Sunday, August 29, 2010

The billionaire Koch brothers’ war against Obama:


Not that many people would care, given Obama's approval ratings, but I found this fascinating -- the millions poured into various causes supported by Obama. From healthcare to environmental regulation, their money has been there. And everything they support supports their business. Fascinating profile in the New Yorker. Take a look if you have time. Regardless of what side of the political spectrum you're on, it's always good to know where the money trail stars and ends.

The billionaire Koch brothers' war against Obama

Saturday, August 28, 2010

"Were You Born on the Wrong Continent?": America's misguided culture of overwork


Interesting article. It's always good fun to tease Europeans about their extensive vacations, how parts of the Continent just seem to flee in the summer months to cooler climes, but really, would you want four weeks or more of paid vacation? I know *I* would. Anyway, so this was an interesting interview to read. Were You Born on the Wrong Continent? America's misguided culture of overwork

We got awesome news today when we went to see the apartment folks about our lease. They let us know that our neighbors "could not renew and will be moving out." Hooray! Our neighbors have been a drunk party in our side for nearly the year we've lived here. We're actually convinced they only come home Friday and Saturday because Sunday through Thursday they're quiet as cockroaches. Come Friday night though, WHOO HOO! PAHR-TEE-TIME!

Our place is not that far from the new hip strip to get alcohol here in Sweat Sock City. We think that's the attraction for our neighbors because they clearly entertain every weekend (music comes on around 9:30 pm and goes on until midnight or later) and then go out afterwards. Once, on our way to the gym at 9 in the morning, we actually saw them coming home from wherever it was they were partying. And they were talking about going out again by lunchtime. J and I looked at each other and groaned and then decided to run lots of miles so for sure we'd sleep through whatever ruckus they made that night.

We thought about moving but we really like the location. It's perfect for both of our commutes and it's in the neighborhood we'd eventually like to buy in. We also frequent the local businesses in the area and chain restaurants take a back seat to locally owned places. In other words, it's great for now except for the neighbors of doom. We happily renewed because we now know we will be able to enjoy weekend nights without the pounding bass and random shouting. We do, however, feel bad for these guys' future neighbors.

I think it's important to be prepared for a job interview. That means wearing the right (appropriate) clothes, completely researching the company (including using google news for any new developments, and having at least three questions about the company and/or job already prepared. Here's a link to help with the last bit. The 10 Best Questions to Ask at a Job Interview. It goes without saying that if you're going to ask a question about the company, try to avoid obvious ones like what the company does or where it's headquartered. Your research should have already revealed the answer to those questions. A safe bet? "Where do you see the company in five years?" As always, in a first interview, stay away from salary, benefits, etc., type questions.

Friday, August 27, 2010


We're trying our first Groupon experience tonight. I bought a $20 gift certificate to a restaurant we've been interested in trying for a while for the price of $10. So theoretically, it's a "buy one, get one free" deal, or a 50% deal. That's if we stay in the $20 range (which, btw, doesn't include tip or tax, and this particular deal doesn't include alcohol). Now if we spend an additional $10 for $30 worth of food, then we go over and our savings decrease accordingly. By then, I'll have $20 and our savings will be $10, or about 33 percent. If I spend an additional $30 on a $40 bill, then the savings decrease again. All in all, we'll see how it goes tonight. Luckily, this isn't an expensive place, so I think we'll probably spend an extra $5 or so on tax and tip. I'm just curious as to how these things work so I thought this would be a good one to try. If anyone else has tried and liked, let me know!

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Interesting opinion piece: Five Reasons to Stop Worrying About Home Prices. On the flip side, Is Housing Still a Good Investment?
On a lighter note

I keep meaning to update the sidebar on this blog, but I never do. Maybe this weekend... lots of computer activities planned so maybe I'll have the discipline to a) stay away from Facebook games, b) update all the software on the computer, and c) finishing the blog transfer from the domain.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying a nice crisp buzz off this wine, a green wine from Portugal. It's sweet, crisp, and I actually felt refreshed. Most of the time, wine just makes my mouth dry out and then I sneeze. A lot (I blame the tannins). But this wine was genuinely delightful and I like the price -- as low as $4.49 -- a lot. So if you're looking for something with a little bit of a sparkle, this might be a good one to try.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I was planning to stay away from politics a bit, but I found this article on Roger Ailes, the founder of Fox News, fascinating. Check out The Dark Genius of Fox News. Honestly, I think everyone on Fox News looks like they've eaten something bad and are suffering from perpetual heartburn. Must take a lot of energy to stay that chronically angry all. the. time. (I can't say anything about Keith Olbermann because I don't get MSNBC but I suspect he must also be suffering the ill effects of dyspesia).

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Happy Birthday, 19th Amendment!

Happy Birthday, 19th Amendment (And thanks to Harry T. Burns mom). Reading the stories of the women's suffrage movement reminds me that progress takes time (in this case, more than 70 years) and guts.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


The anatomy of a firestorm. How a project in Manhattan went from basically being ignored and in a couple of instances, supported by the very people who are now attacking it. Intriguing. How the ground zero mosque fear mongering began.

I had another post planned for tonight, but a headache is preventing clarity of thought and a rogue mouse (read: laptop touchpad) is making words and letters move around on their own volition. All this to say, I'm pointing you to, which is an interesting news magazine. I haven't decided what I think of it yet, just that I'm intrigued. I think it's libertarian, but not quite sure yet. There are some articles I'd consider socially conservative and others that would be liberal. Most of all, it's rational and in this crazy summer, rational is good.

Friday, August 13, 2010

News blues

Our local station -- which once featured an adorable but utterly useless weather dog named Radar -- is reporting on mailboxes that were installed backwards. You have to feel for the poor field reporter spending time interviewing people about their mailbox confusion and investigating WHAT HAPPENED TO HAVE MAILBOXES INSTALLED BACKWARDS (you just know she never anticipated this kind of story when she went to J-school or maybe she's grateful that she's not standing in the surf in the middle of a hurricane; mailboxes are, after all, less dangerous).

After the three-minute story concluded (featuring lots of people parking, getting out of their cars, and mailing letters and letting the reporter know they were confused), the anchors went on their Facebook page and started reading viewer comments (which, btw, is the new "thing" for this news station. Highly annoying as no one is as witty or funny as they think they are on Facebook).

Backwards mailboxes. Hard hitting stuff. It's right up there with the breaking news story from a few years ago about how filthy movie theaters are. And oh, wait! After their commercial break, they're coming back with a story about a dog in a wheelchair... I have no words.

Scanning for reviews of "Eat Pray Love", I came across this one in Vanity Fair. It's quite amusing and not your usual paint by the numbers review. Enjoy.
Uh oh

Obama supports the Muslim community center/mosque near Ground Zero. My Magic 8 Ball tells me all hell is going to break out now.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


I found the following paragraph in Judge Walker's ruling hilarious:

Proponents also point to harm resulting from “a cloud of uncertainty” surrounding the validity of marriages performed after judgment is entered but before proponents’ appeal is resolved. Doc #705 at 10. Proponents have not, however, alleged that any of them seek to wed a same-sex

Poor Prop 8 supporters. It seems they might have been able to make a better case for themselves if they insinuated they wanted to marry someone of the same sex and in which case, "the cloud of uncertainty" would have certainly caused them harm.

I also found the Judge's thoughts on whether the Prop 8 supporters even have standing to bring an appeal interesting. The real defendents are Schwarznegger and Brown, but they couldn't be bothered to show up (in fact, are actively siding with the plaintiffs), so now the B-team is taking the ball and trying to run with it. If the Prop 8 supporters weren't so annoyingly self-righteous and illogical, I'd actually feel sorry for them.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Take this job and shove it!

Take this job and shove it!

A Hong Kong news station has kindly provided a re-enactment of the JetBlue incident.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Seriously lame

I usually have high respect for the Christian Science Monitor, but I can't believe they published an article like this one. Okay, maybe I can see it -- looking for opposing opinions, and may be even a fresh take, and this is seriously one of the weirdest spins I've seen on the issue. In Gay marriage: Why Judge Walker got Proposition 8 ruling wrong, the author argues: Marriage is not about couples or lovers – it’s about the physical and moral integrity of women. When a woman’s sexuality is involved, human communities must deal with a malign force that an individual woman and her family cannot control or protect. WTF? The author then goes on to conclude, "[...] most of us who prefer to leave marriage (with all its defects) as it is are not concerned with homosexuality at all. We are merely voicing a sensible desire to preserve an institution that recognizes and protects the special status of women. If marriage becomes a legislative courtesy available to everyone, like a key to the city, it will be women who will lose."

This argument, so charmingly chauvinistic, is laughable in every way. "Special status of women"? Really? That's what this whole thing has been about? After reading this opinion, I feel like I ought to be standing on a marble pedastal or something like that, with a plaque, maybe some safety glass and someone nice to come and dust me off every now and then just in case a spec of dirt hurts me. It's an insulting argument in every way and makes no sense; we're in 2010, after all, and we women seem to have come far ahead in our abilities that three of us sit on the Supreme Court, a woman was a credible candidate for president, and one serves as Speaker of the House. Those are just the headlines. There are awesome women -- some of whom are (gasp!) single -- making extraordinary contributions every single day, seemingly unaware of their "special status". It's insulting in this day and age to read something like this. I'm surprised the CSMonitor allowed the author to get away with such a lazy argument. If you think it's okay to discriminate and create a whole second class citizenry, at least put in the time to come up with an justification that doesn't sound so atavistically patronizing.
Computer update

Today, we took the old computer (with J's old hard drive installed in it), the monitor, keyboard and mouse to the Salvation Army and donated it. With J's old hard drive in it now, it works -- just needs to be reformatted etc., and I figure it'll be a good machine for someone who is looking for very basic applications. We assured the Salvation Army that it was in working condition and hopefully they can find someone who can make use of it. I also thought it might be good to take apart and rebuild for a computer technology training class. Either way, it felt better to take the computer to the Salvation Army than to the electronics recycling center. It was easier to part with my old "buddy", knowing there was a possibility of another life for it out there. The electronics recycling center would have meant an inglorious end in a Chinese landfill for a trusty machine.

I've begun the slow process of transferring documents to the new computer from a collection of back-up CDs and also from the laptop, where most of my pictures from recent travels are stored. On the upside, it looks like the damage from the hard drive failure is minimal. In other words, I didn't lose as much as I thought I had and I do have documents going all the way back to 2003 saved here and there. So that's the good news. I also have some of my iTunes backed up, but not all of it. So hopefully I can pull the music off the iPod itself. As soon as I get everything situated, I'm looking forward to doing two things I haven't done in a while: writing and editing! So much easier on the desktop than the laptop, that's for sure!
More on the Mosque controversy

This time from Fareed Zakaria:

If there is going to be a reformist movement in Islam, it is going to emerge from places like the proposed institute. We should be encouraging groups like the one behind this project, not demonizing them.

The entire editorial is here

Also, a history lesson for Newt over here.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Deep thoughts

I worry when the rights of the minority are determined by the majority. It's for that reason I'm excited that the gay marriage ban was overturned in CA today. We have to watch that slippery slope where we intentionally deprive members of our society rights on the flimsiest of premises. We can't be a free society if we are oppressing others, no matter the reason behind it. If you read the original transcript of the trial, you'll find just how weak the defendants' case truly was.

On the same topic, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is my new hero for his spirited defense of the mosque/community center two blocks away from Ground Zero. To be honest, I don't have a horse in this race. I'm not Muslim and I have no personal connection to 9/11* or NYC. What concerned me was the idea that we would act to restrict the religious freedom of a group without any real basis other than bigotry and fear and whipping up a frenzy around the issue (I'm looking at you, Gingrich, and yes, you too, Sarah Palin, and oh wait, Pat Robertson, you don't get off either). Once you say it's okay to deny a mosque that location, you say it's okay to deny any religion any location based on an abstraction. Bloomberg says it best:

Whatever you may think of the proposed mosque and community center, lost in the heat of the debate has been a basic question - should government attempt to deny private citizens the right to build a house of worship on private property based on their particular religion? That may happen in other countries, but we should never allow it to happen here. This nation was founded on the principle that the government must never choose between religions, or favor one over another.

For more reading, here is a profile on the Iman behind the mosque. It's worth a read because honestly, didn't know anything about him, and when I read the profile, I thought, we keep wanting Islamic leaders to speak out against terrorism, and here's someone who is, and this is how we treat him?

The thing is, if you attempt (and succeed) to deprive people of their Constitutional rights, as was done in CA and as being advocated in NYC, you automatically make it easier -- and even justifiable -- to do it over and over again. To me, that's incredibly scary, because it's only a matter of time before it comes back to bite you in the butt.

Sunday, August 01, 2010


I forgot how long it takes to get your computer exactly the way you like it, with all the files and shortcuts and bookmarks, etc. So far, I've added some of my favorite software like Mozilla, Photoshop, Dreamweaver and of course, Civilization 4, but I've yet to transfer over some of my files. I backed up irregularly so I may be missing a document here or there so I'm going back to my oldest back-up, circa 2006 (there might be one from 2004 or thereabouts, but I didn't label the CD with anything more descriptive than 'Backup'). So getting those docs transferred over will be quite the interesting task. I'm hoping that for the most part everything is here.

And for those of you wondering (or not, as the case may be), I got a Dell Studio XPS 8100. I'm starting to navigate Windows 7 Home Premium (miss me my XP; don't know if Office XP will work on Windows 7. Anyone know?). All in all, no compatibility issues yet except McAfee doesn't like ZoneAlarm. That's okay; I don't particularly like McAfee so it'll be gone as soon as my free trial is up. Avast, I found, works so much better.
Deep thoughts

I can't believe that a singer as talented as Martina McBride couldn't come up with a better ditty for her Sunny-D commercial than the repetitious "Shine on, shine on..." No matter how melodious your singing voice, it still sounds lazy.

The NYTimes had an interesting editorial in today's edition on the current economic situation. You can read it here. I like it because it basically lays out the facts without all the wavy hand movement sky is falling prose. It's scary stuff. We went from surpluses in the Clinton era to deficits in the Bush era, which was then exacerbated by Obama. Then you have the 40% of the budget -- entitlements -- that are just impossible to deal with in a logical way, the tax cuts that decrease revenue, and the persistent joblessness that means extending unemployment. I sense tax increases in our future but don't just blame Obama. W had a lot to do with it as well.