Wednesday, September 27, 2006Iva Toguri D'Aquino, the woman widely believed to be the infamous broadcaster "Tokyo Rose," died yesterday in Chicago at age 90. From CBS2.com:
D'Aquino, who spent the years following her release from prison living a quiet life on Chicago's North Side, died of natural causes at about 12:30 p.m. at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, said William Toguri, D'Aquino's nephew. Tokyo Rose was the name given to a female radio broadcaster responsible for anti-American transmissions intended to demoralize soldiers fighting in the Pacific theater during World War II.For more, see the Wikipedia entry on Tokyo Rose: "Mrs. D'Aquino managed a Japanese import shop on Belmont Street, Chicago, until her death on 26 September 2006." I'd walked by that store many times, but never walked in; I had no idea about the story behind J. Toguri Mercantile.
D'Aquino, whose maiden name was Toguri, was born in Los Angeles on July 4, 1916, to Japanese immigrant parents...Using the name "Orphan Ann," she performed comedy skits and introduced newscasts. In 1945, she was arrested in Yokohama and accused of treason. She served six years in prison following her conviction in San Francisco in 1949.
But doubts about her possible role as Tokyo Rose later surfaced and in 1977 she was pardoned by President Gerald Ford. [read full article]
MORE: on WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Monday, September 25, 2006New York. The name conjures up images of soaring towers, congested traffic, and broadminded, cosmopolitan attitudes, but today's New York Times' expose of the dreadful shortcomings of justice in small-town New York State bring to mind the smallest attitudes in the reddest of states. In some of these jurisdictions, there are literally no standards for who can sit on the town judicial bench - not even a high-school diploma, or even the most basic legal training.
"...A woman in Malone, N.Y., was not amused. A mother of four, she went to court in that North Country village seeking an order of protection against her husband, who the police said had choked her, kicked her in the stomach and threatened to kill her. The justice, Donald R. Roberts, a former state trooper with a high school diploma, not only refused, according to state officials, but later told the court clerk, "Every woman needs a good pounding every now and then."Full disclosure: I lived in the North Country region of New York (in one of the above towns) for nearly 20 years, and can vouch for the fact that if you're the slightest bit 'different' - in national origin, race, religion (i.e., non-Christian), sexual orientation, what have you - you will always, ALWAYS be an 'outsider.'
A black soldier charged in a bar fight near Fort Drum became alarmed when his accuser described him in court as "that colored man." But the village justice, Charles A. Pennington, a boat hauler and a high school graduate, denied his objections and later convicted him. "You know," the justice said, "I could understand if he would have called you a Negro, or he had called you a nigger."
And several people in the small town of Dannemora were intimidated by their longtime justice, Thomas R. Buckley, a phone-company repairman who cursed at defendants and jailed them without bail or a trial, state disciplinary officials found. Feuding with a neighbor over her dog’s running loose, he threatened to jail her and ordered the dog killed.
"I just follow my own common sense," Mr. Buckley, in an interview, said of his 13 years on the bench. "And to Hell with the law." [read full article]
In towns like these, that often translates to failure of justice should you find yourself on a local judge's 'bad side.' And - if you're a woman? Even if you're a 'town native,' you'll be exposed to attitudes like these, if your concerns run counter to the good-old-boy network. The temptation is to say these are isolated "rotten apple" examples, but I fear the decay goes far deeper.
Friday, September 22, 2006I won't even begin to speculate what might have caused this little mishap, seen today in an ivoried tower ladies' room at the U of C.
- Nirvana - "Smella Like Teen Spirit"
- Asobi Seksu - "It's Too Late"
- Muse - "Soldier's Poem"
- Oddioblender - "Whirlwind Emotional Wash"
- Sunset Rubdown - "Shut Up I Am Dreaming Of Places Where Lovers Have Wings"
- Blur - "Song 2" (yes, the 'Woo Hoo' song)
- Fujiya and Miyagi - "In One Ear and Out The Other"
- Foo Fighters - "Everlong"
- Joe Strummer - "Ride Your Donkey"
- Joan Jett - "Activity Grrrl"
Thursday, September 21, 2006In commemoration of Slashfood's Sandwich Day, we ask...Who is Chip Buttie?
Not a who, but a what. The classic Liverpudlian guilty pleasure and glory of yob-song, here bastardized American-style for rapid assembly under less-than ideal conditions. It's the apex of vegetarian
Having no proper fresh chips, nor the requisite soft white bread or potato roll, we improvised using re-heated McDonald's fries and Pepperidge Farm 12-grain bread with flax and millet. The bread, being less than springtime oven fresh, was gently toasted and buttered. Two separate butties were prepared while the "chips" were reconstituted to acceptable crispness: one with tomato ketchup, and the other with garlic mayonnaise (calling it "aïoli" would be a baldfaced lie). The ketchup version was rather pedestrian, and certainly not worth its corresponding loss of lifespan. The garlic-mayo version, on the other hand, was rather not bad. As Nobel Prize winning Provencale poet, Frédéric Mistral once said:
"It (aïoli) concentrates in its very essence the warmth, the force, the sunny happiness of Provence, but it also has another virtue: it keeps away flies. Those who don't like it, whose stomachs turn at the thought of our oil, won't come buzzing around us. There will be just the family. The aïoli goes to one's head, gives the body warmth and bathes the soul with enthusiasm."There you have it: the culinary shibboleth that is maximum-strength garlic. It was an experiment, of course, and actually tasted "acceptable," say, 6 on a 10 scale. Not a Liverpudlian's 6, but the 6 of someone who has never tasted a genuine chip butty - so take this assessment with a dash of salt.
Some fancy moderns have devised healthier gourmet "chip butties," crafted of crispy ciabatta bread, fresh pesto, and oven-baked "chips," sometimes even sweet potato wedges. I imagine a farl buttie might be an unusual variation? Speaking of farls, er, this dude has gone farl-happy. If you're feeling adventurous or simply longing for old England, you can make your own Fish and Chips in a Comic. Just don't even think of ripping a page or two out of my Sandman #1.
Next time: Indian Scotch Eggs, also known as nargisi kofta.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
- Scientist discover a serotonin-controlling gene in mice called TREK-1, which, if inactivated in the embryo by gene manipulation, creates a depression-free, happy-happy-joy-joy optimistic mouse. After all, who needs Gleemonex when you can have a molecular lobotomy? [FuturePundit, also, see the full 90-second version of Folgers Coffee's "Happy Mornings" ad on YouTube]
- A splendacular site I recently came upon: Slashfood, which does for foodies (and drinkies) what Slashdot does for techies. Very nice. Very tasty.
- If you think technoculinary giants like Moto's Homaru Cantu and Alinea's Grant Achatz are the bomb, check out the work of Ferran Adria, head chef-wizard of Spain's El Bulli. If you can't visit España just yet, don't despair - the website has an extensive photo catalog of El Bulli's creations from the past 23 years, such as #165: gelée of local sardines and pig’s ear with crudités, a 1992 vintage tapas. [Visit the site, if you think I'm pulling your leg about the pig's ear.] With recent advances in kitchen science, the post-Millennium series of dishes called "Morphs" are really interesting - including a 2001 creation called white chocolate air. So, yes, you can have your air and eat it too. My favorite? 2004 edition Morph "Liquorice Nitro-Dragon," pictured here, which appears to be a gaseous candy cube that lets you spout smoke from your nostrils. Adria and El Bulli are also affiliated with the Lavazza coffee chain, who've made recent headlines with their solid (well, pudding-like) coffee concoction, "espesso" [sic]. [via ChicagoIST]
- Punk legend Lenny Kaye starts out his reminiscence on the end of an era, "Downer at the Rock 'n Roll Club" like so:
It's always the same ritual unfolding, load-in to load-out, sound check to sonic overload, visiting the stations of the rock-and-roll cross. Hauling the equipment in past the pinball machine. Positioning the amplifier on the splintered stage. Tuning the guitar, hearing the first chord seep into walls that have been tempered to the sound of electric noise. Shouting into the microphone, knowing it's never going to approximate the rebound of the audience throwing it back at you, after you've waited backstage for hours in that cramped lean-to of a dressing room with no door—somehow fitting in a club of such an egalitarian nature—and illegible layers of band stickers and graffiti letting you know who else has done their time here, a grand continuum. [read the whole thing at Village Voice]
- And, you really have to feel bad for this guy, Mardin Amin, who was arrested at O'Hare after a TSA security screener thought he said the strange, black, vaguely grenade-shaped object in his luggage was a "bomb." Actually, it was - as Amin and his lawyer insisted all along he said - a "pump." To be specific, the kind of pump used for men's self-pleasuring. Amin was whispering because his mother was standing next to him in line, and he didn't want her to know about the device. Now, even though federal charges against Amin have been dropped, the whole sordid tale - and Amin's mug - are posted all over the World Wide Web. Yhe Chicago Sun-Times quotes Amin,
A beaming Amin said he will now travel sans penis pump. "Hell no," he said. "That pump give me a lot of trouble."And as we all know, Google is forever.
Wednesday, September 13, 20062nd UPDATE: It all looks a little clearer - but just as dark - the following day. CBC news confirms at least one Dawson student was killed, Anastasia De Sousa, 18. "Montreal Gunman Called Himself 'Angel of Death'" [CBC News.com]
UPDATE: CNN reports at 9:24PM EST the sole death in this incident so far was the gunman's (reportedly suicide); however at least 19 students are reported wounded. On the page, you'll find a stunning (:50, link at end of story's first section) piece of cell-phone video taken by a bystander inside the building while police trained their guns on the shooter.
This is just terrible...I can't believe something like this is happening again in Montreal; shades of the 1989 Ecole Polytechnique massacre. At least 4 people are reported dead and over a dozen seriously injured after a shooting this afternoon at Dawson College in Montreal. From Bloomberg News:
Shooting started inside the Dawson College cafeteria shortly before 1 p.m., LCN network said. Witnesses said a tall, skinny man with a Mohawk haircut entered the school with a "large" gun. Michel Boyer, a student at Dawson, told CBC television that he heard about 20 shots. "It was the most frightening moment of my life," Boyer, 18, told the national news network. Three of the victims are in critical condition, Eric Berry, a spokesman for the Urgences Sante ambulance company, said in an interview near the school.More at 680 News Canada. What really brings this home for me is that I'm very familiar with that portion of Montreal; I used to work with an advertising agency whose offices were located a few blocks from the Place Alexis-Nihon mall. Again, it's just shocking, and I'm very curious to hear future developments on this incident.
Police shot one unidentified assailant and another one killed himself, RDI network reported, without saying where it got the information. Pictures taken from the LCN helicopter showed an unidentified body lying in the street, covered by a red blanket. The school, which opened in 1969, has been evacuated, LCN said.
Another suspect may have barricaded himself inside the school, LCN said. Police are searching the school for other gunmen, the network reported. The English-language school has about 10,000 day and night students, according to its Web site. The school, on Sherbrooke Street, is attended by students in between high school and university.
Melanie Lajoie, a spokeswoman for the Montreal Police Department, said she couldn't immediately provide details on today's events. Police also evacuated the nearby Place Alexis-Nihon shopping center, next to the old Montreal Forum hockey arena, the network said. No further details were immediately available.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006Allegedly to forestall "bad press" in the international arena, Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne proposes testing experimental non-lethal weapons - such as focused microwave beams, and so on - on U.S. citizens first. To be specific, protesters:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Nonlethal weapons such as high-power microwave devices should be used on American citizens in crowd-control situations before being used on the battlefield, the Air Force secretary said Tuesday.Note, non-lethal does not equal non-harmful...and who's to say this hasn't been going on for some time, since history is peppered with documented accounts of the government experiments on civilians? Read the whole article on CNN; plus Hammer of Truth has a spicily-titled take on this developing story. More proposals from the chief? Close down some more Air Force bases.
The object is basically public relations. Domestic use would make it easier to avoid questions from others about possible safety considerations, said Secretary Michael Wynne.
"If we're not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, then we should not be willing to use it in a wartime situation," said Wynne. "(Because) if I hit somebody with a nonlethal weapon and they claim that it injured them in a way that was not intended, I think that I would be vilified in the world press."
So, what are these non-lethal weapons, exactly? Check out the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons program website, https://www.jnlwp.com/. You'll be asked to accept a website certificate to a secure page, so expect to have your visit logged - but it's fascinating nonetheless.
Urban Word of the Day from www.urbandictionary.comEven worse, yesterday the International Astronomical Union assigned Pluto a common asteroid number.
September 12, 2006: pluto
Verb. to pluto someone or something is to downgrade, demote or remove altogether from a prestigious group or list, Like what was done to the planet of the same name.
He was plutoed like an old pair of shoes.
Pluto has been given a new name to reflect its new status as a dwarf planet.Check out the new revised entry on Pluto at the Encyclopedia of Astrobiology, Astronomy and Spaceflight.
On Sept. 7, the former 9th planet was assigned the asteroid number 134340 by the Minor Planet Center, the official organization responsible for collecting data about asteroids and comets in our solar system.
The move reinforces the International Astronomical Union's recent decision to strip Pluto of its planethood and places it in the same category as other small solar-system bodies with accurately known orbits. [more on MSNBC.com]
Monday, September 11, 2006I haven't a great deal to add to the flurry of 9-11 anniversary blog posts this morning, besides the thought that I had a hard time listening to an September 11th audiomontage on NPR this morning: we will always mourn the immense human cost of that day, and the more personalized these accounts are, the more deeply we can empathize and relate to the families and survivors of those tragic events.
That said, I'm troubled by the growing mainstream sensationalism, commercialization, and political co-opting of 9-11 - from both sides of the aisle, sadly - which neither serves to protect our present or our future, nor the memory of the dead. Two good retrospectives from rather different viewpoints: Salon.com's "Forbidden Thoughts About 9/11" and Slate's "Blogging 9/11," a sobering and fascinating look back at the Internet's reactions shortly after the attacks.
09-11-02 One Year After
[Note: this column originally appeared in Unzen Koans on September 11th, 2002.]
Is it possible that 365 days have come and gone? It seems like that fateful morning happened just yesterday. As I look around me almost every superficial detail of life appears the same as before, but underneath, something has been profoundly altered.
As a small child in the early 1970’s, I would often get a chuckle when adults would reminisce about where they were when John F. Kennedy was assassinated, or when Pearl Harbor was attacked. I had no clue what it was like to remember such a watershed event in retrospect; I thought the biggest event that had happened in my lifetime was the breakup of the Beatles. It’s now a faded memory from a Manhattan hotel room, a grainy black-and-white television picture seen from knee-high. Video footage of the Beatles’ final performance in the spring of 1970 will remain the first major media ‘tragedy’ imprinted in my mind.
Isn’t it strange how political upheavals have little importance in a child’s mind? I barely remember anything on TV from Watergate, and I’m ashamed to say I barely recall John Hinckley’s attempted assassination of then-President Ronald Reagan in 1981 although I was 13 at the time. There must have been more pressing insular matters at hand, like anxieties over school and the latest hit music. So, my biggest memories of the 70s and 80s are the Beatles’ demise, the Nixon-Ford era recession (although I did not know what recession meant at the time; I just knew our family suddenly didn’t have much money), the first gasoline crisis, the US Bicentennial, the other gas crisis and the ‘Disco Sucks’ era (propitiously well-timed), and the final loss of Reagan era innocence – the assassination of John Lennon.
This first anniversary of September 11th makes me stop to take pause, to think. I have had the luxury of having mainly the small vicissitudes of a human life touch my experience, and many in a vicarious way at that. I am part of the TV Generation, who watched the world happen through a glowing glass window. I believe I was born into a good time, and in a good place. So many others like myself are truly lucky in that way, and for that I am grateful.
So, what do I fear?
I mostly fear the pedestrian daily fears of the middle-class. I fear being in a car or train accident. Not having a job. Falling ill to an unknown sickness, or having a loved do so. I fear accidentally being the wrong place at the wrong time and falling victim to a random crime. I try not to fear for things I have no control over, like being crushed by steel scaffolding plunging dozens of stories from a skyscraper while I pass beneath; but these things do happen sometimes. Even in my town. Look at the words: so much about fear is about falling. At 9:00am on September 11th of 2001, those same everyday thoughts of fear might have crossed the minds of people inside the World Trade Center, as well as everyone else across the country.
As we were driving south on Lake Shore Drive the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, all was normal except for a strange, low-grade sense of anxiety and foreboding. Nothing had knowingly happened to cause the feeling, we just acknowledged it and continued sipping our Starbucks™ coffees and watching the bumpers ahead in busy morning commuter traffic. The first signal that something was wrong that day was when we heard the squeal of braking tires, and crashes in quick succession off to our right: three cars had rear-ended each other like falling dominoes. The time was about 8:30am Central time, 9:30am on the East Coast.
Had we been listening to the radio at the time, we might have heard the first news reports of a plane crashing into the WTC. After being dropped off, my partner tuned in Mancow Muller’s Chicago morning radio show and heard some talk of the World Trade Center being hit by a plane. If you’re not familiar with that show, let’s just say it’s the type of ‘morning zoo’ where this kind of story just might fly as an elaborate War-of-the-Worlds-like hoax – so it’s not surprising that Mancow’s co-hosts (and probably most people tuning in) thought he was pulling their legs. It wasn’t until I walked into the office at the University of Chicago that a co-worker broke the news. “Have you heard? A plane just crashed into the World Trade Center.” At first, we all assumed the crash was accidental, “it had to happen someday”, “law of averages”, and all that. I turned on the small boom-box radio on my desk, and tried to tune in the classical station - but everywhere only the unimaginable breaking news.
A second plane had struck, so this was no accident.
Minutes later, breathless announcers reported that a third plane had crashed into the Pentagon. Then the plane crash in Pennsylvania. I had never heard such a combination of intense excitement, horror and genuine anxiety in a newsperson’s voice as I did that day. This was an intentional, multi-pronged attack - far bigger that the Oklahoma bombing - and it was working its way westward. Suddenly, it dawned on me that the Sears Tower was only a few miles away, and a moment of panic struck me as I realized I could shortly be in the middle of a nightmarish urban war zone.
Basic survival kicked in while I worked and listened to the blow-by-blow on the radio, as the twin towers fell: it was quite unreal. Or, at least it felt unreal because I had never been in the time/space of such a disaster – descriptions of the jumpers falling to their deaths by ones and twos, holding hands for the oh-so-brief rest of their lives. But the sounds and images that probably affected me the most from 9/11 were the reports of how people trapped in the burning towers and in the doomed planes managed to get a final message across to loved ones before dying. If you are still not convinced that technologies like the cellular phone or instant messaging have drastically changed our world, consider that never before in history could ‘last words’ have been communicated over great distances with such immediacy. I can’t imagine either the agony of speaking to a loved one knowing I only had minutes to live – or of being on the receiving end impotently hearing last words through the ether, incapable of doing anything at all.
My partner and I were in communication every few minutes on the cell phone to keep track of our whereabouts, since phone service was cut off to most parts of the city. We were lucky; we did not personally know anyone who died in the disaster. Not so my partner’s cousin who lives in northern New Jersey, for whom 9/11 was an entirely different and much more personal matter. She works at a large insurance firm in Metropark-Iselin, NJ, and the burning towers and plume of debris from the WTC site were not images on television or descriptions on the radio, but rather a very real scene visible from her office window. She told us how everyone on the floor piled up to the windows to watch the fire and destruction in real time, while it simulcast on television, internet and radio in the myriad cubicles. Because of her line of work, she knew dozens - perhaps hundreds – of the dead.
No, I don’t spend every waking moment with a new fear of a terrorist attack; that’s more of a peripheral thought process, awakened by looking at news on the web, in magazines and in the papers, or on TV. Perhaps that’s why that except for playing DVD’s and videos, the tube just never comes on in our house. We don’t watch TV any more. We did not make any declaration or vow to not to watch television, it just sort of happened over time. Maybe because there’s just too much bad news out there to have it Technicolor-force-fed to us at the end of the workday.
Was the World Trade Center attack a ‘disaster’? After 9/11 my personal definition of the word has changed. Consider that the ancient root of the word ‘disaster’ means ‘ill-starred’, or ill fated. Things like floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions and cancer are ‘disasters’, but the attack on 9/11 was no disaster in the sense that it was no accident, no act of God or Nature, no force majeure.
It was an outrage. A crime. Plain and simple mass murder. We have now tasted some the horror that London, Paris, Hiroshima and Warsaw once felt; that Kosovo, the West Bank and Jerusalem feel today – some of us through the glowing glass window, some of us have touched it with our bare hands and seen it with our own eyes. The rest of the world’s troubles had arrived at our shores; not merely like a bullet or missile, but from within, like a cancer.
Life goes on. We live, work, travel and play as always; but now, there is a shadow under the door – and I want to take time to look at the sun, the moon and the stars even more.
Thursday, September 07, 2006Dixie Belles increasingly worried over issues like the war in the Middle East? CNN asks, "are Southern Women Breaking Up With Bush?" Perhaps some are, but this lady sounds like exactly the kind of distaff citizen our current administration loves [via CNN]:
Still, some Southern women remain stalwart supporters of the president and the Republican Party. At a watermelon festival in Chickamauga, in the mountains of northwest Georgia, substitute teacher Clydeen Tomanio said she remains committed to the party she's called home for 43 years.You can say whatever you want about Libs and Neocons, but "I don't care how he governs"?? What does her statement even imply - that being a die-hard Republican means not caring how elected officials govern? If I were a Republican, I'd be stone-cold embarrassed by that attitude. Which one of our nation's Founding Fathers wouldn't roll over in their mossy grave knowing 21st Century Americans are still espousing the Divine Right of Kings?
"There are some people, and I'm one of them, that believe George Bush was placed where he is by the *Lord," Tomanio said. "I don't care how he governs, I will support him. I'm a Republican through and through."
[* If by "Lord" you mean "an auspiciously counted hanging chad" - then why yes, Bush was placed where he is by the "Lord."]
Wednesday, September 06, 2006A Google™ Langage Tools translation of a bizarre German-language spam that popped up in my inbox today:
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They receive this email, because they announced themselves on one of our portals. If they should not want to get our pieces of news any longer, they can deliver themselves here: http://www.alkohol-------.com/newsout.php?email=[deleted]
No sprechen sie Deutsch? Try the Virtual Drunk German Flash game [via Si-Blog-LA, The Illustrator's Blog]