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"I am the world crier, & this is my dangerous career...

I am the one to call your bluff, & this is my climate."

—Kenneth Patchen (1911-1972)

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Saturday, February 12, 2000

On this date in 1963, Sylvia Plath died, a suicide, in London, age 30, on her third attempt.


Dying


is an art like everything else.

I do it exceptionally well.

I do it so it feels like hell.


— "Lady Lazarus" (1962)



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Man Charged in Decade-Long Abduction Case
"A Japanese man alleged to have abducted a schoolgirl and hidden her in his room for almost a decade in the home
he shared with his mother was arrested on Friday, police said."

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A new issue of the Center for Disease Control's Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal, which tracks new and reemerging infectious diseases worldwide, is available on the web. Current topics include coccidioidomycosis, Norwalk-like calcivirus infection, TB, malaria, and Japanese encephalitis.

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Michael, we never knew you wanted to be a stand-up comic too:
``Robert Downey Jr. is the finest actor of his generation. He can do anything and we hopefully will have him around for a long time to come.'' -- actor Michael Douglas, on his ``Wonder Boys'' co-star Robert Downey Jr., who is serving time for using drugs in violation of his probation.

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Daughter probes Ramblin' Jack Elliott: A new documentary by his daughter is a career tribute to the semi-obscure legendary folksinger and one-time protege of Woody Guthrie. 'Interviewee Kris Kristofferson tells her, "I never met anyone who was so enchanting on subjects I didn't give a damn about.'' Indeed,
Elliott is delightful company: a master at spinning tales, killing time, even doing drop-dead parodies of musical styles he doesn't fancy.
But pic does arrive at a wistful half-catharsis when Jack, cornered at last by his exasperated daughter, confesses they'll "never uncork
the secret'' of why he's been a less-than-ideal father. He is what he is: a rambler, albeit a marginally more settled one these days,
based in Northern California..., buoyed by belated accolades, including a '95 Grammy for his first
recording in 20 years, and a '98 National Medal of the Arts handed over by President Clinton himself.'

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United Colors of Sleaze and Exploitation: 'Missouri's attorney general has sued Italian clothing maker Benetton for alleged fraudulent
misrepresentation in gaining access to four American death row inmates who later appeared in the company's ad campaign.
Attorney General Jay Nixon said that when prison authorities in Potosi, Missouri, granted permission they were told that Benetton's
``We, On Death Row'' project was sponsored by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and that interviews done with
the inmates were intended for an article for Newsweek magazine.

``Instead, we find out that the project is a part of a Benetton advertising campaign, and the photographs and interviews are being
used in an ad campaign that includes billboards, videos and a 90-page supplement to be distributed nationwide in magazines,'' Nixon
said.'

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Do you know somebody on a protease inhibitor who needs to know this information immediately?
"One of the most commonly used herbal remedies, St. John's wort,
substantially reduces blood levels of the HIV-fighting drug indinavir, and may cause treatment failure in
some HIV-infected patients, US researchers report." [Reuters]

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Nelson Mandela celebrates the 10th anniversary of his release from 27 years of political imprisonment by the U.S.-backed South African apartheid regime for "high treason" .

>


Unveiling a plaque at a new monument in Mvezo, part of rural Transkei, where he was born July 18, 1918, the son of a chief's adviser. (photo: Juda Ngwenya/Reuters)


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Thursday, February 10, 2000

"Cyborgasms:" An Ethnography of Cybersex in AOL Chat Rooms
"Cybersex Amongst Multiple-Selves and Cyborgs in the
Narrow-Bandwidth Space of America Online Chat Rooms." Robin Hamman's 1996 master's thesis in sociology from the University of Essex (UK). By the way, she requests: "Please link to this paper by linking to my homepage at: http://www.cybersoc.com/" .

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Excited to learn from Lindsay Marshall's weblog that Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast novels have been adapted for the screen and just telecast on BBC. This was one of my favorite fantasies as I cast about after a J.R.R. Tolkien phase in early adolescence. Unique, very atmospheric; this darkly gothic fantasy world is an entire kingdom in a sprawling labyrinthine, uncharted castle. It's something I can't wait to read aloud to my children. "(The show) was very good, though there some rather OTT performances which were
weak (Warren Mitchell and Spike Milligan were the worst offenders). I don't know why people are saying it was a failure
because it was anything but. Whatever else it is a fantastic snapshot of the state of British acting at this time."

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While we're on the topic of network maps, see this nifty Java-based interactive map "... of some of the players in the internet space along with a portion of the alliances they have
formed. This visualization demonstrates the forces that agents exhibit upon each other in a complex interconnected
system. The interactions amongst the nodes emerge from the pattern of direct, and indirect, ties throughout the network." You can play with it, drag nodes around to change the scale and explore the network's innards. Does this remind anyone else of the visualization and manipulation of similar data Gibson describes in "Neuromancer"?

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Comments from the weblog lake effect about this week's DoS attacks on prominent websites. I agree; we're going to continue to see this happening, it's so absurdly easy to do, it seems. "The big media are missing the key point on this DoS Hell Week. The
computer security of the sites attacked -- Amazon, Yahoo, CNN, et cetera --
is not in question. The cause of these attacks is lax security on possibly as
many as 100,000 compromised sites where the hackers install their proxy
tools. These tools -- which can be effective with as few as 100 compromised
sites -- are the result of security research in the last year that turned up a
variety of Denial-of-Service Tools and techniques (here documented at
CERT). In short, this was a problem that was simmering quietly on the stove
while almost nobody paid attention -- until this week, when the techniques
began to be used for the first time against high-profile sites. This problem
will only get worse, as the number of poorly-managed systems with 24/7 net
connections continues to rise. New products like Norton Internet Security (a
one-PC firewall) will help -- except in this case, where the compromised
systems are Unix-based. I don't know of one at this moment, but a Windows
client can't be far behind."

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Arrest of Wisconsin man with mental illness quells public alarm about mysterious vials found taped to utility poles in several Wisconsin communities. The suspect told police they contained plain water and he'd taped them to utility poles because he was testing radio frequencies he believed were bombarding him, authorities said. When you reflect on it, it's much more likely than the scenarios that were probably going through people's minds about biological terrorist attacks, isn't it? As a psychiatrist, I teach trainees that there is a way in which the distress we feel when we're engaged with someone with mental illness is, in an initially mysterious way that has to begin to make sense to do this work, an inroads into the internal distress that the client feels. But I've never seen it illustrated in quite this way, or affecting an entire community. The story, it seems to me, isn't over now that the mystery is solved and the "perp" arrested; the interesting part, I hope, might just start now. It could have a positive effect on the ongoing public misconceptions about and stigmatization of those with psychiatric illnesses if anyone speaks out, in a manner akin to my point above; or it could merely reinforce...

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A Picture of Weblogs mapped onto a linkage space. I'm a peripheral participant in this weblog phenomenon but continue to be fascinated by its sociology. Somewhere down below, I said something about the incestuousness of the blog community, I think. This makes it graphical. Is there any comprehensible reason the weblog-space organizes itself this way? Something about the balance between momentum and gravity? "a picture of approximately 240 weblogs and the links connecting them. Weblogs are denoted by a box, a link is
denoted by a line. Clicking on a box will show the URL of the weblog that was scanned." What the author of this mapping application needs to do is make it possible for the viewer to navigate to the sites by clicking on their loci, IMHO...

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Ford's Astoundingly Better Idea. Commentary from Jon Katz (Slashdot) on Ford's announcement that it will be giving computers and net access to each of its 350,000 employees and their families. Other corporations are reportedly already following suit. Possibly good business sense and potentially socially transformative, when you think about it:
"If other American companies adopted Ford's model, the technological gap looming between
the middle-class and underclass would begin to close. The United States workforce would
become the most technologically sophisticated in the world. The high-tech workforce would
expand dramatically, along with the educational, cultural, social and economic benefits of
computing still unavailable to more than half the American population."

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So You've Decided to be Evil Given the "banality of evil," I knew there must be a DIY manual for this somewhere!

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Monday, February 7, 2000

I've always been a cult-watcher. Sometimes I've been fond of saying that there's little difference between our indoctrination into our common cultural dream and what cults do to hook their members. One cult I find particularly insidious, both because of their web presence and their anti-psychiatric biases, is Sc*ent*l*gy. Here is a massive collection of links to web information about them from the alt.religion.sc*ent*l*gy Usenet newsgroup.

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Sunday, February 6, 2000

Asian Recipes . with herbs, culture, ingredients, glossaries and cooking from Afghanistan to Vietnam.

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The Ad Critic: Super Bowl XXXIV Coverage If you don't watch football but you want to stay attuned to the state of the art in the battle for your heart, mind and bank balance, (or maybe you just enjoy ads! My wife's father was an advertising executive and she tells me that, growing up in her household, commercials were watched with rapt attention and the programs in between were just interruptions one could talk through) this site will provide quicktime videos of all the TV commercials from this year's Superbowl.

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Pro-choice Democratic women candidates: EMILY's List
"identifies viable pro-choice Democratic women candidates for key federal and statewide
offices.

EMILY's List has helped elect six pro-choice Democratic women to the U.S. Senate, 44 to
the U.S. House, and three women governors."

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Caught this comment at the Evhead weblog: "I predict, the next big thing in
weblogging will be actually have a rest of a site -- wherein, the weblog is but a feature.
Ah hell, what am I talking about, that sounds like work." Well, I've got you covered; for some of us newcomers to weblogging, the site came first...

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