April 2006 Archives
World's smartest cow - what if there were 2 of them?
"We've never seen such a friendly cow," farmer friends kept telling me. True enough. When people enter the pasture, Elvis comes running up to greet them. The effect is rather like a building lifting off its foundations and charging down a hill: You just pray he can stop if he wants to. He sticks out his big tongue and slurps. He grabs at shirts and hats. If you sit down, he'll happily put his head in your lap. But since his landings are neither graceful nor accurate, it's not an entirely welcome gesture.
. . .
But Elvis has changed my ideas about cows. He's very social, fond of me and my helper Annie and my Labrador Pearl. When I take the dogs out for their morning walk, he moos repeatedly until I bring him an apple. He's figured out how to move bales of hay into place so he can snuggle next to them (when he lies down, you can sometimes feel the vibrations all the way to the farmhouse). He especially seems to love the view, staring out at the valley much of the day.
He is amiable, happy to hang out with the donkeys and sheep, given the chance. He coexists peaceably with the chickens—with everyone, in fact. Once or twice a week, he has a burst of cow madness and goes dancing playfully around the pasture in circles. Trees tremble.
Plus, he comes when called, stays when asked, and doesn't grab clothing anymore. Not all of my dogs will do (or not do) those things as reliably. I'm very happy to have him on the farm. It will cost me more than $1,000 to keep him in hay next winter. A bargain.
"The World's Smartest Cow: What my steer, Elvis, has taught me," by Jon Katz, Slate, April 28, 2006
DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. A vote is held, and the cows win.
DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. They outvote you 2-1 to ban all meat and dairy products. You go bankrupt.
See "You have two cows. The government...." from TheCapitol.Net
We had to try Dixie Bones BBQ after reading Tyler Cowen's description of it as "the best barbecue around." So off we went with a BBQ-loving friend to sample as much as we could. We were salivating as soon as we walked in and smelled the lingering hickory smoke...
First, the collard greens are the best we have ever eaten. Very, very fresh. Outstanding. Highest recommendation.
Dixie Bones BBQ, collard greens
And we usually don't like coleslaw, but it was excellent at Dixie Bones. Not too creamy and gloppy like most coleslaw, and again, very fresh. Even if you don't normally eat coleslaw, try it here.
Dixie Bones BBQ, coleslaw
The meats were all excellent. You should try the meats as they are brought to the table, before using any of the sauces, then try each meat with one of the recommended sauces. (There is a card at each table that suggests which sauce to use with each meat.)
The meat on the ribs fell off the bone.
Dixe Bones BBQ, rack of ribs
The pulled chicken with the vinegar sauce was outstanding. Two sauces are suggested for the chicken: a white sauce that contains mayonaisse and vinegar (we were told by another patron that the white sauce is an acquired taste and very common in Alabama); and a vinegar sauce, which we preferred.
Dixie Bones BBQ, pulled chicken
The pork shoulder is very, very good.
Dixie Bones BBQ, pork shoulder
The beef brisket is very, very good (and also excellent the next day).
Dixie Bones BBQ, beef brisket
The baked beans were very good, not too sweet, and, as you can see in the picture, not too dark. (These are also excellent the next day.)
Dixie Bones BBQ, baked beans
The catfish was OK - it did not have that strong "muddy" taste we like in catfish, which is explained by the fact that Dixe Bones, like most restaurants today, serves farm raised catfish. Although it was fresh and the breading was good, we much prefer catfish that tastes like the Mississippi...
Dixie Bones BBQ, catfish
And although we didn't take a picture, the pecan pie is highly recommended. Not too sweet - just right.
Highly recommended. Worth the drive. We'll go back.
Advice for college graduates and TV in Japan
Advice for recent college graduates
If you are about to graduate from college, there are three financial things you should definitely do once you get your real-world job.
First, make sure you sign up for the 401(k) plan or any similar retirement plan if it's available. Second, through payroll deduction, set aside a percentage of your pay in a savings account (not checking) that you will not touch. This will be your emergency money. I suggest 10 percent from every paycheck.
And, if you are renting, get renter's insurance.
"Insuring Your Place in the Post-College World," by Michelle Singletary, The Washington Post, April 27, 2006
If you went gaga over that "lizard attacks girls wearing meat hats" video a while back, this will be welcome news. BoingBoing reader Gavin Purcell just launched a new blog about odd (at least to Westerners) stuff on television in Japan.
New wiki - Congresspedia
Congresspedia is a new wiki:
[Congresspedia] is the "citizen's encyclopedia on Congress" that anyone can edit. Congresspedia is a collaborative project of the Center for Media and Democracy (http://www.prwatch.org) and the Sunlight Foundation (http://www.sunlightfoundation.com/) and is designed to shine more light on the workings of the U.S. Congress.
It is starting with an article on every member of Congress.
Naming Rights and Gas
How About the Boeing Beltway?
[Chicago] is auctioning off naming rights for the Chicago Skyway, the 7.8-mile long, 125-foot high toll road built in 1958.
. . .
Of course, the big question here is what happens when, say, there's a massive accident with 20 fatalities on the Coca-Cola Highway? Or how good is the publicity if there's a carjacking on the General Electric Freeway?
"This Traffic Jam Brought to You by Cisco," by Zach Patton, 13th floor, April 26, 2006
Why do gasoline prices rise? Because either supply is shrinking or demand is increasing. And indeed both of these are happening as we speak.
"The Oil Conspiracy Conspiracy," by Tibor Machan, The Atlasphere, April 25, 2006
Gasoline prices are going up around the world, but the pain is not being felt everywhere the same way. Drivers in some countries pay a lot more than U.S. consumers. But others pay substantially less. That’s because pump prices don’t reflect just the cost of gasoline.
. . .
Elsewhere in the industrialized world, the actual cost of gasoline ranges from $2.15 a gallon (France) to $2.61 in the Netherlands. But the after-tax price is $5.80 in France and over $6 a gallon in most other major European countries. Japanese drivers get off relatively easy: taxes there only push pump prices to about $4.50 a gallon.
"In search of the perfect shave"
In the Today Show studio [on January 29, 2005, Corey] Greenberg lathered up his face with English shaving cream and a badger brush, whipped out a vintage double-edge razor, and made a passionate case that the multi-billion-dollar shaving industry has been deceiving its customers ever since 1971, when Gillette (no small advertiser on network television) introduced the twin-blade razor. Everything you need for a fantastically close and comfortable shave, Greenberg said, was perfected by the early 20th century.
. . .
Wet shaving is far from being a mass movement, but it is growing, primarily because almost every man who tries it discovers that, in fact, Greenberg was right: with a little time and practice, shaving with a single blade can deliver an extraordinary shave, and is great fun besides.
. . .
The cartridge razor is safe, but it is ultimately dull. The double-edged razor, with apologies to Aslan, is not safe, but it is good. It is good to be at risk. It is good for me to face myself and hear the myriad plinks of each hair being numbered and shorn. It is good to wake up.
. . .
It will sound like madness to say it, but when I have rinsed the lather from my face and splashed it with intensely cold water, when I have patted my face dry with a towel and rubbed in the lotion to protect the newly exfoliated skin, smooth and supple—I have some sense of what Homer meant. On a good day, a good close shave is the Iliad and the Odyssey in one: the mastery of the dangerous blade, the return to the comforts of home. To shave well is to be a man, and to be a man is closer than Homer could ever have imagined to being like in appearance to the immortal gods--as Psalm 8 put it, "a little lower than the angels," and as Genesis put it, made in the image of God.
. . .
Our final redemption will be, I think, a razor's-edge experience. Like so many modern wanderers, Camus was both right and wrong. We will not ultimately be responsible for our own face. If the gospel is true, this life, where we face ourselves in the mirror and take responsibility for all we see there, is rehearsal for another. And that life will begin, if I read St. Paul correctly, with a very close shave, the best a man can get. Another will be the barber. If we have practiced well, we will know what is coming: the blade will be applied at just the right angle to shear off the stubble. It will be terribly sharp and terribly close, but wielded with tremendous skill and care, it will divide who we truly can become from what we were never meant to be. Then cold water will splash against our skin; fragrant oil will leave us glistening and new. We will arise and go, godlike, to the feast.
"The Best a Man Can Get: In search of the perfect shave," by Andy Crouch, ChristianityToday.com, March/April 2006
- "How to get that perfect shave: Latest trends and products to avoid those nicks and cuts," by Corey Greenberg, Today, January 30, 2005
- The Fundamental Principles of Wet Shaving - from Geo F. Trumper
We tried China Star after reading Tyler Cowen's description, although we tend to eat more Cantonese than Szechuan. Come here if you like spicy food, although they do have less-spicy dishes, too.
The scallion chili chicken is excellent. You can order it with bone left in or bone taken out. We recommend bone left in for more flavor, although bone taken out will be a bit easier to eat.
Szechuan chili chicken (with bone left in)
The scallion fried fish is also excellent. Although the spicy chicken may look hotter, the fried fish was the spicy dish.
Szechuan scallion fried fish
Whenever we go to a new Szechuan restaurant, we always order the ma pao tofu. The standard against which we judge ma pao tofu is that served at Wu Liang Ye in NYC. While this dish is very good at China Star, it is not as good as the ma pao tofu at Wu Liang Ye.
ma pao tofu
Final note: the staff at China Star are among the friendliest we have ever encountered at a Chinese restaurant, anywhere.
China Star, web site, 9600 Main Street (Route 236), Fairfax, VA, 703-323-8822 (in Fair City Mall, the same shopping center as Kinko’s and Cinema Arts Theatre) [Tyler Cowen | Washingtonian | WaPo | City Paper | Don Rockwell | openlist | Citysearch]
Dead Programmer's Cafe has an interesting post on craftsmanship in software and construction, and links to a post by Joel Sporksy, who says:
[S]ometimes fixing a 1% defect takes 500% effort.
This Week in DC Reviews - April 14, 2006
Periodically, we will publish This Week in DC Reviews, a roundup of reviews of DC-area restaurants, with quick links to DC-area restaurant reviews and mentions from the previous seven days in blogs, magazines, and newspapers.
We haven't published a TWIR lately as we've been working on putting Tyler Cowen's Ethnic Dining Guide in blog format.
For a roundup of New York City restaurant reviews from NYC food bloggers and media, see This Week in NYC Reviews at A Guy In New York.
- Alex MacLennan has a noodle roundup ... and looks at A. Litteri: "While A. Litteri’s does not make their own pasta, they do have two impressive walls of pasta for their customers to choose from." ... web site, 517-519 Morse Street NE, 202-544-0184 ... Chinatown Express: "noodles were freshly handmade and remarkably consistent" ... 746 6th Street NW, 202-638-0425 [Tyler Cowen] ... Straits of Malaya: "Strait’s noodle magic is in their Cha Kway Teow, a dish entirely dominated by broad, flat rice noodles with a consistency as fresh and distinctive as those at Chinatown Express" ... web site, 1836 18th Street NW, 202-483-1483 ... and La Tomate: "Simple, healthy noodles: a return to an almost forgotten, rewarding way of life." ... web site, 1701 Connecticut Avenue NW, 202-667-5505 ...
- An Innocent Okie in King George's Court likes Bistro Francais, but wishes "we had more options for late night variety" ... try Full Kee ... web site (scroll down), 3128 M Street NW, 202-338-3830, Fri-Sat 11 am-4 am, Sun-Thu 11 am-3 am [Washingtonian | WaPo | City Paper | Don Rockwell | openlist | Yelp | Gayot]
- Suburban Tasteland says that "Though the Washington area has a handful of Jewish delis, if you want to experience the atmosphere of a true deli time capsule, similar to Katz’s in New York, you have to schlep out to Attman’s" in Baltimore ... "if you’re a true deli purist [stick] with the sandwiches and the pickles" ... "The hot pastrami had the perfect ratio of fat to lean, a nice smokiness, and an extra peppery end" ... web site, 1019 E. Lombard Street, Baltimore, MD, 410-563-2666 [Citysearch | Gayot | NYT] ... liked Hong Kong Palace ... "a fantastic Cantonese restaurant in Falls Church that also surprised us with their French Style Steak, an amazing French Vietnamese inspired dish" ... 6387 Leesburg Pike, Seven Corners Center, Falls Church, VA, 703-532-0940 (across the street from Sears, in the mall with Home Depot and Barnes and Noble, though both are down below on the other side of the mall) [Tyler Cowen] ... and writes that "For most folks, it’s just plain common sense that you don’t go to a hookah bar for the food." ... and then went to Cairo Cafe ... "The bazinjan mekhalil turned out be baby eggplants that clearly had been festering in some sort of otherworldly brine." ... "The falafel were among the worst we’ve ever had." ... "the food was absolutely dreadful [but] exotic beveraging opportunities abound." ... 6244-H Little River Turnpike, Alexandria, VA, 703-750-3551 [Tyler Cowen | Yelp]
- Lagniappe says the food at Bardia's "is hit-or-miss. The fried foods were meh, the jambalaya bland. The creole was pretty good for the DC area, but the price point was too high for what it is" ... 2412 18th Street NW, Washington, DC, 202-234-0420 [NYT | City Paper] ... and Acadiana: "Decent gumbo when served at Restaurant Week prices. But I've never been a big fan of the Passion Food Hospitality chain of restaurants, so your mileage may vary" ... web site, 901 New York Avenue NW, Washington, DC, 202-393-1510 [Tyler Cowen | WaPo | The Hill | City Paper | Don Rockwell | Gayot]
- DC Food Blog "just discovered a gem in our own backyard": Ellington’s ... "the beef Mafe [was] divine. This was like an African goulash with peanut butter both thickening the sauce and giving it a rich flavor" ... 424 Eighth Street SE, 202-546-8308 [WaPo | City Paper | Don Rockwell | openlist]
- Tom Sietsema gave 1.5 stars to The Quarry House... but the regulars are complaining about changes new owners have introduced, including burgers made with organic beef ... "The burger? Sometimes it's overcooked, other times it's as juicy as you want it to be. Always, it is thick, nicely seasoned and presented on a fine sesame seed bun in a plastic basket, like all the chow here." ... 8401 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD, 301-587-9406 ... and gave 2 stars to Birreria Paradiso ... "Frankly, I prefer drinking (and eating) upstairs, where sunlight pours through the windows by day and the massive, wood-burning pizza oven serves as a focal point. While the birreria counts some charms --- a fireplace, a stone-fronted bar, wood beams overhead --- it looks like a suburban rec room pretending to be a tavern. Yet the enthusiasm of the youthful staff and the moderate tabs make up for its deficiencies" ... "try a sandwich, the best of which pairs full-flavored lamb with a good roll and a garnish of pickled vegetables." ... 3282 M Street NW, Washington, DC, 202-337-1245
- You Gonna Eat All That? has been out of town ... liked Hennen's in Chattanooga, TN ... "menu is limited but this isn't a bad thing. The choices are well balanced and there's something for everyone." ... "the Sweet Ginger Calamari [was] was cooked to perfection." ... "the best damn Caesar salad I've had in ages" ... "Hennen's really knows how to cook their seafood" ... web site, 193 Chestnut Street, Chattanooga, TN, 423-634-5160 [The Pulse]
- DC Chefs features Kazuhiro Okochi of KAZ Sushi Bistro ... web site, 1915 Eye Street NW, 202-530-5500 [Economist | Washingtonian | WaPo | The Hill | City Paper | Don Rockwell | openlist | Gayot]
- D.C. Foodies updated his "Top 5 Restaurants" ... Komi, 1509 17th Street NW, 202-332-9200 [Economist | Washingtonian | WaPo | City Paper | Don Rockwell | openlist] ... Corduroy (previous reviews: You Gonna Eat All That? (TWIR, February 17, 2006), A Blog Mainly About Food (TWIR, December 16, 2005)) ... web site, Four Points Hotel, 1201 K Street NW, 202-589-0699 [Washingtonian | WaPo | City Paper | Don Rockwell | openlist | Gayot] ... Ray's the Steaks (previous review: A Blog Mainly About Food (TWIR, December 9, 2005)) ... 1725 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, 703-841-7297 [Washingtonian | WaPo | City Paper | Don Rockwell | openlist | Gayot] ... 2 Amys: (previous reviews: Tarting it Up (TWIR, February 24, 2006), A Blog Mainly About Food (TWIR, December 9, 2005)) ... 3715 Macomb Street NW, Washington, DC, 202-885-5700 [Washingtonian | WaPo | City Paper | Don Rockwell | openlist | Gayot] ... Circle Bistro, web site, 1 Washington Circle NW, 202-293-5390 [Washingtonian | WaPo | City Paper | Don Rockwell | openlist | Gayot] ...
- The Washington Times, in a review with no byline of W Domku Bar & Cafe asks, "A Scandinavian-Eastern European restaurant in Petworth? Can that be right? Yes, and it's done right, too."... "While friendly, the service is slow." ... "the food is solid and unusual, if not fancy" ... "mussels steamed in a cream and aquavit broth were wonderful" ... "the Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes and lingonberry preserves [are] are perfectly seasoned" ... 821 Upshur Street NW, Washington, DC, 202-722-2747 [WaPo | City Paper]
Did we miss your favorite DC restaurant review?
Let us know: hobnobblog -at- gmail.com ... we're especially interested in hearing from DC bloggers ...
Technorati Tags: washington, dc, washington-dc, restaurants, restaurant reviews, this week in reviews, week in reviews
Ethanol / Back Up Energy Usage
[Vinod Khosla, who helped found Sun Microsystems] is particularly enthused by “cellulosic” ethanol, a highly efficient way of making fuel from agricultural waste. President Bush touted this new technology in his recent state-of-the-union speech, suggesting that it may come to market in six years. In typically impatient form, Mr Khosla wants to halve that gestation period.
. . .
Mr Khosla is convinced that “this fuel is greener, cheaper, more secure than gasoline--and this shift won't cost the consumer, automakers or the government anything.” There are undoubted attractions to ethanol. But making the switch will surely not be as easy or cheap as he suggests. Retail distribution is one obvious problem: fewer than a thousand petrol stations in America sell the most desirable blend of ethanol fuel today. Expanding infrastructure will cost money and take time, and the oil industry is not exactly enthusiastic. And cellulosic technology, which seems so promising today, may take much longer than expected to achieve commercial scale, or might fail altogether.
What is more, the OPEC cartel is suspected by some of engineering occasional price collapses to bankrupt investment in alternative energy. Mr Khosla concedes that after he made his ethanol pitch at this year's Davos meeting, a senior Saudi oil official sweetly reminded him that it costs less than a dollar to lift a barrel of Saudi oil out of the ground, adding: “If biofuels start to take off we will drop the price of oil.”
"A healthier addiction: Vinod Khosla, a Silicon Valley billionaire, who wants to save the world from oil," The Economist, March 23, 2006
Back Up Energy Usage
Strange though it seems, a typical microwave oven consumes more electricity powering its digital clock than it does heating food. For while heating food requires more than 100 times as much power as running the clock, most microwave ovens stand idle—in “standby” mode—more than 99% of the time. And they are not alone: many other devices, such as televisions, DVD players, stereos and computers also spend much of their lives in standby mode, collectively consuming a huge amount of energy. Moves are being made around the world to reduce this unnecessary power consumption, called “standby power”.
- National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
- Standby Power FAQ - from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
- Cellulosic ethanol - Wikipedia
- Ethanol - Wikipedia
- Energy Star - Wikipedia
- CRS Reports
- "Fuel Ethanol: Background and Public Policy Issues," by Brent Yacobucci, RL33290, March 3, 2006 (26-page pdf )
- "Agriculture-Based Renewable Energy Production," by Randy Schnepf, RL32712, February 28, 2006 (41-page pdf )
- "Renewable Energy: Tax Credit, Budget, and Electricity Production Issues," by Fred Sissine, IB10041, February 17, 2006 (19-page pdf )
- "Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Legislation in the 109th Congress," by Fred Sissine, RL32860, February 9, 2006 (48-page pdf )
- "Energy Policy: Historical Overview, Conceptual Framework, and Continuing Issues," by Robert Bamberger, RL31720, January 18, 2006 (17-page pdf )
- "Alternative Fuels and Advanced Technology Vehicles: Issues in Congress," by Brent Yacobucci, IB10128, January 6, 2006 (14-page pdf )
- "Energy Efficiency: Budget, Oil Conservation, and Electricity Conservation Issues," by Fred Sissine, IB10020, January 20, 2006 (19-page pdf )
The Americans for Prosperity Foundation Ending Earmarks Express has hit the road!
Follow Americans for Prosperity Foundation as we tour the country visiting the sites that have received the most egregious wastes of taxpayer dollars and fight to end the process of attaching hidden earmarks to legislation by our elected officials.
[Alan Mollohan's] seniority on the Appropriations and ethics cmtes raises larger and fundamental questions about the use and abuse of earmarks.
"Mollohan Story: A Game-Changer?" Hotline on Call, April 7, 2006
The Power of the Press
We are witnessing the last growl of the unbridled power of the press. Some in the press would like to think -- but would not be stupid enough to brag -- that they could "destroy people" for a living. And though they certainly can cause headaches for people in the spotlight, the odds of fatality go down by the day as there are more and more means of response. Now the targets can turn the tables on the journalists. I’ve seen reporters go ballistic when their emails to sources or transcripts of their interviews are published on blogs. Well, tough. What’s good for the goose is now grist for the gander.
At the same time, journalists are not the great gatekeepers they once were. Flacks are. In the old days, reporters had access to the press and that gave them power no subject could match. But when celebrities discovered the value of their faces to market media, they gained the upper hand. Now, you won’t hear a reporter or columnist threatening to ruin a star. Instead, you’ll hear the star’s publicist threatening to cut off a magazine or show if they don’t obey demands to grant a cover, approve a photo, or select a reporter.
"The last gasp of the power of the press," by Jeff Jarvis, BuzzMachine, April 8, 2006
VW Golf GTI
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been feeling sorry for Volkswagen for a while now. VW didn’t so much lose their mojo as strap it to the nose of a Titan IVB and fire it into deep space. No disrespect to the world’s fifth most populous country, but was anyone really surprised when a VW Golf construído en Brazil turned out like bobo de camarao cooked in Lower Saxony? Now that Vee Dub’s got THAT out of their system, here comes the new, Wolfsburg-built Golf GTI. It’s an Old School hot hatch with a Masters in High Tech. Da lata!
. . .
Bottom line: you can blast the GTI through a bend almost twice as quickly as you’d imagine possible-- at least at first. Once you get used to the GTI’s adhesive tenacity, once you accept the fact that the understeer slide justain’tgonnahappen.com, only the cleanliness of your license, children on board and the stupidity of fellow road users prevent you from endless adrenal indulgence. Although the GTI rides a bit like a proper sports car tied down with rubber bands, it’s comfortable enough to enable a daily fast.
The GTI's combination of balls-out fun, affordability and everyday practicality made the original hot hatch a working class hero. In that sense, June’s four-door GTI will be the better-- and better-looking-- bet. And while there’s no question that the new GTI represents a welcome return to form for cash-strapped pistonheads, the jury is out on the reliability part of the practicality equation. If that’s an issue, I strongly recommend that you do NOT test drive the new Golf GTI DSG until AFTER you’ve read Consumer Reports.
"Volkswagen Golf GTI DSG," by Robert Farago, The Truth About Cars, April 6, 2006
Plumbers - designated drinkers - hip anatacids
While many students would be motivated by career-and-college prep, others have no interest in spending more time in the classroom than absolutely necessary. They want the academic skills needed to train for a skilled trade with decent pay. The good news is that if they learn enough to qualify as apprentice plumbers, they'll know enough to take advantage of community college classes. In fact, it takes higher reading, writing and math skills to get into apprenticeships than it does to get into two-year colleges.
"Turned on by career classes," Joanne Jacobs, April 6, 2006
Plumbers do more than make it easy for you to get a glass of water; they’re lifesavers. Throughout history, millions of people have died due to a lack of clean water. Diseases such as cholera, dysentery, typhus, typhoid fever, and even the plague, were all related to poor sanitation and infected water sources. Thanks to advances in plumbing in the late 1800s, these diseases are now rare in developed countries.
. . .
The average yearly salary for plumbers in 2004 was $44,510, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Keep in mind that apprentices start work at half the salary earned by experienced workers. You can expect to receive raises throughout your training though, often every six months.
"Career: Plumbers," CollegeBoard.com
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has been cracking down hard on bar patrons who are exceedingly drunk. Through sting operations at watering holes around the state, TABC officers are nabbing drinkers who've tossed back a few too many, with the idea that the operation will cut down on drunk driving.
"I Guess It's Like a Country Where You Can't Get Drunk," by Zach Patton, 13th Floor, April 7, 2006
Mr. Thomas [of Thomas Pharmaceuticals Ltd.] had his eureka marketing moment after viewing a spate of antacid commercials on TV. He realized the market was vast, but it had a gap: some antacids had fizz, but their presentation lacked pizzazz. "There has to be a consumer in this marketplace who wants something with a little bit of style and substance," he says.
Chic relief won't come cheap. A tin of 32 spearmint-flavored Acid+All tablets will cost about $3.89 (more if you buy them in a hotel); by contrast, a 3-roll pack of Rolaids totaling 36 tablets sells for $1.99 at Duane Reade and the same amount of Tums runs $2.39.
. . .
"There's definitely a market for hip drugs for not-so-hip diseases," Ms. Leigh says. "A lot of manufacturers are repackaging to be hipper. There's so much competition that you need to differentiate." She notes that after Sucrets throat lozenges brought back its old tin packaging, sales of the product rose 50% at Drugstore.com in the fourth quarter of 2005. Rolaids, for one, now has "Softchews," which it sells in gum-like packaging in flavors including Wild Cherry.
"Will Heartburn Sufferers Pay for Chic Relief?" by Gwendolyn Bounds, Startup Journal, April 7, 2006
Who do you think will pay twice as much for a hip antacid rather than Rolaids? Someone with a college degree or a plumber?
China's "cheap" labor
Well, the Chinese are running out of those 19-year-old females just off the farm and ready to work for nothing. And they’ll continue to run out of them until Beijing’s leaders allow for private land ownership in the countryside, which will lead to realistic land valuation there, push even more people into the cities, and allow the accumulation of the capital necessary to further modernize the agricultural sector.
. . .
But even [the Fifth Generation of Chinese leaders] would have to admit that there’s something deeply and structurally wrong with China’s economy when “even in the heartland of a booming China, peasants can make far more money collecting plastic trash bags, tin cans and the rubber soles of shoes than they can as farmers or ordinary day laborers.”
"China’s 'endless' cheap labor. It was great while it lasted," Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, April 6, 2006
Whoopi Goldberg discovers ... girls soccer
News flash: Girly girls like to play soccer! Whoopi Goldberg thinks her show about a girls' soccer team will break new ground, showing that sports aren't just for boys or tomboys.
. . .
I think girls' soccer became a staple of American childhood at least 20 years ago.
"Whoopi discovers girls' sports," Joanne Jacobs, April 5, 2006
[in Kent Brockman voice] "Next up: Whoopi Goldberg discovers ... girls play tennis!"
- Washington Area Girls Soccer League
- Old Dominion Soccer League
- Baltimore Beltway Soccer League
- Arlington Travel Soccer Club
- Alexandria Soccer Association
- Bethesda Soccer Club
- Braddock Road Youth Club Travel Soccer
- Chantilly Soccer Club
- Gunston Soccer Club
- FC Frederick
"TX 22: Storied Career to End When DeLay Leaves Hill"
Tom DeLay’s rise to the pinnacle of influence on Capitol Hill was characterized by iron-fisted control over his House Republican colleagues, and a cozy relationship with lobbyists.
The former House majority leader’s slide from that perch, which appeared complete Monday night as word spread that he was abandoning the Texas seat he has held since 1985, began as he and some of his closest associates sank into a quagmire of legal and ethical allegations, many of them related to the associations he built with K Street.
And as the whiff of scandal grew stronger, DeLay’s House colleagues, many of whom had respected or feared him not long ago, quickly turned elsewhere for leadership, despite DeLay’s insistence that his troubles were politically motivated attacks orchestrated by Democrats.
DeLay’s decision to leave Congress comes after a key former aide, Tony Rudy, pleaded guilty March 31 to a conspiracy charge in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal.
. . .
CQ rates the general election race as No Clear Favorite. Please visit CQPolitics.com’s Election Forecaster for ratings on all races.
"TX 22: Storied Career to End When DeLay Leaves Hill," by Daniel J. Parks, CQPolitics.com, April 4, 2006
- "Exclusive: Tom DeLay Says He Will Give Up His Seat," by Mike Allen, TIME, April 3, 2006
- "Q&A: Tom DeLay Talks with TIME," an interview of Tom DeLay by Mike Allen, TIME, April 3, 2006
Free the Garden Gnomes!
A long time ago when mankind was still drawing pictures on cave walls there was a great city within which there lived the highest developed species on the planet - GNOMES.
Gnome City stretched as far as the Gnome eye could see; its sapphire towers dazzled against the clear blue sky; its golden walls glittered in the sunlight. In Gnome City there were no cars, no fax machines and no computers - all was well.
"Gnome Story," from Gnome City
When I returned to the States and heard about Le Front de Liberation de Nains de Jardin (the Liberation Front for Garden Gnomes) -- a French activist group that abducts the wee garden ornaments, repaints them in unrecognizable hues, and sets them "free" in nearby forests -- I knew my former neighbor would be in a torment.
"Garden Gnomes do not prefer woods," I could hear her tsking over a steaming cup of Earl Grey. "Otherwise, they would be Woodland Gnomes, wouldn't they, dear?"
More recently, I heard about a German group that has taken the "emancipation" to a more ominous extreme, photographing abducted gnomes at international landmarks and sending the pictures to the gnomes' former owners. One such photograph was taken at Mount Rushmore with the captors wearing bandits' masks that barely hid their mirth. Copycat crimes have appeared in other regions of the gnome-loving world: Holland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Finland, Russia, Bulgaria, Hungary, and, here, in the United States.
"Gnome Sweet Gnome: Protecting against the threat of garden gnome theft is no small undertaking," by Silke Tudor, sfweekly, October 18, 2000
Plastic, gaudy and above all cheap, armies of garden gnomes huddle at Polish roadsides near the German border waiting to be snapped up by bargain-hunting tourists from the west.
The gnome armies are the apogee of central European kitsch, but they also signify something far more important. The little men are seen by many in Germany as pathfinders for other Poles who will offer an avalanche of cheap produce once the country enters the European Union on May 1.
A trade war has been raging between gnome manufacturers on both sides of the border since the early 1990s when Polish entrepreneurs, bursting for opportunities after decades of communist-era restrictions, recognised that with cheap labour, low-cost materials and lack of environmental legislation they could vastly undercut the prices of German gnomes. At least five million have been sold.
"The gnomes of Warsaw are lesson for future of new Europe," by Kate Connolly, news.telegraph, May 3, 2004
The dormant Garden Gnome Liberation Front has sprung back to life, stealing about 20 gnomes during a nighttime raid on a Paris exhibition.
"We demand ... that garden gnomes are no longer ridiculed and that they be released into their natural habitat," the Front's Paris wing said in a statement following its weekend strike.
France's first garden gnome exhibition in the exclusive Bagatelle park on the outskirts of the capital opened last month and has been a hit with the public as chic Parisians develop a taste for kitsch culture.
. . .
The Garden Gnome Liberation Front vanished from the public eye in 1997 after a northern French court handed its ringleader a suspended prison sentence and fined him for his part in the disappearance of around 150 gnomes.
The only suspected sighting of the organization since then was a mass suicide of gnomes at Briey in eastern France in September 1998, when 11 of them were found dangling by their necks under a bridge.
A letter found nearby said: "When you read these few words we will no longer be part of your selfish world, where we serve merely as pretty decoration."
"Garden Gnome Liberation Front strikes Paris show," CNN, April 13, 2000
A secret underwater attraction that lured several divers to their deaths could have returned, police say.
The "gnome garden" complete with picket fence was removed from the bottom of Wastwater in the Lake District after several divers died a few years ago.
It is thought they spent too much time at too great a depth while searching for the site of the ornaments.
Now police divers say there is a rumour that the garden has returned at a depth beyond which they are allowed.
Pc Kenny McMahon, a member of the North West Police Underwater Search Unit, said the gnomes were well known among the diving community.
"Underwater gnome threat 'returns'," BBC News, February 14, 2005
French police are trying to find homes for over 80 garden gnomes kidnapped in eastern France earlier this year.
The tiny, bearded ornaments were taken by the self-styled Gnome Liberation Front from homes in the town of Saint-Die-des-Vosges.
They resurfaced lined up on the steps of the local church one Sunday morning.
Police have never caught the culprits, but the gnomes' owners seem strangely reluctant to come forward to claim their stolen property.
"French garden gnomes need homes," by Caroline Wyatt, BBC News, December 29, 2003
hat tip normblog, "War of the gnomes"
- Garden Gnome Liberation Front - wikipedia
- Gnome - wikipedia
- Garden Gnomes Need Homes
- FreeTheGnomes.com - "provides Garden Gnome Liberation information and calls to action. We advocate an end to oppressive gardening and freedom for garden gnomes everywhere."
- Funny Garden Gnomes - from PrankPlace