Archive for January, 2009

Replacement for Obama’s BlackBerry

BlackBerry addict Barack Obama is replacing that device with a more secure version:  the Sectéra Edge (a.k.a. the BarackBerry), available from General Dynamics for $3,350, according to CNN.

The BarackBerry (a.k.a. Sectéra Edge)

General Dynamics calls the BarackBerry the only smartphone “that switches between an integrated classified and unclassified PDA with a single key press” though I suppose the Secret Service will want Obama to cover that button (the “Unclassified PDA key” at bottom left) with a label that says “Don’t press this button”…

April 2009 update:

Three months later, we find out that Obama had not replaced the BlackBerry with the Sectéra Edge but was instead using the two together in some secure but clumsy way. That interim solution is about to be replaced by a custom BlackBerry 8830 loaded with software from Genesis Key. Fast Company says the software is called SecurVoice and the bespoke-for-spook BlackBerry  won’t be ready for Obama for a few months.

January 22, 2009 at 2:32 pm Leave a comment

Pumpkinification

Obama Pumpkin 2008Apparently “pumpkinification” is a word, one with a meaning that is impossible to guess if you’re as ignorant as I am of the history of the Roman Empire.  “Pumpkinification” is a satire of someone otherwise undergoing an elevation to divine status (i.e. undergoing an apotheosis).  “Pumpkinification” is the English translation of the first word in the title of the book Apocolocyntosis divi Claudii, written by Seneca the Younger that satirizes the Roman emperor Claudius I.    Pumpkinification’s obscure meaning only makes sense if you known an ancient language or two, since “apocolocyntosis” is a play on the word “apotheosis.”

So I guess SNL was engaging in Obama pumpkinification back when Hillary supporters seem to dominate SNL and Tina Fey made her “Bitches get stuff done” comment.

January 20, 2009 at 4:09 am Leave a comment

Bad Apples at Work

(from martinsphotoart at flickr)This American Life (TAL), the podcast and long-running public radio show, did an episode recently called “Ruining It for the Rest of Us.”  The main story was about an outbreak of measles in San Diego among infants and unvaccinated children; patient zero was at a charter school where 10 percent of the children were not vaccinated because of parental concerns that the vaccines themselves are worse than the risk of the disease.

What I want to focus on is the episode’s prologue, as summarized at the TAL website:

A bad apple, at least at work, can spoil the whole barrel. … Will Felps, a professor at Rotterdam School of Management in the Netherlands, [looked at] what happens when a bad worker joins a team. Felps divided people into small groups and gave them a task. One member of the group would be an actor [hired by the professor to behave] either like a jerk, a slacker or a depressive. And within 45 minutes, the rest of the group started behaving like the bad apple.

Felps does think there’s some evidence that there may be a way to counter the bad apple’s poison pill effects (to mix metaphors). Listen to the first 13 minutes of the stream available here for an entertaining story about the problem and the potential antidote. You can also get the drier versions online by searching for “Felps bad apple”…

January 3, 2009 at 7:37 am Leave a comment


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