unrequited narcissism

Archives: bitching
Archives: bitching
August 16, 2006
August 16, 2006
back! bitching  - misc  - politics  - tech

MAN has it been busy. I'll spare you the boring details, but things have been a little rough. Working on a project where priorities are largely defined by the sponsoring organization's primary donor and his wife can be tiring. When wealthy Mrs. X asks for the website to be rose-scented, and intermediary Y decides he'd better hop to it or risk the collapse of the entire enterprise, humble web programmer Z has some long nights ahead of him.

But, with a minor milestone accomplished, I can return to the lovely internet for a little bit before attending to Crushingly Urgent Project #2 in a few hours. There's been a lot of good stuff that I've missed:

  1. DCeiver's analysis of the Post Best Bets is predictably excellent. But I do have to give the GoGs credit for making their own picks. The merit of those selections aside (they seem fine), it's a shrewd move to point out the stupidity of WaPo poll participants before the rest of the internet can snarkily associate your paper with the Cheesecake Factory. I hereby suggest "blogproofing" as the technical term. Expect an RFC from the W3C shortly.
  2. You might remember that AOL stupidly released a bunch of search data last week. It included the search query, the date, and a unique identifying number corresponding to the user who made the search. By tieing search queries together by those numbers, some users could be identified. The New York Times managed to positively identify an individual pretty quickly. But the real fun is coming now, as other organizations pore over the data to expose just what kind of creepy weirdos populate the internet. Something Awful has a pretty great collection of examples (text, but still probably NSFW).
  3. George Allen got into trouble! This is fantastic, and not just because he appears to be a racist asshole who needs to be kept off the national stage. No, it's much more urgent than that: if his presidential ambitions aren't ended by these sorts of public displays of awfulness, I'd have to see Virginia political expert and UVA professor Larry Sab/ato on television for an entire electoral race. I'll do whatever it takes to prevent that grim, dystopian future from coming about.
  4. Now for some geeky tech complaining: how did this make it to TUAW? For those who aren't interested enough to follow the link, it's a means of stripping iTunes copy protection by embedding an AAC file purchased from the iTunes Music Store into an iMovie project. You can then get it decompressed to an AIFF (like a WAV, but on the mac), which can be recompressed into a copy-protection-free MP3.

    But you can only do one song at a time. And because you're recompressing, it's a lossy process. In other words, this is a really stupid, inefficient way to remove DRM from ITMS songs. I haven't checked in on the HYMN Project recently, but if I wanted to un-DRM a bunch of songs, that's where I'd start. And if that no longer works, I'd see about writing an Applescript that methodically moves through an iTunes playlist, playing songs, capturing the output via Soundflower, then compressing to MP3. You could even have it automatically use the existing song metadata in the ID3 and filename. Alternately, you might look into burning to a virtual CD-ROM, which you could then rip (I'm not sure how feasible this is in OS X, but it's certainly doable in Windows).

    So the iMovie method: stupid. Don't bring that weak-ass shit in here, TUAW. That's right, I said it.

  5. This hack walkthrough was linked off of the Slashdot frontpage. But it doesn't make any goddamn sense. If I understand correctly, step 1 is to fool the user into trying to log into the target website, except on your own server. This is called phishing, and it's not very complex — it's just tricking people.

    But instead of simply capturing the login and password before sending the user along, the author embeds some Javascript that eventually shows up on the target site (when the user's login request is sent in, via the phishing server). That Javascript sends the cookie that maintains the user's session back to the phishing computer, allowing the author to hop onto the user's session.

    The thing is, by that point he already has the user's login and password. He can make new session cookies whenever he wants — the cross-site-scripting stuff is completely and utterly pointless. Worse that pointless, it's stupid, since session cookies generally expire much faster than login credentials.

    From there he goes on to pwnz0rz the website, thanks to some security lapses that one would only find in high school CS classes. It's all kind of ludicrous. I'd really like to see an XSS attack example that does something useful. And hey, maybe I'm missing something here. But as far as I can tell, this article is kind of like writing up "How To Rob A Bank", with step 1 defined as "assume the security system is off and all the doors are unlocked."

comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
August 11, 2006
August 11, 2006
excuse my whine atlanta  - bitching  - misc

wow, yesterday night was a SPECTACULAR evening. let me detail its events to you:

1. my italian tutor stood me up/forgot about our lesson

2. it was pouring rain like it can only pour rain it atlanta

3. this thunderstorm apparently caused all the traffic lights in all of atlanta to go out, which meant bumper to bumper gridlock as well as playing various games of chicken as i tried to dart my way through intersections where no one seemed to care that cars from the opposing lanes were trying to get through

4. i was desperately low on gas, so i made the grievous, grievous error of attempting to stop at the BP near my house, aka the Gas Station of Doom. i consider it a lucky trip to fill up the tank when a) i find a pump that is working b) i don't get hit up by some sketch dude for money to enable his multiple trips to the package store across the street. really, you need just exactly $3.89 to fill up the air in the tires of that car over there that you say is yours? funny how that's the same price as a small bottle of vodka.

5. the trip to the Gas Station of Doom was, in this case, a mistake. the two pumps i tried weren't working. well enough, i thought. let's try the chevron down the road.

6. the chevron down the road had eight swat cars with screaming sirens flashing on top of them in front of it. i guess there was some sort of bust going on there. i don't know. i didn't care. i was like, fuck this. i need me some gas and it is probably safer than it's ever been with all these police around. bring it, chevron!

7. no pumps at the chevron with the swat bust going on worked.

8. i drove to a gas station 10 minutes out of my way. it always looked bright and welcoming when i passed it on my way. i soon realized that this was a facade, as EACH OF THE TWELVE PUMPS had signs taped to them that said either "out of order!" or "no gas!" with cheery exclamation points. which, what the fuck. WHY DO YOU EVEN EXIST?!?

9. i drove to another gas station (my fourth attempt, NOT THAT I WAS COUNTING) even further out of the way. at this point i was dead on the inside. if this works, i thought mechanically, i will not kill anyone. if it doesn't work, i will kill everyone, and it will be pleasing.

10. hallelujah, it worked! nobody has to die! but as i stood there pumping the gas in the sketchy shadows of the sketchy gas station in the sketchy neighborhood, an incredibly scary looking hobo noticed me and rode up to me on his bike. (wtf? when did hobos get bikes? hobos on wheels. a weird occurrence.)

"excuse me, miss?" he called.

now, i have a policy of never giving money to panhandlers, but i always try to be polite about it and brush them off with a curt smile and a "no, i'm sorry." but this hobo was unlucky. he did not know i had just been on a trip through gas station purgatory. he did not know that i was on the verge of sticking a gas nozzle up somebody's ass.

"hey there, miss!" he called again.

i turned around with my arms crossed and looked him straight in the eye. i shook my head very slowly, and i growled, low, "no."

the hobo stopped his bike, said quickly, "ok, sorry miss! have a nice night!" turned around, and hightailed it out of there.

11. i came home to find the power semi-out - that is, the lights sort of work at a weird half dimness, but my alarm clock, my fan, and the internet are not working. but my laptop (and thank goodness, my ability to watch episodes of the wire) is fine. i don't understand why, but tommy told me it has something to do with hertzes. megahertzes? voltage? laptops? i don't understand.

12. THE WORST PART OF ALL: i have no beer in the house.

i swear to god, i take back all the complaining about d.c. not being a bike-friendly city, or everything negative i ever said about the el or the metro. they are shining examples of public transporation that can do no wrong and smell very nice and are perfect. where as driving can go suck a big one.

comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
August 08, 2006
August 08, 2006
off to a great start bitching  - personal

Dr. Tom's prescription for Tuesday non-success:

  1. Sleep through your alarm.
  2. Post the morning roundup late. Immediately receive shit from commenters.
  3. Hustle to work. Discover that your sandbox site was defaced by hackers about a month ago, due to an unpatched flaw in some third party software. The site's not very important (hence the lax security), but some stuff for DCist runs on it (at your expense) because the Gothamist guys have never gotten around to giving you access to host it on the DCist server. So it needs to be uncompromised, cleaned and secured.
  4. Prepare to make tech support call to non-client marketing trade group that you find morally repugnant.
  5. Time for meetings! Two hours should do it.
  6. Drive to Charlottesville to see mom, who's been re-admitted to hospital (nothing too serious). Drive back.
  7. Collapse into bed.

Also anticipated: a ticket on 66 for violating HOV (Fox 5 ran a story about me and my nefarious HOV-violating buddies last night). When the fuck is Friday getting here, again?

Sorry for the whining. I promise I'll deliver a post about an electronics project involving a demonic glowing cow skull as soon as I can finish it.

comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
July 28, 2006
July 28, 2006
how about some freedom from insanity? bitching  - misc

tommy's mom's accident is so terrible (though from talking to both him and beth they sound like they are handling it so remarkably well and capably), and i am so far away from charlottesville/d.c., and i feel so impotent, that i don't know what to do, except send their mom terrifying amounts of garish get-well balloons (since flowers aren't allowed. neither are latex balloons. as stanley said, "Anti-latex, anti-flowers... If these hospital folks are anti-Barry-White, I move to label them "anti-gettin'-it-on.").

...oh yeah, and talk about hemorrhoids.

remember a while back i posted about HEAD ON which you APPLY DIRECTLY TO THE FOREHEAD, and which is slowly driving me down a path of insanity? i seriously think their strategy is to actaully cause seizures/headaches through their incessant commercials and drive the market for the product up that way.

well, it gets worse. a few days ago i noticed on tv an ad for activon, for arthritis pain, and you know what? you apply it directly where it hurts. of course.

AND THEN, even worse!!! the other day came on a commercial by the same people for, you guessed it, hemorrhoid cream. GAH!H!H!H! freedom from hemorrhoids? FREEdHEM hemorrhoid cream. freedom from hemorrhoids? FREEdHEM hemorrhoid cream. freedom from hemorrhoids? FREEdHEM hemorrhoid cream.

if you would like to join me on my trip to crazytown, you can see the whole series of commercials here.

comments [4] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
July 27, 2006
July 27, 2006
l'odio atlanta  - bitching  - italy

i had my first italian lesson tonight with giorgio. giorgio is fantastic because he is italian, he is milanese, and because he dislikes atlanta, and did you know how fun it is to bitch with someone in a foreign language about something you both dislike? it is MOLTO FUN. he is also fantastic because he is an aerospace engineer, and when we were chatting and i asked him where he thought he might work after finishing his phd, he said, you know, airbus, or, you know, nasa. then i asked, "vorresti costruire i razzi un giorno?", jokingly - would you like to build rockets someday? he said, very seriously, "si. forse." yes, maybe one day he would like to build the rockets. awesome.

so, you know, i spent the night chatting with an italian rocket builder. pretty sweet. it's also gratifying to know that my italian skills haven''t swirled down into the drain of my empty garbage disposal mind, but were merely lying dormant in a corner, like a sad ignored puppy that just wants to be petted. and wait till i give that puppy some beer. its italian will be GREAT.

comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
July 05, 2006
July 05, 2006
like bumfight, but with nerds bitching  - tech

Oh Jesus. So I've had a little trouble with certain folks from New York who handle the tech administration for a certain regional blog (site A) that I do some tech things for. And tonight I learn that at least some of these NY tech staffers are also affiliated with a public transport arrival time SMS service (site B) that invaded site A's comment section after I declined to cover site B, given that my own site A-branded public transport SMS service was about to debut. I chased their apparent spamminess out of site A's comment section with some testy replies.

Man. This kind of explains a lot of the intransigence I've experienced from the NYC gang. And it's kind of a pain in the ass. What a tangled web we weave, when first we write some PHP.

comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
July 03, 2006
July 03, 2006
HEAD ON bitching

i see this mysterious commercial about 12 times a day on CNN. so, you know, if i go insane this summer, you'll know why. GAH! WHAT IS IT EVEN?

UPDATE: some googling seems to reveal that it's some sort of headache relief thing. if you REALLY want to be driven insane by this product, though, go here.

comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
April 06, 2006
April 06, 2006
yikes D.C.  - bitching

I'm sure KAC is a perfectly nice person, but her advice on nightspots for meeting new people reads like my personal anti-manifesto. To be fair, I suppose I am pretty bad at making new acquaintances when I'm out for the evening.

But that doesn't change how much the Front Page sucks. Between the crowd and the taco bar, it provides more ways to catch hepatitis than any other venue in the city.

However, there is one good piece of advice buried in the entry:

Into java? Meet someone online, and then go on a coffee date, compliments of Yahoo! personals and Starbucks.

Suggested icebreakers: was Sun's decision to open-source the language too little, too late? Is there a compelling reason not to switch to C#? How big does your web app really have to be to justify the hassle of JSP development?

(By the way, Kelly, the J's supposed to be capitalized.)

comments [7] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
April 01, 2006
April 01, 2006
amateur hour bitching

This April Fool's stuff has got to stop — on the internet, at least. Every year I dread this day a little more. It's not that the idea is a bad one, it's that the execution of most of the jokes/hoaxes is terrible. Just look at these PZ Myers hoaxes. Or this TechCrunch post. Or, worst of all, today's Slashdot. It's disgraceful: the same unfunny joke repeated over and over and over, at the cost of what was obviously considerable effort.

It makes me sad. Or maybe I'm just hungover and cranky. Definitely one of those, though.

UPDATE: Also awful.

comments [6] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
March 27, 2006
March 27, 2006
i am going to kill everyone bitching  - tech

Seriously now: I'm on cell phone number 2 and cell phone cable number 3, and I STILL can't get Gammu working. Right now I'm trying to work off of these instructions, but it's not even clear that the thread's participants had success. And, to be honest, I'm not following all the instructions — compiling custom kernel modules seems a little advanced, but I suppose I'll give it a shot eventually.

Anyway, I'm officially running crying back to mommy, aka the project listserv. They haven't been able to help me out yet, but the current batch of Nokia crap was bought on their recommendation, so I'm doing my best to maintain my trademark childlike optimism.

comments [4] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
March 11, 2006
March 11, 2006
life and times with modern love bitching

hey! let's play a game! everybody, try to figure out the point of this weekend's modern love column. anyone who can sum it up accurately in one sentence will get, uh, something. fame and fortune, most likely.

my entry: "i seem to have a wonderful husband, a wonderful child, yet i can't shake this feeling, somehow, that i am the most annoying person on the planet."

comments [5] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
February 25, 2006
February 25, 2006
things that are not very good bitching

  1. These new VW "My Fast" commercials. Maybe I'm confused, but I think we're supposed to be clamoring for some kind of squat, unappealing plastic figurine all of a sudden. And this somehow induces me to buy... cars, I guess? Catherine reports seeing the campaign extended to fake Craigslist missed connections postings, which, if you know me, you know I find appalling. What happened, VW? Where's the Nick Drake & artful mysteriousness? It feels like you finished selling cars to hipsters who miss Suck.com and moved on to targeting their asshole younger brothers who spend all their time playing GTA and buying DVDs that star Vin Diesel.

  2. The IT Crowd. I really want to like this series — the people at BoingBoing are nuts about it, the set's littered with EFF stickers, and the BBC is giving away episodes for free on the internet (hurrah for IP socialism!). The only problem: it's just not very funny. Like, at all. The first episode featured two jokes about a non-technical management type trying to use appliances when they weren't plugged in. Done properly, this would build in a way that makes the second time much funnier than the first. But in practice, it just seemed like the writers had forgotten that they'd already used that lame gag ten minutes earlier.

  3. The Boondocks Cartoon. The IT Crowd is bad in a passive, hapless sort of way. The Boondocks is aggressive in its awfulness. That it's not remotely funny sort of goes without saying — I've always felt that, despite occasional signs of talent, Aaron McGruder's success owes more to liberal guilt than genuine comedic talent. But even his occasional humor is completely absent from the cartoon. It doesn't even try to be funny. What it does try to be is in-your-face. Mostly this just results in it not making any sense, and doing so in as unpleasant a way as possible. One episode ended with the grandfather killing a blind man, then getting left off the hook for some reason. They finished by throwing in a nice little coda about the pointlessness of the victim's life. Classy, guys.

    Another had the grandfather open a soul food restaurant, then tried to use the premise to simultaneously score points about drug addiction and obesity in the black community, but succeeded only in producing an incoherent mess. Whatever they were trying to do, the episode ended with a woman ruining her life and debasing herself, begging for a cheeseburger in a way that was not at all funny. The mind behind the show seems to have no talent for anything but cruelty. Oh, and the voice acting for Huey and Riley is mind-bogglingly bad (this is more a casting than a performance issue, though). All in all, it's probably the least appealing cartoon I've ever seen — and I've seen Urotsukidoji.

comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
February 22, 2006
February 22, 2006
for immediate disbelief D.C.  - bitching

I'm still annoyed, but it turns out that Shepard Fairey is the real victim here:

press release

(What portion of the proceeds do you think he means?)

Apologies to any theoretical blind readers, but as I mentioned before: I really don't want to encourage this guy.

comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
February 17, 2006
February 17, 2006
argh argh argh bitching

This is, I think, the third week in a row that I've managed to fuck something up in the DCist Morning Roundup. Disheartened by my recent sucky performance at this seemingly simple task, I thought I had been extra careful last night. Not so. A search for 'cropp' on the front page inexplicably failed, and the City Paper's website mislabeled an article's date as a week more recent than it is. The result: a duplicate item and a stale one. Well, at least I didn't slander anyone.

comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
February 15, 2006
February 15, 2006
FTD is a joke in this town bitching

I'm glad that Catherine got her flowers, but I'm not very happy about how she got them: at 9:30 at night. She had to cancel plans to go out in order to guide the FTD guy in by cell phone. And then he forgot to give her the chocolates I'd ordered.

I guess it'd be tacky to complain about how much money I had to drop to get such stellar service, so I'll just call it a racket and leave it at that. Bah!

comments [9] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
February 14, 2006
February 14, 2006
rock meet paper; suspicion meet apathy D.C.  - bitching

I was pretty wary when Mike pointed me to ob/eybuttersti/ck.com (googleproofing to avoid encouraging them). WHOIS revealed that John Hl/inko owned the domain. He's a PR guy, and had bought ads for it on Atrios and DailyKos. That's a serious amount of money for something this stupid. He responded to emails asking what he was up to with too-cute dodges. I was afraid something nastily commercial was coming.

Well, as of today the seemingly-random countdown timer has reached zero, and the site has officially launched. It looks like the threat is overblown. T-shirts rehashing various well-tread "underground" memes are being sold, and there's a "posse" functionality that appears to run a technorati or similar search on butterstick and rank the sites that come back. The site's also using CafePress, and claims to be donating "a portion of the proceeds" to panda-related charities. All in all, not the commercial juggernaut I'd feared.

I apologize for my misgivings, John. Welcome to the exciting and dynamic world of unprofitable panda websites.

comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
January 23, 2006
January 23, 2006
sluternet bitching  - tech

all the free wifi connections in my apartment complex in chicago, which i had been stealing for the past four months, suddenly ran out yesterday.

it is a dire situation. i did not realize how much i loved the internet until now, coming up on my third hour in caribou coffee, where i am paying for the privilege to a) drink weak tea b) surf blogs and do homework. i love it so because i am subjecting myself to this pukehole of a fake log cabin, where i'm pretty sure i just heard the fourth different rendition of "i've got you uder my skin" in the past 45 minutes. either that, or i'm living in the matrix.

pray for me.

pablohoney: sigh, i am tired, but do not want to retreat to my den of no internet
pablohoney: i do not think i can live w/o the internet
pablohoney: it's one of the great love stories of our time
friend: wow sounds like it
friend: and yet, it just doesn't love you back
pablohoney: i know
pablohoney: ungrateful bitch

comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
January 16, 2006
January 16, 2006
at least they have a consistent "robbery" theme D.C.  - bitching  - personal

Via DCist I see that Butterstick now has his own wikipedia page. Neat! The only problem: the Bandit the Panda people have added their own editorializing. "Bandit is also a popular name for the panda"!? Please. You're going to make people think wikipedia isn't trustworthy!

To be honest, I'm not incredibly keen on getting drawn into a juvenile wikipedia fracas, and probably wouldn't have responded if not for one thing that particularly galled me: the Bandit people constructed a sentence grouping the two t-shirt stores together, and listing an aggregate sum of money raised for the zoo. For the record, cafepress.com/bstick stands at just under $2k donated to FONZ. How much Bandit merchandise has been moved, I wonder? Well, I couldn't help myself, and adjusted the wikipedia sentence to break out the individual store totals. I'd encourage them to provide their own details.

I'll happily admit that this is embarrassingly juvenile. But I can't help myself. As I said before, I don't begrudge anyone the right to conduct their own stupid internet fad — all I'd ask is that they refrain from stealing from mine.

comments [3] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
i will end you bitching  - chicago

i'm sitting in a coffee shop in lakeview with tommy right now (he had to work today, so we're taking advantage of the place's free wifi, and i don't have class till 2). i'm sipping coffee and browsing this facebook thing (post on it and how i am seriously an old lady to come later).

two construction guys from a site next door walked in to get coffee and are sitting down at a nearby table. one of them has a ringtone. not just any ringtone. the WORST RINGTONE ON THE FACE OF THIS EARTH. it is "shake dat laffy taffy." it is on at an abominably loud volume. it has gone off no less than four times in the 15 minutes he has been there. and he takes his sweet time answering it.

just wanted a record for posterity of how my first-ever homicide will be justified.

comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
January 07, 2006
January 07, 2006
confidential to the lady who's always watering her lawn at 11th and Q bitching  - personal

It's January. STOP WATERING YOUR FUCKING LAWN, YOU STUPID BITCH. THANKS TO THE EVER-PRESENT PUDDLE OF STANDING WATER AT YOUR INTERSECTION, I WIPED OUT ON MY BIKE TONIGHT.

Somebody headed in the opposite direction stopped to make sure I was okay, which was nice. Also nice: the helmet I was wearing, which I felt impact the pavement. But my knees are bloody, my bike is fucked up, and I am not happy. It's not getting any greener, dumbass. If there had been a car behind me, I wouldn't have the luxury of whining on the internet. How about we just knock off the perpetual water-wasting, mkay?

comments [5] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
December 09, 2005
December 09, 2005
impending freedom bitching  - personal

Today is my last day of work. I plan to celebrate by going to Chipotle and doing almost nothing productive.

At the moment, I'm feeling very, very good about my decision. Particularly because the leader on this project — justifiably, if belatedly, terrified about the project's nonexistent chance of success — just came into my "office" and asked whether I thought I and the rest of the team ought to come into the office on Saturday and Sunday in order to meet our un-meetable Monday deadline. It was all I could do to keep from erupting into joyous laughter (I managed to constrain my reaction to "shit-eating grin").

And that's another thing — the word "office" is in quotes for a reason. It's actually a conference room that I'm sharing with the other developers. They took away my cube last week. Maybe as punishment for leaving, maybe just because they're ludicrously short on space. That was fine, though. The only galling part was the pretense: that this would be good for the project, foster a "bullpen" environment, and that I had been spoiling for just such a change. In the days after having my desk moved (for the third time since August), a succession of not-future-references trundled past the conference room door, cheerfully asking how much I was enjoying this new getting-kicked-in-the-nuts arrangement that I had been asking for. Normally I would have politely mumbled a noncommital "fine". But with my days numbered, I was free to explain, politely but in detail, exactly how little I wanted or appreciated the new accomodations. It was extremely satisfying, in a completely childish and pathetic way. Where's my red stapler?

Well, the last day of work is even more liberating. I'm in the contract prime's offices, as I have been for a while. There are no bridges to burn; these people are my boses' bosses, not mine. I don't want to get Actual Boss in trouble, but I'll never personally have to be involved with the people here again. I'm not peeing in the water fountain or anything, but I'm blissfully free to eschew workplace pretense. If it weren't for the loyalty I feel toward Actual Boss, I'd be wearing a sandwichboard reading THE END IS NIGH and wandering past the offices of everyone associated with this project. You have all been well and truly fucked from the day you signed this contract.

Ah well. I'm in a good mood. Tomorrow morning I have to go to Mclean, where I will spend four hours teaching my coworkers some of what I know. That tempers my elation, but only a little.

It's almost lunchtime — feels like a guacamole day.

comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
December 06, 2005
December 06, 2005
jesus bitching

Check out the comment thread from DCist's reference to my recent panda post. It's pretty vicious — they're on the verge of convincing me that I'm a horrible, horrible racist.

Well, for the record, I really wish that pandas came from a different part of the world — one with a boringly conventional cuisine. I'm sorry that the eccentricities of Chinese ingredients are considered a slur by some. To be honest, it seems like a criticism that could be leveled against virtually any culture. To the extent that Asian cuisines are singled out as its target, I can understand the sensitivity, if not its volume.

Seriously, though, the whole joke was supposed to be a self-deprecating exercise in jingoism and xenophobia, not an excuse to pick on the Chinese. It wasn't meant in an "Asians will eat anything" sort of way. It was meant to be taken in the style of "Jews eat Christian babies!"

See? Nothing offensive there.

comments [13] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
December 05, 2005
December 05, 2005
wintry mix D.C.  - bitching  - personal

It sounds like the winter storm currently bearing down on Washington (shotgun full of snow, etc.) isn't going to come through. Topper Shutt's Bread-O-Meter stands at a meager 4.5, and is likely to dip even lower. Normally I wouldn't put a lot of stock in a local weatherguy's opinion. But Topper has always been Catherine's and my favorite: he has the saddest eyes of any weatherman. The rough and tumble world of meteorological prognostication was never meant for a soul as gentle as he.

But maybe it's for the best that the storm is dissipating, seeing as our furnace has been broken since Friday morning. For a while it was just freezing cold every morning. I was prepared to chalk this up to my inability to comprehend our stupefyingly complex digital thermostat, but our landlord had an HVAC guy come by on Friday to have a look anyway. I don't know what he did, but I know it was a bad idea. Prior to his visit the furnace had been deeply troubled but high-functioning. Afterward — well, on the plus side there was now a red LED illuminated on the thermostat. On the minus side, the system no longer produced actual heat. Hmm.

Saturday morning brought a 52 degree wakeup — time to call the landlord, who came right over, accepted our mutual impotence in the face of a broken heat pump, and then went to buy us some space heaters. Charles and I can now be luxuriously toasty in up to one room at a time, provided we don't mind tripping the circuit breaker every time so much as the refrigerator light goes on.

Being cold sucks, but it's at least conceptually pleasing to my cheapskate nerd side. Every power adapter, light bulb, computer and appliance around me, although cherished, is horribly inefficient. Entropy's inevitability doesn't just mean that you and I will die and that our universe will someday collapse into a cold, empty cloud of lifeless elementary particles (although its more practical upshot is just that I'm usually too existentially distraught to bother picking up my room). It also means that nearly everything in your house that takes electricity turns more than half of the energy it consumes into heat rather than useful work.

But with the furnace broken, suddenly all of that waste heat is an asset. I'm glad of every wasted watt-second, every gently warm plug pack. Up yours, physics! I'm getting my money's worth at last, Pepco! It's true that the heat-pump's 100+% efficiency has a distinct perpetual-motion-machine allure, but for now I'm happy shooting heat out of every available appliance and into my frozen toes. Time to start Linux recompiling again for no particular reason.

comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
November 23, 2005
November 23, 2005
dell can bite my shiny metal ass bitching

well, a grand six months or so after i bought my laptop, on sunday my screen flickered, gasped and apparently died. tommy says it has something to do with the "backlight." i say that i am "screwed." it will be virtually impossible for me to be in chicago in the next couple of weeks without my computer (and i'm not sure how long it will take for the dell people to fix it). i have a major article, a newspaper layout project and a take-home final to do before the quarter is over. not to mention that i need my computer for email, blogging, mindless distractions and downloading the VERONICA MARS TORRENT! AHHHHH.

do universities usually have some sort of laptop lending program? should i buy a laptop for like two weeks and then return it? should i go shoot up the dell HQ?

comments [7] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
November 22, 2005
November 22, 2005
things that are currently ticking me off bitching

  • not getting butterstick tickets. and no, i am NOT GIVING ANYBODY A HANDJOB TO GET ONE. in case that was in doubt.

  • jason cherkis.

  • ....uh..actually, that's about it. just wanted to get that out there.

    UPDATE: you can add to that list christina aguilera's wedding dress. holy hell.

  • comments [12] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    November 10, 2005
    November 10, 2005
    battle of the NUN bitching  - chicago

    it had to happen. last night, around 11:15 p.m., i came face-to-face with the dreaded NUN.

    it'd been a long day. hell, by wednesday, it'd already been a long week. in class, even though it's a print and reporting lab, we're working on broadcast stuff this week, which means writing scripts for radio and tv, and then actually getting in front of a camera, nicely dressed, and talking, which is basically every non-broadcast journalist's nightmare. i would prefer to stay in my jeans and pumas and mumble and type away at my computer, thanks very much. anyway, after that totally draining and creepy episode of lost, i just needed some sleep. so around 10:30 i fell into bed.

    around 11, the typical noises started. the running, the leaping, the dropping of boulders, the elephants performing ballet, etc. it was worse than it'd ever been. after about 15 minutes of shoving my earplugs ever deeper into my ears and tossing around making stab-kill motions, i got of out bed, threw on some clothes, and stomped upstairs, fully intending to bring hell.

    except i'm a pussy. so i tapped gently on the door, and when somebody, after obviously assessing me through the peephole and deciding i looked like a crazy homeless lady with bedhead, said, "uh, YES?" obnoxiously, i was sheepishly like, "um, oh, hi, it's your neighbor from downstairs, the one without any balls, because if i'd any sense, i would have knocked your ass from here to kansas by now?" you know, except for that last part.

    a nice, normal-looking guy opened the door, and i said, "oh, i'm so sorry to bother you, but, um..." at this point my eye drifted downwards to the strange red feather duster/tickle thing he held in his hand, and i was like, either i am interrupting some very kinky sex or some very vigorous cleaning, but, well, must press on! "...i'm not sure exactly what is going on up here, but the noise you're making, well, it's kind of, uh, incredible." i actually said the noise was incredible. i'm not sure why i chose that adjective. i should have said it was murder-inducing, but whatever.

    the guy, who seems very nice, apologized profusely. "oh, i'm so sorry, but i was just messing around with my cats, and you know how it gets."

    uh. no, actually. i don't know how it gets to the point where you're messing around with your cats that it makes the sounds you've been making, unless you are STRAPPING ANVILS TO THEM AND STANDING ON A LADDER AND DROPPING THEM REPEATEDLY ON THE FLOOR MOTHERFUCKER WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING TO THOSE POOR ANIMALS?

    at this point a tiny, sleek gray cat escaped through the door and raced down the stairs, obviously desperate to escape whatever this guy had been doing to him and his cat colleague, like, dressing them in suits made of stone and then launching them out of slingshots straight into the floor above my head. NUN raced past him, still apologizing, and i went back down to my apartment, saying, "oh, yeah, well...thanks for listening."

    and that was that. frankly, i'm disappointed to learn that the reason for all the noise is two poor kitties. i had hoped he had at least chained a hippo up there, or was harboring a 250 lb. fugitive who liked to do aerobics in the middle of the night. ah well. the disappointing facts of reality.

    comments [3] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    November 03, 2005
    November 03, 2005
    express ombudsman, part 2 D.C.  - bitching

    More complains about the paper I get for free. Well, sort of get for free. There are still rarely any copies at Mt. Vernon Square circa 8:30AM. I usually find a copy on the train instead. I like to pretend that I have a yellow-line manservant who dutifully crams a copy next to my preferred window seat at some earlier stop, but today he was derelict in his duties. Should I ever meet him, I will have to have him caned.

    So I only managed to find a copy of the entertainment guide today. A few things jumped out, and since I have nothing better to blog about, here they are:

    • E3: Boy George did not invent gender bending. I'm not claiming to be an authority on the intersection of pop culture and identity politics, but it seems like the word "Bowie" should have crossed someone's mind while considering this article's thesis. Also, the answer to your question, "Could 'boy/girl' be hardwired into our brain stems alongside 'friend/foe'?" is a definitive "yes". Although I don't think the relevant pathways are actually located in the brainstem.
    • E5: Gwen Stefani's harajuku girl coterie is a product, not a source. They're Americans hired to pretend to be harajuku girls (info via the Governess, I think? Solid sourcing, I know).
    • E11: I know that the phrase "x-cum-y" sounds all scholarly & shit, but you may want to avoid it for instances where y is equal to "tasting".

    I've made the appropriate notes to your personnel file. Otherwise, keep up the good work. See you at the office Christmas party!

    UPDATE: Whoops — apologies to Sommer, who points out that I probably got the faux-Harajuku tip from her.

    comments [3] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    November 02, 2005
    November 02, 2005
    aaaand we're back bitching

    Thirteen fucking hours, if you count transit. Yeesh. Observations:

    • The saying that US military bases are the only place in the world where communism works seems to be true. Also, the omnipresent aura of the 1950s gives things a distinctly Cuban feel. It was a brave aesthetic choice to subvert yourself, military-industrial complex, but I think you pulled it off. Bravo. The well-appointed skate park (really) was a particularly nice touch.

    • My coworker makes almost no sense. I'll be saying something completely boring but comprehensible to the client -- "then you'll need to upload the file", for example -- and he'll loudly interject to say something like "it's like peeling a boiled egg!" And we'll all stand there, waiting until it's safe to resume making sense. But before we can he'll explain the analogy, inevitably by telling a story about his time in the navy that involves superiors or inferiors making some sort of ridiculously naive but uninteresting assumption about something. "You can't take a skiff that far out -- they've only got 100 gallons of fuel!" These stories are usually punctuated with sound effects, and they never, ever have an ending.

    • The army is dysfunctional, and working through the bureacracy on this project is going to take approximately forever. But that's okay, 'cause I don't much feel like doing work anyway.

    • Also encouraging: my new listen-to-ipod-instead-of-coworkers-in-the-car initiative is off to a promising start. You kids doubtless already know this, but the new Broken Social Scene is pretty damn gorgeous. Catherine recommended Rogue Wave to me, and they're pretty good too in a Shins/Nada Surf kind of way.

    So what'd I miss? Are we impeaching people yet?

    comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    October 30, 2005
    October 30, 2005
    disappointing bitching

    Speaking of party photos, I've got to say I'm a little surprised by sets like this one. I expected the Blue States Lose crowd to put forward a solid Halloween effort. But to be honest, it looks pretty much like any other New York/LA hipster party — except the participants might be dimly more aware of how ridiculous they look.

    comments [4] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    October 13, 2005
    October 13, 2005
    suck bitching

    Sorry for the lack of blogging. It's 9:01 PM, and I'm about to head home from work. And that's only because I've run into a problem that will take enough hours to resolve that we'd miss our deadline even if I stayed.

    Have I mentioned that everything — everything — related to Oracle, besides the actual database server, sucks hugely? Oh mighty googlers of the future: don't succumb to the siren call of the OraOleDb client. It'll just throw unhandled exceptions when you least expect it and make you recode your entire application.

    comments [3] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    October 12, 2005
    October 12, 2005
    noisy neighbor strikes again bitching

    update on the noisy upstairs neighbor: up until this very moment, NUN has been the picture of quiet neighborliness. there's barely even been any walking. but right now, i am convinced that NUN is doing some combination of the following:

    1. running laps
    2. juggling small boulders, and by the sound of it, dropping many of them
    3. running laps with a small child, due to some strange pitter patter sound that is accompanying NN's footsteps
    4. harboring a small whale that enjoys flopping from side to side

    seriously. what. the. fuck. could NUN be doing? there is no way normal apartment movements cause these kind of sounds.

    in other news, i took ogged's advice and have started sleeping (very peacefully) with my earplugs in. all has been well except for one terrifying moment last night where i adjusted my left earplug and PUSHED IT ALL THE WAY IN MY EAR. the next five minutes were spent frantically racing around my apartment, digging in my ear only to push the plug in further, and imagining explaining the situation to the doctor at the ER and/or living as an earplug outcast, rejected by society for the bit of foam lodged in my ear canal. thankfully, a pair of eyebrow tweezers saved the day. but it was scary there for a little bit.

    yes, i am a very special person, thank you.

    ....ok, i have to add a #5: gliding back and forth on a skateboard.

    SERIOUSLY?!

    UPDATE: #6 - dumping marbles on the floor...?

    comments [12] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    September 30, 2005
    September 30, 2005
    a bad sign bitching

    This project has now gotten bad enough that I have actually begun to look forward to meetings. Daydreams about how to break my mousing arm can't be far away.

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    September 28, 2005
    September 28, 2005
    express an opinion D.C.  - bitching  - media

    What's up, Express? I know and like people who work for you, so I'll try to spare you the worst of my righteous internet fury. But you've gotta step your game up.

    First: why are there no copies of you at the Mt Vernon Square Metro? All that's in the designated box are a few old copies of El Tiempo Latino. That's not going to do it — I'm already bad enough at the crossword. I emailed you about this, and for a couple of days the problem was fixed. But no longer. I demand free entertainment, dammit!

    Second: what's up with the bloglog? This daily ticket to the narcissism lottery (top prize: egomania) is one of the most compelling features you've got. I just think a little more care in selecting the featured excerpts might be good. At the moment we're on a brisk trot toward complete incoherence — I'd estimate about two weeks until an "OMFG!!!" sneaks in. Why not feature some of the big names? They got that way for a reason. It's not like most of your readers will know who, say, Kevin Drum is. Spotlighting the little guy is a nice idea, but not when the little guy is a complete dope.

    On the other hand, if this is a subtle tactic by print journalists to defuse the threat they perceive from new media by revealing bloggers to be superficial illiterates... well, good job, then. Carry on.

    Finally: the comics. I know the comics in your big brother paper are also terrible. But I truly believe that it doesn't have to be this way. There must be good comics out there. Or maybe you could continue courting your net-savvy twentysomething demo (hi!) and run some webcomics. It's hard to see what the downside would be — today's edition featured a comic that, in addition to having a hilariously unoriginal "he went to a hypnotist and now he thinks he's an animal!" gag, was really badly pixellated. Probably just a print error, I know. Resolving the Quark problems won't make it any funnier, though. It's not your fault, but you can do something about it. Unlike the Post, you can ditch the Garfield and Blondie equivalents in your pages without crotchety geriatrics leaving angry voicemails for Mr. Bradlee. You have the power. Self-actualize! Or something!

    comments [7] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    September 05, 2005
    September 05, 2005
    building blocs bitching  - music

    I've been listening to the Bloc Party remix album, and it's pretty good. "Bluest Light" and "This Modern Love" get new arrangements and end up sounding like what you'd hope to hear at a show: interesting and different — but basically faithful — variations on the originals. Death From Above's remix of "Luno" uses a previously unreleased vocal track and fuzzed out guitars to fairly rockin' effect. And the wolf-howl enabled version of "Helicopter" should be on every Halloween playlist this year. So it's a pretty good album, despite a few real clunkers (the remixed "She's Hearing Voices" sounds like a five year old methodically banging on a MIDI keyboard full of Bloc Party samples, for instance).

    But the motivation for this post isn't to provide a review. It's much more boring — I just want to bitch about something Pitchfork said. The most prosaic form of internetery, I know.

    But here's the thing. The review is highly positive. I don't object to any of its broad conclusions. The problem is that it's suffused with the assumption that the original Silent Alarm was somehow boringly conventional, and that this new, more techno-heavy version is more intellectually inspiring. The final sentence pretty well sums it up:

    "...the band makes a rock-solid professional-sounding pop/rock record, and here come some folks with their computers to make it a bit more formally interesting as well: not a bad deal at all, right?"

    What a fucking idiot. In contexts like this, electronic music is to rock and roll as Hooked on Phonics is to literature. Drums and bass and guitars and vocals makes... sound it out now... rock and roll, that's right! I guess I can see how having a song deconstructed and rebuilt with kindergarten clarity could make it more formally interesting — but only if you were too dumb to hear the individual pieces to begin with. This is especially true when the original is as precisely-constructed as Silent Alarm is. For all but the most musically retarded, electronic remixology's dully reliable layering — bass drum, then high hat, then bass line, then guitar riff, then vocal samples, each on the quarter beat with a few measures between the introduction of each — quickly becomes boring as hell.

    Okay, okay. I'll stop now. I know I'm not really qualified to bitch about this stuff. Maybe Charles can provide a explanation of why Nitsuh Abebe is dumb that's better-grounded in music theory. But I can say with confidence that while this remix album is worthwhile, it's not more interesting than the original. Unless you weren't interested in well-constructed rock & roll songs to begin with, that is.

    comments [12] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    August 11, 2005
    August 11, 2005
    dance, monkey, dance! bitching

    see? it happens all the time. phoebe also brings up another point that i wanted to make in the last enormous thread but didn't - why are men asking us to smile when, if we actually were walking around the streets, riding the buses, etc, all while having a huge grin on our face, most people would think (correctly) that we were insane?

    unrelatedly, can i officially blast the staff of the nytimes fashion&style section into space yet? this article on heterosexual girl crushes is retarded. it's the equivalent of the man date article that took the blogosphere by storm a few months ago, except in this case, the phenomenon that this article discusses so breathlessly is EVEN LESS of a new trend. a "girl crush" is actually "WANTING TO BE FRIENDS WITH SOMEBODY." or, in this case: "Sometimes, though, a girl crush is so strong it makes the object of affection uneasy, killing the possibility of friendship" it is called "SINGLE WHITE FEMALE."

    comments [4] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    August 01, 2005
    August 01, 2005
    more reasons why (some) men suck bitching

    in addition to thinking that they have a right to only have to look at scantily clad 90 pound waifs with double D racks...they do this kind of shit and expect us to be okay with it (from the lovely and always hysterical natalia):

    men will NEVER realize how fucking weird it is to be a woman.

    every time i leave the safety of the heinz school, and i feel like i'm being harassed. forget it, every day of my life i feel like i am harassed in school or out. some men think they fucking own me. i was at a late night fast food restaurant the other day and this guy started talking to me and asking why i was dressed up. i said i just returned from a baby shower. (true.) he said, "oh babies. babies are good. with their strollers, rattles, toys ..." his voice trailed off, but in an effort to make a "joke" he said something about breast pumps and my breasts. something like, "yeah, those suction things you can put on your breasts ... those are cool ..." he said that as he looked at my breasts.

    UM.

    WTF?

    ARE YOU FUCKING DRUNK? YOU ARE TRYING TO PICK ME UP USING A REFERENCE TO A BREAST PUMP?

    i was kind of shocked, but played it off. this is the fucking point. you're not supposed to punch people in the face when you're a girl. that's bad! if i had a dollar for every guy that i wanted to (deserved) to be punched in the face, i'd own my own goddamn island by now.

    i still chatted with him like he said nothing though. he asked me to party with him and said that i was hot and i probably had good dance moves. i gave him a small chuckle, stupid, curt, smile and took a step back. he and his buddies left. "maybe next time," he said.

    yeah, maybe next time i'll actually punch a motherfucker in the face.

    i dunno. i often expect men to harass you or say rude things or try to pick you up in disgusting and weird ways. what i don't get is why they are ALMOST ALWAYS shocked when you respond back in a manner that is not all giggly, "oh you're so funny you disgusting repulsive sexist slob, hehehehteehee!" like, they feel like they have a right to say whatever they want to you, and if you take issue with it, you are an uptight biatch. this is more clearly exemplified in a lot of cancer, baby's posts about men telling women to smile. i'm late to the discussion about this, but i come down on the side where i DON'T WANT SOME RANDOM DUDE TELLING ME ON THE STREET TO SMILE. it happens to me all the time. and i know why. it is because i go walking around, unconsciously, with an expression on my face that looks like my pet kitten was just run over and i'm thinking really really hard about how to best castrate the person who did it. it's just my lovely, natural expression. and i'm not going to walk around like a smiley doll to please some passing guy. like cancer, baby says:

    I call these men Mood Oglers because the directives they launch at random female strangers accomplish the exact same thing that the actions of their gruffer yet more honest brethren, the Whistlers and Honkers, do: namely, to objectify women. But while the obvious nature of the Whistlers' and Honkers' motivations renders them laughable, the Mood Oglers' more clandestine tactics are maddening. Their behavior implies that women owe all strangers of the opposite sex a wink and a smile because by virtue of their gender they are mere anesthetized decorative objects whose dispositions and facial expressions should be rightfully dictated by the men who just happen to be looking their way. Indeed, when a random male passerby tells a woman that the circumstances of her life can't possibly inspire anything other than the appearance of obliging congeniality, he ignores that woman's humanity -- a humanity that is both capable of experiencing the full spectrum of mortal emotion and that doesn't owe any stranger explanation, concession, or modification.

    and the worst part about it all is that i ALWAYS smile for the guy, and when i think about what i would have liked to tell him (something along the lines of "just wait till i shove my shoe up your nostril, THEN i'll be smiling") , i ALWAYS feel bad. and i shouldn't feel bad! why does some stranger feel like he has the right to expect that i should smile on demand? blargh!

    sorry for going all feminazi on this site today; i am in fact appreciative of the fact that 99% of the guys i know don't act like these dipshits. but even one interaction with one dipshit is enough to ruin my week.

    comments [44] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    uhh... bitching

    when did richard roeper decide it was okay to leap from his role as ebert's second-fiddle to pontificater on all things those craaaaaazy women do? including offending him with their fatness?

    But the raw truth is, I find these Dove ads a little unsettling. If I want to see plump gals baring too much skin, I'll go to Taste of Chicago, OK? I'll walk down Michigan Avenue or go to Navy Pier. When we're talking women in their underwear on billboards outside my living room windows, give me the fantasy babes, please.

    If that makes me sound superficial, shallow and sexist -- well yes, I'm a man. And I'll have to point out that most of the men who appear on billboards and in magazines and on TV commercials are just as genetically blessed as their female counterparts.


    his last sentence is the most idiotic part of the whole thing. when only handsome, fit men are on TV and billboards and are the only ones getting starring roles, then i'll gain 50 pounds and go dancing in my underwear in roeper's front yard.

    UPDATE: holy crap:

    Really, the only time I want to see a thigh that big is in a bucket with bread crumbs on it (rim shot here).

    I realize these ads aren't targeted to men. As a matter of fact, I haven't used a firming cream in years. But they are everywhere for everyone (including men) to see -- from L stops to buses to roadside billboards. And they are producing lots of chatter and water cooler talk.

    Most men don't like the ads. For them, the ads are just showing a little too much -- literally.

    people could argue forever about whether the ads are good or not, if the women are healthy or not, if they're attractive or not, but really - where did this entitled attitude come from? when did these ugly, balding, potbellied men decide that the advertising world - and women - exist solely to serve their desires?

    UGH.

    (hat tip chicagoist)

    comments [3] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    July 24, 2005
    July 24, 2005
    bastards! bitching

    Thunderbird: don't use it. My computer has been begging to be reformatted for a little while now, but that doesn't excuse a mail program throwing out all of your email. Oh, the big, mammoth files that used to contain them are still there, peeking out at me -- 100 megs of personal stuff, 150 of work -- but every single byte of them is set to 0x00.

    Losing one mail file? I could forgive that. Shit happens. My hard drive might be to blame. But given that a) all of the files and directories surrounding this one are perfectly fine and b) both content files are hopelessly fucked, I am less inclined to be charitable.

    I'm totally stumped as to why it's apparently so hard to write a decent email client. Filtering spam? That's tough. Rendering HTML? Hugely complicated. But those parts are already written -- they're the bits that actually work! The part that nobody can seem to master is efficiently and flexibly sorting, storing and displaying a lot of small text files. This is something that computers are well-suited to doing very very well. But for some reason, email clients can't quite manage it.

    comments [3] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    July 22, 2005
    July 22, 2005
    verizon! bitching

    The internet connection at home has slowed to a horrible 60some kbps, only marginally better than a dialup modem and much too slow to access the applications I need in order to actually get any work done. You might think this is a good thing, but alas -- it means Xbox Live is out of the question as well. Fucking irony.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    July 06, 2005
    July 06, 2005
    moonlighting bitching

    Last night I went and did the moonlighting that I had whined about previously. And it was pretty godawful. Six hours rebuilding systems I told them to junk the last time I was there to specifications that changed halfway through the evening, then again at the end, at which point I finally said no. Topping everything off: I was soaking wet from the 10-minute downpour that marked my trip to the metro. Since when does Washington have a rainy season?

    But enough whining. It was good to see the two guys who work there, and it sounds like they've hooked a contract that should help them get back on their feet. Good for them -- they're nice guys, and I wish them luck.

    moisturizers

    But I do have to ask... doesn't this seem like an unusually large selection of moisturizers for a man's desk? From left to right: Jergen's Soothing Aloe Lotion, Palmer's Cocoa Butter, pink cup, bottle of ibuprofen, Lubriderm of some sort. Browser homepage: Drudge Report. I report, you decide.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    June 14, 2005
    June 14, 2005
    shower schmower bitching

    i rarely talk about my ob-jay on this og-blay, mostly because a) i think it's bad form and b) i do genuinely like the people there, though the ob-jay itself can be a bit mind-numbing. but, surely i can freely talk about other people's jobs, right? and thus i present this information from my, um, friend...err...let's call her fatherine. fathy, if you will.

    fathy has this problem. and this problem is that she hates social interaction with people who are not as irreparably cynical and bitter as she. lately, in the past couple of years at her job, this has become a problem as she has been required to attend several baby and wedding showers at the office. not only has she been required to put forth a forced cheery and optimistic and cooing presence at these events, she has often been roped into a) preparing or buying food and b) buying presents for the occasions. well, not so much roped into as passively-aggressively pushed into it, by receiving several dozen kindly-worded emails requesting help or containing links to half a dozen different registries.

    now, see, fathy often thinks that the rage that sometimes boils deep down inside of her should not be revealed for public consumption, as it is not exactly normal, so she goes along with these things, even going so far as to acquiesce to a different coworker's desire to buy a basket, several yards of pale blue ribbon, and sparkly glitter in which to wrap one gift. it is tough not to reveal rage to her colleagues, but fathy has by now long been a master of being nice in public and bitching only on her blog. but she wants to know one thing:

    isn't this kind of shit illegal?

    baking cookies for somebody whose major interaction with you has been asking you to create a PDF document? buying a present for the unborn spawn child of somebody who HAS to earn AT LEAST twice what you are making? PLAYING BRIDAL SHOWER MAD LIBS?!?!?!?!

    now, fathy wants to make it clear that she loves her coworkers and is only bitter about the social constructs that dictate these sort of showers. but as long as she is buying an artfully arranged pile of diapers for somebody who owns a beach house, she will bitch, and one day hope that society will be as such that SHE will get her own personal showers thrown for her milestone accomplishments like powering through a friday hungover, spending rent money on a really sweet pair of shoes, or eating an entire bucket of KFC chicken. come on now, people. what are our REAL priorities in life that should be celebrated?

    comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    May 25, 2005
    May 25, 2005
    inspiring! bitching

    The following quote from Helen Keller is posted in the elevator of the office building where I'm currently working:

    I long to accomplish a great and noble tasks, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.
    I guess the management company put it up there. I now officially hate those bastards.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    May 12, 2005
    May 12, 2005
    drunkalo bitching

    by the by, i came across this page about buffalo hunting in my random internet browsing (don't even ask me how i got there; i'm not sure myself) and for some reason it made me really angry. now i'm not really against gun-owning or hunting (though i'm not necessarily a fan of the culture and attitudes that seem to come along with it), but really - how can you be PROUD of having hunted and killed a buffalo in a planned, guided expedition?

    Hunters can enjoy an authentic hunt, full of adventure. This is no "canned" hunt but a stalk and shoot adventure. Accompanied by your guide, you will work your way within rifle shot of the wary herds. Bow hunters can choose to stalk, or hunt from blinds. Either way, your South Dakota Buffalo Hunt will create a lifetime of memories.

    sorry buddy, but this is not like being out in the wilds of africa and taking home a 2 ton lion. especially for the people who hunt bufffalos with guns. if you can kill a buffalo with a real bow and arrow then i might have a little more respect for you because i seen dances with wolves (like twelve times), and shit looks hard. but as you know, with a gun, you may as well be swinging a tennis racket around in 4x4 room full of frogs. that is to say that neither creature would stand a chance.

    additionally: who PLANS a vacation to SOUTH DAKOTA to go hunt buffalos? let me tell you - i've both been to south dakota and hung out with a herd of buffalos, and the two combined - well, unless you throw in a shitload of tequila - you've got yourself a crappy, weirdo vacation. i mean, how the hell are you going to get that thing home on a plane?

    comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    antz bitching

    HOLEE FUCK. this is not happening.

    so, there's this problem that we're having in this apartment. and believe it or not, it has nothing to do with that bastard charles. nor does it have to do with tommy and his propensity to have me tivo programs about "xbox: the next generation TOTALLY REVEALED [hosted by elijah wood and with a special performance by the killers]". nor, surprisingly, does it have to do with me and the fact that i just drank a half a bottle of wine. (this is what i do when i'm alone. i drink wine, check my bloglines subscription like six times a minute [why don't you people update more?!] and watch either a) under the tuscan sun b) sense & sensibility c) hours 2-4 of pride & prejudice the a&e version. next year is gonna be GREAT.)

    no, the problem is much larger, and, funnily, at the same time much smaller. it is the ants. the tiny, fucking ants.

    we started getting them about a month ago - they marched under the door in a small and sparse line, making their way from our landing to the bar between the kitchen and living room. at first i thought they were kinda cute. little tiny bugs! i mean, there weren't too many of them, ants don't bite you (well, these little black ones) or gauge your eyeballs out or nest in your hair or anything. plus, i thought, a few ant hotels would take care of the issue. no problemo! off to the giant to buy a few ant hotels and set them up in strategic positions along the walls. of course i felt much remorse at poisoning god's creatures, but dude - these are fucking insects. they're just lucky i'm not stabbing them with toothpicks and laughing.

    for a couple weeks nothing happened - the ants neither increased or decreased but just kept on their steady march along our blonde bamboo floors. just as i began to be frustrated, i whisked myself off to fabulous italy, where there is gelato and stone villas and creepy monks, but no ants. and thus i forgot.

    but by the time we got back, the problem seemed to have gotten worse. charles had been cleaning a lot while we were gone, and even his super magical cleaning abilities couldn't get rid of the little suckers. worse, they started to have an inclination for our dishwasher and kitchen counters. if we so much left a crumb of food or swipe of oil anywhere, they were on it. even worse, i started, like...hallucinating. ants, suddenly, were everywhere. i'd feel a slight breeze on my arm and freak out, thinking ants were crawling on it. out of the corner of my eye i'd see a slight movement and whip around to whack my hand down on the offending ant, only to find out nothing was actually there. it's been a little worrying. and a little stressful. i'm running the dishwasher at least once a day; the kitchen is getting mopped and wiped down all the time; i yell at tommy if he so much as thinks about leaving out the cutting board.

    WORST OF ALL, i am constantly thinking about, like, ant military strategy. i worry that i'm cleaning too much and killing too many ants so that the offending suckers can't get back to their terrible little nest and inform their wiggly brethren that the kitchen counters are being sponged six times a night by some crazy yelling lady. i think about letting them swarm around a while on clean surfaces so that they realize there ain't nothing there and leave me the hell alone. i mean, can it get any worse than thinking about reverse psychology on ants? i think not.

    but oh (and you'll never believe this), it just got worse. a lot worse. here i am, with aforementioned wine and terrible diane lane movie, enjoying the night alone. also with me is unaforementioned piece of lemon pound cake, which i just baked my little ass off to make last night. yummy, thick, lemony lemon pound cake. so good. i'm over on the couch, SEVERAL FEET away from the kitchen, in an area where there has never been an ant sighting. and you'll never guess what. go on, guess. yeah. no. a FUCKING ANT CRAWLED OUT OF NOWHERE ON TO MY PRECIOUS LEMON CAKE.

    blogosphere, i'm writing this bitter entry because i need help. i'm pretty sure it is not this healthy to feel so much anger towards, well, anything, but especially bugs. it is also not healthy to be cleaning the kitchen twice a day and imagining ants crawling all over you. i'm about to check myself into a mental health clinic in south africa. please help me. give me your awesome, your cheap, your ant-murdering techniques. because i just saw an ant crawl across my laptop, and i'm about to go postal.

    comments [13] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    May 03, 2005
    May 03, 2005
    whining bitching

    God damn it Flickr! The stupid photoblog service is reposting items that didn't originally go through. I can't figure it out -- I thought I had their elaborate unspoken rules charted: one word titles, something in the message body, a single photo per post. But now that I'm back in the states it seems that anything goes, and a backlog of unposted items is rushing forward. Argh.

    In other news, nobody at my office did any work at all, apparently, while I was gone. Meticulously crafted instructions about how to complete urgent task A were ignored; I finished urgent task A around 10pm last night. Worse, a longstanding project is going badly. I was assigned to it, then pulled off for other duties, with a junior programmer put in my place. He seems to have accomplished -- generously -- one and a half days of work over a 3-4 week period. Now he has been pulled off of the project as well. And -- surprise! -- we're supposed to have something to show the client on Friday. "I'm sure Tom can get it done in a day or two," my boss has assured my fellow worker bees. Aside from not being true, this ignores the fact that I'm still working at a client site full time. My joy overflows.

    Anyway, besides being somewhat cathartic, this is all meant to point out that I might not be able to get as much posted here as I'd like -- if I want to be able to get properly debauched at the DCist happy hour on Thursday, I'd better put in some moonlit hours now. But don't worry -- I'm sure Catherine has pent-up blogging energies to spare.

    comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    April 07, 2005
    April 07, 2005
    stfu bitching

    okay, i'm admittedly in a pretty bad mood today (at work at 8am, working nonstop all day including a lot of physical labor which my delicate lithe body cannot handle; the only bright spot so far was meeting tommy at galileo's again for another awesome grill sandwich) but i just have to bitch about a very petty and minor subject of annoyance. and that would be certain comments on DCist.

    i love most of the comment threads on DCist; they're incredibly helpful and can draw on enormous collections of resources and thoughts. they're great. you can find out recommendations for cafes, record stores, concerts, etc. i like it because i don't think we try to pretend like we know everything about the city, and commentors can fill in gaps in what we say with their great insight and wisdom about specific areas.

    that said, we get some TOTAL PIG FARKER people leaving nasty comments all over the site. they are like our total unwanted self-appointed-yet-unwanted-ombudsman-holier-than-thou commentors who leave at least three or four negative comments a week that don't even pretend to offer up constructive criticism; they just try to be the most pointedly clever and acerbic comments of the day (that are very rarely clever or funny or relevant). i don't know if they get off by feeling that they're really better than DCist or cooler than it or what, but the hell? yes, we get 7-8,000 readers a day, and we're putting ourselves out there, so this is bound to happen. i accept that. but if you hate the site, then DON'T FRIGGIN READ IT! or, if you really think you have ideas to help us be a better blog, then, you know, state them in a way that will actually help us and not make me want to cut off your tiny balls and shove them in your eardrums!

    anyway, i realize the pointlessness of my venting, but i'm still going to bitch vociferously. because that is what i do. and i am SO buying like six bottles of wine on the way home tonight. i obviously could use some alcohol.

    comments [12] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    March 23, 2005
    March 23, 2005
    the wonders of powerpoint bitching

    why is that i can be good at many computer things but SO AWFULLY WRETCHED at designing powerpoint slides? one of my bosses asked me to design a lengthy powerpoint presentation of all of our publications for the national conference in san diego next week (no, i do not get to go; no, i am not AT ALL BITTER that my coworkers are escaping the 40 days 40 nights scenario here in d.c. for sunshine and, like, seals, or whatever). and for the life of me, i cannot figure this shit out. i have spent nearly three hours on this goddamn thing and i have five nasty-looking pages to show for it.

    the powerpoint invention is a blight on the human race and needs to be eradicated. do people actually use this thing for anything USEFUL? if so, do you have any powerpoint tips? or, um, alcohol?

    comments [14] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    March 17, 2005
    March 17, 2005
    fashion is hell bitching

    so, if you haven't realized by now through my continued whining, we've got this wedding thing to go to on saturday. a formal wedding, which, turns out, is a real pain in the ass. tuxes must be rented, non-ugly evening gowns must be bought, one must figure out how to do hair in a way that does not make one look like a monochromatic pinhead, etc. i've even got to paint my toenails. sheesh.

    and i know i whine too much about it, really. but you have NO IDEA of what i had to go through to get a relatively normal-looking, affordable dress. let me take you on a little trip through the annals of a timewarped 80s fashion warehouse of death, aka Hecht's Department Store.

    MORE...
    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    a quick poll bitching

    How many meetings would you say you average at work? And how useful are they?

    I ask because I'm currently working on a contract basis for one of my company's repeat customers, and these guys have a LOT of meetings. This didn't bother me so much the last time I was here. From 10:30 to 1 every day the IT department pretty much clears out, leaving me free to goof off. Unfortunately, since my last visit they've installed a security card reader on the bathroom door, and I don't have a card -- I have to find someone and borrow one. I do, however, have unfettered access to the coffee in the break room.

    So it's kind of like that post-apocalyptic episode of the Twilight Zone featuring the bookworm with the broken glasses. Except, you know, with peeing.

    comments [4] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    March 11, 2005
    March 11, 2005
    ugh bitching  - misc

    I just overhead a promo for PRI's "The World". From their website, here's the synopsis of today's show:

    Terrorism and the Internet
    Terrorist experts meeting in Madrid say hate language on the Internet has blossomed. Some want to shut down the 4,000 known terrorist websites. Others say more Internet access is needed. Unfiltered news and open communication could be the best weapon in the war against terrorism.
    Fascinating, guys. But hey, why not expand the conversation? How about this: "The Printed Word -- Tool for Good or Evil?"

    Jackanapes!

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    March 08, 2005
    March 08, 2005
    better dead than read bitching

    One of my friends has a job that requires him to spend a lot of work hours reading books for background information. This sounded pretty okay to me, but he says it's a pain. It's just hard to read in a work environment, apparently.

    Well, now I know what he means. My boss has got me preparing for the Microsoft 70-229 exam, which involves me taking a bunch of practice tests and reading this little gem. I'm not the world's fastest reader, but even by my standards this is slow-going.

    But the real problem here is that the whole enterprise is somewhat depressing. I've got my MCAD, after this test it'll be a relative cakewalk to my MCSD, and I'm being submitted for a security clearance. All of these are valuable credentials that will help me earn a reliable wage. Until, that is, my soul has shriveled into a cathode-baked husk and I decide to repaint the corner of the ceiling.

    Ever been good at something you dislike? My scoutmaster used to go to his office Christmas parties dressed as the Grim Reaper: the folks at work had figured out that he had a knack for firing people, and as the company's fortunes faded, it became his career.

    Now, I don't mean to paint web page development as all that dire -- I am wearing pajamas at the moment, after all. But a little fondness for dabbling with computers can quickly metastasize into a horrifyingly parasitic existence, wherein I'm sustained solely by the putrid blood of the body corporate. TPS reports, people!

    Anyway, this is all easy enough to ignore on a day-to-day basis -- we all bitch about white-collar wage-slavery, but obviously things could be a lot worse. Still, for the next few hours I'll be able to tell anyone who cares to ask all about the four different levels of transaction isolation available in Microsoft SQL Server 2000. You can't tell me that isn't a little scary.

    comments [5] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    po' me bitching

    did you know weddings are a racket? really, they are. i hadn't really figured this out earlier because i haven't been to a lot of weddings in my 25 years, but after talking with some friends last night, it's totally obvious. weddings are like...a republican institution or something. they're all about benefiting the rich and, um, helping out corporations like, um, pottery barn and williams-sonoma, and giving ridiculous material possessions only to straight folks...whatever. that analogy doesn't really work.

    but seriously. i was talking with scott, a groomsman for jason and corbin's impending nuptials, and i found out he a) had to buy an engagement present b) buy a wedding present c) rent a tux d) go back and forth several times between his location and maryland to attend all sorts of crazy shindigs, where he can't even really get drunk or play beer pong or anything and e) attend a bachelor/bachelorette sleepover party, and doesn't that sound like fun, because you see the bride AND the groom will be there with all their friends, and they might make popcorn and watch movies and give each other facials and NOBODY GETS TO BE DRUNK AND KILL STRIPPERS.

    really. and if i were to total all the money i'd already spent on this wedding, i would cry big salty tears, because in the past two days i have come to the realization that i am going to have to live like a monk for the next two years because northwestern and the federal government are going to own my souls for the rest of my life. do you want to know what one year at a journalism grad school will cost you? DO YOU? okay. brace yourself. here's northwestern's cruel and unusual estimate of my tuition and living costs for september 2005-september 2006:

    Tuition
    $35,332

    Room & Board
    17,020

    Books
    2,356

    Travel
    2,108

    Personal
    4,504

    Activity Fee
    280

    Hospitalization Insurance
    2,232

    TOTAL
    $63,832

    HOLY FUCK! this is spectacularly unfair! and unless the "activity fee" includes bottles of whiskey, i'm going to be stone-cold sober all through school. but everybody knows that journalists need to be drunk! alcoholic, even! HOW DARE THEY DEPRIVE ME? don't they want me to learn real good?

    this also comes with the fact that a) i just bought a laptop so i can blog drunkenly at will, anytime, anywhere b) long ago, before i realized i would be paying grad school debts until i was 90, i planned a trip to italy in april which will cost me molto euro and c) i recently became aware of the fact that another cost of journalism grad school is that you need a whole new wardrobe. no, really. especially when moving to a hip city like chicago. blazers, tweed skirts, suede messenger bags, flat black boots - my god. oh, and this dress - any journalist worth her salt needs this dress. you've got to look professional.

    anyway. of course i am bringing this all on myself, and i know that journalistic careers traditionally reward their participants with high-paying, prestigious jobs. so it should be more or less okay. but you've been warned: for the forseeable future, i'm going on the canned-tuna-and-pasta-diet. and i'm going to be cranky.

    UPDATE: think i kid about needing a whole new hip-journalist wardrobe? check out this spread of wonkette in fashion rag lucky magazine, illustrating her day-of-the-week clothing. now, tell me: can you REALLY be a good journalist without that brown leather grommet-studded tote? I THINK NOT.

    comments [3] trackBack [1] posted by catherine - link
    March 05, 2005
    March 05, 2005
    to be fair, I guess I *do* feel some pity bitching  - music

    Thank goodness we have the Washington Post's cultural critics to keep us all on the cutting edge. This weekend's edition brings us news of a fascinating new musical phenomenon -- "britpop", I think it's called? Staff writer Sean Daly clues us in:

    The tortured blokes of Brit-pop -- your Coldplays, your Radioheads, your Keanes -- are friends to the friendless, lovers of the loveless, sad-sack salves for the brokenhearted. These pasty-faced dealers in shimmering soundscapes, chiming guitars and big, bittersweet hooks are in desperate need of a shrink, and yet, at the same time, they adore their goopy vulnerability and unshakable malaise. When Travis's Fran Healy lamented "Why Does It Always Rain on Me?," the 2001 hit song that best typifies the genre, the wee wuss wasn't looking for an answer; he was simply searching for like-minded Eeyores to join him in the puddles.

    And it doesn't stop there. In fact, playing up britpop's woe-is-meism is the framing device for the entire article (which is imaginatively entitled "The Life of the Pity Party"). Jesus, Sean. Did you make a bet with cousin Carson at the Daly Family Reunion to see who could bring the most musical shame to the family?

    Come on now. You can enjoy music bearing heavy emotional content without being a mopey navel-gazer. It's kind of like how you can watch and appreciate a performance of Hamlet without stabbing and/or poisoning everyone around you. If that's too difficult a concept for you to grasp and approach with a modicum of respect, I suggest you stick to your Smashmouth box sets.

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    February 17, 2005
    February 17, 2005
    hold the line bitching

    Right now I'm on my... let's see... seventh fucking conference call so far this week. And I skipped my usual Tuesday night conference call! Yeesh. What's going on here? Is this some twenty-fifth birthday right of passage? I knew adulthood was going to be unrelenting toil and disappointment, but I was kind of hoping my coworkers would leave me alone during it.

    Hmm. Maybe I went out and had a fatally good a time on Tuesday. Oh well. As long as the broadband connection holds I should be able to get through purgatory okay.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    January 20, 2005
    January 20, 2005
    the world marches toward freedom; i go to mclean bitching

    Ah, the simple joys of the all-day, company-wide meeting. Is "strategy" different from "tactics"? Can we craft a catchy slogan that incorporates the words "leverage", "solution" and "dynamic" that hasn't already been taken? When is the pizza getting here anyway?

    As fun as all of that was, the part of the day I had most been looking forward to was the metro ride. As expected, the city's inaugural guests could be found throughout the metro system, but especially at that perennial tourist attraction, the Left Side of the Escalator. Oh well -- a missed train and an extra half-mile walk due to the convention center stop being closed were the only real annoyances I can point to.

    But while the day wasn't that annoying, it was kind of disappointing: there were tuxedos everywhere, but I spotted only one pair of cowboy boots! And NO ten-gallon hats! What can this mean? Have the Bush administration's hangers-on traded in their authentic aw-shucksisms for elite east coast trappings? Nah. More likely it's just that guests invited to the Black Tie & Boots Ball arrive via limo. Or horse.

    Anyone have any inaugural stories to share? Aside from some eagle-appareled folks dutifully committing scenic Metro Center to videotape and a very unprofessional bomb-sniffing dog, I've got nothing. But then, I spent the day in a conference room. How was the triumphalism? Triumphant?

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    January 10, 2005
    January 10, 2005
    no escape bitching  - pop culture  - tech

    Dammit. I was prepared to ignore 24 this year -- last season irritated the hell out of me. Having inexplicably killing off the pouty-lipped, double-dealing, druglord-dating latina love interest halfway through the season, the series' producers left us to slog through a maze of bureaucrats, geeks and metrosexual villains. It fell apart pretty rapidly.

    But then, that's always the problem with 24: the people plotting the show make it up as they go along. I still find it amazing that each season's arc isn't set in advance -- doesn't the premise demand it? Realistically, yes. In practice, no. As a result the show always gets off to a gripping start, then degenerates into plotlines about amnesia, mountain lions and bad Russian accents.

    I'd finally had enough after season 3, and was determined to avoid this year's installment. I was prepared to be exposed to it -- Charles remains devoted to the show like no other -- but I hadn't counted on the blogospheric pop culture currents that this franchise brings with it. The first two hours seemed a little unexciting compared to previous 24 premieres, so maybe I'll be able to jump off this bandwagon earlier, but for now COMMENCE BLOGGING.

    AKA nitpicking. Jim Henley (via Yglesias) has already picked apart the nonchalant acceptance of torture that we saw last night. There's also the apparently silly decision to make this season's terrorists Turkish -- I'm no expert on this stuff, but a country as publicly secular and westernized as Turkey seems like a bad candidate for breeding zealots determined to strike against the far enemy. Plus, it sounds like Turkey's actual terrorists are Marxists. If that's who this season's enemy turns out to be, count me in: now that the conflict is safely fictional, I love jingoist anti-Commie entertainment. Their debauched ideology killed Apollo Creed, for pete's sake!

    But I have a feeling they'll be pushing America's more contemporary fear buttons, so instead let's talk about the other fun aspect of 24: the technononsense. We're still easing in, but this season is already off to a rollicking start.

    MORE...
    comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    January 08, 2005
    January 08, 2005
    cancel that outrage D.C.  - bitching

    Charles reports that those jerks at NBC4 has finally done something besides dashing the snowday hopes of suburban schoolchildren. Seems that the bed & breakfast across the alley from us wasn't too keen on the security restrictions being put in place for the inauguration -- they were fully booked up, but under the security policy their guests wouldn't be allowed in the area. Put that on camera with a sympathetic reporter, add a little incoherent rambling from Jim Vance and suddenly you've got the MPD's ear. I can't find a link for the story on WRCTV's website, but Charles assures me that a police department functionary has promised the security policies will be reviewed and revised.

    Way to go, local news! You may now return to your usual schedule of stories about the lurking threat of death by shopping cart, and the silent epidemic of orthodontia-induced pediatric blindness.

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    January 07, 2005
    January 07, 2005
    yay freedom! D.C.  - bitching

    We found this on our doorstep earlier this week (it was in all caps -- I've altered that to make it readable):

    Dear Residents and Business Owners:

    On Thursday, January 20, 2005, the nation will celebrate the Presidential Inauguration. The events are held in the nation's capital. This year there will be the inaugural parade on Pennsylvania Avenue during the day and then several inaugural balls during the evening hours.

    This year multiple inaugural balls will be held at the D.C. Convention Center, thus your neighborhood will feel an impact from these events. Some of your nighttime activities may be restricted (parking, driving, having visitors).

    We would like to report that traffic may be blocked along the 7th and 9th Street corridors. There may be areas (streets and parking lots) that parking may not be permitted during the event, specifically in the 1200 blocks of 7th streets.

    Residents will be required to present identification that verifies their residence in marked, secured areas. Those that do not have proper identification will not be permitted in secured areas around the convention center.

    We apologize for any inconvenience that this event may cause. Due to the heightened security in the nation, extra security precautions are required in a large scale event such as the presidential inauguration.

    Thank you and for further information, you may contact:

    Etc. Great. Look, I understand the need for security, but let's get real for a second: the convention center is gigantic structure spanning 3 or 4 city blocks. I am quite certain that it was designed to allow for security. Now, believe me, I am intimately aware that lots of people are upset with the kind of tuxedo-and-cowboy-boot-sporting dickheads who'll be trundling their Excursions past our home come January 20th. But what do you really think people in the neighborhood could do? Car bombs? It doesn't look like the kind of structure that'd be susceptible to that, but if you're worried, why not just put some Jersey barriers up on the street and some guards at the door? If your guests are terrified of walking past some black folks on the way to their car, maybe they could just take the train to the metro station in the convention center -- wouldn't that be easier for everybody?

    Seriously, am I really not allowed to have visitors? What's with all the "may" bullshit? And what's this about requiring "proper ID" -- my license still says I live in Virginia, you know. Since I haven't changed it, I guess the upshot is that I'm under house arrest for a night so that the Republicans can have a party.

    Yeesh. Count me slightly-more-embittered than usual.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    January 06, 2005
    January 06, 2005
    creating scarcity bitching  - tech

    Via Hack-a-Day and Slashdot, an enterprising geek named Shadowmite has completely redefined the capabilities of one particularly hot smartphone, the Treo 650.

    The 650 is a pretty sexy piece of tech -- produced by PalmOne (henceforth Palm), it's a cellphone/PDA that people actually like. Integrated keyboard, a nice color screen, not-too-big size... it's a good product, even if it was a step backward, in some limited respects, from the 600. However, one thing has always bugged Treo users: the device has an SDIO slot. Folks make SDIO wifi cards. And similar Palm devices -- specifically the Tungsten C -- support wifi. So why can't the Treo? "Interference with the cell phone antenna!" cried Palm. "Impure thoughts from the user! The fundamental cruelty of the universe!" Basically: we tried, it's not our fault.

    Now ask yourself: would I be telling this story if the corporation came out looking like the good guy?

    MORE...
    comments [4] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    December 13, 2004
    December 13, 2004
    more important than coal?! bitching

    I'm prepared to admit that I'm not the most objective person to comment on this story. I distrust corporations. I download mp3s. I spin elaborate justifications involving copyright extension, artificially induced market scarcity, and utopian internet bullshit. So my reaction to this might be a little more knee-jerk than is warranted.

    But does it rub anyone else the wrong way that the movie industry is being allowed into elementary school classrooms in order to train a generation of kids to be more reliable revenue streams? This has got to top even DARE in terms of uselessness and deliberate lying. They have a robot named "Safety Bot" to help teach kids that downloading songs will destroy their computers! Fantastic.

    It's tough to conclude a trend from three data points, but between this, the resurgence of the Intelligent Design debate and the recent dust-up over abstinence-only education, it sure feels like we're spending more educational resources than we ought to indoctrinating children to conform with the normative standards of narrow, self-interested constituencies. I'm not sure what the answer to this is, but it seems like we'd better figure it out before the SAT includes an essay question about comparing and contrasting brand-name colas.

    comments [5] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    December 08, 2004
    December 08, 2004
    is it 2003 already? D.C.  - bitching

    By now, liberal whining about SUVs has transcended mere cliche and taken its place as one of the defining 3 or 4 caricatures most treasured by the world's dittoheads. But as you can probably tell from my writing, I'm not one to shy away from a good cliche.

    The DC Council has just voted to establish some new taxes and fees on SUVs in the District. As you might guess, I'm in favor: I think there are externalities associated with SUV ownership -- things like extra pollution and damage to roads -- that should be paid by people who want to own them.

    But even if SUV drivers pay their scientifically tabulated fair share, I know I won't be satisfied. Why? Can I just not stand the declasse spectacle of shameless and conspicuous consumption?

    Well, yes. But who am I kidding? I'm an American, too. I enjoy consuming barrels and barrels of oil as much as the next guy. I just like doing it more discreetly.

    I think the problem is that some of these externalities simply aren't fungible. There's a personal advantage to having more mass surrounding you as you barrel down the highway, or to being higher off of the ground than the losers in cars of conventional height. Unfortunately, the associated disadvantages to those around you are frequently in terms of life & limb. Charging a premium for ludicrously large vehicles and spending the money on road rage prevention is nice, and it's better than nothing, but it doesn't really make it any easier or safer for me to drive except insofar as it subtly discourages SUV purchases -- which I suspect isn't much.

    comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    December 06, 2004
    December 06, 2004
    overstate, ignore, repeat bitching  - politics  - tech

    If news had a smell, today it would reek of ozone and urine-soaked khakis. That's right -- it's time to be terrified of cyberterrorism. DHS has released its report on cybersecurity, including a rough evaluation of the threat posed by cyberterrorism, the looming explosion of cybercrime, and some cyberrecommendations for expanding the cyberbureacracy to cyberfight these menaces. Sorry; cybermenaces.

    But before that, we've got former CIA chief Robert Gates warning about the grave threat of cyberterrorism, saying that it could be the most devastating weapon of mass destruction yet. From the AP story:

    "When a teenage hacker in the Philippines overnight can wreak $10 billion in damage to the U.S. economy by implanting a virus, imagine what a sophisticated, well-funded effort to attack the computer base of our economy could accomplish"

    ...

    He said the CIA and National Security Agency conducted an exercise six years ago, assigning 50 computer specialists to see how hard it would be to shut down the nation's electric grid. It took only two days for the group to put itself in a position to do so, he said.

    "All you have to do is look at what happened in the northeast when you had a tree fall on a line in rural Ohio," he said of a blackout that affected cities from Detroit to New York last year. "What I am talking about is bringing the U.S. economy to its knees."

    The first thing to note about all of this is that it's utter bullshit.

    MORE...
    comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    September 28, 2004
    September 28, 2004
    talk isn't cheap, bits are bitching  - blog  - politics  - tech

    It shames me deeply, but I agree with Michelle Malkin on one thing: Andrew Sullivan is kind of a whore. Sullivan has raised nearly $200,000 in his last two pledge drives to cover "bandwidth costs". Now he's just signed up with blogads, explaining that doing so "will soon provide a real revenue stream for this site". Sure, the guy deserves to earn a living -- which he does through his various print journalism gigs, too. But pretending these drives are for bandwidth is disingenuous. Kos says his site costs him $6000 a year -- and dailykos, being more of a community site, has significantly greater needs in terms of bandwidth and hardware than andrewsullivan.com.

    Like I said, I don't begrudge Sullivan his ability to earn a living, but it seems like he's making a very good one while only slightly-smaller bloggers like Atrios or Kos can't make one at all -- which makes me think people are responding to his lame complaints about hosting costs rather than intentionally giving money to provide him with a salary. Misleading people with geekspeak in order to maintain such an arrangement is a little shady -- although I wouldn't hold my breath for Sullivan to see a problem with this or any other income disparity.

    comments [3] posted by tom - link
    September 08, 2004
    September 08, 2004
    hi, my name is sinbad bitching  - science

    Chemical pollution specialist John Emsley on NPR, about 1 minute ago: "Most people don't realize that nearly every product they buy contains chemicals."

    Hmm...

    comments [1] posted by tom - link
      Powered by Movable Type 3.2
     

    Warning: include(../analytics.php) [function.include]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/metamon/public_html/zunta/blog/archives/bitching/index.php on line 4546

    Warning: include(../analytics.php) [function.include]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/metamon/public_html/zunta/blog/archives/bitching/index.php on line 4546

    Warning: include() [function.include]: Failed opening '../analytics.php' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/lib/php:/usr/local/lib/php') in /home/metamon/public_html/zunta/blog/archives/bitching/index.php on line 4546