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KN4M 11-23-07 Capitalism Day

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  • Robert Sterling
    Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com The Konformist now officially dubs the day
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 23, 2007
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      Please send as far and wide as possible.

      Robert Sterling
      Editor, The Konformist

      The Konformist now officially dubs the day after Thanksgiving
      as "Capitalism Day" to celebrate the greatest economic system known
      to mankind. How do you celebrate Capitalism Day? Easy. You buy


      Who Named The Big Mac?

      Having just digested a giant Thanksgiving meal, The Konformist's
      Robalini sets out to answer a question behind another great American
      cuisine tradition. Just who did name the McDonald's Big Mac the Big
      Mac? (Or, as they say in French, "Le Big Mac.")

      According to Wikipedia:

      Original names for the burger included "Aristocrat" & "Blue Ribbon
      Burger", but the actual name "Big Mac" was created by Esther
      Glickstein Rose, a then 21 year old Advertising Secretary who worked
      at McDonald's Corporate office in Chicago.

      Though this piece of information is unsourced, it can be confirmed
      by The Konformist to be 100% true. The reason? Esther Glickstein
      Rose is the mother of regular Konformist Kontributor Scott Rose, of
      Scottworld.com. In fact, Ms. Rose has received official
      acknowledgement from McDonalds for coining the most famous name in
      American (if not world) cuisine.

      As a side note, they didn't give her any special bonus money for the
      name, which makes it arguably the most cost-effective marketing idea
      in the history of the world...



      A great way to do some early holiday shopping, avoid a trip to the
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      You also will find there Robert Parry's Lost History: Contras,
      Cocaine, the Press & Project Truth, just out in a new printing. Lost
      History explains how the Watergate-era Washington press corps was
      brought to heel in the 1980s. BuzzFlash calls Lost History a "gem"
      of a book.

      With each purchase of these books through the publisher's Web site,
      $5 is rebated to help pay the bills at Consortiumnews.com, which for
      the past dozen years has been producing important investigative
      journalism and making it available free on the Internet.

      If you prefer shopping at Amazon.com, you can find these books
      there, too. For each purchase through Amazon, $1 goes to help
      support Consortiumnews.com.

      Thanks and Happy Holidays.



      Motor City named nation's most dangerous
      By DAVID N. GOODMAN, Associated Press Writer
      Mon Nov 19, 2007

      In another blow to the Motor City's tarnished image, Detroit pushed
      past St. Louis to become the nation's most dangerous city, according
      to a private research group's controversial analysis, released
      Sunday, of annual FBI crime statistics.

      The study drew harsh criticism even before it came out. The American
      Society of Criminology launched a pre-emptive strike Friday, issuing
      a statement attacking it as "an irresponsible misuse" of crime data.

      The 14th annual "City Crime Rankings: Crime in Metropolitan America"
      was published by CQ Press, a unit of Congressional Quarterly Inc. It
      is based on the FBI's Sept. 24 crime statistics report.

      The report looked at 378 cities with at least 75,000 people based on
      per-capita rates for homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault,
      burglary and auto theft. Each crime category was considered
      separately and weighted based on its seriousness, CQ Press said.

      Last year's crime leader, St. Louis, fell to No. 2. Another Michigan
      city, Flint, ranked third, followed by Oakland Calif.; Camden, N.J.;
      Birmingham, Ala.; North Charleston, S.C.; Memphis, Tenn.; Richmond,
      Calif.; and Cleveland.

      The study ranked Mission Viejo, Calif., as the safest U.S. city,
      followed by Clarkstown, N.Y.; Brick Township, N.J.; Amherst, N.Y.;
      and Sugar Land, Texas.

      CQ Press spokesman Ben Krasney said details of the weighting system
      were proprietary. It was compiled by Kathleen O'Leary Morgan and
      Scott Morgan, whose Morgan Quitno Press published it until its
      acquisition by CQ Press.

      The study assigns a crime score to each city, with zero representing
      the national average. Detroit got a score of 407, while St. Louis
      followed at 406. The score for Mission Viejo, in affluent Orange
      County, was minus 82.

      Detroit was pegged the nation's murder capital in the 1980s and has
      lost nearly 1 million people since 1950, according to the Census
      Bureau. Downtown sports stadiums and corporate headquarters — along
      with the redevelopment of the riverfront of this city of 919,000 —
      have slowed but not reversed the decline. Officials have said crime
      reports don't help.

      Detroit police officials released a statement Sunday night disputing
      the report, saying it fails to put crime information into proper

      "Every year this organization sends out a press release with big,
      bold lettering that labels a certain city as Most Dangerous, USA,"
      Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings said in the release.

      "It really makes you wonder if the organization is truly concerned
      with evaluating crime or increasing their profit," said Bully-
      Cummings, who noted the complete report is available only by
      purchase. "With crime experts across the country routinely
      denouncing the findings, I believe the answer is clear."

      The mayor of 30th-ranked Rochester, N.Y. — an ex-police chief
      himself — said the study's authors should consider the harm that the
      report causes.

      "What I take exception to is the use of these statistics and the
      damage they inflict on a number of these cities," said Mayor Robert
      Duffy, chairman of the Criminal and Social Justice Committee for the
      U.S. Conference of Mayors.

      The rankings "do groundless harm to many communities," said Michael
      Tonry, president of the American Society of Criminology.

      "They also work against a key goal of our society, which is a better
      understanding of crime-related issues by both scientists and the
      public," Tonry said.

      Critics also complain that numbers don't tell the whole story
      because of differences among cities.

      "You're not comparing apples and oranges; you're comparing
      watermelons and grapes," said Rob Casey, who heads the FBI section
      that puts out the Uniform Crime Report that provides the data for
      the Quitno report.

      The FBI posted a statement on its Web site criticizing such use of
      its statistics.

      "These rough rankings provide no insight into the numerous variables
      that mold crime in a particular town, city, county, state, or
      region," the FBI said. "Consequently, they lead to simplistic and/or
      incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions
      adversely affecting communities and their residents."

      Doug Goldenberg-Hart, acquisitions editor at CQ Press, said that the
      rankings are imperfect, but that the numbers are straightforward.
      Cities at the top of the list would not be there unless they ranked
      poorly in all six crime categories, he said.

      "The idea that people oppose it, it's kind of blaming the
      messenger," Goldenberg-Hart said. "It's not coming to terms with the
      idea that crime is a persistent problem in our society."

      The report "helps concerned Americans learn how their communities
      fare in the fight against crime," CQ Press said in a statement. "The
      first step in making our cities and states safer is to understand
      the true magnitude of their crime problems. This will only be
      achieved through straightforward data that all of us can use and

      The study excluded Chicago, Minneapolis, and other Illinois and
      Minnesota cities because of incomplete data.

      Associated Press writer Jim Salter in St. Louis contributed to this

      On the Net:

      CQ Press: http://www.cqpress.com
      American Society of Criminology: http://www.asc41.com



      Huge Water Park Planned for Ariz. Desert
      Nov 19, 2007
      Associated Press Writer

      MESA, Ariz. (AP) - By tapping rivers and sucking water from deep
      underground, developers have covered Arizona with carpets of Bermuda
      grass and dotted the parched landscape with swimming pools, golf
      courses and lakeshore homes.
      Now another ambitious project is in the works: A massive new water
      park that would offer surf-sized waves, snorkeling, scuba diving and
      kayaking—all in a bone-dry region that gets just 8 inches of rain a

      "It's about delivering a sport that's not typically available in an
      urban environment," said Richard Mladick, a Mesa real-estate
      developer who persuaded business leaders in suburban Mesa to support
      the proposal called the Waveyard.

      Artists' drawings of the park show surfers gliding through waves
      that crash onto a sandy beach and kayakers navigating the whitecaps
      of a wide, roiling river. Families watch the action from beneath
      picnic umbrellas. If constructed, the park would use as much as 100
      million gallons of groundwater a year.

      Mladick, 39, said he wanted to create the kind of lush environment
      he remembers from growing up in Virginia Beach, Va., and surfing in
      Morocco, Indonesia, Hawaii and Brazil.

      "I couldn't imagine raising my kids in an environment where they
      wouldn't have the opportunity to grow up being passionate about the
      same sports that I grew up being passionate about," he said.

      The Waveyard, to be built 15 miles east of Phoenix, would dwarf the
      typical water-slide parks familiar to many Arizona families.

      It will include an artificial whitewater river with multiple
      channels where kayakers can test themselves on Class 2 to Class 4
      rapids. Visitors could enjoy an artificial beach and a simulated
      ocean capable of producing different size waves, from 12-foot
      barreling waves to tamer chop for boogie boarders.

      The 125-acre park will feature a scuba lagoon, a snorkeling pond
      with reefs and a rock-climbing center.

      The Waveyard is envisioned as the summer equivalent of a ski resort—
      only with more choices, Mladick said. "We really struggle with the
      theme-park comparison. This is based on skilled sports."

      The park will also have restaurants, a shopping district, a spa, and
      a hotel and conference center.

      Jerry Hug, a businessman who co-founded the project, said he expects
      it will eventually generate more than $1 billion in revenue and
      create 7,500 jobs. That is especially attractive in Mesa, a city of
      about 460,000 people that has struggled to keep up with the booming
      development of its neighbors.

      "We don't have a property tax in our city," said Eric Jackson,
      chairman of the Mesa Chamber of Commerce. "It requires us to be very
      heavily dependent on revenues from sales taxes."

      Mesa voters overwhelmingly approved their proposal on Nov. 6,
      granting the Waveyard an estimated $35 million in tax incentives
      with more than 65 percent of the vote.

      No citizens groups overtly opposed the project, but its water usage
      may raise questions in the future as the growing Phoenix areas
      struggles to replenish its vast aquifer. Arizona has been in a
      drought for a decade, and rivers that feed Phoenix and surrounding
      communities experienced near-record low measurements this year.

      "Water is a scarce and valued commodity," said Jim Holway, associate
      director of the Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State

      Holway said the Phoenix area currently enjoys huge supplies of
      underground water. But it's tough to determine exactly how long
      communities can sustain their rate of water consumption, given that
      global warming may make the desert even drier.

      The Waveyard will need as much as 50 million gallons of water at
      first to fill its artificial oceans and rivers.

      Replenishing water lost to evaporation and spillage will require
      another 60 to 100 million gallons per year, enough to support about
      1,200 people in the Phoenix area.

      Project organizers say they won't tap Mesa's drinking water supplies
      to fill the park. Instead, they plan to draw from a well that has
      elevated levels of arsenic, which makes its water unsuitable for
      drinking. The Waveyard will build a treatment plant to make the
      water safe for swimmers.

      Rita Maguire, a former director of the Arizona Department of Water
      Resources who studied water availability for Waveyard developers,
      said the project will not use any more water than one of Arizona's
      many golf courses.

      "Initially, the reaction is, 'Oh my. Is this an appropriate use of
      water in a desert?'"

      "But recreation is a very important part of a community. And if you
      can make the use of that water in a highly efficient way, it's a
      smart choice," she said.

      Holway agreed, saying communities could do a better job using water
      in public spaces "that everybody can enjoy as opposed to having lush
      yards that we just lock behind fences."

      "From that point of view, maybe this is a good thing."
      On the Net:

      Waveyard: http://www.waveyard.com



      November 18, 2007
      The Medium
      Sweeping the Clouds Away

      Sunny days! The earliest episodes of "Sesame Street" are available
      on digital video! Break out some Keebler products, fire up the DVD
      player and prepare for the exquisite pleasure-pain of top-shelf

      Just don't bring the children. According to an earnest warning on
      Volumes 1 and 2, "Sesame Street: Old School" is adults-only: "These
      early `Sesame Street' episodes are intended for grown-ups, and may
      not suit the needs of today's preschool child."

      Say what? At a recent all-ages home screening, a hush fell over the
      room. "What did they do to us?" asked one Gen-X mother of two,
      finally. The show rolled, and the sweet trauma came flooding back.
      What they did to us was hard-core. Man, was that scene rough. The
      masonry on the dingy brownstone at 123 Sesame Street, where the
      closeted Ernie and Bert shared a dismal basement apartment, was
      deteriorating. Cookie Monster was on a fast track to diabetes.
      Oscar's depression was untreated. Prozacky Elmo didn't exist.

      Nothing in the children's entertainment of today, candy-colored
      animation hopped up on computer tricks, can prepare young or old for
      this frightening glimpse of simpler times. Back then — as on the
      very first episode, which aired on PBS Nov. 10, 1969 — a pretty,
      lonely girl like Sally might find herself befriended by an older
      male stranger who held her hand and took her home. Granted, Gordon
      just wanted Sally to meet his wife and have some milk and cookies,
      but . . . well, he could have wanted anything. As it was, he fed her
      milk and cookies. The milk looks dangerously whole.

      Live-action cows also charge the 1969 screen — cows eating common
      grass, not grain improved with hormones. Cows are milked by plain
      old farmers, who use their unsanitary hands and fill one bucket at a
      time. Elsewhere, two brothers risk concussion while whaling on each
      other with allergenic feather pillows. Overweight layabouts, lacking
      touch-screen iPods and headphones, jockey for airtime with their
      deafening transistor radios. And one of those radios plays a late-
      '60s news report — something about a "senior American official"
      and "two billion in credit over the next five years" — that conjures
      a bleak economic climate, with war debt and stagflation in the

      The old "Sesame Street" is not for the faint of heart, and certainly
      not for softies born since 1998, when the chipper "Elmo's World"
      started. Anyone who considers bull markets normal, extracurricular
      activities sacrosanct and New York a tidy, governable place — well,
      the original "Sesame Street" might hurt your feelings.

      I asked Carol-Lynn Parente, the executive producer of "Sesame
      Street," how exactly the first episodes were unsuitable for toddlers
      in 2007. She told me about Alistair Cookie and the
      parody "Monsterpiece Theater." Alistair Cookie, played by Cookie
      Monster, used to appear with a pipe, which he later gobbled.
      According to Parente, "That modeled the wrong behavior" — smoking,
      eating pipes — "so we reshot those scenes without the pipe, and then
      we dropped the parody altogether."

      Which brought Parente to a feature of "Sesame Street" that had not
      been reconstructed: the chronically mood-disordered Oscar the
      Grouch. On the first episode, Oscar seems irredeemably miserable —
      hypersensitive, sarcastic, misanthropic. (Bert, too, is described as
      grouchy; none of the characters, in fact, is especially sunshiney
      except maybe Ernie, who also seems slow.) "We might not be able to
      create a character like Oscar now," she said.

      Snuffleupagus is visible only to Big Bird; since 1985, all the
      characters can see him, as Big Bird's old protestations that he was
      not hallucinating came to seem a little creepy, not to mention
      somewhat strained. As for Cookie Monster, he can be seen in the old-
      school episodes in his former inglorious incarnation: a blue, googly-
      eyed cookievore with a signature gobble ("om nom nom nom").
      Originally designed by Jim Henson for use in commercials for General
      Foods International and Frito-Lay, Cookie Monster was never a
      righteous figure. His controversial conversion to a more diverse
      diet wouldn't come until 2005, and in the early seasons he comes
      across a Child's First Addict.

      The biggest surprise of the early episodes is the rural — agrarian,
      even — sequences. Episode 1 spends a stoned time warp in the company
      of backlighted cows, while they mill around and chew cud. This
      pastoral scene rolls to an industrial voiceover explaining dairy
      farms, and the sleepy chords of Joe Raposo's aimless
      masterpiece, "Hey Cow, I See You Now." Chewing the grass so
      green/Making the milk/Waiting for milking time/Waiting for giving

      Oh, what's that? Right, the trance of early "Sesame Street" and its
      country-time sequences. In spite of the show's devotion to
      its "target child," the "4-year-old inner-city black youngster" (as
      The New York Times explained in 1979), the first episodes join kids
      cavorting in amber waves of grain — black children, mostly, who must
      be pressed into service as the face of America's farms uniquely
      on "Sesame Street."

      In East Harlem and Bedford-Stuyvesant in 1978, 95 percent of
      households with kids ages 2 to 5 watched "Sesame Street." The figure
      was even higher in Washington. Nationwide, though, the number wasn't
      much lower, and was largely determined by the whims of the PBS
      affiliates: 80 percent in houses with young children. The so-called
      inner city became anywhere that "Sesame Street" played, because the
      Children's Television Workshop declared the inner city not a grim
      sociological reality but a full-color fantasy — an eccentric scene,
      framed by a box and far removed from real farmland and city streets

      The concept of the "inner city" — or "slums," as The Times bluntly
      put it in its first review of "Sesame Street" — was therefore
      transformed into a kind of Xanadu on the show: a bright, no-clouds,
      clear-air place where people bopped around with monsters and didn't
      worry too much about money, cleanliness or projecting false cheer.
      The Upper West Side, hardly a burned-out ghetto, was said to be the

      People on "Sesame Street" had limited possibilities and fixed
      identities, and (the best part) you weren't expected to change much.
      The harshness of existence was a given, and no one was proposing
      that numbers and letters would lead you "out" of your inner city to
      Elysian suburbs. Instead, "Sesame Street" suggested that learning
      might merely make our days more bearable, more interesting, funnier.
      It encouraged us, above all, to be nice to our neighbors and to
      cultivate the safer pleasures that take the edge off — taking baths,
      eating cookies, reading. Don't tell the kids.

      Points of Entry

      Caveat teletor: Volumes 1 and 2 of "Sesame Street: Old School" are
      available on DVD, which you can sample and buy on
      Sesameworkshop.org. With a few episodes, extras and celebrity
      appearances by the likes of Richard Pryor and Lou Rawls, "Old
      School" sounds harmless enough. But are you ready to mainline this
      much '70s nostalgia?

      The Way Old: YouTube is great for performance art. If 1969 is not
      far back enough for you, how's 1935? The Oscar-winning short
      film "How to Sleep," by the Algonquin Round-Tabler Robert Benchley,
      can be found here in sumptuous black-and-white; search for his name
      and the film's title on YouTube.

      Come of Age: Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick, the men of "My So-
      Called Life" and "thirtysomething," have at last introduced their
      online-only young-adult series, "Quarterlife." It started Nov. 11 on
      MySpaceTV.com, and it marks the first time a network-quality series —
      a long indie film, really — has been produced directly for the
      Internet. If the old times unnerve you, welcome to the new times.



      Diamond reveals `Caroline' inspiration

      Neil Diamond held onto the secret for decades, but he has finally
      revealed that President Kennedy's daughter was the inspiration for
      his smash hit "Sweet Caroline."

      "I've never discussed it with anybody before — intentionally," the
      66-year-old singer-songwriter told The Associated Press on Monday
      during a break from recording. "I thought maybe I would tell it to
      Caroline when I met her someday."

      He got his chance last week when he performed the song via satellite
      at Caroline Kennedy's 50th birthday party.

      Diamond was a "young, broke songwriter" when a photo of the
      president's daughter in a news magazine caught his eye.

      "It was a picture of a little girl dressed to the nines in her
      riding gear, next to her pony," Diamond recalled. "It was such an
      innocent, wonderful picture, I immediately felt there was a song in

      Years later, holed up in a hotel in Memphis, Tenn., he would write
      the words and music in less an hour.

      "It was a No. 1 record and probably is the biggest, most important
      song of my career, and I have to thank her for the inspiration," he
      said. "I'm happy to have gotten it off my chest and to have
      expressed it to Caroline. I thought she might be embarrassed, but
      she seemed to be struck by it and really, really happy."

      The enduring hit recently reappeared on the singles chart, thanks in
      part to the Boston Red Sox. "Sweet Caroline" is played at every home

      "I think they consider it good luck," Diamond said, adding that the
      Red Sox have become his favorite baseball team.

      The tune's return to the charts leaves Diamond "speechless," he
      said. "That song was written 40 years ago, so I am just overwhelmed
      by the fact that it has returned and that, more importantly, people
      have taken it into their hearts for so many years."

      Diamond is now at work on a new album, his second collaboration with
      producer Rick Rubin.

      "We're both very excited about it," Diamond said. "I think it's
      going to be one of my best ever."
      On the Net:

      Neil Diamond:

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