Thank you for cutting cancer screening

...to prove you are pro-life. Mother Jones has the best writing on it, and other problems there.

This issue is close to my heart. When I used Planned Parenthood in college, not having a regular doctor and not knowing exactly what one would have to report to my parent's insurance, I saw a lot in the waiting room. Mothers took their daughters in for exams and probably birth control, too. Many of the women there probably needed the health services more than I did. I assume most of them were actually uninsured, not just afraid of a conversation with their parents. What would we all have done without the Planned Parenthood clinic? Probably nothing, which is horrible to imagine.

So, Komen Foundation, I'm glad you're taking a hit. Not that I've ever donated money to you (except for running the race once, about 5 years ago) but I will now send a check to Planned Parenthood, which will be matched by my employer, which will in turn be matched by Michael Bloomberg. Suck it.



I can't believe the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is often the unfortunate byproduct of anal sex hasn't dropped out of the race yet.

What is this country coming to?


Napa is nice but Sonoma is super!

It’s all beautiful up there, Napa is just pricier. Russian River Valley was highly recommended, but we also wanted to check out Alexander Valley (due to the fact that some labels from there have been really good finds). So many wineries, so little time!
If you have time, I would recommend taking a week or weekend to do everything. The scenery is magnetic.


Yummy not-very French toast

Bake or buy French bread (baguette or something substantial) and, if not sliced, cut into 1/2 inch or slightly smaller slices. If not day-old already, toast slightly while heating butter in a heavy saucepan (I used an iron skillet) over medium flame.
Next, in a bowl at least wide enough to place a whole piece of bread, crack 2 eggs and add 1/2 cup of almond milk and a scant teaspoon of Chinese 5 Spice powder. Mix well, then dip the bread completely into the egg-milk mixture, allowing excess to drip back into the bowl before laying in the skillet.
I cooked them longer on the first side, but just long enough to get a lovely golden brown color. Took only a few minutes.
Cover with ginger maple syrup (found at Willams-Sonoma)and dust with cinnamon or allspice if you like.


Coffee, anyone?

Memphis has some great new(ish) coffee shops opening these days. Republic Coffee on Walnut Grove, The Edge and Cafe Eclectic. If you haven't tried them out yet, today is a perfect day to stop by one or the other.


A conversion?

I’ve never been a runner, but this fall I want to train for a 5k.
I know running’s bad on joints, esp the knees, but I figure doing it once won’t kill me. ;-)
Here’s hoping!

I will try to update when I find a group to train with, get some good trainers, and as my time & endurance progress.



Check out the Liberal Card. Who knows, maybe I'm a year late on this one, but I love it!


1st time for everything

never have i given up on a goal on 43 things, but there’s a first time for everything! too much to do and something’s gotta give, so…


Things you can still do which don't cause cancer**

  1. Showering. If you don't use the wrong hair stuff, of course.
  2. Cooking. Just make sure you don't burn it, as ingesting charcoal has been known to have carcinogenic effects.
  3. Driving: just don't wear sunscreen and don't inhale the gasoline as you pump it.
  4. Having sex---as long as your partner doesn't give you the HPVirus.
  5. Abortions. Contrary to what these bastards will have you believe. (I don't mean me, of course, but the 'pregnancy counselors' in the AP article.)
**This statement is not a guarantee but rather an uneducated guess based on... well, nothing, actually.


Exposure to ultrasound can affect fetal brains

Not that this is much of a shock, latest in the long and ever-increasing list of Seemingly Innocuous Stuff That Can [maim/kill/give cancer]:

WASHINGTON - Exposure to ultrasound can affect fetal brain development, a new study suggests. But researchers say the findings, in mice, should not discourage pregnant women from having ultrasound scans for medical reasons.
When pregnant mice were exposed to ultrasound, a small number of nerve cells in the developing brains of their fetuses failed to extend correctly in the cerebral cortex.

"Our study in mice does not mean that use of ultrasound on human fetuses for appropriate diagnostic and medical purposes should be abandoned," said lead researcher Pasko Rakic, chairman of the neurobiology department at Yale University School of Medicine.

However, he added in a telephone interview, women should avoid unnecessary ultrasound scans until more research has been done.

Dr. Joshua Copel, president-elect of the American Institute of Ultrasound Medicine, said his organization tries to discourage "entertainment" ultrasound, but considers sonograms important when there is a medical benefit.
[LINK] and [LINK] and [MORE LINK]
Not that I'm about to discourage any of my pregnant friends from getting these "entertainment" ultrasounds---because I won't be listened to, as the Decidedly Single Girlfriend, and it would just make me look like more of a freak to speak out against the medical community yet again.
But at least now we know what's making us dumber/giving us ADD/. Or at least some part of the cause.


Report: Women misled on abortion risks

Although the headline is ambiguous, and could be understood as "women misled [someone]" rather than "so-called 'pregnancy counseling centers' intentionally mislead women on abortion risks in attempt to scare them into having children they don't want" ---ahem, excuse me---my response is still: And who is surprised?
By KEVIN FREKING, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - Women who consult with pregnancy resource centers often get misleading information about the health risks associated with having an abortion, according to a report issued Monday by Democrats on the House Government Reform Committee.
Congressional aides, posing as pregnant 17-year-olds, called 25 pregnancy centers that have received some federal funding over the past five years.

The aides were routinely told of increased risk for cancer, infertility and stress disorders, said the report, which was prepared for Rep. Henry Waxman (news, bio, voting record), D-Calif.

Only a small fraction of the more than 4,000 pregnancy clinics nationwide get any federal funding, mostly for promoting sexual abstinence.

With a few exceptions, the federal government doesn't give money specifically for the counseling operations, but Waxman's staff said 25 centers got "capacity building grants." Thus, Waxman said, they should be held accountable for the information they dispense.

Of the 25 centers called, two could not be reached. Eight told the caller that abortion leads to a greater risk of breast cancer, the report said.
Once again, let me say how much I love Henry Waxman. He's like a lonely little candle in the wilderness that is our House of Reps.
There's more, too, like how abortion is "emotionally traumatizing" (oh, yeah? Try having kids.) and that these centers are often recipients of startup funding from the federal government.


Coffee may reduce liver disease!!

A little late to the game with this story, but I'm still just so d@mn excited to know that I'm already halfway to liver health! Seriously, I think this is hilarious after years of trying to convince us coffee is evil, that pregnant women shouldn't drink it, and more than one cup a day will make you a wired caffeine zombie.
Study finds drinking coffee could reduce the risk of alcohol-related liver disease.
Tuesday, 13 June 2006
A US study of 125,580 men and women over 20 years found a 22% reduced risk of developing alcoholic cirrhosis for each cup of coffee drank per day.

But tea was not associated with a reduced risk, indicating caffeine may not be the link, the study in Archives of Internal Medicine concluded.
The researchers from California looked at health records of patients who had undergone voluntary examinations between 1978 and 1985.

Drinking less than one cup of coffee a day was found to reduce the risk of alcoholic cirrhosis by 30%; one to three cups by 40%; and four or more cups by 80%.

There was also a small but non-significant reduction in other forms of cirrhosis - not associated with alcohol - in coffee drinkers.

To look at liver damage the team measured certain enzymes in the blood. As expected, levels of the enzymes were significantly higher in heavy drinkers, however those who drank both alcohol and coffee had lower levels than those who drank alcohol but not coffee, with the strongest relationship in the heaviest drinkers.

Poor Baby

This poor neglected stepchild blog has really suffered from me going back to school. I have not abandoned it, just sort of lost track of it. I barely read the news (that could be part of it).


Enron Chiefs Guilty

Why did we have to wait so long to find out what we already know? Because the wheels of justice grind exceeding slow.
Hey, that's a rhyme!

Kenneth L. Lay and Jeffrey K. Skilling, the chief executives who guided Enron through its spectacular rise and even more stunning fall, were found guilty today of fraud and conspiracy. They are among the most prominent corporate leaders to emerge from a wave of scandals that marked the get-rich-quick excesses and management failures of the 1990's.

The eight women and four men on the jury reached the verdicts after a little more than five days of deliberations. Mr. Skilling was convicted of 18 counts of fraud and conspiracy and one count of insider trading. He was acquitted on nine counts of insider trading. Mr. Lay was found guilty on six counts of fraud and conspiracy and four counts of bank fraud.

The conspiracy and fraud convictions each carry a sentence of 5 to 10 years in prison. The insider trading charge against Mr. Skilling carries a maximum of 10 years.



Broadband Speed Overkill?

Well, something else I never thought I'd hear:

By Marguerite Reardon
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Published: May 17, 2006, 4:00 AM PDT

Today's high-speed Internet access packages may sound tempting, but consumers should think long and hard about how much broadband they actually need before they ante up.

Certainly, Internet users switching from a 56Kbps (kilobits per second) dial-up connection to any flavor of broadband can immediately see what they were missing.

But it can be a different story when making the leap into premium services. Though data-intensive utilities like high-definition video could one day place a heavy burden on the Net pipes into the average consumer's home, some analysts say many current Internet users don't even come close to using all the bandwidth that's offered to them in a standard broadband service.

"Unless you live with five internet addicts, it's hard to come up with a use case for some of these high-end bandwidth packages," said Joe Laszlo, an analyst with JupiterResearch. "The cable operators are trying to keep up with Verizon's Fios service, and they can't look like the slowest guy on the block."

Laszlo's reality check comes as cable operators and telephone companies compete to offer the fastest, most expansive broadband service around. ...

As Americans, we just don't consume what we need. The new movie Over the Hedge makes this abundantly clear. The preview for it shows forest creatures being shown how to live in suburbia by a raccoon, who dumps out garbage cans full of leftovers while telling his audience how people worship food in their everyday lives. We buy enough to eat and leave some for the forest critters when we're done.
Anyway, my point is that bandwidth is one thing people just may get enough of. At least to suit their immediate needs.
Another thing that has had me thinking lately is pirating internet access. Most people (in the more densely populated areas like mine, at least) who have laptops can piggyback on someone else's service, which is just a phase while we all transition to wireless cities.


Jackelopes, Ligers, and[Hybrid] Bears--Oh, my!

I'm sure you'll all be happy to hear that some animals are adapting to their environments just fine.
IQALUIT, Nunavut (AP) -- Northern hunters, scientists and people with vivid imaginations have discussed the possibility for years.

But Roger Kuptana, an Inuvialuit guide from Sachs Harbour, North West Territories, was the first to suspect it had actually happened when he proposed that a strange-looking bear shot last month by an American sports hunter might be half polar bear, half grizzly.

Territorial officials seized the creature after noticing its white fur was scattered with brown patches and that it had the long claws and humped back of a grizzly. Now a DNA test has confirmed that it is indeed a hybrid -- possibly the first documented in the wild.


News of the Nation

Yahoo news is a font of silly and exasperating stories today:
Fat Man Walking: an inspiration to millions of Oprah viewers.
Sex is on the Rise Among Virgins. Thanks a lot, Pres. Clinton. Of course, abortion is still purportedly on the rise since Bush took office. UPDATE: I've spewed some of my vitriol relating to abortion on the main blog today.

And in other world news:
Birds Return to Europe Without Bird Flu.
The Price of Soup Rises Dramatically.
Nearly Half of American Children Aren't White. Cool!
Pres. Putin Chastises U.S. on Democracy. Who'd have thought it would ever come to this?


Your Daily Dose of Truthiness

Brandon has the video from the much-talked-about Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. He really goes for the gusto---it's funny to see the crowd, and da Prez, get more & more uncomfortable. It's really a once in a lifetime opportunity (in more ways than one) and he did a very brave thing.


Hooray for Anna Nicole!

I am not a big fan of former Playboy centerfolds turned...whatever, but I totally feel like he knew exactly what he was doing when he married her. In fact I'm sure he did, and that's just what he wanted to do with his money. Marriage is a sort of sale anyway, it's just that we pretend it's not so we don't feel all dirty about it.
from the NYTimes
By David Stout
May 1, 2006

The former Playboy model Anna Nicole Smith was given a new chance by the Supreme Court today to try to get part of the vast fortune of her late husband, a Texas oil tycoon who was six decades her senior.
The justices were unanimous in finding that Ms. Smith, who is also known as Vickie Lynn Marshall, [no, is that really her name? ha!] could pursue her claim in federal court. The justices overturned a ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which had held that the case really belonged in Texas state probate court.
Yes, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the high court, the "probate exception" generally gives state probate courts authority to oversee wills and the administration of estates.
But, she wrote, Ms. Smith has accused her late husband's son of wrongdoing against her, a factor that makes the case more than just a probate matter.
Those issues, Justice Ginsburg recounted, include the young widow's allegations that E. Pierce Marshall, son of the tycoon J. Howard Marshall II, tried to isolate the old man, "surrounding him with hired guards" to prevent personal contact between husband and wife, and thus deprive her of what she had been promised: part of an estate estimated as high as $1.6 billion.

Justice Ginsburg did not mention other elements of the case which, while perhaps not of deep interest to legal scholars, have stirred some interest among nonlawyers, and maybe even some members of the bar.

J. Howard Marshall II was 89 and Ms. Smith, the 1992 Playmate of the Year and a model for jeans commercials, was 26 when they married on June 27, 1994, at a Houston drive-in wedding chapel after a two-year courtship. The marriage was his third and her second. Mr. Marshall paid for his wife's acting lessons and lavished gifts upon her.
Sure sounds to me like the son was trying to keep Vickie Lynn away from what wasn't really his in the first place, when the old geezer knew exactly why he was important to both of them. It's sad, really, that what we are worth to our family often comes down to our material worth. And that an old man can't just enjoy his last years with a Playboy playmate who he paid off fair & square.


Police Torture Audio Released

Just what you were waiting for, right? From Nashvile Files' blog:
April 25, 2006
Police Torture Audio Released

My God. This happened in my state. Torture by police officers.

Last year, a transcript was released of a recording a Campbell County man's wife made on July 8, 2004 when she turned on a recorder as she was made to leave the house. It captured 40 minutes of her husband, a small-time drug dealer, being tortured to make him sign a consent to search form.

Now, the audio has been made available online. It's sickening. That's all I can say.

You can only wonder how often this type of thing happens.

You've been forewarned if you choose to follow the link and listen for yourself. The more I live & learn the more afraid I become for our future as a country.


Rise Up With Fists

Personally, I feel like doing this a lot.
[from PC Magazine]
Joel Hansen, a 45-year-old Texan, was visiting his local Wal-Mart last week to purchase some food at about 5:30 p.m. After what everyone seems to agree was an unpleasant human-computer interaction, the self-checkout terminal had a smashed-in monitor, courtesy of the fist of the consumer.

Hansen was charged with criminal mischief by Tarrant County Sheriff deputies in Fort Worth on April 19.

The police version of events has the machine rejecting Hansen's debit card, but Hansen told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that that is not what happened.
His version of events—which has a very credible and familiar ring to it. "I had scanned a couple of items and it locked up. I tapped it and got it unlocked. I scanned a few more items when it again locked up," the paper quoted Hansen as saying. "I was tapping it again to unlock it when it shattered. It was a glitch."

The unit locked up and the customer found a physically helpful way to unlock it. Heck, if it works, stick with it. It gives a whole new meaning to Blue Screen of Death. In Texas, monitors should be forewarned that it might be Blue Screen Equals Death.

Of course, it is likely going to take quite a tap for a self-checkout machine to collapse, but it's hard to temper one's tap when those smug superior-than-thou displays declare in their omniscient way that you have done something wrong.

"It had locked up, and I was tapping on it when it shattered," he told the paper. "I even got glass in my finger." OK, so the checkout machine got a few licks in, too.

My favorite is what happened next. Let's tally this up. The self-checkout machine freezes—twice—and you have a hungry customer with blood oozing out of his finger.

"When it happened, I was expecting help or for them to move me to another checkout," Hansen said.

That last quote makes me wonder if this was his visit to a Wal-Mart. He was expecting help? Well, he got it. Employees offered no assistance other than asking him to wait there for the police to arrive. He declined the generous offer.

Beaver Overthinks Dambuilding

I think this story really gets to the ridculousness of being human:
HUNTSVILLE, ONTARIO—Local beaver Dennis Messner is spending an inordinate amount of time and effort in the planning and construction phases of building his dam, according to neighbors close to the project.

In the past four months, Messner, 4, has visited hundreds of other dams and drawn up detailed and extensive blueprints. He has researched topics ranging from advanced dome acoustics to the near-extinction of the North American beaver in the early 20th century, and plans to incorporate much of his research into his design.
"There are two primary schools of thought on dam building: the instinctive school and the adaptive school," Messner said, studying the river's current. "I'm more of an integration-minded postmodernist. I don't believe that form should follow function, like most of my colleagues do. On the other hand, a dam is a celebration of beaver culture, and that is what it should reflect."

"It's a lot to think about," Messner continued.


New domain name in the works?

Is this cool, or just more potential for confusion?
To help people manage all their contact information online, the Internet's key oversight agency is considering a ".tel" domain name. If approved, the domain could be available this year.
As proposed, individuals could use a ".tel" Web site to provide the latest contact information and perhaps even let friends initiate a call or send a text message directly from the site. Businesses could use a ".tel" site to determine customers' locations and route them automatically to the correct call center.
In recent years, ICANN has approved ".eu" for the European Union, ".jobs" for human-resources sites, ".travel" for the travel industry, ".mobi" targeting mobile services and ".cat" for the Catalan language, bringing the number of domains to 264.

The organization also is in negotiations to create ".xxx" for porn sites, ".asia" for the Asia-Pacific community and ".post" for postal services.

The few who submitted comments to ICANN on ".tel" were skeptical.

"It kind of magnifies the problem," Cabanas said. "If I'm looking for a phone number or an e-mail address or whatever and I'm getting a totally different (company), it defeats the purpose."

Also unclear is what the demand would be like, giving the popularity of ".com."

The seven domains approved in 2000 — including ".aero," ".museum," and ".info" — "just never have caught on," said Dan Tobias, a Boca Raton, Fla., computer programmer who runs a site on domain names. "Nobody's figured out how to educate the public enough to seek out a different ... domain."


The new breed of soldier: Robots with guns

Is this another futuristic spin on Star Wars or what?
By Steven Komarow, USA TODAY Fri Apr 14, 7:57 AM ET

Spurred by the risks from roadside bombs and terrorist ambushes, the military is aggressively seeking to replace troops with battlefield robots, including new versions armed with machine guns.
"There was a time just a few years ago when we almost had to beg people to try an unmanned ground vehicle," says Marine Col. Terry Griffin, manager of the Robotic Systems Joint Project Office in Huntsville, Ala. "We don't have to beg anymore."
Perhaps the only advantage to the war in Iraq. I'd prefer world peace, personally.


Senate Rejects English-only Drivers' Tests

I think this is a pretty cool reminder that we don't have an official language in this country. Why do we care what everyone else speaks, as long as they're not hurting anyone with their speech?
Speaking of which, the power of language is really becoming more evident every day. I'd rather be verbally than physically assaulted any day, but it seems some people are willing to put themselves out there over a few little letters. People are d@mn crazy fools.
Friday, 04/14/06
For The Tennessean

A bill that would have required the Tennessee driver's license exam to be printed only in English was apparently derailed yesterday by opponents in the state Senate.

The bill, introduced by state Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, would have required anyone who wanted a driver's license to understand enough English to complete the

But during debate on the Senate floor, an amendment was proposed that would have increased — not limited — the number of languages in which the exam could be written. Currently, the exam is available in English, Spanish, Korean and Japanese.

Ultimately, the amendment was changed to require only that applicants be able to understand road signs in English, which is already required by the Department of Safety.


Football Kills

Seriously, when will people get a freaking grip on themselves?
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - An Alabama booster convicted of bribing a high school coach to get a top recruit for the Crimson Tide was killed in his home after a fierce, bloody struggle, police said Tuesday.

Police and his defense attorney confirmed the death of Logan Young, 65, but did not say how he was killed.

Investigators found "a lot of blood," police Sgt. Vince Higgins said. "The nature of the attack was brutal. The entire house is a crime scene."

Higgins said there were signs of a struggle in the house, a two-story stone Tudor home in one of Memphis' most exclusive country club neighborhoods.

Investigators don't know a motive or if the attack was related to Young's federal conviction, Higgins said. Police haven't determined how his home was entered or how many attackers there might have been.

UPDATE: Apparently now they are saying crack kills. A big crack in your noggin. (This is a good reason not to live alone.)


'Creative plumbing' Delivers Beer

Monday, 13 March 2006
BBC News
Haldis Gundersen was planning to do the washing up when she made the unusual discovery at her apartment in Kristiansund, west Norway.
But two flights below, workers in a bar faced the more disappointing realisation that water was flowing from their beer taps.

A worker had connected a beer barrel to the apartment water pipe by mistake.

"I turned on the tap to clean some knives and forks, and beer came out," Ms Gundersen told Reuters news agency. "We thought we were in heaven."

But the beer was flat and tasted odd, she said.

You can read the rest for yourself. It's mostly all about the headline.


Slobodan Milosevic Dead at 64

What a way to go. Live off the backs of your countrymen, slaughter hundreds of thousands, and die in your sleep at the ripe age of 64. Let the family say what it will, but I'm sure the people he had exterminated would have loved to trade lives with him.

Slobodan Milosevic Found Dead in Cell
The former Yugoslav leader, who was branded "the butcher of the Balkans" and was on trial for war crimes after orchestrating a decade of bloodshed during the breakup of his country, was found dead Saturday in his prison cell. He was 64.

Milosevic, who suffered chronic heart ailments and high blood pressure, apparently died of natural causes and was found in his bed, the U.N. tribunal said, without giving an exact time of death. ...

Milosevic was due to complete his defense at the war crimes tribunal this summer.

A figure of beguiling charm and cunning ruthlessness, Milosevic was a master tactician who turned his country's defeats into personal victories and held onto power for 13 years despite losing four wars that shattered his nation and impoverished his people.

Milosevic led Serbia, the dominant Yugoslav republic, into four Balkan wars during the 1990s. The secret of his survival was his uncanny ability to exploit what less adroit figures would consider a fatal blow.



Who'd have thought it: Triple Six Mafia wins the Oscar. I never thought I'd get to say those words in the same sentence. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that was the only win for Hustle & Flow. Too bad, but better than nuttin'.


It's about dang time

That having been said, I can't believe the feds are actually doing this. Even if it's over 3 years late:
Names Offer Glimpse Into Top-Secret Prison
By Miranda Leitsinger and Ben Fos, Associated Press
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba - Offering a glimpse into the top-secret world of Guantanamo Bay, the Pentagon has released the names and home countries of many detainees who have been held at the isolated military prison for up to four years.

A Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by The Associated Press forced the Department of Defense on Friday afternoon to turn over some 5,000 pages of transcripts from closed-door hearings on the detainees, most of whom were accused of having links to the Taliban or al-Qaida.

While the Pentagon has not provided the full roster of detainees, the transcripts give the most detailed picture to date of who has been held at the prison on a U.S. base in eastern Cuba, which has become the focus of international criticism in part because of the government's shroud of secrecy.

Jamie Fellner, director of the U.S. program for Human Rights Watch, said the disclosure represents a "major breach" in that secrecy.


Surprise, surprise, surprise

Tenn. Halts Immigrant Driving Certificates
From Yahoo! News
By LUCAS L. JOHNSON II, Associated Press Writer
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee stopped issuing driving certificates to illegal immigrants Friday after investigations found they were being shuttled from other states, using fake residency papers and sometimes bribing state workers to get the cards. ...
"This program was a good idea in theory, but there have been issues with implementation," [Safety Commissioner Jerry] Nicely said.

The certificates, which are stamped "not valid for identification," were meant to improve driving safety by making sure immigrants living in the state knew traffic rules. Recent federal investigations found that illegal immigrants were traveling hundreds of miles to get the certificates illegally.

Non-citizens who can prove they are in the country legally will still be allowed to get the certificates. Tennessee is among 11 U.S. states that have not required proof of legal residence to obtain driving documents.

As they used to say on Hee Haw (or was it Goober from the Andy Griffith show?): Sur-prise, sur-prise, sur-prise! Can you believe that people who would illegally enter the country---under no inconsiderable risk to their lives---drive illegally & without insurance once they are here, and take jobs illegally at shit wages, would drive hundreds of miles to take advantage of a program designed to help them? Duh. Of course I still think it's a good idea. Every state should do it so it doesn't fall on the 20% of us who have the programs.


9/11 Sets Off Bomb Unit Equipment Explosion

by Sherri Drake
January 21, 2006
The Memphis Police Bomb Unit recently sent 'Lucky' out to check a suspicious cooler in the parking lot of a Circuit City.

Lucky -- the unit's 500-pound robot equipped with four cameras -- circled the cooler and sent video messages to officers watching on monitors in a van nearby.
When officers determined the cooler wasn't a threat, they approached and opened it.
"It turned out to be some rotten bacon and an empty bottle of whiskey," said Lt. Jerry Blum. "But until then, nobody wanted to open that thing up."

This is news?!? Wow. It must have been a very slow day in Memphis for this to make the CA.
But it continued:

It became increasingly clear, especially after Sept. 11, 2001, that the department needed officers who exclusively investigate explosives, said spokesman Vince Higgins.

"Memphis is on the list of primary targets for terrorist activity," he said. "This day and age we need to be prepared."
That is certainly news to me; of course, it doesn't specify how long the list of "primary targets" is, exactly...!


Just what I'v e always wanted on ESPN

My monthly post here at Journalissimo...

[From The Onion Year in Review]

BRISTOL, CT—Sports broadcasting giant ESPN, whose programming has long been a staple among male television viewers of all ages, made its first foray into women's sports programming with the introduction of the World's Emotionally Strongest Man Competition Monday.

The hour-long weekly show, which will run opposite ABC's Monday Night Football, features an international cast of powerfully caring, emotionally resilient, deeply sensitive men pushing themselves and each other to the limit with astounding feats of inner strength in domestic settings around the country.

During the show's premiere, a two-hour special titled "Manhattan Blowout," competitors put their bodies, minds, and spirits to the test in events ranging from the brutal grind of "Enduring Quietly As She Takes Her Hard Day At Work Out On You," to the agility-straining "Throwing A Last-Minute Surprise Party For A Despised Mother-In-Law," to the ultimate combination of strength and finesse, "Helping Her Over The Death Of The Cat That Always Hated You."

"We've always been interested in expanding our brand to involve fans of every possible stripe," said ESPN president George Bodenheimer at the gala WESMC premiere party at the ESPN Zone restaurant in Times Square Monday. "When we looked at our viewers, it was immediately apparent that—figure skating, cheerleading, and gymnastics aside—women were the largest single group we were missing. This new show was designed from the ground up to give them the kind of deep, meaningful competitive experience they don't get from normal sports-entertainment shows."

Over 13 million viewers tuned in for the premiere, which saw Manhattan photographer Barry Peters pull to a strong early lead in overall points with his artful, complaint-free performance in the "Synchronized Cooking And Consolation" event, during which Peters prepared a near-flawless zucchini-pepper ratatouille while effortlessly lifting the spirits of his partner, the challenging and highly unpredictable Christy Ericsson, by convincing her that she was in fact better off without that long-anticipated promotion.

Other strong overall performances were turned in by Martin "There, There" Richards, a graphic designer who remembered to make his wife's beloved tapioca pudding on the anniversary—not of their marriage—but of their first date; Garth "The Embrace" Josephsen, who maintained some form of reassuring but undemanding physical contact with his fiancée for nine consecutive hours; and Ben "Soulmate" Siegel, who made his girlfriend laugh despite her belief that minor weight gain and childlessness were ruining her life.

"It was perfect, honestly," said tear-prone football coach and WESMC host Dick Vermeil, who taped the show's 13 episodes earlier this summer so that he would be free to lead the Kansas City Chiefs without any heart-rending distractions. "We couldn't have asked for a better debut. Even the guys who didn't do as well as they wanted did their honest best, and we had no breakups or severely hurt feelings, despite some relatively large missteps."

According to Vermeil, one competitor, Patrick "Gusher" Johnson, overcorrected a brief moment of thoughtlessness with a hasty and inappropriate marriage proposal, straining his trust almost to the breaking point. He also noted that "Magnanimous" Ver Magnusson, the lone Icelandic entrant, may have tripped himself up with his longtime companion Marta by compensating for his terse nature with an "almost creepy" overabundance of expensive gifts.

Early reviews of the show have been overwhelmingly positive, with the target audience responding precisely as ESPN had hoped.

"WESMC is exactly the kind of thing I've always wanted in a competitive event," said viewer Emma Michaels, who posted her approval on the show's web site. "The way these talented emotional athletes can be so strong for others, bearing up under the crushing weight of sadness, shouldering the burdens of a fully mature relationship, never taking the cop-out of ‘letting a woman down easy,' and never cheating… This is the way these games are meant to be played."


Tub o' Vino

I like wine as much as the next girl, but I doubt I'd ever want to bathe in it.
At least consider the smell that would linger on your skin. [LINK]

For Spa-Goers, Wine by the Glass, or by the Bath
December 4, 2005
...here in the heart of the Sonoma Valley, at the nation's first vinotherapy spa, who wouldn't be in the mood ... for a cabernet bath?
Champagne facials, wine massages - these have been available at scattered spas across the country, from Beverly Hills, Calif., to Martha's Vineyard, Mass. But, for the "Sideways" set, the Kenwood Inn says it is the only American spa expressly dedicated to intoxicating all senses with fruits of the vine.

Science has long suggested a connection between polyphenols, which are found in grapes, and good health and longer life. American wine sales are booming. And regional treatments---papaya scrubs in the tropics, maple body wraps in Canada, even chocolate baths and massage in Hershey, Pa.---are hot.
pas have found that they can use their local environment as an attraction - "whether that means sea salt from the ocean or cactus flower from the desert," says Lynn Walker McNees, president of the International Spa Association. "Local and indigenous treatments help guests remember the time they spent at specific spas." It was but a matter of time before so-called vinotherapy - already a developing trend in Europe - hit big in California wine country and beyond, in the small towns and urban centers where Americans enjoy wines.

"Essential grape-seed oil, honey, salt," murmurs Diana, my vinotherapist, as she slathers grape mix onto my skin.

Yes, she says, she believes the scientific claims made about grapes and their anti-oxidizing powers.

"Look at the vines," she says, motioning, I think, outside the window. (I can't see; grape-seed mash has dripped into my eye.) "Vines endure forever. No matter what the weather. They grow and grow. And keep bearing fruit."


"Hustle & Flow" team hasn't seen the profits it expected.

From the LA Times (in case you're not registered, story below). Thanks to Jon Sparks for digging this up. Apparently the Hollywood stereotype is all too true, even when applied to legendary John Singleton: everyone's only out for his own; nobody watches each other's backs; and the worst of humanity flocks to the city that's all about the benjis.
What's weird is that the plot of the film has parallels with Brewer himself, the pimp with a heart of gold just tryin' to get his. Well, sort of. And the experience DJ has with Skinny Black reflects the experience Brewer is now having with Singleton. Sad. This does not bode well for Black Snake Moan, or the future of 'Hollywood South,' I'm afraid.

By Rachel Abramowitz, LA Times Staff Writer

A mere 10 months ago, the filmmakers, actors and producers of this year's Sundance sensation "Hustle & Flow" were celebrating the sale of their hip-hop romance about a pimp trying to rise above.

It seemed like a fairy tale ending to a grueling indie saga. After getting rejected all over town, novice filmmaker Craig Brewer finally persuaded producer John Singleton to pony up a couple of million dollars of his own money to make the film. Brewer, producer Stephanie Allain and actors Terrence Howard, Anthony Anderson, and DJ Qualls had all worked for close to scale in return for a piece of the profits. And now it looked like there was going to be a pot of gold for the filmmaking team.
After all, at this year's Sundance film festival in January, the film sparked a frenzied bidding war, which resulted in Paramount-MTV agreeing to pay producer and financier Singleton $9 million for the right to distribute the film, which only cost him close to $3.5 million to make, and paid him an additional $7 million to develop two more films.

But Brewer, for one, has yet to see a cent; neither have Anderson, Allain or Howard. And Singleton is publicly irate at being cast as the heavy by colleagues whose careers he effectively helped launch.

Unfortunately, profit disputes are a dime a dozen in Hollywood, but in this case, the dispute does not involve the gray-faced studio with tortuous studio accounting but the film's onetime savior: Singleton, best-known as the director of such films as "Boyz N the Hood" and "2 Fast 2 Furious." Indeed, during the 22-day Memphis, Tenn., shoot of "Hustle & Flow," Singleton and Brewer bonded over their mutual love of the raw hip-hop sound called Dirty South, the province of such rappers as Lil Jon and Ludacris, who also appeared in the film. The producer and his protégé were so similarly attuned that they often showed up on set wearing the same T-shirt.

Of course, money — or the absence of it — can put a crimp in all relationships.
According to Paramount, Singleton began getting multimillion-dollar chunks of payment in the spring and had received 99% of the $9-million fee around the time of the film's release in July. Ironically, for all its hoopla, "Hustle & Flow" only grossed $22 million dollars at the box office, according to Boxofficemojo.com, and it is unlikely that Paramount has yet recouped its outlay for the purchase and marketing of the film.

Still, Singleton is contractually obligated to share his profits from the $9-million sale with the creative team, said Brewer's attorney Mark Litwak. "Paramount did pay the vast majority of the money eight months ago. Craig worked for modest wages, to say the least, and he was promised a very reasonable and customary share of the back end. The issue has been raised repeatedly with John over the last six months, and frankly a lot of people are furious with John. I find it amazing that so much of the goodwill that John had generated by going into his own pocket to get the movie made — a lot of that goodwill has been lost now that he hasn't paid."

Singleton is equally miffed that all these people are shooting their mouths off about an accounting process they know nothing about. (Brewer, for instance, was just another struggling writer-director, while Howard was a knock-about character actor before "Hustle" came along.) Singleton claims that Paramount sent its first $2-million installment in May, and the rest of the money has dribbled out for months. All the while, he said, he's had to foot the bill for additional costs on the movie.

"I took all the financial risk on the film," he added. "We made a collective decision to do a professional mix for the film, and that cost was not covered by Paramount. That was covered by me. They're dealing with me as an individual and not as a studio — I had to act like a studio. I was making sure that no one would get paid until after all the bills would get paid. I always planned to pay everybody by the holidays."

"I don't like somebody saying I'm a shyster. I resent people making comments when everybody's life has been changed from 'Hustle & Flow.' Everyone has a career now."
Litwak, however, said that doesn't mean his client should forego what is owed him. "The fact that Craig has not been paid is not acceptable. This has been repeatedly communicated to John and his attorneys. John said numerous times in the spring that payment was imminent. Then it was everybody was going to get paid by Thanksgiving. Now it's the next holiday coming up."

Allain, who sold her home to have the money to live during the making of "Hustle & Flow," declined to comment.

She and Brewer have a new production deal at Paramount and have been making another film, "Black Snake Moan," which is coincidentally also being produced by Singleton.

"We're great," Singleton insisted. "We just finished another movie that I helped get made. I got that greenlight before 'Hustle & Flow' came out. This is a matter of business."

Said Litwak of his client and Singleton: "They continue to maintain a cordial relationship."


Long-Awaited Beer With Bush Really Awkward, Voter Reports

November 16, 2005 | Issue 41•46

WARREN, PA—Although respondents to a Pew poll taken prior to the 2004 presidential election characterized Bush as "the candidate they'd most like to sit down and have a beer with," Chris Reinard lived the hypothetical scenario Sunday afternoon, and characterized it as "really uncomfortable and awkward."

Reinard, a father of four who supported Bush in the 2000 and 2004 elections, said sharing a beer with the president at the Switchyard Tap gave him "an uneasy feeling."

"I thought he'd be great," Reinard said. "But when I actually met him, I felt real put off."

The president arrived at the bar via motorcade close to 3 p.m. After a sweep by Secret Service agents, Reinard was asked, for security reasons, to move from his favorite stool. Shortly after he had reseated himself, Reinard said he "was pleased" to welcome the president to the Switchyard.

"Boy, it sure is a good day for a cool one," Bush reportedly told the assembled patrons, who were watching the Dolphins­Patriots game.

"When he first walked in, everything seemed fine," bartender Bob Kern said. "He told everyone 'Hi' like he was one of the regulars, then sat next to Chris."

Reinard ordered two Budweisers, but Bush interrupted him, saying he'd prefer an O'Doul's non-alcoholic beer.

"I completely forgot he stopped drinking," Reinard said. [link]


Journalissimo's goin' 70's style today

The Nation demands we put an end to the "unprovoked, unnecessary and unlawful invasion that has turned into a colonial-style occupation" in Iraq, calling it "a growing stain on the honor of every American who acquiesces, actively or passively, in its conduct and continuation." Wow, I couldn't have said it better myself. Let's all protest the war and impeach the President for the holidays!


Environmentalists + Evangelists = strange bedfellows

Apparently the evangelists are finally reading all of the Bible, rather than the verses that hate on other people. They are beginning to interpret Genesis 2:15 as stating that humans are the caretakers of the Earth (no sh!t, what took you so long?). I don't think their elected representatives likey:

A major obstacle to any measure that would address global warming is Senator James M. Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican who is chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and an evangelical himself, but a skeptic of climate change caused by human activities.

Mr. Inhofe has led efforts to keep mandatory controls on greenhouse gases out of any emission reduction bill considered by his committee and has called human activities contributing to global warming "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people."

"You can always find in Scriptures a passage to misquote for almost anything," Mr. Inhofe said in an interview, dismissing the position of Mr. Cizik's association as "something very strange."

Mr. Inhofe said the vast majority of the nation's evangelical groups would oppose global warming legislation as inconsistent with a conservative agenda that also includes opposition to abortion rights and gay rights. He said the National Evangelical Association had been "led down a liberal path" by environmentalists and others who have convinced the group that issues like poverty and the environment are worth their efforts.

At the same time, Mr. Inhofe said he took the association's stance seriously because of the influence its leaders had on people who generally voted Republican. Evangelical groups including the Noah's Ark Foundation lobbied successfully in 1996 to block efforts by the House to weaken the Endangered Species Act. [link]

Umm, does this sound crazy to anyone else but me? The chief environmental official in the Senate is denying his own religious scripture's truth in an effort to make it easier for him to kiss corporate @ss? Beware of hypocrisy, kids---it'll blind you to all truth, eventually.


Love to hear it

Love hearing that Senate Democrats are (variously) "fighting back" --- "showing signs of life" --- and "showing some spine" in reaction to the two most recent Republican problems: the ongoing Plame scandal and the nomination of Alito to the USSC. Things are getting curioser and curioser, according to some. I think "things fall apart [when] the center cannot hold" any more.

Also love hearing Judith Miller is out, in the related case. I think(though obviously not everyone ) does) she behaved unethically and without any management supervision---what is the NYT thinking these days?


Lessons for New Orleans

Remember the Bowery: A Case Study in Gentrification
By Sarah Wash, Utne.com
November 3, 2005 Issue

The phrase "rebuilding the Gulf Coast" has buzzed through the media for several weeks. Terms like "rebuilding" and "redevelopment" raise red flags for many activists, though, because they're often code words for gentrification. But how can concerned citizens spot it in time to stop it? A look at the building boom in the Bowery in Manhattan might yield some clues.

The Bowery held out against gentrification for a long time, though it's now falling victim too, according to The Village Voice. Once a scrappy---and scary---mecca for artists and squatters, the famed Lower East Side street is now "a new millionaire's row."

One of the hallmarks of gentrification is a sudden, drastic change of rental markets in an area -- usually from working-class people and housing to wealthy professionals and office or retail space. Often the shift is hailed as improving a dangerous area, of which the Bowery in particular has a long history. The result of such radical change, however, is a rent spike that many cannot meet, resulting in mass evictions.

The best cure for gentrification is prevention. PolicyLink, a nonprofit organization advocating economic and social equity, claims that if a community fully participates in its own revitalization, it can have a say in its own future. The group pushes a tack called commercial stabilization, which aims to tailor commercial district improvement plans to neighborhoods' needs. But the communities have to get involved before it's too late. For New Orleans, that means now. [link]

Does the fact that I like the word "gentrification" mean I'm a bad person? I just wonder if it can be so bad for an area when rich people move into poor areas; I think that's a sign of vitality in a community myself. Yeah, eviction is a nightmare---especially when your rent quadruples on you---but I still think it interrupts a downward spiral. It's not like block-busting at all in that it creates wealth (by creating jobs through renovation and purchasing power) rather than eroding it.
It's like that woman who keeps her vigil outside the Civil Rights Museum (the former Lorraine Motel where Dr. King was assasinated) ---is she crazy or does she have a good point? Basically, she stays out there pretty much all the time protesting the gentrification of the area caused by the museum's creation. With all the visitors who go there to learn about the legacy of the civil rights movement, I would say she has lost that argument.


Death by Blog

Sexism reigns (not quite supreme) in the advertising world
WPP Executive Resigns Over Remarks on Women
From the New York Times
October 21, 2005

A well-known advertising executive and worldwide creative director at WPP Group resigned his position yesterday amid an uproar over remarks he made at an industry event about female creative executives. The comments, by Neil French, 61, drew attention to the absence of women at the highest levels of the creative side of the ad industry. ...

Mr. French told an audience in Toronto on Oct. 6 that women "don't make it to the top because they don't deserve to," saying their roles as caregivers and childbearers prevented them from succeeding in top positions.

Mr. French said he did not regret his remarks, but thought the reaction to them was "lunacy." "I'm extremely sad about it," said Mr. French, who has been widely pilloried on the Internet. "Death by blog is not really the way to go."


Mr. Roberts, your brain is waiting for you

Good article on Judge [sic] Roberts in The Progressive. There's so little out there, frankly because there is so little to know about him. His record as a judge is short, since he's only been serving a short time & is very young... plus, it's hard to judge what sort of judge a lawyer will make. His explaination time & again is that he was "on the payroll" when he wrote a certain brief, and then he won't give opinions on any past court decisions.
Be afraid... be very afraid.


News Briefs

US Group Calls for Health Warnings on Soft Drinks (Reuters)
A U.S. consumer group on Wednesday called for cigarette-style warnings on soft drinks to alert consumers that too much of the sugary beverages can make them fat and cause other health problems.

Healey backs bill for 'morning after' pill (The Boston Globe)
Breaking the administration's silence on emergency contraception, Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey said yesterday that she would push Governor Mitt Romney to sign a bill broadening access to the ''morning after" pill. [I don't know if anyone has watched the story of the resignation of an FDA official over their refusal to back the morning after pill; it's quite astounding that it hasn't gotten more attention in the "liberal" media. That was sarcasm, btw.]

House panel OK's changes in Patriot Act (AP)
The Republican-led House Intelligence Committee approved Democratic provisions yesterday that would place modest controls over the ways the FBI can monitor terrorism suspects under the Patriot Act.

Pentagon probe finds abuse at Guantanamo (The Age)
A Pentagon investigation has found interrogators at Guantanamo Bay violated the Geneva Convention. But a recommendation to reprimand the commander responsible has been rejected.

On Our Neighbors to the North:
Ottawa to pay same-sex survivor benefits pending Supreme Court ruling (CP)
The federal government will start paying widowed same-sex partners survivor benefits under the Canada Pension Plan, even though it's still fighting their claims in court.


Send in the Marines

I've been saying that for several days now, but it's not like I have a direct line to god (I mean Bush). So finally he's sending in the ones who can restore some semblance of order, maintain the peace, and operate in crisis condition without being given orders at every turn. From The Times:
The troops, who will start moving in today and will reach full strength by Tuesday, include some of the most battle-hardened men of the US forces.

The 82nd Airborne, the 1st Cavalry and the 1st and 2nd Marine Expeditionary Forces, all of which have seen action in Iraq, will bring relief to an estimated 30,000-60,000 people who have been stranded since New Orleans was flooded on Monday.

The Pentagon is also sending an additional 10,000 National Guardsmen to Louisiana and Mississippi, taking the total number of troops in the stricken region above 50,000. Among the guardsmen’s tasks will be to deal with snipers and looters who have hampered rescue services and terrified survivors.

Bush is experiencing a ferocious political backlash for his apparent failure to grasp the scale of the disaster sooner.
Don't you agree it's about time he experienced backlash for ONE of his very apparent failures? I can't even count them anymore, and though this may be his worst---not sure of that yet---unless we take action it won't be his last. We've got another 2 years, y'all.


* * * * *

We've got another good piece from The Times (the real one, not the NYT) on the inevitability of this disaster somewhere, if not in New Orleans. Here's a sample:
Katrina is a warning to city-dwellers across the globe. Many of the world’s greatest cities, from Shanghai to London, are also at risk from storm surges, and the threat is growing worse.

The reason is frighteningly simple — great cities are often great seaports, so they lie at sea level. And sea levels are rising. As the world grows warmer, the oceans expand with all the extra heat, just like a saucepan of water on a hot cooker. Added to that, freshwater is surging into the seas from all the glaciers melting around the polar caps and mountains. And there is another problem. Many of the big cities are sinking deeper into the ground. New Orleans has been sinking 3ft per century, whilst Shanghai sank 9ft in only 50 years in the last century. ...

The chances of [a storm surge similar to the one in the North Sea in 1953] happening again are increasing each year: by the 2080s the risk will be 17 times greater than in 1953. That is why the Thames Flood Barrier was built, despite the politicians dragging their feet over costs. Yet without that barrier Westminster would have been under water years ago.



My favorite, Jack Shafer on NPR, talks about what no one else dares to mention: Most of the people left behind in the coastal areas are African-American. Why? Because they disporportionately make up the desperately poor, who had no means of evacuation.

To be sure, some reporters sidled up to the race and class issue. I heard them ask the storm's New Orleans victims why they hadn't left town when the evacuation call came. Many said they were broke—"I live from paycheck to paycheck," explained one woman. Others said they didn't own a car with which to escape and that they hadn't understood the importance of evacuation.
But I don't recall any reporter exploring the class issue directly by getting a paycheck-to-paycheck victim to explain that he couldn't risk leaving because if he lost his furniture and appliances, his pots and pans, his bedding and clothes, to Katrina or looters, he'd have no way to replace them. No insurance, no stable, large extended family that could lend him cash to get back on his feet, no middle-class job to return to after the storm.
What accounts for the broadcasters' timidity? I saw only a couple of black faces anchoring or co-anchoring but didn't see any black faces reporting from New Orleans. So, it's safe to assume that the reluctance to talk about race on the air was a mostly white thing. That would tend to imply that white people don't enjoy discussing the subject. But they do, as long as they get to call another white person racist.

Race remains largely untouchable for TV because broadcasters sense that they can't make an error without destroying careers. That's a true pity. If the subject were a little less taboo, one of last night's anchors could have asked a reporter, "Can you explain to our viewers, who by now have surely noticed, why 99 percent of the New Orleans evacuees we're seeing are African-American? I suppose our viewers have noticed, too, that the provocative looting footage we're airing and re-airing seems to depict mostly African-Americans."[LINK]
But race IS an issue here---just look at these images and captions from the newswires. Apparently looting is only stealing if you're black. And correct me if I am wrong, but if I can either starve or take food from a store that isn't selling anything because it's flooded, not operating, and the stuff will just rot anyway... well, I'm breaking the commandment in that case, sorry.

All credit to Observatorium for the images.


More on N'Orleans

There is a little trickle of information coming out of the city right now. I heard some stories on NPR's TOTN after class tonight, but didn't get enough info to pass on.
This was a good one from before the storm:

Hurricane Katrina could turn New Orleans into Atlantis,
leave over 1 million people homeless

When Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans today, it could turn one of America's most charming cities into a vast cesspool tainted with toxic chemicals, human waste and even coffins released by floodwaters from the city's legendary cemeteries.
Eeew. I forgot about all the historic cemetaries. I do know that they are ordering a complete evacuation of the city, at least for the next 3 months. There are a lot of concerns growing about dysentery and other health problems. Plus, how much is it worth to drink untreated water dead bodies have been decomposing in? Think about it.
This story---in the Times UK---from the Mississippi coast is good [LINK].
Check out this map of New Orleans' downtown activity.


President Stays on Vacation

Declares 'Nothing I can do now, folks' to hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast

Crawford, TX--In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Bush In a candid moment at his ranch, the President told reporters he would not cut his usual month of vacation there short. "There's really nothing I can do now, folks, so I'm gonna come back to the city next week like we planned."
In the wake of a media uproar about his comments, the White House released a statement which said Mr Bush would cut short his summer holiday by three days and return to Washington from his Texas ranch today to help to monitor the efforts to assist Katrina’s victims.

[Just kidding, but that's how I feel!]


There is no news today

Seriously. Look at the NYT. Look at the UK Times. Look at Google News. Click on all the links in the right column on this page. Nuttin' goin' on. Zip.
  1. There is a computer worm/bot going around. Oooh, I'm scared. News outlets will have to interrupt their IT ppls' busy schedules for the next few days to fix that. Tragedy. Effect on my life: 0 on a 1-10 scale.
  2. Israelis are finally getting out of less than 1/10 of the area they've stolen from Palestine. Effect on my life: 1 on a 1-10 scale.
  3. That woman still can't get a private audience with tha Prez. Effect on my life: 0 on a 1-10 scale.


Well, they do say no news is good news. Enjoy your day.


Hey ho, Let's go!

Walken 4 Prez
Walken on Campaign Finance Reform:
"I believe that campaign finance is a very tough issue, with good points on both sides; but I feel, as a wealthy American, that I should have no more say than even the least fortunate American citizen. That is why I am for campaign finance reform."

Walken on Military Funding:
"I am a huge supporter of the military. I have always thought of them as our guardians, and when our guardians are making less than the poverty line, and children are suffering because their parents decided to join the military, well, I get very upset. I feel that instead of sending billions to the Pentagon's pet projects, it should go to the troops."
While I don't believe an acting career qualifies you for politics, I don't believe it should be a barrier. I think some of the qualifications are very similar. Ted Kennedy probably would have made a better actor than Senator. And Harrison Ford might have been a better diplomat than action hero.

Anyway, I will keep tabs on his candidacy & let you know how it goes.


Pennsylvania inmates urge new ways to curb crime

Straight from the horse's mouth. Well, via Yahoo news.
PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Inmates serving life sentences at a Pennsylvania prison have adopted a unique tactic to promote a program of personal change for fellow convicts and help end a culture of crime that boosts the U.S. prison population.

The program, which goes beyond traditional rehabilitation regimes to "transform" offenders, was presented by the convicts themselves at the maximum-security Graterford prison outside Philadelphia to academics attending the World Congress of Criminology, held this week at the University of Pennsylvania.

Academics hailed the meeting as a unique event in criminology and said the prisoners' program offered a fresh chance to end the cycle of crime that helps fill America's overflowing prisons.

"Never before have distinguished academics agreed to spend the day in prison discussing the causes of crime with inmates," said Susanne Karstedt, program chair of the conference and a professor at Britain's Keele University.

Some 70 inmates in brown prison uniforms welcomed some 150 delegates to the prison, the sixth-largest maximum-security jail in the United States, with 3,425 inmates, 770 of whom are serving life sentences.

The prisoners' group, calling itself LIFERS, has met each Saturday night at Graterford for about the last two years to conduct its "transformation" program with other inmates who have at least the prospect of release.

Inmates who take part in the program are urged to renounce street codes such as revenge, violence and materialism and replace them with what the lifers see as more genuine traits of manhood such as honesty, restraint and responsibility.

The inmates, many of whom have no chance of parole, say attempts by police, academics or social workers to end the culture of street crime and violence in many American cities is doomed to failure because such outsiders have no credibility.

Only those who have lived the street culture have a chance of persuading its members to change their behavior and abandon codes of machismo that often create urban mayhem, they said.

"You can have any number of academic theories, but the youth isn't going to take it from you because you don't have credibility," said Kevin, a 33-year-old convicted of murder and imprisoned for life without parole in 1991. The state Department of Corrections does not allow inmates' last names to be used.

Tyrone, a 55-year-old who has been in prison for murder since he was 25, said: "We know the street crime culture. We know how to address it and those currently living within it."

The lifers argue that the soaring prison population is evidence that traditional methods of crime deterrence and prevention have failed and that new methods must be explored.

Pennsylvania's prison population is about 40,000, eight times its level in 1970. Nationally, about 2 million people are behind bars.

By Jon Hurdle Tue Aug 9


Warrant shows Sunrise police were looking for drugs in shooting

Published Sunday, August 7, 2005

The Associated Press
... Anthony Andrew Diotaiuto, 23, of Sunrise, was pronounced dead on the scene of his home Friday.

Police spokesman Lt. Robert Voss said Diotaiuto was armed and possibly pointed his gun at police when two SWAT team officers shot him. [emphasis mine]

Police thought there was drug dealing going on in the home, and that there might be violence because Diotaiuto had a valid concealed weapons permit, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Sunday.

According to the search warrant, the police were looking for money, bookkeeping records, firearms and other evidence that Diotaiuto was a drug dealer. The warrant was provided to the newspaper by Diotaiuto's family.

Cannabis and drug paraphernalia, along with firearms and a BB gun, were listed as items seized, but the warrant did not specify the amount of drugs or what type of paraphernalia was confiscated.
Friends said Diotaiuto was not a drug dealer and described him a hardworking and caring person. Outside his home on Saturday, a poster apparently addressed to police read: "Did you find what you were looking for?"

Flowers, stuffed animals and candles were part of a memorial erected on the sidewalk by mourners.

"That was a waste of a life," said neighbor Merissa Keefe.
If someone is not arraigned and convicted for this, we should all be seriously pissed off.
Note to Memphis Police:
If you come into my house, weapons ready, please do not shoot me for possibly aiming a gun at you. I do not have one and it is probably just my bong I am holding in front of me.
via Say Uncle [LINK]


Something new to fear:

Your own shoes, apparently....
Wearing trendy flip flops could kill you, according to new research. The fashionable footwear - ideal for the beach in hot weather - are putting the lives of road users at risk. ...

[R]oad safety experts have warned that wearing the sandals in the car could be a lethal decision.

Researchers claim a flip flop, worn by millions, can easily get stuck under the pedals and cause a fatal accident, The Sun says.

This is why you should be able to drive barefoot, peoplez. It's legal in Arkansas!



Sir Robin Cook Dies, aged 59

When I die, I prefer it to be quick like this. And I want to be able to say this:

Earlier this year he declared he had no regrets. “I only feel a sense of relief, strengthened every time I reflect on the failure of the Americans to find these weapons of mass disappearance,” he said. [LINK]

Last night Tony Blair paid tribute, saying: “Robin was an outstanding, extraordinary talent — brilliant, incisive in debate, of incredible skill and persuasive power. “Though we disagreed over Iraq, I always respected the way in which he put his case.”

The only son of a headmaster from a Lanarkshire mining family, he was a keen hillwalker and spent his summer holidays with close family and friends enjoying the Highlands. [LINK]


I admired and valued Robin as a colleague and friend and as one of the greatest parliamentarians of our time
— Gordon Brown

I used to joke with him that he was born with a red beard and a copy of The Guardian under his arm
— Lord Foulkes, Labour peer


He was piercingly brilliant — funny and forensic, brave and cunning, a democratic socialist and humanitarian in every atom
— Lord and Lady Kinnock

He was such great fun. He loved racing and came down to meetings even when he was foreign secretary
— John McCririck, racing pundit and friend

In opposition he destroyed the careers of several ministers and in government he was never bested
— Sir Menzies Campbell, Liberal Democrat MP

Vade in Pace.



You know how people talk about visions that reveal some larger truth to them---usually something that smacks you between the eyes DUH! when you see it---and after you see it, you think, How could I not have noticed that before?
I remember a guy I had a v. brief crush on in high school, Ricky Presley, and one day when I'd known him for a year someone mentioned his stutter to me. I thought, HUH? What stutter? and the next time I talked to him, guess what. I had just never noticed before (of course after that, I was always aware of it).
This picture is a great example of imagery. Rove is sinking into the background, all pasty and bloated like a Mafioso, and Bush has his hand up saying what his opinion of something is. Only it's not really his opinion. It's like Bush thinks he's calling the shots, but we can all see the puppet master over his shoulder. What I want to know is this:
Who's the angel on his left shoulder?
(I'm afraid there's not one.)

The Secrets Are Out!

I've suspected it all along, but this from Kevin @ Lean Left proves my theory: The less manly you feel, the more manly you have to act (if you're a man, that is). Not so for women---the less feminine we feel, the more butch we can act. And you say it's better to be a man in our society!

In related news, the study begun this spring about Daily Show watchers being better informed politically has been completed. I think there's another point here, which is that you are better informed watching the SNL newscast once a week instead of your local news every night. Just my hypothesis. via Signposts


US Lags Behind in Global Binge Drinking Rates

It looks like the US has some catching up to do!



Check out this mini-review

Kevin at Lean Left is doing a review of Evidence of Harm as he reads thru it. Interesting synopsis so far (I will refrain from endorsing it until I see if I agree---he's only up to Ch. 4 so far). The EOH site is a good quick look at the issue (check out his PPT pres. for #s).


No Vaccine-Autism Link, Parents Are Told

You'll get better & more complete information from Evidence of Harm or Robert F. Kennedy Jr. The autism epidemic affects 1 in 166 children born each year.

NYT July 20, 2005
WASHINGTON, July 19 - Top officials from three of the nation's premier public health agencies held an unusual news conference on Tuesday to say that childhood vaccines are life-saving medicines with no proven link to autism.

"The science says very clearly that vaccines save lives and protect our children," said one of the officials, Dr. Julie L. Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To many, that declaration might have seemed akin to an announcement so basic as that high cholesterol readings are linked with heart disease. But the officials felt a need to make a forceful defense of vaccines because a growing number of parents contend that a mercury-containing vaccine preservative called thimerosal caused their children to become autistic. Indeed, several parents held a vigil outside the news conference, with one holding a large sign blaming vaccines for her child's disorder. [Did you know that mercury is the 2nd most toxic substance on earth behind plutonium?]

Representative Dave Weldon, a Florida Republican who champions the notion that thimerosal has caused an explosion of autism cases around the world, attended the news conference and, after it ended, gave his own press briefing criticizing the public health officials.

"It seemed that this was an effort to assuage public concerns, but I think parents are much smarter than some people give them credit for," said Mr. Weldon, who was a practicing physician before his election to the House in 1994.

Thimerosal was largely [but not completely] removed from all childhood vaccines in 2001. Flu shots were an exception, and Mr. Weldon has sponsored legislation to ban preservative levels of thimerosal from them as well. [The other exception is vaccines manufactured for distribution outside the US; it's not safe enough for us, but it's safe enough for LDC's like China and Africa.]

Joining Dr. Gerberding at the news conference were Dr. Duane Alexander, director of the National Institute of Child Health Development, and Dr. Murray M. Lumpkin, acting deputy commissioner for international and special programs at the Food and Drug Administration.

All said they were sympathetic to the problems faced by parents with autistic children. "We want the parents of children with autism to know that we are listening to their concerns," Dr. Alexander said.

The National Institutes of Health has quadrupled financing for autism research since 1997, he said, to $102 million in the current fiscal year. [However, vaccine promotion now stands at over

Dr. Lumpkin said doctors wanted parents to examine the data concerning vaccines so that they will realize, he said, that the benefits of the medicines far outweigh their risks.

Three other experts joined the officials at the news conference. Among them was Dr. Peter Hotez, a vaccine researcher at George Washington University, who is the father of a 12-year-old autistic daughter.

Dr. Hotez said her condition had "come close to tearing our family apart." But he said he and his wife were convinced that their daughter's autism was "not related to vaccines." [Not that they have any information to tell them otherwise, or any ideas about what did cause it... that' s real intelligent, don'tcha think?]

"We need a war on autism," he said, "not a war on childhood vaccines."


Life imitates art (in the ornithological realm)

Well, kinda sorta. Apparently mobile phones are so prevalent that birds in Germany are imitating the more common ringtones. I guess it had to happen sometime. [LINK]
Jackdaws, starlings and jays were the best mimics, Schneider said adding that even practiced birdwatchers were being fooled by the birds.

One reason for the phenomenon was that these birds were increasingly common in the urban environment, even the relatively shy jay, he said. "There is food and an increasing amount of green space in modern cities."

The birds were simply adapting to their environment in imitating human sounds in what he termed an "evolutionary playground".

Many of the more common ring tones are themselves imitations of bird calls, so the birds are in some instances mimicking another species.
I don't think my phone has that capability, although I do have Chic's "Good Times" (which also sounds like the Sugar Hill Gang's "Rapper's Delight" in case ya don't know disco). Sometimes when people call I just like to let it ring... it's that good.