Friday, April 18, 2014

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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Monday, April 14, 2014

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Confessions of a Facebook Addict

It used to be that, to me, Facebook was just an abstract social phenomenon. Like leg-warmers. Somethding you read about in Sunday Styles(the bling-bling section of the New York Times) but would never do yourself. That changed about two weeks ago, and my life changed with it. If not my life, then my productivity level.

Facebook snuck up on me. I made a profile so I could check out some other people's and then I forgot about it. A couple days later I found a "friend request" in my inbox, and it all went downhill from there. I figured this was an up or down proposition: if I was going to have any "friends," I may as well have a bunch. Over the next couple days, I had "friended" at least fifty of my closest friends. Facebook was starting to take over my life. If I was online for any reason, I had to check my profile at least every five minutes. Sometimes I would just sit there, staring at it, and reloading the page to see if I had any new friends or "wall posts," the Facebook equivalent of comments.

Another thing that struck me about Facebook was the level of narcissisim. Because I didn't have a picture of myself on my computer, I used a Gap icon(you know, tall white letters on a dark blue background) as my profile picture. One of my friends asked me about it, and I jokingly told her that I wasn't self-important enough to plaster pictures of myself all over my Facebook. But I found some truth in that. Facebook is the ideal place for--what's the word for a person who wants other people to look at them? Oh yeah, I forgot, Paris Hilton. With Facebook, people can broadcast pictures of themselves, their political views, and favorite books, movies, and music, to the world. In other words, it would be an ideal way of keeping in touch with your grandmother. Except I don't think your Facebook friends, unlike your grandmother, want to see pictures of you on the toliet.

Another way Facebook users can brodcast themselves to the world is their "status." The "status" line starts out "[Your name here] is" and can then be filled in with trite phrases provided by Facebook("working," "in class," "sleeping," et cetera), or something of your own design. Right now, mine says "Amy is letting the good times roll." Thinking of what to put in your status is another way that Facebook eats up time that could be spent on more productive things. Like talking to people in real life.

Facebook is indeed part of a larger social phenomenon. Like YouTube, Facebook is a way that people can share their lives with the world. Except in Facebook's case, it's inane trivia instead of high-quality, educational videos of cats getting baths. Like MySpace and Friendster, Facebook is a social networking site. A social scientist would probably say that sites like these are symptoms of people's need to feel validated and important. But I'm not telling you how many times I checked my Facebook while writing this.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Shi'ite? Isn't that a swear word?

In this New York Times editorial, some guy named Jeff Stein asks, "Do you know the difference between a Shi'ite and a Sunni?" You may notice that the date on the article is October 17. If I were the sort of person who knew the difference between a Shi'ite and a Sunni, I probably would have read it already.

In his article, Stein says that he asked one FBI official and one congressman what the difference was and did not get a right answer from either of them. While I agree that the people who serve us in government could do well to know more about what the hell they are doing, I think he is asking the wrong question. He should ask Islamic fundamentalists if they know the difference between a Catholic and a Protestant?

I say this because, in his introduction, Stein writes, "After all, wouldn’t British counterterrorism officials responsible for Northern Ireland know the difference between Catholics and Protestants?" For all his smug self-satisfaction, that isn't a very good analogy. Of course Brits would know the difference between a Catholic and a Protestant. Northern Ireland is, after all, part of their country. On the other hand, the closest place to the US with a Muslim majority is halfway around the globe. You couldn't expect an Islamic person to know the difference between a Catholic and a Protestant anymore than you could expect an American to know the difference between a Shi'ite and a Sunni.

But, while we're on the subject, I think I have the Catholic-Protestant thing down pat. Like many religions(including Islam and Judaism), Christianity broke into two parts. Around 1492, when Columbus was busy nailing the Commandments to the door, a group of people decided they wanted to break off from the Catholic church because they were tired of eating fish on Friday. These people became known as the Protestants, because nailing commandments to a door was what passed for protest in the late 15th century. Fortunately, these people would never live to see the 1960s. See? This Sunni-Shi'ite thing is pretty confusing.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Jeez Louise!

According to the stupid little red check marks on the CBS 2 site, it looks like (almost) a Democratic sweep. In the only semi-contentious race, Gian-what's his name is leading Radogno 57 to 38. EDIT: Alexi now has a little red check mark by his name as well.

Also, in the 10th district, Kirk is still ahead, but now with just 52% to 47% for Seals.

The Treasurer's race is also getting tighter, 53 to 42 for Alexi.

In the 6th district, Peter Roskam has pulled ahead, with 52%. Don't expect this race to be settled until tomorrow morning.

EDIT: According to CBS, Bean has won.

And, with about 1/2 of the precincts reporting, Stroger has pulled ahead of Peraica, 54 to 45.

And the House is Democratic now. :(

Happy Election Day!

Happy Election Day, everybody.
So far...
According to the New York Times site, Blago is leading Topinka 53 to 37, with 10% for Whitney. But, the Cook County precincts are probably reporting first, so this might be skewed. EDIT: In Cook County, the race is actually closer, about 51 to 39.

10th district congressman Mark Kirk is leading Dan Seals 56 to 43. Most people predict that Kirk is going to win, but this race could be close.

In Cook County, Tammy Duckworth is leading Peter Roskam 54 to 45.

Peraica is leading Stroger 63 to 38. But, I think this is only in the parts of Cook County outside Chicago. No surprises there.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

America: Almost as Funny as Kazakhstan

Who's America's next cultural icon? Here's a hint: he's from Kazakhstan and pretends to be a journalist. That's right, he's Borat Sagdiyev, the title character in Sacha Baron Cohen's latest movie, which opened this weekend. This week, Borat dropped his water panties(err..swimming trunks) for a fashion spread in the NYT magazine.

The thing that makes Borat funny is that, while he makes fun of his home country, Kazakhstan, the movie makes fun of America and its hypocrisy. Borat goes to a dinner party at the home of a wealthy southern family. They are very nice to him, and and tolerant of his disgusting bathroom habits. But, when his guest, a black hooker, arrives, the hostess announces that, "It's time for this dinner part to end." When he asks if his friend can stay for dessert, the lady of the house replies, "Absolutely not," and her husband calls the cops. While the southern family congratulates themselves for showing hospitality to Borat, they won't sit down to eat with someone of a different race.

Other scenes show Borat back home in Kazakhstan, riding in a car pulled by a mule, and participating in a festival called "The Running of the Jew." The movie shows him introducing his sister as "The number four prostitute in Kazakhstan. Nice," and visiting with his "retarded" brother, who is kept in a cage. While your first reaction is to laugh at how backwards Kazakhstan is, the joke is really on us. After all, when Borat asks the owner of an American gun store what type of gun was best to kill a Jew, the man replies "A Glock or a .45," without a trace of irony in his voice. Kazakhstan might be lagging in technology, but Americans are just as bigoted, if not more so. And, as Joel Stein noted in this review, "For the trick to work, we have to believe that other countries are so inferior, it's plausible that their citizens would wash their faces in the toilet," as Borat does in one scene. So not only do Americans have unresolved prejudice towards blacks and Jews, but they are either so steeped in cultural relativism or so arrogant that they will believe anything about another country. Except that part about the car pulled by the donkey.