Friday, November 27, 2009

Let kids get their prayer on

Even if you think prayer is stupid, kids should still be allowed to do it if they want to.
But not in Lewiston, Maine, apparently:

The family of a 7th-grade Muslim student says she was forbidden to pray inside Lewiston Middle School by school officials. Ismail Warsame says his niece had been praying on her free time ever since school started in September. But he said school administrators told her last week that praying wasn't allowed in school, and that her mother would have to take her outside the building to pray. Warsame says the family contacted the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington D.C., and that his niece was briefly allowed to pray after the organization contacted the school...but that a teacher once again kept her from praying the next day. (More here).

As Freud said: Asshattery.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The U.S. is freakin crazy about landmines...

... which sucks.

U.S. won't join landmine ban, administration decides

My guess is because we're a global leader in landmine manufacturing. And here's a little bit more about WHY it sucks so hard.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Products that don't work

If you have a problem in the U.S., you better bet your ass there's a product that touts to fix that problem.
But how can you find out if it really works?
Well, you could visit Consumer Reports, or sign up for Recall information from us good folks at the Federal Citizen Information Center... but there's a better way.
Why, simply trust the good folk(s) at Rubin on Wry, of course!
For example:

1. If you have mice.... DON'T buy anything from Tomcat. Nothing I've bought from them has ever worked. They sell these at the supermarket.

2. If you have ants... DON'T buy Raid Ant Bait. I saw ants walk up to it, sniff it and walk away. All day. Worthless. Also sold at supermarkets where suckers (like me) buy them.

3. If you have shower scum... DON'T buy the Scrubbing Bubbles Shower Foamer. Dianna used it and it said it basically did nothing. Here are some quality shower-cleaning tips from a trustworthy source.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bishop in RI holds back communion from Kennedy

WOW..... as in... wow.

Bishop bars Patrick Kennedy from Communion over abortion

Kennedy is sort of a so-so congressman by RI standards, but we also kinda love him, like we'd love a troublesome, Dennis-the-Menace sorta nephew who is still good to his momma. But this is ridiculous, sad, and really damning. So he can't WORSHIP because of his beliefs? Isn't that between him and Jesus? Aren't the days of religious institutions excommunicating people over?
And if not, shouldn't they be?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

What cigarettes do to the inside of your computer

This was inspired by a story about Apple voiding warranties if your second-hand smoke breaks your computer. Seems harsh, until you see this evidence by Fark computer geeks:

Normal dust (cleans easy)

Smoke damage (doesn't)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Guilt for eating grass-fed meat? Say it ain't so....

From the Washington Post:

Meat that's raised according to "alternative" standards (about 1 percent of meat in the United States) might be a better choice but not nearly as much so as its privileged consumers would have us believe. "Free-range chickens" theoretically have access to the outdoors. But many "free-range" chickens never see the light of day because they cannot make it through the crowded shed to the aperture leading to a patch of cement.

"Grass-fed" beef produces four times the methane -- a greenhouse gas 21 times as powerful as carbon dioxide -- of grain-fed cows, and many grass-fed cows are raised on heavily fertilized and irrigated grass. Pastured pigs are still typically mutilated, fed commercial feed and prevented from rooting -- their most basic instinct besides sex.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

My girlfriend is a writing machine

She is far too modest for what she accomplishes.
Like her writing, for example. Besides her very busy schedule as Senior Web Producer at Politico, she also somehow finds time to write some articles.
As in, a lot of articles:

Mixed approval for POTUS, policies
- Nov. 19, 2009
Obama, Half-Brother Catch Up - Nov. 18, 2009Chefs, pols cook for charity - Nov. 13, 2009
Do young voters love Obama? - Oct. 14, 2009
Frank on... Frank - Oct. 6, 2009
The Life of a Foodie - Sept. 30, 2009
Taking a hit - Aug. 25, 2009
Dean responds to 'outlandish' claims -
Aug. 13, 2009
VF hearts Obamas -
Aug. 4, 2009
Your evening speed-read -
Jun. 29, 2009
'Fore' in a row -
Jun. 28, 2009
Batter up, Baracklyn Cyclones! -
Jun. 25, 2009
Baracklyn? -
Jun. 24, 2009
Cartographer-in-chief -
Jun. 16, 2009AF1 flap - May. 28, 2009Gallup: Sotomayor strong - May. 28, 2009Clinton and Saberi - May. 27, 2009
Poll: Self-identified independents surge -
May. 26, 2009
Wright, Ayers team up -
May. 18, 2009
A Dem primary foe for Kanjorski? -
Apr. 22, 2009Bloomberg's 'win-chill' factor - Mar. 25, 2009 Obama vs. Palin: Grudge match 2012? - Mar. 20, 2009 Who leads the GOP? - Mar. 18, 2009 Congressional approval ratings rise - Mar. 12, 2009

And her weekly summaries of what politicos are going to be yakking the yak on Sunday talk shows.

Sunday talk show tip sheet - Nov. 14, 2009
Sunday talk show tip sheet - Nov. 7, 2009Sunday talk show tip sheet - Oct. 31, 2009Sunday talk show tip sheet - Oct. 24, 2009Sunday talk show tip sheet - Oct. 17, 2009Sunday talk show tip sheet - Oct. 10, 2009Sunday talk show tip sheet - Sep. 26, 2009Sunday talk show tip sheet - Sep. 19, 2009Sunday talk show tip sheet - Sep. 12, 2009Sunday talk show tip sheet - Sep. 5, 2009Sunday talk show tip sheet - Aug. 29, 2009

You go, girl.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Important questions people ask Google

Dianna just showed me this. I can't believe how entertaining this is...

Go to Google and type in the beginning of a question: Why is, why are, etc. It will show the results of other questions people have asked recently.
My favorite: "Why is there a dead Pakistani on my couch?"

Monday, November 16, 2009

Your bathroom is fucking disgusting

Face it - you probably have mold all over your shower. It may be brown, yellow or red, but it's hooking you up with a mess of spores that you are breathing in like an idiot. Mold can even grow where you least suspect - the ceiling - hanging above you like a freaking bat (albeit a flat bat).

Dealing with mold and mildew isn't easy. Seeing commercials with people spraying their showers after they're done after EVERY shower, or with some weird auto-washing contraption - I figured these people were certifiable crazy hypochondriacs or just suckers. But the stuff never really dies, and if you get lazy, if you turn your back for even a minute to get more toilet paper.... IT'S BAAAACK.

So here's how to kill it a little:

1. Keep a window open. Standing water is always the enemy - it either creates mosquitoes or mold, both of which suck ass. Ventilation will help dry everything, and keep the temperature down. Keep the door open as well.
2. Close the fucking shower curtain. Your mom was right after all.
3. If mold happens (and it will unless you're Martha Stuart), start out first by scrubbing the HELL out of it. Yes, forget chemical, just scrub that sucka. Use a strong bristled brush or steel wool to get at really tough spots that are making you crazy. Some places recommend dipping paper towels in vinegar and sticking those on the wall, but this didn't do much for me. I tried the same thing with OxyClean (which is better for the environment than bleach) but it also didn't do much. The only thing that really DID help was scrubbing my hands raw.
So do that.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

This beer sucks

So we all love the MGD 64 Light ads, but the beer?
Watery badness. Tastes like fizzy water with a single hops flower dipped in for .5 seconds.
Still, it goes down easy, and it's cheap. Maybe good for an after work beer when no one is around to scoff.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The truth about 'Truth'

I was always equal parts impressed and skeptical about the ballsy in-your-face anti-smoking ads - like this shredder one or this super-memorable one about rat poison.
My skepticism, however, came from the fact that there seemed to be no information at the time about the ad sponsor - someone called "Truth." There was no info about their funding or other stuff, and so rumors circulated that they were, in fact, funding by cigarette companies who were forced to create anti-smoking ad campaigns against their own products (which is ridiculous, but that's another story).
I was at a PR conference a few weeks ago, and they said that the Truth ads were, in fact, sponsored by the American Legacy Foundation, which was created by tobacco $$$ given to the government as part of a settlement.
So AHA!!! I guess tobacco companies are kind of behind it... but not really.... Damn, I thought this article was going to end differently but Wikipedia done steered me wrong...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Diagramming a Disease

Thanks to my pal Melissa for sharing this one. It's a fantastic chart about how smallpox has traveled the world.
Good for book learnin'.

Monday, November 9, 2009


What a fantastic idea - rewrite those ultra-lame airplane safety cartoons into funtastic creations (a.k.a. airtoons)!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Are hand dryers in public bathrooms unsanitary as hell?

My aunt forwarded me this email:

"Everyone in the cleaning industry has always been told that hand dryers in restrooms are not sanitary, they spread germs and bacteria around. I always thought that this just came from the paper companies because they are losing sales to the hand dryers.
A couple of years ago, I was working with a rep...
He told me to take a look under the hand dryer next time I was in a restroom. There is a filter underneath the hand dryer that is supposed to be cleaned on a weekly basis. I looked at one and it looked like it hadn't been cleaned in years. It had layers and layers of caked on gunk (disgusting)...
Now this is where the story gets really interesting. The schools and universities that have had the H1N1 (swine flu) outbreak this year are being told by the health department that they have to take out all of their hand dryers and replace them with towel dispensers because the hand dryers are spreading disease.

And some cursory Wikipedia research agrees with this:

"In 2008, a study was conducted by the University of Westminster, London, to compare the levels of hygiene offered by paper towels, warm air hand dryers and the more modern jet-air hand dryers.
The key findings were:

* after washing and drying hands with the warm air dryer, the total number of bacteria was found to increase on average on the finger pads by 194% and on the palms by 254%

* drying with the jet air dryer resulted in an increase on average of the total number of bacteria on the finger pads by 42% and on the palms by 15%

* after washing and drying hands with a paper towel, the total number of bacteria was reduced on average on the finger pads by up to 76% and on the palms by up to 77%."

Saturday, November 7, 2009

What I know about landmines

Landmines come in all shapes and sizes - heavy flat discs, little squat things that look like gray beets. They used to be made of metal, but to get around metal detectors people began building them out of plastic, which makes them basically unfindable.
Except by feet, that is.
The worst thing about mines is that they are built to last, as in for decades. So you fight a war, lay mines around your borders or other valuables sites, and when the conflict is over... well, you were so busy fighting you can't remember where you put them.
But people, especially kids, have this penchant for walking around and exploring. And the vast majority of landmine attacks hurt civilians. Often they don't kill - they just blow off a leg or two.
For this reason, they have been considered a scourge against humanity and are are campaigned against by the Nobel Peace Prize Winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL).
I've also seen them in person during our "Reporting in Dangerous Areas" journalism excursion, where we learned about weapons and CPR from former British mercenaries (yes, it kicked ass).
All this info is lead-up to this story: It is possible to actually safely locate a landmine with nothing more than a pointy stick and a lot of guts.
If you think you are in the middle of a minefield, you can get safely out (with some luck) by inserting the stick into the ground slowly at a 45 degree angle. If there is a mine in front of you, you will hit the base and not the trigger. You can therefore advance, inch by inch, through dangerous territory.
Now I'd never want to do this, ever. If I found a mine and got around it even once, I would think I was divinely blessed or something. But this guy did it (and does it) thousands and thousands of times, and has cleared entire miles of land by himself.
His name is Aki Ra.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Her Majesty, or, "What's Wrong With This Ad?"

I'm sure Sandra Robinson is an excellent lawyer. She may even be a "Super Lawyer," as she confidently claims.
However, she may want to rethink her marketing slogan:

"Queen of Malpractice"

Is this a good idea, even a little bit? The "Queen of Malpractice" sounds like a scary, scalpel-wielding M.D. who happens to be the sister of the Black Widow.
Man, if I saw someone called the "Queen of Malpractice"coming my way I would be hightailing it out of there.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I've probably spent a lot more time in cemeteries than most people my age, and I've enjoyed most of it, too.
A great wooden area in Pawtucket, Rhode Island led into Swan Point Cemetery, a large and very old place where, among others, horror writer H.P. Lovecraft is buried. The area was beautiful and serene - joggers were encouraged to use the area, and it was near a river and full squirrels, birds and other fun critters. I spent whole summers in those woods, looking for the oldest, oddest or most regal grave.
We also have a family burial plot where my great-great-great-great grandfather is buried in Massachusetts, and once a year we would pay respects in what my dad called "Visit the dead Rubins" day.
Finally, my dad worked for a few years as the owner of a monument company (a.k.a. gravestones), and his office was filled with stones, plaques, urns and other cool stuff for a young boy to check out.
Recently, Slate did an article about people who spend a lot of time at graveyards called "gravers." It seemed like a bullshit non-existant trend story, until my coworker told me he is totally a graver and visits graveyards all over the world. My Dad also claimed to be a proud graver - he used to do rubbings of graves so he could collect imprints of their text and artwork.
I never really found graves or cemeteries creepy for some reason. Maybe because I went there so often, or because I read lots of comics, or maybe there is just something soothing about stone, grass and the outdoors.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Imparting the lesson

At the voting booth at 6:40 a.m. this morning, there were the usual group of Democrats and Republicans handing out "instructive ballots" telling you exactly how they wanted you to vote. My vote was digital, painless and took all of 3 minutes.
When I got out, I noticed that the Republican flyer-hander-outer was about 70, and the Democratic ones were spunky folks in their 30's. I imagined a scene in my head, talking to my future son:

Me: Son, see these two groups. This one (pointing to the old man) is the Republican. He believes in tradition, and that people should find their own way in life. He is scared of the future and new ideas. He believes the old ways are best and the new ways will take us into darkness.
This one (pointing to the young folks) is the Democrat. He believes that the old ways are wrong and that we should give power to as many power as possible. He believes that we are all responsible for each other, even for the irresponsible among us. He sees the past as a mistake and wants to leave it behind forever.
So, which do you think has the right answer?
Son: (hesitant)... I don't know.
Me: That's a good answer. No one has all the answers. Life isn't about extremes, it's about the gray areas in between. Each can learn from each other if they only talk and look for what's right, not what their interests are.
Son: Dad, I'm three. I have no idea what you're talking about.
Me: Oh... I see. Well... you're grounded.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Review: A free GI JOE mug from 7-11

There is nothing more valued and cherished than free bullshit / merch.
So when I received my free GI JOE: RISE OF COBRA official commemorative slurpee cup from 7-11, my heart surely did thumpeth in my chest.
I enjoyed the orange molding. It felt right in my hand, like I imagine a katana would. One demerit that was quickly noticeable: the size what something less to be desired for regular office drinkitude.
It served me well for months as the movie hype came and went. Never did I see the movie, but I saw the cup daily, and gladly.
Until today. I noticed a strange taste in my cup. I knew it couldn't come from the water, since I shell out a few bucks a month for unlimited Poland Springs at work. I looked into the bottom of the cup and noticed a discoloration; the orange at the bottom of the cup had turned white. And there was a bitter, plasticky taste that could not be ignored.
I gave my cup a 12-gun salute (in my head) and chucked it in the garbage near the coffee filters.