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I can’t remember the last time that I truly experienced fabulous journalism in The Seattle Times, but here it is. Rebekah Denn details the story of a local energy bar maker who finds how difficult it is to control his product in, to borrow Denn’s vernacular, the industrial-food chain. After salmonella contamination was found in peanuts, this producer decided to get his peanuts from a small local peanut producer in would-you-believe Western Washington. Not a place known for growing peanuts. I highly recommend the article.

TWO MILES from the Kingston factory where Lunde hand-cuts his Caveman bars is an incongruous sight for Washingtonians: a small, family-owned peanut factory.

Clark and Tami Bowen run the certified-organic “micro-roastery,” CB’s Nuts, with — literally — an open door. Anyone walking into the remodeled fire station can peer from the small retail area to the factory floor, watching the peanuts move from enormous hanging cloth storage bags to the carefully tended roaster to the other stages of processing and packing.

“These guys were a lifesaver,” Lunde says, dropping by CB’s one day on the way to work. Their nuts smell better than any others, he says. They look better, more golden and robust. They taste better — a lot better.

“It’s night and day by comparison,” Lunde says. “At CB’s, I can actually go down and see what they’re doing.”

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Quote for the day

I’m often interrogated about being vegetarian (e.g., “What if you find out that carrots feel pain, too? Then what’ll you eat?”).

I’ve also been afraid to feel as if I know better than someone else — a historically dangerous stance (I’m often reminded that “Hitler was a vegetarian, too, you know”). But this book reminded me that some things are just wrong.

Natalie Portman’s column on the HuffingtonPost.

It’s a guilty pleasure reading the celebrity columns on HuffingtonPost. I usually don’t find fault with the ideas just the execution. Some of them are so unbelievably badly written. Not a fan of Jamie Lee Curtis or Alec Baldwin, but I like Steven Weber. Sometimes the celebrity you least think of as a good writer surprises you, as was the case with this column by Rob Thomas.

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lolcats1

Nearly seven months ago the Seattle Post Intelligencer newspaper converted to an online-only news source. So how’s that going? Judging by the fact that they’re looking to LOL cats to save the day, I’d say not so good.

Today seattlepi.com begins to feature content from the blockbuster site, where site users both submit the funny photos and decide which are good enough to make it to the home page.

By way of introduction, we asked Ben Huh, CEO of Cheezburger Network, formerly Pet Holdings, Inc., to explain what this “lolcat” thing is all about.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

lolcats2

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Bye bye gourmet

I am very saddened to hear that Conde Nast is getting rid of Gourmet magazine. I have so many favorite recipes from Gourmet. Some of my favorites include tarte tatin, chicken liver mousse and fondue. I used to get both Bon Appetit and Gourmet.

While the recipes in Bon Appetit were always nice, the writing in Gourmet was always superior. I remember a great article on eating marrow, or the one about eating a sheep’s head. They described eating things I would never eat in such an entertaining way that I felt like I was able to experience the sensation without actually experiencing it.

This is very sad news. The following excerpt really says it all:

Not only did Bon Appetit have more readers, according to recent statistics from the magazines’ media kits, Gourmet had circulation of 950,000 copies while Bon Appetit had 1.3 million readers. Additionally, Gourmet had a reputation of being a very expensive magazine to run, featuring long articles by well-known writers while Bon Appetit was focused on much more economical, recipe-driven content.

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Headline of the day

aurora

As long as we’re using a deadly pandemic disease to describe prostitutes, it might behoove us to acknowledge that the headline could also very well be “Aurora ‘plagued with johns'” or “Aurora ‘plagued’ with men wanting to pay for sex.” These women wouldn’t be there without paying customers.

As an aside, I think Seattlepi.com has been mostly a failure in a journalistic sense. I’m not reading anything nearly as interesting in their pages since they went online only. I do noticed that the Seattletimes has gotten a little worse too now that they don’t have any competition. Having said that the Times seems to have made a good choice to hook up with existing neighborhood blogs rather than doing what the PI did which is ask the community for volunteer bloggers.

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Here’s an article on Slate to completely depress you. I’m so glad we have our freedoms.

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Here is a very strange op-ed in the L.A. Times. A man writes a tribute to his now dead father. His father is responsible for his son being able to walk.

He then tells us how he watched his father die when he came upon his dad and another woman having sex on the kitchen floor while his mom was in the hospital. Heart attack. The writer also talks about the time his father bought boxing gloves for him and proceeded to beat his son to a bloody pulp. At the age of 13. Oh and then there was that time when he duct-taped his son to a kitchen chair and then turned on the electric knife and pointed it at his son.

Well I guess we all have heart-warming stories like that to share on fathers day. Not.

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I would maybe have added some expletives, but this guy is pissed off too.

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ESPN Sucks

I spent a very interesting evening at a pub watching the fucking College World Series of baseball with teams Arkansas and Virginia. Why? Because ESPN has purchased exclusive rights to broadcast the Seattle Sounders games for the rest of the soccer season yet that purchasing decision did not lead them to make any other changes to their broadcast schedule, meaning a game as insignificant as the playoffs for the College World Series of baseball being played in lovely Omaha, Nebraska was shown in Seattle while the Sounders game was not. They estimated that baseball game would be over by 7:30, but it went into extra innings.

ESPN were nice enough to occasionally show us clips of the match we were missing. But only several minutes after the goals happened. Let me tell you Arkansas and Virginia both suck. They were in the 12 inning before they finally ended that thing. I saw a guy slide for home who was tagged at least 3 yards from the plate. Slides don’t really work in those situations. Then I saw the catcher and the pitcher both miss a pop-up by a few feet. One of them you can understand, but both?

I will say it was a bonding experience for those in the pub. We were all united in our wish for someone, anyone, so help me god please, Arkansas, Virginia, who cares, just scoring to end our nightmare. We also were listening to the audio of the game and it was kind of funny to watch us all hesitate trying to figure out what was happening before cheering for the goal. It was really funny actually.

At the beginning of the Seattle Sounders Expansion season, you could watch the full soccer games on broadcast television. But I guess once ESPN smelled the aroma of the Seattle Sounders fan base, they thought they might be able to profit from it. I’d like to also mention that some people can watch matches on ESPN360.com. But only if you have an ISP that ESPN approves of. In this case Verizon. What a load of shit. That’s got to be illegal surely.

In any case, we lost due to an own-goal. Very depressing.

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A picture is worth a thousand words.

cnniran

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Quote for the day

For all the mockery over empathy, look at what happens to right-wing figures in those rare cases when they become personally affected by the ideology they advocate.  They quickly abandon it.  Dick Cheney objects to the injustice of gay inequality because his daughter is burdened by it.  Nancy Reagan deviates from social conservative dogma to become a leading advocate of stem-cell research because she suffered through her husband’s Alzheimers.  Jane Harman instantaneously transforms from Surveillance State authoritarian to raving civil libertarian upon learning that her own telephone conversations were intercepted by the government.  They advocate their views up until the point that it begins adversely affecting not only others, but also themselves.

I can’t recommend enough this column by Glenn Greenwald on Salon. Read the whole thing here.

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This is a beauty. Via ThinkProgress.

reagan

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messy

BEDFORD, Ohio — An Ohio man who argued with his grown son over a messy bedroom says he overreacted when he called 911.

Ahhh, memories of my youth. Granted I wasn’t an adult like this guy in the story, but I remember being 16 and having to knock through the kitty door in order to get into my house. I had forgotten my keys, something I always did as a kid. Well my dad took my car keys away from me for good for that infraction. So in protest I threw my clothes all around my room. My dad then called my mom and asked whether or not he could put me in juvenile hall because I had gone “crazy.”

Ahh, it’s so funny now.

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headline1

Great, the people with the most incentive to not have children can actually control whether or not they have children.

headline3

I’m getting the idea that national security had nothing to do with opposing the release of these memos; they were trying to save their asses.

headline4

Umm, yeah. Couldn’t have said it better.

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “LOON WATCH: Right-wing bets against U…“, posted with vodpod

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I picked up a copy of the magazine Essense because Michelle Obama and her mother Marian Robinson were on the cover. I’m really impressed with this magazine. I’m not really sure what the non-ethnic specific magazine’s counterpart would be, but it’d definately not Vogue, Cosmopolitan or Vanity Fair. Maybe Womens World? I can’t say because I never read Womens World.

What I found that I liked about the magazine was that it was very empowering. Most of the articles deal with issues for self-improvement of some sort, but that self-improvement is really focused on Black (which they always capitalize) women — not how improving oneself can benefit your man or some other person. The health articles aren’t particularly vain which is one thing that I detest in so-called “health” magazines like Self where the whole magazine is how can I spend hours a day making myself beautiful for othe vain people.

Let me give you a selection of what this May 2009 edition includes:

1. An article on women entrepeneurs and what they did to get ahead.

2. 9 Ways to go Green. Here’s an excerpt. “Though many of us don’t fully relate to the green movement, we stand to benefit the most from it. More than 70 percent of Blacks live in counties in violation of federal air pollution standards.”

3. Our News. Witty humor about current event issues that deal with the Black community.

4. The Good Fight. An article bout Reverend Roy Malveaux fighting an oil refinery in his neighborhood.

And of course there’s that Michelle Obama/Marian Robinson interview. Good magazine.

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And quite convincingly. If you’ve been riveted by the story of the artist who created the iconic Obama hope portrait who is now being sued by the Associated Press then you need to see this. There is a PDF link on the this web site which takes you to the counterclaim prepared by Fairey’s lawyers. The following excerpt is followed by numerous examples of the AP attempting to sell photographs of artists’ works without permission.

Defendant’s counterclaims are barred in whole or in part by the equitable doctrine of unclean hands. Specifically, The AP claims copyright ownership in, and makes commercial use of, many photographs that consist almost entirely of copyrighted artwork of Fairey and other artists without permission. Copies of these photographs are offered for sale and licensed for use by The AP through its image licensing database available at http://www.apimages.com. These photographs include, but are by no means
limited to, the following examples:

a. The AP’s image database includes the following photograph of Fairey’s Obama Hope Mural. The AP did not obtain a license to use Fairey’s work in this photograph.

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I’m not generally a person who reads true crime books, but I am very tempted to purchase this book about Columbine.

The first lesson is really one that we have unlearned, which is that there actually isn’t a distinct psychological profile of the school killer. Pre-Columbine, teachers, parents, journalists, and the general public were pretty clear on where we thought the danger lay: loners and outcasts, troubled misfits who could not figure out how to fit in. Harris and Klebold were mistakenly tagged with all those characteristics in the first hours after their attack. Every characterization of them was wrong, both in their case and for shooters generally. The FBI conducted a ground-breaking study to help teachers assess threats in their classrooms. Oddballs were not the problem, the FBI concluded. Oddballs did not fit the profile, because there was no profile. In a surprisingly empathetic report, the bureau urged school administrators to quit focusing on the misfits. These were not our killers, and weren’t they having enough trouble already?

The Secret Service and U.S. Department of Education studied every American school shooting from 1974 to 2000—37 separate attacks—and reached the same conclusion. Shooters came from all ethnic, economic, and social classes. Most had no history of violence and came from solid, two-parent homes.

They had a few things in common. All were male. Ninety-eight percent had suffered a recent loss or failure. It could be as minor as blowing a test or getting dumped, yet they perceived it as serious. But they didn’t lash out in a fit of passion: That notion is another insidious myth. Ninety-three percent planned their attacks in advance.

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It’s mental illness

With the recent trend of senseless massacres in the U.S. (seven in the past month according to AP), the MSNBC headline reads “Experts: Many motives drive mass murder.”

Mass murderers are as different as their killing field — be it a nursing home or a suburban home — and as diverse as their reasons for killing — whether it’s spousal betrayal or the loss of a job.

But experts say most people who embark on such wholesale slaughter share certain key characteristics: A catastrophic event that triggers a suicidal rage and an unquenchable thirst to get even.

And there is often no way to see it coming.

The article would have you believe anyone — anyone at all — is capable of these horrific crimes. Kind of makes you eye that neighbor a little differently.

Meanwhile at The Stranger, Charles Mudede is actually making sense.

What is missing in each of these reports of recent killings is as any mention of mental illness. What’s the meaning of this hole in the reporting? Why is mental illness something that is unspeakable or is transmuted into its opposite: a man just dealing with unemployment, a man just dealing with infidelity, a man just dealing with the current economic crisis? Meaning, these killers were only dealing with normal problems and nothing else. As a consequence, there is no real difference between the killers and any other person in society. Why this insistence on normality and this resistance to causes that might be medical or biological?

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Circumcision should be routinely considered as a way to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections, argue US experts.

They spoke out after research found circumcision significantly cut the risk of infection with herpes and the cancer-causing human papillomavirus.

Circumcision is known to sharply reduce the risk of HIV infection.

But the study, featured in the New England Journal of Medicine, failed to convince UK experts.

Yeah, no kidding. People in Africa must think Americans are a strange people given their obsession with (pardon the following) surgically removing the foreskins of an entire continent of men.  I loved this quote from the BBC.

Dr Colm O’Mahony, a sexual health expert from the Countess of Chester Foundation Trust Hospital in Chester, said the US had an “obsession” with circumcision being the answer to controlling sexually transmitted infections.

Is there some sort of circumcision lobby of doctors who perform this procedure on (gulp) adult men? If so, can I buy stock in it? This is bordering on pathological.

Dr O’Mahony also said pushing circumcision as a solution sent the wrong message.

“It suggests that it is women who infect innocent men – let’s protect the innocent men.

“And it allows men who don’t want to change their irresponsible behaviour to continue to sleep around and not even use a condom.”

Exactly. And just a reminder that Africans aren’t falling for it.

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A few selections were revealed on Tuesday. Initially an underdog for the nation’s highest office, the president went with favorites in his Final Four picks. No. 1 seeds Louisville, North Carolina and Pittsburgh will join No. 2 Memphis in Detroit April 4-6 if the president is correct.

More including a video at ESPN.

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Layoffs

This week several people were laid off at my work. I was spared. While I would like to think that it is because I am a good skilled worker and that my company would be unable to do without me, I know that that is not entirely true. There was to be certain an element of getting rid of low performers; however, not everyone who was eliminated fit that category. For instance, my closest colleague to be laid off was not a low performer at all.

My father says that he feels for my generation being thrust into the worst job market in decades, but I disagree. In the immediate aftermath the youth, and when I say that I mean under 40, are much better equipped to deal with the situation at hand. Who I worry about are my colleagues that were eliminated that gave 20 plus years to my company. The people whose skills are now almost entirely comprised of institutional knowledge that will do them little good elsewhere. What happens to them if they are too young (as many of them are) to retire? Where do they go? How do they begin again?

H1B Visas

And yet I do worry about the youth. This week I read Andrew Sullivan, a journalist who I suspect has never worked in the corporate world that so many of us are familiar with, talk about how the H1B Visa that allows foreign skilled workers to get green cards to work in the United States should be given out more generously rather than the Obama administration’s slight reduction. He further said that every foreign student who graduates from a American university should automatically be given permission to work in the U.S. Excuse me for saying this, but what an idiot. Here he quotes the Economist.

Chinese and Indian immigrants founded more than half of all high-tech companies in Silicon Valley. Immigrants co-founded Google, Intel, eBay and Yahoo. Immigrants contributed to more than a quarter of US global patent applications. Immigrant-founded companies employed 450,000 workers in 2006 and generated $52 billion in revenue.

Instead of trying to restrict the supply of H1B visas, why not increase it massively, starting by giving any foreigner who graduates from an American university the right to a visa. That might be exactly the long-term stimulus that the economy needs.

This is a rather rose colored view of what is happening. I suspect that these people have never had their jobs in danger of being taken by a foreign worker. If a green card was guaranteed by attendance at an American university I believe we would see a sharp increase in foreign student slots in our universities and foreign workers in our workforce.

The so-called “undesirable” jobs

When George W. Bush brought up immigration reform his speeches were colored with talk of immigrants accepting jobs that Americans did not want. I am sure there are many jobs that a typical American does not want, but I am sure a large element of why the jobs are not desirable is the amount of pay that a corporation is willing to offer. Given the expense of living in the U.S. and purchasing your own health insurance which these “undesirable” jobs no doubt require you to do, it is no wonder that many Americans do not want these jobs.

But while he touted the undesirable jobs, the real meat of his proposal was increasing the skilled H1B visas. These are jobs that Americans do want. These are jobs that a Computer Science college graduate would kill for. These are the jobs that are instead going to foreign workers while our college graduates become baristas at the nearest Starbucks.

I think the H1B visa is largely about keeping wages low. The H1B visa requires that any foreign worker make the same amount as their American citizen counterparts. Yet when you increase your job pool by two-fold the wages are not going to be as high.

The desirability of the foreign tech worker

There is no doubt that foreign workers are highly desirable for a reason. Let’s take the educational system in India and China (the largest recipients of H1B visas). These countries are churning out skilled tech industry workers who are ready to begin on day one. I presume (and I could be wrong) that their education is more practical and less theoretical than an American education in computer science. I once met a computer science major here who didn’t even know that the file extension of the code I was writing was significant.

America should be modeling our educational system on the education found in India and China, at least in technology, so that we can guarantee our youth also will be able to be part of the American dream. That they can become skilled laborers too and share the wealth.

Should we eliminate the H1B visas entirely? I think we all know that the H1B visa workers contribute amazingly to this country. Any mass elimination would be highly detrimental. And yet, I think that reducing the number of skilled foreign workers – especially in a time of mass unemployment – is the right move to make. I think an investment in our educational systems and a focus on boosting the skills of the American worker has to be our priority over increasing limits on H1B visas.

I welcome any respectful opposing arguments to the above. Feel free to tell me your story.

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Here’s an article in the Seattle PI about a proposed tunnel as a replacement to an elevated highway that currently exists.

The caption on the picture.

The tunnel option to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct would have two lanes in each direction and would extend from approximately South Royal Brougham Way to Harrison Street. This scenario also includes a pair of northbound and southbound one-way streets using Alaskan Way and Western Avenue.

A portion from the article.

The new four-lane highway also would be double-decked inside the tunnel, which would be bored under First Avenue and extend from the sports stadiums to Harrison Street, north of the Battery Street Tunnel.

And the picture:

Let me begin.

1. The picture obviously does not display a tunnel.

2. It isn’t double-decked.

3. There are 3 lanes of traffic on each side. Not 4 lanes. Even if we assume that they meant 2 lanes in each direction, which is what I believe is in the proposal, there are clearly 3 lanes on each side.

4. Both directions of traffic are on the same plane.

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