Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Should We Have Professional Juries?
That's the provocative question asked by GW law professor Daniel Solove over at the Concurring Opinions blog. The post was prompted by the news that a law professor's article on his experiences as a juror in a slip-and-fall case resulted in a new trial for a grocery store found liable for $876,000. Click here for last week's LB post on the New Jersey case; here for the ruling; and here for the ABA Journal's writeup of the ruling.
Warner-Google Contractual Staredown Vexing Some YouTubers
Next time you think about putting up a YouTube video of your daughter's clarinet recital, you might check to see who owns the rights to the songs. Why? Because while YouTube --owned by Google--has reached licensing deals with a host of record companies, the company is currently locked in a contractual dispute with Warner Music. As a result, videos containing even homemade versions of Warner-owned songs are getting yanked from the video-sharing site. Click here for the NYT story.
Trial Set for Army Corp of Engineers Over Katrina Liability
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina there was plenty of blame to go around for how such a disaster could have unfolded in a metropolitan area in a first-world country. A federal judge has paved the way for one group of plaintiffs to pin the cause of the flooding that devastated much of New Orleans in 2005--if not the chaotic evacuation and response--on the Army Corps of Engineers. U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval tossed out the Corps' argument that it can't be sued for the flooding and paved the way for a trial, scheduled for April 20. Here's his ruling. WSJ Law Blog March 23, 2009

The Terrafugia Transition made a successful first test flight on March 5 at Plattsburgh International Airport in upstate New York. Often referred to as a "flying car," the Transition (created by Terrafugia Inc.) is a two-seat aircraft designed to take off and land at local airports and drive on any road. http://www.latimes.com/classified/automotive/highway1/la-hy-airport-500.jpg,0,2632125.photo

Propellers of the new flying car are made by the Prince Aircraft Co. in Whitehouse, Ohio, a 30-year-old firm that has made a big name for itself in a niche industry: designing and manufacturing custom plane propellers. shttp://www.toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090328/BUSINESS03/903280346

Toledoans Paul and Jackie Sullivan go green. "It was a lot of fun but just a whole lot of work," says Mr. Sullivan of transforming an 1887 building that was an open-to-the-sky birdhouse when they bought it in August, 2007. He made every effort to be environmentally friendly. After all, he notes, restoration is greener than a new build. Example: the 122-year-old floorboards in what’s now the garage were yanked up and installed, warts and all, on the second floor. Inside the upper hallway are lovely 8-foot-by-2-foot, mahogany-stained double closet doors, salvaged from renovations in the former Carleton Hotel at Michigan and Madison streets. http://www.toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090329/ART16/903270254

After July 1, anyone wanting a strong drink in Utah will no longer have to fill in a form and pay a fee in order to enter a bar. Under the new law, restaurants will be able to take down partitions separating bartenders from diners, meaning bartenders will soon be able to serve drinks directly over bar counters. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7973413.stm

The first annual 30 Poets/30 Days, a celebration of children's poetry is taking place here at GottaBook during National Poetry Month. Every day in April, the gottabook blog will post a previously unpublished poem by a different poet. http://gottabook.blogspot.com/2009/03/announcing-30-poets30-days.html

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a children's book written by Eric Carle, originally published in 1969. It is highly popular and has been praised for its use of easy-to-read words which makes it good for teaching young children to read. The book contains 225 words and large, colorful illustrations. It follows a caterpillar as it munches its way through a variety of edibles such as ice cream, salami, watermelon, one slice of Swiss cheese, and a lollipop before it finally pupates and emerges as a butterfly. The story teaches the life cycle of a butterfly, counting to 5, the names of the days of the week, and about different types of food. "One day I was punching holes with a hole puncher into a stack of paper, and I thought of a bookworm and so I created a story called 'A Week with Willi the Worm'. Then my editor suggested a caterpillar instead and I said 'Butterfly!' That's how it began," said Eric Carle, the author.[3] The book placed at number 199 in the Big Read, a 2003 poll conducted by the BBC to determine the United Kingdom's best loved books. It was one of the very few picture books to place.[4] In a 1999 survey, George W. Bush listed the book among his favorite from his childhood. This raised some questions since Bush was twenty-three when the book was first published.[5][6] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Very_Hungry_Caterpillar

Best-selling books for infants and children ages 1-2

Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths.
Joseph Campbell (1904- 1987) American mythologist, writer and lecturer

Monday, March 30, 2009

EPA OIG: EPA Needs to Improve Its Efforts to Reduce Air Emissions at U.S. Ports
EPA Needs to Improve Its Efforts to Reduce Air Emissions at U.S. Ports, [Report PDF - 86pp] [At a Glance PDF] "While EPA has issued air emissions regulations for most port sources, EPA’s actions to address air emissions from large oceangoing vessels in U.S. ports have not yet achieved the goals for protecting human health. The Clean Air Act (CAA) provides EPA with the authority to regulate emissions from oceangoing vessel engines when these emissions cause significant harm to human health. For over 14 years, EPA has acknowledged that human health has been significantly harmed by emissions from these sources. Thus far, EPA has only regulated nitrogen oxides emissions from U.S.-flagged vessels. EPA has chosen to defer taking a position on whether it has authority to regulate emissions from foreign-flagged vessels, although these vessels account for about 90 percent of all U.S. port calls. However, after many years, EPA’s efforts with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) have the potential to significantly reduce these emissions. In October 2008 the IMO adopted new international standards for oceangoing vessel engines and fuels. Still, EPA must work to establish Emissions Control Areas for U.S. ports if significant emissions reductions are to be realized from oceangoing vessels."

Earth Hour on March 28 a success
More than 200 buildings in Chicago pledged to go dark in the city, including shops along the Magnificent Mile. The Smithsonian Castle, World Bank, National Cathedral and Howard University were among several buildings that went dark for an hour in the nation's capital. In the Chilean capital of Santiago, lights were turned off at banks, the city's communications tower and several government buildings, including the Presidential Palace where President Michelle Bachelet hosted a dinner for U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. The two leaders and dozens of guests dinned at candlelight. In Mexico City, the city government and business owners turned off all "nonessential" lights at more than 100 buildings, including 31 city buildings and monuments and 17 hotels. In San Francisco, some of the city's best-known landmarks went dark, including Coit Tower, the TransAmerica building and the Golden Gate Bridge. Los Angeles dimmed the lights at the Griffith Observatory, the Santa Monica Ferris wheel, City Hall and other area landmarks.
A DJ led a crowd at a dimmed-down dance party outside downtown's L.A. Live entertainment complex. Organizers said nearly 1,000 people were at the event.
In the Chicago suburb of Blue Island, Eli Rodriguez, 41, owner of a Mexican restaurant called Tenochtitlan switched off not only the lights but also the television, which was playing a NCAA tournament basketball game. "Everybody was happy I did it," Rodriguez said. "They support this. They understood." But after a few seconds, he turned the game back on and kept the lights dim.

Would California really ban black cars to fight global warming? A rumor to that effect raised hackles on the blogosphere last week. Even conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh weighed in, urging listeners to rush out and buy a black car before they were pulled from the market. But while a state agency was indeed mulling the relationship between automobile color and greenhouse gases, the rumored ban on black wasn't actually true. "It's completely fallacious," said Stanley Young, a spokesman for the state's Air Resources Board, the agency supposedly behind the ban. "At no time was it mentioned, contemplated or proposed that we would ban or restrict any color."
The supposed ban on black was widely, and mostly incorrectly, reported. The Washington Post ran an item from TechCrunch on its Web site under the headline, "California May Ban Black Cars." Autoline Daily, a Detroit-based podcast, told listeners, "You're not going to believe this story" and "You just can't make this stuff up."
The news even crossed the ocean, where a blogger from the Telegraph in London detailed the brouhaha, concluding that the rumor was bogus. http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_12013592?source=most_emailed

More than a dozen students at the Mundelein High School near Chicago have committed to going without something different each month, borrowing a page from author Henry David Thoreau, who famously withdrew to Walden Pond for two years "to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what [nature] had to teach." The Mundelein teens' project began in November, when they gave up sugar and eating at chain restaurants. A television blackout followed in December, and January's challenge was to forgo using sheets of new paper. They pledged in February to avoid buying anything that might end up in a landfill. The next challenges are the boldest yet: a March without cell phones and an April without the Internet.

First lady Michelle Obama recently helped break ground on an organic vegetable garden on the White House lawn--a garden Roger Doiron proposed in an online contest seeking ideas for change. Doiron is founding director of Kitchen Gardeners International, a nonprofit organization connecting 10,000 gardeners worldwide. The White House garden will be about 1,100 square feet and planted with spring vegetables, Doiron said. The crops will be used in the White House kitchen with the overflow going to Washington, D.C., food pantries and homeless shelters. http://www.keepmecurrent.com/Community/story.cfm?storyID=64345

John Adams planted a garden to feed his family; President Woodrow Wilson had sheep grazing on the White House lawn, while his wife, Edith, planted vegetables with which she hoped to inspire students to grow food in their schools and communities. More famously, and recently, Eleanor Roosevelt grew a vegetable garden on White House grounds, and can take partial credit for the fact that by the end of the World War II, 40% of the country’s produce was being grown in the gardens of average American citizens. http://www.examiner.com/x-4370-NY-Green-Living-Examiner~y2009m3d21-THE-WHITE-HOUSE-GARDEN-AND-THE-POWER-OF-SYMBOLISM

Roman Numerals
M=1000 | D=500 | C=100 | L=50 | X=10 | V=5 | I=1
The letters (roman numerals) are arranged from left to right with each letter decreasing in value as you go "down the line." The totals are derived through adding the numerical equivalent of all the letters.
Therefore . . .
MDCLXVI = 1000 + 500 + 100 + 50 + 10 + 5 + 1 = 1666.
Today, the convention is to use the largest possible numeral within a sequence. Therefore, 15 is XV and not VVV or XIIIII. Although Roman numerals generally read from left to right in descending order, this leads to some extremely long sequences! (99 would be LXXXXVIIII.) Be aware . . . only I, X, and C can be used this way. V, L, and D cannot. And, M cannot because it is the largest Roman numeral available! Also, only a single smaller number can be placed to the left of a larger number. 8 cannot be written XIIX as it would be ambiguous and could be interpreted as 11 + 9 = 20 instead of 10 - 2 + 10 = 18. The subtracted number can be no less than a 10th of the value of the number from which it is being subtracted. So, an X can be placed to the left of a C or an L but not to the left of an M or a D. Each power of ten is dealt with separately. So, 49 is XLIX and not IL See date conversion chart for the 19th and 20th centuries at: http://www.weplan.com/romannumeral.htm

Test Google as a converter: Search “convert (year of your choice) to roman numerals”—this example uses 1492. http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=convert+1492+to+roman+numerals&aq=f&oq

Friday, March 27, 2009

Yale Fights to Keep Famous Van Gogh Painting
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (CN) - Yale University has accused the great-grandson of a Russian aristocrat of falsely trying to claim ownership to Vincent van Gogh's renowned "The Night Café" painting bequeathed to the university by a famous art collector alumnus.

Find your own images on Google. Example: click on images and type sand art-- http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=sand+art&gbv=2&aq=f&oq=

April 17 Public Hearing in Washington, DC to Focus on Intellectual Property
News release: The Federal Trade Commission announced the fourth in a series of public hearings exploring the evolving market for intellectual property. These hearings, to be held April 17, 2009, in Washington, DC, will explore how corporations, inventors, and patent intermediaries value and monetize patents, strategies for buying and selling patents, and the role of secondary markets for intellectual property. Some of the most significant recent changes in markets for intellectual property have occurred through the emergence of new business models involving the buying, selling and licensing of patents. The April 17 hearing also will showcase some of the recent academic scholarship about the development and functioning of markets for intellectual property and the policy implications surrounding them.

The White House announced on March 26 that Social Security recipients will get their extra $250 payments from the stimulus plan in May. Those who receive Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits don't need to take any action to get the cash, which will be sent separately from the person’s regular monthly payment. The middle-class tax cut of $400 for most workers and $800 for couples is to appear in paychecks starting next week. http://www.boston.com/news/politics/politicalintelligence/2009/03/social_security.html

Report: Show Us the Data - Most Wanted Federal Documents
Show Us the Data: Most Wanted Federal Documents A Report By Center for Democracy & Technology & OpenTheGovernment.org, March 2009
The Top Ten Most Wanted Government Documents
Public Access to All Congressional Research Service Reports- Legislative Branch
Information About the Use of TARP and Bailout Funds - Executive Branch
Open and Accessible Federal Court Documents Through the PACER System - Judicial Branch
Current Contractor Projects - Executive Branch
Court Settlements Involving Federal Agencies - Judicial Branch
Access to Comprehensive Information About Legislation and Congressional Actions via THOMAS or Public Access to Legislative Information Service - Legislative Branch
Online Access to Electronic Campaign Disclosures - Legislative Branch
Daily Schedules of the President and Cabinet Officials - Executive Branch
Personal Financial Disclosures from Policymakers Across Government - All Branches
State Medicaid Plans and Waivers - Executive Branch and State Agencies

The 174-year-old Ann Arbor News will cease to exist as a daily and will shut down the presses in July, the company said. The newspaper will be replaced with a Web-based, media company called AnnArbor.com which will produce a twice-a-week newspaper, published on Thursday and Sunday, and a total-market coverage product once a week. http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/Ann-Arbor-News-close-July/story.aspx?guid=%7BC3D8D1F5-6DD3-4703-85F0-E015907598BC%7D

The Seattle Times Co. is providing some help to its longtime rival, The Hearst Corp., as Hearst launches an online successor to its shuttered Seattle Post-Intelligencer. For its first 30 days, the revamped Seattlepi.com will receive "consulting and transition services" from The Times as part of an accord terminating the joint-operating agreement (JOA) that had linked the two newspapers for 26 years. The companies have not made the three-page "termination and settlement agreement" public, but a copy was obtained from the office of Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna. Among other things, it says The Times and Hearst won't sue each other in the future over any matter arising from the JOA.

The University of Michigan Press sent shock waves through the academic publishing field March 23 when it announced it is switching to a primarily digital format to publish scholarly monographs. The press expects that within two years, most of the 60 monographs it publishes each year out of a total 140 new releases will be published only in digital editions. Print on demand (POD) books will be made available. http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6646124.html

zwieback (ZWY-bak, ZWEE-, SWY- SWEE-)
noun: A crispy, sweetened bread made by slicing a loaf and baking it a second time. Also known as a rusk.
From German Zwieback (twice baked), from zwie (twice) + backen (to bake). The word biscuit has a similar origin. It was twice-baked (or used to be), from Latin bis (twice) + coquere (to cook). The name of the color bisque owes its origin to a biscuit.

March 27 is the birthday of Roman poet Ovid, (books by this author) born Publius Ovidius Naso in what is now Sulmona, Italy (43 B.C.). He loved the literary scene in Rome, where both Virgil and Horace were living He was famous for his love poems, the Amores (circa 20 B.C.) and his masterpiece, the Metamorphoses (finished circa 8 A.D.), his tales of love and transformation. For no known reason, Ovid was abruptly exiled to Tomi, a Black Sea outpost on the edge of the empire. He never returned to Rome.
March 27 is the birthday of Henrik Ibsen, (books by this author) considered the "founder of modern prose drama," born in the village of Skien, Norway (1828). His father had a prosperous merchant business, but when Henrik was eight, the family's finances collapsed. They were forced to move out of their great estate into a rundown farmhouse, and their friends and social acquaintances deserted them. He became the artistic director of a new Norwegian theater and staged dozens of plays, but the theater went bankrupt after only five years. He wrote several of his own plays, but they failed to attract much attention. Discouraged, he left Norway for 27 years of voluntary exile.
Ibsen moved to Rome, where he was extremely productive, writing two of his best-known works: Brand (1866) and Peer Gynt (1867). In 1868, he moved to Germany, where he wrote The Emperor and Galilean (1873) and Pillars of Society (1877). Then he moved back to Rome and wrote A Doll's House (1879), which brought him fame and controversy. The Writer’s Almanac

Thursday, March 26, 2009

We left Toledo on the first day of spring, and drove to Warsaw, Indiana for dinner at Fusion Restaurant. The next day, we visited Wabash County Historical Museum http://wabashmuseum.org/ to view the Abraham Lincoln exhibit. The collection includes paintings and sculptures of Abraham Lincoln and other Civil War-related artifacts owned by private collector Robert Lang of Wisconsin. It continues through July 4. The showpiece of the collection is a small writing table, used at the signing of the surrender of Lee’s troops at Appomattox. We finished our short trip in Fort Wayne with a movie and dinner at Eddie Merlot’s, part of a small restaurant chain.

New GAO Reports: Private Health Insurance, Private Pensions, Social Security, Iraq Oversight
Private Health Insurance: 2008 Survey Results on Number and Market Share of Carriers in the Small Group Health Insurance Market, GAO-09-363R, February 27, 2009
Private Pensions: Conflicts of Interest Can Affect Defined Benefit and Defined Contribution Plans, GAO-09-503T, March 24, 2009
Social Security Administration : Further Actions Needed to
Address Disability Claims and Service Delivery Challenges, GAO-09-511T, March 24, 2009
Iraq: Key Issues for Congressional Oversight, GAO-09-294SP, March 24, 2009
Coast Guard: Observations on Changes to Management and Oversight of the Deepwater Program, GAO-09-462T, March 24, 2009

EPA Acts to Reduce Harmful Impacts from Coal Mining
News release: "The United States Environmental Protection Agency has sent two letters to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expressing serious concerns about the need to reduce the potential harmful impacts on water quality caused by certain types of coal mining practices, such as mountaintop mining. The letters specifically addressed two new surface coal mining operations in West Virginia and Kentucky. EPA also intends to review other requests for mining permits."

The United States ranks third, behind Indonesia and Japan, in the number of historically active volcanoes (that is, those for which we have written accounts of eruptions). In addition, about 10 percent of the more than 1,500 volcanoes that have erupted in the past 10,000 years are located in the United States. Most of these volcanoes are found in the Aleutian Islands, the Alaska Peninsula, the Hawaiian Islands, and the Cascade Range of the Pacific Northwest--the remainder are widely distributed in the western part of the nation. http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/volcus/ustext.html
A powerful underwater volcano has erupted in the south Pacific and created a new island off the coast of Tonga. The eruption, about 39 miles north-west of the Tongan capital, Nuku'alofa, began on Monday, March 16, shooting rocks, steam and ash thousands of feet into the air. Tonga's chief geologist, Kelepi Mafi, said the volcano had two vents, one on a small uninhabited island and another about 100 metres (330ft) offshore. Rock and ash spewing from the sea have filled the gap between the two vents, creating a new land mass measuring hundreds of square metres. Tonga, a 170-island archipelago between Australia and Tahiti, is part of the Pacific "ring of fire"--an arc of earthquake and volcanic zones stretching from Chile in South America through Alaska and down through Vanuatu to Tonga. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/mar/21/tonga-volcano-island-nuku-alofa
Landfill managers said they knew something was amiss in the economy when they saw trash levels start steadily dropping last year. Some are reporting declines of up to 30 percent. People don't buy stuff, so there's less packaging—which typically makes up one-third of all landfill trash—to toss. With a drop in demand, manufacturers make less, creating less waste. More vacant homes and fewer people in a community mean less trash. A stagnant housing market means less construction debris. On tight budgets, people eat out less, so restaurants order less, so there's less to throw away. Landscapers are out of work, so there's less yard debris. Sales are up at Goodwill's nine Washington D.C. area thrift stores—52 percent in January—but donations have fallen so much that the charity has been forced to advertise for them for the first time. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2008861574_trash15.html

FDIC Legacy Loans Program
Legacy Loans Program: The FDIC will provide oversight for the formation, funding, and operation of new public-private investment funds (“PPIFs”) that will purchase loans and other assets from depository institutions. The Legacy Loans Program will attract private capital through an FDIC debt guarantee and Treasury equity co-investment. Private market equity investors (“Private Investors’) are expected to include but are not limited to financial institutions, individuals, insurance companies, mutual funds, publicly managed investment funds, pension funds, foreign investors with a headquarters in the United States, private equity funds, and hedge funds. The participation of mutual funds, pension plans, insurance companies, and other long term investors is particularly encouraged. The Treasury will be responsible for overseeing and managing its equity contribution in the PPIFs, while the FDIC will be responsible for overseeing and managing its debt guarantees to the PPIFs.
Public-Private Investment Program White Paper Legacy Loans Program
Legacy Loans Program Frequently Asked Questions
Legacy Loans Program Fact Sheet
Legacy Securities Frequently Asked Questions
Legacy Loans Program Summary of Terms
Application for Treasury Investment in a Legacy Securities Public - Private Investment Fund

The Wolf Block dissolution officially took place on March 23 when the partnership voted to disband the firm. Click here and here for stories from Philadelphia's Inquirer and Intelligencer. So why did it have to come to this? Why did a firm that, as the Intelligencer puts it, took 100 years to build up have to vanish overnight? According to the Intelligencer, some are taking the long view, tracing the demise back to 1985 when Howard Gittis left as leader of the firm and new leadership came on board as the start of the downfall. Others say it was groups of partner defections in the early to mid-1990s, departures that were “never quite replaced.” Others blame a lack of practice-area diversity, that the firm relied too heavily on its well-respected real-estate practice. “It was like owning one stock in the stock market,” says one consultant.
On March 24, the Supreme Court heard arguments over whether the airing of a documentary attacking Hillary Clinton violated the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law and, in the end, just how far McCain Feingold is constitutionally permitted to reach. Click here for the NYT story; here for the take from Legal Times's Tony Mauro.
The issue bandied about asked whether banning the broadcast of "Hillary: The Movie," 30 days before last year's Democratic primary, violated McCain-Feingold (a lower court said yes), and whether that application of McCain-Feingold violated the constitution.
WSJ Law Blog March 25, 2009

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

ZURICH (Reuters) - U.S. Stifel Financial Corp (SF.N) will acquire up to 55 branches of UBS Wealth Management Americas to expand across the United States in a deal that will boost the investment bank's profit in the first year. St. Louis-based Stifel said its main unit--brokerage Stifel, Nicolaus & Co Inc--entered into an agreement with Swiss bank UBS AG's (UBSN.VX) (UBS.N) U.S. brokerage unit, UBS Financial Services, to buy the branches for an upfront cash payment of about $27 million. http://www.reuters.com/article/innovationNews/idUSTRE52N2CO20090324

The Texas Board of Education will vote this week on a new science curriculum designed to challenge the guiding principle of evolution, a step that could influence what is taught in biology classes across the nation. The proposed curriculum change would prompt teachers to raise doubts that all life on Earth is descended from common ancestry. Texas is such a huge textbook market that many publishers write to the state's standards, then market those books nationwide.

Sunshine Week 2009 Survey Of State Government Information Online
News release: "The Sunshine Week 2009 Survey of State Government Information online found that while more and more government records are being posted online, some of the most important information is being left offline. And in some cases governments are charging taxpayers to access records that they already paid for, such as death certificates." Information categories viewable online by region

American and Chinese University Education and Libraries
Total enrollment in tertiary education 2004
China: 19.417,044
U.S: 16,900,471
Total enrollment in secondary education 2004
China: 98,762,802
U.S: 23,854,458
Institutions of higher education in 2004
China: 1,731
U.S.: 4,216
Institutional characteristics in China
Small number of high school students go to university
Professors teach fewer classes
Classes larger
Students primarily live in dormitories
Traditional Chinese learning styles
Introverted, reluctant to stand out
Dislike of ambiguity and uncertainty
Sequential, orderly and organized
Visual rather than oral learners
Want full information
Thinking rather than feeling-oriented
speech given by Julia Martin, University of Toledo Business & Economics Librarian to Toledo Area Librarians Association, March 20, 2009

Find books by author, title, genre, series at http://www.iblist.com/

Orson Welles was born George Orson Welles in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on May 6, 1915, the second son of Richard Welles, an inventor, and Beatrice Ives ...
The Martian panic created by George Orson Welles' play 'War of the Worlds' on Oct 30, 1938, offers valuable lessons on human behavior. The radio ...

Born Sean Aloysius O'Feeney in Maine in 1895, John Ford had changed his ... John Ford soon found his real niche in Hollywood when he became a director. ...
The Real Wild West: The 101 Ranch and the Creation of the American ... - Google Books Result

John Wayne was born Marion Robert Morrison in Winterset, Iowa. His middle name was soon changed from Robert to Michael when his parents decided to name their next son Robert. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Wayne

FTC Charges Seven Credit Repair Companies with Deceiving Consumers Throughout the U.S.
News release: "The Federal Trade Commission has charged seven related companies with violating federal law by falsely promising to remove negative information from consumers’ credit reports, even information that is accurate and current, and by charging an up-front fee and failing to provide written disclosures. The agency seeks to make them stop the violations and pay restitution to consumers."

Feedback from A.Word.A.Day
From: Ben Stern (stern.ben gmail.com)
Subject: quodlibet
Def: 1. A subtle argument, especially on a theological or philosophical issue. 2. A musical medley: a whimsical combination of popular tunes.
One of the greatest quodlibets was written by Peter Schickele in the 1970s as part of his P.D.Q. Bach programs. Here is a link to Napster where it can be heard.
From: Rolf Klausen (abstractstar gmail.com)
Subject: quodlibet
According to The Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics (scroll down to "Quodlibet") in medieval times it was a most serious form of discussion:
"In medieval times, there would be certain days when professors of theology would open up the class, and answers questions on any theological topic. In fact, people not even enrolled in the school could come in off the street and pose a question. The professor would be required to answer any and all questions. The quodlibet was, thus, the opportunity for posing important, sometimes difficult questions to the masters of theology. Some theologians shunned quodlibets, while others loved them. St. Thomas Aquinas was among this latter group."

Monday, March 23, 2009

Department of Labor guidance for employment and training programs under Recovery Act
News release: "The U.S. Department of Labor has issued policy guidance to states and outlying areas for the implementation of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) investments in core employment and training programs. This critical investment of $3,514,500,000 in the nation's workforce system and network of One-Stop Career Centers is intended to help unemployed Americans upgrade their skills and get back to work."
Employment and Training Administration: To better serve the workforce system and its efforts to support green jobs and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, ETA has developed a draft green jobs framework for action. The framework identifies the foundational and operational elements required for serving the needs of the workforce system and its customers. It is designed to promote the development of new and existing green jobs, and hasten widespread employment in green careers across several industry sectors.

VP Biden Annnounces Release of Nearly $100 Million in Recovery Act Funding to Support Senior Nutrition Programs
News release: "Vice President Joe Biden has announced that the Department of Health and Human Services will award $100 million in Recovery Act funding to provide meals to tens of thousands of low-income older Americans in need. The funding is expected to provide nearly 14 million meals nationwide...The [American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009] provides $65 million for congregate nutrition services provided at senior centers and other community sites, $32 million for home delivered nutrition services delivered to frail elders at home and $3 million for Native American nutrition programs. The funding will be awarded to 56 states and territories and 246 tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations. States will award the funds to organizations that provide nutrition services in their communities."

New Survey: Three Out of Five Employers Maintain 401(k) Match Despite Economic Crisis
News release: Seven in ten eligible employees participated in 401(k) plans in 2008: A new survey of employers released by WorldatWork and the American Benefits Council, Trends in 401(k) Plans, presented at a National Press Club Newsmakers press conference in Washington, DC, finds that the financial crisis has not significantly discouraged 401(k) contributions or participation. A full 74 percent of employers reported no change in the employer matching contribution; 15 percent have either increased or are considering increasing the employer match; eight percent have either decreased or are considering decreasing the 401(k) match, and three percent reported.

National Marine Sanctuaries Media Library Online
"The National Marine Sanctuaries Media Library is an online vault where a comprehensive collection of select video clips and high-resolution still images from America's underwater treasures are securely stored and available for searchable access and download."

Judiciary Updates Code of Conduct; Seeks New Judgeships
News release: The Judicial Conference of the United States has adopted a revised Code of Conduct for United States Judges that will take effect July 1, 2009, the first substantial Code revision since 1992. At its biannual meeting, the Conference also voted to ask Congress to create 63 new federal judgeships—12 in the courts of appeals (nine permanent and three temporary) and 51 in the district courts (38 permanent and 13 temporary).

Total Public Debt Now Over $11 Trillion
03/16/2009, TreasuryDirect, The Debt to the Penny and Who Holds It
Current Debt Held by the Public: 6,741,972,565,592.27
Intragovernmental Holdings: 4,291,185,013,077.51
Total Public Debt Outstanding: 11,033,157,578,669.78
CBS News: "And the government is running up mountains of debt with increasing speed. It took just over 5½ months for Uncle Sam to go another trillion dollars deeper in debt since hitting $10-trillion last September 30th. It’s the fastest jump in U.S. history."
DOJ Posts Summaries of New FOIA Decisions
Summaries of New Decisions -- February 2009(posted 03/12/2009)
Summaries of New Decisions -- January 2009 (posted 03/12/2009)
Summaries of New Decisions -- December 2008 (posted 03/12/2009)
Office of Information Policy (OIP) (posted 03/11/2009)

Information for water scientists, engineers, environmentalists and librarians

Landmark U.S. Supreme Court Cases

eyas • \EYE-us\ • noun
an unfledged bird; specifically; a nestling hawk
"Eyas" is a funny-sounding word that exists because of a mistake. In the 15th century, Middle English speakers made an incorrect assumption about the word "neias," which comes from the Anglo-French "niais" ("fresh from the nest"). "A neias" sounded like "an eias" to their ears, so the word lost that initial "n," eventually becoming "eyas." (There are other words in English that were created in this same fashion; for example, "an apron" used to be "a napron.") M-W Word of the Day

R.L. Stine says Sebastian Barry's novel of the Irish during World War I is so exceptional and beautifully written that it reads like music. From an interview on “You Must Read This” http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=101953070

Friday, March 20, 2009

Those Are My Recipes, Restaurateur Says
MANHATTAN (CN) - Aldo Bozzi claims celebrity chef Ursula Ferrigno aka Ursula Diane Moore, who appears on TV in Europe, violated copyright by swiping 12 recipes from the "Mezzaluna Cookbook." Bozzi, founder of Mezzaluna restaurant in New York, also sued Running Press Book Publishers and Octopus Publishing Group.

Mom & Little Girl Say Ad Firm & Drug Groups Defamed Them With 'Meth Mouth' Poster
MANHATTAN (CN) - A mother and her 7-year-old daughter, both professional models, claim an advertising firm and the Office of National Drug Control Policy defamed them by using a photo of the little girl, who is missing some teeth, as is normal at that age, in a poster about "meth mouth"--"a result of child abuse or neglect."

Chicago Mercantile Exchange to Operate as Central Counterparty for Credit Default Swaps News release : "The Securities and Exchange Commission took further action to help increase the transparency of credit default swaps by approving conditional exemptions that will allow the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. (CME) to operate as a central counterparty for clearing them. These conditional exemptions, based on a request by the CME and Citadel Investment Group LLC, provide the SEC with regulatory oversight of the central counterparty, and should enhance the quality of the credit default swap market and the Commission's ability to protect investors.
Exemptive Order Regarding Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and Citadel Investment Group, L.L.C.
Request for Exemptive Relief

The vernal equinox occurs when the center of the sun crosses the Equator. In the Northern Hemisphere spring officially begins at 7:44 a.m. ET on Friday, March 20.

Report to the Congress: Medicare Payment Policy Fact Sheet : "As required by the Congress, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission reviews Medicare payment policies and makes recommendations each March. The March 2009 report includes payment policy recommendations for nine payment systems: hospital inpatient, hospital outpatient, physicians, ambulatory surgical center, outpatient dialysis, skilled nursing, home health, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, and long-term care hospitals. It also reviews the status of the Medicare Advantage (MA) plans beneficiaries can join in lieu of traditional FFS Medicare and the plans that provide prescription drug coverage."
Report to the Congress: Medicare Payment Policy (March 2009)

EPA Releases Comprehensive Database on Environmental Chemicals
News release : "EPA has released a new online database that collects information on more than 500,000 man-made chemicals from over 200 public sources. The Aggregated Computational Toxicology Resource (ACToR) database allows access to hundreds of data sources in one place, providing a new level of transparency and easy access for environmental researchers, scientific journalists and the public. Sources of information include EPA, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. National Institutes of Health, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and other federal agencies; state databases, Health and Environment Canada, the European Union, the World Health Organization and other international groups; and non-governmental organizations, private companies and universities."

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 101 (Thanks, Julie.)

“Art is not created in a vacuum; the artists we revere draw from each other’s works, and the works of their predecessors.” The original copyright term in the U.S. was 14 years, long enough for the author to profit—short enough to quickly enter the public domain. The term of copyright has slowly crept up to 70 years after the author’s death. The European Commission has proposed an extension of the copyright term for sound recordings from 50 to 95 years. According to the Open Rights Group, 90% of money generated would go the music labels, 9% would go the top 20% of artists, and the remaining 1% would be divided up between the remaining 80% of artists.
Melanie Schlosser American Libraries March 2009

A woman in her 50s dropped in after work at the East Meadow (Long Island, NY) Public Library and applied for a library card. She confided to a librarian, with a smidgen of embarrassment, that it was her first library card since childhood. “Now I don’t have to buy my books,” she told the librarian, Jude Schanzer. “This is how I’m cutting back.”
Ms. Schanzer, East Meadow’s director of programming, tells the story to illustrate one upside to the economic downturn: Libraries are booming. New York Times.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Meryl Rose, a spokeswoman for the Rose family, a Rose Museum Board member and an art collector, read a statement condemning Brandeis University to faculty and students, about 20 members of the Rose family, Rose museum staff and members of the intellectual community at symposium titled "Preserving Trust: Art and the Art Museum" Amidst Financial Crisis. Boston attorney Edward Dangel III, who has been hired by Chair of the Rose Board of Overseers Jonathan Lee to pursue legal blocks to the administration's decision to close the museum, said that the administration needs to address the "very serious question" of "if Brandeis is allowed to break up this collection and close this museum, [whether] other people in America who have important collections and important things to give and a specific intent in mind for that gift will give in the future." Prior to Meryl Rose's presentation of the statement, Michael Rush, the director of the Rose Art Museum, told the audience that "the Rose Art Museum as we know it will not exist after the middle of May [because] the University saw the museum as a plan to assist its fiscal crisis." http://media.www.thejusticeonline.com/media/storage/paper573/news/2009/03/17/News/Rose-Family.Condemns.University-3673802.shtml

Gov Docs Open Source Advocate Seeks Job As Public Printer
Columbia Journalism Review: In just the last two years, Malamud, as the sole staffer of Public.Resource.Org, a 501c3 nonprofit based in Sebastopol, California, has posted over 80 million pages of legal documents on his Web site, many of them federal appeals court decisions. He’s also freed from private control the only remaining copy of a massive Navy-created database of legal decisions, placed building codes from all fifty states online, and convinced the Oregon legislature to cease claiming copyright over the state’s laws. It’s all been done by pointing out that documents created at public expense are, under U.S. law, considered the property of the public." Now he is campaigning for the position of Public Printer with a "platform for revitalizing the GPO and rebooting .gov spelled out in a detailed series of policy papers submitted to the Presidential Transition Team."

An HSUS Report: Human Health Implications of Non-Therapeutic Antibiotic Use in Animal Agriculture
"In 1951, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the addition of penicillin and tetracycline to chicken feed as growth promoters, encouraging pharmaceutical companies to mass-produce antibiotics for animal agriculture. By the 1970s, nearly 100% of all birds commercially raised for meat in the United States were being fed antibiotics. By the late-1990s, poultry producers were using 5 million kg (11 million lb) of antibiotics annually, more than a 300% increase from the 1980s. The thousands of tons of antibiotics used in animal agriculture are typically not for treatment of sick and diseased animals. Rather, the drugs are used for non-therapeutic purposes. More than 90% of U.S. pig farms, for example, feed the animals antibiotics for such non-treatment reasons as promotion of weight gain."

USDA Agricultural Projections to 2018
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service
This report provides long-run (10-year) projections for the agricultural sector through 2018. Projections cover agricultural commodities, agricultural trade, and aggregate indicators of the sector, such as farm income and food prices.
Download by chapter (PDFs) or as full report (PDF; 472 KB).

Blogging While (Publicly) Employed: Some First Amendment Implications
Source: University of Louisville Law Review
While private-sector employees do not have First Amendment free speech protection for their blogging activities relating to the workplace, public employees may enjoy some measure of protection depending on the nature of their blogging activity. The essential difference between these types of employment stems from the presence of state action in the public employment context. Although a government employee does not have the same protection from governmental speech infringement as citizens do under the First Amendment, a long line of cases under Pickering v. Bd. of Education have established a modicum of protection, especially when the public employee blogging is off-duty and the blog post does not concern work-related matters. Describing the legal protection for such public employee bloggers is an important project as many employers recently have ratcheted up their efforts to limit or ban employee blogging activities while blogging by employees simultaneously continues to expand. It should therefore not be surprising that the act of being fired for blogging about one’s employer has even led to a term being coined: “dooced.”

New Resource from NASA: ‘Eyes on the Earth 3-D’ March 13th, 2009
From the News Release: Source: NASA/Jet Propulsion Lab
New interactive features on NASA’s Global Climate Change Web site give the public the opportunity to “fly along” with NASA’s fleet of Earth science missions and observe Earth from a global perspective in an immersive, 3-D environment. Developed using a state-of-the-art, browser-based visualization technology, “Eyes on the Earth 3-D” displays the location of all of NASA’s 15 currently operating Earth-observing missions in real time. These missions constantly monitor our planet’s vital signs, such as sea level height, concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, global temperatures and extent of sea ice in the Arctic, to name a few.
Direct to “Eyes on Earth 3D”

Amid the economic recession's job losses and layoffs, the number of commuters on Long Island's rails and roads has taken a noticeable drop, statistics show. And experts say the decline could strike a considerable blow to a complex transit system already struggling with an unprecedented financial deficit. Two of Long Island's biggest carriers of commuters--the Long Island Rail Road and the Long Island Expressway--showed declines in usage during the last quarter of 2008 when compared, month by month, with the same period in 2007.
While common logic holds that fewer people having jobs to go to would mean fewer people on the roads and trains, some experts said the effects of the downward trend may not be easily reversed, even after the economy turns around. The numbers on the LIE, one of the Island's highest-volume traffic arteries, are a stark sign of the shift. With the advent of high gas prices last summer, the number of vehicles on the expressway fell. But they kept falling during the last quarter of 2008, and for the entire year the LIE carried 3,500 fewer cars each day than in 2007. That 1.93-percent drop was the biggest year-to-year drop in the last 13 years, according to the state Department of Transportation. Because the decline in LIE traffic persisted even after gas prices began dropping in September, DOT spokeswoman Eileen Peters said state planners believe "this could very well be the result of the economic downturn."

March 19 is the birthday of the 14th chief justice of the United States, Earl Warren, born in Los Angeles (1891). In 1953, President Eisenhower appointed Earl Warren as chief justice. He led the Supreme Court to many landmark decisions, including Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which banned segregation in public schools; Gideon v. Wainwright (1963), which ruled that poor people are entitled to a free lawyer in all criminal cases; Miranda v. Arizona (1966), which required that a person being arrested be read his or her rights; and Loving v. Virginia (1967), which made interracial marriage legal across the country. Warren retired from the Supreme Court in 1969. He said, "Everything I did in my life that was worthwhile I caught hell for."
The Writer’s Almanac

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

FCC Sets Rules for Broadcasters for Remainder of Digital TV Transition
(PDF; 139 KB) Source: Federal Communications Commission
The Federal Communications Commission has set the rules of the road for the final stage of the digital television transition, adopting policies meant to protect and prepare consumers while ensuring broadcasters have the flexibility granted by Congress to switch to digital before the final June 12 deadline. In this order adopted to implement a law signed bythe President last month that extended the final transition deadline from February 17 to June 12, the Commission takes further steps to provide an analog lifeline of vital news, public affairs and emergency broadcasts to consumers who need more time for the switch. Prompted by lessons learned after February 17, when about one-third of the nation’s full power broadcasters terminated analog programming, the Commission also requires broadcasters who have yet to make the transition to educate consumers about a range of digital television reception problems that have arisen.

List Of Expiring Federal Tax Provisions 2008-2020
Joint Committee on Taxation: JCX-20-09 (March 09, 2009) List Of Expiring Federal Tax Provisions 2008-2020

Ten largest countries in the world by area

Coming to Shumaker charity sale in Toledo
Blue Shoes and Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith hardbound 227 pages
#7 in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series
Alexander McCall Smith was born in Zimbabwe and educated both there and in Scotland. He worked as a Professor in Law in Scotland after graduating, also returning to the University of Botswana to work for several years in the Law Faculty he helped to set up there. He retired from his post as Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh in 2005, in order to concentrate on his writing career. He has been a visiting Professor at various other universities including in Italy and the USA. He is an international authority on genetics and advisor to UNESCO and to the British government on bioethics. His books include many specialist titles, for example, The Criminal Law of Botswana (1992), the only book on the subject, and Forensic Aspects of Sleep (1997), again the definitive title on this area of knowledge. He has written many popular children's novels and picture books, as well as collections of short stories such as The Girl Who Married a Lion: And Other Tales From Africa (2004), based on African stories handed down to him. http://www.contemporarywriters.com/authors/?p=authc2d9c28a16ae81fe9egtv3d0860f
The Hard Way by Lee Child hardbound 371 pages
#10 in the Jack Reacher series
The Secret Supper by Javier Sierra hardbound 319 pages
riddles, intrigues and violence in 15th century religious and political life
Red Rabbit by Tom Clancy hardbound 618 pages
One Door Away From Heaven by Dean Koontz hardbound 606 pages
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen hardbound 568 pages
winner of the 2001 National Book Award for fiction

The Corrections is a satire about a dysfunctional family. A list of books about dysfunctional families is here: http://www.jocolibrary.org/upload/library/docs/pdf/booklists/DysfunctionalFamiliesAudiobooks.pdf

dermatoglyphics (duhr-mat-uh-GLIF-iks, -muh-tuh-)
1. The ridge patterns of skin on the inner surface of the hands and feet.
2. The scientific study of these skin patterns.
The term was coined in 1926 by Dr Harold Cummins (1893-1976), from Greek dermato- (skin) + glyphein (to carve). Ultimately from the Indo-European root gleubh- (to tear apart) that is also the source of cleve, glyph, clever, and clove (garlic). And that's also where we get cleavage, cleft palate, and cloven hooves.
"What makes dermatoglyphics important as markers for disease and traits is the fact that they develop at specific times in the foetus. Fingerprints, for example, begin to form at around the 13th week and are completed around week 18 - the same time that critical growth in the brain is taking place." Roger Dobson; Scientists Say Palm-reading is True Guide to Intelligence; The Sunday Times (London, UK); Dec 9, 2001.

Filkins, Bolaño Among 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award Winners
March 13, 2009
The National Book Critics Circle gave out its annual awards at a well-attended ceremony at The New School in New York City on March 12. List of award winners from Publishers Weekly and more, particularly on the posthumous award winner Roberto Bolano from Guardian UK.

To your health Five-minute salad bowl
Combine raw turnip and baby asparagus, sliced small with salt and pepper and a little oil.
If desired, add seasoning, seeds or nuts.

In Toledo: The Collingwood Arts Center will be host to the Ballet Folklorico Mexicano on March 20, 2009. Show starts at 8:00 p.m. Adults $10.00; Seniors/students/children $8.00 Call ticket hotline 1-800-838-3006 or the CAC business office: (419)244-2787.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Google’s new advertising system, known as "behavioral targeting" or "online behavioral targeting," is currently in beta. Links "categories of interest" to the user’s browser, allowing targeted ads to appear even when the user is looking at a page totally unrelated to the ad’s subject matter. For example, someone who has spent months looking at pages about mini-notebooks will find ads for mini-notebooks appearing even when they’re on a site unrelated to PCs. Google’s search rival Yahoo has already introduced its own application based on behavioral targeting, called Search Retargeting, which focuses display advertising based on users’ search histories. On Dec. 17, Yahoo announced that it could cleanse its system of user log data within 90 days. By contrast, Google has publicly stated that its data retention time is nine months. http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Search-Engines/Are-Googles-BehaviorBased-Ads-a-New-Privacy-Concern-241278/

EPA Proposes First National Reporting on Greenhouse Gas Emissions
News release: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed the first comprehensive national system for reporting emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases produced by major sources in the United States...The new reporting requirements would apply to suppliers of fossil fuel and industrial chemicals, manufacturers of motor vehicles and engines, as well as large direct emitters of greenhouse gases with emissions equal to or greater than a threshold of 25,000 metric tons per year. This threshold is roughly equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from just over 4,500 passenger vehicles. The vast majority of small businesses would not be required to report their emissions because their emissions fall well below the threshold.
Proposed Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule

Less than two weeks after its dedication, the new Arizona state archives building has closed, the latest consequence of the state's budget struggles. The $38 million building, named after longtime lawmaker Polly Rosenbaum, opened late last fall and was dedicated in mid-January. Researchers will still have access to the documents and items housed in the new building at 19th Avenue and Monroe Street. But it will be on a limited basis and through appointments with the agency.

Castles switch off for Earth Hour
The lights of Inverness and Eilean Donan castles will be switched off as part of conservation group WWF's Earth Hour. Owners of buildings and individuals across the world have been asked to turn out lights for 60 minutes from 2030 GMT on 28 March.
The Forth Rail Bridge and Edinburgh Castle are also part of the switch off. Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, the Eiffel Tower and Sydney Opera House will also be blacked out. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/highlands_and_islands/7937009.stm

The name Ohio was of Indian origin and was given to the river which had its beginning trickle at Pittsburgh and became the highway to the west for thousands of pioneers.

The name Ohio is derived from the Seneca word ohi:yo’, which has been interpreted to mean "beautiful river" (French mistranslation) or "large creek.” The name was originally applied to both the Ohio River and Allegheny River.

Why the Sun and the Moon Live in the Sky
Many years ago the sun and water were great friends, and both lived on the earth together. The sun very often used to visit the water, but the water never returned his visits. "If you wish me to visit you, you must build a very large compound; but I warn you that it will have to be a tremendous place, as my people are very numerous, and take up a lot of room." The sun promised to build a very big compound, and soon afterwards he returned home to his wife, the moon, who greeted him with a broad smile when he opened the door. When the compound was completed, he asked the water to come and visit him the next day.
When the water arrived, he called out to the sun, and asked him whether it would be safe for- him to enter, and the sun answered, "Yes, come in, my friend." The water then began to flow in, accompanied by the fish and all the water animals. Very soon the water was knee-deep, so he asked the sun if it was still safe, and the sun again said, "Yes," so more water came in.
When the water was level with the top of a man's head, the water said to the sun, "Do you want more of my people to come?" and the sun and moon both answered, "Yes, not knowing any better, so the water flowed on, until the sun and moon had to perch themselves on the top of the roof. Again the water addressed the sun, but receiving the same answer, and more of his people rushing in, the water very soon overflowed the top of the roof, and the sun and moon were forced to go up into the sky, where they have remained ever since. Best-Loved Folktales of the World
Different version here: http://www.mikelockett.com/stories.php?action=view&id=93

Friday, March 13, 2009

Doing Business in China - 2009 Country Commercial Guide for U.S. Companies, U.S. Department of State. "...China is still a developing country, albeit one with vast potential. Spread over a population of 1.3 billion, China’s colossal economy does not represent a large amount of disposable income for each person. Annual per capita income in China is around USD 1,700. Yet, surprisingly, China stands as the world’s third largest market for luxury goods behind Japan and the United States. The income distribution within the country is highly uneven with urban centers, such as Beijing and Shanghai, enjoying a per capita income of more than double the nation’s average. Some studies estimate that there are now more than 200 million Chinese citizens with a per capita income over USD 8,000. That said China’s per capita income figures are poised to change dramatically. Over the next several years, many economists predict a surge in the number of people achieving middle class status."

Climate Savers Computing Initiative
Official Google Blog: "Do you leave your fridge door open after grabbing what you need? Do you leave your vacuum cleaner running when you aren't cleaning? Of course not. The idea of doing either of these things sounds silly, yet many people don't think to turn off their computers after using them. By using power management tools on your computer and buying more efficient computers, you can save nearly half a ton of CO2 and more than $60 a year in personal energy costs. To do our part, Google co-founded the Climate Savers Computing Initiative (CSCI) to promote a smarter, greener computing future. The simple changes above can have a HUGE collective impact; our goal is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 54 million tons per year by 2010—the equivalent of taking 11 million cars off the road."

Recent CRS Reports: Capital Gains Taxation, Medicare Advantage
March 04, 2009 - The Economic Effects of Capital Gains Taxation
March 03, 2009 - Medicare Advantage

Global Finance Lists World’s 50 Safest Banks
News release: "The World’s 50 Safest Banks 2009 were selected through a comparison of the long-term credit ratings and total assets of the 500 largest banks around the world. Ratings from Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch were used." [Note: only two U.S. banks on this list: 26. US Bancorp and 47. JPMorgan Chase]

The Ocean Conservancy, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, documented nearly 7 million pounds of debris collected from 104 countries on a single pickup day last year The report traces the trash from 104 countries scoured in September to mostly land-based activities, where it blows from a picnic table or road, enters a creek or storm drain and eventually makes its way to the sea. A coastal cleanup will be held around the world on September 19, 2009.

Ocean Conservancy: Start a Sea Change http://www.oceanconservancy.org/site/PageServer?pagename=home

In 1942, Ruth and Elliot Handler teamed up with another industrial designer, Harold "Matt" Mattson, to launch a business manufacturing picture frames. Using leftover wood and plastic scrap, they later launched a sideline making dollhouse furniture. Within a few years, the company turned profitable and began to specialize in toys. It was called Mattel, a name fashioned from the "Matt" in Mattson and the "El" in Elliot. Early successes were musical toys, such as the Uke-A-Doodle, a child-size ukulele, and a cap gun called the Burp gun, which the Handlers advertised on the new medium of television. It was the first time a toy had been sold on national television year-round. She let the project idle until 1956 when, during a European vacation, she spied a German doll called Lilli in a display case. It had a voluptuous figure, reminiscent of the poster pinups that entertained soldiers during World War II. Handler brought the doll home to Mattel's designers and ordered them to draw up plans and find a manufacturer in Japan who could produce it. Handler's dream made its debut at the 1959 American Toy Fair in New York City. Named for her daughter, "Barbie Teen-Age Fashion Model" had a girl-next-door ponytail, black-and-white striped bathing suit and teeny feet that fit into open-toed heels. Mattel sold more than 350,000 the first year, and orders soon backed up for the doll, which retailed for $3. "The minute that doll hit the counter, she walked right off," Handler said.
By the early 1960s, Mattel had annual sales of $100 million, due largely to Barbie. The company, then based in Hawthorne, annually turned out new versions of Barbie as well as an ever-expanding wardrobe of outfits and accessories befitting the new princess of toydom. Soon enough Barbie sprouted a coterie of friends and family. Ken, named for the Handlers' son, appeared in 1961; Midge in 1963; Skipper in 1965; and African American doll Christie, Barbie's first ethnic friend, in 1969. The first black Barbie came much later, in 1981. Other dolls were named for Handler's grandchildren, including Stacie, Todd and Cheryl. In 1975, Ruth and Elliot Handler were forced out of Mattel, and the following year she founded a new company, Ruthton Corp.

The Cleveland Metroparks welcome visitors yearly on March 15 to the Buzzard Roost in Hinckley Reservation. With a traditional "Buzzard Spotter" (for many years retired ranger Roger Lutz and now the chief naturalist Robert Hinkle) the first buzzard's time of arrival is clocked. The event is hailed as a sign of spring in the Midwest by all who attend. For information: Hinckley Chamber of Commerce P.O. Box 354 Hinckley Ohio 44233 (330) 278-2066 For General Information: info@hinckleytwp.org

March 13 is the birthday of Uncle Sam. He made his debut on this day in 1852 as a cartoon in the New York Lantern, drawn by Frank Henry Bellew. The name "Uncle Sam" had been used to refer to the United States since about 1810, but this was the first time that someone thought to make him into a character and draw him in human form.
Today is Friday the 13th. The superstition that Friday is unlucky has been around for hundreds of years. Chaucer mentioned it in his Canterbury Tales, and by the 1800s, there was a whole list of things that were unlucky to do on a Friday, including needleworking, writing letters, beginning a sea voyage, moving, getting married, and going to the doctor. As for 13, its status as an unlucky number probably comes from the Bible—Judas Iscariot was said to be the 13th guest to sit at the table at the Last Supper. By the 1700s, it was a common superstition that if 13 people sat down at a table together, one of them would die. Eventually the number 13 became unlucky in any circumstance. Many hotels still skip the 13th floor, labeling it as 14. At some point, these two superstitions were combined into a fear of Friday the 13th. The Writer’s Almanac

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Junk the LSAT? Making the Case for a Better Test
Should the LSAT be scrapped for something better, more predictive of success as a lawyer? Two California academics think so. Former Berkeley law professor Marjorie Shultz and Berkeley psychology professor Sheldon Zedeck have created a test that they feel could be administered to law school applicants to measure their nascent lawyerly abilities. Click here for the story, from Wednesday's NYT.
As the Economy Falls, Age-Discrimination Claims Go Up
Laid-off workers over 40, it turns out, aren't just sitting back, accepting their laid-off fates and waiting for those Social Security checks to come in. They're increasingly taking matters into their own hands . . . and suing, claiming age-discrimination. Click here for the WSJ story. According to the story, figures scheduled for release later this week by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission show that age-discrimination allegations by employees are at a record high, jumping 29% to 24,600 filed in the year ended Sept. 30, up from 19,103 in 2007. WSJ Law Blog March 11, 2009

Folks in Chicagoland were greeted in their morning Tribunes with a riveting story about a strange alleged operation going on in Tenaha, Tex., a “dusty fleck of a town” near the Texas-Louisiana border. According to the story, police officers in Tenaha have made a practice of stripping motorists, many of whom are African-American and just passing through, of their property without ever charging them with a crime. Court records report it happened to more than 140 people between June 2006 and June 2008. Among them were a black woman from Akron, Ohio, who surrendered $4,000 in cash after Tenaha police pulled her over, and an interracial couple from Houston, who gave up more than $6,000 after police threatened to seize their children and put them into foster care. Neither the woman nor the couple were charged with any crime. Officials in Tenaha call the search-and-seizure practice a legitimate use of the state's asset-forfeiture law, a law which permits local police agencies to keep drug money and other property used in the commission of a crime and add the proceeds to their budgets.
Are the protections of 'Gideon v. Wainwright'--the 1963 Supreme Court case which guarantees lawyers to everyone charged with a crime--at risk? Former Veep Walter Mondale thinks so. Writing in Tuesday's Washington Post, Mondale writes that “states across the country routinely fail to appoint counsel to people who are genuinely unable to afford representation on their own.” WSJ Law Blog March 10, 2009

Bank of America Corp. now ranks as the largest U.S. bank ranked by assets, according to a study by SNL Financial. Charlotte, N.C.-based BofA had total assets of almost $2.5 trillion as of Dec. 31.

Around the world, bats pollinate or disburse the seeds of more than 300 important species, including wild bananas, wild avocados and durian, a fruit coveted in Southeast Asia. In Mexico bats pollinate saguaro cactus and agave plants, from which tequila is distilled. Bats are an important pollinator of agave and have helped make commercial tequila production possible (although the agave seedlings used for tequila production are increasingly being grown in labs). No bats, no tequila. And no tequila, no margaritas. http://www.nature.org/magazine/spring2009/features/art27403.html

At the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., Bonnie the orangutan has been amazing researchers with her special talent: Bonnie knows how to whistle.
Those notes are a symphony to the ears of primate researchers who believe her musical abilities could lead to a greater understanding of how human speech evolved. "I think what makes it significant is that you can train apes to whistle, but no one trained her to do it. She decided to do it on her own," says Erin Stromberg, who works in the National Zoo's Great Ape house and helps care for the orangutans. Stromberg helped publish a recent paper on Bonnie's talents. Researchers believe Bonnie was trying to imitate the sounds of zookeepers who whistle while they work.

pied-a-terre (pee-ay-duh-TARE)
plural pieds-a-terre (pee-ay-duh-TARE)
noun: A place of lodging for temporary or secondary use
from French pied-à-terre (foot on the ground)
A.Word.A.Day--"The most welcomed, most enduring piece of daily mass e-mail in cyberspace" according to The New York Times--fifteen years old and still going strong.

See anagrams at http://wordsmith.org/anagram/index.html

Odd Days

Even Days

On March 12, 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave his first "fireside chat," an evening radio speech addressing the nation. He talked about the bank crisis.
The Writer’s Almanac

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Computer Data Storage Through the Ages--From Punch Cards to Blu-Ray
Read story and see pictures here:

FED INFO E-Newsletter March/April 2009
From the Federal Citizen Information Center
This issue includes:
Refinancing Opportunity May Help Millions
It’s Your Money
Smaller Withholdings, Home-Buyer Tax Credits, and Other Silver Linings
2009 Consumer Action Handbook
DTV Transition Update
Celebrate Earth Day
Ah, Spring!

LLRX.com: Guide to International Refugee Law Resources on the Web - This updated research guide by Elisa Mason directs readers to some of the key texts and resources available on the Web that can help shed light on, and provide a context for, many of the issues currently being deliberated in the refugee law arena. The guide covers international and regional instruments, human rights and humanitarian law, international bodies (especially the UNHCR), national legislation, case law, and periodicals.

Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. has told the New York Public Library that it is unable to complete the purchase of the Donnell branch in Midtown for $59 million, the library said Monday. “We are now evaluating various alternatives to ensure that Orient Express honors its commitment to the library,” said Herb Scher, a library spokesman. Under the original agreement, announced in November 2007, the five-story building on West 53rd Street was to be replaced by an 11-story hotel. The library would own and occupy space on the first floor and underground. NYTimes blog and story.

Two Rhode Island restaurants, Cathay Cathay and Gourmet India, are fighting over the right to serve rice. Start with one businessman's willingness to pay dearly to avoid competition, mix in the other's insistence on preserving his own culinary tradition, and add a decision by the Rhode Island Supreme Court to keep the pot boiling for almost four years with hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. On one side is Cathay Cathay, whose owner, David Chu, pays a premium for the exclusive right to sell certain dishes--$35,000 a month compared to the $14,000 the mall charges Gourmet India. Yogi Sood, owner of Gourmet India, negotiated a lease allowing him to serve basmati rice. Chu sued. Sood won. The high court has ordered a new trial, saying the lower court judge did not adequately address whether Sood's lease improperly interferes with Chu's contract. The food court is also home to Taco Bell, which serves side dishes of Mexican-style white rice. Yet Chu, who also wants to recover legal fees that he says exceed $250,000, never took aim at that chain. The difference, he says, comes in Gourmet India's proximity to Cathay Cathay and its menu of Asian food served with white rice.

To your health
In nutrition, an antioxidant is a molecule that protects the cells of the body from certain types of damage. Antioxidants can be found in a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, leafy greens, and even some spices, chocolate, and tea. Eat some of the following foods to fill up on antioxidants:
Green, leafy vegetables
Brussels sprouts
Sweet potatoes
Blueberries and other berries
Beans and other legumes
Nuts healthyroads.com

Monday, March 9, 2009

Recent CRS Reports: Economic Effects of Capital Gains Taxation, Economic Stimulus, Cuba, Endangered Species Act
March 04, 2009 - The Economic Effects of Capital Gains Taxation
March 03, 2009 - Medicare Advantage
February 27, 2009 - Economic Stimulus: Issues and Policies
February 25, 2009 - Cuba: Issues for the 111th Congress
February 25, 2009 - The Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the 111th Congress: Conflicting Values and Difficult Choices
February 25, 2009 - Navy Nuclear Aircraft Carrier (CVN) Homeporting at Mayport: Background and Issues for Congress

LLRX.com : Knowledge Discovery Resources 2009: An Internet MiniGuide Annotated Link Compilation - Marcus P. Zillman's compilation is dedicated to the latest and most reliable resources for knowledge discovery available through the Internet. This wide ranging selection of resources provides specialized tools, applications and sources relevant to researchers from many disciplines.

Data rot affects computers. Over the years, both the hardware and software programs become obsolete and are abandoned. Just ask biotech worker Bill LaVia, who can no longer open his slideshow presentations from ten years ago. "The program is Aldus Persuasion, and it was a slideshow presentation program. They basically went out of business, because PowerPoint took over that marketplace." PowerPoint can’t open his Persuasion files. In fact, so many computer formats have come and gone, they could fill a museum. And they do: The Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley.
Converting your old recordings to digital formats is only the beginning. Preserving those files is a job that will last the rest of your life, and beyond.

Federal Reserve Bank Beige Book
"Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts suggest that national economic conditions deteriorated further during the reporting period of January through late February. Ten of the twelve reports indicated weaker conditions or declines in economic activity; the exceptions were Philadelphia and Chicago, which reported that their regional economies "remained weak." The deterioration was broad based, with only a few sectors such as basic food production and pharmaceuticals appearing to be exceptions. Looking ahead, contacts from various Districts rate the prospects for near-term improvement in economic conditions as poor, with a significant pickup not expected before late 2009 or early 2010."
The Beige Book, March 4, 2009: Summary of Commentary on Current Economic Conditions by Federal Reserve District

March 2009 Petroleum Marketing Monthly With Data for December 2008 (03/02/2009): "Monthly price and volume statistics on crude oil and petroleum products at a national, regional and state level. Also including feature article: A Comparison of EIA-782 Petroleum Product Price and Volume Data with Other Sources, 1998 to 2007."

Hundreds Call on EPA to Restore Public Access to Toxic Pollution Information
Hundreds of national, state, and local groups and individual signers have called on EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to reverse a 2006 Environmental Protection Agency rule that limits public access to information about toxic chemical releases. The rule, finalized in December 2006, allows industries to withhold information on the quantities and locations of toxic chemical releases previously reported to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI).
Delivering a letter (PDF; 96 KB) signed by 238 state, local, and national organizations, along with nearly 1,300 individual signers, the groups urged the EPA to settle an ongoing lawsuit with 13 states and invalidate the Toxics Release Inventory Burden Reduction Final Rule (71 Federal Register 76932-45).

bon ton noun
1. Good form or style
2. Something regarded as fashionably right
3. High society
ETYMOLOGY: From French, literally, good tone A.Word.A.Day

March 8 is the birthday of Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., (books by this author) born in Boston, Massachusetts (1841). He joined the Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteers to fight in the Civil War, and he was shot once in the chest, once in the neck, and once in the heel. While recovering from his third wound, a family friend came to visit and asked Holmes what he'd learned about war. He said, "War? War is an organized bore." He decided to study law. He became a legal scholar and lectured at Harvard. In one of his lectures, he said, "The life of the law has not been logic: it has been experience ... and it cannot be dealt with as ... a book of mathematics." Teddy Roosevelt appointed him to the Supreme Court, and he served for 30 years.
March 8 is the birthday of writer John McPhee, (books by this author) born in Princeton, New Jersey (1931). He writes for The New Yorker, and his subjects have included canoes, geology, tennis, nuclear energy, the Swiss army, and his family tree. He was rejected by The New Yorker for 10 years before he finally published his first article there.
On March 9, 1959 the Barbie doll first appeared, at the American International Toy Fair in New York City. A woman named Ruth Handler noticed that when her daughter, Barbara, played with dolls, she liked to give them adult roles. At the time, most dolls were baby dolls, and only paper dolls were made to look like adults. Ruth's husband, Elliot, was the co-founder of a small toy manufacturer named Mattel, and Ruth suggested to her husband that Mattel make an adult doll for children to play with, but he thought it would be a failure. Then, on a trip to Germany, Ruth found exactly what she had imagined: a doll called the Lilli doll. Ruth didn't realize that Lilli was based on a prostitute in a cartoon, and had been created as a toy for adults. She bought three Lilli dolls, brought them back to America, and Mattel changed the doll's design, renamed it Barbie (after Ruth's daughter), and debuted it on this day in 1959. In the last 50 years, Mattel has sold more than 1 billion Barbie dolls. The Writer’s Almanac

Friday, March 6, 2009

A federal judge in New York has approved settlements in 92 of the 95 cases filed on behalf of those injured or killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The total amount paid was close to $500 million, according to the mediator in the case, Sheila Birnbaum, of Skadden, Arps. Click here for the early AP story; here for a copy of Judge Alvin Hellerstein's order, which attaches Birnbaum's report. The lawsuits were brought by those who chose not to participate in the Victim's Compensation Fund, a special fund Congress established that distributed more than $7 billion to more than 5,000 survivors.
Trial dates for the remaining three cases have not been set.
Attorneys often strike people from juries because of their race, ethnicity or gender despite the wee problem that such discrimination is unconstitutional. A WSJ piece today looks at the conundrum of peremptory challenges. They are designed to help lawyers pick a fair jury, but judges are often loath to seriously probe whether lawyers are using peremptories to discriminate against jurors. Some critics say states should abolish peremptory strikes, which typically allow lawyers to dismiss a limited number of jurors, no questions asked. (As opposed to challenges "for cause," which require a showing that a juror can't be fair.) WSJ Law Blog March 5, 2009

EPA Unveils Top 25 U.S. Cities with the Most Energy Star Buildings
News release: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released a list of U.S. metropolitan areas with the largest number of energy efficient buildings in 2008 that have earned EPA’s Energy Star. The list is headed by Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Washington, D.C., Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis-St Paul, Atlanta and Seattle. In 2008, more than 3,300 commercial buildings and manufacturing plants earned the Energy Star--EPA’s label for high efficiency--representing savings of more than $1 billion in utility bills and more than 7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. These buildings include schools, hospitals, office buildings, courthouses, grocery stores, retail centers and auto assembly plants.

New York Times Charts Unemployment Rate Throughout U.S.
The Geography of a Recession: "Job losses have been most severe in the areas that experienced a big boom in housing, those that depend on manufacturing and those that already had the highest unemployment rates. Related Article."

Project On Government Oversight (POGO), an independent nonprofit group, offers recommendations on the FY 2010 budget proposal that “would result in an increase of over $100 billion in revenue and savings for the federal government, nearly all of which can be accomplished over the next four of five years.” http://www.pogo.org/pogo-files/alerts/good-government/gg-20090227.html

Snow statistics
Based on National Weather Service records for 1961 through 1990, Rochester, New York averages 94 inches of snow annually and is the snowiest large city in the United States. Buffalo, New York, is a close runner-up in terms of U.S. large cities with the most snow. http://nsidc.org/snow/facts.html

A Winter Storm Watch means that severe winter conditions, such as heavy snow and/or ice, may affect your area, but its occurrence, location and timing are still uncertain. A winter storm watch is issued to provide 12 to 36 hours notice of the possibility of severe winter weather. A watch is upgraded to a Winter Storm Warning when 4 or more inches of snow or sleet is expected in the next 12 hours, or 6 or more inches in 24 hours, or 1/4 inch or more of ice accretion is expected. Winter Weather Advisories inform you that winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences that may be hazardous. A Blizzard Warning means that snow and strong winds will combine to produce a blinding snow (near zero visibility), deep drifts, and life-threatening wind chill. http://www.weather.gov/os/winter/winter1.htm

The history of the word cappuccino exemplifies how words can develop new senses because of resemblances that the original coiners of the terms might not have dreamed possible. The Capuchin order of friars, established after 1525, played an important role in bringing Catholicism back to Reformation Europe. Its Italian name came from the long pointed cowl, or cappuccino, derived from cappuccio, “hood,” that was worn as part of the order's habit. The French version of cappuccino was capuchin (now capucin), from which came English Capuchin. The name of this pious order was later used as the name (first recorded in English in 1785) for a type of monkey with a tuft of black cowl-like hair. In Italian cappuccino went on to develop another sense, “espresso coffee mixed or topped with steamed milk or cream,” so called because the color of the coffee resembled the color of the habit of a Capuchin friar. The first use of cappuccino in English is recorded in 1948. http://www.answers.com/topic/cappuccino

an ancient writing system: having alternate lines written in opposite directions; literally `as the ox ploughs'
adj. boustrophedonic Greek boustrophedon, "turning like an ox while plowing": bous, "ox" + stroph, "a turning" ...

The nut of the filbert tree acquired its name from the Norman French, who observed that it was ripe for picking around St. Filbert's Day, celebrated by them on August 22. The name Filiberto is a boy's name in Italy and Spain.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Daylight Saving Time (DST) or Summer Time around the world in 2009
Countries which do not observe DST at all 130
Countries where at least one location observe DST 74
–Countries where all locations observe DST some part of the year 63
–Countries where many, but not all locations observe DST 11
Daylight Saving Time in the United States begins March 8--Standard or Normal Time or Winter Time begins November 1.

FDIC Quarterly Banking Profile
"The Quarterly Banking Profile (QPB) is a quarterly publication that provides the earliest comprehensive summary of financial results for all FDIC-insured institutions."
Report Date: December 31, 2008, released February 26, 2009
Complete QBP: "Expenses associated with rising loan losses and declining asset values overwhelmed revenues in the fourth quarter of 2008, producing a net loss of $26.2 billion at insured commercial banks and savings institutions. This is the first time since the fourth quarter of 1990 that the industry has posted an aggregate net loss for a quarter."
All FDIC-Insured Institutions Section
Deposit Insurance Fund Trends
Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program Section
Commercial Bank Section
Savings Institution Section

A recent pet project has been taken up by the Nutmeg State Independent: PACER. That's the Public Access to Court Electronic Records, a federal judiciary-run Web site through which you can purchase federal court filings. Click here for the story, from the National Law Journal. In a letter sent last week, Senator Joe Lieberman asked why--when as of the end of 2006, the federal judiciary had a $150 million surplus in its technology fund--the judiciary continues to charge the public for documents. When last checked, it was 8 cents per page for most documents, a fee that can create quite a tally by the end of the month for journalists, lawyers and those twisted souls who read court filings in their spare time. “While charging for access was initially required, Section 205(e) of the E-Government Act changed a provision of the Judicial Appropriation Act of 2002 (28 U.S.C. 1913) so that courts 'may, to the extent necessary' instead of 'shall' charge fees 'for access to information available through automatic data processing equipment,” Lieberman wrote. WSJ Law Blog March 3, 2009

Temperatures for the contiguous United States in January were slightly above the long-term average, based on records going back to 1895, according to a preliminary analysis by scientists at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. The average January temperature of 31.2 degrees F was 0.4 degree above the 20th century average. http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2009/20090209_januarystats.html

Square Root Day was suggested by high school teacher Ron Gordon in 1981—it happens when the month and the day are the square root of the last two digits of the year. It happens nine times in a century, one being March 3, 2009 and the next being April 4, 2016. http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/23231
Square Root Day occurs on the following dates each century:
The number of years between consecutive Square Root Days in a century are consecutive odd numbers: 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Square_root_day

Ron Gordon declared 01/03/05 as the first Odd Day—a date he noticed when giving his students the due date for an assignment. http://www.smdailyjournal.com/article_preview.php?type=lnews&id=71759&eddate=03/06/2007

See the NYT's obit on Alan Landers, the so-called Winston Man. Landers was the model for Winston cigarettes. Initially, Landers practiced what he preached. Later, however, Landers contracted lung cancer and became a highly visible anti-smoking crusader. According to the Times, he visited schools, made appearances for the World Health Organization and testified before Congress. Landers's death happened just before a lawsuit he filed in 1995 against R.J.R. Reynolds was set to begin. His suit alleges the company had exposed him to health risks without warning him, and the trial is set to begin on April 13. His lawyer, Norwood S. Wilner, said Mr. Landers's family was deciding how to proceed.
In one of the more widely watched cases of the term, the Supreme Court has announced it has upheld a $6.7 million jury award to a musician who lost her arm because of a botched injection of an anti-nausea medication. The court brushed away a plea that it limit lawsuits against drug makers. Click here for the early AP story; here for the opinion. WSJ Law Blog March 4, 2009

Bath's springs were dedicated to the Celtic goddess Sulis, identified by the Romans with their own goddess, Minerva. Her Greek counterpart was Athene, symbol of Athens, where philosophy was born. She was the goddess of wisdom, patron of arts and crafts, and in her more militant role was a goddess of war and defender of the state. She was often depicted with an owl, symbol of wisdom. See image of “Minerva’s Owl” on ancient Athenian coin at http://www.buildinghistory.org/bath/minerva.htm

March 5 is the birthday of Gerardus Mercator, born in Rupelmonde, Flanders (now Belgium) in 1512. He developed the world mapping technique that we still use today and call the "Mercator projection." He developed a method to accurately project the globe onto a flat surface so that longitude and latitude lines would always be at right angles to each other. When he first published his world map in 1569, it revolutionized navigation. For the first time, sailors could plot a route between any two destinations in the world using a straight line, and then follow that route without having to adjust their compasses.
To project the globe onto a flat surface, Mercator straightened the vertical lines of longitude into parallel lines, and he added space between the horizontal lines of latitude. This distorted the distance at the North and South poles, which is why Greenland and Antarctica appear so large on flat world maps. The Mercator projection soon became the authoritative world map. Mercator was also the first person to use the word "atlas" to refer to a book of maps. The Writer’s Almanac

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Additional $30 Billion Doesn’t Stop AIG From Suing U.S.
If you needed further proof that the times we live in are strange, consider the current situation involving American International Group and the U.S. government. On the one hand, the government has decided to inject the troubled insurer with an extra $30 billion. On Monday, AIG reported a $61.66 billion loss for the fourth quarter, the largest quarterly loss in history. Under the new deal, the Treasury department will take a a 77.9% equity interest in AIG on Wednesday.
On the other hand, AIG is waging battle with the U.S. government. On Friday, the bank sued the U.S. over a disputed $306 million in taxes, interest and penalties. The suit steps up a battle with the Internal Revenue Service largely over AIG's use of a controversial type of “tax arbitrage” transaction that authorities are challenging across the world. In its lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, AIG for the first time has laid out significant details about its role in the so-called “foreign tax generators” in dispute with the IRS. Click here for Monday's WSJ story; here for a WSJ story from last May which mentioned the dispute. WSJ Law Blog March 2, 2009

State and Federal Resources on the Stimulus Package
DOE Information Related to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
EPA Information Related to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act)
National Conference of State Legislatures Summary on Human Services Provisions
Recovery.gov: State Recovery Sites and State Certifications and Agency Recovery Sites - “Many state websites [and different agencies and departments] now have their own recovery web pages that help explain how they are spending funds allocated by the Recovery Act...keep in mind, many more pages will come online – with much more information--in the weeks and months ahead, so check back . . . “

New Rules Would Bar Genetic Discrimination
Workforce Management: "Employers would be prohibited from making hiring, firing and other personnel decisions on the basis of workers’ genetic predisposition to a disease under rules to be proposed this week by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The proposals, which are open for public comment over the next two months, also would bar employers from deliberately acquiring genetic information from employees and job applicants...In addition, employers would be restricted from disclosing genetic information about workers and applicants. Violators would be subject to compensatory and punitive damages under some circumstances."
Meeting of February 25, 2009 - on Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Implementation of Title II of the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act of 2008, Statement of Christopher J. Kuczynski, J.D., LL.M., Assistant Legal Counsel, ADA Policy Division
Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) - H.R.493, Became Public Law No: 110-233 on May 21, 2008

In Xinjiang or Chinese Turkestan, in northwestern China, is the Taklamakan Desert on the northern Silk Road, where Bronze Age Celtic mummies from three thousand years ago were better preserved than in Egypt. They are thought to have spoken the Indo-European language of Tocharian. The best preserved of the mummies on display is a 2000 year-old one known as the "handsome man." He wears a gold foil death mask, and his gold embroidered maroon and red clothing bears scenes of Greek or Roman men fighting. http://ancienthistory.about.com/b/2006/08/28/celtic-mummies-in-china.htm

Entertainment information
Internet Broadway Database: http://www.ibdb.com/index.php
Internet Movie Database: http://www.imdb.com/

Margaret Caldwell, 1940s pin-up girl and friend of famous film stars, now 102 years old, is the world's oldest newspaper columnist. Margaret writes a weekly column for the Desert Valley Times in Mesquite, Nevada. http://english.ohmynews.com/articleview/article_view.asp?no=384822&rel_no=1

Tales of Tuscany
Food: Panzanella (little swamp) is tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, minced onion, vinegar and stale bread soaked in water and squeezed dry. Try oranges with olive oil and salt.
Herbs: Sage flowers, along with lavender, look pretty in wildflower bouquets. You may thread shrimp on rosemary sticks when grilling. Crush basil leaves and smear on insect stings to take away pain. Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
Drink: Tuscans pronounce Coca-Cola Hoha-Hola. One day a tourist asked for Hoha-Hola, but the waiter didn’t understand. Then he asked for Coca-Cola. The waiter said: “Now, I understand—you want Hoha-Hola. Story from our Italian tour guide