Thursday, September 30, 2004
FORT MILL, South Carolina (AP) -- Administrators at Fort Mill High School decided to remove gay marriage, abortion and stem cell research from the agenda of a planned student debate out of concern that they might clash with a state law on sex education.[The State, South Carolina] The National Association of School Boards of Education site has the text of South Carolina's policy, which mandates that
Two of the three topics originally were on a list of eight approved by Principal David Damm for use in a student-run debate scheduled for October 19. The debate is intended to mirror the debates between President Bush and Sen. John Kerry.
A debate announcement said issues such as education, taxes, jobs, the war in Iraq and faith-based initiatives would be discussed, but "because of South Carolina laws, we cannot discuss such controversial issues as stem cell research, abortion or homosexual marriages." Both Damm and Superintendent Thomas Dowling said the restriction referred to the state's health education act, which prohibits health class discussion on abortion and homosexual sex.
...[t]he program of instruction provided for in this section may not include a discussion of alternate sexual lifestyles from heterosexual relationships including, but not limited to, homosexual relationships except in the context of instruction concerning sexually transmitted diseases.Isn't it interesting that each category on the committee is represented by only two people, except for the clergy - represented by three individuals? Priorities, priorities.
The Act further states, 'to assist in the selection of components and curriculum materials, each local school board shall appoint a thirteen-member local advisory committee consisting of two parents, three clergy, two health professionals, two teachers, two students, one being the president of the student body of a high school, and two other persons not employed by the local school district.'
- Mount St. Helens grumbles once more and may erupt soon, but likely not with the spectacular force of the 1980 event
- Fat Albert the bear breaks into paralyzed Aspen, CO man's home and steals pounds of chocolate
- New WTC construction claims another worker's life
- Secret-search provision of Patriot Act blocked by U.S. District Court judge Victor Marrero; ACLU's response to the ruling
- Lileks: "[Martin] Luther was a blogger!" - an interesting
rantpiece on the increasingly uneasy relationship between traditional journalism and bloggers. Go ahead. Nail your theses to the door.
- FOX Television has launched an official MillenniuM website following the release of the now-defunct show's first season on DVD. While the site is exceptionally "Flash"-y and visually appealing, right now you'll find more (and better) information on the series on fan sites like The Millennial Abyss and Millennium Desktop UK.
- The Ultimate Uff-da Meal: can you handle the 8500-calorie Manwich? [via LDMA's Life in the Wor Zone]
- If you look nowhere else, at least click on and print the 1-page PDF version of the 2004 Voters' Guide, "a starting point for people wanting information on voting in the upcoming national election on Tuesday, November 2, 2004" graciously put together by Jason Kottke. Essential info, fast.
Monday, September 20, 2004Just a note that blogging will be light this week, so I will leave you with this recipe for a tasty, exotic Turkish dish I prepared over the weekend, imam bayildi, "the imam fainted.*" If, like me, you can't visit the local greengrocer without buying a big, shiny black eggplant - but then don't know what to do with it - you'll love this.
1 large eggplant* The origins of the name are shrouded in history, but legend says that long ago a Muslim holy man, the imam, tasted this dish and fainted to the ground from sheer delight. Either that was some eggplant, or delights must have been in short supply back then. Anyhow, this stuff is very tasty, and the quantities here serve 2 as dinner, 4 as an appetizer - feel free to double or triple amounts as needed. If you want to know what else we cook around our place, visit My God, It's Full of Squirrels!
1 T sea salt
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 green pepper diced
3 roma tomatoes diced
1 large onion diced
1 tsp. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
dash turmeric, oregano and crushed red pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
First, cut off the stem, and slice the eggplant in half lengthwise. Make several deep slashes in the cut surfaces of both halves, but be careful not to cut through the skin on the other side. Sprinkle sea salt on both cut halves and place the eggplant pieces face down in a colander in the sink for one hour; this will drain out the bitter juices. Rinse in water throughly to remove excess salt, and pat dry with a paper towel. Then, fry the eggplant halves face-down in a heavy pan for about five minutes in the olive oil, until the surfaces turn slightly brown. Remove the eggplant, and place face-up in an ovenproof shallow baking dish.
Next, saute the onions, green pepper, tomatoes and garlic in the same pan in the remaining olive oil for 5-10 minutes until softened. Add the remaining spices and sugar, cook for 5 minutes longer. Adjust salt and seasonings to taste. Place one half of this mixture on each eggplant half, and bake for 30 minutes at 400°F. Remove from oven, and allow to cool to room temperature. Scoop the imam bayildi directly out of the eggplant shells at the table, and serve with pita wedges or French baguettes.
- Keep your enemies close, and your drinkies closer: Mikhail Kalashnikov, inventor of the AK-47, launches his own brand of vodka with a bang
- Breaking barriers: talk show host Montel Williams, who suffers from MS 'comes out' on TV Tuesday as a medical marijuana user; the show will feature guests like Irvin Rosenfeld, a Florida stockbroker who has been receiving medical cannabis under a little-known U.S. government program for over 20 years. [Drug WarRant]
- More on the Louisiana anti-SSM amendment fiasco on Alas, A Blog - including some very interesting information from a commenter who was there, in New Orleans
- "Fear Itself": Paul Goyette at Locussolus considers Chicago's surveillance-camera obsession
- Firefox users have a cool new toy: Foxytunes, a plugin browser extension that lets you handle your media player from a small, clean and configurable controller on your status bar [via Wither in the Light]
Sunday, September 19, 2004Considering its conservative Bible-belt roots, it's not a major surprise that Louisiana passed a state constitutional amendment yesterday banning same-sex marriages, civil unions and the recognition of such unions made elsewhere. However, there is something seriously fishy about the circumstances of yesterday's vote: many precincts throughout the state, especially in New Orleans - the part of the state with the largest number of LGBT and liberal voters - had no voting booths available until late in the afternoon.
365Gay.com offers a disturbing account of the mass confusion during Saturday's vote, due in part to the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan and resulting logistics lapses:
There was mass confusion throughout Louisiana today as voters went to the polls to decide whether to put a ban on gay marriage into the state constitution. In more than a third of the state's precincts there were no voting machines. In other areas people displaced by hurricane Ivan did not know where they were supposed to vote. And, elections officials in local areas were confused about what to tell people.From the Associated Press:
More than 35 precincts reported they did not have machines when the polls opened. Drivers hired to deliver the machines apparently failed to show up for work. State workers, many who had never driven a truck before, were called in to replace the truckers, but even then several got lost trying to find out where the polling stations were located. Dozens of precincts, mainly in low lying areas that remain underwater, were moved, but no one told the drivers where they had been relocated.
...[T]here [are] many possible grounds for challenging the results in state and federal court. One appeared Saturday, when voting machines were delivered late to some New Orleans precincts, keeping some from casting ballots for hours.It doesn't take a great leap to speculate that many New Orleans voters who opposed the amendment were unable to cast their ballots. Considering this, wouldn't there be ample justification to declare Saturday's voting results null and void, and hold another amendment vote when conditions are more organized? It's ridiculous to claim the results of this fiasco legitimately represents the will of all Louisianans. If a new vote were held, this discriminatory amendment might still pass, but at least there might be some semblance of electoral fairness.
State director of elections Frances Sims said at least 59 precincts did not have voting machines when polls opened because officials with New Orleans' clerk of court's office failed to meet drivers who tried to deliver the machines earlier that morning. The problem was solved by midday.
Julius Green, 58, said he went to his polling place in New Orleans' Bywater neighborhood about 10 a.m. and found no voting machines - just a crowd. "This is ridiculous," Green said. "It makes people feel that their vote don't count."
UPDATE: Alas, A Blog has some very interesting info in the comment section on this developing story - from someone who was there in New Orleans.
Friday, September 17, 2004What a great quote:
"In every age, the urge to intolerance presents itself anew. We must not become complacent about the freedom of conscience any more than we would take for granted the other rights that we now enjoy."How true. And for that matter, how can we assume (as we often do) that our conceptions of personal and societal liberty are permanent, given its frighteningly fragile nature throughout recorded history? The quote's from Jason Kuznicki over at Positive Liberty, and you can read the rest in this superbly thought-provoking post, "Religious Tolerance: Reformation and Enlightenment."
Who's Your Mama?Remember those old dark green "Virginia is for L♥vers*" bumperstickers? Someone should resurrect them, with an asterisk and footnote that reads: "*heterosexual." Come to think of it, someone's already done better than that: check out "Virginia is for Haters," a site that details the state's pervasive anti-gay laws, and calls for a tourism boycott:
Vermont Custody Case Tests Virginia's Anti-Gay Law
by Cynthia Potts
"We'd met through mutual friends," said Janet Miller-Jenkins, of her former partner, Lisa. "We started dating. Fell in love.""Even at the beginning, we both had a great love for children. Lisa was working as a nanny, while I was an accountant. We talked about opening a preschool, something that had been a dream for both of us."
A preschool wasn't the only dream the couple shared. "We both wanted children," Janet asserted. "We had a five year plan." Initially, the couple explored adoption. Living in Virginia made this difficult. "They wanted us to lie about our orientations," Janet explained. "And Lisa wanted to go through the pregnancy experience."
The couple moved to Vermont, and entered into a civil union. "It was a conscious decision that we were going to have a family, and that we were going to have our family in a committed relationship." After consultations with several doctors, it was decided that Lisa would be the birth mother of an artificially inseminated child. "She is five years younger than me, which was a major consideration." Several expensive procedures later, Lisa was pregnant. Baby Isabella was born in 2002.
"We'd had a very hard pregnancy. Lisa was on bed rest for a while, which was very difficult for her." Nevertheless, the couple desired another child, and went through another round of insemination. Lisa became pregnant upon the first try. "We were elated!" Janet explained. "No one gets pregnant by artificial insemination quickly, and here we were on the first try." Two weeks later, tragedy struck, and Lisa miscarried the baby.
Sorrows never travel alone. "She froze up after that," Janet explained. "She wouldn't talk to me, nothing." Janet suggested professional help, but Lisa had another idea. She took Isabella, and moved back to Virginia. [continue reading "Who's Your Mama?"]
On April 21, 2004, The Virginia General Assembly passed the nation's most restrictive anti-gay law--a law banning all contracts between same-sex couples. Not just marriage, all contracts. At the center of HB 751 is this language (emphasis ours):[read the Washington Post editorial review] While it is a personal family tragedy for this couple, it also spotlights the underlying issue of an individual's use of discriminatory state laws as legal refuge and court leverage.A civil union, partnership contract or other arrangement between persons of the same sex purporting to bestow the privileges or obligations of marriage is prohibited. Any such civil union, partnership contract or other arrangement entered into by persons of the same sex in another state or jurisdiction shall be void in all respects in Virginia and any contractual rights created thereby shall be void and unenforceable.Virginia outlawed civil marriage between same-sex partners in 1997. The so-called "affirmation of marriage act" goes recklessly far beyond that and seeks to invalidate any and all legal contracts between these individuals. All of the private contracts entered into by couples looking to attain any measure of stability and protection under the rule of law are at risk--including durable powers of attorney, health care directives, even wills and property contracts.
Boycotting Virginia is another matter...a tough call personally because the in-laws live there (and it is a nice place to visit, especially in the fall). Maybe my partner and I just won't spend any money while we're there. We'll tell Mom we're boycotting, perhaps... ;)
I support the concept of boycotting, in spite of some people's arguments saying it economically hurts uninvolved parties and workers more than the companies involved; however, to be effective, boycotts must be applied in an educated and judicious manner. The targets sometimes call them a form of "economic terrorism," but I disagree. Consumers in a free-market system shouldn't be constrained in how they allocate their spending, regardless of whether their choices are dictated by brand preference, price, product features, or other factors such as company politics, employment policies (sweatshop labor, for example) or ideology. It's interesting how buying decisions based on the former are hailed as "free market choice" while the latter are often disparaged as activist propaganda; I see no essential difference between the two. Shunning a product or service because it is morally objectionable or undesirable in some way, as well as choosing one because it is desirable are both legitimate consumer choices.
Here's an example of something being called a boycott that isn't. I've had people say I should buy and consume cow's milk, which I don't enjoy, because it's "good for dairy farmers and the American economy." Sorry...that's a little too un-libertarian for me. I prefer soy milk, so what's wrong with my supporting soybean farmers and their contribution to the American economy instead? That's not a boycott: that's freedom of choice. Some might say that boycotts are inherently un-libertarian, but that's only if one boycotts because of peer pressure or external motivation - ideally, one should always choose to boycott based on personal conscience.
That said, boycotts based on falsehoods or misconceptions are not true organized consumer choices - many well-known boycotts have been based on "urban legends" or hoaxes. We've all heard preposterous word-of-mouth calls to boycott along the lines of "don't buy KFC - it's not really chicken, but genetically-engineered beakless flesh chunks!" or "don't buy Bubble Yum - it's got spider eggs in it!" Those aren't bonafide boycotts, either - they're childish scare tactics.
Like most U.S. states, Virginia depends on tourism for a large chunk of annual income, but even if all gays and lesbians and their supporters opted to not visit Virginia until oppressive laws are overturned, their market choice might not make enough of an impact to make a difference. Then again, it might.
The argument that "the only people you're hurting with a boycott are yourselves and the little workers" doesn't really wash. As a consumer, I have other choices of where to spend my tourism dollars - Virginia is not my only option. If it were, I'd probably still forgo the trip there, visits to the MIL aside. On the other hand, while the workers at boycotted companies may be hurt in the short term by poor business, there are many other demand-side factors that could contribute to poor business besides a boycott.
That's why it's critical the boycott be publicized, so that the boycott-ees know the reason why they are the subject of the action. Also, a brief personal or group letter to the boycotted party is always nice: "Dear [name]; the reason we are not spending the $5,000 we would have spent on our vacation in Virginia is...."
But there's more at stake here than ideology. Why should my partner and I give our tourist dollars to a state that utterly negates our relationship and any efforts we make to give it legal protection? Say, for example, [heaven forbid] one of us was involved in an accident and taken to hospital while vacationing there, and the other was not permitted visitation or allowed to make lifesaving decisions - simply because Virginia does not recognize contracts [such as powers of attorney and healthcare proxies] because the parties are of the same sex? That's just plain wrong, and we'd be foolish to put ourselves in that situation.
Realistically, boycotts usually end up being more a statement of principle than a source of genuine financial hardship for the boycotted party. But sometimes they do work, and they occasionally effect serious change. To me, they're simply a way of "putting your money where your ♥ is." Remember - boycotts are a great American tradition.
Ethical Consumer.org: a UK list of companies being targeted by boycotts, and the stated reasons why.
Co-op America's Boycotts.org, a U.S. listing
Thursday, September 16, 2004
- What could happen if you lost a Flash memory card containing about a year's worth of private photos - then someone found the card and published the pictures in a blog, complete with loads of fictional commentary? See the results at http://ifoundsomeofyourlife.blogspot.com/. [via Wither In The Light]:
In my possession is one (1) memory card from a digital camera. This memory card was found in a taxi in New York City. I have no idea who the owner of the camera is.
The pictures on the memory card were taken over the course of exactly one (1) year in this person's life, starting July Twenty-Fifth, Two Thousand and Three (07-25-03) and ending July Twenty-Fourth, Two Thousand and Four (07-24-04).
I am going to post one (1) picture here each day. As there are two hundred and twenty-seven (227) pictures, there will be two hundred and twenty-seven (227) posts. The pictures will appear in chronological order according to the timestamp accompanying each image.
As the images add up, I will attempt to assemble an identity for this unknown person. Each day's new picture will be a fresh addition to this photographic life-documentation. Only with the unveiling of the final picture (the two hundred and twenty-seventh (227th)) will we finally have a full understanding of this person's life over the past year - at least as far as these pictures will allow us to infer.
Further, in an attempt to present this pictoral information in a more personal manner, and also to better allow for some artistic license, I am going to pretend that I am the owner of the camera. I'll call me Jordan, because that's the name on my birthday cake (you'll see). Enjoy.
- Disney characters gone bad: "Goofy" charged with shoving two photographers at the Orlando theme park; earlier this year same employee was charged and later acquitted of fondling a 13-year old girl while costumed as "Tigger."
- Play the Dilberito Game! Show Dilbert™ the proper foods (that fall from the sky like manna from heaven), avoid doughnuts and fried chicken while making him do pushups and jumping jacks to keep his weight down - and help him avoid the Grim Reaper. [Flash animation - thanks to Dave at Temperantia for the Dilbert link!]
- Get a first-hand taste of life in Madison, WI - complete with shots of local 'fixture' Scanner Dan - at Trout Fishing in South Central Wisconsin
- Classic cool theater: since 1988, Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind has offered 30 plays in 60 minutes...T.M.L.M.T.B.G.B. by the Neofuturists of Chicago!
- Deutsche Welle now offers their website and news in Klingon
Makes me so high
I love all the monitor men
But why are they alive?
The van is make me crazy
It's just like being in the navy
Doomsday, doomsday's coming - 1981
But until things blow
I'm gonna have some fun
The bubble's going to explode
Probably never live to get old
But I just wanna have some fun
Probably won't see no money
I just wanna have some fun
Before they throw me in the sanitarium
Feedback blasting out my ears
Makes me so high
I love all the monitor men
But why are they alive ?
Well Monte's making me crazy
It's just like being in the navy-- The Ramones, "All The Way"
The New York Times remembers Johnny, who died last night at age 55 after a long battle with prostate cancer.
Kurt Loder remembers Johnny Ramone [MTV.com]
Wednesday, September 15, 2004If I am asked which season of the year is my favorite, I will answer that there is no answer; how can one choose? There is only kisetsu, or "seasonal feeling." The year's seasons are not four discrete acts, but are rather like a cycling spectrum of giftwrap in which life daily reveals itself...and I just caught a glimpse of the new design.
fragrant lawn cuttings
rainbows in the sprinkler mist
three yellow leaves fall
rainbows in the sprinkler mist
three yellow leaves fall
- Bicyclists, beware: someone's discovered that Kryptonite® U-Locks™ can often be picked with a ballpoint pen. [Gapers Block]
- Where's Big Brother? A map of downtown Chicago's security surveillance cameras [Sisyphus and the Cuckoo Clock Speech]
- A quick and easy online Myers-Briggs Personality Test. Yes, I guess I'm still an INTJ. [via Kottke]
- Life down on the Pharm: visualizing how Denmarks's (and presumably, other nations') agricultural lands could be used to generate engineered pharmaceuticals, like bioplastics, vaccines, and "mine-sweeper" plants [16-page PDF file, warning: graphics-intensive, via Angermann2]
- One of the best car quotes ever:
"There really are no lemons; there are just misunderstood automobiles."Legal Writing guru Rob Harrison, on SAABs [via Crescat Sententia]
- Interesting thoughts over at Wars of Compassion, J. Ryan Boyd's blog. He's a member of the Philly band Overlord, whose latest album The World Takes features a shot of the "Trenton Makes" bridge I used to ride past every weekend when I was a kid in NJ. That's cool, in my book.
- Please Don't Torture The Vegetables! Veggie Torture Terror at Morrison's [Dear Witho, via The Manly Smell of a Pipe]
Sunday, September 12, 2004
- What happens to bad monkeys in Punjab, India? They go to monkey jail. Seriously. [Chicago Tribune, via CrimLaw]
He was one bad monkey. And last week he was sentenced to life in prison for his crimes, inmate No. 13 at the country's only known monkey jail, where very bad monkeys are sent to live out their remaining years. "He used to eat our guavas," said Bhagwanti Devi, a neighbor who was harassed by the monkey. "He would throw stones and try to hit us. Until we gave him flat bread, he wouldn't leave."
This jail is Punjab state's answer to the monkey menace in India, where killing monkeys is forbidden. Hindus consider monkeys sacred, living representatives of the monkey god Hanuman. Thousands of temples are dedicated to Hanuman, and many people feed monkeys in the hopes of divine rewards.
Monkeys have invaded government ministries in New Delhi, ridden elevators and climbed along windowsills. Monkeys slapped students inside a girls school in a south Bengal suburb. A gang of monkeys in the city of Chandigarh ripped up lawns, broke flowerpots and yanked sheets off beds. Some monkeys, mostly loners, have bitten people, injuring and even killing small children. "Monkeys are very furious," said Ujagar Singh, the Patiala district spokesman. "They are dangerous animals."
- U.K. theater producer threatened with racial hate speech accusations after satirical performances of "Snow White and the Seven Asylum Seekers" is now putting together a more PC version, "Snow Person and the Seven Completely Ordinary People" [Overlawyered]
- Beware this unusual new computer virus that "sniffs" out secure passwords:
The SDBot.UJ scans passing traffic on a network-linked machine for passwords and financial data. The worm tries to exploit one of a number of bugs in the Windows operating system to wriggle on to computers. It then attempts to infect other computers on the same local network by using a dictionary of obvious passwords, for example, “administrator” or “1234”.
Once installed, the worm also activates a customised network "sniffer" program – which allows it to steal vital data. It then connects to an internet relay chat (IRC) network, enabling an outsider to take control of the infected system or collect information harvested from it. [New Scientist]
- Hey, batter batter: Recreate the culinary delights of the Toad [in the Hole] and the Clafoutis, with the help of Waddling Thunder at Crescat Sententia
- How to stop a hurricane in the Gulf? Hint: don't blow it up with a nuke [CNN]
- Especially not this one: Lost nuclear bomb from 1958 possibly found off the coast of Savannah, Georgia; but it's not the only nuke lost during the Cold War. From CNN:
The United States lost 11 nuclear bombs in accidents during the Cold War that were never recovered, according to the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. An estimated 50 nuclear warheads, most of them from the former Soviet Union, still lie on the bottom of the world's oceans, according to the environmental group Greenpeace.
One of the most celebrated accidents took place over Palomares, Spain [the Palomares "Broken Arrow"], in January 1966 when a U.S. B-52 collided with a KC-135 tanker during midair refueling and released all four of its hydrogen bombs in the ensuing explosion. Seven of the 11 crewmen aboard both planes were killed. The high explosive igniters on two bombs detonated on impact, spreading radioactive material, including plutonium, over a wide area of the Spanish countryside. A third bomb landed relatively intact and was recovered.
The fourth bomb landed in the Mediterranean Sea, and U.S. military searchers took nearly three months to find and recover the device intact. According to the Brookings Institution, the United States spent $182 million on the recovery effort, nuclear waste disposal and settlement claims.
- The bio-cleanup tool of the future may be giant mats of mushrooms, which can selectively absorb toxins, chemical spills and radioactive isotopes. The magic mushrooms can also "clean up polluted mines, restore forest roads and perhaps even aid in managing beetle outbreaks." [Vail Daily Online]
Saturday, September 11, 2004
"Dear New York,
I'm sorry I couldn't be there today. I feel guilty that I couldn't be present to observe. I had to look up the weather there to find out it was, again, a clear, beautiful day in September. I almost wish it weren't, because I know that it just acts as a reminder for so many in the city of the perfect indian summer day we were having three years ago.
Things are very different here, a continent away. They're clearly sympathetic and thoughtful about this date, but... it feels like an observance. Not that it's not sincere, but people are sincere on Memorial Day or in remembering Pearl Harbor, too. They just don't feel them at a visceral level..." [Read full post at Anil Dash's]
Friday, September 10, 2004Are doorknobs "public" or "private"? Either supposition has implications that limit their evidentiary value in secret search cases, and that's the thorny issue in the cases of three Salt Lake City men, who are challenging the legality of search warrants obtained after Utah police secretly used test swabs to collect drug and firearms residue samples from their homes' doorknobs. From the Salt Lake Tribune:
[F]ederal prosecutors insist no warrant is needed to swab a doorknob and run the test - called an Ionscan - to detect whether occupants and visitors have been in contact with drugs. The exterior of a home cannot be expected to remain untouched, they say, as friends, solicitors, proselytizers, campaign workers and delivery people come to the door.TalkLeft quotes a ruling by Utah Judge Ted Stewart,
Assistant U.S. Attorney Leshia Lee-Dixon pointed out that visitors to [plaintiff Anthony Diviase] Mora's home were directed by a sign to go around to the back door. The invitation meant officers could touch the door, she wrote in a court filing. Mora did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the door handles to his screen or inside back doors, Lee-Dixon wrote.
In an Ionscan, a sample is taken by rubbing a sterile cloth over a surface to collect residue. The swab is placed in a machine that analyzes particles and gives an alert when certain substances are found, such as cocaine and methamphetamine. The technology is used at airports, including Salt Lake City's International Airport, to check suitcases for explosives.
...cit[ing] a 2001 U.S. Supreme Court opinion that required Oregon police to get a warrant before using thermal imaging technology, which senses the use of heat lamps.....Taking the sample from Mora's door was similar, Stewart wrote. "The swab of the outside of the doorknob reveals something about the details of the interior of the home that is unknowable without physical intrusion - that persons who have handled drugs have entered," the judge said.While I agree with the ruling because it limits a questionable stretching of the Fourth Amendment, I also see a fundamental problem with its logic: if traces of drugs [or firearm residue] are found on a doorknob, this fact alone does not prove that anyone possessing or handling these substances actually entered the premises, much less that the person[s] in question lives or spends time at that location. All it proves is that someone who came in contact with illegal substances touched the doorknob - which could be any of us considering that public surfaces are known to be contaminated with everything from nose candy to E. coli. Some studies have shown that up to 90% of U.S. paper currency in circulation contains traces of cocaine. ["Drug Contamination of U.S. Currency," Amanda J. Jenkins, Forensic Science International Oct. 1, 2001, pp. 189-93 (abstract)]
Drug WarRant puts it this way:
The legal question is quite interesting, academically. I lean to the notion that either the doorknob is private, in which case a warrant is needed to test it, or it's public, in which case there's no way to know who touched it and a positive test is not justification to search the house.That's the crux of the problem. I live in a busy Chicago apartment complex, where dozens of people come and go from the premises every day. Delivery people, mailmen, movers, and visitors come and go, and they probably touch a lot of doorknobs. If someone's visitor who'd recently used drugs knocked on my door and tried the knob before realizing they had they wrong apartment, I'd have heaven-knows-what on my doorknob (I probably have heaven-knows-what on my doorknobs anyway, but I'd rather not think about that right now). Even if police tested the door on a single-family home in a remote location, the knob may have been touched by many people not connected to the residence in any meaningful way. That's why fingerprint samples taken from doorknobs are virtually useless as legal evidence.
What about the "garbage can" search loophole, that allows police to search using the argument that trash becomes public property once it is discarded by the owner? Orin at Volokh Conspiracy states,
On the other hand, the residue on a doorknob may be seen as analogous to the garbage bags left out on the street in California v. Greenwood.I would hope that the court wouldn't give the two situations similar weight, for a few reasons. Garbage, even if not bagged or otherwise separated into containers easily linked to a given residence or business, is usually used by investigators to obtain documents, DNA samples, hair and fibers, and body fluids - mainly individual-characteristic evidence, primarily useful in linking a specific piece of evidence with a specific suspect. Class-characteristic evidence, under which drug and firearm residue would fall, is not generally useful in making these specific one-to-one matches, and its value depends chiefly on the circumstances of how and where the evidence was found. Garbage taken from a single-family home trash receptacle would be more useful than that found in a communal Dumpster - for example, if police found cocaine traces in my apartment building's common trash bin, there is no reasonable way they could link it with a particular occupant.
Last spring I took an introductory forensic science class, where we learned how easily evidence is transferred and spread around on publicly-handled objects. That's one of the reason why illnesses like pinkeye, colds and flu spread so quickly; when you grasp a door handle, you're not just leaving evidence (and viruses) - you're picking it up as well and subsequently transferring those particles onto the next object you come in contact with. If fingerprints and germs disseminate so widely with normal handling of doorknobs, on what basis can police claim that drugs and firearm residue are reasonably connected to the occupants of a home or apartment? Sounds to me that these Utah "soldiers in the war on drugs" are grasping at straws...er, doorknobs.
MORE: "The police want to rub your knobs." on Drug WarRant
"Swiping Doorknobs and the Fourth Amendment," on Volokh Conspiracy
"No Privacy Right in Doorknobs," TalkLeft
"Doorknob Swabs Challenged" on the Salt Lake Tribune
IonSCAN® Product details
"False Alarm," [AlterNet] an article on the civil rights implications of a competing chemical analysis product called Itemiser®
Free Republic thread on doorknob swabbing
- Read: "Tomato Love," a short story by Cynthia Potts that reminds me of O. Henry's classic Gift of the Magi, only with a sweeter ending - and more Vitamin C.
- Register: to vote, that is, if you haven't already. All you have to do is download your state's mail-in voter registration PDF form [not available for ND and WY residents], mail it in, and you're done. What could be simpler? [via Locussolus]
- Click: This IS Grand and Darkroom have teamed up for the first TIG: Tales from Chicago Transit photo contest [click for details].
- Remember: Aaron, author of the blog Uppity Negro has died, an apparent suicide. R.I.P. [via Sour Bob]
- Chicago to become vanguard Big Brother city, as Mayor Daley annouces unprecedented citywide surveillance-camera plan [via Gapers Block]
- Tvindy shows you how to make quick-and-easy stained-glass windows, with spray foam insulation and Milk of Magnesia™ bottles. Cool.
- Werd! place to keep all those utterances and neologisms when people tell you, "that's not a real word!" I'd love to play Scrabble™ with The Dicshunary
- An illustrated how-to - turn your old Nintendo into a PC! [via Boing Boing]
- If you've got 14k to spare, there's a 288-round-per-second paintball Gatling gun with your name on it, on eBay [via Gizmodo]
- Straight out of the most futuristic manga, explore the Discovery Channel's interactive model of Tokyo's planned 3,330 ft.-high Sky City
- Another one for the size queens: Berlin's AquaDom, the world's tallest (5 stories high) vertical glass aquarium, with an elevator running through the middle [via Boing Boing]
- Personally, I love the way Anil Dash has redecorated his blog
Thursday, September 09, 2004Tim at Freespace has a good post today discussing the reasons we shouldn't reinstate military conscription, as some lawmakers propose:
To me, the whole thing [current partisan bickering over Presidential candidates' Vietnam past] is evidence (if it were needed) of just what a bad idea the military draft is—how harmful the draft is to political society. Forcing hundreds of thousands of young men to go to their deaths created a situation where people sought desperately to escape, or to bend the rules to allow their friends and family to escape. Those who went, and their families, necessarily resent those who were able to manipulate the rules enough to stay in college or get in the National Guard or somehow escape the war. Others, like Kerry, cynically embraced the war at first as a political opportunity, which gains resentment on the other side—and then joined the war protestors. The protestors were able to attract much support for their position because of the draft. Those who saw the Vietnam war as a struggle for freedom had their argument seriously undermined by the fact that they were sending men to die without their consent. [continue reading "The Draft"]I also found this May 2004 Seattle Post-Intelligencer story that reports the U.S. Selective Service System was - or is - proposing some other frightening changes in light of potential personnel shortages, namely, expanding the eligibility age up to 34 (from 25), requiring mandatory reporting of [valuable to the military] computer and foreign language skills, and including women in the draft rolls.
Now the hidden odorophonics were beginning to blow a wind of odor at the two people in the middle of the baked veldtland. The hot straw smell of lion grass, the cool green smell of the hidden water hole, the great rusty smell of animals, the smell of dust like a red paprika in the hot air...The concept of odor-players has fascinated other futurists as well; Dune author Frank Herbert described an "odalarm" device in The Dosadi Experiment. Today's inventors are still trying to create a workable aroma player: Japanese firm K Opticom last July announced an Internet-based aroma delivery device called Kaori Web.
Trial units of the "Kaori Web" system will be placed at K Opticom's internet cafes in Japan until the end of September. But what is the "Kaori Web," you ask? See a picture of a flower, smell a flower. See a picture of waffles, smell waffles. The "Kaori Web" helps some realize their dream of having computers produce scents, to immerse them into a new environment finally covering all five senses. Or hackers will just use it to make some websites smell like a dog exploded.Another company, Trisenx, has a series of sophisticated computerized odor-players, like the $369 Scent Dome™ which releases controlled blends of dozens of primary fragrances to generate a palette of virtual aromas - Technovelgy.com describes the Scent Dome™ as a kind of "printer for smells". It's an apt analogy, since unlike audio speakers and television screens that use transducers to convert electricity to sound or light, a smell-player, like a printer, would require reloadable cartidges of dispersable scents.
However, the main technical difficulty in creating a real odor-player comes from the fact that smell is likely the least-understood sensory modality. Various theories have tried to explain the mechanics of how the brain perceives and categorizes aromas. One of these, the "primary smells" concept, believes there are a small number of basic aromas that combine like primary colors to create the fragrance spectrum. Some recent research suggests that like sight and hearing, the vibrational frequency of molecules we sniff may be an important clue in unlocking the mysteries of smell.
The remote-identification value of one's personal aromas hasn't been lost on our government, either, as DARPA [Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency] claims to be developing a device that can identify individuals by their scents:
Researchers have shown that mice release a urinary odor that is genetically unique, DARPA says. It's based on the combination of acids found in varying concentrations. So if it's possible to detect an individual mouse, why not a human by the smell of his or her urine or sweat?Maybe Smell-o-Vision hasn't caught on because unlike sight and hearing, which rely on relatively "impersonal" electromagnetic radiation or air pressure waves impinging on the body's sense receptors, smell and taste require actual mucous membrane contact with molecules of the substance to be detected. Try not to think of that next time you're in a crowded public restroom.
If scientists can prove that it works within two and a half years, DARPA wants to build a prototype within six years, spokeswoman Jan Walker said. Such a detector would essentially allow on-the-fly DNA identification, measuring and collecting yet another biometric, or identifying characteristic of the human body, Walker said.
Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists, a Washington group that circulated news of DARPA's proposal, warns that such a detector ? if it were ever built ? might be confused by myriad and changing odors that people exude.
Wednesday, September 08, 2004For the past week or so, I've had an amazing number of hits from people searching for information on the new Shania Twain-shilled Febreze™ Scent Stories® aroma-player - a device that 'plays' scent-impregnated discs that change smells every 30 minutes.
Granted, it's a slightly innovative take on home scent-delivery systems, but after I read the product homepage, the little white bug-shaped machine strikes me as nothing more than the olfactory analog to Willy Wonka's Everlasting Gobstoppers®, the multi-layered candy that changes flavors as you suck on it. After you've had one, you know that cherry comes after lemon, and grape comes after that. It this really so novel?
With the Scent Stories player, you apparently get a multi-sectioned disc that "plays" the perfume of Forest Mists or some such, followed by Summer Breezes, subsequently ushering in 30 minutes of Ocean Tsunamis, climaxing with a Wagnerian Eau de Ride of the Valkyries. (Actually, one of their smell-o-discs regales you with Five Variations on the Theme of Vanilla - go to the website, click on the circles respresenting the five scents, and marvel at how a different tune plays for each one! Talk about synesthesia.)
I was hoping this invention might be a real, honest to goodness 'Smell-O-Vision' that plugs into your DVD player, blasting you with a computer-generated puff of scent that corresponds to whatever appears on the screen, which could be dangerous if one watches Greco-Roman wrestling or Olympic beach volleyball. No such luck. It's only an automatic version of the Four Air Fresheners of the Apocalypse sitting ominously in our work bathroom, ready to slay serious stinks from the Four Corners of the Earth.
Just wait a few months, and you'll be able to snag a Febreze Scent Stories player at your local yard sale for next to nothing. They'll be nestled in with the beef jerky makers, the fruit dehydrators, and the rest of those forgotten gotta-have'em holiday gift gadgets. Give me Nippon Kodo Incense any day - now, that's wonderful stuff. If you want a kaleidoscope of smells, look no further than their NK Line's amazing chromatic range of bouquets, like 'Snow in Kyoto,' 'Bees In Love," or 'Rice Shower.' Totally, totally stinkadelic.
- The Museum of Depressionist Art redefines the classics of Western (and Eastern) Civilization, and then some - as exemplified by the masterworks Rogaine®, The Early Years and The Lester Children Find Mommy's Happy Pills [via No Milk, Please]
- TiVo teams up Netflix to offer downloadable movies. Questions: How much $, and how many times can you play the downloaded movies? It is cost-effective and worth the price? [via Anil Dash]
- Another interesting idea: subscribe to Film Movement and receive an exclusive release critically-acclaimed or award-winning indie film (that hasn't been splattered all over your local megaplex) on DVD - to keep - for under $20 a month [via Trout Fishing in South-Central Wisconsin, the blog formerly known as Dear God Damn Diary]
- End of an Era: London will decommission its legendary Double Decker bus fleet by the end of 2005
- At long last, the Log Cabin Republicans have abandoned Bush [Daily Kos]
- Well, I'll be damned: Dim Byd O Gwbl, a blog in Cymru (Welsh)
- The Etmology of "Abooga...Rrrraip": C. Jodi at the Journal of the Demographically Insignificant gives us the dirt on Philip Gourevitch's New Yorker piece, "Bushspeak," which explains that George W. Bush's "everyman" lingo is actually a disarming populist cover for his true underlying political and statesmanly genius. "Chauncey! Chauncey Gardner!"
- Speaking of misunderstood genius, have you ever had the pleasure of hearing The Shaggs' classic tune My Pal Foot Foot?
DEPENDING on whom you ask, the Shaggs were either the best band of all time or the worst. Frank Zappa is said to have proclaimed that the Shaggs were "better than the Beatles."
More recently, though, a music fan who claimed to be in "the fetal position, writhing in pain," declared on the Internet that the Shaggs were "hauntingly bad," and added, "I would walk across the desert while eating charcoal briquettes soaked in Tobasco for forty days and forty nights not to ever have to listen to anything Shagg-related ever again."
Such a divergence of opinion confuses the mind. Listening to the Shaggs' album "Philosophy of the World" will further confound. The music is winsome but raggedly discordant pop. Something is sort of wrong with the tempo, and the melodies are squashed and bent, nasal, deadpan.
Are the Shaggs referencing the heptatonic, angular microtones of Chinese ya-yueh court music and the atonal note clusters of Ornette Coleman, or are they just a bunch of kids playing badly on cheap, out-of-tune guitars?" [Susan Orlean, "Meet The Shaggs"]
- Engrish.com picture of the day: Watermelon Pig Candy
Tuesday, September 07, 2004
- The Genesis spacecraft capsule, containing physical particle samples from the Sun's corona, to be captured over the Utah desert tomorrow [New Zealand News]
- Read the latest version of Eden's Apple: A Novel by E. David Jansing...yes, none other than Dave over at Temperantia. Looks like a good autumn read...and I can't wait to check out Chapter 23, "Kentucky Fried Apocalypse." Dang, what a great title. Dave has a PDF file of the complete draft free for the downloading on his site.
- Kon-Tiki to sail again: Thor Heyerdahl's legendary 1947 Pacific raft voyage will be attempted once more with a crew that includes grandson Olav, 29 [CNN]
- Critique and watch movies like a pro with this encyclopedic list of film clichés: Roger Ebert's Glossary of Movie Terms, e.g.,
Seven-Minute Rule: In the age of the seven-minute attention span (inspired by the average length between TV commercials), action movies aimed at teen-agers are constructed out of several seven-minute segments. At the end of each segment, another teen-ager is dead. When all the teen-agers are dead (or, if you arrived in the middle, when the same dead teen-ager turns up twice), the movie is over.Note: does the "seven minute rule" have any connection with the popular notion of periodic seven-minute lulls in ordinary conversation?
Sex-Specific Disintegrating Outfit: When the male and female characters in a trashy action movie go to hell and back, only the woman's clothing begins to disintegrate. and,
Sturgeon's Law: "90 percent of everything is crap." (First formulated in the 1950s by the science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon; quoted here because it so manifestly applies to motion pictures.)
- Thwart vandals - heck, make 'em break their arms - with these fortified mailboxes, as seen on Boing Boing
- Get the inside scoop on Vincent Gallo's...ahem...film, The Brown Bunny, from Greengrl
Sunday, September 05, 2004While some have pointed out there are more more pressing issues in blogdom, I must say the ongoing cloning conversation with Positive Liberty has been both stimulating and enlightening. I posted this comment on Jason's post responding to "Update on Cloning":
[Two commenters] bring up the very good point that parents who would choose to clone either a deceased family member - or themselves - may already be bringing a strong element of conformity and prior expecation to the parenting relationship, which would express itself regardless of their child's genetic provenance. True, and not in itself a reason to oppose cloning.If you'd like a little break from the elections kerfuffle, why not pop over there and visit?
An interesting experiment - interesting, but likely not ethical - would be to raise a "single-blinded" cloned child - i.e. neither the family nor the child would know that they are cloned, but the genetic lab would know. I'm sure the child would be brought up as any other, and be as psychologically healthy (or unhealthy) as any other child that family would have raised. Medical issues aside, this would give researchers and bioethicists a control point to review the long-term effects separate from familial "cloning expectations."
From a legal and criminal justice perpective, cloning presents unique problems. Granted, there have been a few cases where an identical twin has been wrongfully accused of crimes committed by the other - or both. The Will/William West case cast widespread doubt on the infallibility of Alphonse Bertillon's anthropometric identification method when two identical-looking men (incarcerated separately) were discovered at the same US penitentiary, both having exactly the same biometric measurements. After the West case, fingerprinting gradually became accepted as the new legal identity standard. Will and William West were later discovered to be identical twins separated at birth.
This detail isn't intended as an indictment of cloning, per se, but I can see how the validity of today's DNA identification would gradually become legally useless (a la Bertillon's anthropometry) if cloning becomes widespread - for example, a defendant could always claim "the clone did it!" if the non-existence of one's clone somewhere in the world could be hard to rule out.
Friday, September 03, 2004
- Somehow, this wasn't what I had in mind when entertainment pundits used to talk about "the future of recorded music": the Napster To Go service appears to use a dedicated portable audio player/download device [okay, so it's a jukebox] to pipe tunes by subscription - when the money runs out, so does the music.
- Cue the X-Files theme song [.wav file here]: "Black Triangle" UFO sightings are on the rise again [Space.com, via Kottke]
- Smell-o-vision has finally arrived!
"Febreeze 'Scent Stories' is a smellovision player that loads in discs charged with smelly compounds that are slowly rotated through, a new stink every 30 minutes."[Boing Boing]
- Dottocomu's Aragoto reports: Volcano eruption in Japan, no evacuations:
According to the TV news a volcano called Asamayama in Gunma prefecture has just erupted. This is, after all, the anniversary of the start of World War II, the Great Kanto Earthquake, and the birth of Gloria Estefan. Something bad had to happen.
"Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) are designing a self-contained, tamper-resistant nuclear reactor that can be transported and installed anywhere in the world."[New Scientist, via Slashdot, with more on Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends blog]
- Overstating the Obvious Moment of the Week: Bush Blames Terrorists for Russian Deaths [Reuters]
- Can you move the knight to every square of a chessboard - using only legal moves - in the fewest steps possible? Try this
horribly addictivevirtual Knight's Tour Simulator! [via Locussolus]
- Some interesting essays on Chris Carter's late great MilleniuM series, on Millennial Abyss
- Never be bored again, by visiting the ever-updated links on I-am-bored.com; that is, unless you get bored with doing that.
- Instead Nintendo and automatic weapons, now about a nice game of Conkers? [via Oblomovka]
- Boing Boing has a great post on LRAD [Long Range Acoustic Device]'s being used against NY protesters at the RNC
We all saw the anger and distortion of the Republican Convention. For the past week, they attacked my patriotism and my fitness to serve as commander in chief. Well, here's my answer... [continue reading "Kerry's Response"]Not to mention there are only 8 more weeks to go...are we having fun yet?
Thursday, September 02, 2004Jason Kuznicki at Positive Liberty has posted his thoughts on the cloning issue, and I'd like to invite you to visit the discussion over at his place...it's very interesting to read his well-articulated views from the other side of the cloning argument. I've also posted my additional thoughts, in response, in the PL comments here and here.
While I do not agree with some of its findings and viewpoints, there is one passage from the July 2002 President's Council on Bioethics report, "Human Cloning and Human Dignity: An Ethical Inquiry" (chaired by University of Chicago's Dr. Leon R. Kass) that sums up many of my feelings and reservations about human cloning:
"...our genetic makeup does not by itself determine our identities...[b]ut our genetic uniqueness is an important source of our sense of who we are and how we regard ourselves. It is an emblem of independence and individuality. It endows us with a sense of life as a never-before-enacted possibility. Knowing and feeling that nobody has previously possessed our particular gift of natural characteristics, we go forward as genetically unique individuals into relatively indeterminate futures.My objections to human cloning aren't so much based on the idea that there is something "unnatural" about clones or the cloning process, any more than in vitro fertilization - or even general surgery - can be considered "unnatural." The part that troubles me is that cloning seems to be a technique for creating identical twins that will carry unacceptably steep personal and emotional costs for both cloned children and the society they will live in.
These new and unique genetic identities are rooted in the natural procreative process. A cloned child, by contrast, is at risk of living out a life overshadowed in important ways by the life of the "original" – general appearance being only the most obvious. Indeed, one of the reasons some people are interested in cloning is that the technique promises to produce in each case a particular individual whose traits and characteristics are already known. And however much or little one's genotype actually shapes one's natural capacities, it could mean a great deal to an individual's experience of life and the expectations that those who cloned him or her might have.
The cloned child may be constantly compared to "the original," and may consciously or unconsciously hold himself or herself up to the genetic twin that came before. If the two individuals turned out to lead similar lives, the cloned person's achievements may be seen as derivative. If, as is perhaps more likely, the cloned person departed from the life of his or her progenitor, this very fact could be a source of constant scrutiny, especially in circumstances in which parents produced their cloned child to become something in particular.
Living up to parental hopes and expectations is frequently a burden for children; it could be a far greater burden for a cloned individual. The shadow of the cloned child's "original" might be hard for the child to escape, as would parental attitudes that sought in the child's very existence to replicate, imitate, or replace the "original."
The U.S. Department of Labor has recently ruled that programs which fall under Displaced Homemaker Services cannot use federal funds help unwed single moms. How compassionate of them.The Ithaca Journal piece describes how drastically this change will affect a local program, the Women's Opportunity Center:
In New York, centers were notified that they can only help women who can prove their marital status by providing evidence of divorce, death of a spouse, or something that shows proof of a previous legal marriage. (Meaning gay unions are TOTALLY out of the question.)
From the Ithaca Journal: "Left out of the federal definition for displaced homemakers are those who do not meet the criteria for the word "family," including unwed single mothers, mothers and children from broken homes where a marriage certificate was never issued, mothers and children who can't afford the costs associated with obtaining a divorce certificate, and mothers from same-sex relationships."
The [Ithaca WOC program] will no longer be allowed to use federal funds to assist unwed single mothers, according to a U.S. Department of Labor interpretation of the word "family" in the latest Displaced Homemaker Services eligibility guidelines. Dammi Herath, the executive director of the center, said on Thursday that the new regulations affect about 330 of the more than 500 women the center serves each year.A full two thirds of the women currently in the WOC will be disqualified because of this ruling. Sadly, policy changes like these are almost always relegated to the back pages of the papers, and the way many people first learn of their existence is when they're told "sorry, we can't help you" at a government office.
...According to a state Department of Labor document issued to program coordinators on Jan. 24, centers will now only be allowed to use federal funds for women who can produce a divorce certificate or death certificate proving they have previously been in a legally recognized marriage.
..."It's dumb, whatever it is," Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D-125th Dist.) said Thursday from her Ithaca office. "I think it's a bad idea, not serving a wide range of people who could really use these resources. If you can't afford to go get a divorce, you're stuck."
Herath, who saw her center's funding drop from $212,000 to $162,000 last year, says she's still extremely grateful to the state for the money she does receive, and that her sole complaint is with the extremely limited definition of the word "family."
If state funds are so tight, wouldn't it be more fair instead to raise financial qualification thresholds and still help the poorest homemakers, rather than using this moralistic standard of marital status - essentially, children's legitimacy - to determine a woman's aid eligibility? This isn't "supporting family values" - this is "Scarlet Letter Lite."
- Gizmodo shows us the Chia Computer Keyboard™...but is it organic?
- A Welshman has discovered what may be the world's oldest condoms, and no, they're not from your uncle's high-school prom. [via Greengrl]
- ET phoning home? The home-based SETI program picks up a mysterious signal from space [New Scientist] UPDATE: Slashdot says it was just a glitch. Dang.
- Guess who's not in this Cheney family picture? You guessed it. [via Gay American]
- Animal, vegetable, or mineral? You decide. [via Gapers Block]
Wednesday, September 01, 2004News.com.au reports an American is attempting to create human clones from two deceased individuals:
...[M]averick American scientist Dr. Panos Zavos will announce that he has taken DNA from two corpses and used it to create embryonic clones of the dead people.There are so many ethical dilemmas surrounding human cloning, that I'll summarize my viewpoint right now by saying that I think it's a really, really bad idea, socially and psychologically, both for cloned individuals and for their families. The hubris of attempting human cloning will only prove we can duplicate bodies; we will never be able to duplicate personalities and souls, and this will be a never-ending source of disappointment and pain for all involved.
Zavos says he has taken DNA from an 11-year-old girl called Cady and a 33-year-old man, both of whom died in road accidents, and implanted it into living eggs that subsequently divided in the laboratory to form embryos. But an attempt to make a third clone, using DNA taken from a dummy and nasal extractor belonging to a baby who died, has so far failed to provide results.
The controversial experiment is certain to provoke a furious backlash from critics, who will accuse Zavos, from Lexington, Kentucky, of using gruesome Frankenstein science and of playing God.
While many believe it wrong to make a clone - a sequential twin - of a living person, at least the families of the cloned and clon-ee should instinctively realize that the two individuals do not share the same psychology or "internal state" and are not the same individual occupying two (or more) bodies. On the other hand, cloning the dead involves more pitiful and heartrending motivations than cloning the living.
If Dr. Zavos succeeds, he will have made the identical embryos (and bodies) of 11-year old Cady, or of the unidentified 33-year old man whose DNA he has salvaged. The clones will not be those people. Yet, how will the families be able to extricate their hopes, fears, history and expectations of their deceased loved ones from these new bodies their DNA has generated? Clones will have none of their genetic forebears' memories, thoughts, or experiences, yet the families will see a familiar face and expect a stopped life to restart, and the past to reveal itself, like some bizarre living recording.
"But...[he/she] used to love playing chess and singing...don't you remember the time we all went to...oh, no. I guess you wouldn't remember."
That, to me, is one of the core tragedies of human cloning... what Dr. Zavos is trying to do is an affront to the living and a disservice to the memory of the dead.
The only positive gain I can see arising from successful human cloning is that it will throw a monkeywrench into the use of DNA identification technology, and perhaps reduce the temptations of establishing a future global DNA database...but that's a minor consolation, compared to what humankind would lose.
"Now, the other party says there are two Americas. Don't believe that ... We are one America, and President Bush is defending it with all his heart and soul..."-- California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), in his speech at the RNC last night.
"I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America; there's the United States of America.-- Illinois Senate candidate Barack Obama (D), in his keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. How short do they think Americans' memories are?
There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America...[w]e are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America."
Yup, it's as down-the-rabbit-hole surreal as I expected. Speakers at the Republican National Convention are praising Richard Nixon, comparing supporters of gay marriage (and gay families) with Nazis, claiming the Republican party is the "Party of God," [perhaps they should rename themselves the POG?] the Guvernator calls Democrats "girly men" - and we get a Beavis and Butthead episode in drag, too!
Not to mention Dennis "Protesters are Anarchists!" Hastert or Alan "Too Busy for the RNC, But Not Too Busy To Slam Veep's Daughter" Keyes. Even many in the mainstream Illinois GOP are starting to treat him like the plague. [Thanks to Positive Liberty, Atrios, Dispatches From The Culture Wars, Gapers Block and The Chicago Tribune [reg. req.] for the posts, commentary, and sanity.]
"It came to Marvin Heemeyer while soaking in his hot tub in 2001 that God wanted him to turn a bulldozer into a fortified tank and use it to teach the town of Granby a lesson." -- Rocky Mountain News.com9News.com has streaming audio/video and a partial transcription:
"God built me for this job," Heemeyer said in an April 13 recording. He even said it was God's plan that he not be married or have family so that he could be in a position to carry out such an attack. The tapes, which Heemeyer mailed to his brother in South Dakota shortly before stepping into his bulldozer, were released by the Grand County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday. They are nearly three hours in length. The last recording was made 13 days before the rampage.
"I think God will bless me to get the machine done, to drive it, to do the stuff that I have to do" he said. "God blessed me in advance for the task that I am about to undertake. It is my duty. God has asked me to do this. It's a cross that I am going to carry and I'm carrying it in God's name," he said.
The tape starts, "Hello, my name is Marvin Heemeyer. Today is - let's see here - April 13th, 2004. I am making this tape (thought I should make it a year ago). Made part of it, didn't like it. Really didn't think it would make a difference if I did make it, but a good friend of mine said I should make it. He said I should sit down in front of a videotape machine and do it. But you're just going to have to take my word that this is Marv Heemeyer. Serial number 503689471.... [read more]"More: Denver Post story on the tapes
Is, as Kubiak claims, "more of everything this year" a good thing? Alas, even city slickers need their fix of Butter Drenched Ears, consumed in the streets...sounds like a scene from a bad zombie movie. Note that "[s]ome people from Chicago make a habit of coming here just to get the corn," since there is likely no other reason they would leave the Glittering Metropolis-on-the-Prairie to visit DeKalb.Festival draws decent crowd
from: Metro News (www.star.niu.edu)
Rain keeps some away from Corn Fest; dedicated make it out.
Thousands of people crowded the streets of downtown DeKalb streets at this year's Corn Fest. Corn fans packed the streets of downtown DeKalb for their chance to eat butter-drenched ears at the city's 26th annual Corn Fest.
Last year, about 200,000 people attended the fest. Although the number was slightly smaller this year, at about 150,000, attendance was still large, said Corn Fest Board Chair David Emanuelson. Kim Kubiak, executive director of the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, said there was more of everything this year.
"The fact that Corn Fest is the week after students move in is attracting more people - it's good for attendance," Kubiak said. 15 local organizations performed at the community stage, and more than 150 food and craft vendors set up booths.
"The most attractive performance was Joan Jett and the Blackhearts," Kubiak said. Joan Jett's single "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" hit the top of the Billboard Charts in March 1982 and stayed No. 1 for seven weeks, according to www.joanjett.com.
The DeKalb Chamber of Commerce became the sponsor of the fest in the 1960s, which was then called "Corn Boil." In 1977, it became known as Corn Fest. "At the 1977 festival is when Corn Fest rendered its largest expansion with the sound stage as a major attraction. And the carnival was added," Kubiak said. Don Merwin, Kishwaukee-DeKalb Kiwanis Club member, said he has been to the event the past 28 years.
"We sell corn and have a 50/50 raffle in which all of the money goes back into the community," Merwin said. "This is one of our major fundraising events for the year that helps us reach our goals," Merwin said. The Kiwanis Club recently put in bike paths throughout DeKalb that now connect the local parks and reach all the way to Sycamore.
The corn offered at the fest is a big attraction for people from outside the area, Merwin said. "Some people from Chicago make a habit of coming here just to get the corn," Merwin said.
NIU students also make Corn Fest part of their annual school return. Jake Lannert, a junior political science major, said this was the first year he ate the corn at Corn Fest. "Last year was my first time at Corn Fest, but I didn't eat the corn, and now I feel deprived," Lannert said.
Sorry - I'm currently in "snark" mode after watching the RNC.