Friday, June 30, 2006

No one talks about this cellphone danger

Everyone has a cellphone, right? Ten years ago, when I got my first cell phone, it was considered a luxury. People would wonder why your purse was ringing. When they would realize it was a cellphone, they would get curious or surprised or impressed. And I very rarely used it. I am not even sure why I had it, except that my kids were little and I was paranoid every time I left them. I wanted to be 'reachable' in case of any emergency. I didn't use it much because it was much more expensive than 'land lines'.

I'm not sure how or when the revolution happened. I just know that everybody has a cellphone today, and some people don't even have land lines in their homes anymore! But there is a hidden danger that no one talks about. I call it "Auto-Dial Brain Atrophy" (ADBA).

We have become so dependent on these little gadgets. We no longer have to memorize phone numbers because this little computer in our pocket does that for us. A phone book and speed dial have rendered us unable to remember seven-digit sequence of numbers. When I was a teenager, I probably had committed 20 or 30 of those numbers to memory. Of course, sometimes I would dial Betty's number when I meant to call Nancy. That would be funny, but then we'd end up laughing and talking for an hour until I realized that I still hadn't called Nancy! Good times. And when you called someone, you had to actually dial seven digits every single time (sometimes nine if they were in a different area code). The constant repetition of dialing that sequence of numbers helped implant it in your memory cells.

Now, we have a choice, we can assign those we call most frequently a 'speed dial' code, which is one or two digits (which have nothing to do with their actual phone number), or we can scroll through our phone book, find their name, and hit "Talk". It could not be easier, right?

Well, that is until you lose your phone, or you find yourself out somewhere with a dead battery and no way to retrieve that phone number when you need it.

This has happened to me. I was out, and I had to call my husband because I was going to be late. The battery on my phone was dead. Of course, one of my friends offered me the use of her phone. Except for one fucking problem - she did not have my husband's office number in her phone book! Okay, I was screwed. (Although in retrospect, it would have been worse if she had his number....)

The other day, my 18-year old son came home and couldn't find his phone. "Don't worry, Mom. It's probably in Brad's truck." "Okay, so call Brad and ask him to verify that he has your phone because if it's not there, you need to go find it."

One big problem - he didn't know Brad's phone number. So I suggested that he call his own phone because Brad would hear it. No, he wouldn't, because when they were at the movies, he had turned his phone to silent.

Ahhh..... no problem. He'll just go online and see if anyone is on AIM that has Brad's phone number. After about 15 minutes, he found someone who looked up the phone number on THEIR cellphone. And, yes, the phone was in Brad's truck.

When I was 18, I had my best friends' phone numbers stored in a hard drive that didn't require a battery - MY BRAIN. And the funny thing is, no matter what the circumstances, those numbers were always retrievable. Strange how that works, isn't it?

And over the years, land lines have contributed to the spread of ADBA because they have evolved into data centers. I replaced my land lines a couple of months ago, and now I have a phone book with an LED screen at home! Yay! I don't even have to remember the auto-dial codes anymore because my land line has a scrollable phone book!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Surfing USA........

The wonderful thing about the internet is that there is always something out there that you didn't see before. How many billions of websites are there now? So let's take a little journey, shall we?

I must warn you about this one. It is definitely not safe for viewing at work. And it's definitely not safe for viewing on a full stomach. WORLD NAKED BIKE RIDE 2006 IN SAN FRANCISCO Many of us here in flyover country will definitely be wondering what the hell is in the water in California.

Check out Post Secret. This is a fascinating, and sometimes disturbing, site. This is a project where people mail postcards to the blogger with secrets. He then adds them once a week. Check back often. It's like a trainwreck - you just can't help looking even though it's disturbing at times.

Ellis Island Passenger Search. Looking for an ancestor who came to this country through Ellis Island? This is an excellent resource.

Take a Roadtrip across America without leaving home.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Please HELP!!

Save the Internet: Click here

Do you know what net neutrality is? It means that whether you choose to use google, yahoo, or joe's search engine, each site is treated the same and delivered to you impartially.

Well, not for long. Broadband is owned by the cable companies and the telephone companies. And THEY want to charge site owners for priority handling of their websites. Amazon can afford to pay them big bucks for quick delivery to your browser. Sally's BookStop can't afford it. So they will be installing tollroads on the information superhighway. And they are getting the blessing of the government to do that!

House Ignores Public, Sells Out the Internet through Passage of COPE Act

Net Neutrality Advocates Look to Senate to Save Internet Freedom

WASHINGTON -- June 8, 2005 -- Today the US House passed the Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act (COPE) without meaningful network neutrality provisions promoted by the diverse, right-left coalition of public interest and business groups.

The 152 to 269 vote coincides with a massive lobbying effort by telephone companies to enter the national television market and prevent preservation of network neutrality requirements.

"Special interest advocates from telephone and cable companies have flooded the Congress with misinformation delivered by an army of lobbyists to undermine decades-long federal practice of prohibiting network owners from discriminating against competitors to shut out competition. Unless the Senate steps in, today's vote marks the beginning of the end of the Internet as an engine of new competition, entrepreneurship and innovation," said Consumers Union Senior Policy Analyst Jeannine Kenney.

"The American public favors an open and neutral Internet and does not want gatekeepers taxing innovation and throttling the free market," said Ben Scott, policy director for Free Press. "The House has seriously undermined access to information and democratic communication. Despite the revisionist history propagated by the telcos and their lobbyists, until last year, the Internet had always been a neutral network. It is the central reason for its overwhelming success. This issue is not about whether or not the government will regulate the Internet. It's about whether consumers or cable and phone companies will decide what services and content are available on the Net."

The grass-roots coalition backing network neutrality includes more than 700 groups, 5,000 bloggers and 800,000 individuals who have rallied in support of net neutrality at The coalition is left and right, public and private, commercial and noncommercial. Supporters of net neutrality include the Christian Coalition of America,, National Religious Broadcasters, the Service Employees International Union, the American Library Association, AARP, ACLU, and every major consumer group in the nation. It includes the founders of the Internet and hundreds of companies that do business online.

"This is not Google vs. AT&T," said Mark Cooper, Director of Research at Consumers Federation of America. "CFA has been battling to keep the phone companies from putting tollbooths on the Internet since the early 1980's, but now every business and every consumer that uses the Internet has a dog in the fight for Internet Freedom. This coalition will continue to grow, millions of Americans will add their voices, and Congress will not escape the roar of public opinion until Congress passes enforceable net neutrality."

The battle for Net Neutrality -- or Internet freedom -- now moves to the Senate, where there is significantly stronger bipartisan support. Senators Snowe (R-Maine) and Dorgan (D-N.D.) have introduced the "Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2006" that enjoys the strong support from the SaveTheInternet coalition.

What can you do? Go to ACT NOW! and sign the petition, find out how to contact your senators, and other ways. If you have a blog, link to them. Let your readers know they need to act. Time is running out.

Just do it! Thanks - I knew you would. :)

Monday, June 05, 2006

Where is Amnesty International?

Sometimes there are human rights violations that are so vile, so cruel, so incredibly horrifying that it is beyond comprehension. Where is the outrage? The sanctions? The threats of military action?

Horrifying torture in Australia!

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Sick and tired of souped-up cars with loud engines and pulsing music? Barry Manilow may be the answer.

Officials in one Sydney district have decided to pipe the American crooner's music over loudspeakers in an attempt to rid streets and car parks of hooligans whose anti-social cars and loud music annoy residents and drive customers from businesses.

Could someone explain to me what an 'anti-social car' is? It doesn't play well with others? Perhaps 'anti-social cars' are responsible for the rise in worldwide incidents of road rage. I wonder if England's Anti-Social Behavior Order law can be applied to a car?

Following a successful experiment where Bing Crosby music was used to drive teenage loiterers out of an Australian shopping center several years ago, Rockdale councilors believe Manilow is so uncool it might just work.

Or maybe they'll just turn up the volume on their own 'loud music' instead? I'm sure that someone has a subwoofer in their trunk capable of drowning out "Copacabana".

Councilor Bill Saravinovski said local authorities plan to install a loudspeaker and pipe in Manilow music, interspersed with classical pieces, over a car park favored by car "hoons," or hooligans.

"There are restaurants nearby and people can't park in the car park because they're intimidated by these hoons," Saravinovski told The Daily Telegraph newspaper Monday.

"Daggy music is one way to make the hoons leave an area because they can't stand the music," he said.

Manilow and Mozart. I believe this is a violation of the UN Human Rights Treaty. I'm sure that the security council will be convening as soon as possible.

The Oxford Concise Australian Dictionary defines "daggy" as unfashionable, or lacking style, even eccentric or stupid.

Poor Barry. Don't they know that he writes the songs the whole world sings?