Friday, March 31, 2006

don't forget to change your clocks

daylight saving time in the US begins saturday night (sunday morning) at 2am, when it will suddenly and magically become 3am. this is a big deal in indiana because most of the state hasn't changed its clocks since the '60s, and there is surely a significant number of hoosiers out there who have never had to "spring forward" before.

because of this, there has been quite a bit of dst coverage in the indiana media. as is typically the case with dst news, doug has been thorough in covering the latest developments. out of all those posts, this is probably the most important, the one that discusses the technical challenges hoosiers will face as we begin dst for the first time in decades. the biggest problem is computer time zones: most computers in the state are set to the "indiana" time zone (eastern standard without dst), which no longer exists, so the time zone needs to be reset on all these computers. that fix will only take you a minute: what's worse is that all your outlook appointments are stored with time zone info, and those are set to "indiana", which means all your indiana appointments on your outlook calendar will be wrong. [update: wired also has an article about this. see these articles in the microsoft knowledge base about fixing the problem.]

there was also a bit of a problem with the bar scene. hoosiers are proud that their bars stay open until 3am, later than most states. but at 2am saturday night it will suddently become 3am, which should be closing time, taking away the bars' most profitable hour. even worse, this weekend is ncaa final four weekend, hosted here in downtown indy, and if you know anything about the pandemic they call "march madness", you know hoosiers are particularly susceptible to infection. but that's okay... our governor (who is apparently not so popular with basketball fans) came up with a solution: ignore the excise laws and let the bars stay open until 4am. this is technically illegal, but that hasn't stopped the governor before.

when i was in college (in a dst-observing state), i would generally be awake at the 2am witching hour—and often in a non-sober state of mind—and would savor the surreality of the moment, as minutes transformed into hours. "dude... i've been smoking this cigarette for an hour and five minutes!" i still thought changing clocks was a fundamentally silly idea, but my hoosier perspective let me get a kick out of the absurdity of the situation. this year i'll probably be awake at 2 again, but i'm not sure how i'll observe the changing of the clocks this year. it's the end of an era... at least until next year, when the legislature might repeal the dst bill.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

term limits

remember the contract with america? that was the campaign platform spearheaded by newt gingrich in 1994 for how republicans were going to "clean up" congress. all republicans who were trying to win new seats in the house in '94 signed the contract.

among other things, signatories to the contract swore to support (and try to pass) 10 reform bills. the tenth was the citizen legislature act, a proposed constitutional amendment that would have imposed term limits on congress, limiting senators to two terms and house members to either three or six terms. some candidates even took this further and made personal pledges not to serve more than 12 years.

unsurprisingly, now that those 12 years are up, some of these republicans are not ready to step down. doug links to a mydd post (itself about an article in cq politics) about congressional representatives who have broken their campaign promises to step down after 12 years. one of the promise-breakers mentioned in the original article is indiana's mark souder.

some of these representatives were probably a little naive in '94 and didn't realize the fundamental flaw of term limits: that limits force people to step down just as they have built up the skills to excel—though undeniably, term limits would also get rid of the tom delays and randy cunninghams before they are able to get too corrupt. maybe some of them just don't want to give up their positions of power. but a promise is a promise, and this is yet another in an infinitely long line of broken promises from republicans in congress.

the mydd post also has an action item: it lists 24 more members of the "class of 1994" who signed the contract with america but were not listed in the cq politics article. the challenge: "Can you find evidence that weak Republican House members from the class of '94 pledged not to serve more than 6 terms?"

i noticed that another indiana congressman is on the list of "24 to target": none other than john hostettler (a very visible figure last discussed on this blog last month during the facebook scandal). so i took it on myself to research hostettler's opinions on term limits. and let me say, researching this is a mess.

hostettler now is firmly against term limits, including for the president, and retroactively claims he was always against them. some people (apparently including some at the ed board of the evansville courier and press) buy it. others are convinced that hostettler did publicly support term limits at first. the fact that he signed the contract suggests that he did, at one point, support term limits. either that or he didn't "mean it" when he signed the contract, which itself would say a lot about him.

i posted these findings in a comment on doug's blog. john, another commenter followed up:

I'm not sure if it would constitute a "personal pledge," but at a town hall meeting I attended in 1994 I personally heard Hostettler say that he would serve no more than 6 terms (12 years). I have been waiting for him to announce his withdrawl per this promise, but don't hold my breath for fear of passing out.

as i said in my original comment, because this happened in '94 before many people were on the web, "i suspect a lexis-nexis search of articles from 1994 would be the way to answer this, and i don't have a subscription here at home." though i believe virago has lexis access with her university account, so i might be able to look into this further tomorrow.

Monday, March 27, 2006

antisemitism in bibleman

this post has mp3s! here and here

way back in november when i first posted about bibleman, i promised to write more about the apparent antisemitism in the show. now that my situation has changed, i have more time to get around to such things. that first post was pretty light and, dare i say, a bit obsessive. this will naturally be a bit more serious, considering the subject matter.

i'm hardly the first person to notice an antisemitic vibe to the show. last june, station manager ken at WFMU's beware of the blog browsed through the trailers on the bibleman site and concluded that many of the villains are meant to be subtly gay or jewish. for the sake of this discussion, i'm not interested in some of the villains ken lists here—particularly the villains played by brian lemmons, who are often effeminate but don't scream "jewish stereotype" to me as much as the wacky protestor, sammy davey, or the gossip queen.

but long before ken's post, in july, 2004, a blogger named jen attended the bibleman live show and was disturbed by the apparent antisemitism of the wacky protestor character. (as i mentioned in november, the wacky protestor, seen in the first two pictures of this post, is a clone of jerry lewis's nutty professor.) jen has since deleted her blog, called "listen to jen", but it's still in the google cache:

Anyway, Bibleman's nemesis The Wacky Protestor came out, and was the SPITTING image of Jerry Lewis from the movie The Nutty Professor, a blatant copy.
He played the stereotypical buck-toothed, gangly Jewish geek. I know. Hmmmm. Seriously, THAT was the villian? Some geeky obviously Jewish stereotype? The villian minced and practically oy-veyed around and then went into some vaudvillesque Buddy Ebson song and dance routine. I absolutely could not believe my eyes.

The Wacky Protester hates Christians and hates the Bible. That was the plot. Not-Willie-Aames spewed scripture, they drew out swords, and Bibleman won. The end. The whole thing took an hour. I had to wonder what the deeper message was. Did the Bibleman people intend this to be rather anti-semetic? Maybe I am just hypersensitive, but to me, it sure felt that way. It isn't that I don't have a sense of humor or anything, but please. I can only imagine what the anti- defamation league would say, if they got a load of this show.

jen ended up writing to the bibleman team about her concerns, and within a few days, she got a letter back from jef scott:

Dear Jennifer,

Thank you for attending our latest Bibleman Live Adventure. My name is Jef Scott. I portray the Wacky Protestor in the Bibleman episodes, as well as the voice in the live show. You are correct, in that the Wacky Protestor is a carbon copy of Jerry Lewis' character, The Nutty Professor. I have been a Jerry Lewis fan for my whole life and have studied his style of film making extensively.

Knowing the boundaries we must keep in check while we produce the Bibleman episodes, I am very conscious of the villain's actions. The Nutty Professor film makes absolutely no mention of him being a person of the Jewish faith. It is true that Jerry Lewis is of the Jewish faith, but not this particular character he portrays.

Our intention is using this character is to create a conflict that can have a positive message and solution, sending the importance of Jesus Christ's Word to our children, as well as adults. We design the episodes to have many levels, so that a family can watch together and (hopefully) be entertained on these many levels.
Again, we appreciate your support and understand that our privilege, is to serve Jesus Christ.

Jef Scott Executive Music Producer/ Pamplin Entertainment

jen pointed out the obvious flaw in jef's argument:

What he doesn't understand is while it is okay for a minority to make fun of their own given stereotype (a la Chris Rock or Jerry Lewis for example), it isn't really tasteful or PC for a fundamentalist Christian to imitate Jerry Lewis doing a parody on geeky jews-then take it to the next level and villianize him.
I don't care what he says, The Nutty Professor is a very in-your-face Jewish stereotype, created by a master Jewish comedian. The fact that Jerry Lewis just so-happens-to be-Jewish, is not an accident Jef, Jeff, whoever you are.

i might have been willing to accept jef's explanation: that he's just a huge jerry lewis fan, and naively didn't notice that the nutty professor plays on jewish stereotypes. i might have believed that he just didn't realize that his characters could be seen as demonizing jews and that it was all a big misunderstanding. but then i realized that jef scott is also the actor who played sammy davey.

(the earliest online reference to antisemitism in bibleman is from thought viper on march 25, 2003 (scroll down), who had some things to say about sammy davey.)

i want to tell you about sammy davey; that's the whole reason i wanted to write this post. but to do so properly, i first need to briefly discuss another one of jef scott's characters, primordius drool (seen in picture #3 here).

for years, brian lemmons had played almost all the villains. when he left the show, jef scott was promoted to playing the lead villain roles. drool was scott's first villain. if the wacky protestor is the nutty professor then primordius drool is buddy love: he's smooth, confident, and even sings his own variation on "under my skin", where he's reworked the lyrics to describe his hatred of bibleman. (i quite enjoy the song, to be honest.) but like any jerry lewis knockoff, he's still a bit spastic, occasionally twitching and blurting out yiddish-sounding nonsense in a tourette's-like fashion. (anyone who's seen a jerry lewis impression should know what i'm talking about here; it was a staple of the lewis-inspired characters on animaniacs.)

drool devises a complicated plan: he will unleash a wave of attacks on the city. his intention is to trick the townspeople into putting all of their faith into bibleman rather than into god. because bibleman is not god, he will inevitably fail them, and the people will lose faith in both bibleman and god. the logic here is a bit peculiar, but typical for the show. and of course, drool's plan works... for awhile.

during the height of the crime wave, people are pissed at bibleman. desperate to save his image, bibleman goes on a daytime talk show to defend himself. the crowd and the host are hostile, to put it mildly. the host's name is sammy davey. and he's perhaps the most flagrant stereotype of a new york jew i've ever seen on tv.

let's start with his name: sammy davey, an obvious reference to sammy davis, jr, a flambouyant entertainer known for converting to judaism. he's also a somewhat sleazy daytime talk show host, which is itself a profession where jews have risen to prominence (see maury, jerry, sally jessy, etc). but that's just the beginning.

take a look at sammy himself, as seen in pictures 4 and 5. note the enormous afro of curly black hair and the thick-rimmed glasses, reminiscent of gene shalit. and look at his posture, the way he slumps and sneers and smirks.

if all that wasn't enough, what really gets to me is his voice: he has the accent you'd think he would, the classic stereotypical new york jewish accent. but it's not just that he has an accent (as riffraff1138 points out on wikipedia's bibleman talk page, the evil AI LUCI has had an accent like this for years). anyone remotely familiar with american superheroes would know that the proper pronunciation of bibleman is "bible man": he's a man with bible powers. but sammy davey repeatedly pronounces it "biblemun", like a jewish surname.

i can't properly convey just how "jew-y" sammy davey in a few paragraphs with a couple screenshots. you really need to hear his voice, if not watch him mince around the stage. ideally, i would post a video clip for you to see him in action. unfortunately, with my current computer setup i can either capture audio or video to my hard drive, but not both simultaneously. (i know it's possible, but haven't put in the work to solve the problem.)

but i'll do you the next best thing, and provide some audio highlights from the showdown. i've cut out bibleman's answers, as the whole sequence in pretty long; this edited version is almost 2 minutes. listen to the audio and look at the pictures of sammy davey and tell me that this character is not a blatant stereotype.

as a bonus, i'm also giving you this mp3 of the gossip queen singing her anthem, "the queen of gossip". look at the gossip queen in the final picture here while you listen to her song: look at her big hair, her huge hooked nose (obviously fake), her long fingernails, and her predilection for gold lamee and leopard print.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

plagiarist at the post

the washington post website has hired a new blogger: redstate founder and former bush appointee ben domenech. far from being an experienced journalist, domenesch is a conservative activist. his hiring—and especially his frothing first post—angered & puzzled lefties throughout the blogosphere, who already viewed the post as being too deferential to the bush administration and republicans in general.

so bunches of bloggers started poring through domenech's old material, looking for the most outrageous examples of wingnuttery they could find. they found lots. but as i well know, when you start really digging into a writer's text, you might be surprised at what you find.

what bloggers soon discovered is that domenech is a plagiarist. when he was a student at william & mary he published a number of pieces in the student paper, the flat hat, that he had plagiarized from other sources, including a bit from pj o'rourke and a number of movie reviews.

plagiarism is a big deal in the journalism and publishing businesses, as domenesch was well aware. as discovered by your logo here, domenech doesn't have much "toleration" for plagiarists. but he also doesn't think the "tactic of preempting damaging plagiarism revelations by admitting to it beforehand will actually work", as he said in a post in 2002 with this delightfully ironic passage:

In other words, famous people can get away with plagiarism as long as they're generous with the positive blurbs. McTaggart has already commented on the controversy, and basically said she's willing to let Goodwin get away with it, for the right price. It also seems more than a little naive to think that a massive book-burning will allow Goodwin to escape significant excoriation by historical academics, many of whom already view her as an attention-grabbing interloper. As Homer likes to say, "Marge, it takes two to lie. One to lie and one to listen."

an attention-grabbing interloper? interesting that domenech was so hard on his fellow plagiarist; after all, this was three years after publishing all that plagiarized content in the flat hat. perhaps he was projecting his own feelings onto goodwin?

as i posted in november, it's easy to find plagiarism online using google. just plug in a phrase, and if it's long and unique enough, google will take you right to the source. i'm certain that now that domenech's history of plagiarism has been revealed, any other instances will turn up quickly. it will be interesting to see how the post reacts to the revelations. (links courtesy atrios)

update: tons more examples keep pouring in. that's one thing about plagiarism: it's a pattern.

not only will it be interesting to see how the post reacts to this, it's also worth watching what domenech's friends and supporters do over the coming days. some of his redstate co-bloggers are fighting back, and howie kurtz as "a college editor improperly adding language to some of his articles." (never mind that domenech's plagiarism was not limited to the flat hat.)

2nd update: domenech's redstate co-bloggers might not think ill of his actions, but there are other conservative bloggers who are very troubled. and the flat hat staff says that "[w]hile Domenech deserves the benefit of the doubt until all of the facts are known, if true, his actions would be deeply offensive to us as journalists and as students."

3rd update: and just like that, it's over.

In the past 24 hours, we learned of allegations that Ben Domenech plagiarized material that appeared under his byline in various publications prior to contracting with him to write a blog that launched Tuesday.

An investigation into these allegations was ongoing, and in the interim, Domenech has resigned, effective immediately.

When we hired Domenech, we were not aware of any allegations that he had plagiarized any of his past writings. In any cases where allegations such as these are made, we will continue to investigate those charges thoroughly in order to maintain our journalistic integrity.

Plagiarism is perhaps the most serious offense that a writer can commit or be accused of. will do everything in its power to verify that its news and opinion content is sourced completely and accurately at all times.

nuvo re-redesign

considering i had some very negative things to say about the nuvo website after it was redesigned last fall, i wanted to publicly declare that the nuvo front page now looks pretty sharp.

it has content again! the middle column that was once a tree of links reminiscent of a spam farm has now blossomed into something that actually resembles a news site. the design is crisp. there are direct links to recent stories right on the front page. though i doubt i had much to do with it, my concerns from november have been addressed.

i understand that nuvo has a new webmaster. good job whipping the site into shape, guy.

spotted in fishers

i received this as an email forward. original source unknown, but it appears to have been taken a couple weeks ago at allisonville nursery in fishers, indiana.

the subject line of the email was "Look what I saw last Sunday morning......"

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

mike pence: big spender

the washington post had an article sunday about congressmen in "safe" districts who continue to spend as if they were in the midst of an intense campagin. the article attracted some attention on indiana blogs because it analyzed the questionable spending habits of mike pence (R-Ind), among others.

Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) spent $15,835 of campaign funds on condolence flowers for constituents, Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-Calif.) used $8,328 of his campaign war chest to buy gifts for his staff, and Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) was reimbursed for a $1 "meal" at a local gas station, which his staff believes was bottled water.

$1? regardless what they might say on mcdonald's commercials, you can't buy a meal for $1, unless you're eating total peasant food (or student food), like top ramen noodles. mike pence is not the kind of guy who would live on ramen noodles.

In contrast, Pence, whose congressional district adjoins Souder's to the south, spent $348,255 in 2005, plus $25,472 from his PAC, after winning a third term in 2004 with 67 percent support.

Pence sought reimbursement for 293 meals in 2005, for a total of $9,806. Most were at fast-food or family-style restaurants, including Wendy's, Arby's, Ruby Tuesday, and various pancake houses and pizza parlors, as well as convenience stores and airport concessions based in Anderson, Ind. Ninety-four of the charges totaled $10 or less. He also paid $4,082 for a 1998 Oldsmobile minivan that he drove throughout his east-central Indiana district.

"When Mike Pence campaigns, he campaigns as if he's in a tight race," said William A. Smith, Pence's chief of staff. He said that his boss prefers one-on-one meetings to big groups, which explains the numerous small charges, and that items are often billed to the campaign, as opposed to the official account, to avoid potential ethics questions. "If he's doing political work, that's going to be part of his campaign budget," Smith said.

so there are some very questionable charges on those campaign accounts. i suppose one-on-one schmoozing lunches would make sense as a campaign expense, but who would really try to schmoooze at wendy's?

one of the commenters at masson's blog wondered when this story would "hit the Indiana media". little did she know that it already had. well, sort of.

the indy star had already posted a shorter version of the article on its website on sunday. the original washington post version was two pages; the indy star version is one page. i'll leave the contrast analysis of everything that was cut from the star version as an exercise for you, the reader, but i would like to point out one thing.

several congressmen (yes, they're all men) are discussed in the original piece, but only one, mike pence, is from indiana. so the content about pence is, one would think, the most valuable stuff in the article to indiana readers.

here is everything that the indy star's edit contains about mike pence:

In contrast, Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., whose congressional district adjoins Souder's, spent $348,255, plus $25,472 from his PAC, after winning a third term in 2004 with 67 percent support.

Pence sought reimbursement for 293 meals in 2005, for a total of $9,806. . He also paid $4,082 for a 1998 Oldsmobile minivan that he drove throughout his east-central Indiana district.

"When Mike Pence campaigns, he campaigns as if he's in a tight race," said William Smith, Pence's chief of staff. He said his boss prefers one-on-one meetings, which explains the numerous small charges, and said items are often billed to the campaign to avoid potential ethics questions.

take a look at that and compare it to the washington post quotes i included above. what's missing? the entire paragraph that mention's pence's "$1 meal", for one thing. all the stuff about $10 meals at wendy's and arby's is missing, too. (interestingly, the period from that sentence is still there.)

i suppose the extra period could indicate that the sentence wasn't meant to be deleted. perhaps that sentence even appeared in the print edition, though i'm not sure i can get my hands on a copy to check. but how curious that the most incriminating sentence in the article (toward pence, anyway) disappeared from the version on the star website. do you think it's a coincidence?

update: turns out we still had a copy of sunday's star lying around. the story appeared on page A5. the sentence in question is not there. and the mysterious period is there.

Monday, March 20, 2006

john livengood and alcohol sales on sunday

being located in the bible belt, indiana has a number of laws i find to be embarrassing. high on the list is indiana's prohibition on selling alcohol on sundays. liquor stores, grocery stores, and the like are barred from selling alcohol until 7am monday, but bars and restaurants are allowed to sell from 10am until 12:30am. hell, you can buy drinks at the opera on sunday afternoon, though you can't take them to your seat and must drink them in the lobby. so on sundays, people are not allowed to buy alcohol and safely drive it home; they must drink it in public and then find their way home in an inebriated state.

so this recent indy star poll has my head reeling:

Fifty percent of those surveyed favored keeping the current laws, while 43 percent supported allowing more Sunday sales of beer, wine and liquor, according to a poll commissioned by The Indianapolis Star. The poll, conducted Feb. 28 to March 2, is based on the responses of 501 residents statewide.

The poll, conducted by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines, Iowa, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

A wide range of groups oppose expanding liquor sales at convenience, grocery and liquor stores to seven days a week, from conservative Christians to advocates trying to curb underage drinking and even mom-and-pop liquor store operators anxious to preserve their one day off.

naturally, the religious argument is the flimsiest, and the one with the weakest constitutionality. the primary problem with this angle is that it only works for christians: jews, muslims, and even some christian sects celebrate the sabbath on a day other than sunday. never mind atheists, agnostics, secular theists, or followers of any number of other faiths that don't observe a sabbath day.

i'm not sure i buy the underage drinking angle either; it's just an assertion that isn't backed up. no evidence is given, and i suspect none exists. i can't find evidence of this being studied much, and what little i can find suggests there is no significant link: other states as well as canadian provinces have eliminated their blue laws without noticing a significant upturn in underage drinking.

but this was the most puzzling part of the star article:
Not everyone associated with the liquor industry favors relaxing the Sunday "blue laws," as the laws are also called. The Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers, which represents liquor stores, is against Sunday package sales.

John Livengood, the organization's president, said many liquor stores are family-run businesses where Sunday is their only day off. He said there may not be enough customers for liquor stores to warrant being open an additional day.

"People are just used to buying on Saturdays or Mondays," he said.

the "day off" argument doesn't wash either. small business owners pick their own hours; they don't have to be open on sunday if they don't want to or don't get enough customers.

i'm at a loss wondering why a liquor store lobbyist would be against sunday sales. this is even more puzzling when you consider that just last december, livengood was lobbying to allow alcohol sales on christmas.

i can't find a website for the indiana association of beverage retailers, but i did find livengood's bio as president and CEO of the restaurant & hospitality association of indiana. that's a restaurant industry trade group. right now, restaurants and bars have a virtual monopoly on sunday sales and it's not in their interest for liquor stores to be open on sundays. but now he also represents a group that supposedly represents liquor stores, which i would think have a lot to gain from sunday sales.

this would appear to be a conflict of interest. i wondered whether perhaps livengood had worked at the RHAI until recently leaving and going back to the IABR, but it appears he's been with IABR since at least 1998, meaning he's been doing both jobs concurrently for some time now, prompting an obvious question: where do john livengood's loyalties lie?

now that state legislature is out of session, it's a moot issue until next year. but i would love to see the sunday sales ban lifted... and i would also love more insight into livengood's mysterious dual (and dueling) role as restaurant lobbyist and liquor store lobbyist.

update: clients of john livengood & associates as of 1996:

Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers
Indiana Collectors Association
Indiana Hotel & Motel Association
Mid-America Food Processors Association
Promote Indiana Coalition
Restaurant & Hospitality Association of Indiana

...sounds like a dedicated restaurant lobbyist to me.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

guess the source

read over this short piece and try to determine its source:

Imbalances Driven by Markets, Not Policy: Bernanke
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Government policies aimed at reducing global trade imbalanc productivity growth, and deep financial markets,'' he said.

Bernanke said that while this had increased U.S. indebtedness, U.S. external debt was still ``within international and historical norms'' relative to U.S. income and s impending demographic changes fuel rapid increases in entitlement spending. By holding down the growth of national saving and real capital accumulation, the prospective increase in the budget deficit will place at risk future living sterol are doubled from birth and untreated it leads to coronary heart disease early in life. Early diagnosis and treatment is thus important."

One feature of untreated HeFH is that cholesterol is deposited not only in the arteries tendon should have his or her cholesterol measured.

SOURCE: Annals of Rheumatic Disease, March 2006.

if you answered that the source was "annals of rheumatic disease, march 2006", you would probably get that question right on the SAT. but if you actually read the piece, you probably experienced—for a brief moment—what a bad day is like for a copy editor. the thing makes no sense at all, has several blatant grammatical errors, and seems to suggest that the federal defecit causes heart disease (at least according to fed chairman bernanke). it just doesn't parse, as they say. trying to edit passages like this can make an editor feel like his brain is about to collapse, and probably cause heart disease to boot.

judging from its bizarre grammar and cognitive dissonance, you might think it came from a spam email... you know, the ones full of seemingly random text cut-and-pasted to fool spam filters into thinking they're real email. bonus points for you if you thought this, but no.

this was actually a bizarre printing error that appeared today on (as noticed by billycreek and linked on atrios; the link has since been corrected).

one's first reaction upon reading such a travesty is "how does this get past an editor?", but as a professional editor i'm fairly certain that no editor ever saw this text, at least in this form. on analysis this was clearly a jumble of text coming from at least two sources, one of which being about bernanke's thoughts on the economy, the other having something to do with cholesterol. though i have no knowledge of reuters' or the times' systems and cannot guess what actually happened here, i've come across errors like this when stray indexing or formatting codes embedded into the text are incomplete or somehow broken. the result is that chunks of text become "hidden" inside the indexing codes. something like that is probably the culprit here, though it could have been a database error or some other transmission error as well. generally, when i saw missing text like this, i only needed to go back to the source text and could find the missing material there.

maybe this will take some of the mystery out of it, but let's use google's powerful google news tool to track down the original articles. it's easy: just enter a key phrase the article into the search box, and if your phrase is long and unique enough, the source turns right up.

the bulk of this comes from this reuters piece, which starts off with that headline, "Imbalances Driven by Markets, Not Policy: Bernanke". the first half sentence is from the beginning of that piece, the next sentence's worth is from the middle, and then a couple sentences from the end. so, in less that two paragraphs, that's three discrete chunks from the article. (the text at the nytimes link is now the same as at this reuters link)

then, seemingly in midsentence, it cut to content from a different article. the rest comes from this piece, titled "Heel pain may point to cholesterol trouble". about two sentences' worth from the middle of that piece appear, then it cuts to one more clause from the end. the attribution to the annals of rheumatic disease also come from this article.

that's one jumbled document. i can only guess when and how the errors were introduced, but they have since been corrected. in an ideal environment, such errors would have been caught before they were published, but if you learn anything in editing, it's that everyone makes mistakes.

Monday, March 13, 2006

some assembly required

some assembly required is a long-running and influential radio program out of minneapolis/st paul hosted by jon nelson of escape mechanism. the show's theme is audio recycling: all works played on the show are made of or include samples of other works.

recently job started a blog and podcast featuring mp3s of old episodes of the radio show, interviews with featured artists, and stories from old shows he put together with artists like jon oswald and people like us.

the latest installment of the podcast is episode 94, which includes "hello" and "welcome" tracks from all kinds of audio collage artists, from animals within animals to the bran flakes to the evolution control committee to wobbly to the tape-beatles and more. this show has the most "hello" samples ever compiled into a single mp3, guaranteed. (guarantee not valid in the united states or europe.)

in celebration of awia's appearance on the show, the blog also features an extensive interview with yours truly about animals within animals. you can tell the interview is a few weeks old, as it refers to my copy editing job (which i have since lost) but there's plenty of good awia info in there, so if you're interested in the group, you should check it out.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

the graduate

last night we stopped by the new location of mass ave video (which is very obscure for massachusetts avenue, right past where you think the street ends) because virago wanted to rent the graduate, which is supposed to be some kind of classic. there were some good lines and some nice shots, and the film started off strong enough, but i thought it became increasingly more unintentionally absurd once elaine entered the picture. as the plot moved on i became increasingly exasperated.

spoiler alert

what really bugged me, as a nervous, antisocial young man who even shares the title character's first name, was that i couldn't comprehend how benjamin braddock managed to get laid at all—ever—let alone why women seemed to constantly throw themselves at him. the man wasn't just "nervous"; he was completely and utterly inept socially. and i can tell you from many years of deep personal experience that social ineptitude does not get you laid. trust me on this one; it doesn't.

i can accept mrs robinson throwing herself at benjamin. she was a lonely woman who wasn't getting much attention from her husband and went out looking for someone who could provide what she needed. she didn't know where else to turn so she settled for the reasonably good-looking but categorically clueless son of her husband's business partner. fine: she was horny, and he was a young dude.

of course she had to work hard to bed him. i'm not sure whether people in the real world really throw themselves at each other with the intensity and desperation mrs robinson shows here, but i was happy to overlook this. and despite benjamin's total inability to satisfy her needs in any but the most physical way, i can understand why she kept up the affair: it was the best she thought she could get.

but then mrs robinson's daughter elaine came back from berkeley on break, and benjamin's parents started pressuring benjamin to take her out. why were they so adamant that he date her? i don't know; maybe that's how the dating scene worked in the '60s if you weren't a hippy, but i was willing to overlook that, too.

mrs robinson, naturally, was not cool with the idea of her lover dating her daughter. for some reason, though, benjamin couldn't comprehend her distaste. he just couldn't grasp that she would be jealous and confused by such a love triangle, and took it as some kind of personal insult. but he at least swore not to date elaine.

but faced with the choice between a "family dinner" with the robinsons and breaking his oath to mrs robinson and taking elaine out for a date, he chose to break his word. a stupid and totally irrational choice, but whatever.

so benjamin and elaine go on their date. the date scene reminded me of taxi driver (released 9 years later), but taxi driver got it right. when travis bickle took betsy to a porno theater on their first date, the date is effectively ruined. but when benjamin braddock took elaine to a burlesque house, sure elaine freaked out, but the next thing you know... they're making out in the street? and go on to have a wonderful date? what is it about this guy that women are so willing to overlook his troublesome behavior?

then it gets really ridiculous. elaine learned that benjamin had been sleeping with her mother and went back to school. benjamin decided that he was in love with elaine and was destined to marry her, even though they have only been on one date at this point. so he started stalking her. seriously, he does everything short of calling her and hanging up when she answers: he moves to berkeley just to be near her, slinks around on campus so he can watch her from afar, and pretends to be a student though he's not enrolled. elaine, despite believing that he raped her mother and ignoring his textbook stalkerish behavior, confronts him in person. this is a remarkably stupid thing for her to do, and in the real world she would end up dead in a dumpster, but in the movie, this kind of psychosis is portrayed as charming. instead, she eagerly forgave him for everything, but informed him that she was due to marry the other dude and that benjamin should stay away, as her family now hated him. (with good reason, since benjamin cuckolded mr robinson and then tossed mrs robinson aside after a measley one date with her daughter.)

there is an entire subset of the romantic comedy that involves the destruction of marriages. the premise goes like this: so-and-so is married/engaged to "the wrong person" but finds "the right person" at the last possible minute and ends up leaving the the wrong person to be with the right person. it's a terrible cinema cliche, but maybe in 1967 the idea was somewhat fresh. generally the audience is not supposed to sympathize with the wrong person in these stories. often this is achieved by demonizing the fiance or otherwise showing why their relationship is dysfunctional. but not so in the graduate. carl the fiance is only depicted in a couple scenes; his role is virtually a cameo (sort of like brett favre in there's something about mary ). maybe we're supposed to dislike carl because he's hunky, blonde, and fratty. maybe we're supposed to dislike him simply because he's benjamin's competition. i don't know.

from here, it's easy to predict the ending with a bit of knowledge of cinematic cliche. benjamin managed to find his way to the wedding, arrived in the middle of the ceremony, and caused a scene. for reasons we'll never know (because we know absolutely nothing about carl), elaine decided to jilt carl in favor of benjamin, who she had only dated once, who had stalked her, and who had also had an affair with her mother. the two got on a bus and presumed later got married and lived happily ever after, though mercifully this is not depicted so i can at least pretend that they had an ugly break-up a few weeks later.

it may seem like i'm being harsh but for the life of me i couldn't comprehend why elaine would want anything to do with benjamin. they say that girls like assholes, and to extent that's probably true, but in general girls do not like psychos and stalkers. nor do they—i'm going out on a limb here—like dudes who have boned their mothers. i'd think that would be a deal-breaker for most women outside the "jerry springer" community.

sure, the cinematography was good, the acting was good, and there were occasional good lines of dialogue. but the plot was asinine and my suspension of belief was shattered as soon as elaine entered the story.

my collages (part 2)

i reglued my last two collages and hung them tonight at out word bound, so you can stop by to take a look at your leisure. the art is immediately to your left as you enter the bookstore, behind the greeting cards. or better yet, come to the opening friday night at 7pm; we will have refreshments next door at vic's espresso bar.

here are some photos. again, the photos aren't great and don't show fine details but should give you an idea what the collages look like.

Advertise Here: 30" x 20" foamboard

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Sad Waste Paste: 30" x 20" black foamboard

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Monday, March 06, 2006

my collages (part 1)

i went by out word bound to hang my collages, but unfortunately the glue on a couple of them wasn't dry enough to hang yet. (as i'm working with unframed cardboard and foamboard, in order to hang the pieces, i've been gluing picture wire to the back. it generally works, as long as the glue has time to dry first. if people have other suggestions, i'm happy to listen.) i'm also crossing my fingers that my other new collage was in fact dry and that it didn't come crashing down five minutes after i left.

so two collages had to come back home for regluing. they should be hangable by wednesday. the other three are up now, so stop by the store and take a look if you're in the neighborhood. the gallery area is to your left as you enter the store, behind the greeting cards (some of which are pretty naughty).

some of you who don't live in the area have expressed interest in seeing what these collages look like. here are photos of the collages that are now hanging at out word bound.

these photos were taken in my bedroom, not at the bookstore. click the thumbnail for larger, uncropped versions. they're not particularly good photos, and at 1024x768 uncropped, you can't really make out the fine details, but these should at least give you an idea what the collages look like.

Evil Fever: 30" x 20" foamboard

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This Isn't For You: 34 1/8" x 22 1/8" cardboard

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Working Together, Indianapolis: 34 1/8" x 22 1/8" cardboard

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i'll post photos of the other two once they are actually up on the wall at out word bound.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

stAllio!'s collage show: this month!

this month, i will be showing 4-5 poster-sized collages at the out word bound bookstore (625 n. east st., indianapolis). i'll be hanging these pieces monday night and they will be there throughout march.

this show will include two pieces that were previously featured in last august's latencies show at the big car gallery (working together, indianapolis and this isn't for you) and 2-3 brand-new pieces.

we will also have a small opening 7-9pm, friday, march 10. refreshments will be provided next door at vic's espresso bar—there should be some wine and some kind of snacks, but nothing too elaborate (i did just get laid off, after all).

come on out and buy some art! if you can't make it to the opening, just stop by the bookstore sometime during march and take a look. all pieces will be affordably priced from $25 to $40, and i'd definitely appreciate the show of support in this time of financial uncertainty.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

what is it with indiana parents and censorship?

this is getting ridiculous. i'm a little behind here, but ruth holladay has a good column about hoosier parents' latest attempt to censor what goes on in indiana schools.

They don't have cable TV or violent video games at home. The only R-rated movie their oldest child, age 15, has seen is "The Patriot," about the Revolutionary War -- and when it turned too violent, the teen left.

No wonder "The Kite Runner" does not make the cut for Tom and Julie Shake, who want to protect their Lawrence North High School freshman from what Julie Shake calls "edgier" literature. The parents have thrown their school district into a tizzy over the novel's use in freshman English classes.

the kite runner is a book about a young boy growing up in afghanistan. as you might imagine, afghanistan is a rough place, and the book reflects that. as steph says:

The Kiterunner is a story of children living in contemporary Afghanistan, and is a wonderful, amazing book. It is, unfortunately, fairly true to life, and there is violence and brutality in it, including a scene where a young boy is brutally raped by other young men who are bullying him, and children who later become the victims of child exploitation. But that is a fairly real picture of what can happen in countries that are torn apart by strife, as Afghanistan is. And to be blunt, the story of children bullying and raping each other can and does happen here in Indiana, too. If you don't think it does, you're a naive fool.

The idea that the scenes are "pornographic" -- I want to go to those parents (Julie and Tom Shake are their names) and say "I do not think that word means what you think it means."

as they saying goes, kids can be cruel. but so can parents. if the shakes want to completely shelter their kids from the harsh realities of the real world, i guess that's their prerogative. if their parenting style means their kids can't be exposed to anything more offensive than curious george then so be it—it's not a good parenting strategy, but that's their call. but they don't just want to shelter their own kid: they want to shelter all kids. the school is happy to accomodate them and let their kid read something else instead, but they want the book pulled from reading lists altogether. and just as the school doesn't have the right to force kids to read what parents don't want their kids reading, so parents have no right whatsoever to dictate what other people's kids read.

going back to ruth holladay:

Their position and the superintendent's suggestion that a committee be created to review future book choices have drawn cries of censorship from some parents, teachers and students.

Correctly so -- that's what this is really about.

A bigger concern is a pattern in Indiana. Some adults recently boycotted the musical "Ragtime" at Perry Meridian High School, based on the "n-word." A high school in Columbus caved in over the same word in "To Kill a Mockingbird." Also on the hot seat a few years ago at Noblesville High was James Alexander Thom's American Indian novel, "Follow the River."

What is going on?

ruth gets it mostly right, but the tale of ragtime at perry meridian is more sordid and shameful than that. ragtime is a play dealing with racial and social tensions in the early 1900s. as such, it has some rough language. a few parents complained, and the school board relented, changing the script to remove some sexual references and a "god damn".

but while the school board went about happily censoring the script, they didn't remove all the offensive language: they left in the "n-word". some black parents were understandably upset, and urged the school to excise the racial slurs as well.

as much as i abhor censorship, the black parents had a point. why is the "n-word" okay but "god damn" is not? the school had demonstrated that it had no problem with censoring the play, so why not go all the way? why only do a half-assed job of censoring it? censor it or don't—setting a double standard where profanity is unacceptable while racism languge is peachy keen sends the wrong message.

in the end, perry meridian did the right thing and restored the original script, sex and swearing and all. but the fact that they censored it at all—and did a lousy job if it—is troubling. as is the fact the a lone parental complaint about the kite runner is enough to make the superintendent consider something like this:

Superintendent Michael Copper has recommended that all material used in classrooms be reviewed by a committee of teachers, administrators and parents. The proposal is still in draft form, and the School Board has taken no action.
More than 180 people attended the School Board meeting Monday night opposing such a review committee.

If the committee is approved, classroom teachers would no longer have the authority to assign a new book or a classic not already approved, Benner said.

i'm outta here!

though my official termination date is march 31, i had earned a lot of vacation time during my 7 1/2 years here, so i'm using it up and taking the rest of march "off work", or in other words, leaving early. that will give me more time to work on outplacement training, job hunting, and creative projects.

there's not a lot to do here other than clean out my cube and meet with HR to go over last-minute departure information (i guess about rolling over my 401k, company stock, etc), so i went out to grab my last lunch from burger king. bk has been my default lunch place when i don't bring a lunch, because it is close and it is usually not crowded, as opposed to the mcdonald's at 96th & merdian, which gets so busy by 11:30 that it causes traffic jams. it doesn't make sense to me, as the restaurants are mere blocks from each other, but i guess most people who work in the area haven't figured it out. unless people really do prefer mcdonald's over bk that strongly (which i can't believe, because mcd's food is not that good.)

so i was driving south on meridian at around 50mph (which is the speed limit north of 86th street), and a goose suddenly swooped out of the sky and landed on the road mere feet in front of my car. fortunately there was an unoccuped left-turn lane next to me so i was able to swerve and avoid killing the stupid thing. running over a goose would not have been a very good addition to my last day at work. i can understand why so many people hate them—most birds fly away when a car is coming.

then i drove through bk and ordered a whopper combo, instead of my usual original chicken sandwich combo. but when i got back to the building, i discovered that i had been given the wrong order! instead of my whopper with cheese, mayo, mustard, and ketchup only, i had received a tendercrisp chicken sandwich with lettuce only. after much deliberation, i decided to go ahead and eat the food i'd been given. after all, i'd never tried a tendercrisp, and tendercrisps are more expensive than whoppers anyway. i was a little afraid that they'd also given me the wrong drink (iced tea instead of coke), but they got that part right.

the sandwich was okay. it was perfectly satisfactory. but i didn't think it was as tasty as the original chicken sandwich—which virago calls the "ambrosial chicken sandwich"—despite the fact that the tendercrisp is a "premium" sandwich made with "whole muscle chicken" as opposed to whatever extruded parts-is-parts chickenstuff goes into the original sandwich. and it wasn't tastier because of a higher fat content, either: the nutrition facts show that the tendercrisp is actually higher in fat, calories, sodium, and sugar than the original chicken sandwich... not that either sandwich is anything close to healthy.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

republican spyware

courtesy atrios, who linked to thinkprogress, who linked to minnesota public radio (MPR), who broke the story.

the minnesota republican party sent out a fancy cd-rom to at least 25,000 voters. the cd-rom features video of MN republican officials speaking about same-sex marriage and a poll to guage the opinions of MN voters on various hot-button (wedge) issues.

MPR reporter bob collins got his hands on a copy of the disc and noticed something suspicious:

But here's the thing. The CD -- at least mine -- comes with an access code. And during the presentation, you're asked to "vote" on a couple of issues, including the 2nd Amendment.

OK, this is where I get suspicious. WHY is there a code. And where is that "vote" going? Is every voter being identified with a special code and therefore is input entered by the user during a presentation being sent back to the Republican Party of Minnesota?

I checked the "terms of use" and I could find nothing that gave me any indication. Nor is there a privacy statement anywhere that I could find.

bob got in touch with the spokesman for the MNGOP, who confirmed that the cd does gather information, which it reports back to the GOP. since there's no privacy policy on the cd, this arguably makes the cd illegal spyware.

ignoring the question of illegality, it makes sense that the GOP would want this info. this info gives them the political equivalent of a marketing profile and allows them to tailor their messaging to just those voters who are sympathetic to GOP politics. and conversely, it probably helps the GOP craft its message so that the wording etc appeals to the greatest possible number of voters. this is SOP and is not in itself illegal, though there are rules dictating how the data should be collected, disclosed, secured, and so on.

but bob collins kept digging, and discovered that the information collected from the cds was not secure:

people way smarter than me were able to figure out the destination for the data being accumulated, and then poked around and found the site. And the data was not secured at the site.

We could -- if we were malicious (and we're not ) -- change the questions that are "on the CD" because they're really not on the CD. The program connects to a database and provides the questions.

Imagine if thousands of CDs arrived in homes with the question "do you like Siegried and Roy?"

We could steal the data. In fact, the mailing list of more than 25,000 names is also on the site, and is easily downloaded into a spreadsheet. Cool. Twenty-five-thousand names and addresses. Free.

yes, the cd illegally collects user information without the knowledge or consent of the user, and the data was sent unencrypted over the net to an unsecure site, where knowledgable hackers could have stolen or changed the data. not bright at all.

bob pointed out this morning that "significant changes" have been made to the website in question—no doubt a consequence of bob's reporting the story in the first place. i would say the MNGOP is lucky that "the wrong people" didn't discover the vulnerability, but how do we know they didn't? any number of hackers could have stolen all that user data, and we'd never know.