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Wed, May. 21st, 2008, 09:00 am
Memetician has left the building

I've moved over to Blogger. Click here to visit my fancy new digs.

Mon, May. 19th, 2008, 12:12 am
Love-Meet.net et al: Internet sites in Grand Theft Auto 4

"Welcome to Liberty City The center of the known universe, for egomaniacs."
~ The welcome screen at the Grand Theft Auto IV home page.

Wow. The way everyone's going on about Grand Theft Auto IV is comparable to red-staters raving about the return of Jesus Christ. I've yet to drive down the streets of Liberty City, but I do know the websites within the game itself are a scream. The guys who wrote "GTA IV" -- Dan Houser and Rupert Humphreys -- are from England, and they obviously had a total blast perfecting their satire of American culture.


Go ahead. Take the Personality Quiz. Your boss won't notice.

Fri, May. 16th, 2008, 09:50 am
The WASPs are angrily buzzing, "Not In My Back Yard!"

I was on the Cape for the past week where all is peaceful and quaint, including the functional birdhouse down at the post office. So I was surprised when I saw this sign below. I wasn't sure what this was all about:

As it turns out, a wind farm project is in the works for the Cape. Its official name is Cape Wind and its website is here. The turbines, which they want to place out at sea between Hyannis and Nantucket, would provide Cape residents with 75% of all their electricity from a clean renewable energy source. Right now, Massachusetts gets most of its electricity from burning coal, oil, and gas. Yuck.

A [May 12] report from the Department of Energy claims that wind turbines could generate 300 gigawatts by 2030, which would power about 20 percent of the US electrical grid.

The forecasting scenario would require tremendous growth in the wind industry, which currently produces about 17 gigawatts of electricity, or a little over one percent of total capacity.

All by itself, such a change could reduce carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation (think: coal and natural gas plants) by 25 percent and drop water consumption by four trillion gallons. These benefits could be achieved at a cost of about six bucks per person a year, say the report's authors.

The only YES sign I saw all week

Most people in Massachusetts favor the Cape Wind project. Only 14% are against it. And I think they all live in Nantucket, Hyannisport and nearby towns whose south-facing beaches are in view of the turbines. Which, by the way, are six miles out at sea from the Cape. So how visible are they going to be, really? Even Senator Ted Kennedy, whose usually admirable politics are quite lefty and green, is against it. Teddy! Shame on you! And his nephew Bobby Kennedy, a senior attorney at Natural Resources Defense Council and a pioneer in the waterway-protection movement, has also been an outspoken critic of the project as well. That's disheartening.

pestering Bobby Kennedy, who was on the schooner

A book has been written on the Cape Wind project. At the Hyannis Barnes & Noble, there was only one copy buried on a bottom shelf, hardly displayed prominently with the rest of the books in the "Cape Cod" section. What a surprise. Anyway, it's called Cape Wind: Money, Celebrity, Class, Politics, and the Battle for Our Energy Future on Nantucket Sound.

Sooner or later, this project will get passed. It's too bad people have to cop this "Not In My Back Yard" attitude out of selfishness.

Hardly an eyesore

Pictured above, which are barely noticeable, are twenty turbines that Maui just finished installing this year. They provide the island with 9% of its electricity. I took this pic out on Ma'alaea Harbor. Cape residents are squawking about the turbines being noisy (they're not) and an eyesore. They've got to be kidding.

Kidding but not really is this great segment about the whole Cape Wind controversy from Jon Stewart's The Daily Show. Funny stuff.

Tue, May. 13th, 2008, 08:21 pm
Beer now cheaper than gas!


I have not bought gas since selling my Jeep in 2005. And because I ride my bike or take public transportation, I'm unaffected by gas prices.

Just now, I filled up the gas tank of my parents' average mid-sized car. It cost fifty bucks. Holy shit.

Sat, May. 10th, 2008, 07:05 pm
Biking to the Cloisters

Last week when it was seventy degrees and sunny for the first time in a long while, I biked 11 miles up the Hudson River bike path to almost the top of Manhattan. It's flat throughout the ride except for two steep hills near the George Washington bridge. The first hill is cake. But climbing up this second hill here, I downshifted too fast so my chain jammed between gears and the bike abruptly stopped moving and SPLAT I fell onto the ground. What a total jackass move that was. This hill sucks. But I had to laugh at myself.

Off the bike path and onto the street, it's another mile uphill to The Cloisters, which is owned by the Metropolitan Museum. I think it's the highest elevation on the island of Manhattan. I got there around 10:30 in the morning, and it being a weekday, there weren't too many people there that early.

I rented the seven-dollar audio headset guide like a tourist geek since it was my first visit, and spent hours looking at every little thing. It's otherworldly in this place. Most of the pieces date anywhere from from the 1100's to the 1500's.


This silver and stained-glass window was creepy, I thought. And the one below should be titled . . . 

. . . "Boob Job Gone Bad." Hopefully whoever designed this was drawing from his imagination, not from a model.

These belong to the oldest complete set of hand-painted, non-Tarot playing cards in existence. They were beautiful.

This hand-carved rosary bead is only 2 1/8" in diameter. Unbelievable workmanship.

There's a cafe at the Cloisters, which was packed by lunchtime.

Fort Tryon Park that surrounds the Cloisters is a hidden gem that most people in NYC don't know about, much less visit. The place is absolutely gorgeous. Below is a pic looking southwest at the George Washington Bridge.

On the ride home I stopped at a Harlem rib joint called Dinosaur Barbecue and saw a different kind of art in the ladies room.

And after my pulled pork sandwich and  frosty cold beer, I stopped to take a nap in the sun on my way home. Ahhh. What a great day.

Wed, May. 7th, 2008, 09:41 am

Mr. Tenacious and his son

An acquintance of mine is about to send a poem into the New Yorker. He said, "I know I'll probably get rejected, but I might as well aim high." I agreed, and told him that even if they reject it, someone else will love it and publish it.

121 publishers rejected Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance before one of them offered Robert Pirsig a $3,000 advance, telling him that the book had "forced him to decide what he was in publishing for." That was in 1974.

The book has since been translated into 27 languages and has sold over five million copies.

Mon, May. 5th, 2008, 03:03 pm
Eternity is a long time to wear the wrong ring. Don't settle!

" . . . settling requires the awful ability to lie to yourself, which, in my experience takes a lot of work (and drinking) to pull off."
Lisa Gabriele, from her article "Without Ceremony"

I was in the library this morning picking up some books that had come in for me. Behind me in line, I hear a teenage girl say, "This is a travesty!" What teenager uses the word "travesty?" I had to laugh and turned around to ask her what was up. She says, "My teacher will only let us get two books out, but I want to get four. These look so good!" She spots another girl, and asks her what books she's going to check out. It looked like the teacher had dragged her whole public school class to the library, and they were all digging through the stacks for something to read. I also got the feeling it was the first time she'd been to the library, because she asked me where the line was to check out books, etc.

This scene gave me hope for humanity.

Thinking about this teenage girl, and how she's lucky to have a good teacher who encourages her kids to use the library, made me think about how important it is to guide younger people through life. I've given advice countless times to my teenage nephews, and it's a cool feeling when they actually appreciate something new they've learned from you.

On that note, this blog is for young women who are feeling the pressure of the ticking clock  to get married or pop out a kid, or both. My advice is do not rush into this!

In April, The Atlantic published a horrible article that made a lot of waves called "Marry Him! The case for settling for Mr. Good Enough." Basic premise: settle for Mr. Wrong so you can have a kid without too much work. How utterly vomitous. The author writes:

The couples my friend and I saw at the park that summer were enviable but not because they seemed so in love—they were enviable because the husbands played with the kids for 20 minutes so their wives could eat lunch. In practice, my married friends with kids don’t spend that much time with their husbands anyway (between work and child care). So if you rarely see your husband—but he’s a decent guy who takes out the trash and sets up the baby gear, and he provides a second income that allows you to spend time with your child instead of working 60 hours a week to support a family on your own—how much does it matter whether the guy you marry is The One?
That is cold. Like Machiavellian cold.

Countering that stupid point is Lisa Gabriele, a fresh voice of reason, who published on nerve.com a few weeks ago her article (drum roll please) . . .  "Without Ceremony: How I've Managed to Avoid Getting Married for Forty Years." It's a piece that every young woman should be required to read by senior year of high school.

She writes:
Do I actually love this guy, or is he a prize I have won? Am I marrying him to say I got picked? Because this is what people do? So I won't be pitied or scorned? Am I seriously considering spending the rest of my life with this guy, or do I know in the back of my mind that this will end, but that at least I will have been married?

Don't do it. If you know that the guy is not truly who you want to wake up to when you're eighty, then don't be stupid and walk down the aisle with him. Be brave. Be strong. Hold out for the right one.

Sun, May. 4th, 2008, 10:33 am
Petagon Propaganda program: the scandal nobody's talking about

“And for the record, we invited Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, CBS, ABC and NBC to participate, but they declined our offer or did not respond.”  ~PBS NewsHour

There is a huge, shocking political scandal going right now that the mainstream media is not willing to report. Why? Because they played an integral part in it.

Chances are you don't even know about the Pentagon Propaganda program, which New York Times reporter David Barstow broke in an April 20, 2008 piece called MESSAGE MACHINE; Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon's Hidden Hand. After a two year investigation using the Freedom of Information Act to gain access to federal documents, Barstow discovered that the Department of Defense recruited retired military generals and colonels -- many with undisclosed ties to lucrative military contractors -- to spin the Iraq war in a positive light on all the major TV media outlets: ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and CNN. The media can't play dumb, either.

In the article, network officials claimed they were sensitive to potential conflicts of interest, but did not hold their analysts to the same ethical standards as their news employees with regard to disclosing outside financial interests.

The use of these analysts was a glaring violation of journalistic standards. As the code of ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists explains, journalists are supposed to:
  • Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
  • Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
  • Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.
  • Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
  • Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.
  • Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.
  • Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money.

Congresswoman Rosa de Lauro of Connecticut fired off a letter to the the Defense Department's Inspector General which she posted to her website. She also wrote five letters to the presidents of the guilty media companies, demanding an explanation, telling them that "the credibility of your news organization is at stake."

There are 435 members of the House of Representatives -- 233 are Democrats, yet only 40 of them signed her letter backing her up! That is shameful. 

Ariana Huffington writes:

The Times did a brief followup to its original story and, six days later, published a single editorial. Howard Kurtz wrote about the story the next day in his WaPo column and discussed it on CNN. Keith Olbermann and Wolf Blitzer gave it brief mentions. And that's about it.

Why is everyone so afraid to talk about what's going on? Why does Bush and company continue to get away with atrocities without retribution? The current "ostrich in the sand" behavior when it comes to this country's government is reminiscent of the German attitude toward theirs in the 1930s, and look where that got them.

And for the icing on the cake, this is the mastermind behind the scandal:

You can read her book on Google if you want. I couldn't be bothered, because the quotes from the reviews are so ironic, that was enough entertainment for me. "From her years of experience, she offers broad principles on effective communication--most notably, that honesty is better than spin" (Booklist). My favorite quote from the lipsticked pig herself is, "Deliver bad news yourself, and when you screw up, say so—fast!"

Victoria Clarke's Wikipedia entry mentions nothing of the scandal, and the link to her website is (surprise!) not working. So I ventured over to SourceWatch's entry about "Torie, which proved quite informative. Here is the in-a-nutshell paragraph from it:

In early 2002, as "detailed planning for a possible Iraq invasion" began, then-Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Victoria Clarke launched an effort to recruit "key influentials" to help sell a wary public on the war, reported the New York Times's David Barstow in April 2008. Clarke and her senior aide, Brent Krueger, eventually signed up more than 75 retired military officers, who appeared on television and radio news shows as military analysts, and/or penned newspaper op/ed columns. The Pentagon referred to the military analysts as "message force multipliers" or "surrogates," and held weekly meetings with them, which continued at least until the time of the April 2008 Times report.

Fri, May. 2nd, 2008, 11:55 am
LOST recap of "Something Nice at Home"

"Dear, dear! How queer everything is to-day! And yesterday things went on just as usual. I wonder if I have been changed in the night"

    ~ Jack reading Chapter Two of
Alice in Wonderland to Aaron in "Something Nice at Home"

Wow. Last night's Jackcentric LOST got under my skin more than I thought. After watching it, I had a creepy dream that included a ghost banging angrily around, scaring me so badly that I woke up with my heart pounding. Yikes.

Look away if you must.

My guess? Hurley is right. Hurley has always been the voice of reason, the chill dude who keeps a clear head without getting overly emotional or egotistical about the stressfest they've been enduring on the Island. He proved this when he "elected" Sawyer to lead the group when Jack was off and away at Locke's, remember? He could have been all "I'm gonna lead you all," but Hurley's got it going on. So if he says they're dead, I bet they're dead.

However, don't forget whole physics theme introduced with Faraday, who zaps the mouse with radiation at his Oxford University lab back in 1996 in front of Desmond. When it "returns" it has traveled through time, as proven by its ability to run the maze. Perhaps the writers haven't quite "killed" off the Oceanic Six. Perhaps this is a parallel universe, so they can be dead in one yet alive in this one, or they are playing with the idea that time is cyclical, not linear.

Jack continues to bug me with his constant "I'm right and you're wrong" behavior. When Hurley passes on Charlie's message, "Jack, you're not supposed to be raising him," you can tell he's sufficiently freaked out that he is taking Hurley seriously. So to prove Hurley/Charlie wrong, he runs back home and suddenly proposes to Kate, because goddammit, he's going to prove that he is going to raise Aaron.  The proposal is just a side effect of the pissing contest his created in his head. Kate should have stuck with Sawyer, who has become quite a softie. "CLAIRE! CLAAAAAAAAIRE!"

One of Jack's angry utterances seemed weighty with meaning -- occuring when he and Kate are fighting as usual over his Sawyer jealousy. Even from beyond, our sexy southerner continues to irk Jack to no end. Ha! Jack barks at her about Sawyer's deciding to stay on the Island, while Jack instead saved Kate.  Hmm, there's more to this line than meets the eye,  methinks. I wonder if it's Sawyer whom Kate, in a previous episode, refers to later on (chronologically) when we see Jack all strung out at their shady airport meeting when she says, "I have to get back, he's going to wonder where I am." Come back, Sawyer, come back!

And obviously with that drunken cruel, "You're not even related to him!" line, Jack knows he's Aaron's uncle. Who told? Ben?

I love the cynical Ghost Whisperer medium, Miles. His character is begging for more plot-centric  importance when it comes to all these dead people walking around. Looking forward to seeing where the writers take him, hopefully someplace on the Other Side where he can help reveal what the hell is going on!

Thu, May. 1st, 2008, 11:29 pm
BOING! The Indian baby toss

Holy crap! This story hit the 11 o'clock news tonight after LOST finished (great episode, btw). So crazy!

I used to toss my ferrets up in the air using a bedsheet. I'd hold two corners, and a friend would hold the other two corners, and boing boing boing the ferrets loved this game. Wheee!

But this shit takes it to a whole other level. How can you not laugh after you get over the initial shock? Parents who worship at the Baba Sheikh Umar Saheb Dargah temple in western India have been tossing babies for good luck for 500 years without any injuries. So what's the harm? Personally, I love the way they bounce when they hit the sheet.

As far as infant rituals go, it looks like a better alternative to circumcision. At least a whole lot more fun.

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