Dear Prudence: “Stop being callous and miserly and go to Costco, you cheapskate”

Wednesday night, late. Chilly, 57 degrees.

So Corey left yesterday afternoon, which meant that I did not sleep well last night, which was unfortunate as I had Olivia today. Lex is working part time at a local pizza parlor, so there was no way that I could call her and tell her that I just wasn’t up to watching the bébé. So I muddled through, took a nap when she took hers, until Lex got off work and picked her up.

This evening I watched a few shows in between dozing, so I knew that I would never be able to get to writing a real post . . . so here’s something you may find entertaining:

I used to read Dear Prudence all of the time, mostly because she’s my kind of advice columnist: snarky when appropriate. So when I saw the description of this one in my inbox, I just had to read the whole thing. So glad that I did.

By

Dear Prudence,
I live in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country, but on one of the more “modest” streets—mostly doctors and lawyers and family business owners. (A few blocks away are billionaires, families with famous last names, media moguls, etc.) I have noticed that on Halloween, what seems like 75 percent of the trick-or-treaters are clearly not from this neighborhood. Kids arrive in overflowing cars from less fortunate areas. I feel this is inappropriate. Halloween isn’t a social service or a charity in which I have to buy candy for less fortunate children. Obviously this makes me feel like a terrible person, because what’s the big deal about making less fortunate kids happy on a holiday? But it just bugs me, because we already pay more than enough taxes toward actual social services. Should Halloween be a neighborhood activity, or is it legitimately a free-for-all in which people hunt down the best candy grounds for their kids?

—Halloween for the 99 Percent

Dear 99,
In the urban neighborhood where I used to live, families who were not from the immediate area would come in fairly large groups to trick-or-treat on our streets, which were safe, well-lit, and full of people overstocked with candy. It was delightful to see the little mermaids, spider-men, ghosts, and the occasional axe murderer excitedly run up and down our front steps, having the time of their lives. So we’d spend an extra $20 to make sure we had enough candy for kids who weren’t as fortunate as ours. There you are, 99, on the impoverished side of Greenwich or Beverly Hills, with the other struggling lawyers, doctors, and business owners. Your whine makes me kind of wish that people from the actual poor side of town come this year not with scary costumes but with real pitchforks. Stop being callous and miserly and go to Costco, you cheapskate, and get enough candy to fill the bags of the kids who come one day a year to marvel at how the 1 percent live.

—Prudie

“Simplicity, carried to the extreme, becomes elegance.” ~ Jon Franklin

cyberspace

Cyberspace

 

“It would appear that we have reached the limits of what it is possible to achieve with computer technology, although one should be careful with such statements as they tend to sound pretty silly in 5 years.” ~ Johann von Neumann (1949)

Had an appointment with my headache doctor this morning. New strategy: Lots of magnesium and no more of that specific class of preventive meds that have been giving me so many negative side effects. Also a new medicine for migraine onset. The doctor gave me a couple of samples (did you know that pharmaceutical companies are doing away with reps and delivering samples to offices? I didn’t either. I love samples). When I showed the samples to Corey, he said, “Haven’t you already tried that one?” I’ve tried so many different ones that I really cannot say whether or not this is a repeat. We’ll see.

Anyway, here’s hoping that this latest combo will work . . . who knows. Got 14 trigger shots from neck down, and then I came home and crashed, really crashed. Probably had the soundest four hours of sleep that I’ve had in the past three weeks. Go figure.

While waiting for the doctor, I skimmed a copy of  Newsweek, and I came across an article that says that Google is losing money on YouTube. Apparently, when ruler of the information highway first acquired YouTube for $1.65 bilion in 2006, Google thought that it was buying a cash cow.

Wrong.
YouTube logo
YouTube, which most everyone knows, is a site that supports user-generated content. This content, which is uploaded to YouTube at something akin to the speed of light, eats up bandwidth (for storage, retrieval, shuttling, etc.). According to a report cited by Slate Magazine, those who know these things (you know, forecasters, them), say that YouTube’s broadband connection will probably runs around $350 to $400 million a year.

Then, Google has to pay for the rights to show licensed material that is submitted by professionals. That’s another $250 million or so. The result is that by the end of 2009, YouTube will have cost Google an estimated $500 million or more, depending. These are all industry estimates as Google isn’t too keen on revealing exactly how much of their $6 billion in profit is being dropped on YouTube.

“I see little commercial potential for the Internet for at least ten years.” ~ Bill Gates (1994)  

Cyberspace greenApparently, Google thought that they would be able to support YouTube with sidebar tile advertising on the site. What they didn’t count on was that advertisers really don’t want to spend thousands and thousands of dollars to have their product placement next to a video of a skateboarding dog (although I don’t really understand why because that dog is awesome (kidding, just kidding)). So the stream of advertising revenue has been, shall we say, running dry, which makes YouTube a big old albatross around Google’s neck.

Granted, Google’s profit neck is pretty hefty, but almost half a billion dollars is a big money pit.

According to the article, YouTube is “the third-biggest site on the Internet, with 426 million monthly visitors who upload 20 hours of video every minute.” That, my friends, is a lot of streaming and a megaton of bandwidth. I’ll bet those former PayPal employees who created YouTube are patting their pockets knowingly. Their sale of YouTube to Google, making the site a subsidiary of Google, garnered the former owners a nice profit, and they got out while the getting was good: before the explosive expansion of YouTube.

“Tell me and I forget.  Teach me and I remember.  Involve me and I learn.” ~ Benjamin Franklin  

You Tube Capture
YouTube Capture of Talking Squirrel

Personally, as you probably know from reading my blog, I love YouTube. I think that it’s one of the best inventions since Twizzlers in a four-pound plastic tub. I mean think about it, YouTube brought politics into the homes of millions of people last year. Because of posts by ordinary people, we were able to see pictures of President Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention that showed angles different from mainstream media.

The political process—something too many Americans ignore—became the subject matter of countless videos uploaded by ordinary people. Thanks to YouTube, videos of the Presidential inauguration became almost instantly available, a bonus for those of us who were unable to attend the historic event.

Not to mention the fact that YouTube is a great source of music videos created by people with computers and an eye for images that pair well with a song. YouTube allows the world access to bands and musicians of which they may have never heard.

YouTube also brings stark images of our fallen warriors coming home, of our dedicated service men and women in the field—things we used to be able to see only on the evening news, and then for only a moment or two.

Granted, YouTube is also a source of complete idiocy: Videos of celebrities making complete fools of themselves, images of people falling off ladders, minutes of nothing but callers to radio shows revealing their ignorance. It’s free entertainment for the masses, and the masses cannot get enough of it.

“The next best thing to knowing something is knowing where to find it.” ~ Samuel Johnson

Internet Cafe aboard cruise ship liberty
Internet Cafe Aboard Cruise Ship Liberty

All of that being said, I have no doubts that the brains at Google will eventually come up with some way to crunch the bandwidth problem so that the profit to loss margin for running YouTube can be reversed.

And YouTube has taken its place in Internet culture: For every silly baby face video, there exists another video of an, as yet, unknown guitar player in his bedroom. Remember the unknown Korean student who played Pachelbel’s Canon on the electric guitar? His video is ranked as the 6th most viewed video in the history of the site. Oh, and he isn’t unknown any more. Initially known as “funtwo,” the extremely talented guitarist was identified as Jeong-Hyun Lim, and his hands are amazing.

Undoubtedly, YouTube has become an integral part of computing for millions of people. Internet Cafes: the new social scene. Cruise one, and chances are good that someone is going to be streaming YouTube. Isn’t cyberspace a wonderful thing?

“This is just the beginning, the beginning of understanding that cyberspace has no limits, no boundaries.” ~ Nicholas Negroponte 

I thought it only fitting to close this post with my latest discovery, which I got from Tweetzy Deetzy on Twitter. Here is Finland’s Apocalyptica doing “Nothing Else Matters.” Awesome and then some.

More later. Peace.

We’re Down to Hours, and the Silliness Begins

Mommies, Don’t Let Your Daughters Grow Up to Be Rebels

Pepé Le Pew Couldn’t Have Done It Better

When I was a child, I loved that French skunk Pepé Le Pew: “Ah, chérie. Where are you? It is I. Pepé. I am looking for you.” And poor Pepé. He could never quite understand why the female cat would run away from him, why people would faint when he came around. And so, when the governator received a call from French President Nicolas Sarkozy, of course she was all aflutter when that accent came through le telefone pour le governor Sarah P.

What she didn’t know was that she was being punked, on air, by the Quebec comedy duo, “The Masked Avengers.” Now I do have to give them props, they gave her several clues along the way that she was not speaking with the real president, aside from the Pepé Le Pew accent. For example, the shooting the animals from the helicopter comment? Or how about his special American advisor Johnny Halladay (French singer)? Too remote? Okay, I’ll let her pass for not knowing the translation for lipstick on a pig (de rouge a levre sur un cochon).

But really, she didn’t get an inkling something was up when he said, “the prime minister of Canada Stef Carse” ? I mean, she’s the one who is always bragging about being next door neighbors with Canada, but she didn’t know Stephen Harper’s name . . . and then the Prime Minister of Quebec versus the Premiere of Quebec (okay, maybe splitting hairs, but she still didn’t recognize that the name was wrong). And come on, did she really think that a head of state was going to tell her that his wife was “hot in bed”? But worse than that, she said to “give her a big hug for me.” Omigawd. You do not tell a head of state to give his wife a big hug from you. Jeez-o-pete. Were you raised in a barn?

Moving on. Marcel the guy with bread under his armpit? Okay, I snorted out loud with that one. To which she replied: “Right, that’s what it’s all about, the middle class and government needing to work for them.” I think that it was at this point that the guys on the other end decided that they probably couldn’t go on much longer or they might pee in their pants.

To which I have to ask, who are her handlers? What numbskull handed her the phone? Don’t they know anything about protocol? Are they for real? Is this aide now looking for other meaningful employment at a nearby McDonald’s as she should be for allowing the Republican VP candidate to be embarrassed for seven minutes on international radio and television, even more than usual? Good golly miss molly.

Who We Are is What We Put on Our Walls

I don’t know if any of you have noticed, but my new masthead is actually an inset of a picture of one of my collages. I kept trying to find the right picture for my masthead, something that would reflect the real me, and then it dawned on me: nothing would reflect me better than a piece of me. So I took a picture of my last bulletin board at work, and I cropped a piece of it. I really wish that I could have put more of the whole picture up there, but there is only so much space allowed for the image, so I took what I could get, and I really wanted to get my ERA NOW pin in the shot.

My offices have always been very, very cluttered, by choice. I have always reasoned that if I am going to spend over one third of my life in some place, then I need to feel comfortable in that place, and so I nest there. I bring in books, mostly reference books, but a few philosophy books, lots and lots of pictures of my family, but also pictures that I have taken of various landscapes, and then my little collection of minutiae that I have built up over the years—an ashtray from Paris, a running gnome with chipped feet, a Waterford business card holder, a clay fish that my son made in Bible school, a German knife letter holder that I traded an old Volkswagen for (long stupid story), and then my collage collection, which has taken many years to amass, and I have to tailor to fit my office size.

I mention all of this because I just read an article by Bill Bishop in “Slate Magazine” that talks about a very interesting theory: Republicans tend to be neater than Democrats. Really? Apparently, Sam Gosling, a psychology professor at the University of Texas, and three other colleagues, have posited In an unpublished paper that liberals and conservatives differ in “two major personality dimensions.” Their paper, which is titled “The Secret Lives of Liberals and Conservatives,” looked for the underlying personality traits that defined left and right.

It seems that we liberals are more open to experiences, and more motivated by the curiosity and diversity of the experiences. Whereas conservatives are conscientious, follow the rules, have self-control, and like order. The professors used college students as their test subjects, and took polls, asked questions, and looked at the students’ rooms for information. Conservative subjects had more cleaning products!

Now there is just one thing wrong with the professors’ study. They didn’t break it down by gender. I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be stereotypical here, but I think that gender, in a study about neatness, would make a difference, regardless of political leanings. For example, when I was in college, my OCD was rampant. I not only cleaned my apartment, I cleaned friends’ apartments. No kidding. One of my best male friends happened to be very, very Republican. He was a complete slob. His apartment was filthy. I cleaned it—when he let me. However, the reverse can also be true. My oldest son and daughter for example, are both liberals, and when my daughter was 16, my father asked if someone had robbed her room (I don’t think that he was kidding). My son, who has since moved on from his neat phase, used to keep his room impeccably clean. You just never know who will be neat and who won’t.

Now as to the other part of their study on carrying over to work life and offices, the professors claim that conservatives’ offices “tended to be more conventional, less stylish, and less comfortable compared with liberal offices. Liberals’ offices were more colorful and contained more CDs and a greater variety of books.” I would have to agree with them on this point. Not just because of my own track record with offices, but because of my observations of other people’s offices. At ODU, for example, in the English Department, most professors’ offices were filled with wonderful, eclectic things. Whereas at the government contractor where I worked in Northern Virginia, it was predominantly rigid, and boring. The most exciting thing in one of my boss’s offices was a Porsche magazine.

And then there was the time in which I was stuck in a cubicle. Omigawd. Just send me into the circles of hell, why don’t you. But, hundreds of push pins and a lot of tape, and voila. It was just like a cubicle covered with as much crap as I could fit into a 10’x10′ space without the walls falling down. And boy did my boss hate it . . .

A Little Ironic Night Music

Found this little tidbit on the web, and while it happened months ago, I just had to share:

Rupert Murdoch must have been gnashing his big teeth. Apparently, the owner of Fox News and The New York Post, has no control over daughter Elisabeth’s guest lists. It seems that since Elisabeth Murdoch left her father’s employ to run her own television production company, Shine, Ltd., she has definitely formed her own alliances, and one of them is Barack Obama.

Perhaps daughter Elisabeth’s fondness for Obama comes from her first marriage to Elkin Kwesi Pianim, who is Ghanian, and with whom she has two children. Murdoch is currently married to public relations guru Matthew Freud, the great-grandson of Sigmund Freud.

Murdoch, a citizen of both the U.S. and Great Britain, is herself known as a shrewd businesswoman. She grew up primarily in New York. In April, she hosted a Notting Hill fundraiser for Barack Obama with co-sponsors that included Gwyneth Paltrow.

Can’t you just imagine daddy Rupert’s delight? Gnash, gnash, snarl, snarl.

Whoo, boy. Two days to go. Be prepared to stand in line. You’ll be part of history, whether you are a neat Republican, or an expressive Democrat.

More later. Peace.

Seen, Heard, and Read

I Couldn’t Make This Stuff Up

What The Governator Has Been Saying Lately:

Today on the Rush Limbaugh Show:

Rush: “Are they giving you pretty much free rein to attack this campaign as you wish?”
Palin: “Rush, I’ve got nothing to lose in this . . .”

Um, what about an election on November 4th?

On Troopergate:

“Well, I’m very very pleased to be cleared of any legal wrongdoing,” Palin said, “any hint of any kind of unethical activity there. Very pleased to be cleared of any of that.”

Was she reading the same report?

What They’re Saying About Her:

“And the only public events that have so far featured his absurd choice of running mate have shown her to be a deceiving and unscrupulous woman utterly unversed in any of the needful political discourses but easily trained to utter preposterous lies and to appeal to the basest element of her audience.” from Christopher Hitchens in Slate.

“Palin’s reaction to the Legislature’s Troopergate report is an embarrassment to Alaskans and the nation. She claims the report ‘vindicates’ her. She said that the investigation found ‘no unlawful or unethical activity on my part.’ Her response is either astoundingly ignorant or downright Orwellian.” from The Anchorage Daily News.

A Man of Many Words:

From Bold New Stump Speech (10/13/08):

“Fight for the ideals and character of a free people. Fight for our children’s future. Fight for justice and opportunity for all. Stand up to defend our country from its enemies. Stand up, stand up, stand up and fight. America is worth fighting for.

Nothing is inevitable here. We never give up. We never quit. We never hide from history. We make history.”

From RNC Acceptance speech:

“Fight with me. Fight with me.

Fight for what’s right for our country.

Fight for the ideals and character of a free people.

Fight for our children’s future.

Fight for justice and opportunity for all.

Stand up to defend our country from its enemies.

Stand up for each other; for beautiful, blessed, bountiful America.

Stand up, stand up, stand up and fight. Nothing is inevitable here. We’re Americans, and we never give up. We never quit. We never hide from history. We make history.”

Spacing and design are everything.

Who is John McCain?

“John McCain has changed. He said, famously, apropos the Republican debacle post-1994, “We came to Washington to change it, and Washington changed us.” This campaign has changed John McCain. It has made him inauthentic. A once-first class temperament has become irascible and snarly; his positions change, and lack coherence.” This from Chris Buckley, son of noted conservative William F. Buckley, founder of The National Review, which just accepted his son’s resignation because of this posting, “Sorry, Dad, I’m Voting for Obama.”

“But the difference in character and temperament has become plainer by the day, and there is no decent way of avoiding the fact. Last week’s so-called town-hall event showed Sen. John McCain to be someone suffering from an increasingly obvious and embarrassing deficit, both cognitive and physical.” also from Christopher Hitchens in Slate.

And the Unkindest Cut of All:

Governor Charlie Crist of Florida, once a McCain supporter, skipped a weekend rally to go to Disney World, apparently because he is uncomfortable with the negative timbre of the campaign: “When I have time to help, I’ll try,” he said. “Everybody runs their campaign the way they think is the best. It is what it is.”