Tuesday, December 30, 2008

happy holidays

mo money mo problems!

dear loyal reader(s?),

as we close out yet another banner year here at interweb detritus, we would like to wish you happy holidays or "whatever you choose to celebrate," as my neighbor said to me the other day.

2008 was a crazy fucking year. the economic bottom fell out from under us; america finally got rid of bush and managed to not replace him with someone even stupider; bernie madoff made marc dreier look like someone stealing a kid's lunch money; pavement reissued brighten the corners and i'm probably not going to buy it.

like c4ts, i was going to compile some awesome best/worst of 08 lists but if you haven't figured it out by now, i'm fairly lazy. here, some gift ideas for the procrastinators out there. i always aim to inform.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Year in Review

There are many ways I could celebrate and summarize this magnificent year gone-by, but you and I both know this kind of thing has to be done High-Fidelity style (see above), with a top-five list. Top five instances of someone mixing up "Obama" with "Osama" maybe? Top five viral videos featuring cats? Top five Blogger E lines, related or unrelated to her deep primal lust for David Brooks? Unfortunately, these things take time, and while I have that in deep oil reserves, they also take patience, of which I have none. So, in the end, you lose. Instead, I give you the top three songs our upstairs neighbor, a single woman in her late thirties, loved to blast weekday mid-mornings during my time on the dole. Happy new year.

3) The Indiana Jones theme song

2) Beyonce -- If I Were a Boy

1) Afroman -- Because I Got High

Monday, December 22, 2008


a couple of weeks ago this american life tried to tell 20 stories in 60 minutes. most were light, some affecting, but one left a strong impression. david rakoff recounted how he decided to quit his job at a japanese company developing a computer portal through which people can log on to virtually chat with each other and share information because he felt the technology would be a failure. of course, this was a preliminary version of the interwebs. then he went on to tell how he's completely missed the boat on other breakthroughs, like the time he went to see madonna in the 80s at danceteria and declared that she wasn't going anywhere. or how when he was an editor at a major publisher he passed on "men are from mars, women are from venus." i think he deemed this his negative ability to identify trends.

in turn, i started thinking about my own shortsightedness. it's more just laziness, really. after college (fall of 2001) i ran into a friend of mine in the east village. he mentioned that he and his band will be performing at a small cafe 3 blocks away from my apartment that weekend and that he could add my name to the list. i really meant it at the time when i told him that i would come by and watch. of course, saturday rolled around and i was feeling "tired." and besides, whose band actually gets anywhere? i never really heard from him again.

oh yeah, my friend's band? the scissor sisters. le sigh.

i'm not sure whether that's better or worse than my friend who decided to leave her internship at us magazine in advance of its proposed change from a monthly publication to a weekly, since "that's not gonna go anywhere."

or any of these.

Monday, December 15, 2008

i chu-chu-[steven] chuse you

yeah i know, it's a terrible joke. (for those of you who don't get it...how are we friends? kidding. here it is.)

i've been watching the cabinet appointment process with some interest. so far, he's vindicated eric shinseki and, in my mind, wen ho lee. we've distanced ourselves somewhat from automatically associating asian men in science with espionage (yeah, i know, bill richardson, who led the charge against lee, will be commerce secretary in the new administration. it's not a complete victory. let's just hope that he doesn't make all asians rebuild america's crumbling infrastructure). i also admit that steven chu sort of looks like a more handsome (?) version of your prototypical asian male nerd. one stereotype at a time, i suppose.

what's even better than having two asians safeguarding some of america's icons (military, energy/national security)? 3 asians? no, government officials from cities. yes, those un-real, un-american bastions of elitism. so far, eric holder, obama himself, timothy geithner, hillC, this dude arne duncan, shaun donovan, and rahmbo all hail from NYC and chicago. you can let me know if i've missed any.

my unshakable bias in favor of urban areas (loosely defined in my head as places with a certain level of population density, viable public transportation system, and a government with a at least some understanding of the need for public services and infrastructure) started when i moved from vancouver to atlanta and realized that sidewalks--sidewalks--were not a given. whether driven by race or some other misguided NIMBY-ism, atlantans generally eschewed investment in public property; certain counties refused to permit MARTA within their boundaries. i don't have any sophisticated thoughts on this. it's just mean to not give people who either cannot afford or do not want to drive a car an alternate mode of access.

with 2008 drawing to a close and possibly the best bush comedy skit behind us (this one? that one? too many to count), i really hope that this new administration, with their exposure to and faith in cities, will rebuild public infrastructure and give cities their due.

oh yes, for those who may think city folk are a bunch of snobs, people who live in single-family dwellings with fenced-in yards at the exclusion of all others shouldn't cast stones.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

President in Waining

Of the many remarkable aspects of Bush and his presidency perhaps most remarkable is the fact that his vices, the spirited protestations of his many detractors, and all the rest of it have become the white noise of our popular political culture. Yes, he's the worst; yes, he should have been impeached; yes, he's stupid and brazen. But at this point who has the energy to talk, let alone think, about the guy. So, it is with no regret that I offer my perfunctory closing remarks on the Bush Presidency:

Watching the video above, I can't help but think how is that a man with such good reflexes has such poor instincts?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

government cheese

while the US government is fixated on bailing out ho-hum industries like banking and maybe now the big 3, italy has its sights set on a much more "appetizing" idea: a rescue of parmigiano cheese makers! for real dudes, the government will buy up to 100,000 wheels to prop up demand. at a total expenditure of 50 million Euro, it's small potatoes compared to what kashkari & co are spending, but give me cheese over CDOs any day.

check out some "cheesy" photos in this slideshow.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

...and they pay her to write this?

i don't know who gail collins is and what she's about, but i know i've defended her to heidi before. i dunno, although her editorials are not very sophisticated they sometimes closely track my own thoughts, so to criticize her would be to criticize myself. or something.

but you know, maybe i'm not giving myself enough credit because even i didn't bother to think this thought:

Saxby Chambliss’s victory in Georgia means that Republicans will have at least 41 seats in the Senate, and if they stick together, the party has the capacity to stop a bill in its tracks.


oh well, still better than maureen dowd.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

best story of the week


Calling All Douche-staches

This is Tom Friedman's latest sad sack of racism and unreasonable generalizations.

Below is the (unedited -- Director's cut!) letter I submitted to the Times in response:

In his most recent op-ed piece, "Calling All Pakistanis," Thomas Friedman asks "ordinary" Pakistanis to gather in the streets to denounce the depraved lunatics who perpetrated the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai. On the surface, this is not an unreasonable request. After all, in the name of a shared faith several Pakistanis, it would seem, have murdered scores of innocents, and yet no outpouring of organized dissent has spilled forth onto the streets of Lahore and Karachi.

How can this be, Mr. Friedman wonders, given Pakistanis' easy devolution into violent street protest in the wake of the frivolous Danish cartoon affair. The only conclusion to be drawn from Mr. Friedman's words is that Pakistanis are irrational, petty, and disinterested in substantive affronts to their faith and to their nation. In reading his piece, I am reminded how empty our own streets have been in the wake of all that we know about Guantanamo; I am reminded how spirited the boycott of the Dixie Chicks was following their remarks about the President. I am reminded that we too are a people more inclined to protest words with which we disagree than violent acts committed in our name. Perhaps, there remains a question of degree, but in this regard are the Pakistanis very different from us?

And this is my letter were it a Lolcat:

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

May I Talk the Facts of Life to You?

Some people say they'd like to grow old gracefully. This video is proof-positive there's nothing wrong with the other course.

Monday, December 1, 2008

November Drizzle

Right before the Thanksgiving holiday, I went into a temp agency in the hopes of securing some contract work, but emerged burdened anew. Mo money, mo problems? Afraid not. There I met with a cheery young woman with a large Chinese character tattooed on the top of her foot and who was under the impression that business dress remains business even when it leaves nothing to the imagination. No doubt her recently completed college career was full of serious study, but she was now tasked with something even more challenging: sorting out my life. I have seen these last several weeks as an extended lesson in humility, but I was shocked in that moment by how much there was still for me to learn. With troubled and liberally mascaraed eyes she reviewed my application, announcing, It says here you're interested in work as an attorney or associate or lawyer...Um, would you consider other categories, like, legal assistant? You don't have any certifications, do you?

Now I am not above being a legal assistant. I am not above doing good and honest work, but the truly humbling aspect of her proposal was this: Say, I swallow my pride, take on a temp job as a legal assistant; what happens when it comes out that I don't know how to do an electronic filing or type fast or bluebook properly? What happens when I get fired? I don't know, but that would have to be a bridge to be crossed later. Yes, I said. Yes, I would consider being a legal assistant. And no, no I have no paralegal certifications. I thanked her for her efforts on my behalf, prayed my application would not get lost amid all the Jaeger bombs she had planned for the weekend, and marched out into the cold November rain.

As I unlocked my bike, I tried to think out of the proverbial and hateful box: Take that kinda-sorta job offer in DC and have a long-distance marriage? Try to substitute teach? Lightning didn't strike. The clouds did not part. The sun did not peak out from over the hills. No, none of these things happened. But then my phone buzzed. It was a former colleague, offering me contract work on the case I was once the junior associate on. A reprieve, not a solution, but something.