7
Sep
2010

Wouldn’t you think if you were a known author you might be a bit more measured in your comments in public?  Perhaps I am giving too much credit to people that write novels, but that would at least be my thought process.

While going through my holiday weekend, a long time friend of mine retweeted a message on Twitter with the purpose of making sure I saw it.  The message was fairly random, and I still have no clue what prompted such a comment, but here is what it said.

Attn bloggers:making lists is not writing.Listing things in order is what they have slow kids do to determine if a helmet is needed.

This message came from Christopher Moore, an author who has made it on to The New York Times bestseller list according to his website.  Why do I say “according to his website”?  Because I’ve never heard of him, but hey, congrats to him for making the list, it’s no small feat.

However, as someone who has written somewhere near 500 lists, I took offense.  I didn’t take offense at saying it isn’t writing, but I felt that the additional little stab about it being “what they have slow kids do to determine if a helmet is needed” was a bit over the top.

So, being me, yeah, I had to respond.

@TheAuthorGuy as a professional blogger who has been assigned over 500 lists in his career, don’t knock work you don’t know, sir.

My thinking was he should at least be aware that there are people out there who work on lists, but whatever, I went to bed and figured it was over with.

Oh no, he had to respond, and instead of going, “Oh, okay” or just acknowledging it, no, he had to continue his thought process.

@seanpaune I didn’t say making lists wasn’t work. I said it wasn’t writing. Thanks for making my point

Huh?  Because I used the word “work”?  Who knows, we’re communicating at 140 characters at a time, it isn’t like we can engage in deep thought.  But, oh well, now he’s annoyed me.

@TheAuthorGuy Well next time a magazine such as Time or Wired runs a list, I’ll be sure to notify them of your disapproval.

Again, I’m ready to move on, I have this thing called “work” to do.  Oh, and no, I wasn’t working on a list, I was writing an opinion piece at the time, but again Mr. Moore had to see how far in his mouth he could stick his foot.

@seanpaune Lazy editing is lazy editing. It’s how editors fill space without having to think. Enjoy your helmet.

Okay, where do you start with this one.

  1. Speaking as the Editor-in-Chief of a technology site, and the former Managing Editor of another site, I can tell you there are a lot of reasons we publish lists.  It has nothing to do with how we “fill space” or “lazy editing”.  It has to do with the fact that they are popular with readers, are often the articles that receive the most comments and we actually get requests for them.
  2. If they were space fillers as Mr. Moore seems to think, then by golly I have been paid really, really well to just fill up space with filler content.

Do I even need to address his comment about me enjoying my helmet?  Yep, he just called me “slow” in a roundabout way.  So, yeah, perhaps I got a tad bit personal in my next response

@TheAuthorGuy the world really needed more vampire novels. Guess it makes it easier for you to spot lazy …

What can I say, if you imply I’m special and belittle my work, I might just have something to say about yours.  I rapidly sent another message.

@TheAuthorGuy BTW, I put out about 2300 non-list posts in the last 12 months. Danny my laziness.

Yes, yes, my phone and auto-correct doomed me by changing “Damn” to “Danny”, but I happened to be walking out the door at the time.  At some point you would think this guy might rethink attacking the livelihood of someone when he has obviously not thought things through.  There are reasons lists get made, but whatever, he wants to continue making an ass out of himself.

@seanpaune This is where you want to make your stand, on the literary integrity of list-making?

Did I at any time suggest that lists had literary integrity?  Nope.  Did I suggest he didn’t know what he was talking about?  Yep.  So, yes, I sent another message.

@TheAuthorGuy excuse me, but you decided to attack lists and somehow I’m the crazy one for defending? Did a list kill a family member?

I was at the point of wanting to know what exactly prompted this guy’s anger towards lists.  Yes, yes, my tongue was firmly planted in my cheek, but anyone who knows me knows I can’t be serious for long stretches of time.  But, instead of an explanation, I get some sort of acknowledgement that “I won”.

@seanpaune Okay, you win. I can’t figure out who Danny is.

Not that I was looking for a declaration of winning, and bringing up an obvious typo from a site the restricts you to 140 characters … woo, you got me there Mr. Moore.  By this point I was at the gym and couldn’t be bothered to care any more.

I understand Mr. Moore is a “humor” writer (he named a female vampire character “Abby Normal” … excuse me while I hold my sides from the laughter … okay, done), but comparing people who write lists to “slow kids” was just insulting and in poor taste on so many levels that I can’t possibly conceive how any professional author of any repute would think that was a wise comment.

I have made it my stock-and-trade on this blog to comment on stupidity I see in the world, especially in the entertainment industries, I have even called decisions “stupid”, but I don’t believe I have ever suggested that someone is “slow” or suggested that enjoy wearing a helmet.  Mr. Moore doesn’t like lists, and that’s his right.  However, when you just randomly come out with a declaration such as this, you have to expect someone to take you to task over it.  Every time I say something on this site, I am fully aware that someone may comment with an opposing opinion, and some of them I agree with, some of them I don’t, but I expect it because I put myself out there.  If you do something similar, you have to expect someone to comment back, but responding by insulting and antagonizing them?  Classy, Mr. Moore, classy.

Not only are you a best selling author Mr. Moore, but for crying out loud you’re 53-years-old, aren’t you above schoolyard insults by this point?

Oh, wait, I’m arguing with someone that thinks “Abby Normal” is the height of punny humor.  My bad.

6
Sep
2010

Here we go again, another town is going to be levying fines and community service at people who wear baggy pants. Really? This is what you are doing with governmental time in a time of financial crisis? Wow.

According to CNN, the city of Dublin, GA will begin fining people $25 for the first offense of wearing pants or skirts that fall more than three inches below their hips, exposing flesh or under garments.  On the second offense you will be fined $200, and both offenses carry the possibility of community service time with them.

baggy pantsDidn’t I already write up this story in 2008? Oh yes, I did, except it was in Florida.

Since I already expressed my exasperation with the insanity of such laws back at that time, let me wonder this time why clothing laws stop a sagging pants.  In the case of the city of Dublin they are counting it as indecent exposure, so lets wonder about some other possible cases, shall we?

  • When will women who expose their bra straps be fined?
  • As I noted last time I wrote this story up, what about women who wear corsets as a top to go out?
  • Plumbers are well known for exposing their butt cracks while working, I assume those fines will be beginning at any moment now.
  • Laying out in a bikini in your front yard?
  • Going around town in just a bikini top?
  • Women who wear a top cut too low?  Will we begin measuring the amount of cleavage, and will it be based on a percentage of cup size?  (I.E. four inches on an A cup is a world of difference to that of a D cup)
  • Men walking around with no shirt on.
  • What about women who go out in public wearing men’s boxer shorts?  (I live in a college town, you wouldn’t believe how much of this actually goes on)

How are baggy pants riding low any different than the things I just listed?  I think baggy pants are idiotic, but at the same time someone may think the way I wear a certain piece of clothing is equally idiotic.

People claim this is offensive and indecent … I suggest you get a new sense of decency.  There is actually far worse going on around you than the baggy pants, but for whatever reason you choose to ignore all of those things.  How about this wild idea that you just keep it with it so long as no sexual anatomy is shown, it’s good enough.  Spending time, effort and government funds on enforcement of some sort of dress code is waste at its best.  You have absolutely nothing better to do with your time?  Bull.

Although I am still fully in favor of arresting frat boys who “pop the colla”.

29
Aug
2010

Apparently these is absolutely no limit to what governments think they can tax, but when a state passes a tax that is so obviously directed at one city, it just becomes insulting.

State legislators in Albany, New York decided to classify a sliced bagel as a “prepared food”.  This means that if you go into a bakery and buy a bagel whole, there is no tax on it, but if you ask them to slice it for you it turns into a prepared food and that means it will receive roughly $.08 in tax.  If you choose to eat the bagel in the store, sliced or un-sliced, that is also an $.08 tax.  However, if you buy a loaf of bread from bakery and have it sliced … no tax.

Huh?

How is slicing a bagel different than slicing a loaf of bread?  Well, I’ll tell you how, and it is what really got my ire up even more so than just the tax.

When you think New York City, bagels almost immediately pop into mind.  It is one food that is almost synonymous with the city, just as is their pizza by the slice.  However, if you go into other parts of New York state, sure you can find bagels, but there is no where near the proliferation you will find in the city.  Now, loaves of bread?  Well, those are sold everywhere under the sun and … you get the idea.

Essentially New York state legislators just taxed New York City for its love of a food that it is known for.  Yes, there will be instances of it happening outside of the five Burroughs, but nowhere near the amount of tax that can be collected just off of the city proper.

Way to go New York, you almost rank up there with Philadelphia now with its blogger license.

19
Aug
2010

When you think of Las Vegas, what first pops into your head? If their advertising is doing its job, you think of the slogan, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”  You think gambling, gangsters, the Rat Pack, bodies in the desert, legal whore houses (outside of Las Vegas proper) and so on … and, oh yeah, those evil, evil hula hoops!

The Las Vegas City Council wants to ban hula hoops from the area known as the Fremont Street Experience.  Apparently there is talk of restricting people to doing it in something called “free expression zones” so that they don’t impede pedestrian traffic walking through the tourist attraction.  As with any pubic decision like this, there are lots of comments on both sides, and they both make valid arguments, but then you go “… wait a minute … this is Vegas!”

It seems skateboarding and roller blades have already been banned from the area, and hula hoops are being used in promotions for businesses in the area, which drew the attention.  The new rules would restrict people with hula hoops to a 12′ x 100′ area, but some people are saying this is a restriction of free speech/freedom of expression.  You know, I’m all for free speech, but … um … it’s a freakin’ hula hoop.

If this happened anywhere else in the country it would just be ignored, but when you’re a city known for your decadence, then this just gets plain old funny.  Next they’ll be banning Elvis impersonators!

16
Aug
2010

It would appear the new fun thing for female sexual perverts to do is to pose as teenage boys on social networks and try to lure young girls into their webs of deceit.

Last week I told you the story of Patricia Dye and how she lured teen girls into her life by posing as a teen boy.  She got away with dating multiple teen girls by posing as a boy named Matt Abrams, and not revealing she was a woman to her victims in spite of sexual acts having occurred.

Very rarely do you hear about women omitting sex crimes, but now having a second story to you about such a subject in under a week seems to indicate the number of women doing this is on the rise.  The newest woman accused of such acts is Alexsa Mirabal, 31-years-old from Roy, NV, who appears to have posed on social networking site MySpace for quite some time to lure young girls into relationships with her.

Ms. Mirabal took on the guise of “Alex”, a teenage boy, to talk with the young girls, and even went so far as to talk to the mother of one of the girls on the phone, successfully convincing her that she was a boy instead of her true gender.  She apparently dated one of the girls for two years, only revealing her gender to the girl when they met for their first date, but by that time the girl was so enamored with “Alex” that she went out on the date with her anyway, leading to the lengthy relationship.

Apparently the police learned of Ms. Mirabal when a second teen girl came forward out of jealousy learning that the accused was seeing both of them at the same time.

Normally this is where I would make some comments about this case in this space, but a comment on one news story got me to doing some research, and there appears to be some mental issues going on here that date back to Ms. Mirabal’s teens.  It certainly doesn’t excuse her actions, but you have to wonder a bit as to what exactly is going on.  From what I can gather, she was lured in by an older woman in her teen years and ended up sticking with her.  Of course the old saying of “two wrongs don’t make a right” pops into my head at this point, but it appears this may not be as cut-and-dry as most of the news stories are making it out to be.

Whatever the case ends up being here, you do have to kind of wonder about the sudden uptick in female lesbian predators.

[Hat tip to Mark 'Rizzn' Hopkins for bringing this case to my attention]

8
Aug
2010

Have you ever had a birthday cake that was so bad that you were still trying to get the taste out of your mouth 12 hours after eating it?  I can now check this off my list.

While my family was home for my birthday on July 20th, since there were leaving the next morning, I asked them to not get a birthday cake until they got back so I wouldn’t be left with all the leftovers to deal with.  Being on a diet, a birthday cake is bad enough to deal with, but being left with all of the leftovers would have killed me.

On Friday night I needed to run to Walmart, and mom asked me to grab a birthday cake for my delayed birthday dinner.  Normally we buy cakes from a mid-western grocery store chain named Hy-Vee, but since I was going to Walmart any way, why not get it there?  I picked one out, and while it didn’t look quite as good as a Hy-Vee cake, it looked fine.

I get home, mom and I have a piece (dad skips) and it tasted a bit minty while eating it, but not horrible.  I was sadly unimpressed and regretted not making a side trip to Hy-Vee, but oh well.  And then it began … 10 minutes later I could still taste it … 20 minutes later and my mouth felt greasy … 30 minutes later I’m eating stuff to try to cover this horrible taste in my mouth.  I drink a cup of hot tea, I brush my teeth and so on, and the taste just will not go away.  I finally go to bed, figuring it will have to stop feeling like my mouth is coated in oil by the next morning.

WRONG!  I wake up the next morning still being able to taste it.  Although we had eaten two pieces of it, we opted to return it, and that’s where it gets worse.

My father took it back, and as the door greeter asked him what was wrong, dad told him and the employee went off about the bakery and how they need to be told they make garbage … lovely.  Dad goes to the returns desk, tells them the story, and dad makes a comment about it being so bad that it almost had to be intentionally messed up, and to his shock the returns desk person goes, “I wouldn’t be too surprised by that.”

Okay, if two employees aren’t shocked by accusations such as this, and instead seem to take it in stride and agree with you, perhaps you need to be talking with your bakery about reviewing its products and improving?  I mean, call me crazy if you must, but this is just silly.  We called and talked to the store manager and all that got us was an apology (we weren’t looking for anything financial as they had allowed us to return the cake), but not even a “perhaps it’s time we reviewed the bakery,” or anything else.

At least I have a Hy-Vee cake now … and the taste of Hell Cake is almost out of my mouth … and I can promise you a Walmart cake shall never darken my door again.

5
Jul
2010

You know what I remember learning in school?  The importance of July 5th.  Oh how I remember those tests about the importance of July 5th in the history of the United States, and how every year we have July 5th parades and …

What?  What did you say?  What do you mean it was July 4th I learned about?  I mean, come on, it had to be July 5th since everything in the country seems to be closed today, and people are taking the day off all around me, so it had to be July 5th instead!

Yeah, by now you’re getting the point that I don’t get this.  Sunday was July 4th, the celebration of the birth of our nation, but yet everyone seems to think that means they can take today off since it had the audacity to fall on a Sunday.  How dare it.  I even know of one case where it wasn’t discussed if people could have today off, they just assumed it.

If today was July 4th, I wouldn’t say a word about it.  I chose to work yesterday, but that was my choice as I felt I needed to get some articles written, but I never for a moment considered today optional.  Even one of my bosses tried to tell me take the day off, as did my parents.  Sorry, it’s Monday, July 5th, it’s just another day of the year in my book.  There are no picnics to be had, no parades, no firework displays, just another plain old day on the calendar which means you go to work, and the world keeps rotating.

And, yes, I’m writing this from my office … where I even dressed for work because, well, it’s Monday.

24
Jun
2010

A consumer watchdog group focused on nutrition is threatening to sue McDonalds over its use of toys to market Happy Meals to children.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) announced yesterday that it intends to sue McDonalds for “unfairly and deceptively” marketing toys to children.  The group is announcing its lawsuit 30 days  prior to filing it in hopes that the company will negotiate with them over its complaints according to the Associated Press.

“McDonald’s is the stranger in the playground handing out candy to children,” said CSPI litigation director Stephen Gardner. “McDonald’s use of toys undercuts parental authority and exploits young children’s developmental immaturity—all this to induce children to prefer foods that may harm their health. It’s a creepy and predatory practice that warrants an injunction.”

“McDonald’s marketing has the effect of conscripting America’s children into an unpaid drone army of word-of-mouth marketers, causing them to pester their parents to bring them to McDonald’s,” wrote Gardner in a notice letter to McDonald’s vice chairman, CEO, and president Jim Skinner, and McDonald’s USA president Jan Fields.

While many, myself included, would say it is the job of the parents to say ‘no’ to their children when they pester them, CSPI had an answer for that argument also.  “I’m sure that industry’s defenders will blame parents for not saying ‘no’ to their children. Parents do bear much of the responsibility, but multi-billion-dollar corporations make parents’ job nearly impossible by giving away toys and bombarding kids with slick advertising.”

I’m sorry, but when did it become “nearly impossible” for a parent to say ‘no’?  I wasn’t aware that all of this “slick advertising” somehow removed a parent’s ability to form words.  There is no question that Happy Meals, even with their ‘healthy alternatives’, are not the best food choice for kids, but McDonalds has every right to market their goods in any way they see fit so long as they stay within the confines of the law.  A parent’s lack of a backbone is not their problem.

What I find intriguing in all of this is, why now?  The CSPI has existed since 1971 and the Happy Meal was created in 1979, so somehow it took this group 31 years to figure this out?  I mean, it couldn’t have anything to do with Santa Clara county banning Happy Meal toys, could it?  I mean, this certainly has to all be coincidence, right?  We couldn’t possibly believe that a group that is so concerned with the healthy eating habits of our children somehow ignored this “stranger in the playground handing out candy to children” for 31 years and just by pure chance decided to grab themselves some publicity by piggy backing on the publicity of someone else’s actions, could we?  I mean, come on, these people are dedicated to fighting for the health of our children!  There’s no way they were completely ignorant all this time and just woke up suddenly!  This has to be all part of some well thought out strategy!

… so, there’s this bridge in Brooklyn I’ve been looking to sell …

Honestly, I’m disgusted by what CSPI has done here.  Not only have they somehow not addressed something they see as such a heinous threat to children for 31 years, and not only have they obviously latched on to someone else’s publicity, but they have tried to make a link between McDonalds and pedophiles.  Don’t believe me?  What do you think “McDonald’s is the stranger in the playground handing out candy to children,” is trying to say?  Look, I have no love for the McDonald’s corporation, I haven’t eaten in one since May 2000, but this whole slew of recent attacks on them is just more nanny state posturing.

I’m sorry, but I don’t need anyone stepping in and telling me what I can and cannot eat, and I certainly don’t need them telling me as a business owner when I cannot use a perfectly legal marketing tool in how I promote my business.  Sure, this is about toys with Happy Meals, but you think it’ll stop there?  Yeah, I’ll give you a deal on that bridge.

19
Jun
2010

Yeah … Google Hot Trends has been busted yet again.

As a professional blogger I check in with Google Hot Trends at least a couple times a day to see what the Internet as a whole is talking about. This system reports on the 20 most searched on terms via the Google search engine for about the past 60 minutes, and every once in a while you see something that is completely insane.

What will happen is that some trend spammers will decide on a subject, and then they just slam the system as hard as possible to drive up the search term and bring the traffic to their site.  When you go and look at the top results for this search term right now, one of them is a website about insurance …

I’ve posted a screenshot of the top results below, you can click on it for a larger view:

As you can see, the term just appeared from nowhere earlier today and has gained nothing but momentum. I’ve checked some of the usual gossip rags, and not a word from them, and you know they’d be all over this in a heartbeat, so this looks fairly obvious to be a group trying to game the hot trends.

What this really gains them is beyond me as these trends reset every so often, so this will be gone soon enough, but it’s annoying for the time it exists.  Thanks for messin’ up the system for a night … idiots.

14
Jun
2010

Well, it was a nice dream while it lasted.

Yesterday I reported that it looked like a ban was being considered by South Africa’s World Cup organising chief Danny Jordaan of the Vuvuzela, better known as the “World Cup Noisemakers”.  They have been annoying the players, fans, television stations and more, and Mr. Jordaan was considering taking them out of the stadiums if the problem persisted.

Well, FIFA President Sepp Blatter couldn’t care less.

According to The Los Angeles Times, even though ESPN, Al-Jazeera, South Korean broadcaster SBS, TF1 in France and Brazil’s BandSports have all complained on the behalf of their viewers, Mr. Blatter doesn’t care and has no intention of banning the horns.  In a post on Twitter, he said:

I have always said that Africa has a different rhythm, a different sound.  I don’t see banning the music traditions of fans in their own country.

Honestly, during the games on day four (Monday), I don’t even hear them any more. It’s just become background noise at this point, although I am sure the players would still like to get rid of them.

Either way, it looks like the 2010 World Cup will always be known as the year of the horns.

12
Jun
2010

No folks, the World Cup games are not being attacked by swarms of locusts … those are vuvuzelas.

If you’ve tuned into any of the World Cup 2010 games thus far, you have heard a droning sound that makes you think a swarm of locusts is attacking.  Apparently vuvuzelas are a common item at South Africa football matches, but they are unknown to a large chunk of the rest of the world.  The history of the instrument is fractured with some believing it came out of stadiums in Mexico during the 1970′s, and at least one church in Africa claiming they created it.

I don’t really care who created the blasted things, they’re annoying as all get out.  Actually, I have been using stronger language than that to express my feelings on these things, but this is a “family” blog, but you can use your imagination of some of the things I’ve said.

There had been some talk of banning them at the World Cup games, but that obviously didn’t happen, and now we’re stuck listening to this never-ending droning buzz.  Please … make it stop!

UPDATE 06/13/10: A possible ban is being considered!

U{DATE 06/14/10: And the ban is dead.

3
Jun
2010

Apparently if you are unhappy with the new AT&T data plans, then you just need to keep those thoughts to yourself.  Complaints will not be tolerated.

In this day and age of hyper-connectivity, it is not unusual for customers to e-mail CEOs of companies directly with questions and complaints.  Very few of them respond, although Apple CEO Steve Jobs has been on a response binge as of late, with almost all of his notes turning into blog posts on various tech blogs.

A customer named Giorgio Galante e-mail AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson two weeks ago about bumping up his iPhone upgrade eligibility date, and if the carrier would be adding tethering in the near future.  After the new data plans were announced, Mr. Galante e-mailed Mr. Stephenson again to inform him of his intent to switch to Spring as he was unhappy with the new policies of the company.

He received the following voicemail which you can listen to over on his blog:

Giorgio Galante, this is Brent [unintelligible] calling from AT&T’s Exectuive Response Team.  Calling in response to the latest e-mail which you sent to Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson, earlier today, Wednesday, June 2nd.

I want to first thank you for the feedback.  Going forward, need to warn you that if you continue to send e-mails to Randall Stephenson a cease & desist letter may be sent to you.  If you would like to speak with [cut off to remove phone number]

Yes, folks … if you e-mail the CEO of a company you spend $110 a month with (which is what Mr. Galante was paying for his iPhone and iPad) twice in two weeks, you get threatened with legal action.  Apparently commenters on some blogs that are discussing this are saying this appears to be standard policy.

I am absolutely dumbfounded by this.  How can any company, and especially one that is in the middle of receiving highly negative press over a new policy, think it’s a good idea in this day and age to threaten already displeased customers with legal action?  Have they not heard of the blogosphere?  Twitter?  I wouldn’t be too surprised to see this end up on some morning news shows.  If you want to make sure your reputation gets even more damaged, then you threaten to bring in lawyers for a customer expressing their displeasure with your company.

Has no one taught AT&T about how to route e-mail?  They could let all the e-mails in the world come in from this guy, send them a holding folder, and he would never be the wiser, and would feel better having vented his frustrations.  Instead you make them that much angrier and possibly spread their venom around by threatening legal action where absolutely none is needed.

Being so into technology, people seem to be constantly amazed that I don’t have an iPhone.  There is one very specific reason I don’t have one, and that would be AT&T is the only carrier with it.  I hate this company and have for years.  With each decision they make they remind me again why I avoid them like the plague, and I will continue to do so.

Good job, Mr. Stephenson.  Way to win friends and influence people.

Update 6/3/10: Mr. Galante received an apology from a Senior VP named Lori.  Good on AT&T for the apology, but considering the coverage this got, shouldn’t Mr. Stephenson done it himself?