Saturday Evening Meetup
Natilio is in NY on Saturday, and has been prevailed upon to make an appearance at Fresh Salt (or, presumably, any other reasonably located venue). Anyone likely to put in an appearance, or with a suggestion for an alternative venue, check in in comments.
Update: Today, four pm, Fresh Salt.
Help me understand John Gruber
In general: he's not just your source for reliable defenses/boosterism of whatever Apple's doing now, mixed with a couple of softball criticisms, right? There's something else there, I'm sure.
In particular: this post about an article about non-Amazon, non-Apple tablets isn't just the blatant FUD it appears to be, right? He offers no support for the contention that the tablets in question aren't worth consideration and I assume that when he uses the word "competitive" he means not that the tablets in question can compete with each other and with the more popular options on their own merits but just that their sales figures are relatively low, but perhaps there's something to it anyway.
Unfadeable, So Please Don't Try to Fade Me
"Rebel, Rebel" by David Bowie is such a good song that I still like it, even though my stepfather used to sing it to me all the fucking time, "jokingly." "Rebel rebel, you've torn your dress/rebel rebel, your face is a mess/rebel rebel, how could they know/hot tramp, I love you so." Really, I'm talking about frequent singing, with the whole family in the car, on long trips. Think how awesome that has to be, to overcome such an absolute, song-killing hurdle. All praise David Bowie.
When I think of different times I could have been alive in/different people to be I want to be David Bowie's wife at his peak hotness, during the period both of them were fucking Mick Jagger (also at peak hotness), so he then wrote "Angie" about her. I am straight-up jealous of Angela Barnett.
Separately, I also belatedly realized the "no diamonds during the day" thing I complained about in Heebie's thread is a rule I honor more in the breach, and that it was actually a question of my hating my brother's first wife, little Miss Bitch Frick Livingston pain in the ass. I can barely go to the museum now. Because, tennis bracelets are OK, along with engagement rings, and simple studs, but what am I wearing right now: earrings that gold bows set with diamonds. (My grandmother Nannie loved bows for jewelry, so it is WWND at work here.) But still, giant necklaces and stuff, all this hideous 1950s shit that was only in there for the carats, no, no, no. And to the beach? Double unplus no, infinite no backsies.
This is such a privileged rule that it exceeds even my usual quota of privileged assholishness. You can bitch about it but I know already, obviously. I'm taking one for the asshole team. You're welcome, Halford. And sure, my post is meandering, but since you're all going to argue about George R.R. Martin it doesn't matter.*
*If you actually do this I will cut you.Talk about David Bowie.
It doesn't feel as good as I thought it would
Progress despite the US.
Via Minivet's buzzfeed
Guest Post - Knecht Ruprecht
This New Yorker cartoon pokes fun at the trend toward gratuitiously gendered products, especially products targeted at children. Sociological Images has been on this beat for a long time.
As an enlightened, UMC liberal, I naturally consider myself immune to this kind of marketing manipulation. Or I did, at least, until last week, when I forgot my shaving cream on a trip and had to buy a can in a drugstore. The drugstore was out of my customary brand. In fact, the only shaving cream available in the under-100ml travel size was this, a product that appears to be specifically intended for depilating the female pubic region. I noticed that I felt uncomfortable bringing it up to the cashier, and my thoughts quickly turned to having that pink can peek out through my one-quart ziploc bag at the airport screening machine. The next morning I used the shaving cream, and was dismayed to find that it was (1) colored pink, and (2) perfumed with a "feminine" scent. I promptly threw the rest in the trash.
So we all know that consumption choices are part of the construction of personal identity in post-industrial society, yada yada yada. In the unfogged demographic, I suspect the choice of products not to consume plays a similar role ("I don't even *own* a TV"). Question for the commentariat: what products do you avoid because you don't identify with the target market? That is, what products would you be tempted to buy if you didn't feel distaste for the most visible consumers thereof? Anyone who says "None. None whatsoever," I don't believe you.
From Heebie: It's too facile if your answer only relies on price, and not wanting to be the kind of person who spends that much money on that kind of thing. Search your soul, folks.
What shall we name the elephant?
I bought this neat print from here:
The general collection is clearly photoshop, and not taxidermy, which is crucial, because I'm too squeamish to hang a photo of something like those grotesque kittens getting married on my wall.
I got hung up on the graph in this link for way too long just now.
This shows that for the average car commuter in the average metro area, it took as long to get to work during rush hour (8 to 9 a.m.) as it did during midday (noon to 4 p.m.):
Now that finding doesn't mean roads are congested during the middle of the day, per se. It could mean that people who leave for work in the middle of the day drive farther to their workplace. Still, the end result is a similar quality of life. Either you spend a good deal of time in the car getting to work in the morning while sharing the roads with everyone else, or you spend the same time on the road but have a little more space to move. If anything, this dilemma is the best-case scenario. The alternative is that off-peak congestion is getting worse and commuting midday doesn't benefit people like it used to.
First, I'd look at this graph and conclude that a lot of people have to be at work by 8, not by 9, so I don't know why they are calling 8-9 "rush hour" and drawing any meaningful conclusions comparing it to the afternoon.
Second, the purple bar definitely means that people with very long commutes have to leave for work really early. But length of commute isn't accounted for in any way. And definitely traffic congestion motivates people to try and adjust their schedule, if possible, to avoid it. So basically this graph just muddles commute length with congestion and doesn't tell you anything interesting.
I've a strong aversion to clothes shopping outside of thrift stores, so it was with great reluctance that I undertook recently a trip to redeem a Kohl's gift card, specifically for a pair or two of jeans. I tried a number of cuts, settling on two, one of which boasted a feature about which I've long been skeptical, the button fly.
Having now completed my first day wearing pants outfitted with this button-fly arrangement, I fail to see the attraction. It's really quite annoying when I have to pee.
Counterpoint: there's evidence that the pants highlight the intrinsic beauty of my backside.
Should math be taught in schools?
The banks, their money, and the not sharing it
I've had friends complain how difficult it has become to obtain an ordinary, responsible mortgage - ie, sufficient steady income, good credit, and the bank is just coming up with endless paperwork and obstacles to what seems like a straightforward transaction.
We haven't refinanced our mortgage since I bought the house in 2006, even though I was paying 6.25% interest and rates have been in the 4s for several years, because the overall mortgage was low enough that the closing costs would wipe out the savings for a decade or two. (Closing costs make me furious, by the way. Let's invent a big, big number for you to pay us, to allow you the privilege of giving us your money!)
So now, we want to roll the home improvement loan together with the mortgage, and refinance the whole thing. Wow are they making it difficult to even get a rate quote. I've been supplying paperwork to three different lenders for over a week, and none of them have supplied me with a goddamn quote yet. Not even the bank with whom we have an account, and who we worked with in January to get the home improvement loan.
It's aggravating to reconcile this anecdata with the reports of all the frivolous foreclosures. Just blow through mountains of foreclosures, bam! Even though you'd save money by working with the families to keep them in their homes. And with all that time and energy you saved, create mountains of obstacles for people who are trying to do business with you.
Bitch about the banking industry, please.
Last week, OnStar issued a privacy notice informing customers that it would continue to collect data on vehicles still connected to its servers, even for those who have already canceled their subscriptions.
A bunch of people got mad.
"We apologize for creating any confusion about our terms and conditions," Finnor [OnStar mucky-muck] said. "We want to make sure we are as clear with our customers as possible, but it's apparent that we have failed to do this... We will continue to be open to their suggestions and concerns."
Another thing that skeeves me out is the Progressive Insurance Snapshot Discount, where you put a little bug in your car and they monitor all your habits and give you a discount based on how safe you drive. But at least that's opt-in, and everyone involved has fair warning. I still don't like that direction, though.
Some friends and I dropped acid, back in college, and were wandering around at 2:00 am or so. (I was very fond of the "Let's Go on an Epic Walk!" approach to tripping.) Down an alley, on the back of a warehouse, some guy was spray-painting. Here's what he had written:
In order to be truly unified, what the world needs now, more than ever, is
So we stealthily hung back, and waited, to see what the world needed now, more than ever. We waited for five minutes, then ten minutes, or possibly 5 seconds, or an hour. Also it's possible we were incredibly obnoxious and loud and not at all discreet.
At any rate, the artist would not finish the phrase.
We waited and waited and eventually gave up. But then! A few days later we went back, and found out exactly what the world needed circa 1998, more than ever.
(Note: this may be in the archives. If I'm being repetitive and you remember the answer, then let's not spoil the fun.)
And I also kinda hate Metallica. But magnets are cool.
This is a prank, right? It's spectacularly terrible.
On a related, it's probably my continued Velvet Underground blindspot that I think people mean Al Green (who's awesome!) when they say Lou Reed (whose talents I've yet to appreciate fully).
Last last meal.
The list of problems with the death penalty is extensive. This one detail pales, but it has an extra "fuck you" bite to it. Background:
Brewer, who was executed on Wednesday for the hate crime murder of James Byrd Jr. more than 10 years ago, asked for two chicken fired steaks, a triple-meat bacon cheeseburger, fried okra, a pound of barbecue, three fajitas, a meat lover's pizza, a pint of ice cream and a slab of peanut butter fudge with crushed peanuts. Prison officials said Brewer didn't eat any of it.
In response to this, Texas is now ending the last-meal ritual for all other death row inmates.
It doesn't really matter one way or the other whether they get a last meal. But the change reflects so much vengeance and anger towards the death row inmates that it's hard to see the system ever being changed towards something more sensible and compassionate.
The four agreements.
A student asked me if I'd heard of The Four Agreements, which I had, years ago. It's one of these hocus-pocus transform-your-life become-the-glowing-source-of-radiant-peacefulness kind of gigs. Or that's probably what a judgmental person would say.
The Four Agreements are:
1. Be Impeccable with your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.
2. Don't Take Anything Personally: Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.
3. Don't Make Assumptions: Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
4. Always Do Your Best: Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.
There's something missing about how sometimes you should go easy on yourself. It's sort of built in to 4, but not explicitly. Something about shrugging it off when you fall short, and giving yourself permission to watch TV on a lazy day. Or whatever.
But as far as boiler plate guidelines to life go, I think this is otherwise pretty sound. On the whole, I approve.
I blame Persia.
There's a forthcoming battle-tastic film titled Immortals? What's there to battle about? You're immortal, dudes. Just wait.
Sunday Talk Show
Sir Kraab's highlighting of this news is an apt jumping-off point for a discussion of my parents. They're totally letting me down on being a political weather vane.
See, they came to help me move some furniture yesterday, and, in one of the car trips, my (right-leaning-but-I'm-pretty-sure-he-voted-Obama-in-'08) dad asked what I thought of the GOP debates, a not unusual question for him to ask, as he seems to like to hear my political take for some reason.
So I said I hadn't been paying very close attention but that it seemed to be boiling down to a choice between Perry and Romney, to which he responded, "Yeah. They both scare me."
Which prompted my (left-leaning-but-does-weird-things-like-vote-for-Clinton-in-'92-but-not-'96;-I-mean-really-Mother-it-was-Bob-Dole-for-God's-sake) mom to add that Obama was in a position to be heavily criticized by the eventual GOP nominee, and that he's in trouble with a lot of '08 supporters, including her.
In sum, my dad's a solid BHO vote. My mom's holding out for the Eugene Debs primary from the left. And then they bought me a really sweet vacuum as a housewarming gift, thereby stimulating the economy.
Parents are mystifying.