It's all a matter of roots.
A recent article in The New Yorker dissing Amazon's Kindle made me snort with sarcastic laughter. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.
[Update: This workaround no longer works, unfortunately.]
In the comments to my rant about the geographical restrctions on the Amazon.com MP3 download service, Mark wrote that he could use it from Japan, using his mother's mailing address. This lit a lightbulb in my head (dim as it was): it seems that Amazon uses the default I-Click address to determine whether you have the right to download the MP3 or not. My default address was set to my Swiss address, so first I reset it to my U.S. address and tried buying a tune. No go still - I still got the rejection notice. So, I un- I-Click'ed all my non-U.S. addresses, and tried again. This time I was asked which address I wanted (I had two U.S. addresses to choose from). And bingo, I could download with impunity.
[Another update: The workaround no longer works.]
[Update: There is a way around the Amazon geographical restriction thing. See here. ]
There have been a lot of raves about the new Amazon.com MP3 download service, mainly because it's 10 cents cheaper than the iTunes Music Store, and it's (allegedly) DRM-free. (I say allegedly, because I'm quite skeptical about these claims from any source, but that's besides the point here.) However, just like their awful UnBox video download service, they restrict download by 'geographical location', meaning that they probably filter by your IP address:
Well gee thanks for the concern, Amazon.
I have been resisting downloading Heroes, the new 'hot' show this season on offer on American television, but since several people whose opinions I respect told me that it was awesome, I succumbed and got the season pass. It is a very good show overall. But the Japanese aspects of it are mind bogglingly wrong - I'm talking Memoirs of a Geisha (the movie, not the book) level wrong - a real shame considering that it's quite obviously influenced by manga, anime and graphic novels. It's also the type of show that would probably do very well in Japan (where Dark Angel had a very strong cult following).
I am pretty sure that the ancients started the winter festivals that have evolved into our modern Christmas, New Years and other holidays because winter can be so depressing otherwise. I feel this so much more in Switzerland than I did in New York, even after about a decade or so of living here off and on. Most years, if I had a choice, I'd go somewhere - anywhere but here - during January and February.
For the last major U.S. elections, in 2004, I made sure to be in my home state of New York to cast my vote, even though it was fairly sure that my one vote would not make a difference in the outcome. New York was never going to vote for George Bush.
Still, it felt good to go to the local fire station with my sister and do the deed.
This year, I knew I couldn't make it to the U.S. in November, and I didn't bother to make the effort to vote in absentia. I feel a bit guilty about this but I knew that again, my district on Long Island, The Senate seat was safe for Hillary, my Congresswoman won by a big margin, and I don't care much about state senate races beyond whether they are doing a good job. The problem with voting overseas is that your vote gets counted (or so they say) weeks after the election results have been declared. You sort of feel out of it by then. Of course, if any critical races had been in question or I'd been in a state or district with a swing vote, I would have made that effort.