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.: 2003 --> august


:: I just want the kingdom of God to look like it's supposed to. Amen.
[ 08/01/03 ]

:: Another MIT student goes mad: The Corporate Fallout Detector.

The Corporate Fallout Detector reads barcodes off of consumer products, and makes a noise similar to a gieger counter of varying intensity based on the social or environmental record of the company that produces the product.

Very cool! (thanks, lizard!)
[ 08/01/03 ]

:: A bit of good natured summertime competition for digital media sportsmen everywhere. [requires Flash 6 and all the action is in a popup]

Rockstar Games Upload, the very first true online media awards program, returns to show love and company checks to those we deem the very best participating filmmakers, deejays, writers, and designers. We are now accepting submissions for the categories of: Short subject film (Cash prize: $5,000.00); DJ mix (Cash prize: $2,500.00); Short story (Cash prize: $2,000.00); Multimedia (Cash prize: $2,000.00). The call for entries deadline is September 30, 2003.

Spread the word! (thanks, erichian!)
[ 08/01/03 ]

:: It's true: in September, the Weblog Handbook is going to be published in an Italian translation (via Ocurréncia). Next up, Korean and Japanese translations.
[ 08/01/03 ]

:: Well! Just 16 years after the United Nations Montreal Protocol, the ozone layer may be recovering. More evidence that we are smart enough to halt environmental devastation--if we take decisive action.
[ 08/06/03 ]

:: The San Diego Regional Transportation Center offers gasoline, biodiesel, ethanol, and electricity! [slithy pop-up!]

...the monster gas station, the brainchild of a nearby Ford dealership, is finally open after more than six years in the works, more than three of them tied up in red tape. [...]
The plan is to make money by resolving the dilemma of which needs to come first - cars that can use alternative fuels or gas stations that sell more than gasoline. 'We decided to build the chicken and the egg in one place,' says [general manager Mike] Lewis.

[ 08/06/03 ]

:: Meanwhile, the Environmental Liberation Front has declared war on urban sprawl. [slithy pop-up!] Because property damage always wins you friends.
[ 08/06/03 ]

:: Crossdressing Liberian soldiers are participating in a powerful combination of obfuscation, ritual, and intimidation.

Aside: note the very clear correction contained within the article. I vastly prefer this method of online correction to the too-common practice of just changing it without explicit note. (thanks, lizard!)
[ 08/06/03 ]

:: Using mobile camera phones to foil crime. (thanks, jim!)
[ 08/06/03 ]

:: Information Management Software. I'm looking for something that will allow me to put text into multiple categories, and then to sort that information at at least two levels. so if I have a bit of text that is categorized as 'boxes, color, location, size', I want to be able to sort it according to location, and then, within that sort, again by size. Do you know of Windows software that will do that with text files? (You'll need to make that into a real email address.)
[ 08/06/03 ]

:: Another review: Chadness calls the Weblog Handbook a must-read for anyone in the weblog community.
[ 08/06/03 ]

:: Cooperation: Earth. Globally tracking climate change.

Thursday, ministers from 34 nations and several nongovernmental organizations are meeting at the State Department to lay the political foundation for pulling together disparate systems of sensors - from 'floats' gathering data deep below the sea surface to satellites in Earth's orbit. The idea is to create a more tightly linked set of tools for tracking and forecasting environmental changes that can affect fisheries, agriculture, water resources, and climate.

[ 08/08/03 ]

:: Important News: Snopes reports on a marketing scam designed to lure you into returning a coupon for free items in order to circumvent the National Do Not Call Registry.

Filling out a survey form or mailing in a completed contest entry or taking some business up on its offer of free product might be construed as establishing a business relationship with that entity, a condition that would allow that group to make un- asked-for sales pitches over the telephone despite that particular consumer's inclusion on the national 'leave me alone' list. [...]
No doubt companies will attempt to claim that a completed survey form or sweepstakes entry constitutes a request for information. And if you answer a survey that asks you about six different brands or types of products, you might very well be putting yourself back on multiple telemarketing lists.

1) Pure Evil! 2) Pure Dumb! They're killing the golden goose. As soon as people learn not to respond to any mailed offer, marketers will be left with only email and those models that stand on street corners and hand you cigarettes as a means to reach potential customers.

Incidentally, I guess the Do Not Call list rule about 'business relationships' means that a company you've bought something from can call you even after you tell them to stop. I'd like to see that changed. (via subterranean homepage news)
[ 08/08/03 ]

:: Meanwhile, beware Ticketmaster, who is, it seems, 'unable' to offer an opt-out service to prevent you from receiving spam from them or their 'partners'. Just one of a Corporate Axis of Evil that includes Verisign and a third member I haven't decided on yet. (thanks, jim!)
[ 08/08/03 ]

:: Vicky Lucas, who has a rare genetic disorder called Cherubism, is fine with how she looks--and she wants you to be, too: Why I want you to look me in the face. Vicky has a lot more courage and self-esteem than I probably ever will.
[ 08/08/03 ]

:: The Matrix has arrived with the 21st century's first dieting craze. (via the viridian list)
[ 08/08/03 ]

:: Incidentally, check out the recommended viridian books and furniture resources.
[ 08/08/03 ]

:: Weblog News: TypePad, the new hosted service from the folks who brought you Movable Type, is now live in a Preview version. Rates start at only $4.95 a month for a basic weblog. I have used the service, and it is sweet. If you're interested in your own TypePad weblog, let me know and I can send you a 'friends and family' code that will entitle you to a 20% lifetime discount.
[ 08/08/03 ]

:: A reprint of the July 13, 2003 Time article: Why U.S. is running out of gas.

Why are Congress and the White House responsible? As part of a long-standing ritual involving Democrats and Republicans, lawmakers and Presidents have devised energy plans that add up to no plan at all -- not deliberately but by default. In pursuit of different agendas, competing interests tend to cancel one another out over time, leaving the nation with no coherent direction on energy. [...]
Worst of all, when politicians craft a conservation program that actually works, they abandon it. As a result, after three decades and dozens of energy bills, Congress has helped position Americans so they may be closer to an energy crisis than at any time since the oil shocks of the 1970s.
And this time, the U.S. is finally beginning to run out of domestic oil and easily recoverable natural gas. Here is how it happened.

[ 08/11/03 ]

:: According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, with government incentives, solar power could replace nearly a third of the natural gas shortfall. The American Wind Energy Association says wind can do that, too. (first link via dangerousmeta)
[ 08/11/03 ]

:: Morgan Featherstone is an eight-year-old sex symbol--and her parents think it's great. If you do nothing else, click through to see a picture of this little girl.

A recent full-length body shot of Morgan, taken for a Taiwanese client, was destined for the Asian advertising market. The client personally selected her for a series of 'lifestyle shots'.

And what lifestyle would that be, I wonder?

I remember when people were concerned about Calvin Klein's suggestive ads featuring a teenaged Brooke Shields. Brooke seems to have turned out just fine, and maybe Morgan will, too (though her parents, as portrayed in this article, are either impossibly clueless or mercenary).

But what the hell is going on with our society? What has happened to our collective sexuality when any 8-year-old girl can be envisioned as a desirable sex object? How is it acceptable for pop stars to target pre-pubescent girls while assuming blatantly sexual personas? When did we become so inured to blatant sexuality that hints of pedophilia are required to create sufficient shock value to grab our attention? (thanks, lizard!)
[ 08/11/03 ]

:: Like OJ Simpson's lawyers before them, Martha Stewart's crack team of defense lawyers have begun their campaign to gauge and then influence public opinion before the start of the trial.

Starting soon... Stewart’s jury consultant will likely begin telephone survey work to gauge public opinion regarding the case among New Yorkers. 'What [we’d be doing] is measuring the contamination of the potential jury pool,' [jury consultant Jo-Ellan Dimitrius] says. Long before jury selection begins, Stewart’s defense team could begin using the data they collect to try to sway opinion. For instance, Dimitrius says if the survey research shows older people seemed most convinced of Stewart’s guilt, Stewart’s PR team might work to try to place positive stories in media outlets likely to reach this demographic, such as an AARP publication.

Is that a good thing?
[ 08/11/03 ]

:: Saddam: Master of the Occult? [slithy popup!] Meanwhile, some Iraqis believe US soldiers are peering at them with x-ray glasses.
[ 08/11/03 ]

:: The infantilisation of contemporary society. Kidults and adultescents, gah! Is this the same phenomenon that I used to observe in the Web designers who litter their work stations with toys? I never did get the 'Hello Kitty' store.

Cf marketing perpetual childhood to adults with marketing adult sexuality to children and marketing children as objects of adult desire. (thanks, lizard!)
[ 08/13/03 ]

:: Kids, lies, and President Bush. [slithy popup!]

Think about your values as they relate to this situation. What are your family's values about telling the truth? What would you do if your child lied to you and when you scolded him or her, he or she replied: 'I am not a fact-checker.' Or added, 'Isn't it time to move on?'
Ask your children to tell you what words mean to them. Explain that words have consequences and lies can come in two, six or 16 words.

[ 08/13/03 ]

:: Using health report cards to provoke parents into acknowledging their children's obesity. A form of shaming, I suppose--these parents can't be unaware that their children are overweight.
[ 08/13/03 ]

:: Mind-Body News: A drug given to control Parkinson's Disease may induce compulsive gambling.
[ 08/13/03 ]

:: Common Household Appliance Energy Usage.
[ 08/13/03 ]

:: Tumbleweed Houses designs beautiful 50 to 500 square feet houses.

Every structure in the portfolio is designed to accommodate year- around occupancy in any climate. Unlike most conventional travel trailers, RVs and many cabins, each is fully heated, insulated and vented. They hold all the basic comforts of home, even if (as in the exceptional case of design #3) those amenities have been distilled to a simple galley, portable toilet and solar shower. Every unit makes the most of its small size by minimizing transitional areas like hallways and stairwells, maximizing storage space, and maintaining a simple exterior without unnecessary projections. Such uncomplicated exteriors reduce the amount of exposed surface area on each house to cut heating, cooling and construction costs.

You will be intrigued by all the plans. Designer Jay Shafer also links to Daphne's Caravans and the Small House Society. (thanks, dave!)
[ 08/13/03 ]

:: An alternate history goldmine:

A frayed postcard in a Turin archive has revealed one of the most audacious gambles of the American civil war....

[ 08/13/03 ]

:: News You Can Use: Self-defence with a Walking-stick: The Different Methods of Defending Oneself with a Walking-Stick or Umbrella when Attacked under Unequal Conditions. (via leuschke)
[ 08/13/03 ]

:: I still have TypePad discounts available. Send a note if you are interested in a lifetime 20% discount.
[ 08/13/03 ]

:: Iraqis offer tips for dealing with the heat during a blackout.
[ 08/15/03 ]

:: Jason Shellen has written a smart, thoughtful, very personal piece on modern Catholicism.

I have been very interested in Mel Gibson's new film, and puzzled by the fears that it will incite anti-Semitism. I know the Church historically was rife with anti-Semitism, but I don't believe it is inherent in the traditional Easter story--at least, in a childhood of growing up and hearing it every year, that angle was never, ever conveyed to me. Christianity is, after all, firmly rooted in Judaism, for believers, the fulfillment of the covenant between the Jewish people and God.

A few years ago I saw an interesting television documentary about the life of Jesus in which every scholar interviewed agreed that the Romans, not the Jewish leadership, were responsible for Jesus' death. Perhaps that's true, but I've always very much liked the traditional story of Jesus' death, filled as it is with intrigue, manipulation, and above all, politics. No one wants to take responsibility for Jesus' death as the story is told by the Gospels. The Roman leadership, for whom he is a nuisance, wants nothing to do with his death, the Jewish leadership, for whom he is a thorn in the side, claim powerlessness in the face of Roman occupation, and so he is shunted back and forth until finally Pilate offers the crowd a choice that he considers a no-brainer--but which backfires.

Whether or not it is historically true, for me this is, among other things, a story of power, jealousy, and the complete refusal to take responsibility--a beautiful example of politics in any age.
[ 08/15/03 ]

:: Cf Jason's piece with Nicholas Kristof on the loss of an intellectual tradition in mainstream American religion. [NY Times: pockeet, password: pockeet]
[ 08/15/03 ]

:: Was this Nefertiti? If so, she's even more beautiful than her pictures.
[ 08/15/03 ]

:: I've always wondered about depression--how on earth does a tendency for acute and chronic hopelessness in any way benefit human survival? Why hasn't it been wiped out as a counterproductive trait? In this article about the causes of depression, one scientist offers a theory on the evolutionary role of depression. (BTW, he could have just given me a call for some commonsense talk about the role of humiliation in depression.)
[ 08/15/03 ]

:: How to Fight stupid 'security' practices from Bruce Schneier's Cryptogram Newsletter.
[ 08/15/03 ]

:: Harsh justice: An eye for an eye, a leg for a leg. (thanks, lizard!)
[ 08/18/03 ]

:: Continuing the conversation about manufactured desire in current culture, a portfolio site that features, among other things, retouched photos of two different models. (via the so-called lesbian)
[ 08/18/03 ]

:: Before I Die (thanks, jeff!)
[ 08/18/03 ]

:: About 12% of US landfill waste comes from food. One University of North Texas graduate student is using black fly maggots to compost that garbage.

'....the flies die in the cages, and we use them to feed laboratory fish and other animals,' Barry said. The larvae are high in protein and fat, making them an ideal meal if you're trying to bulk up livestock, or farm fish, for instance. 'And if one should happen to escape, they don't bite and they don't really carry diseases,' the researcher said.

[ 08/18/03 ]

:: Practical rules, strategies, and tactics for building a civilization of life and love.

'Think globally, act locally.' When the going gets rough, nobody gets thrown to the wolves. This is a basic principle of a civilization of life and love; we ignore it to our peril. Our first concern is naturally for those who are closest to us, but that can't be the extent of our involvement. Our families, friends, and neighborhoods are impacted directly by world events. The proper response to the globalization of greed and gluttony, and to the rise of violence in this world, is solidarity, which must manifest itself in practical actions, not just rhetorical flourishes.

[ 08/18/03 ]

:: Nature is resilient. In cities, birds are pitching their songs to carry above the din and in Denmark, some birds are mimicing ringtones (if you can believe Ananova).
[ 08/18/03 ]

:: If this is true, it's easy to understand why Hollywood turns out so many turkeys. It's the story, people! How do such clueless people get appointed to such high positions? (thanks, lizard!)
[ 08/18/03 ]

:: I still have Typepad lifetime discounts. Let me know if you want one.
[ 08/18/03 ]

:: More on progressive religious belief: Laura has a wonderful post concerning the left's tendency to dismiss the faithful:

...part of the problem of the American left has been rhetorical. Our reluctance and refusal to engage in the discourses of 'faith' and 'morals' and 'ethics' has waxed us into a corner. Sneering and eyerolling at people of faith only widens the gap, over which there are actually many bridges. The conservative Christian movement has stepped in and monopolized the rhetoric of 'faith', 'Values', and the like, because we liberals have allowed them re-define these terms. In other words, we are part of the problem.

Read the whole thing, which is includes a list of links to left/liberal religious sites.
[ 08/20/03 ]

:: Senseless. The UN wouldn't have anything to do with our invasion.
[ 08/20/03 ]

:: John Dean (yes, that John Dean): The Bush Administration Adopts a Worse-than-Nixonian Tactic: The Deadly Serious Crime Of Naming CIA Operatives.

After reading Novak's column, The Nation's Washington Editor, David Corn, asked, 'Did senior Bush officials blow the cover of a US intelligence officer working covertly in a field of vital importance to national security--and break the law--in order to strike at a Bush administration critic and intimidate others?'
The answer is plainly yes. Now the question is, will they get away with it?
Bits and pieces of information have emerged, but the story is far from complete. Nonetheless, what has surfaced is repulsive. If I thought I had seen dirty political tricks as nasty and vile as they could get at the Nixon White House, I was wrong. The American Prospect's observation that 'we are very much into Nixon territory here' with this story is an understatement.
Indeed, this is arguably worse. Nixon never set up a hit on one of his enemies' wives.

(thanks, lizard!)
[ 08/20/03 ]

:: Partner Immigration Law Introduced in Senate.

The Permanent Partners Immigration Act, or H.R. 832, would modify the federal Immigration and Nationality Act to provide same-sex partners of U.S. citizens and same-sex partners of lawful permanent residents the same immigration rights that legal spouses of U.S. residents enjoy. Specifically, it would add the term "permanent partner" to the federal law's list of definitions of family, and cover same-sex partners of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.

Penny has a long entry on this subject, describing the problems two of her friends are having staying together in the United States.

In Next: The Road To The Good Society, Amitai Etzioni says that at any given moment, the United States is engaged in a national conversation about one or maybe two issues. We spent most of last year discussing what, precisely, were the limits of the United States' power. Now, it seems, our attention has turned to the issue of equal rights for gays.
[ 08/20/03 ]

:: Does Martha Stewart promote homophobia? I love academics.
[ 08/20/03 ]

:: Behold the bamboo bike. Really! (via the success wizard)
[ 08/20/03 ]

:: The Organic Trade Association is launching its Organic for Kids campaign for September, Organic Harvest Month. The new campaign focuses on encouraging parents to serve organic foods at home, and request organic foods at school in order to reduce the amount of pesticides children ingest. They cite a recent study done by the University of Washington that found children who eat organic foods had only only one-sixth the level of pesticide byproducts in their urine compared with children who ate conventionally farmed foods. From the study itself:

The dose estimates suggest that consumption of organic fruits, vegetables, and juice can reduce children's exposure levels from above to below the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's current guidelines, thereby shifting exposures from a range of uncertain risk to a range of negligible risk. Consumption of organic produce appears to provide a relatively simple way for parents to reduce their children's exposure to OP pesticides. [emphasis mine]

I have to say, this organization has taken some care in writing up a press release (from which the news story is obviously derived) but they haven't bothered to organize their website so that the information referenced in the release is at all easy to find or identify (that page is accessed from a link titled O'Kid). Also, this O'everything conceit has got to go.
[ 08/20/03 ]

:: Milton-Freewater, Oregon is building a windfarm that will have the capacity to power 12,000 homes. It is scheduled to be operational by the end of 2003.
[ 08/20/03 ]

:: Scams that sting even smart people: ATM skimming, going phishing, getting crammed, and passing bad checks. Forewarned is foreprotected.
[ 08/22/03 ]

:: The Atlantic 09/02: Homeland Insecurity [slithy popup as you leave]. A fascinating profile of ex-cryptographer and security guru Bruce Schneier, and his very smart approach to security.

Schneier is hardly against technology—he's the sort of person who immediately cases public areas for outlets to recharge the batteries in his laptop, phone, and other electronic prostheses. 'But if you think technology can solve your security problems,' he says, 'then you don't understand the problems and you don't understand the technology.' Indeed, he regards the national push for a high-tech salve for security anxieties as a reprise of his own early and erroneous beliefs about the transforming power of strong crypto. The new technologies have enormous capacities, but their advocates have not realized that the most critical aspect of a security measure is not how well it works but how well it fails. [...]
Where Schneier had sought one overarching technical fix, hard experience had taught him the quest was illusory. Indeed, yielding to the American penchant for all-in-one high-tech solutions can make us less safe--especially when it leads to enormous databases full of confidential information. Secrecy is important, of course, but it is also a trap. The more secrets necessary to a security system, the more vulnerable it becomes.

I'm looking forward to Bruce's new book Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly About Security in an Uncertain World, which should be arriving any day.
[ 08/22/03 ]

:: Do Some Good News: Inspired by the Red Cross Knitting Tradition, 'afghans for Afghans is a humanitarian and educational people-to-people project that sends hand-knit and crocheted blankets and garments to the beleaguered people of Afghanistan.'

We work together with the American Friends Service Committee, and World Concern to collect and transport hand-knit and crocheted blankets and garments to suffering Afghans. The American Friends Service Committee has organized humanitarian missions for more than 80 years.

Get knitting! Even one piece will make a big difference in one little life. The next deadline is October 24.

For those who are interested, historic Red Cross knitting patterns from World Wars I and II are available from HJS Studio (scroll down) and the Red Cross. (via get crafty)
[ 08/22/03 ]

:: Victor Keegan thinks there is only one way to address the growing gulf between rich and poor countries: abolish agricultural subsidies.

US farmers are paid by the US taxpayer to produce crops, such as cereals and cotton, that could be more economically produced by countries in the developing world. It is economic and social madness. In Europe, farmers in Scandinavia, thanks to EU subsidies, are growing sugar beet, a product far better suited to being grown in parts of Africa. This is barmy.

To that end, he has created the Kick All Agricultural Subsidies weblog.

Eat the last free lunch in economics. Everyone gains. Abolition would save Western governments over $300 billion a year (equivalent to a cashback of over $200 for everyone) while giving a huge boost to agriculture in developing countries. Poor countries could sell products – like sugar, cereals and skimmed milk – they are much better suited to produce. At the moment they are being undercut even in their own domestic markets by subsidised Western produce. Sometimes trade is better than aid. And it costs nothing.
The present system doesn't even do what it claims to do. According to the OECD less than half of the $300 billion handouts get through even to the most efficient farmers. Even farmers would gain from abolition – by kicking subsidies that have become a dependency habit.
Abolishing agricultural subsidies is one of the very few campaigns that unites right, left and centre. Join us and kickAAS.

[ 08/22/03 ]

:: The American Prosperity Myth.

I contend--unfashionably and, I know, incredibly, given the consensus...[that] the American economy has great strengths, but it is not so all-conquering. And the American Business Model, with its ruthless focus on shareholder profits, has profound weaknesses. Indeed, American industry is at its strongest where it has not observed antistate, progreed precepts and operated in more European ways. Smart action by the state, a viable social contract and efforts by companies to harness human capital and serve a purpose larger than short-term profit maximization turn out to be indispensable components of successful American capitalism as well--though America's public conversation hardly concedes these points. It's a gaping omission that is costing the country dearly.

(via the good blonde)
[ 08/22/03 ]

:: Which pasta shape for which sauce? (via nocto)
[ 08/22/03 ]

:: Has the weblog form matured...or just come full circle? I still prefer a slightly stricter definition of 'weblog' than this essay provides. I think the form has particular strengths and weaknesses, and the secondary elements are a) not always present and b) likely to spin off, be applied to other types of publications, and take on a life of their own. (I can imagine someone publishing a syndicated feed without bothering to provide a Web format, for example.)

I also don't agree with Anil's contention that 'we are starting to see signs that people are more interested in customizing those elements than in inventing entirely new ones'. The sidebar of low-threshold links is the most recent craze, but there's no sign that the weblog elements have frozen.
[ 08/22/03 ]

:: My September 2000 essay Weblogs: A History and Perspective is now available in Japanese!
[ 08/22/03 ]

:: Two of my readers are maintaining what promise to be very interesting Typepad weblogs: Way Down Here and Panchromatica. I still have 20% discount codes available if you want to join the fun.
[ 08/22/03 ]

:: CSM: How gas prices got so high.

'This is like a consumption tax on consumers,' says Fred Dixon of the brokerage house D.A. Davidson in Lake Oswego, Ore., where he recently paid $1.95 for a gallon of fuel. He suspects that fuel prices could even dampen retail sales this quarter: 'Six weeks of higher gas prices may eat into demand,' he says. It could be a hidden drag on the economy.'
Indeed, soaring prices affect almost all Americans, whose 240 million vehicles consume 5.8 billion gallons of fuel each week - at an extra cost, given current fuel prices, of about $1 billion. If the price hikes hold steady, figures Standard & Poor's chief economist David Wyss, they'll nearly balance the tax cut, at about $60 billion this year.

Since we rarely drive more than once a week, this barely affects us at all, but it surely will have a huge effect on the economy. When will this country get serious about reducing its dependence on a product which is almost completely controlled by others?
[ 08/25/03 ]

:: As you've probably read, it seems the White House instructed the EPA to deliberately mislead New Yorkers regarding the safety of Ground Zero. [slithy popup!] I'll bet you didn't know that, according to this August 2002 report from the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, one year later the President vetoed a $90 million package 'earmarked to greatly expand the effort to track and provide medical care to people with lingering health effects resulting from the attack on the World Trade Center'. (thanks, lizard!)
[ 08/25/03 ]

:: Do you want to use the Internet to help influence public opinion in the upcoming election? Team Dubya has put together some form letters you can use to make your views known to newspaper editors around the country.
[ 08/25/03 ]

:: The Dubious Rewards of Consumption.

For decades Lewis Lapham, born into an oil fortune, has been asking people how much money they would need to be happy. 'No matter what their income,' he reports, 'a depressing number of Americans believe that if only they had twice as much, they would inherit the estate of happiness promised them in the Declaration of Independence. The man who receives $15,000 a year is sure that he could relieve his sorrow if he had only $30,000 a year; the man with $1 million a year knows that all would be well if he had $2 million a year....Nobody,' he concludes, 'ever has enough.'

(via path to freedom)
[ 08/25/03 ]

:: Successfully taking advantage of the growing demand for ethical, organic, and spiritual shopping goods, Monastic is an association devoted to developing the many cottage industries run in convents and monasteries in France, Belgium, and Germany.

[T]hey came up with the idea of an association to guard against companies exploiting the image of monks and nuns. Monastic's members are mostly smaller communities who would be economically defenceless without it. But it has taken considerable tact to develop it into an efficient organisation without seeming excessively money-driven. 'We don't do it for profit,' says Brother Gérard. 'In France, the monasteries receive no state support, so we need to make enough money to keep ourselves going. We make as much as we need and then stop.'

(via dangerousmeta)
[ 08/25/03 ]

:: The French eat a high-fat diet and yet they do not suffer the obesity that is becoming epidemic in the United States. The secret is simple: smaller portions.

More of the French paradox: Red wine and olive oils contain chemicals that may extend your healthy life. [NY Times: pockeet, password: pockeet] That reminds me, who can recommend a common (available in supermarkets), inexpensive, palatable red table wine?
[ 08/25/03 ]

:: The best fitting bra pattern. (Nope, I haven't tried it.)
[ 08/25/03 ]

:: I've been nearly unaffected by the recent computer virus and worm attacks that have wreaked such havoc across the connected world. I thought it might be worth explaining my system for those of you who have been plagued.

- I don't use Outlook or Outlook Express. Most of these viruses are designed to be spread using these programs, and for some years I have felt that it is just good PC hygiene not to use them at all. I am very satisfied with the alternative email programs I have found: PocoMail and the Bat!. Both of these programs are customizable, have nice, clean interfaces, and are very inexpensive. Even if I download an infected piece of email, it is extremely unlikely my computer will pass it on to anyone else, since viruses are rarely, if ever, targeted at these email clients.

- Before I download my email, I look at it on the server using Mailwasher. I installed this program hoping to use the 'bounce' feature to slowly cull myself from spammers' lists. I am receiving more spam than ever, so I can't recommend it for that result. However, this program does enable me to view (and even read, if I wish) all the mail I've received before I download it. I delete spam before it ever hits my personal computer--which means that email viruses never hit my machine.

Even if you are using Outlook, this one, inexpensive, easy-to-use program--by itself--offers a buffer between you and all kinds of unsavory email. It does add an additional step but if you hate spam, at least you will not store it--even for a minute--on your own hard drive. If you are offended by the graphic photos in porn spam, you will never see them again. If you are worried about computer viruses, Mailwasher allows you to read and delete email that isn't legitimate before it hits your machine. This is a shareware program, which means you can use it free of charge--but if you find it as useful as I do, I'm sure you'll want to send its creator $5 or $10 out of sheer gratitude.

- Finally, I use a reliable antivirus program, eTrust EZ Antivirus from Computer Associates. It automatically, unobtrusively keeps itself updated and well worth the $24.95/year licensing fee.

Of course, you should never click on an attachment from someone you don't know. If you receive an attachment from someone you do know, always email them back to make sure it is legitimate before you open it.
[ 08/25/03 ]

:: Fascinating Weekend Reading: The Corporation as Command Economy.

[D]o we really live in a market economy? When we look at the pattern of economic transactions in our modern market economy, the striking thing is how large a proportion of transactions do not pass through anything like a market. [...]
Within the production side of the economy the overwhelming proportion of movements of goods and the provision of services takes place within a single corporation: one branch or division providing something of value to another branch or division, with no money changing hands. Microsoft's application developers do not sell their products to its marketing division. Different branches do not bid for and buy the daily services of the corporation's top managers. Within each of the corporations in our economy there exists not the spontaneous division of labor produced in an unplanned fashion by the invisible hand of the market, but a planned and organized division of labor.

[ 08/29/03 ]

:: Downloading Christian music: Theft or ministry? (via this guy falls down)
[ 08/29/03 ]

:: Smart Wind power in Massachusetts. [NY Times: pockeet, password: pockeet] [slithy popup!]

Problems are increasingly rare, however. At FPL Energy, a spokesperson said that the company's turbines were operating 96 percent of the time in 2002. And the Scada systems built into the new generation of turbines achieve a near-autonomous level of intelligence. In Hull, Mass., where the municipal light department installed a single 660-kilowatt turbine on the edge of Boston Harbor in 2001, the operations manager, John McLeod, said, 'The only time I go out there is to give tours.'
One day last winter, the tiny cups on an anemometer that measures wind speed on the turbine began gathering ice. The ice caused the anemometer to spin abnormally slowly. The computer that governs the windmill's operation was confused by the 'slow' wind speed; it seemed as if the windmill was generating too much power for such a calm day. 'So the turbine shut itself down,' said Mr. MacLeod, who runs the Hull Municipal Light Plant. 'But the anemometer is heated, and eventually the ice melted,' and the turbine started again. He added, 'It diagnosed the problem itself and sent me a fax letting me know what had happened.'

[ 08/29/03 ]

:: Whatever you do, don't let it touch your hips! [super-slithy popup!]
[ 08/29/03 ]

:: Thanks so much to everyone who has written in to suggest an inexpensive, palatable red table wine!

Red Wine recommendations:
- Two Buck Chuck from Trader Joes (the merlot is passable, but the cabernet, if left to breathe for about 1/2 hr, can beat up most $10-15 spanish/italian/french competition) (Here is an interesting theory on the popularity of this wine.) - Copolla (Frances Ford) Red Table Wine $10-15 - Rodney Strong Merlots and Cabernets are drinkable.
- One of my coworkers, who is a wine maven, recommended Robert Mondavi's Private Selection Merlot ($8 or $9)
- Forest Glen produces very high quality California cabernet and merlot. Both run just under $8.00 here in Chicagoland and frequent my table. They are excellent values and compare to wines two or three times the price.
- I have found Delicato reds (Cab Sauvignon, Merlot... Haven't had the Shiraz) to be passable, in the under-$10 range. In the $10 - $20 range I gravitate towards Kendall-Jacksons.

- I Drink Chilean Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon found a bad one yet, highly drinkable with or without food.
- Terrazas Malbec from Chile or Argentina- the forgotten grape of Bordeaux (virtually eliminated because of phyloxera (sp?)). If you don't know it, try it--kind of like a cross between cabernet sauvignon and zinfandel.
- Santa Rita Cabernet from Chile--ok quality, excellent price $6 last I checked. Good if you are having a big pasta or pizza 'feed.' Not sipping wine.

- Beaujolais Villages. Any vintage. Usually under ten bucks a bottle. Quite tasty, goes with damn near anything.
- I like Terraces (a Chandon brand) and St. Julia. These have been running around $7, but going up because they've been 'found.'
- I highly recommend Sangre de Toro by the Torres Family out of Spain. It is made mostly of Grenache, the red used with Syrah in Rhone style blends. It can be purchased at Trader Joe's for $4.99, although most Calif. supermarkets (Vons, Ralphs, etc) carry it for $8.99.
- Gabbiano Chianti is around $15 (sometimes on sale) and always good, especially with pasta, meatballs, etc.
- Some of the best European wine values are from south east France in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. I have become a real fan of them--Chateau Gorgazaud (sp??) has been a favorite: a big wine, ready to drink (but should get some air) and priced for every day (~$7-9)

- From Australia, I've really liked this years release (~2000 or 2001 vintage) of Reynolds merlot. A solid wine, although it fades in the bottle and is not for cellaring, it is running about $8 in Chicago.

Wine websites:
Gang of Pour
Best Cellars
Jeff & Lorree's Moderately-Priced-Wine Review Page
[ 08/29/03 ]

:: AOL has launched AOL Journals, their own weblog software, and they've appointed John Scalzi as their flagship/Uber-blogger. They couldn't have made a better choice. John has a depth and breadth of knowledge about both the weblog and online journaling communities that probably no one else can match. If you have toyed with the idea of starting your own weblog, and you are reading this from an AOL account, AOL journals may be just what you are looking for.
[ 08/29/03 ]

:: In the face of weblogs really and truly hitting the mainstream (and between AOL and Howard Dean that is happening), Tom Coates has a terrific article in the Guardian on maintaining weblog culture in the face of the mass amateurisation of publishing.

Tom has it exactly right: For some time now, the biggest challenge facing the weblog universe has been navigation, recommendation, and reputation management. Innovation in these areas will have even more profound an effect on the weblog universe--and community--than did the introduction of easy-to-use weblog tools.
[ 08/29/03 ]

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