Friday, November 30, 2007

Surfer Garrett Lisi The Simple Theory of Everything

the next einstein? some people think so. he's trying to tie together all the forces of the universe into a simple theory.
"This is an all-or-nothing kind of theory - it's either going to be exactly right, or spectacularly wrong," says Lisi in New Scientist mag.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Airlines Need New Leaders

except for southwest, which manages to do a decent job of getting to and fro without losing too much luggage and the rest of it, airlines are so horrible that the only way they get away with it is because we don't have any choice. if we're traveling a great distance, we have to fly.
here is one CEO's unintended response to a customer who missed a concert because of a flight:
Mr. Baldanza’s response, which seemed to be intended only for a Spirit Airlines employee but subsequently appeared on multiple travel blogs, said: “Please respond, Pasquale, but we owe him nothing as far as I’m concerned. Let him tell the world how bad we are. He’s never flown us before anyway and will be back when we save him a penny.”
read the whole story in the NYT>
what a creep.
but just think if the airlines brought in people who actually cared and who had some management skills. is that an oxymoron? i don't think so. i think companies can be service minded and have the ability to make a profit and cut costs.
it's been five months and i still wait to hear from united airlines, which i wrote to asking for a mere $50 for parking that i had to pay-- the result of nightmare flight that gives me the willies when i think of it.
if they had been kind and didn't botch EVERYTHING i wouldn't have bothered. one thing i'll never do is fly united airlines ever, unless i absolutely have to.
still, it's not as if we have a great choice. all the rest (we might exclude jetblue even though they did a big boo boo) of the airlines are duds too.
i wonder where they get these people who lead the airlines. what is their background? meatpacking?
the industry needs to rethink service and how might create more business for themselves if they didn't treat everyone like hauled garbage.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Buy Nothing for Christmas

this is a quote from a very poor woman who lives in maine-- freezing maine-- and is struggling to survive:

“Trying to buy Christmas presents, that’s the hardest thing,” said Ms. Harmon, who has a mangled finger from her years of snipping sardine heads in a canning factory.

if you don't have the money or are short on cash, DON'T BUY PRESENTS! whatever you do, don't put anything on your credit cards. it's all a ruse to take money from your pockets and boost the economy, an economy that sooner or later is going to have to figure out another way to flourish.
if you want to feel warm and fuzzy, make something, food or a card. give something with meaning.
be WITH your family, if not in person, then in spirit. tell stories. stop buying warm and fuzzy.
your family and friends do NOT want to see you stretch your dollars to buy gifts.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Crafty Handmade Gifts

here are some sites that have reasonably priced crafty, handmade jewelry and stuff. i'll add more as i find them:
Buy Handmade
Lula Ballou
Gnarled Branch
Spectacled Sparrows
Crafty Ass Chick
Working Thread

Guanni Chocolates
Destination Unknown

Bucktooth Mama
Amy Carpenter

Daisy Janie
Lucky Accessories
Stitch Pixie
ZN Creative Arts
Peggy Li
Invisible Children
Snail Mail Creations
Indie Finds
Cupcake Shop
Indy Collective
One Good Bumblebee
Three Paper Pigs
Sugar Lily
Craft Revolution
The Storque

A Gesture With Meaning

marine matt morgan says forget about sending text messages to the troops. the texts don't get to any soldier but rather to a website that soldiers have to peruse, a website that not many soldiers know about.
instead, take action, he says. write a letter, draw a picture.
this is an excerpt from npr:
As a Marine Corps officer stationed in Baghdad, I've always appreciated
getting letters while deployed abroad.
I recently received a letter from a second-grader named Kaitlyn. She had clearly worked very hard on the letter — there were eraser marks where a lowercase E had nearly gotten the better of her, and the I's were dotted by heavy black circles — but what touched me were Kaitlyn's simple questions.
What do you like to do when you're not fighting?
Do you miss your family? Will you ever come home?
I answered her questions as well as I could, but what Kaitlyn will never know is that the thing I appreciated most about her letter was what was missing from it. She did not have a corporate sponsor or Web site to go to for "more information" — just a little hand-drawn picture of the American flag.
Unfortunately, efforts such as Kaitlyn's are becoming the exception.
You see, if you happen to be watching professional football this Thanksgiving, you will probably notice advertisements promoting the newest way to send your thanks to the troops. Just pull out your cell phone and text a message. Patriotism has never been so easy.
The catch the rest at npr. see kaitlyn's drawing.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

New Musicians Naive to Music History

that's the argument that this nyt columnist makes. that's what steven van zandt, of the bruce springsteen's e street band, said.
i don't think any musician worth his or her salt is oblivious to music history. the argument is bogus. music is more segmented and that's good.
but i do like the van zandt's idea of teaching music history in school. who wouldn't enjoy that class? here's an excerpt:

He (van zandt) argues that if the Rolling Stones came along now, they wouldn’t be able to get mass airtime because there is no broadcast vehicle for all-purpose rock.
And he says that most young musicians don’t know the roots and traditions of
their music. They don’t have broad musical vocabularies to draw on when they are
writing songs.

As a result, much of their music (and here I’m bowdlerizing
his language) stinks.

He describes a musical culture that has lost touch with its common roots. And as he speaks, I hear the echoes of thousands of other interviews concerning dozens of other spheres.

It seems that whatever story I cover, people are anxious about fragmentation and longing for cohesion. This is the driving fear behind the inequality and immigration debates, behind worries of polarization and behind the entire Obama candidacy.
If you go to marketing conferences, you realize we really are in the era of the long tail. In any given industry, companies are dividing the marketplace into narrower and more segmented lifestyle niches.

Van Zandt has a way to counter all this, at least where music is concerned. He’s drawn up a high school music curriculum that tells American history through music. It would introduce students to Muddy Waters, the Mississippi Sheiks, Bob Dylan and the Allman Brothers. He’s trying to use music to motivate and engage students, but most of all, he is trying to establish a canon, a common tradition that reminds students that they are inheritors of a long conversation.

And Van Zandt is doing something that isgoing to be increasingly necessary for foundations and civic groups. We live in an age in which the technological and commercial momentum drives fragmentation. It’s going to be necessary to set up countervailing forces — institutions that span social, class and ethnic lines.
Music used to do this. Not so much anymore.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Affluent Go Democratic

from the wall street journal: wealthy, and typically republican businessmen, are going democrat -- they need to buy the party of the moment.
republicans need to "rebrand?"
i don't think it matters who the president is. it's the non-affluent who have the power to make change, if we're talking majority, but that's not going to happen because everyone aspires to be rich!
from the WSJ:

Scott Reed, who managed Republican Bob Dole's 1996 presidential campaign, sees three overlapping problems for Republicans among business leaders and high-income voters. One is desire to go with the winning side at a time when Democrats have captured Congress; a second is loss of confidence in the Bush administration's competence; and a third is "a sense that the leadership of the Republican Party is too beholden to a small group of self-appointed social conservative leaders."

In 2008, Mr. Reed adds, "Republicans have to go back to the basics and use the new presidential nominee to rebrand the entire party."

Death Penalty: Incentive or Revenge?

economists say the death penalty serves as an incentive to not kill. i don't think anyone who is about to kill another human being, or considering whacking somebody, sits down and says, well, if i do this i could get the death penalty. what does economics have to do with sociology or psychology?
the death penalty doesn't deter, it's revenge, an eye for an eye. plain and simple. it also means that at least one innocent person will wrongly be on death row because as we know, innocent people have already been put to death.
this from the NYT:
To economists, it is obvious that if the cost of an activity rises, the amount of the activity will drop.

“To say anything else is to brand yourself an imbecile,” said Professor Wolfers, an author of the Stanford Law Review article criticizing the death penalty studies. To many economists, then, it follows inexorably that there will be fewer murders as the likelihood of execution rises.

“I am definitely against the death penalty on lots of different grounds,” said Joanna Shepherd, a law professor at Emory with a doctorate in economics who wrote or contributed to several studies. “But I do believe that people respond to incentives.”
But not everyone agrees that potential murderers know enough or can think clearly
enough to make rational calculations. And the chances of being caught, convicted, sentenced to death and executed are in any event quite remote. Only about one in 300 homicides results in an execution.

“I honestly think it’s a distraction,” Professor Wolfers said. “The debate here is over whether we kill 60 guys or not. The food stamps program is much more important.”

Friday, November 16, 2007

UNLV Redeemed

so it wasn't a UNLV student asking a stupid question about clinton's preference for diamonds or pearls, it was CNN being stupid. turns out the student is really smart and wanted to ask a yucca mountain question.
this by way of

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Women's Murder Club

my new bestest show.
can't wait for medium
so tired of grey's anatomy. yech.
heroes still good.

Monday, November 05, 2007

U.S. Headed for Financial Ruins

you only need to look as far as your latest charge on that credit card. here's a great explainer.