Mean Gene
Mean Gene
Pittsburgh's most decorated poker blogger, which I admit is like being the best shortstop in Greenland

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My Articles

Presto, the Arlo, & the Hammer
An Online Code of Conduct
The Ethics of Ratholing
"The Professor, the Banker..."
"Ace on the River"

My Columns

Lose the Shades
If You Can't Say Something Nice
Whither the Kicker
The Lady is a Champ?
Covering the WSOP (or not)
Statistics, Luck, and Poker
Poker and New Orleans
Managing a Bankroll
How To Tell A Bad Beat Story
Telling Lies
The Power of Poker Tracker
Advanced Card-Handling

My Greatest Hits

5 Things To Do Before I Die
Cafeteria Nostalgia
Mean Gene's Dubious Dating Tips
Poker and Business?
There's No Such Thing As Luck?
Isabelle, Je t'adore
No Shirt No Shoes No Service
Well, The Food Was Good
Good Morning, Mr. Matusow!
The Weekend of our Discontent, I
The Weekend of our Discontent, II
Books That Left Their Mark
Ode to a Fish Sandwich
Bill Simmons Ain't the Poker Guy
The Sports Guy Still Ain't the Poker Guy
Again, The Media Tackles Poker
Five Years After 9/11
Hitting Pretty Girls in the Face
Sixth-Graders Suck

Fellow Poker Bloggers

Guinness and Poker
Cards Speak
Tao of Poker
Up for Poker
Boy Genius
Chris Halverson
Poker Grub
The Fat Guy
Todd Commish
Poker Works
Bill Rini
Bad Blood
Love and Casino War
Double As
Lion Tales
Paul Phillips
Daniel Negreanu
Poker Nerd
Poker Nation
Poker in Arrears
Human Head
Sound of a Suckout
Chicks With Chips
TP's Table Talk
Royal Poker
This is Not A Poker Blog
Chick and a Chair
Go Be Rude
Poker Cheapskate
Poker & Other Stuff
Seven Two
Musical Poker
WPBT Online
Isabelle Mercier
Cardschat Blog
Amy Calistri
BJ Nemeth
Annie's Blog

Poker Sites

Cardschat Poker Forum
Barstool Sports
Card Player
Internet Texas Hold-Em
Poker Pages


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    Friday, May 06, 2005

    Dammit, I'm a Man!

    Coming to work I heard on NPR that today is Bob Seger's 60th birthday. OK, this isn't quite as epochal an event as the day when Natalie Portman turned 18 (ah, yes, I still remember where I was when I heard that wonderful news) but, anyway, Happy Birthday Bob. Wrote quite a few good songs that I've heard fifty or sixty thousand times. Classic Rock is ingrained deeeeeep in the Pittsburghian airwaves.

    I was pulling into the parking lot as I heard the news, and after I parked I got my new temporary parking pass and stuck in up on my dash. I got a nasty card under my windshield the other day because my old temporary pass was faded from the sun and the numbers close to unreadable. So they threatened to tow my car. Rather a stern motivational technique, especially for the rather laid-back company I work for. Compared to other places I work this place is positively mellow.

    So I used the parking pass to identify that I am allowed to park there. I then entered my building, where I used a swipe card to unlock the turnstiles and let me pass within. Reaching my desk, I logged on to my computer with a company-generated user name and password. I was early, so I entered my password to check my Yahoo mail, and then accessed two mainframe programs I use by entering two different logon ID's and two different passwords.

    Now I'm writing this, after accessing Blogger by entering a user name and password. I have to run to the bank today to make a deposit before I do some light shopping, so I may check my bank balance first, requiring me to enter my social security number, a password I generated, and a password the bank chose for me. For kicks I may check my Neteller account, requiring me to enter an account number, a password, and a "secure" password they select.

    And so, in the course of a few hours, I will have proven my identity on about a dozen occasions, using slips of paper, passcards, and a bewildering array of alphanumeric combinations. The amount of information you need to keep track up just to identify that you are who you are is just staggering. And getting worse every day. Computers can't recognize you by sight, and as online security these days seems to be about as effective as the prison guards on "Oz" were sites require users to jump through an increasingly complex series of hoops in order to ensure that they're dealing with the right person.

    These layers of security are due in large part to your hackers and cyberthieves and basic bad guys looking to hurt you in some way. Which is why, though I'm usually opposed to capital punishment, I've got no problem with putting a few heads on spikes in this matter. Because it costs ME time and money. It inconvieniences ME. You may say, aha, Mean Gene, you're a hypocrite! The death penalty is wrong when it affects someone else, but when hits home you want to run to Home Depot to buy lumber for the gallows. I disagree with your assessment. I am not a hypocrite. Its just that, in this one, narrowly defined instance, I behave in an incredibly hypocritical fashion. So don't tar me with the epithet "hypocrite" just because I do something hypocritical. It isn't fair.

    But back to my point, which is that even moreso than in the past our identities are bound up not in our names or our faces but in a constellation of random numbers assigned to us by various government agencies and monolithic corporations. I've seen this issue on both sides, as I used to work for a bank and had to verify customers' identity over the phone. They couldn't just tell you their Social Security number or PIN#, no no. WE had to be the one who chose the question for them to answer. So we'd ask when their most recent deposit was, or the amount of a certain check, and if the poor soul on the other line couldn't come up with that particular answer, they were outta luck. So I would get into arguments with people who were armed with thousands of fascinating facts about themselves but couldn't supply the one tidbit I needed to reveal their info.

    I understood the absurdity of the situation, but I also understood that I could be fired on the spot if I broke with the protocol. This was one of the main reasons why I hated the job and nearly went loco. Arguing with someone about the fundamental nature of personal identity is fine if you're an actor in a play by Camus, but sitting in a cubicle doing it for 8 hours at a stretch is a drag, man.

    But while the Internet provides us with countless locks that must be accessed by numerical keys, it also give us mountains to race up and then shout from at the top of our lungs. Like the blogs so many of us keep, which I'm sure many of us do because it gives us a chance to speak in our own words, and create something unique that proves to the world that we exist. Even if all we create is a mess.

    Which is why I close with what Bob Seger created back in 1978, a song that, I think, celebrates that primal urge to stand out as an individual, and make our voice heard:

    I take my card and I stand in line
    To make a buck I work overtime
    Dear Sir letters keep coming in the mail
    I work my back till it's racked with pain
    The boss can't even recall my name
    I show up late and I'm docked
    It never fails
    I feel like just another
    Spoke in a great big wheel
    Like a tiny blade of grass
    In a great big field
    To workers I'm just another drone
    To Ma Bell I'm just another phone
    I'm just another statistic on a sheet
    To teachers I'm just another child
    To IRS I'm just another file
    I'm just another consensus on the street
    Gonna cruise out of this city
    Head down to the sea
    Gonna shout out at the ocean
    Hey it's me
    And I feel like a number
    Feel like a number
    Feel like a stranger
    A stranger in this land
    I feel like a number
    I'm not a number
    I'm not a number
    Dammit I'm a man
    I said I'm a man get this widget Please visit Pokernews site for more poker news, poker strategy articles or poker rules.

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