Thursday, February 26, 2009

What if digital books are dumber books?

from Tom Campbell, owner of the Regulator Bookshop, Durham, N.C.:

A few years back one of my wife's graduate students did her doctoral dissertation comparing a state-of-the-art interactive website to a printed pamphlet as a means of getting health information to teenage girls. (My wife teaches health education at the UNC School of Public Health). To the student's surprise, the group of girls who got the printed pamphlet had superior results in every parameter measured. They had better recall, spent more time thinking about the information, were more likely to discuss the material with friends and changed their behavior because of what they had read more often than members of the other group.

Another peer-reviewed study from educational psychologist Karen Murphy in 2001 determined that college students reading from a screen found their reading less interesting, took new ideas less seriously and found new ideas less persuasive than students reading the same material on paper.

And in 2004, Andrew Dillon, a researcher in human-computer interaction at the University of Texas, said that "by far the most common experimental finding over the past 20 years is that silent reading from screen is significantly slower than reading from paper . . . the weight of the evidence suggests a performance deficit of between 20% and 30%."

Maybe we need to get some more peer-reviewed, in-depth research into digital readers before we risk dumbing down our children? It is possible that the better screens on devices like the Kindle might lead to better reading comprehension, but it's equally possible that better screens won't make much difference at all. Digital books just might be inherently inferior. Which would indeed represent a tipping point--but quite a different tipping point from the one the digerati are expecting.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Vote for Norman Gentle on American Idol


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

It's all that bamboo pollen


Granny panties are the new black

No, no, no, no, no.

Gender Confusion at ITAS

I've been analyzed by GenderAnalyzer and this is what they said:

We have strong indicators that is written by a woman (100%).

My dad will be so proud.

It's official. ITAS is Chronicle Books' favorite blog.

From Twitter: ChronicleBooks @icedtea_sarcasm And of course we love you too.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Tonight was the Oscars in case you were living in cave. I went to Dwight's place with the guys (and Larisa). It was a good night even though I lost the betting pool by ONE measly point. Oh well. There's always next year. Congrats to Lee who cheated his way to the win. Don't feel too guilty when you spend it. :)

Basically, the night boils down to Slumdog, Milk, and dead Heath Ledger. Yay Oscars!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Next on Tyra Banks: I hate being gay!

I read this and thought, "WTF?!" Her shows are basically underwritten by the gay community. Have you seen ANTM? Gay gay gay. Then, I watched it.

Don't be afraid. By watching this, you're not supporting any kind of anti-gay agenda or digging up some secret self-loathing. If this isn't completely fake, I'll eat my hat. But, kudos to the kid, his male organ vs. female anatomy hangups are the stuff of legend.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The 75 Cent Solution: World Hunger vs. Hot Pockets

lean pockets

President Obama signed the stimulus bill on Tuesday and committed us to spending $787 billion. Through massive infrastructure projects, tax relief, and capital injections, the administration hopes to kick our economy in the butt and get it going again. The trouble is that no one knows if it will work. They are gambling with your children's future earnings and my social security. But, I think I have a better idea on how to spend this money and achieve tangible results.

On this same night, you see, Rand and I were in the Castro Safeway. We happened to be in the frozen foods section getting some stuff for our respective lunches for the rest of the work week. While there, Rand noticed that Hot Pockets (and their more svelte cousins, Lean Pockets) were on sale for $1.49 per package. Each package, as you probably know, contains two Hot Pockets. That's $0.745 per Hot Pocket. But for sanity's sake, let's just round it to 75 cents.

Eureka, I thought. Inspiration struck me like a pint of Ben & Jerry's hurled by a crazy bum in Safeway (I'm not kidding. This could totally happen at this Safeway). "What if," I thought, while wiping Chunky Monkey off my forehead, "we took that $787 billion and bought Hot Pockets?"

Think about it.

"I'd like to teach the world to eat in perfect harmony. . .
I'd like to buy the world a snack, a Hot Pocket of love. . ."

(apologies to Coca-Cola)

According to a report released in September 2008, 923 million people across the world are going hungry. With these stimulus funds, I could allocate $852.65 to each of these starving people. At 75 cents each, I could buy each person 1136 Hot Pockets. That's three square meals a day for an entire year for every hungry person in the WORLD. Imagine that, John Lennon.

Now, I know that we would need to help out with the infrastructure a little. Hot Pockets need to be kept frozen. And they need to be microwaved. But, I think we can scrape up a couple billion to buy a few centralized freezers and at least one microwave per village. And a generator or two.

Beyond that, we will simply need to create an entirely new kind of AmeriCorp of college graduates (who have more than a passing knowledge of Hot Pockets) who can travel the world teaching people how to properly heat and eat these newly re-branded Peace Pockets.

In short, with just a little under a trillion dollars, I can eliminate hunger on Earth. For a year. Maybe longer if people can skip a meal once in a while. And during that year, they can focus on building manufacturing plants and farms and microwave ovens so that they can make their own Hot Peace Pockets. And, as god is my witness, they'll never be hungry again!!


Next stop, the Middle East. I wonder if they like Milk Duds. . . ?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


America, you let me down. RIP Tatiana.


Just now watching American Idol results

Please please please let Tatiana win!!!

Pet Shop Boys at the BRIT awards

Everyone loves PSB, right? C'mon. Even if you say you don't, you know your heart beats a little faster when "West End Girls" comes on. Their performance tonight at the BRIT awards was great. And with special guest stars Lady Gaga and Brandan Flowers, it even had something for the kiddies. Enjoy.

If you don't become a follower of this blog, I'm going to have a conniption!


It's true. You're in big trouble.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Why are you reading this instead of voting for Tatiana?!

Oh, maybe the lines are busy and you need your Tatiana fix while you wait.

Ain't she sweet?

Vote!!! 866-436-5711

Monday, February 16, 2009

We need more models in this town

Dear New Yorkers and Los Angelinos,

What's it like having these creatures prowl around your cities all day, every day? Are they the vapid, uninteresting people we normals hope they will be? Or, is the universe cruel, and they're intelligent AND beautiful. Please humor me. Tell me they're stupid. I need a cheese burger. And it looks like Reid Prebenda here could stand to have a few Big Macs and Chalupas, too.

God, I'm fat.

Chair #3

This is the Sloane chair (in leather) from Room & Board. It can also be upholstered with fabric (which might be more comfortable). I really like the lines of this chair, but I worry that the wooden arms will get beat up too easily.

When I get a little money, I buy books

This Erasmus quote fit my day perfectly. Rand and I drove to the east bay to do some browsing in the 'burbs. After we parked in one neighborhood, we were walking along and I looked down to see a little wad of cash. Expecting to find a dollar or two, I was surprised to find $17. Score!

In order to appease the karma gods, though, I decided to pass along these serendipitous funds to a local independent bookseller. So, I ducked into Diesel Books. On their new tables, I noticed this lovely book by Neruda. It's a new translation of Fin de mundo and the first time it's been translated in its entirety in English. Double score!!

Random cash + independent bookstore + poetry = the best use of unexpected cash I can think of.

What would you spend $17 on?

The Creamery is open!

Check it out at the corner of 4th and Townsend. My mocha was deelish. Here's the Yelp review.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Rainy Sunday night

It's cold and rainy today in SF, so I spent it inside movie theaters trying to catch up before the Oscars. I saw "Frost/Nixon" and "Doubt" with friends. We also had a drink at Dave's bar and food at CPK.

I think "Frost/Nixon" was probably the better movie, but I loved Meryl in "Doubt." Amy Adams not so much.

Alas, though, throughout it all was the rain. And the wind and the cold. My pant legs still feel wet. If someone can find me a full body umbrella, I'd appreciate it.

Tomorrow is Presidents' Day, and I hope everyone has a great day off. I will be doing laundry and continuing the great chair quest. Life is pure excitement.

Chair Option #2

Here's a classic leather chair that I'm considering. Do I really want a Pottery Barn chair? If it's comfortable and looks good, yes!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Chair option #1

This is the Sanna chair from Room & Board that I liked. Any thoughts?

In Search of a new chair

I need a chair. There. I said it. The first step in recovery is admitting the problem. I've needed a chair for my living room for nearly 3 years, and I've used the lack of this Platonically idealistic chair as an excuse not to invite people into my home.

So, with a refund from Uncle Sam and a bonus from my employer, I've decided it's now or never. I think I'll check our Room & Board and Sphere Designs and maybe another place or two. I just hope bean bags haven't gone out of style yet.

Friday, February 13, 2009



Are you ready for some Strong Beer?

It's Strong Beer Month at 21st Amendment, and tonight we are taking the challenge! Beers beware. Beth, Egan, Rand and I are your worst enemies. I'll attempt, as long as sobriety maintains its clammy grip on me, to live-tweet the whole thing.

Check out the Sarcastic Tweets in the sidebar or follow us @icedtea_sarcasm on Twitter.

Have a great night!

Lady Gaga and "Love Game"

Sit back, turn up the volume, and enjoy.

Tatiana Del Toro is my American Idol

It's official. No matter what, I'm voting for Tatiana on this season of American Idol. Why? She's nearly unbearable to watch: her dress, her laugh, the goddamned drama of it all. But, there you have it. It's Idol, and we need drama. And this girl has got it by the bucketful.

So, as you're watching Idol--and don't try to tell me you're not--keep Tatiana in mind and keep her number on your speed dial.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bid Farewell to Bay to Breakers

Bay to Breakers is officially over. At least, they have gone and eviscerated it. SF Gate reports that in addition to no floats and no alcohol, the rules now state NO NUDITY!! There's a reason we call it "Bare to Breakers." Just as there's a reason this thing is run in San Francisco and not Omaha. We like things to be crazy and chaotic and edgy. We like sexuality and nudity and insanity. Think Folsom, the Castro, the Haight, and Barney's on Union Square!!

I've never run B2B, and you can be sure that I'll have nothing to do with it now. If someone can't push me around in a cart while I sip Grey Goose and admire the pale nude bodies around me, what is the point?

Thanks for nothing ING.

A grey day in SF

We need the rain, but GROSS!! Come back sun!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Bjork for President in 2012

We will need her to fight off the reindeer!

What does it cost to be middle class where you live?


We like to think we're a classless society, but we know that the ever-widening gap between the rich and poor and the haves and have-nots exposes the fact that our nation has clearly defined social and economic strata. The country is so big, however, that these definitions vary from region to region, state to state, and city to city. It's possible that I could be lower-middle class on one side of the bay but middle class on the other.

A report from the Center for an Urban Future shows the struggles of the middle class in New York City. Where do you think your city fits on this graph?

I think I just threw up a little

No, wait. A lot.

What was I saying about Brazil the other day?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Saturday night in San Francisco

I'm headed to NOPA for a drink with Renee and Beth. Have a great night!

I want to go to the beach

This is a video tribute to the photographer Didio whose mission is to capture the beauty and masculinity of men in Brazil. I think he's been more than successful. Check out his sites:

Matt Alber, "End of the World"

How have I missed this particular singer and this beautiful song and video? Well, there's no time like the present. And, so, I want to share Mr. Alber with you.

Straights, eat your hearts out.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Jesus Stomped My Kitten to Death, But He Will Pay

Jesus Calderon-Franco of Redwood City pleaded no contest to felony abuse in December for killing the 4-month-old kitten named Pucci. Today, a judge sentenced him to a YEAR in jail for the stomping death and the cruelty to Pucci's 4-year-old owner. In addition to the YEAR in jail, Jesus was also sentenced to three years probation. In all likelihood, however, he will be deported after his jail sentence.

The feline murder happened on Nov. 30. Jesus, who had been drinking, became angry that the girl had drawn on the bathroom door in their apartment, Wagstaffe said. Jesus grabbed the kitten by the neck, squeezed the animal and threw it off the second-story balcony. He then went outside and stomped the kitten to death. The girl and her father were out shopping at the time. When they came home, Jesus denied doing anything to the kitten, Wagstaffe said. The girl's uncle saw the attack, however, and the father found blood on the sidewalk and the kitten dead in a nearby trash can. A necropsy revealed that Pucci had died of multiple fractures.

Now, here's my question: If stomping a defenseless kitty to death is worth a YEAR in jail, should we reassess the sentencing guidelines for all crimes in this country? I mean, I know it's a cute little kitty and all, but really? Don't some people get out of prison shortly after a year after killing a human being? Or what about Bernie Madoff? Kitten = year. Bilking billions = 9000 years. If this is the new "judgment calculus," then I think people who run red lights while I'm trying to legally cross the street deserve at least a month or two in prison--with gang members--and rats--and bad food--and Oprah.

Fight Ken Starr and protect marriage

"Fidelity": Don't Divorce... from Courage Campaign on Vimeo.

Duck! Rabbit! Poll Closed: Rabbit Wins!

The results are in. 72% of you think this creature is a rabbit. Poor duck. He gets no respect. Oh, and if you see a rabbit, you're clearly a bed-wetting underachiever with oedipal issues who probably eats hair. But, no, go ahead and keep seeing that rabbit.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

I was told there would be no math on this test

Look, it's just a difference of opinion. You say potayto, and I say potawto. I say .002 cents and you say banana.

They should post this on the Verizon job site.