Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tweets from the Trenches

@ItsMeAntoinette buhh , i do gotta pee; it's taking FOREVER to get off this plane. about 5 hours ago from mobile web

@SeaTweets Just landed in slc. Sitting near the back of the plane and I REALLY have to pee. Let's make this a speedy de-plane, fe
about 21 hours ago from twidroid

@everythingisaok I have to pee sooooooooooo bad, and people are getting off the plane like we have all night.
1 day ago from txt

@speckie721 Can I get off this plane. I gotta pee.
2 days ago from UberTwitter

@CandiceBarrans OMG I have to pee ane plane wont stop taxing!
4 days ago from txt

@ckcoburn LET ME OFF THIS PLANE I HAVE TO PEE

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Whole Lot of Nothing...

Wow. So I had some vacation days from work that expire at year's end, so I took off two days for some long weekends. Last week, I went out to the Opera with a beautiful 18 year old boy at FIT. I thought it was kind of a date, and I think we both had a good time. After the show, we parted and each began heading home in our separate directions. Somehow, about 15 minutes later we bumped into each other in Times Square. I don't know what it means. IT WAS SO RANDOM! But we hung out for a little bit in Times Square, and then went home. I was happy for the extra time with him. But this weekend he was pretty spotty with answering my calls or texts.

Friday night, a 20 year old from Parsons came over. I've known him for some time, but I'm not really that into him. We fooled around a little, but I didn't want to kiss or have sex with him. He kept asking why not, and trying to go in for a kiss. Like really kept trying again and again. Too much.

Hey, why do people ask the stupid questions whose answers they don't want to know? Like, "So how many boys have you brought back here?" I don't get it. You want me to say you're my one and only? You may one day be. But you can't erase my past, so what do you want? I should tell you all about how you're one of a long illustrious line of hot boys? Or lie and say you're the first? I mean, when you ask a question like that, what do you want to hear?

Now that awful Gaga song is stuck in my head. I'm almost afraid to tell you which one because you probably haven't heard it and if you go find it, the song's awfulness may become lodged in your head as well. It's called Monster, and the refrain "He ate my heart, he a-a-ate my heart" is pretty much the whole song.

I got a few cool items. A memory foam mattress topper which I'm lying on right now for the first time. Well, second. I lied it out on the floor when it came, but this is the first time I set it up on my bed.

Today in the city I got a few reed diffusers from Sabon (check them out - great stuff!) and put them around my room. I am now taking repeated deep breaths because with every breath I want to inhale deeply the fragrance.

I stayed at a cool hotel as part of my "staycation". But no one would join me, so I enjoyed it alone. But it sucked to be alone. I kept reaching out to people to come visit, but half the time they were busy or away or couldn't make it, and half the time they said they would come and then "their phone died" and I didn't hear back until the next day.

The hotel's fitness room was fairly small, but I had it all to myself. Felt like my own private gym. And they had a great steam room. The room was well appointed, and of a pretty fair size for the city. I had enough booze with me for a football team, but I didn't drink. I was feeling too good to drink by myself, but it still hurt that I was so alone. (Another giant breath of Sabon Bordeaux.)

I have a massive pile of unwashed laundry at the foot of my bed. By tomorrow morning it's going to be my freshest-smelling load of dirty laundry ever.

When I asked about the wifi, the guy at the hotel desk told me it was $12.99 for 24 hours. Well, what he didn't say is that the hotel's wifi is also available through Boingo, which charges just $10 a month. Think maybe that's something he could have mentioned?

At 3:00AM I called the desk and ordered a pillow. Whatever.

I got a haircut. But you might not even notice. I told him to leave it long. Partly because I want it long, partly because I didn't trust him. I think it was a good choice. New Yorkers who love their barber or stylist - please comment and tell me who you use.

The super sexy 18 year old bi boy who goes to school upstate is home for the holidays. I was looking forward to seeing him. He almost came over, but his "phone died" and we couldn't coordinate. I'm tempted to believe it's true. But it's been happening so often with different people...

The TV in the hotel was beyond useless. Nice big screen, 25 or so different channels. Nothing on. Ever. I think they do it on purpose to try to sell you VoD movies. But I decided to just stream stuff on my laptop, tiny screen and all. At least I get to choose what to watch. In the end I didn't spend much time watching anyway.

Next stops. Sephora, Bloomingdales, H&M. At Sephora, I was overwhelmed by the vast numbers of tiny bottles and jars with exhorbitant price tags that, as far as I could tell, all do the same thing. Or nothing at all. Who knows, right? I went over to the men's fragrances and sprayed them all on those little tester paper strips (which Sephora actually named "Scenta") and smelled them. I wasn't a fan of 212Men, but I liked 212SexyMen (it's different, dark, not your everyday scent) and Gucci Pour Homme (more classical). Givenchy Play Intense was interesting. Not bad, but probably not for me. Some of them just reeked bad. Malodorous. Interesting that I liked the sexy men but not the plain men...

I also saw the brand of toiletries they had at the hotel. That was cool. A lot of hotels have hotel-branded "specially made" stuff that you can never find in a store (probably because in the store it's sold under the Procter & Gamble label...)

H&M was a hot mess. I would so go there to shop for boys, but it seems the boys aren't for sale. But I digress. So there was a shirt I wanted. I own one, and I wear it all the time, and I want to get a few more just like it. Maybe in a few different colors. Why is this so difficult? So the shirt is $40. But they have another line of shirts for $20. The difference? The $20 line is cut wrong, made from cheap materials and generally just a pile of trash. So why do they adulterate their clothing with inferior stuff like that? Maybe it's a good thing. I don't know. It has happened before. Two vests. Same style and color and everything. One is 100% cotton, the other ersatz polyester. But what really threw me is that when I found the shirt I wanted, it was covered with dust. Looked like it was still there untouched from that last time when I bought the shirt that started this journey. Wow. Dusty clothing on store racks. Big no-no. I didn't buy it.

At Bloomingdales, the dressing rooms were so big and spacious I thought it might be a good place to hook up. Cheaper than a hotel. That idea was dampened when after a few minutes inside an attendant called out, "Eveything fit okay?" But I still think it could work. Hey, it beats the johns in the college library...

I feel like every one of my friends wrote a tweet or a status raving about how awesome the movie Avatar is. I'd never even heard of it until this deluge of viral.

Well you're all caught up now. And as for making my posts more explicit, well, maybe that will come later...

Monday, December 07, 2009

Collected Screenshots




Cute Marc Jacobs model. This guy is the definition of a top model: He makes whatever they dress him in look good. I had to catch myself and think about how they would look on me before rushing to buy a bunch of clothes because they looked great on him.





For a brief time, Google searches for NY Senate described the chamber's website as "Marriage Equality: New York State Senate". We know that didn't last.



$100,000 for the Norton Internet Security suite, Netbook edition. A bit pricey, methinks. Especially for the netbook user on a budget!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Senate Fails to Grant Marriage Equality #NYMarriageDebate

This morning, the New York State Senate voted down a bill that would have granted equal marriage rights to gay and lesbian citizens.

Accountability 2010!
Regular readers may have noticed there's a new Donate button in the sidebar. After being deeply disappointed by this morning's failure of the same-sex marriage bill, I am scrambling to organize a campaign to hold those Senators who voted NO accountable for their actions.

The next steps will be to identify which of these are the first up for re-election, which of them we have the best chance of defeating, and then which opposing candidate to support - be it a same-party candidate in the primaries or the opposing party candidate. Your support, in any way you can, makes a difference.

To all those Senators who voted in favor, thank you for being, as President Obama might say, on the right side of history. Special thanks to Senators Tom Duane, Eric Adams, Toby Ann Stavisky, Pedro Espada, Malcolm Smith, and John Sampson, for your leadership in support of the bill.

The Blacklist:

Joseph Addabbo (D)
James Alesi (R)
Darrel Aubertine (D)
John Bonacic (R)
John DeFrancisco (R)
Ruben Diaz (D)
Hugh Farley (R)
John Flanagan (R)
Charles Fuschillo, Jr. (R)
Martin Golden (R)
Joseph Griffo (R)
Kemp Hannon (R)
Shirley Huntley (D)
Owen Johnson (R)
Carl Kruger (D)
Andrew Lanza (R)
Bill Larkin (R)
Kenneth LaValle (R)
Vincent Leibell (R)
Tom Libous (R)
Elizabeth Little (R)
Carl Marcellino (R)
George Maziarz (R)
Roy McDonald (R)
Hiram Monserrate (D)
Thomas Morahan (R)
Michael Nozzolio (R)
George Onorato (D)
Frank Padavan (R)
Michael Ranzenhofer (R)
Joseph Robach (R)
Stephen Saland (R)
James Seward (R)
Dean Skelos (R)
William Stachowski (D)
Dale Volker (R)
George Winner (R)
Catherine Young (R)

Thanks to Irene Jay Liu from timesunion for providing the roll call.

Assembly Passes Gay Marriage Again as it Waits for Senate Action

The New York State Assembly has passed a gay marriage bill for a 3rd time in 2 years, early this morning, as it continues to wait for the State Senate to take action.

While I'm here, about my life. I've met so many amazing people lately. It's what makes life great. It's funny, because I've said before how true Sartre's definition of Hell rings (*Hell is other people). But that just depends which people. Anyway, it's hard to talk about details without anonymity (see Matt at DTB's explanation - I'll get the link up when I have a moment).

So much I want to say, but it's become a lot harder to say it. Anyway, no time now. Back to work. Ttyl.

P.S. Now would be a great time to call and write legislators in New York and New Jersey to demand marriage equality.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

It's Back on the Agenda: Yes on S4401


Please take a moment to call the New York State Senate and urge them to vote YES on S4401 to support marriage equality in the State of New York.

Put on your boxing gloves: It's baaaack.





English boy band Take That pose in combat boots, boxer shorts and red boxing gloves, circa 1995. L-R, Mark Owen, Howard Donald, Jason Orange, Robbie Williams and Gary Barlow. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Call now 518-455-2800 and tell our Senators you support fair marriage rights and they should too. You can also access the Senate website and share your support for same sex marriage.

The language of the bill states, in part:
Same-sex couples and their children should have the same access as others to the protections, responsibilities, rights, obligations, and benefits of civil marriage...

It is the intent of the legislature that the marriages of same-sex and different-sex couples be treated equally in all respects under the law...

No application for a marriage license shall be denied on the ground that the parties are of the same, or a different, sex.

And perhaps my favorite part:
This act shall take effect immediately.

They were there. Don't let them forget their committment.

New York Governor David Paterson, second left, a supporter of gay marriage, and Michael Bloomberg, second right, mayor of New York City, participate in the Heritage of Pride Parade on June 28, 2009 in New York. (UPI Photo/Monika Graff)

He wasn't there. Don't let him get re-elected.





Anti-Gay Senator Chooses Opposition to Marriage Equality Over Party





P.S. If you live in Diaz's district in New York (32) and want to run against him for his Senate seat, please let me know.

P.P.S. I am deeply ashamed of portions of the Orthodox Jewish community that has taken upon itself to oppose this much-needed legislation. After Jews were persecuted for so many years, we of all people should understand the plight of those who are discriminated against and not join their oppressors.
















These people went to Albany to deny your civil rights.

Rabbi Shmuel Lefkowitz, Rabbi Mordechai Biser, Chaskel Bennett, Rabbi Mechel Deutsch, Tzvi Gluck, Leon Goldenberg, Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, Chaim Israel, Mendy Israel, Yoel Lefkowitz, Sender Rappoport, Avi Schron, Rabbi Moshe Schwab and Yerucham Silver.

“Here,” said Rabbi Lefkowitz, “was a group of sincere, polite and impressive Orthodox Jewish citizens, well-spoken and clearly not bigoted - but whom this bill would turn into pariahs.”

This same logic they apply to their denial of gay rights and same sex marriage argues in favor of slavery, too: The abolition of slavery turned sincere, polite, and impressive, well-spoken, and clearly not bigoted slave owners into pariahs.

In fact, when the Allies won WWII, sincere, polite, and impressive, well-spoken, and clearly not bigoted German National Socialists were turned into pariahs.

In other words, their argument is that as long as your inhumanity is directed towards sub-humans, you can be a fine upstanding citizen. But raising your sub-human victims to equal standing means your oppression of them is now vile. Which is something you'd rather not have to deal with.

I urge Agudath Israel and Orthodox Union members to read Rabbi Michael Broyde's excellent article, "Jews, Public Policy and Civil Rights: A Religious Jewish Perspective," in which he eloquently argues that "In order to vigorously protect our rights, we must be prepared to defend the rights of others even others we do not agree with." And then contact Agudah or OU and tell them to stop endangering your equal rights with their reckless opposition to an extension of civil rights.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Only 1% of Hospitals Are Below Average*

*In the opinion of the people who chair hospital boards. (WSJ Health Blog)

Monday, November 09, 2009

A Definition of "Chutzpah"

Health care wonk Bill McIntruff explains that key elements of Obama's Health Care Reform Bill are designed to take effect starting 2013 so that Obama can be safely re-elected before the whole health care system collapses:

"This thing doesn’t even happen until 2013. So we need to understand that, on purpose, that we have this “major reform” but the major reform is meant to happen after Obama’s re-election. This means he gets to run on “We passed a major reform and boy, it’s coming soon,” and not “Oh my God, this whole thing is collapsing and it’s my fault,” if that’s what happens. Who knows, maybe it will be successful, but the point is that no one has seemed to want to gamble his or her own re-election on that outcome. So it’s more likely, whatever happens, to be stuck in a drawer to wait until the next time, which is after the re-election campaign." (Health Affairs)

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Adopt a Gay Today

The election results are in: People still hate the gays. In New Jersey and Maine, voters went to the polls to support insensitivity and discrimination. Anti-gay groups scared people by saying things like "gay marriage will be taught to your children." So instead parents opted to teach their children that the principles of equality on which this nation was founded are no more true to them than they were to the pigs in Orwell's Animal Farm. Remember when Michelle Obama angered the media by saying she isn't proud to be an American? Well, I kinda know how she feels. #democracyfail

Oh, now that I'm here, I'll throw in a quick personal update. I met a guy online, and we met for a weekend. I had a great time, I don't think he did. It's pretty rocky going.

Halloween was fun, party at the club.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Shirtless! At The Disco

OMG I was in heaven. We were even walking on clouds... A foam party. Hundreds of beautiful boys, everyone stripped to their underwear on the dance floor, suds and bubbles and young flesh everywhere moving to the beat. The crowd was great, the energy was high, people were smiling, happy, having fun. It was unreal. People let down their barriers and just enjoyed the night. Like it was another era. A simpler time. Full of innocence and pleasure.

The club is moving soon, so they get to throw a few awesome parties and wreck the place before they go...

When I walked outside, it looked like it had snowed. The foam oozed out the door and blanketed the whole sidewalk out front. It was incredible, the whole night.

I met a few really wonderful people too who I've actually been keeping up with :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Looking Sinister

Artist puts a face on email viruses:

Thanks to a new Dell e-zine Motherboard.tv for the find.

Monday, October 12, 2009

"And then the police officer added 'you know, he's homosexual'"

The HRC had its big gala black tie dinner with all the rich old gays and their hot young escorts. President Obama addressed the gathering. They applauded and cheered and practically promised to support his re-election in 2012.

Meanwhile, the people outside on the streets marched in outrage at the administration's inaction on gay rights issues. The HRC is proud of Obama's vague promise about gays in the military. The real gays outside could care less about the army, they just want to get married. Obama said nothing about marriage, nothing about health insurance, and nothing about the 150,000 angry people who just happen to be gathered on his lawn.

Obama spoke about "the day when no one has to fear being gay in America, when no one has to fear walking down the street holding the hand of the person they like." This is important, of course. What the marchers outside were saying is: we have that. We are not afraid. But we are still disadvantaged. Protecting our bones from bodily harm is important. But it is not enough. It falls short of offering fully equal status.

Anyone who listens to Obama's speech at the dinner cannot help but be wowed by his aura, his delivery, and his seeming commitment, but it still falls short of where we should be.

UPDATE: Actually, the more I listen the more I am wooed by the extent to which he went in his oratory. True, he spoke about most of it in the language of "his beliefs", not in his capacity as President. He told a nice story about the history of PFLAG. But many people have decided it is time to judge him on his record, not his audacity, his hope, his aspirations, or his speeches.

Suicide is painless, it brings on many changes

Disregard the title. Suicide has nothing to do with this post. It's just a cool lyric from a fun song (which I admit to having set on repeat when feeling down).

Had a week off from work for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. Got some rest. Did some networking. Became an honorary ivy league alumnus, scoring contacts worth a lot more than the donation that earned me the status. Watched the movie version of Chicago.

Continued an SMS dialog with P, wherein I ask to meet and he says he has to work. And I always question myself whether he appears disinterested, but so far my conclusion remains that he would like to hang out but truly is busy.

Once again had to ditch M for a random cutie I just met. I felt bad, but what should I do? M could have had me but seemed to want a pretty unconventional (read: sexless) relationship. So I interpreted that type of relationship as "friendship", which is not normally meant to be exclusive...

Another night I had a whole bunch of guys all over me, but couldn't pick one and left without any. That's the classic "always looking for something better" syndrome.

Was once again told to get a car. Thing is, I still believe it would come in handy, even be a lifesaver, a couple times a month but be a total drag the rest of the time.

I thought I was off for Columbus day. Found out last minute that I'm not. I wouldn't have minded coming in, except it was annoying working the logistics after finding out so late. Anyway, it's good to be back. I feel better when making money. I think that's what I'll tell the next guy who asks why I'm not drinking: "Actually, I'd rather just have the money..."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Round 3. Fight!



Best. election. video. ever!
I know it's old, but I just saw this now... on... wait for it... Uncyclopedia
By the way, don't you just hate that "wait for it" bit? I was reading something last night and there was that "wait for it", and after I read the next line and saw what I was waiting for, I asked myself: Why did I just have to wait for that?

Iranians Get Their Green - From the Wizard of Oz!

The Wall Street Journal reports: Iranian activists — trying to blanket New York City with their trademark green color — lobbied to bathe the top of the Empire State Building in green light all this week during their rallies against Iran’s president, who is visiting the United Nations.

The request was rejected. But on Thursday, to the protesters’ delight, it will be green anyway, for another reason: an “Emerald Gala” for the 70th anniversary of the film “The Wizard of Oz.”

Organizers have notified their email lists, and many demonstrators plan to stand under the building and cheer when it lights up in the evening. Photographers documenting the protests plan to post the view online for inspiration around the globe, organizers said.

“The universe is smiling and the stars are aligned!” wrote one blogger, named Anonymous Iran. “I’m so happy I could cry!”

The green lighting will happen the same day demonstrators plan to unfurl a nearly mile-long green banner across the Brooklyn Bridge. Sadra Shaba, a 24-year-old graduate student and protest organizer for Voices for Iran, said protesters “consider anything that’s green part of our movement. Even the Statue of Liberty is green.”



Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Updated Musings on Me

I got to spend some time enjoying the unspeakably beautiful weather in Central Park. Gotta soak it up before old man winter arrives.

I went out with P again. We met "for coffee", but we didn't actually have coffee. We went shopping instead, and then had dinner. It was fun.

Trying to figure out my taxes. The catch is: to get all your deductions and credits and minimize your tax burden, you need to be making enough to justify hiring a tax professional.

I considered taking a certificate course this semester in business administration, but after talking it over with my brain trust I decided to spend a few hundred on books for now instead of a few grand on the course. I'll reconsider more formal education again later.

Baucus Tells Health Insurers to Shut Up

"We cannot allow government officials to target individuals or companies because they do not like what they have to say," McConnell said. "Is this what we believe as a Senate -- that this body should debate a trillion-dollar health care bill that affects every American while using the powerful arm of government to shut down speech?"
more by Mitch McConnell - 13 hours ago - Huffington Post
Hmmm.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

ARM Reveals Faster Chip - and Odd Pic

Wow ARM, I gotta hand it to you...
(Image courtesy of Engadget)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fashion's Night Out NYC was HOT

It was a fun weekend. I tried to leave work ASAP on Thursday evening to get back to the city for Fashion's Night Out. The plan was to hit the Fifth Avenue shops first, and then meet some friends in SoHo to check out the goings on there. Well, as soon as I walked into one of the couture shops a super cute guy came over and asked if I wanted to get a drink with him. (Conveniently, the stores were offering complimentary drinks. It was a very party atmosphere for the occasion.) At first I wasn't sure if he was for real or he was a model hired for the occasion and this was the way they were treating all their guests! We hung out in the store for a while, met the label's founder, then went for a few cocktails at a restaurant on the block before heading downtown in a limo to a cute little wine bar in Chelsea.

Saturday night I was back in Chelsea at a club where I have been crushing on a cute new gogo boy. I find it kind of embarrassing to go tip gogos when I'm with my friends, especially if said friend might kinda have a crush on me... Is there an etiquette to this?

After that, I met up again with the fashion guy I met Thursday (Call him P). I think I really like him. Then I rushed home to get the car back before my Mom or Dad wakes up and realizes I was out past 3:00AM. ("You're old enough I can't tell you what to do, but the car must be back...")

Sunday I went to a housewarming party a friend was making; he just moved in with his boyfriend to a new apartment. I told P about it and he considered coming with me, but then he had just gotten back from exercising and was tired.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Memo to PR Department

Important announcements should not be scheduled for April 1. Thank you.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Most Useless Technology, or at least Most Ridiculously Marketed

The BBC added audio menus to its iPlayer TO HELP THE BLIND SELECT TV PROGRAMS TO WATCH. I'm still shaking my head over this one, folks. Can anyone explain what a blind person is going to do with the program once he finds it with the oh so convenient voice menu?

"The BBC is committed to high standards of accessibility across all of its sites and services, especially popular new services like BBC iPlayer which aim to deliver the benefits of emerging technologies to all our audiences.

"We're therefore delighted that the BBC is the first broadcaster in the world to include audio-described TV programmes for our blind and visually impaired audiences in its video-on-demand service."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

US Gov't: Cash for [Your Special Interest Here]

Since the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Program (CARS, get it? Ha ha. How can I apply for the job of cutesy-acronym-thinker-upper at Congress?) aka Cash for Clunkers was such a resounding success (over budget twice, behind payment deadline, and canceled early because, well, we're still not sure. For the government, this is a success. Don't ask questions.) we'll soon get Cash for Refrigerators.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Killed in Juvie

A 15-year-old resident of the Tryon Residential Center detention center near Johnstown, N.Y. died in 2006 after being pinned face down on the floor and handcuffed by staff. The youth's death was ruled a homicide.

A Justice Department report also found that staff at the four centers routinely resorted to physical restraints for even minor infractions. "Anything from sneaking an extra cookie to initiating a fistfight may result in a full prone restraint with handcuffs," the report found. Staff used what the report termed "excessive force" to control behavior and the practices tended to escalate, rather that calm tensions, it said.

Restraints were used frequently, the report said, causing a high number of injuries. In 2007, staff used an average of 58 restraints a month at the Lansing Residential Center, near Ithaca, which houses girls, causing concussions, loss of teeth, and fractures, the report said. One girl suffered a spiral fracture to her left arm.

Youth, particularly at the Tryon centers, said it was common practice for staff to use what they called a "hook and trip." While staff members restrained a youth's arms behind the back, staff would trip the youth, so the youth would fall face first, resulting, in some cases, in broken teeth, the report said. (WSJ)


Reminds me of a scene from Bryce Courtenay's The Power of One. Only I thought that was something out of Africa. I had no idea it still goes on in my own backyard!


Is this stuff happening here?!

Craigslist Joins Change2Improve

We are proud to announce that Craigslist has signed up as an anchor member of Change2Improve, the program that supports stability and efficiency in business by eliminating needless or regressive change.

There are those who question the company's choice, but you can't argue with success.

"Ordinarily, a company that showed such complete disdain for the normal rules of business would be vulnerable to competition," Gary Wolf writes in Wired, "but craigslist has no serious rivals."

Check out the complete article in Wired (Why Craigslist is Such a Mess). Thanks to Kelsey Group for the tip!

We regret to inform you that our talks with the Wikimedia Foundation fell though. Recently announced changes to the Wikipedia site mean that the site will cease conformance with Change2Improve standards. We have requested they cease using the Change2Improve logo on their website.

And now, here's your made-up-quote-that-could-have-been-real of the day!

This one's by Rush Limbaugh: When I've got nothing politically important to say, I just make fun of people.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My Tivo Thinks I'm Gay 2.0

The Internet thought long and hard about where my soul mate is most likely to be found. It decided in the end that he (she?) most probably lives in a liberal state. If I don't mind relocating, she says I could do even better in Finland, Iceland, or Switzerland. Gallup wasn't there to fact check this, but I figure those countries are liberals on steroids.




P.S. I desperately want to call Liskula Cohen a skank, but I'm afraid she'll sue me. I don't even know what "skank" means, but this lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Update: I'm recovering well from my recent Safe Eyes illness

I am pleased to report that, thank God, I did not die from the nasty bout of Safe Eyes that inspired this post about the dangers of Internet blocking. Doctors say that with rest, plenty of fluids, and sufficient Internet access, the patient is expected to make a full recovery.

However, I stand by my words regarding the depth of pain these programs can cause. This weekend I was elated to find a way around the filter. I was able to reconnect with friends I had lost contact with. I felt a part of society again. It made my mother cry (because like any good mother, she thinks that's just wrong) and messed up the computer, which gave my Dad a headache...

Since the work-around is costly, I may just buy a new computer next time instead.

Kathy Cougar Griffin Brings Adorable 19 Year Old Date To Teen Choice Awards

I think I could be coming down with a case of Levi-mania. Levi Johnston went to the Teen Choice Awards as the date of 48-year-old Kathy Griffin. The 19 year old Alaskan high school hockey star and father of (at least) one also happens to be adorable.


Photo: Huffington Post

He did a recent interview and photo shoot with GQ. Another photo shoot with Vanity Fair; he's making the rounds. But he seems so genuine, not like the fake people you see so often making that circuit. It's refreshing, and it's hooking me a little.

Johnston said he felt the Palins were sending mixed messages as to whether they wanted him to be part of their family.


Paul Sancya/AP

"I know that her parents didn't want us together ... so they probably put a little pressure on her," he said. "But at the same time, they told us they wanted us to get married when they found out Bristol was pregnant. ... I don't know what the deal was."

Johnston says he had been in love with Bristol and that their three-year relationship started to fall apart almost immediately after the Republican National Convention. As for a potential reconciliation, "Nah, I don't think that's gonna happen," he said.

Look at him taking care of the baby!

PHOTO: Levi Johnston Strips Down for GQ
Photo credit: Ture Lillegraven/GQ

Check out this video of Levi looking like a lost puppy in Hollywood.

P.S. That video's hosted through Brightcove. It's not YouTube, but it's not bad. Much smoother than a lot of the other video platforms out there in the inter-webs. (Firefox! How many times must I tell you not to insert hyphens into the middle of words...)

P.P.S. I hate the wording of the title of this post. It's an experiment. The original title went something like what's in the first line, but it

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cute Boy Models Vivienne Westwood Pendants (And Nothing Else)


Photography: Bella Howard; Styling: Anna Trevelyan; Hair: Alexia Brownsell; Make-up: Thomas de Kluyver; Models: Sid Ellidson at Models 1. From DazedDigital

So Why Am I Telling You This? Shh, Just Look At The Pictures

The small African country of Gabon is preparing for its first real democratic election in decades following the death of President Omar Bongo, who led the country for 41 years. 23 candidates are slated to be on the ballot, including the late President's son, Defense Minister Ali Ben Bongo. Some candidates have been calling for a delay of the August 30 election date citing irregularities in voter registration records.

Gabon, which is about 200 times the size of Manhattan but roughly equivalent in population, became independent from France in 1960 and has since retained close ties with its former colonial rulers. Gabon's capital city is Libreville. Tho country produces 273,000 barrels of oil a day, which makes up more than a third of the nation's economy and helped finance Mr. Bongo's purchase of dozens of luxury properties in France.

Something to think about: If the U.S. weans itself off fossil fuels, the petro-dollars dry up and all the good people of Gabon wallow in extreme poverty. All the eco-friendly do-gooder greenies might as well call for Gabonese genocide. Just kidding. Well, half kidding.

The Guardian did a stunning photographic retrospective on Bongo (whose name, for me, summons notions of a certain blue Muppet with a long hook nose. If you're a bit older, it may remind you of a certain Ronald Reagan movie, too.)


Omar Bongo obituary: President Omar Bongo, Visits the Elysee 1970
Bongo in Paris, 1970. (Photograph: Christian Simonpietri/Corbis)


Omar Bongo obituary: President Omar Bongo 1975
Bongo at a conference in Lima, Peru, 1975. (Photograph: Diego Goldberg/Corbis)


Omar Bongo obituary: Mobutu Sese Seko and Omar Bongo 1979
Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire and Bongo share a joke during the sixth
Franco-African summit in Kigali, Rwanda, 1979. (Photograph: Richard
Melloul/Corbis)


Omar Bongo obituary: President Jacques Chirac and President Omar Bongo 1995
With Jacques Chirac in 1995. (Philippe Wojazer/Reuters)


File:Omar Bongo with George Bush May 26 2004-02.jpg
Bongo at the White House, 2004. (White House file photo)


Omar Bongo obituary: President Omar Bongo Paris 2006
Bongo in Paris, 2006. (Photograph: Oliver Weiken/EPA)



AFP Photo

Well Craig over at Puntabulous had someone come in and give a talk about Iceland, so I thought, "Why not Gabon? It's bigger than Iceland and even has a President who takes a good picture."

Oh, this just in: Violent clashes have broken out in Gabon between police and several thousand demonstrators calling for presidential candidate Ali Ben Bongo to resign from the cabinet as defence minister...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pinchos Lipschutz Says Obama's Wrong, U.S. Health Care Is Fine The Way It Is

"Lately, Yated Ne'eman editor-in-chief Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz has been repeatedly attacking Obama's health reform push."

"Okay, so what? I mean, he attacks everything Obama says or does."

"I know, right? But one line he keeps using is that we have 'the finest health care system in the world.' It's not true."

"What do you mean it's not true! In Canada, they have to wait months to see a doctor! And now they want to go killing Grandma? I don't want any death squads taking away my health insurance... They just want a government takeover of healthcare... They're Robin Hoods who want to tax the rich and give it to the lazy!"

"Calm down, no one's hiring death squads or killing grannys. Take a deep breath. Canadians live longer than Americans and are more satisfied with their health care system. The French achieve better health outcomes, single-payer and all, and they do it for a lot less than we spend, too. (France spends 11% GDP on health care vs. 16% here in the U.S. - and our GDP is higher to start with.) Even in socialized Israel, life expectancy is more than 2 years longer than it is for Americans. Out health care system is not so hot.

"What he really means is that the United States has the best health care technology. It is home to some of the best doctors. It sports facilities capable of carrying out the most cutting-edge procedures. It invests in some of the most aggressive life-sustaining treatments. It is the site of some of the most advanced medical research. However, it is not the best health care system. All those things stand as an indictment: Why isn't that spending translating into better outcomes?

"The system is broken. The components may be there, but the system isn't working as it should. When politicians discuss comparative effectiveness, they aren't actually saying 'let's pull the plug on grandma because we decided it's too expensive to let her live.' They are saying, 'Gee, we've got all these great medical technologies, let's find out which ones I should use.' Because under the current "fine system", they just throw one thing after another at an illness and just hope one of them works. That's why you can have the greatest medical capabilities and terrible outcomes.

Comparative effectiveness is more like saying, "Let's figure out which drugs are good for melanoma and which are good for melioidosis. Let's stop wasting money doing the equivalent of trying to treat cancer with antibiotics. Let's be efficient about care. And if Grandma wants to maybe try clindamycin to help reduce her blood pressure because the statins she takes aren't cutting it - yes, the healthcare system's going to have to say no. Not because it wants to kill her. Not because that treatment is too expensive. Not because she's not worth it. But because it doesn't work.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Poster Presidency: Obama Years

You asked for this:



Then you got this:

President Obama made up as the Heath Ledger-era Joker, with the word

And now this:



Forget health reform, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran. Forget the recession. Dressing up the President in funny posters is more fun!

Topman Straw Trilby

Isn't this Trilby awesome?








This Paul Smith Jacket is cool too:













>>YUM>>>

Weekend - Sex = Monday + Horny

I went to the gym last night, but then met a cute guy and hung out with him. Tons of fun. Now I don't feel bad for going away over the weekend :) By the time I went back to get my stuff, the gym was closed. Guess I'll go back and get it tonight.

I cut up some mushrooms and onions and roasted them in the oven, lay down for 20 minutes to rest while I wait for them to be ready. Wake up 2 hours later to my phone ringing, hear something about the oven, remember, and find charcoal with bits of mushroom and onion mixed in. I salvaged what I could and went to back sleep. Ate my supper for breakfast.

I've been going to a chiropractor for a couple months now. I thought about blogging each appointment, but never got around to it. It started when the love of my life said he goes to a chiropractor and it's like getting a massage, only insurance pays. Since then I realized that I'm paying top dollar for health insurance and not getting my money's worth, I might as well use such health services, and I wanted to try it out. It's kinda cool.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Taliban Now Winning: Afghanitnam

"The Taliban have gained the upper hand in Afghanistan, the top American commander there said, forcing the U.S. to change its strategy in the eight-year-old conflict by increasing the number of troops in heavily populated areas like the volatile southern city of Kandahar, the insurgency's spiritual home.

The militants are mounting sophisticated attacks that combine roadside bombs with ambushes by small teams of heavily armed militants, causing significant numbers of U.S. fatalities, he said.

"How many people do you bring in before the Afghans say, 'You're acting like the Russians'?" said one senior military official, referring to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. "That's the big debate going on in the headquarters right now."

The U.S. is working to persuade Helmand's farmers to replace their poppy fields with wheat and fruit. Pretty crazy stuff. If poppies pay better, what farmer want to plant wheat? Then again, people do need to eat...

If you haven't yet read Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns read it now! It has never been more relevant than right now.

Oh, and Amazon, next time I search for a book - link me to the PAPERBACK, NOT the KINDLE version. You know I don't have a Kindle.

Weekend Trip, Cute Story, Search Wars

My parents were going away for the weekend, and I had a choice: Go with them or stay home and have the house to myself. For the first time in a good while, I decided to go with them. So I didn't get laid this weekend, (though there was some eye candy tanning by the pool, and another cute boy working at the pizza shop). But it was a nice weekend. Good to spend some time with the family. Relaxing atmosphere.

I got a ride back with a family I didn't know. They were determined to avoid traffic at all costs. So they avoided NYS Route 17 and drove through Pennsylvania, taking something like U.S Route 209 to U.S. Route 206 to NJ Route 15, etc. It seemed absurd, but if they had done it right Google says it should only add about 3 miles and 25 minutes. If it avoided potentially hours of traffic on the 17 it could have been a smart move. However, all that fails to account for the difficulty of driving on dark, winding, country roads in the fog and heavy rain, making wrong turns and generally not knowing where you're going. In the end, the trip took a "respectable" four hours or

---

Crazy question: Why is West Milford, PA east of Milford, PA?

---

My grandfather told a cute story, a "chassidishe ma'aseh": There was a Rebbe (Grand Rabbi) who had a custom to toss apples into the crowd of his followers who would gather at the close of the Festival of Tabernacles. The men would eagerly grab for the apples, as there was a tradition that anyone who catches one would be assured a year of wealth. Over the years, the crowd grew and men would fight and push to get the blessed apples. The Rebbe's assistants warned their master that the situation was becoming out of control and with all the shoving, people might get hurt. The Rebbe sent a message to the people, "There should be no more pushing to catch the apples."

The next year, the pushing was even worse. Now, as each man shoved his neighbor out of the way, he would taunt him, "Have you not heard the words of the Holy Rebbe? He said not to push, and still you push for the apples!" The Rebbe's assistants returned to him with the news. The Rebbe responded by issuing a stern warning, "Whoever pushes to catch the apples will be cursed with five years of poverty."

The next year, there was no pushing. The crowd was smaller than usual, and everyone who came stood rigid, afraid to push for fear of the Rebbe's curse. As the Rebbe began tossing the apples, however, one frail elderly man ran frantically through the crowd grabbing as many apples as he could. After the event, people came over to the old man, incredulous. "Is it not foolish to risk five years of poverty for the chance of a single year of wealth?" they asked.

"Ah, but where else can I receive the Holy Rebbe's guarantee that I'll live out the next five years!" responded the old man, a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his lips.

---

In other news, Microsoft's much-touted Bing search engine, well, sucks. Just as a random example: I was searching for information about the world's largest green-energy project, DESERTEC. So I typed Desrtec [sic] into Bing (actually into the Firefox search box, which happened to be set to Bing at the time). What I got was this page asking if I perhaps meant to search for Bachelorette News or maybe Shooting in Pittsburgh or Vanessa Hudgens Nude. Google's first result was Desertec.org. Even spelled correctly, Bing gave the $500 Billion pan-European consortium's plan one link, and then listed results for "Deserted".

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Sushi, Birthday Cake, and a Side of Death

I am really tired. I woke up with a headache. I don't know why. I got a good night's sleep, about 5 hours - not less than usual, maybe a bit more. Headache's cleared up but still dazed tired. Mystery.

In the car on the ride to work this morning, I was treated to a lecture about how we're all going to die. I knew that. But it's somewhat morbid to think about too much. This guy was adamant that we should think about it a lot. Okay.

Last night I went over to my aunt's house. She heard I was feeling blue last week and invited me over. She made sushi for supper because she knew I like it, but she used vegetables instead of fish. I really only like the fish part, could care less about seaweed and rice. So what are you supposed to do when someone goes out of their way to be nice to you and do something for you but you totally don't appreciate it? Not only do I not appreciate the dish, but I'd much rather prepare my own food and choose what I want to eat. I hate having to eat food I don't like.

Then for dessert she brought out a birthday cake. Okay, cool. My birthday's coming up. Again, I could do without the cake because it's so unhealthy, and if you're getting me a cake at least get a kind I like... So again, are you trying to do me a favor? I appreciate that you want to--but you're clueless about my tastes. Or maybe you are doing it for yourself. In that case, don't think you're doing me any favors, don't act like I owe you anything. But it was nice of you to think of celebrating my birthday.

Then she got out a camera to take a picture of me blowing out the candle or something. I didn't want the picture, covered my face and asked for no pictures. But they persisted. I left the room. Lied down on the couch, and almost cried to myself. All I wanted was to be left alone. After a minute I came back, they agreed to put away the camera, and I cut the cake...

After the kids went to bed, I went with my aunt to the gym. Had a good workout, then showered and changed and emerged from the locker room feeling good -- to find an exasperated aunt upset at how long I had kept her waiting. I was so pissed and deeply hurt that she would hurry me out of the gym. DOES SHE NOT KNOW THAT I LIVE FOR THIS?!?! Idiot. I ONLY agreed to come to your house because you mentioned that I'd be able to go to the gym. I only got off antidepressants because working out took their place. I'm sorry to keep you waiting, but that's me. I need this. If you don't understand, don't invite me over. I didn't ask to come. I appreciate your offer and invitation, but I'm not flipping my life upside down over it! You might see this as overreacting, and maybe it is, but for some reason it touched me deeply. I was very pained and hurt that she complained I kept her waiting. I think I felt betrayed. I was led to believe she invited me because she cared about me and then to discover that she doesn't begin to understand.

Despite the hurt, it's good it happened because we had a good conversation about it afterward. This type of thing was related to the reason I had felt down last week. I hate feeling like a burden to people, and it bothers me when they complain about me burdening them. But sometimes I can't help it. For me to be me, other people suffer at times. I try to minimize it, but it seems that its impossible to completely avoid. That's why I had written "the world would be better off without me." And she became concerned...

I thought about how much my parents are pained by my lifestyle. I don't want to hurt them. Would they be happier if I were gone? I think they're happier to have me, even as I am, but maybe not. Maybe my whole life is a heavy weight on their shoulders.

My aunt mentioned that Jewish parents sit shiva (mourn) for a child who marries a Gentile. Would my parents really mourn as if I died if I married a non-Jew? If I thought I could find happiness with another person, would they mourn as if I died? It's surreal. What if it was a boy? Jewish boy, non-Jewish boy, I don't know if it makes any difference. If they would mourn my happiness, they obviously don't care too much about me. But could it really be that my parents don't care about me? From everything they say and do it would seem they care a whole lot about me. But perhaps they care about some idealized conceptualization of me, not the real me--with all my flaws.

Another thing that came out of the discussion is how selfish I am. You and I knew that already. My aunt helpfully suggested I could pitch in more around the house, take out the garbage, wash the dishes, help the kids with homework. She's right, I could do more. Maybe that would give me more satisfaction of being a part of the family... tbc

Let me know what you think. I could use some advice. But if you're just going to trash me and bash me I'ma cut you bitch! I'll be happy to ignore it.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Information is the Answer

This effort to regulate alcohol-caffeine beverages is a little silly, considering the ease with which people can and do get an alcohol-caffeine bump without them by simply chasing a beer with a coke, downing a vodka and Red Bull, or simply going out for a coffee following a night of drinking.

The National Association of Attorneys General’s panel on youth access to alcohol said in a letter to the FTC that “a critical goal of our committee is to encourage and obtain direct federal involvement in the removal of these dangerous products.”

What they should do is make alcoholic beverage makers list ingredients, calories, and level of alcohol in their drinks. It's really annoying buying a beer and not knowing how much alcohol or how many calories it contains.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Personal Details

I had a good trip to Atlantic City. I borrowed a car and just drove, without a clear destination in mind. I stopped in a couple of places on the way, at a random campgrounds, some Jersey Shore beaches (Long Beach Island, Asbury Park). Eventually I ended up in AC. I gave myself a walking tour of the place including casinos, bars, beaches, and shops. Then I met a cute guy and some friends of his who invited me over to their hotel. I didn't play any slots or do any gambling. But I did go to the casino with one of the guys and watch him play out $20. The whole slots thing seemed so silly, but it was fun to spend some time together. Watching him enjoy the experience made it special.

This week was J's 20th birthday. Lots of people were away for the summer, but we had a little window-fogging celebration in the back seat, for what it's worth. I didn't actually mean for it to happen that way. We were just hanging out, and then I offered him a ride, and then, yeah.

I'm trying to figure out what, if anything, to do for my birthday - coming up soon.

Administration Backpedals on Tax Promise - Obama's Finally Acting Presidential

"...let me perfectly clear... if your family earns less than $250,000 a year, you will not see your taxes increased a single dime.  I repeat: not one single dime...  Finally, because we're also suffering from a deficit of trust, I am committed to restoring a sense of honesty and accountability to our budget." --Remarks of President Barack Obama to Joint Session of Congress, February 24, 2009.

Well, ObamaCare changes all of that. It must be paid for, after all.

See PoliticalFuzz on new taxes proposed or imposed by the administration since that statement, and Geithner and Summers saying no guarantees re the tax issue. Times they are a'changin, they say.

Kathleen Lyday (Or Somebody Else) Letter

There has been a letter to the President circulating through the interwebs, mostly as an email chain. It raises some interesting points, but the tone is largely too hysterical to facilitate purposeful discussion. One point it raises, however, was so blatantly contradicted by the facts as to call into question some of the other figures in the note.

"I understand the average House aide got a 17% bonus.  I took a 5% cut in my pay to save jobs with my employer. You haven't said anything about that.  Who authorized that?  I surely didn't!" -Kathleen Lyday

"For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies.

It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break; the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours.

It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate." -Barack Obama

See here for full text of the letter.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Gallup Daily

BBC E-mail: 'Organic has no health benefits'

Teddy Douglas saw this story on the BBC News website and thought you
should see it.

** 'Organic has no health benefits' **
Organic food is no healthier than conventionally produced food, a large independent review has concluded.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/2/hi/health/8174482.stm

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Senate was just 2 votes shy of flooding states with concealed weapons


Thune Amendment; Reciprocity for the Carrying of Certain Concealed Firearms - Vote Rejected (58-39, 3 Not Voting)

The Senate could not reach the necessary sixty votes to include this gun provision in the National Defense Authorization Act. The amendment would have allowed citizens who have concealed carry permits from their states to carry concealed firearms in another state that grants concealed carry permits.

But perhaps I shouldn't condemn reciprocity, even if I don't support guns. On other issues, such as marriage, I might support reciprocity.

Monday, July 27, 2009

New Digital Divide: Blacks Nearly Twice as Likely to Have Mobile Web Access

Nearly half of all African Americans and English speaking Hispanics used cell phones or other hand held devices to access the Internet, compared to the 28% of white Americans who do so. Adoption of mobile access to the web by African American on an average day is fast growing; from 12% in December 2007 to 29% by April 2009. By comparison, only 19% of all Americans access the Internet on a mobile device in a typical day. (Kelsey)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Gloat: World's Coolest iPhone App That Wouldn't Work on iPhone

I had a great concept for an iPhone App (though the iPhone platform can't fully support it yet). Maybe it could work on the Pre or Android. It's called Gloat (or maybe iGloat?), because it does just that. Although the programming might be a bit tricky, the end-user interface couldn't be simpler. The app just asks you which sports teams you follow. Then it gloats for you when they win.
  • It looks up your team's schedule, sees when they play, and tracks when they win
  • It looks through your contacts (Facebook friends, IM buddies, Email contacts, whatever it can get a hold of)
  • When your team wins, it immediately messages whichever friends come from the losing team's hometown
Gloat 2.0 (available in time for 2010 NFL season - Sep 2010) can add more advanced features for the sports enthusiast. I figure we could have our software on about 50 million devices by 2013. Then we could add ticket sales, a tie in with a fantasy sports league, and record keeping so you can track who's getting top Gloating rights. It could even suggest which teams to follow (based on team record/standings/your friends' fave teams) to maximize your Gloats. iGloat can also be set to Tweet your Gloats automatically.

In iGloat 3.0 we'll expand it beyond sports. Remember the last time your uncle's neighbor dropped you a stock tip? Note it in iGloat, and she'll get Gloatted when the ticker falls.

Or how about how you have to sit through boring episodes of Runway, Idol, or SYTYCD... Tell iGloat who your favorite contestants are and it will let you know when to tune in (or maybe even serve up the video) and you won't even have to sit through the show to tell your friends all about it. Gloat loves elections, too!

A timetable for launch of iGloat might go something like:
  • Beta version for late October 2009 (start of NBA season)
  • 1.0 should be out 5 months later in time for the (April 2010) MLB season
  • 2.0 coming 5 months after that (Sep 2010) in time for the NFL season
  • 3.0 early 2011, maybe time it with the new season of American Idol

Think iGloat is mean? I kinda agree, but you know you do it anyway, so I might as well automate it (and sell it).

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Live Rent Free

Is this for real? The Caretaker Gazette publishes listings for housesitters. People with houses and nothing to do with them let other people live in them for free!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Are Indoor Pools Bad for Your Lungs?

The chlorine in indoor pools can be detrimental to pulmonary health for competitive swimmers who spend a lot of time at the pool. “When some of our high-school swimmers are going on college recruiting trips, we tell them to follow one simple rule,” says Dr. Jim Miller. “If you walk into the building and can find your way to the pool without directions, don’t go to that school. A smelly pool is, chemically, way out of balance.” If your favorite pool is easy to find, blind-folded, talk to the manager about re-calibrating the amount of chlorine being used or improving the air flow in the facility.

Overall, researchers say, the benefits of swimming for exercise outweigh the risks. As the authors of the Quebec City study of youthful swim racers were careful to point out, only one of the 72 swimmers they studied smoked and none were obese, making them statistical anomalies among the young. “Breathing problems do sometimes develop,” Miller says. “But with rare exceptions, they can be controlled. Swimming remains, in general, very good for you.” (NYT)

Adobe Latest to Not Understand the Web

Sigh. They don't get it, do they? Adobe Wave is not a new thing. It is RSS recycled.

Taxing Healthcare Benefits Shortsighted

A tax on employer-provided health benefits is extremely short-sighted. Rather than pay the tax, many employers would simply trim the benefits they offer. This means the actual revenues the government receives from the program will be far less than projected, and it will also lead to less coverage for employees, greater long-term health complications, reduced quality of life. About the only upside is higher profits for employers who now get away with lower premiums and can blame the government. This too, is short-term, as doctors would suffer from lower payments and seek redress.

Cut coverage for over-the-counter drugs, but enhanced prescription coverage? Does this make sense? Who says prescription drugs are better or more important than OTCs? So now, instead of covering an $11 OTC, you want people to go to the doctor ($75) and get the prescription version ($35) so it will be covered?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Morgan Stanley's Matthew Robson Says Teens Don't Twitter

Fifteen year old Matthew Robson explained in a now-famous Morgan Stanley research note why teenagers don't use Twitter (and neither should you): They actually realize nobody reads their tweets. Before you start to argue, just enjoy the miracle of youth. The kid knows intuitively what adults need extensive research and essays in the Harvard Business Review to point out. OK, now you can argue. Just check out those links first.

Bonus Points: If you had gotten $50 million of free advertising coverage, you'd be popular too.

Leaked internal Twitter documents show the company projects a billion users by 2013. I assume what they mean is a billion sign-ups, not actives.

Repeat After Me: Netflix Good, Redbox Bad

I had thought this went without saying, but then I heard some people have been getting it wrong lately. So I want you all to repeat after me: Netflix Good, Redbox Bad. Say it. Excellent. Again. Well done! One more time. Netflix Good, Redbox Bad.

  • Netflix comes to your door. Redbox makes you wait on line at the supermarket. (After you already waited on line at the supermarket with your groceries. Now you stand by this kiosk, grocery bags in hand, waiting for your turn at the Red Monster.)
  • Netflix knows what you like. Redbox makes you sift through randoms.
  • Netflix never charges late fees. Redbox charges you every day.
  • Netflix has 100,000 choices. Redbox has maybe 200 in the box.
  • Redbox gives you two measly one-day rental promo codes if they rent you a damaged disc. And those only come after you argue with them. Netflix replaces the disc for free.
  • Netflix is cool with you losing the disc sleeve. I shudder to think how a Redbox would take losing the DVD cover. Probably blow a gasket. Literally.
  • Redbox makes a mess of your credit card bill with all its silly little charges. Netflix is just one neat, all inclusive, charge each month.
  • Netflix offers online streaming video. Redbox offers online email spam.
  • Netflix loves you. Redbox is a backwards ATM.

Still not convinced? Here's more evidence: The studios are cutting deals with Redbox. This shows, and you'll love the logic, that they don't believe in it. Redbox is less profitable for the studio than DVD sales or even Blockbuster rentals. So why would the studios support them? To keep Netflix at bay. Netflix they perceive as a threat. They know they can kill Redbox with relative ease if they ever need to. So they're willing to prop up Redbox a bit to control the threat of Netflix while they try to figure out a streaming strategy of their own.

Pssst. Redbox! If you're listening, these are some areas you need to work on.

Yeah, after those shenanigans Amazon pulled this morning, I'm in a slightly Orwellian mood.

Full disclosure: I am not a Netflix employee, nor do I hold positions in Netflix or Redbox parent Coinstar. I have used both services.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mirror Free Does Nothing, But That's OK

In fact, it's even better since bored users are more likely to click on ads. (WSJ)

Gripes

Dear Calvin Klein,

Your underwear ads are famous the world over, but your product does not deliver. Truly, the emperor has no clothes. I recommend 2xist or Jockey.

Dear Wikipedia,

Why is there no simple way to request a new article? Why is the search function so limited? Yes, I know that encyclopedias have traditionally been in alphabetical order by article name, but now that it's online there is a new way to find stuff! It's called Search and Microsoft, Yahoo, or Google will be happy to provide it to you free of charge. So do it!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Yeah they say I'm smart. But what has that really done for the world?

I have this need to feel loved, to feel worthwhile, to feel useful. I need the security of knowing that I'm valuable. I need companionship. I enjoy being able to make someone else happy.

I don't think there is too much to be truly happy about here in this world. Anything good goes away sooner or later. But sex makes people happy. When someone wants to have sex with me I feel useful, I feel like I have something to offer. I feel wanted. I get a companion, if only for a short time. And I can show that person a good time in this bleak world.

Perhaps there is another way that some of you have, dear readers, to feel these things and fulfill these needs.

When I speak, my words are unheard; my written word goes unread. My mind makes no one happy. They say money can't buy happiness. But with my body, I often feel that's my only shot. That can deliver happiness, that can make an impact.

To be continued. Just wanted to note this thought.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

No More Change for Change's Sake

Introducing the Change2Improve movement! Companies that join Change2Improve commit to not change their products unless there is a verifiable improvement or company need. We are currently working to develop standards and sign up partners. Member companies will be able to use the Change2Improve logo on their products. Too many companies have been changing their products for absolutely no good reason and it irritates consumers. Many consumers would prefer to use Change2Improve-certified products, enjoying the security that the familiar products and services they use will not suddenly change around unless there is an actual benefit to them.

Google Finance made some changes today. They are bad.

I don't have time to elaborate, but I want to note that most Google Finance users do not want to be Web Designers. They just want quick, accurate information. I don't need the site to be super-duper customizable. I don't want to spend time customizing. I just want it to be there, what I need, when I need it. It was great before. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. And certainly don't break it for [insert your favorite deity here] sake.

I want my information providers to be like a chef. The chef's job is to choose from different ingredients and cooking methods etc. and prepare the meal in the best way, so it tastes good and leaves you feeling satisfied. I don't want my information providers to be like a well-stocked kitchen which gives me all the options to cook myself a wonderful meal. This is good to have as a backup database, but not for instant basic data.

Also, the new stock charting features with the Bollinger Bands and whatnot is just abhorrent. It could encourage more widespread use of that grotesque technical analysis stuff. Google's supposed to be data-driven and should be above that sort of superstition. Shame on you. What a waste of engineering resources that could have been used to create something useful.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Life Kills

I feel cut off, but at least that means I feel. I feel like shit, but by that thread I feel alive. I had died for so long. I want to meet with people I love and discuss literature, art, movies, feelings. I want to stop being alone. I called in sick at work today. My boss is still away camping, another co-worker on vacation in Florida so I don't know if this was a good time to leave because everyone else is out anyway or if I was supposed to be there to cover. Probably the former, because I don't actually cover for anyone else anyway, just do my own thing. But maybe I'll lose my job over this. Who knows.

The day off allowed me to start thinking; I'm usually just too busy to think about my life. The conclusion is it's rotten. It's empty. Couple days ago I was hangin with a friend (LA Guy) and we saw this cute guy by himself, waiting for his friend apparently. LA Guy called him over and the three of us were chatting. I would have never just gone over to the guy and struck up a conversation myself, too shy. My friend seemed interested in this guy, but in the end I went home with him. LA Guy wasn't thrilled about that. I'll probably ask the guy out next weekend. He probably won't respond to my messages. Oh well. As the popular buzzword goes today, FML. Then went out to a place in Williamsburg the other night, another cute boy came home with me. Yay me. It keeps me alive. But it's only life support. I need something to get me off life support and really living.
I haven't written much lately. And what I write nobody reads. And what they read, it has no impact. I'm invisible. Stop smirking, you're invisible too! Automatons. All of us. FOL. They put a new filter on the computers at work. Facebook is blocked. Now I might as well have no friends.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Safe Eyes filter found leading cause of depression in US teens*

"Parental controls on children's Internet browsing can have the effect of isolating them from social peers, as well as generating feelings of helplessness, alienation, and low self-esteem," explains one depressed Safe Eyes sufferer. "Web filtering software and other content blockers could leave harmful psychological effects."

"Content filtering is a like potent drug," the boy's doctor said. "It can be expected to come along with with some side effects. Parents need to be made aware of that."

"We'll protect our kids even if it kills them," asserts a NetNanny mother from Oklahoma in response to critics. ['Cuz after all, safe dead kids are better than healthy but endangered ones. Oh wait, let me double check that...]

BLACK BOX WARNING**: The Safe Eyes internet filter and other web filtering software has been shown to cause serious adverse effects in some children, adolescents, and adults. Possible reactions include, but are not limited to, headache, nausea, fatigue, depression, family arguments, suicidal ideations, and attempted suicide. If you or anyone you know has been exposed to Safe Eyes, care should be taken to monitor for signs of illness and call your doctor immediately if condition worsens or does not improve after 3 days.

How to protect yourself:
Do not purchase or install Safe Eyes or similar software. In case of accidental ingestion, remove the program using the included uninstaller and then wipe your hard drive and reinstall Windows.*** Better yet, just buy a new computer. Safe Eyes is highly infectious and probably contaminated your entire system. Stay far away. If you are unsure how to proceed, call your Poison Control Center immediately.

In all seriousness, I personally have struggled with internet-filter-onset depression. And I mean clinical Depression. Caused by idiotic meddling in my personal freedom. Anyone who has read this blog knows how dead serious I'm being when I say if I die in the near future, the most likely cause will be related to internet filtering and monitoring.**** People think this is an innocuous way to "protect kids from the dangers of the internet". Think again. It's not innocuous at all. Young peoples' lives revolve around modern technology, like it or not. Learn to deal, OK? Place too many limits on how people can live and they'll realize they just don't want to. Not like that.

*Okay, so I don't have scientific studies to back this up - yet. I do have anecdotal evidence, though. I have my personal feelings.

**This Black Box Warning has not been evaluated or approved by the FDA. It is merely my suggestion for what might be added to notify parents of the risks "child safety" filters entail.

***This should not be taken as professional IT advice. If you or someone you know has this problem, please consult a competent IT professional for advice. My purpose here is just to encourage people to think about the possible negative effects this software may have.

**** In case you were wondering, the good news is it didn't kill me. See 8/17/09 update.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Gmail Sheds 'Beta' Label: Finally buggy enough for full release

Following in the footsteps of software giant Microsoft, Google made sure to add just enough performance issues, annoyances, unnecessary features, and poor support to their product before its official release.

When I first started using Gmail several years ago, I loved it. It was a huge improvement over my old Juno, Yahoo, or Hotmail accounts at the time. It enabled me to manage my inbox in ways I couldn't before, adding Search, Labels, and the conversation view feature that grouped messages more clearly. The spam filter caught most of the junk coming in. Over time, Google has made many useful updates to the service, adding IMAP support and more.

However, email today isn't what it was then. As the amount of email being sent and received has grown, Gmail has failed to keep up. Instead of being a supplementary messaging system, email is ubiquitous. It is also multimedia enabled, or should be. Can you tell me why I can't even copy/paste a photo into an email with Gmail?

Increasingly, Gmail has fallen behind in offering better ways to organize the information in the inbox. As services like Xobni and Xoopit and CC Betty and Gist and yes, even Microsoft, have tried to help users organize the mountain of information streaming into the inbox, Gmail's "innovation" has been limited to gimmicks like skins and other bloatware. I mean, do I really need to play Snake in my inbox? (Yes, for those of you who may have missed it, there is an option in Gmail Labs that allows you to play the old cell phone time waster game Snake inside Gmail.)

At a time when email needs to once again be reinvented, when email should be rapidly evolving and is clearly insufficient in its current form, now is a mighty curious time to take off the Beta label.

Monday, July 06, 2009

On 2nd thought, does "propylene glycol gel" really sound healthier than tobacco?

Not smoking has its disadvantages. So I'm intrgued by these e-cigs I've been hearing about.

I want an e-cig that's just water vapor without the nicotine or flavors or anything. That way, I could have the "cool" factor of smoking, and have something to do with my hands, and have something in my mouth, and have something to do while I hang out with my friends during a smoking break, etc.

Then again, part of the "cool" factor relates directly to doing something illicit and dangerous...


Banning Stuff is the New Education

Last week a federal advisory panel recommended banning America's most popular and effective prescription pain pills, including Percocet and Vicodin.

It's no surprise that these pain relievers are considered dangerous. They contain powerful, habit-forming narcotics like oxycodone and hydrocodone. But that's not the issue. Percocet and Vicodin also contain acetaminophen — you know, Tylenol, that "harmless" over-the-counter pain reliever we pop like candy at the least sign of a headache, sore throat or general malaise.

It turns out that Tylenol isn't all that harmless. Overdoses kill more than 400 people each year and send 42,000 to the emergency room with acute liver failure. And so-called "combination pain killers" account for most of those overdoses.

"The FDA panel is not saying the drugs in Vicodin are bad," said one expert. "They are saying that tying [opioid narcotics and NSAIDs] together is wrong."

By adding acetaminophen to narcotics, combination drugs provide better pain relief with lower levels of narcotic. They are great for short-term use, such as after surgery.

Patients who take these drugs for chronic pain, however, build up a tolerance to the narcotic. As they take more and more, they also take more acetaminophen, and are at risk of liver damage.

Instead, Fishman said, doctors should prescribe the narcotics and acetaminophen separately. More trouble, but a safer option. (Mercury News)

So basically, instead of teaching people the right way to use a drug, the suggestion is just to ban it altogether.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

A new meaning for "Senate Race"

So as the New York State Senate Democrats rushed to complete their Governor-ordered special session in a little time as possible, they were held up by Sen. Craig Johnson's request for a moment of silence. The Dems finished in 3 minutes, 19 seconds. The Republicans got out in just 2 minutes, 28 seconds. For this 2 or 3 minute workday, the Senators will receive wages of $160. Which translates north of $6000 an hour.

The curious thing, though, is the moment of silence. It was intended to commemorate the anniversary of the death of Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, whom Johnson called "one of the greatest spiritual leaders of the past century." Yet to that Rabbi's most devoted followers such a tribute is blasphemy: They believe their leader's not dead. (Daily News article)


Tax to Fund U.S. Healthcare May Kill U.S. Healthcare

The purpose of not taxing employer-sponsored health coverage is to encourage employers to give their employees health insurance. This is a good thing. It makes healthcare more accessible to Americans. This system is the reason so many Americans have health insurance.

The Baucus plan circulating in the Senate disincentivizes employer-sponsorship by taxing it. In response, employers will not spend as much on health insurance. Costs will inevitably shift onto the individual. In addition, the nonsense of "gold-plated better than members of Congress have" plans being excessive - if nobody has any incentive to offer a better plan, insurance companies cease trying to offer them. Competition is reduced. Cost go up acros the board.

Do you know anybody who has complained their health care coverage is too generous?

Individual coverage carries higher rates than company plans and is taxable, all of which increases the burden of health insurance on the individual (and we are all "the individual").

Ultimately most people can't afford this, but fear not: the government will subsidize insurance for "those who cannot afford it".

So in one of the most roundabout ways imaginable, the plan shifts costs from voluntary, tax incentivized, employer-sponsored coverage to direct government sponsorship of more expensive, less effective plans for fewer people.
(see Bloomberg article)