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.: 2001 --> december
Scientists have found DNA from genetically modified crops in wild maize growing on remote mountains in Mexico.' (ahem)
The Aqua Massage
Wall Street Journal editor Albert Hunt imagines the aftermath of 9.11 under Gore and concludes that the nation is better served by a Bush presidency -- because the political right would have engaged in petty partisan bickering and accusations instead of supporting the elected President.
Since 1997, pharmaceutical companies have been allowed to advertise their products directly to consumers. These companies claim that they are empowering consumers and prompting them to seek medical care for conditions that would otherwise go untreated. Critics claim that these ads provide consumers with little or no information about the drug or the condition it is designed to treat (I noticed this a while back) and that advertising actually drives up the cost of prescription drugs. I would label the drug companies' contention that 'there is no evidence that directly ties the advertising to increased sales' to be disingenuous: they wouldn't spend the money on advertising unless they felt it had a measurable effect on sales. And, while this has nothing to do with the facts, this 'no direct causality' business reminds me of the tobacco companies, who simply cannot be convinced of a direct link between smoking and lung cancer. But read it all, see what you think.
The Kaiser study found that 30 percent of Americans have asked their doctor about a drug they saw advertised. Of those, 44 percent received a prescription. That translates into 1 in 8 Americans who saw a drug on TV and ended up with it in a medicine cabinet. [...]
'Advertising is not intended to be a benefit to the people it reaches,' says Larry Sasich, a pharmacist at Public Citizen's Health Research Group, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group in Washington. 'Its purpose is to increase demand, and it appears to be doing that well.'
I should have mentioned earlier: Bruce Sterling's weblog at Infinite Matrix is back. While you're visiting, check out the entire issue.
MSNBC's ombudsman reminds of some basic media literacy priciples in How To Tell Good News From Bad A consumer's guide to recognizing quality journalism. (thanks, jjg!)
Information Literacy Resources Both of these articles will live on think.
Salon interviews Pat Buchanan. I found this to be an extremely interesting read; Mr Buchanan considers current events, history, GOP attacks on his book, and the state of democracy in the US.
There's a gigantic vested interest in open borders. It comes from the Wall Street Journal, it comes from big business. And now it comes from big labor who sees all kinds of union members in future restaurant workers. And from churches who see immigrants filling up their empty pews. And all the folks who put the idea of the economy ahead of their country.
It does not come from the American people, a vast majority of whom want legal immigration restricted to a low level and illegal immigration stopped. But just like NAFTA we have this virtual democracy where the opinions of the American people simply do not count in the making of policy. Instead it's the dictates of the Supreme Court and the corporations. Politicians realize that the attention span of the people is short. So the business round-table walks in, and they say, 'This is it, this is what we want for this session of Congress,' and they get it.
[ 12/05/01 ]
Though at least one met their target during November, aid agencies are now facing severe difficulties due to neighboring countries' restrictions on refugees and wartime security measures that restrict access to those who need help; meanwhile, lawlessness within the country itself is making it dangerous to deliver supplies.
Bill French, chief ingenuity officer of collaboration software developer Starbase, on why email sucks
Part of the problem is that if someone was going to design a system for business communication, e-mail as we know it today would not be the result. A checklist of required attributes would probably include the ability to detect the type of device being used, where an employee is using it, and how secure it is. 'E-mail is practically the opposite of what we would build,' French said.
[ed note: hello? chief ingenuity officer? ] (via evhead)
:: The Lord of the Onion Rings: Excerpts In Which Some Words Are Replaced by Phrases Borrowed from Burger King's Lord of the Rings Promotion.
Always way late to the party, I know, but if you haven't found it already, you will love spin sanity.
:: Very Cheerful News: The Royal Shakespeare Company has broken with tradition and cast a black actor as an English king.
[Actor] David [Oyelowo] really is a bit of a genius. It is colour blind casting, his son will be white and there is no hint of illegitimacy.
Meanwhile, the Merchant of Venice has been translated into Maori and made into a film.
From the Atlantic, Back to School Elinor Burkett, who at age fifty-five became a member of the class of 2000, reports on high school today through a journalist's eyes.
:: net narrative environments points us to the authority finder and asks, is this such a good idea?
Whether you are writing a paper, business plan, speech, or simply looking for reliable research material, use Authority Finder to locate a quote from an authoritative source to support your hypothesis or argument.
[ 12/07/01 ]
'If I would retire, what would I retire to?' he asked puzzledly. 'I'm doing what I love to do.' [...] Outside of work, Fisher keeps his body active with twice-a-week workouts at the gym (which he joined at age 70). He also recently took up yoga with one of his nine children, the oldest of whom is now 75.
[ 12/11/01 ]
Tracking -- and thwacking -- the bombing for oil meme. Excellent work up to the final paragraphs, which are as reductionist as he accuses the conspiracy theorists of being. For so many people, it seems, only one thing at a time can be true. (via linklust)
:: Another conspiracy theory, this one speculating that the CIA knew well ahead of time that the attacks would happen on 9.11. Here's the point that has always bothered me:
September 11, 2001, For 35 minutes, from 8:15 AM until 9:05 AM, with it widely known within the FAA and the military that four planes have been simultaneously hijacked and taken off course, no one notifies the President of the United States. It is not until 9:30 that any Air Force planes are scrambled to intercept, but by then it is too late. This means that the National Command Authority waited for 75 minutes before scrambling aircraft, even though it was known that four simultaneous hijackings had occurred - an event that has never happened in history.
[ 12/11/01 ]
Here's a listing of alternative news sources; or, just go straight to the National Security archive to concoct your own conspiracy theories.
Oh Dear News: Turkish officials are caught taking bribes on television.
:: 'Enron paid out $55 million in bonuses to executives and other employees two days prior to filing for bankruptcy, the company confirmed today. A total of 500 employees received bonuses.'
Wouldn't it be nice if this scandal changed some of the laws that govern corporations?
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I just crack myself up. (via ethel)
Search Engine Guide; interesting stuff is a nice collection of just that, featuring these and more:
:: In the wee hours of the night, Congress votes itself a pay raise
Members of Congress are on their way to a $4,900 pay raise in January, thanks to a late-night move in the Senate that stopped an effort to block the salary hike. The 3.4 percent raise will hike members' annual salaries to $150,000.
After a five-minute debate late Friday night, the Senate used a 65-33 procedural vote to defeat an effort by Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wisconsin, to stop the increase from taking effect. [...]
Feingold questioned the timing of a congressional pay boost when 'our economy is in a recession and hundreds of thousands of workers have been laid off.' He also noted that the string of four straight budget surpluses is now expected to end.
[ 12/12/01 ]
Feingold, you will recall, was also the lone dissenter against the 'anti-terrorism bill'.
:: Did you see the NYTimes Year in Ideas? It's fantastic. Presented today for your enjoyment, two entries. [NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket]
Acquired Situational Narcissism
In the acquired situational narcissist, it is...fed by people who surround him. Even worse, the view of the world the acquired situational narcissist is getting is, when you think about it, quite reasonable. 'They are different,' says Millman. 'They're not normal. And why would they feel normal when every person in the world who deals with them treats them as if they're not?'
A look at one of the movement's writings provides a clue to its passions. 'We are enslaved by speed,' it reads, 'and have all succumbed to the same insidious virus - fast life, which disrupts our habits . . . and forces us to eat fast foods.'
[ 12/12/01 ]
:: King Bush Shuts Out Congress
President Bush invoked executive privilege for the first time Thursday to keep Congress from seeing documents of prosecutors' decision-making in cases ranging from a decades-old Boston murder to the Clinton-era fund-raising probe.
'I believe congressional access to these documents would be contrary to the national interest,' Bush wrote in a memo ordering Attorney General John Ashcroft to withhold the documents from a House investigative committee that subpoenaed them. [...]
Republicans and Democrats alike excoriated the decision, suggesting Bush was creating a 'monarchy' or 'imperial' presidency to keep Congress for overseeing the executive branch and guarding against corruption. The Republican House committee chairman who sought the documents raised the possibility of taking Bush to court for contempt of Congress.
'Everyone is in agreement you guys are making a big mistake,' Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., told Justice lawyers at a hearing after the announcement. 'We might be able to go to the (House) floor and take this thing to court.'
(thanks, lizard! who says: "he's like nixon lite: all the BS, half the IQ points.")
:: There's an interesting conversation raging on SIGIA: a bunch of information architects and their ilk trying to hash out how best to present themselves in the marketplace. It seems that online portfolios are the thing, but what should such a portfolio include? And how do you construct your resume to appeal to both the hiring manager and to appease the software that a recruiting agency or HR department will use? FWIW, here's my advice:
It used to be that I thought your resume should synopsize your experience, and your cover letter should contextualize that experience (ie, tell the person reading it what to see when they read your resume). These days it may be best to optimize your resume for a machine, customize your cover letter for a human, and use your online portfolio to provide further insight into your work.
There are some examples of online portfolios at the IAWiki. (And while I'm there, the IAWiki global navigation needs two more links: all pages and categories. As it is, I find the navigation aggravatingly, ironically useless.)
For those new to wikis, the one minute wiki will give you a good idea. It's one of the most interesting things happening on the web at the moment, in my opinion. The Wikipedia is an online collaborative encyclopedia; started in January, 2001, they already have over 18,000 articles, all contributed and edited by volunteers.
Comedy Gold: In which two business travellers receive poor treatment at the hands of a night clerk and create a power point presentation to convey their complaint to hotel management. Not to be missed. (via jjg via good experience newsletter)
Major Religions Ranked by Numbers of Adherents (via captain cursor)
:: Can this be right? Members of Congress are to consider a bill which, if signed into law, would unilaterally exempt U.S. armed forces from prosecution by a proposed International Criminal Court and ban military aid for developing countries that ratify its creation.
The American Servicemembers' Protection Act (ASPA) forbids any U.S. cooperation with the court, including the provision of intelligence information needed to prosecute war criminals. It also authorizes the use of military force to gain the release of any U.S. or allied personnel detained or imprisoned by the court, leading some of its critics to call it "The Hague Invasion Act," after the city where the court is to be based.
Human Rights Watch is pleading for US citizens to contact their representatives to speak against ASPA; the UN Reformer has some words about Congressional opponents of the International Criminal Court; the Religious Action Center opposes it; in fact it doesn't seem to be very popular at all (though most of the oppositional webpages I found seem to lean left).
It would be nice to see a cogent defense of this bill, because on its face, this looks like an egregiously arrogant (not to mention bullying) stance for the United States to take. But oddly, the above article is the only one I can find; the Washington Post, NY Times, et al apparently do not consider this news.
:: On a side note, I just spent some time looking at the Wall Street Journal editorial page, and I'm so disappointed. I honestly would like a good news source that skews to the right. There are obviously spin-makers on both sides, and the press hardly bothers to cut through the hyperbole to report the facts, they seem to practically reprint the press releases. It would be nice to find a source for factual, thoughtful arguments from a point of view I don't necessarily agree with.
At the Opinionjournal, it's just more of the same: heavy-handed attacks on wild mischaracterizations of the left; I could read it to learn what the other side is thinking, but it's not a place to learn about the other side's point of view (since, of course, one assumes the other side actually has formulated intelligent opinions about the day's events).
:: Learn how an unbalanced life creates invisible stressors that sap your strength and ruin your fun. Top notch advice.
Draw up a list of values, including spirituality, financial growth, relationships, control, adventure, and so on. Circle any that are important to you, or add others to the list. Now narrow that list down to your three core values, and ask yourself, 'Is there a gap between what I say that I value and how I behave?'
Bridging that gap is essential to achieving 'enoughness,' because living with that gap means that you're living in conflict with yourself.
'NBC is announcing today a change in policy whereby the network will accept distilled spirits ads after 9 p.m., making the peacock web the first major broadcast network to lift its blanket ban on liquor advertising' but there are lots of rules.
[ 12/18/01 ]
Dori recommends Instapundit for the thoughtful conservative viewpoint I was lamenting earlier, and Seth points out that the Wall Street Journal news gathering operation is independent of their editorial staff and suggests that business-oriented journalists have a vested interest in reporting the truth, since their constituency will lose money if they avoid publishing unpopular but relevant facts. He also suggests looking to the Economist as a potential source.
:: Rafe has a long, thoughtful post on civilian casualties in Afghanistan.
What haunts me as I read the paper is the number of casualties that we've inflicted on the Afghans. Ignore the fact that the numbers are certainly incorrect -- whether the actual number of casualties is half what the author calculated or twice what he calculated, the bottom line is the US military has killed a lot of innocent men, women, and children in our war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
I'm troubled by this too. There is a big difference between 'not intentionally targeting civilians' (what the government says it is doing) and 'keeping civilian casualties to an absolute minimum' (what I hear a lot of war apologists saying we are doing).
I don't think the US is promiscuously targeting civilians, but I have no confidence that they are seeking to avoid those casualties, either. How many casualties would be considered 'regrettable but acceptable' if the Taliban had taken over North Carolina, and we believed that OBL was hiding there? How many if they had taken over British Columbia? (And would this be a different number if they had taken over Puerto Rico or part of Mexico? What about Cuba?)
Meanwhile, Craig points to a TomPaine interview with Medea Benjamin, part of a four-woman delegation which just returned from Afghanistan and reported on conditions there. She observed that much is not being reported in the US media, to journalists' frustration.
Well, I didn't know that massive numbers of people were not getting food aid because the U.S. was blocking an international force from coming in to open up the roads so that aid could get in. And I also had no idea to the extent of innocent victims, who were killed by U.S. bombs, until I realized that everywhere we went, we found people who had stories to tell of loved ones who were killed in the bombing....
...many of the press people we met on the ground were extremely frustrated, because they wanted to do stories about these issues, like the innocent victims, like their colleagues were doing in Europe and in the Arab and other press, but found that the stories were not wanted back in the U.S. Either they would do them and they'd never make it to the air or in print, or they were just plain out told, we don't want those stories. We're talking about everyone from the mainstream TV, to the most widely read papers in the United States, but particularly, I think, the frustration we found was among the TV people.
Based on her own observations, she estimates that there must be at minimum one thousand casualties in Afghanistan. And she worries that media reports will lead the US public to believe that we are lauded throughout Afghanistan, when, in fact, this may not be the case.
[ 12/18/01 ]
:: Public Service Announcement: If you get an email that apologizes for sending you a virus, then explains how to remove the file from your computer, do not follow the directions. This is a hoax, and the directions describe how to remove from your computer a file that you need.
If you use a PC, you must install anti-virus software, and I would advise you to set it to update once a week. If you think you have a computer virus, go to your anti-virus software maker's website and download the latest update. Then let the software take care of identifying and eradicating the virus. If you haven't installed one yet, go to a online virus scanner to check yourself out -- then go get some software of your own.
My smart computer friends recommend e-trust (Computer Associates), Symantec Norton Anti-Virus, and McAfee AntiVirus, in that order. You will pay a small fee for each of them, but they are well worth the cost. If your computer came with a different anti-virus software, it's probably fine, but set it to update very frequently. If you decide to install a new anti-virus software, be sure to uninstall your old anti-virus software first, as having two running at the same time may create problems.
An easy way to minimize your risk of acquiring and sending a virus is to use an email client other than Outlook or Outlook Express. My favorite is the Bat!; Eudora has devoted fans worldwide; and Pocomail comes with a pre-installed spam filter. If you don't particularly like these choices, there are many others to choose from. After transferring your current address book to your new email client, remember to delete all the addresses from your Outlook address book as an extra precaution.
Finally, when it's time to upgrade your computer, consider buying a Mac. The interfaces are superficially different, but if you can use one, you can use the other. In fact, many Mac users are so devoted that they wouldn't consider using anything else.
:: Brian Lowry ponders the sexualization of female newscasters.
One has to wonder what message this trend delivers to aspiring female journalists. Should they include evening gown and swimsuit photos along with their broadcast reels and résumés? And if resembling Malibu Beach Barbie is truly a job requirement, then what kind of career longevity can these women aspire to when someone is sure to come along in a few years who looks better in a bustier?
Judith Marlane, professor in the department of radio, television and film at Cal State Northridge and author of the book 'Women in Television News Revisited,' said the tendency to display women in TV news so provocatively represents a step backward gender-wise and a concession to entertainment values.
'From a credibility standpoint, it really shows we are regressing,' Marlane said. 'The fights for acceptance of the past 25 years have really been ignored.' [...]
Martha Lauzen, a professor at San Diego State University who has monitored roles for women in prime-time entertainment, sees some of the same issues affecting news. Lauzen has found that the number of women working behind the scenes on television series invariably influences women's on-screen status, both in raw numbers and in the manner in which they're depicted. In other words, the path to equality in front of the camera usually begins behind it.
via jjg via pantsmail
:: Last night a judge threw out Mumia Abu-Jamal's death sentence. At 6pm last night, here are the headlines (many of which have since changed):
MSNBC: Judge throws out Abu-Jamal's sentence, Death row prisoner could get life
ABCNews.com: Mumia Abu-Jamal's Sentence Thrown Out, Judge Order New Hearing for Convicted Cop Killer Facing Death
CNN: Death sentence overturned in cop killing
NYTimes: Judge Overturns Death Sentence for Former Radio Journalist
Washington Post: Journalist Abu-Jamal's Death Sentence Thrown Out
BBC: Abu-Jamal's death sentence overturned
Now, Abu-Jamal was found guilty of murdering a police officer; this judge found irregularities with his trial, and has overturned the death sentence, not the ruling. Still, when a man has consistently declared that he is innocent of the crime of which he was convicted, is it appropriate for a news organization to refer to him as a 'cop killer'?
It's also a good illustration of one of the problems in citing online sources: articles change, often (usually?) with no notice that they have done so. If you wish to cite an online source, your best bet may be to copy the article in its entirety (copyright laws notwithstanding). At the very least, include the date and especially the time in your citation.[ 12/19/01 ]
You Go Grrrl News: Joan Collins is engaged to marry a 36-year-old theatre manager. And I thought I was a rebel. One wonders, though: what is a 'saucy black basque'?
Happy Solstice! In honor of Christmas, Rebecca's Pocket will be on hiatus for all of next week. Have a Bright and Merry Holiday (whichever you choose to celebrate) and a Warm and Safe New Year. Bless all of you for visiting Rebecca's Pocket; your daily presence and thoughtful messages warm me throughout the year. Thank you always for your support.
Madison Ave. Grapples With Post-Sept. 11 Era [NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket]
:: So do small business owners: Holiday Shopping with the rich [NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket]
...Zitomer, the Madison Avenue pharmacy and department store, has canceled its order for gas masks. Instead, said Sharon Sternheim, an owner, the store is doing a brisk business in $255 mink teddy bears made from recycled fur coats.
'I had a very large order of gas masks being held for me, but I canceled it,' Mrs. Sternheim said.
Customers had asked for masks, and in special colors rather than standard military fare, to match their wardrobes. Really.
[ 12/21/01 ]
:: Meanwhile, in another part of town, police have begun evicting the homeless who camp near a church when the few beds inside are filled; the church offers bathroom facilities and a place to warm up to all who sleep nearby. Church officials, puzzled by the sudden change in policy, are fighting the evictions. [NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket]
'The police kept banging on the boxes, questioning them about their health and discussing foot fungus,' Ms. Shafer said.
[ 12/21/01 ]
A surprising article about the war in Afghanistan from that progressive rag, Modern Maturity: Ghosts of Our Past, via media-squatters
And a look at the new, gruesome pamphlets US forces are now dropping on Afghanistan.
Be of Good Cheer News: In the Congo, child soldiers are being demobilized
And two more from the NYTimes Year in Ideas:
Thanks to Anita, Anil, and Will for explaining that a 'saucy basque' is a bustier with marsala on it.
And to those who have commented on the technical accuracy of calling Mumia a 'cop-killer' I would put forth the idea that a phrase can be technically accurate and at the same time, inflammatory. Newspapers generally would refer to a pedophile as a 'convicted child molester' not a 'baby-rapist'. Surely it is not less reprehensible to harm a child than it is to kill an individual who has (nobly -- but freely) elected to put himself in harms way.