Saturday, March 31, 2007

Tortured genius? Moi?

You Are 86% Tortured Genius

You totally fit the profile of a tortured genius. You're uniquely brilliant - and completely misunderstood.
Not like you really want anyone to understand you anyway. You're pretty happy being an island.

Well, duh.

Thanks to Malnurtured Snay for the link.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Excuses, excuses

I saw this on Above The Law a couple weeks ago, and meant to post it.

So, next time you don't want to finish your work, just get drunk and cite to this case.

Two Movies

Since TV has been showing pretty much nothing but repeats and basketball, I got a chance to watch two movies this week -- Blood Diamond and Casino Royale.

My capsule reviews:

Blood Diamond: Yet another movie about the tragedies being perpetuated in Africa -- different country, same story. But more importantly, it's Leonardo DeCaprio as yet another flawed-yet-honorable romantic leading man type -- which I could do without.

I think that's because every time I look at him, I think about Growing Pains, and how he played second banana to this guy.

Still, it's a very very good movie, and it held my attention for the entire two hours. And, surprisingly, I thought Leo did a good job, and was deserving of his Oscar nomination.

Casino Royale: Let me start out by saying I thought this was a fantastic action movie, and Daniel Craig was absolutely brilliant. He was charismatic and convincing. And, boy oh boy, does he have a killer body.

But . . . other than the chase in the first few minutes, it just did not have that "Bond" vibe. It was too earnest. There was very little witty double-entendre-filled banter. There were no gadgets. And it was, in part, gasp! a love story.

So, I think Daniel Craig makes a fine 007. I'm just hoping that next time, it will be in an actual Bond movie.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Let this be a tax season warning

Shocker of shockers! Richard Hatch thinks prison sucks. Maybe he should have thought of that before he decided to not pay his taxes.

World traveller?

Only 5%? I've got to get out more.

I. Am. So. Embarrassed.

Dara, Dara, Dara -- what were you thinking? Just because it's a balmy 80 degrees outside doesn't mean you -- of all people -- should wear a skirt. Or go outdoors.

But, no, you chose to disregard conventional wisdom by both wearing a skirt AND going outdoors. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Did I forget to mention that it was breezy?

So, perhaps you should have paid attention -- remembering that you were, indeed, wearing a skirt -- and tried to hold it down. Otherwise, everyone standing nearby might have gotten a brief glimpse of your underwear.

Monday, March 26, 2007


I've had this picture in every office that I've ever had. If I hadn't moved offices so recently, I probably would have forgotten it was there.

We were all so very young, even my Dad. But especially Remy. He was just a puppy here.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Remy Martin: January 11, 1994 - March 24, 2007

My dog died this morning. My mom called a little while ago to tell me. She cried. I cried. Then my sister called me, and she cried too.

The dog was born on January 11, 1994. We adopted him in March.

For years and years and years, my mom, my siblings, and I wanted a dog, but my dad kept refusing, purportedly because he was allergic. But then my dad was doing consulting work which kept him out of town a lot. And I left for college. And my sister was volunteering at the humane society.

My parents wouldn't let her keep a kitten that she had fostered. So, one day, she took my mom into the humane society, and showed her this little ten-week-old puppy. Part lab, part beagle, part shepherd, part god-knows-what. My mother walked in and took one look at this mutt and fell in love, even though his ears didn't even match.

So that March, they took him home. He was roughly the size of one of the ceramic tiles in the kitchen, and he cried all the time. My mother thought he needed a fancy name, so he became "Remy Martin."

When he was a puppy, he had boundless energy. He would run so fast on the tile floor that he couldn't slow down in time. To stop, he'd jump in the air, go up over the couch, hit the wall, and turn around to land. He'd hear the birds chirping and kids playing outside, and would take off running again.

Back then, he'd tirelessly chase the old soccer ball that he stole from my sister around the house. He knew the difference between "green toy" and "soccer ball," and if you asked nicely, he'd show you which one is his favorite. He'd carry it everywhere, and cry when he couldn't find it. Eventually, though, like everything else, it had to be replaced.

Remy loved almost everyone. But he worshiped my dad. He followed my dad around the house like he was his shadow. When my dad wasn't in the room, and you'd ask "Remy, where's Daddy?" he'd cry. And my dad -- who didn't even want the dog in the first place -- talked to him like he was just another one of the kids. At night he'd bellow, "Whoever wants to go out for a walk needs to go get his leash," and the dog would jump up, wag his tail, and run towards the garage.

My dad saved the best food for the dog. Sometimes, he'd even cook things for him.

Fast forward thirteen years, and Remy somehow became ancient. He'd struggle to find the energy to kick the soccer ball across the room to my father. But, when you asked -- if he heard you -- he'd still tell you that it was his favorite.

He was sick on and off for the last several years. Each time, my mother would be in tears, worrying that it might be the end -- but until today, he came back.

I was just looking through some of the old pictures and videos of him. They don't do him justice. He was the best dog -- the smartest and sweetest dog -- ever.

Need proof?

We'll miss you, Remy.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Like Seven, only without all the annoying Gwyneth

Did you read the story where some guy sent this girl her dog's severed head in a box, allegedly because he harbored romantic feelings for her.

Wow. That's really, really mean. Horrible, even.

I'm sure she'll be scarred for life.

But mostly, what it is is stupid. I mean, if you like a girl, don't kill her dog. It may not be rule number one, but it's probably somewhere near the top of the list.

But . . .

. . . does anyone else think it's peculiar that, at 17, she's saying that her new puppy will "be my best friend."

So, did this guy kill the dog because he viewed it as a rival for her attention? Or did he think that by killing the dog, she would be devastated, and he could provide her with a shoulder to cry on?

Sheesh. He should have just bought her flowers, or candy. Maybe taken her to a movie. But killing her pet? Seems like a pretty bad move if he wanted to get lucky.


Don't forget to vote for me in the Best DC Blog poll!

Send in the clowns, not the elephants

Last night, on my way home from work, I walked by the Verizon Center, forgetting that the circus was in town.

Sweet actually went, but I just walked right on by, eager to catch my train home. But on my way, I was offered brochures from about 10 different people, innocently saying, "Here's some free information about the circus."

Information? Yeah, right. It was PETA propaganda.

Now, whether this is even true is up for debate. But what I do know for sure is that there are better ways for PETA to get their message across than to hand out these leaflets to people who have already spent their hard earned money to take their kids to an evening of entertainment. It's simply too late to be effective at that point.

Mostly, though, I feel bad for the kids, who are so excited about the circus, and wind up having their spirits crushed by stories of tortured elephants.

When I was a kid -- around nine or ten -- I went to see the circus at Madison Square Garden. We had box seats, so I was a billion miles away from the action, which I had to watch through binoculars. But mostly, what I remember involved clowns, acrobats, and trapeeze artists. The animals were, at best, secondary.

But, at that age, I would have read the leaflet -- and I would have had nightmares.


Don't forget to vote for me in the Best DC Blog poll!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Everything sounds better with an English accent

You know what I really needed today? Ye Olde Official Shakespearean Insult Kit.

Thank to Tom.


And don't forget to vote for me in the Best DC Blog poll!

Save Knut! He's the cutest thing ever!

If you think the Berlin Zoo should kill this baby polar bear now, after everything he's been through, you have no soul.


Don't forget to vote for me in the Best DC Blog poll!

Well, I made the finals . . .

. . . of this week's Best DC Blog contest.

I'm still not sure how. All I know is that now I feel kinda like what Patti Smith wrote about getting into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: "On the eve of this event I asked myself many questions. Should an artist working within the revolutionary landscape . . . accept laurels from an institution? Should laurels be offered? Am I a worthy recipient?"

Frankly, I'm not sure either, Patti. But I hope folks vote for me anyway.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

It's not Steve Martin with a giant prosthetic nose, but it's close

You know the world is in the shitter when there's such a thing as an online-dating coach -- and The New York Times is writing about it.

Businesses like, and say they will help turn a stale personal profile for dating Web sites into eloquent and catchy advertisements, writing the words for you. They will even help clients sift through prospective dates and start an initial e-mail conversation. Depending on the company and the services used, prices may range from $39 to $2,000.


Mr. Katz said his company has helped thousands of people since it began five years ago. It offers several packages, starting at $49 for a 20-minute consultation and a line-by-line critique of a profile. For $129 to $199, people fill out a questionnaire and spend a half-hour on the phone with a freelance writer, who writes two essays for them. For $1,500, the company interviews clients, writes their profiles, takes professional photographs and coaches them via phone and e-mail about online dating. For $1,000 a month, he coaches them about dating and relationships in general.

Up to $2,000 to ghostwrite your profile and teach you how to (a) pick a flattering picture and (b) say something witty? Let me make it simple for you: Dude, if you haven't learned how to talk to people of the opposite sex by now -- online or not -- a dating coach ain't gonna help much.

But wait -- I'll do it for free! My tips, in order:

  • Shower and put on clean clothing. Maybe even comb your hair.
  • Walk up to someone you don't find hideously unattractive.
  • Say "hi."
  • Engage in polite conversation.

And if it doesn't work, try again.

In Memoriam

This blog will take a moment of silence for Larry 'Bud' Melman.

Not your typical celebrity

Woody Harrelson's dad killed a federal judge? As a hit man for a drug dealer?

Who knew?

Only in D.C.

I already told this to several people, but last Friday, on Metro, I saw a woman wearing Burberry rain boots while carrying a Coach umbrella, a Gucci purse, and a Harrod's tote bag.

All of the above were distinguished by their brand's signature pattern.

My reactions, in order:
1) What are the odds that none of them are knock-offs?
2) Mixing so many status-y labels like that is so de classe -- and so D.C..
3) Shut up, Dara -- your rain boots came from Target.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Most Awesome Supreme Court Case Ever

Yesterday, Kenneth Starr argued the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case in front of the Supreme Court.

Wikipedia has a good summary of the facts:
Morse v. Frederick is a First Amendment student free speech case argued before the Supreme Court of the United States on March 19, 2007.


In January 2002, students were released from Juneau-Douglas High School to watch the Olympic torch pass by. Frederick, running late that day, did not report to school before joining some friends on a sidewalk across the street. Frederick and his friends waited for the television cameras so they could unfurl a banner reading "Bong Hits 4 Jesus." When they displayed the banner, then-principal Deborah Morse ran across the street and seized it.

Morse initially suspended Joseph Frederick for five days for violating the school district's anti-drug policy, but increased the suspension to 10 days after he refused to give the names of his fellow participants and quoted Thomas Jefferson on free speech. Frederick administratively appealed his suspension to the Superintendent, who denied his appeal but limited it to the time Frederick had already spent out of school prior to his appeal to the Superintendent (eight days). Frederick then appealed to the Juneau School Board, which upheld the suspension on March 19, 2002. On April 25, 2002, Frederick filed a §1983 lawsuit against Morse and the school board in the United States District Court for the District of Alaska claiming they violated his federal and state constitutional rights to free speech.

The district court ruled in favor of the School Board and Deborah Morse. Frederick v. Morse, 2003 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27270 (D. Alaska 2003).

The Ninth Circuit reversed the District Court and granted the case to Frederick. Despite deciding that the incident took place during a school event, the court held that Frederick's student speech rights were violated. The unanimous panel decision was written by Judge Andrew Kleinfeld. Morse v. Frederick, 439 F.3d 1114 (2006).

The school board asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Ninth Circuit's decision. On December 1, 2006, the Supreme Court agreed to do so, and heard oral arguments on March 19, 2007. The docket number is 06-278.

MSNBC explains how the Justices are reacting to this divisive issue:
“I thought we wanted our schools to teach something, including something besides just basic elements, including the character formation and not to use drugs,” Chief Justice John Roberts said Monday.


“It sounds like just a kid’s provocative statement to me,” Justice David Souter said.

But at least they all agree on one thing: The Bush administration gets it wrong. As usual:
Starr, joined by the Bush administration, also asked the court to adopt a broad rule that could essentially give public schools the right to clamp down on any speech with which they disagree. That argument did not appear to have widespread support among the justices.

But this is the interesting part:

Conservative groups that often are allied with the administration are backing Frederick out of concern that a ruling for Morse would let schools clamp down on religious expression, including speech that might oppose homosexuality or abortion.

The outcome also could stray from the conservative-liberal split that often characterizes controversial cases.

Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote several opinions in favor of student speech rights while a federal appeals court judge, seemed more concerned by the administration’s broad argument in favor of schools than did his fellow conservatives.

“I find that a very, a very disturbing argument,” Alito told Justice Department lawyer Edwin Kneedler, “because schools have ... defined their educational mission so broadly that they can suppress all sorts of political speech and speech expressing fundamental values of the students, under the banner of getting rid of speech that’s inconsistent with educational missions.”

I. Love. This. Case.

What I'm listening to in my office

Warning: This might be the lamest thing I've ever written, but I feel the need to share.

I am kinda liking the new radio station that replaced 94.7. (The Arrow? The Globe? WTF?) Right now, they're playing The Church's "Under The Milky Way Tonight," which has got to be one of the awesomest songs ever. They played The Raconteurs earlier.

Now it's John Lennon, "Watching the Wheels," which doesn't complely suck.

This is way better than listening to 107.3, which plays like the same 15 songs over and over again, ad nauseam.

And now: The Killers. This doesn't suck.

But it would be better if they played The Wreckers.

More free coffee -- well, iced coffee, if you're going to be technical

Did you miss the free Starbucks last week? Well this may be even better: Free iced coffee at Dunkin' Donuts tomorrow, to celebrate the first day of spring.

I think this is great -- especially since Dunkin' Donuts coffee is better than Starbucks.

I can say that with impugnity, since I grew up in a part of New Jersey where you can give people directions based on the number of Dunkin' Donuts they drive by. Plus, it's cheaper. And finally, my sister, a self-proclaimed coffee expert, says it's the best. If nothing else, you should trust my sister.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Kitchen disaster

I don't have a lot of time to cook, but when I do, I'm pretty good at it. I'm not a gourmet chef by any stretch of the imagination -- since, on the most part, I'm too lazy to try all that hard, and I'm not particularly experimental about it -- but I'm pretty okay. I tend to cook on Sundays, and I generally limit it to things that (1) I know that I like to eat;* (2) don't make a tremendous mess; and (3) reheat pretty well for later in the week.

For example, yesterday I made poached salmon in white wine with whole wheat cheese tortellini. It yielded three portions, so I put two away in the fridge, in those nifty little square Gladware containers.

This evening, I came home from work and went to go reheat one of the portions. One minute in, it exploded all over my microwave.

Flakes of Salmon.

All. Over. The. Microwave.

So, being a tough and resilient -- and hungry -- girl, I decided to try again with the second portion. First, I cleaned the microwave using those handy-dandy little Clorox antibacterial kitchen wipes. Then I put the container in the microwave for round two. I shortened the time, reduced the heat setting, placed the cover ever-so-gently on top of the container at an angle so as to give it room to vent.

Everything seemed to be going so well. I was standing there, watching the timer count down -- 5, 4, 3, 2 . . . and then it exploded again. All over the microwave, take two.

Ultimately, I managed to rescue most of the tortellini, and ate them for dinner. Every once in a while, I'd find a small chunk of salmon.

So, that's me: Good cook, piss-poor microwaver. I should stick to bagels and peanut butter sandwiches.

*I do not, however, cook steak. I've tried on many an occasion, and no matter what I do, it's not as good as in a restaurant. So I'll leave that to the professionals.


This is my 1,000th post.

Clearly, I need a hobby.

They like me, they really like me?

I have the distinct and unparallelled honor of being nominated in this week's contest -- Best DC Blog by Best DC Writer -- on Best DC Blog.

Personally, I think they've mistaken my good grammar for good writing.

At any rate, I am sure that I cannot compete against Velvet and ArJewTino, who are two of the best writers out in blogland. (Actually -- to the extent that I've read them -- the other nominees seem pretty gosh darn good, too.) So, it's an honor just to be in the same category as these fine folks.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Sunday night at the movies

I just finished watching Hollywoodland. It was pretty good. Not quite as good as The Departed, but then again, I always did like Matt Damon more than Ben Affleck.

More importantly, I somehow have 474 movies in my Netflix queue. I don't think I'll ever watch them all.

St. Patrick's Day napping

I've been really tired all weekend. I was so excited for yesterday, with all the St. Patrick's Day festivities and basketball, yet I could barely drag my ass out of bed. Even though I got up at noon and went to the gym, once I got home and got showered and dressed, I was tired and wound up taking a two-hour nap with basketball on the tv.

After that, I had a short-ish telephone conversation with my mom, and a long-ish telephone conversation with my sister, where I expressed my very peculiar tiredness that was not relieved by all the sleep. My mom, in her infinite wisdom, said I shouldn't go out, since clearly my body is telling me that I need sleep.

My sister, in her different kind of wisdom, said she's always tired and goes out anyway. Of course, I laughed and told her to take advantage of her twenties for the next 9 months!

Since it was (a) a Saturday and (b) a partying holiday, I did wind up going out -- wearing my "Kiss Me I'm Irish" t-shirt -- but it was only with friends to an overcrowded Irish pub. Once there, I didn't really do anything interesting. In the spirit of the holiday, I did, however, drink two Guinnesses and one shot of Jamieson.

I got home around midnight, and yes, I am aware that is pathetic.

Anyway, the point of this was not to regale you with tales of my (very boring) life, but to point out the synchronicity between this and yesterday's horoscope. You see, ever since the time change, My Yahoo! has been stuck in a time-warp, where it features the last day's horoscope instead of the current day's. So, imagine my surprise when I logged in today to find:

Feeling tired? It's no wonder -- the pace (and the hours) you've been keeping lately are not conducive to staying alert and awake throughout the day. If you can't seem to get revved up to start your day, then sleep in a little bit longer. If you can't sleep in a bit longer, then promise yourself that you'll make time for a nice nap this weekend. They say you can't really catch up on sleep, but you need to get some more sleep in order to get back to feeling normal.

That would have been eerily prescient, had I read it yesterday.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Stop it, you're killing me!

It was really only a matter of time until some media outlet ran this punny headline:

Grading my bracket

My bracket -- my real bracket, not that silly upset picking thing we do in the PH4H challenge -- isn't doing that well.

So far, I was wrong about Old Dominion, Gonzaga, Marquette, Texas Tech, and Oral Roberts.

68.4%. That's a D+.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Florida: Still Weird

Imagine getting a speeding ticket from a leprechaun.* Only in Florida.

*As I typed this, they were talking about the same thing on the news. Weird, huh?

Peep art, making a comeback

Last year, I blogged about the Seattle Times' Peep Art Contest.

This year, The Washington Post is having its own. Submissions are due on Sunday.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

What do you people want from me?

For most of the last week, my sitemeter wasn't functioning. Then all of a sudden, it started working again yesterday, and I got to see all of the random search phrases that lead poor innocent fools to this website. Here's a list of the most interesting ones.
  • "where can you go for knock off purses in DC?" (Baltimore, Maryland)
  • "comma lawsuit" (Santa Barbara, California)
  • "river boca tattoo artist penis youtube" (Roosendall, Netherlands)
  • "oppressed jewish americans" (Memphis, Tennessee)
  • "elementary grammar - comma quiz" (Tacoma, Washington)
  • "crackberry and marriage" (Kailua Kona, Hawaii)
  • "thirty days morgan spurlock jail" (Northfield, Minnesota)
  • "mr jeff collins bills & exchange manager" (UK)
  • "lawyers suck sticker goo goo dolls" (St. Paul, Minnesota)
  • "cosi complaints" (Jersey City, New Jersey)
  • "purse made out of a book" (Massillon, Ohio)
  • "what is the buddhist badge called" (Rawtenstall, U.K.)
  • "i vant to bite your finger" (Manchester, U.K.)
  • "abdominal pain crystal meth" (Renton, Washington)
  • "analysis of the james blunt song "so long, jimmy"" (Queensland, AU)
  • "vomit wool coat" (Dallas, Texas)
  • "dave navarro frye boots" (Sydney, AU)
  • "wegmans kosher bagels manalapan nj" (New York, New York)
  • "wegmans manalapan beer" (Matawan, New Jersey)
  • "march 11 car accident manalapan, nj" (Glen Head, New York)
  • "uf funny t-shirts" (Cupertino, California)
  • "fun sayings "wherever you go there you are"" (Redmond, Washington)
  • "Jim Balsillie his parents born in" (Australia)
  • "Jennifer Nettles tattoo" (Orlando, Florida)
  • "was mc escher ocd?" (Punta Gorda, Florida)
  • "whiny soccer parents" (Fairview, Tennessee)
  • "tattoo, nyquil" (Boston, Massachusetts)
  • "ocd "best week ever" Tom" (Alhambra, California)
  • "quarterback supermodel pregnant" (North America)
  • "Seattle Times peep contest" (Bothell, Washington)
  • "blah blah pancakes" (Brandon, Florida)
  • "into those eyes arctic monkeys lyrics" (Haarlem, Netherlands)
  • "2006 minimum billable hours dechert philadelphia" (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Actually, there were a bunch of variations on the billable hours/law firm salaries inquiry -- mostly (surprise, surprise!) from New York City.

And, for the record, I know next to nothing about most of these. Well, except for the purse made out of a book, the oppressed Jewish Americans, and the vomit wool coat. I know these all too well, my friends.

Toasting Caesar with a cup o' joe

Today might have been Pi Day (or Steak and BJ day, depending on who you ask), but, despite being the Ides of March, tomorrow is pretty good, too -- It's free coffee day at Starbucks!

Really stupid thing to say

Now, really -- do you think that telling the cops that you crashed your car because of a unicorn is going to get you in less trouble?

A man told police not to blame him for crashing his truck into a light post — it was that unicorn behind the wheel. Prosecutor Ingrid Rosenquist said Phillip C. Holliday Jr. initially denied driving the truck involved in the March 7 crash in Billings. He told officers at the scene that a unicorn was driving, she said.

Holliday, 42, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to felony charges of criminal endangerment and drunken driving.

Saying something like that, sir, will cause the cops to search you for drugs.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Why I started watching college basketball

Today, when I logged onto CBS Sportsline, I was greeted with this:

You see, despite being raised watching baseball, I had never really paid much attention to basketball until I saw Christian Laettner. I mean, he was one of People's 50 Most Beautiful People.

After that, I started paying more attention to sports. Of course, dating a basketball player and going to two big sports schools didn't hurt.

And now, it's what, 15 years later, and I still think he's cute -- at least in that picture.

Yet another reason not to go to Montgomery County

You can't get good wine.

From The Post:
Buying unusual wines for a distinctive wine list can take months, Montgomery restaurateurs say. Some labels remain beyond their reach because some wineries and distributors refuse to deal with the county. Botched orders can take weeks to correct, they say, and once-weekly shipments can leave them apologizing to unhappy customers when a certain vintage runs out. Because of an extra county markup on special orders, diners often find wine lists in Montgomery more expensive.


The distribution system also bears some blame, restaurateurs say, for a relative shortage of upscale dining in Montgomery. Some chefs say they passed up mouth-watering demographics -- almost 1 million people, many with deep pockets -- because they found it too hard and expensive to keep the kind of impressive wine cellar that fine-dining customers expect.


Remember that story about the sorority that purged its less attractive members?

Well, the university did the right thing and kicked that sorority off campus.

March 9, 1987

I can't believe that I missed that last Friday marked the 20th anniversary of one of my favorite albums of all time: The Joshua Tree.

Seriously. I love it so much that I have a framed poster of the album cover in my bedroom:

I love it so much that, despite the fact that my record player died in December, I've kept the record:

Although, this might have something to do with it:

Monday, March 12, 2007

Thoughts on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, courtesy of Patti Smith

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony was tonight -- with R.E.M. and Van Halen getting inducted. Two of my favorites.

Still, to me, the most interesting story is Patti Smith, and her op-ed piece in the New York Times:

On the eve of this event I asked myself many questions. Should an artist working within the revolutionary landscape of rock accept laurels from an institution? Should laurels be offered? Am I a worthy recipient?

I have wrestled with these questions and my conscience leads me back to Fred and those like him — the maverick souls who may never be afforded such honors. Thus in his name I will accept with gratitude. Fred Sonic Smith was of the people, and I am none but him: one who has loved rock ’n’ roll and crawled from the ranks to the stage, to salute history and plant seeds for the erratic magic landscape of the new guard.

Because its members will be the guardians of our cultural voice. The Internet is their CBGB. Their territory is global. They will dictate how they want to create and disseminate their work. They will, in time, make breathless changes in our political process. They have the technology to unite and create a new party, to be vigilant in their choice of candidates, unfettered by corporate pressure. Their potential power to form and reform is unprecedented.

Human history abounds with idealistic movements that rise, then fall in disarray. The children of light. The journey to the East. The summer of love. The season of grunge. But just as we seem to repeat our follies, we also abide.

Rock ’n’ roll drew me from my mother’s hand and led me to experience. In the end it was my neighbors who put everything in perspective. An approving nod from the old Italian woman who sells me pasta. A high five from the postman. An embrace from the notary and his wife. And a shout from the sanitation man driving down my street: “Hey, Patti, Hall of Fame. One for us.”

I just smiled, and I noticed I was proud. One for the neighborhood. My parents. My band. One for Fred. And anybody else who wants to come along.

Patti Smith is a poet and performer.

Ain't it strange, indeed.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Departed

So, I finally got around to watching The Departed this afternoon -- while unironically wearing a "Kiss Me, I'm Irish" t-shirt -- and it was really good. In fact, had I seen it in 2006, I might have said it was the best movie of the year.

It is, officially, the best movie I've seen so far in 2007, if that helps.

And, for the record, until today, I never noticed that Matt Damon and Leonardo DeCaprio sort of look alike.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Conservapedia v. Wikipedia: A Test

For the record, I love the whole concept of Wikipedia, the idea that you can type just about anything into the search box and, at a minimum, get a concise explanation. Plus, the idea that it is a communal project and that anyone can add or edit -- subject, of course, to others' review -- appeals to me. (It's the whole idea that the truth lies somewhere in the middle of all the competing analyses. Of course, if you want a more humorous view, read Gene Weingarten's article on the Wikipedia phenomenon.)

So, when I heard the recent news about Conservapedia, I just had to see it for myself.

For the record, Conservapedia describes itself as follows:

A conservative encyclopedia you can trust.

Conservapedia has over 3,800 educational, clean and concise entries on historical, scientific, legal, and economic topics, as well as more than 350 lectures and term lists. There have been over 2,500,000 page views and over 20,000 page edits. Already Conservapedia has become one of the largest user-controlled free encyclopedias on the internet. This site is growing rapidly.

Conservapedia is a much-needed alternative to Wikipedia, which is increasingly anti-Christian and anti-American. On Wikipedia, many of the dates are provided in the anti-Christian "C.E." instead of "A.D.", which Conservapedia uses. Christianity receives no credit for the great advances and discoveries it inspired, such as those of the Renaissance. Read a list of many Examples of Bias in Wikipedia.

Conservapedia is an online resource and meeting place where we favor Christianity and America. Conservapedia has easy-to-use indexes to facilitate review of topics. You will much prefer using Conservapedia compared to Wikipedia if you want concise answers free of "political correctness".

Of course, this is not entirely without controversy. Wikipedia describes Conservapedia this way:

Conservapedia is a wiki project to construct an encyclopedia with articles that are pro-American, socially conservative and supportive of conservative Christianity.

The project was founded by Andrew Schlafly, son of conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, in response to a perceived anti-Christian and anti-American bias in the articles of Wikipedia. According to recent stories about the site, Conservapedia originated from a project by homeschooled children, with many of its entries created by teenagers as part of a school assignment. In addition to its role as an encyclopedia, Conservapedia is also used by Andrew Schlafly's Eagle Forum University. Material for various online courses, for example, on American History, is stored on the site. Eagle Forum University is associated with Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum. Andrew Schlafly has stated that he hopes the site becomes a general resource for United States teachers.

Conservapedia and Wikipedia

Conservapedia disapproves of what it claims is an institutional aversion on Wikipedia to the use of Christian scripture and doctrine as objective and reliable sources for scientific matters, along with other religious texts, intuitions, and superstitions. Topics relating to natural phenomena, morality, religion, politics and American history have been singled out for particular criticism. Conservapedia provides asserted examples of anti-Christian bias, including the use of the secular CE/BCE notation in place of AD/BC (Anno Domini and Before Christ), and allowing evolution to be defined as based on evidence, in contradiction of the creationism favored by certain Christians. Allegations of an anti-American bias include the acceptance of non-US English spellings of English words, such as "labour" and "theatre", as the various editions of Wikipedia are broken up by language, not region.

In a March 2007 interview with The Guardian newspaper, Schlafly stated, "I've tried editing Wikipedia, and found it and the biased editors who dominate it censor or change facts to suit their views. In one case my factual edits were removed within 60 seconds — so editing Wikipedia is no longer a viable approach." On March 8 Andy Schlafly was interviewed on BBC Radio 4's flagship morning show, the Today programme, opposite Wikipedia administrator Jim Redmond. Schlafly raised several concerns: that the article on the Renaissance does not give any credit to Christianity, that many Wikipedia articles use non-American spellings even though most users are American, that the article on American activities in the Philippines has a distinctly anti-American bias, and that attempts to include pro-Christian or pro-American views are removed very quickly.

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales has stated that he has no objections to the project. "Free culture knows no bounds," he said. "We welcome the reuse of our work to build variants."

Criticism and vandalism

The Conservapedia project has come under significant criticism for factual inaccuracies and allegations of a bias of its own (see Factual relativism). Critics such as libertarian conservative writer Andrew Sullivan, conservative blogger Jon Swift, science writer Carl Zimmer and others, have criticized and mocked the Conservapedia website for factual inaccuracy, extremism, hypocrisy, bias, and ignoring the scientific consensus on subjects such as the Big Bang and evolution in favor of biblical exegesis. Widely disseminated examples of Conservapedia articles that contradict the scientific consensus include the claims that all kangaroos descend from a single pair that were taken aboard Noah's Ark, that "Einstein's work had nothing to do with the development of the atomic bomb" and that gravity and evolution are theories that remain unproven. An entry on the "Pacific Northwest Arboreal Octopus" has received particular attention, with it being pointed as a nonsense entry that was able to slip under the radar. Andrew Schlafly has asserted that the page was meant as a parody of environmentalism and he intends to keep it up. However, as of 4 March, the entry has been deleted. Other offending articles have since been revised to include fewer statements of the kind that have brought derision from the blogosphere.

There is evidence that people who object to Conservapedia's stated conservative Christian mission have been creating deliberate parody entries in an attempt to ridicule the widespread use of Christian scripture as a source for Conservapedia articles.

The project has also been criticized for promoting a dichotomy between conservatism and liberalism and for promoting the notion that there "often are two equally valid interpretations of the facts." Conservapedia has also been compared to CreationWiki, a wiki written from a creation science perspective.

(citations omitted)

Sounds even-handed, right?

So, I decided to put the two to the test. First topic, "Hillary Clinton."

The first paragraph, from Wikipedia:

Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton (born October 26, 1947) is the junior United States Senator from New York and a member of the Democratic Party. She is married to Bill Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States, and was the First Lady of the United States from 1993 to 2001. She is a lawyer and a former First Lady of Arkansas.

Clinton was elected to the United States Senate in 2000, becoming the first First Lady elected to public office and the first female senator to represent New York. She was re-elected in 2006. As senator, she sits on the Committee on Armed Services, the Committee on Environment and Public Works, the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, and the Special Committee on Aging.

On January 20, 2007, Clinton announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee for the United States presidential election of 2008.

Conservapedia, however, tells a different story:

Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton (b. 1947) was First Lady of the United States of America during the Clinton Administration from 1993 to 2001. Though she had virtually no connection to New York, she exploited the resignation of the Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan as an opportunity for her to win a safe Senate seat and prepare for her own bid to become President. With the power of the White House she obtained the Democratic nomination for this Senate seat, and then won easily in the heavily Democratic state of New York in 2000.

After being reelected in 2006, Clinton began preparing for her presidential run as expected, and she formally announced her candidacy in early 2007.

Okay, fine. Admittedly I chose a topic of particular interest amongst conservatives. But does it change if I pick something more in their wheelhouse? Let's try "Rudy Giuliani."


Rudolph William Louis "Rudy" Giuliani III (born May 28, 1944) is an American lawyer, prosecutor, businessman, and Republican politician from the state of New York.

He became a popular figure as a United States Attorney prosecuting high-profile cases, including cases against organized crime and the tax evader Marc Rich. He served two terms as Mayor of New York City (1994–2001), during which time he was credited by many with improvements in the city's quality of life and with a massive reduction in crime that eventually made New York City the country's safest major city after years of being the "Murder Capital of America." Others, however, criticized him as divisive and authoritarian. He then gained national attention for his leadership role during and after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center that led him to be named Time's 2001 Person of the Year and receive an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II. His public visibility in the days following the attacks earned him the nickname "America's Mayor."

Since leaving office as mayor, Giuliani has found considerable success in the private sector. He founded Giuliani Partners, a security consulting business, acquired Giuliani Capital Advisors (later sold), an investment banking firm, and joined the Bracewell & Giuliani law firm. In February 2007 Giuliani filed a statement of candidacy for the Republican nomination for the 2008 presidential campaign. Most polls show him as the leading candidate for the nomination.

It goes on from there, but overall, it seems fair.

And Conservapedia?

There is no page titled "rudy giuliani". You can create this page.

Of course, after I stopped laughing my ass off, I thought that, to really be fair, I would try again.

Mitt Romney, via Conservapedia:

Willard Mitt Romney (born 1947, goes by Mitt), served as the governor of Massachusetts from 2002 to 2006 and is a Republican candidate in the 2008 presidential election. If elected, he will become the first Mormon president.

That's it -- two whole sentences. But from Wikipedia, we actually get information:

Willard Mitt Romney (standard IPA pronunciation: 'wɪlɜd mɪt 'ɹɑmnɪ), usually known as Mitt, (born March 12, 1947) was the 70th Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, elected in 2002. He served one term and did not seek re-election in 2006; his term ended January 4, 2007. Romney is a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, formally announcing his candidacy on February 13, 2007. He made his announcement at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

Romney is a former CEO of Bain & Company, a management consulting firm, and the co-founder of Bain Capital, a private equity investment firm. In 1994, Romney led an unsuccessful Senate campaign against incumbent Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy. He also served as the CEO and organizer of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Romney was born March 12, 1947 in Detroit, Michigan. He is a great great grandson of Latter-day Saint leader and apostle Parley P. Pratt and the son of former Michigan Governor, Housing and Urban Development Secretary, American Motors chairman, and Presidential candidate George W. Romney and unsuccessful 1970 US Senate candidate Lenore Romney. Romney has three siblings: Lynn, Jane, and G. Scott. He was named after hotel magnate J. Willard Marriott, his father's best friend, and Milton Romney, a relative who played football for the Chicago Bears.

Romney married his high school sweetheart, Ann Davies, in 1968. They have five sons (Tagg, Matt, Josh, Ben, and Craig) and ten grandchildren. Ann Romney was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998.

And that's just the first section.

So, in summary, Conservapedia mistakes Wikipedia's ability to actually provide useful information with "liberal bias."

Then again, I'm the stupid one for actually expecting something different.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Fleeting thoughts

  1. A 'Feel Good' Production posted this link to lessons learned from '80's cartoons, and I think it's pretty rad.

  2. I would think it would be pretty difficult to use a baby as a baseball bat, what with the crying and squirming and everything. Apparently, I'd be wrong.

  3. No matter how hard I try, I just don't get Lost. This does not mean I don't like it; on the contrary, I love the fact that I spend the entire week after the episode trying to figure it out.

    Thankfully, I'm not the only one.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Guess I'm not the only one

Remember back when I was quitting my law firm job and I mentioned the New York Post article about how big law firms were losing all of their mid-level associates?

The president of the D.C. Bar blames escalating law firm salaries:

For the law firms that pay them, astronomical associate salaries increase pressures on profitability, which take a heavy toll on firm culture.


Associates leave big law firms in spite of the money and not because it isn’t enough. Higher salaries will do nothing to give associates greater responsibility, more rewarding work, better training, or increased access to mentors—the things that many associates who leave big firms say they wanted but didn’t get.


For those associates who do tough it out, these higher salaries are not a happy development. There is no free lunch. Higher salaries inevitably mean higher billable-hour expectations and even less work–life balance. Greater emphasis on revenue generation seems inevitably to reduce the quality of lawyers’ lives.

Another article agrees:

If improving associate morale was Simpson's goal, says Link, the raise may do more harm than good.

A higher salary "puts more pressure on productivity and hours," says Link, exacerbating precisely the quality-of-life issues that make junior lawyers unhappy.


As for overall associate happiness, the raise could have a negative impact.

Many firms will ask associates to cover their own raises with longer days or higher productivity. During the last round of hikes, Dechert raised its New York salary from $125,000 to $145,000. At the same time, the firm raised its minimum billables from 1,950 to 2,000 hours, according to associates at Dechert. An associate at Covington & Burling says that even if there isn't a formal change in the requirements, partners will simply expect more hours.

"We don't say, 'Here's your raise, now work 50 more hours,'" says Roger Warin, chairman of Steptoe & Johnson. "But associates know, for most firms, that's the way the math works."

The D.C. Bar president's suggestion, however, sounded familiar:

Don’t become dependent on the money. Live below your means, and be generous. Once you’ve got your educational debt under control, do what you want to do because you love it, not what you have to do to maintain a lifestyle. Remember why you went to law school: to make a difference. And follow your heart.

Amen, brother.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Today's realization

The worst part about being a lawyer is dealing with the other lawyers.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

My horoscope

Remember how I said I'm in New Jersey for work for the rest of the week? Well, this was my horoscope today:

That itchy feeling you've been having from time to time lately is good old wanderlust. You need to travel out of your familiar territory and experience a new culture. Being uncomfortable in an airplane seat is a small price to pay for the rewards you will experience once you land. Start planning a long-distance journey today -- and consider a foreign country. There are ways of making the trip fit into your budget.

Close, but no cigar.*

For the record:
  • I always have wanderlust.

  • To many, New Jersey is a new culture, but to me, that's not really the case. I mean, I spent twelve years of my life here.

  • It was a long and uncomfortable trip, but alas! I drove, so no airplane seat.

  • It's my employer's budget, not mine, that they should be worried about.

*What does that mean, really?