Monday, March 23, 2009

Notes From A Recession, Or ....

...there's customer service, and then there's customer service.....

I have heard that some businesses are offering giveaways and special promotions to lure and keep customers. Some may be getting more creative than others.

Today during lunch I called what I thought was Comcast's 1-800 number to resolve a wireless issue.

Someone answered immediately, which surprised me.

It was a woman, which did not surprise me.

And she immediately initiated phone sex, which did surprise me.

Not making this up.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Talk About "Cold Cases"

Scottish police recently removed human bones and bits of cloth discovered on a Scottish farm for forensic analysis. Unfortunately, it wasn't, as the police thought, the scene of a crime--at least not a recent one. The bones (and cloth) had been there for 4,000 years.

On the other hand, Jonathan Hampton, the farmer who uncovered the burial, immediately had an idea of what he was looking at and called Historic Scotland, the National Museums of Scotland, and local police explaining he had found an archaeological site.

The police got there first and told Mr. Hampton they were only going to take pictures.

Mr. Hampton believes that some of the artifacts were destroyed or lost by police.

Historic Scotland has defended the police on the grounds that they were obligated to investigate an "unexplained death."

There is no word on whether the police actually did come up with an explanation.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Week in Food

If you're visiting Lucca and find yourself hankering for lamb biryani or chicken kung pao, you might be out of luck.

If you've ever wanted to drink from a urinal, this Taiwanese restaurant chain is perfect for you.

Planning to quit your job? Say it with cake.

In light of the White House's concerns about food contamination, you might wonder what the current food purity laws are. You've probably asked yourself, how many rodent hairs can there legally be in my chocolate? When I buy dried mushrooms, what's the average maggot count per package? Wonder no more. You can find out here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Iranian Nuclear Bogeyman Update

Curiously, I can find no mention of this in the New York Times, but a week after the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff stated Iran had sufficient "fissile material" to make a bomb, the BBC reports that:

Iran has no weapons-grade uranium, US military officials have said in an attempt to clarify recent statements from Washington and Israel.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Forget Hard Drives, Thumb Drives, Secure Servers...

...if you have some documents you want to keep private, print them out, don't save them in electronic form, and put them in an old-fashioned safe. Or under your mattress. Seriously.

It's been a bad few months for data security--I don't know whether there's something in the drinking water that's making people more stupid than usual, or if the IT gods are angry, but nothing much seems to be safe on computers or any other member of the electronic family.

In January, someone bought an mp3 player in an Oklahoma thrift store, only to find it contained military files from Iraq--including mission briefs.

In February, we learned that nearly 70 computers are missing from the Los Alamos nuclear weapons lab.

And if you're at all curious about NATO's "Master Narrative" for Afghanistan--including what information is to be kept from journalists--you can download it here.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Georgia on my Mind

Or at least the General Assembly (the Ga. state legislature) is. I am bemused to discover that this morning members of the Georgia State Senate received copies of Senate Bill 7, To amend Chapter ...the Official Code of Georgia Annotated... so as to require an oath or affirmation for purposes of presenting certain evidence to a committee or subcommittee of the General Assembly.

In other words, the bill, if it becomes law, would make it illegal to lie when giving testimony to the Georgia state legislature.

In other words, right now it is legal to lie to the Georgia state legislature.

But what I love most about this bill is that even if it passes both houses of the General Assembly, it will still be legal for legislators themselves to lie. Apparently, requiring them to be honest would violate their right to "free debate."

Apparently the Georgia constitution's definition of "free debate" owes something to Fox News' definition of "fair and balanced." Or maybe the other way around.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Week in Food--Again!

Or perhaps I should have entitled this, "The Culture Wars Come to the Kitchen." It seems some Christian fundamentalists are taking "we are what we eat" a bit literally. Joe Godlewski of Cresaptown, MD was fed up with all the salt he saw in supermarkets being described as "kosher salt." "What's wrong with Christian salt?" he asked. Perhaps worried that the Republic was being subjected to surreptitious Judiazation through the nation's salt shakers, he came up with Christian salt.

Yes, Christian salt. Every granule has been blessed by an Episcopal priest, guaranteeing that your sodium chloride is as Christian as the Bible itself.*

Of course, this is probably only the most blatant of the many attempts by Christian fundamentalists to save this godless country through its stomach. Haven't you ever wondered what's up with the bacon craze? The bacon martini.... Bacon bath salts....Chocolate cup cakes with bacon cream-cheese frosting....It's not just American excess. Pork has been identified with the Christian religion for centuries. As Jessica says in The Merchant of Venice, "in converting Jews to Christians, you raise the price of pork." Think--who are you if you're eating pork? You're not a practicing Muslim. You're not a strictly observant Jew. You're not a tofu-eating soy-drinking godless liberal. And what embodies the essence of pork more than bacon?

And do you think it's any accident that the most famous example of bacon excess is the product of Republican-owned Wendy's? If you're still skeptical, I remind you that the baconator was introduced as part of Wendy's CEO Kerrii Anderson's "back-to-basics" campaign for the company. "Back-to-basics" is an ideologically laden phrase: it was the name of the Tory party's 1994 moral crusade in the UK, and is the beginning of the title of a noted book about the Republican party.

Yes. There's no doubt: bacon consumption is some public-yet-secret celebration of Republican/fundamentalist Christian values. And once you've been lured over to some bacon fest by the thick, salty** smell of sizzling pork fat....there's no turning back.

*Or at least the New Testament part.
**And that's Christian salt, dammit.

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