.: 2005 --> july
Much of what will heal Africa and catalyze government resources will look like peer-to-peer action--- individuals who've come togehter under the mantle of organizations such as The Global Fund For Women reaching out to small groups that are determined to bring about change. This is an organic form of economic development whose growth will be more like the internet or the blogosphere than some giant centralized program. We wanted to share how small actions repeated across a continent lead to hope and ultimately to significant change. These stories also show the specifics — how a few dollars for a well relieves young girls from hauling water all day and not only provides clean water, but leads to an educated village. We wanted to provide stories, examples, and education to bloggers and press as global attention turns to Africa during live8.
You'll probably be interested in all of the Global Fund for Women weblog.
[ 07/01/05 ]
@ Ask and ye shall receive. Derek Willis points me to KidsPost RSS feed. Derek should be on your radar anyway, because of The Scoop, his weblog on investigative and computer-assisted reporting. [more...]
@ This looks interesting: The 20th Century Transformation of U.S. Agriculture and Farm Policy [pdf] (via US food policy blog)
[ 07/12/05 ]
Weighing about four tons and between six and nine feet in height, the bluestones would have been transported 240 miles to the famous site at Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, England.
According to Darvill, the huge stones were taken on such a journey from their Welsh location because they were regarded as holy.[...] "However, these were very special hills. The remoteness of the place and its mountaintop situation had a special meaning to the people living around Stonehenge. As a result, they brought the stones to Wiltshire to recreate that meaning at their own temple. Moving stones about was fairly common at that time."
[ 07/14/05 ]
If you put my grandfather in a room with God and gave him one question, he would not ask for the meaning of life. He would not inquire as to the existence of poverty or the vagaries of human nature. No, he would ask, and I quoth: Do you use Firefox?
Delightful. Read the whole thing. (via rc3.org)
[ 07/14/05 ]
@ It seems that IT is suffering a female brain drain. This article talks a lot about a tech culture that is hostile to women, both in its expectations, and in its climate. Some of this is a result of the mythos of the coder cowboy. Some may come from the notion of programmer as "artiste". Before computers entered the mainstream, talented programmers were rare. As a result, they were often coddled — their eccentricities tolerated. Add to that a dash of Asperger's and it's easy to see how an unfriendly climate — toward any outsider — could thrive. The immediate solution is the same as it is in any other business: draw clear boundaries and don't tolerate harrassment. Long-term, a women-friendly (really, people-friendly) workplaces are the result of many practices designed to support more than one cookie-cutter "ideal employee". None of it works without a deep committment on the part of senior management to create a diverse workplace.
[ 07/14/05 ]
The computer metaphor describes cognition as being in a particular discrete state, for example, "on or off" or in values of either zero or one, and in a static state until moving on. If there was ambiguity, the model assumed that the mind jumps the gun to one state or the other, and if it realizes it is wrong, it then makes a correction.
"In thinking of cognition as working as a biological organism does, on the other hand, you do not have to be in one state or another like a computer, but can have values in between -- you can be partially in one state and another, and then eventually gravitate to a unique interpretation, as in finally recognizing a spoken word," Spivey said.
[ 07/14/05 ]
@ I've linked Jon Udell's library lookup bookmarklet here before, haven't I? When you get interested in a book while you're browsing at Amazon or Barnes and Noble, click the bookmarklet, located conveniently in your browser toolbar, and it will automatically look up the listing at your local library. Using it, I've browsed many more books than I would have otherwise (I won't remember to go check after I leave the site), and I've saved myself from some terrible purchase decisions by browsing the book beforehand. Highly recommended.
[ 07/14/05 ]
Although the crowds at St. Andrews, Scotland, are cheering him this week, golf fans did not like Nicklaus at the beginning. They called him "Fat Jack," because Nicklaus was kind of chunky when he was young. He also wore baggy clothes and dopey golf hats. Fans rooted for their favorite, Arnold Palmer, another great American golfer.
Over the years, Nicklaus won over the fans with his great golf and good sportsmanship. He also started wearing better hats.
[ 07/15/05 ]
I think the writer draws the wrong conclusion. Sith did poorly because it was a bad film, not because advertising no longer works. Hype can get people into the theatre for one week or two — all the studio cares about, since they keep the majority of box office monies on the first two weeks, with a more equitable split with the theatre thereafter. People keep coming to see a much-advertised film after the first two weeks only if those initial viewers like it enough to recommend it.
Hollywood is quick to blame all kinds of factors — television, piracy, video games — for its poor performance. Those factors will have a definite effect, but in the face of every circumstance the answer is pretty simple: Hollywood needs to put out better films if it wants to maintain a loyal audience.
[ 07/15/05 ]
@ The Good Home Cookbook (Collectors Press, Fall 2006) is seeking recipe testers. Testers' feedback will be incorporated in the book, and cooks who test five or more recipes will receive a free copy of the book. To be a tester, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
[ 07/15/05 ]
@ CSM: Saudi and Israeli studies show that most foreign fighters were not terrorists before Iraq war.
Two new studies, one by the Saudi government and one by an Israeli think tank, which "painstakingly analyzed the backgrounds and motivations of hundreds of foreigners entering Iraq to fight the United States" have found that most foreign fighters in Iraq were not terrorists before the Iraq war, but were "radicalized by the war itself." The Boston Globe reported on Sunday that the studies "cast doubt" on claims by President Bush that terrorists have "seized on the opportunity to make Iraq the 'central front' in a battle against the United States."
[ 07/18/05 ]
@ US Government: 100 Milestone Documents. These are a history of a nation imagining itself, creating itself, defining itself, perfecting itself. It is our regard for the ideals contained in these documents which drives to disagree so strongly with each other.
[ 07/18/05 ]
Few groups are more opposed to allowing cellphone use than the airlines' own front-line personnel. Flight attendants are concerned not only about terrorists, but also about passengers' air rage if they're forced to sit and listen to someone else chatter for three or four hours.
"We'd have to deal with all the situations that could arrive from that, the disruptions that could escalate to where there are physical ramifications," says Candace Kolander, a flight attendant and coordinator of air safety, health, and security for the Association of Flight Attendants in Washington. "So while the technology may be available to make it possible, there are some environments, like an aircraft cabin, where cellphone use is just not appropriate."
Much of the public appears to agree. A survey done for the AFA found that 63 percent of the flying public does not want the cellphone ban lifted. If the government and airlines go ahead and allow cellphone use anyway, 70 percent would want a separate section for talkers.
Amen. Instead, I vote for electrical sockets at every seat so that business employees can be productive in a less disruptive fashion.
[ 07/19/05 ]
@ Popular video game Grand Theft Auto contains a bit of sexually explicit material for those who have the right code to unlock it. Critics blame producers of the game for embedding the content; publisher Rockstar Games claims the content is part of a modification created by someone else to alter their game. Now concerned parents are wondering whether these mods circumvent the game rating system and make it irrelevant. [more...]
While such content is hidden inside a game's original software, the "mod" community - a somewhat chaotic amalgam of fans, amateur game designers, and hackers - takes a game's original code and plays around with it. But few mods are malicious. "More than 99 percent is a benign extension of the game itself, or absurdly silly," says Morris. [...]
Far from being a negative force, the mod community in general has come to play an important role in the development of the industry, say media watchers. "It extends the life of a game," says Jason Della Rocca, executive director of the International Game Developers Association.
Err...I guess none of these critics noticed that Grand Theft Auto is rated "M for mature audiences"? Having watched the game, I was offended long before this bit of code came to light (and I love first person shooters).
The article draws all the right conclusions. The computer and video game industry is huge — and growing. Gaming culture reflects online culture in its embrace of user-contributed content — the mods referred to in this article. That's not going to go away (in fact, the music and film industries would be wise to mimic this attitude toward enthusiasts.)
Finally, parents need to stop being afraid of technology, and educate themselves about it. Parents need to pay as much attention to the games their children purchase as they do the movies they watch. The ratings system is a good guide. As with television, sitting down and watching (or playing) with your children is the best approach. Talk about what you like about the game, and what you don't like. Ask they what they like about it, and then listen, respectfully. You are discussing something that matters to them. Remember that games come and and games go. Today's obsession may be forgotten by the end of the week. If you disapprove of a game, tell them why. They may not agree with you. They may think you don't get it. You may not.
Your children will carry knowledge of your values with them into the world, but only if you take the time to impart them concretely, over time. Then, even if they don't agree with you, the dialogue will be happening inside their head whether or not you are around. Be patient. Do your job. Don't panic.
[ 07/19/05 ]
@ I am rarely impressed with books that purport to tell how technology has changed the world. So many are filled with fuzzy thinking and stupid, pie-in-the-sky predictions, seemingly aimed at bolstering the author's speaking career more than imparting any real information. It always bugs me that these books are lauded for doing nothing more than telling a story that people want to hear, and that no one ever loses credibility a few years later when their predictions are shown to be patent nonsense. [more...]
I want to recommend one that is different. The Power of Many is smart, helpful, and paints an accurate picture of the changes that are taking place. It doesn't hype things up to tell a story people want to hear. It would be easy for a non-techie to understand. It's interesting. It's extremely well-written. It has a big heart. I think it's wonderful.
Disclosure: I am acquainted with the author, who sent me a review copy.
[ 07/19/05 ]
"Each community is forming its own little orchestra, which will function as the image of its community," said Turkin, who sees the downsizing as a healthy response accommodating the needs of regional audiences. "Boca can afford to maintain a chamber orchestra indefinitely. I don't think the Boca area can afford a full symphony for more than year or two."
For some reason, this reminds me of my great-grandmother's mandolin. Apparently there was a vogue for mandolins when she was a young girl, and she had one. At the time, of course, pre-radio, if you wanted music at your party, you made music at your party. The disadvantage of our age of access to live and recorded performances is not just that we are less practiced at entertaining ourselves. It's that we have lost the sense of ourselves as good-enough-for-the-everyday artists.
That's one of the exciting aspects of weblogs and podcasting — they have reminded people of their own power to create. The only thing new about either one is the distribution method: the Internet. People have been writing and talking and making music for as long as people have been. (via the artful manager)
[ 07/20/05 ]
@ Aha! Rockstar Games has admitted that objectionable sexual content was, in fact, embedded in their game, though only accessible by using a third-party mod. Accordingly, they have raised the rating on their game to "Adult Content". Rockstar Games is now heavily into spin mode. [more...]
"An artist makes a painting, then doesn't like the first version and paints over the canvas with a new painting, right?" said Rodney Walker, a spokesman for Rockstar Games. "That's what happened here. Hackers on the Internet made a program that scratches the canvas to reveal an earlier draft of the game."
I agree with Gamespot that the furor is largely misguided:
Given that the minigame is about as raunchy as an episode of Sex and the City, cannot be accessed without entering a long string of cheat codes, and takes several hours of effort to access, charges that San Andreas is "pornographic" may seem extreme to some. However, its existence does appear to contradict Rockstar Games' carefully worded statement blaming hacker mischief for the existence of the Hot Coffee mod.
Essentially, this was a public relations disaster. It seems likely that game developers produced a bit of graphic content as an internal joke. It was never erased from the code, but there was also no way to access it from within the game. And normally this kind of thing would have stayed inside the boys club, no harm, no foul.
But Rockstar should have come clean from the beginning and moved on. Blaming "hackers" — respected members of the gaming community yesterday, remember? — for uncovering code the Rockstar developers created and then shipped is dishonest. Far better to say that the code was created and rejected; that they were sloppy in allowing it to ship; and that it won't happen again. I don't have a problem with this happening. I do have a huge problem with the publisher blaming everyone else for a piece of their own content.
The lesson is simple: game publishers must now assume that everything in their code will be accessed by someone. And they should stop fueling technophobic fear of "hackers" as a way of avoiding responsibility for their own missteps.
[ 07/21/05 ]
Six months after the tsunami, the disproportionate toll on women is still being felt. According to some reports, the survivor ratio of males to females averages almost three to one. The imbalance has made it more difficult for women to have a voice in the planning and reconstruction of their communities - especially in a Muslim country where men tend to make major decisions. But women's activists and many Acehnese female survivors say that women's involvement is crucial to creating livable communities.
[ 07/21/05 ]
In 1979-2000, the real income of the poorest fifth of American households rose by 6.4%, while that of the top fifth rose by 70% (and of the top 1% by 184%). As of 2001, that top 1% nabbed a fifth of America's personal income and controlled a third of its net worth. Again, this would not necessarily be a cause for worry, as long as it was possible for people to work their way up and down the ladder. Yet various studies also indicate that social mobility has weakened; indeed by some measures it may be worse than it is in crusty old Europe.
[ 07/21/05 ]
Over the past few months, I've read over a dozen books on personal finance. Recurring themes have become evident. [...]
Some of the books out there — most of them? — really are as bad as their titles. Others, however, offer outstanding, practical advice. The best books seem to have the same goal in mind: not wealth, not riches, but financial independence. According to Your Money or Your Life, which I consider the very best of the financial books I've read, "financial independence is the experience of having enough — and then some". More practically, financial independence occurs when your investment income meets or exceeds your monthly expenses. Financial independence is linked to psychological freedom.
How is financial independence achieved? Again, the best books all basically agree.... Here, then, is my personal summary of the collected wisdom found in these books.
As a matter of fact, I'm just getting ready to read a slew of these books. I concur with the author's recommendation of Your Money or Your Life. It's a little hokey, but the approach is sensible and sound.
[ 07/22/05 ]
The hottest cafe in the Ethiopian capital is not a Starbucks at all but a knockoff, the creation of a Starbucks devotee who tried to bring the real thing to Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee, by many accounts. But she had to settle for a look-alike after the Seattle coffee giant rebuffed her partnership request.
(via my apple menu reader)
[ 07/22/05 ]
What concerns counterterrorism experts is that tactics that once prompted fierce ideological debates within radical circles - suicide and attacks on civilians are both classically defined in Islam as sins - are now more likely to be embraced by young men. A decade or two ago, Muslim males might have been willing to take up a rifle and risk death fighting against the Soviets in the mountains of Afghanistan, but many would have balked at making the ultimate sacrifice or at blowing up civilians in a Moscow train station.
While the attacks on London and Egypt in recent days have dominated the headlines, Iraq appears to be playing a central role - in shifting views and as ground zero in a new wave in of suicide attacks.
"You can probably average it out to about one a day almost,'' says M.J. Gohel, a terrorism researcher at the Asia Pacific Foundation in London. (In June, the peak month in June 2004, there were 18 suicide bombings. This June, there were 30). "They're using them like confetti for what are frequently minor attacks, and what this shows is they have a virtually endless supply [of bombers] at this point. In the old days, suicide bombing was a rare event."
[ 07/25/05 ]
At Brown University, in Providence, Rhode Island, dining hall purchasers started swapping Granny Smiths and Red Delicious for locally grown Macouns and Pippins. Apple consumption tripled, and the experiment extended to locally grown tomatoes and peaches, milk from Rhode Island dairies and, eventually, a farmers' market that set up shop outside the dining hall.
"I was carrying a flat of local peaches into the dining hall once, it was like having bread at the beach and having seagulls following me," said Louella Hill, a recent Brown graduate who helped organized the on-campus farmers' market. "People were grabbing peaches and eating them before I could get to the fruit bowl."
[ 07/25/05 ]
@ What is a parent to do when his daughter's summer reading list contains a book filled with objectionable language? (Part 2.) Does that list remind you a little of this? In this case, I agree that this is pretty heavy reading for high school juniors. I doubt if this would make any difference to the parents quoted in this story, but I think these particular books would be best read during the school year, when the teacher would be able to provide some guidance.
[ 07/25/05 ]
The TSA violated federal law when it secretly expanded Secure Flight's use of commercial data about passengers. It also lied to Congress and the public about it.
[ 07/25/05 ]
From the maintenance floor to the cockpit, American Airlines is daily scouring operations to increase efficiency and find even the smallest cost savings. It's paid off: Last week, the company announced its first profit in almost five years.
While the other so-called legacy carriers are also slashing labor costs and increasing efficiency in an effort to compete with successful low-cost airlines, American has been the most aggressive in emulating the positive employee relations of low-cost rivals. Indeed, when American's management intensified its cost-saving efforts, it didn't turn to high-priced outside consultants. Rather, it asked its employees, since they do their jobs day in and out and know them probably better than anyone else.
[ 07/25/05 ]
Mr. Sinegal, who is 69 but looks a decade younger, also delights in not tilting Costco too far into cheap merchandise, even at his warehouse stores. He loves the idea of the "treasure hunt" — occasional, temporary specials on exotic cheeses, Coach bags, plasma screen televisions, Waterford crystal, French wine and $5,000 necklaces — scattered among staples like toilet paper by the case and institutional-size jars of mayonnaise.
The treasure hunts, Mr. Sinegal says, create a sense of excitement and customer loyalty.
Wow. This article would turn me into a Costco customer, if I knew what to do with an institutional-size jar of mayonnaise.
[ 07/25/05 ]
@ Verlyn Klinkenborg: The Story Behind a New York Billboard and the Interests It Serves.
It turns out that this is one of a series of Web sites sponsored by the Center for Consumer Freedom, which describes itself as "a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the full range of choices that American consumers currently enjoy." We live in an age of organizations with anodyne names that conceal their real agenda, and the Center for Consumer Freedom is one of them. We're all consumers, and what could be better than freedom? But C.C.F. was founded by a Washington lobbyist named Richard Berman and is financed, according to at least one watchdog group, by many of the same meat, fast-food, restaurant and beverage companies that have hired him as a lobbyist. Seed money came from Philip Morris.
The blurring of the distinction between corporate interests and the individual and collective rights of humans is one of the central tropes of our time and the source of much purposeful confusion, of the kind that the Center for Consumer Freedom exploits. It may have its root, philosophically, in the legal fiction that a corporation is a person. But it is used again and again to hide from people exactly how their interests are being abused. It also keeps people from seeing the delicate balance that must be struck between their individual rights and the rights of the community at large. When you hear someone howling about freedom, it is worth asking whose freedom he means.
[ 07/25/05 ]
@ I tried a new recipe this week and it was such a success I'd like to recommend it. You can find the recipe for Rice Noodle Salad in the bottom half of last week's Terra Firma Farms (my CSA) newsletter. Of course, my version of this dish was different from the one described here: I didn't have a cucumber, nor, unexpectedly, did I have any curry powder, so I had to improvise. I used the Thai-Malaysian Ginger-Curry Marinade for Tofu (a winner) from the Passionate Vegetarian, page 659. It was really good. Just a great summer meal.
[ 07/28/05 ]
Sometimes people don't know that their voice gets in their way. Susan Berkley, a voice coach in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., and the author of "Speak to Influence," told the story of a friend who met a woman on an Internet dating site. "Her photo was drop-dead gorgeous. They finally set a time to talk on the phone. He's convinced she's going to bear his children, right? So he calls and she answers." Here she produced a high-pitched nasal "Hello" that called to mind Lily Tomlin's telephone operator. "It was over in five seconds. He couldn't bear the thought of spending the rest of his life with that voice."
[ 07/29/05 ]
@ In This Corner, in the Flouncy Skirt and Bowler Hat.... Welcome to the world of the fighting Cholitas, female Bolivian fighters who wrestle in indigenous dress.
"I wanted to get people's attention and fill up the coliseum," said Juan Mamani, 46, the president of the Titans and a wrestler himself. "At first, I thought of fighting dwarves. I even brought in one from Peru. Then I thought of Cholitas. It's been popular ever since."
[ 07/29/05 ]
@ I'm delighted to present the second installment of Bloggers on Blogging, an interview with my good friend Jessamyn West. In it, Jessamyn discusses managing real-time/mediated events, reading in bed, and the convergence of everyday life and blogging.
Today I've spent no time blogging, an hour or so on email, similar amount of time reading RSS feeds and a similar amount of time learning about proxy servers so I can figure out how to circumvent the filtering I have to deal with because I work at a school, for example. I never do one thing at a time, so some of this is simultaneous. It's getting to the point where it's like asking "how much time do you spend reading?" since you read books, but also magazines, cereal boxes, instruction manuals, your email etc. Information overlaps.
[ 07/30/05 ]