July 29, 2008

Illi wnt 2 mak txt-walk illegal

Posted in News tagged , , , , , at 1:28 pm by Katharine Lackey

Some can talk the talk. Others can walk the walk. But apparently, its extremely hard to text and walk. In my daily news roundup yesterday, I wrote about a Chicago Sun-Times article about how dangerous texting while walking can be.

In January, Illinois State Rep. Ken Dunkin, introduced legislation that would fine residents $25 and a misdemeanor if caught using a cell phone while traversing streets.

“This legislation is not laughable. On the surface it’s like, ‘Oh wow, what is this?’ But it’s becoming more and more of a common problem with people haplessly crossing an intersection and almost killing themselves.”

Research has shown that while the brain has the ability to multitask and text-walk, it’s a delicate balancing act. A number of people nationwide have apparently been killed while text-walking and young adults are frequently seen for injuries after text-walking into something or someone.

While the bill has good intentions, its language may need updating — does it ban anyone from using a cell phone in any regards when crossing the street? Or just it just ban text-walking while crossing streets?


Extreme Foreclosure

Posted in News tagged , , , at 12:57 pm by Katharine Lackey

One of the massive homes built by Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is going into foreclosure, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The Harper family took out a $450,000 loan using the house, which was built in January 2005, as collateral for a failed construction business.

Nearly 1,800 community members helped build the home, the largest Extreme Makeover had constructed, and raised $250,000 for the family to pay for their children’s college as well as home maintenance.

“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.

I’ve watched the show a few times and I always like when they help out families in desperate need of assistance — such as the family who’s child had a rare disease that didn’t allow her to properly regulate her body temperature — but I’ve always thought the homes were a little too big. While special designs are needed in some cases — take the family who’s husband and father was blinded after an accident — I don’t think you necessarily need to make the house so large in order to meet the families needs.

Perhaps if Extreme Makeover hadn’t made the Harpers house so large, just big enough to fit their needs, the family would not be going into foreclosure since they would not have been able to take out such a large loan — although the family could have used common sense to not take out such a loan in the first place.

The Washington Post also has an essay on the subject.

July 28, 2008

Mr. Almost President

Posted in Politics tagged , , , at 11:09 pm by Katharine Lackey

While focus has exceedingly been on Barack Obama’s recent foreign trip, the New York Times is quick to point out that both Obama and McCain have their own far-reaching faux pas.

While Obama has stood on a podium with a faux presidential seal and adorned his jet “O-Force One,” McCain gave a speech looking back on his first term in office and recently began giving radio addresses every Saturday.

It is unclear when the two presidential candidates will hold their first state dinners, spend their first weekends at Camp David or welcome this year’s N.B.A. champions, the Boston Celtics, to the Rose Garden.

Oh, wait, neither of these guys has been elected yet.

The article is extremely interesting and I cannot do it justice by paraphrasing it — so go read it!

Also, read the Times Opinion piece by Frank Rich, which also touches on the same subject.

News of the Day: July 28

Posted in News tagged , , , , , , at 10:52 pm by Katharine Lackey

  • Texting while walking, rollerblading, biking, etc, can land you in the emergency room, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. “It’s amazing how instinctive it is for people to [text while doing other things]. Texting is kind of like hearing. It’s almost another sense,” says emergency room doctor. Upside: I have a sixth sense!
  • Violence in Iraq has reached a “normal” level, USA Today reports. Because violence is always normal… right.
  • McCain gained on Obama in a new USA Today/Gallup poll, USA Today reports. That trip Obama took — didn’t help.
  • Robert Novak has been diagnosed with a brain tumor, the AP reports. Last week the columnist received a citation after hitting a bicycist in D.C. The columnist is best known for revealing Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity in a 2003 column.

“Cuil” — pronounced “Cool”

Posted in Internet tagged , , at 10:18 pm by Katharine Lackey

A new competitor specifically targeting Google’s success, has emerged in the name of “Cuil,” pronounced “Cool,” the New York Times reports.

With a more streamlined and aesthetically pleasing look, one could prematurely think that Cuil would be a good alternative to the most popular search engine — Google. But, upon closer inspection, there are issues with Cuil that need to be ironed out before it can come up to Google’s standard.

During a couple searches I got this result:

No results because of high load…

Due to excessive load, our servers didn’t return results. Please try your search again.

Earlier in the day, a search for “blogs” yielded no results, although that error seems to be eliminated now.

I do like the top tabs and general layout of the pages, although some of the information seems dated. The colors — black and blue, reminded me of Blackle a little. Also, if you’re afraid of the feds, Cuil does not keep any search results — which is great if you’re doing something stupid or illegal. Cuil claims to be able to search more web pages than Google — but 1) I’ve never found a problem with Google having too few pages and 2) there’s no way to know that for certain.

At the end of the day, though, Cuil offers little advantage over Google other than appearance and doesn’t have an easy way to access to Maps, my Calender, Gmail and the variety of other Google products I use daily. I also didn’t see a image search or video search.

Here’s the problem, Google has become such a household name — when you say you did an internet search for something — you say you “googled” it. And therein lies the problem for Cuil — because its not as easy to say “I cuiled it” and Google already has such a hold in the household name department. And finally, there’s the problem that I keep trying to pronounce it as “qui-il.”

Knights v. Rabbit: Round Two

Posted in Offbeat tagged , , , , at 9:47 pm by Katharine Lackey

Apparently the UK is facing an invasion of rabbits — leading the Army to take on the new enemy after the fuzzy little creatures began destroying the remains of ancient buildings under a military training site.

The Roman and Bronze Age artifacts underneath the site have been under attack for ages.

At least this species of rabbit aren’t the spawn of the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog.


Sorry, I can’t resist a Monty Python reference.

July 27, 2008

‘As word spread throughout the land about the Child’s wondrous works, peoples from all over flocked to hear him; Hittites and Abbasids; Obamacons and McCainiacs; Cameroonians and Blairites.’

Posted in Politics tagged , , , , at 2:50 pm by Katharine Lackey

Gerard Baker, an editor at the Times in London, created a hysterical retelling of Obama’s trip to the Middle East.

(To see video — go to Jeff Jarvis’ post.)

Among memorable quotes:

And it came to pass, in the eighth year of the reign of the evil Bush the Younger (The Ignorant), when the whole land from the Arabian desert to the shores of the Great Lakes had been laid barren, that a Child appeared in the wilderness.

And the Elders were astonished at what they heard and said among themselves: “Verily, who is this Child that he opens our hearts and minds to the audacity of hope?”

In the great Battles of Caucus and Primary he smote the conniving Hillary, wife of the deposed King Bill the Priapic and their barbarian hordes of Working Class Whites.

And the Child spake and the tribes of Nato immediately loosed the Caveats that had previously bound them.

And they told of strange and wondrous things that greeted the news of the Child’s journey. Around the world, global temperatures began to decline, and the ocean levels fell and the great warming was over.

And there were other wonderful signs. In the city of the Street at the Wall, spreads on interbank interest rates dropped like manna from Heaven and rates on credit default swaps fell to the ground as dead birds from the almond tree, and the people who had lived in foreclosure were able to borrow again.

Go read the rest!!

News of the Day: July 26-27

Posted in News tagged , , , , , , , , at 2:35 pm by Katharine Lackey

  • California became the first state to ban trans fats on Friday, The Washington Post reports. The law will phase the fats out of restaurants beginning in 2010 and baked goods by 2011.
  • Australian investigators are trying to determine what caused a gaping hole in a Qantas jet, ABC News reports. The Boeing 747 was cruising at 29,000 when a loud crack was heard and the plane dropped 20,000 feet.
  • Shia LaBeouf, co-star of the newest Indiana Jones movie, was arrested for drunk driving after an accident early Sunday morning, CNN reports. LaBeouf and his passenger were injured as was the driver of the other vehicle.

Obama’s Prayer Published

Posted in Politics tagged , , , at 12:32 am by Katharine Lackey

An Israeli paper has published the prayer Barack Obama left in Jerusalem’s Western Wall, the AP reports.

The publication has drawn criticism from many, including a Rabbi,Shmuel Rabinowitz, supervisor of the wall.

“The notes placed between the stones of the Western Wall are between a person and his maker. It is forbidden to read them or make any use of them,” he told Army Radio. The publication “damages the Western Wall and damages the personal, deep part of every one of us that we keep to ourselves,” he said.

The note reads:

“Lord — Protect my family and me,” reads the note published in the Maariv daily. “Forgive me my sins, and help me guard against pride and despair. Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just. And make me an instrument of your will.”

UPDATE 11:55AM July 29

An Israeli student is apologizing for taking Obama’s prayer from the Western Wall, according to Religious News Service.

“I’m sorry. It was a kind of prank,” the student, identified only by the Hebrew initial “Aleph,” told reporters Sunday. “I hope (Obama) wasn’t hurt. We all believe he will take the presidency.”

The article also reports that the newspaper that originally published the prayer faces legal sanctions. Obama’s prayer has also since been reinserted into the Wall, the article says.

July 26, 2008

McCain: 16-month plan “good timetable”

Posted in Politics, War on Terrorism tagged , , , at 12:44 am by Katharine Lackey

Somewhere, right now, Barack Obama is smiling.

In an interview with CNN Friday, John McCain had interesting comments on Obama’s 16-month withdrawal plan.

“I think it’s a pretty good timetable,” Mr. McCain said Friday in an interview on CNN’s “The Situation Room,’’ before adding that it should be based “on the conditions on the ground.’’

This is basically exactly what Obama has been saying lately, even as people have accused him of flip-flopping for saying he would listen to top commanders and tweak his plan if necessary.

McCain did go on to elaborate more about the 16-month withdrawal — trying to differentiate himself from his Democratic running partner.

“I think it’s a pretty good timetable, as we should — or horizons for withdrawal. But they have to be based on conditions on the ground. This success is very fragile. It’s incredibly impressive, but very fragile. So we know, those of us who have been involved in it for many years, know that if we reverse this, by setting a date for withdrawal, all of the hard-won victory can be reversed.’’

This is nearly 2 and a half years different than what McCain said in his rejected New York Times letter:

I have said that I expect to welcome home most of our troops from Iraq by the end of my first term in office, in 2013.

Is this all a reaction to al-Maliki practically endorsing Obama’s plan?

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