Saturday, October 31, 2009

What not to wear.

There was a hapless guy at at Party City last night buying a Breathalyzer costume. Guess he didn't read this article.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Should we care about middle-school lesbianism?

I'm reading this Savage Love article about a mother who found out that her 12-year-old daughter has romantic feelings for a sleepover friend, and the friend reciprocates. Mom wants to know how to handle this---she wouldn't let a middle schooler boyfriend sleep with with her daughter, but what's the appropriate response here? And I'm wondering ... what is she afraid of happening? The girl will not get pregnant, almost certainly will not get any diseases, and if she's got access to the internet or even decent sex ed, she knows how to be safe. Heartbreak could happen regardless of physical involvement. So why does this ping our radar?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

No jetpacks, but lasers are pretty cool.

Monday I have a consultation scheduled for Lasik! Maybe the next time I go on a beach vacation I will be able to open my eyes underwater and see stuff.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Stuff I Like

Sometimes I like things! It happens. And I feel like sharing some of those things with you in a giant lump, because working them into random conversations makes me feel like a pod person from television commercials.


Mint is the best way to keep track of your spending and saving that I have found. No entering in deposits. No keeping receipts to log. Just all your income and outlays, tracked automatically. The access is read-only, so even if someone hacked Mint, they couldn't suction out all your money (downside: you still have to log into your individual credit card or bank websites to do manual payments and transfers). It gives you shiny graphs of net income, assets, net worth, etc., all broken out by category, time period, or whatever you need. The budgeting software is nice, too, especially the recent update that lets you roll over budget items from month to month, so you can account for infrequent expenses like car insurance. And it's free. Pretty good stuff.

2. Amazon Visa and AmEx Blue Cash*

Groceries, Gasoline, Drugstores: AmEx (5%)
Restaurants: Amazon Visa (2%) (The Costco AmEx gets 3%, but I am not a Costco member, and lots of restaurants don't take AmEx.)
Online stuff: Amazon Visa (3% on Amazon)
Everything else: AmEx, 1.25%

* All of this is if you are not carrying a balance. If you have a balance, find the best interest rate. Pay off your highest-rate balance first. That debt snowball thing feels good but it loses you money.

3. Virgin America

I like flying on with purple neon. They sent me a link for 20% off for ten friends, which you can access here.

The Mister

Neat article on the challenges of being the first same-sex congressional spouse.

Friday, October 23, 2009

You came from somewhere, so write about that place.

Via Alyssa Rosenberg, a comment on modern movies that is right freaking on.
There's a whole big country where people parent, fall in love, find career success, get their hearts broken, get sick and die...I'm so tired of stories that take place in the same three neighborhoods in New York or LA. I'm tired of young white people and their love problems. I'm tired of FBI agents. I'm tired of movies that are set in a New Yorker or LA person's stereotyped idea of what other parts of the country are like. And for the love of all that is holy, putting glasses on a pretty woman makes her a PRETTY WOMEN WITH EYEGLASSES, not a hopeless frump.
Reminds me of books I don't read. Can we also add: stories with 20- to 35-year-olds in Brooklyn floundering in ennui, cosmopolitan Mary Sues fretting about sex in the city and their extra ten pounds, or (though it doesn't support the regionalism point) paranormal detectives?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Public Nudity: Get Off My Lawn Edition

Via Radley Balko: Police arrest Virginia man for indecent exposure after two people cutting through his yard at 5:30 in the morning saw him making coffee in the nude. So, folks: if someone trespassing on your property could see through your kitchen window, don't walk around in the buff, or you might end up here.

Wild thing, you make my heart sing?

Playing catch-up post-NYC. Also sick (cold, not swine flu).

Lots of good-seeming movies out right now. Any recs?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Advantage: Amber!

I will never be pilloried for posting a photograph of myself wearing a tank top.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Orgy of Consumption!

In NYC with Belle Lettre, stimulating the economy. It's awesome.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Kids today!

College kids using the Kindle have many gripes. Unfortunately, most of them are dumb.
[S]ome students are finding they miss the decidedly low-tech conveniences of paper -- highlighting, flagging pages with sticky notes and scribbling in the margins. ... Becerra tried typing notes on the Kindle's small keyboard, but when she went back to reread them she found they were laden with typos and didn't make sense. After a month, she says she takes far fewer notes and relies on the Kindle's highlighter tool instead.
Have you considered taking notes ... on your computer? Or on paper? Are marginalia scrawled in a textbook really the best study aid? If you need to link your notes to the text, use the location markers.
Other students struggled when professors had them read documents in PDF format, which doesn't show up well on the Kindle. Users can't zoom in or make notes on them, and diagrams sometimes get separated from notes explaining them.
Before the Kindle, you would have printed out PDFs or looked at them on your computer. Try that.
Students were also impressed with the "electronic ink" screen, which Amazon touts as far easier on the eyes than reading off a computer monitor. But it can't be backlit, disappointing one student who wants to read during dark early-morning bus commutes.
Backlighting would cancel out the entire benefit of e-ink. Buy a book light.

It seems like these students would have a much better Kindle experience if they didn't try to use the device to replace their laptops as well as their textbooks.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Slate is staffed by sociopaths?

At some point the Slate media empire imperative to be contrarian needs to yield in the face of humanity. Really, it's okay to abandon your roofied friend?

UPDATE: The columnist who gave this advice, Lucinda Rosenfeld, has 529 friends. Let's hope that even those who believe themselves closest are aware of just how much they can expect from her in a time of need.

UPDATE 2: Agree or disagree: Girl Code dictates that if female friends go out to bars together, you are expected to look out for one another (that you will leave together unless otherwise agreed, watch each other's backs/drinks for the machinations of skeevy guys, etc.). To blithely assume that a friend who never returns from a bathroom trip left on her own and then react to that friend's need to be picked up from the hospital after misadventure with anger ... it is incomprehensible to me. As one DoubleX commenter observed:
That anger [the "friends"] are exhibiting is pretty common among enablers who are annoyed that their friend's problem is becoming too obvious for them to continue to ignore. That anger is also pretty common among shallow people who really don't like having to deal with "downer" events (like rape-drug-dosing) in a person's life either.
Regardless of whether the letter-writer is a drunken mess who blacks out regularly,* the friends' conduct was beyond the pale. No matter how she got in that situation, she was frightened and in need.

* Things that make me skeptical of the "oh she's a hot alcoholic mess who pulls this crap all the time" theory: 1) presumably a hospital can tell the difference between drunk and roofied and 2) the mother's reaction is not indicative of frequent trouble.

Gray Booty Call

I am curiously taken with the idea of gray ankle boots this winter, for wearing with skirt+tights or jeans. Is this a bad idea?

Boot 1

Boot 2

Boot 3

Boot 4

Chunky heels are better for wintery days, I guess.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Mini Book Review: Lamentation

This is a really solid fantasy novel. I hated A Canticle for Leibowitz, and strongly disliked Anathem, but the knowledge-worshiping monks in Lamentation manage to be interesting characters moving in a well-actualized and internally consistent world and are described in English, not cutesy SF gibberish. It is all setup for a new series, unfortunately, so the identity of a certain mysterious figure will remain unknown until Scholes comes out with more books. It's worth getting started, though. Recommended.

Friday, October 09, 2009

"The mustache is good for another ten pounds."

Old-tyme circus strongman >>>> My muscle fibers and veinz, let me show you them.

The '70s facial hair is deprecated, however.

Random Roundup, Mostly MeFi Edition

Great post on how to pick up women you don't know. Basically boils down to "Most of the time I don't particularly feel like getting to know strangers on the street because I'm trying to get shit done, and that if you're ignoring the signals I'm sending saying I want to be left alone, than there's no way I'm going to want to get to know you, because you ignoring my personal boundaries now indicates you'll happily ignore them later when I'm saying no to your sexual advances."

Amendment passed to protect recourse to the courts for sexual assault victims who work for government contractors abroad. You can read the Fifth Circuit opinion in Jamie Leigh Jones's case if you are not familiar with the background on this issue.

Hilarious ICANN brief. My briefs never contain gems like "We do not have a declaration from the president of the international association of imbeciles that his members are blankly staring at the Respondent’s website wondering “where did all the race baiting content go?”"

I didn't even know Playgirl still existed.

Follow instructions, then report!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Vague recollections of Church & State class

Without looking up his prior opinions again, I can't be sure, but is there something inconsistent* about Scalia's assertion that crosses honor Jewish (and other non-Christian) war dead? And doesn't a cross mean something? Like, namely that some fellow allegedly died on one for your sins?

* With his previous statements, not just with reality.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

So ....

The new header works. Everything else is borked. I'm limping by with an old Blogger default template until the kinks get worked out. Comments should be functioning.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Do not adjust your set.

In the next day or two there will be a fresh look for PTN. Same great taste, new shiny label. At least I hope so. Friends of PTN with CSS/Blogger skillz encouraged to contact me.

Those of you on RSS feeds, carry on as usual.

UPDATE: The specific obstacle to New!Shiny! is that Haloscan's automatic installer does not seem to be playing nicely with my new Blogger template. Previously, the PTN template was of the Blogger Classic, pre-Google era, and simple cutting and pasting of code sufficed to set up Haloscan. I cannot see exactly how Haloscan's manual install would work here.

If you are a friend of PTN and have experience with Haloscan comments and the upgraded Blogger templates, please contact me.

Take my plastic, please!

It seems pretty lame that no U.S. bank will issue a chip-and-pin card compatible with common international systems. One commenter noted the the AmEx Blue card originally had one of the embedded chips, but the newer ones have RFID instead (useless abroad).

This doesn't seem like a stable equilibrium. Surely one credit card issuer will seize the opportunity to market to international travelers. "Not all cards are created equal: Choose ___Bank Visa/MC for guaranteed acceptance overseas," etc.

When I travel I usually rely on credit cards and cash withdrawals at ATMs. There have been several instances of my credit cards not working but nobody ever fingered this as the problem.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

die die die

Spent most of the weekend on pantry moth eradication. HATE BUGS.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Miscarriage Tweets in Big Media

So Penelope Trunk, the blogger mentioned in this post, was interviewed on CNN about twittering about her miscarriage and planned abortion. I thought she highlighted some very good points:

- Women do not necessarily want every pregnancy to result in a birth. Sometimes women with kids, e.g. Trunk, don't want more kids! Trunk emphasized this by bringing up her previous miscarriage, which she did mourn: it was a wanted pregnancy, and she was sad that it didn't lead to a wanted child. (She later did have the desired second child.) But this recent pregnancy was not wanted, and would not have been brought to term regardless.

- Miscarriages are incredibly common and take place over an extended period, so women must go to work while they are miscarrying, unless they can just drop everything and take a couple of weeks off. (Shockingly, the interviewer was completely ignorant of how miscarriages happen---he seemed to think that they all are instantaneous, like a Hollywood version of a water breaking. Real-world evidence of the ignorance bred by keeping this topic outside public discourse!)

- You probably work/have worked/will work with women having miscarriages.

- In the case of a miscarriage or an abortion, you may need to take some time off for medical visits; Trunk said that she informed her board of the situation because she would have had to leave the state for two days to get the abortion she desired.

- The need for women to miss work for this reason is increased where laws make it difficult for them to procure abortions from a medical provider in their area without weeks of delay.

- If you are going to miss work, it might be best (depends on the workplace, I suppose) to provide your reasons for doing so.

Social media is, for better or worse, the preferred method for some people to share their experiences. As Trunk noted, this is part of the female experience. Perhaps some people might even prefer announcing a miscarriage on Facebook or Twitter to avoid the specter of repeated discussions with individual friends about an awkward topic.

I wasn't aware before that Trunk is also open about being a woman with Asperger's. As someone who scores highly on tests for that sort of thing, I enjoyed watching her interview.