Sunday, November 09, 2008

Devil's Tower, Newark

Just like on the movie. Close Encou ters Of The Third Kind, someone in
Newark, NJ has been visited by alien life forms. Howeve, unlike the
sculpture of Devil's Tower Roy Neary builds in his living room out of
potting soil, this one is built out of the remains of the Westinghouse
factory that used to Occupy the space you can see right there. I'll
dig up some pics later to add to this post showing the building where
it used to stand. Until Then, enjoy this glorious image of a mountain
of debris that has stood now for almost two months, with no sign of
ever going away. Enjoy...

NYC Chocolate Show

Well... Some piccies from the NYC Chocolate Show. We only stayed here
about an hour before discovering there was a much more exciting wine
and nibblies show called Taste. Om nom non nom!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Being a Brit in America

Today's Terror Level is somewhere between Bert and Ernie. In NYC, we're still on a constant state of Bert. Can't wait until this War on Terror is won, so we can go back to Cookie Monster. I miss living in Cookie Monster's world. Back in Britain, I've just read that the Terror Alert level has dropped from A Bit Cross, to Irritated.
Okay, some things I've learned since moving to the US.
I've always been a bit of an accent chameleon. Though there was a weird time when my carefully-learned middle-class North London accent started slipping into a country-fied Norwich accent (not bath, not barth, but baaath, no idea why), and people from Norf London didn't believe I came from there. Anywho, I've been here for 10 years and still have a mostly British accent but I speak fluent American. Don't want to be accused of being a typical Brit refusing to learn the local language.
I've learned how to say tom-ay-to. I've learned that words with T's in the middle, like 'butter' or 'water', are pronouned with a D: 'budda', 'wadder'. I've learned that here in the North East, all non-alcoholic beverages to the exclusion of wadder are sodas. I've also learned that if you want to catch up with US popular culture of the 70's, 80's and 90's that you may have missed by not being here, you watch VH1, like 24/7. There's nothing worse than sitting in a bar while five guys talk about how great Jimmy Buffet is, and not having a frigging clue what they're on about. Now I know, see, and I realize that Jimmy Buffet makes me want to scrub my brain with a brillo pad.

Unusually, whenever I go back to the UK, my accent goes all Cockney, and I never spoke like that before. It's like I'm overcompensating in order not to get screwed over by cab drivers, but end up doing it all the time. It works both ways, actually. When travelling with my American wife, and we need to know how something new works, like the Oyster card, I can get her to ask about it. She'll get the most useful information, as she's a tourist, and has an accent. I'll get nothing, as I have an overblown mockney accent, and everyone presumes I know all there is to know about everything. Over here, when dealing with counter staff, or children, my accent tends to head closer to the US shore, simply because I don't need the hassle. In the end it's all about the hassle. I'm in a rush, I need someone to understand me instantly, I'll slip over to the appropriate accent.
More than anything, I miss British humour. We can get quite a lot of stuff on YouTube: Little Britain, The Fast Show, Spaced, stuff like that. And there's a lot of really crap shows like Are You Being Served? and Keeping Up Appearances, and whatnot. But most of all it's the stuff you forget about because you simply don't find it here. Like these letters from Viz magazine.
I just saw a van drive by with the company name 'Seafood Solutions'. I must admit, I didn't know seafood was a problem.
Martin Kristos

It is said that gentlemen prefer blondes. I hope then that lesbians prefer brunettes, otherwise we might have to organise some kind of
rota system.
Johnny Pring

I'm beginning to think there may be something in this climate change after all. Four months ago it was very cold and now it's quite warm.
Alan Heath

A woman whose daughter was hospitalised in a US tornado told ITV News that "God would make her better." presumably, that's a different God
from the one that almost killed her with a tornado.
M Lovejoy

"She can dish it out, but she cannot take it", I once heard someone say of me. And it's true - I'm a school dinner lady and I'm allergic
to mashed potatoes.
Mrs Pinches, Hereford

I heard on the news that the January storms had cost this country a billion pounds. What an utter waste of money. If anything, they did
more harm than good.
S Prodnipple, Scarborough

So Princes Harry and William are throwing a party to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their mother's death. I'm glad that they can
finally laugh about it, but throwing a party seems a bit harsh.
D Antarctica, Rhyll

I think Sir Paul McCartney should try to put his current predicament into perspective. In olden days, if you were unfortunate enough to be
robbed by an omniped, it would almost certainly be a pirate. At least he's going to come out of this alive.
Stella Matlock

What is it with diabetics? One minute they're on the floor with a loved one standing by screaming "Give him some chocolate! Give him
some chocolate!" The next day someone offers them a piece of chocolate and quick as a flash they say "No thanks, I'm diabetic." I wish they'd
get their story straight.
T Potter

Yesterday I received an e-mail from a bored housewife looking for some action. Eager to please the young lady I sent her my ironing. That
should keep her quiet for a while.

THIS new police knife amnesty is a bloody nightmare. I dutifully handed all my knives in and now I've got nothing to eat my dinner
Richard Karslake, Oxfordshire

TO THE zookeeper in 1978 who replied "I'll tell you when you're older" when I asked him why one of the monkeys stuck its tongue up another
one's arse: I'm 36 now and still waiting for that explanation.
Joe McKeown

I HAVE just returned from a diplomatic trip to the Congo and I can testify that at no point did I see anyone drinking Um Bongo.
Neil Palmer

I'M A terrorist, and when ID cards come into force I will probably employ great cunning and not declare that as my job. I'll probably say
I'm a grocer or something.
A Terrorist

WHY DON'T NHS bosses start hiring obsessive compulsives as nurses? Their attention to hygiene and constant hand washing would see an end
to MRSA outbreaks in no time.
Stu Bray

'Alton Towers - Where the magic never ends', or so the commercial says. Imagine my disappointment when it closed at 7.30.
Colum Hill

'Tonight there's gonna be a jailbreak', sang Thin Lizzy in 1976, 'somewhere in this town'. Well, I'm guessing it's going to be at the prison.
There are many times when Americans like to lord it over us Brits. They like to remind us that we'd be speaking German if it wasn't for them. They like to tell us having a President is better than having a Queen. That being a citizen is better than being a subject. And going to the dentist is better than not going to the dentist. Stuff like that. My brother-in-law used to make fun of our TV. "You've only got, what, like, three channels?" I'd remind him it's five, and that he only has seven. The rest are cable channels, and we have hundreds of those. I also remind him that we had satellite TV about 10 years before the US really did, and we're going digital first, and my Mum had a cellphone before his Mom... But then I realise I'm heading towards what can only be described as a Pointless War of National Pride, and I try to save my PWoNP's for the French. Especially after seeing Henry V.
usually don't hear anything from anyone, really, until July 4th. Every year, my father-in-law and his friends will hold beers aloft and yell, "Down with British Tyranny!", then jocularly elbow me in the rib. I'm pretty used to it now, after almost 10 years, but if anyone does say anything else, I usually say, "The US is like a petulant first girlfriend. Sure, she says she dumped me, but really I was just looking for an excuse to dump her. So she goes away and does her own thing and I don't think much of her for a while, 'cause I have, like, about 50 different girlfriends all on the go at once. Then they all start finding out about each other and I'm getting dumped right, left and center, and sure enough, there she is, strutting about, being all high and mighty and saying 'I told you so' and whatnot, and acting like she's better than me and all the other girlfriends. And I'm like, nuh-uh! And she's like, for sure! Then one day I get the shite kicked out of me, and next thing I know, she's nuking Japan and that, and I'm like... WOAH! Can't we just be friends? So we've been kinda dating on and off since then."
Like I said, it's all about the hassle.
I've been holding off on posting this entry for way too long. Time to send it off. In parting, I'd like to leave you with yet another Doctor Phil McGraw quote. Dr. Phil reminds me of The Sphinx from the vastly underrated Mystery Men. I used to think he was straight-talking, and deep. Then he got his own show, and now I've realised he's just plain dumb.
Dr. Phil says: Sometimes you just got to give yourself what you wish someone else would give you.
Too true, Dr. Phil. Too true.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Discussing The Downfall Of Radio

TuneLab Music - Everything That Rocks » Discussing The Downfall Of Radio

This is a pretty interesting article here discussing how modern rock radio, and by extension, all niche-market radio in the US, is failing its audience by playing mostly tracks by artists that are five or more years old. "Did radio get stuck in the 90's?" the author asks. Well, yes and no. You'll find that it has less to do with the programming directors choice of music, and more to do with whether or not you can attract an audience that are old enough to buy beer.

From the Broadcast Law Blog article above: "While there are no laws specifically prohibiting the advertising of beer on radio stations with younger audiences, the Federal Trade Commission and Congress have been very concerned about all alcohol advertising, especially advertising that appears to encourage under-aged drinking. Thus, to avoid regulation, the Beer Institute has adopted voluntary standards that require its members to advertise only on radio stations which have an audience that is at least 70% comprised of those older than the legal drinking age."

Apparently that 70%, while it does not correlate perfectly with TuneLab's findings of roughly 50% of all modern rock radio tracks being over 5 years old, is still a big reason why we don't hear many newer acts on radio these days. Modern rock radio has shifted to a more adult-oriented format, because that's what brings the big alcohol sponsorship in. It's a big shame, as Jay points out, because in 5 years time, there will be less of todays music to pull from to attract the same audience, as less of todays music is getting airplay now. Eventually, I can imagine, there will simply be a station that plays nothing but Nirvana, Chili Peppers (post-Blood Sugar Sex Magic), Stone Temple Pilots and Pearl Jam. We're pretty close to that already.

"If you want more, you have to require more from yourself." I have no idea what you're talking about, Dr. Phil.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Things I Never Realised as a Child

When you're a kid, you just seem to take things as presented to you, without much in the way of judgement. Now, I really don't want to turn into a Daily Mail reader, constantly banging on about how things were better in my day, and that the world is being Elmo-fied from childhood up, but seriously... How can you not when you read stories like this?
"Nothing in the children's entertainment of today, candy-colored animation hopped up on computer tricks, can prepare young or old for this frightening glimpse of simpler times. Back then - as on the very first episode, which aired on PBS Nov. 10, 1969 - a pretty, lonely girl like Sally might find herself befriended by an older male stranger who held her hand and took her home. Granted, Gordon just wanted Sally to meet his wife and have some milk and cookies, but . . . well, he could have wanted anything. As it was, he fed her milk and cookies. The milk looks dangerously whole."
"So many too choose from. The crows are very specifically depicted as poor and uneducated. They're constantly smoking; they wear pimptastic hats; and they're experts on all things "fly," so it's really a team effort contributing to the general minstrel-show feel to the whole number. You could pretty much pause this video at any second and use it as evidence in your hate-crime lawsuit against Disney."
"In Who Wants A Dragon? - published by Orchard Books last year - Ms Gardiner says: "I was told, 'You can't have the dragon breathing fire because it goes against health and safety.'

"It doesn't really make any sense."

Deep breaths, CTB, deep breaths. Let me leave you, instead, with a moment of clarity from Doctor Phil.
Awareness without action is worthless.
Exactly, Herr Doktor. Exactly.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Free Speech, Religion, and a Headline I Thought I'd Never See

One thing that constantly surprises me about the US is the addiction to religion. Growing up in Britain makes you the equivalent of agnostic in the US, even if you do believe in a higher power, and I often find myself outraged by the constant evangelizing and proselytizing all around me. In the morning, on TV, there will be as many channels running Christian programming as there will be running news and weather reports. The news itself is filled with stories of religious outrage or indignation about some minor event or another. In some areas of the country, one of the first questions when you meet a new person is "which church do you belong to?". When you grow up in a country where the stock answer to this question is "The Church of Pub", it takes a little getting used to.
Two stories in the news recently (this post got lost in the mail before I could post it) have highlighted the quandary I have between proselytizing and freedom of speech. In Indiana, a mother is complaining that a school board's introduction of a school uniform has infringed her daughter's right to wear t-shirts with a Christian message to school. In Colorado, a girl who inserted an unapproved message encouraging students to convert to Christianity in her commencement speech is suing her school board for threatening to withhold her diploma until she apologized to the entire school. I'm happy for these people for whom religion really means everything, but in a country that is supposedly 80% Christian, what do you have to prove? And who are you proving it to? Taking the first article here as an example, the school board has set a uniform for all the students to wear. It's a polo shirt and khakis. Really simple. You can buy 20 variations of that uniform from Old Navy for about $100. But she wants to wear a t-shirt. Okay.
"The school is basically saying I can't wear a shirt that talks about Jesus or Christ or God or any religious type of T-shirt because we have to wear a polo," Brittany said.
No. The school is basically saying you can't wear a t-shirt AT ALL. Suck it Brittany, you spoiled little cow. Wear your martyr-shirt after school, for Chrissakes, like EVERY OTHER KID HAS TO. Brandon can't wear his Slipknot t-shirt, LaDamon can't wear his $80 Sean John t-shirt and little Madison can't wear her Hello Kitty t-shirt, either, so suck it up and move on. Sure, it would be better if there was no uniform, that you could wear what you want. My high school didn't have a uniform. Lots of others around where I grew up did. You know what, the kids that go to those schools wear it, because they have to. They don't want to, but they do. In fact, it's such a normal thing, that it hardly ever even gets discussed. They're not banning Christmas, they're not out to stop you from spreading the word of the lord, they're not darksiders. Just go to school, show up to class and STFU, already, okay?
Ahem. Anyway. Yeah. Weird country, the US, filled with individuals with a massive sense of unbridled entitlement. But thene again, you probably already knew that, right?
Finally, the headline I never thought I'd see. Coogan Could Sue Courtney. I mean, seriously. Who the hell would connect the dots between Owen "The Butterscotch Stallion" Wilson, Kurt Cobain's widow and Alan bloody Partridge?

$250,000 won't get you to Central Park West? Personally I use a $2 metrocard and the C train.

This really appeared on the Women Seeking Men section of the Craigslist Personals in New York. The ad is a classic case of someone who has spent far too much time watching Sex and the City, and wants the Manolo Blahnicks without having to work for them. The response that follows, luckily, has restored my faith in humanity once more.

What am I doing wrong?

Okay, I'm tired of beating around the bush. I'm a beautiful (spectacularly beautiful) 25 year old girl. I'm articulate and classy. I'm not from New York. I'm looking to get married to a guy who makes at   least half a million a year. I know how that sounds, but keep in mind that a million a year is middle class in New York City, so I don't think I'm overreaching at all.

Are there any guys who make 500K or more on this board? Any wives? Could you send me some tips? I dated a business man who makes average around  200 - 250. But that's where I seem to hit a roadblock. 250,000 won't get  me to central park west. I know a woman in my yoga class who was married  to an investment banker and lives in Tribeca, and she's not as pretty as  I am, nor is she a great genius. So what is she doing right? How do I  get to her level?

Here are my questions specifically:

- Where do you single rich men hang out? Give me specifics- bars, restaurants, gyms

- What are you looking for in a mate? Be honest guys, you won't hurt my feelings

- Is there an age range I should be targeting (I'm 25)?

- Why are some of the women living lavish lifestyles on the upper east side so plain? I've seen really 'plain jane' boring types who have nothing to offer married to incredibly wealthy guys. I've seen drop dead gorgeous girls in singles bars in the east village. What's the story there?

- Jobs I should look out for? Everyone knows - lawyer, investment banker, doctor. How much do those guys really make? And where do they hang out? Where do the hedge fund guys hang out?

- How you decide marriage vs. just a girlfriend? I am looking for MARRIAGE ONLY

Please hold your insults - I'm putting myself out there in an honest way. Most beautiful women are superficial; at least I'm being up front about it. I wouldn't be searching for these kind of guys if I wasn't able to match them - in looks, culture, sophistication, and keeping a nice home and hearth.

* it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

PostingID: 432279810

 Dear Pers-431649184:
I read your posting with great interest and have thought meaningfully about your dilemma. I offer the following analysis of your predicament. Firstly, I'm not wasting your time, I qualify as a guy who fits your
bill; that is I make more than $500K per year. That said here's how I see it.

Your offer, from the prospective of a guy like me, is plain and simple a  crappy business deal. Here's why. Cutting through all the B.S., what you suggest is a simple trade: you bring your looks to the party and I bring
my money. Fine, simple. But here's the rub, your looks will fade and my money will likely continue into fact, it is very likely that my income increases but it is an absolute certainty that you won't
be getting any more beautiful!

So, in economic terms you are a depreciating asset and I am an earning asset. Not only are you a depreciating asset, your depreciation accelerates! Let me explain, you're 25 now and will likely stay pretty
hot for the next 5 years, but less so each year. Then the fade begins in earnest. By 35 stick a fork in you!

So in Wall Street terms, we would call you a trading position, not a buy and hold...hence the rub...marriage. It doesn't make good business sense to "buy you" (which is what you're asking) so I'd rather lease. In case
you think I'm being cruel, I would say the following. If my money were to go away, so would you, so when your beauty fades I need an out. It's as simple as that. So a deal that makes sense is dating, not marriage.

Separately, I was taught early in my career about efficient markets. So, I wonder why a girl as "articulate, classy and spectacularly beautiful" as you has been unable to find your sugar daddy. I find it hard to
believe that if you are as gorgeous as you say you are that the $500K hasn't found you, if not only for a tryout.

By the way, you could always find a way to make your own money and then we wouldn't need to have this difficult conversation.

With all that said, I must say you're going about it the right way. Classic "pump and dump." I hope this is helpful, and if you want to enter into some sort of lease, let me know. 

Monday, October 01, 2007

Special driver's licenses to be issued to sex offenders


Tallahassee, Florida - There's a new law to help protect your kids against sex offenders.

School safety is top priority for many parents. Some schools already have security systems like the "Raptor" which can do quick visitor background checks to identify sex offenders.

But there's a new and faster way authorities hope to keep your little ones safe.

"Starting August 1st, anyone with a Florida driver's license or identification card will have a new designation on their driver's license or identification cards if they have been convicted as a sexual predator or offender," said Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Public Information Officer Ann Nucatola.

That new driver's license has a marking on the bottom right-hand corner with a special number identifying the law that particular sex offender violated.

Hmm... This is a little old now, but...

Okay here are some thoughts.

Once anyone is on that registry their life is over. You may as well shoot them as put them on that registry. If they're such a risk to society that they must be monitored like a good little Soviet for the rest of their life may as well be locked up for that time.

As a deterrant, it's useful, don't get me wrong. But not even murderers get the kind of treatment after they have served their time that sex offenders get. Those convicted in the Nuremburg trials didn't go on a registry after release (for those who were). What's worse, is that the range and breadth of that offense and subsequent monitoring is only ever going to grow.

Let's take this news story from a couple of months ago:

Family says I-4 rage led to mooning
SANFORD - A family driving west on Interstate 4 in a silver Mercedes-Benz on Sunday evening made the men in the black Chevrolet Tahoe mad.

The Mercedes had cut them off, the Tahoe's driver later told a Seminole County deputy, so front-seat passenger John Thomas Taylor dropped his pants and mooned the family, including their 14-year-old son, according to a Sheriff's Office report.


If convicted of the charge alleged by the Sheriff's Office, Taylor could face up to 15 years in prison and forever be identified as a sex offender.

So, if the first article is true, by the time the I-4 "mooner" goes to trial, if convicted, he will end up with a permanent mark on his driver's license for everyone to see. These days you need your license to travel, buy cigarettes and beer, pick up a prescription, heck here in New Park Slope you can barely use a dry cleaning service or return an unwanted gift to Ann Taylor without having to provide your license. Everyone's going have him labeled as a flasher. He won't be able to live near a school or a park with a playground, which in many places means he can't live in a town. If he has kids, he can't pick them up from school, or attend his children's graduation. And I'm using the term "his" interchangeably.

I was thinking about not posting this as I don't want to come off as defending sex offenders, as I'm not. There are a group of people out there that are vile and should go to jail, directly, without passing go or collecting diddley-squat. I just hate the registry, and wish there was some better way we could protect people rather than lumping anyone caught peeing behind a tree in the same bucket as child-molestors and having them tagged, filed and monitored like pound dogs for the rest of their lives. Kill them, lock them up until they die, or let them free, but this bizarre half-freedom we've given them doesn't help anyone, IMO.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Media Bias Survey Heavily Biased

I just filled out the above survey by the company Polling Point. It was about whether opr not we perceive bias in US TV news.
After filling out the entire survey, I found they had a feedback form at the end. This is what I had to tell them, and I never leave feedback for surveys.
Your poll has pre-concluded that there should only be two parties in US politics, and only two forms of political opinion, which skews the data. There are no choices of any other political persuasion until the final political question, forcing the questionee to give either possibly conflicting data, or data that is flatly incorrect. Choice A/Choice/don't know, is not the same as Choice A/Choice B/None of the above (please specify). You may want to take a look at that.
Also, you have mislabeled CNN as a major network. It is a cable channel, a 24 hour news channel, which ABC/NBC/CBS is not. I'm assuming that the FOX option was for the FOX network, and not the Fox News Channel, which should not be listed as a major network, either. The FOX network, of course, doesn't have a national news program, which also skews your data.
Finally, your list of news anchors is skewed. Bill O'Reilly, as contemptible as he may be, is not a news anchor like Brian Williams. His show is an Op/Ed show, not a news broadcast. No anchors for Fox News Channel are given in comparison to Brian Williams. Likewise with Wolf Blitzer for CNN. I'm quite sure that your survey will exemplify network news over Fox News, and it's no surprise, as the survey itself is biased. I have signed up for weekly surveys, but will quickly unsubscribe if the underlying agenda of the surveys are quite so blatant as this one's is. And, for the record, I have no love at all for Fox News.
Those crazy guys! They biased their survey about media bias. One of the people they compared Brian Williams to was Jon Stewart. Of course we're all going to vote for Jon Stewart. Silly, silly, people...