Monday, December 20, 2010

The 5 Worst Football Games Ever Played By The New York Giants

What happened yesterday? Anything interesting? I can't recall. Doesn't seem like yesterday ever happened.

Oh, who am I kidding. I can't forget. The New York Giants were up 31-10 with 8 minutes left in the fourth quarter, at home, against their hated rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles, in a battle for division supremacy, a first round bye and home field playoff advantage... and they collapsed like the roof of the Minnesota Vikings' Metrodome.

I was at the game. You always want to be a part of history when you go a game at the stadium, so you can tell your friends you saw Osi Umenyora sack McNabb 6 times, or saw Tiki Barber ring up 276 yards from scrimmage in a close Giants win. You just don't want to witness the other team make history, like the Eagles scoring the most points in the fourth quarter that they ever have, ever.

To me, it was the worst Giants loss in franchise history. No, it wasn't a playoff game, but it made Philadelphia fans happy and rewarded a dog-murderer, at the expense of a possible first round bye and home field advantage. It got me to thinking about other terrible Giants' losses over the years...

5. The "Miracle" At The Meadowlands: This one was before my time, but every Giants fan knows about it. In 1978, the Giants were about to upset the Eagles 17-12, potentially knocking Philadelphia out of the playoffs. All the Giants had to do to win was run out the clock. As in, hike the ball, kneel down. The Eagles had no timeouts, the Giants were leading, and there were 31 seconds left. Kneel the ball, it's over. Instead, the Giants ran the ball. Or tried to. The handoff was botched, Herm Edwards (future Jets coach) picked the ball up and scooted to the game-winning touchdown. A heartbreaking loss, but only #5 on our list because the Giants back then were going nowhere.

4. The 1997 NFC Wild Card Game. In 1997, the Giants had the #1 defense and was riding a hot streak into the playoffs, not bad for a team that had gone 6-10 the previous season. Then they faced Minnesota in the first round.

The Giants took a 19-3 lead into the half. By 7:42 left, they were up 22-13, still a two-score game. With a minute and a half to go, Randall Cunningham, who had been unemployed earlier that season, completed a touchdown to bring the Vikings within 2. The Vikings kicked an onside kick... and recovered. Cunningham led the Vikings into field goal range and the winner sailed through the uprights with 10 seconds left.

3. The Trey Junkin Game: The Giants were up 38-14 with 18 minutes left in the NFC Wild Card game against the San Francisco 49ers. Then they forgot how to play football. They started fighting. They drew stupid penalty after stupid penalty. The Giants' long-snapper was injured, so they had recently signed 19-year veteran Trey Junkin for field goals and punts. On a 42-yard field goal that would have iced the game, he made a terrible snap, and Matt Bryant hooked it.

With 1:00 left, San Francisco quarterback Jeff Garcia gave the 49ers the lead on a 13-yard TD pass to Tai Streets. Even so, a personal foul penalty against the 49ers would have given the Giants excellent field position for the winning field goal. Instead, Shaun Williams decided to slug the guy back, and the penalties were offsetting.

Unfathomably, the Giants got into field goal range anyway. Bryant lined up for the kick. He never got the chance. The snap was laughably bad, and Giants' punter Matt Allen heaved a desperate pass into the end zone. The pass was incomplete, but a flag was down. Pass interference, on the 49ers. Giants ball at the 1 with no time. Except a Giants' lineman was illegally downfield. The refs said that penalty negated the pass interference, and the game was over.

2. Superbowl XXXV: The Giants were coming into Superbowl XXXV off a dominant performance (41-0) in the NFC Championship game against the Minnesota Vikings. Baltimore had Trent Dilfer as their QB, and their best defensive played had just been investigated for his role in a fatal shooting.

The Giants fell behind early, due to their quarterback, Kerry Collins, throwing interception after interception. But then the Giants' Ron Dixon returned a kickoff 97 yards, cutting the Ravens lead to 17-7.

Immediately afterward, the Ravens' Jermaine Lewis returned the ensuing kickoff 84 yards for a TD.

The rout was on. Kerry Collins threw 4 interceptions total. All 16 times the Giants had the ball, they either punted or turned it over. Final score, 34-7.

1. Eight Minutes Of Hell: That's what I'm dubbing this game. And it is the worst the Giants have ever played. No, this wasn't a playoff game, no this wasn't the Superbowl, but in only this loss did the entire Giants team screw up in ways big and small to throw away an important game. People can try to make punter Matt Dodge the scapegoat, but really, no one is blameless. I was there, and it truly was 8 minutes of hell.

Part of me must have known what the Giants were in for. I took this photo at the point in the game when I thought the Giants had put the nail in the coffin:

Giants 31, Eagles 10

It didn't take long for everything to go wrong.

Michael Vick, Eagles QB and former Bad Newz Kennels CEO, ran away from pressure for a monster gain. Then he connected on a 65-yard TD to TE Brent Celek. Then everyone in the stadium expected the Eagles to onside kick the ball.

Except for the Giants, who expected the Eagles to replace their starters and call it quits.

The Giants made no attempt to field the onside kick, and a few plays later, Vick ran it into the end zone to pull the Eagles within a TD.

Eli Manning and Co. couldn't do anything to run down the clock or put more points on the board. Their drive stalled with a horrific false-start penalty.

With 1:16, Vick hit Jeremey Maclin on a TD pass to cap one of the easiest drives the Eagles have ever had.

Game tied, Giants got the ball back with just over a minute. The Giants came out throwing. Manning threw his first pass about a mile from the closest Giant. His second pass was nearly intercepted. The Giants went 3 and out. Giants punter Matt Dodge headed onto the field.

At this point, I told my Dad, "Let's go."

"But Adam, the score's tied, don't you want to see overtime?"

"It's not going to overtime, Dad."

"What do you mean?"

"Let's go beat the crowd to the train."

"There's only 17 seconds left..."

"Dodge is going to shank the punt, it's going to take the Eagles one play to get into field goal range, and Akers will put it away. Let's go."

My Dad and I started shuffling down the aisle. We were almost out of our row when the snap almost went over Dodge's head. We were out of our row, onto the stairs as the punt hit Dodge's foot and made a beeline for DeShawn Jackson, the Eagles star punt returner. Jackson had crossed the 30 by the time we were two steps up the stairs to the exit. The last thing I saw, as we headed out of the stands and into the concourse, was DeShawn Jackson holding out the ball as he danced along the goal line, a few Giants halfheartedly chasing him. We missed the part where Jackson fired the ball into the stands and Giants Coach Tom Coughlin threw down his clipboard.

It was the worst loss in what is quickly becoming a frustrating season for the Giants. At one point, pundits said they were the best team in the NFL and a bonifide challenger for the Super Bowl. Now they look like they're lucky to still have a shot at the playoffs.

Matt Dodge should be let go. He's cost the Giants too much this year. But this game wasn't all his fault. How do you not prepare for an onside kick? How do you get a false start penalty with a chance to run out the game? How do you miss open receivers by so much on a pivotal drive?

I saw history. Maybe the moment when Tom Coughlin became history too.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

So Maybe Barack Obama Wasn't Born In The States?

... Because apparently, Hawaii is not a state.

Two weeks after declaring war on Spain, US Rep. Francis Newlands (D-Nevada) submitted a resolution calling for the annexation of Hawaii by the United States. Influential military figures like Rear Admiral Alfred T. Mahan and General John Schofield testified that the possession of Hawaii by the United States was of "paramount importance." It was in this atmosphere that the Newlands Resolution moved from the House to the Senate and became a joint resolution which President McKinley signed, claiming to have successfully annexed the Hawaiian Islands.

On August 12, 1898, the Hawaiian flag was lowered, the American flag raised, and the Territory of Hawaii formally declared.

But... a Congressional joint resolution is American legislation restricted to the boundaries of the United States. The key to Hawaii's legal status... remains with the 1893 executive agreement between two heads of state: President Grover Cleveland and Queen Liliuokalani.

Unlike other land acquisitions made by cession and voluntary treaties with the French, Spanish, British, Russia and the 1848 Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty that ended the Mexican-American war... there is no treaty of cession, and thus no ceded lands, by then-acting head of state Queen Liliuokalani.
Oh, great. This ought to get the birthers riled up.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

This Ad Just Maybe Misses The Mark

Summers Eve Feminine Hygiene

Hey Ladies, Want A Raise? Then Just Wash Your Hoo-Ha.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The Five Worst Holiday Gift Ideas For 2010

I love holiday shopping. It's just fun to buy gifts, and it's especially fun to receive them. I even wrote a gift guide on this blog two years ago (some of those stores have since closed). But today, I'm writing about bad gifts. Laughably bad gifts that are available from major retailers this holiday season. These Ho Ho Horrendous presents are guaranteed to ruin anyone's Christmas or Chanukah spirit.

5. Pillow Remote Control

Pillow Remote

This is what happens when someone has an idea and never really thinks it all the way through. "You’ll never lose this remote in-between the cushions. Because it IS a cushion!!!!!!"

Um, yeah, it's also an uncomfortable pillow, and incredibly awkward as a remote. There's a distinct possibility laying down on it will change the channel. It's not exactly ergonomically designed and lacks easy navigation controls for today's menu-based cable and satellite systems. The sum of the parts, in this case, does not add up to a whole.

4. Tokyoflash Kisai Wasted Watch

Wasted Watch

Someone will want this. Someone will inevitably think this looks cool. But for more than $80, plus shipping and handling, this wristwatch will make telling the time... almost impossible. I mean, there's a whole YouTube video explaining it, and I'm still lost. Imagine if you're running late. You'd never know it.

3. Ballistic Shoes

Sperm Shoes

According to SkyMall, these shoes can "defy gravity" and "catapult" your legs as you run. They also feature, for some unexplained reason, a sperm logo. Ball-istic indeed!

2. Beard Oil

Beard Oil

As much as I like New York Magazine and their quirky gift recommendations... oil for a beard? Even if your man (or woman) sports a beard, it's hard to imagine anyone getting that excited over this.

1. The Vulcanite Anal Douche

Douche

This product was actually featured in Yahoo's Holiday Gift Guide (Under "Personal Care"). I guess that's why they're not as big as Google.

Of course, I guess this gift works if you're trying to send a message.

Monday, December 06, 2010

I Would Just Like To Point Out That I Called Derek Jeter's New Contract

On November 24th I wrote:
"If you're Theo Epstein, GM of the Boston Red Sox, you've got to be thinking of offering Derek Jeter more than $45 million for three years... Say $51 million for three years."

According to the AP (on December 4th), Derek Jeter signed a 3 year, $51 million dollar contract with the Yankees this weekend.

When I came up with $51 million for three years (on November 24th), that figure hadn't been reported anywhere. I added 2 million a year to the most recently reported Yankee offer, reasoning that would be more in line with what Jeter felt he was worth.

Clearly, Jeter either reads this blog, or his agent does. I can't think of any other explanation.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Derek Jeter To The Red Sox?

Jeter To Boston?
Jeter To Boston?

Let's get this out of the way: It'll never happen. Derek Jeter will never be a Red Sox player, just as black will never be red and Jessica Alba will never sleep with me.

But if you're Theo Epstein, GM of the Boston Red Sox, you've got to be thinking of offering Derek Jeter more than $45 million for three years, which is the New York Yankees best reported offer thus far. Just to screw with your biggest rival.

Now, Derek Jeter is probably not worth even close to that kind of money. The Yankees know it, and Derek likely knows it as well. But teams overpay for veterans all the time. It's nothing new, and Jeter carries with him a certain cachet which makes him more valuable in terms of merchandise and ticket sales.

But let's say Boston does offer Jeter more. Say $51 million for three years. What's the worst case scenario for the Red Sox? Jeter actually accepts. That's not that bad an outcome. Currently, the Red Sox have an infield of Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Jed Lowrie (a rising star) and... well Marco Scutaro.

Derek Jeter is an upgrade over Marco Scutaro, at least at the plate. And theoretically, if Pedroia was moved to shortstop, Jeter's defensive liabilities could be covered up some at 2nd base. Jeter's skills have declined, but not to the point where he's a bench player. He could add that spark that Boston was missing last year.

And of course, there's an additional bonus for Boston. Yankees fans would kill themselves. This seems to be the main reason Boston fans would support the move.

But Jeter actually accepting a Boston offer is highly unlikely. He's well aware of his legacy, and he's seen how Brett Favre's life has gone these past few years. The likely outcome is far more favorable to Boston than Jeter putting on a Red Sox uniform.

In reality, a Boston offer would terrify the Yankees fan base and put pressure on Brian Cashman and Hank Steinbrenner to get a deal done. It would give Jeter leverage to get more money or more years, handcuffing the Yankees to a potentially geriatric money pit down the line. And it would energize Boston fans during the offseason, at the very least giving them material with which to effectively taunt their hated enemy.

Theo would be playing a game of chicken, sure. But one in which he could be reasonably certain the Yankees would swerve first. And even if they didn't, he'd have a player who could fill a hole in the Red Sox infield while simultaneously stabbing a hole in the Yankees hearts.

As a Yankees fan, I hope Theo doesn't buy into this diabolical scheme. But it's not out of the realm of possibility.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Why We Shouldn't Care About Global Warming


Thanksgiving is almost upon us, and that means plenty of time with the extended family. In my family, like most others, we have people from both sides of the political spectrum. And that means certain issues are bound to divide the dinner table. One of these is Global Warming. A few years ago, it seemed like Republicans and Democrats had finally reached agreement that it was a very real problem. But recently, Republicans have tended to be more vociferous about the "lingering doubts" and "shady science" surrounding Al Gore's favorite subject.

They're right about one thing. We shouldn't give a shit about Global Warming. In fact, the Earth would probably be a lot better off if we just forgot about the whole thing.

A recent study conducted by scientists at the University of California at Berkeley found that people just don't respond well to the dire, catastrophic worldview presented by Global Warming alarmists. The truth is, Global Warming seems so huge, so... global, that a lot of people have a hard time getting their heads around it.

People don't like the smell of smokestacks. They don't like mountains of trash. People don't like to see baby animals die, and they don't like being stuck in traffic behind some ancient car spewing fumes. People are inclined to want a clean place to live, and they naturally don't want things added to the environment that cause cancer and birth defects. But in people's day to day lives, they really don't think too much about icebergs and polar bears.

According to Wikipedia, Global Warming came into vogue in the late 1980's, when NASA scientist James E. Hansen said to Congress: "global warming has reached a level such that we can ascribe with a high degree of confidence a cause and effect relationship between the greenhouse effect and the observed warming." Why the press and the international community went wild over such a boring quote in such a boring setting, I have no idea.

But what Global Warming did was hijack environmentalism. Instead of arguing that smokestacks and inefficient cars made our country a less pleasant place to live, and hurt our health, the argument became: burning fossil fuels raises global temperatures by a small, difficult to notice degree that will harm the distant future of the world. Instead of arguing that burning fossil fuels is living on borrowed time, the argument became, burning fossil fuels shortens the lifespan of the Earth as a whole.

An industrial polluter, gas company or fan of muscle cars can't put up any argument that burning fossil fuels lays waste to surrounding areas and clogs up our lungs: we see the evidence every day, all around us. Stand on a street corner when a bus pulls up and idles-- you can smell that something's not quite right. Look outside at the neighborhood covered in freshly fallen snow... then look a few minutes later, when soot and grime rules out any snowman-building. With our own eyes, we see how disgusting pollution can be. Hell, drive through Newark sometime.

To polluters, Global Warming was a gift. A difficult-to-see, difficult-to-measure effect that even scientists admitted probably wouldn't bother any of us in our lifetimes. Global Warming could easily be dismissed with jokes about "Indian summers" and beach days in March. Global Warming even provided a great political cartoon character, Al Gore, who could be pilloried in conservative media and of course, South Park:



Our environment is vital to our health and our national security. Pollution puts food sources at risk, and has a measurable effect on lung health and quality of life. When it comes to pollution, air and otherwise, no one wants it in their backyard. Ask anyone, Republican or Democrat, if pollution is bad, and you won't hear anyone say no.

So lets stop harping on this Global Warming thing. Chances are, it's true, pollutants are contributing to a global rise in temperature that will eventually lead to Jake Gyllenhaal heroically saving a band of survivors hiding out in the New York Public Library after a supercell snowstorm sends the northern hemisphere into a new Ice Age. But that sounds ridiculous, and no one except Al Gore really worries too much about it.

Instead, talk about how our dependence on fossil fuels has made us indebted to places rife with terrorism and anti-American sentiment. Talk about how exhaust from gas-powered cars has been found to cause cancer and respiratory illness. Talk about the hundreds, thousands of reasons why caps on pollution are more than just wise, but necessary to prevent the escalating health care costs and deaths associated with burning fossil fuels. You can even get a bit wistful and talk about how all the resources on this planet today are all the resources we will ever have, and once they're used up, there will be nothing but toxic residue left for our future generations.

Just don't talk about Global Warming. It might as well not exist.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

How The Republicans Like To Win

I'm sure there's many good reasons why New Jersey's Governor Christie hates teacher's unions. But its hard to think of any.

It's not that they're overpaid. The pay they receive for the important job they do is terrible.

There's tenure, sure, and that makes them difficult to fire, but tenure exists for a noble reason. The fact is, there are parents out there who really hate facts like science and history, and if a teacher teaches something that is undeniably true but deemed incompatible with certain political or religious beliefs, those parents will seek to get that teacher fired. Schools are supposed to be about teaching facts and critical thinking, so tenure is a way to make sure that politics doesn't put the education of children at risk.

Wait... I think I just answered my own question.

Governor Christie hates tenure so much because it prevents him from replacing unbiased teachers with ones who will brainwash kids into believing that the Republican party is the one favored by God.

I suppose that's a reasonable goal... except it's not. But no matter. I'm sure Governor Christie believes in having a fair debate on the subject, hearing from both sides of the issue, and using facts to bolster his side of the argument.

Except he doesn't.

Because he's a Republican. And Republicans don't use things like facts to sway Americans. They use the politics of personal destruction.

Like this:
Hero teacher's life destroyed.


Because its not good enough to make reasonable appeals for education reform. Republicans don't like to win by making a solid argument. They like to win by bullying people, destroying lives, ripping people to shreds.

Even heroes.

If Superman was a Democrat, the Republicans would push for Kryptonite to be added to the water supply.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

An In-Depth Analysis Of Why Prop 19, To Legalize Weed In California, Failed

Homer Simpson, Weed Rally

A protest rally is being held. The band Phish appear and play the first couple of lines from "Run Like An Antelope". They suddenly stop for something.

SINGER
Okay, okay, hold on, hold on. (sniffing the air) I smell marijuana smoke. That better be medicinal.

PIANIST
If Phish don't see a prescription slip, we are outa here!

DRUMMER
We can wait all night, people.

Hans Moleman (wearing a psychedelic T-shirt) holds up his prescription slip.

DRUMMER
Here we go. (reads it) Whoa. This guy is seriously ill.

HANS MOLEMAN
My doctor never told me that. I had to hear it from Phish.

SINGER
A-one, a-two, a-you know what to do.

They continue with their song. A little while later, they incorporate the Simpsons theme tune into their set.

PIANIST
Thank you! And now, a man who's a real po-thead... I'm sorry, pot-head... Homer Simpson!

HOMER
Good afternoon. I wanna thank you all for coming down here, taking time off from your jobs... (crowd all mutter "Jobs?") Cause we need to keep medical marijuana legal! (crowd cheer) Whether you suffer from glaucoma, or you just rented The Matrix, medical marijuana can make things fabulous! ...medically. (crowd cheer) So my mellow fellow citizens, when you go into that voting booth on Tuesday the 7th...

GUITARIST
Uh, Homer... that was yesterday.

Homer goes to a newspaper-dispenser and buys a newspaper.


HOMER
Oh man, they already voted! And we lost! (crowd groan) Oh man I can't believe we spaced on the date!

OTTO
Well, what are we gonna do?

HOMER
Well we can't just stand here staring at our hands. Although... (looks at hands) Wow!

OTTO
(sees ring on finger) Whoa! Oh, that's right, I married that chick.

Everyone leaves. That night, Homer and Otto are still on the stage.


OTTO
They call 'em fingers, but I never see them 'fing'. Oh, there they go.

-From The Simpsons, "Weekend At Burnsie's," Season 13, Episode 18.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Overmanaging Cost The Yankees Game 4
WE (win expectancy): The percent chance a particular team will win based on the score, inning, outs, runners on base, and the run environment.

That's right folks. By calling for an intentional walk with two outs, Yankees Manager Joe Girardi REDUCED the chances of the Yankees winning the game. He called for the walk despite the fact that A.J. Freaking Burnett was on the mound, and the less runners on, the better.

Girardi was playing a game called "matchups," a game which pretends that righty batters always can't hit righty pitchers, and left-handed batters always hit right handed pitchers. In "matchup" world, David Murphy will always get a hit against Burnett, and Molina never will.

Murphy does hit better against right-handers, but A.J., on average, has the same success vs. righties and lefties. Let's say, worst case scenario, Murphy does go yard. It's only a two run shot.

You put Murphy on, and according to Win Expectancy, and all other metrics, you increase the chances of three runs coming in. But Girardi called for the walk. You could tell A.J. was pissed. He nearly threw one of the intentional balls away.

How'd that work out?

The next inning, also in match-up land, Girardi decided lefty Boone Logan was a far superior pitcher than Kerry Wood or Joba Chamberlain, at least against the lefty Josh Hamilton. Now, Hamilton batted .404 against righties this year. and .271 against lefties. But Boone Logan has a career 5.10 ERA.

How'd that work out?

This is the playoffs. The fewer runners on base, the better. You play only your best pitchers with the game on the line. This should be common sense. In the real world, it is.

In that world of matchups though, it isn't. Too bad this game happened in the real world.

Let's hope that now, with the ALCS on the line, Joe Girardi will make decisions that help his team, rather than hurt them. A 1.7% reduction in the chances of winning a game doesn't seem like much, but in the playoffs, every little bit counts. In this case, it set the Yankees up for disaster.

Friday, October 15, 2010

I Won't Be Going To The World Series This Year

The pre-onsale for Yankees World Series tickets began today at 1:00. I refreshed my browser every second from 12:59 until the tickets page popped up. Immediately, I went for bleachers, Game 5. 1 minute waiting time. Sorry, no tickets available.

Next, bleachers, Game 4. 2 minute waiting time. Sorry, no tickets available.

At the same time, my cousin searched too. We abandoned hope of finding two tickets together. We just wanted one ticket. Any ticket. I had two browsers open on my desktop, and a Ticketmaster window open on my iPhone too.

Eventually, we just went for Best Available. $456 dollar seats be damned.

Sorry, no tickets available.



It was then I learned that there had been a "Preliminary Pre-Onsale," earlier, at 10 AM, for some undefined group of eligible ticket licensees.

I hate them all.

My cousin and I did find some seats available. Wheelchair seats reserved for the disabled.

"Just break my back with a baseball bat," my cousin suggested.

What followed was a 20 minute conversation on the different ways we could take advantage of having a wheelchair ticket. "Actually using them would be wrong," I concluded. "But we could buy them and sell them for profit someplace where people in wheelchairs hang out. Like a VFW hall..."

In the end, morality and human decency prevailed. But my cousin said it best:
"Even though i wasn't seriously considering it, I'm sure that at least 20 other people had the same convo today... and I bet some bought them."

Thursday, October 07, 2010

A Few Words On Branding

It's incredibly difficult to build a brand. For every Apple, Nike, and Coca-Cola, there's a million different failures that never attracted consumer recognition and loyalty. So its bizarre to find that in a bad economy, when every industry is struggling, established brands are spending millions of dollars to trash their brands and destroy their iconic symbols.

Take the Gap, which changed from their iconic blue box to... well, this universally-panned monstrosity:









Already, Gap has been forced to pretend this was all part of some social media experiment. Actually, Gap paid millions to a "creative agency" (which, ironically, touts the old logo on its website.)

We've seen this type of thing before. Remember when Tropicana lost its mind?

Tropicana
Yes, This Is More Generic!

Now, I know business is down these days. So I'm going to save the corporations of America a lot of money. Instead of these businesses needing to pay consulting firms and market research teams millions of dollars to redesign their beloved, iconic logos into horsetrash... I mean, "dynamic research driven graphic design paradigms," I'm going to perform this service for free. Eat your heart out Laird and Partners...




The Real Bullies

Hope Witsell. Phoebe Prince. Tyler Clementi. It seems like every day another name is added to the list, another bullied kid who took his or her own life. A lot of blame, falls naturally to the bullies. They harass, they harass and they harass, and eventually, some of their victims break.

But the truth is, kids are kids. They're stupid. They're callous. They're short-sighted and off-the-wall. We've all been there. We all remember when we laughed at hugely inappropriate things, thought adults were making a big deal out of nothing, and did idiotic things to impress our peers. We still do these things now that we're older, even if it’s less often, even if we now know better.

Of course, nearly all of us also know what it's like to be bullied. Throughout elementary school and intermediate school, I was a frequent target of bullying.

I was chubby and imaginative, with little impulse control, which made me stand out like a giraffe in a herd of meerkats. I used to pretend the backs of the seats on the school bus were football fields, and my fingers were football players, running down and tackling each other. Football's cool, I thought. But some kid mashing his hands together the whole bus ride making crunching sounds decidedly is not.

I couldn't understand why kids made fun of me. It was frustrating, because my parents always taught me that if you're nice to others, they'll be nice to you. But this wasn't the case. I never got beat up, but the verbal abuse and shunning I got was painful for a kid who just longed to be accepted.

But I learned something very important during those years. Teachers and administrators don't give a damn.

I reported my harassment dozens of times (you can imagine how popular this made me) but the most that ever happened was the two of us, bully and me, getting called into an office and being forced to agree to be friends. Of course, the bully would say he was sorry. But seconds out of the office, he'd whisper that I was dead. Talking got nowhere.

No one took me seriously, I began to think. No one knew how bad it really was. How could I let them know how serious it was? What was the most serious thing I could do?

I threatened suicide. Was I serious about it? At times, I thought I was. I just saw the small space around me, filled with misery. Suicide seemed like the only escape.

But the primary goal of the threat was to alert the adults to how serious I thought the teasing was. That it needed to be dealt with harshly... or else.

I didn't get the response I expected. Instead, teachers and administrators made it clear that there was something very wrong... with me. Thinking about suicide made me a supremely messed up young person. Like Angelina Jolie in Girl, Interrupted. I needed help, counseling. I was the one who needed to be changed. I was broken, maybe irrevocably.

Hope Witsell, for instance, was forced to sign an "Anti-Suicide Pledge."

This did nothing to dissuade me from suicide. In fact, it reinforced the fact that suicide was the only thing that could be done. We didn't have Google back then, but I'm pretty sure it was the moment when I would have looked up "How To Commit Suicide." The biggest threat I could think of hadn't convinced adults to take the bullying seriously. Instead, it had convinced them that I was the one that needed correcting. I started to think... maybe they were right.

The thing is... they were. In a way. There was nothing wrong with me being chubby, or imaginative, or a dreamer, or an oddball. But I was ill-equipped to deal with the repercussions of being those things.

I didn't know how to brush off an insult, or respond with something witty. I didn't know what I know now: that bullying is actually a natural human response to strange, odd, different, social behavior. I thought that people just decided one day to attack me. And if someone told me it was my own damn fault... well, that would have made me even more depressed.

The reactions of my teachers and counselors may have been right from an adult perspective, but as a kid, those reactions crushed me. Nobody cared.

I suspect that's how Tyler, and Phoebe and Hope felt. Nobody cared. What I needed was someone who truly cared, truly understood. Someone who would unmask the bullies and leave them as humiliated and defeated as I was. I needed a white knight. I needed an avenger. Today, I see the inherent problems with this approach, but at the time, it made sense. I needed someone to teach the bullies a lesson.

Of course, no one did. I transferred schools in 8th grade, a solution which Phoebe Prince tried in a similar fashion. Fortunately for me, there was a kid there far worse off than I was.

I came into my new school very careful, trying not to make waves. And in my reserved state, I observed. There was this one kid, I'll call him Stuart, who always seemed to get laughed at, and not in a good way. And I recognized a lot of the things that I did myself-- the daydreaming, the singing to himself, the constant calls for the teacher's attention.

One time, we were in gym class, playing kickball. Some kids were goofing off, laughing. A ball bounced away, and landed near Stuart. I saw him get upset. I knew what he was thinking. He'd been daydreaming, and not paying attention. But then he heard the laughter, he saw the ball almost hit him. Someone, clearly, was aiming to hit him, humiliate him.

He flipped out at ME.

He chucked the ball in my direction, he missed. He picked up the kickball base and flung it at me, it fluttered harmlessly to the floor. He yelled at me and stormed off, tears in his eyes.

Then the laughter really started. I found myself bewildered, but joining in. The kid was crazy.

But I stopped myself. That was me, I thought. I remembered a gym class not so long before, where a ball had hit me in the head. Maybe it was on purpose. But my reaction… storming up to the kid I THOUGHT had done it, and giving him a meek punch in the stomach, hadn't done anything but invite more laughter, more humiliation. I finally got what my parents had said about "just ignoring it." My reaction poured fuel on the fire. In this case, Stuart's reaction had started the fire.

This was a lesson I couldn't learn from anybody. I had to learn it myself. From watching even dorkier kids like Stuart. No adult could make that lesson stick in.

They shouldn't have tried. Because the only way to beat bullies is to outlast them. To grow and mature to the point where you can see what bullying really is... a defense against the threat of someone different. No words can force someone to arrive at that realization (my parents tried the tactic of telling me that they themselves were bullied, but that just convinced my young self that being a loser was genetic). In my case, I gained perspective by switching schools. Others get it by moving onto college, going to a new town, going to camp, traveling abroad, joining a youth group, playing on a sports team, joining model UN, acting in a theater group.

And sometimes, it takes more than one of these things to expand someone's view of the world. Phoebe may have switched continents, but she was still stuck in high school, still stuck in the same patterns that had defined her life back in Ireland. She never got to a place where she could get perspective.

Growing up means moving out of your tiny sphere of a world into the much larger one, and only then do you begin to realize that every single person in the whole damn world's been called a slut at one time or another, and the word "slut" itself is just an uncreative way to announce a bully's own jealousy or prudishness. Don't at least some of us want to scream at Phoebe: "Come on! They're just mad because you slept with their boyfriend! They're nothing! They're specks!" But to Phoebe, they were the only thing she could see.

Bullying loses its effect once you can see it as a tiny grain in the hourglass of life, something that will slip through to the bottom of our minds at sometime in the future, kept as a painful memory but also an important reminder to treat others with humility and respect.

Once your world is larger, you begin to realize the biggest bully was yourself, because only you made you believe there wasn't anything worth living for outside acceptance from a stupid, immature clique of people who had horrible insecurities and problems of their own.

Tyler didn't kill himself because he was filmed with a guy in his bedroom. He killed himself because he couldn't see that being filmed with a guy in his bedroom wasn't the end of the world. Homophobes would judge him, some immature people would laugh. If he could see beyond them, he'd see that nobody else would care about some stupid video some stupid kids made.

So what can parents do? Or teachers? Or counselors? They can't tell a kid the truth, but they can help open up a kid's world so that child can experience it for his or herself. They can do their best to show kids how beautiful and wonderfully wide the world is. That there's more to the world than the mean kids within a 5 mile radius. They can help a bullied girl discover that most people in her city, state, country don't think that she's a slut... and neither do the billions of other people in the world.

They need to show a kid another escape route. Often, it can be inside the school, among a group that embraces the differences others ridicule. In some cases, it may take going a little further. It's not running away from problems... it's giving kids the space to realize that they're actually not huge problems. "Slut!" "Homo!" "Look at her titties!" are not huge problems. Feeling like there's nothing else out there... that is.

Shut a kid in a building with tormentors, they will think that's all there is. Raise them up above the fray, and they can see for miles.

Friday, October 01, 2010

The Social Network Opens Today

The Social Network opens today, and given how popular and essential Facebook has become, it's easy to forget that this movie could have featured a different social network entirely. Even as late as 2006, it wasn't clear who the social networking winner would be. I wrote the following article in 2006 for MSNBC. MSNBC never ran it, but I got some great quotes from Cameron Winklevoss, one of the villains (or victims, depending on how you look at it) in The Social Network movie. 

The MySpace That Wasn’t...
And The Ones Yet To Be
 
​Figure skater Sasha Cohen is doing it. So is Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo. You can’t pick up a newspaper or magazine (even this month’s Playboy!) without hearing about MySpace. With more than 75 million members, the social networking site dominates the news. Why did it succeed while others failed? And is there anything that can beat Rupert Murdoch’s $580 million dollar baby?

​“We founded social networking,” says Andrew Weinreich, founder and former CEO of the now-defunct SixDegrees.com, often credited as the first website to employ social psychologist Stanley Milgram’s six degrees of separation theory, which postulated that everyone is connected through common acquaintances. Weinreich founded SixDegrees in 1996, seven years before MySpace and eight years before Facebook. “We saw early on incredible excitement about the idea of linking friends to friends and friends of friends online,” he says.

​Of course, this month the MySpace guys, Chris DeWolfe and Tom Anderson, are on the cover of Time’s 100 Most Influential People issue, and Weinreich is not. But he doesn’t hold any grudges. “Our story is a classic example of the technology needing to catch up with an idea,” he says.

​Back in 1996, Weinreich says, few people had digital cameras. This presented a problem. “People were clamoring to put photos up on their pages,” he says. “We actually thought long and hard about having people mail us their photos and hiring interns to scan them in to the system. But with the time and the cost, there was no way we could do it. The big difference today is that the cost of technology is way down and there are a lot more people online. And nearly everyone has a digital camera.”

​At its height, SixDegrees had more than 3.5 million members. Weinreich sold the site in December of 1999. Back then, its marketing department was talking about future plans to include instant messaging, online study groups and webcam services. But by the next December, SixDegrees was dead, a victim of the dot com bust.
​“MySpace and Friendster started after we closed,” Weinreich says. “They’ve done a great job. Their timing was impeccable.”

​Timing is a big part of why some social networking sites succeed and some don’t, says Harvard University graduate Cameron Winklevoss, one of the founders of ConnectU, a college student social networking site. In the winter of 2002, Winklevoss, his brother Tyler and friend Divya Narendra dreamed up a site that would help connect students from different colleges around Boston and eventually, the world. However, Winklevoss says, they got beat to the punch by three months—by a fellow Harvard student they had hired to program their site. That programmer was Mark Zuckerberg, and his website was Facebook, which now counts more than 7 million college students as members. According to Businessweek.com, Zuckerberg recently rebuffed an offer of $750 million for his site and is looking to sell for $2 billion. And Rolling Stone magazine featured a glowing profile on Zuckerberg in an issue last month. ConnectU, on the other hand, Winklevoss says, has 60,000 members and no such deals or feature stories in the works.

​“When we asked [Mark] how our site was coming along, he told us, ‘Hey, I’m a little busy; I’ll get back to you,’” Winklevoss says. “A couple days later we read about Facebook in the college paper. It was pretty shocking.”

​Winklevoss and his co-founders filed a lawsuit against Zuckerberg for stealing their ideas and the computer code for their site. For his part, Zuckerberg has counter-sued for defamation of character and denied the allegations.
​Winklevoss has very little bad to say about the Facebook site itself. “It really has become exactly what we envisioned it would be. The idea is solid. These sites are so hot right now that people are willing to invest millions.”
​ConnectU is still actively recruiting new users, but Winklevoss acknowledges his site has little chance of winning the competition. “The idea of being a part of two similar social networks doesn’t appeal to people. And Facebook got there first. People don’t want to rebuild their network of friends on another site.”

​Other social networking startups are hoping that isn’t true. TagWorld, founded in July 2005 and now in beta testing, hopes new features and functionality will lure users away from social networks like MySpace. 

TagWorld combines a social network with drag-and-drop web publishing. Related photos, music clips, and videos are grouped together using “tags,” or keywords, helping the users who posted them connect with each other. With 1,613,122 users registered in less than a year, the site is off to a strong start, says TagWorld spokeswoman Paula Gould. “We’re not just a profile page. We give you a gigabyte of space and an easy way to create a website without knowing how to use HTML,” she says. “Any number of social networking sites have similar features, but we have them in one space.” 

TagWorld is on a publicity blitz, putting up billboards throughout the Los Angeles area depicting TagWorld users and sponsoring a battle-of-the-bands contest to choose a song for the soundtrack of New Line Cinema’s new movie “Snakes on a Plane,” which has received enormous internet buzz. 

“People are catching on to us,” Gould says. “We intend to be a part of social networking for a long period of time.”

​“Some social networks stick and some don’t,” Winklevoss says. “Look at Google’s Orkut or Yahoo’s 360. They haven’t really worked. Friendster didn’t change for two years and they died… no one talks about them anymore.”

​Well, hardly dead, but Friendster, founded two years before MySpace, has fallen behind its slightly younger cousin in terms of membership and buzz. Friendster started off strong, amassing one million users in a little over a year. Today, they claim more than 27 million. But users complained that the site was too slow and the interface too restrictive. “In the beginning we had too small a tech team in place,” says Friendster spokesman Jeff Roberto. “We couldn’t meet demand at peak hours of the day and we couldn’t launch new features. And that diverted a lot of traffic to other services.”

​Former head of business development at Friendster, Jim Scheinman, is now vice president of business development and sales for Bebo.com, a high school and college social network with 22 million members worldwide and is more popular in the UK than MySpace. Jim cites user testimonials as evidence that not everyone is sold on MySpace. One user writes, “Bebo is by far the best social site available. It kicks MySpace's ass!!” Another observes, “Bebo is like a much less confusing MySpace.”

“We believe that the ultimate winner in the social network space will be the company with the best product and the most rabid and loyal customer base,” Scheinman says. “We don't actively encourage ‘Beboers’ to leave other SN sites and come to Bebo, they just do it on their own.” Although, he says, Bebo has to adjust its strategy to attract users in North America. “There are more entrenched players in those markets,” he says.

​Weinreich, for one, doesn’t believe that MySpace will dominate forever. “The best applications we haven’t seen yet. Take eBay for example—why can’t the buyer and the seller be connected in a social network?” he muses. Weinreich and his partners plan to launch a new mobile social networking site in three to four weeks, the details of which he keeps a secret, with all the competition out there. “The best social network we have yet to see,” he says. “MySpace hasn’t fulfilled all of the vision.”
 

Friday, September 24, 2010

I'm Pretty Sure This Whole Thing Was Staged



Does this look like a guy that's about to heckle Meg Whitman?

Ed Buck, Heckler?
You Be The Judge

As any good conspiracy theorist would do, I did some cursory Internet sleuthing. And at first blush, it appears that Ed Buck is a Democrat. He's donated to Democratic campaigns. He likes animals and hates eminent domain development. And he's heckled before. According to LA Weekly, May 25, 2006:

Concern over campaign contributions erupted at a City Council meeting in February. Ed Buck, a West Hollywood resident, confronted [Abbe] Land and said she had accepted more than $40,000 from entities involved in one council agenda item.

There's just one thing... Abbe Land is a Democrat.

That's just the kind of thing that would send a conspiracy nut off the wall. Then I found this:

Time Magazine, November 9, 1987:
Says Ed Buck, a gay Phoenix businessman and conservative Republican who launched the recall movement last July: "Perhaps their support finally drove the point home to Evan Mecham that this is not a band of homosexuals and dissident Republicans."
"CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICAN!!!" Ed Buck!

And yes, it is the same Ed Buck.

So the question then becomes: Why did Ed Buck heckle Meg Whitman? Is it that he's a tea party style disgruntled Republican? Was he, as Meg Whitman suggested, a plant by her Democratic opponents? Or, far more sinister, was it a plot by Whitman and Christie to boost both their profiles?

Alas, without any smoking gun, say, a signed check from Whitman to Buck, I'd say we probably have to conclude the first probability. Ed Buck is a politically active, fiscally conservative but socially liberal person, who didn't like the fact that Whitman had an event in which she refused to take questions. He's been a vocal proponent of transparency in the past. A Democratic plant seems like a stretch-- this guy beats to his own drum, and clearly is an equal-opportunity heckler.

But that shot of them holding hands.... well. I'll let others do the digging for me.

One last thing. Lets just note Christie's hypocrisy. He talks about bringing America together, and not shouting, when he's done the exact opposite in Jersey. Instead of listening to teachers concerns, he's belittled them. He's raged against the working class. His governing strategy is to take money away from everywhere its needed, while maintaining promises to the wealthy people who donated to his campaign. The school system is weaker now because of him, and all but the wealthiest are struggling. People called him "standing up to" a "heckler" chivalrous (because Whitman is a woman, who obviously can't defend herself), but all Christie was doing was stifling discussion and debate, something he's tried to do at every juncture in his time as New Jersey governor.

This is the guy Republicans think is the future???

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Texas Thinks Education Means Propaganda

School textbooks are brainwashing our kids into becoming Islamic terrorist liberals who hate Christianity and worship at the altar of horse-porn.

No More Teachers No More Books

So says the Texas State Board Of Education.

“I think our documentation clearly shows that the bias is there,” said Randy Rives of Odessa, who drafted the resolution. “And we feel that it was not done on accident.”
Oh my! Randy's figured it out! He's on to the vast left-wing conspiracy that's out to turn America's children into homosexual communist atheists!

For instance, DID YOU KNOW:

-Textbooks say that Muslims once ruled most of the civilized world
-Textbooks say that Christian Crusaders killed people
-Textbooks say that not all Muslims are terrorists
-Textbooks say that some laws passed by liberals worked
-Textbooks don't say that not accepting Jesus will send you to hell
-Textbooks are heavy

"But," you might ask (ha, you said Butt!), "If children don't learn in school that Jesus Christ is their Lord and Savior and that all other religions are just sick, twisted blasphemy, then where will they learn it? My God! Think of the children! The CHILDREN!!!!"

Fortunately for Americans (white, Christian ones), Randy is on the case. That whole crusades thing? Let's shorten that to a paragraph. And replace "forced Jews and Muslims to convert to Christianity on pain of death" to "gave Jews and Muslims fuzzy bunny rabbits to love and cuddle."

Bunny Crusade
They Called Them "Easter Bunnies"

How about the "New Deal," labor and welfare reforms of the post-industrial age? Let's just replace all that with, "Americans prayed really hard, and things just got better and better." Cause that's the real truth.

In fact, let's ditch the textbooks altogether. There's really only one book America's children need to read. It's a best-seller, and it's written by an author who looks down on us from up high, judging us mere mortals by the light of his omnipotent presence.

Bill O'Reilly's Bold Fresh Piece Of Humanity
Duh.

Thank God for Randy. At least someone in this country is trying to save our children's souls, instead of filling their heads with useless historical facts and knowledge.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen Of Delaware, Meet Your Republican Nominee For Senate...



Is it just me, or is she totally eye-****ing that youth pastor?\

Also, according to Bill Maher, she's not only hot, but she's always got the chronic:

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

It Can't Happen Here

It began with an attack, led by a bearded man, seeking to destroy the government of a country which stood for everything he stood against. Even though he failed, the people of the country began to fear bearded men like him, began to fear men who came from the same religious background. Right-wing religious, political, and media leaders referred to these people as vermin, less than human. They blamed them for the country's woes, a sick economy, a decline of national culture and stature. Popular cartoons appeared mocking their religion. Their places of worship, houses, and businesses were attacked. Their books were burned...


This may sound familiar to anyone following the current trend of anti-Muslim furor in this country. Osama Bin Laden attacked us. Right-wingers have stirred up anti-Islamic feelings. Those feelings have taken root in people who have suffered in our current economic downturn. Recently, a Muslim cab driver and a mosque were attacked. Now a Florida church plans to burn hundreds of Korans, the Muslim holy book, which have been sent to them from people all over the country.

But the story I began with is not the story of America's relationship with Islam following the September 11th attacks. It is the story of a different country, in a different time. Let me tell you the rest.

Over time, the dehumanization of these "enemies of the state" became accepted by the majority. After that, it was easy to pass laws restricting their freedoms. But this didn't make the people of the country feel quite safe enough. It was then suggested that there was an easy solution to the problem these enemies of the state presented. Kick them out.


I'm reminded of the simplistic solution many right-wingers have offered to the influx of illegal immigrants in this country. But this story isn't about Mexicans either.

But the solution wasn't that easy. Where would these people go? Neighboring countries didn't want them. In the meantime, they were forced to move into cordoned-off slums and makeshift encampments. These became overcrowded. Disease was rampant. The manpower and money necessary to keep these places under control was overwhelming. It was then that someone came up with a different solution. A permanent one.


Hopefully, you've figured out what story I'm telling here. It's the first part to a more popularly known story, an introduction that often gets skipped over, simply because the details of the final part are so chilling, so monstrous.

It's the story of a Jew, Kurt Eisner, who led the overthrow of the German government in Munich at the end of World War I, and was a key figure in forcing Germany's surrender. He didn't do it because he was a Jew, he did it because he was a radical communist. But his attack gave fuel to the right-wing forces that claimed Germany's defeat in World War I was due to leftist elements in their own country, not superior foreign might.





In this atmosphere of hatred, a new leader rose to power. He built his constituency by playing to their basest fears-- that Jews and the communists were trying to destroy their country. His hateful words inspired Germans to terrorize all Jews, no matter what their political beliefs. It was just a matter of time before this leader put into action his "final solution."

Could such a thing happen here? We're not at that part of our story yet. But the first few chapters written after 9/11 look eerily similar to that story of the past, with Muslims (and dark-skinned immigrants) instead of Jews. The Koran-burning parishioners are a reminder that people tend to follow their leaders, even into madness. 11,207 people are fans of this event on Facebook.

How many would have been fans of Kristallnacht?

Jews have a saying: "Never Again." I think that includes making sure that no other group is ever subjected to the kind of hate that spurs the most demonic violence in men.

So I've started a "Americans Against International Burn A Koran Day" group on Facebook. Show that there are enough Americans out there who recognize the signs of a country spiraling towards madness.

"Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings." -Heinrich Heine



[UPDATE: The book burning was canceled, proving that when the majority of good people stands up to the minority of bigots, the bigots sit back down.]

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

New Poll Determines Polls Are Now Officially Useless

In a new poll conducted by the Adam's Life blog, 79% of Americans admitted often lying to pollsters, providing inaccurate or sarcastic answers, or "just plain f*cking with Wolf Blitzer's mind."

The poll came on the heels of a Newsweek poll that showed the majority of Americans believe President Obama wants to impose Islamic Sharia law upon the United States.

"The pollsters ask such ridiculous questions, I really just try to have fun with them," said Roger P. Nobodi, a frequent online poll answerer. "The other day, there was a poll asking if we thought the sun was just the ash from God's cigarette. I thought, 'Okay, well why the hell not?'"

Bill Fakerton, who often responds to polls on Fox News and other conservative news sites, also admitted to not telling the truth.

"Do I really think Obama was born in Pakistan? No," Fakerton said. "But I don't like him. So sure, I'll click he could be from Pakistan. It's not like anyone's gonna call me out on it."

The Gallup Institute, which conducts polls for media, government, and business, expressed doubt that the Adam's Life poll was accurate.

"People lie or give jokey answers to polls all the time," said Arthur Imagenari, spokesman for the organization, "So I don't trust the results of this poll that finds people aren't honest when responding to poll questions."

He then exploded.

"I never lie to pollsters," said Faye Person, a housewife who has nothing to do all day but answer online poll questions. "I just try to give the answers I think they're looking for. Like when they ask if President Obama is secretly part of Bin Laden's inner circle, I figure they're getting that question from somewhere, so it must be partly true."

She did, however, admit to pretending to be in the coveted 18-25 demographic.

"They just care about those people's opinions more," Person said. "And who hasn't lied about their age?"

Nobodi, for one, doesn't plan on answering poll questions honestly anytime soon.

"I'm just having way too much fun. I told some guy the other day that I thought Michael Jackson wasn't dead," Nobodi said. "I'd rather be part of the 10% who feel that way than cowtow to the majority."

Additional findings of the Adam's Life poll discovered that only 65% of Americans use a toilet to go to the bathroom, and only 35% believe the sun sets in the west, 53% think that Terminator 2 was based on a true story, and 92% think Jessica Alba is a MILF.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Jailbreak Your iPhone. Seriously. Now.

I "jailbroke" my iPhone a few weeks ago. And I'll never go back to jail.

You can read the rest of this article first if you want, but you should really just backup your iPhone to your computer right now, then visit http://www.jailbreakme.com on your iPhone, and jailbreak yourself immediately.

But to those who need to know a little more, read on:

What is "jailbreaking?" Is it as illegal and dangerous as it sounds?

"Jailbreaking" is the act of running a computer program on your iPhone that allows you to install software not purchased at Apple's iTunes App Store. That's it. Nothing nefarious and dangerous. It's no more illegal than putting Microsoft Word on your Macbook computer.

Jailbreakme.com was created in part by a guy named Jay Freeman, who goes by the handle Saurik, and titles his homepage "The Realm of the Avatar." In other words, he's a computer geek, and not some Bond villain. He created Cydia, which is the official app store for Jailbreakers. It's not a place full of viruses and eletric fighting monkeys. It's the Century 21 to Apple's Bloomingdales.

Will this f*ck up my $199-$299 dollar phone?


This was my biggest fear. I'd heard things. Like, "Jailbreaking can turn your iPhone into an iPaperweight." And Apple warns you-- "Jailbreaking voids your warranty." But like that lady in the Pledge commercials found out (No waxy buildup!), I too discovered my fears were unfounded.

Let's say, for the sake of argument, the jailbreak does give you problems. All you have to do is plug your phone into your computer, hit the restore button, and your phone returns to its original state, with all the data from the last time you backed up to your computer. So there's no risk. If you try it, and it doesn't work for you, no biggie. You can restore your phone to its "still in jail" state and Apple will have no way of knowing whether you violated your warranty or not.

Why do I have to do this?
Because your phone is boring. Yeah, it was cool to have an iPhone when it first came out, but now it seems like everybody has one. And the only way you can tell them apart? "Oh... that's a nice case" or "Is that a new ringtone?"

This is what my Lock screen looks like:



I have my appointments, my email, weather and text messages all right there on the Lock Screen. And if I double-tap the clock, I get the top news headlines and sports scores too. It's a lot easier than unlocking the phone, then pressing the icon for each individual app and waiting for each one to load as I search for information. I did this with an app called Intelliscreen. Only available for a jailbroken iPhone.

Now look at what you can do to the rest of your phone:



"Look how pretty that text is! Is that Notes App... white instead of yellow? Where's the 3G symbol... why is it... is that the Ohio State logo? And what cell service do you have... Adam... wait, that's your name! And...wait a second... THERE'S FIVE ICONS IN THE DOCK! FIVE!?!?!"

Oh, and you can't tell from a still photo, but that's an animated wallpaper.

There's more.

When a song changes while I'm playing a game or surfing the web, I no longer have to wonder which song is on now. All I have to do is glance at the top of the screen:



And forget about those cheesy "flashlight" apps available at the Apple store. I just double-click the home button and the LED flash of the iPhone camera illuminates.

And honestly, this is the more boring stuff you can do. You can download theme sets that change the look of your app icons... making them 3d, turning them into baseball caps, or making each one a different Playboy Playmate.

You can even change the look of the dial screen and the text message application. Now I represent the Yankees every time I text:



My point is, there are endless options. None of these things are complicated to do. You install an app called Winterboard, which is very easy to use, and you can download different looks from Cydia or RockApp, another non-Apple app store.

So, you can either get really jazzed about the lame wallpapers Apple's store sells, or you can jailbreak your phone and make it even more interesting and fun. It's not a tough choice.

Other things you may want: Unlimited folder capacity and customizable folders, changing the colors of pop-ups and selections, the ability to keep programs loading in the background while working in another app.

And of course, there's the three big not-so-kosher things jailbreaking allows you to do: download free ringtones of popular songs, use your phone as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot for your computer, and use Facetime over 3G. Just make sure you have an unlimited data plan for the last two.

Ok, I'm sold. Any warnings?


Just a few. One, and most importantly, do not update your iPhone software to the latest version, 4.0.2. There are no new features in this update... it's only designed to block jailbreaks from happening.

Secondly, not all programs and themes are designed for the iPhone 4 and the 4.0 software. If you wait for the descriptions to load (it can take a second or two in the Cydia app) you should be able to find out whether it's designed for your phone or not.

Thirdly, there's a lot of great programs in Cydia and RockApp, but there's a lot with bugs too. One app I tried, which puts actual live weather updates on top of the stock Apple Weather icon, sent my phone into "Safe Mode," which gave me a panic attack. Fortunately, its an easy fix. You go into Cydia or RockApp and simply go to the "Manage" section to delete the offending program (another Cydia App, CyDelete, makes this even easier).

Ok, but...

No, no buts. Do it now. Thank me later.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Internet Will Not Let You Get Away With It

First, watch this:



Disgusted by that evil witch of a woman? So were the cat's owners when they saw the security camera footage.

They created a page of Facebook: Help Find The Woman Who Put My Cat In A Bin

According to Switched.com:
"Within days, the video had racked up hundreds of thousands of hits as well as tens of thousands of "likes" on Facebook. The woman was eventually identified, and, fearing for her safety, the police have had to put her in protective custody."
How many people have to be shamed on the internet before everyone realizes that nobody can get away with anything anymore?

If you do something bad, the internet will find you out. This would make the world honest, if it weren't for another primary function of the internet, which is to spread lies told by crazy people (i.e. politicians).

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Proposed Ground Zero T.G.I. Friday's Fuels Debate, Criticism



Angry relatives of 9/11 victims last night clashed with supporters of a planned T.G.I. Friday's near Ground Zero at a raucous community-board hearing in Manhattan.

After four hours of public debate, members of Community Board 1 finally voted 29-1 in support of the project. Nine members abstained, arguing that they preferred a Chili's.

While the board has no official say over whether the T.G.I. Friday's gets built, already the decision has sent shockwaves throughout the country.

Carrying signs such as, "9/11 Was A Tuesday -- Not A Friday's!" opponents of the proposed casual dining establishment several blocks away from Ground Zero called the plan an insult to the terror-attack victims.

"I mean, have you eaten there lately? It's overpriced crap that tastes like garbage. There's a better way to honor those we lost than the new Jack Daniel's Burger," said a retired FDNY firefighter.

He also raised concerns that terrorists could take advantage of the new restaurant, so close to the location of the largest terrorist attack on American soil.

"I do have a problem with having a T.G.I. Friday's on top of the site where terrorists can sit and enjoy the 3 For $12.99 dinner special," he said, referring to the popular limited-time promotion that includes an appetizer, entree and dessert for $12.99.

Harvey Fakerbean, representing T.G.I. Friday's at the community board meeting, insisted that the restaurant would help "bridge the great divide" between different cultures.

"We have Bruchetta Chicken Pasta, from Italy, the Sizzling Fajitas, from Mexico, Pot Stickers from Asia, the California Turkey Burger and the New York Strip from the United States." Fakerbean said. "We have no higher aspirations than to serve our customers in peace and harmony in this country."

But the crowd got ugly when he added, "Freedom of assembly is the right of all Americans."

Amid boos, one woman shouted, "Not at the World Trade Center!"

Fakerbean's wife, Daisy, followed him to the microphone and pitched the planned restaurant as "much needed party space and much needed dining space" for the area.

She was roundly booed.

President Barack Obama declined to comment on the wisdom of building a restaurant located several streets down and around the corner from the Ground Zero site where tourists buy souvenir t-shirts and commemorative buttons. But he did release a statement saying, "They have a right to build a place of dining and drinking on private property in lower Manhattan. But yeah, I prefer Chili's too. That Awesome Blossom. Delish."

Former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin weighed in on the debate on her Facebook page, challenging the President to take a stronger stand against the red-stripe canopied restaurant.

"We all know that they have the right to do it, but should they?" Palin wrote. "And, no, this is not above your pay grade. If those who wish to build this Ground Zero Friday's are sincerely interested in providing a fun, family-friendly atmosphere and good food at affordable prices, then why haven't they recognized that the decision to build a restaurant at this particular location is doing just the opposite? Plus, they charge for breadsticks now. Breadsticks!"

Before the meeting, the Manhattan Borough President, a supporter of the T.G.I. Friday's, stood in front of the site and said, "What we're rejecting here is outright bigotry and hatred. Friday's was born here. Just because a few of their establishments are bad quality doesn't mean they all are. The one at the Monmouth Mall in Eatontown, N.J. is one of my favorites."

Catholic priest Kyle Notreala, of St. Peter's Church, which is a few blocks away, agreed.

"I think they need to establish a place such as this for people from Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths to come together," Notreala said.

"Because after this," he added, "We could all use a few drinks."


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For a more serious article on the Ground Zero mosque, click here.

Also, this great rebuttal on Slate.

Friday, August 13, 2010

One Reason Not To Buy The Droid

I'm an iPhone guy. Even though my new iPhone 4 drops calls like Braylon Edwards drops passes, it wins out in design, features, apps, and ease of use. I've had an ongoing, friendly debate with my cousin about which phone is better, the Droid or the iPhone, and I have to admit, he makes some valid points.

But one criticism of Apple, its tight control over the Apps in its App Store, could also be one of its selling points. After all, there's no danger of typing "Jewish" into the App Store search, and getting a result like this:


Heil Droid?

As Joshua Topolsky writes on Engadget:
No one is going to tell you that you can't install a Nazi theme on your phone, but we're pretty sure that Google shouldn't make it so easy, and it shouldn't subject a large portion of its users to content that rightfully deserves to sit on the fringes, not in the center.
So don't buy the Droid, people. Google may not be profiting off this Hitler App, but they're providing a tool that helps the despicable people who would develop and purchase such an awful thing.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Quitting Has Never Been So Much Fun!

In these tough economic times, jobs are hard to come by. But that isn't stopping today's over-extended, stressed-out workers from voluntarily joining the unemployment lines. After all, quitting has never been so much fun!

Take Steven Slater, (former) JetBlue flight attendant. Fed up with facing abusive airline passengers everyday and working long hours in the confines of a flying metal sardine can, he finally did what pretty much every person would dream about doing in his situation. When a passenger bonked him on the head with a suitcase and told him to, "F*ck off," Steven stormed to the intercom, told the passengers to all f*ck themselves, grabbed a couple of beers from the galley, grabbed his personal belongings, opened the emergency door, activated that super-fun-looking inflatable slide, and slid down onto the tarmac. Then he ran to his car, drove home, and engaged in victorious sex with his lover.


How Did He Fit In That Tiny Plane??

Then there's this HPOA:


What's a HPOA?

No, she was not a member of the Hispanic Police Officers Association. She was an assistant at some sort of financial firm. She overheard her boss referring to her as a "HPOA." Apparently scrolling down the list of Google results further than I did, she discovered it meant "Hot Piece Of Ass." That, apparently, was enough for her to send 33 photos to various people in the company, which depict her getting progressively hotter and holding a whiteboard that slowly reveals her boss was a Farmville addict, abusing the company's internet in the interest of expanding his acreage. This was apparently cathartic for her. And has made her a minor internet star. Where she can show off her assets to potential future employers. Like Playboy magazine.

Finally, there's Matt Green, a Brooklyn engineer who decided to take a walk during lunch one day. That walk took him to Rockaway Beach, where he took a dip in the ocean. Then he turned and walked in the other direction. He's been walking for 138 days across the country for "no particular reason."


Nope, Not Him...


...Him

He seems to be having the time of his life:
He is armed with a push cart filled with supplies like rain pants, beef jerky, bear repellant and a plunger, which was given to him by a hardware store owner in New Jersey to ward off stray dogs.

A sign hanging from the front of his cart reads, "We may never meet again."

The 30-year-old Bay Ridge resident quit his civil engineering job and set out with no grand plans of raising money or awareness for a cause. In fact, he made no plans at all to stop at popular attractions.

"I've just been blindly following the route and seeing whatever I see," he said. "It's been more about the journey itself."
Ah, the seductive temptress of the open road: the beauty, the freedom, the plunger-adverse rabid dogs!

Hearing these stories kinda makes you want to quit your job, doesn't it?

Monday, August 09, 2010

...Eleven



Today is 8/9/10!

Ok, I just wanted to point that out.

Everyone get back to work.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Mosquerade

Some people are not too fond of mosques, it seems.

"Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn't it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate." --Sarah Palin

It's not about bigotry, say these bleeding hearts. It's about sensitivity. That's why they oppose a mosque two blocks away from the place they call "Ground Zero." "We are not bigots!" they insist. "We're sensitive!"

But what is sensitivity? Who are the sensitive, and why are they sensitive? Does their sensitivity have the morality of reason behind it? Or is it based on the fundamental lie that bigots use to rally the weak-minded to their cause?

Let's establish the facts. The mosque may be near the site of the World Trade Center, but it is not within eyeshot. Tourists visiting the site of the largest terrorist attack on American soil will not see Islamic flags or symbols through their camera viewfinders. People will also not hear any Muslim call to prayer-- a common sound around mosques worldwide: there will be no loudspeakers or minarets attached to this mosque. Much has been said about the center's "15 floors" and amenities, but the truth is, all will be contained withing a rather non-descript Manhattan building (so un-notable, it was rejected for landmark status). The fact is, if there were no news articles about the mosque's existence, no visitor to the 9/11 memorial would know the mosque was there.

The other fact is that those behind the mosque, and those who will pray in it, are undoubtedly not terrorists. Can we say this with 100% certainty? No. But we don't shut down Catholic churches because Eric Rudolph bombed abortion clinics. The truth is, there are millions of Muslims in America, and if every one was a terrorist, we would have certainly been all blown to hell by now. Terrorists are a minority which can exist within any religion or political persuasion. It was not so long ago that communists were all terrorists. And before that, it was Japanese people. And before that, it was the Irish. Americans have a way of branding a whole group for the actions of very few members.

So on what premises are the builders of this mosque supposed to be sensitive? Are they supposed to not build their mosque because people associate the Muslim religion with the terrorism that happened nearby? The people who make that association are unable to draw distinctions between the millions of peaceful Muslims and the hundreds of bad ones. What do we call people who can't draw a distinction between the good and bad members of a race, creed, or religion? What do we call people who believe that all members of a group fall in line with the worst, most vile stereotypes?

Do we call them sensitive?

I think not.

Palin calls for "Peaceful Muslims" to "refudiate." Her twitter statement should draw laughs, but not for the new word she created. We should instead chuckle at the contradiction. If Palin honestly believed any or most Muslims were peaceful, she would reject arguments against the mosque being built. In standing against it, she either supports the fundamental basis behind the "sensitivity," or believes that the center would be a tribute to terrorists. Who are the "Peaceful Muslims," Ms. Palin? Because if they're not the ones that currently live peacefully in and around the New York City community, then I don't know where else they could be.

Let the mosque be built. You'll never see it. You'll never hear it. The only ones who will are the Muslims: Muslims who are seeking a place for prayer, not a place for terror.

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Nice thoughts from NYMag on this issue, here.

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