Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Looking for New Investments?

So we've got a burst housing bubble in the West. So the stock market's um, well, volatile. There are still places to invest. And it's still time to get in on the ground floor.

Yes, I'm talking Baghdad real estate.

But to pick a good property, you have to think outside the box. No McMansions. Don't worry about yard space or riverfront views.

Think barred windows.

Think concrete blast-protection walls.

And above all, think religious segregation. Let's be fair. Sunnis don't bring down property prices. Shias don't either.

But the combination? That can be a problem.

Looks Like We Need A New TSA....

...to police the old TSA:

Over the past year, an enterprising baggage screener in Newark made off with over 100 items from passenger luggage: a cell phone here, a $50,000 camera belonging to an HBO film crew there......

It's unsurprising that the TSA has trouble securing passenger luggage, since they can't even secure their own uniforms and badges:

A government watchdog group's report found dozens of examples of former employees keeping their uniforms and security badges long after they've left the job.

One officer had an active pass to secure areas 827 days after leaving the TSA. In 73 cases, offices that monitor security passes weren't notified when an employee quit. And the agency lost track of former security officers' uniforms 82 times.

To be fair, since a lot of TSA employees are part time and make around $14.00 an hour, they probably can't afford to buy new clothes. They may steal those uniforms just to have something to wear. Or maybe they sell them on eBay to raise a few bucks.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Since We've Solved All Our Other Problems....

We can finally deal with pressing issues that have been on the back burner, such as the Canadian Menace.

From Helenair.com:

Montana’s U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester today announced that Montana and 11 Montana counties will receive $8.2 million to help address critical homeland security needs.

Last year, Congress directed the Department of Homeland Security to allow northern border counties to apply for funding through Operation Stonegarden. The program was previously only for security on America’s southern border.

And as we enter the last weeks of the presidential campaign, people are finally taking notice of the most critical differences between the two tickets--such as how they pronounce the names of Asian countries.

As one reader of National Review fumed, "No one in flyover country says Pockistan. It's annoying."

I wish I could be equally confident that no one in the Pentagon said newkular.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Now *this* is a book title

I'm at work today, and I found an uncatalogued book in the closed stacks:

Coryat's crudities; reprinted from the edition of 1611. To which are now added, his letters from India, &c. and extracts relating to him, from various authors, being a more particular account of his travels (mostly on foot) in different parts of the globe, than any hitherto published. Together with his orations, character, death &c. With copper-plates ...

This little gem hit the London bookstalls in 1776, and probably provided a welcome distraction from the hooliganism of American colonists. And lest the second word of the title make you think the book started off with dirty jokes (which is perfectly plausible: those Jacobeans could be a raunchy bunch), that's simply how Thomas Coryat, Esq., spelled crudités: the book is a gastronomical travelogue, and was originally entitled:

Coryat's Crudities Hastily gobbled up in five Moneth's travells in France, Savoy, Italy, Rhetia comonly Called the Grisons country, Hel- Vetia alias Switzerland, some Parts of both high Germany, and the Netherlands; Newly digested in the hungry aire Of Odcombe in the County of Somerset, and now dispersed to the Nourishment of the travelling Members of this Kingdome.

A friend informed me that the British comic writer Tim Moore retraced Coryat's journey in the 'nineties and wrote it up as Continental Drifter.

When I learned that, I immediately understood why book sales have tanked in recent years. As a title, Continental Drifter is concise and mildly evocative, but it's pretty lackluster compared to Coryat's crudities; reprinted... I'm sure Drifter is a perfectly readable book, but where are the promises of "orations, character, death"--and the added enticement of copper plates?

And don't get me started on comparisons to the original title: Moore's book just makes me picture some down-and-out wandering God knows where (he doesn't even specify which continent). The good Mr. Coryat, on the other hand, dangles France, Savoy, Italy and Hel-Vetia before my eyes, and refreshes me with bracing thoughts of the hungry aire of Odcombe.

Screw the big displays at Borders: titles like Coryat's crudities? Now that's marketing.

By the way--Coryat is credited with introducing the fork to the Anglophone world. What's Tim Moore done for us lately?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Scammers go Postal

Literally. A friend of mine went to the USPS website and was told he was the one millionth visitor and would win a free laptop--after handing over access to his bank account, of course.

He went to another computer four hours later and was again told he was the one millionth visitor.

Since he hasn't created a customer account with USPS, he couldn't be identified as the same person who had visited the site earlier.

Two one millionth visitors? Is that something that's possible in the New New Math?

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