May 29, 2008

Ready to Mount

Do you think Hillary or the photographer was chiefly responsible for the composition of this photo, which sorta implies she's getting an idea of how her visage would look on a new-and-improved Mt. Rushmore?

As an aside, if there had been women at the constitutional convention, I guess we'd be referring to them as Founding Mothers, huh? I don't know what I think about that, but it does sound like a good name for a band.

May 23, 2008

Feed the beast

It's a little annoying that the cover story of this week's Sunday New York Times Magazine is this 7,900-word first-person account of a blogger's highly-self-analytical (or, as Loree likes to call it, navel-gazing) and not-that-interesting life while she was blogging on her own and as an editor at Gawker.

Annoying because -- although I admit I read the whole thing -- it is, as I've already mentioned, not that interesting. It's just a really self-indulgent story about how and why this woman blogged so much about her personal life in the midst of breaking up with two boyfriends. BFD.

But what's even more aggravating than the article itself is the righteous indignation with which readers are responding. As of this morning, there were already 837 comments ... now 840 ... now 843 ... on the Times site (and who knows how many others about the story on Gawker and other independent blogs). By comparison, a cover story two weeks ago on opportunities for girls in competitive sports had prompted 289 reader responses.

I didn't read each of the comments about the blogger article, but from a quick scan, about 98.5 percent of them were highly critical of the writer (for being so caught up in her relatively unimportant existence), the Times (for having the audacity to give major treatment to something so insignificant), or both. Many of the complaints included some thread about how much time and thought was being wasted on this.

Apparently none of them really picked up on the irony (and not the fake Alanis Morissette fly-in-chardonnay kind) that this story that they deemed absolutely irrelevant had prompted them to take the time to write long -- and sometimes eloquent -- posts of their own, sharing their own self-important thoughts. All of their ranting and raving sure sure seems to give more credence -- not less -- to the Times' decision to put the dumb thing on the cover.

Oh, and the comment count is now up to 854.

Nice going, blowhards.

May 21, 2008

AA = A-hole Airlines

Prediction: Inside of 18 months, we're going to have to pay to use the rest room on commercial airplanes.

If I flew more than a few times a year, I'd be really irate about this. Aw, hell. I'm irate anyway. It figures that the new fee goes into effect the very week we're flying cross-country for our first trip of the year.

I get that businesses need to charge customers more money when their own expenses go up, but why do they have to do it like this? I'd much rather pay more for the single major cost (the ticket) instead of paying for the ticket and then having to shell out 10 bucks here and 20 bucks there for ticky-tack fees. Maybe you're losing money because you keep pissing off your customers. Does anyone know if American hired executives from Sprint recently?

I'm glad I just cashed in most of my frequent flier miles on American, because after this, they can get bent.

May 19, 2008

Somebody invent this

You've got the time. You've got the know-how. Put it to work.

I want a pair of self-cleaning eyeglasses.

Anyone else have suggestions for products we desperately need?

On an unrelated note, it turns out that brown shoe polish may not be the best choice for tan shoes. But it sure smells good.

May 17, 2008

I swear: The update

In my last post, about Sue Simmons' interesting word choice during a live broadcast, I jokingly (I thought) suggested that news anchoring mostly required the abilities to sit in a chair without falling over and read a prompter.

Little did I know, there's also ample video evidence that Sue's maybe not so great at that first requirement, either.

Of all the snarky comments I could have made, pretty good that I went with "sitting in a chair," huh? Thank you, thank you.

May 15, 2008

I swear, to tell the truth

Maybe it's just me. But if the two most important parts of my job were (1) sitting in a chair without falling over and (2) reading words off of a prompter, I'd make sure I executed both flawlessly on a regular basis.

Sue Simmons, the longtime anchor on WNBC-TV in New York, seems to have part 1 down OK, but apparently she figured she could phone it in on part 2. From the sound of it, reading 30-second teasers for the 11 o'clock show must be superfreakin' stressful.

(Not sure how long this link will work -- I'm guessing NBC is making people remove the clips -- so click through early and often.)

Personally, I don't think this is a very big deal, but it is kinda funny. Actually, it'd be cool if local stations got their on-air talent to do this more often, but at random times. It'd be like watching auto racing for the wrecks.

May 14, 2008

Duck, duck...

I'm not going to get into the politics of foie gras -- well, not now, anyway -- but I will let you know that it's a momentous day for foodies in the Windy City. Chicago has repealed its two-year-old ban on restaurants serving foie gras.

Well, it's not quite the 21st Amendment, but it should be big doings in my former hometown.

I'm sure you can read more about the news on Chicago newspapers' web sites, but the link in the first paragraph points to the New York Times food blog for a reason. Click through and read the last two paragraphs of the article -- the part in which a Chicago alderman warns his colleagues that "It" could happen to them -- and then check out reader comments 4, 5 and 7. Maybe I'm just tired and slap-happy, but I laughed my ass off.

(Don't read the other reader comments if you have a weak stomach.)

All of this should make the kids over at Hog Doug's, purveyor of the world's best hot dogs -- seriously, there's no debate -- pretty happy. (Check out the daily specials for an idea of the monstrously ingenious things they do with encased meats.)

If memory serves, Doug was cited a few times for continuing to serve foie gras in (or on?) his sausages, despite the ban. Was pretty clever how he tried to get around it though, by intentionally misspelling the item on his menu. Something like fwah grah, I think. Damn, I could really go for a trip to Hot Doug's. Who's in?

Oh, and thanks to my gorgeous and wonderful wife for sending me the news.

May 13, 2008

Help me, Honda

This was kind of a fun way to kill five minutes.

See if it works, and come back to let me know.

May 9, 2008

Data baste

It's Friday. Another week at work: done. You're feeling good about yourself. You're feeling like a smarty.

And then you read this story on about a dude who managed to get data off of a melted disk drive from the Columbia space shuttle. I don't even understand how you'd begin to figure out how to do that. I'm not sciencey, not by a long shot, but I do know one thing: This guy is way smarter than I am.

It also makes me wonder. At a company where I used to work, one of the VPs kept losing all of the data on her laptop computers because she kept dropping them. A few feet. On a carpeted floor. Our IT guys could only throw up their hands in failure.

The Columbia disk drive, on the other hand, falls about 200,000 feet from a vehicle traveling at about mach 19 -- a vehicle that basically disintigrated, by the way -- and the drive is burned almost beyond recognition, and a guy in Minnesota recovers 99 percent of the info on the drive. Wacky.

May 7, 2008

Reality bites

I especially liked three sentences in this AP story about Hillary's pig-headed insistence on screwing up the Democrats' chances of winning the presidential election, uh, I mean, defiance in the face of having no statistical chance of, uh, I mean, bold decision to stay in the primary race.

Let's analyze, shall we?

1) "Clinton's appearance in Shepherdstown, W.Va., was meant to underscore her determination to stay the course."

Why I liked it: Seems like this is code for, "The only reason a person of means would visit god-forsaken Shepherdstown -- or anywhere in West Virginia, for that matter -- was that they had an insatiable desire to prove something."

2) "Obama has 1,846.5 delegates to 1,696 for Clinton in The Associated Press tally. "

Why I liked it: How the hell do you get a half delegate? Is Emmanuel Lewis involved somehow?

3) "Clinton told reporters it would take 2,209 or 2,210 delegates to win the nomination, not the 2,025 in use by the Democratic National Committee."

Why I liked it: At this point in the election process, the players really can't agree on where the end zone is? That's great. Hillary fans: You sure you want a president who thinks it's OK to keep changing the rules until they work out in her favor? I didn't think so.

May 6, 2008

A moment of silence... with chocolate sprinkles

R.I.P., Irvine Robbins.

One half of the duo that brought us Baskin-Robbins died yesterday at age 90. You can read the obit here, but I think the lesson to be learned is that eating cereal with a scoop of banana ice cream for breakfast is the key to long life.

There's a note in the article about the genesis of the "31 flavors" concept -- one ice cream for every day of the month -- something I finally read or figured out a few years ago. I think that's one of the best ideas ever.

When I was in high school, I used to make regular stops at a Baskin-Robbins near my violin teacher's house on the way home (for dinner) from my weekly lesson. I'd get two scoops of Rocky Road in a cup and somehow eat it while driving home on the expressway. Not sure how I'm still alive.

So, kids, what's your favorite BR31 flavor?

May 2, 2008

Diamonds and gems

Ack. Another feel-good story -- my second of the day. Sorry, I don't know what's come over me.

But this one was too good to pass up -- a much-needed counterpoint to all of the unseemly off-the-field sports news the last few weeks: y'know, like Roger Clemens, Hall of Fame ManWhore; track star Tim Montgomery's stunning fall from grace; the LSU quarterback getting kicked off the team and that kinda stuff.

So here's an item about an impressive display of sportsmanship -- maybe sportswomanship? -- by the softball players at Central Washington University (the school's tagline, in case you're wondering: Your future is Central). After an opposing player hit a home run but hurt herself rounding first base, two CWU players picked her up and carried her around the bases, ensuring her run would count. This despite the fact that the home run meant CWU was going to lose the game.

I don't want this to be all bread and roses, so I'll just say I think it's a little goofy to get injured during your home-run trot. Aside from that, this story made me smile.

Jeez, I hope I see some news I can make snarky comments about. And soon!

Road signs

What? Good news on SFTC? Yeah, thought I'd try something new today.

I was pleased indeed to see this New York Times graphic (who has time to read the whole article?), which revealed some promising data on U.S. auto sales.

Overall, April wasn't the greatest month for automakers -- sales declined for all seven of the top manufacturers.

But... the outlook for the environment was decidedly cheerier. Check out the table for sales of the most popular cars and trucks for April 2008 vs. April 2007. All of the vehicles that saw sales gains from last year were mid-size or smaller and, with one exception (Toyota Corolla), all of the cars with sales declines were full-size or trucks.

And the biggest uptick was for my beloved Prius! I was actually surprised to see that Toyota only sold 21,757 of them last month. I swear they must all be in the greater Los Angeles area.

Anyway, it's a sign that maybe we're not all complete idiots. Hooray for us.

May 1, 2008

Taken for a ride

I'm thinking maybe the practice of letting congresspeople lease whatever car they want, while we pick up the tab, is sort of a crappy idea.

If we're going to pick up the tab, how about at least forcing them to use hybrids?

This reminds me of when I was student government treasurer in high school, and the president and other officers thought it'd be fine to order top-of-the-line Champion sportswear to "sell" as a "fundraiser," while keeping one of each item for themselves -- in other words, stealing from the school.

You'll be shocked to know that the guy who was president is now an elected official in Maryland.