Archive for February 4th, 2004

Head’s Up


Gisela Hiciano, holds her daughter Rebeca in her arms as her father Franklin
Martinez, caresses her at the CARE clinic in Santo Domingo, Dominican
Republic, Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2004. Rebeca, a Dominican infant born with
a second partially formed head is scheduled to undergo a risky operation
that will take an estimated 13 hours for a team of international doctors
and nurses on Friday.

from the

Are You Watching, Red Sox?


Ever been in the middle of a million-and-a-half people? That’s how may
turned out for the New England Patriot Victory Celebration in City Hall
Plaza in Boston.  The
Dowbrigade advised his students to go downtown and check it out, but
when quizzed this morning nary a one had taken him up on it. What scaredy
pants! We gave them all a pop quiz on the US Government as punishment.
A once in a lifetime chance missed!

coverage from the
Boston Globe

Puppy Farming Charges Roil Brit Dog Circuit


(Reuters) – Something sinister is troubling Britain’s usually genteel
world of dog-showing, and at the center of it all lies one question:
Who called Mrs Joyce Mann a "puppy farmer?"

Mann, this year’s Crufts Best of Show judge and wife of its chairman
Peter, had been targeted by a fax campaign to highlight her mass breeding
of Yorkshire Terriers in the 1960s — puppy farming — a practice common
at the time, but now considered unethical.

"This has all the ingredients of a Miss Marple mystery," said
Beverley Cuddy of "Dogs Today" magazine. "Dog showing is
still very much a gentle middle-class pursuit, but it does have this other

"When people get obsessed, only winning counts, and the dog becomes
irrelevant," she

from Reuters

Howard Dean, 1st Casualty of the Media Wars


If anyone needed a graphic demonstration of the principles
espoused in "A
Note of Caution
" they need look no further than the savagely
efficient 10 day evisceration of Howard Dean.

Our take on the episode is a variation on the conventional wisdom which
now says Dean was undone by the press, and hinges on the horny question,
"Is the Major Media being consciously directed by an evil fraternity
of mega-mogels or is it merely thrashing around like a blind bull in
an Apple Store, reacting to threats in some sort of instinctive mob protectionist behavior?”

The answer, we fear, is a little bit of both, and goes far in explaining
what happened to Dean. The peons and pikemen of the Press Machine, aspiring
Junior Members of the Media Mafia, authentically liked the good Doctor
back in the Fall, and felt he could be a refreshing story throughout
the election.  Furthermore, they really "got" the whole Internet
angle which got the Dean movement off the ground; they knew what blogs
and some of them even read them.

Fueled by the enthusiasm of the young Deaniacs and the lower echelon
of media minions, the Dean phenomena took off.  And then the whispers
of what was going on reached the grownups upstairs like a waft of intoxicating
herbal smoke, and the Daddies decided to check out, and then throw out,
the weird new Doctor who was hanging out with their kids.

At the time we joked that when the Major Media powers saw that the Dean
Campaign were signing on internet luminaries like Jim
and Dave
, they panicked and decided to pull the plug. Perhaps it’s not
a joke. Apparently, as soon as the information infrastructure in this
country felt that individuals
who pose an actually threat to its continued dominance were approaching
the reins
power, they reacted.

Any Dean holdouts hoping for a resuscitation of their movement are whistling
Dixie. Get over it, Dudes, and MoveOn…..

Meanwhile, the Dowbrigade is convinced that JFK Redux will be able to
give the Bushites all they can handle.  The guy is not a Dorky Do-gooder
like Gore, he knows how to give as good as he gets and learned more than
his lanky liberalism from the Kennedys, who certainly know how to steal
an election as well as any family in American politics, Bushes included.

John Kerry is not about to get the wool pulled over his eyes the way
they did to Big Al back in 2000. As much as it pains us to say it, as
a Dyed-in-the-wool Harvard Man, but in a no-holds barred scum-slinging
street fight between a Harvard Man and a Yale Man, always bet on the
Eli.  They’re much better at fighting dirty,

Germans Discover Beetles Again


JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – A South African court Tuesday fined four Germans
almost $18,000 for capturing some 200 rare Cape stag beetles, the South
African Press Association reported.

The four men were arrested near the town of Ceres in the Western Cape
province on Jan. 9 in a sting operation in which police uncovered a number
of the endangered beetles, which are highly prized by international collectors.

Cousins Albert and Gunter Rautenstrauch, along with Wolfgang Schubert
and Werner Lenz, admitted they were in possession of the beetles, SAPA

Officials found a total of 211 beetles among the 842 insects and seven
scorpions in the Germans’ possession.

Easy to understand why they’re endangered if they insist on going stag.

from Reuters

Persistent Quest for Freedom Award


MIAMI (AP) – Eleven Cubans trying to sail to Florida in a 1950s Buick
converted into a tailfinned boat were intercepted at sea by the Coast
Guard and will be sent back to their homeland, exile activists said Wednesday.

Marciel Basanta Lopez and Luis Grass Rodriguez, the two men who turned
the classic car into a floating vessel, tried a similar stunt last summer
and got caught: They set out for Florida in a 1951 Chevy pickup with
pontoons made out of empty 55-gallon drums and a propeller that pushed
it along at about 8 mph. (photo of the day July 24)

On Monday, the men set out again, with four other adults and five children,
relatives said. The Coast Guard intercepted the group late Tuesday en
route to the Florida Keys, picking them up off Marathon, about 90 miles
southwest of Miami, activist Arturo Cobo said.

If anyone deserves a green card (and pink slip) it’s these guys.  From

16 Teaching Days to Great Experiment


There are only 16 more teaching days until the Great Experiment.
Those of you checking our math may have noted that two days ago there were 19
teaching days left. Seems we had somehow forgotten President’s Day. Each day
now with my students is increasingly precious.  It’s the end of
an era.

Some have asked "What is the Great Experiment?" (Thanks for the inquiry,
Al, we thought no one would
ever ask). At this stage just let us say that the Dowbrigade’s life story
up to now has been marked by
longish stretches of more-or-less steady-state personal stability
and conventional intellectual achievement, punctuated with wild forays
into implausible schemes, peripatetic wanderings in exotic and untamed
territory, and wacky adventures which strain the limits of credulity
and turn gray a mother’s hair.

We feel such a period coming on. A complex and compelling three stage
plan is forming like a djinni from swirling desert dust, with machinations
within variations within contingencies. The die is cast, the dice are
thrown. Tickets have been bought. The planets have started to realign.  Stay

Gen-Mod Animal of the Day



Worried about Mad Cow disease? The Dowbrigade’s student’s are downright terrified, to the point that they refuse to eat beef while in the US. God knows what horror stories their worried Asian mamas heard that they passed on to their offspring abroad, but we have tried to do our part by describing in excruciating detail and elegant English the effects of Accute Infectious Bovine Encephalitis, as well as currect code on slaughterhouse higene and animal feed manufacture. An informed student body keeps its mind focused on the task at hand.

But never fear, the US is much too bloodthirsty to forego red meat, and so the industry is frantically working on plans to introduce alternatives, should beef become truly inedible or overwhelmingly unappetizing. Buffalo, Ox, Camel, Llama and, yes, Zebra are being bred in secret stockyards, as scientists and marketing specialists compare strengths and weaknesses.

The particular breed of Zebra pictured above has the additional advantage of being easy to track, stock and transport, due to its unique bar-code coloring scheme. The computerized records following each animal from stud to slaughter would avoid embarassing lapses like the current inability to trace the trajectory of the original American Mad Cow.

Moose Makes the Grade


Congratuatios to the lovely and talented Jessica the Cyber-librarian on making her much-anticipated 100,000 reads. This is just the beginning, kiddo, a million hits is right on the horizon.

Check out j’s scratchpad to pump her up even further!