My son the Heterosexual??

Hilarious! (caution strong language may offend squares)

Some Days

A Dragon is immortal. A Phoenix eternal. Some days there’s just turmoil.

Crisis Grows As Flooded New Orleans Looted

Helicopters dropped sandbags on two broken levees as the water kept rising in the streets. The governor drew up plans to evacuate just about everyone left in town. Looters ransacked stores. Doctors in their scrubs had to use canoes to bring supplies to blacked-out hospitals.

New Orleans sank deeper into crisis Tuesday, a full day after Hurricane Katrina hit.

"It's downtown Baghdad," said tourist Denise Bollinger, who snapped pictures of looting in the French Quarter. "It's insane."

The mayor estimated that 80 percent of New Orleans was flooded, while a countless number of residents were still stranded on rooftops.

It will be interesting to see how many people provide aid to the Gulf Coast in comparison to the Tsunami.

Same shit different century

That’s why ya’ll had to walk from Georgia to Oklahoma in the first place.

An attractive woman with light skin and prominent cheekbones, Scott has the sort of face that might have convinced a Dawes clerk to place her on the blood roll. She tells me she's a descendant of the Perrymans, an illustrious Creek family with a lineage that included a chief in the 1880s, Legus C. Perryman. But for reasons that are lost to time, her ancestors were made Freedmen. "You know, the Dawes Commission would take brothers and sisters and divide them up," she says. "They went by how you looked, and a lot of the Creeks are darker-skinned. So you might be a full-blood and …" Scott trails off in a sad laugh. "I mean, they had no DNA testing back then."

These are boom times for the Five Civilized Tribes of Oklahoma - the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole - due in no small part to the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act that allowed the tribes to construct their own casinos. The Chickasaw's net assets have more than doubled to $315 million in the two years since it opened the mammoth WinStar Casinos complex in Thackerville. The corporate arm of the Cherokee Nation, Cherokee Nation Enterprises, is on track to make nearly $70 million this year thanks to a new casino in Catoosa. Then there's the government reparations fund. In 1990, the Seminoles received a $56 million settlement as compensation for the seizure of the tribe's ancestral lands in Florida almost 200 years ago.

The casino profits and make-good money have increased the standard of living for the recognized members of the tribes who make their homes in some of the poorest areas in the US. Cherokee Nation Enterprises allocates 25 percent of profits to the Cherokee government, which distributes the money in ways designed to help end the cycle of poverty - college scholarships, health care, and low-interest home loans. And the Seminole Nation offers grants for home repairs, which many of the ramshackle structures in Seminole County can sorely use. On the outskirts of Wewoka, the county seat, families loll on wooden porches that seem one gust of wind away from collapse. And so, in recent years, a rush of Indians has come forward to claim tribal citizenship and get their share of the benefits. In 1980, there were 50,000 members of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma; today, there are more than a quarter million. But even as the official ranks of the Five Civilized Tribes have swelled, they've revised membership guidelines to exclude the Freedmen. Not all tribal members reject the merits of the Freedmen's cause. Seventy-year-old John Cornsilk, who is seven-eighths Cherokee, opposed the 1983 decision to rescind Freedmen's voting rights - which he said happened because many Freedmen were backing a progressive candidate running for chief. Tribal leaders, he says, "colluded and drew up a new set of rules that said only people that could produce one of those cards could be a member. What the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma has been doing in regard to disenfranchising the Freedmen is all totally illegal."



Get Your Mind Right

Pretty women scramble men's ability to assess the future:

Psychologists in Canada have finally proved what women have long suspected - men really are irrational enough to risk entire kingdoms to catch sight of a beautiful face. Biologists have long known that animals prefer immediate rewards to greater ones in the future. This process, known as "discounting the future", is found in humans too and is fundamental to many economic models. Resources have a value to individuals that changes through time. For example, immediately available cash is generally worth more than the same amount would be in the future. But greater amounts of money in the future would be worth waiting for under so-called 'rational' discounting. But some people, such as drug addicts, show 'irrational' discounting. For example, preferring a small amount of heroin today rather than a greater amount in the future. Margo Wilson and Martin Daly of McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada decided to investigate discounting behaviour and see if it varied with sexual mood. Male students, when shown pictures of pretty women, were more likely to opt for short-term economic gain than wait for a better reward in the future.


Karl Rove

What the hell happened to Karl Rove and the Plame incident?

How your boss may have a hold on you

The battle royale between Microsoft and Google over the hiring of Kai Fu Lee has once again highlighted a fact of life for many employees in the technology industry that has long been a source of resentment if not outright contempt. Whether bound by trade-secret protections or "non-compete" contracts, many rank-and-filers feel that their career options are severely limited for fear of litigation if they jump ship. The original intent of such agreements, largely to protect an employer's intellectual property, was quickly distorted when companies began using them to prevent losing valuable workers in the hypercompetitive labor market at the height of the dot-com boom.


Verizon gets aggressive on mobile broadband

Verizon Wireless is turning up the heat on the nascent wireless broadband market as it expands into new cities and slashes prices 25 percent. On Monday, the wireless provider, owned by Verizon Communications and

Verizon Wireless is turning up the heat on the nascent wireless broadband market as it expands into new cities and slashes prices 25 percent. On Monday, the wireless provider, owned by Verizon Communications and Vodafone, announced that it is lowering prices on its wireless broadband service to $60 from the previous price of $80 a month. It also announced that it has expanded the service--which is based on a technology called EV-DO, or Evolution-Data Optimized--into seven new markets, bringing the total number of markets served to 60. The new price is only available to customers who also subscribe to a Verizon Wireless voice plan, and it requires customers to sign a two-year contract. The new price cut has surprised some analysts because Verizon Wireless' competitors are just now starting to offer comparable services of their own. "Verizon is acting like it's a price war when there isn't anyone else really competing against them yet," said Albert Lin, a telecom analyst with American Technology Research who first wrote about the price cut in a research note to investors published last week.


Cost-cutting drives outsourcing growth

New research indicates that companies providing IT products and services will continue to increase their use of outsourcing agreements in order to lower overhead expenses. According to a report published Monday by Evans Data, which culls information from developers at tech companies, 33 percent of businesses surveyed intend to increase their use of outsourcing during the next year, while only 6 percent said they are planning to decrease their number of outsourcing pacts. Outsourcing involves the process of transferring work to an outside company rather than keeping it in-house. In terms of overall workload, 45 percent of respondents to the Evans survey said they outsource less than a quarter of their development operations, with only 7 percent reporting that they farm out better than 50 percent of that sort of work.


Big Soda's Publicity Stunt

Move over Big Tobacco, you've got competition in the Shameless PR award category: With much fanfare, the American Beverage Association (the trade group formerly known as the National Soft Drink Association) has announced a new school-based policy "aimed at providing lower calorie and/or nutritious beverages to schools and limiting the availability of soft drinks." The specifics of the policy matter less than the enormous amount of positive press that resulted. Newspaper accounts included such headlines as "Soft drink industry takes high road" and "Schools get ally in soda issue: Drink makers." Unfortunately, the real impact of this move is far different. To begin with, the ABA is the soda makers' lobbying arm and doesn't directly contract with schools. Soda is sold through local distributors controlled by the parent companies. Next, there is no enforcement or oversight mechanism for the voluntary rules. Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola boasted that the new policy mirrored their own, and that should raise plenty of red flags. Coca-Cola's 2003 voluntary "model guidelines" to not sell sodas in elementary schools are already routinely violated. Documented examples include schools in Kentucky and Texas.


The Legacy of Lee Kyung Hae

By John Feffer

The South Korean farmer snaps a cucumber in two to show me the drops of moisture that bead to the surface around the break. "If you put it back together and wait a minute, then it will stick together," Yang Yoon Seok says. Sure enough, he easily rejoins the severed halves and the cucumber is once again whole. He shakes it around in the air, and, like magic, the vegetable remains intact. "It's not magic," he tells me. "It's organic." The Smile Farm is all organic, a little magical, and very possibly the future of Korean agriculture. It's not a huge farm -- only 4000 pyong or a little over 3 acres. On those three acres, though, Farmer Yang grows thirty kinds of vegetables, all of them organic. He supplies organic stores in the South Korean capital of Seoul, sixty kilometers to the north. He also sells produce from a store that fronts the nearby road and distributes vegetables through South Korea's new organic e-farm system on the web. Thousands of visitors a year make the pilgrimage to study Yang's growing and marketing techniques.


China Official: No More Plans for Yuan

The central bank does not plan more abrupt changes in the yuan's value, a senior People's Bank of China official said, squelching speculation over further currency revaluations ahead of a meeting of top international finance officials later this week in China. But the yuan on Monday climbed to its highest level since its July 21 revaluation as the comments by Ma Delun, a deputy governor of the People's Bank of China, suggested authorities will let allow the yuan appreciate in the foreign exchange market. "Right now we often hear corporates and all sorts of people all asking when is the next time the foreign exchange rate will be adjusted again," Ma said, according to Monday's issue of China Business News. "I'd like to tell everyone, the next change in the (yuan exchange rate level) is happening everyday, every hour it is going on," Ma said in a speech given over the weekend at a conference in the southern city of Shenzhen. "The next adjustment will come in the foreign exchange market," Ma said. The yuan rose to 8.0954 to the dollar Monday, its highest close since July 21, when authorities revalued the currency at 8.11 yuan to the U.S. dollar, up about 2 percent from the previous rate of 8.27 yuan.



Greenspan warns about potential housing bubble

If house prices were to fall suddenly or if interest rates were to rise rapidly, some local housing markets, homeowners and lenders could get clobbered.

The world's most powerful economist has this cautionary message for those figuring their home values will keep right on rising: What goes up often comes down. Hard. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who has spent a half century observing financial conditions, says "history has not dealt kindly" with those who figure the good times won't end. And in a message aimed more at policy-makers, he said bloated trade and budget deficits threaten the long-term health of the U.S. economy. His warnings, made at a high-profile economic policy conference, came as the Fed chief and prominent economists pondered his 18 years at the central bank and the legacy he will leave. He is expected to step down in five months. Rising house and stock prices have made many people feel more wealthy and have helped to support consumer spending, a key ingredient of the economy's good health. Greenspan, however, said people shouldn't count on that paper wealth, which can evaporate if economic conditions deteriorate rapidly. "What they perceive as newly abundant liquidity can readily disappear," he said. "Any onset of increased investor caution" could cause home and stock prices to drop, he noted. A long spell of low interest rates and low risks for investors has especially encouraged investment in homes. Greenspan worried about what would happen if that climate were to change. "History has not dealt kindly with the aftermath of protracted periods of low-risk premiums," he said.


Equity Is Altering Spending Habits and View of Debt

Here we go!

As they happily watch their houses swell in value, Americans are changing their attitudes toward mortgage debt. Increasingly, a home is no longer a nest egg whose equity should never be touched, but a seemingly magical ATM enabling the owner to live it up or just live. Homeowners took $59 billion in cash out of their houses in the second quarter, double the amount in the 2004 quarter and 16 times the average rate of the mid-1990s, according to data released this month by mortgage giant Freddie Mac. People are cashing out so quickly that the term "homeowner" may soon be inaccurate. Fifty years ago, Americans owned, on average, three-quarters of their house and the lender owned the rest. These days, it's approaching an even split. This spend-now-rather-than-save-for-later phenomenon has produced undeniable benefits. Experts attribute much of the nation's economic growth to cash-out refinancings, home equity loans and other methods of tapping rising home values. And additional real estate investments financed by home equity have contributed to the rising home prices that bring owners such pleasure. But the spending spree has a price. With the savings rate at zero, consumers' eagerness to tap home equity is only worsening their retirement outlook, financial advisors say. If mortgage rates rise sharply or home prices fall, many homeowners could be in financial turmoil. They may be unable to service their loans, or could even find that their homes are worth less than their mortgages.


Britain's elite get pills to survive bird flu

MEMBERS of Britain’s elite have been selected as priority cases to receive scarce pills and vaccinations at the taxpayers’ expense if the country is hit by a deadly bird flu outbreak. Workers at the BBC and prominent politicians — such as cabinet ministers — would be offered protection from the virus. Ken Livingstone, the London mayor, has already spent £1m to make sure his personal office and employees have their own emergency supplies of 100,000 antiviral tablets. If there is an avian flu pandemic in the coming months there would be enough drugs to protect less than 2% of the British population for a week. The Department of Health has drawn up a priority list of those who would be first to receive lifesaving drugs. Top of the list are health workers followed by those in key public sector jobs.


Oil surges over $70 on Katrina

U.S. oil prices surged to a record above $70 a barrel on Monday as one of the country's biggest storms tore through the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, forcing oil producers and refiners to shut down operations. U.S. crude oil futures soared nearly $5 a barrel in opening trade to touch a fresh peak of $70.80 a barrel, surpassing last week's $68 high to the highest price since the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) began trading contracts in 1983. It later traded up $3.42 a barrel, 5.2 percent, at $69.55. Oil product and natural gas prices also shot higher to records, with gasoline soaring 10 percent to $2.13 a gallon and heating oil rocketing past $2 a gallon for the first time. Natural gas prices were up 20 percent.



1918 Flu Epidemic

The Spanish Flu Pandemic, also known as the Great Influenza Pandemic, the 1918 Flu Epidemic, and La Grippe, was an unusually severe and deadly strain of influenza, a viral infectious disease, that killed some 25 million to 50 million people worldwide in 1918 and 1919. It is thought to have been one of the most deadly pandemics so far in human history.

The nations of the Allied side of World War I frequently called it the "Spanish Flu." This was mainly because the pandemic received greater press attention in Spain than in the rest of the world, because Spain was not involved in the war and there was no wartime censorship. In Spain it was called "The French Flu". Spain did have one of the worst early outbreaks of the disease, with some 8 million people infected in May 1918. It was also known as "only the flu" or "the grippe" by public health officials seeking to prevent panic.


H5N1 is a highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza (also known as bird flu). It was first isolated in terns in South Africa in 1961. The first known appearance of this type of flu in humans was in Hong Kong during 1997. The name refers to the subtypes of surface antigens present on the virus, Hemagglutinin type 5, and Neuraminidase type 1.


BurnLounge Makes Anyone a Music Download Retailer


Move over iTunes, that’s all I can say. Why? Read this:

“Startup digital music company BurnLounge wants to democratize the music retail business. The Web-based service provides the music library, e-commerce tools and business management software for virtually anyone to own and operate their own digital download store. The company’s founders hope to recruit everyday music fans, allowing each to decide which acts they want to feature and promote, as a sort of digital guerrilla marketing play. ”It’s the reincarnation of the corner record store,” BurnLounge president/COO and co-founder Ryan Dadd says. “This whole concept is about the next generation of retail. It’s about marketing to affinity groups, to people with shared interests.”


DOS Games

That’s right folks. For all you lab rats, geeks, and cot hoppers:

426 DOS games

Jolt and Yoo-hoo! Sold separately

Communications industry rebounding but Internet throws up new challenges, says OECD

The communications industry has returned to profitability but developments in Internet technology are challenging the role and business model of traditional telecoms companies, creating pressures for a new approach to industry regulation, according to the OECD’s Communications Outlook 2005. The growing popularity of Internet telephony, or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), threatens the fixed-line revenues of traditional carriers, especially for international calls, the OECD report concludes. In addition, however, VoIP presents a challenge to mobile telephones, which in many countries are now more numerous than fixed connections.


Chavez offers cheap gas to poor in U.S.

Can you believe the fuckin’ Balls on this guy? I love it!

HAVANA, Cuba (Reuters) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, popular with the poor at home, offered on Tuesday to help needy Americans with cheap supplies of gasoline. "We want to sell gasoline and heating fuel directly to poor communities in the United States," the populist leader told reporters at the end of a visit to Communist-run Cuba. Chavez did not say how Venezuela would go about providing gasoline to poor communities. Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA owns Citgo, which has 14,000 gas stations in the United States. The offer may sound attractive to Americans feeling pinched by soaring prices at the pump but not to the U.S. government, which sees Chavez as a left-wing troublemaker in Latin America. Gasoline is cheaper than mineral water in oil-producing Venezuela, where consumers can fill their tanks for less than $2. Average gas prices have risen to $2.61 a gallon in the United States, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Chavez said Venezuela could supply gasoline to Americans at half the price they now pay if intermediaries who "speculated ... and exploited consumers" were cut out.



The Afro-Latino Connection

The most recent census reported that of 38.8 million Hispanics in the United States, 1.7 million identify themselves as both Hispanic and African in origin. Many believe this number could be higher, closer to 3.9 million. Historically, attempts by Latinos and African Americans to forge economic, political, and social alliances have yielded lackluster results. "Afro-Latinos, many of whom feel comfortable in both communities, could be the key to a much needed business and political link between America's largest minority groups," reports Features Editor Alan Hughes in the BLACK ENTERPRISE February feature "The Afro-Latino Connection." Hughes reports the merits of bringing these groups together from a business standpoint are considerable. "If we were to combine the African American and Hispanic community, it means a purchasing power block of $1 trillion dollars," says George Herrera, former president and CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. "That kind of strength can basically make industry come to a standstill. Power within our communities lays in our discretionary purchasing with corporate America, to be able to change the corporate landscape, and change the dialogue of how corporate America deals with our communities." As Afro-Latinos embrace both sides of their heritage, they may provide the bridge to connect both communities.


Conn. Challenges No Child Left Behind Law

"Our message today is give up the unfunded mandates, or give us the money"

Connecticut on Monday became the first state to challenge the No Child Left Behind law in court, arguing that the centerpiece of President Bush's education law amounts to an unfunded mandate from the federal government. "Our message today is give up the unfunded mandates, or give us the money," said Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. The lawsuit raises the stakes in a heated fight between states and the Bush administration over the law, and experts say Legislatures around the country will be watching the case carefully. Experts expect that states could vote to join the lawsuit or file their own. The lawsuit argues that No Child Left Behind is illegal because it requires expensive standardized tests and other school programs that the government doesn't pay for. It asks a federal judge to declare that state and local money cannot be used to meet the law's goals.


Where Gates Bests Jobs

by Dana Blankenhorn

Where Bill Gates bests Steve Jobs, and always has, is in his willingness to build ecosystems. Windows is an ecosystem. Microsoft is the biggest fish in that ecosystem. Since 1995, Windows has been eating the other fish in that ecosystem, but fish do that. It's still an ecosystem. Apple has never been comfortable with living in an ecosystem. Apple builds products, not ecosystems. There were never any second-source Macintosh hardware producers with Jobs in charge, and they were all killed off when he returned.


Ma Bell at it Again or something like that

A Great post on the state of our telecom infrastructure.

Those who understand that IP represents a fundamental shift in the concept of telecommunications or, to put it more correctly, “tele/communications”, find themselves unwelcome. The regulatory system lacks the essential vocabulary to challenge its premises – you can comment on whether DSL is an information service or not but you can't say that it's a meaningless question. The term “broadband” is a good example. When carriers talk about broadband, they are referring to the fiber technology of which they share only 1%. When the FCC justifies a broadband policy, it classifies anything slightly better than dial up a broadband so it can claim that we are not behind countries offering consumers 100mbps services and above.


Star Trek Phone

The cool gadgetry on the classic TV series has made dreamers drool since the first time Captain Kirk barked the words "Beam me up, Scotty!" into his little black box and snapped it shut. But this is the first time Viacom, which owns the rights to the TV and movie franchise, has put its licensed imprint on such a device. The special-edition Star Trek Communicator Phone is part of the ramping-up of events and promotions tied to the 40th anniversary of the Star Trek franchise next year. But the timing was also right because "the technology is better now," said Sandi Isaacs, VP of interactive at Viacom Consumer Products. "With the prior generations of handsets and mobiles, it was really hard to give consumers a rich experience."



Bankruptcy filings up as law takes effect

Bankruptcy filings in U.S. federal courts jumped 16 percent in the quarter ended June 30 from the previous period as individuals rushed to file before a tougher law takes effect, a report from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Court showed on Wednesday. The quarterly total was the highest level of bankruptcy filings on record under a data series dating to the March 1995 period, the first quarter for which figures are available, a spokeswoman at the Administrative Office said. In the April-to-June quarter, just prior to and in the three months after a new federal bankruptcy act became law, filings totaled 467,333, up 66,000 from the previous period. Compared with a year ago, filings rose 11 percent, the Administrative Office said. Filings in the 12 months ended June 30 rose 0.1 percent to 1.64 million from the comparable period a year ago. The Administrative Office of the U.S. Court said the overall increase in filings was primarily fueled by a surge in Chapter 7 filings, which calls for the liquidation of assets but allows filers to keep some property, such as a primary residence. A new law passed earlier this year makes it tougher for individuals to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, forcing them instead to file under Chapter 13, which places debtors in repayment plans. The act became law on April 20, although many of its provisions will take effect on Oct. 17.


Malaysia sect detainees test law

Two Malaysians charged with belonging to a deviant religious sect are applying to test the nation's guarantees of religious freedom. They were among a number of people arrested at the home of an inter-faith group known as the Sky Kingdom.

The group's leader says he was sent by God, and preaches religious tolerance.

The pair argue that they had renounced Islam, and therefore did not break an edict banning Muslims from associating with the group. Known as much for building a giant teapot structure as for its teachings, the Sky Kingdom has often been criticised for luring adherents away from Islam. Police moved in to the group's compound in the state of Terengganu in early July, and arrested 21 people. All were charged in an Islamic court with breaking a fatwa, an edict issued by the state's Islamic authorities. Two of them are now set to challenge that charge by arguing that they had renounced their faith.


The Aristocrats


Looking at photo reveals cultural differences

You mean everyone doesn’t see things the same as we do?

Are white folk really this obtuse?


Asians and North Americans really do see the world differently. Shown a photograph, North American students of European background paid more attention to the object in the foreground of a scene, while students from China spent more time studying the background and taking in the whole scene, according to University of Michigan researchers. The researchers, led by Hannah-Faye Chua and Richard Nisbett, tracked the eye movements of the students -- 25 European Americans and 27 native Chinese -- to determine where they were looking in a picture and how long they focused on a particular area. "They literally are seeing the world differently," said Nisbett. "Asians live in a more socially complicated world than we do," he said. "They have to pay more attention to others than we do. We are individualists. We can be bulls in a china shop; they can't afford it." The findings are reported in today's issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Those who would repeat history . . .

By Kir Slevin

So this summer, the President is reading Salt: A World History. That is, when he gets done with Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar. Or maybe he's first reading The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History. I'm not sure of the order, but I am surprised. Not even I, a bona fide Ph.D. nerd addicted to books with footnotes, read tomes like this on vacation. My 400-page summer books are by Lisa Scottoline. So am I impressed? Well, not really. Apparently the media was not either; of major papers, only the L.A. Times covered the booklist as straight news. Makes you wonder if the mainstream outlets are catching on, finally, and that they saw the administration's attempt to portray Bush as an intellectual as what it was: a big lie, the deliberate seeding of misinformation. It's not the first or only "big lie," of course, to come out of this administration. When you google "big lie" you get 500,000 results, and if you refine your search with "Bush" and "Iraq," you get 110,000 results. Nearly a quarter of recent discourse about the "big lie" concerns Bush's Iraq fiasco, and surely a few tens of thousands more also cover Bush administration lies about global warming, private Social Security accounts, the deficit, James "Jeff Gannon" Guckert, Valerie Plame, Terry Schiavo, Intelligent Design, and just about every other issue that has come before it. (And, yes, some of the discourse accuses liberals of using varieties of the "big lie" to attack Bush -- in particular labeling the truthful accusation that Bush has been deceptive as a "big lie" itself!)



Dating the Next Recession

The next U.S. recession will start in earnest on October 17. (If it hasn't already.)

That's the day the new bankruptcy law kicks-in, and credit card banks get hit by a double-whammy of their own creation. (Illustration is from Howstuffworks.) Be careful of what you ask for, because you just might get it:

  1. Borrowers must begain paying back credit card loans based on a 10-year payback, doubling many minimum balances, and
  2. New rules force borrowers to repay those debts, even after filing bankruptcy.

How can this be bad for banks, who after all pushed for the legislation?


'There are freaks of nature, but not enough to fill an NFL roster'



Common sense and science have been warning for some time that we're pushing athletes toward the limits of size, speed and toughness without regard for how they get there, or stay there. Even so, there remains no shortage of kids willing to risk everything for the opportunity. By most accounts, 23-year-old Thomas Herrion was one of those. He hung on with the Dallas Cowboys until the final cuts at training camp last fall, played in NFL Europe earlier this year, spent much of the summer working out in the sweltering East Texas heat and was chasing a spot on San Francisco's roster when he collapsed and died just a few minutes after walking off the field after a preseason game in Denver late Saturday night. The reason Herrion worked so hard to stick with the 49ers, he told pals, was so he could buy a house for his mother.


Broadcasting Live From ... the Basement

By Giselle Velazquez, Pop and Politics

Geography was destiny for Karoline Hatch.

"My parents live on top of the hill in [San Francisco's] the Castro, and they have an amazing view," explains Hatch. "One time I was over at their house and I thought, this would be a great place for a radio station..." Years of lawsuits, protests, busted doors, and one FCC raid later, San Francisco Liberation Radio is still coming out live from the Hatch family basement. In an era where radio behemoths like Clear Channel and Infinity rule the airwaves, pirate station Liberation Radio has struggled since 1993 to broadcast news, music, community information, and more to its local listeners. The station was founded by a small group of people deeply unsatisfied with mainstream coverage of issues such as the Gulf War and the treatment of the homeless in San Francisco. Twice denied the exceedingly difficult-to-obtain license the Federal Communications Commission deems necessary for low-power community radio stations to legally operate, Liberation Radio defiantly stayed on the airwaves and continued to broadcast. Like other microradio stations which operate illegally, the station has frequently incurred the wrath of the FCC, which tightly controls the public airwaves.


Howard warns against 'judicial activism'

Michael Howard today warned Britain's judges that "aggressive judicial activism" could put the country's safety from terrorists at risk, and undermine public faith in the justice system. Echoing recent complaints from the prime minister about judicial opposition to anti-terror measures, the Conservative leader repeated his pledge to repeal Britain's Human Rights Act in order to give the government more power to deport extremist Islamist clerics. Mr Howard - like Mr Blair a former lawyer - broke the usual August truce between the parties to launch his attack on the judiciary, and the government's approach to it, both in the Daily Telegraph and on the BBC. Mr Howard cited the law lords' decision last year that the indefinite detention without trial of foreign terror suspects under the 2001 Anti-Terrorism Act contravened the Human Rights Act, and referred to the difficulties the latter act creates for deporting extremists to countries where they may face persecution or torture. He said explicitly that political intervention by judges "could put our security at risk".


Lawyers who briefed against Olympic bid claim £1m from public funds


Lawyers and other professionals advising the owners of the key tracts of land needed to stage the 2012 Olympic games have been branded fat cats after claiming £1.2m in fees from public funds. Officials from the London Development Agency (LDA), the body responsible for buying the land needed to stage the Olympics, have accused some of the representatives of landowners on the site of the proposed Olympic village of submitting unjustifiable invoices. The Guardian understands the LDA has valued the work required at no more than £500,000. The LDA claims one firm has charged more than five times the value of the work it considered necessary, invoicing for £430,000 when £80,000 would have sufficed. The LDA is in turn being threatened with legal action to hand over the full amount. Two companies are involved in the dispute: the solicitors Finer Stephens Innocent (FIS) which has claimed £757,000 in legal fees and the Balcombe Group, a company involved in "claims management" which is charging the £430,000. A third firm, Jones Lang LaSalle which specialises in property, has claimed £130,000 which is accepted by the LDA.


DRM problems and iTunes

from Copyfight by Donna Wentworth

Via the Pho list, the Dave Matthews Band giving fans directions for dealing with DRM-hobbled CDs and encouraging them to appeal to Apple to collaborate with others on an easier way to move music to the iPod:
Please follow the instructions below in order to move your content into iTunes and onto an iPod: If you have a Mac computer you can copy the songs using your iTunes Player as you would normally do. If you have a PC place the CD into your computer and allow the CD to automatically start. If the CD does not automatically start, open your Windows Explorer, locate the drive letter for your CD drive and double-click on the LaunchCD.exe file located on your CD. [...endless instructions...] Once the CD has been burned, place the copied CD back into your computer and open iTunes. iTunes can now rip the songs as you would a normal CD. Please note an easier and more acceptable solution requires cooperation from Apple, who we have already reached out to in hopes of addressing this issue. To help speed this effort, we ask that you use the following link to contact Apple and ask them to provide a solution that would easily allow you to move content from protected CDs into iTunes or onto your iPod rather than having to go through the additional steps above. Link.



Steve Jobs' Commencement Address

A dear friend of mine sent this to me.

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the
finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be
told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I
want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just
three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed
around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why
did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed
college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She
felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so
everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his
wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that
they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a
call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do
you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out
that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never
graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers.
She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would
someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that
was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents'
savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't
see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no
idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending
all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to
drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the
time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The
minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't
interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor
in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food
with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one
good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I
stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be
priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction
in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every
drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and
didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy
class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif
typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter
combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful,
historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I
found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But
ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all
came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first
computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single
course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or
proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its
likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped
out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal
computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it
was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college.
But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them
looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect
in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life,
karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all
the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky - I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started
Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years
Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion
company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation -
the Macintosh - a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got
fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew
we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me,
and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the
future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did,
our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly
out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was

I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the
previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as
it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried
to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I
even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began
to dawn on me - I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had
not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And
so I decided to start over.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was
the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being
successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less
sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods
of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company
named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my
wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature
film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the
world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I retuned to
Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's
current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from
Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it.
Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm
convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I
did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as
it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life,
and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great
work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you
haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the
heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it
just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you
find it. Don't settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each
day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made
an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in
the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my
life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the
answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever
encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost
everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment
or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only
what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best
way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are
already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the
morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know
what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of
cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than
three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in
order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell
your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them
in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so
that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy,
where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my
intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the
tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they
viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it
turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with
surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.

This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope its the closest I
get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to
you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely
intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die
to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever
escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the
single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the
old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too
long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry
to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be
trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's
thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner
voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and
intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.
Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth
Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a
fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought
it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before
personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with
typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in
paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and
overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and
then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the
mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a
photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find
yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the
words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they
signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for
myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

License to Lynch: Footage Contradicts London Police Reports

A Brazilian shot to death a day after botched bombings in London had walked casually onto a train before being gunned down by undercover officers, according to leaked footage that appeared to contradict earlier police reports that said the man disobeyed police orders. Jean Charles de Menezes, a 27-year-old electrician, was shot eight times last month in front of terrified commuters on a subway train, after undercover police tailed him from a house under surveillance. Police first said the shooting was related to the failed bombings on the London transit system July 21 — two weeks after four suspected suicide bombers blew themselves up in three Underground stations and aboard one double-decker bus. Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, called the death regrettable, but said it appeared "the man was challenged and refused to obey police instructions." Citing security footage, a British television station reported Tuesday that Menezes entered the Stockwell subway station at a normal walking pace, stopping to pick up a newspaper before boarding a train and taking a seat. The ITV News broadcast, citing an investigation report into the shooting, also said Menezes was wearing a light denim jacket when he was shot seven times in the head and once in the shoulder. Witness reports described a terrifying scene of the man — wearing a bulky jacket on a warm July day — running through the train station, being tackled by a group of undercover police officers, then being shot several times at close range. The Independent Police Complaints Commission, which is investigating the shooting, refused Wednesday to comment on the veracity of the documents cited by ITV News. A police spokeswoman also refused to explain what Blair meant when he said it appeared Menezes disobeyed orders. She noted, however, that police never said Menezes had tried to vault the barriers at the Underground station or tried to run from police. Lawyer Harriet Wistrich, acting for the Brazilian's family, said police had no reason to suspect Menezes was a bomber. "He was not carrying a rucksack. He simply had a denim jacket," Wistrich told British Broadcasting Corp. TV. "Was it necessary to shoot him dead as opposed to trying to confront him at an earlier stage? There was no indication he was about to blow himself up at all."


Erotic images can turn you blind

Researchers have finally found evidence for what good Catholic boys have known all along – erotic images make you go blind. The effect is temporary and lasts just a moment, but the research has added to road-safety campaigners’ calls to ban sexy billboard-advertising near busy roads, in the hope of preventing accidents. The new study by US psychologists found that people shown erotic or gory images frequently fail to process images they see immediately afterwards. And the researchers say some personality types appear to be affected more than others by the phenomenon, known as “emotion-induced blindness”.


Our Junk Food Nation

By Juliet B. Schor and Gary Ruskin

In recent months the major food companies have been trying hard to convince Americans that they feel the pain of our expanding waistlines, especially when it comes to kids. Kraft announced it would no longer market Oreos to younger children, McDonald's promoted itself as a salad producer and Coca-Cola said it won't advertise to kids under 12. But behind the scenes it's hardball as usual, with the junk food giants pushing the Bush Administration to defend their interests. The recent conflict over what America eats, and the way the government promotes food, is a disturbing example of how in Bush's America corporate interests trump public health, public opinion and plain old common sense. The latest salvo in the war on added sugar and fat came July 14- 15, when the Federal Trade Commission held hearings on childhood obesity and food marketing. Despite the fanfare, industry had no cause for concern; FTC chair Deborah Majoras had declared beforehand that the commission will do absolutely nothing to stop the rising flood of junk food advertising to children. In June the Department of Agriculture denied a request from our group Commercial Alert to enforce existing rules forbidding mealtime sales in school cafeterias of "foods of minimal nutritional value" -- i.e., junk foods and soda pop. The department admitted that it didn't know whether schools are complying with the rules, but, frankly, it doesn't give a damn. "At this time, we do not intend to undertake the activities or measures recommended in your petition," wrote Stanley Garnett, head of the USDA's Child Nutrition Division.


The Iraq War as Entertainment

By James Westcott

Images of the Iraq war are superabundant, and, in contrast to the CNN videogame simulations of the Gulf War, the style is now raw, on-the-ground, and usually in-your-face. They come not just from CNN, but from an overwhelming array of sources: frontline blogs, digital photos, terrorists' snuff movies, al-Jazeera footage of collateral damage, embedded news reports, short "War Zone" films, a dramatization of the war on cable TV, and a plethora of indy exposé documentaries like Gunner Palace, Uncovered: The Truth About the Iraq War, and Control Room. The amateur internet and digital footage is usually too repulsive to watch, and even when it's not, a feeling of unseemly access attends it - should we really be watching this? But the slick, produced material on the news, on cable, and in the cinema - where most people still absorb Iraq, despite the new digital frontiers - now aspires to the rawness of the amateur stuff. Different genres of representation are melding together. Revelations and hard-hitting drama are promised, unprecedented access is granted, and a total view seems possible. What we're left with, though, is an increasing A.D.D. about Iraq - an inevitable effect of the glut of representations of the war, all of which claim to bring it all back home like never before. But they pose an ethical dilemma: Is it acceptable to be entertained by an "epic series" like FX's "Over There" while the war is still happening?


Free Speech: Going, Going ...

Molly Ivins

Eternal vigilance is the price of ... um, well, guess we can't say that anymore. We might get sued. Mostly when we think of threats to free speech, it's government actions or laws we have in mind -- the usual bizarre stuff like veggie libel laws or attempts to keep government actions or meetings secret from the public. Sometimes you get a political case, like then-Gov. George W. Bush's effort to stop a Bush-parody site on the Internet. The parody, run by a 29-year-old computer programmer in Boston named Zack Exley, annoyed Bush so much that he called Exley "a garbageman" and said, "There ought to be limits to freedom." (That's not a parody -- he actually said that.) Bush's lawyers warned Exley that he faced a lawsuit. Then they filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission demanding that Exley be forced to register his parody site with the FEC and have it regulated as a political committee.



Surveillance State

The Government is creating a system of "mass public surveillance" capable of tracking every adult in Britain without their consent, MPs say. They warn that people who have never committed a crime can be "electronically monitored" without their knowledge.

Biometric facial scans, which will be compulsory with ID cards, are to be put on a national database which can then be matched with images from CCTV. The database of faces will enable police and security services to track individuals regardless of whether they have broken the law. CCTV surveillance footage from streets, shops and even shopping centers could be cross-referenced with photographs of every adult in the UK once the ID cards Bill becomes law. Biometric facial scans, iris scans and fingerprints of all adults in the UK will be stored on a national database. Civil liberties groups say the plans are a "dangerous" threat to people's privacy. Mark Oaten, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said the plans were being brought in by the Government without informing the public. "A new system capable of mass public surveillance is being created with no public debate. The arrival of CCTV cameras which can recognize you and track you without your knowledge means we are stepping into an unknown future," he said.


Rebuilding a Hawaiian Kingdom

WAIMANALO, Hawaii — From Honolulu, it takes an hour to drive here, heading north over dagger-like mountains and then east through rolling farm country to the outermost corner of the island known by some as the Hawaiians' Hawaii. Tour buses circling the island don't stop here except to gas up. Those who step off the bus won't find hula dancers greeting them with leis, or five-star hotels, or even two-star ones. They'll find a sleepy, rough-edged, working-class town of 10,000 people, some of whom don't like tourists and don't mind saying so. "Haole, go home!" and variations of whites-aren't-welcome are occasionally shouted from front porches as a reminder that this isn't Waikiki. It's a different world. Locals rule here. Half the residents are native Hawaiians, and many more are part Hawaiian. This is a place where Hawaiian is taught as a first language in some schools and spoken among neighbors, a place where it is widely held that Hawaii was stolen by the United States and that someday these lands will return to the Kanaka Maoli, the ancient Polynesians who settled the islands.


Cycle XXX: Genesis

Out of Nu, Tefnut spoke:

Ra Maat Jeshu

Life is Too Short


China makes bid for PetroKazakhstan

A joint venture between PetroChina and China National Petroleum Corp, its unlisted parent, offered to pay about US$3.2 billion (HK$24.9 billion) for Central Asian oil producer PetroKazakhstan, a source familiar with the situation said. That puts China's largest integrated oil firm in direct competition with India's Oil & Natural Gas Corp, that country's biggest energy firm. In conjunction with London-based steel billionaire Lakshmi Mittal, it offered US$3.5 billion for PetroKazakh, according to a source familiar with the situation. The company has a market value of US$3.3 billion, based on its closing share price Monday on the Toronto Stock Exchange. "One of our key strategies is to focus on oil and gas assets that are closer to home because of China's oil needs,'' a source at PetroChina said. "We plan to transport the oil through the China-Kakakhstan pipeline to our refinery in Dushanzi in Xinjiang in northwest China.''


Deadly pork in market

Told you. Swine is bad for you.

China's deadly swine disease appears to have made its way into pork sold at one of Hong Kong's leading supermarket chains. Government health sources confirmed Tuesday that a 44-year-old male butcher working in the fresh pork section of a Wellcome Supermarket at Leung King Estate in Tuen Mun was admitted to Tuen Mun Hospital Friday suffering from a fever caused by the Streptococcus suis bacteria that has claimed 39 lives and infected more than 200 people in Sichuan province.


Doctors' Links With Investors Raise Concerns

Big Pharma at it again.

At first, the calls seemed innocuous. Investment companies were offering Dr. Ronald B. Natale $200 or $300 for 15 minutes, asking that he discuss general trends in lung cancer, sometimes over the telephone. But Dr. Natale became suspicious as the money offers kept growing, just before he was to present the case for Iressa, a new lung cancer drug, to a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel in September 2002. Dr. Natale's access to research data on Iressa made him an attractive source for investment researchers seeking inside information. "Wow, they were offering $1,000, $1,500, for 30 minutes of my time," said Dr. Natale, a prominent researcher at Cedars-Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Center in Los Angeles. He said he routinely turned down offers to speak to investors. While Dr. Natale has qualms, other doctors apparently do not. Nearly 10 percent of the nation's 700,000 doctors have signed up as consultants with a new segment of the investment industry - companies that act as the of the investment world, according to an article in The Journal of the American Medical Association. For a fee, they arrange conversations between investors and leading professionals, experts or even employees of major companies.


Koizumi Apologizes for War; Embraces China and South Korea

I tell you the U.S. really has a way of bringing folks together. Not good.

TOKYO, Aug. 15 - Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi observed the 60th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II on Monday by apologizing for the country's past militarism in Asia and pledging to uphold its postwar pacifism. In a speech at a government-sponsored memorial service at the Nippon Budokan hall here, Mr. Koizumi also reached out directly to China and South Korea by saying that the three nations should work together "in maintaining peace and aiming at development in the region." Mr. Koizumi joined Emperor Akihito, who said he hoped that "the horrors of war will never be repeated," in bowing before an altar of chrysanthemums. Exactly sixty years ago, the emperor's father, Emperor Hirohito, spoke directly to the Japanese people for the first time when he announced Japan's surrender over the radio, saying they should "bear the unbearable and endure the unendurable." In the first apology delivered on Aug. 15 by a prime minister since the 50th anniversary of the war's end, Mr. Koizumi said: "Our country has caused tremendous damage and pain to the peoples of many countries, especially Asian countries, through colonial rule and invasion. Humbly acknowledging such facts of history, I once again reflect most deeply and offer apologies from my heart."


Diller to Sell Stake in Vivendi for $3.4 Billion

Media is one big happy family. Incestuous but happy.


Barry Diller, the former Hollywood executive turned Internet media mogul, has agreed to sell his 5.4 percent stake in Vivendi Universal Entertainment to NBC Universal for $3.4 billion, signaling a shift in interest from television to Internet services and retailing. The deal ends the litigious relationship between Mr. Diller, the chairman and chief executive of the Internet conglomerate IAC/Interactive Corp, based in New York, and Vivendi Universal. It also frees the former head of the Paramount and Fox movie studios to pursue his purchase of the Internet search engine Ask Jeeves to compete for online advertising with other search engines, like Google. "It seems he wants to orient IAC more toward the Internet business rather than entertainment," said Joe Bonner, a securities analyst for Argus Research in New York, which has no banking relationships and does not own shares of IAC. "It's a smart move for him, especially now with Internet advertising growing by leaps and bounds."



DRM Sucks!

from Copyfight by Donna Wentworth

Professors are always on the look-out for the "teachable" moment -- that all-too-rare real-life situation that helps demonstrate an abstract, difficult-to-teach point. That's part of why I was morbidly fascinated to hear about the roll-out of "copy-protected" (DRM-hobbled) electronic textbooks at Princeton University, where Edward Felten teaches computer science while writing -- brilliantly -- about how DRM and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) conspire against learning.

There was no book-cracking, but I was hardly disappointed. Professor Felten took the opportunity to distinguish between simply disliking DRM products in the marketplace (don't buy it) and disliking DRM + law and policy like the DMCA because it interferes with the marketplace (you're screwed). "The problem with DRM is not that bad products can be offered, but that public policy sometimes protects bad products by thwarting the free market and the free flow of ideas," he wrote. "The market will kill DRM, if the market is allowed to operate."

I suppose we can see "the market" at work in the electronic textbook company's decision [PDF] to extend the period of time before the digital ink disappears from these "books" (now you can get a year or more of still-restricted use). I can't get very excited about it, though. The move from analog to digital always seems to mean leaving behind the traditional rights and freedoms that nurture real learning. Sure, you'll pay less for hobbled textbook than you would the real thing, but you also pay less for a McDonald's hamburger than you do for one that's actually good for you.


P2P Now Number 2

from Copyfight by Alan Wexelblat

Back in June, NPD Group raised some eyebrows (including in this blog) with a claim that iTunes was the second-most popular music download site, surpassing many free P2P sites. Derek Slater commented that the NPD study was "worthless." Well, NPD are back again, and their latest message is resonating with the RIAA. According to an AP story (here on NPD are claiming that burned CDs accounted for a larger percentage of music obtained by fans than downloads did. The RIAA are, of course, pointing to this as a justification for more copy-prevention. A very telling quote appears at the end of the AP story, where Virgin Entertainment Group International's CEO Simon Wright is quoted as saying: If, particularly, the technology allows two-to-three burns, that's well within acceptable limits and I don't think why consumers should have any complaints. And that, boys and girls, is the nub of the problem. The Cartel believes it should be able to extend its control past the sale of the product, past what the law might say, and into your and my houses and cars. Let's take a real-world example: my neighbors have two adult children that live with them. So that's four cars, and at least three CD systems in one household. How many copies of a given CD purchase should that family be allowed to make? None? One? Seven? And why does Wright think that my neighbors shouldn't complain if he makes it impossible for them all to enjoy their purchases?


Liabilities make e-mail more dispensable

Alberto Gonzales won't do it anymore, and President Bush hasn't done it in years. It got Harry Stonecipher fired from the top post at Boeing Co., and it earned investment banker Frank Quattrone an 18-month prison sentence.The culprit? E-mail. Indispensable for uniting workplaces and private lives, e-mail has proven adept at bringing down highflying careers as well. Those billions of electronic messages lurking in cyberspace have provided the smoking gun in scandal after scandal. Among top officials in government and business, balancing the benefits of e-mail with its potential pitfalls has become a difficult judgment call. With the number of messages skyrocketing, nearly every corporation and arm of government has imposed common-sense guidelines for e-mailing. Many use sophisticated software to actively monitor traffic for potential problems.


Merc builds path into Asian market with conference in China


The Chicago Mercantile Exchange will co-host a conference in Shanghai next month as part of an effort to eventually have Chinese banks and other companies use the Merc's contracts to protect against swings in interest rates or currencies. The conference with the Shanghai Stock Exchange and the Shanghai Futures Exchange will educate government officials in futures trading, said Richard Redding, the Merc's managing director for products. China, Asia's biggest economy after Japan, last month shifted its decade-long peg of the yuan, a denomination of the renminbi, away from the dollar to a basket of currencies. This week it allowed companies that export or import at least $2 billion a year to trade yuan directly with banks, a step that allows hedging. "This is a tangible, visible educational effort to get Chinese regulators, government officials -- some of the futures commission merchants will be there, too -- to begin, when the time is appropriate, trading our products and other products as well," Redding said. "Asia is an attractive market to us." Futures are agreements to buy or sell assets at a set date and price, and investors use them to guard, or hedge, against fluctuations in the value of those assets. They are a type of derivative, which is a broader category of financial obligations whose value is derived from interest rates, debt, equities, commodities or other assets. "The promise of China's continued economic expansion offers valuable opportunities to develop its derivatives markets for hedging and risk management of financial exposures," Merc Chief Executive Craig Donohue wrote in the debut issue of the exchange's CME magazine last month. "Derivatives markets are essential adjuncts to fuel China's further economic growth."

Life is Short: Play Hard

In the past, I have focused on the prime vacation spots that appeal to all sorts of travelers, from the vacationer who wants to relax, to the tourist who wants to take in the sights. This list, however, is different; it is aimed at the single men out there, and features destinations where guys can party, meet members of the opposite sex, and take a break in a beautiful part of the world.

Think of Ibiza, Spain or Boracay in the Philippines, but less overrun with tourists. Whether your goal is to get away from your girlfriend or meet an exotic hottie, these 10 dream vacation destinations will surely do more than just tickle your fancy.


Top 10: Places To Meet Women, Bar None

Here's the thing: Many women do not like meeting men at bars. Sure, you're good-looking, dressed nicely, even funny, but you keep getting fake phone numbers, polite rejections, and blatantly rude refusals. You're looking for women in all the wrong places. Bars and parties may seem like great spots to meet women, but women are rarely open to come-ons of any sort in these settings. Bars and parties exude mystery, wildness and sex; many women see men who are on the prowl at bars and parties as generic partiers who only want one-night stands.




I am a Happy Man!!

Quick quiz: If you’re Irish when you go into a bar and Mexican when you come out, what are you while you’re in the bar?

Drinking. Tequila. And lots of it.

Thanks to the good spirits of Matthew O’Malley (Chicago Firehouse and Grace O’Malley’s) and Luis Meza (Platiyo), you can now get your fill at Zapatista, a new Mexican joint officially opening in SoLo today. Featuring more than 100 kinds of tequila, the restaurant takes its inspiration from an authentic Mexican villa — handmade tiles, rustic green and clay yellow walls, and, of course, strolling mariachis. As for the eats, none other than Dudley Nieto (San Gabriel Mexican Cafe, Adobo Grill) is in the kitchen and, yes, he will be whipping up more of his killer guac. Plus, all entrees come in under $20 — which makes it the perfect place to tie a few on before Bears games this fall. Feel free to leave drunken Uncle Joe and his bad jokes at the bar. Because once the Packers get into town, there will be plenty to laugh at.

Zapatista, 1307 South Wabash Avenue, between State Street and Michigan Avenue (312-435-1307)