Thursday, July 28, 2005

Lots o' Links!

I have a whole new slew of links added today! A lot of new friends' blogs, some funny stuff and some just plain fun stuff!

First the friends:

Roxi's HomeStyle: A web page from my favorite cognitive scientist in training (and yes I actually do know more than one).

Behind Blue Eyes: A blog written by Tami, one of my co-workers at Universal Digital.

Next the funny:

The Filthy Critic: Bar none, my favorite movie critic of all time. He makes Jay Sherman's movie reviews sound like James Lipton's actor interviews.

I Don't Like You In That Way: A lot like The at the expense of celebrity egos.

Finally the fun:

Letterboxing North America: A little nerdy but something that I was interested in as soon as I heard about it a few years ago. Roxi and I have gotten into searching for boxes and we've actually placed our own (The Ragin' Cajun Letterbox) and plan on placing a few more!

Enjoy the links...I do! Thanks for reading and feel free to give me any feedback.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Who Else Isn't Surprised By The Payola Story?

I know this post is a little belated, but being "in the music industry" so to speak, I felt it important to at least say my piece about this Sony Payola scandal.

First of all, I am not surprised in the least by these payoffs. Seriously, I mean, who is really listening to J-Lo and Good Charlotte anyway except for a bunch of impressionable kids who buy whatever is playing most on the radio?

What really has me wondering is why did they do it? If Sony really felt the need to pay money to make an "artist" successful, why did they even invest any money in said "artist" in the first place? Don't get me wrong, I know that this is a business, but what was the sense in signing these people and spending so much money on producing and promoting a record if they had to spend even more to get it played? There is a difference between marketing and bribery. I just can't imagine this having that great of a monetary return.

But then again, I am a music purist who naively thinks that talent should separate the successful from the mediocre and worse. It is a sad state of affairs indeed when a company won't cut its losses and actually look for real talent. Why is there this inexplicable need to reward the untalented? If anyone knows, please comment because I am too young to be jaded.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Telemarketing A-Holes...

How sick is this? Imagine: your father or mother has just passed away from a long, painful illness. They lived with you because the cost of a caretaker was prohibitively high. You have the funeral and are still grieving with your family. A month later you're feeling a little better when the phone rings. It's a telemarketer trying to sell your deceased parent long distance service. It causes you to breakdown and grieve again. So the heroes at the Direct Marketing Association have introduced the Deceased Do Not Call List. It is designed to "help families dealing with the loss of a loved one." It works just like the government's Do Not Call list. Oh yeah, except that it costs $1 to register! Telemarketing companies are officially worse than cancer at this point. So join me in saying "F You!" to these companies by simply listing your deceased family member on the free government Do Not Call list.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Gotta Love Google!

I went to Google this morning to do a quick search and, as is usually the case when I surf the web, I got very sidetracked. In fact I still am because as soon as I saw what I saw, I felt I must share it with the world or whomever reads this blog.

As most people are familiar, Google will often change their logo to incorporate important events of the specific date. Well today, the Google logo has replaced the second "O" with the moon with a lunar lander sitting atop it and being viewed by "moon men" from atop the first "O." I clicked the logo to find out more and was directed to the Google Moon page.

This is Google's commemoration of the landing of Apollo 11 on the moon on July 20, 1969. Google has expanded the very cool Google Maps to include the surface of the moon highlighting the area where the Apollo missions landed. Each landing site has a marker which lists the name of the mission, the date of the landing and the crew. Plus you get a little surprise if you zoom to the highest level of detail. Enjoy!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Please Hollywood, Stop the Madness!!!!

The World Entertainment News Network is reporting that Drew Barrymore and Steven Spielberg are in talks to make a sequel to E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Story details are vague, but it revolves around E.T. returning to Earth in order to resurrect the careers of a has-been child actress and a deranged director who can't stop making cliche-heavy science fiction blockbusters. Oh yeah, and there won't be any guns in the movie, only walkie-talkies.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

New Pixies Album!

Lead Pixie Frank Black confirmed that the reformed band will record its first new album in 14 years! This is very exciting to me although most reunion vanity projects end up being pretty mediocre at best. However, Black went on to say that "[the band] would be satisfied if it played like our other records, never chart-topping but always in print." I for one believe that they still "have it" after getting to witness their Coachella show in 2004 (scroll down to May 5 entry in link for complete set information).

Thursday, July 14, 2005

That must have been some kind of "tuck job!"

Sports Illustrated is reporting that a Zimbabwean athlete has been found guilty of competing as a woman and will serve three-and-a-half years in jail.
Samukeliso Sithole -- a triple jumper and runner who competed as a woman at several international sports events -- was convicted on charges of impersonation and offending the dignity of a woman athlete who undressed in his presence, unaware he was a man.
What I find hardest to believe is that he was able to keep his "secret" in place while competing in the triple jump!

No word yet on whether he will be banned from athletic competition including the Olympic Games. However, it is unlikely that he will be banned from the Crying Games.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

If there were any question about Islamic fundamentalism...

I read two articles today that really irritated me. The first came from the Daily Telegraph and concerns the BBC's omission of the word "terrorism" from reports on the London bombings.

The BBC's guidelines state that its credibility is undermined by the "careless use of words which carry emotional or value judgments".

Consequently, "the word 'terrorist' itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding" and its use should be "avoided", the guidelines say.

Understanding? If there were any question about understanding the motivations of these or any other terrorist attacks, look no further than the second story that irritated me today. It concerns the man "suspected" of killing Theo Van Gogh last year. I say "suspect" because not only did he commit the murder in view of over 50 witnesses, he admitted in court that he did it and went on to say why.
"I take complete responsibility for my actions. I acted purely in the name of my religion," 27-year-old Dutch-Moroccan national Mohammed Bouyeri told the court in Amsterdam on the final day of his trial.
At the time of his murder, Van Gogh had recently released the film Submission which deals with culturally accepted violence against women in the Muslim world.

"I can assure you that one day, should I be set free, I would do exactly the same, exactly the same," he said, speaking slowly in sometimes halted Dutch.

He said he felt an obligation to Van Gogh's mother Anneke, present in court, to speak, but offered no sympathy.

"I have to admit I do not feel for you, I do not feel your pain, I cannot -- I don't know what it is like to lose a child," he said as Van Gogh's family and friends looked on.

"I cannot feel for you ... because I believe you are an infidel," he added.

"I acted out of conviction -- not because I hated your son."

Van Gogh's mother listened quietly as Bouyeri, wearing a Palestinian black and white headscarf, spoke with a hint of admiration for her son.

"I cannot accuse your son of hypocrisy because he was not a hypocrite. He said things out of conviction," Bouyeri said of Van Gogh.

Is there really any question that there are fundamentalists in the Islamic world that would like nothing more than to destroy our way of life? Why are world news outlets like the BBC afraid to admit it? Is it because they are afraid of offending the archaic and medieval Muslim sentiments that women are second- or third-class citizens? How many more terrorist attacks will it take for people to realize that there really is a war going on and our side is not taking it seriously?

Thankfully, the BBC came to its senses and at least took the step of qualifying the bombings in London as terrorist activities. This is serious business and people need to treat it as such or it may come back to haunt us.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Paul McCartney is a Prick

First off let me state that I love the Beatles and think that all the attention that is lavished upon their music is totally deserved. They didn't create the genre but they certainly took part in some major innovations with the help of their producer George Martin. That being said, Paul McCartney has spent the better part of his post-Beatles career slowly revising the history of the band to emphasize his importance over the contributions of John, George and Ringo.

In the recent Live 8 concerts, there was apparently plenty of ego to go around (strange since it was a charitable event, no?) but Paul may have taken the cake with his London show opening performance of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." Rather than reunite with Ringo Starr, the only other surviving Beatle, Paul chose to perform the song with the members of U2, a band whose lead singer has his own issues with the need for attention. Well Ringo has spoken and he is pissed.

It won't really matter much because Paul will erase any post-Beatles record of Ringo when he leaves this world. It's quite a sad state of affairs really.

Cool News About Saturn Not Involving A Crashing Space Probe

On Thursday, NASA's Cassini space probe will be passing a mere 100 miles by a cold rock named Enceladus orbiting Saturn. It will of course be taking pictures. The most interstice thing about this moon is that it might be the most likely place in our solar system, other than Earth, that has liquid water present on it's surface. It is extremely cold but due to the theory that ammonia is mixed with the water, the freezing point is greatly reduced and can thus remain in a liquid form. However, what I think is far more interesting about the whole theory is that the researchers believe that "below the moon's crust lies a vast reservoir of liquid that periodically erupts across the surface like an icy geyser or volcano." Ice volcanoes! Now that is cool!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Credit Bureaus Are Horrible

This article is about a week old now but I just read it yesterday and it is infuriating! It is about Equifax's CEO and his opposition to federal legislation that allows consumers to see their credit reports once a year for free.
CEO Thomas Chapman called the legislation unconstitutional and un-American because it cuts into profits that Equifax and two rival credit reporting agencies -- Experian and TransUnion -- earn from selling credit reports and monitoring services. Equifax maintains credit data on 220 million Americans. The company earned $1.27 billion in revenue last year.
Un-American? Do you know what I think is un-American? The notion that three companies have the personal information of most Americans and we have to pay them $30 every time we want to access it! That is un-American!

On top of that, the information is riddled with errors as was evident the one and only time I did a credit check last year. Experian had me confused with my father and even grandfather in some cases. There were inaccurate addresses and even social security numbers associated with my credit report. If these agencies can't do their sole job of monitoring and keep people's information accurate and correct, then why bother even trying to protect ourselves from identity theft?
Chapman said that viewing a credit report once a year wouldn't protect consumers against fraud.

"That's like turning on the smoke alarm once a year," he said.

I think that we need to police the police in this case. If they are so concerned with people getting access to their credit histories once a year, then maybe there really is a problem. People would actually get to see how many errors there are on them not including any real fraud! Shouldn't we be allowed to make sure that the people that are in control of our financial existence are keeping our information correctly so that those of us who are trying hard to keep good credit can get that first home some day? Then again, that might be a moot point since any city government can take that away from you for other private economic developers to make a buck.