Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category.

Are Toilet Seat Covers Effective?

Are toilet seat covers effective? Go ahead and google it, I’ll wait.

When used correctly, they don’t keep you dry nor do they keep any diseases away from you. Ok, so why do they exist? Who uses them? Really.

But they are in most public bathrooms. I don’t understand! Does the toilet seat cover industry have good lobbyists or something?

When I want a clean toilet seat, I wipe down the seat with the toilet paper. If it’s bad, I use another stall. Sometimes I use the soap and water with the toilet paper to clean and dry the seat. I mean, it’s right next to the toilet, and it’s in the name… “toilet paper.”

Sloppy Equifax

I wrote this letter to Equifax today:

 

I got an email from TrustedID Customer Service <no-reply@trustedid.com> today. In it there was a sure sign of a phishing attack, only it wasn’t.

It reads like so:
Subject: New Credit Monitoring Alert
We’ve noticed a change on your credit report, and we encourage you to log in to your account to view details at www.trustedid.com.
Notice that the text reads “www.trustedid.com” but the link behind it reads “http://click.e.equifax.com/?qs=b15633469f1…”
Don’t do that shit. There is arguably only one key bit of protected information on the internet, domain names. Customers should only ever click on matched text and links. If you get customers used to clicking mismatched text and links, you get them used to being scammed.
Please write back and tell me you’ll fix this type of error in your emails.
Thank you,

Lee Sonko

The Primaries Aren’t Elections

First, want something funny and completely related to the post below:

Now on to my rant…

The common narrative is that the Presidential Primaries are elections that determine for each party who will be put forward in the general election. This narrative is incorrect. Political parties are not governmental bodies and are not beholden to the election process. Case in point: Bernie Sanders was favored by Democratic party members but Hillary was put forth by the party. A lawsuit against the DNC was dismissed last week, partially because Bruce Spiva, representing the DNC, described how they could do whatever they want, regardless of what their members wanted. Here is a snippet from the Washington Post:

Bruce Spiva, representing the DNC, made the argument that would eventually carry the day… he explained how the DNC worked, Spiva made a hypothetical argument that the party wasn’t really bound by the votes cast in primaries or caucuses.

“The party has the freedom of association to decide how it’s gonna select its representatives to the convention and to the state party,” said Spiva. “Even to define what constitutes evenhandedness and impartiality really would already drag the court well into a political question and a question of how the party runs its own affairs. The party could have favored a candidate. I’ll put it that way.”

Now I remember why “politics” is a four letter word.

Caduceus vs. Rod of Asclepius

Please choose the correct symbol for your medical organization!

  • A rod with two snakes and wings is called the Caduceus. It is the symbol for the ancient Greek god Hermes, known for being messenger of the gods, guide of the dead and protector of merchants, shepherds, gamblers, liars, and thieves. It is seen today as a symbol of commerce.
  • A rod with one snake is called the Rod of Asclepius. It is the symbol for the ancient Greek god Asclepius, known for medicine. It is used today as a symbol for the medical profession.

In 1902 the US Army Medical Corp chose the Caduceus as their insignia. Most scholars regard this as a mistake. The US Army writes that the Caduceus represents “the non-combatant status of military medicine on the battlefield”. The Encyclopedia Britannica notes, “Among the ancient Greeks and Romans [the Caduceus] became the badge of heralds and ambassadors, signifying their inviolability.” So the symbol might be interpreted on the battlefield to mean, “Hey hey hey, I’m just a messenger, you’re not supposed to kill me!” To me, that feels like a stretch. But more importantly, the Caduceus definitely doesn’t convey an intelligible message in the civilian medical world. The “I’m a non-combatant” message doesn’t make sense, nor does the “Don’t kill me, I’m just a messenger” message.

So, if you have a medically oriented organization, please make sure that your rod has one snake and no wings.

There are many articles where historians and professionals delve into this issue. Almost all of them say the US Medical Corps are using the wrong symbol. Here’s a few to get you started:

 

Another Plea for Legible Flight Reservations

Another Plea for Legible Flight Reservations
Grrrr!
We’ve been at this whole commercial flight thing for about a hundred years. You would think that the airlines would be able to create a simple, clear flight plan for me. EVERY trip I have made for the last 20 years I have had to translate their gobbly-gook flight reservation into something legible. The relevant data is always the same. Could someone in the airline industry please recognize this? Give me a calendar item that I can copy and paste into my life!

Here is what I put in my calendar. Short. Readable. Useful.

Flight Ref: XXXX

Monday November 21st
depart SFO at 10:35am on AA flight 556
  arrive Chicago ORD at 4:55pm
depart Chicago ORD 8:30pm on AA flight 4308
  arrive Nashville 10:00pm

Friday November 25th
depart Nashville 4:30pm on AA flight 661
  arrive Dallas DFW at 6:40pm
depart Dallas DFW at 9:20pm on AA flight 1575
  arrive SFO at 11:05pm

and here is what American Airlines sent me. It is freaking impossible to read. Sure it contains all the relevant data but I challenge you to understand my flight info in less than 5 minutes!

It doesn’t need to be like this. Make it simple. Make it say what it needs to say. Then put the nitty gritty details at the bottom or something. Bonus points awarded if they put a “Add to Google Calendar” icon next to the reservation so I don’t even have to copy-paste. But hey…

I originally mentioned this in 2011 and it burns my buns every time I fly that flight reservations are still universally impossible to read. I use parts of this blog post as a template before I fly.

Wisdom Teeth

Short form: 2/3 of wisdom teeth removals are unnecessary and dentists don’t really want you to know.tooth

In about 1999 I had a wisdom tooth removed because the gum had gotten infected, inflamed, and painful. The dentist suggested I get all of my wisdom teeth out “because it would be better in the long run.” I declined, just getting the one tooth removed.

In about 2003 I had a new dentist after moving. I remember the intake form had this on it:

Do you still have your wisdom teeth?
Yes      No
If so, why?

The answer I wrote was “because I use my teeth to chew my food“. Of course, the intake form question lead to a discussion with the dentist. I had this crazy belief that nature wouldn’t create a system where every human was better off if they had four serious dental surgeries as a matter of course.

I was incensed. This question, delivered by a board certified professional dentist practically stated that it was wrong of me to have wisdom teeth. The followup is of course, “…and you know, we can fix that problem for you.” It’s like bringing your car in for an oil change and having the mechanic tell you that your confabulator needs realigning, and if you don’t get it done soon, well, who knows what will happen! I’m allergic to professionals using Fear, uncertainty, and doubt on me. I didn’t go back. I thought about blogging about it back then but who has time for that junk?

 

Well, I just came across this article more-or-less confirming my suspicions. It says about 2/3 of wisdom teeth shouldn’t be removed. But don’t believe the article, believe the links the author shows us…

And here is a VERY curious article I found in the Cochrane database (Cochrane is awesome, it’s like the Consumer Reports of research, they look for and help create systematic review research because it is so much better than individual studies).

 

PS, Great thanks to the folks at The Daily Digg for putting the original article in my inbox, with the title of Wisdom Tooth Removal Is A Racket. The Daily Digg is one of my major sources of curated news right now. They practically hide the link to join their mailing list so… sign up here.