Category: World

My Best Worst Website Ideas

By , August 24, 2011

All the talk of late has been speculation as to whether another tech bubble is in the works. If so, there are no doubt dozens of venture capitalists running amok, eager to throw money at anyone with an idea for a website. Since I’m not the techie type, I’ll never get my hands on any of that money, but here are some ideas I’ve had of late for terrible web pages. I hereby donate them to anyone who wants them– go ahead and get rich with ’em if you can. It’s on me.

1. Bad Dating Site– Are you and your significant other constantly fighting? Beating one another? Cheating? This is the site for you! Monitor just how bad it is using our advanced in-site metrics. Share your lack of progress towards happiness with your friends using graphs and counters on your profile page. Proudly display “THIS RELATIONSHIP HAS GONE XXX DAYS WITHOUT AN INFIDELITY” and watch as the number grows each day, or resets to zero when you finally lose the will to resist your secretary’s advances.

2. Fiendbook– Are you embarrassed by your profile pic on the local law enforcement agency’s web page? Imagine Megan’s Law, but with social networking functionality! Interact with other criminals to boost your sphere of influence, and garner new partners-in-crime at the same time. Maybe you’re planning a bank heist and need a getaway driver. A simple search on our page is all you need. Or are you looking for the scoop on potential victims? Which local child is most prone to fall for the “lost puppy” scam, and which will eagerly hop into a windowless van if candy is promised? What area widow is poised to part with her former husband’s vast fortune? Does the owner of that corner market keep a gun behind the register, or can you waltz in with impunity and rob the joint? At last, a site that has the answers you seek.

3. Geolocation for Drug Dealers– If you sell illegal drugs, or merely use them, you will be interested in what we are offering. No longer will you have to stand for hours on the corner peddling heroin to junkies craving crack. Likewise, the days of being forced to smoke angel dust because you couldn’t locate the LSD you sought are over. Dealers can check in using our app on any GPS-enabled mobile phone and list what they have to offer. Users then know exactly where to go for what they need. It’s a win-win. As a built-in security feature, you have to answer the question “are you a police officer?” with a “no” before being allowed to log in.

4. Rate-A-Hooker– We borrowed some functionality from the above drug dealer app to enable prostitutes to check in at the street corner of their choice, but the real winner here is the John. Thanks to crowdsourcing, you no longer have to wonder “how much?” or “is she any good?” That’s right, once you’ve used her, you the user can rate and review her. Was she a five-star experience, or did her service seem lacking? What are her normal working hours? Does she have any diseases? No more guesswork for you, and no more disappointing “dates.” Special log-in section for pimps allows them to offer daily deals, group rates, or whatever specials they’re running, as well as track their hoes and make sure they’re out there earning that money.

5. Puppies2you.com– Everyone loves a puppy! But what’s the one problem with a puppy? That’s right, it grows up to be a dog. No one wants a dog! Puppies are so cute and funny and tiny and fluffy and omg they are just the best. Dogs are just kind of there. Worse, there are so many kinds of dogs, who wants to be stuck with just one breed for a decade or more? Fear not, for puppies2you.com is here to make everything better. Once a user signs up for our service, an adorable puppy is delivered to his or her door. A month later, we return with a new puppy of a different breed, selected by the user, to replace the old puppy. The returned puppy is taken out to our custom-built van, euthanized, and chopped into the new puppy’s first meal. That’s right, we recycle the old, unwanted puppy. We’re a green business! Everyone wins with puppies2you.com!

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Games of Nonchalance

By , May 13, 2010

The pay phone is ringing as you reach it, so you quickly answer. The voice on the other end is instantly recognizable as that of Commander 14. He instructs you to begin dancing, and so you dance. From nowhere a breakdancer appears, boom box in hand, and dances with you. Things get really weird when Bigfoot turns the corner and joins the dance. After a few moments, Bigfoot hands you your next clue and he, and the breakdancer, quickly saunter away.

What just happened? How did you end up here? Who is Eva, and where has she gone? Is Octavio Coleman, esq. behind her disappearance? And just where *does* one acquire hobo coinage??? Your quest begins on the 16th floor of 580 California Street in San Francisco.

I want to say so much more, but I cannot. I’ll simply tell you that some time ago a mysterious cult invited me to a free orientation session. Once inducted, I began to notice the divine occurring all around me in a thousand miniscule ways. Soon thereafter, via encoded transmissions from another realm, the Elsewhere Public Works Agency enlisted my help in their ongoing battle against the Jejune Institute, perpetrators of “False Nonchalance.”

If this sounds amazing to you (and believe me, it is amazing), and you are in the Bay Area, visit the Jejune Institute and begin your journey down the rabbit hole.

Whatever you do, and no matter how difficult it may be to resist, do not search for details about any of this. This is probably the funnest way a person can spend an afternoon (or three) San Francisco, for free by the way, and knowing what is coming ahead of time will ruin the entire experience. Googling it before doing it is akin to working a crossword puzzle with the solution in front of you– boring and pointless. Trust me on this. Now go have some fun.

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Stardust

By , February 7, 2010

Astronomer Geoffrey Burbidge died recently. I must confess that I’d never heard of him until I read his obituary in today’s paper. His renown came from a 1957 paper in which he put forth the notion that all life can be traced to stardust.

Currently Playing: Artie Shaw – Stardust

I really, really like this idea. I can’t pretend to understand a word of it, but it has something to do with ancient stars burning hydrogen, helium, and lithium, producing heavier elements like oxygen and carbon, then exploding these newly minted atoms into space where they mixed with cosmic dust, and formed new stars. Those new stars became old stars, exploded, seeded the universe further, and eventually the universe became enriched with heavier elements that ended up on planets and inside people like you and me.

Burbidges longtime friend, Allan Sandage of Carnegie Observatories, explained it in a far more poetic fashion: “Every one of our chemical elements was once inside a star. The same star. You and I are brothers. We came from the same supernova.”

I feel better about myself already. I’m made of stardust? Wow! Today will definitely be a good day. Dare I say it will be… stellar? How can’t it be? I woke up thinking I was a combination of gin, coffee, and Cesar’s tapas; we are what we eat, after all. Now I’m about to take a shower and face the world armed with the knowledge that I’m powered by the remnants of a supernova.

Hell yeah. Bring it on, world…

.

Even Galactus is only made of planets.

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An iPad in My Pad? Not Likely.

By , January 27, 2010

Although I moved last June, work and personal concerns delayed the process of turning my (ware)house into a home. Only recently have I accomplished such basic tasks as setting up the kitchen, and am still unpacking some boxes. One thing I finally got around to doing was subscribing to a newspaper. Today my subscription to the New York Times began. Coincidentally, Apple today introduced their latest device, the iPad, which is meant to replace, among other things, the daily printed newspaper.

As I was enjoying the tranquility of reading a home-delivered newspaper for the first time in years (I haven’t had such service since my pre-homeless days), my temporary roommate/ long-term couch resident Chris was watching online videos touting the iPad. At that moment, it struck me– the experience of reading a paper online, be it via laptop, mobile phone, or, now, iPad, will never, in my mind, come remotely close to that of reading a physical newspaper. I can only speak for myself in this regard, and perhaps today is the day I officially became “old,” but when I read news online, I spend perhaps three to five minutes skimming one or two articles, then stop. I don’t enjoy the experience very much, I don’t absorb very much information, and I don’t find the format at all conducive to fostering meaningful thought or deep interest in any of the reported topics.

Conversely, when I read a physical newspaper, I do so with undistracted focus. That 30 minutes to an hour, the amount of time I typically spend engrossed in a printed copy of the New York Times, culminates not only in edification, but in a desire on my part to learn further, or to take action regarding a matter that concerns me. As an added plus, after reading the paper, I solve the crossword puzzle. Depending upon the day of the week that can take anywhere from an additional five minutes (on Monday) to an hour (Saturday) to do, and is hands down the highlight of the newspaper experience for me. I have tried working online crossword puzzles, but don’t enjoy them. Unless I can put pen (yes, I’m on of those) to paper, I lose interest; also, I like to carry the folded puzzle around with me, especially a Saturday or Sunday puzzle, and solve it in bits and pieces throughout the day.

Friends argue that online you can get news immediately. I counter with, who cares? I’m not insensitive to the plight of the people of Haiti, to take a current news story, but I don’t really care enough to need a constant stream of information regarding the aftermath of the earthquake there. If I had friends or family there, sure I’d care deeply– and I could follow that particular story closely via radio news or the internet. For the most part, I’m content to read the news each morning, and don’t care that it is not up-to-the-minute current. When Al-Qaeda blows up Mount Rushmore, sure, I’ll be glued to my computer screen like everyone else, but until then I’m content to wait a day to learn what is happening around the world.

I am of the opinion that age is a mere number, virtually meaningless in describing a person. I’ve known 20 year-olds who looked and acted as if they were in their late 30s, and 40 year-olds who were as active and vibrant as teens. Perhaps my lack of interest in the iPad, and conviction that a “real” newspaper is irreplaceable by any digital counterpart, is a sign that I have, at least in some regard, leapt from my mental 20s directly into my mental 60s. It is not the first time in my life I have eschewed some technological advancement, and instead preferred a medium deemed archaic (records v. CDs, for example), but it’s definitely the first time I’ve found the modern incarnation to be of utterly no use to me. I may not be at curmudgeon status yet, but I am starting to feel I’m a hair’s breadth and a cocktail away from becoming a latter day W.C. Fields. I acknowledge that the day is coming when a printed newspaper will be no more, and have already seen signs in the degradation of the quality of information contained therein, but until that day comes, I’ll start each day in my kitchen, with a cup of coffee and a black and white newsprint hardcopy of the New York Times.

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Suede Reunion for Charity Gig Confirmed

By , January 17, 2010

The marble clock has stopped. The curtained sun
Burns on: the room grows hot. There, it appears,
A vase of flowers has spilt, and soaked away.
The only sound heard is the sound of tears.

So, I’m going to London in March. I don’t know precisely, when, and I won’t know until Suede announces the date of their one-off reunion concert. That’s right, my favorite band is reuniting for one show at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

Suede

Sadly, Bernard Butler won’t be a part of this. The other three original members will be on stage, as well as Neil Codling and Richard Oakes, who joined the band after Butler’s departure.

I am excited beyond description, even more so than when I planned a trip to Paris around Jarvis Cocker’s first solo gig. That wasn’t Pulp, my other favorite band, it was just Cocker; this is the actual Suede, a band I have never had the chance to see live. Attending a Suede reunion show has long been my dream, and it seems about to become a reality.

I’d be remiss if I did not note that the proceeds from the show are being donated to the Teenage Cancer Trust.

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Online Dating

By , February 14, 2005

Most afternoons during lunch I read the San Francisco Chronicle. Most likely because today is Valentine’s Day, today’s business section focused on the phenomenon of online dating. I was amazed to read that millions of people worldwide are turning to internet dating sites in hopes of finding love. I won’t lie– I laughed when I read that; then I stopped to ponder the more serious aspects of such a thing.

My first thought was that the most desirable people are not searching for their mates online. Online dating is something of a last resort– nobody starts there; people only turn to the internet when they find their physical appearance and/ or social skills are not such that they are able to find partners in the real world. More than that, people with interesting and fulfilling lives are out living them, not sitting in front of a computer searching for like-minded soul mates. Someone worth dating, and possibly even marrying, isn’t going to be so desperate for love that they run personal ads online. Such people have too many suitors as it is– they certainly aren’t going to waste their time trying to find any more on the internet.

Someone searching for matches online is basically dredging the bottom of the dating pool in hopes of landing a passable catch. Meanwhile, plenty of interesting, active people are coming and going every day, people our internet daters could pursue. Instead, they interact online with the other people who likely share the same common traits: a lack of self-confidence, an inability to make social contact in face-to-face situations, an addiction to the internet, and a willingness to settle for less than the best; in short: hardly an ideal mate.

Just today, while walking to my aforementioned lunch, I encountered a girl standing next to me at a crosswalk. It was raining, and she had no umbrella. I only saw the back of her head at first, but on reflex I shielded her with my umbrella. She was polite and thankful, and we walked the next block together until I arrived at my chosen luncheon spot (La Fiesta). During that block walk we chatted a bit. As it turned out the front of her head was even cuter than the back of it, and were I single and looking for a date or a girlfriend or what have you, I’d have asked her for her phone number. I relate that story to illustrate only the most recent opportunity I had to meet someone, but that’s neither here nor there. What matters is the moral to the story: there is no shortage of fun, attractive, single people in this world. Said moral leads nicely into Today’s Question: Why would anyone sift through the anonymous, unwanted masses online when a world full of real, live, desirable people is just outside his or her door?

The Chronicle article had all manner of losers at the bottom of the page relating their online dating horror stories. One poor fellow admitted that he flew all the way to Thailand, only to find that his soul mate was dating multiple men she had met online. Oddly, this seemed to surprise him. You’d think anyone willing to fly to Thailand of all places just to meet a woman would be used to facing such disappointments and embarrassments on a daily basis.

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Wireless Fidelity

By , January 25, 2005

Have I written before about how wonderful the wireless age is?

I’m now sitting in a Starbucks cafe in San Francisco. With my T-Mobile wireless account I can get online at any Starbucks or Kinko’s, as well as any major airport. I’ve been able to check e-mail in El Paso and post to my journal from New York City. Good stuff.

There really seems to be no limit to what one can do these days. Things like real-time chat, and even voice or video chat, are the norm anymore, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. From this little table in a cafe I can broadcast my streaming radio station, and thanks to the miracle of software I can mix it turntable-style, live, using only my Powerbook. I can snap pictures or take video clips with my mobile phone, use Bluetooth to instantly upload them to the computer, and share them with the world mere moments after they were taken.

When I was a kid my (much) older brother was in England earning his master’s degree. Perhaps once or twice a month we’d receive a letter from him, and we’d respond just as often. International phone calls were just too expensive to warrant more than one or two calls per term. Were he going to school in England today, we could communicate, for free, using iChat. We could see one another, again for free, using a webcam. Yet, neither of those things seems even remotely amazing– in the short time such forms of communication have existed they have become commonplace and pedestrian. Who knows what we’ll be able to do wirelessly in another 10 or 20 years, but odds are we’ll take whatever it is for granted in much the same way.

I just answered a phone call. I forward my 800 Number to my mobile phone, so anyone, anywhere in the U.S.A., can reach me for free no matter where I am. This time, it was a woman who had searched Google for a party planner and found me. She hired me on the spot to provide a casino, DJ, and clown for a party she is hosting.

Wireless life rocks.

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Reading

By , September 20, 2004

The National Endowment for the Arts reported that the average American now spends about 24 minutes per day reading; and that includes newspapers, TV guide, recipes… everything. Worse, that same, average American watches over four hours of television each day.

My first reaction to this was dismay– how awful that Americans are such illiterate couch potatoes. It quickly turned to guilt. I don’t watch any television. That means somewhere out there exists some poor s.o.b. that I have doomed to watching EIGHT hours of TV every day. That poor guy! I envision him struggling to fit it all in to his day while still making it to work on time, sleeping, and trying to maintain some semblance of a social life.

I felt even worse when I factored in how much I read each day. I spend several hours reading. That means he not only has to endure those 8 hours of television, he doesn’t even get to read at all. Maybe he has to sit and write for like 2 hours and 36 minutes a day, just to make up for my voracious reading habits. He can’t even read the back of his cereal box in the morning, assuming he even has the time to eat breakfast. Wherever you are buddy– I’m sorry.

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Crush at First Glance?

By , May 9, 2004

Okay readers and fellow bloggers, what do we make of love at first sight? I’ll go first! Love exists on many levels, and can mean many different things. When I say that I am in love with my girlfriend, I mean something far different than when I say I love waffles, which in turn is different than the love I may profess for a close friend or relative.

When judged by the “in love with you” standard, the concept of love at first sight seems absurd. The former, the in love love as it were, is the culmination of a long process of getting to know all about another person while at the same time sharing with them your innermost workings. In other words, it’s all hella deep and stuff. Meanwhile, love at first sight is a different flavor of animal; it’s the hazelnut giraffe of the love world, if you follow my meaning. It is the perfect stranger, perhaps only seen for a few moments, but remembered years later– maybe even someone never spoken to or even met, but someone with such beauty and/ or grace that they remain a part of your heart’s history.

I’m kind of blogging out of my ass right now, because I honestly have never yet encountered a hazelnut giraffe, whatever the hell that means. Today’s Question: Have you?

(I began this blog with the intent of saying something along the lines of “love at first sight is kind of like having a crush on someone on account of they are pretty, and then you try to get to know them better,” but the hazelnut giraffe part sounded to good to delete. Plus it is almost 5:00 am.)

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Online v. Real Life

By , May 3, 2004

During the week, I work at home. The benefits of this are numerous, but one of the drawbacks is that I have no co-workers. As I have never had a regular nine to five job I don’t necessarily miss having workmates, but I do notice that my peers all have them. One thing that I do to simulate interpersonal interaction during my workday is AIM chat. I keep AIM running during the day, and every now and then a chat buddy will send me a message and we’ll converse a bit; this makes for a nice distraction. Some friends I chat with almost daily, others but once or twice per month, if that. In all, I have 19 people on my buddy list, 16 of which are friends I know in my day to day life. The other three are people I only know through AIM.

Yes, I know three “people from the internet.” And yes, I know there is a stigma attached to having met someone online. People even refer to it as “online” vs. “real life,” as though things you say or do in chat don’t count, or take place in some kind of netherworld. I don’t understand the distinction. Pretty much everyone is online these days. People who defend the distinction are quick to point out that someone can pretend to be someone else online, or only put forth their best side, but how is that different than what people do face to face? If you meet someone at a bar, library, cafe, park, or any other supposedly “safe” meeting place, who is to say they aren’t putting on an act for you? Furthermore, those same people are likely online. Are they safe to their in-person friends but dangerous to their chat buddies?

The reason I’m writing about this is because just the other night one of my three internet-only friends (who, by the way, initiated our online friendship) decided that, since we don’t know one another in “real life,” we should cease chatting. Now, I have no problem with someone telling me “Peasprout, you are boring,” or “Peasprout you are always lurking outside my window with a big axe” as valid reasons not to be chat friends, but come on– in this day and age, when both George W. Bush and John Kerry have Friendster accounts, I think it’s a given that most of the world is online.

I imagine you could see it coming a mile away, but here is Today’s Question: Do you think meeting someone online is just as viable, and respectable, a way of making a new friend as meeting someone in person? My answer is pretty clear, but I’ll spell it out. I think that the internet is a great way to meet and interact with countless people with whom you would never have had the chance to interact in the past. Blogging is a perfect example of a place where strangers from around the world can come into contact with one another, and friendships based on similar, or opposing, interests or beliefs can flourish. You’re shooting yourself in the foot if you limit your friends to people you only originally encounter in person. A great friend, or maybe even the love of your life, may never be at your favorite cafe at the same time as you, but he or she just may be in the next chat room over. You owe it to yourself to go take a peek.

In case the aforementioned chat buddy is reading this, I want to be sure to clarify that I am neither bitter nor bothered or anything along those lines. I understand and respect other people’s feelings; her announcement merely made for a good blog topic. Alfred Hitchcock would refer to her as the maguffin of today’s post.

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