Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Girlfriend Experience

The Girlfriend Experience is a commercial movie trailer on

According to Buzzfeed: "Steven Soderbergh's upcoming film The Girlfriend Experience has been getting a lot of buzz lately, partially because it's the mainstream debut of adult film star Sasha Grey, an attractive lady who is sometimes naked." They're so gentle with their understatements and quasi-euphemisms.

Hulu bills the premise of the movie as: "A high-priced call girl works on solidifying her economic future while her live-in lover seeks success as a personal trainer."

The FABLife explains more about why exactly Sasha is famous:

"On the x-rated screen, she’s known for asking to be punched in the gut while performing fellatio.

To top it off, she’s a total nerd, and named herself in honor of Oscar Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Grey. Needless to say, we’re all a bit obsessed with her. In fact, her only flaw seems to be that she’s engaged to a photographer named Ian Cinnamon."

This is all a little bit weird, right?  I mean, media is pretty saturated with sex, but this is outrigh porn going mainstream. There it is. Handbasket and all. 


(PS: Is that a diaper?!   From Buzzfeed)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Marquee Fail

Marquee Fail is an entry on the failblog that is too good to ignore. It's a photo of a marquee advertising two movies, that reads kind of like your stalker's magazine-cut-out love notes. 

"There will definitely be blood... Maybe"

I love the follow-up by the commenter on Buzzfeed. "Bambi II isn't afraid to lay all its cards on the table. None of this 'maybe' stuff." 

(From Ted )

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Colbert Report NOM Advert Responce [sic]

I don't usually do follow-ups, but these parodies have been gathering, and I am afraid.  Here are more NOM parody ads (previously featured) with better production values.  One from the Colbert Report, and one from Funny or Die. //

Colbert Report NOM Advert Responce [sic]

Winner lines: Forced to have beards, Abercrombie & Fitch, and hilarious best friends in TV and movies. 

The second, less good parody:

A Gaythering Storm by Funny or Die.

Featuring: Jane Lynch, Alicia Silverstone, Lance Bass, George Takei, LizFeldman, Jason Lewis, Sarah Chalke, Sophia Bush. 
(From Kirk and everyone else) 

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Coco Before Chanel Trailer Translated By A Child

The Coco Before Chanel Trailer Translated By A Child is the French trailer of the upcoming Coco Chanel movie, translated by a high school freshman. (And yes, it's almost as good as Babel Fish.  Almost.)

Video Gum explains:
"Audrey Tatou stars in an upcoming biopic of legendary fashion designer Coco Chanel called Coco Avant Chanel. The French language version of the trailer was released today, but the subtitled American version doesn't come out for a few weeks. So we asked a high school freshman with one and a half semesters of introductory French to translate it for us. Enjoy."

It cuts quickly, but if you've had even a week of French instruction you will find this delightful.

My favorite gems:
--You resembled a near woman.
--I am have enough of making me the clown!
--She you like?
--She me pleases.

She me pleases indeed. Enjoy!
(From VideoGum and Buzzfeed)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Dan Ariely: Why we think it's OK to cheat and steal (sometimes)

Dan Ariely: Why we think it's OK to cheat and steal (sometimes) is a TED talk by Behavioral Economist Dan Ariely.  He speaks broadly about irrationality, but I found the most interesting part of the talk to be the introduction about pain.  

Dan was badly burned and spent a lot of time in burn wards. Much like band-aids, except wrapped all over your body, body bandages can be ripped slowly or quickly, starting from various parts of the body. There is no consensus on how to do it best. 

Dan's nurses thought faster was better. Dan felt otherwise, but could not convince them from their gut feelings, and had no research to back it up.  Once he got well, he embarked on some semi-sadistic scientific study about pain.  He found that since the mind doesn't really take duration into account, ripping slower is actually better. Taking breaks to recuperate is best. Also, starting from high-nerve density areas such as the face, and moving on to less innervated parts such as the back, lead to a sense of improvement. 

He went back to tell his former nurses and they related how hard it is to go back on their gut feelings. But now you know, there is research. So feel free to tell all your health-field friends to rip it slow. (That's what she said, pada-chk!) 

Oh yeah, then Dan moves on to tell us that we are predictably irrational, and we all tend to cheat by a little bit, or something like that. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Wrong Cards

Wrong Cards is a website for sending e-cards. The wrong kind of e-cards for all sorts of wrong occasions.

It's by an Australian named Kris, who explains the site's raison-d'ĂȘtre:
"Our ecards are free to send, and they will always be free to send. Wrongcards is not intended for mass-appeal, nor is it intended for the mainstream. If you are reading this, you are probably not a mainstream person yourself, which is good because Wrongcards will probably work for you.

No one will be able to buy t-shirts here with clever phrases on them. No one will be able to attempt to fill up that inner emptiness by buying a hat with a Wrongcards logo. We run ads to pay for our hosting but if we wanted riches, we'd have ecards here with pictures of dogs playing poker, or kittens covered in spaghetti. But then we'd be crying ourselves to sleep each night."


(From Metafilter )

Friday, April 24, 2009

TMI Turkey and Awkward Turtle

TMI Turkey and Awkward Turtle are two ridiculous American hand gestures as explained by a frat boy. Or a Pomona-baseball-shirt-wearing dude. Same diff.

The turtle is used in awkward situations, and the turkey is for TMI moments. Personally, I'd heard of the turtle, but I think he just made up that turkey bit. I'm curiuos as to the origins of these gestures.

Also, I wonder how many people actually do this in conversation.  The only solid stats are that presently, 25,693 people have wasted their time watching this.

(From my curiosity)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Lindsay Lohan's eHarmony Profile

Lindsay Lohan's eHarmony Profile is a Funny or Die monologue by Lindsay Lohan. Yeah, it broke a couple of days ago, but I'm just now catching up.

I thought it was a cute spot.  Short, sweet, charming. Her PR person must be thrilled. "Lindsay Lohan is newly single and ready to mingle!"

(From all the gossip websites she keeps afloat)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The man who owns the Internet

The man who owns the Internet is an Internet article about the most powerful dotcom mogul you've never heard of: Kevin Ham. It's by Paul Sloan of The article is an oldie but goodie. Basically, Kevin Ham makes money off your poor spelling and typing skills. He registers those domains that are commonly mis-spelled (among others). It leads to an add-ridden site, and when people click on those ads, Kevin makes money. "If you control all the domains," Kevin says, "then you control the Internet."

An exerpt:
" The man at the top of this little-known hierarchy is Kevin Ham -- one of a handful of major-league "domainers" in the world and arguably the shrewdest and most ambitious of the lot. Even in a field filled with unusual career paths, Ham's stands out.

Trained as a family doctor, he put off medicine after discovering the riches of the Web. Since 2000 he has quietly cobbled together a portfolio of some 300,000 domains that, combined with several other ventures, generate an estimated $70 million a year in revenue. (Like all his financial details, Ham would neither confirm nor deny this figure.)

Working mostly as a solo operator, Ham has looked for every opening and exploited every angle -- even inventing a few of his own -- to expand his enterprise. Early on, he wrote software to snag expiring names on the cheap. He was one of the first to take advantage of a loophole that allows people to register a name and return it without cost after a free trial, on occasion grabbing hundreds of thousands of names in one swoop.

And what few people know is that he's also the man behind the domain world's latest scheme: profiting from traffic generated by the millions of people who mistakenly type ".cm" instead of ".com" at the end of a domain name.

Try it with almost any name you can think of --,, even -- and you'll land on a page called, a site filled with ads served up by Yahoo (Charts, Fortune 500).

Ham makes money every time someone clicks on an ad -- as does his partner in this venture, the West African country of Cameroon. Why Cameroon? It has the unforeseen good fortune of owning .cm as its country code -- just as Germany runs all names that end with .de.


Ham had no clue that there were rivals out there who were way ahead him, deploying software that purchased names at a rate that Ham's fingers couldn't match. Through registration data, he eventually traced many of those purchases to one owner: "NoName." Behind the shadowy moniker was another reclusive domain pioneer, a Chinese-born programmer named Yun Ye, who, according to people who know him, operated out of his house in Fremont, Calif.

By day Ye worked as a software developer. At night he unleashed the programs that automated domain purchases. (Ye achieved deity status among domainers in 2004 when he sold a portfolio of 100,000 names to Marchex (Charts), a Seattle-based, publicly traded search marketing firm, for $164 million. He then moved to Vancouver.)"
To find out how the story pans out, check out the rest of the article. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Truex is a website about various hipster things on the interwebs, ranging from Ad design critiques to poking fun at off-message right-wing protest signs. The postings are sporadic, but worthwhile.

The older posts contain writing samples. I especially like this one:
"Vinegar and Existentialism

April 8th, 2007

On a whim I bought some salt and vinegar flavored potato chips. “They can’t be that bad,” I thought. “People eat these all the time.” I didn’t actually try them until later that evening. The first chip went in my mouth and, though initially tasty, left a strange and chemical aftertaste in my mouth. Not entirely pleasant, that was, and I looked down at the package in my hands and decided that I should either give them away or through them out or something.

Instead, I ate another. It was just as strange as the first, and made my face pucker slightly. It almost stung, or rather tingled as if there were an active ingredient other than flavor. Picture me standing there, in front of the cupboard, asking with each chip just why I was subjecting myself to this. They were horrible! And yet I ate. Abominable! I had another. Each bite was accompanied by a silent questioning of my very existence. Why was I doing this to myself? Oh god, oh god.

Ten chips in and I realized that existentialism tastes like a salt and vinegar potato chip. I’ve yet to come to terms with this."

I myself eat existentialism all the time.  Sometimes I bust out chopsticks, so that my mouth feels the pain but my fingers don't get dirty.  If were felling clever or long-winded I would think about some corollary to the extended metaphor, but instead, I'll just stop. I digress.

The author remains elusive yet specific. He describes himself as, "My blood type is B+, I was born in the lunar year of the dog, and one time when I was a kid I had a blood vessel in one of my eyes blow out due to some medication for an infected ear. That was fun."

(From a fake newspaper)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Ban Comic Sans

I think I missed the memo but it might be Ban Comic Sans Week. 

I'm getting a lot of suggestions from everyone about it. First there was a college humor video. Back from last year

Then the Wall Street Journal (whoa) got in on it, making Page 1 of April 17th. The Boston Phoenix had earlier claimed it's NOT FUNNY.

And of course, to top it off there is a BAN COMIC SANS website.  The site calls for the eradication of Comic Sans from the face of this earth, and in doing so strives, "to ensure that future generations will be liberated from this epidemic and never suffer this scourge that is the plague of our time."  

There was a time when I could readily agree with such bold claims. Truly, I would postulate, it is the greatest plague of our time...  without having to weigh it against the severity of Vanocomycin-resistant Enterococci. Still, Comic Sans probably wins. Probably. 

(From TJ, Guy, Justine )

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Kamal Meattle: How to grow your own fresh air

Kamal Meattle: How to grow your own fresh air is a TED talk by Kamal Meattle, an environmental activist in India.  Kamal became allergic to the incredibly polluted air in New Delhi. Which is a problem, since he lives there. With the help of some researcher friends, Kamal found that with 3 species of plants, you can grow all the fresh air you need. In fact, he claims you could live in a stoppped bottle with these plants and not die from lack of air. 

Kamal's speech is very short for TED talk standards, and it is totally worth your 4 minutes and 4 seconds.  He doesn't seem comfortable talking in front of the audience, and his speech ends abruptly without much warning or segue (to the point of unintentional comedy: be the change you want to see in the world!). Nevertheless, the speech is very tightly organized, progressing linearly and logically, with beautiful pictures. The topic is incredible.

This was exactly the kind of information I was looking for 3 years ago, when I (rather paranoid) thought that the air in my apartment was too stale. My mother insisted that plants would kill me, because they release CO2. Which is true, and also proof that a little bit of knowledge can lead to massive misinterpretation about what is good or bad for you.  I wonder if this could combat sick building syndrome. My mind won't stop moving--I digress. Fantastic talk. 

Saturday, April 18, 2009

How To Nail An Interview (22 Tips)

How To Nail An Interview (22 Tips) is a webpage that should have been titled, "How to Hammer the Last Nail on Your Coffin of an Interview." It's by twitter user and Seattle resident Skipsness. The page consists of cliché tips with goofily-soundtracked videos. Absolutely delightful.

An exerpt for "Honesty is Not Always the Best Policy"

(From Metafilter)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Susan Boyle

Susan Boyle (- Singer - Britains Got Talent 2009 (With Lyrics)) is an inspirational video clip of a 47-year-old cat lady who's never been kissed singing Le Miserable's "I Dreamed a Dream."

And a story on the Huffington Post about why this is so big on the interwebs:

"But first, let me clarify the scope of her fame: Last night, my dad sent me an e-mail about her audition on Britain's Got Talent. My dad, y'all. He's a sixty year-old retiree who mostly uses the internet to play online chess and download classic rock. If he's hearing about a YouTube sensation mere days it hits the web, then it must really be something.

(1) Susan Boyle rebukes the bitchy cynicism that often defines reality talent shows.

By now, it's an unavoidable trope: The unusual-looking, weirdly-mannered outcast shambles on stage for an audition on a show like American Idol or America's Got Talent and promptly makes a fool of herself. Her embarrassment is played for tawdry laughs, and viewers are encouraged to feel superior to her and so feel better about themselves.

And obviously, the producers of Britain's Got Talent know that. They introduce Boyle with the goofy music reserved for the usual freak, and they show her talking about how she's never been kissed and how she lives with a cat. The audience audibly mocks her as soon as she takes the stage, which encourages all of us at home to sharpen our claws.

After that, her singing---which is very good, if not quite excellent--- naturally causes an uproar. We've been primed for dog food, but we get a burger, so it tastes like steak.

This narrative is just as manipulative as anything else on reality television, of course. Boyle could have been presented as a winner from the very start, but that would've ruined the drama.

But as fabricated as it is, her on-camera arc is undeniably moving.

That's partially because Boyle herself seems so lovely, but it's also because this clip enacts a story that we want to be true. No matter how much we mock those we consider beneath us, it's much more satisfying to be reminded that everyone has dignity."

(From Guy and TJ)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Storm is Gathering (Parody)

First there was this crazy NOM ad:
 And then, there was this convoluted parody:

The production values are good, but the message is all confusing-like. 

(From buzzfeed )

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Transparency: How Much Water Do You Use?

I swear I'm not posting this just because it's anti-meat propaganda, but I will admit I was secretly happy to see that beef = a horrible horrible waste of water. //

Transparency: How Much Water Do You Use? is Good Magazine's article by Fogelson-Lubliner on how to reduce your water footprint. It includes direct water usage and virtual water usage (the water used to make the things you eat or consume). Fogelson-Lubliner points out that the "difference in the amount of water it takes to produce a pound of chicken and a pound of beef is enough to fill almost two whole cars."

I'm much more of a tea person myself, and it just made me happy to see that tea is better than coffee.  Although it made me sad to see that wine is worse than beer.  The only beer I really like is Karl Strauss Woodie Gold (as opposed to most wines).  Oh San Diego, I miss you. 

(From Kottke)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Voca People

The Voca People is a Youtube video showcasing the a capella group The Voca People. In their own words, "The Voca People is an international vocal theater performance combining vocal sounds and an acapella singing with the art of modern beat-box."

In my own words, it's like they outgrew their college a capella group but kept on going. Heck yeah! I love it. They've got that weird blue-man-group costume thing going... but instead of blue, they use white. Which is either disturbing or ironic, and possibly both.

(From Guy's finding of Yes, ICantSeeYou)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sound of Music Train Station

Sound of Music Train Station is a video of a performance of the Sound of Music in a public space (train station).

Edit: more context from the Huffington Post:
"A video of almost 200 people taking over Antwerpen's Centraal Station in Belgium and doing a carefully choreographed dance to the Do Re Mi song (aka Maria's Dance aka Maria's Song) from "Sound of Music" has garnered almost a million views on YouTube, and continues to grow, sprouting a new round of google trends today.

People like viral videos, they like flash mobs, and they like weird junk on the Internet, but this video has struck an especially emotional chord with those who've watched it...It's a publicity stunt for a reality show, but that doesn't seem to bother anyone, they just like it for what it is: a really cool, well shot video, that lets average people express their joy and talent and make those around them happy for a brief period. The producers chose the exact right song: one that harkens back to our childhoods, but also recalls Maria's unabashed upbeatness in the face of evil. It's a publicity stunt for a reality show, but that doesn't seem to bother anyone, they just like it for what it is: a really cool, well shot video, that lets average people express their joy and talent and make those around them happy for a brief period. The producers chose the exact right song: one that harkens back to our childhoods, but also recalls Maria's unabashed upbeatness in the face of evil..."

(From Justine and Emily)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Philip Zimbardo: How ordinary people become monsters ... or heroes

Philip Zimbardo: How ordinary people become monsters ... or heroes is a TED talk by Philip Zimbardo,  American psychologist and professor emeritus at Stanford University.  He's a much better speaker than I'd imagined, and I had no idea he grew up poor in New York.

Zimbardo is  of course, famous for his Stanford prison experiment, where he took 24 normal college students, assigned them randomly to be prisoners or guards--which elicited sadistic behavior to such an extent that the experiment had to end early.  The key is that there is neither pure good or evil, only personality traits that can be elicited depending on circumstance.

In this talk, Zimbardo talks about how he was shocked but not surprised at the prisoner abuse that went on in Abu Ghraib, and shows [GRAPHIC, NOT SAFE FOR WORK] images that were not as widely circulated in the media.  Zimbardo states that the administration pushed the blame down on the soldiers (citing a few rotten apples), and that the soldiers stated they were just following orders. But the blame is not to be individualized, it is systemic.

Zimbardo states that if you give people power without oversight, it's a prescription for abuse. The Bush administration, via documents he presented, knew that, and let that happen. He says the abuses were going on for 3 months. Who was watching the store? Nobody. And he thinks nobody on purpose. The guards were given permission to do those things, and they knew nobody was going to come down into that dungeon.  These pictures were examples of situational and systemic vectors of disease. 

He finishes on a positive note, proposing heroism as the antidote to evil. He proposes activating the heroic imagination in all of us and celebrating ordinary heroes. This especially for children. He proposes thinking of ourselves as heroes waiting: each one of us may only have one chance in a lifetime to act heroically, so we must prepare ourselves for when the time comes. 

(From my iPod)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Is This Your Luggage

Is This Your Luggage is an artsy site by Lunalaboo, who explains the site as such:



The reason for the web site? I would really like to try to find the people who own my suitcases, so if you HAVE ANY FRIENDS WHO HAVE LOST A CASE PLEASE GET THEM TO HAVE A LOOK."

Yeah, I was put off by the giant caps as well, but the pictures are very interesting.  Plus, I love good-karma projects. Even if they are fake. 

(From Buzzfeed)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Extract (Teaser Trailer)

Extract (Teaser Trailer) is the trailer for the upcoming Mike Judge movie, "Extract." Mike did "Office Space" in 1999, which is probably the only good thing he's ever done, other than attend UCSD.  I really like both those things, so I'll give this a shot.  

According to MTV, "Judge envisions 'Extract' as an evil-twin sequel to 'Office Space,' but now it's the boss who has a bad case of the Mondays. 'He's the owner of a company that makes vanilla extract and orange extract, and that kind of thing. 'Office Space' was sympathetic to the employees, and the bosses and the managers were the a--holes. This one is sympathetic to Jason Bateman's character as the owner, and all the employees are the a--holes. ... It's another workplace comedy.' "

There you have it. 

(From BuzzFeed)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The dark side of Dubai

The dark side of Dubai is an article by Johann Hari about the slave-underclass of Dubai. This article will make you sick. If it doesn't, your soul is in desperate peril.  

I had heard about the wage based on race thing from a travel nurse before. There are so many sad labor and human rights violations mentioned I don't know where to begin expressing sorrow or outrage. Choice quotes:

"As soon as he arrived at Dubai airport, his passport was taken from him by his construction company. He has not seen it since. He was told brusquely that from now on he would be working 14-hour days in the desert heat – where western tourists are advised not to stay outside for even five minutes in summer, when it hits 55 degrees – for 500 dirhams a month (£90), less than a quarter of the wage he was promised. If you don't like it, the company told him, go home. 'But how can I go home? You have my passport, and I have no money for the ticket,' he said. 'Well, then you'd better get to work,' they replied.

Sahinal was in a panic. His family back home – his son, daughter, wife and parents – were waiting for money, excited that their boy had finally made it. But he was going to have to work for more than two years just to pay for the cost of getting here – and all to earn less than he did in Bangladesh.

He shows me his room. It is a tiny, poky, concrete cell with triple-decker bunk-beds, where he lives with 11 other men. All his belongings are piled onto his bunk: three shirts, a spare pair of trousers, and a cellphone. The room stinks, because the lavatories in the corner of the camp – holes in the ground – are backed up with excrement and clouds of black flies. There is no air conditioning or fans, so the heat is 'unbearable. You cannot sleep. All you do is sweat and scratch all night.' At the height of summer, people sleep on the floor, on the roof, anywhere where they can pray for a moment of breeze.

The water delivered to the camp in huge white containers isn't properly desalinated: it tastes of salt. 'It makes us sick, but we have nothing else to drink,' he says.

The work is 'the worst in the world,' he says. 'You have to carry 50kg bricks and blocks of cement in the worst heat imaginable ... This heat – it is like nothing else. You sweat so much you can't pee, not for days or weeks. It's like all the liquid comes out through your skin and you stink. You become dizzy and sick but you aren't allowed to stop, except for an hour in the afternoon. You know if you drop anything or slip, you could die. If you take time off sick, your wages are docked, and you are trapped here even longer.'

He is currently working on the 67th floor of a shiny new tower, where he builds upwards, into the sky, into the heat. He doesn't know its name. In his four years here, he has never seen the Dubai of tourist-fame, except as he constructs it floor-by-floor.

Is he angry? He is quiet for a long time. 'Here, nobody shows their anger. You can't. You get put in jail for a long time, then deported.' Last year, some workers went on strike after they were not given their wages for four months. The Dubai police surrounded their camps with razor-wire and water-cannons and blasted them out and back to work.

The 'ringleaders' were imprisoned. I try a different question: does Sohinal regret coming? All the men look down, awkwardly. 'How can we think about that? We are trapped. If we start to think about regrets...' He lets the sentence trail off. Eventually, another worker breaks the silence by adding: 'I miss my country, my family and my land. We can grow food in Bangladesh. Here, nothing grows. Just oil and buildings.'

Since the recession hit, they say, the electricity has been cut off in dozens of the camps, and the men have not been paid for months. Their companies have disappeared with their passports and their pay. 'We have been robbed of everything. Even if somehow we get back to Bangladesh, the loan sharks will demand we repay our loans immediately, and when we can't, we'll be sent to prison.'

This is all supposed to be illegal. Employers are meant to pay on time, never take your passport, give you breaks in the heat – but I met nobody who said it happens. Not one. These men are conned into coming and trapped into staying, with the complicity of the Dubai authorities.

Sahinal could well die out here. A British man who used to work on construction projects told me: 'There's a huge number of suicides in the camps and on the construction sites, but they're not reported. They're described as 'accidents'.' Even then, their families aren't free: they simply inherit the debts. A Human Rights Watch study found there is a 'cover-up of the true extent' of deaths from heat exhaustion, overwork and suicide, but the Indian consulate registered 971 deaths of their nationals in 2005 alone. After this figure was leaked, the consulates were told to stop counting.


 Later, in a hotel bar, I start chatting to a dyspeptic expat American who works in the cosmetics industry and is desperate to get away from these people. She says: 'All the people who couldn't succeed in their own countries end up here, and suddenly they're rich and promoted way above their abilities and bragging about how great they are. I've never met so many incompetent people in such senior positions anywhere in the world.' She adds: 'It's absolutely racist. I had Filipino girls working for me doing the same job as a European girl, and she's paid a quarter of the wages. The people who do the real work are paid next to nothing, while these incompetent managers pay themselves £40,000 a month.'

With the exception of her, one theme unites every expat I speak to: their joy at having staff to do the work that would clog their lives up Back Home. Everyone, it seems, has a maid. The maids used to be predominantly Filipino, but with the recession, Filipinos have been judged to be too expensive, so a nice Ethiopian servant girl is the latest fashionable accessory.

It is an open secret that once you hire a maid, you have absolute power over her. You take her passport – everyone does; you decide when to pay her, and when – if ever – she can take a break; and you decide who she talks to. She speaks no Arabic. She cannot escape.

In a Burger King, a Filipino girl tells me it is 'terrifying' for her to wander the malls in Dubai because Filipino maids or nannies always sneak away from the family they are with and beg her for help. 'They say – 'Please, I am being held prisoner, they don't let me call home, they make me work every waking hour seven days a week.' At first I would say – my God, I will tell the consulate, where are you staying? But they never know their address, and the consulate isn't interested. I avoid them now. I keep thinking about a woman who told me she hadn't eaten any fruit in four years. They think I have power because I can walk around on my own, but I'm powerless.'

This is not to mention the environmental disaster: 

If a recession turns into depression, Dr Raouf believes Dubai could run out of water. 'At the moment, we have financial reserves that cover bringing so much water to the middle of the desert. But if we had lower revenues – if, say, the world shifts to a source of energy other than oil...' he shakes his head. 'We will have a very big problem. Water is the main source of life. It would be a catastrophe. Dubai only has enough water to last us a week. There's almost no storage. We don't know what will happen if our supplies falter. It would be hard to survive.'


'It started like this. We began to get complaints from people using the beach. The water looked and smelled odd, and they were starting to get sick after going into it. So I wrote to the ministers of health and tourism and expected to hear back immediately – but there was nothing. Silence. I hand-delivered the letters. Still nothing.'

The water quality got worse and worse. The guests started to spot raw sewage, condoms, and used sanitary towels floating in the sea. So the hotel ordered its own water analyses from a professional company. 'They told us it was full of fecal matter and bacteria 'too numerous to count'. I had to start telling guests not to go in the water, and since they'd come on a beach holiday, as you can imagine, they were pretty pissed off.' She began to make angry posts on the expat discussion forums – and people began to figure out what was happening. Dubai had expanded so fast its sewage treatment facilities couldn't keep up. The sewage disposal trucks had to queue for three or four days at the treatment plants – so instead, they were simply drilling open the manholes and dumping the untreated sewage down them, so it flowed straight to the sea.

Suddenly, it was an open secret – and the municipal authorities finally acknowledged the problem. They said they would fine the truckers. But the water quality didn't improve: it became black and stank. 'It's got chemicals in it. I don't know what they are. But this stuff is toxic.'

She continued to complain – and started to receive anonymous phone calls. 'Stop embarassing Dubai, or your visa will be cancelled and you're out,' they said. She says: 'The expats are terrified to talk about anything. One critical comment in the newspapers and they deport you. So what am I supposed to do? Now the water is worse than ever. People are getting really sick. Eye infections, ear infections, stomach infections, rashes. Look at it!' There is faeces floating on the beach, in the shadow of one of Dubai's most famous hotels.

'What I learnt about Dubai is that the authorities don't give a toss about the environment,' she says, standing in the stench. 'They're pumping toxins into the sea, their main tourist attraction, for God's sake. If there are environmental problems in the future, I can tell you now how they will deal with them – deny it's happening, cover it up, and carry on until it's a total disaster.' As she speaks, a dust-storm blows around us, as the desert tries, slowly, insistently, to take back its land."

Bonus: ABC video coverage. A little long, so I would skip to 9 minutes 12 seconds if you're short on time. 


(From Hart)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Photofunia is a silly website by Alexey Ivanov that lets you pretend you're famous. Basically you upload a picture of your face, and it plasters it into the cover of Esquire, or on times square, or at an art gallery. You can then upload said photos to Facebook/MySpace/YourFridge and feel smug about yourself.

They explain it like this:
"PhotoFunia is an online photo editing tool that gives you a fun filled experience. You upload any photo and just wait to see the magic. Our proprietary technology automatically identifies the face in the photo and let's you add cool photo effects and create funny face photo montages.

PhotoFunia is free and very easy to use. Just select an effect you like from over 100 different effects, upload your photo, and PhotoFunia will handle the rest for you".

All the kids were doing it so I thought it was high time to post this.

(From all the kids on my lawn)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

How not to Photograph

How not to Photograph is a series on Colin Pantall's blog about some blatantly terrible and other seemingly artful photographs, and why they are ALL crap.

Much of it is snooty prose that makes any non-photographer feel like an uncultured brute for not noticing the obvious inferiority of said photographs. In other words, it's delightful.

He goes on for paragraphs and paragraphs. My favorite bitch-tastic comment:

"As Howard and Mittelmark put it: 'There was a time when a book could be sold purely because its author had been to distant climes and had returned to tell of the exotic sights he had seen. That author was Marco Polo, and the time was the thirteenth century.'


So just because you can go there doesn't mean that you should, or that your pictures will be interesting. This applies to undergraduate documentary photography students in particular. Photography is not a competition to see who can go to the most obscure destination, even if you are minted and have a trust fund. "

Ouch. Enjoy!

(From Kottke Kottke)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Malcolm Gladwell "Outliers" on Jimmy Kimmel Live

Malcolm Gladwell "Outliers" on Jimmy Kimmel Live is a self-explanatory video of an interview on the Jimmy Kimmel Live show.  Malcolm Gladwell stopped by to promote his book "Outliers" back in January.  Ok, I was really just looking for an excuse to show Malcolm talking about it. 

He describes his book as an anti-self-help book, talks about the 10-thousand-hour rule, and explains why all the best Canadian hockey players have birthdays in January, February or March. Enjoy!

Bonus: the Blink book tour talk, where he tells an anectdote about hiring musicians for the philarhamonic, sexism and job interviews. 

(From me)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

David Pogue: Cool new things you can do with your mobile phone

Cool new things you can do with your mobile phone is a TED talk by David Pogue, the New York Times Tech Columnist.  David is a sometimes funny, and always awkward. I'm not sure if it's the timing, but I feel like 2/3 of his jokes are recognized as jokes, but fall flat. The rest go well.  It's kind of uncomfortable but worth it. 

In these talks, he tends to always sing a parody song he composed himself, accompanied on the piano, and this talk ends no differently.  You can tell he really really loves Weird Al. 

Anyway this is his latest talk, and David speaks about all the neat things phones + the interwebs can do together. It was filmed in December, 2008, and just posted March 2009.  So it's still fresh, and I still found some things I didn't know about.  Enjoy!

(From my iPod)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

April Fool Funeral

According to Improv Everywhere's, April Fool Funeral article, New York's CW local news affiliate saw Improv Everywhere's "Best Funeral Ever" prank and reported it as fact:  

"If you haven’t figured it out by now, 'The Best Funeral Ever' mission was staged for April Fool’s Day. The 'family members' were all actors and friends of Improv Everywhere. Next week we will post a new report with photo and video outtakes from the day. We staged a few over-the-top moments that were just too ridiculous to keep the video believable. Our apologizes to those who were fooled into thinking we had lost our minds and done something this horrendous. If you haven’t read the comments yet, do yourself a favor and read a few. They are probably funnier than the hoax itself.

So basically the extent of [CW's] reporting is watching a video on YouTube and then describing it as fact on air. They didn’t bother to email Improv Everywhere for comment, call the cemetery to verify, or try to get a quote from the 'family.' They just watched the video and threw it on TV. Great journalism!"


Clearly, in terms of reputation as a news source, both the CW and Improv Everywhere fall somewhere between The National Enquirer and Weekly World News. So I hope this isn't the world's most meta/protracted April Fool's joke ever.  I mean, I'm not fact checking this either. And I'm just posting it. *Fingers crossed* 

Mental note: get fact-checking department. Enjoy!

(From Buzzfeed)

Friday, April 3, 2009

White People Problems

White People Problems is a humor music video by Just, wow. A natural next step after the popularity explosion of Stuff White People Like, I suppose. Also, Wes Anderson is extra white.
(From Buzzfeed)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Amazing: the Swiss even clean their mountains

April Fool's! The blog is still going. Natch!

Amazing: the Swiss even clean their mountainsAmazing: the Swiss even clean their mountains is a cute video on vimeo with very large production values for a very small joke. They explain:

The swiss do everything to make their guests’ stay in Switzerland absolutely perfect. Lately, they do even more than you would expect: Their Mountain Cleaners make sure you can always enjoy the view of clean mountains. The swiss are so thorough, I love it.


(From Buzzfeed)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Today On The Interwebs Calls It Quits

March of last year, that I had the brilliant idea of starting a DAILY, truly DAILY blog. To find one new thing per day and bring it to... me, but post it in a public forum.

Well, it's been a sweet ride, thanks for the readership and the memories. It's really just best to admit I've become too busy and too old for shenanigans such as these. 

Good night and good luck.

(From Phillip Chitwood)