Angela Natividad's Live & Uncensored!

27 September 2008

Peering into the Future

Just livetweeted the first Presidential debate. For me this felt like a dealbreaker, although overall response on Twitter and on TV was mixed.

I was disgusted by McCain's condescending attitude, coupled with his refusal to examine complex matters closely before doling out prospective punishments and languishing in war stories. He also struck me as dangerously impulsive (a blanket spending freeze on nearly everything but defense? Where did that come from?).

I think people expected Obama to score major points here, but he seemed disinterested in point-scoring. Instead of reacting to jibes, he clarified; his attitude seemed almost professorial. He also demonstrated quality of character: addressing McCain head-on, acknowledging valid points (which Rudy Giuliani has already tried positioning as a concession of his inexperience), looking him in the face, and, at the end, reaching out to shake his hand as McCain prepared to walk offstage.

This late in the game, it's foolish to expect either candidate to go out on some kind of radical limb. Who "won" the debate came down to how they fielded unexpected questions and addressed each other. These characteristics will determine how, as President, they will manage bipartisan grievances and negotiate space with other countries on our behalf.

McCain believes in forcing "preconditions" on proud leaders that are angry with us; in contrast, Obama drew a distinction between "preconditions" and "preparation." He believes these people should be acknowledged, face-to-face, and given the opportunity to speak their piece before the US reacts.

A guy like Ahmadinejad isn't going to kiss the US's ass with "preconditions" before agreeing to have lunch. Demanding that he do so is neither respectful of his power nor productive; it's poking an angry animal. That Obama would look him in the face, without reservation, and listen before exercising retribution on his country, speaks volumes about how he can repair our global reputation.

More analysis on The BBC. Also read Fox/AP coverage of big points made.

25 September 2008

McCain to Suspend Campaign Until After Economy is 'Saved'

From The New York Times:

[Following their telephone conversation], Mr. Obama was left with the impression [...] that Mr. McCain was “mulling over” suspending the debate as an option, not a final decision.

“Apparently, this was something that, you know, he was more decisive about in his own mind,” Mr. Obama told reporters.

Mr. Obama conceded being taken by surprise by the afternoon announcement from Mr. McCain, which Obama aides said occurred about 10 minutes after the phone conversation between the two men.

Taking Obama by surprise like that, McCain's managed to position him as the candidate with screwed-up priorities that revolve around his self-interest. That Obama also pushed back against McCain's wish to cancel their Friday debate only deepened this perception -- even if, in the back of our minds, we know there's no real reason the debate should be shafted.

Gov. Sarah Palin also indicated she might suspend her campaign.

Thanks to BL Ochman for the NYT link.

24 September 2008

Make Way for the 'Economic Pearl Harbor'

Warren Buffett voiced support for Henry Paulson's $700 billion proposal to buttress the buckling US financial system, calling it "absolutely necessary." I found that surprising. The move certainly saves our asses for the next couple of weeks, but we're facing deeper, potentially fatal problems with our system if its checks and balances (the market, essentially) can no longer support it.

Regular injections may sustain a diabetic, but it's hardly appropriate for the powerhouse of global consumption.

Now for some comic relief.
"It's nice to have a lot of money, but you know, you don't want to keep it around forever," Buffett said. "I prefer buying things. Otherwise, it's a little like saving sex for your old age."

He said sex!

Buffett recently announced intentions to infuse Goldman Sachs with $5 billion. The latter must be relieved beyond measure. If Berkshire Hathaway were a blanket, I'd be trying to crawl into it too.

(Thanks, Benj, for the Bloomberg link.)

Red Alert 3 Remix

"The only thing I can say about that is ... oh, snap."

Love this. 77,775 views and counting on YouTube, with an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars (665 ratings total). Find out why.

22 September 2008

The Changing Face

We were sitting across from each other on the couch late last night, tapping away on our Macbook Pros, when Benj glanced up at me and went, "Ang. Ang."

"Mm?" I looked up from what I was doing.

Benj cleared his throat for dramatic emphasis. "As of a few minutes ago, investment banks have ceased to exist."

"Mmm." It didn't much sink in. We went to bed, and around 8:30am this morning I woke up drenched in chilly sweat, writhing from a dream where the banks distributed all my funds to an evil female landlord. Everything was empty: the savings accounts, the IRAs, the investment fund...

"The banks --" I sputtered, "the banks..."

"It was a dream," said Benj. He made me mint hot chocolate, and waffles covered in banana, and sent me off to work.

For ye marketers out there, feeling all safe and warm, Search Engine Land is publishing 11 ways the Wall Street meltdown affects digital marketers.

19 September 2008

'I'm a PC and I Sell Fish!'

Love love LOVE the new "I'm a PC" ads. They are contagiously friendly. Also, Pharrell Williams is my secret boyfriend.

Want more? See "I'm a PC and I wear a suit" and "I'm a PC and I am not alone."

18 September 2008

Microsoft Shafts Seinfeld Campaign

... in favor of a direct rebuttal to "Mac vs. PC." What's more, it claims this was its plan all along.

Ugh. Nobody knows how to commit anymore.

17 September 2008

Tampax Pearl: Too Sassy for its Own Good

Meia (my sister): Uncle C cleaned out Chelsea's car the other day and ran inside shouting, waving a handful of tampons around.

Me: Why?

Meia: He was all, "You should know better than to keep firecrackers out on the seat like this! The car could explode under direct sunlight!" He was, like, so pissed off.

Me: Dude. Awkward.

Meia: Yeah.

16 September 2008

Pondering the Lehman Brothers Collapse

Big ouch for the global economy. Seemed to come out of left field. Sound familiar? It should, because this has happened before -- and not all that long ago.

The question now is, who stands to profit from the collapse of these Goliaths? Somebody is. And we'll see this again and again until we can pinpoint the source.

Meantime, we have front row seats for this theatre of mass destruction. Bonus points if you can guess where that line came from.

15 September 2008

'Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office'

I'm at a Starbucks near Cornell University, listening to a college-age girl make employment calls at a table nearby. Some of her responses make me wince, mainly because I remember saying them myself: "My weaknesses? I think I work too hard ... Well, in five years I hope to be working at a firm much like yours..."

As a co-ed looking for white collar work, my rejection count was way higher than the job offers I received. At first I thought I was just unlikeable (in fact, I still kinda think that), but then I came across the book above.

If you're the kind of woman I am, you'd feel really lame getting caught holding a book called Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office, but it's direct, pragmatic and damn useful -- well worth the minor nick to your dignity. (Don't take my word for it; check out the table of contents.)

After a few minutes' perusal, I became conscious of three really dumb things I do in professional settings:
  1. I tilt my head and giggle.
  2. I turn nurturing execs into father figures.
  3. I position hard statements as questions, not facts, as if I'm seeking approval for having an opinion.
Learning the above facts about myself was pretty humiliating -- an emotion I think is crucial to feel if you're serious about changing your game. Once I became aware of this behavior, I could start making the necessary changes. (It was hard. You wouldn't think so, but it was.) 

After a month or two, I got a job that eventually became an executive position. It was a first for a woman in that company, and the department I headed -- marketing! -- never formally existed before.

Not bad for five minutes, a little embarrassment, and the willingness to make a tectonic mental shift.

Why Yammer Rocks Well

One of the hazards of remote employment is the immense feeling of isolation you get after the hazy honeymoon weeks of beer, donuts and ironic pyjamas have passed. Most of my team members at Watershed Publishing are accessible all day via email, but the messages feel more like tasks than conversations. Have I said the right thing? Do I need to act on this? May I archive you now?

So, possibly because I nagged him like a teeny bopper, the Chief Operating Officer at Watershed created a Yammer account for us. (Think intra-office microblogging.) I just downloaded the desktop app, which is a lot like twhirl for Twitter -- an interface I happen to be intimately familiar with.

Yammer was quiet for the first coupla days (see image above? ALL ME! ALMOST ALL DAY!), I think because we weren't sure what to do with it or how we should present ourselves. I secretly worried we'd feel constricted by its inherent corporateness: the platform was provided by our superiors, and they'd also be using it, so would they quietly judge us if we logged in one morning and went, "Ugh. Long night"?

After a bit of feeling-out time (and a few non-work contributions by the COO himself), my reservations felt inconsequential. Yammer has the dual effect of making everyone immediately aware of tasks that need handling, and of investing us all with a sense of community. 

Oddly enough, it's also a really good way to get to know everyone you work with. Even in an office setting,  that's difficult because people like to cluster and clique. (Of the 20+ in-office employees at my old job, I got to know maybe 5 or 6 on a really personal level. And that's because we were all forced to have lunch together at one point or another.)

So yeah. Yammer: highly recommended, especially for an enterprise team that's geographically far-flung.

Worst. Night. Ever.

Couldn't sleep at all last night. And when I finally did, I dreamt Haitian cows and hyenas were trying to push me off a cliff.

Then the alarm went off, and I thought I'd gotten up, but really I was still dreaming. And in that next REM torture session, I was sitting before a long stream of marketing blog posts that needed intensive correcting and were missing HTML. It was horrible. Just horrible.

12 September 2008

Bill and Ted, Ben and Jerry, Bill and Jerry.

Two of a kind? Birds of a feather? Something like that.

See the review.

10 September 2008

Politics As Usual

Last night my uncle sent the following chain letter, titled "Reason to vote for McCain," to all 498325948540930849 members of the family:

Okay, let's work this out logically without a lot of emotion.

If you vote for Obama....

You get this.....

But if you vote for McCain....

You get this...

I don't know about you guys, but looking at this in a logical manner, McCain appears to be the better candidate.

This is the kind of thing anthropologists will use to pad future anthologies about the political circus. (Which is a really nice euphemism for Wacky Crap that, in Lieu of Thoughtful Campaign Research, May Actually Affect the Appointment of a World Leader.)

If nothing else, though, it's hard proof that someone out there is still producing chain letters. The only thing scarier than that is who. Maybe it's Zany Uncle Tad, who just got broadband installed on his office computer. But what if it's your very own mutti or vati?

The thought is enough to chill the blood.


Yesterday Benj decided that I'm spending too much time at home. Around 8pm or so he pulled me out of bed, where I was lying in sort of a fetal position, and gathered up a hoodie, jeans and some shoes I could step into.

Stringing my white iPod cords around my neck, he looked me firmly in the face and said, "It's a crisp beautiful night. You need a walk. You need to REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE." Then he pressed three dollars into my hand and said, "Go get a marshmallow square."

I picked up my leaden feet and walked out the door, taking care to slam it and stomp so he'd know I wasn't doing this willingly. The air was nice, the music depressing. (Why do I listen to so much Sylvie Lewis?) I walked to DeWitt Park, located a dry bench, and reclined upon it so I could watch the sky and contemplate ways to punish Benj for shoving me out into the cloying air.

Thoughts rose up, volleyed, congealed. I made no big emotional breakthroughs, but I did decide now was not the time for a marshmallow square. I walked to Starbucks, had an iced coffee (sweetened!) and watched college girls pick out travel mugs. 

I used to do lame shit like that too, under the premise they would actually help me study. They did not. I sometimes wonder what happened to the mugs I so copiously collected. Did they go to the same lost place as my Christmas music? My favorite ring? My Urban Outfitters arm socks?

I sipped noisily, using my finger to wipe away the fog around my plastic cup. Beside me, a boy called his friend to ask for her notes on The Great Gatsby. "I'm at Starbucks," he said. "No, it can wait, I'd never ask you to walk somewhere. I said I'd never ask you to walk somewhere."

He repeated that last sentence two more times, which led me to conclude he was damn well trying to get her to walk somewhere. I finished my drink. My fingertips were frostbitten and I did not want to sit around chewing the ice, so I threw the cup in the trash, buried my earbuds back into my head, and walked out into the damp blue night.

Near home, I saw someone running toward me and waving his hands. It was a confusing gesture and I pulled out my earbuds (why?) and stopped to see if I could recognize who it was.

Benj grabbed me before I even identified him (could I use a new prescription?) and breathlessly cried, "I was running up and down the street, looking for you! I didn't want to leave home because I thought you might come back before I did, and I kept popping my head out at the same time as the girl next door, so I think she thinks I'm mad."

He bubbled happily on and I put my arm around his waist. It was a nice solid feeling. Close to home, he raised an arm expansively and said, "Look, neighbours, I'm not crazy! I was looking for someone. I was looking for my little love." And he squeezed, and I was happy, and together we watched the last half-hour of Fringe.

09 September 2008

Online 'Companion Piece' to Kirchner's 'Street Scenes'

Kirchner and the Berlin Street is just another art exhibit I wish I could catch. Thankfully the MoMA, that mecca of innovation in art and design, put together an online companion piece where you can see all the work, compare them side-by-side to artist Ernst Kirchner's original drafts, and even peruse his sketchbooks.

The site was produced by Behavior Design, which tricked it out just enough to make it intuitive, but not so much that the site becomes another drive-by victim of Web 2.0 hype.

More about it here.

05 September 2008

Oh Yeah, and Before I Forget...

Here's "Shoe Circus," the Microsoft ad with Seinfeld that everybody's going all bananas about. (And not in a fun way.)

Went live yesterday. I actually sorta liked it. But after reading all the negging, you start seeing what other people are seeing, and then you start to think the ad objectively sucks.

I don't want to be that kind of blogger, so put me on the record and try me thus: I liked it. That's right, I liked it!

*flinches reflexively*

Way to Pass the Buck!

AdBusters blames hipsters for its failure to remain relevant. Says the Guardian (arguably the hippest of international print-based news sources): "[Hipsters are] just fashion people, doing what fashion people have always done. Don't blame them for the demise of counterculture." Hear, hear.

Hey, speaking of hipsters...

Random Work-at-Home Discoveries

Never again!

If you're a lazy bastard cursed with an incurable affinity for kiwi, I've got news for you:

YOU CAN EAT THEM WITH THE SKIN ON! Just make sure the kiwi's a little on the overripe side, otherwise things can get hairy.

Reason #486 to NEVER. WALK. IN. PUBLIC.

information I never wanted shared with Creepy Neighbors & Co.


Invent your own caption! Big ups to @cdny for this jewel of a find.

In other news, Palin's speech at the RNC last night drew 37 million viewers -- about 1.4 million viewers shy of Obama's acceptance speech at the DNC, which appeared on two more networks than Palin's did.

One growing variable fueling GOP passion is perceived media bias in Obama's favor. More on that in the link above. If what you want next year is a party switch as well as a change in administration, I suggest picking your battles (especially if you blog), providing compelling data -- and making sure to vote.

03 September 2008

What, McCain Can't Deal with Tough Questions?

The following interview between CNN's Campbell Brown and McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds resulted in the McCain campaign canceling an anticipated appearance on Larry King Live:

The tempest stirred when Brown confronted Bounds about why the McCain campaign elected Sarah Palin, a relatively inexperienced running-mate, after "[making foreign policy experience] a big issue in this campaign." Bounds said Palin served as head of the Alaska National Guard, experience Senator Obama lacks.

Brown then asked Bounds to furnish "one decision [Palin] made as commander-in-chief of the Alaska National Guard." He failed to provide one, and tried wriggling out of the topic, but Brown doggedly pursued a straight answer. (It never appeared.)

The next morning, McCain aides announced the Senator would not honor his appearance on CNN's Larry King Live. According to spokeswoman Maria Comella:
After a relentless refusal by certain on-air reporters to come to terms with John McCain’s selection of Alaska’s sitting governor as our party’s nominee for vice president, we decided John McCain’s time would be better served elsewhere.
Thanks Benj for the link.

All Talk, No Action. Still Stealing?

Could this be construed as creative theft? I want to say yes, but I'm not sure. Seems like Amalgamated manipulated the original idea just enough to slip out of the line of fire.

02 September 2008

Google Debuts Chrome Browser -- Today!

Curious? Read the comic. Puzzled? Here's help.

Also see screenshots.