birdie's blog

Jeb Bush and The Right to Die

The thought that Jeb Bush has "aspirations for the Presidency" (according to news pundits)leaves me speechless. Hey, let's all get dressed up in costumes, put up a curtain and make our country into a little monarchy! Governments

I am saddened and dismayed by his actions regarding Terry Schiavo WANE-TV.


Well, as of last night at around 9:30 pm, we were driving south on the Westside Highway and then on West End Avenue, ending up crossing the Brooklyn Bridge and home. ALL were nearly -deserted- (by NY standards), except for clusters of police (obviously in predetermined locations) in preparation for whatever happened (which was nothing). The funny thing is that police cars carried three or four cops each, as I suppose that every officer was on duty and those that would normally have a car (on a different shift) had to double up. There were quite a lot of cops about, but very few people. Presumably half a million people (more or less) ended up marching and demonstrating quite peacefully, except for of course a couple of nitwits. We drove by Ground Zero, which was quiet and dark, but a small platform (for workers?) has started to spring up.

I can't speak for all New Yorkers, but we certainly are not fans of Rudy G (as opposed to ALI G!!!). Glad he's out of the mayor's mansion. and I couldn't agree more that I hope the RNC speakers won't claim a "victory" with 9/11, but chances are that particularly dark moment in history will be featured prominently, as they did choose NY for the convention. We will not forget.

The Republicans are Coming

Remember the book/movie "The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming?" Well, now we've (NYC) got the 2004 version of this phenomenon, the Republicans are coming. "Naked Boys Singing" was removed from the list of reduced price shows for delegates to the RNC (not sure why, the activities coordinator said it was a boo-boo), and here's what the NYT has to say.

The birdie family is staying put Monday through Thursday, let them come (and spend a lotta money) in our fair city. Welcome Republicans!

The Sudan

Very interesting article by a Sudanese-born American teenager who lives in Mississippi, about being a Muslim in her small town; and another fascinating article about the Sudan in this week's
New Yorker
, entitled "Dying in Darfur".

Walmart Ads & Our East Coast Trip

Two journal entries follow:

1)Walmart Ads on NPR


2)What A Long Strange Trip It's Been

...they just happen to have been written on the same day.


In my continuing crusade against the Big Boxes, I thought some of you might find the following story on PR Watch of interest (via the New York Times):

BIG BOX BUYS BUDDIES NYT "Stung by criticism of its labor practices, expansion plans and
other business tactics," Wal-Mart "has become a sponsor on National
Public Radio," underwritten the "Tavis Smiley" talk show, and
"plans to award $500,000 in scholarships to minority students at
journalism programs around the country."

A Wal-Mart spokeswoman
said there's "no hidden agenda," but "we've really been in the
spotlight and I think that's made us especially sensitive to the
need for balanced coverage."

NPR's ombudsman wrote, "Wal-Mart
symbolizes values that some listeners believe to be antithetical to
the values of public radio." Mounting opposition has rejected or
stalled new Wal-Mart stores in California, Illinois and Louisiana.

What a Long Strange Trip it's Been

My family returned earlier this week from an exhausting but exciting 11-day road trip, from Brooklyn NY north to central Maine, and then south to Fairfax VA and DC. En route, we visited eight (count 'em) institutions of higher education, all being considered by my high-school senior son for the fall of 2005. He liked most (but not all) of the schools, and is now contemplating which he liked the most and figuring the odds of getting in. We never spent more than one night at each motel/relative's house, except at the end of trip, when I attended my 36th (egad) high school reunion in Washington DC. Along the way, we ate some great lobster, scallops, great breakfasts and great desserts (spell-check!). See how it all relates back to food? In addition to motels, we stayed with my friend the alpaca farmer (in Rhode Island), my sister (suburban CT) and my husband's sister (Virginia). A true whirlwind that makes me glad that I'm not a traveling salesman.

Crime Spree Alert - NYC or Davenport IA?

Saw this tidbit today on Netscape News:
Thursday, Aug. 5, 2004
3 Banks Robbed During Bush, Kerry Visit (in Davenport, Iowa) -

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) - Three banks were robbed while President Bush and Democratic nominee John Kerry were speaking just blocks away from one another Wednesday morning.

The Ralston Credit Union was robbed at 10:45 a.m., shortly after the president began speaking at LeClaire Park in this eastern Iowa town, said Davenport police Capt. David Struckman.

The next robbery, at First National Bank, happened at 11:23 a.m., followed by another at 11:45 a.m. at Southeast National Bank, said Struckman, who also served as the department's liaison to the U.S. Secret Service during the visits from the two political leaders.

So, we can breathe a sign of relief here in terror-ville centre(NYC), we're not the only ones with bad guys running amok.

For your (perverse) entertainment

First of all, I'm sure that a few of you will be HORRIFIED at this journal entry, but hey, be it known that Birdie can occasionally go for the far-out.


Here are two EXTREMELY insensitive and outrageous websites directed at the Christian right planning on visiting my beloved New York City during the GOP convention; thanks to Harry S. Pariser (Pub-Forum) for the referrals:

Christian Coation Voter Guide


Handy Travel Guide to NYC (aka Jew York City) for Fundamentalists.

So LISNews folks,let's not get our dander up over these sites, just enjoy and take 'em for what they are.

More on indie bookstores

Further to comments written in response to another story here at LISNews ,here's an article written by David Unowsky, owner of the recently closed Hungry Mind/Ruminator Bookstore in St. Paul, MN. The article might give book buyers some perspective on the current struggles of independent booksellers, and why it's important to support them. Here's the Booksense website again, Booksense, and here's David's article from Bookweb (the American Booksellers Assoc. newsletter): Bookweb.

On a lighter note...

Saw this slightly graffitied traffic sign on 7th Avenue in Brooklyn (Park Slope)today--the D at the beginning of the last word was whited out:


Barack Obama Keynote Speech

A great speech - this man could be our first black president. Regarding libraries, and how we should not be separated into two groups (i.e., "red" states and "blue" states), Obama said, "We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States." In case you missed it, or chose not to watch, here's the whole thing (should you care to read it!) windy city news

Hendrik Hertzberg on Fresh Air

A really good interview with the New Yorker's HH (Talk of the Town, the major political voice of the New Yorker). The man is so intelligent, and an excellent and succinct writer (although his new book "Politics" (a compilation of his writings) didn't get a great review). I particularly appreciated what he had to say about God and religion. He describes his beliefs as being a a cross between deist and agnostic, i.e., that he believes that a god created our life & world, etc., but he doesn't believe that that god can affect the outcome of a college football game. Here's the interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air

Minister of Fear

Another good one from

Mark Fiore
. Love the shirt decal with "The Scream."

The food you buy & eat...supporting Big Tobacco

Last week I participated in a focus group (a group of 50-something women in NYC who were the primary food buyers for their families), and was paid by an advertising agency for our opinions on brands and food issues/concerns. It was fun and friendly, and they gave us snacks and drinks before they made us sit down to doodle, speak about and write down our opinions. Like most well-educated people, I always try to use fresh foods and whole foods, but inevitably, there are some things that you need to purchase packaged. I always thought that I was knowledgeable about who manufactured which brands, but I've since found out that like most people, I don't know nearly enough to make wise purchases at the supermarket. I'm NOT talking about just my family's health or well-being, but the health and well-being of our ENTIRE COUNTRY...well actually, THE WORLD.

For example, among leading food producers in the US, the primary manufacturer (in addition to Con Agra where an employee wiped out several coworkers a week or so ago) is KRAFT Foods, now known as "The Altria Group" (sounds nicely anonymous), owned by Philip Morris. Owned and dictated to by big tobacco. So to do my part in helping to cause the downfall of big tobacco--(not likely to happen anytime soon), I'd like to share the information I garnered with you, my LIS News friends.

FYI, here are some of their brands:

Sanka, Maxwell House, Starbucks,Yuban,Jell-O,
Country Time,Crystal Light,Kool-Aid,Tang,
Nabisco Cookies,Chips Ahoy,Claussen Pickles,
Good Seasons,Toblerone,Lifesavers,Ritz,Post Cereals (all those cool ones I like such as Great Grains and Shredded Wheat), Cream of Wheat, Breakstones, Polly-O, Light‘N Lively,Oreo,Oscar Mayer,Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Temp-tee Cream Cheese, Cheez-Whiz, Capri Sun,
Louis Rich, Taco Bell Dinners, California Pizza Kitchen, DiGiorno, Jack's Tombstone, Lunchables,
It's Pasta Anytime, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese (subsistence for my teenagers), Velveeta, Baker's Chocolate, Calumet Baking Powder, Bull's-Eye BBQ Sauce, Postum, Shake ‘n Bake, Grey Poupon,
Milk Bone Dog Biscuits (the doggie vote), Dream Whip,
D-Zerta, Jell-O, Knox Gelatine, Cool Whip, Kraft
Margarine, Parkay (Puerto Rico only), Minute Rice,
Nilla Wafers, Honey Maid Graham Crackers, Oreo Cookies, Stove Top Stuffing, Lorna Doone, Nutter Butters, Barnum Animal Crackers, Stella D'Oro, Snackwells, Triscuits, Uneeda, Zweiback (so that babies can participate in encouraging smoking), Peak Freans -- a very serious cookie, Planters Nuts, Jet-Puffed Marshmallows and Altoids.

So if you want a schmear on your bagel, and you don't want to support the tobacco industry, you can't use either Philadelphia brand or Temp-tee.

Ken Jennings

My cousin dubbed Ken Jennings "a Stepford Husband." Perfect fit there. Is anyone else rooting for Ken to fall from grace on Jeopardy? It's about time.

Review: Fahrenheit 911

Baltimore Chronicle review of Fahrenheit 911, which I saw Sunday. Good review, but unlike David Flores, I do think this movie measures up to "Bowling For Coumbine." I was anxious about seeing Moore's depiction of 9/11, as my husband and older son were both in the epicenter (each 4 blocks away), but the filmmaker handled it very well. Still curious as to which single congressman/woman has a child in the military in Iraq...anyone know? As Neil Young sings so convincingly, "Keep on rockin' in the free world!"

Bob's Hardware

What happened to Bob's Hardware? It closed. A Lowe's and a Home Depot opened not far away, and little by little, Bob had to struggle to advertise his store, focusing mainly on paying his employees and paying taxes. Then he had to lay off a few stock clerks. When they put meters in front of Bob's store, his customers either went to suburban stores where they could park or just ordered tools on-line. Some of those hard-to-find items you can even buy on-line. For that matter, you can empty your own basement, sell all kinds of stuff you never use and make money on E-bay.

Bob's celebrated his fiftieth anniversary with an enormous "customer appreciation" sale. Some customers who remembered Bob's dad came by to congratulate him. But a lot of the old-timers had either moved away, or were no longer buying snow shovels and brooms and gardening tools. People would come in and buy a small item or two, but the big ticket items were purchased from Home Depot. Not only were their prices cheaper, but they now manufactured many of their own products, and these were cheaper still. After all, who really can afford to pay full price? Bob finally had to let his last salesperson go, and cut down store hours. He struggled along, not wanting to see the demise of the long-respected family business...but when the shoe store next door closed and was walled up for construction, and his taxes went up, and his daughter and her husband moved to Italy, and it seemed as if he had only one or two sales per day, he made the inevitable decision to close. Bob's Hardware...proud occupant of Main Street for 51 years. The bars are permanently down, and who knows when or if they'll ever go up again.

When You Visit the Vendors at ALA

Regrettably, we won't be showing our cards this year in Orlando, but if we were, I'd ask all of you librarian folk one favor: pay some attention to the wonderful library-related products on the trade show floor. That means, 1)look both ways (as best you can) and 2)don't chat on your cell phone while cruising the aisles. If your library wants to know more about our products, drop me a line, I'd be happy to send out a sample.

Stolen bagels

A government economist who switched careers to become a bagel man is the subject of this interesting story on petty white collar crime
NY Sunday Times .

Soldier accused...

As the eyes lose focal acuity, the Netscape headline appeared to proclaim "Soldier Accused of Depression in Iraq." Said soldier was actually accused of "Desertion", but I can't honestly imagine that any soldier is not depressed under the current circumstances in that ravaged country. The caption on a recent New Yorker cartoon that showed lemmings marching towards the precipice said it well: "we're only heading towards our the logical end," or something to that effect.

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