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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, April 1, 2000

Review of John Colapinto's As Nature Made Him. One of two twin infants in Winnipeg loses his penis as a result of a surgical mishap during their circumcision. His parents follow the advice of a controversial sex researcher and, with the aid of surgical castration and "a rigid programme of social, mental and hormonal conditioning," raise him as a girl, in what is called "the first infant sex reassignment to be reported on a developmentally normal child." The case "made medical history and was lauded as completely successful." It was anything but.

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John Perry Barlow declares himself a rake. [Nerve]

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The Decline and Fall: Baby Born With Bullet Wound

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Second Big Iceberg Breaks Off From Antarctica "...new iceberg lies to the north and east of Roosevelt Island and is 80 miles by 12 miles. The larger
iceberg is 183 miles by 23 miles, roughly the size of Jamaica.


...The researchers said it was not yet clear if the icebergs would pose a threat to shipping.

Researchers say large chunks are breaking off of Antarctica for several reasons,
some due to global warming."

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Lottery Win Kidney Patient Bombarded by Donors
"A kidney dialysis patient who won $6.54 million in Britain's national lottery has been bombarded with offers of
kidneys for transplant in return for some of his winnings."

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Why charismatic cults have such a foothold in East Africa by BBC East African analyst David Bamford.

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More about the Ugandan cult murders. Police report briefly detaining cult leaders in 1998 for "promoting poverty." It appears that the murders followed the anger of cult members (who had been persuaded to give their property to the cult) when they were refused refunds they demanded because the world had not ended on December 31 as cult leaders had prophesized.

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The Madness of 'King George': "The most
damaging charge against Bush is that he seems to want a
coronation, not a campaign. It provides a single explanation
for so many of Bush's perceived shortcomings: his
unpreparedness on issues, hence the need for scripting; his
lament in January—January!—about being tired and wanting
to sleep in his own bed; his preference for formal speeches
over town meetings; his inaccessibility to the media. The
coronation metaphor can even be expanded to his earlier life,
lending credibility to the criticism that everything he has
achieved has been the result of his name and connections:
getting into Yale, getting into the National Guard, the
sweetheart sale of his oil company, his participation in the
purchase of the Texas Rangers ball club, the governorship of
Texas, and, finally, the Republican nomination. Character
ought to be Bush's strength. His personal qualities are beyond
reproach and so is his record of running the government
without a whiff of scandal or favoritism. He is the son of
parents we admire as people. And yet, just as his other
strengths—money, endorsements, family—have been turned
against him, so has character."

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Judith Shulevitz of Slate disses Barbara Ehrenreich for "lack of solidarity with workers". After working cleaning houses for three weeks to research a piece for Harper's, Ehrenreich had called for people not to hire maids.

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Other buildings Worth "Kingdome"-ing [Slate] And video of the dome's implosion [MSNBC]

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Does a Short Index Finger Make You Gay? [Slate]

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Friday, March 31, 2000

The Periodic Table of Poetry [via Calamondin]

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Implode the KingDome yourself.

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Great use for the web. Create and publish a reading list, sharing books that matter to you. "Find others who share your tastes or...expand your horizons...Make new friends and start great conversations." Trouble is, I'm not sure I want to be part of a virtual community based on people who have read the same books I have. (Did Groucho Marx say that?)

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Thursday, March 30, 2000

More for you Malcolm Gladwell watchers -- an interview by Toby Lester from the Atlantic.

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Recent research had turned the paleontological world on its head by indicating intermingling and perhaps even interbreeding of Neanderthals and Cro-Magnon human ancestors. Now a new study using DNA derived from Neanderthal tissue samples concludes that we do not have Neanderthal in our bloodlines. [BBC]

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Thanks to Jorn Barger for pointing us to this: Gillian Anderson's first journalistic assignment is interviewing David Duchovny! 'But maybe we should have therapy for long-running
series actors. It'd be good for the cast of "Friends" to
have group therapy. We'd have couples therapy,
because we're not an ensemble...(W)e do spend so
much time together, and it's a hard relationship to
navigate. As soon as I say, "No, we don't see each
other after work," then it's "You hate each other."'

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Blood test results without venipuncture!

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The saga of BlowTheDotOutYourAss.com:
"The Sams aren't trying to
stop the Internet from ruining San Francisco; they just want to
remind people how absurd it is to work like a dog, in a city
that is quickly forgetting leisure and humor, for a company
that's revolutionizing something as inconsequential as how
you purchase toothpaste." [Salon]

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A Heartwarming Tale of Staggering Generosity
"This could perhaps be
the first time in domain-name history that a URL mix-up has
inspired such generosity, especially between an otherwise
unlikely pair. Truly staggering and, hopefully, inspiring." McSweeneys.com to host mcsweeneys.net.

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Planets for Dessert
On April 6, 2000, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars and the
Moon will put on a delightful after-dinner sky show.



The quartet will
converge inside a circle just 9 degrees across. To admire the display, simply go outside after dinner on April 6 and look toward
the southwest sky. Around 8 p.m. local daylight savings time the slender crescent
moon will be easy to spot about 30 degrees above the horizon. The brightest
nearby "star" will be Jupiter. At magnitude -2.1, the giant planet is 8 times
brighter than Saturn, which glows pale yellow less than 3 degrees west of the
Moon. Mars will lie a scant 1.1 degrees north of Jupiter. The red planet
(magnitude 0.3) will be about 3 times fainter than Saturn (magnitude 1.4).

The article on this conjunction also includes a discussion on the May 5, 2000 grand conjunction of the moon and five planets. Will it be apocalyptic, as some predict?


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Proposed flag desecration amendment again stopped in the Senate:
"...two Senators switched their positions
to join 35 of their colleagues in resoundingly
defeating a proposed constitutional amendment to
ban desecration of the flag. The amendment, which
fell four votes shy of the two-thirds majority was
stopped by a flood of constituent letters and calls to
Congress." [ACLU]

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`Wonderland': Wrung Out, Strung Out in Bedlam: my profession, with its chaos uncensored, debuts on television tonight. "Because the patients in "Wonderland" are psychiatric cases,
the series has a surreal aura, sparing and effectively used.
Here a patient behind barred windows looks down at his
slippers and sees a tiny rhino step around them. Because
these shots from the patient's perspective are rare,
watching the show is not like existing in some mad state of
mind. The effect is more jolting, as if the sanity of the
doctors and the illness of the patients were present in the
air, at times colliding with a physical force.

What saves the series from total bleakness is the shaky order
the doctors impose. They are played by a spectacular cast." [New York Times] Update: I'm hooked.

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[Slate]:Disrobed:
The Supreme Court upheld a ban on nude dancing. The
court ruled 6-3 that an Erie, Pa., law banning public nudity,
including that of nightclub dancers, does not violate the
First Amendment. Requiring pasties and G-strings "leaves
ample capacity to convey the dancer's erotic message."
Justice O'Connor's majority spin: "Being 'in a state of
nudity' is not an inherently expressive condition." Justice
Scalia and Justice Thomas' concurrent spin: What's more, a
community should be able to declare public nudity
immoral.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2000

''Potter'' planted: Chris Columbus (Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire, Bicentennial Man) selected by Warner Bros. to direct screen adaptation of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, the first installment of an anticipated long-running and lucrative "Potter" franchise.

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Harry Potter's Wizardry Banned From School
Harry Potter, the fictional young wizard who captured children's imagination all over the world, has been banished
from one English school because his magical powers go against the teachings of the Bible.

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A rogue wave smashed into a Navy destroyer seven miles west of the Golden Gate, leaving crewman with two broken legs.

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Ben may freeze Jerry out of impending deal

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Study Links Agent Orange, Diabetes
"A U.S. Air Force study released on Wednesday showed a
significant link between Agent Orange and diabetes in veterans who took part in
spraying the dioxin-laced jungle defoliant in the Vietnam War."

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Mayor Giuliani has given up his ill-advised assault on the First Amendment at the Brooklyn Museum [New York Times editorial]

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Planet hunters find new worlds smaller than Saturn
"Planet-hunting
astronomers have crossed an
important threshold in planet
detection with the discovery of two
planets that may be smaller in mass
than Saturn."

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Tuesday, March 28, 2000

WebRing: unusual museums of the Internet. {from Boing Boing}

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Here and here are a couple of websites about the joys of trepanation. Some friends of mine are concerned that this will be The Next Big Thing among A Certain Segment.

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Hilary Swank's Academy Award acceptance speech infuriated JoAnn Brandon, whose daughter Swank portrayed in Boys Don't Cry. (See this film!)

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SSRI antidepressants may be effective against hot flashes

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TopoZone: for people who don't like maps where all there is between the highways is white space. This one has my block on it.

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'Harry Potter' to encounter love and death [Nando Times]

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As if it weren't bad enough dept.: Chemotherapy may dull mental ability, research finds
"Ordinary doses of chemotherapy can sometimes appear to dull survivors' intellectual
powers, leaving them with poor memories, muddy thinking and inability to do math in their heads, new research suggests.

Cancer patients often complain of "chemobrain," or woolly-headedness during treatment. While they are typically reassured this will go away, little
attempt has been made until now to see if these subtle problems linger years later.

The new study, conducted at Dartmouth Medical School, found that people who get standard chemotherapy appear to be about twice as likely as other
cancer patients to score poorly on various intelligence tests an average of 10 years after their treatment."

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Ban the 'Tubbies: "A coalition of child advocates today asked Public Broadcasting
System (PBS) President Pat Mitchell to stop broadcasting the Teletubbies, a television
program marketed to children as young as twelve months, because young children should
play instead of watching television, and fast food companies use the Teletubbies to market
junk food."

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ZEN-- an experiential introduction.

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The Military & CNN: My favorite muckraker Alexander Cockburn discovered that a Dutch journalist had discovered that, until recently, a handful of military personnel from the 4th Psychological Operations Group (i.e. PSYOPs)
based at Fort Bragg have been working in CNN's
headquarters in Atlanta assisting in the production of news stories. A U.S. Army spokesperson confirmed their assignment and commented that, "conceivably, they would have worked on stories during the Kosovo war." The liaison program reportedly ended only when the Dutch report on it broke. I'm as flabbergasted as Cockburn that no U.S. media have picked up this story!

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Jobless white builder rules as African king
"HENK OTTE, a 43-year-old unemployed ex-builder from
Amsterdam, has been crowned King Togbe Korsi Ferdinand
Gakpector II following the discovery that he is the reincarnation
of the last great warrior king of the 250,000-strong Ewe tribe in
Ghana." Here is his homepage.

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Doctors Advise Against Vitamin C With Cancer Therapy
"Taking high doses of vitamin C while undergoing traditional cancer therapy may interfere with radiation or
chemotherapy treatments and, in a perverse way, possibly protect the very cancer cells the treatments are designed to destroy,
doctors said on Monday."

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Hackers Knew Bill Gates' Credit Card Details

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Special issue of Feed on The New Brain: "At the end of our century, the science of the
brain has opened up a new frontier of understanding about how
our minds shape the self and the cultures we've built to house
it. Neuroscience research into human behavior and experience
is diverse and prone to unproven speculation, but even at this
early stage, a handful of broad conclusions seem unavoidable."

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Monday, March 27, 2000

Now I know why Bush and Gore really won.

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[Salon]:The inner Doughboy. 'Some onlookers are muttering that
the guardians of the brand icons have become so enraptured
by these happy little beings that they've lost their grip on
reality. "There are whole documents on what these characters
will and won't do," complains Court Crandall, creative
director at Ground Zero, a Santa Monica, Calif., advertising
agency. "The documents go into the thousands of pages ...
Meanwhile, no one ever stops to consider whether the
character even feels worth a damn in the first place. There's a
fine line between being a good brand custodian and being
certifiably insane."'

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Prospect of Patriots' Stadium Name Controversial: Foxboro, MA officials are aghast about the possibility that Monster.com will buy the rights to name the new stadium slated for the New England Patriots.

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Sunday, March 26, 2000

Life 1936-72; '78-2000

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Law & Order star sues eBay: "The actor
who plays Det. Lennie Briscoe on
NBC's "Law & Order" is suing
eBay, claiming it leaked his Social
Security number with disastrous
consequences to his credit rating."

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A taxonomy of the ways in which good intentions go bad. [Nando Times]

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BBC News: Racists 'stalked top athlete'
"British Olympic gold medal hope Ashia Hansen
was stalked by the racist gang which attacked
her white boyfriend, the couple believe.

Ms Hansen's boyfriend Chris Cotter is
recovering at a secret address after being
stabbed in the back and slashed across the
face by a gang of up to five men."

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Embargo killed almost 10,000 in February, Iraq claims [Nando Times]

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Name at issue in Northern Ireland dispute: Protestants link a return to a power-sharing government with the retention of the name of the area's police force, the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

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Is classroom decorum in higher education deteriorating?

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Yay! Britain's Sellafield nuclear plant, "nuclear dustbin of the world", which reprocesses spent nuclear fuel, fights for its life. [BBC]

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Some doctors are now saying that every 40-year-old should get a full-body CAT scan [MSNBC]

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Website welcomes wagers on your child's future [Nando Times]

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Apex DVD Player capabilities worrying the Motion Picture Association of America [Wired]

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Terabit lasers promise huge fiber-optic transmission rates. Net Speed Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet [Wired]

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Would you let your smart card figure out his/her potential compatibility with you?

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I probably won't get any argument from most of you that these are more meaningful than the Academy Awards.

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