Wednesday, January 31, 2007

URLS gone Wild!

No, this is not highbrow. Sue me. Two caveats: In spite of the "all of these are real companies" claim, several of these do not appear to be real sites, just amusing. Second, this is not original to me. CPS sent it to me in an email. He didn't make it up either. It's the internet, for heaven's sake.

All of these are legitimate companies that didn't spend quite enough time
considering how their online names might appear .... and be misread.

1. Who Represents is where you can find the name of the agent that
represents any celebrity. Their Web site is

2 . Experts Exchange is a knowledge base where programmers can exchange advice and views at

3. Looking for a pen? Look no further than Pen Island at (From their site: "We understand many customers want to test-drive before considering a larger order." I bet.)

4. Need a therapist? Try Therapist Finder at

5. There's the Italian Power Generator company,

6. And don't forget the Mole Station Native Nursery in New South Wales , (Their motto: "What you need, when you need it." That's just nasty.)

7. If you're looking for IP computer software, there's always

8. The First Cumming Methodist Church Web site is (And how long
will they wait for the SECOND cumming?)

9. And the designers at Speed of Art await you at their wacky Web site,

UPDATE: A source, sort of. It's kind of old. Still, some of them made me laugh...

And, on that site one finds this: A law firm. No, really.

And, for a variant on one of the biblical miracles....

And, if you are afraid of the running of the Bulls, do it for your lady friend:

Monday, January 29, 2007

Dumbest Moments....

CNN did a nice job on its "101 Dumbest Business Moments"

Wal-Mart places 6 times in the top 101. Yikes.

In an attempt to put a smiley face on its tarnished image, Wal-Mart hires heavy-hitting public relations firm Edelman, which sets about using tactics derived from political races to reverse public perceptions of the giant retailer.

Dubbing its campaign "Candidate Wal-Mart," the firm trumpets all manner of new Wal-Mart initiatives: improved employee health-care benefits, higher starting pay levels, new stores in downtrodden neighborhoods, reasonably priced organic foods, and a flat $4 fee for hundreds of generic prescription drugs.

As a result, candidate Wal-Mart quickly becomes, well, the most popular politician since Spiro Agnew. By year's end Wal-Mart suffers its first quarterly profit drop in a decade, sees same-store sales decline in November's run-up to the crucial holiday shopping season, and suffers a series of public relations gaffes so stunning that it lands six spots in this year's edition of the 101 Dumbest Moments.

My own favorite? #6:

Bringing the ever-friendly spirit of its in-store greeters online, offers DVD shoppers helpful recommendations for films they might be interested in purchasing.

Customers looking at the Web site's product pages for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Planet of the Apes, for instance, are steered toward "similar items" such as Martin Luther King: I Have a Dream/Assassination of MLK and Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson. Wal-Mart spokeswoman Mona Williams says the company is "heartsick" over the incident but has "absolutely no evidence" that the connections were made intentionally.


Oh, and by the way, for you losers who spend money on stockbrokers...

(A grateful nod to TtWBWB)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Snark Around The Clock

I rarely read the scabrous "American and Comparative Jobs" blog/comment fest.

The self-serving tone, and the nearly entirely uninformed content, makes it of little use for anyone who has a job, and more addictive than crack for those who do not.

But I ventured into the morass today, and encountered...well, pure joy. The level of snark has fallen past mere food fight, and now approximates zoo monkeys throwing their own excrement and then enthusiastically licking their hands.

On the other hand, there is a degree of self-awareness in the comments that makes it clear that the participants recognize this. I give people a LOT of credit for self-awareness.

Two quotes, for a hint of what it is like:

1. Anonymous said...
The Cornell Dept is the academic equivalent of an Amish community.

and then:

2. Anonymous said...
...For all the people disparaging the TAMU, Emory, and Davis's of the world...most of them wouldn't even sniff an interview at those places.

The conversation here reminds me too much of how my first and second year colleagues would talk in the computer lab. Interesting how their tune always changed once they hit the job market.
1/27/2007 5:21 AM

Anonymous said...
Seems like we have an omniscient poster here!
1/27/2007 5:26 AM

Anonymous said...
Reading all the snark on this blog reminds me of a line that Steve Martin used to pull out on hecklers: "Ah, yes, I can remember what it was like when I had my first beer..."
1/27/2007 5:47 AM

Anonymous said...
The point, 4:30, is that Cornell wouldn't have any serious placements in the last 20 years without Mebane doing the heavy lifting.
1/27/2007 6:16 AM

Anonymous said...
How can people rehash the same question again and again as though it's fresh meat?
1/27/2007 7:18 AM

Anonymous said...
7:18 - we are political scientists

Now, ain't THAT the truth!

The Road to Serfdom, Graphic Novel Version

Everyone in the world may already have seen this.

But here is a link to The Road to Serfdom.....

And props to Nick, who also has a sensible view of the job market, to match his (mostly) sensible views of everything else.

When Mimes Become Memes....

Maybe it's just because my wife and I saw "The Illusionist" last night.

But I enjoyed this illusion also.

The Bunny of Doom

There is a growing tradition of terrifying rabbits.

Jimmy Carter's attack rabbit, in the jon boat. (Photo above, credit here)

The Monty Python vicious "Rabbit of Caerbannog", armor piercing version.

And now, the bunny who attacks pythons...or at least a fair sized snake. The redneck chortling about
the scene as he films it could be any one of dozens of members of my extended

(Nod to LM)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Eyeball Soak, Please.....

A friend sent me the link to this calendar for the Bryan, Texas Water Services public works department. To get a "flavor" of the calendar's contents, do click on the "Flushdance" thumbnail (That would be Mr. March, I think)...

I don't want to say who this "friend" is, to protect his identity.

But he is a Mormon, Libertarian, elected official who once lived on a dairy farm under what is now the Jordanelle Reservoir.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Attack....of the KILLER DECISIONS

"Well, no question, decisions have made things unstable."

-- President George W. Bush, in interview with 60 Minutes, 1/12/07, quoted here.

(nod to KL)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Hammer of Truth

Why, oh WHY does Hammer of Truth lie dormant?

Check this.....

The site has been down for....seems like YEARS. And it still gets so many hits.

This isn't perfectionism. It's insanity.

I am sad....

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Obesity Reduction and Health Promotion Act

"The well-intentioned desire of Congress to help the poor apparently will
not be restrained by the rules and principles of the free market that
otherwise do restrain American businesses and workers. Apparently Congress
can change the rules that otherwise affect the affairs of mankind. And so,
Mr. Speaker, I have asked my staff to draft a measure I call the Obesity
Reduction and Health Promotion Act. Since Congress will apparently not be
restrained by the laws and principles that naturally exist, I propose that
the force of gravity--by the force of Congress--be reduced by 10%. Mr.
Speaker, that will result in an immediate weight loss for every American."

-- Rep. Bill Sali (R-ID), during debate on minimum wage legislation on the
floor of the House

(Nod to KL)

Phallus 101: The competition was stiff....

THE "DIRTY DOZEN" list of "America's Most Bizarre and Politically Correct College Courses" is out — and Los Angeles-area institutions of higher learning have walked away with one-fourth of the ranked honors (or dishonors). Occidental College, an 1,800-student liberal arts school in Eagle Rock, is the only college on the list to collect not one but two citations for excellence at offering trendy theories of gender, skin color and white-male oppression at the expense of actual academic content.

Such a disappointment. Duke only mentioned once. I had high hopes for the course in my own Department, "Politics and the Libido." But the judges were obviously paid off.

I have to admit that I have only limited sympathy for such lists. Some of the courses are actually quite interesting and useful, but have funny titles. Some of the rest...well, I do have limited sympathy for such lists.

But, the "Politics and the Libido" course I mention excellent course. Well-taught, thoughtful, and interesting. Pretending sex does not matter in politics is just as bad as pretending that only sex matters.

Still, some of the courses on the list....unbelievable.


(Nod to EJ)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Great Mungers of the Past

Google has a new "patent search" engine. turns out that once again I am humbled by great Mungers of the past. This time, it is N. Q. Munger, of Casco, Michigan, making us all proud. He invented (along with one Pomeroy) a device that does double duty. It can be forced down the throat of a cow to clear a blockage that is choking the poor girl.

AND (this is the important part) it can be pushed up the anus of the cow to relieve her of that uncomfortable gaseous bloat that cattle get.

The description of the device, in more detail, I leave to your own reading. ATSRTWT, indeed.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Cuba Libre

Greg nails a diagnosis of the sickness that is the Cuba policy of the U.S.

My own experience, once, and then again.

I don't think this trait is adaptive....

Fainting goats....

One of the people on the video says the goats never make each other faint. I don't buy it. I would definitely hide behind a tree, smoking goat cigarettes and telling goat jokes, until an unsuspecting friend walked by. You could jump out and bleat loudly, and the friend would go belly up, legs in the air. I think I may try this over at the Duke faculty club this week; it could work. Though our faculty are not really goats, I suppose; more sheepish.

(thanks to Jeremy B., for the notice)

Price Controls More Generally

A reminder that my article on EconLib, about price-gouging, is now up. Lots of other interesting stuff on EconLib also, including (blush) an extremely fine podcast, for those of you who pod. (Not that there is anything WRONG with that...) (I just checked; Roberts/Munger podcast was not posted as if 9:30 EST. Should be up in the next couple of hours).

And a link to a nice piece at a fine blog. David Tufte is keeping it pretty darned real in southern Utah.

That Ol Debil Work

From Drudge:

Sun Jan 07 2007 15:03:38 ET

Democrats ran to expand the work week in the House to 5 days.

But guess how long that lasted?

Not even one week!

"Culture Shock on Capitol Hill: House to Work 5 Days a Week" front-paged the WASHINGTON POST in December.

Majority leader Steny Hoyer said members of the House will be expected in the Capitol for votes each week by 6:30 p.m. Monday and will finish their business about 2 p.m. Friday.

Explained the POST: "Forget the minimum wage. Or outsourcing jobs overseas. The labor issue most on the minds of members of Congress yesterday was their own: They will have to work five days a week starting in January."

But on the morning after the night before, on the first full week of the new congress, Hoyer has pulled back from his vow!

A Hoyer press release obtained by the DRUDGE REPORT boldly declares: "Monday, January 8, 2007: The House is not in session."

Hill sources claim The House is taking Monday 'off' this week, because of the championship football game between Ohio State and the University of Florida.

And, of course, the following Monday is the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

100 hours...starting...soon

I'd say this: The 5 day week was always unrealistic; can't be done, for members who are further away than about 2 hours travel time. Members have to spend time in the district, and have to be able to schedule a week day predictably. Monday makes good sense.

Now, Pelosi and co. knew this all along, and fibbed about it. But anyone who believed them was the one who was silly. And not for the last time. A lot of claims in December are going to be dead and buried by February. Just part of governing. Doesn't mean the Dems are liars. Pelosi will just say, "You know how I roll," and that will be that.

(Nod to Anonyman)

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Girls Just Want to Have....

Pen pal S sends a video link.

Nicely done. And makes a reasonably serious point. When men say stupid things, most of us nod. When women say argumentative things, most of us get mad. Even other women, perhaps most of all. Like the speaker is breaking union work rules.

Growing Old

Signs I am, in fact, not as young as I once was:

1. I would prefer a belly laugh from a six-month-old girl I'm holding to a wink from a 25 year old woman three seats down at a bar. By a lot. Babies are my favorite toys.

2. A great bowl of soup is better than a good dessert.

3. Give me some nice poached fish rather than a steak, anytime.

4. I have a two drink limit. Not so I can drive, but so I don't fall asleep at the party.

I am not saying these preferences are a matter of prudence. Soup seriously tastes better to me than dessert. And who wants to have to take a nap at a party?

At one time, any one of these comparisons would have gone exactly the opposite way.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Um....Are they serious?

I can't tell if they are serious.

But I think so.

The Humpty-Dumpty Institute.

(Nod to Anonyman)

A Campaign FInance Reform Plan

From KL, who apparently has access to much better drugs than I do:

(1) Electoral success depends on extensive fundraising.
(2) Many people want to influence policy.
(3) Some people have a lot more money than others.

(1) Any entity may grant any benefit to any member of Congress.
(2) All benefits granted to, or time granted by, a member of Congress must
be matched by a grant (at some multiple of the original grant...1x, 2x,
etc.) to the FEC.
(3) FEC then randomly assigns each grant (perhaps sub-divided) to someone
who voted in the most recent federal election.
(4) Assignee may then exercise that grant by meeting with the member (in the
case of a time grant) or by conferring the benefit on any member of Congress
(in the case of a material grant), or Assignee may donate the grant to
another entity.

(1) Congressman Jefferson spends two hours at a nice restaurant, three hours
on a corporate jet, and receives $90,000 in cash from Mr. Moneybags.
(2) Mr. Moneybags must then deposit another $90,000 with the FEC plus the
cost of three hours on a corporate jet and two hours at a nice restaurant;
Congressman Jefferson must set aside five hours of his schedule.
(3) FEC grants nine voters the right to confer $10,000+ on any member of
Congress, and the FEC grants five voters the right to spend an hour each
with Congressman Jefferson; some of the grants are donated to the American
Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute, the Center for American Progress,
Michael Moore, and Sean Hannity.

Living in Dutch, Part Twee: Less Gloomy, But NOT Ecstatic

On the other hand, there is also this, in part of a year end report on Dutch....well, culture. This from a country a little bigger than New Jersey.

2 January 2006
Dutch less gloomy, but not ecstatic about 2006

The New Year starts with pessimissm as four out of 10 Dutch people expect a deterioration of their financial situation, according to research bureau Trendbox. "But this is 15 percent less gloominess than the expectations regarding 2004 and 2005," Trendbox said. The bureau questioned 500 people in December about their expectations for the coming year.

9 January 2006
Mother arrested after bodies of four babies are found

A woman and her partner were arrested in December after DNA testing confirmed they were the parents of four dead babies. The body of a newborn baby was discovered in the home of the woman's mother in Haarlem on 21 December. It has now emerged that the bodies of three other "tiny" babies were found following searches in the garden of the suspects' home in Beverwijk, north-west of Amsterdam.

3 March 2006
Suitcase loss costs KLM EUR 200,000

Airline KLM is fined EUR 200,000 for losing a passenger's suitcase and damaging his credibility more than seven years ago. Dr José Tiongco was travelling with KLM as an envoy of the Philippine authorities in November 1998. He was scheduled to give a lecture at a conference held by the World Health Organisation in Kazakhstan. He flew from Amsterdam to Frankfurt with KLM but his suitcase did not follow him. This meant he had give his lecture in jeans, t-shirt and sneakers — something that damaged his credibility, the judge agrees.

23 March 2006
Dutch navy hit by more rape, drugs claims

The clamour for a wide-ranging investigation grows amid allegations at least two female sailors were raped on a frigate where drug use was rife. It also emerges that four sailors serving on the naval supply ship 'Amsterdam' were sent home by the commanding officer for organising an initiation ritual mimicking the photographs of naked Iraqi detainees being abused by US soldiers in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The incident took place last summer while the supply ship was operating in the Arabian Sea as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

26 April 2006
Dutch report cites lack of entrepreneurship

The business climate in the Netherlands scores average to good when compared with the situation in the 19 other industrialised countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a new report has found. But the report published by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) identifies a lack of entrepreneurship as a "sticking point" in the Netherlands. The Netherlands scores well in terms of secondary indicators such as the functioning of government and infrastructure. The country does less well when it comes to driving economic growth. The report cites a lack of innovation and entrepreneurship as the main restraints in this regard.

11 May 2006
Thousands 'unfairly' ticketed under ID law

Police have issued 80,000 fines since the start of 2005 to people for failing to carry proper ID. But an investigation published by newspaper 'De Volkskrant' indicates police often acted wrongly. The public prosecution office (OM) thinks police officers are often too quick to hand out a ticket to a person without ID, but whose identity is known. Often the cases relate to 'acquaintances' of the police, such as homeless people or beggars. Others involve people who later come to the police station with a valid ID. The ID law, which came into force in January 2005, states a fine is not necessary in such cases.

24 May 2006
Jail time cut in rape, animal porn case

An appeals court in Arnhem imposed sentences of seven years on the two main defendants in the Kraggenburger rape and animal porn case. Belgian P.M. and E van C., a resident of the Dutch town of Almere, were jailed for 14 and 10 years by the trial court in Lelystad for kidnapping three African refugees in Brussels. The women were subjected to rape and sexual assault in a shed in the Dutch town of Kraggenburger in April 2004. The women were beaten and forced to have sex with Rottweiler dogs for the purposes of a pornographic video.

30 May 2006
Dutch paedophiles set up political party

Pro-paedophile activists have established a new political party in the Netherlands to campaign for the legalisation of sex between adults and children. "Ten years ago we were 'on speaking terms' with society. But since [Belgian paedophile killer] Marc Dutroux there is no more discussion. All paedophiles are being put in the same box. We are being hushed up," Ad van den Berg, the co-founder of the new party said. The NVD will lobby for a reduction in the age of consent in the Netherlands from 16 to 12 and then phased out completely over time. "Forbidding makes children all the more curious," Van den Berg said.

6 June 2006
Ambassador leaving 'homophobic' Estonia

Dutch Ambassador Hans Glaubitz is leaving Estonia because his male partner, a black Cuban, has been the victim of homophobia and racism, the Foreign Ministry confirms. The ambassador's partner was subjected to verbal harassment and threats in the street and threats. These began after a local magazine wrote that the appointment of a gay ambassador with a black partner had to be seen as a Dutch provocation. The Foreign Ministry had hoped that Estonia, like its neighbour Finland, would be able to accept a relationship between two men.


Living in Dutch, Part Een

From my American-in-Holland expat pal MM, a link to living as a ...well, as an American-in-Holland. Culture is interesting, and I found this article interesting enough to reproduce most of it.

Here is the link, tho.

Getting along with the Dutch
Decoding Dutch behaviour and appreciating the underlying values can be a fun and revealing experience — you might even find the notoriously bad service is not so shocking after all, writes Tatjana van de Kamp...

...[An] effective way to experience positive learning and to start appreciating Dutch values and behaviour is going out and meeting Dutch people, staying curious and asking questions.

When you feel surprised, disappointed or confused by Dutch behaviour or a certain situation, try the following three questions to explore the situation.

Question 1: Could this have happened in my home country as well?

This is a question for yourself: are you experiencing a cultural difference or just a cultural bias?

If I am, for example, complaining about traffic jams and the incompetence of Dutch drivers, I must remember that as soon as I cross the border into Germany, I will also find slow and fast drivers or aggressive and over-cautious drivers and sooner or later I will end up in a traffic jam.

But expats tend to attribute everything that they find disturbing or not working well to the nature of the Dutch. Dutch traffic jams are bad whereas the German traffic jams are normal. This is a cultural bias.

However, if you answer this first question with 'no', it is time for the second question.

Question 2: Could there be a reason for the Dutch behaviour? Did I do anything to provoke it?

This is a question you can easily address to your Dutch counterpart, because you can discuss almost everything with the Dutch.

For example, if you just drop into your new Dutch friend’s house because you happen to be in the neighbourhood, you may be surprised not to feel welcome.

Your Dutch friend may be surprised at your 'disrespect' of his privacy and family life. You have not been invited and have no appointment. You are disturbing the order. Respect for privacy and being in control of one’s life are core Dutch values.

Intercultural encounters are bi-directional, which means that both parties can experience culture shock.

If you still feel you are right in what you did, dig a little deeper and ask the third question before you come to the conclusion that the Dutch have absolutely no manners.

Question 3: What were my feelings? Did I show them?

Imagine you go into a shop and are not served. Maybe you are used to a service focused environment and become annoyed.

If you start asking for service while showing your irritation by unconsciously raising your voice (for example), don’t expect the shop assistant to rush and help you with pleasure.

From the shop assistant’s perspective, she did everything right. She respected your privacy and independence. She performed that role the way she had learned it: not being obtrusive, waiting for you to come and ask for help if you needed it.

But instead of asking her, you are showing your indignation. It is okay to be direct and discuss almost everything with the Dutch, as long as you don’t show emotions and you don’t get personal about it.

Showing anger is interpreted as a lack of interest in a common solution.

And it is certainly regarded as bad manners to treat service personnel or subordinates as 'staff' instead of meeting them as 'equals', paying them the same respect that you would pay to your boss.

Your behaviour may have been based on the assumption that this is just another example of a lack of service orientation in the Netherlands.

The assistant’s reaction comes like a self-fulfilling prophecy: She is irritated at your irritation and you feel confirmed in your assumption. What seems to be bad manners is an intercultural misunderstanding.

Dutch values

Being conscious about these questions can help you become more aware that strange behaviour which looks like poor service or a lack of hospitality could actually be subject to some underlying Dutch values that may differ significantly from yours:

Dutch respect personal freedom and autonomy. Dutch people are very direct, but in a non-emotional and non-personal way. The tone of voice makes the difference.

The egalitarian perspective requires that everyone be treated with equal respect and have equal opportunities.

Which after all, are not bad values, are they?

Staying curious about underlying Dutch values instead of jumping to assumptions does not take away the challenge, but it can open doors to a more pleasant and fulfilling communication and allow you to discover some hidden charms of Dutch culture.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Mini v Mini-er

I weep with pleasure, at the chance to share this.

What a video. Maybe I just missed this, and you have all seen it.

But I was pleased. I was particularly pleased when she made fun of the size of his...well, his car. But it was not terribly subtle. "....and he doesnt' even have a girlfriend." Well, no guy with a car THAT small could have a girlfriend, at least not after the first date.

(nod to Lance)