Monthly Archives: November 2008

Thanksgiving

Unlike Columbus Day, I actually like Thanksgiving. Celebrating the symbolic meeting between Pilgrims and Indians, when despite their differences, they came together at the same table and shared their cultures is a great lesson for everyone. Plus, we all have a lot to be thankful for, and what better way to celebrate than to eat a giant meal, lounge around lazily, and gamble on football?

But since everyone has the whole weekend off anyways, we should consider naming Friday as an official holiday as well. Maybe something a little more historically all-encompassing? I’m thinking of a name along the lines of Remember How We Eventually Killed All Those Indians? Day. You know, something to really bring the lesson full circle.

Anyways, here are the Nine Most Annoying Conversations You’ll be Having on Thanksgiving. Enjoy.

At their best

This past week both President-elect Obama and still-President Bush have been doing what they do best.

Obama was busy, like usual, getting things done:

Obama picks ‘best US minds’ to save economy

Obama to Receive Stimulus Package from Congress ‘on Inauguration Day’

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Meanwhile, Bush, also in his element, was dressing up in costumes for ridiculous photo-ops:

That’s him at Sunday’s APEC summit in Peru, decked out in a traditional Peruvian poncho. He was surely disappointed this year, though, as the costumes were not quite as clown-like as in years past:

I’m not going to lie–a little part of me is going to miss him.

Pirates

Saudi Arabia to Join NATO Naval Mission; Pirates Boost Defenses

Nov. 21 (Bloomberg) — Saudi Arabia said it will join a fleet of NATO warships on an anti-piracy mission, as hijackers bolstered defenses around an oil-laden Saudi tanker captured off the East African coast.

The navies of India, Russia, France, Britain and Germany have all battled pirate vessels in the past 12 days alone.

The seizure of the oil tanker may push Western navies to step up their actions against hijackers, who find potential targets with Global Positioning System navigational aids and satellite phones and use captured fishing trawlers to launch attacks out at sea, according to an October report by Chatham House.

So it’s a fleet of warships from every major military power in the world vs. some fishing boats. Think these pirates may have bitten off more than they can chew?

Granted, the swashbuckers have been having Jack Sparrow-like success lately–capturing nine ships in the last month and asking for a mil in randsom for each. But then they got arrogant and commandeered an oil tanker. Big mistake. We’re they expecting us not to go war over oil? That’s the only thing we go to war over. Looks like in a couple months there won’t be too many pirates anymore.

Helping humanity or world domination?

From Drudge:

GOOGLE will launch a new tool that will help federal officials “track sickness”.

SICK SURVEILLANCE: GOOGLE REPORTS FLU SEARCHES, LOCATIONS TO FEDS
“Flu Trends” uses search terms that people put into the web giant to figure out where influenza is heating up, and will notify the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in real time!
GOOGLE, continuing to work closely with government, claims it would keep individual user data confidential: “GOOGLE FLU TRENDS can never be used to identify individual users because we rely on anonymized, aggregated counts of how often certain search queries occur each week.”

Drudge paints a 1984-esque picture of the whole project. Not surprisingly, the first news article the pops up on Google is much more flattering:

Google has applied its massive data-collecting power for the first time to prediction of the spread of disease, with the launch of a site that claims to be able to raise the alarm over flu outbreaks up to two weeks in advance of existing public services.
Google Flu Trends takes the general search tracking technology pioneered by Google Trends and applies it specifically to influenza. The firm’s engineers claim to have devised a way of analysing millions of individual searches related to the disease that in tests proved to correlate closely with the actual incidence of illness. That gives them the potential ability to predict rises in flu cases – information that could be used by health professionals to warn the public or plan their responses.
The ability to speed up the response of health services could prove invaluable in the event of a vicious outbreak, or the emergence of a virulent strain.
The results of Google’s comparisons with official health statistics will be published in the science journal Nature.
Google hopes to extend the service to other countries, and may in time include other illnesses.

So is this “just the beginning,” as Eric Schmit, CEO of Google proclaims? Or the beginning of the end?

Either way, don’t ask Google Suggests.

Just missed the ridiculous bus

The distinguished Republican Congressman from from Georgia, Paul Broun:

“It may sound a bit crazy and off base, but the thing is, he’s the one who proposed this national security force. I’m just trying to bring attention to the fact that we may — may not, I hope not — but we may have a problem with that type of philosophy of radical socialism or Marxism. That’s exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it’s exactly what the Soviet Union did. When he’s proposing to have a national security force that’s answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he’s showing me signs of being Marxist.”

And to think, just a week or two ago, this guy would’ve actually been taken seriously and made front page news, along with other cartoon characters such as “Joe” the “Plumber” and Michelle Bachmann. Now, he’s relegated to nutball status.

Obama Euphoria

The stock market may be down the day after the election, but I have never seen more smiling people on the subway in my life. Usually my morning ride is filled with looks of murderous rage or hostile indifference. Most of the miserables heading to work at 9 am look like they will either snap into a rampage or breakdown crying if they so much as have to move over to share their seat. I’m not even getting any scowls when I hit people with my backpack or spill coffee on them anymore. Weird.