Guess what makes red dye red?

Home sick today. This story did nothing to improve my appetite. You vegetarians are gonna *love* this....

"Beetlejuice" is more than just a movie name — foodmakers regularly use crushed female cochineal beetles to dye food, particularly certain yogurts, juices and candy, The Wall Street Journal reported today.

While shocking, it's perfectly legal, the paper reports. Foodmakers don't have to list the bug-based ingredient, because beetles are part of nature. Only man-made dyes, like FD&C Red No. 40, have to be listed.


The public health advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest has long asked the FDA to change the requirements for food labels so that they more clearly state ingredients that could conflict with people's diets or trigger allergies.

As it states on its Web site: "Cochineal extract is a coloring extracted from the eggs of the cochineal beetle, which lives on cactus plants in Peru, the Canary Islands and elsewhere. … These colorings have caused allergic reactions that range from hives to life-threatening anaphylactic shock."


Things I learned at the Great Cover-Up

1. Everyone wears earplugs. Wish I had....

2. I never heard of the Vertebrats before, but I liked their songs.

3. I have apparently never heard anything by Fugazi before either.

4. Cranberry juice turns your tongue red.

5. Don't try and use your cel phone after having a few beverages. I apparently kept pushing the wrong buttons. Sorry, Jimmy....

Illini for Free and Open Expression on Campus?

Survey studying religious and political discrimination on campus
A study gauging the level of political and religious discrimination
on campus has been created and is looking for participants (whether
or not they've been a subject of discrimination or harassment based
on political or religious views). If you are interested in
participating, visit:

URL: https://webtools.uiuc.edu/survey/OrganizationSecure?id=81160
John C Bambenek - hisemailaddress@domain.name
Illini for Free and Open Expression on Campus
Been googling and searching for the "Illini for Free and Open Expression on Campus" but have been unable to find anything. This came through the eWeekly announcement that goes out to staff at the U of I. I found this, but there are no details.

Here's a little story from my previous job. My previous employer was a super right-wing guy. I knew this so I made it a point to hide my political views and anything I did outside of work from him. I did not bring up groups and friends I knew from political groups with my co-workers. I never discussed politics with my co-workers. But, after working there for almost 6.5 years, one of my co-workers became a good friend of mine. Looking back now, I realize this was an incorrect assumption. When she got an opportunity, she told my boss about some of my political hobbies---like writing for a political paper.

After that, my career was at a stand-still there. The jobs I was given were not as challenging as they had been previously. I received no more raises even though I had gotten raises twice a year prior to that. In addition, he would barely respond to me---grunts and stares only.

Granted, the business was going through some problems and we were getting less and less work. But some of that lies squarely on his shoulders. Instead of giving jobs to those people who do the best work, he had "pets" that he would give the best jobs to---regardless of the quality of the output. And, he'd gotten into screaming arguments with customers over the most ridiculous things. Once, when someone quit in our PA office, a customer kept calling and asking where the art was for a job. He kept telling her he had already sent everything to her and when she kept calling and asking, he finally blew up at her and called her a bitch and told her to stop calling him. Guess what? We had the art all along---he just hadn't looked himself and instead relied on one of his incompetent pets.

But, at my prior job, I had no recourse. I couldn't call him on what he was doing to me and others. My only recourse was to find another job---which I did. And now I love my job, I love the people I work with, I love what I do. And if the same type of thing happened at the university, you would have recourse---something you *don't* have in the private sector.


Wanna hear a joke?

Ann Coulter spoke at a college recently. Right-wing whack-jobs like to say that the left doesn't get Ann because we have no sense of humor. If only we could listen to her and realize that she's writing satire, she's being ironic, she's joking....

"We need somebody to put rat poisoning in Justice Stevens' creme brulee," Coulter said. "That's just a joke, for you in the media."

She drew more boos when she said the crack cocaine problem "has pretty much gone away."
Are you stil waiting for the joke? Cuz I am....

FEMA Officials Arrested in NO on Federal Public Bribery Charges

If you read one newspaper a week, read the Saturday paper. The Saturday paper is usually filled with all kinds of goodies from the "Friday Night News Dump." Here's a doozie.
1/27/2006 6:23:00 PM

NEW ORLEANS, Jan. 27 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Jim Letten, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, James Bernazzani, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New Orleans Division, and Michael Brannan, Resident Agent in Charge, Louisiana Office, Office of the Inspector General, United States Department of Homeland Security, announced today that two FEMA officials working in New Orleans---Andrew Rose and Loyd Hollman---both of Colorado, were arrested by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and DHS Inspector General's Office this morning for soliciting bribes as public officials.

According to the complaint, the investigation began on December 22, 2005, when Rose and Hollman approached a local contractor and solicited a bribe from the contractor in exchange for inflating the headcount for a $1 million meal service contract at the Algiers, Louisiana base camp. During this meeting, Rose and Hollman allegedly told the contractor that they could inflate the "headcount" for meals served and would require the contractor to kickback to them (Rose and Hollman) $20,000.
I think my friend z says it best when he says:



Billy Barooz

Me and my sister and my nephew drove all over looking for someplace to eat tonight---right around 7:30pm. Since we had been at Old Navy, we drove past all the chain restaurants on North Prospect with people waiting outside so they could eventually wait inside for a table.

Then we went by a few other spots before we decided to try Billy Barooz. They had two tables left.

Place was crowded, but there were other families there with kids. Wasn't really smoky.

The waitress recognized us and let us know that the place has been sold and that the menu was going to change soon. She said they were not only expanding, but there would also be more upscale items. The daily special sign just inside the door said Salmon with rice and a vegetable was today's special and I had thought that was odd. They mostly have sandwiches and bar food.

Can't wait to see what happens next. Hope they change the name....


Email Spam: Us 30-somethings

Instead of just spamming everyone in my address book, I'm gonna post it here...*and* spam everyone in my address book....
When I was a kid, adults used to bore me to tears with their tedious diatribes about how hard things were when they were growing up; what with walking twenty-five miles to school every morning ... uphill BOTH ways... yadda, yadda, yadda

And I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was no way In hell I was going to lay a bunch of crap like that on kids about how hard I had it and how easy they've got it!

But now that I'm over the ripe old age of thirty, I can't help but look around and notice the youth of today. You've got it so easy! I mean, compared to my childhood, you live in a damn Utopia! And I hate to say it but you kids today, you don't know how good you've got it!

I mean, when I was a kid we didn't have The Internet. If we wanted to know something, we had to go to the damn library and look it up ourselves, in the card catalog!!

There was no email! We had to actually write somebody a letter with a pen! Then you had to walk all the way across the street and put it in the mailbox and it would take like a week to get there!

There were no MP3's or Napsters! You wanted to steal music, you had to hitchhike to the damn record store and shoplift it yourself! Or you had to wait around all day to tape it off the radio and the DJ'd usually talk over the beginning and @#*% it all up!

And talk of about hardship? You couldn't just download porn! You had to steal it from your brother or bribe some homeless dude to buy you a copy of "Hustler" at the 7-11! Those were your options!

We didn't have fancy crap like Call Waiting! If you were on the phone and somebody else called they got a busy signal, that's it!

And we didn't have fancy Caller ID Boxes either! When the phone rang, you had no idea who it was! It could be your school, your mom, your boss, your bookie, your drug dealer, a collections agent, you just didn't know!!! You had to pick it up and take your chances, mister!

We didn't have any fancy Sony Playstation video games with high-resolution 3-D graphics!! We had the Atari 2600! With games like "Space Invaders" and "asteroids" and the graphics sucked ass! Your guy was a little square! You actually had to use your imagination! And there were no multiple levels or screens, it was just one screen forever! And you could never win. The game just kept getting harder and harder and faster and faster until you died! ... Just like LIFE!

When you went to the movie theater there no such thing as stadium seating! All the seats were the same height! If a tall guy or some old broad with a hat sat in front of you and you couldn't see, you were just screwed!

Sure, we had cable television, but back then that was only like 15 channels and there was no onscreen menu and no remote control! You had to use a little book called a TV Guide to find out what was on!

You were screwed when it came to channel surfing! You had to get off your ass and walk over to the TV to change the channel and there was no Cartoon Network either! You could only get cartoons on Saturday Morning. Do you hear what I'm saying? We had to wait ALL WEEK for cartoons, you spoiled little rat-bastards!

And we didn't have microwaves, if we wanted to heat something up, we had to use the stove or go build a frigging fire ... imagine that! If we wanted popcorn, we had to use that stupid JiffyPop thing and shake it over the stove forever like an idiot.

That's exactly what I'm talking about! You kids today have got it too easy. You're spoiled.

You guys wouldn't have lasted five minutes back in 1980!


-Us 30 Somethings

Nick Berg's father to runs as a Green for House seat

A good friend of mine lives in Delaware. Michael Berg is running against a 7-term incumbent Republican. Apparently, the Democrats don't have a candidate yet. Doesn't mean they won't find one---I hear they've been looking....

Though Molly Jurusik, executive director of the Democratic Party in Delaware, said she was unaware of it, Berg said the Democrats initially had approached him.

He wasn't interested in being their candidate. "They would be saying, 'Well, you don't want to come out against the war. That would be unpopular,' " Berg said.

"I don't think the Democratic Party knows how the people feel... . The Democratic Party, like the Republican Party, knows how the corporations feel."

Is Hardees still there?

According to my source, The Disney Store closed, The Limited is in the process of closing, and Gloria Jean's---the coffee shop in the mall---will close at the end of the month.

Course, I can't confirm any of this because...I don't really go to the mall for anything. They still got those red-carpeted smoking pits at the mall?

I'm kidding....


I've been checking out a local blog called Swimming in Champaign from time to time. Warning: the background of the site is Jessica Alba in a swimsuit. Look behind you before clicking....

He's got something on there about a merger between the WB and UPN. The CW will debut this fall as a *monstrous* joint project between CBS and Warner Bros. I can't say I've *ever* watched UPN. Another article suggests this might hurt Fox. We'll have to see, I guess.

I don't know whether to care that we'll have one less channel of crap to not watch or not. Media consolidation is a concern to me, but this really isn't media consolidation, is it? It's two corporations agreeing to pimp themselves out to each other exclusively.


Odds and Ends

I smoked this weekend. I regret it. I'm back on the gum and I'm cranky.



What's spineless, loves oysters, wears beige with purple flecks, and fences with its penis? I found this by clicking through about 3 different blogs like Exploding Aardvark, but I'll just give you the punchline.


Those who know me even a little bit know I tend to rant from time to time. One of those rants will probably grow silent now that Mark Tupper of the Decatur Herald & Review wrote an article that says---much more nicely than *I* ever do: (Edit: My link is not working. The article is entitled "Will inconsistent Rich always be a bridesmaid?" If you go to the Herald & Review website, you can search for McBride and the article will pop up.)

But more and more it appears McBride is at least as much of a liability as he is an asset. And if you'’re Weber, you must at least give consideration to the idea of reducing McBride'’s role while increasing the role of a freshman, either Chester Frazier or Jamar Smith, neither of whom is an ideal choice.


McBride, it turns out, is an alarmingly bad athlete. He can'’t jump and is neither quick nor fast. In Big Ten play he has been a walking advertisement for a guard who can't create his own shot. He's a stand-still 3-point shooter without great accuracy and that'’s a one-trick pony most defenses can handle. And even if he'’s "“solid" defensively, you'd be hard-pressed to say he brings any real energy to the defense.

Add it all up and the question remains, Why is Rich McBride out there so much?
The article goes on to say that there isn't another option that's much better. I don't really care.


My friend, sagefool, is posting again. Nothing like pressure, huh, sagefool?

Now dance for me, minion!


Joe Klein: *Not* a master-debater....

Joe Klein, Time columnist, made an appearance on The Rachel Maddow Show this morning. I listened to the podcast this afternoon. Klein was supposed to "debate" Rachel on what the Democrats are doing wrong.

If you haven't listened to Rachel before, let me preface this whole entry by pointing out that Rachel is no shill for the Democratic party. She changed one of her features from "Poking the Underbelly of the Republican Scheme Machine" to "Poking the Underbelly of the *Right-Wing* Scheme Machine" mostly because there are right-wing Dems as well as Republicans. She's a lefty for sure, but not beholden to the Democratic party.

Now, back to Klein. You can listen to the entire thing here. Klein joins the show in the first hour---right about 19:15 into the show. Rachel takes issue with his article in which he claims the left is causing itself more harm than good in the way it "overreacts" to the NSA wiretaps.

First off, a debate needs some back and forth. Klein never even lets Maddow get that far. He interrupts her, he talks over her, he talks down to her like she's an friggin idiot, he doesn't listen to a single point she tries to make, says she's going "berserk" whenever she *does* try to make a point, *and* he resorts to the age-old female insult of calling her statements "hysterical." He claims that the left goes overboard and attacks Bush in an over-the-top way---and then he claims that Rachel is just a Bush hater. And in doing so, he shows he's guilty of accusing everyone else of doing what he himself does.

Plus, he claims the reason the NSA failed to foresee 9/11 because bin Laden stopped using his satellite phone in 1998 it was leaked that the US was monitoring his phone. Rachel tried to point out that this was debunked but he claimed he had "unimpeachable" sources.


Rachel posted a Washington Post to her blog that shows that Klein doesn't know what the hell he's talking about.

What a maroon....


Good news, good news, and good news---for me

Just filed my federal tax return online. Sorry---had to gloat.

I received my W2 last week and had to wait until today for the free online tax providers to fire up. I rent, have no children, and take the standard deduction. Basically, I file EZ every year. The only bonus I get is that I can file in the middle of January while everyone else is waiting for all their forms and figuring out all their deductions.

So...I filed at 10:15pm on 1/17/06. I'll let you know when I get my refund direct deposited. Two years ago, I got it in 5 days. I'm hoping I'm the first fool to file. That means I'd get it...tomorrow.

In other good news, my supervisor updated my work computer last week to some souped-up hot rod model. Realizing that I know very little of what I'm saying here, I now have a G5 running some sort of jungle cat OS (Tiger, Panther, something), all updated CS Adobe software, a new rollerball with a scroll-circle-ma-bob around it, a mirrored hard drive, and nifty new widgets that tell me what the weather is without looking out the window that's right beyond my computer screen.

Oh yah, and it has a headphone jack in the *front* of the box so I can plug in my unnecessarily large headphones in to listen to podcasts all stinking day long. Like my favorite that usually has me snorting and cackling and choking with laughter.

I know posting has been light lately, but I just quit smoking and I used to sit here at the computer and smoke and surf and now I need to keep busy puttering around my house or I'm afraid my head will pop.

12 days and counting....

By the way, where the heck has Little Blog on the Prairie gone? No new posts in over a month.


Leela James is fantastic

Occasionally, I watch VH1Soul on channel 278 (for those of you with Insight digital cable in Champaign). It's not always what I'm looking for. Sometimes it's all booty-n-thug (as Chuck D calls BET) music, but sometimes there is a nice run of soul music, or neo-soul as I guess it's called (or not called). I recently saw a fantastic artist on that channel: Leela James. I can't get her music out of my head (if you click on her name, you can hear my favorite song of hers, Music). It's more than the sound, it's her lyrics as well. Here's some lyrics from Music:
Somebody play on the guitar strings
Makes me think of my favorite songs
Reminds me of when I heard Aretha sang
Gladys, Tina, and Chaka Khan
Can't go back to yesterday
Can we just put the thongs away


Still hear Donny playin' them keys
Sangin' one day we'll all be free
Can't even turn on my radio
Somebody hollerin' bout a bitch or a hoe
Too true....

Now, in the interest of follow-up on my music industry rant, I decided to check her out via a friend, Mr. L. Wire (if you don't get it, I'm not spelling it out). And since *every single song I heard was absolutely fabulous*, I've decided to try and buy her album tonight---unless it's copy-protected. Then I'll have to rethink this.


Update on John Lee Johnson benefit

The date and place of the benefit has changed. I'll be updating my previous post as well.

The benefit is now scheduled for Monday, January 30 5:30 - 8 p.m. at the Holiday Inn, 1001 Killarney, just off North Lincoln in Urbana.

Senior British officer criticizes US conduct in Iraq

I wonder if this qualifies as "constructive criticism" since it's *not* from a "loyal opposition."
A senior British officer has criticised the US army for its conduct in Iraq, accusing it of institutional racism, moral righteousness, misplaced optimism, and of being ill-suited to engage in counter-insurgency operations.

The blistering critique, by Brigadier Nigel Aylwin-Foster, who was the second most senior officer responsible for training Iraqi security forces, reflects criticism and frustration voiced by British commanders of American military tactics.

What is startling is the severity of his comments - and the decision by Military Review, a US army magazine, to publish them.

American soldiers, says Brig Aylwin-Foster, were "almost unfailingly courteous and considerate". But he says "at times their cultural insensitivity, almost certainly inadvertent, arguably amounted to institutional racism".


More on women in the world: "Eye candy"

A $1.4 billion lawsuit has been filed against a German investment firm by female US employees.

  • the company allows inappropriate and offensive behavior to flourish (bringing prostitutes to the office, recounting strip club experiences at work, sexual harassment of female employees, and so forth)
  • the company prevents advancement and fair treatment, and maintains a corporate culture that excludes and demeans women
The lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan offered a slew of statistics to back up the claims---noting, for instance, that only four of 258 women in the company's Capital Markets Division are managing directors, positions held by 15 percent of men.


Six named plaintiffs said they were seeking an end to the unlawful denial of promotions as well as compensation equal to male employees and equality in other conditions of employment.


As of May 2005, women comprised only 99, or fewer than 15 percent, of 775 positions as directors, the second-highest executive level in the company's Capital Markets Division, the lawsuit said.
In addition, about 300, or 60 percent, of the 500 women in the department were associates, while only 379, or 22 percent, of the 1,700 male employees in the division were associates, the lawsuit said.
See...I just keep seeing stories like this.... Female subordinates employees openly called "eye candy." *sigh*

John Lee Johnson benefit announced

I received this in my inbox tonight. A long time radio host and community activist, John Lee Johnson, is very sick after recovering from four surgeries (two were emergency surgeries).

There is a benefit planned for later this month, but contributions can be made directly to the fund if you wish. I'm normally suspicious of solicitations on the internet. However, this solicitation can be verified by you, the reader, prior to any donation. I trust the source and I trust the individuals involved. Do as you see fit.

He hosts an interview radio show, "Higher Ground," twice a month on WEFT. I listen to Mr. Johnson's radio show from time to time and he *always* convinces me to call-in during pledge time on WEFT. I've seen him at city council meetings (via local access channel). I hope he heals well and finds comfort quickly.

Benefit Dinner for John Lee Johnson

Monday, January 30 from 5:30 - 8pm
Holiday Inn
1001 Killarney, Urbana IL

Join us for dinner and remarks by friends of John Lee Johnson from far and wide about his work in our community for over 50 years.

Speakers will include:
  • Congressman Tim Johnson
  • Dr. William Patterson, Associate Director, African American Studies Program, U of I; founder of Innovative Education
  • Mayor Jerry Schweighart, Champaign
  • Dannell McCollum, former Champaign mayor
  • Tracy Parsons, Director, Urban League
  • Claudia Lennhoff, Director, Champaign County Health Care
The program begins at 5:30pm with dinner to follow at 6:30pm. Dinner tickets are $25 each. Reservations required by January 24. Please make checks payable to "John Lee Johnson Benefit Fund" and mail to:

Ann Johnson
Greater Holy Temple Church
1409 West Dublin Street
Urbana, IL 61801

For information, call 384-1069.
If you aren't interested in the benefit program and dinner, you could send contributions directly to the fund at:
Busey Bank
att: John Lee Johnson Benefit Fund
909 West Kirby Avenue
Champaign, IL 61820
Here's a tidbit from an interview about school desegregation in CU. Johnson is being interviewed by Franklin Middle School honor students.
Q: No. Was there ever a time when you felt that being popular and impressing kids was more important than doing like assignments?

JOHN LEE JOHNSON: No, well, when Mrs. Lawson pulled my coattail, this is what I had done: I went and I took sociology, economics. I took algebra. Other than the courses that were given to me. Okay? Because she said that I had very little time to do that. I enjoyed the classroom debates that we had. Roger Ebert and I were students together, sitting across from one another in sociology. We know each other. When he comes to town, he knows me and I know him. There were many people who are in leadership positions in the Champaign and Urbana areas that I was in school with. No, I was not a class clown. I didn't disturb the class or any of that. When we had classroom discussions, I enjoyed challenging everybody with what I knew and I took great pride in trying to study to stay ahead of the class, read chapters ahead. And when the teacher would ask who knows this, I'd always try to say I know it. You know? I had fun everyday arguing history, sociology, and economics and all that with the kids I went to school with. They'd come to respect that. And then, I was an artist. Kids thought I was very good as an artist. My stuff hung in the hallways of Urbana schools and that kind of stuff. I was a poet, so I wrote poetry to them and all of that kind of stuff. So I wasn't a kid that got up and did foolish things and pranks and all of that. My parents only had to come to school once about me in my whole educational experience, and once was enough. My dad whooped my butt in front of my class. He never had to come back again.

No Troll Left Behind

Annoying someone anonymously over the internet is now a crime.

Fabulous. I'm glad this is what Congress is spending it's time on.


Is this the status of women today?

Some news items have been bouncing around in my head lately. I've seen several of these related stories since Christmas. All are about women in the world today and all disturbed me. And now I share....

There was an AP story about a misnamed "honor" killing in Pakistan.

And there was a Boston Globe article about British-born Pakistani women being forced to marry in Pakistan. They described "rescue teams" going in and helping these women escape (sometimes with the aid of the Pakistani government).

Then, there was a Slate article (from a Google cache) about how in some conservative Christian circles, a college education is frowned up and actively discouraged. In the article there were links to sites that tried to counter that perspective, but the stuff from Being Virtuous Women and Ladies Against Feminism stuck in my mind for far longer.

Plus, there was an Independent article where researchers found women would rather be skinny than smart---19 out of 20.


Divorce isn't what anyone wants, but websites advising women to *not* be prepared in case their husband dies, turns out to be a wife-beater/alcoholic/drug addict, or leaves them in the lurch are simply derelict and dangerous.

And the final article I read demonstrates just that. The Guardian had an article entitled "America's Model Housewife Turns Feminist as Husband Abandons Her." The housewife, Terry Hekker wrote a book in 1980 entitled Ever Since Adam and Eve: The Satisfactions of Housewifery and Motherhood in the Age of Do-Your-Own-Thing. Her newest book may have a different title.

Today, Hekker told The Observer, she is planning a follow-up book. Its working, albeit jokey, title is bluntly honest: Disregard First Book. For her life did not turn out as she planned, and she now believes her decision to become a housewife and homemaker should serve as a warning for young American women.

'My anachronistic book was written while I was in a successful marriage that I expected would go on forever. Sadly, it now has little relevance for modern women, except perhaps as a cautionary tale,' Hekker wrote last week as she announced her U-turn.

In a display of spectacular bad taste, Hekker's husband presented her with divorce papers on their 40th wedding anniversary and left her for a younger woman. The divorce left her facing an uncertain financial future, bereft of income and - after spending her adult life bringing up five children - lacking skills to make her attractive in the job market. Despite that, the judge in her divorce case suggested that - at 67 - she go for job training.

She ended up selling her engagement ring to pay for roof repairs and discovering she was eligible for food stamps. Her ex-husband, meanwhile, was holidaying with his new lover in Mexico. Hekker, once a role model for young homemakers, is now rapidly becoming an icon for so-called 'silver divorcees', older women who suddenly find themselves alone without skills and with a much reduced income.

I'm not against marriage. I have many married friends (heh...), but I think that not ensuring you can support yourself if you need to is foolish. All these sites railing against feminism, saying feminism is trying to destroy marriage, it's just complete crap. Just like the idea that if a woman is smart, she's not gonna get married. Or that it's more advantageous to be skinny than smart. I mean---what the...how can you even get to a place where you are willing to trade IQ points?


I'm addicted to Sudoku (by Leeanthro)

When I went to see if Leeanthro wanted to grab some lunch with me on Friday, she was already eating at her desk and staring intently at a little book. I've seen these types of puzzles in The Hub recently, but I didn't really know anything about it. So, after prodding her gently to write a blog article or two, here's her first.

Sudoku is a numbers-based logic puzzle developed in Japan but based on a logic puzzle called "Number Place" published in an American Magazine in the 1970's. The name "Sudoku" is actually an abbreviation of a longer Japanese term meaning something like "the number should be single." Nikoli holds the trademark in Japan and that company creates puzzles made by actual people (not computer-generated). The puzzle consists of 81 individual cells (nine vertical columns and horizontal rows and is broken up into nine 3x3 cell squares). The numerals 1 through 9 are placed only once within each row, column, and square. They give you a few numbers to start you out. Sounds simple, right? Ha! If you are interested, I suggest buying "The Original Sudoku" by the editors at Nikoli Publishing (ISBN 9780761142157) which has a nice discussion of the game and patterns and includes games of varying difficulty level. And I think that they are starting to publish puzzles in newspapers. I'm completely absorbed into the puzzles now and as Gamera just informed me, logic puzzles are supposed to keep your mind sharp. My word of advice, use a pencil!

There is also a website, www.websudoku.com, where you can do the puzzles online. They rank the level of difficulty as easy to evil! It's GREAT for beginners because you can check to see if you have made any mistakes.
Pages for All Ages also has a couple of Sudoku books for kids as well.


Shoot the Moon!

Found this tidbit about mooning via Kankakee Kindling, a site I only just recently discovered.

Court ruling deems mooning a legitimate form of communication---not indecent exposure
Let the lawyers haggle. Somehow, the judge's verdict recognizes a more fundamental truth. Despite scattered prosecutions across the country, the instinct to moon is powerful and persistent. It has always been with us, because we are not always an eloquent people, or maybe mooning is the height of eloquence.

In "The Canterbury Tales," written in the 14th century, Chaucer included a seminal mooning scene in "The Miller's Tale." A suitor comes looking for a kiss, and the object of his desire sticks her "nether eye" out the window, which in the dark he busses.

We laugh, and in our laughter is a judgment of this boorish behavior, as intended by Chaucer, says Michael Olmert, professor of English at the University of Maryland.

Mooning, or references to buttocks as moons, turns up in the work of James Joyce and Samuel Beckett. The Oxford English Dictionary traces mooning as an organized activity to California in the early 1960s, and offers published examples such as: "(1994) The crew of a hovering American helicopter removed their trousers and mooned at the Russians."

There are subsets of mooning activity. Photocopying a moon was popular a few years back -- in 2003 a man was arrested for doing just that at a courthouse photocopier. Pushing a moon against the window of a car or bus is a "pressed ham." Coming soon if not here already: moon pictures on cell phones.

There's mooning in the movies, from "American Graffiti" to "Braveheart," in which Mel Gibson has the brave Scotsmen show what they really think of their English adversaries in a mass battlefield mooning.

Mooning can be a ceremonial, community ritual. For the last quarter century, there has been a day of the "Annual Mooning of Amtrak," across the street from a bar in Orange County, Calif. Hundreds of people gather along a chain-link fence to moon because it's wacky and fun.

Yummy Broccoli Cheddar Soup recipe

Since there is a big Illinois game on tonight (8pm on ESPN2), I've got to run and meet a friend for some yummy Thai before the game starts. I'm *totally* excited to have the Big 10 season begin. Finally, some *real* competition. My game prediction: 68-65 Illinois pulls out a victory. A thread on Illiniboard says that the "line" has been moving (from -5 to -8.5) so I might be a bit of a worry-wart in my prediction, but eh....

My friend "leeanthro" sent me a quick and easy recipe today and I wanted to share it. Leeanthro is a vegetarian, as is sagefool and a few other friends, so I thought some of you might like this yummy winter comfort food suggestion. Even if you aren't a vegetarian, it sounds like a great way to get some more veggies into the diet and it sounds like something that kids would like as well.
Here's something quick, easy, and cheap we've been making for dinner lately:

Uncle Ben's broccoli cheddar soup mix with rice (I got it at Jerry's with the soup mixes and I think they have other flavors)

Make it with part milk instead of all water (directions on the side of box)

Add in a box of frozen chopped broccoli (don't even bother thawing or cooking it first)

Throw in some cheddar if you have it on hand (sometimes we do, sometimes we don't)

It has our daughter's seal of approval (she asked for more after eating her first bowl last night) and my husband and I love it. I'm going to start doubling it so that we have plenty of leftovers. It's every bit as good as Panera's broccoli soup and the rice helps make it filling.

Bake a few Pillsbury frozen crusty sourdough dinner rolls and you've got a good meal for the soul!
I'm *definitely* cooking some of this up this weekend.

I'm also trying to get leeanthro to write up a nice guest blog entry about unions. She wrote a long comment about unions at It's Matt's World but when she posted it, it was chopped and she didn't have time to go back and rewrite it. I told her she should compose an article and I'd post it here. I think she's a bit hesitant to write a blog entry, but she writes letters to companies and city officials and elected officials all the time so I think a blog entry by her would be fantastic.


O'Reilly on Letterman last night

I don't normally post during the day, but I found this video of O'Reilly's appearance on Letterman last night.... Dave *clearly* grows impatient with Bill and takes him to task for criticizing Cindy Sheehan.

Since Blogger doesn't support Safari, you are going to have to copy and paste this link in a browser window to watch.

Money quote: "I have the feeling that 60% of what you say is crap" —David Letterman


Edit: Link fixed

Newest copy-protected CDs

Found a great post at a site called fastandloud.com (via Swimming in Champaign) all about copy-protected music, but more importantly about the music industry in general.
It’s about the frivolous ideology behind (and the piss-poor implementation of) the copy protection. Think about it…I can download the entire album for free (illegally, but free none the less), rootkit free, while I eat breakfast, and have it readily available to every audio device I own. Or…I can goto the store, deal with some floor salesman who doesn’t know what band/album I’m talking about while trying to sell me an extended warranty on a CD, stand in line for 20 minutes, and pay $20 for Sony to install some virus-ware unknowingly on my computer that I can’t remove, and hopefully it will play on one of my CD players.
There is also a list of 268 albums with this new anti-copying function but the best part is this insert in the new Coldplay CD declaring it has an anti-copying function that might make the disc not play in:

CD players that can burn MP3s
CD players that have CD-R/RW functions
car stereos with guidance functions
CD players or car stereos with hard disc recording functions
some CD players used for playing music
some portable CD players
some DVD players
some game players
some PCs
*all* macs (specifically states that the disc is not mac-compatible)

Plus, the product cannot be returned, exchanged, or refunded unless there is a manufacturing defect.

Doesn't make me want to buy a disc. If I want to buy a disc, I want to be able to play it in my car, burn it to my media player on my home PC, and burn it to my mac at work so I can listen to it on iTunes. Looks like with these new anti-copying CDs, I might not be able to listen to it at all and I couldn't even get my money back. I'd have a $10 coaster....


Kevin Federline's new tune on the internets....

If you haven't heard, Britney Spears' husband, Kevin Federline or Kfed as they call him in the gossip rags, has been working on a new album for a while. The first track, Popozao, has leaked on the internet. I've found a couple places you can hear it---be warned, though, it *totally* blows. And, not only is it not work-safe (unless you have headphones on), it's simply just bad.

Link on popbytes
Link on Hollywood Rag
One more link from rapidshare

Apparently, popozao is slang a big booty in Brazil and
It's been disseminated by funk/miami bass music, which is very popular in the poor communities of Rio de Janeiro. Most of the songs objectify women with very crude lyrics. The funk parties are known for their scantily clad women dancing in a very sexy way (the "popozudas").
But...if you look up popozao in the Urban Dictionary, it appears that people are having a bit of fun with Kfed's new single....
1. PopoZao

A dirty talentless leech that sponges off his baby's mama

i gots me a record deal from PopoZaoin' britney spears in the ass

Related terms: man ho, k-fed, federline, britney's bitch, should of got a pre-nup

2. PopoZao

To have everything in the world handed to you, despite neither deserving nor earning any of it and then throwing it away, all while ruining other's lives. Becoming a running joke and existing solely as a caution to others not to emulate you. To rise to mediocrity and pseudo-celebrity status, only to fall back into the depths of obscurity long before your fifteen minutes have expired. In short: to blow it.

Kevin Federlines ENTIRE LIFE is popozao. You have been warned.

Related terms: loser, poser, poseur, fraud, phony, fake, k-fed, sham, demon-seed, antichrist, satan, homeless, drifter, smelly, wankster, joke
You know, if he was at least *hot* like Ricky Martin or something, I think I could tolerate it a bit more. But he isn't even cute. Britney has lost her mind. First, she marries Kfed with no prenup. Then, she helps put out this piece of garbage. Now, granted, Britney Spears isn't my favorite music, but I would never call this song *music*.... My guess is the video is going to be nothing but big old bouncing booty butts in thongs with Kfed leering at them.



Iraqi oil minister replaced by Ahmed Chalabi

First, I saw in the Washington Post that the Iraqi Oil Minister resigned under pressure. He threatened to quit because he disagreed with a decision to raise oil prices by nine times in December.
"This decision will not serve the benefit of the government and the people. This decision brings an extra burden on the shoulders of citizens and caused an increase in the prices of all essential materials. It also caused a reaction on the Iraqi streets," al-Uloum said.

The price increases and the mid-December closure of the country's biggest refinery led to protests in many cities around Iraq and riots in northern oil-rich Kirkuk, where police shot and killed four protesters during unrest Sunday.

And then I saw this Reuters story on Yahoo! which explained the change in ministers a little more clearly---and introduced a familiar name.
Uloum's resignation as oil minister came after what looked like an old-style ministerial coup last month, when he was placed on leave against his will and replaced by Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi.
Super. Earlier last year al-Uloum replace Chalabi as Oil Minister and now Chalabi is back---even though he had a poor showing in last month's elections, he's untrustworthy, and he's shady. I hope this is a short term of office....


New AAR Mornings: Double-Wide Rachel Maddow

Air America Radio is re-tooling their morning line-up. Since AAR began, Morning Sedition has held the 6-9am (ET) slot with a show that was irreverent, funny, and filled with a whole *slew* of characters. MS was hosted by Marc Maron and Mark Riley. I am quite sad to see that show go, but rumor has it that Marc Maron is moving out to LA to start up an evening show that would run *after* Mike Malloy's show. MM runs from 10pm-1am (ET), which means the daily programming at AAR ends on the west coast around 10pm. If Marc Maron moved to LA, he could do a 10pm-1am (PT) show that would end on the east coast around 4am. The new Air America Mornings line-up has Mark Riley doing a 5-7am (ET) show and Rachel doing a 7-9am (ET) show.

If you haven't heard of Rachel Maddow, don't worry. (A running gag on her show is an audio clip of Rush Limbaugh saying "Have you ever heard of Rachel Maddow?") I'm a *amazingly huge* fan of Rachel. She started out on AAR on a show called Unfiltered which was co-hosted by Chuck D and Lizz Winstead. When that show was cancelled and replaced with he-who-shall-not-be-named, Chuck D moved to Sunday nights from 11pm-1am (ET) with his new show On the Real and Rachel moved to 5-6am (ET) with The Rachel Maddow Show. Now, with Morning Sedition's departure, Rachel is moving back to a more palatable and expanded time slot where she'll have more time for guests and the regular features that were a staple of Unfiltered.

Maddow simply speaks to me. She has a degree in Public Policy from Stanford University and a doctorate in politics from Lincoln College at the University of Oxford. She was also the first openly gay person to be awarded a Rhodes Scholarship. But more important than her academic credentials is Rachel's ability to look at the big picture. This article from June 2005 gives a more in-depth example of her show and talks more about her features, like "Burying the Lead" and the "Underbelly" segments.

And don't worry, if you can't listen when she's streaming live, you can listen from the archive through iTunes or through airamericaplace.com when you get to work in the morning. That's what I do.