Archive for April, 2008

Apr 29 2008

Lace Up Your Boots — We’re Going Banking!

So how depressing is this? I walk by a Citi (CitiBank? CitiFinancial? Why is an enormous financial institution named with a misspelled word, anyway?) location, and they’ve got these colorful advertisements for their Citi-Online service (an online-banking service), with pictures of people doing various activities and cutesy questions like “Our place? Or yours?”, the implication being that your life would be ever so much more fulfilling if only you could bank anyplace you happened to find yourself.

And what the heck do they mean when they use bank as a verb, anyway? It really makes no sense in this context.

I want very few things from my bank — I want them to pay me for the privilege of holding my vast fortune, to give it to me when I want it, and to give it to whoever else I (and only I!) tell them to. That’s it. So, basically, with a cell phone, I can’t get my money, so the only thing I could be doing with my money is paying bills.

Whee! I can pay bills anywhere!

What’s really setting me off here is one particular ad — a picture of a guy at a beautiful campsite, silhouetted against a fabulous sunset, working — banking? — on a laptop.

How freaking depressing! This is supposed to attract me to your institution? The possibility of being so shackled to my bills and financial life that I’ve got to haul my laptop to a campground?

Now, granted, I’m a high-tech camper. I probably tote more batteries than food when I’m camping. But I’m not hauling stuff to a mountaintop so I can pay my bills.

I know! Let’s advertise more mutually incompatible activities as if they weren’t completely insane!

  • Netflix: “Watch our DVDs — while you drive!”
  • Nintendo: “Play video games — while you’re mountain biking!”
  • Michael’s Craft Stores: “Knit a sweater — scuba diving!”
  • Research In Motion: “Check your email on your BlackBerry — while watching your kid’s school play!”

Wait a minute. I see people doing that last one all the time.

Maybe Citi’s on to something….

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Apr 26 2008

Get Out Of My Head, Google!

Alright, I’m getting annoyed with Google again — this time it’s their automated telepathic behavior predictor/installer that’s really sticking it to me.

Think I’m kidding? If you’ve got Google’s search bar, try typing in the beginning of a general question; Google will then activate its mind-reading scanner (embedded in all computer monitors manufactured after 1992) and tell you what the rest of your question should be, in order of the popularity of other people’s questions. And, more often than not, the question that Google asks ends up being a heckuva lot more interesting than the one you started with, so you ditch your old question and start investigating the stuff that Google wants you to. A few examples:

Original Question: How Old Is The Universe?

I got as far as “how old is,” and up popped the following “suggestions”:

  • How old is McCain? Coincidentally, the answer to this one is the same as the answer to my original question!
  • How old is Hugh Hefner? Hey! I just noticed there’s some old guy puttering around the Playboy Mansion among all those Playmates! How long has he been there?
  • How old is Dolly? People actually care about a cloned sheep’s birthday?
  • How old is Brett Michaels of Poison? Okay, this officially qualifies as a “WTF?”
  • How old is Queen Elizabeth? Apparently kids still have to do history research.

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Apr 22 2008

Setting Them Off

Oh, lordy. Michelle Malkin reminded me that today is Earth Day.

So with the parade of “environmental” celebrities and presidential candidates justifying their ownership and use of multiple-acre mansions and fuel-guzzling, pollution-belching private jets (including – I kid you not – a private 707 owned by John Travolta) by pointing out that they’re purchasing “carbon offsets,” I did a little investigation of that industry, and then a little thinking, which in my case is a dangerous combination.

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Apr 20 2008

How To Respond To Legal Disclaimers In Emails – A Mildly Nuclear Suggestion

Published by under Law,Technology

When you’re dealing with lawyers via email, you will receive messages with threatening disclaimers attached to them. These disclaimers essentially foretell the Apocalypse if you do something normal, like forward the email message to someone else.

Problem is, lawyers have these disclaimers set to automatically append themselves to every email message they send. So they get slapped onto the most innocuous emails you could ever see.

The other day, participating in an email conversation with some friends, I received a “reply all” email from a lawyer friend I’ll call Sam. His only word in the reply was “cool!”

Followed by a lengthy email disclaimer that said something like the following:

This electronic mail (including any attachments) may contain information that is privileged, confidential, and/or otherwise protected from disclosure to anyone other than its intended recipient(s). Any dissemination or use of this electronic email or its contents (including any attachments) by persons other than the intended recipient(s) is strictly prohibited. If you have received this message in error, please notify us immediately by reply email so that we may correct our internal records. Please then delete the original message (including any attachments) in its entirety. Thank you.

As you will have deduced by now, The Mind Scalpel has a bit of a short fuse. So when I received this one-word email message and disclaimer, I snapped. Here is my reply to Sam. I recommend you come up with similar replies if you find yourself in the same situation.

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Apr 14 2008

Rules of the Road Rage II — Shun Politeness

Published by under Accidents

And another thing!

Look, people, if you’re on the road and you decide to do something really rude, like cut someone off or shove in front of someone, the worst, the absolute worst, thing you can then do is get an attack of the guilts and decide to be randomly polite.

Why? Because it screws everyone else up, that’s why.

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Apr 13 2008

Commuters — Choose Your Enemy

Published by under Accidents

Sorry about the hiatus, all. I have a few other projects in beta, though none is the labor of love that is

In addition to the coding, I have been focused on traffic. Not the tasty revenue-generating high-volume internet traffic kind of traffic, but rather the paint-drying, teeth-gnashing automobile traffic kind of traffic. And I realized that since an increasing number of us are spending an increasing amount of time sitting in our 0-to-60-in-4.0-seconds sports cars (which, ironically, we never really get to test, since we’re always — that’s right — SITTING IN TRAFFIC), we all need to realize that pretty much every single one of us chooses at least two other people to hate — hate with the hot, hot hate of a thousand burning suns — for the duration of our daily commutes.

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Apr 01 2008

Behavior Identification Experts Detect Guy “Acting Crazy”

Published by under Government,Terrorism

Well, thank heavens for the crack training we’ve given to some Transportation Security Agency employees. As reported by, the agents were able to infer that someone might be a threat at the Orlando airport, working only from incredibly subtle cues that passengers characterized as the guy “acting crazy.”

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