Saturday, December 18, 2010


It awaketh. It returneth. It bloggeth.

One has to wonder... well, hopefully, more than one! Are you wondering? One has to wonder why it is that the full extent and impact of the Watergate debacle was felt only after Nixon was reelected. One has to wonder why election reform -- in particular the issue of how ballots are handled, including the dangling chad problem, certainly already known before the 2000 election -- was only whispered about instead of screamed for until after Dubya was crowned. Now one is wondering why it is only after the 2010 elections that results are issued for a study of news networks' levels of mis- and disinformation.

(I guess you might wonder why I awaken, return and blog ater the "compromise" has been passed by a cowardly Congress [excluding from that adjective some noble representatives, such as my own state's upstanding Keith Ellison, who voted no].)

Those of us with a few remaining brain cells could have told you Fox News lied, but would you have believed us? At best you'd have said 1. they only get things wrong once in a while and 2. they didn't do it on purpose, besides which 3. they really weren't that wrong. The truth (remember truth?) is that 1. they get it wrong almost all the time and when they get it right they twist it to mean something else, and 2. they do it on purpose, besides which 3. you still believe them!

For information about the study, check out

If I knew where clues were being sold, I'd buy them up, even without coupons, and put 'em in the water, so everyone could get one. America seriously needs to be clued in, and America seriously needs to pay attention while being clued in.

One of the issues on which America needs to become clueful is that of tax breaks for the very wealthy. Many of you think that the tax breaks either being extended or not (it's all down to Obama's signature now) affect you. (Some of you appear to think there is a tax cut in it for you; there isn't. What there is, though, is the fact that unemployment benefits are being held hostage by those who want the extension of the tax breaks; if the rich don't get a few more years of breaks, unemployment benefits won't be extended, and if the rich do get a few more years of breaks, unemployment benefits will still only be extended 13 more months. Wow, that's fair! Meanwhile, the Payroll tax, from which Social Security is funded, is also being cut.) If you're not one of the wealthiest folks in the country -- in the top two percent -- it affects you all right; they will be getting a tax break at your expense. Others of you seem to think that giving that two percent of the population a continuation on the taxc break they've had a few years already will create new jobs, or at least stop old ones from going byebye. Well... has it worked so far? (Get a clue!) Not al extremely wealthy people have closed their American locations, laying off American workers, and outsourced jobs overseas (let's not even get into the issue of slave labor): just whole bunches of them. Trickle-down didn't work for Reagan (well it may have worked for him personally but it didn't work for America under Reagan) and it didn't work for Dubya and it won't work now or in the future either. Here is a nifty article about some (not all) of the reasons it doesn't and won't: . I don't believe it mentions that the tax breaks are for individuals, not corporations, but apart from that, it explains the situation quite clearly.

Amazingly, those of you who think the incredibly wealthy are going to stop screwing you and create jobs and fund programs you won't let the government fund (which it could if the rich would just pay their damned taxes) also think that immigrants (legal and illegal alike) who pick fruit and clean toilets for virtually no money, so that they can live in appalling conditions and be generally abused) are causing unemployment. If your only employment option is to clean toilets, I can't help wondering why you are so hot to extend tax breaks for people who pay other people to defecate for them and would deprive you of your measly, inadequate unemployment benefits.

Time for you to think.  Time for me to retreat, nap, stop, for the nonce, blogging.

Friday, October 8, 2010


There is a status makng the round in Facebook and it is full of lies. (So what else is new?)  Here is the version I found on my newsfeed:  I will keep the poster and any respondants other than myself anonymous.

if you cross the north korean border illegally u get 12 years hard labor if you cross iranian borders illegally you get detained indefinitely. if you cross afghan borders you get shot. cross the saudi border you will get jailed. cross the chinese border you will never be heard from again.  cross venezuelan borders you will be branded a spy and have your fate sealed. cross teh cuban border you will be thrown in prison to rot. HOWEVER, cross the United States order illegally, you will get a job, a drivers license, a socials ecurity card, welare benefits, food stamps, credit cards, susidized rent or a loan to buy a new house, free health care, the right to vote, and all without speaking a word of fucking english. this should piss Americans off, and I am truly offended by illegals. "Fuck Off, We're Full"

I had to respond, and I did so, thusly (note:  many people are inclined to ignore proper usage of capital letters in common online conversation, be it a private or instant message, an email or a post; I am no exception):

Gail M Feldman:  simply untrue. illegals can't vote; even legals can't vote unless they become naturalized citizens. illegals can get only the most menial of jobs, jobs you would eschew, for well under minimum wage (to whom can they complain?), and no hea...lth benefits. their welfare use, except for food stamps, is minimal; what they do get, they get to support their children, only if the children were born here. no one has children in america just to get benefits, and there are at least two good reasons for that: 1. they only get them FOR the children so they make no "profit" from that and 2. they would not even break even, as the benefits are insufficient even to support a child. i know this because i have BEEN on welfare. i was living on $203 a month.

illegals cannot legally obtain socal security numbers or drivers licenses, but of course can cheat to get them... as can and do natural born citizens, sometimes (more, in fact, and unlike illegals, who only get these things in order to survive, natual born citizens who get them by cheating do so for the purpose of comitting crimes!) they do NOT get free health care. more than half of them actually pay taxes (but do not get, for those taxes, the benefits citizens get). they also pay into social security, even though they cannot get benefits.

not all illegal immigrants are unable to speak english! and some very legal immigrants cannot (my grandmother never learned much english, and she was here legally, thank you very much).


there was a brief response from a (male) friend of the (female) poster's:

still we are full!

now... that means it doesn't MATTER than the original post was vastly inaccurate, and it also is rather meaningless UNLESS you're not actually against ILLEGAL immigration but rather are against ANY immigration.  i tried again:

Gail M Feldman:   we aren't full. when we get full we may as well no longer be america anymore, because america is the melting pot. when we get full we may as well blow up the statue of liberty because her words will no longer be true. and we wouldn't IMAGINE we were full if corporations were not saving themselves billions of dollars at our expense by outsources jobs to third-world countries.

Still ignoring the fact that everything in her original post, at least the part pertaining to America (I have never been to North Korea) was shown to be untrue, the original poster added:
but we are full. We have our own problems, and our own people to worry about, then supporting illegals.. that should be at the bottom of our priority list..
So I tried AGAIN:
Gail M Feldman so does that make any of the untrue stuff true, or saying that it is true, when it's not, right? we aren't supporting illegals. to a large extent, in some areas of the usa, they are supporting US. in most parts of the usa, they're not muc...h of an issue at all. and we are NOT FULL. (but on the other hand, if the duggers would stop having babies, that would help!)

Her friend had the following intellectual contribution:
ok, i get it you like immigrants
Again, note that we keep changing the original topic from ILLEGAL immigrants to immigration itself.  But he wasn't done, and made another post right away:
or if the illegals would stop making money and sending it back to thier families in there home country maybe the value of our dollar wouldnt be going down so much
Then another male friend of the original poster's chimed in:
ya know your g-parents were once illegals :) you should have said Mexicans. They cross and breed.. Woops! Sorry chris hehehahahahahaha!
Well, I was unable to determine to whom this new voice was speaking; nobody who had posted so far was named Chris.  But  I'm pretty stubborn, so I tried yet AGAIN, even though now the first two were just piling one ridiculous unfounded accusation upon another
Gail M Feldman: ‎""ok, i get it you like immigrants""

1. i like or dislike people based on whether or not they're good people, not whether or not they were born where i was born. so yeah, i like some immigrants (such as my grandparents and their parents and siblings) and some i can live without (i won't name names).

2. i thought we were talking about ILLEGAL immigrants; are we now talking also about legal ones?

3, your response indicates that you DON'T get it.

That of course was hostile of me; I try hard not to call name or characterize.  I try hard to stick to facts.  However, when others don't make the same effort, I get testy.  I continued at length, kindly refraining from correcting spelling errors (that just irritates people):
Gail M Feldman:  ‎"or if the illegals would stop making money and sending it back to thier families in there home country maybe the value of our dollar wouldnt be going down so much"

this too is a myth. our dollar is going down because corporations are outsourcing jobs and not allowing american production to regain the quality it once had (not to mention depriving willing american workers of good jobs).

most illegals can only send money home if they, themselves, live in abysmal conditions, sacrificing their own welfare to support their starving families back home. most can't even send anything because they barely have enough to live on. meanwhile they are paying taxes and paying into the social security system, although they get no vote (and i agree, they should not get the vote, but it's not an issue; they don't have the vote and no one is trying to give it to them; the ONLY reason i bring it up is that even so, they do pay taxes) and they don't receive social security. (again, not only is that proper, but no one is trying to give them social security; there WAS a bill on the table in congress that would have provided for FORMER illegals who became legal -- which isn't easy -- to get credit for social security payments they made while illegal, but that bill was tabled and never considered again. it was never voted on and probably never will be. the only reason i bring it up is that despite this, they DO pay social security contributions. so i am being supported at this moment partly by illegal immigrant.)

as it happens, my mother's father's mother was forbidden, back in ukraine, to marry her boyfriend. her folks didnt like him. they arranged for her to marry a rabbi's son, who himself became a rabbi. she had three kids with him and was pregnant with a fourth when he suddenly died. ukraine was a pretty dangerous place for jews to be, and she had no way to survive as a widow with three and a half kids, so she emigrated to the u.s. (her baby was born on the ship!) in new york, she ran into guess whom? her old boyfriend! he told her he, too, had married but his wife had died. since they had been childless, he, too, had emigrated to america. the two married and had more kids. then one day there was a knock at the door. it was my great-grandmother's new husband's SON, coming from the old country to say mama had died. her new husband had lied; he was still married to a living wife at the time he married her, and he had five kids back in ukraine, and one of them was now standing on their doorstep! she forgave him (would you? i don't know if i would!) and they worked very hard to bring the rest of his kids over. yes, that means they sent money out of the united states. horror of horrors! (how come it's okay for big corporations to send money and jobs out of the united states, HUGE money, LOTS of jobs, but we're yapping about some illegal immigrant sending a couple bucks to his starving family?) somehow their doing this did NOT destroy the american economy, or take jobs from americans. my family hasn't got a single drug dealer, rapist or criminal in it (except of course for the bigamist!) we do have a guy who thinks he's jerry lewis, but he was born in philly, as far as i know.

To the original poster's credit, she never devolved into namecalling or told me I was an idiot.  I actually do respect that, by the way, as horrified as I am at 1. the spreading of lies and 2. the lack of logic I continually encounter.  This is how she responded:
 i just think that if you want to be here, make an effort to be LEGAL.. instead of comin here expecting everyone AND there G'PARENTS to pay your way to live here
Well if that is JUST what she thinks, how come her original post was not to that effect and instead said outrageously untrue things designed to stir rage in the hearts of innocent Americans who (since so few people actually know how to check facts) might actually BELIEVE that crap?  But I did not say that.  I said, instead:
Gail M Feldman:  i agree. but it's not always possible, and i would like to point out AGAIN that nobody and nobody's grandparents ARE paying for illegals to live here.


Her response betrayed a wee bit of irritation:

that's crap.. they live off welfar, they can go to the hospital no problem and they can drive a car around with no registration, no insurance, no problem. I support the fact that the DUI checkpoints here in santa maria arent'e vven for DUIS, but for the illegals that go through town. last week, one person was arrested for dui.. 12 were arrested for being illegal and not having permission to even go around in their car.. sot hat's ok then?? to have illegals driving aroud illegally? living here illegally?

To whichof course I had to reply:

no none of that is okay. (and obviouly it WAS a problen; they got caught.) but that doesn't mean all illegals are doing that, any more than the fact that legal citizens sometimes rob banks makes all legal citizens bank robbers. it's not a sensible or logical conclusion.

by the way, NOBODY "lives" off welfare even the lowliest job pays more than welfare.


p.s. i would rather have a sober illegal alien driving a car than a drunken legal citizen doing so.

I should have added that I was speaking from personal experience but I was hesitant to open myself up to accusations such as those I have heard before, born of ignorance, urging me to go get a job (I'm disabled: I was on welfare while waiting for Socia Security to come through; it only took 13 years).  Even so, this was her response:

just because the lowliest job pays more than welfare, doesnt' mean that there aren't people in the USofA that just want to live off welfare and do nothing else

and wether they are drunk or not has nothign to do with it. would you just like a...n illegal driving around not taking any responsibility for his own actions
My response was the last entry in the thread.  She and her friends gave up... posting.  I doubt they ynderstood any of my points, mostly because they did not WANT to understand them.  Understanding them would have obligated them to rethink their positions, or admit their positions were held despite the truth.  Here, then, is how I finished the conversation:
Gail M Feldman:  no but given a choice between the crime of being an illegal alien OTHERWISE obeying the law and a the crime of dui, i find the dui more dangerous.

and yeah there are lazy people in the world. there aren't any more lazy illegals than there are lazy citizens. there is no evidence, much less proof, that illegals are lazier than legals. in fact they tend to work damned hard. i'm not saying people should not obey the law. i'm saying that an AWFUL lot of false accusations are being made.

That was that.  Silence.  The problem is, her original post is viral -- remember, she copied it from one of its many, many appearances -- and people are NOT countering it with facts.  They're responding with "Yeah, kill those illegals, they're all rapists and drug dealers," and they're not talking about Swedish immigrants; they're talking about darker-skinned immigrants, since blue-eyed blondes never commit crimes and are welcome to emigrate here to America any old time.
I can see the tears trickling down Lady Liberty's cheeks.  Someone hand me a tissue....


One of my Facebook friends asked whether Teabaggers actually believe what they say.  I responded thusly:


It is hard to figure, isn't it? I think they all go to some hypnotist and say "Make me believe; I'm gonna talk trash and I wanna be SINCERE."

And then the hypnotist says, "Okay, but first let's sell the election to any foreign power with the moolah to make us all richer than we already are, which of course is almost impossible, and then let's make sure that the trash you talk results in a clean, white, christian, heterosexual, male-dominated America, for I just happen to be white, Christian, hetero and male, and I'm afraid of losing any of the power that currently redounds to that, for I have no inner resources and would not succeed if relying purely on my personal integrity, which, by the way, has anybody seen?"

And then the pols listening to this have not actually understood two-thirds of it, so they nod and say, "so hypnotize me already, Doc, I've got a campaign to run. my opponent is hitting 'em with FACTS. I have to hurry out and drown those with some big bad lies, which is why I need you to swing the pendulum for me in the first place, Doc, so can you hurry it up?"

The hypnotist, not liking to be rushed, adds a little something to the mix when he's got them under, just for spite. and that is why Teabaggers lick their own genitals. BECAUSE THEY CAN (and because no one else will.)

Sunday, September 12, 2010


And all illegal immigrants are not drug lords, come to think of it.

I was involved recently in a discussion of why folks are so dead-set against the building of a Muslim community center not terribly far from (but not at, on or next door to) Ground Zero. To be against it, you have to believe that Muslims are terrorists. Otherwise, why shouldn't a community center be built? Would a church or synagogue arouse such ire? Within the discussion was a mild debate about whether it was fear or ignorance that caused such bigoted reactions, sometimes from otherwise fairly decent folks. My response:

In its way, ignorance is one cause of fear. We always fear the unknown. If allwe know about Muslims is that some crazy ones flew into the Twin owers and killed thousands of people, on purpose, and claimed it had something to do with Islam, then all we know is that Muslims are bad. It's not true, but our ignorance produces that "knowledge," which is scary, so we fear Muslims, and fear becomes hatred.

If we knew any Muslims personally, one of two things would happen: either our ignorance would be counteracted and we would get a better perspective and put our fear where it belonged (it's reasonable to be afraid of terrorists!) or we would cling to our ignorant belief and consider any contradictory evidence either untrue or an anomaly. My mother got this all the time: "You don't look Jewish; you're pretty!" and "You don't act Jewish; you're nice!" and those were meant as COMPLIMENTS! The people saying these things could not reconcile their previous impressions with the new ones and change their beliefs, so no matter how any pretty, handsome friendly Jews they ever met in their lives, even if every Jew they met happened to be cool, those ews would remain exceptions to the previously learned rule that Jews are ugly and mean. So people have to be exposed to the truth but they also need to be taught how to handle it!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Drop Dead (from Frustration), TeeVee

What a brilliant piece of crap.

First of all, the stated premise stinks. Deb -- a sweet, pretty and vapid young model -- dies in a car crash, is accidentally reincarnated, to her horror, as Jane -- a morbidly obese but intelligent lawyer, thanks to a snafu at the gateless intake office of the pearly gates, and from that point on deals with her brainless best friend (who knows the incredible truth), her newly human guardian angel (who got fired for the snafu), her previous incarnation's fiance, who coincidentally works at her law office, and a host of unlikely and potentially embarrassing encounters with her past (her mother, a previously unknown half-sister, a surprise husband), not to mention the challenges of the job itself, which include but are not limited to a boss whose vapidity rivals her own former condition without being tempered by a sweet nature, a bitchy competitor and a cheeky (but supportive) personal assistant, not to mention the actual clients and cases.

Yes, Virginia, that was all one sentence. Get over it.

That was the stinky stated premise. Based on that, we have your basic "oh no, what if someone finds OUT, can she HANDLE it?" on a regular basis. Will Jane make a fool of herself and confess who she is to the plethora of folks who knew Deb and keep popping up? Which will win at any given moment in any given situation: Deb the ditz or Jane the brain? Booooooring. However, there is also the unstated premise, which is that an overweight woman can actually be a cherished human being and effective citizen of the world. To many, in real life, the unstated premise is less realistic than the stated one. It is easier to believe in reincarnation, even in the hazy context of an unspecified religion, than it is to buy that a fat chick can be cool. Sure, once in a while weight becomes a legal issue instead of just a running gag, but it generally takes a back seat to the stupid stuff.

If the creator Josh Berman and his writers had had any guts (pun intended) they'd have just written a show about Jane, and to hell (pun intended) with Deb. Jane without Deb's simper/giggle might not be as much of a challenge to Brooke Elliott, who does the best she can with what they give her, but it would actually be worth watching.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Are You Politically Correct?

Are you politically correct?

May I ask why?

My family raised me to believe, not to say but to believe that human beings should be valued for their character, for their behavior, rather than for the color of their skin, their religious beliefs, their nationality or their physical prowess or lack thereof. They did not tell me I shouldn't say "nigger" or "fag" because other people might get mad; they didn't have to tell me not to say those things, because I was not raised to think those things to begin with.

The concept of PC has set back actual thinking and actual feeling by a million years or so. My way of speaking sometimes elicits scoffing references to PC from persons who, without PC, would probably say the words from whose utterance they now refrain, not because those words offend them but because they've been told (why can't they figure this out for themselves?) that they offend others, make others mad, brand the utterer as politically incorrect, and therefore something of an outcast outside of certain circumscriptions (the KKK springs immediately to mind). I write "s/he" because "he" doesn't cover 51 percent of the population, and for no other reason. I don't have to force myself, grudgingly, to grant homosexuals freedoms enjoyed already by heterosexuals; those freedoms are not mine to grant or withhold, and it would be cheeky of me to pretend they were. Folks who feel compelled to tell others they're going to hell for not being true to themselves really ought to combine meds and therapy in an attempt to control their own compulsions (instead of trying to control other people). Those people may wish to be PC until sensitivity to the beingness of other humans comes more naturally to them. The rest of us presumably know better.

I hope I do not presume in vain.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Guys, I Just Gagged!

I don't drive so I don't need auto insurance. To me, auto insurance ads are merely a source of amusement (Geico), bafflement (Progressive) or annoyance (Nationwide). Isn't it most gratifying to write about annoyance?

There are a few different scenarios; let's take the one in which a nice-looking young woman named Liz places her insurance future in the hands of an obnoxious beyond-nerd who charms her by gagging into the phone while attempting to get her a "brilliant idea." Would you be charmed? I was anticharmed. The advertisers did not make it clear whether we were even supposed to be charmed; Liz never stopped smiling. I did.

Yes, I am aware that the ad was supposed to be humorous. I am equally aware that if I were perhaps 12 years old, male and somewhat dim, it would in fact be humorous. Since my age is almost five times that admittedly interesting age, I am not now nor have I ever been (or wanted to be) male, and I am willing to take a chance on claiming, in your presence, not to be dim, for me it fell flatter than a Minnesota accent (which I think I do not possess, even after more than a decade here). Sorry, Nationwide: if I drove, I would not choose an insurance company that trusts the advertising company or department that came up with this crap. It would make me doubt your judgment in other areas as well (such as auto insurance).

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Everything Changed (Forever)

Plus ca change, plus c'est la même chose. Just when I thought perhaps not every TV commercial was going to invent its own "technology" to woo your patronage (I am still waiting for "shout in your ear technology" for television itself), documentaries of the sort rerun into the ground by the likes of Investigation Discovery, WE TV and the Bio Channel picked up on a new catchphrase. It's not a sales pitch, rather just lazy writing (on top of their existing illiteracy; an interviewee may get away with "just between you and I" and while we cringe, we know the awful phrase was uttered spontaneously; narration, on the other hand, is scripted and supposedly proofread, maybe even edited, and leaves no possible excuse for its mangling of my mommy tongue. This particular bit of lazy writing, this cliché, is "... changed (his/her/their) life(ves_/everything changed (forever)."

Mary was a happy child. Then something happened that changed her life (dramatic pause) forever. (Cut to commercial.)

Crapville was a peaceful town. Little did they know that in an instant, everything would change (dramatic pause) forever. (Cut to commercial.)

It's getting old, folks. I forgive the recaps after every commercial because the docs themselves are so slow-paced I tend to doze off (which is one reason I keep this kind of show on at night) so the recap can actually be helpful; never mind that they exist because their creators are so sure that your average viewer, coming back from the awfulness of television capitalism, is missing a few more brain cells and needs to be reoriented. I am working on forgiving the shameless recycling (it contains little or no new footage). I even forgive the smarmy tone affected by some of the narrators. Could we just have a moratorium on this particular cliché? It would change my life (dramatic pause) forever.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I Listen to Too Much TV

I wrote this on February 18, 2010, and used a blank draft instead of opening a new post. Result: this post ends up with a 2008 date on it, tucked away where it is unlikely to be found. I am therefore copying it and reposting it (minutes, rather than years, after writing it).

Having tinnitis, I listen to too much television. I sleep with it on. I compute with it on. I'm selective about the shows to which I tune in but unfortunately it is not within my power to be selective regarding to which advertisements I am exposed. Therefore I find myself in various stages of mental, emotional and even audial irritation.

Now, Billy Mays is dead, and dead younger than one wants to be dead, and far be it for me to wish someone dead, but since he is dead, couldn't he stop shouting in my ear? And now we have Anthony Sullivan, the purpose of whose existence I have not yet fathomed, trying to be Billy Mays, having reshot a Mays ad for some gadget that lets you play your phone calls over your car radio (not a bad idea but, apart from not being a driver, I would never purchase anything touted that obnoxiously; it only encourages the obnoxious to continue their obnoxiousness) almost verbatim, and in a somewhat Maysian pitch. Sullivan is annoying enough just being himself; trying to be Mays too is toeing the human pain threshhold.

Then there is the creep who thinks if he never takes a breath we won't notice he's talking nonsense; his product, some chopper slicer thingie, may or may not be the eighth wonder of the world, but I can't stand his patter, and someone over at the company that distributes the product agreed with the advertising department or ad agency that it would be a good idea to put this annoyance on the air. My only defense is to refrain from purchasing something I might otherwise actually want.

KMart has jumped onto the screechwagon with a series of ads narrated by a woman with a painfully shrill voice (and how dare she wax so chipper about disturbing my rest!) Light and Fit, on the other hand, slurps at me. I always had to look away during their old commercial: the one in which a slender young blonde woman dispatches some yoghurt, right in the supermarket, with such verve that the sides of the small plastic container collapse inward; she then glances furtively around to see if anyone has witnessed her uncouthness. Now it's worse; in the new ad she is absolutely disgusting, licking the insides of the container, swishing her finger around in it, making the kinds of noises that would get some small children slapped at the table (okay, others would be gently admonished) and being something of a sow. My tum's been rough lately anyway; this ad turns it.

There's more -- oh so much more -- but you probably already know what they are, even if you don't always remember the name of the product (and let this be a lesson to you, o gurus of spin) and I need to sleep now. I just hope the late Billy Mays doesn't wake me up.

photo of Billy Mays courtesy Sharese Ann Frederick

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Shot in the Chest Area and Basically Killed

I may have mentioned that I watch too much television. This is not strictly true; I listen to too much television. To counteract tinnitis (which used to be called tintinnitus but somehow managed to lose a syllable during my lifetime) I sleep with the TV on, often tuned to the Science Channel (which gets noisy -- for some reason they think shows about gigantic cranes are enhanced by relentless heavy metal scores) or Investigation Discovery (slower going but generally less noisy). It is from the latter I am learning, and being reminded, and being rereminded, that Americans can't speak English and policepersons, whether they can speak it or not, are unwilling to do so.

Have I somehow missed some legal reason why "the suspect drove into the garage, got out of the car and tried to run away, so the officer shot him in the chest and killed him" has been replaced by "Upon driving into the garage area, exiting the vehicle and proceeding on foot, the officer shot the suspect in the chest area which basically killed him"? I am not presenting the former as a perfect sentence, but the latter is not only ungrammatical (it says, in fact, that the officer got out of the car, when it is the suspect who did so) but hazy (what is the garage area or the chest area and how do you basically kill someone? Is the left arm, for example, part of the chest area? Is the kitchen part of the garage area, or is the lawn? If you are basically killed, are you more or less dead than if you are complexly killed, or would the opposite be "completely killed"?)

The whole matter is giving me a basic pain in my head area.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Product Placement? Entertainment Replacement!

I am not familiar enough with Jimmy Fallon to have formed an opinion about him before tonight. Talk shows haven't been my cuppa since they stopped being about conversation and started being about cheap shots and cheap laughs (which these days translate to the same thing). However, tonight's show's first guest is Dick Cavett, a person who actually knows how to carry on an interesting -- even fascinating, even intelligent, even enlightening --conversation without shouting down his guest, promoting homophobia or making fools out of random street people or audience members. Therefore I tuned in to Fallon's show and suffered through a fairly lame but only mildly offensive (and old! who pokes fun at Bill Clinton's sex drive anymore? who cares?) monologue, a silly but totally inoffensive "finger skating" segment and a horrible bit of business in which a "preacher" (perhaps meant to bear a vague resemblance to James Brown, or perhaps I missed the real reference?) "preached" an endless Subway commercial (there was a real one in the next break). Now what is the purpose of presenting a commercial (pretty straight after all, despite the obvious conviction of the participants that there was some humor involved) right before a commercial? Everyone knows, and perhaps groaningly accepts, that these late night talk shows have more commercial time than show time to start with. The only justification I can imagine for this stupidity is that the alternative may have been more of the same crap, or worse, that passed for a monologue.

And to think I actually LIKE Subway. At this point I'd rather see a real Subway commercial (and they're not all that amusing) than Jimmy Fallon.

Then Cavett came out and although the conversation could not be called cohesive, it was at least coherent, because Cavett took control of it, told stories without being interrupted, joked without being trumped and actually wowed everyone with a rope trick.

When Cavett was done, I was also done, and I assure you, it will take someone of Cavett's presence to woo me back.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Facebook is going to charge (fill in blank with price) for using its service starting (fill in blank with date)! If you join this group, my father/mother/brother/sister/dog will stop smoking/shooting heroin/voting the wrong way and/or some unidentified person or group will donate some unidentified amount to some unidentified party in aid of the hapless Haitians/their daughter/sister/neighbor with cancer/cancer/cancer. It's all TRUE, hurry up, the sky is falling!

Okay, none of it is true and the sky is only falling a little bit. Relax.

Why don't people do the teensiest tiniest little research before they jump onto the bandwagon that's tipping over into the quicksand? It's so easy! There are reputable sites that bust urban myths and demystify hoaxes. I like Snopes ( despite some minorly annoying popups. Check out as an example of the tug-on-heartstrings scam (the first part of the page shows the various versions of an email that went out over a period of years, after which you may read what the real situation was and what became of the scammer). Here is a general hoax roundup: . To find more hoaxes, just search for "hoax." This result most closely matches the Facebook charge hoax, though it isn't among those mentioned: There are sites other than Snopes, too; in addition, one can always Google the specifics of whatever one has heard.

Apart from all that, common sense seems to be a rare commodity. HOW will joining a specific group send money to Haiti? What PROOF has a group got that Facebook intends to charge? Can it quote a legitimate FAQ, email or article? When you look outside and upward, do you see the sky falling, and if not, do you see any secondary indications that it might be? No? Then RELAX. DON'T PANIC.

(And for God's sake, don't pass it on to everyone on your email list!)

Gaming on Facebook

I've been frittering away my time. I have a good excuse: I am chronically ill and my various types and levels of energies allow me to do only so much, and of only this or that, at any given moment. However, I also happen to enjoy roleplaying games, AKA RPG, and have enjoyed them since discovering Ultima (in JAPANESE, yet!) on Gameboy, some eons ago. I can't help myself.

For a few years I eschewed Facebook involvement, even though I dutifully made a page, populated it with whatever MySpace (totally icky IMNSHO) had asked, to avoid rethinking stuff that hadn't changed, and then pretty much ignored it. I found an old college friend, some people I thought were old friends, turned out not to be and wanted to be Facebook friends anyway, and lots of "friend"-collectors. I was baffled and uninterested.

Recently, though, I've returned to Facebook to find more old friends, current friends, relatives, There friends and WebRing friends... and games. GAMES! Some of them are downright annoying. I am too blind and too laggy to play shooting games, which I don't enjoy anyway. I like the idea of farming, zooing, cafe-running, but can't bear the gameplay in any of the games of those ilks; they afford no actual control to the players over elements that matter most to me (for example, the recipes, or the crops). The farm and zoo animals are, in addition, unbearably cute. I have a low tolerance for "cute."

The first game I enjoyed playing was School of Wizardry. Happily for me, I am almost completely unfamiliar with the Harry Potter phenomenon, so I am not bothered by its association therewith (and possibly, for all I know, plagiarism therefrom/copyright violation thereof -- I am not in a position to know but I have my suspicionsm and if they turned out to be founded I WOULD be bothered); I don't read the actual text. I just "take" the lessons (by clicking), decide which ones to take when, bank or spend the gold, duel, buy "school supplies" or properties, deal with the intricacies of all that per game instructions, increase my order and advance along the pretty rigid lines of the game. I have no idea why this should afford me any satisfaction; there is no story apart from the one I'm ignoring and that is barely a story at all. Yet I do rather enjoy the small decisions that go into playing School of Wizardry.

Unfortunately, the makers of SOW have also produced a few SOW clones, identical in gameplay and differing only in decor and superficial details. Some of them are insulting. World War is SOW in darker colors, with no female character for female players to use (I chose to look something like Martin Sheen as President Bartlett from "West Wing" but would rather have been Mary Robinson or Golde Meir). Pet Wars is just plain obnoxious; it barely even qualifies as cute, but rather strikes me as downright ugly. (Does anyone on Facebook know what a real animal looks like?) City Life: Girls in New York is offensive for its sexist assumptions. I don't spend my energies trying to outwalk fashion models on a runway, and if I had the funds, youth and health my cartoon counterpart had, I would not squander any of it on the activities the makers of this game seem to think females consider the ultimate thrill (I can't remember any of them now; I think an awful lot of them involve lunch at classy New York landmarks, which in itself would not displease me -- I do eat! -- but isn't the be-all or end-all of New York life). Godfather is the Mafia version of SOW and is to me the LEAST offensive, because most people admit they don't actually admire gangsters; this is just acting out, which is in its way healthy.

Treasure Madness does not pretend to be RPG, and involves clicking on squares on different maps, to collect gold, nourishment (for the points to continue playing) and (the object of the game) treasures, in the form of artifacts which can be collected and "secured" in a museum. When a treasure is found, its identification and acquisition must be earned by the playing of a short (timed!) action game, at most of which I am miserably inept. I am not too bad at the memory game but the ones that involve fast mouse clicks to pop little pearls or dissolve stones are only barely doable, and the Tetris and Bejeweled clones too hard. Sometimes I can do the fruit swappy thing (sorry that I don't have this open at the moment to tell you the exact names). Still, I can do enough of them to collect some treasures and feel some satisfaction from the game itself. I don't go there often.

(I should say that because of School of Wizardry, in which the number of one's order members is crucial in winning duels, and which requires that order members first be Facebook friends, I have acquired almost 500 Facebook "friends," with some of whom I have become friendly for real.)

By far superior to any of the above is an almost-real-RPG called Dream World. I only say "almost" because the storyline is so rigid. (Ah, I do miss Might and Magic(s) six through nine!) However, there is a lot to it, especially compared to School of Wizardry and its clones. One chooses a character (one's own photo is the icon, which does not appear as a moving character) and a class (using guns, swords or magic) and proceeds to accept quests from a succession of locations, to which one acquires access as one fulfills the major quests. There are, as with Treasure Madness, puzzles involved, but one need not do any of them to progress (it helps; in Treasure Madness, no game, no treasure!) and they involve thinking rather than just fast clicking. Some of them even involve mathematics and/or logic! There are trivia questions as well. Some measure of humor is buried among these procedings, and best of all, Dream World appears not to be a clone.

All of the abovementioned prevent players from frying their brains too badly, through the device of making one wait from half a minute (Treasure Madness) to six minutes (Dream World) for energy/health/whatever they call them points (without which one cannot make a move) to refresh. Of course anyone determined to roast those cells can do so by playing as many games as possible simultaneously, to avoid waiting, but then this actually exercises said cells, so (hopefully) one breaks even.

There is a Facebook game called Realm of Empires which is even more compelling than any of these and it deserves its own post, so stay tuned for that! I have to go attack an enraged succubus, duel a SOW member who isn't in my order, click a map square in hope of being confronted with a game at which I don't excel, and... you'll see.

Magic Jack

This is a simple math question. How does $1.70 a month times ANY number of months end up as ANY number ending in a five? The good news is that the annual cost announced is LOWER than $1.70 times 12. The question (apart from the math question) is which one is the consumer actually charged? Is Magic Jack offering a discount for paying for a year in advance, and simply forgetting to mention that discount, or is Magic Jack either bad at math or trying to deceive the consumer, or...? Does anyone reading this actually use Magic Jack and if so, what do you actually pay? And have I used the word "actually" enough yet?