click here to skip the menu and go to the page content
about | archive rss | atom
rebecca's pocket
guides: reference | web basics | computers | look | think | exotic
passions: books | film | domestic | gothica | music | gaia
ntk: weblog | handbook | other words | news | webloggia

.: 2003 --> january

january

:: Happy Twelfth Night!
[ 01/06/03 ]

:: These days, many people automatically assume that any personal website will be a weblog. But there was a personal Web long before there were weblogs, and there are millions of interesting possibilities for a frequently updated site. Case in point: erichian.com.
[ 01/06/03 ]

:: Historyteacher.net is chock full of links and lessons on history. It seems to be designed to help high school students study for advanced placement exams, and each topic contains study guides, resources, and links to primary sources. A perfect starting point for anyone who wants to do some home study.

Bonus link: Why Study History?
[ 01/06/03 ]

:: The Library of Congress: 'Prosperity and Thrift: The Coolidge Era and the Consumer Economy, 1921-1929 assembles a wide array of Library of Congress source materials from the 1920s that document the widespread prosperity of the Coolidge years, the nation's transition to a mass consumer economy, and the role of government in this transition.' Topics include The Prosperity of the Coolidge Era, Merchandising and Advertising, Consumer Activism, and African Americans and Consumerism.
[ 01/06/03 ]

:: Things to Do: 'Continually adding things to do.'
[ 01/06/03 ]

:: Reason Public Policy Institute: The Viridian Verge: Tractors Meet Satellites

'The ideal,' wrote one commentator, 'is to have nothing to salvage.' Who penned these words? Champion of the environment Al Gore? Techno-environmentalist Amory Lovins? Or perhaps 'natural capitalist' Ray Anderson, CEO of Interface Flooring Systems?
The answer is 'none of the above' nor any of their contemporaries. The author is Henry Ford, early 20th century industrialist and pioneer of assembly-line production. [...]
By deliberately looking for this waste, in a single year his plant managers eliminated 80 million pounds of steel scrap and millions of pounds of brass and bronze. They achieved this feat by trimming and slimming materials and by changing metal-cutting patterns. In short, Henry Ford was a master at what we now dub 'dematerialization.'

[ 01/06/03 ]

:: World's Work, October 1926: Henry Ford: Why I Favor Five Days' Work With Six Days' Pay. [and in pdf form]

The more well-paid leisure workmen get, the greater become their wants. These wants soon become needs. Well-managed business pays high wages and sells at low prices. Its workmen have the leisure to enjoy life and the wherewithal with which to finance that enjoyment.
The industry of this country could not long exist if factories generally went back to the ten hour day, because the people would not have the time to consume the goods produced.

Ford, the father of modern manufacturing, also pioneered modern business techniques such as lean manufacturing and just-in-time fulfillment.
[ 01/06/03 ]

:: Custom Made gallery is filled with amazing hand-crafted wood furniture. I especially love the walnut rocker and curved stairway.
[ 01/06/03 ]

:: It is a strange thing. Last June I took the Political Compass test and found that I had shifted toward the center on the authoritarian/libertarian axis. I just took it again, and I've shifted back, and further left as well (though still not as far left as that notorious radical Gandhi). I wish I'd been keeping track since I first took the test a few years ago.
[ 01/06/03 ]

:: The Weblog Handbook has been awarded the First Annual Prix Invisibles for Instructional Book of the Year by the Haunted Weblog. I am honored.
[ 01/08/03 ]

:: Still relevant: George Orwell's Politics and the English Language

In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of political parties.
Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenseless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them.

These days, of course, there's also just flat-out lying about what you are doing and intend to do. If the press is willing to let it slide, why not?

[ 01/08/03 ]

:: Thomas Friedman nails it. [NY Times: pockeet, password: pockeet]

Let's cut the nonsense. The primary reason the Bush team is more focused on Saddam is because if he were to acquire weapons of mass destruction, it might give him the leverage he has long sought--not to attack us, but to extend his influence over the world's largest source of oil, the Persian Gulf.
But wait a minute. There is nothing illegitimate or immoral about the U.S. being concerned that an evil, megalomaniacal dictator might acquire excessive influence over the natural resource that powers the world's industrial base. [...]
I have no problem with a war for oil if we accompany it with a real program for energy conservation. But when we tell the world that we couldn't care less about climate change, that we feel entitled to drive whatever big cars we feel like, that we feel entitled to consume however much oil we like, the message we send is that a war for oil in the gulf is not a war to protect the world's right to economic survival--but our right to indulge. Now that will be seen as immoral.

[ 01/08/03 ]

:: Though it's been many years, I loved the Fernand Braudel's Structures of Everyday Life. So I'm rather interested in the Braudel Center, which is devoted to the 'analysis of large-scale social change over long periods of historical time'.
[ 01/08/03 ]

:: My new friend Erich Ian needs to interview people between 16-22 about their ideas on customization and personalization. If you're interested, please email him directly.
[ 01/08/03 ]

:: Weblog News:

[ 01/08/03 ]

:: Finally, a lawsuit that will enable the average American to easily understand the absurdity of the DMCA.

Printer maker Lexmark has found an unusual weapon to thwart rivals from selling replacement toner cartridges: the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. [...]
Jessica Litman, a professor at Wayne State University who specializes in copyright law, said it's likely that Lexmark would not have been able to succeed in its lawsuit without the DMCA, but stands a good chance with it.

(thanks, kevin!)
[ 01/09/03 ]

:: The government is making more white-collar and nonviolent criminals serve hard time. I have two reservations about this: first, aren't our prisons already overcrowded? But perhaps it makes sense to imprison everyone who has been caught three times selling pot alongside the accountant who skimmed thousands from their employer's books. Certainly it would play on upper middle classism to punish both crimes similarly.

Second, what about the CEO who has profited enormously while bilking thousands of people out of their life savings? Equitably applied, I would support this measure whole-heartedly. I think Ken Lay should be put in prison: it certainly would go a long way toward restoring the public's faith in the equality of the citizenry in the eyes of the law, and in reducing our cynicism in general. I don't have much faith that big corporate donors (read: your elected representative) are much interested in either of those things. The system as it is currently comprised benefits them just fine. (thanks, loren!)
[ 01/09/03 ]

:: On the subject of corporate evildoing, this is a harrowing story about Tyler Pipe, a subsidiary of McWane Inc, which is simply a terrible, terrible company. Where is the hard time for the people who own and manage these plants?

It is said that only the desperate seek work at Tyler Pipe, a sprawling, rusting pipe foundry out on U.S. Route 69. Behind a high metal fence lies a workplace that is part Dickens and part Darwin, a dim, dirty, hellishly hot place where men are regularly disfigured by amputations and burns, where turnover is so high that convicts are recruited from local prisons, where some workers urinate in their pants because their bosses refuse to let them step away from the manufacturing line for even a few moments. [...]
The story of Tyler Pipe, drawn from company and government documents and interviews with dozens of current and former workers and managers, is a case study in the application of the McWane way. Federal officials and employees say nearly everything -- safety programs, environmental controls, even the smallest federally mandated precautions that might have kept Rolan Hoskin alive -- has been subordinated at Tyler Pipe to production.

And why can't we have a corporate death penalty? (Though we should call it something else to make clear that corporations are legal fictions, not people. Call it disincorporation.) Many people argue that shutting down corporations for wrongdoing would punish the workers rather than the people in charge (you might mention that to any Enron employee). But I don't think anyone would argue that line in a heinous case like this one.

In the meantime, I'm done with the cajoling inspectors. When unsafe conditions are found, I want a followup inspection in a week. And if the conditions haven't been corrected, I want the inspectors to be required to shut down the factory, meat-handling plant, or whatever the facility until the required conditions have been met. City inspectors do this to restaurants (though perhaps not frequently enough). Let's apply it across the board.

Frontline has the story tonight at 9pm. (thanks, jim!)
[ 01/09/03 ]

:: An idea whose time it is again: US National Debt Clock. It keeps going, and going....
[ 01/12/03 ]

:: So, I wonder: what is an appropriate way to teach seventh-graders about the 'N-word'? I haven't read the work in question, but this seems like a respectful way to talk about an emotionally loaded word, and how it got that way. (The teacher must have received an advance copy. The referenced book hasn't yet been published. [correction: the hardback edition has been out for a year; the the paperback was published this month.] )
[ 01/12/03 ]

:: I Have a Dream. Thank you, Dr. King.
[ 01/18/03 ]

:: Does the Bush economic plan benefit the middle class? According to nearly identical letters published in newspapers around the country, it does.
[ 01/18/03 ]

:: World Views: The United States has gone mad, John le Carré

America has entered one of its periods of historical madness, but this is the worst I can remember: worse than McCarthyism, worse than the Bay of Pigs and in the long term potentially more disastrous than the Vietnam War.
The reaction to 9/11 is beyond anything Osama bin Laden could have hoped for in his nastiest dreams. As in McCarthy times, the freedoms that have made America the envy of the world are being systematically eroded. The combination of compliant US media and vested corporate interests is once more ensuring that a debate that should be ringing out in every town square is confined to the loftier columns of the East Coast press.

[ 01/18/03 ]

:: Buy a contract on Saddam. Why should fat cats be the only ones to profit on a war with Iraq? (thanks, sebastian! [not work-safe])
[ 01/18/03 ]

:: Economies of Scale: Researchers Tie Worldwide Biodiversity Threats To Growth In Households. Maybe if you knew your neighbors better, you could share their lawnmower.
[ 01/18/03 ]

:: It seems that both sides of the brain process the language of feelings with the left side labeling the 'what' and the right side processing the 'how'.
[ 01/12/03 ]

:: Scientists have uncovered the formula for happiness: Personal Characteristics + Existence + Higher Order Needs.
[ 01/12/03 ]

:: Sorry, Wrong Number. How the media misunderstand and misreport the numbers in covering energy issues.

'Journalists often assume that all debates have two equal sides,' Koomey adds. 'In some areas, particularly in scientific fields, there are right and wrong answers, and by highlighting a few critics instead of presenting the balance of scientific opinion, journalists can do the public debate a disservice. News coverage that apportions differing amounts of weight to the sides of a controversy -- noting for example, whether a large majority of experts are on one side of the question or another -- give the public a more accurate picture of where the experts stand.'

[ 01/12/03 ]

:: The Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty said Tuesday that the The Skeptical Environmentalist 'is clearly in violation of the norms for good scientific behavior.'

Bonus: apparently Denmark has a 'Liberal-Conservative' government.
[ 01/12/03 ]

:: Science, Sustainability, and the Human Prospect, Peter H. Raven

Scientist-to-scientist cooperation between those in industrialized nations and their colleagues in developing countries is important for achieving effective global communication and, ultimately, sustainability. Or, as the late Congressman George Brown said to the National Academy of Sciences in 1993: 'This work must begin first by viewing developing nations as partners instead of as step-children . . . Of all the many ways in which we can cooperate for the common good, the case for science and technology cooperation with science-poorer nations is perhaps the most compelling. To do so, we must abandon the instinct to judge others by their past accomplishments, or to judge our own accomplishments as the proper path for others.'
The problem of transferring technologies to and building capacities in countries throughout the world in such a way that they can contribute adequately to sustainable development is a difficult one, but one that we must confront fully. Ismail Serageldin has presented an argument for the cooperative development of science throughout the world that is both moving and compelling, stressing also the role of the scientific attitude in bringing people together on a rational basis. [...]
There also is growing evidence that corporations are increasingly realizing that understanding and working with the conditions of sustainable development are necessary prerequisites for success in the corporate world of the future. John Browne, chief executive officer of BP-Amoco, for example, set his company on a course that will embrace alternative energy sources and energy conservation, reasoning that in the face of global warming, they must do this if they are to continue to be a profitable energy company in the future.

(via Quark Soup)
[ 01/12/03 ]

:: An interesting lists of links: Kennis Management.
[ 01/12/03 ]

:: The people lost in the case of Eldred vs Ashcroft. I will have to read the the majority opinion [pdf] to understand the Supreme Court's thinking on this. Breyer's dissent [pdf] and Steven's dissent [pdf] are also online. Lawrence Lessig blames himself.

It's worth remembering that challenging the constitutionality of law is only one avenue for changing it. Congress has the power to set reasonable copyright limits of its own accord, if we could only convince members that doing so would be a moral imperative, good business, or highly popular with their constituencies. (links via boing boing).
[ 01/15/03 ]

:: Big Duh (slithy popup!). Americans may be getting fatter because our food portions are getting larger.

From a glance at this abstract from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition I believe the online medical journals woudl benefit from an implementation of trackback (scroll to the bottom of the page). (What is trackback?)
[ 01/22/03 ]

:: Nature or Nurture? News: 'Not only does cloning not produce a physical duplicate, but it can never reproduce the behavior or personality of a cat that you want to keep around. There are millions of cats in shelters and with rescue groups that need homes, and the last thing we need is a new production strategy for cats.'

Also, 'Missyplicity.' (thanks, [not work safe] sebastian!)
[ 01/22/03 ]

:: For your favorite fetishist geek. (via jjg via the veen)
[ 01/22/03 ]

:: Bush on North Korea: "We Must Invade Iraq" (thanks, bob!)
[ 01/22/03 ]

:: Could they have picked a worse title?

A major publisher has taken the potentially controversial step of releasing a picture book, aimed at young children, about a same-sex relationship. Hello, Sailor tells the story of a lighthouse-keeper and his sailor friend.

(thanks, lizard!)
[ 01/24/03 ]

:: U.S. Had Key Role in Iraq Buildup

High on the Bush administration's list of justifications for war against Iraq are President Saddam Hussein's use of chemical weapons, nuclear and biological programs, and his contacts with international terrorists. What U.S. officials rarely acknowledge is that these offenses date back to a period when Hussein was seen in Washington as a valued ally.
Among the people instrumental in tilting U.S. policy toward Baghdad during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war was Donald H. Rumsfeld, now defense secretary, whose December 1983 meeting with Hussein as a special presidential envoy paved the way for normalization of U.S.-Iraqi relations. Declassified documents show that Rumsfeld traveled to Baghdad at a time when Iraq was using chemical weapons on an 'almost daily' basis in defiance of international conventions.

[ 01/24/03 ]

:: The Rule of Benedict and Environmental Stewardship

The earth can also teach us about our lives. All too often we think of other humans as our primary teachers. But earth can teach us about change in a unique way because it has a four billion year resume in the field. The earth can teach us about loss and grief, about death and transformation.... In a collection of essays in The Practice of the Wild, [Gary Snyder] records the words of a Crow elder: 'You know I think if people stay somewhere long enough the spirits will begin to speak to them.'

[ 01/24/03 ]

:: It is an honor merely to be nominated.
[ 01/24/03 ]

:: Revamping a Sleeping Bag
[ 01/24/03 ]

:: This high school science class isn't worried about the Science Fair: they designed an experiment to observe the behavior of ants in space. Bonus: How bugs breathe.
[ 01/27/03 ]

:: But how will it play at the polls? Business Week:

It's globalization's next wave--and one of the biggest trends reshaping the global economy. The first wave started two decades ago.... Now, all kinds of knowledge work can be done almost anywhere.... The rise of a globally integrated knowledge economy is a blessing for developing nations. What it means for the U.S. skilled labor force is less clear. [...]
What happens if all those displaced white-collar workers can't find greener pastures? Sure, tech specialists, payroll administrators, and Wall Street analysts will land new jobs. But will they be able to make the same money as before? It's possible that lower salaries for skilled work will outweigh the gains in corporate efficiency. 'If foreign countries specialize in high-skilled areas where we have an advantage, we could be worse off,' says Harvard University economist Robert Z. Lawrence, a prominent free-trade advocate. 'I still have faith that globalization will make us better off, but it's no more than faith.'

Now, tell me: if the old lefty dream of the poor becoming better off, and the well-to-do becoming less-so, were to come about as the result of this instantiation of market forces, wouldn't that be interesting? (thanks, lizard!)
[ 01/27/03 ]

:: What would it be like, life without oil? In Zimbabwe, reports Leon de Kock, in some respects, it's not so bad.
[ 01/27/03 ]

:: Michael Dobbs reflects on the lessons to be learned from transcripts of JFK's discussions during the Cuban missile crisis, and what they have to teach us about President Bush and the current situation with Iraq.
[ 01/27/03 ]

:: And the winner is.... Tatiana de Profundis. Presenting Miss Gothic Massachusetts. (via mefi)
[ 01/27/03 ]

:: In his description of the geography of ancient Greece, Homer got it right. (thanks, Neil!)
[ 01/31/03 ]

:: Seen almost everywhere: Fixed Opinions, or The Hinge of History by Joan Didion. If you missed it the first time around, it's well worth a read.

It so happened that I was traveling around the country again recently, talking and listening to people in St. Louis and Columbia and Philadelphia and San Diego and Los Angeles and San Francisco and Pittsburgh and Boston.... I did not encounter conviction that going to war with Iraq would result in a democratic transformation of the Middle East. Most people seemed resigned to the prospect that we would nonetheless go to war with Iraq. Many mentioned a sense of 'inevitability,' or 'dread'.... They did not understand what this new war was about, but they knew it wasn't about that promising but never quite substantiated meeting in Prague between Iraqi intelligence and Mohamed Atta. They did not want to believe that it was about oil. Nor did they want to believe that it was about domestic politics. If I had to characterize a common attitude among them I would call it waiting to see. At a remove.

[ 01/31/03 ]

:: Scientists have found a physiological basis for the perception of color. I remember wondering, as a child, if the blue I saw was the same shade others called by that name.
[ 01/31/03 ]

:: Did your preschooler color your fireplace with neon crayons, or decorate a painted wall with a window marker? Crayola Stain Removal Tips. While you're there, Save Burnt Sienna from oblivion! (for some reason, this requires flash and annoyingly, also a login). Only the color with the highest number of votes will survive. [slithy pop-ups on every page!]
[ 01/31/03 ]

:: 'Who Pays? is a comprehensive analysis of state and local tax burdens in all fifty states. The study, released on January 7, 2003, shows that on average, state and local tax systems require the poorest taxpayers to pay the highest effective tax rates.' From their press release [pdf]:

By an overwhelming margin, most states tax their middle- and low-income families far more heavily than the wealthy, according to a new study by the Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy.

Via The Citizens for Tax Justice website, whose analysis of the President's Tax Cut Plan [pdf] states:

They also have an analysis of the Democratic Tax Plan and that perennial favorite, How Generous Corporate Campaign Donors Save Billions in Taxes. The site also includes an extensive list of publications about flat tax.
(thanks, kurt!)
[ 01/31/03 ]

:: Marketing Through Amazon. Notable for the section on what those Amazon book rankings really mean. (via Pickover's Tips for Writers)
[ 01/31/03 ]

:: Questions to ask before you have surgery. [another slithy popup]
[ 01/31/03 ]

:: Author Cliff Pickover has a weblog, and it's a doozy. Exhibit A: Carotid-Kundalini Functions Are Psychedelic Math. Exhibit B: the entire Bible rendered in Lego. Exhibit C: Erotic Origami [obviously not work-safe]. Reality Carnival, indeed.
[ 01/31/03 ]

























comments? questions? email me