Day: April 24, 2004

Music Playlists, a new site, helps uncover links to songs by making it easy for users to create and share playlists of songs on the Web. When you click on a playlist, the site assembles the links into a seamless radio show that you can listen to without any messy downloading. Think of it as a mix tape you can share and change at will.

Webjay already features several thousand playlists linking to more than 30,000 tracks, according to the site’s founder, Lucas Gonze, a programmer in Brooklyn. ‘The point is to find cool unknown songs and to encourage people to share what they find,’ he said. The playlists are varied and idiosyncratic, ranging from old radio shows and techno music to ‘Society 78’s from Stalin-era U.S.S.R.'” — New York Times

"Uncle Sam Needs Your Help Again"

I wrote a reminiscence of the “I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die-Rag” here just last month, with an update on what Country Joe McDonald has been up to (for those few of you who were still, if ever, wondering). Now comes word that, “…reconstituted with four of the legendary group’s original five members, the new Country Joe Band has just begun to tour. When I saw them perform, midway through April, the music was as tightly effusive as ever, with poetic lyrics mostly brought to bear on two perennials: love and death.” — Norman Solomon, CommonDreams […and a great big ‘Fish Cheer’ to you and yours, President Bush.]

23/5 Exquisite Corpse1

Now I know I posted a disdainful item about the 23/5 meme down below. This variant, proposed on Incoming Signals, seems more interesting:

“Take the nearest six to ten books from your shelf.

Open them to page 23, and find the fifth sentence.

Write down those sentences and arrange them to form a short story.

Post the text in your journal along with these instructions.”

Incoming Signals links to several of the results submitted to them. However, it strikes me that most of the participants have ignored the instruction to use the books nearest at hand and gone, instead, for those that will impress most.

1For those who don’t know, here is the explanation of the term “exquisite corpse”:

Among Surrealist techniques exploiting the mystique of accident was a kind of collective collage of words or images called the cadavre exquis (exquisite corpse). Based on an old parlor game, it was played by several people, each of whom would write a phrase on a sheet of paper, fold the paper to conceal part of it, and pass it on to the next player for his contribution.

How Much Information Do Grades Convey?

“One of the standard arguments against grade inflation is that inflated grades convey less information about students’ performaces to employers, graduate schools, and the students themselves.

In light of the grade inflation debate at Princeton, I decided to apply information theory, a branch of computer science theory, to the question of how much information is conveyed by students’ course grades. I report the results in a four-page memo, in which I conclude that Princeton grades convey 11% less information than they did thirty years ago, and that imposing a 35% quota on A-level grades, as Princeton is proposing doing, would increase the information content of grades by 10% at most.” — Edward W. Felten, Freedom to Tinker

This is Utterly Outrageous

“Doctors or other health care providers could not be disciplined or sued if they refuse to treat gay patients under legislation passed Wednesday by the Michigan House.

The bill allows health care workers to refuse service to anyone on moral, ethical or religious grounds.

The Republican dominated House passed the measure as dozens of Catholics looked on from the gallery. The Michigan Catholic Conference, which pushed for the bills, hosted a legislative day for Catholics on Wednesday at the state Capitol.

The bills now go the Senate, which also is controlled by Republicans.

The Conscientious Objector Policy Act would allow health care providers to assert their objection within 24 hours of when they receive notice of a patient or procedure with which they don’t agree. However, it would prohibit emergency treatment to be refused.”

I am not surprised that a state legislature beholden to far-right religious fanatics would pass such legislation, but as a physician I assert that any health care professional who declines to provide service to someone because of the patient’s religious or sexual preferences should have an ethics complaint filed against them with their state licensing board. This should happen again and again, for every infringement, until the burden of responding to so many complaints is untenable for the subject and the licensing board of the state that passed such inane legislation. And I will join Atrios in pledging to be part of a network to ‘out’ any healthcare provider who avails themselves of the protections of this bill, for purposes both of public shaming and boycotting their business and hopefully impacting them significantly where it hurts.

Americans Still Believe Saddam-Terror Link

“A majority of Americans still believes Saddam Hussein was in cahoots with al-Qa’ida and that Iraq either had weapons of mass destruction or a programme for developing them, according to a new opinion poll.

The poll, conducted by the University of Maryland, showedmost respondents were unaware of the testimony of David Kay, the administration’s chief weapons inspector, that he had found no weapons, or that of Richard Clarke, the former counter-terrorism tsar whose book Against All Enemies has been the talk of Washington.” — Independent.UK Well, it is said that a people gets the government they deserve. The only problem is that I and my family have to live with it.

The War Dead Controversy

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Pentagon Ban on Pictures of Dead Troops Is Broken: “The Pentagon’s ban on making images of dead soldiers’ homecomings at military bases public was briefly relaxed yesterday, as hundreds of photographs of flag-draped coffins at Dover Air Force Base were released on the Internet by a Web site dedicated to combating government secrecy.

The Web site, the Memory Hole (, had filed a Freedom of Information Act request last year, seeking any pictures of coffins arriving from Iraq at the Dover base in Delaware, the destination for most of the bodies. The Pentagon yesterday labeled the Air Force Air Mobility Command’s decision to grant the request a mistake, but news organizations quickly used a selection of the 361 images taken by Defense Department photographers.” — New York Times.

Pentagon angered by photos from military mortuaryCNN.

Woman loses her job over coffins photo: “A military contractor has fired Tami Silicio, a Kuwait-based cargo worker whose photograph of flag-draped coffins of fallen U.S. soldiers was published in Sunday’s edition of The Seattle Times.”

“A White House spokesman… said on Friday that President Bush had seen photographs of the coffins of service members killed in Iraq arriving at Dover Air Force Base that were made public on Thursday and agreed with the Pentagon that releasing the photographs was wrong.” — New York Times

This is not a partisan issue. While the Memory Hole is certainly on the progressive end of the spectrum, Tami Silicio reportedly supported the invasion of Iraq, yet felt that honoring the war dead by having her photo published was worth risking her job. (According to the editor at The Seattle Times responsible for the decision to publish the photo — a “no-brainer” from a journalistic standpoint, he said — they had about a week’s discussion with Silicio before reaching a final decision, among other things reviewing the consequences she might suffer for her action.) Quite simply, the controversy ought to be not about the publication of the photos but about the dysadministration’s policy of not allowing publicity about the war dead. The Bush spokesperson’s argument about respecting the privacy of the grieving families is self-serving and disingenuous, no matter where you are on the political spectrum. Bush had no difficulty invading the privacy of the grieving families who lost loved ones in the WTC attack for his ad campaign, as Ted Koppel reminded us on Nightline last night [thanks, abby]. No individual family’s privacy is invaded by iconic depictions of flag-draped coffins, and families of the war dead have been grateful for the reverent way in which these powerful images have finally come to view.

Disgust Quotient Books: The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating:

“An audacious chef whose St. John restaurant in London draws legions of fans, Henderson is a staunch proponent of using virtually the entirety of any plant or animal being served up. Harking back to the days when very little went to waste, he practices what he preaches with such victuals as Rolled Pig’s Spleen, Duck’s Neck Terrine and Roast Woodcock, which is cooked with innards and head intact, the latter providing a bit of ‘delicious brains.’ Henderson recommends the use of a disposable Bic razor for depilating the primary ingredient in Crispy Pig Tails. And then there’s Warm Pig’s Head, which extreme chef Anthony Bourdain describes in his introduction as ‘so Goddamn amazing that it borders on religious epiphany.’ Here, too, are four recipes for lamb’s brains, a commodity that Henderson admits is illegal in both the U.S. and England. Home chefs will encounter difficulties in obtaining other ingredients as well. Blood Cake and Fried Eggs calls for a quart of fresh pig’s blood, and Soft Roes on Toast requires delicate white sacs of herring semen.” — Amazon [via boing boing]

Related: Disgust:

“Test your sensitivity to disgust and take part in a real science experiment. It has 20 questions and should take between 5-10 minutes. The questionnaire is split into two sections. Section one consists of 19 questions. Section two consists of a single vote. It was developed by Dr Val Curtis of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.” — BBC