Friday, February 27, 2015

Why are we so fat? An updated list

The data and my photogenic memory show that we are much fatter than we used to be. Why? Taking the blame this week... emulsifiers:

 What else is making us fat? I did exhaustive research:

Emulsifiers join a long and distinguished list, which also includes:

Antibiotics in people.

Antibiotics in animal feed.






Salt Sugar Fat.



Diet soda.

Regular soda.

Screen time.



Note: Not actually smartphones.



Lowfat food.

Portion sizes.

Yes, this is a shoop.
Cheap food.

Roof pudding.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Identifying Saboteurs in Your Organization: OSS Simple Sabotage Field Manual

Back in 2012, I was at the Tech@State conference listening to the CIA's Sean Dennehy give a presentation about using Intellipedia (a set of wikis for the US intelligence community) to help knowledge-sharing across organizations.

To illustrate what makes inefficient, overly bureaucratic organizations inefficient and overly bureaucratic, he highlighted excerpts from the Office of Strategic Services' Simple Sabotage Field Manual [PDF]. (The OSS was the WWII-era precursor of the CIA. The manual has been declassified and you can also get it from Project Gutenberg):


The manual is a guide for showing how regular people in enemy-occupied nations can commit "simple sabotage." And since it's for regular people, there's no blowing up bridges with high explosives or rappelling down ropes.

Instead, the weapons are the stuff in your pockets... and the tactics are super passive-aggressive.

There's some hands-on stuff -- light arson, slashing tires, sugar in the gas tank. But much of it is indistinguishable from simply being a lazy worker who's doing a bad job: leaving a messy workspace, carelessly breaking tools, and generally being surly, stupid, and non-cooperative.

The amusing bit Dennehy highlighted starts on page 28, where the manual shows the types of behaviors white-collar saboteurs would use to cripple an organization. In your next workplace meeting, and see how many saboteurs you can spot in the room (and if you do spot one, don't bother calling the FBI -- they won't care):

(11) General Interference with Organisations and Production
    (a) Organizations and Conferences
      (1) Insist on doing everything through "channels." Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.

      (2) Make "speeches." Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate your "points" by long anecdotes and accounts of per­sonal experiences. Never hesitate to make a few appropriate "patriotic" comments.

      (3) When possible, refer all matters to committees, for "further study and considera­tion." Attempt to make the committees as large as possible — never less than five.

      (4) Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.
      (5) Haggle over precise wordings of com­munications, minutes, resolutions.
      (6) Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision.
      (7) Advocate "caution." Be "reasonable" and urge your fellow-conferees to be "reason­able" and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.
      (8) Be worried about the propriety of any decision — raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated lies within the juris­diction of the group or whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Nuking My Blog Topic Slushpile

I haven't blogged too much over the past few... years. But I never stopped thinking about ideas for new blog posts. When I got ideas, they would make it into my drafts folder, and then die. 

Today, while procrastinating about something else (remember, the key to beating procrastination is to find something you want to do even less), I decided to clean out said drafts folder, which had grown to 129 entries dating back to 2006.

(No doubt, the recent post, The 2014 That Almost Was: Gawker's Abandoned Draft Posts, helped prompt me, but I've written similarly themed posts at conveniently defunct blogs)

Image by Flickr user Pierre J.. Used under Creative Commons: BY-NC-SA.

As of this writing, my Drafts folder is down to 45 entries; outside of a few I'm archiving as painful, never-to-be-published reminders, most should see the light of day.

  • Failure to Render Aid and Leaving the Scene of an Accident [No clue.]
  • Untitled entry about the 2014 death of Rob the Bouncer [I was trying to tie it to a bigger entry about the period of blog history c. 2006 when it seemed that every single-issue blogger around* was getting a book deal. (*meaning "bloggers living and working in New York City with readers in the publishing industry")]
  • Tips for Conspiracy Theorists on How to Read Government Contract Notices [Saving this. It'll come up again.]
  • Flooding Helmet [About the ISS astronaut who nearly drowned on a spacewalk. I forget the angle.]
  • Short Men's Shorts Will Return Some Day and Things That I Never Thought Would Come Back [Two different drafts about unnecessary comebacks from the 80s. Consolidated into a single draft, most likely to be abandoned again.]
  • Recent Dumbness

  • Dumb Things on Gun Control/Gun Rights
  • I Miss USENET Sometimes
  • Untitled [Inspired by Real Steel, looking at limitations of gesture-based controls. Boiled down to four words: Your arms get tired.]
  • [Numerous career updates]
  • Voter ID, Gun Registration, and the Always/Never Problem
  • Comparing Stop SOPA (2012) to Stop the CDA (1996)
  • Losing My Names [Run-of-the-mill complaint about forgetting the names of people and things. In this case, having to google "hedging religion" to remember Pascal's Wager.]
  • [A few very personal items I'm very, very glad I never finished and will never, ever, ever be published.]

2011 [I must have been better at deleting my dead drafts that year.]
  • It's Better to Know Something Than to Know How to Look Up Something [Just another "Is Google making us dumber?" piece. (See 2009)]


  • I'm kind of hoping the asteroid hits soon
  • Why I Am a Shit Consultant [Relevant, but unnecessary.]
  • I think I peaked in the mid-90s. [Same as above.]
  • If There Was a Blogger Lager, What Would It Taste Like? [Grew out of a Twitter/FB post. One-note joke.]
  • Shaving With Expanding Foam [Idea for a video. Never followed through, thankfully.]
  • I Think I Screwed Myself Out My Yahoo Account [Couldn't get back into an old Yahoo account because I'd given a fake birth year and they thought I was under 13. Seemed important at the time.]
  • Lint, Rewinding, Norms [On merging and cleaning lint traps in shared laundry room dryers.]
  • On Sharing and Being an Extroverted Introvert
  • Infomercials in Church [Misnamed; mostly about how to spot Protestants at Catholic Church services (especially wedding masses and holiday relative visitations). Hint: It's the Lord's Prayer.]
  • Stumbling Into Employment: A Confession
  • Social Linksharing Sites: Blog-like Behavior Detected and Fark, PostSecret, and Core Community Features [Two articles about how, if you don't offer community features that users want (e.g. commenting, private messaging, and forums) users will use other services outside of your view and control.]
  • Foreign Domestics [CSB in its entirety: "At McFaddens' for the eDemocracy Camp 2 post-event Happy Hour. I ordered a beer. Blue Moon. Bartender said it would be 2 drink tickets, for imports. I said Blue Moon is from Colorado. Bartender says he should have said domestics, but not Blue Moon. Okay, I said, how about a Sam Adams.*sigh* Okay, fine, just give me a Miller Lite."]
  • A Dramatic Sea Change in My Dental Hygiene Regimen [Totally unnecessary entry about changing from "brush first, floss second" to "floss first, brush second" on March 25, 2009.]
  • Sounds Like Madness [Time Warner job posting for some pop culture position. Key requirement: "We expect you'll not only know who the woman on the cover of Elle is, but who the last 3 people she dated are and what her last 3 haircuts looked like, too... As we program to a massive audience, an interest in lifestyle-oriented shows like Today, Oprah and The View is a great indicator that you'll be a good fit for this job."]
  • House Party [Recap, in Tweets, of a few bands playing at the now-gone Kansas House in Arlington. Highlight: "My hair goal in life is to maintain a length where you can't see that the old poseur is wearing earplugs- tinnitus is a bitch"]
  • A Hack Writer's Guide to Getting Fark Greenlights
  • Why I Carry a Knife 
  • On Silicon Alley Insider and Stealing Images
  • Will Barack Obama Be FDR, or LBJ?
  • I Couldn't Give My Dad What He Wanted for Christmas [Pretty sure it was for me to go to church more often. Or at all.]
  • The Difference Between Knowing Things and Knowing Where to Find Things

  • I Blame the Internet [How "Om-nom-nom" had become an indispensable part of language. Clearly one for the ages.]
  • A Surge for DC Crime [Looking at the suitability of COIN (counterinsurgency) tactics in domestic policing.]
  • More Things Women Don't Know About Men's Urinals: Spitting. [...I'm not letting this one go.]
  • Why I Hate Designers [Mostly protesting too-small, white text on gray backgrounds, which was in vogue at the time.]
  • On Hoarding PDFs [Generic data hoarding complaint]
  • On Comment Fragmentation
  • I don't want to register for another damned account.
  • On the one hand, self-interested utopianism; on the other, knee-jerk cynicism
  • Life During Terrorist Wartime
  • I Just Reinvented ShareThis 
  • Best American Post-Apocalyptic Skylines
  • Manhunter vs. Red Dragon
  • For a while, I thought I let a blog suicide happen 
  • Slushpile [Entire draft: Department of Irony Abuse. The Social Web is Powered by Self-Righteous Indignation. Whenever I see the word "steampunk," I want to punch the author in the throat.]
  • On the "On..." Construction in Titles
  • Bring Back Body Hair
  • Women Are From Venus, Men Are From Earth
  • For the Love of God, Please Stop With the Hat Tips [About attribution, not fedoras]
  • I Don't Hate Stupid People, per se
  • What Do I Want to Do When I Grow Up?
  • Political Blogging Is a Lot Like Prayer
  • "Works As Designed" Is the Beginning of a Discussion, Not the End
  • Extremists Think Everyone Else Is Just as Extreme
  • The Difference Between Courtesy, Dignity, and Respect
  • Gene Weingarten's Secret Strategy to Save the Washington Post? [Pointless complaint about why Gene Weingarten will never call his online presence a blog.]
  • I'm Going on Vacation: Please Burglarize My House
  • Thank God for Secularism
  • There Is Absolutely No Point to This Entry About Paracord  [Indeed.]
  • Why Chat Still Matters [Key line: "The beauty of text-based chat is that it's realtime, but with just enough asynchronicity and persistance to forgive a little latency -- whether that latency is due to connection issues, or because your attention is somewhere else." Unintended humor: "Granted, I'm an IRC snob."]
  • Rethinking Text-Based Chat [Mostly same as above. Renamed and saved for a dumb thing I did when I programmed the People Connection page at AOL.]
  • The Retro-Future Ain't What It Used to Be
  • I'm Not a Photographer -- I Take Pictures [Self-evident.]
  • The Stupidity Problem and Online Community [Too obvious. Sample: "People are stupid, and the stupidest people are the loudest people. And the worst people are loud, stupid people who think that they're smart."]
  • Searching for a Slogan
  • Via-bility [Also blog attribution. Amusingly, references, Jason Calacanis-era Netscape's stab at a Digg clone, back when Digg was all user-voted social linksharing.]
  • Fark Submitters Are Illiterate, Stupid and Lazy: Lessons From TotalFark
  • In Case of Emergency, You Are Probably Useless
  • I'm Generally Good for Four Good Ideas a Year
  • Nicholas Negroponte, I Blame You [I plan on revisiting Being Digital in 2015.]
  • minimizing the duration of risky social transactions [Boiled down to "get out of the passing lane.]
  • [Untitled entry about an article on choosing domain names. Opening: "Interestingly-titled article that utterly fails to provide any useful content, though also provides unintended humor."]
  • Why Do Digg Users Hate Blogs?  [Digg 1.0 users hated links that pointed to blogs instead of original stories, even if the intermediary articles added value.]
  • Why Do Regular Schmoes Care About Movie Grosses? [Way beyond overly obvious.]
  • Anagram Lies: Funeral Does Not Equal "Real Fun" [A former cow-orker's funeral. I'll keep it, but it's not a draft of anything.]
  • More Things Women Don't Know About Men's Urinals
  • [An entire pending post built around one line from the movie Se7en]