Archive for March, 2007

Forbes has up their annual top 100 companies. Who made the list?

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I’ve often wondered (hypothetically and from afar, because I don’t pay for music from the internet), what happens when a person buys a song from iTunes, and then later they decide they want the whole album. I guess people have been buying the album in its entirety, creating a duplicate of the single and spending a little more than they otherwise would. Now iTunes has come up with Complete My Album button, that will download whichever songs you don’t have from an album and charge you the difference. Of course, you have to have bought the original song through iTunes, and, after an initial grandfathering period, you have to have bought it in the last 180 days to be eligible. Still, it’s something, and should be good for Apple/iTunes from a marketing standpoint. Nevermind that anyone who buys multiple songs and albums from iTunes probably doesn’t care about a $2 price break.
On a side note, I wish the ‘Complete my album’ button was a real thing, in real life. Kind of like the Staples’ Easy Button, only, as I said, real. For all of those genius but not so prolific artists. It could produce all the songs, get the liner notes in order, and just generally get musicians’ collective shit together. I’d give it to Jeff Mangum.

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I think it was Fuzzy Lumpkins and the meat gun and not Doug Sohn who was responsible for selling hot dogs to all the innocents in Chicago. Too bad it was Doug Sohn who got the $250 fine. The “NYT” saves us all from foie gras.

The city imposed a fine of $250 Thursday on Doug Sohn, the proprietor of Hot Doug’s, a restaurant on the city’s northwest side that describes itself as a Sausage Superstore and Encased Meat Emporium. Menu items cost under $10

So crime and danger is being haulted for a $10 foie gras hotdog. I already feel safer. Any bets on when the speakeasies open? Imagine all that meat.

The City Council, citing concerns over the force-feeding process, overwhelmingly approved the ban in April 2006, making Chicago the first city in the country to outlaw the sale of foie gras. The ban infuriated Mayor Richard M. Daley, who opposed the measure, as well as many restaurateurs, some of whom openly defied the ban when it took effect last August by serving foie gras specials.

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overheard in DC:

:a guy who works for the U.S. treasury department about how he spent time in a meeting with government officials discussing whether they should/could get Ali G. to make fun of Al-Qadea as a “strategic communication” initiative

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I joined Media Bistro this past fall. I love it. I get “Wired” every month and I get “New York Magazine.” First of all, I miss read that second part. I thought I was getting the “New Yorker.” Slight difference. “New York Magazine” little by little has been annoying me to the core.
Anyways, this month’s “New York Magazine” has done its job. The article is about how a wonderous NYC family decides to move to the country and settle.

Here were some of my favorites:

The next day, they stood at the end of our driveway.

“How many people live in your house?” asked a girl.

“Three,” I said. “How many people live in your house?”

“Eleven,” she answered.

Hm. That never happens in NYC. Silly country people with big families. Don’t they know birth control?

She thought a moment. “Well, deer season starts Monday, so it’s going to be hectic for a while.”

I felt myself deflating. “Why is that hectic?” I asked.

She turned those innocent eyes on me. “Because that’s when we get our meat,” she said.

My jaw dropped slightly open. “We freeze what we don’t use,” she elaborated. “We hardly ever buy meat at the supermarket.”

For the first time, I made myself confront the fact that in moving upstate, I had quite possibly done something stupid. The tremor of fear buried in my initial e-mail came a little closer to the surface. I was worried about myself. Maybe I wasn’t going to make it here, after all.

Just when I thought the article couldn’t go any further.

Yet, for me, all of these issues pale in comparison to the central issue of assimilation. I can deal with bugs, a barn that a strong gust of wind could knock over, and even subzero temperatures, but the neurotic city achiever in me can’t stand to be unloved, misunderstood, or ignored. A remark made by a former New Yorker, the friend of a friend, recently found its way to me. She was discussing her decision to pursue options other than public school. “I visited the public school,” she said, “and I looked around and I thought, I just can’t assimilate.”

I supose in the end, I need to be more open and less annoyed. I mean it is difficult to move to the country where there are Walmarts and McDonalds.

“Her reality is just different than my reality,

For me, it’s just the author’s over all attitude of being forced to live in the country. Her story talks about how people that are leaving the city now, must because they can’t afford to live there anymore. She mentions those who are flocking not because they don’t want to live in the city but because they can’t afford to. Anyways, here’s the six pages of “I, Citiot: A Family’s Move Upstate”. I need a midol now.

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When do you get too old for keg stands or power hours? It’s open for debate. Unless of course you have the pictures up on your Facebook, Myspace, Friendster, Imeebo, or plastered on your apartment building for all to see. Valleywag gives some dos and don’ts for those of us searching for the beacon of light, a job.

Before you prune, realize that an employer’s angst isn’t really about what’s online; it’s about your real life as the web represents it. Do you want to be part of a company that doesn’t let its employees goof off on their own time? Or say there’s a photo online of you smoking up. Most major companies have every reason to reject an illegal drug user. But not everyone — for instance, smoking up and getting trashed is a requisite for many startups. Even megacorp Google was started by two guys who still attend drug-friendly Burning Man.

So before you clean up your image, see if someone will hire you just as you are. Where would the world be if Hunter S. Thompson had cleaned up for Rolling Stone?

The list is pretty generic.
1. Google yourself
2. Make your profile private
3. Check your blog

So there you go. Remember private it better. We all love seeing you drunk and sometimes nude, but here’s a healthy reminder that the Internet remembers everything. Everything.

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From WaPo today:

It’s called the Promoting Responsible Fatherhood Initiative, and the Bush administration doles out up to $50 million annually to fund its programs to build job skills and help fathers connect better with their children.

Washington City Paper had a feature article about the initiative a few weeks ago. Part of the DC group’s efforts include reaching out to unmarried, low-income fathers who are expecting children and counseling them and getting them classes and other things to attempt to convince them to stick around.

Obviously, what’s good for fathers is good for entire families, in the same way that what’s good for mothers is good for entire families. But for some reason, NOW and Legal Momentum are suing for women to have access to some of the funds devoted to these fatherhood initiatives. This just strikes me as … silly. Sure, it’s frustrating when the FDA decides to take away $1.2 million dollars worth of funds devoted to the health of women and children in order to make an elaborate sort of abstinence-only point. And we all know that there are far too many things in place in this country that are unfriendly to mothers, especially working mothers, and that it is way to hard for low-income women to have access to contraception and things that might actually make a difference. That the whole country — workplaces, etc. — needs to become a much more supportive of families if it’s going to pretend to actually care so much about families.

But fathers are a part of families, too. And as much as I’m generally one of the first ones to criticize wacky FRAs (father’s rights activists) who generally try to couch misogyny and a sense of entitlement in some sort of equal rights farce … well, the fatherhood initiative seems like something that might actually be doing some good, and suing a fatherhood initiative on the grounds that it doesn’t provide funds for mothers seems about as stupid as FRAs complaining that child support infringes on their civil liberties to get as many bitches pregnant as they want without having to cough up on any dough for any, uh, unintended consequences, or MRAs bringing lawsuits against the oppressive and discriminatory drink pricing at ladies’ nights.

Administration officials and grant recipients say the challenge is misguided. The programs may target men, they say, but helping men become better fathers will benefit women and children, too. Moreover, HHS officials say they have told grant recipients they must open their fatherhood programs to women.

I hate to say that I ever agree with “administration officials,” but …

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Does Center for Science in the Public Interest have some sort of satanic contract with WaPo that they must be quoted in every single news article about snacks, childhood, or obesity the paper ever publishes?

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I know it’s really tedious to tell people about funny terms that people searched to get to your blog and all that, but I found this one particularly funny. Maybe only ’cause it’s 8 in the morning and I just woke up, but: “pirates in the bible.”

I am really excited to know that somehow searching for “pirates in the bible” leads you to this page.

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The new cover for the latest Harry Potter book is out. Beware of flying mini elbows on July 21. Those kids punch hard for their Potter.

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I hope the Cavs keep him forever. As a former Ohioian, I am still a die hard Cavs fan (and Indians)!
This makes me giggle.

A first-floor master suite, which includes a two-story walk-in closet, will be about 40 feet wide and 56 feet long — bigger than half the houses in Bath Township.The house has a dining hall, roughly 27 feet by 27 feet, a “great room” at 34 feet by 37 feet and a bigger, two-story “grand room,” according to the Akron Beacon Journal, which reported on the blueprints.The “family foyer” off the six-car garage near the elevator will be dwarfed by a “grand foyer” inside the front entrance with a sweeping, divided staircase leading to four second-story bedrooms. An outer wall will feature a limestone sculpture — a bas-relief of LeBron’s head, wearing his trademark headband.

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Via To the People, a piece on Philly.com about “smoke-easies.”

Now “smoke-easies” are nothing new. When my former hometown of Columbus, OH, banned smoking last year, my favorite bars generally didn’t pay heed. One of my favorite neighborhood watering holes got rid of their tell-tale signs of being a smoking establishment, ashtrays, and replaced them with altoid tins. It was a marvelous system. If you were “in the know,” and you wanted to smoke, you went up to the bar and asked for an altoid tin. I think it was all somehow operating under the dubious theory that if that powers-that-be entered the bar, everybody could quickly put out their cigarettes and close up the tins and the authorities would simply think the place was a mysteriously smoky pub full of altoid fiends.

I don’t think anyone seriously thought this would work, but it lent the whole thing an air of being a member of some sort of secret hipster smokers club with its own secret symbols, which everyone generally seemed to appreciate. Then, one day, the local alternative weekly, The Other Paper, published a big, front-page feature on the “smoke-easies” showcasing a large altoid tin on the cover. Upon first glancing at the cover, my friends and I were outraged. Our favorite bar had been outed! How could an alt-paper betray us all like that?

As it turns out, our special-secret-altoid-tin-using bar wasn’t even mentioned in the story, nor did it even fall in the top-ten smoking-ban offenders. Apparently, altoid tins as ashtrays was pretty common throughout the cities bars, not some special province of our bar down the street. It was very disappointing, in that same blow to hipster-hubris way as hearing “I Think I Need a New Heart” being used in that dog-food commercial.

The above story has nothing to do with anything, in fact. Sorry. I just got caught up in a moment of Columbus nostalgia.

What I wanted to point out was the greatness of the opening lines to the philly article:

I’M SIPPING A Blue Moon ale in a Philadelphia bar, Janis Joplin is wailing about Bobby McGee and I’m thinking a smoke would go great about now.

I take out one of Baby Cakes’ Parliament Lights and fire it up.

I’m smoking in a bar in Philadelphia and nobody says, “Boo!”

It’s one of those leads that makes you go, man, I know it’s only 10:17 in the morning, but why aren’t I sitting in a bar in Philadelphia sipping a blue moon and listening to Janis Joplin right now? because, my god, that sounds fabulous…. (then the writer mentions beer pennants and the NCAA, and the aura is blown, alas!).

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iTunes may have killed the radio star, but not the indie rocker: sales of physical cds for independent musicians has increased 30 percent over the past year, according to Derek Sivers, the founder of CD Baby (an online store selling indie cds) in a press conference for the Rock the Net coalition yesterday.

Via Harold Feld at Public Knowledge:

… the rise in sales of indie CDs takes place at the very moment that every major news outlet has announced the death of music albums and the resulting decline in music industry profits (despite the rise in online sales).

Of course, Sivers “fact” is unverified, and no where can I find an explanation for where he came up for this statistic. But it’s the kind of fact you want to be true; the kind that can allow you to gloat and go, “See! It’s not the Internet! It’s just that the most music put out by the major labels is crap!” As Feld points out:

… if true, it provides one more powerful argument that the current decline in revenue for the major labels has nothing to do with “piracy” and everything to do with competition working. As I have argued, (along with the good folks at Ars Technica), the decline of the CD market proves what many of us have said for years. The 1990s saw a number of factors that allowed the major labels to push out independents and dominate the market with their own outrageously priced and poorly produced products: consolidation in the music industry, the whole “studio system” of pumping a few big stars to the exclusion of others, the consolidation in music outlets from mom-and-pop record stores to chains like Tower Records and retail giants like Wal-Mart that exclude indies and push the recordings promoted by major labels, and the consolidation of radio — which further killed indie exposure and allowed the labels to artificially pump their selected “hits” through payolla. All this created a cozy cartel that enjoyed monopoly profits.

Now, for the first time in living memory, the music cartel has lost control of distribution. Independent musicians can use a neutral internet to reach listeners directly. Online radio, satellite radio, and podcasting move power out of the consolidated terrestrial radio bottlenecks and expose people to different choices. Digital downloads and online purchases of physical CDs break the stranglehold of the box-store retailers. Even better, the stranglehold on video distribution may follow.

And lo! Competition actually works for once in the way predicted by the neo-cons and techno-libertarians (hey, it happens).

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Just when you’d imagine that stupid had flatlined, there is Justin.tv. Back in the late 90’s and early 00’s were the rush of the movies about the” slice of life 24 hour documentaries.” Lets see, there was the “Truman Show” and “Ed TV.” So why now are we forced to see people pee on camera? Better yet, who wants to see some one pee on camera and why is he getting sponsors? Wired magazine has an interesting write up this month.

Welcome to daily happenings of Justin.tv, the latest experiment in reality TV on the web. Visitors to the site see a small, low-resolution audio/video feed coming from a camera mounted on star Kan’s head — his business partners are also recurring characters. Kan has vowed to wear his home-brewed mobile cam setup 24/7 while he hangs out with his pals, buys breakfast, does guerrilla marketing (pasting Justin.tv stickers all over San Francisco) and chats on the phone. The end result comes across as a combination of JenniCam and American Idol. What he is worried about is retaining his audience. Once the novelty wears off, who wants to see a guy taking a leak? So far Justin.tv has been almost boring, if you discount the 911 prank. Will Kan spice things up with intimate antics of the sort that titillated JenniCam audiences nine years ago? Probably not. If a dating situation were to come up, Kan said he might film it (with permission, of course).

Honestly, with Joost in the works and others scrambling along, does grainy resolution and some silicon valley peeps make good tv? It’s more time wasted when you’ve spent the morning watching them sleep. But then again, it’s only been live for 9 days 18 hours…


It’s honestly really addicting, watching some guy do nothing. It makes me feel better that I’m not alone. I’m really look forward to the t-shirts sponsors, bring it on P&G. How about an awesome Big Daddy shirt? Bring on the sponsor whores!

And here’s Justin. justin-pic-l.jpg

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Oh dude, my writer crush, Haruki Murakami just won an award.

The Kiriyama Prize was established in 1996 to recognize outstanding books about the Pacific Rim and South Asia that encourage greater mutual understanding of and among the peoples and nations of this vast and culturally diverse region. The Prize consists of a cash award of US $30,000, which is split equally between the fiction and nonfiction winners. Source

On the obessive side, I named my cat after him (and my computer). Go read “Wind-Up Bird Chronicles” or “Norwegian Wood.”

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I can’t take credit for any of this. It goes to The DC Universe.

Apparently jealous of cities with catchy slogans like “Metronatural” and “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas,” D.C. is looking to come up with something better than its current crapfest of a slogan, “Washington, D.C.: The American Experience.”

Hm. This is a hard competition. I mean how do you win against West Virgina’s “Open for Business and Wild and Wonderful?”

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It’s hard to make net neutrality sexy.

But Frank Ahrens at WaPo’s tech blog thinks Michael Stipe and the Death Cab kids are just the way to do it.

REM, Death Cab and others are joining together to form Rock the Net, a group of musicians in support of network neutrality. For those of you not familiar with the term, I’m gonna steal the Rock the Net explanation:

Network neutrality — or Net Neutrality — is the principle that preserves a free and open Internet. Net neutrality ensures that all users can access the content, or run the applications and devices of their choice.

Complete list of Rock the Net bands and shows. Check it out. Do your part to make net neutrality sexy.

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Via Asapacker, a twist on some old racist/sexist jokes:

Why did the blonde get fired from the M&M factory?
Repeated absences and stealing.

A black man is going to get a vasectomy. He shows up to the doctor’s office wearing a suit. The doctor asks, “Why are you wearing a suit?”
The black man replies, “I just got back from a funeral.”

A guy walks into a bar.
He is an alcoholic whose drinking problem is destroying his family.

What’s worse then finding a worm in your apple?
The Holocaust.

What’s sad about 4 black people in a Cadillac going over a cliff?
They were my friends.

Have you seen Stevie Wonder’s new house?
Well, it’s really nice.

A blonde girl walks into the local dry cleaners. She places a garment on the counter. “I’ll be back tomorrow afternoon to pick up my dress,” she says.
“Come again?” asks the clerk, cupping his ear.
“I said I’LL BE BACK TOMORROW AFTERNOON TO PICK UP MY DRESS,” says the girl, this time louder.

What do you call 5 Mexicans in quicksand?
A dangerous situation that could soon turn tragic.

Four blondes are driving to Disneyworld. They finally get to Florida and they see a sign that says “Disneyworld: left,” so they take the left and have a wonderful time at what many people believe to be the most magical place on Earth.

Why don’t Polish girls swim in the sea?
The only sea that Poland borders is the Baltic. Throughout most of the year this sea is too cold to comfortably swim in.

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Via Michael Siegel at The Rest of the Story, an op-ed in The Australian by Simon Chapman, a professor of public health, about the ethics of public health policy, and tobacco policy in particular.

Apparently, Australia has enacted some pretty intense smoking bans lately: ban on smoking in cars with children, ban on smoking in parks, and a potential ban on smoking in all outdoor restaurants.

Chapman suggests that “children exposed to smoking in private cars first tested the public-private policy boundaries on smoking.” This is one of those issues that tends to really aggravate me, because you’ll get a lot of anti-smoking advocates all “Oh, so you think parents should smoke in cars with small children around?” (more…)

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Check out this article about a huge hike in the cost of birth control at colleges. I direct you to it as I almost missed it entirely. It’s in the ‘Student News’ section of the Education section of today’s CNN website. Even though, per the article, 39% of undergraduate women are on oral contraception, so this affects several million people about as directly as something can affect a person. I think it’s news, but maybe that’s because it affects women of a similar age and sensibility to me. Whatever the reason, if I can muster a fair degree of outrage on topics that I’ll likely never have first-hand experience with, this is worth discussing. If you read the article, the price increase is attributed to a change in Medicaid policies, causing big drug companies to abandon the deals they used to give colleges. Since the universities themselves aren’t going to be helping out, it’s going to cost undergraduate women at least double what it used to cost to get the same prescriptions.
Which leads me to… when I was your age. Honestly, when I was an undergraduate on the pill, I didn’t know where the price break was coming from. I just knew that it didn’t cost much to maintain my lifestyle. It was a noticeable dent in one week’s drinking money and that was about it for the quarter. Money worries were confined to tuition, rent, food, books, incidentals…maybe confined isn’t the right word. But no one was panicking over the cost of the pill.
Of course, when I graduated, I bounced around to no less than 6 jobs (it’s been not quite 3 years since I was in college), and at various times I had lousy insurance, no insurance, or was just plain unemployed. I ended up paying a lot for birth control. Probably five times what I was paying on campus. But here’s the one constant, and why I’m not worried about today’s college-bound or college-enrolled women: it still beats the alternative. No one who’s committed to being childless (for however long) is going to let prescriptions lapse because it costs a little more.

A personal tip from me: where I went to school anyway, if you let a balance from the clinic (or their pharmacy) remain unpaid, they would tack it on to your tuition bill as a benign ‘medical center expense’. Maybe your parents pay that bill, or maybe you have loans. Either way, doing this about one quarter a year will ease your current out-of-pocket costs.

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