I think my life is now complete

The Red Bull Music Academy has a 24/7 streaming audio station.

I mean, really, what could be more perfect than listening to official Red Bull music while gazing at my Red Bull desktop and screensaver and of course emptying Red Bulls at at alarming rate?

[actual photo of eeka's office]

Sad songs say so much

What do Pink Floyd, Bette Midler and Metallica have in common? They've all written horribly depressing tunes, according to Tom Reynolds, author of I Hate Myself and Want to Die. He offers his top 25 miserable tracks.

The best part is, he doesn't actually mean sincerely depressing tunes. He's talking, like, music that makes you want to kill yourself and your stereo. The way he describes this stuff is great: "Tyler rasps her way through a million permutations of the phrase 'every now and then, I get a little bit [insert neurosis here]' before losing it during the song's demented chorus."


Posted today on the Boston Freecycle list:

WANTED: Toddler bed for a boy

What exactly is a "boy" toddler bed? Does it have like penis protection rails or something?

I need a longassgermanword. Again.

There should be a word for when you make a typo and click on it to get the spellchecker to fix it, then you feel compelled to go look up all the weird unfamiliar words it suggested.

Take action against offensive language use by journalists

This got to me a bit late, but the action alert is still up, and as far as I can find, no apology has been issued. The zoning issue though has been cleared up and the group residence is going forward. The letter being sent through the action alert contains text of "as an Alabaman," but this can be customized for people anywhere who wish to express displeasure. In my letter, I cited this Guidelines for Reporting and Writing about People with Disabilities article.

The Democrat-Reporter, a weekly community newspaper in Linden, Alabama, recently described a proposed residential home for three clients of The Arc of Fayette-Lamar as "retard housing." The paper’s derogatory remarks are hurtful and unfounded, and our community cannot tolerate them. If we do not confront the use of language like this, even when published in a small-town newspaper, it will perpetuate lingering stereotypes of people with cognitive disabilities.

An interesting note: apparently in Linden, Alabama, the "unrelated person" laws in areas that are zoned for single-family homes are actually enforced (unless protested like this one was). My guess is that they're selectively enforced, since it's likely there are households with three unrelated roommates, but still, that's evidence of pretty regressive policies. The law in Massachusetts (Chapter 40a, Section 3!) specifically exempts groups of housemates with disabilities from any local laws relating to unrelated persons living together or to zoning (in other words, that a group residence is to be considered a residence rather than a business, since the business activity taking place there is necessary for the folks to live in the community). There also seems to be a de facto understanding in Massachusetts that these sorts of laws are only applied if a household is otherwise causing a nuisance or public health concern and are not enforced as a means of discriminating against perfectly stable households of chosen family. While we certainly have exceptions -- and some very vocal ones -- it pleases me that the general social climate in Massachusetts tends to be one of not worrying about that which isn't harming anyone.


Dear techie geeks:

It was admittedly somewhat funny when google first introduced support for multiple languages and included languages such as Klingon, Pig Latin and BorkBorkBork in addition to the usual naturally occurring languages.

But honestly, it's getting a little old now to go onto sites such as meebo and see that they too are now offering support for "Igpay Atinlay" and "Bork." Honestly, if you people are wanting to use these languages beyond the one-time laugh, you might want to try exploring professional help rather than new web interfaces.

They're offering what, exactly?

This sign makes me wonder just what kind of business Arena Farms in Concord MA is actually running.

O Tannenbaum...

This building-in-progress in Central Square Cambridge has what appears to be a Christmas tree set up on the top deck. Um.

Son of a bitch!

I think this might be the best thing to have ever appeared on wikipedia:

(click for larger)


Once again, I'm finding myself needing a longass German word™

I need a word for "when you go into e-mail to look something up or enter your timesheet or something, only when you get in there there's a new message, so you read it, then you get out of your e-mail after you've read it, except you forgot to do what you went in there to do in the first place."

MassEquality: 8100 same-sex couples have married since 05/17/04

Two years after the start of same-sex marriages in Massachusetts, more than 8,100 gay and lesbian couples have tied the knot, but advocates are worried about another move to ban such unions.

Ax snot what your spellchecker can do for you...

Why did Word just change "doe snot" to "does not" without my having asked it to do so?

Now I'm going to have to go in and tweek the autocorrect settings before I'll be able to finish this Bambi fanfic I'm trying to write...

Unmarried" and "single" are not synonyms

Congratulations to Christina Wallace in today's Metro for contributing to gay and lesbian invisibility. In this article about "single women influencing the housing market," she discusses trends in single women buying homes, while using the terms "single" and "unmarried" interchangibly. [Click the image for a full-size view of the story].

While Kim Hay, the woman given as an example, is a self-identified single woman, it is offensive and ignorant to take a statistical sample and determine that all women who are not legally married are "single." This devalues committed-but-not-legally-married relationships, both of same-sex couples and other-sex couples.

The American Psychological Association's Style Guide (by which authors submitting papers to most of the major psychology and sociology journals must abide) gives the following guideline:

Omitting discussion of marital status unless legal marital relationships are the object of the writing. Marital status per se is not a good indicator of cohabitation (marital couples may be separated; unmarried couples may live together), sexual activity, or sexual orientation (a person who is married may be in a gay or lesbian relationship with a partner). Further, describing people as married or "single" renders lesbians, gay men, and bisexual persons as well as heterosexual people in cohabiting relationships invisible.

It isn't clear from the article whether the statistics as presented by the National Association of Realtors specified whether their numbers referred to self-identified single females or to females who are not legally married. It is clear that Christina Wallace (and/or whomever chose the statistics) seems to view these terms interchangibly. It seems logical that the "number of unmarried females owning homes" would be derived from mortgage and property ownership data. Obviously, these figures only take legal status into account; there is no way of determining whether these unmarried women owning homes are single or partnered. The assumption that all of these unmarried women are single is of course not at all realistic.

I am not legally married and am the sole legal owner of a home -- I don't like that I may have in fact been counted in the "single women owning a home" statistic, since, well, I'm not single.

Even if the National Association of Realtors did in fact organize actual data collection in which Realtors reported on the numbers of sales they made to single and married women, this data collection is still not sound, because it excludes the category of women who are in non-married committed partnerships. It also relies on the judgment of the Realtor to determine which clients s/he is going to count as "single" or "married." I doubt that the Realtor is going around asking clients their marital status; I do know that when I bought my house, I took care of most of the mortgage processing myself, so he didn't ever see a credit report or anything that would indicate my legal marital status. Therefore it would have been up to him to decide whether he thought I was "married" or "single" if given only those two choices in a survey.

Actually, now that I mention my Realtor, it's too bad he wasn't the Realtor interviewed, since he would have given equal treatment to the partnered couples and single people he's worked with instead of furthering the "people are single unless in a hetero marriage" slant of the story.

If the author wishes to discuss the trend of actual single women buying homes -- which I do find sociologically interesting -- she might want to stick to interviewing self-identified single women or taking a poll in which homebuyers can self-identify in terms of their relationship status. The legal marital status of people buying homes really isn't interesting; I doubt anyone is going around asking to see their neighbors' marriage certificates. The actual status of people buying homes is interesting, and is what really makes up a neighborhood. Kim Hay's personal story of her decision to buy a house is much more interesting than misleading statistics anyway, and isn't offensive like the overgeneralizing and invisibilizing is.

The TEETH gang strikes again!

More creatively placed TEETH tagging, this time on Edgerly Road.

[Note: One Smoot Short does not endorse vandalism of others' property, but does at times find the content and/or placement of said nonendorsed vandalism to be quite amusing.]

One smoot away from maiming someone

Well, I haven't updated in about a week, so I thought I'd catch up with some, uh, highlights from the past week:

An agency I do some contracting for couldn't process my billing, thus didn't send me the check I was supposed to get two weeks ago for 22 clinical hours. They acknowledged that I had submitted my billing correctly, explained that the error was entirely on their part, called me repeatedly to tell me what a great clinician I am and how sorry they were that they had screwed up, checked with all sorts of people with power, but said there was no way they could get me paid sooner. Watch those insufficient funds fees pile up.

I called the IT helpdesk at work about some spyware on my computer. I'm usually not one to publicize work drama, but this was, um, special. Someone was apparently having a bad day or experiencing momentary demonic possession or something, because they didn't actually fix the spyware problem, but rather gave me a lecture about how my computer wasn't working because I had bookmarked a page of pictures of family and friends on my work computer. Having a bookmark of "something that is clearly not related to your work" had caused my computer to not work right, I was told. My hundreds of other bookmarks of mental health info, medical reference, links to state agencies, treatment strategies, and community resources, of course, were not believed to be affecting the computer in any way. No, they didn't remove the spyware. It's still there.

Someone hit my car while it was parked outside my house at night. The next day I talked to some neighbors and found out that one of them heard a crash, went outside to find a row of smashed cars and saw someone get out of a car, stagger around, get back in and speed off. He got there too late and was too far away to get enough of a description of the car or the driver. A few different neighbors made police reports. I spoke to our neighborhood police officer, who said he'd run through reports to see if there were any abandoned cars or people picked up for reckless who could likely match up. According to my insurance company, "if the other driver can't be identified, it's not a hit and run." They said the claim isn't going to affect my driving record (uh, it better not, since I wasn't, um, driving), but they also won't waive the deductable based on it being a hit and run, even with a witness and a police report.

The insurance carrier we were going to go with for (considerably cheaper) homeowner's insurance decided to do a drive-by, on the day that there were smashed cars and pieces of glass and headlights strewn all over in front of our house, and said that they would not be able to insure us for "unspecified issues observed during the drive-by." The house is in great structural condition on the exterior and has a decent paintjob and everything. I think I have an idea of what they might have observed.

Mitt Romney decided to abolish the Governor's Commision on Gay and Lesbian youth, apparently thinking this would make there stop being gay and lesbian youth, then quickly backed down when a whole bunch of lawmakers told him he was a dumbshit, then tried to deny he'd said he was going to abolish it at all.

It's rained for the past 6 days and is supposed to rain for the next 7, at least. I'm about to build an ark, if I can find enough cubits.

Fortunately, tequila makes most everything better.

"A must-have for anyone serious about timekeeping"

Once again, from the Random Things I Find Entirely Too Funny files...

This item listed on Amazon.com, a $225,000 watch, has prompted some hilarious reviews. I don't think there's a single review that comes from, uh, someone who bought the watch.

"If you have a full schedule like I do, you can't afford NOT to buy this watch."

"I happened to find this exquisite timepiece while watching a house for some friends of mine. Imagine my surprise upon learning its real value."

"the watch cut me and gave me AIDS"

Young Americans geographically illiterate

The Roper poll conducted on behalf of National Geographic found that most of the young adults questioned between the ages of 18 and 24 also had little knowledge about their own country, with half or fewer unable to identify the states of New York or Ohio on a map.

The survey results showed said that despite nearly constant news coverage since the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003, 63 percent of respondents could not find Iraq on a map and 75 percent could not find Israel or Iran.

Wow. I suppose this shouldn't suprise me too much, but wow. I'd venture to say that probably al least 75% of Americans between 18 and 24 have opinions about Israel and or Iraq and what "should" be happening in those places. Even if we account for people who aren't visual-spatially minded people but who we could expect to be otherwise knowledgeable about issues in these countries, this still leaves entirely too many people who haven't taken the time to educate themselves about current events and are instead relying on propaganda.

I wonder what other basic information large numbers of people -- who presumably vote, parent, drive, make purchases, handle our healthcare and finances, and so forth -- are lacking.

But hey, if anyone (18-24 or not) wants to expand their geography knowledge, these games are really fun.

Boston not doing nearly enough to encourage recycling

In Mike Mennonno's column in this morning's Metro, he writes about various environmental issues affecting our city. His column brought up a lot of good points, though he might have included another half-sentence acknowledging that cycling is a viable commuting alternative for people able-bodied enough to ride a bike, rather than for everyone.

Otherwise, he does a great job pointing out that people really don't take responsibility for preserving resources or keeping the city clean unless there's a law requiring them to. Mennonno talks about having recently biked through the South End in attempts to be environmentally conscious, only to find the streets difficult to navigate, as they were strewn with piled-up and broken-open trash bags. He mentions the pointless rubbish code and his attempts to bring it to the attention of the city:

But the city’s “rubbish rules” do nothing to discourage it. While the rubbish code states that “There must be sufficient metal or durable plastic barrels for storing of refuse generated in building,” it contradicts this dictate on the very next line: “Disposable 2-ply [or heavier] plastic bags may be used instead of trash barrels for curbside trash collection.” In short: you MUST use trash barrels, but you don’t have to.

Of course, as is usually the case when contacting city officials, he received a reply from someone who didn't read and/or understand his e-mail. The told him to contact code enforcement, but that would be pointless -- the bags all the hell over the place don't violate any code, which is exactly the point he was making.

However, I think there's another solution to the trash bags all over the place. While it might not make sense to require barrels for every single load of trash, because it's pointless and wasteful to buy an extra barrel because you had a party or cleaned out your attic, why doesn't the city just start fining people for placing any recyclable item in the trash? They wouldn't be going around breaking people's trash bags open, of course, but code enforcement could have someone walk around and cite any household with visible recyclables in a trash barrel or bag. They could also periodically follow the refuse truck around and break open every 10th bag into the truck or something. Visible recyclables would warrant one of those green tickets affixed to the house like people receive for putting trash out before 5pm in neighborhoods where the city actually cares about such things. The city could easily afford periodic enforcement with the money they'd be saving on landfill service.

Just the fact of something being a law encourages a good number of people to abide by it. In my neighborhood, for instance, I seriously doubt that code enforcement has ever come around ticketing people for putting trash out before 5pm, but I never see trash outside before 5. Why? Because there's a law, and people know this. I do, however, see barrels full of recyclables every trash day and I see houses on the street that have never put out a recycling bin since I've lived there. Much like the 5pm law, a recycling law would send a message that the community does not accept recyclables being thrown away. It would at least lead to more recycling than is currently happening.

Catching up on the bloggage...

I've been several smoots short of an original post in the recent past here due to being insanely busy, but thought I'd at least post some links.

This article in the Washington Post gives an interesting explanation of why immigrants are self-employed at higher rates than folks born in the U.S. and also discusses personality traits of people who "pick up and venture into the unknown" compared to people who stay in one place all of their lives.

This image, found on Ezra's blog, has been, by far, my favorite media snippet stemming from coverage of the immigration debates. It's about the only thing that's made me smile despite my frustration that some people can't seem to realize the obvious fact that we're all immigrants.