Monthly Archives: October 2006

Does anyone else remember those $3 joke bills that had Bill Clinton’s face on them?

That got me thinking about presidents and currency. It’s interesting to see whose faces we have bestowed the honor of putting on currency. The most recent president to have a face on currency is FDR, who died over sixty years ago.

It got me thinking: Will we ever have a president who is put on currency again? Considering that partisanship is far from a new concept, it’s hard to believe that we got some faces on there at all. Particularly Lincoln and Roosevelt, neither of whom were universally admired when they got the imprint.

We could theoretically replace one of Washington’s or Jefferson’s two appearances. But have we reached the point where a president will never be admired enough that political opponents won’t block attempts to put a more recent president on currency?

The most obvious candidates would be a two-termer. That would mean Eisenhower, Clinton, Reagan, or our current president (assuming that he serves out his term). Maybe Harry Truman. Eisenhower would be the most likely because he is the least controversial (and we’ve tried before on a dollar coin)… but is he the least controversial because he was a war hero and a moderate or simply because he’s the oldest listed? If it’s only a matter of time, is it possible that Clinton, Reagan, or Bush could eventually be given the honor? It sure seems unlikely.

The biggest obstacle, I think, is that we haven’t had any positive defining moments since World War II. The only exception that comes to mind is the Cold War, which would be a point in Reagan’s favor, but only if he is given at least partial credit and Democrats are unlikely to give him that.

So are we stuck?

(Personally, I think the greatest currency-related travesty is that James K. Polk is not on any currency. America would be an entirely different country if it were not for his run (the same could probably not be said of any president post-FDR). If two 19th century Tennesseans is a bit much, replace the much less consequential Andrew Jackson.)

Category: Coffeehouse

This joke is a bit dated, but it still works.

A newly married couple was still getting their bearings down on the marriage. The wife had not yet figured out how to ask the husband for money. She felt a little skittish. She finally devised a strategy:

“Honey, I need to borrow ten dollars. But only give me five.”

“If you need ten, then why are you only asking for five?”

“Because that way I will owe you five and you will owe me five and we will be even.”

Category: Coffeehouse

“All you have to do is answer a pathetically easy question and you get a free XBox 360!” the ad told me.

The funny thing was when I put my mouse over the add, it didn’t matter which answer I clicked, or even if I clicked on the question itself… they all went to the same place, congratulating me for winning. Now, if I would just fill out this questionnaire and subscribe to 40 copies of Vibe magazine, I will be put in a raffle for my free XBox.

One of my giant pet peeves is with companies whose advertising is so blatantly dishonest that I wonder how those that do marketting for these companies can live with themselves. I really wonder how they do. At a dinner party, how do you tell people that you’re the guy that creates those obnoxious Flash ads on web pages that offer something for free that quite obviously isn’t or, more recently, promise to be able to download TV shows and whatnot free and legal when it’s neither.

Case and point: Put the name of a TV show, just about any TV show, into a Google search and GoogleAds will have at least one site offering downloads. Sometimes they say “free!” and sometimes they don’t, but in most cases you can’t download them. One day I was bored and it took 15 minutes of searching around the website to confirm that the show did not exist in their service — even though they were advertising specifically for that series. Of course, it’s all part of a little database they have going, but someone somewhere entered that show into the database knowing full well that it isn’t available.

“What do you do for a living, Mr. Jones?”

“I market a product that doesn’t exist in an effort to get people to come to a website that doesn’t really sell anything in particular but ads to other websites, that usually themselves don’t sell anything in particular.”

My former coworker Edgar was a halfwit. His mind never developed to the point that he could see through it when people could say they are offering an actual service, when in fact they are offering something that doesn’t exist, something that is free anyway, or something that isn’t legal. He signed on to a service that offered “unlimited free and legal music downloads” for $50. It was essentially a software program that latched itself on to Gnutella’s network with a note saying that he needed to find something that was free and track it down and download it himself. He paid $50 and when we explained it all to him he literally started crying.

“What do you do for a living, Mr. Jones?”

“I make dimwitted people cry by taking advantage of their naivete.”

As is frequently the case with new phone numbers, most calls I get on my cell phone are wrong numbers. Since my cell phone is in a different area code than that in which I live, I can usually see them coming. Today, though, I was expecting a phone call so I quickly, and excitedly, answered.

It seems there was this lady on the line that was very generous. You see, she wanted to give me stuff. All kinds of stuff. Free magazines, a free watch… and on and on. Just more and more stuff. Free!

It’s hard to be rude to a lady that’s giving you stuff. It’s hard to say that you don’t want free stuff. That, of course, is how they keep you on the line when they finally tell you that to get all this stuff, you need to buy this one teensy weensy little thing. And join this program. But you can cancel at any time! Any time at all! Just call and cancel and you get to keep all this free stuff.

There ought to be a law. Not banning them from their sales pitch, cause it wasn’t a bad idea and they got my number legitimately (note to self: have a word with my credit card company). But if they want money, they ought to be legally required to tell me so in the first minute of the conversation. That’s all I ask. Then I can save them all a bunch of time because no matter how good the deal is, I will not ever accept an offer from someone that I did not initially contact.

“What do you do for a living, Mr. Jones?”

“I give people stuff for free that they have to pay for.”

Way back when the Internet was younger, my then-girlfriend Julie spent an hour working her way through this website that promised to enter in to a $500 raffle. I was very blunt about how much she was just wasting her time and that there wasn’t a raffle or that her time would be better spent doing just about anything else.

A month or so later she got a check for $500 and I got the taste of fresh crow.

“What do you do for a living, Mr. Jones?”

“I give people stuff for free. Free as in without cost.”

That’s a job I wouldn’t mind so much having, though that actually might be harder to explain to people than actually being an internet marketing scumbag.

Category: Server Room

Rumor has it that SciFi series Battlestar Galactica may be making its way to NBC. NBC is denying it, but it got me thinking: there’s no reason that cable TV can’t be like a farm system for television shows.

More and more, cable channels are creating original programming. The business model has been tested and it works. Because they’re on cable, they don’t take up the timeslot real estate, so the opportunity costs aren’t as high, and they pick up more money with DVDs (which are more costly than their network TV counterparts). All in all, it seems like a good place to experiment. Some, like The Shield, will never really be eligable for network TV. But I don’t see any reason why others, such as Monk, shouldn’t have any problem at all. (They did sort of put Monk on ABC, but only in reruns).

One of the problems that network television has is that it has no idea what people will watch. From what I understand, it’s almost a crapshoot figuring audiences out. Cable provides a great opportunity to have feelers.

So a show could start off on cable. If it does remarkably well there, as Battlestar has, and it’s not something too lurid for broadcast television, they can move the show to broadcast television, rerun the cable episodes on broadcast TV over the summer, and then let even those that don’t have cable enjoy the fun.

More importantly to me, though, it can work in the other direction, too. Sliders, for instance, was originally on broadcast TV. It had a fanbase, but not enough for its network to devote a timeslot to it. If I recall, it lasted longer on cable than it did on TV (although they did have a problem holding on to its cast).

A decade or so ago I ran across a show called Profit, starring Adrian Pasdar. Jim Profit was a rather psychotic businessman trying to work his way up the corporate latter. Yeah, it doesn’t sound that interesting which is why people never tuned in and it was cancelled before the first season was even finished. But the show was really, really good and I think it could have found a pretty natural smaller but more dedicated audience on cable. Another example would be American Gothic, which lasted an entire season before being cancelled. It had “cult status” written all over it.

The thing about “cult status” is that it now has a great business model! Particularly for something like Profit or American Gothic, where production costs are relatively low.

One other thing this would solve would be dangling storylines. If a new show has storylines that span more than an episode or two, it’s almost not worth giving it a shot because you don’t know whether or not the show will be around to have the loose ends satisfyingly tied up. Comic books actually have a similar problem: people don’t invest in new serials because new serials are always cancelled… so sales lag and its cancelled! This is something I believe that networks are going to have to address at some point. Pushing a show to cable would give the networks an opportunity to see if it can survive there or, if it can’t, provide at least some sense of resolution.

So this has sorta been happening, but I would really like to see it formalized somewhat. If the big networks are going to also own most of the cable channels, they should put it to better use.

Category: Theater

Though I can’t prove it, I am an Estocadan.

For roughly two days about nine months ago, I was without a wallet. I didn’t have any cash, so I couldn’t get any identification. Without identification, I couldn’t withdraw any money. And the DMV wouldn’t take a check without a valid ID. It took some begging and pleading to get myself out of that jam.

Naturally, the wallet appeared two days later.

Legally, when something like this happens you are supposed to surrender or destroy the duplicate. That was no skin off of my nose as the picture was much better on the original. I decided, however, the become an outlaw and hold on to it just in case I lost my wallet again. Nevermind that I never found a place for it and ended up keeping in my wallet. Besides defeating the purpose, it significantly increased the likelihood that I would get caught.

The drivers license was the last piece of business that I took care of. Auto registration is a revenue-generator for some states, so they get really pissy when people don’t register after moving. Also, the vehicle must be registered in your resident county. Since I got a job in a neighboring county, I had to take care of that before I started working as I could take care of the drivers license during lunch. And you have to have your car registered to get a license. I don’t know what you’re supposed to do if you don’t actually own a car, but I was almost denied because I had forgotten my car registration paperwork. Who knew being an adult was so complicated?

So after passing the eye test, getting my picture taken, and all that jazz, I am given some pathetic little slip of paper called a “temporary driving permit.” It takes them a bloody three weeks to send me the actual license. Deseret, being the efficient little colony that it is, prints them on the spot.

So Clancy and I decided to go out to a music show last Friday at a bar. Fortunately for me, I had only surrendered one of my licenses. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to buy alcohol. My teetotalling wife would have had to buy it for me.

Moral of the story: it pays to lose your wallet and it pays to be an outlaw.

Category: Downtown

I saw the movie Jackass 2 over the weekend.

I have some mixed feelings about it. On one hand, it is a better example of cultural trash than one can imagine. I mean, there is no artistic value to be savaged from the moral wreckery that was the runtime of this movie. No socially redeeming anything.

And yet I found it thoroughly entertaining. More than entertaining… engrossing (no pun intended). Worth every penny and minute spent… and yet I am no intellectually or spiritually wealthier because of it.

In some ways I think this is an extreme example of a conflict I feel a lot. I am in the camp that the sexualization and violence that pervades our music and television are harmful to society. Gangsta rap songs don’t create murderers, but they foster a culture in which moral depravity is indicative not of moral weakness, but of some perverse sort of strength.

And yet I enjoy some of the music of Eminem. It’s not only catchy, but it’s interesting. I could give a rousing argument about how (in his first two CDs, anywhere) there is a strong moral dimension wherein the narrator’s actions are the cause of his destruction. A destruction, unlike in much other rap, that is anything but glorious. But I also recognize that Eminem’s music was and is digested by a large number of people that dug any deeper than the most superficial message and appreciated it for some of the wrong reasons, much as many people that laughed at Archie Bunker didn’t realize that they were supposed to be the butt of the joke.

So how can I believe as I do that cultural filters, and even broadcast censorship, are often helpful and then on the other enjoy entertainment that would fall on the wrong side of any such filters?

About the only way I can figure it is that violence, sex, degradation, and dark post-modernism are like cultural junk food. The worst stuff, like Jackass 2, is analogous to cotton candy. There’s other stuff that is heavy on violence and/or sex in the context of something much larger, and that would be like beef. There’s some healthy stuff in there, but it’s usually made fattier than it needs to be and at least some of the healthier stuff can go down in other ways.

The problem is when a society’s cultural diet becomes inundated with junk food. Like would be boring with spinach, brocolli, and the History Channel, but we have to prevent everything from coasting to candy canes and MTV.

Category: Theater

I read some time ago that a study was done. Well, I have read frequently about many studies, but this study involves foods percieved to be healthy and how Americans think food is better if it is bad for us. I can’t remember the specifics, but I think it involved calling non-low-fat hamburgers low-fat and vice-versa.

I must confess, I think that I am in that category. Decadence is delicious!

The other day I got some canned “organic chili” cause it sounded like it would be less obnoxious to my body than the regular canned stuff. It tasted really good! They put some garlic and onion in there and it had a somewhat unique taste. What I didn’t realize in addition to being “organic” it also didn’t have any meat.

It was too late, as I had already decided that I liked it, but I am sure that if I’d known it had soy and tofu I would have hated it.

Category: Kitchen

Abel has an insightful post from a little while back on physical intimacy with a widower. I haven’t much to say on that, but it reminded me of the philosophy I came to on dating and intimacy.

Several years ago I was very close to a young lady named Silke Modaber. Silke was 19 or so and a virgin, due at least in part by her Catholic upbringing. While in college she was seriously dating a guy named Vernon. Vernon was her first serious boyfriend and, as far as such things go, almost “out of her league.” Before too long, she said that she had been thinking about having sex with him and asked for my input.

I actually had to think hard about how to answer. In most circumstances, I would be encouraging provided that he or she was comfortable with it. But I also knew that when we first met she had intended to save herself for marriage and I hated to see her give up something that was once so important to her for a guy that I viewed as a non-permanent fixture in her life. Yet it would have been hypocritical for me to tell her not to when I certainly never waited for marriage, even though at some point I intended to.

I wasn’t in a position to tell her not to and yet that was my advice. It got me thinking a lot about the subject.

I eventually posited it as a what-if. The question I asked her was whether or not she would regret having had sex with him if the relationship doesn’t work out. That way, if it was part of some effort to hold on to him (though their relationship wasn’t in trouble) or if she was just getting impatient, it would at least expose those motives for what they were (even if it didn’t change her course of action).

The more I thought about it, the sounder this philosophy was. I fleshed out the question a little more and it became “if the relationship cratered before it doubled in length, would you regret having done it?” In other words, if you just met the guy would it be a problem if there was no relationship after? If you’ve been with him for six months, would you regret it if it didn’t quite make a year? Yes? Then you probably shouldn’t do it.

Of course, such advice always sounds better to the person giving it than the person recieving it. She said it was a moot point because their relationship wasn’t going to end, she just knew it.

So she did.

And it did.

And I comforted her when she cried and cried.

Category: Coffeehouse

This post is a test. It is only a test. If this were an actual post, there would be content here of interest to somebody.

Category: Server Room

This post is a test. It is only a test. If this were an actual post, there would be content here of interest to somebody.

Category: Server Room