Saheli*: Musings and Observations
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Be Careful With Those Headlines, Please

I've got a lot on my mind these days, yet I'm still concerned about the news, and say, the madness in NYC, and the protests of said madness, and the great potential for danger or attack. If nothing else, I've got friends in New York reporting on this stuff. So I was a little stressed out and confused when I saw the first none-RNC headline on CNN today:

A screen capture from Today's CNN display with the date and what displays in the status bar when you mouse over the circled link. Would it have been so hard to replace "station" with "Moscow"? Posted by Hello
Monday, August 30, 2004
The Efficacy of Protest, Part I

This Press Release from the University of Washington breathlessly touts a "conclusive" answer to a common controversy: "Protests more help in passing environmental laws than working on 'inside'." ScienceBlog posts the PR without generating any comments, but I am dubious at best. The study being promoted is a presention made a couple weeks ago by University of Washington doctoral student Jon Agnone, in San Francisco at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Assocation. From the Press Release:

"''Contrary to conventional wisdom, working from the inside has not had much of an impact and, in general, public opinion doesn't matter,'' [Agnone] said. ''Most people say they are for the environment and lawmakers say, 'Yeah, yeah,' but they don't do anything unless people start protesting. Protests amplify public opinion by directing politicians' attention to the public's interest.'' . . . The actual impact of individual protest acts on whether legislation passes is relatively small, with each protest event that occurs in a given year increasing the number of pro-environmental bills passed by about 2.2 percent, Agnone said. That means in a year in which 20 protests occurred, about 44 percent more pro-environmental bills would be approved, he said. ."

I would really like to get a better handle on Agnone's statistics, because being able to quantify a correlation between protest events and bill passage seems highly unlikely to me. If you're only looking at a dated list of protests and a dated lists of bills passed, you are treating all protest events equally and the weight of passing all bills equally. Are we talking about benign resolutions to praise the condor or hardhitting and complex legislation to decrease mercury output from coal burning plants?

Moreover, there is nothing in this press release about how Agnone quantifies the efforts of those "working on the inside" and correlates those efforts with bill passage. That makes any comparison of the two effects weak and unconvincing, exactly unlike this declarative headline. There are a lot of people who would like to believe that protests get a lot done, but that doesn't necessarily make it so. The fact that Agnone's homepage opens up with an emotional quote from Howard Zinn* doesn't exactly fill me with confidence in the objectivity of his analysis. However, it may be that the UW Press Office was overstating the sweeping magnitude of the Ph.D. student's conclusions--unfortunately, I can't yet find the actual conference preceedings online.

This press release is interesting in light of a somewhat toungue-in-cheek post by Matthew Yglesias yesterday, and the resulting back and forth of comments:

"If there's anything I hate more than the Farm Bill, it's protestors. Absolutely hate 'em. If people put all the time, energy, intelligence and ingenuity that they currently spend doing these things into boring jobs in Washington that involved ties and desks and offices then progressive politics would be about five times as effective as it is" said Matt. Most of the responders are angry, "you-don't-know-what-you're-talking-about" types, and they make good points. Our Republic was founded in protest, and it's right there in the First Amendment after the freedom of the press. Not everyone can get those inside jobs. Creative protest is one of the great assets of the Left. Etc. Etc.

On the other hand, we must admit that despite huge protests, Iraq was still invaded. When I graduated from Berkeley, I was more conservative than when I had started, and the local protest culture was big part of the reason why. My mother always reminds me that when one has limited time and energy (as we all do) one has to direct that time and energy in the most effective way, and think hard about efficacy. I know that this common sense is sometimes strangely hard to follow, but we should at least try instead of hiding behind platitudes. Careful sociological and economic scholars can be helpful guides in making intelligent, informed decisions about political activism--but they have to be sincere in wanting to find the best answer, and they have to use good math.

*Don't get me wrong, A People's History of the United States was one of my high school history books, and Zinn is a great writer and provider of information. But the whole idea of the title is that some people are more qualifed to be called "the people" than others--and those others are strongly correlated with persons "working on the inside."
Friday, August 27, 2004
Rivetting Robberies

In one of my family houses, in Calcutta, the dining room window overlooks a driveway and over to the neighbor house's side--an elegant three or four story structure, as are most of the homes on the street, with a side door on the second or third floor. On the morning after we arrived in Calcutta, a visit that came after a very long gap, my mother wandered over to the window and gazed out at one of her childhood views. Her brother walked up behind her.

"Something seem a little a different?"

Yes, something did seem a little different, but she couldn't quite put her finger on it. He informed her something was missing, and soon she realized what. She called us, and asked to us to guess what had been stolen from the neighbor's house. We were jetlagged and mystified. Finally she told us.

The house was not designed so that the door on the second or third floor opened out onto thin air. It normally had an antique and ornate wrought-iron spiral staircase leading down to the ground from the extra entrance. Some enterprising thieves had carefully disconnected the entire stair case, piece by piece, and carried it away. Luckily, I think Calcutta is having better times now.

With this in mind, I was vastly amused that such clever cunning is held in common between Bengalis and Bosnians---though the Bosnians got caught. You can't blame them though, they were thinking on a grander scale--why just a stair case? They tried to steal a whole bridge. (Reuters). From the AP article:

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina -- In what could qualify for Ripley's Believe It or Not, seven thieves stole an entire 13-yard bridge near the southern Bosnian town of Mostar, police said Friday.

Over several days, the group dismantled the metal bridge built during the Austro-Hungarian empire 150 years ago, transported the parts to a local junk yard and sold them, a police statement said.

I have been reading, off and on for a while now, the great novel The Bridge on The River Drina, by Nobel Laureate Ivo Andric. It is perhaps the most famous novel written about Bosnia, telling the story of a famous stone bridge built by the Ottoman Turks, and through it, the story of Bosnia. Perhaps these gypsies merely had literary aspirations.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004
Of Cleaver Writers and Valid Victorians

This is a very belated blog entry, but for some timeless laughs, check out my friend David Goldweber's recent article in the East Bay Express. Well, it's his article, but he didn't exactly write it. An English professor for several years, Dave has been compiling his students' "gaffes and foibles", and he presents them in several cunning categories. Some of my favorites:

"I plan to recruit a Tudor to help me with my writing."

"Richard Wright's hatred towards his father is unbelievable and unexplainable but understandable."

"Richard Wright was the valid Victorian of his class."

"Saddam Hussein is a treat to our nation."

"The old ladies were staring into space like robots on a secret mission."


"As FDR said, we have nothing to fear but ourselves."


Monday, August 23, 2004
Karl Rove Has Outdone Himself

Thanks to Michael at Helio7 for pointing out what seems to me to be yet another amazing first set by our fearless leader: exploiting the Olypmic games for political purposes. Lawrence Donegan writes from Athens in The Guardian:
The advert, which has been broadcast in the US for the past week, begins with footage from the 1972 Olympic games in Munich, during which 13 Israeli athletes were killed by terrorists, and continues with a narrator saying: "Freedom is spreading through the world like a sunrise. And this Olympics there will be two more free nations and two less terrorist regimes." As the flags of Afghanistan and Iraq flutter in the breeze, it concludes: "With strength, resolve and courage, democracy will triumph over terror and hope will defeat hatred."

The Iraqi Athletes are irate:

The team's coach, Adnan Hamd, told Sports Illustrated magazine: "My problem is not with the American people. They are with what America has done; destroyed everything. The American army has killed so many people in Iraq. What is freedom when I go to the stadium and there are shootings on the road?"

The best part of the article is the glimpse we get of the team's Bush-Administration supplied media handlers:

To the embarrassment of their media handlers in Athens, members of the Iraqi football team have reacted furiously to the news that their efforts are being used to aid Mr Bush's efforts to win a second term in the White House.
Mark Clark, the spokesman for the Iraqi Olympic squad in Athens, accused journalists of taking advantage of the players. "They are not very sophisticated politically. Whoever posed these questions knew the answers would be negative. It is possible something was lost in translation. The players are entitled to their opinions but we are disappointed," he said.

Now, the summer Olympics always coincide with the rising momentum of the American presidential campaign. I don't recall George Bush I airing any ads about athletes from the newly freed nations of the Eastern Bloc or Panama during the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, nor Bill Clinton's commercials including footage of Bosnians participating in the 1996 Atlanta games. Please correct me if you definitively know of such ads; otherwise I think we can all assume that the Bush-Cheney campaign has managed to set another record low.
Sunday, August 22, 2004
Stolen Scream

Wow. One of the four versions of Edward Munch's The Scream, a priceless painting further immortalized by countless blow-up dolls, was stolen in an armed heist from the Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway, by two or three masqued thieves, according to this Associated Press article by Kristian Kahrs.
The two or three thieves, wearing black masks, threatened an employee
of the Munch Museum with a handgun before grabbing the paintings, easily
snapping the wires that attached them to the wall, witnesses and the police told
The Associated Press and local media.

``What's strange is that in this museum, there weren't any means of
protection for the paintings, no alarm bell,'' a French radio producer, Francois
Castang, who saw the theft told France Inter radio.
``The paintings were
simply attached by wire to the walls,'' he said. ``All you had to do is pull on
the painting hard for the cord to break loose - which is what I saw one of the
thieves doing.''
A photo taken by a witness outside the museum appears to
show three black-clad robbers, two of whom are walking to a small, black getaway
car with the paintings in hand. The third robber appears to be opening the
trunk. The witness who took the photo did not want to be identified.

For some reason I find the image of a modern day armed art robbery intriguing. It just seems so. . .so. . .20th century. In this day and age, who sits around plotting to rob a museum? Do they rub their hands with glee when they are done conspiring? The police seem to think that the robbers are planning a ransom, because selling the painting would be so difficult. What an inefficiently risky way of making money!

Of course, one of my favorite movies is How to Steal A Million, starring Audrey Hepburn and Peter O'Toole, so the concept of a secretive purchaser willing to pay an astronomical price for a piece of art he or she must then never let be seen is not unknown to me. But the idea of a furtive buyer planning on hanging the painting in a cave seems just as charmingly old fashioned as conniving rapscallions scheming to exchange stolen goods for unmarked cash.

Such monetary skullduggery seems oddly appropriate for a painting whose image has been thrust into goofily decorated dens and offices everywhere, fetching Robert Fishbone and Sarah Linquist, creators of The Scream Inflatable Doll, their own pile of loot. In this looksmart-archived article for Success by Ingrid Abramovitch, Fishbone embodies the entrepreneurial spirit for dreamers and schemers everywhere:

"I remember the conversation when I had to convince my wife to invest our
entire life savings in this idea. I told her, 'We can only make money if we
spend money.' After all, we were paying our rent with our murals, but we had hit
an earnings plateau,and we wanted to have a family."

It's odd that such a dark and mysterious painting should inspire so much optimistic plotting. In one of their websites devoted to the famous painting, the museum excerpts a diary entry, dated January 22, 1892, by Edvard Munch, about the experience which inspired his masterwork:
"I was walking along the road with two friends. The sun was setting. I felt
a breath of melancholy - Suddenly the sky turned blood-red. I stopped, and
leaned against the railing, deathly tired - looking out across the flaming
clouds that hung like blood and a sword over the blue-black fjord and town. My
friends walked on - I stood there, trembling with fear. And I sensed a great,
infinite scream pass through nature."

Perhaps it is a reflection of the inadaquecies of this world that even the most heartfelt attempt to acknowledge its awesome terrors cannot remain unsullied by humanity's quest for lucre.
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
T-Shirt Experiment: Kerry vs. Bush

From the blog mediocrelawstudent, an interesting follow up to the story about the Cheney New Mexico rally requiring attendees to sign loyalty oaths which I blogged back in July: One James Prather went to a Bush speech in the morning wearing a Kerry/Edwards t-shirt, and then went to a Kerry speech in the afternoon wearing a Bush t-shirt. You probably won't be surprised by what happened:

As I approached the security area, one low-level security person asked me to turn my shirt inside out. As I said, I was only there to hear the President, and so I complied. When I got to the main security area, however, the same man came up to me again, told me he had checked with his superiors, and that I would not be allowed into the event with the Kerry/Edwards T-shirt. I had been a little afraid of this eventuality and had brought another non-political T-shirt just in case. So I agreed to change shirts. The man took my other T-shirt and put it where I could find it after the speech.

Thinking that was the end of that, we went inside and tried to find a place in the crowd where I could see the President. I had no intention of heckling the President or causing trouble of any sort. I just stood with the rest of the crowd waiting for the speech. After a few minutes (maybe 10-15), the first security person came up to me again, this time with a second burlier gentleman. I was asked to stand with the second man in an area somewhat away from the main crowd, and again I complied. A couple of minutes later a third man who told me he was with the President's advance team (or something like that) came up and escorted me out of the event. Still not wanting to cause trouble, I went out as I was asked, and waited for my friend who was allowed to stay. Incidentally, while outside, I did get to do what I came for. I got to see the President briefly waving from his motorcade on the way into the event.

Now being the curious sort, I obtained a Bush shirt to see what would happen at the Kerry rally in Wheeling. Still not wanting to be perceived as a Bush supporter, I waited and put the Bush shirt on about 10-15 minutes before we reached the security checkpoint. This time no one said anything to me, and I was allowed to enter with no questions asked. After entering, I put on my Kerry T-shirt, and listened to the speakers as I had planned.
That's what happens when you live in a state of insecurity.
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
Working on Sunshine

An oil well as a syringe is the arresting cover image for Nicholas Varchaver's 5188 word article in the current Fortune Magazine: "How to Kick the Oil Habit." America's massive energy consumption unites worries about foreign, economic and environmental policy, perhaps making it the problem of the 21st century. As I noted back in July, the inevitable conclusion of the yearly British Petroleum Statistical Review of World Energy is that the planet will run out of oil around the end of the century. But even if we foolishly refuse to take such a long view, we only need look at the battlefields of Iraq, the asthma wards of Harlem and the price-signs at our local gas stations to know this is a problem we need to deal with.

Varchaver's Fortune article touts a four-step plan to reduce our usage of foreign oil. But it really boils down to a three pronged strategy:
1) Be more efficient (in Verchaver's article, step 1 is improving the fuel efficiency of cars and step 2 is improving the energy efficiency of buildings)
2) Develop "alternative fuels" like hydrogen fuel cells and cellulosic ethanol.
3) Pursue clean, renewable energy like solar and wind power.

Energy efficiency and lowering demand is a huge first step. If we decrease our total demand for energy, we won't have to look so hard for alternatives to Middle Eastern Oil. The Federal Government can get rid of the tax credit for SUVs, states can regulate them, and businesses and individuals can stop buying them and driving them everywhere. Similar strategies exist for buildings and appliances, and all levels of society can pitch in. Varchaver writes, "Take refrigerators. Federal standards for their electricity use have had a dramatic impact. . . Nobody is sacrificing here: Refrigerators today are bigger, cheaper and better. And experts contend that we can get another 30% improvement in refrigerator efficiency. The government should keep tightening standards for appliances and other equipment rather than fighting them in court, as the Bush administration did in an attempt to block improved air-conditioner standards. (It lost)."

Varchaver touts hydrogen fuel cells and biofuels like cellulosic ethanol. He devotes a single line to the concern that makes most scientists groan when they hear the Administration touting hydrogen fuel cells: "The challenge--and part of what we need to spend money on--is developing the means to produce hydrogen from electriciy that is generated by, say, wind or the sun instead of fossil fuels." Hydrogen-powered cars might make freeway air easier to breathe, but in the current system, building hydrogen-powered cars is only playing a shell game with the pollution--and the oil consumption. Instead of happening in your car, the combustion happens at the power plant that provides the electriciy necessary to create hydrogen fuel cells. They're really just very clean and nifty batteries. However, if more cars were hydrogen-powered, consumers would have the option of getting fuel-cells made with renewable energy as soon as that renewable energy becomes available. This is a very important point that Varchaver doesn't make. Right now my car has to burn oil and create smoke because that is how it is built; in order for me to stop my gas consumption I have to buy a whole new car. If my next car is hydrogen powered, it will still burn oil and create smoke somewhere--but when solar energy electricity becomes more common, it will be much easier for me to switch to clean energy without having to buy a whole new car.

Developing that cheap solar electricity is key. People love pointing out that solar energy doesn't work if the sun isn't shining, but they forget about batteries and fuel cells. According to this appendix to this pdf of the DOE's FY 2004 budgetary requests, the Bush Administration only wants to spend $80 Million on Solar energy research this year.. To put this number into perpsective, consider just one aspect of our expenditure on Middle Eastern Oil. Quoting Varchaver, "Even during peacetime U.S. aircraft carriers and destroyers patrol the PErsian Gulf--at a cost of $50 billion a year, not counting the Iraq war, according to the conservative-laning National Defense Council Foundation. Add in the economic effects of oil shocks, the group found last year, and a gallon of gas actually costs more than $5." There is no reason for our commitment to solar energy research to be so low. It makes no fiscal sense, and it declares that we, as a society, have more faith in foreign monarchies than we do in American innovation and technology.
Wednesday, August 11, 2004
Energy Efficient Windows

I really love my house and the climate in this part of the world--it never gets too cold in El Cerrito (especially after I've lived in NYC), and with the fog from the Bay acting as air conditioning, it rarely gets too hot. But the days it does get very hot can be unbearable because the house is not optimized to deal with the heat at all--when it's only 80 odd degrees Farenheit outside, inside it can soar to 90+ because of the large windows (normally wonderful, as they're built to take advantage of the view) sucking heat in like an oven. So I was very impressed with this New Scientist article about smart windows--University College of London scientists Ivan Parkin and Troy Manning say they have developed a vanadium oxide coating for glass that "turns on" its heat-repellant properties at around 84 degrees Farenheit--allowing infrared in to heat a cold room but blocking out heat once the room has already gotten toasty. I was amused by Mr. Manning's caption for an electron micrograph of this coating:"During growth of the film the columnar structure has produced extended areas that resemble a cowboy peering over a rock outcropping." He leaves unsaid the glories of the glowing cacti said cowboy is peering at.

If this kind of technology can be brought to the market, it will help save air conditioning bills without increasing heating bills or minimizing decorative appeal. Even better news for my friends in New York--as the Ryan Brothers point out in Apartment Therapy, "Blinds and shades are as necessary as good sunglasses. Despite every New Yorker's desire to have big windows and lots of sunlight, curtains and/or shades are so important not only for style, but also for tempering the energy from the outside world as it flows into your home." Until the fancy new technology goes up for sale, check out their tips on windowware.
Thursday, August 05, 2004
A Little Worldly Fun

Navel Maniac takes pictures of people's belly buttons, mostly in Belgium. Writes the daring digital photographer:

I always liked to take pictures of nice landscape, odd situations or funny people. Getting used to take pictures without looking thru an objective helps you to get very nice images. However, for these belly pictures, I had to ask...and here in Brussels, almost one out of two accepts! Imagine a perfect stranger asking you or your friend to take a picture of his, or mostly her belly?

The navels often sport decorations, and are generally located on shapely midriffs. I don't know what it is about belly buttons, some how they almost always make one smile. They're like cheerfulness reset buttons.

Those less interested in omphaloskepsis and more interested in olafactory sensation can order some scratch and sniff New Zealander Stamps:

The Garden Flowers miniature sheet is a floral display in more ways than one - as well as presenting all five stamps in their pictorial splendour, the 45c magnolia is fragrantly perfumed! This is New Zealand Post's first-ever 'scratch and smell' stamp - a collector's item and a pleasant sensory experience in one beautiful package.

I'm waiting for the Kiwi version. Link from Michael at Motoloco.
Wednesday, August 04, 2004
Of Safe Roads

If you live in California and feel that your litte road is being made less safe and getting torn up by gas-guzzling SUVs, find out if your local government has already (sensibly) banned heavy vehicles on residential streets. I see no reason SUVs should get special treatment just because they're "wildly popular". From a Slate article by Andy Bowers:

Still, some proponents of heavy SUVs will argue that these weight limits are outdated or that they should apply only to registered commercial vehicles. Nonsense. Six-thousand pounds does the same damage to roads (not to mention pedestrians) that it did before the SUV craze. I don't know about your state, but California's ongoing budget crisis doesn't exactly leave cash to burn for road repair. (California's Legislative Analyst's Office estimates the average L.A. driver pays $700 a year in vehicle repairs because of crummy roads.) Yet despite the increased road wear their vehicles cause, heavy SUV owners can take tax breaks that mean they pony up much less to the tax system that funds street maintenance.And frankly, a lot of these heavy SUVs are commercial vehicles by any fair definition. Remember that those owners who take the federal and state tax breaks are declaring they use their vehicles mostly or entirely for work. Often they're doctors, real estate agents, or small business owners. If California and the feds are willing to write off SUVs as work vehicles, why shouldn't the state also regulate them as work vehicles?

I highly recommend reading the whole article, and spreading the news.
Of Oceans

The good people of Texas might wonder, as they cope with an increase in shark bites, why exactly nothing is being done to stop the dumping of fertilizers into the Gulf of Mexico--creating an oxygen-lacking dead zone every summer which possibly forces sharks closer to the coast. See the Reuter's article on CNN:

The nitrates, carried into the gulf's warm summer waters by the river, feed algae blooms that use up oxygen and make the water uninhabitable.The dead zone's size has varied each year depending on weather conditions, but averages about 5,000 square miles and remains in place until late September or early October.Virtually nothing is being done to stop the flow of nitrates into the river, meaning the dead zone will reappear every year, Rabalais said.
The dead zone forces fish to seek better water, which may be a reason for the recent shark bites on Texas beaches.Three people have been bitten by sharks along the upper Texas coast this year -- a high number for a state that has recorded only 18 shark attacks since 1980.

Can you do anything about it? Yes. If you can possibly afford to, try buying organic produce and products that use organic grains.
Of Trees

Scott sent me this opinion piece by Bill Clinton from the LATimes. President Bush is trying to get rid of Clinton's Roadless Forest Rule, which limited logging in areas of National Forest that do not currently have roads. The current president wishes to put the burden on governors to petition to save these forests, otherwise opening them up to logging. Writes Clinton:

Opponents of the roadless rule also argue that it increases the risk of forest fires. That is wrong because the rule specifically gives the U.S. Forest Service the power to build a road, fight a fire or thin an area to reduce fire risk. And we also know from experience that the way to minimize hazards is by devoting federal resources to reducing risks near homes and communities, not by logging backcountry lands. The roadless rule struck a balance between the environment and the economy. The forest road network is already eight times as big as the interstate highway system. And our rule allows logging and other commercial activity to continue on more than half of national forest lands. In fact, the timber supply that was placed off-limits to the timber industry amounts to one-quarter of 1% of what our nation now produces.

Through Sept. 16, the Forest Service will accept public comment on the Bush plan. I encourage everyone to make his or her voice heard to ensure that America the Beautiful remains just as beautiful for generations to come.

I did quite a bit of backpacking in high school in some of California's magnificent national forests, and I would hate for my children not to be able to see those gorgeous trees. I'm going to have to do some more research on the ins and outs of this rule but in the mean time, you can submit comments at the US Forest Service's site on the rule. (Note, of course, that the U.S. Forest Service is part of the executive branch of the federal government, and like all such, is part of the Bush Administration. Yet another example of why Presidential elections matter.)
Tuesday, August 03, 2004
Gimme Cookie

While all those landing on this blog while searching for bits of GQ's spoof on Bush's lost years might not be interested in something this wholesome, I have a yen to visit to John Kerry's former cookie shop. Named Kilvert&Forbes, after the maiden names of his and his partner's mothers, the shop still features his chocolate chunk recipe. Fortune Magazine's Grainger David writes:

The shop is still in business today, in Boston's Faneuil Hall. In fact, sales are up 18% since the Iowa primary, and the new owners, Carol Troxell and Sara Youngelson, have applied for the title of Official Cookie of the Democratic National Convention. (Should they get the nod, they plan to commandeer the pretzel shop next door to help.) Little else has changed since 1976: Kerry's mom's chocolate-chip recipe still accounts for more than half of all sales. Staunch Kerry supporters, the new owners are quick to defend the candidate's résumé: "You have to manage and do the banking, and it's a lot of work," Troxell says. "After being in the cookie business you can definitely call yourself a small-business expert."

In tracing the candidate's Bostonion roots, The New York Time's Pam Belluck quotes Kerry on the shop:

"I will never be able to explain fully how I ended up in the cookie business," Mr. Kerry said. "I was a lawyer with time on my hands — and a serious sweet tooth."

To me this sounds like ample reason for a future presidential visit to the set of Sesame Street for some reading with Cookie Monster.
Monday, August 02, 2004
Go Bears!

A nice black and white photo at of Golden Bear and soon-to-be Olympian, Natalie Couglin, in her record breaking backstroke.
Preparing for Emergency, the Parody

Neil Gaiman points us to an amusing parody website of a real UK government website on preparing for emergencies, with lovely bits like:

"Reduce fire hazards in your home. Children are the worst fire hazards; consider giving them up for adoption. "


"Preparing for an emergency - What you can do

Look, it's an emergency. How are you supposed to prepare for it? It's in the bloody dictionary. " A serious situation or occurrence that happens unexpectedly and demands immediate action." If you expect it, it's not an emergency, is it? Honestly."

While I certainly don't advocate this attitude, it's a fun website, especially when you see the government's protests. Interesting, the real version has been translated into Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish (how many people in the U.K. only read one of those languages?) but still has to be translated into Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, English, Farsi, French, Greek, Gujarati, Hindi, Kurdish, Punjabi, Somali, Turkish, Urdu, & Vietnamese. Those British Isles, they are a'changin'.

Also note the parody link to Cymraeg; only last night I had a dream wherein I was explaining to some mysterious fellow that while the Scottish Thistle Unicorn, the English Rose and Lion, and even the Irish Harp of Tara made it onto the British Royal Coats of Arms, the humble Welsh Leek never did. Perhaps some things never change.
Sunday, August 01, 2004

Sunburst over North Bay, #3. Photo: Saheli Datta Posted by Hello

Sunburst over the North Bay, #2. Photo: Saheli Datta Posted by Hello

Sunburst over the North Bay, #1. Photo:Saheli Datta Posted by Hello
Saheli Datta started this when she was a journalism student at Columbia in New York. Now she lives in the Bay Area. *Old people call me R. New people, call me Saheli. Thanks! My homepage. Specifically, my links. Email me: Saheli [AT] Gmail [dot] Com


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Dark Days Ahead
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Geeky Chic 2.0 (Echan)
Green Ink!
Alexandra Huddleston
Iddybud (Jude Nagurney Camwell)
India Uncut
Intel Dump: Phillip Carter et al
The Intersection (Chris Mooney)
Jesus Politics
John and Belle Have a Blog
Mark A. R. Kleiman
KnowProse (Taran Rampersad)
Maenad (Nori Heikkinen)
Scott McCloud
Mind Without Borders
Electrolite: Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden
Corey Pein
Political Animal(Kevin Drum, formerly Calpundit)
Kevin G. Powell
QuakeHelp (South Asian Quake)
Radiation Persuasion (Nick)
Scott Rosenberg(
Rox Populi
Nick Schager
Idea Spout: Daniel Sanchez
Sepia Mutiny
Amardeep Singh
Snarkmarket (Robin Sloan & Matt Thompson)
South-East Asian Earthquake and Tsunami Blog
SreeTips: New To Sree
Steprous (Bear)
Robert Stribley
Talking Points Memo: Joshua Micah Marshall
Tech Policy
A Tiny Revolution
To The Teeth
Manish Vij
Vinod's Blog
War and Piece
Nollind Whachell
Matthew Yglesias:Old
Zoo Station:Reuben Abraham
Ethan Zuckerman

Some Categories

Blogs focusing on policy, politics, and national security:
Armchair Generalist
Back To Iraq 3.0 (Chris Albritton)
The Decembrist
Brad DeLong
Daniel Drezner
Green Ink!
Iddybud (Jude Nagurney Camwell)
Idea Spout: Daniel Sanchez
Informed Comment: Juan Cole
Intel Dump: Phillip Carter
The Intersection (Chris Mooney)
Irregular Analyses
Jesus Politics
Mark A. R. Kleiman
Liberals Against Terrorism(Nadezhda & Praktike)
Political Animal(Kevin Drum, formerly Calpundit)
Talking Points Memo: Joshua Micah Marshall
War and Piece

Photo Blogs
Daily Dose of Imagery
Alexandra Huddleston
Radiation Persuasion (Nick)

Columbia Journalism Folks
Apartment Therapy
Back To Iraq 3.0 (Chris Albritton)
Campaign Desk (CJR)
Ranajit Dam
Cyrus Farivar
Alexandra Huddleston
Corey Pein
Nick Schager
Zoo Station:Reuben Abraham

Literature, Fiction and Entertainment
Dave Barry
Neil Gaiman
Electrolite: Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Scott McCloud

A Note on Comments
Haloscan is not very good at counting comments. If a comment thread is more than three months old, and you think there might be comments, please click the comments link even if it indicates zero comments. It won't display the true count properly. Thanks!

A note on permalinks
I find that a lot of people don't know about permalinks. When you want to have someone read a specific blog entry, then you should find that blog entry's permalink, click on that, and send them the resulting browser address. Otherwise they will just be sent to the blog in general, and between your reading the blog entry and your correspondent's or audience's getting to it, a whole slew of material may have pushed the entry off the front page. In this blog, the permalinks are the timestamp at the end of the entry. (Feel free to frequently send your friends and family permalinks from my blog!)

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