Left: Image by Serge-Fabrizio at B3ta.
Upcoming highlights that I know about:
- Sally Parker's Party
- Annual Company Dinner
- A Show?????
- Helping Decorate Haunted House
Google has gotten in hot water over its Web site Orkut, which like other social-networking sites allows people to swap information and create personal Web pages. While many Americans have never heard of it, Orkut is a powerhouse overseas, with more than half its 25 million monthly visitors in Brazil. By some measures, it ranks among the top 10 sites on the Web in popularity, alongside other heavily used social-networking sites such as News Corp.'s MySpace and Facebook Inc.
...Then, when Google tried putting ads on the site, it ran into trouble. Critics in Brazil released a report showing advertisements on Orkut alongside pictures of naked children and abused animals. Google immediately suspended the ads, but the Mountain View, Calif., company is still grappling with the fallout from critics' Orkut campaign.
The head of Google's Brazilian operation is facing criminal contempt charges for refusing to turn Orkut users' data over to police. And next month there is a hearing in a case brought by a São Paulo prosecutor threatening daily fines of $100,000 or the shuttering of Google's Brazil office. "We have won," says Thiago Tavares Nunes de Oliveira, a 28-year-old Brazilian law professor who wrote the graphic report and has crisscrossed Brazil making the case that Google allowed Orkut to become a redoubt of criminal activity, including child pornography and racist speech.
...Google also acknowledges the company made mistakes by not devoting enough resources to understanding a culture and country where its site had become popular. "We'd do it differently today," says Alexandre Hohagen, the head of Google's Brazil office, who is facing contempt charges. "The product grew faster than the support. That is a fact."
...How to make money from Orkut -- and keep increasing revenue from outside the U.S. -- are strategic questions for Google. In the third quarter of this year, 48% of Google's revenue came from outside the U.S., up from 43% in 2006 and 39% in 2005. Thanks partly to the fact that Brazilians are some of the most active Internet users in the world, Orkut now has about as much global overall traffic, or "page views," as Google's top-ranked search engine, according to data from comScore Inc.
Google released Orkut -- named after creator Orkut Büyükkökten, a Google software engineer -- in 2004. It became a surprise hit in Brazil, where it quickly won millions of users.
Hewing to its usual strategy, the Internet giant didn't immediately try to make money from the site. As recently as the middle of 2005, Google had just three employees in Brazil. Google's low investment in Orkut contrasted sharply with its growing importance in Latin America's largest country. Orkut has become a major center of Brazilian social life, with two-thirds of all Internet surfers using the service, many of them children.
The site rapidly became a reflection of the good and bad of Brazilian society, a country famed for its fun-loving spirit as well as slum violence. Communities were built around such themes as soccer, love and overcoming injustice. Almost 400,000 people joined discussions in a group called "My mother is the best on Earth," Google says.
Criminal elements also connected with each other and recruited sympathizers on the site, including neo-Nazis, organized gangs and pedophiles. Mr. Tavares says in one year he recorded thousands of pages related to pedophilia. Other communities boasted names like "Black: the inferior race" and "I'm a Nazi, so what?" "It was like there were two Orkuts. A normal Orkut and a pornographic Orkut, living in parallel," says Irineu de Carli Jr., a Brazilian software consultant.
Orkut's dark side drew the interest of Mr. Tavares, a solemn man who became the second-ever youngest professor at his school, the Catholic University of Salvador. In 2004, Mr. Tavares received a small grant to track human-rights violations on the Internet. He says he soon discovered that while Internet use is exploding in Latin America, the region has few laws and limited resources to govern the rapid growth.
In December of 2005, Mr. Tavares set up a nonprofit group called SaferNet. Modeled on U.S. organizations, the site allows users to report online crimes via its Web site. Within weeks, he says, the site was receiving hundreds of complaints. More than 90% were about Orkut.
Mr. Tavares began pointing out problems to Internet companies. He says Yahoo of Sunnyvale, Calif., and Microsoft of Redmond, Wash., promptly removed material he flagged as offensive and promised to hold copies for authorities. Microsoft invited Mr. Tavares to a meeting with its top Brazilian executive.
But the young lawyer says Google gave him the brush-off. He says Mr. Hohagen, the head of Google's Brazil operation, didn't reply to several requests for meetings. In early 2006, Mr. Tavares gave a Google press officer a CD containing 220 pages of evidence of alleged Orkut crimes. He never heard back.
...But Google faced a growing wave of complaints, many instigated by Mr. Tavares. Sérgio Gardenghi Suiama, a federal prosecutor in São Paulo in charge of human rights, began flooding the company's Brazil office with subpoenas seeking identifying information, such as email addresses, of Orkut users accused of committing crimes online.
...Under direction from Google's U.S. headquarters, Mr. Hohagen refused to accept the subpoenas. Google's chief legal officer, David Drummond, traveled to Brazil to explain the situation. In April 2006, Mr. Drummond testified at a congressional hearing requested by Mr. Tavares. He said Google wished to assist authorities, but Orkut data were all stored on computer servers located in the U.S. Therefore, he said, the data were subject to U.S. laws, not Brazilian ones.
Those laws include strict protections on users' private data and typically don't allow Google to reveal private communications without a user's express consent, except under very limited conditions and when ordered by a U.S. judge. And some crimes being investigated by Brazilian authorities -- like racist speech -- aren't crimes in the U.S. If Google met Brazilian demands, what would it do if Saudi Arabia, where homosexuality is a crime, began asking it to unmask gay users?
...Google took other steps that angered local officials. The company gave responsibility for handling its Brazilian legal crisis to an outside lawyer, Durval de Noronha Goyos Jr., head of one of Brazil's largest law firms. Mr. Noronha criticized the prosecutor, Mr. Suiama, for presenting "inept" judicial demands to Google's Brazil subsidiary rather than its headquarters in California, where the company wished to handle them. Mr. Suiama, he said, was more interested in "exhibitionism in the media" than in solving problems.
The approach backfired. In August of 2006, Mr. Suiama requested a police investigation of Mr. Hohagen for disobeying judicial orders and filed a lawsuit threatening Google with heavy fines unless it complied with his requests. That case is scheduled to go to an arbitration hearing next month. "If they want to do business in Brazil, they must obey the laws here," Mr. Suiama says.
By early this year, Mr. Hohagen says Google was already looking to shift strategies. It sent Orkut's creator, Mr. Büyükkökten, on a three-week tour through Brazil where he was mobbed by fans for autographs. During the tour Google announced that a test of Orkut advertising, which had started in India and the U.S. last year, would be extended to Brazil.
...In late September, Mr. Hohagen called Mr. Tavares and the pair sat down for a five-hour meeting. They discussed steps the company could take to improve Orkut. "It was obvious that they could only commercialize Orkut after they proved to everyone they had solved the problem," Mr. Tavares says.
As a radio talk-show host, Mark Williams made a living – and a name for himself locally – by being outspoken, controversial and, above all, relentless.
So should it be any surprise that the conservative broadcaster is battling hard and quite publicly with Sacramento radio giant KFBK (1530 AM) – which fired Williams in May 2006 – and its parent company?
If you've missed the fireworks so far: For the past 10 months, Williams has been embroiled in a lengthy and messy arbitration action seeking what he says is more than $80,000 in back pay.
And in May of this year, Williams filed a defamation suit against Clear Channel Broadcasting, KFBK's parent company, and several of its top employees, alleging that, among other transgressions, he was publicly called a "bozo," a "stalker" and "psychotic" on the air or on the Internet. He claims that such statements have hurt his reputation and violated a confidentiality agreement made at his termination.
He also claims that KFBK executives have hindered his prospects for getting another job. Since leaving KFBK, Williams has been freelancing and podcasting on www.marktalk.com. He's seeking unlimited damages in the case.
Last month, KFBK struck back. It filed a suit in Sacramento Superior Court asking that Williams' suit be dismissed on First Amendment grounds; that is, that any comments were made "in connection with an issue of public interest."
...A hearing is scheduled for Oct. 29.
Williams, who uncharacteristically declined to comment for weeks after filing his defamation suit, has broken his silence. And in interviews with The Bee and in comments made during his podcasts, Williams has railed at how a "major media company is trying to bankrupt one citizen."
KFBK general manager Jeff Holden, among those named in the suit, says he and the station have no comment on the case. But statements included with KFBK's suit portray Williams as a disgruntled ex-employee who, through his supporters, flooded the newsroom with phone calls and e-mails, and hounded station executives after being fired.
...At the time of Williams' firing, neither KFBK nor the talk show host would give a reason. But KFBK operations manager Alan Eisenson states in its lawsuit that Williams was fired because of poor ratings. Further, he states that Williams "had not been able to improve those ratings even after KFBK had informed him that it desired improvement ... and identified ways to make those improvements."
Williams counters by saying that he consistently finished among the top five shows in his time slot. His firing, he claims, was ideologically driven.
"I was told repeatedly by Alan Eisenson that my opposition to illegal immigration, my criticism of Arnold Schwarzenegger and my support for the troops were three huge negatives for me – that it was not what they wanted to hear on the radio," Williams says.
He also says Eisenson at one point told him, "Isn't there something you're more liberal on that you could talk about?"
More of Williams' grievances can be gleaned from his defamation suit. Among the comments Williams says defamed him, but which KFBK says are protected by free speech, are:
• On June 1, 2006, his replacement, Bruce Maiman, described him as "a defective, underperforming product which needed to be replaced."
• In a promotional announcement shortly thereafter, Williams says he was referred to as "that previous bozo." Eisenson, in KFBK's suit against Williams, confirmed that KFBK used an audio clip of a caller saying Williams "made me stop listening." But Eisenson says he "cannot discern (from the audio clip) whether that ('bozo') is the word the caller actually used."
• In a Wikipedia message-board posting about KFBK, Web site editor and afternoon producer Brendan Gage referred to Williams as a "borderline psychotic KFBK stalker" who "vandalize(d)" the KFBK site by making what it calls untrue comments.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - A burglar in Montgomery chose the wrong family to mess with, literally. Adrian and Tiffany McKinnon returned home on Tuesday after a week away to find that thieves had emptied almost everything the family of five owned, Tiffany McKinnon said through tears.
"Tears just rolled down my face as I walked in and saw everything gone and piles of trash all over my home," she said.
Adrian McKinnon sent his wife to see her sister while he inspected the piles left behind. As he walked back into the sunroom, a man walked through the back door straight into him, Tiffany McKinnon told the Montgomery Advertiser in a story Thursday.
"My husband Adrian caught the thief red-handed in our home," she said. "And what is even crazier, the man even had my husband's hat sitting right on his head."
Adrian McKinnon held the suspect, 33-year-old Tajuan Bullock, at gunpoint and told him to sit on the floor until he decided what to do.
"We made this man clean up all the mess he made, piles of stuff, he had thrown out of my drawers and cabinets onto the floor," Tiffany McKinnon said.
When police arrived, Bullock complained about being forced to clean the home at gunpoint.
"This man had the nerve to raise sand about us making him clean up the mess he made in my house," she said. "The police officer laughed at him when he complained and said anybody else would have shot him dead."
A poll of Europeans showed people of different nationalities liked each other more after getting to know each other, except in the case of the British -- who became less popular.
...The Spaniards were most popular with 78.6 percent approval at the end of the weekend. The Poles the least with 67 percent.
But all nationalities gained in popularity, bar the British who went from a 70.3 percent approval rating at the start of the weekend to 68.1 percent by the end.
Scientists have discovered that [the mangrove killifish] spends several months of every year out of the water and living inside trees.
Hidden away inside rotten branches and trunks, the remarkable creatures temporarily alter their biological makeup so they can breathe air.
Biologists studying the killifish say they astonished it can cope for so long out of its natural habitat.
The discovery, along with its ability to breed without a mate, must make the mangrove killifish, Rivulus marmoratus Poey, one of the oddest fish known to man.
Around two inches long, they normally live in muddy pools and the flooded burrows of crabs in the mangrove swamps of Florida, Latin American and Caribbean.
The latest discovery was made by biologists wading through swamps in Belize and Florida who found hundreds of killifish hiding out of the water in the rotting branches and trunks of trees.
The fish had flopped their way to their new homes when their pools of water around the roots of mangroves dried up. Inside the logs, they were lined up end to end along tracks carved out by insects.
...Although the cracks inside logs make a perfect hiding place, conditions can be cramped. The fish – which are usually fiercely territorial – are forced to curb their aggression.
Another study, published earlier this year, revealed how they alter their bodies and metabolism to cope with life out of water.
Their gills are altered to retain water and nutrients, while they excrete nitrogen waste through their skin.
These changes are reversed as soon as they return to the water.
Previously their biggest claim to fame was that they are the only known vertebrate – animal with a backbone – to reproduce without the need for a mate.
Killifish can develop both female and male sexual organs, and fertilise their eggs while they are still in the body, laying tiny embryos into the water.
They are not the only fish able to breathe air. The walking catfish of South-east Asia has gills that allow it to breathe in air and in water.
The climbing perch of India can suffocate in water unless it can also gulp in air.
The Madonna Confessions DVD tour has the BEST cinematography from any rock concert EVER produced! Nothing compares! I saw the live show in San Jose last year, but the DVD is an altogether new experience! AMAZING!
Here is the opening.....
Hate to think of this as a nostalgia piece.....
10/26: One Night Only - Live Dinner Theater on Del Paso Blvd!
"Hijinks at the Harding" - Live Comedic, Musical, Mystery Theater and Dinner
One Night Only! Friday, October 26, 2007.
Doors at 6:30 PM. Show starts at 7:00 PM.
Location: Harding Lodge, 2354 Forrest St, Sacramento, CA - that's the corner of Del Paso Blvd and Forrest St.
Admission: $30.00 (includes a catered buffet dinner).
"Hijinks at the Harding" draws from the 1890's convention of traveling "star" actors/singers touring towns to perform and entertain at theatrical venues with locals enlisted to provide the supporting cast. In "Hijinks,"
the audience is treated to an eccentric cast of characters wherein everything goes delightfully awry resulting in the untimely demise of one of them. The audience will then be called upon to help solve the mystery.
While an ensemble venture in the truest sense of the word, the show is primarily the result of a collaboration between actor/author, Mark Lyon, and actor/producer, Elizabeth Siracusa, who have jointly produced a unique Victorian Halloween show in Siracusa's home town of Winters each October for the past four years. Siracusa also serves as director on the production. The ensemble is comprised of talent from Nevada City, Sacramento and Winters, and music is provided by Jerry Campbell who will be traveling from Salt Lake City to be a part of the performance.
Mark Lyon holds a masters in theatre, is a member of the Screen Actors Guild, has performed original one-man plays across Canada and abroad and conducts seasonal historical "ghost walks" in his home town of Nevada City. He is also the author of the recently released book, "San Francisco Ghosts," the first comprehensive account of true San Francisco hauntings. In Hijinks at the Harding, Lyon lends his skills in the lead role of Stephen Templeton King, the traveling "star."
Seating is limited, and advance tickets are available at Del Paso Antiques
(1803 Del Paso Blvd) and Casa Bella Galleria (1511 Del Paso Blvd). Advance tickets or phone reservations are requested. For additional information or to reserve seats, please contact the Del Paso Boulevard Partnership at
(916) 923-6200. http://www.delpasoboulevard.com
ATLANTA, Oct. 15 — For the first time in more than 100 years, much of the Southeast has reached the most severe category of drought, climatologists said Monday, creating an emergency so serious that some cities are just months away from running out of water.
In North Carolina, Gov. Michael F. Easley asked residents Monday to stop using water for any purpose “not essential to public health and safety.” He warned that he would soon have to declare a state of emergency if voluntary efforts fell short.
“Now I don’t want to have to use these powers,” Mr. Easley told a meeting of mayors and other city officials. “As leaders of your communities, you know what works best at the local level. I am asking for your help.”
Officials in the central North Carolina town of Siler City estimate that without rain, they are 80 days from draining the Lower Rocky River Reservoir, which supplies water for the town’s 8,200 people.
In the Atlanta metropolitan area, which has more than four million people, worst-case analyses show that the city’s main source of water, Lake Lanier, could be drained dry in 90 to 121 days.
The hard numbers have shocked the Southeast into action, even as many people wonder why things seem to have gotten so bad so quickly.
Last week, Mayor Charles L. Turner of Siler City declared a water shortage emergency and ordered each “household, business and industry” to reduce water use by 50 percent. Penalties for not complying range from stiff fines to the termination of water service.
...For the better part of 18 months, cloudless blue skies and high temperatures have shriveled crops and bronzed lawns from North Carolina to Alabama, quietly creating what David E. Stooksbury, the state climatologist of Georgia, has dubbed “the Rodney Dangerfield of natural disasters,” a reference to that comedian’s repeated lament that he got “no respect.”
“People pay attention to hurricanes,” Mr. Stooksbury said. “They pay attention to tornadoes and earthquakes. But a drought will sneak up on you.”
The situation has gotten so bad that by all of Mr. Stooksbury’s measures — the percentage of moisture in the soil, the flow rate of rivers, inches of rain — this drought has broken every record in Georgia’s history.
...Others wondered why the calls to conserve came so late.
“I think there’s been an ostrich-head-in-the-sand syndrome that has been growing,” said Mark Crisp, an Atlanta-based consultant with the engineering firm C. H. Guernsey. “Because we seem to have been very, very slow in our actions to deal with an impending crisis.”
...Others pointed to the Southeast’s inexperience with drought and to explosive growth in population as complicating factors.
FISH might not have eyelids, but they do sleep, and some suffer from insomnia, scientists reported today.
California scientists studying sleep disorders in humans found some zebrafish, a common aquarium pet, have a mutant gene that disrupts their sleep patterns in a way similar to insomnia in humans.
Zebrafish with the mutant gene slept 30 per cent less than fish without the mutation. When they finally drifted off, they remained asleep half as long as the normal fish, the researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine said.
...The researchers, led by Emmanuel Mignot, said they would look for fish with a mutation that causes them to oversleep or never sleep in the hope of discovering if sleep-regulating molecules and brain networks developed through evolution.
"Many people ask the questions, 'Why are we sleeping?' and, 'What is the function of sleep?'" Mr Mignot said.
"I think it is more important to figure out first how the brain produces and regulates sleep. This will likely give us important clues on how and maybe why sleep has been selected by natural evolution and is so universal."
Mary Ellen Walters, 68, and Ada Wasson, 80, were thought to be traveling to an outlet store in Carrollton, Ky. or Columbus when they left their retirement home in Lebanon on April 19, authorities said.
Family members, church members and authorities searched hundreds of miles of roads and rivers looking for Wasson's silver 2000 Chevrolet Impala.
On Sunday around 9 a.m., the Kentucky State Police said a hunter found Wasson's car on a farm on Carmen Creek Road in Campbellsburg, Ky. The farm field had not been used by the owner for several years.
...Authorities said it appeared that the women became lost.
"They've been there before, so I think they just missed their exit and they took a right, keeping the interstate on their right, thinking maybe there's a road that goes back to the outlet mall or back to the interstate, and they kept getting into these farm roads," Newsom said.
...Officials said Wasson apparently tried to walk to the interstate to find help. Her remains were found about 600 feet south of the car.
"One wheel did get stuck in a rut, (and) when they got down to the bottom of the ravine, (or) creek bed, they were finished at that point," Newsom said. "It would have been difficult for her, at her age, to make it (to the interstate.) She was trying. God love her, she was trying. But it just didn't work out."
...Shopping was a favorite activity of the two, and they preferred driving scenic highways rather than Interstate 71. That complicated the search, because there are multiple ways to get to Carrollton, including via Indiana, or to Columbus, 90 miles to the north of the retirement home.
A dentist accused of fondling the breasts of 27 female patients is trying to keep his dental license by arguing that chest massages are an appropriate procedure in certain cases.Here is a more complete SacBee article.
Mark Anderson's lawyer says dental journals discuss the need to massage the pectoral muscles to treat a common jaw problem.
Police say Anderson said during recorded phone calls that he routinely massaged patients' chests to treat temporo-mandibular joint disorder, or TMJ, which causes neck and head pain.
...Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Phillips gave Lew three new complaints, including one from a 31-year-old woman who said Anderson fondled her at least six times over two years.
She took to wearing tight shirts with high necklines, "and Anderson would still get in under her shirt and bra," according to a police report.
Concierge: Who d'ya want?I wanted to watch "A Chorus Line" because I had never seen it (and had deliberately steered away from it when I was in DMTC's version in 2003). I figured it was now time to figure out why people tended to dislike it so.
Leo Bloom: I beg your pardon?
Concierge: Who d'ya want? Nobody gets in the building unless I know who they want. I'm the "concierge". My husband used to be the "concierge", but he's dead. Now I'M the "concierge".
Max Bialystock: We are seeking Franz Liebkind.
Concierge: Oh... the Kraut! He's on the top floor, apartment 23.
Max Bialystock: Thank you...
Concierge: ...But you won't find him there... he's up on the roof with his boids. He keeps boids. Dirty... disgusting... filthy... lice-ridden boids. You used to be able to sit out on the stoop like a person. Not anymore! No, sir! Boids!... You get my drift?
Leo Bloom: We... uh... get your "drift". Thank you, madam.
Concierge: I'm not a "madam"! I'm a "concierge"!
First of all, director Richard Attenborough took so much focus off the dancers by beefing up the Cassie/Zach relationship and by casting Michael Douglas as Zach. In the play, you NEVER see Zach...he is just a voice in the back of the theater and his relationship with Cassie is barely touched upon. Cassie shown in the cab in traffic trying to get to the audition and upstairs talking to Larry (a character who is not even in the play) was all added for the movie and took so much focus off what the story is about. Major musical numbers were cut or rethought. The opening number in the play "I Hope I Get It" shows all of the dancers doing a jazz and ballet combination and then people get eliminated. In the movie they jam three hundred dancers onstage together and show them in closeup to disguise the fact that they have cast people in the film who can't dance (can you say "Audrey Landers"). "Goodbye 12, Goodbye 13, Hello Love", a brilliant vocal exploration of these dancers' childhood's jaundiced memories was reworked as "Surprise, Surprise" mainly a vehicle for the late Gregg Burge as Richie. The show's most famous song, "What I Did for Love" which in the show was a touching allegory sung by the entire cast about what they give up to dance, becomes just another standard love song in the film, performed tiredly by a miscast Allyson Reed as Cassie. Jeffrey Hornaday's choreography for the film is dull and unimaginative and doesn't hold a candle to Michael Bennett' original staging and when you're making a movie about dancers, the choreography has to be special. There are a couple of good dancers in the film, the previously mentioned Gregg Burge as Richie, Michelle Johnston as Bebe, and Janet Jones as Judy, but they are hardly given the opportunity to show what they can do, yet Audrey Landers, who can barely walk and chew gum at the same time, is given one of the show's best numbers, "Dance 10, Looks 3." I will admit that the finale, "One" is dazzling, but you have to wait almost two hours for that. I would say that if you never saw A CHORUS LINE onstage, this film might be worth a look, but if you are a devotee of the original Broadway musical...be afraid...be very afraid.