Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year's!

Hope everyone is up to fun festiveness or a lazy ring-in of the new year, as suits personality and circumstances. Myself, I'm going with the torpor, accompanied by some nice wine and a movie. It's like a siren song.

See you in 2008!

Almost Ten Grand: A Steep, Steep Price to Pay for Richard Marx

The new frontier of the RIAA battle against music sharing: personal use.
Now, in an unusual case in which an Arizona recipient of an RIAA letter has fought back in court rather than write a check to avoid hefty legal fees, the industry is taking its argument against music sharing one step further: In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer.

The industry's lawyer in the case, Ira Schwartz, argues in a brief filed earlier this month that the MP3 files Howell made on his computer from legally bought CDs are "unauthorized copies" of copyrighted recordings.

"I couldn't believe it when I read that," says Ray Beckerman, a New York lawyer who represents six clients who have been sued by the RIAA. "The basic principle in the law is that you have to distribute actual physical copies to be guilty of violating copyright. But recently, the industry has been going around saying that even a personal copy on your computer is a violation."
Wow, you've got to admire that ambition.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

What I'm Doing on My Christmas Vacation: A Book Report

In addition to shopping the sales, eating way too much, trying some really lovely wines, anticipating using my new baking pans, and scraping bathroom woodwork, I picked up a stack of books from the library. Perusing through nonfiction in a vain attempt to locate the Omnivore's Dilemma, I picked up Sick, by Jonathan Cohn. I've read his healthcare-related articles before, and I've been impressed with his ability to distill complicated elements into a simpler, easier-to-understand larger picture.

So, I've been pretty steadily tearing through this book, which illustrates the myriad failures of our healthcare system, using examples of individuals for whom the system has failed. He also nicely provides historical context throughout, which gives a good background understanding without overwhelming the larger narrative or turning the book into an eye-popping treatise on the history of health policy in the United States.

It's depressing but illuminating reading. And from the Chicago perspective, it's quite enlightening to read about the strong-arm collection tactics of nonprofit Catholic hospitals, which seem to have bought out a lot of the remaining hospitals around here. You know what seems like a bad move from a PR perspective? A Catholic hospital suing a destitute former nun for unpaid hospital bills. Just one illustration of how we're living with the best healthcare system in the world, baby!

I should add, a point that he stresses throughout is that people with insurance tend to assume that there is a safety net available for the most needy (a perception shared and reinforced at high levels of government). This turns out not to necessarily be the case.

Good News for Those of You Coming to Stay with Me in the Near Future

I've clipped three claws on the cat! Seventeen more to go, and you'll be safe as houses from the scratching, at least.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

It Looks Like That Race for the Craziest GOP Advisors and Supporters Continues

A "designated surrogate" for the Giuliani campaign declared, on video:

He's [Guiliani's] got I believe the knowledge and the judgment to attack one of the most difficult problems in current history and that is the rise of the Muslims, and make no mistake about it, this hasn't happened for a thousand years. These people are very, very dedicated and they're also very smart, in their own way. We need to keep the feet to the fire and keep pressing these people until we defeat or chase them back to their caves -- or in other words get rid of them."

When asked later if he stood by his comments, he responded:

"I most assuredly do. I've been very concerned about this Muslim thing for quite awhile. The average American does not know beans about what the Muslims are about. I am talking about the Muslims in general. I don't subscribe to the principle that there are good Muslims and bad Muslims. They're all Muslims."

Deady added, "When I say get rid of them, I wasn't necessarily referring to genocide."

Well, I for one am glad he clarifed with the "not necessarily," aren't you?

Friday, December 28, 2007

What the Discriminating Feline Is Playing With This Holiday Season

Hours of amusement. Although, for some reason, any toy's coolness factor increases exponentially when it's provided by my mother.

It's Friday, It's Snowing, I'm Home, the Pandas Are Sleeping, I Have New Music

Yes, everybody is on vacation or otherwise engaged in pre-New Year's suspension of normal activities. I myself am pausing with coffee before launching on sundry cat-related errands (not all for mine, believe it or not; the catsit collective has many obligations and rewards). Anyway, it was with great anticipation that I queued up the random ten: what exciting goodies would turn up?

1. here comes the summer, the undertones
2. pitter patter goes my heart, broken social scene
3. love more than pride, laura lee
4. sometimes i remember, the pernice brothers
5. garageland, the clash
6. death valley ’69, sonic youth
7. moonage daydream, david bowie
8. being for the benefit of mr. kite, the beatles
9. warsaw, joy division
10. both have to pay, the mystery meat

More of a retro feel here, but trust me, I got all sorts of new music for Christmas.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Scenes from the Season

Opening of goodies, day the first.

Opening of goodies, day the second.

And a little something to display my photographic talents.

My god, we killed the dog. Possibly, if we toss her in with the used gift wrap, no one will notice.

Slightly Good News about Health Care, at Least in California

I'm sure Dick Cheney will have something to say about this (as he does everything, because he has self-provided godlike powers and infallible judgment, Hail Caesar) but a state court in California has recently put limits on health insurers' ability to cancel policies after policy holders get sick:

Health insurers can't wait until a policyholder is sick or injured to investigate the person's medical history and then abruptly cancel the policy on the grounds that important information was left out of the original application, a state appeals court has ruled.

On Monday, the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana called a halt to a practice that lawyers for policyholders claim is widespread. Known as "post-claims underwriting," it has led to numerous lawsuits - mostly unsuccessful so far - and state enforcement actions against insurers.

It doesn't go as far as it might, and the measure's a drop in the bucket given the systematic absuses, but still, this is good news. And yes, I did just watch Sicko.

I May Have to Bust Out a Can of Black-Eyed Peas This New Years

An ex's mother, being a Southern belle from Georgia, used to be really adamant about doing this.

What do black-eyed peas have to do with good luck and prosperity?

Everything or nothing, depending on what you believe.

According to Southern folklore, those who eat the little beige-with-a-black-spot legume on New Year's Day will have good luck the rest of the year.

She also firmly believed in not doing any housework on New Year's Day, because what a person did on that day represented what they would be doing the rest of the year.

Why not? I need some good karma this year.

Less Cuddly Side of Zoo Animals in California

A tiger at the San Francisco Zoo inexplicably escapes and mauls three people, killing one. Ewww, further details:
Police sources said a footprint had been found on a metal fence, suggesting that someone had climbed the fence to get closer to the big cats. Authorities were looking into whether the tiger escaped by latching on to a leg or body part.
Good god. Are people really that stupid?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Friday, December 21, 2007

More Holiday Miscellany: My Peops Are Important, Cool Places to Find Your Cards

When people tell you that they're related to Santa Claus, don't believe them. Unless these people making outrageous claims are related to me.

Nothing says the holidays like Santa plus the space race, as expressed in vintage Soviet Christmas cards. Thanks, Erik!
Now I'm really on my way out of here. Happy Holidays. Peace around.
Laura, taking the express lanes to Michigan.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Did Someone Say Feats of Strength?

Little-seen footage of Toby back when he had larger sideburns.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Festivus for the Rest of Us

This is for Toby.

'Tis the First Day of Christmas!

Last workday until January! Woo!

1. sound of silver, lcd soundsystem
2. all i could do was cry, etta james
3. like eating glass, bloc party
4. identity, x-ray spex
5. loving you could never be better, george jones
6. shotgun, southern culture on the skids
7. auf achse, franz ferdinand
8. poor skeleton steps out, xtc
9. compliments, bloc party (duplicates! but it's bloc party, so i forgive)
10. the gash, the flaming lips

See? I have other stuff in there.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I Know This Is Like Shooting Fish in a Barrel

But more wisdom from Rush Limbaugh, by way of incisive political analysis. Lots of people think it, but a few brave souls have the courage to say it out loud. Regarding Hillary Clinton:
There is this thing in this country that, as you age -- and this is particularly, you know, women are hardest hit on this, and particularly in Hollywood -- America loses interest in you, and we know this is true because we constantly hear from aging actresses, who lament that they can't get decent roles anymore, other than in supporting roles that will not lead to any direct impact, yay or nay, in the box office...

We know that the presidency ages the occupants of that office rapidly... But men aging makes them look more authoritative, accomplished, distinguished.

Sadly, it's not that way for women, and they will tell you... Look at all of the evidence. I mean, I've just barely scratched the surface with some of the evidence, and so: Will Americans want to watch a woman get older before their eyes on a daily basis?

My god, no. I don't even want to watch myself age. My plan is to spare us all and start wearing a hood once I hit 45.

Hey, I Spoke Too Soon!

What can't you find on youtube, I ask you? And, bonus: My favorite, Blue/s Forms!

UPDATE: Alas, she doesn't play the last movement, which is the best part.

Something for the Holiday Gift List

Genius, people. Genius.

Monday, December 17, 2007

This Here's a Holiday Classic for a Reason

One of my coworkers reverently brings this up every year. Then he cackles like mad, until we think he's having a coronary.

I Need to Not Read Newspapers

In this subprime meltdown, we totally have to feel the pain of the lenders ("predatory," so you say) who were so so abused in this whole process.
The troubles arose because banks and finance firms offered mortgages to millions of people who, despite their imperfect credit histories, yearned to buy homes. The loans generally start out with a low interest rate that, after a couple of years, rises substantially. Some home buyers now discover that the reset payments are more than they can handle. On top of that, falling real estate prices mean some can't recoup by selling, because the home is now worth less than the mortgage.

This spectacle has brought forth recriminations from politicians who picture the lenders as James Bond villains, cackling at the chance to toss hard-working families out on the street. In fact, this course is almost as bad a deal for lenders as it is for borrowers. They typically lose up to half the value of the mortgage on foreclosures.
Those poor lenders, helplessly exploited by those greedy, stupid people, who with the power of yearning, were able to secure precarious loans.
It's true that if lenders have committed fraud with phony information about their loans, they deserve to be separated from their ill-gotten gains. At the same time, honest ones shouldn't be punished for offering creative terms just because the loans sometimes go bad.
Punishment for creativity is indeed unfair. If only people appreciated true innovation, we wouldn't have any of this hand-wringing for borrowers, living on the streets as they may end up doing. Priorities, people.

I Knew There Was a Reason I Didn't Like That Guy

Lieberman endorses McCain. Pampered Pols Who Support All War All the Time, Unite!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Hippo Birdie

To me. Whee! To celebrate, a song I really like.

And I got this song from someone to mark the occasion:

And this one, just because.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

I Wonder if She Knows The Vet Who Wanted Me to Bring the Cat in for Weekly Weigh-Ins?

As a part of my action-packed birthday-centered festivities, I went to the dentist this morning. And, despite my decay-resistant teeth and good flossing habits, she found something.

I have uneven tongue calluses, for which I am to visit an oral surgeon. Mistaking my look of incredulity for one of concern, she rushed to assure me that it was not something urgent. Thank god. I can sleep now.

I just knew she wasn't going to live up to the standards of my dude who retired.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Last Working Friday Until 2008!

One of the many benefits to where I work, apart from the Crab Rangoon, is a good vacation and time-off policy. And now, for my high-energy, my iPod-is-obviously-equally-enthused-about- the-time-off-work random ten.

1. of angels and angles, the decemberists
2. staring at the sun, tv on the radio
3. sticky sue, mickey murray
4. heavy metal, clap your hands say yeah
5. she's a sensation, the ramones
6. my my metrocard, le tigre
7. (i got a) catholic block, sonic youth
8. waiting for the universe, pernice brothers
9. the sporting life, the decemberists (but of course!)
10. me and the major, belle and sebastian

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Four Separate Bars, I Tell You!

Things we may or may not be
doing at the holiday office party.

I have it on good authority that the office holiday party I will be attending today will have a fantastic spread including, but not limited to, a Tex-Mex bar, a Thai bar, Crab Rangoon, and a dessert station with fondue. There will also be imported and domestic beers, wine, and champagne.

Now to just avoid a repeat of last year's spectacle whereby, in front of the boss's boss, I got the tights of one leg caught on the zipper of my other boot. After almost landing on my face when I tried to walk away, I tried unsuccessfully for many minutes to free myself. My friend M had to do emergency rescue, which I'm sure looked . . . interesting, as she was bent over my legs and we were both laughing hysterically. And this is why I'm on the career fast track.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Another Minion Playlet in One Scene

My friends, picture, if you will, your humble blogger slogging away at her mountain of work and past-due projects. Further picture that, for its first time in 15 years (obviously, since long before her arrival), she single-handedly gets her main product on schedule, by doing more than twice the normal amount of work this year. Impressive, isn't it? And, to add emotional depth and the proper sense of triumph to this moment, I give you another fictionalized minion playlet.

Scene: office. Various office minions (OM), the uber muckety-muck (UMM), and quasi-muckety-mucks (QMM) gather to talk.

OM1 (to QMM): So, I wanted to let you know that I just sent out X, Y, Z, and am getting A, B, and C from Dr. Whosit. These things will all ship out at the end of the month, and as soon as I get A, B, C to OutSource U, we'll be set. Everything done, on time, like clockwork for 2008, and the back log gone. Woo!

QMM: This is fantastic! That's wonderful! Good for you! We need to celebrate! Hey [UMM], did you hear this?

[Meanwhile, UMM is in conversation with OM2, at the other end of the room.]

UMM: Wow, [OM2], that's great how you did that performance on your free time. I wasn't aware that you did interpretive dancing. Hope next time more people than just me and QMM will show. Thanks so much for inviting me! Um, did everyone else know about it?

OM2: Ohhhh, I told the important people. Thank you for coming! [fits of giggling] Have I mentioned I love your outfit?

[QMM gestures UMM over to his conversation.]

QMM: Hey, OM1 just hit her targets, and sent out the last thing today!

UMM: That's my girl! [high fives OM1] We'll going to hijack the office-wide holiday party to celebrate this.

[OM2 scowls.]

End scene.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Toby's Passed-Along Observed Principle Holds True

You know how those stupid ads online just clutter your screen and taunt you, and you ignore them? While surfing merrily along, I saw an ad with this picture:
I chuckled to myself, thinking "ooooh, kitty!" And reflexively, I clicked the accompanying ad. Thus proving this:

Don't Make Me Bust This out Again.

The holidays should be all happy and shit, right? Is it too soon to expect some of that jolly?

Hello Kitty Writing Implements Part II: In Which I Am Outsmarted

I picked up a Badtz Maru pen I bought, which I had previously used, and proceeded to write out a post-it note. Lo, to my confusion, I realized I had inexplicably bought a pencil and not noticed it. But wait! Closer inspection confirmed that it is both a pen and a pencil. Fiendishly clever!

Aren't you glad to be tuned into the minutiae of my life? Shall I go on about these new socks I bought?

But hey, look at this, you can buy a Badtz Maru bass guitar!

Monday, December 10, 2007

I'm Told, By Reliable Sources

That the cheese and caramel "mix" of this is the way to go. I've always been a fan of caramel, but good to know. Also, another reason to visit me. Hint.

Disappointment Is

Not being able to find any more colored, scented Hello Kitty pens (specifically, Batz Maru) for fun, ironic, editing purposes. Then, finding out that the pens you bought instead are like trying to write with a leaky highlighter.

Am I asking too much?

Signs You're (Okay, I'm) Getting Older

When I was little, I loved the Police. Synchronicity spoke to me, and I whiled away long hours plugged into the stereo system, listening to it on headphones. It goes without saying that in my preadolescent haze I thought Sting was all kinds of dreaminess. He would marry me one day!

So, having Lynette point out that Sting not only has progeny,

but adult musician progeny, kind of was a little depressing to hear. I mean, look at that. Spitting image, or what?

Saturday, December 8, 2007

A Summary of Old Grey Whistle Test, Volume 3

Lots of guitar rock, accompanied by fur vests.

UPDATE: Plus The Jam!!

A Thought on Product Purchase

A point of much family contention is that, as a child, I was sorely deprived of my own legos. Yes, I was forced to play with my brother's, until my mother finally found the proper girl-themed set--a bathroom (my mother swears it was pink legos, but I do submit to you that the bathroom set is emblazoned, for obvious reason, on my memory).

A day of shopping at ground-zero for commerce, however, brought us to the Lego Store (cool!), where there were many many fun-looking sets. Of course, there was snark about the need for us to locate the pink legos.

I would like to suggest that girl children (dancing or otherwise) do not actually need this, per seBut can, like boys, have a lot of fun with this:

Friday, December 7, 2007

Friday Random Ten, Needy-Needy Themed

1. giddy stratospheres, the long blondes
2. then you left me, the bee gees
3. hold me my daddy, xtc
4. brothers on a hotel bed, death cab for cutie
5. fake palindromes, andrew bird
6. two-headed boy part 2, neutral milk hotel
7. separated by motorways, the long blondes (sigh.)
8. i cried last night, junior kimbrough
9. the morning after baby let me down, loretta lynn
10. some mother's son, the kinks

Happy Friday, everybody! Hope you too will be having excessive amounts of fun experiencing holiday commerce. While holiday sales have increased for big retailers this year, it's the smallest increase in five years. Do your part, people. For America.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

And Here I Am Thinking I'm At Least an Original Cubicle Monkey

The latest craze sweeping the nation? Office bingo. Well, not really, but my version features said monkeys' predictable behavior. The woman running for the free food in the lobby? Square. One square for the esoteric subject-specialist discussions and assorted geekery. And of course displays of martyrdom get a square.

Fun fun fun, plus drinks for the winners. Because we need them.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

While We're Checking All the Toys This Christmas, How About We Add More to the List?

I saw this bit of cheery news while I was on the bus. A recent report says that the FDA is critically underfunded. Among the "plethora of inadequacies":
•Inadequate inspections of manufacturers, noting that foodmakers, for example, are inspected about once every 10 years.
•A "badly broken" food-import system and food supply "that grows riskier each year." In the past 35 years, FDA inspections of the food supply have dropped 78% due to soaring numbers of products and inadequate FDA funding.
•A depleted FDA staff, which is about the same size as it was 15 years ago despite huge growth in agency responsibilities. Instead of being proactive, the agency is often in "fire-fighting" mode.
•A workforce with a "dearth" of scientists who understand emerging technologies. Turnover rates in some scientific positions at the FDA run twice that of other government agencies.
•An "obsolete" information-technology system.
In case you weren't picking up on the general theme here:
William Hubbard, a former FDA associate commissioner who supports the Coalition for a Stronger FDA, says the report stands out because of the "intensity of the feelings" expressed by the subcommittee.

"These people were horrified by what they found," he says. While the subcommittee was supposed to look ahead to where the FDA needs to be, Hubbard says it came away concluding that "it cannot even do its job now."

Sundry Holiday-Themed Notables

Though I check sometimes hourly for updates (as I'm sure you do too), I love this.

And for a really catchy holiday tune, go here, to the second mp3 on the page (Mike Viola).

FURTHER: If you listen to the above, a debate has ensued. Is the narrator a creepy, possibly violent stalker, or is he a loveable goof whom she obviously misses, hence why she's crying?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

You Know What I Love?

When it takes me 2 hours to get home from work. I love public transit sometimes, really. Plus, more snow. Can you tell I'm having a bad week?

But, wow, I see that people in the Baltimore-Washington area are getting snow too! Some people are going to be pleased, I suspect. I hope you enjoy your time off when the city shuts down. Heh.

Between Bouts of Bafflingly Odd Questions and Being Left on Hold While The Person Who Called Me Bitches in the Background About My Unreasonable Demand

This is hilarious. Pet solidarity, man.

Man Finally Put in Charge of Ailing Feminist Movement

This should have been done years ago:

"It's about time," McGowan said upon returning from a golf game with several "network honchos" in which he brokered a deal to bring a variety of women's sports to prime-time television. "These ladies should have brought me on years ago."

McGowan claimed that one of the main reasons the movement enjoyed so little success in the past was that the previous management was often too timid and passive and should have been much more results-focused.

"You can't waste time pussyfooting around with protests and getting all emotional about a bunch of irrelevant details," McGowan said. "If you want to enjoy equal rights, you have to have a real man-to-man chat with the people in charge until you can hammer out some more equitable custody laws."

"And don't get me started on how disorganized and scatterbrained their old fundraising methods were," McGowan added. "Let's just say the movement never really had a head for numbers."

Monday, December 3, 2007

Dancing Genius? Quite Possibly.

I hear that in spite of setbacks and tears of co-performers, she insisted that the show go on.

Heroes: "And You and Linderman Wanted to End the World. Doesn't Sound Like You've Changed Much, Mom"

If only I had a dollar for the number of times my mother and I have had this exact conversation.

"Adam is my friend! We're destroying the virus." Yeah, you just keep believing that, Peter. When Maya is lapping you on deductive reasoning, it is time to reassess.

How much do I love Hiro, though? And Nathan? Notwithstanding his horrible hair. Really, he needs a haircut. And Parkman doing his crazy power, craning his neck and all? He looks like an idiot.

For obvious reasons, one cannot take as a given that a dead hero is really a dead hero. But Niki surely seems to be gone.

I can't handle the hanging in space until we may or may not get back to our Heroes storyline, though. I support the writers, but this is all just too difficult for me personally. Does no one factor in my feelings?

Shit, I was distracted. Who was buried alive? And further shit, speaking of no one caring about my feelings, what the hell! Not Nathan! NO, NOT NATHAN! I have nothing to watch for now.

Signs of Winter

Remarked my friend K:

You know it's cold when cta [Chicago Transit Authority] workers have to salt the urine in the turnstyles and on the platform.

And my personal observation of today as I stomped into work and caught my reflection in a building: when I pull out ye olde vintage coats as I'm wont to, and behat and bescarf, I'm looking about 1 dalmation-puppy stole away from being Cruella Deville.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Sunday Gospel, What I'm Working on These Days

I'm researching for a web piece on these guys, the Soul Stirrers. They influenced the creation of soul music, friends. Good good stuff.

Good Question. What Does Santa Bring You When You've Been Good, But the World Has Been Bad?

Membership in the Michigan Militia? A Unabomber hooded sweatershirt? No, silly, a sleek and lovely 50,000-volt taser.

Perhaps I'm overreacting. A Taser could make a fun fun Christmas gift, especially the pink one. And a U.K. study shows they're "unlikely to harm human hearts"!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Depiction of the Despair Detailed Below

Send Help.

It is an ice storm outside, and there's a pledge drive on PBS. And I am out of wine.

See, This Is Why I Hate Winter with a Fiery Passion

I have to shovel!

Friday, November 30, 2007

In Honor of a Charter Member of the Catsit Collective

1. don't forget to remember, the bee gees
2. next exit, interpol
3. one more robot/sympathy 300-21, the flaming lips
4. big tall man, liz phair
5. mellotron 1, the apples in stereo (how ya been, dudes?)
6. i love livin in the city, fear
7. rock 'n roll high school, the ramones
8. she'll come back to me, cake
9. true, the frames
10. all the young dudes, david bowie

Known for her photographic and Photoshop ominpresence, her craft collaborations, her equinamity in the face of endless tactile stimulation, and her love of fish, Ms. Girl was a charter member (and frankly, highlight) of the Bungalowville Catsit Collective. She will be sorely missed.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Jesus, This Tasing Is Getting out of Hand

A pregnant woman was tasered by a policeman because she was "unco-operative":

The woman went to the police department on Nov. 18 to ask officers to take custody of her one-year-old son, said Michael Etter, Trotwood’s public safety director.

The woman told the officer she was “tired of playing games” with the baby’s father, Etter said.

The woman refused to answer questions, became frustrated and tried to leave with the child, Etter said. The officer feared allowing her to leave could jeopardize the child and he decided to detain her to get more information.

He said the officer grabbed the woman, got the child away from her and forced her to the ground. When she resisted being handcuffed and tried to get away, the officer used the stun gun on her, Etter said.
It seems that the range of acceptable use for these things is expanding:
"You can use it before you would have to use the revolver," asserts Rick Smith, CEO of TASER International. "If you have someone who has a knife, who is threatening other people but isn't quite at the level where you'd use lethal force, you'd pre-empt with the TASER, get them safely under control before it escalates."
Ensuring "cooperation," of course, is not the same as subduing a threat. And the perception that tasers as "nonlethal" weapons (actually, there have been many deaths) seems to lead to their expanded use, as some sort of consequence-free shortcut to ensure obedience. (Remember, if you will, the heckler who was tasered, repeatedly, at a John Kerry speech.)

Keeping apace with the mainstreaming of torture, I guess.

UPDATE: In a similar vein.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Where Efficiency Goes to Die

Scene: a busy office, bustling with multitasking people. The holidays are approaching, necessitating coordination of gift basket deliveries, thank-you-for-your-support gizmos and doodads emblazoned with logos, and appropriately non-holiday-specific seasonal cards.

Office Minion 1 (hovering in doorway of OM2, with card and envelope in hand): So, these cards need to be mailed out?
OM2: Yes. They're holiday cards.
OM1: When do they need to go out?
OM2: Well, they're holiday cards. It's almost December. Soonest best, and all that.
OM1 (holding envelope up, facing forward): So, there's not any return address on these? You don't want a return address? [gestures to illustrate for OM2 the blank corner of the envelope]
OM2: It's on the back flap, facing you. You're looking right at it.
OM1: Oh.

End scene.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Get a Vocabulary Word Right, Donate Rice

Here. Some of this stuff is just mean, though.

Polls Don't Mean Anything, Polls Don't Mean Anything, Polls Don't Mean Anything

And my fellow Americans, I do submit that we are, as a people, hopeless morons. Hillary Clinton loses in theoretical matchups against all five Republican frontrunners.

Honestly, what does it take? How can a chimp, a food product, lint not poll better than these guys?

Obama and Edwards fare better, and other polls show her doing better, but still.

After that Jitterbug, Mom and Dad

You might think about the Wii. Apparently, it's big with the seniors.

I Am a Soup-Improvising Goddess

I have created a most excellent, fast, vegetarian soup, the recipe for which I will share, because you all seem trustworthy.

Start with this base, canned, or your own, to make about 4 cups of liquid. Toss in whatever random veggies you have in the fridge (I used onions, some garlic, carrots, celery, potatoes, corn, and peas, but you can use squash or greens or any sort, as well; the less starchy the better and more vitamin-packed). Add a teaspoon or so each of thyme, basil, and dill, some salt, and pepper. Simmer for about 20 minutes, until all the veggies are soft. Deelish.

Also, for the spices in general (and vanilla in particular), I can't recommend this place enough.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Heroes: The "Everyone Is Being Played By Someone Else" Episode

Possibly this is the low-grade fever talking (sorry for any viruses I may have spread at Thanksgiving; alternatively, if any of you passed this along to me, for shame; I love you, but you people are like kryptonite to my normally impenetrable immune system), but I'm at irritation saturation point with the stupidity.

Can we put Maya out of our misery? Please? I don't think she can get more stupid and gullible. Ditto with Suresh ("You promised me...!"). Do we care if Caitlyn ever gets back from the future, bad accent and all? No? And Peter: get with the freaking program and start fighting the good fight already.

What I just noticed, though: the ticking when Sylar was on the screen, like a watch or clock.

This Does Seem Like a More Pro-Market, Consumer-Empowering Way of Going About Things

It is suggested that parents and grandparents (and presumably, auntly sorts) check those Christmas toys before purchase:
Parents who don’t take precautions in purchasing presents this year could end up buying the item that kills a child or grandchild, some experts in the field warn.

Christiana Mercer, an advocate with the Arizona Public Interest Research Group, demonstrated various toys that can poison, choke or otherwise cause problems. Mercer, along with Rustin Morse, chief of emergency at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, said while some of the hazards are obvious, many are not.

No pressure. I feel prepared to conduct painstaking tests, don't you? But, of course, Bob is kind of busy, so we have to pitch in where we can:
“There’s only one tester in its labs right now for toys,’’ she said. And Mercer said the federal government has only 15 people who have to go through all of the millions of toys that are imported each year to spot potential hazards.
And in other related news, Aqua Dots have been advertised in Sunday circulars. Whoops.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Oh, I Forgot to Ask

Is anyone watching Project Runway?

Home Again, Home Again

Was it just me, or did that holiday fly by? Also, how did I get so old, and when did these young whippersnappers grow up and develop iron alcohol constitutions?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Revise Your Expectations of Privacy Downward Accordingly

Via, if you have a cellphone, your location can be tracked by law enforcement, minus probable cause. Oh goody.
Since 2005, federal magistrate judges in at least 17 cases have denied federal requests for the less-precise cellphone tracking data absent a demonstration of probable cause that a crime is being committed. Some went out of their way to issue published opinions in these otherwise sealed cases.

"Permitting surreptitious conversion of a cellphone into a tracking device without probable cause raises serious Fourth Amendment concerns especially when the phone is in a house or other place where privacy is reasonably expected," said Judge Stephen William Smith of the Southern District of Texas, whose 2005 opinion on the matter was among the first published.

But judges in a majority of districts have ruled otherwise on this issue, Boyd said. Shortly after Smith issued his decision, a magistrate judge in the same district approved a federal request for cell-tower data without requiring probable cause. And in December 2005, Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein of the Southern District of New York, approving a request for cell-site data, wrote that because the government did not install the "tracking device" and the user chose to carry the phone and permit transmission of its information to a carrier, no warrant was needed.

And tracking us may get even easier in future:

The trend's secrecy is troubling, privacy advocates said. No government body tracks the number of cellphone location orders sought or obtained. Congressional oversight in this area is lacking, they said. And precise location data will be easier to get if the Federal Communication Commission adopts a Justice Department proposal to make the most detailed GPS data available automatically.

The fourth amendment is just so pre-Internet age.

Hope You're All Having As Much Fun As We Are

Friday, November 23, 2007

Once Upon a Time, I Sat with the Marching Band, Watching My High School Team Blow Another Football Game

And now, many years later, my high school is in the state championships; being shown on cable! Awwwww.

UPDATE: Alas, they lost. There is no joy here in the cornfields tonight.

The History of LOL Cats


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope you all enjoy your holiday! As this is the official end of my week, I'm doing a random ten to mark the occasion.

1. that teenage feeling, neko case
2. gronlandic edit, of montreal
3. stay loose, belle and sebastian
4. we were born the mutants again with leafling, of montreal
5. heaven, squeeze
6. it's only divine right, the new pornographers
7. some loud thunder, clap your hands say yeah
8. sunset soon forgotten, iron & wine
9. subject drop, pernice brothers
10. i missed the point, neko case

As you can no doubt see, I changed settings to ensure that there would be less likelihood of repeat artists and albums. This is becoming my white whale.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Great Couples in Acting History

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Ice-T and CoCo.

Someone needs to push a stake through this SVU show.

Long-Winded, Untimely Pontificating on TV Fare, Oprah, and My Squeamish Fixation on the Upside of Harems

I see in the news that polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs has been sentenced as an accomplice to the rape of a 14-year-old girl, which reminds me of a long-winded piece I wrote but didn't post. Lucky you!

I’m much too cheap for cable. My rationale is that PBS is essentially cable on a really small, time-segmented scale. So the way I watch any cable series is usually way later than everyone else when I get it via Netflix or through loans from other people.

Which brings me to what I’m currently plowing through: Big Love (note to self: put season 2 in the queue). You say you had this discussion a year ago, or whenever the show came out? Sorry, I unilaterally declare it current and topical.

For those who don’t know, which I suspect is no one, the show depicts a family in Utah, living clandestinely, because they consist of a man with his three wives (and their various children). I confess that I’m sucked into this show, although it makes me uncomfortable that I’m sucked in and that I’m cheering for the characters. This is quickly followed by a feeling that I’m playing a willing cog in normalizing a broader narrative, similar to how anti-choice groups are now broadening their focus to a soothing and unalarming opposition to birth control. I know, I’m overthinking. Does watching the Sopranos mean that people are suddenly going to decide that maybe they’ve misjudged organized crime? Of course not. And I’m against censoring of any artistic work.

Let me state that as a principle, I don’t judge how consenting people want to set up their families. Polyamory (it’s pretty telling that the spellcheck on my word processor doesn’t recognize that as a word) is not necessarily a bad thing--I know of people who make it work for them. But you have to consider history and current context because people don’t act in a vacuum, without societal pressures, disincentives, or power asymmetries.

The history of polygamy in the United States isn’t discussed much because the LDS, frankly, don’t want to remind people of this chapter of their history (for a history and overview of Mormonism and the origins of Mormon fundamentalism and its controversial practices, I highly recommend this book). Current practitioners of polygamy, e.g., fundamentalist Mormon sects, are shunned by the mainline church, and for good PR reasons. The combination of certainty of divine direction, power struggles over who is to be arbiters of that divine direction, the view of women as commodities to be acquired, traded, and bestowed upon men (often when they are young teenagers), and the resultant gender imbalances, which mean that young boys often are driven out of the community to reduce competition for wives, all make for very dysfunctional and unjust societies, particularly for the women. In contrast, Big Love presents a loving, egalitarian view of polygamy (although, to its credit, it also presents the dark side, as represented by the complex and isolated community of the Compound).

Tied into that history of polygamy, of course, is the continuing disparity of power between men and women in this country. Much has changed, of course, since the 1970s, but, still, women are, for example, predominantly carrying the load of childrearing and housework, still making less money than men, and still perceived as less capable than men in professional settings in virtually every metric, across cultures.

Given this reality, polygamy default sets women up in an unequal dynamic. The show tries hard to underscore that these individuals are all married to each other, but unless the women are sleeping with each other, that really isn't so. I think the extremist sects are the norm rather than the exception on how it's practiced in the real world. And to have people, for example, see polygamists on Oprah and think, hmmm, people like us, maybe we're unfairly judging it, seems like a bit of cultural backsliding.

Okay, now the family is spared this at Thanksgiving, during which we can move on to talking about what happens next to Bill et al. (Don’t you love Barb? Aren’t the older kids just fabulously perfect, and doesn't that creep you out?)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Yes, I Read Beowulf in the Old English. Why Do You Ask?

I'm finding the concept of Beowulf, the movie, completely baffling. I'm not alone. (Turns out, there's more than one film, and they pretty much all suck.)

But the part that I'm really trying to get my head around is where Grendel's mother (a monster and all) is played by Angelina Jolie.

Look! She's even wearing monster-issue high heels.

Heroes, The Attitudinous Teenager Edition

Am I an ends-justify-the-means Cheneyite because I'm on Noah's side? Is it terrible I was to shake Claire and shout, "Yes, he did it! Sometimes you have to scramble a few eggs to make an omelet. Now stop pouting and get in that car so that the family can disappear into another state"?

Oh, Hiro. His story was touching. But Toby called it.

Surresh is officially evil.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I Swear I'm Going to Stop at Any Moment

The 25 most baffling toys from around the world. Poop toys? Sweet merciful Jesus. Via.

NOTE: The above-pictured bears, it turns out, are collectors' items rather than toys. Still, the poop toys are all for the kiddies.

Where Parodies Intersect with Reality

The Predatory Lending Association, shrugging off all that negativity of the word "predatory" (our national symbol the bald eagle is a predator!), offers a handy website:
The Predatory Lending Association (PLA) is dedicated to extracting maximum profit from the working poor by increasing payday loan fees and debt traps. The working poor is an exciting, fast growing demographic that includes: military personnel, most minorities, and a growing percentage of the middle class.

Also includes finding aids to help aspiring payday loan entrepreneurs find poor people, vulnerable military personnel, and minorities. Plus: a handy table comparing predatory lending to indentured servitude (hint: indentured servitude was "not customer service oriented"). Come join this growing sector of the economy!

Via MENSA member Lynette.

Want Some Soul and Funk to Provide a Soundtrack for that Leaf Raking You've Been Putting Off?

Then go here. Groovlicious.

A Note on Museum Etiquette

Don't kiss the paintings, no matter how personally moving or transcendent you find them.
A woman who kissed a £1.37m painting, leaving a lipstick stain, has been ordered to pay 1,500 euros (£1,074) in damages to its owner by a French judge.
. . . .
Restorers have been unable to remove the lipstick and have unsuccessfully used 30 products to get rid of the stain.

At her trial in October, Ms Sam said the kiss was an act of devotion to the work of art. "I just gave it a kiss. It was an act of love, when I kissed it, I wasn't thinking. I thought the artist would understand," she said.

But Agnes Tricoire, lawyer for the picture's owner, said the kiss was "as aggressive as a punch," causing damage that was just as hard to restore. "I do not share the same vision of love. For me love requires the consent of both sides," she said

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I'm Erudite and Shit!

cash advance

Get a Cash Advance

I was aiming for postgrad, but we are what we are, right?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Like Yoga?

Try facial yoga! But who knew it was as perilous as the body kind:
While stretching may tighten tired faces, dermatologists warn that good form is key. "If someone were doing a bizarre contortion, they could spasm. They might actually cause permanent damage," says Dr. Min-Wei Christine Lee, director of the East Bay Laser and Skincare Center in Walnut Creek, Calif.

Ho Ho Ho, Indeed

Here's your weirdo international news for the day:
Santas in Australia's largest city have been told not to use Father Christmas's traditional "ho ho ho" greeting because it may be offensive to women, it was reported Thursday.

Sydney's Santa Clauses have instead been instructed to say "ha ha ha" instead, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Now I Feel Cool

You know what's fun about my job? Writing "what I'm listening to" "what I'm reading" items, in manner of a book store, and pontificating on the virtues of one's chosen items. What must the entire world know about and why?

Oh, iTunes, Why Do You Vex Me So?

Happy Friday, all! We are just days away from Thanksgiving festivities, and lots and lots of food. Yay. My random ten. Queue it up yourself, if you're so inclined, even surreptitiously, if you fear scorn of your musical tastes (remember: I have the BeeGees, so no scorn here).

1. tainted love, soft cell
2. the fake headlines, new pornographers
3. this is england, the clash
4. give me another chance, big star
5. mushaboom, feist
6. my life is right, big star
7. better version of me, fiona apple
8. mellotron 2, apples in stereo (of course!)
9. i can't feel you anymore, loretta lynn
10. the other woman, loretta lynn (oh good grief)

bonus #11, because I'm trying to get something to come up different: pisshole in the snow, pernice brothers (the most beautiful song ever written about urine)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

In My Day, While We Were Slogging to School Uphill, Both Ways, Through 5-Foot Drifts

We knew about three different kinds of dinosaurs, and we liked it. A scientist recently unveiled a new discovery:
Nigersaurus sported an almost perfectly squared-off jaw lined with 128 uniform front teeth, the only kind of teeth it had. When the creature closed its mouth, the rows would have joined perfectly to snip plants that the dinosaur ate.

"In modern mammals, when you see broad muzzles, you know that they are animals are grazers that eat grass, like cattle," said Sereno. "When they have narrow, pointy snouts, you know they are browsers, animals that feed on leaves and bark they pull from trees and bushes, like giraffes.

"This thing was a Mesozoic cow."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

News Feeds Are Fun!

SeƱor Crazy Pants, the judge who sued his dry cleaner for $50 million for losing his trousers, was not reappointed. Let's all silently mourn the judicial loss.

Public Service Announcement, Silver Tsunami Edition

A gentle reminder: despite what you may hear, Social Security is not actually in crisis, notwithstanding the cresting wave of aging baby boomers (savor that image). A helpful chart on entitlement costs over time. Show your friends. (From here.)

As If You Need Another Reason to Visit My Corner of the Universe

Sock monkey capital of the world!

Union-Busting the NLRB Way!

The busy little elves at the National Labor Relations Board, making lots and lots of rules before they lose the GOP majority.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

On Another Note: Crap

I have Ken Burns hair. It's hopeless. Shoot me now.

But, Then, I Couldn't Get Properly Outraged over the Lying in the Lewinsky Scandal, Either

Am I the last to hear about this Hillary Clinton question-planting fracas? A friend brought it to my attention in view of my recent blathering on the Maid-Rite kerfuffle, figuring I'd be fired up with opinions and stuff, which of course, I am. To be honest, I'm not even certain how much of an impact this incident and the ensuing press coverage is having on the big picture, because I've not seen how much and how broadly this is being discussed.

Because these conversations always make me sound like some rabid partisan, I will start with the standard hand waving: I'm no fan of Hillary Clinton. She's a centrist opportunist whose reflexive "tough" stances and administration-enabling make me weep. I'm so so so hoping she doesn't win. Obama, Obama, Obama.

But it's her substance that I take issue with. I want to know what she's going to do if elected. Is she going to invade Iran? Will she push for universal healthcare? The rest of this crap--oh, I mean press coverage--is playing gotcha to illustrate some vague concept of "character." I don't care if she tips well, I don't care if she's mean for giving away her cat, I don't care if she and Bill don't sleep together, I don't care if she pays too much for a haircut. Between these discussions and the press coverage of the meta story of the race itself, we end up learning nothing relevant about any of the candidates.

And as a principle, and in this context, I really don't see what's so objectionable. Sometimes campaign appearances are structured, with set questions, sometimes they're audience driven, almost always they're controlled at some level. The Clinton campaign declared beforehand that the questions were spontaneous, and at least one wasn't. Maybe Clinton knew about it, maybe her staff were overzealous. Of course it was deceptive, and silly to do. But the gain from such optical manipulations just don't seem extraordinary. if the goal is puff questions that make a candidate seem warm and approachable and smooth, it tells nothing of their policies and proposals. And having someone ask "hey, what's your position on global warming? It matters to me" merely lets the candidate tee off on what their policies would be. If a Republican did the same, I'd say, so?

In contrast, someone actually in elected office evading accountability or attempting some Soviet-style propaganda? Problematic.

UPDATE:, on the fake campaign trail.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Heroes: Where I Hereby Proclaim, As a Fan of Veronica Mars

That I'm ready to smack Kristen Bell's character from here until next season. Goddamn, is she irritating.

I think we just saw Mama Petrelli's power. And I'm not talking about her ability to turn around and stab her offspring in the back (metaphorically speaking, of course).

The twins. . . . Oh, I'm sorry. I fell asleep there. What's happening to them again? Oh, yes. Black goop, dead people, over and over again.

Poor Niki. Her actions make much more sense now. I still hope she doesn't stick around.

Bob is evil. He may not actually be, but he's pissing me off.

Yeeeesss!! Our weekly gratuitous scene of Peter without his shirt.

Vanity, Thy Name Is, Well, Me

Yes, I am prone to wearing ridiculous things, in inclement weather and adverse conditions, regardless of practicality or comfort. And I have, on more than one occasion, fallen down el steps after tripping over wedge sandals. I would rather hobble on 4-inch heels for multiple blocks than bust out a pair of keds.

So finding these made me happy. I'm not running any marathons or anything, but still. Mucho more comfort.

This Is Why I Don't So Much Drink the Tea Anymore

Some people ruin it for everyone.

But them's fightin' words on crossword puzzles.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Bunny Burrito

She's overdue. And when she's not yakking or lobbying for tuna, she can be cute.

Uppity Women: Scourge of Non-Humanoid Societies Too! Or, An Explanation Perpetually in Search of a Problem

Via, we learn that scientists are discovering new things about Neanderthals.
In addition to immense noses, elongated skulls, and barrel chests, some Neanderthals boasted flaming red hair, according to an international research team led by Harvard's Holger Roempler. . . .

Neanderthals possessed a gene known to underlie speech. The presence of the FOXP2 gene in two skeletons uncovered in the El Sidron cave in northern Spain suggests Neanderthals were capable of human-like language.

The range of Neanderthals was much greater than scientists had previously imagined, extending to the heart of Asia.

Fascinatingly, scientists are also working on mapping the entire genome of the Neanderthal from the fragment of a bone.

Oh, and there's one other little theory cited at the end of the article: a "husband-wife anthropological team has raised the possibility that female derring-do may have contributed to Neanderthals' demise." Did I mention the title of the article? "Stone Age Feminism? Females Joining Hunt May Explain Neanderthal's End" Hah hah! These articles reinforcing the Way Things Are Supposed To Be really do sell papers, don't they?

The University of Arizona's Steven L. Kuhn and Mary C. Stiner, use archeological evidence to argue that Neanderthal females - unlike Homo sapien women of the Upper Paleolithic period - joined men in hunts at a time when stabbing giant beasts with a sharpish stone affixed to a stick represented the cutting edge of technology.

That's courageous, but probably bad practice for a population that never numbered much more than 10,000 individuals. The loss of a few males to a flailing hoof or slashing antler is no big deal, in the long run. But losing females of child-bearing age could bring doom to a hard-pressed species.

"All elements of [Neanderthal] society appear to have been involved in the main subsistence pursuit" of hunting large animals, Kuhn said. "There's not much evidence of classic female roles.

"Putting the reproductive core of the population - pregnant women, mothers of infants, children themselves - at such danger could have put Neanderthals as a whole at serious demographic disadvantage," he said.

Not only would women suffer casualties, Kuhn said, their full participation in the hunt would mean they were not harvesting wild grains and other foods that could sustain their roving bands when game was scarce.
Human women, on the other hand, had the proper things down:
From early days, human women appear to have sewed hide clothing, tended fires, and gathered vegetables rather than risking their lives on the hunt.
And we know who lived to populate the planet, don't we?

Of course, there's certainly no scientific consensus on what eventually killed Neanderthals. They coexisted with humans for thousands of years, so it's unclear to me whether this female-hunting thing took that long to decimate the species or whether it is alleged to be a later-introduced social arrangement. It is known that
"Neanderthals were smart, sophisticated. They mastered fire. They made tools. But modern humans had selectively advantageous [genetic] traits that gave them an edge," said Richard G. Klein, a Stanford University paleoanthropologist. "Even tiny advantages in cognition, communication skills, and memory would have had huge downstream effects over time."
One scientist sums it up thusly:
"What finally happened could be really boring. Maybe Neanderthals ran out of reindeer to hunt. So they dwindled and died. . . ."
Sometimes it seems like journalists write this shit up with a wink just to tweak the ladies.

Friday, November 9, 2007

This One's for Lynette: Political Scandal Brewing

Voters of America want to know: Did Hillary Clinton fail to tip the waitress at the Maid-Rite Diner in Iowa?

When reached for comment, the waitress in question:

“You people are really nuts,” she told a reporter during a phone interview. “There’s kids dying in the war, the price of oil right now — there’s better things in this world to be thinking about than who served Hillary Clinton at Maid-Rite and who got a tip and who didn’t get a tip.”

Stick a Fork in It, It's Done

And another week down and another step closer to spring. We cling to whatever scraps we have.

Ten at random, otherwise known this week as "Ode to the Shins."

1. tempted, squeeze
2. your algebra, the shins
3. you've got my number (why don't you use it?), the undertones
4. pressed in a book, the shins
5. the ship song, nick cave and the bad seeds
6. good to me, brendan benson
7. beetle with the boogie woogie beat, the armstrong twins
8. i feel, the sundays
9. waitin' for a superman (remix), the flaming lips
10. gone for good, the shins

Bonus to cleanse your Shins palate:

11. slow country, gorillaz

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Spoken Like Someone Who's Never Ridden Mass Transit. In August.

In the ever consequential, allegedly female-targeted "Style" section of the New York Times, an important thesis. Americans are far far too paranoid about their deodorant application.

For many, winter is a time to relax grooming regiments [sic]. Bodies swathed in turtlenecks and boots need not be waxed, pedicured and S.P.F.’d to the gills. But among stench-phobic Americans, rare is the renegade who will go without an antiperspirant or deodorant for even a day.

Americans spent more than $2.3 billion on deodorant and antiperspirant in 2006, according to Euromonitor International, a market research firm. Yet few people stop to consider the rationale for performing their morning elbow dance.

Yeah, I'm not buying. I may be atypical, but frankly, I'm still trying to defunkify a lovely dress I happened to wear the one day I inexplicably forgot to put on the Secret. Shudder. Via.

Have You Had Your Regular Dose of Fear Mongering?

Oh, for god's sake.
In what one FBI spokesman described as "almost an annual ritual," the bureau has obtained uncorroborated intelligence indicating al Qaeda would like to strike shopping malls during the holiday shopping season, two law enforcement sources said Thursday.

Those sources confirmed there is intelligence dating back to August that al Qaeda would like to attack malls in Los Angeles, California, and Chicago, Illinois.
Are you anxious yet? How about now?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

This Toy Contamination Thing? Nooooo Big Deal

Do not, repeat do not buy a toy called Bindeez:
Chinese toys are back in the headlines. Today, retailers around the world scrambled to pull a popular toy called Bindeez off their shelves, after a chemical in some shipments of the Chinese-made product was found to mimic the effects of the so-called date rape drug.
Or, for that matter, a toy called Aqua Dots, which is the name the product is marketed under in the United States:
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission plans to announce a recall of the sets. The CPSC has received two reports of children in the U.S. swallowing Aqua Dots and they slipped into “non-responsive comas.” Both children are now fine.
The kids are fine! Nothing to worry about! And Bob is on the case, in his teeny toy-testing laboratory, testing all the toys coming from China, ensuring our kids are safe. Whew!

This Song Makes Me Dance, Almost Exactly Like So

Speaking of music to exercise to.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

So, I Guess I Have Been Light on the Web Surfing

House guest, fun dinners, catch up, work work work, the usual. But there's catastrophic flooding in Mexico? And the United States is pledging $300,000 to help? What, we couldn't collect more from the coffee can at the Quick-E Mart?

Just to Tweak My Father

Macs cost you less than PCs when you factor in resale costs? Sounds wackadoodle, no?

In the spring of 2006, for instance, you could have purchased a nice Dell laptop -- the Inspiron E1505, with a 1.66 GHz Core Duo processor, 1 GB of memory, and an 80 GB hard disk -- for $999 directly from Dell. At the time, Apple's roughly comparable entry-level MacBook -- 1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo processor, 512 MB memory, a 60 GB disk -- went for $100 more, $1,099.

Even if you'd treated your machine very well, you'd be lucky to sell the Dell today for $550, while MacBooks have recently sold for $710, $740, $790, and even $800. It would, in other words, be a cinch to sell the MacBook for $100 more than the Dell Inspiron, thereby making up the purchase-price difference you paid earlier (and likely even beating it).

Apple fans have long understood the amazing resale value of their machines. Windows users, on the other hand, might be scratching their heads at my argument; in the Windows world, selling your computer (rather than recycling it) is almost unheard of. After just a year or two of use, a Windows machine gets so gummed up with spyware, viruses and other nasty stuff that it seems malicious to ask anybody for money for the thing.

Heroes by Recaplet: Still Enthralling

Winter sucks. Allergies suck. Suites alarms that alarm no one but beep incessantly like car alarms suck. And there is not enough coffee in this universe to offset a two-cat-yak-cleanup night. (Isn't it interesting that I'm hypersensitively attuned to feline retching upon my unsealed hardwood? It's like those mothers who hear their babies crying from far away.)

I was tragically thwarted from watching Heroes last night by unfeeling friends who believe that dinner out, semblance of a life, etc. trump my viewing experience.

So. I got caught up via Television Without Pity. Wow, lots happening, no? Adrenaline cranked up a bit? Toby called Adam/Kensai. And of course I missed Peter without his shirt. Sigh.


Sunday, November 4, 2007

It's That Time of Year Again

Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the 2007 Oxford American Music issue, which includes Southern music of all genres and periods, music writing, and a sampler disc. Last year's was fantastic, and although I can't click through to see who all is covered this year, I suspect it's worthwhile.

Sunday Morning Gospel, The Staple Singers Edition

Friday, November 2, 2007

Yea Verily, 1977 Was a Bad Year for Fashion and Many Other Consumer Goods

"This kid looks like he's pretending to be David Soul, who is pretending to be a cop who is pretending to be a pimp that everyone knows is really an undercover cop. Who is pretending to be 15."

Yes, I'm sure it does make your eyes burn.

Just a sampling of a recently unearthed (from Hell) 1977 catalog from JC Penney. The full horror must be seen to be believed.

Thanks, Sharon!

Friday in the Conference-Laden Land of Bungalows

Book your travel now, people! I love being at ground zero for conferences; it's the lazy person's way to see friends on a regular basis. Random ten:

1. she does everything for me, we the people
2. rise up with fists!!!, jenny lewis with the watson twins
3. the boogie monster, gnarls barkley
4. statue of liberty, xtc
5. non-pythagorean composition, apples in stereo
6. fuck and run, liz phair
7. tender years, george jones
8. (what's so funny 'bout) peace, love and understanding?, the holmes brothers
9. open eyes, the apples in stereo
10. typical girls, the slits

And the tenacious Apples in Stereo, despite contributing only one cd to my assortment, continue with their strong representation. Yeah! Who doesn't love an underdog?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Today in Musical Cognitive Dissonance

With this collection of Motown singles providing a nice soundtrack for my day, I noticed something a bit, um odd: the unmistakable sound of banjos. It was this track:

17. (The Man with The) Rock and Roll Banjo Band - The Supremes

Furthermore, it's been brought to my attention that there's an entire album of the Supremes singing country western. Available only on vinyl, of course.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

If you're shaking people down for candy tonight, be polite about it. The rest of you, be sexxxy/scary, as appropriate.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

And I Thought the Cloak Of Invisibility Was the Way to Go

What what what is the solution to women being safe walking alone at night? Mace? Pepper spray? Never ever leaving the house alone?

Yeah, that last one is probably the way to go. But here's another option: garments that let women disguise themselves as vending machines!

Genius. Leave it to the Japanese. Via.

What Is the Deal?

I'm productively working at home. And for some reason, I cannot stop sneezing and am fast running out of kleenex. I feel like crap. Psychological guilt-induced allergy affliction?

Monday, October 29, 2007

This Kid's Got Talent

Well, in a three-year-old kind of way. Photographic output of a toddler.

In a related vein, Mr. Lee's Catcam.

Heroes, Sans Nathan. I Am Bereft

And also a little underadrenalined. Discuss.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Gentle Call for Courtesy in These Uncourteous Times

Dear Person in the giant SUV behind me in the strip-mall parking lot,

I am sure you were probably on a time-sensitive, possibly life-saving mission to the Super Target. I myself was on a hunt for a double-wide cat scratcher and coffee creamer, so I'm not insensitive to urgent commerce quests. And I can well imagine how the lot's gauntlet of stop signs in such circumstances becomes frustrating; no doubt my poky insistence on coming to a complete stop at all of them—rather than plowing through the PetCo owners, pets, and HomeDepot do-it-yourselfers—ground on your very last nerve.

But, but, not withstanding all of the above. I would like to strongly suggest that it is stupid, nay, dangerous, in these situations for you to pour on the speed and pass me, freeway style, in the lane for oncoming traffic. Particularly when the aisles for parking are all on the left, and I'm about to turn. So that's why I followed up our interaction with the finger, cursing, and beeping.

Thanks for your attention in this matter.

Why, Yes, I Should Be Doing Something Productive

Stephen Fry has a blog! (House fans, take note and toss thee some Jeeves and Wooster into the Netflix queue.) And he muses, at length, on fame, e.g.:
It is obvious and wholly understandable that when people approach you they want to present themselves as separate from the herd: they are not aware that the more they attempt to be different the more they are in fact identical. When I had a crush on Donny Osmond I was convinced that if he could only get to know me he would discover that I was so different from everyone else around him that he would understand how we were meant for each other. This is Stance A, the Standard Defining Fan Feeling, and covers the beliefs of all fans from obsessive to faint admirer.
God, I love the internets.

Sunday Morning Gospel

Swan Silvertones

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Speaking of Sexxay Costumes

We got your sexy mustard! Your sexy Abe Lincoln! Your sexy steel tycoon!


Friday, October 26, 2007

New Left Hipsters of the World, Unite

How to Win a Fight With a Conservative is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Liberal Identity:

You are a New Left Hipster, also known as a liberal, a Netroots activist, or a Daily Show fanatic. You believe that if we really want to defend American values, conservatives must be exposed, mocked, and assailed for every fanatical, puritanical, warmongering, Constitution-shredding ideal for which they stand.


I can't seem to form actual full thoughts lately and can just muster little fizzes of brain activity. So why fight city hall?

Those of you motoring to or through Chicago, good news: The Dan Ryan is done.

The worries of the rich affect us all, non-New York Times edition: Yes, it's hard to decorate that vacation home, and sure, you can't spend too much on building Fido's deluxe doghouse. But have you seriously considered the ethics of dividing your inheritance?

German septuagenarian "playboy" sues 19-year-old woman for refusing to sleep with him because "After all, there are laws against discrimination." Indeed there are, for just these injustices.

My master plan to groom a tiny fashionista meets societal disapprobation. I am undeterred.

Is It Possible This Was Some Sort of Global-Warming-Related Super Week?

Because it went on for freakin' ever, even though I was off on Monday. It seems inexplicable.

Random ten:
1. chicken wire, pernice brothers
2. chalkhills and children, xtc
3. clubland, elvis costello and the attractions
4. ferris wheel, pernice brothers
5. i'm a honky tonk girl, loretta lynn
6. the child is gone, fiona apple
7. sex, the pipettes
8. sweet thing, rufus with chaka khan
9. age, x-ray spex
10. love on a farmboy's wages, xtc

Yay, Pernice Brothers! WOOt XTC! I swear, I really do have a lot more artists, but my iPod is apparently in a rut.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Now, with Fifty Percent More Crazy

Rudy Giuliani: if it's even possible, scarier than you think. In a nutshell:
Rudy Giuliani is the guy you'd get if you put George Bush and Dick Cheney into a wine press and squeezed out their pure combined essence: unbounded arrogance and self-righteousness, a chip on his shoulder the size of a redwood, a studied contempt for anybody's opinion but his own, a vindictive streak a mile wide, and a devotion to secrecy and executive power unmatched in presidential history.


You would think that this not-throwing-anything-out system I have would work in my favor. Can I find anything when I need it, instead of six months after the point? Noooooooo.

I don't suppose any of you have seen a bunch of important papers that I carefully put in a special place because I knew I would need them later?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Meditations on a Theme

Via Erik, how the cat wakes you up in the morning.

Mine usually involves bloodshed and—I believe this part qualifies her for genius status, and I may hook her up to start doing my taxes—swatting my alarm clock.

Also, this, via Mamablue via Lynette. One of the lesser-known books of the bible, definitely of the Apocrypha:
An Ceiling Cat sawed that weedz ish teh good stuff, so, letz tehre be weed. (and catnipz 2, so wen i makes kittehs they can getz hai.)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Ah, Nathan! You Give Me Clean-Shaven Yet Scruffy

Heroes! Sock it to me. What are we thinking? How are we feeling? Any theories?

Auntly Duties, Revealed

Watching. Lots of watching.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Friday, October 19, 2007

I'm a Friday Meeting Monkey!

Yet amid my prep, I still find time to chill to the dulcet tones of my iTunes random mix.

1. the bleeding heart show, new pornographers
2. we must have been out of our minds, george jones (with melba montgomery)
3. see in you, the album leaf
4. wherever i go, the album leaf
5. number two, pernice brothers
6. the promise, when in rome (napoleon dynamite soundtrack)
7. dig a pony, the beatles
8. energy, apples in stereo
9. stay, alison krauss and union station
10. folk singer, brendan benson

It's a strong showing for the Album Leaf, who obviously feel that Fridays require the mellow.

And fresh off the cd presses, this dude's latest (the top two tracks are on it) features someone a couple of us (okay, Lynette) know playing guitar.

Finally, if I ever get famous and find myself sitting down face-to-face with, say, Terry Gross, I will arrive with prepared notes and cards of killer jokes and will not, under any circumstances, turn out an interview like the poor dudes of Sigur Ros do here.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

And We Can See Which Side of the Family Got the Eeeeevil Gene

No doubt this is old news, but Dick Cheney and Barack Obama: distant cousins.

I'm Starting to See Where We Went Wrong as a Society

Behold breakfasty goodness: 920 calories, 60 grams of fat.

I have a theory, uncontroversial though it may be. We are the geese being stuffed for the foie gras.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Filed Under: More Wackjob Bush Appointments

The new acting deputy assistant secretary for population affairs, Susan Orr, believes that contraception is not "medically necessary":
In 2001, Orr lauded Bush's proposal to stop requiring federal employees' health insurance plans to cover birth control, telling the Washington Post, "We’re quite pleased because fertility is not a disease. It’s not a medical necessity that you have it."
It goes without saying that her position involves overseeing reproductive health issues.