Monday, December 22, 2008

Quotable

"You are so young, so much before all beginning, and I would like to beg you, dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart, and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer." - Rainer Marie Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bobby

Netflix never does me wrong.

Due to my overwhelming and inexplicable interest in the year 1968 (movies, books, documentaries -- you name it, I'll absorb it), Netflix recently recommended the movie "Bobby." As I'm sure you can guess, it's about the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. I thought now seemed like a good time to watch it, since NYC just renamed the Triborough Bridge in his honor. Also, I'm fixated on assassinations at the moment - right now I'm reading a fantastic book called Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer.

Anyway, the movie really took me by surprise. I thought it seemed odd that Netflix said the "supporting cast" was full of superstars (William H. Macy, Anthony Hopkins... Ashton Kutcher...) -- now it all makes sense. Bobby is barely in the movie, except in numerous authentic grainy news clips, and yet at the end of the movie I was sitting on my sofa sobbing like a fool. (I guess I get a bit involved with movies.)

I love films based on true stories. Zodiac, Capote, The Last King of Scotland, Shattered Glass, All the President's Men... the list goes on and on. I'd watch them a million times over. I thought this one was interesting because it's so focused on the other people who were shot during Bobby's assassination. You become captivated by the lives of the guests at the hotel, almost as if Bobby is a mythical figure drawing them all together. Then he gets shot - and some of them get shot too. It's tough not to get wrapped into the story. They also make some interesting choices with video and audio clips. Some might not like how often they're used, but I think it adds a powerful touch... and a reminder that this isn't just a fictional story.

However, I do have to say that based on what I've read about the actual assassination, most of the characters in the movie are purely fictional -- which I think is unfortunate and quite misleading since it's paired with news clips that were not fictional. Regardless, it's a movie that was well worth my 2 hours.

In case you haven't seen it (and especially if you're not as unhealthily intrigued by 1968 as I am and maybe don't have the sequence of events morbidly memorized), it's definitely worth a watch.

"Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events -- and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation." - Robert F. Kennedy

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Mad Shade Cred

I honestly can't believe I'm actually posting about this again. In case
you missed my post from last December - "Supersize My... Report Card?" - last year I was outraged that Seminole County, Florida was selling ad space to McDonald's on the front of its report cards, in exchange for McDonald's fronting the printing costs of the report cards.

Well it looks like Seminole County started a bit of a trend. This article: "Teacher Sells Advertising on Tests" explains that a San Diego teacher is selling advertising at the bottom of math tests in order to pay the cost of printing the tests. Ads like "Braces by Stephen P. Henry D.M.D." go for various prices, depending on the kind of test. Advertising space on quizzes is sold for $10 a pop, test ad space goes for $20 and final exams rack up a whopping $30 per ad.

Let's be clear. I feel teachers' pain. I understand that they have to do the best they can with slashed budgets and support. They're overworked and underpaid and they're responsible for shaping the future generations. The billion-dollar budget cuts for education that these school districts are facing are absurd, especially considering all the other things this country is spending money on. And when underpaid teachers are expected to pay for things like test printing and classroom supplies out of their own pockets, it's understandable that they would search for alternatives. One innovative example is the Gold Star Registry, which lets teachers put together a wish list (just like a bridal registry) of school supplies, bulletin boards, posters, etc. that parents can purchase for the class. Clever idea. But it goes to show that if schools' budgets are cut and teachers are in a pinch, there are other ways to subsidize that don't involve advertising to kids.

Don't get me wrong - I am all for advertising. (How could I not be - the ad industry writes my paycheck.) But I don't think kids should be advertised to in school. Like I said in my previous article - Channel One's advertising-rich school news programs, fast-food-chain-sponsored reading programs... these are dubious choices by school districts in my opinion. But at least kids and parents have some opportunity (if limited) to opt-out of these sales pitches, by not paying attention to the Channel One programs or not participating in the fast-food-sponsored programs. Kids can't opt-out of a test.

Although the example in the article is an ad for braces, which seems relatively harmless, this sets a dangerous precedent. What's next? Product placement in the classroom? I can just picture it now. "Kids, if you add 3/4 cup of Tropicana Orange Juice..." (holds up Tropicana bottle, label side out) "...and 1/4 cup of Welch's Grape Juice ('100% juice!'), how many cups do you have?" And maybe we move from quiz-ads for braces to test-ads for Frosted Flakes to final-exam-ads for Grand Theft Auto IV.

Kids are in school to learn. Not to be advertised to. They're already advertised to in the lunchroom, they're advertised to in homeroom (with Channel One and similar programs), they're advertised to on their classmates' clothing and accessories, and in some districts they're advertised to on their report cards. Tests were the last bastion of ad-free goodness. Math problems, essays, true/false questions, and that's it. But not anymore.

Are you SAD? Is the quadratic equation getting you down? Turn your frown upside down with Zoloft.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Blondes have more fun?

Well, I can't sleep, mostly because I'm up worrying about things. Shocking, I know. So I decided to put my insomnia to use and open up my ever-shiny Mac to write a brief post about the movie I watched tonight for the first time - Legally Blonde.

I hate to be a hater, especially since I like Reese Witherspoon, but... really, everyone? That movie really bothered me. I know, I know, it's just supposed to be a cute romantic comedy and I shouldn't overanalyze it. Honestly though, I can't help it. Elle is trying to prove that she's smart and not just a dumb blonde... and the climax of the movie has her winning her big case (in which she can't pronounce any of the legal lingo) by using the skills she racked up in all those years of reading Cosmo? Shoes and hair care? Seriously??

I'm sorry, I just don't get it. I'm sure watching it on cable TV didn't help my experience since the movie was constantly interrupted by commercials. But... I really don't think I'd have any different opinion of this movie if I watched it sans the ads for Lipitor. And also, in the movie's defense, I can't stand watching stereotypical sorority girls from LA. But this is kind of my point. How does Elle running around with a tiny dog in her purse, wearing hot pink outfits to court, and solving the case of the year with a perm-slash-wet t-shirt contest anecdote help anything at all?

Well, at least Elle gets engaged on the day she graduates, right? Finally got that MRS degree.

This is not a movie that's going on my top ten list. Let's put it that way.

Let's Go To The Mall! Today.

Tonight's How I Met Your Mother included Canada jokes and a surprise visit from none other than Robin Sparkles... yep, Marshall sang karaoke to "Let's Go To The Mall." This inspired me to post the original here for your viewing pleasure. Because this is what it's all aboot. Enjoy:

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Banana

I always learn something new when I watch Bill Moyers. Tonight is no different. Maybe I'm just an idiot (who never payed attention in history class... oops), but I had no idea that "banana republic" was an actual term that represented anything beyond expensive clothes in muted colors.

But tonight Bill Moyers used "banana republic" in its originally intended context -- it means a country ruled by a corrupt dictatorial regime. Apparently it originally referred to Central and South American dictatorships that were created in order to exploit natural resources - specifically banana crops. Colloquially today, it usually just refers to a small, politically unstable country whose leaders are corrupt and whose economy relies on one export.

According to Wikipedia (yeah, I know, really reliable source), the term was coined in 1904 by a writer whose alias was O. Henry, in reference to the corrupt regime governing Honduras at the time.

I'm having trouble finding any reliable sources online, so I'll spare you the links. Instead we can all just go look it up in a book like we used to in olden times.

You learn something new every day. I have to say, it seems like a strange choice for the name of a company. (See creepy photo below.)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Link it up!

A lot of great links flying around today. I thought I'd share some of my favorites.

Are you a real geek? Read 50 Skills Every Real Geek Should Have to find out. I am definitely not a real geek, as I only have done/can do very few things on this list (cpu pins, html tags, hulu - I should be their poster girl, warranties, photoshop, wifi, pick a lock, and dr. pepper - but can't break down the ingredients). What does that make me, a novice geek? I'm okay with that. I do think it would be impressive to learn pi to 23 decimal places...


Windows Explorer oops
- this is really funny to me. Check it out for yourself.

Type Race - Race against other people to see who can type faster. I schooled the people I was playing against, but 88 wpm really isn't good... I need to practice typing faster. (The sentences are kind of weird... they purposely include strange characters. But it's fun!) ... Okay, now I'm typing 104 wpm, I think that's better. Right?

2008 on the Web: The Key Events - This article from Mashable is a highlight of the year's headlines in Internet phenomena. Some of these include the rise of Hulu, Twitter coming into its own, the Facebook redesign, the Justin.tv suicide, citizen journalism taking a new form (like it did with the Mumbai attacks), and everybody's favorite - Rick Rolling (which culminated at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade).

On a semi-related note, read about the Top 10 History-making Moments of 2008. It includes good stuff like cannibalism, Stonehenge, and the Olympics. Crazy year.

After all my speculation regarding Grey's trying to kill off Izzie, it turns out she's not getting the boot. The brain aneurysm/Denny sightings storyline has been written in because Rhimes is attempting to give Heigl Emmy-worthy storylines. Questionable, in my opinion, after Heigl's McAttitudeProblem about the Emmys. The big news today is that there's a different Grey's exit approaching. T.R. Knight asked to be written off the show. Guess it's curtains for George.

"In Defense of Teasing" - This article from the NY Times debates the merits of teasing in our social and psychological development. What do you think?

Also, I'll leave you with an oldie but a goodie in honor of the holiday spirit -- Christmas at "The Office":

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"Helloooooooooo... I'm a carrrrrrrr...."

I keep hearing the Dane Cook car alarm outside my window!!! It's driving me crazy. So crazy that I decided to watch Dane Cook's skit just to make myself laugh about it instead of poking myself in the eye.

For your viewing pleasure... skip ahead to 0:32...

Proposition 8: The Musical

Starring Jack Black and lots of other famous people - including the one and only NPH!

Take a watch:

Monday, December 1, 2008

"Actual reality. Act up. Fight AIDS!"

Today (Monday, Dec 1) is World Aids Day. Show your support!

Get tested:

To find HIV Test Centers near you Text: Your Zip Code To: KnowIt (566948) www.hivtest.org

Buy a peppermint mocha from Starbucks:
"To mark this World AIDS Day, on Monday only, Starbucks will contribute 5¢ directly to the Global Fund for every single handcrafted beverage purchased at participating stores."

(Need more encouragement? BONO: "It's pretty mind-blowing to think that millions of people can buy (RED) going about their daily lives and in doing so raise millions of dollars to fight AIDS in Africa. That's not a bad hit from your caffeine.")

Shop other (RED) products: http://www.joinred.com

(If you're in NYC, the Empire State Building is going RED tonight too! Keep on the lookout.)

And watch these videos:





"Think Different...ly"

This is a funny Simpsons parody of the Apple craze. Even as an Apple lover, I still think this is great. So true:



In other news, I still want an iPhone for Christmas, and my Macbook is still my favorite thing in the world. Also, here's one more reason to love Steve Jobs. (Yes, I clearly drank the Kool-Aid.)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Secure?

Great post today from AmberCadabra called "Reassurance and Insecurity." As someone who's usually fairly insecure (and trying so hard not to be), it resonated with me quite a bit. Like Amber, I also just finished a book in which the main character was an introspective, intelligent, insecure young woman in love with a supportive and reassuring guy. (Could it be the same book?) The reason I loved the book so much is because the main character is very much like me. And that guy would be nice to find. Plus, as Amber says:

"We crave reassurance as humans. In fact, many of us are quite capable of recognizing that our thoughts and feelings are often irrational and driven by wayward emotion. But we want those we care about to not only encourage us to share those torturous thoughts, but we want to hear that they have them too. We want them to tell us it will be ok. That they care about us. That they’re going to be there anyway. The dialogue I’m reading is moving, if only because it satiates the wish we (or at least I) have to have someone look you up and down, and still tell you that you hold a very special place in their world."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Uh... okay... go!

Well, Meredith and Matt were pimping the Shrimp on a Treadmill video today on the Today Show. They interviewed the scientists who were performing this experiment on the show, and they said that this poor shrimp ran for 5 hours. Can you imagine that? Apparently it didn't want to stop, but the scientists thought 5 hours was about enough for Scamp (that's the shrimp's name, apparently).

How does the Today show get such crazy stories on there all the time?

Anyway, I searched around for the video on YouTube and various people have set Scamp's video debut to different soundtracks. My personal favorite is the one below, which is set to OK Go's "Here it Goes Again," the song whose music video features OK Go performing tricks on treadmills. You'll notice the video creator also mocked the opening title screen. Very clever.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Pushing Daisies will be pushing daisies

Well, it's official. Pushing Daisies has been canceled. Dave tried to warn me, but I just wouldn't believe him.

Man, I loved that show. ::tear::


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Quotables

"He has never claimed to be anything but a human being chosen by God to fight an axis of evil and defeat a mortal danger to all humanity."
- The Colbert Report

Friday, November 14, 2008

RDJ!

Robert Downey Jr. was selected Entertainment Weekly's Entertainer of the Year!

Can I get a hell yeah? I love this man. Seriously, I think he's my favorite actor.

In honor of RDJ, I'll include some pics and quotes. Enjoy.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
"It's hard to believe it was just last Christmas that Harmony and I changed the world. And we didn't mean to and it didn't last long. You know a thing like that can't."

(and another, because this is my favorite movie...)

Harry: [narrating] "I tell him about destiny; he's shaking his head. About dreamgirls; he doesn't care. I mention the underwear thing? He has a *fucking conniption*. And you? How 'bout it, filmgoer? Have you solved the case of the - the dead people in L.A.? Times Square audiences, please don't shout at the screen, and stop picking at that, it'll just get worse."


Charlie Bartlett

Principal: "Charlie there are more important things than popularity."
Charlie: "Like what? Cuz I'm seventeen. And right now, popularity is pretty damn important."
Principal: "Like what you do with that popularity."


Iron Man
"I had my eyes opened. I came to realize that I had more to offer this world than just making things that blow up. And that is why, effective immediately, I am shutting down the weapons manufacturing division of Stark Industries."


Zodiac
Robert Graysmith: "Does anybody ever call me names?"
Paul Avery: "What, you mean like retard?"
Robert Graysmith: "Yeah."
Paul Avery: "No."


Good Night, and Good Luck
Shirley: "Name me one woman who asks her husband to take off his wedding ring before he goes to work."
Joe: "Ava Gardner."


Wonder Boys
Terry Crabtree: [Looking at James Leer's book] "The Love Parade... I've got a feeling about this, Tripp. I feel this kid in my bones."
Grady Tripp: "ONLY in your bones?"

Taste the Rainbow

From cnn.com today:

"A source close to transition team tells CNN that Obama is also trying to build a diverse Cabinet that includes women and minorities and that works as a team."

Hooray! Finally. GoBama!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Someone to Fall Back On

I'm in love with Jason Robert Brown.

He wrote awesome musicals like Songs for a New World, The Last Five Years, and Parade. The song below is one of my new obsessions - ever since I saw him perform live at Birdland. The song is called "Someone to Fall Back On," and it's from his solo album, "Wearing Someone Else's Clothes." Listen and love it! (PS - if it doesn't work the first time you press the play button, pause it and press play again. It should work the second time.)


Someone To Fall Back On - Jason Robert Brown

Emergency Pants

Speaking as someone who talks with her friends about "comfy pants" "fat pants" "skinny pants" "work pants" "workout pants" and "weekend pants" (we like pants), I seriously appreciate this clever comic strip.

(It's from Sluggy Freelance, which I read about on Today on the Interwebs.)

Enjoy:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Doesn't Remind Me of Anything

This is a great music video - and this is coming from someone who does not typically like music videos. I can't embed it here (embedding has been disabled), but here's the link:

"Doesn't Remind Me" by Audioslave

i <3 rives

This is fantastic poem from Rives. Even if you don't like "poetry" - give this a shot. He really is terrific. Plus, this one uses emoticons! I could listen to this man all day. (Thanks Ben for the vid.)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Merger

So I'm thinking of consolidating Mad Street Cred and The Televisionista, my tv blog. Mostly because I rarely publish on The Televisionista anymore, and I have less and less time for TV anyway. So I'm thinking of retiring The Televisionista and posting my tv rants at Mad Street Cred.

(I'm also thinking of resurrecting my Live Journal. Mostly because I never write about my life anymore, and my posts in there used to be pretty fun. Plus, I love the layout.)

Any thoughts? Objections? I know none of you read The Televisionista anyway, so if I post about TV in here it's actually more stuff for you to read. Get excited!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday Cuteness

I could not make this stuff up - a live feed of puppies. The cutest thing EVER:


Oh The View

A Sarah Haskins video from current.tv about The View:


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Quotable

"The only freedom deserving of the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental and spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each other to live as seems good to the rest."
- John Stuart Mill, "On Liberty"

Monday, November 3, 2008

"Electing a U.S. President - in plain English"

Here's a great vid from CommonCraft about how the electoral process works:










Quell your voting jitters

I was talking with one of the younger people on my team at work today, and she expressed some anxiety about voting tomorrow. Like many younger citizens, she has only ever cast an absentee ballot before, and she has no idea what to do tomorrow. I was in a similar situation for the primaries, so I know how she feels. And I'm glad she's going to rock the vote! But in case you're nervous like she is, here are a few things that can help you prep for tomorrow:

- Know where to go. Your state's Board of Elections will tell you where you should go to vote. (This is the polling location website for the state of NY.) Also, sites like Rock the Vote are committed to making sure first-time voters know what they need to know, including everything from where your polling place is to what you have to bring with you. Another good reference is Vote411.

- Make sure you weren't "purged." Sites like Can I Vote? can tell you whether you exist according to registration records. Make sure you check, since many registrations were purged recently. You don't want to not find out till you show up tomorrow!

- Preview the ballot. Enter your address information into Smart Voter to see what will be on the ballot you see tomorrow. This gives you a chance to review any Propositions you may be voting on ahead of time so you don't hold up the lines tomorrow. Also, in case you don't know much about your local candidates, this gives you a chance to research them in advance so you can make an informed decision tomorrow.

- Know the equipment. Different polling locations have different kinds of voting machines. Articles like "How to use a voting machine to vote" from DIY Rules can give you the low-down in advance so you don't end up accidentally voting for the wrong candidate. (Hanging chads, anyone?)

- Know the rules. Different states have different rules about whether you need an ID to vote, whether you can wear campaign gear (i.e. an Obama t-shirt, etc.) at the polling site, etc. You don't want to take the chance of being rejected from voting once you've stood in line tomorrow! Along with sites like Rock the Vote, also check out articles like ABC News' "Voting 101", CNN's "Voting Guide" and Time Magazine's "7 Things That Could Go Wrong on Election Day" to get more information.

Whoever you're voting for, just make sure you vote tomorrow! Because remember - if you don't vote, you can't complain.

'Llectuals

This is a great spoof of what the OC would be like if it aired on PBS. "Who needs Girls Gone Wild when you could have Girls Gone Wilde?!" Ha - so great. It speaks to the geek in me:

If you care enough to vote, Starbucks cares enough to buy you coffee

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Best of Mad Street Cred

Well, I was reading Nubby Twiglet today, and her "Best of" sidebar inspired me to add one of my own. But I thought I'd write a little something about it too. I've fallen into a habit of mostly posting videos or links with a small bit of commentary, instead of writing actual blog posts. It's due to my lack of free time, but it's really a shame, because I like writing real posts. So in honor of my former real blogging, I've gone ahead and picked some of my favorite past posts on Mad Street Cred. Perhaps you disagree - maybe there are other of my posts that you particularly liked. Leave it in the comments and I'll consider adding it to the list. Or maybe you hate my blog. Regardless, here are my favorite posts of days gone by, with a mini-summary of each:

1) "Waiting on the World...": After the producers of So You Think You Can Dance apologized on-air for the sub-text of choreographer Wade Robson's choreography to John Mayer's "Waiting on the World to Change" (which was meant to be about the war), I wrote this post about patriotism.

2) "starry skies": In this post, I talk about movies like Chasing Amy and why they're so much more realistic than romantic comedies without being depressing like indie films. I also talk a bit about hope, and love, and Meg Ryan.

3) "Why Spell-Check is Dangerous": You all know I'm a grammar nerd. Well this time, a spell-check error led to a crazy, hilarious law getting put into effect. (This post includes a cute poem too.)

4) "My Bottom 10": Pretty self-explanatory - these are 10 things I seriously hate.

5) "Top-ish Ten": I felt bad about being such a cynic after I posted My Bottom 10, so I counteracted it with 10 things I think are fantastic.

6) "Plane Clothes": Two separate instances of people being forced to change their clothes because flight crew deemed their outfits unacceptable for flying. One instance was a girl wearing a halter top. Another was a guy wearing an Arabic t-shirt (which I own).

7) "Supersize My... Report Card?": This post questions the morality, legality, and wisdom behind Seminole Cty, Fla. letting McDonald's advertise on its report cards.

8) "I'm With Stupid?": Is Google (and other associated technology) making us stupid? Find out what I think.

9) "The Porn Myth": This one is about porn.

10) "Reading about the unspeakable in fiction... and the shocking real-life news story about something even more unspeakable": After reading Joyce Carol Oates' book called Rape: A Love Story, I was inspired to write this article about hate crimes.

Those are my favorite 10. Enjoy!

Fall Inspiration

Over at CMYKaboom! my friend Cindy has a series called "Inspiration Machine." I just love it. Her blog rocks, but those posts are my favorite. Well I just read the latest Inspiration Machine - you too can read it here.

My favorite bit of inspiration from the latest post?:

6. Organize a fall cleaning: pack up summer clothes, bring out the heavy blankets and humidifiers, and decorate your home in warm autumn colors. Personal favorite: stocking up on delicious pumpkin candles. Or even better, make your own pumpkin candles, out of real pumpkins!

Right now my apartment is in a strange limbo between summer and fall. I still have tank tops and t-shirts strewn all over the place, but sweaters and jackets are what I'm actually wearing. I put the heat on when I get home, but I also still have fans in my rooms. I finally put out a few fall decorations this weekend, but my summer decorations aren't put away yet.

As someone who absolutely loves fall, it's ridiculous that I haven't embraced its return. Pumpkin candles, cider, blankets - what have I been thinking not making the transition to fall?? So I'll take Cindy's inspiration and hold a fall cleaning this weekend. And you should too!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I'm a Mac strikes back

Genius. Eat it, Microsoft.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Quote of the Day

"The recipe for perpetual ignorance is: be satisfied with your opinions and content with your knowledge." -Elbert Hubbard

Monday, October 27, 2008

Beheading???

Worst thing I've heard in a long time:

"Arrests in Plan to Kill Obama and Black Schoolchildren"

The two men “planned to drive their vehicle as fast as they could toward Obama shooting at him from the windows,” according to an affidavit filed in federal court in Jackson, Tenn...

The assassination was to be the culmination of a “killing spree” that would also single out children at an unnamed, predominately black school, federal officials said. The men talked of “killing 88 people and beheading 14 African-Americans,” according to the affidavit.

The two men each had “very strong views” about Aryan white power and “skinhead” ideology, the federal officials said, and the numbers 88 and 14 have special significance in the white power movement. The number 88 is shorthand for “Heil, Hitler” — H is the eighth letter in the alphabet —and 14 signifies a 14-word mantra among white supremacists: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”


Horrible. Absolutely horrible. I'm disgusted.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Who the hell votes in early elections?

I just found out this year (yeah) that there is even such a thing as an early election. It boggles my mind. So I've started reading anything I can about early elections. This column in Time Magazine that I read today is hands-down the best thing I've read about early elections, and it's hands-down the funniest thing I've read in quite some time. I was getting strange looks on the subway this morning because of my chuckling.

If you need a laugh, enjoy reading good writing, or basically are a human being of any kind, please read Joel Stein's article from Time Magazine, called "My Own Election Exit Poll."

Stein writes about the kinds of people who vote in early elections, based on his extremely unscientific personal exit polling in Ohio. (Hint: About half of the people polled by Stein applied early admission to college.)

My favorite quote from the article: "If all Americans were like early voters, we'd have a perfectly run country that would get beat up by all the other countries."

Once you're finished reading the article (it's short - one page), you can check out the results of his exit polls here. My favorite question he asked was "Did voting early just give Ohio more time to lose your vote?" Followed by "Would you like to vote for an American Idol winner now too?" as a close second. Seriously, it's great - give it a read.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Quotable

"[Obama] told me, when we talked, that Washington's us-versus-them divisions had made it impossible for any president to find solutions to a series of generational challenges, from Iraq to global climate change. 'If voters are similarly polarized and if they're seeing two different realities, a Sean Hannity reality and a Keith Olbermann reality, then we're not going to be able to get done the work we need to get done.'"
- Matt Bai, The New York Times Magazine, 10/19/08

Is your relationship bad for the planet?

As someone who has been in numerous long-distance relationships, I can think of a lot of reasons long-distance couples should break up. Here are a few -

1) There's a better-than-even chance one of them is cheating. Let's just be honest. It seems like everyone cheats these days. Sigh.

2) Talking on the phone is SO annoying. And inevitably, the phone and computer being the only usual means of communication between two people does not make for a close and lasting relationship.

3) There are plenty of fish in the sea, and probably lots right around you who are single. (Yeah, I'm talking about me. Guys, why are you dating people in other states and stuff? Some wonderful people are right here. And available.)

4) It inevitably is turning one or both of them insane. Be it from worrying that you're cheating or just going crazy not being with you. One of the two of you is going insane right at this moment.

5) Which is more realistic - one of you uprooting your life and moving to be with each other, or you eventually breaking up?

There are plenty of other reasons, but those are 5 good ones. Clearly I hate long-distance relationships and think they're the worst.

But there's one reason I hadn't considered. In Slate today, Barron YoungSmith posted an article that talks about the best reason I've heard yet - environmental consciousness. Read the article here: "The environmental case against long-distance relationships."

There are some great comparative facts in here, like that breaking up with your long-distance partner would be about 10 times better for the environment than going vegetarian. And that someone in a long distance relationship's lifestyle is about 6 times worse for the planet than the average gas-guzzling American - and about 10 times worse than someone living in San Francisco. Ouch.

It gets better from there. Read the article to find out more.

And don't forget. Date local.

Turing Tested

Something interesting I learned today, thanks to Ben and Jerzy's blog.

They recently posted the Dilbert cartoon you see below. I didn't understand the joke, because I didn't remember what the Turing test was. Apparently I missed that day in my 15 years of schooling. Here's the cartoon:



Well in case you're an idiot like me and don't remember what the Turing test is, here's a pretty good description from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

I won't attempt to explain it in my own words, since Stanford can do a much better job than I can (and since I'm sure my philosophic friend Ben would not hesitate to correct me if I'm wrong), but read about the Turing test and then come back and read the cartoon.

Funny now, right? Thanks guys!

"An Adman from A to V"

Apparently Ogilvy Athens created a 60th Anniversary tribute to David Ogilvy. As a warning - the credits say, "Caution: The following clip is an amateur effort." And the credits are right.

But there's still something great about it, almost even more so because it's so low-budget. This sentiment behind the video is part of the Ogilvy culture and permeates the halls around Ogilvy NYC, albeit in not quite as "funny" of a way. People my age never knew David Ogilvy, as he died several years ago, but the company does a great job in orientation of making you feel like you do. We're proud to work for this man's company, and his ethics, paradigms and quippy quotes are ingrained in our culture here. It really is David Ogilvy's company, even post mortem.

Anyway, that's the context behind the company and Athens' video. Hopefully you get a laugh, even if it's AT them.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

FAIL

This is a great article from Slate Magazine about the increasing use of the word "FAIL": "Why is everyone saying "fail" all of a sudden?"

I myself am saying "fail" lately. Last weekend, my sister left her music binder in my car, and she needed it the next day. I had to drag it up to my apartment and then lug it in to the city to get it to her. You know what I said to her? "FAIL." (It actually wasn't that big of a deal, but that's a good example of me using the word fail.)

I suspected the popularity was because of FAILBlog.org. According to the article, that's basically true. But read it for yourself to track its popularity. And check out FAILBlog to find out the meaning of FAIL, and its correct usage. (My example above isn't a good one. The picture featured here is a better one.)

The other words the article mentions are: w00t and pwn. Apparently w00t is an acronym for "We Owned the Other Team" (even though the double "o" is actually supposed to be double zero). The ever-mysterious "pwn" is derived from the word "own" and means to dominate or humiliate a rival. Apparently both of these words come from "leetspeak" or "l33tspeak" - a computer hacker language that puts together numbers and symbols to look like letters. Huh. Who knew.

So there's a little pop 3tym0l0gy for you.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Silly old bear...

Colbert should mention this on the Threat-Down. Thanks HowStuffWorks --

"How to Survive a Grizzly Bear Attack"

Also, "15 Tips for Surviving a Bear Encounter"

I figure I'm headed back up to Buffalo this weekend, so it can't hurt to study up on crazy wildlife attacks. Am I right?

Sister Blog

Check out my sister's awesome new blog: The Way That Life Happens. She only has one post so far, but it's really funny. And true. :)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Blast from the Past

Today I remembered my old blog. After going back and checking it out after over a year, I've come to one conclusion. I used to be more fun than I am now. :)

Check it out for yourselves:

Lisa, Interrupted

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Google BlogSearch

This week, Google relaunched its blogsearch:
http://blogsearch.google.com


I never even knew it existed in the first place. But I know it's not bogus, because I searched for Nielsen Ratings, and a post on my other blog came up in the first page of the results!

Read about Google's revamp here. And also check out another similar site I had never heard of, called Techmeme.

Quote of the Day

"My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music."
- Vladimir Nabokov

Blogger "Follow" Feature

A short post to encourage you to start using the "Follow" feature on Blogger. I didn't understand what it was at first, but now I'm using it and it is amazing.

Just go to your dashboard, scroll down to the Reading List section, click the blue "Add" button at the bottom, and paste in the URLs of blogs you want to follow. It doesn't email you when the people post, which is what I thought. Instead, it aggregates blurbs from all your favorite blogs whenever there are new posts - right on your dashboard. It shows a slight excerpt and then a link so you can click to read more. Tonight when I get home, I'll augment this post with a nice screenshot so you can see what it is for yourself.

Regardless, this is a terrific feature. I never have time to go check all my friends' blogs, but this way I can just scroll through and see new posts. It's fantastic. Try it out and follow me!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

NYC becoming home

An article my friend sent to me from the New York Times really touches on how it feels to be a newcomer to New York City, and it also offers some inspiration for those newcomers -- telling them that eventually, New York will start to feel like home. Check out the article here: "City Fits, Eventually, for New Arrivals"

In my own experience, it is tough starting out here in New York, especially coming here alone like I did. It's tough to meet friends, because people can seem closed-off here and because it's nearly impossible to break into someone's already-established group. They either grew up here with the people in their group, or they went to college together, neither of which lends itself to late joiners. Beyond that, it's tough to meet significant others here. People here seem to be either in relationships or not looking for them. On top of all that, there are TONS of people here. It can all make a person feel very lonely.

But after living here for over 2 years now, you learn that it also can be a really inviting place. There are certain things that really unite this city, and the distance from people that you initially feel on, say, the subway actually is a kind of closeness. There's a huge camaraderie with people who live in New York. And it really starts to grow on you. And the more people you meet, the more you love it here. There are a million reasons why I love New York City, but those are only a few. I'm thankful that my sister moved here recently, but I also was loving it before that. What starts out as loneliness eventually is counteracted with all the great things about this place. And now I'm very defensive of my city. Hate to hear haters of it complaining. Come live here for two years and then we'll talk.

So if you're new to the city, take heart. If you were considering moving here, read the article and reconsider. And if you do move here, call me. I've been through it all and have come out the other side. :)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Letterman Lambastes McCain

Posted this on The Televisionista, but thought it deserved some play here as well. As Anthony said, DON'T piss Letterman off. Especially if you're running for president:

Thursday, September 25, 2008

24 torture tactics?

Don't get me wrong. I'm thrilled at the idea of 24 returning, even for just a 2-hour special. But it's such a tease. After the series being postponed because of the writer's strike last season and not airing at all, and now this 2-hour tease ("24: Redemption," set to air Sunday November 23), I really just want to see the actual series as it's meant to be seen.

Programming-wise, it's a good idea to get everyone remembering this show again. But is it really the show, if it's a self-contained 2-hour special? They claim that this sets the stage for what happens in Season 7. But part of what's so great about the show is the hour-to-hour urgency as you race through 24 episodes of craziness. The serial nature of the show is why we love it. Why tease me with 2 hours 2 months before the show actually starts?

Jack Bauer, you are breaking my heart. "There's no time!!!!"

Click to watch the trailer for 24: Redemption.

Debatable?

I'm not quite sure what to think about the debate between McCain and Obama over the debates.

From what I understand, McCain is putting his campaign on hold to go back to Washington and deal with the economic crisis. He wants to put the debates on hold too. Obama says the future president should be able to do more than one thing at a time and he wants to forge ahead with the debates.

What's really going on here? Is McCain panicking about the debates like some pundits are saying? The Daily Show and Colbert Report last night made some very funny jokes about the whole situation. (Watch this "Stephen Suspends the Show" video clip from last night's ep.) Does McCain putting his campaign on hold really accomplish anything except giving him more time to prepare for the debates?

On the other hand, like this article from AdAge says, Obama is a junior senator who doesn't have much on his record in terms of actual legislation. Would it behoove him to go back to Washington and concentrate on this, rather than practicing for a debate? And does he really want to come across as someone more worried about getting elected than about helping the country? Or is he right that you can't just shut down and concentrate on one thing, you have to be able to do it all? Or is that not even the issue?

To be honest, I'm not really sure what I think. I wouldn't want to be either of these guys right now, I'll tell you that. What say you, blog readers? What would you do?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Gmail and Wario

Two great things I found today:

1) GMail tips from the GMail blog. This is great stuff if you use GMail. Check it out here.

2) The Wario Wii YouTube "experience." This is a vid of some cool scenes from the new Wario Wii game. But the coolest part is what happens to your YouTube screen as the video plays. Awesome. Check it out at http://www.youtube.com/experiencewii.

Colbert Quote of the Day

"Like 9.11, no one could have seen this coming. Although, there was that memo entitled 'Banking Industry Determined to Strike Within the US.'" - Stephen Colbert

Icy!

National Geographic's pic of the day today is pretty cool.



Caption:
An expedition member hauls a custom-built ricksha laden with supplies across the desolate Chang Tang alpine steppe in northern Tibet. A group of elite mountaineers put together the expedition to witness births at the remote calving grounds of the elusive chiru, or Tibetan antelope.

The expeditioners chose to use lightweight rickshas instead of four-wheel-drive vehicles, which would get stuck in the mud and spook the chiru with engine noise.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Candystand has a new Mama

Well, according to today's Advertising Age, Wrigley's is selling CandyStand.com. I love that site. Here's hoping they don't get rid of some of my favs, like Gummy Bunny Egg Hunt!! :)
"Wrigley Sells Advergaming Site Candystand"

Friday, September 19, 2008

"I'm a PC"

As an extremely biased Mac user who helps create ads every day for a PC company which is not Microsoft (holla IBM), it's really difficult for me to like this ad. Actually, I really dislike it. BUT, I have to give Microsoft (actually, Crispin Porter ad agency) props for trying this campaign.

But what do you think, as someone less-biased than I am? Do you think this seems smug, whiny, cruel or maybe desperate coming from Goliath? Or do you think this is an important message to get across after all of Apple's attack ads? And probably most importantly, would this make you more likely to go out and buy a PC?

And what about those Seinfeld-Gates ads that were supposedly setting up this campaign? Crispin Porter and Microsoft are claiming the plan has always been to transition directly from those to this. It seems unlikely to me. What do you think?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Journalistic Responsibility?

Ben sent me this link due to my love of Bill Moyers. If you haven't seen it you should check it out -- Moyers gets into it with a producer from The O'Reilly Factor.

Speaking of Bill Moyers, watch some of his speech from the National Conference for Media Reform in June 2008. I love this guy.

And just to throw this in because I can't get enough of it, I've embedded Jon Stewart's interview on Crossfire below. Enjoy. Again. (Hopefully this isn't your first viewing.)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Quote of the Day

"In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress." - John Adams

Palin/Moyers showdown?

YES. Genius. Rob McElvaine at the Huffington Post today raised the best suggestion I've heard in a while -- "Let Bill Moyers Question Palin." It's brilliant.

Why is this brilliant? A number of reasons:

1) I am in love with Bill Moyers. I know it seems weird because he is old, but he's a terrific journalist.

2) As McElvaine says in the article, some of the questions in Charlie Gibson's interview may have stumped Palin, but he didn't actually talk about some of the tougher issues, like Palin's evangelical background.

3) McElvaine's quote about Sean Hannity says it best: "Sarah Palin's second interview is scheduled for Tuesday with Sean Hannity of Fox News. We can hope he will surprise everyone and attempt to act as if Fox were a real news organization by asking her the questions that need to be asked. But who's going to hold her or his breath on that one?"

4) Moyers is a Christian and may venture to actually engage her in a discussion about her beliefs.

It's genius. Please, McCain-Palin campaign, let Bill Moyers interview Sarah Palin. It's the interview we all need to see.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Note from the Universe

I subscribe to the "Notes from the Universe" daily messages (http://www.tut.com), and today's Note I thought was post-worthy:

***
For those who ponder and wonder and wrestle with the idea of what it is they really want, I have an answer that each would wholeheartedly agree with: "HAPPINESS."

And for those who ponder and wonder and wrestle with exactly what will bring them true happiness, I have an answer that each would wholeheartedly disagree with: "Just do something, do anything, as soon as possible, and do it with care."

And I'd add, "Trust me."

Tallyho,
The Universe
***

Sunday, August 17, 2008

MySpace Intervention

This vid from Cracked is funny - the other social networking sites host an intervention for MySpace. Very clever references. (My favorite: "You MADE them be friends with you when they signed up!" -- I also appreciate the references to Alexa and Napster.) Check it out: "Internet Party 2: An Intervention for MySpace"

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

"Should nevers"

This post from my former professor is pretty great. It's about things a man should never do. (One is drink through a straw.) Many of these apply to women as well. Worth a read: "Saw it in a magazine"

Time is my enemy

Why do I not have time for anything anymore???

1) I have no time to blog. When is everyone blogging? Some of my friends write nice long meaningful posts several times a day. When are you writing these, guys? I'm writing this one quickly at work, but I never ever have time to do that (including right now... shh), because I am working every second I am at work. No joke. Don't even have a lunch break. Today I got to work at 7:55 am. If you think I was going to get up earlier than I did in order to blog, you don't know me very well. Then I work work work all day, with no breaks, until usually sometime between 7:30 and 8:30pm. This puts me home around 9:30pm, and then by the time I eat dinner, catch up on my Scrabulous games, etc, it's about time to go to bed. So I ask again, when are you finding time to blog? I'm jealous.

2) I have no time for real food. I'm extremely lucky that my new work has a cafeteria inside the building, so that I can usually grab oatmeal for breakfast and a salad for lunch. But sadly half of the oatmeal and 3/4 of the salad usually sits there staring at me until at 7pm I decide it's getting disgusting-looking and since I never got a chance to eat it I might as well throw it out. Then I go home and it's so late that I don't want to cook, so I eat something ridiculous for dinner, like cereal, or a rice krispie treat, or carrots. Not healthy.

3) I have no time to do laundry. For the reasons stated above. Do you think I'm going to waste my weekends doing laundry after all that? Hardly.

4) I have no time to watch the movies on my summer movie list. Partly because the ones at home right now are The Godfather and All About Eve, which are uninteresting to me. But also because I want to spend any free moment doing something else other than watching an old movie. Playing WoW, for example.

5) I have no time to play WoW. Yes I'm a nerd who likes to play WoW. But my quests are stacking up and my XP is not. Sigh. Speaking of video games, my Game Cube is dusty right now as well.

6) I have no time to be sick, and yet I am.

So I ask you, where can I find more time? I guess I can not talk online as much at night. And get up earlier on the weekends. What has become of me? Any suggestions for where I can find more time??

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Blog negligence

My poor blogs are languishing due to:
- increased working hours as of late (working from 7:30am to 8:30pm some days...)
- my summer movie list watching
- obsession with the books I'm reading
- Scrabulous

This makes me think I should start blogging about my summer movies and my books. (I'll forego blogging about Scrabulous except to say that it's absolutely scrabulous and you should all play.)

I'll also try to blog about all my normal things - I just want to get started up again. Finally I posted something new on my TV blog. Check it out -- it's about a new TV show I'm obsessed with.

Anyway, here I go again making promises and then leaving to get back to work. But I promise starting tonight I'll get back to the blog. I miss it!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Satirical Limits

Well Street Cred readers, what say you:

Is this cover of the New Yorker too offensive, even for satire? Or does it make an important point about how offensive the latest stereotypes about Obama really are. Like they mention in the article, the Bush administration has been satired on the cover of the New Yorker many many times. Is it the racial aspect of this that seems so offensive to us? Does it make a difference that it's an image? That it's on the cover of the New Yorker? Why doesn't it offend us as much when it's in words? What's your take on the satirical attempt - powerful or tasteless?

Read more here: Obama Camp Doesn't Do Satire

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Quotables

"Substitute damn every time you're inclined to write very; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be."
-- Mark Twain

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Quotable

“There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something... Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion." -- E.B. White, "Here is New York"

Discoveries

I'm so excited, I had to share. I just found two things:
1) One of my favorite college profs has a blog. You can find it in my sidebar with my other profs' blogs - it's the one called "If the Six."
2) He had a post about Aimee Mann's new cd. I did not know Aimee Mann had a new cd. This just made my night. :)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Whoa!

Well I'm trying out some new colors for Mad Street Cred. I still saved the old template though, don't worry. I'm going to try this out for a bit and see what I think. More revamps may be coming soon. (But this was the major one.)

Where the hell is Matt?

I love this video. It's partly because he just keeps up that same funny dance through the whole thing. :) Partly because the shots of these places are AMAZING and it makes me want to travel. And mostly because it's really touching to me. Probably a combination of the awesome song and all the people dancing with him around the world. Anyway, check it out:



And if you liked it, check out his website: www.wherethehellismatt.com

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Makeover?

I may be revamping Mad Street Cred soon. It's a little too darkly colored for me and could potentially use some reorganization. Stay tuned.

Sha-la-la

So there's this blog my friend Cindy found called iCiNG (find it at: www.galadarling.com). I thought one of her latest posts, called "Loving A New City: Alone," was worth writing about briefly.

No, I'm not new to the city, and yes I have friends here (and now my sister - yay!), but I still feel pretty lonely most of the time. In this post, she talks about some suggestions to help you meet people. Namely, 1) strike up convos with 5 new people a week, 2) don't just draw into your shell and listen to your iPod all the time on the subway etc - instead make yourself more open, and 3) make time for something other than work stuff - like hobbies or a class or something.

These are all great suggestions (and SO not my jam, but maybe that's the problem). I may actually try this stuff. Here goes nothin. :)

A pig after my own heart

Okay, this is the cutest picture ever. This pig doesn't like mud, so he wears boots every day because he doesn't want to get all dirty. I think I found my soul mate -- and he's a pig. Depressing. :) But this pic is so cute!! To read the article about this cute pig, click here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Firefox 3: Will you please get on board, people

I honestly can't understand why anyone would *voluntarily* use Internet Explorer (aka "IE," aka "worst browser ever"), except that they're incredibly lazy and it's what comes with their PC. But please please know that there are other, better, free options out there. By this I mean Firefox. Please do me a favor. Download Firefox and use it for one full week. Go back to using IE for 10 minutes. Don't you want to punch yourself in the face?? Yeah, I thought so.

Plus, if you want to talk about street cred, check out the updates they're making to Firefox 3, slated to be released today. (Read about them here: "Firefox 3: New front in the browser war.") I haven't downloaded it yet, but all I need to know is that it includes something called the "Awesome bar." Done. Download here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Born to hand-jive

So I'm going to see Grease on Broadway tonight, and I'm pretty stoked. Why, you might ask?

In case you didn't read my posts on The Televisionista about last year's smash hit with musical geeks everywhere, "Grease! You're the One That I Want" on ABC (read them here), I was cheering for Max and Laura all season long (and even voted an embarrassing amount of times to put them on Broadway). Playing casting director makes a trip to see the show irresistible. Plus, I saw their performance on the Tonys on Sunday, and it looks like they haven't let me down.

In the spirit of me seeing Grease tonight, what's your favorite Grease song? I have to admit that I watched this movie for most of my awkward junior high school years, where it undoubtedly instilled in me a questionable set of values (good-girl-turned-skank storylines are every mom's favorite) and a taste for fake '50s cheesey-pop and Australian accents. ("Tell me about it, stud!") For the record, my favorite is tied between "Summer Nights" and "Look At Me I'm Sandra Dee - Reprise."

Monday, June 16, 2008

Dear today: I love and hate you

Instead of keeping it all in my head, I figured I'd tell you some things I love and some things I hate that happened to me today. Maybe you can relate to my human experience:

1) I HATE making a fool of myself to attractive people in elevators. Especially attractive people who I've been bumping into for weeks and who finally introduced themselves to me tonight in a very cute way and all I could muster up was something about being in advertising. I really hate that. You know it happens to you. ::bangs head against wall::

2) I LOVE The Darjeeling Limited. This is a great movie. I saw it in theaters, and today it delivered itself to my mailbox, courtesy of Netflix. It's hilarious and meaningful, and I highly recommend it. It's also directed by Wes Anderson. I mean, come on.

3) I HATE cockroaches. I killed the biggest one I've ever seen in my life outside my sister's apartment this morning and it's been haunting me all day. Absolutely disgusting...

4) I LOVE Dave Eggers. His "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" (Pulitzer Prize finalist - ahem) is one of my favorite books ever, and now I'm reading "You Shall Know our Velocity." This guy has quite the way with words and a lightening-quick wit. Absolutely one of the best modern writers. And I think I'm in love with him.

5) I HATE whatever is beeping outside my apartment for the last week and a half. Seriously, I can't take it any more. What's going to be even worse is if, after all this, the beeping is originating from within my own apartment underneath my fake wood floorboards in some kind of tell-tale heart storyline twist that's going to make me fling myself out my screenless windows.

That's all I'll put you through for tonight. Now I'm going to head off to watch Will & Grace (something else I LOVE). Peace out, haters.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

wonderboys

These two guys (my former profs) have some mad street cred, which means I have some cred by association. (Just go with me on this.)

First, there's Bob Thompson, my favorite professor from Syracuse. I know way more about TV and pop culture than any of you ever will thanks to this man. (Exception: Sarah Pye, who took all the classes with me.) At Ogilvy, I get different trade pubs routed to me from the library, and one of those is AdWeek. Today I opened it up and saw an article by Bobby T (as we like to call him) about the Kennedy-Nixon televised debates (one of his fav topics from classes). Read the article here. I just love this guy - and he writes the way he talks, which makes the article even better. Ah Bobby T. How I adore thee.

Then, there's David Hadju. He mentored and critiqued me through my master's thesis at Syracuse, thereby turning me into a better writer. Last night I was watching the Colbert Report and thinking of turning it off after "the word" - but instead I put the tv on mute and got distracted by my computer. I looked up a few minutes later, and I saw Hadju on tv! He was Colbert's guest last night, to promote his new book about comic books (here it the book in audio form from Amazon... can't find the actual book for some reason). I thought that was super cool. I almost feel like I know Steven Colbert now. Watch the episode below.

What I'm saying here is that I saw two of my profs being famous within the span of 12 hours. This obviously means something for my life, I just haven't figured out what quite yet. :)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I'm with stupid?

I was just reading (skimming) an article online from The Atlantic about how we're becoming a culture of people who skim articles about the internet online. I'm half-kidding - that's not the only thing the article was about. It's called "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" and its author, Nicholas Carr, posits that we're forgetting how to think, thanks to the internet.

Yeah, I know this is not a new argument. Internet-phobes and moms all over the country make similar decrees daily. (Not to mention sociologists from back in the olden times. Weber thought we were all cogs in a machine. The machine in his old German example was the factory conveyor belt. The new machine would be the laptop.)

But Carr's take on it started making me think. It's true that I don't use dictionaries, or maps, or encyclopedias anymore, thanks to the wonder of Google. (You can forget a thesaurus - I don't think I've ever understood how to use those things.) It's also true that I get impatient when any piece of writing is more than a few paragraphs long. Even my own blog posts. I'm probably unique in that I still read lots of books, but I prefer the ones with short chapters and broken-up paragraphs. If the author uses short, quippy sentences, I'm golden.

So it's worth considering. Is Google (and the internet) making me stupid? Is everything that makes my life a whole lot easier in turn making me a whole lot dumber?

I really like to think it's not making me dumber. I'm still a genius, let's be honest. Also, the internet has put a multitude of references at my fingertips. I read so much more online than I ever would have hauled my ass to the library to read. I also have faster and more access to news, and not just from my neighborhood - from around the world. (Shout-out to Al-Jazeera and BBC News!) Also, apart from world news access, the internet keeps me up to date with politics and makes me a more active citizen. Beyond all that, the internet has enabled me to learn new skills that keep my brain alert. (Thanks, HTML for Dummies!) You could also argue that the time the internet saves me in doing mundane tasks leaves me with more time to learn... Although, to be frank, it probably just leaves me with more time to watch a sneezing panda vid on youtube or a DVR'd episode of What Not to Wear. (Shout-out to Stacey and Clinton!)

But I am willing to concede that the internet is probably making me lazier and more impatient. I'd expand on that thought but it would take way too long.

In his article, Carr notes that when the printing press was invented, naysayers thought it would make people dumber. (Books? Seriously? Come on.) So maybe this is all sound and fury. Don't get me wrong. I love the internet. No joke. It's my favorite. I don't know what I ever did without it. But it can't hurt to get reflexive every once in a while up in this electronic piece. Is Google making you stupid in more ways than it's making you smart? Food for thought. Well, actually, bite-sized snacks.