Loudoun County Board of Supervisors representative Eugene Delgaudio is angry about the TSA pat downs that were all the rage in the media during the busy Thanksgiving travel season. But it's not because he finds the pat-downs unconstitutional, or generally objects to America going too far in its dogged attempts to prevent terrorism. Nah, Delgaudio doesn't like the new TSA security procedures because he claims they are part of a wide-scale "homosexual agenda." Let's get crazy, shall we:
Image from Eugene Delgaudio's website.A widely distributed e-mail written by Delgaudio for the Public Advocate about TSA, claims the pat downs are part of a "Homosexual Agenda." And he criticizes TSA's non-discrimination hiring policy.
"It's the federal employee's version of the Gay Bill of Special Rights... That means the next TSA official that gives you an 'enhanced pat down' could be a practicing homosexual secretly getting pleasure from your submission," Delgaudio wrote.
In an off-camera interview, Delgaudio explained to WUSA9 that his assertion regarding this allegedly massive influx of "practicing homosexuals" getting off while sweeping your junk for explosives isn't representative of his position on the County Board of Supervisors, but is instead a stance he promotes as the President of Public Advocate of the United States, a conservative organization which offers Delgaudio a platform to comment on his belief that America is being overtaken by the ghey.
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Google got all the pronunciations, accents, and business names out of its free 1-800-GOOG-411 service it needed to power its voice recognition, so it's shutting down today. But please, please don't ever pay for 411—use these services instead.
We've added the actual numbers for each service in a box under each item, so you can easily scan and plug the numbers into your phone under the "411" or "directory" contact names. And, yes, you can usually just search these things from a smartphone—but far from everybody has one, and sometimes even the smartest of phones can't do much of any data look-ups when you're the most lost.
The Best Equivalent: BING-411 (or CALL-411)
Microsoft more than likely picked up on the good will generated from GOOG-411, during their initial phase of taking on seemingly every single Google project. And a good thing they did, because now BING-411, a.k.a. CALL-411, is left standing tall, on its own.
You can do basic place and business look-ups through the phone service, and I didn't hear any ads while using the service. You can get driving directions to your destination, and text messages are seemingly automatically sent to you when you hit on the business you want (though you can turn that off for your number with another phone call, as described in the FAQ.
Beyond the basics, you can get movie times, traffic conditions, and weather, and share those listings you find with friends by telling BING-411 to send them off. All in all, a great alternative. The voice recognition seemed about at par with GOOG-411, but I didn't have any particularly tricky entries to try that GOOG wouldn't have also tripped up on.
The Text/SMS Equivalent: Google SMS
No matter how many people you tell about Google's free SMS services, dozens more phone owners without browsers or great coverage are still unaware. In fact, you might not have known yourself, eh? Text GOOGLE (466453) with a basic query—the kind you'd type into Google in a browser, but sometimes with a bit more preface. "Movies 12345" gets you general listings for the 12345 ZIP code, while "Red 12345" shows the closest showtimes for that particular movie. Flight status, weather, directions, business lookups—they're all a text away. Time-saving tip: text SET LOCATION, followed by your ZIP code, to provide a default location and never have to type your ZIP again.
The Backup: FREE-411
You'll have to listen to a 10-second advertisement before you can say anything yourself. The voice prompts take a while to let you go, and the phrase recognition doesn't seem as keen as Google or Bing. But FREE-411 has an easy to remember number, and it's still what it promises: free, not exorbitantly expensive through your carrier.
FREE-411 can also text you with driving directions that you set up with your voice, and claims to offer a full set of residential and governmental listings, in addition to business.
Number:Those are our picks for finding and getting to a destination without paying a ridiculously heavy fee. What services do you use, especially if you don't have a smartphone or web access handy?
Send an email to Kevin Purdy, the author of this post, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aiden's favorite thing to do is draw monsters. His family is selling copies of his monster pix ($12 + $3 shipping) to raise money to help pay for his leukemia treatment. Pretty cool if you ask me. I got the Frankenstein one. Which one are you getting? Click here to see his store on Etsy.
To learn more about Aidan and how your purchase helps, please visit www.AidforAidan.wordpress.com.
An embarrassing error on Google Maps has been blamed for Nicaragua’s accidental invasion of Costa Rica. Last week, Nicaraguan troops crossed the border, took down a Costa Rican flag and defiantly raised their own flag on Costa Rican turf.
But the troops’ commander, Eden Pastora, told a Costa Rican newspaper, La Nacion, that his invasion was not his fault, because Google Maps mistakenly said the territory belonged to Nicaragua. Government officials in Nicaragua have also blamed a “bug in Google” for the error.
Now, the Organization of American States and UN Security Council are being called in to mediate the dispute, and find a solution to the problem caused by Google. “Costa Rica is seeing its dignity smeared and there is a sense of great national urgency,” said Costa Rica’s excellently-named President Laura Chinchilla.
The search giant has owned up and admitted to its mistake, saying that an error, by up to 2.7 kilometers, arose in the compilation of the border source data with the US Department of State. It has now received correct and accurate data, and is working on updating the map.
“Cartography is a complex undertaking, and borders are always changing” said Charlie Hale, geopolicy analyst at Google. Indeed, this particular border is a hotly contested issue, with dispute over who owns land around the San Juan River dating back to the mid-19th century.
It’s not the first time that Google’s messed up its maps. Earlier this year, Cambodia hit out against Google’s representation of the Thai-Cambodia border. And in September, Google completely misplaced the Florida town of Sunrise, frustrating local businesses and council officials.
Perhaps the most embarrassing thing for Google, though, is that competitor Microsoft has the border definition right on its maps. If Nicaraguan commander Pastora had used Bing Maps, the entire red-faced incident might never have happened.