Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The roflcopter

Because it's necessary that you see this.

Because it's that bad.

Thanks to Ethan.

Cat fight in the Capitol

Make sure to watch the video of Kerry not apologizing. It makes me miss 2004. I was never obsessed with Kerry or anything but it kind of makes me glad to see he has some chutzpah after all.

Kerry doesn't apologize

Obama in 08?

I don't think I really care, but this is kind of disillusioning.

Doesn't really matter much, but I feel like if Obama does end up running, we will hear lots of stories that will rub some of the shine off of the idol.

Oh well, I just love the story about Obama admitting that he inhaled when he smoked pot because "that was the point."

And, that's pretty much all I did that day.

Yay, Jim!

We need a little more old Jim in the new Office. I didn't realize till I read this little blurb how much I missed him messing around with Dwight.

New one this Thursday!
Article about Colin Powell in the New York Review of Books

The recurring thump of the Vice President's sharp elbows becomes a leitmotif. On one occasion, when Powell called over to Bush's staff to say he was hastening to the White House to write some diplomatic language into a letter on the Kyoto treaty that was about to be dispatched to Capitol Hill, Cheney hand-carried the letter himself up to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue before the secretary could go to work on it. On another, Cheney dictated an ultimatum to Turkey to a desk officer at State, ordering him to transmit it without showing it to his boss. Another time he and Bush drafted new instructions to the ambassador at the North Korea talks without bothering to tell their top diplomat that they'd substituted their directive for his. Powell had to assume these slights were intended to put him in his place.

Monday, October 30, 2006


More on the CR diet in the NY Times (so coincidentally like 4 days after the NYMag one).

I wonder if it's about the obsessive attention to nutrients and vitamins, less than the diet. Slightly overweight people live longer than underweight people and longer than obese people. At any rate it's still interesting and strange.

Despite the initially promising results from studies of primates, some scientists doubt that calorie restriction can ever work effectively in humans. A mathematical model published last year by researchers at University of California, Los Angeles, and University of California, Irvine, predicted that the maximum life span gain from calorie restriction for humans would be just 7 percent. A more likely figure, the authors said, was 2 percent.

“Calorie restriction is doomed to fail, and will make people miserable in the process of attempting it,” said Dr. Jay Phelan, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a co-author of the paper. “We do see benefits, but not an increase in life span.”

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


There are ravens outside my window.

Okay, so they are probably crows, but there are seriously a bunch of big black birds kind of hovering outside. Two of them have flown down from just above my window down to the rooftops below and they're kind of scaring me. Who wants a bunch of scary black birds hovering around you?

I guess they are getting ready for Halloween.

Monday, October 23, 2006


I'm officially fascinated.

Not committed or anything, but fascinated. What a weird idea. And oddly enough not that far away from conventional diet methods: cut calories, replace foods that are "empty" nutritionally speaking with foods that are packed with benefits (fiber, antioxidants, omega-3, etc.). Any fitness magazine will tell you to measure portions, keep a food diary, and count calories for weight loss - and this is only a few steps beyond.

Interestingly enough, I saw Ray Kurtzweil (seventh page of article) speak last spring at Stanford. He struck me as a little beyond belief.

“Kurzweil thinks we will reach actuarial escape velocity pretty soon,” says Don. “What do you think, Michael?”

Michael pauses to collect his thoughts, and while he does, let’s fill in a blank or two. Ray Kurzweil is an occasionally best-selling futurist, given to flamboyant but well-researched predictions about the “transhumanist” century ahead of us, in which hyperbrainy artificial intelligence, fiendishly intricate nanorobotry, genome-twiddling Frankentech, and other incipient techno-marvels combine to reinvent humanity in the image of the machine. Swirling in the midst of it all is the key concept of “actuarial escape velocity,” a transhumanist term for that moment in the acceleration of biomedical progress when, for every year you live, technology adds another year or more to your maximum life span. It’s a tipping point that, theoretically at least, never stops tipping.

Anyway, you won't find me on the CR diet anytime soon. But it certainly is interesting to know it's there.

iPod, therefore I am (Again)

Interesting review of "The Perfect Thing," an homage/study of the iPod (another cultural analysis I wish I did before someone else had).

Levy writes that "just about anyone who owns an iPod will at one point -- usually when a favorite tune appears spontaneously and the music throbs through the ear buds, making a dull day suddenly come alive -- say or think the following: 'Perfect.'" What he's describing is the euphoria of free music -- unconstrained music, not stolen music. It's this freedom -- the freedom to boogie, let's call it -- that iPod's marketers are getting at in those ubiquitous dancing silhouette ads. Freedom is iPod's biggest selling point.

And yet even I wouldn't go this far...

It would be a bit much to say that the iPod helped us heal from the wounds of 9/11 –- or would it? There are probably millions of people for whom the iPod has turned a dark day bright. Because here's the thing about the iPod, its transcendent reason for success, more important than its design, its interface, Apple's marketing, or Jobs' charisma: Sometimes, it can just stop you cold.

(Maybe I'm just not that much of a geek?)


Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Bucks

I know it's been done, but I would love to write a massive book about the cultural impact of Starbucks. Here's just one aspect.

Saturday, October 21, 2006


I'm totally addicted to Heroes. It's really good. Really scary. And I am watching them all by myself, so I just freak myself out for 45 minutes each time I watch. Yikes.

In a way, it almost reminds me of when Alias was good.

Friday, October 20, 2006


Salman Rushdie watches P-Run (third item down).

Geeking out

Sean won't like this post because he'll say I'm not being a girl anymore, but can I just share with you the awesomeness that is Google Reader and RSS feeds? I am so much better informed than I used to be! I also realized that sites I never read anymore like NYMag have RSS feeds too so now I have a reminder to read those. And at first it was a huge time suck, but not anymore, because I am learning how to skim things to see if they are remotely interesting. I don't need to read every single blog post or book review or whatever, I just need to get to the ones that will be useful or cool to me. The internet works, guys.

NYMag Teen Sex Quiz

If I were a parent I'd be scared right now.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Totally Inane Post

This is really superficial, but I would like to announce that I finally figured out the messy bun. In high school I made this girl Tara fix my hair into the perfect messy bun and I could never do it myself, but both yesterday and today I have managed it. The headband helps, and so does the fact that I just don't care that much. Surprise! Mess is easy to achieve.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I haven't read Cold Mountain or Thirteen Moons (I don't really have that much interest, to be honest, and this is coming from someone who used to love historical fiction). But I have this kind of pleasant feeling about this article that trashes the latter book for being "yokely dokely." Mostly, I think it's because I heard from Charles Frazier's former editor about how she's no longer his editor - and why - during the Columbia Publishing Course, and that primed me well to receive any criticism of his genius.

Maybe it's also because my friend Sarah and I saw the movie of Cold Mountain and she was angry there were no black people in it, despite it being a movie about the Civil War - and maybe that's more than a little related to the excerpt in the article about how slavery was "uninteresting."

I supposed to be fair to old Chuck I should read Cold Mountain at least. Maybe after I've read the other 911 books I need to read before I die...

More links from Bookslut

Despite my nagging dislike of Jessa Crispin (I mostly just miss Michael!), I can't deny that I get some good links from Bookslut (the previous entry, and this one). She wrote about that book 1001 Books to Read Before you Die, and linked to a republished list of said books. I went through and counted the number I'd read and I'm proud to say 90. Those are ones I've definitely finished/read all of, although I admit there are a few more in stacks around my room that I haven't finished (Love in the Time of Cholera, God of Small Things, Les Miserables), and I also read Great Expectations abridged, so I can't count that (although that really bugs me because I don't want to reread the book again, but don't want to claim I read it if I really only read it abridged! Damn you high school English class!). How many have you read?
Now that I've finished Jude, I'm reading two new books. I started both last night and I'm excited. The first, literary one is Beware of God, a series of short stories by Shalom Auslander. I've only read one story so far, but it's tightly written and funny, so I already recommend it. Here's a brief piece he wrote about the "Information Age" (link from Bookslut).

I tend to think along those lines sometimes. An admitted blog-reader and obsessive, I sometimes have to remind myself that my life will not end if I don't read that link I saved and e-mailed myself from Slate or Vanity Fair. That in fact, my life could possibly be better - more productive, not just in the "on top of my shit" sense but in the creative sense - because really why spend so much time reading what everyone else has to say? It's like when I read that Atlantic article and only finished half of it, wrote a (I think) brilliant paragraph about the Office and how awesome it was, and then finished the damn article and realized someone else had gotten there first. So maybe if I didn't read so much I'd get there first. (Not that I'd be published in the Atlantic or anything, but that would be nice.)

But so often I discover new interesting things from reading stuff on the Internet that I don't give it up. Like, for example, Shalom Auslander himself, who is ironically writing for an Internet publication (although he seems to be more worried about information-as-news rather than information-as-commentary-criticism-celebrity pictures which seems to be missing part of the point). But anyway, my point is, it's an interesting piece, and it's pertinent to me right now because I'm reading his book. So there.
Yesterday, while riding the exercise bike, I finished Jude the Obscure. Finally. I had been reading it steadily for two months with no other books in the meantime (what would Sara Nelson say about that?). But I was determined not to put it aside because I knew if I did I was screwed, I'd never finish it.

I'm glad I did. I was shocked at how much actually happened in the book. Plus, it's kind of scandalous (and Wikipedia just taught me that it was nicknamed Jude the Obscene). Reading big tomes like this (although it's not as tomey as it could be) makes me want to be back as an English major so I can analyze it. I really could spend forever just on Jude the Obscure, even though in some respects it's kind of soapy, in others its so interesting.

Here's one of my favorite bit from it - which is a spoiler, sort of, if you can spoil the endings of books originally written in 1895:

"It was in his nature to do it. The doctor says there are such boys springing up amongst us—boys of a sort unknown in the last generation—the outcome of new views of life. They seem to see all its terrors before they are old enough to have staying power to resist them. He says it is the beginning of the coming universal wish not to live." (Part Sixth, Chapter 2)

I can't decide if I'm looking forward to the POD revolution or not. While it's a pretty sweet idea, I DO like to browse books in a bookstore. That said, I have a real problem going into bookstores and blanking entirely on what I want. Even though my Amazon wishlist is something like 200 books/DVDs long. So in that respect, it would be pretty nice to have a marriage between my wishlist and a POD printer... and pretty dangerous for my wallet. After all, buying songs on iTunes is frighteningly easy given that you have to enter your credit card number before you even buy anything, and it's just sitting there in case you ever want to buy an episode of TV or a song you haven't managed to download. Imagine the POD purchasing system and my obsessive wishlisting (and placing-things-on-hold-at-the-library-ing), and just imagine how much money I could manage to spend.

Monday, October 16, 2006


This weekend:

Friday, after a strange job interview, I broke my cell phone. Hours later, our toilet overflowed for no reason. At 1:30am, we sopped up the water, bailed out the toilet bowl (all the water was clean btw), and turned off the water. Nothing like wearing galoshes in your bathroom in the hours past midnight.

Saturday was mostly fine.

Sunday, my car was broken into and my new iPod nano was stolen. And for some reason, a bunch of cup-of-noodle boxes as well.

Today is better. I turned in a writing sample for a job application, I will finally get to exercise after three days of not doing anything, there are free sandwiches at work and the weather is kind of breezy and autumnal. Good deal.

I particularly like this line:

Google is “very leading edge, very young and very appealing to 20- and 30-year-olds,” said Russell S. Winer, a professor of marketing at the Stern School of Business at N.Y.U. “If you walked around with a Google T-shirt, people would think that’s a hip thing to wear.”

I guess 99% of Stanford's CS department is really hip then...

Google freaks me out. (As I use one of their products.)

I seriously think it's just beginning, but it's only a matter of time before people are on GoogleWatch. Google is far too omnipresent to escape scrutiny for long, and I for one am just a little suspicious.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Best Dundies Ever!!!

An article in this month's Atlantic talked about the death of the TV sitcom (thanks to the rise recent billionaire YouTube and its aesthetic), and of course as soon as I saw the cover line, I felt the tingling of resentment on my skin. Not the sitcom - not the format that delivers me "The Office" in all its Carrellian glory each Thursday night! You can't possibly say this is dying!

But as I thought about it, and read the article (you know all that not-judging-by-covers mumbo jumbo has to be true sometimes), I realized I didn't have a beef with the author at all. For the purposes of that column, the sitcom is defined as the three-camera sitcom, a filming style that started with "I Love Lucy" (shudder) and continuing with such hits as "Two and a Half Men" (!!?). This jived well with my recent thinking about my beloved "Office" and its success as a pseudo reality show, pseudo documentary, pseudo sitcom. There are a lot of reasons for its cult following ("I'll check Brookstone" being one of the classic lines, as Dwight, assistant (to) the regional manager, searches online for a purchasable gaydar machine), but one major one is the show's documentarian feel. (I'm ignoring for the purposes of my argument its English predecessor, even though I know they came up with the idea first.) By avoiding the three-camera feel, the show isn't only a semi-documentary, but it also gives it that YouTubeian nature - the sense that these characters know they are being filmed and watched in the privacy of someone's living room. The lack of the camera crew - the absence of the hand behind the microphone - adds to this homey, DIY feel. As a result, the lines between reality and the sitcom have been blurred almost totally. Add to this the blogging and video blogging done by members of the cast, dramatic, fuzzy readings done by the show's actors of a fellow actor's magazine interview, and the ridiculously high percentage of cast members with MySpace profiles, which are inevitably representative half of the character and half of the actor himself. Where does Jenna Fischer leave off and Pam Beesly begin? I sure as hell don't know. She's got a MySpace as Pam, with photos of herself as Jenna at the Emmys, holding up an Emmy in a self-parody (or is it a tribute?) to her character Pam winning an office Dundie award in the premiere episode of season 2. In other words, the way I see it, YouTube isn't destroying the sitcom - it's just altering it beyond recognition. It's okay, though - as long as I can keep watching the antics in Scranton (and Stamford!), I'm fine with that.

I have just realized that the damn article already mentioned the Office, although I think I really did go into it more and he didn't even mention the MySpacing actors or the grassrootsiness of the American version (or, come to think of it, the American version at all). I really thought the article ended at the bottom of the first page and it was only reading the web version that I realized I was wrong and discovered the bit about Ricky Gervais. I see that I am truly part of the web generation when I can read things more clearly and with less confusion (or omission!) than on a printed page. Dammit!

AND I continue to be a total idiot by finishing the article and realizing that the bastard did write about the American office, although I still have no idea why people like "My Name is Earl" so much.

I think I need to do more research.

Also, my quotation mark button doesn't seem to be working so well. This is a problem.

Also, seriously, check out all the "Office" cast members' Myspaces. Just go to Jenna/Pam's profile and click on all her top friends.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Little victories

It's official: I am a runner.

NOT ONLY did I scrape my leg to hell last weekend... NOT ONLY did I run most of the Dish two days this week, but today, when I went to run the dish, I was not really feeling it... I ran parts of it but not as much as usual. I blamed it on the slightly warmer weather and the fact that I hadn't eaten much so my energy was low. Then, when I left the dish area, instead of turning right onto Junipero Serra to go back to Stanford Ave for my car, I turned left. I went down Campus Drive. I turned a different direction - and I felt more energy and more enthusiasm. I was just bored! That's the only reason I was lagging today. That's cool, man. I just felt like going a different direction, so I did, and I just had to find another way back to my car. That seems to me like a real runner's thing to do, and I did it! Yes!

The fact that I still run about 5mph if I'm lucky... not the point.

(Also, apologies for my incredibly bad sentence/paragraph up above.)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A day in the life...

I hope no one at work sees this, but I have to tell someone: I haven't done more than maybe 30 minutes of work since Monday. 9am. It's now Wednesday, 1:20pm. WTF?!

Seriously, here's what I did:

Answered maybe 3 emails
Read maybe 15 emails
Read a 4 page, useless description of something FOR SOMEONE ELSE
Multiplied mileage by our fuel reimbursement rate for about 8 trips to see what someone is owed for running errands
Mailed one package, ID mail (not even going to the post office)
Moved boxes from my office to the main office for someone else to throw away
Called one person, received a call from same person, had one conversation, received one fax
Counted pages in fax to make sure everything got here


Now here is what else I did:
Downloaded approximately 40 mp3s from blogs (semi-legal?)
Read maybe 350 blog posts
Read the NYTimes book review section several times, looking for anything new
Window-shopped online
Ate lunch, snacks, made tea
Wrote about 4 to-do lists
Emailed myself about 15 times to remind myself of things to do at home where I could be much more productive than here
Looked on craiglist and mediabistro for jobs
Got discouraged
Emailed all downloaded mp3s to myself to download from my own email when I got home
Fretted about filling up gmail quota with sent and received mp3s
Met and held my boss's new daughter, Hannah (awesome!)
Held about 20 gmail chat conversations

I'm sure I'm missing something.

UPDATE: Yeah, I am. Forgot all about Facebook. Luckily I haven't reached the Myspace part of the week... that only happens when, as Arielle says, I reach the end of the Internet. Oh and also I printed off job listings and forgot them at work. Two days in a row.
can someone please explain what blogger beta is, and does it have useful webby things like tags?