Parking is another matter, as the new fixtures for locking bikes disappear under the snow in the zone between sidewalk and street.
Here's the perfect stocking stuffer for the active woman. It's the GoGirl female urinary device. We just gave one to friend heading off for a bike tour through India, but it's also for more mundane locales, including ice fishing, walks in the woods or music festival port-a-johns.
I ran across this news report about a UC Davis study that looked at health complications related to consumption of high fructose corn syrup. If you relied on the London Times article, you'd think:
Scientists have proved for the first time that a cheap form of sugar used in thousands of food products and soft drinks can damage human metabolism and is fuelling the obesity crisis.
Beware of statements that limited studies have "proved" anything. Beware also of stories that don't link to the actual research. And beware especially of unfamiliar news sources, especially those owned by Rupert Murdoch.
So I tried to locate the study, and guess what? The news story is riddled with all kinds of errors and misstatements. Bottom line, the biggest problem is we Americans consume too much sugar.
[anti-hat tip to change.org for almost suckering me on this one]
This morning, I noted a missing element in the Strib story about the ordered closing of Riverview Community Bank, the Christian bank. God was not a party to the agreement, but former Minnesota Secretary of State and current state Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer was.
Stories focused on the bank's co-founder but gave Kiffmeyer a pass.
At the time, co-founder Chuck Ripka said God told him to get the bank going, Ripka told the Pioneer Press in a 2004 story.
"He said, 'Chuck, if you do all the things I told you to do, I promise you I will take care of the bottom line.'"
The Pioneer Press, City Pages and other media also recapped some of the bank's history, but not the Kiffmeyer link. She's not just a passive player in this. As President and Director of the holding company that owns Riverview, she signed the agreement [PDF] with the Federal Reserve that the bank's owners will comply with the provisions of the closure deal.
I wasn't the only one to notice the omission, but according to Minnesota Progressive Project, there's more.
When the Star and Tribune ran the story on its website Friday night they mentioned that Kiffmeyer was an owner of the bank. An Hour later they had scrubbed that version and Kiffmeyer's name was removed from the story.
Is Kiffmeyer's ownership and ongoing role part of the story or not?
Two NWA pilots ignored radio transmissions for more than an hour, overshot their airport by 150 miles, and the first officer on the flight says, "I can assure you none of us was asleep,"
"Honey, it's not what you think," says the husband pulling on his pants while the sister-in-law pulls the covers over her head.
Okay, maybe it's true Albert Einstein, Mozart and Shakespeare didn't watch "educational videos" when they were kids. But now they're saying "Baby Einstein" videos didn't turn kids into geniuses? How can that be, when rap CDs have turned so many white boys into gangstas?
Oh, they have?
Gov. Pawlenty has again seized the reins of state government, ordering the sex offender program his administration runs to transfer new flat screen TVs to veteran's homes. (They can still enjoy suggestive televised imagery in the privacy of their rooms.)
The costs of a few TVs pales in comparison to the cost growth from Pawlenty's campaign to lock up more sex offenders, and to keep them locked up after they have served their sentences. For example, more than a third of the emergency funding in the governor's 2006 supplemental budget recommendations went "to fund sex offender commitment growth." And it continues, as we continue to hold people because of their potential to commit crimes.
Meanwhile, Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat wants to know why homeless and chronic drinkers are getting free $60 Vikings tickets. To a Twins fan, $60 tickets sound steep, but a quick look at the Mall of America (!) Stadium map shows that they'll put you in the end zone upper deck.
Putting chronic drinkers in seats next to binge drinkers may work as aversion therapy, as long as the tickets are for early season games. I'd advise against playoff tickets, however. The chances of relapse on the field might trigger similar behavior in the seats.
"Another possibility for decreasing such behavior [justifying and rationalizing questionable preferences] is to make people accountable for their decisions, requiring them to explain the reasons underlying their choices (Lerner & Tetlock, 1999). Given people’s demonstrated desire to seek out acceptable justifications for questionable preferences, however, accountability pressures may simply motivate people to look even harder for justifications, rather than stop them from behaving poorly. In fact, in some situations accountability can enhance bias, as with its amplifying effect on commitment to decisions (Simonson & Staw, 1992). Indeed, when Norton et al. (2004) made participants accountable for their decisions in choosing between a Black and White high school student for admission to college, not only did requiring participants to explain themselves fail to decrease preferences based on racial bias, it made them look even more carefully through the resumes to find additional evidence in favor of their questionable decisions. "
The ACORN-busting pimp James O'Keefe was shivering without his fur coat, and his faux-hooker sidekick looked like she needed a hug. The pair were in Minnesota to shoot the pilot episode of a new reality show, only this time, they're staying behind the camera — as producers.
"Our undercover days are over," he said, explaining the couple's career change. "We're just too famous now. We needed a way to extend the brand, and I thought, why not go after government itself, using the very people getting screwed?"
The new show, tentatively titled "City Hall," is an attempt to attract the national talk radio audience to television with exposes that strike closer to home. If the concept of doing undercover busts of local government bureaucracies sounds a bit like Candid-Camera-meets-Public-Access-Channel, O'Keefe assures us there's plenty of slime and stink in every small town — especially those run by tax-and-spend liberals.
O'Keefe explained, "Let's face it. To have an ACORN office in town, you need a lot of paroled criminals and poor black people. But everybody has a city hall with incompetent bureaucrats."
And why choose Minnesota for the pilot?
"Minnesota is full of liberals and you're crazed about clean water. That means you have a lot of governments that want to force sweet old couples to make costly fixes to their sewer and septic systems. I mean, you guys are king of the sewer nazis."
O'Keefe says all the ingredients of a good reality show are present here: "Pissed off people, government injustice, and lots of free sewer-cam video."
The northern Plains were drying up and blowing away. As successive plagues descended on the Dakotas, residents thought they might be witnessing the end of the world. The New York Times printed a photograph with a caption that could have run in The Onion: “Cattle Invade a State Capitol. A herd driven from the drought area contentedly grazes on the Capitol grounds at Bismarck, N. D.” It provoked a storm of protest — first that the photo was faked, and then that its caption led to a false inference.
If one can imagine the political animosity that would have been generated if, as part of the current stimulus package, President Obama introduced a national documentary photography program, then it is possible to understand the opposition that the F.S.A. faced. Fiscal conservatives did not want to see their hard-earned tax dollars spent on relief, let alone a government photography program, of all things. And in Arthur Rothstein’s photograph of a sun-bleached cow skull, Roosevelt’s opponents had found their proof of government waste, duplicity and fraud.
What makes these accusations of photo-fakery utterly perverse is the claim that they unfairly portrayed a drought. The photographs led the viewer to infer that the Dakotas were experiencing a drought. But the Dakotas were experiencing a drought. One of the worst droughts in American history. Was the real issue that the cow had died of old age rather than drought? Or that the cow skull had been moved less than 10 feet, as Rothstein later claimed? Or had been moved at all? Or that multiple photographs had been taken? Or was it merely an attempt to shift the nature of the debate from the agricultural problems facing the country to an argument about photography and propaganda?
What makes an image not true? When does an art-directed photo move from documentary art to propaganda? How does the viewer's suppositions about the reality portrayed affect the response to a photo?
The Virgin of Guadalupe appears in California orchard stones, turtle shells and burned pancakes because of what a person of faith perceives in some random arrangement of contrasting colors and shapes. Here, the photo is unvarnished representation — any meaning or trickery is all in the mind of the beholder.
The meaning and emotional content of Lange's photo of the Alaska-bound Minnesotan depend greatly on its artful lighting and composition — and also on its context — but not upon any information conveyed intrinsically within the frame.
Today, it seems evident that Lange's heroic images were carefully directed and shot. Surely no impoverished immigrant boarded a Depression-era steamship in such natty duds or paused so pensively before gaze-paralleling rivets. We could place him in GQ unretouched, and he could sell us every article of his clothing: the newsboy cap and the wool shirt with its collar jutting just so out of the stippled leather jacket. Instead of a young man heading for an uncertain future in Alaska, we might see a hunk who helped give Sarah Palin her accent.
The truth is that most images we see are manipulations — maybe not as fraudulent as the footage of the Boy in the Balloon — but altered all the same, with lighting, framing, lenses, wind machines, make up, point of view, safety pins, glycerine, PhotoShop, cropping, captions and editorial selection from perhaps hundreds of variations. Finally, these are submitted for examination through the filters of our own prejudices and desires.
A balloon goes aloft and transfixes a nation because of a made-up story. An unseen drought becomes real to the rest of the country because of a cow skull arranged in a landscape. A hog farm becomes a presidential ranch because a Texas front man puts on a cowboy hat.Holy Virgin of Guadalupe, deliver us!
For the record, I don't condone abetting child slavery, prostitution, exploitation of illegal aliens or tax fraud. Nor am I big fan of spanking fetishes, sex play with lobbyists and then bragging about it at legislative meetings.
But I do think there are some instructive differences between California Assemblyman Mike Duvall's "inappropriate storytelling" and the gotcha video shot by two conservative operatives who make some Baltimore ACORN staffers complicit in their invented prostitution scenario.
Nobody was out to get the family man in full Duvall when he spun out his lewd aside into an open mike. He was an undistinguished legislator who was vice chair of the Assembly Utilities Committee boinking a lobbyist for an energy services company. The news reports pretty well sum up his tawdry business.
ACORN, on the other hand, has been a target for conservative groups who don't like voter registration drives, public support of programs that help poor people or Pres. Obama. In this case, the news stories focus on the senational aspects of the video. There's no question the women on tape were entrapped. It's also easy to say that they used poor judgment in continuing to counsel the pretend prostitute and her ridiculous boyfriend. Staffers at other ACORN offices apparently called the police.
But there's another aspect to this situation that I haven't seen reported. It's about the conflicts that can arise when service providers make a commitment to help people. Whether you are a lawyer, a doctor, social worker, drug counselor, accountant, minister, teacher or housing advocate, you cannot do your job from a judgmental frame of mind. You start from a position of helping the person who comes to you, and you have to put aside your own personal feelings.
Once you start down the path of helping and gaining another's trust, you may hear things you didn't want to hear. There may come a time when you have to decide whether you have become complicit in something you didn't seek out and whether you can continue to ignore it. Some professions have clear standards for dealing with situations that cross legal lines. Those lines may not be so clearly drawn for part-timers in ACORN offices.
In this case, the schemers were deliberately playing out the illicit details of their story. The ACORN women tried to focus on helping them achieve their original stated purpose — to get safe housing for a woman who was being threatened by her former pimp. That required documenting income, filing a tax return and attending a clss about home ownership. Whenever the ACORN staffers focused on those steps, the video team kept bringing the conversation back to their illicit activities until they got what they wanted.
You can also hear the ACORN women advising the young woman to think very carefully about what she was doing, recognizing her naivete about her "business" and her poor grasp of anything related to finance and taxes.
None of this fits very well in the preferred anti-ACORN narrative that it helps hookers and pimps buy houses for underage sex slavery. The salacious will outdraw the subtle every time.
I'm not excusing the fact that some staffers were drawn into the trap and did not — as other ACORN offices did — throw the schemers out.
But I also can't ignore the differences between fake and the real sexual exploitations — and between their desire to help someone else and the behavior of the public man helping himself.
By the end of the nightly news summaries, millions who had never heard of Sonia Sotomayor knew her not only as Obama’s pick, but as a judge who felt superior by reason of her gender and ethnicity, and as a liberal activist determined to “make policy” from the federal bench. And wasn’t it an extraordinary coincidence that all these great news organizations, functioning independently—because this, after all, is the advantage of having multiple news-gathering sources in a democracy—had come up with exactly the same material in advance?
They hadn't, of course. The reporting we saw on TV and on the Internet that day was the work not of journalists, but of political hit men.
With journalists being laid off in droves, savvy political operatives have stepped eagerly into the breach. What’s most troubling is not that TV-news producers mistake their work for journalism, which is bad enough, but that young people drawn to journalism increasingly see no distinction between disinterested reporting and hit-jobbery. The very smart and capable young men (more on them in a moment) who actually dug up and initially posted the Sotomayor clips both originally described themselves to me as part-time, or aspiring, journalists.
– "The Story Behind the Story," The Atlantic
h/t Nick Coleman
Hat-tip to Hal Davis, for sending this job posting by Thomson Reuters seeking a financial crimes correspondent [emphasis Hal's].
The successful candidate will take the lead in writing major aspects of the financial crimes story from Washington. The emphasis will be on building strong sources to break news important to investors about U.S. Justice Department and FBI investigations of white-collar crimes growing out of the financial crisis. You will also help to lead a team of other correspondents in Washington, New York and elsewhere who are covering financial crimes within the companies and with correspondents on political and general news teams. You will also coordinate with correspondents and editors around the world, in particular with financial industry centres such as London, Zurich and Hong Kong, often writing cross-border stories. Some travel will be involved as you chase down leads. The beat will include criminal fraud linked to U.S. mortgage and banking schemes and an expected wave of fraud and corruption cases from the federal government's multitrillion-dollar effort to stimulate the economy and bail out weakened banks.
The over-staged "Beer Summit" has been over-covered, though not very well, so I hesitate to spend another pixel on it here.
But it did represent a quintessential Across the Great Divide moment, and it concerned beer, politics and stupid media tricks — all favorites here.
Let's start with beer marketing.
“Enjoying a beer is a great way to bring people together,” said [the president of Anheuser-Busch, trying not at all to talk like a regular person.] “Anheuser-Busch and its distributors have more than 70,000 U.S. employees who brew, market and distribute our beers, and we are all proud to have Bud Light chosen for the White House meeting. Bud Light is the No. 1 selling beer in the country, the favorite beer of millions of Americans.”
Neil Cavuto of Fox News was just one Fox personality deriding the Beer Summit, bringing on the president of Yuengling, America's oldest brewery, and trying to get him to complain about Obama drinking that "foreign" beer, Budweiser.
Fox & Friends picked up the same thread. Steve Doocy hyped Coors Light as an American beer (Molson Coors is at least half-Canadian, but still pours money to right wing think tanks), while Gretchen Carlson trilled "This would be a good time to promote 'buy American.'" Presumably, that includes Corona, the other tasteless non-U.S. brand on display.
Hannity devoted seven minutes to the topic, blathering about how Sgt. Crowley "risked his life to save [Gates's] property" and "Obama is far more radical than anyone will admit." Even if you know how vile Fox is, it's stunning to follow one topic through its various broadcasts and watch the propaganda laid down.
There was plenty of talk about the semiotics of beer choices, but not much in the way of suggested alternatives that might express a point of view more directly, while promoting America's small brewers. Obama, for example, might've chosen Ale to the Chief, Restoration or even Summit, but probably would pass on Dark Lord. Gates had a lot of options, ranging from Minnesota beers Furious and Not Guilty to Sublimely Self Righteous and The Devil Made Me Do It, depending on what tone he wanted to convey. If Crowley was still looking for an apology, he could've gone for The Unforgiven; a little humor, Blind Pig; mea culpa, Out of Bounds.
Oh, yeah. Biden had few choices. Old Peculiar doesn't make an NA version.
Maybe I'll save the rest for a more serious post.