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Another Epitaph of a Sort [Jul. 4th, 2009|01:43 am]
The short of it:  I have a new blog.  It is here:

So it has gradually become clear that Livejournal sucks donkey balls.  Sold off to the Russians, LJ has languished in stasis as services like Wordpress and Blogger have come to define the modern-day blog.  Russian software developers have in my experience been bumbling and inept,  LJ's current owners do not fail to disappoint on this scale, laying off people and basically ignoring their product.  Passing off 2005's work in 2009 is hardly good business, but it's the plan they appear ready to stick to.

Combine this with the fact that Facebook and Twitter offer much better up to-the-minute updating abilities, and LJ looks even less attractive.

Finally, just about everyone on my friends list here that I've met in person isn't blogging any more, or else has moved to another blog.

And this last thing is what I'm doing.  I don't like that my LJ has been languishing lately, but I'm not the sort that just wants to chronicle my thoughts with 160 character status updates.

So!  I've gone and made a Wordpress blog, and imported every single thing on this one over there.  All posts, all comments, all tags, completely carried over.  (very easily, I might add)  Those of you still LJing and actively posting, I'm following the feeds from your blogs, so I'm not just bailing out completely.  At the same time though, any new posts will be on the new blog from here on out.  You don't have to have anything special to leave comments, so by all means, stop on by!

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Epitaph [May. 28th, 2009|10:38 am]
One artifact of the past that our children will never know is the dreaded AOL CD.  Utterly ubiquitous in the 90's, both the shitty company and their shitty CD's were simply unavoidable.  Always at the forefront of jackassery, AOL reached its pinnacle when it bought Time/Warner - at the time the media company was the 'old dog' being picked up by the hip new company of the future.

Today CNN announced that Time/Warner is spinning off AOL into its own company - aka, sending it off to die.  Yes, the mighty giant has been laid low, largely due to its moronic clinging on to dial-up when the world has moved on.  Life was grand for them when they could monopolize content ("News for subscribers only!"), but the web quickly made all of their exclusive content redundant.  Now all they have as their main site is a crappy portal that's just a copy of Yahoo's front page, which isn't that good either.  While they do still have AIM as a viably useful service, Trillian, texting, Twitter, and Facebook are all steadily devouring its dominance.

Unless it very doubtfully creates some sort of new innovation (which it's failed to do in the last eight years, why start now?), AOL has been effectively put out to pasture.  It is now the "old dog," ironically being turned out by the even older (but much more relevant) dog.

I think of all those damned CD's, and of the living hell it used to be to cancel your service (my parents both used AOL for a while, *shudder*).
I know the company isn't truly dead - like 3D Realms did, they might stumble around for a few years before finally collapsing.  But I've written this epitaph so that when the day finally does come, it can be pinned to the back of their fallen body as they're left unburied to rot in a field.

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Cheney Next? [May. 23rd, 2009|09:56 am]
Conservative talk radio host Mancow tried out being waterboarded in an attempt to disprove it as torture.

He lasted six seconds, after which he said: 

"It is way worse than I thought it would be, and that's no joke,"Mancow said, likening it to a time when he nearly drowned as a child.  "It is such an odd feeling to have water poured down your nose with your head back...It was instantaneous...and I don't want to say this: absolutely torture."

Christopher Hitchens apparently had earlier done the same thing and commented:
"Well, then, if waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture,"

Although I'm sure there is a sadistic few, I have to wonder how popular this practice would be if anyone that called for its use had to be subjected to it.

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Summer in Stillwater is Awesome [May. 16th, 2009|02:02 am]
Thursday the 9th: Saw the new Star Trek movie with James and Karen.  It was a fun movie, but felt a little over-the-top silly for my taste.

Saturday the 11th: ESL Potluck at Gene's and then Game Night at Louis and Kim's.  Got to say farewell to some of the TESL graduates and then headed over for Rock Band and board games with a lot of folks that hadn't been there before.

Monday the 13th: Had Louis and Kim over for fried chicken, played games and showed each other new apps on our iPhones.

Wednesday the 14h: Went to campus and got some writing done.  Afterward, watched Lost with a bunch of folks at James and Karen's, played with their cats.

Thursday the 15th: Ry and Lindsey had people over for games before they leave town to visit family.  Many rounds of werewolf, with the wolves losing surprisingly often. 

Friday the 16th: James and Karen had people over for a ridiculously awesome turkey dinner with cheesecake and pumpkin muffins.  Catan was Settled, cats were played with.
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Free Marketing [May. 12th, 2009|12:42 pm]
newedition made some points on free markets and government regulation that I want to respond to.  She was talking about the new credit card bill:

"The bill is nonsensical for at least two fundamental reasons. First, it assigns government the authority to regulate business. Second, it violates the right of individuals to freely enter into contracts. Such is the psychology of the nanny state: people are not sovereign individuals with the authority to control their own lives, but irresponsible and needy wards of the state who require government protection against their own ignorance and shortcomings."

I'm generally in favor of a free market, except that I don't believe that's that's what we've been having.  I think we've been having a rigged free market, and that's when I think government intervention is needed.

For example, if you had an entire industry mutually decide 'let's just rob people' like healthcare has done, no one would have the power to stop it.  Consumers can't pick a 'better' option because there are none.  A company would be insane not to rob people in this environment, because they'd get crushed by the competition.  The 'free market' can't repair itself on its own in this case.

Credit cards are arguably similar.  A large number of people want credit.  To start a business, it's practically essential.  With the way credit works, it's not always easy to move debt around if your credit card is suddenly a bad deal.  Let's say you get a credit card with a low interest rate.  You have a balance, but you make your payments on time.  However, your credit isn't good enough to get multiple cards - maybe you're young and starting out.  If your credit card company just randomly decides to triple your interest rate, you are screwed, and the 'free market' can't help you.  You can't get more credit to swap the debt with, and depending on what you bought, you might not be able to pay it off quickly.  Even if you made a responsible decision at the time of getting the credit card by finding the best rates/etc., the rules of the game have suddenly changed on you.  If the grocery store had doubled its prices, you could just go to another store.  But with this credit card, your debt is immobile until you pay it off.  It's possible, in fact, that the tripled interest rate makes it so you can no longer afford all your bills, which causes even more trouble.

Your woes will hurt the company by making potential new customers go away, you say?  With ZERO oversight, there are moves that companies will inevitably make because they look good on the balance sheet.  Not out of 'evil' or anything else, but because it's good for the company financially.  If their competitors follow suit, there may be no one to question them except government or law.  I'm not saying it should be government, but we really have no other organized method that has any teeth.
Consumer mobs can react to things like 'ZOMG LEAD PAINT,' but they're incapable of studying finer aspects that can make a bigger difference.

As for the idea that people are incompetent to care for themselves, I don't like that way of thinking either.  BUT, some of the problem (particularly with the mortgage crisis and with financial planners) is that people were being lied to by experts.  If you go to a doctor and she says 'You have cancer' and then you go to two more doctors and they say 'You have cancer,' you're going to be pretty much convinced you have cancer, right?  Particularly if they show you X-rays that point to lumps, and tell you things that agree with any of your own independent research?  Now imagine that all doctors on earth are in cahoots to make you think you have cancer.  Now replace 'doctors' with 'mortgage brokers.' 

You and I are the sort that will dig around and look for information on our own, but will we do it for everything?  If your dentist says you have a cavity, will you disagree?  If your maintenance guy says you have termites?  Much of how we operate is based on trusting experts, and also on the idea that at some point you have to trust a diagnosis and run with it (even if you did the diagnosis yourself).

This is very, very exploitable, particularly if you have an entire industry built to exploit it.  Even worse if it's an industry you can't reasonably operate without or that is very difficult to not use, like a mortgage broker.  Again, I think some sort of external oversight is necessary, someone that's not a part of the system but has power to make changes to it.  Government's not the best choice, but it's the only entity at the moment that fits the bill.

And while we are currently undergoing a free market 'correction' and shady mortgage companies are going down in flames, the problem was allowed to fester so long that the correction has had disastrous consequences for everyone - foreclosures, debt tightening up, and so forth.  Even people who handled their money responsibly have been impacted by higher prices, higher rents, minimal credit.  If someone had stepped in and broken up the problem before it got this bad, the free market could have had a correction without getting it all over everyone' faces.
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Rawk [May. 10th, 2009|01:15 am]
A well-spent day - talked to my dad for his birthday, went to the TESL party and hung out with folks, then went to Louis and Kim's and played games.  There were some new faces there, which was nice - several friends we've been trying to lure to game night made appearances, and I think they enjoyed themselves.  Excerrent.  :)

Semester's done, which leaves my time basically open until August, although I do have independent study that I'm taking with Dennis.  I'm daunted by allured by the months ahead - I tend to be bad about wasting free time, but I see the summer as a serious opportunity to get some
writing done.  I've got graphic novel work to do, and I want to get some short fiction put together into a circulateable state.  A bunch of OSU's creative writers will be in town for the summer and I want to squirm my way into their feedbacking and workshopping - I want to read their stuff, I want them reading mine.  The graphic novel's almost entirely plotted out at this point - I just need to sit down and write the damn thing.  I think part of what's daunting is that I have no freaking idea what you do with a graphic novel manuscript that you are completely incapable of drawing or publishing on your own.  But I guess I'll be finding out.
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Two More Days [May. 5th, 2009|02:14 am]
The scourge of end-of-the-semester paper writing still looms, but progress is being made.  I've got two 25-30ish page papers due, one tomorrow, one Wednesday.  They're both at 15 pages so far, and should be fine by the time they need to be in.

Kim and Louis and I went cheese hunting today - Dennis had had a party for all of us in his class last week, and had served really good cheese.  Not knowing that really good cheese was obtainable in Stillwater, he informed us of a few hole-in-the-wall places that sell such arcane things as organic produce, cheese that isn't American or Swiss, and coffee that hasn't been ground yet.  We resolved to make an outing to these places today.  The outing was made, and really good chese was found and purchased.  Amazingly, we ran into Dennis at the very store he'd recommended!  We went to a couple little shops, my favorite was one that was a cross between a Hallmark store and a Whole Foods.  One half was mugs, cards, and kitschy crap, the other half was a cooler full of Emantaller, Gouda, and more, along with shelves of crackers, dips, and sauces.  It was pretty awesome.

We went to their place and devoured our spoils, had some burgers, and then adjourned for paper writing, which is what I've (mostly) been up to for the evening.
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A Solid Day [Apr. 29th, 2009|12:01 am]
Went in this afternoon and hung out with Louis - he's my best bud here in Stillwater, and he just acquired Photoshop, so we messed around in that for a while.  Sociolinguistics class was fun, people were presenting today and they all had pretty cool things to say.  Dennis had a party for us afterward and had a ridiculous amount of delcious food.  He was kind of miffed that the chicken salad sandwiches all got devoured, but the tuna salad plate was pristine.  Had a nice time chatting with professors and classmates, and found out that the doctoral students no longer have to take the Comprehensive Exam!!!  Instead it's like MSU where you have to submit two papers that your committee judges as 'publishable,' which makes sooo much more sense.  Writing papers is going to be your job as a professor, not taking tests.
Had a nice, long talk with my dad on the phone, and it was good to catch up with him.  Conference reimbursement finally came in, swelling the coffers considerably.  As the semester winds down, life is doing nicely.  :)
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People Younger than Me Are Going Bald on Their Facebook Pics [Apr. 26th, 2009|12:31 am]
What the hell?

I'm supposed to be terrifying them by looking like a middle-aged man, not the other way around!

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Pet Peeve of the Day [Apr. 23rd, 2009|11:48 am]
People (usually girls) who make their profile picture on something like Facebook one of the following:

1) A picture of them and their significant other, with the significant other filling almost the entire picture.

2) Their kid.

You're still allowed to have an identity of your own, even if you have a boyfriend and/or child.  Your kid/boyfriend/husband is not YOU!!!
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