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The i-ventures of e-girl

I've observed in the media a most unusual cast of characters pontificate on the state of technology today: computer scientists, stock analysts, professional staffers, ethics professors. Instead of waiting for some reporter to ask me, Lisa, non-techie professional, for my two cents on falling tech stocks or the proliferation of wireless web devices, I've set up this page to have my say.

Who's Been Looking for E-Girl?
Thursday, February 22, 2001

Here are the most recent searches that have led websurfers to this here site:

  • "how to wash bath towels"
  • "brooklyn swingers"
  • "swingers on the internet in denver"
  • "wifeswapping"
For goodness sake, e-girl has never had such a reputation. Who knew that a Norman Lear sitcom would get me in this predicament?

Reliving that Holiday Magic
Saturday, December 16, 2000

I wonder if my parents know that my sister and I always snuck a peek at our Chanukah presents, often not under wraps, in the furnace closet. The artificial potted plant that stands guard in front of the folding door never deterred us. Forget about potato latkes and metallic-tasting chocolate gelt—for the two of us, finding out prematurely what the Chanukah fairy brought was always one of our favorite parts of the holidays.

Nearly two decades later, Raggedy Ann alarm clocks and Donnie and Marie TV sets have been replaced by checks to purchase all-weather tires and winter boots. The plant of plastic now blocks bags of clothing bound for the Goodwill thrift store. But thanks to Amazon.com, the thrill of discovering my holiday gifts early has not died. Last Sunday, my boyfriend was in a mad 1-Click frenzy to get all of his Amazon shopping done before midnight, when the site’s free shipping offer expired. At 1AM I checked the site, clicked on my wishlist, and was told that some items had been purchased. I was told to click another link to see what these items were. Should I? Shouldn’t I? Should I? Shouldn’t I? I was overtired enough as it was, and this dilemma was making me nuts. I decided to click and made a vow to look at the screen for no longer than one second before exiting. That was just enough time to learn that the Chanukah fairy, who now sports a beard and wears dreads, purchased me the X box set and a Korean cookbook! I did that “yes” gesture that Eriq LaSalle does in the opening credits of “ER,” yawned, and went to bed, while visions of Asian plums danced in my head.

Will This Carnivore Exert Portion Control?
Thursday, November 30, 2000

I’m not talking about a portly lad in a bib wolfing down wieners in a hot dog eating contest here—he’s a foregone conclusion. This Carnivore is a recently-unveiled email surveillance program used by the FBI to collect evidence in (potentially) criminal cases. In my mind, this software raises many questions about the security of a country versus that of an individual.

This Thanksgiving, I gave my Dad an article to read about this FBI e-tap. As a Constitutional scholar and technology neophyte, he was in the unique position to provide me with feedback from a strictly legal point of view. Without forking over his two cents, he had me research Olmstead vs. United States (1928) to draw my own conclusions. Prohibition officers tapped the phone lines of Mr. Olmstead and Crew to gather info that would later indict these bootleggers on charges of illegally importing, possessing, and selling liquor. Intercepting messages through a phone line constituted a misdemeanor under a state (of Washington) statute, but according to the Supreme Court, the wiretap did not violate Olmstead’s rights under the Fourth Amendment. The Amendment guarantees “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures…” Since the wiretaps were conducted off the private property of Olmstead, he was secure both in his home and in his person (I just had to add that “in his person” phrase—it’s catchy!)

If wiretaps conducted off private grounds don’t violate privacy, it appears that the same holds true for prying open email messages from afar. What frightens me is what amorphous guidelines the FBI will put on its email surveillance. The agency is quick to point out that majority of the cases in which Carnivore has been used have been matters of national security. But what about the other cases? Are regular law-abiding folks safe from the jaws of Carnivore? If the Bureau knows that I’m a former teacher then captures both an email to my friend talking about last week’s Marilyn Manson show and a message from on online retailer thanking me for purchasing a trenchcoat on its website, will I be brought up on charges of intent to kill? Yes, this is exaggerated paranoia…and I by no means wish to poke fun at the true tragedy at Columbine, but without knowing when and how Carnivore will be used, we who obey the laws of this land are subject to unreasonable searches and seizures without being protected by the Amendment that claims to protect us from just that.

Dot-Coms Fall, E-girl's Spending Rises
Friday, November 17, 2000

I feel like a bit of an ambulance chaser with all this, but I am getting some *really* good buys with these Dot.com liquidation sales!

Last week, MotherNature.com reduced its books and magazines by 75%; I purchased 5 li'l publications. A few days ago, the site put all goods at 50% off. Things are going like buckwheat hotcakes with natural sweetener here--the books and arame I bought last week are no longer in stock.

Garden.com has begun its liquidation sale. I just called my grandparents for their wishlist. Online shopping has never been more exciting!

Interesting postscript: I just went to test the links out for this site...Garden.com had to temporarily shut down because the demand for its recently-marked-down products was too great for its server. Guess I'm not alone!

Poor Little Pooch
Friday, November 10, 2000

This Tuesday, the world's most famous dog sock puppet was laid to rest with its creator, Pets.com.

Folks are saying the sock puppet killed the online pet goods retailer. Their argument is that the amount of money poured into advertisements featuring the cloth-lined canine was more than the revenue it received in sales--this, they say, led to Pet.com's demise. For me, the pup was like this guy who ran things at my college radio station. He was annoying as heck, but he got the job done right. Yes, I often wanted to throw the pup in the wash with my bathtowels, but I instantly recognized him the Pets.com mascot. In fact, I remember these TV ads more than any other .com commercial. The marketing department was successful--hooray! What killed Pets.com was not the money it put in ads, but rather the products it offered folks who went to the site as result of the on-air spots. Bags of dog food--one of its more popular items-- was super expensive to ship and difficult to profit from. The fact that the replicas of the pup sold extraordinarily well on its site screams to me, "Hello! We'd rather buy puppets for our four-year-old's playgroup than a scratching post for our cat!" Someone should have figured that out before they plunked down their benjies on a Super Bowl spot, huh?

It's easy to blame a puppet. Heaven forbid we should point a finger at the brains who brought it to life.

A Vote for Voteswapping is a Vote for Hypocrisy
Friday, November 3, 2000

Until this week, the only "controversial" swapping I'd ever heard of was wifeswapping. Remember that episode of "All in the Family"? Poor Edith. She was so confused. That couple they brought home to dinner was so lively and warm. Well, now the new millennium brings us voteswapping. How does it work? It's all about voting for Nader and against Bush. I've looked at three websites that aim to link a progressive person in a swing [not swingers--maybe the wifeswapping example was not ideal here] state who will promise to vote for Gore with a progressive person in a Bush-to-win state who will pledge to cast his vote for Nader.

Nader Trader makes no bones about using the Internet to voteswap. Their site features a list of tossup states and Bush-secure states along with a letter to send to friends in one of these states. I can imagine the dialogue: "Hey Jean, haven't spoken to you in ages! Thanks for the Fwd: on 10 Reasons Why Men are Like Socks you sent a while back. Still living in Milwaukee? I just moved to Boise. Wanna trade votes?"

VoteExchange is very transparent in its attempt to promote free speech among progressive people. While they say that the site is merely about promoting the First Amendment, they use software to link voters in only Bush-to-win or swing states. What if a Gore lover in Brooklyn wants to discuss GMOs with a Nader lover in Denver? What happens to free speech there? I exited the site underimpressed.

Voteswap2000 has removed their voter-linking software from their site in fear of getting reprimanded by the California Secretary of State. All that remains on the site is a brief apology and links to other voteswapping sites and a few election links.

I don't plan to talk about the legality of these sites or these practices. What I'm hear to say is the US never fails to surprise me with their Global Leader Hypocrisy. We send down teams of observers to make sure elections are clean in South Africa, Yugoslavia, Mexico, etc.-- but we have no problems with withholding votes or getting people to promise votes here. It's bad when a Mexican presidential hopeful gives bags of rice to poor-yet-potential voters in Chiapas, but it's OK when a urologist promises his med school buddy his vote via Hotmail? You know, if Archie Bunker was doing this, Edith would definitely say, "Oh Arrrchie, I don't think this is such a good idea."

Technology Was My Pinch Runner
Friday, October 27, 2000

Yes, I'm delighted that the New York Yankees won the Subway Series. I believe my roommate and boyfriend are equally thrilled, for I'll no longer be screaming at the TV at the midnight hour.

Last week, we had made tentative plans with a couple to see the film "Dancer in the Dark" during the weekend. Somehow, the couple ignored my requests *not* to see "Dancer..." on Saturday night--Game 1 of the Series. I made a few choice comments about this couple's cultural snobbery--arthouse winning over clubhouse--but I didn't let that get in the way of the evening. I had Tell Me.

Let me explain how Tell Me came to bat for me. Upon entering and exiting the theater*, I dialed the toll-free number and shouted the following words:
"Skip Intro!"
"Sports!"
"Baseball!"
"Yankees!"
And I got the real-enough-for-me-time scores. Holy Cow!

I have AOL on my home computer and have heard about the 6.0 upgrade. The feature Steve Case and Co. have been touting most is a service -very- similar to Tell Me. Tell Me saved my bottom Saturday night. I shall not give it up! I shall not upgrade my AOL!

*If "Dancer in the Dark" wasn't so darned captivating, I would've also excused myself to yell "Yankees!" by the popcorn counter.

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