Pay-per-view justice: The advocacy group People for the American Way sued the Department of Justice--and won--to turn over secret documents pertaining to the detention of suspected terrorists after September 11. Now the government says the group must pay $373,000 or more--a cost they say is deliberately high to "forclose access to this kind of information"--for doing the search. But that fee doesn't guarantee that whatever files are unearthed will be turned over, says the DoJ. It's a sad state of affairs in a supposedly open, democratic society. Lucy Dalglishy of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press says, "If that's what it takes to track down secrecy in our court system, things are worse than I thought. They think if they put a really big price on it, maybe the group will back off." (Thanks, Jim.)
The Word of Dob: Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family is continuing his intolerance campaign (you know, the SpongeBob thing). His website includes a whiny article about how his views on the use of SpongeBob SquarePants in a video that promotes diversity and unity are distorted. To set the record straight, here's what Dobson and the purportedly Christian Focus on the Family believe:
While words like "diversity" and "unity" sound harmless — even noble — enough, the reality is they are often used by gay activists as cover for teaching children that homosexuality is the moral and biological equivalent to heterosexuality. And there is ample evidence that the We Are Family Foundation shares — and promotes — that view.

"Unfortunately," Dobson explained, "the We Are Family foundation has very strong homosexual advocacy roots and biases."

For example, a tolerance pledge, which the foundation says it is "pleased to provide" on its Web site, reads in part: "I pledge to have respect for people whose abilities, beliefs, culture, race, sexual identity or other characteristics are different from my own."
Apparently, we're no longer directed to love the sinner and hate the sin, we're supposed to be outright intolerant. Dobson provides a way to gripe to journalists who've wronged him deeply--an online letter-writing tool that can just as easily register your praise for said journalists as register complaints. Give 'er a go.

Keith Olberman of MSNBC, one of the targeted journos, writes on the spam attack:
A correspondent, unhappy that I did not simply agree with her fire-and-brimstone forecast for me, wrote “I showed respect even though I disagreed with you and yet you have the audacity to call me intelligent.”

Well, you have me there, Ma’am. My mistake.
Read more at Metafilter.
Zombie bin Laden: The caption on this CNN screen grab reads: "Experts agree: Al Qaeda leader is dead or alive." Thank you, media experts!
Auschwitz arrogance: Europeans, and Poles in particular, weren't as insulted by Dick Cheney's glaringly inappopriate outerwear at last week's commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz 60 years ago as they were by the fact that the US president didn't bother to show up in person. On top of that, Cheney didn't even write an original speech: sections of his address were lifted virtually unchanged from the speech Bush gave during a brief stop at the camp 18 months ago. "Cheney, like Bush before him, came to Auschwitz with one purpose in mind: to twist and exploit the atrocities of Hitlerite fascism to justify Washington’s own acts of aggression and inhumanity," WSWS writes, adding that the VP is a bad choice for representing the US: as a senator, Cheney opposed a resolution calling for an end to the quarter-century imprisonment of Nelson Mandela, he voted against a measure to make Martin Luther King's birhday an official holiday, and he was the "principal organizer of the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq." (Via Cursor.)
The Blasphemator! Web fun for the piously (in)correct! Lin sends a link to churchsigngenerator.com.


American apparel: The Washington Post reports that, at yesterday's Holocaust memorial event, Dick Cheney was dressed in "the kind of attire one typically wears to operate a snow blower." (Via Cursor.)
The Imperial I: I cringed when the president, speaking about Iraq, broke into the first person the other day: "I firmly planted the flag of liberty, for all to see that the United States of America hears their concerns and believes in their aspirations." From the guy who still can't account for his absence from his National Guard service 30 years ago, the guy who launched a war on shoddy intelligence, a guy who hasn't personally planted any flags in war-torn soil, a guy who can't seem to get a flight-suit on correctly, it's a bit galling to hear such an overt, Iwo Jima-style metaphor. If any freedom flag has been planted in Iraq--a dubious argument, at this point--perhaps it might be more appropriate to give credit for it to the 1,425 military men and women who died there rather than to a president that can't seem to grasp the notion of the communal "we"?

[Illustration by Craig Foster, from Joshua Berger's gallery of artist statements against the war, Anti-war.us. ]
A9 and Big Brother: As Amazon's cool A9 search engine adds a yellow pages function that includes photos of storefronts, this flash animation seems a bit more ominous: it starts with the birth of the internet and covers technological developments real and imagined, from Google, Amazon, Blogger, and TiVo, to GoogleGrid and, ultimately, somethiing called epic [8 minute animation]. (Thanks, Don.) And: Speaking of search capabilities, Ben points out a great mapping tool, MusicPlasma, that offers a cartographic representation of musical interests. A clever way to find new music you might like from bands you don't yet know.

Music for January 24: Lin, responding to my gloomy birthday post, suggests I take a listen to a musician described thusly:
He is F.M. Cornog, a low fi solo artist who was homeless and then got an apartment in Queens, NY, found a Tascam mixer and guitar and released 5 albums of some of the most sad music, but pleasant sounding stuff I've heard since the Velvet Underground.

Think the more acoustic stuff by the Cure crossed with a folky dude who likes skating park organs, singing about hookers, pimps and abandoned theme parks. yep, that's F. M. - or Fred.

We emailed a bit back in the 90s, he's still at though, just put out his 5th record. I told him his music reminded me of my year in Brooklyn, looking out the window at a sea of tv antennas, sun shining through alleys, the odd bum shuffling through garbage cans, etc.

he said, "yes, Lin, that's what I'm going for"....
Definitely worth a listen.


The most depressing day of the year: Yesterday I turned 34. I bought myself a steak and ate it alone, save for my begging dog. Then I drank some wine and talked on the phone with my girlfriend who’s 3,000 miles away. I forgot to eat my cake.

But that’s not why yesterday was such a bummer. According to British doctors, misery peaks on my birthday every year. By January 24, the glow of Christmas has worn off, but the debts linger. New year’s resolutions have been chucked, daylight shines on us for fewer hours than any other time, and the weather’s near it’s coldest (at least around here). How depressing is it? The BBC quantifies it scientifically:
The formula for the day of misery reads 1/8W+(D-d) 3/8xTQ MxNA.

Where W is weather, D is debt - minus the money (d) due on January's pay day - and T is the time since Christmas.

Q is the period since the failure to quit a bad habit, M stands for general motivational levels and NA is the need to take action and do something about it.
In the absence of a PayPal account, sympathetic readers can inquire via email about arranging a donation; just put “January 24 Fund” in the subject line.

(Thanks, Cameron.)
Global art: For the past decade I've collected globes; I've got maybe a dozen of various sizes. I'm always fascinated by the fact that, despite ever-changing borders, they're never dated or visibly copyrighted, and I appreciate the visual reminder that we're all really in this together. Eyebeam's reBlog points out Ingo Gunther's "World Processor" project, in which he altered some 200 globes to show different realities of modern "geopolitics." This one compares the number of daily TV deaths to the number of people owning TV sets, showing that "Most nations would disappear on a daily basis" if those deaths actually occurred. More on Gunther's work at republik.com.


Monday... by Glasgow artist David Shrigley.
Blackspot 2.0: Adbusters has prototyped a second generation of Blackspot sneakers: high-top, rubber toe, Fluevog-designed, with a recycled tire for a sole. Of the design, one apparently baked commenter writes, "They look like geese." Weigh in on what you think of the design.


Bush beckons Satan: This explains a lot:
President Bush's "Hook 'em, 'horns" salute got lost in translation in Norway, where shocked people interpreted his hand gesture during his inauguration as a salute to Satan.

That's what it means in the Nordics when you throw up the right hand with the index and pinky fingers raised, a gesture popular among heavy metal groups and their fans in the region.

"Shock greeting from Bush daughter," a headline in the Norwegian Internet newspaper Nettavisen said above a photograph of Bush's daughter Jenna, smiling and showing the sign.

For Texans, the gesture is a sign of love for the University of Texas Longhorns, whose fans are known to shout out "Hook 'em, 'horns!" at sporting events.

Bush, a former Texas governor, and his family made the sign to greet the Longhorn marching band as it passed during the inaugural parade through Washington during Thursday's festivities, Norway's largest newspaper, Verdens Gang, explained to its readers.

Powell sitcom cancelled: We still have to endure Rummy's bluster, and Condi is being rewarded with a promotion for her blunders, but there is some good news: FCC chair Michael Powell is resigning! It remains to be seen which media company's front stoop the revolving door will spit him out at. Stay, um, tuned. (Thanks, Kemi.)
The Hummer Mentality: When a Boston meter maid gave Francois Youhanna a $55 parking ticket for illegally parking his Hummer in front of a Starbucks, the enraged FUV-driver shouted, "I don't accept this ticket!" and splashed his "Venti-sized" coffee in her face. "I went down, I was panicking. It hurt so bad, I thought my face was falling off,'' she said. "It was in my eyes, I was screaming.'' Now Youhanna, a 6'2" 220-lb. bodyguard, faces felony charges for assault and battery. And: "People who feel small inside need something big."
Racist Radio: How low can New York hip hop radio station Hot 97 go? Much lower than its Whitney Houston slam "Is it Whitney or a tsunami victim?" According to HipHopMusic.com, the station has produced a racist song about the tsunami victims (link to the mp3 is down at the moment). Some lyrics:
All at once you could hear the screaming ch*nks and no one was safe from the wave. There were Africans drowning, little Chinamen swept away. You could hear God laughing, "Swim you b*tches swim."

So now you're screwed, it's the Tsunami. You better run or kiss your ass away, go find your mommy. I just saw her float by, a tree went through her head, and now the children will be sold to child slavery...
Not to get preachy, but Hot 97, like all radio stations, is here to serve the public interest. It's what the station agreed to when it signed on for its (free) license to use the publicly owned airwaves. If you disagree with how they're serving our interest let them and the FCC know.

Write, call or email the station:
395 Hudson St. 7th Floor
New York, NY 10014

(212) 229-9797

File a complaint with the FCC.


Priceless: A few facts from The Progress Report's breakdown of Bush's $40 million party today:

$2,000: Amount FDR spent on the inaugural in 1945…about $20,000 in today's dollars.

200: Number of Humvees outfitted with top-of-the-line armor for troops in Iraq that could have been purchased with the amount of money blown on the inauguration.

400: Pounds of lobster provided for "inaugural feeding frenzy" at the exclusive Mandarin Oriental hotel.

22 million: Number of children in regions devastated by the tsunami who could have received vaccinations and preventive health care with the amount of money spent on the inauguration.

26,000: Number of Kevlar vests for U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan that could be purchased for $40 million.

9: Percentage of D.C. residents who voted for Bush in 2004.

Here's the full, citation-rich list. Enjoy. (Thanks, Witt.)
SpongeDob: Christian over-reactor James Dobson, having stirred up a hornet's nest on the gay-marriage debate (not to mention this divisive doozy making the email rounds again), is setting his sights on cartoon critter SpongeBob SquarePants as a chief proponent of homosexuality. But apparently some confusion abounds (and not, as you might guess, because the combination of "sponge" and "pants" might've made Dobson think of contraception):
Dr. Dobson said SpongeBob's creators had enlisted himin a "pro-homosexual video," in which he appeared alongside children's television colleagues like Barney and Jimmy Neutron, among many others. The makers of the video, he said, planned to mail it to thousands of elementary schools to promote a "tolerance pledge" that includes tolerance for differences of "sexual identity."

The video's creator, Nile Rodgers, who wrote the disco hit "We Are Family," said Mr. Dobson's objection stemmed from a misunderstanding. Mr. Rodgers said he founded the We Are Family Foundation after the Sept. 11 attacks to create a music video to teach children about multiculturalism. The video has appeared on television networks, and nothing in it or its accompanying materials refers to sexual identity. The pledge, borrowed from the Southern Poverty Law Center, is not mentioned on the video and is available only on the group's Web site.

Mr. Rodgers suggested that Dr. Dobson and the American Family Association, the conservative Christian group that first sounded the alarm, might have been confused because of an unrelated Web site belonging to another group called "We Are Family," which supports gay youth.

"The fact that some people may be upset with each other peoples' lifestyles, that is O.K.," Mr. Rodgers said. "We are just talking about respect."

Mark Barondess, the foundation's lawyer, said the critics "need medication."
(Thanks, Reid.))
Screw bran: New Scientist reports that a mystery compound in beer may fight cancer. Thank you, science. (And thanks Reggie for the link.)
Kristof on Cambodia's sex trade: In the first of two columns on sexual slavery in Cambodia (the second appears this Saturday), the New York Times' Nicholas D. Kristof writes:
A year ago, a pimp handed me a quivering teenage girl. Her name was Srey Neth [pictured], and she was one of the hundreds of thousands of teenagers who are enslaved by the sex trafficking industry worldwide.

Then I did something dreadfully unjournalistic: I bought her.

I purchased Srey Neth for $150 and another teenager, Srey Mom, for $203, receiving receipts from the brothel owners. As readers may remember, I then freed the girls and took them back to their villages.

Now I've come back to find out how they coped with freedom.
Read the full story here. And hear Kristof narrate an amazing multimedia presentation on the story here.
News you might not see in the news: Describing Washington as "in a state of lockdown," Democracy Now! outlines some of the hundreds of counter-inaugural events happening today:
More than half a million people are expected to attend the ceremony today and along with the customary inauguration address and parade, a number of protests are being planned in Washington and around the country.

Along the parade route, thousands of people will "Turn Their Backs on Bush." An anti-war march through Malcolm X park will conclude with a "die-in."

Military families and veterans will speak out at an "Eyes Wide Open" exhibit. The exhibit includes a pair of boots honoring each U.S. military casualty in the Iraq war and a wall of remembrance to memorialize the Iraqis killed.

A "Black Gold and Boots" event will be held outside the official "Black Tie and Boots" inaugural ball and a "Got Freedom?" Ball, outside the official Freedom Ball. Across the country, a campaign called "Not One Damn Dime" is calling for a 24-hour national boycott of all forms of consumer spending.
Find a schedule of counter-inaugural events here.
Inauguration Daze: When Bush was inaugurated in 2000, I had a weird moment of media schizophrenia. The TV, tuned to NBC (I think), was covering hard-hitting news: the introduction of ten-gallon hats and cowboy boots to Washington's fashion scene. Meanwhile, DC Indymedia was reporting an entirely different reality: protesters cutting down American flags along the processional route and replacing them with black flags, eggs raining down on the presidential limo. Indymedia didn't mention the Texas Two-Step and Katie Couric and Co said nothing about the massive protests. The media acknowledged, after the fact of course, that they downplayed protest stories last time around (Danny Schecter cites findings by the Washington Post's ombudsman who admits the paper shortchanged the subject on its pages and minimized the crowd sizes. The Post also admits it donated $100,000 to Bush's $40 million festivities today.) The same thing will happen today, I predict. Because as George Monbiot writes, "the US media is disciplined by corporate America."

Buy Nothing Inauguration: Lodge a symbolic protest today by not spending a damn dime (or a red cent) in support of this adminstration. No lunch at Chipotle, no gas from BP, no trendy throwoutables from Target. The Bush White House (and inauguration) is paid for by the corporations and lobbyists that benefit from their policies. Lay off supporting them for 24 hours.


Praise God! (Sort of.) The Spanish Catholic Church has acknowledged that condoms help prevent the spread of AIDs, and supports their use in combatting the disease. The Vatican, however, reiterated that the use of contraception remains "contrary to Catholic morality."
Death toll tops 226,000: When Indonesia moved tens of thousands from "missing" status to "dead," the country's human loss in the tsunamis jumped past 166,000. In the 11 stricken countries, the total killed has surpassed 226,000--and is expected to rise again. Lin updates his illustration.


Americanism's family tree: OK, I haven't read it all, but Yale professor and Weekly Standard contributor David Gelernter's explanation of the link between Americanism and religiosity seems promising. "Puritanism did not drop out of history," he writes. "It transformed itself into Americanism." (Via Metafilter.)
Tsunami tattoos: Skin artists in Phuket, Thailand, have been asked to create more than 20 tattoos commemorating the December 26 tsunami and its victims.

Off the commercial grid: Jeremy Rifkin, author and president of the Foundation on Economic Trends, writes that 200,000 of those killed in Asia had enough time to escape the massive wave. The problem: electricity. He writes:
While industrialised nations and transnational corporations have been busy connecting the far reaches of the planet into a seamless communication grid to expedite the instantaneous exchange of commercial information, little or no effort has been expended on creating a global communications infrastructure that would warn millions of people about unfolding natural disasters.

Tsunami deaths in perspective: What if, say, Jacques Chirac said three years ago, "The September 11 attacks are a terrific chance for us to show the US how gosh-darn compassionate we are. We hope to score huge compassion points here"? We'd boycott Bordeaux, change the names of our potato products, and boycott bistros. Reducing the deaths of some 168,000 people to a political pokerchip, Secretary of State nominee Condoleeza Rice today said, "[T]he tsunami was a wonderful opportunity to show not just the US government, but the heart of the American people, and I think it has paid great dividends for us." Wouldn't any "dividends" made through our grief and goodwill be erased by the nominee for the top American diplomatic post saying such a crass thing? Following up the statement, Lin Wilson at Funnel puts the southeast Asian tsunamis in perspective (click on image for details).
Magnetic 'Mericanism: Want to make your own statement on a ribbon magnet? Visit Pomosideshow where you can make your own. I especially like the "Where's your ribbon?" ribbon. (Via Tom Tomorrow.)
Well put: From Cursor:
Baghdad Burning's Riverbed writes that being bombed and invaded for weapons that never existed is "like having a loved one sentenced to death for a crime they didn't commit." Plus: U.S. intelligence found no evidence WMD moved from Iraq.
Seed police: Creepy-ass, corporate Big Brother shenanigans:
Monsanto Co.'s "seed police" snared soy farmer Homan McFarling in 1999, and the company is demanding he pay it hundreds of thousands of dollars for alleged technology piracy. McFarling's sin? He saved seed from one harvest and replanted it the following season, a revered and ancient agricultural practice.

"My daddy saved seed. I saved seed," said Mr. McFarling, 62, who still grows soy on the 200-hectare family farm in Shannon, Miss. and is fighting the agribusiness giant in court.

Saving Monsanto's seeds, genetically engineered to kill bugs and resist weed sprays, violates provisions of the company's contracts with farmers.

Since 1997, Monsanto has filed similar lawsuits 90 times in 25 states against 147 farmers and 39 agriculture companies, according to a report issued Thursday by The Centre for Food Safety, a biotechnology foe.
Read the full article. (Via Digg.com.)
GOPropaganda: From the jingoistic to the star-spangled to the quite odd, AuthenticGOP.com offers a selection of t-shirts and other Republican schwag featuring weird NFL-style GOP logos. My favorite is this one that assumes that anyone who keys cars is a Bush-hating, tolerance-preaching (but not practicing) lefty.
King, a day late:
The ultimate weakness of violence
is that it is a descending spiral,
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar,
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you murder the hater,
but you do not murder hate.
In fact, violence merely increases hate....
Returning violence for violence multiples violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Dr. Martin Luther King

Opportunities for citizen media ventures: This is cool.
New Voices, a program to seed innovative citizen media ventures around the United States, has issued a call for its first round of grant proposals. New Voices is funded with a $1 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and is administered by J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism, part of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland.

New Voices will help fund the start-up of twenty hyper-local news ventures over the next two years and will support them with an educational Web site.

The program is seeking new ideas for distributing news and information to hyperlocal geographic communities or communities of interest. In particular, it is looking for news ventures that offer the promise of being self-sustaining.

Nonprofit and educational institutions are eligible to apply. Funding is available for start-up news initiatives only. Ongoing efforts are not eligible to apply unless they are proposing a new venture. Funding is available for print or electronic news initiatives, including online, cable, broadcast, narrowcast, satellite, and mobile efforts.

Each project may receive as much as $17,000 in grants.

Eligibility guidelines and application forms are available at the New Voices Web site.

Deadline: March 17, 2005

Learn more here. Info on other RFPs in journalism and media


Social Security Bushit: Bush is mistaken about the instability of Social Security, writes Dave Hage in today's Star Tribune:
Scare tactics . . . worked three years ago, when the administration was trying to sell voters on a preemptive war in Iraq. That's because most Americans simply didn't have the facts to evaluate Bush's claims about Saddam Hussein.

With Social Security, however, we have very good information and it completely contradicts the White House crisis scenario. Social Security is running very large surpluses at the moment and it will have enough money to pay full benefits until the year 2042. By then the median baby boomer will be 20 years into retirement. After that, it will still have funds to pay about 70 percent of promised benefits. This isn't liberal propaganda. It's from the annual report of the Social Security trustees, several of them Bush appointees. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), a nonpartisan and trusted forecasting agency, says Social Security will be able to pay more like 80 percent of promised benefits long after 2050.

This is not a system that will be "flat broke" when today's 20-somethings retire.
Full article.

SS Fearmonger: Also on the Strib editorial page:
Of all the lies -- let's call them by their right name -- that the Bush administration is spreading about Social Security, none is as vile as the canard Bush repeated last Tuesday, when he said, "African-American males die sooner than other males do, which means the [Social Security] system is inherently unfair to a certain group of people. And that needs to be fixed." That is an entirely phony assertion... For them to repeat what they know to be a blatant lie is despicable fear-mongering.
Please stop speaking: In today's Washington Post, George W. Bush says the 2004 election was vindication of his Iraq policy. Huh? And when did we vote on the Iran issue? According to Seymour Hersh, the US has been conducting secret missions there; the goal: "The civilians in the Pentagon want to go into Iran and destroy as much of the military infrastructure as possible." (In the same interview in the Post, Bush was asked why he thought Osama bin Laden hasn't been caught yet. His answer? "Because he's hiding." Are we to surmise, then, that Bush is only going to be effective in capturing terrorists who are loitering in plain view?) And: Bush's main man in the Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas, reportedly told a South Carolina judge that "[A] judge should be evaluated by whether he faithfully upholds his oath to God, not to the people, to the state or to the Constitution."


Shot to hell: Whatever our mission in Iraq was supposed to be, the result seems to be the opposite. The war is now costing us $4.8 billion a month, but instead ridding the country of ne'er-do-wells, Iraq is now the world's biggest training ground for terrorists. No wonder 16 members of the House are calling for an immediate withdrawal of troops.

And here's how Bush deals with bad news: when Colin Powell told the president "we're losing" the war in Iraq, Bush asked him to leave. When the CIA releases findings that Iraq is now ground zero for terror, the White House dismisses it as "speculative." (Via Cursor.)
Next: The Toyota Darfur? Naming a sportscar after a natural phenomenon that recently killed upwards of 150,000 people might be a bad marketing strategy, figures Toyota Canada. They're dropping plans for the Celica Tsunami, which was to feature the "new wave of bold style."

McHuh? A new McDonald's commercial in Israel [movie file] replays the "Royale with cheese" scene from Pulp Fiction, with one character cryptically saying, "They don't say 'please' in Israel." (Via Eyebeam's reBlog.)
Another Rwanda? The Human Rights Watch report mentioned below also accuses the world of showing "callous disregard" for the victims of widespread violence in Darfur, where 70,000 have been people killed and another two million have fled their homes. The report states that UN Security Council members China and Russia are preventing tougher action in the north African country to protect lucrative oil and arms contracts. Remembering the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, HRW director Kenneth Roth says, "Darfur is making a mockery of our vows of 'never again'."


Denial and Deception: On October 7, 2002, George W. Bush said: "Eleven years ago, as a condition for ending the Persian Gulf War, the Iraqi regime was required to destroy its weapons of mass destruction, to cease all development of such weapons, and to stop all support for terrorist groups. The Iraqi regime has violated all of those obligations. It possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons." Today--surprise, surprise--he says the fruitless search for WMDs is off. The newsgraphic on the White House website, a remnant of the attack-Iraq marketing campaign, is pricelesss--"Iraq. Denial and Deception." So true. Night and Day: Compare the Bush administration's prewar posturing about WMDs with its more recent statements. And: Despite its human and financial toll, Bush says the war was "absolutely" worth it.
'Merican morality: If the US is so gosh-darn generous, so staggeringly moral and good, why did it take two rounds of global ridicule for the world's wealthiest nation to pony up enough money for tsunami aid to surpass the $40 million pricetag for the president's inaugural party? Don't worry, though; the presidential shindig on January 20 won't be paid for by taxpayers--unless you count the $17.3 million in security costs that'll come out of anti-terrorism funds. This inauguration, says Public Citizen's Joan Claybrook, "is bought and paid for by corporate America." Most of the donors are government contractors who have raked in $2.9 billion from the Bush administration last year. And: According to Human Rights Watch, the US can no longer claim the moral high ground on human rights issues either. HRW writes that America's "embrace of coercive interrogation [is] part of a broader betrayal of human rights principles in the name of combating terrorism."
Dollar Art: For some reason I'm intrigued by modified money--hobo nickels, rubber-stamped bills, altered twenties. Here's a particularly colorful find: Kamiel Proost's collection of dollar-bill art. (Via BoingBoing.)
The Best Use of the Public Airwaves award goes to... Clear Channel Communications, the owner of stations in four markets that ran a "Breast Christmas Ever" contest over the holidays. Thirteen women who wrote the best essays on why they wanted bigger breasts were awarded free boobjobs. It's double-D excitement for conservatives: the notoriously rightwing stations used the piously correct term "Christmas," rather than that Christ-negating PC-ism "holiday."

More Christmas Spirit: Rightwing commentator Ann Coulter opines that "saying 'Merry Christmas' is like saying 'F--k you!' I've said it to everyone. You know, cab drivers, passing people on the street, whatever. And they come up with the 'Happy holidays.' 'Merry Christmas.' I mean, it really is an aggressive act in New York."
When art's a bit too close to life: Ten garbage collectors in Frankfurt, Germany, are being sent to classes on modern art for mistaking artist Michael Beutler's sculptures for trash and incinerating them. Of the art, a conglomeration of yellow plastic sheets, Frankfurt's sanitation chief said, "As the weather was bad I thought it was construction workers who had dumped their materials on the street and called my people to come and take it away." And residents in condos across the street from the new Yoshio Taniguchi-designed Museum of Modern Art in New York are peeved that the new space gives spectacular views into their expensive living rooms. Said one MOMA neighbor, "I feel like I'm an exhibit. They're over there all day, staring, pointing, flashing their cameras."


A rough day in comic America: As Jon Stewart's America (The Book) gets banned from public libraries in two Mississippi counties, Ali G nearly gets strung up at a Salem, Virginia rodeo. The HBO star was posing as Boraq Sagdiyev, a Bush-supporting immigrant from Kazakhstan who wanted to show his patriotism by singing the "Star Spangled Banner" for the rodeo's audience. "I hope you kill every man, woman and child in Iraq, down to the lizards... And may George W. Bush drink the blood of every man, woman and child in Iraq," he said, before launching into a broken-English rendition of the anthem (which concluded with the lyrics "your home in the grave").


Due North: In Vietnam, it was draft dodgers and conscientious objectors who headed to Canada to avoid service. In the neo-cons' Iraq debacle 35 years later, it's the soldiers who are hightailing it north. According to the Telegraph, some 5,500 GIs have deserted so far. And since you won't hear the figure on the nightly news, 1,356 Americans have died in Iraq so far and 9,844 have been wounded in action.
Question: How many news organizations reporting the firing of four CBS employees involved in "Memogate" (the case of allegedly forged National Guard documents that cast doubt on whether Bush fulfilled his military obligations) will remember the fact that the CBS report was essentially correct?

While the documents are questionable, the basic thesis is true: 1.) official documents about whether Bush completed his obligations are inconclusive, and 2.) Bush got special favors to avoid fighting in Vietnam. That from the man who got him his cushy post in the champagne unit, former Texas House Speaker Ben Barnes: "I help a lot of wealthy supporters and a lot of people who had family names of importance get in the National Guard. I'm very sorry of that, and I'm very ashamed of it, and I apologize to the voters of Texas for that." More on the story from CBS and the Columbia Journalism Review. (Thanks, Jim.)
Doomsday Plan (and other miscellaneous news): How's this for ominous? The U.S House of Representatives has quietly passed a "doomsday provision" that will allow a handful of congressmembers to declare war in the event of "catastrophic circumstances." It used to be that a majority of house members--218 lawmakers or more--had to be present for the body to function, but the new plan says that a majority of congressman present at any given moment can pass laws or declare war (if you know anything about how the Republicans plan midnight debates so that news cameras aren't on and many legislators aren't around, you'll be very wary).

Armstrong's bad day: Armstrong Wiliams, the conservative journalist secretly paid a quarter-million dollars to hype No Child Left Behind, had a coupla rough days: after his payments from BushCo were revealed, he walked out on a scheduled interview for MSNBC's Scarborough Country and his column was dropped from syndication by Tribune Media Services.And: More on Armstrong's brand of ethics.

"Corporate paranoia" from Apple: Should bloggers have the same protections as journalists? Apple says no, but the Electronic Frontier Foundation says yes. It's representing bloggers at AppleInsider and PowerPage who are facing a subpoena from the computer maker to reveal the identies of sources that leaked details on a product code-named "Asteroid." "I am very disappointed by Apple's behavior and its new policy of issuing legal threats to its best customers," added Jason O'Grady, publisher of PowerPage. "Is corporate paranoia really more important than the First Amendment?"

Gather no Moss: OK, so my team lost, but at least we don't have one of these (er, that's Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss air-mooning the crowd then rubbing his keister on the goalpost).


Repost: A shaman's call:
On the occasion of finding a nice picture of German conceptual artist Joseph Beuys online, a re-post of my Adbusters essay from the "We're Back" issue, in which the magazine returns from an imagined and unexplained global collapse:
In a 1974 performance, Joseph Beuys struck a haunting pose. As a coyote circled him in a gallery, he gathered insulating felt around him to create a conical fortress, his body hidden entirely from view. From the top of this impromptu teepee, a shepherd's crook rose like a spire--part mountaintop guru, part signal tower. But, as in all of his enigmatic work, what he was signaling isn't altogether clear. As his three-day performance continued, a wordless dialogue with the animal ensued as Beuys sought to locate "the psychological trauma point of the United States' energy constellation"--that is, the fracture between animal instinct and a mechanistic, consumptive Western worldview. As man and beast became acquainted, roles reversed: Beuys began sleeping on the coyote's straw bedding, while the coyote took to pissing on "the daily diary of the American Dream," The Wall Street Journal (marking turf, or making a briny critique of American materialism?).

How can we make sense of the work's title, Coyote: I Like America and America Likes Me, or the fact that the coyote is the second most adaptable mammal on earth, an evolutionary survivor? Whatever his intention, Beuys' work--actions, sculptures, and paintings carried out on a continuum of activism and shamanism--may have more to say to us now than it did when he created it in the late twentieth century.

Beuys deeply believed that ours was a traumatized society. The social body was psychologically and psychically wounded and Beuys, a medical student before he began making art, had a treatment plan. His performances were part of his work as a mystic medic, and his healing rituals seem to have risen from his experiences in World War II. As a fighter pilot, he was shot down over the Crimea and, risking frostbite and death, was rescued by nomadic Tartars who healed him by rubbing his body with animal fat and wrapping him in felt. While these two materials appear in Beuys' work, the experience permeated his art philosophically as well: just as the body, aided by a protective skin of lard and felt, is innately equipped to heal itself, so is society; we already possess mystical powers for individual and cultural healing. He seemed to be saying our future hinges on our ability to activate these dormant forces that reside within us. Is it too late to heed this shaman's call and summon our powers to survive?

Lawnmowers against terror: Ever innovative, the state of Texas seems to have pioneered a new terror-fighting strategy--lawnmower drag races. Either that or they're grossly misspending their federally allocated anti-terror funds. According to a state auditor's report, some of the $600 million in funds has been misspent: some emergency money was used to buy a trailer to haul lawnmowers to the races; other funds went to buy communication devices from a company owned by one of the county's commissioners; still others haven't been tracked down yet. Could this confusion be a microcosm of problems on a national scale? Maybe; finding that oversight of Homeland Security is a fractured affair, recent hearings revealed that homeland security officials report to 88 congressional committees and subcommittees (instead of just one consolidated committee, as recommended by the 9/11 Commission).


The best news money can buy: First the Bush administration got busted by the U.S. General Accounting Office for violating a ban on government funded "publicity and propaganda" by using a video news release—i.e. fake news—that supported the No Child Left Behind law. Now it’s been revealed that the White House actually paid a real journalist to fabricate news about the act:
The Bush administration paid a prominent black journalist to promote President Bush's education law and give Education Secretary Rod Paige media time, records show.

Armstrong Williams, a nationally syndicated radio, print and television personality, was paid $240,000 by the Education Department to promote the No Child Left Behind Act.

The contract required Williams' company, the Graham Williams Group, to produce radio and TV ads that promote the controversial law and feature one-minute “reads'' by Paige. The deal also allowed Paige and other department officials to appear as studio guests with Williams.

Williams, one of the leading black conservative voices in the country, was also to use his influence with other black journalists to get them to talk about No Child Left Behind.

...Three Democratic senators - Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and Harry Reid of Nevada - wrote Bush Friday to demand he recover the money paid to Armstrong. The lawmakers contended that “the act of bribing journalists to bias their news in favor of government policies undermines the integrity of our democracy.''

..."There is no defense for using taxpayer dollars to pay journalists for 'fake news' and favorable coverage of a federal program,'' said Ralph Neas, president of People for the American Way, a liberal group that has tracked the department's spending. "It's a scandalous waste.''
(Thanks, Andy.)


Making another world possible

There's an expanding chasm between rich and poor, looming environmental calamity, global terror seemingly growing in tandem with global markets. Now look at art being made today. Is it playing a vital role in mounting resistance to these forces? Does art have the capacity to catalyze social change? Or is artist Martha Rosler right when she says, "The total freedom of the artist in Western society also ineluctably signals total irrelevance"? As artists like Sam Durant are quick to point out, "art is an effective tool of resistance and change--just as it is an effective tool for the maintenance of power or the status quo." But some recent strategies of artmaking are working to tip the balance to progressive change.

One shares its name with an exhibition on view at Massachusetts' MASSMoCA through March 2005: The Interventionists. These artists seek to "enter physically," writes Nato Thompson in the show's catalog: "that is, they place their work into the heart of the political situation itself." By changing the context--going into the streets or bringing the "real world" into gallery--art makes the much-touted, yet little realized, leap between art and life. For example, the exhibition features mobile shelters for the homeless created by Krzysztof Wodiczko and the Danish art group n55 that could easily be relegated to a museum show on design. But fabricated for actual use outside the gallery, these constructions serve dual roles of giving practical help to the homeless while using aesthetic means to raise the visibility of the easily overlooked urban poor.
Does art have the capacity to catalyze social change? Or is artist Martha Rosler right when she says, "The total freedom of the artist in Western society also ineluctably signals total irrelevance"?
Well known to culture-jammers is a form of intervention described by the Situationist term detournement. "One tactic is not to present something that we all recognize as shocking, but to present the shocking aspect of what is comfortably familiar; or to defamiliarize the commonplace," writes Jean Fisher in the catalogue for Documenta 11, a recurring exhibition in Kassel, Germany, that frequently addresses geopolitical concerns. This flip is demonstrated by Mexico City-based artist Minerva Cuevas, who has repurposed corporate mechanisms, from consumer brands to the very structure of a corporation, to "make information available, readable . . . and to translate social campaigns into their visual or graphic form." In an early project, Cuevas founded the Mejor Vida (Better Life) Corporation, a nonprofit once housed in Mexico City's tallest trade tower, to do work that doesn't compute in bottom-line-driven circles: give away unscratched lottery tickets (and any winnings), distribute barcode stickers to give shoppers fair prices at supermarkets, create MVC student IDs so cardholders can get free admission at publicly funded museums and discounts on public transportation.
"One tactic is not to present something that we all recognize as shocking, but to present the shocking aspect of what is comfortably familiar; or to defamiliarize the commonplace," writes Fisher.
In one of Cuevas' more recent projects, she spotlights little-known American history: in 1954, the CIA backed a coup in Guatemala that overthrew a democratically-elected leader who sought to nationalize the powerful United Fruit Company. Cuevas' wall-sized mural features a Del Monte label for canned tomatoes with red juice flowing onto the gallery floor, puddling like blood. Accompanied by the words "Pure Murder," she references either the CIA's assassin trainings or the half century of violence the coup triggered--or both.

While such work responds to current events, it's not reactionary. So, unlike earlier forms of protest-based art, it goes beyond proposing the inverse of that which it opposes to deconstructing the underlying memes. Forgoing the binary view of Del Monte (the company that bought United Fruit's land when it folded), she complicates the reassuring design of a corporate label, hinting that the purity of our food includes not just its ingredients but the practices by which it's harvested and sold in the global marketplace. The problem with oppositionality, writes Fisher, is that, by itself, it seldom sustains a change in perception because it leaves the basic or system intact: the system is well able to absorb any message, provided its code remains unchanged. But by making alternate narratives, the memes can be exposed and, hopefully, eroded.
That seems to be the motive of Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky) in his recent project Rebirth of a Nation. An experimental musician and hip-hop artist, Miller has made a high-tech reinterpretation of the 1915 film The Birth of a Nation, the explicitly racist tale by D.W. Griffith long used in recruiting by the Ku Klux Klan. Using the DJ's toolbox, Miller sliced and diced a troublesome film--a cinematic classic that, because of its innovative editing and camera angles, is one of the American Film Institute's Top 100 American films of all time--overlaying hypnotic digital graphics and film footage (including a Bill T. Jones dance work based on African-American history) with a soundtrack of hip hop, dub, live violin, and ambient sounds. By reworking the film's DNA through an artform developed in large part by African-Americans, Miller reclaims the techniques of montage and intercutting, while also "taking back" the history appropriated by Griffith. "Basically I'm holding the remix of the film up to America in a way that says, 'Another world is possible,'" Miller explains. "How do you make it real?"

And perhaps that's art's strength--it creates a language of possibilities for our consideration, "endless alternatives," as Walker Art Center curator Philippe Vergne says. To ask it to be something else is wrongheaded. After all, it's art, not advertising, entertainment, or electoral politics. We don't hold our poets accountable for the effectiveness of their verse nor do we judge the aesthetic standards of our senators. But when art is successful--when it moves its viewers to act--it feeds a network of others who are using various tools, from protest to policy, voting to community organizing. "Art is a part of the struggle," says Durant. "It isn't itself the cause of some radical change but can be part of the movement for revolutionary change and social justice."

My recent essay on art and activism, from Adbusters' current issue, "The Big Ideas 2005."

Top to bottom: Minerva Cuevas' Montte Pure Murder; Sam Durant's Justice, promotional poster for DJ Spooky's Rebirth of a Nation.


Dispassionate Conservatives: Trotting out the depraved notion that perhaps God punished Southeast Asia by sending a tsunami, rightwing extremist and conservative commentator Michael Savage asserts that the death of 150,000+ people isn't worthy of his government's aid. "We shouldn't be spending a nickel on this, as far as I'm concerned," he said on the December 31 installment of his nationally syndicated radio show. "I don't want one nickel of my money going over there. ... I am sick of being bled to death by every damn incident on the earth." Further, he asserts:
It's not a tragedy. I wouldn't call it a tragedy. It's a human disaster...

...Many of the countries and the areas in these countries that were hit by these tidal waves were hotbeds of radical Islam. Why should we be helping them destroy us? ... I think what we're doing is feeding our own demise. ... I truthfully don't believe in foreign aid.
While Indonesia is majority Muslim, he's got his facts wrong: majority-Buddhist countries Thailand (95%) and Sri Lanka (70%) lost more than 50,000 people combined with another 15,000 still missing. And India, 81% Hindu, mourns some 10,000 dead.

Earth to Sullivan: you're a gasbag. Atrios highlights conservative commentator Andrew Sullivan who, responding to Lt. Cmdr. William Whitsitt's comment that he preferred helping tsunami victims to fighting a war, quipped, "Earth to Whitsitt: you're a soldier." At another point, Sullivan wrote, "i'm sorry but i pay for those soldiers to fight in a volunteer army. they are servants of people like me who will never fight. yes, servants of civil masters. and they will do what they are told by people who would never go to war. that's called a democracy."
More perspective: Another lens through which to see the US government's $350 million donation to tsunami-stricken countries: Australia just upped their contribution to a billion dollars (US$764.5 million). Australia's generosity is all the more amazing considering their population (19.9 million people, a fraction of the US's 293 million) and wealth (the Australian GDP for 2004 was $571.4 billion, while the US's was $10.99 trillion). See the CIA's World Factbook for comparisons between the US and Australia.
Bush Family Values: The Bush twins have picked Kid Rock to play a teen concert for Daddy's inauguration. The performer of such musical gems as "Wax That Booty" and "Pimp of the Nation" ("There's only two types of men / pimps and johns / There's one type of bitch /And that's a ho"), perhaps it's a fitting choice. After all, wasn't it a Bush--Neil, in particular--who was serviced by prostitutes while traveling in Hong Kong and Thailand (the same country his uncle is photo-opping in today)? And, well, you could say Neil's brother, George, is pimping us all right now (see post below about the cost of the WMD-free Iraq war). As Patridiot posits, shouldn't Bill O'Reilly--who proposed a boycott of Pepsi for hiring rapper Ludacris a few year back--be spearheading a boycott of the Republican inauguration?
$350 million in perspective: With the war in Iraq costing $130 billion so far, the US contribution of $350 million in tsunami relief is equal to just 42.27 hours of fighting in Iraq. Our daily cost in Iraq: $198.7 million. (Via BoingBoing.)


Tsunami Monument: Gently etched in the Minnesota snow, a quiet prayer to the victims of the tsunamis reads "sleep well" in Thai.


"It's over in Iraq. It's finished." According to veteran correspondent for the UK's The Independent Robert Fisk, we've all but lost the war:
Ultimately, I think what we are going to see, as we have seen in all Middle East wars of occupation, is the opening of some kind of contact between the Americans and the insurgents. This is what the French did after years of saying they would never talk to terrorists, they talked to the FLN. After years of saying they would never talk to terrorists, the British talked to the IRA. After years of saying they would never talk to terrorists, the British talked to the militants fighting them in Aden and to EOKA in Cyprus, and indeed, to both militant sides in Palestine that they tried to escape from what Churchill called a hell disaster in 1948.

The Americans will soon, if they have not already, establish contact with the insurgents, and that will mean the beginning of end. It means that the project is over. That they have accepted, as I think, you know, they have already in terms of soldiers on the ground. If you are going to talk to the colonels, and they may -- the majors and the generals in Iraq, they know that the game is up. But the generals back at the Pentagon and the Centcom and down there in old Florida and the gentleman in the State Department and at the White House, they don't accept this because this is a screen of self-delusion between them and the reality on the ground. But it's over in Iraq. It's finished.

What we're going to see this year is the beginning of the endgame, which is how do we get Americans out without losing face and ultimately - I should say faith as well - and ultimately, how do you start negotiation with the insurgents. I mean, that doesn't mean that some American colonel is going to sit down with Zarqawi, though I wouldn't put it past the realm of possibility. It means that we're going to have in effect an understanding between the insurgents and the United States forces that the project has failed, that at some point the powers behind the insurgency or the resistance or the terrorists or whatever you would like to call them, will move into place to control the country and they probably will. In the meantime, I fear the Western powers will go on trying to promote the idea of civil war as an alternative to their occupation and oppression and I hope very much that that won't work. As I said to you before, Iraq has never had a civil war. Iraqis don't want a civil war. The only people who fear or talk about civil war are the Americans and British.
Read the full interview.
Prodded toward decency: A day after September 11, 2001, the world rallied around the US, sending money and prayers. So why has it taken the Bush administration so long to react to the tsunami disaster? OK, OK, Bush did act, eventually, by offering an embarrassing $15 million in aid (a figure that rose to $35 million, after some prodding, although reading the US press you'd hardly remember that piddly "stingy" figure; for example, here's Forbes erroneously referring to that "initial $35 million pledge"). Now the US is pitching in a sum a bit more appropriate for its wealth--$350 million. Given the exorbitant pricetag of Bush's war-whim in Iraq, perhaps America can do better (sign this petition to urge a US donation of $1 billion dollars.) As John Nichols writes, Bush failed this global test.

Politicizing tragedy: Hats off to Mr. Doug Patton who on the GOPUSA website uses the death of 150,000 people to promote the cause of American conservatism and radical Republicanism. In response to a UN official's suggestion that the US promise of $15 million was a little on the lean side (what UN emergency relief coordinator Jan Egelund said was "...Christmastime should remind many Western countries how rich we have become, and if actually the foreign assistance of many countries now is 0.1 or 0.2% of their gross national income, I think that is stingy, really.), Patton excoriated Egelund: "[T]his whining, petty, ungrateful little bureaucrat is trying to tell us we don't pay enough in taxes. In fact, he is saying that we actually want to pay more!" But Doug's not the first to seek political gain from the destruction: Jeb Bush, not the American president, is taking his photo ops in the disaster zone, a move some say is a way to jockey for his future candidacy for national office.

Stingy: Via Tom Tomorrow, a link to Mark C, who takes on a caller to Rush Limbaugh's show who complained that foreign aid didn't help out Florida's hurricaine victims:
OK all you Limbaugh listeners, try to follow along at home as I walk you through this. No matter what you've heard, the US is a very, very wealthy nation. The per capita income in the US is about $35,000. Hurricane Charley hit on Friday, August 13th. By Tuesday, August 17th, FEMA had already issued more than $2 million in checks for disaster relief. Ten days later President Bush asked Congress for $2 billion dollars for aid (he wasn't on vacation then, and its possible that the election had something to do with the amount). Since then the Small Business Administration alone has provided more than $1 billion to Florida businesses to fix hurricane damage.

Meanwhile, Malaysia's per capita income is $3,550, Thailand's is $2,000, Sri Lanka's is $850, India's is $450. The US poverty level for an individual with no children is just over $9,000.
Great women pass: I was saddened by the premature death of Susan Sontag last week; she was a hero of mine for her writing, her artful observations, and her activism. Now another hero, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm has passed on too. The first African American woman to run for Congress, Chisholm was also the first woman of any race to seek the nomination to run for president. The Nation writes:
Chisholm, who died January 1 at age 80, ran as the "Unbought and Unbossed" candidate for the 1972 Democratic presidential candidate. She campaigned in key primary states as a militant foe of the war in Vietnam and a champion of the economic and social justice movements that had organized so effectively during the 1960s. And she did not mince words. A co-convener of the founding conference of the National Women's Political Caucus, she once announced, "Women in this country must become revolutionaries. We must refuse to accept the old, the traditional roles and stereotypes. That kind of talk, along with her refusal to reject the endorsement of the Black Panthers, scared the party establishment -- including most prominent liberals -- and Chisholm's run was dismissed from the start as a vanity campaign that would do nothing more than siphon votes off from better-known anti-war candidates such a South Dakota Senator George McGovern and New York City Mayor John Lindsay. They were not ready for a candidate who promised to "reshape our society," and they accorded her few opportunities to prove herself in a campaign where all of the other contenders were white men. "There is little place in the political scheme of things for an independent, creative personality, for a fighter," Chisholm observed. "Anyone who takes that role must pay a price."
The subject of Shola Lynch's amazing film Chisholm '72: Unbought and Unbossed, her wisdom is as relevant now as ever:
รข?¢ When morality comes up against profit, it is seldom profit that lose.

• I was the first American citizen to be elected to Congress in spite of the double drawbacks of being female and having skin darkened by melanin. When you put it that way, it sounds like a foolish reason for fame. In a just and free society it would be foolish. That I am a national figure because I was the first person in 192 years to be at once a congressman, black and a woman proves, I think, that our society is not yet either just or free.

• At present, our country needs women's idealism and determination, perhaps more in politics than anywhere else.

• ... rhetoric never won a revolution yet.

Situational Sensitivity? Ashok Malik writes in the The Indian Express:
In the aftermath of the worst terrorist attack on American soil, the networks were remarkably correct. ‘‘Sensitive coverage’’, ‘‘respectful of victims’’, ‘‘no violation of privacy’’: the buzzphrases flew thick and fast.

Until last week, they even seemed believable. Unlike the aftermath of 9/11 — when not one dead body was shown on screen, not one ghastly image recorded for posterity, and about the only objectionable visual was of a man jumping to his death — Asia’s tsunami is open season.
Full story here, and a response from an American writer here. (Via Cursor.)
What Gives (and Who): Not that they're related, but... the Bush administration gave out $1.17 billion to faith-based organizations in 2003. And: The top 10 war profiteers list features a number of big Bush donors.
Brains, brawn, brides: A study performed at four British universities makes a correlation between IQ and prospects for marriage. After studying 900 men and women, starting when the subjects were 11 and checking in with them at age 40, they found:
the schoolgirls with high IQs later witnessed a dramatic decline in their marriage prospects. But the brighter schoolboys found it easier to find a bride.

The results are borne out by evidence from psychologists that successful career women are struggling to find “interesting men” who are interested in them.

Relationship experts say professional men prefer to marry women “like their mum” who will provide the domestic support while they go out to work.

Women achievers, however, find it difficult to find men willing to sacrifice their careers to become house husbands.

...For boys, there is a 35% increase in the likelihood of marriage for each 16-point rise in IQ. For girls, there is a 40% drop for each 16-point increase.
Buy Nothing Inauguration: In the spirit of Adbusters' successful Buy Nothing Day, an email making the rounds calls for a buy-nothing presidential inauguration. "On 'Not One Damn Dime Day' those who oppose what is happening in our name in Iraq can speak up with a 24-hour national boycott of all forms of consumer spending." It's a symbolic gesture, sure, but why would anyone call it a hoax?

Tsunami coverup? With 150,000 now estimated dead in the Southeast Asian tsunamis and a swath of destruction that crosses three continents, it's time to ponder: did the Thai government bury warnings to protect the country's tourism industry?

Animal planet: Six elephants that appeared in the film Alexander have been brought in to clear debris from impassable tsunami-hit areas around the Thai island of Phuket and in Phang Nga province. "Like a four-wheel drive," the elephants can go where even all-wheel-drive trucks can't. Also, WiredNews wonders why so few animals were killed in the disaster, citing scientists who refer to animals' "sixth sense."
Health v. wealth: How come US consumers pay more for drugs than just about anyone else (a WHO report shows that average prices for patented drugs are 35 to 50% lower in 25 non-American industrial nations), yet our life expectancies are lower and our infant mortality rates are higher than those in Canada, Japan and all of Western Europe except Portugal?


Tsunami. How do we make sense of disasters like the Indian Ocean tsunamis? Some wonder whether it's karma. Others prescribe the science of prayer. And some, like the Flickr bloggers behind Hands to Southeast Asia, are responding through art: they're sending their love via some 400 individual photos of hands outstretched in prayer or welcome to the people of Thailand, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India, and the other countries hit by the wave. The rest of us, unsure what to do, can send much-needed money. Visit Apple's home page to find links to relief agencies including the Red Cross, UNICEF, and Doctors without Borders. Wikipedia, "the free encyclopedia," also offers a comprehensive list of aid organizations. Please give today.