Archive for December, 2010

My Top 10 Lies of 2010

This doesn’t look much like me. And that’s the truth.

I definitely do not endorse lying. But I would be lying if I said that I never did it.

The best I can say is that I don’t do it to hurt anyone. If there is such a thing as “white lies,” I claim that mine fall into that category.

Anyway, here are my top 10 lies of 2010:

1. “I’m 21.”

Before I turned 21 this year, I told that lie a few times. Of course, I would never, ever use fake ID to back it up. Never never. Honestly, hardly ever.

2. “I weigh 110.”

Yeah, right. Nobody believed that one, but they were nice and pretended to believe it.

3. “I’m a complete ditz with computers.”

Actually, I’m not. But there was a cute tech support guy at the hospital where I had my summer internship. He showed me lots of moves that I already knew about. On the computer, I mean.

4. “It’s just the right size.”

A guy I was dating asked if the passenger seat of his car was comfortable for me. Actually, it was a little small, but I know how sensitive guys can be about their cars. And if you want to read that as a metaphor for something else, feel free. 🙂

5. “I’ll be ready in two minutes.”

Make that 20 minutes. But there’s a reason. If you make a guy wait a little while (but not too long), the anticipation makes him more eager and excited.

6. “I just wear whatever is in the closet.”

Uh-uh. Not even at school, where our style of dress is very casual. I’m no Serena van der Woodsen, but I do my best to look good.

7. “It was only $50.”

My Alice + Olivia cardigan was really over $200, but it is comfortable, tres sexy, and worth every penny. And I bought it with my own money: I just didn’t want the ‘rents to bug me about it.

8. “I absolutely love basketball!”

When you’re dealing with testosterone, you have to make a few compromises. I don’t care much about basketball but I like the guy. So it’s only fair to do some things that he likes to do. Besides the obvious.

9. “I’m only going to eat a little bit of that.”

A serving of ice cream has no calories if you only eat half, so that’s what I did on Mountain Day. Half of this serving, and half of that one. It ended up being more than a little bit, but it was good!

10. “It’s my natural hair color.”

No, it’s another miracle of modern chemistry. But I’m glad you like it. 🙂

Copyright 2010 by Rinth de Shadley.


New Gossip Girl Info Site!

I’m ashamed that I didn’t know about it before, but tonight I found the Gossip Girl Wiki site.

It has facts about the Gossip Girl characters and locations. Those include all the regular characters (naturally), as well as the schools (Constance, St. Jude, Columbia University), and so on.

Because it’s fan-based, we can contribute facts or trivia to make the site better for everyone. You can also sign up for an account on the site.

If you forget the Web address, don’t worry about looking for this blog article. I’ve added a Gossip Girl Wiki link to the “Blogroll” on the right side of my blog.

P.S. I’m back home for December recess. I love school but I love coming home, too. Tomorrow, Sarah (my BFF) and I are going Christmas shopping and will just relax for a while.

Exam Time

The rest of the week is devoted to studying for and taking exams.

My next blog will be written after I get home for December recess.

I hope that you have a great week!

Ttfn ...

Needless Compromise Gives Obama a Headache

President Obama is getting a tough lesson in the evils of pre-emptive compromise.

Last week, his tax-cut compromise with Republicans was blasted from every direction. As usual, he had agreed to all of the Republicans’ key demands before negotiations even started.

His pre-emptive compromise agreed to extra tax cuts  for billionaires, including lower estate taxes. That broke one of his campaign promises and enraged most Democrats. In order to benefit people who already have billions of dollars, it would both increase the government’s budget deficit and worsen inequality in America. Deficits are now the highest they’ve ever been. Inequality is the highest it’s been since 1928.

Obama tried to sweeten the compromise by insisting on a few good things, such as extended unemployment benefits and tax cuts for people making under $200,000 a year ($250,000 for families). That enraged Senate Republicans, who think that the non-rich should just go ahead and die already.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell: "If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population."

Health Care Reform Compromise Backfires

Yesterday, another pre-emptive compromise backfired on the president.

To smooth passage of health care reform, President Obama agreed with Republicans to give up demands for a public health insurance program, single-payer, or “Medicare for everyone.” Any of those would have put pressure on insurance companies to treat their customers fairly. If people didn’t like how their private health insurance company treated them, then they could enroll in the government plan. So that was unacceptable.

But the only way to make a Republican-friendly health care reform work was to incorporate Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch’s 1993 proposal that required everyone to buy health insurance. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had signed that same requirement into law as governor of Massachusetts. Without it, healthy people would wait until they got sick to buy insurance, so the system would quickly go bankrupt.

So the health care reform bill contained the Republican idea of an “individual mandate” for all Americans to buy health insurance, while providing assistance and exceptions for the poor.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney: Still too creepy for words. Photo: AP.

Now, that pre-emptive compromise has come back to bite Obama. And us.

Republicans are screaming about how oppressive the individual mandate is, hoping that most people won’t know it was their idea in the first place. A federal judge in Virginia has ruled that the individual mandate is unconstitutional.

The court ruling wasn’t unexpected, since the judge is a Republican appointed by the Bush-Cheney administration. However, the entire health care reform is now in danger because the next stop is the U.S. Supreme Court. Under Chief Justice John Roberts, the Supreme Court is controlled by Republicans who have not been shy about ignoring precedents to make political rulings such as Citizens United, which allows corporations to buy elections. They will try very hard to destroy the parts of health care reform that benefit most Americans.

The Real Lesson

The real lesson is that when you know what’s right, you should do it. Compromise only on points that really should be negotiable.

And don’t, like President Obama, give up all your important principles before negotiations even start.

Copyright 2010 by Rinth de Shadley.

Gossip Girl to the Rescue

Blair confronts Juliet in Serena’s hospital room. This never happened in the episode, so it must be either an outtake or a posed publicity shot. Photo: The CW.

Last week on “Gossip Girl,” Blair and Dan decided to go after Juliet for framing, kidnapping, and almost killing Serena with a drug overdose.

This week, they had no idea how to find Juliet. So they emailed Gossip Girl, the unknown person who runs the gossip Web site. She seems to know everything.

And Gossip Girl apparently does know everything. She sent them to an address in Connecticut where they found a former classmate of Serena’s named Damien. He had sold Juliet the drugs that she used on Serena.

Meanwhile, Juliet spotted Blair and Dan in her Connecticut hometown, so she fled back to New York. It sounded like she was planning to kill Serena. Instead, she sneaked into Serena’s hospital room at the Ostroff Center and confessed everything to her.

Juliet explained that her brother Ben, who had been Serena’s teacher, was accused of statutory rape for sleeping with her. Except that he didn’t sleep with her, even though Juliet saw “Serena’s signature” on the accusation. That’s why she blamed Serena for having her brother sent to prison.

Serena and Juliet left the hospital and went to a party that Lily and Chuck were giving at the Empire Hotel. They confronted Lily, who had falsely accused Ben of sleeping with Serena and then forged Serena’s signature on the rape accusation. It turned out that Lily not only had Serena’s innocent teacher put in prison, but she was also planning to sell Chuck’s company behind his back.

It wasn’t a good day for Lily, who has always been a little stupid but never seemed really horrible before this episode. Everyone ended up being angry at her, even Rufus. Of course, the fact that she made a false accusation and forged her daughter’s signature on a police document didn’t mean she was in any trouble beyond that. It’s a TV show, after all.

At the end of the episode, Blair, Serena, Dan, Chuck, and Nate had a holiday dinner and then went their separate ways for the December break. Chuck went to Australia to get his evil uncle’s help and stop Lily from selling the company. Serena went to Connecticut to clear Ben’s name and get him released from prison. Nate called his Dad, who was in prison for insider trading and was about to be released. Nate invited his Dad to stay with him instead of going to a halfway house.

Dan decided to stay in the city and write. Blair decided to stay in the city and look after Dan. In the final scenes, did I see sparks of attraction between the two of them, now that Dan and Serena are kind of on a friends basis? I wonder if Blair and Dan are going to be an item in the spring?

What I didn’t like: Most of the episode didn’t make any sense. For no reason, Juliet went from wanting to destroy Serena to confessing and wanting to help Serena. Lily said she accused Ben of statutory rape to get Serena re-admitted as a student at Constance. I don’t see the connection between those two things. Lily had Serena committed to the mental hospital because she thought Serena had tried to commit suicide. Because she was committed, Serena was basically a prisoner: Blair and Dan couldn’t get in to see her. But Juliet just walked into Serena’s hospital room. Then she and Serena just walked out, no problem. And Lily was probably guilty of at least two or three serious crimes for falsely accusing Ben, forging police documents, and having an innocent person sent to prison. But there wasn’t even a hint that it might cause any legal problem for her. And if Chuck wanted to stop Lily from selling his company, all he needed to do was turn her in to the police.

The next new episode is January 24.

As Gossip Girl would say, “See you then, Upper East Siders. X-o-x-o.”

Copyright 2010 by Rinth de Shadley.

President Obama Makes a Bad Deal

President Obama defends his compromise on tax cuts. Photo: The New York Times.

A lot of people are angry at President Obama for giving in to Republican blackmail on tax cuts.

The tax cut bill passed by the Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives would have given a tax cut to everyone on the first $250,000 of income. But that wasn’t good enough for Senate Republicans, who vowed to block all legislation until they got extra tax cuts for their friends making over $250,000 a year.

Under the Democratic tax cut bills, people making $20,000 a year would get a tax cut on all of it. So would people making $200,000 a year. So would families making $250,000 a year. They’d get a tax cut on all their income. All of it.

People making billions of dollars a year would get a tax cut on their first $250,000 of income. All of it. But they wouldn’t get a tax cut on on income over that amount.

Of course, people who make that much money pay lower taxes anyway because a lot of their income is taxed as capital gains at a rate of 10 to 15 percent. So hedge fund managers who make a billion dollars a year pay lower tax rates than their assistants who make only $30,000 a year. Somehow, Republicans think that’s just wonderful and totally fair.

I don’t know if I’m angry at President Obama. If that really was the best deal he could make for the American people, then okay. Even he said that he didn’t like parts of the deal.

What bothers me is that I don’t think it was the best deal that the president could make for the American people.

A majority of Americans in both major parties supported a tax cut on the first $250,000 of income and not over that amount. Corporate profits are through the roof. Wall Street never had it so good.

So we’re supposed to believe that with wars and unemployment and crumbling infrastructure and deficits as far as the eye can see, Wall Street needs another tax cut? And that Republicans were justified to block unemployment benefits, middle class tax cuts, and nuclear missile treaties just to help their friends on Wall Street?

President Obama got the best deal he could get without having to fight very hard for it. That’s what disappoints me. He wouldn’t fight. We need a president who will fight for us.

Yes, you can say it’s easy for me to support tax increases because I’m a student and won’t have to pay them. But my family would have a tax increase. Even my Dad, who’s a Republican, supports extending tax cuts only up to $250,000. He knows what’s good for this country. It’s not a matter of how much money you make or which political party you support. It’s a matter of what’s right.

But instead of what’s right, we got “the best deal that President Obama could get.”

Copyright 2010 by Rinth de Shadley.

Protect Your Privacy on Wi-Fi Networks

Be careful when you use wireless networks. Photo: BBC.

A big problem with our stupid airport security is that it makes people think all security is stupid.

But it’s not. Especially when you’re using your computer over a wireless (wi-fi) network.

If you check your email, log into Facebook, or buy something, you’re sending your private information over a wireless network. Some of the information will be “encrypted” so that it’s unreadable. But a lot of it won’t. Eavesdroppers can intercept and read any information that isn’t encrypted.

That even applies to Web sites that encrypt your login information, like your user name and password. Those Web sites forgot to encrypt the little text files, called “cookies,” that they send in response to your login. Someone can intercept those cookies and get your login information. There’s a Web browser add-in called Firesheep that does it.

Even if they don’t get your login information or your cookies (I’m very careful about who I let touch my cookies), they can still intercept and see everything you do online. That includes what you write in emails, what Facebook pages you view, and what Web sites you visit.

I have both a Macbook and an iPod Touch, so I use wireless networks a lot. LITS provides wireless coverage on campus, and a lot of other places have it. It is of course pretty safe on campus. But I don’t want to risk anyone snooping on my personal information.

Fortunately, there are ways to protect yourself. With a PC or a Mac, you can use the GoTrusted Secure Tunnel service. For $5.99 a month, it encrypts all of the information you send over the wireless network. A free, advertising-supported product that does the same thing (for PCs only) is HotSpot Shield.

On your iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, you can go to the App Store and download VPN Express. The software itself is free but you pay for the amount of information you send over wireless networks.

Using the encryption services isn’t as simple as just connecting to the network. But it makes your personal information and your privacy a little safer.

Copyright 2010 by Rinth de Shadley.