Category Archives: commentary

The Importance of Targeting

I’m super behind on more “Lessons in Product” posts, but this one begged to be written when I got yet another badly-targeted email from Weebly, a site building tool I used for my portfolio domain (www.tiffanyshih.com).

I created an account with Weebly on May 11 and built my entire site that day. Weebly makes it very easy, and I haven’t had to touch my site since.

In the 19 days since I signed up, I’ve received 11 emails from them. The first three were confirmation-type emails (transactional emails) sent on May 11:

  1. Welcome to Weebly (signup confirmation)
  2. Congrats on your Weebly Starter Site (upgrade purchase confirmation)
  3. Tiffany, your website was born at… (site publication confirmation)

Totally normal, totally standard, totally acceptable. Then it went downhill.

  1. May 11 – Here’s $150 from Weebly to try Google AdWords
    This one represents the peak. It was good at pushing a product feature that I wasn’t aware of. The promotional aspect didn’t bother me as much because I’d just purchased an upgrade and it was pushing something that seemed to be bundled. Bonus points: it called out my recent purchase by package name. (1 of 1 features useful)
  2. May 12 – Getting the most out of your new Weebly Starter Plan!
    Good intentions, but a day late. This email pushed four features of the Starter Plan, two of which I’d already used the day before. (2 of 4 tips useful)
  3. May 12 – First Steps to Creating Your Website
    The first truly useless email. First steps? Aren’t I done? Didn’t you send me a confirmation that I’d published my site and it was live in the world? This one actually had the gall to say, “The race is on! Is your website going to cross the finish line?” (0 of 1 calls to action useful)
  4. May 14 – You’re ahead of the pack!
    This one at least referenced the fact that I’d published a first version, but then it proceeded to suggest three things I’d already done. (0 of 3 tips useful)
  5. May 18 – Congrats! Your website traffic is skyrocketing
    Aha! A useful email with embedded, real stats on how many page views I’d gotten so far. It also suggested five features to optimize performance — including the suggestion to register a domain with Weebly… which I did when I set everything up on May 11, and they’d already suggested in email #7. (4 of 5 features useful)
  6. May 22 – Tiffany, check out your mobile website!
    “Did you know your website is mobile friendly?” Why yes, I did. I toggled between the mobile and desktop views in the build mode back on May 11th, remember? And what’s the point of this email anyway? The email just says, in essence, that Weebly did it for me already. “Hopefully you’ll rest a little easier at night knowing that!” No, I’m actually just thinking about unsubscribing from your email list, but I’m so fascinated by how bad you are at targeting useful content at me that I’m still hanging around. (0 of 1 calls to action useful — but was there even a call to action here? 0 of 0?)
  7. May 26 – Photo Galleries | Contact Forms | Audio & Video | Maps
    “You may want to consider adding some or all of these to your site!” I have considered! In fact, I have a photo gallery on my site, and I plopped in a contact form before deciding to take it out. (2-3 of 4 features useful)
  8. May 29 – 5 Tips for Choosing a Great Domain Name
    Oh man you’re right, I should really choose a great domain name. How about [firstname][lastname].com?? That’s pretty good, right? Oh wait, I registered that with you guys already. (0 of 1 calls to action useful, 0 of 5 tips useful)

So what’s the lesson to be learned here? Send your users relevant content. We live in an age where behavioral tracking on websites is normal — and even if people are going to get all upset about privacy, most of the useless tips revolved around aspects of the service I’d used and would assume Weebly would know already. 15 of 25 things Weebly tried to tell me were completely useless to me; that’s 60% useless content being sent to me. If I weren’t a newly minted PM with an interest in content personalization, I would’ve unsubscribed around email #7.

How could Weebly have been less shitty at sending me emails? Targeting. All that really means is asking a question (or, for the coders out there, writing an if statement) before sending the email — has this user done anything that means the content is irrelevant?

Here are some questions Weebly should have asked:

  • Has Tiffany already uploaded a favicon?
  • Has Tiffany already used a custom footer?
  • Has Tiffany published her site (or, have we already sent Tiffany an email congratulating her for publishing her site)?
  • Did Tiffany already enter stuff in the “organize your site” on-boarding exercise on our site?
  • Has Tiffany used a custom theme?
  • Has Tiffany linked a registered .com domain to her account already?
  • Has Tiffany already put a photo gallery on her published site?

Targeted content is rapidly becoming the standard behavior for websites. I expect that Google knows where I am and will only return business search results in my area (take note, Apple Maps — I was not looking for the Whole Foods in Boston when I’m physically in San Francisco). I expect that Buzzfeed is going to recommend articles that align with my interests based on what else I’ve read lately. I expect that Amazon will tell me what baby toy I should buy based on what other people buy after viewing the stuff I keep looking at. All in all, targeting creates a better user experience, and it surfaces your site’s content to the people who will actually benefit from it.

So why don’t sites do targeting? Well, targeting means you walk a fine line between personalized and creepy (for more on this, you might want to listen to Vienna Teng’s The Hymn of Acxiom). Yet basic targeting based on transactions I’ve made on a site — like Weebly should have done — isn’t creepy. It’s just lame when you don’t do it. So the real reason is laziness.

Targeting requires knowing what your users want and how they behave. As targeting complexity increases, you start needing to store information about your user’s behavior that you don’t already. For example, a tip about uploading a favicon should be targeted to me if I haven’t uploaded a favicon. Pretty simple: you check the records for a user and see if you’re storing a favicon for that user — if not, by all means send me an email. So let’s up the complexity of what we’re remembering about a user: what if I went to the favicon page and didn’t end up uploading a new one? I probably didn’t because I didn’t want to, or I didn’t have a file ready, or I was in the wrong place and meant to go to favorited pages or something. In order to de-target this tip that I don’t need, you would have to implement something that either (1) remembers that I shouldn’t get the favicon tip, or (2) remembers that I visited the favicon page and left without uploading. Option 1 is sufficient to de-target the tip, but option 2 leaves open the option to send a more personalized message that says, “Yo, you didn’t upload a favicon when you were on that page. Did you forget? Here’s how you get there! Did you need help? Here are some FAQs!” Option 2 also has the potential to differentiate that came-and-left behavior from uploaded-and-removed behavior, for which you’d probably send a different personalized message. But as you store more and more behavioral data, that’s when the stalker database factor starts creeping up.

So we know that targeting is tricky as you store more and more information about a user’s behavior and analyze what that means about what they want to do on your site. The other consideration here is implementing the content presentation. How much do you want to personalize an experience by sprinkling little if-else statements all over your code? How big of a content chunk is getting wrapped in this if statement — a bullet point in an email? a whole email? a whole feature on the website? You have to ensure that you aren’t completely de-targeting a useful feature from someone who might want to use it because you’ve misestimated what type of user behavior maps to this content.

Sure, it’s tricky. Sure, you might have to do some user testing, some experimentation, and some deep thinking about user behavior. But do something. And if you’re a website website like Weebly, you might want to invest some time and resources in targeting before you completely embarrass yourself.

92nd Birthdays

My grandma turned 92 today. I think this means that, despite her somewhat poor health, she has lived longer than anyone in her family ever has.

My family celebrated today with a pretty average, low sodium, cooked-at-home lunch, followed by some cake. We bust out the Martinelli’s sparkling  cider for the occasion, which Grandma loves (but really, who doesn’t?). It was just her three surviving kids, her daughter-in-law, and awesome granddaughter (me, obviously — I’m the one who brought her cake). Simple times when Grandma can’t really get out of the house anymore.

It’s strange being around Grandma at this stage of her life. While I’m just starting to forge my own way into the world, she’s reached the end of her productive years. She’s not the most optimistic person in the world, and these days she latches on to the negative things that are happening to her (like… well, everything about aging). She’s frustrated with all the things she can’t do anymore. She obsesses over the missed opportunities from decades ago, and the people who prevented her from having them. Today, she didn’t even feel like smiling for the pictures, and she put up a big fight over taking her afternoon medications (though she does that every day).

So what does it mean to age well in the 21st century? Modern medicine has prolonged human life far beyond the average lifespan 92 years ago when Grandma was born. We can keep our loved ones alive, healthy, and relatively self-sufficient. With the chance for emergencies kept to a minimum, we can live comfortably beside them without as much worry and panic — but to what end?

My grandma can’t walk outside and enjoy the sunshine, her vegetable garden, or the birds flying by anymore. She can’t hear well enough to really listen to mealtime conversations, much less participate in them. She can’t cook for her children and grandchildren. Her eyes get tired when she reads. She’s bored of all the Chinese soap operas, kung-fu shows, and nature documentaries my dad dug up from the public library to have her watch. All she’s really doing now is waiting — dreading death and what might come next, but dreading each day in gradually equalling measure.

I suppose all we can do now is help her find pleasure in her simple days, as fleeting as it may be.

20140406-230605.jpg
And boy did she enjoy that cake!

Learning to Learn

Ten years ago, my undergraduate honors project would have been a graduate thesis. My project used 774.87 CPU days (plus a lot more after graduation as I ran some more molecular dynamics simulations to bulk up the data), which means the equivalent amount of computation on a single-processor computer would have taken 2 years, 1 month, and 13 days. And that doesn’t even include analysis time.

We hear a lot about how “technology is advancing fast” with a lot of filler words that generally mean “advancing” and “fast.” That’s all well and good, but realistically, what does it mean? It means that the knowledge high school and college students are amassing today will be old news in a couple years. It means I grew up around computers and learned how to type when I was in elementary school and played Power Pete on our school iMacs, but kids today are growing up around tablet devices and learn how to navigate through pages of apps to find Angry Birds. It means that the structure of DNA wasn’t even known when my dad was born, yet genetic screening was a routine analysis on my embryonic self.

In the time between my last genetics class at Stanford (winter quarter 2011) and now, probably hundreds of genetic associations have been discovered. Researchers have a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of important diseases, and I don’t even have an estimate of how many drugs are being developed to cure various conditions. I still know my way around the commonly used tools for exploring and navigating the human genome (some call-outs for dbSNP, SNPedia, OMIM, PharmGKB, and GeneReviews!), but if I weren’t working for a DTC genetics company, I’d be out of practice now and way out of the loop in a year.

So here’s a question: how do I stay in the loop?

Rather, how on earth do you expect me to stay in the loop?

With technology changing so fast and our understanding of the world growing more and more advanced, how are we supposed to keep track of it all? How do we keep ourselves from becoming outdated? Even as I head towards my future in medicine, I do stop and consider for a moment. Right now, my understanding of genetics is more advanced than the average physician, and possibly more advanced than the average genetic counselor (most of whom have earned this certification recently). Take the following examples:

  • I was working with a genetic counselor who kept insisting that BRCA mutations indicated a diagnosis of breast cancer. Since your genome remains (relatively) unchanged over your lifetime, if the above statement were true, BRCA mutation carriers would be diagnosed with breast cancer at birth. Luckily not the case.
  • One of my coworkers recently dealt with an angry physician who demanded that we test his daughter’s Y-chromosome. Females don’t have a Y-chromosome — their lack thereof is what makes them female. (When my coworker tried to explain this, he yelled at her for being condescending.)
  • Yesterday I explained to a genetic counselor that DNA has two strands that complement each other. Very exciting!

I fully acknowledge that these people were probably well-educated, passed crucial exams, and are certified to treat patients wherever they are. But maybe the sheer fact that I graduated with my B.S. in Molecular and Cell Biology in 2011 makes me more knowledgeable on these matters than they are. So where am I going to be in twenty or thirty years? Am I fated to become obsolete, too?

Here’s the deal. I’d say my fellow premed biology majors from Stanford all have the foundation of knowledge that’s necessary for understanding how inheritance, genes, molecular biology, and physical conditions and traits are all linked together. I personally take that foundation for granted sometimes. But that foundation is what I’ll continue to need to keep myself from getting left behind as technology advances. The same way my keyboard skills begot my iPhone texting skills and my HTML skills begot my PHP skills begot my Java skills begot my C++ skills begot my Python skills*, I’ll have to learn to pick up new knowledge, understanding, and technology.

Isn’t that really what we should be taught? Some basic knowledge, yes, but ultimately we should be learning the problem solving process and framework we need to solve or understand any kind of situation that’s thrown our way. Keep that in mind the next time a project or a test seems impossible — you’re learning to learn effectively, and what skill is more important than that?


* Full disclosure, I don’t really count anything past PHP as actual “skill,” just capability. And let’s be real, my C++ and Python “capability” shouldn’t even be called that. But that’s kind of the point — it’s all moderately transferable on the same framework of understanding.

Medical Bills

The project for this afternoon, besides baking pizza from scratch for my grandmother while my parents are out at a cocktail party (???), is to take the stack of medical bills from my recent procedure and add up: 1) how much the entire process cost (insurance company negotiated price), 2) how much we paid out of pocket (not covered by insurance), and 3) how much we would have paid if I didn’t have healthcare insurance.

For those of you who, like me, are young, relatively healthy individuals whose parents took care of most insurance/billing things and have no idea what the differences are between those three sums, here’s how it works. When you go to the doctor (and you have healthcare insurance), they do their thing and send your insurance company a bill — or to use their terminology, a claim. The insurance company examines the claim, which includes charges for various services (i.e. physical exam, consultation, surgery, laboratory work – hematology, etc.). When you’re uninsured, these charges are the flat rates that you pay for these services. However, insurance companies use their leverage to negotiate lower prices for each service (noted on invoices as “Contractual Adjustment” or “Participating Provider Discount”). At this reduced rate, the insurance company covers a certain percentage, and you have to pay the rest.

This distinction between uninsured and insured cost is near and dear to me because as a non-student without a job, if it weren’t for Obamacare, I wouldn’t be covered under my mom’s company insurance. So here’s how much Obamacare saved my bank account*:

  1. Cost negotiated by insurance company: $23,691.43
  2. Amount paid out of pocket: $2,369.12
  3. Cost if uninsured: $98,632.80

That’s a difference of $74,941.37 between uninsured and insured cost, meaning my insurance company negotiated a 76% discount. Then, after that discount, my insurance company covered 90%, leaving me to pay only ten percent of the insured cost, or 2.4% of what I would have paid if I were uninsured.

I think there are two lessons to take from this. First, get health insurance. Even something as straightforward and relatively low-impact as the surgery I just had would have cleaned out my savings more than 10 times over, and even my parents would have trouble swallowing a bill for nearly $100K. Second, insurance companies have huge negotiating power over healthcare costs. I mean seriously, a Cantonese mother couldn’t manage to haggle a 76% discount.

I know there are a lot of things wrong with the way healthcare is structured in the United States. Service is inefficient, costs have skyrocketed out of control — something fundamentally is broken. But even as someone who has been through a procedure and seen everything from the patient side, as someone who has gone through all these bills and pondered each line item, and as someone who will be a healthcare provider in the future, I have no idea how to start fixing it. Do we point fingers at doctors who order too many tests? Do we blame insurance companies for working the system for profit? And even if we do find a place to start an overhaul of our current healthcare system, how do we know it won’t get bogged down in politics?

I don’t have any answers. I’ve started reading up on the healthcare reform debate, past and present, and maybe I’ll understand more in medical school, or when I start working. I’ll let you know if I find a solution, but in the meantime, get insurance and keep your fingers crossed hoping nothing bad will happen.

<edit> Here’s a graph:

Cost of Tiffany's Operation

</edit>


* These numbers might be a little off; I think I’m missing one blood test invoice, receipts from prescriptions, and the charge for a follow-up with the surgeon.

Some tips for anyone who wants to try this:  Continue reading Medical Bills

Recommended reading: Gyros to Heroes

Gyros to Heroes: A Column about Sandwiches by Lindsay Eanet is (so far at least) an excellent, heartfelt reflection on sandwiches and their role in our lives. And let’s be honest, humankind eats a lot of sandwiches. I’ve really enjoyed this column so far — I mean, the title in itself makes me giddy.

It’s rare for me to read anything these days (much less something other people probably haven’t heard of), so really, check it out.

Dragons

(cross-posted on Parting Pigeons on 9/6/11)

Tonight, before I go to sleep, I will be thinking of dragons. I am twenty-two years old, graduated with a bachelor’s degree (with honors) from an excellent university this past June, spent the bulk of my day working on structural biology research on the protein dynamics of the beta1-adrenergic receptor, and for the last week I’ve been going to bed with visions of dragons.

There’s nothing strictly wrong with this. I’m entitled to draconine thoughts — although admittedly it’s more than thoughts, it’s something more closely resembling “worldweaving,” if you will. Dragons, dragon riders, dragon wars, dragon training, dragon etiquette, dragon politics… I’ve made up a lot of words along the way, too. This is what I used to do all the time — this is what got me into writing. I build worlds out of nothing. I make things up, borrowing shamelessly from the world I know. I turn experiences into story lines; I turn wishful thinking into alternate reality. I stretch my imagination, and sometimes people read what I’ve come up with and say hey, I really like that.

So what is it about growing up that makes me feel like this dragon-filled creation of mine doesn’t belong in my world? Because it’s high fantasy*. It’s something no one ever tells us we’re supposed to have outgrown, but one day I woke up and realized I couldn’t take myself seriously when writing a fantasy (or even science fiction) story. As Seth said the other day when we were discussing this, “I don’t get how Tolkein explained his books before everyone had read them. ‘Okay, so there’s this thing called Sauron, and he hates everything. And makes little mud elves to fight humans. All the humans don’t trust each other. So it’s up to these fat midgets to destroy evil.'” Whose first instinct is to take that seriously?

I’ve learned a lot over the years from fantasy and science fiction. I probably wouldn’t have kept reading after my plateau in reading level around 6th grade if it hadn’t been for A Wrinkle in Time and The Golden Compass. There’s a basic allure to fantasy and scifi, that escape from the world we’re stuck in, which readers like my adolescent self gravitate to. Maybe it stems from a lack of maturity, an inability to see the thrills and struggles of normal life and fiction compared to the epic conflicts that arise in fantasy. And those epic conflicts can (and do) tie themselves into the real world.  I’m not entirely sure which came first, but the life history of Bean in Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Shadow played some part in stoking my love of genetics. Philip Pullman explored some really interesting tensions and fallacies in religious text through His Dark Materials, Roger Zelazny dances around concepts of metaphysics (and relates technology and computer hacking to magic) in The Chronicles of Amber, and Orson Scott Card eloquently lays out some key bioethical issues in Speaker for the Dead and the Bean quartet (just to name some of the many topics these authors prodded with their writing). But who’s going to take you seriously if you write a dissertation on any of these themes?

My best guess as to why this stigma exists is this: in fantasy fiction, there is a fundamental disconnect with reality. That’s practically the definition. And yes, there are plenty of cases of people losing touch with what’s real and taking things too far. (I risk offending some people right now, but hear me out, I have redemption for you.) Cosplayers, fanfiction writers, Harry Potter unofficial online trading card game players, the people who contribute to and update the extremely detailed entries on Wookieepedia — I could go on. However, there’s a difference between productive hobby and unhealthy obsession. Some of the cosplay costumes I’ve seen are really impressive costume-making that perfectly normal people made in their spare time, and plenty of fanfiction writers have spun incredibly inventive, moving stories based on characters that someone else started. The difference is knowing your limits — knowing that okay, there’s a world separate from this fantasy. This goes for anything, really — plenty of us are wrapped up in completely fictional story lines (I’m looking at you, Grey’s Anatomy fans who had serious meltdowns after whatever season finale it was) or waste our time on the strangest things (watching endless animated gifs of cats?). The point is there are plenty of things we do to entertain ourselves that no one else — or at least, a select few — quite understands. But it doesn’t hurt anyone, so why the hell not?

In light of this, I have decided to take this tack: I spent the bulk of my day working on structural biology research on the protein dynamics of the beta1-adrenergic receptor. I’m a high functioning and contributing member of society. So you know what? It’s okay that right now I’m obsessed with dragons.


* It says something about me that I know the distinction between “high” and “low” fantasy. For those who don’t, think of fantasy as a spectrum from our world to a completely made up world:

**LotR is weird because Tolkien has stated that Middle Earth existed sometime in our past, so it falls a little closer to the middle than other high fantasy
**LotR is weird because Tolkien has stated that Middle Earth existed sometime in our past, so it falls a little closer to the middle than other high fantasy

Yes, I made you an explanatory diagram. There are nerdier things I could have done.

The Art of Appreciation

So two completely random things from my spring break trip inspired this post. First, sitting on the plane next to two ladies discussing their membership in the Audubon Society while one was reading “The Talk of the Town” section of The New Yorker got me thinking about who actually appreciates art, and who “appreciates” art because they’re told that they should appreciate it.

Second, apparently at about three drinks in, I get really good at pirouettes. I landed three doubles in a row on my last night in upstate New York. Granted, my flexibility is shot and jeans are terrible for mobility, but somehow I got that leg into a passé, spotted on my new friend Alex, and landed it beautifully.

Most of my friends know that I used to dance. It was a huge part of my life until college, but somehow in the last couple years, it got less and less convenient to do. I stopped stretching every night, doing relevés at random times, and stopped talking about how I used to dance. In my college applications, I defined myself with three main things: biology, dance, and writing. Now I define myself in a mad multitude of things: biology, protein structure research, RA, emergency medicine, writing, and a whole lot else. But just like so many other things I left behind in my life — painting, soccer, sewing, speech and debate, choir, water polo — I haven’t forgotten about dance.

Twelve years of dance (seven years of ballet, five years of modern/lyrical, and the full twelve years of traditional Chinese) has left me with an appreciation for the athleticism and artistry of dance. It’s more than just envy, like “I wish I could do that.” I understand what things are important or ingenious because I’ve done it myself — I’ve studied it and can formulate my own opinions. Freshman year for an IHUM paper, I went to see a performance by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. Merce Cunningham is the epitome of modern dance, the ultimate example of dance abstraction that inspires a succinct WTF from a layperson. But I know how to look at it, and I know what I like about it. Sure, I could talk to people about what I found interesting about the performance, but it’s not a status symbol to me.

I don’t consider myself an “artsy” person, but I do have a sense of pride in being knowledgeable about many things. That being said, I think of it more as a quiet proficiency than something to tout. I don’t intentionally go walking around with the latest issue of The New Yorker in hand, nor do I attend dance performances or art shows just to be able to say I went. I prefer to be genuinely interested in what I’m seeing or reading, and to appreciate it because I see my own definition of artistry in it. Maybe that makes me my own brand of pretentious, but I’m kind of okay with that.

Poor choices of soccer stars regarding hair

As promised…

1. The Headband

This phenomenon came to my attention during the US vs. Slovenia match last week. In my Google image searching, found this blog post on headbands. Not sure if I agree with the assertions therein, but at least I know I’m not the only one who thinks that the headband really does not work on some people.

Case in point: Slovenian striker Milivoje Novakovic (photo taken from ESPN)

I had a lot of trouble finding a photo of him and his headband, because maybe I’m the only person in the world who cares about what he does with his hair, but THIS IS REALLY NOT OKAY.

2. The 90’s Boyband Look

Does this phenomenon require a definition?

Becks rocks the frosted tips

Admittedly this phenomenon isn’t that bad, it just makes me think of the Backstreet Boys. Plus, bonus points in the positive direction for practicality — the 90’s boyband look does not cause distraction/annoyance during play unless of course the player doesn’t want to mess up his hair.

Cristiano Ronaldo: "LOOK AT ME I'M SO PRETTY!!!"

(As a side note: I will admit that Ronaldo is talented and pretty hot, but he is SO ANNOYING. Whiny little–)

All in all, I’d still say the 90’s boyband look is a poor choice, but as with all these hairstyles, who are we to control what a footballer does with his hair?

3. Things I have no words for

Namely this.

OH GOD WHY DONOVAN WHY!?

Maybe this is still kind of a 90’s boyband look, but just — I can’t look at this anymore.

Let’s keep in mind that Landon Donovan was young and impressionable at the time, a wee 19 years old when he played in the 2001 MLS All-Star game. Indeed, this was when this happened (I was a wee 11 years old and while my brother just shook his head, I laughed my head off).

Hahahaha

Forgive the tangent here, but while Donovan’s hair improved (likely he came to his senses as his hairline started receding… Landon Donovan, your current hairstyle has my seal of approval), he set forth to further embarrass himself in front of cameras.

I -- Donovan, what are you doing?!

For what reason are you throwing this attempted sultry look at the camera? I have plenty of respect for you on the pitch (all non-American/proper terminology for this sport is creeping into my brain) but this is dropping my opinion of you. And then —

WHAT ARE YOU DOING DONOVAN? WHAT IS ON YOUR HEAD? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?

Okay, so really maybe I am more endeared by all your promotional photo antics, but you are not making a good case for US soccer…

I’m done now.

Case study #2 of soccer stars’ hair length

Another email to Daniel, which I may soon follow with a general “Poor choices in hairstyles of soccer stars” post — mostly because today while watching the US vs Slovenia match, I remembered that Landon Donovan used to have bleached blond hair.

LIONEL MESSI

His hair is always a little… shall we say… messi?

But this is just getting out of hand:

Notice the curl over his shoulder.

Also not flattering to his face shape:

The headband doesn't help.

Oh god.

(On a practical note: do you have any idea how annoying it is to play sports with hair flying in your face?! I’m a girl, I would know!)

Muuucchh better:

D'awwww what is going on in this picture?

Granted, he looks pretty angry in this picture, but I’m still digging the short hair.

Sweaty post-game, but nowhere near as gross as he was with long hair:

And last but not least…

This girl is liking his short hair too.

And can I just point out that he is being touched in all these photos of him with short hair? (I swear, the google image search just came out that way.) Just sayin’…

And with that, I’m back to work. Coming soon: maybe an actual blog post not about soccer players’ — rather to put it the RIGHT way, footballers’ — hair. But more likely another post about poor hairstyle choices.

In which I plead the case against long hair on guys

So it’s that time again, when the US suddenly decides that oh yeah I guess that game THE REST OF THE WORLD PLAYS should get some air time. It’s FIFA World Cup time. And since it’s summer break, and I’m only just starting work, I’ve had free rein to wander the internet watching recaps, reading blogs, and noticing phenomena. Aaaannddd the one that I’m picking on is the general unattractiveness of long hair on guys.

Some background: my friend Daniel does not believe me when I tell him that girls prefer short hair on guys. He also has tried the long hair look, and didn’t believe me when I told him it was less than flattering. At this point, I have yet to find a girl who doesn’t agree with me in both the general and specific case — so if you have a strong preference either way, by all means tell me about it. Below, I have included an email I sent him, pleading my case.

DAVID BECKHAM, a case study

Maayyyybe borderline passable, but the blog I got this from referred to him as Goldilocks.
Gross. Like really gross. The suit doesn't help.
Muuuuch better.

Hot:

Hottt:

Although admittedly the shirtlessness may have something to do with that.

Have I proved my point yet???

To better iterate: long hair has the power to transform an otherwise super attractive guy into a thoroughly unattractive person.

That is all. For now.