Posts Tagged ‘WTF’

caveman using stone tool on rockMost readers of this blog will remember, with only the faintest nostalgia, the following watersheds along the timeline of communication and information dissemination:
・The pencil
・The pen
・Carbon copy paper
・Postage stamps (these are not relics . . . yet, although I am grateful for them because they helped put food in my belly, clothes on my back, and a roof over my head as a child)

With this small list in mind I offer the state of Arizona kudos for not only embracing some of them still, but also for its impressive efforts to encompass the breadth of human communication forms since chisel was first put to stone.

We are some years along since Al Gore invented the internet, and the web has offered us some disadvantages and some stunning efficiencies. Consider that we can not only download fillable PDF tax return forms but can electronically file those same documents, with no shortage of important personal information on them; in Arizona we can renew our vehicle registrations online, again with all the pertinent personal data in tow; we can manage our financial concerns online; and the whopper–the federal government has mandated that if you don’t have medical insurance you must sign up via the web and get it–this naturally requires a slew of personal information to be divulged.

There are no shortage of entities which can find us when it’s time for jury duty, send us gentle reminders if we miss a payment, or send any other marketing based upon our current residence and/or age.

No secret . . . we are ‘in the system’, each of us a statistical and numerical part of a brain-melting expanse of database.

So, given the aforementioned, I remain perplexed about the process for attaining a copy of ones birth certificate in Arizona.

It begins with a line. This is not unexpected. All state offices enjoy a good line. This line feeds one solitary public servant whose job is to dutifully sit in front of a computer terminal and look us up in ‘the system’. This fact alone should make the process practically state-of-the-art. But that would mean embracing efficiency and giving tradition the cold shoulder, and government loves tradition.

For the sake of tradition, they take my drivers license (another state-issued document with lots of personal data) and use a scanner to read the bar code on the back. Said servant then pulls a paper form and stamps it with the word “COUNTED,” unsettling in itself.

I am asked to fill out the form and wait for my number to be called; I think God does something similar.

Being no stranger to the digital paradigm I don’t carry a pen with me like I used to many (many) years ago. So I ask, “Do you have a pen?” She hands me the form . . . and a pencil. How quaint.

As I entered the building I could see others filling out forms with pencils, which triggered a series of grating texts to a friend:

“2014 and we have to wait in line to manually fill out a form”
“Christ, it’s practically the Stone Age here.”
“Excuse me, could I borrow your chiseled, pointy thing so I may chip out my info on this clay tablet?”
“How much more Cro-magnon could it get?”

“Feel better now?” she asks. Of course not, and I’m fairly certain she knows this and as any good friend would she patronizes me

“I’m wondering,” I begin again, “if I should use Cuneiform or early Arabaic.”
“Surprisingly, they actually use a verbal form of language communication here”
“I think grunts and rough gestures might be more in tune with the overall ambiance”

She’s come along for the ride, I can tell by her next reply. “Maybe you could move kinda ape-like to the window . . . grunting, of course.”

“That’s pretty funny!” I respond, “I’d do it if I didn’t think they’d deny my request.”

I take my early 17th century paper form–and pencil–and drag my knuckles to a table, whereupon the pencil lead actually breaks the moment I set it to paper. Seriously.

The form asks for all the same information on my license, the same info which I know damn well is staring them in the face on that terminal monitor. In addition they require you to actually fill in your credit card info on this form. Surprisingly, they don’t ask for the social security number, probably because they already have it?

I am pleasantly surprised by how short the wait time is until my number is called (not you, God, the vital records clerk). She, too, asks for my drivers license and the credit I want to use to pony up twenty friggin dollars for the copy of the certificate–$20! Perhaps I shouldn’t expect a happy ending, but at least a smile?

I can sense my annoyance meter slowly rising as I dig out the cards. The clerk at the first window already confirmed my identity and ‘counted” me, and my C/C info is on the stupid form. Why the hell do you need to see it, or, conversely, why must we write the number on the form if we’re going to give you the physical card anyway?


Okay. Whatever. I dole them over and she does her thing. I sign the credit slip, she staples it to yet another piece of paper and says “Take this to window 4.”

Window 4 is where the duplicate birth certificate is printed, from — wait for it — another computer terminal.

In case you’re wondering, in Arizona you can obtain a duplicate BC via mail, but they require the use of a carrier pigeon.

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light through forest treesFar above the clouds we’ve seen, beyond the purview of the stratosphere and troposhpere, the cloak of the universe wraps itself around us at a temperature barely above absolute zero Kelvin.

If God is out ‘there’ in a frozen vacuum then perhaps it makes sense that evil chooses to reside alongside us, where flesh is warmed by our nearest star and spilled blood dries and stains the earth it once lived upon.

How could any incarnation of beauty and purity, of salvation and hope, possibly prevent—much less allow—innocent children to be sacrificed as prodigal lambs at the hands of something so vile and inhumane?

Why would our “God,” as Obama said yesterday, “call to him” those twenty innocent children? I believe they will find their own place in heaven, but I can no more supplant iniquity than I can explain why benevolence would decree violence upon children.

Evil, or any other explicate of a dark nature, is not only inherent to Nature itself but necessary; it provides an uneasy balance, a discord which, perhaps, acts to keep our moral compass properly tuned. But unspeakable evil is a matter which the living can only struggle to conceive of . . . unless one is the embodiment of such fathomless depravity.

The breathable atmosphere which we rely upon for our very existence is but roughly 3 miles above our heads, if that. The processes which create clouds and rain, wind and vivid sunsets, are as wondrous as the glorious space that expands forever in all directions above our little shell.

Perhaps up there, out where mankind continues to pursue answers to profound questions, is Paradise. Perhaps this existence is our close brush with Hell. If peace is ever to be achieved then it must be found within . . . not without.

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Heads buried under the sand—denialismPer usual, my idea for a quick, pithy post about an annoyance turned into a full bodied rant. The inspiration for this scripture of personal contempt is actually fairly innocuous, but only if you’re not paying attention.

The United States Postal Service is currently running a commercial aimed at driving more usage of buying postage online. I’m all about getting everyday tedium accomplished online, paying bills, etc. But this ad starts with a man saying “There’s nothing worse than having to wait in line at the post office . . .” It takes maybe three or four seconds and then it’s on to the rest of the commercial.

Nothing worse than standing in line at the post office? This is supposed to be a motivator for buying stamps online? I have zero issue with buying stamps online, only the implication that there is nothing worse than waiting to buy them at the actual post office. There really is:

• You might rip an excruciatingly loud fart during homily at mass.
• You might get caught waiting to make a left turn after an all too hearty meal of Mexican food (this actually happened to me, and I can assure it is, without a doubt, worse than standing in line at the post office)
• You might find a vein in your hot dog—okay, that’s a dusty, old joke, but it’s still relevant.
• Your doctor may sternly inform you to cut out fried foods. May as well just kill me on the spot.
• You only now learn, from reading my blog, that Soylent Green is made from people.

As trivial as most of those are they all qualify as being worse than the postal premise. It has always struck me how utterly flippant people are in their use of phrases like this. Say it aloud to yourself and listen: “There’s nothing worse than (insert personal lament here)”.

Nothing worse?

How about living in a society that rewards stupidity? “That’s absurd!” you say.

“Please,” I reply.”It’s only absurd in its ease to prove.”

“Where I come from we like to see proof” you boast. Innate curiosity mandates that I ask the natural question, “Where ya from?”

“Missoura.” (That would be Missouri for those of you not from midwest, or those who don’t recognize their own dialect.)

See . . . too easy. “Perfect,” I say, “then you’ll understand my first example.”

LaToya Jackson. She has far more money than you and I (and the other three people who read my blog) combined, hence the ‘reward’ criteria being satisfied). She publicly stated “Victory was served.”

There really are worse things than feeble-minded celebrities (or feeble-minded has beens) being given a few more seconds of exposure. People who would actually claim to look up to her . . . I’m sure they exist. Yeah, that’s worse.

Need more proof that we reward stupidity? Okay.

Let’s synchronize our Wayback Machines to February 1992. Stella Liebeck of Albuquerque, New Mexico, sued McDonald’s for the thrid degree burns she suffered due to the hot coffee she spilled in her lap.

The jury awarded Liebeck $200,000 in compensatory damages. This amount was reduced to $160,000 because the jury found Liebeck 20 percent at fault in the spill [I’d have argued for 100%-JN]. The jury also awarded Liebeck $2.7 million in punitive damages, which equals about two days of McDonalds’ coffee sales. The trial court subsequently reduced the punitive award to $480,000.

$640,000 is a solid award for brazen stupidity. Back to my initial postulation, that there are few things worse than living in a society that rewards stupidity.

I’ll stop at this last one: sharing national breath with a voting bloc as mind numbingly pathetic as its elected representatives. In 2011 our Congress managed to achieve the lowest poll rating—for performance—in our history: a 9% approval rating. How mud-brick-stupid are those who actually gave the thumbs up?

Only marginally dumber than those who keep returning the same non-performers in the first place.

For my money there’s little worse than any individual, collective, society, or nation that willingly refuses to engage their grey matter. Being stupid is not a crime, sadly. But if we could use it as a “revenue source” to reduce our deficit—say, by taxing every day idiocy—imagine how staggeringly fast we could reduce the federal deficit!

Oh, so now you want “everyday stupidity” defined. Well, for starters:
• texting while driving . . . monumentally stupid
• tugging on Superman’s cape . . . Croce said that was a no-no, and would be truly counter-productive, so it, too, is stupid
• leaving your shopping cart in the middle of the aisle . . . okay, that falls more under rude and inconsiderate, but it’s close enough to stupid to be valid.
• saying “Can I get” when ordering something that’s clearly on the menu. Stupid. Period.
• attempting to make meth inside a Walmart so you don’t have to buy all the fixin’s and carry them back to your Airstream home. Oh yeah, someone actually thought this was a smart idea. Not so much . . . that’s not just stupid, that’s f!$*ing stupid—on two counts.

This morsel is far too juicy to let go without a factual—yet entertaining—clipping from the news story:

Police arrived at approximately 6 p.m. as the woman was mixing the unpredictable potion in the back of the store. “When I saw her she had just finished mixing sulfuric acid with starter fluid in a bottle,” says Officer David Shelby.

According to KSDK [television], when questioned, she denied attempting to make meth in the store, but firefighters at the scene say otherwise.

“When firefighters were on the scene she made statements to them that is what she was doing, she was attempting to obtain these chemicals and was in the process of trying to manufacture meth. However, she said she was not very good at it,” said Shelby.

That, folks, is laughably stupid. WOW! “She was not very good at it.” Talk about your inability to polish a turd.

Anybody want to guess what she might say to her cell mate? “There’s nuthin’ worse than gettin’ busted for making meth at Walmart.” In her defense, her use of “nothing worse” in this situation is far closer to truth than what most people use it for. What could be worse?

The whole illegal enterprise could blow up on you. Literally. Frankly, not a waste in my book, because we then have one less moron living among us, sharing our air, voting, etc.

Which brings me to perhaps the ultimate conclusion: there is nothing worse than anything but death. Want to steal someone’s thunder when they proclaim “There’s nothing worse than coffee without cream!” Four words is all it takes.

You could be dead.

That locomotive slams to a roaring halt.

But as I have stated before on this blog, I won’t care about a damn thing when I’m dead—because I’ll be dead. There ain’t nothin’ more final than that. What’s worse at that point? Probably living. Think about it. Would you really want to continue living, coexisting, with whatever killed you in the first place? That would be pretty horrific, and in all likelihood would qualify as being far worse than standing in line at the post office.

When casual conversation allows the “nothing worse” mantra to slip in, before nodding in agreement consider the weighty untruth of the statement: being unemployed with a family to support—likely worse by comparison by a long shot; while having a cold sucks, there are many things worse than that—like cancer; being denied something you deserve or earned because you don’t fit a specific demographic or fulfill a quota—yeah, that’s worse than many things; nothing worse than stampeding crowds on Black Friday? How about the derailment and commercialization of the season—I think that qualifies as worse; any heartbreak or loss . . .

Point made?

So every time you see that commercial the rest of this holiday season, please think of this post. Moreover, I appeal to your greater sense of intelligence and enlightenment (you obviously read!) to take a split second and think before beginning or ending a sentence with the words “there’s nothing worse.”

Unless of course there really isn’t. In which case you should be held in our prayers and God’s grace for the suffering which visits you.

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Ninety percent of what you read below (pre-rant) came from an entry at Dictionary.com entitled Oops! Those aren’t the real words!. I think word etymology can be fun sometimes, even quirky, and this entry is a delightful illustration of that premise. I have made some minor additions, ones which I highly doubt you can’t see. The bit about the graphic at the end is all me.

Did you begin the school day by placing your right hand over your heart and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance? If you were among the many kids who thought “indivisible” was “invisible,” or “liberty” was “liver tea,” you were not alone. We don’t have a definition for liver tea, nor do we believe anyone would drink it, but this common misunderstanding of a phrase is called a mondegreen.

A mondegreen is a misinterpretation of a word or phrase that shares homophony (sounds like) another word or phrase that has been heard.

Not to be confused with a malapropism, which is the unintentional improper use of a single word, mondegreens are often applied to a line in a poem or a lyric from a song – usually with amusing results.

James Gleick, an American author and journalist, believes the mondegreen is a distinctly modern event. “Without improved communication and standardization of language which accompanies it, there would have been no way for this shared experience to have been recognized and discussed.”

Some popular mondegreens include:

• “’Scuse me while I kiss this guy “(‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky from “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix)
• “Alex the seal” (Our lips are sealed from “Our Lips Are Sealed” by the Go-Go’s) — You have to be a serious idiot to screw that one up! C’mon . . . Alex the Seal?
• “Hold me closer Tony Danza” (Hold me closer tiny dancer from “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John) — This is worse than Alex the Seal!

An example of a reverse mondegreen is Iron Butterfly’s 1968 hit “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” which was originally titled “In the Garden of Eden.”

Now it’s your turn – share some of your favorite mondegreens, below. What did you believe were the words to the Pledge of Allegiance or the Star-Spangled Banner?

Better yet, if you seriously thought those lyics were about Alex the Seal and Tony Danza, don’t tell me what you believe the words to the Pledge and SSB were. I think I would cry.

“Liver tea”? Really? Perhaps I should axe you how much time you have spent at a libary.

Now, one last little note — I’m sure you couldn’t help but notice the graphic. I rather like it. I found it while trying to find a better graphic for the Pledge than Dictionary.com had — but here’s the thing: I found this image after I saw one of the Pledge missing the words “under God.”

If you have read my blog long enough you know of my patriotic and American history bent. So seeing an image of the Pledge without the words “under God” shot up a flag as large as Old Glory herself (she’s the flag housed in the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

That ‘godless’ image was from a site hosted by a group who call themselves RestoreThePledge.org. They claim “under God” is a governmental sanction of religion. From their site: ” . . .the words “under God” are clearly a promotion of a specific religious belief.”


Unsurprisingly, they don’t mention any specific religious sect. Liberals and Progressives are killing this country . . . I swear to God.

Our founders came from a wide range of religious affiliations, a large majority of early America being Protestant. Yet scholarship has repeatedly shown that all these men felt the birth of our country was based soley upon the grace of Providence. Faith, and a belief in moral virtue—and God—were intimately entwined in most everything our founders struggled for.

Here is, apparently, the rationale under which these misguided zealots operate,. again from their site: “These words, added by Congress in 1954, are in violation of the First Amendment – “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…”

The Pledge is a law? What the f***? Why haven’t I read about that in my amateur research on American history . . . and while candidly stating my scholarship as “amateur” I am equally convinced that what I know about our history, compared to what they do, could probaly stun a herd of water buffalo.

Saying “under God” in the Pledge breaks no such law. Congress has made no such law. And in case you fece-lfinging simians-cum left wing troglodytes didn’t get the memo I feel it my duty to include the text of the entire First Amendment of the Constitution you so freely use as a desecretory doormat:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Incredibly potent stuff, unlike the grey matter you lemmings call brains.

So, per usual, a lengthy reason for my actions. All that to explain why I chose that picture . . .

Because I believe . . . and because I am an American.

May God Bless the United States of America.

Maybe you drooling simpletons would like to extinguish that from all presidential speeches, too.

* Technorati claim token NDZETN3EZ2V5

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No Stupid People!Everybody has a few they dislike—words which, when you hear them make your bowels stir, like the sound of nails on a chalkboard.

One of my long-time faves is “solutions.” For almost the last dozen years every business seemed to have “your solution.” Ultimately, they typically don’t. I’d much rather see them use “panacea”, a much more elegant word, and really the one they’re wanting to use anyway.

A more useless term seems to be falling into vogue, and it’s exponentially more idiotic than “solutions”: “thought leader.” A phrase like this is potentially the ultimate sin of political correctness. A sure shoe-in for the grassroots efforts of the NAASP . . . the National Association for the Advancement of Stupid People.

These two words together imply a lemming collective mentality, a Borg-like approach of submission to one all-omniscient voice of prosperity.

It’s the new Milorganite* of Economics, the latest in a society-wide cover up for complete ineptness and lack of accountabilty. Bring those houseplants to the next staff or board meeting and let the amazing fertilizing powers of your thought leaders’ words nourish your flora.

I really loathe the ability of morons to bring their wares to the threshold of the English language and then take a glorious dump upon it.

How about you? Does the fact that “funner” appears in the dictionary make you want to claw your eyes out? And no, it is not a legitmate word! It clearly was put in the dictionary to appease the growing lowest common denominator and politicians.

I welcome your caustic replies and, doubtless, valid entries into this bastion of American acceptance

*If you don’t know what Milorganite is you’re in for a treat! Milorganite is created from the sewage sludge of the Milwaukee sewer system. The ‘biomass’ is heat dried to 95% solids. Mistakenly, Milorganite is referred to as a compost, which it is not. Compost are blends of thermophilic organic materials, with higher moisture, lower nitrogen and much higher application rates. Milorganite is sold throughout the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean as a home lawn and golf course fertilizer.

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Some folks are breakfast people—some are not. I happen to be one. I like a good all-American breakfast once in a while, you know, with eggs, hash browns, maybe some sourdough toast and crispy bacon.

Mmmmmmmm . . . bacon . . . . .

Imagine yourself, getting up from a night of slumber, eyes trying like hell to blink open and you can’t quit yawning. Maybe you only have time for a bowl of cereal and a slice of toast, washed down with some fresh orange juice, hot tea, or coffee.

What if I told you you could meld two of the all-American breakfast items together and still remain true to your compressed breakfast of cereal and toast?

Feast your eyes on breakfast ingenuity!

Jar of bacon spread

Don't be stingy — slather it on!

This is no joke!

From the site BaconFreak.com:

We make this condiment called bacon jam. you say what? that’s right. We take Niman Ranch bacon and render it down along with onions, balsamic and other spices. we simmer it for a few hours so it is a perfect blend of smoky, tangy, savory, and slightly sweet….basically spreadable bacony goodness! We use it on the skillet burger we serve in Seattle made with grass-fed beef, cambozola, arugula on a brioche roll and our hand-cut french fries. other folks have tried it on baked potatoes, grilled cheese sammys, and even as a base for a vinaigrette.

For a mere $9.99 you can have bacon with your cereal, courtesy of the breakfast platform of choice: toast.

Can you smell it?

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This is — much to my stickler elán — the third time I have found blatant, even egregious, spelling atrocities in a public place. Of the three, this one attempts to be far more inconspicuous, but the Eye of Grammatical Truth will always be drawn to such open displays of spelling apathy.

The signage below seems innocuous enough—a layout of the building my son and I were in displaying the floor layout and fire exits. You can probably find these in most any building you walk into. They’re so commonplace that frankly I don’t typically notice them.

I did notice this sign, but it was my son who actually caught the exposed misdeed.

Fire escape layout sign in hospital

This is posted in a hospital . . . a HOSPITAL!

You can kind of see the circled areas on the layout indicating exits and such. Take a nice gander at the ‘information’ at the bottom of this gem:

Fire exits detail

Possessive exits and I'm a what?

Nice, huh? Note the improper use of the apostrophe in both cases:
• Fire Exits — apparently these egresses own something; probably your keester if you can’t locate them. Erase that troublesome little punctuation mark and you erase their power over you . . . they become simple “Fire Exits”.
• Youre Location — A straightforward statement calling you, the reader of this sign, a “location” . . . in case you don’t see the point you’re is a contraction of you are. What you really want here is “Your Location”, or better yet the old standby “You are Here.” Some existentialist might be offended though; best to be socially neutral and remain vague, if not altogether incorrect.

I should have gone to the nurses station and asked for some aspirin . . . and a bottle of White Out.. *sigh*

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Without having set foot inside you know it’s going to be pricey by virtue of its location—smack dab in downtown Phoenix. Big, modern, high-rise of condominiums called The Summit; twenty floors of upwardly mobile luxury.

street level view of The Summit in downtown Phoenix

The Summit at street level

Back in 2004 these babies started at $300,000 for the smallest unit and went up to $1.2 million for the better-than-sex suites.

I don’t follow real estate close enough to have any idea how well this project turned out, but I know there is some kind of pending litigation on the property. But with lots of speculative investment back in 2004-2005 and Wall Street hitting the flush lever on the economy, things likely ain’t so sweet as they thought.

Chase Field from The Summit

Chase Field — you can almost touch it from your balcony!

Nice enough building though, close to two major sports venues—US Airways Center, home to the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, and MLB’s Diamondbacks home Chase Field, restaurants, and downtown (if you happen to work near there). Our downtown isn’t exactly what I would call “vibrant” but it’s not completely derelict either.

Given all the eyeballs that might potentially be upon it you might think the marketing effort would be crisp and persuasive.

Eh . . . not entirely.

As I walked by on the east side of the building I noticed a large sign placed prominently in the window to entice the young and affluent to step inside and look around. Here’s the sign (lots of reflections in the glass so you you have give it a good looking at):

Marketing sign in large window at The Summit in downtown Phoenix

You can have it all — except spellcheck

Did you catch it?

It stands out like a booger on a white shirt. At once repugnant and mesmerizing in its sheer scope of dumbass.

The placard reads “Have it all in Downtown. An Urban lifestyle in the heart of Phoenix.” I’ll let you drink in the last line. It’s hard to see, but here’s a slightly enhanced selection of it:

Detail of sign misspelling

"Were you can have it all"

F’n amazing!

You’d think, somebody in marketing would have proofed these before telling the printer to proceed.Then again, maybe they did.

My conclusion?

It would seem these folks perhaps suffer from few headaches. You know the saying . . . “No brains, no headache.”
drooling Homer Simpson - no brains, no headache

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Jesus playing football with a child
Rant Ahead!

Unless you’ve been under a rock the last few years, or haven’t followed any form of media whatsoever, then you probably have at least heard the name of Micheal Vick—an NFL star player who was convicted for dog fighting. Ring a bell now?

This little tirade is not about all that stuff . . . however, keep that little nugget in the back of your mind because it indirectly relates to the followig soapbox bluster.

There is an organization named the Southeastern Virginia Arts Association (SEVAA). These folks have publicly stated they are holding a fundraiser to (and here’s where the fun begins!) “honor” Michael Vick. Is that great or what! But wait, it gets better!

They are honoring him because they feel he epitomizes the word “hero.”

A Quick Digression

In a post I wrote just over two years ago (If We Could Be Super) I stated the following:

We love our heroes because they showcase all that’s good about ourselves. I believe the majority of us are innately good and we want to believe in the ultimate good of humanity.

A few months later I posted Of Admiration & Noble Qualities, in which I elaborated upon ‘heroism’ as a construct:

When you read or hear the word hero the immediate thing that likely comes to mind is probably the hero of comic book or movie variety: Superman, Batman, Capt. Jack Sparrow, Robin Hood, Luke Skywalker, etc. . . . But true heroes are not those who punch, shoot, pummel, vaporize or otherwise vanquish their enemies in the name of fulfilling a storyline. They are genuinely men and women of profound moral convictions.

The main gist of the post was to draw the defining line between ‘hero’ and ‘idol’. I made the assertion that heroes are people to admire, people of noble qualities.

Please take a moment and absorb that. Or better yet, take a few minutes and revisit those two posts. I’ll wait . . .

Back To Our Evolving Rant

If you read my blog then I take a measure of comfort in the idea that I don’t need to completely flesh out the subtext for you. I can sum it up in a tidy little statement and move along—the SEVAA is going to honor a convicted dog killer.

Okay, I purposely embellished that a little bit . . . sorta.

Michael Vick did do his time. He completed his sentence as the law dictated. By most accounts he is genuinely remorseful for what he did and is truly working to put it behind him. I give him credit for that. He played very well for the Philadelphia Eagles last season, and the NFL awarded him Comeback of the Year. He actually had to earn his spot on the team when he returned from prison, it wasn’t handed to him. I’m not defending him, just setting the facts out there in the interest of fairness.

As I said, the Vick conviction/past is not the underlying story here. A mere three words bridge the preceding story and the one to come: honor and convicted felon.

This is a good point to introduce you to SEVAA president Michael Muhammad. What Mr. Muhammad lacks in knowledge he more than makes up for in chutzpah, good ol’ big-time American balls. You see, the SEVAA are intensely proud of their fundraiser and its namesake. In a press release, the group says it chose Vick because of his “resilience in overcoming obstacles” and becoming “a true example of life success for all to emulate.”

[imagine your favorite cricket chirp here — make it two, to heighten (or dull) the drama]

Clearly they left out the part that tells the story of how Vick’s circumstances were not something life dealt to him; they were a choice he made and paid the price for. The “obstacle” was of his own doing. But I guess that’s the fast track to heroism these days.

And This One Time, At Band Camp . . .

Surely, if you have any sense of my tendency for wordiness you realize I haven’t arrived at the true sticking point yet. A car won’t overheat until it gets good and warmed up, right? It doesn’t blow right away; Yellowstone’s Old Faithful even takes a while to build up pressure before unloading.

Mr. Muhammad must have been poked a few times with the media stick because he felt compelled to justify his organization’s honoree selection as follows:

People talk about Michael Vick as a convicted felon, well so was Jesus Christ, yet he was able to do things above and beyond the naysayers to the point that we all recognize him today as Lord and Savior.

Forget that the structure of that sentence is mangled to the point of roadkill. That’s the least of my annoyances. Allow me to go to the opposite extreme and say that I’m not all uppity about a reference to Jesus. For Christ’s sake, John Lennon said the Beatles were bigger than Jesus, and they made out alright.

The Honorable President Michael Muhammad gets this so very wrong from a factual, and empirical, perspective. That really punches my card. But the real kick to the groin is yet to come. Let’s cover a little history here, shall we?

Through The Hostile Sands Of Time

Around 5-6 A.D. a delegation was sent to Caesar Augustus in Rome fervently requesting that Rome annex Judea to the empire. Judea had long been under Rome’s domination, but it wasn’t officially part of the empire. Judea was a critical piece of Middle Eastern real estate as it sat smack dab between Syria and Egypt. A burgeoning Roman empire meant lots of soldiers and citizens to feed, and with three grain crops a year coming out of Egypt the mighty Augustus couldn’t afford to let Persia (modern day Iran) muck things up by conquering Judea. So he annexed it.

What followed, as part of the annexation process, was a census. This is where Joseph and Mary come into the picture. You all know this part of the story.

Around 35-36 A.D. a man name Pontius Pilate was made provincial governor of the region. As is customary during the week of Passover he traveled into Jerusalem with a small contigent of Roman soldiers to make sure the various ethnic factions didn’t get out of control. He was just about done for the week when the Sanhedrin showed up demanding that Pilate take mortal action against Jesus.

Shut The F*** Up!Yoo hoo, Mr. Muhammad . . . I understand what you are trying to achieve here, but you’re completely wrong in referring to Jesus as a convicted felon. Get your damn facts right, lest you earn the ever-popular Have-A-Cup badge of Honor—’cause I know you’re really into the whole ‘honor’ thing.

I’ll help you out here, since apparently nobody in your group grasps the biblical enormity of your stupidity: Pilate himself tells the crowd that Jesus had commited no crime whatsoever under Roman law, and since the locals are the ones who asked to be placed under Roman law then Jesus was clearly innocent. Pilate requests to be shown proof that the man had broken the law. I won’t keep you in suspense: no proof was given.

Fact 1: Under Roman law, Jesus Christ had broken no law, given not the least offense. Ergo, he was definitively not a felon.

The Sanhedrin tried pulling the blasephemy card—they had met amongst themselves and declared him guilty of such charges. Again, Pilate reminded them that blasephemy was not a crime under Roman law. The council insisted that they could not put him to death themselves, only Rome could. For the Jewish people to do so would be to commit murder, which would violate Roman law.

Fact 2: Even Jesus hates the Yankees!. Woops . . . how did that get in there. What I meant to say was even though Jesus wasn’t a Roman citizen he had certain individual protections under its laws.

Someone in the crowd yells “He goes around calling himself King of the Jews!” The Sanhedrin nod and pat one another on the back, telling Pilate this is treason, which is an act punishable by death under Roman law. They threaten to notify Caesar Tiberius of Pilate’s refusal to mete out proper punishment on treason charges if he didn’t comply with their demands.

Understand that Tiberius has been likened to Joseph Stalin based on his level of paranoia of those around him. Tiberius would swiftly execute any governor who was weak on treason. So Pilate was sensibly concerned. But he remained absolutely convinced of Jesus’ innocence. He sent one of his staff off to find a loophole, something he could use to get himself and Jesus off the hook.

Fact 3: Jesus was a teacher. In case you can’t wrap your feeble mind around the concept allow me to clear it up for you: he was a tee-chur. For the record (and future reference) so were Socrate, Budhha, and Confuscious. All teachers, all figures who have had almost incalcuable impacts on the history of mankind. Not a one of them wrote a book, believe it or not. Nor did they play football. Imagine that. Now look at those four names again—those might be better suited to be honored as “heroes.” I’m sure Virginia has a large number of military vets who have served our country who would equally qualify for such honors. But they’re not famous. I get it.

The only thing Jesus did was show up the Pharisees. In their absence he would preach at masses. The difference was that people began to listen to Jesus and even follow him; he had a certain Gallilean je ne sais quois. The more people followed him the more the Sadducees and Pharisees took notice. They viewed him as a political and ecumenical threat to their very existence. Try as they might they couldn’t pin anything truly criminal on him. Best they could do was shoot the moon with the treason charge.

Eventually Pilate’s officer returned with just the loophole he needed; an obscure tradition wherein the governor could pardon one prisoner per year during the feast of Passover. But by this time the crowd had been whipped into a cold-blooded frenzy and clamored for the true convicted felon, Barrabas. Vick wasn’t near the crinimal Barrabas was, I’ll grant you that, Mr. Muhammad.

Fact 4: The Jewish rabble collected before Pontius Pilate unanimously chose Barrabas—the real convicted felon—to be released by Pilate. Pilate never convicted Jesus of any crime. To be sure I am clear I shall repeat myself again: Jesus was not convicted of a crime by Roman authority; he was sacrificed by his own people. That does not satisfy the definition for “convicted felon” Mr. Muhammad.

Pilate had Jesus flogged to try and quell the crowd’s blood lust. It was accepted at the time that forty lashes with a whip would likely be fatal, so Pilate sentenced him to 39 lashes. When Pilate asked Jesus to respond to the charge of treason the bible tells us he asked “Are you the king of the Jews?” Different books give different answers, but Jesus in essence replies “If you say I am.” Pilate desperately wanted to help Jesus, but after the crowd chose to have Barrabas pardoned his hands were tied. The general practice of crucifixion was the only option Pilate had.

The View From 33,000 Dollars
(you thought I was going to say “feet” didn’t you)

What the hell does thirty-three large have to do with any of this? Funny you should ask.

Turns out the good (if not entirely brilliant) folks of the SEVAA held a little soiree, the Afr’am Festival, about a year ago, and hired out police officers and Sheriff’s deputies to provide security. They still owe these gentlemen, you guessed it, $33,000. They’re banking on the $100-a-plate fundraiser to be a huge success so they can pay the officers back. I’m not against holding a fundraiser to pay down your debts. Not at all. But I am completely against the offensive manner in which they approached this one.

The SEVAA invoked (via mouthpiece Muhammad) Jesus in analogy to Vick. As if that weren’t distasteful enough, Rhodes Scholar Muhammad slanders a beloved figure like Jesus Christ, and for what . . . $33,000?

I have publicly stated before my stance on organized religion—it’s not my thing but I understand it works wonders for some people. I’m amazingly comfortable with that. I prefer to carry my faith and belief with me instead of strapping on the dogma and almost draconian constraints of a ruling theological body. Having said that, even I wouldn’t be so stupid as to slight an iconic figure like Christ. You can make fun of most any other iconography you like, from Mickey Mouse to Bugs Bunny, Charlie Chaplin to Charlie Sheen, Tiger Woods to Tony the Tiger, but you don’t mess with figures which have done more to spread a positive message and assist mankind in not eradicating itself over differences of opinion.

Jesus, people . . . think before you say something stupid!

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Dear Cox Communications,

As a long-time customer I feel it is my duty to question how effectively you have used all the money I have paid you. I, and the rest of your customers, have seen my monthly bill rise more than $30 per month is less than five years, so I would presume it would be for such things as technology upgrades to benefit your customer base.

Of course there have been all the investment costs and tax increases which you have never hesitated to pass on to us. After all, you must keep gas in all those vans and trucks so your technicians can arrive late for their three-hour-window appointments.

All the corporate greed aside, I was much affronted today when I called about my bill. The lady who took my call was nice enough, and she answered my question promptly and efficiently. I wasn’t offended by her at all.

I am personally offended by your blatant pandering to those of us who are not American. It’s subtle, I’ll grant you that.

See, when I called, I got the usual automated phone tree. That much I expected. What I didn’t expect was this:

“If you wish to conduct your call in English, press 1.”

Are you fucking kidding me?

You are a company operating in America. You’re not even an international conglomerate. You are an American company. Guess what language we speak here? Since you apparently haven’t any damn clue let me help you: We speak English here.

Understand, I have no problem with those companies who outright prompt, in Spanish, to press 1 or 2 to conduct the call in Spanish. But to ask me to conduct the call in the language of the country you are operating in is incredibly offensive–that is, if you’re an American.

If you’re a staunch Obama Socialist Progressive, please wait in line and a representative will ignore you unless you contributed to the election campaign.

The next time I’m in the market for internet service I may very likely look to your competition. I can depend on you to raise my rates to keep your profits up, but I can’t depend on you to know that English is our primary language.

So why the hell I’m bothering to complain about it in writing is beyond me. Chances are good you pay your lawyers to read. Do they speak English?

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