You are currently browsing the Breaching The Web blog archives for July, 2002.

A snail’s pace

July 31st, 2002

SlowFood.com is the website of the International Slow Food movement, dedicated to the preservation of taste.

If we wish to enjoy the pleasure which this world can give us, we have to give of our all to strike the right balance of respect and exchange with nature and the environment. This is why we like to define ourselves as ‘eco-gastronomes’ . The fact is that our pleasure cannot be disconnected from the pleasure of others, but it is likewise connected to the equilibrium we manage to preserve (and in many cases revive) with the environment we live in.

The movement rejects fast living, instead embracing family, friends, leisure and pleasure. The organization’s manifesto directly blames fast food for the loss of pleasure and connection and eating (unfortunately, I can’t figure out how the link to the manifesto, but it is worth reading). One section of the website is devoted entirely to wine.

I guess it had to happen

July 31st, 2002

David Novak is an ex-con and a consultant to white-collar criminals who are sentenced to federal prison. He maintains contacts in 64 of the 96 federal prisons who help new Novak clients learn the ropes of what to do and how to act. He meets with clients before they go to jail, serves as a consultant on sentencing matters and helps them prepare mentally for what lies ahead.

Novak is a font of federal incarceration information. He advises that fellow inmates will give new inmates a one-month grace period before they’re expected to understand and obey the joint’s code; explains that in federal facilities, conjugal visits are not permitted, but sending flowers is; and notes that some prison kitchens will make a reasonable effort to accommodate Kosher diets.

I am horrified by the fact that there’s a niche for this.

Bye Limbs!

July 29th, 2002

Ernest Hemmingway wrote for the Kansas City Star in 1917-1918. The Star has a fascinating Hemmingway tribute site, including articles Hemmingway wrote for the star, a literary tour of Kansas City, told in Hemmingway’s words and annecdotes about Hemmingway’s time at the Star.

Wholesome milk

July 29th, 2002

An Amish-Mennonite Cooperative markets milk from grass-fed cows under the name “Natural by Nature”

“God created cows to eat grass,” avers Stoltzfoos, 44, his face fringed with beard, his eyes a weary gray. “They’re not monogastrics. They’re designed to digest diverse forage.”

I might give it a try. I don’t drink milk, but I do cook with it. I buy it occasionally in small quantities, so the extra expensive of organic, free-range, low-heat pasteurized milk wouldn’t make much difference to my grocery budget. But it would make a huge difference to my conscience.

Math Casualty

July 29th, 2002

I firmly believe that one casualty of the U.S.’s mathematic illiteracy is a voting sysem that works. I’ve taught many classes in which we’ve discussed alternative voting systems, including both instant runoff voting and proportional representation. These were all upper-division classes, full of junior and senior level political science and sociology students.

Their reaction to these alternative systems always boils down to: “we can’t have that — what about the principle of one man, one vote?” I would then take great pains to explain that everyone having 2 votes (or 20) is no more or less equal than everyone having 1 vote. My explanation involved a few mathematical notations (like “=” and “>” and “+”) and a few numbers.

After every such class, I would invariably have 1-2 students who would tell me they just couldn’t follow the lecture because they didn’t “get” math.

It boogles my mind that seniors in college can’t understand a greater than sign, and furthermore, that if they can’t understand it, what hope is there for the public to understand it?

However, I’ve found a bit of hope this morning at Politics in the Zeros whose excellent Green Party page was the source of the above links. There’s some excellent resources there.

When the world was young

July 25th, 2002

Many years ago, when I was young and usenet was way cool, I posted a spelling flame in a group dedicated to discussion of a country that the United States was then bombing. I did it because I was angry and I couldn’t think of anything intelligent to say. This was particularly stupid on my part because I am a terrible speller myself and I made two spelling mistakes in my message making fun of someone else’s spelling.

I’m not proud of that moment in my on-line life.

Luckily, I used a pseudonymn and an an e-mail address that cannot be attributed to me. That spelling flame is still in Google’s usenet archive, but I am fairly certain most people would have a hard time attaching that pseudonymn to me. The only usenet posts attached to my current, most frequently used, userID are in Xena: Warrior Princess groups. Somehow, I find that far less embarassing than the spelling flame.

I know the the Google usenet archive is old news, but I started thinking about it this morning after reading an article in the New York Times about search engines and personal information. There’s no news here to anyone who has spent any time at all thinking about these issues — but it is thought-provoking. I found the personal examples compelling.

Ewww…

July 18th, 2002

This is the most revolting public health campaign I have ever seen. And I can still sing the words to the hepatitis song, so trust me, I know revolting public health campaigns when I see them (”wash your hands after going to the bathroom… wash your hands after changing babies too… ’cause we don’t want to spread hepatitis, woo-hoo, and we don’t want hepatitis to get YOU”).

However, the little dancing polyp did get my attention, and I’m not even a target for the campaign, so I guess it’s effective…. but there is no way I’m downloading the desktop polyp.

Do Da Do Do Doo Da Do

July 18th, 2002

Apparently we are not doing enough to keep our Representatives busy. War & terrorism are no longer occupying their attention, so they’ve focused their short-sighted invective on Sesame Street.

It seems that Sesame Street is adding a new muppet character to the South African version of the program. This character will be HIV-positive. The character is being added to the show because of the huge number of children in the country who suffer from HIV. The goal is to help children deal with the serious illness that is ravaging their country.

So our Representatives have written a polite letter to the president of PBS telling him that such a character would not be welcome on the American version of the show.

It’s really a sad state of affairs when even South Africa is more progressive than the United States. This is one of those days when I’m ashamed of my country. [link via Looka!]

5 years

July 15th, 2002

When I lived in Arizona there was a joke about California: whatever the weather or politics in California was, just wait 5 minutes, and it will be like that here.

This was usually said in tones indicating that California’s weather & politics were unwanted.

But California’s new gas milage standards can diffuse as much as they want as far as I’m concerned — these standards are very good.

The standards would reduce greenhouse emissions and force automakers to increase the fuel efficiency of SUVs.

Bush & Harding

July 12th, 2002

Since the very beginning of our current president’s reign, I have believed that he would end up just like another conservative Republican president who wasn’t very smart: Harding.

Harding was a genial man who everyone liked. He had a knack for remembering personal details about people who he met only briefly, a knack that endeared him to his associates. But Harding wasn’t smart. He wasn’t experienced. During his campaign, he assured the nation that he would surround himself with the best possible advisors, and they would help him make the tough decisions.

Harding also had some moral weaknesses. He was fond of whisky (the cocaine of his time, since he was president during the early days of Prohibition), and he was frequently unfaithful to his wife (he was being black-mailed by a woman from his home town who had given birth to his child).

He won the election, of course, and surrounded himself with advisors. Unfortunately for him, his advisors turned out to be corrupt, self-serving criminals who used their positions to further their own personal agendas culminating ultimately in the teapot dome scandal.

Harding died in San Francisco during a political tour of the West. That’s the only thing that saved him from an investigation of his administration that almost certainly would have ended in his impeachment and removal from office.

I no longer believe that Bush resembles Harding. There is no evidence that Harding was involved in the scandals that surrounded his administration — he was just a nice man with bad habits and unscrupulous friends.

I used to think that Bush was very similar — that he was a hapless, stupid man with corrupt advisors. Not presidential material, but not necessarily bad either. But that has changed. I am now convinced that Bush is just as dirty as the rest of them.