31 July 2007

Smart and Not-So-Smart Liberals

I don't get so many jokes in my inbox these days, but every so often I'll get an email about a protest, rally, or online petition. And that's usually worth a snicker.

I've participated in protests, but I don't think much of them. Or to be more precise, I don't think much of protesters. Generally speaking, I think they're more interested in making themselves feel like they're doing something without really doing something. Making a sign and chanting a few stanzas of "Hey, hey, ho, ho" with fellow hippies or fundamentalists (as the case may be) is more of a psychological indulgence than a serious attempt to change things.

Case in point: today's planned protest of John McCain's visit. Putting aside the obvious issue of McCain's snowball's chance in Hanoi of winning the nomination, does anyone really think a gaggle of 20-somethings and their grandparents with signs and lawn chairs will change McCain's mind about anything?

* sigh *

I have more confidence in the efforts of a different group disenfranchised liberals who finally seem to have figured out how to actually be productive in changing things.

And unlike all the protests, rallies, and petitions, it actually works.

12-Week Maternity Leave for Ohio Moms?

That's what the Ohio Civil Rights Commission is proposing:

The minimum maternity leave is part of proposed changes for the state's pregnancy-discrimination rule, which now requires companies to give women a ''reasonable period of time'' off work to care for their newborn.

The Ohio Civil Rights Commission wants to end confusion by defining what's ''reasonable'' for a minimum maternity leave, said Toni Delgado, spokeswoman for the commission.

It's always tough (at least in this country) to walk the line between pro-business and pro-family. On the business-friendly side, the proposal does not require that employees be paid during leave. It also allows the rules to be bent for small businesses that would suffer undue hardship from losing an employee for 3 months.

On the pro-family side, the proposed changes would apply regardless of how long the employee has been on the job. This is different from federal law, which applies only to employees who have been on the job for at least one year.

The boardroom-backed Ohio Chamber of Commerce is wary of the changes. But maybe we should be wary of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.

30 July 2007

Dept. of City Planning Has a Director

The CBC reports that Cincinnati has hired a new director for its revitalized Planning Department. Charles C. Graves (the III) will start his job later this summer.

NOTE: for some reason the link won't work even though it's correct. Try this:

Cincinnati used to have a planning department, but it was eliminated in 2002 after some guys in suits told Charlie Luken to eliminate it. That's as sure a sign as any that it was a good thing. Luken, you will recall, is now helping move Ohio forward as a lobbyist for the gaming industry.

This return of the Planning Department should be good for the city because it puts land use decisions in the hands of urban planners instead of land developers. Urban planners know how to plan cities. Land developers know... well, I don't know what they know. I'll ask Chris Bortz next time I see him.

28 July 2007

Post Publishes 1000-Word Bumper Sticker

The Post's headline: The Surge has a Name.

Translation of the Post's headline: Put that head back up your ass and keep it there.

As the Army's Fort Thomas-based 478th Engineer Battalion trains at Fort McCoy, Wis., for its second deployment to Iraq, its citizen soldiers know the war has lost popularity. But that, said one, is for the pollsters to worry about.

Nothing to worry about here, folks. Just a few egghead pollsters with time on their hands trying to be trendy (like their Hollywood friends). Just like Bush said. And his powers of discernment are very good.

At this point I generally ignore most Iraq news. Same shit, different day. But on the few occasions when an Iraq-related story manages to make it past the bullshit filter, it usually triggers my recollection of something I heard a media analyst say: the MSM's Iraq reporting consists only of operational issues (the surge, e.g.) and partisan rhetoric. Crucial issues of lies, legality, and corruption are not asked, let alone investigated.

And that's actually the good part. Even more pitiful is the fact that corporate newspapers continue to fart out fluff like this Post piece on a regular basis. I'd like to see the publishers and editorial boards spend 6 years sitting next to someone lactose intolerant and see how they like their senses being offended regularly.

You're doing a heckuva job, Postie!

13 July 2007

Tourist Crap Trap?

China city debuts opulent public toilet.

They're flush with pride in Chongqing, where a recently opened porcelain palace features an Egyptian facade, soothing music and more than 1,000 toilets spread out over 30,000 square feet.

"We are spreading toilet culture. People can listen to gentle music and watch TV," said Lu Xiaoqing, an official with the Yangrenjie, or "Foreigners Street," tourist area where the bathroom is located. "After they use the bathroom they will be very, very happy."

11 July 2007

Ultimate One-Way Ticket

Zheng Xiaoyu is China's former Food & Safety chief. Earlier this year he was sentenced to death for corruption; the execution was carried out yesterday.

(This is nothing new in China; they execute more people than all other countries combined. I think Texas is 2nd)

What caught my eye was this biography which lists his execution under "Recent Travel & Appearances".

From Drug Addict to Triathlete

A remarkable Josh Hamilton-esque story of addiction and recovery of Toledo native Todd Crandell:

Pick a drug, pick a vice –– Crandell did them all... Like the time when, as a high school senior and the star player on Sylvania's hockey team, he got busted snorting cocaine on the bus while en route to a game, and was booted off the squad, kicked out of school and his parents' house, lost the Ohio State University sports scholarship that was virtually in his grasp, and effectively ended his childhood dream of playing for the National Hockey League.

"For me, one drink was too many, and a thousand was never enough," says Crandell. He can still only vaguely recall the details of the time he went out to have a couple beers with a friend in Bowling Green –– and woke up two days later in Georgia. "I knew no limits."

10 July 2007

No Food for Replicants

Biometric grocery shopping has come to Dayton.

...customers entering the store can either use the finger scan or swipe a card to receive a printout of personalized product discounts. And at check-out, customers can pay via the finger scan, and debit the amount from a checking account.

Biometrics is a burgeoning field. Probably a good investment if you've got extra money under your mattress. Learn more from this BusinessWeek article.

ESPN's Dan Patrick is from Southwest Ohio

If you're a sports fan, you've heard that Dan Patrick is leaving ESPN after 18 years. But did you know that he's from Mason and went to U of Dayton?

It's true.

09 July 2007

America's Youth: Then and Now

This is interesting. The Courier (Findlay, Ohio) asked 15 teachers to comment on this question: Are kids really worse now than they were years ago?

The responses, as the Courier put it, "may intrigue you"...

(scroll down a few clicks since the paper's link doesn't hit the exact beginning)

Colon Cancer Gene Identified; Brain Cancer Vaccine OK'd

Came across a couple of interesting items on the cancer research front. First is news of the identification of a new gene associated with colon cancer. There is no genetic test for it yet, but I think it's safe to say that the subject came up in many biotech boardrooms around the world this morning.

Several studies published this month by research teams studying populations all over the world report finding a significant link between a gene on human chromosome 8 and the risk of developing colon cancer.

The results showed that people who carry a genetic variation known as the C allele of rs10505477 were 23 per cent more likely to have colon cancer than those without it. The genetic variant is located on a small area of chromosome 8 called 8q24.

The 8q24 link was particularly strong for those patients diagnosed with colon cancer before they reached the age of 50.

And how about this:

Gruber said the new discovery was particularly interesting when taken together with other recent findings about this genetic region in prostate and breast cancer:

"The same genetic region that predisposes to colon cancer has also recently been shown to be an important region predisposing to breast cancer and prostate cancer."

What's up with you, chromosome 8? Here's a list of other disorders associated with this rogue bundle of DNA. If you're less nerdy but want a good primer on chromosomal abnormalities, I think this page from the March of Dimes is pretty good.

And the second news item is something that has reached the treatment phase and can help people right now. It's the first brain cancer vaccine, which has been approved for use in Switzerland (press release). The vaccine is undergoing Phase II trials in the U.S.

That's the cancer update for today. Eat your fruits and vegetables and stay out of the sun.

06 July 2007

I'm Still Glad I'm Male

From the Women's Health division of Cook Medical:

Labor is induced in more than eighteen percent of deliveries in the United States and is commonly used in the instance of a post delivery date pregnancy... If labor is induced when the cervix is unfavorable it may increase the likelihood of induction failure, protracted and exhausting labors, and other complications. An undesired Cesarean delivery may also result.

The Cook Cervical Ripening Balloon catheter is comprised of two silicone balloons and uniquely engineered to allow the cervix to naturally and gradually dilate prior to the induction of labor. The first of two balloons is inflated on the uterine side of the cervix; the second is then inflated in the vaginal side of the cervix.

Okay, gentlemen, let's be honest about this: if men got pregnant we'd all snort laughing gas for a week and then get Cesareans. And there wouldn't be any Catholics. I think I speak on behalf of all men when I say: Thank you, women, for bringing us and our children into the world. Anything that makes it easier is OK by me.

More at the product description page.

05 July 2007

Highlights of Republican Leadership - Florida

Via Sinfonian comes this profile of absurdity of Ft. Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle, whose body occupies Florida but whose mind is in a galaxy far, far away. He wants the city to purchase a $250k robotic toilet because-- and I am not making this up-- it will inhibit gay sex.

"We're trying to provide a family environment where people can take their children who need to use the bathroom," he said, "without having to worry about a couple of men in there engaged in a sex act."

Naugle... said public restrooms are pickup places for "homosexuals. ... They're engaging in sex, anonymous sex, illegal sex."

The article doesn't say whether he was frothing at the mouth while speaking.

U.S. Grants Citizenship to Former Terrorist

Well... okay, not exactly:

A 105-year-old Cuban-born man who had at least one pending wish finally had it fulfilled - he became a U.S. citizen.

In 1964, he was imprisoned in Cuba for smuggling weapons from the United States into the island for an insurrection against Fidel Castro. Temprana got out at age 93, applied for a humanitarian visa and flew to Miami.

"I feel different," said Temprana, who served 30 years in Cuban jails. "Satisfied, very happy. It was worth the wait."

Temprana has the vitality of a younger man. Nicknamed "El Nino" (The Boy), he rides his scooter to the store to play the lottery, rolls his own cigars, drinks whiskey with neighbors and has a girlfriend.

03 July 2007

Smitherman's Challenge

The first time I saw and heard Chris Smitherman was in summer 2003 at Sawyer Point. He was one of several unknown candidates stumping and answering questions for anyone willing to stop and listen. Leslie Ghiz, Nick Spencer, and Brian Garry were also there.

I remember being impressed with Smitherman and Spencer and not at all with Ghiz.

Smitherman came off as a genuinely good guy, a down-to-earth person with an almost nerdy interest in local issues balanced with youthful vigor and idealism.

Spencer was very well informed and seemed to have clear ideas about every issue that came up.

Ghiz ("rhymes with 'gee whiz'!") did nothing but recite anecdotes and chirp standard GOP talking points over and over. Sometimes they weren't even relevant to what was being discussed. She came off as someone who just moved into the city, didn't know anything about it, and picked up a pamphlet from the GOP office to decide her platform. Think of a less frightening and slightly more intelligent Jean Schmidt.

In the years since that forum, all 3 of these politicos have had varying degrees of success, but all 3 have lost credibility. Spencer, despite his huge personal commitment to the city, has a personality that rubbed too many people the wrong way. Ghiz's personality isn't much better. One day she's a lawyer, the next she's a petulant brat.

But perhaps most disappointing is Smitherman. The man who first seemed like anything but an ideologue has become just that: self-serving egomaniac who will say and do anything to get ahead. He could have chosen the path of Tyrone Yates, Eric Kearney, Catherine Barrett, or Mark Mallory. But he chose the easy way. The way of Jesse and Al, exploiting ignorance and racism to gain credibility through infamy.

As long as there is ignorance and racism there will be opportunities for those who would exploit them. And as long as Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Chris Smitherman can continue to convince black Americans that they are helpless victims of oppressive white society, they will be able to further their own egos at the expense of people who deserve better.

That's Smitherman's challenge.

Whether Smitherman gets elected or not is irrelevant. The only thing he will do for black Cincinnatians is to help them re-elect him. He will come and go, and Cincinnati will still be two cities, one black, one white.

Bush to America: Law is for Suckers

Law School Reject Makes Another Legal Decision.

"I respect the jury's verdict," wrote Bush after ignoring the verdict completely.

"But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby's sentence that required him to spend 30 months in prison."

It's good to be the king.