my personal blog

June 18, 2008

Four Words: AP Sucks

Filed under: business,humor,news — Tags: , , — Alfonso Surroca @ 12:49 am

Apparently, the Associated Press, in a noble effort to appear as much as an obsolete dinosaur as possible, has rules barring bloggers from citing more than four words out of an AP article without paying fees. See the deets at Boing Boing.

This got me thinking: What would AP headlines look like were everything past the first four words chopped off. I checked out recent AP headlines and here are a few perfectly legal fair use citations from the AP, under their stringent rules:

“Bali bomber warns of”
“Hundreds of same-sex couples”
“Cuban TV shows new”
“Celtics rout Lakers 131-92”
“Clinton asks top donors”
“Mississippi River breaks through”
“Bush to urge Congress”
“Probe: Pentagon lawyers sought”

These spartan headlines are almost more eye-catching than the five-or-more word headlines available at the AP’s site. Perhaps I’m on to something.

May 29, 2008

Silver Lining (Buried Under Bad News)

Filed under: business,news — Tags: , , , , — Alfonso Surroca @ 1:08 pm

While reading about the unsurprisingly bad consumer confidence numbers, I came across this article focusing on the Florida consumer confidence numbers.

In the midst of the numbers, and the suggestion that the stimulus checks (as I expected) had no effect on consumer confidence, I found a glimmer of good news:

Although most economists foresee price declines extending into 2009, [director of UF’s Survey Research Center at the Bureau of Economic and Business Research Chris] McCarty said he expects many Florida housing markets to bottom out by July based on price patterns so far. Once these declines stop, consumers and lenders will know what homes are worth, as will potential buyers, he said.

There it is: Despite the fact that the U.S. is still in the middle of this long tunnel, Floridians can soon begin seeing the light at the end of it. Looking at the charts at Zillow, you can see that although both lines are still trending downward, the green line (FL average) is moving downward at a more steady rate, where the yellow line (U.S. average) is actually starting to dip at an increasing rate.

Oh, it’s minor, but it’s there. If McCarty is right, then the Florida housing market is going to hit that low point this summer. Just looking at it, I think July is a little too optimistic; September sounds about right. I’d say, we’ll see another $15k drop over the summer, but that will be the end of it. Meanwhile, it looks like the U.S. average has a long way to go, yet, and when it bottoms out, it’s going to be a slow climb back up. I think Florida’s going to come out on top, just like California did in the 1990s.

May 12, 2008

The Rapping Clerk of Courts

Filed under: humor,news,politics — Tags: , , , — Alfonso Surroca @ 11:44 pm

The Miami-Dade Clerk of Courts, 70-year old Harvey Ruvin, seems to have a, er, gift. Witness, as he raps about the dangers of global warming, war, and so forth:

Yes, that video was done by a 70-year old politician. He’s also up for re-election, and making the environment central to his campaign.

Apparently, his campaign is both frugal and environmentally sensitive: the campaign held a fundraiser whose (e-mail) invitations asked invitees not to attend, so as to reduce their carbon footprint; specified that there would be no food served, what with the famine and all; and asked that donors would use the campaigns website instead of writing checks, so as not to kill trees.

Hey, I’d vote for him if I still lived in Miami.

April 13, 2008

Don’t Hitch-hike in Turkey

Filed under: news — Tags: , , , , — Alfonso Surroca @ 12:17 am

An Italian woman who had been hitch-hiking to promote world peace was found murdered. From the BBC News article:

She had said she wanted to show that she could put her trust in the kindness of local people.

I guess that didn’t work out so well. Call me jaded, call me cynical, but God, that was a terrible idea.

April 9, 2008

Using a Meme to Sell Life Insurance? WTF?

Filed under: advertising,humor,news — Tags: , , , , — Alfonso Surroca @ 12:08 pm

So, I’m minding my own business, reading Slate, and see one of those “family killed by ninjas, need money for karate lessons” pictures off to the right of the page. Then, I see it is an advertisement for life insurance. Oh, and the article in question was about John McCain visiting Mo Udall on his deathbed. Deathbed? Life insurance? Get it?

Here is the ad in question:

Accuquote ad brings the lulz

January 26, 2006

Six Ways to Fix MySpace in 2006

Filed under: news — Alfonso Surroca @ 11:45 am

MySpace, you've hit critical mass. A giant media conglomerate owns you, every major-label band has a page, and you're sponsoring events and concerts all over the nation. It's time to realize that you're not a grass-roots little social networking website anymore. It's time for some changes: (more…)

November 29, 2005

Drugs… A Thing of the Past?

Filed under: news — Alfonso Surroca @ 3:23 am

I came away from reading Chicago economist Steven D. Levitt's recent book, Freakonomics, with a Republican-esque disdain for the (illegal) drug industry. The crack boom helped knock blacks a few decades backward in catching up to white America's socioeconomic status, fuel a crime wave that lasted until the early 1990s, and basically fuck us up humanity in ways we'll probably never fully understand. But, now I'm starting to think that just as the "crime wave" peak of the 80s was followed by a just-as-large trough, we could be seeing the waning popularity of drugs in the coming years. (more…)

November 2, 2005

Hitting the Campaign Trail (Again)

Filed under: news — Alfonso Surroca @ 1:02 am

Let's recap. The Miers nomination finally fizzled out, Libby was indicted, and the rest of the White House clan (Rove, Cheney, Card) is still in danger. For the first time in five years, the Bush Administration hasn't gotten away with their antics. I said it before the 2004 election, reaffirmed it afterward, and I'll point it out once more: The Republicans asked for "four more years" and now they've got them. (more…)

October 26, 2005

200 Years Ago…

Filed under: news,personal — Alfonso Surroca @ 3:07 am

Right now, I'm leeching an unsecured Wi-Fi conneciton up in one of the very few areas that has already gotten power back up, so I'll make this post quick.

Hurricane Wilma hit South Florida as a major hurricane (Category 3), but nothing even remotely close to the level with which Hurricane Andrew hit us. Despite this, Wilma dealt a crushing blow to South Florida's entire infrastructure, especially power (and subsequently communications). Many of Florida Power and Light's power substations were severely damaged by debris, and as such FPL is restoring power at a painstakingly slow rate. (more…)

August 22, 2005

The Great Videogame Debate Is Back

Filed under: gaming,news — Alfonso Surroca @ 3:54 pm

Well, folks, it looks like The Great Videogame Debate is on again.

Credit the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas "Hot Coffee" mod for lighting the match underneath the latest incarnation of this debate. (more…)

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