Thursday, February 28, 2008

McCain’s Canal Zone Birth Prompts Queries About Whether That Rules Him Out

New York Times: "WASHINGTON — The question has nagged at the parents of Americans born outside the continental United States for generations: Dare their children aspire to grow up and become president? In the case of Senator John McCain of Arizona, the issue is becoming more than a matter of parental daydreaming.
Mr. McCain’s likely nomination as the Republican candidate for president and the happenstance of his birth in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936 are reviving a musty debate that has surfaced periodically since the founders first set quill to parchment and declared that only a “natural-born citizen” can hold the nation’s highest office.
Almost since those words were written in 1787 with scant explanation, their precise meaning has been the stuff of confusion, law school review articles, whisper campaigns and civics class debates over whether only those delivered on American soil can be truly natural born. To date, no American to take the presidential oath has had an official birthplace outside the 50 states.
“There are powerful arguments that Senator McCain or anyone else in this position is constitutionally qualified, but there is certainly no precedent,” said Sarah H. Duggin, an associate professor of law at Catholic University who has studied the issue extensively. “It is not a slam-dunk situation.”
Mr. McCain was born on a military installation in the Canal Zone, where his mother and father, a Navy officer, were stationed. His campaign advisers say they are comfortable that Mr. McCain meets the requirement and note that the question was researched for his first presidential bid in 1999 and reviewed again this time around."

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Diebold Accidentally Leaks Results Of 2008 Election Early

The Onion:

Diebold Accidentally Leaks Results Of 2008 Election Early

Fewer Youths Jump Behind the Wheel at 16

New York Times: "DETROIT — For generations, driver’s licenses have been tickets to freedom for America’s 16-year-olds, prompting many to line up at motor vehicle offices the day they were eligible to apply.
No longer. In the last decade, the proportion of 16-year-olds nationwide who hold driver’s licenses has dropped from nearly half to less than one-third, according to statistics from the Federal Highway Administration.
Reasons vary, including tighter state laws governing when teenagers can drive, higher insurance costs and a shift from school-run driver education to expensive private driving academies.
To that mix, experts also add parents who are willing to chauffeur their children to activities, and pastimes like surfing the Web that keep them indoors and glued to computers.
Jaclyn Frederick, 17, of suburban Detroit, is a year past the age when she could get a Michigan license. She said she planned to apply for one eventually, but sees no rush.
“Oh, I guess I just haven’t done it yet, you know?” said Jaclyn, a senior at Ferndale High School, in Ferndale, Mich.
“I get rides and stuff, so I’m not worried about it. I’ll get around to it, maybe this summer sometime.”
Until she does, she has company. The national rate of licensed 16-year-olds dropped to 29.8 percent in 2006 from 43.8 percent in 1998, according to the Federal Highway Administration.
The falling rate of teenage drivers is perplexing to Michael T. Marsden, an expert on car culture and dean of St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wis.
“It’s a big change in a major American ritual of driving as early as possible,” Mr. Marsden said.
The way students learn has undergone a major change, too. Twenty-five years ago most teenagers took driver’s education in their local schools. But the number of school systems offering the program has plummeted to about 20 percent today, from 90 percent in the 1980s, said Allen R. Robinson, chief executive of the American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association, which represents high school and commercial driver education instructors.
“High schools are out of the business because of the cost,” said Henning Mortensen, owner of Bond Driving School in Sacramento.
Commercial driving academies have stepped in to fill the gap. For example, in Louisiana, the number of private schools has grown to about 60 this year, from just two in 1993, said Sheila Vernado, a spokeswoman for the Driving School Association of the Americas, which represents owners of commercial driving agencies.
In contrast to high schools, which offered driver’s education as a regular class or for a modest fee during the summer, driving schools charge higher rates. Mr. Mortensen, who has been in business since 1990, said his average program runs about $400."

John McCain May be Old, but He's Still the White Guy

Katha Pollit - The Nation: "Liberal smarties and sophisticates are having fun mocking John McCain , but assuming he gets the nomination, he will a formidable candidate. He may look like a grumpy old man -- specifically, as my friend Kathleen Geier joked, the grumpy old man who yells at kids to get off his lawn -- or the nutty old uncle who rags on everyone at Thanksgiving before passing out in front of the football game. But that's another way of saying McCain is a familiar, indeed family, character. It does not require an imaginative stretch to get John McCain. How many voters know someone like Barack Obama?
McCain is white, male, patriarchal, a war hero with decades in the Senate. So what if he's old? In politics old can be good ( for men), especially to the older voters -- older white voters -- who dominate the polls. Besides, McCain's not so old that he couldn't get himself a much younger trophy wife, and even if Cindy McCain looks brittle and unhappy and like she hasn't eaten in a decade, she is always there by his side, a visual reminder of his manly prowess. McCain is brash and sly and seemingly unguarded, unlike the famously self-protective Hillary Clinton, and he loves to schmooze with reporters, who adore him and like most of the rest of America, refuse to see how conservative he is. It's like they're saying, Oh go on, Uncle John! you're just saying you love Sam Alito to get me riled up!
Obama v. McCain could be change/youth/black/exciting/internationalist against experience/maturity/white/steady/superpatriot. Put that way, it could come down to how many white male Democrats, who might vote for Hillary, won't vote for a black man, let alone one whose middle name is Hussein. They won't care about McCain's favors for business --too complicated, and anyway everyone does it -- and they certainly won't care if he had an affair with lovely lobbyist Vicki Iseman, as the New York Times sorta-kinda suggested. They might like him even better for that.
We've been patting ourselves on the back a lot for having a black and a woman vying for top spot on the ticket of one of the two major parties. November will tell us whether or not we have really come all that far."

Monday, February 25, 2008

Media Blackout Update: Pakistan and Alabama?

New York Times Blog: "Governments that try to keep a firm grip on information flow in their countries, like the Kremlin, have used “technical problems” as an excuse to shut out unwelcome content on the Web and television. But could it have happened in the United States?
A controversy has been brewing on the Web since a “60 Minutes” segment failed to appear on a CBS affiliated TV station in Alabama last night. The report covered a bitter flashpoint between Democrats and the Bush administration: the case of Don Siegelman, a former Democratic governor of Alabama who was jailed for corruption last June.
So hot was the anticipation of the segment in left-leaning circles that one political site published an article, “Bama TIVOs at the ready for ‘60 Minutes’.” But many Alabamans did not see initial broadcast of the report, which included new allegations that Karl Rove, President Bush’s former top adviser, waged a campaign against Mr. Siegelman.
Instead, just before the segment was to start, people in the northern part of the state who were tuned in to WHNT-TV, Channel 19 in Huntsville, found this on their screen instead:
We apologize that you missed the first segment of 60 Minutes tonight featuring ‘The Prosecution of Don Siegelman.’ It was a technical problem with CBS out of New York.
Upon hearing reports of the missed segment from readers, Scott Horton, a writer blogging at Harper’s, phoned CBS headquarters in New York, which offered him a startling contradiction:
“There is no delicate way to put this: the WHNT claim is not true. There were no transmission difficulties. The problems were peculiar to Channel 19, which had the signal and had functioning transmitters.” I was told that the decision to blacken screens across Northern Alabama “could only have been an editorial call.”
The station later denied that it was an editorial decision, but it also changed its explanation. It was the receiver of the signal in Alabama, not the feed from CBS, that caused the blackout, the network said in a statement."

Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business

Wired: "At the age of 40, King Gillette was a frustrated inventor, a bitter anticapitalist, and a salesman of cork-lined bottle caps. It was 1895, and despite ideas, energy, and wealthy parents, he had little to show for his work. He blamed the evils of market competition. Indeed, the previous year he had published a book, The Human Drift, which argued that all industry should be taken over by a single corporation owned by the public and that millions of Americans should live in a giant city called Metropolis powered by Niagara Falls. His boss at the bottle cap company, meanwhile, had just one piece of advice: Invent something people use and throw away.
One day, while he was shaving with a straight razor that was so worn it could no longer be sharpened, the idea came to him. What if the blade could be made of a thin metal strip? Rather than spending time maintaining the blades, men could simply discard them when they became dull. A few years of metallurgy experimentation later, the disposable-blade safety razor was born. But it didn't take off immediately. In its first year, 1903, Gillette sold a total of 51 razors and 168 blades. Over the next two decades, he tried every marketing gimmick he could think of. He put his own face on the package, making him both legendary and, some people believed, fictional. He sold millions of razors to the Army at a steep discount, hoping the habits soldiers developed at war would carry over to peacetime. He sold razors in bulk to banks so they could give them away with new deposits ("shave and save" campaigns). Razors were bundled with everything from Wrigley's gum to packets of coffee, tea, spices, and marshmallows. The freebies helped to sell those products, but the tactic helped Gillette even more. By giving away the razors, which were useless by themselves, he was creating demand for disposable blades. A few billion blades later, this business model is now the foundation of entire industries: Give away the cell phone, sell the monthly plan; make the videogame console cheap and sell expensive games; install fancy coffeemakers in offices at no charge so you can sell managers expensive coffee sachets.
Thanks to Gillette, the idea that you can make money by giving something away is no longer radical. But until recently, practically everything "free" was really just the result of what economists would call a cross-subsidy: You'd get one thing free if you bought another, or you'd get a product free only if you paid for a service.
Over the past decade, however, a different sort of free has emerged. The new model is based not on cross-subsidies — the shifting of costs from one product to another — but on the fact that the cost of products themselves is falling fast. It's as if the price of steel had dropped so close to zero that King Gillette could give away both razor and blade, and make his money on something else entirely. (Shaving cream?)
You know this freaky land of free as the Web. A decade and a half into the great online experiment, the last debates over free versus pay online are ending. In 2007 The New York Times went free; this year, so will much of The Wall Street Journal. (The remaining fee-based parts, new owner Rupert Murdoch announced, will be "really special ... and, sorry to tell you, probably more expensive." This calls to mind one version of Stewart Brand's original aphorism from 1984: "Information wants to be free. Information also wants to be expensive ... That tension will not go away.")"

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Police: Boyfriend on roof punches weaving driver

CNN.com: "HAVERSTRAW, New York (AP) -- A man fighting with his girlfriend clung to a car roof and punched her through the window as she drove more than a mile on a busy road, hitting several other cars, police said.
Both were hurt in the brawl Saturday and were arrested, police Sgt. Manfredo Figueroa said.
The man, William Kremer, apparently jumped onto the car and held on as girlfriend Stacey Sperrazza wove along Route 202 with the car's air bag inflated, police said. She eventually stopped the car and hit him with it, police said.
Sperrazza, 37, of Stony Point, was arrested on a felony charge of reckless endangerment. Kremer, 42, of Haverstraw, was arrested on a misdemeanor assault charge.
No telephone numbers could be found for the two. Police had no immediate information early Sunday on whether they had lawyers.
He was treated for a foot injury, she for eye and head wounds, police said."

The Claim: Honey Can Soothe a Burn

New York Times: "Home remedies for soothing mild burns run the gamut, from aloe vera gel to butter. Most that have been around for ages are clearly bad ideas. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that applying butter or various popular ointments, for example, can increase the risk of infection. But at least one remedy, honey, has held up well.
In studies of quick and easy treatments to soothe mild burns, scientists have found that honey has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that may promote healing. One study in 2006, examining results of more than a dozen previous studies, found that small, nonserious burns healed faster when treated with gauze and a dash of honey, on average, than those treated with antibiotic creams and other dressings. A separate report published earlier found similar results.
Medical doctors say the tried and true method for healing small burns remains applying a wet compress, immersing it in cool water and then covering the area with a sterile, nonadhesive bandage. But for those who prefer using natural remedies to soothe discomfort, honey may be a decent option."

Insurance Fears Lead Many to Shun DNA Tests

New York Times: "Victoria Grove wanted to find out if she was destined to develop the form of emphysema that ran in her family, but she did not want to ask her doctor for the DNA test that would tell her.
She worried that she might not be able to get health insurance, or even a job, if a genetic predisposition showed up in her medical records, especially since treatment for the condition, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, could cost over $100,000 a year. Instead, Ms. Grove sought out a service that sent a test kit to her home and returned the results directly to her.
Nor did she tell her doctor when the test revealed that she was virtually certain to get it. Knowing that she could sustain permanent lung damage without immediate treatment for her bouts of pneumonia, she made sure to visit her clinic at the first sign of infection.
But then came the day when the nurse who listened to her lungs decided she just had a cold. Ms. Grove begged for a chest X-ray. The nurse did not think it was necessary.
“It was just an ongoing battle with myself,” recalled Ms. Grove, of Woodbury, Minn. “Should I tell them now or wait till I’m sicker?”
The first, much-anticipated benefits of personalized medicine are being lost or diluted for many Americans who are too afraid that genetic information may be used against them to take advantage of its growing availability.
In some cases, doctors say, patients who could make more informed health care decisions if they learned whether they had inherited an elevated risk of diseases like breast and colon cancer refuse to do so because of the potentially dire economic consequences.
Others enter a kind of genetic underground, spending hundreds or thousands of dollars of their own money for DNA tests that an insurer would otherwise cover, so as to avoid scrutiny. Those who do find out they are likely or certain to develop a particular genetic condition often beg doctors not to mention it in their records."

Saturday, February 23, 2008

A Symbol Turns 50

by Rain
From Democracy Now!:
Peace Sign Turns 50
And finally the peace sign turns 50 years old today. Over the past five decades the peace sign has become one of the world’s enduring icons. The original peace sign was developed in1958 by a British textile designer and conscientious objector named Gerald Holtom. He created the symbol by combining the semaphore letters N and D, for nuclear disarmament. On Feb. 21, 1958 the symbol was accepted by the Direct Action Committee Against Nuclear war. The symbol soon began to be used in anti-nuclear protests across Britain and then spread across the globe.
I did not know that the symbol derives from “Nuclear Disarmament” – did you? There is more about its genesis here:
The symbol itself is a combination of the semaphoric signals for the letters "N" and "D," standing for Nuclear Disarmament. In semaphore the letter "N" is formed by a person holding two flags in an upside-down "V," and the letter "D" is formed by holding one flag pointed straight up and the other pointed straight down. These two signals imposed over each other form the shape of the peace symbol. In the original design the lines widened at the edge of the circle.[3]
A conscientious objector who had worked on a farm in Norfolk during the Second World War, Holtom later wrote to Hugh Brock, editor of Peace News, explaining the genesis of his idea in greater depth: "I was in despair. Deep despair. I drew myself: the representative of an individual in despair, with hands palm outstretched outwards and downwards in the manner of Goya’s peasant before the firing squad. I formalised the drawing into a line and put a circle round it."
Some things just don’t date or go out of fashion. A quick Google for peace sign jewelry – or peace sign anything – will show you that the peace sign is as alive and relevant as it ever was. Perhaps it has lost some counter-culture edge -- you don't hear so much of it being a sign of the devil anymore.
Nope. It’s gone mainstream. Would that its message would, as well.

Are big cats back on Midwestern prowl?

More analysis is needed, but Wisconsin man's story suggests eastward migration
By Bob Secter | TRIBUNE REPORTER
February 22, 2008

MILTON, Wis. - Kevin Edwardson has been trapping wild animals for years, but he wasn't prepared for the creature that lunged at him from a hay mound in an abandoned barn last month.
It was a cat. A very big cat.
For a fleeting moment, Edwardson found himself face to face with a cougar, a majestic and reclusive predator that ranged the continent in pioneer days but was long ago driven from nearly everywhere east of the Rocky Mountains.
"It just blew me away," said Edwardson, 45. "It jumped once toward me and then took off through a big gap in the wall. It was so graceful it looked like a bird flying through the air."
Bounding 12 feet at a leap, the cat fled into the snowy woods near this southern Wisconsin town, about 25 miles from the Illinois border. It hasn't surfaced since, but experts here are convinced Edwardson's story is real and marks the first confirmed sighting of a cougar in Wisconsin in more than a century.
It could also represent evidence of the easternmost push of the big cats back into the Midwest.
Illinois wildlife officials, like those in Wisconsin and other states, are frequently flooded with reports of cougar sightings. Often, though not always, they can be quickly dismissed as dogs, coyotes, bobcats or the product of vivid imaginations.
But the Milton cat apparently cut a paw as it fled the barn and left traces of blood in its tracks. DNA analysis confirms that blood came from a cougar, also known as a mountain lion, puma or panther.
Officials are awaiting the results of further DNA tests to determine the sex -- likely a male if the cougar is truly wild -- and the subspecies. If its genes are linked to South American lions, then it is probably a fugitive from somebody's exotic pet collection. North American genes wouldn't flatly rule out that possibility, but they also could suggest a more intriguing scenario.
Cats on the move
Ecologists say cougar habitats in the Rockies and Black Hills have become crowded over the last few decades, leading young males to venture out in what are less migrations than they are feline reconnaissance missions into far-flung territory.
The turn east is a simple call of nature. In the Great Plains and Midwest, cougars instantly become the undisputed top predator, with few wolves and no grizzly bears to compete for prey. And the pickings are easy, with woods and fields teeming with that most delectable of mountain lion treats: deer.
"The banquet is open," explained Clay Nielsen, a wildlife ecologist at Southern Illinois University's Carbondale campus. He is also scientific research director for The Cougar Network, which tracks cougar populations.
Since 1990, Nielsen's group has confirmed dozens of sightings from the Great Plains to Minnesota, Iowa and Missouri. House cats may recoil at water, but their big cousins are undeterred by rivers like the Mississippi, and at least two appear to have crossed to Illinois this decade.
In 2000, a train struck and killed a 110-pound male in Randolph County southeast of St. Louis. In 2004, a bow hunter in Mercer County southwest of the Quad Cities killed a 95-pound male.
Before that, the last confirmed sighting of a wild cougar in Illinois was in 1862 at the state's southern tip.
Cougars could easily maul a human, yet it rarely happens. Nocturnal and intensively secretive, they avoid contact with people.
But that shyness also makes it difficult to verify sighting claims or pinpoint whether a cat is definitely wild. It's possible to buy cougars for pets -- though not always legally -- and captives have been known to get loose. Some display telltale signs of captivity such as tags, collars or a familiarity with humans.
That was a giveaway a few years ago at a state conservation area west of Springfield when a cougar suddenly emerged from the brush, according to John Buhnerkempe, division chief for wildlife resources at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
Experts knew instantly it wasn't wild because it sidled up to the site superintendent and rubbed against him like a kitty, Buhnerkempe said.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Open Letter: Willie Nelson, I love you

Dear Willie,

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love Willie Nelson. The music, the style, the attitude: as far as American icons go, I don't think it gets better. I first saw you open up for Dylan in a ball park in Peoria, rain-pouring, lightning flashing. My beer cup was filling up with rain faster than I could drink it back down again. Lightning would strike behind the bandstand, and the crowd would roar like it was a Stones encore, even though your sweet voice was merely crooning "Georgia, geooorgiiaaa." You upstaged my super hero Bob Dylan, and its been downhill ever since.

The last time I saw you was at a gun club off of Interstage 80 in my own hometown. Nothing could have endeared you to me more than playing to real folks on our own territory. That inspired a pretty good Willie Nelson costume for Halloween this year, except being that I'm a woman, I had to prompt people a little before they realized I wasn't just some sort of dark anti-Dolly Parton cowboy.

Oh, Willie. I'm writing this letter now because you've managed somehow to find a way to impress me even more. Way more. First of all, you're helping out Amy Goodman and the patriots at Democracy Now with their fundraiser and managed to take time to be interviewed for the show. That's HUGE. Don't let me get started on Ms. Goodman and how much I respect what they're doing...

But you've completely blown my mind by being interviewed by Alex Jones. Wow. The man who's put such terms as "Prison Planet," "New World Order," and "Bildeberger Group" into the average far left's vernacular.

I always knew you got "it." I always knew you loved this country. But I never really knew how MUCH. Goddamn it Willie! What more can I say? Except maybe THANK YOU a hundred times over.

Sincerely,
Kelly R. Barron

http://www.democracynow.org/2008/2/21/
musical_legend_willie_nelson_on_farm

http://www.jonesreport.com/article/02_08/
190208_willie_impeach.html

Perfect Face?


Star Magazine put together the perfect face for a man and woman using the results of a survey by Beverly Hills plastic surgeons Toby Mayer and Richard Fleming. Star morphed the most requested celebrity body parts to create the perfect face. Here's what the two above are made from:

Dude: Daniel Craig's eyes, Leonardo DiCaprio's nose, Matt Damon's lips, Christian Bale's jaw and John Stamos' hair.

Chick: Katie Holmes' eyes, Katherine Heigl's nose, Keira Knightleys cheeks, Jessica Simpson's hair and Angelina Jolie's lips.

Google's Loose Change

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Your guide to the total lunar eclipse

Americas and Western Europe have excellent seats for the show

Earth's shadow sweeps over the moon during a lunar eclipse on Aug. 28, as seen from China's Chongqing Municipality. Sunlight is refracted around Earth's edge, turning the moon's disk a dusky red. How red will the moon get during Wednesday's eclipse?
By Joe Rao
For the third time in the past year, the moon will become completely immersed in Earth's shadow on Wednesday night, resulting in a total lunar eclipse.
As is the case with all lunar eclipses, the region of visibility encompasses more than half of our planet. Nearly a billion people in the Western Hemisphere, more than 1.5 billion in Europe and Africa, and perhaps another half-billion in western Asia will be able to watch — weather permitting — as the brilliant midwinter full moon becomes a shadow of its former self and morphs into a glowing coppery ball.
Almost everyone in the Americas and Western Europe will have a beautiful view of this eclipse if bad weather doesn't spoil the show. The moon will be high in a dark evening sky as viewed from most of the United States and Canada, at a time when most people are still awake and about.
The main event begins at 9:01 p.m. ET, when the moon is completely covered by the darkest part of Earth's shadow. That translates to 8:01 p.m. CT, 7:01 p.m. MT and 6:01 p.m. PT. The total phase of the eclipse lasts 51 minutes, and the moon starts coming out of the darkest shadow, or umbra, at 9:52 p.m. ET
Total triangle
Moreover, this eclipse comes with a rare bonus. The planet Saturn (magnitude +0.2) and the bright bluish star Regulus (magnitude +1.4) will form a broad triangle with the moon's ruddy disk.
Careful watchers will notice the moon changing its position with respect to the star and planet as it moves eastward through Earth's shadow.
Saturn's position will also depend somewhat on your location. Seen from North America, the great ringed planet will be 3.5 degrees above and to the left of the moon's center at midtotality. At the same moment, Regulus will sit just 2.8 degrees above and to the right of the moon.
Some old-time astronomy buffs may remember from 40 years ago a total lunar eclipse with the moon sitting only about a degree from Spica — a gorgeous celestial tableau! More recently, in 1996, a totally eclipsed moon passed within 2 degrees of Saturn.
But this upcoming double event will be the only one of its kind occurring within the next millennium!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Parents Rise Up Against A New Approach to Math

washingtonpost.com: "Greg Barlow, an Air Force officer in the defense secretary's office at the Pentagon, was helping his 8-year-old son, Christian, one recent night with a vexing problem: What is 674 plus 249?
The Prince William County third-grader did not stack the numbers and carry digits from one column to the next, the way generations have learned. Applying lessons from his school's new math textbook, "Investigations in Number, Data, and Space," Christian tried breaking the problem into easier-to-digest numbers.
But after several seconds, he got stumped. He drew lines connecting digits, and his computation amounted to an upside-down pyramid with numbers at the bottom. His father, in a teacherly tone, nudged him toward the old-fashioned method. "How would you do that another way?" Barlow asked.
In Prince William and elsewhere in the country, a math textbook series has fomented upheaval among some parents and teachers who say its methods are convoluted and fail to help children master basic math skills and facts. Educators who favor the series say it helps young students learn math in a deeper way as they prepare for the rigors of algebra.
The debate over "Investigations in Number, Data, and Space," a Pearson School series used in thousands of elementary classrooms, including some in Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Howard counties, is one of the newer fronts in the math wars. Such battles over textbooks and teaching methods are fueled in part by the anxieties of parents who often feel powerless over their children's education, especially in subjects they know."

Monday, February 18, 2008

Chelsea Clinton Talks Policy in Obama Territory


The question was one she had heard before, but this time it was asked in downright hostile terms.
“Has your mother shown any remorse for the fact that her vote cost Iraqis a million of their lives?” a student asked Chelsea Clinton on Monday at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Ms. Clinton replied: “She cast a vote based on the best available evidence. Perhaps you had clairvoyance then, and that’s extraordinary.”
As Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign tries to win some younger voters, her daughter is parachuting into the heart of enemy-occupied territory: college campuses in the grip of Obama fever, both in must-win and lost-cause states for her mother’s candidacy. On Saturday and Sunday, Ms. Clinton will campaign in Hawaii, the childhood home of Senator Barack Obama.
For nearly the first year of her mother’s presidential bid, Ms. Clinton, 27, was practically invisible to voters. Just before the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3, she began appearing in the tableau of flags and signs behind her mother at speeches. But when it became clear that Mr. Obama was making off with many people her age, Ms. Clinton decided to speak out. Unlike most other family members who hit the campaign trail, she does not offer an intimate portrait of the candidate, and she recounts old family stories only when her audiences clamor for one. (Memory lane can be a dangerous place: waxing about White House Christmases might remind voters of just how many her family has already had.)
Instead, she upholds another Clinton tradition: blitzing her targets with policy details. In a single hour of responding to questions at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire on Tuesday, Ms. Clinton talked about Medicare Part D, the distinction between the chronically and occasionally uninsured, health care premium caps, Pell grant allowance maximums, income contingency repayment programs for financial aid, sugar-based ethanol and carbon sequestration. That is not counting her detours into Romanian reproductive policy and the design of the internal combustion engine.
“It was a little over my head,” admitted Stephanie Biese, the founder of the Students for Hillary chapter on the Madison campus, about an exchange Ms. Clinton had with another attendee about nuclear base loads.
At these appearances, Ms. Clinton, on leave from her job at a New York hedge fund, greets her audience, plugs her mother’s Web site and asks for questions. Thin, with strawberry blonde hair that has none of its adolescent frizz, Ms. Clinton dresses with good-girl chic: muted colors, necklines that are high and skirt hems that are not. Her voice is huskier than her mother’s, but she has her habit of opening her eyes wide to emphasize a point.
“You can applaud for that,” she tells audiences when she hears a few claps, encouraging others to join in.
They do, but there is no mistaking the political climate at many of the universities and colleges where Ms. Clinton appears. After Steven Lawrence, a student on the Madison campus, left Ms. Clinton’s event wearing a campaign sticker, another student yelled, “I’m ashamed of you!” Mr. Lawrence said he had been leaning toward Mr. Obama, but might shift his loyalties to Mrs. Clinton after hearing her daughter.
“She came off as more of a regular person answering questions, but with an incredible amount of knowledge,” he said.
Elsewhere, Ms. Clinton has been confronted with signs bearing messages like “America deserves better than aristocracy” and “Got Pimp?” a reference to a recent remark by a now-suspended MSNBC host who claimed that Mrs. Clinton was exploiting her daughter.
But in a political race that has become a delegate-by-delegate fight, Clinton campaign officials say Ms. Clinton could make a difference. Before Feb. 5, she sped through 15 of the 22 states that voted that day, and has been to Maine, Maryland, Ohio and Wisconsin since. While it is impossible to tell how many votes Ms. Clinton is winning, the campaign invites the local news media to each stop, meaning that Ms. Clinton is popping up on evening broadcasts everywhere she goes.
There is no asking Ms. Clinton, who does not give interviews, exactly why she threw herself into her mother’s bid — which, if successful, will rob her of some of the privacy she is said to cherish.
But a furious, provocative essay that Ms. Clinton mass-blasted to her friends and acquaintances on Feb. 4 provides clues. She wrote that she did not agree with everything the essay’s author, Robin Morgan, a former editor of Ms. Magazine, said. (Ms. Morgan argues that Mrs. Clinton has faced not only a sexist double standard but also “sociopathic woman-hating.”)
But until jeering men insulted her mother in New Hampshire and the news media made light of it, Ms. Clinton wrote, “I confess I didn’t entirely get ‘it.’ ”

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Gone in 60 seconds: treasure in your car

msnbc.com: "As prices of precious metals skyrocket, thieves are targeting an obscure component of automotive exhaust systems in lightning thefts that can be accomplished in less than a minute, police and automotive experts say.
The component is the catalytic converter, which has been a mandatory part of exhaust systems since 1975. Police across the country say they have seen a dramatic rise in thefts of the components in recent months.
If you peer inside a used catalytic converter, nothing looks salvageable, much less valuable. But some of the gray gunk in there hides three expensive precious metals.
Catalytic converters have only small traces of the metals — platinum, palladium and rhodium — but there’s enough in them for a thief to resell stolen units for up to $200 apiece. Rhodium is among the most expensive metals on Earth, commanding as much as $6,000 an ounce on the open market.
Scrap dealers “are paying top dollar — platinum, palladium, rhodium inside of them — and they’re getting top dollar” on resale, said Jack Bell of North Shore Towing, which tows vehicles for the Evanston, Ill., police.
“The word spreads real quick about it, what they’re worth,” said Marty Antonelli of Marty’s Welding and Muffler Shop in Pittsburgh. “Everybody is on them now.”
The converters are inviting targets because they’re easy to grab. Mounted on the exterior undercarriage of vehicles, they can be removed in about a minute with any standard metal cutting tool. An enterprising thief in a crowded parking lot or garage can make off with enough converters to clear $2,000 or $3,000 in half an hour."

Friday, February 15, 2008

Colorado town fears avalanche of water


ED ANDRIESKI / AP PHOTO
Old mining buildings and shafts are pictured east of Leadville, Colo., in this Friday, May 27, 2005 file photo. More than 1 billion gallons of water _ enough to fill 1,500 Olympic-sized swimming pools _ is backed up in abandoned mine shafts and a drainage tunnel in the mountains above Leadville, and officials worry it could blow out and cascade through the historic town when the heavy snowpack melts.
By P. SOLOMON BANDA
Associated Press Writer
DENVER -- More than 1 billion gallons of contaminated water - enough to fill 1,500 Olympic-sized swimming pools - is trapped in a tunnel in the mountains above the historic town of Leadville and threatening to blow.
Lake County Commissioners have declared a local state of emergency for fear that this winter's above-average snowpack will melt and cause a catastrophic tidal wave.
The water is backed up in abandoned mine shafts and a 2.1-mile drainage tunnel that is partially collapsed, creating the pooling of water contaminated with heavy metals.
County officials have been nervously monitoring the rising water pressure inside the mine shafts for about two years. An explosion could inundate Leadville and contaminate the Arkansas River.
"It could come out, we just don't know where," county Commissioner Carl Schaefer said. "We're seeing changes and we're very concerned. We're not crying 'Chicken Little' here."
State and federal officials agreed Thursday to conduct a risk assessment before taking any action. Critics said something should be done immediately to ease the pressure.
Peter Soeth, a spokesman for the Bureau of Reclamation, which acquired the drainage tunnel in 1959, said there was no immediate threat to Leadville's 2,700 residents.
Officials point out that a speaker system to broadcast evacuation notices has already been installed near a mobile home park that has 300 residents near the tunnel's portal.
The tunnel normally drains water that seeps into some of the hundreds of abandoned mine shafts and other mine workings in the mountains east and south of Leadville and deposits it into the East Fork of the Arkansas River about a mile north of town.
The Environmental Protection Agency raised concerns about the situation in letters sent to the Bureau of Reclamation, which has been assessing the concerns.
"Due to the unknown condition of the tunnel blockage and the large volume of water behind the blockages, we are concerned that an uncontrolled, potentially-catastrophic release of water to the Arkansas River from (the tunnel) is likely at some point," said one EPA letter sent in November.
Stan Christensen, an EPA expert on the tunnel, said the likelihood that something catastrophic can happen increases the longer nothing is done.
A water treatment plant at the foot of the tunnel removes toxins and heavy metals such as zinc, cadmium and manganese before discharging the water into the Arkansas River. The mobile home park is near the treatment plant.
New springs and seepages have appeared at California Gulch, which sits below the plant. Tests have shown high levels of heavy metals typically found in mine discharge, leading officials to conclude the trapped water is finding ways out.
"No one can tell us what it means," said Jeffrey Foley, Lake County's emergency management director. "It's finding fault lines and it's pouring mine-contaminated water into the Arkansas."
The EPA's Christensen said the water table is rising regionwide and that his agency can't immediately reach the same conclusion.
Leadville, which sits at 10,200 feet of elevation and some 100 miles west of Denver, rose to national prominence and attracted thousands of people after a gold rush in 1859. After the gold ran out, silver became the dominant mining industry.
Later, a mine that sits beneath 13,000-foot mountain peaks began shipping molybdenum ore in 1915. Miners have recovered 946,000 tons of molybdenum, used to harden steel, worth about $4 billion. The Climax mine closed in 1995.
and i'd just like to point something else out....

it's never a woman. it's always a "gunMAN." another thing to think about when trying to find answers and a way to stop the craziness.

Why?

(I think that's the question on everyone's lips. Some questions might not have clear answers, I guess. I wrote this for myself when the Virginia Tech tragedy happened. Then I was sad; now, more so, I am angry. So this doesn't begin to cover what's on my mind this morning, but for whatever it's worth, I just felt like sharing these thoughts).

It’s hard to look at the world and not wonder what it is that keeps going wrong. Is it us? Is it humanity at large? Is it individuals to blame, or is it that some are just further under the fulcrum that is squeezing us all?

I guess its hard to say. But I believe in people. I believe that our own instincts are true and right, and when things go wrong is when we stray from them. I don’t know why we choose to live this way, in a society on the brink of collapse. Overpopulated, under fed, disconnected from nature, disconnected from our neighbors and ourselves. I know it doesn’t have to be this way, but changing it will be like reversing the tide of a river. But I haven’t lost hope that it can be done.

When someone innocent dies, it sinks my heart. But more so I fear for the person who was brought to the edge to take that life. I feel like so many live life so close to this edge, and when one goes over, it’s a reminder to us all.

What are we doing here? Why are we putting these pressures on ourselves and our children? And for what? Who among us is truly happy? Another person over the edge is just one step closer to all of us going under.

Let’s wake up, for God’s sake. I want you to walk out your door today, and only listen to that voice of reason in your head. If you hate your job, quit. Don’t fear, just quit. If you feel isolated and alone, talk to the person next to you on the sidewalk or waiting in line for coffee. If you’re fed up waiting in traffic, or at a stoplight, just park your car and get out. Start walking, no matter how far or how long it takes. Let’s just listen to ourselves, for once. Don’t let society tell you that what you feel is wrong. Because those feelings won’t go away; they just get locked up and squeezed down until you eventually crack from the pressure.

Let’s believe in ourselves, and that despite the risks, following our desires will ultimately be the right choice.

Countdown Special Comment on FISA: President Bush Is A Liar And A Fascist

Keith Olbermann’s Special Comment on today’s Countdown was a scathing rebuke of President Bush for continuing to play the fear card, trying to scare the hell out of the American people and vowing to veto any FISA legislation that does not contain telecom amnesty.
You are a liar, Mr. Bush, and after showing some skill at it, you have ceased to even be a very good liar.
And your minions like John Boehner — your Republican congressional crash dummies who just happen to decide to walk out of Congress when a podium-full of microphones await them — they should just keep walking, out of Congress and if possible, out of the country.
For they — and you, sir — have no place in a government of the people, by the people, for the people.
The lot of you, are the symbolic descendants of the despotic middle managers of some banana republic, to whom “Freedom” is an ironic brand name, a word you reach for, when you want to get away with its opposite.
Thus, Mr. Bush, your panoramic invasion of privacy is dressed up as “protecting America.”
Full transcripts below the fold:
Democrats in the House of Representatives are closing the shop down tonight, until a week from Monday… leaving President Bush twisting slowly in a wind of his own creation.
Our third story on the Countdown: the FISA bill — and the retroactive immunity for the telecom giants that helped Mr. Bush illegally eavesdrop on Americans — will thus just sit there, unacted upon, not even a temporary extension which the Republicans and Mr. Bush refused, despite the President’s threats that if the bill isn’t passed by Saturday, there’d be a breakdown in counter-terrorism surveillance and plagues of locusts and stuff.
A Special Comment, in a moment.
First the details.
House Democrats, in essence, calling the Republicans’ bluff.
They staged a walkout at mid-day… led by John Boehner, who in one act managed the cheesy political theater, and managed to get out just as Representatives were to vote on Contempt of Congress citations against Harriet Miers and Joshua Bolten.
That the Republicans just happened to walk to a stand-full of microphones… pure coincidence.
The President had started all this, with his now-daily message of fear, with what he apparently sees as a threat, to postpone his scheduled trip to Africa.
The House should not leave Washington without passing the Senate bill. I am scheduled to leave tomorrow for a long-planned trip to five African nations. Moments ago, my staff informed the House leadership that I’m prepared to delay my departure, and stay in Washington with them, if it will help them complete their work on this critical bill. The lives of countless Americans depend on our ability to monitor terrorist communications.
Having lost, he now says he’s going to Africa — another threat, or promise, unfulfilled.
Now, as promised, a Special Comment.
A part of what I will say, was said here on January 31st.
Unfortunately it is both sadder and truer now, than it was, then.
“Who’s to blame?” Mr. Bush also said this afternoon, “Look, these folks in Congress passed a good bill late last summer… The problem is, they let the bill expire. My attitude is: if the bill was good enough then, why not pass the bill again?”
You know, like The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.
Or Executive Order 90-66. Or The Alien and Sedition Acts .Or Slavery.
Mr. Bush, you say that our ability to track terrorist threats will be weakened and our citizens will be in greater danger.
Yet you have weakened that ability! You have subjected us, your citizens, to that greater danger!
This, Mr. Bush, is simple enough even for you to understand.
For the moment, at least, thanks to some true patriots in the House, and your own stubbornness, you have tabled telecom immunity, and the FISA act.
You.
By your own terms and your definitions — you have just sided with the terrorists.
You got to have this law or we’re all going to die.
But practically speaking, you vetoed this law.
It is bad enough, sir, that you were demanding an Ex Post Facto law, which could still clear the AT&Ts and the Verizons from responsibility for their systematic, aggressive, and blatant collaboration with your illegal and unjustified spying on Americans under this flimsy guise of looking for any terrorists who are stupid enough to make a collect call or send a mass e-mail.
But when you demanded it again during the State of the Union address, you wouldn’t even confirm that they actually did anything for which they deserved to be cleared.
“The Congress must pass liability protection for companies believed to have assisted in the efforts to defend America.” Believed?
Don’t you know? Don’t you even have the guts Dick Cheney showed in admitting they did collaborate with you?
Does this endless presidency of loopholes and fine print extend even here?
If you believe in the seamless mutuality of government and big business — come out and say it!
There is a dictionary definition, one word that describes that toxic blend.
You’re a fascist — get them to print you a t-shirt with “fascist” on it!
What else is this but fascism? Did you see Mark Klein on this newscast last November?
Mark Klein was the AT&T Whistleblower, the one who explained in the placid, dull terms of your local neighborhood I-T desk, how he personally attached all AT&T circuits — everything — carrying every one of your phone calls, every one of your e-mails, every bit of your web browsing into a secure room, room number 641-A at the Folsom Street facility in San Francisco, where it was all copied so the government could look at it.
Not some of it, not just the international part of it, certainly not just the stuff some spy — a spy both patriotic and telepathic — might able to divine had been sent or spoken by — or to — a terrorist.
Everything! Every time you looked at a naked picture.
Every time you bid on eBay. Every time you phoned in a donation to a Democrat.
“My thought was,” Mr. Klein told us last November, “George Orwell’s 1984. And here I am, forced to connect the big brother machine.”
And if there’s one thing we know about Big Brother, Mr. Bush, is that he is — you are — a liar.
“This Saturday at midnight,” you said today, “legislation authorizing intelligence professionals to quickly and effectively monitor terrorist communications will expire. If Congress does not act by that time, our ability to find out who the terrorists are talking to, what they are saying, and what they are planning, will be compromised…You said that “the lives of countless Americans depend” on you getting your way.
This is crap. And you sling it, with an audacity and a speed unrivaled even by the greatest political felons of our history.
Richard Clarke — you might remember him, sir, he was one of the counter-terror pro’s you inherited from President Clinton, before you ran the professionals out of government in favor of your unreality-based reality — Richard Clarke wrote in the Philadelphia Inquirer:
“Let me be clear: Our ability to track and monitor terrorists overseas would not cease should the Protect America Act expire. If this were true, the president would not threaten to terminate any temporary extension with his veto pen. All surveillance currently occurring would continue even after legislative provisions lapsed because authorizations issued under the act are in effect up to a full year.”
You are a liar, Mr. Bush, and after showing some skill at it, you have ceased to even be a very good liar.
And your minions like John Boehner — your Republican congressional crash dummies who just happen to decide to walk out of Congress when a podium-full of microphones await them — they should just keep walking, out of Congress and if possible, out of the country.
For they — and you, sir — have no place in a government of the people, by the people, for the people.
The lot of you, are the symbolic descendants of the despotic middle managers of some banana republic, to whom “Freedom” is an ironic brand name, a word you reach for, when you want to get away with its opposite.
Thus, Mr. Bush, your panoramic invasion of privacy is dressed up as “protecting America.”
Thus, Mr. Bush, your indiscriminate domestic spying becomes the focused monitoring, only of “terrorist communications.”
Thus, Mr. Bush, what you and the telecom giants have done, isn’t unlawful, it’s just the kind of perfectly legal, passionately patriotic thing for which you happen to need immunity!
Richard Clarke is on the money, as usual.
That the President was willing to veto this eavesdropping, means there is no threat to the legitimate counter-terror efforts underway.
As Senator Kennedy reminded us in December: “The President has said that American lives will be sacrificed if Congress does not change FISA. But he has also said that he will veto any FISA bill that does not grant retroactive immunity.
No immunity, no FISA bill. So if we take the President at his word, he’s willing to let Americans die to protect the phone companies.”
And that literally cannot be. Even Mr. Bush could not overtly take a step that actually aids the terrorists.
I am not talking about ethics here. I am talking about blame.
If the President seems to be throwing the baby out with the bathwater, it means we can safely conclude… there is no baby.
Because if there were, sir, now that you have vetoed an extension of this eavesdropping, if some terrorist attack were to follow…You would not merely be guilty of siding with the terrorists…
You would not merely be guilty of prioritizing the telecoms over the people…You would not merely be guilty of stupidity…
You would not merely be guilty of treason, sir…You would be personally, and eternally, responsible.
And if there is one thing we know about you, Mr. Bush, one thing that you have proved time and time again… it is that you are never responsible.
As recently ago as 2006, we spoke words like these with trepidation.
The idea that even the most cynical and untrustworthy of politicians in our history — George W. Bush — would use the literal form of terrorism against his own people — was dangerous territory. It seemed to tempt fate, to heighten fear.
We will not fear any longer. We will not fear the international terrorists — we will thwart them.
We will not fear the recognition of the manipulation of our yearning for safety — we will call it what it is: terrorism.
We will not fear identifying the vulgar hypocrites in our government — we will name them.
And we will not fear George W. Bush. Nor will we fear because George W. Bush wants us to fear.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Kansas HS says female cannot ref boys game

Sports Illustrated: "KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Kansas activities officials are investigating a religious school's refusal to let a female referee call a boys' high school basketball game.
The Kansas State High School Activities Association said referees reported that Michelle Campbell was preparing to officiate at St. Mary's Academy near Topeka on Feb. 2 when a school official insisted that Campbell could not call the game.
The reason given, according to the referees: Campbell, as a woman, could not be put in a position of authority over boys because of the academy's beliefs.
Campbell then walked off the court along with Darin Putthoff, the referee who was to work the game with her.
"I said, 'If Michelle has to leave, then I'm leaving with her,"' Putthoff said Wednesday. "I was disappointed that it happened to Michelle. I've never heard of anything like that."
Fred Shockey, who was getting ready to leave the gym after officiating two junior high games, said he was told there had been an emergency and was asked to stay and officiate two more games.
"When I found out what the emergency was, I said there was no way I was going to work those games," said Shockey, who spent 12 years in the Army and became a ref about three years ago. "I have been led by some of the finest women this nation has to offer, and there was no way I was going to go along with that.""

Health Plan: Hot Peppers


During a recent “60 Minutes” interview, Senator Hillary Clinton unveiled a surprising weapon in her fight to become the Democratic presidential nominee: hot peppers.

“I eat a lot of hot peppers,'’ she told CBS News anchor Katie Couric, who had asked her how she maintains her stamina on the campaign trail. “I for some reason started doing that in 1992, and I swear by it. I think it keeps my metabolism revved up and keeps me healthy.”

Nutritionists say Mrs. Clinton may be on to something. Although the scientific study of hot peppers is limited, there are some suggestions that capsaicin, the active ingredient in peppers, has numerous health benefits.

For starters, peppers contain several important nutrients, including beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and vitamin C, said Jonny Bowden, a board-certified nutritionist and author of “The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth.'’ In fact, peppers contain about twice the amount of vitamin C found in citrus fruits, which may help explain why they have emerged as a popular home remedy for fighting colds

Much of the research on capsaicin involves pain relief, and capsaicin is a common ingredient in over-the-counter pain creams. The analgesic effect of the capsaicin found in peppers may help explain why Mrs. Clinton believes it makes her feel better.

“People on those kinds of schedules, they are wearing their body down and not sleeping much,'’ Dr. Bowden said. “Possibly it could be like taking a couple of aspirins.'’

Hot peppers also may slightly boost the metabolism, which could give Mrs. Clinton a sense of having more stamina and energy. “If you ate a big hot pepper, it would be hard to go right to sleep,'’ Dr. Bowden said.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Obama: Cult of Personality?

We got some of the same impressions from both candidate when we saw them together at yearlykos this summer.
(Written by principal blogger at Group News Blog - Jesse Wendel.)
I’ve gone to great pains to proclaim my neutrality between the candidates, and it’s genuine. I like them both, and I see their differences as small. For certain, I’ll vote for whomever heads the Democratic ticket this fall. Really.
Some folks have suggested Clinton operatives are pushing “Obama as cult” around the press. Please don’t tell me I’m being told to think this about cults. I hadn’t read Krugman’s article when I came to the same conclusion about Obama as a cult of personality. And I did so all on my own.
I went to both the Clinton and the Obama rallies here in Puget Sound last Thursday night/Friday afternoon. (More detailed reports to follow; consider this a sidebar.)
The Clinton rally Thursday night at Pier 30 was remarkable to me in three ways:
1. Personally, for how the staff knew I was coming and took care of me, even though I was late, bringing me through the long lines of people, getting up on the riser with the rest of the national press, bringing me water for my medicine. They were smooth and professional, without being cloying in any way.
2. Clinton presented a plan to withdraw for Iraq which I found detailed, specific, and credible. She then did the same with her plan for universal health care, and after giving details, she said, “I have staked my campaign on universal health care.”
3. The crowd was inspired by her, cheered for her, but all in the ordinary way of a political rally. Call it 2-1 women, 30+ white/Hispanic, and happy to be there.
Friday morning I headed out to the Obama rally. They made the press wait outside in 40 degree cold in the wind for an hour before letting us in to searches and more waiting around, showing of press credentials and signing in. The Obama staff didn’t know me from Adam and couldn’t have cared less. (Sam, on their national blogging team has been nice to me.)
Frozen, I headed down to the convention floor. While I won’t go into details (I hate process stories), I’ll simply say the Obama volunteers pushed the local press around. I made it clear as a national blogger I wasn’t going to put up with crap at all.
In comparison to how the Clintons treated the press, the Obama people treated the press disrespectfully and arrogantly. Furthermore, they didn’t have anyone available to us except starry-eyed volunteers.
Shorter me: The Clinton camp was respectful of me and other press. The Obama camp was arrogant as all hell (with the exception of national web-guy Sam.) HUGE difference, and differences like this in my experience come from the top down.
Then came the actually Obama event. The best I can liken it to is a cross between a rock concert and a religious revival. The place was filled, probably over 20,000 people (the Clinton event was only 3,000+ people) and both turned people away. From the moment Obama hit the stage, everyone (but the press) was on their feet and never sat down.
Obama almost never got into specifics. It was change, change, save the country, change, yes we can, change. He did talk about both his health care plan and his education plan, and gave specifics in both cases, briefly. But then it was back to broad strokes. He spent a lot of time defending himself against the lack of experience charge.
Then Obama ended with “there is a moment in the the life of every generation where we decide. This is our moment. We will win. Together we will change the world.”
Watching Obama reminded me VERY strongly of watching Werner Erhard, the est leader, on stage in front of tens of thousands of people in the 80s (and on videotape of Erhard at the Hollywood Bowl in the 70s.) Obama has precisely the same kind of universal appeal, the same kind of declarative “making a difference” saving the world approach. He’s even using many of the same words and the crowd ate it up.
Well, daughter #3, Kyle, 17, didn’t. But then she’s hung out with transformational speakers since she was a kid, so she’s had her shots against this stuff. She said, “A lot of people who were all excited were yelling and cheering over stuff that didn’t really seem that exciting but everyone was really excited anyway no matter what he said, even though it didn’t seem very inspiring to me.”
Because Obama is not saying what he is for, not laying out specifics, and not making genuine promises, but instead making powerful declarations, making himself the candidate with whom everything changes and NEVER SPECIFYING WHAT IN THE HELL THAT MEANS, people are free to, and they damn well are, projecting onto Obama all their hopes and dreams for a better future. He is their mother, their father, their lover, confessor, their priest, their shining city on a hill.
When the mass media which as we all know is in the bag for the Republicans, tears Obama down off the pedestal they presently are promoting him on, it will rip the heart out of these children of our future, much as it destroyed the hopes of the JFK/MLK generation four decades ago.
And the media is coming for Obama. Just as soon as they’ve got him where they want him, which is running against McCain. He’s better ratings than Clinton, and (editorial assessment) Rove/Bush and the Republicans do NOT want to run against Clinton, who has whupped them every time she’s run against them.
The kids supporting Obama at the Seattle event, from the volunteers to the people in the stands, seemed high, as in not in full control of themselves. That they were high with a peak experience is great and good for them, but they still weren’t in control. They were filled with this great joy. They bumped into things and laughed.
When I talked to them, all were thrilled I was there to write a great story about the Senator. When I softly corrected them I was just there to write a story on the event and what happened, not to make it great about the Senator, you could see their claws come out, anger cross their face, and then as one, they would paste a smile on, almost as if they knew they had to be nice to someone not yet in the club.
I’ve been around cults, religions, and high-dominance authoritarian institutions much of my life. While I won’t go so far as to call the Obama organization a cult, as clearly the volunteers live out in the world and have their lives, people are VERY focused on Obama and don’t really know much about what he stands for (and he’s not saying.) They are making a demon out of Clinton, and get very twitchy when crossed. The volunteers are putting their hopes and dreams into Obama.
This at the least, approaches a serious cult of personality, and perhaps more. It is easily up to the Werner Erhard / George W. Bush level, and without much trouble, will go further.
Such personality veneration has never played well with others, and it isn’t now.
NOTE: Nothing in this post should be construed as an endorsement of either Democratic candidate for president. It is an article with facts and opinions about politics. I have not made up my mind, and GNB is not endorsing any candidate until there is a clear nominee. I intend to add this to all my political posts from now till we have a nominee.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Retired Teacher Reveals He Was Illiterate Until Age 48

KGTV San Diego: "OCEANSIDE, Calif. -- John Corcoran graduated from college and taught high school for 17 years without being able to read, write or spell.
Corcoran's life of secrecy started at a young age. He said his teachers moved him up from grade to grade. Often placed in what he calls the "dumb row," the images of his tribulations in the classroom are still vividly clear.
"I can remember when I was 8 years old saying my prayers at night saying, 'please, God, tomorrow when it's my turn to read please let me read.' You just pretend that you are invisible and when the teacher says, 'Johnnie read,' you just wait the teacher out because you know the teacher has to go away at some point," said Corcoran.
Corcoran eventually started acting up to hide his illiteracy. From fifth through seventh grade he was expelled, suspended and spent most of his days at the principal's office.
The former teacher said he came from a loving family that always supported him.
"My parents came to school and it no longer was a problem for me reading because this boy Johnnie the -- native alien I call him -- he didn't have a reading problem as far as the teachers were concerned. He had an emotional problem. He had a psychological problem. He had a behavioral problem," said Corcoran."

Escolar, the popular fish with some unpopular side

Radar Online: "o years ago Tom Duffy, a 37-year-old father of three, was vexed and perplexed by a bizarre case of gastrointestinal distress he experienced one Saturday morning. Unaware of its source, he initially blamed a Thai dish he'd eaten the previous evening. Laughing it off, he changed and drove over to Starbucks with his three children in tow. Unfortunately, it wasn't over. He found himself heckled by his youngest while they walked through the parking lot because he kept his hand strategically placed on the back of his pants to prevent an accident while waiting in line for his latte. The following week, feeling recovered, he finished off some the delicious fish they'd purchased (and enjoyed so much the week before) from the local market in the Wayne section of the Philadelphia suburbs. "That butterfish stuff," is what he remembered calling it. "That was delicious." It was. But soon after consuming the fish, disaster struck again: The trouble returned, this time in more substantial, uncontrollable bursts.
The next morning before work, his wife asked him why his pants were all wet. He decided to take a sick day. Home from work and running back and forth to the shower, Duffy did some minimal online research and found out the ugly, messy truth about the fish he'd eaten: Sometimes it makes orange oil shoot out of your ass.
Incensed, Duffy decided to fight back against the fish market. Over the next few days he faxed them 14 pages of highlighted information from the research he'd done. He attached a hand-scrawled note, accentuated with dollar signs and written in all caps, explaining that he missed two days of work and ruined five pairs of pants because of their "butterfish." He chastised them for not letting their customers know about the possible side effects. The fish market, like many around the country, plead ignorance and refused to respond further. Still, Duffy notes that since his oil-slicked hours of humiliation, he hasn't seen the butterfish sold again. A minor victory, whose only victims were five pairs of pants and two office chairs.
Duffy is like many other diners all over the United States who unwittingly eat escolar, the deep-sea fish found mostly in tropical waters. Sold in many restaurants and markets as "butterfish" or "Hawaiian walu," escolar usually runs as an $18 entrée special at many casual dining restaurants, and can be purchased in fish markets for about $11 to 13 per pound. Some trendier spots prepare it on the grill so that its true "richness and flavor" can be more easily savored. Sushi restaurants occasionally serve it as "super white tuna" or "king tuna." Most diners who try it love it, even those whose seafood consumption is never more adventurous than shrimp cocktail or Gorton's fish sticks. In 1999, the New York Times touted it, quoting Jeremy Marshall, chef of SoHo seafood palace Aquagrill, who likened it to the "foie gras" of fish. A quick Google search of "escolar dishes" results in myriad local and national newspapers praising restaurants for having it on its menu. Conversely, all of these reviews usually end with a caveat that often reads like this one pulled from a 2004 New York magazine story called "The 'It' Fish":
"[B]ut in places like Hawaii, where it's a by-catch of long-line tuna fishing, it's known colloquially as the Ex-Lax fish, thanks to its high content of indigestible wax esters (remember olestra?). In the Canary Islands, food writer Harold McGee has noted, it's considered a folk medicine.""

Monday, February 11, 2008

Congratulations my people! (And here's the show I would have loved to see last night)

Traditional Blues Album: "Last of the Great Mississippi Delta Bluesmen: Live In Dallas," Henry James Townsend, Joe Willie "Pinetop" Perkins, Robert Lockwood Jr. & David "Honeyboy" Edwards.
Contemporary Blues Album: "The Road to Escondido," JJ Cale & Eric Clapton.
Country Collaboration With Vocals: "Lost Highway," Willie Nelson & Ray Price.
Urban/Alternative Performance: "Daydreamin'," Lupe Fiasco, featuring Jill Scott.
Comedy Album: "The Distant Future," Flight of the Conchords.
Traditional Folk Album: "Dirt Farmer," Levon Helm.
Contemporary Folk/Americana Album: "Washington Square Serenade," Steve Earle.
Short Form Music Video: "God's Gonna Cut You Down," Johnny Cash.
Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package: "What It Is!: Funky Soul and Rare Grooves (1967-1977)," Masaki Koike, art director.

NHL star's throat cut in freak accident

(CNN) -- Florida Panthers star Richard Zednik suffered an horrific freak accident which left blood gushing from his throat after a collision with a teammate during an NHL game.


Zednik is attended to by anxious teammates after his freak accident.

Panthers were playing at Buffalo on Sunday night when Zednik's throat was accidentally sliced by Olli Jokinen's skate.

The Slovakian was able to reach the bench but was rushed to Buffalo General Hospital where his condition was listed as stable after having surgery to close the gash.

Florida Panthers goalie Thomas Vokoun described the fear in Zednik's ashen face when he realized the extent of the injury.

"He was very scared," Vokoun said.

"He was conscious, I guess. His eyes were closed, but he was moving and moaning."

A 12-year NHL veteran, Zednik was hurt with 9:56 left in the third period in the right corner of the Sabres zone.

Zednik was circling the net behind the play and skating into the corner just when Jokinen was upended by Sabres forward Clarke MacArthur.

Jokinen fell headfirst to the ice, and his right leg flew up and struck Zednik directly on the side of the neck.

Clutching his neck, Zednik somehow had the capacity to race the three-quarters length of the ice to the Panthers bench, where he nearly fell into the arms of trainer Dave Zenobi, who immediately placed a towel on the player's throat.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

CDC Withholds Report on Health Impacts of Chemical Pollution

Truthout: "Researchers found low birth weights, elevated rates of infant mortality and premature births, and elevated death rates from breast cancer, colon cancer, and lung cancer.
For more than seven months, the nation's top public health agency has blocked the publication of an exhaustive federal study of environmental hazards in the eight Great Lakes states, reportedly because it contains such potentially "alarming information" as evidence of elevated infant mortality and cancer rates.
The 400-plus-page study, Public Health Implications of Hazardous Substances in the Twenty-Six U.S. Great Lakes Areas of Concern, was undertaken by a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the request of the International Joint Commission, an independent bilateral organization that advises the U.S. and Canadian governments on the use and quality of boundary waters between the two countries. The study was originally scheduled for release in July 2007 by the IJC and the CDC's Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).
The Center for Public Integrity has obtained the study, which warns that more than nine million people who live in the more than two dozen "areas of concern"-including such major metropolitan areas as Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, and Milwaukee-may face elevated health risks from being exposed to dioxin, PCBs, pesticides, lead, mercury, or six other hazardous pollutants.
In many of the geographic areas studied, researchers found low birth weights, elevated rates of infant mortality and premature births, and elevated death rates from breast cancer, colon cancer, and lung cancer.
Since 2004, dozens of experts have reviewed various drafts of the study, including senior scientists at the CDC, Environmental Protection Agency, and other federal agencies, as well as scientists from universities and state governments, according to sources familiar with the history of the project.
"It raises very important questions," Dr. Peter Orris, a professor at the University of Illinois School of Public Health in Chicago and one of three experts who reviewed the study for ATSDR, told the Center. While Orris acknowledged that the study does not determine cause and effect-a point the study itself emphasizes-its release, he said, is crucial to pointing the way for further research. "Communities could demand that those questions be answered in a more systematic way," he said. "Not to release it is putting your head under the sand.""

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Smoky bar triggered fatal asthma attack

msnbc.com: "A woman in her late teens died from an acute asthma attack triggered by secondhand cigarette smoke shortly after arriving at her job as a waitress in a bar in Michigan, researchers reported on Friday.
They said it was the first reported case of an immediate death caused by secondhand smoke.
“She didn’t have any other possible known causes of death,” said Dr. Kenneth Rosenman, a Michigan State University professor who oversees three state public health surveillance systems.
Cigarette smoke is known to trigger acute asthma attacks.
“We know that particulate levels from secondhand cigarette smoke in bars like this reach sufficient levels to set off an asthma attack,” Rosenman said.
He said the woman was a student who had a job at a fast-food restaurant, and worked a second job as a waitress at the bar. “She was perfectly fine when she went to work,” Rosenman said in a telephone interview.
“After about 15 minutes, she had an acute asthma attack and collapsed on the floor. The autopsy clearly indicates she died from asthma,” said Rosenman, who would not disclose the woman’s name or the precise place and time of her death for privacy reasons."

Friday, February 08, 2008

Wary U.S. Olympians Will Bring Food to China

New York Times: "COLORADO SPRINGS — When a caterer working for the United States Olympic Committee went to a supermarket in China last year, he encountered a piece of chicken — half of a breast — that measured 14 inches. “Enough to feed a family of eight,” said Frank Puleo, a caterer from Staten Island who has traveled to China to handle food-related issues.
Jacque Hamilton, the executive chef of the U.S.O.C., has modified more than 1,500 recipes in the past year and a half.
“We had it tested and it was so full of steroids that we never could have given it to athletes. They all would have tested positive.”
In preparing to take a delegation of more than 600 athletes to the Summer Games in Beijing this year, the U.S.O.C. faces food issues beyond steroid-laced chicken. In recent years, some foods in China have been found to be tainted with insecticides and illegal veterinary drugs, and the standards applied to meat there are lower than those in the United States, raising fears of food-borne illnesses.
In the past two years, the U.S.O.C. has tried to figure out how to avoid such dangers at the Olympics. It has made arrangements with sponsors like Kellogg’s and Tyson Foods, which will ship 25,000 pounds of lean protein to China about two months before the opening ceremony, but will hire local vendors and importers to secure other foods and cooking equipment at the Games.
The bulk of that food will be served at the U.S.O.C.’s training center at Beijing Normal University, about 20 minutes from the Olympic Green, where for the first time United States athletes will have access to their own facility providing three meals a day. The dishes served will be compliant with the U.S.O.C.’s overhauled diet plan, placing a greater emphasis on nutrition, which officials hope will boost athletes’ performance.
The diet plan is already in place for the athletes residing at each of the three United States training centers — here and in Chula Vista, Calif., and Lake Placid, N.Y. And the organization is urging all United States athletes to be aware of what they ingest. Under the World Anti-Doping Agency’s drug-testing code, athletes are responsible for whatever is in their bodies, regardless of the source."

Briton jailed for four years in Dubai after customs find cannabis weighing less than a grain of sugar under his shoe

This is London: "A father-of-three who was found with a microscopic speck of cannabis stuck to the bottom of one of his shoes has been sentenced to four years in a Dubai prison.
Keith Brown, a council youth development officer, was travelling through the United Arab Emirates on his way back to England when he was stopped as he walked through Dubai's main airport.
A search by customs officials uncovered a speck of cannabis weighing just 0.003g - so small it would be invisible to the naked eye and weighing less than a grain of sugar - on the tread of one of his shoes.
Dubai International Airport is a major hub for the Middle East and thousands of Britons pass through it every year to holiday in the glamorous beach and shopping haven.
But many of those tourists and business travellers are likely to be unaware of the strict zero-tolerance drugs policy in the UAE.
One man has even been jailed for possession of three poppy seeds left over from a bread roll he ate at Heathrow Airport. Painkiller codeine is also banned.
If suspicious of a traveller, customs officials can use high-tech equipment to uncover even the slightest trace of drugs."

Hillary Campaign Goes To War With MSNBC Over Chelsea "Pimp" Comment

This is really something. The Hillary campaign has just gone to war with MSNBC, dispatching a top Hillary adviser to launch a lacerating attack on the network on a conference call with reporters moments ago.
On the call, top Hillary adviser Howard Wolfson suggested that there's a "pattern" of reprehensible comments by MSNBC personalities, and said outright that the Hillary campaign could no longer "envision a scenario where we would debate on that network given the comments that were made and have been made."
Wolfson made the comments in response to a question about a now-notorious comment by MSNBC's David Shustser, in which he asked if Chelsea's campaigning on her mom's behalf meant she was being "pimped" by the Hillary campaign...
Though Shuster apologized this morning, the Hillary campaign has clearly decided to seize upon the opportunity to launch a major attack on the network. A few weeks ago Chris Matthews publicly apologized to Hillary after suggesting that her whole Senate career and presidential candidacy was made possible only because of Bill's shenanigans in the White House.
Asked about Shuster's "pimp" comment, Wolfson denounced the comment as "disgusting" and "beneath contempt," adding: "It's the kind of thing that should never be said on a national news network."
Then Wolsfon added: "You have to question whether or not there is a pattern here on the part of the network." He added: "Is this part of a pattern? I don't know, but [it's] beneath contempt."
Then, unbidden, he concluded: "I'll say this. We've done a number of debates on that network...I at this point can't envision a scenario where we would debate on that network given the comments that were made and have been made."
That he would effectively rule out future debate appearances for the time being strongly suggests that the Hillary campaign discussed this in some detail beforehand and decided to launch this broadside against the network. It also suggests that the Hillary camp sees the potential for political gain in drawing media attention to negative and sexist comments made on MSNBC about her and her daughter.

‘Noah’s Ark’ for seeds set to open in Arctic


updated 1:08 p.m. CT, Thurs., Feb. 7, 2008
If much of civilization is ever wiped out, at least our seeds will survive.
The first specimens — 7,000 seeds from 36 African nations — have shipped to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a repository in the Arctic Circle being built to store a safety copy of vital agricultural information, in case disaster should befall us.
The vault is set to open Feb. 26. It is being built by the Norwegian government (Svalbard is part of the Kingdom of Norway), and when it opens its operation will be funded by the Global Crop Diversity Trust, a nongovernmental organization.
In order to protect humanity's agricultural heritage, the seed bank will hoard refrigerated samples of most of the world's food crops in a chamber dug 400 feet deep into the side of a frozen mountain on the island of Svalbard.
Shipments arriving
The shipment of 21 boxes, sent by the Nigeria-based International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), consists of thousands of duplicates of unique varieties of domesticated and wild cowpea (black-eyed pea), maize, soybean and Bambara groundnut.
“IITA’s gene bank houses the world’s largest collection of cowpea, with over 15,000 unique varieties from 88 countries around the world,” said Dr. Dominique Dumet, gene bank manager at IITA. “Cowpea is a key staple in Africa, offering an inexpensive source of protein.”
This month, other shipments are being packed in Colombia, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, Syria and Benin.
The seed vault is at the center of a global effort to conserve diversity and variation in the world's agricultural crops. Crop biodiversity is needed to equip plants with critical resistance to pests and diseases, and enable them to grow in harsher conditions of drought, salinity and flooding, which will likely increase with global climate change, particularly in poor nations.
Experts say it is particularly important to preserve samples of crops that are vital for nourishing human populations but receive less research and conservation attention. Such crops, including cowpea, cassava, yams, and millets, are known as “orphan” crops.

Sam Zell to L.A. Times:Watch Porn at Your Desk, But Don't Piss All Over the Office


BY JOHN KOBLIN | FEBRUARY 7, 2008 | TAGS: MEDIASAM ZELLTHE LOS ANGELES TIMESTRIBUNE COMPANY
Getty Images
Tribune chief Sam Zell had a meeting with the staff of The Los Angeles Times today that was so wildly entertaining it puts to shame the one he held at Newsday two weeks ago. Among other things discussed— his willingness to take a 50-cent salary!—he blasted outgoing editor John O'Shea, according to a newsroom source present.
Mr. Zell said this morning that Mr. O'Shea "pissed all over the company where he worked for over 30 years," and that he embarrassed the company.
"He really trashed him," our source said. "He said it was just unacceptable for him to humiliate me and humiliate this company and asked why he shit all over the place. He said that we have enough trouble as it is and it was a really, really bad way to go."
According to two L.A. Times sources, a lot of people at the paper felt the same way. "Someone, that being S.Z., finally called bullshit on Jim O'Shea," said a newsroom source. At the meeting there was a "lot of laugther and a lot of clapping. A lot of good energy."
In response to a question, Mr. Zell also talked about the importance of adding more local stories to the front page. When discussing newsroom decorum, he told reporters that if they want to watch porn all day at their desk then go for it! As long as they're productive. He added, with a smile, "Let me know if you find any good sites."

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Beta Male’s Charms


By STEPHANIE ROSENBLOOM
“EVERYWHERE there’s someone better than you,” said Steven Tsapelas, 26, over a cheeseburger deluxe at Mike’s Diner in Astoria. “Everywhere you go, if you’re talking to a girl there’s five other guys right in their immediate vicinity blowing you away.”
So goes the refrain of the New York City beta male — that gentle, endearingly awkward, self-conscious soul for whom love is a battlefield. For the last year or so the bungled seductions and everyday fears of such men have been laid bare in “We Need Girlfriends,” a no-budget Web series based on the ups and downs of Mr. Tsapelas and his former college roommates, Brian Amyot, 26, and Angel Acevedo, 25.
A cult hit among the under-30 set, the series chronicles the lives of three postcollegiate guys (Henry, Tom and Rod) who live on the cheap in Queens and routinely demonstrate that while they are suitors with hearts of gold, the only game they have is Taboo.
In one episode Tom is crushed to learn that his former college girlfriend has created a blog called “I Probably Never Loved Tom” and changed her MySpace status to “in a relationship” (her new beau’s MySpace moniker is Looze It 2 Me). In another episode, Henry receives a letter in the mail from his eighth-grade self and realizes that though he has lost his virginity and no longer wears sweat pants in public, he is still a Mr. T fan likely to die alone, like his former classmate, Morbidly Obese Carl.
The 11 brief episodes (the shortest is under six minutes; the longest is more than 14) have been viewed millions of times on YouTube, MySpace and WeNeedGirlfriends.tv, where they were posted monthly at midnight. As one fan wrote on the show’s MySpace page: “I watched it religiously waiting for every new episode coming out like a fat guy waiting for his MoonPie to cook in the microwave.”
Like other buzz-generating Web content, the series has attracted mainstream media movers and shakers: Greg Daniels, the executive producer of the American version of “The Office,” and Dennis Erdman, a director and producer who worked on television shows the three grew up with like “Saved by the Bell”, both sent e-mail messages to say they were fans. A pilot for CBS, with Darren Star of “Sex and the City” fame as executive producer and Mr. Erdman and Clark Peterson of “Monster” as co-executive producers, is in the works.
Until now, “We Need Girlfriends” — which underscores that women are not the only ones to cultivate meaningful friendships with each other or to be emotionally pulverized by the opposite sex — has been filmed on the streets of Astoria and in Mr. Amyot and Mr. Acevedo’s humble apartment, with its mismatched furniture and walls of unframed movie posters. The three were the creative team, the body doubles and the extras. They created the series at night and on weekends when they weren’t at their day jobs. The actors worked for free.
“We were sort of casting fictional versions of ourselves but, you know, we cast better looking guys than ourselves,” said Mr. Amyot, who was also having lunch at Mike’s Diner, where the three regularly convene to brainstorm and to decompress.
Promoting “We Need Girlfriends” cost nothing: Mr. Tsapelas, Mr. Amyot and Mr. Acevedo made MySpace pages for Henry, Tom and Rod two months before the show went online, duping MySpace users into thinking the characters were real people and delighting them with posts about a rivalry between the abrasive, porn-watching Rod and the bespectacled, “X-Files”-revering Henry. Fans (who “skew a little bit female, but not by much,” according to Mr. Acevedo) made art collages of Rod and Henry and bought “Team Rod” and “Team Henry” T-shirts. Each character had more than 2,000 MySpace friends before the first “We Need Girlfriends” episode was uploaded.
“I saw this little kid with geeky glasses on, and I thought he was really cute,” said Jessica Babyok, 20, of Beaver Falls, Pa., who presumed Henry was real.
Though he turned out to be as real as Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy, Ms. Babyok ended up liking “We Need Girlfriends” so much that she stayed up until midnight waiting for each episode to go online. “It shows you a different side of the male psyche, and they’re all really geeky and that’s awesome,” she said.
Awesome?
“I just feel that the geeky guys have more to offer than the hotshots.”
Before Mr. Tsapelas, Mr. Amyot and Mr. Acevedo were spending their days teasing out the virtues of fictional beta guys who subsist on Bagel Bites and ice pops, they were attending Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., where they met in 2000 and worked together as film majors. In general, Mr. Tsapelas (the inspiration for Henry) does the writing, Mr. Amyot (a k a Tom) directs and Mr. Acevedo (Rod) shoots and edits. After graduation they reconvened in Astoria, entered short film contests and attended small film festivals. Yet it all cost time and money, and few people ever showed up for screenings. Inspired by Comedy Central and Spike TV’s online contests, they decided that showcasing their work on the Internet would get it seen by more people and also enable them to tell a longer story. But what?
“At the time we were watching ‘Entourage’ a lot,” Mr. Tsapelas said. “And ‘Entourage,’ you know, these guys go through their daily situations in life and just pick up women constantly. And for us it was like the complete opposite. Everything was a struggle.”
For the first time since college, all three were single. “We broke up and I was just clueless,” said Mr. Amyot, whose three-year relationship had been the longest of the bunch. “I would have these discussions with Steve about it, about what I was feeling, how I was trying to figure it out and, like, how are we going to meet girls and all this stuff. We were just sort of living the lives that these characters are living in the show while trying to come up with an idea for a Web series.”

Monday, February 04, 2008

Open Letter: Dear Barack & Hillary

I just wanted to explicitly express my supreme gratitude for your hard work and dedication to the Greater Good. You continually endure being built up and torn back down again by the very people, the country, that you are merely trying to help. Thank you for your strength.

Living in the city, I know first hand that most people don't even care about the person standing next to them. They can't hold open a door or just throw down some change. So whatever has driven you to such heights, whatever was instilled in you from youth onward to help people both near and far, it is rare and I am grateful.

That being said, I don't want to have to choose between the two of you! I wish you could both be President. Unfortunately, that's not how our system is set up - only one person can be in the spotlight. But that doesn't mean the other has to slunk away in defeat.

To whoever does not get the nomination, I have one request: please don't go all Al Gore on us! Don't hide away for a few years, growing a beard and sulking. It's too important and there's too much to do. We need all hands on deck!!

So to the "2nd" place winner, please, please, please swallow your pride. Make all of us long suffering Democrats (8 years was TOO long) overjoyed and take the Vice position. Please! It would truly be a historical ticket, and one that COULD NOT lose. (And may god help us if we do...)

I've seen all the Democrats debate in person here in Chicago back in August. It was inspiring. There are big problems, but luckily we have people with big ideas to tackle them. There's no reason we can't all work together when the time comes to really put ideas into action. You've been talking the talk for over a year now, so let's not forget that there will soon be a time to walk the walk, whether you're at the front of the line or not.

Sincerely,
Kelly R. Barron
(and friends)

All You Need Is Hate

Stanley Fish- New York Times Blog: "I have been thinking about writing this column for some time, but I have hesitated because of a fear that it would advance the agenda that is its target. That is the agenda of Hillary Clinton-hating.
Its existence is hardly news — it is routinely referred to by commentators on the present campaign and it has been documented in essays and books — but the details of it can still startle when you encounter them up close. In the January issue of GQ, Jason Horowitz described the world of Hillary haters, many of whom he has interviewed. Horowitz finds that the hostile characterizations of Clinton do not add up to a coherent account of her hatefulness. She is vilified for being a feminist and for not being one, for being an extreme leftist and for being a “warmongering hawk,” for being godless and for being “frighteningly fundamentalist,” for being the victim of her husband’s peccadilloes and for enabling them. “She is,” Horowitz concludes, “an empty vessel into which [her detractors] can pour everything they detest.” (In this she is the counterpart of George W. Bush, who serves much the same function for many liberals.)
This is not to say that there are no rational, well-considered reasons for opposing Clinton’s candidacy. You may dislike her policies (which she has not been reluctant to explain in great detail). You may not be able to get past her vote to authorize the Iraq war. You may think her personality unsuited to the tasks of inspiring and uniting the American people. You may believe that if this is truly a change election, she is not the one to bring about real change.
But the people and groups Horowitz surveys have brought criticism of Clinton to what sportswriters call “the next level,” in this case to the level of personal vituperation unconnected to, and often unconcerned with, the facts. These people are obsessed with things like her hair styles, the “strangeness” of her eyes — “Analysis of Clinton’s eyes is a favorite motif among her most rabid adversaries” — and they retail and recycle items from what Horowitz calls “The Crazy Files”: she’s Osama bin Laden’s candidate; she kills cats; she’s a witch (this is not meant metaphorically)"

Saturday, February 02, 2008

In Defense of Incandescence

Incandescence.
Let us now praise incandescence. Not just the word but the phenomenon, the warm radiance of glowing coals, the soft flare of tungsten filament fire.
Let us praise it because its beauty is suddenly under siege. For certain grimly utilitarian environmentalists, aesthetic beauty is not an especially important environmental value. Beauty's glass slipper can't compete with the environmentalists' tiny carbon footprint.
Yes, the idiots in Congress, too torpid and ineffectual to pass a health-care bill for children, have busy-bodied themselves in a bumbling way with the way you light up your world. In December, they passed legislation that will, in practice, outlaw incandescent bulbs because they won't be able to meet the new law's strict energy-efficiency standards. The result: Between 2012 and 2014, incandescent bulbs will be driven from the market. Replaced by the ugly plasticine Dairy Queen swirl of compact fluorescent lights.
From a purely environmental perspective, this move is shortsighted. CFLs do use less energy, which is good. But they also often contain mercury, one of the most damaging—and lasting—environmental toxins. Not a ton of mercury, but still: A whole new CFL recycling structure will be required to prevent us from releasing deadly neurotoxins into the water table. CFLs: coming soon to sushi near you.
Failing to properly recycle your CFLs won't be the same as putting an Evian bottle in the wrong slot. It'll be genuinely hazardous, particularly dangerous to children. Way to go, congressional dimbulbs!
And God forbid you break a bulb. If you do, you are advised by some experts to evacuate the room for 15 minutes to escape the release of mercury vapor, then scrub the area as though there'd been a plutonium spill, virtually wearing a hazmat suit as you dispose of the glass shards.
Good luck. But the greater crime of the new bulbs is not environmental but aesthetic. Think of the ugly glare of fluorescence, the light of prisons, sterile cubicle farms, precinct stations, emergency rooms, motor vehicle bureaus, tenement hallways—remember Tom Wolfe's phrase for the grim, flickering hallway lights in New York tenements: "landlords' haloes"?—and, of course, morgues. Fluorescents seem specially designed to drain life and beauty from the world. Don't kid yourself if you hope Hell is lit by fire. More likely fluorescents.
Yes, fluorescents. Buzzing, flickering, able to cause epileptic seizures in the susceptible, in addition to headaches and other neurological symptoms. Let's smash all the incandescent lights and replace their glowing beauty with the harsh anatomizing light of fluorescence. The flickering tinny corpse light of bureaucracies and penal institutions.
Not fair!, say the CFL advocates. Our new fluorescent technology is not your father's fluorescence, it doesn't drain blood from complexions like a vampire, it doesn't buzz and flicker the way the old ones did.
I've tried the new CFLs, and they are a genuine improvement—they don't flicker perceptibly, or buzz, or make your skin look green. There is a difference, and I'd be in favor of replacing all current fluorescent bulbs with CFLs. But even CFLs glare and blare—they don't have that inimitable incandescent glow. So don't let them take lamplight away. Don't let them ban beauty.
Don't get me wrong, this is not a plea for Ye Olde Times, for gaslight and quill pens. It's just a plea not to take for granted the way we illuminate our world. Not all change is improvement. Why do I put such a premium on incandescence? For one thing, I am a bit romantic about it. A lamp fitted with an incandescent bulb and dim translucent shades casts a lovely, painterly glow on human faces, while the light of fluorescents recalls a meat locker.
Why do you think there is such artistry to so many lampshades? They are the lingerie of light.
Admit it, there is romance to incandescence. The flare of a match lighting a cigarette in a film noir, the sparks that fly up from the glowing coals of a fireplace. The auroral glow of sunrise and the amorous blush of sunset. We "carry a torch" for someone, not a flickering tube. (At least one hopes so.)