You are currently browsing the Breaching The Web blog archives for June, 2003.

Dying for Dollars

June 25th, 2003

I was looking for more information about Kim Caroll’s case against funeral giant Service Corporation International (which I first wrote about back in January 2002), when I stumbled across some fascinating (and horrifying) old news.

At the end of May 2003, SCI settled a lawsuit in Florida in which company officials had been charged with several felony counts “including misconduct and incompetence in the operation of a cemetery, woeful negligence and failure to obtain authorization from a family before disinterment.” As part of the settlement, SCI will have to pay $6 million to various stakeholders in Florida, and may have to pay an additional $4 million if additional claims are made.

What piqued my interest about this was the geography: Florida (as we all know) is a Bush stronghold. And SCI has faced other legal entanglements in that other Bush stronghold, Texas, where the fired head of the Texas Funeral Service Commission sued the state and G.W. for wrongful termination, after SCI officials complained to Bush aides about her investigation into the company. That case too was later settled out of court.

Unsurprisingly, both Bushes received significant campaign contributions from SCI.

The relationship between SCI and the Bush family stinks more than… well, more than a corpse left outside to rot on a warm day.


June 24th, 2003

I am deeply impressed by Howard Dean’s speech announcing his campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination. The full text of the speech can be found here. Consider my vote won.

For more on why you should think about Dean, check out Medley’s endorsement.

Paying Private Lynch

June 20th, 2003

I know very little about how the military works.

Can someone point me toward a source explaining how soldiers holding non-combat jobs in war zones (specifically, women like Private Jessica Lynch, who have jobs on supply teams and such) are paid?

Ideally, I’d like to know both (1) how much they are making compared to soldiers of similar rank in combat roles in the same operational areas and (2) how experience in both non-combat & combat jobs in war zones is considered in promotions.

The cold horror

June 20th, 2003

The cold horror instilled in me by Your Right to Not Much (from The Texas Observer) has left me numb. The article details debate in the Texas legislature about the “Women

I Love the Web

June 20th, 2003 is an awesome source of botantical information. The best part of the site, in my opinion, is Plants that Changed History, which includes articles on the Dutch monopoly of quinine, how flax preserved history, and how parsley won a war.

Little Home Town

June 19th, 2003

I have on occassion enjoyed an Endangered Species Chocolate bar. But I didn’t know until today that they are made in my hometown. The exotic chocolates use eco-friendly ingredients and a substantial portion of the profits are donated to various environmental causes. I think they’re yummy, and it’s nice to be able to point to a sucessful Oregon business that’s not Nike.

Caller ID

June 16th, 2003

The Washington Post reports today on how the National Republican Congressional Committee is relying on telemarketing to attract more, smaller doners in light of new restrictions on large donations to the parties.

The interesting part of this shift is the ideological commitments of the consultants behind it.

[At InfoCision], chief executive Gary Taylor hires workers — all of them Republicans — to call Republicans to ask them to give to Republicans. The NRCC sometimes sends along lists of potential donors it buys from conservative groups or magazines, too….

In contrast to some telemarketing companies, InfoCision works exclusively for conservative groups. In the 1990s, it turned down an overture from Bill Clinton’s campaign.

These aren’t volunteers calling party members on their own time, but they also aren’t your run of the mill telemarketer out to make a buck. They’re something different. InfoCision, and other companies like it, are using party membership to define not just their audience, but themselves. This is not new (see Citizen Coors, for example), but the potential synergy of a party-based audience, a party-based workforce, and modern technologies that allow careful tracking, grooming and cultivating of donor lists is chilling.

Gettin’ with it

June 16th, 2003

Some excellent advice for Democrats in 2004 found today in MadKane’s Notables:

“Democrats’ Anthem: Election 2004″ (to be sung to “Blowin’ In The Wind”)
By Madeleine Begun Kane

How many wars must a President start
Without any reason at all?
How much ill will must a President cause
Until he at last takes the fall?
How many wars must a President launch
Because he is greedy for oil?
The answer my friend is dump Republicans.
The answer is dump Republicans.

If only

June 3rd, 2003

If only someone had given me advice like this as an undergraduate and forced me to take it seriously. Some highlights:

“The Modern Language Association’s own data — very conservative and upbeat in my opinion — indicate that only about one in five newly-admitted graduate students in English will eventually become tenure-track professors.”

“Are you the one in five? Really? Well, that’s what the other four think too. Take my advice (I secretly care about you as a person): Don’t go. ”

“Grad school is not all fun and personal enrichment for many people. It can involve poverty-level wages, uncertain employment conditions, contradictory demands by supervisors, irrelevant research projects, and disrespectful treatment by both the tenured faculty members and the undergraduates (both of whom behave, all too often, as management and customers.) Grad school is a confidence-killing daily assault of petty degradations. All of this is compounded by the fear that it is all for nothing; that you are a useful fool.”

Am I bitter? Hell yes. Every word in that last quoted paragraph is applicable to my experience in grad school. Most every word in the whole article is applicable.

Go to grad school if you want to, just don’t do so blindly.