Friday, December 26, 2008

Do You FaceSpace?

While Rye gave me the nudge to do a baseball post in his most recent comment on the previous post, I'm going to steer clear of that for a while (at least until the next post). There's only so many times you can complain about how much the game you love is so out of whack it makes you want to scream and shake your fist. (Awesome - my last sentence fulfilled my clause with Coovo that I'll maintain a 1-to-1 ratio between "normal" use of the word whack and "stupid" use of the word whack (description of the clause does not count, so I'm only up one, not three). Coovo doesn't like me going urban on you guys all the time for some reason.)

The purpose of this post is to explain my general attitude towards the vast number of social networking sites, the most popular being MySpace and FaceBook. Most of you know that my career revolves around web development, so one might think that I would be all over these sites. Not so much.

Probably the biggest reason I have not jumped into this pool is related to privacy. I have no desire to lay out the details of my life for the internet's consumption. I did create a FaceBook account some time ago out of curiosity. As I recall, the site wasn't of much use until you started using FaceBook applications. And to use the applications, I was immediately presented with some "let's get to know you a little better" forms that wanted to know things I didn't tell my wife until we were on our honeymoon. Like my stint in San Quentin. That was the end of my interaction with FaceBook. I understand how hippocritical this sounds, as I am expressing this complaint in a blog. But, I actually take great care not to give too many personal details in this blog. I view the blog as a fun way to try to generate discussion amongst my cool friends.

Somewhat related to privacy concerns is a lack of desire to meet new people. I suppose that if I were single, these sites would be plenty useful to me. Even as a married guy, I'm sure I could meet some interesting folks or reconnect with a longlost grade school buddy. Somehow this benefit doesn't outweigh the cost of posting all my info out there, or even reconnecting with someone with whom I don't really want to reconnect.

The last thing I'll whine about is the user interface. MySpace in particular, has to be the most poorly designed site on the internet in proportion to the size of its user base. Besides the fact that I find it visually cluttered, it's functionality is incredibly Web 1.0. If I'm listening to a song or watching a video on a user's/band's page, and see that there is a blog entry about that song/video, I should be able to read that entry without interrupting the song at all. Instead, music stops, and I'm navigated to a different page. That is incredibly, incredibly, stupid. Or perhaps better said - that shit is WHACK!

So now that I've made myself out to be an old curmudgeon who doesn't like to try anything new, I would like to hear the experiences of you all. Do you guys use MySpace, FaceBook or any other social networking site? Do you agree or disagree with anything I've said? What good or bad things have I left out? It's entirely possible that my impressions of these sites are unfair, and I could enjoy some of the benefits they offer while disabling the capabilities I griped about.

Hopefully this post will generate some discussion about this topic, and I already have a follow-on post about the aspects of social networking that I do enjoy, as well as the gaps in the current offerings that could easily be filled.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

News Nits

"All the news that's fit to reprint."

For those of us who got tattoos of Al Gore's face on our backs like Mt. Rushmore, when, after inventing the internet, he convinced us all that our polar bears would be sleeping with the fishes -- or something like that -- breathe easy! Or easier. Looks like at least our cars aren't really to blame after all. But it would be nice if Coovo would stop cooking his grilled cheese sandwiches over his coal oven.

Although there is pretty consensus evidence that the earth has warmed by just over a degree in the past 100 years (although even that has been debated by some due to changes in measuring techniques), it's still a bit of a debate as to exactly what is causing that warming and what the effects will be. But let's not actually have a discussion on this -- Guilt is the new American complex, and Fear our newest motivator.

From one computer modeler to another, take the predictions with a grain of salt.

And here's a nice little twist on an old idea. Tired of all that ink your printer uses? I know Roller is. Why not use a new font that has tiny holes in it? Apparently, you'll use about 20% less ink, and you can't even see the holes! How I love the Dutch.

The world is falling apart, right? O'Bama is Time's Man of the Year, already (should they just give it to him for the next 4?). Layoffs are adding up and most major religions are having our main celebrations coming up soon. Maybe the drop in spending will remind us what this season really is about?

When I think of China, I think of poisoned milk, cheap products and a positive, slim version of the internet. Censorship has always struck me as a weird way to go. But what do I know? "Hey China, your breath stinks! What are you gonna do about it?" (Don't worry, this will be censored.)

That's it from News Nits. Talk amongst yourselves, and be respectful... Word to your Moms.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A New Slogan

It occurred to us recently that the slogan of our site is still "Two guys on opposite ends of I-55 trying to see what happens when people stop being polite and start Bloggin'!"

Coovo's homage to The Real World was fitting for the two man team of Coovo and me. After all, MTV did put us up in this sweet blog with the only condition that we participate in contrived scenes about Coovo's addiction to Fruit Loops and my obsession with replacing 27% of his Fruit Loops with Apple Jacks. Man, the confessionals that came out of that.

Fortunately, Ryan joined us this past Spring, threw the MTV producers out on their nose rings and shaped things up around here. "First things first!" he then told Coovo and me. "No Apple Jacks in me Lucky Charms!!".

Since then it's been a honeymoon around here. But the 50% staff increase and Ryan's lack of proximity to I-55 have left the original slogan outdated. That's where you guys come in! We'd like your suggestions, and we'll throw a few of our own in, too. We'll then put a poll up, and everyone can vote on the new slogan. We'll still be keeping "The Loop And The Lou", of course, we just want a more descriptive/intelligent/ironic/satirical/dumb slogan.

The author of the winning slogan gets a secret prize, the value of which will be well worth the effort, and may or may not involve Coovo's mustache!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Newest Khardinal

Pending a physical, Khalil Greene will be the starting SS for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2009, traded from the San Diego Padres for 2 minor league relievers who've yet to be named.

For more a great breakdown of Khalil Greene's stats, check out Bernie Miklasz's Extra Points. For a look at how Greene fits into the revolving door of Cardinal Middle Infielders in the last five years, check out Derrick Goold's latest entry in his Birdland Blog.

Greene in 1000 words or less: Above-average D, good pop, strikes out a ton, can't take a walk, good 2007, awful 2008. 1-year and 6.5 mill left in his contract.

Now here's the real scoop on Greene, completely unbiased. There's just something about this guy I've never liked. Maybe it's the mullet. Maybe it's the perma-sneer he always sports. He reminds me of the kid who started smoking when he was 11. After a soccer or basketball game, you always came out with an extra Charlie Horse or two. Even if he was on your team. I can't stand that guy.

Then again, the last two mullet-headed Cardinals that I can remember have actually worked out. There was late 90's fan favorite Gary Gaetti, and of course 2006 World Series hero Jeff Weaver. Greene and Weaver are definitely competing in some kind of contest. I bet in the locker room they both complain about Mr. Hand constantly. LaRussa is going to go ballistic when Greene has a pizza delivered to the dugout.

In all seriousness, there are plenty of reasons to like or dislike this trade. He's coming off an awful year, but if he turns in 2007 numbers for 6.5 mill, that's probably a good deal. He can't take a walk, but he has good power for a SS. He has a pretty bad career Batting Average and strikes out a ton, but he's played his whole career in an extreme pitcher's park and is entering a contract year. It's very hard to evaluate the deal without knowing the 2 players the Cards traded, but ultimately I think the fact that Greene has only one year on his contract makes this a deal that has more upside than downside, and fills a hole in the lineup. It's better than giving Felipe Lopez the multi-year deal he wants.

So taken by itself, I'm fine with the deal. There's a bigger picture here, though, that frustrates me and many other Cardinal fans. This deal just reiterates the theory that ownership's plan is to keep the Cardinals just good enough to fill the seats. The Padres have made it very clear that they intend to trade Jake Peavy this off-season. The Braves and the Cubs have been rumored as potential suitors, and the rumored return packages (all prospects or cheap major-league talent) don't seem like something the Cards couldn't match. Jake Peavy is one of the best pitchers in the majors, and is under contract and under paid for the next 4 years.

Khalil Greene probably doesn't make the Cards much better or worse. Jake Peavy gets the Cards in the playoffs.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Why it matters

I just was forwarded an interesting (and tough) quiz on American civics. I think it's crucial for us as a nation to have a better understanding about our form of government (the way it was intended and the way it is now), our history and what makes us different than other nations. Without this knowledge, how can we elect responsible representatives?

Here's the quiz. It's 33 questions long, and they range from easy to hard. Take a few minutes (don't just breeze through it) to take this test. Without giving away any answers, I thought some of the following analysis of the results were interesting:

1) 2,508 people took this test and gave detailed information about themselves. 71% failed.

2) The multiple-regression analysis indicated that a person’s test score drops in proportion to the time he or she spends using certain types of passive electronic media. Talking on the phone, watching owned or rented movies, and even monitoring TV news broadcasts and documentaries diminishes a respondent’s civic literacy.

3) Actively seeking knowledge through print media and high-quality conversations has the opposite effect. Reading about history and current events in books, magazines, and newspapers—and talking about these subjects with family and friends—increases a respondent’s civic literacy.

4) The least correctly answered question was the one asking about the difference between Free Markets and Central Planning. Respondants did worse on this question than a random coin flip would have done.

5) 164 surveyed said they had held an elected office at least once in their life. Their average score was 44%. The average score for those who had never held an elected office was 49%.

Make sure to leave your score or your surprises in the comments section. I'm clearly lacking in my knowledge of political history. The more we educate each other, the more likely it will be for us to elect a group of people more like the ones who framed our country than the ones who now just take legal bribes. In spite of the modern poo-poo about our founding fathers being a bunch of white men, the were also incredibly hard working, intelligent and noble, diverse in background, education, opinion, wealth and religion. Let's keep pushing to get our Congress back towards its roots.