Archive for December, 2007
A pop singer named Lauren Rose has released a version of the traditional Jewish folk dance, “Hava Nagila” in England. The song, apparently, had a shot at being the #1 song in the country on Christmas Day. No word (yet) on whether or not it actually got there, but still: Hava Nagila – a pop song?
The (English) words she’s singing, by the way, are not even close to a translation, with the exception of the “Baby, let’s dance” which is somewhat close to Hava Nagila (“Let us rejoice”).
Anyone who’s ever attended a Bar/Bat Mitzvah will probably find this amazing…
Words cannot express how happy this story makes me. Let’s follow the bouncing ball, shall we?
1944: Conrad Hilton, founder of the Hilton hotel chain, establishes the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, dedicated to “relieve the suffering, the distressed and the destitute.”
1979: Conrad Hilton dies, and leaves virtually all of his fortune to the Foundation.
1988: His son, Barron Hilton, reaches an out of court settlement after a nearly ten year battle to challenge the will, and retains half of the ownership stake in Hilton Hotels for himself, rather than having it go to help the suffering, distressed and destitute. (Bad Barron…)
2003: Barron’s granddaughter, Paris, becomes one of the most famous people in America (the world?) when a video of her and her boyfriend having sex makes its way around the Internet.
2006: Jerry Oppenheimer, author of House of Hilton, reports that Barron Hilton is embarrassed by the behavior of his socialite granddaughter and believes it has sullied the family name. Barron does not comment on these remarks.
2007: Paris is convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol, and sentenced to probation. She violates her probation and lands in jail for three dramatic, media-frenzied weeks, culminating in a “Get Out of Jail” party thrown for her by a large Las Vegas hotel and an exclusive television interview with Larry King that reportedly nets her millions of dollars.
Yesterday: Barron Hilton announces that he will leave 97% of his fortune (currently worth $2.3 billion) to the Conrad N. Hilton foundation, where it will be used to “provide clean water in Africa, education for blind children, and housing for the mentally ill.” (Good Barron…)
So, not only does Barron Hilton join the ranks of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and others, who have made giving away gazillions of dollars trendy, but the African kids who need the money most finally get it.
Also, Paris Hilton finally gets something she’s been lacking for years now – consequences. Up until now, the only thing she’s ever done in her life that has cost her anything that was important to her was getting caught driving drunk a second time, which cost her three weeks of freedom. Now, it turns out that her sex video and all the associated celebrity parties, reality show stupidity, and other not-a-role-model nonsense that she’s been filling her life with has cost her a significant share of $2.3 billion and (I suspect) a significant chunk of her grandfather’s respect.
Seriously – this totally makes my day.
(SIDE NOTE: Hat-tip to Scalzi for pointing this out first. He criticizes MSNBC for writing a story about a large charitable donation and leading with Paris Hilton. I couldn’t disagree more. I hope every teenage girl in the world who ever thought Paris was “cool” reads this article because her name is in the title and thinks, “Damn…she got screwed!“)
A hearty hat-tip to Mike Starr, who informed me of this website by actually walking me by one of the stores on our way to lunch yesterday: i-SoldIt.com.
Here’s how it works: You have an item you want to sell on eBay, but you either don’t have the time to do so, or you have no freaking idea how to go about selling something on eBay. So what you do is bring your item to an iSoldIt store (they have 138 stores, located in 36 of the United States, as well as Canada and Australia). They will photograph it for you, write the text that appears on your eBay auction, wait for it to sell, then package it up in a box and send it to the seller. When the seller pays them, they send you a check.
So, to summarize: you drop off your stuff, and they send you a check.
The only downside appears to be the cost: they take 33-40%, plus eBay fees (1.5-5.25%) and payment processing fees (3%), so you could be taking home only about half of what your item sells for. That said, if your item doesn’t sell, there is no fee. You can either pick it up within 10 days of the auction’s close, or they’ll donate it to charity.
What I find most interesting about this business is the fact that eBay has a trust component to it – sellers that successfully sell a lot of items get higher ratings, which makes buyers more likely to buy from them. And since ISoldIt aggregates sellers, they are (or at least, they claim to be) the #1 Seller on eBay, which can actually help your item get sold.
A real bricks & mortar implementation of an eCommerce idea. I’m surprised I hadn’t heard of it before now…
Returned that tie you got for Christmas and don’t know what to do with the resulting gift card? Know someone who’s birthday is December 27th and frustrated by the lack of items on the shelves in the recently ransacked stores? Have no fear – Matthew Baldwin is here with his 2007
Holiday Christmas Survival Guide for Slackers Cultural Warriors. I encourage you to click through, and peruse the whole thing, but allow me to call out some of the highlights:
There’s the Electronic Rock, Paper, Scissors Keychain (pictured) for when you just can’t be bothered to make a decision and change the shape of your hand all at the same time.
Then there’s a series of exercise bikes and treadmills connected to video game controllers, so your kids can get some actual exercise while playing video games, helping them to narrowly avoid the whole “go outside and play actual sports” thing.
Oh, and if you have a dollar but can’t find a match to burn it with, you can always send someone a GIF image of a Christmas gift and Facebook will take the dollar off your hands for you.
Moving on, we have the Viag-Ring, which is a plastic ring that holds a single Viagra tablet underneath a piece of glass (I’m guessing plastic, but whatever…) that says, “In Case of Emergency, Break Glass” (also pictured).
And finally, since we are approaching an election year, there’s the Hillary Nutcracker. I think this one pretty much speaks for itself.
So there you have it, my favorite items from Matthew Baldwin’s list of his favorite items available for purchase this holiday season. Happy Exchanging, everyone…
This is awesome:
According to Chris Kelly at the The Huffington Post, earlier this month, Mitt Romney said this:
I saw my father march with Martin Luther King
Chris then decides to fuel the Gaffe Machine as follows:
So, well, that’s that. Except, according to a report in the Boston Phoenix, it turns out that depends on what your definition of “saw” is. And “march.” And “with.” And “Martin Luther King.”
Because it never happened.
“A spokesperson for Mitt Romney now tells the Phoenix that George W. Romney and Martin Luther King Jr. marched together in June, 1963 — although possibly not on the same day or in the same city.” … Romney spokesperson Eric Fehrnstrom suggests that these two were part of the same “series” of events, co-sponsored by King and the NAACP, and is thus consistent with Romney’s claim that ‘I saw my father march with Martin Luther King.’”
And so now we have an Al Gore “I invented the Internet” moment. Gore, of course, will go down in history as the person who handled situations like this as badly as any human possibly could. Let’s see how Mitt Romney does:
“When we say, ‘I saw the Patriots win the World Series, it doesn’t necessarily mean you were there — excuse me, the Super Bowl. I saw my dad become president of American Motors. Did that mean you were there for the ceremony? No, it’s a figure of speech.”
Good rule of thumb: when you’re trying to clarify something you said that confused everyone, it’s helpful not to have to make corrections during your correction. Not that anyone who is actually listening would have trouble deciphering what he said, but those (like Mr. Kelly) who are striving to turn the whole thing into a race-changing Gaffe will use it to reinforce the “he’s hiding something” meme.
It seems clear that what Romney meant to say (should have said?) was this:
I [was inspired by] my father march[ing in solidarity with] Martin Luther King['s ideals].
Because even the so-called “evidence” cited by Chris Kelly supports that statement. Also, it has the added benefit of making the point that Romney was trying to make before a helpful writer like Chris Kelly did his best to distract us all.
After the final game of the 2007 World Series, catcher Jason Varitek gave the gamee-ending ball (a strikeout) to relief pitcher Jonathan Papelbon. Papelbon claims he doesn’t have it anymore because his dog ate it.
“[My bulldog, Boss] plays with baseballs like they are his toys,” Papelbon told the Hattiesburg (Miss.) American. “He jumped up one day on the counter and snatched it. He likes rawhide. He tore that thing to pieces. Nobody knows that. I’ll keep what’s left of it.”
Red Sox spokesman John Blake says, “the ball was in the hands of one of the players and we take his word at what happened to it.”
OK, John, but I think you’re going to be the only one…
Lots of little things today:
1) 2007 Top 10 Finalists – Best Visual Illusion of the Year Contest (Hat tip: Lisa Fiorenzo)
2) Soundboard.com – 78,000+ sound files, broken down into 6,000+ “Soundboards.” Find “soundboards” from your favorite movies, tv shows, celebrities, etc. It’s the YouTube of sound clips…
3) Just when you thought Britney Spears was as messed up as she was going to get:
- Her 16-year old younger sister, Jamie Lynn Spears, is three months pregnant.
- Jamie Lynn is the star of “Zoey 101,” a show on Nickelodeon that’s popular with preteens. Or at least she was. Nickelodeon says the show has already wrapped it’s “fourth and final” season. I’m guessing the writers’ strike wasn’t the issue here.
- She says the baby’s father is her “long-time” boyfriend, Casey Aldridge, who is 19 years old. Just how “long-time” could this possibly be?
But here’s where it goes beyond messed up to just plain weird:
- Britney and Jamie Lynn’s mother, Lynne Spears, was under contract with a Christian book publisher to publish a parenting book, tentatively titled, “Pop Culture Mom: A Real Story of Fame and Family in a Tabloid World.” The publisher calls it “a parenting book that’s going to have faith elements to it.” It had been set for publication on Mother’s Day in May 2008, but is now on hold indefinitely.
- Jamie Lynn gave an interview about her pregnancy to OK! magazine and, according to TMZ.com, OK! has offered her $1 million for an exclusive photo shoot after the baby is born
This is wrong on so many levels, just the thought of typing it all up makes my head hurt.
4) Time’s Person of the Year for 2007 is . . . You again! No, just kidding. It’s Vladmir Putin. The title of the article is “A Tsar is Born.” Clever title, although I think he wins for being infamous as opposed to famous. Yet another contest Al Gore could have won but didn’t, me thinks. At any rate, this site is kind of cool. It shows you the covers for all the Person of the Year issues, dating back to 1927, and lets you view them by category – US Political and Military Leaders (30), International Leaders (31), Business and Technology (5), Science and Medicine (5), Religion and Philanthropy (3), and Concepts (7).
5) Finally, a quick Instapundit roundup. Glenn was chock full of blogabble stuff today:
- Did you know that 70 Senators, including 22 Democrats, voted to extend the Iraqi war funding by $70 million on Tuesday? Wasn’t it just a few weeks ago that Democrats were vowing to end the war? The 2006 Congress marked the “end of the rubber stamp Congress,” right? Maybe this had something to do with it.
- Did you know that printer ink costs roughly $8,000 per gallon? And that ink monitoring software tells you the cartridge is out of ink when it is an average of 20% full? The worst offender, by the way, is Kodak’s EasyShare 5300 which would have you waste an astounding 64% of the ink! I’ve never understood why people don’t just turn off those ink monitors and print until the printouts start degrading (always keeping a spare cartridge handy, of course). That way, you know you haven’t wasted any…
- Did you know that the free market seems to be doing what the Kyoto treaty could not do? Some fascinating stats, comparing 1997 (the year before Kyoto was signed) to 2004 (latest available data):
- Emissions worldwide increased 18.0%.
- Emissions from countries that signed the treaty increased 21.1%.
- Emissions from non-signers increased 10.0%.
- Emissions from the U.S. increased 6.6%.
- Emissions from the U.S. grew slower than those of over 75% of the countries that signed Kyoto.
That’s all for now…
…his father, George Romney:
I’m not usually one for the whole “he looks just like his father thing,” but my lord – this picture is eerie, no? When I first saw it in the paper, my reaction was, “why is that picture of Mitt Romney in black and white?” Looking more closely, I still have trouble believing it’s not him…
Two weeks ago, the Washington Post called good news about Iran’s nuclear weapons program A Blow to Bush’s Tehran Policy.
|Category||This week||Peak Level||Peak Time|
|Weekly Attacks||<600||1600||June, 2007|
|Deaths per Month||600||3000||December, 2006|
|High-Profile Attacks per Month||50||130||March, 2007|
|IED Attacks per Day||20||60||May, 2007|
|Ethno-Sectarian Deaths per Month||250||2200||December, 2006|
The site also points out that we’ve found (and cleared) almost 6,200 weapons caches so far this year, up from less than 2,700 in 2006 (and just over 1,700 in 2004).
So, two questions:
First, why isn’t this front page news? It was certainly front page news when the numbers were going in the other direction, or when every politician and their mother was running to a podium to declare the “Surge” a failed strategy before it even began. Is the war only a story of national interest when it’s going badly?
Second, and especially for the Bush-haters out there, isn’t now the time to call out the President on the original purpose of the Surge? If I remember correctly, our goal was to control the violence so that the Iraqi government could take the political steps necessary to maintain their own security, so that our men and women could come home. Why isn’t President Bush using this golden opportunity to publicly hammer the Iraqi government about showing demonstrable progress? For that matter, why isn’t Nancy Pelosi doing the same? Or are we only interested in bringing our troops home when things are going badly as well? I’m sure as Christmas approaches, they and their families would disagree.