High School

Rarely do my boyfriend’s passion for online chess and my own interests intersect; generally, the agreement is that I will read feminist news sites and pop culture blogs on my computer, and he will sit in his corner playing chess and reading BBC sports.  Everyone is comfortable with this.  His “corner” is in the bedroom whereas my station is in the living room, so we will even occasionally send emails back and forth of amusing video links, separated as we are by 20 feet and a door.  He is not supposed to talk to me if I am trying to write a blog post, and I am not allowed to distract him if he’s contemplating a move in any of the 20 games he is generally playing at a time.  This is our quiet time.

But naturally, he was compelled to send me a link to the new G-Star Raw adverts, featuring young Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen, and I was obliged to be terribly amused.  Magnus is a 19-year-old Norwegian chess prodigy and the third-youngest Grandmaster in history, achieving the ranking at just 13 years of age.  As per Wikipedia: (more…)


Once you get out of school, it becomes harder for the bullies among us to persecute people online, which is obviously a real shame.  Sure, for the junior high set there’s been MySpace and the high schoolers have the Facebook, and college and grad students have the benefits of JuicyCampus or other social boards to slander and libel their peers (click on any of those links for a good time!), but what of us grown-ups, out in the real world?

I mean, LinkedIn and Viadeo have been great professional networking tools, but I’ve often found them lacking – where’s the free-for-all forum where I can launch personal attacks and deride my colleagues for their laziness, brown-nosing, or just being giant whores, with the comfort of anonymity?

Well, the internet isn’t about to fail us, hence the advent of the professional and anonymous peer review board, Unvarnished.  Unvarnished allows users to dish about their co-workers’ job performances from the safety of their home computers and is fresh out of beta testing.  The concept is similar to Amazon user reviews and, if it isn’t already obvious to you, can be abused just as handily.  From Time Online:

It’s a concept that has caused some controversy, particularly since Unvarnished allows employees to be reviewed anonymously and with no way of removing a negative review. But the co-founders, veterans of sites like LinkedIn and eBay, think there’s a market for honest, unfiltered feedback about how individuals perform in their jobs and say their site will ultimately be more useful than the carefully selected job references or curated blurbs on someone’s LinkedIn profile. “We’re trying to take how professional reputation works in the offline world and port that online,” says co-founder Peter Kazanjy.

Yeah, you bet your ass there will be a market for it.  A sweaty, grimy, desperate black market.  Because why launch a whisper campaign within your organization when it might be traced back to you, when you can simply put it online and remove the risk of accountability, not to mention ensuring that your grievances will be available, forever, to potential employers and contacts worldwide?  It’s the future, y’all. (more…)

Recently I was forced onto Facebook under my own name by my company, which wants its employees to have social media profiles. For about three years or so, I’d been on FB under a fake name, mostly just to stay in touch with my far-flung girlfriends who are generally like-minded about most things.

But now, I’ve been forced to accept as friends people who are mere professional colleagues, for the most part. And I am starting to hate many of them.

Who knew that polite federal employee who has always been helpful to me was a Glenn Beck fan who frequently posts links to that jackass’s show on his wall? He’s now been hidden from my newsfeed, but even so, sometimes I can’t help but go and look, and the comments of support on his wall from right-wing lunatics who believe the Tea Party people are the way of the future have honestly caused my blood to boil. The things these people believe are frightening, erroneous and fucked up. I must refrain, however, from taking them on because I am now representing my company. (more…)


CatGradMiniMy dad sent me a link to a Wikipedia listing featured on BoingBoing about cats with fradulent diplomas.  The Wikipedia article compiles a list of cases in which cats have been enrolled in suspected diploma mills, resulting in degreed felines and prosecution of the academic institutes in question.  To wit:

“Colby Nolan is a housecat who was awarded an MBA degree in 2004 by Trinity Southern University, a Dallas, Texas-based diploma mill, sparking a fraud lawsuit by the Pennsylvania attorney general‘s office.[1]

Colby Nolan belongs to a deputy attorney general. In looking to expose Trinity Southern University for fraud, some undercover agents had the then six-year-old Colby Nolan obtain a bachelor’s degree in business administration for $299. On the cat’s application, the agents claimed that the cat had previously taken courses at a community college, worked at a fast-food restaurant, babysat, and maintained a newspaper route. Then the school informed Colby that, due to the job experience listed on his application, he was eligible for an executive MBA for $100 more. The agents then sent for Colby’s transcript, which claimed that Nolan had a 3.5 grade point average.

Jerry Pappert, Pennsylvania’s attorney general, filed a lawsuit against Trinity Southern University upon learning that the cat had received the degree.[2] In the lawsuit, Pappert also told the diploma mill, which had used e-mail spam to sell degrees, to provide restitution to anyone who had ordered a degree from them. (more…)


shadows3Last night, I dreamed about being in the art room in my high school, where I spent hundreds of happy hours with a beloved and encouraging art teacher and a shifting but close group of fellow students over my teenage years.  In the dream, I was alone in the room waiting for someone, assessing the work on the walls and the photographs of students who had graduated before me but were still held in places of honor.

I woke up late and mused on this remnant of dream while in the shower, before fuzzily shifting my thoughts to the workday to come.  Rushing on my way out of the house, I checked the weather and my email (rainy, and nothing but a Facebook message notification).  Swallowing my vitamins, slipping on my coat, and shoving my umbrella in my bag, I paused in my flurry of motion to click on the email message.  It was from my high school best friend Milford, a fellow art student with whom I lived attached at the hip our final year of school.  I could see only a link to a local news article, and a short intro from him: “this makes me sad.”

I couldn’t click on the link directly from my email without signing into Facebook, so I charged out the door, but the possibilities were limited.  Milford and I keep only in sporadic touch, so either one of our old haunts was being torn down or our teacher, Mr. Bleeker, was dead.  I hoped for the former but with the memory of my mundane dream still swirling, I felt a dread foreboding that it was the latter.

Postponing certain knowledge of whatever had made Milford sad, I didn’t sign into Facebook to view the link until mid-morning.  And then it got worse.  (more…)