Saturday, April 02, 2011

iPad and iPad 2

I'm an avid reader of Autostraddle articles. (what lesbian isn't?) So when I was scrolling through back articles on a boring day at work (yes, I read Autostraddle at work...well not all of the sections clearly, but entertainment and technology and health news are all safe for work topics) I saw an article about the iPad and it's younger (supposedly more useful and attractive) sister, the iPad 2.

As Taylor said in her article "As for the name, well, we all remember the the internet’s collective cringe and…let’s just not talk about it."
All I can say about it is that my father said it sounded like a high tech menstrual aid before I did and, if you know my dad, you know that's pretty hilarious in and of itself.

I'm not a fan of Apple really, it's been a long running and (mostly) friendly debate between myself and The Conservative New Ager about whether Windows or Mac is a better Operating System. We have agreed to disagree. I do not own a macbook, I have an HP Compaq laptop that I dote on far too much. I don't own an iPhone, I have an Android smartphone that is my precious precious baby. I do own an iPod and I will concede that, compared to other MP3 player brands I've owned (Zune, Creative Labs, etc), the iPod is superior. That's the only Apple product I prefer over a cheaper knock-off. (I think we can all agree that Apple did the iPod first and best).

I've flirted with buying one of the Android tablets for a while, but it's not financially feasible at the moment. I was planning to buy a Kindle or Nook, because I figured I would basically use a tablet PC for reading e-books anyway, but then I realized I could carry it to work more easily and have video be able to work on my novel much easier as well.  Android tablets are more user friendly (yes, I have used iPads that belonged to friends) and much less expensive. Proving that sticking an Apple logo on anything will drive it's price up to, easily, twice what it's worth.

The iPad just serves no purpose whatsoever to most of society and, despite her claims that she does love her iPad and she tries to use it often, the authoress of the Autostraddle article basically said the same. Here is a section of her article that proves my point.

When the honeymoon period came crashing down around me, I started forgetting about my iPad for days at a time. In my apartment, I’d misplace it and walk around calling out to it, half expecting it to chirp back with some decidedly Appley distress call. When I found it, under the side of the bed or buried under a stack of unopened mail, it was usually too late: I’d forgot what I wanted to do with it and then I just couldn’t come up with anything.

Since those days, our relationship has undergone something of a renaissance. After making a conscious effort to shoehorn it into my routine, things seem to be sticking. In fact, I’m typing on it right now, since a Bluetooth keyboard works wonders for making it an actually functional hunk of aluminum.

Day to day , I tend to use it like a radio, literally. With the NPR app, I often live stream my favorite local channel in Kentucky. It’s soothing in a way; I know the local announcers and what times things are syndicated. The implication of course is that my $500 piece of equipment replaced a gadget that would cost me 5 bucks, if that.

But it doesn’t matter. I still don’t know what I use my iPad for exactly, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want the iPad 2.*

 And there in lies the problem. TCNA and I can sit at Starbuck's and joke and laugh as much as we like about how Google is attempting to take over the internet/world, but the truth is that Apple could sell any piece of crap to most people, for a ridiculous price, and the people would buy it happily as long as this bright shiny logo appeared someone on it's casing. 
*Emphasis added

Friday, April 01, 2011

The Conservative New Ager: April Fool’s Day Post: A Modest Proposal

The Conservative New Ager: April Fool’s Day Post: A Modest Proposal

Read this for your April's Fools enjoyment. You will find it much more amusing, of course, if you have ever read Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal which I really truly hope you did not make it out of high school without reading. If you did then you clearly had one of the teacher's that The Conservative New Ager dislikes immensely.

Though I also hope that you did not have English right before lunch as I did when I read that particular bit of literature...or at the very least you did not have a teacher who was friend's with the kitchen staff and convinced them that calling lunch that day "Mystery Meat Surprise" was a good idea. My English teacher Junior year was evil, did I mention that?

And if you didn't read Swift's Proposal yet, for pity's sake read it first. It's shorter than some of my blog posts and probably more amusing. Then read TCNA's version. It makes it all the better, really it does.

And my good mood is gone, just like that.

I finish a light-hearted romp through the history of April Fool's Day and then check my Facebook, only to see this update:

Human Rights Campaign
 A link telling me that "the Colorado House Judiciary committee voted 6 to 5 against SB172, the Civil Unions Bill." This broke my heart, because I just can't understand why. I never did anything to these people, but they can't stand who I am. I have never met them, but they would prefer I die alone than be allowed to get married. They know nothing about me, but they feel they have the right to dictate who I can love.

This isn't the first, or even the biggest, upset on our road to equal rights, but it hurt so much more because it's so close to home, literally. I've vacationed in Colorado, it's a beautiful place that I would dearly love to spend more time in. The mountains around Durango and Silverton, the Skyway, the forests and lakes are things I could imagine waking up to every morning if I could ever become less of a city girl, but this tarnishes that. I think of Colorado and I can't think of the beauty there, or the fact that a close friend lives there, all I can think about is this ruling.

I used to dream of living in a place like that one day.
Politically and rationally speaking I know that their are more important things to be taken care of right now. Our country is in a mess, a big one, but emotionally...that's another story. I feel like someone tied a boulder to my heart and then let it fall off a cliff. It just hurts and that stops everything from looking as beautiful as it once did.

April Fool's Day

This is my least favorite holiday. You want to know why? It's because it entices people all around me to be assholes and then follow it up with "April Fools! Got you!" like that makes their douche-baggery more acceptable somehow.

My family also has a habit of playing very annoying practical jokes on me. I'm hoping that since I'm no longer living at home that will be more difficult to pull off. Last year they pinned a sheet over my bedroom door and filled the space between the door and the sheet with a wall of packing peanuts so that I got a face full of Styrofoam when I opened the door...yeah, funny now, not so funny when I was running late for History class.

Part of my hatred for this holiday is probably caused by my inability to come up with good pranks. If I could actually prank my family or friends really well I bet I would love April Fool's, but my creativity with writing does not stretch to practical jokes as well and so the hate continues.

I do have to admit that I love the jokes that big companies play on their insignificant minions. Google is always pulling something strange. Suck as last year's joke which involved them changing their company name from Google to Topeka.
Despite claims by friends that they have done something to their logo for April Fool's this year, well, I haven't spotted it. The Google main page looks the same as ever. Though they have pulled yet another winning Gmail joke, with the addition of "Google Motion" a way to access your email using body language and your built in webcam...using ridiculous body motions.

But...I have to pull a Kanye here. Google you have a great April Fool's day joke every year and I'mma let you finish, but...THE BBC HAD THE BEST APRIL FOOL'S JOKE EVER!*

In 1957 the BBC ran a broadcast about how the Spaghetti farms in Italy had a bumper crop that year, complete with video of men and women "harvesting" the spaghetti off of trees. The joke was carried out so well that some BBC viewers believed it and were calling in, asking where they could get their own spaghetti tree or how they could grow one. I'm paraphrasing, but I believe one of the responses from a news anchor was something like "Put a piece of spaghetti in a jar of tomato sauce and hope for the best."

For those of you that think the British have no sense of humor...clearly you haven't been paying attention.

*Link with the article and a the video that was used in the broadcast.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

I Love Being Lumped Together With the Religious Right

No, really! The best part of my day is reading "Republicans are lunatics" in the comments section of one of Pharyngula's blog posts. It's a lovely way to start my day. It is wonderful to know that, in the minds of liberals, there is absolutely no difference between the insane religious right and actual Republicans. They may be under the same flag, for now, but they are nowhere close to being the same thing.

Every time some moronic, overly religious, sanctimonious asshole starts spouting off about abortion or gay marriage and those views get foisted off on me because I dared to use the term Republican to describe my political views once at a party where I forgot to switch "Independent" in for "Republican" I sort of start to twitch and maybe consider taking up a violent kickboxing or kicking puppies*.

These people are not Republicans! They are the super religious versions of Stalin and Mao. Instead of a little red book, they have a big black book of rules that they want to impose on everyone and that they want the government to enforce! That is not advocating for small government, that is a nanny state that any far left Democrat would be proud of...if it weren't for the pesky religious bits.

When did the GOP go so wrong? Why did we allow these idiots, who are so completely opposite to what our party is supposed to stand for, into our party? Were we high? Did someone have us under mind control? Were we just having a particularly bad day and decided "hey, why don't we screw our entire party over for a few decades, that sounds like fun?" Because that is really the only way this makes any sense at all.

*I do not advocate kicking puppies as an anger management tool, I was kidding. PETA please do not kick down my door in the middle of the night and take me out to the middle of the desert to shoot me.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My Fair Lady and Learning to Stay With Someone Who Tolerates You Instead of Looking for Love

Because that's all that the story of Professor Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle teaches us.

There are spoilers for this musical here, but really? If you haven't seen the movie by now, what is wrong with you?

Oh, sure, it teaches us that society looks down on those with poor education and that with enough training and money any poor "guttersnipe" can fit into high society and it does all of this with wonderful music and a cast of actors (both on Broadway and in movies) that are always always lovely, Julie Andrews and Audrey Hepburn being among the women to play Eliza Doolittle. I admit that I'm slightly biased when it comes to my favorite, because no matter how lovely and talented a women Audrey Hepburn was, Julie Andrews will always hold a special place in my heart. (How could it be otherwise when I grew up on a steady diet of Andrews' movies, Sound of Music and Mary Poppins being the most watched).

But the real lesson taught here, despite the pretty songs and pretty actresses, is one that tells us that money and influence and security are more important than love and that, whether you love someone or not, you can become accustomed to them and even find them a bit nice to have around. As Professor Higgins says about Eliza:
But I'm so used to hear her say
"Good morning" ev'ry day.
Her joys, her woes,
Her highs, her lows,
Are second nature to me now;
Like breathing out and breathing in.
I'm very grateful she's a woman
And so easy to forget;
Rather like a habit
One can always break-
And yet,
I've grown accustomed to the trace
Of something in the air;
Accustomed to her face.

And I suppose this could be taken as slightly romantic if it weren't for the fact that he quite clearly told Eliza, not but a scene earlier, that he did not love her and would never love her. In fact, despite that fact that Eliza returns to him at the end (instead of marrying Freddy, who is quite clearly in love with her) he never tells her that he loves her, nor does he apologize for the absolutely deplorable way he treated her for most of the story. This ends up making Eliza look like a push over for a man that will never really appreciate her. She comes back and instead of demanding an apology, just settles right back into the same situation she hated so much before.

And for what? Sure, perhaps she loves him. I Could Have Danced All Night (one of my favorite songs) seems to imply that quite strongly, but he does not love her. However he is wealthy and has a fairly secure life, which Freddy does not have. While I understand that this was an issue for many ladies of class at the time, I don't see why it would have mattered to Eliza so much. She was the kind of character that seemed much more inclined to marry for love and even if she had not chosen Freddy, well...let's just say that I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face is not the best love song. If a man (or woman) sang something like that to me, I would walk out on them, not matter how much I loved them, because they clearly didn't feel the same way about me.

That's really my only problem with this musical, though I'm sure there are several other plot holes I could drive a truck through. This is the only plot point that leaves me spitting made every time I watch the film starring Hepburn. Even though I know it won't change things, I find myself shouting "Don't do it, Eliza! Don't go back to him! Find someone better, anyone is better than that asshole!" Let's just say that Henry Higgins is not my favorite male and while some might claim that he becomes less of a misogynist by the end of the film...I just don't see it, sorry. He sees women as a bother and a nuisance still, except now they are one that he's gotten used to having around.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Maybe I Won't Have to Check Labels at the Supermarket Religiously Now

Not that it really matters. I have stopped shopping at the supermarket for anything other than flour, sugar, milk, eggs, detergent and toilet paper. I'm shopping at the local Farmer's Market more and more lately, which will keep me away from 24 packs of soda and bags of chips...yay for healthy eating. I could buy eggs there, but I refuse to spend $5 a dozen on them, that's just ridiculous.

Now on to the actual point of this article. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has been studying the affects of artificial colorings in food and has finally asked the FDA to begin looking into the possibility of banning several artificial dyes such as FD&C Blue 1 and 2; FD&C Green 3, Orange B, FD&C Red 3, FD&C Red 40, FD&C Yellow 5 and 6. The reasoning behind this ban is that they have conducted studies that have shown that the artificial colors are causing hyperactivity and behavior problems in children. Considering the number of snack items (and practically everything else edible) that contain artificial coloring, this is clearly a problem.
The FDA has promised to convene their Food Advisory Committee on March 30-31, 2011 to discuss whether “available relevant data demonstrate a link between children's consumption of synthetic color additives in food and adverse effects on behavior.”

According to the ABC News article Food Dyes May ExacerbateHyperactivity in Sensitive Children, “The man-made dyes haven't been proven to cause hyperactivity in most children, nor has research found the dyes to contain "any inherent neurotoxic properties," according to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration staff memo filed after the Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the agency to revoke approvals for eight certified colorings."

As far as hyperactivity goes I cannot judge, but I'm calling bullshit on the no "inherent neurotoxic properties" line. Food coloring with no neurotoxic properties don't generally cause a person who ingests too much of it ("too much" being a snack sized back of hot cheetos, liberally coated in Red Dye #40) to curl up in the fetal position with a horrible migraine and end up puking up all the food they ate that day and that's what it does to me. I have to check labels religiously, which makes finding snacks at a gas station during a road trip a long and arduous task. I also have an allergy to Red Dye #6, which is liberally used in cosmetics and lip balm. If I use a lip balm with that coloring and lick my lips even a few times I end up in excruciating pain.

I'm not the only one either. Red Dye #40 is a fairly common allergen for people, so much so that it has been banned in several countries, including Sweden, Norway and Japan. It can present in many other ways than the one I described. From what I've read the responses can be hives, inability to breathe, rash, stuffy noses, hyperactivity and tearing of the eyes. And good luck avoiding the cause of these reactions, Red Dye #40 is in EVERYTHING, even things that have no need for it. White cake mix, chocolate cupcakes from bakeries, Oreo Cakesters, donuts and cookies and crackers and juice and many many other places where the color red isn't necessary at all. It's almost like the manufacturers figure it's so cheap they can dump it in anywhere they want.

Most ridiculously of all is that red, pink, yellow and orange (the colors most commonly made from this dye type) are easily reproduced naturally using beet and carrot juice. Candy from Sweden, Norway and Japan all use it instead and the flavor and consistency are not changed. However it is slightly more expensive for manufacturers and so they screw us over anyway and I'm sick of it.

The FDA needs to do something about this.

But, considering the FDA's underwhelming response to other poisonous dyes, such as this one.
"In 1990, the FDA banned Red No. 3 in cosmetics, medicines and some other products because it was linked to cancer in mice but permitted its continued use in foods."*
I'm not really prepared to believe I'll have to stop reading labels for artificial dyes until I'm too old for it to really matter anymore.

*emphasis added

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Lesson for Women Everywhere

Straight or gay (or anything in between), all women know that sex appeal can get a guy to do what they want....unless it's a gay guy, in which case you threaten them with boobs instead of seduce them. Same product, different sales tactic.

Sex appeal works for many women, but we have certain guys we just are not going to use it on. I'm not going to flirt to get a homeless guy to move and give me a seat on the train, I'd rather stand. However, when my obnoxious and hot (I'm a lesbian, not dead) new neighbor (turns out it was neighborS, plural) started playing his electric guitar far to loudly AGAIN on a work night I finally decided to go over and tell him to turn it down or I was going to resort to drastic measures...involving his amp and a sledge hammer.

I wasn't intentionally dressed in short shorts and a tank top, I had been wearing them while I cleaned before dinner and hadn't changed, but I figured a little sex appeal wouldn't hurt. So I opened my door, stomped over next door and knocked loudly. Moments later the door is opened, but not by the "dude in 306" as I've taken to calling him, but by his father or uncle or some other male relative who is past middle age, balding and wearing nothing but socks and his underwear.

I had been under the misconception that the hot dude who moved in was playing the guitar...not his creepy father type person.

So here I am. Short shorts, tank top and no bra and the entire time I'm explaining that the amp is turned up way to loud and it's blasting the sound into my apartment...the father type person is staring at my boobs. Finally he says "Yeah, sure, I'll turn it down" and I say thanks and scurry back into my place feeling really kind of in need of a shower.

So the lesson here ladies. Be really sure who you are going to be giving that sales pitch too before you knock on the door...'cause if it isn't who you are expecting then things can get downright creepifyin'.