Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Yes, please!

Librarians Want to Out-Google Google With a Better Search Engine

Have you ever wished for a personal reference librarian, an information guru to point you to the most reliable sites whenever you search the Web? A new search-engine project aims to simulate something like that. The trick? Weighting search results so that librarians’ picks rise to the top.

Called Reference Extract, the project is being developed by the Online Computer Library Center and the information schools of Syracuse University and the University of Washington. OCLC is an international cooperative that shares resources among more than 69,000 libraries in 112 countries and territories. A $100,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is covering planning costs.

According to the project proposal, the search engine “will be built for maximum credibility by relying on the expertise and credibility judgments of librarians from around the globe.”

One of the founders is Michael B. Eisenberg, dean emeritus and professor at Washington’s information school, who has called for people to submit ideas on the project’s Web site. “Google is everywhere, easy to use, and somewhat effective in offering useful results. But, I can’t always trust the results,” he wrote. “Is there a way to improve on that?” The idea is to cull and promote recommendations from tens of thousands of librarians around the world. No word on the technical architecture that would power the search engine.

(The vision reminds me of The Librarian, the uncannily human-like software in Neal Stephenson’s famous science-fiction novel Snow Crash.)

Entrepreneurs have been trying for years to beat Google at its game. Could the combined expertise of tens of thousands of librarians conquer the juggernaut? —Lisa Guernsey

Monday, November 10, 2008

You don't say?

Apparently, the luxury lifestyle industry is taking a bit of a hit during this recession.

Seeing as I'm planning on making vats of hummus and serving Trader Joe's wine at my wedding, there isn't a lot of overlap between our worlds (other than a lovely equestrienne/40s movie star/Cinderella-style wedding gown, of course). Pity, maybe they could have helped me with my wedding-related questions. Can I afford cable for the last season of BSG and still save for our dj? Will anyone know that I bought my "meet-and-greet" shoes at Goodwill?

I'm going to start a frugal bride website. It's going to have links to the real world in it and nothing about weddings. HATE. Read a damned newspaper.

Report: Conde Nast to Fold Elegant Bride

ebcngg.pngThe Friday afternoon magazine folding trend continues. Jossip is reporting that Conde Nast is folding Elegant Bride. Perhaps not a total surprise since it is one of three bridal magazines in Conde's stable. But still. More details to follow as we get them.

P.S. There is already a Unfortunately, it looks like it's from 1987 and was built my mom (I mean the collective internet-unsteady mom). "Feel free to use your computer and print out clear address labels if you don't have good handwriting or can't afford a calligrapher." Ouch.

Friday, October 31, 2008


Fine, I can't do the backwards hand touch to the ground move, nor can I do the backwards running man.

Only the sexy chairdancing people

I'm sitting in my office and listening to "In a Big Country" on and it was making me feel all teary because it's very earnest and hopeful. I wanted to hear it again, so I watched the video. Bad idea.
Suffice it to say, I think there was a scavenger hunt.
And the scavenger hunt map was titled, "Big Country."
Videos totally suck.
Except for the original Charlie. And Charlene.

But wait. Videos can be used for good. I just taught myself all of Pepa's moves (whatever moves are appropriate for chair dancing) in "Push It" and my office is not a bleak hellmouth for 4:33 minutes.

P.S. I'll tell you before my sister rats me out. I used to think this song was "Shut up, it's bullshit." So I used to run around the house yelling that. Until my 7-year-old sister corrected me. HATE. Still better than a 12-year-old singing the real words.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

'Republicans, also seem to 'have opted for an anti-mind strategy,' Mr. McCumber said, adding that some of them 'seem to be in denial of obvious facts, such as the theory of evolution. How can you support that as an academic?'"

This week in obvious news:
"Donors From Academe Favor Obama by a Wide Margin" (

Usually I'm a sucker for the underdog, but I don't feel a twinge of that when I think of Obama outstripping McCain in fundraising (8 to 1, what what! I actually tried to donate yesterday and you have to be a legal permanent resident or a citizen. I'm sure I could fudge it, but somehow I can see myself bringing down the entire Obama administration with my donation--I can see it now--"PENNYGATE: OBAMA'S MONEY FROM BROWN CANADIAN HONEY.") There's actually talk of whether he will be able to spend all that he has in his coffers in the next two weeks. That's a new one for me too. Usually the idea of politicians rolling around in big piles of money chaps my behind, but now I think I would feel fine about Obama making busts of himself out of cheese and adding them to our stimulus cheque care packages. Why not? Wisconsin is a swing state.

Speaking of the coming of the end-times, I'm looking forward to this.

Friday, September 26, 2008

God, the butterfly effect, and the mattress theory of banking

Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., literally bent down on one knee as he pleaded with Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, not to “blow it up” by withdrawing her party’s support for the package over what Ms. Pelosi derided as a Republican betrayal.

“I didn’t know you were Catholic,” Ms. Pelosi said, a wry reference to Mr. Paulson’s kneeling, according to someone who observed the exchange. She went on: “It’s not me blowing this up, it’s the Republicans.”

Mr. Paulson sighed. “I know. I know.” (NY Times, 9/26/08)

She's so tough. I think she's going to wash Bush's mouth out with soap and take away his TV privileges next. If we did what Bush really wanted (“If money isn’t loosened up, this sucker could go down,” President Bush declared Thursday) he would declare martial law and let Halliburton rebuild the economy. Even though NO ONE understands how this happened, it stinks like profiteering, greedy, deregulation happy Republicans and Chicago School-style of economic buccaneering.

I'm reading a book about McCarthyism and academia (No Ivory Tower, Ellen Schrecker) and what I'm learning is that catastrophes don't just happen. They build, and are propped up by a complicit system, and it's not always the black hat Republicans that are to blame. Truman's 1947 Executive Order 9835, a new loyalty-security program for federal employees, was supposed to protect the Democratic administration from the Republican party. That failed, but "it succeeded in establishing anti-Communism as the nation's official ideology, and several years before Senator Joseph McCarthy entered the scene." (Schrecker, p. 4) University faculty, trustees, and administrators acted on HUAC recommendations, and often before charges were laid against their employees and before they were brought before the commission. In this same way, I think that it is easy and right to blame lack of oversight, greedy (hopefully fucking criminally liable. GO ADAIRDEVIL!) Wall Street, and opportunistic politicians and lobbyists that paved the way for this financial free-for-all. In fact, I love doing that. But there had to be an infrastructure that was sympathetic, that benefited, and that supported this chicanery. This isn't ONLY because of 8 years of Bush, and 12 years of Republican control in the Senate and Congress.* Too bad my knowledge of market trends and fluctuations is limited to knowing that my only investments in the world are not protected by the FDIC. (Goodbye, sweet 401K. I knew investing in my future was a mistake.) Zack Exley, in an interview with finance writer Max Wolff at HuffPo summarized the market crisis in this way:

"So let me make sure I understand this. Big investors made trillions in bad loans over the past couple decades. Everyone just realized it and now markets are flipping into turmoil. Treasury Secretary Paulson and other financial big wigs decided that without intervention, we'd get into a 1929 free fall. And so they stepped in and said, "Everyone can stop panicking, because we'll insure all your bad loans." Is that right?"

I think it's the "flipping into turmoil" part that we don't understand. When the movements of the market are explained by Chaos theory, I think I'm not alone in my confusion. (For real, economists that study chaos theory are called chaologists. There's a word for WordTwist. Bastards. Why aren't "noir" and "het" WordTwist words, but arcane alternate spellings of Arabic words are? Whatever, "jehad".)

*Actually, since I'm blaming my first white hairs, Sarah's catne, and the continuing popularity of the combination of leggings and skirts** on Republicans, maybe this is their fault too.

** As a child of the 80s, I would like to stipulate that I adore the combination of leggings and baggy sweaters with boots. Bring that back and send ugly tshirt material dresses back to the void.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ch-Ch-Check it out....

Fingers crossed for dark matter!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

2 bum sniffs and an almost kiss

I have very little to report in the continuing series, Cat Wars. Yesterday and today, Sarah attempted to familiarize herself with Tonio's bum in a hesitant, sniffy way. He's very proper, so he reacted with some hissing, spitting, and running away. Sarah, pictured here, is not proper at all, and ran after him. Then she ate some food (his), threw up, and cuddled me for comfort. She's just so excited to hang out with anyone/anycat, so even though she knows it might be hissy/scary outside of her room, she and her white-fur bikini are game. Their super-tame war is making the moving proces less horrendous and more hilarious.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Cat Wars

I was doing research online about introducing cats to each other and surprisingly, I found conflicting advice. Internet, can you give me unified discourse on any topic, ever?

So far, Tonio is hanging out in the front room and Sarah is hanging out in the bedroom and the office (and the neighbour's apartment in one botched escape attempt). Sarah's bed looks like the one in this picture, so I'm hoping this will be a picture of their love.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Two more sleeps...

...and it's cohabitation central. It's going to be great, I think, but different from what I'm imagining living together will be like. I'm thinking of my parents, circa age 60 and their lunchtime salads and always having dinner together, watching Jeopardy together, etc. Not so much with us. Between jobs and school, we'll be like roommates. And that's good, because I know how to live with roommates. Poor guy, he doens't know that I'm going to make a chore wheel and put labels on all of my food in the fridge and hold meetings about cleaning and noise levels. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A final kick in the pants

Goodbye, bastard stepchild of the MTA. Local trains don't actually have to go slower than express trains, conductors. Just more stops.

So, I'm finally moving away from the C and F train combo of doom, right? I'm counting down the days (3 more sleeps!) and thinking I'm going to get away without waking the sleeping beast of diarrhea-sick passengers and track fires...but no. This morning, I was on the train for a record 1.5 hours. But the most soul-killing part of it was the almost 15 minutes that we spent between Hoyt-Schermerhorn and Jay Street, in an un-airconditioned train car filled with at least 1000 passengers (don't argue with me). I'm a pretty sturdy girl, but even I felt a bit faint. As if I didn't get that the C train was giving me the finger, the woman standing beside me was fanning herself with a folded up newspaper and rhythmically hitting me in the face as she did it. I heard the sound of my will breaking (a damp splat, actually) and I didn't say a word.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pain in my neck

Kali is coming for you.

To the a-hole who hit our car this morning near Jay St. and Flatbush, thanks. You left a piece of your car in the intersection in your hurry to speed away from the scene of your crime. I hope it was a crucial, expensive piece. I'm not wishing for your injury but who can argue with karma?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Why I LOVE YouTube (seven years too late)

Because of "Throw Your Arms Around Me", by Hunters & Collectors. Yeah, I know, no one has ever heard of it. But I remember it from my youth, and I remember it used to make me cry because it was so 'romantic'. Unfortunately I think I might have been about 15 when I heard it for the first time, and at that time my only outlet for romance and melty feelings was Wuthering Heights and imagining my life as Ms. (what what, feminist at 15) Bono (oops. Maybe a traditionalist too. Down with the man!). I don't think I even kissed my pillow at that age.

At any rate, I would hear it on the radio occasionally, and managed to tape it (you all remembering doing it) from CFNY, Toronto's alternative rock station (before it became the lamest station in the universe). Eventually, I wore out the tape. I could have bought the CD, but I thought that with the advent of digital music, I would be able to find it online. Eddie Vedder did a version. As did Neil Finn. But no Hunters & Collectors. So today, when Pickle sent me the video for "Common People" and I was chairdancing because we're both really poor and common, it occurred to me to try YouTube. Ladies and gentleman (Flushy is the only man who reads this blog) here it is:

I know it looks like Stephen Colbert singing to Charlene (just google it, you won't regret it. Damn Viacom). But remember, I was really young. Shh. I'm imagining myself running through a dusky heath somewhere in a wedding dress. Probably being chased by the lead singer of Hunters & Collectors (how come this song sounds violent to me now? Tears). But no one said love was easy.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

My kind of fast food

I had huge craving for chicken curry one day and only half an hour to here it is. It won't look like this, but it's going to be GOOD, and you'll have time to watch half a Battlestar Galactica episode, shave your legs, and play fifteen games of Scrabulous (bastards!).

Speedy Chicken Curry

2 chicken thighs, boneless and skinless, and *organic, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 small onion, unevenly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed or minced
2 tsps of canola oil
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Saute onion over medium high heat for a few minutes, add garlic, give it about 30 seconds, add meat bits and stir! let cook until pieces are no longer pink, then add all spices, stir for a few minutes, lower heat a bit, cover and cook for about 10 minutes. It's done! I stirred in day-old millet into this (so I wouldn't lose any delicious gravy) and ate it like I was being chased by ravenous wolves. Enjoy.

*This was going to be a posting about how I found chicken feather quills in my boneless organic chicken thighs, but instead, I'm going to recommend that you read
this. Then you'll be able to spin a lovely story about how the chicken got to live a long happy life eating grain, poking around in cow poop (there are lovely worms in there), and sprouting tough, well-fed, adventuring feathers that followed him to his death. Otherwise, you'll probably imagine that undocumented worker #4549, whose job it was to pluck out the chicken feather quills, fell into the deboning machine, and then lou dobbs and the Minute Men danced on his bloody, illegal corpse.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


Or face irrelevance.

The black sheep will be queen!

I was crossing Park Ave. today on 22nd street and I saw me at age 14. She was tall (the only difference) and wearing awkwardly tight (and unflattering) jeans that cut into her babyfat waist with a too-short but not skanky t-shirt (the kind you're always yanking down because you just realized it shrank that morning and nothing else was clean or you unwisely thought it would be fine and it would only ride up when you were standing, and who stands nowadays?) with a mouth full of braces and long, lank, flatly curly hair with frizzy bangs. I don't think I ever looked like that, but I felt like that every day. I felt a visceral pang of recognition and I wanted to swoop over her like a clucking mother hen and protect her from mockery and the waves of low self-esteem. But instead of being gangling and friendless, she was walking with a bunch of other kids who looked like her and looked like they
liked her. Brand new world, what?

It's too bad the American Apparel dude didn't try harder to tap into this awkward-is-hot because normal-is-hot ethos. I suppose the the urge to put a tiny girl into a boring lollipop/kneesock/bubblegum bareass pose must be impossible to resist, so they've done one smart ad and the rest is all boring, softcore dreck.

It's taken me until my 30s to feel comfortable enough to wear whatever I wanted and to really not give a shit what anyone thought (most of my life has been blustering bravado, fashion-wise), so I felt proud when I saw that inelegant girl on the street. Even if she was cutting herself and daydreaming of some blond highschool jock in her bedroom every night, she looked great and embraced her weirdness. Hoorah for the modern woman!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Day 3

Work is a dank, stinking place. But the 3rd floor bathroom smelled like disinfectant, fresh and clean. That must mean that you, shiny, are the purveyor of #3. Sick. We got a real crouchdown today, which is always fun. I was a cranky-ass BITCH in response. Also always fun. I also went to Trader Joe's and bought two bottles of wine. I'm sending these bastards the bill for my liver transplant in 30 years.

So, I'm 'bucking' the system by finding 9 new timewasters to replace Scrabulous. Fascists, you better recognize. You cut off one head and 9 more will rise up to replace it as a glorious example of mixed metaphor and the indefatigable spirit of an exhausted but fucking bitter work population.

1. Play word games

2. Find a Bodum Chambord 12-Ounce Coffee Press.

3. Find for a perfect recipe for Fattoush

4. Debating the merits of vegetarianism, for the umpteenth time. Reserved this book at the library, because I'm all about libraries. And not giving those fools any of my money. But I am interested in reading anyone who calls soda "Liquid Satan."

5. Speaking of that.

6. Listen to some free music.

7. Write your novel. Except write it on Google docs or something like that, because having an intellectual property conflict with the company you're trying to escape by writing a novel involves too many levels of tears and irony.

8. Save the world. Free Rice!

9. Memorize this. I dare you.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Days without Shine

In case you are interested, this is how Black Monday went.

* There were two hours spent with the door closed.
* There was one unidentifiable lean cuisine smell.
* There was one unflushed 3rd floor bathroom poop.
* There were 17 longing looks cast at shiny's dark office door

Day Two, Much Blacker Tuesday, isn't looking much better.

* They took scrab from us
* They're trying to take blogger from us, but it's probably a violation of our first amendment rights. I mean, your first amendment.
* The coffeemaker is empty and burning

Maybe when you get back, there will be a card table and a legal pad where your office used to be. I'll be in an INS detention center, but I'm sure they'll have visiting hours. A-devil, read ahead in your immigration law textbook and come get me out of jail. I already have fifteen teardrops tattooed on my face.

Friday, February 29, 2008

You and Candy Mountain

I find that watching this once a day vastly improves one's chance of staying sane.

If you want to take this is an adorable, if dark, bit of video cheer, fine. I chose to believe that this must have been created by someone who has uncovered the essential truth underlying capitalist society. Sometimes workers work because of incentives. Sometimes, they work because they are tricked, lured by pink and purple lies, forced to travel down perilous paths and do things they never would have dreamed of doing while they were dozing in Candy Meadow, and finally, they are robbed of the one thing they have that is truly their own. Goodbye, kidney-shaped hope!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


I've been smoke-free for a year! Hoorah!
Honestly, after the horrendous shaking withdrawals, crying, learning how to drink without smoking, and general sadnesses of the first three months, the rest of this year has been pretty damned good and it hasn't been that hard not to smoke.

I don't know what this chick and I have in common other than we both wear bras that are too small. Ugh. Nonsmokers are so annoying.

Why can't people just be honest? It was fucking hard and smoking was great.
That being said, my breath is not filled with ashes now. And sometimes it tastes like mint and tea tree oil. (I'm still finding macerated bits of wood in various purses from my tea tree oil-flavoured toothpick phase.) My room smells good, I can walk up flights and flights of stairs, and the weird darkness on both of my baby toenails is gone. I didn't gain weight, and I don't fear chest-rattling bronchitis every time I get a cold. If you were funny when you smoked, you'll still be funny when you quit, you'll just have two hands to use for physical humour and gesticulation instead of one and a wry cigarette. Oh, and your hangovers are just hangovers; no heavy chest to go with sore head and quease.
The best thing? You can still understand Maxine's humour as a nonsmoker.