Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
April 24, 2008
Yes it's politically incorrect but race matters
The Democrats must admit it: Obama would lose to McCain
"The latest polls in the two most important swing states show Mr McCain easily beating Mr Obama in both Florida and Ohio, while Mrs Clinton comfortably beats the Republican in Ohio and is neck and neck in Florida."
See the full story here.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Voting has started
Voting begins today on MoveOn.org's "Obama in 30 Seconds" contest. My submission made it past the screening and now it is up to people like you to get me into the next round.
The winner of the contest will win a $20,000 certificate good for professional Video equipment. I will be going up against many professionals, so if anyone needs the equipment, it's poor little me (where are all those tiny violins when you need a good pity party). At any rate here is the link to my video.
Now, what I need from everyone. Please, please, please, write a post about the contest and include my link. If possible, put a link to my ad on your sidebar. Also, send an email to everyone you know and send them to my ad. Here are the rules and the way voting works.
It's not often a lowly blogger wins this kind of contest. Hey, I decided to give it a shot. Now, please, give a fellow blogger a hand. If you're not an Obama supporter, that's okay, think of it as helping a fellow blogger. If you are an Obama supporter, then you have a chance for another Obama supporter's home made ad to run on National TV.
The first way is to have one of the 10 highest-rated ads. In order to rate ads, people will go to the Obama in 30 Seconds website and click to get started. Then, they’ll be brought to a voting screen and shown their first ad. While they’re rating ads, voters will not be able to choose what ads they see; we’ll choose for them. This ensures that all of the ads get seen by lots of voters and that nobody is able to pump up an ad’s rating by asking people to just go and vote on that one ad. And of course, each voter will only be shown each ad once.
In the rating system, viewers will give each ad 1-5 stars in each of three categories: Overall Impact, which counts for 50%; Originality, which counts for 25%; and Positive Message, which counts for 25%. At the end of voting, the 10 ads with the highest average rating, using those criteria and weightings, will be finalists.
The second way to become a finalist is to have one of the five ads that’s watched by the highest number of unique viewers on the Obama in 30 Seconds website. For these “direct hits,” we’ll send you a link to your ad as soon as voting opens on Monday. We encourage you to pass the link around to friends and family, post it on your blog, or do anything else creative to drive people to the site to watch it. Each time someone follows that link and watches your ad on our site, we’ll count that toward your total viewers. Of course, people who watch an ad this way will have to enter their email address before they’re counted; this prevents fraud and makes sure it’s not one person just hitting refresh over and over.
It’s important to note that people who see your ad through the automatic voting system won’t be counted toward the number of viewers. But, on the voting page, we’ll provide the direct link to the ad they’re watching. That way, if somebody sees your ad while voting and loves it, they can show it to all their friends. And when they do, since their friends will be using the direct link to your ad, all of those viewers will count toward your total.
Here's thanking you in advance for your cooperation.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
See the full story here.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Peace symbol origin
Just like Madonna and Michelle Pfeiffer, the peace symbol is turning 50 this year. When an icon turns that age, you can start making some judgments about whether it has what it takes to endure. Madonna? Hanging in there. Pfeiffer? We'll see. But the peace symbol--it's 50 years young and going strong.
By now, the little sectioned circle has become so familiar, it feels as if it had no genesis, that it just emerged out of a collective folk culture, like the Star of David or a nursery rhyme. But in fact it can be traced to a single inventor, Gerald Holtom.
Holtom was a London textile designer who had been a conscientious objector during World War II. By 1958, as Britain, the U.S. and the Soviet Union were well into the nuclear arms race, a grass-roots movement to "Ban the Bomb" was gathering force in the United Kingdom. Early that year, a fledgling disarmament group called the Direct Action Campaign (DAC) started to put together what would be Britain's first major demonstration against nuclear weapons. The plan was for a 52-mile (84 km) march from London to the town of Aldermaston, home to an A-bomb research center.
Enter Holtom, who brought to the DAC his design for a symbol that marchers could carry on banners and signs. He had arrived at the image by combining the semaphore signals for the letters N, for nuclear, and D, for disarmament. The first is a figure with arms held downward and out from both sides; the second, a figure holding one arm above its head while the other points to the ground.
The symbol was simple--a few straight lines inside a circle. But like a Chinese character, its form was suggestive. The straight lines hinted at the human body. The circle brought to mind Planet Earth. (It also looked a bit like the Mercedes-Benz logo, which has led to some confusion over the years.) Importantly, anybody could draw it.
Before long, millions of people did. It debuted on April 4 in London's Trafalgar Square, the assembly point for the four-day march. Over the next few days, it appeared in countless newspaper photos and TV reports. Bayard Rustin, an American protégé of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. who took part in the march, brought the symbol home to a growing civil rights movement dedicated to nonviolence. When the Vietnam War started getting out of hand, protesters discovered they had a ready-made icon to signal their feelings.
There were people who didn't like the symbol any better than they liked the movements it represented. They saw it as an inverted broken cross or "the footprint of the American chicken." But it kept spreading through the culture. Like the Christian cross, which has served the purposes of soup kitchens and Crusaders, the Sisters of Mercy and the Ku Klux Klan, it was adaptable. Over time, it evolved from its narrow association with nuclear disarmament into an insignia for countercultures of all kinds. Hippies made it a sort of all-purpose symbol of peacefulness. The environmental group Greenpeace, the militant wing of flower power, adopted it for its eco-defense campaigns.
And inevitably, the market found it. By the late 1960s, peace symbols were appearing on coffee mugs, miniskirts and ponchos and were dangling from chains around the necks of guys you would expect to see at the Playboy mansion. Duplicated endlessly as a hip fashion accessory, it threatened to devolve into a meaningless emblem of benign and groovy sentiment. It started looking corny, a kind of smiley face before there were smiley faces.
But events have conspired to keep giving the peace symbol fresh life. The arms race rumbles along, wars keep happening, and it continually comes back into circulation as, well, a peace symbol. The war in Iraq has created all kinds of opportunities for it at rallies and demonstrations. If it's true, as John McCain has suggested, that the U.S. may have to remain in Iraq for 100 years, then the peace symbol probably has a long life ahead of it.
Sign of the Times For a photographic history of the peace symbol, go to time.com/peace
Sunday, April 13, 2008
How to get a good reference after being fired - not
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Good vs. Evil
The man looked at the trooper and said, "Years ago my wife ran off with a Florida State Trooper, and I thought you were bringing her back."
"Have a good day, Sir," said the Trooper.
Monday, April 07, 2008
The New York Times
SAN FRANCISCO — They work long hours, often to exhaustion. Many are paid by the piece — not garments, but blog posts. This is the digital-era sweatshop. You may know it by a different name: home.
A growing work force of home-office laborers and entrepreneurs, armed with computers and smartphones and wired to the hilt, are toiling under great physical and emotional stress created by the around-the-clock Internet economy that demands a constant stream of news and comment.
Of course, the bloggers can work elsewhere, and they profess a love of the nonstop action and perhaps the chance to create a global media outlet without a major up-front investment. At the same time, some are starting to wonder if something has gone very wrong. In the last few months, two among their ranks have died suddenly.
Two weeks ago in North Lauderdale, Fla., funeral services were held for Russell Shaw, a prolific blogger on technology subjects who died at 60 of a heart attack. In December, another tech blogger, Marc Orchant, died at 50 of a massive coronary. A third, Om Malik, 41, survived a heart attack in December.
Other bloggers complain of weight loss or gain, sleep disorders, exhaustion and other maladies born of the nonstop strain of producing for a news and information cycle that is as always-on as the Internet.
To be sure, there is no official diagnosis of death by blogging, and the premature demise of two people obviously does not qualify as an epidemic. There is also no certainty that the stress of the work contributed to their deaths. But friends and family of the deceased, and fellow information workers, say those deaths have them thinking about the dangers of their work style.
The pressure even gets to those who work for themselves — and are being well-compensated for it.
“I haven’t died yet,” said Michael Arrington, the founder and co-editor of TechCrunch, a popular technology blog. The site has brought in millions in advertising revenue, but there has been a hefty cost. Mr. Arrington says he has gained 30 pounds in the last three years, developed a severe sleeping disorder and turned his home into an office for him and four employees. “At some point, I’ll have a nervous breakdown and be admitted to the hospital, or something else will happen.”
“This is not sustainable,” he said.
It is unclear how many people blog for pay, but there are surely several thousand and maybe even tens of thousands.
The emergence of this class of information worker has paralleled the development of the online economy. Publishing has expanded to the Internet, and advertising has followed.
Even at established companies, the Internet has changed the nature of work, allowing people to set up virtual offices and work from anywhere at any time. That flexibility has a downside, in that workers are always a click away from the burdens of the office. For obsessive information workers, that can mean never leaving the house.
Blogging has been lucrative for some, but those on the lower rungs of the business can earn as little as $10 a post, and in some cases are paid on a sliding bonus scale that rewards success with a demand for even more work.
There are growing legions of online chroniclers, reporting on and reflecting about sports, politics, business, celebrities and every other conceivable niche. Some write for fun, but thousands write for Web publishers — as employees or as contractors — or have started their own online media outlets with profit in mind.
One of the most competitive categories is blogs about technology developments and news. They are in a vicious 24-hour competition to break company news, reveal new products and expose corporate gaffes.
To the victor go the ego points, and, potentially, the advertising. Bloggers for such sites are often paid for each post, though some are paid based on how many people read their material. They build that audience through scoops or volume or both.
Some sites, like those owned by Gawker Media, give bloggers retainers and then bonuses for hitting benchmarks, like if the pages they write are viewed 100,000 times a month. Then the goal is raised, like a sales commission: write more, earn more.
Bloggers at some of the bigger sites say most writers earn about $30,000 a year starting out, and some can make as much as $70,000. A tireless few bloggers reach six figures, and some entrepreneurs in the field have built mini-empires on the Web that are generating hundreds of thousands of dollars a month. Others who are trying to turn blogging into a career say they can end up with just $1,000 a month.
Speed can be of the essence. If a blogger is beaten by a millisecond, someone else’s post on the subject will bring in the audience, the links and the bigger share of the ad revenue.
“There’s no time ever — including when you’re sleeping — when you’re not worried about missing a story,” Mr. Arrington said.
“Wouldn’t it be great if we said no blogger or journalist could write a story between 8 p.m. Pacific time and dawn? Then we could all take a break,” he added. “But that’s never going to happen.”
All that competition puts a premium on staying awake. Matt Buchanan, 22, is the right man for the job. He works for clicks for Gizmodo, a popular Gawker Media site that publishes news about gadgets. Mr. Buchanan lives in a small apartment in Brooklyn, where his bedroom doubles as his office.
He says he sleeps about five hours a night and often does not have time to eat proper meals. But he does stay fueled — by regularly consuming a protein supplement mixed into coffee.
But make no mistake: Mr. Buchanan, a recent graduate of New York University, loves his job. He said he gets paid to write (he will not say how much) while interacting with readers in a global conversation about the latest and greatest products.
“The fact I have a few thousand people a day reading what I write — that’s kind of cool,” he said. And, yes, it is exhausting. Sometimes, he said, “I just want to lie down.”
Sometimes he does rest, inadvertently, falling asleep at the computer.
“If I don’t hear from him, I’ll think: Matt’s passed out again,” said Brian Lam, the editor of Gizmodo. “It’s happened four or five times.”
Mr. Lam, who as a manager has a substantially larger income, works even harder. He is known to pull all-nighters at his own home office in San Francisco — hours spent trying to keep his site organized and competitive. He said he was well equipped for the torture; he used to be a Thai-style boxer.
“I’ve got a background getting punched in the face,” he said. “That’s why I’m good at this job.”
Mr. Lam said he has worried his blogging staff might be burning out, and he urges them to take breaks, even vacations. But he said they face tremendous pressure — external, internal and financial. He said the evolution of the “pay-per-click” economy has put the emphasis on reader traffic and financial return, not journalism.
In the case of Mr. Shaw, it is not clear what role stress played in his death. Ellen Green, who had been dating him for 13 months, said the pressure, though self-imposed, was severe. She said she and Mr. Shaw had been talking a lot about how he could create a healthier lifestyle, particularly after the death of his friend, Mr. Orchant.
“The blogger community is looking at this and saying: ‘Oh no, it happened so fast to two really vital people in the field,’ ” she said. They are wondering, “What does that have to do with me?”
For his part, Mr. Shaw did not die at his desk. He died in a hotel in San Jose, Calif., where he had flown to cover a technology conference. He had written a last e-mail dispatch to his editor at ZDNet: “Have come down with something. Resting now posts to resume later today or tomorrow.”
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Sex takes 3 to 13 minutes, study says
It's difficult for men of all ages to make sexual intercourse last much longer, a psychologist says.
A survey of sex therapists concluded the optimal amount of time for sexual intercourse was 3 to 13 minutes. The findings, to be published in the May issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine, strike at the notion that endurance is the key to a great sex life.
If that sounds like good news to you, don't cheer too loudly. The time does not count foreplay, and the therapists did rate sexual intercourse that lasts from 1 to 2 minutes as "too short."
Researcher Eric Corty said he hoped to ease the minds of those who believe "more of something good is better, and if you really want to satisfy your partner, you should last forever."
The questions were not gender-specific, said Corty. But he said prior research has shown men and women want foreplay and sexual intercourse to last longer.
Dr. Irwin Goldstein, editor of the Journal of Sexual Medicine, cited a four-week study of 1,500 couples in 2005 that found the median time for sexual intercourse was 7.3 minutes. (Women in the study were armed with stopwatches.)
It's difficult for both older men and young men to make sexual intercourse last much longer, said Marianne Brandon, a clinical psychologist and director of Wellminds Wellbodies in Annapolis, Maryland.
"There are so many myths in our culture of what other people are doing sexually," Brandon said. "Most people's sex lives are not as exciting as other people think they are."
Fifty members of the Society for Sex Therapy and Research in the U.S. and Canada were surveyed by Corty, an associate professor of psychology at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, and student Jenay Guardiani. Thirty-four members, or 68 percent, responded, although some said the optimal time depended on the couple.
Corty said he hoped to give an idea of what therapists find to be normal and satisfactory among the couples they see.
"People who read this will say, 'I last five minutes or my partner lasts eight minutes,' and say, 'That's OK,' " he said. "They will relax a little bit."