Archive for May, 2006

 Take My Identity, Please

I just can’t win. Between my employer and the Veteran’s Administration, and their penchant for storing my personal data on easily-stolen laptop computers, I might as well just post my name, birthday, and Social Security number right here on my web site and save all those thieves the trouble.

And people wonder why I am so fanatical about privacy issues. Concern over privacy 40 years ago, or even just a decade ago, might have seemed out of place. But today? If you don’t think privacy is important, amid all of the stories of identity theft, you clearly aren’t paying attention. Pardon me if I believe a little paranoia is warranted at this point.

A few years ago, after the release of the movie Catch Me If You Can, I was fortunate enough to hear Frank Abagnale speak at the University of Missouri. Abagnale was the original identity thief, in the days before there were computers or high-speed Internet connections, and after serving prison time, he became a security consultant. During the Q&A period following his speech, he was asked what the average person can do to prevent identity theft. His first suggestion: buy a shredder.

Sage advice, to be sure, however, if you can’t even get your employer or your government to recognize the value of the electronic data that they are responsible for protecting, preventing someone from sifting through your garbage is the least of your worries.

Solving this problem is not easy. Since it’s really just a symptom of a bigger problem that only a Bloody Revolution™ will fix. Despite FDR’s promises that our Social Security numbers would never be used as a form of general identification, function creep over the last 70 years has made his promise a joke. Even individuals who wish to fully exercise their right to privacy, can never take full responsibility for protecting their own personal information, as long as they are being compelled to provide these data to a government with no vested interest in keeping them secure.

 The DaVinci Code

There is no such thing as bad publicity. I’m surprised that the Catholic Church didn’t learn that lesson in 1988 when they turned The Last Temptation of Christ from a mediocre film at best into a certified media sensation. Denouncing a film as heresy is good for guaranteeing it at least another $20 million at the box office.

I heard all of the poor reviews coming out of Cannes too. But they’re *French* for crying out loud! They already *hate* all things American, they’re fiercely proud of their Catholic heritage, and one of the bad guys in this film (at least for the first half anyway) is a Frenchman! How Ron Howard thought he’d get a decent review out of Cannes, I have no idea.

Despite all of the negativity, this is a good movie. If you enjoyed the book, you’ll definitely enjoy the movie. If you haven’t read the book, there is plenty of action and suspense to keep you occupied, but you may be frustrated by all of the puzzles being solved before your eyes. You may want to wait for DVD so you can pause it and unscramble “so dark the con of man” for yourself.

 A Unique Mother’s Day Gift

Since this was Dixie’s first official Mother’s Day, I wanted to find a special gift to commemorate it, and you won’t find many gifts more unique than a pirolette from

You send them a profile photo of a person, in our case it was our precious little Noah, and they create a special jig for their lathe and literally turn your head into a stunning work of art. Inspired by the classic optical illusion of a vase that appears to be two faces nearly touching noses, a pirolette is a completely original way to capture a cherished moment in time.

 Mission Impossible III

I’ve never been a big fan of Tom Cruise — his movie career peaked with Top Gun, in my opinion — and his recent exploits and the surrounding media blitz have done little to endear him to me and many other moviegoers who were on the fence about him. Cruise is tolerable in this role, and this movie is good for its genre, although just a tad preoccupied with gadgets. And NBC’s recently deceased series Heist did the whole false-bottom-in-the-car-over-the-manhole thing a *lot* better.