Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Two things I hate

1. When you pay for someone's dinner because they're a starving young person type and then you run into them at a function at a Hawaiian resort.

2. People who take their off road vehicles down to 7 mph to go over a speed bump.

If I make it through the week without becoming a complete and total misanthrope it will be a minor miracle.

Mahalo, the matrix has you

So I am apparently staying at the most profitable hotel in the world (who knew?). When we arrived here (after 4pm), one of our two rooms was not ready. They told us to come back in two hours. We said that was not okay. So they found another room. (After some considerable delay, I might add.) My traveling buddy went to check into that room, but she needed a king bed and they'd given her a room with two doubles. So then we switched rooms. (And let me add here that one of the rooms was charged at the wrong rate and the other had the wrong check out date.)

Then, of course, I went to set up my computer. We'd asked at the desk about high speed access and they gave us a cable. Thing is--the room is set up for wireless. So I get my wireless card and try to connect. One bar. One of those "the gerbils are running as fast as they can" connections. I can't even connect well enough to pay for connection. So I call the 800 number and talk to the guy who tells me I can get a wireless bridge--that he'll call the front desk and have them send one up.

A little while later I get a call from the hotel. There will be a one dollar fee, the woman tells me, to bring the wireless bridge to my room. Otherwise I can come get it at the front desk.

And here, I need to cut in and underscore that I am here, not for a vacation, but as staff on an event that is filling thousands of rooms here this weekend. Whatever. The lesson we learned today is that one doesn't get to be the most profitable through great customer service or even common sense.

This place is totally like biosphere for the cruise class. It's vast--a compound, you could say. I'm trying not to have Logan's Run anxiety, but I fully expect to wake to find a crystal in the palm of my hand that's gone black.

Today's riddle:
Q: When does "high speed" mean "super slow"?
A: When when you're connecting to the Internet on island time.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Swatting flies with hammers

The latest strategy in combating illegal immigration appears to be simply obliterating border towns so reports AP, in a story titled "N.M., Mexico Agree to Raze Lawless Town" about Bill Richardson's agreement with Chihuahua's governor to level the buildings in Las Chepas (population approx. 35) where immigrants could hide.

You know, I lived through the 80s in DC and the battles to maintain the gentrified atmosphere of some city neighborhoods in the face of a growing population of have-nots. I remember at one point, they tired of the homeless people sleeping on the benches in front of my neighborhood laundromat, so they removed all of the benches. This accomplished two things: first, everyone had to stand while they were waiting for the bus; second, the homeless people slept inside the laundromat. Which is to say, good luck Bill.

Spam of the month

This from A's in box--a personal testimonial in a spam ad for an energy pill:
"I wake up at 6am to make breakfast and help my husband get out the door for work. I drive my daughter to kindergarten and son to his junior high, then the grocery shopping, laundry, house cleaning, my girl scout troop, perhaps a soccer game, cook dinner, help the kids with their homework, and hopefully squeeze in some quality time with my husband. I wake up at 6am the next morning and do an almost identical day. I don't know what I would do without Excell."
– Noel Dawson, Super Mom, Ramona, California
I mean fuck, right? Is it an ad for an energy pill or for hollowpoint bullets that's what I want to know.

Innovation ≠ improvement

BBC reports on animatronic squirrels that will supposedly be an improvement over ringing cell phones. Myself, I fail to see how seeing the hamster dance a dozen times a day rather than hearing a ring tone is a quality of life improvement. Take this, for example:
[F]uture technology needs to "have a deeper understanding of how humans like to interact, what humans want, and eventually what humanity stands for," he said.

"This includes our immediate context, our thinking and our goals, but also our morals and ethics."

. . .

But there are still technologies, he argues, which just do not need to be improved, such as the lift or elevator.

"Although we have had speech recognition for some time now, elevators still have push buttons. It just doesn't make any sense to introduce a more complex interface when what we have is already completely appropriate."

. . .

"For some tasks, though, pressing a button to initiate a certain procedure is better than getting involved in a philosophical discussion with a wise-ass elevator about who is most important in the lift and needs to get where first."
I fear to think, really. Here's the thing--given the state of the nation, the results of the last presidential election, the popularity of talk radio and reality TV and so on, how much can we really expect from artificial intelligence. I'd be satisfied with some real intelligence, myself. If we can teach machines to understand what humanity is and how to make an ethical decision, I vote we turn over the running of the country to them. They'd be way ahead of our current leaders.

Word of the day

The latest in our continuing series of gender-related posts...

Got this last week via email:

Thelyphthoric (adjective)

Pronunciation: [the-lêf-'tho-rik or thee-] Listen

Definition: (Obsolete) Corruptive of the morals of women.

Suggested Usage: There are obvious religious applications of today's word: "The parson warned the congregation of the thelyphthoric effects of Britney Spears' new video." But the layman will find uses for it, too: "Finding it less time-consuming than plying the young ladies with libation, Giuseppe soon learned that paying them gratuitous compliments was more efficient for swaying them to his thelyphthoric ends."

Etymology: Today's word was the creation of Martin Madan, who wrote in 1780 "Thelyphthora or, A treatise on female ruin: in its causes, effects, consequences, prevention, and remedy." Madan put this word together from Greek thelus "woman" + phthora "destruction, ruin." Both Greek words have resisted efforts of etymologists to dissipate their mystery.


So it occurred to me this week that the reason I've been feeling pretty ungrounded lately is, in fact, because I have spent way too much time in the air recently. I leave tomorrow for Hawaii. (Before anyone gets too envious let me add that this is a work trip and, as anyone who's traveled for work knows, the inside of one convention center/Hilton seems much the same as another regardless of where in the world you are.) I get back from Honolulu Tuesday morning and then Thursday morning I leave for Albuquerque. I return from there Sunday and I'm very much looking forward to trying to make it a whole month without leaving California. Though that's still in question as there is a prospect of a cross-country road trip with A (ABQ-DC) sometime late September/October-ish, with a short DC visit and then a flight back. We'll see.

The good news in all of this is that I have enough miles for a trip to Europe. Still mulling over whether to keep saving for New Zealand or just spend them in the spring going back to A-dam or somewhere.

What all of that amounts to is that there will be no blogging next week. If I get any time to do something besides work 17 hour days I will not be spending them posting things. In the meantime--as in right now--I will try to catch up a little. I have a bunch of choice tidbits in the in box sent from various sources.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Well, I'm glad we cleared that up

Via the Bitch comes the news that men are, in fact, more intelligent than women. So says science. This from The Australian:
Men are more intelligent than women by about five IQ points on average, making them better suited for tasks of high complexity, according to the authors of a paper due to be published in the British Journal of Psychology.

Genetic differences in intelligence between the sexes helped explain why many more men than women won Nobel Prizes or became chess grandmasters, the study by Paul Irwing and Richard Lynn concludes.

They showed that men outnumbered women in increasing numbers as intelligence levels rose. There were twice as many with IQ scores of 125, typical for people with first-class degrees.

When scores rose to 155, associated with genius, there were 5.5 men for every woman.
Lucky thing I left academia, that's what I'm thinking. Those tasks of high complexity...they're just so hard!

I think my favorite part of the article is the lead-in: "HALF the population will dismiss this story--but..." The assumption being, of course, that all of the men reading this will agree with it. Yeah.

I guess I need to go over and apologize to the trolls on Eponymous' blog.

Brain food

I am such a sucker for this kind of thing:

Sushi flash drives courtesy of Popgadget.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Oh dear

AP sez:
A new Washington University study shows the part of the brain used to daydream is the same where Alzheimer's disease develops — in some people — later in life. It suggests the normal brain activity of daydreaming fuels the sequence of events leading to Alzheimer's.
I'm so fucked.

Career opportunities

Silly me. I spent so many years aquiring a PhD, when I could have just gone this route.

The historical roots of local fetish

I've often said that LA distinguishes itself from, say, an east coast city by its relationship to transportation:

In LA, cars are extensions of bodies and feet are objects of art.

Well, Andrea just sent evidence that there are longstanding historical roots to this phenomenon. From the BBC news story "Bones reveal first shoe-wearers":
"The oldest shoes in the world are about 9,000 years old, and they're from California," said Professor Trinkaus, of Washington University in St Louis, US.

More on pots and kettles

From Bush's speech in Idaho today:
In the end, the terrorists will fail because they have nothing positive to offer. The terrorist Zarqawi sums up their appeal this way: Anyone who stands in the way of our struggle is our enemy and target of the swords. That's the sum of his grim vision. They're brutal, but nothing more. They seek to exploit a great religion, but in truth, they are animated by nothing but their own lust for power and their desire for dominion over others. And while they may sow death and destruction for a time, the history of the last half-century is clear -- the will to power cannot withstand the will to live in freedom. (Applause.)
What to say really?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Birthday pics

More substantive blogging will resume later today. In the meantime, this one's just for Rook by request.

M, A, J, and me in Santa Monica Sunday

Banana cream birthday pie

Monday, August 22, 2005

Comment of the month

Amber wins the blog commenter of the month award. And I credit this not because she was kind enough to give me kudos over on her blog, but just because it's so damn quotable:

Me: . . . Seriously though, has anyone else noticed that the thing that really gets long comments strings on Ep's blog tends to be debates among men (and Amber--I'm not ignoring you) over feminism?

Eponymous: Well, I'd prefer it if we had plenty of women here discussing this, but my most verbose posters tend to be male. Sorry.

Amber's comment: I know enough to duck and cover when I'm about to be beaten about the head and shoulders with 20 angry penises.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

The only one in the country

My present from Andrea. I'm thinking I need to start inviting dates over for dinner more.

Thursday, August 18, 2005


The whole "your body is a temple" thing? It's a metaphor, folks. It doesn't mean you should go adorning yourself like you're the Sistine Chapel or something. (Who even knew there was a Christian Tattoo Association?)

Though I'll admit, I do like some of them.


That's how many dead bodies were brought to the Baghdad morgue last month, according to Truthout. Before we rescued the country from senseless violence, the total for the month was generally fewer than 200. (For more on the carnage levels, see Iraq Body Count.)

Truthout also reports on an Afghan detainee who was beaten so badly his muscles split apart. Thank heavens the reservist being tried was just acting on his own volition and this isn't part of a pattern of abuse, huh?

And then there's shrub and his Parisian vacation and refusal to meet with C.S. I mean, for fuck's sake. I read in today's story about "the protest mom" (this particular positioning really does make my head explode--hello nineteenth century):
Some critics say Sheehan is exploiting her son's death to promote a left-wing agenda supported by her and groups with which she associates.
I'm not even going to get into the latest truly loony editorial from Ann Coulter in which she counters Sheehan's accusations by waving the 9/11 card. (Um, and this has exactly what to do with any of this, Ann?) But I will ask: since when is it a "left-wing agenda" to object to thousands of dead and countless more torture victims? If there are any right-wingers out there reading this, I want to say I pity you if this is now a "left-wing agenda." I really do. May god, or whatever, have mercy on your pathetic souls.

Humor or prophesy?

You make the call.

When the history of bad smells is written

There will be an entire chapter titled "The Elevator in Travis' Building."

The building is only three stories tall--truly I am mystified at how the smell of fish could get embedded into the elevator at a molecular level in what could have only been a short journey. It's like some fish crawled into the wall and died there.

40 is the new 30


My birthday is Sunday. I haven't really been relishing the approach of this one. My sisters both tell me life begins at 40, and god knows, Travis got her groove back this year. Nonetheless, I've been in cringe mode.

So yesterday I got carded for cigarettes. I wanted to lunge across the counter and give the clerk a big sloppy wet kiss.

Then at the Dinosaur Jr. show last night, P scored us prime backstage viewing spots. We're waiting for the band to go on, and this guy is sort of skulking around giving me and P the eye. Wouldn't you know he's the bassist.

Maybe it's not so bad afterall. That's where I'm at today.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Keeping the skies safe

I don't know about anyone else, but I sure am glad those homeland security folks are on the case. Just because a passenger on a flight may be too young to have mastered language and still drinking breast milk, doesn't mean he or she should expect to just roll by with no questions asked if their name is on a list. I've seen Family Guy; I know what those babies are capable of.

The rush to the bottom

Remember that remark by Vicente Fox that Mexicans take American jobs that even blacks don't want? Remember the outraged reaction from some folks? Well, Farrakhan seems to have realized the wisdom in ceding the bottom of the food chain spot.
Although Fox was sharply criticized for his remarks by some black leaders, Farrakhan said Sunday that blacks do not want to go to farms and pick fruit because they already "picked enough cotton."
Really, it's almost beyond salvation through irony.

Friday dementia blogging

Appropos of nothing except I came across it again just now, here is a gem of a passage from Jonathan Franzen from The Corrections:
Alfred was standing in the master bedroom wondering why the drawers of his dresser were open, who had opened them, whether he had opened them himself. He couldn't help blaming Enid for his confusion. For witnessing it into existence. For existing, herself, as a person who could have opened these drawers.

"Al? What are you doing?"

He turned to the doorway where she'd appeared. He began a sentence: "I am --" but when he was taken by surprise, every sentence became an adventure in the woods; as soon as he could no longer see the light of the clearing from which he'd entered, he would realize that the crumbs he'd dropped for bearings had been eaten by birds, silent deft darting things which he couldn't quite see in the darkness but which were so numerous and swarming in their hunger that it seemed as if they were the darkness, as if the darkness weren't uniform, weren't an absence of light but a teeming and corpuscular thing, and indeed when as a studious teenager he'd encountered the word "crepuscular" in McKay's Treasury of English Verse, the corpuscles of biology had bled into his understanding of the word, so that for his entire adult life he'd seen in twilight a corpuscularity, as of the graininess of the high-speed film necessary for photography under conditions of low ambient light, as of a kind of sinister decay; and hence the panic of a man betrayed deep in the woods whose darkness was the darkness of starlings blotting out the sunset or black ants storming a dead opossum, a darkness that didn't just exist but actively consumed the bearings that he'd sensibly established for himself, lest he be lost; but in the instant of realizing he was lost, time became marvelously slow and he discovered hitherto unguessed eternities in the space between one word and the next, or rather he became trapped in that space between words and could only stand and watch as time sped on without him, the thoughtless boyish part of him crashing on out of sight blindly through the woods while he, trapped, the grownup Al, watched in oddly impersonal suspense to see if the panic-stricken little boy might, despite no longer knowing where he was or at what point he'd entered the woods of this sentence, still manage to blunder into the clearing where Enid was waiting for him, unaware of any woods -- "packing my suitcase," he heard himself say. This sounded right. Verb, possessive, noun. Here was a suitcase in front of him, an important confirmation. He'd betrayed nothing.
I know people razz Franzen for turning up his nose at Oprah, but the man can write, okay? That's really all I ask of an author. If you're going to be a literary snob, at least be a literary snob who writes well.

When is a bargain not such a good deal?

This from AP yesterday:
A rush to purchase $50 used laptops turned into a violent stampede Tuesday, with people getting thrown to the pavement, beaten with a folding chair and nearly driven over. One woman went so far as to wet herself rather than surrender her place in line.
This is what we've come to. Not Pete Townsend and the Who--Steve Wozniak and Apple. Sigh.

The woman wet herself. Once again, I'm thinking can we just hurry up and blow ourselves to kingdom come? Please. I think we're ready really.

(As an aside, in searching for an article about the Who show, I ran across this AP short list of stampede deaths for the more morbid trivia buff among us.)

I was wrong...

Maybe there are good reasons to get an SUV afterall.

From yesterday's BBC News:
Confused lions 'hunt' small cars

Small cars driving through a safari park in Merseyside have been chased by confused lions who think they are prey.

Staff at Knowsley Safari Park are monitoring smaller vehicles, including Smart cars and Mini Coopers, after the lions started paying special interest.

David Ross, park manager, told the BBC News website that a group of lionesses chased after one Smart car after being confused by its compact appearance.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

What god would make this?

Alongside today's stories about teaching intelligent design in the classroom is the news that South Carolina is trying, in essence, to eliminate Medicaid. Instead of guaranteed health services for the poor, SC wants to create private accounts where some sum of money (determined by age, sex, and physical health) would be deposited and the recipients can use the money for insurance or to pay for health care directly. If they use it up, that's that. AP reports:

South Carolina's request is based on the belief that Medicaid has created little incentive for frugality. Rather, it has created incentives for beneficiaries to seek health care services without regard for the costs.

. . .

[C]onservative think tank analysts applaud the South Carolina plan. Devon Herrick, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, said the plan promotes personal responsibility.

"If they've made wise choices, they might have money left over," Herrick said. "If they've made poor choices, it might take some money out of their pockets."
You hear that all you South Carolina poor people? You're going to have to stop being so frivolous and thoughtless about your health care choices. I mean, that chemo treatment you're getting--did you even shop around? I'll bet you didn't. I'll bet you just accepted the first offer that came your way. I hear Wal-mart is cutting back prices on cancer treatments. And those emergency room visits. A bit excessive don't you think? Every time there's a serious injury, you just rush into the hospital without stopping to think first whether you could staunch the flow of blood with some household item.

You better wise up.

Sheesh, those poor people act like everyone's got the right to life or something. Only fetuses (feti?) get it for free, folks; you've got to earn it. Make some better choices, will you? Contracting diabetes? Hep? Cancer? Bad choices. Really bad.

News like this makes me wonder how anyone can believe in intelligent design. If the theory holds that the world is too complex a place to have happened by accident/evolution, what about the obvious conclusion that the world is too venal and repulsive to have been the masterwork of an omnipotent being?

I've said it before, and I'm saying it again now: if there were such a thing as intelligent design, I am certain we are the beta-test. A failed experiment at best. You've got to know that god rejected the whole free-will thing after building Earth. It seemed like a good idea on paper, but in its execution it just didn't work out.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Like a hole in the head

If you want to learn how to build a house, build a house. Don't ask anybody, just build a house.

Christopher Walken (from Walken for President 2008)

From the Press Release:

Said the Queens native, "I have always been a follower of politics. My father was friends with the mayor of Schodack (NY) back in the 1940's. We would walk the streets of Schodack and the people, they would wave to him. The children adored him. That is what I love to be, a man of respect and love."

Cosmic tea leaves

I am one of those people at once excessively rational and extremely superstitious. I am someone who never, ever says out loud "Well, things couldn't possibly get worse," because I am certain that the god I don't believe in is listening and will immediately step in to prove me wrong.

So this morning I am grumpy. It's overcast and gloomy. I didn't get enough sleep. Monday seems to have come way too quickly. I'm making my grumpy way through the courtyard in my building and I see a hummingbird. This I take as a good sign--like a shooting star. Maybe the day won't be so bad after all.

Then, I get this link via email from Andrea, who doesn't even know about my hummingbird emissary.

Not buying a lottery ticket today.

Friday, August 12, 2005

A bunch of geniuses, I tell you

So for whatever reason, I haven't had much taste for blogging these past few days. I think the preponderance of news stories about Cindy Sheehan has actually depressed me a little. Don't get me wrong; I admire her and I'm really glad that she's caught the media's eye and managed to infuse news coverage with an antiwar and antiBush sentiment, but it discourages me that only human interest stories seem to garner this sort of attention. And there's a way in which some of the coverage does seem to translate the problems of this war and this administration into a human interest story.

But that's my dark way of seeing things.

Regardless, despite my amotivational blogging syndrome, I did want to pass along the "no shit, Sherlock" headline of the day: "Vehicle Armor Saving Lives in Iraq." It's hard to even know what to say. That together with "Bush Motorcade Passes War Protesters" give today's AP headlines the feel of The Onion on an off day to me. Not gonna be giving out a lot of Pulitzers based on this week's reporting, I'm guessing.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Night of the falling stars

The Perseids are tonight and tomorrow night (the peak being actually during the day tomorrow). Just FYI in case anyone else is a meteor shower fan. Of course, I am superstitious enough that I think of it as good luck when I see a shooting star/meteor, and so a good meteor shower can feel almost like too much of a good thing (like that "may you live in interesting times" curse).

How you know it will be a good day

Yesterday morning my drive to work was truly the day the music died. I could find nothing on the radio except commercials and insipid djs talking about stupid things. Today, on the other hand, I turned on the radio and the dBs' Amplifier came on. What a great damn song, really. I admit a penchant for pop songs about despair, and it's almost the Platonic ideal of the form. Once, a million years ago, I made a mix tape (before CDs, when dinosaurs roamed the earth) consisting solely of dance music about depressing and desperate things. I may have even been inspired by Amplifier. Songs I can remember on the tape: Trouble Funk--Drop the Bomb, Zounds--More Trouble, Bonzo Goes to Washington--5 Minutes, REM--It's The End Of The World As We Know It, The Jam--Town Called Malice, and so on.

Am I wrong in thinking the 80s was really the best era for club songs about the end of the world?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Further thoughts on the sonic boom

Apparently much of southern California thought this morning's sonic boom was gunshots. Having lived in DC during the 80s I did not make such a mistake (I'm clear on what gunshots sound like). I did, however, think for just a moment that the rapture had come. Imagine my disappointment when I found out it was the shuttle landing. I was so excited about the prospect of a new car.


Some days you just know Mercury is retrograde without even checking.

Today, for instance:

First of all, my allergies are so bad I feel like I have lupus. If I break out in a butterfly rash across my cheeks, I will hardly be surprised.

Second of all, I had an instant where I thought a project I was working on was almost done, but then got new information which meant the text needs revising, and several new images need to be added.

The task is made more difficult by the fact that I have not been trained on the new scanning software, and the folks who can use it are in a meeting.

And even if I could use the scanner, no one can locate the single copy of the text I need to scan--the rest of the copies being in Iran.

All of the above, which is not that unusual really, is brought into relief by the fact that I was awakened by a sonic boom at 5 a.m.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Make self love, not war

In searching for something else entirely I came across this rather unbelievable piece in Harper's Readings. Apparently, a sex toy shop in Edison, NJ opted to send 36 vibrators to Iraqi women "for humanitarian reasons." Harpers has some of the accompanying letters:
Dear Iraqi Woman,

As the bombs and molten death rain unmercifully upon your homeland, know that there are those of us, in various corners of the world, who sympathize with what you are going through.

Although there is very little that I myself can accomplish to stop the invasion of our homeland, know that I am helping to send you various sexual toys and well-wishes in a show of solidarity. The Prophet (just like all religious figures) preaches patience, and I believe that your suffering will be short-lived.

Soon your precious oil reserves will be plundered, and our country will no longer be important. A local despot will gain power, and the great cycle will continue. Enjoy your vibrator while you can. When my fellow Americans leave your country, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to enjoy it much longer.
I admit, I read things like this and I think, "Can we just hurry up and blow ourselves to bits already?" Oy fucking vey.

Headline of the day

Once more, perfectly good grant money goes to prove the obvious.

Why life isn't as good as Star Trek

Life continues apace. My in box is crammed full of bloggable news and tidbits, but sadly I am still seeking the warp in the time-space continuum. (This together with the shoemakers' elves being the two cruelest myths in my adult life--the two things that I fantasize about regularly.) I leave for a work trip to Hawaii in three weeks and all hands are on deck here prepping. It's beginning to feel excessively surreal in my life--an if-it's-Tuesday-this-must-be-Berlin kind of feeling. Two weeks ago Sunday, for instance, I was in Dublin and said to a British friend there, "I'll see you Thursday in LA," which I did. This morning, I emailed a Dubliner friend to see if he'd left for LA yet. Saturday I ran across an old friend visiting from Minneapolis and said to her, "I'll see you in a few weeks in Hawaii."

Last night Andrea and I were talking about her plans to come here (from Albuquerque) in ten days. She said she was leaving for DC as soon as she gets back. "Does that mean you won't be able to go to Greece with me in October?" I whined. "No, I'll just leave from JFK if I need to. We can meet up in NY."

It's like that. Someone, I can't remember who, identified the feeling perfectly for me. She said it feels like you're on Star Trek, coming back to the Enterprise but you're not all the way beamed back. Like you're there, but your particles are still fuzzing around. That's exactly how I feel lately.

(Update: as soon as I wrote this, I sent an email responding to a new Russian friend I met in Dublin last month and ended it with "See you in Hawaii." Life is strange.)

(Update number two: Conor's response to the Star Trek metaphor: "Yes, yes, yes, that's exactly what it's like--walking back from a stroll this evening I thought 'Tomorrow week I'm going to the Aran Islands to finally wind down' and then had the sub-thought 'and between now and then I'll be to LA and back...' at this stage my soul is, I think, rather than traveling at the pace of a walking camel, huddling somewhere near Newfoundland, hoping to find a less ballistic host...")

Thursday, August 04, 2005

More from Ireland

The Wilde statue to which I referred below

With one of the accompanying quotes

Oh my god this is cool

Via Conor comes the link to BookCrossing, where you register your books and then leave them in some public place for other people to read and log and so on...I was shocked to see that my own Northridge, California has 16 spots where books have been "released into the wild."

The site is great. There is a link to the most traveled books, one of which is the EuroBookCrossers' Diary #1. What a cool idea is that. It's like some sort of wired exquisite corpse journal.

Call me Ishmael

From Janet comes this NMTE exclusive snap all the way from a Kingsland, New Zealand shopping center.

Note that the Star of David is comprised of toothbrushes.

What she said

Andrea forwarded this paragraph from Danielle Crittenden's post on the Huffington blog, and I thank Danielle for articulating exactly how I've felt this past week:
So I go away on a two-week vacation, and in my absence the second London bombing occurs, a judge is nominated to the Supreme Court, the IRA declares peace, British police subsequently round up all the bombing suspects (including shooting to death a wrong one), the attempt to "impeach" Rove sputters, a goaded Nicole Kidman announces she is giving up acting to find love, and Jane Fonda revives her sell-out Vietcong act of the 1970s in a cross-country bus tour denouncing Iraq. Bush appoints Bolton during the recess, and King Fahd dies. For a blogger it's a little like coming home to a huge pile of laundry.
Strangely enough, she's also returning from a trip to Ireland; though she was biking, and you know I sure wasn't.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

One of my fetishes

No, it's nothing titillating--sorry.

I have this thing for those warning signs with the silhouettes of people on orange or yellow backgrounds. You know, like the ones on coke machines that show the little shadow man getting crushed to death because of tilting the machine to get his change, or the ones on electrical equipment that show the lightning bolt frying shadow man.

Well here's a really good one from Ireland

Warning: you may be able to walk on water here.

Rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated

Okay, I didn't fall off the face of the planet. It's just been pretty unruly here, trying to live my life lately. Work has been at a break-neck pace and it took me much longer to recover from that stuff combined with the travel/jet lag than I'd anticipated. Everyone in my life is feeling neglected, and I'm still feeling a lot like I'm grinding my gears a good part of the time.

But all of that said, I think it's past time to return to blogging. Folks have been sending me all manner of bloggable items. For now, I will merely call your attention to the recent study that concluded that men who feel like their masculinity is threatened are more likely to support the Iraq war, want to drive an SUV, and be homophobic (okay that's troublesome parallelism, but I don't care). I guess those conclusions pretty fall into the "no duh" category, but it seemed worth sharing nonetheless:
Participants were randomly assigned feedback that indicated their responses were either masculine of feminine.

The women had no discernible reaction to either type of feedback in a follow-up survey.

But the guys's reactions were "strongly affected," Willer said today.

"I found that if you made men more insecure about their masculinity, they displayed more homophobic attitudes, tended to support the Iraq war more and would be more willing to purchase an SUV over another type of vehicle," said Willer said. "There were no increases [in desire] for other types of cars."

Those who had their masculinity threatened also said they felt more ashamed, guilty, upset and hostile than those whose masculinity was confirmed, he said.
A discussion here at work about this article led to this conversation:

"So we all know why men buy big trucks and SUVs, but why do women?"

"Protection. It's like a big egg carton."