Monday, July 25, 2005

Even the Swiss Army is geeky

A friend once commented that the fact that Swiss Army knives included tweezers was an argument for men plucking their eyebrows (Swiss Army knives as reflecting the cultural shift to metrosexuality... though I doubt tweezers are a recent addition). Well, if Swiss Army knives do in fact augment their offerings to support all possible manly pursuits, then sitting at a computer and typing (or whatever) now fits the bill. Behold, the swissmemory 1GB (also available in 'flight' versions that don't include airport security-confiscable knives).

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

London

I know I haven't posted anything about it because current events have never really been my forte, but I did hear about the London bombings the morning they happened, and was completely shocked and saddened to hear about them, the more so in contrast with the happy announcements about the 2012 Olympics the day before. I know that was probably what the timing was supposed to accomplish, and it worked, and it's depressing to think that joyous occasions like that in the future will be slightly tainted by the fear of retribution from people who simply don't want us to be happy.

The interesting thing about these bombings, though, is that people throughout our country felt their effect, and yet we've lost no time in turning an analytical eye on what happened and what the reaction was etc. etc. There was no such dialogue (none that sounded rational, anyway) so soon after September 11th, and in the aftermath of two attacks, now, I've heard a few things that have given me pause.

The first is in how people reacted to this event. In London, public transit was shut down, but there were several stories on how people were attempting to simply carry on, walking to and from work or school instead, and getting up and doing it over again the next day. There were quotes from people who took comfort in the fact that their country had survived worse from WWII and IRA bombings. It was as if there was that sudden intake of breath from the shock of the event and then a slow exhalation, and then everything went on as it had.

And unlike what happened during the IRA bombings, our country reacted too with that same sharp intake of breath. And there are a few reasons for it: it's a major bombing in another Westernized country, one that we feel particularly close to. It was coordinated. It was unforeseen. And most of all, it could've been us. When I first heard the news, I felt a tinge of guilt. Not just because I was so sad that this had happened after a day of celebration, but because I felt they had drawn this attack because of their involvement with us. I don't follow the news closely enough (or at all, beyond what I read on Brendan's website--I'm exceptionally well-informed about Gulf Coast weather) to have sorted out what I do and don't know and what my position is, and so I take my rather vague cue from the occasional LA Times headline and Hollywood liberal conversation, and sort of think at the back of my mind that we almost deserve terrorist acts here because of the war in Iraq. (Which I disagree with upon further scrutiny, but such scrutiny doesn't always take place.)

I also ran across this editorial in the New York Times, which made me stop and think for a moment. Thomas Friedman writes that the Muslim world needs to take action in its own self-interest, or rather the interest of Muslims already living in Western societies (a vast minority: 23 million live in the EU, we'll assume the same for the U.S., and after rounding up to 50 million, that's still less than 4%). Either they need to do their own policing, or we'll do it for them, in the form of ostracizing them. While this is certainly a good plan from our perspective, I wonder if they will feel the same way. The Muslim world is hardly encouraging terrorism as it is, though I don't know if they could be said to be condoning it (I tend not to think so). Out of 1.3 billion people, no matter how strongly the Islamic culture discourages it, you're still going to get a few who disagree, and unfortunately, that's all it takes.

On a somewhat unrelated note: Oliver Stone is making a movie about September 11th. I know I wasn't as profoundly affected by 9/11 as some, and even I feel that this is offensive. I don't care who the director is (and there are plenty who feel Stone is a particularly bad choice), the scope of that day cannot be captured in a two-hour film starring Nicholas Cage and the attempt to do so cheapens it and that is unacceptable.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Blog + Job search = More Job Searching

I finally got back to my good ol' web surfing habits (I should really click on the links in my sidebar more often, there's a reason I put them there in the first place) and found this article on job searchers with blogs, this one written from the employer's perspective. I've written on this before because I found the idea of one's online activity affecting one's offline activity to be an interesting one: people frequently feel freed to act how they want online simply because they assume there's no connection between those two worlds unless it's specifically created, in which case they believe they have control over it. Also I thought it more than usually relevant to me. But this particular article does an excellent job of outlining why blogs are a liability for those looking for a job. It's written by a professor on a committee looking to hire a new faculty member (pay attention Tom). Since blogs are gaining in popularity, academia is probably reflecting that in disproportionate amounts, and a number of the job candidates had blogs. No one was eliminated due to the blog alone, but they got dinged for any one of the following reasons:
  • They revealed an intense interest in something other than what they were being hired for, thus raising questions of loyalty and investment
  • They pose the potential threat of indiscretion in a public forum that could adversely affect the department or institution
  • They show evidence (or are linked to by a friend's blog that shows evidence) of previous questionable activities
  • They simply provide too much information about the candidate's personal life. Favorite quote:
    "It would never occur to the committee to ask what a candidate thinks about certain people's choice of fashion or body adornment, which countries we should invade, what should be done to drivers who refuse to get out of the passing lane, what constitutes a real man, or how the recovery process from one's childhood traumas is going. But since the applicant elaborated on many topics like those, we were all ears."
I think that last bullet is the most interesting, and most indicative of the split between online and offline. In the offline interview process, there are certain rules that must be adhered to. One must put one's best foot forward and hide everything else until the relationship has reached a point where it becomes appropriate to share more: so it is with most human interactions. It's thought of as rude, or gauche, or downright weird to share more about yourself than those with whom you're sharing this information are willing to share themselves, or even listen to in the first place. And yet online, many feel at liberty to ignore this convention and give free rein to, if not all, then a fair number of the thoughts that enter their head. But perhaps this is something that needs to change, unless one is conscientious enough to make sure that the divide between online and offline is complete.

In my own case, what I write here is far from uncensored because I know who's reading: it's not the anonymous internet user (for the most part), but friends and family. And that kind of self-censorship is even less restricting than that of people who have more than three readers, like Brendan or Chris, whose blogs are well-known and regularly read in their circles. You have to decide where the line is and make sure you don't cross it, and then hope that you picked the right place. As soon as I found out that a potential employer and some fellow students had found my blog, it led to a sudden reevaluation of the kinds of things I was posting. And then another when I told my family about it when I was going abroad. And I still live in fear of people I know now who don't know that I have a blog suddenly becoming as dorky as I am and googling my name and finding it. Those recent job-related posts have certainly been borderline with regards to TMI. Somehow I tend not to think of them as such because they don't seem to resemble the middle school diary-esque minutiae that attempts to answer very limited questions, like "Why doesn't Mark like me?" (answer: he probably likes Kimberley, I saw them talking and she's so much prettier than me and it's not fair cuz he's soooo cute) and "Why was Stephanie mean to me today?" (answer: Because everybody's mean. The world is mean. Everybody hates me. No one understands me. Except you, Diary.) Then again, I also think I was an exceptionally mature middle schooler. I suppose these things are open to interpretation.

Friday, July 08, 2005

iPod Flea

I know there's other stuff going on in the world, but as a marketing geek, I just had to share this, which is the funniest thing I've seen all day.

Whole27: Recap

So we didn't quite make it 30 days. On Thursday, we looked at the prospect of a dry Memorial Day weekend (and the Friday leading up to i...