Archive for July, 2009

Amazon is being sued for deleting e-books from their customer’s Kindles when Amazon found out the e-books were pirated copies.

The lawsuit said Amazon never disclosed to customers that it “possessed the technological ability or right to remotely delete digital content purchased through the Kindle Store.”

No shit. I didn’t know that about the Kindle either. The book? You’ll never believe. Orwell’s 1984. Check out the story.

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I thought this piece from Matt Yglesias was interesting regarding reforms other than the public option.

The most important part of the bills that actually exist—the part that will impact the lives of most Americans—are the new regulations on insurers.

The administration is proposing:

— A ban on discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions.

— Caps on out-of-pocket spending.

— No cost-sharing for preventive care.

— No “rescission” of coverage for people who get seriously ill.

— No gender discrimination.

— No caps on coverage, either lifetime or annual.

— Extension of family coverage for kids up to the age of 26.

— Guaranteed insurance renewal.

The fact that liberals like to talk about the uninsured and Peter Orszag likes to talk about bending the curve and I, personally, like writing about tax policy and don’t like seeing doctors has tended to obscure this whole set of issues. But your typical middle-aged, middle-class voter is going to be impacted dramatically by this stuff and fairly little by all the rest of it. This is also, in political terms, the stuff that polls really well. The “goodies.”

I don’t want to get ahead of myself, since the bulleted points above are just proposals and not reality, but Yglesias raises a good point. The above reforms would certainly mean a lot to people like me — people who already have insurance.

What’s amazing is that we didn’t create these regulations decades ago. I mean isn’t it pretty straightforward? Think about it. Each state has an insurance commissioner whose sole job is to make sure that people don’t get screwed over by insurance companies, and yet not one state has these types of regulations.

A few years back there was a noted story in Seattle about a man who tried to crash his vehicle into his girlfriend’s vehicle while driving ultra-fast on the highway. In making this attempt, the man veered into another car and a woman in that care was seriously injured. Her car insurance company, Farmers Insurance as it happens, refused to pay for her hospitable bills because they posited that the accident was intentional. The man meant to hit her car. Well in truth, the man meant to hit his girlfriend’s car and he didn’t care a lick about this other woman. The state insurance commissioner told Farmers Insurance that if they didn’t pay the innocent bystander’s hospital bills, FI would no longer be allowed to sell car insurance in Washington state. FI reversed their original position.

So why haven’t insurance commissioners played hardball with the health insurance companies? I really don’t know the distinction here and I don’t know a lot about this topic, but from a consumer standpoint it really confuses me.

If the Dems can get these new regulations through, I think it will be an important victory. I just can’t believe it’s taken this long to get here.

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Need more traffic on your blog? You might consider creating a post with the very same title as this one. How do I know this? Danny Westneat in 2007 wrote this editorial:

As I look back at the year in news, it’s clear I should have focused more on people having sex with horses.

That’s the conclusion I reach after reviewing a new list of the year’s top local news stories. Only this list is not the usual tedious recounting by news editors or pundits who profess to speak for you readers. This is the people’s-choice list.

It’s not a survey of what news you say you read.

It’s what you actually read.

By tallying clicks on our Web site, we now chart the most read stories in the online edition of The Seattle Times. Software then sorts the tens of thousands of stories for 2005 and ranks them. Not by importance, impact or poetic lyricism, but by which stories compelled the most people to put finger to mouse, click, open and, presumably, read.

Which brings me back to sex with horses. The story last summer about the man who died from a perforated colon while having sex with a horse in Enumclaw was by far the year’s most read article.

What’s more, four more of the year’s 20 most clicked-upon local news stories were about the same horse-sex incident. We don’t publish our Web-traffic numbers, but take it from me — the total readership on these stories was huge.

If you really want to know about the South Carolina man who had sex with a horse, you can check out the esteemed HuffingtonPost for all your titiliating bits of news for the day.

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On the brink of pandering

I don’t know a lot about Tim Kaine, but I find this speech a little on the sleazy side:

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine suggested on Tuesday that opposition from Republican senators to Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor — along with the Republican National Committee’s failure to attend a major Latino-issue forum — will seriously hurt the party with Hispanic voters.

“I find it puzzling that a group with the great credentials of the Council of La Raza would invite both parties to send their chairmen and that the RNC didn’t send their chair,” Kaine told the Huffington Post in a brief phone interview. “They could have had somebody else here. And with the vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee, with the exception of Senator Graham, every Republican voting against Judge Sotomayor, I just don’t get that as well.”

Of course, really everything he is saying is true, but why bring it up in this particular way in this forum? As a minority, this comes across to me as pandering. I want to hear actual content. Okay, so your a Democrat. What are you going to do for me other than talk? Give me your views of Latinos beyond how significant their votes are.

It has been argued in the past that the Democratic Party has taken advantage of the Black vote. Sure they talk the talk, but when it comes to actually creating noticeable change in our society, any programs that the Democrats have fostered don’t seem to be having a real affect. Look at the numbers of young black men in prison. I just don’t think Affirmative Action while pretty scarce these days is really having an affect, but it is a bone that the Democrats throw at the black community nonetheless.

Once again I have to say that as a minority, I just want we want to be treated equally. End of story. One of the most frustrating things is having people tell you how easy everything is for you because of your race. If the Republicans keep highlighting this falsehood, then the Democrats may never have to worry about losing the Latino vote. But nonetheless, I wish these guys highlighted our similarities more. How we are the same. How our needs are the same. And maybe one day we’ll get to the point when people aren’t just a vote. They’re just people.

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Not to fear. Here’s a fun summary in Haiku via Slate. And a teaser.

Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.
What Sonia has done
Is so very impressive
So I am impressed

Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.
A wise Latina
Would set aside her bias
She just can’t do it

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With the news that FINA has banned bodysuits in competitive swimming…

FINA, the international governing body of swimming, voted today to ban the controversial high-tech, non-textile swimsuits. Not only have the suits been responsible for a rash of world records but there has been a Wild West atmosphere among apparel manufacturers and swimmers, all trying to gain a competitive edge.

…I’d like to argue that the only surefire way to make certain that the athletes are all competing at the same level is to require them to swim in the nude. Sure, the athletes would go to town with the body hair removal but at least they would all have equal access to waxing parlors. These high-tech swimsuits are just too expensive for every athlete. And hey, it could get a boost from the Beach Volleyball fans.

1. Full body suit.

2. Rick Berens swimsuit malfunction. Notice the split in the butt. Apparently those suckers are hard to get on.

3. Your Beach Volleyball photos of the day. Photo via BSR-12’s photostream.

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Update: The link is too small in this picture. So here it is: MadMenYourself.com

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I usually try to buy locally roasted coffee. This is Seattle after all so we have a lot of choice. For a very long time I was buying Pegasus which is hands down my favorite, but unfortunately my office moved and now Pegasus is completely inconvenient. Thus began my quest for a local replacement.

I always bought Pegasus beans by the pound because we make our own lattes in the morning at home.  In trying other coffees I stumbled upon a trend to sell coffee by the 12 0z oz bag for the same price that places used to sell a full pound or 16 0unces. It’s not just your small places either. Starbucks, Tullys and Torrefazione all have 12 0z oz bags for you to buy. Now I did see a full pound at Starbucks too. You just have to be careful.

This is Kuma Coffee which is roasted in the Seattle neighborhood Magnolia. It’s really good and they do sell it by the pound for I think 10.99. Much better than 10.99 for 12 ounces as far as I’m concerned.

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Jon Stewart vs. the “birthers”“, posted with vodpod

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When they arrest a radio host for asking an officer “are you in line” at a local hamburger stand.

When they beat up a 70 year old woman for not watering her lawn.

When a police chief  murders his wife in front of their kids.

When they sodomize a man with a toilet plunger causing a puncture in the man’s small intestine and bladder.

When they push a cyclist off of his bike in New York city for no reason.

When they beat up a female bartender when she refuses to serve him more alcohol.

I could go on, but you get the point.

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Balloon-Juice linked to this article from The New Republic regarding the arrest of Henry Louis Gates and I think it’s a good one.

Gates is Right–and We’re Not Post-Racial Until He’s Wrong

There is nothing glib to say, in any responsible sense, about Henry Louis Gates’ arrest last week, which is this week’s big race story. Its value is as an object lesson in why, with a black President, there remains a contingent convinced that America is still all about racism.

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It’s funny because it’s so true.

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The first female gondolier in Venice.

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Busy busy busy with not much to say. Danton is doing fabulously; thank you all for your inquiries into his health.

Here’s Meryl Streep in one of my favorite movies Postcards from the Edge.

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My precious raisin

With the sad news of Frank McCourt’s death, I thought I’d post one of my favorite passages from Angela’s Ashes. The young children in a Irish school find a raisin in their food.

I think Paddy likes me because of the raisin and I feel a bit guilty because I wasn’t that generous in the first place. The master, Mr. Benson, said the government was going to give us the free lunch so we wouldn’t have to be going home in the freezing weather. He led us down to a cold room in the dungeons of Leamy’s School where the charwoman, Nellie Ahearn, was handing out the half pint of milk and the raisin bun. The milk was frozen in the bottles and we had to melt it between our thighs. The boys joked and said the bottles would freeze our things off and the master roared, Any more of that talk and I’ll warm the bottles on the backs of yeer heads. We all searched our raisin buns for a raisin but Nellie said they must have forgotten to put them in and she’d inquire from the man who delivered. We searched again every day till at last I found a raisin in my bun and held it up. The boys started grousing and said they wanted a raisin and Nellie said it wasn’t her fault. She’d ask the man again. Now the boys were begging me for the raisin and offering me everything, a slug of their milk, a pencil, a comic book. Toby Mackey said I could have his sister and Mr. Benson heard him and took him out the the hallway and knocked him around until he howled. I wanted the raisin for myself but I saw Paddy Clohessy standing in the corner with no shoes and the room was freezing and he was shivering like a dog that had been kicked and I always felt sad over kicked dogs so I walked over and gave Paddy the raisin because I didn’t know what else to do and all the boys yelled that I was a fool and a feckin’ eejit and I’d regret the day and after I handed the raisin to Paddy I longed for it but it was too late now because he pushed it right into his mouth and gulped it and looked at me and said nothing and I said in my head what kind of an eejit are you to be giving away your raisin.

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Here’s a great photo from the Whitehouse Flickr photostream of Seattle Mariner Ichiro Suzuki and Barack Obama. Via the Slog.

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In my last post about Facebook I said that face-to-face human interaction was too precious to avoid using Facebook, but Marcella Proust wisely noted that she uses Facebook exactly because she doesn’t want to talk to people. She uses it to avoid people. Maybe I’m thinking about Facebook in the wrong way. No I haven’t changed my mind about joining, but it does seem to me that if face-to-face social interaction is taxing you can avoid it all together by using Facebook, or Twitter, or texting a friend rather than calling one.

I have to admit, I do text people on my phone for the very reason that I don’t want to talk to them. Usually because I fear rejection. It’s much better for me to read in a text that my friend is unavailable to do X rather than have to hear them come up with an excuse while I’m talking with them on the phone. I have good friends who wouldn’t necessarily do that — come up with a lame excuse — but the fear of that nonetheless drives me to use text instead of voice conversations.

In any case, these are just some random thoughts.

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Be Kind Rewind

While this movie isn’t a great film, it has at least 4 great scenes. Most of the good stuff is in this preview.  I have to hand it to Jack Black. No film is too small for him. He truly is a risk taker.

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You wouldn’t think it to look at him, but on some level Jake is afraid of this man. Who is he? The owner of Gorgeous George’s Mediterranean Restaurant in Greenwood. We had heard good things about this restaurant, and so had planned to go sometime in that way where you say to yourself “we should really try that place sometime.”

Then I read a reader review on some restaurant rating site that said “George doesn’t just cook for you. He sings and dances and comes to your table.” This information I relayed to Jake who was completely horrified. When we passed the restaurant one day on an evening stroll we peeked in and saw George with his signature hat out in the dining room talking to guests. “We are never ever going there,” Jake said.

Dare I make a cultural observation here? Feel free to offer your thoughts too. Is it that Americans really like the gimmick of the stranger who is your best friend? Do we know no boundaries between strangers and ourselves? Are the British just uptight? Why can they not enjoy the company of a dancing and singing chef?

In America, there is always the pretense of extreme friendliness even if that friendliness is so obviously false. Ever been asked by a salesperson how your day was and then you told them something other than it’s going well? Usually, their faces change as if to say “oh how interesting” in a I’m-not-really-interested sort of way. I was once in that same predicament. I was at my service job and I asked a customer how she was. Not so good, she said, I had two toes removed yesterday. I didn’t really know what to do with that information.

In Britain, everyone is extremely polite. I like how when making a request either as provider or consumer, you always end your phrase with please. I’ll have a pint of Guinness please. There you are, two quid please. Yet, and perhaps I’m wrong but I seem to recall, that you are never asked how you are if the person doesn’t really want to know the answer. Is it rude? Well, it’s honest, isn’t it? But I digress.

Here are some more scary tidbits from Gorgeous George’s. And Jake, feel free to weigh in here and tell me if I’m misinterpreting your discomfort.

You’re the only chef I know who sits at customer’s tables. Do you have a fetish for watching people eat your food?

No, it’s just nice. I try to sit at the tables so everyone will feel at home here. But I don’t come out to sit when I’m in a bad mood. I can’t fake my face, I can’t be two-faced. If I’m nervous or mad, I’ll just stay in the back and cook.

What do you learn about people from watching them eat?

Sometimes people just need to put the food in their mouths. Like the baklava can go straight into your mouth, no forks needed. It’s not cake. Sometimes people don’t know what they just ordered. It’s Mediterranean food, with spices from the Holy Land. I say Holy Land, not Israel or Palestine, because I want both Jews and Palestinians to feel comfortable eating here.

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I asked a friend at work how her two-week vacation to the Midwest went. She smiled and said that I would know how it went if I was on Facebook.

And then she kindly told me how her vacation was.

After this story, I am even more determined never to be on Facebook. If you ever catch me saying to you that you would know how I was if you read my blog, please shoot me. Human interaction is far too precious.

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You know you want to know.

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Paw-licking good

Danton has some sort of liver disease. We don’t know what has caused it, but he is jaundiced right now. It’s been a rough week trying to figure out how this young cat got sick and it’s possible we’ll never know. Since he won’t eat or drink at all, part of taking care of him is to give him medicine twice a day and to force-feed him food through a syringe three times a day. It’s not easy force-feeding a cat let me tell you.

On Friday, he miraculously ate a half can of tuna. We were elated. But this was followed by two days of eating nothing at all meaning two full days of force-feedings. He kept sniffing the wide variety of foods that we tried to get him to eat including baby food, but he never ate it. Instead he would just motion to bury it by scratching the floor around it.

Last night we went to see Shakespeare in the Park. It was The Taming of the Shrew and quite good I might add. Here’s a link to the company. My friend Lynne has a family tradition of bringing a bucket of fried chicken to Shakespeare in the Park, so we stopped by Kentucky Fried Chicken. Then as we were driving to the show, we thought to ourselves how good that chicken smelled in the car and all of us started to get hungry. Maybe it will have the same affect on Danton, I thought. So we took a piece home for him. I tore off the Colonel’s secret recipe crust and started to tear up the chicken, then I put it in front of the cat. Lo and behold he ate it! He ate a lot of it! He would walk away then go back to get more. At the end of the night we left the chicken out and he finished it up. I really love KFC right now.

How I wish this were some sort of cat plot to get us to feed Danton people food, but of course that’s not it. With any luck, he will have turned the corner and we’ll start to see some improvement.

Here’s a photo of him eating. Not a good photo, but I didn’t want to disturb him.

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I guess Beckham didn’t like what he read in the excerpt from The Beckham Experiment.

David Beckham said Los Angeles Galaxy teammate Landon Donovan was “unprofessional” for speaking out without confronting him first. Beckham, who was making his first public appearance in Southern California since returning from his five-month loan with Italian club AC Milan, said he had not spoken to Donovan, who called him a bad captain and portrayed him as stingy in an upcoming book “The Beckham Experiment,” written by Grant Wahl. “It’s unprofessional in my eyes. In every soccer player’s eyes throughout the world it would be unprofessional to speak out about a teammate especially in the press and not to your face,” Beckham said. “But I’m going to turn it on a positive spin because that’s what this needs. But in 17 years, I have played with the biggest teams in the world and the biggest players and not once have I been criticized for my professionalism. It’s important to get this cleared up and I will be speaking to Landon either this evening or over the next couple of days.”

Is it unprofessional? Perhaps. I don’t know about you, but I kind of like when people actually say what they feel instead of the typical sports cliche bullshit. I’m glad to actually read something with a bit of feeling from a sportsman.

I found the excerpt to the book extremely interesting, and there’s no question that L.A. Galaxy did not get better as a team after David Beckham joined. I think Beckham’s answer is a non-answer. Does he really expect anyone to call him on his professionalism? I mean he’s one of the biggest sport stars in the world. That’s gotta be a hard conversation. Unless of course you’re Alex Ferguson. Plus that whole I’ve played with the best teams for 17 years is kind crap is proving what Donovan was originally saying. Beckham didn’t seem himself as being part of the MLS.

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I didn’t see anything on YouTube that showed this well. You gotta go to the MLS site. It’s a beauty.

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