General News

September 09, 2008

Original Original Recipe

KFC's original original recipe was moved today.

So important is the 68-year-old concoction that coats the chain's Original Recipe chicken that only two company executives at any time have access to it. The company refuses to release their name or title, and it uses multiple suppliers who produce and blend the ingredients but know only a part of the entire contents.

The spice mix comes in a packet to the restaurants - at one time it was very nondescript, and the cook just emptied the packet into a premeasured pit of flour, and there was your breading flour. I remember being dismayed that that was as close as I would ever get to the recipe when I worked there.

Larry Miller, a restaurant analyst with RBC Capital Markets, said the recipe's value is "almost an immeasurable thing. It's part of that important brand image that helps differentiate the KFC product."
I'd agree. Yummy stuff. Even if you had the recipe, it's not like you're going to be pressure frying chicken in the home anyway, though I've seen lots of replica recipes with funky things like tomato soup mix.


Posted by hln at 07:28 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 02, 2007

Anatomy of a Tragedy played out by the American media.

Or, the best and worst of the human condition runs the gamut in a very short timeframe. Help me complete this if I'm missing anything.

Before the Facts Shock
  • This is the news rating period. There are no commercials during the television coverage.
  • You can tune in online with at least audio as it unfolds.
  • There's an intense - almost macabre - interest in learning about the event.
  • Because it's too early to know facts, there's a human interest angle:
    • Survivors' experiences
    • Interviews with "joe citizen" who happened to be there and helped however he could - situational heroes
Numbers Numbers
  • Death toll
  • Injury toll
  • Missing toll
  • Talk about "what we don't know"
  • Updates of these numbers (because they were published very early) for quite some time
Preblame Why why why
  • Speculation on causes
  • Interviews with "experts"
  • Goal is to keep the story alive
Blame and Lawsuits Who who who
  • Fingerpointing by politicians
  • Lawsuits by victims/victims' families
  • Lawsuits by government
  • Accused attack accusers, often personal attacks
  • Whining victims on camera, often blaming the government
  • Firings and "resignations"
Smaller scale tragedies often follow the general path if not the specific steps. The case in point is the death of Josh Hancock earlier this year. The media didn't stop its commercials for coverage, and the government blame angle was weak at best, so steps are missing, but the basic flow of the story in the media - yeah, it's here.

Does this bother you any? I think the outcome is that no matter how valiant the efforts of those who served after the tragedy, what we remember is the blame, lawsuits, and inadequacy. That's what we see last.


Posted by hln at 04:30 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 09, 2007

All Animals Are Equal

But some are, of course, more equal than others.

BEIJING (AP) - Nearly 2,000 officials in central China's Hunan province have been caught breaking China's strict one-child policy, state media reported Sunday.
The rich can afford to pay fines imposed by the government, the article says later.


Posted by hln at 09:45 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 18, 2005

Deutsche Post, Recognize It?

It was Germany's federal post office. But now it's so much more.

I follow this with more interest than most because I've done some work for DHL over the last 5 years, and DHL was loosely affiliated with Deutsche Post until 2 years ago when it became the yellow and red UPS and FedEx competitor whose trucks you now regularly see. (and fully owned by Deutsche Post)

Deutsche Post seeks to purchase Exel, a UK-based company that would (according to the Thursday September 15 print edition of the Wall Street Journal) "double the size of Deutsche Post's logistics operation." Whoa.

Even more interesting, the purchase is rumored to be largely completed in cash. "Deutsche Post, in which the German government still owns 45%, would likely finance the purchase with a combination of cash and stock. The company has no debt, and has liquid assets of more than [pound symbol I'm too lazy took look up the ASCII for]4 billion." Evidently the boys in brown are also at least interested in the bidding, as UPS is, according to this same article, "eager to beef up its international presence."

Whoa. Just whoa. Consider the huge losses DHL has incurred in branding itself - 1.2 billion - and the linked article's out of date. And then figure that its parent company has no debt. Yeah, I'll bet brown has paled to tan, if not publicly. This company's serious.


Posted by hln at 01:49 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 08, 2005

Katrina, Yet Again

Hey, all you blamers out there who think you know what really happened...

Why don't you just blame me? I'll be the goat, and we can all get back to what really needs to be done: helping people.

(No lawsuits, please. I'm not really to blame, as you might have suspected. Carry on.)

I might be to blame for the hole in Sean Penn's boat, though.


Posted by hln at 09:28 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Aid from Mexico

Something about this just warms my heart. Thank you, Mexico.

Carrying water treatment plants and mobile kitchens that can feed 7,000 people daily, the convoy bound for San Antonio is the first Mexican military unit to operate on U.S. soil since 1846.

The first green tractor-trailers, with Mexican flags attached to the tops of their cabs, crossed the international bridge at Laredo at about 8:15 a.m.

The rest of the 45-vehicle convoy was in a staging area on the U.S. side in about 15 minutes.

Posted by hln at 08:04 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 05, 2005

What I'm Thinking About

In the interest of time and general summary, here's what's on my mind right now:
  1. The politicization of Hurricane Katrina sickens me.
  2. ~65 miles (bike) today and 30+ on Saturday do make me ready to return to nice, quiet, sedentary work tomorrow a.m.
  3. I need to tell you guys the story of 3 flats and zero miles (next)
  4. The book I'm reading - Freddy and Fredericka - is worth sending to every bibiophile you know. (And darned cheap on Amazon, as you can see).
  5. My mother, who is retired, is too busy to read my blog. Isn't that obnoxious! Social butterfly.
  6. Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 2 comes out September 27th!
  7. And Civilization IV releases on November 14, 2005 (expect Brian's blogging to be light to nonexistent that week)

Posted by hln at 08:36 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 08, 2005

Ah, Journalism

Bored in the airport and perusing the news. This from the Post-Dispatch's online site just makes me smirk.


May, is; what's the difference in journalism?


Posted by hln at 07:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 21, 2005

How Do You Stop a Suicide Bomber?

Is the question I asked Brian this morning on my way out the door to work. We agreed on the answer: you can't.

He had some time to post this morning. I'm certain this question is one a lot of people are either directly or indirectly asking themselves today in wake of London Bombings Part II.

DC officials have a rather silly idea about how to deal with potential suicide bombers in the Metro stations: random backpack searches: Subway riders may face random police checks of their bags under a security measure being considered in the nation's capital, the latest city to look for ways to deter terrorism on rail systems.

No decision has been made on the idea for the city's 106-mile Metrorail system, and the logistics would be difficult. But “it would be another tool in our security toolbox,” says Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein.

All right, class, let's hit the highlights of how this would not work:
  • If the random searches occur in crowded stations or, heaven forfend, crowded trains, what's the difference of detonating the backpack on schedule or when the Metro cop says, "Hey, you!"? Not much to a suicide bomber.
And that's about it entirely. If a person is committed (a strange word, but it fits) enough to take his or her own life with the goal being to kill as many people around him or her, what motivation to stop the process can a third party bring? Chance of getting caught? Not exactly. No cookies for snack tomorrow? I probably shouldn't joke. But there's no perceived punishment in this world (none that civilized people would carry out, anyway) to deter these people.

And then the liberals drone whiny about the liberal-perceived root causes of terror and the far right or just horribly crass folks display more window stickers of the little boy pissing on bin Laden. Because, as Brian says later in his post, they want to DO SOMETHING or blame someone or something theoretical or named.

Technology is only going to make terrorism aspects more and more accessible to interested parties. From tools to coordinate attacks to tools to implement them efficiently and "effectively." The root is easy - misguided perceptions of "reward" or (or combined with) hatred (mostly irrational). I've read my copy of The Sacred Age of Terror from cover to cover.

So how do you stop a suicide bomber? I couldn't tell you. I'm sure all of us can give a good 10 reasons on what NOT to do.

Oh, and anyone in the British media calling the bombers from either set of attacks 'insurgents?' Didn't think so.


Posted by hln at 12:47 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

July 04, 2005

Out of YOUR Pocket

James Joyner posts about bad writing. Specifically, he posts about productivity lost due to poor writing in public sector jobs. He's quoting from this, an AP source, part of which I will repeat.

States spend nearly a quarter of a billion dollars a year on remedial writing instruction for their employees, according to a new report that says the indirect costs of sloppy writing probably hurt taxpayers even more.

The National Commission on Writing, in a report to be released Tuesday, says that good writing skills are at least as important in the public sector as in private industry. Poor writing not only befuddles citizens but also slows down the government as bureaucrats struggle with unclear instructions or have to redo poorly written work.
Wow, but not really.

I think this is going to lapse into anecdote, so the rest will be in the extended section.

I can't say that the writing I encountered in the public sector (nearly 5 years of service, thank you) was any worse than that I sometimes have to review in the private sector. The main difference? My company knows (clients do too) that it's wise to have me review important proposals before the leave the premises, electronically or otherwise.

To that point - when I was a college senior, a professor in one of the final classes I had to take to get my Bachelor of Science in Communications Management administered a grammar test to the class. The result? A lot of bad scores. I actually scored higher than anyone who'd been put to the test previously, a fact the professor made sure to point out to the class before he sent me home for two class weeks while he taught basic writing.

Upon my return, he pointed out to the class that it'd be wise to have me review their work before they turned it in. Nothing like being the grammar nerd. At least I was the grammar nerd in a short skirt.

Whose fault is it that most Americans have poor writing skills? My mother, ever the English teacher, would lament the lack of training in key grades (probably all of them up until what she taught - high school seniors). That's probably true. I also think that people don't read nearly as much as previous generations. There's TV, video games, etc. Maybe that'll make a turnaround with online content, but in order for that to happen, the online content will need to be bereft of "u c that" etc.

As my music theory professor, Dr. David Goza, said in class one day, "You need to know all of the rules to break them." Good advice that applies equally to chord progression and grammar. (As she ends her post with a sentence fragment).


Posted by hln at 03:35 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 21, 2004

Local Drama

Yesterday in the St. Louis metro suburb of East St. Louis, a 19 year-old woman named Katie Wolfmeyer was acquitted in the Mike Danton (Blues hockey player) murder-for-hire debacle. Jurors stated they couldn't find enough evidence to convict. (Article.)

This post is only barely about that. Rather, a quote from the formerly accused's father really rubbed me the wrong way.
Pat Wolfmeyer, the defendant's father, said of the FBI, "I think they set that little girl up. They got in too deep and couldn't get out."
"That little girl." Of his own daughter? I hope this is a misquote or in some strange context because this bothers me on two levels.

1) It's completely detached. You'd think there'd be some emotion. The words "that little girl" wouldn't be the first choice to refer to your offspring.

2) Especially your NINETEEN YEAR-OLD offspring. What is the deal with calling a grown woman a little girl? She's not a lamb; she's not a kitten. She's an adult female. She was certainly tried as an adult. If you think your child is a "little girl" at 19, how do you believe she'll ever be ready for the day-to-day travails of society otherwise known as adulthood?

This has been one of the weirdest cases to hit the area since I've lived here. Obviously lots of information has made it into the newspaper since the case is high profile and therefore frenzied. Probably won't end here - Danton, who pleaded guilty earlier, is sentenced next month.


Posted by hln at 08:21 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 09, 2004

PeopleSoft, a Food Pellet

Oracle has the "okay" to munch PeopleSoft, if PS shareholders agree. And why wouldn't they? Oracle's a big timer.

Info at Yahoo.


Posted by hln at 09:44 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 06, 2004


Yellow's not just for Livestrong.

Yellow is the crux of this article, a piece about a company that manufactures synthetic urine.

I was hooked on the first paragraph, asking myself the question, "why would a company do that?" Well...
While the business plan might induce stifled giggles, synthetic urine is a serious matter in the laboratory industry.

Researchers, drug-testing labs and other institutions buy thousands of gallons of the real stuff, mostly to calibrate the equipment used to test regular urine samples for drugs or other substances. Researchers periodically check the accuracy of their equipment by introducing samples that have been intentionally spiked with chemicals.

But human urine has its limitations.

It's unstable, decaying rapidly if not kept refrigerated and must be frozen when shipped. It can smell, it foams and donors must be screened carefully for drug use or disease. Also, different body chemistry guarantees that no two people's urine is exactly alike, an irritation for researchers who rely on consistency.

In the end, a fully synthetic urine has remained a laudable goal in scientific circles.
Urine SPOILS? Does that make it smell better? You can tell I'm not much of a biologist.

The name of the synthetic? Surine.


Posted by hln at 08:05 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 05, 2004

Tigger, Registered Sex Offender?

How do you define molested? Somehow this isn't my definition.
ORLANDO, Florida (AP) -- A 13-year-old girl testified Monday that a Walt Disney World worker dressed as the beloved character Tigger fondled her breast while she posed for a photo with him and her mother.

"I didn't know what to do. I didn't know what to say," the girl said during the first day of Michael Chartrand's trial on battery and lewd and lascivious molestation charges.

Earlier Monday, Chartrand, 36, rejected a plea deal that would have spared him prison time if convicted.

Prosecutor William Jay offered Chartrand one year of probation and 50 hours of community service if he accepted the plea agreement for misdemeanor battery. Under the terms, Chartrand also would have been banned from theme parks and required to undergo a psychosexual evaluation.

"He didn't do it," said Jeffrey Kaufman, Chartrand's attorney. "We're going to fight it."

Chartrand now could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
Certainly sounds like the judge thinks he did it. Whyowhy, though, I ask you? The dude's in costume - it's not like he's going to get some sort of major pleasure out of the sensation. Also seems to lead to maybe not even noticing at all - maybe the 13 year-old was especially pert and he was accustomed to the spot being safe because girls are saggier these days - I dunno. I've had my boobs elbowed, backed into, etc., from pure accident. I'd guess most women have.

Would you risk 15 years of prison versus no prison time if you were guilty?

The article later goes on to state that Chartrand isn't the park's only Tigger. I smell money.

Jurors will have access to a Tigger costume.

P.S. Don't wait a day to blog. Tigger was acquitted!


Posted by hln at 12:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 09, 2004

60 Million Dollar Feel-Good Bill

Oregon Republican Gordon Smith took the floor to introduce a youth suicide prevention bill named after his own dead son. "He saw only despair ahead and felt only pain in his present. Pain and despair so potent that he sought suicide as a release. As a release," Smith said, recalling his son Garrett, who killed himself in his college apartment last September, one day before his 22nd birthday. Smith recalled a "beautiful child, a handsome baby boy" that he and his wife Sharon adopted a few days after birth. He had vast intellectual gifts but struggled with learning disabilities, dyslexia, and bipolar disorder, sometimes called manic depression, Smith said.

That's from this article.

A few paragraphs later:

Endorsing Smith's $60 million bill, Nickles said, "I have no doubt as a result of us passing this legislation, we'll end up saving a lot of lives, maybe thousands of lives." The bill would help states develop prevention strategies and fund more mental health services on college campuses.

More than 30,000 Americans kill themselves each year and suicide is the third-leading cause of death for people aged 10-24.
Youth has now been extended to 24. If this bill passes, that is.

Brian had something to say about that earlier this week - the American concept of "youth" and the lack of push for adolescents to mature. I think it was in the comments over at Michael Williams' site. While available counseling for the troubled during the busy and stressful time of college is definitely a good idea, why should Joe and Joan American citizen need to pay an additional $60 mil for that. Start a foundation, Senator. Hold charity events. I'm sure your grief is real and this is your cause du jour, but, geez.


Posted by hln at 12:40 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 15, 2004

The Female of the Species is More Deadly Than the Male?

Don't disrespect the sisters.

I would've expected an article about fighting tendencies and girls/young adults to be about hair pulling. Not quite what this one says.
For both girls and boys, the most common reason for a fight was teasing or "being disrespected." In contrast to incidents between boys, clashes between girls were more often a recurrence of a previous fight.

Compared to boys, violence among girls was more likely to occur at home and it was more likely a family member would intervene to stop the violence.

The study also found weapons were present more often in incidents involving at least one girl and that girls were more likely than boys to be injured by a weapon, especially blunt objects such as sticks or rocks.
I've never fought anyone - never had to, kind of a peacekeeping type anyway. Well, okay, except for insulting perfect strangers for their behavior that might damage my person (like those idiots who smoke right next to the gas pump...perfect example). Still, no real altercations. I'm trying to imagine angering someone so much that a full-on fight would ensue. Not bad in my 8-14 year-old period of life. Worst that happened was a bunch of girls calling me a bitch at recess in the 5th grade. I got over it.

Any violence issues for you guys during that time period?


Posted by hln at 07:42 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 24, 2004

Service Dogs and Schools

Victor sent me this link - a newspaper article from my hometown Springfield News-Leader about a young woman with chronic hip displasia who is not allowed to bring her specially trained service dog to school.

The girl's mother believes that the school's refusal to accommodate Karen's condition is in violation with the Americans With Disabilities Act. I tend to agree. Here's why.

1) Service dogs are not disallowed in this school. Animals are not disallowed in this school. The article makes both of these points.

2) Although the article does not mentioned how the dog, Zeus, was obtained, a sidebar contains an interview with a professional service dog trainer. I'm going to go ahead and make the leap that Zeus is appropriately trained and that the organization that oversaw his training found him to be a good match to aid the young lady's condition.

3) The law. I'll just quote the section of the article.
Under Title II of the Americans With Disabilities Act, any public entity — which includes schools — is guilty of discrimination if it does not make reasonable accommodations for the needs of the disabled.

The law's provisions include permitting a person to be accommodated by an assistance animal, which is defined as "any guide dog, signal dog or other animal individually trained to work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals with impaired hearing to intruders or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, or fetching dropped items."

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a school would be in violation if it had a blanket policy restricting students from using necessary methods to aid with their disability, said Cecilia Callahan, director of advocacy for Missouri Protection and Advocacy Services, a watchdog group based in Jefferson City.

Klatt said the school does not have a policy prohibiting animals from being brought onto district property.

If no such policy exists, an accommodation plan must be constructed, ensuring that students with disabilities have the same access to a quality education as other students, Callahan said.

Another law that may apply is the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits discrimination by a school district because a student is disabled. According to the federal act, disabled students are defined as those who have a "physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities such as walking, learning, hearing, caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, speaking and breathing."

Michael Jungers, an assistant dean of students at Southwest Missouri State University, oversees the university's office for disability services. He said if a case like Karen's arose at the university level, officials would confer with the physician to determine whether a student was qualified to use a service animal.

If school officials agreed such an animal was needed, it would be permitted to be used in all aspects of university life, Jungers said.

"The law would pretty much apply at the elementary and secondary levels," he said.
Karen's case isn't very clear cut. I'm fairly sure that if she were visually impaired, this would be a non-issue. The school's response seems knee-jerk - as if the dog would disrupt school, but I doubt that would be the case for more than a day.

One last thing - one of my favorite childhood books was about a boy who was injured with a firecracker and lost his sight. Follow My Leader - worth checking out.


Posted by hln at 12:29 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 11, 2004

GMO Wheat Postponed

Roundup Ready wheat is in a holding pattern.
St. Louis-based Monsanto has been doing field tests of Roundup Ready wheat, which has been genetically modified to tolerate applications of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, for six years and spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the project.

The company already has successfully commercialized Roundup Ready corn and soybeans, key feedgrains, and had hoped to spread its herbicide-resistant technology into the vast wheat-growing industry, starting in the United States and Canadian markets.

But the company's efforts have ignited an outpouring of opposition by environmentalists, farmers, consumers and religious groups, as well as foreign wheat buyers. Concerns include worries about possible human health hazards, increased weed resistance and fears that Monsanto is gaining control over key world crops.
It's an instance of of what the market will bear (which is good) driven by the perceived (and probably likely so) lack of demand by foreign countries. I'm not telling you anything you don't already know here.

What materials do Europeans and Asians use to form opinions about biotechnology? The Canadian Wheat Board is administering an ad campaign to oppose GMO wheat. I see packaging on some of the foods that I eat that proclaims said products to be GMO free. No print ads, though, and nothign in the limited television I watch. Suppose I should wait for the GMO-bashing pop-under ad. And then Brian can mock it.

Wait...I know why it's far less of an issue here. Nobody eats wheat anymore. But that soy...


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April 06, 2004

This is Gonna Be Way Freaky

Brian caught me reading the latest print copy of Reason (May's - the one about pornography) and pointed me to the Hit & Run proclamation that the next issue will include a bunch of our personal information, including a picture of our house, within its pages.

He wasn't kidding.
Most subscribers will receive an issue that features four cover pages of intensely personalized information, a demonstration of bleeding-edge technology that may one day allow for mass-customized and hyper-individualized print publications (btw, pace the Times' headline, our monthly print circulation totals about 55,000).
I would think this would be prohibitively expensive, but obviously not. Reason's not exactly what comes to mind with the words Big Budget.

Looking forward to this one.


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March 26, 2004

Fetus. Defined.

In light of the Senate's passage of the Fetus Protection Bill, I would like to define the word "fetus" in this short entry.

First, the dictionary.
1. The unborn young of a viviparous vertebrate having a basic structural resemblance to the adult animal.

2. In humans, the unborn young from the end of the eighth week after conception to the moment of birth, as distinguished from the earlier embryo.
Eight weeks - didn't know that. When's the embryo law coming?

I shouldn't be so snarky, being one of those people who believes that life begins at conception. But I can't help it. Here's why.
  • Abortion is legal. A mother can terminate the life of her fetus (or embryo) at any time until the law considers the pregnancy to be at a state that an abortion of same pregnancy would be considered a "partial birth."
  • Anyone else bothers that fetus, knowing about its existence or not, whammo! Your crime's been doubleminted.
So, to mother - fetus isn't a human. To everyone else, it has "rights." Come again?

Oh, one other observation. Name a fetus, it becomes a human. The name "Conner" ring a bell? Perhaps the pro-life ralliers should carry around signs with pictures of fetii with attached baby names. Stronger message than "She's a child, not a choice."

I've seen Silent Scream, by the way. (Website seems to have some issues).


Posted by hln at 07:29 AM | Comments (1)

February 17, 2004

Singapore, Meet Portugal. Subtitle: Babies

Singapore seeks to procreate. And Portugal (or at least writers) decries the country's abortion laws.

Meanwhile, in Germany, you can hatch 'em.


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January 25, 2004

Beware Rural Missouri

In today's Post-Dispatch, there's an article about the problem of Missouri's high number of meth labs (and addicts). The author of the article quotes a woman identified as "Christy" as saying thus:
    Christy blames herself for trying meth and for moving back to rural Missouri.
Thanks, Post-Dispatch. Without your reporting, I would never have known that rural Missouri was a place to be avoided at all costs. Residing there is dangerous as running with a bushel of machetes, as sitting in cactus groves (are they groves), as dangerous as ice skating on unfrozen ponds.



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December 06, 2003


Hans sent me this - a blog entry about masking credit card numbers now being law!

The reason he sent it? I am notorious for blacking out my credit card number on paper - especially at restaurants.

I needed some good news today. (Granted, it's something that shouldn't NEED a law, but, we'll, y'know).


Posted by hln at 01:28 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

November 23, 2003

Christmas Cards?

Yes, December is lurking and will saunter in soon. I wouldn't have believed it this morning, though - it was 66 degrees at 9 a.m. It has since fallen to a rainy 45 or so.

So, yes, December. One of my things to do on my list today was to make my Christmas Card list, and it's surprisingly small. Doable, even. Anybody want a card? E-mail me with an address, and you'll get one, complete with a personal (likely silly) message.


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November 18, 2003

Blog Tournament

Patriot Paradox is hosting a Blog Tournament. See this post for details. I'm judging for this one instead of writing.


Posted by hln at 07:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 12, 2003

8 Out of 10

Yes, a survey. According to CNN's Money section, 8 out of 10 of us want new jobs.

    More than eight in 10 workers plan to look for a new job when the economy heats up, according to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Professionals. While there's a difference between looking for a new gig and actually jumping ship, that kind of number is "very, very high," says SHRP spokesman Frank Scanlon.

    How did things get so bad?

    To be sure, the economy hasn't helped. Cash-strapped employers have been cutting back on benefits like health care, paid vacations and retirement benefits.

    Belt tightening is one thing; greed is another. In an era of Enron, mutual fund scandals and ludicrous CEO pay packages, employees know the difference, says Jeff Taylor, founder and CEO of

    "Companies behaving badly" have been all too common during the downturn, according to Taylor.
SHRM's reputable - it's what you join as an HR professional, and it's the organization that offers professional certification.

That 8 out of 10 - are you one of 'em?


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November 07, 2003

Some Friday Good News

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment benefits plunged last week to a level not seen since before the 2001 recession, the government said on Thursday, fueling hopes a long slide in employment had ended.

This article begins with a short analysis and then shifts gears to a section called "Encouraging News," which I'll quote here.

    The magnitude of the drop in jobless claims surprised economists, who expected only a slight drop from a week-earlier level that had been boosted by a grocery store strike in California.

    A department spokesman said problems with adjusting the data for seasonal fluctuations could have been a factor.

    "Every week we encourage (looking at) the four-week average. This is certainly one of those weeks," he said.

    The four-week average, which smoothes weekly volatility to present a clearer picture of labor-market trends, fell 10,000 to 380,000 last week, its lowest level since March 2001.

    Some analysts said the latest data suggested a report on October employment the government is set to release on Friday may show even a larger gain in payrolls than the 58,000 that economists on Wall Street had been expecting.
Keep watching.


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November 02, 2003

Marathons Everywhere!

I found THREE marathon news items of note today, so let this heretoafter be known as the "Marathon" post. Here, a sponsor.

One: This is what you call one fast chickee. She runs about the same pace as I cycle (on a slow day where I'm yawning anyway).

    NEW YORK - Kenyans again ruled the New York City Marathon on Sunday, with Margaret Okayo smashing the course record and Martin Lel winning his first marathon ever.

    Okayo won the New York race for the second time, dropping to her knees and kissing the ground after crossing the line in 2 hours, 22 minutes, 31 seconds. She shattered her 2001 course record by nearly two minutes.

    Reigning world champion Catherine Ndereba of Kenya was second among the women in 2:23:04, followed by Lornah Kiplagat, a native Kenyan who became a Dutch citizen this year, in 2:23:43. They also beat the previous course record.

    "I didn't know I was going to break my own record, but I was just trying to do my best," Okayo said.
And you succeeded.

Two: Sheer craziness!

    NEW YORK - Sunday's New York Marathon will be the seventh one in seven days — on seven continents — for two British adventurers.

    Before coming to New York, explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes — cousin of actors Ralph and Joseph — and his running partner, Michael Stroud, ran an overnight marathon past Egypt's ancient pyramids and through Cairo streets.

    Fiennes ran in support of the Women for Peace International, an organization chaired by Egyptian first lady Suzanne Mubarak, and the People to People initiative, which promotes international peace, according to a press statement.

    The pair had already completed marathons in London, Singapore, Chile, the Falkland Islands and Australia.

    Each 26-mile run had to be completed within six hours so the pair could remain on schedule, Stroud told reporters Wednesday in Sydney, Australia.
Hope these guys can sleep on the plane and that their supply of carbs is endless.

Three: He did it. With only eight weeks of training. Commendable and a bit daft, but for a good cause. Nice publicity stunt, too. Anyone making fun of him want to give it a shot? Then be quiet. If I were training for a marathon, I'd train for at least a year. I'm only a so-so endurance athlete, though, and running ain't my thing.

    Running on a bum right knee and just two months of training, hip-hop entrepreneur Sean "P. Diddy" Combs completed the New York City Marathon on Sunday in just under four hours and raised $2 million for children, double the amount he planned.

    "Never in my life have I ever experienced anything as crazy as this," Combs said at a news conference.

    The producer-rapper, formerly known as Puff Daddy (news - web sites) and Puffy, decided in September to run his first marathon.

    As he crossed the finish line in Central Park in 3:58:22, Combs raised his arms in triumph. He took a few more steps, then leaned over to catch his breath. Bags of ice were placed on his neck.

    Combs — known on the course simply as No. 30,792 — kept a respectable pace of an eight- to nine-minute miles for much of the race. He ran in sunglasses, his hair in a closely cropped mohawk and a breathing strip across his nose. He was accompanied by police officers and at least one of his employees.

    "I feel great. I feel strong," Combs told NBC Sports during the race's first hour. "We're right on pace. I'm not going to go out too hard. I'm going to finish strong."

    He was troubled by cramps that caused him to walk a few steps. He said he drew support from a TV reporter covering the race who ran with him, as well as from cheering children in Harlem.

    "I definitely wanted to stop," he said. "This is definitely a life-changing experience for me because I did not stop."
Ironman, Diddy? Bet you can raise more moolah. But PLEASE train adequately.


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October 22, 2003

Nuclear Days

Yesterday, the Opinion Journal put out a piece about nuclear proliferation and detailed the results of a nuclear attack. I read the article in the morning but never got around to posting about it. Several others did.

If you're 25 or under, it's likely you didn't really experience the mindset of "nuclear war is imminent." I actually had a CLASS on nuclear war in a program I attended in 8th grade. All of the good, solid buildings were designated as shelters with signs. The Day After was controversial; at what age should your children view the movie? It wasn't a question of should they, really, but of age. Even to the young - people like me who saw the original Star Wars movie in a theater - a DRIVE-IN no less, a mention of Star Wars in a realm of anything political regarded Reagan's plans for a missile defense system. The USSR was a big bad empire with its finger on the trigger, ready to strike at any least in our minds.

We learned about radiation sickness/poisoning. The after effects as shown by survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And the thought of conventional war of the scope of Desert Storm or the Second Iraq War, circa 1985, was nearly non-existent.

So it's with that mindset that I read this piece. I need to read it again because I was a bit rushed. This is a new nuclear age, and the players are more dangerous due to levels or lack of sanity, different aims and goals, and yet, somehow, perhaps because I'm an adult and "it hasn't happened yet" the threat seems more distant.


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October 17, 2003


When I picked up this tidbit from the headline, I didn't get what I expected.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) unveiled plans on Thursday to cut the number of deaths from bathing accidents every year — nearly half a million in total — and those caused by infection from polluted waters.
Bathing accidents. You know, when the soap becomes lodged under your arm, and you must be immediately rushed to the ER.

But this is MSNBC. That's all I get unless I take the bait an scroll down. Which I do.

    OFFICIALS OF the United Nations agency said poorer countries would be able to boost their tourist trade by adopting the preventative measures laid out in its new 220-page guidelines for governments and local authorities.

    “Deaths from accidents and drowning, and often long-term illness resulting from pollution in rivers and coastal waters, are a big challenge to public health administration on all continents,” WHO water and sanitation expert Jamie Bartram said.
Ah, that kind of bathing. So these tips are not so helpful to parents who are too stupid to properly bathe their children. Pity, that'd have made for a better topic.


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October 08, 2003

Exception to the Rule

Yes, a bear mauled and killed Timothy Treadwell, of whom I'd never heard. He was, as this article pens it in the title, a "Grizzly Advocate, Friend."

I would suggest, gentle readers, that you not "befriend" wild animals with the capability to easily wipe you from existence with a one-two punch of paw swat and tooth hold. This is the second incident in a week; you know of the other of which I speak. (Ick, that rhymes, but it amuses me, so I will leave it). But, size may not matter; ask the victims of the killer rabbit.

Mr. Treadwell may well have "lived among the grizzlies" (the article states he got within inches of the bears.) And while Mr. Treadwell may have survived and thrived (wow, I'm on a roll) quite well in the previous 50 encounters, the exception to "the rule" just might getcha.

And did.


Posted by hln at 12:22 PM | Comments (1)

Recall, CA

Bill Whittle comments on the recall election in CA and the results.

It's short, for Whittle, and he manages his commentary without ever using the word "recall."


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October 03, 2003

When You Leave a Post Without Saying Enough

Susie pointed out in the comments of my last post that perhaps the tone of that wasn't so positive as I made it out to be.

Fair enough - I probably should've added at least two more paragraphs, one of which is in my comments section in response to Susie.

You can read the whole thing either way. Me, I'm amused, and in my mind the scientists are scratching their heads commiserating, "that's not the results we expected to find."

My whole point can be summed up as such: legislation proves nothing. Because a law is there, doesn't mean people will follow it. We've all heard the saying that "if you outlaw guns only outlaws will have guns." I firmly believe it. You can substitute anything for guns that you'd like, but the simple fact remains: criminals are criminals. Laws don't stop 'em now.

So, take it as that.


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October 02, 2003

The Happy Gun Dance

Spoons, Rachel Lucas, and Kim du Toit (along with a star-studded supporting cast!) are all doing the Happy Gun Dance! Yet more sunny gun evidence to tack up to the panelling. Everybody, repeat after me: "Guns are inanimate objects." Good.

Oh, and someone really ought to legislate those knives, no? I mean, sheesh, the harm they do to the children - the harm they COULD do to the CHILDREN. Hysteria! Hysteria!

(By the way, I find it funny that this is categorized in HEALTH by Yahoo. Perhaps I should link it with fitness and nutrition as well).


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September 16, 2003

Chicken on the Barbie

Following up on my post Not Surprising about Barbie, the Evil Jewess Infidel doll (indeed!), I found that Cox and Forkum's cartoon for today hits the spot.

Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice
Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice
Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice


Link via


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September 10, 2003

Not Surprising

Not Surprising

Barbie dolls are a threat to morality.

Really, they are. If you are a Saudi male, anyway.

    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) -- Saudi Arabia's religious police have declared Barbie dolls a threat to morality, complaining that the revealing clothes of the "Jewish" toy -- already banned in the kingdom -- are offensive to Islam. The Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, as the religious police are officially known, lists the dolls on a section of its Web site devoted to items deemed offensive to the conservative Saudi interpretation of Islam. "Jewish Barbie dolls, with their revealing clothes and shameful postures, accessories and tools are a symbol of decadence to the perverted West. Let us beware of her dangers and be careful," said a poster on the site.
Wow, Barbie's Jewish! I wouldn't have guessed. What, with her blond hair and blue eyes and all. Silly me.

And two things:

1) With as obnoxiously "strict" as the Saudis are, why now?
2) Why a statement so narrow as to attack Barbies?

The article does say later that
    Other items listed as violations on the site included Valentine's Day gifts, perfume bottles in the shape of women's bodies, clothing with logos that include a cross, and decorative copies of religious items -- offensive because they could be damaged and thus insult Islam.
I think the answer to my question #2 is American media interpretation. Ooh! Barbie! Headline!


Posted by hln at 12:03 PM | Comments (0)

September 09, 2003


Honey, these are probably the same kids that always play in the street even when cars are coming, no? Brian has a post about some dumb kids in the St. Louis area.

    Here in Casinoport, Missouri, one 15 year old said to a bunch of friends, hey, I just cracked myself over the head with a skateboard and it didn't hurt, I am invincible (or words to that effect). So he asked his friends to help him prove the point, and unfortunately, one of his buddies found an error in the hypothesis by cracking Mr. Invincible's skull and putting him in the hospital with a severe brain injury.

    Authorities, of course, have charged boy #2.
Ugh. Making a bad situation worse, thank you.

Brian has the link to the article, which is in the Post-Dispatch.


Posted by hln at 09:14 PM | Comments (0)

The Gender Card

In one of Reason Magazine's online posts for the day, Cathy Young points out some rather amusing adults-are-big-children moments in the California Recall campaign.

My favorite is about Schwarzenegger. She states:
    "Would you let your sister vote for this man?" screams a headline in a recent issue of, the left-of-center online magazine. The article quotes activists from the California chapter of the National Organization for Women and from Feminist Majority, a Los Angeles-based national group, who lament Schwarzenegger's "disrespectful attitudes toward women" and his "appalling" use of "sexual stereotypes."

    There is, of course, Schwarzenegger's now-infamous 1977 interview in Oui magazine in which the future gubernatorial candidate, then a 26-year-old bodybuilder, discussed his very active sex life in very crude terms—including group sex with a woman who supposedly strode naked into the gym where he trained. Whether he was just bragging (as he now claims) or telling the truth, the episode makes Schwarzenegger look rather piggish; but surely, there ought to be a statute of limitations on piggery.
Indeed. Piggery - I love it. Porcine commentary in 1977 is hardly an issue in 2003. Especially if it came from me; I was five.


Posted by hln at 09:04 PM | Comments (0)

July 03, 2003

You Are What You Eat

While this appears to be fabulous news, I would like to remind you of the age-old adage, my title above. BAV1, you are what you eat.

If this microbe can truly decompose toxic waste, what else can/does it do? And how can it be stopped/neutralized/controlled?

Forgive me, for I am not a scientist, though I sometimes play one on my blog, and this was the most interesting thing I had read all day.


Posted by hln at 12:10 PM | Comments (0)

April 29, 2003

A-Rod v. WHO

And, in the news this morning, since there's little else to talk about of late BUT SARS, MSN reported that A-Rod ain't a gonna leave his hotel room much while he's in Toronto. Hey, that's great. My question? Why is the hotel safe but the soon-to-be-not-frequented malls and restaurants not so? And how is this really "SARS precautions." Don the mask, wimpo; it could be your next endorsement.

And, of course, later in the day, the WHO (in this article) said Tuesday it will "take Toronto off its list of countries travelers should avoid over concerns about SARS because the city seems to have the disease under control." Wow, Toronto's a country. Lazy, lazy writer.

So, whom should we trust here? Tsk to the media for taking something so entirely inconsequential as a few days in A-Rod's life and making it a headline. Man bites dog, eh? Perhaps tomorrow it'll be "John Travolta chooses ziti over orzo."


Posted by hln at 09:39 PM | Comments (0)