Thursday, January 31, 2008

What would I do with no Internetz?

Most folks over the age of 18, or I guess maybe 20, remember a time when there was no Internet. When we really mailed messages and we actually went to the bank and bought newspapers, and of course research meant a library and an encyclopedia. I'm not going for a "Trip Down Memory Lane" like forwards my moms sends around, I'm just trying to imagine how the sudden lost of the Internet would effect my work, school and personal existence.

Today, it was widely reported that much of South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa were experiencing serious internet disturbances. These problems not only affect these nations but also those companies in the US and the UK which outsource help from there.

Folks in Dubai believe these internet problems are caused by cuts in international undersea cables. The BBC reports:

The company said: "We are working actively with the submarine cable system operators (FLAG Telecom and SEA-ME-WE 4) to ascertain the reasons for the cables being cut," it said. FLAG Telecoms operate the Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG), a 28,000km (17,400 mile) long submarine communications cable.

EA-ME-WE 4, or the South East Asia-Middle East-West Europe 4 project, is a submarine cable linking South East Asia to Europe via the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East. Neither of the cable operators have confirmed the cause or location of the outage but some reports suggest it was caused by a ship's anchor near the port of Alexandria in Egypt.

There was disruption to 70% of the nationwide internet network in Egypt on Wednesday, while India suffered up to 60% disruption. International telephone calls, which have also been affected, are being rerouted to work around the problem.

It's hard to imagine what a vital part of our economy, communication and personal lives the Internet has become. It is our lifeblood. At my office, for instance, aside from using email and our website for much of our work, we also run a web-based database and use VOIP phones--if the internet was down for a day we might as well all go home. No one could work for more than 35 minutes without hitting an obstacle.

Clearly, my life as a Blogger and as a student would be severely affected without my beloved internet, but there's just no comparison to losing the massive communications networks of major cities. I live in the United States, at this point on the precipice of a possible recession, and I read everyday how the smallest things effect the larger economy, like the price of oil--I can't imagine how large the loss of communication for a day, a week, maybe more could effect the viability of an entire nation.

I know we are addicted to oil, but there seems to be a goal in mind to help us kick the habit. How can we alleviate our dependence on the Internet? Is it impossible?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

One More Reason Why Cats Rock.

Although we have left our cats alone for a few days at a time, I still doubt that any one of them could successfully compete on an episode of Cat Survivor. They are spoiled and needy and, unfortunately, not that bright.

When a friend sent me this article this morning about a cat who travelled secretly in a suitcase from Florida to Texas (including going the airport X-ray machine and riding the baggage belt) I was pretty impressed. Riding in the suitcase is a new one, accomplished by that little feline Gracie Mae, but when in comes to secret, undercover foreign travel shes still a tabby in training. Here are three other covert-cats who travelled the world and lived to tell about it:

Emily traveled from Wisconsin to France, remaining undetected in a cargo container in 2005. Adorably, Continental spokesman Philippe Fleury commented, "I don't think she'll drink champagne but I think she will be happy to rest." They then packed her back up in a storage container and shipped her back to her grateful family in Wisconsin, this time with some tuna and a bottle of Perrier. Just kidding, she flew home with mad style in business class, presumably for free.

Another cat-adventurer is Ziggy, a snow-white, kitty who took a 17 day vacation from Israel to Britain. Although most likely more than a little seasick, Ziggy was still alive and fluffy when discovered. At the time of this article in 2006, the Brits were still trying to locate Zig's family in Israel, which I can imagine is partly due to the language barrier. Oh Ziggy, I hope you found your way home!

In 2007 a cat named spice spent 3 weeks crossing the Pacific Ocean in a shipping container traveling with her family's goods moving from Hawaii to San Bernadino, CA. Whats most remarkable is that it takes 3 weeks for a shipping container to travel between Hawaii and California. Spice was a little dehydrated, but a vet prescribed a traditional family recipe of some soup made of chicken broth and marrow. Sick.

Again, I'm pretty surprised that cats survive these sort of things. Just the other night, the History Channel showed a new documentary called Life After People. The awesome 2 hour documentary predicted the future of the Earth if humans were to vanish. Ultimately, the conclusion was that everything we have created would be completely gone in 1000 years--no record of us at all, but that nature would flourish as it had before humans were around. In the documentary the cat did pretty well for itself. The website described the cats fate as such:

Cats - Indoor cats will need to get outside to survive, as after munching on leftover food and drinking melt water from freezers, they will soon run out of provisions. Once outside, cats have a great chance at survival. Because they have generally retained their independent natures and are natural hunters, they will quite easily return to the wild and provide for themselves by hunting birds and rodents. They will, however, have to watch out once predators, such as bobcats, coyotes and wolves, move back into abandoned human neighborhoods.

Good for you, cats! I doubt dogs could survive a three week journey at sea in a storage crate. Now to go home and start teaching Shake, Eli and Monroe some survival skills. I wonder if they would like Tae-Bo?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Today, I Blog For Choice

Why Do I Vote Pro-Choice?
I vote pro-choice because I cannot fathom living in a world where my body is not my own. I cannot imagine living in a world where "being responsible" about a pregnancy means having a baby, not making the best decision for me. Making abortion illegal is condoning the belief that women's lives are not their own, that men own women like property and are free to ask them to preserve their virginity, to give them away in marriage, or to make laws that take away their ability to choose what is best for themselves. This is not only dangerous for women everywhere who will still obtain unsafe abortions without medical assistance, but dangerous for women who forced to carry a child may lose their job, their education and their future.
There is no victim in an abortion like right-wingers try to prove. A doctor who assists in an abortion is not a criminal who barges into the homes of healthy women and steals away their babies. A boyfriend or husband of a woman who chooses to have an abortion does not own the decision, especially because abortions are a decision about an unplanned pregnancy, there is no room for a man to assert the woman is taking anything away from him. The fetus has not yet joined society. A woman who has an abortion, especially in a legal, caring, medical environment has considered options, received counseling and made a choice. She is not a victim.
A society which takes away the freedom of choice for a woman is akin to a society which does not allow certain racial or religious groups take part in elections. Overturning Roe v. Wade would be resorting to some of the darkest, most appalling times in our nation's history, and as a woman, as an American...jeez, as a human being-- that would truly sadden me.

CNN Covers Sexist/Racist CNN? How Meta...

Finally, aggressive reader responses to one of CNN's thinly veiled sexist and/or racist articles has finally been awarded an acknowledgment from CNN. Clearly, there is no apology in this article on today, but at the very least they quoted some strongly worded emails from readers who were offended by CNN's coverage of Obama as a "black" candidate and Clinton as the "top female candidate."

The article about which readers were specifically angered was "Gender or race: Black women voters face tough choices in S.C.", obvious from the title an article that takes political issues directly out of the equation for black women voters, assuming they vote only based on race or sex. Personally, I think the most amusing reader comment in the CNN response article was this:

An e-mailer named Tiffany responded sarcastically: "Duh, I'm a black woman and here I am at the voting booth. Duh, since I'm illiterate I'll pull down the lever for someone. Hm... Well, he black so I may vote for him... oh wait she a woman I may vote for her... What Ise gon' do? Oh lordy!"

I'm so used to reading coverage of this election that is both racist and sexist, but finally I feel like I'm seeing legitimate angry responses to this disappointing trend. CNN may not have apologize for targeting their white, male audience and undermining the entire American voting population, but at least they are publishing some objections. For an example check out this great Op-Ed from Bob Herbert at The New York Times called "Politics and Misogyny".

Friday, January 18, 2008

Its a Dino-World Out There

Today I've been thinking a lot about Dinosaurs. Maybe its because this weekend we took a rather disappointing trip to the National Geographic Society's Explorers Hall in D.C. and saw a small exhibit on Nigersaurus, the dino tauted as "Africa's Long Necked Fern Mower". Maybe its because I'm pretty much always thinking about Dinosaurs, or trying to think up dino-games one could play in construction sites ("You be the Paleontologist! I'll be the Dinosaur Bone!").

Heres some Dino-fun facts from almost an entire days worth of gleefully scowering the internet:

Although Dinos weren’t officially “discovered” until the 19th Century, there are references to "dragon" bones found in Wucheng, Sichuan, China (written by historian Chang Qu) over 2,000 years ago; these were probably dinosaur fossils (silly Chang Qu).

Can you imagine finding a giant bone before the idea of “dinosaur” existed? What a trip. After that there were plenty of folks finding bones but the word “dinosaur," meaning "terrible lizard," was not coined until 1842 by the British paleontologist Richard Owen. Thats how these cute little dino's got such a bad-velociraptor-rap.

Owen teamed up with an Artist/Sculptor, Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, to create a dino park South of London where you can still see sculptures of dinos as Owen first imagined them. They weren't uber-accurate, but cool none-the-less. He threw a big party full of London socialites and they ate dinner in the belly of one of the sculptures.

A handful of years after Owen had his dinosaur party in London, William Parker Foulke found the first nearly complete dinosaur skeleton in 1858 in a marl pit at Haddonfield, New Jersey.

People have been speculating that dinosaurs still exist in some form since these bones first started popping up. In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel “The Lost World” published in 1912, dinosaurs are discovered in South America still roaming around in modern times.
Clearly the world got all wrapped up with dino-fever when Jurassic Park came out in 1993 helping us imagine the dystopia we could create if we used Dino-DNA to bring dinosaurs back.
Additionally, people still think that The Loch Ness Monster might be a “left over” dinosaur and there are reports still coming out of Africa about possible dinosaurs roaming the Congo in Africa.
People just love dinosaurs because they are so different from our understanding of what is natural. Dinosaurs are a crazy, fictional, fairy tale that is actually real.

I love Dinosaurs, and I love even more that DC has its own dinosaur, the Capitalsaurus. You might be asking, MeanJean, are you for real? Hells yes, I’m for real. There's even a street named after it in Southeast Washington: Capitalsaurus Court, at First and F Streets, S.E. This is where the first dinosaur fossil to be found in Washington, DC was unearthed in 1898. 100 years later, it was named the Official Dinosaur of the District of Columbia. Yes. Like a law.

According to USA Today, plenty of Dino tracks have been found in the suburbs of D.C—not so far from where I live! I feel like I, too, could find a dino track walking home from the Metro one day. Maybe even a bone. Heck, I think I could maybe find some last remaining dinosaur creeping around in the shadows behind Rite Aid or Starbucks. A Silverspringasaurus perhaps. Or a Meanjeanasaurus. Or a Kittyasaurus. Yeah.

In other sort of recent Dino-news:

A dinosaur Graveyard found in Spain might contain links to extinction answers...
A mummified dino found in North Dakota has lots of skin, muscle and tendons scientists haven’t really seen before...
A species of dino found in Montana might be the link between dinos that roamed Asia and those from North America ...
Its even cooler that there really is proof that Dinosaurs evolved from birds.

Modern folks have only known about Dinosaurs for about 150 years, can you imagine how much else there is to learn? What happened to them? (Its like CSI: Dinosaurs)

A History Mystery!

I have a really strong interest in history in general, but also in religion, so it excites me when there's historical/religious news to spread around! I didn't really know too much about the Lost Tomb of Jesus, besides the fact that there had been a documentary about a tomb that was uncovered in Jerusalem in the 1980's that was supposedly the ossuaries (bone boxes) of some folks believed to be the Jesus Clan. The tomb contained ossuaries of a fella named Jesus (specifically "Jesus, son of Joseph"), a couple of Marys (perhaps the mother and the wife of Jesus), a Joseph and a Judah (stated to be the "son of Jesus".)

I guess its not impossible for there to have been a similarly named family from Jerusalem around the same time as good old Jesus romped the Earth, but I think its pretty sweet that it might actually be the Jesus of Christian lore. Its like finding King Tutankhamun again! Or even better, because finding the boy king was just a cool surprise, whereas finding the grave and potentially the bones of Jesus sort of confuse the Christian belief that Jesus physically rose up to Heaven after he was crucified...but it would at least prove he existed.

Maybe the whole thing is just exciting me like The DaVinci Code or the "Paul is Dead" conspiracy, but I love historical debate. I wish so bad that both DaVinci Code and The Paul is Dead stuff could be proven true. I guess I wish the same about Nessie and Bigfoot. News outlets are covering the Lost Tomb of Jesus thing again because just this week there was a conference in Jerusalem to start the conversation again about the tomb.

From an article in TIME

"Over 50 archeologists, statisticians and experts in DNA, ceramics and ancient languages, [gathered] to give evidence as to whether or not the crypt of Christ had been found. After three days of fierce debate, the experts remained deeply divided. Opinion among a panel of five experts ranged from "no way" to "very possible". "

TIME ran an article last year, too, about the Tomb. Check it out...its like, CSI: Biblical Times.
(photo from

Getting a Culture Fix

We went to see the Neofuturists (a Chicago-based theatre company) perform Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind over the weekend at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre in D.C. and it was really incredible. The show has an everchanging "Menu" of short plays ( 30 plays in 60 minutes) that ranged from political to personal to simply hilarious. Here's a brief exerpt from their website:

Our signature show, Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind, which had its first performance on December 2, 1988, is now in its nineteenth year, making it the longest-running show in Chicago today. Too Much Light..., with its ever-changing "menu," is an attempt to perform 30 plays in 60 minutes. The single unifying element of these plays is that they are performed from a perspective of absolute honesty. We always appear as ourselves on stage, speaking directly from our personal experiences. Each short play is written by a performer, honed by the ensemble, and randomly collaged with twenty-nine other plays through high-energy audience participation. Each week, these plays shift as ensemble members add new plays to the existing body of work. Each night of performance, we create an unreproducable living newspaper collage of the comic and tragic, the political and personal, and the visceral and experimental. We sometimes create "theme" shows for special occasions such as Halloween, Pride Weekend, and Mother's and Father's Days.

If you get a chance to see this show in Chicago or anywhere they tour, do it. It's an awesome ride. Additionally, D.C. locals, I really recommend you take in a show at Woolly Mammoth (7th and D, NW) to see great, unique plays. Check out their upcoming shows here.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Google Search Tricks

Thanks to, we can learn how to manipulate Google search even more than ever before! Find out how to use Google to Get the Local Time Anywhere, Track Flight Status, Convert currency, Compare items with "better than", Make Google recognize faces and more!!

I am pretty impressed with Google, especially considering that its a search engine and not some fantasmaflopical robotic brain which reads my thoughts and knows my innermost secrets. Wait, it is that.

Google won't really win me over until it can provide the correct answers to the following searches:

"My Birth Father"*
"How I will die"*
"Why doesn't he/she love me?"*

*links are the top hits on Google searches. Sadly, Google failed me. And all my friends out there seeking their birth fathers. You know who you are.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Friday's Kitten Snack

This is Huck. He's a fair maiden. I actually know this boy, too!

Blog For Choice

Check out the Blog for Choice Day website to join other pro-choice bloggers in celebrating the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade on January 22.

Blog for Choice Day

Obama and the Gays

Kathy Belge at Your Guide to Lesbian Life
gives details on the following topics:

Barack Obama and Gay Rights in Illinois

Barack Obama in the United States Senate

Barack Obama on Hate Crimes

Employment Non-Discrimination

Don't Ask, Don't Tell - Gays in the Military

Gay & Lesbian Adoption

Barack Obama and Gay Marriage/ Civil Unions

I hope Obama is the next POTUS. I wish any candidate felt comfortable supporting gay marriage, but its just not a platform friendly stance. I really don't think anyone would be elected to the presidency with Gay Marriage on their agenda, because America is filled with haters. And its too bad hes a Christian, but no one is perfect.

Clinton and the Gays

Kathy Belge at Your Guide to Lesbian Life
gives details on the following topics:

Federal Marriage Amendment

Hillary Clinton and Gays in the Military

Employment Non-Discrimination

Hate Crimes and HIV Support

Gay Immigration Rights

Gay Adoption

Hillary Clinton and Gay Marriage

I agree with most of Clinton's positions, and I would support her in the National election if she had the Democratic Nomination, but I don't think shes working hard enough for the "change" (i know its an overused political term now, but its still true) Obama is. For more check out the archives, I've previously commented on this issue! Plus check out this awesome picture I found of Bill and Hillary.

Edwards and the Gays

Kathy Belge at Your Guide to Lesbian Life
gives details on the following topics:

Employment Non-Discrimination

Hate Crimes

Same-Sex Marriage

Family Medical Leave


Gay and Lesbian Adoption

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

John Edwards ain't a bad guy, and I supported him in 2004, but I'll be honest--hes my third choice in the election.

Obama Wins Iowa!

To begin, I'm totally thrilled that Obama took Iowa last night although I'm a little sad that Edwards bumped Clinton by .5%. Either way, it was a good day for Obama supporters. The election is so charged with race, sex, and religion that some days I feel like I'm just watching the Tyra Banks Show. Jessica Valenti, of fame is guest blogging on The Nation this month and just recently wrote a really good short piece about sexism in the political arena right now. Check out The Daddy Slate? No Thanks. for some good feminist reading about Iowa Republican Party Winner Mike Huckabee's overtly sexist statements and how America judges H. Clinton on her sex.

I feel like I'm answering a lot of questions lately about the democratic candidates' stance on gay rights issues. Since I don't know all the specifics, I hit the web for more information. Freelance Writer and advocate Kathy Belge wrote these pretty comprehensive columns on Clinton, Obama and Edwards history with gay related issues on I'm going to post these here individually to make them a little more accessible. Realistically, the front runners all say similar things--but Belge's columns include some good details on voting history.

Also, here is more details on DOMA, The Defense of Marriage act which is the worst thing on earth and a "big" issue in the gay marriage debate. It was signed into law by Bill Clinton, in a really disappointing moment in his presidency:

The Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, is the commonly-used name of a federal law of the United States that is officially known as Pub. L. No. 104-199, 110 Stat. 2419(Sept. 21, 1996) and codified at 1 U.S.C. § 7 and 28 U.S.C. § 1738C. The law has two effects.

1. No state (or other political subdivision within the United States) need recognize a marriage between persons of the same sex, even if the marriage was concluded or recognized in another state.
2. The Federal Government may not recognize same-sex or polygamous marriages for any purpose, even if concluded or recognized by one of the states.

Go Obama!
(Stay tuned for gay rights information on the top Democratic candidates!)