News, commentary and fun things from the Internet and around the world.

Tuesday, April 30, 2002

Today's Theme: Staying In Touch

Carrier pigeons in India [photo copyright BBC News]Police Pigeon Service Closing
They survived the telephone and fax, but lost to e-mail. For over 50 years, police stations in Orissa, India have stayed in touch using carrier pigeons, and currently have 800 birds in the service. I hate to see low-tech solutions disappearing.

Text Messaging Voting Tried in UK
Text messaging has been used effectively in Europe by political candidates to reach their potential voters, so this seems like the next logical choice. The election is on 2 May, and other voting means include the Internet and telephone. The use of wireless devices in Europe is greater than the US, so they will likely continue to be ahead of us for a while on these things. I wonder if making it this easy to vote would really get more people involved in the electon process? Who knows, maybe in addition no charge for 911 calls, wireless services will not charge people to use text messaging to vote.

Who Said Canada Is Boring?
Where else can you find a newspaper listing for the annual Masturbate-A-Thon in Toronto. Attendance is optional as they work on the honor system... you can just "participate" from home. [Thanks to forty.something for this link]

The Thumb Generation [from 31 March]

Singapore Airlines To Allow Text Messaging
Starting in July, passengers will be able to use a special device to send text messages while in flight. The device, developed by Unimobile, uses software developed by Matsushita Avionics Systems.

Camera System To Watch California Beaches
This is either the coolest government webcam project ever, or a huge invasion of privacy. Los Angeles County is placing cameras along 72 miles of it coast and feeding the images of places like Venice, Malibu, and Santa Monica beaches to the Internet. All of this is funded under the Technology Opportunites Program grants. The Fire Department says the project will help people inland to assess the beach conditions including parking lots before they decide to head out to the beach.

Reading Zip File Contents
Fascinating article about how scientists have observed that they can tell by scanning zipped files (yes, the 0s and 1s) and by the pattern they can identify the language the zip files are written in. Taking that a step further, they are now using zip compression to store huge data patterns, like DNA strings. [NY Times - requires free registration]

Dancing Jakob Nielsen
Oh my gawd... this had me rolling on the floor. If you don't know Jakob by reputation, he is one of the leading Internet usability experts today and author of several excellent books on the subject.

Sunday, April 28, 2002

artwork by Ingo Swann, father of remote viewing [copyright Ingo Swann]
Do You Have An Open Mind?
I've been working in my office, away from my computer, and when I do this, I try to get caught up on radio shows that I've missed using streaming audio. I've been listening to Sean David Morton's latest interview from earlier this month, and I'm so taken aback by what I've been listening to that I want to share it with all of you.

Sean is quite an interesting guy, trained as part of the government's remote viewing program, he is actively involved today with some government research. In this interview, he talks about how he is doing work on the location of Osama bin Laden and the next steps of the Al Qaeda. What he has to share about his remote viewing results and visions of the future for the US is startling.

I ignore people who are speaking gloom and doom because I just don't believe in it. While Sean isn't painting a pretty picture, he isn't trying to scare anyone. The interconnections between events he has been relating is amazing, and totally believeable. Remember that pharmaceutical plant that Clinton had bombed in Khost, Afghanistan in 1998? Sean says that many members of Osama's family were killed in that attack, and that was a major factor in the attention paid later to getting even with the US. In fact, Sean believes that Osama is located there now, and he talks about that, too.

I don't have any way to prove that anything Sean says in this interview is true, other than to say that it rings true to my heart as I'm listening. You need to subscribe to the Art Bell streaming audio service to hear it. I wish there was a way I could keep a copy of this interview in my files, that is how much I'm appreciating his message.

What I love about his approach is that he is really telling everyone that this is a wake-up call to walk your path and live an honorable life. It's not about religion, although you can certainly practice any one you like. The important thing is to be a person of honor, a person who lives by the principles that seem right on to you. Every religion, every spiritual path, in fact, every culture has believed that there was an end time. If we are heading into that time, or just facing an uncertain future, there is nothing we can do about it, other than to follow our hearts, walk gently on the earth, and learn the lessons of our personal lives.
Dear Dog Owner [photo copyright Dawn Mikulich] click to enlarge
Most wonderful personal photograph collection... check it out!

Iraq To Bid On Olympics In Baghdad For 2012
Saddam Hussein has authorized the construction of a two-tiered stadium that would be the centerpiece of its Olympic center, and specified that it be built according to British standards, and meet the FIFA soccer and IAAF athletics regulations. Many western construction companies are expected to be placed bids on it since it is not a military project. There are rumors that Iran and Iraq would bid together to hold the event. It would be the first time the Olympics would be held in an Arabic nation. The IOC will ask for bids for the 2012 games next year.

Do You Like Color?
I have always loved color! I can't stand to live in a house with white walls (although I do see some rooms with white walls that are beautiful, they aren't for me) and am surrounded by bright, jewel tone colors all of the time. Interestingly, I realized a couple years back that my home no longer contains any BLUE, whatever that tells you about me. I've got a gold bathroom, a purple and green office, a sunshine yellow bedroom, and a red/black/gold kitchen. I don't even own white sheets! I found this color test interesting... I'm not sure that it means anything, but it is a curiousity. [Thanks to An Expected End for the link.]

Remote Viewing Conference in Austin in June

Saturday, April 27, 2002

Grim Ride 2001 [photo copyright Grim Rides]I've Heard Of Ghost Towns...
...but never a town full of the dead. But then, I'd never heard of Colma, California. There are no cemeteries in San Franciso any more. More than 100 years ago, the city dug up all of the dead and moved them to their new home under Colma. Today, the town boasts of 1,500 residents above ground, and more than a million underground (I guess that is death humor) including some famous people like Wyatt Earp, William Randolph Hearst, Joe DiMaggio, and Levi Strauss. It is also a gothic pilgrimage destination.

Game Show Cheating In England
Many years ago, I enjoyed the move IQ with Meg Ryan and Tim Robbins. My favorite scene was when Tim's character was given a public examination, and people in the audience were moving and coughing to give him the correct answers. It worked. Apparently, Major Charles Ingram saw that movie and was inspired to act out that scene when he was a contestant on the UK version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" last year. He denies all wrongdoing, but the investigation goes on, and more people have been arrested. Not only that, he has been questioned over a insurance claim and named as a Creep of the Week.

US Brands Boycotted in Bahrain Over Middle East Situation
American brands are not selling well in grocery stores, and fast food outlets like McDonalds and Dairy Queen are feeling the loss of business.

Rich Archeological Finds In Egypt
The ongoing dig at Kom Al-Hettan in Luxor has yielded some interesting statues at the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III. The finds also include Islamic coins, weapons, and pottery. This site was listed by the World Monuments Watch organization as one of the 100 most endangered sites in the world.

Medical Help Withheld As Means To Get Confession
In an article that was censored from the print edition of the Middle Eastern Times, doctors have been prevented from assisting 6 injured University of Alexandria students who were involved in the event that killed Muhammad Ali al-Saqqa. The doctors and the hospital are reporting that the State Police are witholding medical care in an attempt to pressure confessions from them. The students were protesting the taking of Ramallah, but also critized the Egyptian government and President Husni Mubarak.

The Future of Spy Technology
[New York Times, free registration required]

Thursday, April 25, 2002

photo copyright Salon Smile
TV Ads For Teeth Whitening
Have you noticed all of the commercials these days for teeth whitening products? I was curious to see what the American Dental Association has to say about this subject.

Man Seeks Companion For Movies, Writes Romantic Novels, ...
Who would guess this is the beginning of a personal ad from Saddam Hussein? But that is part of the complex character of the man according to Mark Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down and a profile of Hussein in Atlantic Monthly.

Anaheim's Little Arabia
More about the ethnic diversity of Los Angeles, a travel guide to the Arabic section of town.

A Voice of Reason
In the maddening crowd of voices in Canada screaming for more information about the "friendly fire" deaths, Ret. Gen. Maurice Baril speaks out in a tone that shows he trusts the process to work, a process that he heads from the Canadian side.

Tuesday, April 23, 2002

Messiest Room Winner [photo copyright]
Oh My Gawd... I Feel So Neat Now
When I work too much, my place gets messy, but never in my life have I had this kind of a mess to clean up. Right now, my office is the messy "catch all" room in my house. So let's just say that I'm glad that I don't have a web cam. It's cluttered, but not like this. This hurts my eyes just to look at it! This is the home of the winner of the Messiest College Apartment contest. Click on the picture to view MORE shots of the place, if you can stand it!
[Thanks to Tom at for turning me on to this!]

Viagra Black Market in China
In a country where men have taken potions made from deer penis to make them more, ahem, inclined... Viagra is only available by prescription, or by special invitation through underground sources. Officially it is called Wanaige, but it is know informally as the "great elder brother" or weige. Ironically, that is also the nickname that Native Americans gave to Bigfoot.

Rumors Of His Death Are Greatly Exaggerated
In a story that I find every bit as funny as the Mary Tyler Moore Show episode called "Chuckles Bites The Dust" where Mary writes the obituary for Chuckles The Clown... the Washington Post revealed today that the Scripps Howard News Service website contains an obituary of Ronald Reagan, who is still alive. The article has even been indexed by Google!
Bashful Streaker [photo copyright BBC Sports]
Woo Hoo!!! Streaker At The Snooker Championship!
Andrew Slater interrupted the first round match between Paul Hunter and Quinten Hann wearing only his socks and a mask. It seems he took off his clothes at his seat, unnoticed by the crowd around him. His goal: "I just did it for a laugh."

s1 s2 s3
Billboard for Human Race Machine [photo copyright Nancy Burson]
Change Your Skin
A most unusual art exhibit allows visitors to see how their face would look at different ages and in different races. The Human Race Machine is currently part of the exhibition Seeing and Believing: The Art of Nancy Burson traveling to Grey Art Gallery (NYC), Blaffer Gallery (Houston) and Weatherspoon Art Gallery (Greensboro, North Carolina) among other destinations. It will be made part of the permanent collection at the New York Hall of Science in June.

Supreme Court Hears Appeal on Death Sentence
This case from Arizona involves a man found guilty by a jury and sentenced by the judge to death. Legal watchers are concerned that the outcome of this appeal could impact other people sentenced to death in other states under similar circumstances.

Castro Plays Tape Of Conversation With Mexican President Vincent Fox
With their relationship strained because of the Human Rights vote, Fidel Castro decided to play a tape of a recent conversation with Fox that contradicts what Fox had reported about the conversation. Look for things to heat up here.

Death Of The Floppy Drive
For 15 years, the floppy disk has been used for data transportation and storage on all types of computers. Even though no media has emerged to replace it, the floppy is going the way of the dodo. Toshiba is no longer putting them into their notebooks.

Mark Shuttleworth To Be First African In Space
The man who started Thawte Consulting which made him a millionaire by age 24 is set to travel to the International Space Station where he will be more than just a tourist. He will conduct experiements with the assistance of South African and Russian researchers. He is joined on the mission by Roberto Vittori and Yuri Gidzenko, and takes off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on Thursday. The South African newspaper, Daily Mail & Guardian, is providing special coverage of the event, including cam links and Ham Radio connections.

Monday, April 22, 2002

In Honor Of Our Neighbors
Canadians Upset Over Friendly Fire Accident
Of course, that goes without saying. Here is a wide collection of articles on the topic. A recent poll says that nearly everyone in Canada wants the US to provide financial retribution for the casualties. It is unclear how this would come about, because of two US laws, the Foreign Claims Act and the Military Claims Act, that would prevent a country from suing the US over losses during a war. Some people, in their anger, claim that mistakes like this should not have happened. It is tragic, but haven't these people been listening to the news? We've lost several of our own troops to what seems to be similar mistakes. I don't say that to minimize in any way the value of these men's lives or the impact on their families. The bodies were flown to Canadian Forces Base Trenton, where hearses were waiting to take them to be autopsied, and then to the funeral arrangements preferred by the families. [Video clip at Trenton]

As you might expect, the US is upset about the event. Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defense Secretary, says that the investigation will not be conducted in secret. Canada is conducting their own probe. Early results show that the ground troops may not have add the proper equipment to communicate with the pilot. The bomber unit's hometown is upset over the accident. The outpouring of condolences from around Canada and the world have been surprising.

Sunday, April 21, 2002

Yahoo! Yodeler Sues
It's called a contract. In 1996, Yahoo! entered into a contract with Wylie Gustafson to yodel, with the agreement that it would be used once on their first TV commercial. But as you know, Yahoo! continues to use Wylie's yodel outside of their contract without compensating him. Just one more reason not to like the Big Y. Wylie is the founder of Wylie and the Wild West, a cowboy, poet and musician.
Scott in diving suit at the finish line [photo copyright BBC]
London Marathon's Slowest Competitor Ever
How slow was he? It only took Lloyd Scott just over 5 days to finish the London Marathon, making his finish the slowest time ever recorded, and perhaps the only person to ever complete the race in an old fashioned diving suit. He was met at the end by Paula Radcliffe, the women's winner, who crossed the line nearly a week before him. It's his second London marathon. Lloyd has also crossed the desert in Jordan dressed as Indiana Jones for the Desert Cup 2001, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Kenya and Mount Aconcaqua in Argentina, and crossed Death Valley as a member of the Berghaus Team. His life is an amazing story.

Real Life Panic Rooms
People really do have panic rooms built into their homes, but don't talk about it. And according to this article, many of the facts of the movie, Panic Room, were not accurate.

More Comments on the Return of Chavez in Venezuala
[Previous post on this topic] The news is showing up around the world, now featured in Ireland. Hear what the Venezualan military have to say about the coup.

Afghanistan Earthquakes Linked To US Bombing?
If the science in this article is correct (and with the many footnotes, I don't doubt it), then the US boming campaign in Afghanistan is responsible for setting up the earthquakes that have hit that region.

Saturday, April 20, 2002

I'm a little annoyed with Blogger... it has lost everything I've posted since the McDonalds item.
Liberty Bell photo copyright
Whitewashing US History
Every age writes its own history, and writes it in such a way that it appears heroic. Everyone is guilty of this. And now, Gary B. Nash of UCLA is asking the National Park Service to accurately tell the story of the Robert Morris house at their new Liberty Bell Center at the Independence National Historic Park. This location has a rich history for slavery in America, but the new site is holding to the abolitionist veiw of history. It is time to tell the whole truth.

Chinese Honey Problem Causes Candian Food Recall
Honey tainted with small amounts of chloramphenicol, an antibioitic generally used with animals, has been used in Candian products, forcing the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to recall the products. Tim Horton's products are among those recalled. While it is banned in Canada, it seems that it is prescribed for people in the US, unless I'm misunderstanding something.

Mexico Supports UN Human Rights Condemnation of Cuba
Mexico has long been an ally of Cuba, so this week, when Mexico did not abstain in the UN on the vote to condemn Cuba's human rights practices, but voted against Cuba and in support of the resolution. In years past, Mexico has abstained rather than take a stand against their long-time ally. This move strains their relationship. Cuba blames the US for being behind this action, even though the US is not a member of the UN Human Rights Commission.

Strategic Non-Violence & The Power Of The People
This is one of the most interesting stories I've ever read. It's about how the people of Serbia managed to oust Slobodan Milosevic. The story is being told through the new documentary, "Bringing Down a Dictator," airing on PBS stations this month. Its a collaboration between Peter Ackerman and Steve York who had teamed up earlier for the documentary "A Force More Powerful." If you don't believe that individual, common people can change the world they live in, you need to see these films.

More Evidence Offered By Cuba About Otto Reich's Involvement in Venezualan Coup
[Previous post on this topic]

Thursday, April 18, 2002

McDonalds Is Losing Money
McDonalds, formerly considered a blue chip stock, is down to almost half of its all time high (in 1999) stock price, and is about to announce its' sixth straight quarterly loss. Say it isn't so! The largest restaurant chain on the planet plans to open only 300 new locations during this year in the US alone, and with 43% of the market, they aren't going away. But Wendy's and Burger King are storming the castle arches a bit more every day.

Wednesday, April 17, 2002

Greenbrier Resort [photo copyright Greenbrier]Britian's Hiding Place Revealed
Of course, we knew that America was not the first country to have an underground hiding place for its political leaders in times of turmoil. Now, visitors are being allows into Britian's WWII hiding place, where Winston Churchill and other members of the government would have hidden if necessary, codenamed "Paddock" that was even kept secret from the King. The US has a long history of underground hiding places for goverment leaders, developed under Cold War strategies, including the facility built under the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia codenamed "Greek Island." Everyone is fascinated by them.

Cuba Reports On Venezualan Coup As More Info Available
They report that the New York Times has confirmed the facts they stated on Monday. The claims are that Otto Reich, who was recently appointed to the State Department as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere by President Bush, is behind the coup, and that he was "a key actor in the Iran-Contra scandal." There are lots of website articles with warnings about this guy and his past, inlcuding from the legitmate press. [NY Times Article 1] [NY Times Article 2] [NY Times Article 3] (free registration required)
Vanilla Coke In May
Interesting to read about this in Australia, and interesting to see their perspective on the Cola Wars.

Tuesday, April 16, 2002

View of an ant colony [photo copyright]
Ants Taking Over Europe
OK, that's a bit of an exaggeration. Scientists have found a super colony of Argentine ants that stretches thousands of miles from the Italian Riviera along the coastline to northwest Spain. It makes me itch just thinking about it. The full report is being published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Pass the cinnamon, please!

How Scuzzy (SCSI) Works
If you are using a PC (or an older Apple) you may be using SCSI connections for things like digital cameras, scanners and printers. Want to learn how they work? As always, the people behind "How Things Work" have done a terrific job of explaining technical things in simple terms. And while you are there, check out their explanations of other things of interest to you.

2,000 Year Old Letter Found In China
The letter, written on silk, was found in northwest China in the Xuanquanzhi Ruins. It is evidence that China had a postal system along the Silk Road in those days.

Companies Provided Incentives To Reduce Terrorist Vulnerabilities In Shipping
In an effort to speed things up at our borders, especially at the Candian border, the Homeland Security office is unveiling a new pilot program involving the five companies that trade the most into Canada: General Motors, Ford, DaimlerChrysler, Sara Lee and Target.

US Complicity In Venezuelan Coup Attempt?
According to the Cuban UN Ambassador, Bruno Rodríguez, the US was involved in supporting the failed coup attempt against Venezuelan President, Hugo Chávez. In fact, they accuse us of supporting nearly all coup attempts in the world. According to the BBC, the US is wondering what our relationship to Chávez is now, after we applauded his overthrow last week. It makes me wonder.

Bhutan's Constitutional Writing Efforts Continue
Since the end of 2001, a committe has been working to draft a constitution for Bhutan, which has been traditionally a kingdom. The people are happy with the current system, but there is a feeling that it is time to look to the future, and having a constitution is part of that future.

Sunday, April 14, 2002

New US $100 Bill [copyright US Treasury Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Do You Have A Tatty British Fiver In Your Wallet?
Seems that most Brits do. The popular currency has an expected life of 9 months, but they are being kept in circulation much longer. Now, the Bank of England is looking at ways to improve the paper quality so they can last longer. By contrast, the US one dollar bill has a life expectancy of 18 months, twice as long! Maybe the Bank of England should be talking to Cranes, who have been supplying the paper for US currency since Stephen Crane sold paper to Paul Revere in 1775 to use in printing the American colonies first currency.

Russian Oil Companies Worried About Iraq
Russian oil companies have small contracts with Iraq to provide oil, but they are disappointed that they can't make bigger contracts under Saddam Hussein, and they fear that they will be shut out if/when Saddam is no longer in power. Sounds like they are expecting a lose/lose situation. But in another article, they say that they are not frightened by Iraq's recent decision to halt exports.

Talk About Unusual Pets
Is it really possible that there are more tigers living as pets in the America than the total population in the wild? I must confess, I own a Bengal cat, a relatively new domestic cat breed that comes from leopards, but I can't imagine raising a tiger, or leopard, or lion as a pet.

Saturday, April 13, 2002

McDonalds #1 In Hungary
It seems that in Hungary, the main menu items are the Big Mac and McChicken sandwich, complimented by other standard US menu items and international items on a rotating basis. One reason for their huge success... Hungarian families eat out at least once a month. I would guess that American families eat out about 20 times a month, but that is just based on what I observe.

More News About the IBM - Nazi Connection
More documents have been uncovered that make it plain that IBM was actively involved with Nazi Germany, providing recordkeeping tools used in the persecution of the Jews and that IBM considered the Nazis to be their largest overseas customer. This was more than just a Polish subsidiary working with a client in a neighboring country... this was the corporate HQ involved in the transactions.

Friday, April 12, 2002

Skooch, the Trivium resident cat
Library Cats!
This is way too cool! A website that lists the libraries across the US that have a resident cat. Many of them include pictures. Check out your state to see which of your finest biblio organizations have resident cats!

Learn Arabic Online
I was surprised to find this site from a link on Since 11 September, I've been making an effort to understand more about the Arab world, reading Arabic news, and learning more about their culture. While I'm not deluded into thinking I'm going to actually learn Arabic from this site, it was worth the time I have spent on it to hear the language and begin to develop an ear for recognizing it. It's a small world, after all.

Thinking About Buying A New Car?
Read this article before you make a trip to the dealer.

Faking An Illness Online
Now, the people in the office who have had every illness that comes up in conversation have a new outlet for their medical one-upsmanship -- online support groups for illnesses. It seems that people join these chat groups and pretend to have a disease, and often join under multiple names so it looks like their family/friends are also in the chat group to lend credibility to the illness pretense. This doctor is called this illness for lying online about having an illness "Munchausen by Internet." I've spent my share of time in chat rooms, and I've made "friends" in them, but I learned early on (the hard way) not to believe what people say. I don't mean that in a totally cynical way... I listen to stories and I think "that's an interesting story" and don't let myself get emotionally involved beyond the conversation. It was a hard lesson to learn, but it has served me well. If you are reading this, and you actually believe what people tell you online... then read this article and start to open your eyes. There are plenty of documented cases of lying online.

Thursday, April 11, 2002

Ocotilla in bloom [photo copyright Michael L. Charters]
Driving around today, I noticed that the ocotilla are in bloom.

Talk About Security Breaches...
It seems that the Canadian government was requesting bids for the security around the Group of Eight summit in Kananaskis, Alberta this summer. And in order to determine bids, the potential bidders were given access to detailed information about where the world leaders would be sitting, room layouts, and building locations. Of course they needed this information to make a bid. But didn't anything think that posting this on the web was, well, not in the best interests of those involved?

Mexican Police Arrested During Crackdown
The Mexicans continue to chip away at the corruption that has allowed drug dealers to thrive, arresting nearly 200 officers in Baja California believes to have been supporting the dealers. Last week, the investigation found a 1,200 foot long tunnel under the US/Mexican border that had been used for drug smuggling.

Arizona Company's Product Saved Lives During Afghanistan Air Raids
The people who work for Universal Propulsion Company in Phoenix had a special presentation today from crew that used their Advanced Concept Ejection Seats to bail out of a B1-B over the Indian Ocean instead of dropping their payload on targets in Afghanistan. The crew was inducted into the Grasshopper Club, an elite group of over 600 pilots who have ejected safely using their ejection seats. It's no joy ride, but according to Capt. John Proietti "...I'll take that over the alternative." Hurrah for ordinary heros!
Peach Faced Lovebirds [photo copyright Greg Clark]
Peach Faced Lovebirds Making Phoenix Their Home
Quite by accident, I ran across this page posted by a local bird watcher about the appearance of these lovebirds, native to Africa, living wild in the Phoenix metro area. I live near where they have been sighted, and I'm quite excited now to see if I can spot them near my bird feeders, and to learn more about them.

America's Most Dangerous Intersections
According to State Farm Insurance, two intersections in my neighborhood are rated among the ten most dangerous intersections in America. I really don't enjoy driving through the one at 19th Ave & Northern, and I used to drive it every day to work at AMEX. The other one, 7th Street & Bell (just a stone's throw from here), I drive all of the time, and apart from being very busy, I have never had bad thoughts as I drive through it. The third most dangerous intersection in Arizona, 32nd Street & Greenway, is another one that I go through almost every time I drive to Scottdale because Greenway is a great east/west corridor road with few traffic lights. I do hate driving through that intersection, also.

What's In A Name?
When the British Postal Group changed its name last year to Consignia, it didn't realize it was starting a public relations disaster. And all of this after they spent 3 years and $2.9 million to select the new name! The Bard said that "...a rose by any other name would smell as sweet..." but doesn't that also mean that a stinker continues to stink no matter what we call it? Maybe all of this bad PR will cause Dragon Brands, the company that selected the new name, to change its own name?

Monday, April 08, 2002

Visa logo [copyright Visa]
Short On Cash At Rent Time? Charge It!
That's right. Visa has found a new way to get people to use the plastic in their wallets. By working with large property management companies like AIMCO, Visa now allows people to use plastic to pay the rent, and encourages its use for other recurring bills. So, my question is this: what happens when someone has charged rent and other intangibles and files for bankruptcy? Who is really going to lose? It's everywhere you want to be, even at home.

Penthouse On The Way Out
Penthouse, the magazine that brought pornography to the masses, is about to fold. According to Bob Guccione, the founder and publisher, the magazine is in debt and can't compete with Internet porn.

When Is A Tomato A Vegetable?
Another unbelivable news item. It seems that back in 1893, the US Supreme Court decided that tomatos, botanically fruits, would be legally considered vegetables because they are prepared like vegetables, meaning that they are subject to high import taxes. Hurrah for American ingenuity and too bad for Canadian growers... that is, until last week when a US tribunal decided that greenhouse tomatos and field tomatos are the same crop, opening the door for tomatos to avoid the high import taxes. What is going on with the US and our petty trade hassles these days? Maybe this article shows that we've always been like this. Sugar, steel, chicken, tomatos... silly trade battles that seem to me to be cutting off our nose to spite our face. So goes the tale of Tomato Wars.

Planetary Pileup About To Start
In the last 62 years, it has not been possible to see five planets visible in the night sky at the same time. But starting on 12 April, and running for 5 weeks, you can do just that.
Royal tribute to crew [photo copyright Gulf Daily News]Bahrain Frigate Home From Afghanistan
Did you know that Bahrain had a ship involved in the international coalition supporting the war in Afghanistan? Turns out, they had sent a frigate, Sabha, under Captain Sager Hamad Al Mawdah to the Arabian Sea, where they participated in joint maneuvers with the US Navy. War makes strange bedfellows... scratching my head over here. They are very proud of their involvement.

Bering Strait Explorers Turned Away At Russian Border
This isn't my idea of a good time. Two British explorers, Steve Brooks and Graham Stratford, set out from Nome, Alaska on foot to prove that you can walk Siberia... but when they reached the Russian border at the International Date line, they were refused entrance. Aparently, these guards aren't used to walk up traffic, eh? I wonder if they got help to get back or if this problem will get resolved?

Generous Communities Acknowledged
Many people have never heard the stories about the generosity of the people of two small Canadian towns starting on Sept. 11. When the US airspace was closed, flights en route to the US from Europe were diverted to the towns of Gander and Halifax. The passengers were not told immediately of the terrorist attacks, but were taken into the homes of these people who were called upon in a time of international crisis to extend hospitality to some of the temporarily displaced. I've heard a story that some of the passengers started a scholarship fund for the children of this town they were so grateful, and this article mentions this story as true. It is one of the gems that came out of the disaster, though. Now, Lufthansa is putting the names of these two towns on one of their new planes as a public acknowledgement of the sacrifice and hospitality of these fine people. Bravo!

CNN Arabic!
I suppose its a good idea. Find out here one opinion from the Arab world about how CNN's new Arabic website is being received, along with the Arabic language websites for other major news outlets from the English speaking world, including the BBC.

Saturday, April 06, 2002

Kursh photo copyright TASS
Raising The Kursk
Looking for breaking news or background information about the Kursk, the Russian nuclear-powered sub that sank last year, and now has been raised and towed to the port of Murmansk.

Talk About Historical Perspective
Imagine what you would think of the world if you had lived through the last 112 years? That is what life is like for Maria Strelnikova, who at 112 years young, is the oldest person in northwest Russia.

Thor Heyerdahl Near Death
I remember reading about Heyerdahl's adventure in the book Kon-Tiki when I was in the sixth grade, way back in 1969. It is the end of an era, an age of discovery where one man set out to prove that ancient civilizations had the technology to explore the world.

Sports Condoms
Imagine a world where condoms come in packages to support your favorite soccer team. Congratulations, you have imagined Brazil.

When Does An Interest in Conspiracies Become Parnoia?
I don't know, but this article takes an interesting look at what makes a believable conspiracy theory, like the theory that the FBI attacked the World Trade Center last year.

Friday, April 05, 2002

Opium Poppy [copyright Andy Carvin]
Afghan Farmers Paid To Uproot Poppies
The US, Britian and other countries are providing the funds to pay Afghan farmers $500 per acre to uproot their poppies, in an attemtp to stop the expected outpouring of opium. Apparently, in the mid-1990s, the Taliban had encouraged poppy production as a way to fund their efforts. It seems that opium dealers are thrilled with this because the expected glut was forcing prices down.

Nobel Panel Members Would Like To Withdraw Peace Prize From Perez
The award, given in 1994 jointly to Perez, Rabin, and Arafat, was deserved at the time, but in light of the attrocities today, panel members wish they could undo the award given to Perez.

US Ambassador to India Vists Bhutan
Bob Blackwill, the US Ambassador to India, has visited with the King, the prime minister and the foreign secretary.

Teenager Sacrificed In Scorcery Ritual In Cambodia
This is hard to believe, but at least we have this news because the people involved have charged with murder.

Chinese Climate Control Study Begins
The first study of its kind in China, undertaken by the China Meteorological Administration, will look for climate impacts on business and growth in China, as well as China's participation in global climate issues. IBM is helping to support this research, in light of the upcoming Olympics in China.

Thursday, April 04, 2002

Hollywood Sign Webcam
Movie Production Work Leaving Hollywood
Interesting analysis showing that Hollywood is still the center for designing entertainment, but the actual movie production work is moving out of town.

Canadian Charged For Trading With A US Enemy
James Sabzali, a Canadian citizen and employee of Bro-Tech Corp., has been charged under the U.S. Trading with the Enemy Act and is awaiting sentencing for being involved with his company's dealings in Cuba.

Arizona Gateway For Mexican Methamphetamine
According to this article, meth is becoming the drug of choice for Arizonans.

Arizona Gets Running With The Bulls
Now you don't have to go to Pamplona, Spain for this adrenaline rush... just come to Scottsdale's Rawhide over its Cinco de Mayo celebration weekend.

Vatican Document Show Knights Templar Were Pardoned
As if the Vatican doesn't have enough problems right now... some interesting developments in the history of the Knights Templar. I had always been told that they were the guardians of the Holy Grail... apart from what the Indian Jones movie shows.

Monday, April 01, 2002

Presidential Seal Rug from the Clinton Birthplace Foundation
No Joke, Billy-Bob Clinton's Raking In The Dough
According to this article, he's going to make a nice round figure his first two years out of office... $40 million. I wonder what he is spending it on... friends, good times, beer?

Again, Not A Joke, But Someone Claims The FBI Attacked The WTC Towers on 9/11
Hard to believe that these people can spew such things in public. The author, Thierry Meyssan, of a new book, L'Effroyable Imposture (The Terrifying Imposter), claims they used radio controlled planes to crash into the towers. Of course, this article was published in the Middle East, from an English paper in Bahrain. I did a little digging, and found this article about him, translated by Google from French.

Mercy Killings Legal In Netherlands
A new law sets guidelines that allow doctors to participate in euthanasia under specific guidelines, the first country in the world to make such things legal.

No Joke, Men In Bahrain Can Beat Their Wives
The only limitation, they should not break bones or deform her body... and her only recourse, if she is injuried, is divorce. It's a sad state of affairs, something that shoul be brought into the daylight.

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