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Archive for February, 2008

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Paris Hilton Speaks at Harvard

Monday, February 11th, 2008

Oh, wow – this story has so many ironic twists in it, I just had to post about it.
(Hat tip: Yvette Aikens)

First of all, Harvard’s Lampoon magazine declared Paris Hilton the “Woman of the Year.”.

Next, upon hearing about the award, Paris Hilton agrees to come to Harvard and accept the tropy in person. Apparently, she doesn’t know (and nobody told her) what the word Lampoon means.

Then, it’s raining on the day of the event, and about 200 Harvard students wait more than an hour in the rain to see her.

Next, Lampoon’s president, Chris Schleicher, is accused of pulling a prank. He has to stave off an increasing wet and impatient crowd by saying, “All of you can stab me if she doesn’t come. She’s really coming.”

But, of course, this is Harvard, so intelligent discourse eventually provides the proper perspective. First, we have Matthew Sussman, a 26-year old English major who says, “Someone just accosted me and said, ‘Why would you stand in the rain for Paris Hilton?’ But I think that she is an icon and we see her image multiplied numerous times and numerous ways.” Good point, Matthew. Good point. Matthew also added, “It’s also a dubious distinction. We don’t know if she is in on the joke or not,” proving that he’s not a total idiot.

Then Paris finally arrived and provided the student the kind of intellectual red meat you’d expect from such a weighty mind: “You guys are so hot. Harvard’s hot.”

I smell commencement speech…

Categories: The World Wide Weird | 2 Comments »

Dolly Parton postpones tour, blames breasts

Monday, February 11th, 2008

The title of this post is an actual headline at MSNBC.com (as opposed to, say, The Onion).

Here’s the pull quote:

LOS ANGELES – Dolly Parton’s breasts may be two of the wonders of the entertainment world, but the country music icon says they are a pain in her back.

Parton, 62, said on Monday she would postpone her upcoming North American tour after doctors told her to take it easy for six to eight weeks to rest her sore back.

“Hey, you try wagging these puppies around a while and see if you don’t have back problems,” the folksy singer-songwriter said in a statement.

Has anyone else noticed that the person most directly responsible for Dolly Parton’s famous breasts is . . . Dolly Parton? Especially now that she’s 62 years old, and the world has folks, like Pamela Anderson and Paris Hilton, who promote their breasts by making “accidental” porno videos with their boyfriends, rather than just talking about them all the time?

Not that I’m suggesting Dolly needs a new marketing strategy. I’ve seen all I need to see, thank you very much…

Categories: Words about Music | No Comments »

More Moon from Margaret!

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

Anyone who has kids is surely familiar with Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon. Entertaining kids since 1947, and no one’s quite sure why…

If that includes you, then you’ll probably be interested to know that her sister recently found a “sheaf of yellow pages held together by paper clips” in Margaret’s attic, which turned out to be a sequel to the now-famous book.

The new book, entitled The Moon Shines Down will be available, including Clement Hurd-style illustrations by Linda Bleck, in November of 2008.

Goodnight, nobody. Goodnight, mush. And goodnight to the blogger whispering, “Hush.”

Categories: Random Acts of Blogging | No Comments »

What’s another meme between friends…

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

Another request from Jason Bennion (I aim to please). This one’s called the 123 Meme.

1. Pick up the nearest book ( of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.

Well, the book currently in my laptop bag is James Patterson’s 7th Heaven. To page 123 we go (if this gives away the murderer, I’m going to blame it all on Jason…)

Reluctantly, Conklin said, “My notes would be more of a verbatim account, but —”

“But still, you felt it was appropriate to throw them out? Is there a shortage of storage space at the Hall of Justice?”

OK, Jason, you’re safe for now. And yes, in Patterson’s universe, the place where all the San Fransisco cops work is called The Hall of Justice. I keep reading them because I’m waiting for Wonder Woman to return on her invisible jet with Aquaman, Batman & Robin, and the Wonder Twins (Form of: something completely unuseful in this situation! Shape of: something random and completely incompatible with what you’re forming! Someone find that damn monkey – he’ll ironically save the day!)

OK, tagging five people. This is problematic. I only know a small number of people who both read my blog and have a blog of their own. So I’m going to have to be creative here:

1) Jeff Porten
2) Mike Chenoweth (Thank God Jason didn’t tag him – gives me another name…)
3) and 4) Someone of Jeff’s and Mike’s choosing (see how now they have to pick six people? Pretty devious, huh?)
5) You. Yeah, you – the guy/gal reading my blog because Google brought you here and you just can’t look away. Like staring at a car wreck. Well, now you’ve gone and done it. You don’t even know me, and I’ve tagged you with a blog meme. You’ll be thrown out of the blogosphere forever if you don’t respond when tagged with a blog meme. It’s true! I read about it on the InterTubes…

Categories: Random Acts of Blogging | No Comments »

Now that we’ve solved that problem, the Really Big Survey…

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

Well now, how can I resist playing with my new toy? Here ya go, folks, 148 random facts about me that you didn’t know and never really cared to ask…

Read the rest of this entry »

Categories: Random Acts of Blogging | 4 Comments »

Post Breaks in Blogger – The Real Answer

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

The other day, Jason Bennion posted a blog meme called the Really Big Survey, consisting of 148 random questions about his life. Then Ilya posted it as well. I was going to participate, but demurred because I don’t have Post Break logic in Blogger (you know, where the first part of the post is visible on the main page, and then you click through to read the rest?), so 148 questions would push every other post in the blog to the archives.

Then, I started thinking, “Well why the heck don’t I have Post Break logic in Blogger?” Enter my good friend, Google.

The most definitive entry on the topic was this one from Blogger’s own help pages. It gives very detailed instructions about adding the Post Break to your main page, and then hiding the rest of the post’s text until the user clicks through to the detail. I eagerly implemented the fix, but soon realized that by modifying the blog template the way they did, the Post Break link wound up appearing on every single post, whether there was more text behind it or not.

Since the convention is to put that link only on posts that have more to read, I deemed this result unacceptable. On the upside, however, the instructions gave me enough of an understanding of how the logic works to write it myself. And so, (drumroll, please…) if you’d like to know how to put Post Break logic in your Blogger blog…

Read the rest of this entry »

Categories: Tech Talk | 3 Comments »

The 2008 Elections – Indexed for your reading pleasure…

Friday, February 8th, 2008

I’ve been a big fan of Jessica Hagy, author of the Indexed blog, for some time. Now, she’s done a 2008 Election roundup for alt.campaign which is excellent. Here’s my favorite, but you should definitely click through and see them all.


Categories: Political Rantings | No Comments »

Referral URLs in Blogger

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

For months now, I’ve been missing the ability to look at a particular page (or post) on my site, and find out exactly what page is driving people to visit it. My old Yahoo! GeoCities stats provided that capability, but Google Analytics never did. The best it would do is tell me which domains were sending traffic my way, and even that didn’t happen on a page by page basis, only for the site as a whole. Also, the Navigation Summary stats are somewhat flawed, since they always seem to suggest that the most popular source for a page (and the most popular destination) is the page itself. So either I’ve got lots of readers who click Reload a lot, or they’ve got a bug.

But all that has changed thanks to Reuben Yau, who has offered two ways to achieve this goal. The first is to use Google Analytics’ Filters function, which puts the referral URL in the “User Defined Value” section. The second involves modifying the tracking code that GA puts on each page on your site, in order to embed the referral URL in the existing stats. This seemed more complicated and more invasive, so I went with the first option and in just one day, I’m getting all the information I wanted (including specific search queries from the likes of Google, Ask, Yahoo and others that drove people to specific pages).

Reuben’s awesome post provides not only instructions, but screen shots on the setup process and resulting stats, so you can be sure you got things right.

Way to go, Reuben!

Categories: Tech Talk | 1 Comment »

Count von Count gets nasty…

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

This is probably as close to this blog comes to off-color humor, although there’s technically nothing dirty in here at all. That said, I laughed so hard I nearly choked:

Ladies and gentlemen, Sesame Street’s Count von Count discussing what he does when the kids aren’t watching:

(hat tip: Vicky Parysek)

Categories: Random Acts of Blogging | 1 Comment »

James Lileks sums up Super Tuesday

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

Once again, James Lileks does a masterful job of describing exactly how I feel about something that’s happening in the world:

“I’m going to vote for President Hillary,” (G)Nat said when we got home. I asked her why.

“Because she is a woman and she seems like a good leader.”

Well, let’s just Godwin the hell out of this for grins.

“Would you vote for Hitler if he was a woman?”

She stopped and glared. DAD.

“I’m not saying she’s anything like Hitler,’ I said. ‘She’s not at all. But would you vote for someone just because they were a woman?”

“And she seems like a good leader I said. Hitler was not a good leader.”

I considered noting that Hitler was an effective shaper of public opinion as well, but decided to ask her what made a good leader.

“Deciding the best things for people.”

We had a little talk about taxes, and she was surprised to find that the President and the Congresses can just take your money. “That’s wrong.”

Sigh. Careful. This is civics, not brainwashing.

“No, it’s not wrong. We all agree to pay taxes for things we need. We don’t always agree on how much to pay, or what to spend them on. But if they take too much, then we can’t go to Disneyworld.”

Okay, now it was brainwashing. Her eyes grew wide. “I vote for Obama.”

“He might raise taxes, too.”

She looked bereft: “who else is there then?”

Welcome to the club, child.

My own 7-year old asked me the other night who I was “rooting for” in today’s election. I told him that we call it “voting” and not “rooting,” and that I really wasn’t sure yet, so I wasn’t going to vote for anyone.

Tough civics lesson, there – I’m sure they’re drilling it into his head that it’s his sacred duty to vote when he turns 18, and here’s Dad telling him he’s abstaining because he has no opinion just yet. The truth is that I knew my ideas lined up pretty well with Rudy Giuliani, but now that he’s not running, I simply don’t know enough about McCain or Romney to make an informed choice. According to Wikipedia (Dems, Reps) there have been a total of 43 debates so far, and what little I’ve seen of them has not encouraged me to watch more. And so I’ll sit out the New Jersey primary, and do my research on the two who are chosen (by others) to run.

I supsect that most people are as uninformed as I am, but are voting today anyway. I’m not sure how I feel about that. If you don’t know anything about the candidates, what’s more important? Excercising your sacred right to vote, or not muddying the results with an uninformed vote? Maybe we should have 43 debates on the topic…

Taking the point a bit further, I also suspect that a significant segment of the population feels informed because they’ve been hearing about poll results for the last nine months, and are simply voting for the person about whom they’ve heard good things lately. Case in point: there was a man on the street corner in front of my train station this morning holding an octag sign. I didn’t have a digital camera with me, but I’ve recreated the sign to the right. Basically, this says to me, “Vote for Obama – he’s winning.”

Of course, people are free to vote for whatever reasons they choose, but if this truly is the trend, I wonder whether all of these opinion polls are affecting the outcome (see the Observer Effect). And if that’s the case, I think perhaps we could do with a little less information about what everyone thinks.

Categories: Political Rantings | No Comments »

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