Thank God They’re Gluten-Free 

Friday, June 24th, 2016

It doesn’t seem like it should be legal to sell cyanide as a foodstuff, but here we are.


Whatever you do, don’t eat a bowl’s worth.

A Deliberate Provocation 

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

This may be the most entertained I’ve ever been by soccer.

You Never Say It Can’t Happen 

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

Evan Wolfson was a driving force behind the victory for marriage equality in America. Now he has some words of advice for the gun control movement.

We can have sensible gun control reforms in America, and we will. That belief is our starting point (so let’s stop retweeting this).

I’m Insulted by the Suggestion

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

I hear plenty of griping about the new chip credit cards in the United States. They may be marginally slower than the old swipe cards, but the real problem at present is the uncertainty when it comes to determining how you should use your card. This temporary card that Panera is inserting into all of their credit card readers is both great design that addresses a real problem and a sad indication of just how poorly the transition is going:

[Photo courtesy of P. Kafasis]

However, for the fourth time in the past two years, my credit card number has been compromised. If chip cards reduce the frequency with which I need to update my card in a dozen different places online, so much the better.

Anyhow, I recently received yet another new credit card after the most recent account breach. In years past, this would have meant a phone call to a real person who would then take the oppurtunity to pitch one or more other paid services from the credit card company. More recently, cards at least offered a secondary web address to activate the card online. My newest card included the following sticker:

I very much appreciate the emphasis on using the website. Nevertheless, I’m concerned by the secondary text. I have some copy-editing suggestions.

Alternate Text for This Credit Card Activation Sticker

  • Are you one of those sickies who likes to use your phone as a phone? Please dial: 1-800-678-7820

  • Have you used up your smartphone’s data cap for the month? Please dial: 1-800-678-7820

  • Remember phone calls? Please dial: 1-800-678-7820

  • Are you just some sort of maladjusted weirdo? Please dial: 1-800-678-7820

  • We’re lonely. Please dial: 1-800-678-7820

The worst part of all of this is that because their website was temporarily down, I did have to call. Thankfully, I only had to deal with an automated assistant which worked well, and the whole thing was over in less than 60 seconds.

Portraits of America 

Monday, June 20th, 2016

“Portraits of America” is a site run by Ivan Velinov where he photographs and shares the stories of strangers. The site began as “Portraits of Boston”, but has since expanded to cover the entire country. Velinov’s photographic portraits are often quite good, but it’s the accompanying stories that are really the draw for me. For example, this Rhode Island woman was photographed with her pet pig and shared this:

That’s probably why I got the pig. It’s a little bit of an empty nest syndrome. I need something to take care of. My younger son doesn’t like her. He hasn’t touched her, hasn’t petted her, and doesn’t want to be photographed with her. He hates her. It’s funny—I think he thinks I’m replacing him. He’s jealous of a pig.”

The stories aren’t usually this amusing, but they are almost always interesting.

A 33-Year-Old Easter Egg 

Friday, June 17th, 2016

It took over three decades, but an ancient easter egg hidden in an old Apple II game has finally been uncovered.

Celebrate With a Drink 

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

Speaking of dramatic boat rescues in New York City, Joseph Lehr managed to save his boat from sinking with the help of a cork from a vodka bottle. Not bad!

Mr. Munglani’s Wild Ride 

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

Armaan Raj Munglani, a British tourist visiting New York City, went for quite a journey in New York Harbor. After two hours floating on a door-sized plank and passing by oblivious ships, he was finally rescued by New York’s Bravest. Munglani explained how it all happened thusly:

“I just got on it for the sake of it, because I’m 19, and 19-year-olds do this sort of thing,” he told The News. “The next thing I know, this dirty, old, stinking barge starts floating away.”

I like his honesty.

Every Day Is Children’s Day

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

While taking a rare glance at Facebook on Sunday, I spotted this image:

What in the hell is this nonsense? Mother’s Day, I get. Let’s absolutely set aside a day to recognize our wonderful mothers (hi Mom!). Father’s Day is coming up, and that seems fair too. I can even get on-board with Grandparent’s Day. But is anyone forgetting about children? Is any group more catered to in our society than children? For that matter, is anyone going to see this and think “Well, I was gonna go shopping, then hit a few buckets at the driving range, but I guess I’ll take Susie to the park to fly a kite instead”?

Wikipedia has some background information, particularly as it relates to the US. While we may have a national Pan American Aviation Day and a National Forest Products week in this country, “a permanent annual single Children’s Day observation is not made at the national level” here. In fact, here’s the calendar for when Children’s Day is observed in America:

Dates for Children’s Day in the United States

  • 2015: 2 August

  • 2016: 12 June

  • 2017: 30 June

  • 2018: 26 June

  • 2019: 11 June

As near as I can figure, “Children’s Day” is celebrated on the first of approximately whenever. Maybe June-ish.

But upon re-examination of the original image, it was the second line of text that really put me over the edge.

  • Let’s make today special for kids of all ages.

That’s just everybody! That is literally every person alive on the planet. You might as well just call this “Special Day”, or even just “Happy Day”. So I hope you did something great on Sunday, dear readers, because whoever you are, it was apparently your day.

Previously in holidays: After All, We’re All Somebody’s Father

Be the Helpers 

Monday, June 13th, 2016

Fred Rogers (yes, that Fred Rogers) once said “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” In the aftermath of the atrocity in Orlando, allow the brief story of a helper named Josh McGill to provide some comfort.

In the meantime, don’t let yourself become numb to the horror of these gun crimes. We can and must do better. Small changes will have an impact, and there are organizations like Everytown working to end gun violence. I believe that one day we will be able to look back at this period in time as grim history, rather than a constantly repeating current event.