The Corporation of Very Little Brain

"Guess who's coming for honey? As part of a barrel-full of Winnie the Pooh anniversary events, Disney is working on a new animated series that will replace Christopher Robin with a 6-year-old girl.

Details are sketchy on the as-yet-nameless new arrival, who will make her debut in the 2007 computer-generated series My Friends Tigger and Pooh. Disney execs say the idea is to bring an older audience to an iconic franchise born when British author A.A. Milne began musing about the imaginary world of his son, Christopher Robin.

The last thing we want to be is the ones who brought the franchise down."

- link to USA Today article


Six Degrees of Wikipedia

How many wikilinks does it take to connect Kevin Bacon to Bacon? Three.


originally uploaded by whileseated.
No Flash Corner

whileseated's continuing series of candid portraits taking in reflected sunlight on the streets of San Francisco are amazing. This girl looks a lot like my friend Alice. Alice, this isn't really you is it?
Cool Faces / Cold Shoulders

"Yet rather than address serious issues like housing, schools, transport, jobs and security, mayors and policy gurus from Berlin and London to Sydney and San Francisco have adopted what can be best be described as the 'cool city strategy.' If you can somehow make your city the rage of the hipster set, they insist, all will be well."

- Joel Kotkin. Uncool Cities. Prospect Magazine. Issue 115. October 2005. (PDF)


Structures and Monuments in Which Alabama Stone was Used

Birmingham, Alabama - Arrington's Tomb (photographs and history) presented on the Birmingmaster [sic] web site. This article was published on September 26, 2001. It describes the tome [sic] being constructed as a memorial for Mayor Arrington constructed in the shape of a pyramid. The article indicates that construction is expected to last for thirty years. At the time the article was written, the Chief Stonecutter was Azhir Safim. Alabaster quarried from quarries located south of town will be used for the outside layer. This quarry was only "newly reopened" in 2001.


They lied.

Did they? The Annenberg Political Fact Check reviews White House administration statements quoted in an anti-war newspaper ad and finds that even if the factual basis of their precise words is debateable, their intent to deceive is not. They lied.

They started with what they needed people to believe in order to win support for a cynical and greed-fueled military agenda, and then grossly and perversely stretched a few threads of not-yet-disproven "intelligence" around their conceptual framework.

And now the United States is in true peril for the first time since the Cold War.


He didn't make it

baby squirrel

My friends took this fetal squirrel to the Alabama Wildlife Rescue Center at Oak Mountain State Park a couple of weeks ago. The good folks there did what they could, but he didn't survive. (On a side note, Oak Mountain is also a refuge for several evacuees from Hurricane Katrina)
Low Key response

Even on Tuesday, as still-rising waters covered most of New Orleans, FEMA official Bill Lokey sounded a reassuring note in a Baton Rouge briefing.

"I don't want to alarm everybody that, you know, New Orleans is filling up like a bowl," Lokey said. "That's just not happening."

- quoted in Katrina trapped city in double disasters by John McQuaid. New Orleans Times-Picayune. September 7, 2005.


Get on the Map

RefugeMap.org uses the Google Maps API to show locations of housing offered to Hurricane Katrina evacuees through Craig's List.

Also, the Red Cross is always a good bet for helping out.


7 Days Later

"Someday, the lights will come back on. The music will start back up. And life will go on. And I'll have ice in my glass again." - Marty Montgomery. 519 St. Philip Street, New Orleans, Louisiana



Holloway Auction: Celeb items raise funds for search
by JUDY HAISE, Social columnist for the Birmingham News

The "... for Natalee" charity auction was without the usual band and corporate sponsors, although a little pomp would have seemed natural, since Hollywood TV and movie stars Courteney Cox and her husband, David Arquette, asked what they could do to help six weeks ago. They thanked everyone for coming via a video shown at the auction.

Mounds of tiny sandwiches with no crusts and other enticing hors d'oeuvres were scattered about, but there was little grazing Thursday night.

Each of the nearly 500 invited guests wearing a tiny yellow ribbon seemed to have another agenda - to make a donation to the Natalee Holloway Trust Fund and give personal words of encouragement to the family of the Mountain Brook 18-year-old who went missing, May 30, on a graduation trip to Aruba.

Natalee's stepfather, Jug Twitty, of Mountain Brook graciously shook hands with everyone in the main entrance of B&A Warehouse last Thursday night. Natalee's mother, Beth Holloway-Twitty, thinner than many remembered her, received guests inside the main room, stalwartly standing in the same spot for nearly three hours, just hugging and thanking everyone for their support.

Beth was back home in Birmingham for just the second time during the two and a half months she's spent in Aruba searching for her daughter.

Close by was a calming presence, Natalee's aunt Linda Allison from Arkansas. Across the sea of guitars, movie posters and DVDs signed by Hollywood stars was Jug's brother Jar Twitty of Mountain Brook, sharing his stories.

Circulating was Jar's wife, the ubiquitous Marcia Twitty, who along with Sunny Tillman, Betsy Koepsel, Kim Matthews, Heather McWane and a host of friends spent just six weeks - not the usual six months - to plan the fund-raiser.

Even so, more than $110,000 was raised by guests taking home sports memorabilia and fashion and celebrity autographed gifts. There were 34 designer fashions, including a Brian Cook fox boa and Dana Buchman fur jacket.

There were twice as many sports items, including 12 Skybox tickets to the Alabama-Auburn Iron Bowl 2005, four tickets to the Masters, as well as a Boston Red Sox game in Fenway Park, autographed footballs and tennis rackets.

The 94 celebrity-autographed items gathered by Courteney, a Mountain Brook High School graduate, and David, included photos, posters and guitars signed by Sting, Amy Grant and Vince Gill, Clint Black, John Mayer, Alan Jackson, Bob Weir and Brooks and Dunn, Courteney's TV show "Friends" DVDs and tickets to "The View," "Live with Regis and Kelley" and "The Tony Danza" TV shows in New York City.

On top of all that there were some other stunning items, including a hefty John Ager stone cross, Anita Miles' jeweled crosses and gift certificates for a Five Star Plantation quail hunt, wine tasting for 12, portraits and a getaway to Sundance Resort in Utah.

Among the supporters there were many of Natalee's fellow grads from Mountain Brook High School, home from college, wearing yellow "... for Natalee" T-shirts, including Claire Fierman, Madison Whatley and Frances Ellen Byrd. More spotted were parents of grads who went on the trip to Aruba.

Also in the crush were Courteney's mom, Courteney Copeland, Pat Copeland, Elizabeth Branch, Betsy Koepsel, Frances and Miller Gorrie, Francie and Ogden Deaton, Marlene Willings, Holman and Margaret Head, Peggy and Bob Faircloth, Jack Schaeffer, Tim Hennessy, Andrea Carmichael, Ginger and Fletcher Abele, Elizabeth and Bill Wyatt, CeCe and Chris Hughes, Judy Carns, Sara and Wally Nall, Beth Williams, Ellen Gorrie and Jim Walker, Kathy and Matt Whatley, Stephanie and Keith Fierman and Vivian Tucker, who owns Harvest Glen, where Natalee worked part-time, there with Mallie.

"There's no place like home," from Natalee's favorite movie "The Wizard of Oz" was the evening's theme, underscored by Robert Logan's lifesize cutouts of the stars on the warehouse walls.

Beth wore tiny, crystal ruby red slippers pinned to her white blouse and a wishbone necklace like Natalee's and her friends. Beth was home, but not for long. She went back to Aruba and the international media frenzy covering the search Sunday.


If dinosaurs could talk …

"Held hostage for nearly two-hundred years by the enemies of God, several dinosaurs are now free to set the record straight. No more lies. No more false testimony. No more propaganda.

Combining the “magic” of modern technology and the truth of God’s Word, AiG’s Creation Museum has discovered the secret to bringing dinosaurs “back to life.” A sauropod, a T. rex, a dinosaur raptor, a triceratops—these are just a few of the dinosaurs that you’ll meet in the completed museum.

Their “sworn testimony” will astound the world.

The truth-telling begins in the lobby, where guests come face to face with a pair of young T. rex dinosaurs, living alongside Adam’s children.
Dig site
The first room in the Creation Museum will show paleontologists digging up a dinosaur raptor. (Click image to enlarge.)

Animated young T. rexes in the lobby: “Of course we lived at the same time as humans! God made dinosaurs on the same day as Adam. And later we drank from the same waters as Adam’s children.”

In the next room, guests will discover more truths. This time, they hear from a fossilized dinosaur raptor, still half-buried in a dig site.

Dinosaur raptor fossil in a dig site: “I lived about 4,500 years ago. How do I know? Well, fossils don’t come with birth certificates, but we can read an eyewitness account from someone who was there—the Creator Himself. In God’s Word, the History Book of the Universe, we read about a global Flood that buried all the living things on Earth.”

In the next room, guests learn how the “facts” get distorted by museums and school textbooks."

- the script for the Dinosaur room at the Creation Museum, under construction in Northern Kentucky.


Theodore Swann

In the summer of 1928, Theodore Swann had a mansion built for him on Red Mountain in Birmingham, Alabama. He documented the construction on 16mm motion-picture film. My real estate agent had the film transfered to VHS. I was allowed to borrow the VHS and make a transfer to DVD. These screen captures are from that DVD. More can be found on flickr.

Swann house - date
Mrs. Swann holds up a calendar page to record the date: April 18, 1928

Swann house - ridge
OSHA was not represented on site.

Swann house - buttresses
An English vaulted hall was imported and rebuilt below the rear terrace.

Rickwood - vender
They brought the camera with them to opening day at Rickwood Field.

Camp - swimming
And to a summer camp.


Free Maribel

It takes a special kind of place to put an 11-year-old girl on trial for throwing a rock at some boys who were pelting her with water balloons. It takes a special kind of prosecuter to charge her with a felony and open the trial to the public.

Fresno, California is a very special place indeed.




IMG_5298 Hokusai - The Great Wave


Rosey Grier's Needlepoint for Men

Rosey Grier


Predatory Behavior

Alabama's Attorney General, Troy King, is out to make a name for himself. He's got a can't miss bill, the "Alabama Community Notification Act" that directly addresses the darkest and least rational fears of Alabama's voting population. IS THERE A SEX OFFENDER LIVING IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD?

The following is an EXACT QUOTE from the Attorney General's OFFICIAL WEBSITE

"During the ongoing special session, Attorney General Troy King will be wearing a tracking device in order to both show his resolve in seeing this legislation enacted as law and prove the effectiveness of the devices. Each day, a link will be added to
this page so you can download and view the movements of Attorney General King."

Watch him work to protect us!


Guggenheim Bilbao

guggenheim bilbao 2



Senate Judiciary Subcommittee Hearing On the Proposed Constitutional Amendment Barring Gay Marriage.
Remarks by the Rev. Dr. Robert Shrum, Pastor, Oakland Baptist Church, Rock Hill SC

March 31, 2005 (1:30 p.m.)

Chairman Ford, Senator Hawkins, Senator Cleary and Senator Hutto:

Good afternoon, and thank you for hearing me today. I am Bob Shrum, and I am a resident of Rock Hill where I have been the pastor of the Oakland Baptist Church for over 22 years. I have served two other Baptist congregations in Sumter and Pendleton. My pastoral service to Baptist churches in South Carolina has spanned more than 34 consecutive years. I grew up in Florence, and graduated from the University of South Carolina. I have deep roots here, and I love this state of ours. I am Sandlapper to the core. My remarks to you this afternoon grow, basically, out of two loves: my love of the Lord, Jesus Christ, and what I have learned through the years of him, and my love of this wonderful state where most of my almost 60 years have been spent. Please hear them in that light.

First of all, let me tell you that I speak for myself. I do not speak for the Oakland Baptist Church in Rock Hill or any other group or individual. If any of you are Baptist, you know that Baptists do not speak for each other. We're funny that way. We like our independence and resent it when others pretend to speak for us. Additionally, you should know that I am not gay, nor do I have---to my knowledge--- any family members who are gay. Quite simply, my remarks to you grow from conscience and deeply held convictions informed by Christian faith and over 40 years study of the Scriptures.

Let me tell you a story. When I was a little boy growing up in Florence, my Daddy was the manager of the Goodyear Tire Store on Irby St. He was good at what he did. Everybody admired him, and so did I. He was a Deacon in the First Baptist Church where we were members. One night---long after we had gone to bed---the telephone rang. It was from one of the men who worked back in his service department. He was in jail over in Marion and needed somebody to come get him out, so he called my Daddy. His crime? He was black and driving around after midnight, and it was in the 1950's. They arrested him on the pretense of suspicious behavior. In the wee hours of the morning my Daddy climbed into his '56 Ford with a T Bird engine and flew over to Marion. Not only did he get his employee out of jail that night, but the local sheriff got a real large piece of my Daddy's mind when he tried to laugh it all off and say "no harm done." I asked him about it the next night. I was 12 years old, and I wanted to know why he went to all the trouble. His explanation, "Bobby, it just wasn't right." I learned a lesson from my Daddy that night that I carry into this room today: IT'S JUST PLAIN NOT RIGHT TO TREAT FOLKS LIKE THEY DON'T COUNT---LIKE THEY'RE NOT REAL PEOPLE.

But there's something else I bring into this room today. I have to believe it's a big part of what my Daddy took to that jail in Marion that night. It's the life, influence and example of Jesus, himself. Now, if you're not a Christian, maybe that's not all that important to you. But I am a Christian, and it's real important to me, so I have to speak out of what, in my heart, is foundational. And, for me, it's Jesus. It's not Leviticus. It's not even Paul because sometimes Paul sends mixed signals. It's not the Pope. It's not denominational headquarters. It's not the religious figures who speak so loudly and authoritatively so as to drown out all those who would differ. I look to Jesus when I am puzzled and don't have all the answers like I wish I had. I had a teacher in seminary. Old Testament teacher. Clyde Francisco was his name. Dr. Francisco used to tell us, "Now boys, remember this: whenever you get stumped trying to understand the meaning of something in the Bible, just let Jesus be your interpreter. Let the spirit of Christ be your guide, and you won't go wrong."

And that's what I try to do. And, to tell the truth, it's not always so easy. It's not easy because lots of times I would rather let my prejudices guide me. After all, I've lived long enough to know what's right and what's wrong, and I'd like to think that most of the time I'm right, and those who don't agree with me are wrong. That's why I have to try real hard to let the spirit of Christ be my guide. And whenever I've been successful at pulling that off, I never go wrong. And I commend that to you today if you're in a quandary about what to do with this big, big question you're dealing with. If you approach it with the spirit of Christ, you won't go wrong.

So, what does the spirit of Christ look like? What does it smell like? What does it sound like? It's a bunch of blue collar fishermen. It's a despised tax collector. It's a colony of lepers. It's a hated Roman soldier with a sick son. It's hungry people being fed. It's the children who they tried to keep quiet and out of sight. It's a woman married five times that he made feel worthy. It's another woman caught in adultery that the religious establishment wanted to execute, but he set her free. It's a Samaritan man who the church people hated, but Jesus made him a hero. It was a little old lady so poor that she only had a few pennies for the offering plate, and Jesus held her up as an example for the ages. It was a woman of the streets who became one of his best friends. It was a thief on a cross that he took home with him. You see, the religious experts of his time called him a drunk and a glutton because he went to parties with them, and they despised him because he hung out with the folks who were on the margins of respectable society---the disenfranchised ones---the ones they called the dregs of society. And they killed him for it. BUT THAT WAS HIS SPIRIT. And it was a spirit that ultimately would not, could not go wrong. Last Sunday---Easter---amidst all our "Hallelujahs, He is risen" we reminded ourselves that it is that kind of spirit that will always, always prevail. Easter tells us that God will not allow the spirit of Christ to be defeated. We may try to kill it with our hateful attitudes, but at the end of the day, it will be our hateful attitudes toward "the least of these" that will go down to defeat.

Can't we see it? Jesus refused to marginalize any segment of society. They were all God's children and therefore brothers and sisters to each other. And he only reserved his harshest word for the religious/ political establishment which had become quite adept at fixing their constitutions to separate the decent folk from the different folk. He said they were like tombstones---pretty and white on the outside, but dead and empty on the inside.

So, I appeal to you today. Let the Spirit of Christ guide you even if you are not a Christian. You won't go wrong if you do. Do not use the Constitution of our beloved state to marginalize a segment of our citizenry. Do not listen to the fear-mongers. They have always been among us throughout our history trying to scare us with their doomsday scenarios, trying to marginalize one segment of society and then another. And, they have always been proven wrong at the end of the day. Trust the spirit of Christ. Trust Easter. Or as my Daddy might have said, "IT'S JUST PLAIN NOT RIGHT TO TREAT FOLKS LIKE THEY DON'T COUNT."

Thank you for your time.


Pray for my Folks


- from the National Hurricane Center:


Bald Eagle - Side Profile
Bald Eagle - Side Profile,
originally uploaded by Gibtach.
Bald Eagle - Side Profile


From the desk of Goodman Todd

Freestar Media, LLC is planning a hotel on property that is currently the residence of Supreme Court Justice David Souter. If approved by the board of Aldermen for the town of Weare, New Hampshire, Souter's home will be demolished and replaced with "The Lost Liberty Hotel," housing the "Just Desserts Café" and a small museum with a permanent exhibit on the loss of liberty in the U.S.

The town has gained this power of eminent domain for private development after the Supreme Court's decision in "Kelo v. City of New London, CT"

Guest rooms in the "Lost Liberty" will be provided with a free copy of "Atlas Shrugged" in lieu of a Gideon Bible.


The Private Domain is Eminent
(or "Some U$es are More Public than Others")

"Justice O'Connor, with whom The Chief Justice, Justice Scalia, and Justice Thomas join, dissenting.

Over two centuries ago, just after the Bill of Rights was ratified, Justice Chase wrote:

"An act of the Legislature (for I cannot call it a law) contrary to the great first principles of the social compact, cannot be considered a rightful exercise of legislative authority ... . A few instances will suffice to explain what I mean... . [A] law that takes property from A. and gives it to B: It is against all reason and justice, for a people to entrust a Legislature with such powers; and, therefore, it cannot be presumed that they have done it." Calder v. Bull, 3 Dall. 386, 388 (1798) (emphasis deleted).

Today the Court abandons this long-held, basic limitation on government power. Under the banner of economic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner, so long as it might be upgraded--i.e., given to an owner who will use it in a way that the legislature deems more beneficial to the public--in the process. To reason, as the Court does, that the incidental public benefits resulting from the subsequent ordinary use of private property render economic development takings "for public use" is to wash out any distinction between private and public use of property--and thereby effectively to delete the words "for public use" from the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Accordingly I respectfully dissent."


originally uploaded by whileseated.
The beginning of the end


Darth Vader Replica Helmet - $900 at Target.com

If this were $39.95, it would be in the "unlikely to be fulfilled" section of my wishlist. But you know what... nevermind. This one has "flawless form, unlike any previous Vader helmets, which were hand-sculpted." and I'm pretty sure I'd rather have the flawed form, even if only on the "unlikely to be fulfilled" section of my wishlist.

- via Gizmodo.


Truman's middle initial

Truman did not have a middle name, but only a middle initial. It was a common practice in southern states, including Missouri, to use initials rather than names. Truman said the initial was a compromise between the names of his grandfathers, Anderson Shipp(e) Truman and Solomon Young. He once joked that the S was a name, not an initial, and it should not have a period, but official documents and his presidential library all use a period. Furthermore, the Harry S. Truman Library has numerous examples of the signature written at various times throughout Truman's lifetime where his own use of a period after the 'S' is very obvious."

- from the article on Harry S. Truman at Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


A Tale of Two Missing Persons

Natalee Holloway
age: 18
vanished: May 30, 2005
last seen: leaving a nightclub in Aruba with three men
home: Mountain Brook
reward: $75,000 total
investigated by: FBI, Aruban Police, family, thousands of volunteers.
support: private donations, free hotel in Aruba, McWane Corp. private jet, donated airfare, massive prayer lists
media: nonstop national media coverage

Nancy Lewis
age: 47
vanished: May 18, 2005
last seen: leaving for work at 3:45 AM
home: southwest Birmingham
reward: $2000 (now $12,000)
investigated by: Birmingham police, friends and family.
support: friends, co-workers and family
media: four or five local newspaper articles, sparse radio PSA's

Update: The Birmingham Post-Herald has picked up on the comparison.


A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing

Human Events Online, a "National Conservative Weekly" since 1944, discommends the following books as the Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries:

1. Karl Marx and Freidrich Engel's The Communist Manifesto (1848): "envisions history as a class struggle between oppressed workers and oppressive owners."
2. Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf (1925-26): "Hitler explained his racist, anti-Semitic vision for Germany"
3. Mao Zedong's Quotations from Chairman Mao (1966): " 'It is the task of the people of the whole world to put an end to the aggression and oppression perpetrated by imperialism...' wrote Mao."
4. Alfred Kinsey's The Kinsey Reports (1948): "designed to give a scientific gloss to the normalization of promiscuity and deviancy."
5. John Dewey's Democracy and Education (1916): "encourage the teaching of thinking skills...helped nurture the Clinton generation."
6. Karl Marx's Das Kapital (1867-94): "He could not have predicted 21st Century America: a free, affluent society based on capitalism and representative government."
7. Betty Frieden's The Feminine Mystique (1963): "disparaged traditional stay-at-home motherhood...a role that degraded women and denied them true fulfillment in life."
8. Auguste Compte's The Course of Positive Philosophy (1830-42): "theoriz[ed] that the human mind had developed beyond 'theology'...through 'metaphysics'. to 'positivism', in which man alone, through scientific observation, could determine the way things ought to be.
9. Freidrich Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil (1886): "argued that men are driven by an amoral 'Will to Power'...The Nazi's loved Nietzsche."
10. John Maynard Keynes' General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1936): "When the business cycle threatens a contraction of industry, and thus of jobs, he argued, the government should run up deficits, borrowing and spending money to spur economic activity. FDR adopted the idea as U.S. policy."

Honorable Mentions: Paul Ehrlich's The Population Bomb; Vladimir Lenin's What Is to be Done' Theodor Adorno's Authoritarian Personality; John Stuart Mill's On Liberty; B. F. Skinner's Beyond Freedom and Dignity; Georges Sorel's Reflections on Violence; Herbert Croly's The Promise of American Life; Charles Darwin's Origin of the Species; Michel Foucault's Madness and Civilization; Sydney & Beatrice Webb's Soviet Communism: A New Civilization; Margaret Mead's Coming of Age in Samoa; Ralph Nader's Unsafe at Any Speed; Simone de Beauvoir's Second Sex, Antonio Gramsci's Prison Notebooks; Rachel Carson's Silent Spring; Frantz Fanon's Wretched of the Earth; Sigmund Freud's Introduction to Psychoanalysis; Charles Reich's The Greening of America; The Club of Rome's The Limits to Growth, and Charles Darwin's The Descent of Man.

Stay away from these books. They will injure your fragile mind. They are all available (for now, anyway) from the bookseller of your choice.


Transparency in Government

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” - attributed to Joseph Goebbels (I can't find the original source)

"If you've retired, you don't have anything to worry about -- third time I've said that. (Laughter.) I'll probably say it three more times. See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda. (Applause.)" - President George W. Bush, May 24, 2005 (Athena Performing Arts Center, Rochester, NY) link to transcript at the White House website.

(also reminds me of: "This is how liberty dies; to thunderous applause." - Padmé Amidala in "Revenge of the Sith")


MxDonalds  BANGKOK
MxDonalds BANGKOK,
originally uploaded by mirai.
Thais with that?

In Bangkok, Ronald adopts a more respectful pose.


The Stupid Rich

"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."

- Dwight D. Eisenhower in a letter to his brother Edgar, dated November 8, 1954

(H.L. Hunt's son Ray (by then mistress Ruth Ray), is president of Dallas-based Hunt Oil, and a long-time political and financial supporter of the Bush family. He is also a member of the EDS and Halliburton Corp. boards and the boards of the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the National Petroleum Council, two industry groups that advise the White House on foreign and energy policies. In October 2001 he was appointed by President Bush to the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.)


U.S. to Iraqi farmers: Throw away those old indiginous seeds! Buy genetically engineered seeds* from Monsanto™!

* (by "buy seeds" we mean "license the use of seeds for one harvest", after which you will need to buy new seeds under the terms of your EULA. Terms subject to change without notice.)

For generations, small farmers in Iraq operated in an essentially unregulated, informal seed supply system. Farm-saved seed and the free innovation with and exchange of planting materials among farming communities has long been the basis of agricultural practice. This is now history. The CPA has made it illegal for Iraqi farmers to re-use seeds harvested from new varieties registered under the law. Iraqis may continue to use and save from their traditional seed stocks or what’s left of them after the years of war and drought, but that is the not the agenda for reconstruction embedded in the ruling. The purpose of the law is to facilitate the establishment of a new seed market in Iraq, where transnational corporations can sell their seeds – genetically modified or not, which farmers would have to purchase afresh every single cropping season. While historically the Iraqi constitution prohibited private ownership of biological resources, the new US-imposed patent law introduces a system of monopoly rights over seeds. Inserted into Iraq's previous patent law is a whole new chapter on Plant Variety Protection (PVP) that provides for the "protection of new varieties of plants." PVP is an intellectual property right (IPR) or a kind of patent for plant varieties which gives an exclusive monopoly right on planting material to a plant breeder who claims to have discovered or developed a new variety. So the "protection" in PVP has nothing to do with conservation, but refers to safeguarding of the commercial interests of private breeders (usually large corporations) claiming to have created the new plants.

To qualify for PVP, plant varieties must comply with the standards of the UPOV [3] Convention, which requires them be new, distinct, uniform and stable. Farmers' seeds cannot meet these criteria, making PVP-protected seeds the exclusive domain of corporations. The rights granted to plant breeders in this scheme include the exclusive right to produce, reproduce, sell, export, import and store the protected varieties. These rights extend to harvested material, including whole plants and parts of plants obtained from the use of a protected variety. This kind of PVP system is often the first step towards allowing the full-fledged patenting of life forms. Indeed, in this case the rest of the law does not rule out the patenting of plants or animals.

The term of the monopoly is 20 years for crop varieties and 25 for trees and vines. During this time the protected variety de facto becomes the property of the breeder, and nobody can plant or otherwise use this variety without compensating the breeder. This new law means that Iraqi farmers can neither freely legally plant nor save for re-planting seeds of any plant variety registered under the plant variety provisions of the new patent law. [4] This deprives farmers what they and many others worldwide claim as their inherent right to save and replant seeds.

Grain.org article via Google, via Robot Wisdom.


Nippits™ in the bud

Nipple Concealment Strips. Padless. Latex-free. Physician-designed. Medically-approved. Non-irritating. Breathable. Patented:

We claim:

1. A method for reducing the profile of a protrusion from skin comprising the step of adhering a flexible material across said protrusion and an area of surrounding tissue, wherein said material is adhered directly to said protrusion and to the surrounding tissue.

2. A method as in claim 1, wherein said protrusion acted upon is a nipple and said area of surrounding tissue includes at least an areola.

3. A skin protrusion concealment device comprising a flexible base material having an outer-facing side and a skin-facing side, said skin-facing side having thereon an adhesive covering a sufficient surface area to adhere substantially continuously across a skin protrusion and an area of surrounding tissue.

4. A skin protrusion concealment device comprising a flexible base material having an outer-facing side and a skin facing side, said skin facing side having thereon an adhesive, said device having a configuration comprising three conjoined at least partially rounded shapes, wherein a first of said rounded shapes and a second of said rounded shapes represent terminating portions, and a third of said rounded shapes represents an intermediary portion interposed between said first and second portions, and wherein further a center point of said intermediary portion does not lie in a straight line between a center point of said first portion and a center point of said second portion.

5. A skin protrusion concealment device as in claim 5, wherein the adhesive on said skin facing side covers a surface area of said skin facing side sufficient to adhere to both a skin protrusion and an area of surrounding tissue.

- US Patent Application #20010049250


originally uploaded by Cartel82.

4000 students of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven held a record-breaking pillow fight this week in the Ladeuzeplein, raising money for child health-care and gaining publicity for the elections for Student Union President.



The 3rd Century Oxyrhynchus manuscripts, now being translated, futher indicate that the number of the beast (Revelation 13:18) is actually 616 not 666. This agrees with the previously known Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus, and some other early writings.

Historically, early Hebrew and Christian writers would use gematria or isopsephy to conceal the subject of their writings when it would be politically dangerous to write openly.

The number 666 corresponds to the Aramaic version of "Nero Caesar" (NRWN QSR). An alternate version of "Nero Caesar" was spelled NRW QSR which, conveniently, adds up to 616. So the theory that the beast represents Nero could be supported by both numbers.

The other probable candidate is Caligula, whose full name "Gaius Caligula Caesar" would be rendered GS QLGS QSR, also 616. Or if you think it needs to be Greek, you've got GAIOS KAISAR = 616.

- Story in the Independent (UK)
- commentary at JimmyAkin.Org


Lieutenant Dan got me invested in some kind of fruit company. So then I got a call from him, saying we don't have to worry about money no more. And I said, that's good! One less thing.

"Real estate developer Tim James says he wants to bulldoze downtown. But in a good way. James announced a $200 million plan last week to remake this gritty seafood town, long down on its luck, into a tourist destination, a French Coast village with condos and spas, where rusty shrimp boats rumble by waterfront boardwalks, fish markets and trendy coffee shops."

"This week, James said, he expects to begin the public process of buying Bayou La Batre's city-owned docks at Portersville Bay and the 2,770 feet of waterfront property surrounding them. Mayor Stan Wright said the city will get an estimate on the value of the property inside the next month or so. The process could last six months and will involve public meetings, Wright said.

[...]We're willing to pay the city at least $8 million for it. If their estimate comes in over that, we'll pay more, but if it's below that, we'll hold the floor at $8 million," James said.

That figure is four times the annual budget of this city of 2,300.

The city's debt is $2.4 million, almost entirely made up by the remainder of a 1997 bond issue to pay for a $4 million deepening of the Bayou's ship channel, city officials said Friday. The land deal would easily pay off that debt and shore up the city for a long time to come, Wright said.

"If this deal happens, we'll lower the business license fee and remove the 1-cent diesel fuel tax. It will change everything," Wright said.

Even more lucrative for the city, James' group would pay $15 million to build a new, city-owned sewage processing plant. The existing plant is already strained beyond its capacity and is currently under a court-ordered mandate to improve facilities and eliminate spills.

[...]Under James' plan, much of downtown -- which has been largely vacant for years -- would be bulldozed and replaced by a French Colonial park with flower gardens and walkways under the shade of live oaks. This would be the City Park District, and it would be owned and maintained by the city."

[...]We're trying to get ahead of the ball and go over our ordinances before this comes along," said Tommy Reynoso, the town's building inspector and a member of the commission. "We've never dealt with anything like this. Not many cities our size have."

Here's the article from the Mobile Register.


Bumper Rooster
Bumper Rooster,
originally uploaded by speedeep.
The Amazing Chrome Rooster of Brundidge, Alabama

Sculptor Larry Godwin is populating Brundidge, (Highway 231 south of Troy) with the most fantastic creations.

Article in Cooperative Farming News (November 2004)
Link to Hi-Res version of this photo.


Bid Now!

Fifty Pounds of Scissors confiscated by the National Transportation Security Administration.

- via Robot Wisdom


Train Tracks
Train Tracks,
originally uploaded by xid0r.

The dastardly Zane makes his appearance on flickr.



David Schwimmer is an actor who played a paleontologist in the TV show "Friends"

David R. Schwimmer IS a paleontologist at Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia.


Baishawan reflection
Baishawan reflection,
originally uploaded by Self-D.

Some poorly-built pod houses in Taiwan that didn't survive the first typhoon. Called "Ghost Houses" by the locals, they are currently decaying and Self-D is documenting the process. Fascinating place.


Papal Names Unlikely to be Reused

Agapetus (535-36, 946-55)
Lando (913-14)
Formosus (891-96)
Sisinnius (708)
Conon (686-87)
Agatho (678-81)
Deusdetit (615-18, 672-76)
Hormisdas (514-23)
Simplicius (468-83)
Hilarius (461-68)
Dionysius (259-68)
Fabian (236-50)
Zephyrinus (199-217)
Telesphorus (125-138)
Cletus (76-88)

-source: Wikipedia:List of popes


And that's a Bad Thing?

"I blame Congress over the last 50 to 100 years for not standing up and taking its responsibility given to it by the Constitution. The reason the judiciary has been able to impose a separation of church and state that's nowhere in the Constitution is that Congress didn't stop them. The reason we had judicial review is because Congress didn't stop them. The reason we had a right to privacy is because Congress didn't stop them. "

- from an interview with Tom DeLay in The Washington Times. (emphasis mine)


Agathidium bushi, Agathidium cheneyi, Agathidium rumsfeldi

Not a demon-summoning chant, but a trio of newly-named mold-eating beetle species which are grouped under the heading of "Rove Beetles."

Life on Earth:
Staphylinoidea (A.K.A. "Rove Beetles") (Latreille 1802):
Leiodidae (Fleming 1821):
Leiodinae (Fleming 1821):
Agathidinii (Westwood 1838):
(bushi, cheneyi, rumsfeldi)

- news item from BBC News.
- biological classification from Tree of Life


préparation explosion citron

préparation explosion citron
préparation explosion citron,
originally uploaded by no man's land.

This image leads to a small set of photographs of the preparation and aftermath of exploding pieces of fruit.


Unfolded Origami

boat paper equlized
boat paper equlized,
originally uploaded by lexly87.

Flickr makes it tantalizingly easy to blog pictures. So I think I'll start doing that. Here's a good one.


Take an Ego Trip without Leaving your own Land

"By clearing forest so that a pattern would be visible to landing aircraft, a landowner outside Austin, Texas, created a target that is also useful for evaluating spatial resolution of astronaut photographs. The forest was selectively cleared in order to spell the landowner's name 'LUECKE' with the remaining trees. According to local surveyors who planned the clearing, the plan was to create letters that were 3100 x 1700 ft (944.9 x 518.2 m).

"Astronaut-acquired Orbital Photographs as Digital Data for Remote Sensing: Spatial Resolution." Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA-Johnson Space Center. 10 Nov. 2004.
(via Google Sightseeing, via Waxy.org:Links)


Pay with $2 Bills, Wait for the Secret Service in Leg Irons

PUT YOURSELF in Mike Bolesta's place. On the morning of Feb. 20, he buys a new radio-CD player for his 17-year-old son Christopher's car. He pays the $114 installation charge with 57 crisp new $2 bills, which, when last observed, were still considered legitimate currency in the United States proper. The $2 bills are Bolesta's idea of payment, and his little comic protest, too.

For this, Bolesta, Baltimore County resident, innocent citizen, owner of Capital City Student Tours, finds himself under arrest.

Finds himself, in front of a store full of customers at the Best Buy on York Road in Lutherville, locked into handcuffs and leg irons.

Finds himself transported to the Baltimore County lockup in Cockeysville, where he's handcuffed to a pole for three hours while the U.S. Secret Service is called into the case.

[...]Finally, Secret Service agent Leigh Turner arrived, examined the bills and said they were legitimate, adding, according to the police report, "Sometimes ink on money can smear."

For Baltimore County police, said spokesman Bill Toohey, "It's a sign that we're all a little nervous in the post-9/11 world."

Google Cache


I did not know that.

"Under Britain's system, the prime minister can choose an election date any time within five years of the last vote and announce its timing about a month in advance."

- Blair calls for election May 5 - CNN story


"I'm against picketing, but I don't know how to show it." - Mitch Hedberg, 1968-2005

(obituary at Pioneer Press.)


Answers to Your Questions
I think I could do better if you let me invest the Social Security I pay into an Individual Retirement Plan (IRA) or some other investment plan. What do you think?
Maybe you could, but then again, maybe your investments wouldn't work out. Remember these facts:
-Your Social Security taxes pay for potential disability and survivors benefits as well as for retirement benefits;
-Social Security incorporates social goals - such as giving more protection to families and to low income workers - that are not part of private pension plans; and
-Social Security benefits are adjusted yearly for increases in the cost-of-living - a feature not present in many private plans.

- From the Social Security Administration's Help Pages.


Something I've Always Wanted to Do

Brilliant guerilla artist Banksy surreptitiously installed his own works in four museums in New York City.

Banksy in Wikipedia


More Freebird

"But did 'Freebird' truly start with the KevHeads? Longtime Chicago Tribune music writer Greg Kot says he remembers the cry from the early 1980s. He suggests it originated as an in-joke among indie-rock fans 'having their sneer at mainstream classic rock.'

Other music veterans think it dates back to 1970s audiences' shouts for it and other guitar sagas, such as 'Whipping Post,' by the Allman Brothers Band, and 'Smoke on the Water,' by Deep Purple.

They may all be right: It's possible 'Freebird' began as a rallying cry for Skynyrd Nation and a sincere request from guitar lovers, was made famous by the live cut, taken up by ironic clubgoers, given new life by Mr. Matthews, and eventually lost all meaning and became something people holler when there's a band onstage.

But as with many mysteries, the true origin may be unknowable -- cold comfort for bands still to be confronted with the inevitable cry from the darkness. For them, here's a strategy tried by a brave few: Call the audience's bluff. Phish liked to sing it a cappella. The Dandy Warhols play a slowed-down take singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor describes as sung 'like T. Rex would if he were on a lot of pills.' And Dash Rip Rock has performed the real song in order to surprise fans expecting the parody. For his part, Mr. Doughty suggests that musicians make a pact: Whenever anyone calls for 'Freebird,' play it in its entirety -- and if someone calls for it again, play it again.

'That would put a stop to 'Freebird,' I think,' he says. 'It would be a bad couple of years, but it might be worth it.'

So what do the members of Skynyrd think of the tradition? Johnny Van Zant, Ronnie's brother and the band's singer since 1987, says 'it's not an insult at all -- I think it's kind of cool. It's fun, and people are doing it in a fun way. That's what music's supposed to be about.'

Besides, Mr. Van Zant has a confession: His wife persuaded him to see Cher in Jacksonville a couple of years ago, and he couldn't resist yelling 'Freebird!' himself. 'My wife is going, 'Stop! Stop!' he recalls, laughing. 'I embarrassed the hell out of her.'"

- Jason Fry, WSJ article, via Waxy.


evil genius

Toby is the cutest little bunny on the planet. I found him under my porch, soaking wet, injured from what appeared to be an attack from an alley cat. I took him in, thinking he had no chance to live from his injuries, but miraculously, he recovered. I have since spent several months nursing him to health. Unfortunately, he will DIE on June 30th, 2005 if you don’t help.

[...]I am going to eat him. I have several recipes under consideration, which can be seen, with some pretty graphic images, under the recipe section. God as my witness, I will devour this little guy unless I receive $50,000 into my account from donations or purchase of merchandise.

[...]Here is the current status of donations for Toby, as of March 10th, 2005. ---- $18,462.12

- http://savetoby.com

(UPDATE) Detective Todd has kindly informed me that this is a hoax. In a cruel sort of way, that really disappoints me.

See also: Save Fluffy!, and Save Bernd!. (The latter reportedly launches a bunch of pop-ups.)


So, You've Written a Romance Novel

How much can you expect as an advance from the publisher? Brenda Hiatt has spent four years surveying authors. Here are the results so far. (Hint, if you have a friend at Harper Collins, you might make out ok.)

- via Karen Fox via Galleycat via Foreward.

I've been writing Wikipedia articles. Here are some that are mostly my work. (For the time being):

Doris Burn
Eames House
2005 in Architecture
Kelly Ingram Park
Sedlec Ossuary
William Christenberry
Hale County, AL
Rickwood Field
Red Mountain
Ensley, Alabama
Marcel Broodthaers


How Can I Help Stop Infringement?

"The best way to stop infringement is to tell the authorities and the owners so that they can follow up and arrange for a license and for royalties to be paid. Licenses for Happy Birthday are controlled by ASCAP. While monetary royalties will be negligible for a single restaurant performance, it is the principle that is at stake.

If you have seen someone singing Happy Birthday in a restaurant, a park, or at a school, you should tell ASCAP so that they can arrange for a license. If you are an offender, you should apologize and offer to pay whatever is due %u2014 a nickel, a quarter, a dollar %u2014 whatever ASCAP demands.

There is an overwhelming amount of copyright infringement of Happy Birthday. Let's right the balance and tell ASCAP about every one of these violations!"


Off the Island

"Is there a building you really hate? One that makes your life a misery? A building in your local area that is so badly designed and built that you would like to see it demolished?

"Now [BBC] Channel 4 have a solution -- a new four-part series, Demolition, which will allow viewers to nominate their most hated building and see one of the country's worst buildings erased.

"The series, which will be presented by Kevin McCloud and will transmit this autumn, will create a shortlist of hated buildings chosen by viewers. A team of experts, including President of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), George Ferguson, will then judge each of these buildings on its design and construction -- and, most importantly, whether it fulfils the purpose for which it was created. Plans for what goes in its place will be carefully considered as will the feasibility of its demolition. The 'winner' will then be demolished at the end of the series.

"The series aims to kick start a national debate about the built environment, about architecture and how bad buildings come to be built. After the demolition, the process of designing and constructing a replacement building will begin and a subsequent programme is planned to follow that process."


Surrational Calendar

Scott Mutter makes old-school photomontages often juxtaposing different scales or contexts of familiar objects. They hint at a familiar unreality that takes form only in dreams and emotions.

I have a 1996 calendar of his stuff that I'm about to get rid of. In looking back through it, the only notes I find seem fictional. There's a driving trip to Pheonix outlined that I never made. (I flew). There's a note about sending my undergraduate thesis materials back to the university for publication. I never saw them again. The rest of the days are blank except for the moon phases. Another familiar unreality.

I've created a "Magic City" group on flickr to share pictures of Birmingham. Everyone is invited to join and upload their own. You might see some of them appearing on the sidebar of this page.


Whatever happened to Larry Wilcox?

"In 1982, he left 'CHiPs' to pursue other projects. He formed his own production company, Wilcox Productions, which produced the acclaimed Ray Bradbury Theater for 5 years. He also continued acting and directing.
In the mid-90's, Wilcox ran a pharmaceutical company called Team Elite. He described it as 'a multidivisional company selling liquid vitamins, wholesale travel and long-distance communications through network marketing.'
Today he continues to succeed running Wilcox Productions and is also president of MediaCore, a software company specializing in CD-ROMs and Internet compression technology. He has also produced, directed, written, and starred in a childrens video called Lil CHP, which tells the story of two little boys who dream of becoming CHP motor officers. Wilcox returns in his 'CHiPs' role of Jon Baker, and former co-star Robert Pine returns as Sergeant Joe Getraer. The video also stars John Schneider (Dukes Of Hazzard) and Ron Masak (Murder She Wrote)."

- from the "CHiPs" Online: FAQ



Style.org's State of the Union Parsing Tool gives you a graphic display of words used in Bush's (and Clinton's, Reagan's, Lincoln's and Washington's) addresses.


Brown works for himself

As of November 9, 2004, the color brown is a registered trademark of United Parcel Service of America, Inc.

"The mark consists of the color chocolate brown, which is the approximate equivalent of Pantone Matching System 462C, as applied to the entire surface of vehicles and uniforms. The mark consists of the color brown alone. The broken lines indicate the position of the mark and do not form part of the mark. The drawing is lined for the color brown.

Other uses for Pantone 462:
1. The dark brown areas of the State Flag of California
2. The text in the logo for Credit Union 24.
3. The logo of the AG Bureau of the Spokane Regional Chamber of Commerce.
4. All station equipment at the TV Transposer Station, Hill 374, Lam Tsuen Country Park, Hong Kong.


Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror

Special to the New York Times
(dredged up by Patachon at the Daily Kos)

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3 -- United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.

According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters case their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong.

The size of the popular vote and the inability of the Vietcong to destroy the election machinery were the two salient facts in a preliminary assessment of the national election based on the incomplete returns reaching here.

Pending more detailed reports, neither the State Department nor the White House would comment on the balloting or the victory of the military candiates, Lieut. Gen. Nguyen Van Thieu, who was running for president, and Premier Nguyen Coa Ky, the candidate for vice president.

A successful election has long been seen as the keystone in President Johnson's policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes in South Vietnam. The election was the culmination of a constitutional development that began in January, 1966, to which President Johnson gave his personal commitment when he met Premier Ky and General Thieu, the chief of state, in Honolulu in February.

The purpose of the voting was to give legitimacy to the Saigon Government, which has been founded only on coups and power plays since November, 1963, when President Ngo Dinh Diem was overthrown by a military junta.

Few members of that junta are still around, most having been ousted or exiled in subsequent shifts of power.

Significance Not Diminished

The fact that the backing of the electorate has gone to the generals who have been ruling South Vietnam does not, in the Administration's view, diminish the significance of the constitutional step that has been taken.

The hope here is that the new government will be able to maneuver with a confidence and legitimacy long lacking in South Vietnamese politics. That hope could have been dashed either by a small turnout, indicating widespread scorn or a lack of interest in constitutional development, or by the Vietcong's disruption of the balloting.

American officials had hoped for an 80 per cent turnout. That was the figure in the election in September for the Constituent Assembly. Seventy-eight per cent of the registered voters went to the polls in elections for local officials last spring.

Before the results of the presidential election started to come in, the American officials warned that the turnout might be less than 80 per cent because the polling place would be open for two or three hours less than in the election a year ago. The turnout of 83 per cent was a welcome surprise. The turnout in the 1964 United States Presidential election was 62 per cent.

Captured documents and interrogations indicated in the last week a serious concern among Vietcong leaders that a major effort would be required to render the election meaningless. This effort has not succeeded, judging from the reports from Saigon."


Master of the Universists

Meet Ford Vox, former Tuscaloosa Presbyterian, current director of the United Universists -- a group dedicated to promoting the morality of reason and dismantling the bonds of faith on public affairs.



I once asked a bright young Manhattan journalist whether he could define in a single word what made television different from theatre or cinema. 'For good or ill,' he said, 'Carson.'

- Kenneth Tynan in The New Yorker.


Never Again

"Bridget Driscoll was the first person to be killed by a car. The 44-year-old mother of two was knocked down at London's Crystal Palace on 17 August 1896. The car was travelling at 12km per hour. Bridget never knew what hit her. The British coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death. Speaking at the inquest, he warned: 'This must never happen again.'

- from BBC
Sorry, Italy

The award for hottest member of a European parliamentary body goes to Germany, for 18 year old Julia Bonk, representative to the Saxony state legislature.


Lost Camera Bag

If anyone on the Liége-Ostende train last Sunday found a little blue and green camera bag containing a Canon S110, spare battery, cards and mini-tripod, please write to me care of this site. I will reward you endlessly.