FOX News Whistleblowers

This is a very scary video of testimony by two reporters (Jane Akre and Steve Wilson) who say that FOX News tried to coerce them into dropping a highly damaging story about a sponsor, Monsanto. The report discussed Monsanto’s use of bovine growth hormone to produce dairy products, and how Monsanto’s own research indicated that this might have made the milk carcinogenic. Since, at the time, Monsanto owned G. D. Searle & Company, which in turned owned Nutrasweet, Metamucil, and Dramamine (frequent advertisers), Monsanto was able to use financial leverage to pressure FOX News into dropping the report. FOX of course caved like a sugar-addicted toddler being threatened with candy sanctions, and tried to pressure (and bribe) the reporters to drop the story.

I’ll let you watch/read the rest, but here are some more delightful products Monsanto has owned or produced (besides killer milk and :

  • Celebrex: Sound familiar? It was the arthritis drug that had the unfortunate side-effect of, oh, death. Good thing the FDA caught… wait, never mind (to clarify the Pfizer aspect: Monsanto-owned Pharmacia developed the drug – shortly afterward Pfizer acquired Pharmacia (just go to the website for Pharmacia).
  • Ambien: for putting Americans everywhere to sleep. And doing all sorts of freaky stuff in the meantime.
  • Enovid, the first commercial oral contraceptive (aka “The Pill”)
  • Disneyland Hall of Chemistry
    And… drum roll, please,
  • Agent M—f—-g Orange.


    p.s. As a highly relevant aside, G. D. Searle & Company was the owner of Nutrasweet, and there was some amount of controversy over whether it should be allowed on the market despite tests that were of some concern. Fortunately for Searle, a capable leader was on-hand to make sure Nutrasweet got past all that pesky red tape: Donald Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld later left the company once the acquisition by Monsanto was complete.

    p.p.s. Here’s a very recent article in New Scientist saying that Aspartame was “given the all clear”. Read more closely and you’ll see that all it says was that an earlier study that said it was dangerous was flawed, not that any subsequent studies indicated that it was safe. In other words, it’s a temporary reprieve, not an all-clear. The study needs to be done again in a more controlled fashion.

  • Good News to Scream About

    Edvard Munch’s stolen masterpiece “The Scream” has been found. They think.


    MSM Betting On Armeggeddon

    Here’s a clip of Jon Stewart taking the MSM to task for giving quite a bit of airtime to discussing the idea that the apocalypse is coming. The best part is FOX news aggressively asking a priest for date when the apocalypse would start. Hard-hitting stuff.


    Katrina One Year Later

    I’m sticking to my conclusions that Katrina was anything but natural. I wrote about by initial reactions here, FEMA here, but what I’d like to reiterate is from my “2005 Suuuuucked” post:

    Shortly afterward, Hurricaine Katrina. I mean, Holy S—. A major American city, rich with history and culture, all but wiped out. And one of the worst parts is that just about every aspect of the disaster could have been prevented. From the levees to the shockingly incompetent response to the obnoxious stonewalling by insurance companies, it brought out the worst in human nature.

    When I say “just about every aspect of the disaster could have been prevented”, there’s a good case for saying that that includes the hurricaine itself. But even ignoring that, it’s quite clear the American government failed the people of New Orleans in almost every possible way, at every stage (from preparation to prevention to crisis management to reconstruction, and everything in between).

    The tragedy of Hurricaine Katrina will be remembered as a shameful chapter in America’s history.


    Wait… Wha?

    I did a double-take looking at this Reuters headline:
    Annan urges quick end to Israel, Hizbollah disputes

    The obviously correct way to read this is:
    Annan urges quick end to [Israel vs. Hizbollah] disputes

    But for some reason my brain saw:
    Annan urges quick end to Israel, [which] Hizbollah disputes


    Star Wars – Spot the Difference

    Via TheForce.Net, Star Wars (the official site) has a slideshow of the differences between the 1977 (theatrical) and 2004 (DVD) releases of Episode IV.

    I didn’t get to the part where Han shoots first (there are 122 photos) – hopefully they didn’t leave that part out…

    UPDATE: I don’t think they’re making a strong case for the changes with this pair of screenshots.


    When a Picture Is Worth Infinite Words…

    …Because the words in the caption are worthless.

    I’m referring to this picture from the IDF, published by the AP.

    The caption is “In this picture released by the Israeli Defense Forces, an Israeli bulldozer destroys a Hezbollah bunker in southern Lebanon Sunday, Aug. 27, 2006. (AP Photo/Israel Defense Forces).”

    If you’re like me (not particularly eagle-eyed), you are probably wondering what the big deal is. The answer is off in the distance, on the left side of the photo. Apparently that particular Hezbollah base had a friendly neighbor…

    The point is – WHY ISN’T THIS IN THE F—–G AP CAPTION?!? Did no one in AP notice, or was it a deliberate omission? In other words, incompetence or dishonesty?


    Why I Hate Gawker Stalker

    No, not because its real-time stalking map is a horrible violation of people’s privacy – it’s because it shows how celebrities avoid my supposedly hip neighborhood of Gramercy like the plague:

    I mean come on! True – there are no Upper West Side sightings either, but it’s almost like celebrities are making a concerted effort to sidestep my ‘hood.

    If you take out #10 (“Serena Williams at Paragon Sports on Broadway and 18th”), it’s like we’re in celebrity quarantine or something.

    My theory is that unlike residents of, say, SoHo or the Lower East Side, we Gramercerians don’t feel the need to gush every time a mildly famous personage enters our sites.

    So screw you Gawker Stalker – we don’t need your stinkin’ celebs! And my neighborhood is cool!

    UPDATE: D’oh! I linked to the freakin’ photo wrong, ruining the whole post! Which I’ll admit, was of shaky quality to begin with…


    CSS vs. Tables

    Here’s a comment I just posted on Frederic BRUNEL’s blog:

    I think we’re at a stage where a growing percentage of designers will dismiss your work if they see tables used in the source code. Table proponents generally don’t care one way or another – if anything, they’re impressed by pure CSS layouts. So for the sake of job security, if nothing else, I recommend moving away from tables ASAP.

    That said, I still use them (I’m not a designer, though) ;-)

    The topic is the ever-raging tables vs. CSS debate. The CSS Zen Garden converted me to CSS :-) But since I have much more experience working with tables for layout, it’s a lot easier for me to use them – especially for quick and dirty website work.


    My Firefox Extensions

    I’m a huge fan of Firefox (Mozilla’s browser), so I decided I’m going to bore you with what extensions I have installed. :-) The fact that they even have extensions is already a huge boost over the rapidly aging Internet Explorer. Much of Firefox’s power comes from the fact that it’s completely extensible – anyone can create an extension that fulfills some sort of need, however obscure. Really obscure.

    Anyway, some of these extensions are really useful and/or interesting, and really give you tools that you never realized you needed. And of course, once you get used to them you don’t want to give them up… which you’ll have to if you’re forced to use IE for any reason.

    Moving right along, a sample of some of my extensions, in no particular order:

  • Copy As Plain Text. Ever copy something from a webpage, and when you paste it, say, into an e-mail, you find that the font was pasted too, and it messes everything up? This extension helps quite a bit with that.
  • FormFox. This handy little tool tells you where that “Submit” button is really going before you click it. Paranoid people rejoice.
  • If your paranoia is a step above most, you’ll need an anonymous proxy extension. I have FoxyProxy, but I mostly use TorButton, which is based on the EFF‘s excellent Tor software. On a side note, the EFF is suing Barney – you gotta respect that. And you can’t make that stuff up.
  • For the truly paranoid: TrackMeNot. This extension “[p]rotects against search data profiling by issuing randomized queries to popular search-engines (sic) with fake data.” In other words, it will spit out junk to all the search engines every few minutes so they can’t tell which of your searches are real and which are gibberish. When AOL sells your data to the highest bidder, the bidder may be dismayed to see that you search for things like “artistic caterpillars” and “lemon dashboard” every 45 seconds.
  • Nuke Anything Enhanced: Bad name, great extension. Basically, if you’re trying to print an article, and there’s a big ugly Flash ad in the way, you can use this extension to temporarily expurgate it. It’s not a full-featured ad blocker (that would be AdBlock) – just a quick fix for REALLY annoying web pages.
  • FlashBlock. This is a good one – basically you have a whitelist of websites that are allowed to play Flash files. If a site is not on the whitelist, a placeholder for the Flash movie is shown, and the movie won’t load until you click on the placeholder. It’s one of my favorite extensions, and it speeds up web page load times too!
  • Gmail Notifier. Just a cute little button in the corner that tells me when I have Gmail.
  • Video Downloader. A little buggy, but it gets the job done. The job being letting you download videos from YouTube, Google Video, iFilm, etc etc etc. I’m going to try out DownloadHelper as an alternative, though – I’m not crazy about Video Downloader when it comes to YouTube…
  • XML Developer. I just just got this one and it’s really cool. It will load any XML document for you and help you work with it. My favorite feature so far is the “Create Schema” tool, which automatically creates a schema file for an XML you give it. Since XSD is ugly as sin, it’s nice to have a tool that takes care of this for you in a very simple way. It also has an XPath evaluator and an XSLT transformation engine. A must for any XML developer.
  • And speaking of extensions for developers: Web Developer. For me, this is by far the most useful extension for Firefox. It does EVERYTHING – it lets you: disable Javascript/Images/Redirects/Cache, outline Images/HTML Elements/Links (incredibly useful for dealing with layout problems), track down broken links, edit CSS on the fly (and see the results immediately), validate your HTML… Whew! And I didn’t even cover half of its features. It’s a keeper!
  • IE View Lite. Some pages just aren’t Firefox friendly. Luckily, there’s an extension that lets you open up a link externally in IE (when you absolutely, positively have to).
  • ScreenGrab. It takes a screenshot of the web page you’re looking at – either the whole page or just what fits in the window. I haven’t really tested it, but it’s a really cool idea!
  • Finally, NikkelWHOIS. A very cute tool that tells you who’s behind the website you’re currently looking at.

    So that’s it. I have plenty more extensions installed on my machine, but this post is getting a little lengthy for a YYWW post… And I haven’t even scratched the surface of the constantly growing library of extensions! Here’s Firefox’s extensions page – Go nuts!


    p.s. BUT… some of these extensions may install adware or worse, so be careful while you’re going nuts. Read the user comments, and try to find a privacy policy on the developer’s page.
    p.p.s. Apparently some developers (using a pseudonym) give bad ratings to their competitors so their own extension looks better. Sleazy stuff…