Augusto Pinochet’s beverage preferences are a matter of national security

Date:June 15, 2004 / year-entry #236
Tags:non-computer
Orig Link:https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/oldnewthing/20040615-00/?p=38883
Comments:    26
Summary:It appears that Augusto Pinochet's beverage preferences are a matter of national security. The web site offers the original and redacted versions of the same document, so you can see what sorts of information the U.S. government considers to be worthy of redaction. On a related redactorial note, researchers demonstrated last month a technique for...

It appears that Augusto Pinochet's beverage preferences are a matter of national security. The web site offers the original and redacted versions of the same document, so you can see what sorts of information the U.S. government considers to be worthy of redaction.

On a related redactorial note, researchers demonstrated last month a technique for identifying blacked-out words and phrases in confidential documents.

On a related Pinochet note: In the United States, it has become common for grocery stores to offer "

loyalty cards", which offer discounts on selected goods in exchange for the store being able to track every single item you purchase. Everybody hates these cards but uses them anyway because the non-card prices are often absurd. What people often did when signing up for the cards was to provide bogus information.

My card is in the name of former Chilean dictator "Augusto U. Pinochet".

It turns out that this particular grocery chain has a policy that all cashier must thank the customer by name at the conclusion of the transaction. So after I pay for my groceries, the cashier says, "Thank you, Mr. Pinochet."

Except that it turns out that "Pinochet" is hard to pronounce. (Consensus on this continues to be hard to achieve. Many others claim the correct pronunciation is "Pee-no-chet". I use that pronunciation, too, myself, for no good reason.)

I've been called "Mr. Peanut-Chew", "Mr. P'Notch-et", and "Mr... how do you pronounce that?" (To which I say, "Pee-no-chet. It's a Chilean name." And the cashier says, "Ooh, that's very interesting.") Only one person even recognized the name as that of the man under whose brutal rule thousands of people simply "disappeared".

(I never actually expected the fake name to go through. I assumed that somebody would have recognized it and deleted it from the system. But no, the entry remains. Occasionally, when Pinochet makes international headlines, I consider the possibility that some people may show up at my house looking for him.)


Comments (26)
  1. Ben Hutchings says:

    Why censor the beverage preferences, and other personal details? Probably to hide the fact that the CIA was close enough to Pinochet for these details to be easily available to them. But doesn’t everyone know by now that the CIA sponsored the coup?

    Using his name on your store card is perhaps in poor taste. What if you were served by a cashier who knew one of the "disappeared"?

  2. Moi says:

    On sharing names with infamous people –

    There is a recent case where a man by the name of Slobodan Milosevic had his bank account frozen until he proved that he was not in fact a former Yugoslav president <http://de.news.yahoo.com/040601/336/4235t.html&gt;

  3. Steven Livingstone says:

    Due to Pinochet’s lack of intelligence and failure to grasp even the basics of the Spanish langauge he used to make up his own words and phrases. If anyone ever tried to correct him he would say "It is pronounced the way i say it". Therefore to get the actual pronunciation of his name you would have to ask him… but as he’ll hopefully be in prison soon you better make it quick.

    I agree with Ben here also – being married to a Chilean and having lived there it is no laughing matter – the first 9/11 which went unheard in many places and was as Ben says sponsored by the CIA.

  4. Eldo says:

    The best bogus name I have ever used was ‘Iama Nonymous’.

  5. Scott says:

    Pinochet’s beverage:

    Say you want to kill him, you see him at a restaurant, you know he always drinks diet coke(?), you know to poison the diet coke.

    Not that he likes diet Coke or that’s why the censored it. I’m not them, I didn’t censor the document. I’m just saying.

  6. Mike says:

    I used the all-too-obvious name "George Orwell" when I filled out my card. I figured the person would take my application and say "uhh, yeah, please use your real name". Instead I was heartily greeted with "thank you, Mr. Orwell". I took my card and replied "Ignorance is strength" and walked out of the store. And thereafter, when I didn’t use my debit card I would be thanked as the author. I’m really stunned how many check-out folks don’t get the reference; I was only called on it once.

    More recently, tho, I started participating as part of The Ultimate Shopper. On my Safeway card I’ve affixed a label containing the barcode from the safeway card of one Robert Cockerham. So now, whenever I and several thousand other participants use our Safeway cards, it gets recorded to Mr. Cockerham’s account, thereby destroying the information-gathering process of the card. And also gives Mr. Cockerham a nice cance of frequent-flier miles.

    -m

  7. Anonymous Coward says:

    One of British colleagues used to sign all credit card receipts with "Void" in the US. She only ever got challenged once, at which point she indignantly pointed out that her name was actually Vanessa Oid. Of course the credit card had her real name which wasn’t any of the above.

    And yes, none of the receipts was ever cancelled. The banks work on a system whereby everything is considered okay, unless someone complains at which point they investigate.

  8. Jim Lyon says:

    My Safeway card is in the name S.A.Feway, but I don’t know where it is. Whenever I meet anyone so inclined, I trade cards. There’s more than one way to destroy the infomation-gathering value of it.

    For QFC, on the other hand, I just ask for a new card each time. They scan the card and ask me to bring the filled-out application next time. I drop it in the trash on the way out.

  9. Eric Lippert says:

    Safeway does not care what your real name is. What they care about is whether you bought the same brand of cereal this week as last week, how many boxes you buy a week, whether you buy them from the front of the store or the back of the store…

    Safeway does not care that you’re using the same card as Bob Cockerham either. They’ll throw away outliers like that.

    I have no particular beef with the cards. However, I don’t shop at stores that lie to me. QFC and Safeway lie to me, so I don’t shop there anymore.

    They try to tell me that by carrying a card around, I get lower prices — which I do not. Groceries did not suddenly get less expensive when they introduced cards.

    They also try to tell me that it is more convenient for me to check my own groceries through a machine than it is to have a trained professional check them for me.

    If they want demographic data on me, great. Fine by me, but don’t deliberately mislead me into believing that it’s of benefit to me!

  10. I lived in Chile for a couple of years while Pinochet was "President" and would walk past his house from time to time. It was interesting to see the armed guards on the wall and in front of the gate.

    If you want to learn about the CIA and the Pinochet coup, rent the moving Missing with Jack Lemon and Sissy Spacek.

    As for the grocery store cards, I’m an 87 year old Asian woman. *G*

  11. mawado says:

    No! No! No!

    As the proud owner of a difficult to pronounce name, I have determined that the correct answer to the question of "How do you pronounce it?" is "Smith"

  12. Tony Cox says:

    "They also try to tell me that it is more convenient for me to check my own groceries through a machine than it is to have a trained professional check them for me."

    Is "trained professional" some sort of code for "clueless teenager" that I wasn’t aware of?

    The main advantage of the self-serve machines is that people are scared of them. Which means that there can be a significant line at the regular checkouts, but no line for self-serve. In that case, I use self-serve.

  13. ddddddd says:

    when a tourist in chile 3 yrs ago chileans told me they use spanish pronunciation rules and say "Pee-no-chet". which is actually a pretty good reason since they speak spanish there, eh?

    americans have similar stupid pronounciations rules like the various bushes and iraqi dictator names

  14. Stan says:

    A friend of mine refuses to get a grocery store loyalty card. In his case, I don’t think it’s the data collection aspect as much as the you-have-to-have-the-card-to-get-the-sale-price aspect.

    When he gets to the register and something rings up as regular price, not sale price, he points out the ‘error’ and when informed that he needed a card to get the sale price, he acts incredulous, and saying, "Well, then, just take the whole cart back!" at which point, the cashier whips out a card from the register and swipes it.

    After a few such performances, I think the employees caught on to his act and just acted along, automatically swiping their card when he got the register.

  15. Miguel de Cervantes says:

    Of course the discussion on the pronunciation of Pinochet is ignoring that the surname is in fact French.

    When buying or returning merchandise to a shop I often use Miguel de Cervantes, or Don Quijote as names, followed by an equally bogus address.

  16. Astro Jetson says:

    I use Astro Jetson, and I get the "Thank you Mr. Jetson" often. I’ve used it for a long time and recently have been getting credit offers for Visa cards. Rutro!

  17. Chris says:

    There are probably more people named Raymond Chen in the world than people named Augusto Pinochet. Safeway probably can narrow their database down to you with the fake name then they would with the real name.

  18. Antti says:

    No-one ever read the applications at our local video rental store (part of a large, national chain). At various times I described my occupation as "brain surgeon", "evil genius" and "video pirate".

    For several months, I had a picture of Elvis Pressley in my work ID pass, because no-one ever looks at the picture. I had Osama bin-Laden’s picture at one stage, but figured being busted for that would get me into trouble.

  19. Nope says:

    Heh! Someone I know (I wonder if he will read this) applied for his comapny id card including a picture of Sean the sheep. He was carpeted for it, apparently, but they did eventually see the funny side and sent him a card with Sean’s picture on as well.

  20. Moi says:

    Following on from the Jetson post above, has anyone compared the names they apply for X with to the offers from other companies they later receive? Tracking them tracking us sort of thing. Hmm…

  21. James Wilkinson says:

    The BBC always pronounces it Pee-no-chay (i.e. the standard French way)

  22. Generalisimo Augusto Pinochet says:

    (Consensus on this continues to be hard to achieve. Many others claim the correct pronunciation is "Pee-no-chet". I use that pronunciation, too, myself, for no good reason.)

    Which is correct, considering that’s how Chileans themselves pronounce it. And, yes I did leave there at one time.

  23. Generalisimo Augusto Pinochet says:

    "Only one person even recognized the name as that of the man under whose brutal rule thousands of people simply ‘disappeared’"

    Or you could phrase that as the man who saved Chile. It all depends on which side of the fence you stand.

  24. George says:

    Many of the local (Puget Sound) cards are transferable. I found this out at QFC when a cashier went nuts that he may have accidentally scanned my Safeway card. When he settled down, he said QFC management told them not to scan Safeway cards. The system accepts them but doesn’t know what to do with the data and apparently throws it out.

    From then on I always scan Safeway cards at QFC at every opportunity but I’ve never had the opportunity to scan a QFC card at Safeway.

    My Safeway card is a dupe of one of the clerks cards anyways that she uses when someones card doesn’t work.

    I found the QFC card in my daughters backpack, so who knows where it came from. Probably my ex-wife.

    I find Albertsons to be the most honest about the cards. And they have a checkbox on their application that says "just give me the card, please."

  25. Josh S. says:

    My friend always signs his debit card receipts as "Mickey Mouse".

Comments are closed.


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