Archive for October, 2011

USPS’ selling of addresses a privacy concern?

Some days, after a short walk to the mailbox, it seems junk mail is the only thing keeping the United States Postal Service in business.

What do you get when you cross a mailbox with a slot machine?

What do you get when you cross a mailbox with a slot machine?

For years, the cash-strapped agency has provided the addresses of customers to direct-mail marketers, an apparent violation of the federal Privacy Act.

An excellent article in The Washington Times says the USPS privacy policy states: “If you have provided personal information to register or purchase a product or service, we will not use that information to contact you about another product or service unless you have provided express consent.”

Yet, anyone who has ever filled out an official change-of-address form with the post office receives an official-looking change-of-address confirmation letter with the words “verification required” on it, but the envelope is mostly stuffed with ads and coupons.

The Times says it is unclear how anyone who changes their address can opt out of …

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Olive Garden apologizes for not allowing U.S. flag

Olive Garden is apologizing for refusing to allow an 80-year-old Kiwanis Club member to display the U.S. flag at an Alabama restaurant.

The City of Oxford website.

The City of Oxford website.

The Kiwanis Club in the east Alabama city of Oxford had planned a banquet, but Marti Warren, of Anniston, said she wasn’t allowed to bring the flag or a banner into the building.

Warren, in a Fox News interview, said, “This is not my country. This is not my country I grew up with.”

Warren, a former educator, told Fox she was outraged. “I was so angry. I felt like I had been slapped in the face.”

Oxford is located 90 miles west of Atlanta on I-20.

Management at the restaurant refused to answer questions concerning the incident, such as the size of the flag.

A media contact would not answer specific questions either, but did issue an apology via email.

“We are very sorry for any misunderstanding about this issue. We do not have a policy at Olive Garden concerning bringing the American flag into our restaurants. Some …

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Serial school pooper arrested

One of Florida’s greatest crime mysteries has been solved, Ocala police say, with the arrest of the infamous “serial pooper” of Ft. King Middle School.

It doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to figure out what this guy is up to.

It doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to figure out what this guy is up to.

The Gainesville Sun reports Kenneth Martin Sarsony, 23, was arrested for allegedly defecating at least five times in front of a door at the school since early September.

Police used surveillance video to wipe the school crime log clean.

I’m no Matlock, but it may have been easier for detectives to just arrest the guy walking down the street toting a roll of toilet paper.

Police received two calls from the public identifying Sarsony in the video.

Sarsony, arrested at work, said he was defecating at the school because he was in “bad spirits” and “needed help.”

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Man dared to eat slugs gets rat lungworm parasite

Danger lurks around every dare, a fact easily forgotten when young.

The impulse to immediately swallow such a delicious morsel must be weighed against the risk of worms devouring your brain.

The impulse to immediately swallow such a delicious morsel must be weighed against the risk of worms devouring your brain. (Image from TheGardenHelper.com)

A 21-year-old Australian will likely be more cautious after accepting a dare to swallow garden slugs infested with rat lungworms and spending a month in intensive care.

The parasites, found in uncooked snails and contaminated water and even vegetables, invade the central nervous system and cause a form of meningitis, a serious condition that can lead to death or permanent brain damage. Hawaii had a spate of infections from veggies in 2009.

The unidentified Sydney man is expected to recover, and will surely start cooking his food, The Telegraph reports.

Monsters Inside Me, an Animal Planet TV show that will make you burn your passport, calls the rat lungworm “one of the most feared parasites on the planet.”

The lifecycle of the rat lungworm is so gross it …

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19 hospitalized in Walmart bleach fight

A desire to live a clean life went horribly awry in the bleach and disinfectant aisle of a Maryland Walmart this weekend.

This farm animal wisely walked past the aisle containing chemicals and furious shoppers.

This farm animal wisely walked past the aisle containing chemicals and furious shoppers.

Nineteen people received medical treatment at hospitals, including three store employees, after two women got into an argument and began slinging toxic liquids. One person sustained a serious eye injury.

The store in Baltimore County had to be evacuated Saturday due to toxic fumes, ABC News reports.

Facing charges of first-degree assault, second-degree assault, theft under $100 and malicious destruction of property is Theresa Monique Jefferson, 33. I assume the theft charge comes from wasting gallons of Clorox Stain Fighter With Color Booster.

She’s being held on a whopping $350,000 bond.

The Associated Press reports Jefferson followed her victim — a woman who is currently the girlfriend of the father of Jefferson’s child — into the store and initiated the …

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Government turns to prisoners for cheap labor

The road to riches is paved with cheap labor. (See: China) And you don’t get much cheaper than prisoners.

A skilled onion picker can earn $10 an hour.

A skilled onion picker can earn $10 an hour.

Recently, the state of Georgia announced a plan to use prisoners to harvest crops. Why? A new law pretty much ran off Hispanic field hands.

As federal employees celebrate Columbus, perhaps history’s most famous and geographically confused immigrant, the lack of onion pickers in Vidalia brings crocodile tears to the eyes.

The prisoner farm plan comes after a failed scheme to seduce probationers into doing the dirty work.

Now, a Georgia county is planning to use inmates to man fire stations.

A properly trained firefighter costs upwards of $30,000 a year. An inmate will work a lot cheaper – Camden County hopes to save $500,000 a year.

Of course, when my flaming roof is about to collapse, I’d prefer a guy to show up with an ax that knows how to use it for its law-abiding purpose.

Georgia isn’t the only place giving jobs to the …

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Capitalist creates fake Occupy Wall Street website

The “invisible hand” of capitalism may be showing Occupy Wall Street protesters its middle finger.

occupyparty

NPR reports a “Seemingly Bogus Website Uses ‘Occupy Party’ Name To Sell Ads,” which isn’t sitting well with the anti-bank crowd.

The professional-looking site sports a patriotic blue theme, a picture of the U.S. Constitution and pictures of a smiling, good-looking group of non-radicals waving U.S. flags.

But the site has nothing to do with the nascent youth-inspired movement, and the domain — occupyparty.org — was registered from Australia.

A single video on the site shows a lively Wall Street protest. Other links simply refresh the single-page site.

But there are a few Google ads. I bet someone has already made more than $1 off this charade!

The real Occupy Wall Street site, under a “This Site Has Nothing To Do With Us,” simply says “We are not a political institution.”

Not yet, anyway.

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Church tweets protest of Steve Jobs funeral via iPhone

After the death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, the #iSad hashtag is trending on Twitter.twitter-phelps

Westboro Baptist Church, a group that has forsaken human decency in the name of headlines, announced Wednesday night, in a tweet sent via #iPhone, a planned protest of the iPhone creator’s funeral.

Perhaps an #iRony hashtag would be appropriate?

Why protest Jobs?

Religious leader Margie J. Phelps, in responding to an Associated Press headline on Twitter concerning Jobs’ death, said the group would picket the funeral because Jobs had “a huge platform; gave God no glory and taught sin.”

Phelps, a lawyer and daughter of Westboro’s founder, Fred Phelps Sr., argued successfully before the Supreme Court that the thankfully tiny church had the First Amendment right to stage anti-gay and anti-war protests at the funerals of celebrities and U.S. soldiers.

Westboro’s leaders have been here before. In 2010 the group picketed Twitter’s offices in San Francisco. They tweeted about it, of …

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None too Zune? Microsoft announces death of MP3 player

With all the commotion today about the iPhone 4S, few have noticed the death of the Zune, Microsoft’s one-time challenger to Apple’s ubiquitous line of iPods.

Marketing as irony.

Marketing as irony.

Microsoft quietly pulled all mention of the Zune from its website and announced today it would no longer make the portable digital music players.

I will be flamed for this, but I rather liked my 8gb Zune. Why? It had an FM radio and I could listen to sports announcers while attending games. Also, the wireless sync feature was very neat … simply change the tunes in a desktop folder and the Zune in your car would change what songs were available on the go. And, the Zune didn’t require me to use iTunes.

But times change, Apple is rumored to be pulling the plug on the iPod Classic and tiny Shuffle.

“Zune services” will continue, largely on phones using the Windows Mobile platform, writes The Huffington Post.

Those “Zune Services” include the Zune Software suite, which is a media manager for the Zune and …

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Obama’s likeness used to sell fried chicken in China

While President Barack Obama seeks the secret recipe for U.S. economic growth, a fast-food restaurant in China is inferring he’s already privy to Colonel Sanders’ secret for fried chicken.

The long arm of trademark law does not reach to China, apparently.

The short arm of trademark law.

The Daily Mail and other media outlets report Obama Fried Chicken is using advertising very similar to that used by KFC, aka known as Kentucky Fried Chicken before the word “fried” became a marketing pariah.

The Beijing business sign allegedly contains the phrase ‘We’re so cool, aren’t we?’ in Chinese, but Google translate cannot confirm that for me.

The restaurant’s name may be a way for restaurateurs to decry a tariff on U.S. chicken exports that, according to the New York Times, forces importers in China to pay twice as much per bird.

The restaurant’s sign was first spotted by TheShanghaiist.com.

Mediaite.com writes that using Obama’s likeness to sell fried chicken could be considered “unacceptably racist,” but this isn’t the first time such a thing has …

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