birdie's blog

Feds to assist in MN bridge collapse

It's a tragedy, and it's hit home, in a way...my oldest son just moved to Minneapolis having graduated Carleton College and started his first full-time job in the Cities. Fortunately, neither he nor his girlfriend were nearby at the time of the collapse. Minneapolis is going to need a lot of help to rebuild physically and psychologically...but this article concerns me, particularly based on the current administration's past track record with disaster recovery.

New York Times says Bush will help ("respond and respond robustly"). Wonder who he's gonna send this time, maybe Brownie's available?

on bookmarks (not the click of the mouse kind)

from The Romance Readers Connection and Bibliobuffet .

No End in Sight

Watch the clip, movie opens July 27.

Anyone read Cyrillic?

My little company, IN MY BOOK, is mentioned in this blog, but it is written in Russian--something about bookmarks...

Al Gore is a smart guy

Here's a sneak peek at his new book, The Assault on Reason. I'm looking forward to reading it and hoping that it mobilizes a lot of discussion and moreover action on the part of both public and private institutions in this country.

Specifically, TV. I used to watch the Today Show in the morning, it used to provide the viewer with important news and information to face their day. It now sadly continues as the symbol of the lowered standards of broadcasters, advertisers and viewers; we're all willing to withstand having a lot of crap thrown our way and not only tolerate it, endure it with aplomb. And do we support the few broadcasters that try to provide educational, enlightening and unbiased programming? They continue to struggle.

Speaking of advertisers, hope some of you saw the wonderful New Yorker cartoon with a woman watching TV and hearing the announcer say, "Ask your doctor if a pill that solves all your problems is right for you."

Addicted to Violence;We're Consciously Victimizing Our Kids

The concluding paragraphs of Bob Herbert's column in today's New York Times: "A study released a few years ago by the Harvard School of Public Health compared firearm mortality rates among youngsters 5 to 14 years old in the five states with the highest rates of gun ownership with those in the five states with the lowest rates.

The results were chilling. Children in the states with the highest rates of gun ownership were 16 times as likely to die from an accidental gunshot wound, nearly seven times as likely to commit suicide with a gun, and more than three times as likely to be murdered with a firearm.

Only a lunatic could seriously believe that more guns in more homes is good for America's children.

Here's the whole Herbert column and another inspiring one by Adam Gopnik in
The New Yorker.

No matter how many statistics we present to our Federal government however, they remain steadfastly loyal to the Second Amendment. I think there may be hope however in the burgeoning campaign of Mayors Against Illegal Guns .

Bypassing the Electoral College

Hurray for Maryland's new Governor Martin O'Malley.
He signed a bill into law making his state the first to approve a plan to give its electoral votes for president to the winner of the national popular vote instead of the candidate chosen by state voters. As Hendrik Hertzberg of the New Yorker puts it, "(It would) make the Presidential elections truly national. Every citizen's vote would be worth casting, and worth campaigning for, no matter what state it happened to be cast in. Grassroots politics would be worth the trouble everywhere, not just in a dozen swing states."

If only other states would follow suit. Here's the the story. Write your Governor!

Loyalty and brands

I'm not exactly naive, but I must say I found it quite shocking that so many reputedly trustworthy pet food brands all are manufactured by a single source, Menu Foods. Does branding mean anything in this day and age? Customer confidence is supposedly built on "brand loyalty." Is it just luck that my cats happen to eat dry food from Nutro (one of the affected brands in the wet food version)? I thought that Nutro was made by Nutro or at least quality-controlled by Nutro; their website says "For over 75 years, Nutro has created, tested, and produced the finest pet foods on the market. Our philosophy is simple: we constantly strive to provide better ingredients and better nutrition for better health, no matter what the cost." Clearly they didn't 'strive' hard enough.

Bill Maher on Anna Nicole Smith and prescription drugs

As reported by Terry Armour in the Chicago Tribune: We happened to catch up with Bill Maher on Friday--the day after former Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith died in Florida. Maher and other comedians have mined a lot of laughs out of Smith and her status as a self-made celebrity. "I think we should take a moment of silence as comedians and say `Thank you' for this woman because she did give us years and years of material," Maher told us when we caught up with him in Los Angeles.

Then Maher, who begins his fifth season of HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher" this Friday, cut through the circus of the wall-to-wall coverage of Smith's death. Not one to shy away from controversial comments, Maher believes Smith's death highlights the serious issue of the dangers of prescription drugs. Police on Friday confiscated different types of medication from Smith's hotel room, but the cause of her death was not yet known.

"If you want to find something in this that's meaningful, it's a good time to make the point that people in this country die from prescription drugs," Maher told Armour & Co. "I think that's what it was. I think that when you're 39 years old and you turn up dead ... it's probably because of drugs. In this country, as long as your name is on the little bottle, you're cool. Marijuana has been tested exhaustively over the last 30 years--just by me. I don't remember anybody ever dying from that. But that's illegal, and whatever she was doing is cool because it's a pharmaceutical drug."

Those Damn Drug Ads

DRUG ADS MAKE RESEARCHERS (and birdie) SICK

I am constantly thankful that my children are grown and that I don't have to respond to their questions about why you have to "ask your doctor" about miscellaneous and sundry symptoms for unspecified diseases. Any doctor in their right mind having taken an oath to first 'do no harm', any citizen for that matter, should protest the big pharma companies from advertising (DTC)direct to consumer. I don't think any other country allows it (let me know otherwise), and it shouldn't be allowed in the USA. What can be done? Drug companies are saving money by laying off employees to better pay for its absurdly expensive ad slots on network television. Wow, it's gotten to the point where it's almost refreshing to see an ad for soap. This is just sick!

from PR Watch...
A new study "funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and
published in the Jan. 29 Annals of Family Medicine, claims the $4.5
billion" direct-to-consumer drug ad (DTC) industry "produces ads
that are more emotional than informational, and may be convincing
Americans that they're sicker than they really are," reports
Advertising Age. Lead author Dominick Frosch said, "DTC ads send the
message that you need drugs" for problems "that many people used to
manage without prescription drugs." Former Food and Drug
Administration Commissioner Dr. David Kessler warned that
advertising drugs "based on their emotional appeal is something that
has great risks." The study found that 95 percent of DTC ads made
"emotional appeals," 78 percent "implied that use of the medication
would result in social approval," and only 25 percent included
information about illness prevalence

from skank, to saint, to...? whither Angelina

If the New York Times can report it, I can pass it on here. Analysis of what's happened to Ms. Jolie's public persona since divorcing Billy Bob Thornton and marrying Brad Pitt. A little diversion for your day.

Good gossip site

Martinis, Persistence and a Smile...when you feel like you need to read one of those trashy magazines but you don't want to waste the money.

Twelve Items or Less

Just got wind of the painting by Kate Kretz of Angelina Jolie posed as the Madonna holding her children and waiting at a cashiers line at Wal-Mart. Description and photo of this art as social commentary from PugBus (and the NYT w/o photos).

Here's the artist's website.

Bureaucracy Defined

AP. WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Army said Friday it would apologize to the families of about 275 officers killed or wounded in action who were mistakenly sent letters urging them to return to active duty.

our health care system

From the New York Times three physicians contribute to an essay on how far astray we've gone with diagnosing "diseases", some of which (hair loss, libido loss, insomnia, twitchy legs, etc.) used to be considered 'just part of life.' It's right on target and beautifully written. The article leads with "For most Americans, the biggest health threat is not avian flu, West Nile or mad cow disease. It's our health-care system," and goes on from there.

Thoughts on a not very cheery subject...death

What is this renaissance of fascination with how upon death, one's body is buried and interred? Reference the deaths and burials of President Ford and the plans for Billy Graham. So much fuss over the remains of what once was a human being; too bad our society pays so little attention to people while they are still alive.

I believe that burial or cremation is a solemn and important ceremony for the benefit of the people who remain behind; I'm not trying to belittle it's importance to the survivors, but I honestly don't understand how it has become so significant nowadays. Is it a Christian thing? I've come to appreciate the Jewish tradition of burying a body as soon as possible, without transporting it around the country for days, without embalming, without a fancy coffin or crypt, just a wooden coffin, a goodbye and that's it.

Independent America

A great six-minute trailer and more information on the indie documentary "Independent America" based on two journalists trip across the U.S. using only secondary highways and only patronizing mom & pop stores. See America Unchained...no Walmart, no Starbucks, no Best Western, no Borders, etc. You might want to purchase the DVD for your library.

welcome send up of Rush Limbaugh

from the Toronto Star

Taking a Cue from Daniel and Blake - Politics Thursday

I think this Clyde Haberman/NYTimes column says it all...he is such a great writer and he's really hit the nail on the head regarding the NYS pols.

clever spamists

Did anyone else notice that the perpetrators of spam are getting a little bit smarter? The headline today for financial spam was "Cardinals Game Postponed".

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