Stormy Daniels update

No sooner than I mention Stormy Daniels in the context of her political career, then she gets arrested on a domestic violence misdemeanor. What are the odds? According to the police report, she struck her husband several times on the head with her hands because she didn’t like the way the laundry was done and some of the bills hadn’t been paid. She was angry and wanted to leave, but her husband had the car keys and held them over his head so she couldn’t get to them. It was during this struggle, the report says, that he was hit.

For her side, she said she didn’t do it intentionally, but did throw a potted plant into the sink, their wedding album across the floor and broke some candles.

These are not the actions of someone who is merely upset about the laundry.

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Politics as (un)usual

A couple of political stories crossed my path today. One was the usual hypocritical sex scandal, the other involved a porn star.

Sen. Paul Stanley, his mistress Intern McKenzie Morrison and her boyfriend D-bag Joel Watts

Sen. Paul Stanley, his mistress Intern McKenzie Morrison and her boyfriend D-bag Joel Watts

Tennessee State Senator Paul Stanley resigned his seat after word got out that he’s been having an affair with a 22-year-old intern. Stanley, a Republican, has long been a proponent of abstinence-only programs, family values and wants to cut funding for Planned Parenthood because unmarried people shouldn’t have sex.

Word got out because the intern in question, McKensie Morrison, has a boyfriend named Joel Watts. Watts has photos of Sen. Stanley in some compromising positions and tried to extort $10,000.

So Watts gets investigated for extortion, the affair comes out and Stanley first tries to simply give up his chairmanship of the Senate Commerce Committee, but remain in his seat. Something made him change his mind, I guess, because he announced his resignation to “focus my full attention on my family.”

Stanley is married with two children. Morrison, incidentally, is also married, but her husband (who is serving time in Florida) has filed for divorce.

I should note here that it is often the case that schadenfreude gets the better of me. Politics in general is rife with these kind of scandals. Those on the other side will ask why I don’t giggle through my nose when a Democrat is caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar. I guess there is an essential element missing. Namely, the hypocrisy. Dems tend not to rail against pre-marital sex, planned parenthood or comprehensive sex education while trying to nail the support staff.

This guy made a point of going after an organization that provides needed services to women because of his moral frame of reference, then gets caught acting well outside that moral frame. One wonders what his reaction would have been had Morrison needed the services of Planned Parenthood.

For a politician with no sense of irony, this is a great gig. When you get caught, you just say something akin to what he said during an interview with a Memphis radio station:

“Whatever I stood for and advocated, I still believe to be true and just because I fell far short of what God’s standard was for me and my wife, doesn’t mean that that standard is reduced in the least bit.”

I’m not suggesting the standard has changed or that Stanley has the ability to even change the standard. What I’m saying is that he doesn’t need to be trying to impose a standard on me that he’s not willing to follow. That’s why I feel free to giggle publicly at this moron.

On to the second political story. America has a long history of novelty political campaigns. Elections and scandals bring out the weirdos and crazies to run for office. For the most part, you ignore them and they go away. It isn’t even that unusual for a porn star to run for office. Mary Carey ran for governor of California against Ahnold. Mimi Miyagi ran for governor of Nevada. They hold their press event, grab some headlines and move on.

So seeing that Stormy Daniels was running for Sen. David Vitter’s seat in Louisianna didn’t really register with me. I was vaguely aware of Daniels’ work and knew Vitter was the guy that got caught using prostitutes (and as rumor has it, like to be diapered during his sessions) but kept his job because God told him he was forgiven.

But someone put a bomb in the car of her top political advisor Brian Welch and blew it up. Welch was uninjured. Evidently, they play hard ball in La.

Was this some sort of message? Does Welch have enemies outside of his work with novelty political campaigns? It’s hard to think that anyone believes Stormy Daniels is going to win a Senate seat, so why bother blowing up her fixer’s car?

Daniels hasn’t even declared. She’s just set up an exploratory committee. While I have no idea if she would be a good senator, I’m thinking that C-SPAN must be pulling for her just for the ratings boost.

I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watchin’ Meeeeee…

On Saturday, Dollie took the kids to Lynchburg for a swimming party and to meet some new cousins who have joined the family. The trip illustrates perfectly, the generation and technology gap with which we must deal.

Dollie asked for the address with the intention to use Google Maps to find the place. An email reply came back with a paragraph of directions:

Head south on 50 and you’ll see a Dollar General Store. Turn right at the next road. That’s 129. After a couple of houses, you’ll see a brick building that used to be an Elk’s Lodge. The pool is behind that building next to a softball field, but you can’t see it until you’ve gone past the building.

So, we used Google maps to see where 55 intersects with 129. We immediately discovered that going South on 55 would take us way out of the road we should be coming in on was 50. 50 and 55 merge at 129, so it’s an easy mistake to make. From there we could guestimate where the pool was.

Then it occurred to me to look at the sattelite photos of the area. We spotted the pool easily and could even use Google streetview to pinpoint the exact location.

Finally I understood why streetview is a good thing and not just some creepy Google feature. I mean, while it doesn’t freak me out that you can look at a photo of my house from Google, I can see where that might upset some folks.

I’m just sorry I missed the google truck as it rolled through my neighborhood. It would have been fun to see how many of my neighbor’s yards I could get photographed in.

Perish Spammers

I logged into Twitter this morning to discover that I’d gone from 86 followers to 49 overnight. My first thought was “What did I write to piss off 43 people?” As it turns out, Twitter went through a purge last night, deleting fake accounts of spammers.

I wasn’t alone. Some people lost hundreds of “followers.” Not really much of a loss, mind you. I mean how many pornbots do you need pretending to read your blather?

Apparently, 43.

“Young” Republicans

Look, I turn 41 next month. My boss brings me into the conversation when he wants the perspective of a “middle aged” man. I hold no misconceptions about my age or how long it has been since I was considered “young.”

So I have to laugh when I read that the Young Republican Federation just elected a new vice chairman. Her name is Audra Shay and she’s 38 years old. But I’m not going to pick on her for that. She’s catching enough flak over her Facebook comments.

Some tool named Eric S Piker made the following comment on her Facebook wall:

“Obama bin Lauden is the new terrorist….muslim is on there side…..need to take country back from all these mad coons…..and illegals” [sic]

Directly below that, Audra commented:

“You tell em Eric! lol”

For all the world, it looks like she was agreeing with his ignorant, racist and disturbing rant. Looking at the feed, you can see that Eric wrote a rant two minutes earlier that was full of more, less racist blather:

“It’s the government making us commies… can’t even smoke in my damn car… whats next they going to issue toilet paper once a month… tell us how to wipe our asses…”

Audra says that this is the comment to which she was reacting, not the one about the coons. It is possible that’s the case. The timeline isn’t helpful:

1:52 p.m. Eric’s rant about commies and toilet paper
1:54 p.m. Eric’s rant about muslims and “coons”
2:02 p.m. “You tell em Eric lol.”

Also, there is nothing in thread from Audra rebuking Eric’s racist language. Others did it. Still others claimed it was a joke, but Audra is silent after laughing out loud.

I want to believe her. I understand that to us old fogies, Facebook is confusing what with all the Lil’ Green Plant requests, contacts from “friends” we may or may not remember from high school and offers of virtual drinks. It is easy to get overwhelmed.

If you read the entire thread, you’ll see all kinds of disturbing rants from the right, offering every kind of ignorant talking point released from the backside of some right-wing radio host.

One woman complained that, when she goes to Wal-Mart to get her prescriptions filled, she sees a lot of “Obama faces.” She wonders if she should pay for their medicine now or wait for her tax money to stuff their pockets. But it’s okay, she used an emoticon 😉

Ugh.

But I shouldn’t be surprised. In 2007 the president of the National Young Republicans, Glenn Murphy, resigned when a man accused him of trying to perform oral sex on him while he slept. Murphy contends that it was consensual.

So, it could have been worse.

Congratulations, Young Republican Federation on your new vice chairman. You deserve each other.

You found me!

After more than 10 years at my old domain (mike.reed.org) I’ve decided to stop paying the outrageous leasing fees and move my blogging efforts to WordPress. Thanks for following along, updating bookmarks, etc…

It has been a little while since my last entry. I’ve been working on some projects and doing a little life hacking, as it were.

One note: those who read my Facebook and Twitter pages know that my dad was recently hospitalized. He came through his surgery okay and is now in recovery where he should remain for another week or so.

My plan isn’t to discuss too much about my family here because, quite frankly, I’ve recently been chastised by my little girl for posting about her. In fact, she mentioned something cute one morning and I asked her to repeat it to her mother that evening and she refused to do it in front of me for fear that I would “put it on Twitter.”

Nothing I could say would convince her otherwise. My kids have been a major subject on this blog for their entire lives and eventually they’ll find those entries and will come to me in the nursing home and put a pillow over my face. No one wants that.

An irony of this move is that I was invited recently to participate in a product review based on my blog. Now that I’m ready to write about it, I’m essentially starting over and all the SEO stuff and recognition and online awareness I’ve built up over the years is being abandoned.

What are you going to do? The truth is that the company I’ve been subleasing a domain from has changed hands a couple of times and in the process my rates keep going up and the service keeps going down. For years I’ve struggled with tweaking source code, manually archiving and learning new software packages and blah blah blah.

Meanwhile my friends, colleagues and family hop on blogger, livejournal or wordpress and blog away. Good for them.

One big change around our house is that we got rid of our TV service. I called DirecTV and told them I wanted to cancel my service and they seemed shocked.

“You’ve been a loyal customer since 2001,” he said. “Can I ask why?”

“We’re making a change,” I said. “Your rates are too high and are likely to go up again soon.”

I’ve grown tired of paying for television. Between the cable package, HBO, HD, HD-DVR service, and equipment leasing, we were paying close to $100 a month.

We figured that, between Hulu, YouTube, Joost, Netflix, iTunes and Usenet, we can watch whatever we want by hooking a computer to the TV. The kids baulked, but we gave them their own Netflix queues and they were happy.

“Well, we can give you free HD for a year and free HD-DVR for six months,” said the helpful retention specialist.

“That’s great, but no thanks,” I said. Dollie had warned me that they’d try to offer me something to keep me and I promised to stay strong. I happened to catch them on the last day of the billing cycle, so it was easy. They sent me a box to ship the HD-DVR back and I’m done with them.

[Note: That’s another thing that’s bothered me for a while now. I paid $300 for that DVR and an additional $6 a month to cover it against repairs. But I still had to give it back]

The next step was to change ISPs. I’ve been a Bellsouth customer for as long as I’ve had the internet in my home. But I live in a neighborhood in which the infrastructure can’t support the higher-speed DSL service. Watching streaming video with a slow connection  after years of zipping through the commercials is . . . frustrating.

So I called Bellsouth and asked to upgrade my connection.

“You have the fastest connection we offer in your area,” she said.

“But it isn’t fast enough,” I replied. “Are there any plans to upgrade my area?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “I can put you on a waiting list.”

“What will that do?”

“It will let AT&T know you want to upgrade when it is available.”

“So there is nothing you can do for me?” After checking my file, she offered:

“I see you’re a DirecTV customer,” she said. [AT&T and DirecTV had a co-marketing deal that gave me a $10 discount each month for being a customer of both services].

“Not anymore,” I replied. “They couldn’t help me either, so I dropped them.”

“I see you have a cell phone through AT&T,” she said. “What kind is it?”

“My wife has a Razr,” I said.

“Well we have many better phones than the Razr, let me take a look.” I let this go on because Dolls needs a new phone. “It looks like she’ll be eligible for an upgrade in October.”

Wow. I mean whoop-de-freakin’-do.

“Well, we can talk about that in October,” I said.

“I see that your equipment isn’t covered by a service contract,” she said. “We can cover your modem and router.”

“No thanks,” I replied, rolling my eyes.

“You don’t want to cover your modem?”

“If I can’t get a faster internet connection, I’m going to go to Comcast,” I said. “I won’t need your modem.”

So I check with Comcast for their high-speed internet service. At $44/month It costs a couple of dollars more, but the speed is like five times faster and won’t slow down when my neighbors get online at night. Plus, they’re running a special – $20/month for six months. Great sign me up.

I get into a live-chat window with someone from Comcast.

It turns out that I’m not eligible for the promotion because I’m not a cable or Comcast phone subscriber.

Fine, just give me the $44 rate then.

That’s a discounted rate for cable or phone subscribers. Your rate will be $62/month.

Oy.

I’m not interested in TV service. I’m a DSL subscriber looking to upgrade my internet speed.

We went back and forth several times looking at options. In the end it came down to this:

It was cheaper to have the most basic cable service installed (in the kid’s rooms) and the internet (in the living room) than buying the internet by itself. So I’m paying for TV again, only this time it is $13.90/month.

After that we’ll drop our land line, maybe hook up an HD antenna and things will be peachy.

I mentioned the product evaluation thing earlier. I clicked on a Facebook ad for a company looking for bloggers to review their product. I clicked and filled out a form listing my personal links: blog, Facebook, Twitter. A week or so later I got a nice note from a marketing person at the company saying she was impressed with my online presence and would like to send me the product.

Her only request was that I try the product for two weeks, write about it and be honest.

The product is the Q-link. It is a pendant to wear that is designed to enhance the energy field generated by my body and . . . uh . . . Well. Here is the company line:

Q-Link® is the most advanced personal energy system available today. A quarter century of frontier research has given birth to the Q-Link, a sleek line of body worn products that tune your being for optimal living and performance: More energy, less stress, greater focus, enhanced well-being and more. Discover for yourself why individuals of every background the world over hold their Q-Link product in such high regard. It’s the life tool that makes everything you are, do and aspire to be, effortlessly better.

Sounds pretty good, right? The package came and I got a small black plastic pendant on a cord. Inside the pendant is a circular piece of metal (copper?) and what looks like a piece of circuitry.

I went to their site and took the “Q-link Challenge.” This is a two-minute test in which you have to use your mouse to follow the Q-link logo around the screen as it moves faster and faster. Meanwhile, random numbers flash under the logo. When the number is 56 or higher you hit the space bar.

I was instructed to take the challenge, wear the pendant for two weeks and take the challenge again.

So I did.

First of all, let me say that the results really don’t prove anything. There are too many variables. For a more accurate assessment, you’ve want to take the challenge several times before and after and average the results. But the test is what it is.

I took it, wore the necklace for two weeks, taking it off to sleep, and shower. After two weeks I took the test again. I followed the instructions to the letter: I took the test on the same computer at the same time of day. The results were:

The same. My reaction time may have been a few miliseconds better but that can’t be chalked up to anything conclusively.

So I can’t vouch for the effectiveness of the Q-link. What I can tell you is that I enjoyed telling the story and showing it to people. I like the idea of wearing something that’s working to counteract all the EM radiation I’m exposed to every day. I just don’t know if this device actually does anything.

On a personal note, as a PR/marketing professional, I like the idea of reaching out to bloggers to increase awareness of the product. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to do this, to see how they handle the process. I’ve pitched the idea to clients and have received mixed reactions.

The product I received was the cheapest version (which makes sense). It included a brochure geared to golfers (a good move, as they are a notoriously superstitious lot who will spend money on anything to give their game an edge). What I haven’t received is any follow up. Perhaps, once this is published, there will be some contact.

They make several models, including jewelry, bracelets and versions for dogs and horses. It’s an interesting concept. I appreciate their scientific approach to marketing. A product like this walks a fine line. It can be all too easy to get rolled up with the crystal-wearing hippy dippy crowd or the cure-all magnet-wearing bunch.

They come close, but I think they succeed in skirting the metaphysical without drinking the kool-aid.

Sold some stuff on eBay recently, including my entire collection of Spy Magazine. That was a hard one to let go of, but it dawned on me that I’ll never write a masters thesis on the magazine’s contribution to modern media design, so why hold on to them?