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November 13, 2012

Posted by Teresa at 08:05 PM * 71 comments

Via Xeni Jardin, EXCLUSIVE PETRAEUS AFFAIR PHOTOS. Everything you need to know about the CIA Director David Petraeus sex scandal. All photos and headlines are real.

Comments on Scandal!:
#1 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2012, 09:03 PM:

That's certainly one way to look at it. (Makes about as much sense as any other, at this point.)

I expect a soap opera next year: 'Potomac Place'. With shirtless FBI agents. ;)

#2 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2012, 09:30 PM:

I dunno. My feeling is that if you are the chief spymaster of the USA and you can't keep your own affair under wraps, it calls your competence into question.

#3 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2012, 09:37 PM:

I suspect the quibble is with the way that Hurricane Sandy's effects have dropped off the news rotation.

#4 ::: Fox ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2012, 09:43 PM:

Naomi @3 - that's what I got as well: the disconnect between the photographs and the headlines was, I thought, meant to make us wonder who on earth should give one chocolate-frosted damn about a Tampa socialite's e-mail when Far Rockaway is still up to its neck in freezing water.

#6 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2012, 10:30 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz - that's the sort of stuff that's important about the Petraeus story, for sure. I wish more people would pay attention to it.

I do feel sad about the Sandy situation, though. I have Internet friends who are going through a variety of troubles in relation to hurricane damage. It was inevitable that it would fall out of heavy news coverage, though

#7 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2012, 12:12 AM:

FWIW, storm damage on Staten Island is on the front page of today's Manchester Union Leader, with a photo.

Along with a front-page story on chainsaw safety for folks who may not work in the woods every day who are trying to clear downed trees themselves.

#8 ::: skzb ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2012, 01:07 AM:

My favorite quote about the business, from the World Socialist Web Site: "Petraeus is a deeply reactionary figure, but he has not been brought down because of war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere. Rather, he has been declared unfit because of perhaps the first reported act that indicates he is human."

#9 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2012, 02:27 AM:

I know people who worked for him, albeit a bit indirectly. He seems to be a fairly human guy (Of all the generals I've known, only one seemed to be a less than human sort; Brig. Gen. Guido Portante... he was a pain in the ass, but I digress).

As to the, "head of the CIA who can't keep a secret, it ties in with the "numbers guy" post Patrick put up. The job of the Director of the CIA isn't to be a spook, it's to manage a lot of data, and present it in a way which gets listened to. Panetta, wasn't a spy, but by all accounts he was a pretty good director. Bush Pere wasn't a spy either. He seems to have been ok (his job was to make them look good again, after Vietnam, etc.).

That his tradecraft is weak is a clever quip, but it hides a wealth of material issues which really ought to be looked at.

#10 ::: Zander ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2012, 05:06 AM:

And over here they are milking Jimmy Savile in the same way. We haven't had a hurricane, so what are our lot covering up?

#11 ::: quercus ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2012, 09:18 AM:

I understand the point that destroyed houses are much more important than a couple consenting adults sending steamy e-mails. But I do think it's worthy of notice that the FBI apparently read a private citizen's e-mails without any evidence of a crime, just because a horny FBI agent thought that it might get him laid. After all, it's easy to build more houses, but human rights, once lost, usually take blood to regain.

#12 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2012, 09:28 AM:

quercus @#11--We aren't used to thinking of adultery as a crime. However, Petraeus, although retired, may still have been subject to the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice--generals can be unretired very quickly if they're needed for something), and if Broadwell was still a reservist, so was she. The UCMJ does still consider adultery an offense, because it can cause serious problems for unit discipline and morale. So, while no crime may have been committed by their relationship from a civilian perspective, this is not necessarily the case from other angles.

Also, as a government employee with a security clearance (and Broadwell probably had a clearance herself, and so the same rules would have applied to her) Petraeus would have been warned, and consented to, the fact that his e-mail communications were not privileged and were subject to search.

#13 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2012, 09:30 AM:

There's apparently a lot of other stuff going on there that we don't know about.
The first question is, why did the FBI take it seriously enough to even look at it, when others would be told to take it to their local PD.
The steaminess is a whole 'nother issue, if there even was any steaminess.
(Note that Petraeus had enough sense to not use his official account for this.)

#14 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2012, 09:40 AM:

I am also wondering, in an idle manner, to what extent Petraeus's enemies inside the higher level of the military (and retired military) are gently pushing this--as the big proponent of COIN, he irritated many conventional warfare types, and no one gets to the level he reached without making a fair share of enemies, deserved or not. The whole authorized biography thing, the courting of the press--I wonder if there aren't some out there who felt that Good Ol' Dave had gotten to be a little too big for his britches and was due for a takedown.

#16 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2012, 10:21 AM:

And there's another angle, this may have rendered him unacceptable as a future Presidential candidate.

Hell, every Federal employee I knew was aware that you didn't put anything in email that you wouldn't want to see on the front page of the paper.

Petraeus was a graduate of West Point -- last I heard that institution had a strong ethics code, shame that the General seems to have forgotten it.

#17 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2012, 10:46 AM:

Lori Coulson @ 16: Ms. Broadwell was also a graduate of West Point.

#18 ::: Steve Downey ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2012, 11:21 AM:

fidelio @12 - That would be true if the FBI knew that it was Petraeus's email before they began. But they didn't know that until afterwards. Why were they in that email account in the first place, looking at draft messages?

The apparent answer, at the moment, is because a social planner in Florida asked real nice.

#19 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2012, 11:36 AM:

D. Potter, thanks, I had missed that one.

You know what surprises me the most? That the General, Broadwell, et alia had access to their private email at work.

Most government agencies had access to private email accounts and social media sites blocked on all work computers by Spring of 2009. Of course, it could be that Defense has different rules.

#20 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2012, 12:58 PM:

Ahhh! Military stuff:

1: Adultery, per se, isn't a crime in the UCMJ. Sodomy is, but that's pretty much a dead letter now that DADT is dead, and non-PIV possible practitioners are allowed to openly have obviously sexual relationships.

The only charges which could be laid are Conduct Unbecoming of an Officer, Dereliction of Duty (a stretch), or Violation of Direct Order, but that would require someone who knew about it, and had supervisory authority to have ordered him to cease. Art. 134 is also possible, but only if the affair was, "Prejudicial to the good order and discipline of the service".

That's the catch all which makes adulterous relationships between service members forbiddable, but even that requires some aspect of the affair to be egregious/affect a mission. What it does is allow a Commander to order someone to cease and desist, which then allows for a "violating a lawful order" charge to be made.

COIN... that's a different kettle of fish. It might work, but it was never implemented. His record in Afghanistan is more reminiscent of 1967/68 Vietnam.

As to the FBI... I don't know. That's one of the things the PATRIOT Act makes a lot easier. They had a complaintant. They involved the correct branch of the FBI. The incriminating headers were in e-mail which had been given to them by the recipient.

From there...

Lori Coulson. It may be he was using a non-gov computer. From what I've read it seems they found out who he was from metadata on IP addresses. If he was using a laptop, or a phone, to access gmail by wifi/cell connection, then there isn't the, "used a gov't computer.

That, of course, is a different set of OpSec/Intel/Oversight/ClassInfoSec questions.

But generals are demi-gods,and there is a lot of need to do "work-arounds, some of which are managed, and some are not. I have a friend in a Public Affairs Unit, who needs access to The Net at work, access without the limits that the filters on the servers her commands sets. So they use a personal hotspot, and pay for having the net, which means they could use personal email on a gov't computer.

#21 ::: Terry Karney has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2012, 12:59 PM:

I suspect for shorthands being seen as spammy gibberish.

#22 ::: Phyllis ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2012, 01:08 PM:

#19: Easily got around with a personal wi-fi hotspot.

#23 ::: Mary ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2012, 01:25 PM:

Okay, apart from the fact that I do think you're kind of a bad person if you break your wedding vows in the same way I think you're a bad person for, say, sexually harrassing someone -- because I don't like to see people get hurt -- I do think the general ought to at least have his security clearance revoked. To get a clearance, you're supposed to prove you're unblackmailable, unextortable. It doesn't matter much if you've broken laws, done drugs, cheated on your wife, etc, unless you lie about those things to the government. The act of trying to keep these things a secret means you're vulnerable to people who would threaten to expose them. There's no law against being deeply in debt either, but if the government things it makes you vulnerable to financial temptation, you'll be denied a clearance.

You can't hide your affairs and be CIA Director. It makes you a security risk.

#24 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2012, 02:21 PM:

I haven't been following this closely, but is there any evidence that Petraeus actually was breaking his wedding vows? In the sense that it's entirely possible he had something in there about "cleave unto her only", but it's just as possible he, you know, discussed extracurricular activities with his wife beforehand. People do that, sometimes.

Regardless, you can't blackmail someone with public knowledge. If the only problem is "having an affair makes you turnable", a press conference saying "I had an affair" fixes the problem right quick.

#25 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2012, 05:58 PM:

Terry #20 (and 21):

What got you gnomed was a punctuation issue: no space after a comma between words.

In addition to Art 133 (Conduct unbecoming an officer) and 134 (Offenses prejudicial to good order and discipline), and disobeying a direct order, there's the chance that the guy violated a general order or regulation (Article 92), or made a False Official Statement (Article 107).

The only officer to ever be court-martialed for adultery alone was Chaplain Jensen back in 1972, and he was brought up on Article 133.

I haven't been following this case at all; all I know about it was what was in the page of headlines from the link in the main post, and the comments in this thread. I still have no idea who or what the "shirtless FBI agent" is all about.

But as to the PATRIOT ACT (unconstitutional on its face), the FBI didn't need that to get Aldrich Ames. (Sometimes it seems to me that the FBI takes particular glee in hammering the Company.) Where they seemed to have gotten on board was when it seemed like someone was divulging classified information, to wit, the movement of flag officers. Once they started following that trail, it led to where it led. (I know that you know this, but as to why the movement of flag officers is classified, check out what happened to Admiral Yamamoto.)

#26 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2012, 08:01 PM:

The Onion is covering it as well:

"Widening Petraeus Scandal Reveals Human Race Has Been Having Sex For 200,000 Years",30368/

#27 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2012, 08:18 PM:

Lori Coulson@19

Most government agencies had access to private email accounts and social media sites blocked on all work computers by Spring of 2009

The "most" surprises me. Can't speak for any other agency, but my agency has never blocked private webmail sites. Although perhaps the DOD is more cautious about such things.

Some social media sites are blocked by my agency's firewall (e.g. tumblr) but Facebook and Twitter and others aren't. There are, in fact, links to the agency's Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and Youtube sites right on our public home page. A quick perusal of a few other federal websites suggests that this sort of thing is not uncommon.

#29 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2012, 08:53 PM:

No space after a comma? Ok.

The reason the FBI has such glee in chasing down CIA malfeasance is that non-military,CONUS (that lack of space is really hard to type) Counter-intel is their brief.

Since the CIA has a terrible track record of catching it's own (and Ames was probably given up by the Russians to cover Hanson, and the Costner movie about the mole (No Way Out?) is even more prescient that it looked at the time).

So if they had a CI reason,then it's kitty bar the door.

#30 ::: Terry Karney has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2012, 08:54 PM:

And begins to think he will never be able to meet the style sheet.


#31 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2012, 08:57 PM:

Terry, the comment was again gnomed because there was no space after a comma between two words.

#32 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2012, 08:58 PM:

I think what Jim meant was that having no space after a comma gets the attention of the gnomes.

#33 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2012, 09:21 PM:

One of the more, ahem, fascinating comments I heard on the Petraeus affair was from a woman who was sitting in the same waiting area as me yesterday while I was waiting to get irradiated. She thought that Petraeus should be charged with treason for putting the national security at risk.

I explained that treason could only occur if there were a declared war and Petraeus were aiding the enemy. That had definitely not happened in this case. She didn't appear to buy my explanation. I wondered if I should explain the old crime of petty treason to her, but Petraeus hadn't killed his father (or plotted so to do), so I refrained.

On the other hand, there are some serious issues still hanging fire and I was watching CNN going on, and on, and on, and on about Tampa socialites and shirtless FBI agents. Reality as French bedroom farce. I suppose it's better than Euripedean tragedy.

#34 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2012, 10:06 PM:

Michael I @27, Lori Coulson @19: My agency also does not block private emails, although they did block FB for a while. Now that our agency has its own FB, Twitter, and other social media pages, our access is not blocked for most sites. Even if DoD blocked private email accounts, they probably would have an open wifi point for visitors to have internet access; also, smartphones have apps for social media and can be set up to capture private emails as well as official emails.

#35 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2012, 10:17 PM:

How the general and his lady friend were carrying on their correspondence:

There was a Gmail account. They both knew the username and the password. They could log on, either of them, from any location(and for all we know the only times they logged on to that location were from their homes or public locations), and type drafts. These weren't sent to anyone. They just sat there as unaddressed draft letters.

#36 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2012, 11:02 PM:

There's a commenter at SFGate who's been spamming the stories with a post about how much cooperation Google gives government requests for information, so we shouldn't use Gmail at all. Apparently hse has missed that all of the providers have to respond to those requests.

#37 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2012, 11:10 PM:

Ah... I misunderstood, and thought I was supposed to leave the space out. I gnomed myself.

#38 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2012, 11:14 PM:

Jim Macdonald @35: another way to do something similar is to set up a private blog where the people involved are the only ones who can log in there. It's not quite as secure, but for most purposes it's secure enough - won't show up in any standard search. It's very similar to the private APAs that existed in fandom for many years, like Lilapa, the Wide Open (N) Way or others. With iCloud and Dropbox -- there are less secure but easy ways to do the same.

At the level the FBI can reach: what they did probably isn't secure at all.

#39 ::: heckblazer ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2012, 01:24 AM:

Carrie S. @ #24:

My understanding is that having an affair is not a problem at the CIA as long as both your spouse and your boss are informed of it. I have no idea if that's the case with Petraeus.

#40 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2012, 08:27 AM:

heckblazer @39, given that Mrs. Petraeus was widely reported to be furious (this report apparently originating with a personal friend), I'm guessing she didn't know.

#41 ::: James E ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2012, 09:40 AM:

Terry Karney @37: acting autognomously?

#42 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2012, 10:17 AM:

My guess is that they were trying to avoid being caught in some assumed normal level of surveillance. And indeed, according to the stuff in the papers about this whole scandal, it sounds like they successfully avoided the normal level of surveillance and instead were only discovered when they got much more serious attackers.

As an aside, does it maybe seem a little uncomfortable that very sophisticated powerful people understand they are under surveillance from their own side, and try to avoid it reflexively? I mean, admittedly, this isn't as important as the various misbehaving hot women and powerful men, but I almost suspect that maybe an assumption of constant surveillance of your personal communications all the time might have some kind of unpleasant effects on our society. A really cynical person would wonder how many powerful people with mistresses have had that surveillance tip someone off, and of those, what fraction are being pressured in some direction with that knowledge. And what fraction are influenced in other ways by people with that knowledge.

Ah, but this is tinfoil hat territory. Surely the people who have access to the surveillance data are 100% honest, uncorruptible people who only have the interests of the nation at heart.

#43 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2012, 10:23 AM:

heckblazer, Cassy B: Ah, well then. If she's mad about it, she is of the opinion that he violated the rules, whatever they happened to be. Way to go, Dave.

#44 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2012, 10:32 AM:

Or maybe an autognomic response.

#45 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2012, 10:45 AM:

Michael I @27:

My department was HHS, the agency was the Office of the Inspector General, Audit Services, and only those with a need to use social media for agency purposes had unlimited access to the Internet.

I have been told it was for security purposes, because many of our auditors work on Medicare and Medicaid programs and have access to HIPAA material.

In addition to limiting web-surfing they also took all of the games (i.e. Solitaire) off the machines as well.

#46 ::: cofax ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2012, 03:51 PM:

In addition to limiting web-surfing they also took all of the games (i.e. Solitaire) off the machines as well.

The DOD-proprietary version of Vista now in place on computers throughout DOD and DHS blocks web-mail, FB (even the agency FB pages), Tumblr, Youtube, porn sites, most social media sites (for instance, it blocks Dreamwidth completely and the Livejournal friends-list but not individual LJs), file-sharing sites, and anything listed in the big blacklists as a malware site. It's always a crapshoot, going to a new site, to see whether it can be accessed or not.

They also have no games of any sort. Nor Javascript or ActiveX. And IE is Version 6, which means that most websites don't resolve properly, and about 20% of websites give you a banner encouraging you to upgrade your browser.

And in 2009 or earlier all USB ports were blocked, because (the rumor is) the Russians developed a worm that lived on a USB drive and it infected the Secure computers in the Pentagon. So now nobody can use a flash drive, half the time the CD burners don't work, there's no way to email a file larger than 5MB, and we're not allowed to access FTP sites or file-sharing sites. Conveying information or receiving it can be very difficult.

... not that I'm speaking from personal experience, or anything.

#47 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2012, 06:26 PM:

Lori Coulson @45,

In addition to limiting web-surfing they also took all of the games (i.e. Solitaire) off the machines as well.

In these days of near-universal computer at least semi-literacy this may no longer apply, but my husband the computer tech used to sit a new employee down in front of his/her new computer and instruct them to play solitaire or minesweeper for at least half an hour. It gave them practice in the eye-hand coordination with mouse or trackball necessary to do their jobs, and it took away some of their fear of the machine.

#48 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2012, 08:52 PM:

I'd say 'you mean computers come with games already installed?' but I know better. (We have no games on our machines at work. But there are some online that we were able to get to. Internet Timewasters.) We have nanny software that blocks some, also, although I can go through cached pages to see some stuff.

#49 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2012, 09:01 PM:

IME, Windows comes with Minesweeper installed, as Macs came with the 15 puzzle. Years ago, I thought it might be fun to design a virus for Macs that would switch polarity on the 15-puzzle, so that it became unsolvable. And each time the virus loaded: it would switch it again, so it became impossible to predict whether a given instance of the puzzle would actually resolve.

I have not the computer chops to do this, nor the actual impetus to learn how.

#50 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2012, 11:44 PM:

Years ago there was an article in The New York Times about how various organizations were taking the games out of Windows installs. The reporter found out all the machines at Microsoft still had games, so they called up Bill Gates to ask why. (One of the perks of being The Paper of Record. The other side of this is what happened when they tried to get info on Miyazaki's films, which made me grin for days.) Bill was quick, and bullshit-free. His reply was, basically, "When I get stuck on the phone I play with Minesweeper. If I can do it, anybody else here should be able to do it too." In my opinion, this is the second best short thing he's ever said.

#51 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2012, 12:14 AM:

Okay, I'll bite: what's #1?

#52 ::: Jeremy Leader hasn't actually seen spam in a while ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2012, 01:01 AM:

Sorry about that, I forgot to revert to my usual name on this computer!

#53 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2012, 01:19 AM:

Lori Coulson @45: It's a department thing then, because I am also in HHS, albeit not the OIG. Our computers are all encrypted to prevent any violations of HIPAA, despite the fact that I don't work with human patients. A lot of the social media access began this year, as the departments rolled out their specific pages. The newest thing is an FB-like platform called Yammer, which allows for HHS-wide interactions.

#54 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2012, 04:09 AM:

Hasn't Marilee Layman reported using a game, maybe Tetris, as a check on her medical condition?

#55 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2012, 04:17 AM:

Yes, I can recall Marilee saying that she's meant to play some Tetris every day, and if she does worse than a certain level, to check with her doctor.

#56 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2012, 10:55 AM:

Ginger, it was one of the really frustrating things about my job. Very few of my fellow employees realized that they had to turn their paperwork (timesheets, training reports) in to me in order for me to have something to do.

At one time I was responsible for typing the audit reports as well, but they shifted that to the auditors. I lost count of the times I heard "why isn't she busy?"

It was a feast or famine situation -- if we were up against a deadline (end of pay period, end of fiscal year, end of training cycle) I'd get a deluge of paper and be going balls-to-the-wall to get the stuff in the correct database in time. The rest of the time? Little or nothing.

I would have preferred to be busy -- and I did try to come up with things that could be done in the down times. But Solitaire at least helped pass the it was I became a political junkie, because those were among the websites I could access.

#57 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2012, 11:01 AM:

And I can thank Making Light for pointing the way to Firedoglake...

#58 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2012, 11:45 AM:

Cassy B. @ 47, IIRC that was the original purpose of Solitaire: to teach people how to use a mouse.

Other pre-installed games trivia: In Poland, the American card game of Hearts is sometimes called "Windows Hearts" because that's how people became familiar with it. (The Polish card game known as "Hearts" -- Kierki -- has quite different rules, given at that link. It's basically like Hearts in that you want to avoid taking certain cards, but the cards to be avoided change with each deal. I find Kierki to be a ton of fun and recommend it to all.)

#59 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2012, 02:52 PM:

I've got the feast-or-famine problem, too. One of my irritants is that I don't really have a good graphics program on my computer. When I need a break and have run out of stuff to read, I want to draw. Strangely enough, Word 2010 is actually a much better stop-gap than I would have expected. (It has a spline feature. Problem is, if you move the points on a shape, it resets the splines. Took me some considerable wheel-spinning before I figured that out. Rrr.)

#60 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2012, 02:56 PM:

David Goldfarb: it was years ago when someone asked a question about pioneers in the computer industry. Bill said "I like Steve, but I don't like to hang out with him. He bullies me."

Jeremy Leader: it was years ago when Princess Mononoke was up for an Oscar. The NYT wanted to do an article on him and called up the NY office of Studio Ghibli and asked for copies of his films so they could do an article on him. They said no. The rest of the article had an undertone of "But, but, but, they said NO to the TIMES! Didn't they know who we are! We're the TIMES!"

#61 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2012, 03:30 PM:

On the idea of "feast or famine" with work: my Amazing Girlfriend and I have been discussing our respective working styles. She's fond of maintaining a continual level of productivity, whereas I'm much happier when I work in bursts. So, it can look to an outsider (not - knock on wood - that anyone's had this issue with me) that I'm not working at various points, but when I do work, I'm generally going flat-out until the task is done.

#62 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2012, 04:18 PM:

re 47: Internet surfing apparently was the key to teaching my youngest, Downs-affected kid to read. He has a big thing about YouTube videos (which he watches in a way that can drive onlookers absolutely batty: he constantly drags the "position in the video" bar back and forth. On day I found him typing "animaniacs" in the search bar.

#63 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2012, 04:57 PM:

I use games on my phone diagnostically. Specifically, at the moment, Solitaire. If, when I lose, I indulge in inappropriate pattern-matching, I know my depression is creeping back and take appropriate measures.

Also, Google's "did you mean" functionality has helped both kids' English-language spelling enormously. For obvious reasons, they're not getting English spelling in school, and they've both become markedly less...freeform in their orthography since they started searching for things.

(C Wingate @63: That must have been a wonderful moment.)

#64 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2012, 01:37 AM:

I occasionally use Google as a spellcheck -- when I can't decide between two possible spellings of a word, I search on them both. Generally I'll then recognize the one with more hits as correct, but in the rare cases where even that doesn't work, I'll use the one that gets more hits.

(As a rule, standard spellings get orders of magnitude more hits than nonstandard ones.)

#65 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2012, 02:09 AM:

David Goldfarb @65:

I used to work with a guy (Hebrew native speaker) who used Google to check noun gender in Dutch. He'd search for "het [word]" and "de [word]" and see which had vastly more results.

I tend to grab a native speaker and use a grammatical construction that sounds wrong if it's the wrong way round, but his method was generally reliable. Any errors it perpetuated were, at least, common ones.

#66 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2012, 02:13 AM:

Google as gender check! Cool. I never thought of that.

#67 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2012, 07:41 AM:

abi, 66: oh, I'm telling ALL THE STUDENTS about that.

#68 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2012, 09:16 AM:

I've used Google to check spellings (especially when I knew there were two permitted variants), and also to check common idioms or (in other languages) diacritic placement. The last reminds me of a related use of a spellchecker by a francophone coworker: she knew where the accents should go when writing French but found it sufficiently cumbersome to type them on her American English keyboard that she preferred to type without diacritics and then select the correctly-accented form offered by the spellchecker, essentially using the spellchecker as an IME.

#69 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2012, 08:22 AM:

Lori @ 57: I hear you. My busy-ness level varies depending on how healthy the colony is, and since we do a lot of preventive maintenance (as it were), I'm not always very busy. As a result, over the years I've learned to do other, more administrative things, training, reviews, etc. Then there are the months where no one dares to relax, and there's not a spare moment for anything.

On the gripping hand, I have become a touch-typist, and half-way decent at photoshop.

#70 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2012, 09:01 AM:

C Wingate @63, abi @64. My daughter with cognitive disabilities also enjoys finding things on YouTube. In her case it's a rather eclectic mix of unicorns, airplanes, and "pomp and circumstance" (she's looking forward to her high school graduation).

I vividly remember seeing her display some literacy skills on the computer pre-You-Tube. She was 3 or 4, so late 90s. We had a program called "Bailey's Book House." I had done some hand-over-hand mousing with her using some of the games within it but didn't have any idea how much she comprehended. One game showed an alphabet on the screen and asked you to click letters. She was sitting at the computer with the game while I was piddling around putting away laundry and such. And I started to hear meaningful activity. It would say, "Can you click the B?" and a moment later give some positive feedback like "Good for you!" I could tell by listening that her errors were motor skill errors and not cognitive errors - she'd click next to the letter that was asked for, not on one that looked similar or sounded similar, and definitely not random. At that point she had no speech and didn't even have reliable head shakes for yes or no. I'd been reading to her, and she was in preschool, and you could tell she noticed things, but until that moment I had no idea she knew her alphabet. It was one of those electric raise-the-hair-on-the-back-of-your-neck moments.

These days I understand a lot of kids with disabilities are going great guns on the iPad.

#71 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2012, 01:15 PM:

OtterB: These days I understand a lot of kids with disabilities are going great guns on the iPad.

I've heard that there has been a lot of use of iPads with autistic children, but the first example I learned about was for a somewhat different issue. Shortly after the first iPads came out a mother whose daughter had albinism and therefore vision problems wrote Jobs a thank-you for making something that allowed her daughter to make the letters in books big enough to make reading interesting enough to try. Jobs thanked her for sharing her experience and asked if he could read her e-mail to a "top 100 leaders" group at Apple. (As a side note, from all accounts Jobs could be a big hairy thing, but I always liked that he thought to ask permission to read that letter, even though it was an internal Apple meeting and the mother would probably never have heard that he'd done so.)

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