Friday, February 27, 2009

Avoid identity theft.... by not being stupid

Identity theft - there is NO ESCAPE! hackers will comb through your mail, your garbage, your Gmail, your Facebook account, and do dastardly things with it.
Nothing is safe...

Except when they aren't. One study says they aren't geniuses, just wallet thieves / finders. So when they come across your purse that you left at Ri Ra, yup, that's where they got all your info (according to this, anyway).

So you can chill out.

Simply delightful

I read the newspaper comics as often as humanly possible. They are what got me interested in newspapers in the first place. A coworker forwarded me a link to the online comic of Dick Tracy, the 131-year-old detective with a chiseled jaw and metal hip. (Click on the strip for better reading.)

Far more interesting then these three bland panels are the comments below it:

marktrail says:
Good point. A woman is burning. And Det. Tracy is worried about miles per gallon?

Gweedo Murray says:
Who’s the cops who wont come out when there’s fire all about..♪♫
~ They’ll give you the’Shaft’, can you dig it?


MST3K's "mock all media" philosophy finds its zenith on the internets.

(Sidenote: The paper still rules for the funnies, because it's too time consuming to go to all of their individual websites, with some exceptions: I often follow Slate into Doonesbury, and check out Dilbert on his site. Lastly, web comics eschew the printed form, so Penny Arcade is a revered stop 3x a week.)

Monday, February 23, 2009

I enjoy being fingerprinted by the Federal government

Actually, I do.
Maybe it's because I'm a guy and I have a love for all things cop-ish or CSI-esque. Maybe I love it because being fingerprinted for security clearance makes you seem important. Or maybe I just like leaving stains on people like in those Cheetos commercials.
In any case, I've had it done twice as part of my job.
The first time was the old "book 'em Dano," ink on hands method. A nice guy mechanically pushes my fingers one by one into ink and then rolled them on a sheet. Tada! The federal government now has my prints on file, being a criminal is no longer a career option.
Then today was phase 2: digital scanning. I put my fingers on a credit-card sized scanner screen and one by one they scanned 'em in.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Self-depricating journalist humor

Usually, my Medill grad school listserve is filled with rants, tedious infighting, self-promotion... occasionally a sprinkle of worldly wisdom. This week they chilled out and got their humor on:

Q: How many Medill grads does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: What, exactly, was wrong with the old bulb? It always worked before.

A: None. As journalists our duty is merely to report that the light bulb is out and trust in an informed citizenry to make the necessary bulb change.

A: Several hundred. One to note that the bulb seems to be out, several to form a committee to determine whether the bulb is out and what to do if it is out, seventy to publicly doubt that the bulb is out at all, forty to say that now that the bulb is out, we should instead figure out how best to adapt to the reality of a new lightless paradigm, twelve to point out the existence of alternative light sources, one to do a maudlin profile piece on the guy who installed the original bulb, and the rest of us to insult each other over the listserv.

A. Only one to hold it in place. Then the world revolves around her.

A. None. There is no money in the budget for new light bulbs. You'll work in the dark and like it.

Five. A reporter to screw in the light bulb, an editor to tell him what he did wrong, a photographer to get a visual record of the event, a copy editor to figure out if it's "light bulb" or lightbulb," and an IMC grad to figure out how to "monetize" the content.

A: One (unpaid) intern to change the bulb, tweet, write a blog, shoot pics for the blog, shoot/edit/produce a video piece for youtube/cnn ireport, share all of the above on facebook via his iPhone while hoping that someone will "digg" and "like" it.
700 other bloggers will link to this content and comment on it: "You see how he screwed in the bulb with his left hand! He's a SOCIALIST just like all journalists!."
2 million people will read the combined "coverage."
Zero copy editors will be employed in the process.
And no one at any point in that chain will make any money for the effort except for the light bulb manufacturer who has had no economic incentive to develop a better, longer-lasting light bulb since roughly the time of Edison.
The intern will get "great experience" for a non-existent job in new journalism.

A. One to screw it in not quite correctly…. and one instructor to give the Medill “F.”

A. None. They did away with bulbs at Medill as part of the 2020 plan. Now they use LEDs.

A. They outsourced the job to University of Missouri grads, who turned out to have some pretty dim bulbs.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Designer sushi

Many of you have seen the now famous Obama sushi. Well, what about this??? Anime bento box!!! Soooo cute. The cost? One Caribbean island.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Disney's Private Parts?

Answer: It's a Pluto animal cracker. Nice kid-friendly work, Walt.

Doggone it

Does this help?

Come on....

What is this?
Can you guess?
Look really hard.......
Any luck?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Thanks, Chief!

I want to thank Chief Clancey Wiggum for helping me win a gentleman's bet. I have seen the word 'kibosh" in print many times, but only heard it pronounced once: by Chief Wiggum on the Simpsons. He said something along the lines of "We put the kibosh on your tele-marketing scam."
My friend said it was prounced: keh-bosh.
I insisted it was: kai-bosh.
Who was right? See the answer here.

Defeating Habib

Habib had a knife.
It was a straight razor, a wicked thing with a white handle. He was going to cut me. I resisted, stiffening my neck against his hands. It was futile to resist, though. And anyway, I was paying him.
I was inside Pete's Barber Shop early morning on a Monday. It was bustling, mostly with old timers.
Men and women want different things from their hair salons: Women want a place that is clean, sweet smelling, pristine, as if it had opened for the first time moments before.
Men want a place that has been in existence for generations. We want things to look faded, as if a thousand suns had robbed the floors of their color, just like they have robbed the youth of the elderly barber-in-chief. We want things to look used, but not filthy. We want, in short, a working man's barbershop.
Like many swarthy Jews, I dream of close shaves. My entire life has been one large losing battle with my facial scruff. My beard has no grain - it has many grains. Some places it grows in swirls. It is chaos. And after most shaves... well, let's just say I need to have a good deal of toilet paper around for clotting purposes.
Now, for the first time, I could leave my beard to a professional. Habib wasn't the elderly proprietor of Pete's, obviously, but if he was good enough to wield a pair of scissors there he was good enough for me.
After my hair was done, he lowered the entire chair and dropped my head a bit. On went the facial creme, then the blessed hot towels, and then the lather.
My beard was ready for him. He went to work, scraping away three days of stubble. I don't know if it's normal to spend 20 minutes on a shave, but that's how long it took him. Certain spots - my neck, my chin - he went over at least five times, from all angles. I couldn't see his expression without my glasses, but I'm sure there was a heavy dose of frustration.
When he was done, he applied something to my chin and put on the fantastically painful aftershave, which I loved. Up went the chair. Habib then presented a mirror without a word.
My hair looked perfect. My neck was a bloody mess. He had applied some sort of concealer to a particularly bad cut on my chin. My neck was pockmarked with thin bloody streaks, as if I had been assailed from below by a staple gun. And, worst of all, the shave wasn't any better or closer than I could have done myself.
Sorry, Habib - you've met your match, my friend.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A public service

Part of my job at the Federal Citizen Information Center involves posting information about product recalls. They range from excessive lead paint on billiard tables to defective skis that make you fall on your face.
One thing that seemed kind of silly was recalling sweatshirts for being a strangulation hazard.
Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) claimed that the drawstrings around the hood could strangle a youngster. It seemed unlikely to me. Still, when thousands or tens of thousands of products are recalled nationwide, it's worthy of public notice.

Then I saw this.

Strangulation Death of a Child Prompts Hill Sportswear To Recall
Hooded Sweatshirts with Drawstrings

An excerpt:
"CPSC received one report of a death involving a 3-year-old boy in Fresno, Calif. He was strangled when the drawstring on the hooded sweatshirt that he was wearing became stuck on a play ground set."


Lame note:
These postings are my own and do not necessarily represent GSA's positions, strategies or opinions.

An open letter to D.C.

Dear D.C.,
Hi. You probably don't know me. My name is Jon and I'm a frequent visitor of yours. I use your metro daily. I enjoy your restaurants and architecture. I am thrilled to live here in 2009.
I do have a few concerns about your population, however, that I'd like to share. Perhaps you can see to them when you have time.

1. They wear too much black. And too many black North Face jackets. I feel like I'm in a black and white movie.
2. They walk too damn fast. This morning I thought there was an evacuation going on. I am 5"10, and I get whizzed by by women who are 4"10 or shorter. On the escalator, even if I am walking on the left side of the aisle (as instructed), people will still ask me to walk faster or to simply step aside so they can powerwalk towards the train.
3. They think they're hot shit. I mean piping hot. I think all the ties and knee-high boots are cutting off people's circulation. They also love to name drop excessively, with is incredibly tedious.
4. They are petrified of asking people to hang out with them. There are some exceptions to this, but generally you seem to need to pass an eight-month waiting period to be invited to get drinks with someone, or, God forbid, come to their place for dinner / TV / Yahtzee. I have lived in my apartment for close to six months and no one even knows my name. Am I that hard to approach, with my nerdy glasses and Old Navy T-shirts?

If you could take care of these I would sincerely appreciate it.

Jonathan Rubin

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The rule of law

Playground ethics: A friend took an old receipt of paper out of my pocket to look at it. I declared: "No givesies, no backsies." In case you were home-schooled, this means that you cannot give that item to anyone else, nor can you give it back to me. You're just stuck with it.
The person in question, however, didn't respect this rule, and tried to give it back to me. I explained the rule, and still they tried. So I did the only thing I could do - I kept a few paces away from the person so they couldn't deposit it on me (as they so desperately tried). They even threatened to litter rather than be stuck with it. I said fine - it's no longer my paper, you can do with it what you wish.
Eventually, they found a garbage can and tossed it. I retained the morale high-ground.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Sweet Potato of Hope

I knew a girl once who found garbage to be inspirational. We were walking along a dirty street and I made a disparaging comment about the litter. She told me that she enjoyed garbage - all the varied textures and colors they brought onto an otherwise drab street.
I've found the same joy from a potato. I bought it with the intention to eat it, and to learn to how to cook it so I can eat it. I put it on top of the fridge, and there it lay for months. I found it again, and it had begun to sprout. I was impressed how, despite my neglect, the potato was struggling for life. Out of it grew stalks, and leaves bent towards the sun. A smile grows on me every morning when I look at it. Go potato, go!

Monday, February 9, 2009

memo from my boss

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009 at 12:00 am
Transparency and Open Government
SUBJECT: Transparency and Open Government

My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.

Government should be transparent. Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing. Information maintained by the Federal Government is a national asset. My Administration will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use. Executive departments and agencies should harness new technologies to put information about their operations and decisions online and readily available to the public. Executive departments and agencies should also solicit public feedback to identify information of greatest use to the public.

Government should be participatory. Public engagement enhances the Government's effectiveness and improves the quality of its decisions. Knowledge is widely dispersed in society, and public officials benefit from having access to that dispersed knowledge. Executive departments and agencies should offer Americans increased opportunities to participate in policymaking and to provide their Government with the benefits of their collective expertise and information. Executive departments and agencies should also solicit public input on how we can increase and improve opportunities for public participation in Government.

Government should be collaborative. Collaboration actively engages Americans in the work of their Government. Executive departments and agencies should use innovative tools, methods, and systems to cooperate among themselves, across all levels of Government, and with nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individuals in the private sector. Executive departments and agencies should solicit public feedback to assess and improve their level of collaboration and to identify new opportunities for cooperation.

-- Barack Obama

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Go Charleston!!!

Just had a great two-day vacation in Charleston, SC. Never been, can't wait to go back. Pics to come, but here are my tweets from the road. Dianna seems more accepting of these diversions now :)

• On the road to charleston sc for winter getaway. Any ideas for must see stuff? Thanx. 6:54 PM Feb 5th from txt (Note: Nobody answered with any advice. Tweeter gets a demerit, or I don't have enough friends obsessed with it)

• Gas lamps, palm trees, southern accents - chucktown rocks 5:46 PM Feb 6th from txt

• Palm trees in the parking lot. Adventures of milo. Fountains aren't frozen. Shorts! about 11 hours ago from txt

• 66 degrees. No coats. Grits are fantastic - the two yutes! about 8 hours ago from txt

• Architecture is universal - british gas lights, new orleans trellises, n.e. Clapboard houses about 8 hours ago from txt

• King st is a tad too pretentious. Meeting and broad sts are a blast. Wet willies serves a devastating dacquiri called "call a cab". ... about 5 hours ago from txt

• Days inn costs more than a holiday inn - huh? Luckily, restaurant sodas only cost a buck. about 5 hours ago from txt

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

anime emoticons are cooler than you (are)

This is a real gem. My super-smart friend Deb (who just got into UC Berkley for her PhD in Chemistry!!!!!!!!!) shared her kick-ass bevy of anime emoticons with me. They are so fresh they feel like illegal imports. I now share their awesomeness with you: ^_^

deborah's emoticons 101

Definitely my favorite: Smiley face!
Teehee! or "I'm winking at you"
>_< "Oh doh!" or frustrated
Annoyed or frustrated
Uhh, what?
Whoops... Or "sweatdrop…"
The cutesy-Asian picture pose.

And not that I use this one, but it's definitely a winner!
<(-'.'-<) (>-'.'-)>Kirby dance!

discovery: cotton shrinks

I have been feeling in pretty good shape for the last two years, but apparently I have no legitimate reason to feel this way. You see: I have a Master's Degree from a prestigious university, and yet I can be incredibly stupid.
For example: I work out. I try on my white T shirt. The shirt feels snug and tight, especially around my arms and chest. The natural conclusion is to think that *I* have been expanding. The more reasonable explanation is that white cotton T shirts shrink when you throw them in the dryer, so my muscle is, in fact, mythical.
I will be wearing a Snuggie from now on.