Drilling into our wallets

ExxonMobil reported a profit last quarter of $11,700,000,000. Profit, not revenues. So far this year they’ve made more in profit than it cost for the entire Apollo series of moon landings. How does this jibe with the idea that gas prices are so high due to oil prices and demand?

It’s all about location

I’m watching CNN, where they are in full BREAKING NEWS mode over the moderate 5.4 earthquake 30 miles east Los Angeles. The media are breathlessly trying to tease some exciting information out of the USGS spokesperson, but there’s simply nothing interesting, and no damage to tell of in a 5.4.

The reporters are reporting that life is normal, people are going to restaurants, etc… and they’re doing it in a way that makes it seem like these are resilient people bouncing back after an enormous disaster. They’re flying helicopters over the hills desperately looking for evidence, damage, anything. Reporters are running around looking for any kind of story. “I saw some broken glass,” says one contributor to CNN. Quick, get that guy in the studio for a live interview!

It’s hilarious watching these reporters trying to make nothing sound like something. Making a big deal out of a water main break, like they’d never seen one before and didn’t realize that yes, pavement buckles when the water gushes up. Wondering if officials are going to tell people what areas to avoid, and then finally showing shots of undamaged freeways while telling us about the potential for damage in earthquakes.

Last October we had a 5.6 seven miles east of San Jose, the third largest city in California. The media virtually ignored it. There were no panicked reporters roaming the street looking for damage, no helicopters peering at the epicenter in the hills, no live team coverage or weird commentary about how we “weathered this really well.” I can only assume that this is because there is no CNN bureau here, no big media companies headquartered here.

Or because San Jose simply isn’t as dramatic as Los Angeles.

Perhaps a life makeover would be more useful

This is pretty much how I imagine the outcome every time I watch “Extreme Makeover Home Edition”:

LAKE CITY, Ga.—More than 1,800 people showed up to help ABC’s “Extreme Makeover” team demolish a family’s decrepit home and replace it with a sparkling, four-bedroom mini-mansion in 2005.

Three years later, the reality TV show’s most ambitious project at the time has become the latest victim of the foreclosure crisis.

After the Harper family used the two-story home as collateral for a $450,000 loan, it’s set to go to auction on the steps of the Clayton County Courthouse Aug. 5. The couple did not return phone calls Monday, but told WSB-TV they received the loan for a construction business that failed.

Materials and labor were donated for the home, which would have cost about $450,000 to build. Beazer Homes’ employees and company partners also raised $250,000 in contributions for the family, including scholarships for the couple’s three children and a home maintenance fund.

ABC said in a statement that it advises each family to consult a financial planner after they get their new home. “Ultimately, financial matters are personal, and we work to respect the privacy of the families,” the network said.

Some of the volunteers who helped build the home were less than thrilled about the family’s financial decisions.

“It’s aggravating. It just makes you mad. You do that much work, and they just squander it,” Lake City Mayor Willie Oswalt, who helped vault a massive beam into place in the Harper’s living room, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. [AP via Mercury News]

What annoys me is the way the media depersonalizes this sort of thing by saying they are a “victim of the foreclosure crisis.” In this case, they were definitely not victims, and the foreclosure crisis is not some external force like a hurricane, it’s the result of poor choices. These people had an incredible gift but they failed to protect it. I can certainly understand the courage it takes to decide to open your own business but in this case, they risked everything and lost. Whatever happened to fiscal restraint? Making sure that your family has a safe, stable home would seem to be the first step for many people. I don’t want to judge the families in EMHE because the majority of them seem to do a lot for their community. But it might be worth pointing out that each and every one of them lived in squalid, run down houses that they never had the resources to make safe or even livable. And I’m not talking about the roof and the water damage and the floors — most of the time when I watch this show, the people are living in dirty cluttered houses — cleaning the house up and throwing away the crap piled in corners doesn’t cost you anything but time.
How would they have the resources to keep a multi-million dollar mansion safe and livable? These may be good hearted people, but they obviously don’t have a clue about responsibility and planning for the future.

Man, I am a snotty bastard, aren’t I?

Mathematics is for eggheads

No matter how many times I’ve watched this since I was a kid, I still don’t grasp a lot of math. Still, it’s one of my favorite Disney films…

Ringtones: My Collection

As you’ve guessed from the… well, eclectic nature of the sounds collected here, I’ve got some unique ringtones on my iPhone. I found them all here and there on the internet, most of them are from the actual owners who’ve posted them in one form or another on the web. So, I’ll share.


There it is, my new old phone and my old new phone. 1937 meets 2007. A meeting of two eras; circa the year my house was built and today.

A quick precis

You know, I used to blog every day, sometimes more than once a day. Chatty, chatty, chatty; always had something to whine about.
Well, I still always have something to whine about — in fact, it’s that incessant whining that is taking up so much of my time that I never have a chance to blog these days.
So, let’s get caught up on what’s been going on in the last five days.

  • Craziness at work
  • Went out with a cute guy
  • 90% finished digitally mastering 103 short films for the DC Shorts Film Festival
  • Insanity at work
  • Subscribed to the Mercury News and the SF Chronicle, only had time to read one of them last Saturday, so that’s money well spent
  • Saw that cute guy again
  • Worked on the first 40 seconds of the DC Shorts opening title graphics, which always seem to tax both my computer processors and my time
  • Absolute barking madness at work
  • Planted new roses in the backyard
  • Joined Loopt despite the privacy implications; please don’t stalk me
  • Met Jann & Mike’s wedding officiant, she is a real-life Vicar of Dibley
  • Pruned old roses in the front yard
  • Realized that my office is ripe for workplace violence of some sort, probably emotional

And now you’re up to date.

iPhone 3G Impressions

Trust me, I’m pretty much over the iPhone hype — except for this 1,400 word entry all about it.

To 3G or not to 3G

There are many pros and cons associated with switching to a 3G iPhone, making the decision fraught with anxiety. Only in America do weirdos like me agonize over buying a telephone. Let’s make a list, as I am wont to do when making a decision of this enormous, earth-shattering magnitude.

I guess I have a dirty mind

Is it just me, or is that the dirtiest headline ever?

Isn’t it great having a frat boy as president?

From the Telegraph:

The American leader, who has been condemned throughout his presidency for failing to tackle climate change, ended a private meeting with the words: “Goodbye from the world’s biggest polluter.”

He then punched the air while grinning widely, as the rest of those present including Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy looked on in shock.

Mr Bush, whose second and final term as President ends at the end of the year, then left the meeting at the Windsor Hotel in Hokkaido where the leaders of the world’s richest nations had been discussing new targets to cut carbon emissions.

Amazing. Real news sounds more and more like The Onion these days.
And this comes after the earlier faux pas:

Mr Bush also faced criticism at the summit after Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian Prime Minister, was described in the White House press pack given to journalists as one of the “most controversial leaders in the history of a country known for government corruption and vice”.

The White House apologised for what it called “sloppy work” and said an official had simply lifted the characterisation from the internet without reading it.

When I first heard that story, it was teased on the radio with “An embarrassing moment today at the G8 summit…” and I immediately knew it was something to do with Bush.

Fun with screenshots

There I go again, always proofreading. I guess that Apple was in such a tizzy over the last two days that fixing typos is not high on their list right now.