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rebecca's pocket

.: 2004 --> april


[>] Two Washington farmers have arranged to sell produce to local prisons in an attempt to create an additional source of revenue.

Supermarket consolidation has eroded the amount of locally grown produce stores buy, and the number of farms and amount of farm acreage in Washington state have steadily declined.
Klesick pursued the deal with Sound Produce and Aramark because he wants to carve out new ways farmers can sell products in bulk if not to grocery stores, then to institutions. Once the program is established, he says he'll go back to selling directly to consumers because that's what he prefers.
"Farmers markets and consumer-direct don't do near the volume wholesale does," Klesick said. "We need to develop both kinds of markets."

You can help, of course, by patronizing farmer's markets, CSAs, and local co-ops in order to ensure that your vegetable dollars go to (probably local) farmers. (via tidepool)
[ 04/01/04 ]

[>] Neat! Local Harvest is now offering organic farmers the opportunity to sell their products online. Their search engine will sort your results according to proximity, so that farms nearest to you come up first. But the selection is nationwide, with organic, grass-fed ground beef (for example) ranging from $3.29 to $4.50 a pound.
[ 04/01/04 ]

[>] Experts Say Cheap Oil May Soon Be History.

Many geologists and professional forecasters say global production of cheap, conventional oil has peaked, or will peak within a decade. After the peak, supply will begin to decline, resulting in shortages that could cause significant economic and geopolitical upheaval. Below are some links to background, recent articles, commentaries and video about oil forecasting and the possibility that shortages are on the way.

Which reminds me, do you think the OPEC is trying to influence the election? (It's complicated: the US occupation was engineered by a fellow oil man.)
[ 04/01/04 ]

[>] The Biodiesel Blog.
[ 04/01/04 ]

[>] If a man calls your restaurant and tells you to strip-search one of your employees, just say no.
[ 04/01/04 ]

[>] The authors of the excellent SpinSanity have a book coming out called All the President's Spin.
[ 04/01/04 ]

[>] A little weekend reading: Why Americans, long the tallest people in the world, are losing the height race.

In the First World War, the average American soldier was still two inches taller than the average German. But sometime around 1955 the situation began to reverse. The Germans and other Europeans went on to grow an extra two centimetres a decade, and some Asian populations several times more, yet Americans haven't grown taller in fifty years. By now, even the Japanese - once the shortest industrialized people on earth - have nearly caught up with us, and Northern Europeans are three inches taller and rising.
The average American man is only five feet nine and a half - less than an inch taller than the average soldier during the Revolutionary War. Women, meanwhile, seem to be getting smaller. According to the National Center for Health Statistics - which conducts periodic surveys of as many as thirty-five thousand Americans - women born in the late nineteen-fifties and early nineteen-sixties average just under five feet five. Those born a decade later are a third of an inch shorter.
Just in case I still thought this a trivial trend, Komlos put a final bar graph in front of me. It was entitled "Life Expectancy 2000." Compared with people in thirty-six other industrialized countries, it showed, Americans rank twenty-eighth in average longevity - just above the Irish and the Cypriots (the Japanese top the rankings). "Ask yourself this," Komlos said, peering at me above his reading glasses. "What is the difference between Western Europe and the U.S. that would work in this direction? It's not income, since Americans, at least on paper, have been wealthier for more than a century. So what is it?"

And while experts argue about whether this generation's obesity is caused by the wrong foods (fat, carbohydrates, or corn syrup), or inactivity, or both, this would indicate to me that food is to blame:

Steckel has found that Americans lose the most height to Northern Europeans in infancy and adolescence, which implicates pre-and post-natal care and teen-age eating habits. "If these snack foods are crowding out fruits and vegetables, then we may not be getting the micronutrients we need," he says. In a recent British study, one group of schoolchildren was given hamburgers, French fries, and other familiar lunch foods; the other was fed nineteen-forties-style wartime rations such as boiled cabbage and corned beef. Within eight weeks, the children on the rations were both taller and slimmer than the ones on a regular diet.

Bonus interview with author.
[ 04/01/04 ]

[>] Weblog readers and writers: University of Zurich graduate student Daniel Joerg would appreciate five minutes of your time to fill out his weblog survey.
[ 04/01/04 ]

[>] Wow. Prayers for Iraq.
[ 04/06/04 ]

[>] We're More Productive. Who Gets the Money? (via dangerousmeta)

Andrew Sum, the center's director and lead author of [a new] study, said: "This is the first time we've ever had a case where two years into a recovery, corporate profits got a larger share of the growth of national income than labor did. Normally labor gets about 65 percent and corporate profits about 15 to 18 percent. This time profits got 41 percent and labor [meaning all forms of employee compensation, including wages, benefits, salaries and the percentage of payroll taxes paid by employers] got 38 percent."
The study said: "In no other recovery from a post-World War II recession did corporate profits ever account for as much as 20 percent of the growth in national income. And at no time did corporate profits ever increase by a greater amount than labor compensation."

The Center for Labor Market Studies' website seems to be down at the moment, so I can't find a copy of the report, 'The Unprecedented Rising Tide of Corporate Profits and the Simultaneous Ebbing of Labor Compensation - Gainers and Losers from the National Economic Recovery in 2002 and 2003'.

I was able to find this March 2004 editorial by one of the study's authors that argues that labor statistics indicate that the American workplace is undergoing a profound transformation. [slithy popup!]

It's understandable how the jobs story can be so confusing. Suppose that you wanted to know how many Americans found work from the end of the recession in 2001 through the first two months of this year. According to one of the two leading sources for such data -- the current employment statistics, also known as the payroll survey -- the number of wage and salary workers on employer payrolls fell by more than 620,000. But according to the other leading source -- the current population survey of households -- employment in the nation increased by nearly 2.3 million over the same period. Not only do these numbers -- both of which are drawn from monthly surveys -- move in opposite directions, they represent a staggering gap of 3 million jobs, a gap between the two surveys that is 10 times greater than that observed after the previous five recessions.
We think we've resolved these seemingly dueling data. We have found what may be the beginnings of an undermining of America's long-established employer- employee relationship that workers should have employment stability, fair wages, and a chance for advancement. The change carries enormous implications for our next president.

[ 04/06/04 ]

[>] I'd vote for having one of these in every restaurant and health facility I visit.
[ 04/06/04 ]

[>] Time was, people didn't move far from where they were born. Time was, they put down roots and stayed in a place for most of their lives. Nowadays, people just aren't as connected with their communities--or even their neighbors--because they move around so much. True or false?

Americans are moving at the lowest rates in half a century - a phenomenon backed up by fresh data from the Census Bureau. The 40 million Americans who moved between 2002 and 2003 make up just 14 percent of the population, compared with 20 percent in 1948. Most of the slowdown in moving has come in recent years.

[ 04/06/04 ]

[>] And what about those neighborhoods? It seems they have become ideologically more homogeonous, less diverse than they were even in the 50's. And as the Austin American Stateman puts it, this is the unexamined backstage story of the nation's increasingly rancorous politics. (This site requires a very annoying registration, but in this case I'm recommending that you do it in order to read this interesting and important article.) (via campaign desk)

American democracy is based on the continuous exchange of differing points of view. Today, most Americans live in communities that are becoming more politically homogenous and, in effect, diminish dissenting views. And that grouping of like-minded people is feeding the nation's increasingly rancorous and partisan politics.
By the end of the dead-even 2000 presidential election, American communities were more lopsidedly Republican or Democratic than at any time in the past half-century. The fastest-growing kind of segregation in the United States isn't racial. It is the segregation between Republicans and Democrats. [...]
[Professor Cass] Sunstein's concern is rooted in more than 300 social science experiments over the past 40 years that have found a striking phenomenon that occurs when like-minded people cluster: They tend to become more extreme in their thinking. They polarize.

As you know, I've linked and written and talked about this before. And while the Internet exacerbates the problem, but it would appear that this is a general trend--one that we need to pay attention to if we care about the survival of our democracy.

One good first step would be to un-gerrymander the entire country. Sure, you'll have lots of Democratic and Republican enclaves. But at least they will be naturally occurring. In some districts candidates and constituencies will be forced, come election time, to have real conversations with each other again. No elected representative deserves an assured seat in Congress.
[ 04/06/04 ]

[>] How to make Cream Cheese
Freezing Cheese, Eggs, and Dairy Products
Foods that Do Not Freeze Well
Cold Storage Chart [pdf]

[ 04/06/04 ]

[>] Stop hotlinking with .htaccess. (via genehack)
[ 04/06/04 ]

[>] Campaign Desk has simply become a must-read. Their latest catch: One month after the fact, only USA Today bothered to question why, as the White House asserts, in initial questioning only 5 members of the 9/11 panel showed up to question Condoleeza Rice. Simple. The White House first set a cap on the number of panelists who could be present--and then held the meeting at a time when numerous panelists could not attend (a little fact that Campaigndesk did not--ahem--mention).

Am I angry with the White House for their misleading characterization of the situation? No, I've come to expect that. But I sure am peeved with the press.
[ 04/08/04 ]

[>] From Professor DeLong: Outsourcing 101.
[ 04/08/04 ]

[>] When local planning officials opposed building a megastore, Wal-Mart thought it would end-run planners by taking its case to the voters instead. But in Inglewood, California, the voters said no.

In the referendum, voters decided whether to let the chain bypass ordinary government oversight of its development. The idea was soundly rebuffed by a coalition of business, education and religious activists. "The last thing we wanted was for a corporation which is not a democracy to come in here and act like a sovereign nation," said volunteer Rachel Morris, who walked the city streets educating voters about what was at stake.
The measure called for a complex the size of 17 football fields to be built without the usual traffic studies, environmental reviews, and public hearings required by state and local laws. "They were trying to tell residents that Wal-Mart is so big that they don't have to follow state and local laws. That is a nightmare and we didn't buy it," says Morris.

[ 04/08/04 ]

[>] Ancient Foodies News: UC Davis food geographer Louis Grivetti is writing a book based on the eight-volume work "The Deipnosophists," which documents the gustatory delecacies of the 200 AD Mediterranean region.

With the computer assistance of colleague Matthew Lange, Grivetti will document, among other foods, 500 to 600 ancient wines with appellations by district. He will also trace superior breads, cakes, fruits and vegetables to their classical bakeries and gardens.

[ 04/08/04 ]

[>] Wikipedia: Food Preservation
Preserving of Foods through the Middle Ages

[ 04/08/04 ]

[>] The solar deydrator.
[ 04/08/04 ]

[>] Working for an NGO and Blogging from Baghdad. Will this be the Salam Pax of Occupied Iraq?

Update: I removed the link to the above weblog. Within a day, the blogger started shilling for donations in support of his Blogspot (read: free) weblog. Instead, go to this long list of other weblogs being produced in Iraq.
[ 04/09/04 ]

[>] BedZED is a new South London sustainable housing development that attracts tenants by its great design.

"I loved the space, I loved the amount of light inside the flat, I loved the look," says Julie. "I had no idea of the BedZED concept though. I didn't even realize that there was no central heating. It was a nice surprize when we got our first electricity bill!"

The sidebar notes that they will be establishing five international One Planet Living communities.

All aspects of sustainable living are designed into the living space--so just living in a BedZed community reduces a tenant's impact on the Earth. One thing that really interests me about this design is that it seems to rely mostly on thoughtfully applying conventional technologies--like good insulation, south-facing windows, and burning wood!--rather than alternate energy like solar power and the like.

It's part of the Bioregional Development Group's One Planet Living initiative, which seeks to develop commercially viable products that will reduce users' ecological footprints to 1 planet instead of the 3-5 planets most of us require to sustain our way of life. Enhanced quality of life plus enhanced conservation equals truly sustainable living. (via dangerousmeta)
[ 04/09/04 ]

[>] A catalogue of political cartoons by Dr Seuss. (via larkfarm)
[ 04/09/04 ]

[>] Riley Dog has new digs.
[ 04/09/04 ]

[>] Bruce Schneier responds to Nicholas Kristof's call for National ID cards:

But my primary objection isn't the totalitarian potential of national IDs, nor the likelihood that they'll create a whole immense new class of social and economic dislocations. Nor is it the opportunities they will create for colossal boondoggles by government contractors. My objection to the national ID card, at least for the purposes of this essay, is much simpler:
It won't work. It won't make us more secure. In fact, everything I've learned about security over the last 20 years tells me that once it is put in place, a national ID card program will actually make us less secure.

Is anyone reading this well-connected in the Kerry campaign? Because Bruce Scheier needs to head up our next Department of Homeland Security.
[ 04/13/04 ]

[>] Rogers Cadenhead points to a new TTY scam, using these services to make some 25,000 fraudulent calls a day:

It was easy to know which calls were the fraudulent ones, Bishop and Philips said, because the callers would immediately request 10 or 20 pieces of high-priced merchandise, such as laptop computers, without asking the price. Other indicators:

I love this quote:

"They wanted computers based on price and didn't know what they were ordering," Meyer said. "They actually got kind of mean and started asking the operator to yell, 'Sell me the computer now!'"

(via [ 04/13/04 ]

[>] Kerry's New Misery Index.

Note: Kerry's advisers say presidents should be judged by the change in the index, not its absolute level. Under Clinton the index did improve significantly: it was 10.5 the year before he took office and nearly 30% lower in his final year. It worsened under Bush but currently has settled down to the same level as it was in Clinton's last year. Unemployment is worse but inflation is lower by the same amount.

I think that points up a shortcoming in the classic Misery Index: it matters very little that inflation is down when you don't have a paycheck to spend.

But, you know, it is fundamentally unfair to blame any President for the economy. We can certainly make judgements about the ways in which an administration's policies affect the economy, and we can judge a President's reaction to economic conditions. Is he taking action to bolster small business? To help the unemployed? To maximize the effects of Good Times so that they affect the greatest number of people?

But there are too many factors beyond any institution's control to honestly place blame with any Administration for causing economic conditions--though I believe US policy can exacerbate existing conditions, or tilt the advantage to one segment of the economy or another. Clinton was lucky; Carter was unlucky. Bush has, in my view, taken a poor hand (the Tech Bubble burst) and pretty much ignored it. His promise to lower taxes started as a way to return the budget surplus to the people and then became a way to stimulate the economy. He has been interested in pursuing predetermined policies regardless of the affect they will have on economic and social and international conditions.

Anyway, read about the Kerry Misery Index and make your own judgement. In my view, of the three major factors Kerry has chosen to highlight--gasoline, health-insurance premiums, and college tuition--gasoline prices are completely out of Presidential control, health-insurance woudl require a major overhaul to the system, and college tuition could be ameliorated with grants and other funding, but that funding would only go so far.

And, as per usual with any politician, the data appears to have been cherry-picked to create the worse possible scenario. You know, if you're trying to run against a guy on his complete lack of credibility, you'd think it would make some sense to be scrupulously credible in your own campaign, wouldn't you?
[ 04/13/04 ]

[>] Rick Heller has created a petition asking President Bush to decline his party's nomination. If I have any Republican readers, I expect you are the exact demographic for this petition.
[ 04/13/04 ]

[>] There goes another progressive capitalist. The best quote from Mr Rowse appears in this account: "The only thing we can do is do the right thing. What other people do is out of my control."
[ 04/14/04 ]

[>] Forget religion: it's about the music.

What [religious] congregations are most engaged in, [sociologist Mark] Chaves reveals, are cultural activities. That includes education and the many components of worship, of course, but also the generally less-remarked-upon activities of producing and consuming art and culture, particularly musical and theatrical performances, outside of worship. Chaves's most arresting finding--that congregations "account for a substantial share of all live arts occurring in American society"-- may actually understate this cultural role through its focus on performing arts. [...]
But no art, live or otherwise, has been more central to the quality of the national religious experience than music. "You can't understand America without understanding religion," says David Stowe, author of How Sweet the Sound: Music in the Spiritual Lives of Americans. "And you can't understand American religion without understanding its music."

[ 04/14/04 ]

[>] New research indicates that lung cancer is a different disease in women. (The JAMA Abstract is brief and understandable.) It's never too late to quit smoking.

And for men, good news/bad news: very frequent sex may reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
[ 04/14/04 ]

[>] Family code word saves girl.

The man, according to the Salt Lake County Sheriff's department, told Shelby that her mom had been in a car accident and that he was sent to pick her up. But Shelby didn't buckle under the pressure.
Shelby said...that when she refused his offer of candy, the man said her mom had been in an accident. When she asked him the code word, he didn't answer, "so I said 'no' and I ran," she said.

Do you have children? Decide on a code word today.
[ 04/14/04 ]

[>] Nice.
[ 04/14/04 ]

[>] Bush has set back sustainable growth.

Writing in Guardian Society [Blair aide] Mr Porritt, who is the chairman of the Sustainable Development Commission, says it is hard to exaggerate the damage done to the planet by Mr Bush's drive for a "new world order".
On a whole series of issues including climate change, international aid, family planning, nuclear proliferation, trade and corporate responsibility, "staying true to a discredited model of extreme economic liberalism has set the world back a decade or more", says Mr Porritt.

[ 04/14/04 ]

[>] Trilobytes, the original snack food. Betcha can't eat just one!
[ 04/14/04 ]

[>] I have little say about last night's Presidential press conference, except that I think it will change few minds in either direction. For me, it was excruciating to watch. He was so clearly in over his head in the question and answer period that I actually felt sorry for him. Then I was astonished at the initial press analysis which described the President as somber and reflective. I was surprised that no one--press or bloggers--noted that the President read his response to the Vietnam question.

The Guardian has cherry-picked some US press analysis that is critical of last night's performance, but even this doesn't come out and say how uncomfortable, unfocused, and almost incoherent the President was in last night's Q&A. Never mind that he just didn't answer most of the questions that were posed.

As a side note, I can't tell you how upsetting it is to me that, upon finding the White House transcript of last night's speech, I instantly began searching for an independently produced version. The Bush Administration has such a history of prevarication--and of removing inconvenient information from official documents--that I no longer trust even their transcripts to reflect the unedited truth.
[ 04/14/04 ]

[>] A little weekend reading and listening: Martin Sieff, Chief Political Correspondent for United Press International in Washington--was ahead of me on an Australian radio show yesterday. He claims that Ahmed Chalabi--the guy who told the Bush administration what they wanted to hear in the run-up to the Iraq War--is aiming now to be appointed to run Iraq.

A small event on Sunday, April 4, the very day after the move against al-Sadr prompted the revolt, provides the missing piece to the puzzle. For that was when the CPA announced the name of Iraq's putative new defense minister for the post-June 30 government. His name is Ali Allawi and he is a loyal, close associate of Ahmed Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress. More, he is Chalabi's nephew.

I'm interested to note that Chalabi 'remains on the Pentagon's payroll -- $340,000 a month.' A month. You really have to read the whole thing.

And then listen to this. I don't really have the background to evaluate either Sieff or these claims, but he says he believes Chalabi encouraged the US to move against Al Sadah in order to eliminate a rival.

And I'm not sure when to date this Iraq News profile, but it notes that 'Dr. Ahmad Chalabi has little support from leaders of the various Iraqi exile groups, or from Iraqis living in Iraq. The Arab governments in the Persian Gulf region have told the administration that they would not allow Chalabi to run a liberation army from their soil, even in an operation mounted with U.S. help.'
[ 04/16/04 ]

[>] Bruce Scheier has written another informative and provacative column in which he asks, What is it Worth to Rig an Election? The answer: it's quite affordable. Go read it.
[ 04/16/04 ]

[>] My latest essay, A Few Thoughts on Journalism and What Can Weblogs Do About It, is the result of an intensely interesting conversation I've had with Jay Rosen over the last few days as he prepares for this weekend's BloggerCon session on weblogs and journalism. His session-framing essay, Journalism and Weblogging in Their Corrected Fullness is a terrific counterpoint to mine. That I was inspired to write on a subject I had sworn off for the year is a tribute to Jay's insight and all-around braininess.
[ 04/16/04 ]

[>] Here's a timely illustration of the crucial importance of the press: U.S. Reporters Unable to Probe Killings in Fallujah.

Normally, when charges of high civilian casualties in war emerge -- as they have this week in Iraq -- independent reporters attempt to arrive on the scene for a full assessment. But with kidnappings and other threats to the security of journalists rising in Iraq, those kinds of eyewitness probes, at least from Western reporters, may be few and far between.
This has already had dire consequences, with the truth in hot dispute, as the U.S. military denies wrongdoing in the siege of Fallujah while Arab television and other press accounts document an estimated 600 dead in that city and 1,200 wounded, many of them women and children.

The press are our trusted proxies in situations like this. We are blind without them.
[ 04/16/04 ]

[>] Fashion News: Archaologists have found what they describe as the world's earliest jewelry.
[ 04/16/04 ]

[>] My friends call me Cassandra: Thanks to Mssrs. Bush and Sharon, Osama gets his wish. Meanwhile, Al Sadr shows who holds the real power in Iraq.

cf Jesus or Kevin for notes on the inevitable results of violence, and that goes for all sides.
[ 04/19/04 ]

[>] CSM: Four moments when 9.11 could have been stopped.
[ 04/19/04 ]

[>] I never link to articles about weblogs because I imagine my readers are more interested in just about anything else. But I must link to this piece from the Register, The Future of Weblogging. Aside from getting points for using the full form of the word, this is possibly the smartest thing I've ever read--by anyone--on the subject. It is informed by an understanding of history and the form itself, something that even bloggers who write on the subject often lack. This is a smart summary of the future of online publishing that goes far beyond the usual weblog triumphalism/skepticism. Very highly recommended.

[ed. note: I classify articles written by me about weblogs, as 'articles written by me', not 'articles about weblogs'. And I include myself in the 'by anyone' clause.] (via infothought)
[ 04/20/04 ]

[>] Delightful.
[ 04/20/04 ]

[>] This the the America I love so much. These are the people--the living and dead--that I honor with all my heart for their courage and their dignity and their steadfast sense of duty. And as opposed as I was to the invasion of Iraq, and as heartsick as I am over the complete and utter fiasco this Administration has created in that country, I am proud to be one of these people.
US News and World Report: Return of the Fallen. [slithy popup!]

[ 04/22/04 ]

[>] As a bit of an update to the photo essay I linked yesterday, here is The Memory Hole's collection of photos of coffins returning from Iraq. (If that link doesn't work, try this mirror.) We do not honor our dead by denying their existence. We honor them by acknowledging the enormous sacrifice every one of them has made.
[ 04/23/04 ]

[>] Wow. The e-book is here. (via dangerousmeta)
[ 04/23/04 ]

[>] BBC: A history of conflict: Israel and Palestine (thanks, matt!)
[ 04/23/04 ]

[>] A little weekend reading: US News and World Report recently put together a fascinating series on Attention Deficit Disorder starting with this lengthy exposition called Driven To Distraction, accompanied by two shorter, more speculative views. Enjoy. [slithy popup with each article!]

The advertisement asks, "Are you disorganized? Do you procrastinate, fidget, lose things?" Strattera is the first nonstimulant drug for ADD and the only drug that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for adults with the disorder. Sales of the drug topped $370 million last year. Still, as Thomas Spencer, assistant director of the Pediatric Psychopharmacology Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital, says, "When I give a talk about it and describe the disorder, I say, `Now you all think that you have it.' The biggest controversy is that so many features of ADHD seem so common a variant of normal. But in fact, people who have the full-fledged disorder have many of the symptoms all the time."

[ 04/23/04 ]

[>] The temperamental mind.

Whether this newly minted mental illness [adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder] adds up to an unhinged emotional life for millions of American grown-ups is still not clear, but it is sure to provide fodder for ADHD pundits over the next few years. For ADHD, whether it's in the young or their parents and grandparents, seems ever wrapped in restless controversy. The tiff boils down to what some experts see as the medicalization and drug doping of behaviors that fall mostly within the bounds of normal temperamental variation. They chafe at labeling as pathological qualities that may be merely irritating. Indeed, some think these same traits may be linked to great imagination, inventiveness, high energy, humor, and resilience.

[ 04/23/04 ]

[>] Can The Distracted Brain Be Rewired?.

The Dore program, which now has five centers in the United States, began in England and has been used by 14,000 people. It's based on the theory that people with ADD have underdeveloped cerebellums, the part of the brain that sits on the brainstem. Clients are given customized exercises designed to stimulate the cerebellum and, through repetition, create new nerve pathways that will allow information to be transmitted more efficiently. "We're finding the symptoms are either resolved completely or dramatically improved," says Linda Williams, a physician and the U.S. medical director for Dore.

[ 04/23/04 ]

[>] A book review just doesn't get any better than this one: Rebecca Blood is actually right about everything. I've been waiting my whole life for someone to tell me that.
[ 04/23/04 ]

[>] I don't usually note the anniversary of this site, but this one seems worth mentioning: today Rebecca's Pocket is 5 years old. I must say, I never dreamed of the doors this little weblog would open for me.
[ 04/27/04 ]

[>] How the Death of Judy's Father Made America More Secretive. [slithy popup!]

In a box delivered by rolling handcart on the morning of Feb. 26, 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court received 40 copies of a petition so unusual a clerk decided he couldn't accept it for filing. First, though, he turned through its pages.
In a preliminary statement, he read these words: Three widows stood before this court in 1952. Their husbands had died in the crash of an Air Force plane. The lower courts had awarded them compensation. But the United States was bent on overturning their judgments, and--to accomplish this--it committed a fraud not only upon the widows but upon this Court. [...]
The clerk didn't need to puzzle over which long-ago case the petition addressed. Although U.S. vs. Reynolds wasn't familiar to the public, law students everywhere knew it to be the landmark 1953 ruling that formally established the government's "state secrets" privilege--a privilege that has enabled federal agencies to conceal conduct, withhold documents and block troublesome civil litigation, including suits by whistle-blowers and possible victims of discrimination.

[ 04/27/04 ]

[>] The Truth about Evangelicals. [slithy popup!]

Yet a new poll by U.S. News and PBS's Religion & Ethics Newsweekly reveals that evangelicals--their distinctive faith aside--are acting more and more like the rest of us. They are both influencing and being influenced by the society around them. While they harbor deep concerns about the moral health of the nation, they are more tolerant than they're often given credit for, pay far more attention to family matters than to politics, and worry about jobs and the economy just about as much as everyone else. And while it comes as no surprise that white evangelicals are overwhelmingly Republican and back President Bush by a wide margin, nearly a quarter say they might vote for Democrat John Kerry. (The small portion of African-American evangelicals mostly support Kerry, but their views often diverge strongly from the white majority.) "This is a group that is integrated into the mainstream," says Anna Greenberg, vice president of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, which conducted the survey in late March. "Evangelicals are just not that much different from the rest of America."

[ 04/27/04 ]

[>] Jimmy Carter, America's first Evangelical Christian president, contemplates the current administration and the role of religion in US government and culture.

When I was younger, almost all Baptists were strongly committed on a theological basis to the separation of church and state. It was only 25 years ago when there began to be a melding of the Republican Party with fundamentalist Christianity, particularly with the Southern Baptist Convention. This is a fairly new development, and I think it was brought about by the abandonment of some of the basic principles of Christianity.
First of all, we worship the prince of peace, not war. And those of us who have advocated for the resolution of international conflict in a peaceful fashion are looked upon as being unpatriotic, branded that way by right-wing religious groups, the Bush administration, and other Republicans.
Secondly, Christ was committed to compassion for the most destitute, poor, needy, and forgotten people in our society. Today there is a stark difference [between conservative ideology and Christian teaching] because most of the people most strongly committed to the Republican philosophy have adopted the proposition that help for the rich is the best way to help even poor people (by letting some of the financial benefits drip down to those most deeply in need). I would say there has been a schism drawn--on theology and practical politics and economics between the two groups.

[ 04/27/04 ]

[>] Dr Gelwan is skeptical about the US News and World Report package on ADD that I linked last week. He's a doctor; I only played one on TV. I don't what the reporters' qualifications are.
[ 04/27/04 ]

[>] Ted Koppel will devote Friday night's 'Nightline' to reading names and showing photographs of the more than 500 U.S. servicemen and women killed in action in Iraq since March 19, 2003. Poynter Online has an interview with the Executive Producer of the show.

Q: What production techniques will you use, knowing that any use of music, slow dissolves, and the tone of Ted's voice will all be key to how people interpret this work? Will the program be pre-produced or live?
Sievers: The program has to be pre-produced, there is no way to read more than 500 names live and match the pictures, we don't want to make any mistakes. There will be no music. We will be showing two pictures at one time on the screen, and they will change one at a time. I don't know how people will interpret this, I don't know if people will watch the whole broadcast or just a few seconds. But I hope they take some time to reflect on the price that these men and women have paid in our names.

I wouldn't last three minutes into this show.
[ 04/29/04 ]

[>] Teen Bibles! [slithy popup!]

Teenagers "see or hear over 3,000 advertisements a day," explains Paul Caminiti, Zondervan's Bible publisher. "If you tell them to buy something, they're resistant. If you tell them they'll be a dork if they don't, you've got their attention."
Inside Revolution, Zondervan's Bible for teen guys, "heavenly_father" sends instant messages to "my_son." True Images, the girls' bright-purple version, includes a 10-question quiz that promises to reveal whether the reader is a "diva, doormat, or dream date."

[ 04/29/04 ]

[>] According to the National Council for Research on Women, the Bush Administration has been altering and deleting 'information on a range of women's issues from government Web sites, apparently in pursuit of a political agenda'.

A council report said the missing information fell into four categories: women's health; their economic status; objective scientific data; and information aimed at protecting women and girls and helping them advance. The deletions and alterations appear to hew to a political agenda, rather than providing the nonpartisan, unbiased data that has been the tradition of U.S. government reports, the council said.

Not that suppressing or deleting politically incorrect material or using traditionally non-partisan material as political propaganda is anything new for these boys.

I keep thinking about the historians. This administration will be the motherlode of discovery and analysis for decades to come. If I were a young person, I would decide right now to study Political Science and History and to specialize in the George W. Bush White House, simply for the sheer quantity and variety of material they will offer. In fact, I might do it anyway.
[ 04/29/04 ]

[>] This is what happens when you dehumanize any other group [ed note: shocking pictures]. Let me put that another way: Dehumanizing any group of people is, in itself, dehumanizing.

We are not a warrior culture. So how can we go to war without dehumanizing the enemy? Ah, that's the rub.
[ 04/30/04 ]

[>] A Little Weekend Reading: Ten years ago, New York journalist Earl Shorris developed the Clemente Course in the Humanities, designed to use the classical liberal arts education to bring equity to the economically disadvantaged. The course is now being taught in about 2 dozen communities, but Holyoke, Massachusetts is the only one with a program geared exclusively to women.

Shorris outlined basic requirements: Classes would be free and would run for seven months. They would feature rigorous reading and writing, with instructors from prestigious institutions. To qualify, students would need to have household incomes of less than 150% of the U.S. Census Bureau's official poverty threshold. The minimum educational requirement was the ability to read a tabloid newspaper. The only goal Shorris demanded was "an expression of intent to complete the course."
His hope was to enrich the lives and expand the opportunities of the students--and to strengthen families and communities by encouraging the participants to engage more actively in civic life.

Here is an interview with Earl Shorris about the program, and the Clemente Course Manual.

Finally, set aside half an hour to read Shorris' entertaining and very inspiring article on the genesis of the program, which was inspired by a conversation he had with a prisoner he was interviewing for a book on poverty. On the Uses of a Liberal Education: As a weapon in the hands of the restless poor is entertaining, enlightening, and very inspiring.

By the time I got to Bedford Hills, I had listened to more than six hundred people, some of them over the course of two or three years. Although my method is that of the bricoleur, the tinkerer who assembles a thesis of the bric-a-brac he finds in the world, I did not think there would be any more surprises. But I had not counted on what Viniece Walker was to say. [...]
It was she who responded to my sudden question, "Why do you think people are poor?" [...]
"You got to begin with the children," she said, speaking rapidly, clipping out the street sounds as they came into her speech.
She paused long enough to let the change of direction take effect, then resumed the rapid, rhythmless speech. "You've got to teach the moral life of downtown to the children. And the way you do that, Earl, is by taking them downtown to plays, museums, concerts, lectures, where they can learn the moral life of downtown."
I smiled at her, misunderstanding, thinking I was indulging her. "And then they won't be poor anymore?"
She read every nuance of my response, and answered angrily, "And they won't be poor no more."
"What you mean is--"
"What I mean is what I said--a moral alternative to the street."

[ 04/30/04 ]


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