Monday, September 24, 2007

Captain Obvious strikes again, this time in the land of hypocrisy

Today from the BBC:

"Poll blames people for climate change"

No kidding. Good thing they spent the money and took the time to interview 22,000 people in 21 countries to determine that people are causing global warming.

...Good thing they spent the fuel/paper/energy to conduct the poll, too...

Left behind?

Sick of legislation with no teeth? Yeah me too. Read this insightful article from Slate.com: "Going from B to A: How to Fix the No Child Left Behind Act." The NCLB is a frustrating act with a worthwhile goal, but it's got a long way to go before it works. As the article says, "Poor and African-American children read four grade levels behind their middle-class and white peers" -- and that's a main reason why NCLB was created. But it seems like NCLB has veered from its goals and is now just frustrating educators, politicians and lawmakers alike. Anyway, this article gives some insight on what's wrong with the law and how we might fix it... without leaving it behind altogether.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

September 19th: International Talk-Like-A-Pirate Day

(note: this post has been translated by the English-to-Pirate translator, which can be found here. FYI, matey=coworker.)

Today be TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY!!!!!

I'll pass along a joke me matey just yelled out (in a pretty poor pirate voice):

"What kind o' movies do pirates like?"

One matey guessed: "Bootie."

Wrong.

T' answer is: "Arrrrrrr- rated movies."

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

MySpace to serve targeted ads

Read the article about it here.

This isn't a shock to me, since I work in internet advertising and marketing. It's interesting industry news, though, and it's indicative of the direction a lot of internet advertising is going. But it's also a little creepy.

Here's the not-creepy part... The myspace ad targeting will partly work the way Kontera works now. Kontera is context advertising -- it picks up on keywords and categories of interest inside articles and highlights those words. When the user rolls his or her mouse over the highlighted word, Kontera serves up a bubble that includes a related link (ad). The site using Kontera makes money when the user clicks on that link. Myspace ads will be similarly targeted, but they won't be contextual. It's like the way you select categories for Google Ad Sense if you want to put it on your blog. If I put it on my tv blog, for example, I might check the entertainment category to get entertainment ads served up, thinking my readers would be more likely to click on those ads since they're reading my tv blog. The new myspace targeted advertising is like a cross-breed of Ad Sense and Kontera - non-contextual ad blocks targeted to the keywords on your page. (For example, if you're interested in movies and film, you'd see ads for Netflix, Hollywood.com and the IFC.)

(By the way, the folks in the advertising biz think this is a great idea. Buyers and sellers of ads are jazzed about the idea of targeted ads. If you were Slimfast, you wouldn't want a McDonalds ad banner on your page, would you? That's why they're developing what advertisers describe as "eBay for internet advertising" - products like Google's DoubleClick and my company's product, TRAFFIQ, which will launch for general availability on November 5. Sorry, had to plug it.)

Okay, but now here's the creepier part. There's also a more personal element - the myspace ad targeting will also pick up on demographic information about each individual user. For example, read these two paragraphs from the article:

"The system also looks at the groups members belong to, who their friends are, their age and gender, and what ads they have responded to in the past. 'Our targeting is a balance of what users say, what they do and what they say they do,' said Adam Bain, executive vice president for production and technology at Fox Interactive..."

"MySpace also plans to give its advertisers information about what kind of people its ads have attracted. 'We want them to leave knowing more about their audience then when they came into the door,' Arnie Gullov-Singh, vice president in the advertising technology group at Fox Interactive."

This is the part you should pay attention to. A lot of people who use Facebook and Myspace don't think about what kind of information they're giving out. Not just to other users (see my post about Caroline Guiliani), but also to marketers, to the businesses who run properties like Myspace and Facebook -- and to the CIA? (See this article about Facebook).

Anyway, all this is to say that the more data you put out there, the more there is to gather from you, and I've never known a marketer who'd hesitate to gather it. It hasn't stopped me yet from posting my own personal info on Myspace and Facebook (not to mention this blog), but let this be a warning to us all. Rupert Murdoch owns Myspace now - don't expect that your private info will stay private, now that the King of Media has his hands on it.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

One, two, three, EMMY!

Just wanted to let everyone know that tonight's Emmy extravaganza kicks off the return of The Televisionista (http://www.thetelevisionista.com), which from now until May will be the home of all my tv-related posts.

Unlike Brett, I won't be doing an Emmy play-by-play (check out http://rantofthelitter.blogspot.com tonight to read his), but I will be having my annual Emmy party (alone again this year... yeah, lame... although my sister will be joining me virtually, via aim), and I'll probably be writing a post or two about the Emmys. (GO NEIL PATRICK HARRIS!! Barney/Swarley deserves an Emmy!)

I love awards shows, and the Emmys and the Tonys are tied for my favorite (Emmys because they ROCK and because I care most about the outcome since I love TV, and Tonys because of the performances). So Emmys day is always a good day. (Although Ryan Seacrest hosting this year is... not ideal.)

Anyway, tune in tonight to the Emmys, and get The Televisionista back up on your radar, because over the next few weeks the TV season is starting!

One more reason I love Seth Green

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Plane clothes

Well, today I read this article from CNN.com: "Second woman says Southwest made her cover up." You'll have to read it for yourself, but basically two different women on two separate occasions reported that Southwest airlines told them their outfits were unacceptable for flying. One was wearing a sweater and a short skirt. Another was wearing a halter-top dress. The flight attendants told the women on each occasion that if they didn't cover up, they wouldn't be able to fly. The woman with the halter dress didn't have a sweater, so she was made to wear a blanket around her for the flight.

??

I'm baffled by this. Okay, so it's much less absurd than laws about baggy pants, because at least it's a company, not the government. But... really? REALLY?? Anyway, instead of waxing on about why I think it's ridiculous, I decided to paste in a blog entry I wrote when I still blogged on My Space about another airline attire issue. Must be something in the water. Anyway, here you go:


I'm slightly distressed over an article sent to me by the director of the sociology program here at Fordham. Here's the link:

"Arabic t-shirt sparks airport row"

It's an article from BBC news about a man, Raed Jarrar, who was traveling from NYC to California and was "apporached" at JFK airport by two men asking for his ID and boarding pass -- after he was already scanned and cleared by security. Mr. Jarrer was wearing a t-shirt that said "We will not be silent," written in both Arabic and English, and apparently the airline (JetBlue) had received complaints from passengers. They made the man remove his shirt and change into one they bought for him at the airport store.

Are you KIDDING me?! As the article explains: "'We Will Not Be Silent' is a slogan adopted by opponents of the war in Iraq and other conflicts in the Middle East. It is said to derive from the White Rose dissident group which opposed Nazi rule in Germany."

I'm sorry, I know the terrorist threats are scary and serious. I know airline travel is especially worrisome, and the heightened security after the London threats has people shaken up, especially at JFK. I know. I'm glad I'm not flying anywhere any time soon.

But I mean, really? A t-shirt? It's not like the guy was ticking or even had suspicious behavior going on. He cleared airport security! I think there's a difference between "better safe than sorry" and just blatantly disregarding people's rights. "We will not be silent" is a statement against the Iraq War. I don't know the latest numbers, but I'm pretty sure at least half the country would agree with Mr. Jarrer at this point. You could stand in Times Square, throw a stone and have at least a 50 percent chance of hitting someone who opposes the war (probably more than 50 in NYC). But I guess since his name is Raed Jarrar and his skin is brown, that makes a difference. If I was wearing the t-shirt instead of Mr. Jarrer, would they have forced me to take it off? I wonder. Do those passengers feel safe flying with other anti-war Americans? It just doesn't make sense.

As sad as it is that the passengers complained, the real egregious part of this is that Jet Blue actually made the guy take the t-shirt off, instead of telling the passengers that if they start kicking people off flights because of what their t-shirts say, the guy with the "Tickle THIS Elmo" shirt is the first to go.

Anyway, I'm overly torqued about this I guess, and I'm sure there are plenty of people who disagree with me, and that's okay. The whole thing just makes me really sad. After studying media and first amendment rights for 5 years, I just can't sit around and think this kind of thing is okay.

"The porn myth"

I read Ben's post today about this article from New York Magazine called "The Porn Myth." It's written by Naomi Wolf, the author of the bestselling book (and one of my personal favs) "The Beauty Myth." I'm glad she wrote this new article, and it's something you should all read.

I've talked about this very topic in multiple classes, both undergrad and grad. We'd usually start off by reading something by Andrea Dworkin, and then move toward an argument more like the one Wolf makes in "The Porn Myth." For those not up on their media criticism or fem lit, Dworkin is best known for her arguments that watching porn makes men more violent and aggressive toward women, more likely to rape women, and more likely to treat women as sex objects. Wolf discusses in this latest article that the problem isn't necessarily that porn makes men more likely to rape real women, it's actually more the opposite - it turns men off to a real woman's body, making them less excited to have real sex with a real woman.

(Incidentally, Sue Johanson of Talk Sex with Sue, formerly The Sunday Night Sex Show, raises the same concern fairly often on her show.)

I think Wolf's article is so interesting because I find it to be so true. Based on discussions I've had with my guy friends, conversations between guys that I've overheard, conversations I've had with other women, personal experiences I've had myself, and what I've observed from afar, Wolf is really on to something here. I feel better saying this knowing that Ben thinks Wolf is on to something too. It's really not because I'm a crazy feminist or anything like that. I just know that I've personally felt the same way Wolf's female students are portrayed as feeling, and I really think Wolf makes some excellent points.

As a public service announcement I'd like to just put this out there, into the great internet abyss. Guys, if you want a porn star, date a porn star. The rest of us real women out there are not porn stars. And by the way, let us tell ya, you ain't exactly porn stars either, trust us. If you want to learn how to have great sex, trade in the porn for Talk Sex with Sue. Learn about your body and about real women's bodies. We're human beings, not Girls Gone Wild, and definitely not Debbie Does Dallas. And if you can't grasp that idea and come back to the real world, then have fun at home, alone, with your computer.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Seeing double?

Thank goodness Entertainment Weekly posted this article today. Yesterday I was looking at a bus-stop billboard for the new Dane Cook movie, and then twice today I saw a taxi-top ad for the new Ben Stiller movie. I gotta say, I honestly thought that either a) I'm going insane (which is possible at this point), or b) it must be the same movie. I could have sworn they had the same tagline. Thanks to EW, I see that Good Luck Chuck's tagline is "Sometimes Love Blows," while The Heartbreak Kid's tagline is "Love blows." Silly me...

Anyway, I'm glad we got that cleared up. I also appreciate the article in EW, because, like the author, I'm also sick of movies about asshole guys which justify to other asshole guys that it's okay to be asshole guys. One more reason I love The 40-Year-Old Virgin. I thought that was the kind of movie it would end up being, but it's actually the opposite. Yay! (I also love it because it's hilarious and stars Steve Carell... but those are just bonuses.)

So anyway, if you see these ads, don't be alarmed. You're not losing your sanity. Advertisers are just losing their creativity.

www.MadStreetCred.com

Hey everyone, just wanted to let you know that I got a REAL domain name for this blog! You can now access it via its old URL (http://subtletyofperception.blogspot.com) or via its new, much more cred-worthy URL (http://www.madstreetcred.com).

Same for my TV blog, The Televisionista, which I'll start back up once the new TV season starts. You can access that via its old URL (http://ophelia710.blogspot.com) or via its new, much cooler URL (http://www.thetelevisionista.com).

Awesome.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

"Hi, haaaave you met Ted?"

Well I finished "Rape: A Love Story" (FANTASTIC, by the way. Read it!), so now I'm going to try to lighten things up around here. So much seriousness the last two days.

So. Here are some quick clips from How I Met Your Mother. They're so much better in context though. (Netflix season one. Go!) I can't WAIT for the new season. Please please please, Emmys, give HIMYM some street cred. (I know, it's not gonna happen. Maybe next year though?)

Clips:

"Suit up/Have you met Ted":



"Lawyered":



Promo:



"Brunch":

P.S.

In light of my post last night, I can't fail to post this article as well, courtesy of CNN today:

"Girl, 14, fled abuse, mind control of polygamy."

The article is about the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), a cultish, polygamous sect that broke off from its namesake over 100 years ago. It's been renounced by the Mormon faith, and it is led by Warren Jeffs, who's being put on trial this week in Utah as an accomplice... wait for it... to rape.

::shakes head::

I really don't know what else to say.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Reading about the unspeakable in fiction... and the shocking real-life news story about something even more unspeakable

After finishing Jonathan Franzen's emotional rollercoaster novel, "The Corrections" last night, I started fresh today reading Joyce Carol Oates' "Rape: A Love Story." I'm about half-way finished (it's relatively short). I've gotta tell ya, it's a tough but meaningful read. The Readers' Digest version of the story is that a woman in a small town in upstate New York is on her way home from a 4th of July party with her young daughter around midnight, and she gets brutally gang-raped, beaten and left for dead by a group of about 8 local guys. Her daughter gets beaten but manages to escape unseen and hides, still having to listen to her mother get raped. After the woman comes out of her coma and she and her daughter identify the rapists, the town turns against them, taking up the classic sexist argument that she "had it coming" and was "asking for it." Only the cop who found the women that night is willing to man-up and help them get justice.

Oates does a fantastic job of drawing the reader in to experience the story and to understand the quiet desperation of the position they were put in. I was thinking on my bus ride home today that it's all too easy for a he-said she-said story like this to turn its ugly double-standard face against the women, and how awful it must feel to be in a situation like that and to have nobody believe you, whether in a book or in real life... while all the men involved in the trial or the news-making or the news-watching or the news-ignoring go home and watch Hentai porn or hard-core porn that involves women getting ("non-consensually") raped. While they get off on it. (I'm not trying to single out the men. Rape just usually is performed by men, against women, and enjoyed as pornography by men. See horrific exception below. Also, I'm not saying all porn is bad. But the kind of porn I'm talking about here is. Sorry kids.)

So yeah. I get really involved in books, movies and tv shows, and I'm notorious for over-empathizing with the characters.

You can understand my shock, though, when I came home to this real-life news story tonight: "6 arrested in week-long attack on woman." Please read it for yourself. I can't get through it without feeling sick to my stomach. And this time it's not merely sexist (even performed by both men and women, rape is still sexist) -- but it's also overtly, disgustingly, passionately, unabashedly racist. I can't even take it. I don't have much to say on the matter, except that it makes me really sad. I hope these people get put away forever, and that their slimy lawyers don't make up some ridiculous alternative explanation that everyone believes (like they did in the book) and that nobody turns against the girl trapped in the house. As affronted as I am by this, I'm refusing to refuse to talk about it, because silence is betrayal. Everyone should read this article and be aware that small versions of this kind of abuse happen every day, whether it's rape or hate crimes or both, like this one. Racism and sexism live on. Don't just stand by and watch.

Things that make you go "hmm": Global Warming edition

"Should Americans have fewer babies to save the environment?"

In my never-ending postage about global warming, I'd be remiss not to include this article I read today on Slate. It sounds crazy at first, and there are strong arguments against it, particularly the Idiocracy counter-argument the author discusses. But we've gotta do SOMETHING, so I say it's better to read and think about this stuff than to automatically discount it altogether. Anyway, this article is at least entertaining and full of interesting tidbits, and at most something to think about: "Global Swarming: Is It Time for America to Start Cutting Our Baby Emissions?"

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

My Bottom 10

I'm fairly impressed with the graphic I found for my last post, which almost made me refrain from writing a new post. However, I've moved past it and am coming to terms with the immediate and fleeting nature of internet writing.

Now that that's out of the way, I thought I'd actually compose a Bottom 10, as discussed in my post a couple days ago. (Read it again here.) I'd like to offer two small caveats. First of all, I just wanted to let everyone know that apparently I hate a lot of things, because I can think of way more than 10 that qualify for my bottom 10. Guess I'm just a hater.

Now my second caveat. Lest any Street Cred readers think I'm superficial, I want to point out that this Bottom 10 intentionally consists only of silly or lighthearted items. Obviously my real, true, honest Bottom 10 would include serious things - not the least of which are racism, war and poverty. But come on, can we really talk about these kinds of issues in a list modeled after a video last seen on Homestarrunner.com? Right, that's what I thought. So I vow to keep this light and breezy, in honor of Strongbadia.

So here it is, the much-awaited Bottom 10 countdown:

10) Melted cheese. (As promised, I've included melted cheese in my Bottom 10. And indeed, it belongs here. I discreetly pick the melted cheese off of my pizza [as many a meal sharer can attest to], I balk at the sight of a mozzarella stick, and mac and cheese is only okay if the cheese is creamy and not stringy or melted on the top. My issues with melted cheese are very specific and deal with matters of consistency. I have similar issues with rubbery foods. I have separate issues with meat and with anything resembling anything I recognize. For more information on my food idiosyncrasies, contact me directly.)

9) The U.S. postal service changing the price of stamps. ("Now what do I do with these?" I will not buy 1 cent stamps. I refuse. Thanks, USPS. Now I have a fucking stamp collection because everything I buy from you, ever, ends up being useless. What a scam.)

8) Loud chewing. (Come on people, we're trying to eat here. Nobody wants to listen to your flapping gums as you chew your food. No, seriously. Shut your mouth. It's pretty simple. Caveat: those with colds get a pass. We know you don't mean to do it.)

7) Newsprint. (It's 2007, New York Times. Can't you figure out how to process your paper so that damn newsprint doesn't come off on my fingers? I like the satisfaction of reading an actual newspaper in front of me rather than scrolling through it online. But hello, Gray Lady, it's not gonna happen if it continues to end up smudged on my forehead as I rub that very forehead in frustration with my newsprint-smeared hands. Not cute.)

6) Bottoms of jars. (How am I supposed to get any of this stuff out?! Peanut butter. Pasta sauce. Candles. Shampoo. Whatever. I'm SO over scraping. And too cheap to throw it away. Now all that stuff is littering my fridges, cupboards, drawers, shower shelf, countertops. I shake my too-big-to-fit-in-the-jar fist at you, jar designers!)

5) Email forwards that include grave threats to my life, luck, love life, or general health and well-being if I don't forward them to someone else. (Okay, look. These were mildly amusing to me back in the day because I thought people were lame for being duped into sending them. Poor internet virgins who didn't know any better, I used to think. Now I have no further benefit of the doubt to extend to you people. The only thing I can figure is that you've decided to crown "irritating Lisa" as one of your life goals.)

4) Expensive art that looks like I personally painted it. (Cezanne, Monet, Degas, Picasso -- I get you all. Even Pollock. I get you too. So it's not that I can't appreciate modern art. But let's be honest. Go to a modern art museum and count how many things look like your three-year-old niece made them. Those ones I don't get. A straight red line. A plain circle. Something that looks like a finger-painting I brought home to mom about 20 years ago. I'm sorry. I can't understand the vision. I can't understand how it's artistry. And most of all, I can't understand why it costs a zillion dollars. I can make you one real quick on my lunch break if you want. For free. Yeah, yeah, I know. This probably makes me an idiot who doesn't deserve to step foot in a museum. Art teachers never liked me anyway. So be it.)

3) People who think they're the smartest person in the world. (You all know who I'm talking about. That one guy you know who simply can't be argued with because he refuses to recognize that someone else might have a valid opinion or thought on anything at all. I'm pretty smart, and most of my friends are as smart as or smarter than me. And yet I'm willing to recognize that there's a hell of a lot of stuff that I don't know very much about. Also, I'm willing to admit that sometimes I'm probably wrong about things, and that even if I'm not, someone else's opinion is valid. If you can't recognize any of that, you need some perspective. And I have little to no patience for you. And p.s., you're not very fun to talk to. Negative cred points to you.)

2) The local news. (I don't care where you live. It's horrible. I want to punch the newscasters in the face, and then punch myself in the face for staying on the channel for longer than it takes to channel surf. "Wow that was some story, Sandy! A basket of puppies?" "Hahaha ohhhh Bob. Those crazy puppies." Yeah I think the weather girl and I both just short-circuited.)

And the one you've all been waiting for...

1) February. (First of all, February, what is with how you're spelled? Way to confuse mediocre spellers everywhere. Secondly, the 28 days thing? Combined with special consideration during Leap Years [which are bogus in their own right]? Please, February. It's so obvious that you just want all the attention on yourself. And I'm SO over that. Also, Feb. is the keeper of Groundhog Day, Valentine's Day, the day Pluto the planet was discovered [poor Pluto! I haven't forgotten about you, lil buddy], and Presidents' Day. Talk about sham and mockery!!! The most bogus holidays of the bunch! And then, just to rub it in, the observance of Black History Month gets dumped in February, as if it's a similar sham, hoarded away in a 28-day shame fest with the likes of Punxsutawney Phil, a planet that's been shunned, an observance of a bunch of political hacks [each of whom 50% of the country hates], and a holiday designed to make people feel miserable or broke?? I'm offended, and I think it's clear BHM is outright getting the shaft. February, I'm on to you. Mega shade cred. You're a smug, selfish, attention-hungry imposter month with racist tendencies. And I've had enough.)

Cred report

My friend from work, "Billy Smooth," aka the SEO Master, gave my blog a shout-out on his blog (read the post here: "Street Cred", and read the rest of Billy's blog here).

Just wanted to include a cred-worthy excerpt -- in the post, Billy gives an explanation of what street cred is, and then he lists some examples, which is the paragraph I've included below. Very astute, in my opinion. (With the clarification that Bill Clinton is the one with pimping street cred, not Hillary. Although I think that's pretty obvious.) Here it is:

"Some rappers live a hard life, and earn a modest amount of street cred without hurting themselves. Whereas 50 cent got shot nine times and survived, so he has automatic street cred. Bush hiding out at his ranch has no street cred. Clinton has pimping street cred. Condoleeza has street cred for an accomplished career no doubt, but has ventured too much over to the dark side of American supremacist politics to deserve additional points of street cred. Chavez has street cred where he survived a military coup d’etat and strengthened his nation with one million AK-47s from Russia."

Now that's a cred report if I've ever seen one. I'd also add that Condoleeza gets a couple cred points for her name, as well as her nickname. (Condoleeza? Condi? Awesome.) Glad that the idea of street cred and allocable cred points is spreading. Keep it up, kids.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

David Blaine parody

My friend Brian sent me this link a while ago, but I just remembered it earlier tonight. It's a parody of David Blaine's street magic. For some reason I think this is really funny. I love how it just keeps getting more ridiculous and the two guys keep getting more excited and then the guy playing David Blaine stares into the camera like a pedophile or a serial killer. So great. Mad street cred here - and they're also literally ON the street, parodying street magic, so... extra cred points. Enjoy:

Live Green

I feel as though I should give a certain site a little street cred, since my agency built and designed it, and since I am the account executive on the project. Also, it's just flat-out cool.

It's called Living Green, and it's a Better Homes and Gardens site dedicated to help you go green and stop global warming. Each week, there's a new green challenge you can do to help save the earth. For example, last week's green challenge was to change three lightbulbs in your home to CFL bulbs. If you complete the task, you save 900 lbs of carbon. That's pretty substantial.

The coolest feature of this site is that you can invite other people to be part of your green team so you can work together to stop global warming. The weekly challenges are usually pretty simple ways to make a big impact. The first week's challenge was to run the dishwasher only when it's full. That's something you could do fairly easily - and it would even save you money on your water bill.

Anyway, if you read this blog you know that I'm big on going green and stopping global warming. I was pretty excited to work on this project at work, and I think the finished product is pretty sweet. Check it out. Here's the link again: http://livinggreen.bhg.com.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Who speaks for you?

I was thinking about this video earlier today, so I thought I'd give it a little Street Cred. Sign the Peace Talks petition here, find more activism info at Avaaz.org, or check out the Avaaz Blog. Remember, "Change the policy. Change the perception. Change the world." Enjoy: