Archive for the 'WtF' Category

Don’t Know What to Say

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

All of our efforts in Iraq, military and civilian, are handicapped by Americans’ lack of language and cultural understanding. Our [Baghdad] embassy of 1,000 has 33 Arabic speakers, just six of whom are at the level of fluency. In a conflict that demands effective and efficient communication with Iraqis, we are often at a disadvantage. There are still far too few Arab language–proficient military and civilian officers in Iraq, to the detriment of the U.S. mission.

Iraq Study Group Report, p92 (emphasis added)

Six people in the embassy can speak the language. Six. I sure hope they’re all straight…

But the GAO also noted that nearly 800 dismissed gay or lesbian service members had critical abilities, including 300 with important language skills. Fifty-five were proficient in Arabic, including Copas, a graduate of the Defense Language Institute in California.

Army dismisses gay Arabic linguist, AP (via MSNBC, emphasis added)

Food Network, Perhaps?

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

Monday’s Romenesko carried this blurb on a Hollywood Reporter piece (sub. req.):

Fox News to air “Daily Show”-like program that leans right

…There’s a possibility that it could become a weekly Fox News show. “It’s a satirical news format that would play more to the Fox News audience than the Michael Moore channel,” says Joel Surnow, an executive producer of the unnamed show. “It would tip more right as ‘The Daily Show’ tips left.”

I think a Fox* News Channel version has the potential for tons of unintentional comedy, but conservatism doesn’t otherwise strike me as a barrel of laughs. The other head-scratcher for me is the reference to “the Michael Moore channel.” Does Mr. Surnow refer to Comedy Central? Would anyone, anywhere get that reference out of context? Sure wouldn’t be my first guess that was my only hint.

* Surnow might refer to them as the “We Gave O.J. $3 Million” network.

A Bush (Product) Endorsement?

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

I swear just a few seconds ago W said in his press conference “it’s tough when people see carnage on their Dell television screens.”

Dell? Really?

Update [16:24]: Well, that was fast! Glad to see that I’m not alone, at least Kevin has my back (damn, Google is quick.) But alas, the official White House transcript disagrees:

And it’s tough in a time of war when people see carnage on their television screens.

No endorsement of the (Texas-based) (Republican-run) computer maker there. But I fear that’s just another case of a White House staffer wilfully ignoring reality. [7sec MP3]

Creepy Much?

Monday, October 2nd, 2006

Imagine you’re in charge of the TSA‘s new “registered traveler” program. How would you market it? You’d want to walk a fine line between emphasizing security and sacrificing privacy. You might play up the time savings from providing the government key pieces of personal information, while working to soothe fears of a Big Brother-ish situation.

You might do those things. Or you could just find the creepiest “we take your fingerprints” image you could, slap that on your Web page and call it a day:

Isn’t That Sort of Implied?

Wednesday, July 12th, 2006

From a church a few blocks from me:
church sign with message: 'subject of today's sermon: God'

What a refreshing change for the parishoners!

I love how everyone gets so serious about being the “second” or whatever. Although of course the banks really get out of hand…

(Also, I came back home from the Fourth — and the reunion — to discover the source of my “borrowed” wireless had apparently moved out at the end of the month. So now my Internet usage is severely curtailed until I get something working…)

You Can’t Do It When You’re the Help

Wednesday, June 28th, 2006

There’s a Home Depot on one of the streets I walk pretty frequently, and there are signs on the exit doors that amuse and puzzle me:
Home Depot sign: if you use drugs, don't bother to apply

The signs are amusing because I find it hard to believe there are many jobs at Home Depot for which being stoned would be a huge impediment. How much of your faculties are really required to haul shit around, anyway?

Granted, I say that as someone who’s never been properly stoned, so let’s move on to the next point: why there? Why is it so important to have this message known that a huge, bold signs are placed on the exterior doors? Wouldn’t a message on the application itself be just as effective?

Also, is this just a Lincoln Park thing, or do they do this at every store? I could almost believe it was national more — seems more like a marketing message, then. (“Hey, shoppers — check out our zero tolerance!”)

In any event: curious.

Thanks, iDVD!

Saturday, May 6th, 2006

blank iDVD alert box

Now I feel alert. If I only knew why…

I Bid $1/Gallon!

Wednesday, April 26th, 2006

I was doing some searches related to the whole strategic petroleum issue on CNN yesterday, and got some unexpected results.

For the words Bush gasoline, CNN displayed the following:
eBay ad: Looking for bulk gasoline?

I love how it’s not just gas, it’s bulk gas. You really can get anything on eBay! (Or not.)

Grab Bag

Sunday, April 23rd, 2006

Well, here are a few random things I’ve come across in the past week or so that don’t individually merit their own posts, yet amuse me all the same.

Giant Banana Costume for sale
This is from SlickDeals. Good thing I saw it — you never know when you need a good banana costume. (And at that price, you should buy two!)

Google Payments terms fragment
This is from a TechCrunch article about Google Payments (coming soon.) It’s super small, but the last line reads “‘GOOGLE * BLING BLING’ will appear by the charge on your credit card.” I so hope that’s not the store name. I want Google to write that on customer bills…

Craigslist captcha image
This is a “captcha” thrown up by Craigslist when I posted an (item wanted) ad yesterday. Can you read the word? If so, your eyes are better than mine. I had to hit the audio hint to figure it out. (It’s “weedy.”)

article tools sponsored by WATER
Saw this one on the NYT yesterday. I was seriously confused by the concept of water sponsoring anything, much less a newspaper article. Had to click it to find out it’s a film (from the director of Earth and Fire — any guesses on her next title?)

New 'Legal' Performance Pill Hits Market
Finally, there’s nothing I “love” like misplaced quotation marks. Really inspires confidence in the legality of the product, doesn’t it? (Via Slate.)

You Don’t See That Everyday

Friday, April 21st, 2006

This afternoon I went for a walk in the park with Debs. As we walked, we noticed a big burly guy “walking” his dog by skating along behind the mutt on inline skates. Though I’ve always found that practice to be unwise, it’s not exactly uncommon. Still, what held our glance was the man’s decision to wear a scarf — an unusual choice given the warm weather (he was in shorts.)

As he came closer, we realized it wasn’t a scarf at all — it was a boa constrictor. Dude was blading around with a dog and a big fat freakin’ snake around his neck.

As if being on wheels when your dog spots a squirrel isn’t challenge enough?

Great Moments in Marquees

Wednesday, April 19th, 2006

You can’t tell me the fine folks at Loews weren’t having a bit of fun when they created this sign:

Also, funny story: about 30 seconds after I took this picture this afternoon, Dennis Farina walked by. Pretty sure. I didn’t take his snap because a) I’m not all starfucker and b) I’d already put the camera away.

Mostly b).

And I Thought Payday Loans Were Bad…

Tuesday, April 18th, 2006

I’ve been reading Ricardo Semler’s book Maverick in fits and starts, and yesterday on the train I settled down to get in a few pages. I think I surprised a few people with a quiet “holy shit!” when I hit this passage (p.240, emphasis added):

A new [Brazilian] president, Fernando Collor de Mello, assumed office and appointed a young economist, Zélia Cardoso de Mello (no relation to the president), as finance minister. She proceeded to test some new theories, including one that held that there was too much money in ciculation, that it belonged to too few people, and that they were doing too much speculating with it. Because of this, her theory went, not enough money was being invested in industry. This was generating inflation and stagnation.

So, she thought, let’s take some of that money and give it to the government (which doesn’t have enough, right?). On a sunny spring day in 1990 she went on television to declare a bank holiday and seize 80 percent of the cash in the country. The government laid hold of savings accounts, checking accounts, certificates of deposit, company funds, the works. Every Brazilian, no matter what his assets, was left with $800 or 20 percent of his holdings, whichever was less. If someone had, say, $1,000 in a checking account, he now could spend $200. The lady said she’d give the money back, corrected for inflation by an official index, in twelve monthly installments, starting in a year and a half.

Chaos doesn’t being to describe the reaction.

Wikipedia says Brazil had inflation “exceeding 2,700% in the period of 1989 to 1990.”

Sex Sells (Mortgages?)

Sunday, April 9th, 2006

Last year, I saw an ad using a (hairy) shirtless man to sell mortgages to gay men.

Last night, I saw this banner ad using a similar approach for het men (imagine it in Flash, with the chick dancing around):
Girl with headphones in bikini top; list of states along right edge

My question: is this the most effective appeal they could create? What was the thinking: “Hey look, it’s a dancing girl in a bikini top — that’ll attract the re-fi market!”

(Don’t) Picture This

Friday, April 7th, 2006

On Thursday, I was awakened by a noise so loud I immediately slid out of bed to investigate. As soon as I parted the blinds, I knew whatever had happened was just across the street, a fact confirmed by the subsequent arrival of members of the fire and police departments. Intrigued, I grabbed my camera and went to see what the fuss was about.

As I strolled closer, it soon became clear that a car had hit one of the shops. The damage was extensive, mangling the front door and knocking over bricks. I raised my camera to my eye to get a shot (mostly to assist in telling my brother the story later.) Just then, a uniformed store employee spotted my camera and jumped in front of me, waving his arms and shouting “No pictures!” I cocked my head at him and said “Oh? And why is that?” Then I stepped around him to take a few frames, including this one (the employee is not shown):
damaged storefront with policeman and firefighters

What I find most interesting about this event is not the photo and not even the crash, but that man’s instinct. Why did he think it was necessary to try to stop a member of the public from taking photographs? Why did he think he had the right to do so? Was it just an overzealous response by an amped-up hourly worker eager to do something? Did he think I was media? What was he afraid of?

I have to say, my view is that when it comes to crime, the more eyes the better.

My New Favorite Search Engine

Thursday, March 16th, 2006

Remember my Big Print Bank idea? I’ve just learned there’s big print search at, appropriately enough,

And they mean big. Check out the search button:
green circle labeled 'Search'

I’ve only just heard of it, but I have to give it, well, big props because right now a search for “jsp” gives you me as the first result: search capture
Shown at 40% size.

That’s huge!