Monthly Archives: March 2012

Misanthropic Asshole

I posted on Facebook earlier this week that I often have to struggle between being a compassionate, humanistic person on the one hand, and a misanthropic asshole on the other.

Studying history can provide inspiration to be both: you can look back and find examples of people helping each other in dire situations, and you breathe in deeply, feeling compelled to go and help make your world a better place.  But then you read another document and find out that it was another group of people who actually created that dire situation in the first place!  So, then you’re deflated and you just want to go punch a baby, or kick a small, cute fuzzy animal.

I guess it all depends on that damn metaphorical glass, and if it’s half full or empty.  Honestly, I’d rather just drink the whole thing and not wonder if it’s empty or full (especially if it’s a Jack & Coke).

This week, I’m definitely a misanthrope.  I want to go back to Georgia, find the middle of our 400 acre farm and never see another living soul.  Except when I had to go to the library for books.  Wait, there’s Amazon for that.  So no, I’d never have to see anyone again. Ever.

I just don’t see how people can be so damn self-centered and just plain-ass ignorant.  Everyday, I tell myself: Don’t be judgmental, don’t be egocentric, appreciate difference for they are the different fabrics that make up the human quilt, blah blah blah gag.  I do appreciate difference, but (un)fortunately, stupidity spans the human species, so I don’t have to respect or appreciate it as a cultural difference.

Everyday I go into the bathroom in the library (my second home), and see toilet paper and paper towels scattered all over the floor…even though there are two trash cans in the tiny room.  The urinals are never flushed, so I’m greeted with the odor of stale piss.  All of this…at a university library.  We’re not talking about a preschool here!  The people that are doing this are at least 18 years old.  Jesus, don’t they think about the people who will have to come in at the end of the day and pick up after them? It blows my mind.

And then, this morning, I was on the subway, heading to school, when the train couldn’t go any further because there was some type of technical difficulty.  The conductor eventually found out that something was wrong with one of the doors and it wouldn’t lock.  Therefore, as a safety precaution, the train wouldn’t go without all of the doors secured.  After spending about 10-15 minutes on the radio with headquarters, trying several different things, the conductor announced that there was nothing more he could do, and we had to wait for a technician to arrive.  You should have heard some of the responses that people yelled at the man.  “This is bullshit!”  “I’ve got to get to fucking work!”  One lady (and I use the term loosely) actually called the conductor an asshole.

I get it: it’s annoying, frustrating, throws the rest of your day off.  We all get it, people!  But getting mad at the conductor?  Calling him an asshole?  Really?  As if he sabotaged the train himself so that you wouldn’t get to work on time…as if he loves being yelled at, mocked, and ridiculed….as if he himself doesn’t find the whole damn ordeal aggravating as hell.

And don’t even get me started on how no one around here can take an extra 0.75-1.5 seconds out of their day to hold a door for another human being.  I’ve watched little shit-heads let a door slam in the face of another person whose arms were full of stuff.  It’s simply beyond my comprehension.

Are we really in such a hurry, engrossed in our own lives, Tweets, and iPod tunes, that we cant look up from updating our Facebook to have some genuine connection with other people instead of letting a pane of glass or slab of metal slam in their face?

So, after a 45 minute subway ride that should have only taken 12, I walked out of the station and got on a bus and headed to campus.  Side note: the delay usually would have put me in a bad mood, but it didn’t for some reason today.  Maybe it’s because it was a break from the monotony of daily life: wake up, read, write, sleep, repeat.  I kind of wanted the brakes to malfunction, leaving us hurtling towards the end of the line while the conductor and I (because my historical training would be so very useful) tried to find something to do in order to save all of the elderly women, veterans, priests, and orphans on board.  Oh yeah, and the family of cute baby animals on the last car.

I guess they live on the train…

But, what ended up happening was that the technician came, over-rode the security feature, thus allowing the train to continue even though the door wasn’t locked.  I was not quite as exciting, but we didn’t stop at any more stations, so maybe the people on the platforms, who were watching us going flying (again, I use the term loosely) past them, thought we didn’t have any brakes.  All the while, the supervisor was holding the door shut with sheer physical strength…aka, he was jamming it shut with his shoe.  Riveting stuff.  

Anyway, I got on my bus, trying to keep my mood from bottoming out, so I got into a conversation with the bus driver.  Believe it or not, we discussed German philosophy (she had just finished reading Kant’s Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime during breaks on her route), the Holocaust, and her ancestry.  Then she picked up on my accent and asked where I was from.  As it turns out, she lived near Eufaula, Alabama (Google that shit) for several years….Which is just 25 minutes from my home town (I’m from GEORGIA by the way – not from Alabama! Heaven forbid…)  So, we spent the rest of the time talking about Piggly Wiggly, pecan pie, mosquitos, chiggers, and fried catfish. It was nice, just talking to a stranger and finding out a little about them.  Made me think humanity might not be so bad after all.

Of course, we didn’t get around to the fried catfish until we were at the bus stop, so I stood outside the door as she held up the bus until we were finished talking. So, I’m sure there were some folks on the bus with their earpods crammed into their brain, wondering Why is she waiting to talk to this guy?!  What the hell is taking SO long (25 seconds)?!  Don’t they realize that I have class soon?  

But I didn’t care.  They can all take their half-empty glass and shove it.


Categories: Humor, Random Info | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

The Cloud Remakes America

By Marco R. della Cava, USA TODAY

Link to original article, here.

Quick, take a look around. Your stuff is disappearing.

Not long ago, homes would greet you with physical manifestations of personality — stately books, shiny CDs, classic movies on DVD, glossy photo albums. But all those touchstones, and more, are quickly changing from atoms to bits and taking up residence in the cloud, that shared virtual warehouse-in-the-sky being built out by Google, Amazon, Apple and others, where they await retrieval via our phones, tablets and computers.

The digitization of our lives is exploding: Last year, music downloads surpassed CD sales for the first time; e-books went from novelties to a billion-dollar market in a flash; and streaming is becoming the preferred way to take in films and TV shows.

So does that signal the death of materialism, of possessing, of collecting? The answer is as complicated as the technology.

“Anyone who has ever picked up a shell on a beach has the collector gene,” says Silicon Valley futurist Paul Saffo. “There’s little difference between someone who saves old Kodachrome prints in a garage and the person who stores digital photos online. If anything, the collector gene will be unleashed by the cloud.”

Spencer Haley, 33, who works at fabled Powell’s Books in Portland, Ore., once proudly displayed 3,000 hardcovers in his home. But since a Kindle joined the family, he and his wife are down to a few hundred. “As long as the content hits my visual cortex, it doesn’t matter what form it comes in,” he says.

For Haley, collecting still means adding to those prized first-editions on his shelves. But it also refers to the list of e-books on his tablet, the book reviews he has amassed online and the friends who follow his recommendations via social networking.

“I missed flipping pages for about a day,” Haley says. “I don’t have CD or DVD racks anymore. Having things stored in the cloud just fits my lifestyle.”

But for others, the black-hole nature of the cloud only heightens the old-fashioned need to embrace something solid. Denver high school senior Ethan Hill is no stranger to gadgets and streaming subscriptions, but he adores collecting music on vinyl.

“There’s nothing like going into a record store and coming home with something in my hand,” says Hill, 17. “It’s a possession I’m proud of. I double-click on iTunes all the time, but it’s not the same.”

Collecting as socializing

This tech-driven shift is seismic; even the vaunted Encyclopedia Britannica soon will cease to exist in physical form. But the cloud is giving the concept of possession broader meaning.

Where it once meant “holding on to something in your room, now it’s about engaging with others online around a social object,” says Harvard tech culture researcher David Weinberger, author of Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren’t the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room.

“Everything is heading into the social cloud,” he says. “Books on shelves used to serve that function, but to a very small group that usually already knew you. It’s the difference between fetishizing objects or celebrating them online, where at least you can make friends.”

Given that actual ownership isn’t required to form connections online around areas of mutual interest, the line between owning and renting is blurring. In a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey on attitudes toward the cloud released in February, 90% of respondents were “somewhat” to “very interested” in the concept of storing and accessing content from a personal digital library. Most were specifically interested in the cloud as a rental hub.

“Two things happened in the past years: Technology improved, and the economy got worse,” says Theodore Garcia, managing director of PwC’s entertainment, media and communications practice.

“You remember when people had 500-disc DVD changers? Well, that’s when DVDs were impulse buys. Today, the value a consumer places on a physical disc is far less. It’s not about owning. They want to view the content and move on.”

Netflix knows that all too well. Its subscribers streamed 2 billion hours of movies and TV shows in the fourth quarter of 2011, a massive move away from the DVD rental model on which the pioneering company was founded.

“It’s the skinnying down of America and the whole world,” says Steve Swasey, a spokesman for Netflix. “It’s great to buy a book or DVD, but in truth, how many times will you read or watch it? Technology has always been a catalyst for consumer shifts. Look at young people today; their whole life is in a phone or a tablet. They seem to want to do with less, to be unencumbered.”

Other major cloud-computing players agree that for many consumers, less can be far more.

“I collected books and albums like everyone, but in the old days, you’d quickly run out of space in your house and risk renting a storage locker just to keep your stuff,” says Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet software and services, overseeing the company’s varied content stores as well as its iCloud service.

He notes that iTunes’ Cover Flow feature, which lets users scroll through titles, is the modern-day version of flipping through albums. “Streaming (music) is great, because it’s about discovering new music. But eventually, if it’s something that’s meaningful to you, you want to own it.”

Mitch Singer, the chief digital strategy officer for Sony Pictures, says “we all have collecting in our DNA.” Singer also serves as president of UltraViolet, Hollywood’s foray into the cloud, which allows you to stash movies purchased from a variety of sources in a digital locker.

On Tuesday, Wal-Mart announced a “disc-to-digital” service through UltraViolet that lets customers bring in their standard- and high-definition DVDs and — for $2 and $5 respectively — buy full digital access to that content. “Owning is fundamentally about sharing,” Singer says. “If you can’t share, you won’t collect.”

Going beyond the object

Sometimes it’s not even about sharing an object of obsession. In the past, displaying a worn copy of Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon or Hermann Hesse’s Siddharthamight have earned you hip credentials, but today it’s as much about what you have to say about those masterpieces.

“We don’t view the Kindle as a device but as a service that helps define you to others,” says Russ Grandinetti, vice president of content for Amazon’s e-reader. “In the past, you’d walk into someone’s house and see books on shelves. Now, you share all that virtually, along with your notes on a book and suggestions for other books.”

Grandinetti says the upside of the cloud revolution often is overlooked by those who lament the cultural demotion of objects.

“Maybe the record or CD collection is gone in physical form, but people listen to more music than ever,” he says. “What you must remember is that digital representations don’t necessarily totally replace the real thing. The physical object in some cases becomes an art object.”

Architect Mark Demerly says today’s homes are being designed to reflect both the cloud and physical collections as entertainment equipment shrinks and display areas grow to accommodate prized possessions.

“You’re talking about very sophisticated folks who are fully connected to the Web, but they still want to see these things that mean so much to them, whether that’s books or Civil War memorabilia,” says Demerly, an architect in Indianapolis who is chairman of the American Institute of Architects‘ custom residential committee. “It’s about telling people who you are.”

That is something the Web does masterfully. And perhaps to a fault, says Wiredmagazine writer Steven Levy, author of In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works and Shapes Our Lives.

“The digital age has such a strong component of broadcasting and sharing that it’s almost like you’re doing it for self-promotion,” he says. “But there’s a difference between what I buy and showcase for myself at home and what I list online to say, ‘Here’s who I want you to think I am.’ ”

Levy used to collect vintage lunchboxes until the joy of the hunt was killed by the ease of eBay. Though he says younger generations seem to care less about physical objects, he predicts a growing “retro mystique” around collecting. “Fundamentally, collecting is a commitment to something, and that’s powerful,” he says.

The album-cover blues

Eileen Gittins remembers those days. The fiftysomething CEO of Blurb, an online self-publishing site that caters to photographers and authors, says she recently was hit by a wave of sadness when she realized she had no idea what musician was streaming through her home’s speakers.

“You used to have this moment when you bonded with the artist through the actual album, but now there’s nothing to see, and it bugs me,” Gittins says. “Our company caters to people who want to have a physically beautiful object, either to hold onto themselves or to give as a gift.”

Gittins is no Luddite, and she happily embraces the trend of sharing photos through a range of cloud-based social networking sites. But precisely because it’s so easy to share photos on Facebook, images we elect to print out are imbued with greater importance.

“You come back from Thailand, and maybe you want to preserve that memory in a book of photos and not a link to Flickr,” she says. “By bringing something into the physical world, you’re saying it matters to you.”

In fact, what mattered to many Boomers — physical objects created by others — is different from what has meaning for the next generation, says Jyri Engestrom, an Internet entrepreneur and founder of Ditto, a social networking site.

“My children aren’t interested in physical representations of media, they are far more intrigued by objects they create themselves,” Engestrom says, noting that he is an investor in a 3-D printing company called Tinkercad, which lets two-dimensional designs come to life.

“The sheer force of the utility of the cloud will cause us to let go of books and CDs and DVDs,” he says. “What we want to consume, we’ll stream. What we’ll collect, we might not even use.”

The cloud is here to stay. But for many, that doesn’t mean the advent of a stuff-less society.

Denver high-schooler Hill says trolling old record shops for music made by ’80s power pop bands such Nikki and the Corvettes isn’t about bucking the latest tech trend. It’s a pastime that helps shape who he is.

“I applaud people who can get rid of material objects,” Hill says. “But I like to have things around that connect me to moments and memories in my life.

“And I think I always will.”

Categories: Science/Technology | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Pics, Pics, Pics



The ultimate fast food showdown!


And in keeping with the TV show theme from my last post, I found this one. If you don't know which two shows these are, and you were a kid in the 90s, then shame on you!

Categories: Humor, Random Info | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

My Most Favorite TV Shows Ever

I’ve had a lot of homework lately, so naturally I’ve spent a lot of time at my desk thinking…about all of my favorite TV shows.  So, I’ve compiled a few lists below of some of my favorite shows that I’ve watched throughout the years (and  I’m even going to include a couple of guilty pleasures).  Each of the titles in the lists is a link; you can click on it and it will take you to a webpage about the show, in case you’ve forgotten that the show even existed, or if it’s just one you’ve never heard of before.  

I’ve tried to rank them in order of how much I love them, but that’s kind of hard sometimes.  The #1 in each section was easy, but once you get to #3 and below, it’s a little wishy-washy.  We’ll just say it’s a rough draft.  Okay, so here we go: 

My Favorite Shows From When I Was A Kid (aka 90’s Shows):

  1. Rocko’s Modern Life
  2. Doug (Nickelodeon’s version; take that Disney crap outta here!)
  3. All That
  4. Are You Afraid of the Dark?
  5. Legends of the Hidden Temple
  6. Salute Your Shorts
  7. The Secret World of Alex Mack
  8. The Adventures of Pete & Pete

* I’ve actually already thought of one that I had forgotten (so it gets its own picture).  And I’m not sure how I forgot it, because I know that everyday as kids my brother and I rushed off the school bus so that we wouldn’t miss it; I’m also sure that we had every single action figure from the series, and went as one of them for every halloween:

The Mighty Morhpin Power Rangers! (The original, please.  None of that time-traveling space ninjas nonsense. How can you even have Power Rangers without Rita?!)

 Also, I keep every single ticket stub for the movies that I see.  The oldest one that I have is from the Power Rangers Movie.  When I scanned it, it made it hard to see, but it’s from July 6, 1995. Price = $3.50.  

Favorite TV Shows That I’ve Watched All Of, Except the Last/Latest Season (I’ve got to catch up!):

  1. HOUSE
  2. The Sopranos
  3. Brothers & Sisters (you can never have too much Sally Field) 
  4. Shameless
  5. The Big Bang Theory
  6. How I Met Your Mother
  7. Harry’s Law (A sassy Cathy Bates…with a pistol?  I believe I will…)
  8. The Big C
  9. Gilmore Girls (guilty pleasure; I have no excuse) 

My Favorite Shows That I’ve Seen Every Episode Of: 

  1. Everybody Loves Raymond
  2. The Golden Girls (yes, I know that this makes me a 65 year old woman.)
  3. LOST (even though a season or two there in the middle got a little iffy)
  4. Will & Grace
  5. Reba (another guilty pleasure – and say what you will, but Barbara Jean is hilarious)
Shows that I’m watching right now:
And My ALL-TIME Favorite TV Show EVER:

So, tell me:  What do you think?  What are your favorite shows?  Do you love some of the ones I’ve posted?  Hate them?  Better yet, do you have any to recommend to me? 

Categories: Entertainment | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

KONY 2012

I woke up this morning, went down stairs to get my coffee, and then – of course – logged on to Facebook.  I had 4 or 5 stories in my newsfeed claiming “KONY 2012.”  Of course, I thought some new Republican nut-job (or even better, perhaps a sane one) had entered the US presidential race.

But, I clicked on the YouTube video and quickly became aware that it wasn’t talking about US politics. Instead, it’s calling for action against Joseph Kony, the leader of a guerilla fighting group called the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).  Kony is trying to establish his bloody and violent rule, based on the Ten Commandments, in Uganda and other neighboring central African countries (according to the Independent).  One of the ways he’s trying to do this is by capturing young children, indoctrinating them, and forcing the girls into sex slavery, while the boys are given guns and machetes and forced to be child soldiers.

I won’t say any more here; the video has all of the information.  The “KONY 2012” campaign (homepage: is led by the group Invisible Children, and they’re hoping that if more people know about his crimes (he is the #1 criminal on the International Criminal Court’s list), there will be more pressure on the world’s governments to help arrest him (he was already indicted by the ICC in 2005 for 12 counts of crimes against humanity, plus 21 counts of war crimes).

It’s a great campaign.  And, it looks like they already got some results:  Last October, President Obama sent a small number of US Army advisors to Uganda to help the Ugandan army hunt down Kony.

So, it’s an excellent cause.  I can’t help but be a little skeptical that it will work though.  I’ve seen people get all excited about a cause before, and then Facebook releases a new layout, and we all have something new to complain about.

However, I’m going to be optimistic on this one, and hope that some change will come from it.  I really don’t think there’s anything wrong with being idealistic.  So, I’m going to share the video, and ask that you do the same.

The video actually makes me think of an autobiography that I read probably about four years ago:  A Long Way Gone – Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah (homepage for the book: here.)  It tells a similar story, but it doesn’t take place in Uganda.  Beah was forced to murder people in a savage army in Sierra Leone in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  The book tells the story of his time as a boy soldier, but also of how he escaped that life.

It is, of course, a heart wrenching story.  But not only because of the horrible things this child was forced to go through.  It’s also because, in the end, Beah says that he would go through it all again – the confusion, the fear, the migraines, and the soul-destroying guilt – if it would save even one other boy from having to go through that.

So, let’s pass along the information, and see what happens.  Social Media sites played a large role in the Arab Spring recently, so maybe they can help catch a criminal.  But first, we have to make him infamous, make him known. 

Categories: Politics/Current Events | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments


I’m just feeling in the mood to share some things that I think are inspiring, or at least nice to think about. 




Categories: Ideas & Philosophy | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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