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.: 2003 --> september


:: The perfect storm? The American media and Iraq.

On a scale from one to ten – if 'one' is rigorously sceptical and 'ten' supine – Perfect Storm scored ten out of ten, far exceeding the already impressive levels of press complicity achieved in the first Iraq war. In 1991, it is fair to say that some degree of mediated policy deliberation occurred. At least this was the conclusion of a group of us who studied the media coverage of that war and wrote Taken by Storm (Chicago, 1994 ) based on that research. The coverage was flawed because the press remained dependent on strategic communication emanating from the administration and from Congress. But some tough questioning did happen.

A smart, insightful primer on both the Bush Administration's masterful management of the press, the current political climate ('Where were the Democrats?'), and real-life journalism.

When journalists make story choices, they favour narrative elements that are most likely to advance a coherent, dramatic story into the future. In some cases, those choices produce stories that ignore potentially damning evidence to the contrary. These cases typically involve looking away from sources less likely to deliver future instalments, and favouring (usually official) sources more prepared to deliver regular updates. [...]
Third, consider the widespread journalistic decisions to avoid confusing the Iraq-terrorism narrative with stronger evidence of links between al-Qaida, 9/11, and Saudi Arabia – stories that continued to demand major coverage even after the post-war revelation by Saudi officials that al-Qaida operatives conducted training operations as late as July 2003 on Saudi farms, and even after the administration refused to release an intelligence report allegedly linking al-Qaida to prominent members of the Saudi political elite.

Bonus quote:

Apparently the defeated Democrats have been advised to offend no one and take no political risks. Although this advice might be questioned as making them seem even more offensive by looking weak and indecisive, they are apparently paying enough for their professional communication counsel to follow it.

[ 09/01/03 ]

:: Fundamental Equality: A reformist movement of conservative Christians think the theologians who teach female submission have, from a Biblical perspective, gotten it wrong.

Educated in conservative evangelical circles, Kohlenberger says he's only recently completed his own journey to egalitarianism. Though his wife was concerned about the issue 20 years ago, he never paid attention until, while teaching at a Bible college, he began noticing 'a lot of couples in which the female partner was definitely the more gifted, and was being intentionally held back by the husband.' [...]
'We see women in the first three centuries called by every title there is in the church - deacon, apostle, elder,' he says. 'It wasn't until the fourth century when the church became more institutionalized that women started to get forced out.'

[ 09/01/03 ]

:: From urban homesteaders Path to Freedom, a list of DIY articles on the Web--including the fabulous vermicomposting toilet!
[ 09/01/03 ]

:: Also from that page, this very interesting set of instructions for a form of air conditioning that has supposedly been found in ancient Roman Villas.
[ 09/01/03 ]

:: Beware the Life Cycle of 'Recycled'. Kumar Venkat envisions an energy 'nutrition label' for consumer products.
[ 09/01/03 ]

:: A eight-year ground-breaking research study cataloguing the lives and interactions of grizzly bears has tragically ended after the scientists returned to the site to find the bears had been slaughtered.

Dr. Paquet said the Kamchatka research, while controversial, had given humans a fresh and startling new understanding of grizzlies, demonstrating the complex emotional relationships among the mysterious creatures.
'He was an interpreter for the bears. He's been their ambassador,' Dr. Paquet said.
He compared the explanatory role of Mr. Russell and Ms. Enns to that of Dian Fossey, who taught the world that mountain gorillas in the remote Rwandan highlands were shy vegetarians instead of the ferocious killers humans had thought.

[ 09/01/03 ]

:: A little weekend reading: One Cosmic Question, Too Many Answers. [slithy popup!]
[ 09/05/03 ]

:: Understanding the jobless recovery.

Consider these facts: Employment growth at the moment is the lowest for any recovery since the government started keeping such statistics in 1939. The labor force shrank in July as discouraged workers stopped seeking employment. The number of people employed has fallen by more than 1 million since the 'recovery' began in the fall of 2001.[...]
True, the economy is showing signs of improving. The government reported Thursday that the economy grew at a 3.1 percent annual rate in the second quarter - better than many expected. Consumer and business spending, in particular, was robust. [..] Yet the recovery is probably not vigorous enough yet to reduce unemployment much this year, or even well into 2004 from the jobless rate of 6.2 percent in July, economists figure.

[ 09/05/03 ]

:: IQ: Nature or Nurture? It seems it depends on your position on the economic scale.
[ 09/05/03 ]

:: Restoring musty books:
Care and Handling of Books
Northeast Document Conservation Center newsletter [pdf] (scroll down)
A Simple Book Repair Manual
- Dealing with Mold, Mildew, and Insects
rec.collecting.books FAQ
- How Do I Get Rid of That 'Musty Smell'?

Home Remedies:
conservation distlist
ez board
Leola's Good Books

The upshot seems to be: dry the book out and then keep it dry. Some people advocate putting their books into the sun or into the freezer to kill the spores; others, just absorbing odor (and drying the book out) with a dessicant or kitty litter. (thanks, richard!)
[ 09/05/03 ]

:: In his new book, The Essential Difference, Cambridge University psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen speculates that autism may be best explained as an extreme version of male intelligence. And some autism experts maintain that mildly autistic people excel at certain kinds of jobs.

Even when they lack such savant skills, autistic people often excel at mundane, detail-oriented tasks. 'I maintain that we should have autistic people running the scanners at airports,' says Catherine Johnson, an author and activist whose two autistic sons amuse themselves by putting together jigsaw puzzles with the picture-side down. 'No normal human being can process that much detail.'

If this is true, then it seems likely an equivalent would exist for 'female intelligence'. Would that explain this Highly Sensitive Person profile, or would it manifest in some other way?

(thanks, lizard!)
[ 09/05/03 ]

:: You Go Grrl News: Meet Michelle Wie, a 6-foot-tall, 13-year-old who hits a golf ball over 300 yards.
[ 09/05/03 ]

:: Snopes says it's real: If an unmarked car signals you to stop, always wait until you are in a populated area to do so. (thanks, jim!)
[ 09/05/03 ]

:: Republicans take over K Street.

The hottest speculation in Washington isn't over who will fill a possible Supreme Court vacancy, but who will take over Jack Valenti's perch atop the Motion Picture Association of America - and the buzz is narrowing to three Republicans, all present or former members of Congress.

[ 09/09/03 ]

:: The diary of slave Adam Francis Plummer has recently been donated to the Smithsonian Institute, and historians are ecstatic.

Last month, in an elaborate ceremony, Tompkins-Davis donated the diary of Adam Francis Plummer to the Smithsonian Institution's Anacostia Museum and Center for African American History and Culture, where a conservator lords over it as if it were the Constitution — and with good reason:
The discovery of a slave diary written in real time may be unprecedented, according to appraisers and historians.

And it's a triumphant story.
[ 09/05/03 ]

:: A recent study found that in the UK packed lunches are often unhealthy. To help parents pack properly, the Food Standards Agency has put together a month of healthy lunchboxes, a resource that should be useful for parents on both sides of the Atlantic.
[ 09/05/03 ]

:: Two years ago today, the world really did change. To remember that is fitting and necessary and wise. But to perpetually define ourselves in those terms will condemn us to an existence as perpetual victims.

Update: Anil is more eloquent on this subject than I ever could be.
[ 09/11/03 ]

:: From garbage to energy: a using germs to generate electricity. [slithy popup!]

As it has become clear that the world will need energy alternatives, some researchers have turned to the idea of finding new ways of releasing the enormous amount of energy trapped in plants and other organic matter. This is the idea behind ethanol, a fuel made from corn. But instead of using organic matter to make a fuel, the battery announced yesterday converts organic matter directly into electricity.
'We need people thinking outside of the box, and these researchers are clearly thinking outside the box,' said Mark Finkelstein, group manager of bioprocess research and development at the government's National Bioenergy Center in Golden, Colo. 'And this has shorter-term possibilities than the hydrogen research that is getting so much funding.'

Now that's something like!
[ 09/11/03 ]

:: The Two Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers and Fathers Are Going Broke is a new book that analyzes the financial crisis that has engulfed a quickly increasing number of middle-class families. MSNBC has excerpted the first chapter.

The average two-income family earns far more today than did the single-breadwinner family of a generation ago. And yet, once they have paid the mortgage, the car payments, the taxes, the health insurance, and the day-care bills, today’s dual-income families have less discretionary income--and less money to put away for a rainy day--than the single- income family of a generation ago. And so the Two-Income Trap has been neatly sprung. Mothers now work two jobs, at home and at the office. And yet they have less cash on hand. Mom’s paycheck has been pumped directly into the basic costs of keeping the children in the middle class. [...]
Inevitably, the Two-Income Trap affected the one-income family too. When millions of mothers entered the workforce, they ratcheted up the price of a middle-class life for everyone, including families that wanted to keep Mom at home. A generation ago, a single breadwinner who worked diligently and spent carefully could assure his family a comfortable position in the middle class. But the frenzied bidding wars, fueled by families with two incomes, changed the game for single-income families as well, pushing them down the economic ladder. To keep Mom at home, the average single-income family must forfeit decent public schools and preschools, health insurance, and college degrees, leaving themselves and their children with a tenuous hold on their middle-class dreams.

I'm eagerly anticipating more reviews to see if it is as interesting as it sounds. (thanks, lizard!)
[ 09/11/03 ]

:: For the first time, the proposed USDA Dietary Guidelines will be geared to the unfit majority rather than the healthy minority. [NY Times: pockett, password: pockett]

The new recommendations call for most women from 35 to 70 years old, for instance, to eat 1,600 to 1,800 calories a day, and for most men in that age group to eat 2,000 to 2,200 calories. Previously, the recommendation for most such people, then assumed to be active, was about 600 calories more.
'Over all, the message is that people have to eat a lot less than they are currently eating,' said Dr. Marion Nestle, chairwoman of the department of nutrition and food studies at New York University. 'People will be shocked at how little it is.'

[ 09/11/03 ]

:: Mother Angelica is a 79-year-old Franciscan nun with her own media empire.
[ 09/11/03 ]

:: Michael May, whose vision was restored after 43 years of blindness, is showing scientists exactly the ways in which vision is more than just eye function.

May can identify simple shapes and colors. He can interpret objects in motion. He can spy faraway peaks. He marvels at the vibrancy of plants and flowers unseen since he lost his vision.
But three-dimensional perception and the ability to recognize complex objects such as the faces of family and friends remain severely impaired. He strains to tell the difference between a man and a woman. He describes a cube as a square with extra lines.

[ 09/11/03 ]

:: Custom clothes for the fantasy geek on your Christmas list: House of Anoria: Medieval Clothing - Elizabethan Clothing - Renaissance Clothing - Victorian Clothing Gothic - Period & Fantasy Clothes/Costumes/Accessories & Costume Supply.
[ 09/11/03 ]

:: A little weekend reading: In The Road to Babylon (from December 2002), Lewis Lapham contemplates the incessant call to war and ponders the spectacle of history repeating itself.

Athens in the winter of 415 b.c. stands alone as the preeminent hegemon of Greece. Sparta for the moment has lost its appetite for war, and the Athenians wish to extend their sovereignty over what was then the whole of the known world, not only as far as Sicily but also beyond Carthage to the Pillars of Hercules. [...]
The impetuous Alcibiades presents the case for 'forward deterrence' and 'anticipatory self-defense,' saying that it is in the nature of Athens to do great deeds. As certain as Lieutenant General McInerney of the city's military power, he assures the assembly that Syracuse is easy prey, weak and badly governed.
One does not only defend oneself against a superior power when one is attacked; one takes measures in advance to prevent the attack materializing. And it is not possible for us to calculate, like housekeepers, exactly how much empire we want to have.
More uproar. Louder shouts of defiance. The Athenians know as little about Sicily as Senator Biden knows about Iraq ('For the most part ignorant of the size of the island and of the numbers of its inhabitants,' says Thucydides, 'they did not realize that they were taking on a war of almost the same magnitude as their war against the Peloponnesians'), but they are not the kind of men who stoop to count a crowd of mere barbarians.

Scathing, learned, and bitter in patented Lapham style.
[ 09/12/03 ]

:: Globalization as history's manifest destiny. Two Years Later, a Thousand Years Ago. [NY Times: pockett, password: pockett]

Paradoxically, the increasing volatility of intense discontent puts Americans in a more nonzero-sum relationship with the world's discontented peoples. If, for example, unhappy Muslims overseas grow more unhappy and resentful, that's good for Osama bin Laden and hence bad for America. If they grow more secure and satisfied, that's good for America. This is history's drift: technology correlating the fortunes of ever-more-distant people, enmeshing humanity in a web of shared fate.
The architects of America's national security policy at once grasp this crosscultural interdependence and don't. They see that prosperous and free Muslim nations are good for America. But they don't see that the very logic behind this goal counsels against pursuing it crudely, with primary reliance on force and intimidation. They don't appreciate how easily, amid modern technology, resentment and hatred metastasize. Witness their planning for postwar Iraq, with spectacular inattention to keeping Iraqis safe, content and well informed.

[ 09/12/03 ]

:: In his comments today about 1900 House and Frontier House, Rafe makes a fairly common error, but one that surprises me from him. He says:

Whenever I see environmentalists and anti-globalization activists talking about the glory and dignity of subsistence farming, I think back on these shows and wonder if they really have any idea what they're talking about.

I'm not sure why so many people conflate 'subsistence' and 'sustainability': the two concepts are entirely different. Subsistence generally connotes bare survival; sustainability is an approach designed to ensure that there will be enough now and for the future. Solar energy is sustainable: as long as we are here, it will be, too. Fossil fuel is not: it will run out someday.

Subsistence usually precludes sustainability, since a man who is trying to survive on too few resources will over-fish, over-hunt, over-work the land, and cut down every tree in sight, simply to provide his family with necessities. It's unavoidable, understandable, and perfectly forgivable under the circumstances. But it's the opposite of sustainablity.

There may be environmentalists on the far edge who glorify subsistence, but if so, they are the fringe. I hear environmentalists talk most often about sustainability. And one concern of anti-globalization activists is that unfair labor practices often reduce common people to subsistence-level conditions.
[ 09/12/03 ]

:: Scientists weigh in on the five-second rule. (thanks, neil!)
[ 09/16/03 ]

:: Scientists from around the globe are undertaking a census of the sea.
[ 09/16/03 ]

:: $87 billion: 'Only a down payment'.

Even cost-saving efforts of the 1990s have come back to bite. Because the Army shed many of its supply and support battalions, it is paying the salaries of 6,000 civilian contractors, along with tens of thousands of dollars in added insurance costs, for services as mundane as maintaining portable toilets, delivering ice and disposing of trash. Most of that money is to pay contractor Kellogg, Brown & Root Inc., a subsidiary of Halliburton Co., formerly headed by Vice President Cheney.
On Friday, Democratic Reps. Henry A. Waxman (Calif.) and John D. Dingell (Mich.) asked White House Budget Director Joshua B. Bolten why the president had requested $2.1 billion more to rebuild Iraq's oil fields, mostly for Halliburton, when in July the Army Corps of Engineers said the job would cost $1.1 billion. Of that, Halliburton has already received $948 million.
White House budget office spokesman Trent Duffy said the administration will provide a detailed explanation when the president formally requests the emergency spending.

Nothing new here, I just like saying Halliburton over and over again. Of course rebuilding is going to cost a lot of money. But now that we're there, we have to spend it.
[ 09/16/03 ]

:: How do you help a turtle with a cracked shell? Ask the body shop next door. (thanks, lizard!)
[ 09/16/03 ]

:: The Multiple Heteronyms of One Poet

Fernando Pessoa was a mastermind born in the late 1800s who fooled entire nations and important personalities into a web of fantasy and art using conventional newspapers and magazines to create a world of imaginary people, circumstances and places. His intricate web was revealed to us 50 years after his death, when his sister donated a chest with over 27 thousand documents written by him. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that these were written by more than seventy heteronyms he created, who were capable of producing not only poems but critical works, philosophical tracts, novels, plays, horoscopes, letters and interviews.
Heteronyms: a concept stronger than pseudonyms, they were literary alter egos with intricate imaginary lives of their own.

Just fascinating.
[ 09/16/03 ]

:: WHAT?

The White House expressed consternation earlier in the day over reports that members of the administration have led the public to believe a link exists between Saddam and the attacks on the United States. [...]
[White House spokesman Scott] McClellan could offer no clear explanation as to why recent public opinion polls indicate that 70 percent of Americans think there is a tie between Iraq and the attacks.

I leave my commentary as an exercise for the reader.
[ 09/18/03 ]

:: Columbia Journalism Review: Calling a Lie a Lie.

As part of its reverence for objectivity, journalism esteems balance. A reporter can demonstrate objectivity by quoting two opposing sides of an issue equally. In America's two-party system, the Republican and Democratic positions conveniently serve to demarcate those sides. Democratic claims receive every bit as much credence as Republican claims, and vice versa, and for a reporter to suggest otherwise is seen as joining the partisan fray.
In discussing which party's policies are preferable, this evenhandedness makes sense. But in reporting which party's claims are true, sometimes there's one right answer. Often, however, that truth isn't apparent to the lay person or the average reporter but only to experts--scientists, doctors, economists, or scholars. Reporters must themselves work through the numbers or diligently mine the experts' research to ferret out the truth--or, more likely, they fall back on presenting both sides' claims equally. Bound by professional strictures, news reporters can wind up giving a lie the same weight as the truth, while it falls to opinion writers to note when a president has lied about his tax cuts or stem-cell research policy.
Getting away with such policy prevarications has grown easier because of one last factor: the rise of the party message machines.

(thanks, lizard!)
[ 09/18/03 ]

:: Yiff! The Card Game. It's time you knew, dear readers. Believe me, this is just the tip of the iceberg. [18 years and older, only. Will be offensive to some.]
[ 09/18/03 ]

:: Unilever has made a commitment to use only fish from sustainable stocks by 2005. [pdf] Two things stand in their way: a contentious certification process, and entrenched customer tastes.

Cod, which thrives in the cold, deep waters of the North Sea, has long been a popular dish. Archaeological digs show that Britons have eaten this fish for 7,000 years.
Today, polls show that despite warnings that cod stocks are on the verge of collapse, it accounts for more than one-third of household purchases and last year restaurants served 136m cod meals.
But cod is not the only fish in the sea. There are enough species caught around the UK for a fish-eater to have a different dish each week of the year.

[ 09/18/03 ]

:: Cringley on identity theft.

Identity theft is not only incredibly easy to do, but our government seems to go out of its way to help the thieves. The government is making many Americans more vulnerable, not less. This is crime just waiting to happen on a massive scale, thanks to computer technology.
The single greatest deterrent to identity theft is probably a paper shredder. Get one and use it for anything you throw away that contains personal information. Oh, and NEVER put outgoing mail in your mailbox for pickup by the carrier. Take it to the post office or to a local post office box. [...]

Pretty much a must-read. (via
[ 09/18/03 ]

:: Speaking of which, Tim O'Connor is having the same problem I've been having the past few days: spammers are faking headers to make it appear that we are sending the spam.
[ 09/18/03 ]

:: Beldar has prompted me to create an icon to indicate adoption of my Weblog Ethics. It's there in my sidebar, under 'Disclosures & Assertions' and on the ethics page itself.

You can add it to your weblog by right-clicking the icon and selecting 'Save Image' to your computer. Put it in the folder with all the graphics for your weblog (called, say, 'graphics') and add this code to your site:

<p><a href=""><img src="graphics/ethics.gif" height="47" width="100" border="0" alt="Blogging by the book"></a></p>

[ 09/18/03 ]

:: A little weekend reading: NY Times, April 1998--Horse, Blender, Car, Crockpot: Pick Your Gadgets

Choices in technology are often intensely personal. In his home in Basking Ridge, N.J., Dr. Steve Crandall, a researcher at AT&T Laboratories, has a panoply of gadgets and appliances: microwave oven, coffee grinder for bulk spices and electric ice cream maker. Crandall's rule: 'If something is clearly superior or even more pleasant to use, I'll choose that route. This can create what appear to be discrepancies.'
One such discrepancy is his insistence on performing calculations with a slide rule, a tool that slipped into obscurity within a few years of the advent of electronic calculators in the early 1970's. 'You can feel the calculations in your fingers, and the experience can be sensual,' he said, in a passionate defense of the practice. 'There's magic in those things.' He uses a calculator only for taxes and expense reports.

[ 09/19/03 ]

:: More delivers us much less argues that economic policy affects relationships, and that policymakers should start taking social effects into account. It's a rather slapdash collection of ideas, but it makes some worthwhile, if loosely supported, points.

'Our closest and deepest relationships are being eroded by a rising tide of wider personal interaction, and by isolating involvement with individual technologies,' Tanner says. 'Our crowded lives are cluttered with contact but diminishing in connection.'

[ 09/19/03 ]

:: The Amish, The Mennonites, And The Plain People

Although the Amish look like they stepped out of the rural nineteenth century, in fact they do change. Their lives move more slowly than ours, but they definitely are not stuck anywhere. They choose to examine change carefully before they accept it. If the new idea or gadget does not assist in keeping their lives simple and their families together, they probably will reject it. Each church district decides for itself what it will and will not accept; there is no single governing body for the entire Old Order population, but all follow a literal interpretation of the Bible and an unwritten set of rules called the Ordnung.

See also the Amish FAQ
[ 09/19/03 ]

:: My Son, it is between two wolves...
[ 09/23/03 ]

:: Things that make you go 'hmmm': NameBase.

Citations to names of individuals and groups involving :

[ 09/23/03 ]

:: Things that make steam come out of your ears: The Bush administration enlisted conservative lobbying groups to undercut their own scientist's findings...

The email, dated 3 June 2002, reveals how White House officials wanted the CEI's help to play down the impact of a report last summer by the government's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in which the US admitted for the first time that humans are contributing to global warming. 'Thanks for calling and asking for our help,' Ebell tells Cooney.
The email discusses possible tactics for playing down the report and getting rid of EPA officials, including its then head, Christine Whitman. 'It seems to me that the folks at the EPA are the obvious fall guys and we would only hope that the fall guy (or gal) should be as high up as possible,' Ebell wrote in the email. 'Perhaps tomorrow we will call for Whitman to be fired,' he added.

...when they couldn't just suppress the EPA research:

The [internal EPA ] memo discusses ways of dealing with the White House editing, and warns that the section 'no longer accurately represents scientific consensus on climate change'. [...]
White House officials added numerous qualifying words such as 'potentially' and 'may', leading the EPA to complain: 'Uncertainty is inserted where there is essentially none.'

I truly can't wait to read the history books on this president and this administration. (thanks, lizard!)
[ 09/23/03 ]

:: Top 10 ways to conserve nature. Pick three.

5. Buy locally grown and produced food: Buying locally reduces greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants from food transportation. One study estimates that the average meal travels 2400 km (1500 miles) from the field to your table.

(via chrisonomicon)
[ 09/23/03 ]

:: Cottage housing vs co-housing.
[ 09/23/03 ]

:: What has happened to all the great local children's entertainers? Cable and network killed the local personalities.
[ 09/23/03 ]

:: It's fun living in a ridiculous state. For what it's worth, in my opinion, we have a Lt. Governor for precisely the instance in which the Governor is no longer able to govern or is otherwise deposed. But jeez.
[ 09/23/03 ]

:: In an end-run around occupation authorities, the Iraqi Governing Council plans to go directly to Congress to try to convince them that Iraqi self-rule will be significantly more economical.

In interviews, the Iraqi leaders said they planned to tell Congress about how the staff of Paul Bremer, the American occupation administrator, sends its laundry to Kuwait, how it costs $20,000 a day to feed the Americans at Al Rashid Hotel in Baghdad, how American contractors charge large premiums for working in Iraq and how, across the board, the overhead from supporting and protecting the large American and British presence here is less efficient than granting direct aid to Iraqi ministries that operate at a fraction of the cost.

Next up? A Umm Qasr tea party. (thanks, lizard!)
[ 09/23/03 ]

:: Stewing in his own juices! Republican Congressman Darrell Issa, who spent $1.7 million of his own money to fund the California recall, is insisting that either Republicans Tom McClintock or Arnold Schwarzenegger leave the race.

If neither does, Issa said he would urge Republican voters to reject the recall because it would assure a victory by Democratic Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante.
Speaking in San Francisco, Issa said, 'As someone who some people call "the godfather of the recall," nobody should be more determined to remove Gray Davis from office.'

Or, it seems, any Democrat with a shot at winning the next general election. (thanks, kevin!) [ 09/25/03 ]

:: Disappointing News: A federal court has blocked the 'Do Not Call List', scheduled to go into effect next month. Check to see whether your state has its own Do Not Call List, see what you can do to opt out of marketing lists, and keep telling telemarketers to put you on their 'No-Call List'.

Update: The House has granted the FTC authority to create a national 'No-Call List' with the Senate expected to do so as soon as this evening.

Update Part Deux: The Senate passed the legislation, and then a different judge blocked the No-Call List again! It's starting to remind me of the last presidential election. I wonder who Fox News is predicting to win?

Earth to judges everywhere: Corporations are legal entities. They are not people. They do not have any constitutionally guaranteed rights, those are for people.
[ 09/25/03 ]

:: Objectively measuring pain with a blood test. (thanks, neil!)
[ 09/25/03 ]

:: Does kitty look cold? Dress her up with a Cat Hat! (thanks, andrew!)
[ 09/25/03 ]

:: I'm pleased to announce that the Italian translation of the Weblog Handbook, ' tuo diario online' is now available. Check out that cover: because it's all about the navel-gazing. (Why, yes, that is my navel in the photo. Of course it is.)
[ 09/25/03 ]

:: Four ways of looking at a Blackbird: Census data shows that the number of stay-at-home moms has grown 13% in less than 10 years. (via dangerousmeta)
[ 09/26/03 ]

:: Maureen Dowd on the new Stepford wives.

There's even a retro trend among women toward deserting the fast track for a pleasant life of sitting around Starbucks gabbing with their girlfriends, baby strollers beside them, and logging time at the gym to firm up for the he-man chief executive at home.

[ 09/26/03 ]

:: Mothering Matters: Do We Value Money More Than Mothering?

By redefining work to include child rearing, any money given to parents would be considered income they earned rather than a handout, and this would benefit all parents, not just the very poorest. Currently, we have the child tax credit and the tax break for child care, but neither of them help the very poorest in our nation, and credits for child care don't count if the person doing the care is a parent.
Although tinkering with the tax code can help, we should start including child rearing in the GDP. Many European nations, including Britain and France, count care giving in their GDP, and offer a 'salary' to parents of the very young. Based on that model, a similar child allowance here, paid directly to all caregivers, would virtually eliminate the 'why doesn't she have to work syndrome' and really end 'welfare as we know it.' A child allowance given to all parents is truly 'mommy neutral.' The money can be used to pay for child care if parents work outside the home or offset bills if one parent stays home.

(via waterloo wide web)
[ 09/26/03 ]

:: Loews Cineplex and have instituted ReelMoms, a matinee movie showing especially for new mothers and their babies.

The moms say they crave the adult interaction as much as the movie and the buttery popcorn. 'It can feel lonely having a child. This gets you out doing something normal,' says Sharon Lessard of Boston, bouncing her baby daughter, Nia, on her hip. Up until now, she's mostly rented movies. 'Your whole life changes after a baby is born.... You have to make an effort to meet people.' [...]
Theaters encourage parents to show up early to chat and get settled, says [John] McCauley, [vice president of marketing at Loews Cineplex Entertainment]. At other showings, he says, there have been activities in the lobby before showtime, such as puppet shows and baby-food promotions.
New moms are a smart audience to target, says Gary Edgerton, chair of communications at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. They feel cut off from pop culture and stranded at home, he says, adding that women who worked before starting a family may feel an even stronger urge to get out than previous generations did.

[ 09/26/03 ]

:: Just hilarious. (via
[ 09/30/03 ]

:: What the heck?

A team of Iraqi officials has spent the summer rewriting the history books to expunge all mentions of Saddam and his once-powerful Ba'ath Party, under a project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. About 17 million edited texts have been printed, with some chapters removed and others heavily revised. Countless photographs of Saddam have been ripped out of exercise books and torn off classroom walls.

We're funding an Iraqi Ministry of Truth!

[ 09/30/03 ]

:: Pamela Hess has written an informed and very even-handed analysis of the press coverage of Iraq: Media new boogeyman of Iraq?

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld complained at a Senate hearing Wednesday that most reporters don't get out of Baghdad, where things are arguably the worst, to report on areas -- like southeastern and northern Iraq -- that are going much more smoothly.
'The bulk of the journalists are in Baghdad there they have facilities and hotels and connections to their offices,' Rumsfeld said. 'So we've not had many takers on (the military) embedding program which still exists and is available.'
There is more than a grain of truth in what they say. But as a reporter who just returned from two months in Iraq -- half of the time spent 'embedded' with the 1st Marine Division, and half as a 'unilateral' in Baghdad -- I can say with some authority the issue is far more complicated than the Bush officials suggest.

It's a great piece on the business of reporting in general, and on the specifics of Iraq in particular. The article covers a lot of ground--too much for an adequate one-sentence summation. Instead, I'll recommend that you read the whole thing.
[ 09/30/03 ]

:: The Business Of Agritainment.

Tens of thousands of school kids, parents and families visit farms like Anderson's each year. They get lost in corn stalks, ogle the animals, harvest pumpkins and generally ensconce themselves in the farm experience. They are part of a growing number of tourists who have discovered a new adventure in agriculture. They are the ones who visit farmers' markets each weekend. They tour wineries. They hire ranchers to take them hunting on their land. They ride with real cowpokes. They nosh barbecue from chuck wagons. They are 'agritourists,' and they are changing the world's oldest industry.

[ 09/30/03 ]

:: The Pound That Wanted To Be A Million

We began to develop a hypothesis, namely that an awful lot of eBay bidders are either stupid, reckless or hopelessly innumerate. I wanted to find out just how stupid, reckless or hopelessly innumerate they could be. I decided to auction an item whose monetary value was completely unambiguous. In fact, I decided to auction an item whose monetary value was actually stamped on it. I auctioned a pound coin. [...]
Bidding was steady for the first few days - 10p, 15p, that sort of thing - then three days in, someone bid £1.20! I couldn't believe it. £1.20 for a pound coin!
I told my friends about it, and one of them suggested I contact the Sun newspaper. He said they love stories like this. So I did. This is where things first started to go weird.

(thanks, ian!)
[ 09/30/03 ]

:: Compumentor is looking for a consultant to help them understand how weblogs can promote social change.
[ 09/30/03 ]

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