Friday, May 10, 2002

‘toons out the yinyang

A treasure, a total timesink, get lost in Don Markstein's Toonopedia. One of my favorite cartoonsFelix1.gif
was Felix the Cat, who, according to Toonopedia, was animation's first star - appearing in 1919! felix2.gifI love the silent ones, but also the 60s version. As far as the silent version goes, I love them because Otto Messmer managed to capture the essence of cat.

I also loved just about anything Terrytoons, like Heckle & Jeckle and Mighty Mouse.

And Toonopedia has an entry devoted to Krazy Kat, one of the earliest newspaper comic strip characters.

posted by lee on 05/10/02 at 11:22 AM
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Sunday, May 12, 2002

stopping unintended consequences

Signing the petition mentioned below is a very easy way to show support for legislation that would require the Army Corps of Engineers to plan for environmental protection, among other things, when conducting projects affecting floodplains, waterways, and coastal areas. At present, the ACE in unchecked - there is NO oversight and the agency has managed to do irreparable damage to habitats on the basis of flawed economic analyses.

To sign a petition: Greening the Corps of Engineers - National Wildlife Federation.

To read more information about this legislation and what the Corps has been up to, go here NWF efforts in the greening of the Army Corps of Engineers.

The top 25 wasteful and harmful Corps projects are here. And the Corps vs. the Great Lakes Basin is here.

And now a storm is having an environmental impact ...
posted by lee on 05/12/02 at 10:29 AM
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Monday, May 13, 2002

Rep. Chris Shays (CT) Says to Kill Internet Radio

Congressman Christopher Shays
Fourth District, Connecticut
1126 Longworth Building
Washington, DC 20515-0704
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Dear Christopher,
Thank you for your letter dated May 8, 2002 in response to my fax opposing the current recommendation of the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel (CARP) to implement compulsory license rates for public performance by digital transmission.

It is quite clear from your letter that you do not have a complete grasp of the issues involved or of the facts of the matter. The facts are quite easy to find on the Internet and I'm disappointed that my congressperson's staff didn't bother to check them before preparing the response to my fax.

You wrote, "On February 20, the CARP recommended a performance fee of $0.14 per performance and a short-lived license fee of nine percent." You are wrong. The CARP recommended a performance fee of 0.14 per performance PER LISTENER (vs. .07¢ per song for commercial radio station simulcasts, and .02 per song for noncommercial radio simulcasts) with royalties due retroactively to October 1998.

Here's how the 14/100 of a cent per performance royalty rate would translate for a webcaster with 500 listeners per day: 500 listeners x .0014 dollars x 15 songs per hour x 24 hours = $250 per day or $90,000 per year, retroactive to 1998. Between the exorbitant fee and the paperwork requirements, most, if not all, webcasters will be forced to shut down. Is this your goal? Even the recording industry was not asking for this much money - the RIAA asked for fifteen percent of revenue (which is twice as high as what commercial radio stations pay).

I am not saying webcasters should not pay royalties. I am saying webcasters should be subject to the same formulas based on percentages as commercial radio.

You wrote, "In its report, the CARP concluded the impact of Internet webcasting on record sales is indeterminate. Webcasters argue their medium, like radio broadcasts, contributes positively to artist exposure and sales." I do not know the statistics - nobody does - but based on my experience, I would tend to agree with the Webcasters' position because I've purchased numerous CDs that I never would have bought otherwise just because I heard the artist on Internet radio. Internet radio is a supportive medium for independent artists, unlike commercial radio. If you really do support the arts, as you claim on your website, then you should be vociferously opposing the death of Internet radio.

You wrote, "For its own good, the industry [recording industry] should embrace business models based on electronic distribution. The approach that eventually succeeds will have to be built on the principle of respect for the rights of artists, producers, broadcasters and consumers." Your position on the CARP recommendations makes it clear that you have not considered the impact of this ruling on the rights of artists, webcasters, or consumers - only commercial producers and commercial broadcasters. I suspect you have more constituents who are artists and consumers than are members of the Recording Industry Association of America (has the RIAA made contributions to your campaign?)

I was extremely disappointed that your signature was not included on the letter several of your colleagues sent to The Librarian of Congress expressing their concern over the unreasonably high rates proposed by the CARP. If you have not seen this document, you can view it here:

Unless you can explain your positions based on facts, and demonstrate more concern for your constituents than the interests of the recording industry, I will not be voting for you again.

Lee Fleming
[address omitted]
Norwalk, CT

cc: neurotwitch
Kurt Hanson RAIN: Radio And Internet Newsletter


May 8, 2002

Lee Fleming
[Address Omitted]
Norwalk, CT

Dear Lee,

Thank you for your fax expressing opposition to a recommendation by a Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel(CARP) to implement compulsory license rates for public performances by digital transmission. I appreciate your taking the time to share your views.

I fee the process Internet radio broadcasters went through is fair to all interested parties. On February 20, the CARP recommended a performance fee of $0.14 per performance and a short-lived license fee of nine percent. This decision essentially splits the difference between what the Recording Industry Association of America and Internet broadcasters were seeking. The Librarian of Congress now has until May 21 to either accept or reject the CARP's recommendation.

The CARP also recommended a performance fee of $0.07 for Internet retransmission of over-the-air AM or FM radio broadcasts, and a performance fee of $0.02 for noncommercial broadcasters who use a webcast. In its report, the CARP concluded the impact of Internet webcasting on record sales in indeterminate. Webcasters argue their medium, like radio broadcasts, contributes positively to artist exposure and sales.

I believe the recording industry has been much too slow to adapt its business practices to the incredible opportunities presented by the Internet. It needs to realize the demand for digital transmissions on the Internet, through mediums [sic] like Internet radio and file sharing software. Much like the film industry fought against new distribution forms like video rentals -- which ended up creating incredibly valuable new opportunities for the industry -- the recording industry is finding it difficult to embrace the promise of digital distribution.

For its own good, the industry should embrace business models based on electronic distribution. The approach that eventually succeeds will have to be built on the principle of respect for the rights of artists, producers, broadcasters and consumers.

Please do not hesitate to contact my office again. Because we have not had regular mail delivery since the Anthrax threat in October, e-mails, phone calls, faxes, and in-person visits are the most effective ways to communicate with my office. I also invite you to visit my website at

[Unreadable Felt-tip Scrawl]
Christopher Shays
Member of Congress


Note: If I get anthrax, this is where it came from.
posted by lee on 05/13/02 at 10:24 AM
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Tuesday, May 14, 2002

appropos absolutely nothing

a lot of work went into this -- a hideous amount of work ...
posted by lee on 05/14/02 at 06:44 AM
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my favorite quote so far this month

From the Washington Post article about the changes recommended for the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History:

"Perhaps because of the pressure to reflect the fullness of American history, NMAH has taken the metaphor of 'America's Attic' to a regrettable extreme," the report stated.

Very effective way of saying the NMAH is a cluttered mess. It's not a charming bit of clutter, either - it's just a mess. It's about time someone tackled organizing the attic.
posted by lee on 05/14/02 at 11:18 AM
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Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Oh I am so shocked, just shocked ...

Survey says $180 million anti-drug campaign has not discouraged teen use. Hmm, teen drug use went up among the ad viewers. White House drug policy office wanker Tom Riley sez oh my, we spent millions and whaddaya know, no return on investment. Millions down the toilet. For an ad campaign budgeted for $180 million. It's just too stupid for words ...
posted by lee on 05/15/02 at 10:56 AM
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What is twitch yelling about now?

Researcher Analyzes the Meaning of Meows. Well, we know when Twitch wants to be picked up, when he wants to eat, when he's stuck and needs some help ... cats say the darndest things.
posted by lee on 05/15/02 at 05:20 PM
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Thursday, May 16, 2002

Fungi food sparks latest round of nuttiness

What's in Those Nuggets? Meat Substitute Stirs Debate. (Log-in required - but it's free).

It's all about Quorn. "Quorn ... is a meat substitute made from a kind of a fungus, grown in giant fermentation tanks and processed into a low-fat, protein-rich substance that has some of the texture of meat."

Now 'shroom growers and various overlords of our health & food industry infrastructure are protesting a food that's been eaten by millions in Europe for more than 15 years. Spreading all this alarm in their neverending effort to protect us from ourselves whether we want them to or not. After all, there are no greater concerns for these foodies to worry about - such as all those people who don't get enough of any kind of food. No sirree - let's make mountains out of those anthills.
posted by lee on 05/16/02 at 09:21 AM
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Friday, May 17, 2002

noisy damn critters

I couldn't get a clear shot, or rather, a close-up shot, of this bird (have to read the directions for our digital camera, I guess). So take my word for it for now -- it's a parrot. I don't know what kind of parrot yet, since I don't know much about them -- actually identifying it will have to wait until we can get a closeup.


I guess a lot of folks wouldn't consider a parrot in a pine tree very interesting or even worth noting. Unless, of couse, they live in New England, which is not normally a wild parrot habitat. A few days ago, I was sitting on the porch with mutt Ginger, and heard this god-awful racket coming from this bird way up in our pine tree. I looked up, and at the time I thought it was a parrot, but decided I must be delusional.

Then, this afternoon, Stanley said, "There are parrots in the back yard!" "Hmm," I thought, maybe I wasn't nuts after all (well, about wild parrots in the back yard, anyway). So Stanley dug out the binoculars, and I grabbed the Toshiba. Sure enough, way the hell up in the huge pine tree, we saw two parrots. It sounded like there should be 40 of them; they make so much noise it's hard to believe that it comes from those two little bodies.

No wonder kitty Twitch was going nuts at the window this morning. (Twitch is an indoor cat, so Mr. & Mrs. Parrot are safe. From him anyway, though Twitch would sure like to change this.)

I hope they decide to stay and nest there. Even though they're so noisy, we think it's pretty neat to have parrots in the pine tree.

And we hope it drives our weasel neighbor Koutsoukos nuts -- they're right outside his bedroom window.
posted by lee on 05/17/02 at 01:58 PM
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squirrel haven seems to have new tenants

Well, we figured out the digital zoom. Not that it helped much -- the shots are only a bit closer.

This is one parrot in the pine tree:


And the other in the catalpa tree:


They decided to get together:


We tossed some peanuts out for them -- don't know if they eat them or not. Tomorrow, when we go to Petco, we'll get some sunflower seeds or something. Though the squirrels will probably eat them. What do parrots eat, anyway?

Ginger decided to do a little landscaping:


She's trying to dig out a big root. Or go to China. Good thing we didn't plant anything there yet.


Maybe she's building a house for herself? Not that she'd have the guts to stay there when the bus goes by. Or the garbage truck. Don't know what's going on inside that little doggy brain.


"Give that back to me! I need it for my house!"


Today: very little accomplished, but a fairly peaceful day. Except for trying to deal with the company that manages our web server. But I'll save that for some other post - maybe.
posted by lee on 05/17/02 at 03:20 PM
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