Sunday, October 11, 2009

Horrific headlines

From one of our stringers comes this compendium of horrific headlines. As ever, we cannot vouch for their authenticity, but we find them humorous enough to share in hopes that the educated reader will find amusement in their grammatical ambiguity.

Please to enjoy:

Man Kills Self Before Shooting Wife and Daughter

Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says

Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers

Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over

Miners Refuse to Work after Death

Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant

War Dims Hope for Peace

If Strike Isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile

Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures

Enfield ( London ) Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide

Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges

Man Struck By Lightning: Faces Battery Charge

New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group

Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft

Kids Make Nutritious Snacks

Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half

Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors

Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead

Thursday, October 8, 2009

All right already...

The Chicagoland Chevy Dealers have done it again!

But this time it isn't the lowest prices of the year, or zero percent financing, or anything that's going to predispose us to buy a Chevy.

For that matter, there's sore little that would predispose us to buy a Chevy. Their most recent grammatical faux pas, though, will certainly keep us from considering buying a Chevy for some time to come.

"Alright, Chicagoland" read the titles on a recent television ad.

Never mind our distaste for "Chicagoland," a made-up word whose very existence has bothered us since we were in elementary school.

Our distaste for the abuse "alright" instead of "all right" will keep us considering German, Swedish, Japanese, and even Korean cars for some time to come.

Maybe even Italian, as our sons have a sudden and disturbing fascination with Lamborghinis.

But not American. Not as long as the quality of their grammar reflects on our perception of the quality of their cars.

We toss the idiot flag at them today.

All right?

Educational Double talk and Double Standard

We had cocktails with some old friends earlier this week and, as we are inclined to do from time to time, called them out on a bit of double talk and double standard on the issue of education and whether it qualifies one for elective office.

Never mind that it's our longstanding opinion -- underscored by the plethora of putative candidates soliciting our signatures on their petitions at the train platform every morning -- that anyone who seeks elective office should be expressly forbidden from attaining it. "There are problems that nobody has been able to solve for years...maybe generations!" they appear to be thinking. "That's because they haven't let ME take a crack at them yet!"


The friends in question -- liberal Democrats both -- were carrying on about Sarah Palin, what an "idiot" she is and how she couldn't possibly be qualified to hold high office.

[We posted a bit to Facebook about this. We're no apologist for Sarah Palin, whom we think to be more than a little bit too right wing for our tastes, but we note that simply because one's deeply held convictions are at odds with someone else's deeply held convictions doesn't make either an just means that the parties in question disagree.]

We couldn't help noting that Palin had spent six years as chief executive of an admittedly small city, and that she had also spent two years as chief executive of a very large (at least from a geographic standpoint) state. One could argue that she is better qualified to be President than the President himself, who, while admirable for a variety of qualities, had been Senator for only two years, and had been chief execututive of exactly nothing prior to his election.

[Further disclosure...despite our affiliation with the GOP, we voted for Obama in the last election.]

"Oh, but wait...Obama DID go to Columbia and Harvard Law...that has to count for something!" my companions protested.

We couldn't help pointing out that President George W. Bush -- whom they decried as an "idiot" because his deeply held convictions conflicted with theirs -- graduated from Yale undergrad and Harvard Business School. Those stack up nicely to Obama's attendance at Occidental, and subsequent degrees at Columbia and Harvard Law.

Unless you disagree with him, of course. Ivy league education justifies Obama. But not W.

Double speak. Double standard. Intellectual dishonesty at work.

PS -- Let's call the Harvard degrees a push. We'll take Yale over Columbia any day. Even in football.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Great signs (even if they aren't real)

One of our correspondents and occasional commenters to Idiotflags sends these signs, ostensibly spotted in real life. We can't vouch for their authenticity; we can vouch for their wit:

Sign over a Gynecologist's Office:

"Dr. Jones, at your cervix."


In a Podiatrist's office:

"Time wounds all heels." (read it again )


On a Septic Tank Truck:

Yesterday's Meals on Wheels


At a Proctologist's door:

"To expedite your visit, please back in. "


On a Plumber's truck:

"We repair what your husband fixed."


On another Plumber's truck:

"Don't sleep with a drip. Call your plumber."


On a Church's Bill board:

"7 days without God makes one weak."


At a Tire Shop in Milwaukee :

"Invite us to your next blowout."


At a Towing company:

"We don't charge an arm and a leg. We want tows."


On an Electrician's truck:

"Let us remove your shorts."

******** ******************

In a Non-smoking Area:

"If we see smoke, we will assume you are on fire and take appropriate action."


On a Maternity Room door:

"Push. Push. Push."


At an Optometrist's Office:

"If you don't see what you're looking for, you've come to the right place."


On a Taxidermist's window:

"We really know our stuff."


On a Fence:

"Salesmen welcome! Dog food is expensive!"


At a Car Dealership:

"The best way to get back on your feet - miss a car payment."


Outside a Muffler Shop:

"No appointment necessary. We hear you coming."


In a Veterinarian's waiting room:

"Be back in 5 minutes. Sit! Stay!"


At the Electric Company

"We would be delighted if you send in your payment.

However, if you don't, you will be."


In a Restaurant window:

"Don't stand there and be hungry; come on in and get fed up."


In the front yard of a Funeral Home:

"Drive carefully. We'll wait."


At a Propane Filling Station:

"Thank heaven for little grills."


And don't forget the sign at a


"Best place in town to take a leak."


Sign on the back of another Septic Tank Truck:

"Caution - This Truck is full of Political Promises"

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dropping the F-bomb at Shaker High

Our high school alma mater, Shaker Heights High School, is in the news this week.

Historically, reporters have extolled the quality of the public education that the school offers, the diversity of its student body, and the number of National Merit Scholars that it produces.

Not this time.

Turns out a student found a way to hide a lowbrow, obscene message in this year’s yearbook cover. Dropped in the f-bomb. Details are here.

I suppose we ought to be surprised and horrified, but we are neither, as we are big fans of the time-honored traditions of senior pranks and creative rebellion.

Nor is this the first time that a tasteless – if humorous message – was hidden in a yearbook. One of our college roommates attended Dwight Englewood School in Bergen County, NJ, and managed to work the code “EM/des” (“eat me Dwight Englewood School”) into the footer of the typewritten letter of congratulations from the headmaster in their 1980 yearbook.

Creative people have, for years, been hiding little surprises for those who are willing to look closely. Our father notes with delight and reverence the advertising art director who managed to, in the frilly border of a Butterball Turkey print ad, hide an illustration of Mickey and Minnie Mouse enjoying pleasures of the flesh. You couldn’t see it without a magnifying glass, but boy oh boy was it funny if you knew it was there.

At least to everyone except the client, who to our knowledge never discovered it.

Our hat is off to the student who had the creativity to install the message, the ingenuity to hide it pretty carefully, and even had the good taste to feign horror and apologize.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Bail out or bail out?

Today's Financial Times email blast writes:

"Warburg Pincus bales out of Huiyuan Juice" (complete story here).

"Aha!" we think. We have caught the British orange lady in an egregious typo that has gone careening electronically around the world.

"Not so fast!" we advise those of you who share our sense of schadenfreude at the notion that someone with one of those smart sounding accents might make a big, public mistake.

A "bale" is a large bundle of something, as in a "bale" of hay. "Bail" is what we do when the bottom of the boat is filling with water and we use a bucket to empty it out.

What of the emergency escape from an airplane, which is what Warburg is doing (metaphorically) in the Huiyuan deal? Some would argue "bail" (metaphorically getting something out of the boat), some "bale" (as what's being ejected from the metaphorical boat is a big load of something).

None other than the Oxford English Dictionary provides a definitive ruling. Our American-ness wants us to rely upon something less British, however our snobbishness finds the OED sufficiently appealing that we have to give it the final word...which is that either "bail" or "bale" is appropriate.

Regardless, what the Obama administration is doing in the guise of taking credit for the natural cyclicality of markets and nudging us towards European socialism is unequivocally a "bail out."

Let's hope it works, then "bail/bale" out of this approach to one that's more market-based.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Buzzword Bingo and a Memo That Came -- Seriously

Remember the "buzzword bingo" game that you used to play in meetings? The one where you got points if someone said "stake in the ground" or "win-win" or any one of myriad other abused business phrases?

Get a load of this email we received. We offer it for your entertainment. It was sent without humorous intention, and would be uproariously funny if it weren't so sad. We offer it unedited -- but italicized and appended in [brackets]-- for your enjoyment:
For context, our work and vision is focused on radically improving the end-to-end enterprise software and product development throughput / quality challenge [Here at the end of this sentence we are no closer to an understanding of what these people do than we were at the beginning; they appear to be speaking a foreign tongue]. I’ll leave the sales pitch out [thank goodness, one wonders how unintelligible THAT would be], but know that our latest data shows a typical 40-50% overall throughput improvement (after the application of Lean-Agile practices) and more importantly, a dramatic improvement to economic and operational returns based on substantially better business outcomes driven by a different approach to software development alignment [We are awash in a sea of prepositional gibberish]. When we meet we will walk you through our Lean-Agile execution / operating models and how they lead to these kinds of sustainable outcomes.

I suspect this subject [We're two paragraphs in and have no sense of what the subject even IS] is likely of some interest, so let me know if your schedule permits a brief visit.
[We're inclined to print out our card and accept the meeting...but only for the sheer delight of shouting "bingo" midway through it.]
Puh-lease. Not all of us are ponderous IT consultants. Speak English. The simple kind that even we laypeople understand. For everyone's sake...and especially that of your bottom line.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Fans of diplomacy with rogue nations...

...should take a close look at the excellent progress that the UN and others are making with North Korea and Iran.

In the last twenty four hours, North Korea has conducted an underground nuclear test, and Iran has rejected a proposal to limit its nuclear development and has ruled out any talks with major global powers on the issue.

When the world is forced to face the horrifying decision as to whether it continues to negotiate or whether it takes military actions against lunatics in search of weapons of mass destruction, let's keep in mind just how useful negotiating with an unwilling party is.

It's not a negotiation. It's a waste of time. We act earnestly while they laugh and proceed with their plans to develop nuclear weapons.

For a tongue in cheek reminder of how diplomacy requires two parties that want the same outcome, we offer this funny-but-too-realistic bit from Team America World Police. For thoughts on how laughable the world's response has been so far, we offer this commentary from Andy Borowitz.

What will the world do? Write an angry letter or shout strong adjectives?

Hmmm. Perhaps we should actually do something that says we're serious?

Let's give peace a chance by all means...but remember Teddy Roosevelt's advice to speak softly...and carry a big stick.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


From today's Indy 500 telecast:

"He's calm, cool, and collective."


Magic Johnson's English

We acknowledge that he is a miracle of science -- that his HIV has not progressed, that he has stayed healthy, and that it's a wonder that he can be in the spotlight.

That doesn't mean he has to.

It's not that we don't respect his basketball acumen. It's that we loathe his pronunciation.

We recall with disgust how he had been hired as a color man (no racist comments, please -- it's what they call it in television) to cover one of the Bulls' championship runs back in the day, and how we would race for the mute button whenever he flapped his trap.

The quality of Magic's commentary, to the extent that it was intelligible, was overshadowed by his inability to speak the language what with dropped consonants, mispronunciations, and general abuse of English. The memory of Magic's commentary made gloomy Bill Walton, whose pessimism rivals ours, a welcome addition to the broadcast team. We laud whichever network was covering the NBA that saw fit to muzzle Magic all those years ago.

Now he's back butchering the language on ESPN, and it's making us nuts again.

We can't abide hearing him say "frow" or "thow" one more time.

Would someone please axe him to shut up?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

More adspeak -- the old "we have the best people" positioning

From the department of "we can't believe someone actually said this and meant it:"

On a conference call today, the President of a well-known New York agency showed "creative" work for an investment management company. It took the hackneyed "we have the best people" approach to selling its wares.

Never mind that the investment manager in question is in Montpelier, VT, and consequently probably doesn't really have the best people.

Never mind that, in our opinion, there's a pretty damn efficient market for intellectual capital and as a result the two companies that offer the best earning power -- McKinsey and Goldman Sachs -- are the only ones who really do have the best people.

Never mind that whenever a company doesn't have something substantive to say about its business model it usually claims -- desperately, hopefully, but falsely -- to have the best people.

What made his comment so worthy of today's idiot flag was how he defended it:

"Even though the idea of people isn't different, the people themselves are."

Aha! Where do we send our money?!

Monday, May 18, 2009

A real traffic stopper

We recall with sadness when the announcements on the "el" in Chicago told us that the next stop was the "Harold Washington Libary."

Much as we found that amusing and ironic, we also found it wildly incorrect and inappropriate, and we were mighty glad when it was corrected (without admission of wrongdoing, as is traditional in most politics these days).

We were on 90/94 this morning and nearly spit our coffee on to our freshly pressed shirt when we drove under a sign that kidding..."Seat belts saves lives."

Your tax dollars at work.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Target, everyday, and every day

Who'd have thought Target would earn a place next to the Wall Street Journal as someone who gets it right?

Oh, we know, they're cheap chic and all (we've been spending a ton of dough there ever since the little ones were in diapers), but that's not what we're celebrating.

"Everyday" and "every day." Tareget used them both correctly, in a single ad, no less (surprising as advertising copywriting is typically the domain of the grammatical imbeciles).

We are ashamed to admit that we read it in today's Chicago Tribune, as we are ashamed to admit that we read today's Chicago Tribune. It's like a newspaper, only different.

"Everyday" is an adjective. It would be used correctly in a sentence like this: "We have everyday low prices," or "The everyday drudgery of finding fault with the world is causing us ennui." It is something that is ongoing or typical.

"Every day" describes something that happens...well...every day, e.g., "We have low prices every day" or "Every day, I find something that annoys me."

So we'll laud Target for their intelligence, both in the merchandising of their stores and their honorable use of the English language.

And we'll keep shopping there. But not every day...

The WSJ, Angels and Demons, and the literati

This from one of our correspondents who suggests the quote below, from the exceptionally well-written Wall Street Journal (n.b. you don't have to agree with its politics to agree that its prose is typically exceptional and often mighty clever) deserves a "reverse idiot flag:"

"Angels and Demons," which draws a sharp historical distinction between the Illuminati (bad) and the Catholic church's Preferiti (good) may leave you feeling like a member of the Stupefiti...

Three cheers from the literati!

P.S. We're still trying to make it through The DaVinci Code with our eyes open...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Apostrophes and Ss

We saw it this quote -- and others like it -- on Facebook enough times today that it prompted us to comment. The offending usage: "I hope all of you mother's (sic) out there have a great day."

Apparently many of you skipped grammar school or have overactive pinkies on your right hands.

Let's go over this one more time. There are two important correct uses for the apostrophe...and one far-too-common abuse, at which we cast today's idiot flag.

First, it is used to indicate a possessive. For example, this is my mother's favorite cake. This is my father's sports car. I am wearing my sister's underwear. Each of these demonstrates the grammatically correct use of the apostrophe to indicate the possessive.

Second, it is used in a contraction to indicate that something is missing. For example, "I can not abide the misuse of punctuation" can be contracted to "I can't abide the misuse of punctuation." The little apostrophe shows that "can not" has been shortened to "can't."

Is this all coming back?

The abuse makes us want to toss our Mother's Day cookies. For some reason that escapes us, some butchers of the mother tongue continue to use an apostrophe and an "s" when the latter will suffice. Thus, the disdain for the quote above: "All you mother's out there."

All you mother's what? It's a plural. No apostrophe necessary for a plural. Just add the damn "s."


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Specter, Graham, RINOs, and the sweet spot that's just right of center

It's old news, but we read a great bit of insight into how our GOP is blowing itself up with its purging of those who disagree.

Lindsey Graham, GOP stalwart for 100 or so years, upon learning of Arlen Specter's defection to the light side (and we mean that in terms of gravity and gravitas, not photons) opined "If we pursue a party that has no place for someone who agrees with me 70 percent of the time...then we are going to keep losing."

Until the GOP stops pandering to its lunatic fringe and realizes that its arch conservative silliness is off-putting to the majority of Americans, we'll have no one to blame but ourselves for the Democrat majority in the House and Senate and their ownership of the White House.

When will pols realize that just right of dead center is where the sweet spot for the country lies?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Interested in interest? Schwab pays 100x what Chase does...

Like your bank?

We didn't, so we changed, and while it's rare that we'll endorse a product, when doing so gives us a chance to sh-tcan someone else's idiocy, we'll gladly do so.

Our JPMorgan Chase savings statement arrived today. It carried this footnote: "You earned a higher interest rate on your Chase Money Market Savings account during this statement period because you had a qualifying Chase Better Banking Checking Account."

We chuckled when we noted that the "higher" interest rate was...wait for it...two basis points. For those of you unfamiliar with a basis point, it's one percent of one percent. Chase is borrowing our money at two hundredths of a percent.

It's so little that Chase trying to sell this to us as a benefit would be perfectly laughable ... if it weren't so insulting. Who's their marketing head? How stupid do they think we all are?

We're close enough to the financial markets to know that money market rates are in the tank, and we won't bother you with the monetary policy shifts that have led to this.

We will, though, note two things. First, that we took most of our business away from Chase recently. While we're no Bill Gates, it was enough that we'd think they'd notice, and nobody in the bank so much as called, emailed or sent a smoke signal to ask if there was a problem.

There was a problem, and it's this. Schwab's bank pays exactly one hundred times what Chase does in interest on both its checking and savings accounts.

Yep. You read right. On checking, Chase pays 0.01%, Schwab pays 1.00%. On savings, Chase pays 0.02%, Schwab pays 2.00%.

Schwab's banking products still have a few bugs in them. You can't transfer funds online. You have to have two debit cards. But for 100x more interest -- especially during spare economic times -- we'll suffer a little.

Oh yeah, Schwab's client service people are based in the US, speak good English, are courteous and professional...and Schwab reimburses all ATM fees.

Got your interest now?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Find a good profreader (er, PROOFreader)

It's a lost art.

In these days of emoticons, texting, abbreviations, and lack of capitalization (e e cummings rolls in his grave), the art of proofreading is underappreciated and dying.

We send you to this link for a sad, sad example.


Use your spelcheck (er, spellcheck), people.

Tip of the cap to TG for the original posting.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Pay the big people, screw the little people

Decorum prohibits us from naming them, but a certain mid-Atlantic investment firm's management team should be ashamed of themselves.

On Tuesday, the firm, once known for its outstanding performance and its collegial, almost familial environment, laid off nearly 300 employees. This isn’t, in and of itself, surprising, as many companies have had to reduce workforce by about 10 percent due to the current economic environment. It probably is in the best long-term interests of its shareholders.

Consider, though, that the firm did this after paying over $25 million in bonuses and stock options to its top five executives (as reported in their most recent proxy statement). This in spite of a 20+ percent drop in earnings per share, a 30+ percent drop in assets under management, and a 40+ percent drop in the firm’s stock price.

The firm’s flagship fund – run by its Chairman and Chief Invetment Officer, who was paid $6.5 million in salary, bonus, and stock options -- is down 40+ percent in the past year, and its compound returns are negative for one, three and five years.

Certainly, most of these results are a consequence of market factors that are beyond management’s control. However, management team exceptionally well compensated for the firm’s performance when they enjoyed the benefits of a bull market.

That they would continue to pay themselves millions and fire their loyal colleagues during a bear market when the company is performing poorly is disappointing beyond words.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

There once was a man...who longed for a simpler time

At the end of the day I'll confess
That this socialist stuff is a mess
How I long for the years
When our worst beltway fears
Were how Bill Clinton stained the blue dress.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Axing about asterixes

We visited with one of our most edjumacated friends recently and were surprised, nay, horrified to hear said friend refer to the little star thingy that sits atop the number eight on a standard QWERTY keyboard as an "asterix."

It is, of course, an "asterisk," and the word is pronounced not with an "ix" sound at the end, but with an "isk" sound. Correctly pronounced, that is.

Since then, we've taken note of a variety of "isks" being pronounced as "ixes," and we wonder what the heck is going on here.

We have heard a friend talk about Houdini as an excape artist. He can't excape the notion that it's pronounced "escape," just like it's spelled.

How about another grim misuse, the full pronunciation of the Latin et cetera (often abbreviated "etc.") mangled as "excetera?"

Another blow stricken for illiteracy and idiocy. We axe you, doesn't this deserve today's idiot flag?

Er, ask, that is.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Pissed about POTUS?

A few years ago, one William Jefferson Clinton was invited to give the commencement speech at our alma mater.

Never mind that the University traditionally didn't even have a commencement speaker. The University was appropriately grateful for the presence of the duly elected President of the United States, the leader of the free world, the commander-in-chief, and the primary perjurer. They changed their schedule to accommodate him. It was the right thing to do.

Our personal distaste for President Clampett notwithstanding, we defended his presence and his receipt of an honorary doctorate (presumably of gynecology) vehemently. He won the election fair and square, and our dislike of the man and his policies notwithstanding, he was the major domo and consequently had earned and deserved our respect.

We digress to remind the crowd that just because you disagreed with W didn't make him dumb or you smart. He, too, was the twice duly elected POTUS, and while he lacked humility and intellectual curiosity, we suggest that his Yale undergrad and Harvard Business School degrees, along with his business success (admittedly catalyzed by grandpa's oil dough) acquit him of the allegations of stupidity. Please people.

In fact, we refer you to F. Scott Fitzgerald's thoughs on intelligence, to wit: "The test of a first rate intellect is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in one's mind and still retain the ability to function."

Can it really be that The University of Notre Dame -- whose mission statement represents it as "a place of teaching and research, of scholarship and publication, of service and community," is having second thoughts about having the celebrity President speak at their commencement because of his views on abortion rights?

Is the University community really so small minded that, his academic and political qualifications notwithstanding, it will object so vehemently to one of his thoughts that it would consider telling him "no thank you?"

It's not like he's going to give a speech to try to change people's minds on that topic. He's more likely to offer platitudes on growing up and making the world a better place -- platitudes, incidentally, that the undergrads and grads might benefit from hearing.

Isn't censorship supposed to be the practice of the closed minded conservatives? Can it really be consistent with the values of an institution committed to academic inquiry?

We live in the midwest, so we know that ND is more than the lunkheads who play for Charlie Weis on the gridiron.

Isn't it?

Thought police ban ILVTOFU license plate

Vegan Kelley Coffman-Lee has a legitimate beef -- so to speak -- with the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles.

Ms. Coffman-Lee is your almost typical caricature of a Colorado-living, hyphenated-name-having, feminist-and-liberal-bumper-sticker-sporting, wanting-to-tell-everyone-else-how-she-can-live-your-life-better-than-you, vegetarian-soccer-mom.

She's upset that the DMV won't let her sport a vanity license plate of her liking, specifically ILVTOFU.

If you don't believe me, have a look at the CNN video, although in fairness we don't know what sport she has her legging-and-boot-wearing daughter playing.

We're only surprised that she doesn't drive a Prius, or maybe a Subaru Outback.

Since it is our self-appointed duty to cast penalty flags on idiocy, we'd like to point out an important irony here.

Ms. Coffman-Lee is upset -- appropriately -- that the DMV rejected her application because of the alternate meaning that one could interpret from ILVTOFU. Big brother thought that could offend someone's sense of decency.

We have to admit that we see her side of things.

Now let's juxtapose their decision with her (scarcely surprising) comment that "I believe more people should adopt a vegetarian lifestyle."

Apparently, it's ok for her to tell other people what to think and how to live, but not for the CO DMV.

As for us, though, we think that anyone who says that they LVTOFU should be entitled to tell the world. One can enjoy TOFU in a wide variety of ways, and we applaud anyone's decision to do so as often as possible, and with as much enthusiasm as they can bring to the table.

Coming next: our thoughts on The University of Notre Dame and the preposterous controversy about Barack Obama -- the leader of the free world and the duly elected President of these Great United States -- agreeing to speak at their graduation. Suffice it to say that ND is revealing itself as the football powerhouse that it is...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

More on (moron?) agencies -- the worlds funniest IT policy

This one left us with damp trousers.

A major international agency who shall go nameless published IT guidelines not long ago.

Our correspondent, who shall also remain anonymous, had this to say: "It isn't so much bad grammar and usage as a generalized inability to make sense. I'm sure I am the only person who read it, which is a shame because it's marvelous in its way."

Let's make sure a lot of us read it now.

We invite you to revel in these gems from a major global firm, one of whose ostensible skills is the ability to communicate clearly and unambiguously.

The policy is in italics, our correspondent's keen observations are in standar type:

“Throughout the Agency network, streaming of music is not allowed. Streaming of music includes but is not limited to iTunes, Real Player and Music Match.”

The company puts a copy of iTunes on every computer they issue to employees. Apparently, you’re just not supposed to download anything.

“Listen to personal copyright music and/or DVD’s as long as the files and/or data on those CD’s or DVD’s are not transferred to any Agency computer resource;”

So you’re not only to avoid downloading anything with the copy of iTunes the company gives you, you’re also not supposed to load in your own music. I guess they hand out copies of iTunes so their employees look “with it.” They probably try to entrap people with that “Meet Your Fellow Employee” profile question, “What’s on your iTunes?”

“DON’T: Eat or drink around the keyboard or computer.”

Of course, people in an advertising agency consume breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and coffee with one hand on the keyboard. As I’m sure they do in the White House and Google’s server farm and everywhere else people use computers except maybe missile silos.

“The use of flash devices (also called removable media) may only be used with the express permission of both the IT Manager and the CFO.”

Both, okay? I pointed this rule out to the CFO, and he looked frightened and shouted, “You have my permission!! You have my permission!!”

Then there’s this helpful description of what email is for:

“The e-mail system, like the phone system, helps with communications both internally (i.e., with Agency employees) and externally (i.e., with clients, vendors and media).”

I was pretty sure it was to help with communication. I’m glad to know for certain.

And to finally get some clarification on which people are internal and which are external. And there are some special people to avoid harassing:

[Don’t] “Initiate or forward Harassing, pornographic or indecent messages as they are prohibited. (This includes but is not limited to initiating or forwarding to agency or non-agency individuals)”

At first, “includes but is not limited to” agency or non-agency individuals seems to mean that it includes a third group, people who are neither with the agency nor not with the agency. They live in other quantum states that we can’t see, but can forward emails to.

When you keep working on it, though, you see that the “or” means you may be allowed to send indecent messages to some people, it just doesn’t say whom. Trial and error would be the only way to find out.


We've seen bad writing from lots of departments of lots of companies, but this is particularly excellent bad writing.

Would that it were intentional.

We cast an Idiot Flag at the agency and its IT department. How we long for, for the days when internal communication was clear...and when agency communications had intentionally humorous constructions.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

North Korea -- angry letters or angry cruise missiles?

Team America: World Police, the puppet movie send-up of the US's response to terrorism in the world was derided as sophomoric and filthy.

It was, which is why we found it so funny.

It was also a frightening, cold, sober look at the reality of how United Nations diplomacy so often doesn't work. Recall this exchange between Hans Blix, the famous UN weapons inspector, and Kim Jong Il, the manipulative psycho who runs North Korea:

Kim Jong Il: Hans Brix? Oh no! Oh, herro. Great to see you again, Hans!
Hans Blix: Mr. Il, I was supposed to be allowed to inspect your palace today, but your guards won't let me enter certain areas.
Kim Jong Il: Hans, Hans, Hans! We've been frew this a dozen times. I don't have any weapons of mass destwuction, OK Hans?
Hans Blix: Then let me look around, so I can ease the UN's collective mind. I'm sorry, but the UN must be firm with you. Let me in, or else.
Kim Jong Il: Or else what?
Hans Blix: Or else we will be very angry with you... and we will write you a letter, telling you how angry we are.

Kim then feeds Blix to some carnivorous fish and sings a touching ballad about how "ronery" (lonely) he is. The South Park guys hit it out of the ballpark in our opinion.

On Sunday, North Korea launched what they claimed was a satellite, but what the rest of the world that doesn't buy their ridiculous propaganda (i.e., Kim's ability to hit several holes in one each time he plays a round of golf) knows was an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The United Nations Keystone Kops' subsequent inability to come to a consensus on how to respond (other than "continuing discussions") should make our collective blood run cold.

They can't even agree to write (another) angry letter, or to send the self congratulatory -- and sad loose cannon, in our book -- President Jimmy Carter over to negotiate (another) end to Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions. Recall that Carter visited in 1994, cut a deal, and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize thereafter, adding him to a list of distinguished incompetents that includes Koffi Annan and Yasser Arafat.

The US gets in enough international trouble when it saves the world from psychotic, violent dictators when it has the support of the international community and its collective wisdom.

Who knows what will happen if we have to act alone when we don't have their support? Let's get the UN working on their angry letter lest the US Navy be required to work on some angry cruise missiles.