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Archive for April, 2006

Mayday, Mayday

Posted by glasscastle on 30th April 2006

Addressing a meeting of members from over
20 student groups, leaders of Harvard’s Fuerza Latina and Student Labor
Action Movement (SLAM) called for a campus-wide walkout on May 1 to protest
federal legislation they say is anti-immigration.

After receiving a smaller-than-expected
student turnout for a national April 10 rally against the legislation,
Cristina A. Herndon
’06, former vice president of Fuerza Latina, and SLAM leader Michael
A. Gould-Wartofsky ’07 turned to intergroup collaboration in order
to most efficiently galvanize support.

The groups’ plan calls for protestors to walk out at 1 p.m. on May Day,
May 1, and stage a protest in Harvard Square before moving to a city-wide
protest being held in downtown Boston.

from the Harvard Crimson

We were also disappointed at the April
10 turnout in Boston, compared to marches in other cities, but we’re
ready to give
these guys another chance. We believe in an innate right to immigrate
– and to emigrate. God gave us free will, but men give us governments,
and often they are weak and venal men who try to appear strong and nobel, and their governments suck accordingly, and constitute a danger to the life and liberty of the people who happened to be born therein.

One of the most endearing and entertaining tenets of
Democracy is that if you disagree with the government, you can try to
change it. However, some people are not into or cut out for regime change,
and a corollary right in any free society is the freedom to leave, and
for others to come.

Empires since at least the Romans have
discovered that only through a constant infusion of new blood, ambitious
immigrant blood,
can an empire maintain its vigor and avoid complacency, sloth and endemic
cynical corruption. Quite frankly, the United States can ill afford
to cut off the inflow of imagination, daring and determination that
only someone who risks everything for a better life can contribute
to the society that provides it.

At the same time, we are not all that
sold on this May Day without Immigrants. The potential downside seems
much steeper than any possible benefit. What, after all, is the objective?

If it is to demonstrate how dependent we
are on
immigrant
labor, they
are bound to be sorely disappointed. Even if they were able to
generate a high participation rate (extremely doubtful due to the highly
publicized immigrant worker roundups around the country these past
few weeks), it would be sending the wrong message to the wrong people.
If anyplace gets paralyzed or even inconvenienced. it will be the reclaimed
Spanish Empire areas in Texas, New Mexico and Southern California,
where the
immigrants
themselves are in the majority. In the other 95% of the country it
will be a small peaceful demonstration and 2 minutes on the evening news.
If anything, the immigrants will be seen as unruly foreign fifth columnists,
destabilizing and endangering, rather than engendering, the American
Dream.

We do like the whole wear white thing,
though. A political fashion statement which will mean two very different
things to the Latinos, for whom white represents purity and perfection,
and to the Asian immigrants, to whom white usually represents death
and mourning. And the inevitable Anarchist lunatic fringe will definitely
stand out, like ebony apostrophes peppered into linguistic alfredo.

Watch this space for a report on tomorrows
events.

Posted in Politics | Comments Off on Mayday, Mayday

State of Maine Sues Blogger for $1.5M

Posted by glasscastle on 28th April 2006

A coastal Maine blogger who criticized the state’s tourism
office has been hit with a lawsuit seeking potentially more than $1 million
in damages for allegedly making false statements and posting on his website,
Maine Web Report, images from proposed tourism advertisements a New York
agency prepared for Maine officials.

The case raises the issue of how free speech protection will be applied
in the proliferating world of weblogs, or blogs, and underscores the growing
influence of bloggers on business and government.

”It’s a reflection of the extent to which businesses are
taking critiques from the blogosphere very seriously," said John
G. Palfrey
, executive director of the Berkman
Center
for Internet & Society
at Harvard Law School. ”Bloggers have gained enormous power."

Warren Kremer Paino Advertising LLC, an agency hired by the Maine Department
of Tourism, filed suit in US District Court in Maine last week, alleging
the blogger, Lance Dutson of Searsmont, Maine, outside Camden, violated
the agency’s copyright and defamed the agency in blog entries self-published
at www.mainewebreport.com.

from the Boston Globe

Maine Web Report

John Palfry blog

This
is the image, pulled from the Maine Department of Economic and
Community Development website, that Dutson re-published. It features
a phone sex number instead of the real number to call for Maine tourism
information.
No
wonder the
state is embarassed.

Posted in Blogging | 1 Comment »

iCin

Posted by glasscastle on 28th April 2006

Camcorder
accessory manufacturer Bella has just announced a new device that will
let you toss those MiniDV cassettes straight out of your bag and replace
them with your iPod or nearly any other USB 2.0-compliant storage system.
The Catapult, as it’s known, is an paperback-sized digital encoder
that plugs into any standard or HD camcorder with a FireWire port and
processes the video as you’re recording, eliminating the need to convert
your footage later on.

from the Engadget

This is something we have been fantasizing
about
since
we got the idea of attaching a tiny camera and microphone to our glasses
and recording our whole life in real time. Why not, we wondered, capture
the resulting video directly to the 30 gig hard-drive we habitually carried
around on our person – our iPod?

Impossible, we were informed by helpful
commenters
, for
a number of reasons, the most convincing of which was that iPod hard-drives
only rotate at 5400 rps, which is not fast enough to capture digital
video in real time.

Perhaps the Catapult solves this problem by "encoding" the
signal in a format that can be smoothly recorded at 5400, but we would
have to see it in action to believe it. Plus, we still haven’t gotten
over our deep disillusionment that our
LAST iPod
only lasted 13 months
before it turned into a $300 doorstop.

At any rate, this whole mobile recording bottleneck is
only a temporary workaround until we have wireless mobile feeds directly
from glasses cams on people with MUCH more interesting lives than the
Dowbrigade,  onto the Net, live and in color, up close and personal,
uncut and raw, each wired individual a permanent personal channel available
to subscribers or browsers, human nodes in the ultimate reality show.

thanks to Steve Garfield for the head’s up

Posted in Technology | Comments Off on iCin

Ortografia Por Favor

Posted by glasscastle on 28th April 2006

Any
Scrabble aficionados will enjoy Brian
McGrory’s column
in today’s Boston Globe. Note: the Dowbrigade
would be National Scrabble Champ if not for a congenital inability
to spell…

For kicks, he overturned seven random letters in front
of him — ”I S A T R N E" — and told me to add an eighth. I gave
him a ”G."

He casually proceeded to make ”ANGRIEST," ”RANGIEST," ”GANISTER," ”GANTRIES," ”INGRATES," and
”GRANITES."

I walked out that door realizing I never had a chance. Maybe somewhere
there’s a kindergarten Candy Land champion that I can take.

from the Boston Globe

Posted in Wacky News | Comments Off on Ortografia Por Favor

US Defense Costs Less Than Xmas Decorations

Posted by glasscastle on 27th April 2006

WASHINGTON — Americans spent as much on ”plastic Santa Clauses and
tinsel" and other holiday niceties last Christmas season as they
do on the US military for a year, the Army’s top general said yesterday.

Responding to complaints about defense spending, General Peter Schoomaker,
the Army chief of staff, told reporters: ”I just don’t understand . .
. what’s the problem?"

”Here’s what is amazing to me . . . What do you think we spent on plastic
Santa Clauses and tinsel and all this stuff for Christmas last year?" Schoomaker
asked during a meeting with reporters. ”The answer is $438.5 billion,
roughly equivalent to the defense budget."

from the Boston Globe

Well, when you put it that way….Although running the numbers,
that works out to $1,644 worth of plastic Santas, tinsel and strings
of blinking lights
for every man, woman and child in the country.- $6,578 for a family
of four.

Typical government accounting; they probably started with the amount
the FIRST family spent on
Christmas decorations and multiplied that by the population of the
United States….

Posted in Politics | Comments Off on US Defense Costs Less Than Xmas Decorations

60 Billion Senders Can’t Be Wrong

Posted by glasscastle on 25th April 2006

BERLIN, April 25 – Internet users around the world send an estimated
60 billion emails every day and many of these are spam or scam attempts,
business leaders said on Tuesday.

from Reuters

That works out to just over 10 emails for every human soul on the
planet EVERY DAY, including hundreds of millions who can’t read and
have never seen a computer.

Of those 10 messages, four are for off-shore pharmacies,
three for penis enlargement therapies, two for fabulous financial
opportunities, and
one is from your
mother wondering why you never call anymore.

Posted in Technology | Comments Off on 60 Billion Senders Can’t Be Wrong

Antidote to $5.00 Water

Posted by glasscastle on 25th April 2006

The Beerbelly – a secret strap-on beer holder that disguises itself
as a bulging beer belly – is being marketed in the US.

It was the brainchild of three middle-aged men who wanted a way of sneaking
beer into movies and baseball games.

Within just five days of launching their website,
they had an incredible two million hits and calls for it to be sold worldwide.

The Beerbelly’s harnesses slip over the shoulders and around the waist,
under a shirt, leaving onlookers thinking the wearer just spends too much
time in the pub.

But little do they know, the wearer doesn’t actually need the pub – he,
or she, has an 80-ounce plastic bladder full of beer constantly at hand.

from Ananova

Beerbelly web site

Posted in Wacky News | Comments Off on Antidote to $5.00 Water

Careful with that nailgun, Eugene

Posted by glasscastle on 25th April 2006

US doctors found 12 nails stuck in the skull of a man who came in complaining
of a headache.

Medics believe the man fired the two-inch nails into his head himself in
a bizarre suicide bid – but somehow survived.

"Incredibly he’s made a full recovery," said Dr Alexander West, the
neurosurgeon who led the team that pulled out the nails.

"This guy was blessed in some way. I mean, it’s incredible."

The 2-inch nails were not originally visible in the 33-year-old’s head
when he sought help in hospital in Portland, Oregon.
But x-rays revealed six nails clustered between his right eye and ear,
two below his right ear and four on the left side of his head.

The nails came close to major blood vessels and the brain stem but did
not pierce them

Officials believe the unnamed man was suicidal and high on methamphetamine
when he fired the nails into his head one by one with a nail gun.

from Ananova

Posted in Wacky News | Comments Off on Careful with that nailgun, Eugene

Next Year in Guantanamo

Posted by glasscastle on 25th April 2006

SOMERVILLE — It’s a quiet night at The Thirsty Scholar,
an Irish pub and dating bar on Beacon Street. A handful of bored-looking
guys sit at the bar, watching a hockey game on the TV, and a few couples
and small groups chat quietly at scattered tables. But in what Irish
pubs call ”the snug," an alcove off the dimly lit main room, conversation
is animated, laughter frequent, and there are more books than bottles
on the table. The Boston-area ”Finnegans Wake" Reading Group is
in session.

The 10-year-old group, which meets weekly, is carefully making its way
— word by word, line by line, and page by page — through James Joyce’s
famously difficult final work. The book is 628 pages long, and they’re
now on Page 251.

from the Boston Globe

And we thought we were a slow reader! Actually,
the Dowbrigade has been a member of a Reading Group for even longer.
The
"Doctor Gonzo" has been trying to work its way through that American
classic, "Fear
and Loathing in Las Vegas
" since shortly after it came
out in 1972, meeting in burnt-out basements, poorly illuminated street
corners in dangerous neighborhoods and sleazy dives in what was once
known as
the Combat Zone.

As was perhaps to be expected, given the nature
of the Group, our attempts to gather and discuss were almost universally
unsuccessful,
due to an inability to follow directions and arrive at the same place
at the same time. On those uncommon occasions when a handful of the Doctor’s
disciples did manage to meet, our readings rarely penetrated more than
a paragraph or two into the text before disintegrating into digression,
non-sequitors, rambling off-topic rants, marginally related commercial
transactions and barter, and an unhealthy mix of paranoid schitzophrenia,
psychoses,
bi-polar disorders and drug or mental health induced halucinations.

And yet, we suspect we reached a clearer understanding
of our work than these jokers….

For the record, the Dowbrigade considers Joyce
an obscure, old-world sot not worth the time and effort requrired to
figure out what the hell he was trying to say. Give us robust transparent
American writers any day – Poe, Kerouac, Burroughs, Bukowski, Pynchon……

Posted in Media News | 1 Comment »

What’s In a Name

Posted by glasscastle on 21st April 2006

Dave got called a “notorious curmudgeon” by Fortune magazine. And he was upset! Personally, we will know we have “made” it when we are called EITHER notorious OR curmudgeon by Fortune. Congratulations, Dave.

Posted in Friends and Family | Comments Off on What’s In a Name

Bum Rap – The Price of Fame

Posted by glasscastle on 20th April 2006

Unflattering pictures of German Chancellor Angela Merkel
in a British newspaper have sparked a backlash from the German government
and media.

The Sun printed photos of Mrs Merkel on holiday taken from behind while
changing into her bathing suit.

A government spokesman accused the tabloid of voyeurism and said the chancellor
had a right to privacy.

One paper said Germany would take its revenge at the World Cup, promising
the English team a "good thrashing".

from the Drudgereport

Although in questionable taste from a number of
points of vew, not least of them aestetic, the divine profane symbolism
of the naked bum of a major world leader was just too good to pass
up. Of course, in these skeptical times, who can vouch for the authenticity
of a photo of this sort? True or false, would a major world leader
like Merkel dignify an invasion 
of her privacy lby responding
with a lawsuit? What would be the basis of such a lawsuit, and what
would
be its correct
jurisdiction? On the basis of what evidence would it be decided?

Posted in Wacky News | 3 Comments »

Fetus Eating Sect in South China

Posted by glasscastle on 19th April 2006

Teachers
of English to Speakers of Other Languages are known for xeno-philiac
eccentricity and bizarre, unstable behavior,
but this is mostly due to the weird and exotic locals in which we often end up plying our trade.

Be that as it may, this story goes beyond the pale. Even a twisted and cynical fan of the outre like the Dowbrigade has certain standards. They may be low, but they are there. Of course, they don’t prevent us from reporting that a TESOL teacher in Guandong
has penetrated a semi-secret sect of – Fetus Eating!

Recently a Guangdong Factory
Owner from Taiwan was discovered partaking in an
appalling new trend; eating babies.  For 4000 yuan
a person can order 7-month-old baby stewed for 8 hours with Chinese herbs. This dish is thought to boost the “yang” (as in yin and yang).

The Factory Owner who was interviewed for the story is 62 years old and was having trouble keeping up with his 19 year old wife in the bed room until he found this miracle stew. He says that he depends on the soup to “keep it up” each night for his randy bride.

The restaurant in Foshan, (Guangdong Province, Southern China) code names the dish “ribs”. The chef collects girl babies from the surrounding poor
villagers; sometimes an aborted foetus, sometimes a still born, sometimes the unwanted (and unlawful) second baby. The restaurant pays depending on the size of the baby. Sometimes they would pay a full-term mother 2000 Yuan for her live baby.

Only fresh babies are used, no frozen babies.

from China and Beyond: TESOL Around the World

Editors note: As of this morning the original link has been taken down. We have no information regarding the involvement ot the Chinese government in this emerging scandal. Thanks to Google, however, here is a link to their cached version….

Also, here is a link to the original Chinese language source (scroll down about 60%) with EXTREMEMLY GROSS PHOTOS. You have been warned….

Posted in ESL Links | 164 Comments »