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rebecca's pocket


.: 2004 --> june

june

@ The Economist: The Big Mac Index. Investing with your tummy.

The Big Mac PPP is the exchange rate that would leave a burger in any country costing the same as in America. The first column of our table converts the local price of a Big Mac into dollars at current exchange rates. The average price of a Big Mac in four American cities is $2.90 (including tax). The cheapest shown in the table is in the Philippines ($1.23), the most expensive in Switzerland ($4.90). In other words, the Philippine peso is the world's most undervalued currency, the Swiss franc its most overvalued.
The second column calculates Big Mac PPPs by dividing the local currency price by the American price. For instance, in Japan a Big Mac costs 262. Dividing this by the American price of $2.90 produces a dollar PPP against the yen of 90, compared with its current rate of 113, suggesting that the yen is 20% undervalued. In contrast, the euro (based on a weighted average of Big Mac prices in the euro area) is 13% overvalued. But perhaps the most interesting finding is that all emerging-market currencies are undervalued against the dollar. The Chinese yuan, on which much ink has been spilled in recent months, looks 57% too cheap.

[ 06/01/04 ]

@ There goes another progressive capitalist.

It's a man-bites-dog story. In a world awash in stories about abusive mutual funds, a fund company is doing the right thing by its shareholders by cutting some fees. Voluntarily. Without being sued (or even threatened) by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer or the SEC or anyone. [...]
"Managing money may not be the highest calling, but we don't have to make it the lowest calling," says Chris Davis of Davis Advisors, which runs the funds.

[ 06/01/04 ]

@ What business are you in? At the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Spring Bank, the monks call their business of supplying discounted printing and imaging products, 'a modern adaptation of what we've done for hundreds of years'.
[ 06/01/04 ]

@ Wendy has a hilarious blow-by-blow account of the recent FOX News piece on weblogs. (via kiplog)
[ 06/01/04 ]



@ I expect you've seen this already: of the food consumed by the US population, nearly 1/3 is junk food, sugary drinks and beer.

"We knew it was bad, but we didn't know it was this bad," said Gladys Block, a professor of epidemiology and public health nutrition at the University of California-Berkeley. "It's no wonder there's an obesity epidemic in this country."

[ 06/04/04 ]

@ For a more nuanced look at US obesity, The Way We Eat Now is a terrific article that catalogues the many factors - lack of activity, a 'toxic environment', portion sizes, and ubiquitous corn syrup among others - that have led to our current state. It's a fascinating study that goes back through the history and physiology of eating--do you know the role fire plays in increased calorie consumption?--to help explain why we eat the way we do.
[ 06/04/04 ]

@ Pickles or Pizza? Liz Cox Barrett asks, Is this a great country, or what?
[ 06/04/04 ]

@ A Little Weekend Poking Around: The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a value-neutral compendium of human problems and responses. The 1991 edition book description reads:

...this latest edition is expanded and updated to address some 13,000 issues of world concern, for the benefit (and, hopefully, betterment) of those in government, academia, business, and research. In addition to addressing matters of world concern (e.g. world order, armaments, aggression), the Encyclopedia offers information on a wide range of less-publicized problems, including juvenile stress, disadvantaged groups, and landlessness in developing countries. Problems addressed in relationship to the individual include mental health, social isolation of the elderly, loss of civility, and maternal deprivation. Includes some 114,000 cross-references, a 91,000 keyword index, bibliographies, and cross-referencing to UIA/Saur's three-volume Yearbook of international associations.

Now it's partially available online.

In the past, much effort has gone into the focus on seemingly isolated world problems, such as unemployment, boredom, endangered species, desertification or corruption. Work on the newly published Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential has now shifted its focus to the hunt for complex networks and even vicious cycles of problems. A cycle is a chain of problems, with each aggravating the next -- with the last looping back to aggravate the first in the chain. The more obvious loops may be composed of only 3 or 4 problems. Far less obvious are those composed of 7 or more.
An example of a vicious cycle is: Alienation -> Youth gangs -> Neighbourhood control by criminals -> Psychological stress of urban environment -> Substance abuse -> Family breakdown -> Alienation. Such cycles are vicious because they are self-sustaining. [...]
The good news is that identifying vicious cycles is a first step towards designing cycles of strategies to reverse or break them. Better still some problems are linked by serendipitous cycles in which each problem alleviates the next -- and, even better, some strategies function in serendipitous cycles to reinforce each other and break vicious problem cycles. Detecting them is a future focus of the Encyclopedia project.

The site is a little hard to use. A guest registration will allow you to browse their free databases (World Problems, Global Strategies, Human Development, Human Values, Issues Bibliography, Integrative Concepts, Patterns and Metaphors). Unfortunately, you have to click the links you're interested in to find out whether or not it is freely available. You'll want to start browsing with the subject index:

0. GEOSPHERE: Fundamental Sciences | Astronomy | Earth | Meteorology | Climatology | Oceanography | Hydrology | Geophysics | Geology | Resources

1. BIOSPHERE: Life | Biosciences | Plant Life | Zoology | Invertebrates | Fish, Reptiles | Birds, Mammals | Mankind | Medicine | Geography

2. SOCIAL ACTION (structure): Action | Society | Social Activity | Information | Amenities | Transportation, Telecommunications | Communication | Commerce | Industry | Societal Problems

3. SOCIAL ACTION (context): Research, Standards | Health Care | Education | Recreation | Defence | Religious Practice | Government | Agriculture, Fisheries | Law

4. CONCEPT FORMATION (structure): Sociology | Management | Informatics, Classification | Ekistics | Cybernetics | Psychology | Economics | Technology | Environment

5. CONCEPT FORMATION (context): Noosphere | Science | Experiential Activity | History | Culture | Strategy | Theology | Metapolitics | Agrosciences | International Relations

6. INNOVATIVE CHANGE (structure): Development | Policy-making | Language | Design | Interdisciplinarity | Individuation | Value Redistribution | Invention | Conservation

7. INNOVATIVE CHANGE (context, strategies): Innovative Change | Logics | Emotional fulfilment | Philosophy | Aesthetics | Security | Morals, Ethics | Community | Coevolution | Peace, Justice

8. EXPERIENTIAL (values): Principles | Purpose | Solidarity, Cooperation | Idealism | Harmony | Integration | Meaning | Sharing | Resourcefulness, Inventiveness | Equanimity

9. EXPERIENTIAL (modes of awareness): Awareness | Leadership, Authenticity | Love, Compassion | Comprehension | Creative expression | Vigilance, Courage | Transcendence, Detachment | Freedom, Liberation | Perseverance | Oneness, Universality

Under the main sections are lists of topics and organizations, problems, and solutions [O | P | S] for each. It's fascinating. Go get yourself a nice hot cup of coffee and start poking around.
[ 06/04/04 ]



@ How Info-overloaded Experts Unwind.

"The feeling of less time in our lives is extremely real," said [Author Bill] McKibben, a former staff writer for The New Yorker magazine who gave the opening address at the convention. "There's a constant, endless flow of information. "But one is allowed not to bathe in this all the time," he added.

As I keep saying, managing information--creating space--is going to be one of the great challenges of the coming age.
[ 06/08/04 ]

@ In some areas of the country, high gas prices are curtailing the delivery of meals on wheels. This might be a good time to call your local chapter with a donation or even an offer to volunteer.
[ 06/08/04 ]

@ Handy.
[ 06/08/04 ]

@ Reagan's Liberal Legacy [slithy popup!]

A sober review of Reagan's presidency doesn't yield the seamlessly conservative record being peddled today. Federal government expanded on his watch. The conservative desire to outlaw abortion was never seriously pursued. Reagan broke with the hardliners in his administration and compromised with the Soviets on arms control. His assault on entitlements never materialized; instead he saved Social Security in 1983. And he repeatedly ignored the fundamental conservative dogma that taxes should never be raised.
All of this has been airbrushed from the new literature of Reagan. But as any balanced account must make clear, Reagan acceded to political compromises as all presidents do once in office--and on many occasions did so willingly. In fact, however often unintentionally, many of his actions as president wound up facilitating liberal objectives. What this clamor of adulation is seeking to deny is that beyond his conservative legacy, Ronald Reagan has bequeathed a liberal one.

(via political animal)
[ 06/08/04 ]

@ Want to learn something? The NOAA Paleoclimatology Branch has an interesting website including an introduction to their work:

Paleoclimatology is the study of climate prior to the widespread availability of records of temperature, precipitation and other instrumental data. NOAA is particularly interested in the last few thousand years because this is the best dated, best sampled part of the past climatic record and can help us establish the range of natural climatic variability in a period prior to global-scale human influence.

Their site looks fascinating, with sections on Drought, Abrupt Climate Change, Global Warming, and a Climate Timeline (here's the overview). (via WorldChanging)
[ 06/08/04 ]

@ Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research: Temperatures from 1861-2003, showing departures in temperature from the 1961-1990 average. [big, slow-loading file] (via earth-info.net)
[ 06/08/04 ]

@ For Web designers: a pantone to rgb to hex color chart. (via Kiplog, who suggests you copy it locally for reference in case it goes away.)
[ 06/08/04 ]



@ The Washington Post has finally drawn a line in the sand with its unequivocally moral stance on the recently revealed White House memos [pdf] that seek to 'redefine' torture.

There is no justification, legal or moral, for the judgments made by Mr. Bush's political appointees at the Justice and Defense departments. Theirs is the logic of criminal regimes, of dictatorships around the world that sanction torture on grounds of "national security." [...]
Perhaps the president's lawyers have no interest in the global impact of their policies - - but they should be concerned about the treatment of American servicemen and civilians in foreign countries. Before the Bush administration took office, the Army's interrogation procedures -- which were unclassified -- established this simple and sensible test: No technique should be used that, if used by an enemy on an American, would be regarded as a violation of U.S. or international law. Now, imagine that a hostile government were to force an American to take drugs or endure severe mental stress that fell just short of producing irreversible damage; or pain a little milder than that of "organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death."

(via valuejudgment.org)
[ 06/09/04 ]



@ With the number of the uninsured growing and the chances of a federal solution officially standing at slim and none, states have begun to explore their own options for reformed health care and health insurance.

But in an election year, neither candidate is talking radical reform or pushing to put the system on a whole new track. So the momentum on reform has switched to the states. Their solutions could prove significant, observers say. They could help swing the national debate by showing what can be done - programmatically and politically.
...says Barbara Roop, cochair of the Committee for Healthcare for Massachusetts and author of the wording of the amendment. "The 600,000 [uninsured] in Massachusetts, and the hundreds of thousands more who are threatened by losing their insurance ... can't wait for a federal solution."

[ 06/10/04 ]

@ In 1431, the great city of Angkor (at 750,000 people, the largest preindustrial city) fell at the end of its long war with Siam. But new evidence suggest that it wasn't the war that killed them--it was ecological failure leading to the breakdown of their infrastructure.

Experts say Angkor's demise is important to study because it can provide lessons for dealing with modern urban problems. Damian Evans, an archaeologist working on the project, said Angkor's canals were the equivalent of today's freeways and our telephone lines are a form of communication that can be equated with the old elephant paths.
"It's the same kinds of problems manifesting themselves in different ways," he said.

[ 06/10/04 ]

@ FAIR: Reagan: Media Myth and Reality.

Reagan's influence over world politics and the direction of the Republican Party were important aspects of the media's Reagan tributes. But more often than not, the more controversial aspects of Reagan's legacy were either downplayed or recast as footnotes. [...]
Reagan's fervent support for right-wing governments in Central America was one of the defining foreign policies of his administration, and the fact that death squads associated with those governments murdered tens of thousands of civilians surely must be included in any reckoning of Reagan's successes and failures.
But a search of major U.S. newspapers in the Nexis news database turns up the phrase "death squad" only five times in connection with Reagan in the days following his death....

I thought the Boston Globe had a pretty level-headed summary of the Reagan presidency. [slithy popup!]
[ 06/10/04 ]

@ A straightforward guide to A Guide to Critical Thinking About What You See on the Web. Tip #6 is an important consideration that many people seem to miss.
[ 06/10/04 ]

@ This Picture Perfect Ledge looks like it comes straight off Gothic Martha Stewart.
[ 06/10/04 ]

@ Red Letter Day: Terra Firma Farms just delivered us the first corn of the season.
[ 06/10/04 ]

@ A CEO's review of the Weblog Handbook: sharp, crisp, humble, efficient. Get it.
[ 06/10/04 ]



@ Claire points me to Nabuur, an online forum designed to give communities in developing countries 'access to resources available elsewhere. Resources like information, expertise, existing solutions, creativity.' After joining the site (which is free) you can become a virtual neighbor to one of 11 villages and use your expertise, connections, and ideas to help educate girls in Cairo, build latrines in Padampur, Nepal, construct wells in Chaparri, Peru, care for AIDs orphans Kwandengezi, South Africa and much more. Making the world a better place is a computer screen away.
[ 06/11/04 ]

@ Ooh, this looks interesting: In Praise of Slowness : How A Worldwide Movement Is Challenging the Cult of Speed.
[ 06/11/04 ]

@ Whatever happened to Gopher? Apparently, it's alive and kicking.
[ 06/11/04 ]

@ Cornell has produced an online exhibit of Historical Games!

The Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections investigates the evolution of games since 1800 through PASTIMES AND PRADIGMS : GAMES WE PLAY. The exhibition includes a wide variety of antique and contemporary games, as well as rare books on rules, strategies, and recreation. Featured items include early nineteenth-century geographical board games; a Civil War game; suffrage games that garnered support in the battle for women's votes; a vintage Monopoly game (the subject of Cornell President Jeffrey Lehman's first book); gambling punchboards; and a selection of games inspired by television programming. Although they differ in design and presentation, they share a single message: the game is the medium.

[ 06/11/04 ]

@ Welcome Time magazine readers! Please visit my about page if you want to know more about me, otherwise, the good stuff is just below.
[ 06/14/04 ]

@ Protecting Iraq's past

Believing that the richness of daily life as well the strength of political structures contributes to stability, three Massachusetts colleges are helping to rebuild Iraqi libraries and other cultural resources. "It's a little bit of good news in a sea of horrible news," says Michele Cloonan, dean of the Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science.
With librarians from Harvard and other institutions, Cloonan is part of a team developing a training program that will be offered in Jordan for Iraqi librarians. It's an attempt to make up for what has been lost in the current war and during 20 years of neglect.

[ 06/14/04 ]

@ Boys Who Crochet

These are not kids who are at-risk because they stayed out too late a few times. They are boys who have suffered abuse in their families so intense it drew the attention of the Child Protection Agency. Many are former drug addicts. These are kids filled with unmanageable anger and anxiety. After their families failed them, after foster care failed them, after being referred by a court order or a service agency, the Northwest Children's Home welcomed them.
Needlework for anyone is strong medicine, but for these young men, it rescues and rebuilds their very core.

(via Theory of the Daily)
[ 06/14/04 ]

@ Embracing Ecological Forestry

A 'radical middle' is emerging as a new third way that can enable us to utilize forest resources while protecting nature's integrity and health

[ 06/14/04 ]



@ Gartner reports that with the rise of online banking, over nearly 2 million Americans have had their bank accounts robbed. Read the whole article for a rundown of the methods used by online criminals, and the steps to take in case this happens to you.

One important bit of advice: when you receive an email claiming to be from Ebay or a financial institution, asking you to click a link in order to verify your account information, don't do it! Financial institutions will never send this request via email: the links in those emails are disguised to look legitimate, but they are just designed to harvest your account information. Discard that email, and log into your account from scratch if you want to verify your information.
[ 06/15/04 ]

@ Regular readers already know how much I admire Bruce Schneier for his smart, understandable, and eminently practical approach to security. Now he has written a primer explaining Chilabi, Iranian Codes, and the NSA. Like everything Bruce writes, it clearly breaks down the facts and issues, and then engages in some fascinating speculation about what might really be going on.

If you're interested in--or, after the last two items, concerned--about security, you may be interested in reading Bruce's newsletter in its entirety. And allow me to recommend Bruce's book Beyond Fear for a clear, sensible explanation of security in general. It's a good read, and it really does teach you to understand and think about security effectively and wisely.
[ 06/15/04 ]

@ A mathemetician proves the existence of God. But doesn't a proof of God--reportedly operating outside the laws of our universe--disprove God's divinity? (via leuschke)
[ 06/15/04 ]

@ Robert H. Thouless: Thirty-eight dishonest tricks which are commonly used in argument, with the methods of overcoming them.

(4) Extension of an opponent's proposition by contradiction or by misrepresentation of it--Dealt with by stating again the more moderate position which is being defended.
(6) Diversion to another question, to a side issue, or by irrelevant objection--Dealt with by refusing to be diverted from the original question, but stating again the real question at issue.
(18) The use of a dilemma which ignores a continuous series of possibilities between the two extremes presented--Dealt with by refusing to accept either alternative, but pointing to the fact of the continuity which the person using the argument has ignored. Since this is likely to appear over-subtle to an opponent using the argument, it may be strengthened by pointing out that the argument is the same as saying, "Is this paper black or white?" when it is, in fact, a shade of grey.

[ 06/15/04 ]



@ If you find yourself taking pain relievers every day, you may be suffering from rebound headaches. Also: If you're going to have surgery, insist on a brain monotor.
[ 06/16/04 ]

@ CSM: The Do-It-Yourself Ethical Investor.
[ 06/16/04 ]

@ On Orwell [slithy popup!]

Honesty was important to Orwell. He was certainly quick enough to accuse people he disagreed with of dishonesty. But there is sometimes a confusion, when people talk about Orwell's writing, between honesty and objectivity. "He said what he believed" and "He told it like it was" refer to different virtues. One of the effects of the tone Orwell achieved - the tone of a reasonable, modest, supremely undogmatic man, hoping for the best but resigned to the worst - was the impression of transparency, something that Orwell himself, in an essay called "Why I Write," identified as the ideal of good prose. It was therefore a shock when Bernard Crick, in the first major biography of Orwell, authorized by Sonia Orwell and published the year of her death, confessed that he had found it difficult to corroborate some of the incidents in Orwell's autobiographical writings. Jeffrey Meyers, whose biography "Orwell: Wintry Conscience of a Generation" came out in 2000, concluded that Orwell sometimes "heightened reality to achieve dramatic effects."
The point is not that Orwell made things up. The point is that he used writing in a literary, not a documentary, way: he wrote in order to make you see what he wanted you to see, to persuade. During the war, Orwell began contributing a "London Letter" to Partisan Review. In one letter, he wrote that park railings in London were being torn down for scrap metal, but that only working- class neighborhoods were being plundered; parks and squares in upper-class neighborhoods, he reported, were untouched. The story, Crick says, was widely circulated. When a friend pointed out that it was untrue, Orwell is supposed to have replied that it didn't matter, "it was essentially true."

Just a data point the next time you hear a blogger compare himself with this man.
[ 06/16/04 ]



@ Well, this explains a lot. On September 11, 2001, after air traffic controllers received communications indicating that American Airlines Flight 11 had been hijacked:

Controllers tried to contact the military, even trying to raise a military alert center in Atlantic City, N.J., unaware that facility had been phased out. The FAA finally reached the appropriate military office at 8:37 a.m.
"We have a problem here," the FAA's Boston Center told NEADS, the North East Air Defense Sector. "We have a hijacked aircraft headed towards New York, and we need you guys to, we need someone to scramble some F-16s or something up there, help us out."
"Is this real-world or exercise?" asked the incredulous NEADS officer. [...]
The third hijacked plane, American Airlines Flight 77, had left Dulles International Airport near Washington at 8:20 a.m. At 8:54 a.m., the plane deviated from its flight plan. It was tracked by an Indianapolis-based controller, then unaware of the other hijackings. When the controller couldn't raise the aircraft, it notified other agencies that it was missing and may have crashed.

I have always wondered was why the military didn't at least try to intercept the planes hijacked on 9.11, since four planes gone off course and not responding to air traffic control direction would clearly indicate some sort of a coordinated event. Once they started being crashed into buildings, shooting the rest of them down would, by my lights, be the obvious response. (For what it's worth, I have always speculated that the military did get to flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania. After reading this article, I have much less faith in our military response.)

[Update: Just to be clear, my speculation has been that, given two attempts to stop the hijackers--one by the military to overtake the hijacked airplane and shoot it down; and another by a group of unarmed passengers determined to overpower an armed and fervid contingent of fanatics, and regain control of the aircraft--Occam's Razor would indicate that the military attempt would more readily succeed. This would in no way diminish the heroic efforts of the passengers, it's a simple reflection of firepower.]

But my questions were dependent on an assumption that air traffic control had a means of communicating with one another in case of emergency, and that they had a system in place for alerting the military when the need arose. The good news, I guess, is that it's not hard to figure out how to improve this system.
[ 06/17/04 ]

@ Motley Fool: Money saving tips for families. [slithy popup!] Let me just comment that I completely disagree with the notion of paying your children to drink water instead of soda. Parents are supposed to set limits for their children, not bribe them into complying with family standards.

Related: the Motley Fool's forum for Living Below Your Means. [slithy popup!] Remember, living below your means in the only way to accumulate wealth.
[ 06/17/04 ]

@ Dr. Nancy Dixon: Common knowledge: how companies thrive by sharing what they know.

(via gilbert.org)
[ 06/17/04 ]

@ Preserving Lemons (via anitas lol)
[ 06/17/04 ]



@ CSM: The first equal opportunity recession. Has the number of working women plateaued?

"Something has profoundly shifted," says Heather Boushey, an economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington. "It's part of the simple fact that women are such an integral part of the economy now. They don't just drop out when they lose their jobs as they sometimes did in the past."

[ 06/21/04 ]

@ Perfect!

Shell Oil Co. plans to put the brakes on production at its Bakersfield refinery in July and August, potentially shorting California's fuel supplies during the summertime driving season, according to internal Shell documents.

[ 06/21/04 ]

@ Wow! Remember 'Roman Air Conditioning'? World Changing has found the Cornell University Lake Source Cooling System which has saved 80-90% over conventional heating, with minimal impact to the environement. Go read it all.
[ 06/21/04 ]

@ Oh, dumb, dumb, dumb. I need to think about the 'R' rating, though.
[ 06/21/04 ]



@ Summer Reading Lists

Now aren't you just salivating? Remember, using your public library is a wonderful way to extend your reading budget.
[ 06/22/04 ]

@ Oh, neat! The Analemma over Ancient Nemea. (thanks, lizard!)
[ 06/22/04 ]

@ Nine Rules for Good Technology.

  1. Good technology is always available.
  2. Good technology is always on.
  3. Good technology is always connected.
  4. Good technology is standardized.
  5. Good technology is simple.
  6. Good technology does not require parts.
  7. Good technology is personalized.
  8. Good technology is modular.
  9. Good technology does what you want it to do.

(via gilbert.org)
[ 06/22/04 ]

@ So I don't lose them, three recipes:

I usually don't see the point of fake meat, but last night I made a (delicious) Vegetarian Cassoulet from The Passionate Vegetarian, and it called for three types of fake meat. Not only is this expensive, it seems like it ought to be pretty simple to create an acceptable substitute at home, hence these selections.
[ 06/22/04 ]



@ There goes another progressive capitalist: Costco CEO Jim Sinegal claims that treating his employees well isn't altruistic--it's just good business.

Indeed, Costco's pay is much, much, much better -- a full-time Costco clerk or warehouse worker earns more than $41,000 a year, plus getting terrific health-care coverage. Wal-Mart workers get barely a third of that pay, plus a lousy health-care plan. Costco even has unions!
Yet, Costco's labor costs are only about half of Wal-Mart's. How's that possible? One reason is that Costco workers feel valued, which adds enormously to their productivity, and they don't leave -- employee turnover is a tiny fraction of Wal-Mart's rapidly revolving door.

[ 06/23/04 ]



@ Don't be alarmed. I'm just making a few tweaks to the design. The public's ongoing irrational hatred of courier finally got me down....
[ 06/24/04 ]

@ It looks like it's true: uninspired writers do troll weblogs for story ideas.
[ 06/24/04 ]

@ Seven Days: It's Still Good

Seven Days is a nine-month web-based trek intended to encourage and empower concerned Christians, youth and young adults in particular, to live more sustainable lives and to explore the connections between their faith and care for creation.

[ 06/24/04 ]

@ A different kind of reading list: Collected syllabi on Religion and Ecology.
[ 06/24/04 ]

@ How obnoxious is this? I am impressed with Garret's response: it is respectful, informative, and thorough. [more...]

It's anyone's guess what The Council on Water Quality hopes to accomplish with this behavior. My guess is that they just want to own blog conversations on this subject. In my opinion, using individual's comment threads to distribute press releases is just another form of spam. I wouldn't have any problem deleting it altogether. But Garret's response should probably be classified as a 'best practices' approach. When Google finds this entry, both side of the story will be represented.

[Update: Rafe points out that the The Council on Water Quality is an industry-funded organization which means it is being paid to actively try to frame the debate about perchlorate.]

But I have to say, I think business (and the media) vastly overestimate the power of weblogs to affect the national conversation. I can't blame them much: there are numerous people trying to sell them the idea that everyone else has heard of weblogs by now. In 10 years that will be true, but not yet. Weblogs have just barely begun to penetrate the mainstream.
[ 06/24/04 ]

@ The Joint Information Systems Committee is collaborating with The British Library to digitize fully searchable texts and associated images from their collection of out-of-copyright 19th century newspapers.

In the nineteenth century Britain transformed itself from an agricultural society to an unrivalled commercial, industrial and military superpower with an Empire that spanned the globe. British engineers and inventors, such as Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Robert Stephenson forged the Industrial Revolution, while social reforms, from the abolition of slavery, Catholic emancipation and the growing labour movement were to transform the lives of British people. This project will represent these and many other developments and bring them to life through newspaper accounts to provide an extraordinary resource for the further, higher education and research communities.

[ 06/24/04 ]

@ Dah-dah-dum. Thank you, I'll be here all week.
[ 06/24/04 ]

@ In an attempt to better understand leadership and business leadership legacies, the Harvard Business School has compiled a Great American Business Leaders database that is sortable by several criteria, including name, industry, and era. The site also includes a reading list selected by affiliated faculty.
[ 06/24/04 ]



@ I'm trying out the Feedburner version of my RSS feed. Please let me know if you find this to be more or less useful than the other one. Thanks.
[ 06/25/04 ]

@ Sixty-two years ago, Arthur and Alice Siegal got married in in the gymnasium of a Jewish day school. Tomorrow, they will celebrate their anniversary in the same building--now the Islamic School of Seattle.

Alice Siegal grew up in Seattle in an Orthodox family, which considered Islam "another religion in an exotic land" if it considered Islam at all, she said. Arthur grew up in a small town in New Mexico, where he was one of a handful of Jews among Catholics. It wasn't until the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that their interest in Islam grew, and they began volunteering as guardians at the Islamic School to ward off anti-Muslim attacks. [...]
"We all live in one world. There's no reason why we can't get to know each other better and live in peace," Alice said.

[ 06/25/04 ]

@ A conservative offers a novel appeal for the repeal of the Patriot Act.
[ 06/25/04 ]

@ How much do I love this? Discovering Dickens is distributing free facsimiles of Dickens's work in weekly installments, recreating for modern readers the experience of reading these great novels in serial form. (via randomwalks)
[ 06/25/04 ]

@ They're Calling it Open Source Politics: Simultaneous Policy is a peaceful political strategy to democratically drive all the world's nations to apply global solutions to global problems, including combatting global warming and environmental destruction, regulating economic globalization for the good of all, and delivering social justice, peace and security, and sustainable prosperity. (Wikipedia Entry). [more...]

From the Simultaneous Policy-UK website:

ISPO is a growing association of citizens world-wide who are using their votes in a new, co- ordinated and effective way to drive all nations to co-operate in solving our many global problems; problems like global warming, ecological destruction and global poverty.
ISPO's members recognise that these problems cannot be solved while governments are forced to compete with one another for capital and employment; a competition that forces them to operate within an effective policy straitjacket dictated by global markets. [...]
SP is two things: it is both a range of policy measures and it is a process for bringing about their implementation by all, or virtually all, nations simultaneously.

[ 06/25/04 ]

@ Seeking to make a new start, in 1940, marine biologist Edward F. Ricketts and John Steinbeck travelled the Sea of Cortez, a journey which is documented in Steinbeck's famous book. Recently a group of modern researchers made the same voyage, and catalogued the changes they found.
[ 06/25/04 ]

@ Using Manuscripts and Archives: A Tutorial -- An Instructional Tool for Finding Manuscripts and Archival Material at Yale and Beyond.
[ 06/25/04 ]



@ Come join us July 22 in New York City for Jesse James Garrett's all-day seminar The Elements of User Experience, based on his acclaimed book of the same name. Both VPs and Web designers have found that this material allows them to understand how to align their business goals with customer needs on the Web--and how to effectively talk to each other for the first time. No, I won't be speaking, but I will be there--and I'll come have a drink with you after the show. [Update: I've been authorized to offer Rebecca's Pocket readers a 15% discount on this seminar. Use discount code FJJG.]
[ 06/28/04 ]



@ With interest rates set to start climbing, it's time to pay off your credit cards and create a financial cushion to help you keep up with your adjustable rate mortgage. The time to get your finances in order is now.
[ 06/29/04 ]

@ Stupid credit card tricks: From phishing to legit, knowledge is power when dealing with credit in the 21st century. [more...]

Banks are in business -- and they must turn a profit to survive. With rock-bottom interest rates and a savvier customer base card-hopping to get the best deal, they're relying on fees to pay to keep the lights on.
Boy, are we paying the price, though. In 1995, customers paid on average $20 when they messed up. Fee revenues in the industry were just $8.3 billion. Last year the industry reaped an all-time high of $24 billion in late fees, over-limit fees, activation fees, and annual fees. Today customers pay 134% more for their foibles (up to $45) than in 1994. Income from penalty fees was a whopping 33% of profits last year.

Stupid consumer tricks, too:

At the end of last year, U.S. households had $10.4 trillion in outstanding debt, and one out of every 73 filed for bankruptcy. The Commerce Department reports that our personal savings rate is a wafer-thin 1.8%. As a nation, we're borrowing money at a record clip to pay for a lifestyle well beyond our means. [...]
On average, we carry eight credit cards per person and have a balance of $8,400 in credit card debt. Twenty percent of our cards are maxed out, reports CardWeb.com, which tracks the lending industry's machinations. And just 40% of Americans pay off their accounts in full at the end of the month. The average line of credit is around $3,500. (A decade ago, it was just $1,800.) The average household pays its lender $1,000 a year in finance charges.

[ 06/29/04 ]

@ Lesbian Fashion: Oxymoron? Not so fast.
[ 06/29/04 ]

@ Today's #1 parenting tool: Santa on speed-dial.
[ 06/29/04 ]







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