This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.                             the guys: philogynist jaime tony - the gals:raymi raspil

        20071031   

Eleven Year Olds, Dude.
Michael considered fate at 12:35   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Another response on eleven year olds taking birth control from Joe:
this issue .. is not a liberal/conservative issue. Is a fourteen year old of age to enter into a legal contract? Sixteen? Seventeen? You can't sign up for the military if you are not eighteen, unless a parent consents for seventeen. I used the age of 11 because that is the parameter established by the school in Maine.
I'd argue that stating anything other than "11 to 14" is misleading, and that was the meaning of my remarks. I could go further with that, but I think the argument is self-explanatory.
Today we over medicate are children like we are giving them candy. I could list for pages the sometimes fatal side effects of giving adult medications to children.
I whole-heartedly agree with this sentiment. Unfortunately, it is only a sentiment; my opinion. It is clear that, as a society, we have made the choice of medication over non-medication. We seem to carry a collective perception that pills will fix us.

That being said, I'll make a few points:
  • To try and suggest that over-medication is a problem with children only is laughable.
  • We medicate our children on a daily basis with ADHD drugs, anti-depression drugs, and poor diet. Ignoring these issues as any less significant than birth control for the same group of kids is wrong. Trying to address this particular problem as opposed to the whole big stinkin' elephant in the room is akin to patching one small hole in a sinking ship full of many small holes.
  • The national out-cry resulting from this birth control issue in Maine is clearly a matter of moral outrage. No doubt, some smart people somewhere are discussing the problem and debating the pros and cons. To think that you will find these "intelligent" debates in the media coverage is, again, laughable. This is thinly-veiled moral-snobbery and has a whole lot more to do with the "icky fact" that children of a young age might have sex on occasion than it does with the fact that birth control may not be safe for young children.
Joe finishes off with:
These children are not old enough to assume the risk mor [sic] the responsibility.
Just to take a clear stand here and stop riding the fence like I sometimes do, I agree with this sentiment as well. An eleven year old is probably not at a point where they can safely evaluate the risks involved. That being said, the same exact statement can be said for large numbers of our adult population. When you live in a society where someone has sued McDonald's for having hot coffee, you live in a society that insists on shifting blame and responsibility, as opposed to addressing it. You live among individuals who are truly unable to consider community issues in a clear and logical light, with everyone's best interest in mind. You live in a society of me-firsts.

The rich, the poor, and the religious
Michael considered fate at 11:04   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Whoa, influx. After my last post linking to the angry atheist it seems natural to discuss wealth, politics, and religion - right?

I've actually been sitting on a bit from The Washington Monthly on religion vs. wealth and now seems as good a time as any to bring it out:
As people get less religious, they get wealthier. Or perhaps the other way around. Or perhaps there's something else behind both trends.

At least they don't claim to know what is going on.

Meanwhile, on another virtual street on the internet, an ever-opportuned reader has sent me a semi-related blog post from some stats folks at Columbia comparing rich and poor states. For starters, they show maps of which states Bush and Kerry would've won if only the votes of the poor, middle-income, and rich were counted which, aren't all that surprising - most rich people vote republican. Otherwise, you need to go west to the badlands to find anyone poor and dumb enough[1] to vote for GW (or Texas).

What is surprising, however, is that the familiar red-blue divide of cosmopolitan coastal Democrats and heartland-state Republicans shows up among the rich but not the poor. You could argue that rich folk are more likely to be like-minded with their community. You could argue that poor folk are more likely to vote their own opinions, regardless of their neighbour's political bent. You could also fail to note the race differences between the Midwest and the Southeast[2]. You could make all sorts of arguments and mistakes, really. These are statistics - and we know what happens when you use statistics to prove things, right?

1 I jest.

2 In fact, one of the Columbia folks state in the comments:The patterns are similar but not so strong if you only look at white voters.

        20071030   

An Angry Atheist
Michael considered fate at 13:51   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
As is often the case, other people can and do produce better arguments for my personal positions than I do. Case in point, a lesbian atheist explains why we (atheists) might be a bit angry and why that is a good thing:
I'm angry that atheist soldiers -- in the U.S. armed forces -- have had prayer ceremonies pressured on them and atheist meetings broken up by Christian superior officers, in direct violation of the First Amendment. I'm angry that evangelical Christian groups are being given exclusive access to proselytize on military bases -- again in the U.S. armed forces, again in direct violation of the First Amendment. I'm angry that atheist soldiers who are complaining about this are being harassed and are even getting death threats from Christian soldiers and superior officers..

.. I'm angry that the 41st President of the United States, George Herbert Walker Bush, said of atheists, in my lifetime, "No, I don't know that atheists should be regarded as citizens, nor should they be regarded as patriotic. This is one nation under God."

.. I'm angry that it took until 1961 for atheists to be guaranteed the right to serve on juries, testify in court, or hold public office in every state in the country.
And that is just the start of it. Luckily, she is a smart cookie and level-headed to boot, so a lot of the typical responses from religious folk are either addressed ahead of time in her post or politely debated in her followup.

Not surprisingly, her site was blocked by the company firewall as Pornography... Yeah, of the mind.

        20071029   

44-yard TD pass involves 15 laterals
Michael considered fate at 10:06   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
I know I should be writing about the Red Sox on the day after their 2007 world series win but, my god, did anybody see the Trinity Tigers school the Millsaps Majors with a play consisting of fifteen lateral tosses in Mississippi?
The play that covered 60 yards was recorded in official statistics as a 44-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Blake Barmore to wide receiver Riley Curry.

But the Tigers, battling the defending conference champions in Jackson, Miss., will always remember it as more than that.

"It was the most remarkable play I've ever seen in college football," Trinity coach Steve Mohr said in a telephone interview.
A Youtube video of the play can be found at the bottom of that article, or you can go get it at The Wizard of Odds blog and receive a bonus video of Standford's "The Play" from 1982.

        20071026   

Drink Up
Michael considered fate at 18:28   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
So you think you can drink?:
The record for history's largest cocktail belongs to British Lord Admiral Edward Russell. In 1694, he threw an officer's party that employed a garden's fountain as the punch bowl.

The concoction? A mixture that included 250 gallons of brandy, 125 gallons of Malaga wine, 1,400 pounds of sugar, 2,500 lemons, 20 gallons of lime juice, and 5 pounds of nutmeg.

A series of bartenders actually paddled around in a small wooden canoe, filling up guests' cups. Not only that, but they had to work in 15-minute shifts to avoid being overcome by the fumes and falling overboard.

The party continued nonstop for a full week, pausing only briefly during rainstorms to erect a silk canopy over the punch to keep it from getting watered down. In fact, the festivities didn't end until the fountain had been drunk completely dry.
From another Brit:
A wall of 1.3 million gallons of dark beer washed down the street, caving in two buildings and killing nine people by means of "drowning, injury, poisoning by the porter fumes, or drunkenness."

        20071025   

Excuse me Mr. Military Leader, could you demonstrate the "loving hug"?
Michael considered fate at 11:46   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Having a bad day? Just bored? Want to waste a little bit of time scratching your head?

I present to you four pieces of evidence that our world is, indeed, stranger than fiction:
  • The Williamsburg "Avenger": posts flyers with the face of one-night-stand hipster who gave her herpes. Or who she thinks gave her herpes. Or, well, whatever.
  • Video of a cheetah pooping into a sunroof that is, surprisingly, exactly what it sounds like. Furthermore, it is irrefutable proof that exotic African wildlife experience just as much consternation as we do when they're pinching a loaf. Seriously, check out that cat's expression!
  • No loving hug left behind:
    TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Defense Minister Lee Tien-yu decided to scrap the military's "loving hug" policy yesterday after rebuffing a lawmaker's request to give him a hug at the legislature..

    .. Under the policy, squad leaders are required to hug each new recruit under his command and utter the words "Brother, I will take care of you," to which the recruit must respond by saying, "Leader, I respect and love you."

    Lee defended the practice as effective in helping recruits overcome their feelings of fear and unease with their new boot camp environment..

    To make his point,the lawmaker asked that the minister demonstrate the "loving hug" by embracing a general who accompanied him to the interpellation session. The minister refused.

    Keeping the pressure on him, Legislator Lee Ching-hua offered to give the minister a hug, to which the minister responded by saying that "we are not that close." He then agreed to scrap the policy altogether.
  • And last but not least, the Red Sox are in the World Series for the second time in just three years, and look like they might just win this one - shy of their usual schedule by 83 years.

        20071024   

More Money good, Less Money baaaaad.
Michael considered fate at 16:37   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
More bad news:
The head of the International Monetary Fund, Rodrigo Rato, warned Monday of a potential "abrupt fall" in the US dollar that could roil the global economy.
Not really news, given the credit crunch, housing slump, and recent milestones like the on-par US-CDN currency valuations. However, he goes on to give us a really important nugget:
"There are risks that an abrupt fall in the dollar could either be triggered by, or itself trigger, a loss of confidence in dollar assets," Rato said at the close of annual meetings here of the IMF and the World Bank.
Taking that apart piece by piece we get:

1) There are risks that loss of confidence in dollar assets could trigger a fall in the dollar.

and

2) There are risks that a fall in the dollar could trigger a loss of confidence in dollar assets.

Which is to say... a drop in the dollar is a loss of confidence in dollar assets and a loss of confidence in dollar assets is expressed by a drop in the dollar.

Which is to say... what was he saying again? The best I can tell is that he meant to say: "If things get bad, that is going to be bad." or, rather "If the dollar isn't worth much, you won't be able to buy a lot with it" or "One dollar is worth one dollar in dollar assets."

Right. Luckily, he goes on to clarify this a bit:
"The turbulence in the credit markets is a warning that we cannot take the benign (global) economic environment of recent years for granted," Rato said..
Translation:
"Given recent bad things, we know things might not always be good."
Brilliant.

        20071023   

The ethics of birth control.. for kids.
Michael considered fate at 18:14   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment

Michael,

I make no claims at bipartisanship, but on this issue it is not a liberal/conservative issue. Is a fourteen year old of age to enter into a legal contract? Sixteen? Seventeen? You can't sign up for the military if you are not eighteen, unless a parent consents for seventeen. I used the age of 11 because that is the parameter established by the school in Maine.
Today we over medicate are children like we are giving them candy. I could list for pages the sometimes fatal side effects of giving adult medications to children.

Here is some interesting information:
Recently the FDA disclosed that the excessive levels of estrogen delivered by the birth control patch Ortho Evra can cause serious injuries and even death to the women who use it.
Especially worrisome is the finding that most of about a dozen users who died of clot-related complications in 2004 were young — in their late teens and early 20s.

You can cite all the dangers of daily living you want, but giving an adult medication to children is medically irresponsible.
The reporting on side effects of other medications in children is out there everyday. This is ludicrous. I asked the questions that adults would ask.
I have seen many of my patients develop horrible conditions due to "relatively safe" meds. These children are not old enough to assume the risk mor the responsibility. 
My last post got an interesting comment from mia, which I will quote for posterity here:
I was pretty ambivalent about this whole thing. That was until I read one of the most informative commentaries I have read/heard or seen on the topic. I highly recommend that anyone interested in b/c pills for children read this commentary and then research what the author wrote. I did and it was an eye opener.
Here is the link.
The link she points you to is, certainly, a good laundry list of questions that need to be (should have been) asked about the topic of early teens taking birth control pills:
  • Is the child of legal age to make a medical decision for herself?
  • Will an eleven year old be able to understand the plausible side effects?
  • Even if they do comprehend and experience an adverse reaction; will they tell their parents?
  • What about possible drug interactions?
  • If the parent takes the child to the family doctor for another condition and the family doctor is unaware the child is on the birth control pill and prescribes another drug, if there is a negative reaction — who is responsible?
Good points, certainly, but I am Immediately suspect of the bipartisanship of the author. They're clearly playing the same game our media is by highlighting the lowest of the age group - the eleven year olds, not the fourteen year olds.

The second set of questions revolved around the cancer issue: a heightened susceptibility to it caused by hormone therapy (i.e. the pill):
We are now seeing, in post menopausal women, a possible link between breast cancer and hormone replacement therapy. What can of worms are we going to open when we introduce adult level hormones into an immature reproductive system and body? Does being on the pill make one more susceptible to breast cancer?
Yet more good questions. There is no doubt that taking hormone pills are going to have some interesting effect on one's body. I think this is common knowledge but to ax an initiative out of fear isn't going for enough in the research phase, if you ask me.

They go on to quote a study that suggests prolonged hormone therapy use (think ten years) increases the chance of breast cancer by ~1.38.

According to government statistics, roughly 12% of women born today will get breast cancer. A rise of 38% would put it in the range of 17%. Furthermore, additional figures I found suggest that based on 2001 through 2003 data, the likelihood of developing [any] cancer during one’s lifetime is approximately one in two for men and one in three for women. That being said, does a ~5% increased risk of breast cancer justify this kind of hysteria? Nevermind that breast cancer survival rates are pretty damn high, and only likely to get better given the heightened awareness of the populace compared to decades ago.

It is worth stepping back briefly and considering what we do, everyday, with our bodies. We walk out of the house. We climb into cars. We drink, smoke, inhale fast food, and guzzle soda. These things are equally dangerous, if not more so, given the obesity epidemic now.. and yet you don't not see the sort of vitriolic outbursts on that front that we're seeing now with a tiny school in a tiny state trying to make the choice they think is the best for their tiny place.

The debate over birth control.. for kids.
Michael considered fate at 13:21   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment

I was pretty ambivalent about this whole thing. That was until I read one of the most informative commentaries I have read/heard or seen on the topic. I highly recommend that anyone interested in b/c pills for children read this commentary and then research what the author wrote. I did and it was an eye opener.
Here is the link. mia

http://joeleonardi.wordpress.com/2007/10/21/birth-control-for-children/ 

Britcoal, you are obviously on the Republicans radar.....I woudn't be suprised if Mia wasn't Joe Leonardi himself, because if that's on of "most informative commentaries I have read/heard or seen on the topic" then they probably don't read or hear much.
Or haven't been a teenager before.
peace 
If anyone has been paying attention to the "national news" lately you probably know all about the birth control decision that was recently made at a Portland, ME middle school. From a NYTimes article:
Two days after the school committee voted 7 to 2 in favor of adding prescription contraceptives to the services offered at the health clinic, the issue continues to draw fervent support and ardent opposition in this city of 64,000, the largest in Maine.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Cathleen Allen, whose son is enrolled at King. “Someone is finally advocating for these students to take care of themselves.”

Ms. Allen added, “It’s an eye-opener for all of us, but when you look at the facts, why not?”

Bishop Richard J. Malone of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland is calling on the school committee to rescind its decision, as have the state and city Republican Parties. The city party is also pushing a recall for members who voted in favor.

Nick McGee, the city’s Republican Party chairman, said of the policy, “It is an attack on the moral fabric of our community, and a black eye for our state.”
No doubt, there will be people jawing on this with their neighbours, pastors, children, and relatives for some time to come. Sometimes there is no reasonable middle ground available to come to a compromise. The way I see it, you're either providing birth control or your not - no matter what your limitations or restrictions - and if you require parental consent than you're effectively perpetrating what I like to call an "unavailable-available service" (see Douglas Adam's intro to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, in which Arthur Dent is told that he had plenty of time to object to the tearing down of his house for the purposes of building an overpass because "the public plans have been available and on display for some time," yet the display was in a musty basement, behind file cabinets, in a locked and disused bathroom).

I bring all of this up because, in the face of a national media firestorm, the only voices of reason I've seen thus far has actually come straight from the students themselves. See the In media spotlight, kids don't blink column in Saturday's Portland Press Herald:
"Don't believe everything you hear," cautioned Katy DeJesus, 13, an eighth-grader at King. "Make sure you know all of the important things before you judge people -- and their school."

Sitting around a small table Friday morning, four of Katy's classmates nodded in agreement.

"King Middle School is a great place to be and a safe place to be," said Grania Power, 14. "And you shouldn't believe everything you hear about us."

.. This fall, as luck would have it, the 60-plus students in the eighth-grade Windsor House embarked on an expedition titled "Truth or Consequences." It includes an in-depth look at how stories sometimes get spun by the media.

Last week, they were just talking about this often bewildering phenomenon. This week, they found themselves living it.

Friday morning, Principal Michael McCarthy and I sat down with Windsor House to talk about the nation's sudden obsession with their school and their sexuality.

McCarthy gave a calm, point-by-point account of what actually happened, from the rationale behind the new birth control policy through Wednesday evening's 7-2 School Committee vote in favor of it.

[After the talk, the students asked]
  • Why did the news cameras outside the school focus only on the 11-year-olds, rather than the kids who are 13, 14 or 15?
  • Why did the initial report quote only people who were supportive of the plan?
  • Why does one story say kids need permission to use the health center, while another says they can get birth control pills "without parental permission?"
Good points, all. It gives me pause whenever the hypocrisy and delusional emotions of our adult society is trumped by a few tweens.

        20071020   

In bed together with the auto companies
Michael considered fate at 19:38   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
I'm always been fascinated by the pile of spaghetti that is corporate connections. Everyone's got a hand in someone else's pocket - either that, or they're probably getting stolen from themselves. Or both.

Regardless, here is a graphical attempt to clarify the connections among automobile manufacturers. Good luck unraveling that one.

        20071017   

NY to LA in 31 hours
Michael considered fate at 12:44   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Speed freak much?

This one is for my buddy Ross who, in his badder, younger, pre-preggers arm-candy days, was known to be quite the wild driver - from over-the-grass-and-through-the-trees parking lot pile-up avoidance stunts in high school to deadly-speed break-down lane shenanigans in an Oldsmobile grocery-getter replete with faux-wooden sidewalls.

That sounds reckless, but ain't nothin' compared to this: Independantly wealthy Alex Roy recently broke the cross-US driving record by over an hour to come in at 31 hours and 4 minutes. That's well over 7,000 miles at more than 90mph average, and they did it with a "play book" the size of the Patriot Act, a plethora of GPS units, thermal heat cameras, cop radios, and even a Beechcraft spotter plane.


        20071015   

Leftover Pics
Michael considered fate at 17:42   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment

While I wait for a project to compile, here are a few random leftovers:






No Impact Man finds himself impacted.. by friends
Michael considered fate at 16:34   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
If you recall, No Impact Man has been trying to lead a very no low environmental impact life while living with his family in NYC. I don't read the blog, but I mentioned it awhile ago here:
Last week [in March] he made a post that strayed a bit from the head-on environmental message and talked about happiness, friends, and where that gets us
I went on to talk about how people do matter, and probably a whole heck of a lot more than we all think about or admit while going about our day to day (read: money-making) lives. Given the inputs that we receive every day from television, newspapers, and yes, even people, it isn't much of a surprise that we're driven by an unending wealth of measurements. Each and every day we yield to all sorts of comparative emotions: is this shirt nice enough, is $200 enough to take to the casino trip? Things get complicated when you stop, look, and listen to yourself: I'm usually asking more specific questions than I think: is this shirt nice enough for the people I want to impress, is $200 enough to take to the casino and not look cheap?

I'm no researcher, but I know for a fact that these issues effect my life on a day to day basis and I suspect most people would admit the same, if they were honest. It is no wonder, then, that No Impact man's latest post on what the lifestyle feels like after ten months brings up the same topic yet again:
What people can’t get used to, though, is the loss of one of the main factors positive psychologists find does have a lasting affect on happiness: community. In fact, in may be that breakdown in community in the United States is one reason that, although material wellbeing has increased hugely in the last 50 years, rates of depression, substance abuse and teen suicide have skyrocketed.

We move away from our families and friends. We stay in the office until all hours. We travel endlessly on business trips. We spend our spare time in front of screens instead of with each other. All these things, we do because we think they will ultimately make us feel better, but in fact, they undermine our connections to each other and make us feel worse.

In the No Impact experiment, as I’ve written before, without all the mod cons to distract us, we spend more time with each other, our friends and our neighbors and actually feel happier.
So what is my point? Well, this being a personal blog*, it is exactly what was on my mind earlier today, before I stumbled onto the post I just mentioned, and before I reviewed the previous mention of No Impact Man on my blog:
From a conversation this morning:

[10:07] BritCoal: I was thinking today - what with all my stresses ..
[10:07] BritCoal: I'm unhappy, and stressed out..
[10:07] BritCoal: but if I am honest with myself, it is mostly surface tension..
[10:08] BritCoal: that will be gone in a day or two
[10:08] BritCoal: it is funny how much time we spend on short term problems
[10:09] BritCoal: (my car's clutch went on friday driving to work, my motorcycle barely got me to work this morning, and I was supposed to have got the boat to its winter storage yard on Sunday, but couldn't due to having no car)
.. And just mentioning these small snags to somebody made me feel better. Seeing people that see me, seeing people that know about me, having a sense of community goes a long way because there are certain validations there - people know you so you must exist. People nod to you in the street so you must have worth. These things help to get me out of the bed in the morning (I did: I got up this morning, if you can believe that).

The age old question still surfaces, though: how to get wrapped up in that community in a way that you feel comfortable with it. I hate clubs and groups. I'm frozen by the inorganic-ness of "community" in 2007. I'm still working on this and will likely be working on it for the rest of my life.

I like you, I really do.
Each and every one of you

Spending time with the group
It's like that dumb book: Chicken soup.

But - while I might spend all day reading Terkel
- I just can't see signing up for a sewing circle.


* note the lack of ads, corporate sponsorship, and readers

Night photos
Michael considered fate at 12:04   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment

oh my! those stars are exciting. but not half as exciting as the word 'behoove', which in turn is not half as exciting as a slice or two (but not more) of lemon meringue pie.
gate88 soon? 
as always..

- it would behoove you to -

zoom in (click) for

optimum viewing pleasure




you do want pleasure, don't you?

        20071011   

Fuck that
Michael considered fate at 17:35   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Steven Pinker - a linguist, a cognitive theorist, and not least of all a psychologist - brought us How the Mind Works which many of you, no doubt, enjoyed. Now he waxes on about our dirty tongues in What the fuck? Snippet:
If the fucking in fucking brilliant is to be assigned a traditional part of speech, it would be adverb, because it modifies an adjective and only adverbs can do that, as in truly bad, very nice, and really big. Yet "adverb" is the one grammatical category that Ose forgot to include in his list! As it happens, most expletives aren't genuine adverbs, either. One study notes that, while you can say That's too fucking bad, you can't say That's too very bad. Also, as linguist Geoffrey Nunberg pointed out, while you can imagine the dialogue How brilliant was it? Very, you would never hear the dialogue How brilliant was it? Fucking.
Please note that I have not used my normal style of quoting, which employs italics, because there was so much use of italics in the actual article.

        20071009   

I-295, 7pm
Michael considered fate at 18:22   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Freeport/Portland stretch of I-295, ~7PM



Slightly later


Moon squiggles
Michael considered fate at 12:58   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment

        20071008   

'round the fire
Michael considered fate at 18:56   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment


'round the fire

Lunar loop
Michael considered fate at 18:52   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Lunar loop.

Sunsets
Michael considered fate at 17:23   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment

Holy, that first photo with the sunset is absolutely wonderful. 
Slow, as always, to pull pictures off the camera and get them posted.. these are from the second week of Sept, and are straight from the sensor, untouched and un-edited.

The Northeastern shore of South Portland

Directly across the harbor channel from Willard Beach, where I am moored, is the small and privately-owned House Island. Fort Scammel, on the island, was built in 1808 at the same time as Fort Preble in South Portland as harbor defense. These are only a few of the many many forts and outposts that were built along the coast and on the islands of Casco bay.

Fort Scammel

Fort Preble (cropped)

Interestingly, House Island was used as a quarantine station in the early 1900's and was considered the "Ellis Island of the North".

Just to the East of House Island is the privately owned Cushing Island where two WWII towers can be seen over the treetops. Unfortunately there isn't much information on these structures but they look like concrete, so I imagine they're of the WWII era - even though a previous fort was built there.

North End of Cushing Island

East side of Cushing Island. Red arrows mark the "Storm Trooper towers, ala forest moon of Endor" - or at least that is what I call them


Depending on who you talk to, it is either blasphemy, inappropriate, rude, or just plain fun to fly the jolly roger. However, as I'm sailing in Maine I don't think anybody is ever going to confuse me for a real pirate.. and it was a neat "boat christening" gift from my crew, so why shouldn't I fly it?!


        20071005   

Lighthouses
Michael considered fate at 18:28   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment

I've been told on more than one occasion that Portland Head Light is the most photographed lighthouse in America. Once someone said the whole world. To be honest, I don't know who is standing around counting all the picture-takers, but I guess we'll have to take 'their' word for it. Whoever they might be.


For my money, though, I'll take the Ram Island Ledge Lighthouse, just north of Portland Head Light on the other side of the harbor channel. It's somehow more stoic, left to its own devices out in the middle of the water. The desolation makes for a more epic feel, as far as I'm concerned.

        20071003   

Tintin movies!
Michael considered fate at 19:35   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Thundering Typhoons! Apparently a trilogy of Tintin movies is in the (Dream)Works and, even better, is a collaboration between Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg. I'm very hopeful that those two will give Hergé's work the proper treatment. But one must ask themselves how many projects Mr. Jackson or Mr. Spielberg can possibly handle while still actually make their personal marks on them, as opposed to simply signing papers and writing checks?

Kathleen Kennedy is producing. She has worked on a gazillion Spielberg projects in the past, both good (Munich) and bad (War of the Worlds). Steven Moffat - apparently best known for his work on the new Doctor Who - will handle the scripts.

It is going to be live-action actors painted over with digital 3-D animation.

Wal*Marts viral growth
Michael considered fate at 19:17   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Here is a video that shows the growth of Wal-Mart stores in the USA over the last ~40 years. It is creepy in that germs in a petri dish sort of way. Watch for the early 80's when things really take off.

Body Mass Index - Body Mis-guided Index?
Michael considered fate at 13:53   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Exceedingly interesting: The Body Mass Index Conundrum.

Everyone* knows that BMI is kind of a crock of shit. I mean, anything that purports to indicate health risk through a formula involving only height and weight is clearly flawed. Since there is no accounting for muscle mass versus fat content and fat is actually lighter than muscle, we have a conundrum - or a crock of shit.

Certainly, as a vague indicator I won't argue its merits. But this is like a "it is raining, you might want to get to higher ground since there might be a flood" advice. Take it.. with a mighty large grain of salt (you know, a grain with a BMI of "morbidly obese").

All this because of a flickr set I stumbled on through a metafilter post:

Illustrated BMI Categories - in which someone has taken the time to collect very casual and normal photos of people and then tag them with their respective BMIs. What you'll find is a lot of "normal" looks pretty damn skinny and "deathly" could very well replace the term "underweight" for BMIs under 18.5. Nevertheless, "Obese" sometimes really is obese.

This got me going, since my BMI hovers right at 25 - the line between "normal" and "overweight".. I'd agree that this guy is carrying more fat than is healthy, but I wonder about muscle vs. fat all the time.

Most Interesting, I think, was a study I found linked in the comments of the metafilter post that was reported in the New England Journal of Medicine entitled Overweight, Obesity, and Mortality in a Large Prospective Cohort of Persons 50 to 71 Years Old (Warning: PDF). The researchers found that men with BMIs between 25 and 30 - the overweight category - were, on average, less likely to experience premature death than men in the normal category. This was not as true for women - which I find interesting as it perhaps shows that BMI is more suited to women than to men (perhaps related to the fact that women, as a general rule, have higher fat % of body weight compared to men). Here is the summary data in chart form.

* me

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Michael considered fate at 19:14   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment


Can you say The Gay Ship Galatea??

                    ... not that there is anything wrong with that!

Michael considered fate at 13:54   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment

You could sail-tape... or you could get yourself a proper sail to last you another 20 years! 

I plan to stitch it up myself this winter, as I'ma gonna get another 20 years out of it.. or I'm going to sail until she blows out, and then worry about getting a new one.. 
Sadly, after getting it repaired at a sail loft, the 20 year old genny went and tore itself again. On the second sail of the season, even. This was ultimately my fault, I guess, considering that we hit the bay with 20 knot winds gusting to almost 30. The sail isn't in the greatest shape after so many years of abuse and it didn't help that the inexperienced crew wasn't quick to control it.


Oh well. Live and learn. I've been managing it for the last few months with the tear and it hasn't gotten worse (yet). If I was really smart I'd sail-tape.. but then I'm as lazy as sin.

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Michael considered fate at 18:11   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment

No joke, when I worked at a Whole Foods in boulder colorado (can you guess who this is?), we HAD to buy our Celestial Seasonings from the Whole Foods Distribution company, which meant it got shipped to us from Texas. What we weren't allowed to do was buy it directly from the factory which was about 5 miles away, which would have saved the trucking of all that tea from boulder to austin and back to boulder.
It was also VERY difficult to get local producers on the shelves, I had never thought about it in terms of the 365 brand hegemony but it makes sense.
On the subject of 365 brand shit, let me tell you I used to open up boxes of 365 stuff sometimes that had been mislabeled with Safeway Brand stickers. Which means that that same damn generic company make the same damn product and just labels it differently. I am not saying this is true for all products, but certainly many of them are like that.
Oh yeah, I didn't make anything close to 13$/hour, that must be a new policy. 

Yah, I had to ask myself if I believed every Whole Foods worker in this world is making at least $13/hr and I honestly can't believe it. To bad the local producers don't count as employees. 

sam! it was sam!

and not schwartz's, monkey! they sell smoked meat. i think you are thinking of warshaw. 
For a relatively new local Portland, ME rag, the Bollard really impressed me with their latest fall 2007 issue (warning: PDF) centering around big organic retailer Whole Foods. Of note here is the fairly large price disparity between locally produced products and those from Whole Food's brand 365, among others. At first glance I could think up some excuses, like the local producers charge WFoods a lot more, but through some interesting reporting we learn that the further you dig the more questions you find, and the dirtier everything seems.

Acting as bullpen cleanup for the bigger main article, a second article on the economy grocery chain Save-A-Lot points out many great ideas that you won't see implemented at Whole Foods. I'll be honest, this one had me feeling nostalgic for the long-gone Schwartz's Warshaw's of St. Laurent in Montreal, where recycled cardboard box-as-grocery bag was a way of life. Gave me more warm and fuzzies than anything I read about Whole Foods, that's for sure.

An older article from March 2006 in Salon covered a lot of gripes about Whole Foods, too. If you read all three here, and the plight of the small farmer gets your blood pumping, you might find this previous post interesting:
Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal - a diatribe on our over-regulated, highly bureaucratic government with respect to the small American farmer who is just trying to get by.

Michael considered fate at 12:11   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
You learn something new everyday. Surprisingly, I'd never heard of 1000 Islands, an area on the St. Lawrence Seaway straddling New York and Ontario.


This area is probably about a three hour drive from Montreal, on the way towards Toronto, and yet I still never heard anybody talk about it. Either they're trying to keep a secret or I wasn't paying very close attention. Point being, there is some beautiful scenery:


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Check out heroecs, the robotics team competition website of my old supervisor's daughter. Fun stuff!
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