Category Archives: Internet

Amazing Amy Poehler

 

Amy Poehler

 

Today I’m celebrating the funny, classy,  inspirational Amy Poehler. Poehler was recently named one of Glamour Magazine’s Women of the Year 2009 for her success as an entertainer and her ongoing projects that engage young women, like the web show Smart Girls at the Party. This ambitious comedian stars in her own prime time NBC show Parks and Recreation as well as voicing ten-year old dynamo Bessie Higgenbottom on Nickelodeon’s The Mighty B! a show she co-created with Erik Weise and Cynthia True.

Clips from Poehler’s interview on \”Inside the Actor\’s Studio\”.

My favorite Poehler sketch, despite numerous classics from her stint on SNL, is still the NYC UCB long form improv sketch from ASSSSCAT with Tina Fey “Monkey Boners”. Watch it below…

ASSSSCAT Improv TV special

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Tina and Amy “Monkey Boners”“, posted with vodpod

 

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Staying Hungry with Becky Blanton

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Becky Blanton Speaking at TED

Writing is hard. Among all the things I attempt to do well, with varying degrees of success, I find writing to be the most challenging. I really admire people who do it well, consistently and with passion.

Becky Blanton is one of those people. She was also a homeless person. Still is by definition of the Federal Government. Becky Blanton, through her writing and her lifestyle choices, raises some interesting questions about how we “see” people. Literally.

I discovered Blanton’s story at TED, a non-profit organization that brings together great minds from the fields of Technology, Entertainment and Design and challenges them to deliver the “talk of their lives”. The results are funny, shocking, tragic, revealing, entertaining and always inspirational. Blanton’s talk is about the year she spent living out of her van with the Rottweiler and her cat. What began as a great American road trip adventure ended in frustration, homelessness and depression. As Blanton states in her talk, she was amazed at how quickly she went from being a talented, hard working journalist to an invisible woman.

Becky Blanton: The Year I Was Homeless

What I found especially compelling about Blanton’s experience was her assertion that society equates living in a permanent structure with having value as a person. Think about it. Someone living in  a rundown little house on the edge of town is, by American standards, “better off” than someone living in clean, well maintained vehicle. My boyfriend’s parents love to regale us with stories of a couple they know who decided to live in their RV and travel the country. Breakdowns in the desert and noxious plumbing problems play out like another painful installment of National Lampoon’s “Vacation”. But at least for them it’s a lifestyle choice.

Recent unemployment statistics and housing foreclosures, however, are no laughing matter. The number of homeless in New York has risen 45% since 2002. Apparently one of Mayor Bloomberg’s solutions is to charge the working homeless who live in public shelters rent. In one case, a single mother making $8.40 an hour as a cashier at Sbarro was charged $360 in rent for her space at the shelter. Here’s what sticks out for me…

1) How the hell do businesses get away with paying someone $8.40 an hour? Oh, well it is above the Federally mandated minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. (Meanwhile members of Congress has awarded themselves 31,600 in pay raises over the last nine years.) In fact, 44% of Congress are millionaires.

2) How is this woman supposed to get herself out of the shelter and into a home of her own? I have no idea how anyone survives in New York on less than 60,000 a year.

3) Bloomberg just spent 100 million of his own money in his mayoral campaign. So, basically a multi-billionaire has decided it makes good sense to charge a homeless woman rent for her shelter. Mighty white of you, Mr. Bloomberg.

In a country as wealthy and resourceful as ours, there shouldn’t be any “working homeless”. We can do better than this. We can change this. Change starts with fresh perspective and Becky Blanton has some great ideas on how to change yours…check out her blog and maybe even find a place to feed the homeless (some of who may be working) this Thanksgiving.

Ivanka’s Trump Card

Ivanka Trump, 27 year old Executive Vice President of Development and Acquisitions, Trump Organization

Ivanka Trump, 27 year old Executive Vice President of Development and Acquisitions, Trump Organization

“Whatever it is you’re looking to do or make or sell, you build your business on the assumption that you can do it better, smarter, and more efficiently than the competition. Otherwise, what’s the point?”

Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ivanka-trump/going-it-alone-an-excerpt_b_319579.html

Let me begin with the admission that I have not read Ivanka Trump\’s new book, “Trump Card” recently published by Touchstone Books/Simon and Schuster. I chanced upon an excerpt from the book on the Huffington Post website soon after listening to an interview with Elinor Ostrom, 2009 winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics on NPR.

I was struck by how different these two successful women are in the circumstances of their upbringing and how that has effected their contributions, (or in Ivanka’s case might effect future contributions) to society.

I read a few more online articles on Ivanka Trump and by consensus she’s an accomplished, hard working and savvy businesswoman in her own right. I found an article on MSN.com touting her level headed handling of her celebrity and lack of a sense of entitlement. Psychotherapist and rich kid himself, Richard Clark had this to say about wealthy children, “The moment that a child begins to believe that they deserve their wealth is the moment where things will begin to go downhill. . . . The unhealthy, unproductive progeny of the wealthy are the ones who begin to believe their own press.”

By all accounts Ivanka hasn’t fallen into that trap. She’s the first to admit that she’s a child of great privilege, born with opportunities others were not. Still, she prefaces her book excerpt with the affirmation,

“We’ve all been dealt a winning hand and it is up to each of us to play it right and smart.’ This is the philosophy with which I operate in my day to day, and I hope that every reader walks away from my book with the feeling that life is a series of roads to success.”

While I applaud Ivanka’s desire to establish her own identity and means of success, (Paris Hilton was raised in similar circumstances and she’s a cautionary tabloid tale) we’re not all dealt such a winning hand. In a sense, I think, while the philosophy behind the book is well intentioned, it’s also incognizant. The fact is, there are many kids born with the same innate potential as Ms. Trump, intelligence, desire, talent, curiosity but for whatever reason are denied the tools with which to cultivate those innate gifts.

Malcolm Gladwell studies this conundrum at length in his recent book \”Outliers\” published by Little, Brown. Outliers is a term Gladwell uses to describe the uber successful members of our society. Bill Gates is the most obvious example but there are many others. He refutes the long held, cultural belief that successful people are just that much smarter, more talented, etc. On the contrary, he provides thoughtful and compelling evidence that success depends on a myriad of variables not the least of which is, who your parents are. Success is a product not only of the innate gifts with which one is born but also, and perhaps more so, of “history, community, opportunity and legacy”. All of which Ms. Trump has been gifted in spades.

So, is it really that special that Ivanka Trump is an author and successful executive (at her Father’s firm) with her own jewelry business? What can we really learn from her rise to success? Quite honestly, with all the advantages of being Ivanka Trump and a degree from Wharton School of Business shouldn’t she be expected to “do it better, smarter, and more efficiently than the competition”? If she couldn’t, who could?

What Lies Beneath

Patrick Bateman. American PsychoMore on the AutoAdmit controversy.

Here’s a link to an update on the AutoAdmit case from the blog “Feministe”.

Feministe

Most of the points I would make here Jill makes succinctly on her own site including a very important point on Jarret Cohen’s “freedom of speech” defense. “If Jarret Cohen wishes to offer bigots, racists, anti-Semites and misogynists such an unrestrained platform, then that’s his decision, but he needs to own it and not offer up pat justifications for behavior which has caused substantial harm to many other people.”

Great writer, Jill. What bothers me the most about what I’ve read while researching this case is the obscene amount of anti-feminist, anti-woman hate rants from men. Where does this shit come from? Here are a couple of fine examples, once again from men hiding behind pseudonyms.

This on the WSJ Law Blog…

Suetonius wrote:
Proof once again that “feminism” is a sham, since it holds fervently to two contradictory principles:
1. That women are every bit as tough and able to “handle it” (whatever “it” happens to be) as men emotionally and physically.
2. Any female who gets called a nasty name has the right to swoon, faint, and sob like Scarlett O’Hara with the vapors, and start flinging lawsuits at her (verbal) antagonists. Every time I hear someone taking modern “feminism” seriously, it makes me want to laugh. Because it is a laughable ideology.

Whoa! Mommy not nice to Suetonius?

Or this on another blog debating the merits of the case..

Too_Funny writes “The poor little girls Paris Hilton themselves around a prestigious law school instead of, you know, studying, flaunt whatever physical attributes they were lucky enough to be born with or acquire through surgery, insult the half of their class with condescension and snobbery, insult the other half with bitchiness and attitude, then go screaming and crying to daddy Warbucks when some of the people they spent years denigrading call them on their inadequacies and laugh at their failures.”

Wow. Not so much funny but damned insensitive. Does he know these women personally? And is denigrading a word?

In Margolick’s research for the Portfolio.com piece he found “it was women, particularly beautiful women, particularly beautiful women at the top law schools, particularly beautiful minority women at the top law schools, who were most often skewered, dissected, and fantasized about.”

What is that all about? And why, after years of trying to overcome these stereotypes, do discussions on harassment where women are concerned devolve into the old “wasn’t she really asking for it?” debate. Check out the postings on Ann Althouse’s blog for a long and interesting exchange Althouse.

There’s also a side exchange on Jill’s page, Feministe, where women discuss the popularity among young males of Patrick Bateman, the demented serial killer in American Psycho. One of the prolific posters on AutoAdmit uses Patrick Bateman as a pseudonym.

“I think the Patrick Bateman idolizing is really weird, too. I’m an undergrad and noticed the Facebook groups last year right around the time that the Duke lacrosse email was made public and have been squicked out ever since by the movie’s cult status among some guys my age.”

Yikes. And I thought guys were tools when I was in college.

So, I ask you. Why do some men hate women this way?

Buck Up, Bucko!

girl-crying-small-l1

Ok, this one’s gonna be a doosey.

Here’s a link to the article that my mother sent me a couple of days ago. The article, from Portfolio.com describes how “Cyber-bullying has reached a new low—at the highest levels of the professional world. So when anonymous attackers went after two Yale law students, they struck back and filed suit. Their case may help change the rules.”

Two-Lawyers-Fight-Cyber-Bullying

This case brings up a lot of questions and should spark serious debate on issues such as internet privacy, free speech, policing the internet and where we draw the line when “boys” behave very, very badly. Here’s Mom’s take on it….

Buck Up! Bucko!

Anthony Ciolli formerly of AutoAdmit lost a job with the prestigious law firm of Edwards, Angell, Palmer & Dodge who cited his association with Auto [[inserted to prevent giving it traffic]] Admit.com.  They wrote that Mr. Ciolli had failed to show “principles of collegiality and respect that members of the legal profession should observe in their dealings with other lawyers.” Well, Mr. Ciolli, Buck Up, Big Boy!

All Matthew Ryan, graduate of the University of Texas, or D as he is better known on the AutoAdmit website, is guilty of is posting, among other items, that Brittan Heller has herpes.  And now he is named in a law suit.  Buck Up, Big D!

And poor, poor AK47 who called for all women named Heide to be raped, well, he’s afraid he might lose his job if this gets out. Bite the bullet and Buck Up, AK47!

Whamo/aka/Joe Traw does seem sorry that he posted that Heide Iravani had the clap. Buck Up, Whamo. I’m sure your stint in the army will help you become “all that you can be”.

Buck Up! was the advice given to women who are cyber-bullied during Tom Ashbrook’s radio program On Point, cyber-harassment. The advice was given when David Margolick, writer for Portfolio Magazine, Anthony Ciolli, Marc Randazza, lawyer for Mr. Ciolli and Danielle Citron, a lawyer who has written extensively on the law and cyber-harassment, were discussing a lawsuit brought in federal court by two former Yale law students,  Brittan Heller and Heide Iravani, against posters on AutoAdmit. Posters who wrote such comments about the women as “Whored around like a feral cat” or “I think I will sodomize her. Repeatedly.” You know, just the “boys will be boys” type of postings. Note, three men and one woman; does it tell you which way the discussion was leaning???  Although to be fair, Mr Margolick did try to stake out a middle position.

AutoAdmit, on their web site, claims to be “the most prestigious law schools admissions discussion” on the web. With contributions from posters using pseudonyms like Farts Chucking Justices and Honk if You Are N****r, you just got to think that Shakespeare was right, “First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”

The brain child of Jarret Cohen, he and sidekick Anthony Ciolli were the driving forces behind AutoAdmit. Heck, they were the forces of AutoAdmit.  Both Heller and Iravani were, as David Margolick so aptly described in his March 2009 article in Portfolio Magazine, Slimed Online. The piece is excellent and does give both sides of the story.  His article, I think, is well researched and even handed.  He does give both points of view and after reading the article, first in March in my copy of Portfolio Magazine and several times on the internet, I believe he remained very objective in his writing.

Both Heller and Iravani had ugly, vile, nasty and, most of all, untrue lies posted about them on AutoAdmit. Then the “trolls” of the internet had them “bombed” so that all the mean and nasty postings about Heller and Iravani came up on the first page when their names were Googled. They turned to Jarret Cohen and Anthony Ciolli for help in getting the threads taken off line. Not only were Cohen and Ciolli not helpful, Ciolli wrote back telling them in so many words that things could get a lot worse.

What happened then was something that I don’t think Cohen, Ciolli and the oh-so-funny, “boys will be boys” posters at AutoAdmit counted on. They got sued in federal court. And Federal Court Judge Christopher Droney allowed Heller and Iravani’s legal team to subpoena the internet service providers. Suddenly, Vincimus (Kirk Cheney), D (Matthew Ryan) and AK47 had names. Oops!

Here is one of the problems.  Because of section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (the name of that law is a hoot) Google and AutoAdmit could not be sued. Google and AutoAdmit could not be sued because they are merely carriers. That law needs to be changed!!! After, and only after, Brittan Heller appeared on Good Morning, America did Google withdraw their ‘ads by google’ from the AutoAdmit website.  Folks, its all about the money. God help us if Google were asked to make a moral, ethical choice without public pressure.  As far as I am concerned, they sold their soul when they allowed China to police the internet. For Google, it’s all about the money!

Cohen and Coilli have hidden behind the banner of free speech. “Whored around like a feral cat” is not free speech.  Print that statement in a newspaper and you will be sued for slander and libel…and rightly so. The rules and laws that govern the written word in other mediums should apply to the internet. Simple. And Google certainly has the money to control what is allowed on the search engines. The key word is ACCOUNTABILITY.