A look forward at soon-to-be-released stamps

After posting about the Star Wars stamps recently, I was exploring the US Postal Service web site when I saw the link to the 2007 commemorative stamp program preview. What I found so cool about the preview section was the link to a media kit, which includes downloadable images of the upcoming stamps from the USPS. The only real restrictions on using the images look to be unaltered full color reproduction (with the required exception to block out the stamp denomination for roughly-actual-size images) and inclusion of the USPS copyright symbol. Totally reasonable requirements. So reasonable, I’m counting myself as media and reprinting just a couple of the stamps that I think are really cool.

WASHINGTON – Marvel Comics, the art of Disney, Ella Fitzgerald, the settlement of Jamestown, Jimmy Stewart, Mendez v. Westminster, vintage mahogany speedboats, lighthouses and those stunning polar lights are just a sampling of diverse icons in the U.S. Postal Service’s 2007 commemorative stamp program lineup.

“Once again, the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee has delivered a powerful stamp program that reflects the American experience and highlights our values, heroes, history, achievements and natural wonders in an artistic collection of colorful postage stamps,” said Postmaster General John E. Potter.

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My take on the attorney firings

Since I’ve just been critical of the Bush administration on a number of things, and ended by pointing out the handling of the attorney firings fiasco, I figured I needed to put something up about my take on the firings. I’ll start by saying I don’t care that the firings took place – that is the President’s right and the attorneys’ risk. I don’t care that we, as Americans, were told that these attorneys were fired for job related issues, even though that claim has been shown highly improbable and inaccurate. I am surprised that this issue has garnered so much attention, but I don’t feel the attention is unwarranted.

I do care that the President has the right to replace the attorneys for an indefinite time without Congressional review. Thankfully, that right is being reviewed and presumably removed. And I do care that this affair has shown us that our top law man, Attorney General Gonzales, seems not to be trustworthy nor heavily in favor of actually protecting the rule of law as much as advancing political plans. I understand that this happens all the time, but I want the Attorney General to at least appear to be strongly motivated to protect the law over protecting the party. That may be unrealistic, but at least some attempt to favor law over party politics is necessary for my continued support.

When Gonzales was first up for appointment, I listened to the review sessions. I read up some on his background. I tried to stay informed of topics discussed in Congress and Gonzales views on rulings of the law. I saw some minor things that I wasn’t in favor of (for instance, Gonzales is not a proponent of personal rights – a pet protection of mine), but overall he looked like a good candidate. I had no real complaints when he was approved and assigned US Attorney General. Since then, however, he has given a bizarre interpretation of the Constitution in at least one instance I know, and now looks to be less trustworthy and more politically motivated than law and Constitutionally motivated. It’s an unavoidable reality that people’s personal biases will come out in such situations, but I’m concerned Gonzales may be letting too much personal viewpoint into his work. It’s hard to explain, so I’ll not get too deep into that. I just am expressing a growing personal unease with Gonzales and the job he has done since passing Congressional review.

I’m not ready to call for his resignation as many, liberal and conservative (and, unsurprisingly, another liberal), in Congress are. But I am keeping a careful eye on his performance and his work so I can better re-evaluate him (not that my view will have meaning to anyone but me).

[tags]My opinion on Gonzales and the attorney firings of last year[/tags]

Apple goes “Duh!” – gives users useful discount

Really, this is the kind of thing that is so obvious it seems some digital music provider would have already done this. I’ve complained about the lack of this feature before, and skipped purchasing online music in some cases because I didn’t see a store offer it. What the hell am I babbling about now? Why, Apple’s new complete my album purchasing option, naturally.

Apple(r) today announced Complete My Album(r), a groundbreaking new iTunes service that allows customers to turn their individual tracks into a complete album at a reduced price by giving them a full 99 cent credit for every track they have previously purchased from that album.

“Music fans can now round out their music collections by upgrading their singles into complete albums with just one click, and get full credit for those songs they have previously purchased from iTunes,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president of iTunes. “Complete My Album is a wonderful new way that iTunes helps customers grow and enjoy their music collections.”

. . .

Complete My Album offers customers up to 180 days after first purchasing individual songs from any qualifying album to purchase the rest of that album at a reduced price. When users buy any song on iTunes the corresponding album will immediately appear on their personalized Complete My Album page with the reduced price listed. For example, a user who’s already purchased three 99 cent singles and decides to buy the corresponding $9.99 album would be able to download the remaining songs to complete the album for just $7.02, without having to buy the singles again.

See? It’s a “Duh!” feature for people who like to legally acquire music for our portable media devices. (via CrunchGear)

[tags]Apple offering new “complete my album” purchase option online[/tags]

And it’s large enough to hold a lifetime supply!

condom-dispenser.jpg Well, at least for married men. What you are looking at there is the condom dispenser, available for purchase from Canoe Online. Dimensions aren’t given on the page, but looking at the height vs. width vs. depth, I’m guessing it will hold either 6 (half a box) or 12 (full box). In either case, all you married men can get one, load it up with a lifetime supply of your favorite condoms, and never again have to worry about where the rubbers are when that special day comes around once every few years. (via CrunchGear)

[tags]Condom dispenser holds lifetime supply for married men, Keep your condoms looking good while you aren’t using them[/tags]

Better child care = better vocabulary, but more child care = more behavior problems

In a recently released study, researchers say children who receive better childcare have better vocabularies, but are more likely to show behavioral problems in later elementary years as their time in childcare increases.

The findings come from the largest study of child care and development conducted in the United States. The 1,364 children in the analysis had been tracked since birth as part of a study by the National Institutes of Health.

In the study’s latest installment, being released Monday, researchers evaluated whether characteristics observed between kindergarten and third grade were still present in fifth grade or sixth grade. The researchers found that the vocabulary and behavior patterns did continue, though many other characteristics did dissipate.

The researchers said the increase in vocabulary and problem behaviors was small, and that parenting quality was a much more important predictor of child development.

Just something to think about if you shuffle your kids off to childcare every chance you get and pass on spending more time with them when you have the chance to. I’m certainly feeling more guilty than I used to about the amount of time my children spend in daycare.

On the other hand, it looks like the folks over at Slate smelled a rat on this. So Emily Bazelon at Slate contacted the study’s author, Margaret Burchinal, who wanted to explain what was not being reported properly about the study. Turns out the study wasn’t quite being reported properly in the news, or hadn’t fully expressed the negative findings as intended.

“I’m not sure we communicated this, but the kids who had one to two years of daycare by age 4½-which was typical for our sample-had exactly the level of problem behavior you’d expect for kids of their age. Most people use center care for one or two years, and for those kids we’re not seeing anything problematic.”

Could it be that most media outlets are over-reporting the negative aspects of childcare? It seems that perhaps the potential downsides of childcare make for a more sensationalistic report than the upsides or the importance of genetics and parenting. I’ll have to say, this certainly bears some small resemblance to my often repeated claim that mass media is biased towards sensationalism more than any particular political bias (which generally is expressed as the liberal media bias). I’m starting the think that maybe my evaluation of mass media providers is a better descriptor than the view held by those convinced of the liberal bias of the media. Of course, I’m used to believing myself more than anyone else. Yes, there is often a liberal bias, but I think more often the bias is sensationalism over all other things.

[tags]Better vocabulary from better childcare but more behavioral problems from more childcare?, How childcare quality and time correlates to vocabulary and behavioral states[/tags]