What a difference a day makes — ditching the landline part 2

June 24, 2011 2 comments

Talking dimeYesterday I wrote about wanting to avoid the nickle-and-dime ($50 and $100) tactics of various phone and internet companies by ditching my Vonage landline, and keeping the number (for free) via Google Voice. As Google Voice doesn’t port landlines, I decided on Net10 as a cheap way to move my number to a wireless carrier first.

But seven days after activating my Net10 phone, I still didn’t have the number fully ported and it was looking like Vonage might be able to nick me for another monthly fee (today would mark the start of my Vonage monthly billing cycle). Read more…


Let’s talk nickles and dimes — ditching the landline

June 23, 2011 2 comments

Talking Nickels and DimesWhen I was a kid, I saved my money for trips to the candy store. Well it was technically a “stationery store” but I rarely made it past the front counters which featured many nickle and dime options for satisfying my desire for sweets.

Years later, some in my college cohort had other cravings that could be satisfied by nickles and dimes, though under these circumstances it meant getting set back by $5 or $10.

Now it seems our collective hunger for data and communication services are getting us nickled and dimed to the tune of $50 to $100 month. Read more…

Why that fake MLK quote matters

May 3, 2011 5 comments

By now I assume everyone who re-posted the following quote (in reference to celebrations of the death of Osama bin Laden):

I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

has learned that it wasn’t exactly a quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. who apparently is right up there with Nelson Mandela, Mohandas Gandhi, Kurt Vonnegut and Bill Gates in terms of false attributions. To be fair, the original facebook post had it right: the author’s own words, followed by the quote. Which then got combined and re-posted.

There was a kerfluffle on my own facebook when I pointed this out after a friend quoted it as a comment on a related post of mine.

Now, I agree with the sentiment, the whole thing. And while I didn’t join in the repost of this particular misquote, I’ve participated in such post-fests before. And when I get called out I feel foolish, defensive or embarrassed (or some mixture of the three). Some of the reactions I’ve seen this time around are “well it’s not like this is an academic paper” or “well it’s a good message anyway.”

But I think dismissing the misquote problem by saying “hey, it’s just facebook” misses a big point: that quote wouldn’t have been so widely passed around had it not had “MLK” attached to it. To me, that’s a form of cultural misappropriation just as egregious as the rewritten African American spirituals included in the UU hymnal Singing the Living Tradition.

As a white person I’ve been conditioned to think my good intentions will insulate me from criticism when I try to earn points by appropriating the words of people of color. Turning this kind of criticism around and making the issue about my own hurt white feelings is not the kind of behavior that’s going to make anyone want me as their ally.

Snarky’s Machine pointed out to me that Damon Brown tells how to recognize fake quotes like this in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Memes. Until I read this, I vow to be a little more discerning about reposting and retweeting things attributed to others, and sticking to using my own words.

Even if they aren’t going to make me Internet-famous.

When Fatties Attract

October 28, 2010 2 comments

There’s been a lot of talk on the internet about Maura Kelly’s blog post over at Marie Claire wherein the blogger proclaimed her disgust at the thought of watching fatties get it on on TV.

Now of course it’s your right to be disgusted by whatever disgusts you. And to talk about it. And to receive the natural consequences of picking a portion of the population to “other.”

What’s I find missing in the discussions is any reference to the idea that there may just be people out there who enjoy seeing larger folks on TV.

And I’m not just talking Christina Hendricks full-figured, but still: the fact that her Mad Men character Joan Holloway is so wildly popular suggests to me that there are folks out there who’d go even a little larger.

I remember when I was a kid, and used to watch the Spanish language UHF stations 41 and 47 in New York. I’d watch for the wrestling, sure, but also to see Iris Chacon wiggle her — well, large — butt.

Now, I’m a hetero male, so I’m really not that interested in seeing big guys on TV. But I have it on good authority that fat actors like John Goodman, James Gandolfini, Paul Sorvino and Raymond Burr have all been considered extremely sexy by a large portion of the guy-appreciating population.

So my reply to Maura Kelly is to look elsewhere when fatties attack her TV. It will never be “fatty free” as long as there are people who don’t mind — and even enjoy — looking at people who are the opposite of skinny.

Categories: Essays Tags: ,

Geeky by Design

September 5, 2010 5 comments

In the early, wild-west web days, there were no University degrees in multimedia design, no mail-order certificates in HTML. Most of us who worked in the area — and by “worked” I mean either did stuff for free or levied a hidden HTML tax on their other projects — knew what Yahoo* stood for, visited Matt’s Script Archive regularly, and created pages that looked just like everyone else’s: bold H1 text at the top, a bunch of smaller text on a grey background and maybe a few images or diagrams.

When the newfangled Netscape browser introduced tables, and you could actually control where things went on a page, the actual discipline of web design was born. But most pages still looked pretty crappy. Probably because most pages were still being created by computer geeks like me. There was no Dreamweaver or even HoTMetaL yet. And there were no degrees in web design: if you wanted to learn, you went to VSU — View Source University — and copied the same ugly layouts and arrow buttons everyone else was using.
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Categories: Essays Tags: ,

Degree material?

June 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Yesterday was oldest son’s high school graduation. I was plenty early enough, I thought, to get good seats. I parked and followed the throngs of grads in robes and family members in whatever passed for their Sunday best into the the arena where it was being held. I opted for a tie and pants but it was so warm I left the jacket behind.

It was pretty crowded already, so I took a seat further away from the action. I got myself settled in and started to look over the program, automatically scanning the list of graduates’ names for my son’s.

Funny. I couldn’t find it.

I looked a few more times, turned the program over. And then saw the name of the school on the cover. Which wasn’t my son’s high school. The school in a town I used to live in was holding its graduation in the arena right next door to the civic auditorium where I was supposed to be.

Yeah I can be pretty clueless like that, but fortunately I got to the right place by the right time. Still, a little Dr. John wouldn’t hurt.

Categories: Nonsense Tags: ,

The Brave Little Toast

June 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Toast has probably been around for as long as there were people well-fed enough to let bread get stale, and other people hungry enough to want to find a palatable way to eat it. Toasted bread also holds together better than the fresher, fluffier stuff, making it good for transporting soups and dips from bowl to mouth. So it’s not surprising that over time it’s appeared in many popular forms:
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Categories: Essays, Recipes Tags: , ,