Month: June 2002

Expletive Not Deleted:

Ford loses 2600 suit: “Online hacker magazine 2600 has emerged victorious in its campaign to retain ownership of the controversial FuckGeneralMotors.com domain…At one time FuckGeneralMotors.com (one of a series of sites 2600 registered to take shots at American corporate bigwigs, racism and the mass media in 1999) pointed at Ford. The motor company expressed concerns that the non-tech savvy would think Ford had created the site itself. ” The Register

More Philip Whalen:

 


THE EXPENSIVE LIFE

Tying up my plastic shoes
I realize I'm outside, this is the park & I am free
From whatever pack of nonsense & old tape loops
Play with the Ayer's dogs, Barney & Daphne
They don't ask me why I shave my head
"Cut the word lines," Burroughs recommends
Daphne & Barney fatter than ever & only I am dieting
(Crease along the dotted lines)
Loops of tacky thinking fall unloosed. The sun
Getting hotter than my flannel shirt requires
What about THE BUDDHIST REVIVAL IN CHINA?
Won't read it now... too blind to see it
Almost too blind to write this, in my room no flowers
The service station wants four bits for compresssed air
At only 16 pounds per square inch
I can see the farthest mountain.


29:VIII:87



TO THE MEMORY OF

Mr J who had been poor for years
Inherited all the money in the world
Bought a gun to blow a hole in his head
To let in air and light he said
To let me out

Today, I have my head to shave
There are lights and shadows in it
All too soon empty open ashes
Join mirthfully to earth

19:V:77

More Philip Whalen:

 


THE EXPENSIVE LIFE

Tying up my plastic shoes
I realize I'm outside, this is the park & I am free
From whatever pack of nonsense & old tape loops
Play with the Ayer's dogs, Barney & Daphne
They don't ask me why I shave my head
"Cut the word lines," Burroughs recommends
Daphne & Barney fatter than ever & only I am dieting
(Crease along the dotted lines)
Loops of tacky thinking fall unloosed. The sun
Getting hotter than my flannel shirt requires
What about THE BUDDHIST REVIVAL IN CHINA?
Won't read it now... too blind to see it
Almost too blind to write this, in my room no flowers
The service station wants four bits for compresssed air
At only 16 pounds per square inch
I can see the farthest mountain.


29:VIII:87



TO THE MEMORY OF

Mr J who had been poor for years
Inherited all the money in the world
Bought a gun to blow a hole in his head
To let in air and light he said
To let me out

Today, I have my head to shave
There are lights and shadows in it
All too soon empty open ashes
Join mirthfully to earth

19:V:77

More Philip Whalen:

 


THE EXPENSIVE LIFE

Tying up my plastic shoes
I realize I'm outside, this is the park & I am free
From whatever pack of nonsense & old tape loops
Play with the Ayer's dogs, Barney & Daphne
They don't ask me why I shave my head
"Cut the word lines," Burroughs recommends
Daphne & Barney fatter than ever & only I am dieting
(Crease along the dotted lines)
Loops of tacky thinking fall unloosed. The sun
Getting hotter than my flannel shirt requires
What about THE BUDDHIST REVIVAL IN CHINA?
Won't read it now... too blind to see it
Almost too blind to write this, in my room no flowers
The service station wants four bits for compresssed air
At only 16 pounds per square inch
I can see the farthest mountain.


29:VIII:87



TO THE MEMORY OF

Mr J who had been poor for years
Inherited all the money in the world
Bought a gun to blow a hole in his head
To let in air and light he said
To let me out

Today, I have my head to shave
There are lights and shadows in it
All too soon empty open ashes
Join mirthfully to earth

19:V:77

Today’s listen:

The Who Live at Leeds

(1995 digital remaster). Arguably the greatest live rock ‘n’ roll album ever (although Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense and the Band’s Last Waltz are right up there as all-time greats). Caught at the height of their protopunk (yes) power, before Daltry totally became a buffoon on stage and Townshend flamed out, unable to realize his grandiose vision. [Buying hint: don’t go for the deluxe edition with a second disc of a live Tommy performance unless rarities for rarities’ sake are your thing. Stick with the one-disc Leeds set and just go back to the studio version of Tommy instead.]

Decade of Protest:

Political Posters from the United States, Viet Nam and Cuba, 1965-1975: “A virtual catalog of the exhibition held at Track 16 Gallery, January 19-March 9, 1996. Exhibition and catalogue organized with the Center for the Study of Political Graphics. This catalog is reproduced by permission of Susan Martin, who edited the Smart Art Press publication.” [thanks to BookNotes for the blink]


[Amerika is Devouring its Children]

And, on the topic of Amerika devouring its young, read The Apocalypse of Adolescence, a harrowing Atlantic Monthly meditation on the epidemic of adolescent murdering sprees by Ron Powers, a Vermont writer trying to come to terms with the Zantop killings at Dartmouth.

Are we all Palestinians now?:

“On the surface, the desire to feel Palestinian seems utterly bizarre. But for the anti-globalisation movement, it makes a certain sense. The Palestinians live out the state that anti-globalists can only talk about. Anti-globalists claim that they are controlled by sinister outside forces, that the odds are stacked against them. Palestinians really are controlled, they really are occupied. For the human shields, the experience lends their sentiments authenticity and substance.” sp!ked

NPR Retreats, Link Stink Lingers: ” NPR.org no longer requires permission to link, but its insistence that

it will go after those who use its content ‘inappropriately’ tells

critics it still hasn’t learned its lesson.” Wired

More Philip Whalen:

 


THE EXPENSIVE LIFE

Tying up my plastic shoes
I realize I'm outside, this is the park & I am free
From whatever pack of nonsense & old tape loops
Play with the Ayer's dogs, Barney & Daphne
They don't ask me why I shave my head
"Cut the word lines," Burroughs recommends
Daphne & Barney fatter than ever & only I am dieting
(Crease along the dotted lines)
Loops of tacky thinking fall unloosed. The sun
Getting hotter than my flannel shirt requires
What about THE BUDDHIST REVIVAL IN CHINA?
Won't read it now... too blind to see it
Almost too blind to write this, in my room no flowers
The service station wants four bits for compresssed air
At only 16 pounds per square inch
I can see the farthest mountain.


29:VIII:87



TO THE MEMORY OF

Mr J who had been poor for years
Inherited all the money in the world
Bought a gun to blow a hole in his head
To let in air and light he said
To let me out

Today, I have my head to shave
There are lights and shadows in it
All too soon empty open ashes
Join mirthfully to earth

19:V:77

Semen acts as an antidepressant: “Women whose partners regularly wear condoms are more depressed – mood-altering hormones in semen could be the reason.” New Scientist

Eccentric people more extreme as they age, although flamboyant behavior declines, says a new study, which explains increasng eccentricity neurocentrically: “The tendency to be a little odd or eccentric can often be kept under control in younger people, as they modify their behaviour to social norms. But as people get older there is evidence of reduced plasticity of the nervous system, which makes them less adaptable and increases expression of their odd personality traits.” Perhaps, however, it is just that as people age they care less about conforming themselves to social norms? New Scientist

The Evolutionary Neuroethology of Paul MacLean: Convergences and Frontiers (Human Evolution, Behavior, and Intelligence) edited by Gerald Cory and Russell Gardner: “In the mid-20th century, integrative efforts began concerning the brain and its

social and humanistic functions. These efforts were led by Paul D. MacLean’s

integrative research and thought. As the century ended, however, such efforts

were lost in the surge of new effort in brain and genome research. Nobel Prizes

were awarded on biochemical and cellular findings relevant to psychiatry.

Findings on these levels seemed to provide ultimate answers… This text extends MacLean’s findings and integrative theory.” amazon.com

Fire Wars: transcript of a NOVA broadcast aired May 7, 2002 on PBS about wildfire issues, for those who want to think further about the firestorm I started with my remarks below. [Thanks to Jennifer Joy]

I just received the following email, which, from a Google search on the search terms they suggest at the bottom, appears to be making the rounds. Leuschke, for example, has commented on it as well. Here, in its agonizing entirety:

There is something extremely wrong with every single

person in this world. They seem to be part of a

pointless simulation.

“The Matrix” has portrayed this idea somewhat, yet we

watch it and go back to our daily lives. Yet in this

very life, underneath the seeming diversity in

people’s opinions, values, talents, and interests,

there is something that makes everyone the same. It

is as though this planet is populated only by mindless

fakes, objects that provide the appearance of

intellect on the surface but are based on only

mechanical reflexes and primitive thought patterns.

I don’t really care if anything I say has been said

before, if it was portrayed in movies, in books, or in

the lyrics of some useless song. With 6 billion people

covering the globe at any given time, thousands and

thousands of years of written literature, probability

dictates almost any combination of words has occurred

numerous times. Yet there is clear evidence there was

no action, so those words, just like the people who

spoke them, must have been just more fakes. I am

forced to use this language (also created by the

fakes) because there is no alternative, so everything

I write here could be misunderstood to make me sound

like one of them, but it will be the action that I

take and the dedication that will separate me from

them.

In my estimation the fakes that occupy this planet

don’t make up 99%, but more like 99.9999999% of the

population. I know this because I’ve searched, and in

my search have so far only found one true ally (I have

found him via the internet as well). But even with

those numbers we would not give up because there is no

logic in giving up.

The people on this planet are all fakes because the

societies have made them this way. Ideas that populate

people’s minds have no logic or purpose. Concepts such

as religion, god, morality, individualism, freedom,

identity, happiness, love and billions of others are

all just memes. Like parasites they infect the minds

and spread from one person to the next. They have no

point or purpose; they exist without any logical basis

or foundation. The fakes are completely controlled by

them, and they will never see beyond them. To not be

controlled by them one must do more then just realize

that they exist. One must resist any ideas that have

no point, endlessly question, and never accept

imperfection or compromise in any answer.

We (myself and my ally) are different though. While we

have had the limitation of existing only in these

societies, something has made it possible for us to

resist being indoctrinated into becoming one of those

fakes. We have no arbitrary wants, needs, desires, or

preferences.

If this world continues to exist the way it is then

nothing in it will ever have a point. It will always

be just a product of random evolution, one with no

importance or relevance. The only logical goal is to

dedicate our lives to increasing our numbers, those

that aren’t fakes, so that in thousands of years our

numbers may be such that the fakes would no longer be

a threat to progress.

Those that join us must see every other person

occupying this planet as the enemy, and us as their

only allies. Like us they must have dedication only to

taking the most logical action, and to nothing else.

To tell you more about us, we’ve posted some personal

information about ourselves on a website. You’ll also

find past responses to us on that webpage.

Obviously anyone reading this email is most likely

just another fake. Do not simply reply to this email,

if you do your message will almost certainly be

ignored. If you do wish to communicate, first

demonstrate your interest by taking the effort to

find us online, one of the ways to do that is

described below.

Use a major search engine to search for every

combination of any two words from the list below.

The order of the words shouldn’t matter as long as

you do not search for them in quotes. Also when you

pick the right combination you shouldn’t need to

look at more then (sic) the first matches.

There is no trick to this and this isn’t meant to be

quick, it should, however, be fairly clear if/when you

find the right site. The following search engines were

verified by us, please use any of them as other search

engines may simply not list us correctly: MSN, Lycos,

InfoSeek, LookSmart, HotBot, InfoSpace, Google,

Ask.com, AllTheWeb, Teoma, WebCrawler, AltaVista,

AOL Search, Netscape Search.

perfect,

theory,

endless,

desire,

eternal,

logic,

driving,

perpetual,

vision,

logical,

infinite,

dream,

final,

best,

escape,

objective,

thought,

only,

ambition,

clue,

perfection

If this can’t be solved, or if you never reach us,

there should be no reason for you to give up as

we will never give up and thus there will always

be some way to find us.

Ryan and Jacob

I feel their pain, I really do. But what I want to know is: Why me, obviously one of the 99.9999999% of the world’s population who are evidently fakes? BTW, the email was said to be from one “Ithacensian Elatinaceae”. ‘Ithacensian’ means ‘from Ithaca’, as in The Oddysey‘s ‘Ithacensian Suitors’ of Penelope, wife of Ulysses. The ‘Elatinacea’ appear to be a family of vascular plants. Any other significance to anyone?

Chemical in Starchy Foods Baffles Health Groups: “Two international health and safety organizations said yesterday that they were still a long way from solving the riddle of why a potential carcinogen appears in staples like French fries, bread and potato chips, and how much of a risk, if any, its presence may pose… (U)nexpectedly high levels of acrylamide, a known carcinogen in rats, appears in certain carbohydrates after frying or baking them at high temperatures, though none of the agencies seemed to know why. ” NY Times

Looking for X in the Algebra of Leadership:

Dr. Arnold M. Ludwig, an emeritus professor of psychiatry at the University of Kentucky, has come along with his “Political Greatness Scale” — the latest in a long line of scholarly attempts to measure political leadership with the cool objectivity of science…

On this scale, Yasir Arafat scores 17 out of a possible 37 points, placing him a couple notches above Bill Clinton and on a par with Dwight D. Eisenhower and François Mitterrand. The scale’s real overachievers, however, are for the most part a motley crew of despots and tyrants, including Hitler (25), Mussolini (26), Stalin (29), Mao (30) and Kemal Ataturk of Turkey (31), as well as a lone American president, Franklin D. Roosevelt (30).

Dr. Ludwig says the numbers reflect a leader’s impact on the world, not his personal virtue. On this scale, for example, warmongering turns out to be critical to one’s long-term historical standing. “No American president can be regarded as great unless they’ve been involved in war and been responsible for the death of many,” Dr. Ludwig said. NY Times

An Invitation Ruffles Philosophical Feathers — prominent conservative “philosophers” withdraw from a conference on American philosopher Sidney Hook when they learn that Cornel West (who has written on Hook) will also be attending. And The New York Times makes hay with it.

Trend Should Also Be a Warning:

I’m all for progress and evolution, but this talk about a European explosion in the N.B.A. and that Europe has supplanted the United States as the hotbed of pro basketball is specious at best and devious in its darkest inferences.

The European influence may be on the rise but not because players in the United States can’t hit an outside shot. There seems to be a taste for a new flavor. This season, sportswriters heralded the success of the Mavericks and Kings as models of the rise of European basketball.Fifteen of the 17 foreign-born players drafted on Wednesday are from Europe.

All of a sudden critics say that young, elite players in the United States — the majority of whom are black — can’t hit the outside shot. Suddenly our kids are not fundamentally sound.

NY Times

Antidepressants Lift Clouds, But Lose ‘Miracle Drug’ Label: “The euphoria that accompanied the first antidepressant drugs has faded, forcing drug manufacturers to strive to create a new class of drugs.” The article explores the premise that, while millions are helped by these medications, often to the point of complete symptom relief, millions of others are not helped enough or “sexual dysfunction, emotional numbing, insomnia, weight gain, restlessness and memory lapses make the drugs unusable — or simply not worth the trouble.” But the author doesn’t grasp the central significance of that fact, leaving the reader with the impression that it it simply a scientific problem calling for the discovery of new and better drugs. The reality is much more complicated, and is much more a problem with the attitudes and assumptions toward antidepressants among the prescribers, the manufacturers and the consumers.

The greatest factor in the blush being off the rose is that the newer antidepressants have been applied to a broader and broader segment of the population, many of whose conditions are not really suitable to such medication treatment and therefore will not succeed, and many of whose conditions do not trouble them to an extent that they’d be willing to put up with inconvenient side effects.  This is occurring for several interlocking reasons, about which I often talk here on FmH —

  • because the newer drugs have been easier and less dangerous to use;
  • because doctors (especially non-psychiatrists) have been subjected to an unprecedented onslaught of marketing pressure to prescribe them broadly;
  • because psychiatrists are unconsciously under pressure to expand their notion of the size of their potential clientele, to compensate for losing market share to nonprescribing competitive mental health professions;
  • because of discoveries, or mythology, suggesting that antidepressants are applicable to a much broader range of mental health problems all mediated by the same neurochemicals;
  • and because managed care has relentlessly pressed mental health practitioners to find rapidly expedient alternatives to interminable courses of therapy

So both the intolerance and ineffectiveness of many of these drugs comes first and foremost from the broadening definition of the depressive conditions for which they are considered applicable, far beyond the major depressive episodes of the greatest severity which were the major target of antidepressants before Prozac. Paradoxically, complete symptom remission happens most often in the more severe conditions, as compared with the smouldering, chronic, low-level depressive syndromes that appear to be more a part of sufferers’ personality or constitution which have been the last decade’s greatest area of market expansion in antidepressant use.  The market is fairly tapped out because just about everybody who might be benefit from an antidepressant has already received them, and then some.

Peter Kramer’s seminal Listening to Prozac broke some of this ground, asking us to consider the social impact of using antidepressants in this way. He called it “cosmetic psychopharmacology,” a term that is precise and economical in summarizing what’s wrong in the seduction of modern American psychiatry into this largely pharmaceutical-industry-manufactured dream. From an ethical as well as a macroeconomic viewpoint, even if SSRIs and newer agents can help a given temperament problem, should  they be used in that way? And selling medication by creating demand through advertising to the public compounds the problem by fostering massive misconceptions. The smiling faces of recovered patients in the ads are false promises that these are ‘happy pills’ that can take away our troubles. Instead, as I explain to my patients, what the medications do is more akin to Freud’s famous dictum about the goal of psychoanalysis being to turn neurotic unhappiness into ordinary, everyday unhappiness. If someone has something to be distressed about, they’ll usually still be distressed about it after antidepressant therapy. In fact, they may be more distressed about it, i.e. more able to feel  their distress, and certainly more able to function in the face of such distress. I often analogize medication to a bicycle — it’ll get you where you need to get faster and more efficiently than walking, but you still need to do the peddling.

Prozac arrived on the scene just as psychiatry and neuroscience were getting sophisticated about the biological underpinnings of major mental illnesses such as depression, and the SSRI antidepressants became inextricably woven into the fabric of the discoveries of the Decade of the Brain, as the ’90’s were called by the American Psychiatric Association. While, as a neuropsychiatrist and psychopharmacologist, I’ll be among the first to support that paradigm, I’m also among the first to say we have overdone it, both because of the above-mentioned catalogue of pharmaceutical industry- and managed care industry-driven pressures, and because of an intellectual laziness among overworked overextended workaholic psychiatrists that takes the form of biological reductionism. This will be neatly illustrated by a single unpalatable statistic I recently encountered — that the recent average per-patient cost for medication for all patients hospitalized at my 85-bed psychiatric hospital is nearly $15 per day. Not only are medications given without proper regard to diagnostic precision and likelihood of benefit, but multiple medications are usually given together, making it impossible to tell which — if any — are the effective agent if the patient does respond. Each medication is thrown at a different target symptom without regard for the notion that a single medication-responsive disease process going on within the patient’s CNS might cause several or many symptoms which might co-correct with the prescription of a single proper, judiciously chosen medication.

The article goes on to explore in more detail some of the pitfalls of taking Prozac and similar medications. Emotional flatness and apathy are indeed side effects — these medications mute the intensity of acute and intrusive emootion. That is how they work in severe distress, turning down the volume knob, so to speak, to allow the symptoms to be livable. And that is why the medications are often not as suitable to “cosmetic psychopharmacology” as patients would wish. There is one dramatic exception. Even when they are not effective with depressed mood, some patients to whom I have prescribe SSRIs do not want to come off them because of how effective they are against irritability and temper outbursts. In fact, I sometimes think they may be far better against this target symptom than as antidepressants. You can see how this would be a benefit of ‘turning down the volume knob.’ The loss of libido and impaired orgasmic ability often caused by SSRIs may be a form of turning down the volume as well, and some people — sexual abuse victims and men with premature ejaculation problems — sometimes welcome this side effect.

Other reported side effects (some of which have led to lawsuits about which you’ve read my vituperations here) are either entirely specious — the reported link between antidepressant treatment and propensity to violence — or exaggerated — the complaints of a withdrawal syndrome when SSRIs are stopped too suddenly (which they should not be…)

While several novel trends in drug design or mechanism of action are in the works, the quest for the Golden Calf in an antidepressant psychopharmacology industry dying to recapitulate the phenomenal success of Prozac has largely taken the form of new formulations of the same drugs — timed-release versions that can supposedly be taken less frequently (claiming better response, convenience, compliance and tolerability); the condemnably deceptive practice of marketing the same substance under a different brand name for a new indication (Serafem Prozac; Zyban Wellbutrin); and purifying out the active subingredient, such as one stereoisomer out of the two, in a current antidepressant. (If only one of the two stereoisomers is active, you can get the same benefit from half the number of milligrams of only the active moiety, but of course they’ll be able to price the drug at twice the cost of its mixed counterpart.) These are of negligible if any pharmaceutical advantage and should be seen as attempts by the manufacturer to extend their proprietary rights beyond the expiration of their patent.

Responsible psychopharmacology demands collaborative responsibility among the consumer, the prescriber and the manufacturer, with prominent failings in each domain. Since most of you are in the former camp, potentially at least, I’ll finish with a caveat emptor. If you’re prescribed the newest, best (most expensive) agent, you should grill your physician about the basis for their choice. Even if you have a prescription drug plan so it doesn’t end up costing you more than the older alternatives, the trend is driving up health care costs for all of us, and justifying the ever-deeper penetration [that’s right; they’re screwing us all…] of managed care bean counters into the practice of medicine..

Nuclear Stockpiling: “In the event of an attack, there will be no rules of engagement. So I’m going door to door talking up potassium iodide. ” NY Times Magazine

Here are some of my results for the newest Google-based net parlor game suggested to me by mark woods:


Eliot is a master of the mind

Eliot is an interactive animation environment

Eliot is excited about our “vision for the future”

Eliot is a name that refers to an individual human being who can be anyone…

Eliot is a very cerebral and weighty social critic

Eliot is a leading consultant and expert in peak performance…

Eliot is as famous as you.

Eliot is so intentionally, even perversely, difficult.

Eliot is likable and intelligent…

Eliot is easy to fault.

Eliot is very client facing, good at following a situation through to resolution and he gets things done.

Eliot is propositioned by another hot chickie

Eliot is a little more impulsive than his real-life counter-part.

Eliot is more than just an artifact;

Eliot is sitting there twenty or so years later

Eliot is slated for destruction sometime

Eliot is being not entirely serious…

Eliot is always conscious of his own efforts,

Eliot is a civilized man.

Eliot is very different than he was as a baby.

Eliot is very warm and loving. He plays well with his sister.

Eliot is too indulgent to Ladislaw.

Eliot is one way the wrong way

Eliot is being cryptic

Eliot is a true “character,” believable for all his insecurities, lovable for all his eccentricities, and memorable because he holds a part of all of us in his …

John Entwistle, Bass Player for the Who, Dies at 57. ‘Onstage Mr. Entwistle was the Who’s still point, barely moving anything beyond his fingers and calmly looking on while Mr. Daltrey strutted and swung his microphone and Mr. Townshend jumped around and windmilled through chords. Mr. Entwistle also wrote songs for the Who, such as “My Wife” and “Boris the Spider,” that revealed a sly and sometimes macabre sense of humor.’ NY Times [I like to think he’s joined Keith Moon playing in Jehovah’s favorite choir with Joplin, Morrison, Hendrix, Jerry Garcia, Lennon and Harrison, and Richard Manuel and Rick Danko.]

Who Am I This Time?

Like an anthropologist or a method actor, (photographer Nikki S.) Lee “identifies a particular group in society and infiltrates it over a period of weeks or months. She will drastically alter her hair, her weight, her clothes… More subtly, she will take on the mannerisms, the gestures, the way of carrying oneself characteristic of the group she has chosen. After entering into her new identity, she will hand her point-and-shoot camera to someone and ask to have a snapshot taken of her in the chosen milieu.” Baltimore City Paper [via ghost rocket]


Rest in peace, Philip Whalen, 1923-2002.


ACTION TRACTION SATISFACTION

I just don't think my blood circulates good any more.
Let sleeping minds lie. Let the old man go, git away!
Fly to Oxnard or to heaven, whichever soonest,
Moving right along.
"I could just cry."


PART 2

The unrefrigerated cheese grew a rind;
It did not become soft & manageable, as I had planned.
I don't cry but I like to get my own way.
"DIE, DIE, DIE, DIE, DIE!"


Boulder
23:VI:87

[From a Whalen chapbook, found here.]

Shaken or stirred: “Stanley Zlotkin got his first look at the ravages of malnutrition as a young medical student visiting a remote hospital in northeastern Nigeria. Now, almost 30 years later, his innovative ideas could hold the key to eradicating childhood iron deficiency in the developing world.

Zlotkin, a professor of pediatrics and nutritional sciences at U of T and chief of gastroenterology and nutrition at the Hospital for Sick Children, is the creator of Supplefer Sprinkles, a powdered form of iron and other essential micronutrients that can be sprinkled on a child’s meal without altering its taste. That’s no small feat considering that other treatments – syrup or drops – have been around for 150 years without solving the problem on a global level.” [via David Brake… thanks!]

Cygnets, eels, gannets and gulls, oh my…

All on the menu for nobles of medieval England: “Chopped sparrow, roast swan, poached pike, conger eel, porpoise and lamprey: if it walked, swam or flew, the English medieval nobility ate it — usually with a dash of cinnamon, ginger or cloves — according to an ancient cookbook just released to the public.

Dating from 1500, A noble bok of festes ryalle and cokery, A bok for a Prynces housholde is the earliest copy of a printed cookbook in English, according to the British Library.” SF Chronicle

New 7 Wonders: “Much time has passed since the 7 Wonders of the World were last selected. Now on the threshold of the third millennium, our view of the world is characterised by a global consciousness. It is, therefore, an appropriate time to determine the new seven symbols of the most important human accomplishments of the last 2000 years. During the initial phase of the project we have received well over 5.5 million votes from over 200 countries. This global acceptance and the great success expressed in the number of votes received has been overwhelming and has strengthened our belief that we are on the verge of bringing about a meaningful dialogue between the citizens of the world.”

The Buddhas of Bamiyan – Reconstruction — The Afghanistan Institute & Museum, Bubendorf (Switzerland) and the New7Wonders Society & Foundation, Zurich (Switzerland) have launched a campaign to reconstruct the Buddhas at original shape, size and place with computer reconstructin, serving as the basis for the physical recreation, by ETH, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. Three data sets — low resolution images of the Great Buddha from the internet; a 1970 set of Austrian high resolution metric photographs; and some tourist images from the late ’60’s — are being used in parallel.

The reconstruction process for all data sets consists of:

  • image calibration and orientation;

  • image matching to extract the 3D points;

  • point cloud editing and surface triangulation;

  • texture mapping and visualization.



The computer model generated with the manual measurements on the metric images will be used for the physical reconstruction of the Great Buddha of Bamiyan. First a small statue will be constructed (scale 1:200) to reproduce the original figure. Then a 1/10 size model of the Buddha will be created and set in the museum of Bubendorf. This model is necessary to study (1)the materials to be used, (2)the construction methods to be applied and (3)the implementation of the necessary infrastuctures for the final rebuilding of the full size Buddha in Afghanistan.

Currently the fundraising efforts are underway to support the physical reconstruction of the Great Buddha of Bamiyan.

A number of you complained (but not more loudly than I did to myself!) that this page had stopped wrapping to pagewidth as of this morning. I don’t know how it happened but some text (the awful Scottish poem snippet below) which I had entered between “preformatted” tags, had alluvasudden lost its linefeeds somehow and was one long line whose width now had to be accommodated. Should be fixed now, please let me know if it isn’t.


In working on this I played around with my template a little. It works fine for me in Mozilla 1.0 and IE6, but let me know if it messes up in your browser. The experiment I tried several months ago with David Gagne’s CSS-based (table-less) redesign loaded much faster and worked fine for me in Mozilla and IE6 but had so many inexplicable layout problems for some readers that I gave up and went back to a table-based layout.


The other thing that happened in fixing the formatting was that I deleted this morning’s post about the Pledge of Allegiance ruling. No loss — I thought better of my “free speech” argument, in which I said something like, ‘What’s the fuss? If you don’t like “one nation under God”, you’ve always been free to omit the words or skip the Pledge entirely; I’ve boycotted it since the Vietnam war…’. The Court ruling, of course, was in the spirit of the Establishment clause (‘Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion…’) instead, since the First Amendment guarantee of free speech doesn’t really work in a coercive environment (as we are quickly to learn under the Ashcroft Regime). But I still wonder what’s different about our national currency subjecting us to “In God we trust” in that case. Was Bush giving the nod to this when he took time out of his busy day at the G8 summit to splutter that the country “values our relationship with the Almighty”? That’s the Almighty Dollar, right? And I was certainly entertained by the furious, defiant recitation of the (unredacted) Pledge by Our Elected Representatives® in response to the ruling. On the other hand, a friend of mine wrote, finding the Congressional rebellion more ominous:

And bipartisan disrespect for a federal court ruling? Am I wrong, or are the legislators and the executives ganging up on the judiciary (at least one of whom caved pretty readily). Though, I guess that this administration will find the Supreme Court handily in its pocket, if necessary. I don’t recall any bipartisan mockery of the court-sanctioned (Presidential) election…


[warchalking wallet card]

Let’s WARCHALK! “Collaboratively creating a hobo-language for free wireless networking.” {A link on the page downloads a .pdf of the wallet card.)

Hard-Boiled and Still Hot:

“Live authors promoting the work of dead authors is not exactly a new way of making a publisher’s backlist snap to attention yet again. But we are talking here about Philip Marlowe, private detective, one of the most astonishingly enduring characters in American fiction. So it’s not surprising that a group of authors are going out of their way to promote a new edition of the major works of Marlowe’s creator, Raymond Chandler. And doing it with gusto.” NY Times

Lifting Veil for Photo ID Goes Too Far, Driver Says: “A Muslim woman who says the state is violating her religious rights in demanding that she remove her veil for a driver’s license photograph will be in court this week to try to regain her driving privileges.” NY Times

The Age of Acquiescence: “The passionate activists from the Age of Aquarius have grown up to be the new Silent Majority.” NY Times Sorry, Maureen, I know what you’re trying to do. You usually make such eminent sense. But the convenient media appeal of the hypocrisy of ’60’s survivors turned middle aged petty bourgeois or nouveau riche is the only way they cover that generation, and it just isn’t so. The earnest members of the counterculture have not lost their cynical mistrust of the government, their commitment to subversion of the dominant paradigm, and their interest in finding new and better ways to be kind in the face of the advancing oligopoly. To argue that, because “the new boss” is “same as the old boss”, nothing was achieved only criticizes an immature caricature of ‘Movement ideology which thought it would be easy. And certainly admirable, principled people still believe after Sept. 11th, and live the belief, that there’s “nothing to kill or die for”, if by quoting Lennon she meant the principled thoughtful stance that the Bush henchmen’s WoT® has been misguided, deceptive, self-serving, immoral and fruitless.

‘World’s Worst Poet’ Wins Immortality

“A Scottish poet so bad he was often asked to perform just so the audience could laugh at him will have his verse etched in stone in the city where he worked. William Topaz McGonagall, who died in 1902, has gained posthumous recognition in the Scottish city of Dundee, which plans to mark the centenary of his death by engraving part of one his poems on a walkway by the river Tay.” Yahoo! News

An example:


“Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silvery Tay !

With your numerous arches and pillars in so grand array

And your central girders, which seem to the eye

To be almost towering to the sky…”

“Satellites will shortly swing into action to track sheep grazing habits as part of a project to design farms that make animals happier. The Food Animal Initiative combines scientists from Oxford University and farmers funded by British food industry giants supermarket Tesco and burger chain McDonalds UK..” That tells you how little more than window-dressing the project is to be. I’d venture to say most of the animals destined to end up as a patty or slab at one of the food industry giants’ venues never roamed free in a pasture or had their choice of what to graze upon… Reuters

Seeking love on the dotted line: “Epstein, a Harvard-trained psychologist who lives part time in Cambridge, insists this is no personal ad. He intends to test a possibility that is both novel and ancient: That love for an appropriate person can be systematically induced.” Boston Globe

Pinpointing a Pivotal Processor:

“Every known drug of abuse, a wide variety of neurotransmitters and therapeutic agents, all channel into a single protein that “integrates information from all over the brain and provides a meaningful physiological readout,” according to Nobel Laureate Paul Greengard.

Greengard, professor of neuroscience at Rockefeller University in New York, has shown that a 32-kilodalton protein, dopamine- and cAMP-regulated phosphoprotein (DARPP-32), is a pivotal molecule in virtually all dopamine-related activities.” BioMedNet [free registration required] [thanks, Brian!]

Canada Preps for G8 Summit, which is being held at a remote mountain retreat in the Canadian Rockies. Canada is spenign half a billion dollars on the summit, mostly on security, but they’ve also bought off the local First Nations tribe to withdraw their permission to allow protesters to camp on their reservation land. A no-fly zone over the summit site will be enforced by fighter jets and surface-to-air missiles. Canada is adeptly using anti-terrorist sentiment to preempt the anti-globalisation movement’s making this its first muscle-flexing exercise in the post-Sept 11 world. Alternet

President Bush Calls for New Palestinian Leadership: ‘President Bush Monday said the United States supports creation of a provisional Palestinian state but only if a “new and different Palestinian leadership” is found other than Yasser Arafat.’ Reuters

Court Rules That Only Juries Can Impose Death Sentences: The decision was based on the sixth amendment guarantee of a trial by one’s peers.

“Joining Justice (Ruth Bader) Ginsburg in the majority were Justices John Paul Stevens, Anthony M. Kennedy, David H. Souter, Stephen G. Breyer and — somewhat surprisingly — the conservative Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist dissented…

The decision in Ring v. Arizona, 01-488, invalidated the death-sentencing procedures in five states, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana and Nebraska, which have 168 people under death sentences and where a judge or panel of judges decides sentence. It could also affect the capital punishment statutes in four other states, Alabama, Delaware, Florida and Indiana, which have 529 people under death sentences. Those states have a hybrid system under which juries advise a judge on the sentence…

(I)t was not clear whether the condemned prisoners would automatically get life sentences or could be sentenced to death again under new procedures. Some previous landmark opinions on capital punishment have meant reprieves for whole death-row populations.”

This is the second monumental death sentence restriction handed down by the Suporeme Court this week, of course, after the ruling that mentally retarded prisoners cannot be executed. I worked as a psychiatric consultant on three death row cases, in two of which (in Alabama) the death sentence had been imposed by the presiding judge’s override of a jury’s “recommendation” of a lesser sentence; the third defendant was mentally retarded…

First honest-to-God software adaptation of D&D.” Wired

Several FmH’ers found my comments about the wildfires naive, suggesting that it would take turning back the clocks a century to a period of vast tracts of wilderness unpenetrated by human presence before we can let fires burn. Garret Vreeland, who knows whereof he speaks — and wherefrom, Santa Fe, unlike my effete, removed New England vantage point — points out that today’s forest fires are far more severe than they are supposed to be — in a sense, he says, not ‘natural’ at all, as I had asserted — because we have had a policy of preventing lesser fires and “preserving (the forests) to death.” Here’s the essence of Vreeland’s argument, which I don’t feel hesitant about making public because he’s just written essentially the same thing at dangerousmeta:

“there are no empty, pristine forests that are safe to let burn. that’s the old ‘wild west’ myth. if it’s not homes, it’s an ecosystem that feeds and cleans water supplies for hundreds of miles. or a precious ecosystem for wildlife and animals. ‘wilderness’ only exists in narrow swaths between human habitations.”

He goes on to mention the health effects of smoke over populated areas if we “let it burn.” And he reminds me that the abandoned mines and mine tailings put toxic heavy metals into the ecosystem when volatilized (does this happen in a forest fire?). Dramatic case in point: the Cerro Grande fire at Los Alamos several years ago,. At the time I wrote here about the fears that this fire would release substantial radioactivity from all that the National Laboratory had been dumping in surrounding areas.

My friend Abby also wrote that humans are part of the ecosystem and that it is too impossible for us to get out of the way of nature.

The thrust of my comments was not intended to be the suggestion that we simply let the fires burn and get out of their way, although on rereading it is obvious why it came across that way. Both Garret and Abby seem in fact to reinforce the point I was trying to make — that we are in the fix we are because of a mindset of not seeing ourselves as embedded in the ecosystem but ranged against it. This is where the hubris of viewing the fires solely from the p.o.v. of their threatening and dangerous impact on humans, my peevishness about which was the precipitant for my post, arises from.

The unfortunate people who found their worldly possessions in the path of these wildfires, I meant to say, are not at fault; they are tragic victims of an inadequate worldview in the policy sphere. Garret suggests we read Era of the Big Fire is Kindled at West’s Doors from today’s New York Times. “Ten times as many homes are now in areas prone to wildfire as there were 25 years ago…” Snuffing out all fires only delays the super-devastating, inevitable big ones, it seems. Without a change in forest and fire management policy, allowing controlled burning and aggressive thinning, we’re in for much more of this, it seems. But if the government were interested in changing policy, it has severely hampered itself with some missteps in the last decade. And fires have become — forgive me — a hot topic, highly politicized. Net effect — the Bush administration appears to have no plans for a change.

And, finally, falling water tables and drought conditions, which set the west up for megafires, may be a consequence of global warming, calling for more pervasive policy change. But the Bush administration is philosophically averse to even considering the reality of the greenhouse effect.

So, for the moment at least,  it would seem prudent for people to be more attentive to whether they’re situating their ‘dream house’ in a fire zone…

 

Urgent Call is a new initiative to engage and educate a broad public about the growing danger that nuclear weapons will be used, and about practical steps to reduce that danger.

Sign the petition.

Make a donation.

Please.

(Via the Betty Fnord Clinic, where you can also buy the teeshirt):

The Skeptic’s Dictionary: “A Critical Survey of Questionable Therapies, Eccentric Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions and Dangerous Delusions” by Robert T. Carroll, Professor of Philosophy, Sacramento City College. [via vampagan]

“Four disruptive technologies are emerging that promise to render not only the next wave of so-called 3G wireless networks irrelevant, but possibly even their 4G successors.”

: “…(T)he parlous state of the wireless-telecoms industry, and the difficulties surrounding the deployment of “third generation” (3G) networks in particular, could be taken as evidence that existing ways of doing things are reaching their limits, and that some radical new ideas are needed.

Here, then, are four emerging technologies that show much promise: smart antennas, mesh networks, ad hoc architectures, and ultra-wideband transmission. Smart antennas are already in use and mesh networks are starting to appear, while ad hoc architectures and ultra-wideband are still largely restricted to the laboratory. But each challenges existing ways of doing things; each, on its own, or in combination with others, could shake up the wireless world. The Economist

Tooth phone provides covert chat:

A prototype radio device designed to fit inside a human tooth and provide covert mobile phone communications has been created by two UK students. The device currently consists of a digital radio receiver that converts radio signals into sound and a tiny vibrating component, which conveys sound to the wearer’s inner ear through bone vibrations. New Scientist

Psychiatric reactions: this will not sit well with a number of paranoid schizophrenic patients. For decades, it has been a fairly common delusion, on the transmitter side, that their dental fillings are bugs. On the receiver side, some explain the auditory hallucinations that are a prominent part of the illness by invoking the small receivers that have been implanted in their heads, and sometimes their teeth. And I have heard tales of people being able to hear actual radio broadcasts, supposedly because their dental fillings are resonating with the broadcast frequency. This Google search on ‘ “dental fillings” and “radio” ‘ will take you further, you hear?

Solving the Case of the Missing Comets. Comets that get kicked into the inner solar system from the Oort Cloud and loop around the sun ought to enter elongated elliptical orbits that will bring them back, yet in the five decades that astronomers have figured this out, they have wondered why far too few ever make a return pass. Now, a new computer model suggests that 99% of them simply disintegrate. space.com

First picture of secretive carnivore: “An African carnivore that has not been spotted for 70 years has been captured on film for the first time, in the Udzungwa Mountains National Park in Tanzania. Known as Lowe’s servaline genet, the three-foot long animal is a relative of the mongoose. It was previously known only from descriptions and a single skin collected by hunters in 1932.” New Scientist

“Manual” — ‘An anthology of new work from seventeen writers with websites. It is available as a downloadable PDF…’

Re-engineering the Drug Business:

Sept. 11 and its new world of heightened border controls has made decentralization doubly important for international smuggling networks, be they Chinese, Colombian, Turkish or Nigerian. Ever since the big Cali and Medellin cartels were wiped out nearly a decade ago, virtually the entire narcotics trade has radically slimmed down. With the added pressure of 9/11 security measures, drug kingpins have adopted the mantra of their more enlightened corporate cousins, that size does not necessarily create efficiency, and that to survive you have to stay nimble.

Heroin is the perfect drug for the new age of small-batch manufacturing and decentralization, a high-value-added commodity where a little goes a very long way. In fact, it’s so well suited to the changing times that many cocaine traffickers are retooling their production lines to include heroin and joining the global trend toward leaner, meaner, terrorist-style operations. NY Times Magazine

Maureen Dowd: Hans, Franz & W.: “Does it ever occur to Mr. Bush and his aides to vacate the gym and nail down a Middle East policy?” NY Times op-ed

[Collapse into Cool]Starbucks yanks ads mocking 9/11: Could we be overreading this? I think not, especially recalling (as does Brooke Biggs of Bittershack, from whom I cribbed this link) that the Starbucks near the WTC site took it upon itself to charge relief workers for their water in the first days after the attack. This (right) was a window poster appearing at 3000 Starbucks storefronts (including the ones in lower Manhattan near the WTC), depicting twin towering cups of their iced fruit tea drinks being dive bombed by a dragon fly, with the legend “Collapse into Cool.” The posters have been pulled after numerous consumer complaints. NY Post [Awaiting a public response from Starbucks corporate headquarters. On the one hand, it is hard to understand such depraved indifference on the part even of an ad agency, but on the other hand look at how much added press Starbucks gets out of this, even if bad. Just one more reason to refrain from patronizing them, if you needed another reason…  –FmH]

Nat Perry: Bush’s Grim Vision:

“In the nine months since Sept. 11, George W. Bush has put the United States on a course that is so bleak that few analysts have – as the saying goes – connected the dots. If they had, they would see an outline of a future that mixes constant war overseas with abridgment of constitutional freedoms at home, a picture drawn by a politician who once joked, “If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier – so long as I’m the dictator.” The Consortium

While I certainly agree with the sentiment, how well-established is the egregious — stupid even for George W. — quote? Should snopes.com look into it?

After an exchange of email, I want to make a public correction. I had previously been appreciative of self-professed ‘neoconservative’ weblogger Joe Katzman for taking notice of a ‘liberal’ blog like FmH in his Winds of Change. In this post, I mischaracterized Katzman as ” believing his brand of weblog is the only counter to the ‘dominant media culture’ ” . Actually, I was deriding Eric Raymond at the time, but I lumped Katzman in with him. However, it was an unfair caricature of his position, for while he finds it indisputable that the weblog world is a hedge against media bias it would be ridiculous to assert that it is the only one. So I hereby retract my use of the word “only” in that context. In our correspondence, we agreed to disagree about some of my other arguments, but the operative word is “agreed”. I still stand by my gratitude and admiration that here is a member of the ‘warblogging’ community who is willing to talk between sometimes warring camps.

Now you know the hole story: “Calls have come from around the country. UFO enthusiasts have visited the hole on 164th Avenue Northeast and come up with their own suspicions. Kaare and other neighborhood children have lined up outside the caution tape, peering over the edge.

And almost everyone has a theory as to how the hole appeared here in the first place.” Seattle Post-Intelligencer [via spike report]

[RoboCup 2002] RoboCup: “By the year 2050, develop a team of fully autonomous humanoid robots that can win against the human world soccer champion team.” RoboCup 2002 taking place now in Fukuoka, Japan.

“After four months of entertaining humans, Gaak the predator robot yesterday did what all the best robots do in science fiction: he copied his masters’ most basic instinct and made a dash for freedom.

Programmed to sink a metal fang into smaller but more nimble prey robots, to “eat” their electric power, at a science adventure centre, Gaak showed that a two year experiment in maturing robot “thinking” may be proving alarmingly successful.

Left unattended for 15 minutes, the 2ft metal machine crept along a barrier until it found a gap, squeezed through, navigated across a car park and reached the Magna science centre’s exit by the M1 motorway in Rotherham, South Yorkshire.” Guardian UK

Stop Him Before He Lies Again: “Would somebody please notice that Bush is being grossly dishonest about his most important piece of domestic policy? ” The New Republic

Hollywood Wants to Plug the “Analog Hole”:

The people who tried to take away your VCR are at it again. Hollywood has always dreamed of a “well-mannered marketplace” where the only technologies that you can buy are those that do not disrupt its business. Acting through legislators who dance to Hollywood’s tune, the movie studios are racing to lock away the flexible, general-purpose technology that has given us a century of unparalelled prosperity and innovation.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) filed the “Content Protection Status Report” with the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, laying out its plan to remake the technology world to suit its own ends. The report calls for regulation of analog-to-digital converters (ADCs), generic computing components found in scientific, medical and entertainment devices. Under its proposal, every ADC will be controlled by a “cop-chip” that will shut it down if it is asked to assist in converting copyrighted material — your cellphone would refuse to transmit your voice if you wandered too close to the copyrighted music coming from your stereo. –Cory Doctorow [via Joe Katzman]

Each year, media coverage of the wildfire season seems more and more fervent about the desperate necessity of controlling the fires and the tragedy of destruction of human property they cause. What is lost is a perspective on the fact that both forest and prairie fires are part of a vast and perennial natural cycle. Without derogating the heroism of the smokejumpers who risk their lives to fight these fires, it strikes me that humans are the interlopers in this ecological interplay. Perhaps the confrontation with such majestic natural forces should strengthen our deermination not to fight them in our hubris, but to get out of their way with humility? Is it worth the cost — in lives, in money, and to our souls — to fight as we do? I react the same way when I hear about the California mudslides each rainy season, flood damage, disastrous hurricanes… Here’s a Google search on wildfire ecology as a starting point.

Porn provocateur: “Lizzy Borden, whose ultraviolent films feature women being beaten, raped and doused in vomit, insists that she is a gender pioneer whose repellent movies are morality tales.” Salon

The Trouble With Frida Kahlo: “…(L)ike a game of telephone, the more Kahlo’s story has been told, the more it has been distorted, omitting uncomfortable details that show her to be a far more complex and flawed figure than the movies and cookbooks suggest. This elevation of the artist over the art diminishes the public understanding of Kahlo’s place in history and overshadows the deeper and more disturbing truths in her work. Even more troubling, though, is that by airbrushing her biography, Kahlo’s promoters have set her up for the inevitable fall so typical of women artists, that time when the contrarians will band together and take sport in shooting down her inflated image, and with it, her art.” Washington Monthly

Supreme Court Bars Executing the Mentally Retarded:

“In one of the most important capital punishment cases in years, the United States Supreme Court ruled today that executing killers who are mentally retarded is unconstitutional.

The 6-to-3 ruling not only spared the life of Daryl R. Atkins, a Virginia inmate, at least for now, but could save scores of other death-row prisoners in the 20 states that still allow the execution of mentally retarded murderers. Thirty-eight states have capital punishment.” NY Times

Although this ruling opens a Pandora’s Box of complications — some of them akin to the ongoing controversy over the ‘insanity defense’ for the mentally ill — the humanity of not executing someone whose developmental level prevents them from appreciating the nature of their crime or the meaning of their death sentence seems manifest. Judging a society by how it treats its least able may still have some currency after all…

Any longtime net users among you will understand why mentioning the Internet Scout Report invokes a compulsion to precede it with the word ‘venerable.’ Now it has reinvented itself as an honest-to-God Weblog. [thanks, Rebecca]

James Ridgeway: Alleged Dirty Bomber Dead Ringer for Oklahoma City’s John Doe 2: I hadn’t noticed this story until Dan Hartung pointed out in Lake Effect that Ridgeway caught on from the weblogging world, as he says here:

The strange saga of Abdullah al Muhajir, a/k/a Jose Padilla, took yet another turn this morning, when Internet gumshoes Fuckedworld and Junkyardblog spotted his look-a-like . . . guess where?

In the police drawing of a still-missing Oklahoma City bombing suspect, that’s where. Al Muhajir, held since May 8 on accusations that he intended to build and detonate a dirty bomb, is the spitting image of the mysterious John Doe 2, featured in police sketches and long touted by cops as a principal along with Tim McVeigh. Some law enforcement officials have insisted no such suspect ever existed, though witnesses described the second figure getting out of the rental truck with McVeigh seconds before the explosion.

However speculative, this clicks in more ways than one, since McVeigh’s lawyer tried to argue in Federal District Court in Denver that the 1995 plot may have had roots in the Philippines among men known to have been Al Qaeda operatives with direct ties to Osama bin laden. Though the judge rebuffed his argument, attorney Stephen Jones said he found people in the Philippines who claimed accomplice Terry Nichols met with terrorists there in the years before the 1995 attack. Village Voice

Here’s Fuckedworld’s summary of the evidence connecting the dots. Jumping to the punchline, its author John Berger concludes:

We still don’t know that McVeigh and Padilla ever even met. But Padilla worked just minutes from the home of Timothy McVeigh’s sister, during McVeigh’s 1993 visit. At that time, Padilla was actively seeking connections with the world of Islam, possibly including a relationship with the local sponsor of the Benevolent International Foundation, which has been linked to terror operations in the Philippines, specifically to an Abu Sayyef cell which some sources (of uncertain merit)

Unfortunately, the investigation to date still falls far short of “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The Nichols-BIF connection rests almost solely on the word of a very shady character who is now too dead to answer questions or provide leads. And connecting Padilla to BIF still falls short of connecting him directly to Yousef or Wali Khan. The McVeigh-Padilla connection is intriguing but as yet unresolved. The investigation continues. Keep reading.

Berger notes: “Bryan Preston at the Junkyard Blog made one of the earliest observations of the connection, although there is some friendly competition among various sites and message boards that claim to have called it first. My Web site didn’t originate this theory, but I was among the earliest to push it out before the public, and the subsequent research in this story is mine.” I like him better than Preston already, who is falling all over himself about having broken the story. BTW, the photos don’t really look that much alike, methinks.

Enter the Globocourt: William Safire reaches more than abit when he argues against the international criminal court — the Clinton administration’s support for which of course the Bush administration has already rescinded — on the grounds that it will jeopardize journalistic free expression, and endanger the lives of international war reporters, by asserting its authority to summon journalist witnesses to international war crimes to give testimony. Quite a stretch, to suggest that “if dictators see reporters as potential witnesses in prosecutions, tyrants in trouble will be likely to kill those witnesses”; under the modern rules of warfare, they’re already in grave danger just for being there to bear witness bravely. C’mon, Bill, if you want to be behind Rumsfeld on this one, just say so…

A Scholar Recants on His ‘Shakespeare’ Discovery

In 1995 Donald Foster, a professor of English at Vassar College, made a startling case for Shakespeare’s being the author of an obscure 578-line poem called “A Funeral Elegy.” After a front-page article about his methods of computer analysis in The New York Times — and after his reputation was further burnished by unmasking Joe Klein as the author of “Primary Colors” — the poem was added to three major editions of Shakespeare’s works.


Now, in a stunning development that has set the world of Shakespeare scholarship abuzz, Professor Foster has admitted he was wrong. In a message dated June 12 and quietly left last Thursday on the Internet discussion group Shaksper (www.shaksper.net), he said that another poet and dramatist was the more likely author of the poem. He was joined in his recantation by Richard Abrams, a professor of English at the University of Southern Maine, who has been his close associate in the Shakespeare attribution. NY Times

US Heard ‘Tomorrow Is Zero Hour’ on Eve of Attacks: “U.S. intelligence intercepted two messages the day before the Sept. 11 attacks that indicated an event was planned the following day, but the communications were not translated until Sept. 12, government sources said on Wednesday.” Reuters

David Brake writes, “It’s been a nervous week for patients.” On the heels of the Annals of Internal Medicine series examining medical mistakes in U.S. practice, which I pointed to below, comes this BBC report. Junior doctors ‘lack knowledge’

Many junior doctors do not know the signs that a patient is critically ill, according to a report…. Its authors recommend an urgent overhaul of the training provided by medical schools…

The researchers found almost a third of doctors failed to answer a question on how to deal with someone who was unconscious.

None of the trainees identified all of the steps involved in using an oxygen mask, and a fifth did not understand how it worked….

I just learned of the death of Leo Marks in January; he was the screenwriter for one of the most disturbing films I’ve ever seen, Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom. This New York Press obituary is worth reading, to start with for more about the furor around Peeping Tom. Marks was an original:

In 1958, English film director Michael Powell was casting about for a new collaborator, having split two years earlier with his longtime partner, Emeric Pressburger… Powell ran into producer Danny Angel, whose recent World War II espionage picture Carve Her Name with Pride had been well-received. As Powell recounts…, Angel asked him, “Are you still looking for a writer to work with you, like Pressburger did? Because, if you are, you ought to see Leo Marks. He’s as crazy as you are. He’s been working with me [on Carve Her Name]. Apparently, he was a codebreaker during the war, and he tells the tallest stories about it that I’ve ever heard… He can write poetry. He’s weird, I tell you. He lives double or triple lives, he’s difficult to get ahold of, and he’s full of mystery and conundrums.”

All true. Freshly turned 38, Leo Marks–World War II codebreaker (and codemaker), poet, raconteur, mufti of the mysterioso with high-voltage connections in the British Intelligence Service–had enjoyed a smidgen of success in London’s West End as a playwright with The Girl Who Couldn’t Quite! (1947) and The Best Damn Lie (1957), and as a screenwriter with Cloudburst (1951) and Carve Her Name.

“National Public Radio’s linking policy at npr.org has caused a fuss within the blog community that’s hot and getting hotter. The policy’s simply stated in two sentences: ‘Linking to or framing of any material on this site without the prior written consent of NPR is prohibited. If you would like to link to NPR from your Web site, please fill out the link permission request form.’ This is buried, of course, in a page linked to the site’s footer, but somebody noticed and mentioned it to Howard Rheingold, who passed it on to Cory Doctorow of boingboing.net. Cory wrote scathing commentary, calling the policy ‘brutally stupid,’ even ‘fatally stupid.’ The outrage is spreading; this has to be a rough day for the NPR ombudsman who’s deluged with email by now… ~24 hours after Cory’s report.” Slashdot [thanks, Walker]

Segway gets okay for sidewalks: “The high-tech Segway scooter is still months away from being available to the public, and already half the states have speedily cleared a path by changing their laws to allow the electric-powered vehicle on sidewalks.” MSNBC [“Scooter”?!?! –FmH]

Does Poverty Cause Terrorism?

An understanding of the causes of terrorism is essential if an effective strategy is to be crafted to combat it. Drawing a false and unjustified connection between poverty and terrorism is potentially quite dangerous, as the international aid community may lose interest in providing support to developing nations when the imminent threat of terrorism recedes, much as support for development waned in the aftermath of the Cold War; and connecting foreign aid with terrorism risks the possibility of humiliating many people in less developed countries, who are implicitly told that they receive aid only to prevent them from committing acts of terror. Moreover, premising foreign aid on the threat of terrorism could create perverse incentives in which some groups are induced to engage in terrorism to increase their prospects of receiving aid. In our view, alleviating poverty is reason enough to pressure economically advanced countries to provide more aid than they are currently giving. Falsely connecting terrorism to poverty serves only to deflect attention from the real roots of terrorism. ( — Alan B. Krueger, Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University; and Jitka Malecková, associate professor at the Institute for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Charles University in Prague) The New Republic

[via Walker, thanks]: Telemarketing Tidbit

I just got off the phone with a telemarketer in record time. I used a new technique – it just occurred to me on the fly – and it not only gets them off really quickly (so to speak) but it also screws up their computer files.

My old technique was a bit more interpersonally brutal. As soon as I could tell it was a telemarketer, I’d simply shout “I’m bleeding!” and then hang up the phone. It guaranteed they would free up the line.

This new one, well, I don’t know why I did it, exactly. The guy called said he was from Verizon online, and congratulated me on the fact that my phone now qualified for broadband/DSL. So I told him I already have verizon dsl. He said, “really?” I said ‘yeah. For a year, now. Great stuff!” He got off right away, and – I assume – entered me in the computer (incorrectly) as someone who already has Verizon DSL.

This should work for everyone. Worst case, tell them that you just signed up for whatever it is ten minutes ago. Then they’ll mark you in the books as someone who already has whatever it is, and not call you again.

Of course the whole thing may backfire. I’ll keep you posted.

And I’ll post something of greater value to the world, here, later today or tomorrow.

[I like the ‘bleeding’ line… -FmH]

Everything you know is wrong (cont’d.):

There’s a revolution afoot in understanding how antidepressant medications work. Since the brain is largely a black box and an important source of evidence for what’s going on inside the box is what we know about how medications work when they’re fixing dysfunctions, this new and fundamentally different understanding may largely invalidate the “monoamine theory” of depression that has held sway for a half decade and which you certainly learned in school if you took any courses on the biological basis of psychopathology. This paper reviews the new emerging consensus “that depression maybe associated with a disruption of mechanisms that govern cell survival and neural plasticity in the brain. Antidepressants could mediate their effects by increasing neurogenesis and modulating the signaling pathways involved in plasticity and survival.”

I Will Survive — How do ex-presidents continue to thrive and exert political influence? First, they are survivors:

Eliminating presidents who died in office, the first 28 ex-presidents — from George Washington through Lyndon Johnson — lived an average of just 11.6 years after leaving the White House. As of July, however, the Nixon-to-Clinton cohort already averages 15.2 years, a figure growing daily because only Nixon is dead. With Clinton’s brief post-presidency excluded, the mean increases to 17.9 years, and the 54-year-old Clinton may eventually raise the group’s mean post-presidential tenure to twice that of its 28 predecessors. Ford and Carter already rank second and fourth, respectively, in post-presidential longevity. Ford will soon pass legendary ex-president John Adams into third place, and both Ford and Carter may pass Herbert Hoover’s 31-year standard.

Then there’s money, the bully pulpit, bipartisanship, institutional memory… The American Prospect

Microsoft to reinstate Java in Windows:

“In an about-face, Microsoft said Tuesday that it will reinstate the ability to run Java programs in Windows XP.

Microsoft said it would include its own Java software in the Service Pack 1 update to Windows XP due late this summer. In the long term, though, the company plans to remove Java from Windows altogether.

The reinstatement is a partial victory for Java inventor and Microsoft rival Sun Microsystems, which in the 1990s had hoped people would use the cross-platform language to write programs capable of running on any computer, regardless of the operating system used by the machine.” CNET

The Power of Love Leaps the Great Divide of Death:

“At first it sounds like a high-concept movie, one of those supernatural heart-tuggers like Ghost or The Sixth Sense: the story of a teenage girl’s rape and murder, and the fallout those events have on her family, as narrated from heaven by the dead girl herself.

As it turns out, however, Alice Sebold’s first novel, The Lovely Bones, is anything but a hokey, Ouija-board mystery. What might play as a sentimental melodrama in the hands of a lesser writer becomes in this volume a keenly observed portrait of familial love and how it endures and changes over time. The novel is an elegy, much like Alice McDermott’s That Night, about a vanished place and time and the loss of childhood innocence. And it is also a deeply affecting meditation on the ways in which terrible pain and loss can be redeemed — slowly, grudgingly and in fragments — through love and acceptance.” NY Times book review