Do Abusive Cheapskates Have a Reasonable Expectation of Privacy?

A recent article at AOL Jobs has been today’s Internet sensation. It seems a pastor stiffed a waitress and added a snotty note on her receipt about giving 10% to God, so why does a server deserve 18%? A followup article at The Consumerist prompted an update of the original article, but it raised an interesting question or two. (Read both articles for the relevant facts.)

receiptgrab

A lot of people are focusing on Applebees’ firing of the person (not the server involved in the incident) who posted the picture. That individual said later, “I did my best to protect the identity of all parties involved. I didn’t break any specific guidelines in the company handbook — I checked.”

As readers, we’re on the horns of a dilemma, because douchebaggery of this nature is very appropriately outed… or wait, is it? Is this fodder for an article over at Not Always Right (here is a delightful example) or is it senseless voyeurism of the kind we would expect to find in the National Enquirer or People magazine?

Well, I don’t read either of those publications (although I am a proud owner of a copy of The Irrational Inquirer, a parody edition by Larry Durocher and Tony Hendra), but I find both angst and satisfaction when reading about ignorant behavior toward those who serve the public, especially when it’s richly rewarded.

The “pastor” (and I use the scare quotes deliberately) left her nasty note in public, and so on the one hand her shame should be public. On the other hand, I think the poster of the photo made some tactical errors by reporting the incident without removing any PII (personally identifiable information). As much as I was sorry to hear she was fired, I think I have to stand with Applebee’s on their personnel action – the posting of the photo was a breach of expected privacy, even if the person involved was a total jerk. You’ll notice that “Not Always Right” is very careful to give only the kind of store and a generic location, and never reveals names, dates, or identifiable places.

Moral: If you’re going to out the douchebaggery, make sure you do so in a non-identifiable way, or you might just lose your situation!

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Der Rise und Fall of German Publications in the USA (und some odder schtuff too).

According to the Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University, the first German-language publication appeared in the USA in 1732. This number fluctuated at levels under 10 until 1797, when the Pennsylvania Dutch population began to increase, peaking at 626 German-language newspapers available in 1894. Other than Pennsylvania, the largest German populations were centered around New York, Chicago and Milwaukee.

German1

I was born and raised in New York, and spent 9 years living in the heart of Yorkville, Manhattan’s German enclave in the 50’s.

l

136790

I often remember my mother speaking of Kleine Konditorei, although I have no memory of  ever going there, but there was a Turnverein (gym club) right across the street from our apartment where I went for some gymnastics classes.

turn

The Manhatten Turn Verein building on the corner of 85th and Lexington.

Turn2

I’m not certain if this is the New York location, but the interior looked a lot like this – I remember the rings hanging from the ceiling everywhere.

street

Street view showing my apartment building on the right (my bedroom window is just to the left of the word “Hot”) and the former location of the Turn Verein on the left.

A video recounting the history of the Turn Verein in the United States

There were also several German shops that I recall, including a deliciously stinky cheese shop. Sadly, rising rents and changing immigration laws tolled the death knell for Germantown, and little is left besides the Schaller and Weber grocery and the Heidelberg restaurant.

Aside from a small, anomalous tick upward in 1945 (not surprising, given world events), the number of German publications declined steadily; in 2011, only 42 publications remained, and surprisingly do not even show up on the 2011 map in the Pennsylvania region.

German2

An animated version of the data created by Dan Chang, Krissy Clark, Yuankai Ge, Geoff McGhee, Yinfeng Qin and Jason Wang shows the rise and fall over time.

Der alte Wolf hat gesprochen.

A Hungry Man is At My Door

Cross-posted from Livejournal

Back in 2009, I posted over at Livejournal an entry about Grace Noll Crowell and mentioned that my interest in her had been spurred by a poem that I first read in my high school hymnal, “A Hungry Man is At My Door.”

I had been wanting to find that poem for decades. The advent of the Internet led me to a reference in the index of World Call Magazine, the international magazine for Disciples of Christ – it was published in that periodical in September of 1933.

More digging led me to the Disciples of Christ Historical Society, who – as it turns out – had an archive of that magazine. A phone call led me to a most pleasant archivist who promised to seek out the issue I needed and send me a copy of the poem, and today in my mailbox I found not only the poem, but an extra copy of the entire September 1933 issue.

Miracle! Treasure! Gold-pressed Latinum! All praise to the dedicated archivists who preserve such things, and who are so generous with a casual seeker. I can’t afford a subscription to their membership drive at the moment, but as soon as it becomes possible, it is my intention to show my gratitude in a more substantial manner.

So here, after lo, these many years, is the poem that drove me on my journey of discovery:

A Hungry Man is At My Door
Grace Noll Crowell, in The Christian Advocate

A hungry man is at my door,
What shall I do?
My fire is warm, my loaf is sweet,
And I have you,
Sufficient for my needs… but oh,
The wind is cold.
A hungry man is at my door,
And he is old;
And he is weary, waiting to be fed.
I cannot dine
Until I break in three this loaf
I thought was mine.
I cannot rest beside my fire
Unless I share
Its warmth with him, and find a cloak
That he can wear.
This done — and he upon his way
Along the street —
I find a warmer fire — my loaf
Grown doubly sweet.

It’s no small miracle to me that I remembered as much of the poem as I did, albeit imperfectly. All I can say is that even at that tender and tumultuous age, this simple verse spoke to my heart, and whispered to me of my ultimate purpose, to serve God’s children by raising the human condition.

The poem came more forcefully to mind and prompted me to cross-post this here, because I find myself on the horns of a dilemma at the moment: A hungry child is at my door.

The problem is, the child is an adult – one who has basically been living rough for the last 14 years, ever since leaving home in a ferocious rejection of every value her parents ever espoused.

This young lady is gifted and talented and loves deeply and wants to see good in the world, but lacks the emotional stability to hold down any sort of a job. She wanders the world, sometimes making a bare living with some really kick-ass art skills, other times living on the generosity of friends, or strangers, or just living homeless. I keep thinking she’s hit bottom, but somehow she manages to keep finding new sub-basements, all without having that “aha” moment that spurs other people to clean up their act. In an earlier age, she might have been gathered up and placed in the care of the state – which I wouldn’t object to, because it would mean she’d at least be warm and fed – but our society in its wisdom put a stop to that.

She’s currently in Hawaiʻi (thank God for warm weather!), and apparently gets some assistance from the state down there, but she’s hungry, dammit – and nothing drives a parent crazier than to see a child suffer, even an adult one, even because of lousy choices. Worse, despite having been repeatedly bailed out, she feels lonely and unloved and unwanted, and the sadness around that is unfathomable. Money could be sent, even though I have precious little to send – but it would only be a band-aid, and nothing would change. It’s tearing me apart, and I just don’t know what to do.

Hqiz.

Heads or Tails

Heads or Tails in Different Languages

If you spot something that’s wrong, or a better version, or can add some history, or have a different language to add, feel free to leave comments!

1863-Indian-Cent

Catalan

cara o creu (face or cross)

Chinese (Taiwan):

Chiang chung‑cheng huo meihua (Chiang Kai‑shek or flower)

Czech:

hlava nebo orel (head or eagle)

Danish:

plat eller krone (flat or crown)
Note: My Danish contact has been hunting down the origin of this phrase. It appears no one really knows why “plat” is the word for “heads”.

Dutch:

kop of munt (head or mintage)
kop of let(‑ter) (head or letter)
kruis of munt (cross or mintage)

English:

heads or tails

Finnish:

kruuna tai klaava (crown or shackle)

French:

pile ou face (back or face)

German:

Adler oder Enzian (eagle or gentian) ‑ Austrian variety
Kopf oder Adler (head or eagle)
Kopf oder Schrift (head or writing)
Kopf oder Wappen (head or coat of arms)
Kopf oder Zahl (head or number)
Zahl oder Ähre (number or ear-of-corn) [1950’s]

Hebrew:

עץ או פלה (etz o pali – tree or Palestine)
tur o yas (tower or writing)

Italian:

testa o croce (head or cross)

Malay:

Kepala atau bunga (Head or flower)

Norwegian:

mynt eller kron(‑e) (mintage or crown)

Polish:

orzeł czy reszka (eagle or grate)

Portuguese:

cara ou coroa (face or crown)
cara ou cruz (face or cross)

Russian:

orjel ili reshka (eagle or grate)

Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian:

pismo ili glava (letter or head)
tura ili jazija (tower or letter)

Slovenian:

glava ali napis (head or writing)

Spanish

aguila o sol (eagle or sun)
sol o aguila (sun or eagle) (Mexico)
cara o ceca (face or mintage)
cara o cruz (face or cross)
cara o escudo (face or shield)
cara o sello (face or seal) (Ecuador)

Swedish:

gubbe eller pil (old man or arrow)
krona eller klave (crown or shackle)

Turkish:

yazı mı tura mı  (inscription or tower)

Missing the Storm

From the Weather Channel today for 84651

A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY FOR SNOW REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL NOON MST MONDAY.

* AFFECTED AREA: THE SALT LAKE AND TOOELE VALLEYS ALONG WITH THE SOUTHERN WASATCH FRONT.

* SNOW ACCUMULATIONS: 2 TO 5 INCHES THROUGH MONDAY MORNING WITH LOCALLY HIGHER AMOUNTS.

* TIMING: SNOW… LOCALLY HEAVY AT TIMES… WILL CONTINUE ACROSS THE SALT LAKE AND TOOELE VALLEYS… AND SPREAD INTO UTAH COUNTY BY EARLY EVENING. SNOW WILL PERSIST OVERNIGHT BEFORE TAPERING OFF MONDAY MORNING.

* IMPACTS: WINTER DRIVING CONDITIONS CAN BE EXPECTED ON ALL AREA ROADWAYS THROUGH TONIGHT.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY MEANS THAT SNOW ACCUMULATIONS WILL CAUSE PRIMARILY TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES. BE PREPARED FOR SNOW COVERED ROADS. USE CAUTION WHILE DRIVING.

Payson

National Weather Service map. Payson is the red sphere – right in what seems to be the eye of a storm.

West

Clear to the West, but you can see heavy activity to the North of us.

East

Heavy snow to the North and East.

Us? 48 degrees, windy and sunny. We may get some activity later, but if we don’t I won’t complain – the mountains are picking up a good dose of moisture and I won’t have to shovel as much. The alert says we won’t get ours until early evening, but right now looking at the radar map, we’ll still be on the edge of it, unless the system is traveling southeast.

Edit: next morning – about 4 inches of fresh snow. Looks like the storm was indeed heading southeast. Now it’s partly sunny and colder, but I’m still grateful for the water!

Mnemonics: The Kings and Queens of England

As I wrote about previously, Mnemonics are great. They can help scientists, engineers, mathematicians, physicians, physicists, biologists, astronomers, and just folks like you and me remember long lists of things that would be otherwise difficult to keep straight.

Munroe is brilliant and irreverent – you can see a complete selection of his updated versions here.

In 1969, someone – I never found out who – gifted me with a subscription to a short-lived publication called “Intellectual Digest.” It went out of print in the early 70’s, and in 2010 Tracy Shier attempted a relaunch, which – most sadly – did not seem to take off. But within its pages I remember reading the a poem outlining the kings and queens of England, and for decades I could only recall the first few verses. Now, thanks to the magic of the Internet, I present it here (with a few variations, notably after Queen Victoria.)

First William the Norman, Then William his son,
Henry, Stephen, and Henry, Then Richard and John,
Next Henry the Third, Edwards, one, two, and three,
And again after Richard, Three Henries we see,

Two Edwards, third Richard, If rightly I guess,
Two Henries, sixth Edward, Queen Mary, Queen Bess,
Then Jamie the Scotchman, Then Charles whom they slew,
Yet received after Cromwell Another Charles too. (or, “another Charles, Two” in some versions)

Next James the second Ascended the throne,
Then [good] William and Mary together came on.
Till Anne, Georges four, And fourth William all past, (…)
God sent Queen Victoria, may she long be the last!

(obviously an appendix)

But 60 years later, she too want to Heaven
And next on the throne was her son Edward Seven;
George the Fifth, Edward Eighth (abdication not reckoned);
And at last George the Sixth and Elizabeth Second.

Alternate endings:

(1)

Came the reign of Victoria, Which longest did last,

Then Edward the peacemaker, He was her son,
And the fifth of the Georges, Was next in the run,
Edward the eighth, Gave the crown to his brother,
Now God’s sent Elizabeth, All of us love her.

(2)

God gave us Queen Vic, may her fame ever last.

And after Victoria’s long reign was done
We see Edward 7th and George fifth his son,
and Edward the 8th who gave up his crown
to his brother King George, and this brings us down
to Elizabeth Second, our sovereign today,
Many more years on the throne may she stay.

(3)

God gave us Queen Vic, may her fame ever last.

And after Victoria’s long reign was done
We see Edward 7th and George fifth his son,
and Edward the 8th who gave up his crown
To his brother, George Sixth, who reigned with renown.
Elizabeth Second then takes up the reign
And “God Save the Queen” is echoed again.

It is certain that locked away within the memories of countless souls in the UK there will be other versions as well. Two others which I was able to locate are below:

Willy, Willy, Harry, Stee,
Harry, Dick, John, Harry Three,
One, Two, Three Neds, Richard Two
Harry Four, Five, Six, then who?
Edward Four, Five, Dick the Bad,
Harrys Twain and Ned the Lad,
Mary, Bessie, James the Vain,
Charlie, Charlie, James again,
William and Mary, Anna Gloria,
Four Georges, William and Victoria.
Edward Seven, then George Five,
But Edward Eight preferred his wife.
George the Sixth did then arrive
And Lizzie Two is still alive.

This version begins before Guillaume le Bâtard and ends with Victoria, but contains some additional historical tidbits.

Old Britain was under the Romans
From fifty-five years before Christ,
To four hundred fifty-five A.D.
When her eight states on home-rule insist.

For may a year now they wrangle,
Ah! Yes, for quite three seventy-two,
Being ruled by this king, now that one,
As each might the former o’er throw.

But ever since eight-twenty-seven,
Britains rulers have reigned by descent,
From Egbert, first “Monarch of England,”
To Victoria, daughter of Kent.

A score reigned and fell. – Second Harold
In ten-sixty-six, proud, usurps,
But soon in fierce battle is conquered
By William of Normandy’s troops.

Then came William the Conqueror, a Norman,
Then William the Second, his son;
Then Henry and Stephen and Henry,
Then Richard (Coeur de Lion), and John.

Next Henry the Third, and First Edward,
Edward Second and Third, Richard two,
Henrys Fourth, Fifth and Sixth, and Fourth Edward,
Fifth Edward – Third Richard they rue.

Henry Seventh and Eighth, and Sixth Edward,
Then Mary, Bess, James and Charles First, –
|Eleven years then with no monarch;
Second Charles, Second James, not the worst.

Then William and Mary, then Anne,
Four Georges, Fourth William until
Came Victoria, long live her queenship,
For she wields her proud scepter with skill.

Þe Old Wolf hath goodly spoke.

The Psych-Illogical Dictionary

The Psych-Illogical Dictionary

(Cross-posted from my Livejournal)

Because it deserves to be preserved, and I have found it nowhere else online save a strange file archived in the R&D Informer


After years of hard labor, psychologists William Ickes, Daniel Wegener, and Robin Vallacher have completed their much-awaited masterwork, tentatively titled The Psych-Illogical Dictionary. The following is a sampling from, the opus which will become a regular feature in these pages. Next month: the letter “P.”

Backward Conditioning – The application of saliva to a dog’s mouth in the attempt to make a bell ring.

Battered Children – Children who have been dipped in egg and flour.

Birth Order – In most cases, head-first, feet-last; but sometimes the other way around.

Blind Spot – What Dick and Jane do to be cruel.

Childhood – The offspring of an encounter between Robin and Maid Marian

Client-Centered Therapy – The form of therapy that, in contrast to weather-centered or furniture-centered therapy, deals with the client.

Critical Period – The one that’s late.

Death-Prone Personality Test – A scale designed to identify death-prone personalities (or their remains )

I: The Death-Prone Personality Test
1. Do you look upon your actions as undertakings?
2. Who has more use for your body, you or science?
3. Is your condition grave in more ways than one?
4. Have you ever been the death of a party?
5. Are you easier to jump over than to walk around?
6. Can you wear dress clothing indefinitely without getting, it soiled?
7. Do you have to be seen to be bereaved?

Death Wish – The only wish that always comes true, whether or not one wishes it to.

Dream Interpretation – The art of telling stories better than people who were fast asleep when they thought of them.

Eugenics – The scientific study of persons named Eugene.

Eye Contact – The result off an extremely narrow nose.

Forebrain – What a neurosurgeon calls out before performing a lobotomy with a golf club.

Gross Motor Skill – The ability to suck spark plugs out of an engine.

How Cruel and Unusual Are You Scale – A scale designed to plumb the depths of one’s depravity

How Cruel and Unusual Are You?
1. Have you any prior experience setting orphans on fire?
2. When your puppy goes off in another room, is it because of the explosive charge?
3. Do you agree with this statement? Guns don’t kill people, I kill people.
4. Do you understand the difference between a baby seal and a pelt?
5. Do you think of Bambi and Thumper as fair game?
6. Have you ever had carnal knowledge of cold cuts?

Pilot Study – The area in an airplane where the pilot keeps his books and magazines.

Propaganda – What to do with a male goose that’s slumped over.

Pupil – A small black hole into which much energy is continually poured without apparent effect.

Subconscious – Preoccupied with a long sandwich.

Transference – Generally regarded as a critical I stage of psychotherapy, it occurs when the client’s check clears the bank.

Zen – The complement of now.

From “Psychology Today,” December 1982.