Saturday, February 01, 2003

just remember, half fall on the left side of the bell curve

Abracadabra, Your Money Is Gone

"BETHLEHEM, Pa. (AP) -- A woman who says she bought magic wands from a self-described psychic to erase negative thoughts says $5,400 of her money was all that disappeared ... "

Since her brain cells obviously disappeared years ago, that's all that COULD have dissappeared.

Shorter telomeres mean shorter life

"Old people can expect to die sooner if they have shorter telomeres, pieces of DNA that protect the ends of chromosomes."

Sure, I know what telomeres are ... not. At least not from this article: A telomere is a repeated sequence of five bases that preserves the integrity of genes during DNA replication, rather like the glue that prevents the ends of shoelaces unravelling. There's nothing one can do to make those telomeres longer, is there? Will this give rise to telomere envy?

One more that caused me to shake my head:
Doctor sued for branding uterus defends actions

"LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (AP) -- A surgeon being sued for branding a patient's uterus with the initials of his alma mater -- the University of Kentucky -- defended his actions Tuesday as a routine part of a hysterectomy.

Dr. Michael Guiler said in a statement that marking the uterus gives doctors a point of reference before it is removed.

"Guiler, who used a cauterizing instrument to brand "UK" on Stephanie Means' uterus, said the letters marked the organ's midline and distinguished its left and right side.

"Not only am I always able to remain oriented for the patient's safety, I felt this was honorable since it made reference to the college of medicine where I received my medical degree," he said in the statement, which he read to reporters ... "

How about the letters "L" and "R" or something that might actually make sense? But what I'm wondering about, too, is why the branded woman was watching a videotape of her hysterectomy. Is that common? And of course she's suing--this is America, after all. On what grounds the article doesn't specify. What ever happened to just filing a complaint? Does this lady plan to retire on the proceeds of the lawsuit? Probably.
posted by lee on 02/01/03 at 07:18 AM
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Sunday, February 02, 2003

all about gangs

I stumbled upon this site, GangRule, while looking at Gawker, which I got to via Kottke's portfolio, which I got to via Webword. (Got that?) is a very pretty site. And it's apparent that it's just a beginning and still a very long way from definitive. (Or even substantial--but these things take time.)

And probably the information is very interesting (I went to look at the maps--I'm not particularly interested in gangs except the gangs of Detroit during the Depression). The maps were interesting, but also frustrating since they don't display large enough to actually read.

But I don't have (or couldn't find) a clue as to why the site owner, whom I think is Jon Black, put up this site unless maybe it's to sell used books about gangs? It doesn't really matter, it just interests me--why people build the sites they do.

The navigation on this site is bizarre and extremely confusing. Navs and content switch from side to side. I don't think the navigation is interesting or even serves any kind of a purpose--I just think it's lazy and annoying. [The site was designed by MagnetStudio, whose own website is bizarre and annoying and so two years ago it's kind of spooky and, with so many broken links in the portfolio, sure wouldn't inspire me to hire them.] The font is tiny and very difficult to read (black on dark gray, for the most part, and fixed, of course) and it actually appears as if the people who run the site are doing their damndest to make visitors go away.

There are lots of images, most without attribution of any kind though a big blue box says not to steal them (like they weren't lifted from the Library of Congress and other places like that). The images are small, and the enlargements are, for the most part, so small it's not worth the click to see the larger version. I love old pictures of places I know, so I was kind of disappointed in them.

This site could be very cool, and very interesting, and maybe it'll generate enough interest and contributions to make it worthwhile to improve the navigation and make the words and pictures big enough to see without going blind. Right now the GUI is so anal retentive it's actually funny. Belongs in Web Pages that Suck: The 2nd Generation.
posted by lee on 02/02/03 at 06:38 AM
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Monday, February 03, 2003

alien landscape

"Drive north from Las Vegas for a hundred fifty miles or so. No trees, no towns, no humans or a goddamned bit of greenery to speak of. You call this straight road miserable, but you haven't yet been to Rachel, pop. 100, whose only claim to fame is that it is the closest town to Area 51, America's famously secret experimental military installation."

So begins Eric Gauger's latest issue of Notes from the Road. This issue is a trip through Nevada, specifically southern Nevada, titled "Rocks & Mythology in the Nevada Desert."

This is one of my favorite sites. Besides always being interesting, and always providing good maps and good information, Eric's webpages are beautiful, with oft-times magnificent photography.

After you've read his latest essay, check out the rest of the site.
posted by lee on 02/03/03 at 12:52 AM
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Thursday, February 06, 2003

very useful site for designers

PBDSAMPLE.gifThe Fontscape typeface directory is nicely organized. Brought to you by the same friendly folks who run Identifont. Identifont is pretty good, but not good enough yet to identify a font we need for a client. Do you know this font?

Identifont is a creation of information design company Human-Computer Interface Limited.

I've uploaded the font above in WhatTheFont at Voila! I followed the directions, and found the font. It's Enviro! A Linotype font. Owned by Letraset (which I assumed pretty much since our sample is a printed business card). And has it for $21.00, good. Lemmesee, upper case only, designed by F. Scott Garland. Okay, off I go to buy it ...
posted by lee on 02/06/03 at 05:00 AM
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watching out so you don’t have to

Consumer WebWatch, brought to you by the folks at Consumer Reports and The Pew Charitable Trust, is on a mission to investigate and improve the credibility of information on the web. They list guidelines for judging a website's credibility and kind of serve as a clearinghouse for web credibility initiatives (there are many). Definitely worth a look, especially if you're building a website other than a personal site.
posted by lee on 02/06/03 at 07:09 PM
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Saturday, February 08, 2003

Asscroft is trying to rewrite the consititution—again

Boston Globe Online | Justice Dept. eyes expansion of its domestic surveillance
"According to the Center for Public Integrity, the draft expansion of the Patriot Act would be called the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003.

"Among other things, it would prohibit disclosure of information regarding people detained as terrorist suspects and prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from distributing ''worst-case scenario'' information to the public about a nearby private company's use of chemicals.

"In addition, the measure would create a DNA database of ''suspected terrorists;'' force suspects to prove why they should be released on bail, rather than have the prosecution prove why they should be held; and allow the deportation of US citizens who become members of or help terrorist groups."
If this is actually introduced, Congress should use it as an opportunity to review and repeal, or at least amend, the Patriot Act. And then throw this piece of fascist legislation into the shredder.

Read the proposed legislation yourself. You can download the documents here.
posted by lee on 02/08/03 at 06:29 PM
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Monday, February 10, 2003

Poka-yoke: find out what this means

John Grout put up a Mistake-proofing Center, with lots of resources and examples.

Poka is Japanese for "inadvertent mistake". Yokeru is Japanese for "to avoid." It is often used as a synonym for ZQC (Zero Quality Control), error-proofing, or mistake-proofing.

Look, it's not the greatest website design in the world. In fact, the design is definitely not Poka-yoke. But the content is interesting and very much related to usability.
posted by lee on 02/10/03 at 11:53 PM
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Tuesday, February 11, 2003

there are aliens. i have proof.

Penn and Teller are wrong. There are aliens, and I have proof. I wasn't looking for aliens, just looking at the snow this evening. Here's one view from the porch:


But things seemed uneasy. Odd occurrences that I could actually capture with my camera:


I could sense the presence of something strange, something otherwordly. So could Ginger, who frantically started trying to get to the bottom of it:


There was an eerie light in the distance--one I could not explain. It was coming from the north:


Then, from behind the wisteria, I heard this unearthly sound, and saw this:


Oh, sure, a cat you say. Yeah, it LOOKS like a cat, but look closer:


There you have it. Proof that an alien is among us. Most of the time it appears to be Stanley's typical tabby Twitch [from the depths of hell]. But when it thinks no one is looking, its mask drops and its true being shines forth from the eyes. Proof. Like I said.
posted by lee on 02/11/03 at 05:31 AM
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Thursday, February 13, 2003

why do i watch west wing when it just depresses me?

Hardware stores are busy selling supplies to cautious residents, according to WTNH (New Haven, CT).

Kind of like silly people rushing out to fill their vehicle gas tank just before a blizzard hits: where the hell are they gonna go on that full tank of gas during a blizzard?

In order to protect themselves from the next terrorist attack, the sheep are buying duct tape and rolls of plastic by the truckload. So rooms can be sealed off. Yeah, right. The only way to effectively seal ourselves off from any outside air in our sieve of a house (it's two hundred years old) would be to wrap the plastic around our heads and secure it with duct tape. I suspect the same is true for most houses and I know it's true for the McMansions around here.

Stanley thinks creating a panic and sending people out to buy lots of useless stuff in case of emergency (Our tv station recommended a portable television. For real. They said get that portable tv and just stick it in that big plastic box in case you're attacked by a terrorist.) is Bush's plan for jumpstarting the economy. Don't forget that Tupperware tub, you know, the one on wheels! And be sure to buy up all the bottled water you can in case the terrorists contaminate our water supply--like if they did you would even be able to buy enough water to last until they could clean it up. Meanwhile, they're still running the Indian Point nuclear power plant with no disaster plan in place. Stanley says he's waiting for the stories of terror-panic profiteering.

West Wing was interesting, but I've got to stop watching it because I get so depressed because it so highlights the difference between what our government ought to be like and what it actually is like. Idealism, democracy, integrity, and honor on the tv version. Greed, authoritarianism, duplicity, and immorality in the real White House.
posted by lee on 02/13/03 at 05:05 AM
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Friday, February 14, 2003

If war is inevitable, Start drafting SUV drivers now

GlaserRed-PrintIt.gifThe World Says No to War: Anti-War Rally this Saturday at Noon!
February 15th, New York City, Assemble at noon:
First Avenue stretching north from 49th Street

This graphic is by Milton Glaser, a NYC-based graphic designer. You can get this and other posters for peace at Another Poster for Peace.

A color-coded alert system instruction guide is presented at Working for Change (Mark Fiore's latest).

I wonder what the counts are going to be for the Saturday rally in NYC? Whatever gets reported on Fox "News," multiply by ten or 15, and that will be the accurate count.
posted by lee on 02/14/03 at 04:44 AM
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