant populations are the exception, of course.
[ 07/05/01 ]

:: Edgar Steele, the lawyer JoAnn McGuckin asked to represent her children's interests, now says that her arrest (leading to a standoff between her children and Idaho authorities) was not motivated by fear for her children's welfare, but was part of an attempted land-grab by the state. Steele's recent involvement defending the Aryan Nation notwithstanding, her court appointed lawyer seems to agree.

'She said for years, "I've been afraid the government would come and steal my land and that they'd come to take my children away,"' Steele said. 'Her worst fears were realized. Does that make her an anti-government kook?'

[ 07/09/01 ]

It's worth your time to read what psychiatrist Eliot Gelwan has to say about clinical depression, and especially to read the poem he quotes. I realised a few years ago that there are two kinds of people: those who get depressed and those who do not. Those who do not really can't understand what the first group is going through.
[ 07/09/01 ]

Complicated Times News: No Corn is Safe! The FDA has identified a white corn product containing Starlink, the GM corn not approved for human consumption. This, after many manufacturers switched to white corn following a widespread recall last fall. Myself? I'd vastly prefer that the government require that the information be printed on every package of everything so that I can make my own choices.

Complicated Times News II: Meanwhile, the UN is set to draw up global guidelines for biotech food.

I didn't know that Julius Caesar was keeping a weblog.
[ 07/09/01 ]

Bugs diminish Wind Power

Rather than being pureed into oblivion, the bugs stick where they splat, much as they do against the windshield of a car.... Even a millimeter or two of bug crust generates sufficient aerodynamic drag to ruin the turbine's efficiency, [scientists] conclude in a study published in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.

Okay, I just like saying 'bug crust'.
[ 07/09/01 ]

This is so very sad: after suffering for 8 years from a rare allergy to light, Hannelore Kohl took her own life. She and her husband Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl are Catholic.

The Kohls first met when she was 15 and he 18 in the lean years after World War II. Kohl finally won her over with an avalanche of more than 2,000 love letters and they married in 1960.

[ 07/09/01 ]

Things I Like About My Life: I am perhaps the only individual ever to receive a handmade bull whip at her bridal shower.
[ 07/09/01 ]

:: Amazing, amazing portraits.

As people walk by, we ask them to stop for a moment, pose, and then carry on. These are not environmental portraits yet we're only successful if the city reflects itself in the people. We had the same idea in mind when we decided not to label the photos with locations. New York is bigger than its neighborhoods and a lot more than gridlock. It is the capital of the world and every single person is amazing. We hope you agree.

via little green weblog
[ 07/10/01 ]

Don't miss the 2001 results of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. (via metafilter)

western : runner up :
As he saw her step lightly down from the stagecoach, Deputy Slim Pickens reckoned that Luella Mae Bumtugger, the new schoolmarm, was 'bout as fine as frog hair; tapered legs smooth as a salamander and skinny as a newborn colt; brown eyes dark and deep as a barn owl in the shadows of midnight; and a bosom that heaved up through the low cut blouse like two hairless prairie dogs trying to back out of the same hole.

[ 07/10/01 ]

:: Living with Depression is the first chapter of Andrew Solomon's new book, The Noonday Demon. Long, and worth your time.

Spouses, parents, children, and friends are all subject to being brought down themselves, and they do not want to be close to measureless pain. No one can do anything but beg for help (if he can do even that) at the lowest depths of a major depression, but once the help is provided, it must also be accepted. We would all like Prozac to do it for us, but in my experience, Prozac doesn’t do it unless we help it along. Listen to the people who love you. Believe that they are worth living for even when you don’t believe it. Seek out the memories depression takes away and project them into the future. Be brave; be strong; take your pills. Exercise because it’s good for you even if every step weighs a thousand pounds. Eat when food itself disgusts you. Reason with yourself when you have lost your reason. These fortune-cookie admonitions sound pat, but the surest way out of depression is to dislike it and not to let yourself grow accustomed to it.
Vulnerabilities that in a previous era would have remained undetectable now blossom into full-blown clinical illness.... The climbing rates of depression are without question the consequence of modernity. The pace of life, the technological chaos of it, the alienation of people from one another, the breakdown of traditional family structures, the loneliness that is endemic, the failure of systems of belief (religious, moral, political, social — anything that seemed once to give meaning and direction to life) have been catastrophic.

[ 07/13/01 ]

The hello kitty laptop (with instructions). (thanks, lizard!)
[ 07/13/01 ]

This just in: a news article from 1386.
[ 07/13/01 ]

What do you know? It seems that even at one year old, babies remember music from before they were born - and can distinguish between music that is like the music they heard, and the music they did hear.
[ 07/13/01 ]

The Allentown Pennsylvania Ozone Action Partnership is hoping their settlement from a recent lawsuit will last through three summers of them subsidizing free bus rides on the days when the air is worst.
[ 07/13/01 ]

If you're an 85-year-old playboy who has unexpectedly outlived your money, what do you do? Well, get a job, naturally.

Guinle has been hired by the 'Entre Amigos,' or 'Among Friends' travel agency to put his talents and contacts to use as a guide for rich Brazilians traveling in Europe and the United States. 'This is an enchanting job, cut to order!' Guinle said with the enthusiasm of a teen-ager.

thanks, sebastian!
[ 07/13/01 ]

It's a really stupid name, and we can hope the moniker-makers will come up with something a little more palatable in the next few years. Because the problem isn't going way: the sandwich generation is having a hard time taking care of both their children and their elderly parents.

This survey, conducted by the AARP indicates that while most are coping well, one-third feel heavily burdened by the responsibility of caring for two generations; and it is the poor, naturally, who feel least supported.

'Low-income individuals ... feel more stressed about their responsibilities and are less able to take time off work to help care for family members,' the AARP report said. 'Individuals with low incomes also report being more overwhelmed by their family responsibilities.'

Someone needs to change that name soon, though: they're building on it.
[ 07/13/01 ]

:: I haven't mentioned the new location and spiffy backend for the mirror project. It's always a worthwhile visit; spend some time clicking "random"
[ 07/16/01 ]

Pure Evil News: 'Philip Morris Cos. officials in the Czech Republic have been distributing an economic analysis concluding that cigarette consumption isn't a drag on the country’s budget, in part because smokers' early deaths help offset medical expenses.'

Will everyone just take a moment to join me in spitting on the floor?
[ 07/16/01 ]

Meanwhile, tobacco companies are using images of strong, independent women to market their product to women around the world. Hey, it worked like a charm in the US when equality was something new to be savored....
[ 07/16/01 ]

You've Come a Long Way, Baby News: Bully Broads

Their bosses are insecure around them, and colleagues will not cooperate. Bully broads get no cooperation from their fellow workers, and end up working solo, and becoming tired and despondent because of it. Instead Hollands suggests taking a number of steps: talking slowly so other people can listen and respond, giving feedback to others and even walking slowly so people don't feel bowled over. She also advises participants to smile, use softer voices, and self-deprecation or stammering [ed note: !!!!!] when speaking.

[ 07/16/01 ]

Have you seen the ads for the drug that will treat 'social anxiety disorder'? It seems that they've been very successful...and raised a few questions about the state of the pharmaceutical industry.

So successful was the campaign that according to a marketing newsletter, media accounts of social anxiety rose from just 50 stories in 1997 and 1998 to more than 1 billion references in 1999 alone. And about 96 percent of the stories, said the report in PR News, 'delivered the key message, "Paxil is the first and only FDA-approved medication for the treatment of social anxiety disorder...."'
The education and advertising campaigns have raised concerns that pharmaceutical companies, traditionally in the business of finding new drugs for existing disorders, are increasingly in the business of seeking new disorders for existing drugs.

[ 07/16/01 ]

In a related item, Families USA just released a report that finds pharmaceuticals spend nearly twice as much to advertise their medicines as to research and develop them, undercutting claims that high drug prices are the result of research and development.
[ 07/16/01 ]

How Bush Took Florida: Mining the Overseas Vote is the result of a six-month study by the New York Times. It's a long, important, and I think, very even-handed inside view of one aspect of the hardest political ball I'll probably ever see played in my lifetime. Well worth your time, even if the only lesson to be learned is that the team with more unethical thugs, wins. [NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket]

via Metafilter
[ 07/16/01 ]

I pointed you to the WSJ weblog a few weeks ago, but I guess I wasn't paying much attention to the opinions expressed; when I took a look today, my eyebrows shot straight up to my hairline and simply lived there the entire time I was on the page.
[ 07/16/01 ]

:: Gen X women: fashion savvy and money-stupid.

'The study found that 54 percent of women said they expect to accumulate 30 pairs of shoes before they save $30,000 for retirement,' said Hobson. What they don't realize is that... if a 25-year-old woman invested the approximately $50 she spent on each one of those 30 pairs, assuming there is a 10 percent return on that money, those sandals and boots would be worth $80,551 at a retirement age of 65.

I do have a question about this mythical 10% return on the investments in each of these little exercises.
[ 07/17/01 ]

Still, that was pretty straightforward, wasn't it? Now read this

The Federal Reserve Bank reported today that American consumers added $6.5 billion to their personal debt in May, an increase of nearly 5 percent. At the same time, people are borrowing at a slower rate than they have in the past 1½ years. This is not necessarily a good thing....

Buh?

Average credit card debt in the US is $8,100, but economists still find it worrisome that consumers suddenly have become less inclined to borrow? Granted, that might result in a levelling or even reduction of consumer spending, but it seems to me that if any significant percentage of consumer spending consistently requires that the consumer borrow at high rates, all you're doing is building a vast, elaborate pyramid scheme.

It's worth revisiting the words of Allen Rosenthal in the Salon article I linked in April.

'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. You had to have a good reason. But now, people go into debt one pizza at a time.'

But then, I'm just a simple man of the people.
[ 07/17/01 ]

I have to introduce you to dollarshort. Mena's doing lovely work, recently introducing me to What Was Home Economics?, a historical retrospective of--you guessed it--at Cornell University; and now starting a website for her new hobby, sewing. Project 1: the Bubblegum Dress.

I've been dreaming of getting my sewing cabinet out of storage, but I always seem to be much more interested in the idea of sewing than the actual doing of it. Mena's dress site is just delightful, but I'm certain I'd never have the energy to both sew something and concurrently document it.
[ 07/17/01 ]

Money Changes Everything News: For the record, I'm in favor of drug treatment over incarceration. It's worth noting that treatment works only when an individual wants to stay sober more than they want to be high. So far, that doesn't seem to have been the case here. At least, in view of his past history, I imagine the judge for some nobody-23-year-old would view any such claim very skeptically.
[ 07/17/01 ]

Vicki links to an article about the company that is behind the push for privatization of social security.

The Frank Russell Company--creator of the Russell 2000 small-cap stock index--is known within the financial-services industry for spearheading privately funded initiatives aimed at spreading laissez-faire principles of economic organization in former socialist or mixed economies around the world. This has often meant setting up organizations that advocate the privatization of social-insurance programs: exactly what CAFS is now designed to do in the United States.

via Yet Another Weblog
[ 07/17/01 ]

Shall we read about the manure of tomorrow? Actually, it's the manure by-products of tomorrow. I'd like to cast a vote right now against extracting undigested proteins to feed back to the cows, can we all agree on that? That way lies madness, or mad-cowness as the case may be.

'Swine and poultry waste, I'd rather not touch. I'd rather handle cow manure. But that's just a personal thing.'

[ 07/17/01 ]

:: The NYT Practical Traveller has heard some stories in her time writing the column. Pay close attention as she distills 14 years of experience into one page of solid travel wisdom. A word of wisdom from me: the NYT charges for access to its archive. Consider printing this out and filing it under "travel". [NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket] (via xblog)
[ 07/18/01 ]

Ever wonder what lies at www.marquise.de? La Couturière Parisienne, a wonderful source for historical costume information and patterns.
[ 07/18/01 ]

Breast News: Finally a breast enhancement system that works!

The new vacuum-powered apparatus, known as Brava, consists of oversize plastic cones fitted under a large zip-up sports bra that has to be worn at least 10 hours a day for a minimum of 10 weeks.... In initial studies, 200 women using it added a bra cup size to their breasts.

I am not making this up.
[ 07/18/01 ]

The Supreme Court has agreed to decide if swapping papers to correct them violates students' privacy rights.
[ 07/18/01 ]

:: I just found this, and it's worth at least 30 minutes of your day today. theyrule is an amazing and unbelievably useful tool for mapping the relationships between corporations, their board members and on. Who owns what? Who donates to whom? Who answers to whom? How many whoms?

Once you move through the opening screens, I advise you to look first at the about page to see what all you can do. Additionally, you can save maps you make, and look at maps others have constructed.

Go see who runs the world. (via metafilter)
[ 07/19/01 ]

:: The New York Times has another story the contradictory nature of the healthy foods offered by natural foods stores, a more anecdotal look than was Behind the Organic-Industrial Complex. [NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket] (thanks, ray!)
[ 07/20/01 ]

Mean Cuisine looks at the growing interest in organic seasonal foods and asks if the main appeal of these foods might not be snobbery.

I'll tell you the truth: I think there's a great deal of truth in that charge. Unfortunately, the author's obdurate blindness to any of the advantages of locally produced organic foods puts him at risk of being dismissed as an apologist for NAFTA and the chemical industry. It's too bad. He asks some very good questions (how clean is imported food? are small amounts of pesticide residues harmful?)

Certainly, the energy-saving advantages of buying locally are obvious when you consider that such food is transported only a short distance. As for the dangers of pesticides, the website for Bill Moyer's Trade Secrets offers this:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets maximum exposure limits for all pesticides, but relies on spot checks to gauge compliance. As a result, it is almost impossible to know the amount of pesticide residues on supermarket produce. Independent lab tests for the Washington-based, non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) have found that 'two in 25 apples have pesticide levels so hazardous that a two-year-old child eating half an apple, or less, would exceed the government's daily safe exposure level.'

In short, while the argument for 'high food' as the latest bit of Bobo elitism is fun and, I think, very astute, the author ignores the many real advantages of local, organic food, and, most importantly, misses the fact that people's choices often are informed simultaneously by both the laudable and the petty. (via Follow Me Here)
[ 07/20/01 ]

Soon, oh, soon, you may be drinking milk from cloned cows.
[ 07/20/01 ]

Are you receiving a tax rebate this year? This group wants you to pledge that money to a group that is fighting the Bush agenda; I think you would do as well simply to give it to an organization that is being undermined by the policies of the new administration. I wish I could send mine in to be paid against the debt, since I happen to believe strongly that that's where the money should have gone.
[ 07/20/01 ]

It's a fairly typical story about the Bush Administration and international pressure on global warming. The most interesting bits come late in the story:

The latest scientific research shows the "greenhouse effect" -- in which carbon dioxide, methane and other pollutants help trap the sun's heat in Earth's atmosphere -- has accelerated greatly in recent years. A study by a U.N. scientific body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, concluded the 1990s were probably the hottest decade in history and 1998 the warmest year since record-keeping began in 1861.
At a conference in Amsterdam last week, about 1,500 scientists were shown evidence that the Arctic ice cap has already shrunk much faster than expected and caused a massive flow of fresh water into the North Atlantic that could be disrupting the Gulf Stream, which helps temper Europe's climate. Some scientists forecast that if left unchecked, the process could shut down the Gulf Stream within this century and make a stretch of land from London to Stockholm almost uninhabitable.


[ 07/20/01 ]

:: It's going to be a little slow around here for a little while. I'll be back to updating in two weeks. Meanwhile, my portal beckons.
[ 07/23/01 ]

Q7A: one question, seven answers. Your answers. (Jump in: the site is just getting started, so your questions and answers are more-than-usually wanted.)
[ 07/23/01 ]

I'm very sorry to tell you that GreaterGood has closed its doors, taking thehungersite and its associated sites with it.
[ 07/23/01 ]

:: In April, 1999. I started my weblog. One week later, the smartest weblog I knew linked to me. I wrote; he wrote back. We met. I moved. Today I married him.
[ 07/28/01 ]