Poor customer service annoys me mightily. Today, the following exchange with an employee of the company formerly known as… (rhymes with Hinko’s):

“I know I can email you a document to be printed; could I also email you a fax to be sent out? My fax is broken.”
“No.”
“Why not?”
“Because it’s not a service we provide.”
“Why not?”
“Well, how would you come in and pay for it?”
“Umm…I’d give you my credit card over the phone like a normal human being?”
“Oh. Ok. Send it.”

He got it easier than the waitress who chose to stand around and talk with her pals instead of taking our order last week, let me tell you. Hey, brain trust — if I had time to come in and pay for it in person, don’t you think I’d just fax it myself while I was there? Sheesh.

Via my friend Kim:

Barbie, that plastic icon of girlhood fantasy play, is routinely tortured by children, research has found. The methods of mutilation are varied and creative, ranging from scalping to decapitation, burning, breaking and even microwaving, according to academics from the University of Bath.

Read the rest of the article, it’s hilarious.

Personally, I find “the idea that overweight little girls might be jealous of Barbie for being the girl who had everything, including a tiny waist” especially hilarious. I never wanted to look like my skanky 1980s Malibu Barbie.

(On the other hand, my mom’s hand-me-down 1959 Barbie kicked ass. I still have her, complete with gold lamé suit and killer shoes. Wouldn’t mind looking like that…she permanently appears to be one step away from getting crocked on cocktails no matter how you pose or dress her).

Reasons bloggers hate the mainstream media (from McSweeney’s):

The MSM is too liberal.

Professor always calls on the MSM.

Bloggers got stood up at prom. By the MSM.

After reading (and laughing at) this list, am I the only one who pictures Molly Ringwald getting stood up for prom in Pretty in Pink? I mean, gosh, if Andrew McCarthy’s character wasn’t awfully old-money MSM, and Molly’s bloggeresque, I don’t know what is…

What will Amazon think of next? They’ve started a new program called Amazon Connect which allows authors to keep a mini-blog related to their books. Mine is here. Look for the full program to launch this month. (More here from Boing Boing).

Then, there’s Squidoo. It’s a site designed to match subject experts and people looking for information. (Think “About.com with a million less ads per page”). Squidoo calls their subject matter pages “lenses.” My spinning one is here. I’m curious to see how that site develops over time; some interesting people are involved with the project.

Interesting commentary on Cleveland brain drain / yuppification here (via BFD):

(Ah, Cleveland, forever an Eastern European city at heart, forever marching on its stomach and searching for that existentially soothing buzz!) No matter that the people next to you at your Cleveland bar are likely to be lost if they tried to make conversation without prompting from the two giant TV’s overhead, especially since only 11.4% of city residents over 25 have achieved a bachelor’s degree or higher; nevermind that almost no one among the pool of people you’ll meet while you’re out there enjoying the city on the cheap is at the top of their profession–just keep slugging down those drinks and believe in Cleveland.

It is true that people living here have a tendency to justify it based on cost. It’s also true we compare Cleveland to cities such as Chicago and NYC instead of allowing it to stand on its own merits. “Why, Coventry is the Wicker Park of Cleveland!” we’ll say to the visiting Chicagoan, or “Our Little Italy’s just as nice as New York’s, but smaller!”

What does that say about us?

Last month, right after our return from Boston, I wrote a post about the Feagler/blog issue that included a discussion of Cleveland’s inability to accept new or innovative concepts. I said that this city “happily chops people down to size, but only rarely nurtures growth.” That isn’t entirely true. It nurtures some growth, but usually the wrong kind. Crocker Parks instead of a waterfront park. Legacy Villages instead of (historical) legacy buildings…

Wow, the comedy gold is just gushing today! Ann Coulter wrote a Kwanzaa carol!

(Sing to “Jingle Bells”)

Kwanzaa bells, dashikis sell
Whitey has to pay;
Burning, shooting, oh what fun
On this made-up holiday!

and…

Now the “holiday” concocted by an FBI dupe is honored in a presidential proclamation and public schools across the nation. Bush called Kwanzaa a holiday that promotes “unity” and “faith.” Faith in what? Liberals’ unbounded capacity to respect any faith but Christianity?

The last I checked, Christmas as she is celebrated in the U.S. is a (mere) 130-year-old Victorian construct. Its modern rituals and observances come, for the most part, from the holiday customs of Queen Victoria’s own German husband, Prince Albert (who, despite rumors to the contrary, is not in a can). Before 1875 in the U.S. colonies, only those strange German settlers brought trees inside to celebrate, and even they’re just watered-down versions of pagan Yule trees.

(The General Court of Massachusetts even enacted a law in 1659 making any observance of December 25 a penal offense; people were fined for hanging decorations. Damn those Massachusetts activist judges!)

Next time you want a really authentic holiday tree, hang a few victims on the lower branches of an evergreen and then strew their entrails over and around it. Trees were so sacred to the pagan Germanic tribes that someone who once stripped bark off a particularly holy specimen was flayed for it — his skin then attached over the tree’s wound like a giant Band-Aid. To prove his point during a sermon, St. Boniface chopped down a sacred oak, which has also somehow made it into the Christmas tree myth.

(You think I’m making this stuff up? Believe me, I’m not. Early Germanic pagan religious practices and their transfer to / syncretic relationship with Christanity is my academic specialty).

Let’s not even get into St. Nicholas/Santa — I point you to David Sedaris’ essay “Six To Eight Black Men” in Dress Your Family In Corduroy and Denim on that.

If the African-American community wishes to celebrate their winter holiday of choice in a way that you don’t think is real or authentic, Ann, look in the mirror. We’re not doing it “right” either. And neither are other religions, if you want to claim that new forms of cultural/religious observance aren’t ok. NEO blogger Jill Miller Zimon has had a really interesting series this week on how her family celebrates Chanukah, for example, and Jeff Hess wrote this post about Jewish assimilation.

Things change, Ann.

I don’t speak for African-Americans who celebrate Kwanzaa. Frankly, I don’t think I know any who do. But it’s their choice and their right to celebrate what they want, in the way they want, regardless of your opinions on the holiday’s origins. Otherwise, to avoid being hypocritical, I’ll see you at the Temple of Osiris or any other pre-Christian life/death/rebirth god born of a virgin after a flood.

Knight Rider season one is available for download on iTunes. You know what that means, right?

THE A-TEAM CAN’T BE FAR BEHIND, FOOL!

Because you don’t need no K.I.T.T. when you’ve got Mr. T riding shotgun.

(Link goes to story about a new GPS car navigation system that uses Mr. T & other celebrity voices to get where you’re going, including audio clips of Mr. T — awesome!)

Right after Michael wrote about this very problem, I caught some little MySpace-r hotlinking my images. Specifically, the one used in this post. So I changed the image around and grabbed some before/after screenshots. Who knew KJJK was so into man-on-leprechaun love? Now the world can know exactly what he means when he talks about his lucky charms…

Update: He logged in and STILL didn’t change it. So I had to Goatse him. DO NOT CLICK ON THE KJJK MYSPACE LINK FROM WORK — you’ve been warned!

I can’t even count the number of times I’ve had to say “Why does this not even surprise me?” during the Bush administration. So, again — why does this not even surprise me?

And, just for giggles, here’s the results of a Google News search for “Pentagon spying gay” — as of today, only 36 stories. By contrast, check the results for “Elton John” — 4,480 stories.

While I’m certainly glad that Sir Elton could marry his longtime partner, and thrilled to hear that they’re having a lovely honeymoon in Venice, don’t you think the first story warrants a little more national press coverage? Even if you’re not gay, you have to admit it’s disturbing that the government is monitoring not only gay rights groups, but also other nonviolent protesters such as the Quakers. The Quakers, for heaven’s sake! They’re not exactly the Black Panthers, are they?

But, back to the gay terrorists… from the original article at the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network:

According to recent press reports, Pentagon officials have been spying on what they call “suspicious” meetings by civilian groups, including student groups opposed to the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual military personnel. The story, first reported by Lisa Myers and NBC News last week, noted that Pentagon investigators had records pertaining to April protests at the State University of New York at Albany and William Patterson College in New Jersey. A February protest at NYU was also listed, along with the law school’s LGBT advocacy group OUTlaw, which was classified as “possibly violent” by the Pentagon. A UC-Santa Cruz “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” protest, which included a gay kiss-in, was labeled as a “credible threat” of terrorism.

Yup, you know those filthy terrorists. Always invading our country and kissing people.

(I can’t believe Ann Coulter forgot to add that to her list. We should invade their countries, kill their leaders, convert them to Christianity and most importantly, STOP ALL THAT KISSING!!!)

The only thing I love more than my boyfriend, family and furry black children is my Christmas present. Meet Julia:

She was first employed on Christmas morning to make latkes (hey — merry festive December holiday of your choice — I wanted latkes, damn it!), and I do believe I may have kissed her afterward. Imagine poor Tamas, watching me make out with an appliance. Or don’t. Your call.

Well, she’s not just any appliance, she’s a KitchenAid! An aid to my kitchen! A companion to gifts from others (How To Be A Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson…mmm). In short, my new kitchen pal. Yes, she is named after the Julia. Speaking of whom — has anyone read Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen? Reviews have been so mixed, yet it sounds hilarious. Many of the bad reviews have been of the “well, she’s just a blogger, what does she know?” style of criticism. In other words, lame.

I have the week off from my part-time job, which is fabulous — there’s much to catch up on and hey — it’s t-minus 10 days til my birthday! There are festivities to plan!

From Chas Rich’s Neobabble blog at Cleveland.com, something that’s annoyed the living hell out of me ever since it passed:

One of the unintended consequences of “Gay Marriage Ban” (or if you prefer, “Marriage Protection Amendment”) that amended the Ohio Constitution back in 2004, was the conflict with the domestic violence law.

Last March, a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge found that the Amendment invalidated part of the domestic violence law.

The amendment denies recognition in the eyes of the law of unmarried couples as having a relationship approximating marriage. Domestic violence law, grants such recognition. This particular case is still under appeal to the 8th Ohio District Court of Appeals.

A Cleveland Municipal Court also reached a similar result.

That doesn’t mean that those who who commit domestic violence aren’t charged. They can still be charged with assault and battery. It’s just that they aren’t subject to harder penalties and extra protections to the victims are not possible.

Other Municipal Courts and the 12th District, though, have found that the amendment has no effect on domestic violence law.

Now another Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge has ruled that language in the amendment violates the US Constitution.

Finally, we might be on the way to fixing this particular bit of legal technicality-idiocy…or at the very least, forwarding it to a higher court for review. A higher court which, hopefully, won’t be so anti-gay that they end up anti-woman, too.

(Then again, this is Ohio. I haven’t much hope for anything progressive here anymore. Sorry, but it’s true).