Archive for March 4th, 2004

Women Bloggers Throw Off Your Chains


Takeaway Topic from the Berkman
meeting was "Are Women’s Blogs
Different?". The discussion grew out of a proposal from the lovely Lisa
for a session on Women
and Blogging
at the Blogger

In an adorably clever blurb, which reads in part: "Chick Blogs!
A Roundtable on Women and Blogs:
This session will attempt
to be the pajama-party of the blogosphere — a lively and welcoming
exchange on the best of
by women" Lisa outlines a number of pertinent points, like that over half
of all bloggers are women, but the number of women at conferences
like BloggerCon is insignificant.

Inevitably, she was attacked from all sides.  Many women objected
to the word "chick" and the girly-girl sensibility reflected in the "pajama
party" comment.  Others objected to the whole categorization
thing, saying they preferred to be thought of as just "bloggers". Then
there were the men who wondered if they would be welcome at a session
of this sort, or whether the conference should even be presenting session
at which some attendees might not feel comfortable.

At some point the idea was floated of combining the "women’s session"
and the "gripe session". People started telling stories about weak ties
and strong women. By this stage the Dowbrigade was grinning like a hog
in a synagogue, and the discussion
leader asked
answered, the whole area of "gender studies" is such an intellectual
minefield that one must be constantly careful where one steps or the
whole thing could
blow up in ones face.

Dave Winer was being sensibly cautious
about committing to a session on such thin ice, or shifting sand, or
slippery slope, pick your metaphor.
He seemed to instinctively grasp that a session of this nature could
distract from what we see as the main usefulness of events like
BloggerCon; to deal with the sociological and implementation issues around
blogging, and to act as an interface between a new generation of blogging
software users and the designers who are in the process of creating the
NEXT generation of blogging tools.

Still, we are rooting for Lisa and her session on Women and Blogging.  We
are fascinated by the question "Are Women’s Blogs Different", and would
love to attend. From the brief discussion tonight it seems that there
is an emerging consensus that
a) women’s blogs tend to be more eclectic, less about politics,
or if they are, to mix it in with posts on a wide variety of other topics,
b) women
tend to be more personal in their blogs, to mention their families, emotions
and events in their personal lives, and c) women are less concerned with
ranking and flow, and more with creating a sense of community with their

Sounds like a description of the Dowbrigade News! Whether this proves
the inherent flaw in stereotyping or that the Dowbrigade is in touch with
his feminine side, we know not. But the personal touch is part and parcel
of our signature style, and if that is feminine, so be it. By the same
measure, we really enjoy reading some women writers, like Halley
for example, because her writing has BALLS. She can juke and
move with the best of them, and when she cuts loose, she can kick like
a mule.

Speaking of Halley and her gang of misbehaving molls, we would be very
interested in what THEY think of the topic. Are women’s blogs different?
If so, how?

Could we
arrange a blind taste test? Ten anonymous blogs, five male and five
female. Who could tell the difference?

We are sure this is merely the first of many great session topics the
Dowbrigade will have to miss this time, as we will be somewhere in South
America at that time.

Firefighters, Relatives Ask Bush to Pull 9/11 Ad


On the way to the Berkman Bloggers meeting we were listening
to that rabid libertarian Jay Severin ranting on about the meaninglessness
of the news that the New York Firefighters Union had a) endorsed Kerry,
and b) objected to Bush using film of dead firefighters being pulled from
the ruins of the World Trade Center in a campaign commercial which debuted
yesterday (see following story).

Jay said that it was just the Union leaders who supported Kerry, and
that almost to a man (he neglected to mention the female firefighters)
the rank and file supported the President. He went on to say that this
is perfectly natural, as George Bush is the man much more likely to wake
up each morning thinking about our firemen and policemen and soldiers.

He then went on to laugh at the idea that anyone in Washington had anything
to do, either overtly or covertly, with the expedited exit of President
Aristide from Haiti, because "no one in Washington gives a rats ass or
even cares enough about what is going on in Haiti" to intervene. Enlightened
political analysis, for sure.

Excuse me, but my impression is that George Bush spends very little
time in the company of or even thinking about ANYONE whose net worth
is less than a million dollars. Say what you will about John Kerry, and
there is certainly much to say, but the man loves firefighters, and the
feeling appears to be mutual.  Maybe he wanted to BE a fireman when he was growing up. At every Kerry event we attended,
and most we see on TV, firefighters are there.

We’ll never forget an interview we heard on the radio, with the sister
of a firefighter who was burned horribly in a famous, tragic warehouse
fire in Worcester in December, 1999. Six firefighters died.  While
this woman’s brother was hospitalized she said John Kerry came to his
bedside, not once, but many times, over weeks, without any press coverage,
or publicity, or an election to win, and just sat with the family and
fellow firefighters, and talked.

This is starting to shape up as the best Presidential election match
up since Kennedy-Nixon, or maybe even Lincoln-Douglass, like a knife fight
between between octopi on MDA. A much better matchup than last time,
even though that one went the distance, and then some. It should be
a memorable slugfest, full of low blows, backstabbing, dirty tricks and
bizarre plot twists. One would expect no less from two Yale guys…

WASHINGTON (AP) – President George W. Bush’s day-old campaign commercials
drew sharp criticism Thursday from relatives of the victims of the Sept.
11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and a firefighters union with ties to Democratic
rival John Kerry demanded the ads be pulled.

The White House defended the ads, which include images of the destroyed
World Trade Center and firefighters bearing a stretcher through the
rubble. "It
makes me sick," said Colleen Kelly, who lost her brother, Bill Kelly, in
the attacks and leads a victims families group called Peaceful Tomorrows. "Would
you ever go to someone’s grave site and use that as an instrument of politics?
That truly is what Ground Zero represents to me."

In Bal Harbour, Fla., the International Association of Fire Fighters Union
approved a resolution asking the Bush campaign to pull the ads, spokesman Jeff
Zack said.
The resolution also urges Bush to "apologize to the families of firefighters
killed on 9/11 for demeaning the memory of their loved ones in an attempt to
curry support for his re-election."


from the CBC

Shocking Pet Story


seems to be an epidemic of electroshocked pooches on the streets of
Boston lately. It seems to be due to aging energy infrastructure,
lots of rain and normal dog behavior. The word on the street is – watch
out for those manhole covers, especially after a rain.

On a tip from a dog breeder we did some searching for electrically
insulated dog boots, and came up empty-pawed. Petsmart had some clever doggy
boots but they were for protection from cold, not shocks. We did find
items in the photo,
but since the site is in German we have no way of telling if they are
electrically insulated.

Anyone knowing of 100% electrically insulated pet boots available
here in the USA, please contact the Dowbrigade. Concerned pet owners
in the Boston area
to know.

A Hungarian Vizsla named Crumb walked out of a veterinary hospital
with a singed paw yesterday after she became the fourth dog in Boston
shocked by exposed underground wires in the past four months. Across
town, Mayor Thomas M. Menino vowed to press for legislation to fine utilities
up to $1 million in such cases, and asked Attorney General Thomas F.
Reilly to help hold NStar and the state agency that regulates utilities


article from the Boston Globe

photo from Sprengor

Kerry Hung Like Horse?


very strange note appeared in my mailbox this morning, forwarded from
a site called "Good for the Jews", which is noteworthy in its own right. The
photo, appearantly unaltered, seems to attest to the fact that if this
presidential election deteriorates into a pissing contest, the Democrats
should do OK. Here is the original caption:

O.K. It could be the folds in his pants in this Associated Press photograph
that appeared in the print edition of The L.A. Times this morning (3/1/04).
On the other hand, it looks like a penis! A very long penis. You should
also know that I don’t ordinarily look for such things in pictures of
men. This happened to hit me in the face so to speak. So how does this
a bearing on the Jewish people? I’m not certain. But if I had to hazard a guess,
it also looks like Kerry’s had a bris. In any event, this photo should once and
for all dispel the claims of Kerry backers that he has Jewish blood in
him. I’ve
been around the old Mikvah once or twice and I never seen nothing like that heading
into the schvitz room.

from Good for the Jews

Dansei Scandal – Pure Tap Water



LONDON (Reuters) – It made for great headlines, but the fact that the UK version of Coca-Cola’s Dasani brand bottled water comes out of the London public supply should hardly have come as a surprise.

“Coke’s in hot water,” “Eau dear” and “The real sting” were three good examples of the newspaper headline writer’s art, but the only real difference between Dasani and many other bottled waters is that the humble origin of the product is firmly in the spotlight.
Figures from independent beverage research company Canadean show that at least two out of every five bottles of water sold around the world are, like Dasani, “purified” waters, rather than “source” waters which originate from a spring.

Most of the supermarket own-label bottled waters consist of treated tap water. They may be dechlorinated, filtered further, purified using ultraviolet light and have minerals either added or subtracted. They may also be carbonated.

In short, they are subjected to many of the same treatments that source waters undergo to satisfy public health requirements after being pumped up from the ground.

Alongside flagship brands such as Evian, Perrier, and Malvern, most of the big-name water producers market several purified water lines, often in countries where the safety of the public water supply is a concern.

Nestle’s Pure Life is one such leading brand and PepsiCo’s Aquafina is another, while Danone’s Sparkletts and Alhambra marques are top sellers in the United States, where tap water purity is not usually an issue.

from Reuters