Friday, December 29, 2006

the times really are a changing

"Men and women are becoming just as good friends as if they were with their same-sex friends. The dynamics have changed. I think the opposite sex is no longer really such a mystery as it was before," says Jeffrey Chang, a sophomore at Clark University, a school of about 2,800 students.
Research finds cross-gender friendships are more common among young people. A 2002 survey by American Demographics and Synovate found that 18-to-24-year-olds are almost four times as likely as those age 55 and over to have a best friend of the opposite sex. More than 10 percent of those ages 25 to 34 reported their closest friend to be of the opposite sex.
"I have a variety of female friends - many are entirely platonic, some of them I am attracted to," says Danzig, who sees Wesleyan's rooming policy as an extension of the school's rejection of traditionally defined notions of gender. "There's less pressure to behave the way that stereotypically males and females are supposed to behave."

Thursday, December 21, 2006


NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE - news) Chief Executive Hank McKinnell will receive $198 million in total compensation after his departure in February, the company said in a filing on Thursday.

Well it is not likely that anyone I know will have access to those sort of resources this holiday season, that said it is the Holidays and I am giving thanks...for lots of stuff, see below:

1. Serious quality time with friends that I haven't had time with in what feels like ages. I feel renewed and proud of how well I pick friends, cuz they are awesome.

2. Serious time with family. Can't call it quality because all time with my family is quality time:) So instead just time, For sister's wedding, for the holidays and just serious time after being away for so long. It is very nice.

3. For happy endings. I took a lot of risks and crooked paths recently. I went with my gut for the first time, for a sustained period of time, ever. It looks to have worked out well and I am off on another adventure with hopefully much more wisdom and patience and sense of purpose.

4. For a Democratic sweep of Congress, it seems so long ago that I was wailing about the rising of the dark lord and I feel like there has been a reprieve. Thank you American public.

and finally...

5. For love. I have been so thoroughly reminded of the power and optimism inherent in love. I assume life will throw me in the dirt again before I'm through, so I am calling out my gratefulness now. It is necessary to be loved and to love, everything else is just a game:)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Not good news

by smintheus at Daily Kos

Here is a collection of highly remarkable and inconvenient facts about Iraq that I've assembled from cross-examining the report (none stated explicitly anywhere in the document, however):

p. 27: Since January, sectarian executions have increased more than five-fold.

p. 25: Average weekly attacks are up more than 100% since summer 2005. Civilian casualties are nearly 3 times higher than they were a year ago. And as high as that rate was in the previous quarter, it continues to mount.

p. 45: The number of Iraqi battalions in combat dropped slightly during this quarter.

p. 42: Although the number of Iraqi security forces is said to have increased this quarter, the majority are Ministry of Interior forces, which have a phenomenally high (but unspecified) rate of absenteeism. Therefore the increased numbers are illusory.

p. 17-18: Since the start of the quarter, both oil production and electricity generation are down. Electricity is being generated at a slightly lower rate than in 2004, though unmet demand has greatly increased. Oil revenues are down since 2004.

p. 27: In every region of Iraq surveyed in October, the proportion of respondents who said they were somewhat or very concerned about the outbreak of civil war was never less than 25% (and perhaps a good deal higher, given the vagueness of the chart). That's substantially worse than the attitudes in a survey from November 2005.

p. 29: Between August and October, the confidence that Iraqis expressed in the ability of their government to protect them from violence dropped between 30 and 80% in many provinces. In most of the other provinces that did not witness steep drops, Iraqis already had virtually no confidence in the government.

Another feature of this report, on nearly every page, is the determination to find some way, any way, to put a more positive spin on the grim news. Typically, that involves finding a wider context in which the information appears less depressing.

For example, on p. 24 the chart depicting the average daily number of attacks by province manages to find two ways to draw the reader's attention to the fact that some of the most dangerous provinces have relatively low populations (as if that made matters better). There's even a bizarre "Population weighted map" of Iraq poking like a stick-pin into the center of the chart.

And when the report describes "the nature of the conflict", it begins by focusing on foreign fighters. It even claims that "a few foreign operatives are responsible for the majority of high-profile attacks" (p. 21), whatever the heck that means. Two pages later, the section concludes with a long discussion of the "foreign influence". Hence an understanding of the conflict begins and ends with those foreign meddlers.

There's a rather curious chart on p. 28 reporting how Iraqis responded to the question "How safe do you feel in your neighborhood?" Evidently the questioners did not feel safe enough to conduct the survey in Anbar province, but let's set that aside. In nearly half of Iraq, large majorities reported that they feel very safe. Wonderful news, then. Except, isn't it the case that neighborhoods are often the last bastions of safety in Iraq, that neighbors have cooperated in protecting each other and barricading their neighborhoods against outsiders—at least until the ethnic cleansing reaches such an intense pitch that the neighborhood is cracked open and the terror descends full bore upon people? So the question appears to be framed in such a way as to maximize the appearance of stability in certain regions that are beginning to be torn apart.

Monday, December 18, 2006

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Literate Good Citizen

You read to inform or entertain yourself, but you're not nerdy about it. You've read most major classics (in school) and you have a favorite genre or two.

Dedicated Reader
Book Snob
Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

Exactly-post from Daily kos that explains my reaction this morning

I could understand if the general manager of a strapped, small budget rural TV program had to let them go. They might be nice enough fellas, and it's not like they make the weather happen. Hey, they may sincerely be drawn to the science of weather, perhaps they're also trying their level best. Maybe they're just extraordinarily unfortunate. Who knows? But if you're a farmer out there in TV land watching these clowns mangle the forecast night after night, none of that matters does it? Because such a pair would be worse than useless as TV weathermen, downright embarrassing in fact, one might even argue that at some point they would become a potential liability. See, they're not just wrong: they're so spectacularly wrong, so often and so consistently, that new units of wrongness have been specially created and named in their honor.
But what do you with them if you're major network, like say, NBC? Well, apparently, if you're a senior NBC programming director, or Tim Russert, or whoever makes these kinds of decisions, you give them an entire segment, unopposed, together, to more make predictions about the deadliest national weather event in a generation on the most prestigious, highly rated weather program in the United States.
Yes, I just caught the rerun of this weekend's edition of MTP and I'm stuck somewhere between ... bemused and aghast: David Brooks and Tom Friedman, on Meet the Press, two of the most wrong columnists in America on Iraq, opining and predicting the future of our involvement there, while wide-eyed Tim Russert leads them on, smiling with warm affection and fatherly approval?
NBC, are you fucking kidding me? Is this some kind of new satire schtick along the lines of the Howard Beal Show? Because as legit, competitive, news programming, it makes no sense. It's worse than makes no sense -- it makes Russert and MTP and the entire NBC news department look like out-of-touch, incompetent, comical, pitiful caricatures of what a tough, pragmatic major news department should be all about.
If one considers the timing, these already incomprehensibly stupid selections make even less sense, coming as they do after the military, many Republicans, and a none too happy electorate, have had all they could take, and finally gagged and vomited up the foul, bitter, putrid crap this same exact pair of shitheads have been trying to shove down our collective throats for three years and calling manna from heaven.

not good at all

The report, released by the Treasury Department' and the president's Office of Management and Budget, found that under the accrual method of accounting, the deficit for 2006 would have totaled $449.5 billion, not the widely reported $247.7 billion incurred under the cash system of accounting.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Blogger Beta

So I changed to Blogger Beta and I think it looks pretty cool? I think that those of you who post will have to re-register. Let me know if you have any issues.

Where NOT to Work if You are Gay

The two "0" scores are:

Exxon-Mobile (Esso).

Only five companies rated at the next worst level, score 15:

Nestle Purina (Alpo, Beggin’ Strips, Fancy Featst, Friskies, T Bonz).
H. J. Heinz Co. (Clasico, Ore Ida, Smart Ones, Weight Watchers)
Nissan North America (Infiniti). (NOT to be confused with Toyota Motor Sales USA; Lexus Scion, which scored 90)
Bayer (Aleve, Alka-Sletzer, Femstat 3, Midot, One-A-Day, Flintstones Vitamins)
Cracker Barrel Restaurants

Friday, December 15, 2006



It's been a while. This being unemployed is surprisingly busy. I'm not complaning mind you, just fascinated at the things that take up your time when you don't work. I got to spend a day with the children of my college friends which was awesome, because one of the hardest parts of living in Phoenix was feeling lousy about not getting to see them grow up. I feel much more connected now.

Also...I got the job and am moving to Philly! Will post more later.

Monday, December 11, 2006

and just because AZ won't get this

Dude! You're 100% from Massachusetts!

Dude! Me and Sully and Fitzie and Sean are gonna hit Landsdowne tonight after the game, hang out at the Beerworks. I'll pick you up at the Coop at 6.

How Massachusetts are you?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Crossing the Rubicon

"Berry was undeterred. Then as now, when branded a Luddite, Berry rises to the
group's defense. 'These were people who dared to assert that there were needs
and values that justly took precedence over industrialization,' he writes; 'they
were people who rejected the determinism of technological innovation and
economic exploitation.'"

Even now, after centuries of reductionist
propaganda, the world is still intricate and vast, as dark as it is light, a
place of mystery, where we cannot do one thing without doing many things, or put
two things together without putting many things together. Water quality, for
example, cannot be improved without improving farming and forestry, but farming
and forestry cannot be improved without improving the education of consumers —
and so on.

I had a terrible day today for reasons not worth going into, but during it I was reading Wendell Berry who is quoted above. One of my most intense fears in life is that I will be overwhelmed and lose hope...that the future will stop being an adventure to be pursued and will become instead a prison of time to be endured. I disagree with several of his theorems on the economy, progress, technology and his definition of community, but reading him today let me feel where hope resides when the actual day offered nothing but overwhelming disappointment. I will go to sleep still believing in Machu Picchu.

Freedom, in Berry's view, is not about unconstrained individual autonomy,
but rather about choosing which constraints we will abide by and which
communities we will be responsible to.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

How is this possible?

WASHINGTON - Fannie Mae erased $6.3 billion in profit in a long-awaited restatement Wednesday capping the accounting scandal that stunned financial markets and brought the ouster of top executives and a record fine against the government-sponsored mortgage leader.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

It's only entertainment

Some people are aware that I am mildly obsessed with all things Hollywood. I have ridiculously arcane gossip on a depressingly wide array of celebrities for no justifiable reason. I say, if you want to understand the world we live in, watch how we portray it and who we pick to portray it. Obviously there are numerous dissertations on the impact of media on people's perceptions of the world we live in.....yadda yadda yadda....

I have a friend and she's been telling me to watch Studio 60 for several weeks now. I finally watched it tonight and the overwhelming power of storytelling made me cry. They had musicians from New Orleans playing msuic to back drop of a photo montage of New Orleans and its people.

We sat by and let a city drown. The news never mentions it anymore, except occasionally to tell us about the criminality, the displaced "people" (read black and poor) impact on the "quiet" (read white and not poor) towns they went to, and how no one anywhere (read Federal, State or local government) can or will do anything about it. We watched as one our greatest, most creative, talented cities drowned. And old shallow Hollywood is working to remind us.

Monday, December 04, 2006

How the World Works -

"Monsoon Katrina
'Extreme rain events' are on the rise in India, says a paper published in the Dec. 1 issue of Science magazine. From 1981-2000, the incidence and intensity of heavy rain bursts during the monsoon season rose, as compared with the 1950s and '60s. Overall rainfall has stayed about the same, attributable to a drop in moderate rain events. (Thanks to SciDev.Net for the link. )
The culprit: climate change. The prospects: grim.
Another recently published paper, included as background material in the much publicized Stern Review on climate change, offers up some context for understanding the potential consequences of increased monsoon volatility.
The population of India is expected to increase to about 1.5 billion by 2030. Food production must increase by 5 million tons per year to keep pace with this increase and ensure food security. Much of this extra production will need to come from rain-fed agriculture that comprises 70 percent of the farmed land -- but these rain-fed farming systems are acutely vulnerable to climate variability and change.
So what's the problem, you might ask, if rainfall isn't declining? Ask a farmer who has just had a flash flood send her topsoil into the nearest river. Extreme rain events aren't good for settled agriculture.
Just a few minutes ago, How the World Works was reveling in the satisfying return to global sanity signified by John Bolton's resignation as ambassador to the United Nations. But it didn't take long to get a reminder of how turbulent, and unsettling, the rest of this century promises to be. Monsoons, typhoons, hurricanes -- we'll need some stronger umbrellas. "

How the World Works -

"But BusinessWeek's article portrays U.S. employers from a quite different angle; expending millions of dollars in good faith on audits attempting to ensure that workers are treated well, only to be fooled and tricked by the iniquitous Chinese. 'Can corporations successfully impose Western labor standards on a nation that lacks real unions and a meaningful rule of law?' asks BusinessWeek.
Certainly not, if those same companies are threatening to move to Vietnam at the first sign that the Chinese government may actually be attempting to institute meaningful labor standards!
This is not to say that the new labor law is some kind of panacea that will achieve what the audit firms hired by Nike and Wal-Mart cannot. A law is only as good as its enforcement, and Chinese authorities have a long record of being selective about just which regulations they'll chop your head off for disobeying. Nor is it easy to deny BusinessWeek's sobering conclusion, that no matter how hard the audit firms work, 'Ultimately, the economics of global outsourcing may trump any system of oversight that Western companies attempt.'
But BusinessWeek's failure to consider what the Chinese government is attempting to do might be partially explained by its use of the word 'impose' in its question about how 'Western labor standards' are going to be inculcated in China. The choice signifies an incredible lack of sensitivity to how Western demands, for anything, play in China today. Gunboats impose demands. Trading partners, theoretically, negotiate a deal. Anyone who thinks the West is going to impose anything on China at this stage of the game isn't paying attention. "

Friday, December 01, 2006

Remember its not paranoia when they really are watching you!

"WASHINGTON - U.S. companies will need to keep track of all the e-mails, instant messages and other electronic documents generated by their employees thanks to new federal rules that go into effect Friday, legal experts say.
The rules, approved by the Supreme Court in April, require companies and other entities involved in federal litigation to produce 'electronically stored information' as part of the discovery process, when evidence is shared by both sides before a trial.
The change makes it more important for companies to know what electronic information they have and where. Under the new rules, an information technology employee who routinely copies over a backup computer tape could be committing the equivalent of 'virtual shredding,' said Alvin F. Lindsay, a partner at Hogan & Hartson LLP and expert on technology and litigation."