Sunday, December 17, 2006

Man of the Year

Two weeks ago, Time Magazine called and told me that I was to be named Man of the Year. I thanked them, but suggested that they don't just concentrate on me, but give the award to All Bloggers out there in cyberspace. It's a good move. First of all, it's more fair. Secondly, if all the honorees go to the newsstand and pick up a copy, they will make a fortune.

In a similar vein, I just got a MySpace account a week or so ago, on the theory that I should try out all of the major things on the web. As soon as I joined, I got a note saying that I already had a friend. Wow! However, the excitement dropped just a bit when I found out that my friend was Tom, who works for MySpace, and is pretty much your automatic first friend. After 5 days, I still had no other friends. I was the most unpopular man on MySpace. I went shopping for discussion groups on MySpace, and I must say that they have a discussion for everything - I signed up in groups representing about 20 of my niche interests. Unfortunately, when I went to the groups and tried to participate in the discussions, I got a blank screen when I hit the reply button. This weas not the way to attract Cyberfriends.

Finally, yesterday, I got a note that Olga wanted to be my friend. I was so pleased that I instantly accepted her offer, and then went back to take a look at the sort of person who would want to be my friend. I was surprised to hear that Olga was a 22 year old in the midwest, looking for some serious adult fun and, just possibly, a permanent relationship. Oh. I guess she looked at my age and decided that it doesn't get more adult than me. I'm still waiting for friends to arrive, but in the meantime I can take comfort from the words of Steven Wright - "Hermits have no peer pressure."

Friday, November 24, 2006

Black Friday

i'm going to prove that I have psychic abilities. Tonight the big story on all of the news reports will be that people rushed to the malls in greater numbers than ever and spent all-time record amounts. Then, in about 10 days, we will start to hear reports that the Thanksgiving buying spree wasn't really all that great. Either I'm truly psychic or this same cycle plays out the same way every single year.

Not purely a curmudgeon, I did watch the parade in high definition yesterday and it looked glorious. True, the NBC broadcast had more than its share of plugs for new shows, so my family talked me into switching to CBS. It was in Low definition. They were plugging their shows without even showing the parade. This all lasted 30 seconds for me. To prove that I'm now in the holiday spirit, I opened my new 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle. Usually I finish this around Christmas or new years, but this one looks really hard.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

All politics is local

I've had a problem with what to do with this blog. I can't go on being a thorn in Karl Rove's side because America has finally awoken. And, honestly, I can't take any credit for the victory because this blog was hardly looked at. So now I will turn my focus to New York where I live and Connecticut where I work. Will I find enough stupidity to justify the title? I think so. I'll start off with my favorite example. A major subway stop in the 4-5-6 line on Lexington Avenue has an escalator that must be 100 feet underground. When riding up one day I heard the announcement "This escalator is for subway passengers only." Sounds fine, but given the fact that you must be a subway passenger to be there (or a nocturnal animal), I wondered what situation made this announcment necessary.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Kinder and Gentler

I'm hanging up my sarcastic shoes for now. The election is over. My side won. Now it is time to get back to doing the business of America. Looking back, I may have been a little harsh on the Republicans, but they did scare me with their obvious hankering for absolute power. I hope it is true that George W. Bush has seen the handwriting on the wall and will work to make this a better and happier country for the next two years. I hope he will find a way to bring most of the troops home and make Iraq's government do the work of their country. If all of that happens, I'll go back to complaining about other forms of stupidity.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Take me out to the ball game

My son recently signed up for the Mets lottery to purchase playoff tickets. We were surprised when they wrote back on Wednesday and said he'd won. All he'd need to do was log in on Thursday at noon and buy the tickets. Thursday noon came. For 15 minutes, all we got was a message saying that the servers are busy. Finally, we got a message that said, tough luck - we've just sold all the tickets. Thanks, Mets, it was exciting for a day. Thanks for wasting our time.

Monday, August 14, 2006

What's wrong with this story?

Last week it was reported that the U.S. military had arrested four men in the case of kidnapped Christian Science Monitor reporter Jill Carroll. Charges are pending.

Sounds straightforward enough - bad guys did harm to one of our people, and we nabbed them. However.....according to our President, there is a viable, democratically elected government in Iraq. That being the case, and considering that this was a crime carried out in Iraq by Iraqi citizens, why weren't these four arrested by members of Iraq's crack security forces? After that, they could be put in an Iraqi-run prison and tried in the Iraqi judicial system. This system is now advanced enough that they are trying their own former dictator.

Could it possibly be that we don't trust the government that we say is so effective? That would be a case of talking out of both sides of our mouth.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Our side/Their side

Our side


1. Be just: justice comes from virtue which comes from the heart.

2. Treat people the way we want to be treated.

3. Always work for peaceful resolutions, even to the point of returning violence with compassion.
4. Consider valuable the things that have no material value.

5. Do not judge others.

6. Do not bear grudges.

7. Be modest and unpretentious.

"Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." Jesus

And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men.... But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly" Jesus (Matthew 6:5-6)

Their side

"Maybe we need a very small nuke thrown off on Foggy Bottom to shake things up" –Pat Robertson

"The idea that religion and politics don't mix was invented by the Devil to keep Christians from running their own country." Jerry Falwell

"We know who the homicidal maniacs are. They are the ones cheering and dancing right now. We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity." Ann Coulter

"And if we are the ones not actively involved in electing those godly men and women and if people aren’t involved in helping godly men in getting elected than we’re going to have a nation of secular laws. That’s not what our founding fathers intended and that’s certainly isn’t what God intended." Katherine Harris

Friday, June 16, 2006

A tale of two towns

Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly has often mentioned his boyhood years growing up in the middle class Long Island town of Levittown. The problem is that O'Reilly's mother, in an interview with the Washington Post said that Bill grew up in Westbury. The key piece of evidence for that is that she still lives in that same house, which is in Westbury.

There are variant stories to be found on Wikipedia and the Fox News Web site, as well as from O'Reilly himself who claims that the Post misquoted his mother. The four versions of reality boil down to this:

1. O'Reilly, as reported in the Post article grew up in Westbury, but in housing that was built by the Levitt company.

2. The house was in Levittown when they bought it, but the boundaries changed in 1963, and the location changed to Westbury. This is found in Wikipedia.

3. It was Levittown, and that's that. This comes from O'Reilly who bolsters this claim with a mortgage document from the purchase of the house that he published online.

4. The Fox News Official Biography of O'Reilly, which used to boast that he grew up in the "Westbury section of Levittown."

To start getting the facts, we simply visited the East Meadow Public Library on Long Island and asked to see the 1958 Nassau County phone book. What we found can be seen here:

which shows the elder O'Reilly was, in 1958, a resident of Westbury.

The information provided above contradicts the "deed" which O'Reilly published that supposedly proves that he lived in Levittown all along. This can be seen at: If you examine this document closely, you might notice some peculiarities. The address is (blank) Lane, followed by a comma. Then you drop down three lines into a new paragraph. At the beginning of this, there is a long blank space, another comma, and the name Levittown, New York. This is followed by language that says "hereby to be referred to as the mortgager." A street address is the mortgager? It appears that the long blank at the beginning of that line may be the lending institution that happened to be located in Levittown. The actual town location should have immediately followed "Lane." Furthermore, the information with O'Reilly's parents' names and the end of the street address was done with a typewriter using courier font, and in need of a ribbon. The "Levittown" is in Times New Roman and is noticeably darker - looking like a pre-printed form. In reading through the right wing blogosphere, one can see this document treated as Holy Writ - an absolute slam-dunk that O'Reilly grew up in Levittown.

One creative O'Reilly apologist on Wikipedia, writing under the category of "O'Reilly controversies" made the claim that O'Reilly grew up in Levittown, then in 1963 they changed the town borders to bring the towns in line with the new Zip Code system. As a result of that, O'Reilly's street was sucked into Westbury, where it remains to this day. Again, if this were true, the 1958 phone book would have listed his address as being in Levittown, which it did not. The Wikipedia author cites as evidence of this 1963 land grab one online map that shows Levittown in large letters and no reference to Westbury at all

This dramatic change in the population of Westbury would have been major news in a town whose boundaries were first set in the 1700's. However, author John Dwyer, writing in the Village of Westbury's web page at{25bd8f5e-47ee-4fef-928b-f47883bffc8e} writes:

"In the mid 1950's, Westbury virtually ran out of undeveloped land and with it came the end of the building boom. In 1940, Westbury listed its population at 4,525. By 1960, Westbury's population had grown to 14,757, according to the census data for that year." Nothing here about that major change of boundaries a few years later.

No doubt Dwyer would have been amused by the official Fox News biography of O'Reilly which claimed he grew up in the "Westbury section of Levittown." A 400 year old town had suddenly been relegated to being a section of a town that was created in the 1940's. Fox News has since changed this to say that O'Reilly grew up in Long Island.

Referring to the United States Census of 1970, Volume 1, Part A, Section 2, page 34-37, Levittown, rather than losing population between 1960 and 1970 gained about 150 souls, going from a population of 65,276 in 1960 to 65,440 in 1970. Westbury's population picked up about 500 during that same period, but not, apparently, at the expense of Levittown.

This has been a fascinating journey into the world of "truthiness." If you read everything about this subject written by people with a political agenda, it becomes very complicated. However, as a librarian it is my job to consult objective sources and find out the facts. The truth is what it is. Barring stunning new revelations, Bill O'Reilly grew up in a house in Westbury.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Two canaries

Run, do not walk, but Run to your cineplex and catch An Inconvenient Truth. This movie is so compelling that the Far Righters are absolutely terrified about its effect. Massive amounts of the Karl Rove truth enhancement fund have been moved into place to make commercials like "Carbon Dioxide is our Friend." I'd always heard about global warming and thought "I'm nearly 60. I won't have to deal with this. My son and grandkids will." Ummm, guess again. Gore was absolutely 100% magnificent here, drawing an analogy between the icecaps and the canaries that miners kept around to warn of bad air. It's as entertaining as a film can be that tells me that my house in Long Island will soon be a Sea Bass observation center. See it.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Last piece of the world's information that wasn't in Google

I'm going to take a breather from commenting about the current state of public affairs and go back to my base constituency - computer nerds. For the past 6 years now, I've been getting together with a couple of friends from the university on Tuesday nights at a local watering hole where they have free chicken wings and 2 dollar draft beers. Twice a year, at the end of the semester, we get together for a blowout dinner.

A few weeks ago, I went up to Cheshire to get a sandwich at Subway, and noted that the Irish bar and grill that had been next door had been replaced by a new seafood restaurant named Yellowfin's. People coming out looked happy and well fed, so I offered this as a possible dinner spot for the occasion. They agreed, but as the day approached, I was asked to confirm that Yellowfin's is open Mondays and see if we needed a reservation. No problem - I'd just google it and get in touch.

Well, no such luck. Typing Yellowfins Cheshire Connecticut always got me lots of hits, but never the thing I needed. Then I found out the street address of the previous occupant and always got a slew of hits for them but not the new restaurant. I had to face the dreaded conclusion - here's a restaurant that is not in Google. We showed up last night anyway, and had an absolutely delightful evening. We had a pair of appetizers, shared the dishes around and found everything to be first rate. Our waitress said that they've been there for just over two months. They're at 1027 S. Main Street. Yesterday that information was missing from Google. In a day or so, it won't be.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Thought for today

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity and I'm not sure about the former."

Albert Einstein

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Coalition of the forgotten

It appears to me that as our liberation of Iraq continues, you hear less and less about the coalition. I verified this by searching Lexis. In 2003, there were more than 1000 references to the term "Coalition Forces and Iraq" in major newspapers. In 2004 there were 729. In 2005 there were 242. So far this year, 49. Here is what this coalition looks like using information from the Brookings Institute showing troop strength by country in the thousands:

From everything I've read, most of the countries in the "Other" column are looking for ways to gracefully disappear over a sand dune.

Monday, March 13, 2006

To the spammers who fill my mailbox

You people are really underachievers. I haven't got anything in months that had the slightest chance at ripping me off. Here are some tips, and if it helps you make more money, you can send me a check, but don't ask for my bank details. Just send the check.

Get a surname. The only person with one name who has the least chance of reaching me is Madonna, and I'm not even sure about that.

Buy a dictionary. If you don't know the difference between there and their, chances are you are not a multinational bank, even if you do add the right logo.

Get a life. Instead of mining the greed of Americans, go out and get a job and do something with your life. If you are really in Nigeria and have millions of dollars, spend some of that to help children in your country.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


Three pieces that I found on CNN:

Sunni party quits Iraq government talks after mosque bombing

More than 100 dead in revenge attacks; 7 U.S. soldiers killed

Thursday, February 23, 2006; Posted: 2:26 p.m. EST (19:26 GMT)

At least 118 killed in Iraq attacks

Five U.S. soldiers among dead

Thursday, January 5, 2006; Posted: 9:36 a.m. EST (14:36 GMT)
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- In the deadliest day since the December 15 elections, at least 118 people were killed in Iraq and scores were wounded in separate insurgent-bomb attacks, authorities said Thursday.
Among the dead were five U.S. soldiers with Task Force Baghdad, according to a U.S. military news release.

Cheney: Iraq will be 'enormous success story'

Friday, June 24, 2005; Posted: 12:28 a.m. EDT (04:28 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Vice President Dick Cheney on Thursday defended his recent comment that the Iraqi insurgency was in its "last throes," insisting that progress being made in setting up a new Iraqi government and establishing democracy there will indeed end the violence -- eventually.

That's all.