Simmering Hope

Hope is the expectation that something outside of ourselves, something or someone external, is going to come to our rescue and we will live happily ever after. – Dr. Robert Anthony

Archive for January, 2008

Jan 28, 2008

Qtrax replacing Napster?

Long time ago it was Audiogalaxy. Splendid peer-to-peer file-sharing application.
Thanks to Audiogalaxy I got lots of hard-to-find songs. Unfortunately I lost them all during a computer upgrade.
Then it was Napster. Not as good as Audiogalaxy- in my opinion of course- but still good enough to find songs.
It was good until all that legal trouble with Metallica that felt robbed and sued Napster for loss of money.
The revamp Napster was a pay for song application and honestly speaking I don’t know if it’s got the same popularity as before the scandal.

Now it’s a new kid on the block, named Qtrax which boasts a selection of up to 30 million tracks.

Actually Qtrax has been launched sometimes in 2002 but shut down after a few months to avoid legal trouble.
Now the company is working with major record labels: Warner Music Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and EMI Group and the downloading is free.
To take advantage of the legally free service, the user need to download the Qtrax software which displays advertising while the user is searching and downloading songs.
The site will feature music videos, interviews and even tracks from live concerts recorded the night before.

What’s the catch? Here it is: downloads come with copy-protection technology, namely digital-rights management (DRM). Meaning that you can’t burn copies to CD, but you can store it indefinitely on PCs and transfer onto portable music players.
So far it’s not available for iPods and Macintosh computers. Allegedly it would be as early as March.
It remains to be seen if Apple would take some steps to block Qtrax files from working on iPods. Apple has its own version of DRM dubbed FairPlay.

Jan 27, 2008

Who is going to win the McCanns’ interview?

My heart went out to the parents of Madeleine McCann after she disappeared from the resort of Portugal.
I had mixed feelings at that time because being a mother of a four year old I could not understand how a parent may even consider leaving a kid unattended in a hotel room.
For my husband and me, it has been a puzzle ever since. We do follow an unwritten rule: the kid must be in our visual proximity all the time… ok, not when he is in daycare and we are at work. But to go on any vacation spot and leave the kid alone while we go having fun with friends, that’s just unacceptable.
I don’t want to sound judgmental, but McCanns are doctors, both of them and one might think that money should have not been an issue on finding a baby sitter. I mean, if they had money to spend with a nice dinner with friends, they should have allocated part of it to get a baby sitter.
A few days ago I read that Kate and Gerry McCann are at the center of a bidding war.
Between two personalities I dislike equally: Oprah Winfrey and Barbara Walters.
The amount seemed to be almost $2 million.
The reason for even considering the option of giving a highly paid interview is that the fund established for finding Madeleine will dry out by June 2008.

Jan 25, 2008

Financial help to consolidate debt

Post holiday depression it’s like a postpartum one: lingering there all the time.
We are in January, meaning that we have received the bills showing the spending spree we went into during Christmas, right?
Now is time to do damage control.
I know, is as pleasant as having your tooth pulled out; it’s going to be painful but you are going to feel so much better after that.
Let’s say you don’t have any family around and no friends to ask for help but still want to keep your financial situation under control.
What can you do?

You could and should consolidate debt. But until you have an action plan you may be short on cash until your next paycheck. What to do then?

Get help with some payday loans.
You may think that a payday loan is just another loan, and this would only add more stress on you, but actually you should treat it like a lifeline.
On top of that, as soon as you get in touch with specialized help, you may bring up the issue of consolidating debt.
You are going to be put in contact with loan companies.
They will check your credit history, evaluate your needs and come up with suggestions.

Another solution: Start being very disciplined and make a rigorous list establishing what you should do from now on. But in the mean time you have to cover your emergencies, meaning that a payday loan may give you some relief until you can put all your ducks in a row.

Either way, you need to know that there is something you can do and you don’t have to feel helpless and overwhelmed.


Jan 23, 2008

What makes celebrities so unhappy?

Yesterday I read about Heath Ledger dying from an apparent overdose. He was 28.
Again, I was asking myself: what makes celebrities so unhappy to look for peace in drugs?
Take a look at the majority of young actors and actresses: by the time they reach 21, they have already been through a few detox programs.
Why the need?
What about Lindsey Lohan or Britney Spears? One hops from one penis to another, the other one lost the custody of her kids.
Both of them seem to have lost their mind. How can they be so shallow?
Some people feel sympathetic to their problems, but what problems? they created their own problem.
I have read that Britney Spears did not really have a good childhood and that her image has been oversexed. True, but I remember her years ago, she was sweet. Now she is repugnant. All that skimpy cloths and nails with partial polish make her look like white trash. Is she?
Years ago I have read a book written by John Douglas, ex FBI profiler. I could understand the need to wash away haunting memories. I can understand the trauma experienced by officers working for special victims unit, especially dealing with child related crimes. But celebrities? what trauma do they have? too much money to spend?

If this is the price to pay for being a celebrity, than I would happily keep being an obscure person.

Jan 22, 2008

Academy Awards Nominations- 2008

It remains to be seen if we are going to be lucky enough to watch the normal, not the reader’s digest version of the lush ceremony, now that the writers’ strike is still on.

In the mean time, these are the nominations:

Best Picture: “Atonement,” “Juno,” “Michael Clayton,” “No Country for Old Men,” “There Will Be Blood.”

Best Actor: George Clooney, “Michael Clayton”; Daniel Day-Lewis, “There Will Be Blood”; Johnny Depp, “Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street”; Tommy Lee Jones, “In the Valley of Elah”; Viggo Mortensen, “Eastern Promises.”

Best Actress: Cate Blanchett, “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”; Julie Christie, “Away From Her”; Marion Cotillard, “La Vie en Rose”; Laura Linney, “The Savages”; Ellen Page, “Juno.”

Supporting Actor: Casey Affleck, “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”; Javier Bardem, “No Country for Old Men”; Hal Holbrook, “Into the Wild”; Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Charlie Wilson’s War”; Tom Wilkinson, “Michael Clayton.”

Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett, “I’m Not There”; Ruby Dee, “American Gangster”; Saoirse Ronan, “Atonement”; Amy Ryan, “Gone Baby Gone”; Tilda Swinton, “Michael Clayton.”

Director: Julian Schnabel, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”; Jason Reitman, “Juno”; Tony Gilroy, “Michael Clayton”; Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, “No Country for Old Men”; Paul Thomas Anderson, “There Will Be Blood.”

Foreign Film: “Beaufort,” Israel; “The Counterfeiters,” Austria; “Katyn,” Poland; “Mongol,” Kazakhstan; “12,” Russia.

Adapted Screenplay: Christopher Hampton, “Atonement”; Sarah Polley, “Away from Her”; Ronald Harwood, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”; Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, “No Country for Old Men”; Paul Thomas Anderson, “There Will Be Blood.”

Original Screenplay: Diablo Cody, “Juno”; Nancy Oliver, “Lars and the Real Girl”; Tony Gilroy, “Michael Clayton”; Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava and Jim Capobianco, “Ratatouille”; Tamara Jenkins, “The Savages.”

Animated Feature Film: “Persepolis”; “Ratatouille”; “Surf’s Up.”

Art Direction: “American Gangster,” “Atonement,” “The Golden Compass,” “Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” “There Will Be Blood.”

Cinematography: “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” “Atonement,” “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” “No Country for Old Men,” “There Will Be Blood.”

Sound Mixing: “The Bourne Ultimatum,” “No Country for Old Men,” “Ratatouille,” “3:10 to Yuma,” “Transformers.”

Sound Editing: “The Bourne Ultimatum,” “No Country for Old Men,” “Ratatouille,” “There Will Be Blood,” “Transformers.”

Original Score: “Atonement,” Dario Marianelli; “The Kite Runner,” Alberto Iglesias; “Michael Clayton,” James Newton Howard; “Ratatouille,” Michael Giacchino; “3:10 to Yuma,” Marco Beltrami.

Original Song: “Falling Slowly” from “Once,” Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova; “Happy Working Song” from “Enchanted,” Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz; “Raise It Up” from “August Rush,” Nominees to be determined; “So Close” from “Enchanted,” Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz; “That’s How You Know” from “Enchanted,” Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz.

Costume: “Across the Universe,” “Atonement,” “Elizabeth: The Golden Age,” “La Vie en Rose,” “Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.”

Documentary Feature: “No End in Sight,” “Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience,” “Sicko,” “Taxi to the Dark Side,” “War/Dance.”

Documentary (short subject): “Freeheld,” “La Corona (The Crown),” “Salim Baba,” “Sari’s Mother.”

Film Editing: “The Bourne Ultimatum,” “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” “Into the Wild,” “No Country for Old Men,” “There Will Be Blood.”

Makeup: “La Vie en Rose,” “Norbit,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.”

Animated Short Film: “I Met the Walrus,” “Madame Tutli-Putli,” “Meme Les Pigeons Vont au Paradis (Even Pigeons Go to Heaven),” “My Love (Moya Lyubov),” “Peter & the Wolf.”

Live Action Short Film: “At Night,” “Il Supplente (The Substitute),” “Le Mozart des Pickpockets (The Mozart of Pickpockets),” “Tanghi Argentini,” “The Tonto Woman.”

Visual Effects: “The Golden Compass,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” “Transformers.”

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