Saturday, June 11, 2005

Email: Internet dating [VI]

Don't assume America is like our movies. They overemphasize crime for the "drama." (They mistake gunfire and explosions for drama.) At least the real Houston, Las Vegas, San Francisco and New York are different than depicted in the movies.

Thanks for sharing the real story. Isn't it better to be smart and devious than ignorant and incompetent? ;-}

Eharmony began about five years ago; I was a beta tester. I think it's the best value for the money -- and best overall -- among dating sites. Too much lying going on everywhere else now.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Press: Losing Our Country - NYT

Losing Our Country - New York Times: "Since 1980 in particular, U.S. government policies have consistently favored the wealthy at the expense of working families - and under the current administration, that favoritism has become extreme and relentless. From tax cuts that favor the rich to bankruptcy 'reform' that punishes the unlucky, almost every domestic policy seems intended to accelerate our march back to the robber baron era."

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Email: Resolving differences [VI]

Of course disagreements and even arguments are normal between any couple (but ideally they are resolved in a healthy manner). Only a person who wants to avoid all conflict would think otherwise.

Peeves: made in China

Almost everything Wal-Mart sells is made in China. Almost everything World Market sells is made in China. Even Kroger Herbed Italian Fish Filets is imported from China.

Press: Spilling Each and Every Bean - NYT

Spilling Each and Every Bean - New York Times: "By nature we Americans are a talky people, given to self-expression and self-definition. [...] And, of course, we invented the Internet, on which we may or may not be able to blame our epidemic of blurting and jabbering. A bared soul is the new accessory, the midriff of the Internet age. Ours may well be an exhibitionist approach to the psyche - in the past this material belonged to the confessor or the therapist, or to the postcoital pillow - but it seems to work for us.

"Did technology do this to us, or did we do it to ourselves? [...] Technology is doing its best to breed the discretion instilled by our mothers out of us. [...] To head into cyberspace is to leave our manners and morals at home."

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Favorites: Actors - Penelope Cruz

You've seen Penelope Cruz in Sahara, Gothika, Vanilla Sky, Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Blow and Woman on Top (where she plays a bewitching TV chef with sensual romance), but she has acted in 40-plus films, won awards, and speaks in four languages. She plays Goya's model, La Maja Desnuda, in Volaverunt. She studied classical ballet and devotes herself to humanitarian causes such as the work of Mother Theresa and her own foundation for girls in Calcutta.

Favorites: Actors - Matthew Broderick

I first noticed Matthew Broderick in War Games but appreciated him in Ladyhawke. He directed and starred in Infinity, a biographical reminiscence of the renowned physicist Richard Feynman.

Favorites: Actors - Jennifer Garner

I'm a sucker for her facial structure, but I first really noticed Jennifer Garner in 13 Going on 30, where her dance scenes are a joy to behold. Her career has been picking up with Alias and Elektra since that time. She was born in Houston and majored in chemistry, so you know she's smart too.

Favorites: Actors - Emily Proctor

Emily Proctor caught my attention as the idealistic Republican attorney Ainsley Hayes hired by President Jed Bartlet in The West Wing. She's since been in CSI, so her career is picking up from the bit parts she had before then. She's also a journalism major and an Episcopalian.

Technology: The Microsoft hegemony

In December 1996, I only partly quipped to Vance Oppenheimer, "Eventually, we're all going to be working for Microsoft." My thinking was (and still is) that, in addition to its monopoly in programming languages, operating systems, application software and Internet software (with video-game players, handheld computers and MP3 players now in the offing), Bill Gates was poised with Microsoft Money to skim a cut of every electronic banking transaction, not to mention impose "annuity-based" software licensing (pay Microsoft a yearly fee or your computer stops working) or the market dominance of all its Web properties (which are strongly interconnected through MSN Passport and MSN Wallet, not to mention several direct marketing companies). These are plans that Microsoft has not given up on, and periodically reattempts to impose on the market. I don't believe they will ever give up until they win. What other company has endured the market as unaffected as Microsoft, much less emerged victorious? (Bill Gates swears to Congress that he lives in constant fear of being overturned by a competitor, but no one with a shred of objectivity believes that an 800-pound gorilla can be harmed by a field full of mammals ranging in size from the mouse to the terrier.)

I read an entertaining sci-fi story where Bill G. was 88 years old and known as Golden Gates. The scary thing was that all his contemporaries were named Jason, Tiffany, Brittany and so on.

Technology: Windows on Palm Treo

Rumors are flying about Windows being seen on the Palm Treo. I wouldn't put it past Microsoft to have such a project, or to leak its existence. I can also see the Apple iPod, as wildly popular as it is, starting to slow in sales as its competition begins to gain speed and catch up. (This may have been the clinching rationale behind Apple deciding to migrate from IBM to Intel for its chip and software architecture.)

The Windows hegemony has been undeniable for 10-20 years (depending on how you're counting) and, as Apple would have learned from the Newton if Palm and Microsoft hadn't outmaneuvered them, there doesn't seem to be much room for more than one dominant operating system platform -- and that, my friends, is Windows. There will always be developers and users who favor alternative technologies and interfaces -- but Windows is the mainstream. All bow to Bill.

Whimsy: What rhymes with North Dakota?

I once heard Garrison Keillor on A Prairie Home Companion rhyme North Dakota (spoken in the best Fargo-style accent -- though his and Howard Mohr's humor in that vein precedes the movie Fargo by decades) with Chaucer's famous opening line Whan that Aprille with his showres soote (When April, with its sweet showers).

Whimsy: What rhymes with orange?

The closest I can come so far -- which hardly seems worth it -- is:

orange rhinoplasty
more angioplasty

Email: The examined life [SD]

[Any dating relationship is] about "Are we compatible and at the right stage in life to consider marriage?" It [rarely is] about "Am I lovable, sexy, worthwhile and capable of keeping my foot out of my mouth?" You have every right to ask or say anything you want! It is not understanding that -- from the downside or the topside -- that makes a relationship difficult [through second-guessing]. Humility is knowing exactly who you are (before God): Worthy of dignity but not special privileges; above fear and shame.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Inventions: paper vs. flat-panel display

One of the greatest inventions ever is a simple piece of paper, fluttering in your hand as you carry your scribbled ideas from one room to another. Also impressive because of its technology and adaptibility is the flat-panel computer display which, while far more streamlined than its clunky cathode-ray-tube predecessor, appeals mainly for the same reason: the paper-thin page/blotter/palette that it projects electronically before our eyes. It also contains our words, our images, our plans and our dreams.

Email: Rules of attraction [VI]

Many men and women want a relationship that stays interesting (though some just want one that stays comfortable). To build and maintain a mutual interest, at least one partner (and, ideally, both) should actually be an interesting person. Layers (like an onion) but not convolutions... Complexity (like a red wine) but not complications... "Drama" attempts to stir things up, supposedly to keep things interesting but actually for reasons that have nothing to do with a healthy relationship. Stirring things up to keep the attention on you is grandstanding, not a relationship. Self-confidence (which cannot be faked) breeds honesty, but playing games leads to everything else.

Email: Rules of attraction [VI]

It is a problem when men are emotionally unavailable in the name of being mysterious. It is a problem when a woman plays "hard to get" because she thinks this will "get a man." Being duplicitous seems to involve more effort than simply being honest about who you really are.

Peeves: People who can't spell

MG told me matched her with a man whose profile was full of misspellings, though it mentioned he is "bright." I have seen so many women's profiles with creative spellings for "intelligent" that it has become a joke. Why can't some people spell (or be honest)? Is it deficient schooling, lack of attention, lack of interest, lack of intelligence, lack of discipline -- or some combination? Is it so hard?

That said, I worry much less about spelling in personal email -- which is meant to be informal and convenient -- than in any venue that is professional or reflects poorly on the writer. As LK says, often one letter or email is all that others will receive in order to form an opinion about you!

Email: Being too nice [VI]

I hate to say a relationship is about a balance of power, but it is about equality -- and women need to be aware when there is no equality, and to stand up for what they want.

Email: The examined life [SD]

There is no "not intelligent enough" ... just "differently intelligent"... A relationship is not about shortcomings, it is about compatibility...

Email: The examined life [SD]

Thank you for sharing about how God slowed you down and got your attention... I try to keep in mind "I could get hit by a bus any day, and the world would go on without me"... That helps keep me in my place...

Gibberwocky: flurrid

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Email: The examined life [SD]

The problem is (repeat after me) that your computer is seriously messed up, and may work right sometimes but will continue to futz up unpredictably until the slate is wiped clean. If I may suggest a graphic illustration: Your computer is a shooting victim with ten bullet holes, a broken arm and leg, lying in a pool of its own blood. Things are not normal, even if it keeps breathing underneath its electronic veneer. Your computer was basically eviscerated with piles of programs being gutted [while it was unprotected by antivirus software]. Do you understand now?

You are a computer layperson in a technical field. This is why people ask others for advice -- and it matters that who you ask needs to know the right answer too. Such is life...

I am not slowing down to [some people's] speed, ever. I have slowed down to about three-fourths the speed I used to be at! I think I have always maintained the proper priorities and balance. Some people just accomplish more than others is all. It comes from having a higher energy quotient (EQ?).

You need to find things that make you happy beyond other persons. If you were the only person in the garden of Eden -- and you had the benefit of today's consumer products -- what would you do to pass the time and fulfill your curiosity and exercise your imagination? Go through the list of everything there is to do and decide what you'd like to try: chess, needlepoint, painting and so on. Remember, you are and will become the person you (truly) want to be.

Email: The examined life [SD]

I think human beings have more commonalities than differences. This is what makes developmental psychology and everything Pia [Mellody] teaches work, after all. Again, it depends on what we are talking about. Oxygen is normal for you just as oxygen is normal for me. No arguments there. When it comes to preferences, there are norms and generalities -- but also some divergences and differences. For instance, I could tell you from five years of scanning women’s personals ads that if it is a black woman’s ad, it has an 8 in 10 chance of being written all in capital letters.

I think observation is the great teacher for any person who hopes to comment or draw inferences on norms as well as differences. I think my journalism career has given me many opportunities to observe industry and society and to make observations about “what is really going on.” (Polling and surveys are actually a very precise specialization of investigative journalism.) As it is, I don’t think you could take a room of 100 people and find 100 opinions; you would find one majority opinion, one (or two) minority opinions, and a handful of people with opinions that didn’t fit those generalizations or that were truly unique.

This is a far cry from saying “we are all unique, we all have a different perception of what normal is to each individual.” I often ponder what people really mean by that. (Does how I taste nutmeg differ from how you taste nutmeg?) I suspect they just don’t understand others, so they conclude it is all a mishmash; we have more divergence than convergence. My lifelong experience tells me otherwise. Yes, certain populations will have greater values-based differences than others: Muslims to Mormons to Japanese to goth teens and so on. However, I do believe that I understand a person if I know him well enough to predict (or suspect) what he is going to do or say, and in fact that is what happens.

I didn’t suggest that you go see What the Bleep Do We Know? I said it would blow your mind and you would not be able to understand it. One thing at a time! I again suggest that you work on the personal issues that are so greatly occupying your attention right now.

Press: Play It Again, Vladimir (via Computer) - NYT

Play It Again, Vladimir (via Computer) - New York Times: "Dr. John Q. Walker, the president of Zenph Studios in Raleigh [...] is developing technology that enables him to break down the sounds of an old recording, digitize them and reproduce them on a Disklavier, an up-to-the-minute player piano that can record and replay performances by means of a CD in a slot above the keyboard. Sophisticated fiber optics control the instrument's hammers. [...]

"This is the new world of computer music. In its infancy, way back in the 1960's, the goal was to use digital technology to create new sounds and new musical forms. Today scientists around the world are turning computers on human performance, seeking to quantify an element once thought to be intangible: the expressivity of a human artist."

Press: Life Lessons From Watergate - NYT

Life Lessons From Watergate - New York Times: "For that is the purpose of Watergate in today's culture. It isn't about Nixon and the cover-up anymore. It's about Woodward and Bernstein. Watergate has become a modern Horatio Alger story, a real-life fairy tale, an inspiring ode for mediacentric college types - about the two young men who found exciting and challenging jobs, who slew the dragon, who became rich and famous by doing good and who were played by Redford and Hoffman in the movie version.

"Woodward was nervous once, like you."

Press: The Season of Second Chances - NYT [Media: TV - 24]

The Season of Second Chances - New York Times: "Fox's '24' worked in the opposite direction: the characters grew less and less interesting as Day 4 progressed. The fourth season began with a fresh slate. Jack Bauer's annoying daughter was gone, a new president was in the Oval Office, Jack had a new job working for the Secretary of Defense and a new girlfriend who happened to be his boss's daughter. But soon enough, the series began to strain under its self-imposed limitations: 24 hours in a day are too many to sustain the series' conceit of real-time action, and the same plot twists that weighed down previous seasons kept coming back. Audrey was kidnapped and rescued by Jack, then Tony was kidnapped and rescued by Jack. Last time Tony jeopardized national security to save his wife Michelle's life; this time Michelle jeopardized Tony's life to save national security. President Palmer returned to the White House when the sitting president realized he didn't have the right stuff to lead the country through a nuclear attack by terrorists.

"And even that peril palled. Chekhov's rule about a gun in the first act should also apply to nuclear warheads. After raising the threat level so high so early, it would have been better if at least one terrorist missile could have hit its target. The season's only innovation was the Ann Coulterish sensibility veining the plot: that nice middle-class Muslim family turned out to be a sleeper cell of terrorist moles, and torture was a post-Sept. 11 necessity that only pantywaist Washington bureaucrats found objectionable."

Press: The Season of Second Chances - NYT [Media: TV - House]

The Season of Second Chances - New York Times: "The pilot of 'House' relied too much on gimmicks from other networks' hits. It crammed the repellent 'CSI'-style close-ups of cells and internal organs alongside both the melodrama of 'E.R.' and the clowning of 'Scrubs.' But the series calmed down and quickly found its footing, mainly by focusing on the maimed foot of the hero, Dr. Gregory House. Played by the English actor Hugh Laurie, House is bitter, wickedly irreverent and lame - a damaged romantic hero in the tradition of Lord Byron, Cyrano de Bergerac, James Mason in the 1946 movie 'The Seventh Veil' and the soul-battered Philip Marlowe (though Raymond Chandler's P.I. also took more than his fair share of kicks and punches).

"House is bracingly rude and sarcastic as he seeks a cure for patients' mysterious symptoms, which is entertaining in itself - a Mad Magazine take on Dr. Marcus Welby. But the archetype of the wounded male is most appealing to women for its romance: masculinity tempered by need or perhaps just crankiness with a justifiable cause. "