Monthly Archives: February 2009

Time Magazine thinks you have the attention span of a newborn baby

An excerpt from some pithitude called 'Why Facebook is for Old Fogies':

3. We never get drunk at parties and get photographed holding beer bottles in suggestive positions. We wish we still did that. But we don't. (See pictures of Beer Country in Denver.)
[…]
6. We're old enough that pictures from grade school or summer camp look nothing like us. These days, the only way to identify us is with Facebook tags. (See pictures of a diverse group of American teens.)

Whose desperate idea was it to insert these parenthesey links at the end of each paragraph like this?

After a stand-up comic tells a searing story about, for example, his premature ejaculation with his girlfriend, you don't want him to suddenly stop and say 'For more information on this and other sexual dysfunctions, there is an information booth in the back with a number of pamphlets. Now, back to the hilarity.'

I genuinely feel sorry for the writer of this piece. This is the closest thing to gang rape a team of marketers can inflict on an attempt at art. Your editors are deliberately trying to distract readers away from your story, dude. You're trying to affect a Cool Dad tone, and every time you make a funny, grandpa calls in from the next room: 'Lemme show you some pictures!'

Also, 'A diverse group of American teens'?!  Would anyone want to click on a gallery that is marketed in this way? Imagine the popularity of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition if it was advertised as 'See pictures of fertile teenagers affecting awkward poses in bathing attire'. 

I know the Internet is supposed to be this endless frontier of connected interests and journa-augmentation, but take it easy, Time. Sometimes it's OK to have 100 words in a row without any of them being blue and underlined.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

1 Comment

Filed under Random

British Airways paid 219 kroner each for these pictures

Here's some pictures I forgot to post from my layover-let in London earlier this month. To be honest, I could have taken an early-morning flight back to Copenhagen, but I opted for the 6.30 pm flight because I wanted to hang out in London for the day. The city was just melting out of the worst snowstorm in 20 years, so the streets were all gleamy and sled-streaked. I'm glad I stayed.

-

-

 

-

-

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Leave a comment

Filed under Random

British Airways pays it forward


Dear Mike

Thank you very much for your letter.

I am extremely sorry your journey was disrupted by the heavy snowfall across the in the beginning of February.  I know how it must have affected all your other travel arrangements, and been a long and tiring journey for you.

As a result many of our flights that day had to be cancelled or diverted.  Please be assured throughout this situation, our great concern was for our customers and the effect that it was having on your travel plans.  We did everything we could to protect as much of our flying programme as possible.  I am sorry your flight hat to be diverted to Prestwick airport.

I am sorry that we could not provide you with hotel accommodation for your unplanned stay in London.  The sheer volume of passengers caught up in this disruption caused a shortage of hotel rooms around the London area.  I am pleased you managed to make your own arrangements.

Thank you for sending in the receipts for your out of pocket expenses.  I have arranged a bank transfer of DKK875.00 to your given account.  Please allow up to two weeks until this amount is shown on your bank statement.

I am very grateful to you for following this up with us.  I hope we will have the opportunity in the near future to welcome you on board.

Best regards,

[BA Customer Service Lady]

Yes!

I'm amazed that companies even do this anymore. 'Specially airlines, whose current business model looks more unsustainable with each passing day (and plunging airliner). I stayed at a savage Paddington roachey, and literally subsisted on nothing but Brick Lane bagels for 24 hours, thinking this letter from BA would read something like 'it's not our fault it snowed. Nice try, you toffy thwallop', or however you say 'unrepentant homosexual' in Englandic. 

But they paid me totes back! I'm actually flying BA to London in a week to show some friends around and attend a wedding (!) where I'll be the best man (!!). Maybe I'll refrain from sexually harassing the stewards this time to express my gratitude.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

1 Comment

Filed under Random

Stuff I don’t have an opinion on: The auto bailout

-

 

James Surowiecki

:

I don’t really understand the logic of spending $800 billion on a stimulus package designed to create jobs and keep the economy from sinking into a deflationary spiral while at the same time, in order to save $20 billion, forcing the automakers into bankruptcy, which would threaten hundreds of thousands of jobs up and down the auto-supply chain.

I seriously have no idea what I think about the auto bailout (or re-bailout, or attempted fuck-decluster, or whatever) at this point. I keep flip-flopping every time I read anything about it. It seems like for every argument there are five counter-arguments.

It's funny how this New Media Landscape we're all talking about, what I've been calling The Opinion-Fisting of The News-Hole, is making me less sure of my opinions rather than more. It's enough to make you want to get back to the simmering mediocrity of the '90s.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

5 Comments

Filed under Random

That’s it, I’m fucking shaving

Whatever, I know it doesn't exactly look Grover Cleveland after a week, but great fuck it itches. Is it possible to have face-lice or something? It feels like a million grasshoppers are struggling to be born out of my cheeks.

In 15 minutes, I'm going jogging. After I get home and shower, I'm taking a Mach 3 to this motherfucker like a springtime park ranger. Fuck looking like an adult, I want my face back.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

3 Comments

Filed under Random

Do church congregations really grow during recessions?

-

My friend Derek, a reporter for a newspaper that mocks the immensity of his awesome with its small-townity, posted a note responding to the New York Times claim that 'During each recession cycle between 1968 and 2004, the rate of growth in evangelical churches jumped by 50 percent.'

This has to do with numbers, and how journalists use them.

Let's look at the sentence. Growth RATES increase by 50 percent. It's cited just like that in the Times article. Sounds impressive. Except it's not. Well, not that impressive. I Googled the actual study, [PDF] which found a correlation between economic downturns and an increase in Evangelical growth. The growth rate increased from .98 percent to 1.52 percent in recession years. Now that lands with a turd-like thud on the page, doesn't it? Citing it as a percent change will sex that right up.

A 1 percent to 1.5 percent increase is indeed a 50 percent rise in the rate. (Ex: If your church has 1000 members, it would grow by about 10 people in a non recession year, or 15 during a recession.)

It's not to say that journalists shouldn't have reported the study, and in the reporter's defense, the citation was pretty far down. However, expressing the change in growth rate as a 50 percent "jump" gives people the impression that Evangelical churches GROW by 50 percent in recessions. At best, it makes the issue unclear. At worst, it distorts the truth.

I have no doubt I've been suckered by companies, governments, etc., using fuzzy math to make the numbers look more impressive or less damning. (And reported them.) But journalists shouldn't willingly fiddle with numbers like Play-Doh.

If I say there was a 300 percent increase in assaults in Yourtown, USA, it's shocking. But if I tell you the total went from 2 to 8, it's not so shocking, is it? What so often happens is that the more impressive interpretation of the numbers hits the echo chamber, context be damned. "Tonight at 6:30, one local town is reeling after learning assaults increased 300 percent!"

If you're going to report the percent change, I think you owe your readers the raw numbers, too.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

2 Comments

Filed under Random

Letter from Mom: Protec’ yo’ paperwork, son!

-

My mom forwarded me an e-mail from a friend of hers, describing the ordeal of her daughter trying to get into the UK:

In a nutshell, Kelly left the States to go back to England after spending Christmas break at home, returning on her still-valid student visa. She had decided to take a year off between Masters and Ph.D., and had applied for a post-student work visa, as she had a good chance of working as a research assistant at the Royal Academy of Music in London. That visa application had been initially denied due to a one-word discrepancy in Cambridge's supporting letter (they used the term 'end date' rather than 'approval date' (for her degree) – though, in any event, the new wording only came into effect on Nov. 1, and they had sent their letter on Oct. 31). Kelly was appealing this, with Cambridge's full support.

However, when she went through Immigration at Heathrow on Jan. 5, her work visa refusal came up on the computer and she was detained. Those six hours in a detention cell were a nightmare, as she was denied her rights in several ways. She did finally manage to ring our dear friends (who were colleagues in Fiji, now in Cambridge – with whom Kelly had been living since graduation). Felicity is a lawyer and was able to reach a topnotch immigration lawyer, who immediately faxed through the required injunction halting Kelly's (illegal) deportation. Unfortunately, the immigration officials refused to read the fax and deported Kelly anyway. Seeing how she and her fellow detainees were treated was a shocking eye-opener for Kelly, to say the least.

Kelly is now with me in North Carolina, having to completely reorient her life. She had planned to stay in the UK indefinitely, to do her Ph.D. there, and so on. Her things are still in Cambridge, including her cello and most of her clothes, and she has a 10-year ban on entering the UK (now being appealed by a lawyer – so there will be a lengthy and expensive court case).

Kelly is now penniless, and it is now too late to apply for Ph.D. programs in the U.S. for the upcoming academic year, which starts in September, so she will have to wait another year and a half. She is beginning to get some work now as a music editor, which she can do from her laptop here, and she will try to take on some voice or cello students, although given the economic meltdown that will be difficult.

Living in Denmark, you hear stories like this all the time. Unread applications, drunk-with-power officials, misunderstandings blown up to felonies, etc. A French friend of mine was left in a holding cell at the German-Danish border in his underwear for 12 hours because a guard didn't trust his vehicle registration. For example.

I haven't had to deal with the capricio-crats of the Danish Immigration Service for about 18 months now, since I'm on a 3-year bid, but this story makes me feel like I should be preparing my waiting room poker-face for the next round.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

2 Comments

Filed under Random

The housing bailout is a dish best served cold

-

A letter from a reader of a popular conservative blog, headlined 'No Irresponsible Citizen Left Behind':

I live in Santa Cruz, California, where the median home price shot up close to $900,000 at the peak of the real estate boom. My wife & I realized that there was no way that we could afford to buy a home responsibly, so we reluctantly decided to rent forever. Many of our friends who are financially reckless decided to buy condos with no money down adjustable rate interest only loans.

I don't understand why the government should bail these people out. If I had known that reckless financial behavior was going to be bailed out I would have bought one of these homes. I know that we need to fix the economy, but I feel like we are going to be punished for being responsible.

The government should bail these people out because not doing so would be disastrous for the economy. Dick.

I know it's hard to fathom, but the collective prosperity of the future may just preclude us from punishing people who believed that they were rich for a little bit there. What possible purpose would it serve to let these people go into bankruptcy, other than diddling your own 'if I can't have any M&Ms then nobody can have any' g-spot?

One of the great invalidators of right-wing political movements in America and Europe is this placement of retribution above all other considerations. It is not particularly prudent, in the long run, to allow a significant percentage of your citizens to go bankrupt and lose their houses. Nor, while we're at it, is it particularly prudent to have a permanent, impoverished underclass just because you believe welfare 'rewards' people for bad behavior such as having children.

Most left-wingers don't support social security, quality public education and free healthcare because we think having a baker's-dozen family and being unemployed need rewarding. We support those things because they make everyone better off. Don't worry, rent-monster, not even Nancy Pelosi can tax away your smug satisfaction as you help your friend load his couch into the We-Repo-U van in Santa Cruz. Some things are just too pure for the government hand.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Leave a comment

Filed under Random

Based on Brock’s glimmering example

-

I'm not gonna be shaving for at least the next month, possibly longer. It's been a week now, and I'd say I'm firmly in the Patchy Homeless stage. I hope to make it to Recently Divorced Father of Two in Custody Battle before spring.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

1 Comment

Filed under Random

Aw cute, some people still think the church opposes gay marriage in good faith

-

New York Times op-ed this morning:

We take very different positions on gay marriage. We have had heated debates on the subject. Nonetheless, we agree that the time is ripe for a deal that could give each side what it most needs in the short run. […]

It would work like this: Congress would bestow the status of federal civil unions on same-sex marriages and civil unions granted at the state level, thereby conferring upon them most or all of the federal benefits and rights of marriage. But there would be a condition: Washington would recognize only those unions licensed in states with robust religious-conscience exceptions, which provide that religious organizations need not recognize same-sex unions against their will. The federal government would also enact religious-conscience protections of its own.

So we gays are allowed to have all the rights and responsibilities of marriage. As long as they don't rub Evangelical Jack and Jesuit Jill the wrong way.

Most Americans who favor keeping marriage as it has customarily been would prefer no legal recognition of same-sex unions at either the federal or the state level, we believe that they can live with federal civil unions — provided that no religious groups are forced to accept them as marriages.

So, to recap: 'What do we want? Rights! When do we want em? Soon! Ish! Unless you don't want to!'   

-

Look, Journa-Gay: Compromises like this, while vaguely interesting between bites of Corn Flakes, just cut a head off the bigot-hydra. As soon as you neutralize one of the justifications for Evangelical Yuck, they will just shit out another one.

First they hated you because you were going to molest their kids. Then they hated you because being gay was a choice and a sin. Then they hated you because you were promiscuous. Then they hated you because you wanted to settle down. Now they hate you because you're the bigot, potentially restricting their freedom to teach their kids that your nature makes you a cancer on the human race. Tomorrow they will hate you because you put mustard on your French fries, or because you pushed 'Avenue Q' into profitability.

There is no point in arguing logically or philosophically with bigots. The reasons behind gender and racial equality were just as good in 1810 as they were in 1920 or 1964. It just took a few generations for the bigotry-clouds to lift.

Lame compromises like this are like saying, in 1893: 'OK, you want to lynch us and we don't want to be lynched. Since both of us are intractable in our positions, how about we say that you only lynch us on Thursdays and Saturdays, and only if we really deserve it?'

That's riding hyperbole right to the Offensive County line, but when you believe you're right, and objectively are, it's insulting to read bullet-points laying out the dimensions of the appeasement of people who will always hate you. Fuck the Evangelitards. Gay marriage now. Geez.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

4 Comments

Filed under Random