You Sure Do Think Highly of Yourself

Amazing Web-Based Photo Editing Tool

I just discovered Aviary, a web-based photo editing tool. When I signed up, I had a great captcha:

Why thank you.

Anyway, it looks very cool and I can not wait to get a chance to burn some hours playing with it; I simply can’t right now because I’m under deadline. I needed a five minute break and spent it writing this post. Back to work.

WaPo Mistakes Malcolm X For Obama

Violent radical President Obama X talked about wind energy in Iowa today…

Suddenly Google Is Keeping Secrets

I was looking for directions from a specific place in DC to the National Security Agency. Google has a sense of humor. Hardly anyone calls it that anymore.

Are Bloggers Journalists? Guess We’ll Find Out

This frightening story about a blogger who wrote about Apple’s prototype new iPhone and was served a search warrant for the “commission of a felony” is horrifying in its implications. Assuming Jason Chen, the writer for Gizmodo, did not steal the phone, there was absolutely no crime that I can think of. The story I’ve heard is that the iPhone was lost at a bar, someone found it, contacted Gizmodo and then contacted Apple and asked if they wanted their phone back. Apple said yes so Gizmodo sent the phone back. Meanwhile, Gizmodo paid $5,000 to see the phone. Is it possible the $5,000 was somehow criminal? Since it wasn’t payment for stolen property, and since the phone was returned to Apple, I can’t imagine it was a crime of theft.

I’m disturbed by this, particularly since I just read a funny but terrifying article about Apple illustrating the lengths that they will go to maintain utter secrecy. To whit:

In October of 2009, a new application from Apple landed in the U.S. Patent Office. Apple’s idea was to program devices to periodically interrupt users with unskippable ads. The ads would temporarily halt performance of the device in order to “compel attention.” That on its own is pretty nightmarish but, innovators that they are, Apple found a way to crank it up to that hard-to-reach “Lovecraftian” level.

Their words:

“Apple can further determine whether a user pays attention to the advertisement. The determination can include performing, while the advertisement is presented, an operation that urges the user to respond; and detecting whether the user responds to the performed operation. If the response is inappropriate or nonexistent, the system will go into lock down mode in some form or other until the user complies. In the case of an iPod, the sound could be disconnected rendering it useless until compliance is met. For the iPhone, no calls will be able to be made or received.”

Ho-lee shit.

Ho-lee shit is right. That’s freaking evil. Once you sell a product, it belongs to the customer, you don’t get to keep interrupting them with advertising, dickface.

But God I still love Apple products. My MacBook Pro is the best thing that ever happened to my writing career. My two iPods bring me joy every day as I work out. I covet the iPad. So on and so forth. But dude, this control-freak behavior is just crazy.

Back to Jason Chen and the central question his boss at Gizmodo asked: Are bloggers journalists?

I believe so. Good bloggers develop sources and stick to ethical reporting, just as journalists from the old media do. In many cases, bloggers are paid. So why would it be any different than journalism? It’s an honest question because as I think about it, I literally can not think of a single difference in the two.

A Rose Named Violet

One of the things I love about starting a new book is naming my characters. I notice that I’m a bit of a nameophile (I just made that up, don’t bother googling.) I visit baby name websites several times a month because I like to keep good names in the forefront. I tend to collect unusual names and when I meet a Tatiana or a Gigi, I’m very curious about how those names came to be, and whether my own idea of a Joe or a Scott or a Jean matches up with the reality.

So I did a little research, and confirmed my impression that sexy names make for sexy women (and men.)

The most poorly received names, according to The Names Experiment (no link available, referenced in the last above link), are:

Least successful: Lisa and Brian
Least lucky: Helen and John
Least attractive: Ann and George

This doesn’t quite match my own expectations. Lisa is very sexy to me, but I guess I don’t associate it with “successful.” I prefer Brian spelled Bryan.

I love the names John and Helen. I like the John without the H, however, and I like Helen spelled the French way: Helene (and pronounced “Ah-lahn.”) I don’t associate them with luck. John sounds to me like a CEO. Helen sounds like a quirky homemaker, the kind of woman who makes insanely good cupcakes, goes into business for herself, and earns a billion dollars in a year.

Ann is gorgeous – perhaps my association is to Ann Hathaway. And the sexiest, hottest, most overwhelmingly gorgeous man I ever knew was named George.

The most attractive, according to the study are:

Most successful: Elizabeth and James
Luckiest: Lucy and Jack
Most attractive: Sophie and Ryan

I love James – that’s always been one of my favorite masculine names and I rebelled in the mid oughts when several women were named James. I would not want James to become feminized the way Brett has. By the way, did you know that Douglas used to be a girl’s name? It’s true. And look at it now – it’s very masculine. So the styles do change, but I would prefer to keep James very masculine. Elizabeth is reliably pretty and has the advantage of being shortened in any number of ways: Liz, Liza, Beth Lisabeth, Lizzie, Lisa, etc.

Lucy always calls to mind a silly, fun, beautiful girl who belongs in a romantic comedy. I like the name – it sounds juicy. Jack is the male equivalent.

I agree that Sophie and Ryan and most attractive. Sophie has a special place in my heart because of a connection with someone I love. It is old fashioned, comfortable, yet supermodel gorgeous. Sort of in the same category as Emma. I don’t like Emma as much, but like Sophie, Emma is old fashioned and beautiful.

Ryan is a great name. I love the RY together. It’s very masculine, which appeals to me. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite name, but I do like it. Zach is sort of like Ryan, I think, on that same level.

Back to the issue of feminizing names, I’ve noticed several Paytons in books. I am aware of a Payton Manning who is a man in some kind of sport (hockey maybe? Baseball?) but it seems women are trying to make it a girl’s name. This bothers me because there are so few good boy’s names. Girls get all the good names. I think we should leave some for the boys, but I must confess I like Payton better for a girl. A similar name, Paige, is one of my current favorites.

Sean is a great man’s name. Starting with Sean Young, there has been a little nudge into making Sean feminine. I resist! No! Keep Sean Masculine! Same with Quinn. Quinn was always masculine until Glee came along. Please don’t start naming your girls Quinn!

I like odd names; call me crazy but I actually thought Jason Lee naming his kid Pilot Inspektor was pretty cool. And John Travolta’s son, Jett, was a great name. Salma Hayak (whose name I don’t care for) named her daughter one of the most beautiful names I’ve ever heard: Valentina Paloma. Gorgeous! I also love names from my Scandinavian heritage. I’ve always said if I ever have a son, his name will be Thor and I am not even joking. You would be very unwise to mess with a Thor on the playground. Thor will kick your ass.

I’m curious: do you think you look like your name? What names do you like and why? What are the most attractive male and female names in your opinion?

The Allure Of Hillary Clinton

I had the sudden, strange realization today that for as long as I’ve been alive, Hillary Clinton has been somewhere in the universe, trying to become President. She was the first serious female politician I was ever aware of, and she was always reaching. My political awakening, which happened as a teenager in the late 1990s, is forever imprinted with disjointed images of Hillary and Bill Clinton in the post-Monica period: she refused to hold the president’s hand, he looked sheepish every time a photo appeared of them together, and Chelsea Clinton.. I can’t even imagine what she was going through.

The Hillary Clinton time in the White House was marked by scandal and that is what I remember of it. I never hated her the way others seemed to. I did think she was a shrill female, the very worst kind, but it didn’t seem to be personal. It was almost as if she was a cardboard cut-out of a 1960s feminist and so it was easy (perhaps too easy) to dismiss her. I found the unflattering pictures of her to be unfair, but I think all pictures that show women aging and looking less than perfect are unfair. What is their crime? Just aging? Failure to be beautiful at the exact moment somebody pulls out a camera? So sue them. Sue me.

Rush Limbaugh’s remark during the 2008 primaries that people don’t want to see a woman age in office struck me as intensely painful because it sounds true. If there are websites dedicated to all the unflattering pictures of Hillary now, I could only imagine the proliferation if she were president. I think the media’s treatment of both Hillary and Sarah Palin were deplorable. They treated Hillary like she was not even there, and they treated Palin with scorn.

She had always insisted on being part of the political discourse, but I only started to dislike Hillary when she ran for Senator of New York. It seemed like (and was) a cheap political ploy – a really silly thing for a former First Lady to do. But she campaigned and won, and so kudos to her. At this point, I knew that I was a conservative and her socialist ideas were anathema to me. She seemed like a relentless political monster, much more so than even Bill, and I actually respected her for that, even if I did find such a gluttony for power a little off-putting.

After serving her time in the Senate, she made it known she was running for President. I’m not a Democrat, of course, but if I were, I’d have voted for Hillary to be the candidate for 08. I can honestly say if the choice was Hillary or Obama, I’d take Hillary. Here is why: Hillary would not have passed the monstrous health care bill that Obama did, and Hillary’s political aims are much more in line with liberals and Democrat’s views. She is coo-coo about child rights, all that It Takes A Village crap, but I think there is really nothing she could have done, no policy she could have implemented that would have the huge, sweeping change that Obama has wrought. She’s in bed with the feminists and abortion advocates, but could she do, make Roe v. Wade super-legal or something? Extra legal? Even expanding abortion to the maximum would not have affected as many people as Obama is affecting. Her economic policies would have been much more financially stable and sustainable for the country. She would have probably had a very similar response to Iraq and Afghanistan as Obama (and Bush), and she’d have the cache of being the First Woman President.

Instead she is the Second Woman Secretary of State, or put another way: the first white female Secretary of State. And she’s been a weird one. She’s not very vocal, she’s not seen on tv very much. I think she might be secretly plotting to run for President in 2012. Another thought occurs to me just now. I wonder if Obama will decide not to run in 2012, and run Hillary instead, thereby giving the Democrats a shot at holding the presidency for a full eight years. He’d have to fall on his sword to do that though and I just don’t see Obama subjugating himself or giving up power willingly. Still, Hillary’s silence brings up the question: what’s she doing?

Plotting, no doubt. But what?

In a weird way, I like having Hillary around. There’s a certain comfort in knowing every day that the sun will rise gloriously over Manhattan and set over Malibu, the pyramids will stand for a thousand more years, and Hillary Clinton will still be thirsting for power.


Arizona Vs. Hawaii: The Birther Showdown

Two interesting things happened this week vis a vis President Obama’s birth certificate. First, Hawaii lawmakers are moving closer to passing a measure allowing the state to ignore repeated requests for President Barack Obama’s birth certificate.

A conference committee unanimously voted Tuesday to advance the bill to final votes in the House and Senate.
The proposal allows state government agencies not to respond to follow-up requests for information if they determine that the subsequent request is duplicative or substantially similar to a previous request.
The bill is aimed at so-called “birthers,” who claim Obama is ineligible to be president. They say he was actually born outside the United States, and therefore doesn’t meet a constitutional requirement for being president.

Meanwhile, the Arizona House has passed a measure to check all presidential candidate’s citizenship in order to get on a ballot.

The Arizona House has approved a bill that would require President Barack Obama to show his birth certificate if he hopes to be on the state’s ballot for a re-election bid.

The House approved the measure on a 31-29 vote, sending it to the Senate.

It would require U.S. presidential candidates who want to appear on the ballot in Arizona to submit documents proving they meet the constitutional requirements to be president.

Supporters say the bill would help settle a controversy over whether Obama was born in the United States.

Opponents say it’s a waste of time that makes Arizona mocked by the rest of the country. Obama has released his Hawaii birth certificate proving he’s a “natural-born citizen” qualified to be president.

I have said before that I believe Obama was born in Hawaii. That being said, I’m curious why he’s spending so much money (two million is the figure casually tossed around) to keep his Certificate of Live Birth out of public hands.

Anyway, I do believe he was born in the USA and is an American citizen and is eligible and legally our democratically elected President. What I’d like to see more of are his college transcripts, his law review articles, and that kind of thing. I don’t have any conspiracy theory or anything like that, I just want to see how his thinking changed from then to now, and if he’s matured, and that kind of thing.

I think that by spending time on the birth certificate controversy we’re ignoring other more critical matters. But it’s interesting that two states are taking it so seriously. I’ll be watching to see how these situations resolve.

A Special Moment … Brought To You By Google

After my weird experience with Google, I decided to recreationally search, just to see what other weird stuff I could find. I found some weird stuff but, seriously? I regained a teensy little bit of faith in mankind. But we’ll save that for last.

Do girls….?

And do guys…?

Since when…?

God I love…

And then when I saw this I had one of those little sparkly doors-blasting-off moments when the world suddenly seemed so sweet, so pure, so so so good, and I swear to you on all I hold dear, little tears appeared in my eyes.
[Read more…]

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