December 29, 2006
Israel Hotel Reviews
While planning my trip to Israel, I found TripAdvisor somewhat helpful in assessing possible lodging destinations. So I decided to contribute two reviews of my own on the Cinema Hotel in Tel Aviv and the Christ Church Guest House in the Old City of Jerusalem. More on my Israel trip shortly...
December 27, 2006
According to the Washington Post, kids with high IQs are more likely to become vegetarian than those with lower IQs. The article says: "Vegetarians were more likely to be female, of higher social class and better educated, but IQ was still a significant predictor of being vegetarian after adjustment for these factors."
December 14, 2006
Meowing at Neighbor Isn't Criminal Harassment
You may recall that I previously blogged on the story of the 14 year old boy who, with malice, meowed repeatedly (at least twice) at an elderly neighbor, which led to a criminal prosecution for harassment. At that time, I said "meowing during chance encounters between neighbors, even if the meow is communicated with maximum snarkiness, is not a crime." Not surprisingly, the judge agreed, dismissing the case (which never should have been brought) but also admonishing the boy for immature behavior. If I were the judge, I'd have issued a couple of other admonishments: one for the neighbor (get a thicker skin) and definitely one for the prosecutors (focus on real crimes).
December 12, 2006
Free International Calls
I lived through the dot com era, so I've seen companies do a lot of ridiculous things to win customers. (My favorite dot com freebie was iResearch.com, which paid me $200 to write 20 stock tips of 25 words each). Despite my jaundiced view, this scheme blew me away. Call a phone number in Iowa, enter an international long distance number, and you're talking internationally at no additional expense beyond the cost of calling Iowa. At home, we have national long distance for a flat monthly fee, so I was able to make a completely free phone call to Israel. This is the craziest thing I've seen in a long time. There may not be such a thing as a free lunch, but I've also learned that if someone's spending money like a drunken sailor, take it.
Sound quality is fine. There's not supposed to be any hidden catches (I haven't seen my phone bill yet, but this was written up in the New York Times). YMMV. Check out FuturePhone.com.
December 10, 2006
California Out-Migration Exceeds In-Migration
For many years, California has seen more in-migration instead of out-migration except in periods of economic downturn. But recently, California has seen net out-migration despite relatively good economic times. See the Mercury News story. There are a variety of possible explanations, although the relatively high cost of living here is a primary suspect. There's no question that living in CA has a premium attached to it; but depending on what a person is looking for, it may be worth every penny.
December 02, 2006
SaveToby.com -- the Final Chapter
You may recall that I've blogged several times about SaveToby, the site that threatened to kill and eat Toby the cute rabbit if people didn't donate a total of $50,000. People went bonkers about the threat to a bunny (as opposed to livestock). Then, Toby's owners changed their story, saying that they required people to buy 100,000 copies of their book by Thanksgiving or Toby would get it.
It's hard to know if these fraudsters have ever told the truth, but surprise! Toby allegedly is still alive. (And, I'm reasonably confident, they didn't sell 100,000 copies of their book). According to their website (as of today):
Toby Has Finally Been Saved!!!!!
News Flash - In an unexpected twist with the story of Toby, the rabbit that was going to be cooked and eaten if the owners did not get enough donations to stop it from happening, Bored.com has taken over the SaveToby.com website and saved Toby from certain death. The owner of Bored.com heard about Toby on the NBC Nightly News and read about the controversy in the many newspapers and magazines savetoby.com was featured in over the past year, and decided to put an end to this atrocity. Terms of the deal are undisclosed, but Toby has been quoted as saying he is very happy with the arrangement.
Other than the joy of saving a cute and loving animal from a cruel demise, Bored.com gets nothing out of this, so please show your support by visiting some of their websites:
Unexpected? Hardly. I predicted in January: "the hucksters won't sell 100,000 copies of their book (who the heck is buying this book anyway?), yet miraculously Toby will find a way to survive the latest pratfall." And so, Toby lives (allegedly).
Meanwhile, from Bored.com's perspective, this is a straight traffic acquisition. SaveToby.com has a PR6 and presumably still generates significant traffic, so Bored.com probably paid the cash value of the new ad inventory. As a result, I don't advise visiting SaveToby.com. If you go, watch out for the multiple pop-up ads, and clicking on the text ads (such as the casino links) probably isn't a good idea.
In any case, with Toby putatively no longer in the frying pan (literally or figuratively), I close the book on this saga. Live long, Toby, and may your parsley always be fresh. As for Toby's owners, I suspect karma isn't through with them yet.