Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

Bill Gates' awesome new Web site

As a lifelong Mac user, it pains me to say this, but Bill Gates' new Web site, the Gates Notes, is excellent. He's retired from being actively involved in Microsoft, but is now working full time as co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He created the Gates Notes site to share his thoughts on both his work with the foundation and on other things he's learning about and interested in. It's a great opportunity to get a peek inside the mind of one of the world's most successful people.

One article on the site I found particularly interesting was a piece he did answering the question "Where can I get unbiased news?" He sites some great sources, and it's well worth checking out.

Bill Gates also joined the ranks of Twitter just last week, where he's offering a wide range of thoughts, links, and retweets.

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Conan O'Brien: 'Please do not be cynical'

"I'm asking this particularly of young people that watch: Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism. For the record, it's my least favorite quality. It doesn't lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen."

Conan O'Brien's Tonight Show farewell speech was a great moment in television history, and one that will stick with me. As a journalist, it can be easy to become cynical, but I thought Conan's point was a great one to keep in mind and is a stance that I think will ultimately produce better journalism. Being a cynic is easy; working hard and being kind requires far more than that.

Video of Conan's full farewell speech (as well as the rest of the last episode of the Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien):

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Life without a phone or a computer

I'm not having a good week technologically. Both my computer and my phone decided to not work this week, so outside of my time in the office, I've been largely disconnected the last several days.

I'm sure I'll get both fixed/replaced soon enough, but it's been refreshing/interesting/horrifying to be disconnected. I found myself sitting with friends the other night and reaching to pull out my absent iPhone. I've taken a step back from our group evolution toward pseudo-cyborgs.

I've also found more time to read actual print material rather than clicking around Web sites, caught up on my Tivo, and used a payphone for the first time in years.

Time to go. I'm off to go get my phone repaired so I can end the technological equivalent of caffeine headaches.

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Prince writes Minnesota Vikings tribute song

I don't know if the Minnesota Vikings are going to the Super Bowl, but I do know they officially have the coolest tribute song. Prince, inspired by the Vikings' victory over the Dallas Cowboys, wrote the song "Purple and Gold" in their honor.

It's a great song, with a bit of a regal quality to it, as well as a marching band feel that fits well for a sports song. I'm not a huge sports fan, but the Vikings are one team that I have a bit of an attachment to, as I went to college in Minnesota and used to sell concessions at the Metrodome to raise money for a club at my college.

I went to one of Prince's three shows he played in one night to promote his last album, and it's great to see the joy and excitement he still brings to his music several decades in. It was the best electric guitar I've ever heard live, and he also still knows how to put on a show.

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A stormy night in

I'm currently figuring out what I'm going to do this evening. I just received successive e-mails informing me that a) my gospel choir rehearsal is canceled due to the weather and b) my hiking group, which I normally go to when I don't go to choir, is canceled due to the weather.

I'm thinking that I have no earthly desire to go hiking in this weather (as I feel the water soaking through my socks from braving the elements to get lunch), so that's probably for the best. Backup plan: Enjoy singing vicariously (and singing along poorly at home) with American Idol.

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