Rants & Ramblings

random commentary about culture, media, politics, technology and whatnot.

may
23
2003

e-bore

The life of a tech-head is one slightly removed from “reality.” We’re the early adopters. We’re the ones with the distaste for formality and varying anti-establishment tendencies. We’re the ones who get inordinately amused by random Internet fads (“all your …

may
14
2003

'the matrix' and religion

The Christian Science Monitor has an interesting article on the clash of religions — and religious interpretations — in The Matrix. (“The Gospel According to Neo” - 05/09/03) “There’s two ways to look at this from a Christian perspective,” says …

may
12
2003

bonding through pop culture

Slate’s David Plotz offers some suggestions of what can be done in Iraq to help unify the populace and promote stability. (“Can’t the Iraqis All Just Get Along?” - 05/09/03) A good, surprisingly simple suggestion: unity through pop culture. Sports …

may
09
2003

typing monkeys

Contrary to the popular saying, an infinite number of typing monkeys probably won’t eventually produce Shakespearean writings. Or at least, they didn’t in one case, involving 6 monkeys locked in a room with a computer. (Wired: “Monkeys Don’t Write Shakespeare” …

extended adolescence

An interesting new study out of the University of Chicago: The law may imply that you’re a grown-up when you’re old enough to vote, serve in the military or drink legally. But most Americans really think adulthood begins at age …

may
02
2003

loyalty

Yesterday was apparently Loyalty Day. In honor of the occasion, I give you this passage from Catch-22. Almost overnight the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade was in full flower, and Captain Black was enraptured to discover himself spearheading it. He had …

apr
28
2003

remote controlled — and increasingly fragmented

The Los Angeles Times ran a story two weeks ago about the cultural impact of the remote control, and the effect channel-surfing may have had on viewers’ comprehension of the televised war coverage. (“Revolution by Remote” - 04/13/03) In its …

apr
27
2003

clipping coupons

Random thoughts as I peruse the Sunday coupon inserts… McDonald’s coupons: “Buy an entree Salad and get $1.00 off any Happy Meal or Mighty Kids Meal” / “Buy an entree Salad and get a free bottled water or medium drink” …

apr
22
2003

are marrieds happier?

Yesterday’s Washington Post features (yet another) study that looks into whether people really are happier after they get married. (“Does a Ring Bring Happiness, or Vice Versa?” - 04/21/03) The result of this study: There may be an uptick in …

apr
21
2003

wal-mart guilt

The Gazette (of Colorado Springs) has an interesting piece on what it’s calling “Wal-Mart guilt”: The mental discomfort felt by people who don’t like Wal-Mart, but shop there anyway. (Posted at azcentral.com: “Wal-Mart Guilt: Many shop the store, but don’t …

apr
20
2003

american pop culture in iraq

Today’s Los Angeles Times has a piece about the things that have been found in the palaces of Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi leadership types. (“Treading on the Trappings of Hussein’s High Life” - 04/20/03) The story notes the surprising …

apr
18
2003

you are what you read?

This month’s Atlantic Monthly has a fascinating article by Timothy W. Ryback about two largely forgotten collections from Adolf Hitler’s personal library at the Library of Congress and Brown University. Ryback examined the contents of each collection, and, in this …

apr
11
2003

a world of insults

In light of the widely-televised show of Iraqis beating the fallen statue of Saddam Hussein with their shoes, the Washington Post has a story about insulting gestures around the world. (“Worst Foot Forward: A Guide to Foreign Insults” - 04/10/03) …

mar
14
2003

identity theft gets scarier

MSNBC reports on about a decidedly scary case of identity theft in Wisconsin. (“The darkest side of ID theft” - 03/09/03) Over the past five years, Malcolm Byrd has several times been arrested on drug charges, lost his job, and …

mar
03
2003

anywhere but here

According to a global “quality of life” survey by UK-based Mercer Human Resource Consulting, Zurich, Vancouver and Vienna are the best overall places to live in terms of personal safety. And Washington, DC? It’s the lowest-ranking North American city on …

feb
27
2003

sad news

Fred Rogers, better known as children’s television personality “Mister Rogers,” died today of stomach cancer at the age of 74. (“Fred Rogers, Host of TV’s ‘Mister Rogers’ Dies at 74” - 02/26/03) News accounts of his death no doubt will …

feb
19
2003

shopping holiday

I found this interesting quote in a WP story about disrupted Presidents’ Day holiday sales: (“Area Shopping Malls Reopen, Resume Sales After 2-Day Shutdown” - 02/19/03) George Whalin, president and chief executive of Retail Management Consultants, said retailers figure they …

feb
14
2003

capitalism at work

You can see capitalism at its most basic, supply-and-demand level here on the streets of Washington, DC. The street vendors here in DC seem prepared for every holiday, every meteorological event, every eventuality. I see them outside the Foggy Bottom …

feb
13
2003

how do you pronounce 'pecan'?

Harvard University has an interesting online dialect study going on. Respondents are asked a series of questions about how they pronounce a particular word, or how they describe a certain object / activity. The most interesting part of this site …

feb
12
2003

gamers of the world unite

The Poynter Institute’s E-Media Tidbits weblog points to an interesting Associated Press story. Many games are now all about role-playing, and some players aren’t participating to escape terrestrial life. They’re getting on virtual soapboxes and organizing all manner of protests …

feb
09
2003

patron saint of the internet

CNN ran a story last week about an online campaign to nominate a patron saint for the Internet. (“Bishops seek saint for Internet” - 02/01/03) The Italian site Santie Beati is running an Internet poll where users can vote for …