Friday, March 31, 2006

Flickr RSShenanigans

A little while back I was looking for some stock photos of Washington D.C. while at the same time I read an article on lifehacker about setting up an Flickr RSS. Let me pause for a second to explain Flickr and RSS. Flickr is a website where users store photos online for all to see and RSS means Really Simple Syndication, basically a subscription to websites.

The lifehacker post was about seeing your city through new eyes. This sounded like a great idea to me. I walk past or metro past some of the best looking buildings and monuments in the world and every once in a while I realize I haven't "seen" them in a while. So I set up the subscription and now every hour or so I get about 10-20 new pictures downloaded straight to my e-mail program (thunderbird).

It was great, at first. I suggest everyone do this because you really do get some great pictures. But after a while I found myself deleting pictures before I ever got to view them. Why? Because there are only so many pictures of the Washington Monument you can take. I think in the last week I've seen something over 200 pictures of the cherry blossoms. It got me thinking about a new way to do this.

Everyone wants their own pictures from their trips and everyone thinks their pictures are unique. As someone who has seen those pictures I can honestly tell you, they're not unique.

So here is what I propose. Every city gets one pool photographer who takes pictures throughout the year and uploads them to Flickr, where you can then download them and call your own. Now of course you will still want pictures of yourself, friends and family on vacation so those will still be allowed.

Washington monument: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Cherry Blossoms: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (There were more obviously, I just got bored...)

And the coup de grace, I give you cherry blossoms WITH the washington monument: 1, 2, 3

Immigration, continued...

"Over the past decade, economists such as Borjas have examined the impact of a surge of illegal immigration on wages and the economy at large. Most agree that the influx has had a small but positive impact on the national economy, holding down consumer prices, improving the productivity of the workforce and increasing demand for goods and services.

Upper-middle-class consumers can dine at restaurants, stay at hotels, and have their cars hand-washed and their house windows cleaned for far less than they would without illegal immigration. An abundant supply of low-wage workers may have spurred more investment in labor-intensive businesses. Giovanni Peri, an economist at the University of California at Davis, estimates that immigration in the 1990s actually boosted the average wage of native workers by 1.1 percent." - (WP)

WP: Guest-worker plan divides allies

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Lies I should have told while giving tours of the Capitol Building

While talking to a friend tonight, we were talking about giving tours of the Capitol Building to 8th graders and how they never pay attention anyway...

"If you come this way I'll show you where the nukes are kept..."

"Did you know that if you whisper on this square right here, they can hear you in Russia? Try it out..."

"This is where John Adams signed the famous treaty with the space aliens, allowing our cattle to be abducted... 10 years later they broke the treaty by abducting Arron Burr and replacing him with a robot."

"Little known fact, at night, Abraham Lincoln would sleep in the rafters over there..."

"This is the Senate Rotunda, originally used for cage fighting. It is also where Henry Clay met his untimely demise."

"The Senators play freeze tag on wednesdays, if you see one make sure you tag them before they get you or you'll have to stand there the rest of the day."

"This is the hall of columns, this is the dome of... height, this is the room of marble, this is the room of curtains and that's the soda pool."

"It is tradition that when entering Statuary Hall you must remove your shoes so as not to offend the statue of King Kamehameha, and your socks..."

"Some people say there's ghosts that still haunt the Capitol building. That of course is just a bunch of baloney, it's really just kids who were left behind because they asked too many questions, I'm looking at you bobby."

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Spelling-Bee

A while back I added a site tracker to my blog. I didn't really care about how much traffic I was getting, I just wanted to use it for fun. Boy has it been fun. One of the cool features of this software is that I can see what people are searching for, what they're typing into google that leads them to me. Sometimes my blog is exactly what they're looking for and sometimes it's the exact opposite... I won't go into details on that.

Today while looking through some of my traffic I let out an audible groan as I was faced with pure irony. It seems that someone from the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools was doing a google search for... "iMigration protests". Now, I am no spelling-bee (or grammar-bee) champ and am constantly confused by the easiest of words. I often find myself trying to spell things 3-4 different ways. I do expect people who work for school systems to be able to spell most things... say like, immigration?

Nintendo 64 on Christmas morning

This video is hilarious. The slow-mo growling from the little kids is what really sells it.

French Protests

As I've mentioned before, when I was in college I spent a great deal of time studying protests. I also spent hours watching footage from the Seattle WTO protests and studying the police response. As I'm watching the protests currently underway in France I am struck by the similarities between these two protests. The police response is hardly adequate in this mass of humanity. Police are surrounded on all sides as they push against a group of protesters, their backs are literally unprotected.

In Seattle, plain-clothes policemen had to travel through the rioting crowds with duffel bags filled with more tear gas. Those bags of tear gas were, minutes before, delivered to Seattle by way of private aircraft from other jurisdictions. While watching these small groups of policemen (5-6) standing in the middle of a crowd, kicking their shields I can't help but wonder when we'll see plain-clothes policemen carrying duffel bags through the crowd.

Also, whoever said that violent protest doesn't get your issue out, obviously was not watching the coverage of Seattle back in '99 or Paris in '06. I have never seen as much coverage of a protest on live television, nor have I heard so many anchors and analysts talk about the issue that they are protesting against. They have done a better job describing the issues in Paris then they have in discussing the issue with immigration here in the United States.

Last note, I was surprised to see how many of the protesters were carrying cameras. I would expect that pretty soon we'll be seeing these pictures up on flickr.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Immigration Pt. 4

(Check out Pt. 1 HERE, Pt. 2 HERE, and Pt. 3 HERE)

Illegal immigration to the United States will not be solved by any easy solutions such as a wall. The topic needs to be looked at from a different angle. Instead of asking how to stop people from illegally crossing the boarders, we need to step back and ask ‘why’ people illegally immigrate to the United States. The short answer is of course economic reasons. People emigrate to this country every day, legally and illegally, in order to start a better life and to make better money.

So then what can we do? Lower the quality of life in this country or help to raise the quality of life in other countries? In this age of globalization, many countries in South and Central America are floating in debt from both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Now, don’t worry I’m not going to launch into an unhinged anti-globalization argument. I am however going to question the efficiency of the programs run by these new economy global organizations. While their intentions are good, the outcome is harming our neighbors.

First things first, we need to rethink our economic interests in the southern hemisphere. Instead of sending factories south of the border in search of low-cost labor, we should ensure that CAFTA is implemented fully. That’s right, I’m coming out in favor of a trade agreement. The reason I’m doing so is because CAFTA actually has an entire section on labor standards. We as a country, with labor laws and the freedom to create unions, need to ensure that those countries we do business with follow our example. By raising safety standards, by raising the living wage in these countries we will be able to slow the illegal immigration into the United States. The downside to this, obviously, is that in return we will have to pay more that $8 for a garbage can. Are Americans willing to pay more at the big box stores in order to solve the problem of illegal immigration? I’m not sure.

In the mean time, if we as a society are unwilling to spend more on products, we need to protect those immigrants that are already living and working in the United States. One of the basic arguments against illegal immigration is the loss of jobs. As I stated before the reason these jobs go to illegal immigrants is the low wages. Instead of fining employers who employ illegal immigrants, we should be fining employers who are paying below an industry standard. This will be hard to prosecute, I understand, but some of the proposals on the table right now would be just as hard, if not harder to investigate and prosecute (See the WP article in my Immigration In The News post). Raising the wages for jobs traditionally taken by illegal immigrants will accomplish two things. First, higher wages will raise the amount of money that immigrants are paid, thereby eliminating the need for them to have 2-3 jobs. Second, it will make these jobs more attractive to people who would usually not take them.

Finally, I have a question. Does anyone have a real example (something that has happened to them, or a documented case) where illegal immigration has harmed the country or yourself? Since 2 people visit this site daily, I don’t expect an answer, but it’s something to think about.

A quick note...

On commenting. First, please do. I enjoy reading what people have to say. Second, please leave out any profanity or course language. As I've mentioned in the past my own rules on commenting are pretty lax, I've had to up the security recently though due to spam. Please don't let this deter you. That's all, don't spam and don't swear. Easy rules.

Immigration (in the news)

After reading this Washington Post article, I almost feel like I don't have to finish up with Part 4 even though it touchs on nothing that I wanted to say.

Help Wanted as Immigration Faces Overhaul (WP)

How Proposals Would Affect Business (WP)

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Immigration Pt. 3

(Check out Pt. 1 HERE and Pt. 2 HERE)

In national politics now, we have weekend warriors patrolling the boarders with weapons calling themselves Minutemen. These guys are viewed as heroes on shows such as Lou Dobbs while the religious leaders who are out to make sure those who do make it across the boarder are safe and well cared for, are derided as lawbreakers. My views on politics aside, letting loose a group of guys with guns on the border with absolutely no mandate is a dangerous situation.

On the more sanctioned side of things, people are also proposing building a large wall along the entire boarder of Mexico and the United States. To use sarcasm for a minute, this is a great idea. I believe that at this time we have better things to be spending our money on than trying to keep out immigrants from Latin and Central America. Some argue that if not to keep out illegal immigrants than to protect America from terrorists. They have a point, the hijackers on 9/11 did in fact enter America through an unsecured boarder where they were able to move freely once inside the United States. So I propose that instead of building a wall along the Mexican boarder, we build that wall along the unprotected boarder that terrorists have tried to get through and done so successfully, the Canadian-American Boarder.

I’m not saying that it will never happen, that possible terrorists will eventually try to enter through Mexico, but with the lax restrictions on immigration into Canada makes it a more convenient option. This is especially true as long as Terrorists want to be able to move around without raising suspicions. Just to make things a little clearer, I am not in fact advocating building a wall along the Canadian boarder either.

Along with the minuteman project and the possibilities of building a wall, there are several legislative solutions as well. The first of these is what has caused recent protests. It is H.R. 4437 the title is rather long and obtuse but the part of the bill that is causing contention is making illegal immigration a felony. The summary can be found HERE (CRS, Congressional Research Service is a non-partisan division of the Library of Congress.) The second option is to enforce current immigration laws and to create a guest worker program. This program is advocated by the President.

I have several problems with the wall and the immigration as a felony legislation and they come down to one real reason. Whatever your stance on immigration is right now, understand this fact; there are currently hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants living and working within the United States right now. As I stated in earlier posts it is not uncommon for them to have upwards of 3 jobs each. If we are to expel all these immigrants the American economy would crumble, food would not be prepared, hotels would not be cleaned and these are just the generalized examples.

Creating a hostile environment for illegal immigrants in this country will not solve the problem of illegal immigration, it will only serve to harm those carrying the American economy on their backs. The reason that these jobs go to immigrants is because they are in the underground and therefore it is not necessary to pay them a decent wage. To create a more hostile situation would only decrease the amount that employers would be willing to pay, not the number of immigrants.

Stay tuned for pt. 4 (HERE)

Immigration Pt. 2

(Check out Pt. 1 HERE)

The next argument will involve Josh and John. Illegal immigrants are lazy and jobless. It has been my experience and the experience of many others I know, that they are in fact not lazy nor jobless at all. Take Josh for example. Josh lives in a 3 bedroom house with the rest of his family and friends. How large is his family? Let’s just say he shares his bedroom with his wife, mother and father.

In order to pay for living like this Josh has 3 jobs. He once told me about all the places he’s lived and worked. Josh had traveled from El Salvador to Florida. In Florida he spent several years working on a citrus farm where he told me the pay was very much. Later he moved up to South Carolina working in the service industry, again he felt the need to move because the pay wasn’t enough to live on. After South Carolina, Josh moved up to New York City where he again worked in the service industry but left soon after for the same reason. He told me it was fun, but he wasn’t making enough. That is what brought him down to metro-D.C. Josh moved 4 times over the course of 5 years just to make enough money to live.

How many people can say they are willing to relocate so they can afford their bedroom? How many people are willing to relocate to another country in order to afford their bedroom?

John had a similar story but an easier time. John had two jobs working as cooks in different restaurants. During the day he would work at my restaurant and at 5:00 he would run, literally run, down the street to his next job located about 15 blocks away. John, because of his status as a cook makes more money than Josh but is still fighting to make ends meet.

I haven’t seen the three of them since the restaurant closed down so I’m not sure how their stories are going now. I do know that before the restaurant closed Jane was in the process of being deported back to El Salvador. Her Husband was going to be staying in The United States, while Jane traveled back with her daughter. Josh, obviously had to find a new 3rd job as did John. Now these were only three stories, but I assure you that they are not the outliers but the average.

Stay tuned for pt. 3 (HERE)

physical liquidation

What exactly do they mean when they say "physical liquidation"?

Immigration Pt. 1

The topic du jour seems to be immigration, so I feel like I too should jump into the void and discuss it here.

Immigration is not just a current topic, but has been a sore subject to Americans for many, many years. This recent incarnation of immigration uproar seems to be focusing on those people coming from Latin and Central America. First let me start by saying that when I worked in Congress, I disagreed with the people I was working with and for. They believed that to allow amnesty for illegal aliens would undermine the traditional means for legal immigration.

While I respected their opinion on this I still felt it unfair to those who had fought so hard to make it into our country. I’ve heard people say things such as “If those people marching loved America so much they’d be carrying American flags, not their own countries,”(emphasis mine). This of course was in reference to the recent marches held across the country. Perhaps they were striving more to show how the people in the march came from such a variety of different countries and how wonderful that was? Besides the fact that, that argument is so very weak. Ask any person on the street where they’re from and you will get all sorts of answers that do not involve the words United States of America.

I have also heard arguments about the economics of large scale immigration. Many people are operating under the belief that illegal immigrants are a major drain on our economy. This belief stems from the fact that most illegal immigrants do not pay federal or state income tax. This is true to a certain extent. They of course do not have social security numbers or the right to work in the United States so they do not, in fact pay traditional taxes. They are, however, consumers and as such pay sales taxes. They drive, and as such pay road tolls. Also small businesses who employee illegal immigrants earn more money because they do not pay immigrants as much, that money is again taxed and usually at a higher rate. Immigrants are not a drain on the economy, in fact they are the exact opposite.

Throughout these posts I will mention three friends of mine, I’ve changed their names for obvious reasons; John, Jane and Josh. These three friends are illegal immigrants and used to work in the same restaurant that I did. I’m going to mention Jane first because of the next argument. Illegal immigrants receive free health care and “we” end up paying for it.

The second week I was working at the restaurant Jane hurt her foot while grocery shopping. Another shopper had run over her foot with a fully loaded cart and broken her toe along with some other damage. Jane ended up spending all night in the emergency room only to have them bandage up her foot when she really needed stitches, her toe was not set. Did Jane walk out free of charge? Nope, she was charged over $300 for some gauze and the advice to “stay off her foot.” I heard this story the next morning when I walked into the kitchen and she was standing at the stoves cleaning them with one shoe and one sandal. Jane did not receive free health care and we are not paying for it.

stay tuned for pt. 2 (here)

Sleepiness

You know you're sleepy when you see the abbreviation for Tennessee and in your head you say Tennsylvania...

Friday, March 24, 2006

Busy day

It's been a busy day in the shenanoblogosphere... I just came up with that. Yes, 3 posts is a busy day.

Recently the Washington Post added a conservative blogger to their roll, titled Red America. Many others in the blogs have written extensively about this and I'll try to link to them at the bottom. What most people were talking about was how Red America's writer, Ben Domenech, already had a blog and it was called Red State. Some questioned why the Washington Post would go with this blogger who already has a foundation and site, when D.C. is literally filled with conservatives who are articulate. Some of these people came from within the Washington Post itself. Jim Brady, the executive editor of the Washington Post, stated that Red America was meant to balance out the paper, although he also said it wasn't meant to balance out anyone in particular.

So here is my question. Shouldn't a newspaper be objective, not subjective? I understand that blogs have a certain editorial board feeling to them but when they're aligned with a news organization shouldn't they differentiate in statements concerning balance? Some other bloggers have questioned why the Washington Post didn't roll out a Blue America at the same time as Red America.

Well all these questions are moot now. It turns out that Ben Demenech is a plagarist. GASP, a blogger accused of plagarism? Should bloggers really be held to the same standards of journalistic integrity as newspapers if they won't be held to the same standards of objectivity? Since this news has come out Mr. Demenech has resigned from Red America and this little experiment at the Post has come to an end. Perhaps next time around they'll be a little smarter about who they choose and how they set it up.

Red America(WP)

FishbowlDC


Michelle Malkin


Howard Kurtz (WP)

Social Networking

On MSNBC just now, a woman said this: "Teenagers are in as much danger on social network sites as they are walking around the streets of NYC." (paraphrased)

Ok... so can you get mugged on MySpace? What about the thousands of teenagers walking the streets of NYC right now? Are they in horrible danger? It's stories like that, that make me enraged. They have no facts to back up their outrageous claims but they decide to do it anyway because they're completely ignorant on the subject. We all know what Yoda says about ignorance. You don't know what Yoda says about that? Perhaps I have just revealed a bit of my dorkiness.

In Defense of Spring Time

Earlier this week I mentioned that it is in fact not supposed to snow in March, in Virginia, this is true.  We are currently about 20 degrees below the average temperature for this time of year.  

This part will seem like a digression, but get used to it, this post will be filled with them.  I come from a list-making family.  My mother makes several lists a day and my father has been known to make lists regarding his workday.  My mother relies upon lists so heavily that (this is a warning to my brother, I’m about to sell you out) my brother, Matt, once said; “if you took her lists away, she wouldn’t know what to do for the rest of the day.”  I myself have never been a list person; I rely upon a complicated post-it notes and legal pad arrangement that is sometimes supplemented by index cards.  To the untrained eye, it would look like chaos but it makes perfect sense to me.  I do however make lists, usually in my head, about things I like, dislike, want or don’t want.  For instance, I have a list of things I like about warm weather (light bulb, now it all makes sense…)

First, my favorite part about warm weather is waking up early in the morning, going outside where it’s already 90 or so degrees out, and taking in the convection like qualities.  Secondly, I enjoy two different tasks that can only really happen with warm weather, at least to their full extent.  When I was staying with friends in Maryland, I would metro down to Dupont Circle, grabbing a coffee and newspaper along the way.  I conducted my (first) job and apartment searches from a park bench in Dupont Circle.  Now when it’s warm out I grab a coffee and newspaper and head down to one of the many parks located along the Potomac in Old Town.  Why do I travel so far away just to sip some coffee and read the paper?

I have found that the distance in a trip is what makes a trip fun.  If it weren’t for the distance, it wouldn’t be an adventure.  I’m sure my friend Erica would beg to differ.  Most of our trips home involve my attempts to get her to snort diet Dr. Pepper from her nose.  To this day she still dislikes diet Dr. Pepper.  Also a side note to the makers of diet Dr. Pepper, it doesn’t in fact taste like regular Dr. Pepper, but I’m sure Erica would tell you that it does feel the same as regular Dr. Pepper when being snorted out of a nose at mach 2.

Back to the list, the second task that I enjoy on a warm day is grabbing a cheeseburger and a root beer.  This, of course, can be done on a cold day just as easily but it wouldn’t be the same.  A hot off the grill cheeseburger and a large root beer just taste better when it’s warm out.  Yesterday was the day that I was able to grab these two things.  For those of you who live in the metro-D.C. area and haven’t had a Five Guys burger, then you’re missing out.  It’s obviously not as good as any one of the Rochester area diners burgers.  But it will do and it did.  

Here’s hoping to more warm weather.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Constant Gardener

On my way back from Christmas this year my Mom put several books in my bag because I was in a desperate search for new reading material. One of these books was The Constant Gardener. I quickly went through this book and also ordered the movie through netflix. This was a great story, and memorable as well.

So when I came across this article this afternoon I was shocked by the parallels (right down to the same locations). For those of you who have not read or seen the movie, The Constant Gardener revolves around a story about a flawed drug used to treat drug-resistant TB.

Just in case you missed it in the post: Alarming Rise in Drug-Resistant TB

Software

I recently downloaded and installed something called Konfabulator. I have to admit that I am a PC person, but I am envious of one thing about Mac's. I love their desktop appearance. The very empty desktop and the zoom bar located at the bottom. On the one hand I'm of the mind that everything you use should be easily accessible at all times, on the other it drives me nuts to have to search through 15+ icons just to find a web browser or Microsoft Word. When I got my new laptop, the first thing I did was remove everything from the desktop except for the recycling bin and the My Computer icon.

Konfabulator, in theory, is a good thing. It is basically just a program that allows you to download "widgets" which are basically applets that perform different tasks. Once I had downloaded it, I realized that there are not that many widgets that I would want on my computer. So far, I have only downloaded 2 and used 1.

The first widget I downloaded is an alarm clock that uses your iTunes playlist as the alarm (haven't tried it yet but I'm looking forward to be awoken by my favorite songs). The second widget I downloaded was of course a zoom bar that looks very much like Mac zoom bar. After some tweaking I was able to put the programs on there that I use the most.

After those two widgets I realized that there was nothing else good about this program. There are many RSS readers, but I already use Thunderbird for that, so why bother with another program? There are about 200 different widgets so you can listen to individual online radio stations. Hey, I've got an idea, why not make one widget so you can listen to all the radio stations? Oh yeah, I forgot I use iTunes for that. Then there were about 1,000 different clock widgets. Anyone who's reading this blog, owns a computer so therefore knows that there's already a clock function available and absolutely no point to creating a new program for this.

All in all, not worth it for that one widget I now use. Kinda disappointing and I'm hoping they come out with some widgets that are actually helpful.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

High Speed Chase

There are only a couple of reasons that I will sit down to watch Fox News (GASP).  First, is after a major political story breaks, I tend to watch to see what the right is saying about it.  Second, if there’s a car chase in southern California.  That’s right, I’m one of those people.  When I worked on the hill, staffers would alert e-mail lists of car chases so that those of us who didn’t have our office sets tuned to Fox, could join in on the fun.

Tonight was one of those times when my television was taking in the action on the freeways of LA.  For 45 minutes, I watched an SUV weave back and forth through heavy traffic, ducking into McDonald’s parking lots and swerving around parked cars.  This is “good” tv.  I say good in quotes, because while it’s not the type of highbrow (Daily Show, Family Guy, Scrubs) television that I normally watch, it is something I just can’t turn off.  

This made me think about just how smart car chases actually are. This guy was accused of grand theft auto and to be fair that’s all I knew, he could very well have also murdered 30 people before he stole the car.  But is it worth it, the risk to the public both driving alongside and walking on the streets to have these high speed chases?  I know that police departments are constantly reviewing and questioning their practices in order to answer this question, but it seems to me that unless someone has committed a violent crime, there is absolutely no reason to conduct a high-speed chase.  

Except of course, if there’s nothing better on tv.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Things it's not supposed to do in March:

1.) SNOW

"Overheard" in D.C.

I don't go into the city very often anymore, so when I do go in I am quickly reminded of the crazy things that people say to each other within earshot of many, many others. So in the best traditions of Overheard in New York, I give you the few quotes I walked away with over the past two days:

"BOO!"
Context: Guy leaning out the window of a truck, driving past me on my way to the bank

"Well put the goddamn sign where I can goddamn see it!"
Context: Guy yelling at a garage attendant about not being able to see the 'lot is full' sign hanging over the garage entrance, I was across the street and saw it while he was pulling in.

"It's spring man, it's spring! Don't I look spring-full!"
Context: Homeless guy on the bridge as I walked into Georgetown.

"I told him to get out of my apartment, no one watches 'American Idol' on my tv."
"Seriously?"
"No, but I threw the remote at him."
Context: Riding the elevator in Longworth House Office Building.

"Where are you guys going?"
"To the Congressman's house."
"He in trouble again?"
Sidelong glance at me..."NO."
Context: Again, riding the elevator in Cannon House Office Building.

"F*** You Cheney!"
Context: Guy yelling at a limo that was not carrying Vice President Cheney through foggy bottom.

Monday, March 20, 2006

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

If you see a certain father o' mine in upstate New York today, make sure you say 'HAPPY BIRTHDAY!'

Happy Birthday Dad.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Dems V. GOP '06

So after my tirade the other day of the problems the Dems are facing in '06 I read two seperate articles today about how the Republicans are having the same difficulties with keeping things together. Although, I would assume not to the same extent as the Democrats are, see: Russ Feingold and censurship.

At the same time that these articles are coming out, new polls are showing some interesting numbers about where Democrats are headed in the coming months.

Newsweek: Repbulican Party: United No More?


WP: GOP Struggles To Define Its Platform for 2006 Elections

Up to no bueno (vol.1 issue.8)

The other day while waiting in line at the grocery store, I was flanked by a woman talking on her hands-free set. She was speaking rather loudly and I was wearing headphones, so you can't really call this eaves dropping ( I was in fact not dropping any eaves). She was in line to buy about 18 lightbulbs, three bottles of flavored water and a steak. In between wondering what in the world she was planning on making with those ingredients I caught little bits of her conversation. She was complaining about her current assistant and how sloppy she is;
"She comes into work without her shirt tucked in, who does that? I told her she has 36 days to get it together or else. What? No, she's great and she loves working for me but she dresses so unprofessionally."

I couldn't help but think about this poor assistant and what awaited her at the end of her 36 day probationary period. Isn't 36 days kind of a random amount of time to begin with? I mean who needs 36 days to learn to tuck in their shirt? I personally don't remember learning specifically to tuck in my shirt but I know it must have happened along the way at some point and I'm fairly certain it didn't take me 36 days to do it. I also know that on occasion it happens on it's own when I'm getting dressed and then I am forced to un-tuck my shirt if I'm going for a more casual look. Secondly, if your assistant likes what they're doing for you and they, presumably, are doing a good job, what does it matter if their shirt is untucked?

I have had numerous jobs throughout my life, 14 to be nearly exact and I haven't been fired from a single one. I have however quit 1 of them, which means that I've had 13 happy campers. This woman who has yet to learn how to tuck in her shirt may soon be fired over something that has nothing to do with her job performance. Why have I had 13 happy campers? Because I am constantly afraid that a poor job performance will lead to me being fired and in my paranoid mind all employers have a hive mind and will immediately know that I did bad at one job. So when I thought about this woman being fired over her less-than-stellar appearance, did I think I should turn around and say; "don't fire her if she's doing a good job!" or did I think; "I tuck my shirt in!"

Hey, alls fair in job searches.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Political Movements

When I was in college, I was required to write a thesis or an Independent Study. My major throughout college was political science with a focus on political movements, so when it came time to pick my topic for my thesis it was a no brainer. I chose to write about political movements. Why such an extreme focus you ask?

Tonight I went to go see V for Vendetta and it shed some light on the topic. In the movie, there is a scene in which tens of thousands of London-ites rise up against the oppressive dystopia that has ruled over them for years. That scene which showed a movement taking action was powerful. For those of you who have witnessed large-scale protests in person you will know what I am talking about. Seeing a mass sea of humanity passionately (if only for a day) expressing their opinion is again, a powerful thing. I realize that football and baseball games also have tens of thousands of people, but the feeling is completely different.

Over the years, there have been several key points in political movements. Today, when people are asked what words they would associate with protests, my guess is that they would say; Seattle, Vietnam, Iraq, Cooks, etc. etc. These may be the most obvious and televised answers but they are not what immediately come to mind for me.

When I was in college, Yugoslavia disbanded creating the several states that we now know as Albania, Serbia, etc. etc. While this may have started as a couple of wars prompted by then dictator Slobodan Milosevic (recently deceased), it ended with a mass political movement the likes of which had not been seen in eastern Europe since the fall of the Soviet Union. The most hearkening part of this movement, the best part of this story, is when the army which was sent to thwart the citizens, stood down. They stepped aside and in some cases joined with, the protesters. Before Yugoslavia came China and Tiananmen Square. The starting of that movement is complicated and I suggest you read as much about it as you can, but again the most powerful moment was captured and broadcasted around the world instantly. You may remember it as well. The last moment I will mention occurred recently and you may remember this as well. Again, it took place in Eastern Europe, this time in the Ukraine. The "Orange Revolution", where people slept in a tent city for weeks waiting for democracy to take hold.

I mention these things not for any ulterior reasons but because I've been watching a lot of movies lately that seem to focus on dystopias (V for Vendetta, Ultraviolet, etc. etc.) and it makes me feel better to know that if things ever get that bad, people (of any nationality) will fight back. I also mention these movements because this is my blog, and I find it fascinating.

"Citizens shouldn't be afraid of their government, government should be afraid of its citizens" - V for Vendetta.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Link-o-rama: The Vanishing Link

I was looking for a part IV movie title for this weeks link-o-rama, but I found this instead; hence the vanishing link. I thought about it last week and said to myself: "Self, no more link-o-rama's, it's a cheap way to fill up blog space" but then I just kept finding more and more links I wanted to share, in fact I have so many links this week I can't even use them all. So here are the winners.

A great editorial on how much time Congress will be in session this year: The Part-Time Congress (WP)

Breaking news: Barry Bonds Does Steroids!

Pretty cool, and nerdy, idea. What if one of Odysseus' soldiers had a blog? (of course he would have used Blogger): Under Odysseus

Every summer Washington-ites complain about the tourist mob that threatens the stability of our sanity on the Metro. Now these would be tourists can learn a subway system before they get to their desitnation or figure it out once they get there: Subway Navigator

South by Southwest just took place and there were several panels on bloggery. Luckily for those of us who couldn't get down to Austin for the fun, they have podcasts... of the panels, not the music. Check out the Jason Kottke / Heather Armstrong keynote panel: SXSW

Some people may have heard about this story, but for those of you who haven't, check out the strain on US - Canadian relations this digital camera caused: Lost Camera

Lazy Sunday



Saw this on Kottke.org, listen for what the guy in the van says at the end. For those of you who can't tell what it is he's saying: "Those things can't be that good..." At any rate this line is ridiculous and I fully agree with the van-guy, no cupcake is worth that.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Exceedingly Eloquent Concession Speeches

While watching Boston Legal tonight the character Alan Shore gave one of his speeches that made me stop and think for a minute or two. He talked about how when the missing WMD's happened, he thought the American people would rise up and then when Abu Ghraib and renditions and warrantless wiretapping. He talked about how he was continuously frustrated by the lack of interest by the American people in these seemingly scandalous events. Now, the purpose of this post isn't to make my father immediately close his browser, it's to vent my own frustrations.

To move from David E. Kelly to Aaron Sorkin for a minute;
"People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They're so thirsty for it they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand." (The American President)
I know what you're going to say, both of these guys are liberal. Perhaps they are, so what. They're both right... to a certain extent. The Democrats (myself included) have been sitting on the collective couch for years, grouching about any number of things and waiting, I'm gonna say that again cause it's important, waiting for people to agree with them. Now, to a certain extent this plan is working. I mean if President Bush has a 36% approval rating and that's 2x as much as the Vice President how can you mess that up? How about by sitting on the couch?

Democrats need to understand that leadership isn't just waiting for a chance to lead, it's leading when no one is looking. Right now the approval ratings for everyone are down, not just the Executive branch. The last couple of election cycles the senior Democrats have stood outside the Capitol building, trying to sell a variation on the Contract With America. The problems with this idea are so numerous I can't even use a variation on two-fold or even ten-fold. But I will shrink the list down in the hopes of making this a readable post.

The Democrats Contract(s) with America tend to be vague ideas on what they may do when they attain control of the Congress. The Contract(s) also usually come out about one or two weeks before the election, way to late to even make a difference. Lastly, and this goes hand in hand with the last reason, the Democratic party is a "big tent" party. By "big tent" we are referring to a party that is made up of many different viewpoints and ideologies.

For instance in the Democratic party it is O.K. to be against abortion in any form, just ask the Governor of South Dakota. While this sounds good in theory, it doesn't work very well in reality. The Dem's have several leaders; Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Howard Dean, Chuck Schumer, Joseph Biden, John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, I could in fact list every member of the Democratic party at this point. When Howard Dean says something that Harry Reid disagrees with he comes out and says it and the same is true about everyone else. Again, while good in theory, it only makes the party look like what it is; fractured and incapable of action.

So now, to the point. Democrats need to get off the couch. Instead of trying to capture what Newt Gingrich and the Republicans did in the '94 election, try something different. I agree that it's important to have a common voice and a party platform, but if it's too little too late then why bother? Come out now, or better yet 4 months ago, with a coherent and policy laden plan. Make that plan easy to understand yet comprehensive. Make sure that those who are running in primaries get word of this plan and agree with it. Better yet make sure that Democrats agree with it, and I'm not speaking of party activists but mainstream Democrats. One of the main arguments that Dem's like to pull when they're being criticized is their lack of a bully pulpit. They argue this as if Tim Russert, George Stephanopolous, etc. etc. would turn down requests to appear on the Sunday morning talk shows to unveil a new policy strategy.

Lastly, I know that those in control of the party now believe that it is "their turn" to run things. How very, very wrong they are. Not only should this not be a turn based system, it shouldn't even be close to an aristocracy. Their are tens of thousands of active Democrats out there. Everytime the Dem's lose an election they're not only squandering money donated, they are letting down their supporters. What exactly is the point of a party that is only good at two things; soul searching after a loss and as Sarah Vowell put it: "writing exceedingly eloquent concession speeches".

Friday, March 10, 2006

Takin a Break


Goin home for the weekend. Check out Weather.com for what I'm leaving behind and what I'm getting in return. It's like 74 degrees here today and in New York it's about -20 degrees with a chance of penguins.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Reviews N' Stuff

What's that you say? You haven't been to Reviews N' Stuff yet? Well guess what, there's reviews of Mini-Wheats, Domino, Running Scared, two reviews of Ultraviolet. What are you waiting for that's good stuff.

And seriously, let us know what you'd like to see a review of. This stuff isn't going to review itself you know.

Back to the point

Last week I had a second interview that went, well let’s just say it didn’t go how I would have liked, because it didn’t. It wasn’t what I said or what they said, it seems to me now that it perhaps wasn’t a great fit. When people are interviewing prospective employees they aren’t just looking for someone who is competent, if you’ve made it to the second interview they already have screened you for that. What they are looking for is someone who would be a good fit with the rest of the employees. Anyone who has ever hired me knows full well that the person they interviewed (professional, nervous me) is not the necessarily the person who comes into work on the first day (professional yet sarcastic and laid back me).

While the second interview didn’t go great, it also wasn’t horrible. At the end of the interview they informed me that they would be making their decision sometime early this week. That brings you up to speed to today. I haven’t heard back, which raises an interesting question for me. I’m not good about writing thank you notes, in fact I hate it. It takes me about 2-3 hours to figure out what I want to say, to write it out once or twice to check handwriting and what not and then once more as a final copy. One paragraph of about 4 sentences can take me about 30-40 minutes to write out longhand. But here’s the thing, I do it. I always write thank you notes after an interview, informational interview etc. So why then, is it that I never get a call back if they haven’t chosen me?

I understand that it’s not a fun thing to do, to call someone and give them bad news. I have in the past, been forced to call them back and ask, “I was just checking in because I hadn’t heard back…” Every time I’ve had to do this, I’ve been disappointed. Why force me to wait around only to make what turns out to be an embarrassing and morale busting call? It only seems like the polite and professional thing to call someone when you’ve told them you will. Now, just in case there’s any confusion, I haven’t in fact heard one way or another whether I actually got this job but I’m guessing since it’s the end of the week and not the beginning, that I haven’t. Also, I don’t hold this against them. In the long run I understand that people are busy and if there’s a list of things that needs to get done and this unpleasant task is on them I wouldn’t want to do it either. But once again, I would, even if I didn’t want to.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

You asked for it, I've got it...

A lot of traffic lately is looking for Jon Stewart. Well I've got the next best thing.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

1st Amendment Rights


There was an awesome protest at the Capitol today. When I worked on the hill I would see a protest of some sort almost every oher day. I loved seeing these protests, whether I agreed with them or not, the amount of energy coming from a group of people passionate about an issue is awesome.

Todays protest was anti-anti-immigration or you know, pro-immigration.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Link-o-rama: Return of the Link

Early in the week links, they were just starting to pile up.

30 Second Bunny Theater, a troupe of bunnies parodies movies in 30 seconds: Angry Alien

Hoth for the 2014 Winter Olympics: Hoth2014

Short post on the utility of blogs: "Because you can't live in a hammer"

How backwards is Virginia?: Living With Outhouses in 2006 (MSNBC)

A whole site dedicated to better photography: Just Show Me How To

If you click on this link and stand in front of your computer you'll look like Bush when he went to the NSA, no joke: Talisker Computer Network Defense Operational Picture

LEGOS!!!: Top 10 Strangest Lego Creations

And last, but certainly not least, I give you... the new X-men 3 trailer: X3: The Last Stand

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Live Blogging-ish: The Oscars

(scroll down for updates)

By all accounts people will probably say that Jon Stewart bombed in the opening of the Oscars. There were few laughs from the audience. I find this a little annoying and amazing, considering the fact that most of the people in the audience have at one point sat across the desk from Jon Stewart and laughed hysterically at his jokes.

Nonetheless, I know I was laughing at Stewart's jokes and not out of pity.

Ben Stiller, Tom Hanks, Steve Martin, Whoopi Goldberg, David Letterman, Billy Crystal and Chris Rock all helped out with the same quirky style of humor. We'll see how the rest of the show goes. All I'm sayin is that if I have to miss out on another week of the West Wing and an episode of Gray's Anatomy then they better start laughing at the jokes.

8:45pm Update: I'm a fan of Zach Braff... but seriously, how many years in a row are they going to have animated presenters? Does the Academy really expect us to be awed by this still?

8:55pm: Will Ferrell and Steve Carell are taking the stage soon. I'm expecting Stephen Colbert to come running out at any moment. This has to be some indication of the entertainment value of the Daily Show. I read somewhere that they only reach about 1.5 million viewers yet both Jon Stewart and Steve Carell are appearing in the superbowl of the entertainment industry.

9:01pm: wow, did they really have to cut the mic on that woman who won the oscar for the chronic-WHAT-les of narnia.

9:13pm: Lauren Bacall had some trouble reading off the prompter, perhaps she needed her glasses? Kinda cringe-worthy.

9:15pm: Jon Stewart has brought his daily show humor to the Oscars, FINALLY. Some awesome fake Oscar campaign commercials for best actress. (i.e. Dames for Truth: anti-Judy Dench, Kiera Knightly: Acting despite being beautiful).

9:26pm: Best song performance -Crash- why do I feel like I'm watching a mid-90's MTV video? FYI the woman who was singing and who also composed the song is Congresswoman Andrea Wyatt from the West Wing (Toby's ex-wife).

9:55pm: Jon Stewart is right, how many montages can they really put in one show?

10:05pm: Lily Tomlin rocks.

10:20pm: I read earlier in the week that they weren't going to edit out the song from Hustle and Flow but they did. I think I heard "Witch" about 25-30 times.

10:27pm: Sweet! more campaign commercials!

10:44pm: Oscar Winner Hillary Swank -- Didn't she win for The Core?

10:48pm: PHILLIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN!! Hometown boy done good. Phil and I ( I call him that cause we're close) went to the same high school... like 15 years apart. Still we're from the same town. Look for Fairport High School to appear in People magazine next week.

11:01pm: Every actor out there who thinks you can't go from poorly written/ directed popcorn movie (Legally Blonde 1 & 2, Sweet Home Alabama) to oscar winner need only check out Reese Witherspoon, not to mention Jamie Fox (Stealth) and Hillary Swank (The Core). Did they let her talk for like 20 minutes or what?

11:04pm: Best picture is up next, guess it's time to go to bed.

11:11pm: Best screenplay speech: I guess when you're a winner you can wear whatever you want. I don't think you're allowed to say something that deep when standing next to someone who looks that dufus-y. Oh and Larry, next time "Wear an undershirt, dude."

11:20pm: Ang Lee: "I wish I could quit you." He doesn't get to say that, I don't care if he won the oscar or not, he has subjected all of us to years of "I wish I could quit you." Not cool Ang, not cool... but you know, congrats on the whole oscar winning thing.

11:22pm: Best picture winner is...

11:23pm: Crash, honestly though who didn't see that one coming? Plus, how many people are goin up on stage? That's like 1/4 of the audience standing up.

11:28pm: I guess they felt the need to cut Paul Haggis off from giving his speech so that they could end for the nightly news... and so that Jon Stewart could go on Jimmy Kimmel live. Like they couldn't run over by 3-5 minutes.

11:30pm: This ends my first and likely only live-blogging experience. Funny how the boredom of watching the oscars brought it out. I figured my first live-blog would come from something like the State of the Union or something. Oh well, hope the few who read it enjoyed.

footnote: for those of you who want to see what actual liveblogging is like check out Gothamist.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Up to no good (vol. 1 issue. 7)

A lot to go through in this post I'll try to do it quickly. First, as you may have noticed above I have gotten around to changing the header. It only took many hours and many "Hey Joel... how do you...?" before it was accomplished. Let me know what you think.

Also I posted a picture (off my trusty cell phone "celly") of the view from my soon to be ex-office. Jealous?

Thirdly, about a month ago I started an experiment on this blog. The experiment involved Google Ads not-so-strategically placed along the top and side of the posts. As of yesterday I have to say that while these ads aren't paying the rent, they are making some $$$. So thank you to everyone who has been clicking away. Perhaps some day these ads will pay for actual server space so that this blog won't be hidden away in the blogger basement. Not that anyone's really going out of their way to find it.

Lastly, in my previous post about wonkette's new commenting policy I neglected to mention how I have no policy. Except that is to say I don't approve spam in my comments. I'm glad I didn't talk about my own low standards. Some of you may have noticed that the newest addition to the Supreme Court stopped by for a quick visit and left a nice little comment. Thank you to Justice Alito and I hope he becomes a regular reader, perhaps from time to time he can send a note over explaining his reasoning behind decisions and whatnot.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

link-o-rama: The Links Strike Back

This is where I post all the cool links I have found while searching the far reaches of the internet... or you know, the stuff I find while I'm supposed to be doing other... stuff.

Everybody loves a Wiki and I love Halo, it's only natural that I would like: Halopedia

Courtesy of Osaka Steve, this RV-style car is awesome: The GMC Pad

The stuff you hear people say in a city is quite remarkable. Luckily someone's been keepin track: Overheard in New York

Courtesy of Kottke.org, trailer mash-up of Toy Story 2 and Requiem for a Dream: Requiem for a Toy

Yet another @work website for lollygaggiers, get back to work! Office Pirates

And a shameless, shameless plug... shameless: Reviews N' Stuff

I'm cool now...

Recently the Wonkette, and other Gawker sites rolled out commenting on their posts. The catch, though, was that you had to be invited by the individual sites in order to be allowed to comment. At first I thought this was just Wonkette being exclusionary and snobbish. Then they sent me an invite today and I realized just how low their standards really are.

Now, I have been heard saying: "I want to get a commenting pass so that I can talk about how much the new editors suck and how Ana Marie Cox was way better." Now that I actually have a pass, I won't do that, cause I'm cool and you're not. I will, however, up the ante. Since I have nothing to really add to the snark 99% of the time, you can send me your comments and I will be your wonkette, gawker proxy. Anything you send me I will post on their sites. good deal?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Holy Cr@p

Those of you who know me, know that I can be pretty partisan. Lately though, I've been looking at things through a lens called "how would I react if this was a democrat?" Tonight I was watching Lou Dobbs, there was nothin else on leave me alone. They broke in with a developing story about a video showing Bush getting briefed ahead of Katrina. Let me just say when I saw this, I didn't even need to pick up my new lens. This is ridiculous, this is outrageous and I have a feeling that no one is going to care and that makes me more mad. If you haven't seen this you should.

Bush warned before Katrina

Up to no good (vol. 1 issue. 6)

For those of you who were wondering how my interview went with the DCCC, it went really well/ meh. You see, I had two interviews. The first one obviously went really well and the second one went alright but I have no idea how they felt. I should hear back sometime next week as to whether I got the gig or not, so I'm sure I'll write something about that later.

In other news, I lament my decision not to write about work on this blog. So many funny things happen at work and I can't talk about them. Oh well.

One thing I can talk about is my neighbors. I'm talking about the neighbors who walk around wearing wooden clogs. Now, I've never seen them wearing said clogs but I can only assume that they consider them their 'house shoes'. You see every morning I am awakened by the sound of someone walking back and forth, back and forth, back and forth for 30-45 minutes. It's not a plodding walk but a "Oops I forgot something I'm gonna pound over to my dresser to get my keys." You know what though? no one forgets their keys 20 times in a row. It's just impossible! So then why do they feel the need to walk so much? Who knows. Joel has hypothesized that they're not walking so much as rolling a giant rolling pin with pegs on the floor. When they're not rolling things on the floor they're discovering which pieces of furniture can fall over in the middle of the night. Let me tell you, all of their furniture can apparently fall over in the middle of the night. It's like they went to Ikea, stopped in at the bargain room and found every piece of 3 legged furniture they could find. I'm sure if I was in their apartment I would see 3 legged chairs, 3 legged coffee tables, 3 legged beds... well you get the idea.