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July 31, 2003

recent ingestions

from morocco to kyrgyzstan

Test your knowledge of North African/Middle Eastern geography with this nifty quiz.

No layoffs, no givebacks

Why does a company on track to make about $4 billion in profits need layoffs? Why does it need to raise health care costs for its workers? Why is it trying to get rid of sick days?

Within days up about 70,000 Verizon workers could be going out on strike when the current contract expires 12:00 AM Sunday morning. Here's some basic information about what's at stake in the fight.




originally posted by zagg

big government

The U.S. economy grew faster than expected in the April-to-June period of this year, boosted by gains in business spending and government spending for the war in Iraq ... Spending by the federal government jumped, with a rise in defense spending attributed to the war in Iraq. Federal spending rose by 25.1%, the largest amount since 1967. ... Defense spending spiked 44.1%, the largest amount since the Korean War. The increase in government spending added 1.4% to GDP for the second quarter.

Does spending on war qualify as an economic recovery?

originally posted by zagg

July 30, 2003

X'ed out

"If I were to guess the drug trajectory of you and your friends," he says between bites of a burger in a cafe in New York City's East Village, "I'd say it was marijuana, acid, mushrooms, Ecstasy, coke, and/or speed."

Pretty close. Yet this wasn't the trajectory on which my largely middle- and upper-middle-class friends and I envisioned ourselves. Our organizing drug principles were more organic. Pot and 'shrooms were natural. Even acid, though made in a lab, seemed to be more about the mind than the body. We didn't do nasty, "dangerous" drugs like coke or meth or heroin. That shit was evil. Deadly, even. But E was different.
Salon.com: X'ed out.


American casualties in Iraq since President George Bush declared the war over reached the critical figure of 50 yesterday. Fifty young American lives have thus been sacrificed since 1 May in a growing guerrilla war that Washington and London still will not acknowledge.

The latest from Robert Fisk.

originally posted by zagg

July 29, 2003


The Pentagon office that proposed spying electronically on Americans to monitor potential terrorists has a new experiment. It is an online futures trading market, disclosed today by critics, in which anonymous speculators would bet on forecasting terrorist attacks, assassinations and coups.

Traders bullish on a biological attack on Israel or bearish on the chances of a North Korean missile strike would have the opportunity to bet on the likelihood of such events on a new Internet site established by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

The Pentagon called its latest idea a new way of predicting events and part of its search for the "broadest possible set of new ways to prevent terrorist attacks."

What the ... ?

originally posted by zagg

Punk Parenting

But after the birth of my daughter, I could not ‘keep up.’ I wanted to live as radical as ever, but I found out the support I now needed as a parent was not there. I found myself slipping back to an impoverished and controlled state. There was a vacuum in the subculture where issues about children didn't exist while The State was fully prepared with its social workers, public indoctrination, and other mechanisms to take over. More a freak than ever, I was unwilling and unable to navigate in the mainstream just as much as I was unsupported by the individualism in my own tribe. People in the scene were not really unfriendly to me. On the contrary, I have had many lovely experiences. But few knew what to do with a child or had any. It is a lot of work to raise a child. A lot of places where you make life decisions and a lot of ways that you are impacted in a physical way, that a child-free person could easily jump over those same hurdles.

China’s creativity is a natural part of her life, flowing from her lived experience.

July 28, 2003

Occupation Watch

"This compilation of soldiers words, as published in the Christian Science Monitor, Evening Star, Los Angeles Times and several other publications, provides another side of the story of Occupied Iraq."

how's business?

Technical Self-Employment Is A Fat Paycheck Waiting to Be Pocketed by Grant Barrett is a fantastic read.

July 27, 2003

Naropa online MFA

"Naropa University is pleased to announce the inauguration of a low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. The program reflects the standards and qualities of the residential Writing & Poetics programs offered at Naropa since 1974, when The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics was founded by Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman at the (then) embryonic Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado." Naropa: MFA Creative Writing Online.

I read it in the basement of the Berkeley Public Library.

I really would like to stop working forever--never work again, never do anything like the kind of work I'm doing now--and do nothing but write poetry and have leisure to spend the day outdoors and go to museums and see friends. And I'd like to keep living with someone -- maybe even a man -- and explore relationships that way. And cultivate my perceptions, cultivate the visionary thing in me. Just a literary and quiet city-hermit existence.

Ginsberg in the 50s

I'm addressing you. 
Are you going to let our emotional life be run by Time Magazine? 
I'm obsessed by Time Magazine. 
I read it every week. 
Its cover stares at me every time I slink past the corner candystore. 
I read it in the basement of the Berkeley Public Library. 
It's always telling me about responsibility.  Businessmen are serious.  Movie 
   producers are serious.  Everybody's serious but me. 
It occurs to me that I am America. 
I am talking to myself again.

America, Allen Ginsberg. (Re: Allen Ginsberg on Time Magazine.)

Time magazine on Allen Ginsberg?

Meditation on the cover of Time magazine.

I'm betting you're not reading this while lolling on the beach

Before the work ethic was hijacked by the overwork ethic, there was a consensus in this country that work was a means, not an end, to more important goals. In 1910, President William Howard Taft proposed a two- to three-month vacation for American workers. In 1932, both the Democratic and Republican platforms called for shorter working hours, which averaged 49 a week in the 1920s. The Department of Labor issued a report in 1936 that found the lack of a national law on vacations shameful when 30 other nations had one, and recommended legislation. But it never happened. This was the fork in the road where the United States and Europe, which then had a similar amount of vacation time, parted ways.

Europe chose the route of legal, protected vacations, while we went the other -- no statutory protection and voluntary paid leave. Now we are the only industrialized nation with no minimum paid-leave law.
Joe Robinson in the Washington Post. "After writing about our vacation deficit disorder as a journalist, I decided three years ago to start a grass-roots campaign to lobby for a law mandating a minimum of three weeks of paid leave."

July 26, 2003

Spanish-English Generation-Heavy Hybrid Machine Translation

Matador is a Spanish-English machine translation system implemented following the Genereation-heavy Hybrid approach to Machine Translation (GHMT). What languages do you speak?

July 24, 2003

what iraqis think

We offered a list of five possible reasons for the war, and asked people to identify the most important.

The top two by a mile were "to secure oil supplies" (47 per cent) and "to help Israel" (41 per cent). Just 23 per cent said our aim was "to liberate the people of Iraq", while 7 per cent said "to protect Kuwait".
UK Channel 4's survey of what Iraqis think, via Buttermilk and Molasses.

social design notes

Social Design Notes. Go there now.

money, money, money

If you haven't noticed it yet, and many people haven't, you should be getting a bigger paycheck this month.

Tax cut kicks in on payroll.

So I'm getting a sweet $4 a week thanks to the tax cut. How's everyone else doing?

originally posted by zagg

taking this Polynesian Pop thing too far

We started making a list of all we had to do to extricate ourselves: Sell our house. Sell our car. Find homes for Sarina's pet bird, rabbit and frogs. Pack up all of our furnishings and store them in a warehouse. Buy airline tickets. Cancel our Internet service, cell phone, DWP, gas, telephone, security, newspaper and other services. Find out about schools and pediatric medical care on Rarotonga.
LA Weekly: Features: Rarotonga or Bust.

July 23, 2003

fela kuti

In a world of constant upheaval and continuous transformation, sometimes we look to music as a way of escaping the problems of the world. Fela did the opposite: his music was about immersion in the ebb and flow of the conflicts that described and circumscribed the nation state he inhabited. His home was Nigeria, a place of so many contradictions and fictions that it might as well exist as a story, a fable spun from the fevered imagination of a very strange storyteller. The name "Nigeria" itself is an inheritance from a colonial past bequeathed to the confused and angry people who found themselves confined and defined within its borders after the colonial powers decided what would be the best route to economic balance between Europe and Africa. As a country, Nigeria and most of the Sub-Saharan continent were created on maps drawn on a palindrome of political and economic expedience - all of which did not involve those who were most relevant to the process: the people who actually lived there.
Manifesto for "A Different Utopia: Project for a New Kalakuta Republic 2003".

billion-dollar corpses

Two on Iraq.
For the first time, coalition authorities in Iraq have shut down an Iraqi newspaper, charging that its publication of a July 13 article calling for "death to all ... who cooperate with the United States" and threatening to publish a list of collaborators' names was a dangerous violation of international law.
Sudden surge of interest in international law from the Coalition reported at CS Monitor. And:
At least Iraq will be spared the horror of being ruled by an unelected second-generation bozo who rose to power on his father's coattails.
Peter Lee on billion-dollar corpses at Smirking Chimp.

July 22, 2003

Leave No Millionaire Behind

Thomas Jefferson warned us that we could be free or ignorant, but not both. We have not taken that warning to heart. We have not had a serious national debate about the Bush administration's policies because the mass media have treated politics -- as well as economic and social policy -- as entertainment: a combination of hype and palliative. The political and economic life of the country has been reduced to little more that a struggle for partisan power, the results not unlike the score of a football game: BUSH WINS AGAIN or SENATE DEMS BEATEN. There seems to be no sense of higher good, no question of national purpose, no hope for critical judgment. Hype has impoverished our political debate, undermining the very idea that public discourse can be educational and edifying -- or that national public policy can grow out of reflective discussion and shared political values. We have sought simplistic answers to complex problems without even beginning to comprehend our loss. [source]

"Life Beyond the areas of mothering and charity also seems to be governed by the ways of the "manhood agenda." Nevertheless giftgiving can be restored to our thinking about those broader areas. For example profit itself can be seen as a gift from the poor to the rich because itis constituted of surplus value, that part of the value of work not covered by the worker's salary." -Genevieve Vaughan, from "36 Steps Toward a Gift Economy" [further info]

the blue marble (hi, hi)

"This spectacular 'blue marble' image is the most detailed true-color image of the entire Earth to date. Using a collection of satellite-based observations, scientists and visualizers stitched together months of observations of the land surface, oceans, sea ice, and clouds into a seamless, true-color mosaic of every square kilometer (.386 square mile) of our planet. These images are freely available to educators, scientists, museums, and the public." EO News: NASA Olympics Blue Marble Release; February 6, 2002. I'm minorly obsessed with images of Earth. I guess it's the notion that observing ourselves from without can provide some perspective on within. Should we talk about the weather?

July 21, 2003


July 20, 2003

dirty disco

On Fridays and weekends, he performs on his wheels of steel: two turntables, speakers and a fader/mixer, all powered with a portable battery. The 27-year-old turntablist earns his living scratching and mixing funky beats here on the boardwalk.

"I got some hip hop, old school, new school, some drum and bass, acid jazz, dirty disco, old school classics," Hymn says. "There are no rules. It's just getting creative and funky."
NPR : Summer Street Music Series: Venice Beach, Grooving on the Boardwalk with Aaron del Campo, a.k.a. DJ Hymn.

July 18, 2003

"made under Nike rule"

On a Dupont Circle park bench last Sunday, community activist Marco Del Fuego, 38, was reading "Anarchism and Other Essays" and wearing his favorite shoes: black high-top Chuck Taylors.

"I love these shoes, but I'll never buy another pair again," he said. "I don't like Nike's labor practices in the Third World . . . you can't stop the corporate monster, man."

Converse's new owner has some fans swearing off them. (But was Footwear Acquisitions Inc., owner from 2001 until now, any more upstanding than Nike?)

July 17, 2003


Really. It's almost as if you should cheer the invidiousness, it is so spectacular, unprecedented, the tower of lies reaching the point where you, Jaded and Benumbed American Citizen, are forced to either recoil and ignore and deny, succumb and scream and laugh, or, like Bush himself, just sort of stand there, wide eyed, dumfounded, blinking hard, looking more blank and confused than ever, as the unified BushCo front begins to gloriously unravel.
Nothing Left to Lie About.

originally posted by zagg

July 16, 2003


First, she's a genuine star - she also hosts a nationally televised variety show in Australia. Then there's the fact that along with all the winks and nudges, she delivers important messages about things like nutrition and respecting your elders. And finally, there's the little detail that Mary G is really a man - think Aboriginal Mrs. Doubtfire. But what may be most important about Mary G is what her show says about the role women play in Australia's indigenous communities and the intricate kinship system that governs life in what is often described as the world's oldest living culture.

Christian Science Monitor, "Meet Australia's delightful Ms. Doubtfire"


An American soldier died and three others were wounded today when their convoy came under attack by a rocket-propelled grenade in western Baghdad, the military said.

Thirty-four American soldiers have have been killed by insurgents since President Bush declared the end of major combat operations in Iraq on May 1; at least 49 have died in other incidents such as traffic accidents and weapons discharges, the latest such death coming yesterday when a marine fell from the roof of a building where he was on guard duty, military officials said.

Before today's attacks, 300 American soldiers had been wounded in combat and 315 in non-hostile incidents since May 1, Corporal Pruden said.

American military officials have attributed the attacks to insurgent Iraqi fighters loyal to the regime of Saddam Hussein, though some observers have said the attacks are a reflection of anger among some Iraqis frustrated by their country's occupation.

I point this article out for two reasons. One is because it has a quick rundown of the scale of the resistance to the U.S. occupation.

The second is because of that last paragraph and all the hand-wringing the writer does to cover all his bases about every possible source of the attacks.

It illustrates a
point made by the New York Press's Matt Taibbi
that I had fluxed earlier this month.

originally posted by zagg

July 15, 2003

"the wolf is at the door"

We're going to see thousands of layoffs and higher property taxes at the local level, which will hit the very people living on tight budgets. This will have a negative economic impact, and the issue is being hidden behind the argument that we don't want to hurt working families by raising taxes.
Exemplary journalism.

clicking and dragging not included

Build a web browser in one line of code, via the excellent Cocoa Dev Central.

July 14, 2003

Q: Whose Fault Was It?

I love this new distraction where we're supposed to figure out who forged the documents in the first place:
Tenet's gallantry, however, does little to answer the question first raised in early March when inspectors at the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency judged fake a mysterious set of documents Bush had relied on to buttress his claim about Iraq's nuclear ambitions. Press speculation has fingered Iraqi dissidents as the group who had the most to gain in alleging Saddam's uranium shopping spree. The paper trail behind the documents has led to: a "con man" out to make money; Italian intelligence; and "the French." Some publications even suggest the United States, Britain, or other interested powers forged the uranium letters.
A: Everyone in the whole entire fucking world EXCEPT George Bush.


Ouch! (via kottke's remainder)

New From City Hall, TV Worth Watching

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's distaste for television is so profound that his aides have to tell him about his own coverage. He has yet to see an episode of "The Sopranos." But he has thrown his support behind the scrappy new station, which embodies some of his favorite themes: doing more with less, improving agencies through technology and letting New Yorkers peek under the hood of the customer-service side of government.
I'll have to plug the cable back in and see if NYC TC is unscrambled - it sounds like a nice complement to my beloved ny1. By Jennifer Steinhauer


Issue 17 of Variant is out, and all previous editions are archived online too.
The conceptual artist Diana, Our Lady of the Media, at last unveiled her latest music action piece to a public positively salivating with eagerness and anticipation. Earlier works by this former pupil of Wolf Vostell and one time member of Negativland had been criticised as being guache, self-indulgent and politically inept. Under the canopy of a starlit Parisian night, Homage to JG Ballard for four voices, Mercedes Benz and motorcycle cavalcade once and for all silenced even her sternest critics - that fawning ratpack whose presence she so often bemoaned.
The opening paragraph from a review of Lady Diana's death, 31 August 1997, Variant no. 5.

July 13, 2003

'people lying down in my wheat field'

"All my friends say I ought to put up a fence and charge people $2 a head, but that's not my way," Balestra said. "I'm enjoying this. People lying down in my wheat field, and wrapping their heads in foil."
SF Gate: Mystery crop circles keep packing 'em in / New Age believers descend en masse on Solano wheat field, via peace dividend.

news from elsewhere

Adriana has relaunched Stingy Kids with a new design, even though she's devoted most of her literary blogging talents to Garden Kids. I've been playing around with typepad.

July 11, 2003

a free ride, when you've already paid

Reuters reports that while Bush was speaking, the residents of the local island of Goree were involuntarily rounded up at 6AM and held at a local football field until after Bush had left, to prevent them from protesting or otherwise exercising, you know, American-style freedoms that are the opposite of slavery.
Life and Deatherage: Bush allies imprison locals so he can talk about "slavery."

July 9, 2003


A woman set her Madrid home on fire Wednesday as she cooked up a potion in an attempt to imitate the fictional wizard Harry Potter, emergency services said....It was unclear what spell she was trying to weave.
(Reuters, via CNN)

The Don DeLillo Society?

"The Don DeLillo Society will not do your work for you. We have work of our own to do."

July 8, 2003


The new MacBytes.com looks like nothing so much as our dear Fark -- just an observation.

small men took on the powers and airs of tyrants and masters

What it always feels like to me is that while I always know my ancestors were slaves at some time, the slave masters, the slavers, the captors, and everyone else involved were these mysterious white people that have no connection to white people today.
NegroPleaseDotCom: if i'm the hunted, who's the hunter?

treating english badly

To The Coca-Cola Company,

The slogan for Dasani mineral water contains an egregious error. The tag line is "Treat yourself well. Everyday." The word "everyday" is an adjective that is used to describe things that are routine or ordinary. "Everyday concerns" or "everyday life" would be two examples.

Your slogan should read: "Treat yourself well. Every day." In this case "every" is an adjective modifying the noun "day." This is a popular construction which is also used in such phrases as "every week," "every time," "every breath I take," etc.

David Armstrong, a grammar geek after my own heart, takes on Coca-Cola's Dasani brand slogan. I especially like when he challenges "impactful," one of my least favorite terms of corporatespeak: "By the way, 'impactful' is not listed as a word in any dictionary that I am aware of. Was this neologism spawned by the person who hatched your Dasani slogan?"

Is school the center of children's lives? Should it be?

Having homeschooled kids at home is nothing at all like having school-kids at home between school days, or on weekends, or in the summer. Every day of a schoolkids life is defined by school. He's home on Saturday because the school system deigns to allow that. He's home during vacations because those vacations were ordained and established by the school board. Which days belong to the school family?

NONE of them.

Which days belong to the homeschooling family?

ALL of them.

Rejecting a pre-packaged life

July 7, 2003

MT "post this" bookmarklet for Safari

I've been using Jen's "post this" Movable Type bookmarklet for Safari for a couple weeks now and it's quite refreshing. It's been a long time since I've had a working bookmarklet and getting it back reminds me just how quick and easy it makes things. I have a slight improvement to share -- this version puts any text you have selected into the 'Entry Body' field of the pop up window. (Be sure to check out the link above for good instructions on customizing the code to suit your needs.)

[post this]

July 6, 2003

the nods, the eye rolls, the hushed tones that go with that statement

I remember a sociology professor who worked at my university for a time. As a woman of color, she confronted her predominantly white classes with the admonition that white people can't say they're not racist until they compete against a black person in the job market. I thought it was an odd statement. Now I understood what she meant.
The Chronicle of Higher Education: The Other Candidate.

July 5, 2003

mystery links

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

originally posted by xowie

July 4, 2003

what would you do?

The Underground War in Gaza by Joe Sacco.

originally posted by xowie

i ain't a communist necessarily, but i been in the red all my life

He left behind an army of imitators and a catalogue of songs that people will be dusting off and singing for as long as they make guitars. For me personally, Woody is my hero of heroes and the only person on earth that I will go to my grave regretting that I never met.
Woody Guthrie by Steve Earle. (via a damn fine bunch of stuff at Craig's Booknotes)

originally posted by xowie

public opinion is shifting

Frustrations became so bad recently at Fort Stewart, Ga., that a colonel, meeting with 800 seething spouses, most of them wives, had to be escorted from the session. "They were crying, cussing, yelling and screaming for their men to come back," said Lucia Braxton, director of community services at Fort Stewart.
NYT: Anger Rises for Families of Troops in Iraq.

originally posted by xowie

July 3, 2003

What to the slave is the 4th of July?

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.

originally posted by zagg

3rd annual nigerian e-mail conference

I am Mr. Laurent Mpeti Kabila, a senior assistant leader of the Revolutionary United Front of Sierra Leone. I present to you an urgent and confidential request: I request your attendance at The 3rd Annual Nigerian EMail Conference. This is an excellent opportunity to meet your distinguished colleagues, learn new marketing techniques, and spend your hard-earned money. Attending this conference demands the highest trust, security and confidentiality between us.

a living text of liberty

The version I am reading, from the World Almanac, has phrases that leap out in importance:

"A decent respect to the opinions of mankind." Do we still have it? Or has this once marginal assemblage of colonies, out on the edge of the known world, become so captivated with its own power that we no longer feel the need to justify our actions to anyone?

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Is our belief in equality truly self-evident? How does it jibe with the growing inequality of income and wealth and opportunity in this country? And is the pursuit of happiness, as now understood, wedded to the same sense of duty and responsibility that animated the men in Philadelphia?

"And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor." Are we privileged Americans, enjoying all the blessings the vision of the Founders provided, willing to pledge something of equal value to our society and our fellow citizens in our time? Are we worthy of the gift we have been given?

The Washington Post's David Broder on the Declaration of Independence.

July 2, 2003

via craigslist

Blank CDs: 20 cents each
Minutes to burn 'em: a couple
Getting rid of your ex's junk: priceless


‘We’re just tired, we’re just sick of them killing us,’ Benton Harbor resident Bonita Bulger, 28, told the Times. ‘Our backs are against the wall. The jobs are low. Our kids have nothing to do.’ Evette Taylor, 31, told the Chicago Tribune that Benton Harbor residents ‘have had enough. We have to take a stand. It [the violence] ain’t right, but it’s justified.’ ‘They’re not going to keep killing us,’ Bulger told the Detroit Free Press. ‘We’re going to strike back. It’s a black-white issue. It’s a police issue. We can’t go on living like this.’ ‘There just ain’t no justice here,’ Jimmie King, 31, a Benton Harbor native, told the Chicago Sun Times. ‘There are a lot of people in this community who are upset with the way black folks are being treated. A lot of people have just given up’.

Paul Street looks at Benton Harbor.

originally posted by zagg

ok, shut up now

They call themselves the "talk to me" folks, and they've done this just about every day for nearly a year. All over New York, day or night, rain or shine, in the subways, in the parks, on the sidewalks or any public place that suits them, they pop up with their lawn chairs and their two-foot-tall sign. They just sit there and let it happen. Talk. Chitchat. Conversation. Even some tirades and a few insults and threats. They are undeterred. They've perfected the art of random, disconnected New York conversation, a narrow specialty they've made their own.

New York's "Talk to Me" duo is hanging it up. They were also featured on an episode of This American Life.

July 1, 2003

Tilia americana

linden treeThe tree grows in rich, moist, well-drained soil. The tough, fibrous inner bark has been used by Native American Indians and settlers in making rope, mats, and thongs. The wood is light and soft, and is well suited for working. Although rather weak, it has been used for cheap furniture, containers, beekeeping supplies, and various woodenware. Honeybees feed on the flowers, producing what is reputed to be a choice grade of honey. Birds eat the buds, small mammals eat the fruit, and several species feed on the bark and sprouts.
There's a nice big tree in our new front yard. I borrowed a leaf today and was easily able to identify it at the great dendrology site, What Tree Is It? (It's a Basswood, also known as Linden.)