Saturday, March 20, 2010

Thank you for shopping at Wal-Mart, now get the Hell out!

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. – Police say they have made an arrest in the case of a racial comment being made over the public-address system at a Wal-Mart store in southern New Jersey. The Washington Township Police Department said on its Web site early Saturday that an arrest has been made in a "bias incident" at the retail store. The posting says the police and Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office will announce the arrest at a midday news conference.
Washington Township Police declined to comment early Saturday.
A male voice came over the Wal-Mart public address system Sunday evening and calmly announced: "Attention, Wal-Mart customers: All black people, leave the store now." The announcement provoked an immediate apology from the store manager.
Officials for Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc., said the announcement was "unacceptable."
It was unacceptable, but was it illegal? Suppose he had said, "All fat people leave the store" or "all stupid people leave the store?" Would the police be investigating that, too?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Buzzer Kill.

This was a news story:
Anderson Cooper may be a respected newsperson, but the CNN anchor didn't display his extensive knowledge of trivia on Thursday night's "Celebrity Jeopardy!" In a competition with actress Aisha Tyler and comedian Cheech Marin, Cooper tied for second (or, depending on how you look at it, last) place with Tyler, after Marin beat them both.
With a final score that totaled $0, Cooper missed questions about world leaders, geography and literature, among other topics.
By the time "Final Jeopardy" came around, he was so stumped by a question about the author of "The Wizard of Oz" that his screen displayed simply the word "Who."
Who indeed. Like, "Who is on an overrated game show that is supposed to be a test of ones knowledge, when it is actually just a stupid game show?" The answer is: Jeopardy contestants.
It is long removed from the days when Art Fleming hosted what was billed as a test of knowledge. From what I've read, contestants are asked their fields of expertise and the questions (sorry, answers) are catered to their favorite topics. Typical TV nonsense. I guess Cooper missed the pre-interview.
Meanwhile, it's a dopey concept that has lasted over three generations. Answer with a question. OK, the answer is, "This overpaid talking head gets more credit for being intelligent than he deserves merely because he hosts his own nightly news program." The question is, "Who is just about every news anchor on television."
We are supposed to believe that Anderson Cooper is smarter than Cheech Marin because Cooper hosts a news show and Marin portrays a stoner. That's faulty logic on several levels. I would include Aisha Tyler in the discussion, but I don't know who she is. According to TV, she's smarter than Anderson Cooper.
Like a lot of things over the past four years, I found that I have mentioned Jeopardy at least once before.
I wonder, when a contestant finishes with minus dollars, does he owe the show money? There's a program I would watch.
The question is: Who is L. Frank Baum.

Here Comes Treble!

I was standing in line at the supermarket, in front of a guy talking on his cell phone. His friend had apparently sprung some pearl of wisdom during their conversation, prompting him to reply, "Well, you learn something new every day!"
I thought, "No, you don't." It's a nice notion that, no matter how long you've lived or what you've done, you can always stand to learn something. But some days (today included) I didn't learn anything.
What do you learn? Your tolerance for alcohol? How late you can sleep and still arrive at work on time? How long you can listen to your cat whine for food (even though he just ate 10 minutes ago) until you give in and feed him again? Why you shouldn't put regular dish detergent in your dishwasher? How many items you can put on the "10 items or less" aisle before people complain? All valuable lessons, but you already knew that stuff. You just forgot.
Or that a year at Cornell University costs $52,000 and they don't give out any basketball scholarships, yet they can still beat a big-time basketball program like Temple in the NCAA tournament. There's a lesson for ya.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

It's like buying 64 lottery tickets.

It's March, and you know what that means. That's right, woodchuck chuckers, it's March Madness! Since you've probably already filled out a "bracket," I can go ahead and give you my Final Four picks and you can't blame me if you have the same teams.
By the way, why do they call it the "Final Four" when there are still three games left to play? I don't know sometimes. The other thing I get sick of hearing is the word bracket. Check your bracket. How's your bracket? It hasn't even started yet and I'm already tired of hearing it.
Anyway, it's Kentucky, Baylor, Syracuse and Kansas; with Kentucky and Kansas meeting in the final and the Jayhawks winning the thing. I'm also picking Cornell to beat Temple in the first round and Richmond to beat Villanova in the second round, so you know I'm clueless. But I feel like I can tell you, since I spent ten bucks on a pool at work. Chances are, some other clueless person will win. Somebody who picked based on whose mascot could beat the other in a fight or where they would like to go on vacation - in which case my Final Four picks don't stand a chance in Hell - or Syracuse.
It's a nice fill-in between the snow shoveling and the baseball season. The championship game is the same night as the Phillies opener against the Nationals in Washington. I'll be there, but the baseball game should be over in plenty of time for me to tune in the basketball, even with the travel time to D.C.
We bought tickets on Stubhub, the official ticket scalper ... er ... re-seller of Major League baseball. $150 for a club level seat, which may be worth the bucks since April weather is a major crapshoot - much like my NCAA bracket pool. A real gift would be that I win back the money I spent on the tickets, but I think we all know the possibility of that happening.
I've never been to Nationals Park (why would I go?) nor have I ever been to an opening day Phillies game outside of Philadelphia.
I've also never won an NCAA basketball pool.

Monday, March 15, 2010

If I don't send it in, how will they know where I am?

I got my 2010 Census form in the mail today.
There is a proclamation on the front of the envelope that warns YOUR RESPONSE IS REQUIRED BY LAW. Which law? According to the Frequently Asked Questions, it's Title 13, Section 221 of the United States Code, whatever that is. They claim to be able to fine you $5,000 if you do not cooperate with the census, but view it as a last resort.
I wonder why it's necessary at all. The paper census seems like an antiquated notion from the days when The Three Stooges canvassed from house to house with a big book, asking questions. I get the feeling that the U.S. Census Bureau is one of those big government institutions that nobody has the guts to shut down.
For a government with so many budget problems, I'd guess that one of the first places to start cutting fat is with a bureau that counts people with paper mail-in forms. They tell me that my answers will "be used to decide the number of representatives each state has in the U.S. Congress and the amount of government money your neighborhood receives." Oh, you mean that money that our governor told us he was going to cut out of the budget? Sure, we need more representatives like we need another poop chute. I thought this was supposed to be useful information?
When you are born you get a birth certificate. When you die you get a death certificate. You need all sorts of paperwork to enter the country legally. We file income tax forms with the IRS every year (or we're supposed to - now there's a law for ya). You'd think they would have enough information as it is. It seems to me that a paper census would be the least accurate way to count people.
They don't ask a lot of questions. Name, age and race. I wonder how they count people with more than one home or what happens if someone died between compiling the list and getting the forms in the mail. It seems pretty random. It says to "count all people, including babies, who live and sleep here most of the time." Aren't babies people too? That's going to rankle those pro-life people - er ... babies.
The note they sent with the form said to "complete and mail back the enclosed census form today." It's nearly 10:30 at night. I'm not driving to the post office so I can get this thing in the mail today. Don't arrest me if I mail it on Tuesday, OK?
I'll fill it out. My name is Juan Maria Castillo, I'm a 78-year old Asian/Hispanic trans-gender and I live here and in my basement with 11 other people, some not related to me and some here illegally. Now, fork over that big government subsidy so my community can get clean drinking water.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


One of the things we have to decide upon as humans is the impact of things that we do on our daily lives. That is, what benefit do we derive from things that others think is necessary? If you had to make a decision on something based on the benefit it gives you, what would you decide on things like Facebook, Twitter and the now-antiquated MySpace? I'd guess that the benefit is nearly zero, and that you are only on those so-called social networking sites because other people you know are on them. But, when is the last time you did something merely because everyone else does it?
If Johnny Finnegan jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you jump off, too?
That's the question that our parents would ask us whenever we told them that we were doing something because everyone else did it. Somehow, the Facebook and Twitter thing became popular - probably because our friends started doing it and we felt like we should do it too, or else we would be left behind. What we failed to realize is that our friends already knew where we were, and they didn't need an Internet site to know which high school we graduated from or whether we wanted to play Mafia Wars or Farmville - which most of us do not.
So, we became sheep and jumped on. We formed our little page with photos of us with our pets or children (or both) and became part of the "community." It's like that Jim Jones thing, only the Kool Aid doesn't have any flavor.
Mostly, we don't want people to know too much about us. That's what happens when our identity is stolen - they know too much about us. So, why do we feed into it with Internet pages that have our names, places of birth and other personal information? I think it's because we long to be important, but lack the necessary tools to make it happen, so we self-promote on a made-up web page.
I'm not sure what it's supposed to be, other than some sort of self-promotion or "look at me" thing. Maybe that's enough, or maybe it isn't.