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.: 2002 --> april


april 2002
:: Happy April Fool's Day!
jish :: the Register :: met4filter :: fairvue :: anil :: brad :: and more....
[ 04/01/02 ]

:: Marketing to urban hipsters: reaching the lucrative upscale liquor market.

'It's a strategy of planting a message using what we call key influencers, and it is incredibly effective,' says Chip Martella, partner at Westport, Conn.-based brand marketing firm Fusion 5. 'If you can effectively create your brand and come up with a salient message that's compelling for the key influencer, it's proven that you can slowly begin to effect the larger community.'

[ 04/01/02 ]

:: It seems that beef from corn-fed cattle is worse for you than beef from cattle which eat grass: not only is it fattier, its fat is less healthy for you. Of course, the USDA grading system rewards heavily marbled beef over that which is less fatty. Writer Michael Pollen does an extraordinary job of clearly describing the complex system that has evolved to produce affordable beef in this country, and he offers some alternatives for those who finish this article wishing they could participate in a different system of beef production. It's worth your time to read the whole thing. [NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket]

The article echoes what I read years ago in Diet for a Small Planet: last century's green revolution triggered a surfeit of grain; in a strategy designed to prevent this overabundance from flooding the market and bring grain prices to levels that would seriously harm farmers, the extra grain is given to cattle, creating the marbled cuts we now expect. The book even claims that the US government had to go on a bit of a public relations campaign in order to sell the public on the idea that this fattier meat tasted better, and was thus more desirable.

And, naturally, it requires more energy and a heavy reliance on antibiotics to produce our modern-day steak than in the old range-fed system. Note that this article claims that the problems associated with slaughterhouses are really much better than this article from one year ago described; I hope that's true.
(via medley)
[ 04/01/02 ]

:: The Nation's Gene Seymour talks with five African-American filmmakers about opportunity, the times, and the state of their art.

There's not one pullquote that can encapsulate this article, because the news is very, very good, and very, very frustrating, and there are all sorts of factors at work. It's not terribly long. Just go read it, it's fascinating.
[ 04/01/02 ]

:: Mapping the Ideological Divide

Starts and sales of columns by conservatives haven't risen much as the country's political mood turned rightward after Sept. 11. One reason is that, even before then, conservative columnists already outnumbered and outsold liberal ones.
At the eight biggest syndicates, there are roughly 35 conservative versus 30 liberal columnists -- in addition to several dozen moderate or hard-to-categorize writers. [...]
And there are more conservative columnists on the far right than liberal ones on the far left. Then again, there are more liberal political cartoonists on Op-Ed pages.

This is a very interesting breakdown of how syndicated columnists break down, and why. [ 04/01/02 ]

:: I had an outstanding used-book shopping weekend,. The books I bought are so old they don't have ISBN numbers on them:

Delineator Cookbook (1934 ed) from the Delineator Institute, which seems to have been a sort of 'Good Housekeeping' outfit judging by their motto: Investigates, Proves, and Endorses.

Everyday Foods, a food science text by Jessie W. Harris (1927 ed)

Both of these volumes remind me of the terrific modernism of the 20s, the desire to apply science to every facet of life, and thus to improve its quality.

Woman's Institute Library of Dressmaking Volumes 1 'Sewing Materials' (1924 ed) and 3 'Care of Clothing' (1926 ed). Though my copy doesn't indicate the author's name, it would seem that Mary Brooks Picken is the author. I am a huge fan of MBP's books; she went on to have quite a long career writing sewing manuals. All of them are very informative and quite charmingly written.

I love these books and books like them. It's hard for me to tell if 'women's work' was once more highly regarded than it is now, or if it was only by a small subset of visionary men and especially women who sought to apply the scientific method to the 'women's arts' in order to demystify and standardize them for women everywhere.
[ 04/02/02 ]

:: Are you reading Today's Papers every day? Today it usefully notes that none of the papers it covers (NY Times, LA Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today) link to a photo in their stories about the document Israelis claim proves Arafat's ties to terrorists, and the Palestinian Authority claims is a forgery. They note that readers may have been interested in seeing the document: its letterhead is in English. [ed: see note on 04/04 entry]
[ 04/03/02 ]

:: Not a weblog, just a list. But what a list. (via leuschke.org)
[ 04/03/02 ]

:: Anil has been thinking about the future of India and Pakistan and though I don't think the time has yet come for his vision, he has some very interesting ideas. Go read, think about it, and then pass it on.
[ 04/03/02 ]

:: The oryx-loving lioness adopted baby oryx number 3 on Easter.
[ 04/03/02 ]

:: Did you know that a traditional pointe shoe may last only one hour? Using plastics to create a better pointe shoe.
[ 04/03/02 ]

:: Correction! Alert reader Peter Svensk points out that the Palestinian letterhead appears to contain both Arabic and English.
[ 04/04/02 ]

:: A Palestinian Weblog: Electronic Intifada

Today, between 5,000 and 6,000 people -- Israeli peace activists, Palestinians in Israel and Palestinian MK's in the Israeli Knesset -- marched to the Kalandia checkpoint.... By accident, one young Palestinian woman found herself on the other side of the checkpoint. She returned to us by climbing over the checkpoint. The soldiers and police began to argue with her (after she arrived to the other side of the checkpoint, our side). A policeman lost his temper and began to beat her, the green light for the police to throw more tear gas at the crowd, dispersing us again.
The police were indiscriminately beating people - friends running away were smashed with batons, the police pushed an old man before me. The press was affected by the tear gas. It seemed that they had been specifically targeted. They were clearly marked with 'TV' - it's impossible that the police didn't't see that.

Read more about the Electronic Intifada. (thanks, Dinah!)

An Israeli Weblog: Tal G in Jerusalem

What I've seen in American and European media is a total disconnect between what Israel is doing in Ramallah and the 60 or so Palestinian bombings of the past month. Let me inform anyone reading that it is in fact the case that the latter that has predicated the former. Instead of saying 'Arafat hangs up on CNN to dodge terrorism question', an AP dispatch said that he 'criticized pro-Israeli bias'

more Israeli weblogs

I wish they would read each other's weblogs.
[ 04/04/02 ]

:: Pray. Hard. [NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket] (Thanks, Anil!)
[ 04/04/02 ]

:: Living the purposeful life

The ultimate question is, What is your vision of the good life? In this culture, there's a tendency to talk about the good life in consumerist terms. It's all external. We measure the good life by the car we drive, the Scotch we drink, the designer brand we wear, the community we live in. In doing research for my books I ask people for their definition of the good life. Remarkably, I hear the same answer: The good life means living in the place where you belong, being with the people you love, doing the right work--on purpose.

[ 04/05/02 ]

:: Americans are getting ruder.
[ 04/05/02 ]

:: Are the genes that cause depression gender-specific?
[ 04/05/02 ]

:: I'm very pleased to see that the Amazon description of The Weblog Handbook has been changed. This one much more accurately describes my book. If you've been wondering what the book is about, this will give you a much better idea.
[ 04/05/02 ]

:: Bill Moyers' Trading Democracy made my mother so mad she insists that I watch it. My local PBS station is replaying it this week. Is yours?

Meanwhile, PBS is also showing Commanding Heights, which seeks to explain the 'forces, values, and perceptions that shape [the current global economic system] and the circumstances under which it has evolved to its present state.'

I missed Episode I but it--and all the episodes--will be available online for 30 days following the initial broadcast; Episode 2 will run this week. This looks tremendously interesting.
[ 04/08/02 ]

:: Kids love to read about horses, and they love to meet them. Put them together and you have kids who are motivated to read. The Black Stallion Literacy project.
[ 04/08/02 ]

:: George has an interesting entry about African American spending habits, now and in the past. Frankly, whatever the specific spending patterns, the problem itself--irresponsible spending--looks close to normal with regard to American consumer habits in general (especially in the credit card economy). This prompted me to look around for some figures on American personal saving habits, leading me to find that:

According to Iowa State, Americans have been saving less and less with a substantial jump in September 2001, though the Department of Commerce shows that the rate was lower than ever in that year's fourth quarter (scroll down to Personal Income: Personal saving rate).

Which led to the Census Bureau where the 2000 Census shows actual income increasing for all races, with Blacks and Hispanics at their highest levels ever, historically (though still below Whites and Asians). (May I just say that the Census Bureau is a statistician's paradise?)
[ 04/08/02 ]

:: I'm very pleased to see that the Amazon description of The Weblog Handbook has been changed. This one much more accurately describes my book. If you've been wondering what the book is about, this will give you a much better idea.
[ 04/05/02 ]

:: Spring is here and if you live in San Francisco you know what that means: time to evict ants from your home.
[ 04/08/02 ]

:: Don't Do It! Just say No to pop-up downloads. PS--I believe that if you use Opera or Netscape 6.x you can turn pop-up windows off. I don't know how that works with this new travesty, but it's sure worth a try. (via Q)

Update: the Lizard uses the pop-up stopper with Internet Explorer, and loves it. [ 04/09/02 ]

:: Oooh! Alert reader Marty Trujillo points me to FAIR's assessment of Commanding Heights and wonders if I'm still interested in it:

Corporate funders of 'Commanding Heights' include the Electronic Data Systems Corporation (which bills itself as 'the leading global information technology services company'), BP (formerly British Petroleum, one of the world's largest oil companies) and FedEx-- all firms with a major stake in the debate over the future of the global economy.

Of course I am. But this is important information. Underwriting doesn't automatically equal bias, but it's safe to assume that underwriters approved of the script before agreeing to fund it. It's good to be reminded of just how critically we should view everything we watch. The piece will speak for itself: this additional information will keep us alert to possible bias.
[ 04/09/02 ]

:: In response to yesterday's allegations that 'Commanding Heights' is a tool of the man, reader Kate Coe writes that based on her experience 'PBS underwriters agree to provide funding based on a show or series proposal, not a script' and says that by the time the script is done, it's way too late in the process. She goes on:

A corporate entity will decide to fund based on the filmmaker's reputation, the focus of the show, and the general tone of the project. It is possible for the show to turn out vastly differently than was promised, but the PBS people would deal with that--not the corporate funder. PBS doesn't want to bite the hand that feeds it--even if the film-maker wants to do so.

So it looks like the most egregious information in the FAIR article is the ways in which PBS selectively decides which funding constitutes a conflict of interest and which does not.
[ 04/10/02 ]

:: Rebecca Blood's Politics in a Nutshell: Libertarian: We don't need rules, we can take care of ourselves.
Conservative: We need rules to help the upper class and control the lower class.
Liberal: We need rules to control the upper class and help the lower class.
Anarchist: We don't need rules, we can take care of each other.
[ 04/10/02 ]

:: In fiscal year 2002, Congress approved $273,000 to combat Goth culture in Missouri?????? It's all in the big, bipartisan Pig Book. (via BoingBoing)
[ 04/10/02 ]

:: Bloggers for Hire. What a fantastic way to harness the power of the network on behalf of our own community. Need a job? Need a motivated worker? Here you go.
[ 04/10/02 ]

:: I don't know about the rest of the world, but my sense is that (despite a very vocal minority) ordinary people in the US have about had it with the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Both sides have legitimate grievances, and both sides have behaved/are behaving in an unconscionable manner. When the majority of the US and non-Arab world starts caring more about a resolution and less about which side gets what (and I think that may soon begin to spill into open consciousness), both sides should start to worry. Both Israel and Palestine need the support of the non-Arab world in order to achieve and maintain anything approaching an equitable solution. If they could have resolved this by force all by themselves, it would have been settled long ago.
[ 04/10/02 ]

:: Who's Not an Anti-Semite. We need one of these lists for women, every minority, and every other group that feels in some way threatened, oppressed or opposed by another group. By keeping clear about what does and does not constitute actual harm we can all stay focused on the larger goals.
[ 04/10/02 ]

:: Ethel brings us the Iraq Invasion Meter. I'll be interested in seeing how his prediction fares.
[ 04/10/02 ]

:: Smells like the RIAA. [NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket]

Authors are rebelling against new efforts by Amazon.com to spur sales of used books, a practice that has become a major source of revenue for Amazon but pays nothing to writers or publishers.

Oh, please. Sure, it would be nice if Amazon waited three months after publication before offering used editions of books, but the truth is that people tend to hang onto the books they like the best, and get rid of the ones they're not too hot on. What next? Boycott libraries?

Used bookstores have existed forever; people have every right to buy and then sell a book if they don't want to keep it. Amazon will stop doing this only if they perceive that it's affecting their revenues adversely (for example, if publishers become less responsive to Amazon and other online book outlets are able to ship new titles sooner).

When you buy a book, you establish a property right to it. And just as I believe you have every right to buy a CD, make an MP3 to play on your computer and a cassette to play in your car, and then, if you get tired of it, sell it to someone else, I believe you have every right to buy my book, read it, make some notes on it or implement some ideas, and then sell it when you're tired of having it around.

Note that the only thing really different here is that used and review copies are now readily available in one central place, for people all across the US. Technology has created a global marketplace that truly has changed everything--but everything is not going to change back because some people have learned to use the old system to their benefit. Instead, sooner or later, everyone is going to have to change with the times. (thanks, donny!)
[ 04/10/02 ]

:: Pascal's Wagering

The first I recall was Blaise proving to Leibniz that you could cure a hangover using two raw eggs and the calculus of indivisibles, after which Leibniz had to skip gaily across the Pont Neuf with his breeches pulled down around his shoe buckles. That April, Descartes came in from Holland to argue against the existence of vacuums and ended up owing 15 deniers when Blaise set a shot of Sambuca on fire and made the glass stick to the palm of his hand.
But everything changed when Pascal placed his first bet on God.

This is the smartest, funniest thing you'll read this week.
[ 04/12/02 ]

:: Great Reads: literature.
[ 04/15/02 ]

:: Douglas Rushkoff has a new weblog.
[ 04/15/02 ]

:: In response to high production costs and the realities of the digital age, television has begin time-shifting its own content.
[ 04/15/02 ]

:: Meanwhile, Hollywood is slow to adopt money-saving digital technology in large part because no one wants to pay for it.
[ 04/15/02 ]

:: Realists? Liberals? Rational Choice? 20th century history through the lens of political theory.
[ 04/16/02 ]

:: Everyone has linked it, but in case you haven't seen it: Rearchers have discovered the largest colony of ants ever, extending from the Italian Riviera to northwest Spain. You realize, don't you, that we can't fight this. And when I say 'we' I mean 'mammals'.
[ 04/16/02 ]

:: As noted last week, the Author's Guild is encouraging their members to sever ties with Amazon in protest for their practice of featuring new and used titles together on their site. Author Cory Doctorow has responded, as has publisher Tim O'Reilly. In short: they both think the Author's Guild is completely in the wrong.
[ 04/16/02 ]

:: Oh, no! Beliefnet has filed for bankruptcy. [NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket] (via consolation champs)
[ 04/16/02 ]

:: Phyllis Diller calls it quits--at age 84.
[ 04/16/02 ]

:: Dean's Found Alphabet. (Though bits of it look a little constructed.) Found via nocto who also has a swell weblog about the books she reads (currently mysteries, it would seem).
[ 04/17/02 ]

:: Perhaps the best article you'll read all week is Calvin Trillin's article on the legendary Shopsins (unless he's pulling our leg). I don't care if he is.

Not all the rules at Shopsin's are based on the number of meals that the kitchen has to put out. For years, a rule against copying your neighbor's order was observed fairly strictly.
Customers who had just arrived might ask someone at the next table the name of the scrumptious-looking dish he was eating. Having learned that it was Burmese Hummus - one of my favorites, as it happens, even though it is not hummus and would not cause pangs of nostalgia in the most homesick Burmese - they might order Burmese Hummus, only to have Eve shake her head wearily. No copying.

It's long, but it's wonderfully written and worth every minute you'll spend on it. Get a cup of tea, get comfortable, and enjoy. (via provenance unknown)
[ 04/17/02 ]

:: And of course, a page of that ever-popular segment of American cuisine, the mock recipe.

Mock Lemon Meringue Cake
1 package Lemon cake mix
2 C. prepared lemon pudding & pie filling
8 oz. frozen whipped topping, thawed
Bake cake as directed on package in a 10" tube pan. Cool, and split into 3 layers. Stir pudding till smooth. Spread 1/3 of filling between layers & on top of cake. Frost sides & top with whipped topping. Refrigerate.

Don't worry, there's Mock Cool Whip, too.
[ 04/17/02 ]

:: Feds might use Microsoft product for online ID. Besides [insert comment about Microsoft's notoriously lousy security] how can the government simultaneously prosecute Microsoft for its monopolistic practices, and consider creating one for them? Is there an open source alternative? Egads, this is a bad idea.
[ 04/18/02 ]

:: It is interesting, now that corporate entities have begun guerrilla marketing their wares with 'amateur' websites, that a 'savvy' surfer would warily scratch just far enough into a genuine personal site to think it was a commercial endeavor. Thanks anyway for the kind words.
[ 04/18/02 ]

:: Happy Birthday, Eliot.
[ 04/18/02 ]

:: Dreamhost offers dreamy prices: but what is their service like? If you have had or heard anything about this company would you kindly drop me a line and tell me about your experience?
[ 04/18/02 ]

:: The Periodic Table of Science Fiction is adding a little story for each element once a week. (via chumpsquad)
[ 04/18/02 ]

:: Power Puff Grrl News: When a man in the hotel elevator flashed her, a quick-thinking 12-year-old girl took action. She zipped him up. (thanks, kevin!)
[ 04/18/02 ]

:: Kara's Found Calendars. (thanks, Nick!)
[ 04/18/02 ]

:: Thanks to everyone who took the time to answer yesterday's query. The responses have been overwhelmingly positive (with the caveat from one respondent that Dreamhost's mySQL server goes down intermittently). Again, as always, I appreciate your input.

Update [04-22-02]: the final consensus seems to be that Dreamhost is terrific when everything is working right, but that when issues arise, service can be frustrating. Most respondents cited their 24-hour response to queries, but a few noted that the responses were often canned responses, and that it took a day or two more to actually resolve certain situations. By comparison, I have always received an auto-response followed by a response from a real, knowledgable person within 30-60 minutes from Pair, my current host.
[ 04/19/02 ]

:: First Lines. As I go through these first lines of books, all I want to do is to pick them up and read the ones I haven't read and re-read all the ones I have. (via provenance unknown)
[ 04/19/02 ]

:: Have you seen Wander-lust? It's a new update tracker for personal websites of all kinds. It has a cool syndication function that allows sites to add a piece of recent content to their profile, and I especially love the spider updates on the front page: 'The spider will be leaving in ten minutes.'

If you're the publisher of a personal site, check it out; if you're a lover of independent content, you may want to check it several times a day.
[ 04/19/02 ]

:: New recipe: Vegetable Stock
[ 04/21/02 ]

:: Two Visions of Peace in the Holy Land. (via metafilter) [NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket]
[ 04/22/02 ]

:: I don't know how to explain this: the Prime Number Pooping Bear. In Opera, the only number so presented is '2' but it works fine in IE. (via fillyjonk)
[ 04/22/02 ]

:: Another set of primes in a stunningly beautiful presentation: A Visual Interpretation of the Periodic Table of Elements. If you can, look at the Flash version--it's stunning. But the HTML version is beautiful, too, though it takes a long time to load. (thanks, David!)
[ 04/22/02 ]

:: The Periodic Table is just an interesting thing, isn't it? Its purpose, its arrangement, its contents. Here's a history of the table (just part of Professor Logan's terrific, old school home page. Chock full of information.)
[ 04/22/02 ]

:: The Periodic Table Sweater--with charts! (Watch out, popups!). Scroll down to see the Tetris Baby Blanket. Proof that knitters can be as geeky as, well, geeks. (via dangerous chunky).

At first I was going to post a list of knitting weblogs, but that's crazy: all at once, it seems, there are a hundred of them. Instead, I give you the knitting weblogs webring, and dangerous chunky, which has an extensive list of knitting weblogs in the sidebar.
[ 04/22/02 ]

:: Space! Food! Sticks! (via riley dog)
[ 04/25/02 ]

:: Ever wondered about the merits of front-loading washers vs top-loading models, and whether high-efficiency models are worth the extra money, and which laundry detergent works best in these models? These people have. And they are serious about their laundry.
[ 04/25/02 ]

:: More Periodic Table Madness over at leushke.org.
[ 04/25/02 ]

:: How to Mark a Book by Mortimer Adler. Reading for understanding.

But the soul of a book 'can' be separate from its body. A book is more like the score of a piece of music than it is like a painting. No great musician confuses a symphony with the printed sheets of music. Arturo Toscanini reveres Brahms, but Toscanini's score of the G minor Symphony is so thoroughly marked up that no one but the maestro himself can read it.
The reason why a great conductor makes notations on his musical scores -- marks them up again and again each time he returns to study them--is the reason why you should mark your books. If your respect for magnificent binding or typography gets in the way, buy yourself a cheap edition and pay your respects to the author.

If you like this article, consider buying How to Read a Book which he wrote with Charles van Doren.
[ 04/25/02 ]

:: Tomorrow, Rebecca's Pocket will be 3 years old. And what a three years it has been.
[ 04/26/02 ]

:: 2002's killer app: Google Smackdown.
[ 04/26/02 ]

:: McLuhan's tetrads

To create a tetrad, and discover insights into any human technology whatsoever, consider any artifact, and ponder these questions:
  • What does this medium enhance or amplify?
  • What does this medium make obsolete?
  • What does this artifact retrieve from the past, that was previously obselesced?
  • What does this artifact reverse into, or, flip into, when pushed to extreme?

(via riley dog)
[ 04/26/02 ]

:: In 1996 Anthony Hempell applied the tetrad to the Internet and arrived at some interesting conclusions.

Reverses into info-glut, 'noise', 'flaming':
Lack of personal accountability for errors, misquotes, or insults; lack of empirical research (no 'gatekeeper', thus no peer review); loss of history: cyberspace as the ever-changing landscape.

[ 04/26/02 ]

:: That same year, Thomas Hylland Eriksen used the same framework to project a vision of the 21st century: The Internet, the 'laws of media' and identity politics.

After moving through some interesting cultural predictions...

retrieves the intellectual as an important figure (the Web communicator, interpreter and developer of information filters for the majority of the population)'

and

retrieval of "pre-typographic man", the full human intellect liberated from the strictures of the book

...Eriksen moves to the socio-political result: in response to increasing globalization, individuals who see their own control of their lives diminishing adopt identity politics:

Indirectly, as counterreactions against the dissolution of boundaries entailed by the Net, as earnest attempts to re-establish firm boundaries, self-evident traditions and objective truths. These counterreactions may dominate world politics in the 21st century.
Some of them will carry the shiny garb of democracy, some will stress the virtues of the past and possibly the 'race', while yet others will be based on a religion - be it a religion of the book, an adapted Asian mysticism, or environmentalism. They all call for purity and boundaries in a world which has become irredeemably impure and unbounded. That, generally speaking, is the main contradiction defining the correlates of the political space in virtually every country today.

Go read it all.
[ 04/26/02 ]

:: Douglas Rushkoff identifies these tendencies with a different set of eroding boundaries.

Once people get that far into relativism...they tend get scared, and come running back the other way. Into absolutism. A lot of the 'born-again' Christians and Jewish 'returnees' I know are people who grew intolerant of the moral relativism that seems to be implicit in these systems of thought. It's hard to live in a world without some certain metrics - measures, gradients for progress. An absolute to hang one's conceptual hat on.

I'm sure there are others. But it seems to me that we've hit a tipping point in both our awareness of and our own participation in this world-view.
[ 04/26/02 ]

:: Goth Cat of the Week. (thanks, denise!)
[ 04/26/02 ]

:: This photo will make your heart sing.
And this sequence is unbelievably cute.
[ 04/29/02 ]

:: The Merchants of Morality. On the difficulties of gaining--and the necessity of keeping--the attention of aid agencies and the world. (via metafilter)
[ 04/29/02 ]

:: Happy belated birthday, Mark!
[ 04/29/02 ]

:: The Entrance to the Underworld
Gregory Orr

A common enough mistake:
looking in the wrong place.
It's not a fissure
in the earth, or crack
in a cliff face
that leads sharply down.

You were looking in the wrong
world. It was inside
you entrance
to that cavern
deeper than hell,
more dark and lonely.
Didn't you feel it open
at her first touch?

(Thanks, Jim!) [ 04/29/02 ]