October 14, 2003

Stuff I Read Today

  • Katherine Berlin just read about how women during WWII used to stain their legs with tea and draw lines up the backs of their legs as a substitute for stockings when nylon was unavailable due to war. She says that if she has to paint a fake seam up the back of her legs every morning she'd never get out of the house on time. She could always use spray-on stockings like women do in Japan. I hear the stuff gums up. Yuck.

  • Sappho's Breathing links to an interesting article about the Bloomsbury Group. Writer Virginia Woolf, who had great influence on feminist thought, was part of that group. Here's an excerpt:

    Views about the Bloomsbury Group remain remarkably divided. To their defenders, they were artistic and moral pioneers who revolutionised taste in art, design and literature. They rejected bourgeois sexual conventions and hypocritical Victorian values. They blazed a trail for modern movements as diverse as feminism and anti-capitalism. They were fascinating (to the prurient) for their endless affairs with each other.
    To their detractors, however, they were self-regarding snobs and shallow dilettantes who were artistically insignificant, memorable merely for their self-promotion and a constant preoccupation with the problems of domestic servants.
    All the same, the Bloomsbury industry continues to flourish. According to Diana Reich, who organises the Charleston Festival each summer at the Sussex farmhouse which was home to Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, the success of Bloomsbury creates its own problems: "The insatiability of the Bloomsbury industry makes it hard to discriminate between the trivial and the meaningful in its legacy."

  • Read Margaret Cho's Columbus Day entry She's off to a great start: "In fourteen hundred and ninety two Columbus sailed the ocean blue" - then landed on an island inhabited by gentle people, and killed fucking everybody to prove that the world was round, not actually flat. I have been to that island, and will never return, because there is not a moment where I don't feel the pain and the madness, because the ground is soaked with blood, the air is angry and whips around me like a howling ghost, the rain comes down hard to wash the memory of the dead away, but they cannot leave, because the original owners of the property have yet to receive payment even after the FINAL NOTICE remains long overdue."

    Read the rest. We need more rants like this in this day and age. She doesn't have a permalink for the post, so look for "10/13/2003 Happy Columbus Day."

  • Now I've seen it all. If you have a spare $6,000 lying around, you too can own a REALDOLL. The male REALDOLL costs $7,000. Check out who buys REALDOLL:

    REALDOLL customers include futurists, artists, art collectors, film-makers, scientists, health professionals, housewives -- you name it. There simply isn't just one type of REALDOLL customer! We provide REALDOLLs to single men, couples seeking to enhance their sex lives, people looking for exotic decorative art, adult retailers who want the ultimate display mannequin, or anyone who desires to possess the world's most realistic love doll (for whatever reason).

  • I dedicate this article to Atrios, all in the name of fun. One of his readers just bought him the laptop that was on his Amazon wish list. So he has lots of money lying around that his minion gave him, and he has a new laptop. He originally intended to use the money to stock up on Thunderbird to purchase a new laptop. He thinks it's an ethical dilemma and he may return the money.

    I think he should stop being so Catholic. Keep it!

    Atrios should read the Save Karyn archive and the college student tuition story to help him decide what to do. Maybe he'll feel better to know that he isn't the first person to benefit from the kindness of strangers. On the other hand, P. T. Barnum would love the Internet.

    Posted on October 14, 2003 at 11:20 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

    October 10, 2003

    What I Read When I Should Have Been Editing

    I have a bad case of very late-onset Spring Fever, but thankfully I don't have a time crunch at the moment. These articles caught my eye.

  • I found this story alarming, and I'm a hard-core carnivore. Inspectors at a Georgia beef processing plant found meat mottled with cow manure. Last year, inspectors found E. coli in contaminated hamburger that was about to be shipped to public schools. Meat infested with bacteria can cause severe illness or death in those who eat it. Despite these findings, the Department of Agriculture sat on its hands, doing little more than threaten to shut down the plant. Tainted meat from processing plants is not isolated to Georgia. Apparently, it's a problem across the country. A greater problem is lax enforcement of safety and hygienic conditions of plants by the Agriculture Department's Safety and Inspection Service.

  • Thanks to an e-mail sent to Bill Gates by a frustrated cop, Microsoft and Toronto police are working on software that will make it easier for police to investigate the proliferation of child porn on the Internet. The software, scheduled to be released in one month, "is designed to store copies of all the images police find, creating a searchable database that can help them uncover similarities between cases. It can also analyze pictures and classify those that are child pornography, largely automating a job that consumes a huge amount of police labor." Det. Sgt. Paul Gillespie, who is in charge of Toronto's child exploitation division, had wondered "if there was a possibility of designing ... software to assist some of our investigators. At least so they don't have to always go look at these awful images ... and have nightmares every night."

  • Wade Horn, Assistant Secretary for Children and Families at the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, is also the President of the National Fatherhood Initiative. NFI receives massive funding from the federal government and from conservative family foundations, including Bradley, Scaife, Smith Richardson, Castle Rock, JM, and Earhart. Between 1994 and 2001 alone, NFI received in excess of $2 million dollars in funding from conservative family foundations, most of it coming from Bradley. I've known all of this for years. I didn't know that Horn was also the Executive Director of CHADD, Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder. CHADD is an ADHD support group that is funded by the pharmaceutical industry. Richard Scruggs, the attorney who led the settlement between the U. S. and tobacco companies in 1998 and had filed similar suits against the asbestos industry, has spearheaded two class action suits in 2000 against Novartis AG, the American Psychiatric Association, and CHADD. Scruggs had accused the makers of Ritalin of conspiring with psychiatrists and ADHD support groups like CHADD to "create" Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Ninety percent of all Ritalin is sold in the U. S., and most of it is sold to children. Drug companies not only fund groups like CHADD, they also fund research on ADHD. Talk about a serious conflict of interest.

  • Yet another asinine example of government "art" funding that Dave Barry would love: the Manitoba Arts Council gave a grant to a jeweler who creates her "art" from "mouse droppings, toenail clippings, dead insects and pubic hair."

  • Scary stuff. Mark Crispin Miller on whether or not Diebold voting machines tweaked the California recall election results.

  • More news from California: UCLA researchers find that social rejection and physical pain register in the same area of the brain. Maybe that is what influenced California voters to elect The Terminator.

  • More useful science news: It's only a myth that there is a link between quaffing brewskis and obesity. This seems to be a guy thing. There is more quaffing if the quaffer smokes. The quaffing itself probably doesn't lead to weight gain, but the years loafing around munching tons of cheese nachos and pork rinds while watching the Cubs lose (again) probably does the trick.

  • Ha! I live in the smartest state in the U. S. My former home state ranks 18th. California ranks 44th. New Mexico bottomed out.

    Posted on October 10, 2003 at 10:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

    October 09, 2003

    Stuff I Read Today

    Update: God, how rude can I be? I didn't cite the appropriate attributions to my first two posts here yesterday. I read about Nervy Girl at Alas, A Blog (via Bean). I had already heard about Ghettopoly, but A Skeptical Blog nailed the spoof's racist and tasteless nature.


  • Nervy Girl magazine is back online. Check out the bold, new look and enter the magazine's column contest.

  • Do you have to be a knuckle-dragging butt-crack to think that Ghettopoly is funny? This spoof of Monopoly sports Harlem, Hell's Kitchen, Smitty's XXX Peep Show, and Hernando's Chop Shop as properties available for purchase. Rather than the car and the shoe, the game pieces you get to choose from include a pot leaf, a hoe (female, not garden, variety), 40 ouncer of malt, and an Uzi. "Ghetto Stash" cards include this winner: "Go directly to Ling Ling’s Massage Parlour for some head. Steal $$$ if you pass Let$ Roll." Yup, this is great fun for the entire family.

  • Cronaca reported on an exhibit of paintings, sketches, and designs by suffragist Sylvia Panghurst.

  • A fifth-century synagogue has been found in Albania.

  • Mysterium posted beautiful photos of Japan by photographer Frantisek Staud.

  • I felt just as ill as Jeanne at Body and Soul when I heard that Arnold Schwarzenegger won California's governorship. What the hell were California voters thinking? Were they star-struck? Jeanne and Mickey Kaus focused on how Arnold seems to enjoy humiliating others, men and women alike. And Kaus voted for him! With women, there is the groping, which received more media attention than other things that I thought were equally important, like his secret meeting in 2001 with Enron chairman Ken Lay, the fact that he has offered only platitudes and not a solution to California's humongous budget deficit, and his support for Kurt Waldheim, who had participated in Nazi atrocities during World War II and reviewed and approved anti-semitic literature to be dropped behind Russian lines. I honestly think that people today don't care about who runs this country. You voted for Schwarzenegger because you liked him in The Terminator, and a few "harmless" gropes shouldn't hurt his chances, eh? After all, you may think, Clinton got away with it. Well, Clinton didn't go to bed with Enron and create a fake energy crisis. Clinton didn't support further energy deregulation that led to those rolling blackouts. Clinton didn't commiserate with Nazi's. Clinton didn't say he'd fix a crippled budget simply by declaring that he was "born a leader," or by boasting that he "loved the fact that millions of people" look up to him. That's how Arnold says he'll fix a broken California, and I don't think anyone was paying attention. Worse yet, I don't think anyone cared. They just like the way he says "Hasta la vista, baby."

  • I do have good news from California, though. Days before he was ousted as California's governor, Gray Davis signed SB 156, making the Burgess move-away decision the law in California. Somehow, this one went under the fathers' rights radar. There were no protests. I suppose fathers' rights supporters were preoccupied with the recall and the politics of the LaMusga move-away case. They were asleep at the wheel on this one, and it was an important one to miss. The legislative counsel's digest described the act as "Custody: residence of the child. Existing law provides that a parent entitled to the custody of a child has a right to change the residence of the child, subject to the power of the court to restrain a removal that would prejudice the rights or welfare of the child. Existing law, as established in In re Marriage of Burgess (1996) 13 Cal.4th 25, provides that when a judicial custody order is in place, a custodial parent seeking to relocate bears no burden of establishing that it is necessary to do so. This bill would state the intent of the Legislature to affirm the decision in the case described above and to declare that ruling to be the public policy and law of this state."

    The new law enacted reads as follows:

    "SECTION 1. Section 7501 of the Family Code is amended to read:

    7501. (a) A parent entitled to the custody of a child has a right to change the residence of the child, subject to the power of the court to restrain a removal that would prejudice the rights or welfare of the child.

    (b) It is the intent of the Legislature to affirm the decision in In re Marriage of Burgess (1996) 13 Cal.4th 25, and to declare that ruling to be the public policy and law of this state."

    Posted on October 9, 2003 at 09:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

    September 22, 2003

    Articles of Interest

  • The Supreme Court heard arguments "about the constitutionality of the 2002 law that bans unlimited "soft-money" donations to political parties and tightens controls on political advertising in the weeks before an election." Anyone know how that turned out?

  • Here's something else to piss off frequent flyers: "the federal government and the airlines will phase in a computer system next year to measure the risk posed by every passenger on every flight in the United States." In an irony alert, first class passengers have demanded and won their right to use stainless steel knives on flights. No plastic sporks for them.

  • Here's something else to piss off library patrons: "In Seattle, the public library printed 3,000 bookmarks to alert patrons that the FBI could, in the name of national security, seek permission from a secret federal court to inspect their reading and computer records -- and prohibit librarians from revealing that a search had taken place."

  • Our tax dollars at work: "Six months after it was established to protect the nation from terrorism, the Department of Homeland Security is hobbled by money woes, disorganization, turf battles and unsteady support from the White House, and has made only halting progress toward its goals, according to administration officials and independent experts."

  • Under the radar screen: Was the American public paying attention when "a federal court dismissed a lawsuit alleging accounting fraud at Halliburton Company when US Vice President Richard Cheney was its chief executive?"

  • The Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics page is an in-depth resource for bad science that appears in movies. Everyone by now knows that "in space, no one can hear you scream" because there is no air to carry the sound. However, the aliens in "Independence Day" gave themselves too much work. They didn't have to actually blow things up to destroy the earth. Just having "an object with a quarter of the Moon's mass, parked in geostationary orbit would create a tide-producing gravity force twenty-five times higher than the one caused by the Moon. This would flood coastal areas and disrupt geological formations, resulting in earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, not to mention extreme weather changes." But, of course, if the movie people followed proper physics, "Independence Day" would have ended within the first half hour. Some people would say that is a good thing...

  • While cases of moms murdering kids, like Susan Smith, make the national news and inspire outrage, cases like this, this, this, this, and this barely raise eyebrows. Please note that these cases took place in the context of a custody dispute.

    Posted on September 22, 2003 at 10:43 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

    September 21, 2003

    Stuff I'm Reading Today

  • Very, Very Happy's parodies of right-wing bloggers InstaPundit, James Lileks, Andrew Sullivan, Little Green Footballs, and the Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler were dead-on. I especially liked his rabid Rottweiler. Sometimes I think that guy is two rants short of a stroke. Too bad he left out Steven den Beste, but I get more than enough doses of him from Busy, Busy, Busy. Why the first four have made it to the Higher Species and Mortal Human categories of the Blog Ecosystem is beyond me.

  • Nathan Newman brings up the logic fallacies in recent discussions of federal funding and taxation for blue vs. red states. I live in a blue state: Massachusetts receives far less federal spending on average than it pays in federal taxes. It's no accident that the state is nicknamed "Taxachusetts." Some have assumed that red states receive more funding because they are poorer. Newman points out the logic fallacy in that line of thought: "having a lower AVERAGE income does not therefore mean you have fewer VERY POOR people needing social spending. An average can often disguise the presence of many very poor people and a few astronomically wealthy people." That sounds a lot like blue states such as California and New York -- and Massachusetts to some extent. Also read the link he provides to a GAO report about how the Medicaid funding formula is tilted against blue states like California and New York.

  • Bush's New Federal Math Leaves Kids Far Behind, by Sidney Schanberg for the Village Voice. It lays to rest the smoke and mirrors behind Bush's so-called "Texas Education Miracle." [via Mark Kleiman]

    Posted on September 21, 2003 at 01:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)