[Follow Me!]


"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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Sunday, April 30, 2000

Webdweller - Home of the average human face. This site collects photos of viewers and morphs them together, aiming at portraying the "average human face." So far they have around a hundred contributions, almost all of them Caucasian, but they hope that will broaden in time. Not 'til the ethnic mix of web users broadens...

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Thyroid Humor?

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'This is a new disease and we are
entering the unknown.' Britain may still
harbour CJD timebomb, warns professor.

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I'd been following this (Boston) story. The survivor's story just didn't add up. Now, desert mercy-killing man charged with murder.

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More Rx-Free Medications: "The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday that it would
consider making several kinds of drugs -- from blood pressure
treatments to birth control pills -- available without a doctor's
prescription for the first time."

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Saturday, April 29, 2000

A Brazilian Convict's Path From Poverty to 'a Very Dark Place': '"This is a shadowy place," Mr. Dias said, stirring from his
reverie. "Fear lives inside every prisoner. Anyone who
denies that is lying. Fear of the violence. Fear of this
all-male darkness. Fear you will never get out. But I talk to
God every day and ask him to see me through."'[New York Times]

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Friday, April 28, 2000

Mikhail Gorbachev Warns The US Of Its Dangerous "Superiority Complex" 'and said that, if the 21st century became known as the second "American
Century", the rest of the world would have suffered.

Speaking in New York, the former Soviet President criticised Madeleine Albright, the US
Secretary of State, for saying that there were exceptional circumstances in which the US
had the right to use military force unilaterally, even if other countries objected.'

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Break Up Microsoft?...Then How About The Media 'Big Six'?

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[BBC]: beer 'may be good for you'; "However, one should not drink alcohol to
become healthy."

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Thursday, April 27, 2000

special feature : Wake up and smell the chocolate. Good news for chocoholics: it's not only good but may be good for you. (And we'll ignore the opposite possibilities.) [Nature]

  •  

Top Internet Art Prize Goes to Science-Fiction Writer
Neal Stephenson, the only science fiction author to riffle my imagination seriously in the last few years, will receive the top
prize in the Internet category of the Prix Ars Electronica, the prestigious computer arts award. This is the second consecutive year that the award
has gone to something other than an online art work.

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As I said, I'm a psychiatrist who liked Wonderland. Now it's been cancelled after just two episodes. Acclaim Couldn't Assure a Home for Dark `Wonderland'
"ABC executives said that as proud as they
were of the unsettling series, "Wonderland" was simply rejected
by audiences, who probably found it too dark and harrowing.
Those executives said that viewers were turned off by the show
and that neither protests from mental health professionals nor
the skittishness of some advertisers had any bearing on their
decision. ABC had ordered eight episodes, which leaves six
unseen on television." [New York Times]

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U.S. Says Russians May Want a Deal on Missile Defense
'But they acknowledged that Foreign Minister Igor S. Ivanov and
the chief Russian arms control negotiator, Georgi Memedev, had
revealed no significant shift in their opposition to the missile
defense plan. "The Russians have shown a willingness to intensify
the process," a senior administration official said. "But we're not
seeing a huge shift."'
Sure, we're not seeing a shift. That's because the US wants to abrogate the ABM treaty to develop the Star Wars missile defense system. We say we're trying to defend ourselves against rogue states' or terrorists' ballistic missile attacks. But because Russia can't afford to build all the extra warheads that would be necessary to overcome our new defensive umbrella, the deterrence parity between our two nuclear arsenals would be lost. So, quite naturally, they don't want to let us bow out of the ABM Treaty. I still say that the solution would be to develop anti-missile defenses jointly with the Russians.

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Peace, Love and Murder: Punk Rocker Stalks Killer Hippie for A&E: "I'm a short film maker. On the strength of one of my Super 8 films I was hired as a cameraman for a documentary
entitled Peace, Love & Murder--The Search For Ira Einhorn, that would be airing on A&E's Investigative Reports. I
was sent by myself to France for a month, armed with my wits and a digital video camera, to shoot footage of Ira
Einhorn, a 60's hippie leader from Philadelphia, who killed his girlfriend Holly Maddux in 1977 and has been
hiding in the south of France ever since." [broken pencil]

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What is going on here??

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Jorn Barger points us to this information about Pynchon's next one.

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"Imagine an innovative
new transportation
device
, representing a
change as significant as
the motor car's invention
almost 100 years ago."

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Whether you are a thrill-seeker or complacent may come down to a tiny protein that controls how much stimulation it takes to cause adrenaline release. [New Scientist]

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Tiny, hot and flat.

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Egg Breakthrough Lifts Hopes for Infertile Women: even with donor eggs, infertile women can have their own genetic children, it appears.

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Two Pairs Beats All: Woman Gives Birth To Two Sets Of Twins. "The odds are one in 24 million, but a Groton, Mass. couple beat the odds when they became the parents of two sets of identical twins.

Cheryl Scammell-Battles gave birth to four boys by C-section at St. Elizabeth's Medial Center in Brighton early Saturday morning." My very best wishes to the Scammell-Battles!

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A writer named Jay Jennings whines about how his New York Times op-ed piece got passed around the Web without attribution. In the process, he makes bad jokes about amputees (really). Too bad this Slate article by him isn't worth passing around without attribution.

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Slate: economist Steven Landsburg on why shopping carts keep growing. Really. And it's interesting.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2000

Jury Nullification: Judge Flips Over Jury's Verdict by Coin Toss: "A Kentucky judge has declared a mistrial in a murder case after finding out that the jury decided the defendant's
fate with the flip of a coin."

  •  

Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival

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Police Nab Five-Year-Old Mugger

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Tuesday, April 25, 2000

"Jailing a woman with a newborn baby for a traffic offense and allowing testimony from a 500-year-old spirit are just two stories
recounted in the National Law Journal's 'Stupid Judge Tricks,' a compendium of injudicious judicial behavior."

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Dog Shoots Cat?

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Yahoo! News - Almost human: Completing the sequencing of the human genome is only the beginning. How to figure out what are the significant parts of the data derived, and how to use it? Sequencing the mouse genome may turn out to be the Rosetta Stone for understanding the human genome. "Both genomes have about three billion bases,
only about 3 per cent of which codes for functional genes--the other 97 per cent being "junk DNA". In the many millions of years since
mice and humans diverged from a common ancestor, much of the important DNA has been conserved, while the "junk" has mutated
freely and is now very different. That means that simply comparing the two genomes will be an efficient way of identifying vital
stretches of DNA, including genes and sequences that regulate gene expression.

Even better, by "knocking out" selected genes in lab mice, we get a good idea of what they do. The equivalent genes in humans should
have very similar functions."

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Toronto's Homeless Live Longer Than U.S. Homeless
``Possible contributory factors include the effects of universal health insurance and access to health care in Canada, lower homicide
rates, particularly among young men, and the differential health effects of short-term versus chronic homelessness,'' said study author
Stephen Hwang of St. Michael's Hospital at the University of Toronto.

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Going Backwards: U.S. Nuclear Stockpile Plans Draw Scrutiny. >180 signatories to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty are critical of U.S. plans to refurbish and upgrade more than 6,000 deployed strategic warheads and decisions to maintain an "inactive reserve" of weapons withdrawn from deployment due to weapons reductions negotiated in disarmament treaties. [Washington Post]

  •  

Send a free fax from the
ACLU website to your Senators, in opposition to the proposed "Victims' Rights Amendment" to the Constitution.
This week's Senate vote is expected to be
close as proponents have already lined up more than 40 co-sponsors. More than 20 senators still have not
indicated how they will vote on the proposed amendment.

Why on earth oppose victims' rights?? In my opinion, as that of the ACLU, although victims should be heard and protected in
the criminal justice system, this proposed amendment would jeopardize the
principle of innocent until proven guilty and the right to a fair trail.
Amending the Constitution to allow victims to voice their opinions at every
step of a prosecution could undermine the foundation of our justice system
and the ability of the courts to operate in an impartial and fair manner.

In addition to Wendy Kaminer and other leading columnists, the amendment
has drawn the opposition of domestic violence groups and other victims
advocates, hundreds of law school professors, editorial boards from across
the country and more than 8,000 civil liberties activists.

  •  

Drugging Elián: Was there a tranquilizer behind the blissful picture of Elian reunited with his father? Will Elian fall prey to the Soviet-style machinations of Cuban psychiatrists and be "brainwashed" into the desireability of Cuban life? Are U.S. psychiatrists their moral equivalents, having already started the process? [Slate] And here's more discussion of the sensationalized photographs, by William Saletan.

  •  

Swap meat: Salon profiles
David Schisgall's "The
Lifestyle: Group Sex in the Suburbs," a new documentary that
"explores the huge, secret, all-American world of suburban
swingers and finds that it does not resemble a '70s porn movie
in the least."

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In-Eliánable Rights: Slate reviews the European press' reactions to the Elian affair. There seems to be a remarkable consistency behind sentiments like this:
In the Observer, Hugh O'Shaughnessy...described Cuban-American activists as "one
of the most unattractive group of voters on the US electoral
roll short of the Ku Klux Klan" and said that by teaming up
with "nationalist extremists such as Senator Jesse Helms in
Congress, the exiles have screamed and shouted and
flourished their voting power so that most US politicians have
quailed at the thought of crossing them....I certainly would not
want the six-year-old Elian—or indeed any of my own
grandchildren—to be constrained to grow up amid the
sickening lawlessness of South Florida."


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Monday, April 24, 2000

Death notice pinned on door: Coroner's policy distresses mother. 'But as Mary Sprague stood near her front door April 5, she wondered the same thing she
wonders now: "Is this how they do it? Is this how they tell you that your only son is dead?"' [Sacramento Bee

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Radio station's egg promotion poses a taxing problem at post offices. _It was a raw sort of idea whose time was not now 'Philadelphia radio station managers and personalities have egg on their faces after promoting a contest that
asked listeners to mail raw eggs to the station in a letter-size envelope.... the first person to
successfully mail an unblemished and properly packaged egg in a No. 10 envelope was to win $1,000.'

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Diary by John Lanchester, John detects the seeds of disaster in London's new, eight-digit phone numbers. [Slate]

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The new Impressionists: "John Kennedy, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, is busy showing
that paying close attention to the blind may tell us a whole lot about art, after all.

Over three decades of experiments, the Irish-born scientist has shown that the blind can
make and understand pictures in ways that no one had imagined. And that fact forces us
to rethink many of our preconceptions about representational art in general."

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Official selections for the Cannes Film Festival [Variety]

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Chilling effect of Kimberly Glasco's reinstatement - CBC Infoculture: a prima ballerina is ordered back to work at the National Ballet of Canada by a judge pending the outcome of her wrongful dismissal suit. Extremely uncomfortable for all concerned.

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Martyrs, demons, or splendid anti-role models? David Edelstein reflects on the cultural significance of the Three Stooges, dares to admit he finds them hilarious, and even lets his toddler watch them on TV. She promptly smacks him upside the head. [Slate]

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An Inquiry Out of Control: "No one investigates the investigators. So they sometimes
run wild." New York Times, tell us something we don't know...

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David Irving Unrepentant After Libel Suit Dismissed: "The worst was the way
he kept repeating in an insinuating manner that if he
were Jewish, he would be asking himself exactly what
his people had been doing for thousands of years to
make everyone hate them so much.

He was clearly trying to imply that the Jewish people
deserved what happened to them during the Holocaust,
and they should be looking to correct their errant
behavior and perhaps redeem themselves." [Jerusalem Post]

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Genteel Auction Houses Turn to Hearse-Chasing: "Every weekday a list of rich New Yorkers who have died
recently is faxed to desks at the city's dominant auction
houses, Christie's and Sotheby's. Compiled by an outside
service, it contains names of the deceased, the value of
their estates and names and addresses of relatives and
executors." [New York Times]

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Sunday, April 23, 2000

Tom Lehrer spotting! [SF Weekly]

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Saturday, April 22, 2000

Put Ananova, the computer-generated virtual newscaster, through her paces.

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The New York Times makes public the history of the CIA-engineered coup in Iran which returned the Shah to power in 1953 and toppled its elected prime minister Mohammed Mossadegh. The document was written in 1954 by one of the coup's main planners.

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Bedbugs make their return in UK and perhaps US.

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Hacker fells Area 51 Web site

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Feds Try Odd Anti-Porn Approach: "The U.S. Department of Justice is quietly recruiting critics of filtering software to help it
defend a controversial anti-pornography law in court.

Government attorneys are asking librarians and academics who have published criticisms of the
controversial filtering products to testify in an expected trial over the Child Online Protection Act. The Justice Department's reasoning is simple: If products like Cyberpatrol and Surfwatch are
so badly flawed that they don't block what they should, then the judge in the case should
uphold a federal law making it a crime to post erotica online instead." [Wired]

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FBI works to head off plans to pardon Leonard Peltier: 'FBI officials across the nation are mobilizing to prevent a presidential pardon for Leonard
Peltier, the American Indian activist imprisoned for murder whose claim of innocence has inspired a two-decade protest movement in his behalf.

(Officials)... say they fear that Peltier, in prison for killing two FBI agents will be freed by President Clinton on his way out of office.

"Recently, information has been received to indicate that Leonard Peltier, who has been convicted for his direct participation in the murders of
two Special Agents of the FBI, will be considered for release from prison as a result of executive intervention," David Williams, special agent in
charge of Milwaukee's FBI office, wrote in a letter to the Journal Sentinel, one of a number of letters the FBI sent to newspapers around the
country....Amnesty International considers Peltier to be a political prisoner who should be unconditionally released. Gina Chiala, a coordinator for the
Leonard Peltier Defense Committee in Lawrence, Kan., said "the Justice Department has been pretty tight-lipped" about any possible plans for
Peltier's release.

With Peltier's growing status as a political prisoner in Native-American circles, the FBI appears to be taking the unusual step of entering into a
public relations battle to affect the possible actions of the executive branch. ' Fascinating development, as is the fact that for the first time an Administration might finally be listening to the longstanding fervent advocacy on Peltier's behalf.

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Pot Calls Kettle Black: ``They said they were going to do this in a sensitive way. What does this do to this little boy? What have
they done to this boy? He lost his mother, and now this.''

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I realize that I seem to be posting more stuff recently related to my interests as a physician. I'm thinking about recent days' items such as the feuding addictionologists, the research findings about face recognition in autistic-spectrum disorders, and the comparative ratings of state medical boards. Is this stuff meaningful to you lay people or would you rather see it shifted to a second weblog geared more for medical or mental health professionals? I've toyed with the idea of separating it out. [Of course, then I could have two weblogs nobody reads instead of just one!] Comments?

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"Mafiaboy" wiretaps also land his father: Police allege that surveillance in international hacking case turned up plans for assault. [Montreal Gazette]

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How Stuff Works!

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Showdown With The Pinkertons
"...Jim told me something I hadn't quite grasped: the anonymous reporting culture is a growing
business, now deeply entrenched in the United States, a result of the victimization movement
and lawsuit epidemic rampant for nearly a generation. Encouraged by federal and local
governments, and many corporate and educational institutions, hotlines operate all over the
country to report date rape, sexual harassment, abuse, and other forms of brutality and
insensitivity. Since so many institutions in the United States are now presumed to be
unresponsive to the needs of one group or another, privately-administered anonymous
reporting hotlines are spreading. Pinkerton itself runs more than 800 such lines. It was
inevitable, said Jim, that they would move into schools..."

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Friday, April 21, 2000

[via Phil Agre's Red Rock Eater News Service]: PRIVACY Forum: Massive Tracking of Web Users Planned -- Via ISPs!. "Picture a world where information about your every move on the Web,
including the sites that you visit, the keywords that you enter into search
engines, and so on, are all shipped off to a third party, with the willing
cooperation of your Internet Service Provider (ISP). None of those pesky
cookies to disable, no outside Web sites to put on block lists--just a direct
flow of data from your ISP to the unseen folks with the dollar signs (or
pound, yen, euro, or whatever signs) gleaming brightly in their eyes behind
the scenes. You'll of course be told that your information is "anonymous"
and that you can trust everyone involved, that you'll derive immense benefits
from such tracking, and that you have an (at least theoretical) opt-in or
opt-out choice."

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This is seemingly one round fired in an internal battle between two luminaries in the addiction medicine field. Stanton Peele's website attacks Doug Talbott's Recovery Program by hosting the open letters of a disgruntled attorney who had a terrible experience under Talbott's care and knows an ethical violation when he sees one. But, since you probably don't care about Peele or Talbott, this is interesting to read as a good encapsulation of the clash of two treatment paradigms. Patients best understood as "dual-diagnosis" are often, in my opinion, ill-served and even damaged at the hands of rabid "recovery" proponents. [As an aside, Talbott's Recovery Campus has been one of the flagship sites of Charter Behavioral Health Systems, the largest for-profit owner-operator of mental health care facilities in the country which is about to be liquidated under Chapter 11 bankruptcy. I'm currently acting as medical director of a psychiatric hospital that was until recently a Charter facility.]

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"It's virtually impossible for animals to consent to sex with humans..."

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Health officials warn of transgender tuberculosis risk.

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Duck 'n' Cover, '00's style

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Newest installment in the Annals of the Age of Depravity: Mich. Moves to Ban Sale of Babies

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Thursday, April 20, 2000

The Cosmos is Coming:
"When it comes online in six months to a year, Microsoft’s SkyServer will be the astronomical
equivalent of the company's popular TerraServer, which catalogs aerial images of the Earth
and is one of the biggest databases on the Internet.

In the same way users of the TerraServer choose a region of the planet and drill down for
pictures of the ground at ever greater resolution, users of the SkyServer will be able choose
a region of the sky and probe deeper and deeper into space...
But unlike the TerraServer, which is essentially a collection of unprocessed pictures, the
SkyServer data will be somewhat 'cooked' –- analyzed and catalogued -- allowing members
of the public to do science with the data." [Wired]

  •  

The Sociable Media Group at MIT investigates issues
concerning identity and
society in the networked
world.

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I just found out that Dave McReynolds, whose work for the New York-based pacifist organization the War Resistors' League I've watched for more than thirty years, is running for President on the Socialist Party ticket.

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[Salon]:
"On the eve of the
Columbine massacre anniversary, stunning new allegations
about the killings emerged from long-expected lawsuits filed
by victims' families late Wednesday. They include charges that
a law enforcement officer, not Dylan Klebold or Eric Harris,
killed student Daniel Rohrbough, and that officers knew early
on that Klebold and Harris were dead, and thus could have
saved teacher Dave Sanders, who bled to death four hours
after he was shot."

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Born to pop pills:
"I was a Girl Scout in pursuit of my pharmaceuticals badge. I
was a walking medicine cabinet; I nearly rattled when I
walked. I trusted pills. I could have kissed the chemist who
created gel caps. Two blue-green gel caps -- meditate on that. I
mean, was there any image more soothing? Not for me." [Salon]

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Molly Ivins tries to goose up your outrage level.

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Lies, Damed Lies Statistics and Yellow Journalism: Sure I'm defensive about this. The advocacy group Public Citizen has posted a report by Sidney Wolfe MD ranking the 50 state medical boards' rates of serious disciplinary actions in 1999 and earlier years. My state, Massachusetts, rates near the bottom. Wolfe and Public Citizen imply that that means the medical board is lax, or that its members are covering for their inept colleagues:
"These data raise serious questions about the extent to which patients in many states with poorer records of serious doctor discipline are
being protected from physicians who might well be barred from practice in states with boards that are doing a better job of disciplining
physicians. It is likely that patients are being injured or killed more often in states with poor doctor disciplinary records than in states
with consistent top performances."

But, at least for Massachusetts, couldn't it mean that the quality of medical care is higher and the need for disciplinary action lower, as I think it might be? The state has four medical schools and an enormous proportion of its medical practitioners are medical faculty, leaders in their disciplines; another large proportion are researchers without enough patient contact to commit disciplinable offenses. Think about it: the four best-ranked states are AK, with a total of just 1160 physicians; ND, with 1596 physicians state-wide; WY, with 981; and ID, with 2278. Massachusetts had 27622 physicians in 1999.

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Why Web Journals Suck by Diane Patterson. Some of the comments are germane to weblogs too. There's a section called "Hit Sluts" on how to attract more readers, with some thoughtful suggestions. One of them is to post a long diatribe about how web journals suck. Good work, Diane. Another is to link to other journals or weblogs, especially popular ones. Good work, Eliot. Let's face it, I'm a hit slut too.

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HIV puzzle explored:
new report of an elderly patient
who has survived with the infection for about 15 years, untroubled by any virus-related complications,
according to a group of Italian physicians.

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Mounties Probe Fragrant Student
"A teacher (in Sheet Harbour, Nova Scotia) has asked Royal Canadian Mounted Police to investigate whether a student is ignoring the
school's policy against wearing scented products and intentionally trying to cause her to experience allergic reactions.

If investigators deem the boy is intentionally trying to harm the teacher, the student could be charged with assault or mischief."

  •  

Can George W. Save Bill G.? by Ted Rose
Last week, the New York Times reported that George W.
Bush campaign consultant Ralph Reed was moonlighting for
Microsoft, lobbying Bush about the company's antitrust case. Could
Bush really make a difference in the case if he assumed the
presidency in 2001? [Slate]

  •  

Slate: Baby Needs a New Set of Genes - Everyone's against genetic discrimination. Or so they think.  by Michael Kinsley
"So this ban on genetic discrimination that everyone seems
to be for would, if applied consistently, be an exercise in social
leveling like nothing since the Khmer Rouge turned Cambodia
into Kampuchea. That seems to leave only two logically
coherent positions, both intolerable: 1) level away; or 2) don't
start down this road, because there's no place to stop." Does Kinsley really think we'll stop and think just because we're on a slippery slope??

  •  

Wednesday, April 19, 2000

The scoop on The Copernicus Plot: Seven of the 260 surviving copies of Polish
astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus' momentous 1543
book De Revolutionibus Orbium
Coelestium (On the Revolution of Heavenly Spheres)
, in which he argued that the Earth goes around the
sun and not vice versa, have been stolen from university
and scientific libraries worldwide over the past several
years. Worth $400,000 apiece but virtually impossible
to fence, why have multiple thieves, or one thief very
gifted at disguise, used various ruses to take the tomes
from cities as far apart as Krakow, Kiev,
Stockholm, St. Petersburg and
the University of Illinois? [Chicago Tribune]

  •  

Old News: former
Washington Post pop-music critic Richard
Harrington filed suit in February alleging that
he had been demoted to a part-time job on the
weekend section as a result of his age.

  •  

What is the link between depression and artistic genius?
An Oscar-nominated documentary about emotionally tortured concert violinist Nadia Salerno-Sonnenberg, Speaking in Strings, "looks at her difficulties
sympathetically but in the process may have turned her into the next David Helfgott as far as the public is
concerned. That's unfair to Salerno-Sonnenberg, who is vastly more talented and capable than Helfgott,
the pianist whose story was chronicled in the movie Shine, and who was then exploited by his wife and
managers in a concert tour for which he was not fit. But it does raise a question: Do depression and other
emotional problems have a particular connection with artistic creativity?"

  •  

Mixed signals
NPR says it supports low-power FM, a new standard for a class of 10- and 100-watt grassroots community stations. But it's joining with industry lobbyists to gut the standard by claiming it fears interference with existing broadcasting signals. [Salon]

  •  

Tuesday, April 18, 2000

Last fall, British and Danish investigative reporting sugggested that the US bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade had had a motive, contrary to NATO claims that it had been a terrible mistake based on outdated maps. Reportedly, NATO intelligence had discovered that the Chinese were helping Serbian military command broadcast to troops in the field. These reports were buried by the US media, but the New York Times now weighs in. After its full investigation, it can find no evidence for the British/Danish charges. "The bombing resulted from
error piled upon incompetence
piled upon bad judgment
in a variety of places - from a frantic
rush to approve targets to questionable reliance on inexpert
officers to an inexplicable failure to consult the people who
might have averted disaster, according to the officials," writes
Steven Lee Myers.

  •  

And this is all I'm going to say about this matter: "The notion that a 6-year-old child should somehow be paraded on TV as capable of determining whether he should stay or go is a tremendous distortion and at some level an abuse of the child," child psychiatrist tells the Los Angeles Times. And: "The little kid from Cuba has overtaken some of the
biggest media feeding frenzies of the past decade," according to Center for Media and Public Affairs analysis of network news
coverage. Bigger than Princess Di's death, far surpassing JFK Jr., and if the debacle goes on for much longer, threatening to topple the ascendency of the OJ Simpson affair!

  •  

Shouts Bring Murmurs, And That Works: cultural critic and sociologist Todd Gitlin in the Washington Post about the significance of the IMF/World Bank protests.

  •  

I lauded the President's proclamation establishing the Sequoia National Monument below, but in the back of my mind wondered whether it was real protection or window-dressing. Here's a concerned environmentalist's criticism.

  •  

Greenpeace USA
A peer-reviewed report commissioned by Greenpeace and released today by a team of
Swiss scientists reveals that tests submitted by the biotech companies Novartis and Mycogen to determine
whether their genetically-engineered corn could harm non-target insects were so poorly designed that there
was virtually no chance that adverse effects would be observed. Despite the flawed
methodology, EPA accepted the tests as scientific evidence that the gene-altered crop was
harmless to non-target insects, and continued to accept the same flawed testing
procedures for approval of other companies' insect-resistant "biotech" crops.

  •  

Clinton's Cruel Decision On Land Mines Risks Too Many Lives: a recent editorial in the Seattle Post-intelligencer reminds us of U.S.'s shameful 1997 decision not to be signatory of treaty to ban anti-personnel land mines. "The global banning of a weapons system is rare but not unprecedented. Exploding bullets
were banned in 1863, fragmenting (so-called "dum-dum") bullets in 1899, poison gas in
1925 and blinding lasers in 1995."

  •  

Jeremy Rifkin in the LA Times: It's Death of a Salesman as Shared-Savings Catches On: "I have long been a skeptic when it comes to the prospect of persuading companies to take
responsibility for protecting the environment and public health. Yet now a revolutionary new
way of doing business called "shared savings" is changing the basic rules of commerce
and, in the process, making environmental protection and public health synonymous with
the bottom line. The implications are profound."

  •  

Monday, April 17, 2000

Military wing of BAe Systems (formerly British Aerospace) confirms it has launched an anti-gravity research program.

  •  

Captive audience with a ringside seat.

  •  

If you're interested in cognitive neuroscience, keep following the leaps and bounds coming out of fMRI (functional MRI) studies. They are the most exciting window into the localization of function in the CNS we've had. For example, this: People with autism and Asperger Syndrome process faces as objects, Yale study of brain abnormalities finds. The study demonstrates reduced activity in the part of the brain subsuming facial recognition as well as increased activity in an adjacent area processing non-face objects.It seems to me that finding such an impairment in the neural substrate of a function so crucial to the essence of human interaction goes a long way to explaining the etiology of the profound social interaction deficits that characterize autism and other so-called "pervasive developmental disorders" such as Asperger's Syndrome.

  •  

Toddler diet influences adolescent test scores "Toddlers fed a wide variety of foods may have a long-term academic
edge over children fed more restricted diets, researchers conclude.

...(S)tudies have suggested that children fed diets consisting of only a few types
of food are more likely to be deficient in specific 'micronutrients' such as iron or zinc."

  •  

Several months ago it was a British laptop with British state secrets; now: FBI Looks for Laptop Missing With U.S. Secrets
"A laptop computer which may have held classified
information disappeared from the State Department about two months ago and the
FBI is investigating whether it was stolen, the State Department said Monday."

  •  

Sunday, April 16, 2000

A paean to walking by James Hillman [Utne Reader]

  •  

Probably everybody with a weblog is going to link to this: Game console 'could be used in missiles' "Japanese authorities have restricted the export of Sony's new game
console, PlayStation 2, amid fears that it could be exploited for
weapons technology...The government's concern centres on a powerful processor
responsible for the console's realistic graphics. Experts believe this
could be converted for use in missiles that read visual information to
home in on targets. Sony said it did not expect the restrictions to
affect PlayStation 2's release in other countries." [The Telegraph]

  •  

I've seen a couple of weblogs that linked to this with comments like, "I don't believe it!" They obviously didn't follow the directions to read all the way to the end of the page. (It's easy to be smug, isn't it?)

  •  

R.I.P., Edward Gorey, age 75.

  •  

Cadaver donations line somebody's pockets to the tune of millions, an expose in the Orange County Register reported Sunday.

  •  

Why didn't I think of that? [BBC News]

  •  

Chipping Away at Leptin's Effects
"Leptin is produced by fat tissue and secreted into the
bloodstream, where it travels to the brain and other
tissues, causing fat loss and decreased appetite.
Identifying genes regulated by leptin will improve
knowledge of how leptin causes its effects on weight
and appetite, and may also offer new targets for
drugs designed to stimulate weight loss."

  •  

Rx for hospital nurses: unions Laudable trend toward nurses' organizing may be an important response to profit-driven cuts in healthcare if it catches on.

  •  

Penn State cancer researcher shows cancer cells can be contained from growing at second site. Stopping metastasis may be an effective and fundamentally different type of intervention in cancer therapy. Might be less noxious to the patient as well.

  •  

This doesn't happen much: Saudi Arabia Says Amnesty Official Invited to Visit. In response to human rights criticisms by Amnesty International, the Saudi regime has asked a representative of the organization to visit to assess the human rights situation there.

  •  

Seven Die, 65 Hurt in Lisbon Disco Attack ( later reports say nine dead): two canisters of an unknown toxic gas were hurled into a Lisbon club crowded with immigrants from Portugal's former African colony Angola. Police cannot comment on a motive but would you be surprised if it were a white-on-black attack?

  •  

Clinton Protects Sequoias With Order: Logging will be permanently eliminated in 34 of 75 remaining groves of the giant redwoods designated to fall inside the new Giant Sequoia National Monument flanking Sequoia National Park to the north and south. The Republican representative whose district includes some of the new monument called it a political ploy and denied that the trees needed further protection.

  •  

Saturday, April 15, 2000

BevNET.com: The Beverage Network "...the most extensive guide to new age beverages and much more!"

  •  

"Don't link to hate sites!" David Goldberg's Hatewatch catalogues websites of bigots. Film critic Roger Ebert takes him to task. "If I were somebody looking for hate on the Web, this would be a good place to start." Does Ebert really think these people need help hating??

  •  

"It's an unholy mix of encryption, anonymity, and digital cash to bring about the ultimate
annihilation of all forms of government. The system, which Jim Bell spent years talking up online,
uses digital cash and anonymity to predict and confirm assassinations." Assassination Politics:

"Before ... Bell went to prison, he suspected that most government officials were corrupt. Three years
behind bars later, the self-proclaimed Internet anarchist is sure of it.

After Bell, a cypherpunk who the United States government dubbed a techno-terrorist, is released Friday at
10 a.m. PDT, he plans to exact revenge on the system that imprisoned him." [Wired]

  •  

The loggerhead at Metascene writes of "Ten Signs That I Am Becoming Everything I Once Despised". By my count, my current score is 5 out of 10, but they're not necessarily anything I "once despised"...

  •  

Latest installation of my Annals of Depravity: Miami Herald: Two Broward students arrested in murder plot: "The two girls arrived at Silver Lakes Middle School with a plot to murder their
rivals, carrying ``kill kits'' to make good on their plan.

According to police, the seventh-grade students planned to lure three of their
female classmates behind the school's portable trailers on Monday, flog them on
their heads with a bag full of batteries, then slash their throats with an assortment
of knives."

  •  

Recreational self-analysis.

  •  

Afterlife Codes Project: "The history and scientific foundation of the Susy Smith Project is described in Schwartz and Russek (1997c).
Briefly, one way to test the SOC hypothesis is to determine whether a key phrase known only to a person in
life (termed the sender) can be communicated after the sender has died (Berger, 1984). To ensure that the
key phrase is not inadvertently communicted by someone (such as a research assistant) who is living after the
sender dies, the key phrase is encoded by various coding systems and the correct key phrase is required to
decode the encoded information."

  •  

Another Superficial Piece About 176 Beatnik Books
What Beat is. What Beat isn't. Who it is and isn't. Stuff like that.


By Richard Meltzer

  •  

Friday, April 14, 2000

Most Distant Object Ever Observed: A quasar 26 billion light years away, with a red shift so great its light is out of the visible spectrum, is the most distant object ever observed. It is estimated that the universe was less than a billion years old when it began sending out the light we view now.

  •  

Japan at Center of Debate on Endangered Species
"Japan is again at war with conservationists
over proposals to resume trading in whales, elephant ivory and marine turtles."

  •  

''X-Files'' creator nears feature directing deal: Chris Carter to direct film version of The World of Ted Serios, based on 1960s true story of a psychiatrist who studied a Chicago bellhop with the ability to project his thoughts onto unexposed photographic film.

  •  

Witness Rights Alert, "a collection of streamed video clips that document human
rights abuses around the world. The biweekly alert is produced and hosted by Oddcast.com, an interactive entertainment site,
on behalf of the human rights organization Witness."







  •  

The furor over Gnutella.

  •  

Ouch: University Sues Over Drug Patent. The University of Rochester, claiming it has a patent on the mechanism of action of the new cox-2 inhibitor class of arthritis drugs, sues to prevent Pharmacia from continuing to market Celebrex, the blockbuster drug in that category which has been a miracle for many arthritis sufferers and is the fastest-selling drug in the U.S. at present.

  •  

Eli Lilly wasn't about to lose out on this one: Federal Trade Commission OKs licensing agreement on new
Prozac
. "The Federal Trade
Commission has approved Eli Lilly and Co.'s deal to license a new and improved version of the
popular antidepressant Prozac, the company said Thursday." Lilly's main patent on Prozac expires in 2003, and it has been hellbent on finding a way to fend off the appeal of cheaper generic versions that may then start to erode its market share drastically.

  •  

ANDREW DOBSON and RENEE KURIYAN: U.S. must help save
elephants
"With little notice, the
international ivory trade has quietly reopened, reawakening a threat to the world's remaining
elephant populations." [Christian Science Monitor opinion]

  •  

The Infamous Eagles Joke: I'm ashamed to say I have returned to this "intelligence test" at intervals since it was first emailed to me several weeks ago, and I still haven't a clue. If you get the joke, please let me know, thanks!

  •  

I'm hoping this is disturbing to you consumers of healthcare, as it is to me as a physician. Kaiser Drug Policy Prompts State Inquiry "Kaiser Permanente, (California)'s biggest health maintenance organization,
routinely requires its psychiatrists to prescribe psychiatric drugs to some mental
health patients whom they have not personally examined, a practice that leading
experts say endangers patients and violates professional codes of ethics." [LA Times]

  •  

I grew up with WBAI in New York. Until recently, I'd've said I'd give my eyeteeth for a Pacifica station in Boston. What's Going On at Pacifica?
"Sorting out who is right and who is wrong in this story is a near-impossible task given the management blunders and
heavy-handedness on the one side, and the insults, harassment and threats on the other side. Both sides could claim the
pursuit of high-minded goals: Pacifica management sought to strengthen lines of authority in the name of increased audience
and political effectiveness; KPFA and its defenders presented a resounding case that "free-speech radio"--Pacifica's traditional
no-holds-barred programming--was threatened by a sanitized, NPR-style takeover by establishment liberals." [The Nation]

  •  

Wednesday, April 12, 2000

The New Scientist reports on new calculations based on general relativity theorizing that wormholes large and stable enough to allow intergalactic travel really can exist. The trick is that they produce enough postulated 'exotic matter' to keep themselves open and arbitrarily large.

  •  

Another vain attempt to halt the MP3 juggernaut.

  •  

I continue to be disconcerted about the sellout: Ben & Jerry's, the ice cream maker dumps Newport Folk Festival sponsorship. A sign of the times after the announcement earlier today that it was being acquired by Anglo-Dutch conglomerate Unilever, which already owns the Breyer's and Good Humor ice cream brands. Update: I heard today on NPR that the highminded terms of sale to which Ben Cohen is holding Unilever (continue to donate 7.5% of net to charity; use only Vermont, hormone-free milk, etc.) are only binding for two years.

  •  

"Road rage" on high? "Since July 1997, over a dozen passengers have attempted to
breach cockpit doors during commercial airline flights. We've
been lucky so far." [Salon]

  •  

`Copenhagen': A Fiery Power in the Behavior of Particles and Humans: The New York Times weighs in quite favorably on this challenging drama about what happened during a mysterious 1941 meeting between Neils Bohr and Werner Heisenberg, originator of the famed "uncertainty principle". What may have been at stake was the possible success of a German project to develop atomic weapons under Heisenberg's direction.

  •  

John Hinckley's Request: The New York Times finds "disconcerting" a report that St. Elizabeth Hospital officials are supporting John Hinckley Jr.'s request for passes for unsupervised visits with his parents. Hinckley has been walking unescorted around hospital grounds without incident for years and for the past six months has taken supervised field trips to area restaurants and shopping malls. The Times, in a remarkably unwarranted and unjustified editorial position, IMHO, opines that skepticism about Hinckley's progress should be preserved and that "the decision should not be based solely on the advice of hospital doctors."

  •  

Decision time: The discovery of the protein that steers the differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells suggests we may be closing in on hoped-for methods of controlling recently-developed human immortal lines of stem cells.

  •  

Deadly Dengue Fever Could Worsen in 21st Century: "The outbreak of dengue fever and its sometimes deadly hemorrhagic strain will continue to
increase across the Americas in the 21st century unless governments boost their will to combat the tropical virus, experts said.

Cases of dengue are on the rise in almost every country in North and South America even though the disease was almost wiped out by a
1962 plan to eradicate the mosquito that carries and spreads the virus".

  •  

NASA's Advanced Space Transportation Program looks at ways to turn science fiction into reality. Researching new propulsion methods and new methods of onboard energy generation to power propulsion; and "how to attain the ultimate achievable speeds to dramatically reduce travel times...(including) faster-than-light travel if it turns out to be physically possible".

  •  

Tuesday, April 11, 2000

Yahoo! News - Holes sink sell-off
"Gov'ts. hoping to earn a fast buck by switching off analogue television transmitters and selling the
frequencies to cellphone operators are in for a shock. Even if viewers can be persuaded to switch to digital TV, the
frequencies released will be too widely spaced to be of practical use to cellphone and wireless Internet companies,
according to a report released by Britain's Independent Television Commission."

  •  

Pulitzer Prize winners in brief

  •  

Martian mysteries at poles: "Pictures released on Monday unveil features of
the unique layered terrain at Mars' south pole.
These may well hold the secret of the planet's
climate history for the past 100 million years
but scientists remain baffled as to how the
features formed." [BBC]

  •  

I linked to reports of this trial as it unfolded. Now, the good news that a British historian with Holocaust doubts loses libel suit: Historian David Irving, who has outraged survivors of Nazi death camps by
questioning the scope of the Holocaust, on Tuesday lost the libel suit he launched to save his academic reputation. [Nando Times]

  •  

Antioxidant value discounted
"There is no convincing
scientific evidence that taking large amounts of
vitamin C, vitamin E, or the nutrients selenium
and beta carotene can reduce the chances of
getting cancer, heart disease, diabetes,
Alzheimer’s disease or other illnesses, a
National Academy of Sciences panel announced
yesterday."

  •  

The Smoking Gun teeshirt features an official Bill Gates mugshot.

  •  

The Smoking Gun: Russian Arms for Sale:
"Pssst: Need a rocket launcher or a minesweeper? Have you
struck out on eBay? Well, has Russia got a deal for you. In
need of hard currency, Moscow is selling part of its weapons
inventory, showcasing the lethal loot via a nifty 96-page
catalogue produced by Rosvoorouzhenie, a state-owned company
that handles overseas sales in places like Libya and Iraq."

  •  

Monday, April 10, 2000

No Swelling Unseen Choruses, Just Hard Truth on Film: The New York Times reports from the Double Take Documentary Film Festival in Durham NC.

  •  

Sunday, April 9, 2000

Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune art critic, laments the end of originality in late-20th century artistic creation."The only originality left...is the choice of what to borrow from."

  •  

Music critic John Rockwell, in The New Republic, chronicles the decline of Philip Glass.

  •  

R.I.P. John Smith:
"John Smith & Son, the world's oldest bookseller
and a favourite of the poet Robert Burns, is to
shut its doors in Glasgow after losing the battle
against book superstores and online discount
shopping." I'll miss it personally, having visited several times including just last June. And I steadfastly refuse to buy books on the net if I can find them in my local bookshop.

  •  

Auction House Chairmen Scrutinized: Is anyone really surprised that price-fixing accusations implicate the highest levels of management of Sotheby's and Christie's? Is anyone surprised that they deny it? [New York Times]

  •  

Animal rescuer tries to make 'a small dent in the misery'

  •  

I agree entirely: [Association of Alternative Newsweeklies]: 'How big is Ira Glass today?

He's so big that www.suck.com, a reliable font of Internet rudeness, just awarded
him an "evil genius grant"—or Suck EGG—to shut up for a year. "The only real work he
seems to do anymore is give interviews to fawning journalists and fight off the
attentions of love-struck soccer-mom groupies.'

  •  

Saturday, April 8, 2000

I'd previously linked to the ACLU's position on the proposed medical privacy legislation. Here's what the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has to say.

  •  

Windows 98 Communication Tips: How to Speed-up your Connecting time - Windows-Help.NET
To Speed-up the time it takes for DUN (Dial Up Networking) to establish a connection with your ISP
(Internet Service Provider) in Windows 98.

  •  

Here's a message that has to get widely distributed:
BOLIVIA UNDER MARTIAL LAW


As of 10 am Saturday morning Bolivia was declared under martial
law by President Hugo Banzer. The drastic move comes at the end of a
week of protests, general strikes, and transportation blockages that
have left major areas of the country at a virtual standstill. It also
follows, by just hours, the surprise announcement by state officials
yesterday afternoon that the government would concede to the protests'
main demands, to break a widely-despised contract under which the city
of Cochabamba's public water system was sold off to foreign investors
last year. The concession was quickly reversed by the national
government, and the local governor resigned, explaining that he didn't
want to take responsibility for bloodshed that might result.



Banzer, who ruled Bolivia as a dictator from 1971-78, has taken an
action that suspends almost all civil rights, disallows gatherings
of more than four people and puts severe limits on freedom of the
press. One after another, local radio stations have been taken
over by military forces or forced off the air. Reporters have been
arrested The neighborhood where most of the city's broadcast antennas
are located had its power shut off at approximately noon local time.
Through the night police searched homes for members of the widely-
backed water protests, arresting as many as twenty. The local
police chief has been instated by the President as governor of the
state. Blockades erected by farmers in rural areas continue across
the country, cutting off some cities from food and transportation.
Large crowds of angry residents, many armed with sticks and rocks are
massing on the city's center where confrontations with military and
police are escalating.



Tom Kruse

Casilla 5812 / Cochabamba, Bolivia

TelFax: (591-4) 248242, 500849
TelCel: 017-22253


  •  

A sense of Well being: Salon celebrates the 15th anniversary of "the world's most influential online community" (which they bought out last year).

  •  

Andrew Sullivan in the New York Times Magazine comprehensively runs down the meaning of testosterone to masculinity.

  •  

Single mothers should take on a partner not only to help with their parenting, to have someone to survive them for their chlidren's sake, but also to increase their own chances of sticking around longer themselves, a new Swedish research study asserts.

  •  

Project Censored has released its 25 top censored news stories of 1999. Some are new news, but others no surprise; for me, #1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 12, 14, 16, 18, 22, 24. How about you? What surprised you? What was old news?

  •  

Here's my ambiguously legal deeplink to a New York Times story on the legality of 'Deep Linking'. 'When a federal judge issued a decision last week in a
case involving "deep linking," many reports suggested
that the controversial Internet practice was now
unambiguously legal. But the story is more complex than
that. In fact, deep linking -- the practice of linking to a page
deep inside another Web site, bypassing its home page --
still appears to be in legal limbo.'

  •  

You probably won't care about this unless you're raising children. If you are, you know that there is a raging folklore-and-urban-myth debate about how much crankiness can be attributed to teething. "(M)any ...symptoms commonly associated with teething -- such as high fevers, diarrhea or
vomiting -- cannot be blamed on the imminent emergence of a new tooth, according to results of one of
the largest studies of its kind...Furthermore, there was no cluster of signs that could help parents predict when a
tooth was about to emerge. No particular symptom -- such as biting, drooling or
gum rubbing -- was seen in more than 35% of infants during the teething time."

  •  

I logged with interest the report of the first reported discovery of an extra-solar planet. But: NASA: Suspected Extra-Solar Planet Probably a Star
'It looked like a planet, the first directly detected outside our solar system, but
NASA researchers and the astronomer who discovered it now believe it is probably just a faraway star."

It is just too hot to be a planet, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said in a statement
released late on Thursday.

The weird space object photographed three years ago by the Hubble Space Telescope is most likely a star
far in the background, with its light dimmed by interstellar dust, so that it looks like it is close to a
double-star system in which it was supposed to be a planet.'

  •  

Why this long puff piece on the "nerd warriors" of the NSA?

  •  

"This technology is something that could ultimately devour us," says the Archbishop of York.

  •  

Study Says Brain Damage Makes Gulf War Vets Dizzy
: "...reflex tests and electronic brain measurements found that veterans who complained of
bouts of vertigo showed signs of brain-stem damage similar to the damage seen in victims of the 1995
Tokyo subway nerve-gas attack.

'The study provides further evidence to suggest that these veterans were exposed to chemicals and nerve
agents in the Gulf War,' the team from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas said in a
statement." [Reuters]

  •  

Friday, April 7, 2000

An Irish Times survey compiled a list of a hundred favorite Irish poems. Jorn Barger found most of them on the web and posted a list with hotlinks. Thanks!

  •  

Thursday, April 6, 2000

Slow Wave is a comic strip based on dreams people submit to the cartoonists. Revealing, and it really makes sense to me to use the comic strip medium to render dreams!

  •  

Return of the Snapper:
An English photographer tracks down the
anonymous subjects of his photographs from
the 1970s and asks them to pose for him
again, is staggered by the response. [The Irish Times]

  •  

Gel Prevents Chemotherapy Hair Loss in Rats
"A clear gel rubbed on the scalps of rats was able to prevent hair loss from
chemotherapy, one of the most distressing side effects of cancer treatment, scientists said. A researcher for developer Glaxo Wellcome said the company hopes to start human tests of
the gel, which includes a drug known as GW8510, to see if it could help reduce the trauma of
chemotherapy." Exciting news if true, but I'm skeptical. The drug apparently works by seeping into hair follicles and temporarily inhibiting their cell division, which means they are spared by chemotherapy drugs which essentially work by targeting fast-growing and -dividing cells throughout the body. Because the new gel is topical, it will not affect the internal targeted cancer cells. But could the cure be worse than the disease? Can we really turn cell replication on and off with precision?

  •  

TV Ad Roach Frightens Viewers
"Television ads for (Orkin) that feature a realistic-looking cockroach scurrying across the screen have left some viewers
laughing, others upset and a few broken TVs."

  •  

Scandalous Doin's in the Ruins of Pompeii
The contents of
the Secret Cabinet that
were so scandalous they
were kept locked up for
most of the last 200 years
will be unveiled to the
public next week.
Schoolchildren visiting
the National
Archaeological Museum of
Naples, however, will
need parental permission
to see the exhibition.
Curators delicately refer
to the Secret Cabinet or the "Forbidden Collection," but
museum guards loudly direct visitors to "il pornografico." [New York Times]

  •  

Your Mail Isn't Spying on You Thoughtful reflections by a colleague of mine on the privacy-violating fears raised by completing the census questionnaire make the New York Times op-ed page.

  •  

Wednesday, April 5, 2000

The number purple: exploring color-number synaesthesia. [New Scientist]

  •  

Netscape 6 Preview Release 1 is here for download. Playing with it tonight, what I can say so far is that it's fast. Major frustrations: blogger editing windows don't work; and I can't find a way to import my Netscape 4.7 bookmarks en masse.

  •  

The heart of our galaxy may be a cluster of up to 25,000 black holes created by the demise of stars throughout the Milky Way and slowly falling to the center where they are gradually gobbled up by the giant black hole lurking there.

  •  

Jumbo discovery: DNA analysis confirms that African forest elephants have diverged enough from their savannah cousins that, along with the Indian elephant, there should be considered to be three separate species. Add one more to the endangered species list.

  •  

Chile Mulls Plan to Curb Global Warming. The patented plan would fertilize the ocean to enhance plankton growth, which in turn would consume more CO2 dissolved in the ocean water. Atmospheric CO2 would go into solution to compensate. Chile would "clean up" on carbon credits under the Kyoto Protocol on climate change [New Scientist]

  •  

Do you suppose supermarketeers will go for this?

  •  

More opiates used to treat severe pain. A new study shows that a recent trend toward increased use of narcotic analgesics to treat severe chronic pain has not been accompanied by wider abuse of these drugs, despite the fears of "pharmacological Calvinist" detractors of adequate pain relief in medical practice.

  •  

The screenwriter of The Usual Suspects and the producer of The Sixth Sense team up with director Simon West to do a film based on the '60's cult classic TV series The Prisoner. Patrick McGoohan will be the executive producer.

  •  

Mickey And Minnie Skate Around Controversy in Northern Ireland by refusing to be photographed shaking hands with mayor of Londonderry.

  •  

McDonald's humble pie? Apologizes for poking fun at Malta.

  •  

Consul of Imaginary Principality Arrested
"A man acting as consul of an imaginary principality off Britain was arrested in Madrid on suspicion of selling
fake passports to international criminals, the Civil Guard said." The Principality of Sealand, based on a surplus military platform in the Thames estuary, follows international law and issues its own passports, according to its website.

  •  

Plan Helps Elderly With Prescriptions: proponents claim, this plan, if implemented, will make Massachusetts the first state in the nation to offer affordable prescription drug coverage to virtually all elders.

  •  

Tuesday, April 4, 2000

ZDNet: News: Breaking News In Brief
"The leaders of a Congressional panel Tuesday
said an automated system sought by the
Securities and Exchange Commission to
monitor fraud on the Internet could violate the
privacy of Americans."

  •  

Life as a fate worse than death
"I am praying that the judge will be merciful,
that he will see the reasons to grant the DNR
and that he will spot and judge harshly the
self-interest that led the parents to fight it." [Salon]

  •  

Sun's Got the Beat "Like blood pulsing in an artery, newly discovered currents of gas
beat deep inside the Sun, speeding and slackening every 16 months.

The solar "heartbeat" throbs in the same region of the Sun suspected of driving
the 11-year cycle of solar eruptions, during which the Sun goes from stormy to
quiet and back again. Scientists are hopeful that this pulse can help them unravel
the origin and operation of the solar cycle." [NASA Science News]

  •  

Salon review of Alice Kaplan's new book The Collaborator about French pro-fascist novelist and critic Robert Brasillach, who was executed by firing squad on direct order of de Gaulle in the waning days of WWII. Simone de Beauvoir called his condemnation symbolically rather than judicially sound, and disturbing questions remain unanswered about what was essentially an execution for "hate speech", a finding that intellectual crimes were as noxious as political or military. Moral ambiguity and irony swirl around the case. The judge and prosecutor had themselves been Vichy collaborators. Alice Kaplan is the daughter of a Nuremberg prosecutor. De Gaulle explained his excepting Brassilach when he pardoned all who had not actively colluded with German authorities with the assertion that "talent is a responsibility." "And there is the more obscure question, too, of
his actual involvement in denouncing Jews in hiding in the
pages of Je Suis Partout. It was never proved beyond doubt,
but clearly the intent to harm existed. It's an open question
whether such ambiguities merit death. In a society at peace, it
is difficult to judge the mood of a place like wartime France,
where words could literally kill." Brasillach himself, Kaplan says, represents the contradiction of someone who came to fascism through a devotion to the mythic and symbolic, with a disdain for the political and economic. She also raises fascinating speculation that his attraction to fascism may have been at base homoerotic. In any case, refining our modern conception of "hate speech" and "crimes against humanity" depend on grappling with the Brasillach case. "Kaplan, like de Beauvoir,
is right when she points out that executing people because of
their words is a dubious path to tread. If words are actions,
after all, why not have a thought police and arm them to the
teeth? Brasillach would have approved."

  •  

British bowel cancer fatality rate related to embarrassment?

  •  

Sometimes the bear gets you... and sometimes you get the bear.

  •  

Journal Re-Kindles Controversy Over AIDS Research: A study in which investigators are accused of standing by while their subjects acquired the HIV virus, published in the embattled New England Journal of Medicine, is blasted by a number of prominent medical critics including Jerome Groopman and NEJM executive editor Marcia Angell.

  •  

Building your body in more than one way.

  •  

Rest in peace, Terence McKenna.

  •  

NLRB: Students Can Vote on Union! 'New York University graduate teaching assistants have the right to organize a union, a
federal labor official ruled in the first such decision involving a private college.

Daniel Silverman, regional director of the National Labor Relations Board, wrote Monday that he could find
no reason to deny collective bargaining rights to the TAs "merely because they are employed by an
educational institution while enrolled as a student."'

  •  

Investors Race to Buy 'Fried Air'
Dutch investors scrambled to buy shares in fictitious firm F/Rite Air (pronounced ``Fried Air''), sending more
than $6.5 million in orders to an investment Web site before discovering it was an April Fools prank.
California-based F/Rite Air had been billed as having developed an ``air ioniser'' that might take the place of anti-depressant drug Prozac and
that was being tested by the U.S. Air Force.

  •  

Australian Team Reports Stem Cell Breakthrough
The Monash Institute of Reproduction and Development said its research team was the first to achieve the
controlled, laboratory development of nerve cells from embryonic stem cells.

  •  

John Le Carre would love this one: A thief out-foxed a former British spy center by walking off with a rare Enigma machine used by the Nazis to send
coded messages during World War Two, police said.

  •  

Yes, but is it art? After the second or third time apologizing for the infrequent updates of a weblog within a week or two, shouldn't the author consider dropping the project?

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Monday, April 3, 2000

Mobile surveying unit, to map the Marietta, Ga. municipal utility system has two wheels, pedals, GPS, laser range finders and pen-based computer, costs more than a Toyota Camry.

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CIA discloses futility of Korean War spying. 'The CIA lost so many Korean agents in futile attempts to operate behind enemy lines
in the Korean War that the agency later privately assessed its use of American-trained loyalists as "morally reprehensible," declassified records show.'

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North American Buddhists await Karmapa's visit, after this 14-year-old who is third most important leader in Tibetan Buddhism makes his daring escape from Chinese domination in Tibet.

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Don't eat your tofu

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Sunday, April 2, 2000

Intuit software may be leading the trend for software companies to routinely use Internet connections to monitor and control how customers use their software. You might have to begin taking seriously that agreement you made (when you opened the shrinkwrap) that the software company owns the software and just licenses it to you. But it's pretty likely end users won't roll over on this without a contest.

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THE REGISTER: Hacking credit cards is preposterously easy

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Surveillance in the supermarket will have you pegged, thanks to IBM. Me, I don't even let them track my buying habits by scanning in the "discount card" at the register.

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Japanese using GPS/Cellular to track wandering, confused elders who lose their way.

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You may "catch a heart attack on the subway or on the bus."

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Be an Irish Catholic Priest.com

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I've always wondered what ex-CIA renegade Phillip Agee has been up to. Apparently continuing to provoke the US government by encouraging tourism to Cuba.

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Clinical trials of brain-protecting drugs prove unsuccessful: very disappointing news for aging baby-boomers, hopeful neurologists, and pharmaceutical companies seeking new cash cow, reported at the annual winter meeting of the American Stroke Association.

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Pahrump saga continues: Radio host Art Bell says he's retiring...again.

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Calculate and celebrate your Decimal Birthday.

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12 March 2000: latest of periodic journal entries from Sir Ian McKellan, describing his experiences on the set of the upcoming Lord of the Rings film, in which he plays Gandalf.

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NASA's Report of the Mars Program Independent Assessment Team. As you've heard by now, they acknowledge how faulty the planning process and quality assurance on the missions was.

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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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