Tag Archives: USA

US Embassy Tokyo: These Colors Don’t Answer

Finding that my social security card has gone missing, likely thrown out due to hanging out amongst some trash-worthy papers against its better judgement, I looked up the US government here in Japan. Their site is quite helpful and offers a number to call to arrange an appointment for this. I make the call and explain the situation. I’m promptly transferred to the typical machine listing announcements, which eventually tells me to ‘press 2’ for ‘federal benefits and social security’ issues. I press ‘2.’ Within seconds a friendly recorded voice comes on. I expect to hear how much my call is valued and such, so I don’t particularly listen to what is said. There is a dial tone. I must have done something wrong. I call back. I press ‘2,’ listening carefully this time around. All along, the friendly voice had been trying to wish me ‘goodbye!’ click.

I continue trying through the day with the same result. I find this fiendishly clever on behalf of the American government. They can surely reduce the deficit if they can just ensure that any inquiry with the secret phrase ‘federal benefits’ triggers an immediate hang-up of the phone line. Perhaps they have not gone far enough? Google could likely be persuaded to present a 404 error if the same phrase were to be used on the net.

Okay, this was probably just a bad day for them at the embassy. I’ll keep calling during their working hours. It will just take some careful planning to catch them. You see, they work a few hours in the morning, and a couple hours in the afternoon. Those are the normal hours. The exceptions to those hours are the usual: all Japanese holidays (this is Japan), all American holidays (this, umm), and, of course, … Wednesdays.

UPDATE: Got through. Appointment set.

School used student laptop webcams to spy on them at home

So, concerned Mr. School Administrator, so responsible and serious in his duties, remotely activates his secret backdoor into student bedrooms at home to watch and listen to all the goings on?? This is one of the most horrifying abuses of authority showing abominable disregard for privacy, not to mention paedophilia, that I’ve ever imagined! (if true: keep in mind this is just an allegation – nothing proven yea or nay).

According to the filings in Blake J Robbins v Lower Merion School District (PA) et al, the laptops issued to high-school students in the well-heeled Philly suburb have webcams that can be covertly activated by the schools’ administrators, who have used this facility to spy on students and even their families. The issue came to light when the Robbins’s child was disciplined for “improper behavior in his home” and the Vice Principal used a photo taken by the webcam as evidence. The suit is a class action, brought on behalf of all students issued with these machines.

via School used student laptop webcams to spy on them at school and home Boing Boing.

On the district website, LMSD, Superintendent McGinley states that he is “… proud of the fact that we are a leader …” while somehow comparing this situation to their installation of security cameras around the on-campus vending machines. Just Fascinating.

Hopefully this whole matter is just some misunderstanding or I’ll have to lose all hope for the “land of the free.”

Facebook Data Reveal Secrets of American Culture

The blog mentioned in this article has some fascinating information on possible differences between different US regions gleaned from the way different people use and connect within Facebook.

Facebook users in the American West appear to move around a lot, and often have friends throughout the country, while users from Minnesota to Manhattan have connections much closer to home.

And in areas in and around Texas, on the edge of what’s generally thought of as the Bible Belt, the Dallas Cowboys rank higher overall on users’ fan pages than God.

These are just some of the interesting findings about Facebook users recently discovered by Pete Warden, a Colorado-based, British-born ex-Apple engineer who has spent the last six months gathering and analyzing data from more than 215 million public Facebook profile pages.

What he’s discovered just might shed more light on the culture of connected America than the 2010 census.

via Facebook Data Reveal Secrets of American Culture | LiveScience. Also see The Man Who Looked Into Facebook’s Soul.

If you’re interested in this sort of analysis, you might want to check out the Floating Sheep blog. It’s quite incredible.

A mapping tool that you can use to check out a graphic representation of communications of a user of Twitter is over at Mailana. It looks like they also have a similar tool for Facebook friend analysis.