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Ontario Empoblog

Ontario Emperor Blog
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Wednesday, December 17, 2003

One or Two More Depeche Mode Albums?
From the Redlands Daily Facts (an article about 101):

A 15-year gap has passed since the tour, which broke the band in America....But after the Songs of Faith and Devotion Tour, Wilder left the band, Gahan had a publicized battle with drug addiction, Gore had a brain seizure and Fletcher had a nervous breakdown.

The three remaining members have continued as a group, with work on a new CD set to commence in April, but where it goes from there is anyone's guess.

"Creatively, we think we have one or two albums left in us to keep the quality high," Fletcher says.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2003

The "Ali" Score Has Me Going Again
I rarely go to theaters (or theatres, if Eddykins et al are reading this), but I made an exception to see the Michael Mann/Will Smith film Ali. While viewing the film, I was captivated by the song that was played while Ali jogged through Zaire, and when he beat George Foreman. After some investigation, I found out that the song was "Tomorrow (Sadio)" by Salif Keita, and I ended up buying his Papa album so that I could play the song (and others) over and over.

Well, tonight I was playing my DVD of the Ali movie, and I'm trying to track down another song. This is the song (in A minor) that is played while Ali is riding the subway, ignoring those around him. The song is some sort of hybrid electronic soul (imagine Dave Gahan, Martin Gore, and Alan Wilder being born black in Detroit in 1948). I've checked the sound samples from both the Ali soundtrack and the Ali score, but haven't had any luck. I'll keep on searching.

By the way, during my search I found several reviews of the Ali film, including ones by Shimes, Anna Dzenis, and Matt Easterbrook. Enjoy.

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D.A. Pennebaker on Depeche Mode
From a 1998 article:

There are three guys: Alan [Wilder] was never really part of the original group, and I think he's out of it now, but he was the consummate musician of the group, so they all turned to him to see that they played the right chords and whatnot. But they really were just three working-class kids who came from a little place outside of London, and they had all grown up together and gone to the same school, and they had doped out together. They had no manager, so they really managed themselves. I mean, they had this guy from Mute Records who would advise them on certain things, but he basically just liked them. He didn't try to tell them what to do or anything. But they had figured out this incredible system for making money where all of their stuff was on a pre-recorded tape, so they didn't need drummers or the rest of the band. And there were really only two of them, because one of them, his keyboard wasn't even plugged in, since he was such a terrible musician. So it was really just two of them doing all this....

And here's something from a 2003 article:

In 1988, Depeche Mode invited Pennebaker and Hegedus to make 101 because they'd seen Don't Look Back....Tipping the scales at just over two hours...101 is indeed big. Possibly even too big. "I thought it should be long, and to this day many people say it's too long," says Pennebaker. "I might be one of them," murmurs Hegedus. But they both agree that Depeche Mode made perfect clients, trusting the film-makers to shoot whatever they wanted and never trying to impose conditions. It's difficult to imagine many major acts following suit in this era of airbrushed image control and kneejerk litigation.

"Often you get the management saying 'you can't do this', and then you have to abandon the film because it's impossible to do it," says Pennebaker. "But we could see Depeche taking all kinds of chances, and it encouraged us to take chances too. The only thing they said was 'you're not going to make us into Spinal Tap, are you?'"

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Fake Interview unrelated to Saddam Hussein
While we're at it, here's a fake interview of "Britney's boyfriend" and the other members of N'Sync. From rootnode.org.

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Fake Interview about Saddam Hussein
deadbrain.com has recorded Britney Spears' reaction to Saddam Hussein's capture at a website which includes the words "satire," "spoof," and "parody."

"I'm so gigantically relieved they finally captured that scary bearded guy!" Spears said, while having Band-Aids applied to her nipples for an MTV appearance later that day. "He's, like, all gnarly and stuff! I've even had nightmares about him – but he looked a lot more like Justin in those."

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Fake Interview with Saddam Hussein
Some people are convinced that the US did not capture Saddam Hussein, but an imposter. One article notes that:

Many Arabs who saw Saddam as a champion of Arab rights did not want to believe it was really him in custody.

“If it were really Saddam, he would have resisted capture. But if in the end, it is proven that it is really him then these pictures are humiliating for every Arab and Muslim,” said Yemeni salesman Ali al-Zebaidi. “I still think the pictures are of a Saddam look-alike. They don’t prove it’s really him,” added fellow Yemeni Badr Obadi.

While this may irritate Americans, think how Saddam must feel about this. He makes a statement to someone, and that someone doubts that it was Saddam who made the statement.

See the December 16 entry in the KOER blog for the consequences of this view.

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Thursday, December 11, 2003

Hiking Website
Found this listed in Seb's Blog.

localhikes.com lists a number of hiking trails in major metropolitan areas. For example, here is their listing of a Wier (sic) Canyon hike, including a map and pictures.

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You Do NOT Equate Trista and Ryan to My Favorite President
From today's Denver Post (Bill Husted):

Ryan Sutter and Trista Rehn are finally married. Enough already.

The "Bachelorette" couple has brought a lot of good publicity to Vail, where Sutter is a firefighter. So what does the town give the couple for a wedding present? An official 2-foot-diameter, 52-pound, $295 Town of Vail manhole cover....

"We thought the manhole cover would be an appropriate and suitable gift," says Suzanne Silverthorn, info officer for the Town of Vail and gift chooser. "We wanted to stay away from anything that has a return possibility or a duplicate possibility. They have become Vail celebrities and we are treating them as such."

She's not kidding. The town has given away only two other manhole covers: One was to President Gerald Ford and the other to the New York Philharmonic when it was there last summer. It's like getting the keys to the city. Says one well-wisher: "May their marriage last as long and be as strong as a Vail manhole cover."

[12/28/2006 - my del.icio.us tags for Gerald R. Ford Jr. are here.]

But France is Cleaner Than The US...
From the Transparency International Bribe Payers Index 2002:

Transparency International Bribe Payers Index 2002

835 business experts in 15 leading emerging market countries were asked: In the business sectors with which you are most familiar, please indicate how likely companies from the following countries are to pay or offer bribes to win or retain business in this country?

A perfect score, indicating zero perceived propensity to pay bribes, is 10.0, and thus the ranking below starts with companies from countries that are seen to have a low propensity for foreign bribe paying. All the survey data indicated that domestically owned companies in the 15 countries surveyed have a very high propensity to pay bribes - higher than that of foreign firms.


1Australia 8.5
2 Sweden 8.4
Switzerland 8.4
4 Austria 8.2
5 Canada 8.1
6 Netherlands 7.8
Belgium 7.8
8 United Kingdom 6.9
9 Singapore 6.3
Germany 6.3
11 Spain 5.8
12 France 5.5
13 USA 5.3
Japan 5.3
15 Malaysia 4.3
Hong Kong 4.3
17 Italy 4.1
18 South Korea 3.9
19 Taiwan 3.8
20 People's Republic of China 3.5
21 Russia 3.2

Domestic companies 1.9

"The BPI results signal the rejection by multinational firms of the spirit of international anti-bribery conventions, while their actions lead to a huge misallocation of very scarce resources in developing countries," said TI Advisory Council Chairman Kamal Hossain at a press conference in Hong Kong. "The data also points to very heavy bribe-paying by domestic firms in developing countries. Today's BPI underscores the fact that we have a global problem of corporate bribe-paying that demands concerted global actions by official international organisations, civil society organisations and national governments," he said.

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Nigerian Corruption Crackdown
From the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

LAGOS, 5 Dec 2003 (IRIN) - President Olusegun Obasanjo has fired his Labour Minister, Hussaini Akwanga, over allegations that he took bribes to approve the award of a major government contract to a French electronics group....The French electronics company SAGEM won a US $214 million contract two years ago to produce national identity cards for Nigeria. Akwanga was the top bureaucrat in the Ministry of Internal Affairs at the time. He and several other officials are alleged to have taken large bribes to approve the deal....

The Commonwealth Business Forum was part of preliminary activities to the opening of the Commonwealth Head of Government’s Meeting in the capital Abuja this weekend. The summit, attended by Britain's Queen Elizabeth, opened on Friday with 54 leaders from Britain and its former colonies in attendance.

"I find it an unusual coincidence that Obasanjo chose a time when Nigeria was in the spotlight, with so many international visitors around, to fire the minister," said Banji Akerele, a banker and financial analyst. "Certainly there was an intention to give maximum advertisement to this public chastising of a minister over corruption."

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MALDEF Only Partially Supports Boycott
From MALDEF's web site

MALDEF officials support the idea of a Dec. 12 economic stoppage by Latinos in California in order to demonstrate what the state’s economy would look like without Latinos, an activity organized by Latino groups, including Hermandad Mexicana and MAPA, to denounce the repeal of the driver’s license law SB60. However, as educational advocates who have fought hard to achieve equality of educational opportunity, for example, by lengthening the school calendar year for Latino students, they were unable to support the idea of keeping children from attending school.

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If It's Successful, Traffic Will Be A Breeze Tomorrow
From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Boycott planned over license bill
Protest organizers ask Latinos not to shop or work on Dec. 12

Jose Antonio Vargas, Chronicle Staff Writer Friday, December 5, 2003

...Latino immigrants -- angered by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's repeal on Wednesday of the driver's license bill that would have given illegal immigrants the right to drive -- will participate in a planned "boycott": a one-day economic strike in which Latinos are encouraged to not go to work, school or buy anything...."This could very much shut down many businesses," said Nativo Lopez, president of the Los Angeles-based Mexican American Political Association, one of many Latino organizations across the state that called for the boycott...."We are the fulcrum, the lever, of the state's economy, and we intend to shake that fulcrum. This strike will only be the first of many in the next few months."

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Wednesday, December 10, 2003

While We're At It...
Quote from the movie Tunnel Vision:

Tom Davis (to Al Franken): Well, don't worry about your breath or your armpits, Al. It's your personality that stinks.

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Al Franken On His Impressions of Paul Simon and Others
From Al Franken at the National Press Club, February 28, 2002:

MR. AUBUCHON: I think we talked in the introduction about some of your others. But who's the easiest person you ever did an impression of in your SNL days? Who was the easiest?

MR. FRANKEN: I have this odd thing which is I do a certain small set of impressions. I'm not someone like Daryl Hammond or Dana Carvey, who can do like an incredible number of impressions. So I've only done maybe, you know, a handful. Strom Thurmond is fun to do, because he has that cracker accent that doesn't really exist in America anymore -- (laughter) -- because it's died out. (Laughter.) And I loved during the Anita Hill hearings when he couldn't hear her, and he was saying, "Are you talking (in the machine?" (Laughter.) Talk in the machine, I can't hear you -- talk in the machine." (Laughter.) He -- I think he's going to make it. (Laughter.) You know, Norm Ornstein, a friend of mine who is the resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, believes the Republicans may be pulling a "Weekend at Bernie's" kind of thing -- (laughter) -- with Strom. You know, I don't know if that's true.

Paul Tsongas was an odd one to do. I remember Dana Carvey wanted to do Paul Tsongas. I used to write a lot of the political stuff on the show. And we had a two-week break, and I sort of went off and said, "Okay, what's Tsongas about?" And I started doing him. I came back and I said, "Dana, can I do him?" And Tsongas was kind of a cross between -- he was Snagglepuss with, like, a New England accent. So it was like -- (imitates Paul Tsongas). So he was a fun guy to do. (Laughter.)

And Paul Simon probably was the easiest because Paul, who I love, has my timber. So he had the -- and spoke -- very -- deliberately -- and was from southern Illinois. And God bless him. We were just -- Clarence and I were just talking about how my impression really harmed him. (Laughter.)

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Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Ignoring Motiviational Banners
(YOU CAN DO IT!) Many organizations post motivational banners to inspire their employees. (EVERY SECOND COUNTS!) The theory is that the employees will see the banner, and will respond with the correct behavior. (IGNORE THE NONESSENTIALS!) If the employees see the banners enough, the effect is supposed to be subliminal. (DON'T LET OTHERS TELL YOU WHAT IS IMPORTANT!) However, jaded employees can immediately identify such motivational banners. (DON'T WASTE TIME READING THESE!) Wary of propaganda, the employees "tune out" the motivational banners or, if they are angry at the employer, end up doing the opposite of what the banners suggest. (IGNORE MOTIVATIONAL BANNERS!)

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Monday, December 08, 2003

From Jefferson to Albright
Found a list of former U.S. Secretaries of State (foreign ministers), with links to biographies of each.

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Name One...OK, I Will
From maris.gr: A dynamic treatment for those who demand instant results. Pressotherapy combats cellulite by flushing out toxins, thus deterring toxin retention.

From the Shanghai Star: Colonic treatment involves allowing a nurse to insert a tube into your rear end and flush out all the toxins that have accumulated there.

herbcorner.net: Actually, I talking about Deep Tissue Stone Therapy. Using hot basalt stones and cold marble stones, wonderful thermal gymnastics happen in your soft tissue....The hotter the better, tho, as the heat quickly penetrates deep into the tissue causing it to relax, allowing blood to flow more freely, flushing out toxins that have built up and bringing in fresh oxygen and nutrients.

lronhubbard.org: Clear Body, Clear Mind: The Effective Purification Program is the comprehensive text that explains in detail the exact procedures of the Purification program, covering every aspect necessary to DO the program. Here are just some of the subjects contained in this text: ...Flushing out toxins...

Unfortunately, none of these sites lists the specific toxins that are eliminated by these therapies. This is unfortunate. Perhaps someone should supply this missing piece of the puzzle. Perhaps a spurious institute in a suburb of Portland, Oregon could supply this information. Perhaps one of the toxins could be named after a Southern California grocery chain.

Stay tuned...

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It All Ties Together (The Politically Incorrect Online Store)
Here's a link to a CafePress online store for the University of Northern Colorado Fighting Whites intramural basketball team.

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More on Disk Drive Relationships
Here is a link to an L.A. Daily News article on the subject. Excerpt:

Under orders from the affirmative action office, county departments have surveyed about 1,000 pieces of equipment and taped over "master/slave" and put "primary/secondary" on the equipment, officials said.

Joe Sandoval, division manager of purchasing and contract services in the Internal Services Department, started the flap with a memo to electronic equipment vendors saying the county wants master and slave labeling removed from computer equipment it buys.

"The County of Los Angeles actively promotes and is committed to ensure a work environment that is free from any discriminatory influence be it actual or perceived," he wrote in the Nov. 18 memo.

"One such recent example included the manufacturer's labeling of equipment where the words 'Master/Slave' appeared to identify the primary and secondary sources. Based on the cultural diversity and sensitivity of Los Angeles County, this is not an acceptable identification label."...

Sandoval said a Probation Department employee complained to the Office of Affirmative Action Compliance that video equipment had the terms "master/slave" written on it.

As a result of the investigation, the affirmative action office said he should see whether the county could stop buying electronics with those labels on them....

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Appropriate Use of the Acronym "LOL"
This item (part of the 12/5/2003 Robert X. Cringely column in InfoWorld) literally had me laughing out loud:

Watch Your Language: In other news, Los Angeles County officials have urged vendors to stop using the term "master/slave" to describe technology where one device controls the actions of others, saying the term is racially insensitive. Rumor has it several hard drive makers are dropping the offending phrase from their documentation; new drives will now be labeled "dominant/submissive." (I’ll just apologize for this joke now and get it over with.)

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Saturday, December 06, 2003

Apart Together (Kissing the Outkasts)
I've been mulling this whole "solo albums by group members" thing.

Normally when members of a group start issuing solo albums, they're independent efforts that don't really have anything to do with what the main band is doing. Examples include the solo efforts of the Beatles prior to Abbey Road, Alan Wilder's Recoil project which started while he was still part of Depeche Mode, and Phil Collins' solo work while he was still a member of Genesis. Even the recent Martin Gore/Dave Gahan solo efforts are independent of Depeche Mode (no matter what the Depeche Mode website might have implied earlier in the year).

I've been racking my brain and can only think of two instances in which a music group coordinated simultaneous releases of solo albums by group members.

In 1978, KISS was riding a huge wave of popularity when they released four solo albums. The Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, Peter Criss, and Paul Stanley albums were released with similar album covers, and were all released on September 18, 1978. Ace Frehley clearly won the battle of the soloists (to this day the only song that I have heard from any of the four albums is Frehley's hit "New York Groove"), probably because (as noted here and elsewhere) he had only sung on two songs prior to his solo album release. In addition, "[t]here are a lot of weird sound effects that can be heard on the album which shows that Ace was willing to make the most of his solo effort by experimenting with different sounds." While the original lineup went on to record another album (Dynasty), Peter Criss only appeared on part of the album, and didn't appear on Unmasked at all. Peter Criss left KISS in 1980, followed by Ace in 1982. (Both would return several years later.)

The second example of coordinated solo releases is OutKast's "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below" project, and although it's too early to say what effect this will have on OutKast in general, there are a few things that can be noted. For one, while each of the members controlled their own albums, each artist lent production assistance to the other's set. In addition, this is not a case in which one or more of the band members needs to resort to a solo album to get his songs played (George Harrison, Andrew Ridgeley, Dave Gahan) - both Andre and Big Boi have contributed to OutKast's output. However, the double album does allow each individual to explore things that would be hard to explore otherwise; for example, Andre noted: "My album isn't really a hip-hop album but rather an album done by a hip-hop person....It's more melodic, more singing, and that's why I wanted to do it as a side project." Big Boi stated: "The best part of it was the challenge of writing a whole song without having Dre come grab the baton when it was time to pass it off."

Whether group members release solo albums in coordination or in frustration, it's interesting to hear what happens when (if) the group members get back together again. Many of us are watching Depeche Mode to see who ends up writing the songs on their next album...

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Accuracy in Media
Fascinating site: Everything is Connected. Excerpts from random surfing:

Shakira's platonic love as a teen was Kurt Cobain.
Melissa Auf Der Maur is an ex-girlfriend of Dave Grohl.
not only did Foo Fighters contribute the song "Breakout" to the soundtrack of "Me, Myself & Irene", but JIm (Carrey) joined them onstage at their second appearance on Saturday Night Live.
Paul (McCartney) and Kevin (Bacon) were once lovers.

Based on that last entry, it looks like I can add my false (?) assertion that Brian Eno is the illegitmiate son of Slim Whitman.

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Hey Ya! There's Nothing New Under the Sun
I rarely watch videos any more, primarily because MTV has apparently become a 24/7 channel for bad reality shows. However, I just found an online version of the Outkast video for "Hey Ya" (available via dotmusic.com). Although both the video and the audio were lo-fi (at least on this computer with this connection), it did look like a fairly good video. However, 90% of the strength is in the song itself; conceptually, the video is a combination of Paul McCartney's video for "Coming Up" and Billy Joel's video for "Tell Her About It." Frankly, in terms of Ed Sullivan video parodies,
Nirvana is still tops.

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On My To-Do List
Explore the weblog of Frank Showalter.

I got there because of an Alan Wilder reference. As I have already noted, Alan attended one of Dave Gahan's shows.

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Those Danged Brits
I had never heard this story before:

Marathon Man (1976)

While filming Marathon Man Dustin didn't sleep for days in order to create the weary look. This obviously did not go well in the eyes of Laurence Olivier who grew impatient of the modern (Method Man). - Scottman

Addition: In fact, Laurence Olivier became so irritated by Dustin Hoffman's "method acting" that, one day during filming, he asked Hoffman why he looked so terrible. Hoffman told him that he had stayed up all night to achieve the exhausted look of his character. Olivier quipped, "Try acting." - Gibborino

The story is also included in
an article in the Hindu newspaper, a comment by Brian Risselada at ymdb.com, and probably a ton of other places.

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An Era Is Over
http://www.mp3.com/oemperor/ cannot be found.

I started with mp3.com back in 1999, posting the mp3 "Days Summer Days" to the site in January of that year and releasing the four-song CD "Cheating at Solitaire" in February of that year. Back then my Macintosh didn't have CD-writing capability, so the facilities at mp3.com were much appreciated.

Forget Ontario Emperor for a moment: what about "Taco Taco Taco" by Doctor Orange?

I hope someone can come up with a financial proposition that will allow independent artists to publish their music on the web. I hope that the current proposals don't end up degenerating into a "we only want your music if everybody will like it" ho-hum.

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Nancy Reagan on the Reagan Dime
From today's Inland Valley Daily Bulletin:

Nancy Reagan voiced her opposition Friday to an attempt by Republican lawmakers to put Ronald Reagan's likeness on the dime in place of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

"While I can understand the intentions of those seeking to place my husband's face on the dime, I do not support this proposal and I am certain Ronnie would not," the former first lady said in a statement released Friday.

"When our country chooses to honor a great President such as Franklin Roosevelt by placing his likeness on our currency, it would be wrong to remove him and replace him with another," she said. "It is my hope that the proposed legislation will be withdrawn."

Although Nancy Reagan didn't allude to it, the fact that FDR was one of Ronald Reagan's early heroes, and a supporter of the New Deal, certainly influenced Nancy's assertion that "Ronnie would not" support the proposal.

Frankly, I still can't figure out why they agreed to let the airport be named after him...

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Friday, December 05, 2003

A Change to This Blog
While I was working on the Oppose Traffic Calming Obstructions web empire, I took a moment to make a change to this blog. Henceforth, only fourteen days' worth of posts will appear on the main page. Previous postings appear in the archives.

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Oppose Traffic Calming Obstructions
The Oppose Traffic Calming Obstructions web site has been created. In addition to a few reasons to oppose traffic calming (which will look familiar to Empoblog readers), the site includes a reposting of the song "Non Sequitur 15", a number of anti-traffic calming links, and even a blog that is solely dedicated to traffic calming issues.

About the music: The Ontario Emperor song "Non Sequitur 15" (mp3 format, 764K, 0:48) originally appeared on the CD Besieged, issued in October 2000 by mp3.com (R.I.P.). This was the only Ontario Emperor song from the mp3.com period that included lyrics. The lyrics: "Oppose traffic calming in Ontario California."

About the blog: The first couple of postings in the Oppose Traffic Calming Obstructions blog were obviously taken from this blog, the Ontario Empoblog. However, in the future I plan to place any traffic calming-related comments in the other blog.

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Thursday, December 04, 2003

Oppose Traffic Calming in Your Community
The Rational Motorists' Guide to Opposing Obstruction Strategies includes several tips for combating "traffic obstruction initiatives." Excerpts:

I. Know Thy Enemy
Traffic obstruction advocates are local residents, usually few in number, who have decided to rid their street of unwanted traffic....

II. Know Your Advantages
If you also live in the community and you can attend public meetings, your influence will be equal to or greater than your opponents'. Your presence puts elected officials on notice that they can't eliminate the source of their aggravation by appeasing the other side....

III. Know Your Allies
...Devices that physically impede vehicle speeds hinder emergency response services such as the police, EMTs, and fire trucks. These same devices create problems for public works departments, road maintenance crews, and delivery services....Representatives from such factions, combined with a few local residents, can provide formidable opposition to traffic obstruction projects.

V. Arguments Against Traffic Obstruction Devices
Traffic obstruction devices:
A. Can increase response time for emergency vehicles. When seconds matter, having to slow to pass over speed bumps and humps or navigate narrow roadways can mean the difference between life and death...
B. Can increase congestion on other streets and create problems in other neighborhoods....
C. Will increase vehicle wear and tear, air pollution, and noise....
D. Can increase street maintenance costs....
E. Increase a community's liability for accidents attributed to such devices.
F. May cause physical discomfort, even pain, for disabled persons or persons with physical ailments....
G. Create neighborhood friction....

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Oppose Traffic Calming in Ontario Canada (and other parts of Canada too)
The Canada Safety Council cites several dangers and other problems resulting from traffic calming. One specific example for Canadians: "Proponents cite studies from Australia and Europe. Canadian infrastructure, climate and transportation needs are quite different from these countries. In Canada, snow clearing and icing are critical issues. Public transit needs are different. Canadians travel relatively long distances on a regular basis."

Another example, filtered through a Canadian lens: "A delay of just one minute due to speed humps or congestion on narrowed roads can mean the difference between life and death. Inefficient traffic flow on an access route to a hospital puts lives at stake. Snow clearing problems associated with blocked-off streets and other traffic calming obstructions will increase delays in winter, when many home fires and medical emergencies occur. Liability issues associated with traffic calming are hardly ever considered."

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Reading on a Jet Plane
The advantage of sitting around in an airport or on a plane is that you can get some reading done.

St. Peter's Hospital in Albany, New York has an online job bidding website, which nurses can use to bid for shift work. According to BusinessWeek, "Nurses scan the available shifts, then post the hourly wage they would be willing to work for. The hospital reviews the bids, taking into consideration each nurse's skills and the number of hours already worked that week. The nurses usually hear back from the hospital within 24 hours."

The Tapwave Zodiac was cited by Stephen H. Wildstorm as an extreme example of the differences between Palm vs. Windows Mobile development. While PalmSource encourages divergence of platforms, leading to significant innovation but at a loss of compatibility (applications for a Tapwave Zodiac may not run on other Palm devices), Windows Mobile devices emphasize application compatibility, which results in a loss of innovation. Wildstorm's conclusion: "Compatibility is a good thing, but it can come at the price of dull conformity. Microsoft's strategy makes a lot of business sense, but I hope that, for the sake of consumer choice, PalmSource and its licensees can keep the experiments coming."

Warner Music Group is leaving the Time Warner fold. (By the way, AOL Time Warner has changed its name to Time Warner. (I really need to read more often.) Back to Warner Music Group: Edgar Bronfman Jr. and a group of investors bought the group for $2.6 billion, which will be privately held and thus not subject to the quarterly pressures that plague public companies. One major challenge will be "bloated artist deals" (Michael Jackson and Mariah Carey deals being cited as examples.) BusinessWeek notes that "Warner Music may soon have to contend with a costly deal...its longstanding partnership with Madonna and her Maverick Records."

According to an InfoWorld column by Ephraim Schwartz, Microsoft is pushing C# and the .Net framework in universities, resulting in graduates who are asking their employers to use those same tools. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that the companies would be locked into a Windows environment; Ximian (part of Novell) is working on the Mono Project, "an open source platform for building and deploying .NET applications on Linux and UNIX."

NetMeeting is being retired by Microsoft. The replacement will be Office Live Meeting (formerly known as PlaceWare).

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Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Roy Disney Resignation
I haven't really said anything about Roy Disney's resignation from Disney in this blog, but I have posted a comment at Michael Hanscom's Eclecticism blog.

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The Compromise
OK, I am forced to conclude that the best environment is one which is a combination of big and small business.

I guess that means that the world will be dominated by Amway salespeople. Frankly, I'd prefer a world dominated by Creative Memories salespeople, but that's my personal opinion. You can live in the Amway world if you like.

I still remember an incident around 1980 when a friend invited several of us to a meeting. He wouldn't tell us what the meeting was about. It turned out to be an Amway presentation. None of us signed up....

Today Amway is part of
Alticor, a company with $4.5 billion sales worldwide.

The Amway Grand Plaza Hotel is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Well, we know what the maids use for cleaning.

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Wal-Mart, Schmal-Mart
After reading these two articles about continued centralization in the grocery industry, the following excerpt from the Smiling Owner web site made my head spin around:

Today we live in a small enterprise culture. Governments encourage business start-ups. More people work for small and micro businesses than for large corporations. Small business now exceeds the export potential of large multi-nationals. Economies depend on small business.

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Another Argument That Supermarkets Are Evil
The U.K. office of Friends of the Earth issued a press release stating ten reasons why they oppose supermarkets. Note that the U.K. "Safeway" referenced in the press release is NOT related to the U.S. Safeway.

1. Supermarkets don’t offer the best price to consumers.
2. Supermarkets favour imports over British produce.
3. Supermarkets’ bullying tactics can put small farmers out of business.
4. Supermarkets are squeezing prices to farmers.
5. Supermarkets are forcing small shops out of business.
6. Supermarkets do not support the local economy in the same way that local shops do.
7. When a large supermarket opens there is a net loss of jobs.
8. Supermarkets import food over huge distances, often by air, resulting in large emissions of carbon dioxide.
9. Supermarkets also transport food large distances around the UK due to their distribution system.
10. Supermarkets waste food by placing difficult conditions on farmers for cosmetic appearance.

Item 2 is especially interesting to consider. In essence, the argument is that free movement of goods around the world hurts the locals. (There is a parallel argument that free movement of goods hurts the third world producers also, since the buyers and their corrupt governments conspire to keep prices low.)

But, what of the alternative? What if the Wal-Marts, Krogers, and Circle Ks were to disappear, and only independent markets were to remain, supplied by local farmers? While arguments could be made about the direction in which prices would travel, there's no question that selection would decrease dramatically - there's no way that an independent store in Minnesota could buy pineapple from local suppliers. At the same time, third-world countries that are unhealthily dependent upon one cash crop would soon find that there wouldn't be any cash crops.

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Supermarkets by Robert J. Morton
Robert J. Morton has written a 360,000 word book about human society entitled The Lost Inheritance. One of the topics associated with Chapter 10: The Capital Men is entitled "Supermarkets."

His thesis, in brief, is that unfettered capitalism results in continued concentration of the British (and world) grocery industry into the hands of a few very large proprietors. A few brief excerpts:

Once upon a time, the food and general household needs of the population of Britain were provided by thousands of small shops and street markets of various kinds. Gradually, a handful of them in different parts of the country took over the shops that were failing and those belonging to retiring proprietors. As a result, they became a little bit bigger than their peers. And they grew. Eventually they became very big businesses, dominating their communities....

With all the local shops put out of business and their competition thus eliminated, up creep the prices. So, this new branch launches into high profit. The high profits from this - now profitable - super-store are then, in turn, used to finance the initial losses for a further new super-store in yet another unconquered part of the country. This process is repeated until the whole country has been conquered....

Having taken possession of the nation's entire food market, this handful of powerful commercial leviathans have set their sights on other market sectors. Super markets now stock books, audio tapes and compact disc (CD) records. While shopping for the weekly food, it is the ideal situation in which to trap the shopper into an impulsive purchase of the latest popular book or song. But only the immediately popular titles which will shift stock quickly....

Of course, super-markets carry food and other products manufactured by specialist manufacturers. Some of these specialist manufacturers are very large and universally known companies who advertise through the mass media of television and papers to promote and maintain their high level of sales. But having put the small shops out of business, the super-markets are now the only retail outlets available for the specialist manufacturers. The super-markets are thus able to dictate whose products shall, and whose products shall not, be available to the public....

While portions of Morton's writings are observable in today's environment, his fatal flaw is that he does not take account of innovation and complacency. If Morton's thesis were correct, Sam Walton would have become a store manager at an
A&P, not the head of his own company that has (so far) trounced A&P and everyone else.

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Monday, December 01, 2003

Well, Maybe It IS Good Marketing In That Culture
I just posted a link to the eegfree web site. It was referenced in the November 21, 2003 Robert X. Cringely column.

First off, let me state that I cannot speak a bit of Korean.

That having been said, the author of eegfree's English-language site may not be sensitive to the nuances of the English language. The product is described as "the newest mind control machine." The company means to state that the user can affect his/her own mind to study better, etc. However, the wording implies that person X is controlling person A's mind.

My first reaction was "Ha ha ha" (in English), until I realized that many cultures are less individually-oriented than my own. In such a culture, mind control by a leader might be a good thing.

Don't forget that Rev. Sun Myung Moon is Korean...

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Oops 2
Mappoint isn't the only mapping service with location problems. Ramada uses Mapquest to provide its on-site maps; however, their map for their Lake Havasu location places the hotel southeast of its actual location (it's actually NORTH of Smoketree, not SOUTH of Smoketree).

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I am a Guy
I am a guy, and as such am ignorant about the specifics of make-up and the like. For example, I was surprised to see that Wynonna could look like this. I will give her credit, though - her statement after her drunk driving arrest was impressive.

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