Saturday, August 31, 2013

How to do a flashmob right

The first flashmob video I ever saw was the one for the Copenhagen Philharmonic in the Copenhagen train station doing Bolero. This is one of the best flashmob videos ever and gave me an unrealistically high bar against which to compare other flashmob videos. Because most other flashmob videos on Youtube are such crap.

I developed some rules for doing flashmobs and flashmob videos right.
  • Pick music that's at least three minutes long - don't do a string of different pieces in one performance.
  • Pick music that is dramatic, fun and/or well-known. With a driving beat.
  • Do the flashmob in a public location. Your school cafeteria is not a public location.
  • It has to be a surprise, not part of a line-up of shows. That's not a flash mob, that's just a performance.
  • The best flashmobs use live music. If the Copenhagen Philharmonic can schlep floor harps and music stands to the location, it's not too much trouble.
  • The flashmob participants should ideally be already part of the crowd, as in this Philadelphia Opera Company's Hallelujah Chorus flashmob at Macy's.
  • Or they should come out of the crowd as in this Bikini flashmob.
  • Most flashmobs build up from one or two people to a mob - don't let the one or two people hang there by themselves for too long - get the party going quickly.
  • Use decent video and sound equipment. And use at least two cameras. If it's worth doing a flashmob it's worth recording properly.
  • NO titles, logos, etc. Just jump right into the flashmob. You can always put titles at the end if you must.
  • When you edit the video, make sure you set the stage prior to the flashmob - show the public space before the flashmob begins. Otherwise you can't tell it's a flashmob and it just looks like a standard public performance.
  • Show distance shots to get the bystanders reactions as well as close-up shots of the performance.
  • The best flashmobs don't just have participants who are students at performing arts schools - they include a range of genders, ethnicities and ages, as in this Bollywood flashmob at the University of Oregon - probably the second best one I've seen, after the Copenhagen Philharmonic - which includes not only college students but teachers too. Ideally people wearing the uniform of their profession are included - the best part of this Food Court Musical is when the security guard joins in, and the I Love Lunch! musical when the cop joins in.

I don't think Buffy the Vampire Slayer gets credit for this, but the musical episode "Once More With Feeling" was the precursor of flashmobs.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Damn my former president's... um...

I couldn't help but LOL at this while reading it at work. I missed this story in Gawker from back in March.
A watermelon, viewed from above, casts a greenish shadow on a white table. Two small figures on a putting green are spied from behind a distant tree. A horse with cow-like markings stands in field. Dogs, of course: a Shih Tzu and a Boxer sitting against an electric blue void. A Sheepdog next to a ball. A Corgi and a Lab at awkward, physically impossible angles, splayed out against the ground. And some kind of hound mix, maybe, grey and monstrous, sitting outside the White House, separated from the seat of power by iron bars, staring ambivalently out of frame. 
This is the art of the 43rd president. 
Gawker has obtained more photographs of George W. Bush's paintings, originally taken from the former president and his family's email accounts by a hacker using the name "Guccifer," and this may be the most interesting batch yet. A mix of landscapes, still lifes, and animal portraits (a subject he returns to time and again) these paintings show a burgeoning, sensitive artist stretching his painterly muscle—toying with perspective, experimenting with color, and giving his work symbolic and thematic heft. 
Here is the best of the bunch, and maybe his masterpiece: an odd, even monstrous-looking dog, sitting yards away from the president's former home, but kept away from it by thick iron bars. Unlike most of Bush's dogs, this one looks away from the viewer. What is it thinking? What is it doing? Are the bars the White House fence—or something more sinister?

Bush doesn't sign his name on his paintings, but rather his presidential sequence number: 43.

That truly is a bizarre image for a former president of the United States to paint. I daresay there's nothing even remotely like this artifact in the history of the US presidency.

Another batch of Bush paintings has shown up just recently.

Some wise-ass Gawker commenter also cracked me up:
Oh, shit! Look what happens when you put this under a UV light!  

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Damn my president's good

Another wonderful speech from Obama.

It seems like there's always a moment in any Obama speech, especially on race, where you have to just say: "wow - this is new - I've never heard a politician say something this truthful and this eloquent before", and yet, Obama slides these beautiful moments in there so subtly you almost miss them in spite of their sublimity.

In this particular speech it was this moment at 7:50 in this clip:
And because they kept marching, America changed. Because they marched, the civil rights law was passed. Because they marched, the voting rights law was signed. Because they marched, doors of opportunity and education swung open so their daughters and sons could finally imagine a life for themselves beyond washing somebody else's laundry or shining somebody else's shoes. Because they marched, city councils changed and state legislatures changed and Congress changed and, yes, eventually the White House changed. 
The crowd didn't miss it  - they give him a big cheer at that point in the speech.

It really sums up this moment. It's doubtful that anybody in Washington listening to King's speech would have allowed themselves to hope that King's dream would lead to this, in 50 years: the first African American president of the US, commemorating the 1963 March on Washington.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

JANE supports professional hater Mikki Kendall's campaign of hate.

So JANE continues to hire professional full-time hater Mikki Kendall.

I had a good hearty laugh to see Mikki Kendall presenting herself as some kind of voice of reason, offering three steps for how you can be a better, Kendall-approved feminist.

What Kendall doesn't mention is that if you displease her, she will use the power of her Tumblr account - under the name @karnythia to smear you as a "racist" in your Google results.

Not only is she a Tumblr bully, she also has no ethics whatsoever, claiming in her infamous "Abortion saved my life" article for Salon that a doctor wanted her dead for seeking a life-saving abortion. She actually says in the piece:
My two kids at home almost lost their mother because someone decided that my life was worth less than that of a fetus that was going to die anyway. 
She provides no evidence whatsoever for the scurrilous suggestion that a doctor was responsible for - at best - criminal negligence and at worst attempted second-degree murder out of anti-abortion fervor.

It's hard to believe that Jane is so hard up for writers who haven't had careers of Tumblr bullying and yellow journalism that they have to pay this self-aggrandizing jerk to espouse her bullshit pious platitudes.

The New Lucinda

I finally read this damn book. I started it when I was eleven and finished it a couple of weeks ago.

It's only 220 very small pages (the book is about 5" x 4"), so it shouldn't have taken decades, but I stopped reading when I was eleven, because I was too embarrassed and then lost track of the book. But thanks to the power of Amazon I ordered up a copy, just like that, so I could finally find out what the hell happens at the end.

I was so embarrassed because my maternal grandmother made a fuss about it. I liked to read in my bed before going to sleep when I was eleven because my bed was the only place in the house I had to myself, so staying in it allowed me get away from the chaos of my five younger siblings. When I was done reading for the night I put the book under my pillow so I would have it handy for the next night, and it wouldn't get lost in the chaos.

My grandmother, who happened to be visiting us overnight, must have thought that I put the book under my pillow because it was naughty, and she told my mother about it, and my mother confronted me and made me feel like a criminal, so I put the book away.

I know my grandmother didn't read The New Lucinda by Grace Gelvin Kisinger because if she had bothered she would have realized that it was so innocent and wholesome that the worst thing that happens is that the bad kids in school smoke cigarettes (which of course everybody did in those days) and race their cars.

The New Lucinda is about Cindy, a high school student who is tired of her drab appearance and being called "bean-pole" because she is tall and thin. She reads an article in a women's magazine which has advice on becoming more glamorous, like changing your wardrobe color scheme from browns to blues. Cindy doesn't think she can pull off such a radical change in her appearance in her home town, but suddenly her father tells her and her mother (she's an only child - probably the reason I liked this book) he got a promotion and they would be moving a few towns away, so Cindy decides to go for her new look in her new high school.

But uh-oh, Cindy takes the magazine's advice too far, and not only does she change her color scheme - which apparently turns her into a knock-out - she also decides to seem aloof and cool.

But the evil bitch of the school, Rose, spreads a rumor that Cindy almost eloped with a college boy before she moved to her new school. Almost eloped, not got pregnant  outside of wedlock (like certain maternal relatives of mine.)

And so the entire student body of Cindy's new school, except for Peter, the cute but geeky editor of the school newspaper, gives her the cold shoulder; and except the school hot guy Mack Gordon, who figures since she's such a slut he can neck with her in his car. Which Cindy, naturally refuses to do.

The book was published in 1958 - the year after Atlas Shrugged, as it happens.

And now I finally know what happens: Cindy confronts Rose and makes her retract the story - turns out that a girl with a very similar name to Cindy's was the one who almost eloped.

Then everybody likes Cindy again. And so...
"Well since we're letting our hair down," Cindy began. She told them about her dissatisfaction with herself in Exeter (her old high school -ed.) and about the magazine article which had inspired her decision to make herself over into a new person. "But I guess I overdid it," she finished. "It was all right to try to improve my appearance but I shouldn't have pretended to be something that I'm not!" She paused, coloring. "To give you an idea of what I'm really like, I'll tell you what they called me in Exeter, if you'll promise not to tell anybody else."
"Cross my heart." Martha said, solemnly.
"Almost everyone there called me 'Beanpole'!" Cindy confessed.
"Beanpole!" Martha repeated, and there was a chorus of giggles.
"I think it's sort of cute," said Jan.
Cindy glanced at her suspiciously. "Promise you won't tell anyone!"
"I won't breathe it to a soul!"
"I'll make a bargain with you Cindy," said Susan. "I'll promise not to reveal your deep dark secret if you promise to help us with our knitting. You told me that you knew how, remember?"
"Yes, I remember." Cindy's eyes met Susan's and she knew that the memory was as painful to Susan as it was to her. (because Susan blew her off when the whole school was snubbing Cindy -ed.) She smiled quickly. "And I'll be glad to help."
"While we're on the subject of Exeter," she continued, "there's something I forgot to tell you. I do have a very good friend there named Sally Baird. I've been thinking that I'd like to invite her down for a visit soon and perhaps have a party for her - to introduce her to some of the Woodmont kids. I know you'd like her." She paused, struck by a sudden inspiration. "Why don't I call her tonight and invite her down for the weekend? We could have the party Saturday night."
"Sounds like a wonderful idea to me," said Martha.
"Me too," Jan agreed.
"I'd love to come!" Susan cried enthusiastically. "We could invite all the would-be knitters and maybe you could give us our first lesson. Or do you think it would be nicer if we had boys?"
Cindy glanced shyly around the table. "It might be more fun if we invited boys, too. In fact, there's one boy I very much want to invite."
Susan groaned. "Mack Gordon I suppose. Oh well, if it will make you happy, I'll try to get along with him for one evening."
"Who said anything about Mack Gordon?" Cindy retorted, grinning. "I'm talking about Peter Holmes!"


At last - closure!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


I had been wondering whatever happened to Nathan Fillion. Anybody who is a fan of Joss Whedon knows who he is - he was the right-hand man of the Big Bad in Season Seven of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and more prominently he was the lead in the one-season plus a movie series Firefly.

I had heard that Whedon was doing a version of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING but I didn't have my hopes up enough to track it down because I was not happy with the Branagh version in the 1990s, and then I heard how Whedon had cast it and I was not happy at all. Fillion would have been perfect as Benedick - maybe the best ever - he's an absolute natural for the role. Instead he cast Alexis Denisof in the role. Denisof played Wesley Wyndam-Pryce on Buffy and Angel, and he never did it for me - not when he was bad-ass tragic vampire hunter and certainly not when he was a regular Percy Foppington when he was first introduced on Buffy.

Whedon cast Fillion as Dogberry.

I knew Fillion would have been perfect for the role and this was confirmed for me when I recently discovered what he has been doing these past five years - playing the lead in Castle, which is still ongoing.

Castle is no Buffy or Firefly, but it's a pretty good show. It's a comedy-drama-mystery show with a sexual tension subplot between Fillion's character, a wealthy best-selling mystery novelist, and a woman cop. And occasionally they make a nod towards Fillion's prior series as TV Tropes discusses - in the second season episode about a Halloween party Fillion's character is going as a "space cowboy" with an outfit that was right out of his Malcolm Reynolds' wardrobe - see below.

The show is no Weeds - I don't feel compelled to watch it, one episode after the other - I'm happy to see one episode per night. It's pretty funny at times though - I think they let Fillion ad-lib a bit.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Ye Olde Suburb of Nottingham

More stuff about Bensalem PA.

I found a brief sound-less video from the 1950s on the Bensalem Township web site history page from which I made the screen cap on the left. The image on the sign is amusing: a coachman on the left, and then along the bottom what looks like Cinderella's carriage drawn by two horses.

It's amusing given that Philadelphia's newest suburb was made up of one-story ranch-style houses (or Ranch Homes as it says on the sign) for around $10,000, which is pretty much the opposite of regal splendour. After this image in the video you can see the houses, which now look shockingly small and shabby to me. Although by the time I rolled into Nottingham the front yards were no longer just dirt and some landscaping had taken place.

I also discovered that although realtors nowadays refer to both my old neighborhood and the one just north as "Nottingham" in fact the development I lived in was called Stanwood.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The street road in Bensalem

Well that mystery is solved. I mentioned yesterday that I wasn't sure why there was a road in the middle of Bensalem Township (where I spent my childhood) called Street Road. I thought that possibly it was named after someone with the last name of Street.

But no - and the confusion arises from the fact that back in the day "street" was a type of road, rather than being synonymous with "road."

Per Wiki:
The word street has its origins in the Latin strata (meaning "paved road" - abbreviation from via strata); it is thus related to stratum and stratification... In the Middle Ages, a road was a way people travelled, with street applied specifically to paved ways.
This would explain why the History of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, from the discovery of the Delaware to the present time (1905) available at usually refers to it as "the Street road" as in:
In 1729 a road was petitioned for from the upper side of the township to  Dyer's mill, which now gave a continuous road to Philadelphia. In 1741 another was laid out from the Easton road above Danborough, via Sand's comer to Centreville, coming out on the Doylestown turnpike half a mile west of Centreville, and is now called the Street road. 
So apparently it was the street road because it was all fancy-schmancy paved. Apparently it didn't need a name because it was the major, if not the only, paved road in Bensalem and therefore a landmark.

I added this information to the Wiki article.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The place of the mice

There is so much information available now thanks to the Internet. Take for instance the suburban township that bordered Philadelphia where I lived until I was 12, Bensalem. (I wasn't born in Bensalem though, I was born in Philadelphia.)

Until very recently I had no idea that:
  • Bensalem township, which was founded in 1692, is almost as old as the state of Pennsylvania itself, which was founded in 1682.
  • The origins of Bensalem likely comes from references made by settler Joseph Growden, who named his estate as Manor of Bensalem' in honor of William Penn, the son of peace and the Semitic term for peace Salem. Originally named Salem, the word Ben was added in 1701.
  • The fall line, which separates the Atlantic Coastal Plain region from the Piedmont region, runs through Bensalem, and is visible around the Neshaminy Mall area. The Neshaminy Creek forms the natural eastern boundary and Poquessing Creek forms the natural western boundary of the township.
  • Benjamin Franklin would often travel to Bensalem to visit his friend, Joseph Galloway, at Growden Mansion. At the time, the Galloway family owned all of present day Bensalem Township. 
Knowing Ben Franklin, this does not surprise me - the dude got around. I didn't realize until the past year or so how important Ben Franklin was for Philadelphia. I mean, I knew he was important, there are images of Franklin all over the city, not to mention various societies named after him. Which is only fair, because from what I can tell he freaking made that town.

It turns out that the Growden Mansion, which I had never heard of when I lived in the area was adjacent to the neighborhood I grew up in, which was called, of all things Nottingham.

Unfortunately I still haven't been able to find out what the deal is with "Street Road" which ran through Nottingham and separated my development from Our Lady of Fatima school, and on days when I missed the bus it was a scary walk because for the longest time there was no traffic light at the intersection of Mechanicsville Road and Street Road in spite of Street Road recently having been changed (in 1970) from a two-lane road into a four-lane highway. They finally put a traffic light in after somebody was killed trying to cross Street Road.

I found a Wikipedia article about Street Road, aka Pennsylvania Route 132 - which was part of the original survey plans of William Penn himself(!) but the article provides no information on the origins of its name. Maybe it's some kind of Quaker thing.

I never knew much about Poquessing Creek until I found the Wikipedia article. Although it was at the end of the street I lived on, Mechanicsville Road, I don't think we knew what it was called - my siblings and my friends and I always called it just "the creek" since there wasn't any others. Although we pronounced it the "crick."

The Poquessing is the border between Bensalem Township and Philadelphia - since 1682. Mechanicsville Road ended at Dunks Ferry Road, right at the bridge over the creek. It was a single-lane old stone bridge when I lived there, but that was replaced by a modern bridge in 1990. There is still an old stone bridge over the Poquessing though, at Century Lane, less than a quarter mile north of Dunks Ferry Road. I remember riding my bicycle on Century Lane, thinking how adventurous I was to ride so far from home, and I was very much impressed by that bridge - it had a plaque stating it was built in 1853 which blew my mind - I couldn't imagine something being that old.

You can learn all about that bridge at

We used to walk or ride bikes to Philadelphia all the time over the Dunks Ferry Road bridge, especially in the summer to illegally use (since we were not Philadelphia residents) the swimming pool at the Parkwood playground, although my best friend Laura had an above-ground pool in her back yard in Bensalem that we could pretty much use any time we wanted to. We didn't just go to Parkwood though. On one occasion two of my brothers and I went door to door in the Parkwood neighborhood to sell candy bars for the Our Lady of Fatima candy sale. I just can't believe we did that, on our own, without adult supervision. Wow.

And then there was Byberry and Cemetery Hill, also near the Poquessing. Byberry was a hospital for the criminally insane - its official name was Philadelphia State Hospital at Byberry, but in our neighborhood it was just Byberry, as in "if you kids don't stop driving me crazy I'm going to end up in Byberry!"

But we kids never saw Byberry, we only heard about it. Much more tangible was Cemetery Hill. It was just above the Poquessing on the Philadelphia side and I remember sledding on that hill. Apparently it was part of a city-owned cemetery but the only grave I remember seeing was the one for  The Boy in the  Box. His grave was on the hill just above the Dunks Ferry Bridge. Walking past that grave was the most unnerving aspect of going to Parkwood and back.

I don't remember knowing much about the Boy in the Box in those days, but of course thanks to the Internet I know something now. In addition to the Wikipedia article there's an article about his burial site on Cemetery Hill. And apparently he was moved to Ivy Hill Cemetery in 1998. The Boy in the Box would have been around 60 now.

Like so many other place-names in the Delaware Valley region, Poquessing Creek got its name from the Lenape Indians, before they were overrun by Europeans. According to Wiki the name Poquessing comes from the Lenape "Poetquessnink," meaning "place of the mice."

Friday, August 23, 2013

Why I haven't seen a therapist yet...

Hi Nancy,  
I am accepting new patients... Right now I have availability on Wednesdays during the day. I don't participate in any insurance plans. The initial visit is $250 and the following visits are $200.  
Please let me know if you are interested in setting up and appointment.
Dr. N
So she can see me in the middle of a work day, at $200 a pop, no insurance coverage.

Looks like I'm going to go with this book instead.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Is Erik Satie the greatest musical genius of all time?

According to Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker:

Forty years ago, in a paper in American Scientist, Herbert Simon and William Chase drew one of the most famous conclusions in the study of expertise:
There are no instant experts in chess—certainly no instant masters or grandmasters. There appears not to be on record any case (including Bobby Fischer) where a person reached grandmaster level with less than about a decade's intense preoccupation with the game. We would estimate, very roughly, that a master has spent perhaps 10,000 to 50,000 hours staring at chess positions…
In the years that followed, an entire field within psychology grew up devoted to elaborating on Simon and Chase’s observation—and researchers, time and again, reached the same conclusion: it takes a lot of practice to be good at complex tasks. After Simon and Chase’s paper, for example, the psychologist John Hayes looked at seventy-six famous classical composers and found that, in almost every case, those composers did not create their greatest work until they had been composing for at least ten years. (The sole exceptions: Shostakovich and Paganini, who took nine years, and Erik Satie, who took eight.)
Not too bad for a guy whose music teacher told him he was crap.

A list of Satie's compositions.

Sheet music of Satie's work here.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Heart of Darkness

I wouldn't go out of my way to see the birthplace of Objectivism, not being a fan, to put it mildly, but since 36 E. 36 Street happened to be on my way to the bar on 7th Avenue where my friend Valerie was performing her improv show, I thought, why not?

I took a few pictures too, from outside the apartment building where Ayn Rand lived while writing the bulk of Atlas Shrugged, which her leading sycophant Nathaniel Branden then turned into a "philosophy" and a business - he also practiced a wacky form of "Objectivist" psychology.

Unfortunately my iPhone camera lens is still scratched up so the pix aren't the best. But still - proof I was there!

Objectivist welcome mat

Much smaller lobby than I would have guessed.

It's not even a doorman building. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Antique Desk of My Dreams

I've never been much of a furniture aficionado - I've never had enough money for one thing. But I've always been pretty OK with IKEA type furniture - inexpensive and self-assembly required.

But there is something about a vintage writing desk... IKEA desks are very minimalist and have hardly any drawers - the same goes for Staples desks and they are even less attractive. But check out this sweet Victorian oak writing desk. Look at all those drawers. Although I do most of my work on my laptop, and so technically don't need a desk, just a lap, there is still paperwork to deal with and since I haven't had a desk with drawers for the past several years, I have no real home for all my paper work and it tends to get scattered.

If I had a vintage desk like this baby, that problem would be solved.

And you don't get this kind of brasswork at IKEA. There is a whole web site devoted to antique desks, but I don't need an antique - vintage is OK - something from the 1950s or 60s, before all consumer goods became cheap and disposable. A nice solid wooden writers desk with a whole bunch of drawers. And there are some vintage desks for sale that are barely more expensive than what they sell at IKEA, so it's well worth it - and it's already assembled.

It turns out the Carroll Gardens section of Brooklyn not only has the excellent Black Mountain Winehouse, it also has a bunch of vintage furniture shops. I will definitely check those out soon.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Another reason I don't miss Fiserv

Stabbed in the back in Jersey City
In addition to my old company Fiserv being selected as one of the nine worst places to work in the US (and trust me, they didn't just win that title overnight, they worked at it for years) another reason I don't miss schlepping to Jersey City is because of the charming statue of a soldier getting bayonetted in the back, as seen in this photo.

The inscription on the statue's pedestal is Katyn 1940.

I doubt if one in a thousand people passing by has any idea what Katyn 1940 means, and very few of those who don't know have bothered to look it up. The photo editor who used this image for a booster article about Jersey City real estate either doesn't register the violence of the image, or maybe is getting in a subtle dig at Jersey City.

The Katyn Forest Massacre:
...was a mass execution of Polish nationals carried out by the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD), the Soviet secret police, in April and May 1940. The massacre was prompted by Lavrentiy Beria's proposal to execute all members of the Polish Officer Corps, dated 5 March 1940. This official document was approved and signed by the Soviet Politburo, including its leader, Joseph Stalin. The number of victims is estimated at about 22,000, with 21,768 being a lower limit. The victims were murdered in the Katyn Forest in Russia, the Kalinin and Kharkiv prisons and elsewhere. Of the total killed, about 8,000 were officers taken prisoner during the 1939 Soviet invasion of Poland, another 6,000 were police officers, with the rest being Polish intelligentsia arrested for allegedly being "intelligence agents, gendarmes, landowners, saboteurs, factory owners, lawyers, officials and priests".
Which is horrible, of course. But considering how many genocidal massacres have occurred since 1940, including, just off the top of my head, 6 million Jews in the Holocaust, a million Cambodians in the Killing Fields of the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s and up to a million people in the Rwandan Genocide of the 1990s I have to wonder what reason there is to plop this image of horrific violence right in the middle of a busy office plaza.

On the one hand you could argue that the statue might give you a sense of perspective, since the tribulations of an office job are nothing compared to the various world's atrocities, but still, it's not a happy thing to look at on your way to work - and eventually you stop noticing it entirely.

The article is about how New Yorkers have discovered Jersey City, real estate-wise because housing is so much cheaper in Jersey City. Maybe in some parts of Jersey City, but in the Paulus Hook section, the neighborhood closest to the plaza shown in the photo, what surprised me most when I briefly considered moving there to be closer to work was how expensive apartments were - not all that much less than apartments in New York. So not worth it.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Arguing with a dead guy

The suicide-blogger Martin Manley lists "reasons for what I've done."

His reason 4 (my emphasis):
4. Economic collapse is inevitable (see U.S Financial to the left). The United States’ annual debt and cumulative deficit is way beyond the “out of control” label usually associated with it. It’s spiraling into oblivion and it will take society with it. Today the deficit is $16.9 trillion dollars with another $125 trillion of unfunded liabilities such as social security, medicare, prescription drug and federal pensions. It’s hopeless.  
I felt pretty good about being prepared for economic collapse – the primary reason being all the gold and silver I owned. But, then one day I realized that all the gold and silver and guns and ammo and dried food and toilet paper in the world wouldn’t prevent me from seeing the calamity with my own eyes - either ignoring other's plight or succumbing to it. And, that’s something I decided I simply was not willing to live through. 
I do not advocate anyone take the same way out that I took – especially considering almost everyone has more identifiable reasons to extend their life than I did. But, if you plan to stick around, then you better plan to watch an economic collapse that will be worse than anything you can imagine.

I was hoping that the link he provided for "U.S. Financial" would be analysis of US debt/deficit but it just goes to a link about why state lotteries are such a rip-off.

His other link is to the U.S. National Debt Clock.

I have to say, I'm surprised by his errors here. Based on reading his blog, I gather he cared about accuracy and was very much a numbers guy. And in spite of his feeling that he had no legacy, Manley could brag about one enduring accomplishment in the field of sports - a field I don't happen to care anything about, but which many people do: he created something called the NBA Efficiency Rating.

But in spite of his hyper-numeracy, and although he clearly makes a distinction between "debt" and "deficit" in his statement, he claims that the deficit is $16.9 trillion dollars, when what he really means is the national debt. The deficit is $792 billion.

According to the US Treasury web site:
What is the difference between the public debt and the deficit?The deficit is the difference between the money Government takes in, called receipts, and what the Government spends, called outlays, each year. Receipts include the money the Government takes in from income, excise and social insurance taxes as well as fees and other income. Outlays include all Federal spending including social security and Medicare benefits along with all other spending ranging from medical research to interest payments on the debt. When there is a deficit, Treasury must borrow the money needed for the government to pay its bills.
Now we know that much of the current debt is the result of two unfunded wars and Bush's tax cut for the wealthy, as well as the financial meltdown of 2008 which required not only bank bail-outs but increased pay-outs for the greater number of people relying on unemployment and foodstamps to get by.

But much much more important than this confusion, is that contrary to Manley's belief that the deficit is "spiraling into oblivion" in fact the deficit is dropping. I made a screen recording of a few seconds of the Debt Clock and you can see that the item labeled "US FEDERAL BUDGET DEFICIT decreases from 792,745,227,903 down to 792,745,142,099.

I knew the deficit was decreasing because two days before Martin Manley killed himself, Krugman blogged about the fact that so many Americans falsely believe that the deficit is increasing: What People (Don't) Know About the Deficit:
A little while back I expressed a desire to see a poll of voters asking whether they knew about the plunging federal budget deficit. Just as a reminder, here’s what the CBO numbers for the recent past and projections for the near future look like:

Hal Valarian of Google did a survey for Krugman and sure enough, contrary to reality, most people thought the deficit was increasing.

A few days before this post, Krugman was calling Rand Paul out for his disinformation:

Jonathan Chait finds Rand Paul talking about the evils of “running a trillion-dollar deficit every year” — which, as it happens, is not at all what we’re doing; the deficit is at around $600 billion and falling fast. This follows on Eric Cantor’s talk about “growing deficits”, when deficits are in fact shrinking. 
I think it’s pretty clear that Paul actually has no idea that the deficit is falling; it’s quite possible that neither does Cantor. The whole incident reminds me of 2011, when supposedly well-informed candidates like Tim Pawlenty went on about soaring government employment during a time of unprecedented cuts in the public payroll. Once you’re inside the closed conservative information loop, you know lots of things that aren’t so.
Now you can argue that Republicans claiming that we are running a "trillion-dollar deficit every year" is pure incompetence rather than a deliberate effort to misinform, but either way, I think it's inarguable that they are responsible for spreading the misinformation that resulted in one of the factors that drove Martin Manley to suicide.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Do you want to contact somebody first, leave someone a letter...?

This photo is of the site where Manley pulled the trigger
Martin Manley posted this to his web site yesterday:
I finally decided the best way to do it would be at 5AM on August 15, 2013 at the far southeast end of the parking lot at the Overland Park Police Station. If everything worked out right – and I’m sure it did, I called 911 at 5AM. I told them “I want to report a suicide at the south end of the parking lot of the Overland Park Police Station at 123rd and Metcalf. Bang.”
He posted the geographic coordinates for the spot so you can see it on Google maps.

And as he predicted, it did work out as he had planned it.

This web site - no longer available except on this mirror site - is devoted to his life and death.

He was a regular sports blogger, with a web site called Sports in Review and he informed his readers of his death yesterday in a blog post called The Final SIR Post.

...I have no doubt that I could still have contributed to the development of statistical data and the interpretation of that data. However, the time has come to draw this quasi-hobby to an end. 
The reason for my departure is 100% within my ability to control. You see, earlier today, I committed suicide. I created a web-site to deal with the many questions a person would rightfully have. It’s called It went live today. In my opinion, there is no question which you could conceivably ask that I have left unanswered on that site. My goal with this post is closure for SIR.
He claims he was not depressed. He was a regular church-goer, even a member of the choir, and on the site says he hopes that God will forgive him for killing himself. His main motivation was to avoid waiting until he was too senile to kill himself and he figured at age 60 it was all downhill from there. And wanted to avoid the coming US financial collapse - more about that in another post. He was also very upset about the Newtown murders and wrote a good gun control post here.

I couldn't stop reading his life/death site. And there are lots of news stories about his death - so he definitely got what he was hoping for - some kind of notoriety.

RIP Martin Manley.

Friday, August 16, 2013


My old employer Fiserv was rated one of the nine worst companies to work for:

9. Fiserv
> Rating: 2.5
> Number of reviews: 440
> CEO approval rating: 40% (Jeffery Yabuki)
> Employees: 20,000
Fiserv provides information management and e-commerce products to the financial services industry. Fiserv’s primary clients are banks, credit unions, and brokers. Fiserv has completed more than 140 mergers and acquisition transactions since its was founded in 1984, according to Morningstar. It is not so much a company as a collection of assets. This method of building a corporation is often accompanied by a certain number of layoffs and paranoia about job security.
A number of commenters noted that the company provided minimal training for employees and that senior staff was unresponsive to employee concerns on the job. The company is comprised of many different acquisitions, reviewers noted, which has led to factions feuding for resources and attention, which in turn has lowered morale. “Don’t mess with the old school ‘clique’ or you can screw up advancement opportunities,” an employee wrote.
A common theme among many Glassdoor reviews also seems to be that the company is needlessly stingy. Low pay and paltry raises were frequent gripes, and several employees also expressed frustration about less-than-stellar health benefits. Failing to remember the last time they saw a doctor, one reviewer said, “The deductible is so high that they might as well not ever offer it.”

Read more: America’s Worst Companies to Work For - 24/7 Wall St.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

There's no accounting for taste

As I mentioned a few days ago, I thought the play PERFECTLY NORMEL PEOPLE was putrid cheez whiz, but my friend Valerie, the reviewer for Time Out New York, thought it was cute - and that is reflected in her review. It got four stars.

I begged her to mention how irritating the narrator device was, and she swore she did, but they cut it down to just "less engaging." This is why I could never be a critic. I couldn't take the blandification that happens in so many media outlets. Although at least in the case of Time Out New York, they don't let friends review friends' plays - Valerie was explicitly forbidden from reviewing another Fringe show because she knew somebody in the cast. I thought integrity was a thing of the past in online review venues, so I was glad to hear it.

However, Valerie's review will only encourage them to write more just like it - but I can't just blame Valerie. From the authors' blog:
We were grateful to receive a favorable review in and were chosen as one of Fringe’s Top Ten picks by 
Kill me now. Or better yet, just forget about FringeNYC. It's strictly amateur night at the VFW now.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Le Gigot

Le Gigot apparently means "the leg" as in gigot d'agneau or leg of lamb. It's also the name of a restaurant in the West Village that I've been to twice now - once six years ago (tempus fugit!) trying to impress a man who had absolutely no interest in being impressed by me, and then again this Sunday after my friend Val took me to the Fringe show with her.

It's an elegant little place that serves Proven├žal cuisine, which apparently means lots of animals: cows, ducks, rabbits, lambs, chicken and lobster.

It's also tres cher, and they only accept cash or American Express. Well six years ago I was throwing around the plastic like a drunken sailor with a credit card, and I don't even remember how much it cost. But this time... between the two of us we had a soup, salad, a glass of wine each and a cup of cappuccino and it came to over $70 not including tip. Sacre bleu! In contrast I had brunch with two other people that morning and we all had omelettes with hash browns, toast, coffee and mimosas and the whole thing came to $25 for three people.

To be fair Le Gigot does have a prix fixe brunch for $20 which sounds like a pretty good deal, but mon dieu! I didn't even have a big salad, it was a small mesclun salad sans goat cheese.

But the cup of cappuccino was exquisite.

And the service was absolutely stellar. So I guess it was worth it.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

If you deceive white feminists it's their own fault. And also everything else.

Greetings, fellow Facebook members. You can read all about ethics-free Mikki Kendall and her career of vicious lies and hate-mongering here.

And don't miss my analysis of her Salon article in which she accuses a doctor of attempted second-degree murder because she thought he wanted her to die for seeking a life-saving abortion. She doesn't name him though, probably because Salon realized that making such serious unsupported charges is actionable defamation.

Of course many feminists, who I assume must have poor reading skills, defended Kendall's article against charges that she provided no evidence that the doctor or the hospital were criminally negligent, including Amanda Marcotte. This is how Kendall demonstrated her gratitude for Marcotte's defense less than a year later - by implying that Marcotte stole the blogging work of women of color.

So apparently the whole white-feminists-are-to-blame-for-everything hate-a-thon campaign that Mikki Kendall has going on Twitter - #solidarityisforwhitewomen - was caused by a creep named Hugo Schwyzer admitting he had deceived the women he worked for.

And of course we know who is to blame for Hugo Schwyzer's behavior - the source for all evil on this earth - white feminists.

Clearly there is a group of "feminists" who feel that white feminists are to blame for absolutely everything, including the old boys network and the Trayvon Martin murder trial verdict - both those charges showed up on the #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen tag.

Well, but then once you have a scapegoat, all sense of ethics goes out the window. You just want to hate. And white feminists are a much safer target than the people who actually have power.

And there's also a heaping helping of ageism and defense of cultural traditions that oppress women among Mikki Kendall's fans, as you can see in this article by Elana Haliczer and Versha Sharma. They start out by letting you know how worthless you are if you are above a certain age:
 Hello, feminism. It’s nice to see you again. Some of us thought you were dead, or at least out of touch with us non-gray-hairs, who don’t safeguard their yellowing copies of Ms. Magazine. 
Enter #solidarityisforwhitewomen, like a cleansing fire upon the movement. The point of the Twitter tag: Women of color, all colors, are challenging the idea that feminism is about white gals of privilege. It’s basically saying, “Thank you, Gloria Steinem, but the conversation around equality has a lot more velocity and global reach today than it did around the quad at Smith College.”
Wow. So now pioneers of the feminist movement are to be attacked because they are older and... that seems to be the only reason. White feminists certainly didn't keep women of color out of the feminist movement. But since white feminists are now guilty of all the evils of the world, hate-filled liars and ageists like Elana Haliczer and Versha Sharma can make any claims they want.

Here is Elana Haliczer's Linked In profile. What kind of organization would employ a hate-monger like her?

Here is Versha Sharma's Linked In profile. Apparently Vocativ is the go-to employer of vicious hate-mongers and age-based discriminators. I just hope her employers don't have any gray hairs or other signs of worthlessness.

This Charming Man

Sophie Fontanel speaks for so many of us.
You ended up being abstinent for twelve years. Were you dating during that time? 
Oh, of course I went on dates. My reaction was always, “Well, I’ll meet him, and then I’ll see.” I was hoping, but it was very abstract. It’s rare to find a man who really charms you. During that period, I fell in love twice. But, obviously, it was with impossible men. Married men, gay men. It’s very difficult to find a partner. That’s why I waited so long. Because I told myself, Okay, I give up. I will return to sexual activities when it is worth it — and it took more than ten years.
Yep. I'd wager that it's the scarcity of men who really charm you - and are not married, gay or otherwise unavailable - that is the primary cause of celibacy for most single women.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Chitra Nagarajan also joins Mikki Kendall's campaign of hatred against white feminists.

Here is Chitra Nagarajan attacking Susan Browmiller, implying that she is an evil racist feminist (but of course she is because she's a white feminist) by misrepresenting something she said in "Against Our Will."

Nagarajan is a writer at The Guardian. It is truly appalling how many women with their own media outlets have taken up professional hater Mikki Kendall's cause of attacking all white feminists, including feminist pioneers like Susan Brownmiller.

Mikki Kendall is truly a force for evil.

Here is Nagarajan's Linked-In profile. I can't believe any respectable organization would employ this vicious hate-monger.

Al Jazeera promotes Mikki Kendall's campaign of hatred against white feminists.

Good job, Mikki Kendall! Let's get all anti-women organizations on board your campaign of anti-feminist hate!

Feminists on Twitter say #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen

I've said it before, and I think events will prove me out - Mikki Kendall hates nothing as much as white feminists. I fully expect that if the Taliban joined her in her campaign of hatred against white feminists she would be completely OK with that.

Aura Bogado, writer at The Nation, joins the Mikki Kendall hate-a-thon

Well much to my surprise it turns out that the vicious Twitter attacks of hatred against white feminists is fully supported by Aura Bogado, a writer at The Nation.

Here are Bogado's tweets in full support of Mikki Kendall's personal campaign of hatred and blame for EVERYTHING against white feminists below. So remember, if you are a white feminist and you subscribe to The Nation, they would like you to know that the real root of racism and economic injustice is not plutocrats or Republicans - the great Satan is WHITE FEMINISTS!

What's this you say? You never thought a Cherokee baby named Veronica needs saving? Too bad because you are guilty because of your gender and your ethnicity. You should be ashamed of yourself. Now shut up and allow media leaders to heap abuse and lies on you - shut up white feminists. You may not speak out in self-defense. Just take your beating like a good bitch.

  1. when you count the tenured white women faculty, and then the tenured women of color faculty at any university
  2. when you think a Cherokee baby named Veronica needs saving
  3. when your organization offers internships without pay, which means most WOC can't afford to do them
  4. when you call yourself an investigative journalist but have to look up Ida B Wells after you see this tweet
  5. is thinking that the criminal justice system is not a women's issue
  6. is thinking that immigration is not a women's issue
  7. : when you book one WOC for your panel, ask her to attend at her own expense, and think we're all
  8. is when you're sick of the hashtag for a few hours, and we're sick of your privilege for a few centuries
  9. when you stay quiet about affirmative action but went to school on a woman's lacrosse scholarship.
  10. when you fail to recognize that you live on stolen land.
  11. Most anti-climatic moment of : when you realize that almost every editor will hire a white woman to write abut it
  12. is when I can come up with 20 examples of how white women fail us in two hours and easily have 20 more to go.
  13. : lists women for prez; hardly WOC but Warren, Klobuchar, Sebelius listed twice
  14. when you've heard Hannah Anderson's name 1,000 times in last two days, but still don't know who Sharon Coke is.
  15. when you tell your already underpaid immigrant nanny to teach your child Spanish--for free.
  16. is what happens when WOC have hardly any space in online publishing and have to take you down in 144 characters.
  17. when you love Orange is The New Black, but never bothered to pick up a copy of Assata Shakur's book.
  18. : when you stay up late to see how Texas voted on abortion but don't care about California's forced sterilization.
  19. is when you show up on tomorrow explaining that women of color hurt your feelings with this hashtag.
  20. But they're ready to earn a higher wage than women of color and men of color!
  21. when you refuse to thank the civil rights movement for vastly improving the lives of white women.
  22. when you can afford to care more about organic vegetables than you do about Marissa Alexander.
  23. because feminism thrives on gatekeepers & asymmetries of knowledge, which serve to exclude women of colour.
  24. The irony about is that the hastag is partly trending because it still centers on white women.
  25. when claims to be Cherokee, never apologizes for it, and never has to answer for it.
  26. when lauds Janet Napolitano's move the UC system; doesn't call her out for deporting 1.5 M people.
  27. : lists women for prez; hardly WOC but Warren, Klobuchar, Sebelius listed twice
  28. White supremacy rests on being conveniently (but willfully) ignorant.
  29. when you build career on the lowwage work of immigrant nannies whom you don't pay a living wage or offer benefits