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things that just are

Monday, April 26, 2004

How 40,000 people used Mrs. Whitcher's SSN for 40 years

If someone has misused your SSN, take heart -- it could be worse. According to SSA historians, over the course of 40 years more than 40,000 people used secretary Hilda Schrader Whitcher's SSN as their own.

In 1937, Whitcher's boss, Douglas Patterson , vice president and treasurer of the wallet-manufacturing company E. H. Ferree, decided to include a demonstration Social Security card in the new line of wallets. To make the false card a better representation of a real Social Security card, he included a real SSN -- his secretary's. The display cards were smaller than actual cards and had the word "specimen" written on them, but many people took the number to be their own SSN anyway.

The SSA gave Whitcher a new number and announced that the wallet sample number was not to be used as anybody's SSN. But some people were still using the number as late as 1977!

Some facts on how SSN are determined

Friday, April 23, 2004

Blog Maverick - The Mark Cuban Weblog - www.blogmaverick.com

4 officials currently in the league [NBA] all went to the same high school in Philly. In a league of 60 officials, 4 went to the same high school. Did they have a great officiating program there? A great trainer in the area? Was there something in the water? Or, is it a reflection of how the league recruited new officials into the league? I think I know the answer, but until I’m sure, we all can just guess.

how about that!

Interesting kosherblog

Breaking News

Washington- A tragic fire on Wednesday destroyed the personal library of George W. Bush.

Both of his books have been lost. A spokesman said the president was devastated, as he had not finished coloring the second one.

More details to come.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Rampant Rhino Gets Amorous with Car

LONDON (Reuters) - A rampant rhinoceros gave a group of visitors a glimpse of nature in the raw at a British safari park when he tried to have sex with their car.

Sharka, a two-ton white rhino, got amorous with Dave Alsop's car when he stopped with three friends to take pictures of the animal mating with his partner Trixie at the West Midland Safari Park.

The 12-year-old rhino tried to mount the Renault Laguna from the side, denting the doors and ripping off the wing mirrors before Dave drove away with a puffing Sharka in pursuit.

"He was a big boy and obviously aroused," Alsop told the Sun newspaper on Thursday. "He sidled up against us. The next thing I know he's banging away at the car and it's rocking like hell."

A spokeswoman for the park, which says "rhinos are not particularly intelligent animals" on its Web site, said Sharka was a hit with the female rhinos and had fathered two calves in the last five years.

"He's got a bit of a reputation this lad and he was obviously at it again," she added.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

I scream, you scream

Tuesday, April 27, 2004 is bound to be a busy day at Ben & Jerry's Scoop Shops. That's the company's 26th annual Free Cone Day. The first 50,000 customers in the U.S. who sign up for a sweepstakes at this year's event will also be able to get a code redeemable for a free song at Apple's iTunes Music Store. The sweepstakes grand prize winner gets an iPod, an iMac and a trip to Ben & Jerry's headquarters in Vermont to become an honorary "Flavor Guru," where the winner gets to make a batch of their own personal flavor of ice cream

Friday, April 16, 2004

10 worst album covers of all time

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Wired News: Onion Taken Seriously, Film at 11
April 14, 2004
By Daniel Terdiman
Wired News

The article in the Beijing Evening News told a shocking story of American hubris: Congress was behaving like a petulant baseball team and threatening to bolt Washington, D.C., unless it got a new, modern Capitol building, complete with retractable roof.

There was a problem with the story. Rather than do his own original reporting, Evening News writer Huang Ke had cribbed, nearly word for word, his text from an American publication. And as if that wasn't bad enough, he hadn't bothered to vet the source he had plagiarized: The Onion.

At first, the Evening News stood by its story, demanding proof it wasn't true. It finally did apologize, but stubbornly tried to deflect blame for having been duped.

It wrote: "Some small American newspapers frequently fabricate offbeat news to trick people into noticing them with the aim of making money."

Carol Kolb, the editor of The Onion, the satirical publication that bills itself as "America's Finest News Source," jokes that the Evening News might not have been too far off-base with its defense.

"That's what we do at The Onion," she laughs. "We do print lies to make money."

Article continued at http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,63048,00.html

it's funny because it's true

Friday, April 09, 2004

'Apprentice' Star Omarosa Fired 4 Times

LOS ANGELES (AP)- Her stint on "The Apprentice" wasn't the first time Omarosa Manigault Stallworth heard the words "You're fired." People magazine says she was bounced from four jobs in two years with the Clinton administration.

A worker at her last job with the Commerce Department says Omarosa was asked to leave as quickly as possible because she was so disruptive. She says, "One woman wanted to slug her."

...don't we all.

from http://www.oliverwillis.com/apprentice/

Thursday, April 08, 2004

The Adventures of Seinfeld & Superman

A cool use of the Web for out-of-the-box advertising.
Similar to the BMW Web film series concept

Friday, April 02, 2004

Shredder Sales Soar in U.S. in Era of ID Theft

By Michael Flaherty

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Yuri Fernandez discovered recently that a stranger could snatch bills and receipts from his trash and empty his bank account.
To avoid that possibility, Fernandez, 32, did what a lot of other people are doing nowadays: He went out and bought a shredder.

"I really need one of these," said the Broadway theater worker eyeing a $35 shredder at Staples Inc. in New York City.

The rise in identity theft, while a nightmare for tens of millions of Americans, has done wonders for the shredding industry.

Last year, sales of shredders jumped 50 percent at Staples and 30 percent at Office Max, a retailer owned by Boise Cascade Corp. .

Fellowes Inc., a closely held Itaska, Illinois, company that makes shredders, reported sales up 25 percent.

The boom in document destroyers goes hand-in-hand with a surge in crimes involving stolen personal information, from credit card accounts to Social Security numbers.

An estimated 27.3 million Americans have been victims of identity theft over the last five years, including 10 million in the last year alone, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

The FTC reports that identity theft cost consumers $5 billion in out-of-pocket expenses last year, and businesses and financial institutions nearly $48 billion.

Commercial shredding is also booming, as many companies have become more vigilant.

"We've seen a double-digit growth as an industry in the last year. It's definitely a boom time for people in the business," said Robert Johnson, executive director for the National Association for Information Destruction, a Phoenix-based trade group for commercial shredders.

New privacy legislation, coupled with the collapse of Enron Corp., the bankrupt energy giant fighting criminal charges that include the unlawful destruction of company-related materials, has prompted other companies to adopt a shred-all policy, he said.

"It's when companies have a shredding party at 11 p.m. on a Saturday that raises suspicion," Johnson said. "So to stay out of trouble, a lot of companies are shredding everything all the time, the same way."

Such policies have spawned the mobile shredding industry, where companies are hired to arrive on site to destroy documents. And it has prompted Brink's Co. security systems and uniform maker Cintas Corp., as well as several other companies, to enter the field, Johnson said.


Shredders have grown in popularity since their invention in the 1930s, gaining historical prominence with the destruction of documents at the besieged U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 after the fall of the Shah of Iran and the Iran-Contra arms sales testimony in the 1980s. More recently, there was the Whitewater real estate partnership probe involving former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary.

But the best free advertising enjoyed by the shredding industry recently has been the campaign in the last year to provide awareness of identity theft.

Thus, in a sign of the times, Staples Inc. no longer has ribbon cutting at new stores. Its grand openings now feature a ribbon shredding ceremony.

Shredders, after all, are one of the company's hottest items with 1.3 million units sold in 2003 -- a more than 50 percent increase from a year earlier.

Other retailers like Office Depot Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. have also seen shredder sales soar.

"It's an item that a lot of people still don't have but are aware that they probably need," said Karen O'Neil, a Staples spokeswoman, noting that the market opportunity for personal shredders is "huge" with only 20 percent household penetration. She also credited marketing campaigns by banks to raise awareness of identity theft as a boost to the shredding business.

And shredders are not only coming with more components, they have dropped in price by as much as 20 percent in the past five years, O'Neil said.

Last week, Staples' newest New York City store sold out of its $70 "Executive Disk Shredder," which cross-cuts paper (up to seven sheets at a time) and gobbles up CDs, DVDs, floppy discs and credit cards. A smaller, 5-sheet version was selling for $35.

One shopper browsing these models said he has owned a shredder for 15 years. The shopper, who asked not to be identified, said he wasn't in the market for a shredder. But at the listed prices, he was tempted.

"Holy cow," he said. "What a bargain."

shredders are cool