In re: Culture of life?

The Bush administration doesn’t budge very far on the issue of stem cell research, on the idea that the destruction of embryos is essentially murder, despite the constant disposal of them by fertility labs.  Yet while he can put a claim on his culture of life in this regards on the other side of the earth countless children (and of course many others) are dying as a direct result of a choice Bush has made.  However you feel about the ‘war’ I find it hard to reconcile the two different stances. 

“Close to 50,000 Iraqi civilians have died so far as a direct result of our invasion and occupation of their country, in order to liberate them. The numbers are actually increasing as the country slides into chaos: more than 6,500 in July and August alone. These numbers are from reliable sources and are not seriously contested.”
See an article on Slate “Bush’s faulty logic on stem-cell research”

In re: is hungry

G. Robbie, a good friend of the blog is always so helpful to give a gentle nudge when I’ve neglected posting for a few days, and he does so by telling me to ‘feed In re:’  Thankfully I’ve done a better job feeding Charlie, my dog, then In re:, so to G. Robbie and the other two of you sorry about the sparse posting.  Part of the reason for the decline was I had been out of town last weekend flying into Las Vegas and driving out to Zion Nat’l Park in Utah to visit my sister who works out there. 

I had a post in mind and I attempted to do it from Springdale, while lying on the bed and using my PDA (iPaq) which through the hotels wifi I thought I might be able to ‘mobile blog’ but the interface on wordpress.com doesn’t seem to get along well with the sparse browser on the iPaq. 

I’ve wanted to mention a few thoughts from that trip on here and a bunch of other newsworthy items, so I’ll try and get a few up today, before I head on another brief trip, this time to Cleveland to see family and my uncle play a concert.

I should also mention that G. Robbie thoughtfully includes a potential story to write about in his In re: is hungry emails, and this most recent one was about the demise of ESPN Mobile.  I had read various stories about the service, which had failed to attract the subscriber numbers it would need (they only got 30,000, had planned to have at least 300,000 by this point).  In any event they are shutting down the MVNO service (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) which meant they were utilizing the Sprint network but re-branding it and offering their own packages (other MVNOs are Virgin mobile, Boost, Amp’ed who pay other networks)

So my take on this is well it seemed a bit absurd to expect anyone but the craziest sports fan to want a cellphone that is branded ESPN, has an ESPN button in the middle, instead what would be more realistic (and what they are planning to do now) is get into the content side with another mobile operator, I bet a lot of people would pay to have a better sports score, news, etc. interface on their phones.  I know that when I was driving through Utah, trying to follow the Browns on my phone, there was a lot more that could be desired then the barebones WAP version of ESPN that I was reading. 

In re: Auto Cool or Auto Crap?

If you’ve spent anytime around a TV you might have seen an ad (I mainly remember seeing this in Spanish, on Gol TV while visiting my folks onetime) for the Auto Cool, a little solar powered fan that slips over your window and the makers claim cools down a parked car.  Now, I am a huge skeptic of infomercials and only available on this TV offer products in general, but this one looked particularly junkie and apparently it is based on the reviews at infomericalratings.com where I believe every single reviewer gave it one star, nice.

In re: Google News is in breach of author’s rights & data bank regulations.

If you haven’t used it, Google News isn’t actually a newsource as Reuters or AP is, it instead gathers source and presents a newspage that was automatically generated from others.  The page allows you to view particular stories from different news sources and is a pretty powerful tool if your interested in examining different coverages (for example seeing different countries views of an event).

Google News has not suffered any speed bumps that I know of in their US release and as they continued to add other countries.  The reason that they are alright is that they are essentially linking to the original source and providing only a little blurb.  A Brussels court however has decided that the Belgium version is a violation of the newspapers rights after a French language newspaper in Belgium sued Google.  Google has pledged to appeal and fight the ruling, and like their pending litigation in the US over Google books it seems Google is committed to standing for what they feel is ‘right’.
See “Brussels rules Google News in breach of author’s rights”

In re: Still there, credit card minimums

I posted a while ago on credit card minimums and how a friend of mine had run into some problems at a bar that wouldn’t take his credit card or would charge a fee.  Well a ‘friend’ of mine sent me an article and thought i should reset the piece, since this article explains a bit of the reason ma & pa shops try to skirt their credit card agreements and impose a minimum purchase on all those who won’t challenge them.   See “No ‘minimum purchase’ requirements allowed” for an explanation.

In re: Parker’s to close…

Sadly I learned recently that Parker’s New American Bistro, an amazing restaurant on Cleveland’s near west side is going to close at the end of the year.  The specialness of Parker’s is partly due to the expert preparation, but also largely due to the attention Parker pays to ingredients and their use of local ingredients.  Parker Bosley who has for a few years left the restaurant in the hands of others (who have continued to run it expertly), while Parker has been heavily involved in the movement towards local foods and the running local farmers markets.  I hope to dine at Parker’s a few more times before they close.

In our age of convenience, restaurant chains with complex and well maintained supply chains allow places like the Cheesecake factory to offer extensive menus and never fear that what you want will be out. (Note I myself have never been to the Cheesecake factory, but I have heard their menu is enormous – no criticism of them is implied).  However, these places have set ourselves up with the idea that everything should always be available and we have lost our sense of eating with the rhythms of the seasons and with the potential scarcity that things like weather can bring.  So to end I’ll put up from Parker’s menu their message concerning this, as likely some customers are unaccustomed to being told “Sorry we are out of that tonight!”

“Sorry we are out of that tonight!”
At Parker’s New American Bistro we believe this occasional bad news is actually good news – the proverbial blessing in disguise.  Because most of our food comes directly from farmers, we are dependent on nature, the weather and unstructured delivery systems, which are all part of the non-industrial food system we support. Although we do our best to predict our needs, our predictions and our farmer’s weekly deliveries occasionally fall short.

The good news in this dilemma is that you, our customer, know that you are receiving good food directly from its source. Parker’s deliberately chooses these foods over generic, convenience products that might very well be five or six days old before they reach your table.

True, the voice on the loud speaker at the drive-through window will never tell you they are out of your favorite product. They can serve everyone, anything 24 hours a day. They cannot, however, tell you the source or the system through which their products have been produced. We can.” (Parker’s New American Bistro Menu)

See story in Plain Dealer “Parker’s closing at year’s end”

In re: Hail Cesar? Some say no…

If you haven’t heard of or seen the Dog Whisper by now your probably in the minority as even non dog owning folks (and fans of makeover shows) seem to love the former illegal immigrant Cesar Milan who became a celebrity with his dog ‘psychology’ (no formal training here). His show is impressive in his ability to turn around extremely troubled dogs and their owners (often it seems they are not getting enough exercise).

Countless people are devoted to him and his training methods which counter almost everything that positive reinforcement dog training has taught us.  Instead he uses the idea of ‘pack leader’ or ‘alpha male’ to create what he says is the natural hierarchy where the dog will become passive submissive.  Of course many people say this isn’t the natural order and that our dogs have been bred by humans for 15,000 years.

In August a NY Times editiorial ‘Pack of Lies‘ tore into Cesar and his methods.  Many experts have agreed that his methods are not appropriate, but most recently I came across an interesting Slate article ‘Will the Dog Whisperer’s techniques cure my sociopathic beagle?‘ The results of her attempts to apply Cesar’s technique were impressive and dramatic.  In some way I tend to agree with Cesar and the Slate article in that sometimes it sounds like we are trying to think dogs are people, with complex motives and emotions, rather than as an ‘animal’  “which have led to seeing each dog as an individual, to understand what motivates it, what frightens it and what its talents and limitations are” (quote from the NY Times article – referring to dogs).  As with homeopathic medicine, sometimes people love to go against what the ‘experts say’ and go with something else, and in this case who knows, maybe Cesar is on to something?  Maybe we’ve gotten to sucked into making our dogs human. 

On a side note, I thought I’d mention that Charlie, my chocolate lab has been doing quite well, I don’t think I’ve slid down the route to treating him like a person and being a bad ‘pack leader’ although he does have about five stuffed toys now (cat, duck, pheasant, cow, moose) so maybe I have gone off the deep end?