*grumble*

Apr. 10th, 2010 12:15 am
badstar: (ten of wands)
I am again receiving emails from Tim, the Avon Lady, as of Wednesday.

I sent him an email demanding that he remove me from the list immediately and not send any more. He hasn't responded. Hopefully, I just won't get another email.

I was going to contact Avon directly, but when I tried to track down that information...well, they don't have a nice little contact form or anything ;ole that on their website. they have a snail mail address and phone number for their whole freakin' headquarters in Manhattan.

So I guess my next step will be to call them up and wade through the company directory until I get ahold of someone who can tell me who I need to talk to to get one of their representatives, with whom I have previously had problems with- to stop sending me promotional emails.
badstar: (i'm a genius)
I've made my views on things like this clear before- I hate Twitter. I mean really, truly loathe it beyond my ability to explain. Things like this are contributing to the crumbling of language, people's attention spans, privacy and social interaction. (and, as Gavin says, it goes against countless centuries of wisdom that tell us that your every single, solitary mere thought do not need to be given voice- and no one should have to be subjected to them.)

But Twitter at least has one thing going for it- it didn't sign me up by a default setting of its mere existence.

Google Buzz, on the other hand, did. I've turned it off.

When Google chat was introduced, it wasn't forced on me- I was asked if I wanted to enable it. When Google Wave came out a few months back, it asked if I wanted to try it- I never did, and it never tried to force me either (whatever happened to Google Wave, by the way? Never took off I guess?)

But I logged in the other day, saw something about Google Buzz and noticed that lo, it was enabled by default on my email account. I checked the settings and couldn't find any immediately noticeable way yo turn it off. So I went poking around a bit and found this blog post:

http://www.accmanpro.com/2010/02/11/google-buzz-off/

This post informs us:

However, it didn’t take me more than 20 minutes of having Buzz plugged into my email to realize: I DON’T WANT THIS SHIT. I may not be alone. Despite the claim to help me: ‘to start conversations about the things you find interesting,’ it does nothing of the sort. Instead, it adds in any ’stuff’ that people it has decided I am following put into their Buzz (a bit like Twitter) along with any other accounts that Google has linked via their profiles such as Flickr, Twitter, Google Reader, assorted blogs….the list goes on. In other words it is aggregating a pile of stuff and lobbing it over the wall into my GMail.

Additionally linked from that post was this:

http://www.businessinsider.com/warning-google-buzz-has-a-huge-privacy-flaw-2010-2

Which informs us that...

The problem is that -- by default -- the people you follow and the people that follow you are made public to anyone who looks at your profile.

In other words, before you change any settings in Google Buzz, someone could go into your profile and see the people you email and chat with most.

A Google spokesperson asked us to phrase this claim differently. Like this: "In other words, after you create your profile in Buzz, if you don't edit any of the default settings, someone could visit your profile and see the people you email and chat with most (provided you didn't edit this list during profile creation)."


And there's the part that, if you choose to use Buzz, informs us that they don't let you know that this information is all made public by default:

If a user notices the box, it might help users "catch" that they might be following people they don't want the world to know they're following. But you don't have to close the box to use Buzz. Closing the box does not trigger a warning or anything else that alerts the user they've agreed to publish a list of the people they email and chat with most.

(It all makes more sense if you read the rest of the post- I'm not copying the entire thing here. There are pictures to show you what they're talking about too.)

They also point out:

The good news for Google is that this is a very easy problem to fix. Google must either shut off auto-following, or it must make follower lists private by default as soon as possible.

But at least for now, it seems that Google doesn't agree with that.

If you want to know how to change your settings for privacy and whatnot, both posts include instructions on how to change them.

If you just want to turn off the fucking thing, log into gmail, scroll down to the very bottom of the screen where the tiny print is and you should see a link that says "turn off Buzz"- it's right next to "turn off chat".

you may need a magnifying glass and a tour guide...but it's there. *sigh*

Every day, I loathe technology a little more. Technology is supposed to make your life better, not more vapid, empty and lacking of any substance whatsoever.

You're not gonna convince me that this will in any way better my life. I see shit like this and I think more and more that the Amish have the right idea.
badstar: (Default)
Dear World,

You fail at weather. I hate you.

No love,

Fuego


Dear Baltimore,

You fail at snow removal. Monumentally so. I hate you.

Even less love,

Fuego
badstar: (Default)
I intend to post this far and wide.

Apollo: The Great God by Gregory Zorzos

I found this book a few weeks ago while scouring Amazon for books on Apollo. Rather excited to stumble on one that I hadn't heard of, I put out an inquiry in a few places. No one had heard of the author or the book. I decided to go ahead and order it. Even if it was mediocre at best, thirteen bucks plus shipping isn't terrible.

I received the book today and immediately started flipping through it. I could see right away that something was wrong. Very wrong. (Oh, how I long for mediocrity just now.) This book is self-published. Which doesn't mean it will be a bad book- there are many very high-quality, well-written books out there which have been self-published. I own a couple of them. This guy makes the decent self-published authors look bad.

The book (and please understand, I use the word "book" here with a very generous margin of error) is one hundred and fifty-two pages long. Of that, pages twenty-three through one hundred forty-nine plus page one hundred fifty-two are all images. Statues, vases, ancient coins, renaissance-era paintings, modern-day postage stamps. Oh, and one page containing two images titled Secret Symbols of Apollo- one of those so-called images is a grid of numbers that at first glance looks like a sudoku grid. The other is...well, I don't know. And I have no idea how we're supposed to know that these are secret symbols of Apollo- is that part of the secret?

Most of the images are fairly low-quality- often grainy or pixelated. Several are images of the same item, shown from a slightly different angle. Some of the images are duplicates- the same photo of the Apollo Belvedere appears on page twenty-three and forty-one with a cropped version of the same appearing on page forty. (But this is a nice, sharp higher-quality image!) None of them are captioned. No titles or artists given for the paintings, no dates or regions for the coins or statues. If the images were of decent quality with source information, the book would almost be worth it for the pictorial reference. As it is, what's there is less useful than your typical google image search. In fact, I suspect that that's just what this is. Minus any information that would come along with the image search.

As far as the text goes, there's nothing here that you can't find on http://www.theoi.com. In fact, there is significantly less. There is no bibliography. The author mentions a few other authors by last name (No first name. Who the hell is Hermann, for example?), but gives no titles of books. He cites some ancient sources but for the life of me I can't figure out what half of them are because he only uses abbreviations with no key. Every sentence is its own paragraph. The print is huge- sixteen, eighteen points? The first three paragraphs of the book appear on the back cover.

The writing is clumsy and awkward. I find myself wondering if it's an issue of having used a faulty translating service (the book appears to be available in eight different languages, and some of his other books are available in at least a half dozen additional languages.) or if he actually did the English translation himself, it would have been helpful to have someone with a stronger grasp of the language look over it. In any case, it really looks like the translation was done by a babelfish machine.

The er, high point of this book may very well be the author's introduction. Now, it's pretty standard to have a page or so about the author at the end of the book, and often a photo as well. What do we have here but four pages devoted to the author, along with several photos. Included is a numbered list of organizations that he belongs to and awards that he's won. The introduction informs us that "The author has wrote more than 500 books, board games, DVDs and cdroms about ancient and modern history in the fields of economics, technical, board games, martial arts, software, love affairs, feasibilities studies, research, case studies etc. As a reporter, from his teens, the author has written many articles in many newspapers, magazines etc. and was editor in chief in some of them."

(What, he wasn't editor-in-chief of all of them?)

This was when the book was published back in February 2009. As of right now, his Amazon.com author page informs us that "Author and his research work have been distinguished by a lot of official organizations, and Ministries, in Greece and all over the world.
The author has wrote more than 1.300 books, 350 board games, 650 DVDs and 280 cdroms/DVDroms about ancient and modern history in the fields of economics, technical, board games, martial arts, software, love affairs, feasibilities studies, research, case studies, learning languages, logodynamics, inner research etc.
As a reporter, from his teens, the author has written many articles in many newspapers, magazines etc. and was editor in chief in some of them."


Looking at these numbers cited, I initially wonder when he has time to eat or sleep- or breathe what with writing all those books. But then I look at the example in my hands and it becomes immediately apparent how he could conceivably have written so many books. Quantity is clearly the goal. Another book by the author, Hephaestus or Vulcan: The Greatest God was reviewed by another Amazon customer and relays my exact same complaints. (For some unknown reason, this book, which is only fifty-six pages long and almost all pictures costs more than Apollo. Did he have to spend more time on google looking for images or something that it jacked up the cost?)

Finally, when looking over the author's page on Amazon today, I saw a single discussion had been initiated back in September by another author claiming to hold proof of being plagiarized by Zorzos, and knowing of other authors with the same complaint against him. I've not found anything else on the internet regarding this, but that it's there at all is a glaring red flag, especially considering the number of works he claims to have produced.

For those of you who may be wondering, I filed a return request with Amazon within about an hour of opening the box.

No stars, no love, no thumbs up. If you want a book about Apollo, save your money. You could write a better one yourself. And if you don't feel like doing that, just pull up the page on Apollo at http://www.theoi.com.

(Feel free to link or repost, but if reposting, please link to my blog with this link: http://wp.me/plGqo-3S)
badstar: (Default)
So a couple of weeks ago I came across a book on Amazon, Apollo: The Great God by Gregory Zorzos. I ordered it a bit over a week ago and have been waiting for it since, including some stupidity on the delivery by the post office.

I just opened the box roughly three minutes ago and I can already tell anyone who wants to know more: Don't bother. It's self-published. I knew that before I ordered it. It doesn't mean the book is going to be bad- I have read books by other folks (on my friends list! Hi guys!) which are self-published and have no arguments about the quality of the writing.

Apparently, this is one example of the sort of self-published book that isn't of the greatest quality.

The book is 152 pages long. The cover is nice and shiny! The first three paragraphs of the book appear on the back cover. Pages 23-149 plus page 152 are noting but images- statuary, coins, renaissance-era paintings, modern day postage stamps. Including two images and the title "Apollo Secret Symbols" at the top- but no indication of where these symbols came from or how they are known to be "secret symbols". Basically, it seems that the guy did a google image search and pasted everything he found into a document and shipped it off to press.

The type is huge- 16 or 18-point maybe? Which I have to say- if you're visually impaired and want a book with some basic information on Apollo, here's one for you. The first four pages of the book are devoted to the author telling you how awesome he is- pictures, organizations he belongs to and awards he's won. There is a detailed, numbered list of every group that thinks he's awesome. (Or that he at least pays dues to) Apparently he's written more than 500 books, dvd's, cd-roms and board games on assorted ancient subjects. Five hundred???? I want to say that's an outrageous number, but if they're all like this book, I can totally believe it.

I have yet to carefully examine what little text there is, but so far as I can see, there is nothing contained in this book that can't be found on theoi.com

Also, the writing is rather awkward and clumsy. I can't decide if it was translated into English by a babelfish engine or if he used a rather sucky translating service. I'm assuming that some sort of translating service or the such was used, as the languages in which this book is available number in the double digits.

There is no bibliography, no explanation of any of the abbreviations used. Sadly, amazon provides no information to indicate that the book would be so useless.

I think I'm going to need to post a review.

ETA: Someone posted a discussion on the Author's Amazon page stating that he plagiarized her and other author's works. Awesome. Wish I had bothered to check this out before.

I think I am going to contact Amazon to see about the possibility of a return.
badstar: (Default)
Dear Job Recruiter,

Yes, I am looking for a job. And I was certainly happy to receive your email asking if I would be interested in an interview for a position with your company. It sounds great, really and I am, of course, in need of gainful employment.

However, I fail to understand why you would even begin to think that I may be right for the position for which you sent a description. It is located in Michigan. Perhaps you missed the fact that my Dice profile indicates that I am NOT interested in relocation. Okay, I forgive you. But there's also the fact that the description indicates that three years' experience with Cold Fusion and Apache and two years experience troubleshooting Linux and Novell servers are hard, unnegotiable "musts". Nowhere on my resumé do the words "Cold", "Fusion", "Apache", "Linux" or Novell" appear in any combination.

Even beyond that, the description indicates that you require a Master's Degree. A half-second glance just for that would tell you that I DON'T HAVE A COLLEGE DEGREE AT ALL.

My only guess is that you just send your description to every new profile that you see on the site. Stop wasting my time.

No love,

Fuego
badstar: (Default)
She's driving me nuts.

If anyone knows of a reason for this, or of a good deterrent, PLEASE do tell.

Every time Ferarri uses the litterbox, she then proceeds to scratch all round- in the box, on the box, the walls and floor around the box. She does this and just doesn't stop until I literally go over there and chase her away- I've watched her do this for ten minutes or more before, figuring she'd get tired of it, but no! and sometimes after being chased away, she'll wait a minute or so and go back to continue scratching.

She'll even get up and balance on the sides of the box to scratch in different places, one after the other, in the litter, on the side of the box, on the floor, on the wall, on the other wall, back to the floor, back to the litter.

Oh my god, I can't take it.

She's done this with a couple of different litter boxes- low sides, high sides, with different types of litter, it doesn't matter if the box has been scrubbed and has brand new litter, or if it hasn't been scooped in a day. I've seen her go to the box just to scratch around the area without actually using it.

There's not problem with her actually *using* the box. She doesn't have any health problems. She just scratches incessantly.
badstar: (Default)
"Close to Hopkins" as the only location information.

Uh...is that the main university campus? The hospital?

Hell, I just got an email back from one, turns out it's near the freakin' Peabody.

Really, people would it kill you to specify? We're talking completely different parts of the city here.
badstar: (Default)
I see so very many Pagans who are surprisingly ignorant of what I consider basic parts of Paganism. I consider basic knowledge about multiple pantheons, their traditions, their deities, to be necessary for anyone who calls themselves Pagan. I also see many Pagans out there who have no knowledge of astrology, Qabala, Tarot or any other divination system. In my opinion, and in the traditions in which I am initiated, knowledge of magic is considered extremely important to one's religious path. If you can't do any magic, are you really a Pagan? Even if you specialize in theurgy rather than thaumaturgy, knowledge of magic is vitally important.

This came as part of an email from a list that I'm on. Pagan, non-Hellenic, mostly local-based. The poster is pretty well-known in the Northeast (and probably, by this point in most of the rest of the country, at least to some people)and from all that I know, she's generally considered to be well-respected. I've met her a few times, but can't say too much more to that than "she was a very nice person to chat with."

I'm trying to come up with an intelligent response to this because my gawds, it pisses me off and I have a hard time just letting stuff like this go by without batting an eyelash.

Now, please keep in mind that I do not advocate the idea of not learning.

HOWEVER! That doesn't mean that any of these particular realms of knowledge are REQUIRED to be pagan.

Can anyone tell me WHY one needs to have multi-pantheoinc and traditional knowledge to be pagan?

Can anyone tell me WHY one needs to know Qabala, astrology or tarot to be pagan?

Can anyone tell me WHY one might not truly be pagan if one doesn't practice magic?

In discussing this, [livejournal.com profile] chironcentaur remarked that more and more, she distances herself from the label pagan, here's just another reason why (I tend to agree. It is a rare thing tha tI call myself "pagan") When you get right down to it, though, it's nearly impossible to completely avoid the label. So...I'm pagan.

So why is it that I should try to learn about a mystical system that I could never learn in its proper context because I am not a Jewish man of forty years of age or older? (To my Jewish friends, if I'm incorrect about my understanding of that as requisite to study Qabala, please do correct me)

Why must I learn astrology? I've done well so far without it (Though if others want to study and write about it, that' fine too. I'm more than happy to laugh my ass off at Stella Hyde's Darkside Zodiac books.)

Yeah, I work with tarot. On a very sporadic basis. I can't see my life being much different if I didn't. I can't see my religion being much different if I didn't either.

Why am I required to work magic to be pagan?

If it's so important in the systems to which she is initiated, fine. The folks who work in those systems are perfectly within their rights to say that certain practices are required.

But fer crying out loud lady, who died and left you with the right to determine what is necessary to call oneself "pagan" or not? Don't try to herd us all into the same barn and tell us we all need to have the same knowledge to qualify.
badstar: (Default)
Uhg...she's talking about football. And how weird it is that her cousin said that the Giants would win the Superbowl and OMG they did can you believe it!!!!!!!!!????? That's SO WEIRD!

I'll give you weird.

Headphones...quick...Ah, Athenaeum, where have you been all my life?
badstar: (Default)
Went to Zodiac tonight for dinner. Yay for super-messy chicken sandwich (for once I didn't order barbequeue barbeque- dammit, I can't type the word, I type "queue" too much at work.... - BARBECUE, dammit!!!! duck!) Spent a large chunk of the time with a couple of sappy lovebirds at the next table giving each other dental exams with their tongues and groping and whatnot. (If you've never been to Zodiac, well..."at the next table" means they're practically shoulder-to-shoulder with you.)

So these two were really irksome and I was seriously considering addressing them directly. I mean, for serious people, if you want to get it on, go somewhere that's not arm's distance from my dinner table.

In other news, I finished reading Scar Night last night (http://www.alanmcampbell.co.uk/) I recommend. The first third is kinda slow, but well-written. The rest of it though is quite great. I wait for the sequel this spring.

Now I need to decide what my fiction for the month of February will be...I'll probably try to make another effort to grab one of the books I own but never read.

But before I pick up another piece of fiction, dammit, I am going to finish Walden so I can move onto something else and make some progress on the CTP.

And again unrelated, I found a couple of poems by Keats to Apollo tonight. I will probably post them tomorrow.

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