You are currently browsing the Breaching The Web blog archives for February, 2004.


February 27th, 2004

Pirate Monkey's Harry Potter Personality Quiz
Harry Potter Personality Quiz
by Pirate Monkeys Inc.

[blush]. Well, there you go. I’m Dumbledore. [quiz found at Medley]

art mystery

February 24th, 2004

I don’t grok most art. I try — very hard — but I often don’t get it.

But sometimes I do get the art of remixing — taking music, sampling it, changing it, shaping it, sculpting it into new forms. While often weak and derivative (or just not my cup of tea), remixing can also result in startling new forms of music and thought. So I am compelled by Grey Tuesday.

Wired Magazine has covered the story in detail, bur briefly DJ Danger Mouse sampled and remixed Jay-Z’s The Black Album and the Beatles White Album and called the result The Grey Album. The Grey Album was critically acclaimed as both a tribute to the Beatles and Jay-Z, and also as the most innovative album of the year. EMI (which owns the rights to the White Album) has sent cease and desist letters to stores carrying the The Grey Album (of which only 3000 copies were made). has organized a protest, a statement of artistic will that unites artists and fans against EMI, and by implication, against the “big 5″ that make up the mainstream of the commercial music industry in the United States. That protest is Grey Tuesday (which is today!), a day in which hundreds of sites are making The Grey Album available for download in .mp3 format, for free.

It’s a brilliant act.


February 20th, 2004

The fight for homosexual marriage rights is catching on — San Fransisco is suing California over the state’s ban on gay marriages; Sandoval County in New Mexico is issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples; mayors in Chicago, Minneapolis, and Salt Lake City have expressed interest in following San Fransisco; even the King of Cambodia thinks it is a good idea. Yay!

Just in case anyone is worried, my marriage is doing just fine. Over 2,800 couples (and counting!) married this week, and I don’t feel threatened yet. When do you think it might kick in?

calling no one

February 20th, 2004

A few nights ago I was home alone when the phone rang. I answered it and was surprised when it was a telemarketer. I realized that I haven’t fielded many telemarketing calls since the Do-Not-Call registry went into effect — and today I learned that I’m not alone. The registry has been effective, with an AP poll showing that among those who have registered, 74% report receiving fewer telemarketing calls.

So if you haven’t signed up yet, you should.

Vaccine update

February 18th, 2004

The World Health Organization has recommended changing the flu vaccine next year to include the Fujian strain that infected most Americans this year. One of the other strains will also be changed and the third will remain the same. The vaccine will not include the avian flu that is killing birds in Asia since that stain is not transmitted from humans to other humans.


February 17th, 2004

You want to know something that makes me angry? Right now, it’s that I cannot collect survey research data from anyone under the age of 18 without the consent of their parents — and yet businessnes can collect personal information from kids as young as 13 without the consent of their parents.

The data I collect is for purposes I think most people would think of as helpful (I’m being intentionally obscure here, but broadly — understanding certain undesirable behaviors in youth with the ultimate aim of preventing them in the first place). The data collected by business is for pecuniary ends (better targeting ads to them with the ultimate aim of selling them more stuff). I believe that the latter is potentially more damaging than the former, and the disparate treatment of the two activities is absolutely infuriating!


February 16th, 2004

Usually when the news makes me cry, my tears are of anger or sadness. Joy is an unusual news-related emotion for me.

So imagine my surprise when I found myself in my office at work today, weeping for joy over the pictures and stories I was reading about the gay and lesbian couples that are getting married in San Fransisco and on Valentine’s Day, no less! I know the party will be over tomorrow, when bigots file a request for an injunction that will halt the weddings until legal challenges can proceed, ever so slowly.

But for now I will weep!


February 13th, 2004

I don’t think of myself as well-traveled. I have done a lot of travel, but it’s all been so utilitarian (to conferences, to business meetings, to job interviews, for a move, etc.) that I haven’t thought about how much of it there has been, or how it has changed me. This surprises me because I’m usually a little more self-reflective than that.

So I was quite surprised when I looked at the visited states map, plugged in my data, and found that I’ve visited 39 states. Huh. The number would have been even higher had I included states where I’ve been through an airport, but I didn’t think that was quite fair, so I included only states where I’ve either spent the night or driven across a substantial part of the state.

create your own visited states map

Not for men

February 12th, 2004

It’s always cool to see innovations in birth control technology. I would prefer to see a breakthrough in the male birth control pill, but I’m usually just happy to see anything at all. I think birth control is important from both a personal and public health perspective.

However, I think I would find this new contraceptive spray cool all on its own even without my long-standing interest in the subject. It’s a spray that is administered (to women, of course) through the skin. It delivers hormones right to the blood stream — meaning that fewer hormones can be used to get the same effect as traditional birth control pills, which must make their way through the digestive system before entering the blood stream. I think many women would prefer spraying something on their arm to choking down a tiny pill.

The spray is entering drug trials in Australia, so it will be many, many years — if ever — before we could expect to see something like it here. Which is unfortunate since it is so cool and convenient.

I find it sad that all cutting-edge research in birth control is being done in countries other than the U.S. The logical connection between birth control and abortion should make it obvious to even the most conservative-minded among us that birth control is a good thing. The algrebra is quite simple: if you want to reduce the number of abortions, one step toward that is reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies.

Personally, I want to see better birth control technologies because they would increase our quality of life — I don’t give any part of a rat’s anatomy about birth control’s relation to abortion, since I believe abortion should be free, legal and easily accesible to everyone. But still, there’s a logical connection here that should be made.

All over the world

February 11th, 2004

Old, new diseases taking hold is a analysis of why new diseases like SARS, new strains of old diseases like the bird flu, and old diseases like polio are ravaging the world today. The answers are a complex brew of compacency, cultural practices, fear and confusion that will be hard to overcome. I reccomend the article as an overview of the kinds of problems public health officials are facing world wide.