I bought one of those, whattayacallums? A PDA, a Palm Pilot. It’s every bit as useful as people said it would be. It comes in this super tight carrying case, so whenever I need to remember a phone number or an appointment or something, I can just write it on a tiny piece of paper and shove it between the PDA and the case. Then I always know where to find it. Talk about handy!

Too Much Reality

Apparently USA Today, NBC’s Today and a number of other media outlets are rushing to fill the Oprah Winfrey-shaped hole in the book club universe. Among them is the Live With Regis and Kelly show, which recently debuted a new segment entitled “Reading With Ripa.” But unlike other so-called “book clubs,” Ripa eschews the pompous and pretentious in favor of pure, unadulterated crap.

How do I know all this? Because my friend Jerry just dropped me a line to point out some great quotations in this article about Ripa’s book selection philosophy.

“I hate books that make me feel stupid, which I guess knocks off 50% of all books out there,” Ripa quipped after her show Monday. “People like escapist programming and escapist works of literature. There’s too much reality in the world today. If I want to read something with meaning, I’ll read a newspaper. But when I read a book, I want it to be fun, meaning I don’t want it to better me in some way.”

Ripa used her own method to pick [the first book featured on the segment]. “I always judge a book by its cover, and with this one, I thought, ‘This looks interesting.’ “

Honesty rules.

Housebuying Lessons Learned

Hi! My wife and I just bought a house. Since I know many young couples are in the market right now, I thought I’d share some of the lessons we learned through our experience.

Do Your Research Before wading into the house market, be sure to learn all you can about the intricacies of house hunting and home buying. A little money spent on a “Home Buying For the Clinically Brain Dead” book now can save you thousands of dollars later!

Learn Your Options Many decisions must be made concerning your home loan, and it pays to explore all of your options before settling on a plan of action. For example, fixed-rates loans are all the rage now (what with interest rates being so low and all) but don’t overlook ARMs — they may be just the thing for you!

Never Move Into Your New Home Many people naively assume that after they have purchased a home they should move into it and live there. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, you are much better off staying wherever you are now, paying rent in addition to your monthly mortgage payments. While this may not seem cost effective, the truth is that paying any amount of money is better than having to move, because moving is what those in the real estate industrial refer to as a “galactically huge pain in the ass.” First you have to pack everything you own into boxes, and then you have to carry these boxes to a truck, and then later you have to carry these boxes again (from the truck to the new house) and then unpack the sons of bitches. And if you rent said truck from a major truck rental company whose name I won’t mention here (rhymes with “Glue-Mall”) you may have to interact with some of the most unfathomably stupid people ever to be given a key to a cash register, people who will grudgingly dispense customer service so atrocious that it will make you want to kick kittens. Trust me: moving is a big fat fucking drag and should only be done if your previous residence is, at that very moment, on fire.

Have fun!

Jason X

Jason X, the followup to Spike Lee’s ambitious 1992 film “Malcolm X,” is as lazy and hackneyed as sequels come. Rather than build on the story of the first motion picture, director Jim Isaac has simply poured some old wine into a new bottle, essentially rehashing the original film’s plot with some additional bells and whistles (such as setting the story on a spaceship and playing up the more violent aspects of the Black Nationalist leader). Worst, it’s apparent that they couldn’t get Denzel Washington to reprise the title role, so they hired some other actor to play the lead and kept his face hidden throughout the movie to disguise this fact. A sloppy and disappointing work all around.

1000 Hours Free!

Math cop: AOL has a new promotion.

Hours must be used in 45 days

Wow, that sounds like a great deal! Assuming, of course, you intend to use AOL 22 hours and 12 minutes for 45 days straight after you sign up. (45 days * 24 = 1080 hours).

Catholic Application

U.S. cardinals stop short of zero-tolerance policy

VATICAN CITY - After an extraordinary meeting prompted by a sex-abuse scandal, American Roman Catholic leaders agreed yesterday to make it easier to remove priests guilty of sexually abusing minors - but they stopped short of a zero-tolerance policy to dismiss all abusive clerics. The American church leaders said they would recommend a special process to defrock any priest who has become "notorious and is guilty of the serial, predatory sexual abuse of minors." In cases that are "not notorious" they would leave it up to the local bishop to decide if such a priest is a threat to children and should be defrocked ...

I Thought it Was a Choice

On Tuesday I started to write about the Catholic Church’s recent and obscene claim that this whole abuse scandal can be laid at the feet of homosexuals, but halfway through I got so disgusted I couldn’t finish. Thankfully, William Saletan of Slate is made of stronger stuff than I, and in this piece he points out many of the contradictions inherent in this line of argument. But I think he overlooks a big one.

For years, the church has insisted that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice and not a predisposition. It’s easy to understand why: you can’t believe that homosexuality is a sin and that it’s hard-wired without wondering why God would make such a person. Plus, insisting that it was a choice made it easier to justify discrimination: hey, if you don’t like being ostracized then just choose not be attracted to people of your own sex! In recent years this line has been downplayed and rarely stated aloud but is a constant subtext whenever the church deals with the politics of homosexuality.

Now that it’s convenient, though, some in the church are suddenly blaming “The Gays” for their woes, and we’re supposed to abruptly believe that there’s something specific to homosexuals which will make them more likely to commit these crimes. This is a complete aboutface from their previous line. So why not just stick with the “it’s a choice” argument? Because “the choice argument” postulates that homosexuals are no different from hetrosexuals, except that they choose same-sex partners. And, presumably, pedophiles are just like you and I as well, except they choose to engage in pedophilia. In other words, the priests who committed these terrible crimes simply chose to do so — end of story. There’s no one to blame but them, and the church who allowed them to get away with it. Sticking to this manifestly false “it’s a choice” argument leaves no room for the kind of nauseating scapegoatery that they now want to engage in.


I was cruising along the sidewalks of downtown Seattle, trying to get back to my place of business after an unduly long lunch break. As I careened around a corner I bumped into a young guy who was standing there talking to his friends. As I was in hurry I did not stop, but I did look over my shoulder and cry “sorry!” As I did so, I saw that the guy was angry: his eyes were narrowed, he was pointing a finger at me, and he was opening his mouth to say something ugly. I guess he didn’t expect me to apologize. But as soon as I did, a remarkable transformation overcame him. His whole body abruptly relaxed, his accusatory finger went flaccid, and instead of wrath his face suddenly filled with the look of a man who has just had an epiphany. I could see the muscles around his mouth frantically reconfiguring themselves as he completely changed was he was about to say. Since I had been in motion this whole time, I was pretty far away when he finally managed to speak.

“Keep your tools sharp,” he shouted.

With a nod I faced forward and continued on my way.