Saturday, March 31, 2007

First of April, NY

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Slate’s Jack Shafer offers an April Fool’s Day defense kit, saying, “This year, don’t be taken for a sucker by the media.”

ReformNY, the blog of NYU's Brennan Center for Justice, smacks one out of the park with a post about Governor Spitzer's budget deal. Ed Dague posted about TV coverage on the Friday Before Budget Deadline.

Checking Sports, I found this Coach Will Brown post crafted by Sparky and Stu:

Let's see...stay in Albany, make about $175,000 per and be probably the fourth-highest paid coach in America East, or take $250,000 to coach in Olean. I'm figuring Will the Thrill tells Leroy Boy Is That You to take a hike, and packs up the wife and kid and heads to Bonaventure.and the next
coach of the Barkin' Dogs will be....ROB LANIER. Hey, you heard it here first,
Looks like S+S got this one wrong... but, hold that thought anyway...

And, in World News:
Lotta Holmström posts on Citizen Media Watch: Interesting piece by Daniel Terdiman on Cnet about Amanda Congdon’s refusal to live by journalistic rules/standards, even after starting working for ABC News.
there’s a bit of a kerfuffle going on right now in light of revelations that even as she has been producing stories for, she has also been performing in infomercials for DuPont, one of the largest companies in the world.
Congdon herself mocks or at least laughs at the whole thing in her blog.
ABC and HBO both approved the DuPont spots. And under the “blogger” title, which is what I am, hello? I am not subject to the “rules” traditional journalists have to follow.Isn’t that what new media is all about? Breaking the rules? Setting our own? I see nothing wrong with doing commercials, which is what they, quite transparently, are.
Lotta thinks Terdiman has a point when he sends a bit of advice Congdon’s way: (more)

NDAGHA (Victor Kaonga) has a unique post regarding Investigative Journalism in the Bible:

It never occured to me that the Bible has probably the best investigative reporting case study in Numbers 13. I have been amazed at how much noise we make today about Investigative Journalism as if it is something very new. There are interesting observations and lessons I have found in this Holy Book on a story where God asked Moses to commission an exploratory trip to Canaan, the promised land for the Israelites.

Young Americans (Invincibles)


In New York Magazine, David Amsden examines the "Young Invincibles", those post-collegiate, underemployed city dwellers who go without health insurance. This phenom is not limited to NYC by any measure. But what do you do? Live and enjoy your salary, or scrimp and limit your life so you can pay your premiums? We need a viable National Health Care System!

A new player in the mix is the HSA, Health Savings Account. As you will see when you read THIS POST and the comments that go along with it, a lot of people are CONFUSED about the HSA. Some have it mixed up with a Flexible Savings Account, which is pre-tax and you have to use it up in a year.

Anyone in a FAMILY situation probably can't afford that $2500 to $3500 annual deductible. It makes more sense to have old-style insurance coverage (with a $10-$25 co-pay) that foots 90% of your bill. Most families I know couldn't take a 35-hundred dollar hit. Let's be honest. In 2006, people don't save money the way they did in 1956. It's a crapshoot. Some are comfortable with HSA, some are not. What if Junior's appendix bursts? Or Susie has to have her tonsils removed? Or if they both need eyeglasses?

Now, wait a minute --- being young and single does NOT mean an HSA is a good idea:
"One of the drawbacks of the HSA is that you have to pay pretty much full-price on any of your prescription medications until your deductible is met. Since I have a monthly prescription (for which generic is not available), this has been pretty costly for me. Additionally, under my plan, vision exams are not covered - and, eek, I didn't realize this until I got a hefty bill from my eye doctor!"
It's a swarthy swarming can of worms, trying to figure this HSA stuff out. In many cases, you may find your monthly deduction from your paycheck $200 for a family HSA and $300 for an "old-school" health insurance plan. But suppose Junior has that appendectomy. You can't put it off, and that's $3000 YOU PAY FOR OUT OF POCKET. So your HSA is wiped out.
An increased reliance on HSAs could result in an increase in the number of uninsured Americans because they won't be able to afford plans with high deductibles. HSAs provide benefits almost exclusively to high-income individuals and big businesses. "The bottom line is that what the Bush administration calls reform is actually the opposite," Paul Krugman wrote. "Driven by an ideology at odds with reality, the administration wants to accentuate, not fix, what's wrong with America's health care system."
The administration's "consumer-driven health care" model would not fix our health care system's major problems, such as "rising costs and rising numbers of Americans without health insurance." Rather, healthy people will have greater incentive to get out of traditional plans, leaving the sick to pay higher premiums and possibly leading to more uninsured Americans as they decide to stop paying prohibitively-expensive premiums. As Uwe Reinhardt of Princeton University writes, "A wholesale switch to HSAs would redistribute the nation's overall financial burden of health care from the budgets of chronically healthy families to those of chronically ill families." Second, HSAs would not reduce costs. The theory behind the accounts assumes people are willing to shop between hospitals to find the lowest price for health care. But are people willing to do this? "No," Kaiser Permanente CEO George Halvorson said flatly, "we don't buy hospital care by the hour." Finally, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities found the "number of people who would lose coverage due to actions that their employers would take would likely exceed the number of uninsured people who would gain insurance." This is because most Americans are not in a high enough tax bracket to significantly benefit from the tax-free accounts. [Scatablog]
ANOTHER MISCONCEPTION: Your HSA is NOT like an IRA. Once you turn 65, you can withdraw the money for NON-medical expenses, but you'll be charged INCOME TAX if you do. Read up on this stuff! Don't jump off a bridge or anything...

• "Never has Johnny Rotten's prediction of 'No future for you,' seemed more accurate." [Honky-Tonk Dragon]

Friday, March 30, 2007

Double Standard: Tolerance Is A One-Way Street

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Pajamas Media Maven Michelle Malkin brings up a lulu of a question for the mainstreamers, following a day of heavy coverage of an anatomically correct "chocolate Jesus" that made the rounds on Fox, MSNBC, ABC and CNN. Speaking of CNN:


"CNN has chosen to not show the cartoons in respect for Islam."

"CNN is not showing the negative caricatures of the likeness of Prophet Mohammed because the network believes its role is to cover the events surrounding the publication of the cartoons while not unnecessarily adding fuel to the controversy itself."

Read Michelle's Entire Post

Here's one more: The Boston Globe, while acknowledging the right of newspapers to print material that may offend, argues that "newspapers ought to refrain from publishing offensive caricatures of Mohammed in the name of the ultimate Enlightenment value: tolerance."

"In the land of media dhimmitude, tolerance is a one-way street." - Michelle Malkin


Update: "Chocolate Jesus" has been cancelled. The "artist" is now whining about a "Catholic fatwa."


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BEYONCÉ and her mom, Tina Knowles, must be feeling like a million bucks - a Manhattan judge has thrown out a $1.5 million lawsuit against them. Greg Walker, CEO of Icon Entertainment, had charged that mother and daughter and Wear Me Apparel were stiffing him on his commission for brokering a $15 million deal for their House of Dereon clothing line, only paying him $110,000. Justice Herman Cahn sided with the sexy songstress, finding there was no evidence of a written contract.


When I first saw clips of Beyonce's video anthology, I knew "Freakum Dress" would be a standout. This is exactly the way La Knowles should be captured in video-- playful, sexy and bigger than life as she channels Mimi and Tyra.

"Freakum Dress" blatantly embraces Yawnsay's passionate gay fanbase. Check out the runway show. Dig the painted flankers in the beginning. Get into the rainbow lineup.


Caribbean Public Relations reports on Coca-Cola’s latest marketing concept for Caribbean teenagers - “a virtual city…called Caribbean Connection. The idea borrows from the Second Life concept, where you can go into the virtual world, interact with others, participate in activities, and create ‘a life’”.

Jordanian blogger Naseem Tarawneh decided to balance an egg on the day of the vernal equinox to prove the relevance of a Chinese legend. Needless to say, it didn’t work.

When The New Passes to Old

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There was a day when parents dreaded a visit to their town by a young musician named Frank Sinatra. Elvis Presley took it a step further a decade or two later. Then came The Beatles. Then that evil Barry McGuire. And those no-good hippy-dippy "Mamas and Papas." What comes around goes full circle. Case in point: Matt Drudge. Once a hero of New Media, the Internet Interloper has apparently drifted down main stream, as The Radio Equalizer attests:

Proving he has now become everything he had originally fought against, Matt used his syndicated talk radio show this week to blast Michelle Malkin and her Hot Air videoblogging venture:

Just ugh. The things I want to say right now. But we’ve got an FCC. The things I want to say. Maybe we’ll do, uh, uh, a commentary on the Internet like Michelle Malkin. Maybe I’ll stand in front of like a blue screen and hold a banana and start talking into the Internets.

(Sneering tone) ‘This is Matt Drudge reporting on Hot Air.’ Agggh. You know. It’s ridiculous. Looks like, you know, Captain Kangaroo time, Michelle. Get real.


We have entered an era vibrating with the din of small voices. Every citizen can be a reporter, can take on the powers that be. The difference between the Internet, television and radio, magazines, newspapers is the two-way communication. The Net gives as much voice to a 13-year-old computer geek like me as to a CEO or speaker of the House. We all become equal.

Particularly over the past year or so, Drudge has become increasingly vocal about his opposition to these emerging websites. This is the first time he has actually denounced a blogger in public, however.

With very few exceptions, Drudge refuses to link to bloggers on his website, even when the content in question is of great significance.

At Hot Air, meanwhile, Malkin responded with this:

“Get real?” Got whine?

We at Hot Air certainly don’t have the resources to look like the slicksters at CNN or the dinosaur networks. We don’t have multi-million dollar sets, graphics, and wardrobes like Katie Couric. We put substance first over bells and whistles. (You would think someone with a website design circa 1980 might appreciate our priorities.)

That said, folks in the broadcast industry have had nice words about our production values and I’m proud of what our team has accomplished in less than a year. In fact, we’ve had broadcast network engineers and producers ask us how we do it.


What’s it to you, Matt, if we bring our little “banana” microphones and cameras to Baghdad or CPAC or the Doolittle Raiders reunion or the local illegal alien hangout or the Gathering of Eagles (which barely rated a blip on the almighty Drudge radar screen)? What’s it to you if authors find it worth their time to sit down with us for Internet broadcast interviews? Why does it bother you so?

What’s it to you, Matt, if my fellow hosts and I spend our time standing in front of a green screen in our basement studio so we can practice the very kind of Internet citizen journalism you once preached yourself?

Remember when Matt was a hard- working and fearless investigator who regularly broke major news stories? That was a long time ago. Now, Drudge himself has confirmed he's a card- carrying member of the old- line mainstream media.

Hey Matt, remember the way they treated you? Why become one of them?

And given this personal transformation, how relevant is Drudge to talk radio today? Is it time to rethink the syndicated weekend show? Are his listeners really tuning in to hear personal attacks against those he sees as a threat to his business?

Sounds like the real bag of Hot Air is Drudge!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

First Glimpse of the Harry Potter 7 Cover


The Guardian's Michelle Pauli has the inside scoop on what HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS will look like from a cover standpoint:

The children's cover for Bloomsbury in Britain is by Jason Cockroft, who illustrated the previous two books, and features Harry, Ron and Hermione leaping out of a circle of gold, surrounded by treasure. Harry himself looks almost unrecognisably grown-up - although the trademark specs remain - and all the intrepid cloak-clad trio look shocked and have cuts and bruises on their arms. The inside front cover features a stag, while the inside back cover has an illustration of a snake inside a silver orb. The adult edition cover pictures a locket, believed to belong to Slytherin.

The artwork for the American edition was created by Mary Grandpre, the illustrator of all six previous US editions and shows Harry, arm outstretched, against a background of red and gold. The cover is a wraparound and, when opened, features an image of Voldemort's glowing red eyes peering out from beneath his hood.

The book will be released at one minute past midnight on July 21 and sales are expected to eclipse the record-breaking sales achieved by the last volume, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, in July 2005. On that occasion, WH Smith said it sold 13 copies a second on the day of publication while Tesco said it had sold 400,000 copies in the first 24 hours.

(pre-order it today!)

Historia de maltratos en caso salvadoreña desaparecida

RIP: Deysi Benitez Confrimed DEAD (3 April 08)

Tags: , NEW POST April 10, 2007
Original posts in this series [1] [2] [3] [4]

Police Drag Pond Near Murdered Kids' Home; Still No Sign Of Mom

Frederick (Maryland)police are among the many awaiting answers as to the whereabouts of a mother of four and how her children and husband died.

At about 3 p.m., Monday, Frederick Police Department officers responded to a home on Danielle Drive near McCain Drive off Frederick’s Golden Mile. There, they discovered 28-year-old Pedro Rodriguez, who had hung himself from a second-floor banister, according to Frederick police Lt. Thomas V. Chase.

Officers also found the bodies of four Rodriguez siblings, identified as: Elsa, 9, a third-grade student at Hillcrest Elementary School; Vanessa, 4, enrolled in Hillcrest’s pre-kindergarten program; Angel, also known as Pedro, 3; and Carena, 1.

The children were all found tucked into beds at the townhouse, according to police; a note has yet to be located at the home. Chase said police believe all five bodies were in the home for several days prior to their discovery.

Post-mortem examinations of all five bodies were conducted at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore on Tuesday.

Chase said that all five examinations are ‘‘pending,” with more toxicology studies required for conclusive determinations. He said that status rules out stabbing or shooting as possible causes of death for the children.

Police continue to search for the children’s mother, 25-year-old Deysi Marlene Benitez, whom they have classified as a missing person.
Some of the reports indicate the husband did, in fact, hang himself. Here is the story as reported in El Salvador:

Se desconoce el paradero de la salvadoreña Daysi Benítez, cuyos hijos fueron hallados muertos en la casa de la familia junto al cuerpo del padre

San Salvador. Una historia de maltratos, golpes y amenazas, rodeaban la vida de Daysi Benítez, la mujer salvadoreña cuyos cuatro hijos fueron hallados muertos en la casa de la familia junto al cuerpo del padre, según relató su hermana Angela que ahora está angustiada por su paradero.

Al recibir la llamada telefónica de la AP, Angela esperaba noticias de Daysi y por momentos se callaba, pero luego de una pausa reveló que "ella tenía problemas con (su marido) Pedro y me había dicho que le pidió que se separaran, pero él le dijo que no permitía eso".

"La golpeó, yo no la vi, pero ella me llamó y me dijo que la había dejado monstruo de la cara, que por milagro de Dios no la mató. Yo llamé a otra amiga de mi hermana, (y) me dijo: si usted la viera!. Eso fue en diciembre, por allí, del año pasado", agregó.

Angela, dos años mayor que Daysi, relató que las dos familias son originarias de caseríos vecinos de la jurisdicción de Sensuntepeque, en el departamento de Cabañas, a unos 105 kilómetros al noreste de la capital.

Pedro habría emigrado a Estados Unidos en 1998 y Daysi en el 2001, según su hermana.

Angela relató que ambos habían adquirido una vivienda que estaban pagando y que "les tocaba fregado, ella trabajaba de noche y él de día.

La pareja se había acogido al Estado de Protección Temporal, TPS, por sus siglas en inglés. Los tres niños menores nacieron en Estados Unidos y la mayor en El Salvador.

La cónsul general de El Salvador en Washington, Ana Margarita Chávez, dijo a la AP que se desconoce el paradero de Benítez. "El carro de Daysi está aparcado frente a la casa y no sabemos nada, sus amigos y su familiares están muy preocupados", señaló.

Angela dijo que la última vez que se comunicó con su hermana, "ella habló bien tranquila, no me dijo nada, lo que fue nada y allí estaba él (Pedro)". Eso ocurrió el 16 de marzo.

Narró que la semana siguiente estuvo llamando por teléfono a la casa de su hermana y nadie atendió. "La ultima vez que platique con ellas fue el viernes 16 y no sabemos nada".

"Hoy que de sorpresa me llamaron para decirme que estaba desaparecida... la única información que tengo es que no la encuentran", señaló.

Los padres de Pedro, don José Pedro Rodríguez y su esposa Rosa de Rodríguez, ya habrían sido informados de lo ocurrido por el consulado salvadoreño en Washington.

Silveroo’s Guidelines to Job Hunting in Bahrain

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Here's a clever post from $iLveR GiRL, who describes herself as "An edgy, simple Bahraini girl who likes things and people that are positively out of the ordinary."

تخيلوا لو أصدرت حقاً كتاباً مثل الكتاب أعلاه؟أفترض أن يكون من أكثر الإصدارات مبيعاً، بالطبع لا لأنني من كتبه، ولكن لأن التائهين والمتوهقين كُثر.لا أزعم أن هناك وصفات ذهبية لضمان الحصول على عمل في بلد العجائب (ما قصرتين SillyBahrainiGirl.. حتى ترجمة المصطلح حليوة)، فمشاكل سوق العمل والفساد الإداري والوظيفي أكبر من أن تجعل لأي وصفة مفعول مضمون ولو طُبقت حرفياً، واللي فيه خير ينكر الظلم الجائر الدائر في المؤسسات بفرعيها الخاص والحكومي.ولكن من باب تعميم الخير وتبادل الخبرات، أشارككم خلاصة تجربتي في البحث عن وظيفة في البحرين، صغتها على هيئة خطوط إرشادية عريضة لعلها تساعد المقبلين على مثل هذا التحدي في خوض التجربة.

“Imagine if I really published the book you see here. I assume it would be a best-seller. Of course, that is not because I have written it but because those who are lost and confused are a lot. I don’t claim there are magic solutions to guarantee finding a job in Wonderland (Thank you Silly Bahraini Girl, even translating the name sounds nice) because problems in the jobs market and administrative corruption are bigger than ensuring that any tip could have the expected result, even if applied to the letter. And I challenge those who are up to it to deny the gross injustice found in organisations, both in the public and private sectors. In order to spread goodness and exchange expertise, I would like to share with you my experiences in looking for a job in Bahrain. I have posted them in the form of guidelines which will hopefully help those about to take the challenge and enter this experience (of looking for a job),” she explains.

Global Voices Reports on Iran

Tags: , , Middle East & North Africa, Iran, Weblog, Economics, Environment, Governance, Human Rights, Labor, International Relations

Iran has been dominating the news with the hostage stand-off: The excellent international weblog "catalogue" known as Global Voices turns the spotlight on Iran, first linking with Paris Marashi, an Iranian-American video-blogger who has launched a project that aims to bring Iranian medical professionals in contact with their colleagues around the world.

Writing in the weblog Sounds Iranian Paris describes her project, Iran Medical Research Connect, as a community-building web portal that will connect medical professionals from Iran and from around the world.

She says the objective is to help medical educators, professionals, and researchers to share papers, learn about projects and events, and to connect Iranian and non-Iranian medical professionals around the world.

Global Voices goes on to connect readers to Algerian blogger Nouri, linking to an article which sums up his thoughts on Iran’s conflict with the West. Commentary here.

Qatar-based blogger Kareem links to an article which announces the 3rd Annual Forum, entitled Media and the Middle East: Going Beyond the Headlines, being hosted by Al Jazeera at the Sheraton Doha and Convention Resort from March 31 to April 2, in Qatar. Sessions in this year’s forum will explore the growing influence of politics on media and vice versa, media credibility in times of conflict, the role of media in building bridges or walls, and case studies from the Middle East and Africa on the practical aspects of ‘deep reporting’.

Bono to lead singers 'for the poor' at G8 summit

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U2 lead singer Bono will be heading a group of artists as they perform an alternative programme at the Group of Eight (G8) Summit, concert organisers have announced.

With the slogan Your Voice against Poverty, Bono and German singer-song writer Herbert Gronemeyer will hold the concert in Rostock, near Heiligendamm, on June 7.

Heads of State and government of Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, US, Canada, Japan, and Russia will attend the summit to be held in Rostock city from June 6 to 8.

Bono was honoured earlier this month at the 38th NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People) Image Awards for his contribution to the fight against Aids and global poverty.

The NAACP and The ONE Campaign announced an unprecedented new alliance at the awards, joining together for the first time in a life-saving partnership in the fight against global Aids and extreme poverty in Africa and the world’s poorest countries.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Around The Blogosphere 28 March 07


I'm not really up on my astrology but I can't help but wonder what the heck is going on today...
Patroons coach Micheal Ray Richardson has been suspended for the rest of the Continental Basktball Association championship series for comments he made to the Times Union. Richardson made derogatory remarks about Jews and made a slur against homosexuals on Tuesday. The team said he is suspended "due to the serious allegations in this morning's Times Union article by Brian Ettkin."

A Skidmore College staff member resigned after generating national attention by reporting a Florida bus driver whose ethnic jokes targeted Muslims.

From Dallas Penn: BARRINGTON IRVING, a 23yr old aerospace student from Jamaica is preparing to circumnavigate the globe in a single engine plane that he built from donated parts.

Dallas writes: "To be young, gifted and Black. I can just imagine the young Mr.IRVING rummaging through the Trenchtown junkyards, cobbling his plane together from discarded BMW parts and empty soup cans."

Daddy D blogs that there "apparently just aren't that many African-Americans on the air in upstate New York."

Nicolette Bethel sees stunning parallels between a young black American filmmaker’s documentary about race and the image that Bahamian children have of themselves 200 years
after the abolition of the slave trade.

Blog de Moi[Fr]: “I am not sure that young women of today are fully aware of what they owe an author such as Simone de Beauvoir and to feminism in general given how hard some of them work to distance themselves from it.”

Get to know the faces of Ecuadorean bloggers with this hyperlink captioned photo from the last “Blogs&Beers” in Quito.

The horrors of making millions
Rick Morrissey: "Being forced to accept $7.2 million is like serving concurrent life sentences."

More to Read: racism and the slavery mentality
BBC: The support for a blogger hounded by death threats has intensified with some high profile web experts calling for a code of conduct in the blogosphere.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Disconnect & Re-connect: Come, Join My Religion

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I'm not sure how it got into my posession. It's a little hardcover book, the size of a paperback. It's entitled "Mankind's Search For God." It's one of those Jehovah's Witnesses propaganda recruiting tools, beckoning readers to join, but it contains much in the way of interesting information and photographs. It's like zooming out - way out - of the program you're working in and seeing an overall, much bigger picture. I've always been fascinated by the concept of religion and by mankind's desire to give thanks, channel hope and recognize something larger at work in the Grand Scheme--- whatever that grand scheme may be.

There's something "new" in the mix, which may explain that certain "something" that exists deep within the core of our collective "desire to believe."

Tufts University Philosopher Daniel Dennett theorizes beliefs are like genes or viruses with their own evolutionary history: "Can mankind's age-old belief in God be explained as a stubbornly recurring natural phenomenon?" Fellow atheist and biologist Richard Dawkins in the early 1970s first proposed this idea, calling such ideas "memes."

In his book, "Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon," Dennett calls for a scientific study of the incidence of religion, based on the concept that certain ideas -- religion among them -- are "memes" that successfully perpetuate themselves across generations for their own sake, not the good of their hosts.

He wondered if there might be a genetic or other natural explanation for why some people are deeply moved by a religious ritual or service, while others have tin ears.

"Could there be a genetic basis for this?" Dennett asked. Dennett's basic argument is that some ideas – including religion – are like genes or viruses with their own evolutionary history. They jump from generation to generation. Weak ones die; strong ones survive.

Consider that Christianity, Islam and Judaism have endured for thousands of years, Dennett said.

"They can't all be true," he said. "So if your religion has survived because it is true, the other religions that are robust and well today have survived for other reasons."

Note: Here is where Dennett and I part company: I think that there is "something" that ties these three "core" religions together. A college classmate once wrote a report arguing that the "angel" who appeared in the dream warning Mary and Joseph to flee Bethlehem was the same being who dictated the Qur'an to Muhammad.

Aside: Isn't it interesting how we know who these people are and have an idea or mental picture regarding their life-style circumstances? The above "Note" would take a day and a half to explain to, someone who had grown up and been educated totally outside of our contemporary beleief systems.

Dennett himself says "No religion should be favored, and none ignored." He advocates "Freedom of Choice."
"How much more freedom could one want? The freedom to lie to your children? The freedom to keep them ignorant? You don’t own your children, like slaves, and you have no right to disable them with ignorance. You do have an obligation to let them have the mutual knowledge that is available to every other child, as a normal part of growing up in a free society." - from "Teach Our Children Well"
Some people are able to go thorugh their entire lives, satisfied with the religious beliefs and traditions passed down from their parents. Others challenge themselves while still others struggle to find comfort within their belief system. So, is Bennett right? Is there a "genetic memory" at work here? Is it much deeper than that? Is it something that we cannot understand, or something that in time, we will understand?

Working Poor

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Hmmmm... the young couple was from El Salvador, didn't speak English, worked at low-paying jobs... so, how DID they pay for that house? The search for Daysi is about to go INTERNATIONAL...

FREDERICK, Md. — Police were searching for a motive in the deaths of four young children whose remains were found in the family's townhouse Monday afternoon along with the hanged body of their father. The children's mother was missing and police said Tuesday they were concerned for her well-being.

"We are doing everything we can to try to locate her and of course, first and foremost to verify that she's OK," Frederick police spokesman Lt. Thomas Chase said.

The children — girls ages 9, 4 and 1, and a 3-year-old boy — were found in beds beneath sheets and blankets that were pulled over their heads. The cause of their deaths was not known; autopsies were set for Tuesday in Baltimore.

Their father, Pedro Rodriguez, 28, was found hanging by a yellow nylon rope from a second-floor bannister, Chase said.

The children's mother, Daysi M. Benitez, 25, also lived in the townhouse but she hadn't been seen by neighbors and co-workers at a local restaurant for about a week and a half, Chase said.

Chase said police don't have any suspects in the deaths of the children. When asked if they believe the father killed them, he said that was a theory they were pursuing.

"You've got four dead people, and a guy that hung himself. That leads you to one possibility," he said.

The bodies were discovered after a Hillcrest Elementary School community liaison concerned about the two oldest children's' absence from school for several days called police, authorities said. Officers entered through an unlocked ground-floor window Monday afternoon and found the bodies in different rooms of the three-bedroom home.

"It was not like them to miss school," said Marita Loose, a Frederick County schools spokeswoman.

Jose Lopez, 34, said he had rented a room in the townhouse for about two months a year and a half ago. When he lived with them, the couple seemed happy, he said.

Real-estate records show that Rodriguez and a Deysi M. Benitez bought the home in August 2005 for $195,900. Chase said the different spelling of Benitez's first name in a police press release came from police records.

The family had emigrated from El Salvador to the United States, police said.

Police had been called to the townhouse three or four times in the past six months, neighbor Nathaniel Harris said.

"Everyone in the neighborhood is shocked," Harris said. "This is a nice area."

Another neighbor, Rebecca Reckley, said Rodriguez worked at a Toys R Us distribution center in Frederick and Benitez worked at an Outback Steakhouse. She worked nights and he worked days, she said. However, Kathleen Waugh, a spokeswoman for Toys R Us said they have no record of Rodriguez working for their company.

"He just seemed like an awfully nice man," she said. "He just seemed to really care about his children, so you can't fathom something like this would happen."

Lopez said that when he lived with the family, Rodriguez had a second job at a Uno Chicago Grill restaurant.

Managers at Outback and Pizzeria Uno refused to comment.

Frederick is about 50 miles northwest of Washington.


Being a reporter, I realize how difficult it can be to try to reduce a story down to fit whatever time constraints management calls for. Rene Marsh did a magnificent job reporting on David Paterson. She got up-close, personal and had fun with our Lt. Governor. You did a great job, Rene! Too bad we couldn't see an "extended version" of the interview. I understand WNYT recently did a similar interview, which I'm sorry I missed. I wouldn't have caught WRGB's story had they not aired promos for it: Channel 6 would do much better airing promos similar to the one for Rene's piece instead of those irritating ones where thay ask someone a question and leave the viewer hanging, only to find some dumb answer when you tune back in at 6 or 11 to watch the report. It makes the anchors look stupid, IMHO. WRGB has a good pair of reporters in Michelle and Rene Marsh: they're very focused and definitely high-caliber! I read somewhere where Jack Aernecke is retiring this summer... 6 is fortunate to have the Marsh sisters on board! You can just sense that they're "into" the newsbeat!
Excerpted from the Original Post:
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Channel 6 has an interesting piece scheduled to air tonight. You might want to catch it. WRGB sent a reporter to spend a day with New York Lt. Gov. David Paterson. Now THAT must have been a great assignment! Paterson, who is legally blind, is also nationally recognized as a leading advocate for the visually and physically impaired. Paterson lives in Harlem with his wife, Michelle, and their two children, Ashley and Alex, and he is the son of Basil Paterson, the first non-white secretary of state of New York and the first African-American vice-chair of the national Democratic Party.

Coming Up

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Channel 6 has an interesting piece scheduled to air tonight. You might want to catch it. WRGB sent a reporter to spend a day with New York Lt. Gov. David Paterson. Now THAT must have been a great assignment! Paterson, who is legally blind, is also nationally recognized as a leading advocate for the visually and physically impaired. Paterson lives in Harlem with his wife, Michelle, and their two children, Ashley and Alex, and he is the son of Basil Paterson, the first non-white secretary of state of New York and the first African-American vice-chair of the national Democratic Party.

Speaking of politics, Upstate Blue blogs about a possible rematch in the 45th State Senate District.

I woke up this morning craving for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, something I rarely have for lunch, and never, in the last 10 years can recall having at breakfast. I didn't blog at all yesterday. I had all I could do to just get through the day. It was one of those Mondays when you just don't want to drag yourself out of bed. I hate those days and always force myself to get up, get going and run through the day. Luckily, I had to go to work, so once there it was easy to keep the momentum going. When I arrived back home after 5pm, that was it. Quick dinner. Crash on the couch. I awakened at 10 and moved snoozing activities over to the bed. Maybe all I needed was a deep, sound sleep. I had one of those "toss and turn" episodes both Saturday and Sunday nights.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Dylan Faker Hears Attorneys


If you didn't get the chance to listen to (or better yet download) the mock album "Dylan Hears A Who" your chance may be gone forever, as Dr. Seuss has shut the parody site down. Anybody who uploads, downloads, posts or otherwise finds the tunes go ahead and leave the info in either my haloscan or blog*spot comments!

Silent Spring?

There's been a flurry of recent media coverage, in which scientists and beekeepers have been sounding the alarm over a mystery malady that appears to be killing bees in at least 22 states throughout the country, as well as Canada.

Dubbed "colony collapse disorder," or CCD, it's been blamed for a dramatic decline in bee populations, with some commercial beekeepers reporting declines in their colonies anywhere from 50-90 percent, according to the Working Group on CCD, a recently established research group at Penn State University.

Millions of bees have simply vanished. In most cases, all that's left in the hives are the doomed offspring. But dead bees are nowhere to be found -- neither in nor anywhere close to the hives.

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As the end of the ancient calendar (2012) draws near, one may wonder how much time man has left on this planet. Is there a possible connection between genetic engineering and diseases in bees? If so, our fate is sealed. Since November, the US has seen a decline in bee populations so dramatic ( "colony collapse disorder," or CCD ) it eclipses all previous incidences of mass mortality. It's like the "bee version" of HIV/AIDS. Beekeepers on the east coast complain they've lost more than 70 percent of their stock since late last year, while the west coast has seen a decline of up to 60 percent.

In an article in its business section in late February, the New York Times calculated the damage US agriculture would suffer if bees died out. Experts at Cornell University in upstate New York have estimated the value bees generate -- by pollinating fruit and vegetable plants, almond trees and animal feed like clover -- at more than $14 billion.

No one knows what's causing CCD, which is marked by a disappearance from colonies of adult bees, but virtually no buildup of the dead, according to a description of the disease on the Working Group on CCD website. Scientists are surprised that bees and other insects usually leave the abandoned hives untouched. Nearby bee populations or parasites would normally raid the honey and pollen stores of colonies that have died for other reasons, such as excessive winter cold.

Some experts believe that the large-scale use of genetically modified plants in the US could be a factor. The consequences for agriculture and the economy could be enormous.

Ian Gilfillan reacts to a report by Greenspeace that genetically modified maize may be toxic, “Since maize is a staple diet in South Africa, especially for poor communities, it’s long been a concern that South Africa’s poor has been experimented on in this way, as in most countries, GMO foods are niche foods, not a staple.”

At the moment, the question is when, as in what year--- 2008, 9, 10 , 11 --- will "Silent Spring" appear. Beekeepers in the weeks to come will be monitoring their hives to see what happens as spring arrives.

See Also: Silent Spring study guide, including 87 pages of chapter summaries, essays, quotes, and more.
The CBS Report That Helped 'Silent Spring' Be Heard

VTE: Video Trigger Effect

Video is powerful. Take the 101-year old New York City woman who was assaulted, punched by a mugger. Or the 1984 Hillary video from the Obama camp. No matter who you are, watching either of those videos has an effect on you. Imagine how Arabs might feel watching THIS video.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Write, Blog, Twitter

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Dualistic Perspective:

Most people believe that when the body is destroyed, the soul lives on. It might ascend to heaven, or descend to hell, go off into some sort of parallel world, or occupy some other body, human or animal. Even those of us who do not hold such views have no problems understanding them. But they are only coherent if we see people as separate from their bodies.

Our dualistic perspective also affects how we think about such moral and political issues as stem-cell research, abortion, animal rights, and cloning. These are complicated issues, but the way people tend to address them—often explicitly, but always implicitly—is in terms of the question: Does it have a soul? If so, then the being in question is worthy of protection, a precious individual. If not, it is a mere thing.
The entire piece is entitled "NATURAL-BORN DUALISTS - A Talk with Paul Bloom." There's video as well. Your thoughts?

Sexual Perspective:

I recently purchased Journal sexuel d'une jeune Chinoise sur le Net (Paperback)
by Mu Zimei from which is essentially posts from her old blog translated from Chinese to French.

"I live a very contented life. I have a job that can make me look very busy, and as in my spare time, I have a very humanizing hobby: making love.

I can choose a partner, I can replace him, and there's ample resources out there. I don’t need to feel any responsibility towards them, nor do I need to spend any emotion. So, they can't disturb me. Like a cd, if I want to listen to it, then I will. If not, then not a note is played.

One guy from Beijing put it to me this way: There's no shortage of people to sleep with. But he also sometimes says. In drought, you die of thirst, in a downpour, you drown. To take this metaphor, I am a subsidy for times of drought. On this point I pride myself."
English translations of Sex Diary

Sex blogger breaks Chinese sound barrier (Telegraph UK, Oct. 2005)

Sex, lies and surveys: Point is, is there a point? (China Daily, Dec. 2005)

Soyapi Mumba posts today on "The Potential of Twitter in Africa " - this is a really useful article which will help you to understand and appreciate Twitter's powers:

So the launching of Twitter provides a good alternative considering that the use of mobile phones is much higher than that of computers. In Malawi for example, there are about 50,000 Internet users against about 700,000 mobile phone users out of a population of about 12 million. Twitter allows users to post a small update via SMS, instant messaging client and the web. Anyone who chooses to follow you will get that update on the Twitter home page, or their mobile phone of they choose to. Unlike most mobile phone web services, you can update via SMS from anywhere in the world and from virtually any handset.Although Twitter was designed to let users announce what they're doing at the time of posting, we have already seen other uses coming up. The train system in San Fransisco (BART) uses Twitter to announce changes in schedules; conference participants use it to post notes of the sessions at the conference and there are updates from news companies like BBC via Twitter.

Go to Twitter and see how others are using it or to TwitterVision for an interesting visual presentation. I'm testing some of these ideas at live from Lilongwe, Malawi.

Run Tell The Folks Along Canal Street

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Alexa writes about name brand knock-offs in Mongolia, speculating that perhaps their popularity will build brand loyalty that will lead to success for genuine articles in the future:
All of the DVD stores sell DVDs fake from China, all of the legit clothing stores sell fake Abercrombie clothes and fake Diesel jeans. There are no 'real' items here. Or maybe they're all real; who knows. I have an Abercrombie sweatshirt I got here that's exactly the same (as far as I can tell) as one they're selling on the Abercrombie website for around $150 dollars. Mine's made in Macau, and, conceivably, the real one's are too. After all, when these companies are having everything made in China, or wherever it's cheap in Asia, what's the difference between a real Abercrombie sweatshirt and a fake one?I
can't even imagine trying to explain to my student that people in America might
pay over $1000 for jeans that look exactly the same as hers.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Electronic Jihad

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Feeling the heat: Soccer Mom: Unplugged blogs:
"It is clear that the info we sent to Amanda has been sanitized and smacks of lawyerese. Amanda emailed each of us fearing that the paper would be sued for libel and asked if we would be willing to testify about what we knew. Without hesitation I offered an affirmative response. However, the flash to bang time between her email requesting that we all verify willingness to testify and close of business Friday, when she handed her article over the paper, was so short that I do not know if she got replies from each of us in time. Either way, this goes to another issue about the litigious nature of our society when papers refuse to print the truth for fear of being sued. Since I already posted what I thought should happen to Lover of Angels, I won't go into that again, but suffice it to say that this is not a personal vendetta of any sort. The fact is that the best weapon we have in any war is information. Wolves in sheep's clothing are more of a problem than AK-47s. Only when we see our enemy clearly can we successfully engage.
Looks like Soccer Mom is involved in a big brouhaha of Biblical proportions on the bloghi platform. Here's the article from the Cleveland paper:

Jihadist's trail may lead to KSU
Bloggers link chilling posts to professor
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Amanda Garrett
Plain Dealer Reporter

The retired U.S. Navy man never intended to leave his e-mail address behind when he posted a message about his Christianity two years ago on a jihadist's blog. Yet, when the jihadist - using a Kent State University e-mail address - wrote back citing a Bible verse, the Navy man was intrigued. "I am fighting to save the life of my people, as you are yours," the jihadist said. "My weapon is faith, as is yours."

In the days that followed, the Navy man and the jihadist politely debated online until the jihadist left a chilling post about sleeper cells: "Who knows when the next martyrdom operation might be coming to your town? I do."
The Navy man was shaken. He figured the jihadist must be a student, but a trail of e-mails and computer tracking - recently shared with The Plain Dealer by the Navy man and four others - appeared to lead to Kent State University professor Julio Pino, a Cuban immigrant who converted to Islam in 2000. [Read the Entire Article]
Another storm has taken over Bahrain’s cyberspace this week – a debate about a branch of the American chain Hooters, known for its scantily clad waitresses, being opened in Dubai. According to Mahmood: "The issue…is the continuing disappearance of the Arab and Muslim culture from that thriving city, a fact which has been quite evident for some time. If they understand and appreciate this state of affairs, then all power to them. I hope they make their residents and visitors happy. But is there space for both to coexist?"

Mahmood’s visitors have focused more on whether Hooters per se is degrading to women everywhere. One of them, Zara, decided to state her position on her own blog, listing her objections: "I would never advocate banning Hooters as a means to challenge the problems it perpetuates. But challenging what Hooters stands for and whether or not it is acceptable, for me is part of the wider struggle for women’s rights, human rights, and dignity, and against sexism and economic exploitation."

Egyptian blogger Zeinobia puts in her two cents on what she thinks of the list of speakers who attended a conference on Secular Islam in Florida: “I don’t know how the organizers of the Summit of were thinking, it seems that they chose all the outcasted and hated personalities from intellectual secularists across the Muslim world and those who got nothing to do in their miserable life except to write down books blaming Islam for all the tragedies in their lives to be in the international spot light.”

Iraqi blogger Ladybird links to a video showing “US soldiers shooting on every thing that moves including civilians.” Iraqi blogger Omar, who writes the award winning blog Iraq The Model, writes about the future of an Islamic state in Iraq.

Blogger Issandr Al Amrani links to a BBC documentary on the child slaves of Saudi Arabia here.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A new English-language interpretation of the Muslim Holy book the Koran challenges the use of words that feminists say have been used to justify the abuse of Islamic women.

The new version, translated by an Iranian-American, will be published in April and comes after Muslim feminists from around the world gathered in New York last November and vowed to create the first women's council to interpret the Koran and make the religion more friendly toward women.

In the new book, Dr. Laleh Bakhtiar, a former lecturer on Islam at the University of Chicago, challenges the translation of the Arab word "idrib," traditionally translated as "beat," which feminists say has been used to justify abuse of women. [read the complete article]

Give The Guy A Try...


It's been done. Xiaxue. Izzy. Happy Slip. It's easier for a girl to do it than a guy, but there's one guy who is really trying hard to become a celebrity on a non-existent budget. He calls himself The Famous Guy.

My Age:33

My Occupation:Holiday Popcorn Tin Delivery Guy

My Vehicle Of Choice Circumstance: Cargo Van

My Hometown:Dallas, Texas

My Hobbies:Watching Dallas Cowboys, Mavericks and Stars games

My Favorite Food:Soy Cheese Pizza

My Greatest Accomplishment: Making the Little League All-Star baseball team when I was 11 years old

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Serious Bloggers Take Blogging Seriously

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Mike Abundo posts about Christine Gambino, a Filipina nursing student in the U.S. Gambito is giving up her nursing career to pursue her online career:

Speaking from Revver headquarters, fresh from a speaking engagement on the future of video,
Filipina comedienne Christine “
Happy Slip” Gambito declares she’s going into online video
production full-time — after only six months in the business, without a production team. With one
fell swoop, Christine has singlehandedly begun the viral transformation of the Filipina global image: from lowly-paid nurse to social media maven. The only reason more Filipinas aren’t making money
through online video, is Revver pays through PayPal — and
PayPal doesn’t send money to the Philippines
If you're wondering about the future of TV and how free online tools such as YouTube are empowering ordinary people, then check out Happy Slip/Christine's hilarious video clips. Christine is a bona fide YouTube star, with 400,000+ channel views and 10,000+ subscribers. She ranks 35th among in YouTube's Most Subscribed (All Time,) and #26 Most Subscribed (All Time) -- Directors.

Brands go social to reach teen influencers (another piece on using social networks to spread the word - many will try few will succeed) (The Times UK)

Cyberbullying is global (cell phones are "WMDs" in Japan)

Dubai-based blogger Dubaiwalla visited NYC, where he clicked a lot of photographs which he posted here.

Chayyei Sarah is excited her article on Judaism and superstition has been published.

Israeli blogger Desert Peace links to a story about the killing of a Bedouin shepherdess. “It’s open season on the Bedouin these days…. either their homes are demolished by the IDF .. or their children are shot for ‘trespassing’,” he writes.

Melissa de Leon reminds readers that “in Panama and the rest of Latin America, Holy Week and Lent are among the most important dates on the calendar.” Here’s a great introduction to the importance of Holy Week in Latin America along with some tasty recommendations for what to cook.

Cuba and Coffee - explores the cultural significance of this seductive drink.

Morning 3.22.07 Post

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One of Campaign Obama's people did it! ABC news reporting :

The presidential campaign of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., was rocked by revelations Wednesday night that one of its contracted employees was the creator of a scathing YouTube video against his opponent Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., despite Obama's insistance that he had nothing to do with it.

Phil de Vellis, until Wednesday an employee of the company that handles Obama's Web site, boasted in a posting on the Huffington Post that he made the ad, though he claimed neither the Obama campaign nor his former employer, Blue State Digital — which does software development and hosting for Obama's campaign — was aware that he had.

Ben presents 10 Ways College Students can Save Money on Spring Break posted at Money Smart Life. These tips are great for anyone planning a vacation. Sagar Satapathy presents Live without Credit Cards: 77 Tips posted at Credit Card Lowdown. Some people are able to boastblog: MY LIFE IS PERFECT! XiaXue is one of them...

A virtual gold mine awaits online marketers in the health care sector--if they effectively reach seniors ages 50 and up, according to findings from a new study conducted by media agency GroupM and research firm Millward Brown. - Read the whole story...

Jeremy Goldkorn reported that many foreign blog providers have been blocked in the past few weeks. Blogspot is blocked again. Hmmm... I noticed my hits from China were way down...

Where are you, buddy? (AIM will let you find out by offering "new capabilities to see where people on their buddy lists are physically located" - parents will be all over this) (AP via MSNBC)

Despite the talk surrounding the eBay Media Marketplace, the proposed online system for buying and selling TV time is better off DOA, according to four top buyers and sellers. - Read the whole story...

Light Within on the authenticity of the Black Madonna in various cultures. “Believe it or not — she is black! Her features, in most instances, are non-European! And ironically, most of these images are located in Catholic churches in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Now I am not out to distort history but the veneration for the Black Madonna has never ceased, and she continues to be worshipped till this day.”

Sepia Mutiny has a moving post on belonging to various cultures - by birth, accident, choice and necessity. “No one has the right to be the arbiter of who does and does not get to participate in their culture. Such judgmental “guardians” had the genetic fortune or fate to be born in to what those whom they look down on are drawn to, but that doesn’t endow them with any priveleges like the one our banned commenter wishes she could exercise on all those “black and hispanic women”.”

Palestinian blogger Imaan, now based in Sweden, gives a detailed account of how she was able to finish her housework, arrange for her children to be looked after and slip with a friend to attend a Palestinian hiphop concert here.

This looks like a tasty combination: crispy fried whole fish from Panamanian chef Melissa de León with twice fried plantains from Honduras-based “La Gringa”.

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