I owe you.
Small Oscar gathering tomorrow. Making tomato sauce and then baked ziti for the peeps. Six people, three dogs, small den, giant tv. Will take some pix & try to come up with some interesting anecdotes that have absolutely nothing to do with unions, dictators, sexual oppression or Ron Reagan.
Here’s something amusing to tide you over:
The lovely godhatesfags.com aka Westboro Church folks received a message recently that claimed to be from the group Anonymous. Anonymous is a group of hacktivists that take on groups that they are opposed to. They posted a press release indicating that the message was not from them. The video below is a discussion from one of the godhatesfags folks & someone from Anonymous.
The godhatesfags lady (who is part of the Phelps family – I think everyone in the church is from the family) is so obnoxious that during the talk, Anonymous hacks their site and then brings her attention to it.
Here’s what they did to the godhatesfags website (click to enbiggen):
Only 5 states do not have collective bargaining for educators and have deemed it illegal. Those states and their ranking on ACT/SAT scores are as follows:
South Carolina – 50th
North Carolina – 49th
Georgia – 48th
Texas – 47th
Virginia – 44th
If you are wondering, Wisconsin, with its collective bargaining for teachers, is ranked 2nd in the country.
This isn’t to say that the lack of collective bargaining explains these poor outcomes, of course, but it is true that the evidence that breaking teacher’s unions improves educational outcomes is somewhere between “exceptionally weak” and “non-existent.”
Link for details…
While hanging out (for 10 hours) at the Philadelphia Airport yesterday, I dropped by a Bose retail store and told them that my noise cancelling headphones (that I’ve had for a bazillion years and have been my faithful companion around the world several times) were broken (although I “fixed” them with electrical tape). They told me to bring them in & then they offered me a very good deal on either the QuietComfort 15 noise cancelling headphones (which are the newer version of the ones I had) or the QuietComfort 3 noise cancelling headphones (which are smaller & have a rechargeable battery but are more expensive).
I tried them both on and listened to them and decided to go with the larger QuietComfort 15s. They’re more comfortable and I think that the noise cancelling is better because they cover your whole ear. Sizewise, it’s not that big a difference IMHO.
They only charged me $99 for the replacement pair (they retail for $299 – don’t look for deals – Bose doesn’t seem to allow anyone to discount their stuff – at least not legitimately). I am a fan of these headphones, and recommend them highly, especially if you travel on airplanes. They are comfy and the noise cancelling capabilities are amazing. I use them even if I’m not listening to music or podcasts (you can remove the cable if you’re doing this). Yes, they’re expensive and big and a bit of a pain to lug around. It’s definitely a consideration. But it’s worth it to me because it makes flying much more pleasant.
If you're at work, either put on your headphones or save it for when you get home because there's some naughty language in here.
Yes I’ve been busy posting amusing stuff I’ve discovered on the interwebs but haven’t posted much about the AmyGeek recently. Hmmmm…. believe me, if there was anything particularly fab going on, you’d know.
I do think I have finally found my groove in my job though, which is a relief. It’s still stressful and frustrating at times, but I feel like I know what I’m doing (in general) and that I’m really helping people out and getting things accomplished more than wheel spinning. I’m not one of those folks who can just be satisfied with showing up each day & getting paid. (Although sometimes I wish I were). We’re at midyear review time and this will be my first review with this manager, so I’m waiting to see how he does.
Heading back east to a wedding today. I’ll post more about that later but looking forward to having a long weekend.
Ummmm….see why I haven’t been posting?
Lara Logan from CBS News got attacked and
raped sexually assaulted in Egypt. Some right wing anti-Muslim folks are stirring things up saying that this shows that all Muslims are violent. I disagree. First of all, Egypt is not all Muslim. One of the most touching pix I saw from the uprising was of Christians surrounding praying Muslims to protect them. Secondly, she was rescued by Egyptians – so if they are all Muslim, then the people who helped her must have also been Muslim. I was impressed that she was rescued by women. It’s a terrible thing that happened to her and I hope that she’s getting the support and care that she deserves. She certainly doesn’t deserve every troll on the internet jumping on this and trying to score points for their side.
Obama refused to cut any military funding? He’s on my side? I forget.
Also, I read in Newsweek (just pulled it out of the recycle bin to make sure I quote it accurately – and here’s a link to the article if you want to read it) that drone attacks targeting various folks we want to kill (“neutralize”) in Afghanistan have increased significantly under Barry’s rule.
From the article:
From 2004 to 2008, Bush authorized 42 drone strikes, according to the New America Foundation. The number has more than quadrupled under President Obama—to 180 at last count.
In defense of a hard-nosed approach, administration officials say the aerial-drone strikes are wiping out Qaeda militants and reducing the chances of another terrorist attack. They have also been careful to reassure the public that the killings are legal. When NEWSWEEK asked the administration for comment, a U.S. official who declined to be identified addressing such a sensitive subject said: “These CT [counterterrorism] operations are conducted in strict accordance with American law and are governed by legal guidance provided by the Department of Justice.”
Explains Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer, “We’re not in kindergarten on this anymore: we’ve been doing this since 2001, and there’s a well-established protocol.”
The hub of activity for the targeted killings is the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center, where lawyers—there are roughly 10 of them, says Rizzo—write a cable asserting that an individual poses a grave threat to the United States. The CIA cables are legalistic and carefully argued, often running up to five pages. Michael Scheuer, who used to be in charge of the CIA’s Osama bin Laden unit, describes “a dossier,” or a “two-page document,” along with “an appendix with supporting information, if anybody wanted to read all of it.” The dossier, he says, “would go to the lawyers, and they would decide. They were very picky.” Sometimes, Scheuer says, the hurdles may have been too high. “Very often this caused a missed opportunity. The whole idea that people got shot because someone has a hunch—I only wish that was true. If it were, there would be a lot more bad guys dead.”
So there you have it, work is ok, social life is eh, traveling a little, and pissed off at the government. Status quo.
New website that shows those who have lost their lives in the last few weeks in the Egyptian protests.
From Techcrunch (http://techcrunch.com/2011/02/09/1000memories):
What’s more remarkable is that a little more than half of its traffic is coming directly from Egypt.
While 1000Memories first pulled its initial list of the departed from a collaborative Google Doc, people have started emailing in names and photos of loved ones directly. After verifying the information with Human Rights Watch officials on the ground in Egypt the cofounders are now linking these and the individual memory pages created directly to the main page.
Lifehacker has a great article about DIY things you can do to your chair & monitor and how to arrange your mouse and keyboard to best avoid all kinds of injuries. I myself tend to suffer from what I refer to as “Microsoft neck” from leaning over my keyboard. After reading through this, I made some adjustments to my monitor placement and it feels much more comfortable and I’m not hovering. Also, I have a footstand I use because I’m short and my feet don’t reach the ground when my chair is adjusted properly. It makes a big difference (I also use my backpack or other bag on the plane because I have the same problem and it really helps a lot.)
Here are some choice excerpts, but I recommend you take the 2 minutes and read through the whole thing:
Some of you may not realize how unfriendly your workspace is to your body, while others of you have already started experiencing repetitive strain injury (RSI) from an improperly set up desk. A number of different factors can cause injuries (yes, even at a desk), and they may not always be obvious—for example, slouching and keeping your shoulders tense can not only cause pinched nerves in your shoulders, but even hurt your wrists. If you haven't given a lot of thought to the comfort of your workspace, it's probably time to give it an ergonomic makeover. Here are the most important things you'll want to go through and change—both in your office hardware and in what you do when you're working.
People have been talking about ergonomic office chairs like the uber expensive Herman Miller Aeron line for years now, but there's no need to go plop down a bunch of cash just to be comfortable. Nowadays, you can grab much cheaper ergonomic chairs from a place like Staples or even upgrade your old chair with some DIY fixes. Note that some things are DIYable; some are not.
You want your mouse and keyboard to be as close together as possible, with the alphanumeric part of the keyboard centered on your desk. This means you want to pay attention to the keys, not the keyboard itself—most keyboards are asymmetrical, with the number pad on the right. Instead of putting the whole keyboard in the center of your desk, keep an eye on the "B" key. You want that to be directly in front of you and in the center of your desk (or, rather, where you'll be sitting at your desk).
While most monitors aren't super adjustable on their own, we've featured numerous DIY monitor stands that are ridiculously easy to build. I'm using the door stopper monitor stand myself, and it works perfectly. You want the point about 2 or 3 inches down from the top of the monitor casing to be at eye level. You also want the monitors to be about an arm's length away from where you're sitting.
People don’t become passionate about things that don’t affect them. As far as these folks are concerned, they are passionate against government programs because as far as they’re concerned, they’re not affected by government programs (aka: “Keep your government hands off my Medicare!”). Essentially, these people don’t know that they’re insisting that their own wellbeing be affected by these changes.
On a sidenote, I am always amused when Tea Party folks have a rally in a public park. Cause um…that’s socialist.
The table is from Suzanne Mettler's piece in Perspectives on Politics (free access to PDF).
Mettler's basic argument is that because the US welfare state is 'submerged' and sliced up among a variety of different programs, many of which operate indirectly rather than directly, it is mostly invisible to US citizens. This has obvious political consequences - 'government social programs' are equated to 'welfare' and stigmatized. The fact that nearly half of Social Security recipients do not believe that they have benefited from a government social program, and that the same is true of some 40% of G.I. Bill beneficiaries and Medicare recipients is a rather extraordinary one.
If that’s the case, the Dems should be out there educating the public about what the government is doing with their taxes (or someone else’s) that benefits them.
(ganked from themonkeycage.org.)
If you know much about me, you’re probably not very surprised to know that I have never been a fan of Ron Reagan (the one who was President. His son Ron seems to be an ok guy). His was the first Presidential election I was old enough to vote in and it kinda set the tone for me voting for people who lost (which made Clinton winning especially sweet, but it was a pretty long streak before that happened.)
It’s amazing to me what has happened within the Republican party since he left (ha. I said left when talking about Reagan. Teehee.) office. (It’s also kinda crazy what’s happened with the Democratic party, but that’s a totally different rant.) Both parties have swung to the right. And the Repubs have become very vocal (and obnoxious IMHO) about RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) who they say are not Republican enough. If you look at Reagan’s policies, he would be classified as a RINO today. But in the mind of today’s Republicans, he’s right up there with Jesus. Seriously.
And it’s not just kooky, liberal me talking about the myth they’ve built around him. It’s CNN (I know, the liberal media. Whatever.). Take a look at this article (I’ve included some choice excerpts in case you’re too lazy to click. Which is seriously lazy people.):
"When he had to govern, he was actually kind of a great compromiser. He was willing to make compromises to get things done. You almost never hear about the fact he reached a deal with Democrats on Social Security," Bunch said. "He signed off on some sort of tax increase every year of his presidency after 1982, including one that was at the time the largest tax increase in American history to undo the fact that the '81 tax cut went too far."
Brinkley said conservatives forget that he was actually influenced by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a Democrat responsible for the "New Deal" big-government program; and by President Dwight Eisenhower, a moderate Republican who "showed huge senses of pragmatism and doing big American things well, like the interstate highway."
"His greatest domestic accomplishment -- breaking the back of inflation that terrified the nation in the late 1970s -- was a product not of 'supply side' economics ballyhooed by conservatives, but of the drastic tightening of interest rates by Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker," Cannon wrote. Volcker later became the chairman of President Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board.
This blog post debunks five common myths the Republicans/Conservatives often rely on when praising Reagan:
1. Reagan was one of our most popular presidents.
2. Reagan was a tax-cutter.
3. Reagan was a hawk.
4. Reagan shrank the federal government.
5. Reagan was a conservative culture warrior.
I don’t think the guy was evil the way that W was. I don’t think that he did the kind of harm that W did. But he was not the saint or even the person that the Republicans claim he was. They would boot him out of their party today. But, they are the party of hypocrisy, so maybe they wouldn’t…
Rachel Maddow is a super-smart chick. Sometimes she gets kinda snotty with people, which I think is unnecessary because she is so smart and well spoken. But in this clip, she talks about how the Egyptian government has chosen to deal with nonviolent protests against them in order to stay in power. It’s a powerful piece.
I don’t know if I blogged about this, but I recently totally gutted & redid my kitchen. I’m really happy with the result and have even begun trying to cook things, although I’m not quite ready to serve them to others yet…
Anyhoo, there were a couple of last details that needed to be done and they finally are, so here is the official video of my new kitchen (along with a nosy little dog who wanted to play).
I have been trying to think of something interesting to write about on here for you. And my life is generally ok – nothing particularly fabulous, nothing miserable, just kinda fine. Which doesn’t make for great blogging.
But this situation in Egypt is fascinating me. I admit that like many (most?) Americans I didn’t know much about Egypt & their politics until last week so I’m definitely playing catch up. Here’s what I understand (I know that you lovely readers will correct any mistakes and/or misunderstandings I post below. Thank you in advance):
Hosni Mubarak took over as President when Sadat was killed in the 70s. Sadat had signed a groundbreaking agreement for peace with Israel – remember, most Arab countries in the Middle East don’t even acknowledge that Israel exists. As a result of the peace agreement,the US gives the most money we provide to any country to Israel and the second most money we give is to Egypt. We also provide all sorts of military equipment and information to both countries – way beyond what we do for other countries.
While there have been “elections” in Egypt, they have not been real, free elections. There are no other parties and Mubarak’s party always “wins” by impossible numbers (over 80%).
There’s a lot of poverty and the police abuse people regularly. The relationship between the people and the military is good – they recently announced that they would not fire on protesters if they were peaceful, which means that this should not be another Tienanmen Square.
These protests are not religiously motivated. While it is a little frightening to see people in a largely Muslim country protesting in the streets, and while there is some anti-US sentiment (largely because we have continued to support this dictator/President for 30 years), the protests appear to be about lack of options and opportunity.
The Muslim Brotherhood is pretty much the only alternative “political” party in Egypt and is very anti-Israel, but it only has about 20-30% of the people’s support.
It seems at this point that it’s just a matter of time till Mubarak steps down. The concern is about what happens next. We (the US) cannot afford instability in the region and are afraid who might step into the void – someone who is anti-US, anti-Israel, pro-Iran? I’m sure that in addition to the official channels, there are all kinds of machinations going on by Americans and Israelis to manipulate what happens next.
It is exciting to see people standing up against injustice and it has been largely peaceful (there are rumors that the lootings that have occurred are being instigated by Mubarak’s people to make the protesters look more violent than they really are).
It’s also a time of concern and fear because not only do we not know what’s going to happen, we have little control over it. Case in point: free elections in the Palestinian territory. The US was all about Democracy! until the people elected Hamas, who is our enemy. Then suddenly Democracy! didn’t seem like such a great idea.
While our government says that they want to promote democracy throughout the world, ultimately, they are motivated by politics, oil and money and if democracy gets in the way, then it’s not a priority. It’s one of those things that I hate, but I understand that the world is not black & white – no matter what Glenn Beck tells you.
So, like the rest of the world, I am watching and waiting and praying for peace.
Oh, the HuffPost has a nice little piece called "Egypt: A Complete Guide to the 2011 Revolution” that provides (probably more accurate) background than I do.