Monday, September 29, 2008

Snow Falling on Mars

I'd love to be able to write something cogent about the happenings on Capital Hill. But I'm just plain too frustrated. I'm frustrated that the vote today came down to petty politics of the worst sort. And I'm even more frustrated that NOBODY on the Hill has bothered to tell me just how the current plan is supposed to work, or what these so-called "alternatives" that have captured the minds of the Republican party are. If there's one thing that pisses me off more than anything as a voter, its that the politicos don't have the backbone to explain to me, uncertainties, warts, and all, what's doing on.

But I can't write that post. Because I'm angry. So instead, I've been watching clouds move on mars, and thinking of snow falling on another planet. Its a nice reminder of what we, as a people, can do. And that there are some really beautiful things out there.

Thanks, Tyler, for the link.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Oktoberfest Parenting FAIL

Sauntering field operative Johnrob reports from Munich, where Oktoberfest is still in full swing:

My buddies and I were enjoying our umpteenth liter at Oktoberfest when an attractive young hat saleswoman approached our table. After some humorous banter, the young lady claimed that she could pound an entire liter of beer — because she was, you see, a real Bavarian woman. Sadly, she could not demonstrate while on the job, so we had to settle for her word.

Later that afternoon, we arrived at our reserved table a little early. While waiting for the previous seating to clear out, we saw just how these Bavarian women hone their drinking skills...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What I'll Miss About New York:
#13 — Escape from the City

Manhattan. Sometimes from beyond the skyscrapers,
across the hundreds of thousands of high walls,
the cry of a tugboat finds you in your insomnia
in the middle of the night,
and you remember that this desert of
iron and cement is an island.
Desert Island (New York), Albert Camus, 1946
I'm not too concerned whether New York is the financial and cultural capital of the world, or whether that title should belong to London or Paris, Tokyo or Hong Kong. All I know is that the city is a strong taste, and there's a certain kind of relief I get when I get a break from that taste.

As wonderful as it is to go weeks on end without setting foot inside a car, there's a certain kind of relief that I feel when I step into a cab to race to the airport or rent a car to flee the island.

"When was the last time you left the island of Manhattan?" I used to ask Steph as we'd head toward the airport. It always surprised me that we could months on end without leaving our 23-square mile island home.

One trip away from New York stands out from among the rest. It was a trip to attend a good friend's wedding a few months after we'd moved to the city. I woke up early in New York, went to the airport, sped to California, and before I knew it I was on Ocean Drive in Carmel, CA. To go from the din of New York – the ambulances and the unending human motion – to this, the hushed motion of the waves, was a shock to the system.

What's this? After living in New York City for three years, I'm returning to California. These are the parts of my New York experience that I'll miss the most.

What I'll I Continue to Miss About New York

I thought I would probably wrap up these What I'll Miss posts prior to leaving New York at the end of August. Yeah, that didn't work out.

I still plan on finishing these posts during the next few weeks and months though I've been in Palo Alto, California for more than a week now.

What's this? After living in New York City for three years, I'm returning to California. These are the parts of my New York experience that I'll miss the most.

The Toilet Won't Stop Running.
Consider Yourself Sued.

After Kramarsky v. Stahl Management, 92 Misc.2d 1030, 401 N.Y.S.2d 943 (N.Y.Sup. 1977) – where a landlord refused to rent to a woman because she was a lawyer – New York City amended its landlord/tenant law to prohibit discrimination on the basis of a "lawful occupation."

California has no such bar on discriminating on the basis of a "lawful occupation." Of the roughly 10 places we applied to before finally signing a lease for a house last night, fully a third of them expressed reservations to renting to a couple where both people were lawyers.

Why were they so worried? We should sue them. ALL OF THEM.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Less porn? No, just really bad statistics.

Reuters is running a story, Porn passed over as Web users become social, based on book by and interview with Bill Tancer, general manager of global research at Hitwise, an Internet tracking company. Obviously, I had to read the piece (I get Reuters for the porn) to see if this shocking revelation could possibly be true.

Thankfully, my worldview remained intact—porn isn't going anywhere. The relevant part of the article:

Tancer . . . said one of the major shifts in Internet use in the past decade had been the fall off in interest in pornography or adult entertainment sites.

He said surfing for porn had dropped to about 10 percent of searches from 20 percent a decade ago, and the hottest Internet searches now are for social networking sites.

"As social networking traffic has increased, visits to porn sites have decreased," said Tancer, indicated that the 18-24 year old age group particularly was searching less for porn.

"My theory is that young users spend so much time on social networks that they don't have time to look at adult sites."
I haven't taken stats in at least twelve years, but I'm pretty sure I've spotted a hole in Mr. Tancer's theory.

According to comScore, one of the more reputable Internet-use tracking firms, who started tracking search in 2003 (which makes me suspicious of claims of reliable search statistics from 10 years ago), search has been growing exponentially, as anyone with a pulse and an Internet connection already knows. For example:Now, I'm not very good at math, but even I can calculate 20% of 4.2 billion—840 million—and 10% of 16 billion—1.6 billion.

Even if we give Mr. Tancer the completely unreasonable benefit of assuming that there was no search growth from 1998 to 2004, and none again since 2007, the past ten years have seen the number of searches for porn double, not drop off. Young people aren't spending any less time searching for porn, they're just spending that much more time on the Internet.

Phew. Although I don't think I'll be hiring Hitwise any time soon.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

McCain Campaign Now Officially a Joke (Albeit a Dangerous One)

Steve Harvey's comedy routine from a few years back contained a commentary on communications between men and women. In his routine, Harvey famously concluded that men lie when the truth will do.

As the past two weeks have revealed, the same is true of the McCain campaign. They will lie when the truth will do. There's no shame in saying that Sarah Palin visited Alaska National Guard troops when they were stationed in Kuwait, but that – apparently – is not sexy enough. So they said she visited them in Iraq. She has not been to Iraq.

They've become so comfortable lying, the McCain campaign now lies when the truth will do.

Friday, September 12, 2008

My Little Dermatologist

Katie, what's this? Nose. (in truth, she says noe.)
Katie, what's this? Teeth. (tee)
What's this? Eyebrow. (eye-bow)
What's this? Mole. (moe)

Yes, somewhere down the line my 19-month old daughter learned to identify moles on necks and faces. This perceptive ability has yet to offend anyone who holds her, but I suspect that her observations and someone's sensibilities will collide sometime soon.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

This Day in History

Its been a slow few weeks here at Sauntering. But we're still here for you, and most importantly, here for your education.

This Day in History is one of a small abundance of websites that allow you to see what other events happened on on days like your birthday, or other memorable dates. For instance, the day of my first kiss falls on the anniversary of the first day of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Those who know me know that I have exceptionally bad luck on the timing of life's little milestones.

..But I digress. The real point is this; it appears that the people who run This Day in History are not with out a sense of humor. See if you can find the odd-ball in this list of events for September 6th.

394 Battle of the Frigidus: The Christian Roman Emperor Theodosius I defeats and kills the pagan usurper Eugenius and his Frankish magister militum Arbogast.

1522 The Victoria, one of the surviving ships of Ferdinand Magellan's expedition, returns to Sanlcar de Barrameda in Spain, becoming the first ship to circumnavigate the world.

1620 The Pilgrims sail from Plymouth, England, on the Mayflower to settle in North America.

1628 Puritans land at Salem, from Mass Bay Colony, witches soon to settle

1669The siege of Candia ends with the Venetian fortress surrendering to the Ottomans

1776 Hurricane hits Guadeloupe, killing more than 6000.

1781 The Battle of Groton Heights takes place, resulting a British victory.

1839 Great fire in NY

Also, our editor in chief was born. Happy Birthday, Andy.