if you're one of the lucky ones it's Wednesday, February 01, 2006
if you're one of the lucky ones it's Thursday, April 21, 2005
It's good to know that the fine folks at Feld Entertainment believe "all children should experience the joy of a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey performance." Feld is the production company behind that storied touring spectacle as well as the more modern Disney On Ice (which currently is touring 8 different shows.)
At Ringling Brothers they are concerned about egality on multiple levels. They put their money where their mouth is and declare that "every child under 12 months old and living in the continental United States (including Alaska and Hawaii) is entitled to receive his or her first ticket to The Greatest Show On Earth® absolutely FREE!" Of course some caring adult must request the ticket in the child's first year, but it is good forever. It is also good to note that in the spirit of fairness they include Alaska and Hawaii in the continental U.S.
But they don't stop there! They also have special provisions for families with multiple child births. Parents simply send copies of the birth certificates to the Feld Entertainment headquarters in Vienna, Va.
Vienna itself holds a peculiar place in the annals of fairness. During the Civil War it had the unfortunate fate of being in the middle of heavily contested territory. The town was conquered by both sides numerous times leading much of the population to flee the confusion.
By 1869 things had quieted down in Vienna and the first public school was built. The school, which doubled as a Baptist church, was for black students only. In 1872 the first white public school opened. Today, the schools in Vienna are part of the Fairfax County public school system which boasts higher than average SAT scores (1094 versus 1016.) Fairfax County public schools has fairness in mind for it's students with its Princess For A Night program which takes in donated prom dresses and accessories and gives them to students who would otherwise be unable to afford them.
Fairfax County is also the birthplace of America On Line. Like many great American products, AOL provides a simplified version of the ever popular internet. AOL provides many services like information on the latest films, listings of important news items, and the essential weather forecast.
Americans have a strange fascination with the weather that extends well beyond their agricultural heritage. This of course is the secret behind all local television newscasts, you wont change the channel until you see the weather - 20 minutes into the program. They count on your captivation for that one nugget of information.
While many local television stations spend plenty of money on various pieces of weather detecting information, none of them can compete with the National Weather Service on pure weather data. The NWS has this as their mission:
The National Weather Service (NWS) provides weather, hydrologic, and climate forecasts and warnings for the United States, its territories, adjacent waters and ocean areas, for the protection of life and property and the enhancement of the national economy. NWS data and products form a national information database and infrastructure which can be used by other governmental agencies, the private sector, the public, and the global community.
For quite some time there has been a wealth of data available from the NWS and it's parent organization NOAA (which has an underwater laboratory.) The problem so far has been the form the data comes in. Until recently it has been composed in such a manner as to make it unweildy for many uses like television broadcasts and websites. Third party companies, like AccuWeather and The Weather Channel (provider of weather information to AOL when they're not busy inviting celebrities over for play dates), have taken the publicly funded data from the NOAA, changed it around and sold it.
Recently the NOAA was finally convinced to release their weather data in a more useful format called XML. XML was designed to be easily converted into a multitude of other formats and has special languages devoted to doing just that. With that change it suddenly became relatively trivial for anyone to make use of the weather data. This opened up what appeared to be a new era of fairness and accessibility.
Unless of course you were one of the aforementioned companies reselling reformatted weather data. To them it didn't sound fair at all, it sounded like "unfair government competition." So they called up their friends in congress and asked for the playing field to be levelled. Rick Santorum was an obvious choice for AccuWeather which is based in Pennsylvania. No one believes in fairness more than Senator Santorum. So Santorum intoduced a vaguely worded bill that prohibits anyone in the federal government from disclosing any information about the weather they get in connection to their position that might affect businesses or markets or products in some way, unless it has been disclosed by the NWS. The bill also prevents the NWS from "competing" against private companies unless it is to warn the public about impending doom.
The director of strategic planning and policy at the NWS responded by saying "If someone claims that our core mission is just warning the public of hazardous conditions, that's really impossible unless we forecast the weather all the time. You don't just plug in your clock when you want to know what time it is."
Quinnipiac University is telling the Penn State Saint what time it is. Their recent polling shows his approval rating and competitiveness against like challengers has continued to drop, partially due to his support of Bush's proposed Social Security changes and his visible role in the Terry Shiavo saga.
You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, Senator Santorum. Who ever said life was fair?
if you're one of the lucky ones it's Wednesday, March 23, 2005
The Size of Women
Seneca Falls, NY was the site of the first Women's Rights Convention in the U.S. on July 9th, 1848. Of the original signers of the Declaration of Sentiments created at the convention, only one, Charlotte Woodward, lived long enough to exercise her right to vote after 1920. Today, Seneca Falls is the home of the Women's Rights National Historical Park, run by the U.S. National Parks service. The site is home to an array of statues of the participants of the convention.
Of course there are other locations which have statues depicting notable women from history. Frequently the statues at the Women's Rights National Historical Park are referred to as "life-size." David Malone of the park explained the actual situation:
The statues are not life size, specifically. Only approximately close to life size. As an example, the statue ot Elizabeth Cady Stanton is about 5' 3" tall, which was about how tall she was. The statue of Frederic Douglass which is next to her is about 5' 11" tall, when in fact Douglass was 6' 4". A difference of about 5" between the statue and Douglass' actual height.
More anonymous figures have been created in various sizes such as this "best-selling" six foot tall lampshaded woman
available from an online retailer based in Big Bear City, CA.
More universally known "women" have also been immortalized in "life-size" form as well. My Size Barbie offers the unique possibility of comparing art and life.
Independent entreprenuers also offer a full line of premade and custom clothing for My Size Barbie. One such seamtress offers a tour of her collection.
The brain size of women (on average smaller than that of men) was often linked to intelligence by early pioneers of the fields of eugenics and phrenology, but even today people are still fighting about it.
On the other extreme is the Statue of Liberty, one of the largest figures of women around our fair land. Using the "standard forumla" for shoe size, the Statue of Liberty would have a shoe size of 879. If you were to shrink the statue down to the size of an average woman today (5'4") the statue of liberty would have a shoe size of 22. Barbie on the other hand if scaled to the size of an average woman or even to the height of an average model would have feet not big enough to make it into the range of women's shoe sizes.
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their duty to throw off such government and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of the women under this government, and such is now the necessity which constrains them to demand the equal station to which they are entitled.
The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.
-- excerpt from the Declaration of Sentiments
if you're one of the lucky ones it's Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Forbes.com is reporting on the top ten (well, nine by the time they posted the story) "corporate hate sites" (e.g. microsoftsucks.com.) In it they make the following snide remarks:
Note that we substantially cleaned up some of the posts, editing out odd capitulation[sic] schemes, iffy grammar and plain incoherence. Apparently blinding anger does not go hand in hand with dotting your i's and crossing your t's.
Of course, Forbes has already purchased the domain names forbessucks.com, forbesblows.com, and fuckforbes.com according to their whois information:
Forbes, Inc. (DOM-1334284)
60 Fifth Avenue New York NY 10011 US
Domain Name: forbessucks.com
Registrar Name: Markmonitor.com
Registrar Whois: whois.markmonitor.com
Registrar Homepage: http://www.markmonitor.com
Filipe Carreira (NIC-14324246) Forbes, Inc.
60 Fifth Avenue New York NY 10011 US
firstname.lastname@example.org +1.2122065152 Fax- +1.2122065127
Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
Filipe Carreira (NIC-14324246) Forbes, Inc.
60 Fifth Avenue New York NY 10011 US
email@example.com +1.2122065152 Fax- +1.2122065127
Created on..............: 2002-Aug-16.
Expires on..............: 2007-Aug-16.
Record last updated on..: 2005-Mar-01 11:33:32.
if you're one of the lucky ones it's Friday, March 04, 2005
Public Service Announcement
In 1951 the Walt Disney corporation in conjunction with Kleenex created an educational film entitled "How To Catch A Cold" which tried to explain the dos and don'ts of run of the mill viral infection. Of course the film included a strong reminder to use disposable facial tissues.
More recently there was a spate of Hepatitis A infections at "jam band" concerts across the country. One major spot was Asheville, NC where 10 people got sick. According to the Asheville Citizen-Times "Dwight Butner, owner of Vincenzo's in downtown Asheville, and president of the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association, hopes the outbreak won't affect tourism as foliage season approaches."
The CDC came to the rescue with research and prevention strategies for this outbreak include a poster tailored just for the specific population in question.
Of course the best prevention for both Hepatitis A and more pedestrian virii is washing your hands. Especially those of us who have spent some time in food service industry will be familiar with the mandatory signs posted in kitchens and washrooms frequently supplied by county health departments. But fewer people will be familiar with the work of John Lundgren, a junior high school english teacher who has made hand washing a crusade. He developed a detailed chart of preventable details which he sells for only $5.50 for the 11x17 laminated version. He claims to be "waiting for a giant corporation to ask to place their logo or message at the top of one of the charts for major distribution." Messr. Lundgren also did a little empirical research into the question of class and manual hygeine.
A former student of his also created a more graphically focused version of the concept which he offers for sale on t-shirts and messenger bags.
You are never lost with this handwashing articles information. We will bet you have felt lost in your search for handwashing articles information, after all the net can seem like a labyrinth of misinformation about handwashing articles. Well do not worry, sit back, have a coffee, relax because you have finally found a web site which can service your handwashing articles needs.
if you're one of the lucky ones it's Wednesday, March 02, 2005
The Death of the Dog
I'm not saying it's fair, but I've been thinking a lot about human rights in space, and in my space station, people would all be peaceful or I'd throw them out the air lock.
Shorty after the 19th anniversary of the launch of the MIR space station the man who tried to purchase and turn it into a commercial venture was indicted for tax fraud. Walter Anderson is charged with creating mutiple identities to avoid couging up the cash required by law.
Anderson had planned to use the space station for a number of uses including research and manufacturing, but lack of interest made tourism a more likely candidate. Mark Burnett of Survivor fame signed a contract to produce a show called Destination: Mir in which participants competed at a cosmonaut training facility to win a trip to the station.
Of course the first creature to reach space was not a human but a dog.
Laika was sent into space in 1957 by the USSR. But like Anderson, she carried her own secrets. In 2002 scientists revealed that Laika had not survived the trip into orbit. Laika had in fact died moments after take off, likely due to overheating, fear, and stress. She wouldn't have lived much longer if she had made it through the launch. Only 10 days worth of food and water were provided for Laika.
Laika was also not really her name. Laika (meaning 'barker') was chosen for it's easy of pronounciation by many people the world over. Her original name Kudryavka ('little Curly') was dropped to make her less of a mouthful.
The more time passes, the more I'm sorry about it. We shouldn't have done it... We did not learn enough from this mission to justify the death of the dog.
— Oleg Gazenko
if you're one of the lucky ones it's Tuesday, March 01, 2005
All The News That's Fit To......
Not to long ago the Chinese government announced it had cracked down on many 'illegal' internet cafes during the final months of 2004. There were a multitude of stories about the new and shocking news from the east. Most of them stuck to the facts and had a mildly superior tone befitting a journalist trying to be unbiased in a self-righteous manner. The BBC reported it thusly:
China net cafe culture crackdown
Chinese authorities closed 12,575 net cafes in the closing months of 2004, the country's government said.
According to the official news agency most of the net cafes were closed down because they were operating illegally.
Chinese net cafes operate under a set of strict guidelines and many of those most recently closed broke rules that limit how close they can be to schools.
The move is the latest in a series of steps the government has taken to crack down on "immoral net use".
Other news sources more closely connected to the Chinese government reported the story with a slightly different flair:
China shuts 50,000 illegal internet cafés
Saturday, February 26, 2005
[Technology News]: China has shut-down nearly 50,000 internet cafés last year, that were operating without a license.
The nationwide campaign was led by the State Industry and Commerce Administration.
By the end of last year, a total of 47,000 illegal internet cafe's had been closed.
However, the problem of illegal cyber cafes in small towns and the countryside's remains a problem.
Another problem is that some internet cafes are operating under the disguise of computer training schools, and some of the café's that had been shut down have re-opened.
But both of these approaches to the story miss the point. This is not a shocking new event. The Chinese government didn't suddenly spring this on the world. China has been systematically closing, restricting, and monitoring the inexpensive internet cafes for years, not to mention their general activity of restricting and monitoring internet traffic as a whole. In the People's Daily Online, a mouthpiece published by the Chinese government which "reflects the views of the Chinese people, expounds on justice and lambasts various forms of malpractice", had this to say over a year ago:
Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Sunday, October 26, 2003
Most Internet cafes in China to be chains in three years
The majority of local Internet cafes, currently exceeding 110,000 in the country, will be put under the management of large chain store companies within three years, as part of efforts by the Chinese government to rein in the fledgling and troublesome business.
In June 2002, some people set fire in a local Internet cafe, killing 25 and injuring 13, which triggered a crackdown on unlicensed operations. As a result, the number of Internet shops dropped from 200,000 to 110,000.
Less than 100 chain store operators will be set up in the future, to help regulate and standardize the sector.
Not all of the Internet cafes will be chains, but the government will issue relevant regulations to ensure the healthy operations of these individual shops, according to the official.
But of course we're all safe here in the US, where you can be assured of freedom:
At the public Library computer terminals
Using your computer at home
And if you're not sure - you can read up on it at lifeandliberty.gov.
Inappropriate Use of Goverment Tools
The Library of Congress provides us all with their handy tool dubbed Thomas. It allows you to search through proposed legislation and the congressional record from the capitol of our nation.
Submitted for your perusal is a series of 'excerpts' from some recent testimony:
BROADCAST DECENCY ENFORCEMENT ACT OF 2005 -- (House of Representatives - February 16, 2005)
...The gentleman from Texas (Mr. Barton) and the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Markey) each will control 30 minutes of debate on the bill.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Barton.)
Mr. BARTON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days within which to...extend their...extraneous material on H.R. 310.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Texas?
There was no objection.
Mr. BARTON of Texas. I yield myself...as I...consume.
Mr. Speaker, today the Energy and Commerce Committee brings its first major bill of the 109th Congress to the floor, H.R. 310, the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2005. This legislation makes great strides in making...the...unprecedented...level of disgust in the...public airwaves...at an all-time high.
...the FCC pushed the envelope..of...programming....It is a mere drop in the bucket, a slap on the wrist. This bill would raise the stakes by giving...$500,000 for an indecent broadcast....$500,000...gets people's attention.
The bill also takes the additional step to address the performers who may exploit the...need to hold...
The goal is...to..make...the... indecent...broadcast...a...license...to....take...the full...member...hard. It is... good...It is firm... Most importantly...I...strongly urge my colleagues to..consent...to..the gentleman from Texas...
There was no objection.
Mr. Speaker, I want...the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Barton)..handled in a...fashion...overwhelmingly...indecent...Again, ...with regard to the amount of money that..the gentleman from Texas..dedicated...to...my...member of...full...spirit...we are delighted that it is up on the floor as early as it is. A little bit more than a year ago, I introduced similar legislation that had all five FCC commissioners, Republican and Democrat, on board.... I...wanted...kids...to receive...the highest..level of expectation when a parent turns on the TV or the radio... A parent should not have to think twice about...a slap on the wrist, and that is exactly what this legislation does.
By significantly increasing...indecency, ...parents across the country can rest easy. With the passage of this legislation I am confident that ...disk jockeys...pushing that envelope...are...better off
Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong...tremendous...infamous...sickened and shocked...authority. As stewards of the public's...decency...there are still too many who continue to push the...children...
But for now, I will simply close...Mr. MARKEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentlewoman from Illinois (Ms. Schakowsky), a member of the committee.
Ms. SCHAKOWSKY. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time.
I rise in opposition to H.R. 310, the Broadcast Decency Act. While I acknowledge and appreciate that this...attempt...is both overreaching and off the mark and I urge my colleagues...embrace a solution that could cause more harm than good. I...would essentially...put Big Brother in charge of deciding what is art and what is free speech. If enacted, ...we will see self- and actual censorship reach new...heights. For instance, on Veterans Day of 2001 and 2002, ABC aired ... a movie about...those who...are considering..their heads, 66 ABC affiliates refused to run the show. They were afraid that the award-winning salute...would be deemed indecent. They were concerned that it might trigger at least...three...threats to our Constitution...Do we not want to have sensational performances...? Do we want a blanding down?
Additionally, ...our children...are inappropriate..., I...want...Big Brother making that decision for me....
If I could just say that I happen to be much more concerned about...Janet Jackson's nipple. I...say, let us get a grip...
Dads Get Their Day In The Sun
The website My Hero gives us a catalog of children's expository nuggets on their fathers' heroic qualities. Erick Emens of Laguna Beach, CA writes:
"My hero is my dad. When we were taking his engine out of his van we had it on an engine hoist and it was held up by a chain and he told me to move away from it. I moved back. When I stopped it fell on the ground and if he had not told me to move, it would have fallen on me and I would have been hurt. My dad will always help others and I will help them."
Notwithstanding the dangerous use of children's pictures, full names, and cities of residence there is a certain charm to the micro-sagas relayed by the children of their fathers' exploits.
But there is a deeper problem at hand. Despite the small and personally relative nature of the descriptions of heroism, it is still wrapped in the larger ideal of the perfect hero.
Strangly enough (not really) the term Hero comes from a source far removed from our currently male-focussed definition of the word. Today the meaning shapes the ideal of a perfect person, unable to do wrong, who is revered and to be emulated. But this definition leaves those who are intended to worship such people at a loss for many reasons.
No one is perfect and it is through the exploration of a myriad of postive and negative characteristics and actions within a context that defines a person as truly deserving some level of admiration and emulation. But by the same token it is more important to cultivate a level of critical analysis of people often refered to as heroic. What does it mean to have a person who has done good and evil? What is the formula one uses to evaluate their 'goodness'? Does it change? How important is the situation in which they performed their actions? How does our situation change our evaluation?
Take Hercules of Greek mythology. His non-biological mother attempted to kill him as a child. He had a great temper and killed his own young. He performed his much heralded feats in atonement for transgressions. Was Hercules a good or evil?
In modern retellings Hercules becomes quite a different character. A perfect gleaming nordic tan man of endless good and pleasantness. A Tribute To Hercules details in bland platitudes the overarching view of the modern Hercules interpretation.
I leave it to you dear reader - how does one stir the vigors and instill a sense of the possibility of good in all, truly see the complexity of others, and retell the tales of yore we as humans are so fond of doing?