wow - Cherry Top with Chocolate Peninsula Desk Wall Unit $3,400



Congress Orders Investigation Into Pentagon Propaganda Aimed at Citizens

It is finally time for the American people to know the truth.



From Reuters, via Jeremy: "A U.S. two dollar bill is taped to the revolving door leading to the Bear Stearns global headquarters in New York March 17, 2008. JPMorgan Chase & Co said on Sunday it would buy stricken rival Bear Stearns for just $2 a share in an all-stock deal that values the U.S. investment bank at the centre of the credit crisis at about $236 million."


On a Lady, Presidential Candidate

Well, Maureen Dowd's well written article ("¿Quién Es Less Macho?" NYT, 2/24/08) first struck me as a prototypical product of political journalism forcing out a strong thesis at the cost of misrepresenting reality. Then, on second thought, I realized that the author is getting at part of what I was trying to say without all the researched details: that Hillary has had to play a different sort of game-- dancing backwards in heels, if you will.

Now to me, this is a bit like trial by fire to me, which has made her stronger, more flexible, more resilient, forced her to pay more attention and give more care to the changing demands of others.

Aside from this though, Dowd aims to point out that Hillary has honed herself as "one of the boys" at the expense of the vital feminine elements she could have--and her male opponent does--bring to the campaign, and presumably could bring to the White House. This is where I think Dowd is stretching---to bring a stunning eloquent thesis, replete with turns of surprise and ironic tragedy to the printed page at the cost of misrepresenting the situation and damaging the candidates (maybe both).

OK, in a way Dowd is right to the extent that, and here is the hard part to swallow, her message and the willingness of many others-- journalists, voters and otherwise-- to portray Hillary as somehow a traitor to her sex and a callous, overreaching Machiavelli who has designed herself in the cast of her desired image is both impossibly sexist and at once an intentionally selective abuse of a common criticism of politicians.

Hillary, as a female candidate, is forced purely by her sex, the fact of being a woman, to safeguard her position as a strong leader. This political necessity of the campaign is a strategy, not the essence of a candidate. In other words, if we were to transpose any other candidate into her shoes, they would--regardless of their political thoughts and personality--come to the same conclusion and play the same strategy.

That is commonly acknowledged. But what is not is that it is a testament to our society --- that we are, in a more imperceptible and less obvious way, not ready as a country to elect a woman to the Presidency. Our society is still stuck in putting undue pressures on a candidate who happens to be female, pressure sufficiently strong as to be an overarching force on the candidacy and play a dominant role shaping the foundations of that campaign.

Now, the question becomes, how has Hillary reacted to this? Has she, as Dowd asserts in her column, bowed entirely to this sexist wont --- a social discrimination on the societal scale that she is at once required to in some way to respond to internally and yet outwardly feign ignorance?

And so does Hillary successfully "out-macho" her opponents, to quote Dowd? That is a determination for us each individually to calculate. But, I would suggest to you that although on an electoral level the perception of that trait may play its part, this does not mean it needs to influence either your evaluation of this candidate as an individual or impact your vote.

Perhaps it is worthwhile to stop here and point out why she must feign ignorance. To publicly acknowledge this tide of subtle yet formidable sexism would inflame the following negative effects: first, if Hillary were to admit that the country is still fundamentally sexist, she would inadvertently suggest to the Democratic Party that her sex makes her unelectable and therefore, she could potentially prematurely forfeit herself from inclusion in the race. Second, were Hillary to discuss the sexism she faces openly it would cause both the press to jump on the hot story of a Presidential candidate and a well-known public figure putting forth accusations against the very electorate from whom she wishes to garner votes and, simultaneously, draw attention away from the substance of her campaign. She wishes to run for President, for change, not against something, a societal problem or otherwise.

Third, in bringing focus to the inherent sexism to which her campaign must react--or rather, simply illuminating the elephant in the room--Hillary would be sending forth the message that she is a feminist of the type that 'criticizes' rather than 'solves problems'. The prior is a negative stereotype that has emerged by illogically bifurcating it from the latter in our cultural consciousness. From her beginnings as a political activist, through her marriage to the Governor of Arkansas, to her role in the Clinton Administration, Hillary became labeled as a ring leader of that first group of feminists--the type good old fashioned folks "just didn't like and they didn't know why". She was and is, of course, not in any way limited to this negative stereotype of a confrontational feminist--no more than any feminist is, no more than the stereotype holds integrity itself. However, if the history of politics has proven anything, it is that appearances can be everything. And so yes, insofar as discrimination is a reality and reputation is power, then Hillary Clinton begins at a deficit, even if in character, accomplishments, experience, and political and moral education, she is a diamond in the rough.

A diamond in the rough is not a cliche I use lightly. Based on whom she is and what she has done, I believe she is a diamond. But in what rough? That skin as rough as any needed to get a human being--a brother, a mother, an individual--through the scorching Presidential political race and into the White House, except hers needs to a be a bit thicker to prove she is not a girl, but a man who happens to be female.

Someday, to be a woman will be enough, but that day has not yet come. Sadly. Will it come before November? Well, in an imperceptibly small way, I hope this will help. If nothing else, it is a salve for me to write down these thoughts, which have been itching within me these past few weeks.



Snow Packed

I'm planning a snowboarding trip with a group of friends--including more than a few first-time boarders. So I'm rounding up tips from reflections on my first snowboarding trips as a novice boarder. This is the first in a three-part series of posts: with the first on gear, the second running through boarding the mountain, and the last a few niceties what I wish I'd known before my first time boarding.

For a beginning boarder, good gear is especially valuable: it can make the difference in keeping your spirits up, the difference between falling the fifth time while you're wet and cold, and falling and getting right back up for another (better) run. When you're learning, you want as few negative distractions as possible: bring the right gear and give yourself the advantage in learning.

When you're learning (and fooling around and floundering while trying to learn) you're going to want to be comfortable, padded and stay as dry as possible. You are going to land on your ass, you are going eat some snow--


  • SNOWBOARD (rent/borrow)
  • BOARDING BOOTS & BINDINGS (rent/borrow)
  • BOARDING PANTS (rent/borrow)
  • WATERPROOF GLOVES (ideally, snowboarding gloves)
  • BEANIE (stylish as you all are, I'm sure you already have three)
  • SCARF (you may want to just zip your jacket, but I find the collar gets in my way--remember you'll be boarding sideways--and I want to unzip to cool off.)
    • I <3 mine.
    • Ideally, snowboarding socks. (If you buy one piece of gear for the trip--I recommend this.)
  • GOGGLES (Get/borrow real snow goggles if you can. You want maximum visibility--especially since as a beginner you won't know what to expect going down the mountain. Sunglasses work, but they'll probably come flying off.)
    • This means a snow jacket, OR
    • My first few times out, I just took a large Northface rain jacket and wore multiple long-sleeved layers underneath. If you go this route and you want to keep toasty, like me, try to include a combination of these layers (yes, all of them):
      • a silken/underwear
      • a thermal layer
      • a breathable poly-blend layer (like a running shirt)
      • 1-2 long-sleeve cotton shirts
      • and (if you're really cold) a sweatshirt.
Note: Do not bring a down jacket unless it's waterproof. Down is not an effective insulator when it's wet.

  • IBUPROPHIN (trust me)
  • SNACK (stick a power bar in your jacket so you don't have to stop in the middle of your run to pay obscene rates for the same thing at the lodge)
  • WALKIE-TALIKE (we like to play spy on the mountain ; ) They're also good for staying in touch--where cell phone coverage is bleak. If you have one, bring it.)

Post mountain
  • MOUNTAIN/SNOW BOOTS or the closest thing you have to it. My leather hiking boots work fine.
  • JACKET/SWEATSHIRT (your boarding jacket will be cold)
  • EXTRA SOCKS (just in case yours get wet)

In sum

> > DRESS IN LAYERS. so you can control your temperature. you'll get hot when you move. you'll get cold when you fall.
> > COVER YOUR EXTREMITIES. Head, hands, and fingers are the most vulnerable to the cold. Most heat loss will come from your head.
Do try on all your gear on at least once before you pack. I've seen underwear, socks and gloves forgotten this way--or alternately, miraculously remembered at the final hour.


BOREAL has a Beginner's Package: http://www.rideboreal.com/winter/lessons/beginner_packages
BOREAL/ http://www.rideboreal.com/winter/rentals/gear_rentals
SFO/ http://www.sfosnow.com/ @ Haight
REI/ http://www.rei.com/stores/rentals.html

Hope you find this helpful. If you have more suggestions or questions, add them to the comments.


Merry, Merry Quite Contrary

A little holiday humor and wishful thinking from Current TV.


Beleaguered by the Intelligentsia

A new work of intellectual history by puts forth that the brains have been behind our downfall all along. EconLog looks it over Bill Greene's Common Genius:

While a major theme of this book is that a historical progress has bubbled up from the bottom -- from the actions of the common men and women of history--a secondary theme is that most of history’s evils have come from the top--the intelligentsia, the organized groups, the soft-science experts who arise in mature societies and lead their nation’s decline.
Greene's over-arching intellectual theory is that intellectuals with over-arching theories are a the chief threat to civilization. In William Easterly's terms, ordinary people are Searchers, who try to improve things by trial and error. Intellectuals are Planners, whose grandiose attempts at top-down organization are doomed to failure, sometimes with a totalitarian mode of implementation in the process.


Wherefore art thou...?

House Aristos points to a Ronald Bailey article in Reason, “Our Intangible Riches”--interviewing "World Bank economist Kirk Hamilton about his team’s investigation into wealth and capital. The team’s results are published in Where is the Wealth of Nations?, available from the World Bank site. In short, the wealth of nations lies primarily in intangible capital; the education of the populace and the quality of social institutions."


Is it so tasty now?

Why Does a Salad Cost More Than a Big Mac?


the dud kernel that won't pop

What if the gov’t gave Apple $300 for each iPod they manufactured. They would make one billion iPods a month. What would happen next? They would sell them to other companies for $20 each, who would dissassemble them and make new consumer electronics out of the scavenged iPod parts. You would have telephones with scroll wheels and pink medicine cabinets made from Nano shells. The Sharper Image would sell The iPod Wall. This is a grid of 1,200 iPod screens coordinated to look like one massive iPod and costs a hundred dollars.

Replace iPods with corn kernels and you have the model for our federal food program.
Jakob Lodwick on the U.S. farm subsidies (read the whole thing) via Macro via OwenJ23
There should be a word for the dud kernels that won't pop. Someone should neologize that.


of love and life

On love and expectations.

So actually, I have to admit that I didn't intend to post that link...that was a fortuitous accident. But then DAL posted a comment--and I get the feeling there might be others who'd like it there. And yes, happily, it does apply to me too.



A marketing firm selected me to write a running blog for the next few days. If you're interested in reading my corny love-prangs about hammering the pavement whilst dodging sprinkler attacks and throngs of tourists, you may do so here: http://flamingo419melanie-colburn.blogspot.com/.

The marketing company, Greenberg Studios, also asked me to do an interview with their client...while running...on video. Decidedly prime-time material.


For the Entrepreneur in All of Us ;)

Fred's Top 10 Signs You're Made to be an Entrepreneur

10. You are unemployable. You can’t hold a job. You don’t want to hold a job. And you react to getting a job the same way a cat reacts when you try to give it a bath.

9. You are anti-authoritarian. You can’t fathom the thought of being anything less than Boss, President, Chairman, Don, and/or Emperor.

8. You have the uncanny ability to get other people to do all the work.

7. You are always looking for and/or seeing economic opportunity everywhere and in everything. While at a concert, you occupy yourself by estimating the evening’s take and its gross margins instead of listening to the music.

6. You spend more time and energy looking for easier, faster, cheaper, more effective ways of accomplishing something than if you just did the task outright.

5. You would enthusiastically trade a life-time pass to Disneyland for one ride in the Vomit Comet. In other words, you would give up a secure, even-keeled, bland existence for a life that whipsaws uncontrollably between exhilaration and terror.

4. You don’t see lack of money, lack of knowledge, and lack of experience as barriers to entry. You are also not deterred by the existence of formidable competition.
...the last three aren't as good.
via. http://lazyway.blogs.com

Fed up with Bush & Co.

“I’m just very disappointed,” he said glumly, as he sat in his living room. “Smaller government, lower spending, lower taxes, less regulation — they had the resources to do it, they had the knowledge to do it, they had the political majorities to do it. And they didn’t.”

Grandfather Greenspan is fed-up with the Bush League (NYT article).

And what does Greenspan, who recently put out a memoir entitled The Age of Turbulence, have to say in response to accussations that the Fed contributed to factors precipitating the housing bubble and hence its eventual burst?

“There has been a bit of historical revisionism going on,” Mr. Greenspan grumbled. The real force behind soaring real estate prices, he said, was a global one: a drop in worldwide inflation and interest rates, in part because of the end of the Cold War and the rise of China as a manufacturing colossus.

I think the Fed knew exactly what he was doing: making the best the best play he could in the short-run in an otherwise no-win situation. He was facing (it's true) much larger forces in the global capital markets, still waiting to have their effect in the future. But in addition, he was well aware (and warning) that a high national deficit, low savings/investment rates, and high consumer debt rate was a 'recipe for disaster' (if i may borrow that phrase). If you were sitting there watching both Americans and the government throw the long-term to the wind, then looking out the window at foreign markets and seeing multi-decade set-up for a dollar-drop waiting to peak... wouldn't you just go ahead and allow one more (inevitable) sweet bubble to rise before the reality hit?


Genetically-Coded Moral Game Theory

"But for animals that live in groups, selfishness must be strictly curbed or there will be no advantage to social living."

So, there's this fascinating article in the
NYT, "Is 'Do Unto Others' Written Into Our Genes?" about research on the genetic basis of our moral instincts and rules--- It's great. Go read it.--- But that's not really what I want to talk about. I just want to note my tangential "primitive gut reaction" to one of the first sentences of the article (above).

Mind wandering... Society and social relationships are just iterated games in the game theory model; right? So negotiating the terms of the relationship or social structure is like deciding the rules and the duration of the game. And, in light of the article, it seems we might have an instinctual drive to determine and shape those rules in order to prohibit or deter certain selfish behaviors.

It seems forming a relationship structure is essentially cementing of the game structure and length (singular, iterated? frequency?). There's a (conscious or unconscious) impetus to get that in place, because it effects the partner's (conscious or unconscious) strategy in the game.
How should I approach this situation if we share an established relationship or not? Should I tip the waiter when I'm out of town? Should I compromise because this my friend or is that person not part of one of my significant relationships?

The tip the waiter example is a classic of game theory textbooks, I think. It's interesting to think about this in terms of negotiating the relationship itself, though, and specifically in terms of it being biologically hard-wired over millions (thousands, according to the article) of years.

As with Netflicks, someone has probably thought about all this and done of a ton of research already. But I'm not on top of my academic reading in psychology, sociology, anthropology, cognitive science, biology, gender studies, stop me when I've lost you...

Which brings me to a final concluding note that is actually related to the article in question. Centuries or millennia from now, people are going to look back on all our social and pseudo-science disciplines of study (which I totally respect, by the way--mostly anyway) and think:

'Wow, so their brains were like 90% instinct and they were just growing rational parts, and they spent incredible amounts time, energy and resources towards figuring themselves out and trying to cope with their befuddled half-animal, half-modern brains. What a fascinating pack of hairless monkeys we come from!"

You know what we need?

A Last.fm for movies.

OK, fine, I just realized IMDb has a recommendation system based on user reviews. But that's not it. I'm talking about a similar system that tracks users viewing choices and then creates most-likely to like lists based on data. It would suggest not just movies you haven't seen from people who's movie tastes most closely match your own, but also suggest buddies that are statistically close to you in taste, so you can go ahead and browse their stash directly.

If you're not already familiar with Last.fm, you can check it all out at... Last.fm. The crux of it comes from a little app you download that 'listens in' to your iTunes choices. And, you can friend me too, for that matter.

OK, now someone go do that. 50-50, right?

**Oh wait, Netflicks already does this.
(Thanks, Peter) And no I didn't know--- wow, but I like!

Notes on Self-publishing

Mobile design expert, Cameron Moll recounts his experience self-publishing his new book and offers comparisons with the traditional publishing process of his first book. A useful read for anyone who's considered self-publishing: an outline of work process, motivations, costs and benefits.

...I just realized that I recently picked-up a copy of Moll's co-authored book, CSS Mastery. And now I have his blog, Authentic Boredom; how convenient.


Fair Use Fueling the Economy

From an interesting new Fair Use study by the Computer and Communications Industry Association:

The study -- which I encourage you to check out -- concludes that the "fair use economy" in 2006 accounted for $4.6 trillion in revenues (roughly one-sixth of total U.S. gross domestic product), employed more than 17 million people, and supported a payroll of $1.2 trillion (approximately one out of every eight workers in the US). It also generated $194 billion in exports and significant productivity growth. Using a methodology similar to a previous World Intellectual Property Organization guide, the results of the study demonstrate that fair use is an important economic driver in the digital age.

Copyright law involves a delicate balance, and here in the U.S. fair use is an important part of that equation. This study suggests that it's also an important part of the U.S. economy.
Quoted from the Google Blog, via Searchblog. The comments include some worthwhile notes on the implication of this data and "fair" comments about Google's awkward championing of this study.


As if you didn't know already...

"Bush didn't give a fuck about the intelligence. He had his mind made up," the other officer said.
A Salon exclusive by Sidney Blumenthal delivers the testimony of two more CIA officers, corroborating Tenent's report that Bush was aware of and buried intelligence that Iraq possessed no WMDs nor a program to build them.


The Bush Administration: Like America's Concerned Ex-boyfriend

"I know she has nothing to hide--but only because I've been monitoring her. The Bush Administration is like America's concerned ex-boyfriend--who's not psycho or insane--they just want to make sure you're OK! ...and not hooking up with any terrorists, like you promised."


Strung Along by Puppets

Over at Hyphen, I wrote down a few thoughts about Avenue Q, which I watched last night at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco. But let's face it, I wasn't doing much thinking after walking out the theatre doors. Mimicking the Bad Idea Bears was all my friends and I could do--with their open-armed gesticulations and brightly-sinister voices. I've been humming "It Sucks to Be Me" and "The Internet is for Porn" for a day now, with vocal back-up.

More than anything, it was a fantastic show. I was impressed by the sophistication of the humor, the wit of its currency and the timeless of its irony. Those puppets (with human hands up their asses) sometimes shocked me into good sense. It's so irreverent and honest for the sake of humor that it's been more effective in describing human relationships, social striving, and personal desires than most modern accounts I've come across-- fiction or nonfiction.

I hate to be over-exuberant especially since I know that catchy "da-da da-da-daAH!" sequence from "It Sucks to Be Me" is still rolling around my head-- but if you take some Brothers Karamazov, pull out the religion, throw in some puppets, excise the turgid criminality and add a little musical number-- I think you have something approaching the way Avenue Q has captured our modern human drama.

OK. Now go use the internet for what monsters intended....


My good friend, Lisamaria Martinez, just took home the silver medal for judo at the Para-Pan-American Games in Rio de Janerio. As the Union Bay Argus reports: "Although she hasn't officially qualified, it seems certain she will represent the United States at the Para-Olympics next year in Beijing."

The Argus also points out that LM has "chiseled calves and rock-solid quads". What they fail, though, to report is the real highlight of the event: the swarms of Brazilian men admiring her insanely buff arms.

Nicely done, LM-- all around! ;)


Invite: Relevant Parties Excluded

A conference on blogging that won't let in prototypical bloggers? Doesn't sound like the best idea, now does it?

Information Week discusses the "Blogging Convention Open Only To Traditional Press" (aka blogworld).

"Press credentials are open only to accredited members of the professional media and will require submission of articles and verification that you intend to write for a publication on the conference."
Wikipedia entry for "Publication": To publish is to make publicly known, and in reference to text and images, it can mean distributing paper copies to the public, or putting the content on a website.

[Update] A reader's comment made me realize I need to clarify this post:

The point of interest here is the Expo's muddled self-referential exclusion, not a protest of the exclusion per se. The Expo wants to clarify what blogging is and help bloggers establish themselves as new media. Yet, in the same stroke, the conference is unable to properly sort out bloggers from journalists effectively without getting caught in the tangle of the very definitions it's attempting to sort out. That is the point. I skipped underlining that because I thought it was self-evident.

Sharp, young eyes

Demand for a viewspaper--- no kidding.

There's a new survey by the reliably non-partisan Pew Research Center for the People and the Press: Roughly a quarter of Americans now use the Internet as their primary news source. Pew's study finds that the Web crowd is younger and better-educated than most Americans and far more dissatisfied with their country's news media. It's fair to assume that a substantial number of them are among the British papers' U.S. readers, people who want a "viewspaper." -- The Merc, via socialmedia.biz.
I've been thinking around customizing media for this newer generation, actually; so if anyone wants to kick around ideas about creating some media, let me know. It's nice to see this Pew study. I didn't really have any data to go on before, just some creative and unverified poking in the dark. Interested in a project?

What does $456 billion buy?

The estimated total cost for the Iraq War may reach $456 billion in September, according to the National Priorities Project. The amount got The Boston Globe wondering: What would $456 billion buy?
  • "14.5 million years through Harvard (44 million at UMass).
  • "Medicare benefits for one year.
  • "Eliminate starvation and malnutrition globally by 2015, while $30 billion would provide a year of primary education for every child on earth."

Just a quote...

"While certainly not dead, strategic planning has long since fallen from its pedestal. But even now, few people fully understand the reason: strategic planning is not strategic thinking. Indeed, strategic planning often spoils strategic thinking, causing managers to confuse real vision with the manipulation of numbers. And this confusion lies at the heart of of the issue: the most successful strategies are visions, not plans."

-- Henry Mintzberg, "The Fall and Rise of Strategic Planning" in MBA in a Box, edited by Joel Kurtzman.


The Onion Reports: Karl Rove Resigns!

I've been so waiting for this gag. :)

the onion.


Scrybe beta user!

After Scrybe's pre-beta announcement stood at my Digg #1 spot for 298 days--whilst major news and tech releases came and went-- Scrybe is finally in actual beta! And guess who's a beta user. :)

Don't have a clue what I'm talking about? Scrybe is a web-based calendar and scheduling service that translates into the 3-D world in which we live. Its features look not just intuitive-- but built around convention to work as you would want it to work. Also, it includes some functionality like Google Notebook and it prints into a nice origami stork! (well, something very close to that. maybe, an origami pigeon. it's been awhile since I watched the video)

Who is it for? People like me who write shit down, on paper-- people who scribble, takes notes, and need to fidget with folds. It's also for people who may have internet-access on their phones/PDAs but prefer not to bleed out of their nose per minute they need to access what time they need to be where (for the fifth time, in an hour!).

Anyway, I love giving comments and suggestions (read: ripping apart and helping to better rebuild) products as a beta user. So, here goes. :)