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Archive for July, 2008

Nationalpayday.com

At the beginning of July, I was approached by a company to write a post recommending their company to you. First of all, I thought that was a little strange, since I’d been on something of a hiatus for, oh, two months or so. I inquired further none the less. It would seem I asked too many questions, because they stopped talking to me. I now oblige them in their request (and don’t worry, this one is free of charge).

The site was National Payday. Payday loans, for those who don’t know, are very short terms loans (usually issued one pay day to be collected on by the next). Unfortunately, the quick approval process is balanced by truly atrocious interest rates (I’ve seen them worked out at nearly 200% annually). Get Rich Slowly has more on that.

What really makes me laugh, though, is the sweet-talking spin Darell put on their product when he e-mailed me. “Most of our customers are making ends meet on a small budget and require short-term loans and may not even qualify for more traditional loans.” I fail to see how taking advantage of people falling on hard times is admirable. What good is it to be able to pay off a credit card if the loan you take out has ten times the interest?

Regardless, here’s a simple lesson for you, dear reader: Any company which has to pay people to say something nice about it, is a company you don’t want to do business with. In the case of payday loan sharks, I would call them evil, vile, and disgusting.

There you are Darell. I hope my brief post was not too “vilinizing” for you or your company. And as I said, it’s on me.

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This post is to test the new networking tool I downloaded. If it works, you should be able to tell below.

If you blog with WordPress and want this tool, you can download it here.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

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I’d say I fall squarely in the Global-Climate-Change-is-real-and-we-need-to-do-something-about-it camp. I’m probably more of a pragmatic environmentalist, but I worry over wasting water, drive a tiny, gas-sipping Aveo, and want to make my garden bigger every year. I support renewable power, conservation, etc. I’m also smart enough to realize I could be wrong.

The climate change we’re experiencing (I do believe it’s real, but could be wrong there too) could be caused by any number of factors. Some might be beyond our control, some might reverse themselves shortly.

Who knows? Maybe its the end times, in which case I have bigger problems then my carbon footprint.

So what if I’m wrong?

The truth is, I wouldn’t feel too horrible about the things I’m changing.

Using less energy, or renewable energy, lessens our dependence on foreign oil and saves me money. Both, i think, are pretty well good without qualification.

Eating locally, or growing my own food, in addition to saving the use of tons of pesticide and lots of fuel to bring me bananas from Chile, means I eat better tasting and more nutritious food. Besides, gardening is just fun. Have you ever grown your own tomato and eaten it fresh off the vine, warmed by the sun? Try it, and trust me, you’ll come out of it not only with a more enlightened relationship to life and food, but seriously considering tearing up part of your lawn to plant a garden.

Walking or biking more (which is actually a necessity on my campus for non-environmental reasons) makes me more fit. I know everyone says that, but it’s true, at least anecdotally. I lose a solid ten-fifteen pounds every fall when i get back to school and put away my car keys.

Protecting wild lands has plenty of benefits besides any related to climate change. For starters, there are alternatives to oil. Biodiversity is a one off product, and I for one don’t want to have to wait for the millions of years it would take new species to evolve (disregard that if you must, in respect of your religious beliefs – if anything, not believing in evolution makes biodiversity that much more significant, since once we lose one of God’s creations, it never comes back). Many of the plant and animal species potentially hold new medicines or other scientific discoveries; again, once they’re gone, they’re gone. Besides, I feel a rich natural world, and more of it, makes the world a more beautiful and interesting place. (Then again, I love the Rewilding Project, which once suggested releasing wild African elephants into the southwestern US to replace the recently [10,000 years before present, give or take] lost large herbivores and solve some invasive species problems. Is that not awesome? Okay, almost no one agrees with me.)

If nothing else, most things people tell you to do to help the planet also help our communities. They create (sustainable) jobs, encourage community, and foster learning.

Is any of that so bad? And what is there to lose?

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Switching To Mac

Perhaps six months ago, my mom bought a Mac mini to replace a failing desktop we had. Since then, I’ve had a good opportunity to get accustomed to the new system, and I have a few comments on the switch.

First of all, that story about macs never freezing? Lie. True, it’s very rare for the entire operating system to freeze. Typically, only a single program will freeze, and it is actually possible to force it to quit (not usually true of my Windows platform). However, individual programs freeze all the time. True, this is probably more the mini part of the Mac mini, but it’s frustrating and difficult to deal with. Even Dell’s cheapest desktop can open BoingBoing without dying.

It doesn’t matter if their programs are nicer than Windows’, either. If you want to actually be able to do anything with your mac, you will need to buy Office.

Macs also do lots of things that I can only describe as annoying. The bouncing icons in the Dock? Obnoxious. The fact that clicking an icon in the Dock will open that program, but not close it? Weak. That it takes a special menu to select between different windows in the same program? Dumb.

And there is something that causes the Mac to keel over and refuse to be revived if it’s power supply is so much as lightly tapped by an errant foot, which no one can explain.

In short, I don’t see the big deal. I’ll stick with my sexy Alienware laptop.

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There’s been a lot of talk about water boarding, and I haven’t really brought it up. I’m not certain how pertinent an issue it still is. That said, for anyone on the fence about the “Is it torture or not?” issue, I recommend the following experiment. It’s really easy to do and I think rather effective, despite actually being a rather poor analogy for the actual interrogation technique.

The next time you take a shower, bring a washcloth with you. Make sure it’s really good and wet. Then lean your head back a little, as if you were looking up at the stars. Inhale. Lay the washcloth over your face, and exhale slowly. Feel the warm cloth billow out a little, filled with your breath. It probably feel pretty nice.

Exhale all the way, and then inhale deeply.

Then, draw your own conclusion: is it torture? Please comment.

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