Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pants on fire!!!

Two days to go to the election, so it's time to visit PolitiFact and see what they have to say about the campaign. Here's a very interesting article about the "truthiness" of it all.

Being non-partisan, PolitiFact is very careful to avoid pointing out which side of the political fence most of the bullshit is coming from - but take a look for yourself, I have no doubt you will see a pattern here!

Gotta go - Bill Maher is on, and I missed most of it on Friday... (UPDATE: I just watched it - a really good episode!)

The future - never certain

A good friend sent this to me recently, but its author is unknown. Enjoy - and let me have your thoughts too! (One thing does strike me right off the bat - this is a U.S.-centric view, and it doesn't really hold water when looked at in a global context. Like it or not, we do live in an ever-shrinking world, so I think it's important to bear that in mind while reading this.)

[Italicized notes in square brackets are my bafflegabbed, peanut gallery comments.]
----------------
British GPO logo
1. The Post Office. Get ready to imagine a world without the post office. They are so deeply in financial trouble that there is probably no way to sustain it long term. Email, FedEx, and UPS have just about wiped out the minimum revenue needed to keep the post office alive. Most of your mail every day is junk mail and bills. [Maybe true for the U.S., not necessarily so in other countries, particularly those where the Post Office is state-run, handles business other than delivering mail, and can run at a loss because it is subsidized. And, in the U.S., what about people who aren't online, including those who would love to be but cannot because they live in rural areas? Not even FedEx and UPS serve them - only the USPS does! Additionally, there are those who simply cannot afford to be online. Will the U.S. Gov't subsidize the rural and the poor? I think not...]

Check that purchased Alaska
2. The Check. Britain is already laying the groundwork to do away with checks by 2018. It costs the financial system billions of dollars a year to process checks. Plastic cards and online transactions will lead to the eventual demise of the check. This plays right into the death of the post office. If you never paid your bills by mail and never received them by mail, the post office would absolutely go out of business. [The payment system model is changing rapidly and radically - I think that even plastic will soon be history. But, as is often the case, this is a much larger topic that needs to be reserved for a different time. Update Nov. 2: Coincidentally, this appeared in Monday's edition of the S.F. Chronicle, discussing the problem of reluctance by banks in the U.S. to move to newer technology - again, giving me ammo for my view that this author was being very U.S.-centric in his/her essay.]

3. The Newspaper. The younger generation simply doesn't read the newspaper. They certainly don't subscribe to a daily delivered print edition. That may go the way of the milkman and the laundry man. As for reading the paper online, get ready to pay for it. The rise in mobile Internet devices and e-readers has caused all the newspaper and magazine publishers to form an alliance. They have met with Apple, Amazon, and the major cell phone companies to develop a model for paid subscription services. [I really don't think newspapers have much of a chance setting up paywalls at this stage of the game - that train left the station a long time ago. I despair for the future of decent journalism. Sure, the likes of the NYTimes will survive, but most of them, I fear, will be joining the horse-and-buggy set soon.]

Mmm ... paper!
4. The Book. You say you will never give up the physical book that you hold in your hand and turn the literal pages. I said the same thing about downloading music from iTunes. I wanted my hard copy CD. But I quickly changed my mind when I discovered that I could get albums for half the price without ever leaving home to get the latest music. The same thing will happen with books. You can browse a bookstore online and even read a preview chapter before you buy. And the price is less than half that of a real book. [Not true - in fact, there's a debate raging right now about the fact that the likes of Amazon are now charging more for e-books than their printed counterparts. This is being forced on e-booksellers by the publishers.] And think of the convenience! Once you start flicking your fingers on the screen instead of the book, you find that you are lost in the story, can't wait to see what happens next, and you forget that you're holding a gadget instead of a book. [This is a slightly naïve view - distribution and sale of content in all its forms is undergoing a sea-change. The primary issue in my mind is the lack of permanence when it comes to electronic storage; this, however, is an issue that goes way beyond the scope of this discussion.]

Who remembers how to use that
twirly thing on the front?!
5. The Land Line Telephone. Unless you have a large family and make a lot of local calls, you don't need it anymore. Most people keep it simply because they're [sic] always had it. But you are paying double charges for that extra service. All the cell phone companies will let you call customers using the same cell provider for no charge against your minutes. [In most countries, mobile phones are already way in the majority and, indeed, many developing countries have skipped landline technology and gone directly to mobile, giving them a huge advantage (no maintenance of an aging infrastructure is necessary). In some respects, there are connections here to my post a few days ago about centralized vs distributed organisms.]

6. Music. This is one of the saddest parts of the change story. The music industry is dying a slow death. Not just because of illegal downloading. It's the lack of innovative new music being given a chance to get to the people who would like to hear it. Greed and corruption is the problem. The record labels and the radio conglomerates simply self-destruction. [That's not a sentence - where's the verb?] Over 40% of the music purchased today is "catalog items," meaning traditional music that the public is familiar with. Older established artists. This is also true on the live concert circuit. To explore this fascinating and disturbing topic further, check out the book, "Appetite for Self-Destruction" by Steve Knopper, and the video documentary, "Before the Music Dies." [Here, I think I agree; I say "think" because the point is hard to discern. It goes back to the lack of permanence I mentioned in #4 above, as well as the DMCA takedown actions of late.]

7. Television. Revenues to the networks are down dramatically. Not just because of the economy. People are watching TV and movies streamed from their computers. And they're playing games and doing all lots of other things that take up the time that used to be spent watching TV. Prime time shows have degenerated down to lower than the lowest common denominator. Cable rates are skyrocketing and commercials run about every 4 minutes and 30 seconds. I say good riddance to most of it It's time for the cable companies to be put out of our misery. Let the people choose what they want to watch online and through Netflix. [This is a pipe dream - while I would dearly love to see more intelligent TV content in this country, it ain't gonna happen, because that's what pays the bills. And TV, quite simply, is not going to go away, at least not for a l-o-n-g time. Believe it or not, TV is a valuable cultural phenomenon elsewhere. See this post.]

Storm clouds!
8. The "Things" That You Own. Many of the very possessions that we used to own are still in our lives, but we may not actually own them in the future. They may simply reside in "the cloud." Today your computer has a hard drive and you store your pictures, music, movies, and documents. Your software is on a CD or DVD, and you can always re-install it if need be. But all of that is changing. Apple, Microsoft, and Google are all finishing up their latest "cloud services." That means that when you turn on a computer, the Internet will be built into the operating system. So, Windows, Google, and the Mac OS will be tied straight into the Internet. If you click an icon, it will open something in the Internet cloud. If you save something, it will be saved to the cloud. And you may pay a monthly subscription fee to the cloud provider. [Again, see here.]

In this virtual world, you can access your music or your books, or your whatever from any laptop or handheld device. That's the good news. But, will you actually own any of this "stuff" or will it all be able to disappear at any moment in a big "Poof?" Will most of the things in our lives be disposable and whimsical? It makes you want to run to the closet and pull out that photo album, grab a book from the shelf, or open up a CD case and pull out the insert.

[And there you have it - we do agree, after all! Why on earth did it take this long for the author to make his/her point?!]

Little brother is watching
9. Privacy. If there ever was a concept that we can look back on nostalgically, it would be privacy. That's gone. It's been gone for a long time anyway. There are cameras on the street, in most of the buildings, and even built into your computer and cell phone. But you can be sure that 24/7 "They" know who you are and where you are, right down to the GPS coordinates, and the Google Street View. If you buy something, your habit is put into a zillion profiles, and your ads will change to reflect those habits. And "They" will try to get you to buy something else. Again and again. [ABSO-FUCKING-LUTELY!]


Oops



Friday, October 29, 2010

Mumbai mansion

Once again, I have to take a break from the insanity. Politics. Terrorism. Yuck.

Here's an interesting story from the NYTimes. This newly-built home in Mumbai is designed to accommodate a family of five. Yes, five! It is 27 storeys tall, with six parking levels. There are nine elevators, three helipads, numerous terraces, ballroom*, a 50-seat theatre, "airborne" swimming pools, and hanging gardens. No word on the number of bathrooms, but nine elevators for a family of five? The building is the new home of Mukesh Ambani, the richest man in India.

Reportedly, the residential space is somewhere between 60,000 and 400,000 ft². Judging by the picture above, I'm guessing the lower end of that range is more realistic - but still.

And this in Mumbai - a city where, reportedly, >60% of the population live in slums.

Update: I found this page, which provides pictures of the interior as well as close-up views of the exterior. The mystery of the nine elevators is now solved: "Two are designated for parking lots, two for the Ambani family, two for service and three for all the guest quarters." And there are more interesting factoids. The sheer extravagance of this place both horrifies and intrigues me. Scroll through this pic - looks like my square footage guesstimate above was a little on the low side!


* Which reminds me: What do a tight pair of trousers and the Royal Albert Hall have in common? No ballroom.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

That Christine O'Donnell - she's just so damn irresistible

I'm sorry, but you cannot blame me for pointing this little story out. Thank you, Gawker!

It involves a drunken Christine wanting to use a stranger's bathroom to change into her ladybug costume for Halloween, and the two of them end up in bed. Titillated enough yet to click through? I hope so!   ;-)   Damn, I hate emoticons. Where did that one come from?

Yes, I realize that she has become a joke, and that the right wing is, at this point, just using her to deflect real criticism of their dirty, low-down tactics. I guess she's the scapegoat candidate. Or trophy candidate? It's all very Palin-esque, which makes it extra-special!

Update 1: It seems that a number of people (including, of course, Christine) have gotten their tits in a tangle about this story. One would hope that people who read Gawker are smart enough to understand that it is a fluffy, gossipy, entertainment site - nothing more, nothing less. Context is everything!

Update 2: In Christine's response to this story, she says, "From Secretary Clinton, to Governor Palin, to soon-to-be Governor Haley, Christine's political opponents have been willing to engage in appalling and baseless attacks — all with the aim of distracting the press from covering the real issues in this race." Read that sentence carefully. While Clinton is clearly an opponent, I very much doubt that Palin and Haley are!!! Seems that copy editors truly are a dying breed. (And, I think the assumption that Haley is a soon-to-be governor is just a tad presumptuous, not to mention likely incorrect, given current polls!)

2010 midterm campaign - hard to believe, and now barely true!

Let's face it - the level of discourse in the current political campaign has turned into nothing more than a mud-slinging match. Now, my old friend PolitiFact.com, has, for the first time, given a rating of "Barely True" to the entire campaign!

PolitiFact.com is a non-partisan group that analyzes statements made by people in the public eye and comes up with a rating on their Truth-O-Meter™. These ratings are, in my view, both novel and clever. The list: True, Mostly True, Half True, Barely True, and (my personal favorite) Pants on Fire! Check 'em out.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Centralized vs distributed organisms

This article from Techdirt contemplates the nature of centralized vs distributed organisms, in the context of Wikileak's recent exposures of the U.S. Government's behavior in Iraq. Regardless of one's opinion of this particular situation, it's worth reading because it provides food for thought about what our future may look like.

This is a topic that, through my life, I have thought about in different, specific, contexts - not least of which is how the pendulum has swung over the years with regard to the pros and cons of server- and client-side computing. Central came first with mainframes and dumb terminals. Then minicomputers came on the scene, reducing the cost - which led to "microcomputers" (who among us remembers that term?), aka PCs. And now the pendulum is swinging back, with all our data (and intelligence) in the "cloud."

Perhaps a good illustration of the way this works is the Microsoft/Google analogy. Microsoft built its empire on the notion of putting the smarts into PCs by having you buy their software, and then locking you into occasional "upgrades" - the distributed model. Google came along later, and realized that a centralized model made more sense. So now, Microsoft is in the sad position of having to release updates of its software (e.g. Outlook) on a periodic basis. Otoh, Google, by virtue of the fact that its software (e.g. Gmail) is in the cloud, is in the much happier position of being able to control updates centrally, as and when they want or need to. If you're a user of Google's products, you will notice how they "push" subtle changes to you on a regular basis. Microsoft wishes they had the ability to do this. But that's not really what this post is about, and I happily recognize that I've elided over many points that make the computing example much more complicated.

Back to centralized vs distributed organisms... Beyond computing, where else does this occur?

Well, there's the Cold War, where the enemies were easy to define: sovereign nations. With the Cold War behind us, we now have global terrorism to worry about. Now, the enemy is much harder to define, because instead of countries with clear boundaries, we find ourselves battling ideologies. Small cells of trouble can pop up anywhere, and vanish just as quickly. So: Cold War - centralized. Terrorism - distributed. Is it any wonder the coalition forces going up against the likes of Al Qa'ida are having so much difficulty? We still model our defense forces on the old, centralized model, yet we're fighting a distributed "war." It needs an entirely new approach, one that will not come easily or quickly.

Another example is that of governments. Why is China gaining ground on the U.S. in oh-so-many aspects, not least of which are their respective economies? China uses an autonomous, centralized model. The U.S. has a federal system, which devolves much of the power to individual states - a distributed model. When China wants to achieve something, they simply do it, declaring it as a fait accompli. In the U.S., however, it's a much more complex process - eternal wrangling over, for example, whether to spend or save. The consequence, of course, is that very little gets accomplished here with any alacrity.

So there you have three examples: computing, war, government. I'll leave it to you, dear reader, to decide which is preferable in each case: centralized or distributed organism? And to what other situations can we apply this? Comments, as always, welcome!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

Kissin' cousins

Well, well, well! The genealogy service Ancestry.com tells us that President Obama and Sarah Palin are 10th cousins, and Obama and Rush Limbaugh are 10th cousins once removed. Apparently, the chances of this happening are slimmer than you think. Maybe Sarah and Rush oughta stop dissin' and instead start kissin' my guy. Read about it here!

Interesting hypothesis

While this theory was advanced in the '08 Presidential election, I think it's certainly worth re-hashing. This article discusses a trip to a Sarah Palin Teabagger rally in Phoenix, and ends with the following:

"I think the pollsters might be very wrong about the upcoming election. And that's because they are polling the people I saw at this rally - the people with land lines. I wonder how many of the pollsters are polling younger people, or working people with cell phones.

"The people I saw today were the fearful middle-aged white people who have been outsourced, laid off, and "victimized" by diversity. They looked as if they had been outrun by the pace of change, in every area of their lives. They were familiar, like Rotarians. They clearly want things to go back to the past - one man came riding a horse, and the Minutemen were there. Everyone talked about bringing it back to how it used to be and taking it back. Everyone prayed and talked about Christ, and recited the Pledge of Allegiance and sang the National Anthem. It was the old days of baseball games and hot dogs, horses and guns, and the Greatest Generation. I didn't hear anything about taxes; in fact I heard very little political content, except from the local guys.

"I was probably the only geek in the place. And that says it all."

And it says it all for me as well!

Talk about ignorance!

I was doing some research for a friend concerning GLSEN, a gay advocacy group. They are selling a kit for schools that includes posters and bumper stickers which, in essence, tell schoolkids that they're in a "safe space." (No such thing, but we won't go there today.)

Here's the bit that got me. There is a page of testimonials about the kit, where one of the teachers says, "I will put up the safe zone sticker on my door to do something...most of my coworkers will not know what this means.....but those kids who need me to keep them safe will." (Boldface emphasis mine.)

The other teachers won't know what the stickers mean?!?! Well, if they don't know, then how in hell are the kids supposed to figure it out?

Perhaps there's a deeper problem here, one that is going to take a lot more than a kit of posters and stickers...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Joys of the NY subway

Apropos of pretty much nothing, I just find this cartoon charming. It comes from today's special Subway issue of the NYTimes.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fun with the First Amendment

When Christine O'Donnell had her recent meltdown, she tried to deflect the situation by asking her opponent, Chris Coons, to name the five freedoms contained in the First Amendment. This was clearly unfair - after all, it was out of context, came totally out of the blue, and obviously was designed to distract Coons. [Note to Christine: It's a debate, not a pop quiz!] Who of us, even those who know what the five freedoms are, could answer a question like that under those circumstances?

Very few, I'll bet. And now we read that most Americans don't even know what they are, which, while not surprising, is still shocking. So, I figure that a bit of help might be necessary. First, the answer - it's freedom of:
- Speech
- Religion
- Press
- Assembly
- Grievances (i.e. the right to Petition the government, but that would be another P).

Let's see if we can come up with a mnemonic with those initial letters. How about:

Amendment Gives Republicans Speaking Point. No good? Well, that's off the top of my head - if you can come up with something better, by all means let me know and I'll update this post.

Maybe we just need to come up with a list that we can easily remember, again using the initials. And, since I'm doing this in honor of Republicans, how about a list of well-known ones (famous or infamous)? Let's see, we have...
- Steele (as in Michael)
- Reagan (or Roosevelt or Romney)
- Poindexter
- Armey (as in Richard - remember all the Dick Army jokes?)
- Grant (or Garfield)

The G, of course, could also be for GOP (By the way, did you know that the Know-nothing Party was a predecessor of the GOP?!)

Of course, if you, erm, grasp the idea of using the initials ... need I say more?

Emoticons

Even as emoticons are rapidly going out of style (I hope...), I have to admit that there are some pretty inventive ones out there. Take a look at this page - I especially like Marge Simpson, as well as Homer.

Or, for image-based ones, just search Google Images.

Yes, silly post. It's Saturday. Gimme a break.   ;-)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Finally - I get to criticize the left

As my regular readers know, I try to keep this blog as balanced as I can, but with all the idiocy demonstrated by the right wing these days, I'm hard-pressed to find anything that could point out weakness on the left.

Even this story is not the best example, because it really is more about how silly political correctness has become; but since being PC has been co-opted by the left ... well, there you go. It's also not directly related to the current political nonsense, but in that case the Republicans truly have the edge on stupid - no contest there!

TV commentator Juan Williams, who worked for NPR as well as Faux Fox News, apparently made a boo-boo on Faux [damn, I keep doing that, dunno why] Fox the other day. He mentioned that he has a visceral reaction when he sees Muslims, dressed in traditional garb, at an airport gate, about to board the same plane as he is. He said the reaction is one of nervousness, and passes as quickly as it comes. Later in the segment, he made the point this is not because of any problem he has with Muslims, it's merely one of those gut reactions that we all have at certain moments in our lives.

Well, this got his superiors over at NPR in a froth - and they booted his ass. Talk about making a fuss over nothing! To make matters worse, one of their spokespeople (!), in an interview yesterday, said that this sort of posturing has no place on public TV (even though he said it on Faux Fox, not NPR), and that he should be taking this matter up with his "psychiatrist or publicist, take your pick." (NPR has subsequently apologized for this slip.)

Tempest in a teapot? Fersure. Of course, this is now a major story, hardly a surprise in the U.S., and - again of course - the right is making hay out of it. Faux Fox News is chortling, and leading every hour so far today with this story, spending a large, disproportionate amount of time on it.

Not only that, but now Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) is proposing a bill that would remove the vestiges of public funding that NPR gets. A whole 2% of their budget - shock, horror! But, again, this is all part of their glee over the fact that those damn liberal, politically correct lefties made a boo-boo.

The only reason this is a story is because it isn't. I never cease to be amazed at the very low level of discourse that passes for news in this country.

There has to be a backstory here: My guess is that NPR has been unhappy with Williams' affiliation with Faux Fox News for some time, and that they (prematurely?) leapt on this to get rid of him. But, NPR is the one that ended up with egg on its face. Score one for Juan - especially now that Faux Fox has given him a new $2 million contract!!!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Link colors - admin note

Cool fractal, huh?
A quick bit of administrivia: I've changed the link and the visited-link colors to more pleasing shades of blue. The hover color remains red.

My usual request: If this is a problem on your monitor, please let me know - it's hard to judge without feedback! Thanks. (There are lots of other color changes, but it's the links I'm concerned about because those are the ones that you, dear reader, need to see to be able to click 'em.)

In all fairness to Christine...

OK, so there's been an argument about exactly what Christine O'Donnell meant with her self-inflicted flub about separation of church and state, and its presence (or lack thereof) in the Constitution. (My earlier post.)

Here's the thing: She is trying to downplay this, by saying that she (originally) said the specific phrase "separation of church and state" does not appear. This is true, but c'mon - why on earth would someone even bother to ask about how an idea is exactly worded when the real issue is its significance? Clearly, she is trying to shift the focus.

Trying to be fair, I have done some research, and it is apparent that Christine and her attendants are busy exercising damage control. Here, from Slate, is a good, objective explanation of what went down. Take a look for yourself, and make your own decision.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It's like shooting fish in a barrel

Christine O'Donnell and her minions apparently have trouble spelling her name. As I write this, the error is still on her website, despite the comments from a number of people online! UPDATE: They finally fixed it!

They make it so easy - who could resist pointing this gaffe out? Not I, certainly!

And to those of you who say "who cares?" I say I do. When an error like this is allowed to be published, it tells me that they truly have a don't-care-just-send-money attitude. And the really sad part is that her followers probably are incapable of picking up on this.

How the Teabaggers get it wrong

I came across this thoughtful, well-written, objective essay in Newsweek, discussing how the Teabaggers use the Constitution as their "bible" to get their message across, and how incredibly misguided and just plain wrong this notion is. Yet another must-read.

I also feel compelled to show you this sign from them - what the hell do they think Medicare is?!

(I'm finding so many "must-reads" these days, where the articles in question speak for themselves and really need no comment from me. Consequently, I'm now adding a box in the sidebar which will change as necessary, and will contain links that I think are important.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Quickies

Some good items in the Huffington Post today - worth linking to. Here goes:
  • Carl Paladino fell apart in a gubernatorial debate with Andrew Cuomo.
  • There's a dustup between Sarah Palin and NYTimes columnist Maureen Dowd.
  • Larry Magid talks about how Facebook Groups can jeopardize privacy.
  • And, on DADT, it appears that the judge is likely to defy the government.

Christine at her best

I'm uncomfortably aware that I keep zeroing in (see here) on Christine O'Donnell's scary nonsense, but who can resist? Not her fellow Republicans, it seems! Or even herself...

Today, in an exchange with her opponent Chris Coons during a radio debate, it became apparent that dear Christine has no clue about the separation of church and state, which is very clearly stated in the First Amendment. Politico tells us that this was a true foot-in-mouth moment, given that she was the one who brought it up by asking "Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?" When informed of the text of the First Amendment, her initial response was "You’re telling me the First Amendment does?" She then repeated this with "That's in the First Amendment?" Oh dear. In addition, we now learn that Sharron Angle is with Christine on this issue - surprise.

UPDATE: Here's Christine's, um, rebuttal to this brouhaha on her website: "In this morning's WDEL debate, Christine O'Donnell was not questioning the concept of separation of church and state as subsequently established by the courts. She simply made the point that the phrase appears nowhere in the Constitution. It was in fact Chris Coons who demonstrated his ignorance of our country's founding documents when he could not name the five freedoms contained in the First Amendment." I honestly cannot see how she squares this with her original question (see above). Talk about stretching the truth!

Witchy woman!
Her fellow Republican, Newt Gingrich, criticized her yesterday for her now-infamous "I am not a witch, I'm you" ad. There's this irresistible quote from Christine: "One of my first dates with a witch was on a satanic altar and I didn't know it. I mean, there was a little blood there and stuff like that... We went to a movie and then had a little picnic on a satanic altar."

And on Sunday's This Week on ABC, Meghan McCain - John McCain's daughter - commented that she thought Christine is a "nutjob." Daddy is not happy.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Redesigned again!

The old look
Yup, I've done it again - a new look for Bafflegab! I've tried to retain the best of what I had, but given it cleaner lines and (I hope) a friendlier look for normal as well as widescreen monitors.

No doubt I'll be tweaking it for a few days, but most of it is there. Like it? Hate it? Let me know via comments below or clicking one of the response boxes.

Facebook does it again

Yet again, Facebook is in the news. It has come to light that, regardless of how stringently you set your so-called "privacy" settings in Facebook, there are a number of associated apps that ignore this, and divulge personally identifiable information about you to their "trusted partners." What's worse, not only about you, but also information about your Facebook "friends." One of these apps, Farmville, has almost 60 million users (yes, 60,000,000!), and it seems they are one of the worst offenders.

Here's what happens: Every user of Facebook has a unique ID. Anyone, you included, can look up an individual's profile using this ID, thus divulging (at least) the name, along with anything else the person may have chosen to include. Apps like Farmville use this ID - as well as those of your "friends" - to pass this info on to data mining companies. So, even if you, personally, have chosen not to get involved, there is a high likelihood that your "friends" have - and thus your personal info is being passed on! Nice, huh?

Now, I've written about Facebook a number of times (see here, here, and here), so none of this comes as a surprise to me. But I am amazed at the continued explosive growth of the site, given all the negative publicity they have been receiving; either people don't read or they're just incredibly stupid.

The Huffington Post had this to say about it, along with some informative links that you should look at (particularly the three things you can do on Facebook to help protect your privacy - not that it seems to have much effect!).

As I was looking into this story, I discovered a great website, SUSPACK. There is an excellent essay about Facebook, focusing on the good, the bad, and the ugly. If you only click through to one item, this is the one!

And, if you still feel a desperate urge to use a social networking service, take a look at these alternatives.

Of course, with the speed of change in this world, who knows how long it will be before the next phenomenon comes along that will overshadow Facebook ... only time will tell.

There's gotta be a morning after!

The Turf Club certainly got lucky with the weather. Saturday night was beautiful - typical Bay Area weather. Sunday saw our first real rain of the season - here's what the patio looked like then!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pictures of Turf Club's 25th anniversary

As I mentioned in my prior post, yesterday was the Turf Club's 25th anniversary, and a blast was had by all. I snapped some pictures, but not nearly enough to do justice to the event. Nonetheless, here's a sampling.

Great hors d'œuvre and amuse bouche got us going, prepared and served by Steve D'Assis. Then we were served a dinner of juicy, tender prime rib, new potatoes slathered in butter, and a delicious marinated bean side (a nod to my need for veg!). I wasn't able to manage dessert, but was reliably informed that the selection was, again, delicious. And, of course, champagne. All the staff were parading around in tuxes (or some variant thereof), all looking wonderful. A big thank you goes out, in kinda-sorta alphabetical order, to Larry, Doug, Danny, Dave, Eric, Frank, Gary, Hazel, Jay, Jennifer, Michael, Randy, Shawn, both Steves, and others I'm just not remembering right now (apologies)!

Some people pics first, then some more general pics.

My friend Bryan and bartender Shawn
Bartender Jennifer
My friend Carrie (aka Dinklesquat!!!)

Doug - da mob boss!
(And, of course, the ever-present whiskey sour in Bryan's hand!)
Bartender and good friend Dave
My friend John, who owes me a drink!
(Bet he can't remember why...)
Dave, suitably attired!
And some more general views of the party:




Saturday, October 16, 2010

Turf Club's 25th anniversary

Today marks the 25th anniversary of my "home away from home," the World Famous Turf Club. It's in downtown Hayward, CA, and is the only "gay bar" left in town. I use the term "gay bar" in quotes because, while people use the term familiarly, that really isn't the main focus these days - and that's as it should be. I'm always fascinated by the dichotomy of gay people wanting to be in the mainstream, yet when it comes to revered institutions like "their" bars, then they want exactly the opposite: a sense of exclusivity. C'mon, guys - it's one or the other, otherwise you're just being hypocritical.

The Turf is a wonderfully supportive community of like-minded people - gay, straight, ambisexual, whatever, who cares. LGBTQQWTF! From charity events to just plain having fun, you can find it all here. So, if you ever wander off the beaten path into Hayward, give it a whirl. (Tonight promises to be a blast because of the celebration - they're going all out to make this a night to remember.)

I could point out all of its attributes, but ya gotta see it for yourself to really appreciate it. The huge patio is being upgraded, and they are about to install a permanent outdoor bar on the top deck, in the Tiki Hut. This nighttime picture of the bottom section is a few months old, but it gives you some idea of the atmosphere. (And no, I'm not a shill for the place ... I just happen to really like it!)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Christine O'Donnell - another Sarah Palin?

During the recent debate between senatorial candidates in Delaware, our new Republican idiot, Christine O'Donnell, displayed an appalling ignorance of Supreme Court cases. This is astonishing; you would think that she at least had done enough homework to answer a question that had a high likelihood of being asked, particularly since she has been so critical of so-called "activist judges" and has expressed unhappiness about the recent California Supreme Court decision on DADT.

I'll let the transcript speak for itself:
--------------------------------
Nancy Karibjanian: What opinions, of late, that have come from our high court, do you most object to?

O'Donnell: Oh, gosh. Um, give me a specific one. I'm sorry.

Karibjanian: Actually, I can't, because I need you to tell me which ones you object to.

O'Donnell: Um, I'm very sorry, right off the top of my head, I know that there are a lot, but I'll put it up on my website, I promise you.

Wolf Blitzer: We know that you disagree with Roe v Wade.

O'Donnell: Yeah, but she said a recent one.

Blitzer: That's relatively recent.

O'Donnell: She said "of late." But yeah. Well, Roe v Wade would not put the power - it's not recent, it's 30-something years old...

Blitzer: But since then, have there been any other Supreme Court decisions?

O'Donnell: Well, let me say about Roe v Wade - if that were overturned, would not make abortion illegal in the United States, it would put the power back to the states.

Blitzer: But besides that decision, anything else you disagree with?

O'Donnell: Oh, there are several when it comes to pornography, when it comes to court decisions - not to Supreme Court, but federal court decisions to give terrorists Mirandize rights. There are a lot of things I believe - this California decision to overturn Don't Ask, Don't Tell. I believe there are a lot of federal judges legislating from the bench.

Blitzer: That wasn't the Supreme Court. That was a lower...

O'Donnell: That was a federal judge. That's what I said. In California.
--------------------------------
While she promised to update us on this issue on her websites, thus far I have not been able to find anything, either here or here.
UPDATE: While Christine has not personally responded (as she promised), this post is, I guess, the closest we'll get. It is, of course, nothing but pure bafflegab from one of her minions, wherein she has apparently changed her mind, now saying that she is OK with "recent" Supreme Court decisions. She attributes this change of heart to the fact that Roberts and Alito are now Supremes, conveniently ignoring the fact that they joined the court in 2005 and 2006, respectively. Newsflash for Christine: This is 2010. Not only that, but since she acknowledged that Roe v Wade is "30-something years old," you would think that she could name at least one case she has a problem with during the intervening 25-"something" years!
UPDATE AGAIN: Bill Maher, on his show this week, mentioned this, and commented that it's easy to promise an update on the website, and then do some creative copy-paste from Wikipedia. How true. How sad.

It's also illuminating to read her political viewpoints, not to mention her personal ones! Let's see. Masturbation: bad. Witchcraft: good. Evolution: bad! There's lots more. The Huffington Post always has some interesting comments. Or just Google her (no thanks!).

So there you have it. Just like the time when Katie Couric asked Sarah Palin (Christine's, erm, mentor) to name a recent Supreme Court case (besides Roe v Wade), and was not able to. Oh dear. Of course, this was yet another reason for Christine to have done her homework - if sister Sarah was tripped up, she really should have anticipated this question!