Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Europeans say (North) Americans have no sense of irony


I absolutely love it when people make sweeping generalities like this, especially when it includes a part of the population that includes me. More, please! More! And when they say that faith and irony can't coexist, again putting all (North) Americans of a great variety of races and cultures and income groups and religions in one basket -- I can't get enough! And I have a feeling that the writer said North Americans rather than just "Americans" because they'd rather deal with irritated Canadians and Mexicans than singled-out angry United-States-ians.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Smells Like Mass Media 3

I came across a story online (lost the URL) saying that Angelina Jolie is looking to 'rescue another baby from an atmosphere of terrible strife.' Word is the baby she has in mind is Sean Preston Federline.

Syndicated radio host Wendy Williams, among others, have expressed surprise that Britney Spears apparently expected some behavior from her husband other than what she's getting. Common sense says that if he cheated on someone else by seeing you, it's only a matter of time before he cheats on you by seeing someone else. What goes around, comes around. Shar Jackson must be laughing and gloating all the way to the bank -- she reportedly has a reality show in the works.

Then again, who doesn't? Even rapper DMX showed up in court for his sentencing appointment (late, and with an attitude) with reality-show cameras in tow. Of course, DMX's fifteen minutes of fame have expired, which probably explains why he stays in trouble with the law, so that his name can stay in the papers just a little bit longer.

Earlier this week, the comic strip Blondie had a gag about reality shows. Dagwood was watching a reality show where contestants were locked in a room and fed a constant diet of nothing but reality shows on TV. When each had all they could take, they would run screaming from the room, trying to get out. The last one in the room would be declared the winner. It's probably only a matter of time before someone tries that idea for real...

None of the reality-show producers seem to be aware of the scientific principle that an observer cannot fail to have an effect on the thing being observed. The only way any of these shows could be "reality" would be to conceal the cameras from the contestants. Because once they see them, they're more aware of how they look to potential onlookers, which will naturally affect their actions.

Of course, when there are no more potential onlookers -- that is, when TV viewers have started staying away from reality TV in droves -- we'll finally get relief from this broadcast infestation. Until then, as always, we'll find other things to do...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Shat Overboard!

ABC has gone overboard in advertising William Shatner's new game show, Show Me the Money! Especially when every sentence finds ways to stick the first syllable of Shatner into legitimate words like "fantastic" and "outrageous."

Here's word from others who agree:

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Kool Aid Fools

Remember the Mickey D clown car? Well, here's a couple of fools for Kool Aid. I hope they have endorsements or sponsorships or something to show for this...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

If Charles Barkley Were President

Video interview of Charles Barkley, pointing out what he sees wrong with politics as it's done today. He makes some good points, too...

If Sir Charles Were US President

It just occurred to me that if "Sir" Charles Barkley were to become president, we'd have to call him "Lord President."

NOT!! :-)

Friday, October 13, 2006

Why Friday the 13th Really Is Unlucky for Some

(taken from the UrbanLegends.About.com site)

Paraskevidekatriaphobia: Fear of Friday the 13th

I just finished reading the abstract of a study published in the British Medical Journal in 1993 entitled "Is Friday the 13th Bad for Your Health?" With the aim of mapping "the relation between health, behaviour, and superstition surrounding Friday 13th in the United Kingdom," its authors compared the ratio of traffic volume to the number of automobile accidents on two different days, Friday the 6th and Friday the 13th, over a period of years.

Incredibly, they found that in the region sampled, while consistently fewer people chose to drive their cars on Friday the 13th, the number of hospital admissions due to vehicular accidents was significantly higher than on "normal" Fridays.

Their conclusion:

"Friday 13th is unlucky for some. The risk of hospital admission as a
result of a transport accident may be increased by as much as 52 percent. Staying at home is recommended."

Paraskevidekatriaphobics — people afflicted with a morbid, irrational fear of Friday the 13th — must be pricking up their ears just now, buoyed by seeming evidence that their terror may not be so irrational after all. But it's unwise to take solace in a single scientific study — the only one of its kind, so far as I know — especially one so peculiar. I suspect these statistics have more to teach us about human psychology than the ill-fatedness of any particular date on the calendar.

Friday the 13th - The Most Widespread Superstition?

The sixth day of the week and the number 13 both have foreboding reputations said to date from ancient times, and their inevitable conjunction from one to three times a year portends more misfortune than some credulous minds can bear. Some sources say it may be the most widespread superstition in the United States. Some people won't go to work on Friday the 13th; some won't eat in restaurants; many wouldn't think of setting a wedding on the date.

Just how many Americans at the turn of the millennium still suffer from this condition? According to Dr. Donald Dossey, a psychotherapist specializing in the treatment of phobias (and coiner of the term "paraskevidekatriaphobia"), the figure may be as high as 21 million. If he's right, eight percent of Americans are still in the grips of a very old superstition.

Exactly how old is difficult to say, because determining the origins of superstitions is an imprecise science, at best. In fact, it's mostly guesswork.

13: The Devil's Dozen

It is said: If 13 people sit down to dinner together, all will die within the year. The Turks so disliked the number 13 that it was practically expunged from their vocabulary (Brewer, 1894). Many cities do not have a 13th Street or a 13th Avenue. Many buildings don't have a 13th floor. If you have 13 letters in your name, you will have the devil's luck (Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson, Jeffrey
Dahmer, Theodore Bundy and Albert De Salvo all have 13 letters in their names).
There are 13 witches in a coven.

Though no one can say for sure when and why human beings first associated the number 13 with misfortune, the belief is assumed to be quite old, and there exist any number of theories — all of which have been called into question at one time or another, I should point out — purporting to trace its origins to antiquity and beyond.

It has been proposed, for example, that fears surrounding the number 13 are as ancient as the act of counting. Primitive man had only his 10 fingers and two feet to represent units, this explanation goes, so he could count no higher than 12. What lay beyond that — 13 — was an impenetrable mystery to our prehistoric forebears, hence an object of superstition.

Which has an edifying ring to it, but one is left wondering — did primitive man not have toes?

Despite whatever terrors the numerical unknown held for their hunter-gatherer ancestors, ancient civilizations weren't unanimous in their dread of 13. The Chinese regarded the number as lucky, some commentators note, as did the Egyptians in the time of the pharaohs.

To the ancient Egyptians, these sources tell us, life was a quest for spiritual ascension which unfolded in stages — 12 in this life and a 13th beyond, thought to be the eternal afterlife. The number 13 therefore symbolized death — not in terms of dust and decay, but as a glorious and desirable transformation. Though Egyptian civilization perished, the symbolism conferred on the number 13 by its priesthood survived, only to be corrupted by subsequent cultures who came to associate 13 with a fear of death instead of a reverence for the afterlife.


Other sources speculate that the number 13 may have been purposely vilified by the founders of patriarchal religions in the early days of western civilization because it represented femininity. Thirteen had been revered in prehistoric goddess-worshiping cultures, we are told, because it corresponded to the number of lunar (menstrual) cycles in a year (13 x 28 = 364 days). The "Earth Mother of Laussel," for example — a 27,000-year-old carving found near the Lascaux caves in France often cited as an icon of matriarchal spirituality — depicts a female figure holding a cresent-shaped horn bearing 13 notches. As the solar calendar triumphed over the lunar with the rise of male-dominated civilization, it is surmised, so did the number 12 over the number 13, thereafter considered anathema.

On the other hand, one of the earliest concrete taboos associated with the number 13 — a taboo still observed by some superstitious folks today, evidently — is said to have originated in the East with the Hindus, who believed, for reasons I haven't been able to ascertain, that it is always unlucky for 13 people to gather in one place — say, at dinner. Interestingly enough, precisely the same superstition has been attributed to the ancient Vikings (though I have also been told, for what it's worth, that this and the accompanying mythographical explanation are apocryphal). The story has been laid down as follows:

Loki, the Evil One

Twelve gods were invited to a banquet at Valhalla. Loki, the Evil One, god of mischief, had been left off the guest list but crashed the party, bringing the total number of attendees to 13. True to character, Loki raised hell by inciting Hod, the blind god of winter, to attack Balder the Good, who was a favorite of the gods. Hod took a spear of mistletoe offered by Loki and obediently hurled it at Balder, killing him instantly. All Valhalla grieved. And although one might take the moral of this story to be "Beware of uninvited guests bearing mistletoe," the Norse themselves apparently concluded that 13 people at a dinner party is just plain bad luck.

As if to prove the point, the Bible tells us there were exactly 13 present at the Last Supper. One of the dinner guests — er, disciples — betrayed Jesus Christ, setting the stage for the Crucifixion.

Did I mention the Crucifixion took place on a Friday?

Bad Friday

It is said: Never change your bed on Friday; it will bring bad dreams. Don't start a trip on Friday or you will have misfortune. If you cut your nails on Friday, you cut them for sorrow. Ships that set sail on a Friday will have bad luck – as in the tale of H.M.S. Friday ...

One hundred years ago, the British government sought to quell once and for all the widespread superstition among seamen that setting sail on Fridays was unlucky. A special ship was commissioned, named "H.M.S. Friday." They laid her keel on a Friday, launched her on a Friday, selected her crew on a Friday and hired a man named Jim Friday to be her captain. To top it off, H.M.S. Friday embarked on her maiden voyage on a Friday, and was never seen or heard from again.

Some say Friday's bad reputation goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. It was on a Friday, supposedly, that Eve tempted Adam with the forbidden fruit. Adam bit, as we all learned in Sunday School, and they were both ejected from Paradise. Tradition also holds that the Great Flood began on a Friday; God tongue-tied the builders of the Tower of Babel on a Friday; the Temple of Solomon was destroyed on a Friday; and, of course, Friday was the day of the week on which Christ was crucified. It is therefore a day of penance for Christians.

In pagan Rome, Friday was execution day (later Hangman's Day in Britain), but in other pre-Christian cultures it was the sabbath, a day of worship, so those who indulged in secular or self-interested activities on that day could not expect to receive blessings from the gods — which may explain the lingering taboo on embarking on journeys or starting important projects on Fridays.

To complicate matters, these pagan associations were not lost on the early Church, which went to great lengths to suppress them. If Friday was a holy day for heathens, the Church fathers felt, it must not be so for Christians — thus it became known in the Middle Ages as the "Witches' Sabbath," and thereby hangs another tale.

The original About.com article ran a poll for readers to see what percentage is superstitious about Friday the 13th. To participate in the poll, click here.

The Witch-Goddess

The name "Friday" was derived from a Norse deity worshipped on the sixth day, known either as Frigg (goddess of marriage and fertility), or Freya (goddess of sex and fertility), or both, the two figures having become intertwined in the handing-down of myths over time (the etymology of "Friday" has been given both ways). Frigg/Freya corresponded to Venus, the goddess of love of the Romans, who named the sixth day of the week in her honor "dies Veneris."

Friday was actually considered quite lucky by pre-Christian Teutonic peoples, we are told — especially as a day to get married — because of its traditional association with love and fertility. All that changed when Christianity came along. The goddess of the sixth day — most likely Freya in this context, given that the cat was her sacred animal — was recast in post-pagan folklore as a witch, and her day became associated with evil doings.

Various legends developed in that vein, but one is of particular interest: As the story goes, the witches of the north used to observe their sabbath by gathering in a cemetery in the dark of the moon. On one such occasion the Friday goddess, Freya herself, came down from her sanctuary in the mountaintops and appeared before the group, who numbered only 12 at the time, and gave them one of her cats, after which the witches' coven — and, by tradition, every properly-formed coven since — comprised exactly 13.

The Unluckiest Day of All

The astute reader will have observed that while we have thus far insinuated any number of intriguing connections between events, practices and beliefs attributed to ancient cultures and the superstitious fear of Fridays and the number 13, we have yet to happen upon an explanation of how, why or when these separate strands of folklore converged — if that is indeed what happened — to mark Friday the 13th as the unluckiest day of all.

There's a very simple reason for that — nobody really knows, though various explanations have been proposed.

The Knights Templar

One theory, recently offered up as historical fact in the novel The Da Vinci Code, holds that it came about not as the result of a convergence, but a catastrophe, a single historical event that happened nearly 700 years ago.

The catastrophe was the decimation of the Knights Templar, the legendary order of "warrior monks" formed during the Christian Crusades to combat Islam. Renowned as a fighting force for 200 years, by the 1300s the order had grown so pervasive and powerful it was perceived as a political threat by kings and popes alike and brought down by a church-state conspiracy, as recounted by Katharine Kurtz in Tales of the Knights Templar (Warner Books: 1995):

    "On October 13, 1307, a day so infamous that Friday the 13th would become a synonym for ill fortune, officers of King Philip IV of France carried out mass arrests in a well-coordinated dawn raid that left several thousand Templars — knights, sergeants, priests, and serving brethren — in chains, charged with heresy, blasphemy, various obscenities, and homosexual practices. None of these charges was ever proven, even in France — and the Order was found innocent elsewhere — but in the seven years following the arrests, hundreds of Templars suffered excruciating tortures intended to force 'confessions,' and more than a hundred died under torture or were executed by burning at the stake."

A Thoroughly Modern Phenomenon

There are drawbacks to the "day so infamous" thesis, not the least of which is that it attributes enormous cultural significance to a relatively obscure historical event. Even more problematic, for this or any other theory positing premodern origins for Friday the 13th superstitions, is the fact that no one has been able to document the existence of such beliefs prior to the 19th century. If people who lived before the late 1800s perceived Friday the 13th as a day of special misfortune, no evidence has been found to prove it. As a result, some scholars are now convinced the stigma is a thoroughly modern phenomenon exacerbated by 20th-century media hype.

Going back a hundred years, Friday the 13th doesn't even merit a mention in E. Cobham Brewer's voluminous 1898 edition of the Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, though one does find entries for "Friday, an Unlucky Day" and "Thirteen Unlucky." When the date of ill fate finally does make an appearance in later editions of the text, it is without extravagant claims as to the superstition's historicity or longevity. The very brevity of the entry is instructive: "A particularly unlucky Friday. See Thirteen" — implying that the extra dollop of misfortune attributed to Friday the 13th can be accounted for in terms of an accrual, so to speak, of bad omens:

Unlucky Friday + Unlucky 13 = Unluckier Friday.

If that's the case, we are guilty of perpetuating a misnomer by labeling Friday the 13th "the unluckiest day of all," a designation perhaps better reserved for, say, a Friday the 13th on which one breaks a mirror, walks under a ladder, spills the salt, and spies a black cat crossing one's path — a day, if there ever was one, best spent in the safety of one's own home with doors locked, shutters closed and fingers crossed.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Day Old Post

Of course, all the stuff in that post about Joe Torre being fired turns out to be idle speculation, since General von Steingrabber has apparently consented to let Joe Torre at least finish out his contract.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Baaaasebaaaall, movies, and the Mets

It's been a long time, I shouldn't'a left you,
Without a dope post to read (or two)
Think about all the weak posts you slept through --
Time's up! Sorry I kept you...

(apologies to Rakim, and for this post title, more apologies to the guy who wrote that baseball song that he then customized for every major league team)

But it has been too long since a new post has shown up here. I created a post offline last night, then forgot to save it to my flash drive so I could take it to work and post it from there. They always say the memory is the first thing to go. (grin)

So the Yankees, embarrassed and angry that the $200-million-plus paid to their band of suspects didn't get them past the first round of the playoffs for a second straight season, want to fire Joe Torre and replace him with Lou Piniella. Well, they're right about someone having to lose their job for incompetence and lack of foresight. Too bad that somebody can't be George Steinbrenner.

In yesterday's NY Daily News Mike Lupica makes all the all the right noises to avoid sounding like a Steinbrenner hatchet-man when he says, in so many words, that Torre isn't responsible for the free-agent acquisitions that turned the Yankees from a team to a bunch of individuals who take the field at the same time and play wearing the same uniform. He admits that firing Torre won't make the pitching staff any younger or any better. It won't solve Alex Rodriguez' protracted I-problem. But then he says that some kind of change has to be made, and that nobody gets to be Yankees manager forever, not even Torre.

Well, he's right that nobody gets to be Yankee manager forever, and I never thought Torre would even try to bend that rule. But firing him for the failures of his team is the wrong move. What they need to do is get rid of the guys who are too wrapped up in themselves (Alex RodrIguez, Gary SheffIeld) to be team players. A caller to a radio call-in show on WFAN here in New York pointed out this past Sunday that during post-elimination interviews, Jeter's sentences were dominated by "we," while Pay-Rod's were dominated by "I" (hence my mention of his "I-problem"). Kinda vindicates Steve Phillips, former Mets general manager, for breaking off negotiations with Rodriguez back when he was a free agent, claiming that Pay-Rod wanted his own publicity staff and an office with a secretary. Phillips probably exaggerated when relating what he says Rodriguez wanted, but A-Rod definitely turns any team from a unit of 25 players to a "24+1" unit, and that never works. Even Reggie Jackson, king of I-problems, knew that he couldn't be that separate from the team for very long and expect success. At least I think he did...

Bill Madden of the Daily News suggests that some apparently believe that if Piniella is hired in Torre's place, he might be able to get more out of Rodriguez. They got along well when Piniella was managing the Seattle Mariners and Rodriguez was their start shortstop. But that same story also points out that it was after Rodriguez left, winding up in Texas with a $252 million contract and a nickname ("Pay-Rod") I'm sure he hates, that the Mariners set a regular season record with a 116-46 record. I'm sure that's not a coincidence.

Even Derek Jeter gets some of the blame in the Daily News stories, which point out that Jeter was quick to come to Jason Giambi's defense when the sterioids stories began hitting the news, while doing and saying absolutely nothing to bring A-Rod into the fold when he began floundering. Maybe Jeter, the team captain, could have been more supportive of A-Rod, but that wouldn't change the fact that Jeter is a team player, and Rodriguez is not. Case closed.

Meanwhile, there's a report that, if Joe Torre is indeed fired, the Texas Rangers would be interested in hiring him, since the recent firing of Buck Showalter leaves the managerial position open. If Torre goes down there and tears up the American League the way the Mets did the National League this year, Buck Showalter will be vindicated in the claims he made back in 2002, that he planted the seeds that grew into Yankee world championships in the late 90s and the Arizona Diamondbacks championship in 2001. After all, Showalter, who was given an unusual amount of say in personnel decisions, helped create the teams that went on to win it all in New York and Arizona. If Torre gets fired in NY, takes the Texas job, and wins it all in 2007 or 2008, it would probably be right to conclude that Showalter should be in the front office, not on the field. Not that he's a bad manager, per se, but if Texas winds up being the third consecutive team he helped put together that goes on to win a World Series within two seasons of firing him as manager, he should seriously consider seeking a front office job and leave the field managing to others.

There's also an article in the sports section of yesterday's Daily News suggesting that maybe Torre isn't as close to being fired as all the screaming headlines suggest, that this might be Steinbrenner's way, though an underling, of making sure the Yankees remain the top baseball story in New York, even though the Mets are the only New York baseball team whose season is not over. Wouldn't surprise me at all; they say Steinbrenner hates it when the Mets make the front or back pages of the NY newspapers for any reason, baseball-related or not. Even in the aftermath of 9-11 it became an issue when Mets players were in the Ground Zero area volunteering their services -- visiting the injured in area hospitals, helping to feed the rescue and cleanup workers, etc. -- while Yankees players were conspicuously absent. The Yankees players, no doubt egged on by the front office, accused the Mets players of grandstanding to make the papers, while the Mets players accused the Yankees of not taking the opportunity to do something to help.

Meanwhile, outside the stadium...

This, from yesterday's New York Daily News, near the very end of the Lupica article calling for Torre's dismissal and replacing him with Lou Piniella:

Across Rupert Place, a couple of kids from the neighborhood, Nelson and Alvin G, from 162nd and Woodycrest, were playing basketball at Macombs Dam Park, which will be razed soon for the new Yankee Stadium.

"What did you think about the Yankees?" Nelson G was asked.

The kid smiled. "Let's go, Mets!" he said. Then, he was chanting it. "Let's go, Mets! Let's go, Mets!"

Then there were two more kids coming from the next court... laughing and yelling for the Mets across the street from Yankee Stadium.

Take that, General von Steingrabber!

"The Last King of Scotland"

Stanley Crouch, professional grouch for the NY Daily News, has good things to say about this movie, namely how it personalizes Uganda dictator Idi Amin Dada, generally portrayed by history as a monster in a uniform. Crouch says it does a good job of showing how Amin was able to sway people into seeing him as "not the animal he's made out to be," and that in doing so Forest Whitaker does the "unimaginable."

What I want to know is, why is this movie called "The Last King of Scotland"? I know a pivotal part of the story is how Amin manages to get a young doctor from Scotland to agree to be his personal physician, and how this man tries to reconcile the man he knows as his patient with the animal Amin was made out to be by the rest of the world. But it's a bit... disconcerting, to see a pic of a maniacally-grinning Whitaker, in uniform as Amin, with "The Last King of Scotland" as the caption to the photo.

"One team plays games, the other plays baseball"

That is the headline at the top of Lisa Olson's story comparing the Mets NLCS team and the Yankees' failure to launch.

She make some good points in comparison, but the point, not mentioned in the story, that resonates with me is this:

Pedro Martinez, the staff ace, was unavailable for much of the season, and totally unavailable for the postseason; Orlando Hernandez, not the staff ace but maybe the best postseason pitcher in the game, was also unavailable for the postseason -- and still, the Mets swept the Dodgers. They needed a lot of help from the bullpen -- in fact, no team that has swept the first round of playoffs has had the starting pitchers consistently leave the games so early -- but the bullpen came through, as bullpens are supposed to, and the Mets are in the league playoffs while the Yankees can only "participate" in the postseason as spectators.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Mark Twain quote on Iraq, um, I mean the Phillippines

Mark Twain could have been a prophet, it looks like. As you read the following quote, change "the Phillipines" to "Iraq," "Filipino(s)" to "Iraqi(s)," and "Spanish" to "Saddam Hussein's," and this quote could have been made recently about the current war in Iraq, instead of one hundred years ago about a war halfway around the world in the Phillipines (from Wikipedia):

"There is the case of the Philippines. I have tried hard, and yet I cannot
for the life of me comprehend how we got into that mess. Perhaps we
could not have avoided it -- perhaps it was inevitable that we should
come to be fighting the natives of those islands -- but I cannot
understand it, and have never been able to get at the bottom of the
origin of our antagonism to the natives. I thought we should act as
their protector -- not try to get them under our heel. We were to relieve
them from Spanish tyranny to enable them to set up a government of
their own, and we were to stand by and see that it got a fair trial. It was
not to be a government according to our ideas, but a government
that represented the feeling of the majority of the Filipinos, a govern-
ment according to Filipino ideas. That would have been a worthy
mission for the United States. But now -- why, we have got into a mess,
a quagmire from which each fresh step renders the difficulty of
extrication immensely greater. I'm sure I wish I could see what we
were getting out of it, and all it means to us as a nation."

As always, this quote refers to a miscalculation on the part of the US government. Or, rather, it resulted from the custom of going in shooting first, then figuring out what the suitation is and what is at stake. In this case, Spain had lost the Spanish-American War -- which many believe the US provoked by blowing up an American ship docked in Cuba and blaming it on the Spanish -- resulting in the US gaining rulership over Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Phillipines. Since Filipinos had been putting up an armed resistance to Spanish rule, the US mistakenly thought the Filipinos would be happy with their new rulers.

Wrong. They didn't want new outside rulers, no matter who they were. The result was four years of war in a land where both the terrain and the culture were totally unfamiliar to the US forces, resulting in four years of war and over four thousand of American solders killed.

Seem the least bit familiar?

Free Dunkin Donuts Coffee?? Where?! When?! Oh, *Iced* Coffee...

I got an email this morning from TheInternetPatrol.com about a supposed Yahoo promotion, offering free Dunkin Donuts iced coffee to anyone who visits Yahoo's site and prints out a coupon. I've never been a fan of cold coffee, but hey, it's free, and I like their hot coffee. So, I went to Yahoo, and there's no mention of it on the site's front page.

OK, I thought, they want to make you work for it. No problem. So, I did a Y!Search (I tack a "Y" onto all things Yahoo) found a bunch of sites with varying versions of the same story, but no actual links to a Yahoo page with a printable Dunkin Donuts free coffee coupon. One of those sites suggested that it may be just a publicity stunt. Its version of the story claimed that you had to make Yahoo your Web start page in order to be given access to the Web coupon, raising the question (as that particular site did) of how Yahoo could even know that you've switched your start page in the first place.

But, hey, free coffee, even if it is cold. So, I clicked on the link at the top of Yahoo's front page that's supposed to make it my computer's start page, and it didn't work. Not a surprise, since I work in a government office, and the combination spyware/anti-spyware that runs on all our computers probably prevents that kind of thing.

It's looking more and more like a publicity stunt by the second...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Somaya Reece

(that's a link, son)

Nothing more needs to be said. Somaya Reece is a beautiful woman, a nice person, and takes great photos (on both sides of the camera!) Also, her standalone website is being reorganized, so the link leads to her MySpace portfolio.

Check out the Somaya Reece music page also: http://www.myspace.com/somayareecemusic

Friday, August 25, 2006

Stop snitching? How about "Grow up"!

Every time I hear about these idiot rappers and others going around talking about "stop snitching," I just want to wring somebody's neck. People have a right to be able to go about their lives confident in the fact that, if they are done wrong, somebody who saw something till speak up on behalf of the person who was hurt. Instead, you have these fools talking about some "code of the street."

When I was much younger, I understood that there were certain things that distinguished "grown-ups" from kids. One of them was that grown-ups had to go to work, while kids didn't (and usually couldn't). More importantly, I know that when you passed a certain point in your life, you were expected to take responsibility for your actions. If an eight-year-old breaks a neighbor's window, his (or her) parents have to pay for it. But if a working teenager or adult does the same thing, he or she is responsible for it. To run away from responsibility was to avoid "being a responsible person," that is, an adult.

Which means that these idiots pressuring people to "stop snitching" are basically overgrown boys and girls trying to pass themselves off as men and women. Do you hear me, Tony Yayo? You "had something to do" with a shooting that escalated from your G-Unit crew's stupid tactic of starting beef with any- and everybody just to get headlines, and it ended up with a man being killed in cold blood. Until this matter is settled (and if you did the shooting, that means you behind bars), YOU CANNOT CALL YOURSELF A MAN. Grow up, and take whatever the law has coming to you like a man.

But wait, there's more...

The New York State Metropolitan Transit Authority has a slogan, "If you see something, say something," to prevent would-be terrorists from disrupting services or taking lives. The saying also applies to those "stop snitching" idiots. If you see a crime being committed, especially against someone who did nothing to merit being wronged, you have a responsibility (there's that word again) to speak up. To do otherwise, again, is avoiding being a responsible person, an adult.

Did you hear that, Busta Rhymes? Until you do right by the family of your slain bodyguard, YOU CANNOT CALL YOURSELF A MAN. "Doing right" by them doesn't mean only paying for the funeral arrangements and whatever else you might have done to ease a guilty conscience. It means speaking up so that the triggerman, be it Tony Yayo or whoever, will go to jail and pay for what he did. As for you, Busta, you don't have to prove anything to people who don't want to grow up, unless you yourself don't want to grow up either. Until this thing happened I had always thought you were a stand-up guy, as they say. I guess I was wrong...

Being responsible also means not blaming others for your own stupidity or lapses of judgment. You hear, Lil Kim? You refused to testify against people who cooperated with the police. What in God's name was the poInt of that? Don't you know that anytime you even refuse to answer a cop's question on the street, they can get you for obstruction of justice? Even if you harbor a fugitive that you know is innocent, you are still guilty of obstruction even after the person's innocence is proved. That charge doesn't mean allowing someone to get away with something, it means not cooperating. You chose not to cooperate, so you went to jail. Case closed. Yet you run around, yapping to anyone who will listen that your former friends "snitched" on you. But they didn't make you decide not to cooperate, that was your choice. Until you can own up to that (and shut up and move on) , YOU CANNOT CALL YOURSELF A WOMAN.

I could go on and on -- the hip-hop world, in particular, excels in providing examples of this kind of stupidity -- but I've made my point. Once you pass a certain age, you take responsibility for your actions. That is what "responsible adult" means. If you won't do that, YOU ARE NOT AN ADULT. Period.

And just for the record, I am not some old, conservative, Frank Sinatra contemporary who just "doesn't get the younger generation." Nor am I Stanley the Grouch, um, I mean Stanley Crouch writing incognito. I'm 41 years old; I grew up with rap but I remember when there were no rap records. I remember when there weren't so many thirtysometings walking around acting and talking like teenagers to appeal to an audience who will forget all about them in six months.

Monday, August 21, 2006

I'm boss, Hil tells Bill (updated)

Originally posted 3/21/06 -- update at the end

It will be interesting to see just how this works out. Hillary Clinton, the wife if I understand correctly, wants to OK all public statemens by Bill Clinton, her husband, before he makes them, in order to make sure he doesn't say or do anything to hurt her chances of getting the Democratic Party's endorsement for President in the 2008 election.

I'm boss, Hil tells Bill

The thing is, I don't see a whole lot of conflict in some of what the press is portraying as conflicting statements made by the two in recent weeks. For instance, Hillary Clinton made it clear that she voted in favor of the resolution to remove Saddam Hussein from power, seeing it as a move to stabilize the Middle East. Bill later went on record as saying that the Bush administration made errors in judgment in determining just how long it would take to remove Saddam and his supporters and oversee the transition to a democratic government.

Where's the conflict? Did Hillary say that she thinks the President and the military are doing exactly what needs to be done? I don't recall reading or hearing that. Nor do I recall Bill Clinton saying that Saddam should have been allowed to stay in power. The conflict, if there is any, is just the press making a mountain out of a molehill in order to sell newspapers and attract TV news viewers. After all, the NY Daily News article this post links to is advertised with a cartoon of Hillary Clinton pulling the strings of a zipper-mouthed Bill.

UPDATE: Suddenly I'm picturing Hillary Clinton dancing around the house in Chappaqua, singing along to Kelis' "Bossy."

Monday, August 14, 2006

Google Ice Cream

I've been saying for years that I live on the wrong coast. I should be out on the West Coast, preferably California, where (if I find the right place) I can throw out my winter clothes, and maybe even my allergy medicine. But now I find that even if I did move to the West Coast I'd probably be working for the wrong company. Google has specially-made ice-cream sandwiches that are only served in their company cafeteria.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

Rude Cell Phone Callers

Interesting article here about rude cell-phone use. This one starts off with something I wish I'd see more often -- a rude cell phone user who insists on finishing her conversation when the counterperson in Starbucks it ready to wait on her gets tossed out of line when the clerk calls for the next customer. Rude talker stomps off, still talking. Probably doesn't think she did anything wrong, the twit.

Wired News

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

OK, so these things happen (re: Abreu on the Yankees, Nady gone, Sanchez on the DL, etc.)

All right, I guess nobody on the Mets front office staff is a fortune teller. They had no way of knowing that the Yankees would make a move to get Bobby Abreu before the Mets could get him. They had no way of knowing that some wild driver in Miami would sideswipe the taxicab carrying pitcher Duaner Sanchez, separating his shoulder and ending his season, making it necessary to trade right fielder Xavier Nady, the man whose presence in the Met outfield made a trade for Abreu unnecessary. They also had no way of knowing that the day Abreu first suited up in a Yankee uniform for a game, the Yankees would move back into first place, stealing some of the Mets' thunder. They couldn't have known any of that in advance.

But now I find myself thinking about how the Mets season might wind up with their most dependable reliever (Sanchez) out of the game and a popular and steady outfielder (Nady) now playing for another team. And about the popular and steady outfielder (Abreu) that could have been a Met but is now a Yankee...

Roberto Hernandez should be able to pick up the slack, I guess. I mean, even at 40 years old, he was the highlight of the Mets bullpen last year, and by all accounts was headed to a similar record this season. He's even on the top-ten list for career saves, which came as a surprise to me, since I had never heard of him before the Mets got him last year.

I just don't want to watch somebody else's team in the playoffs again this year. I want to see the Mets there, and I want to see them there because they won their way there, not because they slid in through the backdoor via the wild card.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Bobby Abreu on the Yankees?! I can't believe it!!

Ever since the 2000 season, when the New York Yankees and the crosstown Mets played each other in the World Series, I've wanted to see Bobby Abreu, from then until yesterday the right fielder for the Philadelphia Phillies, in a Mets uniform. I don't recall just what happened in 2000 that made me aware of Abreu, but I just wanted to see him on the Mets. He was a dependable hitter with some power, had a powerful throwing arm, and didn't mouth off much in the papers.

And they've had plenty of opportunities to make it happen. In particular, when the Mets were trying to get rid of Anna, um, I mean Kris Benson, they could have made a trade for Abreu. Instead, they made headlines by trying to get their hands on Manny Ramirez, the much flashier and crankier right fielder for the Boston Red Sox. I remember having fits because the Phillies were making Abreu available, and the Sox had also been in talks with the Phillies about a possible Abreu-for-Ramirez swap. It seemed to me that if Benson=Ramirez and Abreu=Ramirez, then Benson=Abreu. Instead the Mets sent Anna and her husband to Baltimore in a trade, and wound up with neither Abreu nor Ramirez.

And now Abreu is on the Yankees.

Granted, the Yankees have more of a need for an outfielder of Abreu's caliber. They're one game out of first place, which in the Yankee mindset is like being only one foot underwater. They want to get up where they think they belong. The Mets, on the other hand, are enjoying the largest lead of any division leader in the majors, 14 games as of today. The Mets are so far out front that only self-destruction could prevent them from making it into the post-season. Their outfield may not have the total star power of Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, and Garry Sheffield, but even with Curt Floyd, Carlos Beltran, and the more "pedestrian" Xavier Nady, Endy Chavez, and Eli Marrero, they've been doing just fine. If they'd gotten Abreu, then most likely Nady, who's become a fan favorite, would have to sit.

I guess what sickens me about the whole thing is that, as much as I wanted to see Abreu on the Mets, the Yankees were able to get him because the Mets don't really need him. A good problem to have, I suppose...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Who woulda think it? (Barry Bonds' indictment)

According to SI.com, Bonds [is] relieved not to be indicted. Who woulda thunk it? I'd have thought he'd be eager to spend time in court listening to government prosecutors repeat over and over again how he's guilty of something he contends he's not.


Actually, I wouldn't believe Barry Bonds if he tells me there's solid ground under my feet even as I feel it there for myself. I say this because due to a medical situation I have to take steroids myself, though not anabolic, and I've already had to have surgery on my hips after less than a year on the meds. His intermittent hobbling around on bad knees, bad enough at one time to have cost him almost a whole season, are a dead giveaway of steroid use.

Steroids block delivery of oxygen to blood vessels in joints. It can happen in any joint but is most common in the shoulders, hips, and knees. Bonds has never been overweight, per se, and probably had little or no knee trouble before 1998, when Mark McGuire (and Sammy Sosa) threatened to make him an afterthought. But when Bonds saw what "andro" did for McGwire's production (and the attention he got), he decided to go in that direction himself, even as it became obvious that McGwire's body was breaking down prematurely because of the stuff.

Now, I know Bonds has steadily denied knowingly using steroids, and that he has never failed a drug test. But from my own experience I have to believe he's using, no matter what he says. It's just too bad that his own stubbornness won't allow him to fess up to what he's done and take his punishment like a man.

Equally shameful is the fact that fake-commissioner Selig hems and haws and hopes the federal government takes Bonds off his hands, so he won't have to make a decision himself. He knows that the Bonds situation is bad for baseball, but I wonder if he has given any thought to the possibility that the delay by the Feds could simply be part of making a case against continuing baseball's anti-trust exemption? He should give that some thought, because if the exemption is revoked, Selig is sure to be out of a job. If that were to happen, it would quickly point out the sham of the so-called blind trust that owns the Brewers, openly owned by Selig until his occupation of the commissioner's office (not the Commissioner's Office -- he's not doing the job, he's just using the room). Because Selig would be back in Milwaukee running the Brewers as if nothing had happened.

Because nothing has.

Who knows? Things could turn around. Now that the Washington Nationals have more-or-less been bought by someone, finally, there will be less excuse for Selig's refusal to do something about the Bonds situation. Selig has to have a roomful of advisors for even the most trivial decision. Let's see if he or his advisors will realize everything that could be at stake here, and finally do something about Bonds, before the rug gets pulled from under them.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Sidekick 3 Will Erase Your Credit Cards! and Quickly!

Not spam, not a scam, this is real, and this site has the photos to prove it!

Sidekick 3 Warning: Sidekick 3’s Magnet Will Erase Your Credit Card in Under a Second

This seems just really stupid to me. Don't they test these things? I mean, not just for the unit's functionality, but for things like this? When people start finding they have dead credit/debit cards and unusable electronic media and connect it to the Sidekick 3, there will be lawsuits. And all because somebody didn't think that maybe such a strong magnet would cause problems...

Monday, June 19, 2006

Create Your Own Customers

Nestle has decided that it was time to create a market for themselves, or to put themselves in a position to do so. Nestle AG is buying Jenny Craig Inc.

Here's the reposted message from another message board:

See this is how the rich stay rich, you spend all that money, in a self
defeating effort, to get fat. Then you spend all that money, in a guilty
rampage, to lose all that weight. And it all goes in the same

VEVEY, Switzerland - In a twist in corporate synergy, chocolate-maker Nestle AG said Monday it will fatten up its weight-loss business by buying Jenny Craig Inc. for $600 million.

The acquisition follows Nestle's purchase for around $670 million last
month of Uncle Tobys, an Australian maker of nutritional cereals and snacks, and is part of the company's "continuing commitment to nutrition, health and wellness," the Swiss company said in a statement.

While best known for its namesake chocolates, Nestle is the world's largest food and drinks company, making baby formulas, nutrition foods such as PowerBar, drinks to aid weight loss and the Lean Cuisine line. The company's purchase of Jenny Craig follows the lead of consumer products company Unilever, which bought both Ben & Jerry's ice cream and Slim Fast in 2000.

Weight management will become a new business within Nestle's nutrition unit and will reinforce its U.S. presence, the company said.

"With this strategic acquisition, the group takes another important step in its transformation process into a nutrition, health and wellness company," said Nestle Chairman and Chief Executive Peter Brabeck-Letmathe.

"The rise of obesity and the resulting metabolic disorders, such as
diabetes and cardiovascular disease, is a major public health concern,
not only in the USA but also the world over," Brabeck-Letmathe said.

Jenny Craig, which has more than 3,000 employees and more than 600 centers in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand, generated sales of more than $400 million in the past 12 months and achieved double-digit internal growth.

Patrik Schwendimann, analyst for Zuercher Kantonalbank, said the purchase will likely further boost the prospects of Nestle's nutrition division. Zuercher Kantonalbank and Helvea both said the purchase comes at an affordable price of 1.5 times sales.

Nestle is buying Jenny Craig from two private equity groups, ACI Capital and MidOcean Partners. The current management team of Jenny Craig, which is based in Carlsbad, Calif., will continue to run the business and report directly to Nestle.

"We are excited to be partnering with Nestle Nutrition and believe Jenny Craig will fit nicely into, and in fact complement, their portfolio of branded nutritional products and services," said Patti Larchet, CEO of Jenny Craig. "We also believe being a strategic pillar within the Nestle organization will provide us with technical, scientific and nutritional resources to further develop our program and continue to enhance our client experience and results."

The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter, the private
equity firms said in a statement.

Nestle shares gained 0.3 percent to 370.00 Swiss francs ($300.58) in Zurich trading.

On Disney, Laziness, and Cannibalism

Disney and Why the Anasazi Ate Themselves (from VagueButTrue.com)

J.Lo as Sue Ellen in Dallas? Madness!

Scoop: To avoid J.Lo, Jennifer ditches �Dallas� role - Examiner.com

Friday, May 19, 2006

New perspective on Barry Bonds issue

Here's an interesting perspective from a sportwriter boycotting Barry Bonds games, a sportswriter who happens to be a black woman.

SI.com - Writers - Elizabeth Newman: Decision to boycott Barry Bonds is not about race - Thursday May 18, 2006 5:15PM

Friday, May 12, 2006

NFL Commissioner Condi?? Secretary of State Tagliabue?!

Current NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue has announced that he intends to leave office in July unless the NFL owners haven't found a replacement for him by then, in which case he might stay a bit longer. An article in today's NY Daily News lists ten possible replacements for Tagliabue, among them US Secretary of State Condolezza Rice, ex-US President Bill Clinton, and ex-NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani. Of the three, I'd have to say that Giuliani is probably the one most owners would take seriously. On the other hand, during his tenure as mayor he tended to come across as hall-monitor-in-chief rather than the city's CEO, and the billionaires and multimillionaires that run the NFL might not appreciate someone with that demeanor. (Though I recall some of the members of my high school's Red Brigade, as we called them, and they were a tough bunch. Charlotte Rodriguez could whip the NFL into shape pronto.)

Condi Rice actually said, back when she was national security advisor, that she would be interested in the job once Tagliabue left office, but a story in today's Daily News makes it clear that though she's a huge football fan -- "she thinks football is the greatest sport on earth," according to a spokesperson -- she won't be leaving the White House for the NFL, though at least one owner is clearly in her corner should she change her mind. Bill Clinton is also being touted by another Daily News writer as a good candidate to replace Tagliabue, though dealing with NFL owners' egos could make him nostalgic for Pennsylvania Avenue, according to this article.

[Interestingly, Condi made this statement about wanting to be NFL commissioner during Bush's first term, suggesting that either she didn't expect Bush to be (re-)elected or she didn't plan to stick around for a second term.]

And if Hillary Clinton getting elected to Capitol Hill while her husband was still President made a big splash in the news, imagine Bill as NFL commish while his wife's running for or if she's elected President!

Better the NFL than major league baseball, I say. Hillary's supposedly a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, she would be hard-pressed to refrain from meddling if Bill were to become MLB commissioner, with all the mess that's going on in baseball these days. There's the Barry Bonds situation (retire, please, NOW); the "ownerless" Washington Nationals, who will never be allowed to become competitive as long as all of baseball's owners officially co-own the team; and who knows what else could pop up.

UPDATE: It has come to light that not only is it Condi Rice's dream job to be NFL commissioner, but it's also Paul Tagliabue's dream job to be Secretary of State! He's already on a couple of foreign policy committees, due to his past high-level employment by the federal government, and still has high security clearance. Maybe the Feds and the NFL could work out a trade?

Send in the clowns!

The other day, a coworker was telling a story about a family who had appeared on Family Feud or some such show, and it happens they were a family of professional... clowns. Once another coworker I'll call J heajrd the reference to clowns, she just started cracking up laughing for no apparent reason. She didn't even know herself just what she found so funny about a family of clowns, except she did offer this: "Say you're bringing your boyfriend or girlfriend to meet your family for the first time and he or she asks, 'So what do you do?' and the answer comes back, 'We're clowns...'" after which she broke up again. The girl telling the story made sure to emphsize CLOWN everytime she got to that word, just for the reaction, and every time she did J would just dissolve into laughter. I happened to mention the scene in the Charlie Sheen movie "The Chase" where Charlie's character is trying to convince his "hostage" that he's really innocent of the crime he'd been convicted of (just before he accidentally kidnapped her), and the story involves a children's birthday party where he's dressed as a clown. J managed to get "I remember that!" out before cracking up again.

So, the next day, I thought I'd try to put her at ease, especially since her next-cubicle neighbor was still at it. "Don't worry, J, I won't try to get laughs out of you like I did yesterday afternoon," I said in my most soothing voice. "You don't have to worry, 'cause Homey don't play dat."

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Caveat Scriptor...

...or something. I'm trying to say beware of what you post online, because you NEVER know who's reading, or how they might react. You'd think someone in a sensitive profession like law would think long and hard about whether to blog about an ongoing case, complete with enough details for readers to piece together the identity of the writer and of those being written about.

At least I would think so, but what do I know? I'm not a lawyer. Maybe that's a good thing...

The Internet Patrol: Blog Postings Cost Lawyer His Job When Read by Judge

USATODAY.com - Old Man at Shea

This one isn't "strange," per se, just unusual. The New York Mets' Julio Franco, 47 years old, has just set a record for the oldest player to hit a home run in a regular-season game. Says he wants to hit a homer at 50. More power to him. (OK, that wasn't intended to be a pun.)

USATODAY.com - This player is really, really old school

Update: on Thursday 4/27 Franco stole a base. It wasn't the best situation to steal a base in -- he left first base empty with one out and Carlos Delgado, a power hitter, at bat -- but I like that hustle, especially in an older... make that the oldest player. The only player in major league history older than him to have stolen a base, did it almost 100 years ago. For the Mets' sake, I hope Julio continues to NOT act his age.

Too bad Rickey Henderson didn't have that kind of hustle in him when the Mets had him. His conviction that he is and will always be a SUPERstar is what did him in. He's a year older than Franco, but Franco's been playing continuously since he joined the majors, even going to Japan and Korea when he had to, taking nothing for granted. Superstar Rickey "bided his time" in the minors, convinced that a major-league callup was just minutes away. Well, it's been two years now, and no one's calling. Better hang up that pride, Rickey: retire, and take a coaching or TV job somewhere, instead of hanging around ballparks looking desperate.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

At the time, it seemed like the thing to do...

Four Jobs I’ve Had:

  • Newspaper subscription telemarketer
  • Credit information verifier
  • Cashier
  • Bus driver

Four Movies I Can Watch Over and Over:

  • Silverado (the 'form' is Western, but they pack mystery, action, romance, comedy, and a fair bit of intrigue into it)
  • Better Off Dead (from John Cusack's teen-movie phase)
  • Independence Day (Judd Hirsch is great in this, as are Randy Quaid [yes, really!] and Bill... Pullman? Paxton? I get them confused)
  • Canadian Bacon (no explanations, no excuses, I just like it. Michael Moore needs to make more narrative movies. And it's great the way he got Canadian actors to play up Canadian stereotypes -- John Lithgow, Steven Wright, etc.)
  • BONUS: The Core (hey, with Stanley Tucci [The Man], Delroy Lindo [also The Man], and Alfre Woodard showing the others how to act, how could I NOT watch?)

Four -- no, Three Places I’ve Lived:

  • White Plains, NY, USA
  • Fort Bragg, Fayetteville, NC, USA (just a couple of weeks, from what I'm told -- it was supposed to be longer, until my mother saw a mouse!)
  • Mount Vernon, NY, USA

Four TV Shows I Love to Watch:

  • Monk (Tony Shalhoub is yet another Man)
  • My Name Is Earl (small-screen Raising Arizona)
  • Half and Half (mostly to stare at Essence Atkins and Rachel True, I admit)
  • Caliente (outdoor Spanish-language Soul Train)

Four Places I’ve Been on Vacation:

  • Disney World
  • Myrtle Beach (SC)
  • Virginia Beach (VA)
  • Martha's Vineyard (MA)

Four of My Favorite Dishes:

  • Beef stroganoff
  • Corned beef
  • Lasagna
  • Stewed chicken (with curry)

Four Websites I Visit Daily:

Four Places I Would Rather Be Right Now:

  • Hawaii
  • Grand Canyon
  • Mount St. Helens (Washington State, US -- that is, if it's not about to erupt again)
  • US Virgin Islands

Last four CD's I bought:

  • Different Strokes by Different Folks, by Sly & the Family Stone with new music added by current stars (some great stuff here, and some stuff better left unlistened to)
  • Can You Dig It?: The Ultimate Isaac Hayes, by Isaac Hayes
  • Soundtrack from Shaft, by Isaac Hayes (I bought Can You Dig It specifically hoping that it would have the 19-minute-plus version of "Do Your Thing," where the musicians live up to the song's title. But it only had the three-minute radio version. The CD liner notes said the full-length song was on the Shaft soundtrack, so I went out and bought that the next day)
  • The Cosmic Game, by Thievery Corporation

Monday, March 20, 2006

Toccara (*sigh*)

I've been somewhat fascinated by the living media storm that is Toccara Jones, plus-sized also-ran from America's Next Top Model (I don't know what season, after a while they all run together -- the only one I really followed was the one that came down to Yoanna-vs-Mercedes-vs-Shandy, and I was rooting for Mercedes). Anyway, this article is about the media's various perspectives on America's increasing girth, and one of the touchstones used in the article is Toccara's run on "Celebrity Fit Club."

AlterNet: Weighing Reality

Still alive...

Just a note to let the two or three people following this blog know that I'm still alive, just having some, uh, motivation issues. I should be back into the swing of things shortly...

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

You gotta be spoofin' me (as my father might say)

There is now a service called SpoofTel, that actually allows you to spoof the number that shows up on caller ID when you call others' cell phone numbers. What's more, the link is actually in rotation in Google Mail's new Web Clips service (one line ads and news links XML'd to the top of the mail listings). The blurb on the site's front page claims that this allows users to protect their privacy while making cell phone calls. Um, excuse me, but how is this any different from spoofing email headers? What's to stop unscrupulous telemarketers (imagine that!) from getting hold of this, if they haven't already, and going to town with it? As it is, they already send little or no info with their calls. All they need now is some kind of way to send spyware into your cell phone so they'll know what trusted numbers to spoof? With all the info they buy already about each and every one of us, what's one more bunch of bytes? (And I hope there aren't any conspiracy theorists reading this -- be assured that if I've thought of it, someone with the money and means to see it through has already done so a thousand times over.)

And with all the fuss over perceived loss of privacy through GMail's targeted ads in user's browser windows alongside their mail, why would Google even want to be involved in this mess? How can this not make people less secure with Google's promises that they value their users' privacy?

Somebody didn't do a very good job of thinking things through here.

PS -- Not only did someone drop the ball when deciding to let SpoofTel's ads through, but when I used Blogger's spell-check on this post, the spell-checker didn't recognize Google, GMail, or XML. I had to tell the checker to "learn" those terms. When a company that lives and dies by the Internet makes a tool available to the public, a tool with an included spell-checker, I would think that said company would make sure that the checker recognizes the company's name and the names of its main services without having to be "told."

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

"Attack of the Mindnumbed Educators" by Thomas Segel

Someone is finally speaking out against the overzealous school administrators and teachers who go all out to "protect students' self-esteem" and wind up robbing them of learning important life lessons. I love the opening sentence:
Have those who are charged with the education of our children all been infected with some mind-numbing virus? To read reports coming in from schools around the country that would appear to be the case.

"Attack of the Mindnumbed Educators" by Thomas Segel

Tuesday, February 28, 2006


There's a special issue of Scientific American on the newsstands that features a series of articles on time. What is it, time travel, cultural ideas about time, and so on. One idea that seems to resonate throughout the first few articles is the idea that time does not "flow." That is, what we think of as the past and the future are subjective (relative) rather then objective (absolute). I can understand their arguments, but I can't sign on with them. My idea of time is, to paraphrase Matthew Broderick (said in character but I'm not sure who the character was), "Time is just... time just is." You get the feeling from the article that this is just yet another one of those instances where people spend much time, money, and ink of these ideas only because someone is willing to pay them to do so. Otherwise, they'd have to go out and get real jobs and stop arguing that "the passage of time is an illusion" (oh, so you're still being born?) or some such.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Price gouging because they can

Since I have a few chronic health conditions that require me to take medication daily, I'm very interested in medical developments and events that affect the prices and availability of medications. So sometime ago, when I got an email pointing out how medications that drugstores charge anywhere from 50c to $2 per pill contain fractions of a cent worth of medicine, it made me quite upset.

I'm fortunate enough to have insurance coverage from my government job, as well as secondary Medicare coverage since I'm an organ transplant recipient. But millions of people in this country don't have ANY health coverage, and millions of others don't have enough, forcing them to forgo needed medications in order to eat or to have a roof over their heads. And even those who have coverage are at risk of losing it when employers have to deal with escalating premiums due not only to fraud, but also to rising medication costs.

With the billions that the pharmaceutical companies make each year, this is uncalled for. Here is another blogger who agrees, telling her story.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Oddly Enough News Article | Reuters.com

A Danish website is courting controversy by contributing part of the proceeds from t-shirt sales to rebel groups in Colombia and Palestine. They actually even warn buyers that they should expect legal trouble because of antiterrorist legislation in the US and the European Union.

I guess this is what you could call "passive terrorism" -- incite trouble by buying a t-shirt.

Oddly Enough News Article Reuters.com

Friday, January 20, 2006

Wired News: She's Only 83? Cradle Robber!

The same guy who wrote the rude cell phone caller article at Wired (see above) has another article on the site entitled Wired News: She's Only 83? Cradle Robber! Interesting premise, but one thing I have to argue with.

There are already 6.5 billion people wandering around as you read this. Overpopulation is a severe problem in parts of the world (India, Bangladesh, the Upper East Side).

Some time ago writer P. J. O'Rourke pointed out that the net population density of Bangladesh is no more than that of Hayward, CA. Large numbers of people die each year in monsoon-related events in Bangladesh but that is because of the country's extremely low elevation -- its highest point is 660 feet above sea level -- not because of supposed overpopulation. If Bangladesh is overcrowded, then large sections of central and southern California need to be declared national disaster zones. Ditto Manhattan, while you're at it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

What's with all the Jessica Simpson mentions?

(or, no accounting for taste)

Anyone reading the previous post is probably wondering why there are so many mentions of Jessica Simpson and Britney Spears, and suspecting it might be no more than a crass play to get viewers. And to those cynics I have to admit that it did cross my mind this morning, even before I left home, that I could get more readers if I found a way to work those names into a post. But when I browsed on the MySpace site earlier today, and saw all the profiles belonging to members all claiming to be Jessica Simpson, I had to vent about it.

But one thing I did wonder this morning when I came up with the idea is, just what is it about Britney Spears that makes her such a popular online search subject? I mean, yeah, I think she's cute, and millions of other guys agree, and even some girls (and of course Madonna). And she does have at least a modicum of talent. But what is it about her that makes her so much more popular than Christina Aguilera? I happen to think that Christina is greatly more talented, at least as a singer. They both have some acting talent (and no, Britney Spears' acting talent is NOT acting like a singer). I suppose Britney's past romance with Justin Timberlake has something to do with it; after all, folks LOVED n*sync (I even found myself able to stand them, unlike most boy bands). Christina didn't really go public with whoever she was involved with, or maybe I just hadn't yet started wondering what it was about them (besides their looks) that made them It Girls.

I wish I knew what it was, so I could find someone else with It, get her (and it would HAVE to be a "her") to let me bottle Whatever-It-Is and sell it. We'd be rich. Of course, then the market would be flooded with Whatever-It-Is and it would soon become worthless, meaning no one would care about Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, and all the rest, because everyone would have whatever it is that makes the public so attentive to their every twitch and burp.

Myspace fakers

I was just browsing through MySpace.com for the first time in ages, and I can't help but notice the total lack of originality or even honesty in the so-called personal profiles.

I originally joined MySpace because someone posted a message at a Yahoo group I belong to in order to announce that he had started a group at MySpace regarding one of my many online interests (no need to dwell on that right now). I joined MySpace, joined the guy's group, posted some pics, and that was mainly that. I've visited Somaya Reece's MySpace page a few times; she's the model/actress whose site I posted a link to sometime back (and keep changing the postdate -- you'll see it's presently above this post today). But for the most part I didn't really browse the site.

Well, today I decided to browse the site. I have to admit, it wasn't so much that I was looking to make friends or anything like that; I prefer to do that face-to-face, or at least not on a site that's dedicated to such things. And I admit upfront that I was browsing mainly female members in the 18-to-40 age range, looking mainly for photos, because I do a bit of photomanipulation and wallpaper creation (OK, the Myspace group I had joined relates to, uh, photomanipulation. Nothing gross, but there it is). I couldn't help noticing that I was seeing the same profiles over and over again.

A good rule of thumb: if the member is a female, 18 to 25, with a fashion pic or glamour pic on her intro page, and her only listed friend is Tom, the company founder, and her site background has Britney Spears in the top lefthand corner, the profile pic is probably not really her.

I would think that the MySpace management would crack down on something like that, lest someone using the site with more serious intent (like networking) come to doubt how much value there is in it. MySpace has millions of members, but you'll see the same profile pics over and over again, and the same profiles over and over again. Some of them don't even bother to change the contact info in the About Me info they've swiped from elsewhere, which means they'll have conflicting contact info in their intro and their About Me section.

I was surprised to see how many celebrities have MySpace pages, but then, in light of all the copycatting, how can anyone be sure that the apparent celebrity behind any particular page is really who they purport to be? I saw what appears to be Jessica Simpson's site, and Ashlee's as well, and they seem to be on the up and up. There are many members claiming to be Jessica Simpson, but something about this one page in particular had me convinced that it might really be hers. But "Jessica" has Britney Spears listed as a friend, and I have some doubts, after looking at "Britney's" page, that the actual Britney Spears has anything to do with that site. She actually says, for example, that her birth name is "Britney Jean Spears Federline." Um, does that mean she was born married to Kevin? That would explain the need for annulling the 55-hour marriage to her old buddy Jason Alexander rather than getting a divorce. Or is Kevin Federline Britney's brother? (A redneck joke is brewing in my brain but I don't want to let it out here and now.) And I'm sure that if I'd done more looking, more silliness would have jumped out at me.

It's interesting also that "Jessica Simpson", an internationally known celebrity, has only about 10000+ friends, while one of her friends, a "supporting-actress" type from some show on one of the newer TV networks (I should have saved her name -- her site was listed under Myspace Music, and I *think* her name was Alex M) had over 100,000 friends. Would the real Jessica Simpson, assuming she really does have a MySpace site, really be trumped so badly by a newbie? So even the seemingly genuine Jessica Simpson page may be a fake, along with the myriad of obvious fakes. I mean, come on girls, how many sites would Jessica Simspon have anyway? Would she even be bothered to start an account with such a morass of fakery?

One of these days I'll fill out the rest of my profile, and maybe even personalize the layout of the site, but who uses MySpace to look for an over-the-hill type like me anyway?